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Fear of Humans

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Kara watched Cat. They were back at the apartment now, alone in the bedroom, and Cat was acting as if nothing had changed. Cat was acting as if she hadn’t just stabbed a man, as if Kara hadn’t just dropped a man from the roof of a skyscraper.

 

The DEO had taken care of it. There would be no body, no investigation, no knife with Cat’s fingerprints. But there would be the memories, there were always the memories.

 

Kara, Kara had killed before, but Cat…

 

Kara couldn’t stop staring at Cat’s hand, remembering what it had looked like as it had pushed a knife into General Lane. She didn’t remember what he had looked like as he had died, Kara had turned away from him at the last moment, turning to look at Cat. But she remembered Cat’s hands, Cat’s face, Cat’s touch.

 

Kara didn’t remember killing General Lane, but she remembered what Cat had been like, as the man had died.

 

What had she done to Cat?

 

“It’s our fault.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes, we should have stopped her from coming.”

 

“We needed her.”

 

“We were supposed to protect her, protect everyone. We failed.”

 

“But we needed her. We couldn’t do it without her.”

 

“Exactly, it’s our fault.”

 

Cat noticed her looking, of course Cat would notice. She tried to turn away, shifting her body and looking down at her own hands, but Cat reached out to stop her. There wasn’t much the older woman could actually do to halt the movement, Alex had taken off the fake cuff and refused to put the real one back on, but Cat had never needed to be physically stronger than Kara to get her way.

 

“Look at me, Kara,” it was a command, and Kara found herself obeying instantly, meeting those eyes as they searched her face.

 

“It was my decision.” How was Cat always so good at knowing just what she was thinking?

 

Cat’s hands were on her now, one brushing lightly across her cheek, the other moving to grip her jaw and upper neck, holding her in place.

 

“I’m not different, Kara. I haven’t changed, I haven’t lost myself. I’m Cat, I’ve always been Cat. You knew what I was like, when we started this.”

 

Yes, Kara had known what Cat was like. But Cat hadn’t known what Kara was like. Cat had still wanted her, after seeing her darkness, but it had started before that. Cat had wanted her sunny, awkward assistant first, and look what Kara had given her instead.

 

Cat may not have changed, Cat may always have been capable of this, but Kara was the one who had brought it out of her. Kara’s hand moved, closing around Cat’s fingers, pulling the hand away from her face so that she could look at it, so that she could see that the blood had been washed away.

 

She wanted to tell Cat that she was sorry, not that the man was dead, but because of the fact that she hadn’t been able to do it alone. She wanted to apologize to Cat for bringing her into all of this. She tried, her lips moving, but Cat cut her off before the soundless first syllable had even finished forming.

 

“No, Kara,” that was it, that name, Kara.

 

Cat had wanted Kiera, and instead, instead she had gotten Kara.

 

She tried to speak again, but this time, instead of an apology, her lips formed the names, her eyes meeting Cat’s, trying to explain.

 

“Cat,” she pointed at the other woman.

 

“Kara,” herself, this time.

 

“Kiera,” and this time, she moved her hand, the one still holding Cat’s own, and brought both of them together on Cat’s chest, over her heart.

 

“Kiera,” she mouthed again, “you wanted Kiera.”

 

Cat couldn’t hear her, but she understood. Cat always understood.

 

“Yes, I did. I wanted Kiera, but not enough,” Cat tightened her grip on Kara’s jaw, “it was two years, Kara, two years where I never made a move, not a serious one, at least, not one that would bring you into my life outside of work. You know that. That’s why you told be about your parents that night at the party, that’s why you let me see inside. I wanted Kiera, but not enough. But you, the you that is both Kiera and Kara, the you that can be both bright and dark, that is who I wanted, who I still want.”

 

Cat paused, taking a small step closer, “I never would have invited Kiera to the museum gala that night, but I invited you, because you showed me that you could be more, that you were more. You showed me that you were someone who could accept everything that I am, that you could need me, just as much as I need you,” Cat moved forward again, forcing Kara to take a step back, and she found herself pressed against the bedroom wall, Cat’s body flush against her own.

 

“So don’t you dare think that what I did tonight, what we did, is something to regret. I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and have a sudden realization about what just happened. I know who I am, Kara, I know who you are.”

 

Cat’s eyes were glinting now, the passion of her words breaking down the resistance in Kara’s mind, “I am Cat, and you, you are my Kara. So let us be us, Kara, and damn the rest of the world.”

 

And suddenly, suddenly it wasn’t enough. None of this was. She was home, General Lane was dead, but it wasn’t enough, because she needed Cat, and Cat, Cat needed her as well.

 

From where they were standing, Cat pressing her into the bedroom wall, they were positioned just to the side of the door. The door had remained unlocked, all these weeks, unlocked so that Alex could come, so that when Kara screamed silently, Cat could call for help.

 

But now, now Kara reached out and slowly, deliberately, turned the lock, watching as Cat’s eyes dilated, feeling Cat’s hands grip her tighter in response.

 

Nothing up until now had been enough, because Kara needed to feel Cat. Kara needed to feel Cat take her, to overwhelm any other claim on her body. Kara needed Cat to be Cat. And Cat could only truly be herself, if Kara was Kara.

 

The nightmares didn’t come for her that night, only Cat did.

 

///////////////////

 

Kara’s nightmares began to decrease in frequency in the weeks following that night. She still got them, of course, Cat would still have to watch her scream, but now they were only coming two or three times a week. It was a small victory, but, as Cat woke up rested, as she ran her hand through the hair of the still sleeping girl at her side, she couldn’t help the feeling of awe that welled in her chest.

 

How had she gotten this? This unbreakable woman? Kara was far from healed, and Cat knew that she would always get nightmares, that, even years from now, Kara would still be afraid, but even so, even so Kara was still here, still hers.

 

Kara shifted slightly in her sleep as Cat moved her hand to trace the scar on her side, that initial scar she had claimed on their first night together, over a year ago. Cat increased the pressure of her fingers, enjoying the way Kara shivered and pushed closer to her in response. She wouldn’t wake up, not yet. Cat knew exactly how much to hold herself back, knew exactly where to draw the line, knew exactly how to touch her sleeping Kara to bring out that perfect response.

 

She loved it, mornings like these, when she would wake up early and realize that she still had quite a bit of time before her alarm was set to go off. Mornings where she could lay in bed, drawing patterns on Kara’s skin, watching Kara so easily and subconsciously respond to her. By the time she actually got around to waking the girl, Kara would already be so ready, so open to her. Kara would wake up, and Cat would look into her eyes, and know that Kara could see her, and only her.

 

It was almost perfect. Almost…

 

If only she could hear Kara’s voice.

 

Cat’s hand halted its exploration and she drew it back with a pang of guilt. No. It was perfect. Kara was perfect. She didn’t need to hear Kara’s voice. She didn’t need to hear Kara moan for her, hear her cry out in pleasure as Cat took her, she didn’t need any of that. She had Kara, and that was enough.

 

So why did she still miss it, so much?

 

Cat hated that, hated that she still craved that sound. Kara was trying, she knew she was. Cat had caught her at it a few times, standing in front of a mirror, hand to her throat, forming words with her lips, trying… trying so very hard to remember how to speak.

 

When Cat caught her, Kara would always look away, offering a silent apology that Cat didn’t want, not from Kara. There was no apology that could ever hope to match the loss of Kara’s voice, because Kara herself had nothing to apologize for, and the scientists, the ones that had done this to her, how could anything they had ever be enough?

 

Cat moved her hand back to Kara, but this time she traced the scar at her throat, feeling her heart constrict in pain. It wasn’t so much that she wanted to hear Kara speak to her, to hear Kara respond when Cat told her that she loved her, no, those words were important, but not what was causing the tightness in her chest.

 

Cat had meant it, when she had told Kara that it was ok that the girl couldn’t tell her back, she didn’t need Kara’s voice for that, she could see it in so many other ways. No, Cat’s desire for Kara’s voice was more fundamental. She just wanted to hear her, hear those everyday sounds, hear her laugh, hear her cry, hear her make any number of those little noises that went beyond words, that just existed as part of Kara.

 

Cat missed Kara’s voice because it was part of her. And Cat wanted it back.

 

Glancing at her clock, Cat sighed, realizing that she had let herself drift too far. The alarm was going to go off in a minute, and she no longer had time to wake Kara up slowly, to enjoy her morning before she had to get ready for work. Cat reached over and turned off the alarm before it could go off, carefully extracting herself from the girl and heading into the bathroom.

 

Kara would be awake by the time she got out, alarm or no, but she wouldn’t be waiting for Cat. No, Kara knew how dangerous it was to stay in bed, naked, with only a loose sheet covering her body. More than once, Cat had ended up late to work, simply because Kara had been like that, staring up at Cat, with that half teasing smile on her lips, the one that Cat knew was meant as a challenge.

 

But Cat had an important early meeting today, and Kara knew that, so Kara wouldn’t be waiting for her when she got out. What would be waiting, however, was almost as good. Instead of seeing Kara in their bed, Cat would leave the bedroom, dressed for work, and find Kara in the kitchen making breakfast for all of them.

 

Of course, Kara making breakfast for three people, Alex had returned to her own apartment two weeks ago, still entailed quite a bit of lost food. But even so, even if only one in four pieces of toast made it to the table, even if Kara went through an entire carton of eggs, even if, what started out as a spread, was quickly reduced to just two items before it was even time to officially eat, even then, Cat loved this.

 

Cat loved seeing Kara there, so comfortable in her kitchen, dressed casually in sweatpants and a t-shirt, not trying to hide her scars away from them anymore. Cat loved seeing the way Kara would stop herself from eating the last few pieces of bacon and give them to Carter instead, loved the way Kara would smile at Carter, when he came to help.

 

Cat just loved Kara.

 

And Kara always, always had the coffee ready.

 

/////////////////////

 

Kara was cleaning up after breakfast, after Cat and Carter had left, when she noticed the papers. Cat had brought them home last night, outlines of next month’s magazine, but she hadn’t had much time to work on them. And today she had had an early meeting, and had forgotten to pack them up before she left.

 

Kara stared at them, unsure of what to do. She knew Cat didn’t need them today, but she didn’t want Cat to forget them again. She should move them, pack them up nicely and have them ready for Cat to take into work tomorrow.

 

She reached for them, meaning to just stack them in a pile and place them by the door, but something stopped her. She couldn’t do that, the papers were a mess, she should at least sort them. Kara picked up a random sheet, an early draft of an article, and started to move it into one pile, but her eye caught a mistake. She would just fix that, as long as she was looking at it, but no sooner had she marked the correction, then another mistake appeared. Frowning, Kara bent her head, perusing the rest of the article, a slight grimace forming on her face when she saw even more errors. Checking the author, she realized it was a name she didn’t recognize, someone new then. Cat wouldn’t be happy, receiving an article like this, but if it was already corrected, then Cat would probably just let the person off with a warning. And really, it wouldn’t take long, just this one article, Kara could fix it up and then finish sorting the rest of the materials.

 

That was how Cat found her, hours later, sitting in the living room, papers spread out all around her, most of the work done already. Without realizing it, correcting one paper had turned into two, and then three. And then there had been the pictures to go through, and the layout, and… and now the work was almost completely done, and an entire day had gone by where she hadn’t drifted off and started talking to herself, not even once.

 

It happened more and more after that. Cat would leave things at home by ‘mistake,’ and Kara would find herself helplessly drawn to the work. Sometimes she even got so caught up in it, that Cat would have to come to her later, an amused smile on her lips, and ask Kara, no, it was always ‘Kiera’ in those instances, Cat would ask Kiera to translate her notes, because she hadn’t been paying attention, and she had slipped into Kryptonian.

 

That was something new, the language issue. Of course it had happened when Kara had first escaped, years ago, but at that point she had just been learning how to read and write in English. After she had gotten the hang of the language, however, she had never really had any problems sticking to it. But she had always been so aware, before, that she was surrounded by humans, and that she needed to be normal, to hide. Now, however, here, in this apartment, sometimes it was getting harder and harder to draw the line between Kara Danvers, and Kara Zor-El. She found herself thinking in Kryptonian more and more, hardly aware of the fact that she was doing so.

 

After the third or fourth time she had handed Carter a note, and he had had to ask her to rewrite it in English, he had come to her with a list of English words and phrases. Carter had stood over her as she translated them, watching with interest, occasionally adding another English word to the list. He and Cat had both memorized all those words, and, even if Kara couldn’t tell them how to pronounce them, there were times now when she would hand one of them a hastily scribbled note, without even knowing which language she had written it in, and they would understand it regardless.

 

It made her happy. This place, these people, but it also… it also made her want to do so much better, because despite everything, the weeks and months passed by, and she still hadn’t left the apartment, not after that night with General Lane, at least.

 

It took four and a half months, four and a half months after she, they, had killed General Lane, but finally there came a day when Cat actually left something important at home, something that Kara knew the other woman would need for her afternoon meeting.

 

It almost wasn’t enough, except…

 

Except that Kara knew that Cat needed it, but Kara also knew that Cat would never send someone to get it, because she wouldn’t want that someone to come in and scare Kara. Kara knew that Cat was going to put her first. And that knowledge, that fact, that was what made it enough.

 

She made sure to cover herself, first. She had gotten used to wearing short-sleeves around the apartment, but she couldn’t let other people see her like that. She dressed in long-sleeves and pants, and for her neck she picked one of Cat’s scarves. She had her own, she had found some online and ordered them, but she wanted one that smelled like Cat. If she was going to go outside at all, let alone by herself, she needed something of Cat’s touching her, something around her neck, against her scars, something securing her.

 

And so, wrapping the scarf just a little too tightly, just so that it mimicked the feel, at least in a small way, of Cat’s hands holding her possessively, of Cat protecting her, and pausing only to settle the new glasses, the ones Alex had bought for her weeks ago, on her face, Kara finally left the apartment.

 

Kara finally went outside.

 

She walked to CatCo, it was two miles, but she couldn’t get into a car by herself, be trapped with an unfamiliar human, and really, two miles was nothing to her. Physically at least. Mentally, however, it was an entirely different story.

 

With each step, Kara felt her need to run, to fly away, to simply disappear, increase. Her heart was racing in her chest, her breathing becoming increasingly erratic, but she kept going.

 

“Just one step,” she told herself, over and over again. Each step requiring just one more, trying not to think about anything beyond that one more step.

 

“Just one more step.”

 

“No, stop this, go back!”

 

She forced herself to go slowly. If she started to run, if even one movement was slightly too fast, she wouldn’t be able to stop herself. If she let that panic have even an ounce of control, the screaming would start, she would lash out, and people would get hurt.

 

“Just one more step.”

 

“We don’t like this! Go back!”

 

There were people all around her, pushing past, moving in the crowded city, pressing against her, touching her.

 

“Just one more step.”

 

“We want to go home!”

 

Her hand came up, twisting itself into the end of the scarf, bringing it to her face to inhale the scent.

 

“Just one more step,” Kara kept going.

 

Kara kept taking that one more step because Cat was waiting for her.

 

It took her almost two hours, two hours to cover that small distance, but eventually, she arrived. As she stepped into the lobby the press of bodies instantly diminished, although it didn’t dissipate, by any means. But even so, just being here, in CatCo, just knowing that Cat was close, Kara felt some of the tension leave her body. She could do this, she had done this.

 

Except she didn’t have a pass, she didn’t have a pass and there was a new security guard who wouldn’t know who she was. Actually, he might not be new, she had been gone for almost a year and a half, after all. Looking around, Kara was trying to figure out what to do, when the guard in question saw her, and gave her a large smile.

 

“Ah, Miss Danvers, you can come right through.”

 

Seeing her confused look, the man chuckled, “not to worry, ma’am. Miss Grant made everyone on the security team memorize your picture weeks ago, she said you might decide to drop by sometime, and if you did, we were to direct you to her private elevator.”

 

Of course, Cat. Cat and her stupid plans, Cat and her stupid faith in Kara, Cat and her insufferable, amazing, manipulative self. Kara looked down at the documents in her hand, they were probably copies, Cat hadn’t really even needed them at all, but she had left them just in case. Just in case Kara needed a push.

 

Just in case Kara wanted to go outside, but needed a reason. Because Cat was her reason, Cat would always be her reason.

 

Tentatively returning the smile of the guard, Kara slipped through the gates and headed towards the elevator. It made her uneasy, just a bit, she was remembering how to hate small spaces again, but she had walked outside by herself today, she could handle an elevator.

 

When the elevator doors opened and Kara stepped out, the office stopped. No one used Cat’s private elevator, let alone an old assistant. The security team might know about her, and her the missing persons file may have mysteriously disappeared, but Cat didn’t share personal details with people in the office, and right now, with Winn gone, he had accepted job in a different city seven months after her disappearance, there was no one around to justify her presence.

 

Luckily, the rest of the office quickly returned to their work and stopped staring at her. No one wanted to appear as if they had witnessed the misuse of the elevator, lest they be expected to explain themselves about it later.

 

And then Kara was standing in the door of Cat’s office, and Cat was looking up at her, a huge smile on her face, her eyes flicking down to the scarf around the girl's neck, a knowing look in her eye.

 

“Kiera, how nice of you to join us today,” and Kara couldn’t help but smile back at the woman, that manipulative, gorgeous woman.

 

Cat stood up, coming around her desk and advancing towards Kara, even as Kara moved towards her as well. Cat didn’t wait to draw her outside to the relative privacy of the balcony, she simply reached for Kara, one hand moving to Kara’s hair, the other coiling itself in the scarf, pulling her closer, and then Cat was kissing her.

 

Cat was kissing Kara in her office made of glass, and this time, when the people in the outer office stopped to stare, this time they forgot to return to work.

 

/////////////////////

 

Kara had come, she knew Kara would be able to do it. Cat didn’t care that there were people watching, Kara wasn’t her assistant anymore, and there was no reason to hide what Kara meant to her. And so Cat kissed her, pulling her close and letting herself forget about everyone else.

 

There was another reason for the kiss as well, another reason aside from the very basic fact that Cat simply always wanted to kiss Kara. Kara may have returned her smile, but Cat had no doubt that the trip from the apartment to the office had been incredibly difficult for the girl. Cat could feel in in her, feel the tension in Kara’s body. She strengthened her grip on Kara’s hair, pulling Kara even tighter against her, holding all the monsters at bay, even as Kara’s hands wrapped around her waist, as Kara began to relax into her.

 

When Cat ended the kiss she made sure to keep her hands on Kara, knowing that the younger woman would need it right now.

 

“You have something for me?” She asked, nodding at the papers currently held between Kara’s hand and Cat’s body.

 

The look she got from the girl in response told her very clearly that Kara had figured it out, figured out her little trick. Instead of seeming upset about it, however, Kara’s smile actually broadened, and one of her hands moved to brush against Cat’s lips.

 

Kara did this, sometimes, when she wanted to speak. She would touch Cat’s lips as she mouthed the words, almost as if she could make her voice appear from Cat’s throat.

 

“Thank you,” her lips read, and Cat tilted her face into the contact, letting Kara feel her smile.

 

Kara stayed there for the rest of the day, working out on Cat’s balcony, going over several articles that Cat herself hadn’t had time to look at yet. A few people had stopped by to speak with Cat, and some of them who remembered Kara had even tried to speak to her as well. Kara handled it well, the people coming and going, but Cat could see her when someone got too close, see the way Kara’s hands would twist themselves into the scarf, Cat’s scarf, around her neck. Cat knew Kara would be having nightmares again tonight, but even so, Kara handled it.

 

After the second person it soon became apparent that word had spread about Kara’s voice, or lack-there-of. Cat had simply mentioned that there had been an accident, while Kara was away in Central City, and she made it very clear by her tone that no one was to ask further questions.

 

That didn’t stop people from gossiping, though. Cat left Kara in her office briefly to attend a meeting in the afternoon, the same one that she had ‘needed’ those paper for, and she was almost back to her office afterwards when she heard it, the hushed voices of employees with too much time on their hands.

 

“I heard it’s her old assistant,” the first voice spoke, “apparently she ran off to Central City and then came crawling back when her new boss refused to let her sleep her way up the ladder.”

 

He was talking about Kara, and Cat felt herself stiffen. She was about to round the corner and catch the man, when another voice spoke up.

 

“I heard that there was some sort of accident, something happened that damaged her throat and she can’t speak anymore,” Cat recognized that voice, he was one of the newer hires, someone who had been on the receiving end of her criticism many times, and he had deserved it, each and every time. If Cat had had to correct that article, the first one Kara had fixed, she would have just fired him after the fourth mistake. The only reason he still had his job was because Kara had saved Cat the trouble of reading the draft.

 

“I bet that’s why our esteemed boss picked her,” and now Cat recognized the first speaker as well, Jason, the man from marketing who had interrupted her conversation with Kara and Alex at that employee social event, all that time ago, “it must be just what that bitch likes, someone who can’t talk back.”

 

She hadn’t been expecting that. The first part, yes, it had been disappointing to hear it, but understandable. But this last part, the idea that she wanted Kara because the girl couldn’t speak, that, that was unacceptable. Cat’s hands curled into fists at her side, and she stepped into view, giving the two men her full, undivided, angry, attention.

 

She took a brief moment to enjoy the looks of horror on both of their faces, before opening her mouth to tell them to go home, to tell them to pack up their things and get out. She never got the chance, however, because before she could unleash her anger, Kara suddenly appeared at her side.

 

Kara grabbed her hand, shaking her head slightly, and began to pull her away. Cat resisted for a moment, but Kara brushed her thumb over Cat’s hand in a soothing motion, and increased her pull. And Cat gave in because it was Kara, only because it was Kara.

 

Cat shot one last angry glare at the two men, before tightening her own grip in Kara’s hand and letting the girl lead her back to her office. People would probably be talking about this, about how Kara, her old assistant Kara, had dragged her around by the hand, had interrupted her anger, had calmed the bitch of a boss down, but maybe, maybe that would be a good thing.

 

She had known that people would gossip, would assume that she was just sleeping with Kara because the girl was young and beautiful, that Kara didn’t really mean anything to her. It had been a long time since Kara had been here as her assistant, after all, enough time for people to forget that Cat had always treated Kara differently, had always been possessive and protective of the girl.

 

But, even if those two men didn’t say anything about the incident, and they probably wouldn’t, there were still a number of people who saw Kara take Cat by the hand, and who saw Cat give in. It was a simple gesture, but no one who knew the boss Cat Grant, the Queen of All Media, would ever doubt that she would let just anyone do that. It was a small thing, but somehow, somehow it would serve to show people that Kara was important to her, that Kara mattered, and not just because she was beautiful.

 

“You couldn’t just let me fire them, could you, Kiera?” She raised an eyebrow, mock annoyance in her voice as soon as they had made it past the doors of her office.

 

Kara shook her head, smiling again. She had heard them, of course she had, but she was still so much brighter than Cat, and she could brush it off.

 

Kara scribbled something and Cat took it, reading the note and letting out a small chuckle under her breath, unable to stop herself.

 

“Yes, you have a point. They’ll both be so terrified of me now, that their work will undoubtedly improve by drastic measures,” even if she hadn’t fired them, her glare had been more than enough to let each man know his job was hanging by a thread, “maybe we should make this a thing. I find someone I want to fire, and you step in to save them at the last moment. That way I don’t have to back down, not really, and they’ll know the threat is real.”

 

Her mind was already starting to scheme, already putting together a list of people whose work could use some improvement, but Kara just shook her head, fondly, almost, and handed her some M&Ms.

 

Cat shot her a glare, leave it to Kara to distract her with those things, but she took the candies anyway, and let her plan slip away.

 

///////////////////

 

Kara had been back at work for two and a half months before she encountered Lucy for the first time. She had come back to CatCo about a month after that first visit. She wasn’t working full time, only about three days a week, and she wasn’t an assistant anymore, but rather, a junior editor, but she had her own office, with large, open windows to keep it from feeling too small.

 

After the first week people had adjusted to the fact that she couldn’t speak, and Cat had found something for her that didn’t require a lot of human interaction, at least for now. So overall, Kara was finding it much easier to slip back into a semblance of normal life, than she would have originally thought. It helped that Cat was so close, but Kara was still far enough away that she was having to relearn what it was to function on her own.

 

It wasn’t a mistake, her seeing Lucy. She had known the other woman was avoiding her, but she also knew that Lucy was avoiding her out of guilt, and because Lucy knew that her presence would bring back terrible memories for Kara. But Kara was starting to get her life back together, and she couldn’t put this off any longer.

 

“This is a bad idea.”

 

“Shut up.”

 

“Go back, go home, go to Cat.”

 

“Shut up!”

 

She picked a day when she knew Lucy would be staying late at the office, a day when they could have some privacy, and Kara could focus on just Lucy, without feeling the mass of other humans pushing in around her as well. Despite knowing what she was doing, however, the closer she got to Lucy, the stronger the Lane smell became, the more Kara felt her panic rise. But she pushed it back, Lucy didn’t deserve this, Lucy hadn’t had anything to do with what had happened to her.

 

Even so, she knew she was pale by the time she knocked on Lucy’s door, she knew her breathing was shallow as she walked inside and closed the door behind her. And she knew that she looked scared, epically when Lucy looked up, and Kara saw pain flash through her friend’s eyes.

 

“Kara,” Lucy breathed, jumping to her feet.

 

Kara didn’t give her time to continue, however, she knew that Lucy was lost in this situation, that Lucy had been scarred by the events even as she had been. It was a small office, and it only took a few steps to close the distance. Lucy started to take one step back, but caught herself, her eyes meeting Kara’s.

 

Kara reached for her, slowly, and Lucy followed her hand with her gaze, watching as Kara’s hand reached for her own. Lucy could feel it, she knew, could feel the tremors running through her body, feel her hand shaking, but still, Kara gripped Lucy’s hand, and offered a small, forced smile.

 

And Lucy started crying.

 

This must have been so hard for her, Kara considered, finding out that her father was a monster. It must still be hard, because even with that knowledge, it couldn’t erase all the good memories Lucy had of the man. People were never just good or evil, and General Lane, well, he had been a terrible man, he had been a horrific man, but he had raised a daughter like Lucy, and once, Lucy had loved him for it.

 

Kara tried to tell Lucy that it was ok, that she knew the difference between her and her father, but it was hard. It was hard because Lucy could see how scared Kara was, Lucy, who had only known the bright, happy Kara before all of this, Lucy could see that way Kara was holding herself, how hard she was fighting not to run away.

 

But Kara had to do this, for both of them. Kara had to do this because she couldn’t keep running away, and Lucy, Lucy needed closure as well.

 

“Kara, I’m so s-” but Kara stopped her, shaking her head and reaching for the other woman with her second hand, moving to brush away the tears.

 

Pulling her hand away from Lucy’s face, Kara reached for a note, one that she had prepared ahead of time.

 

“I killed him,” the note read, “I’m not sorry about that. But I am sorry that you lost your father.”

 

“That man was not my father,” Lucy spat out, but it wasn’t true, and they both knew it. Lucy may not hold it against her, what had happened, and Kara knew that Cat had already told Lucy that they had killed General Lane, but some part of the woman must still miss him. Consciously, Lucy might not care, might even be glad that he was dead, but even so, even so he had been her father, and he had been kind to her, loved her, and nothing else he did could ever change that.

 

Kara pointed to the second part of the note again, the part that said that she was sorry for Lucy’s loss. Lucy had to know, had to know that Kara understood that it hurt, that Kara wasn’t judging her for not being able to control her feelings.

 

Lucy was still crying. It took everything Kara had, every ounce of control, but she did it. Kara stepped in closer and wrapped her arms around the crying woman, enfolding Lucy in her grasp, letting Lucy sob into her shoulder. Because Lucy was her friend, and Lucy needed her.

 

When Kara left the office some time later she felt lighter, as if, by showing Lucy that she didn’t blame her, by helping Lucy, somehow, she herself had been freed. She wouldn’t be able to see Lucy, she knew, without that fear, without that instinct to scream, to run, not for a long time, at least. But she had still faced it. Kara had stood in a room with Lucy, had even held Lucy in her arms, and she hadn’t given in to the chaos.

 

And Cat hadn’t even been at her side.

 

Kara had done it on her own, because her friend had needed her.

 

“We think that a lot, don’t we?”

 

“What?”

 

“That someone needs us. We do a lot of things because of that thought.”

 

“It’s what Supergirl would think.”

 

“We’re not Supergirl, not anymore.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because we’re afraid.”

 

“We were always afraid, even before.”

 

She was on her own now, walking home. Like Lucy, Cat had also had to stay late, but Carter would be home, and Kara was supposed to help him with his homework. And that was when she heard it, the cry for help. A man was crying out, someone was mugging him, and Kara acted on instinct.

 

One moment she was walking slowly home, and the next, the next she was catching a bullet in her hand.

 

/////////////////////

 

Cat was just heading out the door when the reporter came to her, bustling with excitement. There was a story, he told her, a story about a blond woman who had stepped in and saved a man, a blond woman who had caught a bullet in her hand.

 

There wasn’t enough to go on, the man knew it, obviously, but he was still grinning from ear to ear, still exuberant with the idea that he had found the next Supergirl.

 

Except it wasn’t the next Supergirl, it was Supergirl. Cat knew that, and she felt her heart race at the news. She had the story all ready to go, she had written it during Kara’s first week home. It explained that Supergirl hadn’t died, that she had fallen into the ocean and been frozen for over a year and a half. It was a cliché, Cat knew, but that was why it would work. Superheroes always managed to come back from the dead, and Supergirl, Supergirl could do it as well. And the more familiar the story was, the easier people would accept it.

 

She wouldn’t run the story, of course, not before talking to Kara, not before making sure the girl was ready, but she had had it prepared. Because even when Kara hadn’t been sure of herself, even if Kara still wasn’t sure of herself, Cat knew. Cat knew Kara was still there. Cat knew that Kara was still her Kara, was still her superhero.

 

Kara was waiting for her when she got home that evening. Kara was waiting, a note in her hand all ready to explain what had happened, but Cat didn’t need it.

 

Cat knew what the note would say. It would tell her that Kara had saved someone, that Kara had saved someone and that she hadn’t thought about it. It would tell her that a strange human Kara didn’t know had been in trouble, and the girl had acted without thinking, without hesitation. The note would tell her that Kara, who, in all the time following her second capture, always had to put so much thought behind every action, that Kara had remembered what it was to help someone on instinct.

 

Carter would already be asleep, and, as Cat walked in, she didn’t stop to read the note Kara was holding in her hand. Instead, she just pushed Kara’s hands out of the way, and kissed her.

 

“I know, I heard,” Cat whispered, pulling away after a moment, “Kara, I love you, Kara.”

 

“Cat.”

 

Kara’s eyes widened, even as Cat froze.

 

“Cat. Cat, Cat, Cat, Cat, Cat, Ca-”

 

The name was cut off as Cat kissed her again. Cat knew she was crying, but it didn’t matter.

 

They had found Kara ten months ago, and Kara had disappeared ten months before that. It had been twenty months since Cat had heard that voice. Kara had remembered how to act on instinct, how to save someone, and now, now Kara was saving herself.

 

They somehow made it to the bedroom, and Cat was still kissing her, but now she pulled away, needing to hear more of Kara’s voice.

 

“Cat,” Kara spoke again. If Kara had been human, her voice would have been hoarse with disuse, but Kara wasn’t human. Her alien DNA had kept her vocal chords in perfect working order, even if her mind hadn’t been ready to process them, yet. And so, when Kara spoke, her voice was just as pure, just as beautiful, as the first time Cat had heard it.

 

“Cat,” this time it was a gasp as Cat’s hands tore away her clothes.

 

“Cat,” a cry now, as Cat pushed her down on the bed.

 

“Cat,” Kara arched into her as Cat’s fingers trailed down her body.

 

“Cat,” almost a scream this time, as Cat bit down on Kara’s shoulder.

 

“Cat,” an actual scream this time, as Cat made her come.

 

“Cat, I love you, Cat,” as Cat held the girl in her arms, as Cat surrounded her with her body, as Cat refused to let go.

 

/////////////////////

 

“Are you there?”

 

“…”

 

“Are you?”

 

“…”

 

“Kara,” Cat came out to join her on the balcony, “Kara, what are you thinking about?”

 

Kara smiled at Cat, “I’m just wondering if there is anyone else here.”

 

“Are you there? Answer me!”

 

“…”

 

Cat laughed, enfolding Kara in her arms.

 

“It’s just us, Kara, just the two of us, who else would there be?”

 

“You’re not there anymore, are you?”

 

“…”

 

“No one, Cat,” turning, Kara closed her eyes as she leaned into Cat’s embrace, inhaling Cat’s scent, “I can only hear two voices, just you and me.”

 

The End