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Hey There Demons It's Me, Ya Girl

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Chapter One - Do You Believe In Ghosts? 

 

Lena gets bored in Hell. It’s lonely, it’s dark, it’s cold - weirdly enough - which makes the phrase when Hell freezes over absolutely untrue because it is basically always frozen. And while Lena has always felt that icy coldness down to her inhuman bones it's only been made worse with her mother running things now. 

 

Because she has expectations for Lena now. Expectations that Lex doesn't have. Expectations that she’s never wanted. 

 

Sam tells her most of the higher demons in her position would kill for their progenitor to be in charge - to be in line for the throne. 

 

She’s not. She pretends to be, she pretends to enjoy taking souls, she pretends to do all of it. 

 

But she hates it. 

 

And while her brother enjoys his assignment as head of torturing, sometimes coming to her for fresh ideas on how to mentally destroy his suffering charges - she’s not really on board with the whole endless suffering bit. 

 

So she takes a lower level job and decides she’ll just haunt a house for a few months. Make a few groaning noises. Possibly a couple scratches on the walls or on whoever lives there. Rattle some floorboards and pipes and scare someone  and then she’ll come back to her own endless suffering. 

 

Her mother argues and tells her it’s not a good look for one of the potential heirs to just go haunt a house, that she’s losing her edge over Lex, that it reflects poorly on the family and their strength and anyone could go for a coup if they’re perceived as weak. 

 

She hits back with if the lower level demons see her doing some grunt work - they’ll respect them more and fight for them if a coup should ever arise.

 

Her mother doesn’t have an argument against it so Lena arrives at 112 Swift Street, a long thought haunted and abandoned house, now Paranormal Tourist Museum, and hopes to get a little reading in while she chills out Earthside and occasionally reinforces that the house is haunted. 

 

And then Kara Danvers enters the house with a camera, a phone recorder, and pure unadulterated belief/audacity that Lena just watches - incorporeal and part of the shadows - as Kara converses with air in the hopes she’ll capture the “demonic entity” that haunts 112 Swift Street. 

 

And there’s something about her that stops Lena from making a scary shadow, moving a door or something, and sending her on her way with a story and a scream. 

 

There’s something about the sheer warmth that seems to just radiate off of her without any effort, that has Lena frozen where she hides. Even in a dark house, with it’s carefully dusted furniture and preserved, supposedly haunted, artifacts complete with old photos - one of which Lena knows is herself from decades ago - Kara Danvers lights up a room. 

 

And Lena feels it instantly. 

 

She feels something so good about Kara, so opposite about the human being out here than the ones being tortured in Hell, than the other things she surrounds herself with in Hell it’s almost intoxicating. 

 

Like a moth, she finds herself drawn to it. Hoping for that light to touch her just a bit, just enough, that she doesn’t feel cold anymore. That she can feel anything that isn’t darkness. 

 

So she doesn’t scare her, not right away, she just watches as Kara moves from room to room, talking about the history of the house, her tension and fear rising with each step, and Lena finds herself wishing she were seen, that Kara’s light could touch her, that she could feel that sun. 

 

And then Kara starts getting frustrated with the silence and Lena wonders about this human, wonders what brought them here, to this house, with a phone and a camera. Lena follows her through the living room, the kitchen and then up the stairs. 

 

She watches Kara take a heavy breath, adjust her glasses, and walk into the supposedly most haunted room in the house - the attic - and she announces:

 

“This is Kara Danvers with CatCo Magazine trying to prove the existence of ghosts and demons and I am asking whoever or whatever is in this house to speak to me,” she says, waving her phone around as she walks through the room and jumps when the floorboard creaks because she herself has stepped on it. 

 

Lena tries not to, she really does, but ultimately the laugh is pulled from her, unbidden, genuine, and with no warning. She’s just as surprised by it as Kara is. 

 

The phone captures it. 

 

And then Lena is silent, deathly silent, and her own fear, her own sigh of frustration chills the house, and Kara runs from the room with a “Nope! No...no...no!” 

 

She’s gone from the house not a full minute later and Lena feels the warmth fade and she’s alone again. 

 

She sighs. Calls back the lower level demon whose assignment is 112 Swift Street and finds herself unable to stop thinking about Kara Danvers, CatCo Magazine, trying to prove the existence of ghosts and who ran the second she caught a disembodied voice on her phone's recorder. 

 

She doesn’t return to Hell. 

 

Instead, not two days after the house incident, Lena Luthor, solid and as human passing as she can be with her dark hair and green eyes, walks into CatCo Magazine and gets herself a job working with Kara Danvers. 

 

It’s not that she goes in to get the job, it’s not that she goes in to stalk Kara - she goes in to delete the recording. A real recording of her actual laugh and her actual voice and it’s not like anyone can prove it’s her, but…

 

If someone from Hell finds out her actual voice is on an actual recording. It’s going to cause some problems. Because it’s okay to give proof that can be argued over, it’s okay to shake some pipes or do some growls and scratches - maybe even a possession here or there - but to capture the actual voice, the real self - that’s not allowed. 

 

Especially if your mother runs Hell. 

 

So she has no choice but to find CatCo Magazine and try to find the recording and delete it. 

 

At least that’s what she tells herself. 

 

If she thinks maybe she can run into Kara Danvers and that this time Kara will see her - that’s another thought entirely. 

 

A thought she buries because she shouldn’t have it, she can’t have it, she can’t be in Kara’s life or any human beings life. She’s evil and darkness and shadow and Kara is not, and it starts to feel a little stalkery the more she thinks about possibly seeing the blonde in person, in the light of day, hopefully wearing a smile, maybe wearing that blue sweater she was wearing two nights ago, but Lena stops that thought before it can go any further. 

 

Because it’s wrong and weird and again kind of stalkery. 

 

And there’s a few souls in Hell who are there for that reason and she may be evil but she’s not a stalker. 

 

She’s just there to delete the stupid laugh from Kara’s stupid phone and then she’ll go back to her stupid little Hell pit and torture people for all eternity. 

 

She pretends she’s there for a job interview, might use some of her own dark energy to get her foot in the door, and while she might scare half the staff almost immediately, which is good or so she tells herself, before she can delete the recording, Cat Grant who strikes Lena as not someone who rattles easily, seems quite impressed that Lena meets her eyes in the interview and before Lena even really knows what’s happening, can even sort of locate the recording and do some dark energy to the phone and destroy it completely --  

 

She ends up with a job. 

 

Cat calls Kara into the office and while everyone else was unnerved by her, Kara greets her with a smile and a handshake and says, “I wish I brought you a planner, it’s like a first day tradition in my house.” 

 

And Lena finds herself suddenly unable to speak, finds herself looking at the phone in question in Kara’s hands and unable to do anything to it. Because Kara is there, Kara is right there and her voice is kind and warm and Lena can’t help but smile, actually smile, and she’s not one to smile easily or ever. 

 

And then, Lena clears her throat and just says, “In my house, the first day tradition was a full dossier on your...tutors.” It’s not a total lie, it’s not completely accurate because the tutors were torturing tutors and the dossiers were profiles of the victims complete with fears and biggest regrets but Kara doesn’t need to know that. No one needs to know that. 

 

The awkward silence that follows is something Lena saves for later if she’s ever asked for any pitches for group torture. 

 

And Cat Grant intervenes, pointing between them, “Kiera…meet Lena, Lena this is Kiera, work that Halloween thing with her.” 

 

“What? I’m sorry Ms. Grant but I can’t do that anymore. It’s…scary...” Cat stares Kara down and Lena momentarily wonders if she got her name wrong or if Kara just hasn’t corrected anyone and Lena once again thinks she should just leave but Kara falls silent. 

 

She turns to Lena and asks, “Do you believe in ghosts?” 

 

And Lena tries not to laugh, tries not to repeat the incident at the haunted house and just lies, just shakes her head and bites down a smile as she says, “No.” 

 

“Perfect, play off that,” Cat says and waves them out of her office and Lena, who sincerely just came in to delete her dumb laugh and leave now finds herself teaming up with the human equivalent of sunshine, Kara Danvers, who wholeheartedly believes in ghosts and demons and spooky things while Lena has to pretend she doesn’t even as she is that very spooky thing. 

 

And if she’s being honest with herself, she’s not not happy about it, she’s actually quite excited about the opportunity to get to know Kara, whose name is Kara despite what Cat calls her, and she feels a little too indulgent, feels a little like this is a really bad idea, but finds herself not caring even when she finds herself able to delete the laugh but doesn’t, because getting to follow Kara to these haunted locations for the next month at the very least sounds like she’s just been given a gift. 

 

The first gift she’s ever been given in her whole existence. A gift she intends to keep. 

 

“I thought your name was Kara,” Lena asks and Kara laughs a little. 

 

“It is.” 

 

“But Cat Grant just…” 

 

“Yeah.” And that seems to end that conversation because then Kara leads Lena to her desk, a shared workspace they will both now have, and there are files and notes and Lena recognizes some of the places from assignments down in Hell and others just look like old buildings, and there’s notes on cults and all manner of paranormal things that Lena’s eyes glaze over reading. 

 

Kara pulls a chair over and tries to cover some of the files. 

 

“I know it’s weird but it’s Halloween and I pitched a stupid thing and now I’m stuck with it.” 

 

“You believe in all this stuff?” Lena asks, her voice quiet. 

 

Kara waves her hands as she talks, “Yeah! One time when I was in college I visited this hotel and the sink turned on by itself...I took a video!” 

 

And Kara shows Lena the video of the faucet turning on and Lena just shrugs and says, “It’s an old faucet it was probably just leaking.” And Kara looks at her with such indignation that Lena laughs, just a little, and it gives Kara pause. 

 

Lena clears her throat then and Kara just continues, her voice awkward and forced as she goes, “Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do like a ghost adventures type thing and then I realized I would actually have to go to these places, but Ms. Grant seemed to like the idea and I guess it has traction online or whatever, but no one else here wanted to help me and now you’re sort of forced to which I’m sorry about but...we get to go to some cool places on the company’s dime. And we get food!” 

 

Lena finds herself just listening to Kara ramble about her idea and realizing that this might be fun. She thinks Hell won’t miss her for the next month. 

 

“So you’re like a real ghost investigator then,” Lena states and Kara shrugs. 

 

“I mean I don’t know about like a legit investigator, I believe but I did get this spirit box thing.” Kara shows her and Lena internally groans - because oh no not one of those things. 

 

And while she hates it, she’s pretty sure all ghosts and demons do, she just says, “Well, you could have fooled me.” 

 

And Kara smiles wide and bright and Lena knows she’s a goner and that if Kara really is going to walk into these places - Lena’s going to need to help her out, maybe not with finding proof, but just stopping her from getting haunted or worse. 

 

Because while some of the places on Kara’s list are definitely just old - there’s a few that Lena knows for sure house things who aren’t going to be as taken with her as she is - and one that might actually be just a creepy cult.  

 

And if some of the occupants of those places just annoy Lena and this can be a chance to just get them right back while hanging out with Kara Danvers, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWO: THE GHOSTS OF THE TOYMAKER’S HOUSE

 

“I’m sorry, you’re willingly going to go into haunted locations with some person you don’t really know and try to capture ghosts on film?” Alex asks as she takes a slice of pizza and Kara shrugs, sipping her wine trying to find a better way to explain it but there really isn’t. 

 

And then Alex is laughing, hard, to the point of tears, “You…you’re terrified of old houses…how did this…” and she’s wheezing, “How did you even end up with this?” 

 

“I pitched a ghost hunting show because I panicked in a meeting and did not think it through,” Kara admits, taking another sip of her wine. 

 

“And the new one?” Alex wipes at her eyes, still catching her breath from the laughing fit, remembering a moment when they were younger, when the family took a trip to Disney and Kara had been so excited to go to the Haunted Mansion, waiting in line for hours with Alex, only to get to the front door where they were next in line and freak out at the ghostly makeup of the door man who proclaimed, ‘no more bodies could fit’ and they would have to wait. 

 

Alex had to walk her little sister back through the line they had waited in for like two hours and learned how easy it would be to scare Kara over the years, with creaking footsteps, whispers, even an occasional knock and scary Halloween mask. 

 

So the idea of her now, willingly, walking into a scary house that was not a ride with makeup and puppets was…delightful. 

 

“What’s it called? I want to get on this subscription immediately,” Alex types into her phone. 

 

“Lena and I are workshopping titles.” 

 

“Whose Lena?” 

 

“My new partner. She’s new new to Catco and she kind of got stuck with me, she seems nice, I’ve only really spoken to her about ghosts and the fact she doesn’t believe in them, but…she seems nice. If not, skeptical.”

 

“She hot?” Alex asks, looking up at Kara. 

 

“You’re married.”

 

“Not for my own interests. Also that’s not a no.”

 

“She’s not un-attractive. I mean if I was…into that sort of thing.” 

 

“Hot people?” Alex jokes and Kara rolls her eyes.

 

“So what’s it called? Your spooky ghost show with this not un-attractive Lena?”

 

“Right now we’re between Ghost Gals and CatCo Investigates: The Supernatural.” 

 

“Do not call yourselves the Ghost Gals, but also please do,” Alex practically begs, “It’ll make a great t-shirt.” 

 

“Lena hates that one too.”

 

“Aw, you already have a nickname she hates.”

 

“Stop, I don’t even know her, I don’t even know where she lives, or who she is, I just met her, we’re co-workers, she doesn’t even have a Twitter or Instagram.” 

 

“Maybe she’s a ghost and that’ll be the real investigation,” Alex widens her eyes and hums the X-Files theme song and Kara shakes her head. 

 

“Or maybe you should do that thing that grown ups do and get to know the person you’re going into these haunted places with. Maybe you’ll even be friends.”

 

“Maybe. I don’t know, I can’t get a good read on her, I mean I know she’s probably a good person and I would love to be her friend but…I don’t know. Anyway, Cat Grant is probably just going to call it CatCo Investigates,” Kara states, walking over to her couch and turning on the tv, “Can we watch the movie now and forget about this?” 

 

Alex finds the CatCo Investigates the Supernatural announcement by one Nia Nal and bookmarks that as well. 

 

“Oh you already have an episode?” 

 

Kara jumps at that and leans over Alex’s shoulder to the five minute video posted under, as she correctly guessed, CatCo Investigates: The Supernatural. 

 

“Oh no,” Kara states, “That’s the Swift Street House.” 

 

And Alex hits play, watches a shorter and edited version of Kara’s first investigation, watches as she talks about the history of the house, brief and uninteresting, and watches as Kara records a laugh and runs. 

 

Alex, in turn, laughs and replays the final moments a few times until Kara tells her enough. 

 

“I guess it’s good you’ll have someone to talk to who will keep you in the house if anything happens.” Alex replays it one more time. 

 

“Yeah, sure,” Kara mutters, “A co-worker to keep me in the haunted house.” 

 

“I can’t wait to watch you scream at air, while Lena walks around confused, and you two have lots of fun getting to know each other and becoming friends, because if I know you at all, you will become friends with this person. I think you’ve got a hit, Kara,” Alex takes another bite of her pizza and bookmarks Kara’s twitter and CatCo’s just to be safe because she really does not want to miss the next episode.

 

“You’re just saying that because you’re my sister,” Kara remarks, pulling up the movie. 

 

“No, I’m saying that because I actually want to watch this and if I want to watch this, other people will want to watch this, because I rarely want to watch anything, and because you’re my sister.” Alex smiles and settles in next to Kara and they watch the movie. 

 

---

 

Lena learns very quickly that Kara likes to talk and likes to ask a lot of questions. She’s not sure why, she’s not sure how to respond exactly, but Kara just barrages her and sits next to her and in between discussing what the plan for the show is, Kara talks and Lena can’t help but listen. 

 

She learns that Kara loves potstickers and snack foods and just food in general and keeps a small stash of chips and candy in their shared desk. She learns that Kara has cleared out a drawer in said shared desk for Lena to keep anything she wants in. She learns that Kara did that when she came in early this morning and in turn, also brought coffee but wasn’t sure how Lena took hers so she just kept it black and had cream and sugar on the side in case she wanted that. 

 

“Black is perfect,” Lena tells her and she learns Kara has a few different smiles, and this one in particular comes with a scrunched nose and a ducking of her head that Lena wants to see more often. 

 

She also learns to think of quick lies and that she may need to acquire an apartment in case Kara visits - because she may have accidentally said she was looking for one and Kara is now bombarding her with suggestions in addition to trying to get to know her new investigating partner. 

 

She learns that Kara is overly helpful when she’s trying to get to know someone new, and she learns that Kara really seems to want this to work out, their partnership. 

 

It’s a busy week. 

 

“Okay I can’t decide, both are not fun,” Kara says looking between a haunted house in New York and an asylum near Gotham City. 

 

Lena does not get a good vibe off the abandoned asylum and while Kara is all for a deeply historic building, she knows better, “Why don’t we do the asylum as the finale?” Lena asks. 

 

“I guess that would be a good finale, it’s a big building, we could get a lot of content out of it,” Kara agrees and Lena holds up the house in New York. 

 

“Then that’s settled,” Lena states. 

 

“Do you really not believe in ghosts?” Kara asks, waving a picture of the brick house, “You take a look at a building like this and you really don’t believe?” 

 

“I believe what I can see,” Lena tries but Kara scoffs. 

 

“Typical skeptic.” 

 

And Lena tries not to laugh at that, because she really isn’t, she really really isn’t, she does believe what she can see and she has seen the real side of the supernatural, but she doesn’t believe every old building is haunted - statistically they can’t be. 

 

Still, she has to play it up. 

 

“How are we doing this?” 

 

“We should start with like the history, the stories, the famous ghosts of each place and then we’ll cut with the investigation, typical stuff with that. Nia is going to handle the social media side and the editing, she’s really good at that and Brainy is going to be our third camera, we’ll have our own handhelds but he’ll get all the big stuff.” 

 

“Brainy?” Lena asks and as if on cue the young man with long hair rounds the corner. 

 

“And I also don’t believe in ghosts so we will get no shaky camera movements,” he says as he holds out his hand for Lena to shake. 

 

“And that’s the team,” Nia Nal says as she too joins the corner desks where Kara and Lena sit, “I refuse to go anywhere near these but I will make sure all the travel is accounted for,” she winks. 

 

“You do the travel itinerary, the editing, and cover the social media?” Lena asks as she looks at the young woman, her eyes betraying a sense of perpetual tiredness, and even in Hell that much work would be some kind of torture for some human, she’s sure of it. 

 

“Well when Cat Grant pulls everyone off on ‘real’ news stories, you get to do the fun stuff, not that…I don’t mean that sarcastically, it’s just…I’m the lowest on the totem pole so…” She shrugs then and falls silent, looking to Kara to save her. 

 

Which she does, “And it’s only because she’s so good at wearing all of those hats that she gets the responsibility.” Kara smiles and compliments and Nia looks relieved. Lena wonders how one person can be so kind and caring and supportive all at once and she learns that Kara Danvers is just that kind.  

 

“Nice job on the first episode by the way, Nia,” Brainy compliments and Lena chokes on her coffee. 

 

“First episode?” 

 

And they all say at the same time, “Swift Street.” 

 

And Lena wonders, not for the first time, if she should have just smashed Kara’s phone and run that day she walked into CatCo, if she should have just done it at Swift Street. Wonders if this is the worst idea she’s ever had, and wonders again if anyone is going to put it together that it is, in fact, her laughing in that video, that it’s her who is the ghost in the house, that it’s her who scared Kara without really meaning to. 

 

But then Kara asks her where she worked before this and she lies, stupidly and poorly, by saying she was an assistant to her mother who was running a rather large business, and when Kara asks what business, Lena lies again and says it’s like an advisement and financial thing and Kara just accepts that - so Lena thinks maybe she won’t actually put together the laugh thing anytime soon. 

 

She could just disappear and not show up for work tomorrow, not show up to take a plane to Brooklyn and not do this episode, the first episode, but Kara is actually excited despite being terrified and she says as much, repeats as much, over and over again and then asks Lena if she wants to get something to eat after work, if she wants to have a drink and they can talk more, they can get to know each other because they're going to be working together, because Kara wants to preemptively apologize for who she is going to become when the spooky sounds hit, and Lena knows she can’t just disappear tonight. 

 

She just says yes and thinks about disappearing after the first episode is finished. She owes Kara that much. 

 

And when they’re at the bar, all four of them, and Kara is talking about favorite movies intermixed with random knowledge about serial killers and cults and all the research she’s been doing into all these lesser known and scary things, Lena just listens and learns she likes hearing Kara talk about all these things she knows.

 

She likes the way Kara’s hands move around of their own accord, at her excitement, at her joy to share the knowledge she has. 

 

And even in the pauses, where Lena wonders if Kara has taken enough of a breath to continue, she just listens more and wonders what it is about this person, this human being, that has her so worried about making her happy, about disappointing her, that has her seeking and hoping to be near her warmth. 

 

It’s never been like this before. 

 

No human being, no demon, nothing has ever made Lena this unsure, has ever made her lie like this, has ever had her actively looking at apartments because Kara suggested it two days ago, has her pretending her favorite movie is Titanic when she’s never even seen it, has her agreeing that Taylor Swift is the voice of a generation when she doesn’t and hasn’t really listened to her, because that’s not allowed in Hell - well it is, but not for her - because she’s the Queen’s daughter now, she’s a potential heir, and the heir doesn’t do favorite movies or artists, the heir is a mystery shrouded in darkness and pain and torture, is the darkest future, is a dark hope for the future, the heir is vicious and unrelenting.

 

And right now, the heir is snorting into her drink because Kara is imitating the iconic Fatality of Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat in an argument as to why said Kombatant? Hero? Lena isn’t sure. Why Sub-Zero would win in a fight against The Terminator, and while Lena is aware of the Fatality - having seen her brother use it at one point on someone in Hell  and it was just as gross as it looks in the game - she’s also fairly certain she can’t be called the heir right now, she’s pretty sure she’s going to have her own place in Hell carved out for her own torture courtesy of her mother.  

 

She bites down more laughter as Brainy and Kara move into an argument about the existence of ghosts, as Brainy repeats that, “science hasn’t proven it,” and Kara just lets out a breath, scoffs and finishes her third drink and is back to waving her hands.

 

“Science hasn’t proven the existence of soulmates or true love but we all believe those exist! Some things can’t be proven by science! You just have to have faith!” 

 

“I don’t believe in soulmates,” Brainy argues and Kara looks about ready to explode.

 

“How?!”

 

“One person destined for you? In a world that has over six billion people in it? No. I don’t believe in it. And the chances of you meeting them would be…”

 

“Astronomically high,” Lena finishes and Brainy points in agreement. 

 

“You two are so…boring. And not fun,” Kara tries. 

 

And then Lena does laugh, truly, but it’s covered by the loud bar and she’s grateful because Nia is checking her phone and blinking and doing a double take because – 

 

“Nia, your thoughts?” Brainy asks, looking at her. 

 

“The laugh has over a thousand shares already,” Nia says, somewhat astounded, and Lena sinks a little in her seat. 

 

This isn’t good, maybe it’ll never get back to Hell - but she knows it’s going to at some point, and even if her mother doesn’t recognize that it’s her, because she’s sure she’s never heard her laugh, she’ll question that someone was caught in a genuine voice, with genuine joy, and it’ll spiral from there. 

 

“Really?” Brainy asks and he’s leaning over her shoulder, watching the counts go up and Nia nods, impressed and Kara reddens a little at the sound of her scream. 

 

“I understand why Cat wanted someone for you to play off of,” Brainy points between her and Lena, “Someone who isn’t going to run away.” 

 

“Because she doesn’t believe,” Nia adds, “Which is good, great, in fact, you should really lean into that.” 

 

“In what way?” Lena asks and why is she asking, this is not a good idea, she should not be doing this, she should quit right now. She should quit and run and never look back. 

 

“I mean Kara is the one who's scared,” Nia starts. 

 

Kara sits up in her seat, “I’m not scared…” 

 

But Nia cuts her off, “Yes, you are, and that’s good because Lena isn’t, in fact, she doesn’t believe so much she doesn’t really care what the ghosts do or what she says to them. But you do and that’s fun to watch. Balancing each other.”

 

“And what does that mean for us?” Kara asks, pointing between herself and Lena, “I am scared of the ghosts but Lena isn’t. What does that mean?” 

 

“You will speak to them respectfully and with fear but Lena can…not do that.”  

 

“You want me to make fun of the ghosts?” Lena asks, sitting up in her seat a little too, mirroring Kara without meaning to. 

 

“I mean basically.” Nia shrugs. 

 

“I don’t think you should make fun of them, they might get angry,” Kara says and Lena smiles despite herself, tries not to laugh because in the very short time Lena has gotten to know Kara, the idea of her feeling bad for hurting the ghosts feelings and being nervous the ghosts will actually make an appearance on the show designed to capture ghosts, softens her cold heart in a way nothing ever has. 

 

And once again she can’t help but think this is just a very very bad idea, humans and demons do not hang out, they do not hunt ghosts together, they do not work together and humans, especially, should not make a demon smile in a way that is not sinister or evil. 

 

But Brainy asks about the house they’re going to, if they’re going to check into the hotel first and what time the flight is all in one breath and Nia talks about the travel itinerary, down to when the cars will be picking them up - Lena has to lie and say she’s currently staying with a relative, which, technically she’s just occupying someone’s penthouse who owes a debt - and she’ll be outside when the car arrives.

 

And then Kara is all too excited to talk about the house and its history and the story that surrounds it. And before she can really get going, she stops herself so fast her face turns red again, biting her tongue and stating, teasing, “You’ll just have to hear about it when we get there,” to Lena and giving her a wink. 

 

Lena swallows down more cheap whiskey to stop herself from choking on the implication of what the wink does to her, on the fact that it makes her heart sputter just a beat and she can’t really pull on that thread because…she has to leave. She has to leave before it gets worse. 

 

They go their separate ways, the night feeling light and quiet and breezy with a fall chill that somehow feels full of possibility. 

 

Lena freezes at a corner and watches the retreating back of Kara, watches blonde waves dance as she hails a cab and she tries to stop herself from missing the warmth that’s gone when she leaves, tries to imagine it and hold it as it fades from her as fast as a fleeting glance or passing car and the cold sets in again. 

 

She knows she shouldn’t want that warmth, she knows she shouldn’t crave it or lean into it. She knows that it’s not safe for her or Kara, she knows that other demons have tried to touch the sun and fallen further, have gone worse than what they once were, have lost themselves and turned into mangled twisted things that not even darkness can cover. 

 

She knows she should return home. 

 

She knows she should just recede back below, pretend this didn’t happen, tell her mother some story about trying to capture a good soul and move on with her endless days. 

 

She knows she shouldn’t continue whatever it is she thinks she’s doing and she’s not even really sure at this point - because it’s not to destroy a laugh, that’s done, it’s not to try to cover up some discovery, it’s - she doesn’t really know, she’s just sticking around and she knows she really shouldn’t. 

 

But she shows up for the flight the next day and feels her heart beat a little faster, the heart that only beats when she’s Earthside, as Kara smiles and waves at her in the airport. She makes a deal with herself and thinks they should at least get through the first show, that maybe then Lena can disappear, maybe then she can let Kara down, make up something about how it isn’t working and that she has to go back home, maybe then she can leave and not look back or feel bad for it. 

 

She thinks she’s getting better at lying. 

 

Or so she wishes, because when she’s on the flight with Kara, sitting next to her, Kara holds her hand during takeoff, gripping Lena’s hand so tight Lena thinks she must have some sort of super strength, she says, “I’m sorry I really don’t like flying.” 

 

And Lena lies and says she doesn’t either but makes up something, some permission that Kara can grab her hand whenever turbulence hits if it makes her feel better.  

 

And if it’s an excuse to get to hold Kara’s hand and feel that warmth even more, well…Kara doesn’t need to know that part. 

 

And when Kara offers her M&M’S, she lies again and says they’re her favorite even if she doesn’t know. It’s not that she’s never eaten any food when she’s been Eartshide, it’s more that she doesn’t need to and hasn’t had anyone offer candy to her. But she eats them and thinks they could be in a list of favorites, right there with pizza, and she adds that it isn’t a lie if you don’t know the truth and tries to mentally weight her lies in the hopes that if Kara ever found out the truth, she wouldn’t feel so betrayed. 

 

She also realizes that if Kara ever found out the truth she’d run for the hills, as she should, and Lena wouldn’t blame her at all. 

 

When the plane lands and Kara holds her hand again, for about the fifth time during the flight because of the turbulence moments, not that Lena is keeping count, Lena once again can’t help but hear her mother’s voice telling her that demons aren’t soft and that the heir can’t lose their head over holding hands, that she should grip this poor human’s hands, make a deal, take her soul, and add one more to Hell’s army, to her army, to her collection. 

 

But Lena buries that voice with Kara’s rambling about the statistics of flight travel. 

 

“Technically they are still the safest way to travel and we only really hear about the bad ones because they’re rare. And if we were hurtling to our deaths, the oxygen would have us high as shit before we actually died, so you wouldn’t know, which doesn’t actually make me feel better now that I think about it.” Kara blinks and shakes her head as the plane hits the tarmac, it’s squeaking wheels and bouncing making her stomach flip. 

 

“Yeah you should have stopped talking.” Lena strains against the seat belt as the plane stops and then taxis towards the gate and Kara is still holding her hand. She tries not to focus on it, on the feel of the other woman’s fingers in hers, on how right it feels, on how well they seem to just fit and instead just focuses on Kara, who is still talking. 

 

“Do you think there could be like a ghost on a plane? Like a ghost plane?” 

 

“Wait, a plane that’s a ghost that disappeared or just a ghost on a plane?” 

 

“Both?” Kara questions and then seems to realize they’re still holding hands, she drops Lena’s and apologizes.

 

Lena just shrugs and answers, “No.” 

 

And Lena doesn’t say it to be mean, she says it in a soft whisper that somehow makes Kara feel better, as she flexes her hand and feels the warmth fading from her own finger tips but not quite gone all the way, because Kara is still sitting next to her. 

 

Lena knows she has to get out after this episode, she has to help Kara get some evidence and then she has to leave.

 

It’ll be better for everyone if she leaves. Especially for Kara.  

 

---

 

“So this is it,” Kara says, her voice nervous as they stare at the old brick house in Brooklyn, marked with a sign that proclaims it “voted the most haunted building in America three years in a row” by the Travel Channel. 

 

“It looks quaint,” Lena says, ignoring the camera behind her operated by Brainy.

 

“This is a pretty well known house in Brooklyn, home of The Toymaker, a serial killer who killed kids with his toys, ones he invented, he even killed his own son, but it’s supposedly so haunted every single ghost hunter has caught something. Which is why we’re here for our first episode.” 

 

“He killed his son?” Lena asks, taking the moment to look at Kara, holding her camera to the brick house as they approach the door, Kara, hesitant as they get closer. She adds in a voice filled with disdain, “What an asshole.” 

 

“No, let’s not call the ghosts assholes, especially the evil serial killer ones.”

 

“Why not? He killed his son and a bunch of kids with toys, he’s an asshole.” And Lena wonders if he’s in Hell somewhere, if she could find him, if he’s perhaps been sentenced to haunt his old house as his punishment for murdering children and his own son, or if he’s just stuck in some torture room of his own - or if, hopefully not, he’s thriving down below as some sort of lesser torturer. 

 

She hadn’t been able to get a good read on the place from it’s file alone, a file that she had okayed while simultaneously trying to get Kara off the actually very haunted and very dangerous hotel file she had - a hotel that she’s pretty sure sits on some sort of nexus of dark energy and would have probably resulted in an actual death as opposed to a fun ghost adventuring episode. 

 

“Well, when I tell you all about him, you’ll understand why you don’t want to antagonize him,” Kara says, looking into Brainy’s camera as they reach the door. 

 

“I’ll try to be respectful,” Lena lies, reaching for the door, “After you.” 

 

But Kara stops and takes the door from Lena, “No, after you,” she says in a shaky voice, her hands gripping the door handle. 

 

And Lena looks at her, an amused expression on her face as she pretends to hesitate, pretends to be scared, just a little, and then walks right in like it’s any other building. 

 

“Okay, is this going to be the thing?” Kara asks as she follows her in, Brainy behind them. 

 

“I’m sure Nia will love it if it is, she’ll make a hashtag for it,” Brainy remarks, Kara gives him a look and he falls silent, “I’m not here, I’m just the camera.” 

 

---

 

They set up in the little kitchen and Lena can feel…something. She’s not sure if it’s exactly haunted haunted, but there’s definitely a darkness to the place, probably because of the murder, that her own darkness can feel and feeds off of just a little. 

 

It’s not awful, it’s not great, it’s not good, but she’s not exactly sure it screams haunted and ghosts. 

 

Kara jumps at small noises, even with the lights on, even as they’re just sitting in the kitchen, it’s old tiles well maintained, it’s original brick structure secured, the original furniture mostly intact, Lena just sits across from her and asks, “Are you okay?” 

 

“Yeah, it’s just creepy.” 

 

“It’s just an old house. There’s nothing here,” she reassures and Kara tries to smile but can’t. 

 

“I know you believe that, but I don’t.” 

 

“Well if you believed there was nothing here, then we wouldn’t have a show,” Lena jokes and that does bring a smile to Kara’s face. 

 

And then Brainy has the camera ready and Kara goes through the introductions, “Hello, I’m Kara Danvers this is Lena Luthor and we’re here at the home of The Toymaker as part of our investigation into whether or not ghosts are real.” 

 

Lena shakes her head, subtly at the camera, “They are not.” 

 

Kara gets into the story of The Toymaker. 

 

“The Toymaker was a serial killer in the early 1900’s…” 

 

“Prime serial killing time,” Lena interjects and Kara looks at her. She shrugs, “It just seems like that’s when it was the best time to be a serial killer.” And she tries not to think about the murderers in Hell who are definitely from that time period and there are quite a few. 

 

“You could argue the 1970’s, especially in New York, where we are, was prime serial killing time,” Kara states as she checks her notes on The Toymaker.  

 

“And a prime serial killing location.” 

 

Kara shakes her head, “I don’t like that you can just casually talk about prime serial killing locales and time periods when we’re literally sitting in the house of a notorious child murderer.” 

 

“Well, he’s welcome to add his thoughts to the conversation.” Lena looks around the kitchen and waits, but there’s nothing. Maybe a slight chill…but that’s just an old house feeling, “I thought not.” 

 

Kara looks into the camera, right at Brainy and then she flips the notes page and continues, “The Toymaker would lure his victims, mostly children, down alleys with a toy he invented, usually it would play music or be like one of those creepy wind up toys, and when they took it, it would then dispense chloroform and he would kidnap the victim.”

 

“He invented a toy that could dispense chloroform? In the early 1900’s? Not to sound impressed but that is impressive.” 

 

Kara bites down a laugh, “It’s not…and then he murdered children in his home, in the basement.” 

 

“I’m not saying it was good, I’m just saying, if he hadn’t been a serial killer the man could have been like a real Willy Wonka.” 

 

Kara breathes out a laugh, wheezing just a little, “Willy Wonka did kind of murder kids too.” 

 

“He didn’t murder them they got into those situations on their own.”

 

“Okay but the grandfather…”

 

“No we can’t get on this topic, talk about the creepy basement and the serial killer,” Lena starts, then looks at Kara, a somber and stoic expression, with her eyes betraying the amusement in the situation, “You’re going to lose it when we walk into that basement.”

 

“I’m not feeling great about it,” Kara says with a nod, and then she stops, looking around as she turns her camera and stares down the hallway from the kitchen, “Did you see that?” 

 

“See what?” Lena asks. 

 

“I thought I saw a shadow.” 

 

Lena looks down the hallway as well and she knows that Kara can’t see them, not the way she can, not the way she can sense the beginnings of a presence…but it’s not the dark presence of the supposed Toymaker. It’s someone else. 

 

“Hello? Shadow?” 

 

“Don’t…” Kara tries and her eyes are very wide, her voice shaky and Lena tries to sound gentle even as she wants to laugh, wants to smile, at Kara’s sudden fear when she really has nothing to be afraid of. 

 

“You look, you have a very wide eyed stare. It’s alarming. Are you okay?” 

 

“We’re going to have to go into the basement, I hate this…I hate this…” 

 

“Okay just finish telling me about the ghosts and then we can get this over with.” And a part of Lena doesn’t just mean the investigation, she means the episode, she means herself, because she is going to have to leave before she gets in too deep and she’s already in too deep, if the hand holding is anything to go by, she’s only going to get in deeper and that is very much a problem. 

 

One good scare, one good episode, that’s all Kara needs and then Lena can disappear. 

 

“But the Toymaker isn’t the only ghost in the house, besides the ghosts of his victims, some of whom are rumored to play with toys if you bring them to them…”

 

“That’s kind of sad. Like that’s…upsetting. You bring the thing that caused their death and they play with it.” 

 

“Lena it’s not, it’s to be nice.” 

 

“It doesn’t feel nice. It doesn’t sit well.” And she’s not lying, even if she’s an actual demon and would willingly send that serial killer ghost to her homeland, the bringing of the toys doesn’t feel great. 

 

“And then there’s the ghost of his son, Winslow Schott Jr. who he killed upstairs.” 

 

“How old was his son?” 

 

“He was in his twenties. He came home to visit and he found one of the kidnapped kids, saved the kid but…”

 

“Oh then his father.” Lena makes a throat slashing motion. 

 

“And then the police got his father.” Kara does the same. “Right at the front door.” 

 

“The front door we walked through?! Is that the same door?!” Lena asks and Kara laughs. 

 

“I don’t think it’s the same door but it is that doorway.” 

 

And that covers the history portion because next is the filming of the actual investigation and Kara takes a deep breath, picks up her camera and squares her shoulders, “Alright, let’s go find some ghosts.” 

 

“Okay,” Lena states in a quiet voice, picking up her own camera and following Kara without any of the pomp and circumstance the blonde had found necessary. 

 

“Hold up, I have to reset,” Brainy says and he’s adjusting his camera and changing out batteries. Lena takes that moment to wander a little bit away from the kitchen, to notice that there has been a marked change in the house - like something settling over it. 

 

Lena feels it, can sense static in the air as she walks up the stairs, quiet and silent, the shadows helping her out as Kara checks equipment and does not seem to notice she’s missing, not yet. 

 

She finds her way to a bedroom, a plaque declaring it Winslow Schott Jr.'s room and she feels the energy shift before he makes his appearance. 

 

And to anyone else, to anyone normal and human it would look like Lena is having a conversation with air, because ghosts and their energy, it takes a lot out of them to do anything for an average human to see, if they do anything at all, but Lena can amplify it, Lena can see it, Lena, with all her demonic energy, can break that barrier without so much as a bead of sweat appearing. 

 

She sees the man in his cap and suspenders and he talks like he’s straight out of the 1920’s and she knows it’s because he is. He looks just as surprised to see her, to feel her energy, as she does to see him. 

 

“So this house really is haunted,” she states quietly, her voice a whisper. 

 

“Whoah, Lady are you some kinda medium or somethin?” Winslow asks, approaching her, “Cause you gotta get outta here, my father, he’s not gonna be happy about this.” 

 

“I think he needs to be more worried about me than I am of him.” And she stares at the man, lets her own dark energy out, just a little and he backs away warily. 

 

“I don’t want no trouble with you,” he says and Lena holds up her hands. 

 

“Relax, I think you can help me out actually. We’re here doing a show and I need you to make a little noise, be a little more active, so that woman downstairs gets the evidence she needs.” 

 

“Oh the pretty blonde, what? Are you trying to get her sweet on you or somethin?” He asks with a smirk and Lena rolls her eyes. 

 

“It’s for her show, if she gets evidence, it doesn’t have to continue and I can leave.” 

 

“You’re gonna leave her? Why would you do something stupid like that? Have you seen her?” He points down the stairs and if Kara walks in she won’t see him or the way his eyes light up, and if she walks in she’s only going to see Lena narrowing her eyes, a flash of something dark and angry in them, as she yells at air. 

 

“Hey, none of that, no!” And there’s a spark of darkness that has him cowering back and feeling stronger all the same. 

 

She takes a breath, “I have to, I have to go…I don’t belong up here. I’m…I’m not good…so I have to go home…” she whispers it, a sadness in it. He shakes his head. 

 

“Lady I don’t know what you are, but it ain’t whatever you’re pretending to be,” he remarks and Lena shakes her head because she knows he’s right, she is pretending, she’s pretending to be human and she’s not and she can’t. 

 

“I know, which is why, you need to do something so Kara gets it on camera and this whole charade can end and I can go home without feeling too bad about it.” 

 

“My father can handle that for you. He’ll walk the halls soon, he does it every night, finds one of us, takes us downstairs and we gotta…we relive it…” Winslow blinks, his eyes old and cold and Lena can feel the house breathe, can feel a shudder creaking through it’s bones and she knows he’s not lying. 

 

“Well I don’t want full apparitions or evil anything, I want…little things I can argue against, play off of, none of whatever The Toymaker wants to do. But you…you can do what I need.” 

 

“So then what’s in it for me?” He asks, “If I help you out.”

 

“I can’t exactly help you move on, Winslow, but I can make sure your father is way more miserable than you are.” 

 

“It’s Winn. You can call me Winn. But the kids,” He asks, “You can help them?” 

 

“I can’t help them move on either but they’ll be happier after what I do to him too. Safer.” 

 

He considers, “You didn’t come here to help us, so why are you helping?” 

 

“I’m not, I’m just…making a deal, that’s kind of the family business, you help me, I help you not be so miserable,” she shrugs. 

 

He nods then, “Alright, I’ll do your little haunting for you. And you can make my father miserable.” 

 

“Lena!” Kara yells and she’s hurrying up the stairs, Lena turns and faces Kara, blinking as if she’s confused and ignoring the way Winslow watches, ignoring the spark of jealousy it ignites because she should not be jealous of a ghost, why would she be jealous of a ghost, he can’t even do anything. 

 

“She is real pretty,” Lena hears him say and Kara can’t hear it but she shudders at the temperature of the room all the same. 

 

“Oh my God, it’s so cold in here,” Kara says, glancing around, and then her eyes are on Lena and Lena momentarily takes a step back, blinks because they’re not just angry, they are, but it’s not the same anger she’s used to seeing in her mother, no it’s mixed with something else, something she hasn’t been on the receiving end of before…concern.

 

“Why did you just disappear like that? You can’t just…are you okay?”

 

And the way Kara continues to stare at her makes her feel guilty and uncertain all at the same time. 

 

And Kara hurries, despite being scared, despite the cold, to Lena’s side to check on her and Lena can’t help but smile. “Did you see anything?” 

 

“No, I didn’t see anything, I was just looking around, I got bored waiting. Sorry,” she lies and she glances to where Winslow is standing, where he crosses his arms and shakes his head, “I’m fine.” 

 

“Well, don’t do that again, I got worried that a ghost took you.”

 

“Like in Scooby Doo?” Lena asks and she hasn’t seen many movies or television shows but she’s seen that. 

 

“Yeah, exactly,” Kara states, “Come on we have a house to investigate. Together.” 

 

“I‘ll get the kids to play with the toys, and I got some voices I can throw around,” he shouts as Lena and Kara start back downstairs and work their way around the house. 

 

From behind her back Lena gives him a thumbs up and he smiles. 

 

---

 

Winn knocks on the walls and gets the kids to play with the toys and it has Kara fully freaking out when one of the dolls laughs. 

 

“That doesn’t freak you out?!” Kara shouts holding up the doll and then dropping it when it laughs once again. 

 

“It’s a spooky doll that runs on batteries,” Lena states and she watches Winn and one of the kids throw their arms up as if to say, ‘am I a joke to you?’

 

“Hey, we're doing our best!” Winn shouts and sends the kid off. 

 

“I’m going to try the spirit box, this is going to be loud,” and when Kara turns it on both Lena, Winn and the other two kid ghosts hanging around him all wince and drop their heads back and yell in disgust. 

 

“Please stop,” Winn shouts, holding his ghostly ears as if that’ll block out the noise, and it’s caught on the spirit box and both Lena and Kara freeze and Winn laughs in disbelief. “It works?” 

 

But the box only catches the last syllable and Lena just looks at the box and then to Kara.  

 

“My name is Kara, who am I speaking to?” She asks and looks from Lena to the box expectantly and Lena gets the hint. 

 

“I’m Lena, can you say your name?” And Lena looks around and subtly nods to the apparition that Kara can not see. 

 

“Winn!” He shouts in response and it echoes and Kara jumps back. 

 

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” And she’s freaking out and pacing around and ready to flee and Lena is just watching. 

 

“It kind of sounds like it just said in, that didn’t sound like anything,” Lena argues and Kara stares at her. 

 

“It answered, Lena, that was a word! He said his name. Winn!” 

 

“Yeah!” Winn argues and then he stops, looking down the hallway, as Lena feels a coldness getting deeper, settling, an empty cold that has no real beginning or end, it just is. A pit that drags any warmth down and into it. 

 

“It’s almost time,” he states, his voice grim and shaky, and Lena knows they need to hurry up, that whatever she has to do needs to be done alone, and she has an idea on how to get it done and where.

 

Lena asks, “Can you tell us your name again? Who are we speaking to?” 

 

But the echoing speaker just keeps producing white noise and Kara finally, blissfully, shuts it off as Winn glances around and the kids fade and disappear and run to hide from an approaching shadow and he looks just as scared as them, but just as ready to take the punishment so they don’t have to. 

 

And something in Lena hurts then, something about the ghost of a dead twenty year old who willingly takes torture from his serial killer father so the ghosts of innocents won’t. It’s something brave and tragic and she wishes she could just make it better. 

 

But she’s not good, she can’t help them move on, she can’t bring light to a situation that is shrouded in darkness when she herself is that darkness, when her own family would feed off this place and enjoy it and enjoy watching the repeated events play out over and over again. 

 

She can just ease the time and despite hating it, she is pretty good at finding the things that hurt the most on the more evil of beings. 

 

“So…basement time?” Lena asks, looking at the ghost of Winslow Schott Jr. behind Kara and ignoring his sad and worried expression, that is then replaced by hope when she mentions the basement. 

 

She tries to ignore the way that hopeful look makes her feel, almost sorry, almost good, that if Kara knew about it she might feel warmer, she might look at her with wide eyes and a deeper, hopeful expression…

 

Lena buries that thought before it can blossom and bites into the cold shadow settling around her, uses it to her advantage, feeds on it so she can send it right back. 

 

“Do we have to?” Kara asks and Winn actually looks sympathetic and Lena just nods. 

 

“What if we did like a challenge? Like we have to spend ten minutes alone?” Lena asks, a hurried nature to the way she talks, as they make their way back to the basement and Kara freezes at the top of the stairs to the infamous darkness below. 

 

“What?” And her voice quakes with fear. 

 

“That’s what they do on all those shows. Real ghost hunters do it, right? Are you a real ghost hunter or are you just a coward?” Lena asks, goads, and she knows enough about Kara now to understand that she will rise to this challenge, that she won’t back down because when they had been talking about places to visit and Lena had argued, had challenged, against a well known haunted house - this one - Kara had argued and pushed back and won in a coin toss and then gloated enough that Lena learned that, much like herself, she really likes winning.

 

But Lena likes losing to Kara enough to not like winning as much as Kara likes winning. 

 

“I’m no coward,” Kara narrows her eyes but still won’t go into the basement, “But you should go first.” 

 

“Sounds like a plan,” Lena states with the hint of a smile as she descends the basement, “Ten minutes, I’ll be right back,” she says in a spooky voice and Kara calls back. 

 

“That’s what they say in the movies before someone dies.” 

 

“Then my ghost will return,” Lena jokes and Kara shakes her head, but she’s smiling and she’s looking at Lena in a way that has Lena stuttering on the stairs. 

 

There’s something there, a curiosity, a warmth, that Lena finds she likes and wants to get a little deeper into as the blue eyes seem to pierce through her and into her and she finds she doesn’t want to move, but she moves anyway. 

 

And Kara turns away and talks to Brainy in the kitchen and Lena can overhear her say something about how she’s either very brave or very stupid or both and Lena finds she likes the idea of Kara being a little bit in awe of her even more than the look she gave her and it tugs and pulls at her to stay when she knows she has to leave, when she knows that Kara will forget her when she’s gone. 

 

But she pushes that down, pushing the little spark of warmth that coils around her heart while she enters the pit of the house, the dark heart, the room that holds something actually evil and she feels it the second she steps onto the stairs, feels it, drinks it in, and is ready to send it to its own personal Hell before Kara can even encounter it. 

 

To stop anyone else from being trapped with it. 

 

She tells herself that this part is just making good on a deal. She tells herself they have enough evidence and that a few errant voices will be enough and that the show can end here and it’ll be fine. She tells herself it’s for Kara’s sake and for Winslow and the other kids that she needs to expel this evil thing in the basement, or at least, trap it just in the basement where it can’t do any harm.

 

But a part of her likes it all the same. A part of her likes facing down something that thinks it holds so much power and likes proving it wrong. 



She sits in an old chair in the room and lets the air settle around her. 

 

She waits. Closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and just waits. 

 

The basement reeks of must and dirt and old blood and she can feel pain and fear and smell the hint of chloroform that has long since disappeared mixed with the copper of blood that she tastes on her tongue - that she feels like sulfur in the air before she enters Hell. 

 

She keeps her eyes closed and hears a little beep as the camera dies, it’s battery drained dry and when she opens her eyes she blinks with eyes that see more than her human passing ones. 

 

She uses her power to feed the dark evil thing that is The Toymaker, she waits to hear a shuffle, and when she does, when she hears his voice call, his laugh, his power answer back, she fights the urge to smile.

 

“Hello, Mr. Schott,” Lena says, her voice cold, calculating, the room draining of any warmth it may have had. The room is ice cold, cold enough that she can see her breath, “Or should I call you The Toymaker.”

 

The ghost, the shadow, passes through the room, solidifying, a laugh echoing, a rattle of some metal, the answering call of a music box…all things that would normally scare someone else, something else, but not her. 

 

Her smile never fades. Even as the thing growls, the shadow looming larger and larger, the music box getting louder, the smell of chloroform stronger, until…

 

She’s staring at an old man, a tall man, whose shoulders are broad and used to violence, whose face is worn and aged and smiling much too wide, who is used to striking fear and holding power…

 

And she laughs.

 

She looks at him and she laughs, because he is nothing compared to the real power she holds, compared to real darkness, to her own mother. 

 

He screams at her, “Get out of my house!” 

 

She shakes her head, “Oh I will, when I’m done, but you…you will fade, you will watch, as your son, the children you murdered, torture you every day with their laughter and their joy and make you suffer as you made them.”

 

He blinks, he blinks against her lack of fear, he blinks as the children feeding off of Lena’s power appear in the basement one by one, as that coldness that creaks through the house stifles in the basement like something being snuffed out and if the lights were on they would be flickering, if anyone else could see they would be screaming…

 

Because Winn is the last to arrive and he stands taller than his father, his shadow larger than the man who killed him and Lena is feeding it, is trapping him, is making him smaller, is keeping him in this basement where he can never do anymore damage, is taking away his power and draining him dry and using it against him. 

 

“Goodnight,” Winn says to his father who is blinking in and out, who is fading with the cold. And the kids surround him and his smile is gone and he is screaming as he fades. 

 

Winn looks at her as the kids return to the walls, return upstairs and he asks, “How? What did you…”

 

“He can only watch now. And no one will ever see him, and he’ll fade with time, as people forget,” Lena whispers and Winn nods. 

 

“His worst fear. Being nothing.”

 

“And he’ll get to watch as he becomes nothing, over and over. He can’t hurt you or anyone else here. This place is yours.” 

 

And if ghosts could cry, Winn would be as he tells her, “Thank you, whatever you are, however you did that, thank you.” And if ghosts could hug, he’d hug Lena Luthor.

 

Lena nods, stiffly and quickly, “We had a deal, so don’t mention it, I mean that. Don’t. My family wouldn’t be too happy about it. They kind of like these places.” 

 

“And do you?” He asks. 

 

She shrugs, “I like aspects.” She can’t help but look upstairs, can’t help but check her watch to see how much time she has left. 

 

One minute.

 

“But…this world isn’t mine. I can’t stay.” 

 

“Who says?” Winn argues. 

 

“The rules.” 

 

“Fuck the rules. You just broke ‘em, didn’t you?” 

 

“Not exactly. That was a deal being delivered on.”

 

“So make a deal and deliver on it.” Winn winks, “And trust me, if I had a shot with her upstairs, I’d take it, nothing, no rules, would stop me from taking it.” 

 

“I don’t think I do.” 

 

“You sure? ‘Cause she ain’t looking at the guy the way she looked at you on the stairs.”

 

And Lena glares at him because she hadn’t sensed him, hadn’t seen him and why was he watching? 

 

He just holds his hands up, “I didn’t mean to…I wasn’t spying but…seriously if she looked at me like that…” 

 

“We’re not even…we just work together. We’re not even friends,” she scoffs then, “I belong in Hell and that is messy. This is messy. She’s a human and I’m not so…messy.” 

 

“Yeah, life’s messy. I’d maybe rethink the whole leaving thing, but…if you ever need a place to lay low, you’re welcome here. You both are, for what it’s worth. Any friend of yours, friend of mine, that whole thing, even if you say you ain’t friends.” 

 

And before Lena can get into the semantics all over again, that she and Kara aren’t exactly friends, more co-workers, maybe, she’s not sure how to define it, but not for long because she’s going to leave, she’s going to quit the job and disappear and it’ll hurt Kara just a little but not nearly as bad as it will hurt later, will hurt when Kara learns the truth or her mother does, but before she can do any of it, can say any of that to Winn, Kara is opening the door and yelling. 

 

“Ten minutes are up!” And Lena knows she heard nothing, knows her own power was enough to keep it contained and muffled and she just turns to Winn and smiles. 

 

“Just go enjoy your afterlife.” 

 

“And you enjoy your…whatever it is you’re doing, with her.” Winn winks again and then he’s gone and Lena, composed and careful, walks back up the stairs and looks at a wide-eyed Kara whose hands are already shaking even though the actual darkness has been vanquished and there’s nothing left in the basement but dust and maybe mold. 

 

“Well?” Kara asks and Lena tries not to grab her hand, tries not to brush an errant strand of blonde hair as she looks at wide blue eyes and feels her stomach clench with a need to hold her, a new and fresh need that she’s never felt before. 

 

She takes a breath, puts on a stone faced and serious expression as she says, “I don’t know what happened down there but…there was definitely a presence.” And she fights the smile that grows as Kara’s wide eyes narrow and she realizes that Lena is messing with her.

 

More or less.

 

“Come get me in ten minutes.” 

 

And Lena promises as she shuts the door and tries not to laugh as Kara talks to air and freaks out and jumps at small noises that Lena knows is just an old house settling, it’s ghosts dormant and quiet, it’s evil and darkness settled while it’s occupants can enjoy some sense of peace. 

 

She tries to ignore that it makes her feel good, that she feels like she helped, and she thinks about Winn’s words, thinks about making a deal and circumventing rules in a way to explain it all if necessary, and she thinks about rules and her mother and her brother and how they would kill this human, this pure and warm human who makes Lena smile genuinely, all to protect the legacy, to protect their strength, and they would do worse than kill her, they would make her suffer. 

 

And Lena knows she has to leave, she knows this can’t last. 

 

But she hears Kara scream, hears her run up the stairs and burst through the door in a breath and say she felt something say her name, and she sees Winn laughing from the foot of the basement and can hear him, clear as day, say, “How’s that for evidence?” 

 

And when Kara shudders and says, “Okay, we need to go get a drink and get pizza and get out of here,” Lena follows and tries to enjoy the last moments she’s going to have Earthside with this bright and warm person who she would be lying if she said she wouldn’t follow anywhere. 

 

---

 

It’s only when they’re back at the hotel, when it’s well past two in the morning and Kara is knocking on her door, a National City University sweatshirt on and a blanket pulled tightly around her that Lena realizes she isn’t going anywhere no matter how much she pretends she is. 

 

“I’m so sorry. I can’t sleep and I saw that your light was still on and…do you think ghosts can follow you?” She asks and Lena, who wasn’t sleeping, who was still a little too wired from her whole flex of power at the house, who doesn’t really need to sleep, invites her in, let’s her sit on the other bed in the room and puts on the television and just quietly explains that no, they can’t. 

 

“If I believed in them, which I don’t, I’m pretty sure they can’t leave the place where they died. That’s like a rule. At least it is in movies.” 

 

“Okay, good, because if The Toymaker followed me.” And Kara shudders and Lena fights the urge to sit next to her, to wrap her arms around her and repeat that there’s no way he could have followed her - he’s basically dead again, not that she would admit that part but the not following her she could say.



“Do you want to watch a movie?” Lena asks instead, still sitting on her own bed, scrolling through the available options on the hotel television. 

 

“Aren’t you tired? I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t keep you up…”

 

“Do you want to watch a movie?” Lena repeats the question, a little more forceful and it stops Kara from rambling before she can even begin. 

 

“You don’t even know me that well, why did you let me in?” Kara asks and she seems almost apologetic. 

 

“Why did you knock on my door?” She asks instead and Kara just does that thing where she ducks her head and Lena finds that she doesn’t even really want an answer.

 

“You helped me out with the plane and the being afraid so…I thought that would be like our thing.”

 

Lena shrugs, “We just spent like three hours in a haunted house, that builds trust, plus you looked really sad so I invited you in.”

 

And Kara laughs and Lena laughs too and then Kara glances at the room service menu sitting on the bedside table and she eyes Lena, playing with the menu. 

 

“You know your laugh…” 

 

Lena freezes because oh no, this isn’t good, this can’t be good, “It doesn’t sound like you, I mean it does but…it doesn’t. You’re like…you have walls but your laugh doesn’t.”

 

“What does that mean?” Lena asks and Kara just looks at the menu. 

 

“They have potstickers here?!” 

 

“How are you still hungry? Also the kitchen is definitely closed.”

 

“Ugh, bummer and I don’t know, I just am. I am a bottomless disposal, seriously I could probably win an eating contest.” Kara smirks. 

 

“I don’t doubt it, but going back to the laugh thing…I have walls but my laugh doesn’t.”

 

“Yeah like…what that means…what I’m trying to say is…you have different laughs and one of them, that one, feels like the real you and it’s the same like when we’re talking at the office or when we were talking on the plane. It’s subtle but…anyway, if we’re working together, if we’re going to keep going into these places, you can’t just disappear and you can’t just spring being alone in a room with a ghost on me, especially a creepy basement, although like I know we probably weren’t actually in a room with a ghost, but I think I was, at least.” 

 

Lena blinks in confusion, “I am sorry I disappeared. I was just curious and I thought the isolation thing that’s like just what those shows do.” 

 

“I know that and it was a good suggestion and I understand you were interested in the house, but if we’re going to be partners in this, we have to be on the same page, and we have to be together in it. And that means trust and trusting each other to be there to do this, that means maybe being friends. And I don’t know about you, but I’d really like to be friends with you as opposed to just co-workers who hunt ghosts.” Kara smiles and Lena really knows there’s no way she’s getting out of this, knows she can’t go back home now, knows she can’t disappear. 

 

Her mother is going to be pissed if she finds out, so Lena is just going to have to make sure she doesn’t find out, at least until the season ends, at least until the episodes are done. She can be friends for a few episodes. She can get away with it. 

 

She thinks about the whole rules, the deal thing, what Winn said and she nods, “Okay, how about we make a deal?” 

 

Kara straightens, flipping the menu around in her hands, waiting for Lena to speak. 

 

“We can be friends, but I get to pick the movie,” she points to the television and Kara shakes her head. 

 

“No dice.” 

 

“What?” 

 

“No I mean I like the friends part but I want to make some amendments.” 

 

“Like what?” 

 

“We get to be friends, and that means dinners, weekly movie nights and the occasional game night, and…I pick the next haunted place we go to.” 

 

“No, I’m picking the next place, you picked this one.” 

 

“What if we alternate?” 

 

“We can alternate, but I’m picking next,” Lena argues. 

 

Kara holds out her hand, “Fine, but I’m picking the movie tonight. Deal?” 

 

Lena looks at the outstretched hand, the hand she’s held on a plane, the hand she wanted to hold in the house and blinks at it’s offering, considers the gravity of this moment so filled with nothing to Kara but everything to her.

 

A friend, a real friend, her only friend. It’s not unwelcome, it’s not not weird, and Lena takes the warm hand in hers and shakes and feels a weight settle in her heart, like gravity settling her in place at the offer, the best deal she might ever make. 

 

“Now, where can we get snacks at this hour?” She asks and Lena takes the menu from Kara. 

 

“Not the kitchen, but…” and she takes her room key, a conspiratorial look crossing her features, “That little snack stand they have in the lobby is open and all you have to do is scan the room card.”

 

“Thank you, CatCo.” Kara smirks. 

 

“You pick the movie, I’ll get the snacks.”

 

“Are you going to have snacks at this hour?” Kara teases and Lena smirks. 

 

“I do eat snacks.” 

 

“Coffee does not count as a snack. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat a snack, not even from my drawer at the office and I have good snacks.”

 

“I had those M & M’S.” 

 

“Okay, fair, get more M & M’S.” 

 

And then she’s gone and Kara is settling in her room and scrolling through the tv screen for good movie choices and it’s quaint and human and normal and as Lena walks down the hallway towards the lobby, she doesn’t feel the warmth fade this time as she moves from Kara’s presence, she feels it surround her and stay with her and she feels good. 

 

She feels happy. She feels normal and almost human. 

 

She feels better than she has in an eternity. 

 

And she tries not to think about the consequences, tries not to think what it all means and what it could mean, she just grabs chips and cookies and M & M’S and rushes back to her room where Kara is under blankets in the other bed and sitting up and waiting, some romantic comedy ready on screen and Lena tries not to roll her eyes at the obvious choice, at the appropriate for Kara Danvers choice of The Holiday and just throws the M & M’s and a pack of Oreo’s to Kara. 

 

“Don’t judge, I needed something feel good.” 

 

And Lena just scoffs, “I’m not judging.” 

 

“It feels like you’re judging.”

 

“Well, I’m not.” And then Lena is getting into her own bed, a bed she normally would not have slept in, and opens a bag of chips and Kara looks at her mournfully before hitting play and Lena just passes the Salt and Vinegar chips to her silently, so Kara can take a few and when Lena looks for the big bag of M & M’s she got, Kara has to strain to pass it from bed to bed. 

 

She spills a few and just grumbles, “This is stupid.” 

 

And then Kara gets out of the other bed and shuffled over to Lena’s, sliding in beside her, and settles next to the demon. 

 

“Is this okay? This just seems better with the snack situation,” Kara says and Lena just nods, words no longer coming to her as the other woman just sidles up next to an actual demon and does not seem to be all that perturbed by it. A woman who earlier tonight screamed at a laughing doll. 

 

Lena doesn’t know what to do as Kara fluffs pillows and pulls the blankets up and just sinks in, her socked feet brushing against Lena’s bare ones and she doesn’t shudder, she doesn’t really move as Kara readjusts the snacks between them. 

 

“Sorry,” she apologizes as her arm brushes against Lena’s thigh while she readjusts the blankets and then she’s all set, all cuddled in and Lena finally breathes. 

 

“This is better. See? Easy snack access, perfect banter position to watch Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet fall in love in a different house over a holiday, and we’re cozy and safe from any ghosts.” 

 

“Definitely better,” Lena stutters out as she catches the scent of Kara’s shampoo, some coconut something and vanilla and she tries not to breathe in too deep.

 

She takes another breath, sinks a little bit into the pillows and the warmed up space that is the bed, that Kara is radiating warmth into, and she wonders how Kara can not feel her own coldness, how Kara can just walk into this room, can ask to be friends, can just get into the same bed as her and not feel the danger, the darkness, the evil that she knows others can, that the ghosts could. 

 

But Kara just watches the movie next to Lena, with snacks between them, enjoying all of it, with sappy music playing and the gentle calm that comes with sharing space. 

 

When she falls asleep next to her as the movie plays, Lena can’t help but glance over, can’t help but feel the steady breath and heartbeat and find that it would be too easy to just stay in this moment. That this moment should scare her, this friendship thing should scare her, that all of this, if this is what it’s going to be if she’s friends with Kara, may just kill her. Literally and figuratively 

 

And while Lena doesn’t sleep, doesn’t really need it…

 

She finds that surrounded by the warmth, by the scent of Kara Danvers and the sounds of the rom com in the background, the taste of M&M’S and Salt and Vinegar chips on her tongue, does something to make her feel heavy, to make her feel safe and secure - she closes her eyes and she drifts off. 

 

And if she finds that she dreams of blonde hair and blue eyes and a bright warm smile that chases away any ounce of darkness she has inside of her - she doesn’t say anything about it to anyone.

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THREE: OPPOSITE OF FALLING



Kara likes Sundays. 

 

They’re quiet, relaxing, for the most part - she’s a little worried a ghost followed her home and jumps at the very normal creaks in her apartment - but aside from that, she finds this Sunday in particular nice. 

 

It’s not for any real reason. She’s doing her normal routine, laundry, vegging out on the couch and catching up on some show or just watching more Guy’s Grocery Games than she probably should, but it’s comforting and fun so who can blame her. 

 

But she’s happy. Happier than she has been for a little while. Happier than she has been since her breakup with Mike (not that she’s still dwelling, not that she’s listened to All Too Well the Ten Minute Version over and over getting aggressively louder with each lyric she sings along to even if they don’t really apply to her relationship) but she’s feeling good. She’s excited about the episode, about accomplishing something new and semi-fun even if it’s terrifying, and she’s even more excited about the next episode and what could follow, what will follow.

 

For the first time in a while she’s feeling more like herself and she doesn’t feel like she’s lost in the woods of her life trying to figure out where she should be or what she should be doing.  And she doesn’t feel like she’s losing herself in a relationship and sacrificing pieces to be happy. 

She’s just okay with what it is, where she is, and who she is. 

 

She’s not exactly okay with going into haunted houses, but she did feel kind of cool after it was okay, kind of badass. 

 

She is especially okay with where it all seems to be going, and she’s more than okay with the idea of her and her new co-worker/co-investigator being friends.

 

And that’s what makes her happier, what makes her smile a little to herself. 

 

Friends. 

 

A new friend.  

 

Lena. 

 

She promised a game night or a movie night even if they partially had one when Kara fell asleep in her hotel room watching The Holiday - it doesn’t count, she’s decided it doesn’t count as a true movie night. That was more setting the ground rules for what this partnership was going to be - more or less - and what the friendship could be. 

 

And oh how she’s excited for the possibilities. For movie nights. For getting to know more about Lena. To find out what makes her laugh, what music she likes, maybe see her apartment if she’s lucky - Lena seems to be the, ‘keeping it close to the vest,’ type - not that Kara minds, she’s curious to find out why, but she doesn’t mind. 

 

It just makes getting to know her a little bit of a challenge and Kara is all up for the challenge. 

 

She wonders if Lena moved to National City to get away from something or someone. She wonders if Lena has also suffered her share of heartbreak. She wonders if they’ll bond over Taylor Swift. 

 

They kind of bonded over snacks and The Holiday and ghosts - but again Kara can’t really count it because she did fall asleep. 

 

She makes a mental list of questions to ask Lena starting this week, after they decide on the next investigation. After Lena decides based on their amendment and deal, but that does mean Lena owes her a movie night and Kara is far more excited for that. 

 

And then her thoughts fall on the next episode, on the previous one, and she wonders, hopes, that it all turned out okay, that Cat Grant will actually like it, or at least, let them continue because Kara is out of ideas to contribute to the company and it’s growing internet presence and is a little more than worried her job could actually depend on this. 

 

She hopes it’ll be okay, but maybe they need to be a little more in depth, a little more playing up the skeptic and believer role, maybe Lena needs to be a little more sarcastic, a little ruder to the ghosts, because Kara knows that that is what Cat Grant will like, that that is what will get them on the trending side, that it’ll keep them in business. 

 

She’ll see what Lena thinks tomorrow. And Kara shakes her head because for once, for the first time since she started at CatCo she’s actually excited for Monday morning. 

 

She jumps at a bird squawking outside her window as it flies past and reminds herself that she’s sure ghosts are resigned to their home locations. 

 

Still, a part of her wants to call Lena and ask, because even in the short time they’ve worked together, one plane ride and an investigation, she knows Lena has some ability to assuage whatever fear. 

 

She had at the hotel. 

 

She remembers the plane, the conversation about the ghosts, a ghost plane, and somehow it had made her forget about the turbulence, had helped with the landing, and afterwards, when she’d been freaked out in her hotel room, when she’d just decided to talk to Lena about their own ground rules, that she can’t just wander off in an investigation, somehow that had made her feel better - had made her forget that she was scared of a ghost - because Lena made her feel safe. 

 

Having someone else around to chase away any wandering spirits made it easier she supposes. Having someone around who didn’t believe like she did, who would seek out an actual explanation than let their thoughts get away from them made it that much harder to continue on the fear spiral. 

 

So she thinks about calling Lena when the bird flies by, to have Lena tell her that ‘no, a ghost did not follow you home,’ and make up some rule, but Kara realizes she doesn’t have a number to call Lena, or text her. 

 

She makes a note to get that remedied as soon as she sees her at work in the morning. 

 

She calls Alex and her sister laughs at her and says just as much, says that ‘ghosts aren’t real, or I mean they probably are, but they can’t follow you home, I think that’s a rule.’

 

But it doesn’t calm her nearly as much as she thinks it should. 

 

---

 

Lena spends her Sunday thinking. 

 

She spends it in a penthouse apartment, an apartment she’s borrowing as it’s tenant owed her and she rewarded them with a vacation overseas. An apartment that for all intents and purposes will be hers for as long as she remains Earthside. 

 

She spends it pacing in that penthouse and she spends it thinking about how long that should actually be. 

 

Thinking of how she helped a ghost when she had no business to. Thinking of the warmth that she felt doing something good. Thinking of the fear that brings her. 

 

Thinking of a job she has no business doing. A job she’s supposed to show up for tomorrow. A job she shouldn’t show up for because she should just leave. 

 

But she can’t leave. She won’t leave. It’s too soon and it’s been long enough and she knows someone will come looking, but she…

 

She has a friend.

 

Kara Danvers is her friend. And that fills her chest with something warm and bright and that scares the fractured darkness within her. Because what is this? She shouldn’t feel this. She shouldn’t want to feel this. She shouldn’t feel anything.

 

And if Kara ever learned who she truly was it would send her running and she would be right to run. 

 

She has a friend. A friend who she’s lying to. 

 

A friend her own mother will surely kill to get what she wants, when she learns what Lena is doing, when she learns the darkness she isn’t spreading, when she’s tainting the legacy she’s supposed to inherit, to live up to. 

 

She paces and she thinks and she lets her mind wander and spiral and she wonders what life would be like if she were normal, if this were an ordinary friendship, if they were truly co-workers and she wasn’t a liar. 

 

She remembers a hotel room, shared snacks and a movie, she remembers a handshake and a deal and a promise and she knows she will show up for work tomorrow, she knows she can’t leave Kara Danvers, not yet. 

 

She can’t leave this warm feeling behind. 

 

She remembers sleeping. She remembers feeling peace. She remembers waking up next to Kara Danvers, seeing that first crack of sunlight filter in the hotel room window shining on blonde hair, and she remembers how something broke in her whatever demon’s had for souls, or hearts, or something. 

 

She thinks of the few minutes she spent watching the human sleep, how quiet and fragile and peaceful she looked, and she remembers how much she wanted to keep that peace, how far she would go to protect it, a fury at the thought of someone coming to take it, at her own mother coming to claim it, and that scares her more than anything in the world. 

 

Because there had been a rage behind that protectiveness, a rage that could burn worlds if untempered. 

 

And that was new too, that feeling, that desire to protect and stop whatever or whoever stood in the way.

 

She thinks of The Toymaker and what she did to him all in the name of giving Kara what she wanted, proof, and in the name of protecting her from him. 

 

She thinks about how the look on Winn’s face made her feel something she wanted to share with Kara, a sense of duty or a sense of…she’s still not sure what it was but it wasn’t normal, it wasn’t anything she was supposed to feel, it wasn’t anything she had felt before. 

 

She had felt good. Truly good. And whether it was Kara, her own deeds, or the thought of locking away a vengeful and awful spirit she’s not sure but it was there. 

 

She thinks of her mother finding out about this. She thinks of what Lillian will do to Kara, to the all too fragile human, thinks of what she will do to her skin and bones, in front of Lena, to make a point. She thinks that Kara is too breakable and too good and just has not realized that she should not be friends with Lena yet. 

 

She thinks about slipping away, like she’d thought she would do after the first investigation, she thinks about saying screw it and staying, she thinks and thinks and thinks and goes back and forth, the same arguments, the same lines, the same fears, around and around in a circle until she’s not sure what time it is, or when she even started this dance. 

 

She doesn’t want to go back below. 

 

She wants to see Kara. 

 

She knows she shouldn’t stay. She has to stay. There is no not staying for her. 

 

She made a deal. A deal that ensures she needs to stay. A deal that requires fostering and attention, a deal that means she works and she spends time with Kara and demons do not back out of deals - no matter the reasoning behind them, even if they were personal.  

 

She knows her mother is going to find out what she’s doing and excuses will only last so long. The concept of a deal will only go so far - because Lena knows it’s flimsy and her mother will see right through it. Will force her hand if necessary. 

 

She doesn’t care.

 

She cares too much. 

 

She doesn’t know what she’s doing but she wants to keep doing it and it’s weird and scary and she’s not sure why she’s so uncertain or why it feels so important to stay. 

 

She wants to stay. She will stay. 

 

She wants to do another investigation if it means spending time with Kara. She wants movie nights and she wants to tell her the truth, but she can’t tell her the truth, and there’s so many things she wants and fears and it just keeps circling in her mind it’s going to drive her crazy. 

 

This decision, because it feels like one, it feels like a crossroads. She can continue, she can show up at work in the morning and go on and wait for the other shoe to drop, wait for her mother to find out, for someone to show up and then her mother eventually - possibly even her brother before that. 

 

Or she can just return home, call it a failed mission of corrupting a pure soul, a deal gone bad, or whatever and continue on. Be the heir, be the darkness she’s supposed to be. 

 

But that feels like a kind of death sentence and she isn’t sure why, she fears it more than her own mother. 

 

Because she had been warm. She had felt real and at peace and felt the sun. She had never felt any of that in her long years, in her entire existence. Hell was cold, Kara was warm, and she liked being in the sun as dangerous as it was. 

 

Lena needs to talk to someone who understands, needs to talk to someone she knows and trusts and who will not sell her out for better standing with her mother. Someone who, despite years of proving otherwise, is just as out of reach of Hell’s darkness, is just as not at home within it’s coldness - who craves the warmth of the sun and light - who sought it once and has spent an eternity making up for it since. 

 

She summons Sam, who, despite the years as Reign, despite her time as a loyal soldier, will never go by that name again, does not want to be that again. And Lena is the only one who understands, who calls her Sam when the others, when her mother, does not. 

 

She summons Sam and waits with a bottle of scotch stolen from the penthouses' true occupant for the demon to arrive. 

 

Sam shows up when Lena finishes her second glass and has one waiting for her. She can’t really feel the alcohol - not yet - she won’t until she’s finished the bottle and even then barely, but she likes the taste, she likes the gentle burn as it travels and she likes that it gives her something to do, something to focus on instead of her own spiraling thoughts. 

 

“So this is where you’ve been? Some vacation,” Sam remarks as she takes the offered glass and sits with Lena at the kitchen island. 

 

“Yeah I didn’t start here,” Lena confesses and Sam nods because she knows, she knew about Swift Street, and she knows Lena hasn’t been there for at least a week. 

 

“What happened?” Sam asks as if she can read her, and in a way, she can. Lena is uncertain, she’s off balance, she’s playing with the glass in a way that means she’s nervous, she’s worried, she’s…almost human. And Sam recognizes it, recognizes and understands a similar feeling she had many years ago, when she’d helped a kid, when she’d felt this tug and pull towards something nice and light, when she’d gotten Ruby out of the way of a falling piece of debris during an Earthquake in San Francisco. 

 

And she’d earned an isolation when she’d refused to let that kid go hungry, to remain orphaned, and Reign had spent so long proving her worth only for the sunlight of one innocent to fracture that darkness and wash the blood off her hands - to send her out of Hell with a spiteful murmur that Sam has never regretted. 

 

Ruby had lived a long life and Sam had cared for her and when she’d been an old woman and passed, Sam had returned, had been needed, because deals were low, because the strength was fading, because Lillian demanded it. 

 

And while she wasn’t trusted, while she was only allowed to enter from time to time, while she spent most of her time Earthside - Sam had learned more about humanity than any other demon. 

 

And she understood it’s pull. Understood what Lena was going through even without her having to say anything. 

 

“Who happened?” Sam changes her question and that has Lena’s movements stilling, her hands no longer fiddling with her glass as she looks at her - a shame and pain in her eyes. And Sam knows the shame comes from her mother, but the pain is all hers. 

 

Lena explains Swift Street, explains the laugh caught on audio, explains how she went to CatCo to try to erase that laugh, for what reason she can no longer really remember or voice, and she explains how she now works there and what exactly the nature of that work is. 

 

Sam spits the scotch as she starts laughing and laughing and laughing. 

 

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, I love it! Where is it?” And Sam takes out her phone and at Lena’s questioning look she just shrugs, “Look when I was exiled I evolved with the times and this is a great way to keep track of soul quotas still. Did you know I had a nintendo? It was awesome.” 

 

“Soul quotas?”

 

Sam shrugs, “There’s a few who deserve it and look if you’re asking to sell your soul I can’t help you and I do, unfortunately, have to abide by the lawmaker.” And Lena knows Sam means her mother, knows that it could mean her one day. 

 

“Or a stint in exile and measured distrust will be the least of my problems,” Sam states as she finds the video, watches it, laughs again, saves it and hits subscribe for future episodes. 

 

“I take it she doesn’t know,” Sam states and Lena shakes her head.

 

“How could I tell her?” 

 

“She might figure it out. I mean it’s hard to believe, sure, but it’s unmistakable, that it’s you.” 

 

Lena groans because she knows, she knows that this is a dangerous game, she knows and she waits for Sam to say it, for Sam to tell her she should return home, that whatever punishment she is going to face will be lessened by not being caught and by getting ahead of it. 

 

And Lena also knows that if and when her mother finds out, if she doesn’t get ahead of it, if it continues then it would be worse for her, knows that exile would not be a suitable punishment for the supposed heir to the throne of Hell to receive for betrayal of the current ruler. 

 

The ruler would need to exude power, the ruler would need to remind everyone else that no one, not even their heir, was above punishment. 

 

“So you’re hunting ghosts with a true believer because she was charming?” Sam asks and it snaps Lena out of thoughts of destiny and succession and paths taken and not taken before they can really take root and grow. 

 

“She wasn’t…” But Lena is lying and she knows she’s lying and she knows there’s something about the sunshine that blooms in Kara that pulls her, that draws her in and threatens to consume her - that threatens the weakest of her kind. 

 

The darkness that craves the light, Icarus flying too close to the sun - and it’ll kill her and melt her wings and do all that poetic destruction, she knows it will. 

 

But still, she wants to fly ever closer. 

 

Sam gives her a look that has Lena ducking to avoid it because she’s right, she was, she is. 

 

“Do you think we’re friends?” Lena asks and she sounds small and far away because she isn’t sure, they’ve never labeled this outside of confidants, outside of two evil beings who don’t feel as evil as the others around them, who found at least a modicum of trust in each other over the centuries - as small and tentative as it still was to Lena, she did trust Sam in a way, trusted her enough to continue calling her the chosen name she had gone for herself when she’d been exiled, was trusted enough for Sam to be here, to have told her about Ruby, about the scared child she’d saved and taken care of.

 

Trusted each other enough to not share those secrets even if it meant an advantage, to hold them and keep them and not use them. 

 

Maybe that is friendship, in a way, in their way. 

 

“Are you and Kara?” Sam asks and Lena shrugs because she doesn’t know, she doesn’t know what friendship really is, but she knows it’s different with Kara than it is with Sam. 

 

In the short time she’s known her, since she’s met her, there’s no ulterior motives, there’s no fear, there’s no distrust from the human and Lena doesn’t understand why. Because she should sense it, should understand there’s something not quite right or human or trusting or good about Lena and that alone makes her question and examine much more than she would. 

 

There were humans who wanted things from her, who made deals with her, who summoned and asked and wanted power and money and lust disguised as love, there were humans who used and sold their souls to get what they wanted - who were evil and she was surrounded by them in Hell, surrounded by their misdeeds and darkness and distrust. 

 

And then there was Kara who was unlike any other living human she had ever dealt with, who did not use anyone for ulterior motives, who only demanded a trust from her and friendship so they could continue working together - who was simply setting the proper foundations for a working relationship that she wanted friendship. 

 

And Lena had agreed, had made a deal of her own making because she had wanted it, and because there were no other reasons for Kara to make it. She didn’t want power, she didn’t want friendship to hide loneliness, she wasn’t forcing anyone to be around her, she just was. 

 

“I think we are, In our way,” Sam responds after a moment of silence, “But it’s different with Kara, isn’t it?” 

 

Lena sighs because Sam can read her, has always been able to a bit, “I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m just…”

 

“Lonely?” 

 

Lena nods, an admission as she takes another drink of the scotch and lets the alcohol settle in her not quite human bones and do nothing but burn a fire that has never existed in her like it has in others of her kind. 

 

“What’s wrong with me?” 

 

And Lena thinks that maybe whatever she’s feeling might be a little more than loneliness, might be a little more than the desire for friendship, or it might all just be that and she’s never experienced that emotion and doesn’t fully understand it. 

 

Sam shakes her head, takes a drink of her own, “Probably the same thing that’s wrong with me. I mean I used to be responsible for disasters and war and all this bloodshed, I caused the Great Chicago Fire and then like thirty years later, I started an earthquake in San Francisco and something broke when I found a kid close to death crying. And it was my fault and I felt guilty, I never felt guilty before but when I saw Ruby, when I heard her, something just…”

 

“Changed.” Sam nods and takes a long sip of her drink. 

 

“And I would do it again. I would save her again, I would be that mother to her again, even after the exile, even after the return and…”

 

Sam takes another drink, something sad and wounded crossing across her features, “She’s gone now, I check in on the grandkids but they’ve never met me, don’t even know me although there’s one who I need to keep a closer eye on, she’s going to be trouble.” But there’s something light and bright in Sam’s eyes that replaces the pain, a piece of pride, a piece of something human that Lena thinks could be love in the look and do they even feel love?

 

Is that what this is? Does she…no…she’s only known Kara for about a week, maybe two, and yet…

 

She hasn’t felt anything like this…she hasn’t really felt anything before she met her. 

 

“I got rid of an evil spirit, I punished it, for a ghost I didn’t know and to protect Kara who had no idea. I came up here…why did I do it? What’s happening to me?” 

 

“Maybe we’re broken. Maybe whatever creator crafted us forgot to switch the evil switch.” 

 

“But I am evil, I’m the heir to evil, I’m…I should be the epitome of darkness.” 

 

“And I’m supposed to be some force of disaster, maybe we aren’t what we were made to be.” 

Lena shakes her head, “I can’t let this continue. I can’t stay here.”

 

“And yet…” Sam says, knowing. 

 

“And yet.” 

 

“You’re going to.”

 

“I know.”

 

“And when your mother finds out?” Sam asks, “You’re going to have to come up with something.”

 

“I’m corrupting a truly good human? Trying to land a really worthwhile soul for her kingdom? Proving my worth?”

 

Sam shrugs, “Practice it enough and she might actually believe you when you say it.” She sighs then, “And if Kara finds out about you, what then?” 

 

“She won’t find out.”

 

“She will. We both know she will. You’re not that good of a liar and you may have gotten away with a few coincidences now but, no one is that oblivious and that laugh is clear. We can’t live two lives without someone noticing.”

 

“Were you always filled with these Matrix level mantras?”

 

“Oh did you see The Matrix? I loved it.”

 

“So full disclosure I may have told Kara my favorite movie is Titanic and I’ve never seen it, so I spent last night watching famous movies from the nineties but only watched The Matrix.” 

 

“Why did you pick Titanic?”

 

“Because people were talking about it like all the time when it came out and I came up to collect a soul and literally all they kept saying was how massive the boat was and how tragic the love story and when she asked it was the first movie I could think of.”

 

“But you’ve seen other movies. I mean we definitely saw like something in the forties when you would sneak away and visit, didn’t we?”

 

“I’m not going to pick some obscure movie from the forties we saw one time when the movies were like an event. A movie that I don’t even remember aside from maybe the war news footage before.” 

 

“Oh you know what you should see? Saving Private Ryan.”

 

“I don’t want to watch a World War Two movie, Sam. I need to watch Titanic so I’m not lying.”

 

“But what if you hate it?” 

 

“What if I hate it?” Lena asks, having a sudden and horrifying realization that not only did she lie to Kara about the favorite movie but she may have to continue lying if she hates it.

 

“Okay, we’re off track, look, maybe you should just tell Kara you lied about the movie, do your little friendship thing, have a movie night whatever that means and it’s one less lie if you watch it together.” 

 

“Yeah that solves like one of my ninety problems here.” 

 

“The biggest one you’re pretending to be human and neither one of us really knows what that means. I mean I kind of do but I was bad at it. I think I only survived because of Ruby and then her kids and The Keeper.”

 

And Lena has a small recollection of some fairy tale, some ancient being relegated to Earth, existing outside the boundaries of good and evil, a keeper of the fates, of knowledge of all beings, of destiny, soulmates, paths and choices, all the nonsense her mother told her were pointless endeavors meant for humans and witches and the good - not for them. They didn’t need to be told the answers, they made the answers. 

 

“The Keeper isn’t real, it’s a story the light side made up for some truce.”

 

“Oh I assure you The Keeper is very real and I found him.”

 

“Why?” 

 

“Do you know what happens when angels fall?” Sam asks and Lena nods because she knows in the stories it involves the loss of wings, of powers, becoming human. 

 

“They go to The Keeper and he gives them things like social security numbers, identities, he helps them get their lives when they become human.” 

 

“What does that have to do with us?” Lena asks. 

 

“What’s the opposite of falling?”

 

Lena shrugs, “Rising?” She laughs then, sardonic and with a roll of her eyes, “I don’t think either one of us is rising.” Sam murmurs in agreement. 

 

“Still, if you need answers to a question, if you want better cryptic wisdom or a social security number he might be able to help you, if you seek him out. He does at least have some solid restaurant and movie recommendations. Helped me out a lot when I was first exiled. Helped separate the whole Reign from Sam, even helped me find my name.”

 

And Lena hasn’t heard this part of Sam’s story, has only heard the exile, has imagined it as cold and empty which is what Hell is but somehow worse. She has imagined it to be painful in a way that is unbearable. To be surrounded by emotion and humanity and indescribable shifts and changes as time passes - to bear witness and be stuck watching it all to never go home to never feel the attachment to being home to being below. She imagines it must be like haunting a house, just forever stuck and watching it all go by and gather dust and no amount of screaming or movement will change it. 

 

But to know that Sam had a life, a semi-human life, that even if she was stuck she still made something. The child she saved she helped, she raised, and she was given a new name, found herself. 

 

It doesn’t sound all that bad, it kind of sounds like what Lena is doing only hers is by choice. 

 

And Lena thinks that if this is her choice, there’s only one other person who could make it not that way, “Can The Keeper solve the issue of my mother?”

 

“No, I don’t think he can fix that for you.”

 

Lena just falls silent and Sam takes a breath. 

 

“I’m not going to say anything to her, you know I’m always in your corner, but she will find out one way or another. And when she does, you should be prepared, or have a plan.” 

 

“For what?” 

 

“Whatever she will do to Kara if you don’t do what she wants you to do, if you don’t choose however she wants you to choose.”

 

Lena swallows because Sam is right, she knows she’s right. 

 

“So I’ll just make the right choice. I’ll just follow her back home.” 

 

“Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be that easy. She won’t make it difficult or painful at all.” 

 

“Are you suggesting the easy choice isn’t easy?” 

 

“I’m suggesting that the easy choice isn’t the right choice but whatever you choose, I have your back and I’m not alone.” 

 

“I’m not starting a war to usurp her and even talking about that is…”

 

“I know and I’m not saying it and neither are you, but if I were to potentially lightly float the idea…”

 

“We’re not floating any ideas, we’re not doing this.”

 

“No, we’re not, we’re not, I’m letting it go, it was never floated.” 

 

There’s a terse silence that follows and Sam just smiles, “You should consider seeing The Keeper. If nothing else than to find out what makes us different.” 

 

“You never asked?” 

 

“I was more concerned with trying to figure out this whole living topside and caring for a human thing. Speaking of which,” Sam smiles wider, brightens in a way that is much too shiny for the likes of either of them, “Do you want to tell me more about her?” And there’s a teasing tone in it, a tone that Lena has heard Kara’s other co-workers, their co-workers she supposes, use, her friends use. An air to the words that makes Lena chuckle, just a little, makes her duck her head to avoid the gaze, makes her feel a little bit shy. 

 

And why does she feel shy? She shouldn’t feel shy? That’s never been in her emotional vocabulary before, as minimal as that had always been. And yet, she can’t help but talk about Kara, can’t help but share everything she knows and if it were any other person, if it were any other demon, she wouldn’t. She would know this would be a tactic, something to use against her, some knowledge to share with her mother, a weakness to be exploited by hurting Kara or proclaiming to all who could hear that the heir was weakened by a fracture of light, of something human. 

 

But Sam isn’t that. Sam is like her. And that thing in them, that fracture of something that she isn’t sure what to call, weakness? Humanity? Light? It gives her an ease to sharing with her, it creates an understanding and a trust and Lena wonders if maybe she should seek out The Keeper, if maybe there is an answer to what this is that her mother would call broken inside of her, a poison. 

 

But the thought of Kara wipes anything else and she just starts talking and she can’t stop,

 

“I don’t know that much about her other than her favorite food is potstickers, she loves romantic comedies, she believes in ghosts.” The smile that forms on Lena’s face grows and grows until it’s bright and beaming and Sam can’t help but feel a warmth in it. 

 

Feel a sense of humanity in it. And she wonders if maybe that’s what’s wrong with them, if maybe they’re just too human to be evil and if they are capable of love then maybe they aren’t all that dark.  

 

Sam makes a promise to inform Lena the second Lillian, or anyone, finds out about her, that she’ll keep the secret and cover as long as she’s able, that she’s glad Lena’s taking some time away from Hell - that she’d gladly go back into exile if it wouldn’t be all that suspicious to do so. 

 

And Lena spends the rest of the night alone, spends it finally finishing The Matrix, spends it carefully crafting her Titanic confession to Kara and wonders if maybe she should find The Keeper, if she even knows how, and she also questions if this is what happens to demons over time, if maybe they just get less dark, if this is the opposite of angels, if instead of falling they truly do rise.

 

Or maybe they just get too close to the sun and finally burn in a haze of fire instead of being encased in ice - as they were always meant to.

 

---

 

Kara barely steps off the elevator with two coffees in hand when Nia practically rushes her and tells her the Swift Street video has almost one million views. That they’ve even had to make a special preview of the first official ‘new and improved’ CatCo Investigates: The Supernatural. 

 

“How?” 

 

“People like ghosts, I don’t know, also Cat Grant wants to see you in her office in an hour, with Lena, and Brainy says the episode drops on Wednesday, he just has some editing questions to work out.” 

 

“Editing questions?” 

 

“There may have been a problem with Lena’s camera in the basement, he isn’t sure yet. But I think I’m just going to go with The Toymaker’s House as my official hashtag and then as I sift through that if any other like solid ones emerge that we can repeat I’ll bookmark those and run it by you and Lena. Sound good?” 

 

Kara just nods and looks around because, “Where is Lena?”

 

Nia shrugs and checks the time, “It’s still early, maybe she slept in, or there’s traffic, does she commute? Where does she live?” 

 

“I don’t actually know.” 

 

“Okay. Maybe she’s sick, there was a lot of dust in that house, or bacteria, we don’t know.” Nia just wanders off still muttering about all the possibilities as to why Lena could be late before turning to Kara, “Still, Cat Grant, one hour.” 

 

“One hour,” Kara repeats and looks around again, because yes she’s only known Lena for a little over a week but she was on time or even early every day of that week, and there’s something about her in particular that Kara thinks is usually timely - and maybe a small part of her has missed her even if it’s only been like a day since she’s last seen her.

 

She wants to know more, she wants to ask questions, she wants to find out when they can have a movie night and what the next investigation is going to be, but more importantly, something about her just wants to see Lena.  

 

When she gets to her desk there’s a coffee sitting on it, Kara glances around, looks from the two coffees in her hand to the one on her desk and then Lena appears around the corner, holding one of her own. 

 

“Lena! Hi!” And it’s too enthusiastic, she needs to note that, she needs to tamper that down, she’s never this happy to see anyone else. 

 

And then she hugs her, on instinct, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. She puts the two coffees down and wraps her arms around Lena and hugs her tight and when she lets go she processes all of her actions at once and immediately regrets them. 

 

Because Lena just stares at her, almost stuck, almost dumbfounded, almost uncertain as to what has just happened and Kara blinks because does she not know what a hug is? Oh no is she not a hugger? Kara should have asked. 

 

“Lena I’m so sorry I should have asked before I hugged you, it’s like a Danvers thing I’m so sorry. I won’t do it again.” 

 

“No,” Lena practically shouts, coughs out really as her green eyes blink and meet Kara’s, “It’s fine I’m just not used to people hugging me. It’s fine. You can hug me.” 

 

Kara takes a breath and nods, “I’ll make sure I ask next time before.” 

 

“Okay.” 

 

And then Lena clocks the now three coffees sitting on Kara’s desk, her own in her hand. Kara follows Lena’s gaze and huffs out a small laugh.

 

“I guess we both had the same idea,” Lena remarks and Kara nods.

 

“We should start a schedule. Mondays I bring the coffee,” Kara replies. 

 

“Why do you get Mondays?” 

 

“Because I’ve been here longer so I should get the beginning of the week.”

 

“But that would mean if we alternate that you then would be getting three days instead of my two,” Lena states and Kara considers.

 

“We switch each Friday. And we get lunch too.” 

 

“Oh well now you’re pushing it,” Lena tells her as she sips her coffee and Kara laughs, genuine and bright and Lena knows it’s one of her favorite sounds in any and all worlds. 

 

“Nia mentioned that something happened with your camera,” Kara says after she takes a seat at her respective desk. 

 

Lena sits at hers, across from Kara and looks at her, “Yes, I spoke with Brainy apparently there was a malfunction, there’s some footage of me in the basement mostly just sitting there and then leaving but there’s a good like three minutes that are gone, but it’s fine he’s just going to cut to you talking about me being down there and then they’ll show more of you freaking out.” 

 

She smirks a little at Kara’s indignation.

 

“I’m sure Alex will enjoy it.”

 

“Whose Alex?” Lena asks and Kara grabs both of the coffees for her and alternately sips between them and something in that action, that they won’t go to waste does something to Lena, does something to take that small fracture and let more of the warmth in. 

 

She takes the coffee Kara got for her and does the same. 

 

“My sister. Adopted sister, well I’m the adopted one, but she’s my sister.” 

 

Lena nods and listens and that small piece of information, of a human life before her, of anything about Kara’s life makes her hungry for more. 

 

“You know I know some things about you, but not nearly enough and since we’re going into haunted houses and surviving them, maybe that should change,” Lena says hoping her voice doesn’t betray her or her eyes, hoping that Kara can’t sense whatever this new thing is in her, this craving for information. 

 

“I agree, which means you have to share too,” Kara states, “Oh what time is it?” 

 

She looks at her phone and shrugs, “We have time.”

 

“Until what?”

 

“We have to meet with Cat Grant in an hour, she wants to go over things,” Kara taps her foot a little nervously and Lena makes a note of it, Kara gets nervous, Cat Grant makes Kara nervous. And yet Lena doesn’t make her nervous - she’s not sure why but it’s something she doesn’t really know what to do with yet. 

 

“So I’m adopted, I was taken in by the Danvers’ when I was thirteen. I have my sister Alex, she’s older, she’s married and my sister-in-law, Kelly, she’s great, there’s my mom Eliza and Jeremiah but he’s gone now, last year.” 

 

And Lena isn’t sure what she’s supposed to say, how she should respond but she knows the standard condolences and she offers them, and while she’s interested to see, to learn, where Kara came from all it does is spring up more questions. 

 

“What’s your family like?” Kara asks and at that Lena chokes on her coffee.

 

And she had told Sam she hated lying to her, but Lena can not tell her the truth. She’s pretty sure just information dumping that your mother rules Hell and your brother is in charge of torturing and you’re supposed to be the heir to Hell is not something that someone just springs on people they are becoming friends with. 

 

“My mother isn’t…I don’t really like to talk about them,” is all Lena settles on and Kara can sense the coldness in her tone and Lena can see something in her eyes, something that looks like sadness but isn’t, something that looks like wanting to pry but won’t, something that reeks of empathy and Lena can practically feel her head spin with the weight of it. 

 

“Understood, well in that case, I have a very important question to ask you, probably the most important question,” Kara says, her face stoic and serious and if Lena’s heart could beat she’s sure it would be pounding, but she doesn’t exactly have a heart, she doesn’t exactly have a soul and still she does not understand this longing she is starting to feel etched into her. 

 

But Lena has never seen Kara look like that even in the short time she’s known her, so she’s immediately on edge. Has she figured it out? Has she put it together? Does she know that Lena isn’t human? 

 

“Okay?” Lena questions and then Kara brightens and Lena’s worries are immediately thrown from her thoughts faster than they intruded. 

 

“Do you think the All Too Well Ten Minute Version is the same as when Shakespeare dropped his seminal works or am I not normal?” 

 

Lena blinks, tries not to dwell on someone saying ‘Shakespeare dropping his seminal works,’ and not that she would brag, she hadn’t met the dude, but she had met a few literary geniuses, a couple who had sold their souls, and while she wasn’t exactly the biggest Shakespeare fan, she had to admit…

 

“I think it’s probably more of a cultural reset than Avatar,” Lena states and Kara laughs at that, hard and Lena had watched it the night before, had spent most of her night not sleeping and watching what Sam had told her were important cultural movies. 

 

“We have to expand your movie references because listen, Avatar, overrated and just borrowing from better things. Technically wonderful but story wise,” Kara gives a thumbs down and Lena shrugs. 

 

“It’s one of the few I’ve seen.” 

 

“One of the few?” Kara asks, “Is that why Titanic is your favorite? Because you haven’t seen that many.”

 

“Kara I have a confession to make,” Lena takes a breath and Kara just looks at her, really looks, open and honest and waiting, “I’ve never actually seen Titanic, I just said it because it was the first movie I could think of when you asked.”

 

And Lena isn’t sure why she’s suddenly so nervous about it, why her hands are twisting around themselves of their own accord and why Kara laughs. 

 

“Then that’s first on the list.”

 

“The list?”

 

“Well movie night list, after our next investigation remember? You made a deal. I get movie nights.” Kara smiles, “Friends do movie nights.”

 

And Lena nods because she had made a deal and demons, no matter how non-demonic, do not go back on deals.

 

“Then what is your favorite movie?” Kara asks, genuine, as she turns in her chair and finishes both of her coffees in record time.

 

“Of the ones I’ve seen,” Lena states because she hasn’t seen many, even with the previous night’s additions, she’s caught a few, as she’d traveled over the years, she’d ventured into movie theaters, seen them in people’s homes, witnessed the rise of VHS and Blockbuster and it’s disappearance - but she’d only watched, truly watched, and enjoyed, very few. 

 

The arts, while appreciated down below, her mother and others knew well that artists were far more likely to sell their souls, easy and desperate targets, but to truly enjoy it, to see something was a rare gift, the experience, the emotion, because Lena, and others like her, couldn’t quite grasp all of the concept of the human experience, and the ending of it, that so many things seemed to ultimately be about. 

 

How can someone who doesn’t experience death really understand a story about life? Especially if someone doesn’t really live a life? 

 

“Of the ones you’ve seen,” Kara retorts, waiting and Lena realizes she’s been thinking far too long, been silent for far too long, lost in her own thoughts and spirals and waxing poetic about immortality. 

 

“Don’t laugh and don’t judge,” Lena says and Kara does a whole routine of raising her hand, swearing on an invisible bible and zipping her mouth shut. 

 

“I don’t know,” she admits and Kara breaks into the widest grin Lena has ever seen on her. She points at her, already defensive, “I said don’t judge!” 

 

“I’m not! I’m not. Look, it’s okay to not know, I mean especially if you haven’t seen that many. But that just means we’re going to spend movie nights figuring it out.” Kara brightens and Lena wonders why she was so terrified about that lie, she wonders even more what it means, she keeps wondering what all of it means. 

 

Maybe she should go find The Keeper. Maybe Sam was right to point her in that direction. 

 

Kara is excited by the prospect, excited to help someone figure out what their favorite movie could be, even more excited that she’s going to get to spend a lot of movie nights watching someone see some of her own personal favorites for the first time. 

 

She shares,  “Mine is The Wizard of Oz,” and she remembers that in the first conversation she hadn’t shared hers, that Lena hadn’t asked, had been so caught up in answering the questions Kara had been throwing at her she hadn’t had time to get her own in. 

 

Kara decides that should change, that after their meeting it’ll be Lena’s turn to ask all the questions she wants.  

 

“The Wizard of Oz? Really?”

 

“Hey! No! Don’t judge, you’ve seen like no movies so…also The Wizard of Oz is quite literally responsible for all major movies that we have now, without it, do you honestly think Titanic would have existed? No! It wouldn’t have! That level of epic filmmaking would not have been thought of!”

 

“Have you seen The Matrix?” Lena asks and Kara nods.

 

“Yeah, again, also a movie that wouldn’t have existed without The Wizard of Oz,” Kara states, her hands moving in a flurry as if she’s in a courtroom defending her favorite movie. 

 

“I wasn’t judging and you’re right, I just…that feels right.” Lena smiles then and Kara’s not quite anger but defensiveness recedes. 

 

“So Titanic? We’re starting with Titanic? Oh we could do a whole James Cameron thing but also…” Kara shakes her head. 

 

“Maybe we should go by years, Citizen Kane, Dial M for Murder, Alfred Hitchcock. I’m not a fan but you might like them.” 

 

“Do I come across as pretentious?” 

 

“No just like dark and mysterious. Not in a bad way just like you would be the detective in the dark room that some engenue walks into and is like help me my rich husband was murdered.” 

 

Lena laughs then, genuinely and wholly laughs, and even she is surprised by how different it sounds but it makes Kara smile a little wider, a little differently, and Lena is even more shocked to notice the differences in Kara’s smiles. 

 

She doesn’t think too hard on it, just responds with, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, also I don’t like those movies. I watched like one Alfred Hitchcock movie,” she doesn’t mention it was when she was on the set of it, “not a fan.” (she wasn’t.)

 

“Okay then, Titanic, that feels right, that feels…I see you Lena Luthor and Titanic and it makes sense.” 

 

“Whatever that means, are you ready for this meeting?” Lena asks, noting the time and Kara shakes her head, does not want to go, but they do. 

 

“We’re in it together though, right?” Kara asks and Lena nods because they are, they are in whatever this is together. 

 

And then they learn that not only is Cat Grant very pleased with their episode, not only does she want more banter, an entire hashtag dedicated to some mashup of their names, but she wants a bigger investigation. 

 

And she wants them to spend the night there. Just one night, because all the popular shows do that and they will surely be popular with their chemistry. 

 

Kara ducks her head at the word and Lena just stares because she’s not entirely sure what that means but it makes her grip the seat just a little tighter. 

 

“With the hashtags, the banter, you two, I have a certifiable hit and I will not go backwards. We will expand and grow and make it even better. You spend the night in one your little haunted locations from now on - provided of course legally they allow you to, otherwise a hotel will do.”

 

“Are there haunted hotels?” Cat Grant asks and both Kara and Lena respond with a simultaneous yes and no.  

 

Somehow, that makes Cat Grant smile and point between them, “This is what they’ll like, that energy, that back and forth. Be bigger with it.” 

 

“What does that mean?” Lena asks and Cat rolls her eyes. 

 

“Be more sarcastic Lena I don’t know, figure it out, be more Scully but with the wit of a Buffy. And Kiera you can be a more unhinged and terrified  member of the ghostbusters. Now what is the next locale?” 

 

Kara looks to Lena because it technically is her turn to pick and Lena says something about a house, another house but this one decidedly not haunted, however that does not work for Cat. 

 

“What about that asylum you pitched for your finale?” She asks and Kara stiffens. 

 

“Go there next.”

 

“But when what will we have for the finale, Ms. Grant?” Kara asks, her voice a little soft and nervous. 

 

“Isn’t there something like that massive hotel that you were trying to discard, you’ll do that one, or another large historical haunted theater, it’s not that hard. But the asylum is next.”

 

And Lena remembers the asylum, remembers looking at it’s notes and pictures and she wonders, no, she knows, she’s going to have to do some serious work to keep whatever lurks there back. 

 

Cat Grant waves them away without much of a dismissal and when they get back to their desks Kara is pale. 

 

“I don’t want to sleep there, it’s probably filled with asbestos.” 

 

“Oh it definitely is, this place is going to be gross.” And she’s seen worse, she’s been in worse, but even in worse conditions she’s sure this place is certifiably haunted and filled with something that just eats the happiness right out of humans. 

 

Lena briefly considers flexing a little bit of her energy, of semi-threatening Cat Grant to keep them away from the asylum, that they will not be sleeping there, that Kara will never step foot anywhere on it’s grounds, but as they get to work, as Kara freaks out because she says a quote from Lord of the Rings and Lena hasn’t seen it so she does not contribute to the reference - vowing that it will be their first movie night, well movie weekend because they have to watch the extended editions, it will require a sleepover, and there will be no leaving once they enter the world of Middle Earth - Lena wonders if going into the asylum is going to be all that bad if it means that afterwards she gets to be warm.

 

“We just need to survive the asylum first,” Lena states and Kara shakes her head at that, finds her pages of notes and shudders. She really really does not want to go in there. 

 

“It probably won’t be all that bad,” Kara says, Kara lies. 

 

“You’re lying.”

 

“Yeah it’s going to be terrible.”

 

“But then we get to watch Lord of the Rings.”

 

“Or Titanic,” Kara replies but Lena shakes her head.

 

“Lord of the Rings, full marathon, no stops, no leaving.”

 

“I do like the sound of that.” 

 

Lena thinks on Sam’s words, thinks on how she’s going to keep Kara safe, thinks that maybe living two lives isn’t something she can do. She thinks on the warning sirens, and she thinks on the fact that her mother is bound to find out sooner or later - sooner being the more operative word and she finds that for the first time she doesn’t care and she will deal with it when that shoe drops. 

 

For now she has to make plans to visit Arkham Asylum with her friend, with Kara Danvers and plans for a Lord of the Rings marathon with that same friend after. 

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FOUR: THE CURSED SPIRITS OF ARKHAM ASYLUM (PART ONE)



“So that looks…” Kara starts, staring around at the sprawling grounds looming building. 

 

It’s all sharp angles, large and imposing, rising out of shadow and radiating a darkness that almost seems like it should always be illuminated by a crack of lightning, with thunder and cawing crows as it’s only soundtrack. 

 

The large structure, with it’s cracked windows, old brick, and sharp edges seems to glare at them from the darkness - as if it were a monster only beginning to bare its teeth at them, it’s very soul raging. It’s gated entrance creaks and squeaks with the slightest brush of wind, the glaring fence made of heavy iron with spikes on top practically dares anyone to try to enter. 

 

And everything feels cold, spacious and cavernous and so cold, like a deep chill that seems to whistle through the darkened building and across the grounds as if it were screaming. 

 

“It looks like a castle,” Lena says as she looks at the angular central tower in the center and it’s similar smaller triangular windows at the sides, like spirals rising, like eyes watching, “Very House on Haunted Hill. Vincent Price would love it.”

 

Kara stutters and shakes her head, “Vincent Price? That’s your reference?” 

 

Lena shrugs, “It’s one of the few that I have,” and that is true, old Hollywood she has on lock, it’s the modern references that she’s not great at. 

 

Kara just continues to look at the haunted castle structure, “You know I’ve seen this place on a bunch of other ghost hunting shows and not once did I think, ‘one day that’ll be me.’ And yet…”

 

“Here you are,” Lena says with a faint, amused, smile and Kara shakes her head and fights a chill that creeps up her spine. 

 

Lena resists the urge to grab her hand. 

 

It’s something she’s noticed in the past day, the past couple of days, specifically since Wednesday, the wanting to hold Kara’s hand, for no reason and any reason. 

 

And it’s only getting worse, that desire.

 

“Well, welcome to one of the most haunted buildings in the world,” Kara says in a shaky voice and Lena analyzes, stares around at the grounds and tries to feel it out, feels a surge in her own power as she does, feels the darkness that is almost all consuming - and she’s lying if she says it doesn’t make her feel good, powerful - like herself.

 

She’s almost excited to explore it. 

 

But Kara is decidedly not. And her shaky fear, her wide eyed stare and downright adorable frown as she looks at the very old building, combined with the sudden like drinking twelve shots of espresso surge of energy, has Lena about ready to stand in front of Kara the entire time, carrying her if she has to, and yelling at every potential ghost that could still be occupying the place. 

 

She’s practically giddy with the idea of it. 

 

“Wasn’t the last place we went to one of the most haunted buildings?” Lena asks, amusement in her voice despite the careful way she looks around, despite her trying not to pretend she may be enjoying this, “How can every place be one of the most haunted places?” 

 

“Because…” Kara starts to argue and then a wind rushes through the grounds, making the gate shake and rattle and creak so loudly she falls back into Lena and Kara thinks if this were an episode of Scooby Doo she would have jumped into her arms. 

 

Lena grabs Kara’s arm to steady her and she’s much stronger than Kara thought she was and that almost has Kara taken aback and staring, until she blinks and takes a breath and tries to find the source of the sound - very aware that Lena’s hand still grips her arm to keep her safe.

 

Very aware that she almost feels braver because of it.  

 

She sees the gate, creaking as it opens and shakes in the wind. The name Arkham Asylum formed across the top in metal scrawling letters, as if to warn anyone who would even think about coming to the gate to stay away. 

 

“That’s not a ghost, that's just wind and metal,” Lena says calmly, still holding Kara’s arm, firm and sure and Kare takes another breath to calm her racing heart. 

 

“I know,” she says, she lies, because for a brief minute she thought it was over, that some specter was going to emerge and murder them. She recovers, feels the pressure of Lena’s hand on her arm and, sounding more confident than before, she repeats, “I know.” 

 

Lena can’t help but smirk, can’t help but raise an eyebrow and watch Kara collect herself, can’t help but bite down the feeling of loss as she drops her hand from Kara’s arm as the other woman brushes herself off and stares down Arkham Asylum like she’s daring it to try again. 

 

And that does have Lena’s head spinning just a little, the sudden confidence of Kara, the sudden fierce and rising to the challenge attitude that she seems to have pulled from out of nowhere. 

 

And Lena wonders if she did pull it from nowhere, or if she took it from her, but…that shouldn’t be possible. 

 

“Oh, you look ready,” Lena says and Kara just nods. 

 

“I did some research and if you aren’t afraid they can’t hurt you.”

 

“And you’re not afraid?” 

 

“No, I’m…I’m not.” 

 

Kara keeps her determination and confidence and lack of fear as they cross the gravel driveway, as they take the stone steps up one by one, she’s ready to face the ghosts and a cursed and deeply haunted, historical building…

 

…until they reach the front door of Arkham Asylum.

 

---

 

The week leading up to Arkham is interesting to say the least. For both Lena and Kara. Because while Lena has never had a friend or someone who cares for her and trusts her so implicitly, Kara has never had a friendship born so easily and effortlessly. 

 

She’s always been an awkward person and it doesn’t gel with everyone. It had made high school an actual nightmare. But with Lena, she doesn’t feel like she’s trying too hard or playing that game of how weird she can be until she’s too weird - hiding parts of herself that she’s too scared to share with someone, just getting to be herself with no expectations.

 

It almost shocks her when she thinks about just how easy it feels but not nearly enough for her to question why it seems to be simple in a way few things in her life have been.

 

She just thinks maybe she’s lucky. 

 

And Lena doesn’t know nearly enough about friendship to realize that they’re starting to blur lines that cross a certain threshold, a threshold she’s not even aware exists. 

 

It all just feels so natural it’s almost scary and Lena is supposed to be scary so that alone has her wondering what this feeling is. This…shaking in her skin, this feeling like the ends of a wire, frayed and sparking. That has her wanting to see Kara as soon as possible, that has her taking a breath as soon as she gets a glimpse of blonde hair when she sees her at work, that has her watching her as she talks about the logistics of Arkham. 

 

“Do you have a sleeping bag?” Kara asks Lena and she freezes, blinking as she realizes that she’s been staring. Kara continues anyway, taking Lena’s silence to mean confusion at her question and not at her just staring at her, “For when we have to sleep in Arkham, I doubt they’re going to have a king size bed with down pillows and cotton sheets.” 

 

And Kara laughs lightly and Lena remembers sharing a bed with Kara and wonders if the option were there, whether or not Kara would take it, whether or not she’d share with Lena again.

 

Lena remembers sleep, she remembers peace and she realizes she’s still silent and still staring and she needs to say something…

 

“Oh…no…” Lena admits even when she isn’t sure there isn’t one at the penthouse she occupies because she has to speak or it’s going to get weird. Her staring is going to get weird.

 

“I’ll have Alex give me two then,” Kara replies so easily, with no expectation of any offer in exchange, that Lena stumbles and inevitably forces out a quick, ‘thanks,’ only to be met with Kara’s, “No problem.”

 

And it really isn’t, not to Kara, but to Lena, it’s a gift, it means everything. Because no one in her life has ever just offered something to her, not without caveats or contracts or manipulation, and that simple act, thought about or not, is enough to have Lena wondering if all humans are just like this. 

 

She knows they aren’t. She’s seen them at their worst, but Kara seems to be them at their best. Or better than the rest. 

 

“I should probably get your number, I mean given we are going to have movie nights in our future and lots of plans, plus I can send you the best memes,” and Kara doesn’t mean for it to come out a little nervous, she’s twenty eight years old for Christ’s sake, and it’s not like it’s weird, it’s not like she’s going to hit up Lena late at night for some nudes, she wouldn’t, not that if Lena wasn’t into it…wait what? Where did that come from? No…it’s just new friend nerves and her mind doing that fun thing of spiraling around random impulse thoughts, nothing more. 

 

It’s that weird before where you’re still learning about a person, where you’re still not entirely sure just how weird you can be, if you two even really vibe as friends and you’re still feeling each other out. 

 

But she knows they get along, they have already, they’ve been in a haunted house together, they’ve technically had a sleepover already, and, judging by the past two weeks, they’ll have inside jokes before the month is over, but it still makes Kara sweat just a little when she asks, when she isn’t sure how much Lena texts, if at all, if Lena would even want to have any conversation outside of work.

 

And Kara knows they’ve made plans but it’s all too easy to pretend something came up when you don’t really want to go, when you don’t have a number to contact them with.

 

There’s an uneasy silence as Kara’s brain spirals and Lena just stares and tries to not panic and come up with an excuse as to why she doesn’t have a number to give. 

 

“I would love to give you my number, Kara, but I’m in between phones at the moment.” And Lena nods like it’s sufficient, like it’s the perfect half-truth.

 

“Oh, okay well…when you get a new one.” But Kara only has more questions about Lena after that. Why she would be in between phones, why she would be so shaken at the question of her number, why she seems like she’s hiding something or running from it, why there seems to be something going unsaid in her silences. 

 

After work Lena stops at a store, she uses her own darkness to persuade the worker to sell her a phone and set it up and then she promptly conjures up a credit card whose bank account does not actually exist but works all the same and she blinks and erases the memory of the person who works there and the camera’s footage all in one fell swoop.

 

She spends the rest of Monday night and into Tuesday morning learning the inner workings of the phone and setting it up. She summons Sam and when she shows up, confused at Lena’s frantic pacing as she holds out an IPhone, she just laughs and puts her own number in.

 

“Welcome to modern times.” 

 

Kara spends Monday night on the phone with Alex.

 

“You’re going to Arkham Asylum?” Alex asks after Kara unloads all her fears about it and then continues to share how freaked out she actually is about it. 

 

“And then I asked Lena for her number today and she got all weird and then I felt weird but, Alex I think there’s something going on with her. Like I think maybe she’s like hiding from something.” 

 

“Maybe she’s in the witness protection program.” And Kara knows that Alex is being sarcastic, that she’s wearing a shit eating grin as she entertains Kara’s theories and rambling.

 

“Wouldn’t you know that FBI Agent Danvers?” 

 

“Not really. It’s secret.” Kara hears her niece, Esme, ask Alex something and she smiles to herself at the little girl’s voice before Alex is right back in her ear. 

 

“Or maybe she really did just need a new phone, or maybe she got out of a bad breakup and moved and that’s also why she needs a new phone.”

 

And Kara tries to ignore the slight twinge of slight jealousy and slight anger towards the person who may have broken Lena’s heart, who may not even exist.

 

“Or…Kara, I know you think you’re becoming fast friends but maybe she doesn’t think that.” 

 

“What does that mean?” 

 

“I just…you tend to give everything to people you care about when they don’t give the same back. I don’t want you to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. And yes I am referring to Mike.” 

 

“Alex, I didn’t…he gave enough…it’s not like he tore my heart apart in some evil scheme, it just wasn’t meant to be. It ran its course.” And yes maybe she had told him she loved him, maybe that had scared him away, maybe she wasn’t sure if she really did love him or had just said it because it felt like the thing to say, it felt like he wanted her to say it and when she had, something broke in both of them. 

 

Maybe they were both better off because neither one of them was all that happy, not truly, not in the way they should have been. It shouldn’t have been that hard to keep the relationship together. It shouldn’t have felt like they were forcing it at the end. It’s not supposed to be that way.

 

It’s supposed to be work, yes, but it’s supposed to be equal work and it’s supposed to feel challenging but worth it. And some days it should feel easy. It never felt easy with Mike. And at the end it didn’t feel worth it for either of them.

 

“I’m not trying to push Lena, it’s not like I’m trying to court her or anything, I just think she’s…she’s lonely but she’s all alone too. I don’t know if she has any other friends here in the city or anywhere, and she doesn’t talk about her family, she really doesn't talk to anyone else at work besides me, and she usually eats lunch alone, and I just…I know what it feels like to need a friendly face but not know how to ask and I want to be that for her.”

 

And Kara remembers herself at twelve years old, arriving in Midvale, arriving at the Danvers house amidst grief and trauma and tragedy. And she remembers a time when she didn’t speak, when she was angry and scared and alone and hurting in all the worst ways, unable to talk to the people she really wanted to, unable to see the Danvers as anything but strangers who were taking pity on her, and she knows Alex remembers it too, knows Alex knows how much she means to her.

 

“Okay,” Alex says quietly, with a heavy breath, and Kara takes one too, and then in that same breath Alex picks up on what preceded the pouring of emotions and can’t resist roasting her for it, “Did you just say ‘court her?’ Who are you, Jane Austen?” 

 

“First of all, if I was Jane Austen, that would be insane because that means I'm immortal, and two…I don’t know why I said that it just happened.”

 

“Do you want to be courting her?” Alex teases.

 

“No, please stop. It was just the first words I thought of. We’re friends, I want to court friendship.”

 

“Now you’re ruining it by being weird,” Alex states and then her words turn serious again, “Well, either way. I just…I hope when you go into these places you’re safe and around people who you can trust, who have your back. And if you think that’s Lena, if you think she’s worth all this effort just for your friendship, then good luck with the courting.” 

 

“I didn’t mean to say courting!” 

 

---

 

Lena shows up to work on Tuesday with coffee for her and Kara - she gives Kara her number and tries not to notice how wide Kara smiles. She tries not to feel her own smile creep on her face when she scrolls through her two contacts, her two friends, Kara and Sam.

 

She hadn’t known what would come of Kara having her number. She hadn’t anticipated much outside of maybe a text or two regarding work. But, by lunchtime on Tuesday, Kara has sent her three pictures of dogs she’s seen on her lunch break and then asks Lena what her favorite donut is. 

 

Lena stays at her desk during lunch, perusing the history of Arkham and it’s potential occupants, including a series of doctors who seemed to have ended up as patients - interesting and unnerving in the same sentence.

 

When Kara asks her about the donut, she just stares at the pixelated words and wonders if she should just say she wasn’t allowed them growing up, it’s not like that’s not a lie, Hell wasn’t known for its baked goods, but that feels like an invitation to an entire other conversation she isn’t quite ready to lie her way through.

 

So she thinks maybe she should just say it’s some flavor ike chocolate or glazed or something boring and simple and popular, because no she hasn’t exactly enjoyed her share of donuts but glazed is classic, right? 

 

She spends so much time debating which one doesn’t sound like a lie or overly specific and which one she’d rather eat without ever having one before, that before she knows it, lunch is over and Kara is back with two strawberry frosted donuts.

 

“If you don’t like it I’ll be happy to eat them both and run and get you a different one.” 

 

“Why would you do that?” Lena asks and she doesn’t mean to sound offended, she doesn’t mean to sound as confused as she does or as defensive, she’s just not used to someone giving and giving and giving and not expecting anything. And Kara had just gotten her a donut because she’d been getting one for herself and the thought had occurred to get one for her too. Without hesitation, without any sort of give and take, she just got it because she thought about it. 

 

She thought about her. 

 

And Lena doesn’t know how to feel about someone thinking about her, thinking about her and not feeling shame or fear or anger. Just thinking about her and caring enough that they would be willing to turn around and get her something she actually likes.

 

“Do you not like donuts?” Kara asks and she looks just as confused as Lena, “I’m sorry if I offended you, or…”

 

“No, you didn’t I just…I’m not used to people giving me things or just like thinking about me and not…” Lena’s struggling to explain it. 

 

How can she explain it? How can she say I’m a demon whose been around for a couple hundred years, my mother is the Queen of Hell, I’m the heir to it, and you just got me a donut and no one in Hell has ever gotten me a donut or even asked how I feel, no human being has ever gotten me anything that wasn’t offering their soul in exchange for my help with something, usually some form of power? 

 

It wasn’t possible to say that. It wasn’t possible to explain all of that.

 

She’s fairly certain if she tried Kara would run to the nearest church and never leave. Or she’d have Lena committed. Or herself. Either way it wouldn’t be good. Few humans could handle the truth, few humans hadn’t lost their minds when they’d learned the truth and Lena didn’t want to test the theory that Kara would be fine if she wasn’t certain.

 

If she didn’t think it would mean losing her.

 

“Lena,” and Kara doesn’t know what she wants to say, what she should even say, because what kind of life, what kind of childhood or family has Lena had if she reacts like this to a donut? To someone giving her something just because? To someone caring? To someone being kind?

 

And Kara feels a sadness for Lena she can’t quite describe. It’s not pity, it’s not something that makes her stomach turn, but she feels something…an almost anger at the world, at the universe, at Lena’s family for the end result. 

 

She wants to hug her, she wants to tell her that she has someone who cares now, who will always care, but instead she just stays silent, she waits, patiently, for Lena to speak, for Lena to say anything or share why she moved to National City, to share anything more about herself at all. 

 

But Lena doesn’t. She just says, “Thank you.”

 

And Kara grabs two napkins and places the strawberry frosted donuts on one for each of them and hands it to Lena who smells it and smiles and Kara can’t help but ask, 

 

“You do eat donuts, right?”

 

And all Lena can do is smirk, forget her momentary spark of some emotion she doesn’t know the name of just yet, and lie, “I am human.”

 

And she means it as a joke, and Kara takes it the way it’s meant to, but Lena still chokes on her donut when Kara responds with a sarcastic, “Sometimes, I’m not so sure.”

 

Tuesday after work Lena buys a dozen donuts on her way home. 

 

They’re all different flavors and combinations, she needs to be well informed if - when - Kara asks again. Because Kara has a habit of just bringing snacks or things and offering them like it’s nothing, and if Kara likes donuts as much as she seemed to imply she did, Lena knows it won’t be the last time they share them. Not for as long as they work together, for as long as they’re friends.

 

And Lena wonders how long that will actually be. Lena wonders if Kara is going to want to continue being friends when she gives and gives and Lena does nothing in return. 

 

She decides she’s going to have to reciprocate one of these days. She decides that with however long their ghost adventures partnership lasts, however long the friendship has, she should at least be as devoted to it as Kara seems to be. 

 

She’s just not sure what that entails, but she decides to try, to be a little more open, to let Kara in the walls she’s keeping secure. Not let her behind all of them, not the truth, not that, but just enough to maybe understand Lena a little, enough that Lena doesn’t feel as alone and Kara doesn’t feel like she’s the only one in this whole partnership and carrying the friendship. 

 

Because Lena had wanted to talk about her mother, had wanted to talk about her family, had wanted to talk about the things she’s seen and faced, in a palatable way of course, but she still wanted to talk. 

 

She wanted to talk to Kara about it all.

 

It strikes her when she bites into the sixth donut, a jelly filled one she marks down as high on her list of likes, that she’s been craving this for a while, she’s been craving friendship, and kindness, contact. A real connection with someone to talk to, someone who would listen, someone who didn’t expect anything from her but her presence.

 

And it’s like she’s been waiting for someone like Kara to step into her path, like she needed her and the universe answered. She wonders if she had never gone to Swift Street would it have happened? Would she still be lonely in Hell and waiting for her path to be set for her, her fate to be decided by her mother? Would she have had the courage to stay gone as long as she has?  As long as she’s considering it? Perhaps even permanently? 

 

Or would she have been resigned to it all in Hell? Would she have just stayed and waited and wondered if there was more, if she could be more? 

 

If she had never laughed on that tape would she have followed Kara’s warmth or would she have just watched it fade in just a moment, a memory, in her long existence? 

 

Her phone chimes and she jumps and sees Kara’s name pop up with the words FaceTime and she’s not sure what it means but she answers anyway and finds herself looking at the woman who disrupted her pre-set path.

 

And she smiles wider than she has since meeting her.

 

Kara doesn’t mean to FaceTime Lena. She really doesn’t. 

 

She means to text her, she means to tread the waters of if she wants to talk about her reaction to the donuts, she means to ask about where Lena was before she came to National City, she means to word it in a way that Lena doesn’t feel pressured or like she’s being put in some interrogation booth. 

 

Kara is curious about her friend, but, more importantly, she wants Lena to know that she’s there if she ever wants to talk about whatever it is she’s gone through or going through and she’s content to never know if that’s what Lena wants. 

 

She spends an hour pacing while trying to find the right words to convey that she’s there if Lena wants her to be in a way that doesn’t sound weird or pushy. She types and erases and types again and accidentally deletes the entire text thread with the dog pictures she’d sent earlier. 

 

And when she clicks Lena’s name to start anew she clicks the FaceTime button by mistake and doesn’t notice until it starts making that piercing ring, but by then it’s too late. 

 

Lena answers and Kara runs to her kitchen so Lena can’t see the mess that is her couch and living room, hoping Lena can’t also see the National City University sweatshirt and pajama pants that do not match, that she’s been wearing since she got home from work. 

 

And yes she is aware that Lena has seen her in pajamas, that they’ve basically had a sleepover already, but it’s not the same - this she is unprepared for. 

 

“You can hang up on me,” Kara almost yells, worried that Lena will but also hoping that she will, as she leans on her counter in her kitchen, attempting to be casual, a bag of chips clearly in view, an open bag of chips she had been snacking on as she paced around her apartment trying to craft the perfect text to Lena, “I wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk about Arkham and I just thought this might be easier to go over our…notes!” 

 

Kara hopes Lena can’t see the way she cringes at her own lie or hear the emphasis on the word ‘notes.’

 

“That sounds fine to me. We can talk about Arkham…or…” And Lena isn’t sure why she blurts out, “Jelly donuts are my favorite,” but she does and Kara just nods and Lena feels a little proud of herself for finally sharing something, for finally figuring out something about herself that is hers alone, that she can share with someone who isn’t from Hell.

 

And it’s a weird notion, but it’s what friends do. They share. They learn things about each other and now Kara knows this. 

 

“Noted,” Kara says and that makes Lena sit up a little straighter, feel a little prouder, smile a little wider. 

 

And then Kara leans a little too close to her phone, her eyes widening as she looks behind Lena and says, “Is that your apartment?! Golly you must be loaded.” And Kara shuts her eyes because…why, why would she say it like that. Golly?! Who says that?!

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to imply…I’m much more normal on the phone.”

 

“Kara we work together and you believe in ghosts, I know you’re not normal,” Lena smirks and ignores the way her stomach seems to drop when Kara scrunches her nose and ducks her head and that’s new, she’s never felt whatever that was before.

 

She’s not sure she’d hate it if she felt it again. 

 

“Yes, this is my apartment,” Lena finally answers Kara’s earlier question, a little stiffly as she ignores the possibly being rich comment because she can’t exactly say she’s squatting in a wealthy human’s penthouse, a wealthy human who is only wealthy because they’d sold their soul to her and she’d extended the length of the deal in exchange for penthouse occupancy. 

 

Instead she just proceeds, in the same light tone Kara had, with, “Is that your dinner?” And Kara glances from the phone to the bag of chips. 

 

“I’m stress snacking,” Kara admits, technically not a lie, but also not entirely the truth. Because she had been stress snacking, but she was stress snacking because she was worried about texting Lena, not worried about Arkham. But she just lets Lena fill in the blanks on her own and assume it’s just Kara’s fear of the supernatural or the fear of their first episode dropping tomorrow. 

 

“It’ll be fine,” Lena says, assuming it’s the latter, and then they talk about the first episode, and Lena listens to Kara worriedly talk about comments, how she’s not sure she’s prepared for them or for people to actively watch her on some show. She’s equally worried about no one watching and Lena assuages that too by telling her that Cat Grant believes in it and she wouldn’t just say that she believed in something if she didn’t.

 

All in all Lena doesn’t really care how the show pans out or who watches it or what they say about it, but Kara does, so Lena listens, and Lena is there, and Lena helps calm Kara with only a few words and the repeated promise of, “Anyone who watches the show is going to love you and if they don’t I’ll fight them.”

 

“At least I have plenty of leftovers in case people hate me. Well…not plenty…I swear I thought I had more yesterday.” There were decidedly less takeout containers than there had been the day before, but there was still half a cold pizza left, so she had flashed the phone over it as she’d removed one of the slices with a victorious, “See? Chips aren’t my only dinner and this one has all the food groups represented in one delicious handheld delivery system.”

 

And Lena, who is not human, who does not need to really eat, who does not need the same levels of nutrition as a human but knows they do in fact need to exist on more than pizza, just scoffs, “You need more than that. You need something green.”

 

And Kara grimaces and it has Lena laughing and her stomach does that little drop again and she’s not used to feeling much but she likes this, whatever it is, and then neither one of them is all that focused on talking about work. 

 

They’re just talking. As friends.

 

“I’m not much for cooking,” Kara tells her and Lena shrugs.

 

“I’m not either but I keep wanting to learn,” and that isn’t an outright lie, it’s about as close to the truth as Lena can get. She did want to learn and she wasn’t much for cooking currently. The other stuff, the reasons why, could stay buried between the lines, omitted without a second thought. 

 

“You should. It would be nice to have a friend who can cook,” Kara teases and Lena’s mind momentarily blanks at Kara’s future plans, at her casual use of the word friend as if it’s been decided and then she asks, “Did you eat already?” Because of course she’s noticed that Lena doesn’t seem to be in the middle of dinner and it’s not like she’d seen the box of donuts with their careful bites and a notepad of taste testing notes. 

 

Lena’s pretty sure if Kara saw that she’d have more than a few questions. She’d probably write Lena off entirely at that point as some kind of insane freak of a person and Lena wouldn’t blame her for doing so.

 

She buries the thought that it would make it easier to leave. That it would be better than Kara knowing the truth and Lena leaving anyway. 

 

“I already ate.” And that was a lie but only kind of, because she had eaten donuts, but Kara didn’t need to know that. And Lena isn’t quite sure what she’s said that has Kara looking at her like she could read the lie, like a detective sorting something out, but it does have Lena about ready to hang up and claim she’d lost the connection the next day at work. 

 

“Lena,” Kara starts with a smirk, her tone teasing and light and airy, “Did you have a date?”

 

Lena coughs and stops herself from choking as she bites down a laugh when she answers, “No.” And the thought is hilarious for a multitude of reasons, the most pressing being that she is literally the heir to Hell and what human person would even want to date her, would even feel comfortable enough to be that vulnerable near her? 

 

She has a flash of Kara falling asleep next to her in a hotel, as vulnerable as she could have been, and she shakes the image from her head before she can think too hard on it.

 

“So you just always look like that? What are you, a Cullen?” And Kara laughs at her own joke before realizing that Lena must always just look like…well…that. And then she tries to hide the slight blush creeping up her neck that she hopes Lena can’t see through the phone and why was she blushing? She shouldn’t be blushing, right? 

 

And then she finds her laughter falling on silence, finds Lena looking at her with a raised eyebrow and an uncertain expression, and she blinks because…

 

“Oh my God, Lena, please tell me you’ve seen Twilight,” but when no answer comes, Kara is standing from where she’s been sitting in her kitchen and she’s moving, “Oh my God! Please go to your Netflix right now!” 

 

“Kara…”

 

“Do you not have Netflix?! Please go to your TV and if you say you don’t have one I swear we’re getting you one tomorrow after work.” 

 

“I have a TV.” Technically not hers but Kara didn’t need to know that, “Also I want to be clear, I’ve seen movies, I’m not some like cult escapee, I’ve seen things. Not everything, but I’ve seen movies.” And she has, maybe not enough for Kara’s breadth of knowledge and frame of reference, but she’s seen some.

 

“Well not enough, not Twilight, so go to the TV please.” 

 

And she’s not sure why the force of will Kara seems to have over her has her walking into the living room of the penthouse, has her turning on the TV and clicking on the little Netflix icon, but she does it all the same. And before Lena can even make any attempt at guessing a possible username and password Kara is already offering hers.

 

“Just make your own profile, it's fine, you can set up your own account another time. You have to see Twilight like right now. I think they’re gonna take it off next week. I’ll watch it on my profile too!”

 

And Lena loses Kara to the ceiling as Kara waves her phone around and there’s the distinct sound of someone hitting a couch and that couch giving a slight creak in response. And then Lena is met with Kara’s face as she adjusts the phone so they can see each other while they watch the movie. 

 

And Lena wants to mention that they have a movie night planned for Friday as per the parameters of their working agreement, but there’s just something so spontaneous and ordinary and Kara and human about the entire situation, so she has no choice but to sit on the pristine white leather couch in the penthouse and set up her own profile on Kara’s account, marveling at the ease with which Kara just shares, at the weight and lightness their friendship seems to carry and how quick and almost too easy it is. 

 

She briefly wonders if Lillian might actually have something to do with it, but she buries the dark thought before it can truly take root. Kara is too good, too Kara, for Lillian to have had any inch of influence over her. 

 

And Lena will not let Lillian ruin this, not even inadvertently, with the whisper of a thought or fear.

 

“I’ll count down from three and then we’ll both hit play,” Kara says, and it snaps Lena out of her thoughts of her mother and back to the world that is Kara and her, their apartments on opposite sides of the city, connected over Facetime, preparing to watch Twilight together. 

 

“You don’t have to watch it with me,” Lena argues only a little half-heartedly. 

 

“No, I do, that was a killer joke and I need to be there when you get it. You are welcome to get changed if you’d like to not have to be all…” Kara gives Lena a look into the phone and Lena doesn’t know what Kara means, not truly, but she does understand the gesture, understands in Kara’s sweatshirt and comfortable position on her own couch that Lena is not expected to be perfect and put together and the heir in this moment. 

 

Kara just wants her to be Lena. 

 

And there’s something immediately freeing in that simple gesture. In the lack of expectation, in the desire that she just be, that she be allowed to just be. 

 

And Lena doesn’t really know how that works, who she even is when she isn’t trying to be the heir or pretending to be human, but she tries all the same, tries to just be still and be - as best she can. 

 

“I’ll be right back,” Lena says, taking the opportunity and absconding to another room. 

 

She has clothes. It’s not like she doesn’t have options or a series of outfits, but she doesn’t really sleep, she doesn’t really have a need to maintain a full wardrobe when she can just make whatever she wants appear, whatever high end look Lillian had always maintained down below. She had always just followed her mother’s lead in how she presented herself. 

 

But this time she thinks of Kara and she thinks of only herself and she thinks of what she wants, of who she would be if she had been born human, if she hadn’t been raised in Hell, if she hadn’t been around for hundreds of years trading souls like currency, if she hadn’t been lonely in Hell, going topside for at most a week at a time, and watching the better of humanity get to experience joy and lives lived and love and all that it encompasses. 

 

She thinks of who she could have been, who she wishes she had been. She thinks of Kara and wonders if they would have met somewhere else, at a different place, at a different time, she wonders if their friendship would have been just as easy as it is now, or if it would have been easier, if Lena wouldn’t be as closed off as she is. 

 

She imagines them meeting at college or bumping into each other at a coffee shop, getting donuts and all the normal things. She imagines getting to truly be friends and that friendship being honest and growing in its honesty and safety and light. 

 

She imagines a human life filled with joy and filled with Kara.  

 

And so she blinks and there’s a drawer of jeans and sweaters and loose fitting tops and another of pajamas and sweatpants and sweatshirts. One reads MIT and she picks it and imagines that, in her human life she would have gone to MIT. She grabs comfortable black yoga pants she knows someone did in fact sell their soul to get rich off of, and imagines that her human self wears this to relax. She imagines she wears these around the house on lazy Sundays and drinks her coffee in front of the windows and watches the city, and sometimes Kara spends the weekends and they spend the day on the couch and watch movies or sit quietly while she reads and Kara scrolls through her phone and it’s simple and quiet and it leaves Lena’s non-existent soul aching for it.

 

She imagines being held by Kara and chokes on the sting it causes when she remembers she can’t have that. 

 

She buries that image and then she re-emerges from the room, letting her hair fall where it may in curls and waves, letting herself collapse onto the couch to Kara pretending to be asleep in her own home, the phone positioned at a perfect angle to illustrate just how “asleep” Kara is - loud fake snores and all. 

 

And Lena can’t help but laugh, fully and genuinely and without fear.

 

And Kara jolts and there’s a brief look in her eyes that has her glancing around her apartment because she swears she’s heard that laugh, she’s heard it clear in the darkness in a house that was surely haunted, and it should send a shiver up her spine now that she’s hearing it again, but all it does is flood her with warmth when she looks at her phone and sees that it’s Lena laughing.

 

 It’s the lightest she’s ever heard Lena laugh, so she brightens and dramatically rubs her eyes and jokes, with an exaggerated yawn and stretch, “What? Oh, Lena you’re back! That took forever!” 

 

Lena just shakes her head and picks up the remote and ignores the way Kara smiles a little wider when she sees the MIT sweatshirt. 

 

“I knew you were smart,” Kara comments and Lena looks down at the sweatshirt and is unsure of it because she had just picked some college she knew existed, nevermind the imagined life she associated with it, but instead of arguing, instead of just lying and saying she just bought it to be cool and impressive, she just goes with it and shrugs and takes the offered praise and ignores that it’s possibly one of the only compliments she’s ever received. 

 

“Are we starting this or what?” 

 

Kara counts down from three and they both hit play and Lena can’t help but ask, “Is this a good movie?” when the narration starts and the camera pans over woods and there's some blue filter permeating everything.

 

“No, but yes, but no. It’s not good but it is great and science hasn’t figured out why yet. Wait till we get to the baseball scene, you’re gonna lose it. It’s the best thing. Iconic.” 

 

Tuesday night is spent on the phone together having an impromptu movie night watching Twilight and they both absolutely love every second of it - especially the baseball scene. 

 

---

 

Wednesday morning Kara brings two extra large coffees and tries to stifle a very real yawn.

 

“You didn’t have to stay up and watch the movie with me.”

 

Kara scoffs, “Like I’m not going to share in your first Twilight experience. Besides, It wasn’t the movie, I ended up staying up after to do more research on Arkham, there’s so many stories it’s awful. Like this place is just…” And Kara shudders, “There’s a whole curse.”

 

“Places aren’t cursed.”

 

“This one is, what if we get cursed?” 

 

“A place can’t curse you, someone has to actively curse you,” Lena says with such certainty in a nonchalant tone that Kara just falls silent, “We’ll be fine.”

 

Kara takes a seat at her desk and drinks her coffee and wonders what Lena knows exactly about curses. Maybe MIT has a whole course on it. That sounds ridiculous. But it could be possible. She’s about ready to ask when Lena changes the subject entirely. 

 

“Do you think Edward ever turns Bella into a vampire?”

 

“Lena,” Kara gives herself enough of a dramatic pause and then just answers, “There’s four more movies,” and she can’t help but smile wide when Lena’s jaw drops at this knowledge.

 

“I have to watch them,” and Lena hadn’t really loved the first one but she finds that she has to watch the rest, she has to complete the series, and she wonders if maybe someone had put a curse on those movies. 

 

The Toymaker episode hits the internet at noon that same day. 

 

There’s little fanfare at CatCo outside of a few employees stopping them and letting them know they did a good job. 

 

Nia does run over to their desk to inform them it’s getting traction online, they’re trending, people are watching and sharing and it’s all good signs. Lena doesn’t know what that really means, but Kara, whose nerves have her nodding stiffly, seems to think it’s good even if the tension never leaves her shoulders.

 

“They really dig the whole vibe, especially you two,” Nia tells them before rushing back to her desk to keep track of the metrics.

 

“I guess that’s good,” Kara says, taking a heavy breath, “Ms. Grant should be happy about that and I’ll keep my job.” And Lena can see Kara grinding her teeth, can see her jaw held tight as the stress builds.

 

“Do you think she’s going to fire you if the show doesn’t do well?” Lena asks and Kara just nods, her jaw still too tight, shoulders too tense. 

 

“Kara look at me,” and she does, she turns in her chair and faces Lena head on and Lena makes it a point to look at her directly, to speak as softly as she can, and it’s not that hard, not really, because Kara’s blue eyes draw her in and it makes her voice weak in a way it never has before, “She’s not going to fire you if it doesn’t get enough views. That would be a bad business decision and I don’t think Cat Grant makes bad business decisions.” 

 

Kara fidgets in the chair and Lena inches her chair just a little bit closer to get Kara to stop. She does, their knees touching as she finally drops her shoulders in a rush of breath. 

 

“Truth be told, I haven't exactly been finding my footing here. I was a reporter for my local paper and my college paper but then I got here and I was Ms. Grant’s assistant, you know, get my foot in the door and finally I got this media position but I never had anything to pitch or work with so I was always just doing stories about like best dogs or top ten romantic comedies when you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, but this is like my chance to get away from that.” 

 

“I think you might be putting too much pressure on yourself because I’m sure best dogs was most definitely a hit,” Lena tells her with a smile and Kara lightens at that, at the way she suddenly feels calmer than she has for hours. 

 

“It was a huge hit, but I just…I wanted to be a reporter and now I’m chasing ghosts which is like reporting but reporting on spooky history, I guess, and not that I’m not happy to do it or…I want it to be good because…”

 

“Because then Cat Grant might give you a chance to report on stories you want to report on. Ones that matter to you.” 

 

Kara nods and marvels at the way Lena can read her, can read between the words she can’t say, that she struggles with, the way she can understand her silences. 

 

“Yeah, exactly.”

 

“I think that’s a good goal to have and I promise that I will do my very best to make this the number one ghost hunting series so you can get that shot.” 

 

And Kara can see the promise, the heartfelt and truth behind Lena’s words in her bright green eyes, and Kara nods because she believes her, believes that Lena will do her best to help her reach her goals. 

 

“Thank you,” she says and Lena just nods and starts to pull away, starts to back away but Kara wants her to stay close, wants her to stay right where she is, with their knees brushing, their eyes connecting, because it feels like the whole world has stopped and quieted and Kara wants to remain in that peace and silence for just a little bit longer. 

 

“What did you do before this? What do you want to do? Was it ghost hunting?” Kara asks in a flurry and Lena just swallows and her mind spins and the silence stretches just a bit too long. 

 

And then something softens in Kara’s eyes the longer she watches Lena, and she knows that maybe she shouldn’t have said it all in a rush, but Lena stops backing away, Lena stops moving, and their little world remains.  

 

“Did you know I didn’t talk for like a year when I first moved in with the Danvers?” 

 

Lena shakes her head, “Why are you…”

 

“My parents died in a car crash, I was in the car, I got lucky, but I lived with it, I still live with it and sometimes I wonder why me, but it was worse when it first happened. So when the Danvers took me in, I really didn’t know how to talk to them or anyone about what I felt or what I was going through.”

 

And Kara knows that maybe it’s an overshare, but Lena is listening intently, her own gaze soft and watchful, open in a way that is just listening and wondering why she’s hearing all this. But Kara needs her to know, needs her to understand why she needs her to know. 

 

“I shut them out, I shut everyone out. Eventually, I got help, and my sister and I even got to a good place, where I could call her my sister, and she is, she really is, but…I know what it’s like to be in a new place, with people you don’t trust or know all that well, and not know how to talk to them or even try to, and it’s easy to drown in that feeling if you let it. I know I would have if things had gone another way. If I hadn’t let people in.” 

 

And Lena doesn’t know when it happened, when Kara grabbed her hand, but she’s holding it, squeezing it ever so gently and pouring out her soul in a way that all screams to let her in and open up and Lena feels a crack in walls so carefully built over hundreds of years of darkness and pressure and protection from the bad and cruel intentions of those around her. 

 

And she feels that little bit of light get in and stay there. She feels warm, like she’s standing beneath the sun and it’s beams are working their way from her skin into her veins, brightening the world and her. 

 

And Kara feels a wave of something calming and cooling, like she’s standing in the ocean as the water rushes over her and chills her but wakes her up all the same. She holds Lena’s hand a little tighter, waiting, hoping, for Lena to just let her in. 

 

Lena does. As best she can.  And she doesn’t miss the way Kara’s eyes seem to hold a multitude of emotions and a light all their own when she takes a readying breath.

 

She doesn’t feel like she can look into them as she shares, “I worked for my mother, she’s kind of like a CEO of a very big company whose name I can’t really get into,” and Lena hopes that’s enough and Kara seems to just listen and let it be. 

 

Lena clears her throat and elaborates, like Kara is drawing it out of her with no effort at all, “Anyway she has a plan for me, I’m basically her heir, destined to take over and continue her work, it’s not good work, she doesn’t help people she hurts them and she’s not…she’s evil.” 

 

“I don’t think anyone’s truly…”

 

“No, she is,” Lena tells Kara with no room for argument, meeting her stare with a hardened one of her own. And there’s a coldness that seems to sweep through their little corner of the office that has Kara fall silent, that has the cool wave she felt change into a frost that runs up her spine, and she understands that Lena is telling her the truth. That her mother must truly be evil.

 

The chill fades as Lena holds Kara’s hand a little tighter, that peaceful wave returning but bringing with it a darker sadness that Kara can’t really understand, and it makes her feel like she’s standing on a boat in murky waters, a rocky shore nearby and a storm brewing behind a clouded sky.

 

“And she…I’ve never felt like I’m what she wants me to be and my brother is exactly what she wants him to be but he’s worse and he can’t take over so I have to. And it’s just all this pressure and loneliness and need to be perfect all the time for her.” 

 

Lena takes a breath then, feels herself finally talking in a way she hasn’t, feels herself wanting to scream at it, but Kara still connects her, still grounds her, still warms her.

 

 It feels less like the sun, more like a fading fire against a cold night, a blanket that is soft and protects and defends against that same coldness wrapped around her shoulders. 

 

Her voice is quiet when she says, “And I just needed to get away, so I did. I didn’t mean to come get a job here, it just sort of happened, I was more hiding out and…then I met you.” She doesn’t let those words linger too long, because then she’s softly laughing, “And now we’re hunting ghosts and whatever happens after that I’ll figure it out as I go along.” 

 

And Lena isn’t lying, not really. She is figuring it out. She is still hiding, but she is navigating spending time with Kara, for as long as she can, staying up here and doing this project with her, until she can’t anymore. Figuring it out.  

 

And meeting Kara had changed her original vacation plan, had redirected what she was doing, had given her reason not to go home immediately, but after that, staying had entirely been her choice.

 

One of the only choices she’s ever made. 

 

Kara’s grip tightens on her hand in a careful squeeze, “I can help you figure it out, if you’d like.”

 

And Lena nods, squeezing back, “I’d like that very much.”

 

And there’s a heaviness that seems to settle, that has them speaking in whispers. 

 

“For what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re here. And I’m glad you’re not what your mother wants you to be, it’s probably a good thing.” 

 

Kara smiles and reassures and Lena feels the walls crack further, the light flooding in and repairing damage that shouldn’t have been able to be repaired. She wants to drown in it, in Kara’s smile, in Kara’s warmth, in the blue of her eyes, all of this, all of her. 

 

If she were any other demon, that look, these feelings, should have sent her running. It should have had her disgusted and laughing and returning to Hell with a story of some human who thought she was better than her darkness, who thought she was worth friendship and kindness.

 

But she wasn’t any other demon. She was broken. And Kara was good and kind and she cared far more than anyone should. Far more than Lena felt she ever deserved.

 

And Kara says, “If she doesn’t see you for who you are then she can go to Hell.” 

 

Lena chokes on air and when she recovers she just says, in a quiet voice, “And who am I?”

 

Kara shrugs, “I’m figuring it out. But right now you’re Lena, my friend who doesn’t believe in ghosts and who is going to have to keep me alive at Arkham Asylum because if a ghost doesn’t kill me, I think my fear will.”

 

And the mood lightens, Lena feels lighter, and she smiles and Kara smiles too, soft and vulnerable and sweet and it’s a new smile, a different one that Lena hasn’t seen before and she finds she quite likes it.

 

It doesn’t escape her that she still holds Kara’s hand, that neither one of them seems to really want to let go. That something has settled between them that feels less overwhelming, like a balance being met in the middle, an ember glow of warmth lighting a chilled starless sky.

 

And then Nia runs over again and they’re forced to drop their hands, to let whatever has passed between them go, to let the heaviness of the moment subside and let that ember die and the sky fade. 

 

“So everyone online is totally shipping you two!” Nia announces to Kara’s blinking stare and Lena’s nonchalance and lack of understanding. 

 

The younger woman doesn’t really take notice of either reaction, she just continues, “Cat is already ordering merchandise, just generic title stuff right now but when a solid joke hits she’ll get those too!” 

 

And then Nia is gone as fast as she had arrived, leaving both of them confused and quietly trying to brush off the past ten minutes where it felt like the universe had stopped for them. 

 

“I guess that’s lunch then,” Kara says, her voice still quiet, wavering slightly as she stands and grabs her purse. Lena returns to the information on Arkham, shuffling through notes as she prepares to work through lunch. 

 

But Kara doesn’t leave. Kara waits and watches for a minute, making a decision. 

 

“Do you want to come with me?” 

 

“Where?” 

 

“To lunch.”

 

“I thought that was Fridays,” Lena says, trying to temper down the ghost of the feeling of Kara’s hand in hers, the light that broke through the cracks in her walls, the blue of Kara’s eyes that seemed to pull her like they were daring her to dive in, that little ember glow that seems to be permanently making it’s home somewhere in the pit of her stomach. 

 

“Well, yeah, but…I mean we’re both here, we can have lunch, it doesn’t have to be like…we’re friends,” and Kara says it so certainly that Lena does look up from the notes, even though it wasn’t a question, “Do you want to have lunch today?” 

 

Wednesday is spent at lunch together, with Lena eating a salad while Kara has a burger. 

 

It’s spent with Kara showing Lena texts she gets from her sister as she watches The Toymaker episode - a series of laughing emojis followed by an inside joke of “maybe you should be courting her” that Lena does not understand but it leaves Kara flustered and blushing and a part of her desperately wants to know how to make that happen again.

 

---

 

Thursday they have another meeting with Cat Grant and the words ‘certifiable hit’ are thrown around a lot. 

 

Nia goes into depth on the interactions they’d received, the commentary, what people seemed to like the most and it all seems to come down to Kara and Lena.

 

“They like your dynamic a lot, some people are already on the ship train so that’s going to be interesting, but overall they really dig the banter and your natural back and forth. Especially when Kara got worried that Lena had been killed by a ghost and she ran to find you in the house.” 

 

“I didn’t think she’d gotten killed by a ghost,” Kara tries to argue, a little flushed at the idea and the ‘ship train’ comment, much more flustered than she thinks she should be.

 

Lena watches Kara fidget, and while she may not understand the comments, she finds she desperately wants to hold her hands in her own again. She fights down the feeling and ultimately decides it doesn’t matter if she does understand the commentary at all - because Cat Grant is happy. 

 

And if Cat Grant is happy, Kara should be happy. 

 

And if Kara was happy that means she was heading in the right direction towards what she wanted when the show inevitably comes to its end - which is what really matters.

 

At least it’s what matters to Lena. 

 

Because she has decided that, if anything, Kara should get what she wants, one of them should. 

 

Because Lena will not. 

 

She will have to return to Hell, she will have to fulfill her role as the heir because Lillian will also get what she wants, but Lena will at least be able to give Kara what she wants, she will at least get to be the reporter she wants to be and live the life she chooses. 

 

And even when Lena goes back home, when she sits on the throne and rules over darkness and coldness and pain and suffering - she will have that little ember that lets her know that Kara was there once, that Kara got what she deserved, that, for one brief moment, Lena got to be someone’s friend.

 

“Well either way I got one comment that just said, ‘Get you a wife who will fight a ghost for you,’ and that has like two thousand likes so.” Nia shrugs and Lena is drawn from her thoughts about the end, about futures and fates.

 

“What does that mean for the show?” Lena asks then, trying to speed this along, trying to keep the focus on Kara’s success and figure out how to keep it a success.

 

“Just keep doing what you’re doing. People like you two and they like your jokes, and they like that Kara freaks out and you don’t. They also really like it when you shit on the ghosts. Some of them are even saying they think you might be like an actual demon who is just messing with Kara and trying to piss off lesser spirits.” 

 

And Lena blanches and coughs, “What? Why…that’s…what? Ridiculous!” And she feels like she’s talking too loud, pausing too much, but no one around her seems to spare it a single thought, not even Kara, the only one who potentially could and would entertain it. 

 

Nia just laughs, “The internet is weird.” And that seems to be it, the comment swept under the rug, forgotten like it’s nothing and Lena just lets it be. 

 

“It is a terrifying and heinous place but it is also vastly rewarding when it gets us traction,” Cat Grant agrees, “Where are we on the shirts?” 

 

And Nia and Cat are off on merchandise but Kara isn’t listening. 

 

She’s too hung up on the ‘get you a wife’ comment to notice what’s being said, because that was equally as ridiculous as the demon thing. 

 

It wasn’t true. She hadn’t been acting in some sort of wife way, she hadn’t…Lena had disappeared, she could have been hurt, or worse, and Kara had rightfully been worried. It wasn’t anything more, it wasn’t…just like her reaction to it now wasn’t anything. It was just…

 

The internet was a weird place and they were wrong.

 

---

 

After the meeting ends, Lena meets with Brainy to go over equipment and set ups and she finds that she likes talking to him in a different way than she likes talking to Kara. 

 

He’s more technical focused, not easily rattled, pragmatic in a way that few humans are and she finds that she can be more of herself and listen to him talk about the camera equipment and the ghost hunting equipment that they’ll be using. 

 

“You are familiar with the spirit box?” He holds up the little recorder and Lena rolls her eyes. 

 

“Yes, the most annoying thing in the world,” she shares and he nods in agreement, “Honestly the last episode I’m smashing it.” 

 

“I’m sure your fellow skeptic fans will love that. I certainly would.” He shakes his head, “How can anything that just scans radio signals be confused for a ghost? It’s probably picking up on various tv shows and songs.” 

 

Lena just shakes her head because she doesn’t know and she can actually see ghosts. 

 

“I checked and rechecked your camera, and added my own little modifications, so you shouldn’t have any more technical issues,” he tells her and she nods, forced and quiet because she’s pretty sure that even he couldn’t build a demon proof camera. 

 

She drums her fingers over the desk and looks at all the carefully labeled equipment surrounding monitors and footage and she sees the episode paused on one of the computer screens. 

 

She sees herself looking at Kara and she freezes. 

 

And she understands what Sam was getting at, she understands the dangerous game she’s playing has now increased ten-fold in it’s danger. She understands that should anyone on her side of things who is particularly loyal to her mother or her brother see it…

 

Brainy steps in front of the screen and he has an apologetic look to him. 

 

“I just want you to know that as editor, as a documentarian first and friend second, I didn’t and won’t make any edits to compromise the integrity of the piece.” 

 

“What does that mean?” And Lena doesn’t really know what he’s getting at, is still wrapping her head around how downright soft she looks staring at Kara when she went to find her after she’d walked off to talk to the ghost. 

 

Her mother would call her weak. 

 

And a part of Lena thinks she’d agree with her. 

 

A part of Lena thinks she should run now and forget helping Kara achieve her goals, forget Kara entirely. Because it isn’t safe and she’s not good and Kara is. Kara deserves good, she doesn’t deserve that look from someone like Lena, she deserves it from someone better, someone human and just as kind and warm as her. 

 

“I won’t make something look like it isn’t ever.”

 

“I thought Nia was the editor,” Lena says but Brainy shakes his head. 

 

“I’ve taken over. She has too much to worry about and given I was there and operated the camera, it’s easier when I know what I’m focusing on, when I know what I can cut easily.”

 

He’s silent then, as if weighing his next words before giving her a look that feels like it holds a lot more information than it should, a look that screams that it knows, “You should be more careful.”

 

Lena lets the silence build, lets him continue to look, lets him sweat and try to understand just what it is he’s messing with. Because it doesn’t take her long to understand what he’s hinting at, to process that he might have seen something he shouldn’t. 

 

And when she speaks next her voice is lower, a veiled threat behind the words, “I think we all need to be careful. Arkham is easy to get lost in, the darkness might just take one of us.”

 

And her stare is icy, the room is cold, but Brainy holds his ground, he continues to speak as if he isn’t noticing that one of the screens has flickered to static, a light overhead blinking. 

 

“You know some of the footage of you in the basement was still viable,” he states, his voice measured and careful and unafraid. Lena realizes that she may have underestimated him, that he’s one of the few who can face the strange and seek to understand rather than run. Or, in this case, she isn’t actually sure. 

 

But he knows, and she knows he knows, and he knows she knows he knows, but he’s not a believer, and Lena remembers a conversation on this topic, that he doesn’t believe, but he knows and he believes because he’s seen. 

 

“I thought you said you were a documentarian first.”

 

“I also said I was a friend second. I also don’t think the world is quite ready for…” and he waves his hand around Lena, saying everything without saying it. 

 

Lena pauses when she hears him call her his friend, but she remembers just what it is they’re actually talking about, and she keeps her voice just as measured as his, “But you are?”

 

“I’m more evolved, more curious.”

 

“Why?”

 

“It’s not every day you get to meet a real life otherworldly being that you’ve previously only understood to be a more mythological thing.”

 

“Don’t love that explanation,” Lena states but Brainy just shrugs. 

 

The light stops blinking, the screen stops flickering and Lena’s cold threat is all but forgotten. Replaced with its own kind of worry that Brainy seems to pick up on.

 

“I won’t tell Kara, if you’re worried about that. And I'll do my best to maintain my neutrality within parameters for editing, but you should be more careful. Kara isn’t stupid.” 

 

“I know she isn’t.” 

 

“I have some questions, largely to do with the whole human passing thing and how that works, because you don’t seem to eat but Kara brought you a donut and I find that confusing but…”

 

“I can eat, I just don’t have to, it’s the same as sleeping. Why aren’t you scared?” And Lena doesn’t understand why he isn’t running, why he isn’t telling everyone or posting footage all over the internet. 

 

She’s not even sure what compels her to be honest and answer his questions. Maybe it’s the desire for someone who isn’t Sam to know, for someone to give her more human advice if she needs it. It’s not like she could go to Kara, she’s pretty sure Kara would have the opposite reaction to Brainy. 

 

Brainy shrugs, “I’ve never subscribed to anything supernatural or other, but I am also, when presented with evidence, open to changing my opinions. And I’ve seen evidence and I’ve talked to you, I am talking to you. And when faced with something I would rather get information directly from the source than not.  I don’t believe you’re here for my soul or that you want to hurt anyone, especially Kara, and I am now reassessing the whole Swift Street thing because…that was you, wasn’t it?” 

 

Lena swallows and nods, slight but enough that Brainy can see it.

 

“You saw Kara, you followed Kara…”

 

“I didn’t mean to…I was trying to destroy the footage she got of me because I didn’t want to…I didn’t want my mother to find out about it and I didn’t want to be found. We have rules about evidence and…” 

 

“You were hiding, but Kara changed that.”

 

“I didn’t intend to follow her. I was going to leave when I found the tape.”

 

“But you stayed, you got a job here, why?” 

 

And she throws her hands up, lets her power go, let’s the tvs around them flicker and pop as she just says, “I don’t know. I just couldn’t leave…I couldn’t. I can’t.” 

 

They stand in the darkness for a moment until Lena says in a hushed and weak voice that feels too much like pleading for her liking, “Please don’t tell her.” 

 

“I won’t. But, and I say this as Kara’s friend first, if you are planning to hurt her, if you do hurt her…I am very good at research and I am a fast learner and I will banish you back to the Hell you came from with all the power of whatever force is needed.” 

 

And Lena knows he means it, and, despite the threat against her, is grateful Kara has him in her corner.  

 

“I don’t want to hurt her, I won’t, but I will have to leave eventually. I can’t stay here, I’m not supposed to. And I can’t exactly tell her the truth.”

 

“No, you can’t tell her, she will freak out. But we can come up with something when you have to go, something that won’t completely hurt her,” He says with a soft smile and Lena can’t help but be grateful for him once again. 

 

He straightens then, “But you should try to be more…human. Don’t stay at your desk every lunch and casual Fridays, commit to casual Fridays. Jeans and sweaters. We’ll work on it. You can sit in on the editing and we’ll just say we’re going over ghost evidence and we can have human lessons.” 

 

“Human lessons? I know how to…I’ve been on Earth before.”

 

“Recently? Because…I’m odd but you’re weird.” He gives her an amused look and Lena just sighs. 

 

“It’s been like probably a decade but…you lose track of time when you’re immortal.” 

 

“I am curious about historical events, and whether you were present for any.”

 

“I’ve been around for a few.” 

 

He sits with that information for a moment before his mouth turns into a frown, his voice serious, “What will you do if Kara finds out?”  

 

But she doesn’t know, she doesn’t have an answer, “I have a movie night with her this weekend.”

 

“That’s not what I asked.” 

 

“I know. How do people do movie nights? Like in person movie nights? What should I bring? Should I bring anything?” 

 

And Brainy takes her questions and walks to a corner of his editing office, leaving her for a moment before he returns, dragging a large whiteboard, a marker and eraser in his hand. 

 

He points to a metal chair folded against the wall and Lena takes it as a sign to grab it as he writes “Movie Nights” on the board and turns to her. 

 

“Okay so first lesson, movie nights and standard social faux pas to avoid. Don’t talk during the movie unless it’s terrible and the other people there are there to roast it.”

 

“What?”

 

“If Kara is making fun of it then you can, otherwise, quiet watching. And snacking. Snacks are important.”

 

He writes ‘snacks’ on the board and Lena listens to his advice like a student aiming for a perfect grade. 

 

She spares a glance back at the one screen that remains operational after her tantrum, something Brainy didn’t even seem to care all that much about. She sees herself looking at Kara and she interrupts his rant about how snacks should complement the movie and the theme to ask, “Why didn’t you take that part out?” 

 

He pauses and then notices what she’s referring to, “Oh. It felt…important.” 

 

“Important?” 

 

He shrugs, “Documentarian first.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Now back to snacks…”

 

---

 

Kara returns to her desk after the meeting, while Nia occupies Lena’s. They work on finalizing plans for the next day, Kara making sure the sleeping bags will be ready to be picked up from Alex’s as Nia ensures one of the CatCo vans will be ready for them to load up after lunch. 

 

Kara contacts the proprietor of Arkham to make sure the overnight is all set, that there will be someone on standby with keys and any sort of emergency access should something happen or break.

 

Nia makes sure any and all waivers have been signed, sealed, and delivered. 

 

“By afternoon tomorrow, you’re on your way to Gotham,” Nia states with a proud flourish of her hand but Kara just sinks. 

 

“Are you okay? I mean besides the whole going into a haunted asylum thing?” 

 

Kara just nods, lies with a fake smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes and Nia knows her better than that, Nia knows there’s something on her mind. 

 

“Is this because of the whole ‘wife’ comment?”

 

“I don’t know why it’s bothering me,” Kara admits with a heavy sigh.

 

Nia remembers a conversation she had with Brainy in the editing room as they watched footage of Lena looking at Kara like she’d hung the stars in the sky and Kara’s valiant effort to save her without even trying to make it a whole thing. She remembers that, between the two of them, they’d come to some sort of conclusion that sounded too much like some kind of romantic comedy for either one of them to repeat it, but she also remembers seeing Kara and Lena drop each other’s hands, she also knows that there’s something deeper between them. 

 

And she also understands that this is Kara and Kara doesn’t really look too deep at her own feelings long enough to analyze them. And she can’t do it for her. 

 

Because Kara gives and gives and sees the best in everyone and tries to give some more. She had with her last boyfriend. She had with others before. She would set herself on fire to keep the world warm and never question why or ask herself who is worth doing that for. 

 

And Nia remembers Mike picking Kara up from work, remembers Kara telling her she thinks he’s the one, that she’s in love, remembers Kara panicking and never really asking whether or not she actually was, remembers Kara talking about all the right things she was supposed to talk about, moving forward, moving in, maybe getting married one day, because that’s what she was supposed to want with Mike, that’s what Mike wanted with her. 

 

Except they didn’t and they were two people just trying to keep the peace and stay together because the other option was being alone and they didn’t want that. 

 

Until they couldn’t continue it anymore. 

 

Until one of them tried to say I love you and they realized it wasn’t right. 

 

They couldn’t force something to work, they couldn’t force that magic, it had to be found.

 

And Nia knows it sounds cheesy to think like that, in terms of magic and true love and soulmates, but sue her, she believes in that, she wants to believe in that. 

 

And Nia doesn’t remember Kara freaking out like this around Mike, doesn’t remember her so flustered and blushing, even when she first started dating him. 

 

She willingly ran towards a ghost for Lena, she’s pretty sure Mike took Kara to one of those Halloween Haunted Houses about two years prior and Kara had pushed him towards the chainsaw killer hanging out at the exit so she could run away. 

 

She’s pretty sure Kara would stand in front of the chainsaw killer for Lena. 

 

“Is it because Lena is a woman?” Nia asks and Kara shakes her head. 

 

“No, I don’t care…I’ve never thought about or considered…not never, I haven’t not thought about…but I also haven’t really thought…no, I don’t care about that. I care that a complete stranger who I’ve never met is…”

 

“Calling you out on something you haven’t even really looked at yourself?” 

 

“No. Maybe? No, I just…I want to be friends and we are friends and I don’t want some dumb thing or comment to ruin that because it’s dumb and I also don’t want her thinking that I think that about her, that I’m like claiming her like that. Because I’m not.”

 

Nia just smiles and tries to be gentle, “Kara, I don’t think she thinks that. I don’t think she cares about that comment, I think you’re the only one whose reading too much into it.” 

 

Nia doesn’t say that judging from the way Lena reacted to Kara’s efforts to ‘save’ her, she probably didn’t mind the comment at all, she probably liked it. 

 

“But, if it makes you feel better, I won’t encourage the whole shipping hashtag, okay? I’ll just stick to basic interactions and trends, no wifely comments. Just the Ghost Gals being the Ghost Gals.” 

 

“Oh that sounds worse, that sounds like…”

 

“Yeah I heard it. Ghost Gal Pals, yeah we’re just not going to interact.”

 

And that does make Kara feel better, it really does, “Thank you, Nia.”

 

And Kara is about to let it go and forget it and bury whatever this is that she just freaked out about until Alex texts her with a “So…Lena? You’re really all in on the just friends thing?” 

 

“I’ll be right back,” Kara tells Nia, staring at her phone, “I have to talk to Alex about the camping stuff I’m picking up.” 

 

“I thought you already handled that,” Nia tries but Kara is already gone, practically running to the elevator and slamming on the button as she calls Alex. 

 

She doesn’t even wait for Alex to greet her, instead, yelling an answer to her sister’s prior text, “Yes, because we are friends. I was worried a ghost took her, Alex. It doesn’t mean I’m…it doesn’t mean more than that. I wouldn’t want a ghost to take anyone!”

 

She ignores a few stares from others walking around the office as she gets into the empty elevator and the doors, mercifully shut, before she yells again. 

 

“Okay, relax, I was joking but…I mean she may not be.” 

 

“What does that mean?!”

 

“Nothing, look I didn’t realize some stupid joke was going to send you into this spiral,” But Kara can always tell when Alex isn’t saying something, when she’s choosing her words too carefully, because she asks in a measured and quiet tone, “Did you watch it?” 

 

“I don’t need to watch it, I lived it.”

 

“Well if you do, I’m here.” 

 

“I don’t think I would need you to hold my hand while I watch my stupid ghost hunting show.” 

 

“Kara…”

 

“Alex!” 

 

But Alex doesn’t really have the ability to open Kara’s eyes for her, so rather than give Kara time to think on her words, to wonder what she even means while she’s at work and already freaking out, Alex changes the subject, “So tomorrow is Arkham, huh?” 

 

And Kara’s fear of the asylum takes over whatever deep dive into Alex’s subtext she wants to get into, whatever panic she’s experiencing, “Yeah, it’s going to suck. We’re driving out after lunch and we have to stay overnight.”

 

“Don’t get asbestos poisoning.”

 

“If I fall through a broken floor or do get asbestos poisoning I’m suing.” 

 

Alex laughs and Kara tries not to dwell on thoughts of Lena, or wifely behavior, or Arkham, or why she’s spinning out from one comment. 

 

The elevator stops near the editing floor and, when the door opens, Lena is standing there and there’s something in her eyes that looks worried, that softens when she sees Kara and smiles gently and nervously. Kara doesn’t know what to read into it, doesn’t know if she even wants to at the moment, but she feels her mind fall silent in an instant, all her worries fading as Lena steps into the elevator. 

 

And Kara is grateful for the silence in her mind, grateful for Lena taking up that space, grateful for her friend's presence.

 

“So I’ll be by later to pick everything up, thanks Alex,” Kara finishes, her voice casual and careful all at once. She doesn’t wait for a goodbye, ending the call with just as much speed as she’d started it. 

 

Something happens when Lena enters her proximity, something that feels like calm and peace just occupies the air around them, something that amounts to nothing and everything, like something falling into tune. 

 

And she’s not sure why, she’s not sure her mind has ever been this silent, she’s not sure she’s ever been so calm and nervous all at once. 

 

“Are you okay?” Lena asks and Kara tries to nod.

 

“I’m just worried about tomorrow.”

 

“Is there anything I can do?”

 

“I don’t think so.”

 

And Lena swallows and tries to figure out what would help, what could, but all she can come up with is…

 

“Would you like a hug?” 

 

Kara stares at her in a stunned silence and all she can manage is a nod. 

 

And Lena’s had one hug in her life, from Kara, that she hadn’t anticipated or really understood how to do properly. She’s seen hugs before, she’s seen human people get them and they smile and it’s always looked nice. 

 

Her hug with Kara had been nice if not unexpected. 

 

And she remembers Kara wrapping her arms around her and holding her tightly and close and she holds her own arms open and lets Kara sink into them, colliding into her with the same force as the first time, encircling her with a little more space than the previous hug but with just as much grip as if she were pouring her entire being into it. 

 

And Lena does the same, holds her close and tight and buries her face into Kara’s neck as she does. 

 

Kara can’t help but close her eyes, to let herself be enveloped by Lena and held as all her fears melt into nothing. She leans her head against Lena’s shoulder and she doesn’t mean to be this close, for this hug to be this…much. 

 

But it feels nice. It feels right. 

 

Lena smells like cinnamon and spice and coffee with something earthy beneath it, something she finds she wants to get a little closer to but stops herself from leaning too far into. 

 

She’s pretty sure Lena would not like her practically burying her nose into her neck and hair. That would be weird. 

 

She’s also pretty sure she’s been too quiet for too long, that this hug has gone on for too long, and it’s going to get weird between them anyway if she doesn’t move soon. 

 

Kara mumbles out something that sounds like, ‘coffee,’ but she’s pretty sure just came out as garbage nonsense. 

 

“Coffee?” Lena asks, and Kara nods against Lena’s shoulder before finally taking a step back from the hug. 

 

And Lena isn’t sure how long standard hugs should last, but she’s also pretty sure she would have let that go on forever if she could. But Kara moves back and Lena lets her go, lets Kara just smile at her in a grateful silence. 

 

“Thanks, I feel better.” 

 

She takes another step back, fighting the urge to fall back into Lena’s arms, as if Lena were a magnet pulling her in.

 

“Anytime,” Lena says and she truly does mean it. Anytime.

 

Because while Kara takes another step to nearly lean against the elevator wall, while Kara is engulfed with the scent of cinnamon and fighting the urge to reach out and grab Lena’s hand, Lena is fighting the same fight.

 

All Lena can smell is vanilla and sunshine and something bright and freeing like fresh air, and all Lena wants to do is pull Kara close and hold her tight , hold her closer still, taste that vanilla, taste the sun. 

 

They stand at opposite sides of the elevator and neither one knows that the other is fighting the same losing battle.

 

---

 

Sam drops into the penthouse on Thursday night. 

 

She’s not worried or alarmed, she’s just checking in but when she takes one look at Lena, the worry creeps in.  

 

Lena is pacing, her eyes are rimmed with dark rings, she runs her hands through her hair, leaving it a mess as she keeps walking back and forth, her hands practically shaking. 

 

And she doesn’t know what’s happening to her. She had been fine at work, she had been okay with Kara, but then she’d left, she’d gotten home and all she could smell was vanilla and fresh air, all she could feel was a warm light burning in her chest, and it had made her feel dizzy, it had made her feel too warm and off balance. 

 

She’d tried to tap into the darkness and found that it was too weak to be found. And then she’d felt…tired, empty, run down as the burning light had disappeared, leaving her cold. But it wasn’t the same cold, it was an empty cold, a new cold compared to what she was supposed to be. 

 

And that was when she had started pacing, trying to figure out what the cause was, what the solution for it was. 

 

She considered that it was possible she’d spent too long Earthside, that she needed to do something to fix her waning darkness, that her last burst of energy at work had been the beginning of the end. 

 

She even considered that she had done something inherently against her nature that may have been the cause - that maybe a hug had truly broken down whatever kept her functional. 

 

But that couldn’t have been right either.

 

“You don’t look so good,” Sam says after she finds her pacing, because she doesn’t, she looks…tired. She looks almost sick. 

 

And it doesn’t make sense. Demons don’t look tired. They don’t get tired. And they certainly don’t get sick. 

 

Even when Sam stayed Earthside for Ruby, even when she was her mother, she didn’t get tired. She didn’t end up looking like this.

 

“I feel worse.” Lena doesn’t tell Sam that Brainy knows, doesn’t tell Sam that she doesn’t feel like herself, that the more time she spends with Kara is only making the feeling worse, but that all she wants to do is be wherever Kara is. That without her is making it worse.

 

Lena finds herself pouring the scotch for both of them as she continues to pace and feels untethered and unhinged and lost in a vanilla and sugar and sunshine haze that is only getting worse as the hours tick by.

 

Because she is craving it in a way that she has never craved anything.

 

“Did your power fade?” Lena asks and Sam nods, because it had, the power of Reign had lost itself the longer she spent on Earth, but it had never left her feeling or looking like this. 

 

“If I needed access I had to find places to recharge, but it was never like this, maybe because I was exiled and you aren’t?”

 

Lena just shrugs. It’s as good an explanation as they can get. 

 

“What do you feel?” 

 

“I don’t know, I…I feel wrong, I feel like something is wrong with me…like I’m being torn open but I’m not and I’m being pulled but I’m not.” 

 

Lena explains the week as best she can, leaves out the Brainy stuff, but doesn’t leave out the movie night, both unplanned and the planned one coming up. She doesn’t leave out that she’s finding it more difficult to stay away or keep her distance, doesn’t leave out the hug and how badly she wanted it to last. She doesn’t leave out that the more time she spends with Kara, it’s not enough, it doesn’t feel like enough, and she doesn’t feel like herself or how she used to or how she’s supposed to. 

 

She feels like she’s fading, like something is breaking into her and burrowing there deeper and deeper and it’s taking root and growing and changing her. 

 

“I’ve never felt like this, I’ve never felt so unattached to below, I’ve never been so adrift. When I would come up here for deals, it was easy, it was careful and calculated and easy. This…I thought this would be fun or just different, I thought I would get out of the routine…”

 

“No, you didn’t, you were drawn to her,” Sam says and Lena nods as she remembers when she first saw Kara, as she remembers how it felt like everything stopped and she couldn’t help but follow her from the shadows, couldn’t help but want her to see her in the light.

 

Icarus to the sun, she can’t help but think once again. 

 

“You should consider finding a place to reconnect with your darkness, with Hell. If you’re not going to return, you should at least figure out how to keep yourself from…well I don’t know what’ll happen if you don’t.” 

 

“Do you think we can die?” 

 

“I think it’ll be worse than dying.” 

 

And Sam doesn’t quite know how to help or what Lena should do really, but there’s something about what’s happening to her that is a little bit terrifying, something unknown and unheard of. Because yes, she’s experienced love, love for a child, love that defined herself outside of being a demon, she’s experienced a life free from the darkness, or as free as she could get - but never this, it never did this to her. 

 

“Arkham Asylum, we’re going there tomorrow, it might be cursed, which I know isn’t a thing but there’s a history of pain and suffering. They called it a Hell on Earth.” 

 

“That could help you.”

 

“But what if I don’t want it to. What if this is just what waking up is like? That down there I was just existing and now I’m starting to live, to feel what I’m supposed to,” Lena argues, eyes wide, hands moving of their own accord as if she’s trying to convince herself more than Sam. 

 

“Lena, we’re not human,” Sam argues and that stops Lena in her pacing.

 

“I know we’re not,” she says, “But what if I could be the demon who shares her home with a human? Who does something better on Earth than what we were made to be?” 

 

Sam just shakes her head, takes Lena by the arm and guides her to one of the stools at the kitchen island and pushes a full glass of Scotch into her hands. 

 

“I get what you’re going through. I do. I understand wanting to be more, wanting to feel more, and wanting to be human. To have a life, to be what she thinks you are, I do. But, you’re not. And this…it’ll consume you if you let it.”

 

“You’ve felt this?”

 

Sam shakes her head, “Not like this. It was different. I wanted to protect Ruby and that was my only thought, to keep her happy and safe. But I don’t think you just want to protect Kara, not in the same way, I think it’s more.” 

 

“What is this?” Lena’s voice sounds far away and weak, even to her own ears, and she blinks slow and finds her body feeling drained and exhausted. 

 

“I don’t have an answer, but I think Kara might be the answer.”

 

And Lena sits with this, they both do, in silence, as Sam sits beside Lena, as they both drink scotch in silence, as Lena tries to fathom the unfathomable, that there is something happening to her that has never happened before, that there is no answer to it. 

 

“How can she be the answer?”

 

But Sam doesn’t know, Sam doesn’t have any experience with whatever this is. Exile and parenting, sure, but not this, not this kind of love. 

 

And she knows that’s what it is, that’s what is beginning to consume Lena, but she doesn’t know what it’s going to do to her, what it’s going to evolve into, and she doesn’t think telling Lena that is going to make it any better. 

 

If anything, it would make it worse. 

 

But she does know someone who might be able to help, to get her to the conclusion and not have her lose herself over it, who might know why this is happening in the first place. 

 

“The Keeper would know,” Sam says but Lena just scoffs.

 

“And why would the Keeper talk to me?” 

 

“Because you need help. And that’s what he does.” 

 

And Lena knows it’s her only shot, knows that she may have no choice, because it’s find the Keeper or go back to Hell…

 

And she can’t go back. 

 

“I’ll find him after I go to Arkham. After…” But Lena doesn’t need to say the movie night with Kara, doesn’t need to say that she has to spend more time with Kara first, doesn’t have the ability to admit she’s scared that the Keeper might tell her something she doesn’t want to hear, might tell her she has to go home. 

 

But she doesn’t need to.

 

Because Sam seems to understand all the same.

 

“Lillian hasn’t seen it,” she reports, “She doesn’t know about Kara.” 

 

And the not yet goes without saying. 

 

But it gives Lena some relief all the same. And she hadn’t really been thinking about Lillian seeing the episode, or even hearing about it, she’d been so wrapped up in Kara and her own loss of balance and power, she hadn’t even given Lillian enough of a thought to add that worry into the mix. 

 

Until now. 

 

“I have someone in place at Swift Street, everyone thinks you’re still there,” Sam reassures, “Lex too.” 

 

“That’s good.” And Lena takes a shaky sip of scotch and breathes in the knowledge that Kara is still safe. 

 

“But Acrata is asking questions, not to anyone in particular, but I can see the gears turning. It won’t be long until she does.” 

 

“When she does…”

 

“You’ll what? Just return to Hell?” And Sam gives her a raised eyebrow that has Lena sinking under the gaze, that has her trying to argue, “Leave Kara?” 

 

“I wouldn’t be…I’m not leaving her…it’s not…this wasn’t meant to last. And if me being like this is any indication, it’s not good for me.”

 

But Lena is lying, they both know she is lying, to herself, to Sam, and neither one of them is capable of believing that lie at all. 

 

Because they both know there’s no going back, there’s no returning without Kara, even if Lena won’t admit that, even if she can’t see it just yet. 

 

She’s tied to this human in a way she hasn’t even begun to understand.

 

---

 

They stand before Arkham Asylum on a Friday night and it feels so much worse than Kara thought it could. It feels so much larger than the pictures, it feels so much heavier. 

 

And Lena can feel it’s darkness, can feel it’s measured something that causes pain and suffering, that feeds on the light of others and breaks them down - she feels it burrow and sink it’s way into her bones and thrum with an energy she desperately needs. 

 

And the longer they spend on the grounds, the less unhinged Lena feels, the less adrift. The better and more awake.

 

She wonders if she’s wrong and a place can be cursed, she wonders if she’s feeding on it, and she wonders if Kara should even step foot inside, if that darkness will have a buffet with her light. 

 

And on the drive over she’d been worried she may not be able to protect Kara with her fading abilities, but as they get closer to the building itself, as she feels everything in her start to wake back up, that worry fades.  

 

They stand before the door and while Kara had previously been brave, had almost taken this as a challenge, it is all but gone. 

 

But Lena is ready to stand in front of her and fight the asylum for her, ready to challenge whatever ghosts and entities hide inside - even if it’s a curse. 

 

“Are we going in?” Brainy asks and Kara nods, bravely, squaring her shoulders and taking a breath and Lena has no choice but to follow her. 

 

“Oh look pumpkins,” Lena comments at the jack-o-lanterns set up outside the entrance.

 

“They use this place for a Halloween attraction,” Kara comments, “So that’s another fun thing that’ll terrify me while we’re in here.” 

 

“I’m sure that’ll be the only thing,” Lena jokes, feeling the the darkness of Arkham Asylum beginning to whisper to her, to wake up just as she is, and she knows they may be in for a doozy of an investigation, that she may have to flex more of her energy than before.

 

The whispering gets louder when Lena opens the door and steps inside.

 

- to be continued in part two - 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FIVE: THE CURSED SPIRITS OF ARKHAM ASYLUM (PART TWO)

 

The whispering gets louder when Lena opens the door and steps inside. 

 

Brainy waits with the camera while Kara takes a moment, hesitating at the entrance but, with a deep breath, follows after Lena, and if the outside feels ominous, the inside feels so much worse…

 

The entrance is dark, with an old fashioned elevator, and a large looming staircase that spirals up into an even deeper and more cavernous darkness. 

 

A few more pumpkins permeate the entrance with a sign that reads: “Welcome to Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On A Serious Earth.” Underneath that there’s another sign with rules that seem to only apply to the Halloween walk through. Lena is sure Kara will be running at one point so rule one does not really apply to their situation.

 

“This looks like a horror movie,” Kara huffs as she brushes her hand against the wall and a thick layer of dust and some paint crumbles in her hands. 

 

Lena wonders if they even clean for the haunted house or if they just leave the dust because it works with the spooky mood.

 

“I have some bad news for you, Kara, every room is going to look like this,” Lena turns around in the entrance and smirks. Kara whines, actively, actually whines. She feels something lurch in her chest at the sound - some feeling of want that threatens to undo her. 

 

“I know!” And she grimaces and looks downright annoyed with a deep frown and wrinkle in her forehead that Lena fights the urge to smoothe.  

 

They walk side by side towards the stairs and Lena can feel it, can feel the overwhelming imprint of sorrow and emptiness and pain that permeates the walls. A history of suffering that is almost suffocating as it seeps into her bones and it feels like ice in her veins, fueling her own coldness, her own darkness. 

 

It feels good. It feels too good. 

 

She could lose herself in it if she lets it all in, if she can’t temper down the flow of power from the whirlpool of whatever it is that swirls in the halls of Arkham. 

 

She knows she needed the boost, she’d been losing it, losing herself, and she had felt it start working on the grounds, energizing her while they were outside, just enough that she could think past the gnawing feeling in her veins that was making her tired and reckless. 

 

Inside, she feels unstoppable, she feels almost drunk on it, too much and not enough. And she’s heard stories of demons broaching places like this, going mad with it, losing everything that once made them intelligent and turning into animalistic shadows that only know power and hunger and fear and pain. 

 

She finds it almost laughable how appropriate it would be if she lost herself in an Asylum. If she became the very monster that scoured the grounds of Arkham wreaking havoc on anyone who dared enter, trying to possess their souls and bodies and minds. 

 

She takes a breath. She won’t let it happen. She’s only barely leeching off of what’s here, only taking enough in to keep her stable, not quite human but in her own mind. 

 

Right now it reminds her who she is, what she is. It reminds her that all those moments with Kara, the movies, the sharing, the holding hands, the hugging, that vanilla sweetness - it’s not meant to last. 

 

She’s not meant to last. 

 

Neither one of them. 

 

Because Kara is human. Kara will die one day. And Lena? Lena will just keep on going, occupying places like this, fueling and creating places like this, cursing people to places like this and bartering with their souls for worse, in shadow and darkness and inevitably ruling down below. 

 

Kara will never end up in a single place Lena will - she can’t. 

 

Unless Lillian finds her. Unless Lillian finds out about her. 

 

And that thought alone does something to Lena, it makes her angry and possessive and she doesn’t notice when a loud slam comes from a door down the hallway. Doesn’t notice that she’s affecting this place as much as it’s affecting her as the stairs creak and a window shakes and Kara jumps when she thinks she hears a whisper. 

 

A something or someone that almost sounds like it’s waking up. It sounds like one word, a word that when reviewed later will be captured on audio.

 

“Fear.”

 

Lena loses her grip on the tempered darkness, loses the careful way she’s been letting it in and it floods her all at once like she’s been plunged into the deep end of the pool. 

 

She’s lost in the feeling of fear, a feeling that is entirely new and all consuming as it sends her down a spiral of…she doesn’t know, but it’s something, something dangerous and powerful - the thought of losing Kara.

 

And she can’t control it. 

 

Whatever is waking up in Arkham because of her is only making it all worse, is only making all that the place contains - it’s remnants of times past, memories of suffering, the blood and death sealed in its bones and left to rot - stronger and more overwhelming. 

 

She can almost hear the screams of the past, can hear a laugh that sounds downright evil, can feel fear and pain and voices slowly and surely losing their minds in rooms that were never meant for healing - calling out and clawing from the very walls, begging for something, anything, to end their suffering. 

 

And that suffering should feel good to something like her, should make her head swim in a euphoric wave…but it doesn’t. It makes her nauseous, it threatens to consume her in an entirely different way, to eat away, pull her apart, and leave nothing left but shadow. 

 

She wonders if her brother would love this place, if he couldn’t resist it’s power and draw and would feed and feed and feed until he was just a hungry mess of a monster that once thought himself better than the rest. 

 

She wonders how long she can actually hold up before this place drags her right back into the darkness she’s rebelling against - before it does start to feel right and good again - before it claims her and wins, holding her hostage and using her to sustain itself for decades to come. 

 

She wonders if she’d be happy to let it. To stop feeling this, to stop feeling anything, to just forget.

 

Forget about Kara before Kara can be taken from her, before Kara can see her for what she is, before she hurts Kara and destroys whatever it is that they’re becoming, whatever it is that they are.  

 

And that scares her more than any ghost they may come across, the possibility of hurting Kara. 

 

She knows it shouldn’t. She knows it's inevitable. Their friendship has an expiration date, and she is going to lose her, but accidentally hurting her is unacceptable. 

 

And it’ll happen if she loses herself, whatever self it is that she’s becoming. It scares her, threatens to dim the light of the small moments she’s enjoyed this past week, the moments that have broken through her cold interior and fractured the darkness she used to contain so easily.

 

The flood doesn’t stop, she can’t hold it back. 

 

The floors creak with footsteps that are not their own, a howling wind tears through the grounds and whispers from the elevator shaft. 

 

“Fear…” 

 

She hears it again. A voice that sounds hungry and desperate and vicious as it growls it’s words. She thinks Sam may have been wrong for thinking this place would be a good idea. She thinks maybe she was wrong and places can be cursed. She fears that Arkham is going to take her before she even has a chance to say goodbye to Kara, before she can even explain, before Kara can get out…she’s not meant to be here, she can’t stay here, she has to run before Lena loses it, before the place uses her and comes alive and…

 

Kara’s hand finds hers and drags her out of the darkness with a strength no one should have. 

 

She stifles the flood with one touch, silences the fear in an instant, and Lena could choke on the quiet, on the peace. 

 

“Are you okay?” Kara asks, her voice warm, face cast aglow in the rising moon peeking through the barred windows and the entranceway. 

 

Lena can see her, fully and wholly, can see a light that draws her in and catches her breath as she stutters against the sudden silence. The walls no longer closing in, the whispers gone. 

 

For a moment she forgets where she is, she forgets who she is and who she’s pretending to be. She forgets how consuming the shadows and the voices of Arkham Asylum are because all she can see, all she can hear, is Kara. And all she wants to do is lean in and hold Kara closer, feel the warmth and stay there forever. 

 

She feels dizzy the longer she looks at Kara. She finds herself swallowing against a dry throat as she stares, and she finds that she wants and wants and wants…desperately to be warm, to be human. 

 

She wants Kara. 

 

“Lena?” Kara asks again and it pulls her out of whatever new spiral she’s fallen into, snaps her right back into reality, back to herself, and she remembers.

 

She remembers where she is, where they are, and she remembers what she’s supposed to be doing, the camera that is surely catching everything. 

 

Kara watches her, with wide and concerned eyes. She nods, slow and purposeful, Kara’s face much closer than it had been before and had Lena been leaning? Had Kara been leaning too? 

 

She pulls back before she can really take stock of what happened, before she can really see just how close they had gotten, before Brainy pretends to be checking something on the camera, claiming there’s a glare. 

 

She blinks and says,  “I’m okay. It’s much bigger than the pictures led me to believe.”

 

And whether Kara buys it or not is irrelevant, because it’s like cold water on her skin, she’s back to herself, building a wall to only let in a little bit of what Arkham can offer her, to keep out the rest, and it’s so much easier with Kara in her space, keeping her tethered to the world she wants to occupy and away from the world she doesn’t. 

 

To keep her balanced. 

 

“I know,” and Kara’s voice doesn’t shake, it sounds much braver than it should, than it had when they had first walked in. Lena feels a pressure on her fingers, a squeeze of her hand and glances to where Kara’s hand still holds her own, fingers intertwined like an anchor keeping them both safe and secure.

 

Then, after noticing it herself, Kara drops their hands. And if there’s a blush across her cheeks, Lena pretends not to notice it. 

 

Lena fights the urge to grab it again when the whispering starts back up. 

 

Instead, she buries it, flexes her fingers at the memory of the contact and feels a little more secure and composed when she calmly asks, “So where are we doing the whole story time thing?” 

 

---

 

Kara watches Brainy and Lena share some inside joke as she flips through her notes. She smiles at their quiet communication, at the idea that Lena can talk to someone who shares her skepticism, and is glad that Lena is figuring out this whole finding friends thing. 

 

They’re setting up the camera so the two chairs they’ve placed in the hallway will be framed in the center. The stretch and expanse of desolate and endless walls and doors are their backdrop as they talk about the history of Arkham Asylum - well, as Kara talks about it. 

 

She sits in one of the chairs she had haphazardly dusted off and tries to read through her notes before they begin, but the words on the page don’t really seem to make much sense. They’re legible, a complete thought, words she’d written herself, but the letters don’t really form anything meaningful. They don’t connect and she keeps re-reading the same two sentences before losing her place.

 

Because…

 

Something had happened when they’d walked in. Something had happened to Lena when they’d walked in. 

 

And it wasn’t fear, it was something else, it was like Lena had been hit with some sort of…

 

Kara doesn’t even know how to describe it, like a drug? Like someone had hit her over the head and she’d suddenly been concussed and disoriented? There was no way to adequately describe it. The more she thinks about it the less real it seems. 

 

It was like a shift in the air, something pushing around them and getting colder and Lena…

 

Lena had looked lost and fading, like she wasn’t really there, not mentally, and the darkness around them had gotten thicker, had felt heavier. 

 

And her eyes had been almost cloudy, the luster of green gone and faded with something else burning in them while she was drifting farther and farther away. 

 

And Kara believes that this place is cursed, believes that there are ghosts and monsters and magic, but this? 

 

She’s not sure what it is she’d seen or what she felt, but she heard a whisper, she saw Lena, and when she’d held her hand…

 

Kara flexes her fingers. 

 

She can still feel the soft pads of Lena’s fingers gripping her tight, can feel the hidden strength behind the touch, can feel the way it made her skin wake and tingle like static running through her nerves - a steady chill that hadn’t sent her shivering but felt more like it had been pulling her in.

 

And she had let it, had wanted to let it, had tilted forward and wanted to keep tilting as the world shifted and slipped and all she could feel was a coolness on her skin, pinpricks dancing and creating goosebumps as Lena’s breath ghosted across her neck, near her chin, near her mouth, but not close enough, not nearly close enough. 

 

She reads the opening sentence for the fifth time and tries not to think about what that means about how badly she had wanted that breath to be closer. 

 

They’re friends. 

 

They have movie nights (she counts the FaceTime one and the hotel one), they have impromptu phone calls and get each other coffee, they have lunches and snacks and donuts and they go into haunted places together. 

 

They’re friends. Lena’s her friend.

 

They have conversations, they’re there for each other, and yes it’s only been a few weeks, yes this is their second ghost hunting investigation and they’re technically co-workers, but they’re friends too, shockingly and unnervingly fast friends, but good friends nonetheless, maybe eventually best friends…they’re friends

 

Just like Lena and Brainy are becoming friends.

 

Kara stops herself from laughing because even in her denial she knows it’s not the same. 

 

There’s a new feeling stirring in her chest that swoops into her stomach when she spares a glance at Lena. It happens again when she has a thought, no, when she knows, that Lena is hiding something behind her eyes, a something she won’t talk about, a something that Kara wonders may have to do with her reaction when they first walked in - may, she suspects, have to do with whatever past she doesn’t want to talk about, the family she doesn’t want to talk about. 

 

Kara wonders if Lena grew up in places like this, not Arkham, not haunted places, but haunted in a different way, dark in a deeper, more damaging sense. And Kara remembers Lena talking about her mother, remembers Lena calling her evil, and it’s easy to think, in a place like this, that she must be. 

 

But Lena is not. Lena had escaped it. Lena was continuing to keep herself from it. 

 

There’s a new feeling that hits Kara when she looks at Lena once again. An anger at someone trying to hurt her, to control her, to wound her in a way that would make her like them. She’s hit with a feeling of fear, fear of Lena running, of disappearing from her life, of losing her in a haze of darkness inside a haunted Asylum - of losing her to a family that won’t let her go if she’s not like them. 

 

Kara flexes her hand again, her fingers twitching as she grips the papers in her hand and tries to focus, as she tries not to imagine green eyes looking at her like she was some sort of lifeline, as she tries not to imagine the ghost of a breath near her mouth but not near enough to capture. 

 

As she tries not to remember the smell of coffee and cinnamon and earth and something that is all Lena and that she desperately wants to hold close, protect, and never let go. 

 

There’s a hand waving over the pages and Kara blinks and looks up at Brainy staring at her. 

 

“Kara?” He asks and Kara hadn’t heard him, had even momentarily forgotten he was there, damn his fly on the wall documentarian skills, but she jumps all the same. He takes a step back and says, “We’re all set up.” 

 

Kara clears her throat as Lena takes a seat next to her, a foot kicking hers gently to bring her back to reality and it does without Lena even trying. 

 

“Are you ready?” Lena asks and she’s entirely too focused on her for Kara to be able to answer right away, staring into her like she’s looking for any sign of distress. 

 

Kara wonders if she stays quiet long enough whether or not Lena will take her hand and then she wonders if that’s a thought she’s supposed to have about a friend. Then she wonders why she doesn’t really care. But that only opens up a spiral of thoughts all fumbling over each other wondering what it all means until she hits a wall about thirty seconds later, a wall that has a door to something she’s not exactly ready to open - a thought about Lena she’s not ready to think or face - a thought that involves why exactly she feels a little disappointed that she hadn’t leaned in closer, hadn’t let it happen, that she wants it to happen again with different results. 

 

No, she’s not opening that door, she’s not even peeking through it, not even floating the idea of jiggling the handle to see if it’s unlocked. 

 

“Kara?” Lena asks and Kara sits up, blinks, walks away from the door in her mind and nods, forcefully and smiles too wide. 

 

“I’m good, just freaked out by the…curse…shall we get into it?” 

 

Lena shrugs, “Might as well.” 

 

Brainy gets behind the camera and tells Lena with a pointed expression Kara doesn’t really get the meaning of, “Remember more skepticism.”

 

“Right,” Lena responds, “Better keep Cat Grant happy.” And she gives Kara a soft smile that has her almost drop the pages in her hands.

 

Kara manages to hold onto them and then looks at the words she’s written and, after blinking a few times, they finally, mercifully, make sense when she begins talking…

 

“This week on Catco Investigates we’re continuing to prove whether or not ghosts are real,” Kara starts and Lena subtly, but not so subtly, shakes her head, making sure to look at the camera as she does. 

 

Kara spares a glance to Lena, a feigned annoyance when she continues, “We are here at Arkham Asylum, one of the most haunted places in the world, and, for the first time, we will be sleeping here, which I am not looking forward to at all.”

 

“You might throw up.”

 

“I might,” Kara softly replies, the back and forth calming her down, helping her forget the door she won’t open, the touch of Lena’s hand on hers. 

 

She clears her throat, “Or the curse will get me, because this place is cursed.”

 

“I feel like, any place like this, that’s old and from a time before anyone knew anything about mental health is always going to have some story about how it’s haunted and cursed when it’s just marred by tragedy and ignorance,” Lena says. 

 

“Well, while that may be partially true, there’s a lot of stories and reasons people think it's cursed, including the fact that at least three doctors who worked here ended up becoming patients.” 

 

“Three?” 

 

“At least.” 

 

Kara gets into the history of the Asylum itself, “Built by Amadeus Arkham in the early 1900’s, he remodeled his family home and called it Arkham Hospital, where he wanted to treat patients who were suffering like his mother had suffered, and get them help. But, while in the midst of remodeling, a serial killer he had been treating escaped prison and murdered Arkham’s family.”

 

She flips her notes as Lena listens, “And then he ended up bringing that serial killer here when the Asylum officially opened six months after that. Mad Dog, the killer in question, died from electroshock therapy less than a year into treatment, which the hospital officially declared an accident.”

 

“I don’t think that was an accident.” 

 

“Oh, you don’t think the man who murdered a doctor’s family was accidentally electrocuted too hard?” Kara asks, sarcastically, trying not to laugh in the face of a tragedy, trying not to smirk while Lena bites back her own. 

 

“In the 1920’s Amadeus Arkham claimed to hear whispering from the walls of the hospital. He started carving occult runes into the building, most notably a room in the heart of the house.  When he murdered his stockbroker he became a patient himself. They found him carving more symbols and spells in his cell, so that’s something fun for the kids,” Kara adds, flipping the page with a dramatic flourish that has Lena smiling just a little wider. 

 

“Are they still here?” She asks, sounding almost excited. 

 

“You don’t find that a little bit scary?” Kara asks in disbelief. 

 

Lena just shrugs, “I mean it’s unsettling, the idea of it is, but no. I think a man just experienced a severe loss and it messed him up. All it takes is one bad day.”

 

“It didn’t take one bad day, it was more than one bad day, he carved runes, Lena! You don’t just carve runes unless you know what they are!” 

 

“People buy jewelry with all sorts of nonsense on it that they don’t understand. People buy crystals.” 

 

“Those are rocks, not occult symbols.”

 

“Some people get things with occult symbols on them, pretty sure a lot of horror movies are all about things like that happening.”

 

“Yes, exactly, because he knew what he was doing!” 

 

Lena falls silent, a warmth in her eyes that Kara wants to fall into but doesn’t, “And even you knew that and you don’t watch movies, so you disproved your own point,” she argues, voice light as Lena keeps watching her.

 

“I watch…well, I wasn’t really trying to disprove…just read the rest of your nonsense stories.” 

 

Kara sits up a little straighter, a little smug as she puffs out her chest and flips her notes while Lena turns in her chair and listens, propping her head up on one of her hands, elbow resting over the top of the chair as she does.  

 

Kara runs through the other historical facts, largely for the voice over to be used in the episode with minor additions from Lena and then they’re off to explore the Asylum itself, with Kara interjecting more facts as they go. 

 

---

 

There’s a layer of dust in the office so thick it feels almost manufactured. It’s still set up to replicate the room it once was, right down to the large wooden desk and the old photos on the wall that showed all the heads of Arkham Asylum from it’s first days to it’s last in the 80’s, where is had been headed by a balding man named Quincy Sharp.

 

“This is the Warden’s office, back in the 1950’s it belonged to Dr. Hugo Strange, who was also a victim of the Arkham Curse. He tortured patients and ran experimental lobotomies on them, he even claimed that bats were speaking to him.”

 

“Bats?”

 

Lena finds Dr. Hugo Strange’s photo on the wall and can’t help but laugh at him. He has circular glasses that are perfectly round and shine with a beard that stretches along his jawline but doesn’t extend over his lip, it’s not quite a chinstrap as it's too overgrown but is equally as ridiculous and terrible looking. 

 

She points to the picture, “This guy?!” 

 

And then she really looks at the picture, at the taught smile and predatory eyes, “Honestly, that checks out. I mean if you look like this and your last name is Strange, you’re destined to become either a magician or a cartoon villain. And you have to dress like this.” 

 

Kara can’t help but laugh so hard she’s wheezing. Lena smiles wide, wider than she has in a while, and, unable to temper down her own joy,  to stop the spread that is Kara’s infectious laughter, she joins in. 

 

“It’s an unwritten rule,” Kara adds as she fights down the laughter and listens to Lena’s and there’s a pause that Lena doesn’t notice as she quells her own. 

 

But she does notice the sudden pale complexion and Kara’s frozen stare, when there’s the sound of the door creaking open. 

 

“What was that?” Kara asks, her voice suddenly small and scared. 

 

“I didn’t hear anything,” And Lena truly hadn’t but Kara shushes her anyway. 

 

“Is someone there?”

 

They wait in silence for something to answer. Kara glances out into the hallway, then around the room, but nothing responds. 

 

“Dr. Strange? Do you want to come talk to us? Perform a lobotomy, perhaps?” Lena asks, “My eyes are just begging for the old hammer and nail routine.” 

 

“Jesus Christ,” Kara whispers, forgetting the hallway completely, as Lena keeps challenging the ghost of an old doctor who is definitively not haunting the building - not that Kara knows that. 

 

“I’m a woman with thoughts and independence! I can do math! Lobotomize me! I’m hysterical!” Lena shouts to the darkness and Kara leans against the wall in a fit of laughter, less all consuming than the last one, but laughing all the same.

 

And maybe Lena knows it’s a little selfish, just wanting to hear Kara laugh, but she also knows that these places, these things crawling in the shadows feed off fear, and getting Kara to laugh, to forget her fear is only going to keep everything at bay, keep the place from getting to Lena too.  

 

“Stop.” 

 

“That’s what most of those were, like that was why.” And yes, Lena had been around during their heights of popularity, had watched Lex help contribute to their rise and manipulate their usage while she had stopped one or two, not entirely out of the goodness of her heart, more because she had been summoned and performed a little hellish vengeance in exchange for a soul, but…she’d be lying if she said she hadn’t enjoyed putting those doctors in their places a little bit. 

 

“I know, but antagonizing him is going to make it worse.” 

 

“Or we will get evidence,” Lena argues and she can feel a pressure starting behind her eyes, can feel the whispering kicking up again, can feel the thickness of the shadows of Arkham start to settle around and sink in again. 

 

It creates a  manic sort of intensity to her as her energy and power rises and falls in waves, of its own accord, and Lena knows whatever balancing act she’s performing is becoming more exhausting than she thought it would and that Kara’s warmth, her laughter, can only help her maintain this stasis for so long. . 

 

She starts to feel that nagging feeling again, that desire to open the gates, let it all flood in and drown in what Arkham has to offer. It feels like someone pushing her towards it, like an offer to let herself be all that her mother wants her to be and more, like a drug coaxing her into its use, promising her that it’ll feel better if she just gives in. 

 

She could sink and sink all the way back home, renewed, energized, with all the darkness of Arkham Asylum coursing through her system and all of Hell kneeling at her feet. 

 

But she knows that even if that vision wants to play out, wants to tempt her to take it in, it’s not the truth of what would actually happen to her.

 

She’d be trapped here. No room in Hell could hold her, her mother wouldn’t allow her to remain. She’d forever be a blemish on the Queen’s reputation - not that it would take much to earn that in Lillian’s eyes. No demon, not even the heir to Hell, could be flooded with so much pain and torture and not go insane from it - not become some sad warning tale. 

 

She’d become the demon of Arkham Asylum, doomed to haunt it forever, lost in fractured memory for all eternity. 

 

It had happened to others. Others who were summoned or found lost and dark places entrenched with energy and rituals that fed them - overwhelmed them to the point of collapse. Hungry, lesser demons, who had consumed and consumed and felt stronger but lost their minds all the same. Growling entities that only knew hunger and suffering and the desire for destruction - to rip and tear any being that crossed their path and feed. 

 

No one was immune. Not even the previous King of Hell - her father - Lionel. 

 

She doesn’t know the entire story, not truly, it was one of those secrets buried and treasonous to mention. But the basics were an old song repeated in the centuries since Lillian took control. Lionel got power hungry, feared a coup, went on a search to find nexuses of darkness to keep him above others and lost himself to them. His mind shredded right along with his body - morphed and broken - only for Lex to finish him and send him wherever demons go when they end. 

 

And then Lillian had refused to declare an heir, refused to call Lex one because he, too, had been corrupted by power and Lionel and his own search in the years that followed as to why and how and if it could be repeated with the right results - the right tap of power and the lack of loss. 

 

So Lena had become the front runner, and had become her mother’s focus in the punishing training to become the heir while Lex was kept occupied with torture and his own machinations and devices that Lillian pretended not to notice. 

 

She wonders what would happen if she let this place corrupt her too, if her mother lost the only viable option she had to continue a legacy of ruling below. She wonders how bad it could really be. 

 

She would escape one fate in exchange for being trapped in another. 

 

She looks out a barred window that overlooks the grounds and imagines what it would be like to just be here, forever. She wonders if Kara would visit, if Kara would even know, if she’d be too scared to come back, if she would even recognize Kara after a time - if she would even be a fraction of herself for Kara to recognize either.

 

The whispering only seems to grow and rise like an ocean against the dam Lena tries to keep up that is crumbling against the tide. She gets a flash, a scent of something that tastes like copper and blood and the bricks in the wall she holds fall. 

 

She blinks, looking out the window where she can vaguely make out a greenhouse they couldn’t see from the other side of the Asylum where they had entered. Vines grow from the top of a broken roof, greenery that looks like a writhing monster in the darkness. 

 

“Is that a greenhouse?” She asks, her voice much too quiet, too shaky as she tries to distract herself from the copper taste burning down her throat, from another wave of power that hums in her veins, that sparks through her system, saturating her in darkness and creating a hunger she shouldn’t have, a hunger for more, an urge to take everything she wants.

 

“Take it…rule it…”

 

Kara leans over her shoulder, invades her space to get a better look. That vanilla and sugar scent that has been running through her mind for the past day hits her and the whispers fade instantly, but the hunger thrums in her stomach, settling into a dull ache for something else, someone else. 

 

And this, Lena thinks, has nothing to do with Arkham or the voices tempting her - but it is making her lose her grip on thoughts about Kara she should not be having here. 

 

Thoughts of her mouth on hers, her body pressed into her, hands over her, tracing and feeling…fingers…

 

“Oh, yeah, they had a greenhouse but we can’t go in there, it’s overrun with snakes and poison ivy.” 

 

Lena pulls herself back to reality, swallows hard against her throat. 

 

“Also the roof looks like it caved in so there’s probably glass,” she says, hoping the way her voice has lowered, the way it sounds breathless, isn’t picked up on by Kara, or the camera. 

 

She glances to where Brainy films and he doesn’t seem to be all that helpful one way or the other - a fly on the wall, a documentarian. 

 

Kara shrugs, “That too,” and steps back, taking the vanilla with her and Lena chases the scent, follows along to stay in Kara’s orbit, to rebuild the walls against Arkham, against herself. 

 

“How many doctors lost it in here?” Lena clears her throat, voice still a little too quiet, raw in a way it shouldn’t be.  

 

“A few. One doctor, Dr. Crane created these fear experiments in the 1960’s.” She points to his picture on the wall, a thin man with dark hair and a smile that could fool anyone into signing up. 

 

“If I was in here and he introduced himself as my doctor, I would immediately realize I was about to be subjected to some weird experiment,” Lena jokes, pulling herself together. 

 

She looks at the picture and she can smell an acrid scent invading, can hear the sizzle of something chemical heating up, can feel the pinch of a needle in her neck and ghosts shouldn’t be this powerful, they shouldn’t be able to manipulate this well, this easily.

 

It hits her that her presence is just as good for this place as it is bad for her and she’s a battery fueling it, helping it to threaten and undo her. And to let it consume her, to let herself be consumed and lost to it would make her an endless lightning rod for the real monsters to use.  

 

“Wouldn’t you like to find out?” She hears a voice whisper from the darkness and she turns but there’s nothing in the room. 

 

Kara stares at another picture on the wall, never hearing the voice. Lena scratches at her neck, half thinking she might pull her hand away and see blood, see a thick yellow substance leaking, but there’s nothing. 

 

She stares at Dr. Jonathan Crane and she knows he’s somewhere in this building, waiting, and only getting stronger the longer she stays.

 

But if it’s using her, she shouldn’t feel it this much, she should feel weaker. Ghosts shouldn’t be able to control demons - they’re not to be subjugated by things like this - they subjugate and control. 

 

She can hear his victims, she can hear people screaming, unhinged, all alone in the dark, hear him ordering them to tell him what they see as he takes picture after picture of their reactions. As he records it all. 

 

She can see the world spin and turn hazy, can hear ghosts in the walls, rats scurrying and eating, fingers and teeth breaking as they clench too tightly against imagined fears made real by drugs and influence. 

 

Lena tastes battery acid and feels her wrists sting as they’re strapped to a gurney and for a moment she sees Lillian standing behind Kara. She blinks and the Queen of Hell is gone but Lena can’t breathe. 

 

“Fear controls you…” 

 

It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s just the darkness, it’s just her own mind, it’s just her own power leeching off of the walls around her, bleeding into the ghost of fear connected here, making her see things. Making her afraid, just as it had tried to when she first walked in. 

 

But she shouldn’t feel afraid, it shouldn’t be possible. Even with her fueling them, they shouldn’t be able to do this to her. 

 

Not without help. 

 

“Power…stronger…not like them…”

 

And she knows it wants her afraid so it can feed, so it can get stronger, so it can use her and keep her. The more afraid she is, the weaker she is. 

 

“She’ll find out about you…she’ll leave you…she’ll die here…”

 

And the world keeps spinning as Lena sees a flash of a glove, a burlap mask that has a stitched mouth that seems to open and growl, blood on Kara’s face, Lillian holding the knife beside her.

 

“You’ll kill her…your fault…”

 

And all of it feels wrong, not like before, not good, not stabilizing, it feels awful, like she can’t breathe. This shouldn’t be happening to her. She should be able to control this. She’s stronger than this. She should be stronger than this.

 

The brick walls close in, the barred windows stretching as the ceiling rises, a thick yellow haze permeating every motion, blurring her own hands and she thinks she sees shadows under her skin, feels the grip of ice pulling her back down, that Kara can see it and feel it too, because…

 

She looks at Kara, walking closer to her, a wide eyed and scared stare in her eyes. She’s too bright in the haze and it makes it all clear, pushes the shadows where they belong and keeps them still. 

 

“Lena?” Kara asks, a warm hand on her shoulder, the pressure just enough to hold her still, to pull her back and anchor her in this reality. 

 

Lena blinks and it’s all gone as quickly as it came. But Lena feels something drip down her nose, wipes it away to find blood on her hands. 

 

And it’s real. 

 

“Oh my God, is it the dust? Are you sick?” Kara’s hand is on her forehead and Brainy is handing her a tissue and Lena takes it and holds it to her nose, turning to stop Kara from seeing that it isn’t red like a human’s should be. 

 

It’s a deep blue that in the darkness looks almost black, that without light, Kara may not notice isn’t a normal shade. 

 

Lena tries to hide the shake in her hands, tries to hide the way her mind is turning and turning because what is this place and why is it doing this to her?

 

Kara takes another concerned step closer as Brainy asks, “Should we call it? I can figure something out, make an ominous end of message that looks like the curse…”

 

“No,” Lena says quietly, because she needs to solve this, she needs to go further to find out why and how. But it’s not just about her because she knows Kara needs this too. It’s her future, it’s Cat Grant giving her that future for a job well done and Lena will not let that slip away. 

 

“I’m fine, this just happens sometimes…allergies.”

 

She misses Brainy’s confusion and the way he writes down a note in a small notepad. She’s too focused on Kara, on her eyes boring into hers, too wide, too concerned. 

 

“Are you sure? Lena, we don’t have to stay.”

 

Words catch in her throat at the way those eyes seem to search into her very soul. At the care they hold. At the warmth. Warmth she has never been shown in all her life. 

 

She’s careful as she touches the wall. Purposeful when she absorbs some of what energy lines the walls and drowns it in whatever curse it carries. And that combined with Kara’s hand still on her shoulder levels her out just enough to feel like herself again, better than herself even.

 

The blood stops. The Scarecrow disappears with her fear. And she’s downright rage filled that it would try to do this to her. That some low level ghost would dare to try to feed off the Heir of Hell, that she almost let it, that something else is helping it along. 

 

She shakes her head and Kara let’s go of her shoulder. 

 

“Alright, where to next?” Lena asks, turning her back on the faces on the wall, clapping her hands and ignoring the faint footsteps and low growls she can hear from below. Ignoring that a second ago she was almost brought to her knees by some dumb ghost who was playing a game he was not going to win and focusing on the fact that now it’s her turn to play. 

 

Kara just stares at her and waves her hands around. 

 

“I don’t get…this.” 

 

“What?” 

 

“This…like…” And Kara imitates her in an impression that is poor and exaggerated but makes her smile anyway, “Where to next? I’m Lena. I don't believe in ghosts or curses and I don’t care that I’m standing in a gross and super creepy building, let me yell at them even when they make my nose bleed.” 

 

“I don’t sound like that.”

 

“No, it’s more like oh what was that very obvious ghostly noise?” Kara does an overdramatic shrug and raises an eyebrow before waving her hand in a nonplussed motion, “Meh, not anything spooky.”

 

“Maybe I should be like you,” And Lena clears her throat and tries her best, “I’m Kara. I jump at every creak in an old building even when it’s just wind and poor maintenance.” 

 

“Hey, poor maintenance can be just as bad as a ghost, there could be mold. Mold is wildly dangerous.” 

 

Kara’s smile drops and she freezes at the sound of another creak, a hiss of air that could be confused with breathing but is just pipes settling, in fact this time, Lena knows it’s just pipes settling and nothing else. 

 

“Did you hear that?” 

 

“It’s just an old building.”

 

“Always with the logic. You know, sometimes logic isn’t right and you have to just accept that there’s things we can’t explain.” 

 

“I mean, we can explain some things, most things.”

 

“Not everything.” 

 

And they keep arguing all the way out of the office. 

 

---

 

They make their way through the large cavernous hallways, rounding a corner towards Intensive Treatment. Their footsteps echoing off the brick walls and the linoleum floors as a stale scent hits them, the smell of dust and rot and time worn away. 

 

The stairs creak loudly as they follow the signs pointing them down to one of the lower floors. 

 

Kara takes each step carefully, purposefully, slower than she’d normally take stairs at Catco or at her own apartment, worried a ghost might at any second jump out and shout, or she’ll trip over some debris and end up dying on the stairs, doomed to haunt this place like all the other ghosts.

 

“You’re walking really slow,” Lena says after bumping into her for the fourth time when she stops at another step. 

 

“Well I need to make sure a ghost isn’t about to try to grab us,” she takes a breath and then she’s off rambling, “I mean I know that’s not likely to happen.”

 

“I’m glad you’re thinking logic…”

 

“It would take a massive amount of energy for a spirit to become a full body apparition and unless there was like a demonic entity to…”

 

Lena coughs, stutters and then waves her hand to dismiss it, “Dust.” 

 

She keeps watching Lena as the coughing fit dies down, unsure, uncertain as the memory of Lena from earlier circles her mind. 

 

The memory of a Lena shaken, a Lena pale and sick, eyes losing their color at every passing moment, blood trickling down her nose. 

 

And, even as Lena still looks like herself now, neither bleeding nor paler than her normal complextion, eyes the a bright, deep green, Kara can’t get rid of the unnerving feeling that entwines itself in the pit of her stomach, tightening and tightening with the sense of something being wrong but unable to locate what that something actually is.

 

She wonders about a curse. If it’s real. If it’s hurting Lena and whether or not she should just force them all to leave.

 

There’s a nagging in the back of her mind, telling her to examine it all closer, to look at what’s happening around them - what happened when Lena crossed the threshold - to set aside what she knows as fact, what she believes could exist, what she doesn’t understand at all.

 

She makes a mental list to add to some bonus research when they’re back in National City.

 

“So what’s the deal with Intensive Treatment?” Lena asks, and Kara can see it’s a subject change, can tell that Lena is just pushing through and trying to temper Kara's obvious worry with distraction. 

 

And it works. 

 

Because there’s a muffled voice from somewhere that has Kara pausing, that has her scanning around with her flashlight, eyes wide, heart in her throat. 

 

“Is someone here?”

 

“Are we…”

 

“Shh…” Kara holds out the flashlight, watches it blink (misses the smirk Lena wears behind her, the relieved look in her eyes) and shouts again, “Hello? My name is Kara.” 

 

“I’m Lena.”

 

“Is someone here?” 

 

But the flashlight stops and there’s only silence and Kara has to focus on the history of the place, rambling and rambling about it as each step takes them further and further into the depths of the Asylum, the air around them stagnating and colder with each passing second.

 

“Intensive Treatment is where they kept some of the more difficult cases, like Arkham and…

 

Kara takes a step down the stairs, the sign for ‘Intensive Treatment’ directing them to the next landing and the entrance to the hallway there…

 

She feels on edge, nerves frying as she continues, “...Dr. Crane, a serial killer named The Joker…”

 

Her foot reaches the landing, a sign for the morgue pointing further down but Intensive Treatment written on the door beside them.

 

“They performed experiments and…”

 

She opens the door.

 

A shadow passes by her, fluttering and spinning around, passing by her face and floating upwards, circling the ceiling. 

 

Kara screams and turns and collides with Lena who is unprepared for the full brunt of Kara crashing into her. 

 

For a moment it feels like they’re going to fall over and down the remainder of the concrete stairs towards the morgue, but…

 

Lena wraps her arms around Kara’s waist to stop them both from toppling over as Kara’s arms settle near Lena’s collarbone, not quite touching, more blocking, her hands balled into fists as she stiffens and stills with the contact. No longer falling. Safe and steady.

 

Overhead, the shadow flies around and screeches as it does, never getting closer, just flying. 

 

“It’s a bat!” Brainy shouts from behind the camera, “Just a bat.” 

 

Kara takes a breath, her heart rate calming down as Lena still holds her, eyes watching her, face close enough that if Kara opens her hands she could just brush her fingers over Lena’s jawline.

 

Her throat dries at the thought, her heart picking up speed for an entirely different reason than the bat attack. 

 

Lena’s hands tighten around her waist and Kara wonders if she’s not alone in whatever this is that’s happening. Whatever feeling this place is causing. 

 

Maybe it isn’t the place, she thinks, still staring at Lena, still being held, still unable to pull away, approaching that door in her mind again. 

 

“It’s just a bat,” Lena repeats, voice achingly soft. 

 

Kara finds her voice, “You know one of the Doctor’s thought a bat was talking to him.” And now would be a good time to laugh, to pull away, to move out of the arms of her friend…but she can’t, she doesn’t want to.

 

“That bat?” Lena asks, breaking eye contact and looking up at the flying mammal taking off down the hallway through the open door only to return.

 

“I hope not.” 

 

The bat flutters around again and Kara ducks her head, as one of Lena’s arms detaches from her waist and covers her, protecting her, “What’s wrong with it?!” 

 

“It’s a bat.” 

 

“It could have rabies,” Brainy offers from behind the camera. 

 

Remembering the camera, remembering where they are, Kara awkwardly detaches herself from Lena and clears her throat. Walking away from that door she won’t open once again.

 

“Well then, thank you for protecting me from the rabies.” She can’t resist bumping a shoulder against Lena’s.

 

“Anytime,” Lena offers with a quirk of her eyebrow. “So…Intensive Treatment?” 

 

Kara glances from the sign down the hallway and sighs. She doesn’t want to go in there, she doesn’t want to go any further. She wants to leave, she wants to sort out whatever is going on with Lena, whatever is happening between her and Lena that neither one of them seems to be able to control and neither one wants to acknowledge, approach that door she’s terrified to peek into and decide whether or not to open it in the comfort of her home. 

 

But she has a job to do and Cat Grant isn’t going to like it if she doesn’t get it done - she may like the footage of why - and Kara desperately hopes Brainy will edit around whatever this is and the moments in between, to prevent whatever comments are going to flood the internet. 

 

The audience doesn’t need to be involved in this, whatever this is, or turning into, whatever Kara might be starting to want it to become or suspect it isn’t. This is theirs to deal with alone, hers to sort out by herself - with a well timed breakdown probably - and…

 

“Kara, are you going in?” Lena asks from behind her and Kara jumps, staring down the dark hallway to Intensive Treatment, the walls covered in some graffiti, a lovely pentagram greeting her right out the gate and her swirling thoughts become nothing but white noise.

 

“I hate this,” and she begins her trek down the hallway, Lena beside her.

 

“Oh that’s nice,” Lena jokes, a genuine smile on her face as she points to the pentagram graffiti, “Effective. Sets a mood.” And her voice is airy and light and uncaring about the drawing Kara has always been taught meant evil, by every piece of media and horror movie she’s seen.

 

And then Lena nonchalantly adds,  “Oh there’s dicks too.” And she points around and sure enough there are a lot of spray painted penises across the walls. “I’m guessing they don’t use this for the Halloween attraction.” 

 

“No.” 

 

They stop at the padded cell that once belonged to The Joker and there’s a sense of some great pressure the longer they look inside. 

 

“The Joker was a serial killer in the eighties, he was one of the last patients housed here after he was convicted for the murders of thirteen people. They think he killed more but they couldn’t prove it. He would dress up like a clown which is another level of disturbing. He even started a cult and the only reason they caught him is because one of the cult members turned on him. He killed a guard while he was in here, he cut off the man’s face and wore it as a mask.”

 

“He did what now?” Lena asks and Kara can see a flash of real worry across her face and watches as she steps inside the cell and runs a hand over the walls. 

 

“He did a lot.” 

 

“He sounds like a monster.”

 

“He was.” 

 

“Like a real monster.” 

 

“One doctor assigned to The Joker even fell in love with him. She tried to help him escape but when she realized he didn’t love her back and that he was just a sociopath using her, she lured him to the upstairs conservatory and slit his throat.”

 

“Good for her!” 

 

“Lena!”

 

“No, good for her! I’m wholly on her side, he manipulated her and she caught him in it. Where is she now?” 

 

“I don’t have any information. I think she got actual help in a place that isn’t cursed and awful.”

 

“That’s good.” 

 

She takes a breath, “That’s where we’re sleeping.” 

 

“What?”

 

“Where she killed him, it’s one of the most haunted places here, so…of course that’s where we’re sleeping.” She looks directly at the camera, at Brainy, and shakes her head. 

 

She misses the way Lena closes her eyes, she misses the way Lena grimaces, she misses the way Lena looks genuinely worried about the prospect.

 

---

 

The energy in Intensive Treatment has Lena reeling, but she knows she’s getting closer to the source. 

 

One moment she feels fine, she feels mostly fine, and even being in The Joker’s cell hadn’t proved too taxing despite her feeling out his energy, an energy that decidedly does haunt somewhere in this place. 

 

But as they get further and further in, closer to Amadeus Arkham’s cell, she feels a barrage of power, like she’s standing at the mouth of Hell and taking it all in. Even at home, she’s never been this overwhelmed by anything, even while making deals for souls. 

 

But this gets worse the closer she gets. This has her wanting to laugh and cackle and cry all at once, this has her wanting to tear the building to pieces and claim it as her own, this has her feeling like she wants to claw out of her skin. She feels like she’s on fire. 

 

And that fire grows and burns and starts to feel really good the longer they stay, the closer they get to where she knows the energy originates from. 

 

They stop at a cell with question marks graffitied all over the walls in neon green paint.

 

“He called himself The Riddler,” Kara says as they pass it. 

 

“That is one of the dumbest names I’ve ever heard in my life,” Lena says and she knows he’s in Hell, he’s actually one of the more annoying serial killers they have down there, she’s met him twice and both times it was absolutely awful. 

 

A part of her wants to share that information with Kara, wants to see her reaction to knowing that, wants to know if it’ll make her laugh, she’s almost giddy with the idea, but she doesn’t, she can’t. 

 

And she knows he isn’t there, but still she can’t resist, overwhelmed by the restless energy and the need to do something about it, “You have a stupid name and I’m glad they caught you!” She yells to the cell hoping maybe he has some minor attachment and can hear when someone is talking to him. Hoping maybe her voice with the added boost of power will reach him.

 

The whispering seems to only be getting louder the longer Lena spends in it’s proximity, the Asylum coming to life with her power and towering over her, ready to crush her. 

 

She can see the faint shadow of something or someone in the dark that Kara can’t and she has to pause to try to keep the pressures of the darkness from overwhelming her.

 

Kara is in her orbit, right at her side and asking without asking, eyes pleading for Lena to tell her if she’s not okay. 

 

It’s leveling but not enough. She still feels overcharged, restless, like she needs to do something but she doesn’t know what or how - she starts to feel like she’s breaking, like she’s holding herself together with threads and duct tape and at any moment she’ll completely fall apart. 

 

“Arkham’s cell is that way?” Lena asks, her voice hushed and darker than it had been. And she knows she shouldn’t get closer, knows it’s only going to make all of this worse, but she’s craving it now, she needs it now, needs to feel whatever this curse is for herself, needs to know why and how. 

 

And that feeling just keeps growing and growing until she’s almost shaking with it, drunk with it. 

 

There are faded and scratched symbols in the cell that Lena recognizes as bad, really bad, genuine and real and a connection that is only feeding the more powerful and evil ghosts that exist. It’s not quite a full portal, not quite something that could be used by something worse than her, but it’s not good. 

 

And then she sees it. One symbol that stands out above the rest, smaller than the others, next to a faded and rather large one scratched into the floor. And while the others hadn’t been good, this one is so much worse.

 

And newer.

 

And Lena knows she needs to destroy it, she knows the ghosts that are benefiting, the one especially that has her concerned and she knows she has to close it with Kara there to keep her from sinking, to tether her to this reality so she doesn’t fall right back to Hell in the process. 

 

Because that’s what it’ll do. It’ll consume her in her effort, take her right back to Hell if she wants it to and she can never get back. It opens a door, it feeds the evil within, but if she’s lost behind it when it shuts there’s no coming back. 

 

And the worst part is she knows exactly who put it here but the why is lost.

 

She has to close it, she has to destroy it.

 

But Kara can’t see her do it. 

 

“I’m not going in there,” Kara says and Lena knows what she has to do, knows she has to play this just right to keep Kara safe, to keep herself from becoming some evil hungry monster lost to the place forever, to silence Arkham Asylum’s connection to Hell itself.


“When they went in here they found he had rat bones arranged in like some altar and one of the bones he was using to make the symbols, like a knife, and he had collected blood, some of it his own, in like this cup…”

 

“Did they also find a pointy hat, some newts?” Lena jokes and Kara shakes her head. 

 

“If we go in there we’ll feed it, the demons he probably summoned, we’re not feeding it, Lena, he cursed this place.”

 

“Kara, look, it’s fine, watch,” and Lena walks in, actively lays down the faded occult symbol on the floor that does nothing and holds her arms up and shouts to the darkness, “If any ghosts or demons want to eat my heart, have at it!” 

 

“Lena!” And Kara storms in, pulling in warmth and light that Lena attaches to quietly, that she holds onto to not lose herself.

 

Brainy follows with the camera and Lena wonders if he’s going to have to do some editing here too, if she can keep it from being caught. If only she can see or feel what’s going to happen. 

 

She waits, letting the energy of the room swirl around her, through her, looking for the cracks in the seals. 

 

She can feel her own manic energy dulling, can feel Arkham Asylum push back just enough that, in order to prevent the entire building from groaning and alerting every possible viewer that ghosts and demons are very real, she finds herself yelling again to distract Kara from it all, to stop her from feeling afraid in a way that will definitely feed it and unknowingly help it.

 

“Come on! I’m literally lying down on your evil symbol just waiting here…no? Nothing?”

 

“You can ask questions with the flashlight,” Kara says and then to herself, “Why did I tell you that?”

 

“What kind of questions?” 

 

“I’m not talking to whatever demons are in here.”

 

“Well…” But Lena doesn’t finish her sentence, doesn’t finish what she wants to say, she has to keep a grip on herself, on this place, on Kara to make this work.  “Then we’ll never get proof.”

 

“Turn off the flashlight if there’s something here.” 

 

Nothing happens and Lena smirks at Kara, “You’re talking to the demons in here.” 

 

“Shut-up,” Kara whispers, her voice small but her fear minimal. 

 

“Try again,” Lena offers. 

 

“Turn off the flashlight if you’re friendly?” Kara’s voice shakes, “We really shouldn’t be talking directly to them here, like you’re inviting a whole…”

 

And Lena knows it’s now or never, can feel it all churning in the room, the symbols active and ready to strike, the shadows getting thicker in the building as if she’s connected to it’s very beating heart, able to see it all and feel it all. Feel them stirring, getting stronger by the minute, boosted by her lying there, by Kara’s steadfastly growing fear that’s radiating out and making them hungrier. 

 

“Alright, I’ll try,” Lena says, settling her hands at her side, purposefully placed to cover the symbol she needs to destroy. The one that’s opening the door, that’s feeding and fueling this place, that’s been designed to do what it’s doing. That will help kill them if it really wants to. That has been sealed with blood magic and the very energy of Hell itself. 

 

Thanks to her brother.

 

She commands, voice strong and steady, “Turn off the flashlight if you want to kill me!” 

 

Lena’s flashlight shuts off. 

 

Kara screams. “No! No, no, no!” 

 

Lena breaks the symbol and feels a shuddering through Arkham as the pressure releases from both her and the cell.

 

She feels like she’s being pulled, but she holds on, focuses on Kara’s voice and stays right where she is. 

 

She feels better. Her shoulders sag, her hands slacken, and she feels like she can breathe and think again, no longer consumed by that frenzied feeling that had her jumping out of her skin. 

 

She wonders if Lex felt his connection break, wonders if she should alert her mother or someone to this newfound revelation or if he will take care of it for her, twist the story in a way that is only going to make what she’s doing all that much worse. 

 

And she knows it had to have been placed after Arkham, because there’s no way any human being, connected to the darkness or not, would have been able to create something so powerful. And she wonders what it’s end goal was, but the second it’s gone, she’s no longer an unhinged mess trying to build a wall to keep out an overwhelming flow of power. Her thoughts are clear and she doesn’t have to hold a dam against a tide. 

 

She knows she’s going to have to look into this later. 

 

But right now she has to make this a show.

 

Now she has to continue the flashlight game. For Cat Grant’s enjoyment, for Kara’s benefit, to get the ratings up and to prevent herself from being found out.

 

Lena waits for Kara to calm down, to finish screaming, to stop shouting, “What the fuck?! What the fuck?!” 

 

“Kara, okay, it’s okay…demons, turn on the flashlight please.” 

 

The flashlight turns on and Kara is hugging the wall and screaming again.  “Why?!” 

 

Lena continues to lie on the powerless symbol. There’s a dull pulse in the room that is actually quite pleasant now without it, something she can control and use with barely any effort, something that does feel refreshing. 

 

“Turn off the flashlight if you want us to leave,” and Lena makes it turn off again as Kara grabs her arm to pull her up.

 

“Okay, we should listen, let’s go!” 

 

“Alright, bye demons!” And Lena stands up, nonplussed, energized and stable, while Kara is legitimately shaking as they climb out of the hole in the wall that was Amadeus Arkham’s cell  and Lex’s experiment - now powerless enough that it can’t harm anyone. 

 

Or feed the evil that occupies the place. 

 

But Lena knows that won’t stop those things, it’ll only make them hungrier, only make them seek her out as a source. So she’s going to have to take care of whatever is left too.

 

And then she’s going to have to find out what Lex had been doing here and why. 

 

---

 

“Oh, I hate this!” Kara says as they enter the morgue, “How do you not hate this?” 

 

“Because there’s not…it’s just a room. There’s no bodies here.” Lena opens up one of the formerly used slabs, the rusted metal squeaking as she does. “What if we just slept in here instead?”

 

Kara glares at her.

 

“You know this wasn’t just used for holding bodies, this is where Dr. Jonathan Crane did his fear experiments.” 

 

Lena tastes the battery acid again.

 

“In the Morgue?” 

 

“Yeah he would strap them to a gurney, inject them with this toxin that I’m ninety percent sure was mostly LSD and then flash images in front of their eyes, most of them died.” 

 

Lena looks around. She sees a flash of a pair of goggles looming, a syringe swirling yellow, and a scarecrow mask with worms crawling in it, before blinking back to reality. 

 

“Maybe we should do a spirit box session?” Kara asks, already holding the radio and Lena groans. 

 

“I truly detest this thing,” she says directly to the camera before Kara clicks it on and it screams to life, scanning the frequencies at a volume that is practically inhumane. 

 

There’s a few flips and blips of what could be construed as words but overall, nothing that forms a complete sentence or thought. 

 

“Hello, I’m Kara.” 

 

“I’m Lena.”

 

“We’re trying to talk to the Scarecrow, Dr. Jonathan Crane. If you’re here can you say our names back to us?” 

 

The frequencies scan and blip and they wait but nothing responds. 

 

“Do you want to make us one of your experiments?” Lena asks and Kara stares her down.

 

“Why do you feel the need to antagonize them?”

 

“I’m challenging them.” 

 

There’s something that sounds like a half-word, like the beginnings of a response but then there’s just static again. 

 

“Alright, last chance, is there anything you want to…” Kara goes to shut it off when --

 

“Luthor!” Rings through the spirit box. Lena stares at it and Kara freezes. 

 

“Did it just say you’re…how did it know that?” 

 

“Home…waiting…go home…” It responds in a fury of cracked and garbled speech. Lena glances around for where he might be hiding. 

 

“You want me to go home?” And she finds the thing huddled in the corner, finds it’s grinning masked face, eyes afraid as she stares at it, on its knees practically begging.

 

“Leave…” the box answers as Lena stares at the dying ghost of an already dead monster. It makes her wonder what else Lex had done, what he had twisted and worked into the walls of Arkham to cause this, what influence he had been playing with for years. 

 

Because places don’t just end up cursed, it takes time, it takes work and effort and years of compounded misery and she knows that he was trying to achieve something, trying to do something, but it wasn’t strong enough to hold - she’d broken it too easily. 

 

And that has her thinking of all the possibilities of what Lex’s timeline may have been and whether or not there’s more. 

 

“Maybe we should,” Kara starts, hand gripping the spirit box as Lena doesn’t take her eyes off the corner, off the Scarecrow. And she’s not doing anything to him, but he’s rocking back and forth, his victims blinking in and out, surrounding him. 

 

Lena shakes her head, slow, with no room for argument, and Kara stills. 

 

“Fear…fear…need…fear…hungry…no, no no…” Jonathan Crane’s voice cracks through the spirit box, garbled and fading, the static making it more haunted than it had been.

 

He stares at Lena, the mask no longer crawling with anything to strike fear, just a burlap sack, empty and void of any power. The syringe gone, nothing left, as hospital gowns appear one after the other and Lena boosts them, just a bit. 

 

The spirit box falls silent, the corner holding nothing but an old wall and moldy flooring, the morgue empty, the room lighter. 

 

The Scarecrow gone. Forever.

 

“Do you have anything else to say?” Lena asks no one, “Hello?”

 

A different voice whispers, “Thank you.” 

 

“Thank you?” Kara asks, looking from it to Lena and Lena shrugs. 

 

“Maybe?” Kara almost gives her a look of hope that Lena believes, and then she adds “But probably not.” And the look drops.

 

Except Lena can feel the gratitude and doesn’t understand why she feels good, why another ghost has thanked her for making their afterlife just a little bit better, even when she didn’t do much, when she shouldn’t have.

 

And she knows if Lex had some connection to this place, surely her mother will find out about what she’s done now. 

 

Kara shuts off the spirit box and they both wait in the silence. For what? Lena doesn’t know. 

 

She thinks Kara will speak first, that she’ll start talking about something historical or some ghostly legend, that will only add to the intrigue of what she’s just caught as evidence. But Kara never does, she just stands there, in quiet, stunned, silence. 

 

Waiting. Until --

 

“I guess this room is cleared,” Lena finally says in a quiet voice that she hopes still sounds disbelieving and over-confident. 

 

“Yeah, I guess,” Kara responds, her own voice betraying something else, something not entirely convinced.

 

“That’s going to make for a good moment,” Brainy states from behind the camera, “So individual walkthroughs now?” 

 

Kara gulps.

 

---

 

“You know we’ve only done two of these together so far, this one being the second one but already, without Lena I feel like I’m a thousand times more vulnerable than I was. It’s like she keeps the darkness away and makes me brave. Not to be like she’s my wife or anything…oh have fun with that internet.” 

 

Kara cringes as she stands before the entrance to the Library where Lena is already inside, door closed, the story of a nurse murdered by a patient they called Killer Croc fresh in her mind. 

 

“Are there any like…normal ghosts who were not murderers or who didn’t eat someone or cut their face off here?” Lena had asked after Kara recounted the story. 

 

“Technically the nurse would be a normal ghost,” Kara had responded with a shrug. 

 

But Lena had just rolled her eyes and gone into the library. 

 

Brainy lowers the camera after Kara finishes babbling, “That was certainly…wife?” 

 

“I don’t know why those words happened.” 

 

“Kara, are you okay? You’ve been…” 

 

“We’re in a haunted location that is definitely cursed, it made Lena’s nose bleed and she’s acting weird and I’m terrified but I’m more terrified for her, I’m definitely hearing voices and footsteps and I have to spend ten minutes in the creepy library and on top of that, we have to sleep here! No, I'm not okay!” Kara unloads, throwing her arms up as she finishes. 

 

Brainy waits a moment for Kara to calm down, to take a breath, and then adds, “She seems better now.” 

 

“Yeah, it’s so weird it’s like after Arkham’s cell she’s been perfectly fine and does it feel less cold here?” Kara asks and she’s been feeling it, less…pressure in the building, less something else…it still feels scary and haunted but it also feels less…evil. 

 

Brainy blinks for a moment and Kara watches his thoughts turn, watches him weigh something before he answers, “I hadn’t noticed.”

 

And she can tell by the way he refuses to meet her eyes, by the way he methodically checks his camera, that he’s lying. 

 

She’s about to call him out on it when the door opens. Lena emerges, looking grave and worried, as she goes to talk to Kara. 

 

“What happened?” She blanches at Lena’s visceral reaction. 

 

“It’s…it’s so bad…” And then Lena’s grave look breaks into a small smile that has Kara shaking her head and rolling her eyes. 

 

“I hate you.” 

 

“You’re going to hate it in there more. Ten minutes, good luck!” 

 

Kara goes inside. 

 

The library smells like old books, rotting wood, and a must that seems to come from the old curtains. Kara takes a seat on one of the couches, careful to avoid a spring that has poked through, and takes a breath.

 

“Okay, I can do this…if there’s anyone in here, Nurse London, I’m sorry for what happened to you.” 

 

Kara hears the tell tale sound of a creak, a chair sliding in the background. She takes another shuddering breath, trying to will her heart beat back into a normal rhythm, once again feeling vulnerable without Lena. 

 

“This place sucks.” 

 

She feels like she’s on the verge of a panic attack as she hears a small flutter above and wonders if there are more bats in the library. She glances up and sure enough, there are about two bats circling. 

 

“Oh there’s more bats, oh I hate this.” 

 

She’s about to lose it completely, heart in her throat, pure panic freezing her in place as she sits in the darkness alone, the bats above her, the library surrounding her. 

 

Trying to catch her breath and calm herself down she does the only thing she can think to do, something that has always worked for her, and hopefully, she thinks, will work now…

 

---

 

“See anything?” Brainy asks Lena after about thirty seconds of silence. Lena just shakes her head, leaning against the door, listening for any sign of distress from Kara - any abnormal distress caused by something that isn’t just Kara jumping at non-supernatural shadows. 

 

“Literally nothing.”

 

“And you’re…you’re…you?”

 

Lena blinks at his uncertainty in his words. “What do you mean?” 

 

“Kara is noticing you acting strange, I’ll be honest I’m noticing too, the nose bleed, the…I’m not sure how to describe it, but the way you just looked. What’s going on with you?” 

 

Lena swallows, tries to think of an adequate way to describe all that she’s been experiencing, the flood of darkness, of power, Arkham’s cell and breaking the ties to Hell that Lex had seemingly put there, the reasoning behind it a can of worms she’s only just beginning to open. 

 

“I’m fine.” 

 

“Are you?” 

 

“Yes, now pick up your little camera and let’s finish this part of the episode.” 

 

He does and after a minute of silence, they can hear something from inside the library. Lena listens, the voice growing louder, recognizable and…

 

“Is she singing?” Lena asks. Brainy listens for a moment and then nods. 

 

“I think that’s…Pat Benatar? We Belong Together,” he answers. 

 

“Can we show that?” 

 

“Thirty seconds I think.”

 

“Oh it’s changing…that’s…Spice Girls? Abba!” Lena guesses and snaps her fingers, “Dancing Queen, classic.” 

 

They go back and forth on a few songs, each taking turns guessing - Brainy more accurate than Lena - as Kara busts into bridge and chorus after bridge and chorus in a medley of hits one right after the other like a playlist on shuffle that keeps skipping around. 

 

After a rousing chorus of Simply The Best, Lena admits, “I feel bad guessing and playing this game, like I know she’s terrified which is why she’s singing, but she has a very nice voice.”

 

“I think her time is up,” Brainy mentions.

 

Lena ponders, hearing Kara breaking into a new song, wanting just one more, she really does have a nice voice, a beautiful voice, and Lena would listen to it all day long if she could. 

 

She feels a little guilty when she asks, “One more song?” As Kara breaks into You Belong With Me.

 

“Oh that’s Taylor Swift, that we have to stop, or we will get a copyright strike,” Brainy warns. 

 

“Kara!” Lena yells into the library, opening the door and being met with a sudden silence, “Time’s up!” 

 

And Kara comes running, “Oh thank God, that was awful.” 

 

“Yeah, we heard…”

 

“You…” And Kara blushes. 

 

“Yeah it was nice.” Lena smiles despite herself and Kara ducks her head. 

 

She jokes, “I mean I do kill at Karaoke night so…”

 

“Oh, I’ll have to go to the next one.”

 

Kara smiles all the way to her eyes, a bright burst of sunshine in a dark and desolate place. Lena is almost blinded by it,

Then, that light dims as reality sinks in, “Normally I would be like haha bye ghosts see you never, but we have to sleep here now. This sucks.” 

 

---

 

“Lena? Are you awake?” Kara asks for the fiftieth time as they lay side by side in their respective sleeping bags inside the upper conservatory where The Joker was murdered and is reportedly the most haunted room in the place.

 

Lena knows she’s broken some of the source of the power the building had, but she also knows there’s still ghosts waiting, still an evil hunger lurking and getting hungrier by each passing second. 

 

The Scarecrow may have disappeared, but there was someone else, someone worse.  

 

After Brainy went out to the van to sleep until morning, after they had set up their sleeping bags and Kara had texted her sister while Lena pretended to fall asleep - all around them has only gotten darker and almost meaner. 

 

And Lena has noticed even with her eyes shut while Kara has been turning and tossing and sitting up, shining a flashlight at every dark corner and playing with her phone while somehow still talking, or babbling about all kinds of nonsense to Lena. 

 

So when she asks again, “Are you still awake? Lena?” She knows Kara knows she’s not asleep, even when Lena answers, only mildly annoyed. 

 

“Yes.” 

 

And truthfully, even if she could sleep, she wouldn’t be…

 

“Do you hear laughing? I swear it’s like there’s something in the room.” 

 

And she wants to tell her there’s nothing there, it’s just them, but that would be a lie, because Lena knows there’s something in this room, something, to Kara’s lack of knowledge, she’s straining to keep away despite her influx of power. 

 

There’s a cutting laugh, a cackle that is only growing as time goes on. 

 

It’s deep and then it’s high pitched, wheezing and heavy, overgrown fingernails scraping on the walls as it moves around the room. 

 

And Kara can only hear some of it, the bare whispers of it, but Lena can hear it all, Lena can see the pale face in the darkness making its appearance - can see the too wide smile, the painted red lips of a faded and falling apart makeup that once might have been reminiscent of a clown but was now just a monster masquerading as one, it’s skin tearing at the edges like the face could fall off at any moment. 

 

And Lena is keeping it away, keeping it contained to the corner, trying to stay calm so Kara stays calm and the monster never gets a chance to feed on her fear, never touches her. 

 

It’s not as difficult as she thought it would be, not with the added boost of the place around her, not after breaking the symbol earlier, but it’s not like she can send it to Hell with one push, make it go away forever, without drawing attention. 

 

The stasis they were both in was enough, for now. So long as the clown thing didn’t start pushing it, so long as it didn’t force her hand. And no amount of singing from Kara, or loud distraction and flashlights could prevent Kara from seeing or hearing.

 

“Kara, everything is going to be fine…go to sleep.” 

 

“Are you mad that I keep talking?” 

 

And Lena isn’t mad, she just needs Kara to be quiet so she can focus, briefly hoping Kara would actually fall asleep so she could do a little more than keep it away, but that didn’t appear to be happening anytime soon. 

 

She needs to readjust the plan. 

 

“Yes…no…I’m too tired to be mad.” And Lena hopes her voice doesn’t sound strained as the clown starts to crawl up the wall, rising from it’s corner, and it makes a popping and cracking sound as it’s bones begin to shift and it’s limbs move.

 

By the way Kara freezes in her sleeping bag, Lena knows Kara can hear it just as clear as she can. 

 

It stands up as Kara takes a shuddering breath, clicking on her flashlight and shining it into the corner and Kara can’t see it, but Lena can… 

 

The Joker. 

 

His green hair is pulled in all directions, patches of it falling over his forehead where more skin looks to be detached and stapled together - skin that was not his own originally. And Lena remembers the part of Kara’s history lesson about the guard and how the Joker took his face. But the stapling - that had to have been done when he was alive, by his own hand, which almost makes it all that much worse.

 

His faded purple suit is crawling with bugs and shadow and Lena knows that’s a manipulation, trying to gain power through fear. It doesn’t work on her, but she’s grateful that Kara can’t see what it’s trying to do. 

 

It would only give him more power. 

 

And they can both hear the wheezing laugh grow louder, the cackling rising in pitch and volume and strength. 

 

“There’s something here, Lena.” 

 

And Kara is just barely holding it together, frozen as she shines a flashlight on the corner where the very real clown - the ghost of The Joker is, but she can’t see it, only the decaying wall of a forgotten asylum where the doctor he tried to manipulate slit his throat. 

 

Lena can see all of it.

 

Lena can see the blood on his suit, an open maw where his throat once was, the pale and cracked makeup that’s running and smeared and deteriorating over a stapled on face. The gray and yellow of his eyes with a stretched smile and red lips dripping and cracked with time and blood, teeth too big and yellow fighting their way through. 

 

The Joker wheezes another laugh and air seeps from the slit in his throat. Lena can see how the suit shifts and changes as he moves, purple one second, a faded jumpsuit the next, like he can’t decide what version of himself he is or what version he wants to be. 

 

He tries to take a step from the corner but falls to all fours and starts to crawl, moving like he’s made of rubber and contorting in a way that would be horrifying if she hadn’t spent her life in Hell. 

 

It’s a pretty solid go to move for most demons trying to scare a human - for demonstrating a possession.

 

Kara sits up in her sleeping bag again, still staring at the wall. Lena sits up too, unable to stop the clown from moving closer. 

 

She wonders if this was Lex’s plan all along, if maybe he was trying to fuel the spirits here, the violent and dangerous ones, and create something worse than what it once was. Something their mother would surely be proud of, something Hell itself would take ownership of, something only he would stand to gain from. 

 

But what that is, what that was, Lena doesn’t know and she can’t go back home to find out. Not now. 

 

Kara moves the flashlight because she can hear the skittering of the crawling, the wheezing laugh as the cold air gets even colder and the light from her flashlight flickers. 

 

This time Lena isn’t the one doing it.

 

She knows that sooner or later The Joker will be seen by Kara, that it will try to hurt Kara, try to feed off her as it crawls closer and closer from the corner, towards her. The flickering of the flashlight makes it look like it’s jumping across the room. 

 

“I do have a thing for blondes,” it wheezes and Kara can see her breath, can hear it clearly like it’s been shouted. 

 

“Did you hear that?” And her voice is barely above a whisper as her head turns to look at Lena, eyes wide and terrified. But Lena isn’t looking at her, she’s too focused on the clown, the clown who is now too close to Kara, almost next to her, crawling it’s way nearer to her face, a predatory look in it’s beady, black eyes. 

 

And it looks at Lena, the hunger there evident, a voice asking in a low growl, “Unless you want a taste first?”  

 

“Maybe we should call it,” Lena says to Kara, her jaw tight and her voice tense as she uses more power to push the clown back, to keep Kara from hearing, but not nearly enough - never taking her eyes off the thing that’s threatening her friend. 

 

Kara can hear the words, “Warm, so warm,” repeated and it’s too close to her ear and she’s too frozen to stand and to run. 

 

A hand inches towards Kara’s face. Her breath clouds in a puff against the cold, icy air. 

 

She smells rot and mold and decay. 

 

She hears wheezing and groaning. 

 

The hand gets closer and Lena feels a tightness in her chest. Her pulse picks up speed and catches in her throat. 

 

“Kara,” Kara keeps looking at her and there’s no mistaking the fear in her eyes, there’s no doubt in Lena’s mind what she has to do, what she has no choice but to do, whether Kara sees it or not.  

 

“You’re okay,” Lena says, trying not to betray the worry, the fear, that has crept into her own voice. 

 

A too long pale finger reaches out towards a loose strand of Kara’s hair, closer and closer to touching her skin. 

 

The flashlight flickers dangerously fast and Lena knows Kara might see, Kara might find out the truth, but it's that or let The Joker hurt her and she can’t abide by that. She’d rather Kara learn the truth than have this thing harm her. 

 

Lena takes a deep breath, centers herself, and looks directly at The Joker next to Kara as the flashlight goes out. 

 

The world feels like it slows down.

 

The wind picks up. The entire Asylum seems to come alive under the force of Lena's stare, of her rage. 

 

Kara is too stunned by the sudden feeling of a scratch on her cheek, the shock of cold that comes with it, to say anything about it, to really notice what’s happening in detail. 

 

One second it’s cold and loud and there’s a very real sound of an unsettling laugh that gets violently pushed away from her and then, the next, it sounds like the walls are going to cave in, the windows rattling like there’s a storm, until it all just…

 

Stops.

 

And that coldness is gone, the Asylum is silent, and it’s just her and Lena in the darkness. 

 

The flashlight clicks back on. 

 

Lena is next to her. 

 

She raises her hands, gentle, slow and careful as she looks at her for confirmation that this is okay. Kara nods. Lena turns her head with a gentle touch, fingers brushing against her chin as she examines where Kara could feel the sting of something on her cheek, where that shock of cold had bit into her skin, cutting and intense. 

 

“You’re okay,” Lena says again, her voice a little weaker, a quiet whisper with a deep exhale that sounds relieved.

 

Kara doesn’t know what happened, can’t really form the thought of what just happened, but she knows something just did, something impossible and insane - something she couldn’t see, but something she could feel.

 

Something Lena might have been able to see. Something that Lena might have done. 

 

Something she kind of hopes she caught on camera if only to confirm that she herself isn’t going crazy.

 

“What happened?” Kara finally asks after taking a few breaths, after reaching where Lena’s hand was and feeling a slight raise of skin where a scratch was forming. 

 

“I think something scratched you, maybe a bee or something?” 

 

And that snaps her back into reality, because…

 

“A bee?! You honestly think that was a bee?!” And Kara is standing then, pushing herself away from Lena in a flurry of panic and disbelief at Lena’s own lack of belief. 

 

“Something was in here, you saw it, I know you saw it. What did you see? What’s in here?” 

 

“There’s nothing in here,” And this time Lena isn’t lying, because it’s gone and she just hopes that Kara couldn’t see it all in the darkness, couldn’t see her eyes in the darkness.

 

“Well, not anymore,” she argues and Lena just shrugs.

 

She looks at Lena and blinks and wonders if, for a moment, the lack of light had been playing tricks because Lena wasn’t there, she was there, but she wasn’t, and her eyes…

 

But that couldn’t have been real. She couldn’t have looked like that, it was too dark, it was just her fear. 

 

“I got scratched,” she says, touching her face and there’s the very real flash of anger that Lena can’t hide and Kara knows Lena saw something, she saw something but she won’t admit it. 

 

And Lena knows she could tell Kara the truth but she’d lose her in the process. 

 

“Maybe we should call it, get out of here,” she suggests instead, feeling weaker now that she’s sent The Joker somewhere into the abyss - somewhere she’s sure he could come back from and that she may not be able to send him to again.

 

“Do you want to leave?” Lena asks Kara again, an almost pleading tone in her voice. 

 

Kara stills in her pacing, listens around them, hears the faint creak of the floors settling - an actual perfectly normal and not haunted sound - but that’s the last thing that does her in and she’s nodding. 



And at that they pack everything up and are out the door of Arkham less than five minutes later. 

 

“Fuck you Arkham!” Kara yells back as the door shuts behind them, “You didn’t get me!” 

 

“Oh now she’s brave.” And Lena’s voice is warm but she stares at a scratch that is fading and it makes her feel cold, grateful it wasn’t worse.

 

“Yes, because I never have to be back here again! Now run!” 

 

They get to the van where Brainy has been sleeping and he jolts awake when they knock on the window. 

 

“Calling it?” He asks and Kara just nods. 

 

He glances at Lena for some kind of confirmation and she gives him a dark look that lets him know they can’t get away from there fast enough. 

 

Later when he views the footage there will be a brief face of a clown that appears for a flash too close to Kara. Lena’s eyes will turn black in the night vision as she sends The Joker back into the darkness - a deep anger in the action. 

 

And he will delete it but he will leave in the laughter caught in the background, he will leave in the moment that Kara decides it’s time to go and he will leave in the warm, soft smile Lena has just for Kara - that Kara has for her.

 

---

 

The farther away from Arkham they get, the less real it feels and all the moments, the touches, the closeness, fades with distance.

 

By the time they hit a coffee place an hour into the drive everything feels like it’s back to a sense of normalcy. Gone is the feeling of fear and dread, of darkness and decay. 

 

Instead, it’s replaced by a quiet comfortable silence as they get their coffees and continue back home. 

 

They don’t talk much about the asylum on the drive back. 

 

Kara blinks through memories, trying to sort out the entirety of the experience, in whispers and cold, in Lena’s reactions, Lena holding her, Lena watching her - a gentle hand on her face after she’d been scratched. 



They sit side by side in the van, fingers close enough that they could touch if they wanted to, if Kara just slid them over just an inch. But she never crosses that threshold, never tries. 

 

She sees the door again, the one she’s too scared to open, the one that screams at her to examine closer what these reactions are, what she wants them to be, what the ghosts of Arkham Asylum had brought out in the both of them. 

 

She suddenly remembers the promise of a movie night and forgets about the bat and the ghosts and Arkham Asylum all at once, because…

 

Lena is going to come to her apartment for a movie night. 

 

They’re going to be alone after this. After all of this. 

 

And she doesn’t know how she’s going to react. She doesn’t know how she wants to react or how she wants Lena to react, but there’s something…something she does want…someone…

 

The door creaks open just a little, some of her thoughts spilling, some of the truth shining unhindered in the light of day. 

 

She wants Lena. 

 

“So you can come by around six if you want,” Kara offers, hoping her voice is steady despite the way the Earth feels like it’s just shifted entirely on its axis at this revelation.

 

Lena looks at her, clearly lost in her own thoughts, a tired look in her eyes. 

 

“Movie night? That is, if you still want to…you don’t have to…I mean…”

 

Lena stops her from rambling on with a sure and certain, “I’ll be there.”

 

Kara has to remember to breathe normally, to not look too relieved that Lena is still going to spend time with her, that she still wants to.

 

“We don’t have to do the whole Lord of the Rings thing, it’s like a lot of time and...”

 

“We should probably save that for when we haven’t  been in a haunted Asylum,” Lena says with a smirk.

 

“Did you just call it haunted?” Kara sits up a little straighter, the gap between their hands closing, pinkies brushing. 

 

“No…I just mean…if you look at it you would say oh a haunted building…I don’t…” 

 

“You think it’s haunted,” Kara teases.

 

Lena just shakes her head and Kara links a pinky with hers and lets the silence fall around them, comforting in a way the silence in Arkham hadn’t been. And in the quiet she lets the memories of the night disappear, memories of shadows, a bloody nose, a curse, and eyes that didn’t quite look how they do now. 

 

Green eyes that had swam with something unnatural, otherworldly, like smoke in glass. 

 

They get back to National City around eight in the morning, Kara’s pinky wrapped around Lena’s the entire drive back, only parting ways in the hopes that Kara might get some sleep before movie night. 

 

And if Lena hesitates she doesn’t notice. If Lena looks at her like she’s trying to figure out if there’s anything wrong, if something in Arkham may have leached its way onto Kara, if it feels like Lena wants to follow her and she wants to let her - she doesn’t say anything. 

 

---

 

Kara is exhausted when she gets back to her apartment, she collapses onto her bed, waiting for sleep to claim her.

 

Only it doesn’t.

 

It’s not that it’s too bright, it’s not that she’s not tired. She is. But her brain just won’t shut off. 

 

Her fingers tingle with the feeling of Lena’s skin on hers and that door she is desperately trying to keep closed just won’t stay shut. 

 

Because try as she might she keeps unpacking Arkham Asylum in bits and fragments - keeps hearing whispers, keeps feeling Lena’s fingers on her skin, a brush of her hand down her cheek after the scratch, the scratch that had all but fully disappeared by the time they’d gotten home. 

 

She sees shadows, hears a laugh that chills her to her bones, sees Lena overwhelmed by something only for all that to fade once she went into Arkham’s cell. 

 

And the symbols, the symbols keep turning in Kara’s mind, symbols she didn’t want to be anywhere near - one in particular that looked newer but she hadn’t thought much of it - it all looked and felt bad. 

 

But there had been something in that cell that had her head spinning, that made her feel like she was going to throw up, and it wasn’t the flashlight turning on and off, well, not just that. 

 

It feels like she’s holding puzzle pieces but she can’t find the corners, she can’t make the image fit right. 

 

She has all the clues but doesn’t know the question they go to or the mystery she’s trying to solve. 

 

She gives up on trying to sleep when she thinks of Lena’s eyes again and feels the heavy, thick shadows pressing all around her, freezing her lungs and making the flesh on her skin rise in goosebumps. 

 

She digs through her cabinets and finds muffin mix and blueberries in the fridge and starts trying to bake to distract her from her swirling thoughts. 

 

She’s not sure why but she replays the laugh from Swift Street and tries to find a corner piece to the puzzle.

 

---

 

Lena paces outside Kara’s apartment at exactly six, a bag of chips in her hands courtesy of Brainy’s advice on snacks, and wonders if she should just text Kara and lie, tell her she’s not feeling well or she’s too exhausted or something. 

 

The truth is she feels fine. 

 

She feels perfectly fine. 

 

She feels more like herself than she has in a day and a half, if not still a little tired. 

 

She suspects the longer away from Hell she is, the more tired she’s going to feel, but the boost she’d gotten from Arkham is enough to keep her sated for now. 

 

But it’s the other…stuff that has her pacing. 

 

This feeling like she’s being dragged, pulled, like a magnet towards Kara. She flexes her fingers, feeling Kara’s pinky holding hers, wrapped around her and holding her tight as they had driven away from Arkham. 

 

And it feels like she’s just circling Kara’s orbit, like a moon to her sun, always circling, always there, perfectly balanced. 

 

She doesn’t replay much of what she’d seen in Arkham, not in specifics, not in a way that feels scary and haunting. 

 

She remembers what she felt, how she felt when Kara was near her. She remembers dark symbols that shouldn’t have been there, with ghosts and monsters warped and overpowered by herself and that very symbol. 

 

She remembers Kara, unknowingly in a danger she shouldn’t have been in, and she knows that if she hadn’t been there it may not have been as bad, that she wouldn’t have provided the battery to jump start the terror - or, it could have been worse, Lex’s work making it worse. 

 

She thinks of terrified blue eyes staring at her, she thinks of how it had felt to hold Kara close after the other woman had collided into her, and how badly she wants to do that again. How badly she wants Kara to hold her in kind. 

 

She really shouldn’t be at Kara’s door, not like this, not there to watch a movie, not when whatever feeling that’s drawing her in is only getting stronger. 

 

Not when this hunger - this want - is starting to dig in, bury itself deep, and take over her thoughts until the only thing on her mind is what it would feel like to have her, fully and wholly…

 

She’s about to disappear, flee into the darkness or just run to the elevator, when Kara opens the door, cocking her head to the side in confusion. 

 

“Hi?” Kara asks and Lena just blinks, confused, because Kara couldn’t have heard her out here, couldn’t have known. 

 

Warmth and vanilla radiates from the apartment and Lena knows she shouldn’t be here, this place isn’t for her, this place is a home, it’s human and warm and not a space for her to occupy. 

 

Kara is in a sweater and leggings and while her eyes are bright, Lena can see a tiredness behind them that makes her heart ache. She glances at Kara's cheek, where a scratch had once occupied the space and is relieved to see it gone. 

 

Lena had dressed much the same as Kara, expecting a quiet night in that required no pretense and, despite the comfort, she feels like she’s without armor, like she’s a little weaker than she’s supposed to be. 

 

But Kara doesn’t seem to think so, she smiles, a soft…something in the look she gives. 

 

“You look cozy…perfect…cozy perfect!” Kara rambles and squints, wrinkling her nose, at her own awkward words and Lena’s gaze only softens, only watches the woman in front of her, still standing in the doorway, waiting for her to come inside. 

 

“Oh…duh…” Kara steps aside and waits, “Come in.” 

 

And Lena is terrified to cross the threshold. Knows she shouldn’t, fears that some lightning strike will prevent her from doing so, because how could she be allowed this? How could she, the daughter of the Queen of Hell, sister to the demon who had almost had them killed, be allowed to walk inside the home of someone like Kara?

 

It doesn’t make sense. This feeling, this push, the sheer relief at seeing Kara’s face. It doesn’t make sense. She shouldn’t be feeling this, she shouldn’t want any human like this, let alone one as good as Kara, one that shines like her.

 

And yet…she does…and it almost feels like she’s learning to breathe with Kara there, like she’s learning what a feeling of being home is like…

 

Because looking at Kara, looking at the apartment, it doesn’t just feel like a space where someone occupies, a place to be... 

 

It feels like home. She feels like home.

 

“Or do you just want to stand in the hallway all night?”

 

“Right,” Lena composes herself after that particularly earth shattering revelation and takes the step into Kara’s apartment, into Kara’s home, “Sorry, I was just thinking about…”

 

She’s hit with a scent of something burning, sees the mess that is Kara’s kitchen counter and about a dozen thrown out muffins in the trash. 

 

“Are you…grief baking?” Lena asks and Kara closes the door and laughs. 

 

“I was…it’s not grief baking when you’re not grieving…I was just trying something. I couldn’t sleep and then I thought oh fresh baked muffins would be fun for movie night but…as you can see and smell…it hasn’t been going well.”

 

“We have chips,” Lena offers the bag and Kara perks up. 

 

“And I ordered pizza.” 

 

“You’re my favorite,” Lena says, shocked at the ease with which the words emerged, unbidden. 

 

Kara beams and it feels like the very air around her gets warmer with it. Lena is caught in the wave of sunshine and lets it wash over her and blanket her in it’s comfort.

 

“So, I know we agreed we weren’t going to watch Lord of the Rings but, what did you want to watch instead?” 



Lena thinks it over, feels a blush cross her face as she admits, “Maybe we could actually watch Titanic? So I can finally see if I like it or not. We don’t have to if you don’t…”

 

“Titanic sounds perfect.” 

 

They eat their pizza as the movie plays and Lena finds herself enraptured by the ship of dreams and the romance that ensues. 

 

She knows the idea of a demon loving Titanic is laughable. She knows if her mother were to see her sitting on a couch with a human being, eating pizza, watching a movie, feeling comfortable and at peace, it would probably destroy Hell itself - but she loves the movie and she’s too wrapped up in the soft warmth of this moment to care what she is, what her mother would think, and what it all means. 

 

When Jack holds Rose and she says she’s flying, Lena holds her breath and catches the small smirk Kara gives her. She feels her heart swell and it’s never done that before, it’s almost dizzying. 

 

But there’s something about the movie she just absolutely loves. The romanticized notion of humanity, the way beings love and fall and find themselves in a tragedy, amongst their own circumstances, but still love - she isn’t sure - maybe it’s just pretty people on a pretty boat - but she deeply enjoys it. 

 

And when she looks over and sees Kara, head tilted, eyes blinking slow and forced, like she’s fighting a losing battle against the heaviness of sleep, Lena feels something that’s a bit like laughter wanting to bubble up in her chest, like something fluttering across her ribs, making her stomach clench ever so slightly. 

 

She’s not sure what it is, the feeling that has her about ready to jump out of her skin. It’s new and as that same feeling swoops low in her stomach when Kara shifts and blinks again, Lena fights the urge to reach over, to wrap an arm around her. 

 

She keeps still, looks away at the soft curls of Kara’s hair, the way it falls as Kara’s head nods and tilts until it finally keeps nodding and lands…

 

Right onto Lena’s shoulder.

 

Lena freezes. Feels that same flutter, that knot in her stomach pulling tight as her heart does that thing where it feels like it might explode. 

 

She doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know whether to move or not, whether she should wake Kara up or not. 

 

She decides not to. 

 

She decides to just remain still as Kara’s breath deepens and evens and Lena knows she’s asleep. 

 

And it feels wrong, it feels wrong to just not wake her, to…

 

Enjoy this feeling. 

 

Because that flutter turns into something that melts, heavy and warm and thick in her bones, that has her smelling vanilla and coconut shampoo and it bombards her senses in a way that nothing has before - that not even Arkham Asylum had.

 

It makes her skin prickle and warm, fills her lungs with a breath of air that has never felt so clean or clear or good.

 

It feels so good, peaceful, as Kara sighs against her. 

 

Lena knows this isn’t the best position, not for Kara, her neck tilted, head against her shoulder, leaning into her own neck, it won’t be comfortable and it’ll be worse when she wakes up.

 

So Lena moves, slowly, slightly enough that she stops at any slight twitch from Kara…

 

And feels a little guilty that she’s trying, hoping Kara stays asleep and that this closeness remains, that the warmth and flutter she feels spinning around her stomach, flooding through her veins, can stick around just a little longer. 

 

She moves her arm, carefully, and manages to get Kara further against her, head now on her chest, as her arm gently moves over her shoulder, her hand coming to rest on Kara’s head, fingers carding through her hair as she holds her closer.

 

Kara sighs even deeper and sinks even further, her own arms wrapping around Lena’s middle and…there’s really no moving now. Not like this. 

 

Lena would be lying if she said she even wanted to.

 

Her fingers continue to comb through soft locks as the movie plays on and she tries not to overthink about how right it all feels, how safe she feels. 

 

The iceberg hits and things go from happy to sad and, even as the credits roll, as Lena finds herself doing the math on the door, fighting back tears because demons don’t cry at movies but Jack should have lived, they should have gotten a happy ending, she feels Kara’s grip tighten like the other woman knows there’s a chance she’ll leave now. 

 

But she doesn’t even try to move. She can’t. It feels wrong to even think about it. 

 

She lets the credits roll and listens to Kara’s breathing, steady and strong, feels her heartbeat against her, smells vanilla and warmth as sunshine radiates into her cool skin. 

 

She lets her own thoughts silence, let’s her eyes drift close, and tries not to think that sleeping with Kara, literally sleeping with her, is becoming some sort of habit that she’s not sure she wants to shake. 

 

---

 

Kara knows she should feel a little guilty about it. 

 

She knows she should feel bad about not being able to stay awake while Lena gets to experience the joy that is Titanic for the first time. 

 

But, she’s just so tired, the sleepless night and day catching up with her amidst the fears in Arkham and everything in between. 

 

And it’s the everything in between she wants to think about but she can’t, the stuff about Lena she’s trying to put together that she just hasn’t figured out how to yet. She’s too tired. She feels too warm and safe sitting with Lena, on a comfortable couch, while a movie she’s seen before plays and lulls her into a sense of security, a sense of peacefulness. 

 

All thoughts of the puzzle she’s trying to put together fade in a tired haze.

 

She knows that this is the second movie night she’s fallen asleep at and briefly worries if Lena is going to think this is some kind of habit, but…she’s just so damn comfortable she can’t help it.

 

She’s vaguely aware of Lena’s eyes watching her, and, in her half-asleep daze, is almost about to apologize but doesn’t quite manage any words because the next thing she knows her eyes are closed, and she’s nodding, her head falling... 

 

Until it hits something, someone, solid and a little cold, but not in a bad way, in a nice way, the cool side of the pillow way. She knows without even opening her eyes, knows in the closeness of the breath next to her ear, in the spiced and coffee scent, that she must have fallen asleep on Lena. 

 

Or half-asleep if her mind is still sort of working. If she can make the assessment that she currently has her head on Lena’s shoulder. 

 

She should move. She should open her eyes, apologize, and move. But… 

 

She’s just so comfortable and safe and she’d be lying to herself if she thinks that moving is any sort of viable option. 

 

And maybe it’s been a while since she’s felt safe and cozy in someone’s arms or near them, maybe she knows that human beings crave contact in a way she could justify if Lena tries to wake her or move her, maybe she should just wake up and apologize and move to an actual pillow. 

 

Lena is too still, too quiet, tense in a way that has Kara thinking she should really force herself to wake up. But Lena never tries to wake her and the longer she debates, the more time that passes, Kara sinks further, falling deeper into almost sleep, still aware enough to be able to get up, to move, if she fights hard enough to do so. 

 

She almost does when Lena starts moving her. 

 

Kara tries to feign a slow wake, trying to avoid any embarrassment at having enjoyed the little contact and involuntary cuddle and in her sleepy haze, the door doesn’t stay shut as tightly as she wants it to. 

 

Because she’s enjoying this. She wants this. She wants more of this. She wonders if Lena is okay with this too and what that could mean, what it all means, what she wants it to mean. 

 

Because Lena stops moving when Kara ‘stirs’ and when Kara doesn’t continue to wake up Lena is moving again, slow and careful, and Kara recognizes what she’s doing and that she’s not trying to wake her up in the effort.

 

So she just stays in her not quite asleep, not quite awake world, and lets Lena move her arm, lets Lena pull her closer and Kara’s mind really does just shut off then. 

 

Because she’s lying against Lena, head on her chest, and it feels so nice and perfect and almost right in a way that few things have. Her own arms move of their own volition and wrap around her and hold tight and it goes from almost right to perfect in a heartbeat.

 

Lena’s hands run through her hair and Kara sighs. She doesn’t mean to, but it’s nice and she likes it, she really does, and she can’t help the sound that escapes. 

 

Lena continues the motions and Kara tries to stay awake in the moment, tries to just sit with whatever it is that’s happening and ignore the way her apartment is almost too quiet, too still, like it’s holding its breath waiting…for what she doesn’t know.

 

She hears the ending of the movie, tightens her grip because she knows the ending is sad and because, the selfish part of her, wants Lena to stay right where she is. 

 

And Lena does, Lena doesn’t even try to move. 

 

Relieved, she finally falls asleep, fully and deeply, to the background sounds of Celine Dion singing and Lena’s fingers carding through her hair while the scent of coffee and spice that smells vaguely like cinnamon and nutmeg clings to her lungs, a coolness crawling across her skin in a comfortable, measured temperature, that makes her feel calm and safe and…

 

Home.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SIX: LOOKING TOO CLOSELY

 

Lena isn’t used to sleeping this deeply, this soundly, she isn’t used to sleeping much at all, but this…it’s entirely something new. 

 

This peace.

 

It’s calm in this state, not quite awake, not quite asleep. It’s existing in a space before the world takes its collective breath and all the noise intrudes - there’s a solitary quiet that she’s never found before in her life - and it’s like a drug, giving her a chance to literally breathe and be outside of her world, her problems, and find something that feels renewing in it. 

 

To sleep, to not be surrounded by cold and screams and pain, to feel safe.

 

She could get used to it. 

 

She feels herself waking, slow, sluggish, coming back to reality with a heavy weight on top of her. It’s not uncomfortable, but she is very aware of how warm she is, how completely surrounded by Kara she is.

 

And she is, surrounded by Kara’s warmth, her breath, her touch as she clings to her, her vanilla and sunshine tinged scent that seems to permeate every molecule of air. It’s all Kara. 

 

Lena would willingly drown in it if she could. 

 

If she could stay like this forever, but she can’t. 

 

She opens her eyes and realizes that the sun is rising. It’s still early enough that it isn’t fully over the skyline, but the sky is brightening and day is encroaching on their quiet calm, on this bubble they’ve created. A place where the two of them can just be.

 

She blinks and glances down to see Kara’s head tucked under her chin, arms wrapped tightly around her, but they’re not in the same position they had been earlier despite the same closeness. They sank further into the couch throughout the night with Lena now lying down and Kara still, firmly, on top of her.

 

It’s not unpleasant, it’s not even remotely uncomfortable despite the fact it should have been. Lena knows she should be running for the hills, she should disappear before anyone finds out the heir to Hell fell asleep on a human’s couch and woke up cuddling with her - or is she technically the one being cuddled now? She doesn’t know. 

 

And maybe she doesn’t care. 

 

Because she’s warm, so very warm, both inside and out, and it floods her veins and makes her heart swell and stutter like it never has before. She listens to the steady breathing of the woman in her arms and can’t help but let her fingers card through Kara’s hair once more. 

 

Kara lets out a gentle sigh, her breath, soft and sweet, ghosting across Lena’s collarbone and she tries not to shiver from it. And that is new, this reaction, the goosebumps on her skin - it’s not normal, well not normal for her, to feel like this, to react like this to another person. 

 

And it’s not that she hasn’t been physically intimate with humans before, she’s been Earthside, she’s taken humans to bed at their request and hers, it’s not that she hasn’t known the feeling or the want of pure physical pleasure - but this isn’t that. 

 

This is something else entirely. 

 

Kara is something else entirely. 

 

And holding her, being held by her, that isn’t something Lena has ever experienced with anyone before. 

 

And she can’t describe why her reaction to Kara is so different, so overwhelming, but it is. She closes her eyes again and tries to imagine a world in which she and Kara wake up together like this all the time, where it’s not accidental to fall asleep on the couch together, or maybe it is, but it’s also a normal part of their routine, their life.

 

She feels the peace and silence of the apartment around them, the sun rising and the tight hold Kara has on her. She holds Kara tighter too and lets her hand still behind Kara’s neck as she stops running her fingers through Kara’s hair.

 

Kara breathes in deep and quiet and Lena just listens to the steady breathing, the faint cars in the city outside, let’s the sun and Kara warm her. She feels almost human, she feels as happy as she’s ever felt and it’s wonderful and perfect. 

 

She doesn’t want this moment to end. 

 

She doesn’t want to stop feeling happy. 

 

And she wonders if demons are supposed to feel anything like that at all, if she should be feeling like this, if it’s even possible to.

 

Because she’s supposed to be in Hell, she’s supposed to take great joy in torment and torture and it’s not happiness but it’s something akin to it - the closest they can reach. They aren’t supposed to feel true joy, warmth…whatever else might be stirring in her heart. They don’t have souls to feel this. 

 

And yet…

 

She’s never felt happy down below, she’s never felt like she’s belonged, she’s never been content to exist in the darkness or liked the idea of punishment and unecessary torture, except for those that deserved it, well and truly, but even then, the methods of cruelty at least on her part were never as extreme as her brothers and she never derided much joy in it. 

 

Not like the magnitude of warmth and happiness she feels right now, with Kara in her arms, with Kara near her. 

 

And she’s heard stories of demons losing themselves to darkness, going mad with it, but is it possible for the alternative to be true as well? Could they crave light and happiness so much that they would tear themselves apart to keep it? 

 

Could they long for the sun so badly they would let themselves burn just to feel a small fraction of its warmth? 

 

She remembers Icarus, she remembers Arkham, she remembers that overwhelming feeling of darkness and how it had affected her, and this doesn’t feel like she’s falling apart at the seams, if anything, this feels like she’s being held together. 

 

She feels stronger, not weaker. 

 

And that is strange. That doesn’t make any sense, because she shouldn’t feel the most like herself here, in a human’s apartment, so far away from home, so distant from any source of power, and yet she does. 

 

She does. 

 

She’s never really known who she is, what she’s supposed to be aside from being the heir, but even then, she’s only ever been what her mother told her to be, what she was expected to be, an image of strength, cold and aloof, the princess ready to take the throne and who no lesser demon would ever dare look twice at or risk destruction, but with Kara none of that is true. 

 

It’s like this one human has the ability to not see any of those carefully crafted walls and masks, that she can just tear through them like their tissue paper and not even think twice, with a strength that is enough to make Lena question every careful lie she’s ever built about herself and pretended to believe. 

 

She’s not sure who she is exactly, but Kara somehow seems to know - beyond what she is, beyond even questioning what she is - and Lena doesn’t even know where to begin in order to start figuring it out. 

 

She wonders if there’s a world where Kara knows what she is and they still wake up like this, but she doesn’t think it could exist. And she knows that all fairy tales come to an end and this will be no exception, that waxing poetic about some human is only going to end badly for everyone involved - especially her. 

 

She wonders if this is real torture, wanting someone and something and knowing that it will only end in heartbreak for all involved. She wonders if her mother would take great pleasure in seeing Lena return to her rightful place a broken shell, ready to be pliant and forget the world above, forget the woman in her arms. 

 

She looks down at Kara, still asleep and pushes some hair aside from her face, checking the scratch that is no longer there and Lena hears the cold laughter of the monster in the asylum and the tv, the logo of the blu-ray player coasting along the screen back and forth, flickers before shutting off with a sharp snap of something frying internally. 

 

Lena glances at it and holds Kara a little tighter, protective in a way she knows is getting dangerous. This is getting dangerous. 

 

And not just because she now owes Kara a new blu-ray player.

 

Because there has to be something fundamentally wrong with her that this person, this human being, has such a hold on her that the memory of a scratch on her cheek is enough to send Lena into overdrive, is enough to have her warping electronics, is enough that she almost destroyed an asylum, ready to break it apart to it’s very foundation. 

 

All in the name of a single person. 

 

She needs to figure out what this connection is, why she is this way, why she’s so affected, she needs answers and she has no choice but to buy into a myth, to trust Sam in her story, to go searching for a figure that will hopefully give her what she needs. 

 

She has to find The Keeper. 

 

And she remembers promising Sam she would seek him out after Arkham, after this movie night, and she knows he may tell her something she doesn’t want to hear, may tell her her only choice is to return home, but she has to face him all the same.

 

She has to find answers. Both for her sake and for Kara’s. To find out what Lex is doing and what this connection is. 

 

The gears in her mind continue to turn as she watches the sun filter through the window and across Kara, making her almost glow with it and Lena feels her breath catch and her mind quiet at the sight. 

 

She could look at her for hours, she never wants to stop looking, she never wants to leave this couch or this apartment or this woman’s side ever. 

 

And then Kara stirs. 

 

---

 

Kara has always had vivid dreams. 

 

She doesn’t dream every night, but on the nights she does - they’re clear and strong and leave her head fuzzy with the memory of them - it’s one of the first things she ever bonded with Nia over, the younger woman telling her sometimes she thinks she can dream the future and Kara wholeheartedly believing her and citing some fringe science she had been researching at random. 

 

Sometimes they talk about them, the weird ones, the ones that cause deja vu - Nia experiencing that more than Kara - but while Kara would not call her dreams in any way prophetic, they did sometimes seem to help her sort out her thoughts and find answers to questions that seemed harder to answer under the light of day.

 

It hadn’t always been that way. 

 

Throughout her childhood, before her parents passed, her dreams would be light, filled with thoughts of flying, of superheroics and things that were impossible in reality but could exist in imagined worlds. But then, after the car crash, her dreams were filled with what-if’s and why-me’s and the same sounds of metal and breaking glass and the repeated feeling of her arm breaking as her entire world shattered in a single moment.

 

The same nightmare over and over, sometimes filled with fire and explosions, sometimes drowning in red lights that would never shut off. 

 

She would wake screaming, Eliza Danvers beside her, holding her close, making her tea and coaxing her back to sleep. 

 

The nightmares eventually stopped with time, but she never dreamt of flying again. 

 

She would dream of work days, of school stresses, normal, sometimes hellish, but normal dreams that would give answers to questions she had been asking or needed to ask, and answers to questions she didn’t even know she was asking - or should be.

 

She doesn’t dream every night. 

 

But when she does it’s because she’s thinking about something, because she’s trying to figure out something, because her mind, her subconscious, is working to help in the only way it knows it can. 

 

She falls asleep trying to find a question she doesn’t know how to ask or even how to begin to answer. She falls asleep in Lena’s arms, with memories of Arkham and strange occurrences, and while she consciously forgets, her mind doesn’t, her mind keeps working to find her an answer. 

 

The dream doesn’t start with Lena. 

 

It starts with a shadow.

 

It lurks behind her down a hallway, a hallway that is blurry and unclear but it feels familiar. It’s clean in a way that feels meticulous, purposeful, it’s floors old and original, a house that has been converted into a museum…a mausoleum…a memory to times past, to the dead.

 

She keeps walking forward and the hallway only gets longer, darker, with no doors in sight.

 

Just an endless walk. 

 

And the shadow follows. 

 

She feels it behind her, a presence that is colder than the world around her but not terrifying, not chilling - just a constant - a presence that breathes on the back of her neck, makes the hairs on her arms stand up, sparks through her veins like it’s trying to let her know it’s there, it will always be there. 

 

And she thinks she should be scared, but she isn’t. 

 

Because it feels familiar.

 

It feels safe, like she knows who it is, and that it won’t hurt her.  

 

She pauses in her walk, feels the shadow get a little closer but not close enough, and she knows it’s right there, right behind her. She can smell Earth and cinnamon and coffee and all the things that remind her of…

 

She takes a sharp breath. 

 

She hears a laugh, a laugh that at once sent her running but this time sends her moving forward, towards a door at the end of the hallway marked Swift Street. 

 

And when she opens it she sees Lena standing in the attic of Swift Street and she’s looking at her with wide, scared eyes, and that shadow that was once behind Kara is gone, replaced…

 

Replaced by the woman standing in front of her, with that same feeling, that same presence, that same smell. 

 

Kara tries to speak but finds she can’t, finds Lena can’t either, and she watches as that shadow that once followed her rises behind Lena, rises and engulfs the room with its power, like two giant dragon wings unfurling behind her friend and spreading across the wall, touching the windows as lightning cracks.

 

The shadow spreads across the floor, stopping short of her feet but drowning the rest of the room in darkness, leaving only Lena standing in the center of it, bright and clear, but in the center of it all the same. 

 

Her eyes meet Lena, the green somehow brighter against the darkness, shining in a way they shouldn’t, and she feels like she should ask something, that there’s something she’s supposed to understand from this, but she just doesn’t know what.

 

And Kara hears the bone chilling laugh of something else and when she turns they’re both standing in the middle of Arkham, the laughter surrounding them, Lena’s hand on her face asking her if she’s okay and Kara can’t hear her voice but she can still smell the scent that is Lena all around her, can feel the same cold that came from the shadow in the hallway that now remains firmly behind Lena, tall and powerful, and it’s a comfort and it chases away Arkham and the monster in the dark that laughs. 

 

She closes her eyes and when she opens them again, she sees stars and constellations and they’re both standing somewhere Kara has never been…

 

A field she’s never seen, where music plays from a bar in the background and they’re standing before a horizon of open stars and meteors streaking across the sky in a flash as they fall. 

 

Lena’s hand is still on her face, that same wide-eyed expression swirling in her eyes as they fill with tears that threaten to fall. 

 

Kara reaches up to place her hand on Lena’s and holds it there. She tries to say something, say anything, to make Lena stop crying, to make this okay, to tell her she’s okay, to ask her why this is happening and what it all means.

 

No words come out. 

 

The meteors fall but there are no wishes to be made on shooting stars in this dream. No wishes but to figure out what it means.

 

The field part feels different, it feels like deja vu without being deja vu, like she’s glimpsing something she shouldn’t - it feels like what Nia describes when she talks about her dreams. 

 

And she’s never dreamt like this before, this feels so so different and scary and new that she wants to run from it, wants to force herself to wake up by jumping off a cliff or screaming so loud it forces her eyes to open.

 

But then…

 

She blinks and they’re standing in Swift Street together once again, right in the entrance way, right where Kara remembers walking inside for her first investigation. Lena’s hand is still on her cheek, Kara’s is still on hers, and she looks into Lena’s eyes and there’s something there, something that reminds Kara of the way they looked in Arkham in the dark when she’d felt that something else in the room, that evil around them. 

 

Something in Lena’s eyes that isn’t quite…

 

Human.

 

And Lena laughs and it’s warm and amused and she looks at Kara with eyes that make her heart beat just a little bit faster, and Kara feels the same cold as the shadow remains firmly behind Lena once again and shrinks and settles into something that resembles a normal shadow, like it’s always there, like it will always be, and it should scare her, this should scare her, but something about it doesn’t. 

 

It just leaves her confused in a way she’s still struggling to put together. It makes her aware to a degree that her conscious mind, though still asleep, makes a note that she should ask Nia who loves dream interpretations and who might be able to help her with this.

 

And then she’s forgetting the mental note because none of what she’s seen matters anymore. 

 

Because Lena is getting closer and all Kara wants to do is lean in and let the moment take her, enjoy the dream for what it is, should it become this…

 

She barely brushes Lena’s lips before she’s waking up.

 

And she’d be disappointed, she’d be angry at her brain for waking her up before she could really enjoy herself, but she breathes deeply and smells Earth and spice and cinnamon and Lena…all Lena…

 

And she remembers falling asleep in Lena’s arms, she remembers she’s still there. 

 

She’s holding Lena and Lena is holding her and they both fell asleep on her couch and she was just dreaming about Lena and…

 

She stills despite the very real fact that she’s koala bear’d herself on Lena and they are on her couch and they fell asleep and her arms are gripping around Lena’s middle and their legs are a tangled mess that is not all together uncomfortable but should probably not have happened and her head is tucked under Lena’s chin and she’s on her chest and it’s…

 

It’s a lot, all at once. 

 

She keeps her eyes closed and hopes that maybe Lena is still asleep, that maybe she can disentangle from this before it gets awkward, before Lena realizes just how close they are.

 

Kara realizes Lena’s hand is firmly in her hair and her nose is brushing against her forehead and whether Lena is aware she’s doing it or not, it doesn’t matter, because that’s enough to send her heart spiraling and stuttering in a torrent of beats that she thinks must be loud enough to wake the neighborhood. 

 

She lets out a small puff of breath, feels Lena’s sharp intake of a breath of her own and she knows there’s no way of getting out of this without waking Lena. 

 

There’s also no way to get out of this in a way that isn’t going to leave her disappointed. 

 

Because, despite the couch, despite the chaotic nature of how they’re wrapped up in each other, it’s comfortable in a way that Kara can’t explain, that she hasn’t felt before. And there’s something more in this moment, something she’s starting to want, something that dream her hadn’t really gotten the chance to do but real life her might be hoping for. 

 

And that should scare her, just a little, that should send her thoughts swirling and turning in some sort of panic regarding boundaries and friendship and co-workers and all sorts of things, but it doesn’t. She can’t explain why, but it just doesn’t. 

 

Because there’s something in the back of her mind, something in her heart and soul that is telling her, this is fine, this is okay, just let it be what it is, and what it is she can’t define, but she knows…

 

She doesn’t really want it to end. 

 

She honestly wants to just stay here for hours and hours, perhaps days and never move. 

 

Except she really has to pee. 

 

And as badly as she wants to remain in Lena’s arms, on the couch, tangled up with her, she’s not going to be able to hold out and the comfort level is only going to decline the more time she spends there. 

 

She bites the bullet and, still with her eyes closed, starts to move, starts to get her legs out from Lena’s and shifts just enough that she hopes she won’t wake Lena, but from the way Lena moves her hand away from Kara’s hair, she knows that Lena’s probably already awake. 

 

Kara freezes at the thought she might have been awake for a little while. 

 

She probably didn’t want to wake her. And Kara feels a little guilty about holding Lena hostage on her couch as she slept deeply. 

 

But then Lena’s hand comes to rest on the back of Kara’s neck and her fingers play with the fine hairs there and it sends a shiver down Kara’s spine and she stops feeling guilty. 

 

Kara should say something, should at least try to apologize, but for some reason she keeps her eyes closed, fragments of the dream dancing across her vision, the shadow, the smell, the laugh. 

 

And the woman surrounding it all. 

 

It feels like some kind of magic has fallen over the moment, some kind of spell of stillness. 

 

Lena’s hand is at the back of her neck as Kara tilts her head up, eyes still closed. 

 

Their noses brush. 

 

She feels Lena take a sharp breath and exhale close enough that Kara can feel it across her lips and if she keeps her eyes closed, if she just follows whatever this feeling is, maybe it won’t lead to disappointment after all. 

 

But Lena freezes and she never gets any closer. 

 

And when Kara opens her eyes, whatever spell they were under, breaks. 

 

Because Lena’s looking into her eyes with that wide-eyed scared stare from her dream and Kara blinks once, twice, and pulls back and tries to ignore the fact that she’s still holding Lena. 

 

“Hi,” she says, her voice barely above a whisper. Lena’s hand falls from the back of her neck and slides to settle on her shoulder blade which feels almost formal, unnatural and Kara doesn’t hate it but she doesn’t like it. 

 

And the look on Lena’s face never changes, some worried, nervous something behind her eyes that has Kara pulling back a little further, removing her arms from Lena’s middle and leaning over just enough that there’s space but she won’t fall onto the floor like an idiot. 

 

“Hey,” Lena says back, her voice weak and croaking, a breathlessness to it that makes Kara’s heart pound just a little heavier. 

 

She could just lean forward, she could just move right back into Lena’s orbit and it would be so simple. She watches Lena’s eyes dart down to her lips for just a fraction of a second and it’s almost like she’s afraid to go through with it, to ask, to try, even if she really wants to.

 

And Kara is too frozen watching her to do anything, too distracted by all of it, by her dream, by the woman in front of her, by how much she likes seeing Lena waking up, by how much she likes feeling Lena in her arms and how much she wants more, to see Lena wake up in her arms every morning. 

 

She’s distracted by everything, by all of it, by her mind running the circles it had paused on doing so earlier and was now Hell bent to kick into overdrive, leaving her too frozen by it all to chase what she wants, to lean forward and just let it happen and then figure it out after. 

 

“Did you sleep okay?” Lena asks and she looks anywhere but at Kara as Kara stares at her eyes, tries to picture them differently, tries to remember them in the dark and in her dream. 

 

Kara just nods, finds herself trying to see a shadow where it isn’t, finds herself smelling cinnamon and feeling a cold dancing across her skin.

 

“Did you?” Kara whispers and she still stares into Lena’s eyes, feels Lena’s hand land on her cheek and Kara leans into the touch as a thumb brushes where there once was a cut. 

 

The other woman nods and Kara catches her eyes once again and she’s all but ready to drown in them. 

 

And it’s like they’re magnets, like they can’t not be close, like there’s something pulling them back to where they were no matter how much distance they may want to give themselves. 

 

Because Kara’s moving back into Lena’s space without even really meaning to, closer and closer until she’s almost back to lying on top of Lena again, still staring, still looking at her as her dream echoes, as she tries to figure out what it all means. 

 

Her heart beats wildly, threatening to burst out of her chest as Lena just stares at her like she’s waiting for something, like she’s just as confused by all of this as Kara is. Like she doesn’t quite know what to do or how to proceed or if she should. 

 

And God, Kara wants to proceed, Kara wants to just let this play out, but she feels it too, that confusion, that slight terror at what’s happening and her brain just will not shut off now that it’s been allowed to spiral. 

 

They work together, they’re friends, and it’s a gray and murky area that others have navigated before, sure, but there’s a million other questions that arise when she thinks about it further, a million what-if’s and some are good and some are not, but she can’t deny there’s something here, something she can’t put a name to, something she just wants and wants and wants…

 

“I…” Kara starts, her voice so quiet, so shaky she almost doesn’t recognize it, and Lena’s eyes are so wide she looks like a deer caught in headlights and Kara is all of a sudden painfully aware of more pressing human needs.

 

“Really have to pee,” Kara finishes the sentence and Lena breaks into a smile with a shaky, almost relieved, breath. 

 

“You should probably go take care of that,” Lena states, her voice low and hushed and raspy despite the smile and Kara feels her throat dry at the tone. She swallows it down and nods. 

 

“And then we should talk…about breakfast,” Kara says in a rush, because they will not talk about this, or anything else, or Kara’s dream or whatever thing seems to be passing between them and building now…she can’t talk about it, she doesn’t even know what it is, what her dream was, what or if it means anything…what Lena wants this to be, if she wants it to be anything…

 

“Breakfast?” Lena asks with a raised eyebrow and Kara can’t help but forget the swirling thoughts, can’t help but let it all just fade into the background as she smiles too. 

 

“Yeah, it’s a sleepover, you have breakfast in the morning,” she says with certainty and Lena’s wide eyes soften, that nervous fear melting into something else that has Kara’s shoulders sinking just a little, softening too. 

 

“Of course, right, I think I’ve heard about that,” she smirks and Kara just nods. 

 

“It’s in the official sleepover rule book.”

 

“Oh, I never got around to reading that. I wasn’t invited to many sleepovers.”

 

“I’ll lend you my copy,” Kara quips, her voice hushed despite the light of day and Lena laughs, short and sweet and Kara blinks because it sounds so close to her dream, to one she’s heard before and all she can do is stare at the smirking woman beneath her and she just wants to lean forward, but she can’t. 

 

She does really need to pee. 

 

“So I’ll just…sorry, I really have to…” And Kara is practically jumping off both Lena and the couch as she gets up and walks about halfway across the room before turning and pointing at Lena, “Pancakes, I can make pancakes.” 

 

And then she’s half-jogging to the bathroom leaving Lena still on the couch. 

 

And while she sounds more collected, her head is still spinning, telling her she’s stupid over and over as she closes the door to the bathroom and tries not to think about how badly she wants to continue whatever was starting on the couch and how much she probably just ruined it. 

 

---

 

Breakfast isn’t as easy as other meals they’ve shared. It’s not entirely awkward and awful, but there’s a tension, a something that neither one of them will talk about or acknowledge as Kara cooks the pancakes and Lena waits and watches and drinks coffee. 

 

Her thoughts are elsewhere, are on symbols that have larger meanings, on humans who are making her feel way too much while Kara’s are lost in dreams of shadows and almost kisses and the want to turn the almosts into definitely happened. 

 

They eat in stunted conversation, talking about the movie from the night before, talking about anything but earlier, anything but what they both want to be talking about. 

 

“Do you really not think Arkham was haunted?” Kara asks towards the end.

 

Lena just shrugs, “I don’t know what it was. It was something.” 

 

And for some reason that puts a smile on Kara’s face, “I think I’m starting to get to you.”

 

Lena doesn’t mean to choke on her coffee, but she does, “What?”

 

“You’re starting to believe.” 

 

And that does have Lena laughing, awkward and forced, but laughing all the same, “Maybe you are getting to me.” 

 

And there’s a loaded look that Kara gives her, a look that almost feels like she’s examining Lena, like she’s searching for something and Lena feels like she’s on display as she fidgets in her seat and tries to look anywhere but at the blue eyes watching her. 



Kara looks like she wants to say something, like she’s about to, like she’s just struggling to find the words. And for her part, Kara is. She’s trying to connect two thoughts, connect the Lena who invaded her dreams to the Lena sitting in front of her and trying to understand the larger meaning behind it. 

 

And all it takes is Lena laughing at some innocuous joke for Kara to start to try to put the puzzle together. 

 

And just when Kara wants to say something about her dream, just when the loaded looks threaten to become too much, threaten to become the couch all over again, Lena stands up. 

 

“I should probably get going.” 

 

And Kara doesn’t fight her on it. Just accepts and they share awkward goodbyes and thanks and I’ll see you at work tomorrow and then there’s just silence in the apartment and Kara is alone with her thoughts, with all of it, with the swirl of emotion and fading scent of Lena and memories of a shadow and an asylum and a feeling of being protected from it all. 

 

And she can’t handle it. 

 

So she does something she hasn’t done in a while, something she used to do when she couldn’t sleep, back in the days when nightmares would invade and she needed to calm down and think. 

 

She goes for a run.  

 

---

 

Lena summons Sam and it takes all of thirty seconds for her unhinged demeanor to break into everything that happened. 

 

She means to begin with the discoveries in Arkham, she means to be steady when she explains she’s starting to suspect her brother may be up to something a lot more than he’s supposed to be, she means to say a lot of things but…

 

She starts with the couch. 

 

“Wait, you woke up on the couch together?” Sam asks after Lena finishes recounting the morning in a hurried rush. 

 

“Yes.” 

 

“You’re sleeping?” 

 

“Yes.”

 

“Because of Kara?” 

 

“I don’t know, but it’s like when I’m with her I feel…I feel!”

 

“You feel what?”

 

“Everything,” Lena says in a breathless whisper and Sam watches her friend, concerned in a way she hasn’t been before, unsure in a way she hasn’t let on, “It’s like this wave of emotion and my heart just…I’m happy and excited and scared and it doesn’t make any sense because I’m not supposed to feel anything.”

 

“And before Arkham I didn’t feel right but then at Arkham it was like this overwhelming darkness and pain and it didn’t make me feel better even though it should have, I felt like I was losing myself, but then there was Kara and she made me feel solid and then...” 

 

“What happened?” 

 

And Lena explains it, all of it, explains how it felt, how she feels now, how it’s like something else is settling into her and replacing all the coldness she’s supposed to be but isn’t. And then she gets to Arkham’s cell and the symbol and Sam grabs a piece of paper and asks her to draw it. 

 

“You destroyed it?” And there’s a fresh worry behind Sam’s eyes that has Lena nodding and wondering at the breath of relief Sam lets out. “And how did you feel after?” 

 

“Better. What is it?” 

 

Sam shakes her head, “Was Kara okay?” 

 

“I think so? I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary outside of the clown wanting to eat her face, but…” 

 

“He was drawn to her?” Sam asks, bypassing the clown comment, her own thoughts swirling behind her eyes and it leaves Lena more confused at the sudden chill to Sam’s demeanor. “How did she look this morning? Did she seem sick in any way?” 

 

“No, she looked normal. A little awkward but we were both not exactly…”

 

“How are you feeling?” Sam examines her, looking for the way Lena looked before Arkham, but all Lena does is stare at her, confused. 

 

“Fine, I think. Better than I was. What is it? What’s wrong?” 

 

“I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.” 

 

But it’s not enough and Sam is too worried for Lena to let it go, “Sam.” 

 

Sam sighs, not giving in, not certain, “I’ll let you know.” 

 

And Sam is standing with the piece of paper then, lost in thought and ready to run to find the answers, but she doesn’t miss the lost look in Lena’s eyes, the look that has her pausing and taking a breath and giving her friend a warm smile. 

 

“I promise I’ll be careful.” 

 

“It’s not that…I…I trust you, but there was another reason I called you. I need to find The Keeper.” 

 

And Sam just stands and listens, considers - that worried look still in her eyes. 

 

“Please I know I wasn’t exactly on board with him before, but I need answers.” 

 

“About Kara?” Sam asks and Lena nods. Sam shakes her head. 

 

“No. I don’t think it’s a good idea.” 

 

“What do you mean? You were encouraging me to find him, you were practically pushing me to go, what changed?” 

 

But Sam fights through whatever it is she wants to say, whatever she isn’t sure of, whatever she knows will only send Lena running and spiraling more, and instead just offers, “The Keeper isn’t a roadmap and he doesn’t have all…he’s…you only get one opportunity if you’re lucky, if he’ll see you, and there’s limits. I was exiled so it was different, a job for him, but you. You, the heir to the kingdom of Hell, may not get the answers you want.”

 

Lena blinks at the sudden change in her friend, at the graveness to her expression and words, because before she had been amused, she had been enjoying whatever it was that Lena was doing, had been on her side, but this feels different, “I still need to try. I still need something. I need to know why I’m…what this is…” 

 

“Maybe you should just let it be. Stop fighting it and just let yourself…feel. Just let it be. Just stay with her.” And while Sam’s words are encouraging there’s a warning in it, a worry that won’t fade, that has the room feeling larger and heavier. 

 

“What?” 

 

“Stay with her.” And while Sam tries to make it sound like hope, all it does is sound like an alarm, like if Lena doesn’t, something bad will happen.  

 

Lena’s eyes widen and Sam takes a breath, tries to make it all go down easier, “Maybe whatever this is. What if it’s not supposed to exist? And what if you go to The Keeper and he didn’t foresee this, or he doesn’t know what it is, what if it’s something outside understanding? He has to inform both sides. Because when something exists that isn’t supposed to, when something is new, it threatens balance. What if no one likes the information that they’re given? What happens to you and Kara then?” 

 

“Why are you saying this? Why are you so scared all of a sudden?”

 

And Lena knows it’s the symbol drawn on a piece of paper in Sam’s hand, knows that something about it connects to this, something that Sam isn’t saying, something that she needs to know whether Sam will tell her or not. 

 

“You trust me?” And it’s said like a question but Sam already knows the answer. 

 

Lena nods, responds in kind, “And you trust me,” because they both do, in a world, in their dark world where there is no trust, they’ve found it in each other and it’s rare to rely on another, rare to have this confidant in each other where they know it’s not going to bite them in the ass in the end - but they do have this and they hold it dearly. 

 

“I need to know.” 

 

And Sam knows that Lena will not relent, knows that she’ll just find The Keeper in another way, knows the more dangerous routes she could go down, that could inform her mother. So Sam gives her a ticket, gives her a way, because it’s all she can do to give her the option and warn her not to use it. 

 

“Only use it if you have to.” 

 

And Sam pulls something from the air, a card that glimmers like it’s metallic and all it has is an address and Lena knows its where she can find the Keeper. 

 

“Thank you,” Lena states and Sam nods, but there’s a deeper worry, a something else she doesn’t want to say, she can’t say just yet. But Lena trusts her, trusts that she’s keeping it quiet for a reason. 

 

She has to.  

 

“You may not hear from me for a little while.” Sam pockets the paper, starts to rush around like she’s on a mission, preparing to disappear. 

 

“You recognize them, the symbols.” 

 

And Sam doesn’t lie, she nods, “Keep her close.” 

 

“How? Why? I don’t even know what this is or why I’m...” 

 

“Kara is the answer.” 

 

“I don’t understand.” 

 

“There is no answer, but Kara is the answer.”

 

And while Lena has more questions to Sam’s cryptic message, the other demon is already disappearing with one last parting look towards the card in Lena’s hand and a, “Only if you have to,” before she’s gone. 

 

It only leaves Lena with more questions, more concerns, and a sinking feeling in her stomach that swirls and shifts, the warmth that Kara had left her with earlier fading, leaving her off balance, leaving her with yet another debate on whether or not it’s time to leave. 

 

Keep her close, but there’s a dangerous element here, a tension that is growing between them that Lena is certain will only be made worse by a closeness Kara may not even want. 

 

She thinks of wide eyes and fear in Arkham, on a couch, a soft smile in that terrified expression, and she wonders how long until Kara starts to fear her like she should?

 

Maybe she should stay away from Kara, despite what Sam said, maybe whatever is happening is bad, truly bad, and unable to be explained or understood. Maybe it’s disruptive in a way that will have her eliminated, and will have Kara eliminated too. 

 

Lena has heard the stories. She has heard tales of fallen angels and humans and words like love that she could never understand and how it always ends in death because it can not be allowed to exist. 

 

She’s heard her mother mock in disgust the very concept and she remembers being very young and seeing a cold look she had never seen before in both her mother and father’s (before he had succumbed to his fate) eyes and Hell being even colder - like it was holding its breath waiting for something. 

 

And she had been young and small and Hell was so large and lonely and new for her, and all she had was a brother who had not yet lost his claim to the throne, who would tell her stories on other subjects, stories that he enjoyed telling, stories of things destroyed and beings slaughtered because they broke rules she didn’t understand yet. 

 

Stories of demons and witches and things born in shadow and darkness that could not and would never be allowed to live. Stories he told with a sickening glee that had Lena feeling much more nauseous than she should have at the time - that still had her feeling dizzy even now - a burning look in his eyes that screamed with a desire to have been there, to be the one wielding the blade that brought the slaughter. 

 

But the night Hell went silent, the night no one would talk, the night she wandered halls in silence, he had only said one word when she asked - and there had been anger instead of enjoyment as he murmured, “Hypocrites.”

 

And Lena had asked who, had asked what was going on, and he just shook his head. 

 

And then the silence ended and Hell’s screams erupted louder and she remembers hearing their father walk through the halls and giving his son a cold stare as he told Lex, “It’s handled,” before those same eyes had fallen to Lena and turned away with a cold worry.  

 

Lex had not been relieved, he had been angry. 

 

“When I rule Hell,” he had told her after, “We will eliminate the hypocrites. The heretics. All of them. They don’t see it, what we can accomplish if we just…we can take the Earth. Rule it.” And there had been a frightening ambition, a deeper darkness than even their world could hold, and Lena knows now that had been the beginning of his downward spiral, of his leeching darkness from sources that would only serve to eliminate him from the very rule he wanted. 

 

But at the time she had only seen a brother who saw value in her where their parents did not, who spoke to her as an equal and not as a shadow that haunted the halls of Hell. 

 

She remembers after the silence broke that lesser demons looked at her like she was something disgusting, she remembers higher ones avoiding her eyes, tortured souls who were terrified to look at their tormentors unafraid to look at her, curious about her - and she was still new, still small, still not yet grown and acquainted with the world - a child forged in darkness and terrified and confused of what it all was. 

 

She knows that had been the beginning of the chasm between her and Lex, that where he had once seen his rule and her serving as his right hand - it wouldn’t come to pass. 

 

Even more so when, years, decades, centuries later, she couldn’t even say what year exactly, after her last trip Earthside, somewhere possibly around the nineties - Hell went silent again except for her brother. 

 

Lex laughed in the silence. 

 

Laughed even though their father had long been gone, laughed as their mother continued to control Hell, laughed even with his throne gone, Lena declared the heir, as their mother sent him to the torture chambers to live and rot. 

 

Still, he laughed in the fresh silence.  

 

Laughed as he poured over books and hid in his chambers and only stopped laughing when he told Lena, “All that they tried to protect and build, the wars, the great fall - now it’s their turn, they will have no place to protect, we will take it.” 

 

“Our enemies think they’re better than us, they aren’t now,” was all her mother had told her when she asked about this silence, “You are the future of the house of Luthor, of Hell, act accordingly.” 

 

But she doesn’t feel like the future now. She doesn’t even feel like a Luthor anymore.

 

She wonders if her brother would think her a hypocrite, if he would look at what’s happening between her and Kara and their fate would be the same as all those stories that he used to wish he had been a part of - that he could be in this one - an ending to this story. 

 

The world she occupies is a world that is not supposed to be occupied by the unknown, the unexpected, it’s a world that is delineated by good and bad, by law and order, by the above and the below and the Earthly realm in between where there are distinct rules and they are allowed to take up space, to go about their respective jobs and paths and corrupt or save, but never to live, never to occupy and change and manipulate - never to mix and befriend or...love. 

 

Taste the fruit but never live in the garden, see the sun but never feel it. Outside of humanity, never in it. Never feel anything, never want to, and yet…she does want to, so what does that make her? What does that mean she is becoming and should she be allowed to exist? 

 

And Sam had told her to keep Kara close but it’s her brother’s voice that screams loudest, that threatens, that wields a sword and darkness and slits Kara’s throat and the closer she is to her, the farther she is from keeping her safe. 

 

Because maybe whatever it is, maybe Sam is right and maybe it isn’t supposed to be.

 

But it doesn’t make sense, because how can something that isn’t supposed to be make her feel like this? How can she feel so lost when she’s not near Kara and feel so much better, so much calmer, when she’s with her? How can it feel so important and like gravity holding her still when she’s in the human’s space and how can she feel out of control when she’s not? 

 

How can sleeping and waking up with her feel like it’s where she’s meant to be when it’s not?  

 

She puts the card away, hides it for emergency use only, and thinks of Sam’s warning, thinks that the answers she seeks may not be what she needs to hear or wants to find, thinks that out of all the possibilities, getting an answer will only lead to her mother or her brother or someone else ending this very thing that began with an accidental laugh and that she now cherishes larger than any treasure she could ever hope to find. 

 

And it’s terrifying. Because it all feels so big and so small and so much that she doesn’t know what to do about it or how to solve it. 

 

Sam had said stay and Sam had told her that maybe Kara was the answer and it doesn’t make sense no matter how much she tries to make it so. It’s confusing and weird and strange but Sam had said to lean into it and maybe Lena just should.

 

Maybe she should trust Sam to find the answers and just let the uneasy feeling at not knowing fade into the background and just keep Kara close, keep her safe.  

 

She doesn’t sleep that night. 

 

She draws and redraws the symbol on a piece of paper and thinks of Kara and the silence of the past and turns the card over in her hands and wonders at what point this balancing act will fall apart, when it will all come undone. 

 

---

 

Kara runs before work on Monday.

 

She doesn’t plan to, she just can’t sleep. Her mind turns over her dreams, over the couch, over a laugh she can’t quite place but sounds so familiar. 

 

She tries not to think about Lena’s hand on her cheek in Arkham, tries not to remember the feeling of some presence that wouldn’t leave until the lights went out, tries not to think there was something off about Lena until there wasn’t. 

 

She finally gives up trying to sleep around four in the morning and starts running at five. 

 

She runs and she thinks of a laugh she can’t quite place and she listens to the clip from Swift Street, the laugh on repeat and tries to block out the background noise, tries to block out the static and the eeriness of it and imagine the person who could have been behind it. 

 

She stands under the hot water of her shower and her mind replays every corner of Arkham Asylum, every cold chill, every haunting moment, a look in Lena’s eyes that wasn’t Lena at all. 

 

She closes her eyes and thinks of the laugh again, thinks of Lena’s laugh, tries to meld the two images together, but it doesn’t make any sense. How can it?  

 

It doesn’t feel real, it feels like she’s losing her mind or trying to create something that there isn’t because she’s panicking about something else she doesn’t want to think about. But she’s not and it sounds so close, sounds so similar even if there’s no way it’s possible. 

 

Because it’s not possible. 

 

It can’t be possible.

 

She’s a believer in the beyond and the supernatural and all manners of paranormal oddities, but this…this feels like it’s going too far…this can’t be possible. 

 

And yet… 

 

She remembers something about Swift Street she had blocked out, remembers the presence she felt, remembers a smell of cinnamon that won’t escape her apartment. That had been right next to her, cuddled with her on her couch, that lingers on a pillow, in her lungs, that matches the very house where it all began. 

 

Where she heard the laugh…

 

And she feels like there’s a buzzing underneath her skin that started after Lena left and just won’t stop.

 

She doesn’t know what it is, this restless energy, but it’s there, like it’s infecting her and coursing through her veins. It presents itself like the beginnings of a migraine, a pulse behind her eyes that feels like it’s digging and digging, forcing her to look closer, to think, to consider that all options, even the impossible, could be possible.

 

And while most of the time she wears contacts, Monday morning she finds she needs to wear her glasses because her head won’t stop spinning and the pressure behind her eyes doesn’t fade. 

 

Maybe it’s just lack of sleep or maybe it’s because she feels like she’s trying to solve a problem on a test she hasn’t studied for that is also in a language she doesn’t speak and somehow it all ties back to Lena and she doesn’t know why. 

 

On her way into work she still stops for two coffees. 

 

She tries to ignore the knot in her stomach and the slight fear she has at seeing Lena, and tries to ignore the memory of the awkward breakfast and Lena practically running from her apartment as she leaves one on Lena’s desk before she sneaks into Nia’s workspace.

 

She hides there and waits for the producer and social media coordinator and all around wearer of a lot of hats to show up so Kara can ask her if she’s still into the dream interpretation stuff - because Kara needs Nia to be wearing her ‘I believe in dream interpretation and paranormal and will help you with whatever spooky thing you’re freaking out about’ hat today. 

 

When Nia does show up Kara is running on no sleep, on too much caffeine and wild theories and the younger woman barely sits down before Kara is blurting, “Do you think you can dream things that have happened but aren’t happening and also do you think like ghosts can become people, like possess them?!”

 

Nia blinks and tries to process all the words that Kara has just yelled at her as she puts her things down and takes a breath, “Good morning, Kara, how was Arkham Asylum?” 

 

“Scary. Do you think that could happen?” 

 

“Ghosts possessing people? Are you worried something got you in Arkham? I can find you a priest if you want some holy water or an exorcism. We could add it as a bonus episode.” 

 

“I don’t think you can just ask for an exorcism but the holy water might be…no…I…listen!”

 

Kara plays the Swift Street video as if that explains her harried look and bleary red eyes and hair pulled back into a messy ponytail because she forgot to brush it, “It’s the same.”

 

“What is?” 

 

“The laugh, it’s the same, it’s her laugh.” 

 

“Who?”

 

And Kara glances over the cubicle, looks around the room but finds it’s still early enough, not quite busy and overrun, and Lena is nowhere to be found. 

 

Still, Kara whispers, “Lena.”

 

Nia tries to find words, tries to find something, anything to say because Kara looks like she’s losing it and she’s not entirely sure what Lena has to do with it outside of the very real feelings Nia is sure Kara has for her, but she can’t just lead with that, so all she comes up with is, “Have you slept?” 

 

“Does it look like I’ve slept?!” Kara laughs, harsh and sarcastic, “I’m losing my mind.”

 

“Okay, back up then because I need context for…all of this…what’s this whole possession theory and please start at the beginning.”

 

And Kara does, more or less, “Swift Street.”

 

“No, that’s too far back. How does the laugh at Swift Street connect? Why do you think that has anything to do with Lena?”

 

“Because it’s the same!” Kara throws her hands up and Nia shoves a chair in her direction, begging her to sit down and thankfully, Kara does. 

 

“Take a breath,” Nia orders and Kara does before Nia argues, “A lot of laughs are the same, and that one is static and a lot of background noise, also I’ve never heard Lena laugh like that, so…”

 

“I have, it’s that soft one she does when she's genuinely amused. She did it in my apartment and at Arkham I think, but definitely in my apartment. When we were on my couch and when we woke up, I…”

 

“Hold up,” Nia holds her hands up and Kara falls silent, “Rewind that can of worms and open it further because what? She slept on your couch?! You slept with her on your couch? She was in your apartment and you woke up together, on your couch, together?!” 

 

“Not like that. We didn’t do anything. We fell asleep watching a movie.”

 

“Together, cuddled on your couch, where you woke up…together.”

 

“Please stop saying together. It was nothing. We woke up and…”

 

“And?” Nia asks, noticing the slight blush creeping along Kara’s cheeks, the way she carefully bypasses the full sentence, “So this is like a full on panic that’s happening then? This isn’t really about a laugh. We’re back to the wife, you may have feelings for Lena, thing.”

 

“No! We’re not! I don’t have…this is about the laugh. It’s the same, Nia, it’s the same. And in Arkham we were in that dark room and her eyes changed and there was this something there and then I got scratched and her hand was on my cheek but it felt like she felt cold and…I don’t understand. And I had this dream! We have to find the footage, we have to ask for the footage and I have to…you’ll see it.” 

 

Kara stands but Nia pushes her back into her seat, “I think you need to take a nap.”

 

“I can’t.” 

 

“Okay, tell me about the dream and I will look it up, not only because I love this shit but also because you are bad at it and I’m worried Arkham broke you.”

 

“I’m not bad at it.” 

 

“You don’t buy into it.” 

 

“I’m talking to you about it, aren’t I? You did a whole college paper on dream interpretation which I read and found very interesting.”

 

“You read that?” 

 

Kara shrugs and Nia can’t help but feel flattered that Kara bothered to read a paper she wrote in college that served as a piece of her portfolio to getting a job at CatCo. 

 

“Dreams and ghosts are hardly interchangeable. I mean I believe in all of it, but…dreams are your subconscious and ghosts are like ghosts.” 

 

“And what about more than ghosts?”

 

“What’s more than ghosts? Like more powerful ghosts?” 

 

“Demons. Angels. All that.” 

 

Nia shrugs, “I mean I guess if I subscribe to ghosts then I have to subscribe to larger entities but…we’re off topic. Why don’t you just tell me about the dream and we’ll go from there?”

 

And Kara explains the shadow, explains how it felt, how she was standing in Swift Street with Lena and then she tells her about the field and the meteors and how it all felt, how the shadow seemed to sink into Lena and become her. 

 

“And this led you to a ghost has somehow possessed her?” 

 

“No, it led me to…she doesn’t talk about her family, or where she came from, and there’s so many unanswered things and I…”

 

“Think she’s a ghost? She’s solid and she eats food, Kara.”

 

“I don’t know the rules! In Casper Meets Wendy the ghosts possess people and do all those things, like eating and dancing with the witches and she had never seen Twilight or heard of it!” 

 

“She could have come from a religious family or a cult and she wasn’t allowed to watch movies,” Nia argues.

 

“Or maybe we shouldn’t base our theories on things we watched in Casper or Ghost or any other movies.” Kara crosses her arms and huffs. Nia shakes her head and offers, “You could do a background check and just find out where she’s from. Your sister works for the FBI, use your resources like a reporter would.”

 

“That feels like a violation and also a conflict for Alex.” 

 

“Then ask Lena about it.”

 

“I can’t ask her. I can’t be like hey are you secretly possessed by a ghost? What if she is? What if I break her brain?” 

 

“I love no-sleep Kara I’ll be honest, she’s fun,” Nia states with a smirk and Kara glares. 

 

“Humor me! You’re supposed to believe too!”

 

“Okay, fine. Based on my own, limited knowledge of paranormal shows, some minor research I did before this, and other knowledge from my own family’s beliefs that ties into our conversation about larger beings. What if she’s not a ghost? What if she’s more?”

 

“More?”

 

“Maybe the random internet comment that she’s secretly a demon was right,” And Nia is joking, but Kara stares at her with a grave seriousness, a wholehearted sinking of a possible reality where Nia is actually right, where that is the truth, and her sleep deprived brain combined with the memories of her dream and a laugh and scent that just won’t fade all combines to make her believe it without much prompting.

 

“What if it was?” 

 

“Kara, that’s…insane…”

 

“Maybe it’s not. I mean…there’s things we don’t understand, things you and I believe in that people can’t explain, why not? I mean my dream, it’s the same, she’s not not a human passing solid person, maybe it’s not possession, maybe she is the thing…” 

 

And now Nia really does need to let her fun end, because, “Kara, let’s just go back to the dream, okay? Let’s really think about it.”

 

Kara listens and Nia tries to be delicate. 

 

“I think what’s happening is you have questions about someone you are developing feelings for and you feel like there’s a metaphorical shadow hovering over it. Maybe it’s an identity thing, maybe you subconsciously feel like you’re haunted by the shadows of a past relationship and pursuing one with Lena means something else because you want to know all of her - secrets and all. Or maybe she’s actually a demon and I’m completely wrong, but, falling meteors and stars…in my experience most people make wishes on those and it seems like your wish is to be with Lena and you’re too scared of a fictional shadow to do anything about it. And you’re not scared she doesn’t like you back, you’re scared she does and you might actually get your wish.” 

 

Nia crosses her arms and Kara swallows the interpretation and yes, maybe it’s the logical explanation, maybe it’s a real one, but it doesn’t feel like the right one. 

 

Well it feels partially right, some of it feels right, the whole wish thing and the wanting thing and the developing feelings and…oh she hasn’t really acknowledged that part yet, but no…no…there’s something else…the shadow is real and Kara knows that. 

 

It has to be.

 

Two things can be true. 

 

The shadow can be real, Lena can be…something else…and Kara can also be absolutely terrified that she’s falling for her hard and fast and wants her in a way she has never wanted anyone before - even others she has been romantically involved with - because it feels like so much more. 

 

It can all be true. But right now, she needs Nia to understand that the first thing is true before the second thing, that there is something more going on outside of catching feelings.

 

“She smells the same,” Kara tries in a desperate bid to get Nia to somehow start to see whatever it is she thinks she’s putting together, “As the shadow, as Swift Street, Lena smells the same.”

 

“Really weird that you know how she smells and yet, we could argue that you were asleep on her so, naturally…” But that has Nia thinking, has her pausing as she remembers her own research into dreams and interpretation, “You can’t smell in your dreams. You wake up and smell but you can’t…that doesn’t make sense unless…there’s a memory associated with it.”

 

And Kara waits and listens as Nia turns to her computer and puts together all of the imagery in Kara’s dreams. 

 

“So you believe…”

 

Nia shushes her and pulls up message boards that leads to links to other sites and on and on they go until they’re both spiraling down a rabbit hole of theories and comments and occultists and an entire thread that is dedicated to readings and so called evidence and interpretations of rules about all of the so called demonic world with their own captured evidence. 

 

There’s pictures that are just blurred shadows and pictures of symbols that don’t make sense and were discovered in various places - abandoned and haunted places - and some that aren’t haunted at all. And Kara vaguely remembers seeing at least two of these symbols before somewhere and while she has Nia print them out, makes note of them - she isn’t sure where outside of maybe the one that sends a chill up her spine.

 

And before either one of them realizes the day is half over, they’ve built a conspiracy theory level wall with red string and all, and Nia has lied to Cat Grant and every passerby saying they’re doing research on the next episode as Kara hopes that Lena never comes to find them.

 

She doesn’t. And Kara never seeks her out either. Too wrapped up in the theory, in her own head and her own feelings to even fathom what she would do if she saw her, if she remembered how the light looked behind her as she ate pancakes at her kitchen counter and how badly it made her heart ache to think of never getting that again.

 

---

 

Lena ends up hiding in Brainy’s office as soon as she comes in on Monday morning.

 

She stops at her and Kara’s shared space, checks that Kara is there, but only finds a coffee left for her on her desk. 

 

It feels wrong to take it when she’s avoiding her, not avoiding her, she can’t avoid her, but…when she’s not sure what to do about her outside of keeping track, not sure how to handle this whole thing between them now with her own secrets and worries and the whole waking up together thing. 

 

So she leaves it and takes it as the sign that Kara came in to work, that she’s okay, and then she hides in the editing room with Brainy. 

 

They sift through footage from Arkham and while Brainy tags and carefully marks footage that no one should see, Lena asks him to skip ahead to the cell and pause when she first walks in. 

 

She can see it clearly on the floor in the footage, the symbol that had Sam worried and Brainy zooms in. 

 

“What is that?” He asks, noting Lena’s careful inspection of it.

 

“Something not good.”

 

“If you don’t think it’s good then that’s…” And he doesn’t finish the sentence, but for someone who didn’t believe in all of this before, he takes it in stride, accepts that there must be some cause for concern. And Lena keeps waiting for Brainy to lose it, to suddenly start screaming and ranting about the end of days or how his previous thoughts of reality are all a lie, but it never comes. 

 

“Do you know what it is?” He asks instead, noting the timestamp and printing the image, “Just in case.” 

 

She shakes her head, “Once I destroyed it I felt better so whatever it is, I think it’s designed to siphon or boost but…it didn’t feel good. At least not for me.”

 

“Siphon what?”

 

“Power. A place like that rooted in pain and darkness, that power has to go somewhere.”

 

“So that’s why you laid down on the floor,” he states and she shrugs. 

 

“I needed to do it without anyone noticing or else I’m pretty sure I would be stuck there right now. Or…” And she glances down and they both laugh despite themselves. 

 

“That would have made for some good television,” he jokes and Lena sinks in her chair just a little, nervously fidgeting with her hands as she does. 

 

“Did it hurt?” He asks, a note of care and concern in his voice that Lena isn’t used to hearing. And it’s different then how Kara cares, then the kindness in her voice, it’s more subdued, but it makes Lena fall quiet all the same at the idea that two people, two humans, care about her.

 

She shrugs, “Not a lot, it helped having Kara there.” And she swallows down the emotion that threatens to rise from that thought, that springs forth at the memory, at Kara’s warmth holding her steady while she tried not to lose herself in keeping them safe. 

 

“Do you want to talk about what happened in Arkham?” He offers, shutting off the screen when Lena won’t stop staring at it, at Kara’s worried face, at the darkness behind her own eyes that seemed to be taking over her. 

 

“Nothing happened.” 

 

“Lena I was there, I saw you…something wasn’t right and then…”

 

“It doesn’t make sense and you wouldn’t understand it.”

 

“Then try to explain it.”

 

And Lena does, she talks about how it felt, how something was pulling her in, making her lose control, how Kara managed to keep her grounded, how it shouldn’t be like that, how she shouldn’t feel like this or like anything, especially not for a human, for Kara, how she’s freaking out about all of it, how her friend was worried and disappeared in the name of research and what Sam warned her about. 

 

“Keep her close. For what purpose?” 

 

Lena shrugs, “But how can I if it’s bad, if it’s…” And she doesn’t need to talk fully about the fears, about what it could mean, “If someone finds out on my side of things.”

 

“Maybe that’s why you should keep her close, keep her safe,” he offers but Lena shakes her head. 

 

“The closer I get, the closer we are, the less safe she is.”

 

They sit in the silence of the moment until Brainy scoffs, “That makes no sense, the closer she is to you the safer she would actually be. You have power, she does not, therefore, proximity equals safety, at least for Kara.”

 

“Not in a logical sense,” Lena tries but fails to argue.  

 

“Is this because of what happened at movie night? Or should I say, the morning after? Is this more like a ‘you're having feelings’ kind of panic, and less of a supernatural kind of one?” Brainy asks, a slight raise of his eyebrow and Lena narrows her eyes. 

 

“No. Nothing happened, where are you getting your information?”

 

He fidgets with his phone and Lena shakes her head. 

 

“Nia?” 

 

“Kara may have gone into her office freaking out about the whole waking up on the couch together among other things.”

 

“What other things?”

 

“She didn’t say.”

 

“But she told you about the couch.”

 

“She was very excited about it. I’m ninety percent sure she may have planned a shipping hashtag for the two of you but promised Kara she wouldn’t use it, at least not publicly.” 

 

“Unbelievable. It was nothing. We fell asleep. Kara freaked out? Is she okay?” And Lena stands then but sits back down, suddenly unsure if she should go to her, if this slight distance is for the best.

 

“I’m sure she’s fine. Processing. What happened?”

 

“It’s like when I’m with her I’m an entirely different person, I feel and I…” she mentions her pursuit of answers, mentions Sam’s additional warning about the Keeper and whatever knowledge he may have. 

 

Brainy listens without judgment, without fear, and with a blank slate that doesn’t come with any pre-understanding of her world. That offers a new perspective. 

 

“And you think this Keeper might not be such a good source?” 

 

“I’m not sure. I just know that I trust Sam and if she’s telling me not to go, then it’s not good.” 

 

“But she thinks whatever is happening between you and Kara is.”

 

“I don’t know what she thinks.”

 

“What do you think?” 

 

“I don’t know,” And she truly doesn’t, “With Lex I just know there’s something more going on and I don’t know what to do about it or how to find answers and if he finds out about Kara…I…I can’t let that happen.”

 

And there’s a kind of desperation in Lena’s heart, a kind of pull and sadness that haunts her eyes that has Brainy just listening. 

 

“You could tell her who you are, she might be able to help you figure it out, or you could at least tell her how you feel.” 

 

“How can I do that when I don’t know what I feel or what this even is between us?”

 

“When you were both in the tower? When Kara got scratched…I caught something.”

 

And Brainy plays the footage, there’s a glimpse of a face that is so much more terrifying in the shadows of the camera that Lena feels her hand grip the chair as it gets too close to Kara. 

 

The world goes dark, the camera sounds like it’s sizzling and there’s a snap of something else as Lena gets rid of the Joker, and it’s all there, caught in the look in Lena’s eyes, in eyes that aren’t human and don’t even try to be until Kara is looking at her, until her hand is on Kara’s cheek and checking to make sure she’s okay - the pale and icy cold of her eyes fading back to green in Kara’s presence. 

 

And Brainy pauses on that look, pauses on the way Kara stares at her and it has Lena’s breath in her throat, has her remembering a similar look on a couch that now seems like it was forever ago when it was just yesterday morning. 

 

“This is what I wanted you to see,” and he points to where Lena’s hand is still on Kara’s cheek, he adjusts something on the screen, changes the frame and the filter and Lena sees something there, a flash that almost looks like a spark, like a thread that appears all too briefly and then is gone. 

 

“What is that?” 

 

“I thought it was a glitch but it looks like an electric shock.”

 

“I don’t remember getting shocked.” 

 

“Something passed between you two. And my best guess is it’s going to continue to. I don’t believe in magic or the supernatural or paranormal, well, I didn’t, but that is undeniable evidence of something…tangible and real. You should listen to your friend…just lean into it.” 

 

“That’s not…that’s not how it works for me for things like me. We don’t…that doesn’t happen.”

 

“Well it just did.”

 

“Well…it can’t!”

 

Brainy spins in his chair, “So you two are just going to dance around this until what, you get answers that satisfy you? What if there is no answer?” 

 

And Lena freezes because that had been what Sam had said, “Maybe there is no answer, but Kara is the answer.” 

 

And Brainy adds, “The universe is matter and atoms and particles moving and changing in patterns that are most of the time random, but occasionally aren’t. Maybe this one moment in time, this random moment, connected you two and gave you both something you needed and it’s a good thing. Which probably means you’re just more human than you think you are.”

 

“I’m not.” But even as she says it it no longer feels true and in the back of her mind she remembers a silent Hell and the word ‘hypocrite.’

 

A silent Hell and no one looking her in the eyes.

 

“Then hide in here and freak out and wonder and let Kara do the same thing until you two have to do another episode and are forced to spend time together and you both break down. What is the next episode by the way? Should I prepare for more of these looks I will have to edit around and murderous ghosts?” 

 

“Kara is choosing the next one.”

 

“Right. And you’re just going to let her choose whatever place. No say in the matter. No, hey that one’s actually haunted let’s go to this nice park instead?”

 

“I’ve already hidden the files on the more dangerous places, unless there’s somewhere Kara hasn’t told me about, it’s been quietly handled.”

 

“Right. Kara Danvers has no way of fucking up your careful plans.”

 

---

 

The next day Lena leaves a coffee on Kara’s desk and hides in the editing room again. 

 

Kara sleeps about four hours, runs, showers and is almost late for work because she’s building her own copy of the conspiracy board hidden in Nia’s office and her printer breaks as she’s trying to find an exact copy of the symbol she and Nia found. 

 

When she rushes into work, already drinking the energy drink she got from the vending machine because she couldn’t stop for coffee, she sees the coffee, doesn’t see Lena and even if she feels bad about not sharing it with her, not sharing the morning talk in their office, she takes it and rushes back to Nia’s office. 

 

She sends an e-mail to Cat Grant, lying about the research as she inquires about the next place of investigation and Kara has no idea. She brings the pile of places that feels lighter than it used to into Nia’s office as they continue their web spiral of investigation and add more to their conspiracy board and indulge in fast food and snacks as the office buzzes around them and largely ignores them.

 

“Cat is going to want to know where your next episode is going to take place after the episode airs tomorrow,” Nia mentions after she responds to an e-mail inquiring about the status of their research for the next episode.

 

They’ve spent another half day in her cubicle, filled with research and eating fast food and downing coffee while Nia, previously hesitant about Kara’s theory, is now fully on board that there’s something more going on with Lena and not in the Kara catching feelings kind of way.

 

In the decidedly more Supernatural and weird way. 

 

“I’m going to have to pick somewhere fun. Easy.” Kara rifles through the files she has on supposed haunted places, grimacing at the touristy attractions that at one point had her terrified at the idea of ghost hunting in there but now only had her rolling her eyes. She’s faced Arkham Asylum, she can’t just go to some Old West Town even if the history was really cool. 

 

“You could always pick somewhere you could test your theory,” Nia states as she clicks another link that leads to a highly recommended book all about occult symbols and their rituals, “Oh this one has an apocalypse prophecy!” 

 

“We’re not buying some random book. Not another one, we’ve already bought three.” Kara wonders at what point the financial department of CatCo is going to get worried when they see three books on demons, sources of supernatural power and witches. 

 

“But this one was written by a certified occult researcher and archeologist. Dr. John Constantine, Hell of a name, pardon the pun.”

 

“No.”

 

“Oops I hit buy.” 

 

Kara gives her a look and Nia shrugs, “What? It’s not either of our money and it’s technically research.” 

 

And then something clicks for Kara, something that Nia had said earlier, she knocks over an empty fast food bag where they had both devoured burgers from earlier, the desk littered with coffee cups and snack wrappers as she types into Nia’s computer. 

 

“What are you doing?” 

 

The screen changes and Kara points to it, proudly, a website inviting seekers of the paranormal to experience this nexus of power.

 

“This is where we can test the theory. It’s supposed to be like a whole place of weird. Like a…those things that open into other worlds, I’m so tired I can’t think.”

 

“A portal?”

 

“Yes! And it has a poltergeist, Not that I know this from the movie but, it’s an intelligent spirit and trickster. It could literally annoy Lena into forcing some dark energy, right?”

 

“You want to annoy Lena into proving your theory?” Nia asks but in her own sleep deprived and rabbit hole of research state, it actually makes sense.

 

“It could work.” 

 

“It’s a bar in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“It’s a haunted bar in the middle of nowhere.”

 

And Nia looks at the website, looks at the proud disclaimer of guaranteed to give you a fright in bright neon lettering and she sighs, “This place wasn’t on the list and it’s going to require travel accommodations.”

 

“I just remembered it existed and if anyone can sell Ms. Grant on it, you can.”

 

And she’s not wrong. Nia knows she can, knows the metrics behind it would yield results. They do need a fun episode for average viewers after the scary Arkham trip. She could even sell it better after the episode airs. 

 

“I guess this could be a fun episode and maybe give you a chance to test the theory, if it’s just the right amount of legitimately haunted and not tourist trap.”

 

Kara beams, proud, a plan forming in her mind at all the ways she can force trouble, “We should get a book on poltergeists.” 

 

Nia nods, already ordering one before turning to Kara, “Look, Kara, I’m mostly on board, but you know this could just be an insane lack of sleep thing for the two of us. We’re basically just two brain cells feeding off each other at this point.”

 

“Or it’s real,” Kara argues.

 

“Or it’s real,” Nia agrees, her last brain cell dying with Kara’s.

 

“We should probably try to sleep though.” 

 

And Nia nods, “And you should probably tell Lena where you’re both going for the next investigation.”

 

“Right. I have to talk to her.”

 

“Yes, you do. That’s kind of how the whole partners on a show thing works.”

 

“What do we do if I’m right?” Kara suddenly panics, sipping at the last of her soda.

 

“Well I guess you’ll find out when you enter…The Phantom Zone.” And Nia waves her hands and hums The X-Files theme song then. 

 

And that has Kara rolling her eyes.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SEVEN: UNAVOIDABLE

 

“Wait, I’m sorry, you think what?!” Alex shouts as Kara paces in her living room.

 

“Alex, it’s storytime!” Kelly shouts from upstairs in unison with Esme and Alex lowers her voice. 

 

Kara, who once again, could not sleep, had arrived at the Danvers-Olsen household right before her niece’s bedtime, a frantic look in her eyes and her collected file of ‘evidence’ in her hand. 

 

The Arkham episode had aired earlier that day, Alex had texted her with a series of how did you not immediately run away and Lena sure does like looking at you, doesn’t she, that had sent Kara even further into whatever spiral she could not get out of. 

 

The spiral that was now alternating between, ‘what kind of look?’ and ‘no she’s not human’ and ‘what’s wrong with me?’

 

It’s been three days since the fateful waking up on the couch. Three days since she’s actually spoken to or seen Lena and Kara has only felt worse with each passing hour, like something is unsettled inside of her, like all of her nerves are pulled tight and stretched too thin ready to snap at any moment. Her head continues to pound and ache and no matter what she does, no matter how much ibuprofen or acetaminophen or coffee she takes or drinks, it will not go away. 

 

In the three days since the couch, she hasn’t caught a glimpse of Lena, hasn’t even run into her at the office, not even in an awkward exchange at the vending machine and it only adds to the weirdness that’s been brewing and compounding in her mind. 

 

She’s thought about Facetiming or calling or texting, repeatedly, especially earlier when her pounding headache and lack of sleep had really been getting to her, had her nearly screaming at the dark, at whatever invisible forces existed to just let her get some sleep. 

 

And the thought of Lena had made it get a little quieter. 

 

So, despite her own theories, despite a fear that was fading fast at what Lena might be, she had opened up her text messages, had typed and erased and re-typed something that was a mix of ‘hi’ and ‘can’t believe we haven’t spoken’ and then thought, no shit she knows that, until eventually, Kara had given up altogether, had let the sleepless haze and insomnia win, and gone to her sisters to try to figure it all out. 

 

Probably in the hopes that her sister would call her an idiot, her sister-in-law would give her some psychological explanation, and she could just finally go to bed. 

 

Alex stares at her as she recounts her theories, points to blurry pictures and waves around the book Nia had ordered that had arrived at the office earlier that day. 

 

“And the only way to prove that is to what? Expose your friend by antagonizing both her and this thing in a bar?” 

 

“A Poltergeist and I’m not trying to expose her, Alex, I just…I want answers, for me, I don’t need the world to know, it’s not me trying to find proof and yes, I know that’s what my show is, but this isn’t that, it’s for me. Besides, it’s not like she’s going to hurt me, I mean she protected me in Arkham, I think, no, I know, she had to, because there was something there and she made it go away and you saw the episode, she won’t hurt me.” Kara rambles and rambles, repeats and repeats the same theories, thoughts, and sentiments, her voice picking up speed the further she spirals and Alex can only stare and listen until she can’t anymore. 

 

She stands and stops Kara’s frantic pacing. 

 

“Kara, you’re my sister and I love you and I don’t entirely believe all the things you do, and a lot of times I make fun of you for it, but this theory, and I say this with the utmost love and respect…it’s nonsense.”

 

Kara’s mouth opens and closes as Alex forces her to sit on the couch and tears into her. 

 

“I can tell you haven’t slept and to be honest I’m pretty sure you’re one internet thread away from believing there’s alligators in the sewers or secret mole people or Bigfoot.”

 

“Bigfoot is real.”

 

“Oh my God,” Alex bows her head and pinches the bridge of her nose, “Hang on.”

 

Alex disappears upstairs for two minutes and emerges with Kelly, still holding the book she was reading with Esme. Alex points to Kara.

 

“Tell her what you told me.”

 

“About what?” Kelly asks, looking between her wife and a clearly sleep deprived Kara. She gives Alex a concerned look mixed with confusion at the sudden need for an interrogation but Alex just huffs. 

 

“The whole deflection, red flag thing you were telling me about.”

 

“I don’t think that’s something she needs to hear right now and also that was a private conversation.”

 

“Well it’s not anymore. She needs to hear it, trust me.”

 

“What deflection thing? I’m not deflecting, Alex, it doesn’t make sense!” 

 

“What doesn’t? Lena?”

 

Something clicks behind Kelly’s eyes as Kara waves her hands around and stands from the couch again, rolling into a different rant with a different sort of panic. 

 

“Us. We don’t make sense. I don’t get it, I feel like…it’s overwhelming and I can’t make it make sense.”

 

“So she’s secretly a demon is your only explanation?” 

 

“Where did she come from?! Who is she? Things don’t add up, Alex, they don’t.”

 

“Okay, sit back down…”

 

“I can’t!” And then Alex descends the stairs and is half-pushing Kara back into the couch, forcing her to sit while Kelly follows. 

 

“Keep your voice down, we have a six year old kid who has just fallen asleep and if she wakes up and does not go back to sleep, that’s up to you to fix.”

 

“Sorry,” Kara says in a breath as Kelly looks through Kara’s ‘file’ and sits next to Alex on the coffee table across from her sister-in-law. 

 

“Okay, I didn’t want to have to say this, I would very much like to reiterate that we were just talking,” She points between Alex and herself, “And will have another conversation about that, but Alex is right and you do need to hear this.” 

 

“She said I’m right.”

 

Kelly hits her with a look and Alex falls silent, “All you, babe.”

 

Kara listens as Kelly shuts the file and the book and sets them aside, “Kara, lets say you’re right, lets say she is what you think she is, what does that mean for you? Does it change things between you two?”

 

Kara stares and stares because she isn’t sure, “I…maybe? No? Yes? I don’t know. I just…I need an answer so I don’t feel like I’m crazy.” 

 

“And why do you feel like you’re crazy?” 

 

“Because it is crazy. All of it. I mean, right? Like I feel crazy and I would like to know that I’m not, and it’s not for likes or hits or anything, I just…she can trust me. I want her to know she can trust me. That I am her friend and I’m not scared of her and she can trust me.” Kara winces as she repeats the concept of trust over and over and it sounds like her words are a broken record that won’t stop spinning the same song. 

 

“So maybe you just talk to her?” Kelly offers and Kara shakes her head. 

 

“I can’t do that. Would you talk to me like this?”

 

“Well I have to talk to you because I’m married to your sister,” Kelly jokes and Kara half-smiles. 

 

And then Kelly gets into it, reads her like a book as she says, “What if this isn’t about a theory? What if the reason you feel like you’re crazy is because you have very real feelings that are intense and new that you haven’t had with anyone else before and you’re terrified of messing it up? I know you said you loved Mike and I know you have had previous relationships, but I need you to think about why those didn’t work out.”

 

“They just didn’t? I don’t know, the feelings weren’t there or we didn’t vibe.”

 

“Do you know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is?” 

 

“You ruin something before it can be ruined?” Kara asks and Kelly nods, “But I didn’t ruin my previous relationships. Not intentionally. Mike and I thought we were in love and then realized we weren’t and the other times, the not serious ones, it just didn’t work out.”

 

“Sure, that’s partially true. You and Mike weren’t actually in love but you knew that and tried to force it because you wanted him to break up with you.” 

 

“No, I didn’t. I did love him.”

 

“You loved the idea of not being alone, Kara. The two of you had a good foundation and a great start, you liked the same things, you had a little spark, would probably have been better friends if we’re being honest. The two of you wanted different things with different versions of each other. You wanted to be in love but you were scared of the future, he didn’t want any of it, so you thought this is safe because I can feel safe enough and not expect anything more. Until that was the breaking point. You didn’t want the actual commitment and he actually did and then you said the words because you knew it would send him running when he realized he didn’t feel the same way.”

 

“How could I have possibly planned that? That is some sinister, next level…”

 

“I’m not saying you did, I’m not saying consciously you thought, I want to ruin this. I'm saying there was a part of you that knew it wasn’t going to work between you two so you committed and now, that same part of you is trying to ruin whatever might be happening between you and Lena because you’re afraid this time it will work between you two, and you might get something you’ve said you wanted but been too afraid to go after.”

 

“You said she has a family she doesn’t talk to, they weren’t good people, and you felt she was lonely and alone just like you had been once. Maybe there’s a reason for that, maybe she keeps things close because she’s been burned and because her family really is that bad. So whatever this is you’re doing, this isn’t healthy and it’s not real, talking to her, that’s real, building on your foundation that’s real, you don’t need to be afraid of it or her,” Alex adds and Kara sinks into the couch as both her sister and Kelly’s words hit her. 

 

“I’m not afraid of Lena!”

 

“You’re afraid of what might be between you and Lena. And you’re afraid of how much you feel, so fast. So pretending there’s some big demon conspiracy, I think that’s something you know is going to send her running. Because what do you think happens when you confront her with this? If you’re right, she runs, if you’re wrong, she thinks you’re insane and she also runs. Is that what you want?” 

 

Kara swallows because no, she doesn’t want to lose Lena, she just wants answers about Lena, she just wants to know who Lena is, she just wants Lena in her life and she wants her and to know her and all of those things. 

 

She just wants the truth.

 

Her heart aches without Lena, and her head hurts and it all just feels awful. She lowers her glasses and rubs her eyes and replaces them. 

 

“I should probably go home and get some sleep,” she says as she stands. 

 

“You can stay here if you want.” 

 

“No, you have…domestic stuff to do, I'll be fine. Thank you for whatever this fun and mostly wrong conversation was.” 

 

But she’s not sure she will be fine, she’s not sure she can be, she’s not sure that Kelly is wrong, because her sister-in-law isn’t and she’s not sure how to handle being read so clearly when all she wants to do is just ask Lena and talk to Lena, but she’s terrified of what it means, what it all means. 

 

She barely sleeps again that night. Maybe three hours at best. She feels like a coil wrapped around and around too tight and only tightening still, like at any moment it could snap. 

 

When she gets to work on Thursday, she’s about to break, about to just outright ask Lena…

 

Only Lena isn’t there. Lena never comes in. 



---

 

Lena feels like absolute shit. 

 

She’s not sure why. She doesn’t get sick. She shouldn’t feel this run down. She hasn’t ever before except for right before Arkham and then she felt fine after. 

 

But Thursday morning she feels heavy and weighted in a way that has her moving slow and sluggish, has her eyes tired, has her whole body needing something that it can’t give her and she has no idea what.

 

She doesn’t go to work, she can barely get herself out of the door to try. 

 

She sends an e-mail to Brainy and she falls into bed and she shuts her eyes and the world goes dark but it’s not really sleeping. It’s not really resting. It’s not really anything.

 

It’s just lying there as hours pass as the day and time slips around her while she tries to ignore the world. 

 

She doesn’t feel any better when she opens her eyes. She feels worse. She feels dizzy and empty in a way that doesn’t make sense.  

 

Like she’s searching for something that doesn’t exist. That is just out of reach. 

 

She tries to pull on the darkness, tries to find it in this penthouse owned by a loyal and future owned soul - but it does nothing. There is nothing. 

 

It’s like she’s been abandoned by whatever power she got from Arkham, by whatever strength she used to have. By the person, the demon, she used to be. Her connection to below cut off and severed. 

 

And she wonders if it’s her own doing, if by burying it away, if by denying what she is, she’s blocked it off, she’s done something to curse herself. 

 

She lies in the cold penthouse in silence and darkness and feels worse than she did in the morning. 

 

She hears the telltale sound of a text message on her phone, she glances to see Kara’s name pop up on the screen and she swallows. It’s the first contact since that morning, since both of them put distance, since she put the distance between them, she thinks. 

 

She reaches for the phone, she feels some of that heaviness fade just a little, but not nearly enough. She could call her, she could go to her apartment, she could end it all and just tell Kara what she is, what Sam told her, and they could try to figure it out. 

 

She has the distinct image of Kara’s terrified face in Arkham, of her running scared from Swift Street, and Lena can’t do it. She can’t see that look in Kara’s eyes looking at her like that. 

 

She stares at the message at the simple, ‘I know we haven’t exactly seen each other much this week but…are you okay?’

 

And all she wants to do is answer, to tell the truth and say no, maybe lie and say yes just to hear Kara’s voice, but…

 

She feels a presence in the apartment.

 

She feels something dangerous and dark and it wakes her up enough to compose herself, and she has to, because she recognizes it.

 

She knows that hushed presence that feels like being pulled under a sinking ship and locked in a meat locker at the same time. She knows, all too well, the shadow that has a feeling of hooks and needles just itching to dig into the skin. 

 

It has her standing up straighter as it ripples through the air with its threatening darkness.  

 

She stashes the phone, dresses as best she can to make herself presentable, regal and controlled enough to be named the heir she’s supposed to be and not some demon falling apart at the seams like a lesser entity. 

 

She exits the bedroom with a deep breath. 

 

And she faces the source of the presence, the unwanted invader to her life and new home. 

 

Her brother. 

 

“Hello, little sister.” 

 

Lex Luthor smiles at her from where he sits on the couch, nursing a scotch in a suit that feels much too nice for a human and even more so for a demon who spends most of their time in the torture chambers ripping and tearing and shredding human souls to an unrecognizable mess, only to put them back together and ruin them all over again. 

 

He may not be able to call himself the heir, but the way he carries himself, the way he sits on the couch, in a suit that screams of power and control, would dispute that fact. 

 

He raises the glass, “You look terrible.”

 

Lena stands straighter and hits him with her best and carefully practiced smirk. Despite the very real fact that she knows she must look as bad as she feels, she doesn’t let it show. 

 

Instead, she pulls on the mask of the composed and cold heir, shielded against her own brother’s calculated look as he dissects every detail about her. She tries not to let her worry at his arrival show, hopes that he won’t see what’s going on with her, that he won’t know as she fixes him with a similar look, a similar dissection, as she tries to tear at him right back.

 

It’s an old game between them, long started as they both jockeyed for power but continuing well after. Their mother would be proud to see them still playing. She would be sitting back and enjoying the show if she could be.

 

“And you look like you shouldn’t be here,” she snarks, grabbing her own drink in an effort to appear that much more nonchalant at his sudden and very well timed appearance. 

 

Lex has always been about timing. 

 

She should have known he would arrive as soon as she destroyed one of his projects - even if he rarely left Hell anymore. Even if he was relegated to a deeper pit than her, and warned against leaving by their mother. She should have realized warnings wouldn’t have stopped Lex Luthor. 

 

“Neither should you, but don’t worry, I’m not here to ruin your Earthside party, by all means sow those wild oats.” He takes another sip of his drink and smacks his lips, “Just don’t forget where you come from, Lena. You spend too long in their sun, the darkness will miss you.” He nudges the chair beside the couch with his foot, inviting her to sit with him. 

 

“What are you doing here if you aren’t planning on bringing me home?” She asks, crossing her arms and refusing his invitation, fingers tapping on the glass of her own drink. 

 

He sighs, putting his glass back onto the coffee table, “You’re right, we can do better than here.” 

 

“Lex.”

 

“Lena.” 

 

There’s a long pause where they both sit in silence, staring and waiting for the other to break first, to lose this power play.

 

Lex holds his hands up and laughs, but Lena knows it’s a gambit, an attempt to put her at ease so he can get what he really wants.  

 

“I just came to check on you, I’m worried, and judging by the way you look, I’m right to be.”

 

“Why don’t I believe that? Why don’t I think that mother might have something to do with this?”

 

“Mother doesn’t know I’m here. In fact, I’m sure she’s too preoccupied with her own duties to even care that I’ve gone Earthside and her precious heir and princess is nowhere to be found.” He stands then and approaches her, looking into her eyes, “I’m serious, you don’t look good.” 

 

“I’m not coming home yet. I’m not done up here.” 

 

“I’m not asking you to. I’m simply saying that it feels like you’ve been trying to live like a human, subdued and normal and boring, at least judging from how it feels in this place,” He glances around the apartment and shakes his head, “And that’s not working, you need to party like the demon you are. You’ll feel better, trust me.” 

 

He nudges her shoulder, raising an eyebrow, “Come on, hang out with your brother. I missed you. And you missed the eighties up here with me and when I tell you it was a party, it was a party. We can recreate it, I mean everything old is new again up here, isn’t it? Retro or whatever they call it.” 

 

And she knows she shouldn’t, knows he’s manipulating to get his way and to gain something else, but she has been spending too long with humans and maybe he’s right about that, maybe it will help however she’s feeling, maybe it’ll fix whatever is wrong with her. 

 

And she’s so heavy and tired her mind works slower than it should.

 

She spends too long thinking about it and that sinister smile on his face returns as he fixes a cufflink, “Or perhaps mother would like an accurate update on your activities.” 

 

“My activities?” Lena is careful in the way she asks, careful not to give anything away even at the mention of their mother, at the confirmation that Lex will report back to her regardless.

 

Because Lex might think he’s the smartest in the room, might know some of what she’s been doing, but he’s also not outright saying any specifics, which means there’s a chance he doesn’t know all the details and he’s just trying to pull a confession by seeking a reaction to confirm any theories he may have. 

 

It’s another game of his that she’s seasoned at playing.

 

He looks frustrated when she gives him nothing, when he asks, his voice trying to be light and slightly annoyed, his eyes betraying his own careful mask, “Did you think I wouldn’t notice you destroying my careful work in Arkham Asylum? Thankfully I had already gotten what I needed so no harm no foul, but still, what were you doing there?” 

 

He’s lying, she knows he’s lying, knows he’s fishing for details as to what it is she did and why. 

 

But she lies better than him, she always has.

 

“Exploring.”

 

“Exploring,” he repeats in a voice that lowers and masks his disdain. 

 

“Why did you put that symbol there?” She asks and he just laughs as she adds, “What were you doing there?”

 

“Hell forbid I try to get a little creative when it comes to torturing.” He holds his hands up in mock offense as he looks at the floor and then smirks at Lena, and she knows he’s still lying, deflecting, preventing her from getting any closer with a sidestep and sarcasm. 

 

“Creative?” 

 

He winks, “Now now, you think I would just tell you about a project? Not until it’s finished.” He looks around the apartment, “Despite my previous dislike, I do admit this place isn’t half-bad. Very appropriate for our stature.” 

 

Lena shrugs, “You know me.” 

 

“Do I?” He asks, his voice dropping the humor of before. Lena smiles despite the cold chill in the air, despite his threat and lack of truths, despite both of their secrets. “Well if we don’t want to go out, perhaps we can have fun here, call in some lovely desperate humans willing to make deals and commit absolute base instinct depravity. Tell me, is there anyone you have in mind we could call up and get to sink into sin?” 

 

And Lena knows he won’t leave, not until she does what he’s asking, not until she convinces him she’s perfectly fine and he’s satisfied. 

 

She knows his own tastes will fester in this place she once considered a sanctuary. He will root himself in its walls like an infection and he will not leave unless he gets what he wants from her and she knows his night out has ulterior motives, that there’s something else he’s not saying, something he’s hiding, secret project and more, and no matter what she does, she will not get anything out of him. 

 

But she needs to get him to leave.

 

She doesn’t want to be dragged back to Hell, back to her mother, or have him learn about anyone she’s been associating with, in particular Kara. He can’t know about Kara. 

 

But he will the longer he stays, the more he interrogates. She is not at her full power, she is not feeling like herself and he is already suspicious. She will slip up or he will see the show, he will figure it out, it’s only a matter of time. 

 

“Making any friends up here?” He asks, digging the knife in deeper, threatening without fully threatening, without outright saying, and there’s no way of knowing if he truly knows or not, but Lena must act accordingly. 

 

“No friends, just potential business dealings.”

 

“Always working to build up Hell.” 

 

“It feels that way.” She swallows down the rest of her drink and sighs, “Maybe you’re right, maybe I should take a break. We should go have some fun somewhere.” 

 

He perks up then, his eyes lighting up, his smile widening into something that is a cross between victorious and sinister. 

 

“Did you have anywhere in mind?”

 

Lex smiles wider, “I always do.” 

 

---

 

The club is loud and thrumming with a heat that feels stifling.

 

People are packed onto a dance floor, by the bar, bodies writhing and dancing and sweating in a cacophony of sweat and alcohol, giving an energy that clings to the walls amidst flashing lights and loud bass.

 

There’s something else beneath the heat, beneath the scent of lustful desire and frivolous fun, a deeper darkness that permeates like a fog working its way around the floor and coming to rest in the bricks holding the converted warehouse together. 

 

Lena feels the music tearing into her head, behind her eyes. She takes a large sip of her drink and tries to ignore that the pain isn’t going away. It’s getting worse. 

 

It feels like a stabbing that adds pressure and makes the lights inside the club flash hazy, blurring the people dancing to the beat of the music, faces fade and blend, the heat makes her sweat, her hands grip the bar as she tries to bury the pain away, tries to push down a sudden dizziness and nausea as she downs the rest of the burning alcohol that does nothing to her but temper the symptoms of whatever larger illness or destruction she’s experiencing. 

 

Maybe she’s dying, maybe this is just something that happens to random demons, they can’t all live forever, right? 

 

Or maybe it’s something else, maybe she really does just need to give in to the darkness she’s meant to be, maybe she needs to take some stranger into the bathroom, use them in a way that makes them both feel very good, buy the soul if they’re selling, and move on. 

 

But the thought of that only makes her feel even worse. 

 

Lex is laughing with a stranger at the bar, buying drinks with influence, and shaking hands with people who, Lena can tell, are not good people. 

 

It’s clear this club is some kind of front and the man running it, who Lex is deep in conversation with, a hand gripping the human’s shoulder in a show of power disguised as friendly, has something that drew Lex here, something running through this club, washing the money in cash only transactions and overpriced drinks.  

 

Lex shakes the man’s hand and returns to his sister, still sitting at the bar. And Lena tries to focus on him, tries not to focus on the pounding in her head as she orders another drink to give herself something to hold onto that can help her stay steady. 

 

“Morgan Edge should be a happy man in about 24 hours.”

 

“You made a deal with him?”

 

“A demon’s work is never done,” Lex laughs, “Come on, I had to. His main business rival, Oliver Queen’s club is about to fall apart overnight and Edge will have the hottest clubs in both Metropolis and Star City with an expansion in Central City. Mother will be more than happy to get that in her pocket.”

 

Lena shrugs, “And you’ll be all too happy in ten years to put him through your favorite torture.”

 

“Win-win!” 

 

“This place feels off,” Lena states and Lex orders another round for the both of them even as Lena still nurses her current drink.

 

“That would be the nefarious money running underground in the club within a club. Edge has a lot of connections to the criminal underworld here. Drugs, trafficking, you name it, he’s got it, and the more cities he has clubs in, the larger his business venture grows,” Lex sneers, “Maybe ten years was too generous.”

 

“Is that why we came here? So you can make deals and we can do what? Feed off the worst of humanity,” Lena argues but Lex turns in his chair and surveys the dance floor, the lights flashing, the music still humming. 

 

“I would hope the worst of humanity would make you feel more like yourself.” He picks at the peanuts on the bar, “But no, I truly just wanted to spend time together, have fun. Remember the two of us in the forties, the bars we frequented in the war, the deals we made, Mother had never gotten so many contracts for people willing to sell their souls just to go home. You were so good at appealing to their inner desires. Honestly, it was impressive.”

 

Lena swallows down the memories, feels the weight of something sinister and unseemly behind those choices and actions, but that was what she was supposed to do, wasn’t it? She was supposed to make deals. She was supposed to trade in souls, trade desperation for power and personal gains. 

 

So why did she feel guilty now? She hadn’t felt it then, had only accepted it as what she was meant to do, her job and her destiny as heir and demon, but now? She felt sick. She felt worse than sick. She felt ashamed. 

 

What would Kara think if she found out? If Lena told her all the desperate people she conned into selling their souls, who she sent to Hell and who remained there still?

 

“We could do that again. Make the deals, break the quotas, build an army of lost souls that the self-righteous in Heaven could never hope to save, that even Mother would be terrified of. We could rule over all of them.” Lex swallows down his drink and orders two more and the lights cast a darker shadow over him, over his eyes as they burn with something that has Lena gripping her glass a little tighter, remembering how his eyes burned when he told her stories of death and destruction. 

 

He seems to notice her reaction and she isn’t quick enough to stop him from seeing, because then he’s smiling, he’s laughing, and he’s moving on. 

 

“Let’s play a game,” he tries and he scans the dance floor, across the entire night club before he finds whatever or whoever he’s looking for. He points to a man standing in the corner, in a button up shirt and tie, the lights flashing off his glasses as he winces at the noise. He’s good looking in a traditional sense, tall and muscular in the All-American jock type that’s betrayed by the way he carries himself - like he’s hiding in the corner, trying not to be noticed. 

 

“He doesn’t belong here,” Lex states as Lena nods in agreement.

 

“Someone probably dragged him along, I know the feeling.”

 

“Hilarious. Why don’t you go find out?”

 

“What?” Lena asks, turning from the sight of the scared wallflower in the corner to her brother.

 

“That’s the game.”

 

“Talk to the boy scout in the club? That’s the game?” Lena narrows her eyes because it’s never that simple, not with Lex, not ever.

 

“Yep, that’s the game. Find out who he is and why he’s here.” Lex shrugs, “You were expecting worse? You want to corrupt his spirit? By all means go ahead.” 

 

And it feels like a test more than it is a game. It feels like that’s exactly what he wants her to do, corrupt the man in the club who should not be here, make a deal when she shouldn’t, when she doesn’t want to, or a shadow of suspicion will always stay behind.

 

He might stay longer or her mother might need to pay a visit if Lex is not happy with what he’s seen. 

 

She finishes off her drink and stands from the bar as he claps like the crowd at a golf tournament and she makes her way across the club towards the man in the glasses.

 

She makes a beeline across the dance floor, using the power she has left to force the dancing and grinding bodies around her to move out of her way as she stares at the boy scout hiding in the corner.

 

He is looking anywhere and everywhere but at her, and she notices him writing something in a notebook, trying to remain unseen, until…

 

He sees her and he stands a little bit taller, a fear in his eyes that has Lena pausing in her walk, pausing in the spread of the darker power she has and she realizes he isn’t afraid of what she is, he isn’t even tempted by whatever power she’s pulling, not even by her looks.

 

And there’s something familiar in his eyes, in their color and shape that has her, of all times, thinking about Kara. 

 

He drops his eyes as he tucks the notebook in his pocket and she knows he's scared, but not of her directly, he’s scared she saw him writing, which only confuses her more.

 

And there’s something else she feels from him that reminds her of Kara, a similarity she can’t explain, a warmth that immediately disappears as he hugs the wall and practically runs towards the exit, pushing his way through a couple making out against the door, yelling, “You know this is a fire hazard, right?!”

 

They ignore him up until he pushes them out of the way and then he’s out the door. 

 

She follows him and doesn’t see Lex smiling at the bar, doesn’t see the woman approach her brother and him slide a drink to her. 

 

“What are we doing here?” She asks, “I hate this place.” 

 

“Testing a theory, Miss Tessmacher. Did you locate a replacement for Arkham?” 

 

“Acrata’s Bridge is the only place powerful enough that would still make the necessary configuration. But…”

 

“Do what needs to be done,” Lex states as he stands, “I have to check on my sister.” 

 

He disappears into the crowd, leaving the dark witch behind.

 

“Thank you so much, Eve, you’re the best, I’m so grateful you’re a loyal servant, here’s some extra power.” Eve downs her drink and huffs at the bar, alone.

 

---

 

Lena follows the man with the dark hair and familiar eyes into the alley, calling after him as he speeds up, trying to get away. 

 

“Hey! Excuse me!” 

 

“I didn’t see anything,” he calls back as he keeps walking, his long stride putting too much distance between them. She won’t be able to outrun him. Not like this. She has no choice. She has to stop him. 

 

She blinks and she appears in front of him, stopping him in his tracks. 

 

He freezes, his entire frame about two feet taller than her, but suddenly he’s shrinking at her stare, freezing as she stands in front of him, the shadow behind her large and dark and unyielding. 

 

“How did you…”

 

“Who are you?” Lena asks as she stares at him and he shrinks further even as her shadow fades and there’s something oh so familiar in the action, in the earnestness of his eyes and she’s confused by it even as she scares him.

 

“Who are you?” He turns it around, raising an eyebrow in a challenge, and Lena takes a step back as he crosses his arms. 

 

“What were you writing?” 

 

“If you’re working for Edge, you can’t scare me. The Daily Planet is going to get its story and the people are going to know what he’s doing, the trafficking, the drugs, all of it. The truth will come out and no city will allow his clubs.” 

 

“So you’re a reporter?” Lena huffs a laugh, “Trying to save the world with truth and justice in the form of words?”

 

“Words can be powerful,” he argues, his voice strong and believing and hopeful despite the darkness around them, despite Lena’s own attempts to keep him afraid with her own darkness. And she’s not sure if it’s her own loss of power or her lack of will to really use it, but it’s not working on this guy, this reporter, who has an inherent something that Kara also seems to have. 

 

Something that Lena doesn’t understand, because it feels similar to Kara but different, and she can’t figure out what it is or how or why he has it too, but he does. 

 

Maybe it’s just certain humans who carry it, she doesn’t know, she’s not drawn to him in the same way she is to Kara, not craving being in the same orbit as his warmth, but she can feel it there, beneath the surface, in his heart, his soul, a light that burns stronger than others - a light that she can feel blazing in Kara, that she can’t bear to be without, that she craves, but that feels muted from him, that she isn’t even remotely tempted by. 

 

“Who are you?” Lena asks again. 

 

“You don’t work for Edge.” 

 

“No, I don’t.”

 

“Then why do you care who I am?” 

 

Lena shouldn’t care, but Lex had challenged her to find out who he was, and while at first she had been humoring the challenge, trying to avoid anything more devious from her brother, now she was curious as to who this person was, why he didn’t seem to be affected by her at all, why his eyes looked familiar. 

 

And she can try to influence, she can try to make him afraid, but something in the back of her mind says that it won’t work, something that sounds like Kara tells her to just be nice, be normal, friendly. 

 

So she tries that, “Lena Luthor.”

 

“As in Lex Luthor?” 

 

“You know my brother?” 

 

And there is something that resembles fear behind the man’s eyes, something that has him standing up straighter as his eyes widen and betray him. 

 

He takes a startled breath, “That’s not possible.”

 

“What isn’t?”

 

Lena steps closer but he takes a step back and there’s a noticeable chill in the air as Lena turns to see her brother standing at the end of the alley, a crack of thunder breaking across the sky. 

 

He always did love a dramatic entrance.

 

“Clark Kent, you’ve certainly grown, haven’t you?” He asks as he saunters down the alley, a wide grin on his face. 

 

The man with the dark hair, Clark, swallows hard and Lena watches as he clenches his hands so hard his knuckles turn white. She faces her brother, takes a subtle step to remain beside Clark as Lex’s shadow towers over the walls of the alley.

 

“Been a while, kiddo.”

 

“You’re not real…you can’t…you’re not real.”

 

“Aw…no love for your imaginary friend.”

 

Lex’s smile grows as his shadow spreads, its tendrils reaching and pulling towards the terrified human, ready to consume.  The thunder rumbles deep across the alley and there’s a flash in Clark’s eyes, a fear that comes from childhood, a fear long buried that has all the confidence falling away as Lex gets closer and closer. 

 

And Lena understands the game faster than Lex can monologue about it. 

 

She understands this man, this somehow, still good, man, was once trapped under a Lex Luthor game of terror. A game where he pretended to not be real, where he exuded a darker influence in the hopes of whatever he might gain, power, possession, a possible political masterpiece that he alone could control. 

 

But it hadn’t worked, whatever he had been trying for, Clark had been a better man than Lex could have prepared for, and her brother had failed. 

 

Because Clark Kent wasn’t an influenced by darkness politician, he was a good reporter trying to put good into the world, trying to deliver truth and justice against lies and darkness, which meant Lex had lost his game. 

 

And Lex hated losing his games. 

 

So this was a revenge night for Lex and a test for Lena. 

 

And she no longer cared if she failed. 

 

She stands in front of Clark and she forces back Lex’s shadow, forces down his power as a brighter streak of lightning forks across the sky and the wind picks up. 

 

Her brother, for all his haughty pride and his claim of relentless power, falters against her. 

 

And it surprises both of them when he does. Because by all rights, Lena shouldn’t stand a chance against him. She’s weaker, she’s been up here longer, she’s been breaking down and apart for reasons she can’t figure out and he’s fresh from Hell and all of it’s better darkness. Charged up and ready to take whatever he wants.

 

And yet…

 

She holds him off. She holds her own and challenges him with a force that neither one of them understands.

 

She almost misses the small glance of fear, the small twitch that means he’s been taken aback, that he had miscalculated. 

 

“Go, get out of here,” Lena tells Clark, who glances between her and Lex, and does as she says with a soft and grateful nod.

 

And then Lex is wailing and raging and Lena is holding him back like a petulant child until she no longer can, until Clark Kent is gone and she no longer has a reason to fight as hard, to protect this good stranger who doesn’t deserve her brother’s brand of suffering. 

 

The brick walls crack with the force of the both of them as the sky opens up and rain pours in a torrential downpour. 

 

Lex screams, but there’s something else behind his eyes, something that reeks of knowledge that Lena can’t grasp. 

 

“I think it’s time for you to go home too,” she snaps at her brother, feeling the weight of the rain, of her flex of power and the heaviness of exhaustion starting to weigh on her. 

 

“What happened to you up here? What broke you?” He points and then he straightens as he flexes a hand and tastes the air, a sizzle of power that he can feel. 

 

And he smiles. 

 

“Oh it’s not a what, it’s a who, isn’t it? Some human that goes beyond a toy, someone you…care about,” he accuses and Lena keeps her face stoic as the cold rain pours over them.

 

He waits and he seethes and he smiles and he just looks at the sky and laughs and Lena feels a chill worse than the rain.

 

“The family tree has some tangled roots and a tangled web those bloodlines weave,” Lex mutters as Lena stares at him and he laughs again, claps his hands as if he’s just received the best news of his existence, “You were always the one who was going to fall into the light, weren’t you? I should have seen it.”

 

“What were you doing in Arkham?” Lena asks, accusing, ignoring the rantings and ravings of her brother, trying to shut him up with the question, but Lex just shrugs his shoulders and continues to smile. 

 

“You’ll see…keep a close eye on your heart, little sister, I fear it may be torn out soon enough.”

 

“If you touch her,” Lena shuts her eyes then, the threat coursing through her veins, pushing Lex back enough with a force brought about by this fresh anger, the rain cascading and spreading with it. There’s the sound of a crack and when he turns back to her, his nose is bleeding, but he only smiles wider.

 

“Oh sweet, sweet, Lena…” There’s a crack of returning power from him that has her reeling, that forces her to her knees in the wet puddles of the alley. He stares her down, cold and unyielding as her bones crack and ache and she feels the pain course through her body. 

 

She feels blood drip from her nose, feels it choke its way from her lungs into her throat, feels like she might drown in it. 

 

And then he’s standing in front of her, forcing her to meet his eyes as he kneels down to be eye-level. 

 

His voice never rises, it stays steady and calm and sure as he says, “I’m not going to touch her, I’m going to kill her. And when I decide to, there’s not a damn thing you’ll be able to do about it. Because you’re going to be the one who brings Kara Danvers to me.” 

 

And he may have forced her to look at him at first, but now, she stares back of her own volition, she stares into his darkness with her own in a defiant look that screams she would never as a flash of lightning courses across the sky in an unnatural and harsh blue. 

 

He looks at it and only continues to smile. And it makes her doubt. It makes her afraid. 

 

She lets him win.

 

And the whole game, the whole pretending, the trying not to give anything away no longer matters, because he knows everything, he has known everything, and this was just the tipping point into proof. 

 

“Have fun in the meantime. Ghost hunting suits you.” Lex winks and the rain stops, the crack of thunder booms loud and he’s gone with a pop of pressure releasing from the alley like the lifting of a storm front.

 

Lena collapses and takes a deep, shuddering breath, her hands splashing into the puddle as blood drips from her nose and swirls in the water.  Her hair clings to her face and hangs in front of her eyes as water and blood runs down her face. And she knows she has to get up, knows she can’t stay down in this alley.

 

She needs to find Kara, she needs to make sure she’s okay. She needs to keep her safe and figure out what she needs to do to stop her brother.

 

She struggles to get to her feet, feels a weight across her body, feels the pain as she stands and falls into the wall, spitting blood as she does. 

 

She used too much of whatever power she had left and she let Lex get the best of her too easily, she isn’t strong enough for what he can do and she knows she’s going to feel this, all of it. 

 

She feels tired. She feels wounded and like she’s breaking apart and even if she finds a source of darkness it won’t fix the larger problem. She couldn’t even get there on her own anyway. 

 

She takes one step and she falls again, face first into another wet puddle. 

 

She thinks of Kara, she thinks of the sunshine and the warmth and she needs to get to her, she needs to protect her, she needs to tell her the truth of who she is and what’s coming. 

 

She doesn’t even know what’s coming but it’s something bad, it’s something very bad and however Kara reacts it doesn’t matter anymore, because at least she’ll know, at least they can figure out what to do about it together, at least she can be safe. 

 

Lena pushes herself to her knees and takes a breath.

 

She thinks of a warm smile and kind eyes. 

 

She gets to her feet.

 

She thinks of a strong hug and a head tucked under her chin. 

 

She walks to the end of the alley.

 

She smells vanilla and feels the light of the sun. 

 

A fork of lightning crosses the sky as she wipes the last of the blood from her mouth. She pulls the card she promised to only use in an emergency and she’s pretty sure this qualifies. 

 

It’s her only way home, it’s her only way to get answers and get better and save her friend, save her…Kara.

 

She recites the words written on the sleek card, follows the instructions and slaps it against the wall and holds herself steady as the door appears. 

 

It takes the last of her strength and thoughts of Kara to get her through it. 

 

---

 

Kara isn’t sure why she texts Lena as much as she does, even calling her at least three times, but there’s something in her gut that is begging for some sign that she’s okay. Something that feels like she very much isn’t. 

 

But there’s something else that has Kara wondering, that has Kara thinking about the past week, about the things she’s been trying to figure out and prove, and whether or not Lena may have heard about it and disappeared before they could even talk. 

 

And that’s really all Kara wants, to talk to her friend, to do what Nia had suggested at first, what her sister had yelled at her to do the day before…just talked to Lena.

 

But how do you just ask your friend if they are actually some potentially scary supernatural being that the mere concept of had always been too terrifying to entertain? 

 

She couldn’t watch The Exorcist when she was younger, still couldn’t now as an adult, because the thought of an evil demon, of possession, was too much. 

 

And is that what Lena is? Is she possessing some poor woman’s body? Is that just her? How does it even work? 

 

But then what if Kara has been wrong all along? What if Lena is just secretive because she’s been hurt by things far worse than imaginary monsters in the dark? What if Kara jumped to the weirdest conclusion because she couldn’t be bothered to talk to someone to let them talk to her in their own time? 

 

What if that darker past made its reappearance and Kara was too in her head, too worried about her own supernatural theories that the reality was missed? What if Lena was hurt?

 

What if both were true and the supernatural was real and the reality was just as bad? 

 

Or maybe Lena really is just sick and this is all another wild overreaction brought on by a severe lack of sleep and Kara is just going crazy because of all of it. Because of Arkham, because of her inability to fall asleep, because she has feelings for Lena and they are strong and weird and intense and she doesn’t know what to do about them. 

 

She stares at her couch, stunned in her whirlwind of thoughts as the final confession hits her hard.

 

She has feelings for Lena.

 

There’s no ignoring it, there’s no pretending they don’t exist even if she was pretending poorly to begin with, there’s no burying it in a story about a demon or a shadowy past and secrets she’s not privy to, there’s just the truth. 

 

She has feelings for Lena and everyone around her, random internet comments and all, that joked about it, that she argued against, were right all along. 

 

Her phone is in her hand and she hits redial and she gets the voicemail message again and even as she rambles, her voice is too quiet, too worried, and it betrays her, “Lena, it’s me, Kara, again, you know if I knew where you lived I could just bring you soup, but…this is stupid, not you, me, I’m being stupid, I’m sorry, please call me back I just…I’m worried about you.”

 

She falls onto the couch and she looks at her scattered theories and conspiracies spread out over the coffee table along with the open book Nia had ordered, the page bookmarked with a post-it and some notes written in the margins. 

 

But she’s hit with the truth all over again. She has feelings for Lena. And yes, wanting to kiss Lena while she was lying on the couch with her should have been the actual tipping point but somehow, in her own denial, it wasn’t. 

 

The idea of losing Lena was. 

 

And she doesn’t know what to do about it. What to do if she confronts Lena with the truth and Lena runs, what to do if she tells Lena how she feels and Lena doesn’t feel the same way, what to do if both things happen, she just doesn’t know anymore.

 

She just wishes she could sleep. 

 

She picks up the book and stares at the symbols on the page as she starts to read all about the Cadmus Ritual because it’s all she can do while she waits for the phone to ring and her mind and body won’t silence itself enough for her to sleep. 

 

Lena never calls her back.

 

---

 

Lena isn’t sure at what point she passed out. All she remembers is a dizzying feeling of falling through a veil in reality and then landing hard onto a wooden floor surrounded by books and the smell of dust and age. 

 

She collapsed onto that floor, the last of her strength taken from her, making the world go dark as footsteps approached and a heavy sigh met her ears.

 

When she wakes, she still smells the dust, but she feels the itchiness of an old blanket around her shoulders and the stiffness of an overstuffed pillow beneath her face. 

 

She’s been moved to a couch and, besides the disorientation at her new surroundings, all she feels is a deep aching pain in her bones, a soreness to her muscles that won’t go away, that makes her head spin and pound. 

 

She opens her eyes and winces at the brightness of the room as her eyes adjust to daylight spilling in through windows that are clouded and tinted to make it all hazy, like they were only meant to look out and prevent anyone from being able to look in. 

 

She sees the books in tall cases that range in age from newer and thinner volumes to large dusty novels that look like they could fall apart at any moment. The cases look normal but she can feel what they hold, what the room actually is. Because while it looks like a study, she can feel its power, its otherness, and she knows it holds so much more than books and a desk covered with papers and stairs that go somewhere she isn’t allowed to see. 

 

The door opens and Lena winces as she sits up and a brighter light floods through the entrance. 

 

She imagined the Keeper to be an old man with a long beard and robes spouting some ancient knowledge, what she gets is a clean shaven man with short hair who appears to be in his forties, maybe early fifties, wearing a black polo shirt and matching pants carrying a pizza. 

 

“Lena Luthor, you’re awake,” he states with a smile. 

 

“You got pizza?” 

 

“Well you were sleeping and I was hungry. Are you in pain?” The Keeper asks as she feels her muscles strain once again as if they’re answering for her. Her body knows it’s been in a fight, and she feels every ounce of aftermath from it, she just didn’t expect it to take so much out of her, didn’t expect Lex to be able to make her feel all of that at once. 

 

She nods. 

 

“It’ll pass, sooner than you think.” He holds out the box, opening it up to her and she’s hit with the warm scent of melted cheese and tomato sauce, but it only leaves her nauseated. It only makes her think of Kara. 

 

“Are you sure? It’s fresh. I went to New York for it.” He shrugs and drops the box on one of the ancient books on an equally large and old table. She winces, waiting for this old magical thing to break against a pizza box, but it never happens. 

 

“Are you The Keeper?” Lena asks because looking at this man, who is supposed to hold all the knowledge of universes past, present, and future, who is the weaver of destiny, of fate, who can help her find the answers she needs, who grabs a cracked coffee cup left on one of the bookcases and pours a fresh cup from an old pot and drinks from it even as it leaks, even as he winces at the taste - well, he isn’t anything she imagined he would be. 

 

“I would prefer if you called me J’onn, but…” And he looks at her then, really looks, and she can see the years behind his false human passing eyes, can see his importance, can feel his presence all at once. 

 

It scares her. It reminds her she’s just a small part of a larger world. That he could tell her every detail of her life in that larger world and make her see how miniscule her existence actually is if he truly wanted to.

 

“Are you sure it’s still a no on the pizza?” He points to the box and she shakes her head once more. He cracks his neck, takes another sip of his old coffee and lets out a heavy, almost annoyed, sigh, “Fine. Then let’s just get down to business, why don’t we? You have my card, you used my card, you are in my home, what would you like me to do for you?”  

 

“And here I thought you were going to tell me sleeping on your couch was my one favor,” Lena states, and despite this ancient, older than her, older than her mother, nearly as old as time, being standing in front of her, she makes a joke and he laughs. 

 

“Hell never deserved your humor.” He walks around the room and Lena winces at the casual insinuation of him knowing all about her and her life and all the things, the moments, that led her here. 

 

“But you didn’t come here to make jokes, and I didn’t get this job by listening to them.”

 

“You got this job? You’re not…”

 

“Oh I’m much older than I look, but, much like you…it’s an inherited birthright. Although, unlike you, I couldn’t exactly choose my path.”

 

“I don’t have much of a choice either.”

 

He smiles, “Everyone has a choice. Mostly everyone.” He digs through a cabinet and then turns, searching through a stack of other books but shakes his head, not finding the right one, “You didn’t come here to ask me about my life, though, and you didn’t come here to ask whether or not you had a choice in yours. Ask what you really want to ask.” 

 

He grabs a ladder and slides it over to a tall case that he climbs up and reads the spine of, letting out a satisfied, ‘ah hah,’ as he pulls out a bright blue book with red binding. 

 

“What is Lex doing?”

 

He shakes his head as he slides down the ladder with a practiced ease.

 

“No, that’s not the question,” he mutters as he clears space on the large table and drops the book onto it next to the cracked coffee cup. 

 

“I need to know. He’s going to hurt her, he’s…he’s planning something so much worse than anything before and I need to stop it.”

 

He shakes his head again, smiles at her like a parent might to a child and Lena has never been on the receiving end of this level of kindness, not from someone or something older than her, and certainly not from a parent. 

 

She doesn’t know how to react to it. 

 

“But that is not for me to tell you.” 

 

“Why not? If you know…”

 

“I don’t know. All the pieces aren’t clear. There are still choices to be made, things that will happen and things that might not, things that haven’t happened. But you don’t need me to tell you about your brother’s nefarious plans. You’ll solve that on your own in whatever time and fashion that suits you, you need to ask me something else, something far more important.”

 

She stands from the couch, shaky but stronger than before as she approaches the table, approaches him and the book that has her heart beating a little faster the longer she looks at it. 

 

She can’t read it, the words, blurry and strange and not for her eyes, but there’s something about its energy, about its scent that she just knows, that she recognizes whose life and fate it holds, whose book it is. 

 

“Who is Kara Danvers?” 

 

J’onn’s smile grows as he taps the book but then he makes a noise that sounds like the buzzer to the wrong answer on Jeopardy, “Wrong. That’s not the right question either.”

 

“How is that not the right question? You’re holding her book!” 

 

“You can tell that I’m holding her book? That is powerful.” And he turns a page and hums to himself, a kindness still in his tone, a curiosity as he reads and Lena is only growing more frustrated the longer she spends here. 

 

And how long has she been here? Is Kara okay? Does she think she’s died? Did Lex get to her while Lena disappeared? Is she already too late? 

 

As if sensing her thoughts J’onn taps her on the forehead, “You need to quiet that down, it won’t help you.” He turns back to the book and adds, “You’ve only been here for a few hours. She’s fine. Mostly fine, sleep deprived and very worried about you, but fine. And you’re late for work so stop wasting my time, stop keeping her waiting, and ask the right question.”

 

And Lena takes this as the challenge it shouldn’t be and crosses her arms and stares down a being who could write her death into a book if he really wanted to, who could refuse to help her, who could send her back to Hell with the snap of a finger. 

 

It would violate all kinds of promises of neutrality, but he could do it. He existed outside the laws of Heaven and Hell, he could do whatever he wanted if he truly wished to. 

 

He meets her eyes and where Lena expects defiance, expects a voice to boom loud and bring her to her knees, there’s only a slight raised eyebrow and a kindness in his voice as he reads from the red and blue book. 

 

“Kara Danvers, born to Alura and Zor-El, both deceased, car accident, tragedy, Kara barely survived. Adopted by the Danvers family at age twelve, some anger issues from trauma but that’s normal, I would be surprised if she hadn’t had any problems after a tragedy like that.” His voice gets a little darker, a little angrier as he recites Kara’s past, but then it brightens again with, “Now works for CatCo where she hopes to be a reporter but is currently investigating ghosts with you. Overall, she seems to be bright both intellectually and emotionally despite the tragedy. Glad she got therapy and has a loving supportive family to be there for her, including her sister, perfectly human in every way. That’s who she is.” 

 

“What kind of a name is Zor-El?” Lena asks.

 

He closes the book with force and Lena feels his power, feels the age in the room as he states, “That’s not what you want to know, Lena Luthor. You do not care about Kara Danvers’ history or who she is or where she came from. Ask the right question.”

 

Lena finally cracks, “Why does she affect me? Why am I sleeping? Why am I feeling? Why is she important?”

 

There’s a long pause as J’onn takes in her questions and Lena half-expects him to tell her they’re all the wrong ones, to tell her she asked more than one and she needs to leave, but all he does is give her an expression that is both sympathetic and relieved and she knows one of her questions must have been the right one.

 

He shrugs and flips through the book in his hand, “She isn’t.” 

 

“What do you mean she isn’t?” Lena argues, almost offended on Kara’s behalf. “She affects me, she makes me…she makes me feel and when I’m not with her I’m empty and alone and I don’t feel like myself, I feel weak and weighed down and exhausted and lost and it doesn’t make sense, and we have this connection and she…how can she not be important? She’s doing this to me! She has to be something important!”

 

He points to the cracked coffee cup, “She isn’t any more important than this coffee cup.” 

 

Lena is about to argue further but he lifts the cup and she falls silent. 

 

“To you, it’s broken, cracked, and I probably shouldn’t be drinking out of it because it doesn’t really hold the amount of coffee it should and it leaks. But if I told you I received that from my dying father many many years ago when I first came to Earth, that it was the last gift I ever received from him before he gave me all of this, that he used it and passed it on to me in one last parting gesture, a small token he left with my inheritance. Well now, this broken coffee cup is the most important coffee cup in the world. At least to me. But to you, it’s still just cracked ceramic.”

 

Lena stares at the cup and she understands even as he says, “So Kara Danvers, to the world, is no more important than this coffee cup. But to you…”

 

“She’s the most important person in the world. She’s everything.”

 

“And she affects you because of this.”

 

“And Lex knows that. Lex knows she matters to me, that there’s something happening, and that he can use her to get what he wants from me.”

 

She bites down a sob that threatens to escape as she stares at the red and blue book and she wonders if it’s written, if Lex wins in the end, “He thinks I’m going to let him kill her, that I’ll help and bring her to him, but I can’t, how could I…how do I save her? What should I do?” 

 

“I can’t answer that for you.”

 

“Then what good are you?!” Lena screams, her power flexing uninhibited, emotionally vulnerable, a wind blowing through the room and the Keeper, J’onn, holds his hands up to calm her. 

 

It works. 

 

“I told you, you have a choice, Lena Luthor. A choice you will need to make on your own. You have been walking a singular path, but now, you’re standing in front of two. You can follow the path your mother set for you, you can listen to your brother and give in when faced with this grand destiny he has planned. And if you do what’s expected, you can sink into the darkness and reclaim what you’re losing and never feel as lost or as forgotten in Hell again. You will gain the crown, gain the respect of demons high and low, even from your mother, and you will never feel less than ever again. You will gain a kind of peace, but Kara Danvers will die.” 

 

Lena feels the very breath stolen from her lungs. 

 

Because yes, it’s all she’s ever wanted, all she ever once craved. Respect, no more doubt, a peace in the darkness, a family that fears her just as much as they once made her feel alone, who she can wield power over like a weapon they would turn against her if given the opportunity. An opportunity she would never give them. 

 

She used to want that. 

 

The crown. Revenge. Power.

 

She wanted it because her mother expected her to want it. Because all around her she was told it was her destiny, that they would only fear her and respect her if she had it. That she would no longer feel alone with it.

 

But the cost is too great now. 

 

She doesn’t want it. 

 

“Or, you can challenge your mother for the kingdom, you can fight your brother, you can stop what’s coming and you can save Kara Danvers. But you will die.”

 

The room sinks into silence, a heaviness surrounding her, because even knowing that she will die, even knowing what it’s going to cost, it’s still not much of a choice. 

 

Save Kara or save herself. 

 

Well, she’s lived long enough, hasn’t she?

 

“It’s not really a choice, is it?” Lena asks and J’onn looks at her with far more warmth than she thinks she’s worth.

 

“For some it is. For you, I suspect, not so much.”

 

He snaps his fingers then and a door appears, “But today is not for dwelling on what is to come. You have a job to get to, a woman to see, and more ghostly investigations to do.”

 

“What?” Lena asks as he pushes her towards the door, “How can I just…”

 

“Live your life with the threat of imminent death and darkness and danger? One day at a time. That’s what the humans do, just be like them. You may want to consider telling her how you feel before the inevitable end comes though.”

 

“Why would I do that if I’m only going to die?”

 

“A little happiness is better than none at all.” 

 

Lena doesn’t really have long to think on this, to think that he might be right, because he’s pushing her through the door and she’s suddenly standing in Brainy’s office, dressed for work in clothing she didn’t choose but somehow suits her, a blue shirt and skirt, her hair up and pristine despite the waves and curls it had dried into, and she’s more awake than she has been in a week. 

 

“Fuck!” Brainy falls over his chair at both the appearance of the door and Lena falling through it. And they’re both grateful there’s no cameras filming their simultaneous ungraceful spills. 

 

J’onn snaps his fingers and the door to CatCo disappears and he is once again left alone with his books and words of fate and destiny, but also a pizza that he’s all too happy to dive into as he opens the book again.

 

He looks at Kara Danvers’ name, written when she first came into the world, and he taps the red mark beside it, a mark he could not and would not share with Lena Luthor. 

 

He descends a staircase to a room with more books, older ones, that radiate a darker kind of power and coldness. When he pulls one that is red with blue blinding he smiles at the mirror coloring. And when he opens it to see Lena Luthor’s name written in ink that still looks as fresh as when the book first appeared, he sees the same red mark next to it. 

 

And if he looked, if he put the books side by side, if he read the right pages and held the right chapters of Lena’s long existence against Kara’s shorter one, he’d see the strings, he’d see the pulls and the parallels. 

 

And if he looked back further, he’d see all the moments that intersected, that compounded and happened at all the right times, moments that were responsible in inevitably bringing forth Kara Danvers-Zor El and Lena Luthor-Walsh into this world, tying them together in a universal destiny.

 

He’d see the love of a human that had an angel fall from Heaven following a brother tired of the same old wars. He’d see a family rebuilding itself and two children born to bloodlines that once held celestial power. 

 

He’d see a once good witch tempted by the Lord of Hell and a child created from corruption and darkness that would never let that be her birthright, a child that would fight this destiny and become something so much more with a power that an adopted mother and half-brother would come to fear.

 

He’d see two children from two worlds marred by tragedy and loneliness, craving understanding and a home that they couldn’t find no matter how hard they tried, feeling out of place but never being able to figure out why, who only started to find that place the moment their paths crossed and left them terrified of how certain it all felt. 

 

If he looked, he’d see that red string tying them together, entangling their souls and pulling, always pulling them to each other, seeking balance as if the very universe demanded it, inevitable and unyielding in its certainty that these two were meant to be in each other's lives. 

 

He looks at both books, at both lives, at those red marks, and he hopes the universe knows what it’s doing.

 

---

 

“What happened to you?” Brainy asks Lena after they’ve both calmed down and taken a breath. 

 

“Where’s Kara?” Lena fixes her shirt and smoothes out her skirt as she opens the door. 

 

He shrugs, points, “Upstairs, probably. She called down asking if you were here.” 

 

But Lena doesn’t listen to much more than that, because she’s already out into the hallway, already rushing towards the elevator and slapping the button as fast as she can in the hopes that it’ll somehow get to the floor faster. 

 

---

 

Kara isn’t quite sure what she’s doing today. Her brain is foggy and lost and she’s still thinking about Lena, still checking her phone to see if Lena has called or texted or emailed - anything, really, but there’s nothing. 

 

She has to proceed as if everything is still normal, as if Lena may not be gone, as if whatever they could have been wasn’t suddenly ripped from her right along with a show she couldn’t care less about at the moment. 

 

She walks through the bullpen, avoids colliding with an intern delivering coffee as she checks her notes on the Phantom Zone but her mind is far away from the words, lost in books and theories, lost in the possible loss of Lena. 

 

But then, like a sixth sense, like something holding her still, she freezes, because she knows. 

 

Lena is there.

 

She lifts her head from her notes and looks across the way, like her eyes know where to find her and she sees her, dressed in blue, staring at her as she gives a half-attempt at a smile and Kara just feels it all crash over her like a wave.

 

Everything she’s been fighting, everything that’s been keeping her up, it’s like the world fades and narrows and all she sees is Lena. And it’s a relief to see her standing there as much as it is to feel that manic energy she’s been carrying around finally burn itself out and put itself on mute. 

 

She doesn’t need to say anything, neither one of them do as they quietly, and carefully, walk out onto the balcony that no one uses, side by side. 

 

There’s a slight chill in the air as the wind hits and they stand across from each other. 

 

Kara waits for Lena to speak. Lena waits for Kara. They both wait and they both have no idea how to begin.

 

Because they both have a million and one thoughts, in different volumes, with different confessions and different apologies, but neither one of them can get the right words out. 

 

“Are you okay?” Kara finally asks, her worry of the day before winning out, “I called, I texted, you…where were you?” And the worry is evident on her face, Lena can see it burning in her eyes, can see it bearing into her soul as Kara looks her over like she’s searching for injury, for anything to tell her that Lena isn’t okay at all. 

 

And Lena tries not to wilt under the look, tries not to give away that she’s not okay, that Kara can see she’s not okay, that she will be fine and Kara doesn’t need to be worried. She tries to figure out how to begin this conversation, because Kara needs to know, doesn’t she? She needs to know the danger she’s in. 

 

“I’m…” But Lena can see the red in Kara’s eyes, can see the deep sleepless bruising underneath, “Are you?” 

 

“I haven’t been sleeping, probably just remnants from the Arkham Curse, I’m fine.”

 

“Kara, I told you places can’t curse you.”

 

“And you know all about curses?” Kara asks, not trying to be accusing, but her tone coming out too dry in her sleepless brain.  She doesn’t dwell on her words, she can’t, because she is searching Lena’s eyes for any sign of anything and she wants to outright ask, should just ask, should just present Lena with what she suspects and remind her that she’s her friend, remind her that she just wants to understand, remind her that she’s there because it’s still Lena, but she can’t, not here, not like this, not when there’s something so very obviously wrong.

 

Not when she’s terrified Lena could disappear at any moment. Not when she hasn’t even had a chance to get to the other revelation Lena should know, that Lena may be less okay with. 

 

“Lena, why didn’t you call? I was worried.”

 

“I couldn’t. I…I left my phone, I didn’t even know…my brother showed up at my apartment.”

 

“Your brother?” 

 

Lena doesn’t lie, she takes a breath and tells Kara, “He wanted my help with something and I…I thought it would be easier to get rid of him if I did, but he’s not a good man and he was just playing a game that I wasn’t prepared for.” 

 

“Did he hurt you?” And Kara’s voice has a darker edge to it as she steps closer into Lena’s space, her eyes searching further for any sign of pain or anything, “My sister works for the FBI, I could call her if you need me to find out what we can do.”

 

“No, he…I’m fine.” 

 

But Kara doesn’t believe it, keeps staring, her eyes burning as she looks into Lena, like she can see her very soul and Lena wants to look away, but she can’t. There’s something pure and unyielding behind Kara’s eyes, something that rages in a search for justice, for vengeance at her own pain and suffering that Lena can’t pretend she doesn’t see, doesn’t feel that light burning beneath her skin.

 

She’s never seen anyone this angry on her behalf before and it’s almost overwhelming how it makes her heartbeat that much faster and heavier, how all she wants to do is kiss Kara and feel that warmth, that burn, until she forgets what cold ever was. 

 

Kara looks away first, takes a heavy breath that Lena feels in her bones. 

 

Kara knows it may not be the right time, knows that the longer she stares at Lena the harder it’s going to be to ask, to break whatever is building in the air around them, to not close the gap between them and taste the cinnamon and earth that Lena radiates, but she has to ask, she has to know, she has to, especially if someone is trying to hurt Lena. 

 

“I have to ask you something and I need you to tell me the truth and you’re probably going to think I’m crazy because I feel crazy, but I just…we’re friends. I need you to understand that we’re friends, no matter what, but I need to know I’m not losing my mind.” 

 

“Kara, I know what you’re going to say…” And Kara feels her breath hitch, feels her throat dry as Lena plays with her hands, fidgets in a way she’s never seen her do before. 

 

“I’m not avoiding you because we woke up together on the couch,” Lena starts and Kara looks for a hidden camera, looks for something she can look into like she’s on The Office because, WHAT?!

 

“There’s things about me you don’t understand, that I can’t talk about yet, that if you knew you wouldn’t want to be friends with me, or…” And Lena fades out, glances from Kara’s lips back to her eyes and they’re wide and uncertain and she hopes against hope she hasn’t just broken her heart by refusing to acknowledge whatever it is that’s growing between them…not yet. 

 

“I’m pretty sure I’ve already worked through…” Kara tries, but Lena shakes her head. 

 

“I’m not good, Kara! I’m not. Before I met you, I was much worse, I was…and I don’t deserve…you should hate me! You will hate me.”

 

And Lena feels her heart break, feels something inside of her snap and shatter and she can’t help the tears that start, can’t help that it’s possibly the first time she’s ever cried and she sort of understands why humans do it, because it feels better to just let it out in a way that isn’t screaming. 

 

And Kara is there, holding her up, holding her close. Because, despite her days of mania, despite the frustrating and emotional turn this conversation has taken (the contents of which she will only partially dwell on later when she’s unpacking that Lena was addressing a potential for them rather than a confession as to what Kara is fairly certain is the truth of what she is) despite what should scare others but feels more right than anything in her life before…

 

She pulls Lena into the tightest hug she can, her face next to hers, pressed close and warm as she tells her, firm and confident, “You are a kind, intelligent, beautiful soul and nothing in the universe could ever make me hate you.” And she means it. She means it even if she’s right about Lena, she means it even if she’s wrong and Lena thinks she’s a nutcase, she means it more than she’s ever meant any words she’s ever said in her life.

 

And Lena clings to her tightly, like her very life depends on it, and when the tears stop, when she pulls away and still holds Kara’s arms before letting go, before wiping the tears from her eyes and trying not to grimace how downright gross all of these emotions are…she smiles because she feels better, she feels a weight lifted, she feels balanced more than she has in a week.

 

And Kara feels it too, feels the sudden exhaustion, feels a peace that would put her to sleep if she just rested her head. 

 

And it doesn’t matter what’s not being said, doesn’t matter what she thinks she knows, all the theories, the dreams, the book she’s been reading, it all melts away and only leaves her with a slight guilt that she let it get the best of her. 

 

Kelly was right. Alex was right. Nia was right. It doesn’t really matter what the truth is, it doesn’t matter if she’s right or wrong, or if it’s something else - because, in the end, it’s just Lena. 

 

No matter what, it’s just Lena.

 

And they’re friends. 

 

“So…it’s been a few days,” Kara begins, a lightness in the air, “And I did choose a place for our next investigation, although, I think we might be able to get away with like a hiatus if…”

 

“No, it’s okay, we should get to work.” 

 

And Kara wants to ask if she’s sure, wants to change the place she’s chosen because it might not be the best but it’s also too late now to go somewhere else. But, if she’s right about Lena, it won’t really matter anyway because Lena will keep them safe, so…

 

“I’m going to be up front. I may have not been all together in my brain when I picked it and it may have a poltergeist and be very haunted and I may need whatever protective thing you did in Arkham to get us through it.”

 

Lena freezes, “What protective thing?” 

 

Kara blinks because she was just talking, she wasn’t trying to, oh no, did she just accidentally begin THIS conversation now? 

 

“No, just like…your disbelief and aggressive taunting scares the ghosts away and keeps me safe.” 

 

“Well…I think that your screaming scares them away,” Lena jokes and Kara gives the worst fake laugh of her life. 

 

“I just mean, you keep me safe.” Kara smiles warmly. 

 

“And I always will,” Lena promises and she means it. 

 

It’s only when they get back to their shared desks, when Kara shoves papers into a drawer and presents her very edited research on The Phantom Zone that it truly hits her…

 

Lena thought she had been talking about them. Lena thought she had been bringing up the couch and the morning after and the almost something that had happened, and if she thought that’s what Kara was bringing up…

 

Her brain short circuits because…

 

There was a chance that, if Lena was bringing it up, if Lena felt it too, if Lena wasn’t running from it even if she was putting it aside at the moment, then that could mean…

 

Lena might want…her…the way she wants Lena and she might…she might like her back!

Chapter Text

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE POLTERGEIST OF THE PHANTOM ZONE

 

“He said you’re going to die?” Brainy asks as Lena paces in his office, “And you’re not going to tell Kara what’s happening? Isn’t that against the exact advice some all powerful being gave you?” 

 

“Yes, but…I can’t…” Lena says and a part of her wishes this conversation were happening with Sam, who would understand a bit more, who would have her own experience with The Keeper, but…

 

She can’t find Sam. Sam hasn’t contacted her, hasn’t even sent her a message and she had tried once she’d returned, once she’d gone home after work the day before and felt…settled, felt better after having talked to Kara which…

 

Is another matter entirely that she hasn’t completely figured out, that The Keeper hadn’t even mentioned outside of ‘just go for it and be happy’ in addition to the whole ‘you’ll die for her’ thing that Lena knows is coming, that she knows has more to it, all of it and none of it good, all of it involving her brother. 

 

“We need to look into Arkham.” 

 

“What?” Brainy asks as Lena changes the subject entirely. 

 

“My brother was doing something there. The symbol, it’s connected to something, I need you to look into it. And see how Clark Kent is connected.” 

 

“Clark Kent? Kara’s cousin?” 

 

Lena freezes, “Clark Kent. The reporter for the Daily Planet. He was looking into Morgan Edge’s club in Metropolis.” The same club Lex was making a deal with Morgan Edge at, where he had challenged her to confront said reporter, who knew Clark Kent, who had tried to corrupt him. 

 

Lena feels like her mind is spinning in circles, “He’s…” 

 

“Kara’s cousin. She hasn’t told you about him?” 

 

“No. Are they like…he’s not a Danvers?” 

 

“No. Biological cousins.” 

 

“Lex knew him, he was terrorizing him as a kid.”

 

“Why?” 

 

“If I knew that I wouldn’t be here asking you, would I?” Lena snaps and she doesn’t mean to take it out on Brainy, she doesn’t mean to fully snap but she’s frustrated and spinning in circles and no closer and going to die for Kara and she doesn’t even know why. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Lena apologizes and if her mother could hear her she’d lose her mind at it. Luthors don’t apologize, Hell’s royals don’t apologize, and Lena was taught not to and yet, here she is, apologizing to a human, to her friend, “I’m just…I wish I knew the answers and I know I have to tell Kara and I’m just…it feels like I’m…stuck going in circles and the second I tell Kara I could lose her and it could give Lex everything he wants. How do I protect her if she hates me?”

 

Brainy just looks at her, “I can see if I can find anything about Arkham and Clark but, I don’t think she’ll hate you. I don’t think she could. And maybe if you tell her, she could give you an answer you need. If Clark is connected, she must be too, right?” 

 

“Yes, because of me. Because Lex wants to take it out on me and Clark denied him and he knows I took his spot and he knows I have feelings for Kara and…” Lena takes a breath and feels her shoulders tense and her jaw tighten. 

 

“Oh good so you’ve finally gotten around to that, great, that makes this easier,” Brainy just moves on, “What if Kara and Clark originally, had nothing to do with you? What if this isn’t just about you and Lex? What if there’s more to it? Your brother doesn’t do anything without a larger purpose, right? Maybe it isn’t a weird petty revenge plot.” 

 

“It definitely isn’t just revenge, but…”

 

And Lena recalls his words, recalls him telling her that she was the one destined to fall into the light, that Clark had that same warmth that Kara has, that same something, something she knows helped him to resist Lex, something she knows would have intrigued Lex. 

 

And she wonders if maybe the club wasn’t just a test for her. It was a test for something, because Lex had seemed uncertain, unsure of something…

 

Until he wasn’t. 

 

She recalls him telling her to protect her heart, the threat to Kara, the very real threat to Kara and it’s like she has all the pieces but none of the connective tissue to put it all together, like she’s missing the glue to get the full picture, the full understanding that is going to lead her to sacrifice herself for Kara. 

 

She needs Sam. She needs more answers. She just needs…

 

“You know who is much better at research than me? Kara,” Brainy offers with a smile, “Something to think about if you’re on the fence about telling her the truth. She could help beyond giving you information about her cousin.” 

 

And Lena knows that he’s right. Just like the Keeper is right. 

 

She needs Kara. 

 

She needs Kara’s research skills and her belief and hope and whatever it is that lets her bravely go into places she fears and find the information about them and put it together into a story that can be understood. 

 

She needs Kara by her side to face it, to balance her, to keep her from falling into the darkness. She needs her light and her warmth and…

 

Her. She just needs her.

 

She needs to tell Kara the truth.

 

“You know it’s interesting…” Brainy brings up as he pulls up Clark Kent’s profile from The Daily Planet website. 

 

“What?” 

 

“Clark Kent. He was adopted too. Like statistically I’m sure it’s not unusual, but…both of them losing their parents….actually that’s probably Kara’s story to tell but it feels like a pattern.”  

 

And Lena just nods because she knows Kara’s story, at least what she’s told her of it and what the Keeper reiterated -  the car crash, the adoption by the Danvers family - and if Clark shares that too? 

 

What does it all mean?

 

“Was it at the same time?” 

 

“I think Clark was younger, it happened to him first. But…I don’t really know all of it. Kara never said and it’s not like he’s broadcasting it on the Daily Planet profile. But I mean it’s probably something you could just ask her, or she’ll tell you, especially if she knows why you’re asking.” Brainy raises both of his eyebrows providing a not so subtle hint. 

 

Lena fixes him with a look, “Sure I’ll just pepper in questions about her and her cousin’s personal tragedies while simultaneously telling her that I’m one of those things she’s terrified of and that we’ve been investigating and oh yah I actually can see the ghosts and I’ve been lying this entire time, like a liar! And my demonic brother is also trying to kill you but he also may have been haunting your cousin so now I have to protect you from him even though I’m also a monster you are terrified of and again, have been lying to you about. Did I cover everything?” 

 

“Maybe talk about Arkham but I wouldn’t exactly lead with that information dump,” Brainy states in a monotonous roast that has Lena rolling her eyes as he sighs, “But I would tell her. She deserves to know. And if you care about her, you’ll give her the kindness of at least knowing the truth before you decide to save her and disappear and she has no say in how that happens, or a chance to say goodbye, or a chance to help you.” 

 

“Why would she help me after all of that?” 

 

“Because she’s Kara.” 

 

And it’s a simple but exact answer to who Kara is, the kind of person Kara is, and why Lena is so taken with her because she is so unlike anyone else that Lena has ever encountered both in Hell and on Earth. 

 

“I want to tell her I’m just…scared. Which is ridiculous because I’m not supposed to…” 

 

“Lena, I’m your friend and know that I say this with the utmost care, I’m tired of hearing what you’re not supposed to be, just…do what the all powerful being said, lean into it, stop trying to be what you aren’t, just be what you are, who you are.” 

 

“And who is that?” Lena asks, genuinely. 

 

“Isn’t that for you to decide?” 

 

And Lena knows he’s right, knows The Keeper is right, knows and knows and knows but…

 

The knowing doesn’t make it any easier. 

 

And she doesn’t know who she is, who she wants to be, what she’s becoming. 

 

All she knows is the truth is going to come out, one way or another, and she has to tell Kara. 

All of it. Everything. About her, about Lex, about what’s happening and whatever happens happens, she’ll still protect her, even if she hates her, she’ll still be whoever she is and stop Lex. 

 

“I’ll tell her after The Phantom Zone.” 

 

“You still want to go through with it?” 

 

“I have to. She can’t lose her job too, after everything. Besides, if Lex kills me or Kara never wants to see me again, it could end up being the last one so…better make it a good one, right?” Lena states with a sardonic half-laugh. 

 

---

 

“Wait? What’s happening? Why do you have a bag?” Kara asks as Nia drops her overnight bag on the floor of her office. 

 

“I’m coming too!” Nia announces. 

 

“Why?” 

 

“One…because,” and the younger woman whispers, “the whole demon thing.”

 

Kara waves her hands, frantic as she glances around hoping against hope that Lena won’t hear or walk in, or really, that anyone won’t hear lest she sound like someone who might need to go to HR or seek some sort of psychiatric evaluation, “No we’re dropping that, that was a loss of higher brain function and temporary Arkham caused insanity and also a mistake.” 

 

“What?! In what world is finding proof of the demonic and an actual person who may be possessed and in need of help a mistake?!” Kara puts her hand over Nia’s mouth to stop her from yelling about demons and Lena. 

 

“Stop yelling,” Kara takes a heavy breath as she removes her hand, recalling the sobering conversation with Kelly and the moment outside on the balcony with Lena, “She’s Lena, she’s just Lena. And she’s not possessing anyone, I don’t think.” 

 

“You don’t think or you don’t know?” 

 

“I…I don’t think that’s how it works. I mean just from the book I was reading, I think it’s like not all demons possess people, I think it depends on like your level?” Kara has half a mind to dig through her carry on to find the John Constantine book to point out places she’d marked in regards to demons and possession. It’s a long chapter, dense and she’s fairly sure the guy is also some kind of street magician whose book is either a con or the only thing he’s ever written and then went nuts after but, it has a lot of good points, a lot of things that are starting to make sense. 

 

“Level? This isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, Kara. This is demons and magic and okay it’s a lot like Dungeons and Dragons except it’s real!” Nia argues as she opens up her bag and holds out a water bottle, “Look this can solve it, it’s holy water and if Lena drinks it or it gets on her it should either like burn or something I don’t know but you’ll know, we’ll all know.”

 

“I’m not going to throw Holy Water on her.”

 

“Well I’m going to.” 

 

“Nia! No!” 

 

“Kara, we spent days doing research on this. Days! I had nightmares. And, congratulations, you did it, you convinced me of your theory, and I was fully on board with solving it, and now you just want to drop it? I don’t get it. What happened? Did she make out with you and your brain short circuited or…?” 

 

“What?! No! There was no…making out,” Kara clears her throat, tries to not let the idea take hold and the sudden racing of her heart or blush across her face make her lose the emphasis of her point, “Nothing happened, I just…I realized that I don’t think it matters? Well, like I think it’s not really something for us to force or know, like…I mean if I had a secret like that I wouldn’t be able to tell people right away I mean I would have to…I think it would take trust and time and I just want to let Lena know she can trust me…if it’s true. Which I still think it is, but not terrifying enough to like force it.” 

 

“Because you think, if she ‘trusts’ you,” Nia makes air quotes on the word ‘trust’ before adding, “She might be like oh Kara you’re such a good friend and you’re great and then make out with you?” Nia throws up her hands at Kara’s deeper blush and dropped jaw, then rolls her eyes, “So after all of that, you came back to my whole maybe you just have feelings and freaked out thing that I told you BEFORE we set off on our research mission from actual Hell? I lost sleep over this. Sleep. You know how I value my sleep.”

 

“Kelly also had some choice words on that topic so it wasn’t just you but…there’s a lot of gray areas to this and stuff and I don’t think feel super good about forcing a confession and also we don’t really know what we’re dealing with and that poses a danger and it just feels wrong.” 

 

“Wrong? Kara if she’s a demon, an actual demon, from Hell, they are not good, they are literally from Hell and their greatest joys are causing pain and suffering and corruption. Have you never seen The Exorcist or like any horror movie involving a possession?” 

 

“But Lena isn’t like that!” Kara half-yells, standing taller, suddenly so defensive she looks downright angry. 

 

Nia holds her hands up in surrender waiting for Kara to take a breath and then continues, a little more gentle with her words, “Okay, I know you think that but…what if you’re wrong? You did say we don’t know enough. And we don’t know what game she’s playing.” 

 

“I’m not wrong. Lena is not…evil and she’s not playing a game. She’s just…Lena. And she can tell me when she wants to and we will be fine. I’ll be fine. So thank you for entertaining my research but I don’t need your help, you can stay home.” 

 

“Well that’s not really up to you, I’ve been assigned by Cat Grant to come along. She wants me to up production value and social media. And you made me read a bunch of creepy stuff on the internet, so…tough shit but I’m in this now and whether you like it or not,  I have to make sure you’re not going to be devoured by a demon, although I guess you wanting to be devoured by Lena might not be such a bad thing for you depending on the context.” 

 

“Stop!” Kara’s face is beat red as Nia snorts. 

 

“Oh you are really in deep,” she waves the water bottle around, “Maybe I’ll just hit you with it when you keep lusting over her, purify your unholy thoughts whenever they get too loud. Do you think I can put this in a little water gun? Just pew pew you and Lena.” 

 

“Nia, I swear I’m going to slap you.” 

 

She puts the water bottle down, “I promise, I won’t throw it at her or you. But if she drinks it and whatever demon is possessing her body emerges, then that’s on them.” 

 

“I don’t think that’s how it works.”

 

“Let’s ask Lena how it works, I’m sure she knows,” Nia laughs as Kara is about to argue again.

 

“Ask me how what works?” Lena asks as she enters the office, cutting Nia off. Kara struggles on her words, opening and closing her mouth trying to come up with some excuse that has Lena just staring at her and wondering whether or not she’s suffering some sort of stroke. 

 

“Kara?” 

 

Nia bumps her in the shoulder and Kara comes to her senses. 

 

“Ask you if you know how planes just stay in the sky,” Kara lies and she hears Nia mumble some curse word under breath.

 

But then she blinks and yells, “Perhaps it’s the POWER of CHRIST, compelling it!” 

 

Kara glances between Nia and Lena, heart in her throat, ready to strangle the younger woman if Lena so much as starts bleeding or smoking or whatever could happen. 

 

But nothing does. 

 

“Or it’s science,” Lena states with a  confused shrug, “I think it’s like aerodynamics, wind speed, things like that?” 

 

“So you don’t know either? About planes? Didn’t you go to MIT?” Nia asks with a raised eyebrow, her voice a lot quieter than before, “According to the sweatshirt that Kara says you own? Speaking of which, I haven’t ever seen your resume.” 

 

Kara is less gentle when she bumps Nia’s shoulder than Nia was with her, “That’s because you’re not in charge of hiring or HR.” 

 

“I didn’t go to MIT to learn about planes,” Lena states matter of factly, but there’s a darker stare behind her eyes and Nia just nods. 

 

“Right. You probably went for like other…reasons. And now you’re here…hunting ghosts…did you work anywhere before this?” 

 

“Oh-kay, speaking of planes, we should…the time…” Kara gives Nia a look that has Nia picking up her bags. Kara notices Lena’s confused expression and adds, “Cat Grant has asked Nia to join us.” 

 

“She would like promo pictures and for me to document our trip, for social media purposes and to generate larger interest,” Nia states, “So let me know if there’s anything you don’t want posted that could create rumors or interest in ways neither of you want. Water?” 

 

She holds out the bottle for Lena to take but Kara grabs it from her before Lena can.

 

“Thanks! I would love some!”  And at that Nia glances from Kara to Lena and turns on her heel to leave with a rolling of her eyes that threatens to have them permanently seeing the inside of her skull. 

 

“Are you allowed to have that on the plane?” Lena asks but Kara just waves her hand. 

 

“I’ll toss it when we get there. It’ll be fine. How are you? How’s…are you…after your stuff with…how are you?” And she’s not sure why she’s being so awkward, why her face is reddening in Lena’s presence worse than when Nia was teasing her about Lena, why she can’t figure out what to do with her hands or how to just stand, it’s like everything has been thrown off, like acknowledging she has some sort of crush that’s definitely more than that has sparked some fresh Hell of being thrown back into middle school and not knowing how to handle it. 

 

To be honest she feels pretty close to standing outside picking petals off a flower or writing a note that just says ‘check yes if you like me,’ and it’s only made all that much worse the longer she stands in front of Lena, long enough to start focusing on the fact that Lena looks really pretty today, everyday, but especially right now, long enough to think that her green sweater matches her eyes, long enough to wonder what it would be like to take off that sweater, long enough to think about running her hands through her hair, long enough to – 

 

“Sorry, were you…what were you saying?”

 

But Lena just stares, “I wasn’t saying anything. Kara, are you feeling alright?”

 

“I’m great! Fine! So…good. Fine. Awesome even!” She winces as she tries not to think about how nice Lena’s voice is saying her name, as she tries not to think that her heart surely must have just skipped a beat and what is wrong with her? She is an adult woman, she has a job, they have a show to film - she can’t be freaking out like this. 

 

Especially if it’s all going to be captured by either Nia or Brainy on some kind of camera - her embarrassment to live permanently on the internet. 

 

Especially when she’s trying, desperately, to not just outright tell Lena all the things she knows and suspects and that she’s totally fine with it and everything is great and that she might have a small crush but that’s also totally fine, everything is fine!

 

It’s fine!

 

Or it will be…

 

If Kara never says anything and Nia shuts-up and they just get through the investigation and Kara just lets Lena know she can trust her, repeatedly, and maybe gets to hold her hand and maybe if she tells Lena how much she’s her friend even if she secretly wants to be more than that then…it’ll be fine. 

 

“Are you two arguing about something?” Lena asks pointing to where Nia just was and Kara lies, poorly, as she puts the water bottle in her bag. 

 

“No, no, just differing opinions and theories, paranormal stuff…do you believe in demons?” 

 

Kara winces. Why did she have to go there? Why did she have to ask this?

 

“What?” Lena asks and Kara tries to ignore the sudden shift in Lena, the sudden guarded edge with which she speaks, tries to assuage it because this isn’t the time, she’s not accusing, she’s not trying to force, she’s just trying…to ease it. To let Lena know that she’s cool with demons, well not all demons, not mean ones, the Lena ones she’s fine with? Maybe there’s no others like Lena. 

 

Oh, she’s spiraling now. 

 

She’s not sure what she’s doing besides trying to lie about what she was talking to Nia about and also not freak Lena out. But it’s not working that well and whatever this is, is happening anyway. 

 

And it doesn’t matter that she desperately wants to stop it because it’s like something has broken between her brain and her mouth and it won’t stop running and running. 

 

“We were talking about possessions, there’s a story from The Phantom Zone about someone getting possessed and we were arguing about whether someone can actually be possessed or if that’s not how it works, because this book I read says there’s a hierarchy to like demons and possession, but…”

 

“What book are you reading?” 

 

“It doesn’t matter, it might be fake, it probably is, the internet and all that, but I was just wondering…where do you stand on the whole possession thing?” 

 

“As in, do I think people can be possessed?” And Lena still looks at her with a note of suspicion, her earlier nervousness and tension seeming to ease but still guarded, still there. 

 

Kara has to resist going for a hug which would be both ill-timed and honestly weird given a lack of context for it outside of Kara just really wanting to. Her trust plan is certainty not going as expected. 

 

“Yes. Is that…something that can happen?” Kara watches Lena, watches her with wide eyes and tries to look and see if that’s the case here, and she knows it isn’t, knows that Lena is just Lena but she’s lying to herself if she’s not curious about what Lena’s answer is.

 

Nia’s in her head and the question forms without her thinking about it…

 

Is it really Lena or is it someone else who makes her smile like that, whose voice does that, who makes Kara’s heart stutter and stop? What part of Lena does Kara have feelings for? Or is it all Lena?

 

Who is she falling for? 

 

“If you’re worried that you think it might happen to you, it won’t.” And there’s such conviction in Lena’s voice that Kara can’t help but smile at it. Can’t help but know from the look in Lena’s eyes, the sheer fierceness of the statement, of the protective tone that she was right with what she said to Nia. 

 

It’s just Lena. Only Lena.

 

She only sees her behind her eyes, she only feels her in her words, and it’s only her.

 

All Lena. Just Lena. 

 

And if Kara has only just started to acknowledge this crush, these feelings, they hit her harder and all over again like a truck going about a hundred on the highway. 

 

She has to take a breath just to contain them. 

 

“No, I’m not,” her voice is small and soft and she clears her throat to make it better, “I’m not worried about that. I'm just wondering what you think, if you believed in it, that is, is that something you think could happen?” 

 

If I believed in that sort of thing,” Lena says, the lie smooth and easy, but Kara sees it now, sees the way she doesn’t quite meet her eyes when she says ‘if.’ 

 

“Yeah, if you did.” 

 

“I would think that maybe your book is right and that lower beings are what would be the more common possessions while the higher ones only do it if it’s necessary or if they’re having fun.” 

 

“Fun?” 

 

“They’re evil creatures from Hell, wouldn’t that be fun for them?” 

 

“Would it?” Kara asks and she stares at Lena as she does, stares at someone who is very much not possessed who she’s very sure would not consider it fun, would consider it some sort of violation. 

 

And Kara wonders where she came from, who she is, what kind of supposed evil creature could stand here and talk to her about possession and be absolutely disgusted by the concept. 

 

Lena just grimaces as she states, “For them, probably.” And there’s a discomfort behind Lena’s eyes, an anger, and Kara knows that no matter what Nia might think, no matter what books and religion might say…

 

Lena is not evil. Lena does not enjoy causing pain. Lena is just Lena. 

 

And she wants to tell her that she knows and that it’s okay. She wants to tell her everything, her own research spiral and apologize and beg for forgiveness for her trying to invade whatever personal story is hers to tell alone, and tell her that she’s there, she’s not going anywhere, they are friends no matter what…

 

Even if she definitely wants to be more than friends. 

 

“Lena,” Kara starts, needing to say something, needing to confess it all, but Lena glances at the time. 

 

“We’re going to be late.” 

 

“Are you sure you still want to do this?” Kara asks, “You can sit it out if it’s not…”

 

“No! We have a job to do and we can’t disappoint. I’m fine, it’s all fine, I’m…fine. After everything this is good, normal, we should go to the spooky ghost bar.”

 

Kara watches as Lena winces, watches as she shuts her eyes and cringes against her own words and unnaturally forced upbeat tone and she wonders how someone who is not human can be just that. 

 

She wonders and she watches as Lena’s brow creases and she desperately fights the urge to smooth it with her hands and wishes that acknowledging her crush, her feelings, didn’t also come with the caveat of turning her into some kind of love stricken disaster. 

 

Truthfully she’s fairly certain being love-stricken isn’t the cause of her being a disaster. She’s pretty sure she just lives the life of being a disaster all the time, in everything she does. 

 

“Well, a Poltergeist which is way worse than a typical spooky ghost and the bar is like severely haunted with an entire sign disclaimer devoted to how haunted it is, so not just a spooky ghost bar, it’s worse.”

 

Kara doesn’t miss the not so subtle laugh Lena throws her way, the little noise that emits unbidden in an almost awkward more to it way that she puts into the file in her mind marked Lena and saves for later - for when Lena finally tells her, if Lena ever tells her, if she ever has to.

 

Or if she finds the very real file Kara had started and questions her on it from a week Kara wants to forget and hopes that Lena never realizes how manic she had truly become in her sleepless and feelings denial-addled brain. 

 

“That’s a cute marketing scheme. The Phantom Zone sounds like fun.” 

 

“I don’t think it’s going to be fun at all,” Kara grumbles as she picks up her bag and follows Lena out of the office, “Also fair warning I’m definitely falling asleep on the plane. I’m so tired.” 

 

“You don’t need my permission to fall asleep.” 

 

“I know I’m just warning you I won’t be a very good seat-friend on the flight.” 

 

“I can live with that.” 

 

Kara smiles bright at Lena’s warm one as they walk towards the elevator. 

 

It falls when Kara sees Nia waiting, that look in her eyes that screams their previous argument is not over, and…any thought of fun, of trying to bury down the past week and move forward and never ever let Lena know what they were up to looks like it’s about to be thrown out of the plane they’re all about to share. 

 

---

 

At first Nia is subtle in her attempts. 

 

On the way to the airport she hands Lena a cross necklace with a quick added, “Hey, Lena can you hold this real quick.” 

 

Kara nearly tumbles over Brainy trying to smack it out of her hand. But all Lena does is take it and stare at the three others in the car while the driver just continues on to the airport unaware of Kara internally screaming that potential demon Lena is holding a cross in her hands and nothing has happened.

 

But then she remembers her book and knows they aren’t vampires and it’s not any holy object that can repel them, it's specific ones with specific intentions and very specific materials used in them. 

 

It requires actual real magic. Actual occult magic.

 

And maybe Kara had dismissed it when she first read it, but now. Now, she can see that her book might be a lot more accurate than she had previously given it credit for. 

 

‘Kudos to you, John Constantine,’ Kara thinks to herself as Lena hands the necklace back to Nia without so much as a second thought or minor reaction to it. 

 

Still, Kara breathes, a little relieved that some random necklace Nia bought off a street vendor isn’t going to hurt Lena.  

 

And if Kara notices how Brainy reacted, how he tenses when he realized what was happening, she doesn’t say anything, at least not out loud. But she does watch the way he tries to pretend like he wasn’t as equally jumpy as she was, how he immediately types something into his phone and ignores both the confused stares of Nia and Lena as well as Kara’s curious glance. 

 

She just puts it away for later - to ask him when she has an opportunity.

 

And if a part of her is trying not to feel jealous or annoyed or any manner of put out because Brainy might know before her, because Brainy might be let into Lena’s world in a way that Kara is not, well…

 

She buries that down, tries not to look at that with a lens that is only going to have her outright yelling for Lena to just tell her the truth in the middle of a haunted bar or the airport.

 

Which she won’t do, she can’t do. 

 

She has promised, more to herself and to the Lena who is her friend, and who is unaware of this promise, that she won’t. The Lena who does not know that she may also have her own confessions to atone for. 

 

For now she just has to stop Nia from doing the very thing that earlier in the week she was fully on board with - though in more controlled circumstances - as best as being in a bar with a poltergeist could have been controlled.  

 

She texts Nia with an all caps, ‘SHE’S NOT A VAMPIRE! STOP!’ 

 

And only gets a gif with Edward Cullen in response followed by an added, ‘Okay but you’d absolutely love it if she told you your blood was like heroin, that’d be like a new kink for you.’ 

 

Kara has to fight the urge to hurl her phone at Nia’s head. That would definitely not be missed by Lena.

 

Maybe she should have just told Nia she would go along with it at the actual haunted bar. Maybe then that would have prevented Nia’s special brand of chaos.

 

---

 

To Nia it’s not about being right, not really. 

 

Well, maybe a little bit. 

 

And maybe it’s also a little bit about enjoying teasing Kara when she’s finally acknowledged just how into Lena she actually is. Something that was apparently obvious to everyone, including random people on the internet, except Kara herself. 

 

It’s only minor revenge.

 

Because Kara had made her look at all that creepy stuff and it had ruined her sleep and she was very careful about her sleep. But still… 

 

It isn’t just about being right or teasing or minor revenge. And it’s not about being able to prove some sort of power beyond the natural, that there’s more to the world and all that stuff that people liked to claim and get shows trying to prove. 

 

And she knows they also have a show trying to prove it but it’s not about getting ratings for their show. It’s really not about any of that.

 

It’s because this might be a real danger that no one can do anything about. 

 

Because, from everything she’s read and every movie she’s seen and every piece of horrifying research she’s been forced to do - especially this past week - it all led to the same conclusions. 

 

Demons = bad. Demons = Hell. Hell = bad and evil and darkness. 

 

So what if Kara has a crush on Lena. So what if Lena might not be doing anything outwardly evil and may also have what looks like a crush, potentially more than a crush, as well. 

 

That didn’t change the fact that she could still be a demon from Hell, a demon possessing someone, a demon who might be there to torment and get her kicks and potentially steal Kara’s soul. 

 

And Kara might be blind to it, might not want to see it, or be able to.

 

And Nia doesn’t know Lena, doesn’t know who she is or what she’s done outside of the few moments of the show she’s actually watched - namely the Arkham one. And yes maybe Lena had protected Kara then, maybe there was something more there to it and between them, but it could still be a game, could still all be some sick twisted game that the most evil being would play. 

 

She doesn’t know anything about Lena outside of the very real theory that she’s from Hell and she’s a demon. 

 

She doesn’t really know her at all except for what Kara says, what Kara defends when earlier in the week Kara was terrified, thought she was going crazy until she wasn’t, until something had changed it. 

 

At first she thought maybe Kara was just freaking out from feelings and some sort of identity crisis and a weirdly prophetic dream, but then Kara had presented her evidence and it was no longer that. 

 

And now both things have merged together. The truth that Kara won’t face and the feelings she will - feelings that could be exploited by agents of Hell, of ACTUAL Hell, of the ACTUAL Devil. And did the devil exist? Who did Lena serve? What did she do? Why was she here? 

 

And Kara won’t ask. Kara won’t find out the truth. 

 

So what is she supposed to do when Kara won’t? What is she supposed to think? Is she just supposed to trust that some agent of Hell, of darkness and evil, isn’t going to hurt someone she cares about? Isn’t going to harm someone she considers a friend?

 

The rest of the drive Nia thinks and watches Lena and wonders if Lena would hurt her if she gets too close to the truth. Because Lena keeps glancing at her, a suspicion in it that has Nia looking away too quickly to be smooth. 

 

And Nia knows that Lena isn’t stupid, whether or not she actually went to MIT, she is not dumb, she notices, she connects dots, there’s a reason the show has been working better now that there’s two people. One who believes and one whose brain power didn’t spiral out of control at every little creak or whisper of wind.

 

Nia has to rethink the whole pretend skeptic aspect that Lena has been doing for the show and adds another note to the column of ‘maybe she’s just here to mess with humans,’ argument.

 

She’s not a religious person, not really, her mother had been and her sister had truly gone off the deep end into it, but she had not. She was more of the ‘it could be out there but who knows really’ type of person. She believes that there’s more out there, ghosts and angels and that people could be psychic, that the paranormal  and the beyond exists, but she wasn’t exactly itching to go to church every Sunday. 

 

Still, she remembers stories. She remembers speeches and sermons and she remembers them talking about Hell and evil and monsters beneath. 

 

She remembers speeches of temptation coming in forms of innocence and beauty and she doesn’t know what to think when Kara seems so smitten by Lena, by a Lena who could be using that to get what she really wants. 

 

Tempt Kara, corrupt her, that was the end goal with demons, wasn’t it? Cause chaos, cause pain, gather souls for Hell?

 

But the longer the drive goes on, the more she watches, and the more she watches the more she wonders if it's some sort of long game, or… 

 

If Lena might feel something too. If Kara is not the one being tempted. At least not the only one.

 

And she tries not to see it, she tries to keep the blinders of ‘this person could be evil’ on, but…

 

Lena looks at Kara when Kara is not looking at her and Nia sees it. She sees something soft behind her eyes, something that yearns and cares and might just be a little bit in love and far too human even if she isn’t and Nia wonders…

 

If this is some sort of game then Lena is very bad at playing it because she is falling just as hard as Kara is, maybe harder, in a way that only Taylor Swift could write an entire ten minute song about, because Kara’s crush is obvious, her feelings fast and immediate and clear with every awkward cover up and reaction, but with Lena…

 

She’s fighting it. 

 

It’s clear she knows how to keep it close, keep it quiet and hidden, at least she’s trying to, but it’s there, burning behind her eyes, in her twisting of her hands, in her quiet adoration of Kara, and it’s overwhelmingly clear and loud and undeniable once Nia sees it.  

 

Nia wonders if either of them know just how loud they are, if either of them see it in the other or if they’re both too scared, too unsure to see it, if either of them want to face it and just let themselves fall. If they even can. 

 

And it all becomes so overwhelmingly clear that they aren’t going to unless something forces them to. 

 

She thinks of longing looks inside haunted places, footage that Brainy caught and she knows, even without knowing, that it was the footage he could edit and use, which means so much more probably exists. 

 

So much pining.

 

She thinks of hashtags on their very first episode and she thinks of the continued shipping hashtag she hasn’t encouraged but knows exists and has a large following, only getting larger every day. She knows it trends at every new episode and beyond - even if the two members of the pairing are unaware of it. 

 

‘It’s not the only thing they’re both unaware of,’ Nia thinks to herself as she catches Kara staring at Lena again, her face soft and just the slightest bit red when Lena glances from looking out the window to her and Kara nearly smacks her head on her own window as she turns away like some school kid who’s been caught staring at their crush by their crush. 

 

Which is exactly what has basically transpired. 

 

Nia can’t take this. She’s not going to be able to take this if she’s forced to watch it the next day and a half.  

 

It’s even worse than the whole knowing Lena is a demon thing.

 

And she could try to prove that Lena is a demon, she could try to force something that might devolve into violence and world ending scenarios or her own murder or Hell itself, OR…

 

They could both just face their feelings, face everything. The truth. Each other. 

 

And the only way to do that is enclosed spaces, inescapable spaces that lack any interruptions, that lack ghosts as well. 

 

She has a new plan to get the both of them to get the answers to multiple questions - to multiple truths. 

 

She just hopes no one dies getting there - especially her, because if Lena doesn’t kill her and sacrifice her soul to the underworld - Kara might punch her so hard she does die. 

 

Unless it works.

 

She pulls out her phone and sends a quick e-mail and hopes she’ll be forgiven in the morning and no punching or sacrificing will occur. 

 

That maybe they’ll be more…satisfied…in the aftermath. 

 

---

 

Lena can see that something is going on with Nia, that it goes beyond whatever conversation she was having with Kara. That there’s more to her pointed looks and even more to her questions. 

 

And Lena doesn’t know her all that well, maybe this is just what she does, asks random questions all the time, but she asks, “How does the Lord’s Prayer go?” 

 

And while Lena doesn’t really know why this question has emerged unbidden, it seems, from the way Nia’s been harping on all things holy, she might know more than she’s saying. 

 

And she’s sure Brainy wouldn’t have said anything, sure he would have told her if he had even accidentally mentioned something, but…

 

Her past has taught her that trust is not so easily returned. That trusting anyone is always a bad choice. She’s very selective with it. Sam is the only being in the universe who has it and that is still hard fought and not exactly unbreakable. 

 

And humans have earned it even less. 

 

But Brainy, she did trust, she does. She has to without Sam. He’s the only other person who she can tell things to, who can offer some form of logical and rational advice when she feels like she’s going off the rails. 

 

He’s her friend. He said he was her friend. And friends trust. 

 

But there’s a moment of doubt, a moment where she fears that her worst thoughts are right, that she can’t really trust anyone, even the kindest of humans, even ones telling her she’s her friend. 

 

Possibly, even Kara, no matter what The Keeper encouraged or told her.

 

But the longer Nia talks, the wilder her statements get, and Lena realizes the younger woman doesn’t know anything, that Brainy hasn’t told her, that she’s just fishing.

 

But if she’s fishing then she has to suspect something… 

 

“I’m a nervous flyer and I can’t remember exactly how it goes and I should remember, I mean, my mother took us to church like every Sunday, did you go to church? Do you remember it?” 

 

“I didn’t go to church,” Lena states and she’s pretty sure if she ever stepped foot into one she’d be destroyed on the spot. Well, depending on the church. Not all were built the same, not all stood on the right holy ground, not all held the same power and the same belief. 

 

Because that’s what it came down to, ultimately, belief in the power, a small little church in some backwoods town could repel her just as easily as a large cathedral in Rome. Even without any holy objects, any occult runes, ancient spells. 

 

Sometimes, the belief was enough.

 

“Right, so you don’t know it, does it start with God?” And Lena doesn’t miss the way Nia stares at her as she says it, “Christ or something like that? Christo? Is it in Latin? Do you speak Latin?” 

 

Lena stands a little taller and braces as she answers, “I think it starts with Our Father who art in Heaven.” And she knows it’s not the same as saying the big name, something she could do if she wanted to, it doesn’t burn or leave some awful taste in her mouth like it does the lesser demons who couldn’t have even managed that first sentence. And she knows that a part of her has always been a little bit better at passing this test, something her mother forced her to learn so when she did collect souls any sort of zealot wouldn’t suspect her - but there’s a deeper part of her that wonders why she’s so easily capable of it, why even her own brother struggles with the full prayer when she could keep going. 

 

She thinks about the books The Keeper has, she thinks that he encouraged her to find some sort of happiness and why would he do that? Why would he care if a demon finds some sort of happiness? Why can she even be capable of happiness? 

 

She thinks of her own book and she wonders if there’s something in there that could explain just why she can walk through worlds she’s not meant to - where others that are supposedly her find fall apart in?

 

She wonders if maybe that’s the answer to who she is, who she wants to be, if it holds something more she needs to figure herself out. 

 

But if it tells her who she is, then does that really mean she’s figured it out at all? Does that mean she’s deciding who she wants to be or is she just following something else telling her who she is? 

 

And the questions are metaphorical and nonsensical because she’d never be allowed to see it anyway, she’ll probably never see The Keeper again, but the questions still linger. 

 

Until she’s pulled back to the conversation she’s currently having, as Nia huffs, “Stupid internet,” and then she’s clearing her throat and not so subtly asking, “So I heard you and Kara woke up on the couch together? What’s the deal with that? Anything you want to…spill?” 

 

And Lena struggles to find the words, chokes on excuses and memories and tries not to blush as she answers the interrogation with a mumbled, “Nothing. No. We’re friends. I fell asleep…did she tell you about the…nothing. No deal. No spilling.” 

 

Something about the answer must satisfy Nia because all she does is nod and wink and say, “Understood,” before she’s pushing ahead through security without even a glance back. 

 

“What’s going on with her? Is there a reason she’s so focused on me?” Lena asks as Kara falls into step with her, staring at the retreating woman’s back, a hard line to her jaw that has Lena questioning the entire situation even further, whether or not Kara might suspect something as well, whether her earlier question about possession had a deeper meaning besides curiosity. 

 

And if she does suspect something, if there was a reason for the question, why isn’t she running? Why is she still walking side by side with her? Why isn’t she terrified? 

 

Because she should be, right? 

 

She should be screaming. She should be trying to find a priest to banish her. She should be doing something, anything, besides just standing next to her like it’s any other day in an airport. 

 

She’s terrified of ghosts and creaking floors and wind…an actual demon should by all rights send her into cardiac arrest. 

 

But Kara still walks side by side with her and all she does is shake her head as she tries to laugh off Lena’s question about Nia. And it’s awkward as she fidgets and doesn’t really answer the question. 

 

She just does a half, “That’s just…Nia…being…” And then she, too, is heading towards security without another word. 

 

And Lena just stares at her as she gets in line like she’s waiting for any kind of explanation, like this might be the beginning of the running part. And maybe she is waiting for it. Maybe she wants Kara to ask, because maybe that’ll make it easier, make it less her fault if Kara freaks out. 

 

Maybe she wants Kara to bring it up so she doesn’t have to, because a part of her really does want to tell Kara everything, no matter how much she denies it. No matter how much she fears it. 

 

She wants Kara to know. 

 

She wants to take pride in the fact she sent a murderous clown ghost as far away from Kara as it could get. And if Kara looks at her with that special something in her eyes…Lena wants that too, wants it to mean exactly what it should and be reserved just for her. 

 

She wants to tell Kara that when she said she’d protect her she really meant it in every way she could.

 

She wants to hope that Kara feels whatever it is that Lena is. That she doesn’t care what Lena is. That should The Keeper be right, and she knows he is, that they can have some piece of bitter happiness before…

 

Before she has to ask about Clark, before she has to truly put the pieces together, before Sam returns and they have to stop her brother. 

 

Before she protects Kara one final time. Before Lex takes it from her like he takes all things.

 

Lena watches Kara fidget with her hands, watches her let people pass her in the security line as she glances back at Lena, waiting, asking, “Are you coming?” Her eyes wide and hopeful and so bright it has Lena choking on her own heartbeat. 

 

Because even if she knows, she still looks at her with bright eyes, and Lena knows…

 

Whoever she is, whoever she’s becoming or whoever she wants to be. That person is in love with Kara Danvers. 

 

And Kara deserves the truth, all of it, most of it, enough to let Kara decide how she wants to proceed with whatever it is that look means. Whatever Lena hopes it means. 

 

She decides, definitively, that she’ll tell Kara once they’re home. She’ll bring her her favorite food, they’ll be somewhere neutral, somewhere that Kara doesn’t feel cornered, or like she doesn’t have an escape, and Lena will just tell her everything. 

 

And whatever happens after…happens.

 

But for now, Lena just nods and follows and meets Kara in the security line. And as they stand side by side, as they shuffle towards the metal detector and the bag check, she ignores the tiny space between their hands that she wants to reach through to take Kara’s hand in her own and hold it tight and close for as long as she’s allowed. 

 

She doesn’t see the involuntary flex of Kara’s hand like she’s fighting the same battle, like she wants to reach too. 

 

She doesn’t see Nia watching them from behind security, a raised eyebrow as she does. 

 

And she doesn’t hear Nia say to Brainy, annoyed, as she mutters, “They’re ridiculous.” 

 

“I know,” Brainy responds without even looking. 

 

---

 

Kara loses the hand holding battle. 

 

It’s not intentional. She’s not even really consciously aware that she reaches…she just does it. 

 

Lena’s hand taps hers accidentally as they move through the line like herded cattle and before Kara can really think about it, she’s turning her hand and taking Lena’s into her own - their fingers knotting together like they were always meant to fit perfectly. 

 

And Kara could spend hours thinking about it, days really, waxing on and on about how perfectly their hands fit, what it could all mean, if they were specifically meant to fit, to hold each other, but she can’t really think about anything because…

 

She’s holding Lena’s hand and Lena isn’t pulling away, Lena isn’t freaking out, they’re just…

 

Holding hands. And it’s wonderful. It’s great. 

 

And Kara knows, deep down, that she’s holding an actual demon's hand, that she’s holding a demon’s hand in the middle of an airport security line, under fluorescent lights and amidst annoyed travelers who have no patience and keep shoving her forward even when she has nowhere to go. 

 

And the entire situation would be downright laughable nonsense, except…

 

She’s not thinking about any of it. Because she’s holding Lena’s hand and it’s the only thing she can think about. 

 

Lena’s hand and that cinnamon and Earth smell that seems just out of reach and too far away because Lena isn’t close enough and the airport smells like an airport - a mix of coffee and overpriced breakfast sandwiches and magazines and books and every other person there.

 

But all she feels is Lena. 

 

Lena seems to realize they’re holding hands because she looks down and then she looks at Kara and it takes all of Kara’s willpower to not just kiss her then and there, to not just tell her that she knows, that it’s okay, that she can just talk about everything, with some additional questions because Kara does have questions, but how do you tell someone you think they’re a demon in the middle of an airport security line? How do you tell them you’re totally fine with it in the middle of an airport? 

 

You don’t. Because you will be called a crazy person and the security will take you away. 

 

And throw in a confession of feelings into the mix and it’s a perfect storm of something that will for sure get her arrested and put on the nightly news and promptly fired from her job and never be allowed on another plane ever again. 

 

So Kara says nothing. She just stares and Lena stares back and it’s like the entire world is quiet, like everything is silent and it’s just them. 

 

“You know I trust you, right?” Kara says, her voice shaky and quiet, the noise around them threatening to drown it out and Lena just stares at her, takes the words for what they are and Kara hopes that Lena knows what she really means, knows that she does mean it when she says she trusts her, knows how much she means it. 

 

“Why?” Lena asks and Kara thinks she should have written out a list, should have thought of what she would say next but she thinks of too many reasons and not enough. 

 

“I just do,” is all she manages to say before the line is moving. 

 

A loud voice booms, “NEXT!” And it’s their turn. 

 

Lena drops her hand and Kara pushes forward without thinking about how much she misses it, without taking it again and pulling Lena with her when it’s all she wants to do. 

 

But she knows Lena follows her anyway. 

 

“Ma’am you can’t bring a water bottle in here,” one of the security guards says and Kara jumps as she suddenly remembers the water bottle in her carry on. 

 

“Oh, right, sorry, I’ll just throw it out…” and before she even registers what’s happening, Lena is taking it from her with a choked out, “Actually I could use some water.” And Lena doesn’t register the warmth of the bottle, the stillness of the liquid, the lack of anything fresh about it. 

 

It’s only when Kara sees Nia stiffen as she watches them through security, only when Lena is unscrewing the cap that she even remembers just what the water is. What it could do. 

 

Lena takes a large swig and chokes, coughing violently after it hits her throat.

 

Kara stares as Nia points and Brainy glances between Nia and Kara and puts it together. 

 

There’s an entire silent revelation that happens between the three of them as Lena chokes on water that may be specifically blessed to send her back to Hell or do her some kind of harm and they’re all staring and pointing in the middle of the security line and it’s still loud and normal all around them but not a single one of them feels normal or can hear the noise outside of Lena coughing.

 

Kara is at her side, wondering if she may have inadvertently proven something she didn’t want to prove anymore. Something she was waiting for Lena to tell her and hoping she could get her practiced response of, ‘cool, cool cool cool’ in because she hasn’t thought of anything else she might say or how to say it and that’s about the only thing she can think of in terms of any sort of speech that also can turn into a confession and apology because she’s figured it out days ago and was waiting for Lena to just tell her.

 

There’s a whole other scenario she imagines where she gets to kiss Lena before the ‘cool, cool, cool’ part and then again after, but she’s pretty sure that one might be more a fantasy than she truly wants to admit - however hopeful she might be that it won’t just be imagined. 

 

“Are you okay?” She asks as Lena grimaces in disgust and hands the bottle back to Kara. 

 

“This is disgusting. It tastes like old mud and sweat. What is this?” 

 

“I think it’s like Mineral water,” Kara lies, staring at Lena like she’s waiting for her to melt or start steaming or growling and speaking in tongues - anything that she’s seen in the movies. 

 

“Where did you get this from?”

 

“I think Nia got it off the internet,” Kara adds, staring at Lena with much more worry than anyone coughing on a bottle of water should get. And Lena gives her a look that is both confused at Kara’s terrified reaction and still disgusted by what she just drank and Kara once again just wants to admit everything, right here, in the security line and give her a hug if she wants it, but…

 

She manages to contain herself. 

 

Lena glances to where Nia stands, where she watches with a terrified expression, one that contains genuine fear and an expectancy in it, then back to Kara whose worry is it’s own kind of fear, one of danger, and she has more questions than the one she asks. 

 

“Why?”

 

“Health benefits. I’ll just throw it out.” And Kara does and stares at Nia whose face has sunk even as she and Brainy still stare and have an entirely silent accusatory conversation between them.

 

“I think someone scammed you,” Lena states to Nia after passing through security, “You should rethink where you get your products from.”

 

“Clearly,” Nia answers, crossing her arms and following Brainy as they head further into the airport, towards their gate. 

 

Kara breathes a sigh of relief and for a moment everything settles and feels normal and Kara thinks that maybe they can all just pretend it didn’t happen until…

 

Brainy glances at her, the same notes of suspicion on his face that he shared with Nia and she knows he knows that she knows.

 

“So…” Brainy starts, falling into step with her as Nia stops to get an actual bottle of water at a store.

 

“So…” Kara adds.

 

“Should be an interesting episode,” he tells her as Lena browses through the books, “Even without the Holy Water.” 

 

Kara pulls him towards the coffee shop across the way. 

 

“What do you know?” Kara asks as they stand in front of the line, not quite getting in it, but not quite out of the way.

 

“What do you know?” Brainy returns, crossing his arms. 

 

“Nothing,” Kara responds, “Nothing that I’ve been told for sure and I’m waiting to be told that nothing of which I know about which is nothing.” 

 

“Okay.”

 

“Unless you knew something that I needed to know for like safety purposes,” Kara tries. 

 

“If that were the case I’m sure the safety is covered, it was covered in Arkham, one poltergeist won’t change that.” 

 

“Nia might change that.”

 

“Nia can be reasoned with.”

 

“Not by me.”

 

“Well it’s not for me to give her the reasons she needs to be reasoned with,” Brainy states. And Kara tries to find a way to argue, to tell him that someone is going to have to reason with Nia because it’s only going to get worse.

 

“She’s not going to give up.” 

 

“I think her focus is changing.” 

 

“What does that mean?” Kara asks, not quite understanding. 

 

“She saw you hold Lena’s hand,” he remarks and Kara wishes she had her own bottle of water with how dry her throat has suddenly become. 

 

“Kara?! Brainy?!” Nia shouts and they make a silent agreement.

 

“I’ll try to talk to her,” Brainy states before turning to greet Nia as she hands him a bag of M & M’s from the same store she bought the water at. She hands Lena another bottle of water when Lena shows up, a book in her hand. 

 

“It’s not from the internet, I promise. It’s an apology for the crappy water.” 

 

And Lena just takes the water, takes the offered apology and understands the meaning behind it. Kara feels a sense of relief as Lena sips it and doesn’t cough or choke, feels herself able to take a breath the longer in Lena’s presence she is. 

 

Until whatever meaning the water held drops with Nia’s growing smile. 

 

“And this, is a pre-emptive apology.” Nia hands Kara a bag of chips.

 

“For what?” Kara asks.

 

Nia fakes a sigh and a frown, “Unfortunately, there’s been a slight change to the rooming situation.”

 

“What change?” Brainy asks and there’s no mistaking the warning tone but Nia just smugly smiles and continues anyway, pulling out her phone like she’s reading an official e-mail that she needs to remember the information. 

 

“Well unfortunately the third room was canceled so you and I are going to have to share the double and Lena and Kara are going to have to share the single.” 

 

“What?! Why?! Not that I don’t mind sharing, but…why?!” Kara shouts in the middle of the airport, her throat somehow even dryer than before. She should get water for herself or maybe Lena will share, no she can’t share Lena’s water, that’s like…swapping spit without the fun and…

 

Kara can’t think anymore once her mind circles there. Thankfully, Lena manages to stay on topic and bring her back to reality. 

 

“No, I'm with you. Why do we have the single bed?!” Lena asks, her voice more nervous than it should be, and she recognizes it, understands that it’s not like she and Kara haven’t shared a bed, or a couch, but…there’s something more to it, something she can feel building, something that is connecting… 

 

Something Kara feels just as much as she knows Lena does. Something larger than them that as much as they both want, they both fear, because there’s no going back after it.

 

Nia just shrugs, seemingly ignorant and uncaring of the tension they’re trying not to address. 

 

“Because I made the reservations and I picked the rooms.”

 

“Aren’t you two dating?! Why don’t you share the single?!” Kara accuses, her voice equally as frantic and nervous, her hands moving as she talks. 

 

Both Brainy and Nia take a subtle step away from each other as they both try not to blush.

 

“Because the double is a larger room and Brainy has camera equipment that we are currently hoping doesn’t get lost on the flight. And because I made the reservations and I said so and how do you even know we are there yet in our relationship? Come on Brainy, let's go take pictures of the planes.” She grabs him by the hand, face still a little red, and they walk away. 

 

“Can we also have a conversation about whatever chaotic being has possessed my girlfriend?” He asks as she pulls him along with her. 

 

She laughs, forced and loud, “Oh you want to have a conversation about potential possessions, sure!” 

 

And that’s the last thing Kara and Lena hear as the two leave their peripheral and it’s just the sounds of the airport around them, of reunions and departures, of delays and shopping, coffee brewing and loud phone conversations and rolling bags and shoes running along the floors trying to catch their flights. 

 

Kara stares at Lena and takes a breath, trying to ignore the sudden want to pull Lena close, to hug her tight for no reason at all, to touch her. 

 

And a part of her had truly been terrified by the prospect of some water doing damage to the woman in front of her, of hurting her, of something happening that could send Lena away. 

 

But there’s more to the sudden shredding of her nerves, more to the fear at the idea of being in the same room, under the safe blanket of darkness…

 

Secrets that could come out. 

 

And Kara doesn’t mean Lena’s. She means hers. What she knows. What she’s feeling. All of what she’s feeling and what the past week has been…

 

She flexes her hand involuntarily, remembering the feeling of Lena’s hand in hers, the feeling of Lena’s colder skin against her too warm skin, the contact that seemed to draw her in and balance her, that felt right and perfect. Safe. 

 

Inevitable.

 

And she just wants it again, wants more, wants her closer. 

 

Her throat is too dry when she thinks about being in the same bed with all the thoughts swirling in her head. 

 

“What was that all about?” Lena asks, her own voice dry and too quiet as she points to Brainy and Nia as they keep walking away, the pair talking mostly with their hands at a furious speed. 

 

And it’s the way Lena looks at her that has Kara stuttering, that has her not sure how she wants to say it. So she just shrugs. 

 

“Couple stuff. Are you fine with us sharing? I mean, I don’t mind. I didn’t mean for it to sound like I mind. I just know you like your space, so…” 

 

“It’s fine. It’s…I’ll be honest I haven’t been sleeping well, that’s not true, I’ve been overly tired this past week, maybe I’ll finally…rest…” And there’s something in the pause, in the deeper meaning, that has Kara’s breath hitching in her throat, something that sounds like an implication, something that her brain is making sound like an implication because she might want it to be an implication and she really needs to stop thinking of the word implication…

 

“Right. That’s funny, I haven’t been sleeping at all and I’m like losing my mind or I was…I think it was just Arkham Curse Madness…or the internet making me worse…lot of weird theories…”

 

“I’ve told you, Arkham Madness is not a thing. Places can’t curse you, especially not Arkham. I wouldn’t…” And Lena catches herself, feels a confession before it can really pour out, feels herself claiming ownership of not letting Kara get any remnants of darkness from Arkham because she wouldn’t allow it because of what she already destroyed when she was in there. 

 

And it’s in this moment that it truly clicks with her, how sleepless and how utterly awful the two of them look compared to the beginning of the week, compared to the day before and how things that were so off balance have suddenly snapped into place the longer they’ve been in each other’s presence. 

 

And she thinks maybe she should just tell her now, maybe The Keeper was right when he said a little bit of happiness is better than none and that maybe Kara already suspects something by the way she’s looking at her…warmly and like she’s waiting…

 

Just waiting…

 

And she remembers Kara starting to say something on the balcony, remembers a cousin in Metropolis and questions that surround this woman standing in front of her, questions she desperately wants answers to…that she can’t get if she doesn’t start delivering her own answers…and she wants to give them, wants to just have this entire conversation with Kara…she wants it so desperately…

 

Almost as desperately as she wants to kiss her…

 

“What were the weird theories?” Lena asks, clearing her throat and trying not to think of Kara in the same bed as her, Kara with her kissable mouth and bright eyes staring at her in the middle of the airport. 

 

She’s not sure why the question emerges, she’s not sure what she hopes to gain or if it’ll make it any easier but she’s looking for the right way in, the right way to transition into the conversation she knows waits in their future if not in this moment…

 

And Kara waves her hands, laughs, frantically strings her words together in an obvious lie.

 

“Oh just…Phantom Zone stuff…are you hungry? Do you want a coffee? I’m going to go get a coffee…” Kara says before she’s hurrying towards the Starbucks in an attempt to escape her own racing thoughts and Lena looking at her and the sudden desire to confess everything and then hold Lena’s hand again and run the other hand not holding Lena’s through her hair as she kisses her. 

 

She really needs to get a grip.

 

Lena watches her half run to the Starbucks and wonders how much caffeine is too much for a human person to consume and whether or not she should stop Kara from drinking it before realizing she was just about to tell Kara everything in the middle of an airport on the way to some town in Kentucky where they’re about to investigate a bar haunted by a poltergeist and…



And then she remembers that they’re going to be sharing a hotel room later in the night and she recalls a couch earlier in the week, recalls waking up with Kara and…

 

She might not survive the night. Maybe the poltergeist can knock her out and she won’t have to be aware of how close Kara will be. 

 

How close she wants her to be.

 

---

 

And as if sharing a bed later wasn’t enough, because the universe surely seems to be trying to torture her despite the earlier warning Kara had given her…

 

Kara falls asleep on her shoulder during the flight and Lena has to resist kissing her on the forehead and leaning into her…

 

She’s surrounded by Kara without being surrounded by her and it’s only adding another layer to whatever frustration she’s starting to feel. Whatever tension is seeping into her bones and shoulders that she has to remember to relax so Kara can be comfortable sleeping on one.

 

And Lena was going to read her book, was going to finally get around to seeing what all the fuss was about in regards to The Great Gatsby, but…

 

Kara falls asleep on her shoulder and she can’t exactly turn pages in case she disturbs her so instead she borrows the headphones Kara had offered her no less than fifteen times before takeoff and finds an in-flight movie to watch. 

 

Ghostbusters. 

 

Ironic. 

 

She finds she enjoys it all the same, even if she can barely pay attention to it, because Kara shifts her head and sighs and her breath hits Lena’s neck and she’s suddenly burning. 

 

Lena tries to take deep breaths, remembers she’s on a flight, surrounded by people, and she can’t exactly lean into the face that her entire body seems to be screaming to take Kara into the nearest bathroom and confess and kiss her and more. 

 

She tries to watch Bill Murray investigate Sigourney Weaver’s house and ignores that Kara has somehow managed to get closer as she sleeps.

 

There’s still an armrest between them, blocking her from fully pushing herself into Lena, cuddling as close as she seems to want to. 

 

But her mouth is still centimeters from Lena’s neck as her forehead knocks into her chin and Lena can see that there’s no way this is comfortable for Kara. That she’s going to wake up with some sort of bruise from the armrest on her side and it’s not like she’s trying to pull Kara close and cuddle her on the flight while she sleeps, it’s not like she wants to be those people, but…

 

Seeing Kara in that uncomfortable position really leaves her no choice. 

 

She lifts the armrest between them and lets Kara manage to cuddle closer, deep and blissfully unaware of what is happening to Lena as her mouth ghosts over Lena’s skin before it closes shut.

 

Lena thinks her heart might burst with the contact. 

 

Kara’s now free arm that had been blocked by the armrest hooks into Lena’s arm and pulls her close like she’s some sort of stuffed animal, her hand closing tightly around Lena’s like she’s angry it had ever left her grasp. 

 

Her other arm swings over and wraps around Lena’s waist as she sighs deeply in her sleep and then she’s no longer shifting or moving. She’s just sleeping. 

 

Lena feels herself settle, letting the burning in her skin fade into a simmer as she focuses on the movie and not on the warm vanilla scent that is engulfing her that she wants to taste so badly it hurts. 

 

By the time Kara wakes up and they land, Lena has managed to watch the movie and not disturb her as she downed enough water to drown out a forest fire all in a vain attempt to kill the thirst for something else.

 

She hopes she doesn’t give it away when she just smiles softly as Kara blinks the sleep from her eyes, unaware and apparently undisturbed by how close she is to Lena. 

 

Lena tries to ignore the way her heart flips when Kara smiles back at her, her voice thick from sleep as she says, “I can’t believe I slept the whole flight.”

 

“I guess you needed it.” 

 

She nods in agreement as Kara pulls away and Lena fights down the urge to pull her back. Kara’s hand never leaves hers even as Lena gives her back the headphones with a quiet, “Thanks for letting me borrow them.” 

 

“We can share next time.” 

 

Next time…

 

It’s so innocuous and innocent and caring but Lena knows there’s an end-date on their friendship, on her life. How many next times will there actually be, how many next times will she spend trying to ask a question, trying to say the truth, trying to ignore this thing that’s taking hold of her heart and her body all in it’s want for Kara?

 

Next time…

 

How many more ‘next times’ are left?

 

How many more investigations? How many more times will Kara fall asleep next to her? Or hold her hand?

 

Because once Lena tells her it’s over, the investigations, the show and possibly Kara’s future, all thrown in jeopardy. And when Lex comes calling…that’s the end for Lena…forever.

 

This could be the last investigation, the finale of their show…the last time the two of them are just like this…close and yet not close enough…

 

They may never be close enough. 

 

But Lena can live with this if it means she can hold onto it when she dies, when she saves Kara from Lex. 

 

And she hopes Kara can hold onto something good as well. 

 

This final episode has to be that something good, has to be a good memory for Kara to keep, even if she’s terrified of the place. 

 

Lena will make it a good final bow. A good last memory of a time when they had been friends when Kara eventually hates her. 

 

But for now she just lets Kara continue to hold her hand, running a thumb over her knuckles and ignoring the heavy swallow Kara takes as she does. Trying not to further wonder if she can affect Kara just as much as Kara can affect her, trying to resist exploring it as they wait to be told they can exit the plane.

 

---

 

They get their bags as Nia takes picture after picture. 

 

“Huddle up, together,” she orders as Kara and Lena both stare at her, not having any of it between traveling and their own internal battles, and she just puts her phone away. 

 

“Fine, we’ll just take that one at The Phantom Zone then.” 

 

Nia catches up to Lena as they gather the rest of Brainy’s camera equipment and the rental van arrives. 

 

“Hey, I just wanted to say I’m sorry if I’ve been…I’m sorry for how I’ve been acting. It was…not cool,” Nia adds and then, before Lena can say anything, throws in, “It’s just…Kara really cares about you and she believes in you, like a lot, and…don’t give her a reason not to or a reason for me to prove her wrong.” 

 

Nia doesn’t really give Lena enough time to formulate a response, because she’s hurrying to catch up with Brainy, linking their hands as they walk to the van like he’s a lifeline that will protect her. 

 

Brainy glances from their joined hands with a small smile before glancing back to Lena and a Kara trailing behind her, lost in her own thoughts. 

 

Lena follows his glance and she falls into step with Kara. 

 

“Are you nervous?” Lena asks and Kara jumps almost involuntarily, “About the investigation…” And Lena isn’t sure why she needs to add the clarification, why that wouldn’t be the only thing Kara was nervous about, why it seems like she’s talking about the hotel and other things she’s not talking about and suddenly is trying very hard not to think about…

 

“Oh…no actually, I was just thinking about something else.” Kara fidgets with her bag and her hands, “Did Nia say something to you?” 

 

Lena tries not to read into the worried glance in Kara’s eyes, tries not to dig into the meaning of Nia’s words, the warning…

 

“About what?” Lena asks, raising an eyebrow. 

 

“Just about…stuff…” Kara winces and can’t look Lena in the eyes, fidgets with her hands again, with the strap of the bag thrown over her shoulder.

 

And Lena wonders, between Nia and Kara’s reaction…

 

Lena knows that Kara isn’t stupid, Brainy has told her before and she’s seen it firsthand. Kara isn’t stupid. She can find a thread and pull and pull until she gets to the truth. 

 

But there’s no way she’s gotten to THAT truth. She’s been careful and most humans wouldn’t jump to that answer out the gate…

 

Most humans are not Kara, Lena tells herself. But Kara is terrified of things that are like her. And she isn’t reacting in any way that Lena would expect her to. 



She can’t know. 

 

Nia was just warning her about…what? Feelings? Feelings Kara might also have for her? Feelings that Lena is most assuredly losing a battle against controlling. Feelings that are most definitely going to become a problem sooner rather than later. 

 

Feelings she thought she had been doing a fairly solid job of keeping boxed up in a place reserved for her deepest and not so darkest thoughts, but that the woman standing in front of her seems to be able to tear open without even trying. 

 

“Well, I don’t know what stuff means, but she was just asking me about promotional pictures for the episode. Is there something else you want to talk to me about? Something that’s bothering you?” Lena searches Kara’s expression, watches the way her shoulder tightens and she wonders if she took Kara’s hand right now, would Kara hold onto it just as tightly as she had on the plane, would she not want to let it go again and be upset when they were forced to.  

 

She wants to reach, she wants to take her hand, remembers other touches and Kara taking her hand first, remembers shared food and coffee and something that seems to be just under the surface of their friendship, something that is not going away and is only growing. 

 

And Nia sees it. The world sees it and has since the first episode. 

 

Lex sees it. 

 

Lena doesn’t take Kara’s hand. Because in the end, if she hates her, if there is no happiness, despite what The Keeper had told her, it’ll be worse to have held it and lost it than to have never held it at all. 

 

Kara says, “Oh no…nothing…I’m fine…just ghost stuff…” and she  waves her hand before she follows the group and Lena follows her with questions about feelings and tension and happiness and temporary joy and cousins and evil brothers and the want to confess the truth swirling around her mind like a muddied bottle of mineral water. 

 

She doesn’t have a chance to really talk to Kara or ask her about anything further because they’re in the rental van, hustled to the hotel where, true to the previous warning, Kara and Lena are both given the King size single room while Brainy and Nia take the double. 

 

“So do you have a side preference?” Kara asks as she drops her bags in the middle of the room and stares at the bed like it’s going to suddenly sprout eyes and a mouth and start talking. 

 

Lena shakes her head and they both just seem to naturally decide on their respective sides without really talking about it. 

 

Without really talking about anything. 

 

And they’re too quiet as the air conditioner hums and they both take their turns in the bathroom to get changed and refresh before they have to leave to film the episode. 

 

There’s not enough time to truly grasp the surroundings and the silence and the actual concept of willingly and not accidentally falling asleep in the same bed later because they’re given a strict schedule of an hour to drop everything off and refresh before they’re back in the van and off to get something quick to eat and then they’re at The Phantom Zone as night falls. 

 

And it’s the first time on any one of these that Kara is least afraid or worried about anything supernatural, about anything other than the other thoughts she’s worrying over, the thoughts about Lena, about her own feelings for her, about what might come out later in the dark, about anything else but the actual ghost and haunted investigation they’re about to embark on…

 

Even when they’re standing in a dirt parking lot outside a dark bar on an equally dark and quiet street with only the sounds of crickets and cars in the distance around them. 

 

Kara has to fake any notes of fear. And she knows she should be scared, she should be freaking out, standing outside an obviously haunted bar but…

 

She’s just not. 

 

“Why is it so far away from the city?” Kara asks, “There’s just nothing around it…”

 

“Well we would all like to live in the big city, Kara,” Lena teases and Kara fixes her with a look that has her laughing. 

 

“Wait, hang on, I have to get the picture, stand together, look scared and not,” Nia orders as she holds up her phone and Kara and Lena do something that works for Nia, a pose that has Kara trying to fake some growing fear and Lena just looking at her. 

 

“Perfect,” Nia states, “That’s the poster for the streaming marathon right there.” And she knows it’s only going to fuel that shipping hashtag she’s been tracking but not sharing, but she can’t resist saying, “You two look really cute together outside this haunted bar that I will not be going in, so have fun.” 

 

She pats Brainy on the back and goes back to waiting in the van, leaving the other three to deal with whatever comes next.

 

“Are you scared?” Lena asks in a joking tone as they approach the door.

 

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Kara asks in return - her voice measured and trying to be just as sarcastic back. 

 

“No,” Lena lies. 

 

“I’m terrified,” Kara lies back. 

 

---

 

They stand outside the door to the Phantom Zone, Brainy behind them already filming as Kara points to the door. 

 

“After you…” 

 

“You know, we do this every time, where you act like it’s some big deal but…I’ll just open it,” Lena states as she pushes open the door and does a little half hesitation before she just walks in without a second thought. Kara behind her, smiling. 

 

As soon as they’re inside there’s a deep quiet that settles around them.

 

And Lena knows about poltergeists, knows they can be more of a nuisance, albeit a powerful one, and the second she steps into the colorful bar with it’s stickered stars and disco ball ceiling, she can already feel it lurking in the walls - waiting to make its presence known as it watches. 

 

“That’s the sign I was talking about,” Kara points to a disclaimer hanging above the bar, a sign that reads, ‘Note: The Phantom Zone is not responsible for any bites, scratches, and general unease the spirits here may cause. Please respect them and they will respect you.’

 

“That’s cute.” 

 

“Obviously enough things have happened here that it warrants needing a disclaimer.” 

 

And it’s very much just a normal, albeit, old small-town bar with all the typical bar fare and tables whose chairs are still flipped over after closing. The wooden floors creak a little, but otherwise there’s nothing particularly haunted or creepy about it - outside of the slight musty smell from the old wood worn down by decades of rain and a carpet that  looks like a cross between an old roller rink and bowling alley that she’s sure needs to be replaced.

 

“Oh a jukebox!” Kara announces, practically running towards it. And Lena watches her, watches a sincere lack of hesitation as she moves through the bar and it only makes her suspicious. 

 

Why isn’t Kara afraid? 

 

“Really?” Lena asks as Kara leans on the machine and flips through the music. 

 

“Do you have any quarters? They have Fleetwood Mac!” 

 

“No, I don’t have any quarters, can we focus on what we came here to do? You know, a ghost investigation or do you no longer fear haunted bars?” 

 

Kara seems to remember where they are. And it takes her a minute to realize she hasn’t been all that scared because of Lena. Because Lena is right there. 

 

But…

 

She looks around at the darkened bar, its side rooms left unexplored, the main bar quiet and still and dark and it hits her. 

 

Even if Lena is right there, even if she can drive away something bad, there’s no guarantee and that doesn’t mean that the idea of a poltergeist, or something equally spooky showing up doesn’t freak her out enough to…

 

Her flashlight accidentally shines on the disco ball hanging above a makeshift dance floor and she jumps at the illumination. 

 

Lena laughs and it’s a cross between a snort and the genuine laugh Kara knows is the same one from Swift Street and she’s momentarily caught between listening to it and trying to gather herself from the sudden jolt. 

 

Even without actually knowing, without Lena telling her, Kara can feel the dynamic shift because she isn’t sure if she should be scared or not, if Lena is protecting her and just pretending that ghosts aren’t real, or if there's nothing to fear but dust and creaking floors and accidentally illuminated disco balls. 

 

A part of her wishes she could just ask, but she knows she can’t exactly open that can of worms right here, right now. 

 

Especially not with Brainy filming everything. 

 

She takes a breath and steadies her nerves before she too finds it in her to laugh it off.

 

“I can’t believe the stupid light got me.” 

 

Lena’s smile never fades as she watches Kara pull up a chair to the bar. 

 

“Alright, lets go over the poltergeist and The Phantom Zone and then let’s do this investigation and then maybe we can put some quarters in the jukebox and then we can go.” 

 

The jukebox flips on. 

 

Kara sits up and points to it then smacks Brainy to catch it on camera and she’s fairly certain Lena can’t deny that, can’t not address that, can’t pretend to be a skeptic here with this. 

 

“You must have hit a button,” Lena states but she sees the pale figure retreating into the shadows with a laugh, catches the sight of hair that seems to be sticking up at odd angles as NSYNC’S Bye Bye Bye blares throughout the bar.

 

“That is undeniable evidence, I didn’t hit a button and if I did I needed money and…”

 

“It must be set to free and you couldn’t see it.” 

 

“No, it’s not! How can you ignore that?!” Kara argues as Brainy films. 

 

“Look, I’m not ignoring it, I’m just…giving alternatives, there must be a glitch.” 

 

“A ghost!” 

 

The jukebox flips off, the voices of beloved late 90’s - early 2000’s boy bands disappearing and leaving only Kara still singing to it. 

 

She realizes by Lena’s stare that she was singing and then she quiets, “Sorry, it’s a good song.” 

 

Lena hears another laugh, a mocking tone and she’s already annoyed at this imp playing it’s dumb haunting game. And as much as Lena knows she has a job to do, as much as it’s important for Kara to do this job, she also wants to get it done and out of the way as soon as possible. 

 

Because she has other things to worry about, more important things to think about, things like her brother and telling Kara the truth and ripping off this Band-Aid that is only going to get more painful the longer she hesitates and the more irritated she is. 

 

“So do you want to tell us about the supposed haunted bar with bad electrical wiring?” Lena asks, pointing to Kara as Brainy repositions the camera. 

 

“It’s not bad electrical wiring, honestly I can’t believe you would…” But Kara doesn’t complete the sentence or the thought, instead she opts for, “Deny that very clear evidence.” 

 

Lena shrugs, chalks Kara’s sudden stuttering and fumbling over her words as being creeped out even when Kara refuses to look at her, even when there’s a very real enunciation on the word ‘you’ and an equally annoyed tone to it that lacks any sort of fear, and Lena isn’t sure what that’s all about, why it’s been happening more and more often, why Kara looks like she wants to ask something, say something, why it makes Lena want to run as much as it makes her want to take Kara’s hands, let her ask and tell her the truth.

 

Why it feels like they’re both dancing around things left unspoken, things that they’re both hinting at, both trying to find the right words for, why it feels like they’re both keeping something close to the vest and desperately trying to hold onto it. 

 

Why it feels like they’re headed for some sort of fight with the way the air around them seems to tense and tighten, why they both seem to be holding bombs ready to explode and they’ve both hit the timer to start the countdown as they wait for the other to blink and pull the red wire first. 

 

She hears an annoyed scoff, a quiet, “Very clear evidence,” in a mimicking voice followed by a low grumble and her thoughts of Kara’s looks and bombs and tension and what she’s not saying falls to the side. 

 

She can’t help but feel a little satisfied at aggravating the poltergeist, at taking out some of her own frustration on this frustrating creature. 

 

In all of her existence, they are perhaps number one on the list of annoying ghosts/entities for her. So to piss this one off, it’s not making her unhappy. Especially when she gets to piss it off to keep it away from messing with Kara, even if a slightly scared Kara, not in danger, not too terrified, just scared enough that it’s fun, that it’s cute, is a Kara that Lena finds she enjoys a little more than she probably should. 

 

The Kara who clings, who jumps, who hides behind her and holds her hand and touches her and…

 

Lena pulls herself from the spiral that is thinking about all the things she likes about Kara, and all the versions of her she’s noticing and finding, and all the ways she wishes she would or could touch her and focuses instead back on the investigation…

 

On what could be their last investigation, she reminds herself.

 

Lena watches as Kara settles, glancing from the jukebox, like she’s waiting for it to click back on or for Lena to admit that there’s no way it could just do that, before she readies her notes with a loud and purposeful tapping of the pages. 

 

“I’m not going to say it was a ghost,” Lena teases, “You can tap your papers all you want, I won’t admit to anything.” 

 

“Yeah, we’ll see,” Kara returns, a smirk that Lena has never seen before crossing her features, a smirk that has Lena staring at Kara a little too hard, has her not so subtly wet her lips as she stares. 

 

Brainy clears his throat loudly. 

 

Lena turns back to the camera, shakes her head as Kara taps the papers once again with a precise glee and practice, the smirk turning into a full blown smile that has Lena rolling her eyes. 

 

“You’re ridiculous.” 

 

“I’m right.” 

 

“Let’s just…do your little notes thing…” Lena clears her throat and rubs her neck as she tries to steady herself despite the fact that all she wants to do is wipe the smile from Kara’s face, kiss the smirk until it’s gone, until her mouth is occupied and the only sound from it is her name. 

 

She grips the edge of the bar a little too tightly as she tries to bury down whatever is raging through her system, whatever she is losing control over. 

 

And it’s not like anything she has ever experienced in her entire existence. It’s not some attraction she can just temper down or act on, although it feels like by finally acknowledging her feelings her body is all too happy to remind her just how attracted to Kara she is, but it’s not just lust, there’s an element of something more nuanced and terrifying and life-changing to this, something that Lena has never felt before. 

 

Her entire being feels like it’s begging to kiss Kara. Just once. Like she’ll die without it. 

 

And she can’t do it. 

 

Even when Kara looks at her like that, even when it feels like Kara feels this too, like Kara wants her to, is challenging her to. 

 

She can’t. 

 

Because Kara doesn’t know who she is, what she is, what it could mean, what it will mean, how much more it will mean for Lena because she has never felt anything close to this before. And has never wanted like this before. 

 

She can’t act on it until she tells her and then…

 

Kara won’t want her. And whatever pain that causes won’t really matter, because at least then, Lena can stop Lex, at least then, she can save her so she can find someone she does want, at least then Kara will still be alive and Lena can die without really losing all that much. 

 

And if Lena could hear the thoughts raging through Kara’s head, could hear Kara’s heartbeat pounding just watching her hand rub her neck, could see her eyes swimming with something else, something that burns…

 

The telling Kara the truth part would be a whole lot easier…

 

And they’d probably have to make Nia and Brainy do the episode because they’d never leave their hotel room. 

 

Kara glances around the bar one last time, ignoring her own pounding heartbeat that has nothing to do with the bar and everything to do with whatever look had crossed Lena’s eyes the moment before and the watching of her hands and she unintentionally taps the papers on the bar once again. 

 

She tries not to think about Lena sitting close to her, tries not to think about how badly she wants to run her hand over Lena’s neck, tries to ignore that there’s definitely a poltergeist lurking and the million and one other reasons they should cancel this episode, one of which being so she could have the opportunity to just confess her freakout to Lena and hope Lena tells her the truth after she’s begged for forgiveness and then maybe she can finally kiss her and…

 

She really wants to kiss her. But she’s not sure Lena would want her to after she tells her about her personal investigation. 

 

And with the two of them sitting side by side, both of their thoughts sifting through confessions and truths and a desire for something they’re terrified of saying out loud to each other, that they think the other will hate them for…they both shove it all down and they try to do their jobs…

 

And the Phantom Zone investigation begins…

 

“Alright, let’s get into it…” Kara starts. 

 

---

 

“This week on Catco Investigates, we are here at The Phantom Zone, a bar that’s haunted by a poltergeist and that shares a dark history and may also be a portal to another dimension,” Kara begins in a spooky voice that has Lena shaking her head. 

 

“No. It’s not.” 

 

And Kara glances because she’s not sure if Lena is just playing the role for the show or if there is genuinely no portal. She knows there has to be a ghost, the jukebox wouldn’t just do that unless Lena did that for the show but…

 

No, that’s not what happened, is it? Has Lena been messing with her this entire time? 

 

She thinks of Arkham and knows there’s no way that was Lena, that couldn’t have been. Not when she had been so…something had happened to her in there that Kara had seen even as Lena denied it, as Lena pretended it hadn’t, like she’s pretending now. 

 

Kara files those questions for later, when she can actually ask them, if she can ever actually ask them.

 

“For those of you who don’t know, a poltergeist is an intelligent spirit that likes to play tricks and games and I have some plans to gather evidence, but first, let’s get into the history of this place.” 

 

Kara recants tales of bootlegging and mafia connections and one gruesome story involving a young man who had a toothache and came into the bar looking for the barber/dentist to pull it only to end up losing his head…literally.

 

“They did what?! How?! I’m sorry, what was this, Sweeney Todd?” Lena chokes after Kara tells the story. 

 

Kara just stares at her. 

 

“What?” 

 

She blinks, “You make a Sweeney Todd reference but until like two weeks ago you had never seen Twilight?” 

 

“You don’t need to bring that…I am familiar with classic Broadway musicals. I'm sorry I didn’t watch your vampire film until recently.” 

 

“It’s just, it was a cultural phenomenon, Lena, that you apparently completely missed.” 

 

“So was Sweeney Todd to be quite honest.” 

 

“I think you and I have different definitions of what a true cultural phenomenon is.” 

 

“I think you just don’t understand the power of Sondheim.” 

 

“I understand Sondheim, okay, I love musicals. But I wouldn’t call Sweeney Todd a cultural phenomenon.”

 

“We make a reference to it and people understand what it means, by definition, cultural relevance, hence phenomenon.” 

 

Kara shakes her head again. Lena stares at her. 

 

“What?” 

 

“Nothing,” Kara adds, trying not to file it away into the my crush is a demon file that has a subcategory of, she likes certain Broadway musicals, not surprising they are Stephen Sondheim, but has only recently seen Twilight - that Kara just puts into the overarching large file that is “things she knows and has learned and likes about Lena.” Her movie tastes and her lack of all encompassing pop-culture knowledge being one of them. 

 

And her denial of the supernatural even when she’s one of said supernatural, which is something that Kara really can’t figure out. 

 

“Seriously, what?” Lena asks again. 

 

“Seriously, nothing. I’m just…you were allowed Broadway musicals about people being killed and turned into meat pies in the Luthor home but fun vampire movies were a no?” 

 

Honestly Kara is starting to want to just outright ask her because at this point she has far more questions regarding what Lena was exactly allowed to watch in Hell, what Hell is like, if she is from Hell, if she has any favorite music, if she was allowed any favorite music and all other kinds of questions - some of which she kind of knows, some of which Lena told her in no specifics and some in which she sort of lied about, like Titanic and that ghosts aren’t real, all things that Kara now wants to learn about her all over again with the truth. 

 

Namely how she knows about Sweeney Todd but not Twilight, surely someone must have hated it enough to be subjected to it in Hell, right? Or maybe they just didn’t like Sweeney Todd. 

 

So many questions. No answers. And Kara is trying so hard not to break with her need to know everything. Her want to know everything and anything about Lena. 

 

And she finds it so different from her previous relationships. With Mike, yes, there had been the getting to know each other part, but outside of a few things she saved and kept, once she learned enough she found she didn’t need to learn anything else, there was no great new revelations with him, not that she didn’t care, not that she didn’t have her own special memory file of things he liked, she just didn’t need to know everything. 

 

With Lena, it’s different. It feels…stronger…like if she doesn’t know everything she’s failed some great test of her life. 

 

Each little thing feels important and special. 

 

Each moment with Lena carving out it’s own place on her heart, like a notch reserved for Lena to make on the vessel, like when old clockmakers would carve witness marks every time they made a repair, a signature to commemorate their work, to remind the world that they made sure the clock was still ticking. 

 

Lena makes sure her heart is still ticking, leaving her own witness marks with each smile, each piece of information about herself, each brush of her hand. 

 

Lena half smirks, half smiles as she states in a monotone, “Yes, we were. Cultural relevance and music study.” 

 

And while it feels like kind of a genuine, albeit not specific, answer to what Kara really wants to ask, she is left no more satisfied with the words. 

 

So Kara just decides it’s best to move on, because they can sit here all night and she will never get any closer to what she really wants to ask, to what she really hopes Lena will just tell her if maybe she drops enough hints, if maybe she knows it’s okay. 

 

She tries not to feel a little frustrated at that, tries not to let it eat at her, the things she doesn’t know yet, the things she wants to know, the truths they’re both hiding. 

 

She buries that feeling down and tries to get through this investigation, because they need to get through this and maybe later, maybe when it’s quiet and safe, Kara can just…

 

They can just…

 

Talk.

 

“I would argue the soundtrack to Twilight is worthy of all of those things but that sounds…no offense but, a boring as Hell way to enjoy any form of entertainment,” Kara states and then internally winces because subtle has never been her strongest suit even when she’s trying and she certainly has been trying. 

 

It had just slipped out. 

 

She has to fight down the words, ‘no pun intended,’ with all the strength it could take to wrestle a bear. 

 

“Why do people say that?” Lena asks and Kara blinks because this was not where she thought it was going. 

 

“Boring as Hell?” 

 

“Yes, isn’t the entirety of the fear of Hell supposed to be that it is the opposite of boring?” And it’s a logical question sure but Kara knows there’s a genuine offense to it, a genuine asking in it that isn’t just sarcasm and logic. 

 

She sees Brainy shrug in agreement as he steadies the camera. 

 

“Sure, but it’s like, boring sucks and so does Hell? Right? Like it all…sucks? That’s it’s big selling point?” And Kara looks at Lena and she tries not to make it sound like she’s genuinely asking, tries to be subtle, but she might as well just shout, ‘So you’re from Hell, right? What’s that like?’ for all the success she has in not making it obvious. 

 

It’s a wonder Lena hasn’t put it together yet, because even Brainy lets out the heaviest, most disappointed, sigh Kara has ever heard him emit. 

 

And if she’s figured it out she doesn’t say anything, she doesn’t give anything away, because…

 

There’s a long pause where all they do is stare at each other, where Kara is trying to find a way to change the subject, where she’s trying to not make it worse by changing the subject so aggressively it is so painfully clear that she is just asking Lena what Hell is like while also trying so so hard not to stare into Lena’s eyes, not to get lost in them, in her, and trying to avoid looking at her lips, her mouth and then back. 

 

She fails in the not looking department. 

 

She also finds her words failing her in the changing of the subject department. 

 

Another notch on her heart marked for Lena. 

 

Her brain is fried and tired and all but shut off at this point because Lena just keeps staring at her, like she’s trying to read her, see her. She glances down at Kara’s mouth and then back into her eyes and Kara feels like her heart must have skipped a beat because…

 

Was that real? Did Lena just do that? 

 

She thinks she might be reading into it, she might be wanting to read into it, but she has the briefest recollection of a shared couch and a shared look, of a moment on the balcony where she realized Lena might like her back, might have thought she was asking about it, and there’s a lot of other stuff and they’re going to share a room later and…oh no…oh right…they’re sharing a room later…

 

All Kara can imagine is her and Lena side by side, in the same bed, in the same room, and all she hears is her own self just outright asking in the dark, like a secret at a sleepover, confessing everything, hoping for the best, and all she sees is Lena running away…

 

Her whole world, her new reality, the notches on her heart falls apart and disappears without Lena…

 

And then it’s rebuilt, instantly when she speaks…

 

“I hear it’s supposed to,” Lena looks away from Kara, Kara’s brain restarting and booting up like a computer that went to sleep and now needs to reconnect to the internet. She blinks a few times and remembers where they are and what is happening. 

 

 Lena adds, “We’re off topic.” 

 

“Yes, we are,” and Kara is all too grateful for the save whether Lena is aware of it or not. All too grateful to move on, to bury down the other stuff they’re going to get to later, to bury down a different kind of frustration she’s trying not to think about, that she is, hopefully, also going to get to later. 

 

Because it’s all bubbling under the surface, like a pot about to boil over and she can only keep the lid on it for so long. 

 

Kara clears her throat and returns to her notes, “Which brings us to the major haunting of The Phantom Zone…the poltergeist.” 

 

Lena sees a shadow and hears a loud, “Ah!” like the poltergeist is trying to make an entrance, but she’s the only one who can see or hear it and she focuses on Kara rather than the shadow and watches it retreat and disappear with a grumble. 

 

“Rumors say if you look away from your drink the ghost moves it, and, sometimes, patrons say he takes their money.” 

 

“He takes their money? So he’s a thief?” 

 

“Yeah, pretty much,” Kara admits.

 

“Should we try the drink thing?” Lena asks and Kara shrugs.

 

A minute later they’re sitting at the bar with two freshly poured glasses and staring at them like they’re willing them to move. 

 

“What if we look away?” Kara asks and both she and Lena count to three and turn their heads, staring at the wall. 

 

“Hey ghosts! We have a glass here, you can move it. You can lift it up and smash it over my head.” 

 

“Oh my God, Lena,” Kara mutters, “Why do you have to resort to threats?” And Kara half-wonders if this is a tactic, if this is just something Lena does for show or if she genuinely is challenging them and laughing when they can’t. 

 

“Kara Danvers. I’m not threatening, I’m challenging,” Lena states.



Kara blinks, “Don’t use my full name! It’s going to hear it and then it’s going to follow me home!” 

 

Lena shakes her head, “No. It can’t.” 

 

And while Kara isn’t exactly happy about a ghost knowing her name, she’s a little bit relieved at Lena’s confident ‘no,’ as she adds, “It doesn’t know where you live and it doesn’t have the internet.” 

 

“And can’t leave…” Lena hears the poltergeist grumble from some distant place in the bar. 

 

“There’s only one Kara Danvers in National City!” 

 

“Well, now you’ve told him where you live.” 

 

“Dammit!” Kara yells and Lena bites down a laugh, “Why did I say that?” 

 

“Is there really only one Kara Danvers in National City?” 

 

“Yes! There’s only two in the world! The other one lives in Kaznia.” 

 

“You know what that means,” Lena says with a smirk, “You have to kill her.” 

 

Kara narrows her eyes and gives her an annoyed look that has Lena trying not to smile wide or kiss her and she really needs to stop thinking about kissing Kara because they are both in a haunted bar and trying to be professional and on camera. 

 

And the more she thinks about it the worse it feels that she isn’t currently kissing her.

 

Lena takes a breath and tries to ignore the feeling in her chest that bubbles and boils and flips, giving way to an aggravation that has nothing to do with the poltergeist and everything to do with not kissing Kara. 

 

“The Hell is this? You are filming things! Don’t look at each other like that when you’re filming things!” Lena hears the poltergeist and she can feel the energy it gives off, can feel it watching from the corners and the walls all around them. It seems more confused and annoyed with them than actually angry or threatening. 

 

She can work with that. It certainly is much less sinister than she was expecting, than a certain murderous clown had been. 

 

She hears a very aggravated, “Gross,” and then the voice fades as he disappears. 

 

Lena looks to the retreating figure and has to resist asking him what he thinks is gross, has to resist raising an eyebrow and throwing her hands up before outright telling Kara that the stupid ‘intelligent’ ghost has been watching them and is apparently grossed out by them. 

 

She also has to resist letting out some of whatever energy has been building on the ghost, in throwing some chairs, or on the jukebox and making it explode. 

 

She’s pretty sure she can’t deny that to Kara or pretend to not believe after that. 

 

---

 

“This is the old mob hangout room, they would hide the alcohol and count money in here,” Kara states as she opens a door to a bathroom. 

 

“And now it’s a bathroom, how historical,” Lena says as the door swings shut. 

 

“There’s a back office where people think the portal is and where the poltergeist showed up from.”

 

Lena ignores the loud, “No. Incorrect!” And instead just nods, with an added, “We should use your screaming radio to talk to him.” 

 

They walk into the back office and Lena half-expects to be hit with some kind of portal energy but there's nothing there, nothing but a remnant of old energy that has long since faded. 

 

“It’s sophisticated equipment, not a screaming radio. We could do the flashlight thing too.” 

 

“No, the flashlight thing is nonsense, no.” 

 

“They can turn it on and off, it’s the energy!” 

 

“I can turn it on and off if I tap it lightly. It’s not supernatural.” 

 

Kara has to bury whatever argument she was going to bring up, whatever look she’s trying very hard not to give Lena because…

 

It kind of is, isn’t it? Because Lena is?

 

She runs a hand through her hair and tries not to yell when she argues, “It’s not, it’s turning on and off to the responses.” 

 

Lena watches her run her hand through her hair and tries not to let it affect her, tries not to imagine doing the same thing to her, and how is whatever this tension is only getting worse? How are they not past it in this old bar surrounded by cheap decorations and an aggravating poltergeist? 

 

How is she, a demon from Hell, who has been around for a couple centuries now, threatening to be undone by a pretty blonde running her hand through her hair? 

 

“Correlation is not causation. There’s no actual science to it,” And that’s not really a lie, there isn’t. 

 

They argue about the merits of trying to communicate with a flashlight that really only requires the barest touch of anything to flip it on and off, that Lena knows she can affect in multiple ways, that Kara knows Lena can affect in multiple ways and firmly believes other supernatural and paranormal beings can as well. 

 

Ultimately, Lena ends up just giving in to Kara’s demand to use it - potential final investigation and all that.

 

The poltergeist seems largely uninterested in playing with the flashlight. 

 

And Lena knew this would be the result, but Kara was so adamant, so believing, she really had no choice but to give in. She couldn’t exactly argue it further, not without just admitting that she can play around with it if she wants to. That she has in the past to give them some kind of evidence. 

 

She realizes she’s going to have to own up to some of the false evidence she helped create while explaining that some of the things were genuinely real and that Arkham needs further review. 

 

She wonders if Kara knows how to banish a demon or if she’s going to learn specifically when she finds out. 

 

---

 

Kara knows she should be scared, knows in normal circumstances, she would have been. But right now, sitting in the dark with Lena, she’s not scared at all. 

 

But Kara isn’t sure if she’s just less scared because Lena is with her or if she’s less scared because she knows that Lena can protect her or if she’s just less scared because it’s not as bad as Arkham which at this point has now become her new baseline for worst places on Earth. 

 

Even when they’re sitting in a dark back office, the spirit box rifling through its radio frequencies as white noise loudly fills the room, Kara just sits with Lena and she can’t help but smile despite the darkness, despite the fact that she wants to just stand up and point to a wall and ask Lena if there’s something there when she thinks she sees a shadow move. 

 

Despite the fact she’s directly asking questions to a ghost that knows her name and where she lives and could possibly follow her home if the portal is true, she doesn’t really care. 

 

Kara and Lena are sitting in the office, Lena with her arms crossed as she stares at a corner with an eyebrow raised while Kara tries really hard to ignore and not look at whatever Lena is looking at, their flashlights the only light source as they work through the usual questions. 

 

They had tried to play the flashlight game but that had proven to be a bust with Lena stating, “I told you so,” before Kara tightened the flashlight and turned on the spirit box. 

 

Lena had winced as Kara turned it on and a part of her had wondered if it hurts Lena, if this is causing her pain, if this is something she’s been enduring that might hurt. 

 

“Are you okay?” Kara asks as she goes to turn it off. 

 

“Yeah, it’s just loud when it goes on. What?” Lena looks at her, at Kara’s face she knows is way too concerned for someone listening to what is a loud radio/white noise machine, “Why are you looking at me like that?” 

 

“I don’t know,” and she really doesn’t. 

 

“Do you want to…” Lena starts her question but trails off and Kara thinks she means return to the investigation, ask her questions, get this part over with so Kara nods, pulling herself back together as she talks to the darkness. 

 

“My name is Kara, but I guess you knew that.” 

 

“I’m Lena.” 

 

“Are you here with us, right now?” Kara asks and gets nothing, not even a whisper of sound. 

 

“Do you want us to leave?” Lena asks, still staring at the corner on the wall. She shrugs even when there’s no response Kara can hear. 

 

“Why are you here?” Kara asks, “Why do you want to hang out here?” 

 

And then she hears it, harsh and annoyed when it responds, “Why are you?!” She jumps and points to the spirit box and then stares at Lena for confirmation. 

 

“What?” Lena asks, still playing along with the skeptic.

 

And now it’s getting infuriating to Kara because Lena has to hear it, she has to know, she exists in this world too, right? She knows it’s real. And she’s just…shrugging and pretending. 

 

Kara can’t see or hear it but it infuriates the poltergeist too. 

 

“What?! That was a response! A real response!” 

 

“I guess,” Lena states and Kara just huffs, flabbergasted as she shuts off the spirit box. 

 

And if Kara could hear the poltergeist she’d hear him yelling at Lena from his dark corner. “This is ridiculous, you guess?! Mxy gives you great footage for your show, he gives you voices and you say I guess?! Why do you pretend?! I do not understand this! Ahhh….” 

 

And then whatever presence was in the room that Lena was antagonizing, that Kara can feel but not see, but she knows is there and that Lena is pretending is not, that Brainy isn’t really processing any of one way or another is just gone. 

 

“What?” Lena asks as Kara lets out a breath that borders on a hiss. 

 

“I just…there’s skeptics and then there’s whatever you’re doing,” Kara argues, giving Lena a pointed look.

 

“I thought this was what the people wanted?” Lena asks and Kara grumbles, annoyed. 

 

Lena thinks that maybe she’s taking it a little too far, that maybe she should give Kara something, that by denying the poltergeist his fun she’s also denying Kara something she needs. 

 

Possible last investigation and all, she reminds herself. 

 

“I mean it could have been a voice,” Lena admits and Kara brightens, just a little. 

 

---

 

They take the loud narrow creaking staircase up to the apartment above the bar and the air feels stifling and thick with a mixture of must and moisture from rain and humidity clinging to the walls long after the sun has set. 

 

And it only seems to fuel the collective tension that has been growing between both Kara and Lena since, frankly, the airport. Since the day before. Since…the beginning probably…

 

“So upstairs is where one of the previous owners lived. He described a series of gradual hauntings, chairs would move, floors would creak, and he would wake up with bruises, until one day, he felt like something had taken over him…”

 

“He thought he was possessed?” Lena asks and she knows poltergeists can’t really possess for long, they can maybe make someone speak in tongues or scare someone but…it’s not the same as a demon, it’s not the same as long term. 

 

Kara nods, “He was. They ended up performing an exorcism in the kitchen.” 

 

Lena pauses on the stairs and takes a breath trying very hard not to laugh, “What? Was it like an emergency?” 

 

And she hasn’t exactly been present at any exorcisms but she’s gotten the gist from the lower level demons down in Hell - it’s unpleasant for everyone involved - and very rarely done in someone’s kitchen. 

 

And never on poltergeists. 

 

They don’t subscribe to the same rules that demons do and an exorcism wouldn’t work on them. 

 

Lena hears a laugh from somewhere down below, a snorting laugh that has Lena putting together the real story. 

 

It had been a joke, like most things poltergeists do, a joke that had led to a makeshift exorcism that it had made humans believe was real. 

 

“I mean I don’t know how much merit there is in the story but, if it was done in the kitchen I’m sure time was of the essence.”

 

“Maybe they just wanted a snack.” 

 

“Maybe, do possessed people get hungry?” Kara turns and asks Lena and Lena just shrugs. She’s never done it, she can’t speak from experience, but she does know how it works and even without Kara knowing the truth, she can still answer this question. 

 

“I don’t think they do,” she states because no, they don’t, at least not hungry in a traditional sense. 

 

“Huh,” Kara murmurs and then continues up the stairs towards an apartment that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in a decade. 

 

--- 

 

Kara fights down a sneeze as the door opens with a loud creaking of its hinges and she’s hit with a cloud of dust. For a place that’s operational the fact that it feels dustier than Arkham is downright shocking. 

 

There’s a half-demolished countertop, an old air conditioner unit that has something growing in it Kara doesn’t really want to think about, and one wooden chair blocking a closet door that has a sign that reads, ‘do not open.’ 

 

“I’m starting to think that maybe this person had other things wrong than being possessed,” Lena states as she steps over an old tool box in the middle of the floor. 

 

“No, I think they’re just renovating it.” Kara shines her flashlight over the closet door and watches as the door inches open, bit by bit, on its own, until it hits the chair and stops. 

 

“Lena, Lena,” Kara whispers as she doesn’t take her flashlight off of it, “Is that door opening?” 

 

Lena stands next to Kara and she watches while Brainy films. 

 

And Kara feels braver than she has in any other investigation, feels like she’s safe and Lena is right there, right next to her, and she knows nothing is going to happen to her, nothing that Lena would allow. 

 

At least she hopes. 

 

She tests. 

 

And she’s not trying to get Lena to admit that ghosts are real, not trying to get Lena to tell her any of the truth, but…

 

If they catch a door opening, if they catch something then maybe Lena can’t deny that. Maybe it’ll open another kind of door that leads to the truth. That lets Lena know she’s not freaking out. She won’t freak out.

 

She takes a step towards the door, moves the chair aside and reaches for the closet door. 

 

“Do you think there’s anything in there?” 

 

“I don’t know, it says do not open.” 

 

Kara reaches for the closet door. 

 

“Kara,” Lena warns and her voice is darker as Kara rips open the door like it’s some sort of challenge and they’re just staring at a dark closet with exposed wires and old cassette tapes. 

 

At least that’s what Kara is staring at. 

 

Lena is staring at a poltergeist who has just tried to jump-scare a human who can not see or hear him. 

 

“Leave this place or be cursed!” 

 

His hair sticks up at all angles, forming a little swoop and what could be mistaken for horns if Lena didn’t know it was just his hair, his face is pale with some red around his eyes and black veins running across his face. 

 

He seems like he’s supposed to be scary, like he would scare anyone who wasn’t from Hell, or who had never been on the other side of seeing a murderous clown ghost fueled by a curse in Arkham, but he hunches and talks with a grumbling voice that Lena finds more funny than scary and she finds that nothing about this poltergeist is intimidating at all, nothing about him is scary in any way. 

 

This only seems to incense him. And the fact that Kara can’t see him, the fact that Lena is looking directly at him, saying and doing nothing, only confounds the impish ghost. 

 

And amuses Lena all the same. 

 

“Be cursed and leave!” He points at Kara with long pale fingers like he’s something out of an old black and white vampire movie and at that he doubles back, because Lena takes a step closer and stares him down long enough that he feels the threat and watches Lena shake her head, telling him to back off without needing to utter a single word. 

 

And then he’s pointing at her as if he wants to curse her, but ultimately it’s more accusatory than anything when he shouts, “You! You are messing with Mxy’s power! With your power! How?!” 

 

And then he gets it, “Ah…Hell Magic.” And Kara turns to look at Lena as he fades back into the darkness of the closet and Lena is more confused by his response because he hadn’t said demon, he hadn’t just said Hell, he’d said Hell Magic, which was…

 

Different.

 

“I guess there’s nothing here,” Kara mutters, her voice annoyed and Lena shrugs as they turn to leave. 

 

Brainy taps her on the shoulder before they reach the steps, “Are you seeing anything?” 

 

Lena nods. 

 

“Is this like an Arkham thing or…” 

 

“No. Not even close.” 

 

---

 

They stand at the beginning of a long basement hallway, boxes stacked to the side, the foundation and stone work making it cold and damp around them as Kara stares into the darkness. 

 

“Oh I am suddenly very scared,” Kara states all her previous lack of fear brought on by being near Lena fading at the thought of being separated from her. 

 

And Lena can feel the stupid thing watching, can feel it laughing like the whole building is tense with it. She sees the pale face peering from a corner before it disappears once again, a loud crash following it as an arm pushes over a box. 

 

“Did that just fall?” Kara asks, her voice loud as she walks towards the sound. 

 

“Yes!” The poltergeist, who Lena is sure is named Mxy judging by the way he referred to himself in the third person, answers. 

 

“Maybe,” Lena states, ignoring him, as Kara blinks and looks at Brainy then Lena.

 

“Maybe?” Kara lets out a breath and points to where the sound came from. 

 

Lena can tell she’s getting irritated by something, if maybe her playing up the whole skeptic thing is now making her mad as opposed to the amused annoyance it was causing before. 

 

And Lena can feel there’s more to it, can feel it in the things Kara isn’t saying, in the looks she’s giving her and she wonders, not for the first time…

 

If Kara suspects, if Kara knows. If she’s found the right thread and kept pulling until she found an answer. 

 

“Kara,” Lena starts but this isn’t the place for this conversation, this isn’t the place or the time to confirm or deny. 

 

“Lena,” Kara returns and she crosses her arms and waits for something, some kind of acknowledgement of something. 

 

“Yell if something jumps out at you,” Lena says and Kara nods. 

 

“Oh I’ll do more than yell, trust me,” Kara mutters as she turns towards the long dark basement and tries not to think about the idea of being alone in the dark with a ghost, without Lena. 

 

“I do,” Lena gives her and Kara turns on her heels to face Lena once again. 

 

“What?!” And Lena doesn’t know what to think about Kara’s sudden shout and smile. 

 

“I said I do…trust you…to yell if something jumps out at you,” Lena watches Kara stifle the smile and she’s not sure what she said, what just happened but it seems to have done something to Kara. 

 

“Right, yeah…five minutes?” Kara states with a soft breath.

 

“Five minutes.” 

 

Kara takes a deeper breath as she walks towards the fallen over box and further into the dark basement, taking her camera with her as she does. 

 

“Alright then, hey there demons, it’s me, ya girl,” Kara states loudly as Lena can’t help but smile softly at the statement. 

 

Brainy continues filming a nonplussed Lena who speaks into the camera, “I feel like she’s going to say she’s going to be quiet and then she’s just going to keep talking.” 

 

They hear Kara announce, “I will now be quiet for one minute and whatever you want to say, please don’t, but also please be kind.” 

 

Kara doesn’t even make it ten seconds before she’s talking again. “Okay, I’m really going to stop talking now. I’m…you just stay in your corner and I’ll stay here and…I’ll…stop talking and be quiet and let you talk and…” 

 

“Oh my she does not stop talking,” Lena hears a voice say from the darkness that Kara only catches the last hint of. 

 

“I’m going to put her out of her misery,” Lena tells Brainy before yelling into the basement, “Kara, you failed in the not talking task, you’re done!” 

 

“Yes, thank God,” And then Kara returns and it’s Lena’s turn to walk into the basement.

 

“Well…here I go…” She announces without any pomp and circumstance and when she gets to the end, when she’s just sitting in darkness and wondering how long five minutes is. 

 

That’s when Mxyzptlk the poltergeist decides to appear with a loud grumble next to her. 

 

“You have power. You should not be here in Mxy’s bar.” 

 

“This isn’t your bar.” 

 

“Yes it is…Mxy lives here, he helps the bar make money because they promote him, therefore he is an employee, therefore it is Mxyzptlk’s bar.” And the poltergeist shrugs like it’s the most logical thing in the world, “Now give me some power and I will leave you and the cameraboy and the pretty blonde one alone.” 

 

“I’m not giving you anything. And you’ll leave them alone anyway or you’ll be on a not so fun receiving end of that power. And please stop referring to yourself in the third person.”

 

“Take your Hell magic and your other magic and leave. You are throwing off the energy. It’s gross.” 

 

“What other magic?”

 

“The too warm one, too bright, it's weird!” 

 

“What? Who?” 

 

He waves his hands, “And the pining looks too! Also gross.” 

 

“I’m not…pining!” And Lena is very much aware that she’s arguing with this poltergeist about pining looks in his haunted basement, but frankly she’s offended and needs to defend herself against the accusation. 

 

At least she thought she was being subtle. 

 

“What is this then…” And he imitates a wide eyed look that has Lena just staring at him before he blinks, “Oh I should put on my human make-up face for this. Hold on.” Mxy turns around, does a full 360 spin and then Lena is just staring at what looks like a normal guy with his hair still flying all about as he does the same look again, and then his face goes back to being pale and red tinged with dark eyes and veins as he shrugs, “See. That is you looking at your friend. Does she know you are not a human?” 

 

“No.” But Lena pauses because, she might, she definitely might. She’s been hinting at something, she’s been staring and waiting and…

 

“You sound unsure.”

 

“No, I haven’t told her and…no I don’t think she knows.”

 

“Well why not?! You should tell her!”

 

“I’m…I don’t need to have this conversation with you, go away.” 

 

“You are already having the conversation. Hell Magic, Demon Lena, can Mxy give you some advice?” 

 

“No.” 

 

“Well he will give it anyway,” Mxy saunters over to her, “You are pretty weird but you are not very evil and your friend Kara is also pretty weird and definitely not evil, which is good, she is very nice. I like her and you should like her.” 

 

“I do like her I…more than like her…” 

 

“So you like like her, that is good!” 

 

“Sure.” Lena sighs, “When I tell her, she’s not going to like me anymore.” 

 

“You don’t know that. She could think it’s cool and then she could kiss you and the both of you can stop doing your pining looks and leave Mxy’s bar.” 

 

Lena blinks. 

 

“Yes, she pines too.” 

 

“She does?” Lena asks feeling her heart jump into her throat.

 

Mxy’s eyes widen of their own volition as he stares at her, blinking slowly and looking around like he needs some sort of audience to tell him, ‘yes we can’t believe this shit either,’ as he puts a hand under his chin. 

 

“Lena…you are too weird for a demon from Hell. And you need to see better.” 

 

“I’m not weird.”

 

“Yes, you are! But it’s good!” Mxy takes a breath and his voice settles into something that sounds much more sincere when he says, “Mxy has watched a lot of people be stupid and make stupid eyes and sometimes kiss each other or fight in his bar. He has seen people try to force themselves to like each other and try and try and they do not and it does not work, because love, it is like magic, you can’t force it, it has to be found.” 

 

He claps his hands together, “But good news! Mxy has seen people find that magic here too! And he sees it with your stupid pining looks. Kara Danvers will still like you when you tell her. In fact, Mxy is pretty sure she will do that thing that some humans do and hold your hand which looks quite nice, so…there you go…now you can go tell her you love her and you are a weird demon.” 

 

And Lena is shocked that this thing, this imp, this poltergeist has managed to see something that she herself has been ignoring, has gotten her to face it - it’s almost laughable if it weren’t so honest and raw. 

 

And then he’s back standing tall, pointing as he gives his final offer, “Perhaps we can scare her and she will come running to you and then probably kiss you and then you both can go back to Hell or wherever your bright human friend lives and away from my bar.” 

 

“Why don’t you leave?” 

 

“Because it is my bar! We have gone over this, I like it here, I live here. I will leave when I choose!” But he sighs after that, “I can not leave.” 

 

And despite the aggravation, despite her taunting, Lena feels a little bad for him. 

 

“Do you want to leave?” 

 

“Yes. But there is no more portal, it has lost its power and there is no way to leave. So Mxy has to play games, try to have fun, watch The Simpsons when the tv is on in the back but…overall it is pretty boring.” 

 

“I can help you,” Lena offers as she runs a hand over the stone wall, the wall and flooring that she knows, thanks to Kara, is original and had been built when the bar first went up. 

 

“How?” 

 

She pulls a stone from the wall, small enough that it can fit in a pocket but with enough weight that it’ll work. 

 

“I haven’t done this in…a while but, I can make a portable portal, it’ll tie you to here but give you the freedom to go wherever you want.” 

 

“Can I be seen? Will I still keep my powers?” 

 

“Only if you want to and you’ll probably be stronger. But you can’t lose this rock. If you do, it won’t be pretty.” 

 

“What will happen if it is lost or if it is destroyed?” 

 

“Typically you would go where it goes, so if it’s on you its wherever you choose, but, depending on how far away or if it’s destroyed, you’d be split and pulled into both places.” 

 

“Like Multiplicity! There would be multiple Mxy’s!” 

 

“But you’d be in pain and being destroyed too.” 

 

“That does not sound good.” 

 

“I don’t have to do it.” 

 

“No, no, this place, Lena, it is…not fun anymore. Do you know how many people throw up in this bar? Too many. Halloween is a nightmare.” He waves his hands, “Go on, do it.” 

 

And it doesn’t take much effort, Lena can feel the remnants of the portal from upstairs, can feel the power of the place and she imbues it into the rock as best as she can. 

 

She expects to feel weak or exhausted but all she feels is a little dizzy when she’s done and even that is nothing compared to how she felt in Arkham, to how she felt without Kara. 

 

And she’s not sure how to sort that out, how to figure that out or connect it. She wishes Sam would return with answers soon, she really needs something, anything, to start to solve this. 

 

She hands the rock to Mxy. He holds it with reverence as he looks at her with wide eyes. 

 

“Now what?” 

 

“Whatever you want.” 

 

“Oooh…perhaps Mxy shall get a cameraboy and make a show of his own. Make money. Can I borrow your cameraboy?” 

 

“No.” 

 

“Ah. Oh well, we shall figure it out, but now Mxy owes you something. If you are ever in need, you say Mxyzptlk's name three times and he shall appear to help.” 

 

“Like Beetlejuice?” 

 

“Yes! You are familiar! Good! Now go away and tell Kara Danvers from National City you love her, goodbye.” 

 

And Lena watches Mxy drop the rock into one of his pockets and he smiles at her before pointing with his hunched and crooked fingers. 

 

“You tell her or be cursed!” And with a pop he’s gone and Lena is just staring at the darkness.

 

She really doesn’t like poltergeists. 

 

And then she hears, “Lena, you're done! Come back!” 

 

She’s relieved the investigation is over, that they’ve gone through it with only mild annoyances, at least to her, some decent evidence for Kara and no murderous clowns or cursed Asylums requiring Lena to do something about it. 

 

Just a poltergeist who read her like a book and who she gave a portable portal to.

 

Still, not a bad investigation.  

 

And Lena is almost relieved and relaxed after they're done. After she’s made her way back to Kara and can’t help but smile when she sees her, when she feels that warmth Mxy was talking about and she chalks it up to someone bright and beautiful and kind that is overwhelming to things like them but still…

 

There’s something in the back of her mind that wants her to re-examine the terms, that wants to know what connects her to her cousin, that wants to know everything about her.

 

She puts it on the back burner because Kara is hugging her when she’s back and Lena can’t help but lean into and return the hug right back. 

 

“I wasn’t gone that long,” Lena mumbles and Kara pulls away and smiles awkwardly. 

 

“I know I’m just glad no ghost got you, okay, we should leave,” Kara spins on her heel and heads towards the stairs like she’s trying to escape the bar and the moment as quickly as she can. 

 

Lena glances to Brainy and he smiles, “So…anything?” 

 

“This bar is cleared,” Lena states with a wave of her hand. 

 

---

 

At first, sharing the hotel room is fine, there’s an underlying something but they’re both dealing with the ending of an investigation and getting ready for bed that it doesn’t really sink in…

 

Until it’s Kara’s turn to shower and Lena is sitting on the end of the bed, on what’s going to be her side, in pajamas she stole from the penthouse she’s occupying, and it all crashes over her like a wave. 

 

The pining. 

 

The things they’re not saying. 

 

The wanting. 

 

And she could have this conversation with Kara now, she could tell her now, she could…

 

Kara emerges from the bathroom, pulling her hair from the ponytail she had kept it in to keep her hair dry, pajama shorts and t-shirt on and Lena feels all her thoughts shut off as the wanting returns and she can’t help but stare at Kara’s legs and she shouldn’t, she really shouldn’t…

 

“Lena?” Kara asks and Lena looks at her, stares at blue eyes from across the room. 

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“How many times have you asked me that today?” Lena returns with a smirk and Kara swallows hard, still staring, fidgeting with her hands before she focuses on the wall and Lena wonders if the tank top she chose to sleep in is doing more for Kara than she previously thought it would, if Kara wants just as badly. 

 

And if she does…

 

They could just…

 

No, she has to tell her the truth first. 

 

They both stand there in silence, neither one really answering the other’s question or saying anything else. 

 

Kara twists her hands around each other and feels her heart in her throat the longer she stands by the bathroom door, the longer she debates shutting off the lights and getting into bed, the longer she looks at Lena sitting there and wants to go over and…

 

God, she wants so badly…

 

But she can’t unless she tells her what she knows, what she’s looked up, the truth shared between them and how hard she knows she’s falling, how much she’s feeling and it feels so big and different and she’s borderline panicking with the weight of it and the only person she wants to talk about it with is sitting there in front of her and she just can’t talk to her about it. 

 

She just can’t. 

 

Not here. Not without some sort of plan or buffer or something…

 

She doesn’t know how to begin this conversation.

 

Instead she just says, “I think we got some good evidence,” and feels dumb when Lena just looks at her with eyes that are holding something back, eyes that makes Kara swallow down the sudden dryness in her throat, and then she’s just staring again. 

 

“You know most of it, I’m not making fun of you for believing, I was just trying to do what Cat Grant wanted,” Lena offers, her own voice quiet and raw in a way it shouldn’t be. 

 

“Yeah, I know…I mean I didn’t know but…it’s okay. I get it. I do actually believe in all of this stuff so…there’s that. But I’m like…it doesn’t freak me out as much…anymore.” 

 

“Really? Did something change that?” 

 

And Kara just shrugs, “Maybe a who.” And then they’re both staring again, both quiet and unmoving as the air conditioner clicks on and hums in the background. 

 

“Well…goodnight…” Kara announces as she flips off the lights and tries to stop her heart from pounding. 

 

“Goodnight,” Lena says as they both get into bed and Kara turns her back and tries to remember how to breathe as Lena stares at the ceiling and tries to do the same thing. 

 

And neither one of them feels any more tired than they had an hour ago, neither one of them can really stop their minds from racing, from thinking of all the things they want to say, the things they want to do. 

 

Kara’s leg brushes against Lena as she shifts, “Sorry,” she huffs out and tries to ignore the sudden intake of breath she hears from Lena. 

 

“It’s okay,” Lena stutters out as she feels Kara stay as perfectly still as she possibly can. And it’s ridiculous, this is ridiculous, they’ve fallen asleep together before, Kara literally slept against her on the plane, what makes this so different? So much more? 

 

“Kara?” 

 

“Lena?” 

 

Kara turns to face her when she doesn’t say anything else, and there’s a softness in her eyes as she looks at her that has Lena swallowing against a dryness in her throat, that has her itching to run her hand over Kara’s jaw and hold her close and make her whisper her name against her mouth. 

 

But she’s frozen in the face of blue eyes and warmth and things left unsaid. 

 

And she should be tired, she should be exhausted, she’s been exhausted this entire week, she should feel low and powerless and tired, especially after helping Mxy but she doesn’t. 

 

She feels like she’s waking up. She feels like she’s wired and wound too tight and at any moment it’ll break, that any moment the warmth she feels simmering in her veins is going to become an inferno she can’t control. 

 

Because that softness in Kara’s eyes is swimming with something else, is starting to harden and darken and Lena can feel where this is going, where she wants it to go, where she has wanted it to go since the plane, where it can’t go. 

 

The air conditioner continues to hum as a stillness falls over them the longer Kara stares, the longer Lena stares back. 

 

And she knows Kara can feel it too, can feel this thing between them that is pulling her closer and closer. 

 

She watches Kara’s throat bob as she swallows hard and she feels a leg brush against her own, this time intentional, and Kara shivers with the contact and doesn’t apologize for it. 

 

Lena shivers too. 

 

“We should…sleep…” Lena tries, her voice shaky and somehow so loud in the quiet of the room. 

 

Kara nods, “We should. And we should…talk…” her breath is too close and her face is much closer and her eyes are still swimming with that unspoken thing and Lena should ask, should question what they should talk about but… 

 

The next thing Lena knows, Kara's hand is tentatively, gently, brushing a piece of hair from her face and running through her hair and stilling behind her ear. 

 

And there’s no stopping what happens next. 

 

Because with a breath Lena pushes forward and lets her lips gently graze Kara’s before she can think it through and stop herself from doing so. 

 

And it’s so light, the barest brush, but it’s a spark that ignites a fire and Kara grips her tighter and pushes forward as her mouth finds Lena’s and she kisses her with a force that could move Heaven to its knees. 

 

And Lena feels the world stop and start again with it. Feels like every step of her life has led her to this singular moment with Kara’s tongue begging for entry, with her whimpering as she lets her in, as she tastes that vanilla and the sun and it’ll never be enough. 

 

She could stay like this forever, she could die here and it wouldn’t be enough. 

 

Their legs are tangled as Lena lets her hands roam, as they travel over shoulders and down Kara’s arms stilling at the edge of her shirt where they reach under and graze against her stomach and abs and she’s a lot more solid than Lena had previously thought a reporter who was primarily investigating ghosts would be…not that she’s complaining…and from the way Kara breath hitches she’s not complaining either as Lena’s hands continue up under her shirt, nails grazing along skin that leaves goosebumps in their wake.

 

And one of Kara’s hands is still in her hair but the other one traces down Lena’s neck, over her collarbone and further down to cup one of her breasts. Lena groans and Kara kisses her harder and it’s too much and not enough and Lena only wants more, Kara wants more. 

 

But she needs to know…

 

She needs the truth…

 

And they’re both thinking the exact same thing, at the exact same time, fighting a losing battle against what they want and what they know is right. 

 

“Kara,” Lena says, breaking the contact, breaking the moment, despite every part of her body telling her not to, despite the very real throb between her thighs screaming at her, “We can’t do this. This isn’t…” 

 

And she’s not really pushing her away, but her hands are flat against Kara, who pulls back, who uses whatever will power she has to fight her own desire to move away from Lena and get out of the bed with a heavy breath. 

 

“I’m sorry, I…I shouldn’t have kissed you like that, I…” Kara paces and waves her hands as she talks and Lena sits up. 

 

“No, no, it’s not that. Also I think technically I kissed you first but…it’s not that…” Lena takes a breath, feels her voice ragged as she adds, “I liked that…it’s…it’s me…” 

 

“I didn’t mean to go too far and I don’t want you to feel like I was expecting something or that we have to. I like kissing you a lot and I have thought about it a lot but that doesn’t mean…wait you liked it?” 

 

Lena nods and Kara fights down the urge to go back to kissing her again. 

 

“So if you liked it and I liked it…then…” And Kara knows what the reason is, knows what they’re both struggling with, knows that they do need to talk, really talk before…

 

“I wasn’t lying when I said I trust you,” Kara tells her as Lena moves to sit on the end of the bed again, as Kara watches her try to find the words. 

 

“Kara, you are a good person, you are good and kind and you believe in people and…I’m not good. I’m not.” And Lena takes a breath and stares at her, watches her stand up straighter, defensive in a way no one else in Lena’s life has ever been.

 

Lena stops her before she can argue, “And if you knew what I’d done…who I was…” 

 

Lena stares at Kara as she moves to stand in front of her and takes her hands in her own, sitting beside her on the bed. 

 

Blue eyes meet hers, “I think you are good. I think that who you are is more important than who you were.”

 

“But it’s still there. And this…you…I’m not supposed to get this…to have this…if you knew all of it, you wouldn’t think I was good.”

 

She feels hands squeeze her own, “Then tell me. The truth. All of it. And I promise you I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere.” 

 

And Lena can see the conviction in her eyes, can see that there’s something there that should not be, something that looks like knowing. 

 

And all the looks that felt like waiting make sense, all the moments add up and connect, all the suspicion and things that were going unsaid. 

 

The air conditioner clicks off as if it too wants to give them this moment, in the quiet of the night, with both of their hearts racing and the truth easier to whisper in the darkness and stillness with the light of the morning left to deal with the consequences. 

 

“I’m not from here,” Lena starts with a heavy breath, “I’m not from Metropolis or National City, I’m not even human.” 

 

“Okay,” Kara states, her voice quiet and still, her eyes never leaving Lena’s. 

 

“Okay?” Lena asks and Kara clears her throat. 

 

“I mean..oh…shit…” And Kara had tried, really had but she always knew her  lack of being able to be cool when she’s trying to be cool would end up biting her in the ass. “What are you?” And that feels worse, that feels like it’s not the right thing at all. 

 

“Kara…do you…” 

 

“Yeah,” she admits.

 

“And Nia?” 

 

“Oh…yeah…” Kara takes a breath and confesses, “So I may have…put some stuff together and done some research and brought Nia in on it and that book I’m reading may have been ordered under a week long research crazy mission when I started to put it together and again I do think Arkham did something to me and I promise I will tell you all about it and apologize repeatedly for the what looks like a murder/conspiracy board that is currently in my apartment that is all about you, but…I think…I still need to hear you tell me. If you want to, you don’t have to and I can pretend I don’t know, but…I think it’s better if you say it.” 

 

Lena has follow up questions, Lena has a lot of follow up questions and really wants to see what book Kara is referring to, really wants to dive in to asking about her cousin and just telling her about Lex but she knows Kara is right, knows that hearing it from her is still better than sitting on the research and just moving on without the actual talking part, the actual confession part. 

 

So she takes a breath and in the hotel room, with Kara holding her hands, with the taste of Kara’s kiss still on her tongue, Lena tells her…

 

“I’m from Hell. I’m a…demon.” 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER NINE: LATE NIGHT TALKING

 

If a year ago someone had told Kara Danvers she’d be sitting in a hotel room in Kentucky holding hands with a demon as they told her they were a demon - she’d probably have either laughed or run away from the person telling her that obviously crazy story. 

 

And yet…

 

Here she is…

 

Holding hands with a demon, in a hotel in Kentucky, after completing another paranormal investigation, after having kissed said demon while fighting down the urge to kiss said demon again, listening to that demon (who she might be falling for, who she is definitely falling for) tell her who they are. 

 

And if this had happened at any other point in her life, if this had happened about a week ago, she would have run from this room screaming and reciting whatever she remembered of some prayer or some latin she knew from a movie she had watched. 

 

If this was a week ago, she would have been terrified. 

 

But she’s not. 

 

Lena, however, is terrified. Lena is staring at her even after knowing that she knows and Kara can feel the fear behind her eyes, can see the way she tightens her jaw, the way she shifts in her seat, can feel the way her fingers twitch against Kara’s as she holds them.

 

She holds Lena’s hands tighter as Lena says the words, “I’m from Hell. I’m a…demon.” 

 

And it should be a ridiculous statement, it sounds like absolute chaotic nonsense and yet, it’s all true and they both know it. 

 

A year ago this would have been a laughable conversation for both of them. 

 

Because Lena could not have imagined this room, this woman in front of her, any human in front of her, not running, holding her hands, just listening and waiting. Lena could not have imagined someone who cared about her, who cared for her, who kissed her like she could drown in it, like it was some sort of lifeline - who made her feel human in a way that nothing, no one, ever has. 

 

She couldn’t have imagined hunting ghosts either and yet here she was, doing just that. 

 

And falling for the human sitting next to her, the memory of her kiss still seared across her lips and wanting more, it’s absolutely terrifying how out of control it all is - she is.

 

They’re both vaguely aware they’ve both been sitting in silence for what feels like an hour when Kara finally breaks it. 

 

“Thank you, for telling me, and now I think I should probably tell you about my freak out and research and also apologize again and I think I freaked out more because I have feelings for you but also the supernatural stuff but…” Kara recants the past week, the conspiracy board, Nia, the stuff she found that she’s not entirely sure is actually accurate and has to resist just asking Lena right then and there because she really wants to know (especially about if there’s levels) and she goes into all the avoiding, the fear, and apologizes profusely over and over and she waits for Lena to leave, to tell her she’s going back to Hell or something, to tell Kara she doesn’t feel anything close to the same, but… 

 

All Lena does is laugh. 

 

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to…I just spent…I was freaking out because I thought you were going to freak out and you already did and it wasn’t because of me or what I am but because you have feelings for me?!” Lena keeps laughing because out of all the things she thought Kara would do, all the things she thought would happen after Swift Street, after this investigation, after the truth, it wasn’t this. 

 

It wasn’t Kara apologizing for doing research on something any normal person who believed in the supernatural would - friend or not. 

 

“So what was the plan with the poltergeist then?” Lena asks, still laughing and Kara just shrugs. 

 

“Was there really a…” 

 

“Oh, yeah, but don’t worry I helped him out, he won’t be haunting that bar any more.” 

 

“Is he going to…” 

 

“No, he won’t follow you home. I promise. If he does, you let me know and I’ll deal with him.” 

 

Kara blinks, “Have you helped others? How many of them were real?” 

 

Lena takes a breath, winces a little when she shares, “All of them were real, mostly, maybe not as bad…except for Arkham but, they were real.” 

 

“I don’t even want to know how bad Arkham was,” Kara shudders, “So this whole not believing thing…” 

 

“It was an act,” Lena defends, “It got the ratings!” 

 

Kara shakes her head, “I’m not mad about it, I am a little annoyed that when I got clear evidence you still denied it, but…and Swift Street…was that you?”

 

“What?” 

 

“The laugh I caught. That was you. Right?” 

 

And Lena knows Brainy was right when he said Kara would put it together, that all the pieces she had would line up eventually, and she did, she had. Lena’s still impressed by it, curious about it, how she knew so distinctly. 

 

“I felt you…” Kara’s voice falls as she recalls the laugh, the presence, as she remembers how it felt then, how Lena feels now, how it’s more real, right in front of her but still the same. 

 

“Yeah, that was me,” Lena’s voice is soft when she asks, “How did you…” 

 

“I don’t know how to explain it, I had this dream and then we woke up on the couch and I was freaking out and then I wasn’t and now we’re here.” 

 

“What changed it?” Lena asks and she knows there’s more to the story even as she still wonders if Kara is going to run, still waiting for the other shoe to drop - but it never comes. 

 

“I…Kelly hit me with some hard advice that I needed. That I just…I’m not used to feeling like this and I sabotaged other relationships because I didn’t feel it and…I…” Kara can’t look at her and Lena’s smile softens the longer she looks at Kara’s shy movements, her hands fidgeting with the comforter beside her. 

 

“Yeah, I think I was avoiding you because of what I was feeling too…and other stuff but…” 

 

“What? You…so we both…you have…for me too?” 

 

“Kara we kissed.”

 

“Yes, I remember very well thank you, but you…you like me?” 

 

Lena has to resist laughing again. Smiles wide and feels her heart threaten to burst. 

 

“I didn’t go back to Hell because of you. I think ‘like’ might be an understatement.” And Lena looks away, unable to meet Kara’s eyes as Kara ducks her head and blushes. 

 

“I am sorry I didn’t just ask.” 

 

“I don’t think that’s something you can just ask. Or just share. A lot of people would have freaked out, feelings or not. It’s not every day that they get proof of Hell or the unnatural, and there’s a lot of stories about what I am and none of them are good.” 

 

“Right. But…I mean they’re not…they can’t be all that accurate, because you’re…you.” Kara stares at her in earnest and Lena feels her heart melt at the sight, feels Kara’s touch burn as she drops her hands because it’s too much, it’s so much more than she ever asked the universe for, it’s too kind and too caring and all Kara and too much. 

 

“I don’t have good stories about me either. The things I’ve done…made people do.” 

 

“A lot of people have Reputation eras, it doesn’t make them…”

 

“Kara it’s not a joke,” Lena states, shutting Kara down, “And it goes far beyond some darker side.” 

 

Kara nods, sobering, “I know. It's just…levity and all that.” She shrugs, “But that’s not what we need and I’m not asking for you to tell me all of it, I would like to know, but I don’t have to know. I meant it, what I said, who you were before, that’s not you now.” 

 

“I’m literally the heir to Hell, my mother is the Queen of it, it is who I am now. It is who I will always be.” And Lena knows that might not be true, that in the end, when she makes the sacrifice it won’t be true - but only in the end, not now. Now, she’s still a Luthor, still an heir, still a demon devoted to evil and darkness and corruption and coldness. 

 

So why does she feel warm? Why does she feel the furthest from darkness she’s ever felt? 

 

Kara takes this information in, takes it with a heavy breath and then says, “So when you said your family wasn’t great, you weren’t kidding. And that stuff with your brother…” 

 

“It’s worse than what I told you.” 

 

“Did he hurt you?” Kara asks again, her voice steady, but her eyes betraying an anger behind the questions, an anger that is far stronger than it had been on the roof. It has Lena unable to look away from the righteous blues as she nods. 

 

“I handled it.” 

 

Kara swallows hard and leans forward as she brushes Lena’s hair back, one thumb steadying and stilling on Lena’s cheek as she looks her over, so gentle, so caring and so unlike any touch Lena has ever known. 

 

It’s like she’s trying to find injuries, injuries that have healed, that are non-existent - at least physically. And Kara looks so intensely, turning her head carefully to find any sign of any imperfection, any pain. 

 

But there’s nothing. Not anymore. Nothing but the memory of them. 

 

“I’m fine,” Lena half-whispers as Kara’s hand stays on her cheek, as she leans into the warmth and stares into eyes so wide and terrified she can no longer find words anymore. 

 

Kara never removes her hand even as she nods at Lena’s reassurance, even as Lena leans into the touch and takes a breath and reiterates, “I’m fine. I’ve dealt with worse.”  

 

“Have you?” 

 

“Hell isn’t a kind place,” Lena states with a sardonic laugh, “It’s literally Hell.”

 

And out of all the looks Kara has given her, out of all the looks Lena’s ever received in her entire existence, Kara’s pained one at this information might just be the one that breaks her. 

 

It steals her voice, steals her breath, that someone, a human no less, could look at her, could know what she is, and still look at her with a sympathy, a pain for her that is not pitying, not sorry for her, but hurt in a way that hurts for her, that holds something, a promise of good in it, a wish that she hadn’t had to experience it - it aches and it makes whatever she has instead of a soul burn. 

 

“Do you want to…tell me about it? You don’t have to, I just…I mean I do have some follow up questions that you are free to shoot down, but I have been doing a lot of reading and this one book in particular is very interesting, I’m not sure how accurate it is, but…” 

 

“Kara,” Lena says as her hand takes Kara’s from her cheek and steadies her as she lowers it. Kara falls silent.

 

“Sorry, I’m just…curious. You don’t have to answer it, I promise. I shouldn’t have asked.” And Lena knows she has questions of her own she needs to ask, questions that revolve around Kara’s family, around Kara’s past, around things Kara may not even know herself, and if she has to ask those, Kara should get to ask whatever she wants as well - they should both get this moment of honesty, of truth and sharing. 

 

“What do you want to know?” Lena asks and she tries not to smile at the way Kara blinks, eyes bright and shining. 

 

“Hang on,” Kara states before she  jumps up from the bed and rushes to her bag and pulls out a book with post-its and notes scribbled in the margins - a book by one John Constantine - a name Lena knows. 

 

She tells Kara as much. 

 

“He’s legit?” 

 

“Oh yeah, his whole family - he’s a mess, but…yeah, they’re legitimate demon hunters. Solid magic users too.” 

 

“Magic is real?!” Kara asks with a dropped jaw that has Lena smiling wide as she nods. 

 

“Is that your first question?” 

 

“No, no it’s not, it just caught me off guard that’s…wow…” Kara lets out a breath that is bordering on amazed and thrilled as she half-laughs to herself. 

 

“If magic is real, and the places we went to were real, how bad was Arkham?” Kara shudders involuntarily, recalling a face in the darkness, a feeling of the place itself and Lena almost being lost to it and she wonders, if she felt all of that, how much worse was it for Lena?

 

“Is that what you want to ask me about first, Arkham?” Lena questions, and she knows it’s not, knows Kara is skirting around what she really wants to ask, knows she’s trying to find the right topic but she needs to just ask it. 

 

Kara shakes her head and closes the book, fiddling with one of the edges of a post-it note that sticks out. Lena can see it has ‘Arkham’ written on it with a dash and the beginnings of another word that starts with ‘c’ and a star and she wonders just how deep Kara went into this research, how much of it connected her or how much of it was wider beyond just the demon portion. 

 

“Yes, but not right away…I guess I just really want to ask about…you,” Kara looks into her eyes, sits cross legged on the bed and swallows down nerves that Lena knows has nothing to do with the truth, not anymore. 

 

Lena mirrors her, pulling herself closer to sit cross legged across from her, their knees touching as she takes a breath, “Okay. But then I get to ask about you too.” 

 

“Me? You already know like everything about me, I’m an open book, I’m pretty sure I bombarded you with all my likes and the being adopted and that history and trauma like the second week we met.” 

 

“Well I don’t know everything, I’m sure high school Kara has some fun stories,” Lena states with a raised eyebrow and her voice a little darker than she intends but it has an effect and Kara nods, her cheeks dusting red at the implication. 

 

“Trust me, high school Kara was not a pretty picture.” 

 

“I bet you were cute.” 

 

“I was weird.” 

 

“You’re still weird. You’re hunting ghosts.” Lena smirks, “But you’re also still cute.” 

 

Kara stutters, “You’re…pretty too…is this really what you look like all the time?” 

 

Lena smiles, bites her lip as she replies, “Yeah this is just what I look like. No bat wings or creepy veins or third eyes or anything like that. Just this.” 

 

Kara lets out a breath that can only be described as wholly smitten and Lena feels herself take a breath to match. 

 

“I would still think you’re pretty even if you had three eyes and bat wings, just so you know.” 

 

Lena laughs.

 

She feels lighter, she feels something wash over her like a wave, a feeling that makes the room feel like it glows, makes her wonder if this is what happiness is supposed to be, what peace could be. 

 

For now, in this room, she supposed it can be.  

 

The questions and answers start simple enough. 

 

“How old are you?” 

 

“I’m not sure exactly, not with numbers, but I was around for William Shakespeare and time is a little different in Hell and I’ve spent most of my life there but I would mark it at somewhere between eight hundred to a little over a thousand years old…” 

 

“You were around for William Shakespeare?! What was that like?” 

 

“My turn,” Lena states and Kara nods, sinking a little and pouting and Lena bites her lip to stop herself from leaning forward to kiss the pout, to stop herself from smiling at how cute she finds it. 

 

“Right, sorry.” 

 

“How did you really figure it out? Me and Swift Street and all of it. The truth.” 

 

Kara swallows, knowing it sounds weird, knowing it would sound much weirder if she wasn’t having an actual conversation with an actual demon, “Like I said, I had a dream. About Swift Street and you and it just…I don’t know I get these weird dreams sometimes, like my brain is trying to figure it all out and it just…added up. You felt the same, smelled the same and I don’t know how exactly but it all just clicked.” 

 

“I smelled the same?” 

 

“It’s not bad, it’s just…you. That was weird, I made it weird,” Kara blushes and cringes.

 

“What do I smell like?” Lena can’t help but ask. 

 

“Is that your question for this turn?” 

 

“Humor me.”

 

“It’s…Earthy I guess, spiced like cinnamon and nutmeg and it’s just you. I don’t know but I know it’s you.” 

 

“Interesting. You know you have a smell too, vanilla mostly.” 

 

“I use vanilla shampoo with coconut milk.” 

 

“That explains it.” 

 

“It helps with the softness too.” 

 

“Your hair is certainly soft, very shiny, nice.” 

 

“You think it’s nice?” 

 

“Is that your question for your turn?” 

 

Kara answers with a shrug.

 

“I think it’s very nice. Very pretty, just like you.” 

 

Kara’s nose scrunches and Lena can watch her forever, can watch her blush deeply forever, can be here and never leave, never wanting for anything else so long as she exists in this moment. 

 

And then she returns to Kara’s dream, to what Kara has told her, “You know, your mind doesn’t put up so many walls when you’re asleep, a lot of people have been thought to be clairvoyant in dreams…I’m not saying you are but, it’s possible you saw something and didn’t realize you did and while you were sleeping your mind allowed you to put it together.” 

 

“What I saw in Arkham,” Kara adds. 

 

“What did you see?” And Lena asks but she already knows some of what Kara probably saw, some of what she hoped she hadn’t seen. Because Lena remembers how she felt, how she had been and probably looked and she knows Kara saw it, had to have seen it, or at least felt it enough to retain it for later. To recall it in a dream that had her seeing the truth fully and without any walls to block it out. 

 

“My turn,” Kara smirks and Lena rolls her eyes. 

 

“What were you doing before Swift Street?”

 

“Lots of things. Some hauntings, not many, it’s considered beneath the heir but…a lot of getting people to sell their souls.” 

 

“Oh…” Kara chews on her lip. 

 

“Skip my turn and just ask it,” Lena states.

 

“What do people sell their souls for? What happens to them after it’s sold?” 

 

“They sell them for a lot of things, money, power, sex mostly, lot of that…what do you think happens? Time runs out, they go to Hell, eternal torture. They serve my Mother. Me too, eventually, I guess.” Lena takes a breath, “Does that scare you?”

 

“Does what scare me?” 

 

“Me.” 

 

“No.” 

 

“Why not?” Lena asks and Kara smirks.

 

“It’s my turn.” 

 

“Kara.” 

 

“I don’t know. It’s complicated. The things you can do, maybe that scares me a little but you, no. You don’t scare me. You’ve protected me, and I guess, if you’re telling me everything, if you’re owning up to past mistakes…it means you’ve changed from whoever that was and I don’t know what your life was like before, I don’t know what you’ve had to do, all I know is, I trust you. We’ve all done things we regret, I mean I haven’t had someone sell their soul to me, but...” 

 

“What have you done? Cheated on a spelling test?” 

 

Kara mock laughs, “No, I…I told you how I used to be…angry. After my parents, when I was still adjusting to that grief and new life and…everything.” 

 

Lena nods, listening as Kara continues, “That anger. It ate away at me. Not all at once, not right away, it was over time but, it was there, chipping away at me. And I didn’t deal with it well. I got into a few fights, I broke another kid’s nose, not intentionally but…I hurt them. I hurt other people because I was hurt and none of it was okay. And then…” Kara swallows as she remembers, as she recalls a darker side, an angrier side she has since learned to live with, to deal with, to heal just a little. 

 

“What?” 

 

“I burnt down this old barn. No one was inside, no one got hurt but…I still did it. I’m not sure how exactly, I don’t really remember doing it. I just remember feeling so lost and angry and tired and I was just walking and walking with nowhere to go and  I must have stopped and done it because the next thing I was waking up beside it and it was on fire and Alex was dragging me home. She covered for me and after that I got the help I needed but…if someone had been inside, if that fire had spread, if Alex hadn’t found me I could have, it could have been worse. Does that scare you?” 

 

“Does what scare me? That you set a fire?” 

 

“That I could have…” And Kara can’t say the other part, the thing that’s haunted her for years, the what-ifs that could have happened, the lives she could have destroyed and taken in one moment of rage she had no control over, lost to a grief she couldn’t deal with that could have consumed everyone else around her like a pit swallowing everything into it.

 

Lena's voice is gentle and soothing and sincere when she says, “Hey. Hey. You didn’t kill anyone. You were a kid who had no idea how to feel and how to handle a massive loss, trust me, adults have done far worse for less.” 

 

Kara swallows, “I know that, I know and I try not to feel guilty about it but it’s there. It’s there with how angry I am at them.” 

 

“Who?” 

 

“My parents. For…leaving me. And I know it’s not their fault, I know that, it happened when I was twelve and I’ve had fifteen years to deal with it and I don’t feel it as strongly or as fresh as I used to, but it’s always there, that scar, that pain. Just gently reminding me of what I used to have.” Kara wipes a tear, “And I have Alex and Eliza and I have my family and friends, but there’s always a part of me that has felt just a little…I don’t know…lost. Out of place without them, I guess.” 

 

“I never felt at home in Hell,” Lena shares and they’re both so quiet, open and raw and she’s not sure when she took Kara’s hands again, not sure when they got closer, but their knees touching firmly now, their hands held tightly together in their laps, keeping each other safe as they share. 

 

“Really?” 

 

“Yeah, I mean I was always cold, lonely…”

 

“I thought Hell was…you know all fire all the time. I’m not obsessed with fire, it's just a thing that I thought was…that’s like all you hear about, Hellfire, right?” 

 

Lena smiles at Kara’s outburst, her defense, “I didn’t think you were obsessed with fire, but no, it’s cold actually, it’s cold and empty and it echoes and it screams, it’s dark, there’s no warmth or sun or feeling that isn’t just…nothing…” 

 

Kara fights down a chill, “That sounds worse actually.” 

 

“It is. And I hated it. And I never understood why, why everyone around me, thrived in the darkness, in the cold and I just…tolerated it, withstood it, until I didn’t have to. Until I was allowed to come up here from time to time. And then I was named the heir and I couldn’t come up here as much but one day I could and then I met you…and that cold went away, that feeling went away.” 

 

Kara swallows as Lena continues, “I let you in and I stopped feeling nothing. And I don’t understand it, not completely, but it’s the first time in my entire life that I’ve felt like I’m not alone.” 

 

“You’re not alone.” 

 

“You aren’t either.” 

 

They both fall silent. The room still and quiet. The soft light of the moon filtering in and making this entire conversation feel both surreal and so real all at the same time. Kara half thinks this could still be some kind of dream, that she’ll wake up either back at home or in this bed and none of this will have happened. 

 

She hopes not. 

 

She really hopes not. 

 

Because she wasn’t lying when she told Lena that she felt out of place. She’s not lying when she looks into her eyes and she doesn’t feel so out of place here with her. And she’s not sure what that means, what it’s supposed to mean but she knows it must mean something. This must mean something. 

 

They must mean something. 

 

And if a year ago, someone had told Kara Danvers she’d be sitting in a dark hotel room in Kentucky, sharing her thoughts, her feelings, her past with an actual demon, she wouldn’t have believed them. 

 

And there’s no way she would have believed them if they told her what would happen next…

 

Because she’s leaning in, breathing in Lena’s space, and Lena is leaning too and it feels right and perfect as she just makes contact, her lips grazing Lena’s. 

 

The air conditioner kicks on again, too loud in the silence and somehow not loud enough and it startles her, it stops her. 

 

She pulls back, suddenly self-conscious despite having already kissed Lena earlier, despite wanting so much more than a kiss earlier. It feels heavier now somehow, it feels warmer and more powerful and so many things she doesn’t know how to describe. 

 

Kara feels her heart in her throat, feels all of it at once as Lena’s hands leave hers and go to her cheek, cupping her jaw, one thumb gently settling on her cheek, rubbing soft circles there. 

 

It draws her back in, keeps her close, but not close enough. 

 

“It’s okay,” Lena whispers, her breath breezing across Kara’s nose as she does. 

 

“I want to kiss you, I really do,” Kara whispers back, her voice ragged and soft, “But I’m…I don’t know what happens if I do.” 

 

“What do you mean?” 

 

“Because I don’t want to stop. And I…you don’t scare me but that scares me. Whatever this is, Lena, it’s…” 

 

“I know.” 

 

“You know?” 

 

“I feel it too. And I don’t know what it is either. But I want this, I want you, so much, it hurts.” 

 

“We should probably figure it out, what it is.” Kara leans into the touch, feeling the cold from Lena’s skin temper the heat of her own but not enough, not like it should, because it just feels like it’s fueling it, like a wave getting ready to strike again. 

 

Lena’s eyes burn with something unspoken, swimming with the want Kara knows they both feel and it takes all of her willpower not to just push forward, seal her mouth with Lena’s in a burning and world shattering kiss that sets fire to the room and consumes them both in an entirely different way than the barn Kara once burned down in anger. 

 

And Lena knows, she needs to ask now, she needs to tell Kara about her cousin now or else she never will, or else this thing that is between them will push them both over the edge and there will be no going back. 

 

And it would be so easy to just give in right here, right now, to have this moment, to take their time as much as they could because Lena is fairly certain there won’t be any slow at first, not with the way Kara is looking at her, not with the way her entire being seems to be pulling her towards Kara and screaming with a need to touch her, to be touched by her, to love her and be loved by her. 

 

And would it be so wrong to just give in, to just have this moment now, to say damn whatever comes next and just be here, together? Would it be so wrong to feel that happiness, that elation and get what she wants, who she wants, for one of the only times in her life? Is she not allowed to have this before it all ends? 

 

And she knows it’s going to end. But doesn’t that make this so much more important, so much more…is that not what the Keeper had been trying to tell her? To get her to see? 

 

A moment of light for when she meets the darkness.

 

“Where are you?” Kara asks, her voice barely above a whisper but so loud it might as well be a clap of thunder, and she hasn’t moved, neither one of them has, too terrified to move a muscle to break whatever spell they are both under. 

 

Lena blinks, returning to Kara, to this moment, her green eyes meeting Kara’s blues as she answers, “Right here, with you.” 

 

And Lena pushes forward, kisses Kara hard, hungry, her hand gripping her jaw just a little tighter than it had before when it caressed her skin. Kara gasps into it and it’s all Lena needs to commit to this moment. 

 

She’s pushing further, closer, as they both uncross their legs and then Lena is straddling her, tilting Kara’s head back as she deepens the kiss and her tongue tastes Kara’s and it feels just as right as it had before, if possible, it feels better, it feels like what she supposes heaven is supposed to feel like. 

 

Her other hand cups the other side of Kara’s jaw as Kara’s hands land on her thighs and her grip tightens. Lena feels warmer than she ever has in her life, feels her skin burn beneath the touch, but it’s good, it’s so good, it feels like the sun and the Summer and everything good seeping into her bones as Kara kisses her back with just as much force, just as much want and hunger and fire. 

 

Kara breaks the kiss to breathe and she leans her forehead against Lena’s as the other woman takes a breath as well and there’s not enough air and too much air and not enough space and too much and her skin feels tight and hot and she just wants more of Lena, wants all of Lena, but she needs to breathe and why does she need to breathe? Why can’t she just keep kissing Lena and breathe some other way? Why is air so necessary? 

 

“Are you okay?” Lena asks and her voice is wrecked and her lips swollen and God, Kara could listen to her all day when she sounds like that. It sends a shiver up her spine, sends heat lower and she still doesn’t understand why she reacts to Lena like this, why it’s so much more than anyone before but she doesn’t care, it’s there and it feels good and right and she won’t question it right now, not when Lena looks like that, not when Lena sounds like that, not when Lena is right there on top of her with entirely too many clothes on but it’s fine, it’ll be fine. 

 

“Are you? We can still figure this out and…” Kara barely gets the words out when Lena is kissing her again, slow and purposeful, her hands traveling down her neck to rest on her shoulders and its Kara’s turn to push her tongue forward, to taste that earth and cinnamon that she associates with Lena, that something that is all her that makes her skin burn hotter, like every nerve is attuned to Lena and the sigh she lets out sends a fresh wave of heat below, a fresh wetness starting to make its presence known as it aches for friction, for relief, for Lena to provide it. 

 

She wants her so badly, it’s too much, it feels like too much as Lena shifts her weight, just a little, just enough that she’s now pressed against Kara’s thigh, firmly, in a way that has her groaning, begging and seeking her own relief. And Kara can feel it, can feel what she’s doing to her as she presses against her and it only makes her own ache worse. 

 

And Lena knows she should stop, knows they need to stop, they have to figure this out, they have so much more to talk about but Kara’s hands are roaming and her mouth is hungry and she bites Lena’s lip just enough that it sends a shockwave down Lena’s spine straight to her core and she can’t help the harder thrust against Kara’s thigh and the whimper that emerges unbidden and loud that only spurs Kara on. That only has Kara kissing along her jaw, her neck, sucking at the skin hard enough it’s going to leave a mark, biting just enough that the moan Lena lets out feels borderline unholy. 

 

And she is…unholy…but this? It feels like something else. Maybe unholy is the wrong word, because it doesn’t feel sinful even if the sounds she makes may be. But this? It feels like reverence, like she can worship Kara for hours and hours and it’s both sacrilege and perfect at the same time. 

 

Like it’s the end of her life before Kara and the beginning of something new, something that was meant to align and be, something that is begging for the both of them to give in to. 

 

And oh how she wants to.

 

Lena finds the right friction to ease the ache and keeps moving and Kara pushes her thigh further into her and she gasps with the added pressure as the wave builds within her, as she moans while Kara pushes harder and she’s getting closer but -- 

 

“I want you to,” Kara says, her voice rough as she sucks at Lena’s skin harder and Lena is losing her grip, losing herself as she moves and thrusts and rides Kara’s thigh closer and closer towards the inevitable completion but…

 

She knows this isn’t right, knows this isn’t the place or the time and that Kara deserves more, so much more, deserves time and care, deserves Lena worshipping every inch of her. 

 

Not this, not like this, not taking this even if they both seem to be more than okay with it, even if Kara’s hand lowers, hovering over the waistband of the sleep shorts Lena knows are ruined as she dips a finger then her hand beneath the fabric, her own breath heavy as she grazes Lena’s skin…

 

Lena stops, stills and kisses Kara chaste and sweet as she does. 

 

Kara stops her own efforts, stops kissing Lena’s neck, her one hand stilling on Lena’s waist as the other doesn’t go any lower than where it currently is, poised right where she can feel heat beginning and she has to focus and remember to breathe as Lena brushes her hair aside, both hands on either side of her face as she looks into her eyes. 

 

“What’s wrong?” Kara asks, barely able to choke the words out, voice rough and gravelly. 

 

“We still don’t know why…this between us and we can’t, until we…” 

 

Kara nods, understanding even if she doesn’t, understanding as she removes her hand from Lena’s sleep shorts, “Why do we need to know why? Why can’t we just…enjoy it, have it and figure it out later?” 

 

“Because what if it’s bad?”

 

“Bad?! Lena I don’t know about you but if this is bad then I’d hate to know what you consider good. Because from where my hand was and how I feel, what, if you wanted to you could feel, this can’t be bad,'' Lena’s eyes darken at the suggestion and Kara practically whimpers, practically begs and Lena has to resist thrusting forward once again against Kara’s thigh and putting her hand right back where it was because her entire body is begging for it, wants it, aches with it. 

 

But she doesn’t. She can’t. 

 

“No, I know, it’s just there’s more, there’s so much more going on and we don’t understand any of it and I tried to, I thought I might but…” And Lena feels her throat constrict, feels something hot behind her eyes that has nothing to do with Kara and everything to do with the fact that she’s crying again.

 

Kara takes the hand that had been holding Lena’s waist and wipes the tears.  

 

“Okay, okay, we can figure it out, we can…”

 

“They’re planning something. My brother, my mother, they’re going to do something and it’s…I don’t know what and I don’t know how to figure it out but I think it involves you and your cousin or maybe one of you and Arkham and…” 

 

“My cousin? Clark?” 

 

“Yes.” 

 

“How do you know about Clark?” 

 

“That’s who Lex…in Metropolis, the test.” Lena moves so that she’s off of Kara, pulls back and tries to ignore all the other things both of their bodies want to be doing besides talking about Kara’s cousin as she recounts the story, as the heat in the room dies down right along with the heat between the both of them. 

 

And Kara turns on a light then, casting the hotel room in a stark glow as she finds her book that had been haphazardly thrown to the side in the previous activities and starts flipping through pages. 

 

“What are you doing?” Lena asks and Kara holds up a hand as Lena falls silent and just watches. 

 

She digs through the drawers and finds a small notepad that has the hotels name and address at the top and she starts writing, draws a symbol Lena recognizes and lays note after note around the floor in a circle - like she’s putting together a puzzle - like she’s connecting pieces that Lena had given her with the pieces she had herself. 

 

“Clark Kent is my cousin. My biological cousin.” 

 

“Yes, I know,” Lena states after Kara declares what she already knows. 

 

“He and I both lost our parents.” 

 

“I know. Brainy mentioned some of it,” Lena states and Kara nods. 

 

“I didn’t know about him, not until I was about to graduate high school and I did one of those DNA test things, just to see, and he popped up. I contacted him, he was out of college, working at the Daily Planet as an intern by then, we met up for coffee, kept in contact, he’s one of the reasons I figured out I wanted to be a reporter.” 

 

“Okay?” 

 

“His parents died in a building collapse when he was an infant. I wasn’t even born yet, but he was rescued by the fire department, he was one of the only survivors. They still don’t know how he survived. Just like they don’t know how I survived the car crash. Both of us. And it was always weird but…he talked about how he used to think there was a ghost in his room, that it would whisper things to him, tell him he was more powerful than he thought. I don’t know why he told me but I think he thought it would come for me. It never did. But one day he told it to go away and when he did he said he felt something. Like a light.” 

 

“Lex was haunting him. I still don’t understand why.” 

 

“I don’t know either but I think it’s all connected. Arkham. Clark. Me. You. This symbol,” Kara holds up the paper, “It’s appeared in other places, not just Arkham. We have to find out where.” 

 

“I have someone looking into it.” 

 

“Someone else?” Kara asks, “Brainy?” 

 

“Not just Brainy. Another demon like me, someone I trust.”

 

“You’re sure she’s not working for your brother?” Kara asks, pushing the papers as Lena looks at them, reads them, sees the book open to a page her fried brain is trying hard to process. 

 

“She wouldn’t.” And Lena knows Sam wouldn’t, knows Sam has her back in all things, will have her back when the time comes for her to take on her brother and her mother. “Do you have any other family? You or Clark?” 

 

“No, we’re kind of it for the…whatever family tree is ours. House of El, whatever you want to call it.” 

 

“The what?” Lena asks, feeling every muscle in her body freeze. Because she knows that name, has known that name for most of her existence, has been told to fear that name until that house fell. 

 

She hears Lex laughing and saying ‘hypocrites’ in Hell, she hears the silence, she hears Hell’s breath of relief and she starts to put the pieces together, the threads of time and fate and destiny all entwining and she wonders why the Keeper wouldn’t have just told her this. Why he kept it to himself when she had asked the right question, why he hadn’t just shown her…

 

And she knows, deep down, that if he had, she would have run, and if she had run, Lex would have won. 

 

“It’s Clark’s joke. He thinks our parents might have been in a cult because we have sort of a weird last name thing. It’s like our fathers names combined with a whole house thing, it’s odd. Honestly I never went by it, I didn’t even know it was a thing until he showed me some birth certificate that had his real name on it. I was always just Kara to my parents. I don’t think they were involved and if they were…I mean I can’t exactly ask them but…it would explain some stuff. The connection. And the house is…” 

 

“The House of El,” Lena whispers, still trying to wrap her mind around that and the woman kneeling on the floor surrounded by papers and a book written by a drugged out former musician/demon hunter/warlock. A woman she found in a haunted house, who she followed because she felt something, a light, a warmth, something that had sparked a curiosity. 

 

Apples. Forbidden gardens. Icarus chasing the sun. It all felt even more cliche. 

 

“His name was Kal-El, weird, right? I think I was Kara Zor-El, I don’t get it, again, probably some doomsday cult they escaped which actually brings me to my next point and this…” Kara holds the page from the book up, the page marked with a big red star in the corner, whose title Kara had underlined in that same red marker and Lena finds she can’t breathe. 

 

“See if they were in a doomsday cult, which I’m weirdly compartmentalizing right now but will definitely freak out about later, probably, so be prepared, but if they were I think that’s why Lex was interested in Clark and why we might be connected because…” 

 

“Lena, are you okay?” Kara asks, suddenly noticing Lena standing there, staring and Lena feels the entire world spin, feels her very bones threaten to collapse because Kara…Kara…she’s…but the Keeper said she was human? She is human, she has to be human…Lena would have known, would have felt it and…she had…she had…

 

The wheels in her mind keep spinning, keep replaying Swift Street and Kara’s sudden warmth and how her life, her existence suddenly felt righted and pulled in and…

 

She’d been drawn in. They’d been thrown together. 

 

“Hey, I know it’s scary, I know your family is planning something and I may or may not have had family involved in what may or may not be a cult but I think we can figure it out, we can,” Kara assuages as Lena finally reads the title, as the words fall into place.

 

“Cadmus Ritual,” Lena reads, “The Cadmus Ritual.” 

 

Lena pulls the book closer, reads the words ‘Cadmus’ and sees things like ‘Hell on Earth’ followed by ‘a ruler shrouded in darkness and built by a great sacrifice,’ and all she hears is Lex laughing in the halls of a silent Hell as his plan starts to come into focus. 

 

As he tells her that Clark wasn’t the right one while he stands over her in an alley drenched in rain, as blood drips from both of their faces. 

 

As she reads, “A human born of Fallen yet Holy blood on Earth with a soul tied to Darkness born from Corrupted Light - the Key to the Gate of Cadmus that only blood spilled will reveal and open.” 

 

As she hears him tell her, she would be the one pulled to the light.

 

Darkness born from Corrupted Light. 

 

A Human born from Fallen and Holy blood. 

 

Two souls tied together. 

 

And it’s a lot as Lena lets it all settle over her, just why she was so alienated, why she never fit in Hell, why Kara didn’t quite fit in her home, all of it, the both of them…their souls…why it all feels how it does between them, why they both seek the balance in each other, calling for each other, seeking each other without even realizing it. 

 

And if she had never set foot into Swift Street none of this would have happened, or maybe it would have anyway because they were always destined to meet, weren’t they? They would have just stumbled their way into each other’s lives in some other way. 

 

This was always going to happen. They were always going to happen. 

 

The gravity of it all sinks in as the sun starts to rise, as Lena understands, as she realizes that what she thought Lex was after is far worse than anything she could have dreamed. A plan her mother set into action, understood would always be the end result when she named Lena the Heir to Hell - had helped him coordinate, had moved the right pieces into the right places - had possibly always known about Lena and Kara and the fall of the House of El. 

 

Because her mother may have selected her to rule Hell, but she would never get it, or if she did, it would be an empty space, with nothing left except for her, the last lonely soul forgotten in the darkness - used to bring about the end but left behind. 

 

A tool, a chess piece for her mother to play, to use. 

 

Because Lex was her right hand, meant to be the Heir to Earth. The King to rule over a new Hell of his own making, a Hell where humanity was his, a world where Heaven would be her mother’s eventual Kingdom - where the Luthors owned all planes of existence. 

 

The end of all things. 

 

And suddenly the coming sacrifice makes it all that much clearer. Kara. Or her. Kara opens the gate. Lena delivers her and takes her place, earns her spot, earns her mother and brother’s respect and her place in the Luthor name. 

 

Or she stops her brother, her mother, and saves Kara. 

 

And she knows it’s not a choice. Not at all. It wasn't a  choice when The Keeper told her, it’s even less of a choice now. 

 

She will save Kara, she has to save Kara, her soul…she can’t even think it out loud, not here, not like this. 

 

“So if we figure out where the other symbols were, where it all lines up we can find this gate thing, we can stop it, we can destroy them and…” Kara looks at Lena, her tired eyes curious as she steps closer to Lena and Lena takes a step back, can’t help but see the warmth, the bright she’s not supposed to touch behind them, and it doesn’t make sense, it can’t and yet it all does, it explains it all and Lena can’t speak. 

 

“Lena, we will figure it out.” Kara’s hand lands on Lena’s cheek and Lena nods as she places a kiss on Kara’s wrist and wonders about her own existence, about both of their existence and the tiny ripples in time and space that got them here, to this room, to this moment, to a possible apocalypse beginning right in front of their eyes. 

 

And how does she tell Kara this, how does she deliver this revelation, this entire upending of her existence, of who she thought she was, what she thought she was, when Lena doesn’t fully understand what it means for either of them, what she even is. 

 

How does she begin to share that? 

 

“Kara,” Lena starts but there’s a loud knock on the door and Nia’s voice is shouting. 

 

“Wake up call! You two better be decent and showered and thanking me for whatever activities you got up to because we have a flight back to National City to catch!” 

 

“We’ll figure it out,” Kara repeats with a whisper to Lena, “Nia and Brainy will help. It’ll be okay. I promise.” 

 

Lena nods but she knows it won’t be okay, knows what’s coming, what will happen. 

 

And then Kara is packing up her notes and the world spins on as if it had never been disrupted at all. 

 

Lena finds herself packing too and getting dressed without really thinking about it,  wishing Sam would be back soon, would help her out, because she has no idea what to do now, with herself, with Kara, with this information. 

 

She has no idea what to do when she’s just learned her soulmate is a half-human half-fallen angel and she’s not entirely just a demon and she has a soulmate which means she has a soul and there’s an apocalypse coming.

 

It’s not even eight in the morning. 

 

She really needs a cup of coffee.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TEN: SOMEWHERE A CLOCK IS TICKING

 

Telling Nia and Brainy is the easy part it turns out - largely because Brainy already knows and Nia pretends to be shocked by the revelation that Lena is a demon only to drop the act not ten seconds later with a ‘yeah we figured it out.’

 

They’re sitting in a cafe in the airport, far in the corner, waiting for their flight as people walk by and pass around them - living their lives - blissfully unaware that not only is the world full of a lot more of the odd and supernatural but also might just be ending. 

 

And the two humans, one mostly human but also not, and one demon but also something else (she’s still wrapping her head around that part among other things) sitting in the corner of an overpriced airport cafe are the keys to saving it. 

 

And also possibly ending it. 

 

It’s loaded and Lena still hasn’t completely come to terms with all the details and semantics and the soulmates of it all, but…

 

It seems like she and Kara may be both cause and solution. 

 

Kara is the answer. That’s what Sam had said, what the Keeper had told her - she’s the answer. 

 

But the answer to what? Saving the world? Saving Lena? The answer to a question Lena doesn’t even know to ask? The answer to her heart? All of the above? 

 

Or maybe there is no question, she just simply is the answer, the answer to what Lena has been searching for because they are quite literally, bound, in both fate and circumstance. Bound by the stars, bound by the universe, tied together in all manners of ways.

 

And Lena doesn’t know what to make of that either, doesn’t know, can’t even begin to fully comprehend the weight of it because it feels much too heavy, much too important and large and world ending (literally). 

 

A demon with a soulmate? It seems like a joke. Like the universe specifically said let’s fuck with Lena Luthor in particular. 

 

And to make it even more fucked up, the universe said let’s throw in a half-human half-angel as said soulmate, except oh wait she doesn’t know about the angel blood part and also the fact that she shouldn’t exist technically, and also that her father is a fallen one who also should have, by all rights, been killed to prevent any offspring from ever existing. 

 

Lena hears Lex saying ‘hypocrites’ and she knows he knew, knows deeper now, that the fall of the House of El was why he laughed in Hell, why he hated them when Kara and her cousin were born on Earth. When they shouldn’t have been. 

 

She remembers the relief in Hell and she wonders if it was because Clark’s parents were gone and they assumed he had been destroyed too. 

 

Because that was the rule, that was the law - angels do not breed with humans, angels do not have half-human half-angel babies that could potentially wreak heavenly magic and wrath upon humanity - the Earth is its own domain. 

 

She remembers Lex laughing and she knows he had to have been haunting Clark then, knows he must have been putting all the pieces together before he knew about Kara, wondering if it was always going to be Clark, except…

 

Lena knows the history, the stories of Jor-El and Lara, two beings who fought heavenly wars, who ruled, who were symbols of Heavenly Justice - and who both fell to Earth to escape further wars between Heaven and Hell. Knows that both of them were not human. 

 

She supposes the prophecy could have meant Clark except, Fallen and Human blood would not have applied - he would have been human enough but he would have only carried Fallen blood. 

 

Unless Lex thought there was a chance Clark’s potential offspring could have applied to said ritual and Lena supposes it could have, but that wouldn’t have confirmed the soulmate part - the Darkness from Corrupted Light that was said soulmate - which she now knows refers to herself.

 

She supposes Lex must have suspected enough - must have known where she originated from, who she originated from, even if she did not and still doesn’t entirely know. 

 

Because demons are created, from darkness and ritual and blood, but she wasn’t. Not entirely. 

 

Born from corrupted light. 

 

Someone good. Someone human. Someone Lionel Luthor during his reign as King of Hell had tempted. Someone Lillian despised and someone Lex would have known about as the Prince and heir - a moment he would have stored away and recalled for the purpose of prophecy and plan. 

 

And when Lena never returned to Hell, he knew it meant she’d met the soulmate and maybe he wondered if it still meant Clark or a son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter - and then he realized that not nearly enough time had passed, had confirmed that it wasn’t Clark or an offspring - it was Kara.

 

It’s still something she can’t quite grasp, the fact of having a soulmate, of having a soul at all to be tied to another. A soul of her own that isn’t exactly as dark as she was always told it was supposed to be. As she let it be, even if she never really wanted to be - even if she didn’t know it even existed.

 

She thinks back, wonders if she felt it at all, if she’d known it was there, if that’s what had made her feel so other, so much like she never belonged in a place souls went to be tormented and tortured, twisted until they became monsters themselves.  

 

And has her soul been twisted enough to become the monster her mother wanted her to be? Or is it still there, still fighting, clinging on beneath the demon she is. 

 

That’s the other part that she’s struggling with, what this makes her, what she even is anymore. What she could have been had she not been brought below.

 

Born from a human who was corrupted, a good human who must have been…

 

What does that make her then? What is she? What is she meant to be?

 

The questions send her down another path because if she always had something good in her, if she was never truly dark - why had she followed the path set for her? Why had she bartered souls? Why had she followed Lex so blindly when she felt that guilt after and still continued to follow? 

 

How could she have a soul or a soulmate when she’d sent souls to Hell in deals made across time and desperation and hadn’t even asked them if they had thought twice about it? How could she have a soul when she’d spent so long in the cold and buried herself in it, sinking further and further, hoping that it would finally feel like it was supposed to? That she would finally feel like the heir she was supposed to be?

 

And Kara had told her who she had been didn’t define her, who she was choosing to be did, but that still doesn’t erase the guilt, doesn’t erase the things she’s done, the souls that were still being tortured for all eternity because they had been tempted by her into selling them. 

 

And some of them she knows deserve it, deserved all of it, but others…there were others who she followed Lex to and who were desperate and who they played off of that desperation…when she’d given in to the expectations set for her and pretended she didn’t feel anything about it all, pretended to enjoy it.

 

Kara’s hand finds hers, the warmth sudden and grounding, drawing her attention back to the conversation. And she can’t know what she’s doing, can’t know that Lena needed this, but it’s almost second nature and absentminded the way Kara just reaches and holds that Lena wonders, if this is how it works, how they can just know what the other needs without really having to say it - if this is how soulmates operate or if this is strictly just a them thing. 

 

Because they aren’t a thing, not really, not yet.  Despite the previous night's activities that a part of her really wants to repeat and go further, despite the memory of Kara’s searing kiss still on her tongue, they still haven’t defined exactly what this is. 

 

And even if she wants more, even if she wants all of Kara, so much so it feels like it might break her…

 

There’s also a much larger meaning to it all now. There’s so much more to it. A weight that just might undo them both.

 

“But why didn’t the holy water work?” Nia asks and Lena blinks, attention fully in the moment now, because…

 

“What holy water?” 

 

“The water you drank? It was supposed to be holy water? Did I get screwed by the internet?” 

 

“I drank holy water? Is that why you freaked out?” Lena looks at Kara and Kara winces. 

 

“I may have forgotten to mention that part. Also I tried to stop you,” Kara offers by way of apology. 

 

“Well, it’s a good thing that only works on possessions,” Lena tells Nia, matter of factly.

 

“I should not have bought a case of it,” she laments, “CatCo is going to have a very weird bill for this show.” 

 

“But alternatively we now have a very good investment against any potential possessions,” Kara offers and both Brainy and Lena shake their heads. 

 

“Okay. So the truth is out but what does this all mean?” Brainy asks, pointing between Lena and Kara, “Why share it with us? What’s the point?”

 

“I mean we both knew,” Nia tries, “And I was…”

 

“Going off the rails, yes, but that doesn’t answer my question. What do we have to do with any of it, unless, you aren’t considering putting this on the show, are you?”

 

“No, absolutely not,” Lena interjects. 

 

“But you are like…I mean the two of you are…” Nia starts but Kara shakes her head and that shuts Nia up. 

 

“There’s more going on, not with us, I mean we haven’t…we’re not…we haven’t talked about, this isn’t about us, well not entirely, I mean I may or may not have had family in a cult but this is like end of the world possible bad,” Kara shares in a rushed breath and Lena squeezes her hand under the table involuntarily, it forces her to take a breath, calms her as much as it calms herself.  

 

“Cult?” “End of the world?” Both Brainy and Nia ask at the same time. 

 

“I’m still not entirely sure the cult thing is real,” Lena tries but Kara is already launching into what she’s researched about the Cadmus Ritual. 

 

And it would be so easy to just rip the band-aid off and maybe offer what the actual ritual might concern, why they might be involved, but she still needs her own actual confirmation before she upends Kara’s entire life. 

 

Before she tells her that the person she thought she was may not be the full picture. That her very blood may contain something more, something she may not even believe in even if she believes in ghosts and demons. 

 

And she knows it’s true, knows in the way she feels about Kara, knows in everything that’s happened between them and how absolutely crushing it feels when they’re apart, but still, she needs all the facts, needs the truth, needs Sam to come back and confirm it or tell her she’s found the real prophecy and it doesn’t involve them at all and also soulmates aren’t real and you’re just in love and it’s all fine, everything is fine, the world is not on fire, it’s not ending, your brother isn’t going to attempt to murder this woman you’re in love with and you aren’t going to die saving her. 

 

But Lena knows that’s just wishful thinking even as the thought of being in love with Kara stops all other thoughts completely, because it’s true, she is, and there’s nothing that can make that feeling stop or go away, no amount of darkness or death that could change it.

 

She loves her. 

 

She followed her from Swift Street into the world and will gladly sacrifice herself for it if it means Kara will live. 

 

Kara is the answer. To the emptiness in her heart, in her life, to where she belongs, to who she is. Kara is the answer. 

 

“So if Arkham was one of these places and you destroyed it then he would be seeking another, correct?” Brainy asks and Lena nods, pulled back into the reality, the nonsensical reality that is a coming apocalypse and a revelation of being in love. 

 

“Then we just need to figure out where this would be, I imagine they must intersect, or be connected?” He looks to Kara and she flips through her notes.

 

“If we start with where Arkham was located and operate under a ley line theory…”

 

“Are ley lines a thing?” Nia asks Lena who shrugs. 

 

“Kind of, there are nexuses of power that run along certain pathways but it’s not like Ghostbusters or anything.” 

 

Kara beams. 

 

“What?” 

 

“I’m glad you’ve seen Ghostbusters. I mean I’m still shocked you hadn’t seen Twilight or Titanic but…Ghostbusters is solid.” 

 

“I’ve seen some movies, Kara just not all of the ones that you have and not…I’ve been to the movies before and dealt with people who liked movies.”  

 

“Dealt with?” Nia asks and Lena shakes her head. She’s not doing this here now, she’s not dredging up the past, not with Lex out there, not with the world ending, not with soulmates and fate and circumstance and love bearing down over her head like the sword of Damocles ready to fall. 

 

She can’t. 

 

She doesn’t even mean to bring it up, hates how it weighs and feels when Kara’s soft smile drops at her sudden tone, as she removes her hand from Kara’s because it’s too warm, it’s too steady, too much, too kind…

 

Too good. 

 

And she isn’t good. No matter what the prophecy of coming from corrupted light may say she might potentially be. She’s not good. Because that’s the truth. Corruption and darkness, she isn’t good. 

 

And Kara is. And she’s going to die to save her.

 

“Just…start with Arkham, trace a line and see what connects and I’m sure we’ll find something. I’ll find something. Let me know what comes up.” Lena walks away from the table, she needs to get away from them, from Kara, from her…

 

Friends. 

 

She’s not supposed to have friends. She’s not supposed to have a soulmate. She’s not supposed to fall in love or feel and it all circles and circles and keeps twisting around her mind all the things she’s not supposed to have and how it’s going to end. 

 

It all ends. And Kara can’t know until it’s done, can never know, because it’ll only hurt her more after it’s done.

 

And Lena could turn around, could tell Kara everything, what’s going to happen, that they need to keep her and only her safe, but she doesn’t, not really, because her mind is far away, in the darkness of Hell, in the darkness of her life, darkness that has always felt off and confusing and not hers, like it doesn’t belong to her but she’s supposed to want it. 

 

That cold that she’s always had, that power that was never right for where she was. 

 

And it wasn’t right, was it? It wasn’t home. It wasn’t meant to be. 

 

Or perhaps it was, for a time, until fate and her own hatred of that home, her own need to get away, intervened. 

 

And Kara walked into her life with a camera and terror and a ghost hunting show and Lena had laughed, had laughed, and felt the sun and it had all spiraled from there. 

 

She doesn’t know where she’s going, not really, just wandering in the airport, trying to get away, surrounded by people and alone, so alone - just as she’s been her entire existence, her entire life. 

 

And none of them know, not really, what lurks in the darkness, what could come to pass, that the end is coming, none of them can sense it or see, or want to see, and how could she of all things in the universe deserve a soulmate when these humans, these people, who were once her prey, were once things she made deals with, whose souls were currency she operated in, did not all have one? 

 

How could she have a soul when she and her brother walked into towns destroyed by wars and offered soldiers a chance to go home, to not die, in exchange for theirs? 

 

And she never understood why they took the deals, why they were desperate enough to trade one Hell for another, why they rushed at the opportunities to see family and home only to be met with tragic accidents five years after a war they might have survived? Why they traded an eternity in darkness and cold and torture for a little extra time with those they loved most?

 

Maybe she understands now. Maybe she sees the point, that knowing the end is coming, knowing there’s a death waiting, knowing that any day could be the last, getting a certainty and sure amount of time with the people who matter most, knowing the value of it - it’s worth it.

 

And maybe, in a way, this is a punishment, this is the absolution for the misdeeds, she gets a soulmate and is destined to die for them all in one fell swoop. Maybe that’s the price. 

 

And she’ll pay it. 

 

She’ll pay for Kara’s soul with whatever mangled one she has, one that has been molded and broken by a family that tried to shape her into something like them but failed at every opportunity. 

 

She remembers walking Hell with her mother, after Lionel had been dethroned, had lost himself to trying to gain more power in the darker places on Earth, had become some shadow of a thing once called a King, she remembers Lillian telling her she was the future of Hell and she wonders now, if Lillian had known the plan, if Lillian and Lex had always known the plan, or if it had grown as Lillian saw that Lena was not meant for the world of darkness and cold, that there was something pulling her to the light. 

 

And now that she knows, she can see that it’s been there, that she tried to bury it by following her brother, by being the heir, but it was never really gone. It was always there in the choice to only seek out the darker souls looking to make deals - who deserved their places in Hell. In her lack of taking any as years passed. In her isolation in Hell. In her friendship with Sam. 

 

There was always something good trying to work its way to the surface, in the back of her mind. Something that was meant for Kara to wake up and find. Something that was meant to make her worthy of someone with fallen blood. 

 

And she wonders, if Kara knew, would she think she was. 

 

She finds she has trouble breathing as the crowd gets larger as the airport fills, as people rush towards their destinations or check in for their flights, somewhere there’s a kid crying and a couple fighting and someone arguing with a ticket agent about a canceled flight while someone else’s roller bag falls and clatters loudly to the floor and a group of teenagers laugh as they try on sunglasses and hold up tourist shirts from one of the gift shops. 

 

It’s too much. 

 

The world is too much. 

 

It’s too loud and bright and she’s suddenly too warm. 

 

She misses the cold. The silence. The darkness. The solitude.

 

She misses when she didn’t care what was going on up here, when she didn’t know who was up here. 

 

She finds herself in the bathroom, mercifully alone, as she stares down at the sink while the water runs. 

 

It doesn’t stop her from thinking, but it does make it a little easier to breathe. 

 

“That water sending you a message or something?” Kara asks and Lena looks up and sees her in the mirror, a worried look in her eyes that has Lena shutting off the water with a squeak of the faucet. 

 

Lena takes a breath as Kara approaches, leaning against the sink next to her. Back to the ceramic, looking at her and waiting patiently for Lena to say something - but she doesn’t know what to say, how to begin, how Kara even knew to find her. 

 

Right, soulmates, might have something to do with that. 

 

“We’re going to figure this out, they won’t win,” Kara tries but Lena takes another heavy breath, staring at the water as it swirls down the drain. 

 

“That’s not…I’m not worried about them winning, I know they won’t.” 

 

“Then what are you worried about?” 

 

Lena doesn’t know how to begin to answer that, because it’s not so much worry, even when it is, because it’s everything, it’s them, it’s her, it’s who she was, who she is, who Kara is, it’s lies and truths and all of it, it’s what this means, what they mean, what could and will happen. 

 

“I could go back,” Lena whispers and she knows she can’t, knows there’s no going back, there hasn’t been since she followed Kara from Swift Street, since that one moment put them on this path towards the inevitable.

 

“What? No!” Kara straightens and her eyes widen and the room suddenly feels too empty as her voice echoes off the tiles and the walls with its indignation and refusal, “You can’t, I won’t let you do that, you…you can’t…” 

 

Kara slides closer, still not too close, but Lena can feel her warmth enough in the cold of the airport bathroom, “I know that place was your home, but you said it yourself, you didn’t belong there.”

 

“I don’t know where I belong.”

 

Kara swallows like she wants to say something else, like she has an answer and Lena can feel it in her bones just as she feels it in Kara’s quiet exhale of breath - exactly what Kara wants to say, what she doesn’t for fear of it being too much too soon. 

 

Right here. With me.  

 

“My family, what they’re going to do…what if I could save everyone just by going back?” 

 

And she knows it can’t, knows it won’t, she’ll only be forced into the ritual anyway, but maybe if she goes back she can play along, she can take her brother out before it all goes down. Maybe she could save everyone without it ever coming to the real end, without Kara ever having to be aware. 

 

“And what if it doesn’t? What if they kill you, if you can even die, can you die?” 

 

“I think so.” 

 

“Then, no. They could hurt you, they could kill you, and then they’ll just do this thing anyway. And if we have any hope of winning, we need you. I need you.” And Kara is determined and Lena knows her plan is flawed and half-assed and she wouldn’t have truly been able to go through with it anyway, but there’s no arguing further.

 

They sit in silence for a few minutes, Lena’s hands still on the sink as Kara crosses her arms and they’re both lost in thought, both too far apart and both unsure of where they stand or what they’re supposed to be. 

 

“Lena,” Kara starts, voice quiet and strained. 

 

“Kara.”

 

“Last night…”

 

“Do you really want to talk about us and last night in the airport bathroom?” Lena asks with a smirk that has Kara looking at her with narrowed eyes and the telltale fighting of a smirk of her own as a light blush creeps across the bridge of her nose. 

 

“Then when? Where? When the world is actually ending? The next haunted location?” And the blush has disappeared, and it is not an actual argument but there is a frustration in Kara’s words, at the world, at her, Lena can’t tell but there’s a piece of her that understands, that knows, there’s something tragic and angering about the two of them starting to figure this out, to have started something the night before only for the entire world to be ending by the morning. 

 

“Is there an us?” Kara asks and her voice is small and whispered and Lena feels her heart almost break at how uncertain it is. 

 

“Do you believe in fate?” Lena asks and Kara’s brow furrows, “I mean I know you believe in ghosts but, fate?” and Kara’s furrowed brow softens even as Lena’s lack of answer to her original question keeps her unsure. 

 

“Would it be slightly hypocritical if I said no?” 

 

“You don’t?” 

 

Kara shrugs, “I don’t know. I think…I think there’s paths, but I also think we have choices and it’s our choices that determine our fates, not the other way around.”

 

“Astra inclinant, sed non obligant,” Lena says, quietly, more to herself but Kara hears her in the echo of the bathroom. She cocks her head to the side and Lena can feel her heart flip, can feel it quite literally somersault like a schoolgirl crush and all she wants to do is kiss Kara but she stops herself because they’re in an airport bathroom and she’s not sure if she should, despite the night before. 

 

“What does that mean?” 

 

“The stars define us, they don’t incline us. It’s Latin.”

 

“Of course it’s Latin. It’s pretty Latin, but of course it’s Latin.”

 

“What is that supposed to mean?”

 

“Nothing just very cliche of a demon to speak Latin.” 

 

And that does make Lena laugh, truly, which in turn has Kara beaming and the tension of the messy definitions of their relationship fade in the glow of the overhead lighting and too bright ceramic tiles. 

 

“It’s a good sentiment, despite the cliche.” Kara shrugs. 

 

“I always thought so.” 

 

“So you don’t believe in fate either?” 

 

“I didn’t. That might have changed.” And she stares at Kara, hard enough for her to get the point, unblinking and as close to the truth as she can get, which in turn has Kara glancing from her eyes to her lips and back and they’re closer than before and not close enough when Lena turns to look back at the sink. 

 

“But I think you’re right too. We do have a choice and those choices can make or break our fates. And it turns out our choices might be responsible for the world’s fate, so no pressure there.”

 

“Yeah, no pressure.” Kara shifts on her feet, letting out a heavy breath at the sudden distance, “But, you know my dad had a phrase he liked to throw around too in, not exactly this situation, but, still, family motto and all that.”

 

“Oh yeah?” 

 

“It’s not Latin,” Kara mocks with a reverence emphasized on the long dead language that has Lena rolling her eyes, “But it was nice enough.” 

 

And maybe Lena shouldn’t ask, maybe she shouldn’t tip toe or find out about the fallen angel that was Kara’s father but, Kara is lost in a memory and Kara is sharing and Kara is warm and trying to make her feel better, hopeful, that they can win this. 

 

And it’s working, at least enough that Lena doesn’t feel like at any moment the sky will just open up and start raining blood. 

 

So she lets this woman she loves tell her a piece of something good about the family she lost.

 

“He used to say we were stronger together or El Mayarah as he put it. I think he made it up. Or it could be a cult thing, I hope it’s not a cult thing.”

 

Lena feels the air around her sizzle with something, feels it like the cold snap before a lightning strike as the words, in a language that Kara does not realize or know the true origins of, but that Lena does and has never heard spoken aloud before, ring throughout the air. 

 

It makes the room feel too warm, it almost burns, but not in the way she thinks it should, not in a way that feels like it’s hurting or smiting her, in a way that only makes her want to hold Kara close, to have her say it again and again like it belongs to her, to them - it makes her feel stronger. 

 

The words synge and burn and carve themselves into Lena’s ribs, into the marred soul that she has only recently discovered exists - and it pulls some of the darkness out, like leeches sucking at a wound. 

 

For a moment she smells grass and green and feels a lush Earth under her hands as she lies on a soft blanket beneath a bright sky, hears someone laughing, hears Kara laughing beside her, and it feels like a life that could have been, a life in the sun she could have had, may have had with Kara. 

 

And then it’s gone like a shallow breath, not enough air, not enough time to savor it. 

 

“Are you okay?” 

 

“Yeah…yes…fine…” Lena swallows past the emotion in her throat, past a vision of a future she knows she won’t have, “It’s just…if he made it up it’s quite beautiful. I don’t think it’s a cult thing.” 

 

“You think it’s beautiful? I never really thought about it, I honestly just thought he was pulling something from Lord of the Rings but he was always making up stuff like that, he had this light to him, he worked in a hardware store and odd jobs here and there but…that probably sounds weird, especially after the possible cult thing,” Kara finds herself lost in the reminiscence, her words fading as she realizes Lena is watching her and Lena can see that light, knows that light all too well. 

 

And knowing where it’s from, it only seems like it burns brighter the more aware of it she is. 

 

Lena wants to tell her, needs to explain it with careful words and a gentle touch, but she needs to sort it all out herself first, needs to understand where she comes from outside of her own Hellish origins before she upends everything Kara knows about herself and tells her about her own bonds to Heaven. 

 

Still, she gives her a piece of it, “Well if that light is anything like yours, I think I can understand, because I can see it too.” 

 

Kara looks down and blushes and Lena isn’t sure why she’s so tentative, why the urge to reach out and brush a hand across Kara’s cheek feels suddenly too intimate despite the night before but it does. It feels larger than them, it feels like so much more, like two stars on a collision course destined to change a galaxy. 

 

She feels it all, the universe spiraling around them in this bathroom like the gravity that holds down the Earth. 

 

And if Kara feels it too, she ignores it and reaches for Lena like she knows Lena needs her to, as if she knows that Lena wants to reach but is terrified to. 

 

Because Kara slides closer to Lena with a certainty she lacked before and rests her hand on the sink next to Lena’s own, entwining their pinkies like she’s making a promise. 

 

“We are in this together, okay?” Kara says, “No matter what happens, whether it’s fate or choice, no matter what, we’re in this together. And that means you don’t run off with some half-assed plan to go back to Hell and we figure it out together. Okay?”

 

She stares into Kara’s eyes, sees the light and the fire and a determination she knows must have made the House of El so feared, so revered. And what must have made their fall so painful for above and so celebrated below. 

 

She knows she’d gladly follow that light anywhere. She’d gladly sacrifice herself for that light. 

 

She can’t help but think of Icarus, wings on fire as he sought the sun, and she can’t help but think of her father tearing himself apart to hold onto a darkness that was larger than him - to hold power not meant for him. She thinks of her brother trying to destroy a world so that he may rule over its ashes and she knows, in the end, it will be his hubris that destroys him too.

 

Maybe it’s the destiny of the Luthor name, to seek that which they shouldn’t and can’t hold - to tear themselves apart in their pride to hold the sun and die happily doing it. 

 

She wonders what Kara sees in her eyes, wonders if Kara can see the darkness, can see the things she’s done, can see the Hell she comes from and the corrupted light she may also hold, she wonders if Kara knows that Lena understands that she’d sell her own soul to protect Kara, that she’s very well going to in order to stop anything Lex may do to her. 

 

Lena curls her pinkie around Kara’s and squeezes as she promises, “Together,” and means it but knows it comes with the caveat, ‘until the end of the world’ which in no uncertain terms equally means, ‘until I am forced to leave you to save you.’

 

But Kara doesn’t need to know that part, not yet. 

 

“Now boarding Flight 418 non-stop to National City…”

 

“That’s us,” Kara states, “I don’t know about you but I am definitely going to pass out on the flight.” 

 

“Should I ask them for a pillow or will you be using my shoulder again?” Lena jokes and Kara blushes a deeper red as they walk out of the bathroom, pinkies still entwined until they exit. 

 

---

 

Trying to prove your best friend/co-worker you investigate ghosts with/woman you caught feelings for and panicked about is a demon and that demons are real is nothing compared to trying to determine where the apocalypse will begin and how it will begin and how to stop it. 

 

If Kara had been determined to figure out one mystery concerning Lena, it’s nothing compared to the determination she has when the entire world may or may not be on the line. 

 

She takes her entire conspiracy board - the one that had been about Lena - and wipes it and brings it in to set it up in Brainy’s office early Monday morning. 

 

“Oh okay so we’re fully committing to becoming these paranormal investigators,” Brainy states as he fills the mini-fridge with energy drinks and healthier snack options like yogurts and apple slices he knows Kara won’t touch judging by the two boxes of variety chips that each proudly proclaim to have five packages of each. 

 

He looks at one that is entirely Doritos and Cheetos and wonders if he has enough napkins to prevent the inevitable crumbs and fingerprints that will soon be detailing parts of his office - including the conspiracy board. 

 

“Brainy it’s the world! It’s an apocalypse!” 

 

“Have you slept?” 

 

“I got like a solid nap on the plane and then a few hours before I gathered all this up.” And she had spent the larger part of Sunday night trying to ignore a gnawing feeling in her chest as she tossed and turned and wondered if she called Lena would Lena come over, would it be too soon to ask her to just stay the night, was it wrong when the world was on the line? 

 

And then her brain had started firing off question after question as she stared at the ceiling. 

 

Did demons actually sleep? Would Lena even answer the phone? Did Lena even want the same things? What were they even to each other now? What was this thing they had? Is it a relationship? Are they girlfriends? Are they still just friends with something more between them? The something more being of course the almost sex but not quite all of it that had happened - the almost she definitely wanted to no loner be defined as almost.

 

And also the feelings, Kara notes, also the lots of feelings. 

 

And if she had called Lena would that almost have disappeared, would they have talked about the feelings, would they have talked at all - well, maybe after. 

 

By the time her alarm went off the questions had died down but she hadn’t slept and she had never actually called Lena. 

 

Lose-lose. 

 

She remembers the plan she and Lena had come up with before parting ways, before Lena had watched her carefully get into her apartment building, scanning all around like she was looking for threats and Kara supposes she probably was. 

 

Maybe there are more ghosts that Lena can see, or maybe she’s just worried about her family doing something to her. 

 

So she’s worried about her? Kara asks herself, Lena is worried about her which means she may have answered had Kara called. 

 

Kara should have called. Maybe then she would have slept. 

 

Maybe they could have done something else besides sleeping and then slept later. 

 

She shakes her head, she’s at work now, she can’t be dwelling on Frat Boy level thoughts because that is not her, at least not all the time, at least it didn’t used to be, but there’s something about Lena that has her a lot more frustrated than any other relationship, any other person, has made her before. 

 

“Lena isn’t coming?” Brainy asks, looking behind Kara as he shuts the door to the editing room where they will for sure never be disturbed, fully breaking Kara away from all thoughts of Lena and frustration and wanting her. 

 

“Right, we have a plan,” Kara states and remembers why they had had to split up, why Lena wasn’t with her. Divide and conquer, slightly apart but still working together. Lena has to figure out the prophecy part, the whole actual ritual and possibly the cult thing, while Kara and Brainy have to figure out where this last seal or whatever is going to be, where it all converges. 

 

“She and Nia are going to try to find her friend and find out what this whole ritual thing is amongst other details.” 

 

“What detail?” 

 

“A personal detail. About my family.” 

 

“Is this the cult thing you wouldn’t elaborate on?” 

 

“Yes. And I can’t look into a cult because they freak me out and I especially can’t look into a cult my family may have been in. So Lena and Nia are taking care of that part.” 

 

“Do you honestly think that it could be connected?” 

 

“We can’t ignore any possibilities.” 

 

“And both Nia and Lena were okay with working with each other? After the holy water incident?”

 

“Pretty sure Lena doesn’t know that Nia is going with her.” 

 

“That’s probably for the best,” Brainy states, “Good luck to them.” And then he points to Kara as she opens the first of many bags of Doritos, “Do not touch my computer with your Dorito hands.”

 

---

 

“I don’t need you to help me, Nia,” Lena argues. 

 

“Oh, deja vu, yeah we don’t need to go through the whole argument I had with Kara like forty eight hours ago when I joined your team at that haunted little bar, because you’re not stopping me.” Nia crosses her arms and Lena is very aware of what looks like a water gun attached via holster on Nia’s hip and wants to ask but thinks better of it - she also has the recollection of Nia questioning her on origins she knew about and also potentially trying to have her drink holy water and hold a cross which didn’t work and wouldn’t but still, she had tried. 

 

“Well I’m not Kara and I can stop you.” Lena threatens but Nia stands strong because Nia knows, they both do, that Lena won’t. 

 

“Then stop me.” 

 

Lena sighs, “Nia this isn’t just like a fun little adventure where we go to the library and look up rituals and prophecies. We aren’t doing that, I’m not doing that.” 

 

“Is that not what Kara tasked you with? Solving the prophecy and the cult.” 

 

“There’s no cult. At least not with Kara.” Lena clenches her hands and tries to bury down the secrets, tries to keep it all bottled in because she needs Sam, not Nia, she needs real answers and real evidence and a way to break it to Kara before it all pours out. 

 

“You already know that? How do you already know that? You know what the prophecy thing is don’t you?” Nia accuses and Lena stares at her. 

 

“I don’t know for sure.”

 

“But you suspect?” 

 

“I have a rough outline. That I’m not sharing until I have the entire fact checked essay.” 

 

“So we’re getting the facts, then?” 

 

“No. We aren't. I am.” 

 

“You need backup,” Nia argues.

 

“Not from the person who tried to poison me with holy water.” Lena stares at Nia who clicks her tongue. 

 

“I am sorry about that but, you know what, it was in the interest of protecting Kara which as I’m sure you agree was well worth it. And fair game.” 

 

“I’m leaving now,” Lena starts, “If you want to be useful, you can stay here and scour social media for rivers becoming blood or frogs raining from the sky or demons making the rounds, I don’t know.” Lena shoves a book into a bag and grabs her phone before making for the exit. 

 

She’s not entirely sure why she even made her way into the office today, part of it was to make sure Kara had gotten there safe, part of it was because she had spent the better part of the night watching outside of Kara’s building to make sure she remained safe and needed to keep up appearances that she wasn’t borderline stalking her…what were they…not quite girlfriend, not quite just friend, possible soulmate…they hadn’t exactly had that conversation and in the face of her brother and death it really didn’t seem like it should matter - except it did, it does. 

 

And it’s stressing her out a lot more than the concept of trying to find Sam and potentially having to save her. 

 

Because she hasn’t heard from or seen her friend and she knows, just knows, that it’s all connected, knows Sam knew something, could be in danger as she got her own confirmations and details and she needs her friend to help her now. 

 

But she also has the memory of Kara’s breath against her neck and mouth against her skin and hands…

 

She shakes her head. She has to focus. She has to find Sam, she has to call in backup so she can keep Kara safe. She can’t keep pulling an Edward Cullen and watching from a respectable distance at an alley across from Kara’s apartment - not even if she’s fairly certain had she just knocked on Kara’s door, Kara would have let her in without a second thought, probably would have kissed her too, probably would have done more than that. 

 

Lena slaps the elevator button so hard it cracks and the lights inside flicker. Nia steps inside and glances from it to her. 

 

“No,” Lena argues as the doors close. 

 

“Clearly you need me,” she states pointing to the jacked up button, “Or you need to just get some release, with Kara.”

 

“That is…we’re not having this conversation.” 

 

“But you want to have that conversation with Kara?” 

 

“Nia.” 

 

“Look I think it’s great, I think it works, I don’t know how, but it does. It makes sense. And I also think the two of you need to just make with it because the world might be ending and time is running out and blah blah blah but also because I made a bet with Brainy and I very much need to win so.” 

 

“You’re betting on when Kara and I…”

 

“No, I’m betting on when you and Kara figure out that you’re in love with each other and talk?” Nia starts with a sarcastic tone, “Of course I’m betting on when the two of you finally get down to clowning with each other. It’s been like brewing and very obvious since day one. I mean literally the entire internet is like are they secretly fucking, and yes did I make up the hashtag, yes did I pounce on that and say oh they’re acting like a married couple and a bunch of people followed suit, sure, but it’s also again the end of the world so if not now when. And also these elevators are expensive to fix and I will not be taking the stairs so you and Kara should just, you know, make each other happy in all of the ways you can, while you can. Pretty sure she both needs and wants it just as badly as you do.” 

 

Lena has to rebound from all the turns of Nia’s speech from hashtags to her being the one to comment on the wife thing that Lena is fairly certain unhinged Kara in a way that may or may not have set them on the course they’re currently on (not entirely, Lena knows but it could have contributed) and also led to said frustration and breaking of the elevator button - but she also knows that it’s all a ploy and a distraction because the elevator has dinged, they are in the lobby and Nia is still following her and…

 

Lena turns on her heel, “You are not coming with me. And I will not fall into this game where you distract me with very fast speeches and end up joining me. This is dangerous. And it is not for humans. Demons only.” Lena whispers the last part and Nia glares at her.

 

“I can keep myself safe,” Nia taps the water gun in its holster. 

 

“That only works on…”

 

“Possessions yes, but I also did some other research and,” she motions to another attached holster and reveals a canister of what appears to be table salt at the side, “And also,” she pulls a silver necklace from behind her shirt that has a sigil Lena knows does in fact ward off evil, that does give her a little itch at the back of her throat. And she knows if she tried to hurt Nia it would do much more than that. 

 

Lena glances around her and wonders, in the pockets of her jacket, or hidden at her sides if she has anything else up her sleeve, “John Constantine has an entire chapter devoted to protection and I bought myself my own copy of the book since apparently, it’s accurate.” Nia crosses her arms and waits. 

 

“Or I could always just go to the editing room, tell Kara that you may know all about this prophecy, that you might be hiding something more and that you have a different plan.” 

 

“You do that and I will hurt you.” The lights above flicker but Nia doesn’t back down. 

 

“You try it and you’ll learn everything that I read in that book.” 

 

And there’s no arguing, there’s no trying to call Nia on her bluff because she isn’t bluffing and she knows, sooner rather than later, Nia will most likely have it all figured out, will put the pieces of supposed prophecy, of Lena’s secrecy all together and then Kara will know without Lena getting the entire truth, without Lena learning enough to break it to her gently. 

 

And Kara will know that one of them is most likely going to die, and it won’t be Kara. 

 

Lena takes a breath, “We may need to do a summoning and I can’t be distracted, so don’t be a distraction.” 

 

“Fine by me. One distraction-less ally coming up.” 

 

“No. That’s the opposite of not being a distraction.” 

 

“Do you think we should have a team name? I think we should have a team name? Like code names. We could be the Rescue Rangers, no that’s taken.” 

 

“And we’re not rescuing anyone, well that’s not true we might be but no we can’t…” 

 

“Wait who are we not rescuing? Who are we summoning? Oh the Justice League!”

 

“A League implies more than four people. This is being a distraction!” Lena shouts as they march out of CatCo. 

 

“I would argue this is just fun banter but whatever, you’re the humorless demon,” Nia states and Lena rolls her eyes as the doors shut behind them. 

 

---

 

In between snacks and multiple handwashes Kara puts up maps, connects strings, notes from her book she’d already written and new ones she’s putting together. She pins Arkham in a nice red pin and even draws a big red frowny face next to it before she takes a string and traces a line, mapping and connecting other haunted places, places of darkness, places of interest that may or may not connect (the questionable ones receiving their own yellow colored pin), places that have either been abandoned or where a ritualistic murder seems to have occurred. 

 

It’s that particular newsworthy event that has her pausing as she puts the yellow pin into its location. She can only find the generics, the details that were allowed to make the news, but she knows, she can sense, there’s more to it and it might well be red pin territory.

 

They’ve been working at this since the early morning and It’s well into the afternoon, they’ve both reached a threshold of fading fast, but when Kara finds the potential red pin and shows Brainy a headline from an early run of CatCo magazine that reads, “Sacrificial Murder in New Jersey: Garden State Home to Another Kind of Devil,” it grabs their attention. 

 

And maybe it shouldn’t, maybe it reads like one of those ‘woman gives birth to alien baby’ kinds of stories, but it’s written by Snapper Carr who was once well respected on the crime beat, before he claimed to have seen the work of an actual monster and Cat Grant had quietly offered him an early retirement - his work had been impeccable up until then. 

 

Kara wonders if this is the story that did it, if this is when Cat Grant narrowed down the focus of what she wanted CatCo to become and when she added mental health care to the company health plan. 

 

“If this is about the Jersey Devil,” Brainy murmurs. 

 

“No, look,” Kara points to a picture of the murder site that was featured in the report, a blurry image of police tape blocking an equally blurred crowd and the distant image of a body in a field. But it’s not the body or the field that is the focus, it’s what they can see on a tree near the crime tape - it’s not entirely visible, not all of it, but they both know it’s there. 

 

“Is that…” 

 

“The same symbol. Can you pull up more about what happened?” 

 

“Nothing they released to the press. There’s a follow up, Ra’s Al-Ghul, father to Nyssa Al-Ghul, was arrested for her murder. He claims he was being influenced by a voice, that it was whispering for him for nearly a year to serve it and become the head of the demon and that by killing his daughter it would allow for her to be resurrected in the light of Lazarus and for him to gain power. What the fuck kind of…” 

 

“Brainy.”

 

“I know, it’s definitely a part of it, it’s just…he influenced this man to kill his own daughter and not just kill her but to sacrifice her, that’s…and that’s Lena’s brother.” 

 

“Lena isn’t like that.” 

 

“I’m not saying she is, I’m saying,” he runs a hand through his hair, pulling at it, as the weight of both his exhaustion and what they’re facing hits him, settles over the room like a blanket that lacks any sort of comfort. He sighs, “I’m saying, are any of us, Lena included, truly prepared for what he’s capable of? For what might happen if we engage in this fight?” 

 

“It’s the world, Brainy, the world. We can’t just run away because we’re scared of one monster.” 

 

“It’s not just one monster. It’s a monster that can create other monsters, who enjoys being a monster. A monster we don’t fully understand, who operates in a different plane of existence that we don’t. This is bigger than us, Kara, so much bigger than us.”

 

“So what do we do? Give up? Forget about it and pretend any day the world might not end?” 

 

“No, we can’t. We’re the only ones who know what’s happening, who can do anything about it, but I think we all need to understand what that means exactly. What taking the ring to Mordor truly means.” 

 

“What does it mean?” 

 

“We might not survive it. We might have to make sacrifices. Are you prepared to make that choice, to choose the world over any one of us, including Lena?” And the thought crosses Kara’s mind, the image of a shadow of a monster named Lex Luthor standing over Lena’s body as the world burns around him. 

 

And the truth is, Kara doesn’t know if she could choose the world over Lena, doesn’t know if she would be noble or strong enough to make that choice. And she hasn’t known Lena long, she hasn’t had her in her life long, but it feels like she has. 

 

It feels like the moment they met she had known her entire life and finally found someone she’d been missing forever. 

 

There’s something between them that pulls them together like a magnet, that feels right, safe and secure, that makes her certain in it, like nothing else ever has and Kara can’t, won’t, sacrifice it or Lena. 

 

She’d take her place before she made that choice. 

 

And maybe it’s selfish, she knows it sounds selfish, the entire world for one life, but her fingers burn with how they felt touching Lena’s skin and the memory of Lena’s mouth on hers is too fresh to ignore how it makes her entire being sing with the perfection of it, with how much she wants, how much she loves…

 

“We don’t know if it’s going to come to that.” 

 

“We don’t know that it won’t.” And Brainy fixes her with a somber look that has the reality sinking in all that much further. 

 

This is bigger than them, this is so much more than either one of them signed up for when they began this stupid paranormal show and yet, here they are, staring down an apocalypse and the end of it all from behind a computer screen inside a stuffy editing room, cans of Red Bull littering the floor from where Kara missed the trash can every single time she insisted on throwing the empty ones in - only making one shot out of the eight others. 

 

“One out of eight isn’t so bad,” Kara had said. 

 

“Statistically it is.” 

 

“Statistically one shot is all that matters.” 

 

“Depends on the shot.” 

 

And that had been an hour ago, of the two of them joking, of the two of them pinning strings and scrolling through endless internet boards and social media and True Crime podcasts and finding nothing and hoping that maybe there wasn’t really anything worse, that maybe they had time, that maybe somehow this would all be a dream and someone would come along and say, ‘we’ll take it from here,’ and they could just go to sleep or Kara could actually ask Lena on a date. 

 

But it didn’t happen, it won’t happen, and they’re the ones who are going to have to ‘take it from here.’ Only them. And Nia and Lena. A reporter, a demon, a producer/social media coordinator and a cameraman/editor. 

 

What a team. 

 

Kara picks up a pin, “Where was this exactly?” She asks as she approaches the map, they have no choice, they have to continue, they have to solve this, they have to stop this. 

 

She puts the pin in when Brainy tells her exactly where and it doesn’t connect to Arkham, not directly, it doesn’t even fall on the same line, but it does begin to create a radius, a circle, where the points start to converge. 

 

“What about those true crime websites, the citizen detectives or whatever, do they have something on Nyssa Al-Ghul’s murder? Other signs we can look for? Or someone who might be helping Lex?” 

 

“You think he needs someone helping him?” 

 

“If you were stuck in Hell or trying to do this entire thing, you would need help, right? You would need a team of your own? Maybe this…Ra’s was supposed to be one of them but wasn’t good enough?” 

 

“Or he was just a victim.” 

 

“But someone else might not be.” 

 

Brainy puts a question mark next to the heading ‘Allies’ and puts Ra’s Al-Ghul’s name next to it too. 

 

---

 

The search for Sam starts with seeking out a witch. 

 

Lena knows it’s not the most practical option, she could use Nia to try to summon Sam but that opens up a whole other realm of problems - number one being that Nia might owe her soul to the demon. 

 

She knows Sam would never collect, not truly, but there does pose the problems of contracts and rituals that might force her hand - that might cause Reign to gain a servant whether she wants one or not. 

 

Nia said she wanted to help, she never said she’d sell her soul to help and Lena can’t ask that of her, of anyone. 

 

Besides, there’s no guarantee Sam would even show up, if she’s in trouble, she might not be able to - so a witch is the best option. A witch of the occult and darker things is even better. 

 

They spend at least two hours visiting every ‘magic’ and ‘witchy’ shop throughout National City that Nia Googles and it's only when they’re standing on a street near the waterfront in the Fashion District that they finally find it. 

 

The storefront has candles in the windows and a poster claiming psychic readings for five dollars but Lena can feel it, can sense the darker power in the oil that’s been painted into the wood frame, in the wind chimes that have well hidden runes carved into the metal, in the scent of blood that is hidden underneath a haze of incense burning from somewhere inside. 

 

Lena points and Nia shudders and something in her very human brain doesn’t want her to get any closer and they both know they’ve found the place. 

 

“Eve-il Dead Things: A Magical Emporium. Very wordy, not a great pun even if her name is Eve.” Nia recoils before they cross the threshold. 

 

“Stay out here,” Lena warns and Nia stares her down. 

 

“I told you, I’m in.”

 

“This isn’t a good witch. And I can’t be accompanied.”

 

“If you’re not out in five minutes, I’m coming in and I don’t care who gets in the way of the holy water, even if it doesn’t affect you, I have things that will,” Nia warns and Lena agrees before stepping inside the dimly lit shop. 

 

“Greetings wander…oh,” the shop owner freezes behind the counter, her fake accent dropping almost instantly at the sight of Lena. 

 

Lena stares her down, stares at the many necklaces and dark veil she has over her head that she removes to reveal bright blonde hair as her fidgeting hands remove her many necklaces, most of which Lena can see are just for show. 

 

“How can I help…you?” The owner says with a nervous voice. 

 

“You know who I am. What I am,” Lena warns, the air around her growing colder as she draws in a darker power, sourcing it from the very walls around her. 

 

“What, not who,” she lies and Lena can feel it behind her words, behind the whisper. As she sees a door open to an office, as she sees a map on the wall and what looks like a bowl of blood and a crystal and…she was looking for something. 

 

“Who are you?” Lena asks, sharp as the woman stands up straighter, as she steps in front of the office door and closes it, “Who do you serve?” 

 

“Eve. Tessmacher. This is my store.” She clicks her nails against the counter as she shirks Lena’s other question and asks one of her own, “What can I do for a high demon like yourself? I’ll be honest, I don’t get very many of your kind, this is an honor, but I do have to warn you I don’t do altar sacrifices anymore, so…”

 

“I’m looking for someone, Eve. Reign.” 

 

“Big name.” Eve glances out the window, but Nia remains unseen, which Lena is grateful for even as she hears the tell tale sound of the lock clicking, “No disturbances.” 

 

Eve rounds the corner and Lena feels like she’s being herded, circled, like something is off in the shop around her as she spots a few occult items - namey one specific box she knows her brother made, a puzzle designed to capture and trap the one who solved it, to create a torture so painful until that pain turned to pleasure and a new demon servant was forged. 

 

“I need you to summon her, a true summoning,” Lena states as Eve circles and Lena steps aside, to let her pass. Eve puts a book away, with others on the walls, and Lena reads it’s title, in old German, the word Leviathan on it - Leviathan, one of Lex’s pets, one of his darker creations, a guard, a vicious monster of a demon who will rip and tear and guard her brother with his life, created from the deepest torture and Eve was looking into him?

 

Had she been trying to summon him?

 

“Can’t you summon her or call her? I’m not clear how it works but I would think you’d have a more direct line.” Eve circles once again and opens a drawer and Lena knows this is bad, can feel something stirring in the darkness and magic of the walls. And she can feel it, that Eve is not just any shop owner, even one who dabbles in the darker side of magic. 

 

She’s more than any witch. 

 

“She’s missing. I can’t find her.” Lena looks around, tries to find an exit point before Eve can do anything, but the room is getting hazier, the world dizzier, and Eve keeps walking.  

 

“Missing? How does a demon go missing?” Eve asks but there’s the tell tale smile, the tell tale knowing hint in her words, and carelessness in them as she asks and feigns concern.

 

“Who do you serve?” Lena asks but she knows the answer, can feel it in the walls, in the haze, in Eve’s power - a boon no doubt courtesy of her brother in return for services rendered and a loyal servant. 

 

Dark witches. 

 

She should have known she couldn’t trust the only one she’d found in National City. 

 

Maybe a light witch would have been a better option all things considered - considering her potential origins. 

 

“I think you know the answer, Lena,” Eve tells her as Lena turns. She goes to move, raises her hand in the hopes to do anything to Eve, but she finds herself frozen and unable to move, stuck in place, powerless as Eve flashes a knife marked with all kinds of sigils that Lena knows will make her bleed - could kill her if she wants to, if she tries hard enough.

 

Lena looks up and sees the trap on the ceiling, crudely drawn in chalk, a sign that Eve may have been pressed for time, probably sensed her coming or was worried she might make an appearance, but it doesn’t matter how quick it was done, it was effective all the same -  designed to keep demons in their place, all kinds, even ones like her. 

 

“Shit,” Lena curses under her breath as the haze around her settles, as Eve’s magic fades now that Lena has been effectively trapped and she should have sensed it, she should have seen it, should have known that Lex would have a dark witch at his side. 

 

“I’ll be honest I didn’t think you would show up here, Lena, but your brother did warn me that things might get a little dicey before the ritual. So I was prepared. And, I mean it’s a good thing too because, well…I thought getting your blood was going to be a hassle,” Eve tells her in a sing-song voice. 

 

“My blood?” 

 

“We have to make sure it works, silly.” Eve steps closer with the knife and Lena feels the ancient magic singing through the blade, almost burning in her blood. 

 

“I had a whole plan, well, the outline of one, I mean you know your brother, he doesn’t tolerate failure. But you made it all so much easier just because you cared about your little friend, Reign. I should have just kidnapped her first.” 

 

“What?” Lena asks, pushing against the barrier she’s trapped in, wondering if Nia is even alive outside or if Eve knew she was there anyway, if she did something to her. If her magic is a lot stronger than Lena anticipated. If Nia even knows what’s going on inside or if there’s some kind of block. 

 

“You didn’t take her?” Lena asks, and yes, she’s trapped, yes she doesn’t exactly have the upper hand, but she’s fairly certain Eve isn’t going to kill her, fairly certain Lex needs her alive for this ritual and, if she’s trapped, and if Eve likes to talk, she might as well learn what she can. 

 

“No, that would have been much too obvious that I was involved and then that could have ruined the plan. She showed up here, same as you, looking for answers about fallen angels, demons who aren’t quite all darkness, protection spells, Cadmus, all of that. I sent her to Acrata, if she hasn’t come back well, that's on her.” 

 

And Eve grabs Lena’s wrist with a strength and magic that is only aided by the trap as she digs the knife in enough to start the bleeding, as she catches it in a flask and smiles while Lena winces against the burn in her skin, against the pain of the blade. 

 

“You should be honored that your brother is going to let you live when he rules this world.” 

 

“What did he promise you? A place at his side? Riches, power? Do you really think he’s going to give any of that to you once he gets what he wants?” Lena asks, maybe she can appeal to some fallen soul, maybe not, but either way she’s pretty sure it’s enough of a distraction as she feels around for the weakness in the sigil, in the magic, as she pushes against it and feels the strain in her mind, in her own power fighting against the blocks. 

 

It’s too strong.

 

“I’ve been loyal, why wouldn’t he reward me?” 

 

“Because the only person Lex is loyal to is himself, and even if he promised you a throne, Eve, he will be the only one who sits on it.” 

 

The witch laughs as she cuts again and collects more blood. Lena feels the pain and pushes against the sigil again and again, but nothing breaks it, there’s no weakness. Eve is too prepared as she draws more blood. 




“Sorry, we need enough,” Eve smiles and Lena pushes against the sigil, pushes against the magic trapping her, pushes and pushes, but it’s to no avail. She’s bleeding, she’s stuck, and Nia is probably dead or won’t be able to save her. Maybe she saw what was happening and turned tail and ran - Lena wouldn’t blame her if she had. 

 

“You sent Sam to…Acrata?” Lena asks, breathing heavier, sweating against her own push of power and the blood being drawn, “She’s here?” 

 

She knows that Lex’s coup goes a lot deeper, stretches a lot further, has allies even she couldn’t have anticipated. Sam had told her Acrata had been asking questions when she went to Earth, maybe that was more for Lex’s benefit than her own irritation, her own desire for power. 

 

“She’s been up here for about a week now, I’m surprised you didn’t know, I mean I guess the underground club she’s running isn’t exactly in the papers but surely, you should have sensed it.” And Lena hadn’t, wonders if maybe that had been the same night she had ended up with The Keeper, if Lex wasn’t just there to see her but to also get her out of town and distract her so she wouldn’t notice Acrata’s arrival.

 

Pieces moving around a chess board. And she’s a pawn stuck in a trap. 

 

“It might be a little soon, I mean we still have to secure the bridge, but having you here, getting Kara, that’s just going to make it all easier in the end. Hold still, I just need a little more and then you can sleep until it’s time.” 

 

Eve waves her hand and candles light, filling the air with the same haze that Lena  had felt earlier only this time it’s stronger, more potent and she feels it choking and burning in her lungs, dropping her to her knees as she coughs, as it makes her dizzy and Eve approaches with the knife again. 

 

Lena should have thought this through, shouldn’t have been so confident, should have expected something like this. How had she not expected this? How had she not seen that Lex would have someone in his pocket? How had she allowed herself to be so distracted to not see everything from all angles, to think that walking in here would be safe enough? To think that finding Sam would be so simple. 

 

Luthors and hubris and downfalls - around and around it goes.

 

It’s going to be her fault. Kara. The end. All of it. All because she didn’t check corners, she didn’t check her back, she didn’t think it through. 

 

The world fades and blurs and she knows it’s over, it won’t be long now, she’ll wake up in some spot with Lex laughing at her and Kara dying and it won’t matter what she wanted to do, it won’t matter what she was planning or the things she never told Kara, none of it will matter, prophecy, the Keeper’s words, none of it. 

 

It’s over. 

 

Except a rock comes bursting through the window, shattering it and distracting Eve enough that Lena can at least shove the knife from her even if she’s still stuck against the barrier - can wake up enough as the air pushes its way into the shop and snuffs out one of the candles. 

 

“The sigil!” Lena yells, trying not to pass out as Nia points the water gun upwards, as Eve reaches for the knife, but she’s taking a step inside the trap for Lena and entering the spot where Lena is. 

 

And Lena can grab her from inside so she does. She may not have her power, but she’s still got hands to fight. She twists the knife from Eve’s grasp and turns it around, cutting into the other woman and forcing Eve to scurry back. 

 

A piece of the chalk is washed away by Nia’s water gun and Lena feels her power surge through her like a force, cracks the rest of the sigil with the ceiling and shakes the building with her rage. 

 

The candles snuff out. Eve grabs the flask and in a burst of smoke is gone, leaving the shop behind as she runs. 

 

Nia helps Lena to her feet, looks around at the hanging plants and creepy objects and asks,”So she’s working for your brother?” 

 

Lena nods. 

 

“And you thought I was going to be the problem.” Nia tsks and Lena rolls her eyes and takes a breath of clean air. 

 

“Oh my God, you’re bleeding,” Nia notices. 

 

“I’ll be fine. It’ll heal in a minute. I just…need a minute.” And Lena waves Nia off of her as she takes a seat on the floor against the counter and takes a breath as the cuts start to heal themselves. 

 

She watches Nia assess the damage, the shop around her, the bloody knife and the entire room that looks like some weird ritual murder scene or haunted house. 

 

“What was she…”

 

“She took my blood.” 

 

“Your blood? Is that…is that like a problem or bad?” 

 

“Yeah, it’s a problem.” Lena points to the office door, “She was looking for a place, a bridge, there’s a map in the office. It might be their Arkham replacement.” 

 

Nia opens the door and finds the map, finds the little altar and magic and recoils at the sight, “She killed a bird! This is gross!” 

 

“You wanted to come!” 

 

“It’s a good thing I did! Kara’s gonna be so pissed when she finds out I almost let you die and that you had your blood stolen.” 

 

“She’s not going to find out. At least not until we’re done.” 

 

“What?!” Nia returns carrying the map as she argues with Lena, “I think this is a good sign we’re done. We have her books and stuff, we can figure out the prophecy here and...” Nia notices the way Lena won’t meet her eyes, the worry still in them. 

 

“That’s why she took your blood, isn’t it? It involves you.” 

 

And she can see Nia go over it mentally as she recites the prophecy, “Blood from fallen and corrupted light…wait…does that make…Kara’s involved too, isn’t she?” 

 

“Why would you think she’s involved?” Lena asks, defensive as her cuts fade to scars. 

 

“Because you’re defensive and you don’t fit the fallen part and there’s the other thing that says two souls tied together and that’s you…and Kara.”

 

Lena takes a heavy breath and hates how smart Nia is, but is also grateful for it, grateful that she’s practical and crafty enough to have been able to save her when she needed it. 

 

“She doesn’t know and we can’t tell her, not yet.”

 

“And rescuing this other demon isn’t just about getting all the facts, is it?”

 

“I just…we can’t leave her there, she’s my friend and we need her help. I need her help to keep Kara safe. Because I can’t do it alone and you and Brainy can only go so far.” 

 

Nia seems to take this in, to fully understand the importance of getting another ally who can protect Kara. 

 

She nods, “Well, we can’t go in there without a plan. And judging by this map they already have their final place in mind to complete their gate reveal or whatever and get to the final step to the end the world, backup is probably for the best. Where is she?” 



“With the demon who owns that final place.” 

 

Nia sighs, “I hope Brainy and Kara are having a less eventful day.” 

 

---

 

Kara has the idea to ask her sister about the symbol, to show it to her and see if she can get anything. She’s fairly certain Alex is going to give her the run around of how she can’t just give her information from the FBI but Kara also knows that if Alex has seen it before, she won’t be able to lie about it, not in a way that Kara won’t be able to tell she’s lying about it, so it feels like a win-win scenario. 

 

She’s not exactly lying when she says it’s for a story, it kind of is, it’s for the show, she’s just downplaying the whole end of the world aspect of it. 

 

And if she looks like she hasn’t slept properly since the day before on the plane, well, she hopes it isn’t super noticeable. 

 

It is. 

 

Alex calls her out on it immediately when she arrives at the diner down the street from CatCo for an early dinner/late lunch. The sun is setting and Kara is exhausted, but she pushes on and hugs her sister when she meets her and Alex looks her up and down, the worry palpable.

 

“Oh my God, what happened? Did your last investigation go super badly? Wait, did you and Lena…” The worry turns to teasing and Kara brushes her off. 

 

“Stop, no, I mean…not yet, but also kind of…no, that’s not, I…I’m working on a story!” Kara yells as the lie does not come out nearly as smoothly as it should, as her thoughts of Lena and kind of and almost flare up and her ears get a little red and her neck gets a little too warm and Alex is smirking.

 

“What do you mean not yet?! Is this like a thing, has it happened?! I have to text Kelly!” 

 

“Alex,” Kara warns and the blush fades and Alex puts her phone down. 

 

Kara temporarily looks inside the diner and watches as someone’s plate of pancakes gets brought to them and vaguely thinks about delaying the conversation until they’re inside but, no, band-aids and all that. The world and all that. Best to just get it over with. 

 

Still, it’s probably not best to do this on the street. And she’s only had Doritos and Cheetos all day. 

 

“We should go inside.”

 

Alex, mercifully, remains silent yet suspicious as they’re seated at a booth and coffee is poured which Kara is also extremely grateful for as she downs half of it before registering she hasn’t added any sugar or cream and it’s burning her throat and it’s about five thirty in the afternoon which is not a usual time for her to be drinking coffee. 

 

“Fucking Christ,” she coughs as she reaches for the water, “Hot.” 

 

“I bet.” Alex sips hers and stares, before diving in, “Alright so this isn’t about you and Lena, though I would like to circle back to that, but, what story has you looking like a basement goblin trying to solve JFK? Is it JFK? You know I don’t have any secret information on something like that.” And then Alex stares her down harder, “Wait did you seriously call me because you think I can help you with a story? Kara.” 

 

“No, I mean kind of but, no,” Kara murmurs and Alex shakes her head. 

 

“It's a conflict of interest, I can’t.” 

 

“I know and I wouldn’t even call if it wasn’t super important and I promise you it is. Please. Just look at this,” Kara produces the printed image of the symbol. Slaps it down on the table in front of her sister, forcing Alex’s attention to the image Brainy pulled from the book, clear and sharp and there’s no mistaking Alex’s expression as she turns the paper around, as she pulls it closer, as she stares at its lines and curves.

 

She recognizes it.

 

“Where did you find this?” She asks as she looks from it to Kara. 

 

“It was in Arkham. And it’s been in other places. Bad places, murders and…and you know what it is, don’t you?” Kara can see she’s getting paler, can see a nervousness, can see in the forced way she stares at her - compartmentalizing, hiding, lying without lying. 

 

“Nothing I can give to the press.”

 

“How about your sister?”

 

“Not the sister who is also the press.”

 

“Alex, please, what is it?” Kara pleads and she knows her voice is strained, desperate and that Alex can tell this has nothing to do with her job at all, that she knows something about it just as Alex does. 

 

“You’re not working on a story, are you?”

 

Kara stares at Alex and Alex stares back, an entire argument and conversation where the both of them wait, reading each other, where Kara is practically begging and Alex can’t help but trust and give in and hope that she’s not going to get fired or worse for this. 

 

“Please,” Kara begs again and Alex sighs, leaning a little closer, voice falling quieter, forcing Kara to lean too. 

 

“We don’t know what it is, not exactly, but it’s been found at some, unsettling, scenes. A few, actually.” 

 

“Like Nyssa Al-Ghul.” 

 

Alex nods, “Among others. It first showed up five years ago, when I started as an agent. We found it on a small plane crash further North.” 

 

“The Oliver Queen crash?” And Kara remembers marking it down on the map, remembers a maybe next to it, remembers that very story and Alex telling her she had been assigned to a crash, to investigate whether or not there had been any foul play - but Kara, and Alex, she had assumed, had previously chalked it up to nothing more than mechanical failure when no other news came out about it.

 

Until she had marked it on the map earlier in the day, until she had seen that it fit into what was beginning to look like a circle, and now knows that she’ll have to change the color pin when she gets back to the office. 

 

“Something crashed the plane, but it wasn’t an accident, and the Queens didn’t die in the crash itself. There was too much…they were shredded, like they had been torn apart and we found that carved into the plane, their blood soaking into it. We never released that information. And we thought it was isolated but, it kept showing up, in other places, tragedies, accidents, crimes. A camp massacre last year.”

 

“Where was that?” Kara asks, making a mental note of a camp massacre. 

 

Alex shakes her head, “I thought it might have been a serial killer, a seemingly random one, but…then I was given a special assignment, last year, after the camp.”

 

“What assignment? Why didn’t you mention it?” 

 

“I can’t talk about it. I’m not allowed to talk about it, that’s why it’s a special assignment.” 

 

“But you’re talking about it now,” Kara argues.

 

“Because you asked.” 

 

“Alex, please, whatever it is, I can handle it. And I’m not going to tell anyone. At least, not anyone who can’t do anything about it.” 

 

“What does that mean?” Alex asks as she stares at Kara, as Kara takes a breath. 

 

“I think I know who's doing this, and I think I can help stop it.” 

 

“What? Kara, no, no this is not some fun little paranormal investigation into a haunted house or creepy prison where you jump at a shadow or creaking door, this is real,” Alex argues and then catches herself and stops talking. 

 

“What’s real?” Kara insists, staring hard at her sister, her voice lowering as the sun sets in the sky and the streetlights click on, the neon sign overhead casting the street in an eerie blue glow. 

 

There’s a long time where Alex doesn’t speak, where Kara can tell she’s debating with herself just what she should do, whether or not she should get up and walk out, whether or not Kara can handle what’s about to be told to her. 

 

One side of the argument wins and Alex states, “That crash is the first time I’ve seen that symbol but it’s not the first weird…thing, I’ve seen. Neither is the camp.” 

 

“I don’t understand.” 

 

“There’s a reason I was recruited and it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I was the only one asking other questions about this thing,” Alex points to the paper, “Questions that other agents didn’t think to ask because they hadn’t seen anything to tell them that…maybe it wasn’t…human. Or normal.” 

 

And Kara blinks because, “What are you saying? You’re like in the X-Files?” And Kara laughs but Alex doesn’t and Kara knows that she is. 

 

“I mean we don’t call ourselves that because I’m pretty sure it’s copyright infringement but…basically.” 

 

“And you made fun of me for believing in ghosts?!” Kara argues and Alex raises her hands as Kara lowers her voice. 

 

“In my defense, your show is hilarious watching you jump at the wind. And, again, I can’t exactly broadcast what I’m doing.” 

 

“What else have you seen? What else is out there?” And Kara knows this is a little bit off topic and that Alex had denied her whole ‘Lena is a demon theory’ so her head is spinning, but it is also possible Alex has seen something that could be both helpful or just really cool. 

 

Still, she shakes her head because how many other people in her life are going to give her some weird Supernatural confession that involves either demons or being in the X-Files or something else. Is Brainy secretly a wizard? Is Nia psychic? What else in her life is going to be surrounded by this chaos and next level nonsense?

 

And then the other part of what Alex had told her clicks and she’s pretty sure the other shoe is going to upend her life right then and there, “It wasn’t the first abnormal thing you’d seen?”

 

“What?” Alex asks and Kara can see that she’s trying to deflect, trying to pretend she doesn’t remember the earlier part of this conversation, because she adds, “I mean I’ve seen some…”

 

“Alex,” and that shuts her sister up as Kara’s expression turns serious, stone-cold serious, “You just said, they recruited you because it wasn’t your first brush with whatever not-human thing, that you asked the right questions because you knew, so…how? What was the first abnormal thing?” 

 

“This isn’t the place,” Alex tells her sharply. 

 

But Kara is firm and unrelenting, “It’s going to have to be. I need the truth, all of it, right now, and this is not me being dramatic but the world might very well depend on it.” 

 

“That’s not you being dramatic?” 

 

“No, it’s me actually telling the truth, which is what you need to be doing, right now.” And Kara has a memory of Lena telling her the world is a lot darker than she thought, that Lena is not who she thought and she had known it, had sensed it, had been a little prepared for it, but this is different. This is her sister. 

 

Her sister who possibly has been lying to her for a while now, at least a year, if not longer. And there had been no warning for this, no preparation, nothing. Not even the hint of suspicion for Kara to at least peel this particular band-aid off little by little. 

 

Alex looks out at the blue-lit street as the distant rumble of thunder echoes overhead. Kara takes another sip of her coffee and watches her sister clench her hands and sigh deeply. 

 

She turns to her, apologetic before the words even come out, and Kara feels her heart beating in her throat as Alex opens her mouth and…

 

“Are you ready to order?” The waitress asks with a smile as she stands in front of the booth, oblivious to everything transpiring in the diner. Alex covertly flips the paper image of the Cadmus symbol and puts on her own fake smile while Kara does the same. 

 

Another rumble of thunder echoes overhead as rain begins to fall over National City and the Danvers sisters order while the truth hangs heavy in the air, ready to be unleashed like the storm outside. 

 

---

 

Acrata’s club , if it can be called that, is an old biker bar she’s taken over and enlisted lower demons in suits to keep out any interlopers who aren’t there to sell their souls or show the demons a fun time. 

 

It’s a smaller building that has about two floors to it, and plenty of windows, but not a lot of light with larger, more popular clubs in the surrounding areas, it’s a place that only those who are in the know come to. 

 

Or those desperate enough to find it. 

 

Nia and Lena are well hidden in Eve’s car they stole from her shop and watch from an alley far enough away. 

 

“Let’s go over it again,” Nia says as she looks through a bag of things they had taken from Eve’s shop - things Lena had told her to grab, things to protect and harm if used right. 

 

“I go in, find Sam, talk to Acrata and cause a distraction, you set the trap around the club and pour enough holy water into the water pump to burn the lower ones out.” 

 

“And once you get Sam, you both will have enough juice to take down Acrata?” 

 

“If it comes to that.”

 

“What if she’s not in there?” Nia asks but Lena looks at the upstairs window, sees the faint glow of a light and she knows, can feel her friend’s presence without much effort. 

 

“She is. Acrata wouldn’t just let Sam leave.” 

 

“Why not?” 

 

“Because she’s always wanted her power and if she can find a way to take it.” 

 

Lena watches a young kid of about fourteen with shaggy dark hair approach the door, the guards stare at him and laugh to themselves before they let him in, his shaking hands and angry eyes enough reason. 

 

“Let’s go,” Lena says, scared for the kid, scared for Sam, as she leaves the car and Nia runs to catch up. 

 

The door is the easy part. The guards look at each other then at her as she smiles, as Nia hangs back in the shadows. 

 

“I’m here to see Acrata.” 

 

“Your majesty, she told us no visitors,” one of the larger guards says, lowering his eyes and Lena keeps her smile short and curt - so she’s still the Heir to them, she still matters, even if the plan is to sacrifice her. These goons aren’t as loyal to the cause as they claim to be - or they’re not as smart as they think they are and don’t realize she’s there to stop them. 

 

“Well I’m not a visitor,” Lena orders, “Or did you really think I didn’t know, that I wasn’t interested in taking this world too.” 

 

They look at each other and then back to her. So she adds on, “We’ve been kept down below for too long, humanity has no business being above us, don’t you think?” 

 

They nod, “Of course, your highness, princess, please, go in,” and they have the audacity to bow as Lena, proudly walks inside while Nia moves behind the building without either one of them realizing. 

 

Lena makes sure to drop one of the crystals at the entrance - completing Nia’s circle when she places the others. 

 

Getting in is the easy part because once she’s in she sees the boy waiting against a wall, staring at the stairs, a demon occupying someone who is barely eighteen standing next to him.

 

The boy is the more difficult one to look at, the only human in the place, and she can’t help but spend far too long staring at this kid who has no idea what he’s giving up, what he’s willing to give up, and she can’t help but feel bad for him, that he finds himself here, ready to sell his soul, at fourteen. 

 

What must he have seen. 

 

But it’s not the human that makes it more difficult, it’s the bodies of the bikers, all occupied by lower level demons, all staring at her - some fifteen of them, drinking, partying, laughing as it all stops when they stare at her - and she can hear the human souls beneath screaming. 

 

The music plays loudly, some rock song that makes sense for the bar, the haze of cigarette smoke and smell of beer thick in the air, as the demons around her stand up taller and encroach on her space, hissing, snarling, eyes black as their twisted faces are clear to her but the human skin unchanging to the outside world. 

 

“Where’s Acrata?!” Lena asks loudly, meeting them all in the eyes, she is a ruler of their realm, she is the heir, and she is more powerful than them, she will not be scared of these lower level beings. 

 

A few of them don’t meet her eyes. 

 

“Where’s Sam?!” She yells, forcing a few of them to their knees.

 

She hears heels clicking and a sharp laugh as Acrata walks down the stairs from an office above, as she looks at her, unyielding, her pantsuit much too nice for the bar she’s occupying, her hair falling perfectly, her lipstick sharp and just as unyielding. 

 

A queen without a crown, Lena has always thought, she was always striving for a power she would never have, always clamoring to be one at the top but always lacking the power and the respect from the actual queen to achieve it. 

 

It only makes sense she should fall in with Lex to take over this world. 

 

“Lena, Lena, Lena, how nice of you to join us.” Acrata checks her painted nails, “You know you don’t need to yell.” 

 

“Where is Sam?” 

 

“Who?” Acrata asks with a smirk, “Oh, Reign, right. She’s upstairs. Came around asking all sorts of interesting questions, and well, we’ve been catching up and I’m afraid she won’t be leaving. Too much of a liability, but you, however, should, while you can.” 

 

“Let her go,” Lena argues. 

 

“I’m giving you an out as a courtesy, to your station and your grand importance to our plans, but you only get one. So take it.” 

 

Lena takes a step towards the stairs, the demons around her standing taller, encroaching on her space. She knows it’s only a matter of time. 

 

She’s just waiting for the signal. 

 

For Nia. 

 

“You know what they’re going to do. We can stop it.” 

 

“Why would I want to stop it?” Acrata asks, “Why would I want to spend one more day in that cold pit like some B-list guard whose only ever been used as some middleman between the higher ups and worker bees below? Why wouldn’t I want to take my place in the sun?” 

 

“Because it’s not ours to take.” 

 

“That’s rich, coming from you. You who leaves, who runs off to spend time with some human, who has her own time in the sun, by the way I do have to thank your girlfriend and you because your show is really upping our selling numbers, especially when so many comments are ‘I would sell my soul to get a girl to look at me like that.’ How is she? Showing any signs of being a little more than human yet or is that only you?” 

 

Lena takes a breath and stands taller, the music playing fizzles out and Acrata laughs. 

 

“Hypocrite,” she says, “And she named you the heir. You’re not even…you don’t deserve it.” 

 

“Lex is a monster.” 

 

“We’re supposed to be.” 

 

“Let Sam go.” 

 

“Come and get her,” Acrata says and the demons growl and get closer. She needs more time. Nia needs more time. 

 

“Jason Todd, you’re next,” Acrata points to the fourteen year old kid and he stands up, “I have someone special for your body.” 

 

And Lena shudders and understands what these humans are selling, what’s happening to them, they’re giving up their lives for a demon to inhabit, to take over, to help build the army Lex needs, and why would they do that? What would drive them to this? Do they even know? 

 

“No,” Lena shouts as she stops the boy from moving towards the stairs, as she steps in front of him and the snarling horde that surrounds the bar, surrounds her. 

 

A woman snarls and jumps onto the bar itself, standing on all fours and laughing with teeth that look half-rotten. 

 

Acrata keeps walking up the stairs, “She’s no heir, get her out of here.” 

 

And they descend. 

 

Lena pushes them back, a force in her mind throwing them into the walls and over the bars as Acrata makes her way upstairs, uncaring about her guards. 

 

The kid screams as a demon grabs him and Lena fights, keeps fighting, choking and crushing with the wave of a hand, forcing the lower demons to their knees but it’s not enough, she’s not enough. 

 

And then her phone rings and she looks up at the sprinkler system that she’s sure has not been checked in years, that must have been shut off for this much smoke to fill this bar and she finds the pull of the water, focuses enough that it sets them off…

 

The holy water rains down and the demons burn, screaming as they writhe on the floor and make for the door but the crystals are activated and there’s no leaving and Nia marches in spraying a few with the water gun and throwing salt as they double back and screech. 

 

Lena looks at her as she shoves the necklace into the face of a growling large man with a beard who whimpers as the metal burns against his forehead and he falls to the ground, the holy water burning his skin, a new kind of smoke filling the air. 

 

“Upstairs,” and Lena pushes the kid out the door, “Run and do not ever come back.” And Jason Todd does, he runs and runs away from the bar in National City, saved by Lena Luthor.

 

Nia and Lena go upstairs. Lena shoves another demon aside, flexing her powers and hearing the crack of a bone as he crashes over the stairs and lands on the bar, burning in the holy water rain. 

 

“I can’t believe that worked,” Nia says, her hair dripping, “It’s kind of awesome.” 

 

“Just keep moving,” Lena says as another demon rounds the corner and swings, Lena ducks as Nia shoots him with the holy water before Lena pushes him into the wall, cracking the plaster. 

 

They reach the office where it’s dry, the holy water not raining upstairs, not that it would do much up here, and they can see Sam trapped in an iron box, sigils all around it, looking worse for wear while a man in a suit stands up, his short hair and award winning smile just a puppet for the thing underneath. 

 

And Lena can see it underneath the skin, all teeth and eyes, shredded viscera of darkness seeping through the veins of the meat puppet it’s chosen. It’s much stronger than it appears, much darker as the human puppet’s eyes flash deep red. 

 

“Leviathan,” Lena states as the man smiles, a deep growl escaping his throat. 

 

“We’ve been waiting for you,” it hisses as it cracks its knuckles. 

 

“Aw they got Mike!” Nia points to the man and shoots the holy water without so much as a second glance. 

 

“Who?!” Lena asks glancing from Nia to the man who gets hit with the holy water, lets it burn and sting and who laughs it off. 

 

“Kara’s Ex.” 

 

“What?!” Lena asks, looking at the poor possessed bastard that Nia keeps throwing holy water onto and the demon who seems to be enjoying it all too much as it keeps laughing. 

 

“You’ll have to do better than that,” Not Mike/Leviathan says as he wipes the holy water from his cheek and licks his hand, his mouth steaming with the burn. 

 

“Ew,” Nia says. 

 

“A little help here?” Sam asks as she shakes the bars. And Acrata watches the exchange, a note of boredom to it. 

 

“Leviathan, stop playing with your food.” 

 

He laughs as he steps forward, his footsteps heavy and his eyes burning red, but Nia doesn’t back down even as Lena is about to push her out of the way. 

 

Nia throws the salt and some other ash she’s had hidden in one of her pockets and that does do something. 

 

“I’m sorry, I always thought you were okay!” And Mike falls to the ground, his face burning, the demon inside of him losing its grip. 

 

“Go back to Lex!” Lena shouts as she uses her power and throws the Leviathan/Not Mike into the wall. It writhes and growls but doesn’t let go. 

 

Acrata cracks her neck and then she’s got a knife in her hand as she descends on Lena.  

 

“Get Sam.” And Nia is running towards the box as Sam pushes against the bars. 

 

Thunder rumbles and rain falls as Lena and Acrata fight. Acrata throws her through the wall and they end up back on the ground floor, the demons long gone from the puppets they had been possessing, the holy water burning them out - leaving a few confused passed out humans and a few dead ones behind.  

 

Lena stands and raises her hand, using whatever power she has left to hold Acrata in place, but Acrata isn’t going down without a fight. 

 

She throws the knife but it misses as Lena clenches her hand and forces Acrata to her knees, the bones cracking as she does. 

 

“You’re stronger than you used to be,” she comments, “but not strong enough.” She pushes against Lena’s power, tries to stand, but Lena manages to hold her, to keep her down.

 

Acrata moves her neck and the knife removes itself from the wall, swinging back behind Lena and cutting across her cheek as it returns to its owner.

 

It distracts Lena enough for Acrata to stand, for Acrata to move and rush her with the knife again. And Acrata was a soldier, a hunter, much more of a fighter than Lena, who always relied on a darker power to fight. 

 

Acrata picks her up and slams her into the bar and Lena feels the breath escape her lungs as she uses both hands to push Acrata back, shattering the stereo with the force. 

 

Acrata wipes her nose as she stands, as the sparks of the stereo explode around them, catching the alcohol even in the soaked room - setting them on fire enough to burn against the bar where only the alcohol has spilled. 

 

“He’s going to win. He’s going to kill her and take this world and there’s nothing you or anyone can do.” 

 

Lena thinks of Kara, thinks of her body, thinks of her lying on the ground as Lex laughs and she can’t get that laugh out of her mind, the laugh from Hell, the laugh that started this all. 

 

“No.” 

 

And Lena pulls whatever power she can, from her own well of desperation, her own anger, as Acrata moves towards her again, as she goes to throw the knife again but finds herself frozen in place mid-throw. 

 

Acrata breathes heavily, her hand shaking as the knife won’t release, as she can’t move at all while Lena holds out a hand and keeps her there. 

 

She feels the power burn through her fingertips, feels it like a storm, like the lightning that cracks across the sky behind her as Acrata sweats and shudders and that storm spreads, the lightning strikes and cracks through her skull. 

 

The knife drops with a loud clatter. 

 

Smoke escapes her mouth.

 

Acrata’s body falls, eyes burnt out, the demon dead. 

 

Lena drops to her knees and feels drained, feels exhausted, as her hand shakes and she doesn’t know how she did it, didn’t even know she was capable of it, but it’s done and she’s done it - she killed her. 

 

She smells fire and alcohol and tastes copper in her mouth as she stares at Acrata’s body and she shouldn’t have been able to do that, not without some sort of weapon, a knife like Eve’s or Acrata’s, something that was capable of that, not her, not alone. 

 

Hell magic, Mxy had said to her. Maybe he hadn’t been wrong when he’d called it that.

 

“Lena!” 

 

She doesn’t have much time to dwell on the thought because Nia is yelling and there’s a loud commotion upstairs as another rumble of thunder shakes the sky. 

 

She gets back upstairs and finds Nia trying to free Sam from her cage while avoiding a snarling Mike/Leviathan that Lena doesn’t have the strength to throw again. 

 

Nia is out of salt and powder and Sam is standing at the bars, unable to do anything because of the wards and the monster is getting closer. 

 

Lena starts saying something in Latin that has Mike grabbing his ears and falling to his knees as Nia breaks one of the wards and Sam is able to free herself. 

 

She steps out of the cage, the ground rumbling and shaking as she turns to Mike/Leviathan and focuses, sending him down through the floors to the cement below. The entire building shakes with the force of the earthquake and Lena has a faint reminder of San Francisco but the shaking stops once Leviathan is twenty feet below.

 

Sam stares at the hole and lets out a breath as Nia hugs the wall and looks around, waiting for the building to fall - but it never does. 

 

Lena pulls Sam into a hug without really thinking about it, “I’m glad you’re okay.” 

 

“I’m glad me not calling was enough of a warning for you.” Sam returns it and neither one of them is exactly sure when their friendship evolved into this, hugging like humans, caring enough to find each other, but they’re both glad it has, glad they aren’t like the others. 

 

“Where’s…” Sam asks, looking behind Lena as she pulls away from the hug.

 

“Dead.” 

 

“How?” 

 

Lena shakes her head, “I was hoping you might know. The Cadmus Ritual is a little more complicated, isn’t it?” 

 

Sam nods, “And so is your history.” 

 

“So I’m starting to see,” Lena states and they both turn as a deep laugh rumbles from the hole in the ground, as the skittering of nails digging through the dirt gets closer and closer, as Leviathan rises and climbs towards them.

 

“Maybe you talk about this later?” Nia asks from behind them. 

 

Sam nods.

 

“Why is Lex’s dog here?” Lena asks. 

 

“Temporary host. They were going to use him to get Kara when it was time.”

 

“And until then?” 

 

Leviathan laughs as Mike cracks his neck and body and twists so he’s standing again, “This world is ours,” he says, his voice a deep growl, “And we will do what we wish.” 

 

“Go back to Hell,” Lena tells him and he laughs again as she tries to force him back but fails. 

 

He tsks as he waves a finger, “Not enough power.” 

 

“We have to exorcize him,” Nia states and Sam looks at her. 

 

“Are you capable of that, human whose name I do not know?” 

 

“Nia Nal, producer and social media coordinator for CatCo Investigates and I’ve done some reading on the subject.” She glances to Lena and Lena wonders how much Kara actually knows about Nia’s research, how much Nia had planned to keep Kara safe. 

 

“Do you have protective charms, Nia Nal?” Sam asks and Nia shrugs and points to the necklace. 

 

Sam snaps her fingers and Nia winces, holding out her wrist as a sigil appears, “Now you do.” 

 

“Is that permanent?” She asks and Sam nods, “Normally I would be like not cool but that’s pretty metal so, let’s exorcize Mike!” 

 

They manage to get Leviathan into Sam’s cage, manage to get him out of Mike Matthews who does not remember how he even got there but the cage breaks in the process and Leviathan is gone before they can send him back to Hell, breaking the traps Nia set on his exit. 

 

They carry a woozy and confused Mike out of the place, the fire fully spreading across the bar and sirens in the distance as they do. 

 

When they reach the car, they take a minute to gather themselves, to let Mike breathe, even if he isn’t exactly sure any of this is real. 

 

“What do you remember?” Lena asks, trying not to be a little bit jealous of this guy who once dated Kara. They broke up and it’s definitely not the time, but still, he had to have been targeted, someone had to know or thought they might have a chance...no, no, she’s not going to be jealous of this guy who just got possessed because they were going to use him to kidnap Kara, she’s not going to do that.

 

Still, looking at his face, knowing it had once dated Kara, had shared moments with Kara that Lena wants to share, had hurt Kara makes her want to slap it a little bit. 

 

“I was walking home with dinner for Imra, oh my God Imra! I have to call her, she’s going to think I flaked…” 

 

“That can wait, what happened next?” Sam asks, forcing him to remain sitting against the wall. 

 

He shrugs, “A shadow and then it said something about Kara, is Kara okay? Is she hurt?! They kept talking about her like…they’re going to hurt her! They’re…” 

 

“She’s fine. She’s safe. Don’t worry I’ll keep her safe,” Lena states, a little more forceful and possessive than necessary, but the point is made all the same. 

 

Sam glances at her with a raised eyebrow and not quite a laugh despite being locked in a cage not half an hour ago that has Lena returning the look with a shrug and roll of her eyes. 

 

Mike nods, suddenly dizzy again as he leans against the wall. 

 

“We should get him home,” Nia says. 

 

“How did you get here, Nia?” Mike asks and Nia just shrugs. 

 

“This is all a dream.” She waves her hand. Lena and Sam look at each other again, a silent conversation that goes something like, ‘Seriously?’ ‘Yeah.’  

 

And Mike sinks further against the wall, tired enough that he might actually believe it. 

 

“That makes sense,” he mumbles as he passes out. 

 

“I can’t believe he kind of believed that,” Nia states as she looks at Sam and Lena. 

 

“We need to talk,” Lena tells Sam and Sam nods. 

 

“First we get him home.” 

 

“Then, Task Force Hell, let’s roll out,” Nia says as Sam picks Mike up with ease and they walk towards the car. 

 

“Task Force Hell? No we can’t go by that,” Lena argues. 

 

“What’s happening?” Sam asks. 

 

“We need a team name,” Nia tells her and Sam nods as Lena shakes her head. 

 

“I kind of like Task Force Hell.” 

 

Nia claps her hands together, “Yes!” 

 

“No,” Lena sighs as she gets into the car, handing the keys to Nia as she leans against the window, the exhaustion creeping in, what she’s done and the pain of the day settling over her. 

 

Rain pelts the window of the car as they drive Mike home, as night falls over National City and she wonders if Kara is okay.

 

---

 

“When you first came to live with us, you had this necklace, do you remember it?” The streets are wet after the rain, the smell still hanging in the air and the streetlights shining against the puddles left behind. 

 

Alex walks beside Kara as they head back towards CatCo, the conversation falling silent as they had eaten, as Alex had refused to have the conversation where it could both be interrupted or overheard in the diner. 

 

And Kara had waited, impatiently, growing angrier and more tense the longer the silence droned on but too hungry to really focus all that much as she ate her sandwich quickly and quietly, leaving without dessert in effort to get to the truth faster. 

 

“The S?” She asks and she remembers it, still has it somewhere in her apartment, the weird S with the triangle that had been a gift from her parents shortly before they had died.  



“It wasn’t an S.” 

 

“Okay?” Kara asks, still not sure where this is going, still not sure why this is where the conversation is starting, “That doesn’t explain…”

 

“It was a symbol, for a house, like an important house, like royalty.” 

 

“Are you saying I’m royalty? Or that my parents bought a necklace that was from royalty? Am I a princess? No, sorry, not relevant,” Kara shakes her head, that old Princess Diaries fantasy rearing its head in the worst of moments, “Alex, I’m not following.” 

 

“I mean kind of, yes, you are. The House of El.” 

 

Kara blinks, thinks of Clark’s joke, thinks that maybe it wasn’t a joke, maybe there had been something to it,  “It is a cult?!” She asks, stopping suddenly as Alex bumps into her with an oof. 

 

“What? No. It’s not a cult. It’s…I don’t know how to say this without it sounding weird or insane, but…it’s like…it’s angels. Literally. It’s angels.” 

 

Kara stares at her, takes in the information, hears the word angels, registers it and all of its larger and deep, holy meaning…

 

And then she laughs. She laughs so hard she’s crying. 

 

“No, you know what, you almost had me, but…no. That was good. Right up until the angels thing. Nice job.” And Kara starts to walk away, shakes her head, thinks what an amazing and mean joke her sister has just played on her and thinks she’s going to have to find a way to get her back when the world isn’t ending, but Alex isn’t laughing, Alex isn’t saying, ‘got you,’ insead Alex says with all the seriousness of a doctor delivering fatal news --

 

“Do you remember the fire?” 

 

And Kara stops walking. 

 

Because this, they don’t talk about this, they don’t bring it up, they haven’t since it happened.

 

And Alex knows that. Alex knows better than to include that in the joke, in any joke. 

 

Yes, she remembers the fire. Yes, she remembers enough of it. She remembers being angry, she remembers being in the woods, she remembers a bright light and something hot and burning beneath her skin but that was just pain, that was just her memories of it, that was just a twelve year old coping with something they had done. 

 

She doesn’t remember the act itself, she remembers passing out, she remembers a burnt out husk of a building and someone saying there was a fire even when one wasn’t burning. She remembers a tree splintering behind the barn and everyone assuming lightning had struck it even if there had been no storm. 

 

She remembers Alex finding her, remembers a pale expression on her face and being so tired and forgetting all about it.

 

She remembers them being closer after that. 

 

But, that doesn’t mean anything, nothing about that has anything to do with this. Nothing about her or a necklace or sitting in a diner or brutal murders and haunted locations and the end of the world should…

 

“I remember enough,” Kara says and she thinks that should end this, that it will,and she’s angry when she says, “And I don’t want to talk about that. It’s in the past. You know that.” 

 

She turns to walk away and stops when Alex says, “I remember all of it.” 

 

Kara swallows and turns as Alex steps closer to her, “You and mom were fighting about something, rules, I don’t know, but you walked out, you were so angry, so upset, and you kept saying you wanted to go home, and Mom was going to go after you, but I went. And I followed you. All the way to the barn.” 

 

“I know, you found me after.” 

 

“Not after. Do you remember how it started? How you started it?” 

 

Kara shrugs, “Matches, I don’t know.” 

 

Alex shakes her head, “I saw it. There were no matches. It just started. You were crying and yelling at them, at your parents, for leaving you and you were in so much pain and I was going to go to you, but then it just exploded and you…your eyes.”

 

“My eyes?!” 

 

“They were glowing with this white light and the barn was on fire and then it was out and you…it stopped. You were on the ground and it just stopped.”  

 

Kara shakes her head, “Okay, you got me, you can…” But Alex isn’t joking, Kara knows Alex isn’t joking and suddenly the words she read make a little bit more sense, her connection makes a little bit more sense. 

 

“Fallen blood.” 

 

“What?” 

 

But Kara can’t accept it, can’t…no, it’s not…she’s human. She’s always been…

 

“No. I…no. I’m…my parents aren’t…I can’t be…”

 

“You have a file. It’s not very detailed and I’ve done my best to keep it not as detailed but, the fire is in there.”

 

“And my parents? Why wouldn’t they just tell me?!”

 

“They made Eliza and Jeremiah promise not to. They wanted to keep you safe. They knew someone was after them. Someone who was looking for you and they couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t figure out who, I checked. There’s no files in the FBI about them.”

 

“They knew?! That someone was…and you never thought maybe you should mention that to me?! The X-File who has a file!”

 

“You’re not an X-File and I couldn’t tell you. One, you freak out at everything, two, its secret, three, would you have believed me when, outside of one fire, you seemed normal?” 

 

“Seemed normal? So everyone knew, everyone knew what I might be but didn’t…what the fuck, Alex?” 

 

“We didn’t know know, not until the fire, but you just never showed any other signs, outside of the nightmares, so we thought maybe it was a lightning strike, maybe they were just nightmares. Maybe it was easier to let you be normal.” 

 

“Let me?! So you’ve all been lying to me, my entire…what am I?! Am I even human? What does all this have to do with that?” She points to the paper in Alex’s hand, the symbol that she’d forgotten about and almost left in the diner in her haste to get this over with, to get to the truth she now partially regrets. Her hand shakes, her breath short and startled and she feels like the world is flipping, like she’s being pulled apart and nothing makes sense and she regrets asking Alex anything ever. 

 

“I don’t know what it means but…”

 

And she should push her sister away, she should yell and scream but Alex is pulling her close and hugging her tight and it shouldn’t but it makes her feel better even as she cries.

 

“What am I?” Kara asks through the tears.  

 

“You’re my sister. And nothing changes that. You’ve been my sister since you showed up at our door in Midvale and you will always be my sister.”

 

“You lied to me. You’ve been lying to me.” And she sees it clearer now, remembers it clearer now, the barn, the explosion of something, the smell of burnt ozone and slight sizzle of something singed and broken that tasted like a battery.

 

“I thought it would be safer. Mom said it would be safer because your dad wanted us to keep you safe. He made her promise. She would never tell you and she made me promise too, so we couldn’t. I’m sorry.” 

 

And then Kara is crying more and angry at someone she can’t ask for the truth and nothing makes sense anymore. Because someone was after them, someone hurt them, someone killed them the same someone who probably killed Clark’s parents and all her thoughts spiral and collide and she wishes Lena were next to her, wishes she could understand any of it, doesn’t even know if Lena would be able to, but she doesn’t even know where she can even start and she thinks of Clark and Lex and Lena telling her all about it and it doesn’t make sense but it starts to. 

 

Because maybe her cult theory was wrong, but she’s not wrong when she thinks she might still be connected to it, and she’s not wrong when she thinks about fallen blood. But is that a thread she can pull? Is that thread she knows might be connected to Lena one she can pull? 

 

A human born of Fallen yet Holy blood on Earth…soul tied to Darkness born from Corrupted Light…

 

And if she’s…does that make Lena…

 

She feels off-balance, she feels empty and like she doesn’t know who she is anymore but, there’s so much more going on, so much more than she can handle and shoulder and she doesn’t know how to handle it, doesn’t know how to do anything but focus on the one thing she needs to, the one thing that needs fixing first - the one thing she may be the key to beginning and ending. 

 

“The world is ending.” 

 

“No, it’s not, it’s going to be okay.” Alex pulls away from the hug, her voice gentle as Kara shakes her head, “We can figure out what it all means, okay, who you are, we will. But you’re still Kara, you’ll always be Kara.” 

 

“No, Alex, it’s literally ending. I have proof. And I think this thing has something to do with it and that Lena’s brother is responsible and that I might have something to do with it too.” 

 

“Lena’s brother?” And then Alex puts the pieces together, realizes that their dumb little paranormal show is a lot realer than she might have previously given it credit for, and that maybe she shouldn’t have told Kara she was overreacting about Lena, “Lena’s not human, is she? Oh I should have realized it. I mean I’ve never actually seen one but…oh now I feel like an asshole when I told you Swift Street wasn’t real.” And then she’s staring hard at Kara, “Do you trust her? That she’s not involved?”

 

“Yes. And I mean I was freaking out about other stuff and deserved what Kelly said but yes, you were an asshole about it and I accept your apology, but not about the lying.” 

 

And Alex braces, “Okay. And I will spend a very long time making up for that, but right now, I need you to take me to the office and tell me everything you know on the way.”

 

“I can’t believe you made fun of me for the ghosts…”

 

“Look, I wasn’t going to be like hey, so lowkey, I work for a secret branch of the FBI that investigates it and I have seen a few cursed objects here and there, I was more concerned with laughing at you being terrified at a creaky floor.” 

 

“It was the same laugh, Alex! I was right!” 

 

“Well I see that now!”

 

---

 

They all come to the same conclusions at the same time. 

 

After Nia, Lena, and Sam drop off Mike at his apartment and get him inside and are fairly certain he isn’t going to remember any of it, they take Eve’s map and get back to Lena’s apartment to recover. 

 

At the same time, Alex, Brainy, and Kara find all the places the symbol has appeared, pinning them on the map in the office and finding where the connections go - finding the circle it makes and the last point that’s needed to complete it. 

 

Kara knows it well, has seen it on other paranormal shows while Lena is all too happy to go into it and take it for herself, if not for a little petty vengeance, Sam right there with her in that mood. 

 

“Oh I am taking this bridge,” Lena says, “I am going to claim it and they will tell tales of me.” 

 

“Easy,” Sam states and Lena settles. 

 

Meanwhile back at CatCo, Kara stares at the map and freaks out. 

 

“Oh no,” Kara mutters, “No I know this place, no.” 

 

“What is it?” Brainy asks. 

 

“It’s on all those guides to like most haunted places in America except it’s also listed as do not go here it could kill you.” 

 

“Well as it stands now it could kill the world if we don’t.” 

 

Kara groans, “The Bridge of Acrata.” 

 

“What?” 

 

“It’s called The Bridge of Acrata, it’s supposed to be haunted by a demon. I don’t do demons.” 

 

“Technically…” Alex mutters but Kara points a finger at her.

 

“No, we’re not going there.”

 

“But I mean…”

 

“Yes, I know, Lena is technically one but it’s not the same thing. Also it’s not like I’ve done her or that came out wrong.” Kara’s face burns, “And I’m not joking with you yet,” she tells Alex with a pointed look. 

 

“Did not need that detail,” Brainy states, “but circling back, you don’t really have a choice not to go there between the fact Cat Grant is still expecting a show, resource and all, and of course, the fact that it could stop the world ending. But at least you have a demon on your side.”

 

“But what if like the other one is really bad. Or like Lena knows them or like they fight or…”

 

“Had a previous relationship?” Brainy smirks and glances to Alex who snorts as Kara glares at him and knows he’s joking, knows he’s being sarcastic but doesn’t miss the piercing sting of jealousy that encircles her heart as she shakes her head at Alex who stops laughing immediately. 

 

“Still not there, yet.” 

 

“Fair,” Alex states. 

 

Kara rounds on Brainy, “Or, I don’t know, something bad happens and she gets dragged back to Hell and it hurts her? Remember Arkham? That was not good and if Arkham affected her like that, what could this place do?” 

 

“Maybe you should show her and talk to her and let her decide how to handle it, she is the expert,” Alex states, putting a pin in the spot that Kara doesn’t want to go.

 

Kara murmurs something unintelligible that is more a mocking tone because she knows Alex is right even if she’s mad at her and she picks up her phone and dials.

 

Maybe Nia will let them have that holy water, maybe it’ll keep the other demons away. 

 

Lena picks up on the first ring, “The Bridge of Acrata,” Lena says in the way of a greeting and Kara blinks. 

 

“That’s what I was going to say, wait…what?” 

 

“We figured it out.” 

 

“I thought I was supposed to be…okay, yeah, the Bridge of Acrata. That’s where Lex is going next,” Kara tells Lena over the phone. 

 

“And where we have to go.” 

 

And Kara’s thoughts are swirling with truths and prophecies and what she may or may not be, what Lena might be, and what Lena and her might be to each other while, across town, Lena’s thoughts are doing the same. 

 

And neither one can say any more about their day over the phone, or what they’re thinking, or what they’ve learned and want to say, the words and conversation too complicated and loaded and, frankly, weird to do over the phone even if they both have so much they want to say, need to say and are almost choking on all of it. 

 

So instead they just agree that their next investigation will be the Bridge and that Cat Grant will be on board. 

 

“It’s a date,” Kara says without thinking and then smacks her forehead, “I mean not like a date-date, not unless you want it to be, because I wouldn't ask you out on a date to a haunted bridge, I mean not that I wouldn’t ask you on a…I’ll see you later, buddy!” She hangs up and throws her phone as Alex hands her head with second-hand embarrassment.

 

“Buddy?!” Alex yells. 

 

And across town Nia is hanging her own head because Lena had her phone on speaker and is staring at it, bright red as Sam stares at the now hung up phone and then looks at her friend, “So that’s…interesting.” 

 

And Nia is yelling, “Will you two just please get your shit together? Oh my God you’re so down bad for each other it’s embarrassing! I can’t even be here right now, I have to go home and shower and sleep and out of all the things that happened today, that was the worst one. Good luck,” she points to Sam as she opens the door. 

 

“Lena,” Nia states, “Seriously. Just make out with the poor girl.”  

 

“Thanks for your help,” Sam answers as Nia gives her finger guns then walks out and Sam smiles at her friend. 

 

“Soulmate?” She asks and Lena puts her head in her hands as Sam pats her shoulder, “You would get that one.” 

 

“What do you mean I would get that one?”

 

“It’s just,” Sam smiles, “It’s perfect. It works.” 

 

“I hate you,” Lena says without any meaning behind it, “I should have left you in the cage.” 

 

“Love you too,” Sam smirks, “I’m going to take a nice bath in your fancy bathroom and then maybe we get some wine and I can tell you everything, deal?” 

 

“Deal.” 

 

“Or you could call Kara and maybe actually ask her out on a date, since she’d be into that or not, or…” And Sam is laughing as Lena flips her off and blushes and walks away from Lena and the mess of a map and the mess of the world and future. 

 

And she shouldn’t feel her heart flip at the idea of going on a date with Kara, shouldn’t even entertain somewhere like the Bridge of Acrata as one because it’s not, Kara deserves so much better for a first date then there, but still…

 

She looks at the mark, looks at where the Bridge of Acrata is and thinks, ‘it’s a date,’ even if it’s not exactly the one she would plan for Kara or the one Kara would plan for her, even if it’s not really a date and they’re going to some dark place to try to stop the apocalypse, to try to stop a prophecy they’re both a part of whether the other knows it or not,  even if there’s a few secrets and both of their days have been less than ideal without the other knowing about it...

 

It’s a date.