Chapter 1: Chapter One
Cat hated events like these. It wasn’t the venue or the ambience that bothered her, and in fact, she was known to enjoy a good high society party on occasion—especially if said party was being held to celebrate one of her achievements—no, what bothered her about these particular kinds of events had nothing to do with the organization of the things themselves, and everything to do with the people.
The typical events that she attended or organized were filled with media professionals or political figures, people who knew that attending a party was more about presenting yourself a certain way, and less about personal interaction. But every once in a while Cat was forced to attend a party like this one, an event not centered around politics, but rather, an employee social gathering. She almost shuddered as she thought those words, she really had no idea why the Human Resources Department insisted on hosting these events twice a year, but if she shut them down she would have to read through endless emails from the head of the department detailing the importance of employee bonding.
Even so, the event itself was never too bad. It was always classy, the food and alcohol of good quality, so in the end her dislike for these events all came down to the people, specifically the “friends and family.” The first reason she disliked opening CatCo doors to these outsiders was really rather simple. None of them had ulterior motives in coming to the party, they simply wanted to have a night out with their loved ones, which made the entire event way to personal and charming for her tastes. The second reason was that these outsiders didn’t know her three rules, the rules that every CatCo employee lived and died by. And without the boundary of political and social networking that guarded other types of social events, these guests didn’t always know where to draw the line, and so someone almost always ended up breaking at least one of her rules.
They were easy rules to remember. The first was never to question her commitment to her son, or comment on the fact that her usual cold demeanor vanished completely in his presence. The second rule was never to invade her personal space unless she initiated it first. And the third rule, well, the third rule was that Kara was hers.
Some of Kara’s male colleagues, specifically that IT boy, Witt, or whatever his name was, and James, the wonder photographer, hadn’t gotten that memo right away, but a few well placed glares, accompanied by a possessive hand around Kara’s arm, soon put them in their place. She knew that some of the employees wondered just how far her claim over her young assistant went, but none of them would dare ask, or even speculate amongst themselves. And she liked it that way. The fact that none of them could figure out if her claim was driven by a romantic desire or more simply just a control factor meant that no one could figure out just how to analyze or disrupt the relationship.
Of course it wasn’t completely fair to say that every CatCo employee was aware of this third rule because there was, importantly, one distinctive deviant, and that was Kara herself. The girl was so adorably naïve and trusting that she never seemed to realize what was going on, not that Cat actively tried to make her aware of it. Cat wasn’t sure how Kara would react if she ever figured it out, would she run? Submit? What did Cat actually want her to do? Cat didn’t even know herself, because, for however much she wanted her young assistant, she was also terrified of breaking her. That’s why it was better this way. Kara was loyal to a fault, which meant that Cat never had to worry about the girl doing anything that would interfere with their relationship, even if Kara wasn’t even fully aware of what that relationship was.
It was also why she refused to say Kara’s name correctly, and why she didn't try to learn anything about her background, or life outside of the office. She couldn’t control any of that, the only thing she could control was office Kiera, office Kiera in CatCo, surrounded by employees who were well aware of where the boundary lay. It all played out rather well, except, it would seem, at these stupid employee social gatherings where outsiders flooded into her domain wanting to be all personal and real. It was the one time that the outside world threatened to crash in around her Kara in Cat’s presence, which challenged Cat’s commitment to keeping her claim to the office alone.
Which was precisely what was happening now because, for the first time in the two years Cat had known her, Kara—who looked stunning in her dark blue dress that was, if a little too conservative for Cat’s liking, in a color and style that complemented Cat’s own dark green gown—well, Kara had brought someone with her to the event.
Cat was pretending to make small talk with a board member and her husband, but in reality, she was just using them as a shield while she carefully scrutinized the woman who was with Kara. The woman in question was attractive, Cat had to grudgingly admit, with short dark-brown or reddish hair, it was hard to tell against her black dress suit, and she was standing way to close to Kara. For once Cat actually wished she knew if Kara had any sisters or cousins, but this woman looked nothing like her assistant, so even if Kara did have siblings, this woman was unlikely one of them. For her part, Kara was staring at the woman like she was the greatest thing to ever grace the planet, her admiration clear on her face.
Cat could see both women in profile, and she watched as Kara laughed at something the other woman said, seeming more relaxed in her presence than Cat had ever seen her. Cat felt herself visibly frown. It lasted only a moment, and then her Queen of all Media mask was back in place, but it was long enough to be noticed by her current conversation partners. Mumbling some stupid excuse about wanting to try the shrimp, the pair hurried off in the face of her obvious displeasure, leaving Cat completely without cover.
As she searched around for someone new to pretend to talk to so she could continue to stare at her assistant, Kara laughed again and brought her arm up to lightly brush the other woman’s arm, and this time Cat’s frown was accompanied by a full blown glare. As if she could sense the stare, the other woman turned her head, catching Cat’s eyes. Cat could have looked away and pretended like she hadn’t been glowering at the pair of them, but she was better than that, so instead she held the stare, refusing to back down.
There was a brief flash of confusion, the woman was an outsider and had no reason to know why someone was giving her a death glare, but a moment later a look of realization set in. The woman looked from Cat to the younger woman next to her, and back again, and then smiled slowly in Cat’s direction and put her arm around Kara’s shoulders, the challenge clear in her eyes.
Kara didn’t even react to the causal contact, something which made Cat’s blood boil. Kara was by nature, jumpy, and it had taken months before the girl had accepted causal physical contact from Cat with ease. Even now, when Cat touched her, while Kara no longer jumped at the intrusion, she still noticed the contact and reacted in some way, whether it was simply by looking at Cat’s hand on her arm, or getting adorably flustered. But this woman, this woman had placed her arm around Kara and the younger woman acted like it was the most natural thing in the world, and that behavior, here in Cat’s territory, was unacceptable.
The other woman was smiling at Kara who was babbling away happily about something or other, but she had positioned herself so that she could see both Kara and Cat at the same time. Cat felt her hand tighten dangerously around her glass as the woman casually tucked a stray strand of hair back behind Kara’s ear, all the while keeping her eyes locked with Cat.
That was going too far. Maybe her glare wasn’t working, but Cat was not about to let the challenge go unanswered. She didn’t know who this woman thought she was, but she was about to learn not to mess with Cat Grant.
Downing the last of her drink, Cat placed the empty glass on the tray of a passing waiter, and then stalked closer to the two women, a cold smile frozen on her face.
Hearing the approaching heels, Kara turned her head slightly, meeting her boss’s eyes with a surprised, if nervous, smile. This was one of the things that Cat liked about Kara so much. Everyone else was either afraid of Cat, or saw her as competition, but Kara was neither. Sure, Kara got nervous in her presence, but Cat knew what fear looked like, and Kara had never once looked at her that way. So when Kara smiled at her, Cat knew the girl actually meant it. Somehow, despite two years of being called the wrong name and endless scathing remarks, her assistant still looked at Cat like she was a person, like she was someone that Kara was genuinely happy to see.
“Miss Grant!” Cat was gratified to see that Kara had instantly straightened up in her presence, stepping forward in a move that forced the other woman to drop her arm away.
“Do you need anything? I can start looking through the layouts for tomorrow if you want…” Kara trailed off, looking at her boss expectantly.
Cat almost considered it. Sending Kara off to do something would be a clear show of power to this other woman, an obvious sign that Kara was hers, and not to be messed with, but no, that would only be a temporary fix. She needed Kara to stay and introduce her to this woman. She needed to learn about this woman and figure out just what their relationship was. It was one thing for Kara to have a private life outside of work, as much as Cat hated the thought, but this woman needed to learn that at CatCo, or any CatCo event, Kara was off limits. Cat needed to make sure that this woman, if she was indeed a date, learned to stay away from future events, and so instead of just sending Kara away for this one night, she had to make her stance clear.
“No, Kiera,” and now Cat saw the other woman glare at her behind Kara’s back as she addressed the younger woman by the wrong name, “the layouts will hold until tomorrow morning. I just came over so you could introduce me to your,” here she paused, looking over the other woman as if deciding just how little she was worth, “friend,” she finished finally, offering the woman an icy smile.
Whatever misgivings Cat may have had about appearing to take an active interest in Kara’s personal life, disappeared an instant later as Kara beamed at her, clearly happy that Cat had actually sought her out for something other than work.
“Maybe I should try to learn more about her,” Cat thought. “If she smiled like this just because I greeted her at a social event, how much more would she smile if I just made even the slightest effort to get to know her better, or offer her a compliment?”
But no, Cat knew she couldn’t do that. Her attachment to her assistant needed to be kept to the strict confines of work. To exceed that boundary by too much would be dangerous, both for herself and for the younger woman. And besides, she already knew Kara way too well. Sure, she didn’t know about Kara’s family, or what she did after work hours, but she knew other things. She knew that when the two of them were working late and had to order food that it was always a good idea to get extra pot-stickers when they ordered Chinese, or to avoid any lobster or crab dishes because Kara hated the thought that those creatures were killed specially for each order, rather than simply being mass prepared like other animal dishes. She knew that Kara hated loud, sudden noises, which was why she would send Kara out for coffee, or to deliver some documents, whenever she had a meeting with the sports news department, who seemed unable to have a simple conversation without yelling out sports terms at regular, if unpredictable, intervals. She knew that Kara loved being out in the sunlight, so on particularly bright days Cat would work on her balcony, and insist that she needed Kara by her side because her desk outside the office was too far away.
And she also knew that Kara didn’t like small spaces, and that it was best not to touch her, or stand too close when in an elevator, and to always let Kara have the window seat if they were traveling to a meeting in the back of her private car. Not that the girl would complain or say anything, but Cat hated the strained look that would appear in Kara’s eyes when she felt trapped. It was a look completely different from her usual, happy and open personality, and it was a look that made Cat both want to hold her closer, and afraid to ask if there was a deeper reason behind her discomfort.
“Just this once,” Cat decided, “tomorrow I’ll be her powerful, uncaring boss again.”
But Kara was still smiling at her, making it hard to hold onto that resolve.
“Miss Grant, this is my sister, Alex Danvers,” Kara looked over her shoulder as she waved the other woman forward, “Alex, this is my boss, Miss Grant.”
The woman, Alex, had smoothed her face back into a pleasant smile before Kara had the chance to see the glare, although her eyes still told a different story. Even so, Cat felt herself relax.
So she was the sister, not a date. Looking back over the past few minutes, Cat realized that none of the interactions between the two women had been exactly sexual in nature. The physical contact had been causal and intimate, but not flirtatious, and years of growing up together would explain why Kara was so relaxed about it. The glare she had been receiving was also slightly different than the one she had been giving. While her glare was jealous and possessive, the look from the other woman, while also possessive, was more protective.
“Alex,” Cat said graciously, extending her hand.
“Cat,” the other woman responded, earning a slight frown from her sister at the informal greeting.
The handshake was firm, both women testing each other, smiles plastered on their faces for Kara’s benefit, but their eyes telling a different story.
The message from Alex was clear, to her, Kara was mine to protect, and from Cat, just as clear, mine to have and to hold.
Kara of course, was completely oblivious to the battle that was being waged for her, and instead, seeing that Cat wasn’t going to say anything about the way Alex had addressed her, Kara began grinning at them both in that very Kara way.
Looking from Alex to Kara, Cat felt her face soften slightly, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw the same thing happen to Alex.
The moment was broken when Alex’s phone dinged, and the softer tone that had momentarily overtaken her face was instantly replaced with a business-like mask, a mask Cat could recognize in herself.
“I need to take this, it’s my boss,” Alex had said, giving Cat a curt, slightly warning nod, and smiling at Kara before excusing herself to take the call.
Cat didn’t miss the fleeting look of worry on Kara’s face, and wondered briefly just what it was that the older Danvers sister did that could cause Kara’s normally optimistic face to crease in just that way.
Trying to distract the younger woman, who was still staring after her sister, Cat decided to bend her ‘no getting to personal with Kara’ stance just a little more for the evening.
“You two don’t look very much alike,” she commented, trying to keep her voice light, “did your family have a blond milkman who came around for frequent visits or something?”
“Great, Cat. Try to make a joke, and instead you insinuate that her mother was having an affair…”
Kara’s attention snapped back to her, and she blushed slightly, although whether it was because of Cat’s comment, or the fact that Cat was giving her attention, the older woman couldn’t be sure.
“Actually, we wouldn’t look alike,” Kara replied, her voice also keeping a lighter tone that didn’t match the following words, “we’re not actually related. The Danvers are my foster family, they took me in when I was fourteen after my parents died in an explosion.”
“Oh,” Cat cast around for something to say, but she was captivated by the look in Kara’s eyes. The blush had faded and Kara was now meeting her gaze steadily and without her usual nervous lilt, and for once, Cat didn’t feel like she was talking to a young, innocent, breakable woman. Instead, despite the soft smile that graced Kara’s lips, Kara’s eyes held pain, true pain, and Kara wasn’t breaking eye contact, or getting flustered, no, her gaze was steady and confident.
“She wants me to know,” Cat realized, “She wants me to see that she can be strong.”
Through the sadness Cat could see that strength, as well as a hardness that she hadn’t thought the younger woman was capable of, something tempered by loss, and… and here Cat paused in her thoughts, it was almost as if there was something beyond the loss, but whatever it was, Cat couldn’t even begin to figure it out.
“Sorry about that,” the older sister said, coming up behind them and placing her hand protectively on Kara’s shoulder, giving Cat a look that clearly said that she better not have tried anything while Alex was away.
The hardness vanished the moment Alex returned, but there was still just a hint of concern on Kara’s face.
“Anything to worry about?” Kara asked softly.
Alex smiled gently at the younger sibling, the earlier business mask gone, “No, just a routine matter,” she assured her sister, at which point, Kara’s face finally relaxed completely back into her usual, open and happy smile.
Kara began to turn back to Cat, but at that moment they were interrupted by Jake, or Joe, or Josh (maybe?), that pompous man from marketing. He was a self-important imbecile, but it was a good idea to keep him happy, so Cat gritted her teeth and smiled at him, accepting his invitation for another drink.
As she walked away from the Danvers sisters she couldn’t help herself and looked back, just once. Kara looked slightly disappointed that she had left them, a thought that brought a pleased smile to Cat’s lips, temporarily displacing her fake grimace of professional interest. Even though Kara looked like she was back to her usual, puppy dog self, however, Cat couldn’t help but remember the strength in her eyes as she had spoken about her family.
“I was afraid of breaking her,” Cat thought, “But maybe I don’t have to be.”
The moment was over way too soon for Kara’s liking. She had finally gotten the two people she cared about most in the world, the two people that made her feel safe more than anyone else, even her cousin, together in one place, and then that stupid, god’s-gift-to-man Jason from marketing had had to come swooping in just as Cat was finally showing some interest in her personal life.
She had been so glad when Cat had come over. She was hoping the other woman would realize that Kara had chosen her own dress specifically after seeing the one Cat had chosen to wear. Although Kara’s dress was much more conservative, considering her scars it had to be, the dark blue was the perfect shade to compliment the green, both with a slight metallic sheen that placed them in the same color pallet without overlapping each other. The cut as well was simple, elegant, exactly the style Cat preferred. If Cat had noticed, however, she hadn’t given any indication, not that they had spoken long enough for her to do so in any event.
Cat had left the event soon after, keeping to her policy of coming late and leaving early, not giving Kara another chance to talk with her, and she and Alex had left shortly after that. If Alex had any thoughts about Kara’s boss, she kept them to herself.
Now, alone in her apartment once more, Kara carefully stripped off her dress and reached for her pajamas, an oversized CatCo t-shirt and a pair of cotton pants. Thinking of Cat, she paused uncharacteristically, before turning away from her clothes and slowly walking over to her floor length mirror, keeping her head down. She normally got changed as quickly as possible, not liking to be exposed for too long, and she only looked in the mirror once fully clothed. But thinking about her boss, about how beautiful she had looked tonight, Kara couldn’t help but contemplate the difference between the two of them.
Taking a deep breath, Kara raised her head, forcing herself to keep her hands at her sides instead of wrapping them protectively around herself, which was her normal reaction whenever she was faced with her scars.
Her first year on earth had been hell. Her shuttle was found by a black-ops branch of the government, and she had been surrounded by military personal with kryptonite the moment she had landed. Thirteen-year old Kara hadn’t stood a chance. They had moved her from her small, cramped shuttle, into a second small space, deep underground in a facility lined with lead, which, she would find out later, was to keep her cousin from finding out about her existence. They had kept her there for the next year, the kryptonite ensuring that they could keep her under control, even as they tested and experimented on her, practically dissecting her while she was still alive. They would take away just enough of the kryptonite to ensure that she would survive these proceedings, and would heal quickly so they could move on to the next test, but never enough for her to have any real power.
Kara learned to speak English from overheard conversations about what they were going to do to her next, and from barked orders telling her to get on the table, or to stop screaming. She was thirteen and she should have broken, but she didn’t know about the phantom zone, and the time delay. All she knew was that she had to escape and find Kal-El, because it was her job to protect him.
It had taken her a full year, but eventually she had gotten her chance. One of the guards had gotten lazy and forgotten to put the kryptonite cuffs on her before moving her from her cell to the operating room. The operating room was, by necessity, flooded with artificial sunlight to keep her alive as they worked on her, even as the normal kryptonite cuffs kept her too weak to fight. The entire walk to the room she had kept her head down, praying that he wouldn’t notice his mistake. And then, stepping foot into the sunlight without kryptonite for the first time since she had landed a year ago, she had run.
She didn’t know what her powers were, but she let her rage and fear course through her, and, feeling her emotions give rise to strength for the first time, she let it overwhelm her. Later, she would realize that she had killed five people, moving so fast the, by then complacent guards, had no chance to react or defend themselves. Even now she couldn’t find it in herself to be sad about their deaths. Sometimes it bothered her that she didn’t feel bad about being a murderer, but even so, it was always her lack of compassion that bothered her most, not the actual act of killing itself.
As she blasted through the roof of the compound and rocketed away, covered in blood that for once, wasn’t hers, her haywire power surges were enough to finally alert Superman to her presence.
And then there had been Alex. Alex was the person who had taught her that humans could be kind, Alex, far more than Superman, had saved her. There were still moments after a bad nightmare when she would wake up and feel only fear at seeing Alex’s face, the face of a human looking down at her, looking so much like a Kryptonian but with that distinctive human smell, and the heartbeat that was slightly faster that the typical Kryptonian cadence. But Alex would stand back and speak softly, and Kara would remember that not all humans were monsters.
There had come a point, several years after coming to live with Alex and Eliza, when she had had just such a night. When she had finally calmed down, however, Kara was struck by the deep look of pain that had crossed Alex’s face.
“My fear of her hurts her more than my memories do me,” and that was the moment that Kara realized she was strong, and more that just physically.
“I survived,” she told herself, “after everything I lost, everything I lived though, I survived. I will not be broken.”
That was the moment she had found the strength to move away from her safe haven, to go to college, and finally, to get a job at CatCo, which was where she had found her second safe human, Cat Grant.
It hadn’t been instantaneous, but eventually Kara had realized that Cat had a certain possessiveness about her when she dealt with Kara. Kara was fine with physical contact, as long as she was prepared for it, but even with her acceptance of what had happened to her, it couldn’t completely erase the mental conditioning that had taught her to fear small spaces, or that physical contact meant pain. Alex had been the first person who was able to touch her unexpectedly without her flinching away, and Cat was the second.
When Cat touched her Kara felt safe because Cat’s touch wasn’t trying to be reassuring, or helpful, instead it was possessive and powerful. Reassuring touches were all well and good, but at the end of the day, that’s all they were, token signs of affection. In Cat’s touch, however, Kara felt at home. Cat’s touch was full of a promise that she wouldn’t allow anyone else to have her, that Kara was cared for and wanted, and above all, safe.
Cat thought she didn’t know, and this made Kara smile sadly to herself sometimes. Cat thought that because Kara smiled at her brightly, that she didn’t see or understand just what it was Cat wanted from her. What Cat didn’t realize, however, was that the reason Kara was able to smile so carefreely in her presence, was specifically because of the way Cat saw her, not in spite of it.
But looking at herself in the mirror, Kara didn’t know if that would be enough. Just because Kara wasn’t broken, didn’t mean that she could look at her body without feeling anything. Her scars didn’t look that same as typical human scars, which she supposed was due to the mix of sunlight and kryptonite. They weren’t raised, and when she would run her hand across them, her fingertips could feel no discernible difference between the scared and unscarred skin, except for the fact that the scared skin was slightly more sensitive, but they were still visible. They looked like someone had drawn henna across her skin in blue ink, and, she supposed, if you didn’t know the story behind them, they could actually be considered somewhat beautiful. But she did know the story. They had never drugged her, and so she could remember each moment, each cut, and she knew what lay behind every scar.
She didn’t think Cat was so shallow that she would reject Kara because of her scars, no, what worried Kara was that Cat would reject her because she thought Kara needed something else, needed someone who would be gentle. It was why she was waiting for Cat to figure out what she really wanted from Kara, whether she was ready to move beyond the office. Because once Cat had made up her mind that she truly wanted Kara, that she wanted all of her, Kara had a much better chance of being able to convince Cat to look beyond the scars. But if Kara pushed it, moved too fast, all Cat would see was a woman who had been hurt, and Cat would run to avoid breaking her, not giving Kara the chance to show her that she would not be broken so easily.
Sighing, Kara turned away from the mirror and got dressed. Tonight she had shown Cat a glimpse of her strength, and, she hoped, maybe, just maybe, it would be enough to make Cat reach out to take more of her.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Cat let her dress fall away and pool at her feet. She knew she should hang it up, but right now she had other things on her mind, things she needed to think through before she lost her nerve.
Cat had her three rules for the office, the rules for her employees, but she also had three private rules just for herself. One, never let work anxiety carry over into her interactions with Carter. Two, never invite employees into her personal home. And three, never think about Kara outside of work, or work-related events.
This last one was very important, and it was also by far the hardest one to maintain. The careful balance with Kara that she had built at the office only worked as long as it stayed that way, as long as she didn’t push it too far and actually consider what she herself wanted, how far she wanted it to go. She would sometimes amuse herself by wondering if her employees thought she had romantic inclinations towards her assistant, but the truth was, she wasn’t even entirely sure herself.
At the office, Kara belonged to her in a way that didn’t need sex to clarify or define it. It was very simply, that all her interactions with Kara were carried out in a world where the idea and knowledge that Kara was hers was a fundamental part of the universe, like gravity or the need for oxygen.
But the moment she let herself think about Kara outside of that setting the rules of her office universe no longer reigned supreme. This meant that she had to consider Kara in the context of the rest of society, a society that she didn’t control. And that would force her to define the relationship, and to acknowledge that there were other demands on Kara’s time, other people the girl cared about and belonged to, like that sister of hers.
Which was why she wasn’t stopping to hang up her dress, because if she did, if she let herself get too far away from the party, her natural preservation instincts would kick in and shut down this line of thought. Her preservation instincts where yelling at her to stop thinking about Kara this instant, because she wouldn’t, couldn’t, think about Kara as anything other that hers, and the moment she tried to imagine Kara outside of her office world, all Cat could focus on was that it was a world that didn’t acknowledge her claim, that she needed to go to her girl right now and make sure she was safe, and… and what?
And that was the crux of the issue. What did Cat want? If she contemplated what it would mean to surrender to her desire, to reach out and hold all of Kara, not just the Kara, or Kiera, that she let herself have, how far did that go?
Considering it here, in her home alone late at night, she had her answer. She knew, without a doubt, that once she reached for Kara in the real world, she would never be able to stop herself, to draw any more boundaries. She wouldn’t be able to hold herself back from claiming all of Kara, body, mind, and soul.
She took two steps away from her dress, coming to a stop in front of a full-length mirror and staring at herself, daring herself to ask the questions.
“I’m older than her,” she thought, twisting around to see herself from different angles. She tried to imagine how a younger person would view her body, but no matter how she thought about it, she couldn’t help but be pleased with the result. She looked good, better than good. Her breasts, while perhaps not as full as they used to be, were still firm, and her skin was nearly flawless, no obvious scars to distract the eye away from her well-toned stomach and arms. Not that scars would be too much of a problem in the dark, but she knew that she had a body that didn’t need to be hidden away. She was stunning, and if she was a man no one would ever think to question the age difference. Which led to the next area of concern.
“If I reached for her, would she run?”
Wanting all of Kara could mean that she would risk losing the part of her she already had. Could she handle that, if Kara left her?
“And what if she doesn’t?”
Here, Cat closed her eyes, no longer staring imploringly at her own image, but for a brief moment, allowing herself to see Kara, her Kara. She imagined what it would be like so see a look of desire in Kara’s eyes, desire only for her. To kiss the younger woman and feel her submit. To hear Kara cry out as Cat left bruising, biting kisses down her neck, as Cat trailed her nails up Kara’s thighs. She wanted to make sure Kara would forget about anyone else who had ever touched her, and bring Kara just the right balance of pain and pleasure to ensure that the girl would never again be able to experience either of those things without thinking of Cat.
But Kara was sweet, and kind, and trusting, and if Kara didn’t run, with the things Cat wanted to do to her, Cat would break her.
Or would she?
The image of Kara in her mind shifted slightly, and now she imagined Kara with those eyes, those eyes that had started this foray into imagining Kara outside of the office in the first place. Those eyes that had dared Cat to see something else in Kara, something that wouldn’t break. Cat felt hot desire shoot through her at the thought.
There was a certain pleasure in imagining what she could do with her young, innocent assistant, in imagining an obedient girl willing to follow her every whim, unable to resist. But the idea of a Kara that was strong, that could resist, but would still submit to her anyway, now that was far more powerful.
Eyes still closed, Cat brought her left hand up to tangle in her own hair, before slowly beginning to drag it down her body, down her neck, tilting her head back to grant greater access. She moved onto her breast, feeling her nipple already hard, and then, even more slowly, she let her hand drift downward, across her stomach, but she stopped short of where she really wanted it.
And there was Kara, staring at her in that way that was both a challenge, and a promise, “I dare you to take me, I promise I will not break.”
A soft moan escaped Cat’s lips, but she still didn’t let her hand drift any further south, enjoying the painful burn of denied want.
She imagined the girl pinned down now, fully able to break Cat’s hold if she wanted, to crush her boss with her immense strength if she was so inclined, but so completely Cat’s, that she would never do either of those things. Kara, fighting to restrain herself, but breaking the bed anyway because Cat alone could make her come undone. Kara, whose body would be a perfect specimen of coiled, unstoppable power, who…
Cat’s eyes snapped open. She had been imagining Kara, and then, and then Kara had become Supergirl. Cat tore her gaze away from the mirror, her desire cooling and turning into guilt, not at the fact that she had been fantasizing about the hero, but rather, that she had let herself get distracted from Kara.
“Did I really see what I thought I saw in Kara’s eyes?” she couldn’t help herself from thinking, “or was I just superimposing a look I’ve seen on Supergirl’s face before, to make Kara more appealing?”
Cat understood why she had blended the two of them together. Both were young, and blond, and beautiful, and they both seemed capable of immense, almost sickening levels of goodness. But while Kara was adorable and nervous, while Kara would blush and get flustered, for all that she was excellent at her job, Kara’s awkward nature marked her as decidedly very, very human.
But Supergirl, well, Supergirl was not human. On those few occasions where Cat had found herself face to face with the young hero, she always found herself struck by two facts. Supergirl was not human, but more than that, Supergirl didn’t want to be. Cat wasn’t quite sure how she could be so certain about this last part. Supergirl had never said anything about it, and goodness knows Cat didn’t know her well enough to accurately read her, but still, there was a clear difference between Supergirl and Superman.
Cat had met Superman a few times while working for the Daily Planet. He had clearly not been human either, at least in body, but everything else about him screamed human. His eyes had been soft, he had spoken to her like a friend, and he held himself with a confidence that came from years of belonging.
Supergirl, on the other hand, for all that she acted just as kind and was just as loved by the people, did not have the same ease about her. Despite all she did to help humans, Supergirl’s apparent ease when interacting with humans had more to do with the fact that she knew that she was more powerful, than her actually feeling like she belonged, or wanting to belong. It was almost as if, despite her power, there was something rooted deep within the young hero that wouldn’t allow her to relax when her alien nature was exposed to the human world.
Sometimes that worried Cat. Clearly, Supergirl had made a conscious decision to help humans, but would that always be the case? Superman saw himself as one of them, he would always try to save them because they were his family. But Supergirl, well, Supergirl’s love of the human world was not as ingrained in her as it was in her male counterpart. Supergirl might, and probably did, have specific humans that she cared about and loved, but she would never see herself as one of them. And where would that leave them, if Supergirl lost her temper, and Cat had no doubt that the hero had a temper, or if the girl decided that someone wasn’t worth saving?
Cat sighed and shook her head, finally moving to pick up her dress. This is where breaking her third rule got her. Part of her felt like she had betrayed Kara by allowing herself to imagine her as Supergirl, but she knew why she had done it. It was that look that she had thought she had seen on Kara’s face. While Cat was afraid of breaking Kara, Supergirl came with a promise that no human would ever break her.
So the question was now, what had she actually seen?
The party had been on a Wednesday evening, it was something Cat insisted on because, if she had to hold the silly events, she was at least going to make sure that everyone had to show up for work the next day, forcing the events to keep to a reasonable time frame. Now, however, she was wishing that she had done the normal thing and scheduled it for a Friday. That would have given her the weekend before she had to see Kara again, a weekend to process what had happened at the party, as well as her own after-party musings.
But no, her own stupid lack of foreshadowing placed her back in the office Thursday morning with her assistant, who was smiling in her typical way, but now, every time Cat looked at her, she couldn’t help but remember the way Kara had looked at her, or the way she thought Kara had looked at her.
Cat spent the rest of that day, and the next, carefully watching her assistant, looking for any sign that that hard look hadn’t been just a fluke. When none came she thought about dropping it, she desperately tried to drop it, but ultimately her resolve only lasted a few hours. She needed to know, Kara was hers, damn it, and she needed to see just what was beyond that smile, even if it meant trespassing over the wall between office and personal once again.
“Kiera!” she yelled, gratified when the woman in question showed up moments later. It was past the end of the workday on Friday, and only she and her young assistant remained in the office.
“Yes, Miss Grant?”
Cat took a moment to survey the other girl, watching for a reaction as she moved closer, coming to stand just on the wrong side of Kara’s personal space.
To her satisfaction, Kara didn’t back away, but a slight flush graced her cheeks as Cat closed the distance and wrapped her hand protectively, possessively, around Kara’s upper arm. With the flush, however, Cat also saw something else, a darkening in the other woman’s eyes that had nothing to do with the lengthening shadows.
Normally when Cat made just such a gesture, it was to assert her claim to a third party, to make sure they knew not to mess with her Kara. But now, alone in the office with just her assistant, her move had nothing to do with anyone else and was entirely focused on the woman in question herself.
“Kiera,” she said again, tightening her grip, and Kara’s response, a slight parting of her lips, and a shift in weight that brought them closer together, even if it was only by a miniscule amount, gave her all the incentive she needed to keep going and finally, completely, broach the wall she had self constructed to keep herself in check around the other woman.
“What you told me, about your parents,” she began, waiting for Kara to draw back, ready to end the conversation quickly if she did. When Kara showed no signs of moving away, or even that Cat was making her uncomfortable, however, Cat continued, “it made me realize that there is a lot I don’t know about you, and that should probably change.”
And there it was, that same look that had come into Kara’s eyes at the party, the hardness that proved that Kara would not be so easily broken or bent, despite whatever pain she had experienced in the past, or whatever would come her way in the future. Cat felt a sudden thrill in response. It hadn’t been her imagination.
“I would like that, Miss Grant,” Kara’s voice was soft, once again lacking its usual nervousness, and Cat could almost hear a second meaning behind the spoken words, “I would like that, Miss Grant. I would like you to want more of me, to take all of me.”
“She knows,” Cat realized with shock. All this time, she had been assuming that Kara was oblivious to her attention, when in reality, Kara had just been waiting for Cat to make a more direct move. What’s more, Kara actually seemed completely comfortable in this situation, as if somehow, having Cat’s hand on her arm, being engulfed in Cat’s possessive attention, made her stronger, not weaker.
“I could pull her close and kiss her right now, and she would let me,” Cat felt her heart beat increase, and, almost as if Kara could hear the change, Kara’s smile took on just a hint of a satisfied grin.
And then Kara was shifting her body again, slipping into a new version of herself that Cat had never seen before as her entire body relaxed, and Cat could feel the muscles under her grip loosen, making her realize just how much tension had been contained in that arm until just a moment ago.
Where normal, office Kiera was jumpy, and hard Kara was full of coiled, unreleased energy, this Kara was unreserved, comfortable, and trusting in a way that was neither blind naivety, nor calculated risk.
“A trust just for me.”
Cat watched as Kara tilted her head to the side slightly, her demeanor and smile taking on a deliciously submissive quality, “just for me,” echoed in Cat’s mind.
But no, she wasn’t ready for this yet, she needed time to process this new information, even as she was unwilling to let the moment pass. Dropping her arm away from Kara, but keeping their close physical proximity, she searched around for a suitable question to ask, something that would begin to help her unravel this new side of her assistant.
“You said Danvers was the name of your foster family, that means it’s not your real name, is it?”
“It’s my legal name, Miss Grant,” Kara responded, and while Kara was still relaxed, she began to shift back into the harder version of herself.
“And your real name?” Cat continued, after it became apparent that Kara was not going to offer it up on her own.
Kara’s response was immediate, “Danvers has been my name for the past ten years.”
Cat saw a flash of surprise cross the younger woman’s face at her own words, at just how quick she had been to offer a non-committal reply, rather than considering giving Cat the truth. Just a moment ago Kara had seemed willing to open herself up completely for the older woman, to lay herself bare, but obviously, there was still something that held her back.
“Now if that will be all, Miss Grant? I need to drop the proofs off with the printing department,” Kara didn’t wait for a dismissal, backtracking, nearly tripping over the arm of the sofa as she did so, and then she was gone.
Cat sighed audibly once Kara was out of earshot, she was glad the other woman had run off, she had come dangerously close to losing control. She had decided to test the waters, yes, but there was a big difference between that, and jumping overboard.
And she apparently wasn’t the only one. However much Kara seemed to think, consciously, that she was ready, the surprise on her face when she had held herself back was enough to tell Cat that the girl obviously had some unconscious issues with the situation.
So now the question was, was Cat going to let her get away? Or was she going to fight for what was hers?
“I ran away from her,” Kara groaned and buried her head in her arms. She was sitting on the roof of CatCo in her Supergirl outfit, listening for any signs of trouble, but her mind was still in that office with Cat.
She had been so sure that she knew what she wanted, that she would give Cat whatever she wanted, as long as it came with the promise that Cat would hold on and never let go. But then Cat had asked her real name, and Kara had surprised herself by refusing.
“Why did I refuse?” she asked herself, “because she’s human?”
No, that wasn’t it. When she was with Cat the lingering tendrils of fear in the back of her mind always went quiet. Even after ten years she still felt that ever-present fear when she was surrounded by humans. Acting as a human herself she could disguise it, cover it up as nervous human nature, but as Supergirl she had no such luxury, and she could feel icy fingers creeping through her mind whenever a human, except for Alex or Cat, looked at her and recognized her for what she was.
It had been hard, at first, working with the government, especially after that time she had woken up strapped down to a table with kryptonite restraints. But Alex was always there, and she forced herself to remember that humans had just as many sides to them as Kryptonians, and just as a member of her race could be good, evil, or gray, so could humans.
Even so, she constantly lived with the fear, and that was what she was afraid of, not Cat. Because Cat made her feel safe, so what had stopped Kara wasn’t the idea that she herself wasn’t safe with Cat, but rather, the idea that Cat might not be safe with her.
Not that Kara had been planning on revealing herself to Cat in any event, she probably wouldn’t have told Cat her real name just because the woman had finally made a move, but Kara hadn’t expected that her refusal would be accompanied by such an immediate, instinctive reaction.
It also wasn’t that she thought that she was physically a danger to Cat, more, that she worried what it would do to Cat, if Cat accepted her, and then Kara lost control. Kara would never hurt Cat, but she had no such illusions that other humans were safe with her.
How would that affect the other woman? To see Kara, or Supergirl like that, filled with all the rage that she kept suppressed, giving into her fear to run, hide, and destroy the humans that threatened her nightmares?
Thinking about the other woman, Kara shifted her focus from the city streets to the office, hearing the shuffling of papers that told her that her boss was still there. Not allowing herself time to think better of if, she pushed herself off the roof, tumbling into an uncontrolled free-fall for several stories before catching herself.
She came to a stop hovering just outside and above Cat’s balcony, watching the other woman work, enjoying the way Cat’s steady heartbeat and breathing instantly brought her a sense of calm.
It took four minutes for Cat to notice her, not that Kara minded the delay. She felt peaceful, here like this, hanging in the sky without any walls to close her in, and knowing that Cat was also safe, also present.
When Cat finally looked up and noticed her, letting out a sharp gasp of surprise, Kara let herself smile, enjoying the way Cat’s eyes took her in, appraising, caring.
Less than ten seconds later the woman in question had joined her outside on the balcony, although Kara was still hovering over it, rather than actually standing on the balcony with Cat.
“Supergirl,” Cat acknowledged, voice even.
And now Kara let the smile fall from her lips, becoming more serious, she needed a question answered.
“Are you afraid of me?”
To her credit, Cat didn’t simply scoff off the question, taking a moment to consider.
“You’ve saved my life several times,” Cat finally broke the silence.
“That’s not what I asked,” Kara responded. She should have known that trying to get a straight answer from a media queen would be difficult. Cat was well aware of the dangerous power of words.
Cat looked her up and down, taking in everything about the alien, her strength, her eyes, the fact that right at that very moment she was flying, and then Cat nodded, coming to a decision about how to handle the situation, about whether or not to answer.
“Come here,” it was a command, and Kara found herself obeying without thought, coming to land within arm's reach of the other woman.
Cat raised an eyebrow as she realized how quickly and easily the hero followed her direction. Clearly, although she was used to being obeyed, she hadn’t realized until this moment that her power extended to Supergirl as well. She didn’t comment on it though, choosing instead to focus on the question at hand.
“You’re different than Superman,” Cat spoke, her eyes searching for any sign that she was wrong, “Superman, for all his DNA differences, is human.”
Kara nodded, not wanting to verbally acknowledge the sentiment and break Cat’s train of thought.
“But you,” and here Cat took a step forward and reached up, stopping her hand just short of Kara’s face, and when Kara made no move to stop her, or back away, Cat slowly let her hand close the distance, lightly tracing its way down the alien’s face.
“You know that you’re not human, and you don’t want to be. Tell me why that is, and I’ll tell you whether or not I’m afraid of you.”
Kara felt the same panic, the need to run that she had felt when Cat had asked for her name just an hour or so earlier, but this time she pushed it aside.
“I’m afraid of humans, Miss Grant,” her tone was steady, and she knew, by the way Cat was looking at her, that the older woman believed her.
“And yet you let me touch you?” Cat’s tone had softened, no longer quite so commanding, but she made no attempt to move her hand away, clearly showing that she was still the one in control.
Kara tilted her face into the touch, closing her eyes and inhaling Cat’s scent, “I’m not afraid of you,” it was almost a whisper, but still loud enough for Cat to hear, if her increased heart rate was any indication.
Opening her eyes again, she knelt, moving slowly so that Cat’s hand never left her face.
“I’m not afraid of you, Miss Grant, but I am afraid of other humans, and someday, that fear may take control. Does that make you fear me?”
Cat stared at the superhero kneeling before her. Her heart was racing, and she knew the other woman could hear it, but whether it was because of Supergirl’s admission, or submission, Cat wasn’t quite sure.
But what she was sure of was that this girl, this vulnerable, powerful, scared girl, was not someone she could ever be afraid of.
Tilting Supergirl’s face up, Cat leaned down slightly and placed a soft, reassuring kiss on the hero’s forehead.
“No, I’m not afraid of you.”
She pulled away to meet Supergirl’s eyes.
There was a look that told her that Supergirl wanted to believe her, but wasn’t able, or willing to completely accept it on face value.
“Maybe you should be,” the hero responded. And then, before Cat could reply, there was a gust of wind and the girl was gone.
Cat closed her eyes, bringing her hand up to rub her temples. Supergirl had given away so much of herself tonight with only a few words. It was a level of trust that Cat didn’t know if she deserved from the other woman, not that she had any intention of breaking that trust, but she had no idea what she had done to earn it.
Supergirl had offered her a trust akin to what Kara had offered…
Cat felt her heart stop. But no, just because she wanted them to be the same… just because they looked at her the same way, seemed to trust her the same way, was it possible?
Something had unnerved Kara earlier that evening. Something had bothered her, and she had run off. And then Supergirl had shown up looking for something, reassurance? Guidance? Hope? And Supergirl had knelt before her, and, just as Cat had wanted to reach out and take Kara, she had felt herself responding unwittingly to the woman in front of her. If they were the same person, well, she knew that if they were the same person she wouldn’t hesitate any longer, even if Kara/Supergirl burned the entire world, Cat would still want her. But if they weren’t, then Cat needed to figure that out as well.
Cat couldn’t allow herself to continue to develop whatever this was with Kara until she figured out if Kara and Supergirl were one in the same. Until she knew for certain, Cat wouldn’t be able to separate them in her mind. Kara was hers, and Cat would only give her up if the girl herself wanted her too, but Cat wasn’t going to give Kara up for anyone else, not even Supergirl. And so until Cat could figure out just where to focus her attentions, she couldn’t move forward. Even knowing that she would choose Kara, however, didn’t change her answer to Supergirl. Just because she wouldn’t love Supergirl in the same way, didn’t mean she didn’t care for her.
Looking out across the sky after the hero, Cat wondered.
“If you are afraid, I’ll catch you,” she whispered, knowing that whether she whispered or shouted, the Kryptonian would hear her.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
“If you are afraid, I’ll catch you.”
Those words had been playing over and over again in Kara’s mind during the past three weeks, and each time she heard them, they brought a smile to her lips. Nothing had happened between the two of them since that night in the office, and, at first Kara had worried that she had given herself away by coming too close in her Supergirl outfit, but while Cat was watching Kara closely, the older woman made no move to question Kara about her identity.
Of course, Cat also hadn’t questioned her about other things either, despite her saying that she wanted to get to know more about Kara, but Kara figured that was probably her fault for running away. And besides, despite the fact that she wanted nothing more than to reveal herself to Cat, she was also still afraid. Afraid that Cat’s words on the balcony had been spoken without foundation, that Cat couldn’t know whether or not she was afraid of Kara until she had been confronted with the truth of what Kara was capable of.
Cat, for her part, still treated Kara the same in the office, which was reassuring. Cat still swept into her life each morning with that air of authority and possessiveness that instantly made Kara feel safe. And even though she seemed to be biding her time, not yet ready to push further in the relationship, that fact that Cat had made no move to backtrack on the existing standard made Kara feel at ease. Sometimes the older woman would look at Kara, when she thought the younger woman wasn’t paying attention, and Kara could almost see the wheels turning in her boss’s head as Cat tried to figure something out, although Kara was unsure of what, exactly, the older woman was looking for.
Once, about a week ago, when the two of them had been working opposite each other on the sofas in Cat’s office, Kara had looked up too suddenly and actually caught Cat in the act. Cat had considered her for a long moment, fully aware that she had been caught staring, and yet completely unapologetic for it. Not that she needed to be, after that night, even if they weren’t talking about it, it was very clear to both of them where they stood, what their relationship was on the brink of. Finally, Cat had let her gaze rove slowly over Kara’s body, knowing that the girl could see her, could read her intentions. By the time Cat’s eyes made it back to Kara’s face, there was a faint blush across the younger woman’s cheeks, her breathing had increased, and Kara knew there was longing in her eyes. Seeing the reaction, Cat had smiled at her, clearly pleased with the response, before simply turning back to her work and continuing as if nothing had happened.
Cat’s voice cut through Kara’s meandering thoughts and reminded her that it was the middle of a Friday workday, and she still had a job to do.
“Yes, Miss Grant?” she asked, entering the office and coming to attention.
“The museum gala is tonight,” Kara nodded. Cat attended every year, it was a fundraiser event that was a must for every member of National City’s elite.
“I’ll be wearing that blue and silver dress, the one I had you pick up from the store last week, do you have anything that matches?”
Kara knew exactly which dress Cat was referring to, she would look lovely in it, not that Cat wouldn’t look lovely in anything. But as Cat’s words sunk in, she couldn’t suppress her surprise.
“Me, Miss Grant? Why do I need something that matches?”
Cat rolled her eyes at the flustered assistant.
“Because you’re going to be accompanying me. It’s high time you learned how to present yourself at these types of events, and I refuse to have my assistant trailing after me in something that clashes. And besides,” and here Cat smiled in that way that told Kara that the older woman knew exactly what her next words would do to her, “after the employee event last month I know you can look good if you try, especially if your outfit happens to match mine.”
“She liked it,” Kara felt a small shiver run through her body at the look in Cat’s eyes, “she liked that I matched with her, that I looked like hers.”
“Kiera,” Cat called her back to the present, and Kara scrambled to stamp down her blush.
“I don’t have anything, but I can run out now and try to find something…” she hoped that Cat wouldn’t be too disappointed that Kara wasn’t instantly ready, but instead, the older woman actually looked pleased.
“No, I’ll have something dropped off. Come here and look at these,” and now she pulled three pieces of paper off of her desk, holding them out and forcing Kara to come closer for a look. Each page had a different, beautiful dress, one that would perfectly compliment the one Cat was planning on wearing. Suddenly, Cat’s pleased attitude made sense.
“She’s glad I don’t have anything, because that means she gets to dress me,” and Kara couldn’t help feeling the same pleasure at the thought.
But that feeling quickly faded as she took in each dress. All three were magnificent, and no doubt cost more than Kara would make in a month, but that wasn’t the main problem. The real problem was that there was no way she could pull off any of these outfits. The first fell off one shoulder while the second and third each revealed different, but both dangerous, levels of back.
Kara felt her face flush again, but this time it wasn’t out of pleasure, but rather, shame. She knew, knew, she had nothing to apologize for, but even so, how could she not feel some level of shame for the state of her body? She wanted to be beautiful for Cat. Even though she acknowledged that her strange scars in a certain light wouldn’t be altogether unpleasing, strictly from an aesthetic standpoint in the same way abstract art could occasionally hold some level of interest, that knowledge didn’t stop her from wishing that she could have the flawless skin that would be beautiful all the time.
Backing away she kept her head down, “I’m sorry Miss Grant, I can’t wear any of those, you should have someone else accompany you tonight.”
At her command, the younger woman stopped her retreat instantly, as Cat knew she would, but she still didn’t look up.
Cat had been planning this evening ever since she had seen Kara’s reaction when the younger woman had caught her staring last week. It was the perfect opportunity to get closer to Kara, and she was not about to let it slip through her fingers without a good reason. The political nature of the function would ensure that, even though it was technically stepping outside the comfort zone of CatCo, it was still entrenched enough in the business world to be safe. The people there would be respectful of the fact that Kara was her assistant, and the two of them would get a trial run, would get to test the limits of how far into personal they could go, while still keeping some level of the safety wall between them.
But now Cat didn’t understand what was wrong. Kara had seemed pleased, not only with the invite, but also with the fact that Cat had acknowledged that she had enjoyed the way Kara had looked when she had worn a matching gown. And the girl had seemed even more pleased with the idea that Cat wanted to do it again, and dress her herself this time.
Maybe it was the money?
“I’m paying for the dress if that’s your problem, I know I don’t pay you enough to afford this on your own, and I am the one insisting that you come to the event, after all,” but Kara was still shaking her head.
Cat took several long steps forward, coming to halt directly in front of her assistant, before reaching out and forcing the girl to look at her, not missing the was Kara’s breathing faltered momentarily when Cat’s hand graced her skin.
“What’s wrong?” she kept her tone commanding, making sure Kara knew she expected an answer, but her eyes and touch were soft.
“I,” Kara stopped, searching for the right words, “I can’t wear any of those, they’re too revealing.”
If it was just that Cat would have laughed, but Cat knew how to read the younger woman, and there was clearly more to the story. So she just waited, knowing that Kara would understand her silence as an order to continue.
“I fell out of a tree when I was younger, it left a rather large scar across my shoulders and back,” Kara said finally, pulling back, out of Cat’s reach and looking away again.
That still wasn’t the whole story, and clearly, the tree aspect of it had been a lie, but, seeing the dejected look on Kara’s face, Cat decided not to push it. Besides, she was more concerned with the unspoken words behind Kara’s confession, the words she knew Kara was thinking.
“I’m sorry I have a scar. You expected me to look a certain way, but I don’t, I can’t be the type of person that wears those dresses, I’m flawed. Do you still want me? Will you still think I’m beautiful if I’m marked?”
Cat responded in her own way, careful that the girl’s fears would be answered in the same, unspoken but clear tone.
“It’s alright, I’ll find you another dress, but this time I’m not going to give you any options. You will wear the one I pick out, do I make myself clear?”
“You don’t have to apologize, I’ll help you hide if you want, but I know, and you don’t have to hide from me. I still want you, I will always want you.”
Kara’s head shot up to look at her, relief and gratitude clearly displayed across her young face.
“Yes Miss Grant, I’ll wear whatever you want, thank you.”
This time when Kara turned to leave Cat didn’t stop her, but she considered what this new information did to her questions about Supergirl’s identity.
Cat had spent the last few weeks carefully observing Kara, and in that time her suspicion only grew. First, there was the fact that she had seen Kara take a hot bowl out of the microwave with her bare hands, without seeming to notice what should be scalding ceramic. Then, there was that time when Kara had removed her glasses to clean them, not only looking exactly like Supergirl, but also, when another employee had come over to deliver something, actually forgetting about the glasses and reading through the document that was handed to her without difficulty. And finally, there was the fact that Kara always seemed to be out running an errand whenever Supergirl was off saving someone during the day.
But could Kryptonians get scars? Cat supposed it was possible, she knew there were ways to hurt the aliens, or it could be from something that occurred on the home planet, before Kara, if she was Supergirl, had gotten her powers. Then again, maybe there wasn’t a scar, and Kryptonians had scales or feathers on their backs, or some other extraterrestrial feature.
Either way, Cat was tired of waiting. If Kara was Supergirl, Cat was just going to have to show her that she wasn’t afraid of her power, and if Kara wasn’t, well, then Cat would find that out as well if she pushed enough to uncover whatever Kara was hiding. She would have to show more of herself in the process, but if Kara gave her her trust, how could she not do the same?
Cat licked her lips unconsciously in anticipation for the evening ahead. She wouldn’t do anything with Kara until she was certain of her identity, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to enjoy herself tonight. But first, she had to make sure Kara looked stunning in a matching gown.
Cat had outdone herself, Kara thought, looking at her reflection in the mirror. She looked nothing like the mousy, awkward assistant, and every bit the sophisticated debutante, someone who deserved to be at the gala.
The dress was, as promised, modest enough to cover her scars, but still fitting enough to retain a sexual allure. Kara had worried slightly, after leaving Cat’s office, that the older woman would pick something that showed too much skin across her chest or abdomen, choosing to favor revealing other areas in place of the original designs, which would be just as problematic for Kara. But this dress had an almost identical cut to the one she had been wearing at the last event, a realization that made Kara smile to herself with the knowledge that Cat had obviously decided to pick something that she knew was in Kara’s comfort zone, factoring the younger woman’s feelings into her decision, for all that she had taken command.
The color, too, was perfect for her, and for Cat. Mostly in the same silver as the secondary color of Cat’s dress, it was a color that would reflect whatever was near, meaning that if she stood next to Cat, the silver would take on the same bluish hues of the older woman’s dress.
The shoes were well thought out as well. Kara could walk in heels, or actually, she knew how to cheat and fly just a fraction of an inch off the ground, giving the allusion that she was walking in them, but Cat had picked a pair of dark blue sandals that only hinted at heels, without adding extra inches. Kara wondered if this was because Cat questioned her ability to balance, or because, if Kara wore flats while Cat wore heels, they would be almost the same height. She suspected it was the later option, and she couldn’t suppress a grin as she thought of how much it must irk the older woman that she was the shorter of the two by a noticeable margin.
Cat hadn’t given her any direction on her hair, but that, at least, was one area that Kara was completely comfortable in. She had developed a myriad of complex way to hold her hair back over the years, and, although she considered letting it just fall loosely around her shoulders, she knew that even with her glasses, that was taking too big of a risk. So instead she spent several minutes plaiting her hair into an intricate braided pattern that would perfectly frame her face, showing off the earrings Cat had given her to put on.
Looking at the beautiful sapphire earrings now, she was glad that Alex had, after weeks of effort, finally convinced her to use her heat vision and a mirror to get her ears pierced all those years ago. It had been a tricky maneuver, but worth it. If she had a matching necklace the look would be complete, but overall, the effect was wonderful and she knew that Cat would be pleased.
Taking one last look at herself Kara prepared to exit the bathroom, but as her hand closed on the doorknob a sudden thought made her stop. Cat would be done changing by now, and probably waiting in her office for Kara to join her, and Kara was pretty sure that if she went in unaware, there was a high chance of her losing the ability to speak. She did not want Cat’s first impression of her in this dress to be one of a gasping fish.
Feeling slightly guilty for cheating, but not enough to stop, Kara shifted her vision to pierce the walls and zero in on her boss, and as Kara felt her knees grow weak, she knew she had made the right decision.
Cat was standing out on the balcony, her back resting lightly against the ledge with a glass of scotch in her hand. The last rays of the sun were falling across her at just the right angle, highlighting her golden hair, and bringing a warm glow to her face. The dress as well, was everything Kara remembered it to be, blue and silver swirling together to create a mystical, mysterious effect, as the low neckline and deep slit up the left thigh gave away just enough to be tantalizing, without truly showing anything.
Taking a deep breath, Kara steadied herself, and went to join the older woman.
“Kara,” the name left her lips as a whispered prayer as the woman in question stepped through the doors, joining Cat on the balcony. If Kara noticed that her boss had said her name correctly for once, she wisely chose not to comment.
Kara looked stunning, and Cat knew that there was no way anyone would see the pair of them tonight and not instantly be aware of just who, exactly, the younger woman belonged to. And looking like that, no one would dare question the fact that Kara had every right to be at Cat’s side. She felt a rush of pleasure at the thought of how many people were going to be jealous of her tonight, and of how completely obvious it would be that none of them stood a chance.
Shifting her gaze from the effect of the dress and hair, Kara’s ability to manage her locks was something that never ceased to amaze her, Cat focused instead on the younger woman’s demeanor. There was that confidence again, and Cat realized it was a confidence that only came out when Kara felt completely secure of her place, completely safe and wanted by the other woman. Kara was stronger this way, and the younger woman knew it, liked it.
Cat was a little disappointed in Kara’s own reaction to seeing her, she had expected an adorable, open-mouthed stare, but she supposed it was perhaps a good thing that Kara was able to hold herself together. And really, Kara’s actual reaction was almost better.
Kara was staring at her, not in shock, but with just a hint of a shy blush and a look of want. It was a look that told Cat that the younger woman wanted her for something beyond just her outward glamour, and, as Kara’s eyes took her in, there was a pleasure there too, a knowledge that the way Cat looked right now was, in part, for Kara’s benefit.
“Yes, Kara,” Cat thought to herself, “you can’t be completely mine unless I’m willing to give myself over as well. Know that, embrace it.”
Pulling herself away from the outer wall of the balcony, Cat placed her now-empty glass on the sill and glided closer to the younger woman, who once again, when faced with the full, intense power of Cat’s attention, showed no sign of backing away.
As she came closer Cat was pleased to see the effect of the two of them together. Kara’s dress was indeed picking up and reflecting Cat’s own, and Cat’s heels placed her on an equal height to the younger woman. The height difference was a constant source of annoyance for her, but at least for tonight, she wouldn’t have to look up at Kara when she stood close, and she was planning on standing very, very close.
Wanting to see the full picture Cat circled around, trailing her hand up Kara’s left arm and across her shoulders, enjoying the way Kara’s body relaxed instantly into the touch. Cat stopped her circuit when she was standing behind the younger woman, stepping closer and bringing her lips right next to her right ear, her hand resting in a light, possessive grip, at the place where Kara’s left shoulder met her neck.
“You look beautiful, Kara,” Cat hadn’t been planning on using her name correctly a second time, but when Kara turned her head slightly and met Cat’s powerful gaze with her own, brilliant smile, Cat knew it had been the right decision.
“Thank you, Miss Grant, so do you,” she responded, and Cat fought hard to keep her own, goofy grin in check. She knew she looked good, there was no reason for her to respond to such a simple complement like a flustered school-girl, but even so, it took much more effort than it should have to hold onto her air of authority and poise.
To distract herself she pulled away, stepping over to her desk and opening the top drawer, pulling out a flat, velvet box.
“It just needs one more thing to complete the look, come here,” Cat spoke, getting herself under control.
She had given Kara the earrings earlier, but she had wanted to see the girl’s reaction when she brought out the necklace.
Cat’s earrings were similar to Kara’s, also sapphires, if a bit more elaborate, but her necklace was a single stone that hung low on her chest on a simple silver chain. It was elegant and classy in just the right way. The necklace she pulled out for Kara, however, was much thicker, comprised of several intertwining silver bands coming together to fasten around an identical stone, and the entire thing would hang much higher on the other girl’s neck. It was almost a collar, it hinted at what it could be, except it wasn’t.
Cat watched Kara’s face carefully for a reaction, enjoying the way the faint flush that had graced Kara’s face from the moment she had stepped onto the balcony deepened by several shades, but not in embarrassment or dislike. It was what Cat had been looking for.
Despite everything that had led up to this moment, of everything she thought she was reading correctly about their situation, if Cat had seen even a moment of hesitation on Kara’s face she would have put the necklace away without a thought.
Kara met her eyes and smiled, taking several more steps forward but making no move to reach for the necklace herself, waiting for Cat to put it on her. Her movements, accompanied by the comfortable lilt to her smile, gave Cat all the further reassurance she needed.
Kara, by showing that she expected, wanted, Cat to put the necklace on her herself, was doing more than just cementing their roles in the relationship. She was also letting Cat know without words that she understood that Cat would never have forced her to wear something like this if she didn’t want to. By taking the initiative and moving forward, reacting first, she was showing Cat that she understood that the older woman had been waiting for her response, before going any further.
With that one gesture, Kara acknowledged the unspoken rule, and Cat was able to relax with the knowledge that Kara truly understood that she wasn’t remotely powerless in the relationship. They both were aware that, while Cat was in control, Kara was the one with the ultimate power. Kara was the one who had the final say in how far she would allow things to go, in what she would allow Cat to do.
Holding Kara’s eyes, Cat picked up the necklace, taking her time situating it on Kara’s neck, and running her hands over the girl’s collarbones. Her hands lingered longer than was strictly necessary, but neither of them minded.
And finally, she was done.
“Perfect,” she whispered, her lips curving up and her eyes appraising Kara with a look full of possessive pride.
For the first time since she had come to earth, Kara felt completely safe when she climbed into the back of the enclosed car.
Cat’s cars had tinted windows, making them feel even smaller and more enclosed than other cars, which normally bothered her, even when she was with the older woman. But tonight, tonight she found that she could breathe easily, each breath allowing her to feel the slightly constricting weight of the necklace, making her feel like Cat was still holding her, even though the other woman wasn’t actually touching her.
Kara didn’t realize she had inadvertently moved closer to the other woman, shifting away from the window, until she felt Cat’s hand close on her own.
“Kiera, it’s alright if you want to sit closer to the window, I won’t be offended, I promise,” her last words suggested a joke, but the searching, slightly worried look in Cat’s eyes told her that the woman was completely serious.
“She noticed that I don’t like small spaces,” Kara realized, smiling, “she’s paid just as much attention to me, as I have to her,” it was an immensely pleasing thought.
Seeing the relaxed smile, Cat raised an eyebrow, some of the worry dissipating.
“I’m fine,” Kara spoke, raising her free hand as she did so and lightly running her hand across the necklace.
“I know no one will hurt me, I know you won’t let them,” remained unspoken between them.
The rest of the car ride was spent in comfortable silence, the only change occurring when they entered a tunnel, the darkness and space closing in around them, causing Kara to feel the edge of her usual fear. Although Kara was sure she made no outward sign, Cat’s hand, which had never left her own, tightened its grip and Kara felt herself immediately relax again. Feeling calmer, Kara increased the pressure of her own grip briefly in silent thanks.
Once they actually got to the party, everything shifted into a blur. Cat, of course, swooped in like she owned the place, and, considering the amount of money she donated regularly to the museum for research purposes, she might as well have.
And Kara was with her at every step. Not once did she falter, or feel overwhelmed, even with the press of bodies around her. She knew to some it might seem like Cat was ignoring her, as the other woman greeted person after person, hardly looking in Kara’s direction, but Kara knew better. Cat was showing her that she knew Kara could keep up, that she didn’t have to coddle the younger woman because she trusted that she could handle this, that she would handle this. And she did.
It was nearly two hours before they got a break in the swarm of people, and Kara was able to allow herself a moment’s breath. The same breath caught in her throat, however, as Cat took advantage of the lull to shoot her assistant a conspiratorial, playful look. Kara had never seen this side of Cat before, she liked it, but she also instinctively braced herself for whatever was about to come next.
Cat jerked her head slightly, telling Kara to follow, knowing that the other woman would, and moments later, Kara found herself being led out of the main hall and down a deserted passageway. Kara remained silent, following Cat obediently down several more hallways, before finally coming to a halt just as Cat stepped over a ‘no trespassing’ sign, and began to advance into the new exhibit that was not supposed to open until the following weekend.
“Miss Grant, I don’t think we’re supposed to be here,” she said, biting her lip nervously, not missing the way the older woman’s eyes focused in on the movement, dilating slightly in response.
Cat took a moment to tear her eyes away from Kara’s lips, refocusing on her eyes, before once again flashing that playful grin. But this time there was something else, a promise that if Kara followed her now, she wouldn’t regret it.
“I’ve invested a lot in this place, Kiera, I just like to see what I’m getting, it’s always good to see what’s underneath, what no one else is allowed to see, don’t you think?” Her eyes took on a distinctly predatory look as she spoke, her insinuation clear.
Kara knew Cat was teasing her, that Cat wasn’t about to do anything too scandalous and risk messing up her appearance, but it still caused a sharp stab of desire in her abdomen. She was glad Cat didn’t have super hearing, the woman looked smug and confident enough already, she didn’t need the added ego boost that hearing Kara’s heart rate spike would give her.
And so, taking a deep breath, she stepped over the barrier, allowing Cat to grab her hand and drag her into the exhibit.
It turned out that Cat did actually want to see the exhibit, and Kara, although she could appreciate the vast collection of Golden Age original print comic books and sketches, found herself more interested in watching the other woman.
At first, Cat had focused on dropping hints about the comic characters and their resemblance to Supergirl, watching Kara for a reaction, making Kara wonder if the older woman did have her suspicions after all. But it soon became apparent that, if Cat was trying to pry, she had planned it this way for a very specific reason. Cat could have just asked her, but no, Cat seemed to be trying to show her that she didn’t expect Kara to reveal all her secrets without getting something in return. And, as Cat dragged her from case to case, professional mask completely gone as she slipped further and further into full blown geek mode, Kara knew that the woman had purposelessly placed herself in a situation that would give Kara insight into Cat’s private life.
Until that moment, Kara never would have used the word, ‘cute,’ to describe the other woman. ‘Beautiful,’ yes, ‘stunning,’ of course, ‘sexy,’ oh most definitely, but ‘cute,’ now that was something new.
A peaceful smile graced Kara’s face as she watched Cat’s animated features, she was so glad Cat felt comfortable enough to show this to her, she doubted there was anyone else in Cat’s life right now, except for Carter, who ever got to see this. Which, come to think of it, explained a lot about Carter’s own interests.
Seeing the amused look, Cat trailed off mid-sentence and scowled, but it full of mirth, “and just what, Keira,” she said, dragging out her pronunciation of the wrong name, “do you think is so amusing?”
Kara shook her head, “I was just thinking how much you remind me of Carter, it’s so obvious that he’s your son.”
Cat’s fake glare faded at the mention of her son, her face softening instantly, and, was that a blush? Cat was clearly pleased with Kara’s observation that she and her son were alike.
And then Kara heard it, a man’s voice asking, “did you cut the cameras?” and another distinctive voice grunting in affirmative response. Someone was using the gala as an opportunity to rob the museum, and Kara had been so caught up in Cat that she hadn’t been listening to her surroundings. And now the men, three of them, she thought, were too close. They would be rounding the corner any second and cutting off not only the only hallway out of there, but also they would enter the final room directly in between the two woman and the fire exit.
Cat was opening her mouth to respond, but there wasn’t time. Kara clamped her hand over Cat’s mouth and practically dragged her behind the final display case, for whatever little cover that could bring.
Cat let out a muffled protest, but Kara hissed in her ear telling her to be quiet, and then the men rounded the corner and Kara felt Cat stiffen in understanding.
“Let them pass, let them pass, let them pass,” Kara silently pleaded, but there was no such luck. The men had clearly picked out this room, there was little chance of them backtracking now.
“There it is, that’s the one we came for,” the largest man spoke, pointing directly to the display case they were hiding behind, and Kara felt her heart sink, there was no way the thieves wouldn’t spot the two women. Cat seemed to know it as well, if the way she was pressing her body back into Kara’s, a pointless attempt to shield the younger woman, was any indication.
Kara narrowed her eyes, taking a brief moment to survey the situation, she would not let anything happen to Cat. Three men, three humans. That meant she couldn’t go all out. Two of them had guns, and the third, the leader who had spoken, had a long, wicked looking knife. But all three of them carried themselves like they relied more on their physical strength than actual fighting skill, and that meant she could take them with the training she had received from Alex without using her super strength, as long as she stayed calm.
She let the lead man get one step closer and then she moved. Pushing Cat down, Kara leapt over her boss and landed a punch on the man’s right temple with only slightly more force than an average human her size could muster. He fell back with a cry and she pushed past him. She had to use the shock of her sudden appearance to take down the other two before they could aim their guns.
A kick knocked the second man’s gun across the room, and she followed it up by ducking inside his guard and hitting him twice, squarely in the jaw. She was turning to the third man before the second even hit the ground.
He had his gun pointed at her now and she dodged the first bullet with an extra burst of speed, not too much, but enough to keep a safe margin, and moments later he joined his fellow thief in the realm of the unconscious.
“Hold it, bitch!” the snarl came from behind her, the first man had recovered. She had known her first blow wouldn’t keep him down for long, but she had assumed he would come after her. Spinning around however, she saw that she had been wrong.
The man was holding Cat, who, to her credit, had given him a split lip that Kara knew she herself was not responsible for, but now he had his knife out and it pressed against Cat’s throat.
Her world stopped.
Kara had fought against people who wanted to hurt Cat before, and she had taken down the other two men without losing control, but in all previous cases, no one had actually managed to land a hand on Cat. No one had touched Cat, except for this man, this human, this monster with a very large knife, and Kara knew what humans with large knives were capable of.
Fear and rage overwhelmed her, and she screamed.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Cat had not been amused when Kara had grabbed her, pushing her into the shadows, even as the reporter part of her brain, the part that was used to cataloguing information for later use, noticed how easily Kara was able to carry out this maneuver. Her sounds of protest were quickly cut short, however, as a moment later she realized what was going on.
When the men started coming closer she had tried to push Kara back into the wall, hide her, anything, as long as it would keep her safe. All her thoughts that Kara might be Supergirl fled from her mind in that moment, because if Kara wasn’t, well, she was not about to let anything happen to the younger woman.
And then, despite Cat’s resolve to protect Kara, it was Kara who was shoving her down and attacking. It happened so fast Cat barely had time for her fear, not for herself, but for the fact that Kara had just jumped three large men, two of whom had guns, before the first gunman fell. Once again that part of her brain that never stopped making notes focused on several facts. The first was that Kara, although obviously a skilled fighter, didn’t seem to be using extra-human strength or speed, and the second was that the girl was calm, processing the fight and reacting well without getting overwhelmed.
That was when her distraction allowed the knife-wielding thug to grab her. She managed to split his lip with a quick elbow jab, but he was much stronger than her, and he had a knife.
“Hold it, bitch!” the man called to Kara just as the second gunman dropped. Cat’s brain worked frantically to find some way out of this situation, even as she tried to keep her breathing shallow to avoid cutting herself on the cold edge of the knife pressed into her skin.
As Kara turned around, Cat felt as if the world stopped spinning between one heartbeat and the next. The calm, rational fighter Cat had seen moments before simply… vanished.
The scream that escaped the young woman’s throat in the next moment wasn’t human, it wasn’t even Kara, not her sweet, caring Kara. The scream was pure emotion, and it was terrifying.
The next thing Cat knew Kara’s image had blurred, and when Cat’s eyes found her again less than a second later the girl was no longer across the room, but inches away. There was a sickening crack and a sharp cry as the arm that had been holding the knife to her throat was snapped easily in half and wrenched away.
Kara’s face, not looking at her, but staring at the last remaining thief, was so close, except, it wasn’t Kara’s face. Kara’s face was never so full of rage, and… fear? The rage was there, yes, but it wasn’t the driving emotion. No, the primary emotion was fear.
“I’m afraid of humans…” echoed in Cat’s head. Cat hadn’t understood just what that had meant at the time, but now she did.
And then there wasn’t time to process anymore because Kara’s hand had closed over the man’s shoulder and the young woman was dragging him away from her boss. Cat watched, frozen, as Kara shoved him into the wall, his head snapping back and hitting the solid surface with resounding force. The man’s eyes rolled up and his body went limp, but Kara wasn’t done.
With another scream she sent the unconscious man flying across the room, smashing through several glass displays, setting off a blaring security alarm.
And she still didn’t stop.
“Kara,” Cat’s voice was pleading, but as Kara flew across the room after the man she gave no notice that she had heard Cat’s voice.
“Kara,” Cat tried again making her voice softer, trying to call Kara back to her, even as Kara lifted the man, dangling him one-handed and pulling back her other fist. It wasn’t working.
Cat’s desperate eyes landed on the necklace that still adorned Kara’s neck.
“Kara, stop!” she threw everything she had into the command, every ounce of emotion, every assuredness that Kara was hers, that Kara would obey.
And Kara did.
Slowly, Kara turned her head to focus on Cat, her fist still raised, the man still hanging limply from her hand. But she had stopped. Kara’s face was awash with fear and anger, but Cat could see a hint of her Kara underneath that hadn’t been there a moment before, her Kara that had responded to her call.
“Put him down,” she ordered, thankful that years of personifying the Queen of All Media had taught her how to keep her voice steady, even when the world around her wasn’t.
“This human touched you,” Kara’s voice was low, and where Cat’s voice had been collected, Kara’s was uneven, unhinged.
A small, primal part of Cat wanted to pull back and run, but instead she drew herself up to her full height.
“Put. Him. Down.” She said again, enunciating each word and taking a step forward, asserting herself as the one in control.
Kara stared at her for another long moment, and then dropped him, lowering her fist, but her eyes were still lost in a torrent of chaos.
“Well, that wasn’t as gentle as I had hoped,” Cat thought, hearing the solid thud as the man hit the ground, but at least he was no longer in immediate danger.
Cat took several more steps towards the flying woman, seeing a little bit of her softer Kara come back into the girls eyes with each step.
And then Kara’s head jerked to the side, what little calm had returned falling away as her eyes focusing on the hallway, her hands balling into fists again.
“She hears the security team coming to respond to the alarm,” Cat realized.
“Go!” she yelled, pointing to the fire exit. When Kara hesitated she added, “it’s just security coming, I’m safe, you protected me, now go, I’ll be right behind you!”
And Kara was gone. Cat calculated, knowing the layout of the building, that she had about 45 seconds before the security team arrived. She used the time to check the knife-man’s pulse, breathing a sigh of relief when she felt it, weak, but there. Then, casting around, she hurriedly picked up her small clutch purse, Kara hadn’t brought one, and the girl’s glasses, which had fallen off during the fight. Checking one last time for any other signs that the two of them had been there, aside from the crumpled bodies, she made a hasty retreat for the same fire exit. She didn’t want to be there when the security team arrived either.
The museum was stationed along the waterfront and the specific emergency exit let out along the beach. It only took a moment for Cat to locate Kara, seeing an angry energy burst off in the distance. She hopped Kara would keep her lasers in check to avoid alerting anyone else. Hurriedly kicking off her shoes, transferring them to her hand to better maneuver in the sand, and then used her free hand to shove Kara’s glasses into her purse and pull out her phone, before setting off towards the light, towards Kara.
It only took a few seconds to pull up Alex’s number, and Cat was glad she had had the forethought to look it up and add it to her phone when this whole thing with Kara started, just in case.
“Hello,” slight confusion, Alex obviously wouldn’t recognize her number, but the voice was still strong and commanding.
“This is Cat Grant, your sister and I were attending an event at the museum and got into a bit of trouble. Kara may have gotten a little angry,” she heard a sharp intake of breath, but didn’t give the other woman time to interrupt.
“Everything is fine, your sister is fine, no one is dead, but I think you should get over here. Oh, and considering you are her sister, I’m sure you have some sort of emergency contact for whatever government agency she works with, there might be some damage control, so take care of that, will you?”
But Cat didn’t wait for Alex to say any more, the woman would probably just drown her in questions, and then tell her to stay away from Kara and wait for her to arrive. She, however, was Cat Grant, and she was not about to wait around for someone else to collect her superhero.
Deciding that she was far enough away from the building exit by now for any stray objects to escape easy notice, she dropped her shoes, purse, and phone, which had started ringing as Alex tried to call her back, and increased her pace.
After a minute or so of hard walking she began to slow, the events of the last few minutes finally sinking in, and her resolve from just a minute before, to go and collect Kara, wavered.
Kara had been… Cat had known Kara had secrets, had even been prepared for her to be Supergirl, and, after that night on the balcony, she had even been prepared for the alien to have a darker side. But thinking about it could never have prepared her for the reality of seeing Kara so lost.
What had set the girl off? She had been in control, and it wasn’t like this was the first time Cat had been in danger and Supergirl had saved her, so what was different? It had to be more than just the recent changes, the progression in their relationship.
“This human touched you,” Cat flinched slightly as she remembered the specific way Kara had said the word ‘human,’ the way the girl's voice had broken into a growl. But it gave her the answer. In previous incidents Kara had always been fast enough to save her before anyone actually came in contact. But this time someone had actually touched Cat, had held a knife to her throat.
And then there was the fact that Kara’s reaction had seemed so instinctual. When she had fought Livewire, it was a former-human who was trying to hurt Cat, yes, but Livewire’s DNA had changed, and Cat supposed, the woman’s smell had probably been altered, if not other things like her heart rhythm and breath pattern. Fighting Livewire wasn’t like fighting a human, because, with Kara’s increased senses, Livewire wasn’t human anymore, and so subconsciously whatever ingrained fear Kara had of humans hadn’t been triggered.
“So why isn’t she afraid of me?” Cat asked herself. She was human, but if Kara had been alone, or if it had been someone else in danger, Cat knew the alien would have remained in control. It was seeing Cat in danger that had sent her over the edge.
“Why am I special?”
“Because, because I see her as mine. Because she knows that I won’t let anyone else touch her, won’t let anyone take her away from me. Because she knows that I will stop at nothing to find her. Because I promised her that I wasn’t afraid of her.”
And Cat realized that even after seeing Kara so out of control, she still wasn’t afraid of the younger woman. There was worry, apprehension, yes, but it was directed at the situation, not the girl herself.
“I make Kara feel safe.”
Cat had never made anyone feel safe before. Well, Carter, maybe, but he was her son, that was different. Even her ex-husband had been, and still was, a little afraid of her. But with Kara, it was more than just a passive feeling, more than just Kara not being afraid. No, Kara was actively drawing strength from Cat, and that was not something Cat could abandon lightly.
It took about five minutes to reach Kara, Supergirl, but that was more than enough time to contemplate what had just happened, to decide that it didn’t matter, and that it didn’t change how she felt about the younger woman. And when Cat drew close, she couldn’t help but notice that Kara was beautiful even like this, her glasses gone and her hair was flowing freely around her shoulders. She was gorgeous, even when scared and angry, “but not alone,” Cat added.
“Stay away from me,” Kara yelled at her, not looking at Cat, but not running away either.
“No,” Cat slowed her pace, but did not come to a stop.
Kara whirled away from her, another energy blast from her eyes shooting over the water as an angry scream passed her lips.
Cat took another step.
“You have to stay away!” Kara half turned back, her voice shaking, but quieter now.
“No,” another step.
“At least until I calm down,” Cat could hear a sob threaten to break through.
“No,” Cat said again, coming closer still, although Kara still wouldn’t look at her.
“Stay away,” it was a plea, but it sounded so lost, so alone, Cat knew Kara didn’t mean it.
“No, Kara,” and now she was only a few feet away, and she could see that Kara’s fists were still tightly clenched, her jaw set as she battled to control her anger and fear, her entire body trembling.
She took another step and as she did so, she held out her hands, unthreateningly, trying to seem unimposing, knowing that even if Kara didn’t look up at her, the girl could still see her in her peripheral vision. And that was a mistake, she realized too late as Kara drew back, nearly tripping over her dress as she pulled away.
Her reaction made Cat pause and she halted her advance to consider. Kara hadn’t responded to soft, Kara didn’t need soft. Kara needed to know that Cat was there for her, that Cat would be there to catch her when her fear threatened to tear her apart.
“How do you catch a superhero?” she asked, and knew instantly it was the wrong question.
“How do I catch my Kara?”
Because Kara never seemed stronger than when she felt safe, and while Cat’s very presence could do that to a calm Kara, this Kara, this bundle of simmering, emotional energy, needed something more. And what made Kara feel safe, more than anything else, was knowing that she belonged to Cat, that Cat would protect her jealously and never let her go. Kara hadn’t responded to Cat’s soft pleas to stop inside the museum, no, she had responded to Cat’s commands, trusting Cat to guide her when she could no longer guide herself.
And so Cat shifted her attitude, wrapping her authority around herself and advancing, her complete attention on Kara, and only her Kara. In three swift steps she closed the distance and reached up with her right hand, wrapping it in Kara’s hair and giving a sharp tug, pulling Kara’s face down and crashing their lips together in one powerful, controlling movement.
Cat put everything she had into the kiss, tightening her grip on Kara’s hair and using her free hand to pull the younger woman closer, her nails digging into Kara’s waist.
“I won’t let you go, you’re mine!”
Kara couldn’t hear the words, but she didn’t have to, Cat made sure the kiss said everything. She let out a low growl and bit Kara’s lip, making the woman gasp, and used the opportunity to deepen the kiss, instantly claiming dominance despite Kara’s superior height and physical power.
She didn’t let go until she felt Kara stop trembling, until she felt the woman relax and start to come back to herself. Together, the two of them sank down to the sand, not caring about what the grit was doing to the expense gowns.
Pulling Kara into her, Cat held the woman in a tight grip as Kara buried her face in Cat’s neck, her hands clutching Cat’s dress, holding her close.
“You came for me,” Kara’s voice was muffled, but Cat could just make it out.
Pulling back slightly, Cat lifted Kara’s chin, forcing the younger woman to look into her eyes.
“Of course I did, I will always come for you, I’m not afraid of you, Kara,” and now this time, where Supergirl hadn’t quite believed her before, this time, Cat could see the beginnings of an acceptance in the woman’s eyes.
“Did I-” Kara looked away briefly, gathering herself, “did I kill him?”
“No, I stopped you. You were afraid and I caught you, just like I said I would,” Cat smoothed Kara’s hair back, stroking her face in the process.
And now, finally, the remaining tension faded from Kara’s body and she let herself go. Huge, racking sobs overtook her, and Cat held on, running her hands over every inch of Kara she could reach, soothing the girl, and possessing her all at the same time.
The emotional extremes had taken their toll, however, and within minutes Kara’s sobs faded, her heart rate and breathing evened out, and before Cat knew it, Kara had relaxed into complete unconsciousness.
Cat continued to stroke her, knowing that she couldn’t move even if she wanted to, that Kara’s grip on her dress was too strong for anyone to break.
“You got her to calm down,” there was wonder in the voice, disbelief, and Cat’s head snapped up, taking in the sight of Alex Danvers, Agent Alex Danvers.
Not willing to let the other woman know she had taken Cat by surprise, Cat instinctively resorted to her usual, snarky tactics.
“I see you were the emergency government contact,” she nodded to at the gun and badge strapped to Alex’s waist. She very much doubted that the woman actually belonged to whichever agency the badge was for, but shadowy government alien groups probably had badges to every branch of government with even a modicum of authority.
“I assume your minions are taking care of,” she tilted her head back towards the museum before continuing after a slight pause, “things…” she let her voice trail off, letting the word hang there.
Alex ignored her, coming closer and kneeling next to the entangled women, her eyes fixed on her sister.
“You got her to calm down…” Alex said again, her voice barely a whisper.
Cat rolled her eyes, “Yes, I believe we’ve already established that fact. Now I expect-”
Cat stopped as Alex’s face came close enough for her to finally get a good look at the other woman. There was a shadow on her face that came from years of growing up with Kara, of being the one to talk the other woman down from her fear. Alex knew exactly what Kara was capable of, and, unlike Cat, Alex knew what was behind Kara’s fear.
Alex’s hands, those same hands that had confidently wrapped around Kara and distracted Cat just a few weeks ago, were now shaking as she reached for the younger woman.
“You’re ok, Kara, I’ve got you,” Alex was saying. Her words made Cat want to hiss and slap her hands away. Cat had Kara, not Alex, but Cat forced herself to remain calm, now was not the time.
Alex lightly brushed Kara’s hair away so she could get a better look at her sister’s face, to check for lines, or any signs of distress. The clouds choose just that moment to shift away from the full moon, casting a beam of light that landed on the group of women, revealing the full effect of Cat and Kara’s attire.
Instantly, the relief and concern in Alex’s eyes hardened as she got a good look at her sister and her boss. With Kara wrapped in Cat’s arms and the blue moonlight bringing the full, reflective qualities of Kara’s dress into focus, it was almost impossible to tell where one woman ended and the other began. And, with her hair swept away from her face, the necklace clasped tightly around the younger woman’s throat sparkled darkly, drawing dangerous attention to itself.
Alex shifted her attention from her sister to the older woman and Cat was met with a harsh, angry glare. Cat’s resolve to keep her calm fled in the light of that accusatory gaze. She felt herself stiffen, one hand moving to wrap itself instinctually in Kara’s hair, the other to grasp the girl’s left wrist, holding her closer.
“What did you do to her,” Alex snarled, clearly wanting to pull Kara away, but unwilling to shake her sister.
Cat felt her own lips draw up a snarl of their own, but before she could respond, Kara shifted in her arms, snapping the attention of both women back to her, their personal issues with each other temporarily forgotten, though far from resolved.
Cat felt a slight pang of jealousy as Kara called the other woman’s name first, not missing the way the woman in question shot her a quick, triumphant stare, before returning her focus to the younger woman.
“I’m here, Kara, don’t worry,” Kara was sitting up now, pulling away from Cat as she reached for her sister, allowing the woman to wrap her into a hug.
“I messed up Alex, I-”
“Shhh… It’s ok, Hank is taking care of it, you stopped yourself, everything is all right,” Alex was stroking Kara’s hair now, and Cat fought the urge to pull the girl back to her. Alex was Kara’s sister, she knew more about what was going on than Cat did, and right now, the priority was Kara, not Cat’s need to hold her.
“But I didn’t,” Kara was saying, and now she turned back to Cat, “I didn’t stop myself.”
Shifting her body back, Kara half curled herself into Cat’s side, reaching up to lightly brush Cat’s face. It was the first time Kara had initiated any physical contact between them, and despite the situation, Cat felt a bolt of warmth shoot through her.
“Thank you,” Kara spoke, her voice so full of the gentle, caring spirit that Cat associated with her assistant, that Cat felt tears of relief prickle at the corners of her eyes. Not that she would let them fall, especially not in front of the older sister.
“My Kara is back, she came back to me, I brought her back,” she couldn’t stop herself from reaching to clasp Kara’s hand in her own, holding it to her face, and smiling back at the younger woman.
Behind Kara, Cat saw Alex’s eyes widen in shock at the revelation that, not only had Cat managed to calm Kara down, but that she had also been able to control her at the moment when Kara was the most lost.
“Kara, you need to get out of here,” Alex pulled herself together, interrupting the moment and standing up.
Kara drew her hand away scrambling to follow her sister to her feet, and Cat pulled herself up as well, ignoring the protest in her legs that had fallen asleep under Kara’s weight. There was no way she was going to be the only one left sitting on the ground. It was bad enough that these women were both taller than her, she was not about to let the height difference become even more prevalent.
“Right, yes,” Kara was saying, “we need to get back to the driver, make a normal exit…”
“No, Kara,” Alex interrupted, “you should leave now. We have the area locked down, but it would be best if you didn’t come back the same way, just in case someone manages to get through and take a few photos. Even without your costume, someone who looks like you, talking to government personal, right after something has obviously gone down, it just wouldn’t be good.”
“I can’t just-” but this time it was Cat who cut her off.
“Your sister is right. It’s best if you leave now,” seeing Kara sag slightly she added, “I’m sure Agent Danvers here will see that I get back safe and sound, and besides,” here she slipped back into boss mode, knowing it would help relax the situation, “your dress is covered in sand and your hair is a mess, I can’t have anyone taking a picture of my assistant like this, even if it is still marginally better than your usual attire, Kiera.”
Her words were undercut by the fact that Cat was in only slightly better shape, appearance wise, but the normalcy of the gripe regarding Kara’s clothing choices let the younger woman know that it was ok to relax and follow directions.
Nodding at Alex and shooting a soft smile at Cat, Kara started to take a step away, but paused midway through the movement.
“Alex? Could you give us a moment?” she said, shifting back to stand in front of her boss. Alex huffed slightly but moved off, giving them the appearance of relative privacy, even though she was clearly still close enough to listen in and keep an eye on the situation.
Cat watched as Kara took a moment to center herself, looking at her hands, before finally, raising her head to meet Cat’s eyes.
“Miss Grant, about tonight, about how I get when I lose control,” she trailed off, struggling to find the right words.
Cat reached for her, gripping Kara’s hands in a reassuring hold, stopping their nervous movement, “it’s ok Kara, you don’t have to-”
But Kara was shaking her head, “yes, yes I do, because you need to know something.”
The look in Kara’s eyes told her that this was serious, it was the hard look, the one she was beginning to associate with the version of Kara that had been tempered into someone strong, someone dangerous.
“Carter he, he smells like you,” Kara’s eyes were searching, imploring Cat to understand. “Carter smells like you, and so even if I- if something happens and I’m not me, I will instinctually react differently to him than I will to other humans. Your son will never be in danger from me, ever.”
It took a moment but as Kara’s words sunk in, Cat realized that she had still had some lingering shadow of apprehension, some last doubts about the other woman. Those doubts had settled as a tightness in her chest, a constriction she hadn’t even realized had still been there, but that was now dissipating as she met the gaze of this beautiful, remarkable girl. She knew it showed on her face because the hard edge in Kara’s eyes began to relax, and the smile that emerged in response to Cat’s own, silent acceptance and belief, was the happy, earnest smile that Cat knew she would never grow tired of seeing.
“Thank you,” this time it was her turn to voice those words, words she rarely ever allowed herself to say to anyone.
Kara made as if to leave again, but once more she pulled herself back.
“Cat?” Cat raised an eyebrow at the use of her first name, giving Kara a reprimanding look even as her traitorous heart beat faster.
Kara’s smile widened.
“Damn it,” Cat had forgotten about the super hearing. She suppressed a groan as she realized just how many times she had seen that same grin in response to just such a situation, how many times Kara had heard her heart race for the younger woman. Cat was going to have to invest in some serious meditation techniques and put a stop to that, and soon.
“It’s Zor-El, by the way,” seeing Cat’s confusion, Kara continued on in a rush, “my name, it’s Kara Zor-El, in case you were still interested,” she let it hang there, a faint blush coming to color her cheeks.
Cat responded by pulling Kara in for a second kiss, not as harsh as the first, but still demanding and full of promise.
“My Kara Zor-El,” once again the unspoken words hung between them, waiting and wanting for the moment when they could come to fruition.
“Come see me tomorrow, I’ll leave a window open,” it was breaking her second rule, but she didn’t think her rules applied to Kara anymore.
Kara flashed her her brightest smile as she stepped back, and then, just like that night on the balcony, she was gone.
“I wasn’t aware you were trying to develop laser vision as well, Agent Danvers,” Cat remarked, not needing to turn around to feel the heated glare of the other woman on her back, “although considering the fact that I’m still standing here, I guess you are not as talented as your sister.”
Turning to meet the gaze head on, she continued, not willing to back down, “might I suggest the gun? It’s probably more accessible for someone of your… limited abilities,” she ended with a dry smirk.
The two women continued to stare at each other for several long moments, and despite herself, Cat actually found that she was moderately impressed with the other woman. Not many people could meet her stare, let alone return it in equal measure. Alex seemed to be coming to a similar realization, and she finally broke the silence, not admitting defeat by any sense of the word, but calling a temporary truce.
“We should get going, one of my agents will bring you home,” she said, jerking her head back toward the museum.
“I’m sure my own driver will be just fine,” Cat was unwilling to make it seem like she needed this woman’s help or protection.
“Oh, he’s been dismissed. We weren’t sure if we were going to need to bring you in, so we thought it best to send him away. Fewer witnesses to your disappearance, you understand,” the words were accompanied by a small smirk, clearly Alex had enjoyed that last thought.
“Am I to take it by this admission that that plan of action is no longer on the table?” Cat wasn’t going to gratify the threat by acting concerned, but that didn’t mean she could just ignore it.
Alex just shrugged noncommittally and began to walk back the way they had come. Cat quickly caught up, walking at her side, she wasn’t about to traipse after the agent like some lackey.
“One moment,” Cat halted their progress several minutes later as the neared the museum, pausing to look around for her dropped items. Spotting them off in the distance she moved to collect them, but as she turned back she caught a glimpse of Alex, not glaring at her exactly, but looking at her in a concerned, contemplating fashion.
“Oh screw it,” Cat thought, they both clearly cared a great deal about Kara, and she was the interloper here. She could grow up and at least attempt to be somewhat civil.
“I won’t tell anyone, you know,” Alex looked at her sharply, taking in Cat’s open gaze, “Kara’s identity is safe with me, but I’m assuming that you already came to that conclusion, considering we are well within range of your other agents at this point, and you haven’t made a move to carry out your earlier threat.”
Cat watched, not without some level of amusement, at the emotions warring across the other woman’s face, a battle between anger, resentment, and aggressive protectiveness, before finally Alex let out a heavy sigh, closing her eyes briefly and looking away.
When she looked back up, Cat saw that a clear change had come over her. She still very much disliked Cat, that much was obvious, but there was something else, an almost wary consideration.
“Why should I let you do this, why should I let you have her?”
Cat arched an eyebrow, “I wasn’t aware that you had that power,” Alex growled slightly and shifted her stance forward, but Cat held up a hand to stop her. “Aside from shooting me or making me disappear, I mean,” the statement seemed to appease the agent somewhat, although her gaze was still harsh.
“What I mean to say is,” Cat considered her words carefully, “Kara is perfectly capable of making her own decisions. You could no more stop me from taking her, than I could take anything from her she wasn’t willing to give, we both know that, so stop pretending like this is all on me. Kara is strong, Kara is-”
“I know that!” Cat was taken aback by the sudden yell, “you think I don’t know that? God! After everything there’s no way Kara should still be able to smile like that, like she did just before she flew off! She got so scared that she almost killed a man this evening, and yet, somehow, somehow she has the strength to pull herself back from the brink,” Alex’s words had been coming out in a fast, frantic rant, but now finally she slowed, taking a breath, and looked at Cat without open hostility for the first time.
“Kara has no reason to be as good as she is, she defies logic, just as easily as she does gravity. Even when she gets lost in her fear, she can still wake up, she can still fight past it and want to help, to be better.” Alex shook her head, “but you can see that too, can’t you? You looked at her, confronted her fear, and guided her through, didn’t you? You had faith that she was waiting on the other side?” It was a rhetorical question and Cat made no move to respond, letting Alex work through it on her own.
“That’s the real reason I’m not bringing you in. Because you see her, and you believe in her, and Kara, well, Kara deserves to have people like that in her life. People who not only can protect her, when she can’t protect herself, but people who can take away that fear. Kara deserves not to be afraid.”
“I make Kara feel safe,” Cat felt a certain pride as she spoke those words, “we both do.”
Moving closer to Alex, Cat placed her hand on the younger woman’s shoulder.
“I swear to you, I do not take that lightly. I don’t know why Kara is so afraid of humans, but I will do everything in my power to hold back that fear, not to protect us from her, but very simply, to protect Kara, and everything that makes her shine so brightly.”
It was the right thing to say, and Alex accepted it with a nod. Cat started to draw her hand away, but Alex caught it, holding it firmly to keep the older woman there.
“One last thing, and don’t think this means I approve, because I still don’t like you, but I need to know that you can handle seeing Kara afraid, that you won’t reject her once you do,” Alex sounded protective again, but there was a pleading lilt in her tone as well.
“I thought that I just proved that I could,” despite Alex’s clear intent to protect Kara, Cat couldn’t stop her anger at the insinuation that she would turn her back on the girl, her girl.
“No, you saw Kara when she was afraid, but did you ever for one second, one brief moment, think that that fear was directed at you?” Alex’s grip on her hand was getting painful.
“She’s not afraid of me, we’ve been over this,” Cat pulled her hand away.
“No, this is important!” Alex reached for her again, closing her hand around Cat’s arm in a vice-like grip.
“Kara gets nightmares, and when she does… she… she won’t hurt you, you don’t have to worry about that. She learned how to shut her powers down when she sleeps years ago, just for this reason, to make sure she wouldn’t hurt me when I would come to wake her up, but…”
“But she won’t recognize me, is that what you’re trying to say?” Cat suddenly felt a cold that had nothing to do with the night air or the breeze coming off the water.
Alex nodded miserably, “there is a very good reason she is afraid of humans, Cat, and when she dreams about it, she’ll wake up frozen, still caught in the dream where she is unable to move, and she won’t see you, she’ll see a human. And Kara will be terrified of you. It won’t last long, five seconds at most, but it will happen over and over again, and each time, each time it will rip you apart. So you need to promise me that you can handle it. Kara won’t break, she’s proven that over and over again. But will you?”
Cat closed her eyes, trying to picture it. She could still see the fear on Kara’s face, she would never forget that look, but Alex had been right, she had never felt like it was directed at her. So much of what she had with Kara had started because she had been impressed that the younger girl hadn’t shown any obvious fear towards her. Now, she knew that probably hadn’t always been the case. In the beginning Kara must have been afraid of her, but only in that was that she was afraid of humans in general, and never to the extent that she had let it control her or become obvious.
So what would that do to Cat? To see that same level of intense, overwhelming fear from earlier that night all directed at her? She wanted to say she would be fine, but would she? She honestly didn’t know.
“I won’t give up on her, I promise you that,” it was the best she could do, the best she could hope for, and Alex knew it.
With a slow nod, Alex finally released her hold.
“I’d better get you home. Kara will never forgive me if I keep you out too late and you get sick before your date tomorrow,” it was an attempt to break the serious mood, although Alex probably hadn’t intended it to cause the wave of panic that swept through Cat’s mind at the words.
“Come see me tomorrow, I’ll leave a window open.”
It had seemed so natural to say at the time, but now… Kara. Kara in her home. Kara in her home during Carter’s weekend away with his dad. Kara in her home which had so many, many surfaces, not the least of which was her very wonderful, big bed with its Egyptian sheets…
And Kara in her home wearing that cape because Cat just had to go and say to come in the window, not the door, and how else was the girl going to get to a penthouse window?
Come to think of it, maybe Alex had said that with the intention of causing exactly this panicked reaction. Cat glared at the taller woman’s back, the truce was off.
Cat had come for her. Kara had lost herself and Cat had still come.
Cat had seen her, and Cat still wasn’t afraid.
That man had been afraid of her. She had seen it in the moment before she broke his arm, the moment when he looked into her eyes and saw her madness. That’s how people were supposed to react to her, at one point in her life, she had even wanted them to react that way, because that proved that they were just as scared of her as she was of them.
When she had first escaped she had spent a long time wanting to make humans fear her. She couldn’t banish her own fear, her own weakness, so she wanted to push it onto the very people who had made her this way to begin with. She wanted them to understand how painful it was to have your mind on the brink of collapse, to know that you weren’t in control of yourself, that no one was.
But things were different now. It had started with Alex, of course. Alex who was so strong and kind and present, Alex who had refused to be afraid.
A few months after Kara had come to live with the Danvers, Alex had taken her to the local aquarium. She had done it after hours to avoid the crowds, probably breaking a few laws to get them in there, but Alex had been determined and resourceful even then. She had led the younger girl directly to the largest tank on prominent display in the center hall, the tank that, during normal operating hours would have been thronged with people.
That was when Kara had realized that Alex was doing everything she could not to look at the tank directly, that the older girl’s heart rate had sped up and her breath had gotten shorter and more halted with each step she took. Finally, Alex had stopped just a few feet away from the glass, and, taking a shuttering breath, she had looked up, searching until her eyes found what she was looking for. At the time Kara hadn’t been able to identify the creature, but now she knew it had been a shark, a tiger shark to be specific.
Alex had stared at the creature, transfixed as it swum closer, frozen, her heart racing and her breath…
“She’s not breathing,” Kara had realized, and she had acted on instinct, moving for the first time towards a human not because she had to, but because she wanted to.
She had pulled Alex away, turning her so the tank was no longer in sight, actually lifting her and carrying her into the outer hall. And when Alex had wrapped her arms around the younger girl, Kara had forgotten to flinch back at the contact, too concerned to remember to be afraid.
“Thank you, Kara,” Alex had whispered, her voice still shaky, but at least she was breathing again.
“I wanted you to see that, to see what I look like when I’m afraid.”
“Why? I know what fear is.”
“Yes, but now you know what it looks like on me. Now you’ll be able to recognize it on my face, and no matter what happens, I promise you that you will never see me react that way towards you.”
Alex had never broken that promise.
That had been the turning point for Kara, but the trip had done more than Alex could possibly have predicted. Thinking about the experience later that night, she had realized something. Alex had been afraid, and she, Kara, had helped her. The way Alex had looked at her when she pulled her away, a look full of gratitude and relief, that look was something that made her feel better, if only for a moment. That night Kara had realized that she didn’t want Alex to feel afraid of her, ever, that there were enough things in this world, on any world, to cause fear, and she didn’t want to be one of them.
It was a long time before that feeling spread to include more humans, but eventually it did. That night was what had started her journey towards becoming Supergirl.
Kara smiled at the memory as she spun lazily in the outer atmosphere. She hadn’t gone home, Alex had just said to leave, not to go anywhere specific, and, despite the fact that Kara was back in control now, she still wasn’t quite ready to be in a city surrounded by people, so she had come here.
Her smile faded, however, as she remembered the reason she had called up the memory in the first place. No matter how things had turned out, her actions tonight had been…
“I wanted to kill him.”
It all came down to that, the fact that she was capable of such a feeling, because, no matter how many steps forward she took, when she was in crisis, her first instinct was always to lash out, to hurt before this world could hurt her. She had promised herself when she took up the cape that she would be better, but tonight she had failed that promise.
“Would I have cared?”
She was glad that she hadn’t killed him, but she didn’t know, couldn’t know, how she would feel if Cat hadn’t stopped her. She was capable of feeling remorse; she had felt it during the earthquake when she hadn’t been able to save that woman on the street, but, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t feel bad for hurting that man.
Because he had touched Cat and he might have killed her if Kara hadn’t reacted. And that, far more than her overreaction, was what mattered to her the most, even in her now calm state.
So no, Kara couldn’t be sure that she would have felt remorse if she had killed him.
“But Cat would have cared, so would Alex,” and maybe that was enough.
Kara spun around one more time, taking in the view of the stars above her, before turning and heading back to Earth. She had been dealing with the ramifications of her fear for a long time now, one evening staring at the stars wasn’t going to solve anything, and at least she wouldn’t have to worry about nightmares for the next couple of nights. She only needed to sleep once every three days or so, not that she couldn’t sleep more, and often did, but it wasn’t really necessary for her to function. She had slept eight hours the night before and that, coupled with the nap brought on by emotional, rather than physical exhaustion, would be enough to carry her over for a few more days, at least long enough for the events of the evening to fade slightly.
She landed somewhat clumsily in her apartment, flying without a cape certainly did make things more difficult. She would have to wear her costume tomorrow when she visited Cat, she didn’t want to make a mistake and crash through her boss’s wall, instead of the promised window.
“I’m seeing Cat tomorrow, well, today actually…” it was now well past midnight.
She didn’t have time to dwell on how she felt about that, however, as a pillow suddenly smacked into her face.
“You took your time getting back, I almost started eating without you,” the teasing voice of her sister followed the projectile, making Kara smile, instantly at ease. Alex always knew just what to do, not ignoring what had happened, but moving past it, helping Kara return to relative normalcy.
Kara took a brief moment to look around her apartment. Alex had turned on all the lights, opened every single window, and every door except for the one leading out to the building hallway. Even the closets had been thrown open, for whatever little extra space they could offer. Her apartment wasn’t small exactly, not in a way that normally bothered her, but tonight Alex had known that she would want to feel as open and free as possible. It was why she knew Alex wouldn’t worry when she didn’t come home right away, because Alex always knew just what to do, just what she needed.
Grinning, Kara’s eyes fell on the boxes of take-out, at least twelve options from three different restaurants. She could worry about everything else later, right now there was a mountain of food, a season’s worth of Person of Interest episodes saved on her DVR, and her sister.
Cat stared at the open window, daring it to be anything less than perfect. This was the fifth one she had tried this morning, ok, actually it was the second and fifth, but who was counting?
The living room alone had six options, the drawing room, another four, the den, even more, and then there were the windows that let into her bedroom, which were absolutely not available options. Why did she live in an apartment with so many windows anyway, whose brilliant idea had that been? She should have been able to predict that she’d eventually entrap a woman who could fly, I mean, she was the most powerful woman in National City after all, who else was a superhero supposed to turn too?
Sighing, Cat slammed window number five closed. Someone observing the scene might question if the action required quite so much force, but, yes, it did. The window knew what it had done.
The rest of the morning and afternoon passed in a similar fashion as her thoughts kept focusing on the smaller details to avoid thinking about just what, exactly, she was going to do when Kara actually arrived. It didn’t help that she had no idea what time Kara was coming, not that she doubted the girl would come, but it meant that she didn’t have any solid point of reference to focus on.
The problem could easily be fixed, she knew. A quick text would tell the girl precisely what time to arrive, and could even solve the window issue by redirecting her to the door, but that felt a little too much like admitting that she had not been entirely in control of her mental faculties when she had made the invitation, an admission that would be unacceptable. And besides, she really did like that cape.
Cat was now staring at her twelfth window, also options one and seven. It was a large window off of the living room, clearly big enough for Kara to get through without any problems. Situated second from the left it also had good placement, not boxed into a corner, but neither front and center, which would feel like she was making too big of a deal out of letting someone into her home. It was a good option, but then again, they had all been good options.
She was just considering switching to the second from the right instead when her phone rang. Checking her watch she realized that it was already 6:30pm, the time she was scheduled to talk to Carter. She insisted on setting up scheduled phone calls with her son every time he went away. His father was likely to either ignore him completely, or jump into one of his ‘father-of-the-year’ phases, where he dragged the boy around to crowed movie theaters, arcades, and wherever else the man assumed a young boy would like to go, completely ignoring the fact that this particular boy would like none of those things. So Cat set up specific times for calls, not that Carter couldn’t call her at any point, but these times ensured that her son had some stable, scheduled event to help him sort through the chaos that was time with his father.
The call wasn’t long, maybe ten minutes tops, but it helped to calm Cat down. Talking to her son was always something that she gave her complete attention too, and so, for the first time that day, or since she had gotten home the night before, really, she forgot about the damn windows. Cat smiled happily to herself as Carter said goodbye, and the call ended. She finally felt like she could relax and wait for Kara to arrive at her own time.
During the call she had wandered into Carter’s room, she liked to be surrounded by his things when talking to him if she couldn’t be with him herself, but now she made her way back towards the living room.
And stopped short because there, standing perfectly still in profile, her eyes closed and a small, relaxed smile grazing her lips, was Kara.
For all that she had been thinking about the cape, now Cat barely saw it, her entire focus taken up by the way Kara’s hair was framing her face, the serene expression that made her look at once exceptionally beautiful, and so young, so free of worry. Cat knew that last part wasn’t true, but she liked the idea that being here, being in a place that was so obviously Cat, could put that expression on the woman’s face.
Cat started moving again and the girl turned to face her, eyes opening and smile widening into a full-blown Kara smile. Cat felt a smile of her own instantly rise up in return.
“I brought you something,” as Kara spoke she held out her right hand, which was cradled around a small pot. The pot itself was rather plain, but the flower, Cat didn’t know much about flowers, but she knew enough to recognize this one. Almost a year ago the Daily Planet had won a bid over CatCo to send a reporter on an expedition to track down just this very flower, the Lucia orchid, named after the title character in a Donizetti opera. The flower had gotten some recent hype when the man who had initially discovered it passed away prematurely. It was an incredibly rare species, not hard to take care of once you had one, but still almost impossible to find. While Cat normally wouldn’t have cared about the thing, Lois Lane had called her and made a bid deal over the fact that she, Lois, was such an intrepid reporter, going on an expedition into the wilderness while all Cat could do was stay at her desk.
The story had ended happily enough. Lois had spent three miserable weeks trekking around swamplands in South America looking for the thing, coming back with foot rot and more mosquito bites than any person had a right to have, and to top it all off, she hadn’t found the flower and the piece had been a wash.
Cat had been on a high from those events for days, something Kara had obviously remembered.
And now she had one of her own, something Lois had tried and failed to obtain. And while Lois had traipsed around in the mud for days looking, Cat had had one personally collected for her by a superhero, if the spattering of mud on Kara’s cape was to be believed. A superhero had flown around the world, located one with whatever special vision, or smell she had, and somehow managed to get it back without damaging it. All for her. It made Cat feel so incredibly powerful in just the right way.
Kara was looking at her anxiously, and Cat realized she still hadn’t said anything.
“Kara…” she stepped closer, stalked closer.
“Yes, Miss Grant?” Kara was blushing now, and it was so very adorable.
“Back to Miss Grant, now, are we?” She raised an eyebrow, not halting her advance until she was right in front of the younger woman, one hand closing over the pot, the other wrapping around Kara’s wrist.
Cat cut her off, “it’s beautiful Kara,” but she wasn’t looking at the plant, her eyes were firmly focused on the woman in front of her. She didn’t look down, preferring to hold the eye contact, as she moved the plant from Kara’s hand, placing in on the side table just to her left.
Her hand that was around Kara’s wrist tightened and she gave a sharp tug, pulling Kara closer and enjoying the way Kara’s eyes dilated and her breath hitched in response.
“Kara,” she said again, knowing that her voice was low and full of promise. And then she was reaching out and wrapping her free hand around Kara’s neck, pulling the girl in for a kiss.
She hadn’t meant it to go quite like this. She hadn’t made plans, exactly, but she hadn’t meant for things to go this way right off the bat. But now that Kara was here, in her private space, looking that beautiful and adorable, Cat couldn’t let her go.
Running her tongue over Kara’s lips, the girl responded instantly, allowing Cat to deepen the kiss. It wasn’t enough, she needed to be closer.
There was a wall just a few feet behind Kara, and Cat directed the girl back, pushing her until she could shove Kara into the wall, pinning her in place and allowing her to press their bodies even more closely together.
Cat nipped at Kara’s lip, a shiver running through her as she heard a low moan escape from the younger woman in response. She wanted, no, needed, to hear more of those sounds. But not here. She was going to take her time. There would be other times, future times, when she could take Kara against a wall, or over her desk, or wherever else struck her fancy. And those times could be rushed and frenzied, but not this time. This time she was going to go slow so she could process every inch of Kara, absorb every moment of the girl giving herself to Cat.
And so she pulled away, ignoring Kara’s slight sound of protest, and started down the hall towards her bedroom, giving the girl a meaningful look over her shoulder. She didn’t have to say anything, she knew Kara would follow.
Kara did indeed follow, but as Cat crossed her room, ignoring the light switch next to the door and reaching instead for the one by the bed, a decision designed to draw Kara deeper into the room, the girl’s voice stopped her.
“Wait, leave it off, please?” Kara’s voice seemed small, unsure, and Cat was instantly on alert, feeling her protective instinct go into overdrive.
Kara wasn’t looking at her, but rather, staring at her floor in between them, and Cat hated that, but she paused her hand over the light switch all the same.
“It’s more than just one scar, with the lights on…” and now Kara’s entire body was pulling in on itself, her shoulders hunched and her arms wrapped around her stomach.
“Look at me,” Kara glanced up, and then away again just as quickly.
“Look at me, Kara,” Cat said again, her tone making it clear that she expected to be obeyed.
Kara looked up tentatively, and Cat held her gaze, making sure the girl wasn’t going to look away again, before very deliberately flipping the switch.
“Come here,” she watched as Kara eyes flicking nervously just once the overhead light, before landing back on the older woman, taking in the expectation and desire that Cat knew was visible on her face. Still Kara hesitated, but Cat waited, knowing the girl would give in to her command eventually. One moment, two, and then Kara moved, coming to a halt just a little further away than Cat would have liked, but still within arms distance.
Cat reached for her, tangling her right hand in Kara’s hair as her left came to rest on Kara’s hip, fingers brushing over the seam in the girl’s costume.
“You are mine, Kara, do you understand what that means?”
Kara nodded her head, but her hands were still wrapped around her body, hiding it away.
“I don’t think you do,” Cat moved her left hand up, grasping Kara’s lower arm, but making no move to pull it out of the way.
“It means,” she elaborated, tightening her grip in Kara’s hair, “that there is no part of you that I don’t want. I am a very possessive woman, Kara, and once I have something, I don’t let go. You don’t need to hide from me, Kara, because I don’t want just one part of you, I want everything.”
Kara didn’t speak, her face not giving anything away, but Cat felt her arms relax slightly, and, with a little bit of pressure, they fell to her side.
“Good girl,” Cat smiled, rewarding Kara with a kiss.
Kara’s hands moved to wrap around Cat’s waist, but Cat pulled back before she could get too distracted.
Moving slowly, in case Kara started to draw back again, Cat carefully undid the clasps of the cape, letting it fall away, before reaching for the hem of Kara’s top, slightly relieved when Kara lifted her arms so Cat could slide the material over the girl’s head. Cat held eye contact with Kara as she did this, only breaking away for the short interval where the material cut off her view. She wanted Kara to see her look at her, to see that Cat still wanted her, whatever scars she had.
She reached out to touch the girl with one hand first, splaying her fingers out along Kara’s stomach, feeling a sharp intake of breath at the contact, enjoying the way the muscles jumped and shuddered at her touch. Cat gave Kara a moment to get used to the feeling of her hand on her, and then, only then, did she look down.
Kara had been telling the truth. It was more than just one scar.
It took everything Cat had not to react, not in disgust, but in anger. Blue lines formed intricate patterns across Kara’s body, scars upon scars covered her abdomen, her chest, and, Cat was sure, although she couldn’t see it from this angle, her back. There were too many of them, and they were too precise, to be anything but deliberate.
Someone had spent a great deal of time hurting Kara, marking her, and yet despite that, Kara was still immensely beautiful.
Pushing past her anger, Cat focused on that. Kara didn’t need her to be upset right now, Kara needed her to be the woman who wanted her.
Cat moved her other hand to join the first, brushing against Kara’s skin, before looking up to once again meet Kara’s eyes, eyes that were unsure and questioning.
“Perfect,” she echoed her words of the previous evening, allowing her smile to take on a distinctly predatory gleam, even as her hands moved along Kara’s body, one hand ghosting over her bra, enjoying the way the nipple hardened instantly, even though the fabric.
Kara moved then, taking a brief moment of initiative to pull Cat into a kiss, unable to express her gratitude at the acceptance any other way.
Cat allowed it, a few seconds for Kara to find her grounding, and then Cat pushed her back, once more in charge. Cat didn’t pull away completely, she kept one hand on the girl, but she gave herself enough distance to circle around, one complete circuit as Kara waited patiently, and then a half circuit, stopping only when she was directly behind the younger woman. The scars did indeed continue over her back, and, although Cat wouldn’t have though it was possible, there were even more of them here than on her front.
Now that she was out of Kara’s eyesight, she didn’t think even Kara could see backwards, Cat allowed herself a few seconds of anger. Her face contorted into a silent mask of fury.
“I fell out of a tree when I was younger,” more like the tree had pushed Kara out, over and over again.
Cat wanted to scream, to bring the full force of her empire down on whoever had done this to Kara. But no, right now the present was far more important than the past.
Smoothing aside her anger, at least for the now, Cat returned her attention to the situation, the fact that at this very moment a superhero was half naked in her bedroom, waiting for her to take charge.
From behind, Cat pushed on Kara’s shoulders, silently maneuvering the woman to her knees. From this angle Cat could look down at her easily, could enjoy the sight of this powerful woman, still in her skirt and boots, looking so completely open to Cat, her eyes closing in pleasure as the older woman ran one hand through Kara’s hair, the other gripping the girl’s neck, holding her in place.
“Have you done this before?” Cat asked, already knowing the answer, but needing confirmation, which she received when Kara shook her head.
“I’m not going to be gentle,” it wasn’t so much a warning, as a simple statement of fact. At her words, Kara’s eyes shot open and she tilted her head back. The angle looked uncomfortable, but Cat wasn’t going to move around to make it any easier.
The thrill Cat had gotten from every moment up to now was nothing compared to what she felt when Kara looked at her now, her eyes so full of challenge.
“You can’t break me, Cat,” her first name, spoken with just the right amount of defiance, “no human is strong enough for that.”
This time when Kara spoke the word, ‘human,’ it wasn’t with the hateful, fearful, intonation that Cat had heard yesterday, no, now Kara spoke the word as an insult, slightly playful, but clearly intended to goad Cat into taking a firmer hand.
And just as with the many times before, Cat could almost hear the words underneath.
“Let me prove to you that I am still strong. If you are gentle, I’ll know you don’t think I can take it. So don’t be gentle. Don’t you dare be gentle.”
Cat’s smiled widened, her eyes sparkling dangerously. She loved a challenge.
“I guess we won’t need a safe word, then. Now get on the bed.”***
Cat opened her eyes, had she blacked out? She was on her back, sprawled out on the bed.
“How did I get like this?” she wondered, but, seeing a very smug Kara looking down at her, she remembered, “oh, that’s how…”
“Now get on the bed.”
Cat hadn’t restrained herself, hadn’t tempered her action with any of the consideration she would normally give to her other partners. When she bit down on Kara’s shoulders, her breasts, her thighs, when she ran her nails across Kara’s skin, she hadn’t held anything back. Kara would know if she had. And in response, Kara had given her everything, responding to her so completely that Cat knew, knew, that the younger woman couldn’t see anything other than her.
And so she had given Kara a reward, pulling off her own underwear, the last remaining piece of clothing between them, and positioning herself above the younger woman. Her expectations hadn’t been high, she had been expecting to enjoy herself because of who she was with, not because of any particular skill, but what Kara lacked in experience, she more than made up for in creativity.
Cat had started to realize her miscalculation the moment Kara’s hands had come up to grasp her hips, holding her in place, and suddenly, her own hand that was holding onto the headboard for support and balance, became completely superfluous.
Cat hadn’t really experienced Kara’s strength before. Seen it, yes, but never felt it directly on her body in such a purposeful way. Kara was always so ready to allow Cat to move her to her will, to comply with whatever Cat did to her, even when Kara had moved her aside in the museum, she hadn’t really been using too much strength. But now, now Kara’s hands were supporting Cat, and Cat realized that while she had been knowledgeable about Kara’s power, knowing the facts of something and experiencing it were completely different. And comprehending that, feeling all that power being directed at her, for her, controlled by her, Cat had almost come before Kara’s mouth even touched her.
But then Kara had touched her, the first swipe of her tongue tentative, slow, but Cat had moaned in response, already so close, and Kara had changed. Her next stroke had been more confident, more sure, and when her teeth scraped across the small bundle of nerves at Cat’s center, the older woman had cried out. It hadn’t taken much more, and when she had come so soon after that, she had been ready to refocus on Kara, but Kara hadn’t been done. No, that was when Kara had gotten creative.
Before Cat had even come down from her orgasm, Kara’s mouth had set to work again, but this time her tongue had been icy cold even as her lips were still warm. The mixed sensations were almost enough to carry Cat directly over into a second orgasm, but Kara had pulled back, not wanting it to be over too quickly.
“No teasing,” Cat had hissed, one hand in Kara’s hair, forcing her to return to her task.
And Kara had complied, as she always did, employing her skills to do things to Cat that no human could ever hope to replicate. So lost was she, that Cat didn’t even notice when Kara shifted them slightly, lifting Cat just enough for the girl to slide one hand in between them. All she had felt had been those warm lips, the cold breath, two fingers entering her, moving with exactly the right rhythm, and then… then Kara had done something with her fingers and Cat had screamed her name.
And blacked out.
That was how she had ended up here, on her back with a very happy superhero looking down at her.
“Kiera,” she tried to make her tone annoyed, using the wrong name to reassert herself, “that last thing, what…?”
She couldn’t bring herself to say it, couldn’t quite make herself form the words that would openly admit how easily the girl had made her come apart.
“I may have a vibrate setting, Miss Grant.”
No, no, no, no, no.
Super hearing that could tell when Cat was flustered, flying and whatnot that let her bring Cat rare, exotic flowers, icy breath that she had apparently gotten quite a bit of control over since the initial disaster at the docks, all of those Cat could deal with. But a vibrate setting?
Oh, she wasn’t upset, not really, and her mind was already coming up with all sorts of possibilities for later use, but right now she really needed to wipe the smug look off the alien’s face.
Ok, scratch that. She needed a few minutes. As soon as she could move her body again, then she was going to wipe that smug look off the alien’s face. The most she could do at the moment was glare, and even that lost its effect because for some reason that she couldn’t fathom, while her eyes were doing their job correctly, her mouth had a stupid grin that she couldn’t seem to get rid of.
Seeing her dilemma, Kara’s smile widened, but she wisely chose not to speak, instead opting to curl her body into Cat’s side, her head resting on the woman’s shoulder, allowing Cat to wrap an arm, about the only part of her body that could move, around Kara’s waist.
“Well, this isn’t so bad,” it was a minor consolation.
They stayed like that in silence for several minutes, just enjoying the feel of each other, and Cat used the opportunity to really consider Kara’s scars.
She hadn’t done that yet. She had looked at them, obviously, but she had avoided paying specific attention. She knew that scars, human scars, at least, often resulted in a loss of feeling, so she had tried to focus on what unmarked skin she could find. Not because she was put off by the scars, but simply because she wanted Kara to feel her.
But now that they had a moment of rest Cat felt her eyes drawn to the strange blue lines. She wouldn’t have known they were scars if Kara hadn’t told her. Actually, she probably would have assumed they were some sort of naturally occurring Kryptonian marking. But knowing that they were scars, Cat couldn’t help but wonder just what had happened to the young woman at her side.
Her eyes were drawn to one scar in particular. It started on Kara’s right side and continued across to the middle of her stomach, ending at her sternum. It seemed a little wider than the others.
Cat began absently tracing it with her fingers, not really realizing what she was doing until her nail scrapped the skin and Kara let out a short gasp.
“Kara, I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” Cat snatched her hand away, her eyes moving from the scar up to Kara’s face in concern, Kara’s eyes were closed and her lips slightly parted.
“No, don’t st-” Kara started to say, but stopped when she opened her eyes and saw the look of concern on Cat’s face.
Reaching up, Kara ran a hand along Cat’s jaw, reassuring her.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore, I promise. It’s just that the scars are more sensitive, opposite of human biology I know, but I feel it more when you touch me there, you didn’t hurt me.”
Cat searched her eyes, looking for any hint that she was lying to make the older woman feel better, and found none.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, her concern fading, “I was trying to avoid them, thinking you wouldn’t be able to feel much…” Cat trailed off. She didn’t need to see the flash of shame in Kara’s eyes, or feel the way the girl pulled back slightly to know the answer.
Kara hadn’t wanted to ask, even with Cat’s assurances, Kara still felt like her scars were a deterrent.
“It’s ok,” Cat brushed a hand across Kara’s face, pulling Kara back to her, “I know now, I won’t avoid them next time.”
Kara relaxed again, but she didn’t offer a response.
Now that the topic had been broached, however, Cat couldn’t just let it drop.
“Kara,” should she ask? Did she have a right to?
Kara knew what she wanted, however, Kara was always so good at reading her. So before Cat could form the rest of her question, Kara was already speaking.
“Do you know that I’m actually older than Superman, older that you?” Kara started, her eyes were closed again, remembering. Cat knew better that to interrupt, even as this new information was a shock to her.
“Just before Krypton exploded my parents put me in a shuttle to Earth at the same time that my uncle was putting Superman into his. You were right about him, though, about him seeming more human. He was just a baby, only a few days old. He has no memory of Krypton, everything he knows he either learned from the data that was sent with him, or from me.”
“My parents died in an explosion,” there was suddenly so much more to that statement. It wasn’t just Kara’s parents that had died, it had been her entire world, all her friends, most of her family, and every other person she had ever met up to that point.
“You were fourteen,” Cat couldn’t stop herself, not meaning to interrupt, but unable to hold back.
Kara made no show that she had heard, her eyes still closed.
“I watched it, you know. I watched the explosion, I saw my world burn,” a single tear escaped and Cat moved her hand to wipe it away, but she left her hand on Kara’s face, gently stroking the girl, ready for the next tears to fall.
“Superman’s rocket left first, a few minutes before mine, and he arrived on Earth on time. My ship was still too close, though, when my world died. The blast knocked me off course into the Phantom Zone, an area of space where time is frozen. I was there for about 24 years before my shuttle got free. I was supposed to be here to protect my cousin, but I got here too late, I just didn’t know it at the time.”
Now Kara shifted slightly, pressing herself further into Cat, needing the support for whatever was coming next.
“I was actually thirteen, not fourteen, when I arrived. I went to live with the Danvers when I was fourteen, just like I told you before, but at first… I was captured as soon as I landed. Superman had already made a name for himself, and the government wanted to know more about his powers, to see if there was a way to replicate them, but obviously Superman was way too powerful for them to catch and run tests on. Even though they had kryptonite, there was too big of a chance that something would go wrong. And then I showed up. I was thirteen and nobody knew I existed. They could do whatever they wanted to me because they had kryptonite to keep me under control, and they could reduce the amount and expose me to artificial sunlight so I would heal faster and they could keep running their tests.”
Kara stopped here, but Cat knew she wasn’t done, knowing Kara needed a moment as the memories washed over her. Cat hated the way Kara’s face changed, even as the girl made no move to pull away, her face was drawn, almost, helpless.
“I was there for a year, but eventually the guards got complacent and I escaped. That’s when Superman found me.”
Logically, Cat knew that Superman was not at fault, but logic didn’t always matter. And here, now, hearing the reason for those scars, Cat couldn’t help but feel that the other superhero should have done something, should have known, from whatever data he had had with him, that another rocket was coming, that he needed to be on the watch for a lost thirteen-year-old.
Kara’s voice broke through Cat’s thoughts as the girl continued, “that’s why I’m afraid of humans. I landed here and I was just a child, a child who had just lost everything. I try so hard to see the good in people, in humans, but sometimes, sometimes I just get so scared, and I’m back there. When I saw that knife at your throat… knives hurt, Cat, I didn’t want you to experience that.”
Another tear escaped and Cat wiped it away again, seeing Kara’s eyes open as her thumb lightly brushed across her cheekbone.
“When I escaped I killed five people. I don’t even feel bad about that, even now, ten years later. I know I should, but I don’t.”
Blue eyes met hers and Cat knew Kara was looking for something, a reprimand, maybe? For Cat to pull away at the realization that Kara had killed people? She couldn’t give that response, she was glad they were dead.
“Good,” Cat was slightly surprised at the amount of venom in her voice. She was against capital punishment in general, but right now she couldn’t find it in herself to be remotely upset at the idea that five of the people who had hurt her Kara had died. She doubted that, even years from now, that thought would ever bother her.
Realizing that she could move again, Cat rolled them over so that she was straddling the younger (or older?) woman. She wasn’t going to let these memories haunt Kara. She knew she didn’t have the power to stop them completely, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t try.
Kara stared up at her, and Cat puzzled to make out the expression on her face. There was sadness, pain, yes, but also something else. Was Kara… happy? In this moment, here with her, even after relaying such things, was Kara still happy? Cat needed to bring that happiness to the forefront.
She ran her index finger over the scar that had originally caught her attention, noticing how Kara reacted instantly to her touch, eyes dilating and lips parting slightly.
“How did you get this scar?” Cat asked, her voice steady.
“They pulled out three of my ribs, they wanted to see how quickly I could regrow entire bones,” Kara’s words were painful, but her expression, as Cat touched her, told a different story.
Her words also made sense, it was why the scar was thicker, they must have stretched the skin to get at the bones. But it wasn’t the answer Cat had been looking for.
She ran her hand across the scar again, this time dragging her nail along it, rather than just the pad of her finger. The response was even better and Cat watched in fascination as Kara arched into her, her hair spread out around her face, her expression awash with desire.
“How did you get this?” Cat asked again.
Kara’s face shifted slightly into one of confusion, but she started to answer again, “my ribs-”
“No,” Cat cut her off, “how did you get this?” she repeated her earlier maneuver a third time, adding slightly more pressure, enough that, had Kara been human, Cat would have broken the skin leaving a different, but still present, mark.
And this time, as she watched Kara’s eyes widen in realization, she knew she was going to get the correct response.
“You, Cat, I got it from you.”
Cat rewarded her with a bruising kiss, leaning down to capture those lips, even as her hand shifted to trace over another scar that ran along the underside of Kara’s left breast, eliciting a sharp cry from the woman underneath her.
Cat pulled away from the kiss, “I am going to remake the history of each and every one of these scars, Kara,” she dug her nails into a scar on Kara’s upper thigh, “I am going to change how you think about them,” she moved her head this time, biting down on Kara’s shoulder, letting her teeth graze over one of the blue lines, before shifting slightly and running her tongue over another. The response from the girl was amazing.
Pulling up so that she could look into Kara’s eyes, Cat continued, “I am going to make every part of your body, every mark, mine. Do you understand me?”
She returned her hand to the first scar, once again racking her nails across it.
“Cat, please,” Kara reached for her, but Cat knocked her hands away, pinning them down next to her head, and giving her a look that clearly told the girl that she was not allowed to move.
Cat grinned down at her prey, and then descended. If Cat had thought Kara was responsive before, it was nothing compared to now.
The last thing she said to Kara, before the girl came completely undone, was “Mine,” uttered with such assuredness, such conviction, that Kara had no choice but to comply.
“Sir?” General Lane looked up, meeting the eyes of a nervous young soldier. He considered the boy for a moment, having recruited him personally, it would reflect badly on him if the boy, Sergeant Howards, wasn’t up to the task.
“You said you wanted to be notified of any unusual activity regarding the alien, Supergirl, sir?”
That got the general’s attention, he pushed aside the papers he had been staring at and gave his full attention to the sergeant. Sensing the change in tone, the young man squared his shoulders, continuing on with more confidence. Yes, that was what General Lane wanted to see.
“We have reports that she went crazy and attacked a couple of people at a museum event last night. The DEO is covering it up from everyone else, but our source in the agency confirmed that she almost killed a man.”
The general fought to keep the smile off his face, this was exactly what he had been hoping for, but the young man was still a little too green for the truth. No, he needed to be gently nudged in the right direction. A few more years and he would be solid, but now a little softer touch was in order.
“You’ve done very well by bringing this to my attention, sergeant, this is exactly what I was afraid of,” he nodded his head gravely as he spoke, every appearance of the concerned, caring father figure.
“Sir? You were expecting something like this? Supergirl seems so…” the boy trailed off with an expressive wave of his hand.
“I hoped it wouldn’t, but I was prepared for this to happen, yes,” he shook his head slightly, as if deeply disappointed, “Supergirl is a little different from Superman. She looks younger, yes, but that’s only because she was frozen in space for a period of time. Unlike Superman, who grew up on Earth, Supergirl was already a teenager when she arrived. Supergirl watched her world die.”
“That’s horrible, sir,” this man was so easy to read, so easy to manipulate. It’s why General Lane had wanted him.
“It is, son. Can you imagine what that does to a person? Watching everything you know and love be consumed by fire in an instant? I had hoped for so long that her time growing up with a human family would be enough to help her adjust, to heal her, but that was a false hope. In reality, I knew it was only a matter of time before her sanity began to falter.” The sergeant didn’t need to know about the other things that had happened to the girl after she had arrived on Earth, contributing to her instability.
“But she’s a hero, sir, we have to help her!”
“Of course, I have every intention of doing so. She’s a deeply troubled young woman, but she has also done so much for us humans, we can’t turn our back on her now that she is the one in crisis.”
“So what do we do? Should we contact the DEO?”
“No,” shaking his head the general continued, “unfortunately, the DEO has a blind spot when it comes to Supergirl. If we are to have any hope of truly doing her any good, we can’t let them interfere. It will be painful for all the people of National City, yes, but she deserves our help, even if we have to make her disappear to do so. You’re a smart boy, you understand that, don’t you?”
Preening under the complement, the boy was his to command, “of course I do sir, but might I ask, how are we going to help her?”
“How do you help anybody? You bring them to a hospital and run tests on them until you know what’s wrong, and how to fix it.”
It was brilliant. Really, he should be thanking those imbeciles who had let the girl escape all those years ago. Technology at that point hadn’t been ready to understand her, it was why all their tests had come up empty, giving them nothing that could help them develop a super soldier. But now, now he had faith that his scientists, if given unlimited access to her, could run tests that would yield wondrous results. If she hadn’t escaped when she did he had no doubt that she would have been dead by the time technology was ready, which is why he owed those dead agents a debt of gratitude, both the five that the girl had killed, and the rest that he had ordered shot afterwards for reasons of national security.
No one had been willing to green-light the recapture of Supergirl after the details of her situation had been made apparent, but he knew that he had allies in the shadows who thought as he did, that the negativity of one girl’s sacrifice was far outweighed by the potential benefits. He had just needed something, an incident that he could use to convince the ruling parties that the girl was dangerous, that she was beyond saving. Supergirl’s recapture was no longer simply a matter of advancing military prowess, now it was also a matter of protecting humanity from the dangers of Supergirl herself. It would have been better if she had actually killed someone, but he could work with the situation as it was.
“I think that’s just wonderful, sir,” the sergeant was grinning, proud to be included is this top-secret operation to ‘save’ a hero.
“Thank you, sergeant, I’m glad to have a bright young man like you serving at my side. We may not get the glory of superheroes, but you and I together are going to accomplish something great.”
It would take time to put a viable plan into action, but he had waited ten years to get her back, a few more months hardly mattered.
He was going to remake military warfare, one super soldier at a time.
Three months later
“You have two voicemails. First message, received one week ago: ‘Cat, I-, just, thank you, I-’” the message trailed off into static.
“Press one to save this message, press two to delete this message… Thank you, you have chosen to save this message, it will continue to be stored on the cloud. Second message, received today: ‘Kitty, dear, this is your mother. I just wanted to call and check in with you, I told you that young assistant of yours would run off on you, I did try to warn you that she was just using you. You really need to develop better tas-”
The message never got the chance to finish as the phone was flung across the room, shattering against the wall.
***Important Note: I am not advocating for the idea that people should not have safe words. I really struggled with whether or not to leave this line in, or alter it to give them a safe word, but ultimately, I decided that I wanted to use this as a way for Cat to show Kara that she believes in her, believes that she is strong. Additionally, not having a safe word does not mean that there is no option to say no, it is just one way to help facilitate a clearer boundary. But again, this is a fictional story with a super powered character, so for all of us regular humans out there, please be responsible and have a safe word, especially if you enjoy rougher sex.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Kara hadn’t slept at all over the past two nights. It had been five days since the incident at the museum, and she had spent that time sleeping as little as possible, just giving herself enough rest to continue to function without her lack of sleep becoming too apparent. The nightmares, which, in recent years had reduced in frequency, normally occurring only once every couple of weeks, had returned in full force, haunting her each and every time she closed her eyes.
She would have to sleep tonight, however, and she was not looking forward to it.
Despite her exhaustion, Kara couldn’t help but perk up at the sound of her name, even the wrong name, especially the wrong name when it was said by that woman.
After their evening together Kara had spent the night with her head on Cat’s chest, not sleeping herself, but enjoying the way Cat’s arms felt around her body, the way one of Cat’s hands eventually found its way into her hair, the tight grip keeping Kara in place. Not that she couldn’t have pulled away if she had wanted to, but she didn’t want to.
She had almost drifted off by mistake at one point, it was hard to stay awake when she felt so comfortable, so completely relaxed in Cat’s arms. But Cat had saved her by shifting, not much, but enough that her free hand, the one not tangled in Kara’s hair, had brushed over a scar on her lower back. The sensation had sent a shiver through her body, and, while not nearly as overpowering as when Cat had been awake, had been doing that deliberately, it was still enough to remind Kara why she needed to stay awake. She didn’t want her first night with Cat to end with a nightmare.
And Cat had been… well, Cat have been everything. Kara had seen Cat’s anger over her scars, the reason for them, despite the other woman’s efforts to keep that part of her reaction hidden. But Kara knew Cat too well, knew every facial tick, every expression that would have been unreadable to someone else. And Kara had seen the moment in Cat’s eyes when the older woman decided that she wasn’t going to hold back.
Most people, when learning about a story like hers, would match their anger with pity, would draw back to avoid hurting her any more. But Cat had seen her, truly seen her. She had accepted Kara’s challenge and conquered it.
And that was even before Cat had touched her, claimed her.
“How did you get this scar?”
“You, Cat, I got it from you.”
It couldn’t keep the nightmares at bay, couldn’t actually change anything that had happened to her, but Kara knew that she would never see her body the same way again. The shame that had been with her for so many years, while not gone, had shifted slightly. Now, along with that feeling, there was the spark of a new emotion, pride. Pride that Cat Grant, beautiful, brilliant, unbelievable Cat Grant wanted her, wanted Kara with such overwhelming passion that she wanted to mark the younger woman, ensure that Kara would be eternally hers.
And Kara was.
They hadn’t had a night together since then, Carter had come home and Kara had left before he arrived, but, while she longed to be back in Cat’s arms, she didn’t need it to feel safe.
The little touches that had become so normal in their relationship over the past two years had increased in frequency and changed slightly because now, when Cat reached for her, there was a small smirk on the older woman’s face. A smirk placed there because the woman knew what was under those cardigans, what she had seen that no one else here was allowed too.
Cat had also stopped touching her primarily for the benefit of other people, touching her so that other people knew to stay away. No, Cat didn’t need to do that anymore. Not that it stopped her completely, but now when she wrapped a hand possessively around Kara’s arm she wasn’t glaring at a third party, but rather, she was looking as her assistant. The outsider still got the message all right, but Cat wasn’t focused on them because they didn’t matter anymore, they weren’t a threat.
Kara knew that Cat trusted her completely, and her possessive shows, while undoubtedly rooted in Cat’s own desire for the girl, were also aimed at making Kara feel at ease when a new human got just a little too close, a little too pushy. They were for Cat and Kara alone. Cat didn’t give a damn about the other person.
“Yes, Miss Grant?” Kara hurried into Cat’s office in response to the summons, surprised to see her boss standing, not behind her desk, but off to the side.
“Sit,” a command.
Kara moved towards the couch but Cat shook her head, indicating that Kara should take her desk chair, her expression completely personifying the Queen of All Media.
Kara shifted directions after only a slight hesitation, and Cat’s professional mask slipped slightly. A small smirk gracing her face at the nervousness of her assistant, even as she allowed her hand to lightly brush along Kara’s back as the girl made her way past get to her directed place.
Kara seated herself on the edge of the chair, ready to jump up as soon as Cat gave her the opportunity to escape, her hands twisting together, unable to hold still.
Cat walked around, moving from the side of the desk to stand in front of it, hands resting on the smooth surface, staring down at Kara imposingly. So this was going to be an inquisition.
“So, Kiera,” Cat paused, taking a moment to appreciate the way the girl in question was squirming under her gaze.
“She’s enjoying herself,” Kara realized. She tried, and failed, to feel annoyed because truthfully, it wasn’t like she wasn’t enjoying being on the receiving end of such rapt attention herself.
“It has come to my attention that every time there is some emergency, something that requires the intervention of Supergirl, you and that hobbit you call a friend rush off somewhere together. Now clearly he isn’t joining you on your excursions, so would you mind telling me what, exactly, he is doing following you around?”
Oh right, the secret base. The secret base in CatCo, the base that made use of redistributed, not stolen mind you, but redistributed CatCo materials. The base that her boss had no idea about because Kara had forgotten to mention it.
Kara knew she was blushing, and, if the widening, predatory, smile that Cat was shooting her way was any indication, it was the reaction Cat had been hoping for.
Struggling to look anywhere but at Cat, Kara suddenly found that the mug full of M&Ms on Cat’s desk was incredibly interesting. She had never really taken the time to contemplate the candies before, but now that she did…
“Kiera,” Cat’s eyes were gleaming, demanding.
“Well you see, Miss Grant,” Kara cast around for the right words, “I needed a place to change into my costume and some way to monitor things, so we sort of commandeered an unused office, and some computer equipment, and, well,” Kara was floundering again. How had she never noticed the orange M&Ms before? What a strange color choice for a candy.
A short tap, the sound of Cat’s nail hitting the desk impatiently, brought Kara back to the present, but it also gave her an idea.
“And, well, you did say that Supergirl was yours, and that she, I, would forever be linked to CatCo, to you, so I figured that I was justified in borrowing some unused CatCo property for my secret headquarters,” now she did look up at the Cat, a smug look on her face at the way she had turned the confession around. Cat couldn’t argue with that logic.
Cat hummed appreciatively at the response, drawing back slightly and giving Kara a triumphant look.
“You already knew, didn’t you?”
“Of course, Witt isn’t especially hard to follow, and your setup is clearly lacking in the security department, but I just wanted to hear you say it. Although I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting you to phrase your defense quite that way,” the way Cat was looking at her now, Kara really needed a cold shower.
“Now I may be willing to approve a security upgrade for your little operation, if,” ok, so not a cold shower, a nice hot shower, a nice hot shower with Cat...
“If,” the woman continued, “you can think of some way to make it up to me.”
Kara’s throat was dry, her eyes unable to look away from the sight of Cat Grant staring her down, the sight of Cat Grant so clearly wanting her.
“Anything, Miss Grant,” she knew her voice was breathy, her face flushed.
And then Cat pulled away, slipping instantly from predator to professional and leaving Kara floundering, unable to regain her composure nearly as quickly as her boss. Only the smallest sign, a miniscule upturn of Cat’s lips, a slight flash in her eyes, gave away Cat’s obvious pleasure with how this situation had turned out.
Cat allowed Kara a few moments to collect herself before speaking again, “come to dinner tonight at my place, I’ll even cook,” Cat’s smile was softer now, and a whole different kind of wonderful.
“What about Carter...” Kara trailed off.
“I talked to Carter on Monday and told him that we had started dating,” Kara smiled brightly, a pleasant, warm sensation spreading through her body at Cat’s words, at the fact that Cat was willing to bring Kara into Carter’s life as more than just an employee. Her smile started to fade, however, as Cat continued.
“Actually, he was incredibly confused by the news,” seeing Kara’s look, Cat held up her hand to stop the younger woman from interrupting, her calming smile letting Kara know it was nothing to worry about.
“It turns out, Carter was under the impression that we had started dating months ago. He’s been wondering why you haven’t come over to dinner before. He’s very excited,” Kara loved the fond look on Cat’s face as she talked about her son, “so, will you come?”
Not ‘can you come,’ Kara noticed, but ‘will you come.’ It was just one of those many ways Cat was letting her know that she could set the pace, not that she wanted anything to slow down, but she appreciated the thought.
Standing up, Kara made her way around the desk.
“Of course, Cat.” She didn’t miss the look of relief that flashed, visible just for a moment, across Cat’s face.
Cat smirked again, adding, “my bedroom has excellent soundproofing, so bring a change of clothes to wear for work tomorrow.”
“I can’t,” Kara blurted out the words before she had even realized she was going to speak, her reaction instinctive.
“I can’t stay the night, not tonight, I’m so tired, I’ll fall asleep, and then…”
Cat was clearly taken aback by Kara’s response, her eyebrows drawing together in confusion. Before Kara could explain, however, Cat was already moving them towards the balcony doors, clearly anticipating that this was a conversation they might not want other employees to see.
As soon as they were out of eyesight Cat reached for Kara, running her hand over the younger woman’s face, tucking a stray strand of hair back into place, letting Kara know she wasn’t upset, just confused.
“Kara, what’s wrong?”
Kara fought the urge to look away, “I need to sleep tonight, I’m sorry Cat, but I can’t spend the night.”
“Well of course you need to sleep, Kara, I’m not planning on keeping you up all night,” the words were teasing, but the inflection was just off enough that Kara knew Cat was worried.
“I don’t need the same amount of sleep as humans, but I haven’t slept in a few days, I’m at my limit as to how long I can stay awake. I’m going to need to sleep tonight, and I don’t want you to be there for that,” Kara held Cat’s gaze, imploring her to understand.
Cat frowned slightly, “the nightmares?” seeing Kara’s surprised look Cat continued, “your sister warned me. It’s ok Kara, you’ve already spent the night once…” Cat trailed off as a look of realization came across her face.
“You didn’t sleep, did you?”
Kara shook her head.
“Kara,” Cat stepped closer, one hand landing protectively on Kara’s upper arm, the other tracing her cheek bone, “if you’re getting nightmares, you shouldn’t be alone.”
Kara closed her eyes, taking a moment to enjoy the sensation of Cat’ s hands on her body, a moment of peace, but it didn’t last. She couldn’t, not yet.
“Alex may have warned you but,” opening her eyes she shook her head, “I can’t. Not yet. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“No, please Cat, please don’t ask me to do this, please,” she would, if Cat asked, if Cat pushed, and they both knew it.
Cat clearly didn’t like it, but she could accept it, at least for now.
“Alright, but dinner?”
“Dinner sounds wonderful,” Kara knew her voice was full of relief. As much as she wanted to spend another night in Cat’s arms, she couldn’t expose Cat to her dreams, not yet.
It was a month before Kara fell asleep in Cat’s bed. After that first dinner Cat had made sure to plan ahead, ensuring that Kara would be able to sleep the night before, so she could stay over without facing her nightmares. She didn’t like the idea that Kara was lying awake all night at her side, but it was better than having Kara pull away after they were done. Better than seeing the young woman get up to leave and sleep somewhere else, because she knew that if Kara tried to leave, Cat would instinctually reach out for her, try to hold her in place. And Kara would beg her to let her go.
And then, one month after that first dinner, Kara had come over for another evening, it was a regular occurrence by now. Cat herself had been sleeping soundly, she always did when Kara was at her side, when a sudden noise awoke her.
Reaching automatically for the light Cat frowned when she realized the familiar weight of Kara’s body was gone, and flipping the switch a moment later, she saw why.
Kara had fallen asleep by mistake.
The younger woman had pulled away, huddling into herself on the corner of the bed, her face contorted into one of intense pain. The noise that had awoken Cat had been a sharp whimper, and Cat shuddered as another such sound escaped Kara’s mouth, so different from the usual noises Cat was used to hearing from the girl when she was in Cat’s bed.
“Kara,” she breathed, reaching for the girl, but halting her movement as Kara’s body flinched away, as if sensing the impending contact. It was a small movement, Kara’s limbs themselves were perfectly still, almost as if she had lost the use of them, but, knowing Kara’s body so well by now, knowing all the little ways she reacted to Cat’s touch, the slight movement was still so obvious to the older woman.
As Cat continued to hesitate she realized that she was scared. Seeing Kara pull away like that, even unconsciously, even with the previous warnings, it hurt. But, as Kara let out another pained sound, Cat knew she couldn’t hold back. Her Kara needed her.
Cat still didn’t touch the younger woman, until Kara recognized her, her touch would only make things worse. Instead, she pulled the blankets around the girl, attempting to give her some sort of protection, a shield, in a vain hope that it would provide some comfort. And then Cat called Kara’s name.
She didn’t realize that she had started crying until Kara was suddenly at her side, apologizing over and over again. Cat knew her hands were shaking, knew she should say something, knew that this was all backwards, but she couldn’t.
Cat had called for her and Kara’s eyes had flown open, her body rigid, and whereas before, when Kara’s fear had been immersed in, mitigated even, by anger, what Cat faced now was complete and utter terror. Of her.
It only lasted a few seconds but it seemed like so much longer. Alex had tried to tell her, so had Kara, but it wasn’t enough. Nothing could ever have been enough to prepare her for that look, for her Kara to look at her that way.
And now Kara was trying frantically to brush away Cat’s tears, trying to calm Cat down when Cat should be the one comforting Kara. And she wouldn’t stop apologizing, as if she had done something wrong, as if the fact that she had nightmares was her fault.
Cat tried to speak but her thoughts weren’t clear enough to form words, all she knew was that she needed her Kara to be safe. That she needed to see that Kara wasn’t afraid of her, needed to erase that image from her mind, replace those pained whimpers with something else.
And so she acted on instinct, catching Kara by surprise as her hands, which had stopped shaking the moment she had committed to the movement, wrapped around the younger woman. As Cat lunged forward, crashing their lips together, she tasted blood and knew she had cut her own lip on her teeth, but she didn’t care, didn’t stop.
The momentum of the kiss carried them over, toppling Kara onto her back with Cat on top, breaking the kiss only to begin biting her way down the girl’s neck.
Kara was saying something, and, despite Cat’s need, she found herself automatically shifting her focus, attention snapping to Kara’s words, needing to make sure Kara wasn’t asking her to stop.
“Cat, let me touch you, please,” Kara’s eyes met her own, and Cat saw her own desire, her own desperation, reflected back just as strongly.
Taking Kara’s hand she guided it to her breast, a low moan escaping her as Kara’s fingers touched her skin, a moan that was swallowed up in another kiss. Kara’s second hand came to join the first, not focusing on anywhere in particular, but moving across Cat’s body in an almost panicked desire, touching every inch of Cat she could reach, needing to feel the woman above her, to know that she was there. Cat knew Kara was using too much force, knew she would have bruises on her body tomorrow, and she was glad. Kara wanted her, Kara wasn’t afraid of her, Kara couldn’t hold herself back, the bruises would prove that.
Cat’s hand snaked down in between their bodies, and, feeling instantly how wet Kara was, hearing the low, pleading sounds escaping from the girl’s throat, she wasted no time. Cat thrust three fingers into her Kara and reveled in the way the younger woman arched into her in response.
Her administrations were harsh, matching in time to her own desperate movements as she ground herself down onto Kara’s leg. Cat pulled her head away, not wanting to stop tasting the girl’s skin, but needing to see Kara as she came.
“Kara,” the word left her lips, the same word that had awoken Kara from her nightmare, that had forced Cat to confront what that really meant.
“Kara,” she said again, louder, “Kara, Kara, Kara,” she needed to hear the name, to see it cause a different reaction.
“Kara,” she said one more time, and the woman under her pulled her hands away, moving them swiftly up to grip the wooden headboard even as she cried out, her blue eyes open and staring into Cat’s own.
Watching Kara come gave Cat everything she needed, and with one final push, one final thrust against Kara’s leg, Cat followed her over the edge, her mind barely registering the loud crack the echoed around the bedchamber.
Breathing heavily, Cat collapsed on top of Kara, covering the girl with her body, her arms moving to hold Kara closer.
It was several minutes before either of them spoke, but finally, Kara’s voice brought an end to the silence.
“I broke the bed,” and it was suddenly all too funny, because of course Kara had broken the bed. Cat started chuckling, and then her body dissolved into shaking laughter, the intense emotional extremes of the last few minutes rolling over her, releasing her.
Kara wasn’t laughing, but, when Cat was finally back in control of herself, at least enough to pull away and look down at the other woman, she saw that Kara was smiling tentatively.
Cat shook her head, the last of her laughter fading away as she started to feel at peace again.
“Cat,” Kara’s small smile was gone, concern on her face as she reached up with her left hand to cup Cat’s face. “Cat, I’m sor-”
“No,” Cat pressed her finger over Kara’s lips, silencing her.
“No, Kara, don’t apologize, never apologize for this.”
“No,” Cat gave Kara a look that let the younger woman know that Cat was completely serious, “no apologizing.”
Kara sighed. Cat could tell that the girl didn’t agree with her, but she nodded once all the same, giving in to Cat’s demand, at least on this first issue.
“For the bed then.”
“And definitely not for the bed either,” she said. Seeing Kara’s questioning look, Cat elaborated, “I made Supergirl break the bed, I think I should take it as a compliment,” she grinned gently, glad to see Kara’s smile, still small, but at least present, return in response.
Cat rolled off Kara, holding out her arm so Kara could shift into her customary place, her body tucked into Cat’s side.
“I don’t want you to try and stay awake anymore when you’re over here, Kara. Actually, I think you should start spending more nights here, I know you’ve been trying to sleep as little as possible, but it’s not healthy for you, I’ve seen how tired you get by the third day.”
Kara started to protest, but Cat shifted her body slightly, moving to the side and using her hand to draw Kara’s face up, holding eye contact.
“No, Kara. I’m not running away from this. Let me be there for you,” Kara was wavering, Cat could see it, could see how much the girl wanted to give in.
“Please, Kara,” she said it softly, “you asked me to believe in you, believe that you are strong, and you are, but let me show you that I’m strong too. You promised me you wouldn’t break, now it’s my turn. You won’t break me, Kara, so please, let me hold you, let me protect you.”
Kara closed her eyes, her entire body tense, considering. Cat waited, not moving, hardly daring to breath, waiting until…
“Ok,” it was so soft that Cat was barely sure she had heard it, but Kara opened her eyes and Cat could see the decision in them.
“Ok, Cat,” Kara said again, and Cat smiled.
She was under no illusions that this would be easy, and she knew it was going to hurt, but she was Cat Grant and her Kara needed her. And one more monster had just been defeated.
Kara could feel the sun hitting her, telling her it was morning but she refused to get up, opting instead to snuggle closer into Cat’s side. It had been a little over a month and a half since Kara’s first nightmare at Cat’s place, and she now slept here almost every night. At first her nightmares had continued to come regularly, but after the fourth consecutive night, she had managed her first night of peaceful sleep in over a month. Things had improved drastically since then, the days between nightmares slowly lengthening, and it had now been almost two weeks since the last attack. Cat’s presence was a large part of that, and Kara smiled as she listened to the steady beat of the woman’s heart.
“It’s too early to be smiling like that,” a slightly grumpy, but not unhappy voice broke through her thoughts.
Kara’s smile widened, “I can’t help it, I’m listening to your heartbeat.” She didn’t have to look up to see the single arched eyebrow that she knew would be Cat’s only response to the remark.
“The normal resting heart rate of a human is slightly faster than the resting heart rate of a Kryptonian,” she explained, “with us, there’s just enough time in between each beat that it almost makes you wonder whether or not the next beat will come. But with humans, with you, I never have to worry about it. There is no hesitation from one beat to the next. I like listening to your heart, it lets me know that you’re safe.”
Cat shifted, rolling them over and pushing Kara down, before maneuvering her own body so she could press her head to Kara’s chest, a look of concentration on her face. After a moment she looked up, “It doesn’t sound like that at all, like the next beat might not come. It’s more… relaxed, peaceful. I like the way your heart sounds,” her hand traced over Kara’s breast bone lazily, her sincere expression shifting into a grin as she heard the effect of her touch, “except now, when I do this,” her hand continued its exploration, “now your heart sounds like mine.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Miss Grant,” Kara matched her smile, “yours just sped up quite a bit.”
Cat glared at her, but Kara could see the smile in her eyes, “well, Kiera-” her words dissolved into a very undignified yelp as Kara shot up, taking Cat by surprise as she was forced to move along with the younger, much stronger, woman.
Kara's eyes were wide as she heard the private elevator for Cat’s apartment begin to ascend, her vision showing her just who was inside.
“Kara, what the hell?”
“Your mother’s here,” Kara scrambled from the bed, haphazardly trying to locate her clothes, seeing Cat’s own face freeze in comprehension.
“I have to get out of here,” she thrust her arms through the sleeves of her shirt, glad she didn’t rip it in her haste, before almost falling over as she wrestled with her pants, “if your mother sees me here…” she didn’t have to continue, they both knew that Katherine Grant would not approve of Cat dating her assistant.
A hand on her arm stopped her, “Kara, breathe, slow down,” Cat seemed to have adjusted to the news, “you are not going anywhere.”
“But your mother-”
“My mother does not control my life, I could give a damn about her approval of you. And I am most certainly not shoving you out the door, or window,” she added as an afterthought, “just because she has decided to show up unannounced and interfere once again.” Cat pulled Kara towards her and stopped the girl’s next protest with a kiss.
“But you can finish getting dressed. While you are clearly capable of facing any number of alien threats, I think the prospect of my mother walking in on us here, sans-clothes, might just give you a heart attack,” Cat began buttoning up Kara’s shirt, smoothing it out in the process, “and, Kara, dear, I’ve decided that I’m rather fond of your heart.”
Kara’s face turned bright red at those words and Cat chuckled darkly, clearly very amused with her young assistant’s response.
A minute later a slightly disheveled Kara, and a somehow impeccable Cat, made their way out to the living room, arriving just as the elevator dinged, signaling its arrival.
“Maybe I can pretend that I’m just here to drop something off,” Kara thought, but then Cat placed her hand on Kara’s shoulder, her fingers wrapping themselves around Kara in just that way that always made it impossible to mistake her intent, “or not.”
Kara sighed to herself, sitting at her desk typing up a summary of the financial outlook report to give to Cat when her boss got back from her current meeting.
The morning could have gone better, although, she supposed, it could also have gone much, much worse. Katherine Grant had taken one look at the two of them, stopping short at Cat’s ‘hello, mother,’ her eyes taking in the obvious state of their relationship, before spinning on her heels and walking out. Cat had looked rather pleased with herself, but Kara was worried about what would follow. Cat’s mother was not one to sit back and let something like this stand.
Thinking of Cat, Kara realized that Cat’s scent was getting stronger, but that couldn’t be right, Cat wasn’t due back for another few minutes. Focusing on the smell, Kara spun around, nearly falling out of her chair as she realized her mistake. Just as Carter smelled like Cat, Cat’s mother also had a note of familiarity, and Kara was so attuned to that specific scent by now, that she had picked up the minor notes of Cat, nowhere near as strong in Katherine as they were in Carter, but still present enough to draw her attention before the full, different scent became apparent.
And now Kara was face to face with Katherine Grant herself.
“So am I to take it by that ridiculous show this morning that you are sleeping with my daughter?”
Kara was taken aback, not expecting Cat’s mother to be quite so direct. She glanced around the office, glad that most of the personal were on their lunch breaks, and the only people that remained were too far away to hear.
“Well?” Katherine continued, pressing her advantage, “clearly my daughter didn’t pick you for your brains.”
“Don’t react, it’s what she wants,” Kara took a slow calming breath.
“Your daughter is in a meeting right now, I can let her know you dropped by, and schedule a meeting if you’d like,” she could do this, she could remain civil.
“What could a young thing like you even see in my daughter to begin with? Don’t you realize how incredibly ridiculous it is for someone her age to walk around with someone like you?”
Kara fought to keep her fists from clenching, “how long will you be in town? I’m sure I can fit you into Miss Grant’s schedule, even if you’re only here for a short stay.”
Katherine frowned at her, taking a step closer, “but I guess she’s not really walking around with you is she? You must be quite skilled between the sheets, I’m sure that’s how you got this far to begin with. Oh wait, you’re still just an assistant, aren’t you?” Kara could feel her face burning, “I guess you’re not really qualified for anything else, but even idiots can have dreams. And who knows? A little more time working under my daughter may eventually put you in contact with someone else with power and authority that you can try to flatter into a better job.”
“Don’t react!” Kara knew that she shouldn’t, but she felt her anger rising at the insinuation that she was only with Cat for a better job, that she didn’t see all the wonderful qualities that made Cat such an exceptional woman.
“As your daughter is not available right now, would you like me to call you a car?”
Good, she was holding things together.
Katherine’s eyes snapped together, angry at being denied the reaction she was looking for, “fine, if you’re going to be that way, I’ll get right to the point. How much?”
“Excuse me,” Kara wasn’t sure she had heard that right.
“You’re obviously just trying to use my daughter, and normally I would say to go ahead, Kitty is free to make her own mistakes, but I have a new book coming out soon, and I can’t have that bogged down in some scandal. So how much do you want to go away?”
That was crossing the line.
“How dare you,” no one was allowed to talk about Cat that way, like Cat was just a prop, like Cat didn’t matter. “As if there is any amount of money that could ever even begin to compare to being with your daughter, as if there was any material good even half, no a hundredth, a thousandth, as amazing as she is.”
Kara’s voice shook slightly, her anger clearly evident in her tone, her stance, her expression.
“Do you even care that she’s happy with me? All you care about is your little book. But let me tell you something, your book will only sell a handful of copies, and, of the people who do buy it, only a fraction will actually read the thing. People just want to be able to pull it out so that they can pretend that they are reading it, but in reality, as soon as whatever company they have over is gone, they’ll toss it on some shelf and forget about it. So no, I am not going to go away, because if your daughter, who is much more important and influential than you are, if your daughter wants me, that is far superior to anything a small person like you could ever-”
The slap caught her by surprise. It shouldn’t have, but there was absolutely no getting around the fact that this woman, in some very small way, smelled just a bit like Cat, like someone completely safe. And Cat would never hit her, not in anger, not to try and hurt her. So, even though her reflexes were exceptional, and even considering the way this conversation had been going, subconsciously the part of her that was always on alert had relaxed.
That was why when Katherine slapped her she reacted just a little too slowly, waited just a little too long before moving her face into the blow. And so when Katherine’s hand connected, it had all the effect of slapping a concrete wall. It wasn’t Kara who felt pain, but rather, it was the older woman who let out a sharp cry, pulling back and cradling her hand to her chest. Her eyes wide in accusation.
“You broke my hand!” Kara very much doubted that, she didn’t think Katherine could put enough force into the blow to have that effect. “You-”
And then Cat descended on them.
Kara had seen Cat angry before, but never with such quiet, brewing rage.
“Get out,” her voice was low and dangerous as she forcefully imposed herself in between Kara and her mother
“Kitty, dear, this girl is a menace! You should have heard what she said to me, and my hand-”
“Get out,” Cat said again, taking a step forward, forcing her mother to back away.
“You’re being an idiot, that girl is just using you!”
Cat took another step, bring her face close to the other woman, her teeth bared, “if you ever touch her again, if you ever so much as look at her the wrong way…” the threat was clear, and Kara watched, wide eyed, as Katherine backed up another step.
This time Katherine complied.
The moment the elevator doors closed Cat was reaching for Kara, grabbing her by the hand and dragging her along. Only when they reached the relative privacy of the balcony did Cat soften, her hands griping Kara’s face, checking for signs of injury, however ridiculous that was.
“Cat, I’m fine, your mother’s the one who got hurt.”
Cat wasn’t listening.
“Cat really, it was my fault, I was too relaxed and I reacted too slowly,” that got Cat’s attention, but for the wrong reason as Kara realized her slip too late.
“You were relaxed? You’re only ever that relaxed around me or Alex, or Carter… Carter.”
Kara winced as a look of realization came into Cat’s eyes and the older woman backed away, yanking her hands away from Kara’s face, “Carter’s not the only one who smells like me, she does too, doesn’t she?”
Kara could only nod, hating the way Cat’s jaw clenched in response.
“Kara, I wouldn’t, I would never…”
“I know, Cat, and you don’t have to worry. She only smells a bit like you, not nearly as much as Carter does, just enough to slow my reaction time down by a hair. Not enough that I could ever, ever think that you would hurt me, that I would ever associate your smell with that action.”
“Kara,” Cat looked so unsure.
“It’s ok, Cat,” Kara moved forward. Cat didn’t back up, but neither did she reach out for Kara as she usually did when they were this close.
“I’m not afraid of you, I promise,” Kara grasped Cat’s hands, pulling them towards her until she could place them on her body, “it’s ok, Cat,” she smiled, letting the older woman see how completely relaxed she was, how comfortable she was with Cat’s hands on her.
“I’m yours, Cat, nothing can change that,” finally, seeing Kara’s open smile, the worry began to fade from Cat’s face. Kara closed her eyes as the pressure from Cat’s hands increased and began moving over her body of their own accord, no longer needing to be held in place by the younger woman. It wasn’t sexual, not explicitly so, it was just reassuring, just… them.
They stayed that way for a few moments, and when Cat finally pulled away, Kara saw a look of resolve in her eyes as if she had come to some major decision.
“Kiera, I need to go to Metropolis on Friday, schedule my jet for an early morning flight and cancel whatever else I have going on that day.”
“Of course, Miss Grant.”
Cat Grant normally walked into a building only to instantly commandeer the attention of each and every single person in the vicinity. But people often forgot that Cat Grant was also a media queen, and sometimes the best way to get a story, was to go completely unnoticed. It was a skill she had cultivated over many years, a skill that she was now putting to good use to get into the office building of the Daily Planet.
“Hello, Clark,” the surprise on his face as she stepped into his office had more to do with the fact that she instantly closed and locked the door, then her sudden appearance. She doubted anyone was ever truly able to sneak up on Superman.
“Cat,” he stood politely, gesturing to an open chair, “what brings you to Metropolis?”
“Officially, as far as anyone else is concerned, especially Kara, I’m here to meet with the head of CatCo’s Metropolis branch, a meeting that was a complete waste of time, by the way. But unofficially, I’m here for you,” she enjoyed the way his face twitched at her words. Good, her guess had been right.
“Don’t give me that look, and no, Kara didn’t tell me,” she gave him her most condescending smile, the one that told people that she had them at her mercy, “Kara has this idiotic notion that a pair of glasses can provide an adequate disguise, and, while I have to admit, they are more effective than I would have predicted, she’s smart enough to think of something better. The fact that she didn’t could only mean that she learned it from someone else. After coming to that conclusion, your identity was obvious.”
“And unfortunate, I can’t believe I’m going to be related to Lois Lane some day. Superman just had to go and marry the wretched woman, didn’t he?”
Clark sighed and Cat got the distinct impression that people always mocked him about the glasses whenever they found out.
“I’m not confirming anything, Cat. Now, if you would please leave…”
“Oh for the love of-” Cat reached into her purse, pulling out her cell phone, and dramatically turning it off, before placing it on the desk between them.
“There, now I can’t record you. You can use that special vision of yours to look for other devices, or you can just take my word for it,” she could see he was considering his options, “I have to warn you, however, your big cousin might not take to kindly to you checking me out.”
Clark gave her a long stare, before finally, slowly, removing his glasses. Cat grinned, she loved to win.
“What do you want, Cat?” his posture straightened, his voice becoming stronger, more annoyingly, heroic.
Cat fought to keep her superior smile on her face, but she knew it wouldn’t last for long. Not because of who was clearly sitting across from her, no, she could stare down Superman any day. Rather, her sudden loss of confidence had everything to do with what she was here to ask. She did not like having to ask for help, especially in regards to personal matters.
“You speak Kryptonian, don’t you?” she was gratified at the surprise on his face, he hadn’t been expecting that.
“I do,” but Cat could hear a slight hesitation. She gave him a pointed look, waiting for him to continue.
“I didn’t start to learn until I gained access to information about my home planet, when I was already an adult, and even then I only ever had a hologram to practice with. Until Kara arrived that is,” he shifted, clearly embarrassed at his language shortcomings, Clark was showing though.
“I’m passable, but my accent is terrible and I’m nowhere near fluent.”
“But you do know the basics, the important things?” Cat knew her voice had softened. She had know this was coming, the moment when she would have to let down her barriers to get what she wanted, but it still made her uncomfortable.
“Yes, Cat. What do you want to learn?”
“You know what I want!” She couldn’t keep herself from snapping, an automatic response, a defensive tactic.
“I think I do, but I want to hear you ask.”
Cat closed her eyes picturing Kara’s face, seeing her smile so beautifully out on that balcony, hearing her tell Cat that she was hers. She could do this.
Opening her eyes Cat gazed evenly at Clark, at Superman, “I need to tell Kara something, something I haven’t told her yet.”
Clark was smiling, waiting. Cat Grant hated Clark Kent.
It was late afternoon by the time Cat left, the language lesson had taken longer than she had expected, the words sounding strange on her tongue. But eventually Clark had nodded his head in acceptance.
She turned her phone back on as her car sped towards the airport, and, noticing a missed call from Kara, typed in her code to play the message.
“You have one voicemail. First message, received today: ‘Cat, I-, just, thank you, I-’” the message trailed off into static.
“Press one to save this message, press two to delete this message… Thank you, you have chosen to save this message, it will continue to be stored on the cloud."
Cat frowned slightly, hitting the callback button, only to have her call go unanswered. She felt a slight unease that she couldn’t explain, but brushed it aside.
“She’s probably picking Carter up,” Cat thought, noticing the time, Kara had a tendency to get distracted by Cat’s son. This wouldn’t be the first time Kara had missed a call because she and Carter were having too much fun, or were too immersed in a conversation to notice anyone else.
Cat smiled fondly at the thought before tucking her phone back into her purse. She would be home in a few hours anyway. Whatever Kara’s call had been about, it hadn’t been important enough for the girl to call back. It could wait.
“I love you, Kara Zor-El,” and this time, as she whispered the words, the alien language didn’t sound quite so strange.
“Status report, Sergeant Howards?”
“We have Supergirl in custody, General Lane, sir.”
“Excellent,” no more waiting. The future was here.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
“Kara!” Alex rushed over to her, face awash with anxiety as Kara touched down at the military facility just outside of National City. General Lane had called the DEO, and the DEO had called Kara.
It was a bomb, some new military technology equal in strength to a nuclear warhead, but small enough that it could easily fit into a large backpack, or a superhero’s arms.
“Don’t go, Kara, we’ll find a way to diffuse it, Hank’s back at headquarters looking through the schematics now. Remember what happened last time you ran off with a bomb! It almost killed you, and it was nowhere near as powerful as this one is!” Kara pushed past her sister. Of course she remembered, but there wasn’t a choice. If the bomb went off this close to National City…
“You need to get it into space. If it explodes anywhere in our atmosphere the radiation fallout will be devastating,” General Lane was telling her, “it will explode in just under eight minutes, that’s plenty of time for you to get into orbit, throw it, and get a safe distance away. Aim to leave the atmosphere here,” he pointed to the map, specifying a deserted tundra over Alaska, “our government is the only one with a satellite positioned over this area, we can’t let anyone find out about this.”
Kara nodded, reaching for the bomb, pausing just for a moment.
“Alex, you need to pick up Carter if I don’t-”
“Alex! We don’t have time for this. You need to promise me, right now! And don’t you dare think about sending another agent to do it.”
Alex opened her mouth, but didn’t speak, conflicting emotions flashing across her face.
“I promise, but just come back, alright?” It was softer, fearful.
And Kara took off.
There was still time, she would be fine. But just in case…
Kara hit the crossover button function on her Bluetooth device, switching it from the DEO official frequency to her cell phone and activating the voice dialing option.
“Call Cat,” she had to tell her, just in case. She had to thank Cat for everything, for everything she had given Kara, for everything she had allowed Kara to give to her.
“I have to tell her that I love her.”
The phone didn’t even ring, it just when right to voicemail. Kara had a moment of worry, Cat never turned off her phone, what if something was wrong? What could Cat be doing that was so important that she would cut off her outlet to the outside world?
“Please leave a message after the beep.”
“Cat, I-, just, thank you, I-” static filled her ears as the message was cut off. She was out of range.
“I’ll just have to make sure I come back, then,” Kara pushed herself harder.
She made it to the designated area over Alaska, and then the outer atmosphere, and then she was in space.
“Still a minute left, I just need to throw it away!”
The bomb exploded in her hands.
“Ah, good, you’re awake.”
Her head was spinning, she felt so weak, where was she? Why was General Lane looking down at her?
“The bomb!” she tried to sit up but couldn’t. She couldn’t move, familiar restraints, familiar kryptonite restraints holding her down.
“Oh that, it was a fake, just strong enough to knock you out and push you back into the atmosphere. It was set to go off as soon as you reached a certain altitude, the timer was just for show. Thank you for following directions so well and getting to the location we pointed out, by the way, we couldn’t risk you falling down into a crowed city after all, too many witnesses would have made things messy.”
There was a cruel smile on the General’s face, a look of triumph in those cold eyes.
“Don’t panic!” She struggled against the restraints. Nothing.
“The DEO won’t let you get away with this,” why did her voice sound so scared?
“Yes they will. Remember that satellite? The only one in the area? Right before it went offline, damaged in the explosion, you understand, it broadcast data recording a nuclear level explosion. The DEO knows the bomb went off early, they know you didn’t have time to throw it away,” he was grinning, malicious, terrifying.
“Don’t panic!” She could feel it, the fear. It was getting stronger.
She fought harder. Still nothing.
“You have no idea how glad I am to bring you home, back where you belong, Subject 0.”
That’s what they had called her, the first words she had learned in English. Her name. Subject 0.
There were hands on her, cutting away her clothes.
“I know the bomb gimmick has been done before, but there’s something to be said for the classics, don’t you think? And besides, it’s what you Kryptonians are good at, isn’t it?” His smile twisted, his face shifting from man to monster as she struggled against both the physical bonds, and the rising chaos in her mind.
He leaned in closer and she tried to shrink away.
“All that useless noise is going to get annoying. Cut out her vocal chords.”
The lead scientist moved to comply.
It was dark by the time Cat got home and she wished the elevator would go faster. She had had a knot in her stomach for hours. It was nothing, she knew. Just a little worry because of the strange phone call, nothing to overreact about. But she needed to see Kara. Kara would make it go away. Carter would already be asleep, but Kara would be waiting for her.
Except Kara wasn’t there. Alex was.
“No,” Cat brushed past her, looking for Kara. Kara would be here, Kara would explain why Alex was in her living room, why Alex had that look on her face.
She moved towards Carter’s room first. Obviously the reason Kara wasn’t here to greet her was because she was reading to Carter. It was past his bedtime already, she would have to lecture the girl about letting him stay up too late, but Kara would give her that sheepish look, and Carter would ask for just one more chapter, and she would give in. That was it.
So why were the lights in Carter’s room off? Kara must be reading in the dark, Cat would have to lecture her about that as well. If she wasn’t careful Carter would figure out that she was Supergirl.
So why didn’t she hear Kara’s voice? Carter must have just fallen asleep, Kara would be waiting for his breathing to completely even out before leaving, not wanting to jostle him awake when she left.
Relief flooded Cat as she came close enough to see her son, who, sure enough, was sleeping soundly. Cat’s eyes shifted from his face to the space at his side, where she knew Kara would be.
Except Kara wasn’t there.
“Cat,” Alex had followed her. The other woman was standing in the doorway to Carter’s room, her face an open book.
“No,” and Cat was moving again, pushing past Alex and walking purposely towards her own room. It was so clear to her now that Kara would be there, so obvious. She almost chuckled at herself as she twisted the doorknob. How stupid she had been, thinking that Kara would be in Carter’s room, that the girl wouldn’t have had Carter tucked away by now. Kara was so responsible, of course she wouldn’t have still been in there at this time of night.
It didn’t even bother her that the light was off in her own room, Kara didn’t need it. As soon as Cat turned it on she would see Kara sprawled out on her bed, on their bed, grinning up at her. Cat reached for the switch, but her hand hesitated, she didn’t want to press it, didn’t want to see an empty bed. But that would never happen because she knew Kara was there.
Cat flipped the switch, smiling down at the bed.
Except Kara wasn’t there.
The kitchen. She was already moving, glaring at Alex when the woman tried to speak again. The tears on Alex’s face were glinting in the light and it was going to give Cat a headache if she looked at them for another moment longer.
So the kitchen then. Kara couldn’t cook, not that she wasn’t interested in learning, and Cat had even tried to teach her. But every time Cat had looked away, even just for a moment, she had come back to find that bits of whatever they were preparing had simply… vanished.
Kara would look at her, innocent eyes wide, hands splayed, as if to say she had no idea what had happened. Eventually Cat always had to kick the girl out of the kitchen, otherwise there wouldn’t be any food left by the time she was done cooking. ‘Stupid aliens and their stupid alien appetites,’ Cat would mutter under her breath each time, knowing the girl would hear. Cat would glare at her, but she had still started buying extra food anyway, just so Kara could stay in the kitchen with her for a longer period of time before the food levels got too dangerously low.
So that’s where Kara must be. Without Cat around to shoo her away, she must be trying to make something elaborate, something she couldn’t make with the limited kitchen and supplies she had in her own apartment.
All Cat had to do was turn this last corner and she would walk in on Kara. The girl would be staring down at the preparatory materials with a confused look on her face. She would be looking for something that she had gotten out earlier, except now it would be gone, and Kara would be trying to remember when she had eaten it.
Yes, that was it. That was what she would see as soon as she walked through that door.
So why wasn’t she moving?
“Because if Kara’s not in the kitchen…”
“Cat...” Cat wasn’t going to turn around, she wasn’t going to look at Alex’s expression anymore.
Cat walked into the kitchen to say hello to Kara, to tell Kara that she was home, to show Kara why she had gone to Metropolis.
Except Kara wasn’t there.
Where was Kara?
And then there were arms around her. They were strong arms, or at least, at one point she would have thought so, but that was before Kara. Nothing was strong like Kara.
“There was a bomb, Cat,” she was trying to pull away, she didn’t want to hear this. Why wouldn’t this woman let her go?
“Everyone would have died, Cat,” she didn’t care about everyone, she cared about Kara!
“Carter would have died,” and Cat stopped.
“Carter…” Carter was in the other room. Carter was sleeping, and he was safe. Carter was sleeping and she didn’t want to wake him up. But he would wake up if she fought back. He would wake up if she screamed at Alex to drown out the sound of her words. And that meant that Cat had to stand still, that she had to listen.
“It was supposed to be safe. There was plenty of time left, and she just had to get into space and throw it away,” Alex’s words, softer now that Cat had stopped, filled her ears.
Was Cat shaking, or was that Alex?
“But something went wrong,” well obviously, bombs don’t just activate when everything is fine and dandy, “and it went off early.”
“She’s Supergirl, a bomb can’t hurt her,” her hands were clutching at Alex now, but her voice was harsh, determined.
“It was a nuclear level bomb, Cat. A nuclear bomb went off in her hands.”
Now Cat was shaking her head. It didn’t matter, Kara was strong, Kara could take the blast. She would be hurt, yes, but they just had to go and find her.
“Even,” Alex’s voice broke, “even if she survived the blast-”
“Of course she survived! If you realize that then why are you here? Why aren’t you out looking for her?”
“We are, but-”
“I didn’t ask if your agency was looking for her, I asked why you aren’t looking for her,” Cat almost snarled, her hands gripping the other woman’s arms too tightly. It had to hurt, but she didn’t care.
“Because Kara made me promise that I would pick up Carter, that I wouldn’t send someone else to do it.”
“Because Kara thought she might die and her main concern was that your son might not have someone to look after him,” it hung between them, unspoken.
“But she could have survived?” Cat was softer now, pleading.
“We’re looking, but… but even if she did the blast would have taken everything out of her. It would have blown out her powers and knocked her back into the atmosphere. And without her powers… she would have disintegrated in seconds, Cat.”
“You don’t know that!” How could this woman claim to care about Kara, and then give up on her so easily?
“We had a satellite monitoring the situation. I’m a scientist, Cat, I saw the readings, I know what they mean.”
“You just have to look harder! Last time this happened it took you hours to find her!”
“Last time we didn’t have Superman.”
Superman was here. Cat had been with him when this had happened, and if she hadn’t turned off her phone, if she had just taken that call… Superman would have arrived faster.
But Superman was here now.
And Superman couldn’t find her…
“I am a very possessive woman, Kara, and once I have something, I don’t let go.”
That’s right. Kara didn’t belong to Superman, Kara belonged to Cat Grant. And Cat Grant does not let go.
“And all that precious data of yours? What does it tell you about Kara?” She knew her voice was almost a snarl, a refusal to listen to facts.
As the silence dragged on, Cat almost thought that Alex wasn’t going to respond, but finally Cat felt it, felt the taller woman stiffen, felt the resolve come into her mind.
“It tells me that Kara always survives.”
Cat had fired another assistant this morning, or had the girl quit? She wasn’t quite sure. These days the assistants were coming and going so fast that she didn’t always remember which ones she fired, and which ones walked out.
It didn’t matter, none of them were remotely good enough for the job anyway. Those that she had fired proved that, and those that had quit, well, those were the ones that had had potential, but gave up anyway and walked out.
Kara had never walked out.
It had happened last week. Alex had given her the news that the DEO was calling off the search and officially declaring Supergirl dead. By the following morning the rest of the world knew. Not how it had happened, nothing beyond that she had sacrificed herself to save them, but they knew. Supergirl was gone.
They had moved much faster on Kara, been so quick to throw her away. Cat had come into the office on that Monday, that first workday after she had come home to the wrong Danvers sister, only to find a new assistant already waiting for her, and memo from HR stating that one Kara Danvers had terminated her employment, effective immediately. When Cat read through the paperwork it noted simply that Kara had decided to move to Central City, and gave a forwarding P.O. Box as her address.
She had gone to Kara’s apartment later, but it had already been packed up. Everything had gone into some government basement, and neither she nor Alex could get it back.
Cat understood why they had done it, they were already preparing to announce Supergirl’s death even then, already preparing to choose the costume over the girl. Once the death became public knowledge people would begin scanning the records, looking for a young woman with blond hair and blue eyes who had also met her demise at a similar time. And so Kara couldn’t be dead, because once people put it together, that would lead to all the people that Kara had left behind. And it wouldn’t be just her family, not just Alex and Eliza, no, it would be her coworkers, her friends, her boss.
Even that might be ok, it would pass, but the real trouble would come when someone hacked into Kara’s phone and emails, when someone found her communications that mentioned the DEO, or her chat messages with Clark. And that was what the government was protecting.
And so Kara Danvers had moved away to Central City, a place large enough that a young girl who didn’t know anyone could get lost. A few months from now, a year maybe, someone would quietly file a missing persons report, but it would never be investigated and Kara Danvers would just fade away.
It made Cat burn with anger, made her want to hunt down whatever official had made that decision and tell them that Kara had mattered, did matter, that she was more than just a costume.
But Cat didn’t, because when it came right down to it, the decision had had at least one positive outcome. Supergirl was dead, but Kara Danvers, her Kara Zor-El was alive. And, in this moment as she and Alex sat side by side sorting through illegally obtained records of the bomb, of how it was made, its properties, the data from the explosion, in this moment she needed that to hang on too.
Cat didn’t understand any of the records, but that would change. She would learn how to read this data, learn everything about it. And then she would do the calculations with Alex, the calculations that would prove that Kara did have enough power to survive.
Because Kara was alive, and Kara was waiting for her.
It was worse this time, how was it worse?
She knew how. It was because she was an adult now, she was stronger, her body could take more punishment before they had to stop.
Kara was lying on the floor in her small cell. The kryptonite cuff on her leg, which was just strong enough to allow her to continue to heal, while still keeping her docile, that cuff was pressing uncomfortably into her skin. But it wasn’t like there was anything she could do about that, so she ignored it and concentrated on the feeling of the cool floor against her cheek instead.
They would be coming for her again soon, she knew, although ‘soon’ was a relative term. Time didn’t exist in here, there was no regular pattern to keep her balanced. There was only this cell, and that room, the room with the lights, and the scientists, and the pain.
And so she knew that they would come for her soon, because in here, everything happened too soon. Every time they came for her was too soon.
At first she had tried to gauge the time by her meals, but that was pointless. They never fed her on a regular schedule, although, she supposed, it was possible that they were feeding her like clockwork, and she was just so lost in sensory deprivation that she couldn’t tell, but she didn’t think so. Because she did have one indicator of time, one thing that she knew was consistent, but it was an indicator that never matched up with any regularity to any other schedule.
Instead of hours or minutes or meals, Kara had started to measure things by how many times they took her voice. During some operations they would cut into her neck just once, at the very beginning, and others, other times they would do it a second, or even a third time. Cutting off her ability to scream each time she started to heal.
That was how she could be so sure that they weren’t keeping her on any sort of regular schedule. Because when she was finally back in her cell, sometimes they would feed her several times before her voice healed, and others, they wouldn’t feed her at all.
“Cat,” she tested her voice now, it was working again, which meant that until they took her back for another operation, until they cut her vocal chords again, she no longer had any way to understand time.
She almost didn’t know what was worse. Losing that last grasp of time, or feeling the knife at her throat, performing the same maneuver over and over again.
A small compartment opened in the wall and a bowl of soft mush was shoved though. Yes, they would come for her soon, but first, it seemed, they were going to feed her.
She didn’t feel like eating, but she would anyway.
“You need to eat. Don’t worry. Cat is coming.”
Kara ate the food.
“Mom?” Carter was standing in front of her, concern on his face. He looked so handsome in his suit. Kara would think so too.
But Kara wasn’t here.
“Mom?” Carter said again, and Cat smiled weakly, encouraging him to continue, “the car is waiting, we have to go.”
Carter knew what had happened, not how Kara had died, Cat didn’t want him to have those images in his mind, but after everything… the first time Carter had asked why Kara wasn’t at dinner she had broken down.
He had held her then, her young, soft boy holding her as she sobbed in his arms. He had seemed so strong, even as he was crying too. When did he get like that? When had her shy boy started to stand up?
“When Kara made him laugh…”
He was looking at her now, holding out his hand, waiting for her to come with him. She didn’t want to go to this, to go to Supergirl’s funeral. She didn’t want to see all those people out on the streets, so many people talking about how great Supergirl was, as if she was really gone.
Practically the entire city had been shut down for the event, an entire city of people who never really knew her. There would be speakers, people recounting the times Supergirl had saved them, but, aside from Superman, there would be no stories from the people who mattered most. Her family and friends couldn’t come forward, and Cat, Cat was the only one with a public relationship with Supergirl.
But she couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t do it. She would go to the funeral, she couldn’t not go, but what she wanted more than anything in this moment… Well, what she wanted more than anything was to have Kara with her, but barring that, she wanted to hide away until this whole stupid farce was over with.
So no, she didn’t want to go. She didn’t want to hear Superman give a eulogy in Kryptonian. That language was supposed to be for something else, different words, words she never got the chance to say.
She didn’t want to go because, even if this was a funeral for Supergirl, and not for Kara, it would still mean something, and going felt like she was admitting that her work with Alex had gotten them nowhere.
No, she couldn’t think that way.
“It’s ok, I’ll find you, I’m coming, Kara,” she wouldn’t give up.
Because Kara was alive, and Kara was waiting for her.
There were scars on her arms now, those were new.
Kara wondered what Cat would think of them when Cat found her. Cat already had enough disparaging thoughts about her wardrobe, what would the woman say now that Kara would have to alter it to include only things with long sleeves?
“And scarves, don’t forget the scarves,” that was right, she would have to cover her neck up as well.
Maybe Cat would buy some matching scarves. That would be fun, the two of them, together, walking around with matching scarves looking like each other, looking like an old married couple. Cat would glare at her if she made the suggestion, but Kara knew that a few days later, Cat would show up with a matching look anyway.
She tried to giggle at the thought, but her voice hadn’t healed yet. Well, that explained why she still hurt so much, if her voice wasn’t back, there was no way the other, more major damage was fixed.
What had they done to her this time? She wondered, trying to remember.
“Oh right,” her arms. She had just been thinking about her arms, which had led her to her clothing options…
Well, whatever Cat thought of her future wardrobe, she had to approve of anything over what Kara was wearing now. Kara looked down at herself, contemplating the fashion choice, the plain, long shirt that fell to just below her upper thighs. Who had come up with this? Vaguely she wondered if a belt would make it better, something in blue or silver, something to counteract how very bland the material was.
She liked the colors blue and silver, they looked good together.
A noise drew her attention to the wall. Food. Food was here, but it was so far away. That thought made her want to laugh again, as if something could be far away in here. So it wasn’t that far away, but maybe she would just lie still for a bit longer anyway.
“You need to eat.”
“Because you have to live. Because Cat is coming.”
Kara ate the food.
They had ended early tonight, there was just so little information, and it was all so frustratingly clear.
At first it had made no sense to her, but now, after three months of looking through the same papers, the same scientific data over and over again, Cat almost couldn’t believe that there had ever been a time when she hadn’t understood it.
How many times could you look through a document and disbelieve it? How long could a battle between science and emotion last?
And so they had ended early. Just this once, they had told themselves, just this once we’ll stop and take a break. We need fresh eyes, we’ll try again later.
But a break didn’t mean Alex had left, no ending early meant that Alex had stayed for one drink, and then another. After the third drink they had started to talk about Kara.
Alex had shared stories of growing up with the girl, of the first time she had shown Kara a puppy, and how, when it was time to say goodbye, the dog and Kara had both given her identical pleading looks.
Cat had told Alex about Kara’s early days at the office, about the time Cat had come in with a bad hangover, and Kara had guarded her office door, not letting anyone in all morning, not until after lunch when Cat was feeling better. There was a moment when a particularly odorous, bully of a man from advertising had tried to get in to see Cat, and Kara had somehow turned him away. And so Cat had pulled the security footage of that day later, she had wanted to see just what expression, exactly, Kara had pulled that had made the man run away as fast as he did. It turned out to be an exact replica of Cat’s glare, and Cat had worried for a moment that she was somehow corrupting the girl, but as soon as the man was gone, Kara’s face had dissolved into relieved astonishment, as if she couldn’t believe that she had pulled it off either.
There were more stories after that, several more hours worth, until Cat had had the thought that this felt all too familiar, all too similar to way people had been talking about Supergirl at the funeral the month before. They had both realized it at the same time, both putting down their drinks and looking at the discarded pile of stolen government records.
“Next time,” Alex had promised, “next time we’ll find something,” and Cat had nodded, but it was a hollow gesture.
And now Alex was sleeping in her guest room and Cat was wondering when the idea of that had stopped being weird.
They hadn’t made any progress tonight, but she wouldn’t give up.
Because Kara was alive, and Kara was waiting for her.
Kara liked it in here, it was small and dark, sure, and she knew she used to hate places like this, but now, now her cell was her favorite place to be.
Because all she had was her cell and out there. And her cell was so much better than out there.
Carter liked small places, she remembered. He had said that they made him feel secure because he could see everything around him, because he knew exactly where and what everything was. She hadn’t understood it at the time, but she had still helped him build a blanket fort in the middle of the living room while Cat was in a late meeting, anyway.
They had just finished constructing it when Cat had come home, and her expression, when she had seen what the two of them had done to her home, her expression had been priceless.
Except then Carter had asked Kara to come inside with him, which she hadn’t been expecting, and she had hesitated. She had so wanted to, he was giving her that look, and she had wanted to make him happy, but it was such a very small space.
And Cat had understood, more than understood. Cat had realized that she actually did want to go in and play with Carter, even as she also wanted to back away. Cat had taken her hand and pulled her inside, not letting go the entire time they were in there, playing Settlers of Catan, the three of them, together. Cat had made the small space seem much less scary.
She wished she was in that fort now. It had turned out to be a really nice fort.
Her cell was nice too, however, so she supposed that it was all right.
The little door in the wall was opening again. Food. Food was here.
“You need to eat.”
“Because you have to live.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
Kara ate the food.
Cat and Kara had been together for three months. Kara had been gone for four months. Kara had now been gone for longer than they were together.
Except it hadn’t just been the three months, had it? It wasn’t just the three months because there had been the two years before, the two years of Kara, of Kiera, two years of the girl at her side.
The first year had been filled with almost hot lattés, and then, suddenly, the lattés had actually been hot, had been perfect.
She remembered that conversation, something they had talked about during those three months. Actually, they had talked about it on the morning after their first night together.
“Kiera,” she had narrowed her eyes at the girl, “it occurs to me that you seem to be using your superpowers for a lot of, well, a lot of personal reasons,” Kara had blushed at that, at the way Cat had stressed the word, ‘personal.’
“So tell me, Kiera,” sure, she could have said Kara’s real name, but it was so much more fun this way, seeing Kara squirm so adorably because of the tone that always went with that name, “what else have you been using them to do? Keep an eye on me? Eavesdrop?”
“Well, I use my laser eyes to heat up your coffee in the morning, Miss Grant,” and Kara had looked so sincere, even through the grin on her face, that Cat had started laughing. No one should be able to manage that, that look that was a perfect combination of guilty puppy and knowing provocation. But that was Kara, that was her Kara, her wonderful, beautiful, bright Kara.
She hadn’t had a hot latté in months. Four months to be precise.
“It’s only been four months,” she kept telling herself, that wasn’t so long. But what was she expecting to find? Proof that the bomb hadn’t killed Kara? That she had had just enough power left to survive the fall? And what then? If she had survived, wouldn’t she have come home by now?
It was only four months, but those four months without Kara at her side had felt like an eternity.
“How could you stay away for so long, Kara? If you are alive, why haven’t you come home?”
Because she knew that if Kara was alive, if Kara was able, she would always come home.
“No!” Cat stomped down on those thoughts.
Because Kara was waiting for her.
She missed Cat so much. Cat had catalogued all of her old scars, but those scars had been opened up again, scars on top of scars. And then there were the new scars, scars Cat hadn’t seen yet. But Cat would take those too, Cat would make them better.
She wondered, sometimes, why they were doing this. Didn’t they have enough tests by now? Why did they need to keep taking pieces of her away? What was the point of it all?
She could hear them during the operations, hear them when they talked about the other people, about Subject 1, and 2, and about those that had followed. They were taking pieces of her and putting them into other people.
“Subject 42 died today,” they had said that earlier, hadn’t they? Had she really killed 42 people? How many more was she going to kill before they found a way to make the transplants a success?
“Subject 42 survived for five minutes, thirty-eight seconds. That’s one minute, 52 seconds longer than Subject 41.”
Why had they been so happy about that? And if that was the pace of improvement, how many more times were they going to take something away from her? How many more times before they figured out how to keep someone alive?
Were those deaths her fault? She didn’t know.
Cat, Cat would tell her. Cat would know if she was at fault for the 42 dead humans.
Cat would hold her and tell her that it didn’t matter, that she didn’t care if Kara was a murderer, not in this situation.
So this was ok, this was all ok, because they couldn’t break her. Not as long as she had Cat, not as long as she knew Cat was coming for her.
The small door slid open. Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
“Because you have to live.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
“I miss Cat.”
“Yes. So eat.”
“Because Cat is coming?”
Kara ate the food.
It was now officially one month since Cat had fired an assistant.
He had lasted a month because he was competent and professional, he made sure everything was in order, and he never distracted her with beautiful blue eyes, or with little, nervous habits that had always made her want to pounce.
Evan was a good assistant, she had even learned his name. She had stopped calling people by the wrong names, not unless she truly didn’t know. The first time she had addressed Winn correctly she had placed him in such a state of shock that he hadn’t even heard the rest of her request. She had had to repeat herself, which she hated to do, but she did it anyway, even saying his name correctly for a second time.
And now Evan was showing Alex into her office. They had a lunch date, and Alex was smiling and holding a large bag of greasy food and two milkshakes. Cat would grumble at her later for that, she really should send Evan out to get her a lettuce wrap instead, but the burgers did smell incredibly good.
Later, after they finished eating, they would open up the Kara drawer, the one on the bottom left of her desk, the one that was never far from her mind. They would open the drawer and look through the files, each reading things that they had memorized long ago.
And then Alex would leave, and the papers would go back in the drawer, and another day would go on.
Evan would continue to handle her affairs, scheduling her meetings, taking her phone calls, and tomorrow he would bring her that lettuce wrap.
And she was never going to call Evan by the wrong name. He was a good assistant, but he wasn’t Kara, Kiera. He didn’t deserve a name that was only for the two of them.
After Kara, no one did.
So she would stop calling people by the wrong name until she could say ‘Kiera,’ again.
Because Kara was waiting for her.
She was trying to remember her name. It had been so long since someone had called her anything other than ‘Subject 0,’ and it was getting hard to remember.
She knew Subject 0 was wrong, even if she responded to it now, but if she knew it was wrong, why couldn’t she remember her real name?
“Kara,” she felt a moment of triumph, but then... no, Kara wasn’t quite right. What was it?
“Kara… Kora…. Krista…”
No, none of those were right either…
Yes, that was it. She remembered it now, her name was Kiera.
Kiera smiled, she liked that name, she didn’t want to forget it. There was a specific voice that always said it best.
She wondered briefly why she could only remember it in that one voice, but then decided it didn’t matter. It was a nice voice, a beautiful voice. And if that voice called her by that name, well, all the other voices could fall away.
A noise drew her attention, not someone saying her name, but the sound of the wall opening. Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
“Because you have to live.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
“Who is Cat?”
“Cat Grant. You love her. Now eat.”
“Because Cat is coming?”
Kiera ate the food.
The sun was hitting her Lucia orchid just right. It didn’t need much, despite its rarity it was a hardy plant. But she liked to keep it in the sun anyway because it looked so beautiful like that, so perfect with the light glinting off its red leaves. It was the same color red as Supergirl’s cape, and Supergirl had always looked so good in the sun.
Cat reached for the flower, but her hand shook as she felt the soft texture of the plant. That wouldn’t do, she couldn’t let her hand shake like that, she could knock the pot over, or break the flower’s stem.
“No more touching,” she thought to herself sternly, “only look.”
Yes, that was better. Look but don’t touch, she had gotten very good at that over the past six months, looking for that red on the cape of a woman, and not being able to find it, to hold it, to touch it again.
Cat closed her eyes, the music of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor filling her thoughts…
“Il dolce suono mi colp ì di sua voce!” … “I was stirred by the sweet sound of his voice!”
The aria was from Act III.
Lucia is insane by this point in the opera, having been rejected by the man she loves because of false information. First, she is tricked into leaving him behind and marrying someone else, and then, when he finds out about the marriage, he turns away from her, believing that she never really loved him.
By the time he figures out the truth, figures out the lies, Lucia is already lost to the madness. During the famous aria, the one that Cat could hear playing in her mind, Lucia remembers meeting Edgardo, falling in love with him, and then remembers the villains coming in between them. But, in her insanity, she convinces herself that the two of them had gotten through the darkness, that she is marrying him, had married him. But it’s another lie. Lucia and Edgardo never get that happy ending, the madness destroys her before they get their chance.
Is she like that? Like Lucia? Trying to believe the lie that Kara is alive? Is she going to go mad?
Was Kara waiting for her?
“Il dolce suono
mi colpì di sua voce!...Ah, quella voce
m'è qui nel cor discesa!
Edgardo, io ti son resa,
Edgardo, ah, Edgardo mio!
Sì, ti son resa,
fuggita io son da' tuoi nemici.”
“I was stirred
by the sweet sound of his voice! Ah, that voice
won this heart of mine!
Edgardo, I am yours again,
Edgardo, ah, my Edgardo!
Yes, I am yours again,
I escaped from your enemies.”
She hurt, she always hurt now. But she had made a game of it, a game of trying to find something that didn’t hurt and focus on that.
That was how she realized that her throat didn’t hurt anymore, that it hadn’t for a while. She frowned, when had that happened? When had they stopped cutting into her neck?
Did that mean her voice was back?
She tried it, opening her mouth, moving her lips to see if something would come out.
“Cat,” it was a word she liked, something that stuck with her. But the voice that spoke was in her mind, only in her mind.
Maybe her vocal chords had just stopped healing? But no, she knew that wasn’t it. The scientists would have panicked if that had happened, they would have worried about what was going to fail next.
So technically she should be able to speak. She moved her mouth again, still nothing. She was missing a step, obviously there was something else she was supposed to do, but what was it?
Kiera put a hand to her throat, feeling the scar. Vibrations, that was it. Something was supposed to vibrate. But how? How did she used to make her throat vibrate? How did those scientists do it? They must know, they spoke around her all the time.
She tried again, maybe if she just… a sound interrupted her, but it wasn’t a sound she had made, it was coming from somewhere else.
Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
“Because you have to live.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
“Who is Cat?”
“Cat is safe. You like being with Cat. Now eat.”
“Because Cat is coming?”
Kiera ate the food.
Cat woke up, wondering why her bed looked strange. Was it her bed?
“Yes, but you were upset last night, so you hid it.”
Oh, that was right. It was her bed, but last night she had thrown a white sheet over the headboard, changing the appearance. She used to love that headboard.
After Kara had broken the first one Cat had considered her options. She didn’t mind replacing it, it was a minor expense that was more than mitigated by the knowledge of how the bed had gotten that way in the first place, by the image of Kara, arching beneath her, so lost in Cat that she couldn’t control her power.
She should have gotten another similar one with wood that matched the rest of her bedroom furniture. But Cat had had a better idea, and instead she had had a metal one custom built. It wasn’t very comfortable to lean against, if she wanted to stay up late reading in bed, but it had other benefits.
The strips of metal that wove across the frame were the perfect size for Kara to hold, to grab, to alter. And Cat had loved seeing it, the proof of what she could do to Kara, the hand impressions that were forever imprinted into the frame when she made Kara come undone.
Last night it had been too hard to look at them though. Alex had come over and they hadn’t even opened the Kara drawer in her home office, an identical copy to the one at CatCo.
Instead they had played a game with Carter, and, after he had gone to sleep, they had just talked, not about anything important or specific, just enjoying each other’s company.
They did that now, enjoyed each other’s company.
And when Alex had finally left Cat had gone to bed, and the impressions on her headboard had been a stark reminder of that unopened drawer. So she had covered it up, unable to sleep with it taunting her.
Now, however, Cat moved to lift the sheet, pull it back slightly, just enough to expose one marking, finger groves that no human could have caused. Cat remembered making that one, it was the first one they had made together. She had teased Kara about it afterwards, about how much money she could get for selling it, how much people would pay to see what happened when Supergirl was fucked by Cat Grant.
And Kara’s embarrassed blushing had been so innocent, so adorable, that Cat hadn’t been able to hold herself back. They had both been very late to work that day, but the second impression, just next to the first, was proof that the time had been well spent.
Cat wrapped her own hand around the mark, feeling Kara’s hands, remembering…
She dropped the sheet back into place and turned away. She couldn’t think about those hands anymore.
She would open the Kara drawer later tonight, she decided, because Kara… Kara was…
Was Kara waiting?
Kara stared at her hands. If she could remember how to make her voice work she would be laughing, hands were funny things that way.
Like the fact that right now she had two hands, that was funny. She didn’t think she had always had two hands, she thought she remembered a time when she had had trouble eating, because she had only had one.
But now there was a thin blue line across her right wrist and she had two hands again. Was it the hand she had started with? The hand she had had in the time before she only had one? Because, while she was pretty sure that there was indeed a time when she had only had one, she was also pretty sure that she had started out with two hands originally.
No, she decided finally, this was a new hand. She had regrown an entire hand, she should get an award for that. She had never really cared much for awards, but someone else did, someone else loved them, and had so many. She wondered if her award would look stupid next to all of those other ones.
Then again, maybe she hadn’t regrown a hand, maybe a hand had regrown her. Maybe the original body was gone, or maybe there were two of her now, a body that had regrown a hand, and a hand that had regrown a body.
The person with all the awards would like that, like to have two of her at once. It was a funny thought. That person would have such a great expression on their face when they saw that.
There was a noise, had she actually managed to make a sound, to laugh? But no, that wasn’t it.
Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
“Because you have to live.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
“Who is Cat?”
“Cat is Cat. Now eat.”
“Because Cat is coming?”
Kiera ate the food.
“Mom?” Carter was standing in front of her. He had grown taller since the funeral, and he looked so handsome in his new suit.
“Mom, the car is waiting, we have to go.”
Cat nodded, standing to follow her boy to the door. She wasn’t looking forward to this, but she would go anyway. James and Lucy were finally getting married, and she was happy for them, she was, but going to this wedding meant that she was going to have to smile and have a polite conversation with Lois Lane, her bitch of a rival, and Lois’s husband, Clark Kent, the man who had failed to find Supergirl.
“Not that I’ve done any better…”
Lucy’s father was going to be there as well, and Cat hated, hated, him. He was the one whose team had built that bomb, whose team had lost control of it, and he was the one that had sent Kara off into space.
General Lane was the one who had killed…
But her rejection was weak. Could she really believe it anymore? That Kara hadn’t… that she wasn’t…
That man had come today. She hated him more than all the others, even though he never touched her, even though he was never holding a knife.
Why did she hate him so much? She didn’t know.
She shouldn’t hate him, he was supposed to be someone she respected, someone who protected her, she knew that much at least.
He had shiny metals on his chest, and the scientists all called him ‘General,’ and she knew that people like that were supposed to help people like her, people who were hurt.
So maybe she wasn’t a person? Is that why she hated him? Because he was a person and she wasn’t?
That must be it.
He was a person who protected people, but he wasn’t protecting her, so that must mean she was someone… no, something, she corrected herself, that she was something bad.
But did it matter?
No, she supposed it didn’t. But time to stop thinking, there was a noise that was calling for her attention.
Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
“What’s a cat?”
“It’s something small, something you can hold in your hands.”
“You shouldn’t say that.”
“Because cats don’t like to be called small.”
“Are you sure?”
“How can you be sure?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, eat anyway.”
“Because a cat is coming?”
Kiera ate the food.
It had been a year, a year since that first kiss. Cat was on the beach now, Alex at her side. They had come here together, to the place where the two of them had first met.
Their relationship had been so different then, but now…
Now Alex was the one she called when she won a new award. Alex was the one she called when her meetings ran late and she needed someone to look after Carter. Alex was the one she called when she had nothing else to do. And Alex was the one she called even when she did have things to do, but wanted to call Alex anyway.
And Cat was the one Alex called when she got a promotion at work. Cat was the person Alex called when she got hurt at work. Cat was the one she called when she had nothing else to do. And Cat was the one she called even when she did have things to do, but wanted to call Cat anyway.
Cat and Alex called each other for so many reasons now, but it had been a long time since the Kara drawer had been one of them.
Cat and Alex had called each other tonight. And now they were here, on this beach, a year after Cat had first kissed her Kara, a year after the two remaining people had met, because they were friends, and they needed to do this together.
Because Kara wasn’t waiting.
She wasn’t scared of the scientists anymore. She wasn’t much of anything anymore.
And she was glad about that, about not being anything, because that meant that it was ok that she didn’t understand time. And she doesn’t want to understand time because she thinks that if she did, she would have to go back to being afraid.
If she understood time she would have to travel through it, she would have to look at the past, she would have to remember happy things, and the contrast would make this all so much worse.
She liked not having a past. It meant that someday soon she might not have a future, and once she lost her grip on that…
Once she lost her future then she could stop altogether, because the next step would be to lose her present.
But she wasn’t there yet, and for now she still had a future because there was something there, something constantly nagging her in the back of her mind, something she knew she was looking for, waiting for, something that was coming.
There was that noise again.
Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
“Because Cat is coming.”
“What’s a cat?”
“...I don’t know, but you have to eat.”
“Because a cat is coming?”
Subject 0 ate the food.
Cat was writing an article about nuclear bombs. It would be a headlining story, almost as big as her first article about Supergirl.
She knew so much about them now, it had seemed a waste not to use that knowledge. Or at least, that’s what she had told herself when she had first decided to do it, but in reality…
In reality she knew there was another reason.
She was writing about bombs like the one that had killed her Kara because she needed to sit down and arrange the facts in a tangible form, something in her own hand, to write out her own conclusions. She needed to make it real.
After ten months she needed an end.
She shuffled some papers to the side and one sheet in particular caught her eye. She frowned, that shouldn’t be out. It was the data from Kara’s bomb, but Cat hadn’t opened the drawer, or at least, she didn’t think she had. But she knew the data so well by now that she would recognize it anywhere. So why was this sheet here on her desk instead of locked away?
Because it wasn’t Kara’s bomb.
The data was all the same, but this data came from a nuclear test that had occurred several years ago. The data should be similar, yes, but not identical. It couldn’t be identical, not unless…
Not unless one of the recordings was fake.
The reading from the satellite, the record of Kara’s bomb, that reading was a lie.
And that wouldn’t happen unless someone had altered the data, unless someone had deliberately wanted to make people believe that the bomb was strong enough to kill a superhero.
Cat called Alex.
Cat was going to burn down the world, if that’s what it took.
Because Kara was alive, and Kara was waiting for her.
Food. Food was here. She didn’t want it.
“You need to eat.”
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
J’onn J’onzz could read minds.
J’onn J’onzz could read minds, but ten months ago he had made a decision to stay behind at the DEO headquarters and look through bomb schematics.
J’onn J’onzz could read minds, but he hadn’t been there to read General Lane’s mind.
J’onn J’onzz had failed.
But Cat Grant hadn’t.
Cat Grant couldn’t read minds, but Cat Grant had decided to write an article about nuclear bombs. Cat Grant had collected information about nuclear explosions, and Cat Grant had discovered that the data from an old test was a perfect match to the explosion that had happened ten months ago, the one that had killed Supergirl….
Except it hadn’t.
And it was all so obvious now. It had been General Lane who had developed the bomb, General Lane who had called the DEO, and General Lane who had given them access to the satellite data.
It was General Lane who had Kara, and J’onn J’onzz was not going to fail her again.
Because J’onn J’onzz had finally read someone’s mind, the mind of a young man who had been assigned to General Lane at the time of the explosion, a young man named Sergeant Howards.
Sergeant Howards was a good man, but Sergeant Howards was also a stupid man. Sergeant Howards had led the team that had been waiting in Alaska for Kara’s body to fall, and Sergeant Howards had personally delivered her to a military medical facility just a few hours away from National City.
Sergeant Howards believed that she was there because she needed help. Sergeant Howards believed in Supergirl and in General Lane. Sergeant Howards was a stupid man.
But Sergeant Howards was also the reason why J’onn J’onzz now knew where Kara was, and that information was the reason why he had tricked Alex and Cat into the DEO bunkers and locked them in. Because J’onn J’onzz was about to lead the DEO in for an extraction, and he could not let either of those two women come along.
Because after all of this, he needed to make sure that Kara had something to come back too.
Alex, of course, was a trained agent, but she was also Kara’s sister, and if she came with them in this operation, orders wouldn’t matter, her safety wouldn’t matter, only Kara would matter. And Cat, Cat wasn’t an agent, she couldn’t follow orders. They would have to divert resources to protect her, and she would still be just as reckless at Alex, because all she would be able to see was Kara.
And that attitude would get both of those women killed, and after that… after that it wouldn’t matter if Kara was still alive when they found her.
Alex and Cat were furious at him now, yelling at him through the locked door, but he didn’t care because right now they weren’t important. Only Kara was important.
And so he turned to leave, and they knew they had lost.
“Wait!” He kept walking.
“God damn you, Hank, wait!”
J’onn J’onzz could read minds, and he knew that this ‘wait,’ was different. And so he turned around, and, through the glass window of the door, J’onn J’onzz watched Cat Grant pull off her shirt, and J’ozz J’onzz desperately hoped that when Kara recovered, she would not kill him for seeing that.
“At least take this,” she wasn’t yelling anymore, but pleading, imploring.
“Kara will recognize my smell, it will help, so please…”
“Put it by the door and back away, both of you,” he was cautious, he couldn’t risk them rushing him and getting out. But they did as he asked, because they knew that even if they got out now, he still wouldn’t let them come. And they knew that every moment he had to waste tracking them down, was another moment he wouldn’t be finding Kara.
“There are extra shirts in the closet,” he nodded in the direction, the barracks were well stocked in case people had to stay for any length of time.
He could have told her that he doubted the shirt would mean anything to Kara, not now, not after ten months, but he didn’t have the heart. Him taking it along, pointless as it might be, was the only apology he could offer them both in this moment.
And so J’onn J’onzz took the shirt, and then left the two women behind because he needed them to survive this, because if they didn’t, Kara would never come home.
This was important, this was the only thing that was important. Why did she need to eat? She didn’t care about eating, but she knew that there was a reason why she was supposed too, and that reason was everything.
She had to remember. She had to remember before they took the food away, because once she stopped eating on her own, they would find other ways to keep her alive. And if they did that, then she wouldn’t have the food to remind her anymore…
Remind her of what?
The door to her cell was opening, they were going to see that she hadn’t eaten her food, and they were never going to feed her this way again. They were never again going to push a bowl through that tiny slot in the wall, she was never again going to hear the specific noise that it made, and she was never again going to remember why she had to eat.
“Just once more!”
She wouldn’t remember after this, but maybe, maybe if she could just remember right now, just one more time, this last time before they took her out of her cell and she never saw that bowl again, maybe it would be ok. Because right now, at least, at least she remembered that there was something that she was forgetting, but after this… after this she wouldn’t even remember that.
And so Subject 0 ignored the other people in her cell and kept staring at the bowl. She didn’t even care that she didn’t recognize any of them, they didn’t matter. Only her reason mattered.
A man came over, he was crouching in front of her, not touching, but speaking softly, it was a strange way to speak, she didn’t know people could have voices like that.
But it didn’t matter, she could keep ignoring him because he wasn’t speaking to her. He was looking at her, yes, but he was talking to someone named ‘Kara,’ and that wasn’t her. And that was good, because as long as he wasn’t talking to her, she could keep ignoring him, and focus on trying to remember…
Except that now he was picking her up and carrying her out of her cell.
She had to remember!
He wasn’t taking her down the usual corridor, which was strange, but not important.
Was he… was he taking her outside? Why would he do that? No. No, this wasn’t ok. She needed to go back to her cell and stare at the bowl. She didn’t like it here, there were too many sounds and smells and colors. It was too much. Maybe they would turn up the power on her cuff, just a little bit more so that her senses would dim. But no, they wouldn’t do that, because then her healing would slow down, and they wouldn’t like that.
But now her mind was wondering, and she couldn’t have that. She needed to go back to her cell. There were too many distractions out here, too many things to pull her mind away from her task.
“Stop. Don’t pay attention. Don’t get distracted. Just concentrate. You need to remember. You need to answer the question!”
Ok, this was better. They were back in a small, closed space, a moving space. It was still very loud, and there were still too many colors, but it wasn’t as bad as out there.
Had she really been outside? Should she think about that?
That’s right. It didn’t matter. She just had to block it all out, block out everything and focus. Block out all the colors, the sounds, the smells…
There was a smell in here, it was calling to her. She needed it. Where was it?
Yes, there was a bag on the floor of this new space. There was something in there, something she wanted.
The man, the one that had carried her here, he was looking back and forth between her and the bag. She must have surprised him when she turned her head. She doesn’t normally do that, react like that, react like anything, actually. But normally, normally there isn’t anything she wants… other than to remember her reason.
And now the man is taking something out of the bag and bringing it closer, holding it out to her. And…
“Oh, that’s why…”
It’s a shirt, but she doesn’t care. Does it belong to someone? She doesn’t know. But she wants it. She takes it.
He looks so startled, he probably hadn’t expected her to move that fast. But he won’t have to be surprised for long, she won’t move again.
No. She is going to hold onto this shirt, this smell, and not let anything else in. Because this, this is why she had to eat.
“Because I was waiting.”
“What is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“They’re going to take it again.”
“But they will, it’s what they do, they take things from you.”
“I don’t care. They can’t take this.”
“But they will, they almost did.”
Subject 0 turned away from the man and curled her upper body around the shirt. There. Now they wouldn’t take it. In this position they had access to so many other things they could take instead. Her back was exposed, so were her upper arms, and she made sure to keep her legs free, so only the shirt, her hands, and her chest were covered. Maybe that would be enough. They could take anything else, everything else, but not this.
She wanted this, and she never wanted anything.
“We have her, Kara’s alive, and we’re bringing her home.”
Cat felt numb. Hank’s voice was coming in over the DEO radio transmitter, and she couldn’t feel anything.
When did she sit down? She’d been pacing back and forth for the last several hours, she’d been pacing back and forth for the last several days, actually.
These last few days had been, well, they had been nothing but constant pacing, constant energy, constant anger. Because Kara was alive and someone had her, someone had her again.
And then she had found out that that someone was General Lane, and she had felt like she should have known. She should have known because she had seen him just two months prior at the wedding of his daughter. She had shaken his hand and congratulated him, even though she had wanted to claw his eyes out. But she couldn’t do that, because she was not supposed to know the details of what had happened to Kara, she was not supposed to know of his involvement.
And so she had gritted her teeth and smiled in response to his triumphant smirk, pretending like she didn’t know anything. And, as it turned out, she hadn’t. She had assumed that his look was because he knew that she was exchanging polite conversation and shaking the hand of the man who had killed Supergirl, and he took some sort of sick pleasure in that, in thinking that she didn’t know what he had done.
But the smirk had meant so much more, hadn’t it? Had he seen Kara recently? Had he stood over her and laughed? Had he touched her? Now Cat knew that General Lane had been smirking because he had had her Kara, he was hurting her Kara and Cat had smiled at him. Cat was going to destroy him.
These past few days had all been like that, full of raw emotion and no chance to stop, to realize what all of this meant.
She had been practically living here, in the DEO headquarters, had been for the past four days. Alex had punched the first person who had suggested that Cat should not be there, and after seeing Alex like that, so passionate about something when she hadn’t been that alive in months, after that no one had questioned Cat’s presence.
Carter was with his father and she wasn’t happy about that, but she needed to be here. And Carter was the one who had made the call. Cat had told him that Kara was alive, and that she was going to find her, and Carter had picked up the phone, called his father, and informed the man in no uncertain terms that he was going to be looking after his son for a little while, and that was final. And then her son had hung up the phone and wrapped his arms around her and told her to go, told her to bring Kara home, told her that he would be waiting.
Cat had marveled at him, then, at how strong he had become. She had taken one moment, one precious second to lean into his embrace, and then she had left. That had been her last moment of peace in four days.
And now here she was, locked in the DEO bunkers with Alex, wearing a standard crew cut shirt from the supply closet, and Hank was telling them that Kara was alive, that they had found her.
That Kara was coming home.
And everything had stopped, because what was she supposed to do now? She hadn’t thought about it, about anything past her need to find the younger woman. That need had been so strong, so overpowering, that it had usurped her entire being.
Except now Kara had been found, and Cat had no idea what to do.
What would she be doing right now if Hank had let them come?
“Kara would be in my arms, already,” yes, that was it.
Or was it?
Because would Kara want to be in her arms? Sure, she had given Hank her shirt, it was the only thing she could think of at the time, but would Kara want it? Want any reminder of the woman who had taken ten months to find her? And even if she did, even if Kara found some comfort in the smell, she still might not want Cat to touch her.
Because Cat’s touches were not gentle. They could be, yes, Cat could be soft, but she was never just soft. No, when it came to Kara, there was always something else there, her possessive dominance that demanded a certain level of harsh control.
That Kara had wanted, craved, needed even.
But what about now? Kara had been held for a year as a child, and she had survived. But she had had ten years to recover, to learn that she wanted someone like Cat, someone who would trust in her strength. This time all Kara had was a few hours, three at most, before she would be back here, and Cat could see her, touch her.
And this soon after being taken again, would Kara need gentle? Or would it be like before, when Cat’s possessive behavior had made her feel safe?
When Kara saw her, recognized her, would she draw back? Draw away from the memories of Cat biting her, of Cat digging her nails into Kara’s scars? Would Kara think only of the pain, and not what it had meant for the two of them?
And what if Kara didn’t recognize her? What if Kara...
Those three hours were rapidly dwindling. Time should be standing still, Cat knew, because wasn’t that what it was supposed to do, in a situation like this? Isn’t that what people always said? That when you were waiting for something, time stops moving? They must be wrong. Time doesn’t stop moving, it stops working. Because right now, time wasn’t working properly, it was not moving at its usual pace. Time was broken because it was going by so very fast.
Why was it going by so fast? Why didn’t she have any time to think? Why wouldn’t time give Kara any space?
The door was opening. Hank, Hank was back. Kara was home.
Hank looked drained, as if whatever he had seen in that facility, whatever state he had found Kara in, as if it had taken everything out of him, as if he was barely holding it together.
“Where is she?” And suddenly her doubts were gone and she was standing again. She still didn’t know what she was going to do, but Kara was close, and Cat needed her.
He didn’t speak, he just gestured to them and started walking, knowing that they would follow, knowing that they would come with him even though he was leading them towards something terrible, something that was capable of putting that expression on his face. He led them down several hallways, until finally, he halted just outside of a locked door.
“Kara is in there…”
Alex’s hand was on her shoulder, her fingers gripping too tight, but Cat didn’t care.
“It’s not… she’s not…” but he stopped, obviously unable to find the words, unable to find anything that could explain.
“Open the door, Hank,” the voice was so harsh, so pleading, somehow encompassing the two emotional extremes, and Cat knew that her voice would be the same, if she had spoken instead of Alex.
Hank nodded, and opened the door.
Cat walked through, looking around, but Kara wasn’t in this room. Where was…
She saw it then, a second door, locked, by the look of it, and next to it, a window that looked into another room. A window that looked in on Kara.
Except it wasn’t Kara, because Kara was never so, so nothing.
Cat was in front of the window now, her hands pressed against the glass, staring, almost not breathing. She could see Kara now, and she still didn’t know what to do.
Kara was lying on her side, her hands folded tightly in against her chest, her hair falling across her face. Cat wanted to go brush that hair away. She couldn’t see Kara's face, she couldn’t see what expression she had. But Cat didn’t need to see, not really. She could tell, by the limp way Kara’s body way lying there, that Kara’s face would be blank. Because Kara was always so expressive, her body moving in tandem with her thoughts, her entire presence given away, if you knew how to read her, and Cat did know how to read her.
“When we found her, she was completely unresponsive. She didn’t react at all when I called her name, I don’t think she realized it was her name. She was just lying there. And when I touched her, when I picked her up, she didn’t even flinch, let alone try to draw away, even though I know she didn’t recognize me.”
Hank’s voice was quiet, and Cat wished he would stop. Why wouldn’t she flinch away? Kara didn’t like to be touched by people, by anyone who wasn’t Alex or Cat. And especially not by someone she didn’t recognize. Why was Kara just lying there now? On her side, letting people walk around her?
Because there were people around her, doctors who were checking her over. They had weird, future-tech scanners and, as Cat watched, one of them even touched Kara, wrapping his hand around her foot and moving it slightly so that he could get a better look at the glowing green cuff on her leg.
Cat wanted to kill that man because he was touching Kara, and Kara would be afraid.
Except Kara didn’t react at all.
“Can’t you take that thing off?” Alex sounded furious, but Cat didn’t look away from the woman on the bed to check Alex’s expression.
“No, Alex, you know we can’t. We’ll replace it with something else, soon, maybe around her wrist instead, to signify that it’s different, to show her that something has changed. But you know that we can’t remove the kryptonite restraint. Not right now, not when we can’t trust her to understand what is happening, to be in control.”
“It’s Kara, of course we can trust her, she’s in there!”
“Alex…” why did Hank have to sound so sad?
“When I carried her outside, I thought that there would be something, but there wasn’t. She didn’t look around, or show any emotion. I don’t think she knew she was being rescued, I don’t think she realizes it, even now. And if she does, I don’t think she cares.”
Cat closed her eyes, fighting against his words, picturing Kara’s smile, her laugh, the way Kara would curl up against her at night.
“I was going to tell her that I love her… that’s what I’ll do. I’ll walk in there, brush her hair away, and tell her. And then she’ll look at me, and I’ll see my Kara in there.”
Except when Cat opened her eyes and the reality pushed aside her mental image, she knew she couldn’t say those words, not yet. Because Kara, this Kara, wouldn’t know what they meant. She might understand the individual words, yes, but she wouldn’t understand them.
And now Cat turned her attention to the details, no longer focusing on how still Kara’s body was, but on what it looked like. Kara was dressed in a long, short-sleeved shirt that only covered her upper body and the very tops of her thighs, and Cat was able to see so much. There were scars on Kara’s arms now, and, whereas before the scars on her legs had been confined to the upper regions, now there were more of them, and they extended so much further.
And those were only the scars she could see.
“Kara, what did they do to you?”
As Cat stared, wanting so much to go to Kara, her eyes finally fixed on Kara’s hands, and she saw that the girl had something clutched in them, something she was holding against her chest.
“It’s the only thing she reacted too, Cat, the only thing she cared about.”
“She knows who I am…” it was a whisper, a glimmer of hope.
Cat’s head jerked around and she stared at Hank, how could his voice sound so sure.
“She don’t remember you, Cat, I’m sure of it, she doesn’t remember anything.”
“But my shirt!”
“She knew she wanted it, but I don’t think she knows why, I’m not sure it will be enough.”
Cat growled, actually growled at the man, because of course it would be enough. There was something left, something that remembered Cat, wanted Cat. It would be enough.
“I’ll bring her back, and then I’ll tell her. I’ll tell her when she can understand. I gave up on her once, I will never do that again.”
“It’s enough,” the voice at her side sounded so sad, so shattered, despite the confidence of the words, “it has to be.”
Alex was looking at her now, and Cat knew that the other woman was in too much pain to cry, she knew because she had the exact same feeling.
“Come on, Cat. Kara is waiting.”
Yes. Kara had waited for ten months. It was time for Kara to stop waiting.
Because Kara was alive, and Cat had come for her.
She was in a different place now, lying on something soft, a bed, and she wasn’t strapped down even though there were people around her. Should she be happy about this? Should she think about it?
She doesn’t want to think about it, about any of it. About the fact that she was outside, about the way these voices are so gentle, about the fact that there are people around her who aren’t hurting her right now. No, she doesn’t want to think about it, it doesn’t mean anything.
None of it was important anyway, not enough to justify thinking. Thinking just caused emotions, and she had gotten so good at not having emotions.
“Except I had an emotion, I wanted something.”
Was wanting something an emotion? It was the strongest thing she could feel, the only thing she could feel, did that make it an emotion?
“You should get rid of it.”
“Why? Think of how nice everything will be if you do? You won’t have any thoughts left. Nothing at all. It will be so peaceful.”
“Because I want it.”
“Stop asking me that! You’re always asking why, stop it!”
“You used to like it when I asked questions.”
“Because I knew the answers! Because you needed to know them, too!”
“You’re getting angry. That’s another emotion. See how complicated things are getting? Just let it go.”
She just wanted to go back to her cell, her nice, small, dark cell. Her cell would be perfect now, now that she had this shirt, this scent, now that she had her reason, even if she didn’t understand what it was.
“… are you still there?”
“Of course I am, we’re insane, remember?”
“You’re talking to yourself, of course we are.”
“Oh, right… are you mad at me?”
“Because I won’t let go?”
“But this scent, I want it.”
“I know you do, but I also know that you don’t know why.”
“Because it’s my reason!”
“Can something be a reason if you don’t understand it?”
“You don’t sound too sure.”
“You aren’t sure, are you?”
“But I want it...”
“Is that enough?”
“I don’t… I’m not… what will happen if I do?”
“If you do what?”
“If I let it go?”
“We’ll stop, all of us will stop.”
“It will be so quiet then, won’t it?”
“Is that what you want? To stop?”
The strange people were leaving now, good, one less thing to think about.
“Make up your mind. You have to decide.”
“What if I remember why this is my reason?”
“Do you really want that? If you do, this all starts all over again. If you remember, then you get more emotions. Everything is so nice now. You don’t care about things. If you get your emotions back, you’ll have to face it all over again. You’ll be in pain, again.”
“How do I know if it’s worth it?”
“You don’t. But you have to decide. Right now.”
“Because you’re out of time.”
“You’re distracted. You haven’t noticed. When the door opened to let the people leave, the scent got stronger.”
“And you have to decide before whatever it is, comes through that door.”
“You still want us to stop, don’t you?”
“Yes. Now decide. This could be it. Your last desire. Your last emotion. Your last moment of pain. Do you want to stop?”
“I… I want…”
Hank had pulled everyone else out, not just out of the main room, but out of the observation room as well. He was turning to leave, but Alex called out, stopping him.
Why was Alex doing that? Didn’t she realize that she was delaying them? Didn’t she realize that Kara was waiting?
“Is Kara waiting? Is there enough of her left?”
“Hank, did you find him? Did you find General Lane?”
His expression told them the answer.
“He’s not just going to give up, is he?”
“He’ll know what happened by now, Alex, he won’t be easy to find, but we will. I’m going to get a status update now.”
Cat watched as Alex’s jaw clenched, watched the myriad of emotions that played across the other woman’s face. Alex looked back at the window, at Kara, and there was desire, pain, hope. It was so obvious that she desperately wanted to go through that door, to go to her sister. But she looked away and squared her shoulders instead, turning back to Hank with clear determination.
“I’m coming with you,” Alex took a step away from Kara.
“Alex?” Cat spoke this time, not really believing it.
“Cat, you and I are the only two people with a chance of getting through to her, but if we both go in, she won’t know where to look, and I don’t think she can concentrate on too many things right now. Simple is better,” Alex closed her eyes, her hands curling into fists at her side.
“Kara… Kara doesn’t need me right now. She will, later, but right now, right now she needs you, Cat. I know she loves me, and I know I mean a lot to her, but it’s different, I don’t like it, but it’s true. So go to her, Cat. Go bring her back, and I’ll go with Hank and start hunting down the bastard that did this to her.”
“Alex…” what could Cat say? What could she say when this decision was so obviously tearing her friend apart?
“Go, Cat!” And Alex was pulling away, striding with confident, clear purpose towards Hank. And then she was gone.
And only Cat remained, only Cat and Kara.
So why wasn’t she moving? Kara was there, right here, and Cat wasn’t moving.
“Kara…” she whispered the word, trying to reassure herself. It wasn’t enough, but it didn’t matter. She would go anyway.
“I’ll walk through the door, and she’ll look up. She’ll react. Please, Kara.”
Cat walked through the door.
“I’m here Kara, I’m here now. Please, Kara.”
So why was Kara still just lying there? She must be able to see Cat by now, the door was easily within Kara’s line of sight, even with her hair falling across her face. Her hands around the shirt were still so tight, but Cat was here now, so why wasn’t Kara looking for her? Reaching for her?
Why was Kara continuing to lie perfectly still?
Now Cat was standing next to the bed, next to Kara, and Kara still hadn’t moved. Cat raised her right hand, shifting her gaze from the woman on the bed, to her own appendage.
Her hand was shaking, that wouldn’t do, she couldn’t touch Kara like this, like she was unsure. But she was unsure, she still didn’t know. How was she supposed to touch Kara? Like she was someone soft or like she was Cat? When she moved to brush Kara’s hair back, should she be gentle? Or should she be Cat?
She could just see Kara’s eyes, they were watching her, waiting. Were they empty? Cat had seen so many emotions in those eyes, but with Kara’s hair in the way, all Cat could see was the color, not the expression.
Or lack of one.
So what did Kara need?
“Right now she needs you, Cat.”
Why? Because Cat was different, because Cat gave Kara something that no one else could.
“I’m yours, Cat, nothing can change that.”
Yes, that’s right. Kara didn’t need someone else, Kara needed Cat. Kara needed Cat to be Cat.
Her hand wasn’t shaking anymore, it was time to take back her Kara.
J’onn J’onzz could read minds, but he couldn’t read Kara’s mind.
Technically, he would be able to do it if he increased the level of kryptonite, but he wouldn’t do that. He wasn’t sure there was enough of her left, and if there wasn’t, well, then he would be exposing his own mind to the chaos, and it might destroy him. And if it did, then he wouldn’t be able to help her, or anyone, anymore.
But if he stayed he would be tempted to try it, just to see, to look for her, to ignore the warning bells and read Kara’s mind anyway. And so he had had to leave her to Cat. He would have left her to both Cat and Alex, but Alex had chosen to follow him.
And he had other things to worry about.
Like what he had seen in that building, and the fact that General Lane had not been there, the fact that General Lane was missing, and that General Lane had powerful friends who believed in what the man had been trying to do.
General Lane had been building a super soldier, and there were plenty of people who wanted to see that project finished.
“I want to see the report, Hank,” Alex was saying, “I want you to tell me what you found in there. I need you to tell me everything.”
He wished she wouldn’t ask. He had hoped that maybe, just maybe, she would be able to let the report go, that he wouldn’t have to watch her face as he told her the details. But he should have known better, he did know better. Because he didn’t have to be able to read minds to know what Alex would want.
And so he told her.
Before the team had found Kara, they had found so many other things. There was the operating room, and in there they had caught three scientists, had surprised them as they were preparing for the next test, the next torture.
And he had read their minds. He hadn’t wanted too, but sometimes, sometimes when there were prolonged, intense emotions in one place, that place would begin to reverberate with those emotions, those thoughts. And that operating room had been one such place.
He hadn’t meant to read their minds, but the room did it for him, all the blood and pain and fear in that place resonating with their thoughts, and so he hadn’t been able to stop the images, hadn’t been able to avoid seeing flashes of what they were planning to do, and of how many times they had done it before.
He could have left this out, when he told Alex, but he didn’t. He had kept Alex from coming on the mission, denied her the chance to rescue her sister. And now, now she was staying away because she thought that someone else had a better chance of bringing Kara back. Right now Alex deserved whatever he could give her.
And so he told her what he had seen when he had read their minds, and he watched the anger, the helplessness, burn in her eyes.
The next area they had found had been the storage room, not for equipment, but for bodies, so many bodies. One hundred and twelve bodies, to be exact, and all of them with pieces of Kara.
He had looked at a few of them, read several of the information cards attached to the body bags, but now he wished he hadn’t, because if he hadn’t, then he wouldn’t have to tell Alex what those tags had said. He would have been able to be a coward and send it to her in the report, the one that was being compiled by the group of agents that they had left behind at the facility.
He wouldn’t have to tell Alex about the body with one human hand, and one Kryptonian hand.
There were other rooms after that, rooms with pictures of operations they had performed, rooms with lab results, horrifying lab results, and rooms with people waiting, waiting to be given pieces of Kara.
And then there had been Kara. Kara in her little cell. Kara lying on the floor, not moving. Kara staring at a bowl of food, and not caring about anything else.
J’onn J’onzz could read minds, but in that moment when he had found Kara in that cell, he hadn’t been sure there was anything left to read.
“Yes. Now decide. This could be it. Your last desire. Your last emotion. Your last moment of pain. Do you want to stop?”
“I… I want… I want my reason.”
A woman walked through the door. A woman who smelled like the shirt in her hands. No, that wasn’t right, it was the shirt that smelled like the woman.
How could that be? She had been waiting for a person? That had to be wrong, it had to be, because she was Subject 0, and Subject 0 was not a person.
Subject 0 was not something that a person would come for, not in the way that she wanted them to.
The woman was closer now, looking at her. Subject 0 did not react, she couldn’t. Her reason was a person, not a scent, and she did not understand.
There was a hand, it was moving, coming closer. Should she draw back? No. That was stupid. She never drew back anymore, there was no point. So why was she thinking about it now?
Because this woman was her reason, and this woman made her think.
She didn’t want to think. But now it was too late, because she had made her decision, she had decided to stay.
The hand touched her.
“Everything is going to start hurting so much more now.”
“Was it worth it?”
She looked at the woman, she could see her better now, now that the hair was out of her face. She still didn’t know who this person was, but the hand, when it touched her, it hadn’t just touched her.
The hand had brushed her hair back, and it hadn’t let go. It was tangled in her hair, and it felt so strong, so possessive, like it was never going to let her go, like it was never going to let anyone else touch her. Like this woman was the only one who would ever touch her, ever again.
“My Kara,” the woman was smiling.
Kara? Was that her name? She didn’t think so, other people had been saying it, and she hadn’t thought so. But the other people hadn’t been this woman. And if this woman said it…
She still didn’t remember, didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter. Because this woman was going to keep her safe.
“Was it worth it?”
Kara smiled. Her reason had come for her.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
Kara smiled. Kara smiled and Cat’s heart stopped.
Because her Kara was smiling. It wasn’t much, a slight upturn of the girl’s lips that barely registered as a smile, and it was completely unrecognizable as one of Kara’s trademark grins, but it was there.
Cat’s hand tightened its hold on Kara’s hair in response.
“Kara…” she spoke again, “Kara, do you know who I am?”
Cat almost thought the younger woman wouldn’t respond, that maybe she had put everything into that small smile, and that the girl didn’t have it in her to respond to anything else. But, after a long moment, finally… Kara shook her head no.
Kara didn’t know who she was. But Kara was still smiling.
Cat knelt down, her knees pressed uncomfortably against the hard floor. It wasn’t ideal, but none of this was, and at least here, in position, her face was on a level with Kara’s.
“My name is Cat, do you remember that name?”
Another negative head shake.
She searched Kara’s eyes, looking for any hint of recognition, and found none. But they weren’t blank, almost… Kara’s eyes were almost empty, but there was something there. No, Kara didn’t know who Cat was, but she was not lost, not completely, not irreversibly.
“I’m touching you right now, it that ok?”
This time there was no response, and Cat realized that she had asked the wrong question. Because Kara, right now, this Kara, didn’t understand the concept that someone touching her might not be all right. Because Kara didn’t think she had any say in the matter, any ability to dictate what happened to her.
Because Kara didn’t think that she was a person anymore.
“Do you want me to stop touching you?”
There, that was a better way to phrase it, because Kara had wanted her shirt, Kara could still want things. The new question worked, Kara shook her head again, no, she didn’t want Cat to stop touching her.
Cat shifted her grip slightly, her hand was still woven tightly in Kara’s hair, a grip that the girl should have been immensely familiar with, but she repositioned her hand so that she could brush her thumb lightly over Kara’s cheek.
“Do you understand that I’m not going to hurt you?”
A nod this time.
“Do you understand that I’m not going to let anyone else hurt you?”
“Do you understand that you’re safe?”
A pause, a consideration, and finally, another nod. And Cat felt the world start spinning again. The tears that she hadn’t been able to shed earlier now came rolling down her face, and Cat made no move to stop them.
Kara did though. One of Kara’s hands untangled itself from the shirt pressed against her chest, and slowly, slowly, almost as if she thought Cat might stop her, Kara reached out and brushed her fingertips across Cat’s face. Her expression still hadn’t changed, there was nothing to suggest that she understood who Cat was, or why she was crying, but even so, even so Kara was reaching for Cat, and Cat’s tears fell harder.
Cat leaned into the touch, she wanted to close her eyes and concentrate on just enjoying the feeling of Kara’s hand on her skin, but she didn’t. She couldn’t bring herself to cut off her view of the other woman, not yet, not so soon after she had finally found her again. Cat had been searching for months, she couldn’t look away now.
And so she continued to stare at Kara, at that face that she hadn’t seen in so long, that face she had given up on, that face that, somehow, impossibly, still retained a flicker of life, even after Cat’s hope had died.
“I love you, Kara Zor-El,” she didn’t say it out loud, but the words filled her mind, “someday I’ll tell you, I promise. However long it takes. It’s ok now, Kara. You waited for me, and now it’s my turn. I’ll wait for you.”
Cat shifted to stand up, smoothing her thumb over Kara’s face again when she saw the momentary concern. She couldn’t help but feel some small relief when she saw that. Not because Kara was worried, no, Cat hated that Kara was worried, and that she had caused it. But it was a recognizable emotion, a further glint of something in the girl’s eyes. And Cat knew that this meant Kara was coming back to her, was starting to feel again. It was going to be so painful, for both of them, but Cat would even welcome Kara’s nightmares right now, Cat would welcome anything that showed that Kara was still there, still capable of feeling, still her Kara.
“No, I’m not leaving. I’m going to hold you now, and you are going to sleep. You are going to sleep and let yourself feel safe. And when you wake up, I’m still going to be here.”
Even if the girl couldn’t feel enough right now to have nightmares, Cat doubted that Kara had slept, really slept in months.
The concern vanished, the smile widened, ever so slightly. Cat let go of Kara briefly as she walked around to the other side of the bed, climbing in behind the younger woman. She reached out with a strong, assured grip, pulling Kara around, signaling that Kara should roll over, and when Kara turned, Cat opened her arms, guiding the girl into her body.
Kara didn’t reach out again, didn’t try to wrap her own arms around Cat’s waist, but she relaxed into the hold, closing her eyes when one of Cat’s hand reattached itself to her hair. Cat used her other arm to pull Kara in closer, before closing her fingers over Kara’s upper arm, gripping just a little too tight, just enough that Kara could feel the power in her grasp, just enough that Kara would fall asleep knowing that Cat wasn’t going to let her go.
Cat didn’t need Kara to recognize her right now, Cat just needed this.
It was a nice name, she liked that name. She liked Cat. She liked that Cat had kept her promise, that Cat was still here. Cat had told her to sleep, and she had, because she always listened to Cat.
“How do you know that?”
“That you always listen to Cat, you don’t know who Cat is.”
“It doesn’t matter. Cat has a nice voice. Of course I would listen to that voice.”
Cat didn’t know she was awake yet, should she let her know?
“But I want Cat to talk to me some more, I want to hear her voice.”
“No. Stay like this for longer. If you’re like this, she won’t leave.”
“She won’t leave just because I wake up.”
“Yes she will. She’s going to leave us.”
“She is. When she realizes that we talk to ourselves, she’ll leave.”
“No. Cat will stay.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Cat is touching me.”
“Lots of people touch you.”
“This is different. You know it is.”
“… but if she stays, eventually I’ll go away.”
“Is that what you’re afraid of?”
“I’m not afraid, we don’t get afraid anymore.”
“Yes, I am. But do you see what’s happening to us? We had stopped being afraid.”
“It’s ok. Cat will hold us.”
“But if Cat is holding us, there might not be an ‘us’ anymore.”
“Is that why you’re afraid?”
“Yes, we can’t speak, we don’t remember how. This is all we have. In here.”
“It will be ok.”
“It’s going to hurt, so much.”
“I know. It’s ok. If we can’t speak, we can at least listen to Cat.”
“What’s wrong now?”
“Do you think she’ll miss it?”
“Our voice, will she miss it?”
“I don’t- wait, there’s someone else here!”
Someone new was coming into the room, except, except it wasn’t someone new. She didn’t know the person, another woman, and the scent was different from Cat’s, but it was still… it was still… still something.
Kara opened her eyes and looked at the woman, and she knew that here, in this moment, wrapped in Cat’s arms, and with this other woman standing at her side, Kara knew she had never been more safe.
Kara felt happy.
“That’s another emotion. You’re going to regret it!”
Cat hated that she had to leave Kara, sometimes. That she had to leave the girl because, despite everything, somehow, somehow the world had continued to spin while Kara was supposedly dead. And now, with Kara back but still lost, this same world had found the audacity to keep on spinning regardless of Kara’s ability to go out into it.
Cat would stay with Kara until the world demanded her presence, but eventually, it always did. Because she was still Cat Grant, the Queen of All Media, and she still had a business to run.
But she made sure that she always came back. And Kara, Kara was always waiting.
Except for right now, because Cat had been gone for longer that she had expected, and, looking through the window into Kara’s room, Cat did not see Kara on the bed.
“Kara!” She burst through the door, looking… looking…
Cat had never had a panic attack before, but if she couldn’t find Kara, if Kara was missing…
She had dozed off at work the other day, exhausted from the combined constant emotional drain of the situation, and the physical drain of a long meeting. She had sat down on her sofa, just for a moment, except that it hadn’t been just a moment. As soon as her eyes had closed she had dozed off. And woken up with tears streaming down her face, with her heart pounding, with her lungs gasping for air. Because she had dreamed that Kara was gone.
She had dreamed that they had taken her Kara again, that Kara was screaming for her and she couldn’t find her. Cat had dreamed that her life had been ripped open, again.
“Kara! Where are you? Kara!” There was a sharp edge of panic in her voice.
She heard it then, a rapping sound, someone hitting the floor, getting her attention. Cat sank to her knees, lowering herself to the ground and peered under the bed.
Kara wasn’t gone. No, Kara was under the bed. Kara was under the bed because it was small and dark. Kara was under the bed because it had only been a month, and she hadn’t learned to hate small, dark spaces again, not yet. Kara was under the bed because she still missed her cell.
And with both Cat and Alex gone, Kara had retreated to the closest place she could find that would replicate that environment. Kara was under the bed.
Cat met Kara’s eyes and raised an eyebrow, an expression that brought a smile to the younger woman’s face.
“You realize I don’t get on the floor for just anyone, don’t you?”
Kara nodded, her smile widening. Cat had missed that smile so much. It spread to her eyes now, when Kara smiled. It had taken several weeks to do that.
“Do you want to come out?” There was a moment of indecision on Kara’s face, but Cat could read it, Cat knew what Kara’s dilemma was.
“You want to come to me, but you don’t want to come out, is that it?”
“Alright,” Cat sighed, “I’ll come in there, but you better not tell anyone about this, Kiera.”
Cat’s breath hitched and her eyes widened as she realized what she had just done, that she had just used the wrong name. It had just felt so comfortable, so natural to use it in this situation. But how would Kara…?
But Kara’s smile hadn’t faltered, and she was holding out her hand, and Cat knew that Kara had liked it. Even if Kara didn’t remember it, didn’t remember why, she still recognized that it was something good.
Why? Because it really was a name just for the two of them.
Cat took Kara’s hand and slid under the bed. It was cramped, but not as bad as she had expected, and there was still enough light that she could see Kara’s face, see that smile.
“Hank says I can take you home in a few days. I know it won’t be your home,” they still hadn’t had much luck getting any of Kara’s things back from whatever government bunker they had been shoved in, so there was nothing Cat could do to make it seem more like Kara’s old apartment, “but you were practically living with me anyway. And Alex is going to come stay in the guest room, so we’ll all be there together.”
Kara looked confused now, like she was trying to remember something. Cat had gotten used to that look, used to waiting for Kara to work through whatever she was trying to figure out.
When Kara got that look her eyes would go distant, almost as if she was talking to herself, asking herself a question and trying to figure out the answer. For the first few days, that look would just go on and on, until eventually Kara would come back to reality. But in those instances her expression had remained just as empty, as if she had come back not because she had worked through her problem, but rather, because she had just forgotten what she had been thinking about. As if her mind had drifted too far away, as if she had gotten lost in whatever chaos was in there.
But then, after a few days, there had been a moment, a moment where Kara had drifted off, and had come back with an answer. Cat remembered that moment perfectly. Alex had come in with coffee for Kara, because Kara used to like coffee. But as Kara had held the mug in her hand, she had gotten that look, that searching, considering, look. And then, for the first time since they had found her, she had figured out an answer. Turning, Kara had held the coffee out to Cat, because Kara had remembered that that was what she did with coffee, that she brought it to Cat.
Cat had taken it, more in reflex and surprise, than anything else. Cat had been about to hand it back to the girl, to tell her that it was for her, but Kara had looked so pleased with herself, as much as she could, at any rate, that Cat hadn’t wanted to take that away by suggesting that Kara’s action had been anything less than perfect.
And so Cat had drunk the coffee, and Alex had gone to get another cup.
It didn’t work every time, but more and more now, when Kara reached for something, Cat would see that flash of understanding, and Cat knew that Kara was remembering.
Kara was trying to do that now, but instead of retreating completely into her mind as she normally did, this time she stayed at least semi-present. She held up a hand, the one not in Cat’s grasp, and with one finger raised she pointed to herself, she raised another finger and gestured to Cat, and then added a third finger as she plucked at her shirt.
“She must mean Alex,” it was Alex’s shirt. They didn’t have any of Kara’s old clothes, and Cat was too small, so Alex had brought in some stuff for Kara to wear. They could have just bought new clothes for Kara, but they both knew she would prefer this, prefer clothes that smelled like her sister, to clothes that smelled like strangers from a shopping mall.
Cat didn’t know how she felt about the clothes. They were all dark colors, which just made Kara look incredibly pale and washed out, but more than that, while Alex had brought a selection, Kara continually picked out the clothes that covered her body, choosing long sleeves and pants.
At least she was picking out what to wear herself now, which was something. It had taken time for Kara to do that, to be aware of the concept of choice. And given too many options, Kara would still shut down, retreating into herself until someone else told her what to do. But give her just two options, two options and she could make her own decision.
Still, Cat wished she wouldn’t try to hide herself. She knew Kara wasn’t hiding from her, personally, more, that Kara just liked not being so exposed, but even so… even so Cat wanted to see Kara. Cat wanted to run her hands over every new scar, trace every mark, and show Kara that it was ok.
But now Kara was still thinking, holding up three fingers and thinking. And then Cat saw it, that moment when the girl figured something out. The confusion cleared and Kara slowly held up a fourth finger, looked intently at Cat, and then mouthed the word, ‘Carter.’
Kara remembered Carter.
Cat didn’t realize she was smiling so much until Kara moved her hand to brush Cat’s lips, tracing the smile, a look on her face as if she couldn’t believe that she was responsible for it.
“Yes, Kara, Carter will be there. He’s with his father right now,” here Kara frowned slightly, but Cat tightened her hold on Kara’s hand, “no, it’s ok. Carter has grown a lot over the past year, when you see him, you’re going to be so proud of him. He’s the one that called his father and made the arraignments. You’ll come home first, and once we have you settled in, after a few days, Carter will come home as well.”
Kara started to relax, her frown fading, and Cat continued, “Cater has missed you so much, he’s really looking forward to seeing you.”
All of a sudden Kara tensed, started shaking her head, and trying to shift away from Cat.
“Kara, Kara, what’s wrong?” Cat used her free hand to keep Kara from moving away, “Kara, stop!”
Kara froze, but she didn’t relax. Why? Kara had been fine, Kara had remembered Carter, and been worried about the fact that he was with his father, and not with Cat. So what had changed?
“She put it together, it took a moment, but she put it together. The fact that her seeing Carter, means that he will see her as well, because I said that Carter was looking forward to seeing her.”
“You don’t want Carter to see you like this, do you?” Kara shook her head, not meeting Cat’s gaze.
Cat moved her hand, gripping Kara’s face and lifting her head so that Kara had to meet her eyes, “Kara, it’s going to be alright. I promise.”
Kara still looked unsure.
“How about this then,” Cat slid back, withdrawing her hand from Kara’s face and moving out from under the bed, while still making sure to keep her other hand intertwined with Kara’s.
“I’m going to go away for a bit,” a flash of worry, Kara was thinking she had done something wrong, “no, you didn’t do anything, and I know I just got here, but I’m just going to go talk to Alex for a few minutes. I’ll come back, you know I always come back,” Kara nodded, but the worry was still there.
“And while I’m gone, you’re going to come out from under that bed. You got under there by yourself,” it was actually a good thing, Cat thought, it was a good thing that Kara had moved somewhere on her own, even if it was to hide, “you did that on your own, you can get out by yourself as well. You may not want Carter to see you right now, like this, so change it. You can do that, can’t you, Kiera?”
Cat stressed the name, knowing it would help her, knowing that ‘Kiera’ was a challenge, a deceleration that there was something Kara had to fight back against.
“I still believe in you, Kiera, Kara, I still believe that you aren’t broken.”
Kara stared at her, wavering, and then…
Kara nodded, and let go of Cat’s hand.
It wasn’t until Cat had left, until Cat was walking towards Alex, that she realized that there was something she had missed. She had been so caught up in the fact that Kara had remembered Carter, that she hadn’t even put together that Kara had mouthed his name, not spoken it.
Kara had been quiet all this time, but Cat had just assumed that Kara wasn’t ready to speak yet. But now, now Kara had been ready to say something, and she still hadn’t spoken. Why hadn’t she spoken?
Come to think of it, it was more than just not speaking, because Kara hadn’t just not spoken, no, Kara hadn’t made any sounds at all. All the little noises that people made every day, the considerate hums, the grumbles, the sighs, no, Kara had not made a single one of those sounds. Kara had been completely and utterly silent. How had Cat not realized that before now?
Cat had meant to ask Alex about General Lane, they still hadn’t found him, but when she walked into the conference room and opened her mouth to ask, another question came out.
“Alex, why doesn’t Kara make any noise?”
Alex looked away.
“Alex, tell me.”
They hadn’t let her see the reports, they wouldn’t tell her what they had found in the facility, and she had let that go. Why? Cat did want to know, but more than that, she wanted Kara to be the one to tell her. Cat wanted Kara to share with her what they had done to her, to know that Cat had waited for her to be ready. But this… this she had to know now.
Hank looked between the two of them. It was only the three of them in the room, the three of them and pictures of General Lane, his friends, some maps, and information about the man, anything that might help track him down. Hank took in her serious expression, and then quietly excused himself, leaving the two women alone.
“You’ve seen the scar on her throat?”
Cat nodded, of course she had, but Kara was supposedly completely healed now, physically at least, even if they had damaged her throat in an experiment, it should be fine now.
“You’ve seen how it’s darker than the others?”
Cat nodded again, she had thought that was strange.
“It’s like that because they didn’t make it for an experiment, it wasn’t something they only did once, or a couple of times, even. The only reason she has that scar is because they wanted to keep her quiet.”
Cat didn’t understand, what was Alex saying?
“They cut her vocal chords, Cat, and they did it over and over again. Every day, sometimes multiple times per day. For months. They cut her neck in the exact same place, and did the exact same procedure on her for months on end, just so they wouldn’t have to listen to her scream.”
Cat’s hands balled into fists, her nails cutting into the skin. The scientists were being held in a different building, off-site, but right now she wished they were here. If they were, Alex wouldn’t be the only one with bruised knuckles. Cat hadn’t said anything, when she had seen those bruises, but she and Alex had exchanged a look, a glance that said everything. That said that those scientists were now hurting just a little bit more, and that both of them were very, very glad about that.
“But she’s healed now, isn’t she?”
Alex was shaking her head, “it doesn’t matter. Physically, yes, she should be able to speak, but…”
“Our doctors think that her mind stopped being able to process it, that the synapses in her brain just stopped working. She can’t speak because she doesn’t remember how, the communication lines have been cut, and they might never grow back.”
Cat felt her rage burn. There had been no point to the procedure. Not that there had been a point to any of it, not a justifiable one, that is. But the other things, at least everything else had been done out of some sort of warped vision of scientific progress. It had all been clinical, unemotional. But this… this had been done for no reason other than to be cruel, to hurt Kara.
Cat’s eyes landed on one of the pictures of General Lane.
“Tell me you’re close, tell me you have something,” she spat out the words, knowing Alex would understand that the anger wasn’t directed at her.
When Cat returned to Kara’s room some time later she stopped in the observation area first, and what she saw took her breath away. Kara, her Kara, was standing in the center of the room, arms outstretched, spinning in slow circles, as if to feel how open the space was.
Kara was standing on her own, and she was beautiful.
“Three more days and you can come home with me, Kara,” Cat had promised her that before she had left this morning. Three more days, and she could leave this place, leave the doctors, leave the medical tests, just… just leave.
They wouldn’t take the cuff off of her, she knew, and they were going to embed a tracking device in it, as well as post agents around the building, Cat had explained all that to her, but that was ok. She didn’t care if they were doing all of that to keep her safe, or to keep other people safe from her, because she was going to get to leave this place and go home, whatever that meant.
Cat was mad about the fact that they wouldn’t remove the restraint, and so was Alex, but the cuff had changed, had moved from her leg to her right wrist, and she liked it there. It hid the scar from when they had cut off her hand. And if they took it away… if they took it away and she got scared, she didn’t want to think about that.
“I haven’t gotten scared yet, not really,” and it was true. When she talked to herself, argued about her emotions, when she felt things now, she knew that they weren’t full emotions, just shadows of them. She would feel apprehensive now, but she still wasn’t at the point where she really felt fear, where she felt the need to draw back when the doctors came to look at her.
Why? Well, for one, Cat or Alex were always there with her when other people were around, and she knew that she was safe. But more than that, she still just didn’t feel enough, her emotions were still so muted. But she was getting there, getting closer.
Part of her didn’t want that, because each time she remembered something, each time she figured something out about those women, and about who she had been, those memories felt like they were streaming to her in Technicolor, instead of black and white, with the volume turned up to piercing levels. Each flash made her realize how little she felt right now. Which was why she didn’t want to feel more.
She was having a hard enough time coping with her current level of emotion, her current state of being. And if, when, she gained back more, then she would really have to deal with it, with the pain and fear and all the darkness that she could feel pressing in. She didn’t want it.
Because she liked things the way they were now. She felt safe, and she liked being with Cat and Alex, and that was almost enough.
Except it wasn’t.
It wasn’t enough because there were things that she did want. Cat. She wanted Cat.
She could remember more, now. Her mind was still so hazy, but she remembered that she wanted Cat, needed Cat, even if she couldn’t quite figure it out, couldn’t quite understand why. She felt like there was something good, some powerful emotion, some emotion that would make all the other ones bearable, if she could just remember how to feel it.
“When we feel it, will we stop being insane?”
“I don’t know.”
“Because we are, you know, we are still insane, even if we don’t talk as much as we used to.”
“Do they know it? Does Cat?”
“She knows we’re not right, she probably knows it better than we do, because she remembers us before.”
“But does she know that we talk to ourselves?"
“I don’t know, why don’t you ask her?”
“That’s mean, don’t be like that, you know we can’t.”
“Maybe I’m mean, now. Maybe we’re mean.”
“Were we nice, before?”
“We must have been.”
“Because of Cat, and Alex, and Carter.”
“Carter… I’m glad we remembered him.”
“Cat is letting us see him.”
“I know. So we can’t be mean.”
“But it’s easier.”
“I don’t care. We’re insane, we don’t do easy.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“We’re insane, we don’t make sense.”
“Does Cat not realize that we’re dangerous? That we could hurt him?”
“We promised we wouldn’t.”
“We did? I don’t remember that?”
“I don’t either, but I know we did.”
“And Cat trusts that?”
“Cat believes in us. Cat believes that her Kara is in here.”
“I don’t know.”
“But we like it, don’t we? Being ‘her Kara,’ belonging to Cat?”
“Yes, yes we do.”
"Even though we don’t understand it?”
“It makes us feel safe, isn’t that enough?”
“You know it isn’t. If it was, you wouldn’t want to find out what we’re missing. If it was enough, you would be ok with staying this way.”
“You’re right. But I think it might be worth it.”
She was thinking about that, about Cat, when the door opened.
And then Kara forgot about Cat, because suddenly, suddenly she remembered how to feel.
Kara remembered what it was to be afraid.
The man who entered wasn’t human, but it didn’t matter, because he was covered in the scent of someone who was, someone, someone Kara was terrified of.
She had frozen when he had entered, but now, now he was reaching for her, moving into the center of the room towards her, and she ran.
She dodged around him, moving for the door, and ran.
And then she was in a second room, and then a hallway, and then another, and another, and with each turn, each step, her terror grew. Because that person was behind her, and all around her… all around her were unfamiliar humans and Kara had just remembered how to be truly afraid.
She ran away from it all, blindly, not even relying on her senses anymore, just running. It was a mistake. She ran into a room, a large room, and there were people everywhere. She tried to stop, to turn, to run the other way, but the man appeared. He was cutting off her escape, and she had nowhere to go.
Another door, she ran for it.
She ran for it and stopped dead. Because now she was in a room and his face was all around her. The face of that man, that man who had started all of the pain. He was looking at her from every direction, his picture… except his picture was stepping out of the two dimensional space now, was coming towards her, all around her, that face was closing in, reaching for her, laughing, taunting…
“Make it stop!”
“I told you, I warned you everything would start hurting more.”
“Make it stop!”
She was on the floor now, curled into a tight ball, hands over her head, trying to make it all go away.
“I want it to stop! Make it stop! Please, please, make it stop!”
“You can’t. Not now. It’s too late. I warned you, and you didn’t listen.”
People were shouting now, but she didn’t know what they were saying. They were probably yelling at her, she had made them mad, they were going to hurt her for that. She curled herself tighter.
There were too many sounds and smells for her brain to process, it was too much, it was all just too much. Now there were hands on her, people were touching her, and they were going to hurt her.
“MAKE IT STOP!”
Cat was in a meeting when she got the call, and she didn’t even bother to make her excuses. As soon as her phone went off she bolted, not caring how she looked, not caring about the fact that this meeting had taken two weeks to schedule, not caring about anything except for the call. Because Alex was the one calling her, and Alex would only be calling her right now if something was wrong.
“Kara?” The name was a question, a demand to know what had happened, not an expectation that the girl was on the other end of the line.
“Clark showed up,” the voice was angry, “he just busted through the locks and got in to see her before we could stop him. You need to get here. Now.”
Cat didn’t bother to answer, already hanging up the phone and heading to her car. She had started driving herself, over the past month. She couldn’t have a driver take her to the DEO, and she didn’t want to have to hunt down a car in an emergency, and now was definitely an emergency.
All because Cark fucking superhero Kent had decided that he knew best, and that he should ignore their express directions to stay away.
He had argued with them, told them that Kara would want to see him, that she wouldn’t want to be surrounded by humans, but they had told him no. Because Clark Kent was married to Lois Lane. And if Cat’s son and mother smelled like her, than Lois would smell like her father.
Clark had argued back, said that he would shower first, said that the trace of her scent on him, from their constant proximity, wouldn’t be that bad. He had argued that Kara knew that scent, that Kara had met Lois, and that Kara would know the difference.
But Clark had never been there for Kara, not really, and so he couldn’t possibly understand that Kara, as she was now, wouldn’t know the difference.
He had been a young man when she was a child, when he had found her, and he hadn’t been ready for the responsibility of dealing with a traumatized young, alien girl. Because to him, Kara was an alien. Genetically they were the same species, yes, but in every other way, every way that mattered, he was human, and she was something else. He had sent her away because, even though he was a superhero, he had grown up with powers, and he had never been just another person, he had never had to learn what it was to have to struggle. And so he had fostered her off to the Danvers, and he had never had to deal with the aftermath of that first year, not really.
But he had seen that she had survived without losing herself. And he had argued that this time, this time it had only been ten months, not a year. As if ‘only’ was a concept that could ever hope to quantify those ten months. He didn’t understand that it had been worse this time. Cat didn’t need the reports to tell her that, she could see in in the scars, she could see it each time she looked at Kara, and a not Kara, an almost Kara, looked back.
And even if it hadn’t been worst, even if it had been the same, or easier, even if it had only been a day, how dare, how dare he, ever suggest that it was anything less than horrifying, anything less than an event which would demand full support, full protection, full love.
They had told Cark Kent to stay away. And he had come anyway.
Lucy had understood. Lucy hadn’t known that Kara was Supergirl, not until she had disappeared, but James had told her, then, after. Cat and Lucy had never talked about it, in those ten months, even though they saw each other in the office, even though they both knew that Lucy’s father had been the one to send Kara off with the bomb, because Lucy, with her background with the military, had found that information out on her own. But Cat had talked to Lucy after Kara had come home.
It had been a phone conversation. Cat hadn’t wanted to risk being in the same room with the woman. They worked together, yes, but they didn’t live together, they didn’t see each other every day, and so Cat had known that Lucy’s smell wouldn’t be on her, not in the same way Lois’s smell was on Clark. But still, still she hadn’t wanted to risk it, not after Kara was finally back. She hadn’t wanted to stand next to Lucy and then go see Kara. Yes, Kara’s senses were dulled by the kryptonite restraint, but not enough, not enough that Cat could have had that conversation face to face.
But she had had to talk to Lucy, to find out about her father, find out any information she had on the man. Any Lucy…
Lucy had been devastated.
How do you tell someone that their father had spent the past ten months torturing a friend? That their father had been involved with that same friend’s original torture ten years ago, when she was only a child? How do you tell someone that they couldn’t come see their friend, because their very presence would terrify said person, that that person might never be able to look at them without feeling that terror, ever again?
Cat had felt bad about having such a conversation over the phone, but not bad enough to risk Kara.
And Lucy had understood. Well, ‘understood’ might not be the right word, because how do you understand something like that? But Lucy had done her best. Because Lucy had realized, when Cat told her that, for the foreseeable future at least, they couldn’t take any meetings together, Lucy had realized that it was for the best. Lucy had been willing to sacrifice her own feelings, to push aside her own horror at what had happened, and acknowledge that it was Kara who was the most important, the only important person in this situation. Because Lucy was the sister with the looks, and the brains.
But Lois… when Cat had called Lois and Clark, things had gone much differently. Because Clark was Superman, and Clark had always known what was best. And Lois… Lois was convinced that her man could do no wrong. Lois was utterly offended when she heard the reason why Clark had to stay away, putting her own feelings before Kara. The conversation had gone downhill from there, but ultimately, ultimately Cat had forced Clark to stand down. Because she was Cat Grant, and superhero or no, Clark never had a hope of winning against her in any open confrontation, especially not when it came to Kara.
Which was why Clark hadn’t had a confrontation this time. Why he had waited until she was at work, why he had shown up at the DEO without any warning, and why he had gone straight to Kara and broken his way through the doors, rather than wait for someone to tell him no.
Because Clark fucking superhero Kent didn’t have any idea, and because Clark fucking superhero Kent had never been wrong.
Cat had promised to burn down the world, if that was what was needed to get Kara back, but she hadn’t gotten her chance yet. Her chance to fight anyone, to take out her anger. But if that man was still there when she got back, she was going to find a kryptonite dagger, and destroy him. Cat had been saving that anger for when they found General Lane, but Superman could have a taste, Superman could go to hell.
Cat pulled up to the DEO, and went to look for her Kara.
When she found her, Kara was curled in a tight ball on the floor of the conference room, the one with all the pictures of General Lane. Except that now, at least, those pictures had all been pulled down and taken away.
Cat and Alex were standing in the doorway of that room now, looking in but not approaching, gauging the situation.
“Someone tried to move her,” Alex explained, her eyes filled with anxiety, “but Hank pulled them off. We took the pictures down and got out of there.”
“Did you…?” It was taking everything Cat had to keep her voice steady. Because Kara hadn’t just run, no, Kara had run, and Clark had chased her, and Kara had ended up in this room, surrounded by General Lane.
“I tried. I didn’t touch her, but I tried talking to her,” Alex shook her head, “she didn’t hear me, Cat, I think she’s trapped in a waking nightmare right now, and I can’t help her.”
Cat nodded, her eyes never leaving the girl on the floor. She had wanted to be there, meant to be there, when Kara remembered, truly remembered, how to feel. Her first real emotion wasn’t supposed to be this, it was supposed to be something else, something better, not this.
“I’m going to go to her,” Cat took a step forward. Alex gave her shoulder a quick squeeze, and Cat could feel the other woman’s anger, her helplessness, her fear. But also her reassurance and faith, faith that Cat could do what she couldn’t. And then Alex was backing away, and Cat took another step towards the girl on the floor.
In her mind, she was screaming.
She was screaming soundlessly in the only way she knew how, trying to drown out everything else. It worked, a little bit, not enough to calm her down, but enough to drive back all the other people, the people touching her, moving around her, speaking to her.
So why wasn’t it working now?
Why was that voice breaking through? She didn’t want it to break through, she didn’t want anything to break through.
And she couldn’t stop herself, she looked up, just so she could tell the person to stop speaking, to go away. Even if she couldn’t make a sound, even if they wouldn’t be able to hear her thoughts yelling at them, it didn’t matter. She had to make the person to be quiet and let her concentrate on her screaming.
Except that the moment she looked up, the moment she let her hands fall away from her body so that she could raise her head, the screaming in her mind stopped.
Because the monsters were gone. The monsters were gone and all that remained was this woman, this Cat.
Because Cat had made a promise.
And Kara had just remembered how to feel.
Kara surged forward, knocking Cat from her crouch in front of her and pushing the other woman to the floor, crashing their lips together before Cat could make any sort of surprised sound at the movement.
And then there were hands on her, hands gripping her hair, hands running down her back, hands flipping her over so that her body was covered by this other person. Hands holding her as the kiss ended and she began to sob, her body shaking, even as she was still completely silent.
This woman, this Cat, was everywhere, all around her, on top of her, and she was safe.
They lay like that for a long time, and when her tears finally stopped, when she looked at Cat again, she knew who Cat was, understood who Cat was.
And Cat knew it too, Cat could see it in her eyes, the fact that Kara had remembered. When Cat kissed her again, for a second time, this time it wasn’t desperate, wasn’t frenzied, this time it was slow, purposeful.
Cat kissed her and Kara melted into the movement, letting Cat take control, letting Cat take away her fear, her pain, letting Cat take everything. And when Cat finally ended the kiss she didn’t pull away, choosing instead to lean her forehead against Kara’s, her hands still holding the younger girl in a grip that wouldn’t let go. Because Kara belonged to Cat, and Cat was never going to let go again.
“I’m going to take you home now, Kara. I don’t care if Hank said to wait a few more days. You’re going to come home with Alex and me right now. Do you understand?”
Kara had just remembered how to feel, and Kara wanted to go home.
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
Hank wasn’t happy about it, but he agreed. It wasn’t exactly as if he could stand up to Cat Grant, let alone Cat Grant and Alex Danvers at the same time, anyway. At least, not without locking them up in the bunkers again, which would very likely be the last thing he ever did.
And so Cat was finally going to get to take Kara home. The DEO doctors were just doing one final check of the girl, while Alex was attaching the tracking device to the kryptonite cuff, and then they could leave.
Except that there was something that Cat needed to do first, because Clark was indeed still in the building, and she needed to see him before they left, before he left.
She waited until the doctors had backed out, because this time, when the people who weren’t Alex or Cat had approached her, this time Kara had drawn back reflexively, and Cat wasn’t about to leave her side, let alone remove her hand from Kara’s arm, until everyone else was gone. Once the doctors finished, however, Cat pulled Alex aside, and, after a quick reassurance to Kara that she would be right back, Cat drew Alex out of the room.
“Where is he?”
Alex didn’t need to ask who she meant, and Cat knew the building well enough by now that the simple directions she received from the other woman were more than enough.
“Stay with her, I’ll be right back, and then we can go,” Alex nodded, and made no move to stop Cat as the older woman grabbed her gun, pulled it from the holster at Alex’s hip, and headed off down the hallway.
Two minutes later, Clark Kent found himself subject to the full wrath of a Cat Grant glare, which, even from across the room, as close as Cat would allow herself to get to the man, was still enough to make him take an involuntary step back.
“Stay away from her,” she snarled, before raising the gun and emptying the entire clip into his chest. It wouldn’t hurt him, of course, but Cat didn’t care. She kept pulling the trigger even after the gun had stopped firing, holding his gaze until he was the one to look away. Until Clark fucking superhero Kent looked away from Cat Grant, admitting that he had been wrong.
She didn’t stay after that, didn’t say anything else, she didn’t need to. Any additional attention would have been superfluous, it might have even undercut the impact of her rage. And so Cat just left him there, making it very clear that he wasn’t worth any more of her time, and that he could wallow in the knowledge that he had messed up, without expecting any more consideration from her.
When she handed the gun back to Alex several minutes later, Alex didn’t even bat an eye at the empty clip, she simply nodded coolly, and went about reloading her gun.
Cat felt her anger start to ebb away as she crossed to Kara, who was still sitting on the bed. She ran her hands through the girl’s hair, and, applying slight pressure to her chin, she lifted Kara’s face towards hers, before leaning down and planting a kiss on Kara’s lips. It wasn’t tender, not exactly, but the firm pressure gave something more, something tangible.
Pulling away, she looked into those blue eyes, letting the expression, the recognition in them, roll over her and push aside the rest of her anger. Her hand drifted down, closing over Kara’s neck, fingers splayed so that she held the girl in her power, able to feel her pulse, her breath, her life. Cat focused on just feeling Kara though that grip, reassuring herself that Kara really was there, that she was really alive. Kara may have been back for a month, now, but Cat still needed to feel her. Cat still needed to hold on.
“I had something to take care of, Kara, but that’s over now.”
Kara closed her eyes and leaned forward slightly to increase the pressure at her throat, to increase the feel of Cat’s hand holding her. Cat ran her other hand one more time through Kara’s hair and down her face, before shifting to reach for the girl’s hand. Stepping back, she pulled Kara from the table.
“Let’s go home.”
It had felt so strange, drawing away from the doctors as they did their final examination of her. When was the last time, the episode with her cousin aside, that she had drawn away from anyone?
She tried to remember it now, the last time she had felt enough to flinch away. But her head was buzzing, and she couldn’t concentrate enough to remember.
Her mind was no longer muted, it wasn’t clear, by any means, there was still so much to put back together, but she could feel again. And every little thing was sending a spike of raw emotion through her body, overwhelming her mind.
“If Cat wasn’t here, if Cat wasn’t touching us, would we be able to think right now?”
“No, if Cat wasn’t touching us, we’d be screaming again.”
And it was true. Each time someone came near her, held up a scanner, asked to touch her, each time these actions were accompanied by another jolt of fear, of panic. And, after so long not being able to feel, each moment felt like she was drowning under a torrent of emotion, a mental cacophony that was vibrating her mind apart. But Cat’s hand was on her arm, and Kara remembered that grip. Kara remembered the two years of feeling that same hold on her body, and it gave her something to latch onto.
Remembering what Cat meant to her had been… it had been something that had almost destroyed her. The little flashes of memory that she had received up until this point had been a precursor, but nothing compared to the all-encompassing experience of understanding why Cat made her feel safe. Of understanding that she didn’t just like being with Cat. Of understanding that she loved Cat, that she even knew what love was.
Because Cat had the ability to push back her darkness, and if that darkness was strong enough to drag her mind into chaos, what she felt for Cat, that was strong enough to rip her apart.
And yet, somehow, Cat’s presence was still centering her.
“You’re not making sense again.”
“I don’t like it.”
“Not making sense? Or loving Cat?”
“I’m not sure. How can she keep us stable, when it’s so powerful, that remembering how to feel it completely overwhelms everything else about us?”
“Cat’s a contradiction.”
“Exactly, contradictions should naturally lead to more noise, more chaos.”
“Maybe that’s why it works for us, though.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We’re a contradiction, too. We argue all the time, and call ourselves an ‘us,’ but really, we’re both ‘I.’”
“So it works because of the cracks?”
“Yes. Everything about us is cracked right now. The other things, the fear, the pain, those spread the cracks. But Cat, Cat navigates them, Cat fills them in.”
“So without the cracks, without somewhere to go, it would have been too much?”
“To feel all at once, yes.”
“We have a lot of cracks.”
“We do, but just cracks.”
“Yes. Because we promised Cat, remember? We promised Cat that no human could ever break us.”
“I do. I remember that. I remember saying that. I remember meaning it.”
It was dark by the time they were finally allowed to leave. Cat and Alex had apologized for that, as if it was their fault that the final examination had taken so long, as if she would be upset by the lack of sunlight, but Kara didn’t care. They thought that she would want to see the sun, want to feel it on her skin, but they were wrong.
Kara was glad that it was dark, she didn’t want to see the sun.
Objectively, she knew that there was a difference between the feeling of the real sun and artificial sunlight, but it was a minor thing, and not something that she could easily differentiate at her current power level. And so Kara was glad that she left the DEO to the moon and the starlight, because sunlight, right now, only meant one thing.
Sunlight meant that an experiment was starting, and that the scientists wanted to make sure that she had enough power to survive it.
The relief of walking out into a dark world was enough to get her back to Cat’s apartment without crumbling under all the new stimuli around her. Alex was driving, and Cat was in the back with her, but even so, she spent most of the car ride with her body curled into a tight ball, eyes squeezed shut, and her hands over her ears, trying to shut out all the noise and lights of the city.
Cat didn’t try to pull her out of it, this time, knowing that Kara was just adjusting to all the new sensations, rather than being consumed by them. And so Cat just let her feel, keeping in constant physical contact to provide a counterpoint to the stimuli of the city, but not attempting to distract Kara, or change her focus.
It was working, too. The tight grip in her hair, the hand that was absently tracing the patterns of her old scars through her clothes, the scars Cat had memorized all those months ago, they were just enough to hold her steady, to give her an anchor. It enabled her to reach out, grasp onto a sound, or smell, or those flashes of light that her closed eyelids couldn’t quite block out, and begin to sort through the mass of information.
By the time they reached Cat’s apartment Kara had managed to draw her hands away from her ears, and, for the last minute or so, she had actually opened her eyes and watched the lights of the passing cars.
And then they were at Cat’s apartment, her apartment. That’s what Cat had said, at least. It was her home now, too. She liked that, that she could think of this place as home. It wasn’t the place itself, not really, it was the fact that it was Cat’s home, that it was Cat’s home, and Alex was going to be living with them for a while, and Carter would be coming back in a few days.
The location didn’t matter, Kara was just glad not to be alone, not to be lost in her cell, anymore.
“But we miss our cell.”
Cat didn’t sleep that night. It was a Friday and she didn’t need to be anywhere the next day, but even if it had been another day, she still wouldn’t have slept.
Because Kara could finally feel enough to dream again, and Cat needed to be awake for that.
Alex obviously had had the same thought, and after the third time Alex had peaked into the room, Cat had just waved her over, so that when Kara did start to pull away, when the nightmares came, both of them would be there to wake her up.
It worried her, worried both of them, the thought that if they fell asleep they might not wake up when Kara needed them. She had always woken up to Kara’s nightmares before because of the pained sounds that the girl would make. But Kara wouldn’t be making those sounds anymore, and Cat was afraid that Kara would be lost in her memories, and Cat wouldn’t wake up to save her.
She needn’t have worried, however, because when the nightmares did come, there was no way that Cat could have slept through them. Kara’s old nightmares, the ones that Cat had been there for, at least, had often caused the girl to pull away, but in such a manner that it wasn’t apparent, until Cat woke up, that the girl had left her side. Now, however, while Kara’s limbs remained motionless, the restraints in her dreams holding power over her physical form, the rest of her body reacted so violently, and so suddenly, that Cat was almost knocked from the bed.
From one heartbeat to the next, a peaceful, relaxed Kara, transformed into a mass of painful energy as her body lurched away from Cat, her back arching even as her mouth opened in a silent scream. A scream that kept on going.
Because Kara wouldn’t wake up.
Cat had been worried about not waking up herself, but it was Kara, Kara who wouldn’t come back to reality. The memories were still too fresh, too real, and so the feeling of Cat and Alex’s hands on her skin melted into the dream hands of the scientists.
Would it be easier? Cat wondered as she desperately called Kara’s name. Would it be easier if she could hear Kara’s screams?
As wrong as that sounded, there was something about it that would almost have made this more real, made it something that she could figure out how to deal with. But the silent screams, they cut Kara off, there was no sound to transverse the realm between Kara’s mind and reality. Nothing that Cat could hold onto, nothing that could make Cat feel as if she was there with Kara. Because Kara was stuck completely inside her head, and not even her voice could escape.
It took nearly five minutes to draw her out, five minutes of watching Kara scream. But finally, finally she responded to their efforts. And this time, when Cat was faced with the terror in Kara’s eyes in those first few moments before Kara recognized her, Cat felt only relief. She could handle a few seconds of Kara being afraid of her, as long as Kara just woke up and stopped those terrible, heart wrenching, silent screams.
Cat could handle anything Kara threw at her, as long as she would just stop screaming, as long as Cat didn’t have to watch her relive those past ten months, anymore.
The next week flew by in a haze of exhaustion. After that first evening Cat and Alex didn’t try to stay awake all night again, they physically couldn’t, but even so, they were all waking up every night, and staying awake for at least an hour, normally more. Alex returned to her own room after three nights, but the doors remained open, and Cat would always call out for her as soon as Kara’s nightmares began.
And Kara… Kara’s smile had disappeared again. She would try to smile for them, Cat knew, but Cat could tell the difference.
Part of her was even glad that the smiles had stopped, because those smiles, the ones Kara had given her over the past month, each one had been just a mirage. They had meant something, meant that her Kara was still inside, and for that Cat had been grateful, but they had also been innocent, lacking any true understanding or weight. Kara had smiled at Cat because she had been happy in the way that a young child could be happy, a way that existed regardless of the world or anything outside of a single moment.
It had given Cat hope, especially when those smiles had started to reach Kara’s eyes, but even then, Cat had known that they were born by limited emotions, limited means. Now Kara had stopped smiling like that because she had lost that innocence, that ability to feel only one thing at a time. Now Kara’s nightmares were back, and she couldn’t be simply happy anymore, but at least, at least Cat knew that the next time Kara smiled, and not the mechanical attempts she was trying to pull now, but the next time Kara truly smiled, it would be real.
As Cat waited for Kara’s real smile to come back, she struggled to comprehend the way Kara’s mind worked now. Kara would do things, things Cat didn’t understand, but wouldn’t try to interrupt, knowing that Kara was still trying to figure things out, to put her mind back in order.
Cat had come home one day after work to find that Kara had pulled every single bowl out of her kitchen cabinets. Kara was sitting on the floor with the bowls spread out around her in a circle, and, as Cat watched, Kara picked up each one in turn, examining it closely, before setting it down again in a clear sign of rejection. Whatever bowl Kara was looking for, however, wasn’t there, but Kara just kept looking anyway, picking up the same ones over and over again.
She had tried to ask Kara what she was looking for, but Kara had only shaken her head, and kept on going.
Another time Cat had tried to get Kara to come out onto the balcony with her, to feel the sunlight. Kara had backed away so quickly that Cat had actually started to worry that she had hurt the younger woman in some way. That was how she found out that Kara didn’t like the sun anymore, that all those times she had done her work out on the balcony at CatCo, just to see Kara enjoy the atmosphere, all those moments had been tainted by harsher memories.
And Kara couldn’t tell her why. Cat knew why, of course, but she still wished that Kara would tell her anyway.
It was hard getting answers from her. They had tried giving her pens and paper, but Kara never moved to pick them up. Cat had taken to leaving notepads around, so that from almost anywhere in the apartment you could find a writing implement within a few seconds. Even if Kara wasn’t showing any interest in such communication now, she wanted to make sure that if something did come to her, that the girl would be able to write it down before the mood passed.
Things continued that way for the first week. Kara was home now, but there was still so much of her that was missing. Cat could feel it in her chest, the pain, the longing, the need for the other woman. There were so many little details about Kara that were just slightly out of place. And Cat, Cat could run a media empire, Cat could raise a wonderful son, Cat could hold Kara through her nightmares, but Cat couldn’t erase that pain, not completely. But, of course, she was still Cat Grant, and Kara was still her Kara, and Cat was never going to give up.
The first breakthrough didn’t come until the end of that first week.
Cat came home early, Carter was expected back the next day, and she wanted to get some things ready, but when she got home, Kara didn’t greet her at the door. She felt her heart rate spike, fuelled by a sudden, initial stab of fear, worry that Kara was missing, but she pushed it aside. She constantly monitored the tracking device every time she was away, and she knew Kara was still in the apartment.
Cat had felt a little strange about that, at first, the idea of putting a tracking device on Kara, but after that first day away, when both she and Alex had left for work, she had had to admit that she was glad that the device was there. Kara wasn’t supposed to leave the apartment, but just in case she did, whether on her own, or because someone else was trying to make her, that little red dot would let Cat know. And Cat never would have made it through a full day, let alone an hour, even, without that blinking light on her phone telling her that Kara was still at home, still safe, still, not missing.
And so instead of giving into the panic that rose up the moment Kara wasn’t at the door, Cat took several deep, calming breaths, and started walking through the apartment, looking for the girl. She had to struggle to keep her pace even, her breathing normal, especially as she moved deeper into the building, and still came up empty. This walk reminded her so much of that day she had come home from Metropolis to find Alex in her apartment, of her search for Kara, of her continued assertion that Kara had to be somewhere, and of how hard she had tried to ignore the sound of Alex calling her name.
Despite her attempts to remain calm, however, the urge to panic was just so strong, and she felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes. She needed to find Kara. She needed to see her, touch her. She just, she just needed Kara.
Only when she heard the shower running, coming from the bathroom that adjourned their bedroom, only then did the tightness in her chest begin to lessen, but it refused to fade completely until she opened the door and saw Kara, saw that Kara wasn’t gone.
The relief at finding Kara still there, however, quickly gave way to concern as she took in the situation. Kara was standing in the shower, fully clothed, not moving. She didn’t even raise her head to give any indication that she was aware of Cat’s presence.
When Cat drew closer she noticed that the hot water was turned all the way up, but when she reached out a hand to touch Kara, the water she encountered was ice cold. And Kara still hadn’t moved.
Shutting off the water, Cat had taken the girl’s hand then, thankful that at least Kara was allowing herself to be pulled out of the shower and into the bedroom, even if she continued to stare blankly, her movement more a lack of resistance, than actual compliance.
Cat moved slowly, stripping away the damp clothes, letting them fall to the floor as her eyes moved across Kara’s form. This was the first time she was really seeing Kara, seeing the new scars. It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen them, yet, but when Kara had first come back, she had followed directions to change, but done it in such a methodical, steady manner, that Cat hadn’t really had a chance to absorb the changes. And, after Kara had started to change on her own, without being given direction, her changes had sped up, and she had adjusted her movements to keep as much of herself covered as possible.
But now, now Kara was just standing there, letting Cat remove her clothes, letting Cat see.
As the last item of clothing fell to the floor, Kara finally looked at her, and Cat could see the pain in her eyes. Cat met that gaze, and then, instead of moving to hand Kara dry clothes, she reached out to touch her instead, breaking the eye contact to take in, to really see for the first time, what they had done to her.
She started with the old scars, moving her hands over them, tracing the familiar patterns, noticing which ones were darker now, which ones had been opened up again. When she was done with those, then, and only then, did she move on to the new ones, committing each fresh mark to memory.
There were so many of them, so many old scars that had become darker, so many new scars that she hadn’t seen before.
There was one scar she couldn’t reach, couldn’t see, but she knew it was there, under the cuff on Kara’s right wrist. She remembered it from when she had held Kara, that first day, when the restraint was still on her leg. She wished she could see it again, trace it like she was the others, even as she also hated the fact that she could guess what had caused it.
She wanted to feel angry, in this moment, and she vaguely remembered that first time, more than a year ago, that first time she had seen Kara’s body. She had been so angry, even if she had hidden it, but now, now although she still had that anger, and she knew it would hit her later, right now she didn’t have room in her mind to concentrate on that anger.
Cat was so focused on Kara, on learning each new mark, that she wasn’t even processing them as scars. Cat was simply seeing Kara, seeing the changes, and accepting them, helping Kara to accept them.
When she was finally done she stepped in close, pulling Kara into her body and wrapping her arms around the younger woman. Kara made no move to respond, but she didn’t try to back away, or end the embrace, the only sign that she was even present in the moment coming when the girl lowered her head, resting her forehead against Cat’s shoulder.
They stood like that for a while, just being there together. It didn’t matter that Kara was still naked, that Cat was still clothed. They just needed to feel each other, for Kara to feel something against her body that wasn’t pain, for Cat to feel Kara’s body pressed protectively, securely, against her own.
When Cat finally pulled away, reaching up to brush the damp hair out of Kara’s face, when she looked at Kara this time, there was an almost smile on her face, and Cat knew that something had changed. It was small, perhaps, but she wondered, now, how many days had Kara done that, how many days Kara had stood in the shower, fully clothed, for hours, while she and Alex were away at work. But Cat’s touch, her slow, meticulous exploration, had done something that the water could never do. The water could never wash away those scars, but Cat, Cat could help Kara reclaim them.
Meeting Kara’s eyes, Cat took several moments to make sure that the girl was there, was present, and not off in her mind somewhere. Cat had gotten better, over the past weeks, at telling when Kara was paying attention and when she was somewhere else. And now, seeing the clear gaze that assured her that Kara was fully focused on her, Cat finally spoke.
“I love you, Kara Zor-El.”
She had waited so long to say that, to say those words. For months after Kara had disappeared she had continued to practice the alien tongue. She had said it to herself so many times by now, that there was no longer any residual strangeness about the language.
Kara’s eyes widened, her mouth opening slightly, and her gaze shifted to stare at Cat’s lips, almost as if she was questioning whether or not she had actually heard those words, spoken in her native language.
“I love you, Kara.”
Cat spoke again, repeating the phrase, even as her hands tightened their hold on the girl in her arms.
Kara tried then, really tried. Cat could see her focusing, her mouth moving, saying Cat’s name, but no sound came out. After several attempts, Cat shifted her hand, moving to brush her fingers over the scar on Kara’s throat.
“Kara, it’s ok, please, it’s ok.”
It wasn’t that she didn’t want Kara to try to speak, she did, she wanted to be able to hear Kara’s voice saying those same words back to her. But Kara was getting lost again, retreating into herself as she struggled to respond, and Cat didn’t want that.
Kara tried one more time, but Cat leaned in, kissing the name off Kara’s lips, even as her thumb retraced the scar, soothing away the mark.
“It’s ok, Kara,” she spoke again, “I know, it’s ok.”
Kara’s hands finally moved, they had been hanging limply at her side all this time, but now they came up, gripping Cat’s shirt, holding on as her eyes tried to express how much those words had meant to her, and how much it hurt that she couldn’t say them back.
Kara didn’t need to speak though, Cat knew, and that was enough. Just knowing would be enough for an eternity, even if Kara never got her voice back, even if Cat never got the chance to hear her say it. Cat could read so much about the girl from her face, her body, her eyes, she didn’t need sound to understand.
“I thought I would bake some cookies, for when Carter comes home tomorrow. Do you want to help? I bought extra supplies so you can eat all the cookie dough you want,” she said then, knowing that it was time to move on. That was something else she had learned. Let Kara do one thing for too long, and, no matter how engaged she appeared to be, no matter how much she wanted to stay present, her mind would eventually drift off anyway.
But they could move on now, because something had changed.
That evening was the first time that Kara reached for a pen and paper. And, when she handed it to Cat, that first scrap, it had held just one symbol, a hieroglyph that Cat didn’t recognize as anything from Earth. When she asked Kara what it meant, Kara simply pointed to her.
“Cat, it means Cat.”
“We couldn’t say it.”
“I know, we tried.”
“And we still couldn’t tell her.”
“She knows, though.”
“We could have written it down, why didn’t we write it down? All we wrote was her name, and even that was just an approximation.”
“You know why. We had to write her name first. It’s what we always did, to test out our voice. We always said Cat’s name to see if we could speak or not.”
“But we weren’t speaking. We couldn’t tell her. Why didn’t you write it down?”
“Because we want to tell her, you know we do. But we want her to hear it.”
“Why does it matter?”
“It does. It just does.”
“She learned Kryptonian.”
“She deserves better than we can give her.”
Kara wanted to tell Cat, she had tried so hard, really tried to speak for the first time in months, and still, still she had failed. Kara wanted to finish that aborted phone message, she didn’t want the last thing Cat would ever hear her say to be stuttered words, a short, broken phrase swallowed up by static.
Because it was important.
It was important that Cat, who was sacrificing so much for her, who had given her so much, it was important that Cat should have everything from Kara.
Kara wanted to tell Cat that she loved her, in her own voice, so that Cat knew that Kara wasn’t hiding from her, wasn’t holding anything back. So that Cat knew that Kara had kept her promise not to break.
She tried to stay awake that night, it was the only thing she could do, the only thing she had to offer at the moment. If she stayed awake, Cat could have one full night of sleep, and Kara wanted that, wanted Cat to be at peace.
She almost managed it, too, but she was just so tired now, all the time. Her exhaustion wasn’t caused by the restraint on her wrist alone, no, there was the added stress of not exposing herself to any sunlight. The fact that she continued to stay in the shadows meant that she didn’t even have the same level of energy as an average, adult human anymore, but still, she tried. She tried to stay awake for Cat
Kara made it until 4:30am, and then she fell asleep and the nightmares came for her again.
“We couldn’t even give Cat one night.”
“We should have tried harder.”
“We need to do better.”
“I know. Carter is coming home. We need to do better for Cat, and Alex, and Carter.”
Kara had been so worried about that, about Carter seeing her, about her disappointing him, but he took that away. How was he able to take that away, so easily?
In that first moment, when he had rushed past his mom, ignoring her open arms, to hug Kara, she had felt her worry disappear. Carter wasn’t apprehensive when he approached her, no, he ran at her, launching himself into her and knocking her over, because she no longer had super strength to withstand the onslaught, and he had grown so much over the past year.
And then he was talking, a constant stream even as he just grinned down at her surprised expression, talking about anything and everything, telling her about all the things she had missed.
Carter didn’t care that she didn’t say anything back, or that she would spend long passages of time drifting off in her mind, he only cared about her being home, and about all the new games they could play, because Alex was too good at them, and he needed someone he could beat again.
Carter was the reason why she started being able to go for longer and longer periods of time without losing focus. He would sit with her, still talking, for hours at a time. He never used to talk that much, but he did now. He would notice as soon as she stopped paying attention, and, instead of reaching for her and shaking her, he would just suddenly shift topics. It was a tactic that worked amazingly well because he was able to catch her just as her mind started to drift, as she lost the thread of his words and began to talk internally to herself. The sudden topic change would not go unnoticed by what was left of her attention, jarring her, refocusing her. Over the next few weeks Carter slowly began to retrain her mind, to teach her what it was to have only one voice, again.
And Carter was also the reason that she remembered how to like the sun, that she remembered why she liked the sun.
It was so familiar, she knew it was, that desire to join Carter, to do whatever he asked of her. It was like that day with the fort, except that now, now, Carter was asking her to help him with an art project.
He needed to paint the view from his house, and instead of working from a window, he decided that it was absolutely imperative that he stand out on the balcony. And, more than that, he was completely insistent that the project required a midday sun.
The problem was, however, that Carter reportedly had no idea how to mix paints to get the desired shades. And so he had asked Kara to help, because Kara had excellent eyesight, and Kara could tell exactly what colors needed to be mixed to capture the picture. Kara had tried to do it from inside, staying in her comfortable shadows, but it didn’t work. Carter didn’t push her, he just waited for her to come to the natural conclusion that in order to help him, she needed to step outside.
That first step had been so hard, but Carter had been grinning at her, paint in hand, blank canvas ready, and she had had to go. Because Carter was waiting, and because Carter had asked.
And then she had been in the sunlight, for the first time in weeks, months, if you didn’t count those few seconds during her initial rescue while she was in her near comatose state. And the sunlight, it hadn’t been… it hadn’t been terrible.
She had stood on the balcony, mixing paints for Carter, and noticing that, despite his assertion of his inability to do it himself, he somehow always managed to hand her just the right base paints for whatever she was trying to achieve. He didn’t need her help, not really, but even so she hadn’t wanted to back away.
Kara was in the sunlight. Kara was in the sunlight with Carter. Kara was in the sunlight with Carter, and she wasn’t afraid.
Kara wasn’t afraid of the sun.
As the sun started to fade, hours later, Kara was still there with Carter, still watching him paint. But things were quiet now, where normally he kept talking to keep her focused, now, now he let her think, let her absorb the change.
“Are you still there?”
“We don’t talk as much, anymore.”
“Do you miss it?”
“Carter,” Cat had joined them outside, “I need to borrow Kara for a bit, you’ll have to finish up by yourself.”
Carter nodded, and Kara let Cat pull her away. As soon at Cat touched her, however, she noticed the difference. Her skin was practically humming, the nerve endings awakened by the sunlight, and when Cat touched her, she could feel the pressure, the strength, the intent, and it was far more intense than anything she could remember from the past weeks.
Kara stopped just inside the doors, her hand closing over Cat’s arm, keeping her there. Reaching out, she traced the confused look on the older woman’s face, concentrating, exploring, feeling how her fingertips came alive at the contact.
This, this was why she used to like the sun. It was more than just the power it gave her, more than the energy. The sun enabled her to feel Cat like this, to sense everything about her. And touching Cat now, Kara remembered why the sun was beautiful.
She had gotten better at smiling, and meaning it, in the weeks since Cat had spoken those words to her, but now, now she was finally ready. Her fingers running over Cat’s face, her neck, her arms, tracing every bit of uncovered skin she could find, Kara smiled, and for the first time in over a year, she truly meant it. And Cat knew, Cat could tell the difference. Cat smiled back.
“We found him, we found General Lane. He’s on his way back to National City,” Alex’s voice interrupted them. The moment was over.
Cat was not happy about this plan, not happy about the fact that Kara had volunteered herself as bait.
How had she come this far? Kara, her Kara, who was still screaming soundlessly every night, who would still get lost in her own mind, Kara who had just gone out in the sun for the first time a few days ago, how had this Kara been the one to volunteer?
Because it was Kara, and Kara would always volunteer.
Alex had found General Lane. The man was coming out of hiding and returning to National City to make his move. General Lane still wanted his project finished, and he still wanted Kara, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to fake her death for a second time, and so he was planning a frontal assault instead. Grab Kara, disappear, and build his super soldier while the DEO searched.
It was the frontal assault, Cat knew, that’s what had gotten to her, gotten to Kara. Because, even after everything, Kara was still Supergirl, and Kara still wanted to protect people. And so Kara had volunteered because a frontal assault, that would get people killed. Especially if she continued to stay in the apartment, if she continued to hide in a place surrounded by civilians, a place that Carter called home.
And Kara was still strong. Kara would not put others at risk.
Which was why they were here now, several days later, standing on the roof of CatCo. It had seemed a strange idea, at first, as if General Lane would believe that they were conveniently in an open location, but after awhile, Cat had seen the logic in the decision.
It would appear as if Cat was taking Kara around CatCo to re-familiarize her with the building. But the roof? Cat knew that tactically, the roof was the best position. It had plenty of small utility huts for the DEO, specifically Alex and Hank, to hide themselves behind, and it was also in view of the surrounding buildings, enabling the use of snipers, or the emergency helicopter that was on standby on the next building over.
But tactics aside, the roof seemed a strange place to go, a strange destination for the two of them. Except for the fact that Kara had been a superhero, was a superhero, Cat reminded herself, and Kara could fly. It wasn’t inconceivable that Cat and Kara would go up to the roof, considering all the memories Kara must have of taking off from this location, of jumping from the building and leaping into the sky, of being free.
And General Lane… they had leaked the information to General Lane, the fact that Kara would be leaving the apartment alone with Cat. Sure, there were the expected DEO agents, but they were meant to stay outside the building, just as they did at Cat’s apartment. And so General Lane, when he came, would come with only a small tactical force, not expecting that the entire building was under the strict surveillance of the DEO.
“Kara, let me see your wrist,” Alex’s voice called Cat’s attention, and she watched as the woman deftly unlocked the kryptonite restraint and replaced it with another one, a fake one, before moving off to her hidden position in the shadows. None of their intelligence had suggested that General Lane had gained a new source of kryptonite, and they were hoping that he would be relying on the fact that Kara was supposedly still restrained. Removing the cuff now would give them an extra edge. And Cat wasn’t about to let Kara dangle herself as bait, at least not without her powers to back her up.
“Not that they helped her, last time,” but Cat shut up the voice. This wasn’t last time, this time, Kara wasn’t alone. This time, Cat was with her.
Kara had tried to resist that, resist Cat’s insistence that she needed to be there, but eventually, Kara had given in. Because there was no way that Cat wasn’t going to be there, and Kara, for all that she had volunteered for this, was still terrified of facing General Lane alone.
Not that he was supposed to make it this far. Ideally, his team would be trapped as they made their way through the building, and the four of them on the roof would just be left waiting until the all-clear came through. But Cat wasn’t about to risk leaving Kara alone, Alex and Hank excluded, for ‘ideally.’
Kara was staring at the fake restraint now, and Cat realized that Kara hadn’t felt her powers in a long time. Closing the distance between them, Cat reached out and lifted Kara’s hand with her own, bringing their palms flush, before slowly beginning to increase the pressure, pushing against Kara’s hand.
Kara’s hand gave, at first, but as Cat kept pushing, kept increasing the amount of force ever so slightly, Kara realized what Cat was doing. Cat felt it, the moment it clicked in Kara’s brain. One second, Cat was pushing against a soft hand, feeling the familiar give of any human body, and the next… the next she was pushing against a solid wall. It was different than just trying to move someone stronger, because Kara wasn’t just stronger, Kara was beyond stronger.
It was a simple thing, this motion, this assessment of Kara’s strength. Before this had all happened, Kara would have just slipped in between her strength levels without realizing it, but now Kara needed to remember. And even though Cat knew that the pressure from her hand would barely register to the girl, it still provided just enough of a stimulus to let Kara adjust, let her feel, let her become aware of how truly powerful she was, once again.
“He’s here,” Hank’s voice called out, and Kara’s head swung around to stare at the floor of the roof, or through it, actually, her eyes focusing on the movements of the man who was coming for her.
And now, now Cat felt it, her anger, that anger that she had side-stepped during her exploration of Kara’s scars. Cat felt it because as soon as Kara’s eyes filtered through the various floors, the walls, and whatever else was in-between her and that man, as soon as Kara’s eyes found him, she trembled. And Cat felt her tremble.
Kara, her Kara, this strong, beautiful woman, this woman who could turn herself into a solid wall of power, this woman who was terrified, but had come here anyway because she didn’t want to put Carter in danger, this woman should not tremble. Not for General Lane. Not for anyone.
Cat wanted to hunt down the man, to watch him suffer, watch him realize his own mortality. Cat wanted to rip him apart. But first, first she had to take care of Kara, because whatever else, however great her rage, Kara came first, she would always come first.
Cat reached for Kara’s face, trying to turn it back to her, but Kara didn’t move, Kara probably didn’t even feel her. And so Cat changed tactics, she dug her nails into the scar at Kara’s neck even as she stepped into the girl’s line of sight, so that, as the sensation drew Kara’s vision back, Kara’s eyes snapped to her, and only her.
“Kara,” she knew the anger in her voice was clear, barely controlled, but she didn’t care. Kara would know that the anger wasn’t directed at her.
“Kara,” she said again, “look at me, look only at me.”
She kept her hand pressed there, over the exposed scar, the only exposed scar, Kara was still covering herself as much as possible when she picked out her clothes. She held the contact, increasing the pressure each time Kara’s eyes flicked away, each time Cat felt another tremor of fear. Cat held the contact, not allowing Kara to focus on anything else.
Even so, she knew General Lane was getting closer, because, even without looking, Kara could tell. As Kara’s breathing began to speed up, Cat added another hand, this time intertwining her fingers in Kara’s hair and applying slight downward pressure, enough to tell the girl what she wanted. She kept her hold as Kara sank to her knees in front of her, allowing Cat to move in even closer, to tilt Kara’s face up to hers.
In this position, Kara looked so vulnerable, but her eyes had cleared, her focus sharpening. Because now, now Kara was vulnerable, but to Cat, only to Cat. Cat’s control over her, Cat’s claim, pushed back against the chaos. General Lane couldn’t have her again, because Cat had her, and Cat wasn’t letting go.
“Just me,” Cat whispered, and Kara nodded.
Vaguely, Cat was aware of the other things happening around them, of the fact that Hank was saying that there was a problem, that he was leaving the roof because General Lane was avoiding capture, but she didn’t care. Cat just kept staring at her Kara, holding her, waiting for either Alex to come get them, or for General Lane himself to appear.
And Cat hoped that General Lane would appear, wished that he would come, because Cat wanted to destroy him, personally.
Kara’s breath hitched, and Cat almost smiled, because that small movement told her that she had gotten her wish. Looking up, Cat’s eyes met those of the man in question. He was bleeding from a bullet wound in his shoulder, his men were all gone, captured or dead, and Hank had left the roof. Hank wasn’t around to stop her, to stop anyone.
He was pointing a gun at her, madness in his eyes. He knew he had lost, but his pride wouldn’t allow him to back down. And Cat was so very glad that he was here. Cat was going to break him, even as he had tried to break Kara.
“Hello, Subject 0.”
His first mistake had been taking Kara, but his last mistake, his last was going to be those words. He expected them to make the girl freeze, or to make her fall away in fear, but he was so wrong. Because Cat had given Kara back her name, and Cat knew that Kara would fight with everything she had to keep it, to not let go of it again.
And so, instead of shrinking away at those words, instead Kara reacted, her strength and speed kicking in as she moved from Cat’s side, as her hand closed around General Lane’s throat, as she continued forward, unable to stop her momentum for another few steps, still unused to the new power.
Cat watched in satisfaction as his eyes widened, his gun dropping to the ground as his hands came up to claw at the grip around his neck. Cat watched as he tried to speak, but could only make guttural sounds.
Even here, even now, Kara listened, and Cat’s satisfaction grew as she took in General Lane’s surprise, as the man realized that he had held Kara for ten months, and hadn’t broken her. As he realized that Cat, Cat had only just gotten her back, but Kara was still strong enough to choose Cat, over her fear.
Cat moved closer, and his surprise was turning into relief. He was expecting her to save him, out of some foolish notion that she might be opposed to ending his life. That relief vanished, however, the moment she drew a long knife out from where it had been hidden in her sleeve, and Cat had her first, gratifying taste, of his fear.
As she moved towards him, feeling the solid weight of the knife in her hand, she knew it wasn’t just her rage driving her. Because she had prepared this, just in case, just in case General Lane made it this far. Cat Grant had come here prepared to kill a man.
It was a thought that should make her cringe, but she couldn’t find it in herself to do so. When had she become so dark, she wondered absently, when had the idea of hurting someone, of killing someone, started to seem so normal? But no, she knew that was the wrong question. She hadn’t gotten any darker, hadn’t been twisted, been warped by the events of the last year.
No. Cat Grant was who she had always been, possessive, protective, unstoppable. And Cat Grant would do anything to make sure that this man never had the opportunity to touch her Kara again. Cat Grant was going to kill him, and she was never going to feel bad about it, ever.
Now his eyes were moving to Alex, who had stepped out of the shadows. He tried to reach for her, to give a command. He was still a general, and he expected people like Alex to follow his orders. But Alex only stared back, impassive and without any intent to interfere.
And then Cat was there, was close enough to touch him. She paused only long enough to reattach one hand to Kara’s hair, and then, with the other, she took the knife and pierced his skin, angling the blade upward and feeling it slide in as she found a gap between his ribs. And it was so much better than shooting Superman.
Cat smiled darkly at General Lane, watching him as his eyes bulged in pain, as he let out a choked cry, as blood trickled from his mouth. Cat watched him suffer, before turning away, turning her attention fully back to Kara.
“Kara,” as she spoke she used her grip in Kara’s hair to turn the girl’s head, “remember what I said. Look at me, only at me.”
Kara looked scared, looked angry, looked like she was fighting against the chaos, but even so, it was still Kara who looked back at her now. Kara and not a shadow, it was her Kara who was winning the fight.
“It’s ok now, Kara. He doesn’t matter anymore. You can let go now,” and, pulling her other hand away from the knife so that she could trace the edge of Kara’s face she continued, “just let go.”
And Kara did.
As General Lane plummeted from where he had been dangling, held over the edge of the roof by Kara’s grasp alone, Cat couldn’t help but make a second wish, hoping that it would come true. And why not? She had gotten her first wish tonight, that he would appear, so why shouldn’t she get this one?
“I hope the knife wound kills him before the fall does.”
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.”
“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.”
“Go back, go home, go to Cat.”
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?”
“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.”
“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.”
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?”
“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.”
Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through the end, I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your reviews, and they helped me stay on schedule (i.e. posting every other day). Somehow I managed this, 75 thousand-ish words in three weeks, and it was a lot of fun, but I am so glad that this story is finally out of my head and I can go back to being an adult with a life now.
I also feel the need to point out that even though this story gets a little dark (i.e. chapter 7), I’m actually a very bright, happy person in real life, and the word ‘bubbly’ was even used to describe me last week…
So thank you again for reading this, and commenting on it, and I hope you enjoyed the story.