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On A Leash

Chapter Text

Maxwell Lord watched with fury at the fluttering red cape as it left the room containing his cell. You recommend ‘Call the Midwife’? Are you kidding me?

“Damn it!” He hit the poly glass with his fist. “I saved your alien ass! You owe me!”

Max stared at the doorway a moment longer then smirked, “Yes, Supergirl, I seem to have a lot of time on my hands. I believe it is time you will regret you gave me.”

Chapter Text

Kara sat on the bed studying the paper in her hand. The monitor attached to the wall activated and Maxwell Lord’s image appeared on screen.

“I hope you’ve been studying your speech. You have another twenty minutes or so to memorize it. No tele-prompters at this press conference. No notes-and you better use your best acting skills to sell what you say.”

“I know what’s at stake,” Kara cut him off.

Max Lord pursed his lips together at the interruption, “Still haven’t figured out that you need to listen first? I’ll let you know when it’s your turn to talk.”

Kara bit her lip and nodded to the screen for Max to continue.

“Now, here are the rules you are going to play by during the press conference," Max held up his hand ticking the rules off his fingers one by one. “First - follow the script to the letter. No deviations. None whatsoever. Not a cough, clearing of the throat, hand gesture, anything that I may construe as some kind of signal. Second - you will not answer any questions from the press. Only from me and only if you are asked. With the exception of your speech you are not to utter a sound. Third - you will be directed to do something by me during the event. If you don’t comply, with grace I might add, the boy dies. Period. I think that about covers it. Now, do you have anything to say?”

Kara looked down at the scripted speech.

“I will not give out the name of my … my former identity to the media. Too many friends and family could be targeted by the aliens my mother sent to Fort Rozz if my name was made public. You know that. You’ve already set down the rules that I can’t aid any of them, or even go near them, so giving my name would be setting them up. I won’t do that.”  She stood up and walked toward the screen stopping in front of the close circuit camera lens, “I already agreed to do what you want. I’ve pledged to you my life for Carter’s – but I will not give you the lives of my family and friends too. I don’t have that right.”

Max cocked his head to the side rubbing his forehead. “Okay. Only because I’ve developed a soft spot for your sister and,” he looked at Kara meaningfully, “I believe Cat Grant has enough on her plate to worry about.”

Kara glanced away from the monitor unwilling to let him see the anger in her eyes. She started to turn away to walk toward the bed, her new bed, when Max’s irritated voice rasped, “You will not turn your back to me. And I expect a thank you for doing you this favor.” Schooling her face she turned back to the screen taking in Max’s smirking visage.

“Well I’m waiting.”

“Thank you.”

“See, that wasn’t so hard. You’ll get used to it. My associate will deliver the revised script of your speech shortly.” He moved closer to the camera so only his face was visible on the screen, “I do mean exactly what I said. You know what you’ll force me do if you fail to keep your word.”

The image of Max Lord was replaced by what appeared to be a live feed of a hospital room. Carter Grant was lying in a bed hooked up to a ventilator, monitors, and an IV. Cat Grant, looking impossibly wrecked as she held his hand, sat in a chair next to him. The beeping sounds from the monitors added a counterpoint to Cat’s quiet voice, “I’m here Carter. I love you. Please wake up. Please be okay.”

Oh Rao! Guide me. Kara looked down at the paper in her hand. The timing of the press conference was deliberate.  It would easily make the six o’clock news. Yeah. Great. The lead story. Just need some time to figure out how to get out of this. No choice but to play by his rules until then. She already committed the speech to memory. Now she winced as she heard her voice actually say the words out loud.

Several minutes later a chime announced someone was at the door. Kara moved to the wall opposite the door and faced that wall. She waited for the instruction from the person entering. She knew the cameras watching her would let the person know she had “assumed the position” as she began to think of it. She stayed facing the wall waiting for permission to turn around. She heard a person walk in, the faint rustling of a paper, and footsteps retreating to the door.

A woman’s voice stated, “The updated speech is on your bed.”

The door shut. Kara leaned her forehead against the wall and closed her eyes. No! She would not give Max, or anyone else watching, the satisfaction of seeing her lose control. I can do this. It’s just a stupid speech. I can to do this. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. All these stupid rules. Maxwell Lord! You think your training an animal? Bet you’re feeling pretty confident. Just give me some time. Some space. We’ll see who will win this fight. Kara turned around and picked up the paper left on the bed. True enough Max had changed the offending sentence.  The speech still left a bitter taste in her mouth. Carter Grant, lying in the hospital bed with Cat beside him still played on the screen.  I can do this!

Minutes later another chime sounded. Kara started then dropped the paper on the bed as she moved to comply with Max’s rules. This is it. Oh Rao. I can do this! I have to do this!

“I hope you’re ready. Carter will pay the price if you’re not,” Max gestured to the flat screen. “Nice and easy. Remember – if you decide to make a very bad choice and cross me there are others who are waiting to take care of him, in a very painful way I might add. You won't be able to stop it."

“I understand.” Kara looked at the screen again, “Let’s get this over with.”

“Follow Ms. Marek,” Max instructed. “She’ll lead you to the conference room.”

Kara followed Max’s assistant, a seemingly competent diminutive woman, down several short lead lined corridors and into a small cubicle of a room with two doors. It too was lead lined. Dammit. Max was making any attempt at escape challenging. I can’t even figure out where I am.

Another woman was waiting for them inside the room. She was obviously nervous and babbled while she quickly ran a brush through Kara’s hair.

“Let me just get your hair touched up a bit. You know how television camera’s are - pick up the slightest out of place strands of hair. We can’t have that now, can we? Just a quick one over – that’s it. You look, well, just super!" She smiled at her own joke and stepped back.

Kara felt a hand on her shoulder and looked down at Ms. Marek’s very serious expression, “Three steps up and walk to the podium. Give your speech.  Then take one step to your right and two steps back. Stand there until Mr. Lord gives you further instructions. Mr. Lord will not tolerate anything but complete adherence to his instructions. I advise you not to test him. He’s a very reasonable man but reason has its limits. I don’t think you’re prepared for the fallout of any rash behavior. Stick to the script, follow the instructions given to you, and everything will work out for the best. For everyone. You’ll see.”

Kara glowered and took a step away from the woman. The hand slid from her shoulder. “I said I would do my part. I will.”

Ms. Marek looked nonplussed, “Follow his lead on stage.”

A rap on the stage door and Ms. Marek looked at Kara, “You’re on.” She opened the door and ushered Kara out of the room and onto the stage where Maxwell Lord stood speaking at the podium.

“...the focus of this news conference, Supergirl.” He finished and stepped away from the podium motioning to Kara to take his place. His face was a carefully composed mask of concern and confidence.

Kara strode over the stage, cape flowing behind her, emanating “Supergirl” to a hushed audience. She stepped up to the podium and carefully placed both hands inside the podium so they weren’t visible to the cameras. No reason to give Max any ammunition. I’ll play along like a good girl, for now. With an earnest expression she began her speech.

“Citizens of National City. Several weeks ago I fell victim to a substance that altered my brain and caused me to turn against you. I know that many of you have forgiven me for my actions and for that I am grateful. However, I cannot guarantee that I won’t come into contact with the substance again and cause even greater destruction. So, in an effort to prevent anything like that from happening again, I’ve requested the help of Mr. Lord. He has graciously pledged to assist me so I can continue to keep your city safe. To those of you who knew me by another name, another identity, I am renouncing her. Please consider her dead. Don’t try to contact her. She’s gone. I will be known only as Supergirl from this day forward. My wish is to help the people of National City. Thank You.”

Kara then stepped back from the podium and positioned herself as Ms. Marek had instructed. She stared straight ahead as camera flashes lit the room further. Okay. Got through the speech. That was the tough part. Just stand here, listen to Max for a bit, then I can start planning how to get out of this mess. She watched Lord step up to the podium and had difficulty comprehending his next words.

“Kneel Supergirl.”

What the hell? Kneel? Oh come on!  Kara slowly sank to her knees, her cape resting on the ground behind her.

“Supergirl has entrusted me with keeping the people of National City safe from her dark side.  I pledge to keep that trust. Supergirl will wear this specially designed collar to insure she is under control and not corrupted by any foreign substances.  It is your way of knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is there to help and not hurt.”

Max Lord held up a thick dull black leather collar with a shiny silver Lord Technology sigil on the front. He then stepped over to where Kara knelt.  He resisted a smile of triumph at Supergirl on her knees.  Keep the mask on a just a little longer. He would take time to savor his victory later. In private. Slowly, deliberately, he pulled the hair away from her neck and fastened the collar around it. There was no lock and only one setting. Tight. The cameras didn’t catch the very small sharp studs lining the inside of the collar which now were now digging uncomfortably into Kara’s neck. The irritants were unable to penetrate the Kryptonian’s skin yet served their intended purpose as a not so subtle reminder of her predicament.

“You’ll observe there is no lock. Supergirl can take it off any time she wishes. She can take it off now if she wants. Do you want to take off the collar, Supergirl?” Max looked at her with an air concern.

Kara shook her head.

“I’m sorry, Supergirl, could you give your answer out loud for our visually impaired viewers?”

“I will keep the collar on.”

Max then withdrew something from the inside of his coat jacket. Bent down and attached it to the collar. He stood next to Supergirl, still kneeling, with the other end of the leather lead in his hand. “There you have it, folks. Your city is safe. Supergirl is on a leash.”

The room exploded in a cacophony of camera flashes and reporters yelling questions.

Max Lord addressed the blond alien. “Stand up. Time to get started. You have a city to protect.” He then walked off the stage with Supergirl tethered behind him.

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

It seemed all the agents, the scientists, the maintenance workers at the DEO were gathered staring at the monitors as Maxwell Lord led Supergirl off the stage on a leash. For a long moment everyone was silent as the image sunk in. Agent Susan Vasquez, assigned as head communications officer and known throughout the agency as one of its most articulate operatives, was the first to broach the silence.

“Holy fucking shit!”

Chapter Text

Six hours earlier…

Carter Grant stood in front of an interactive display model of National City’s newest mode of public transportation: The Blue Streak. His classmates crowded around him as their tour guide explained the basic physics of the energy efficient train. Ms. LaShandra Johnson taught the advanced science class at St. Edmund’s for the past six years. Spur of the moment field trips were normally not done. Maxwell Lord extended the offer of a personally guided tour featuring the train’s design lab only three weeks earlier. She jumped at the opportunity. Lord Technologies was the cutting edge industry in National City and Maxwell Lord was a certified genius.


The tour was interesting and fun. Ms. Johnson was impressed as Max had her students work out some of the basic physics equations used in the train’s propulsion system on their tablets. She nodded as he peppered the students with questions. He appeared to have an affinity for Carter Grant for which she was glad. The boy was extremely intelligent but shy. He rarely raised his hand in class yet always seemed to have the correct answer if she called on him. Here, with Maxwell Lord, he seemed much more relaxed and volunteered answers.
After the conclusion of the tour, the students were invited to go into one of the train prototypes. Ms. Johnson used the opportunity to ask Max if he and Carter were acquainted.

“He was a passenger on Blue Streak’s maiden voyage,” Max smiled.

“Mr. Lord was with me when I met Supergirl!” Carter exclaimed.

Ms. Johnson noted a strange look briefly flit over Max’s features before he continued, “Yes. It wasn’t quite the unveiling I had envisioned.” He looked down at Carter and smiled, “But we managed to survive. Right champ?” He tousled Carter’s hair with his hand.

“Yes sir. We even got to help Supergirl. She asked for our help!” Carter beamed.

“Well she seemed to know you, Carter Grant,” Max noted. “Your mother must know Supergirl quite well with all the press she gives her. Maybe your mother talked about you to her.”

Max gave Carter’s head one more good natured shake with his hand before sliding it onto his shoulder.

“Oh, I don’t think mom knows Supergirl that well. I’m sure Supergirl only talks to my mom about, you know, superhero stuff.”

Ms. Johnson checked her wristwatch.

“We only have about fifteen minutes left before its time to head back to school. Better check out the prototype while you can, Carter.” She smiled as she watched him walk toward the display then turned to face Max. “Mr. Lord, thank you so very much. Today has been such a treat. Not only are you a brilliant scientist and engineer, you are a wonderful teacher too. The children learned so much from you today.”

“Yes, well...” Max’s answer was interrupted when a thud and shouted cries of excitement drew their attention to Carter who was laying on the floor writhing in pain. They rushed to the stricken boy.

“Carter! Carter! Can you hear me? Someone call 9-11,” Ms. Johnson ordered as she attempted to find the cause of Carter’s pain.

“Hold on. I have several doctors on staff and a full medical facility here in the building. I’ll have security take him there immediately. Does he have any allergies? Any known medical condition?”

She shook her head, “No. We check all student’s records before they go on field trips. Carter doesn’t have any medical conditions listed in his records. His signed permission slip didn’t specify anything either.”

Lord put his hand to Carter’s colorless face.

“His skin is cold and clammy.” He looked up at the head of his security team. “Get him to the medical bay immediately. I’ll be right there.” He then turned to the teacher, “I’ll call Ms. Grant. I have her private line. You contact the school.”

Ms. Johnson nodded to Max and retrieved her cell phone from her pocket. It was his building.  His calm authoritative demeanor was appreciated. She called over at her teaching assistant, “Rhonda. Can you get everyone sorted out? Make sure they have all of their belongings. We don’t need anything else to go wrong. I’m going to call the school now.”

Several minutes later the subdued classmates of Carter Grant boarded the school bus parked in front of Lord Technologies. The school’s principal decided they would return to the school with Rhonda and the parent chaperones. Ms. Johnson was instructed to remain with Carter as the school’s representative and answer any questions when Ms. Grant arrived. She was not looking forward to that.

Cat Grant was in the middle of moderating a particularly tempestuous board meeting when Kara appeared unexpectedly. Cat saw the look of urgency on her face and waved her in.

“Ms. Grant, can you please step outside? Now?” Kara vibrated with tension.

“If you will excuse me for just a moment.” Cat looked around the boardroom table at unsmiling faces, “I’m sure you can argue amongst yourselves just as well without me.”

She followed Kara out of the room wondering what could possibly be so important. Kara was leading her away from the board member’s view. Oh this could not be good.

“Ms. Grant, your assistant just received a phone call from Maxwell Lord. There’s been some kind of accident involving your son. He was at Lord Technologies on a field trip? I don’t know the particulars – Max didn’t give Josh any. He only told Josh he wanted me to accompany you there. Your car is waiting downstairs.” Kara finished breathlessly.

The color drained from Cat’s face. “Let’s go.”

“Do you want me to reschedule the board meeting? I can meet you there if you’d like.”

“My assistant can see to that. Max wants both of us there? Oh my God, Carter!” Cat’s hand flew to her mouth.

“Shall I notify his father?”

“No … no, I don’t know what’s going on yet. I’ll call him as soon as I know what happened. He’s half a continent away. Its not like he could get there before us. No use worrying him needlessly.”

The fifteen minute limousine ride to Lord Technology headquarters seemed to be the longest car ride in Kara’s life. Cat sat silent, back ramrod straight, staring out the window unblinking, her hands clasped together tightly in her lap. Kara’s one attempt at conversation was met with a “Not. Right. Now” growl from Cat.


As the limousine pulled up to the curb Cat almost flew out of the backseat and into the building. Kara was hard pressed to keep up without using her superpowers.

“My name is Cat Grant – I was called to come here by Max Lord. He said something happened to my son, Carter. Where is he?” Cat impatiently addressed the guard seated at the security desk.

“Ms. Grant, if you would follow me I will take you to your son,” another gray clad guard offered. “Only Ms. Grant,” he stated as Kara attempted to follow.

“Mr. Lord requested I accompany Ms. Grant here,” Kara informed him.

“Ma’am, I was only told to let the mother see her son. You’ll just have to wait here. I’m sure someone will be back for you shortly.”

Kara nodded slowly to the guard and walked back to the security desk where she was directed to a pair of padded benches near the atrium. She lowered her glasses and followed Cat’s progress through the building until Cat and the guard entered a door. The area must be lined with lead. Seems like that whole section of the building is. With a quick scan Kara ascertained the entire south wing of the building was lined with lead. Curious she scanned the rest of the building and realized that other parts were also impervious to her x-ray vision. I wonder if Max made those upgrades after he was attacked by Non. Kara then cocked her head and listened intently for the sounds of Cat’s heels against the floor.

“Ms. Grant?” A woman’s voice asked. “LaShandra Johnson. Carter’s science instructor this term. I don’t know what to tell you. We were finished with the tour and Carter was joining his classmates when he must have collapsed.”

“What do you mean? ‘Must have collapsed.’ Weren’t you there with him? Weren’t you watching him?” Cat cut in her voice quiet and dangerous. “Where is my son?”

Kara heard a door open.

“Ms. Grant, I’m Dr. Peterson. Please step this way. Carter is in here. He’s been asking for you,” a man’s baritone voice interrupted.

The sound of footsteps and Cat’s, “Oh my God, Carter!” was all Kara heard before a sharp pitch invaded her ears.

“You shouldn’t be eavesdropping,” a voice in her ear said.

She was so intent on listening to the conversation she didn’t hear Maxwell Lord’s approach. He was standing behind her. A security guard standing next to Max then thumbed a button on the small metal box he held and the noise abruptly stopped.

“Mr. Lord?” She was confused as to why he was there instead of with Cat. What is going on?

“Yes, Ms. Danvers. We have some things of mutual interest to discuss. If you’ll step this way.” Max motioned in the direction of a room Kara had already noted as lead lined.

“Why? What happened to Carter? Is he going to be alright?” Kara made no move to stand up and follow Max’s direction.

“Carter Grant is not okay. That’s what I needed to discuss with you. He has a condition only you are uniquely qualified to solve.” He looked at her with a serious expression on his face. Then bent down and whispered in her ear, “Only Supergirl can save him.”

Chapter Text

Cat Grant was not the type of person who panicked. She schooled herself to remain calm, rational, no matter the situation. But this was different. Oh, Carter! They had breakfast together a few hours earlier. He was fine, normal, healthy, happy not this.

Carter lay sweating profusely, pale, eyes glazed with pain. “Mom?” His voice was weak. “Mom? It hurts so bad. Am I dying?”

Cat brushed past the doctor. “I’m here, honey. We’re going to help you.” She grasped his hand and was surprised at the coolness of his skin. She reached and put her hand on his forehead. No fever but he is sweating. “Where does it hurt?”

“Everywhere. It just hurts,” his voice was almost a whisper.

She looked up at the doctor hovering in the room. She needed answers. Now. “Do you know what happened? What’s wrong with him?” She hated the tremor she heard in her voice.

“I heard he was on a field trip with some students and collapsed. Does he have any medical issues? His teacher wasn’t aware of any.” The doctor didn’t spare her a glance as he studied his tablet.

“No. No issues – not even allergies. He was fine when he was dropped off at school this morning,” she said. “Do you know what’s wrong with him?”

“I was monitoring him until a parent could be reached. I wanted to make sure there were no other contributing medical issues before attempting any treatment. As long as he was stable I thought it prudent to wait until a parent could be contacted.” His tone was condescending and grated on her nerves.

Cat eyes snapped up at the doctor, “So you’ve done nothing but watch him suffer since he was brought to you? Why wasn’t he immediately transported to the hospital? His teacher said you insisted he be treated here. No offense, doctor, but my son obviously needs treatment by someone who does more than put band aids on paper cuts.”

She watched him stiffen at the censure then look back down at his tablet. He seemed to study it intently for several seconds before pressing several buttons. He turned to her, his face arrogant, “I assure you, Ms. Grant, I am more than competent to treat your son. I am the lead physician on staff at Prometheus Genetics. My responsibilities here are far more involved than treating employee mishaps.”

He then offered her a tight smile, “Mr. Lord was with your boy when he collapsed. He had him taken here knowing he would get the best possible care. I assume he did it out of concern for your son. If you would like, we can arrange a medical transport to the hospital of your choice.”

“Yes,” Cat half turned to instruct Kara to call for a medical helicopter when she remembered Kara was forced to stay in the lobby. “I’ll have Carter’s pediatrician contacted. She can meet us at the …”

Carter moaned in pain then his body began seizing.

Cat watched helplessly as Carter thrashed on the bed. His limbs twitching until he lost consciousness.

“What are you waiting for? Cat’s snapped at the doctor, “Call for a medical helicopter. I want him taken directly to National City General. Carter’s pediatrician is on staff there.”

“No. Not now,” Dr. Peterson’s voice was flat and uncompromising. “He should not be moved. He needs to be stabilized. He could seize again during transport. I’m sure you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.”

“I’m contacting Carter’s pediatrician. I pay her enough – she can make a house call here.” Cat was not going to let this pompous clod dictate her son’s medical care. She silently thanked Kara for her organizational foresight as she thumbed through her cell phone screen. Dr. Grey was listed under emergency contacts. Cell, office, home, and emergency numbers.

She was surprised when the doctor answered on the first ring. “Hello, Ms. Grant. I’m almost there. Do you have any update on Carter’s condition for me?”

“He had a seizure. He’s unconscious now. Wait, how do you know where to go? How do you know Carter’s sick?”

“Your assistant, Ms. Danvers, contacted my office about an hour ago. She said you needed me at Lord Tech regarding Carter. She stressed it was urgent and I was to get there as soon as possible. Why he wasn’t he taken to a hospital?”

Cat eyed Dr. Peterson who was obviously listening to the conversation while looking at his tablet. “The doctor here believes he should be stabilized before transport. How far away are you?”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“Okay. Go to the security desk. They can escort you to us.” Cat thought for a moment, “Have Ms. Danvers accompany you. They left her cooling her heels in the lobby. Let them know I’ll need her services here also.”

As she ended the phone call, Cat remembered Kara incessantly texting during the ride over. She closed her eyes. Thank you, Kara!

“Carter’s pediatrician, Dr. Grey, will be here shortly,” Cat addressed the physician. “I take it you will not have a problem working with her?”

The man looked startled then flushed under Cat’s pointed gaze, “Does Mr. Lord know your doctor is coming? He is very sensitive about non employees walking around his building. I wouldn’t be surprised if security turns her away. You should have set this up with Mr. Lord previously…”

Cat cut him off, “Set this up previously? This is not some business lunch, doctor. Had I known this was going to happen to Carter today he wouldn’t have gone on a field trip. Now I suggest you contact whomever you need to. Doctor Grey is to be brought here immediately when she arrives. And, let me be crystal clear, when she arrives she will be in charge of Carter’s care. Your job will be to assist her.”

“You aren’t in charge here. You can’t …”

“This is my son,” Cat glared at the man. “You will do everything you can to assist in his care until he is out of this facility and that includes working with his doctor. Now I suggest you make sure she is brought here immediately or, I can assure you, the title Queen of All Media will not be lost on you.”

The man went over to an in-house phone and punched in a number. He began speaking with someone about Cat’s demands.

“Oh, and have my assistant, Kara, accompany Carter’s doctor,” Cat interrupted. “They had her wait in the lobby. I’m going to need her also.”

The doctor turned to her, huffed, then relayed her request. He smiled at the response he received then hung up the phone.

“Security is informed on your request.”

“Thank you,” Cat was about to add another cutting remark when her cell phone rang. It was a very special ring tone. One associated with her other son, Adam Foster.

“Hello. Adam?”

“How’s Carter? Kara texted me about an hour ago and said something happened to him. Is he okay? I’ve texted her a few times back and she didn’t reply.”

“He’s not doing well right now. He was on a field trip and collapsed. He was conscious when I arrived but had some kind of seizure. He’s not conscious now. The doctor here doesn’t know what’s wrong.” Cat felt her throat close up and her eyes moisten. Oh Carter.

“I'm at Opal City Airport now.  Where are you at? I’ll be there in a few hours.”

Cat was surprised and grateful. She was used to fighting her own battles but she was happy she had people to lean on right now.

“Right now we’re in some medical facility inside Lord Technologies. Carter was here on a field trip here when he collapsed and, for some reason, he wasn’t taken to the hospital immediately,” Cat glared at the doctor.

“Adam, I have to go. Carter’s pediatrician just arrived. I’ll see you soon – hopefully with good news,” Cat added with confidence she didn’t feel.

“I’ll be there soon, mom.” Adam promised.

Cat ended the phone call and addressed the slim woman who entered the room flanked by a security guard, “Dr. Grey, thank you for coming. Carter just had some kind of seizure. He’s been unconscious ever since.”

Dr. Grey walked over to Carter and began doing a cursory exam.

“Ahem” a man’s voice interrupted.

“Oh, this is Dr. Peterson. He’s been treating Carter since he collapsed,” Cat introduced. “Dr. Peterson, this is Dr. Grey, Carter’s doctor.”

Cat attempted to follow the rapid medical jargon thrown back and forth between the two doctors then looked to the security guard, “Where is my assistant, Kara? She was in the lobby. You were supposed to bring her here with Dr. Grey.”

The gray clad man replied, “Ma’am, there was no one in the lobby. Maybe she left.”

Cat’s eyes narrowed. Kara wouldn’t have left. Not unless something very big needed Supergirl’s attention. Cat turned back to watch her son and the doctors.

“If she comes back escort her here,” Cat ordered. She then turned back to watch her son and the doctors. She didn’t like the frown on Dr. Grey’s face as she studied the medical readouts from Dr. Peterson’s tablet.

“Ms. Grant,” Dr. Grey looked up from the readout, “I do concur with Dr. Peterson about moving Carter right now. He is going to bring in some more equipment and we’ll do a few tests here. I’d feel much more comfortable moving him after I know we’ve got him stabilized. Maybe we can get a handle on what’s causing his condition here. If not, we can get him stabilized and transport him to National City General.”

Cat nodded her acquiescence. She hated the smug look Dr. Peterson sent her way. At least I have someone I trust in my corner now.

“Listen, this could take a while,” Dr. Grey started to address Cat then turned to Dr. Peterson. “Can you scrounge up a chair for Ms. Grant? When Carter wakes up it would be best if his mother was next to him.”

“Go find Ms. Grant a chair,” Dr. Peterson directed the security guard.

Several minutes later Cat was seated next to Carter holding his hand. She looked up as Dr. Grey reentered the room. She doesn’t look very happy. Keep yourself calm, Cat. Stay in control. Cat clamped down hard on the panic she felt welling up inside.

“Doctor?”

“I’m afraid I don’t have anything yet. These symptoms are, quite frankly, baffling me. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

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

“Well, I’m not surprised. It’s a new virus Prometheus Genetics recently perfected,” Max Lord gloated. He was seated behind a desk in the office he ushered Kara into. They were watching live feed from Carter’s room.

“How did he get the virus?” Kara’s brow furrowed then looked at Max who was smirking at her and realization dawned on her. “Why would you do something like this? He’s just a kid. Take me there now!" 

“Easy there, Supergirl. Let me explain the situation before you get your cape in a bunch. First off, Carter is in this condition because of you. You and your alien superpowers. Superpowers that have the potential of wiping out every human on our own planet. We humans didn’t ask for you, your cousin, or any of the other aliens to join our happy little world but you came anyway. Sure, you try to do good but who gave you the right to decide how and when to use your powers? It certainly wasn’t any of us weak earthlings. You just go out and play god and those caught in the middle be damned!”

“I don’t play god. I try to help people.”

“Like you did when you were under the spell of red kryptonite? Yeah, you helped lots of people then,” Max taunted.

“That was your fault!”

“Nonetheless, it exposed a weakness, a possibly fatal one, for us humans.” Max went on, “A level of control, human control, over how and when you use your abilities is imperative. I’m going to provide that control.”

“In your dreams. I’m going. Don’t try to stop me.” Kara rose from her seat.

“You’re making a huge mistake,” Max warned then nodded to his assistant. “Check out the screen.”

Kara looked to the monitor and was greeted with the sight of Carter writhing and screaming in pain. Cat stood by helpless as the doctors attempted to help him. Kara had never seen Cat look so vulnerable, so afraid. Carter’s screams tore at her heart.

“You can make it stop,” Max said. “Sit down.”

Kara sat. Her eyes glued to the monitor screen. Carter stopped screaming and lay unconscious. Cat was crying.

“Carter Grant is a very sick young man,” Max Lord stated as he turned to face Kara. “I’m afraid there is no hope for him, that is, unless you are willing to take his place.”

“I’m sorry. What?”

“I’m proposing a trade. A life for a life. Yours for Carter’s. Actually it’s a win - win proposition for you. You serve the people of National City as Supergirl and, in doing so, you will also save Carter’s life. I guarantee the virus inside him will kill him. It was developed specifically for this purpose. Only I have access to the antidote. It may help you in your decision to know the virus causes extreme pain and a long lingering death. Of course Cat Grant will have a front row seat. Imagine it. All of her money and power yet totally helpless as she watches him die. She will be informed you had the opportunity to save her son but chose not to. Do you think she could ever forgive you?” Max smiled. “You will be responsible for the suffering and death of her son. Could you ever forgive yourself?”

“What do you want me to do?” Kara couldn’t keep her eyes off the drama unfolding on the monitor, Carter’s screams still ringing in her ears.

Max stood and walked around the desk toward Kara. He could tell he had her back on her heels. Considering his proposal seriously. Now all he had to do is reel her in.

“I want you to be Supergirl full time,” he said earnestly. “Serving the people of National City. That’s it. No more Kara Danvers. No more DEO. No more Catco. Just you flying around saving the day with one exception: you will be under scrutiny by me and my team. You will be monitored and directed by us. That way we can be assured you are using your alien powers wisely in regards to us mere mortals. Think of it as wearing a body cam while at work. When you’re not here sleeping, eating, resting you will be at work - helping the humans in this city. Is that too much to ask in exchange for his life?”

Chapter Text

Kara glanced to the monitor before looking back at Max Lord who was patiently waiting for her answer. I told Alex he’s dangerous.

“After everything we just went through with Myriad – you do this?” she spat at him. “Who are you to make decisions for me - control  me? I’m already allied with the DEO – that’s a human based organization. Anyone sick enough to hurt a child – hold him hostage for cooperation - isn’t anyone I care to deal with!”

Kara stood up angrily.

“I said sit down,” Max barked as Carter’s screams filled the room again.

Kara hesitated not daring to look at the screen. Okay, play for time. Find out what his plan really is then … then I’ll make him regret every second of his miserable existence!

Kara sat back in the chair with her arms folded across her chest. An unconscious Supergirl pose. Carter’s screams abruptly cut off. She resolutely refused to look at the monitor choosing to glare up at the face of a man she despised instead.

“So what’s your plan?” Kara tilted her head. “Go ahead. Fill me in. I’m listening.”

Max studied the young woman in front of him. Oh, a little headstrong? By the time I’m done with you, Supergirl, you won’t think to ever question a human again, least of all me. Now for the dog and pony show.

“Maybe you weren’t listening to me earlier. There is no ‘plan’. All you have to do is serve the people of National City. That’s it. The same as you did before. The only difference is you will be monitored and directed to where your services are needed most. I don’t have a nefarious scheme – I just want to insure you can be trusted one hundred percent of the time,” Max said. “All you have to do is be Supergirl. I can’t physically force you to do anything although I’ll admit I did try to score some kryptonite when I was at the DEO. Did you know your sister is amazingly protective of the mineral? I have no way of forcing you to do anything. Using Cat Grant’s son as a ‘hostage’? Well - I needed some way for you to hear me out. You can quit anytime you want although Carter will pay the price.”

“So what?” I agree to do things your way and you give Carter the antidote? I’m not that naive and you’re not that stupid,” Kara rejoined.

Max chuckled, “No. That’s not how things work. You cooperate, basically doing what you’ve been doing for the past few months, and Carter gets to enjoy life, Cat Grant has a chance to raise a son and National City is safe. There are some caveats, however.

Of course, what a surprise. Kara prodded, “Go on.”

“No contact with Cat Grant, Carter, your sister, James Olsen, any of your friends at the DEO or Catco or your cousin, Superman. No contact means none whatsoever at least for the immediate future. That restriction may be relaxed after you’ve proven your trustworthiness. If Superman does show up, and I have a feeling he will, it will be up to you to convince him to leave. Remember – I can’t make you do anything. That said, Carter’s continued life and happiness is totally up to you. If Superman gets involved Carter is the one who pays the price,” Max warned.

“So you don’t want me talking to my family or friends? Is that all?” Kara cut in.

“No. You will live here at Lord Technologies when you are not out guarding the city as Supergirl. I’ve had a small ‘apartment’ prepared for you where you can eat, sleep, shower. All the amenities of home,” Max explained. “The earpiece you currently have will be replaced by one belonging to Lord Tech. It’s eminently better than that piece of garbage the DEO gave you with the added benefit of allowing us to communicate on a secured frequency. If you see or hear anything Supergirl worthy while patrolling, you will coordinate your response with my team before interceding. My team will be coordinating with NCPD so you don’t inadvertently blow any undercover operations they are working. If you are instructed not to interfere - don’t. Carter will know of your disobedience immediately. That’s about it for now.”

“I assume you will have some way of keeping tabs on me but what about your end of the deal? How will I know Carter is safe and unharmed?” Kara leaned forward.  I’ve got to get as much information as possible while he’s still in the mood to talk. “You’ve given me no reason to trust your word and it’s obvious you don’t trust mine.”

“You will have state of the art monitoring equipment attached to your super suit - so small no one will be able to see it. We will have 360 degrees of visual and audio capability. My team will be able to watch your back when you are fighting, give you a heads up, so you don’t get blindsided from behind,” Max added.

Yeah, that sounds about right – you think I’m going to believe you are doing this for my benefit.

“And what about Carter?” How will I know he is okay?” Kara asked. “You know I’m not going to trust your word.”

“You’ve seen the advanced drones Lord Tech has. One will be assigned to Carter. When he is outside or near a window you will can keep tabs on him from the monitor screen in your apartment.” Max leaned forward, “I truly have no wish to harm the boy. My fervent wish is he never experiences anymore consequences from your actions and grows into adulthood. The ball is in your court. Are you willing to serve National City and save Carter or are you going to prove me right about Kryptonians playing god?”

Kara scowled at the man in front of her, “Exactly what are you going to have me do? I mean everything, Max. I won’t kill for you or …”

Max cut her off, “Is your vaunted super hearing working? There is nothing else other than what I told you. I certainly don’t want you to kill any humans. As I’ve explained to you several times now, you will continue as National City’s hero – helping out wherever needed. Carter’s waiting on your decision.”

Max inclined his head toward the monitor. Kara stole a glance and was shocked to see the doctors hooking Carter up to a ventilator. Cat was seated in a chair next to his bed one hand holding his hand. The raw fear on her face broke Kara’s heart. I can’t let anything happen to Carter. Max is right – Cat would never forgive me. I could never forgive myself.

“Okay, I’ll agree to the terms you’ve stated,” Kara nodded slowly. “Supergirl full time in exchange for Carter’s life.”

“Supergirl full time, under my guidance, in exchange for Carter’s life,” Max corrected.

“Yeah. That’s what I meant.” Kara couldn’t bring herself to actually say the words. Oh Rao!

“Let’s get started then,” Max replied and stood up. “I’ll take you to your new apartment. Follow me. Oh, do you have your super suit with you? If not my staff has put one together for you.”

“I have my own suit to wear,” Kara didn’t offer any more information.

“Very good. Right this way,” Max gestured at a door behind him.

Kara followed Max through the door and into a lead lined hallway. The security guard followed behind them. When they reached a door with a biometric lock Max stopped.

“Welcome home, Supergirl,” Max placed his hand on the lock pad and the opened the door.

Kara followed Max into the room, her heart sinking as she took in the Spartan features: white walls, bed, table, chair, and a screen taking up much of one wall. Another door was opposite the door they had entered. Max walked to the door and opened it revealing a small bathroom. Kara noticed the brands of toiletries stocked in the bathroom were the same as the ones she used. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. Anyone willing to hold a child hostage isn’t above breaking into someone’s apartment. What a creep!

“This is the only room not under observation by my team,” Max indicated to the bathroom. “There are sensors in the walls, ceiling and floor of the entire suite. I took the precaution of placing them behind the lead mesh lining this whole area - I will know if you decide to back on your word.”

Max walked over to the foot of the bed. He pointed up, “When it’s time for your shift this hatch will open for you to fly out. Conversely, upon the daily conclusion of your duties you will be notified when the hatch is open and you can fly in. Now, if you could be so kind, get into your Supergirl suit. My technicians will be here momentarily to install your monitors.”

Kara folded her arms and looked at Max.

“I’m not asking for a peep show,” he said. “You can use the bathroom.”

Kara stalked past him entered the smaller room and shut the door. Several seconds later she emerged dressed as Supergirl.

“Ah, there you are in all your caped splendor. Where are your civilian clothes?”

“In the other room,” Kara said as she folded her arms across her chest. “Why?”

“You won’t need them anymore. When you’re not out patrolling National City you will be here. You can either wear your hero outfit or clothing I will provide for you.”

A chime sounded.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Max snapped his fingers. “When you hear the chime you are to walk over there.” He pointed to the wall opposite the entry door and behind the bed, “Turn your back to the door. When you are in that position my people will know you are ready for them to enter. Any unnecessary delay, however, will cause young Mr. Grant considerable pain.”

Max sent Kara a pointed look. Rolling her eyes, Kara walked over to the spot specified by Max, and turned away from the door. This is pretty lame. Did Max forget I have super speed? I can still take out any threat that comes through that door.

Kara heard the door open and the sounds of several people entering.

She started to turn around until Max’s voice instructed, “Stay where you are Supergirl until you are directed to turn around by the person entering the room.”

“Um, you can turn around,” a different male voice said almost immediately.


Several people wearing lab coats were standing next to the table laden with technical equipment.  One of them, a blond haired man with a beard, asked, “Would you mind stepping over here, Supergirl?”

As Kara walked over to the group she couldn’t help but notice how nervous they were.

“Well, I see you are in good hands, Supergirl,” Max said. “I’ve got some other errands to attend to. My good friend, Cat Grant needs me to comfort her, assure her, let her know I’m doing everything in my power to keep her son alive and healthy.”

Max smiled as he strode from the room. Kara attempted to listen for his footsteps, his heartbeat, for anything outside of the room. The silence was deafening. He must have something blocking the sound outside this room. It isn’t the same thing the military used when they were interviewing J’onn J’onzz and Alex - that was an annoying high pitch. This is something different.

“It won’t take much time to get you set up. If you’ll just hold still for a few minutes …” The blond haired man trailed off as he and his team started their work.

A short time later the room chime sounded again. The tech team stopped their work and stepped away from Kara.

“Are you guys done?”

“No ma’am,” blond hair said. “You’re supposed to stand over there when the chime sounds. Mr. Lord instructed us to stop work immediately so you could. No one is allowed to enter your room until you’re in the spot.”

“And if I don’t?” Kara asked.

The man visibly gulped, “I thought Mr. Lord had explained to you what would happen to that child and you agreed to cooperate with him. Does that mean you’re going back on your word? Please don’t hurt us! I have a wife and three kids.”

Kara was stunned as she realized how terrified the people were of her. It reminded her of the reactions she saw after the red kryptonite debacle. What had Hank said? Plenty of people were scared of Superman but were afraid to say anything.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” she said moving around the group and over to the area Max had designated. She turned and faced the wall, back to the door, and heard another pair of footsteps enter the room.

“You can turn around now,” the blond haired man said. Beads of sweat dotted his forehead. “Would you mind stepping back over here so we can finish? Not much longer now.”

Kara turned and saw a short dark haired woman standing near the table. Her heart is beating like crazy. Everyone is afraid of me?

“I’ve brought your off duty clothing, Supergirl,” the woman said placing a plain mid-thigh white tunic, boy shorts and a pair of slippers on the bed. “If there’s any other underclothing, you need let me know the size and I’ll bring it to you. My name is Macy and I’ll be one of attendants.

This is surreal. I have attendants?

“Thank you, Macy. Let me get settled in and then I’ll have a better idea of what I’m going to need.” Kara gave the woman a small smile.

“Oh - here is your part of the speech for tonight. Mr. Lord says you are to memorize it before the press conference,” the woman said as she put a sheet of paper next to the clothing.

“Excuse me. Press conference?” Kara looked up sharply.

“Yes ma’am. Around five o’clock I believe. That’s all I was told.” The woman was trembling.

Okay Max, what other ‘little things’ are you going to spring on me?

“Funny. Max neglected to say anything about a press conference. I don’t recall agreeing to do a press conference either.” Kara looked at the blond haired man, “I suppose this is supposed to be filed under community service?”

“I guess so ma’am,” the man gave a halfhearted shrug. “I…I think we are about done here. Just a quick test and we’ll leave you alone. Would you mind levitating a bit?”

Kara floated above floor about a foot. The large screen on the wall activated and displayed the room from Kara’s perspective. The screen then divided into smaller screens where all angles, including overhead and underfoot, were captured.

“Perfect.” The man smiled. “Now would you mind giving me a ten count?”

Kara gave the countdown.

“Okay – we’ll do another check when you are up flying later on. We’re all done here. Thanks. Um, you’re supposed to stand back in the spot when people leave the room also. They won’t open the door for us until you’re in position.”

Kara walked over to the designated area, back to the door, and heard the footsteps as the people left the room. As soon as the door shut the room was quiet the only noise her super hearing picked up was her heartbeat. She let out her breath and sat down hard on the bed burying her face in her hands. It was the first time she was alone and had time to digest Max’s scheme. I should have known Max doesn’t have ‘Better Angels’. Now I have to worry about a press conference? Wonderful. I’m not even going to ask if this day could get any worse.

Kara picked up the paper at the end of the bed and grimly started reading the prepared speech as the weight of her situation settled on her shoulders. Okay. It was worse.

Chapter Text

Max strode down the hallway after leaving Kara to his assistants.  So far so good.  Time to play the concerned friend to Cat.  Max’s thoughts were interrupted by a woman walking toward him.

“Mr. Lord?” 

“Yes, Ms. Marek?”

“Mr. Smith is waiting for you at your office.  He arrived shortly after Cat Grant,” she stated.

“Thank you,” Max looked at his watch. “Timing is everything.  I’ll meet with him first then go see Cat Grant.  Let Peterson know I should be there no later than half an hour.  The press room is set up?”

“Yes sir.  All the networks were contacted.”

“Very good.  If James Olsen shows up representing Catco have security turn him away.  If he protests, have security remind him of his prior break in and threaten to call NCPD to have him arrested for trespassing.  Anyone else from Catco will be allowed in,” Max ordered.  “Make sure to follow the schedule I laid out for Supergirl.  The techs are to go in and out of her room every ten to twenty minutes to ‘check’ for equipment malfunctions.  I want her further conditioned to stand and face the wall when the chime sounds – to accept the minor inconvenience for the sake of the humans.  If there are any transgressions contact Peterson immediately so she can see the consequences on the monitor.”  He gave her a tight smile, “Now, are you okay with escorting Supergirl to the press conference by yourself?  I can have a couple of security guards go with you.”

“I won’t need anyone else.  If she refuses to cooperate with me it’s not like security force her to comply.  I’d rather not put anyone else at risk if she decides to turn violent,” Ms. Marek finished.

“Well, I’m pretty sure it won’t come to that.  Supergirl has given me her word to honor our agreement.  Hopefully that means something.  I’ll see you after the press conference,” Max dismissed his aide as he continued to walk until he reached his office. 

A dark haired man wearing a tailored charcoal gray suit was seated just outside the office.  An expensive leather briefcase was next to him. He stood up as Max approached and offered his hand.

“Mr. Smith.  Sorry for the delay,” Max greeted the man with a firm handshake.  “Step into my office where we can wrap this up.”

The two men entered the office and Max sat at his desk while Smith sat in the chair across from him.  Smith took out a small device and activated it.  He then placed it on the desk.

“Just making sure our conversation remains private,” Smith said tersely.

“Of course.  I must say, I’m impressed with your prediction of Supergirl’s reactions so far.  I always thought that profiling stuff was a bunch of mumbo jumbo for the press.  Hopefully it will continue to be on the mark.”

“It will be.  I’ve done extensive studies on her personality traits.  As long as you continue to adhere to the plan; extreme amounts of stress, negligible sleep, poor food, lack of familiar environs, no contact with former associates, isolation from positive stimulus unless it is provided by you or your team she will be yours in a matter of months.  She won’t even think of disobeying your directions – as long as they are in the parameters we discussed.  She has to see herself as a hero sacrificing for the greater good.  That means no directing her to do criminal activity of any kind, no using her powers for your own personal reasons, and no sexual advances.  I know she is a looker -”

“Oh please,” Max cut him off.  “She’s not even on my radar.  Her good friend? Agent Danvers? Now she’s a piece of ass I wouldn’t mind having.  I wonder if she’ll put out for me if I offered to let her talk to Supergirl?”

“Don’t even try it!  Stick to the plan we have in place!  Supergirl must not have any contact with former associates for this to work. I’ve invested a lot of time and resources into your project.  Don’t ruin everything over a piece of ass!

“All right.  All right.  I hear you,” Max held his hands up in mock surrender. “No sex.  Got it.  Now do you have the people in place for the planned catastrophes?”

“I’ve got all that under control.  My people are all getting hazard pay – just like in the Middle East.  They know there’s a chance Supergirl could screw up and one of them may die but they’re thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies – this sort of danger isn’t new to them.”  Smith took a thick binder from his briefcase and laid it on the desk in front of Max, “Here is the itinerary of planned events.  Make sure your team uses the exact wording when communicating to Supergirl – and follow the timetable exactly.  Some of these incidents can only be set up once.”

“Don’t worry.  I’ve got it handled on my end.”

“Good.  Now for the matter of payment.” 

“Go ahead and check your account.  I had the agreed sum wired into your Swiss account an hour ago.  I’ll continue to do the same each week until your people are no longer needed.”  Max stood up, “Is there anything else? I’ve got a busy day planned.”

“Nothing else.  I mean it, though.  Just stick to the plan.  Are you gonna kill the kid after its done? Car accident or something? My people can help if you need anything arranged,” Smith offered.

Max winced inwardly at the lack of emotion in Smith’s voice.  He didn’t mind tweaking the kid’s pain receptors occasionally to insure Supergirl’s continued compliance but murder was out of the question.  Max didn’t dwell on the fact that he was, in fact, torturing Carter.  Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good.

“I don’t think I’ll have to.  Peterson was able to have an MRI done and then insert a small receiver into the kid’s head before his mother showed up.  Luckily the kid has a lot of hair -hides the insertion point just fine.  Oh, and the powder you gave me worked great.  Mimicked a seizure perfectly.  Hopefully Supergirl doesn’t know enough about human illnesses to realize a virus isn’t activated by the push of a button,” Max walked Smith to the door where the two men shook hands again.  “Thanks so much.  I’ll be in touch if I need anything else.”

“Just remember – stick to the plan,” Smith advised as he left the office.

A short time later Smith entered the backseat of the limousine waiting for him at the front entrance to Lord Technologies.  He used the limo’s secure line to make a telephone call.

“Sir, everything is proceeding on schedule.  He still believes he is dealing with a private black ops company and not a government agency. There may be a problem, however.  Lord mentioned something about using Supergirl to get into an Agent Danvers' panties.  It could throw a monkey wrench into the whole plan,” Smith explained.

“No worry.  I know who Lord’s talking about.  She works for my daughter, Lucy.  I’ll have her keep an eye out.”

“Sir, is your daughter aware of what we’re doing?” Smith was worried.  Too many people with knowledge of the operation was dangerous.

“Nah – this is all strictly ‘need to know’ and Lucy doesn’t need to get involved with it.  I’ll feed her some bad information and ask her to keep an eye on Agent Danvers.  She’s my little girl.  I can control her.”  General Lane hung up the phone and smiled.  If Cat Grant hadn’t made the alien into a ‘symbol of hope’ Supergirl would have made a nice addition to Project Cadmus.  That’s all right, Ms. Grant, you’re a traitor to the human race.  Now your child will pay for your actions and Supergirl will be at our command.  

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

“Danvers!  Were you able to contact Supergirl!? We could use her help right about now.”  Lucy ducked as a piece of equipment flew over her head.  She and several other agents were trapped in the command center by an angry escaped prisoner as Alex and a contingent of other agents went to the armory.  Specially modified weapons were needed to immobilize and recapture the alien.

“I’ve tried her cell a few times.  She’s not picking up for some reason,” Alex relayed over the comm.  “Maybe she’s out playing hero.  You guys holding your own for now?”

“We’ll be fine – if you slackers decide to move your asses!” Lucy winced as she saw Brad thrown over a computer console.  Of all the weeks for Hank to be in Washington for a subcommittee hearing!

“We’re on the way now!”

“Better sooner than later – I think the containment system for the north wing might be compromised!  If we can’t reset the system, we’re gonna have a whole lot more problems to deal with.”

“Duly noted.  We’re in position now.”

Lucy peered around the equipment she was using as concealment in time to see several agents deploying electric charges at the alien.  He writhed and yelled before attempting to advance toward the newcomers then dropped to the ground, still thrashing. Agent Vasquez ran to the control console to reset the containment system.  Alex, and the now recovered Brad, approached the alien as he lost his grip on consciousness. 

“I want containment for the prisoner now!” Lucy ordered as she stood up holding her right shoulder.  “Vasquez – was the system reset successful?”

“Yes ma’am,” Vasquez answered.  “All prisoners are still contained.”

“Well at least there’s some good news.”

“Hey, are you alright?” Alex was approaching Lucy.  “Your shoulder is bleeding pretty good.  Let’s get you to the infirmary.”

“I’m fine Danvers.  Just got nicked by a flying computer console courtesy of our friend.”  Lucy glanced in the direction of the alien who was in the process of being loaded into a stasis chamber.

“Let me take a look,” Alex moved closer to inspect the wound and was unceremoniously pushed back by Lucy.

“I said I’m fine!  I’ll get checked out after I make sure my agents are all okay.”  Lucy surveyed the wreckage in the control room.  Hank’s gonna have my ass.  “Now get Supergirl on the line and tell her we handled the situation ourselves.  She and I will have a little talk later about answering emergency phone calls.”

Alex could see pinched look on Lucy’s face.  Oh – that’s more than a scratch.  Hank is gonna be so pissed at me.  Dammit Kara! Answer the phone! Where the hell are you?     

Chapter Text

 

Previously:

Max Lord held up a thick dull black leather collar with a shiny silver Lord Technology sigil on the front.  He then stepped over to where Kara knelt resisting a smile of triumph at the sight of Supergirl on her knees at his order.  Keep the mask on just a little longer.  He would take time to savor his victory later.  In private.  Slowly, deliberately, he pulled the hair away from her neck and fastened the collar around it.  There was no lock and only one setting.  Tight.  The cameras didn’t catch the very small sharp studs lining the inside of the collar which now were now digging uncomfortably into Kara’s neck. The irritants were unable to penetrate the Kryptonian’s skin yet served their intended purpose as a not so subtle reminder of her predicament.

“You’ll observe there is no lock.  Supergirl can take it off any time she wishes.  She can take it off now if she wants.  Do you want to take off the collar, Supergirl?”  Max looked at her with an air of paternal concern.

Kara shook her head. 

“I’m sorry, Supergirl, could you give your answer out loud for our visually impaired audience?”

“I will keep the collar on.”

Max then withdrew something from the inside of his coat jacket.  Bent down and attached it to the collar.  He stood next to Supergirl, still kneeling, with the other end of the leather lead in his hand.  “There you have it, folks.  Your city is safe.  Supergirl is on a leash.”

The room exploded a cacophony of camera flashes and reporters yelling questions.

Max Lord addressed the blond alien.  “Stand up.  Time to get started.  You have a city to protect.”  He then walked off the stage with Supergirl tethered behind him.

 

Aftermath:

 

Kara followed Max off the stage the reporter’s questions ringing in her ears.  She felt humiliated and embarrassed.  And angry.

“Just what the hell was that?!” Kara grabbed the leash from Max’s hand surprised he made no attempt to hold onto it.

Max turned to her, his face tight with anger, “That was a show.  I thought you understood that.  This is real.  Ms. Marek?”

The aide handed her boss a tablet.  Max tapped a couple times and the sound of Carter Grant screaming in agony filled the small soundproofed room.  Max turned the screen in Kara’s direction.  “You will never assert yourself over me again.  We went over the rules.  I thought you understood them.  Carter pays for your indiscretions.  You’ve earned him five minutes of this.  I hope you’re happy.”

On the screen she could see Carter thrashing in pain.  His face contorted in agony.  Cat was standing over him trying to comfort him.  Kara could see the tears falling from Cat’s eyes as she pleaded with the two doctors to help her son.  “Do something!  Help him!  Carter, I’m here.  Mom’s here.  I love you, baby.  Where does it hurt?  The doctors are going to help you. I'm right here. Help him!”

Kara watched as the doctors appeared to work over Carter.  Nothing they did alleviated the screams of pain coming from him.  Her eyes glanced at the closed door.  I’ve got to get him out of here and to a hospital.  I have to get him away from Max. 

Max saw Kara’s eyes flit to the door.  He took a step closer to her, invading her personal space.  Its make or break it time.  He spoke in a low voice, “Let me remind you, all it takes is a press of a button and Carter has less than two very painful weeks to live.  You can explain it to Cat.  You either keep your end of the agreement or Carter pays.  Your choice.”

“I’ll keep my end of the bargain.  I will. Just stop hurting him.  Please! I’m sorry.  Punish me – he didn’t do anything wrong.”  Kara felt boxed in.

Max shook his head sadly.  “You did this.  If I was to stop it you will never learn.  You know, I thought working for Cat Grant had taught you the difference between perception and reality.  What we did at the press conference was for show.  Your lack of control afterward?  Unacceptable.  Either you learn to curb your behavior or Carter Grant is going to have a very rough life.  Time to put on your big girl pants, Supergirl.  Grow up.  No one here is asking you to do the impossible.  Just do your job.  Be Supergirl.  Help the people of National City.  The stunt in front of the press was a demonstration to those whose trust you betrayed that things will be better -  you can be trusted to control yourself and your powers.  Nothing more.  And now you come with the attitude?  It. Does. Not. Work.  That.  Way.”

Carter’s screams punctuated Max’s lecture.  Kara barely tore her eyes away from the screen to look at Max.  She felt defeated.  He was right.  She let her pride and anger win.  Carter paid the price.  Was still paying the price.

“Please. I understand what you said.  I’ll do much better.  I won’t let it ever happen again.  Please. Is there anything I can do to make it stop?”

“This was your decision.  Actions have consequences.  Enjoy what you have done to that boy and his mother.”  Max turned to his assistant, “Take her back to her room when this is done.  I don’t have the stomach for this.”

“Yes Mr. Lord.”  Ms. Marek responded.

Kara wanted to curl up on the ground with her hands over her ears.   Instead she forced herself to watch Carter and Cat’s suffering.  She vowed he would never suffer again like that by her hand.  At the end of the longest five minutes of Kara’s life, Carter’s screams abruptly stopped.  Kara watched as Carter appeared to slump into an unconscious state.  Cat.  Oh Cat.  She was shattered.  Kara had never seen her look lost, frightened, defeated.  Cat, I’m so sorry.  I promise you.  It won’t happen again.  Ever.  I’ll be good.

“Come this way,” Ms. Marek’s prim voice sounded.  She led Kara back to her room.   “I told you before to watch your behavior.  I certainly didn’t enjoy what just happened.  That poor child.  I hope I’m never around if you do that again.  It was horrible.  Maybe, because you’re an alien, you don’t feel the same way we humans do.”  She shook her head as she pointed to the wall where Kara was expected to stand when humans entered or left her room.

Kara meekly walked over and faced the wall.  She didn’t notice the leash still attached to her collar until she heard Ms. Marek say, “You can take off that silly leash.  Mr. Lord says you can take the collar off too, when you are in your room.  Just put it on before you go out in public.  Please, Supergirl, just obey his rules.  I don’t want to see that child hurt again.”

Kara heard the door close and turned to face empty the room.  The wall monitor was on.  A picture, no sound, of Carter’s room.  It appeared to be live feed.  Cat didn’t look much different then she had a few minutes ago.  Broken.  One of the doctors, a woman, spoke with Cat.  Carter looked impossibly pale as he lay in bed.  An IV was in his arm and monitoring equipment took up almost all of one side of his bed. 

She slowly sat on her bed, watching the video feed, then realized her hands were still fiddling with that stupid leash.  She reached behind her neck and unbuckled unclipped the leash.  She left the collar on.  It was tight and uncomfortable.  She would use the sharp studs digging into her neck to reminded her of what would happen to Carter if she wasn’t compliant.  Didn’t obey.  Escape could come later – the important thing right now was to keep Max Lord happy.  Keep Carter safe.  Help Cat.  She could take discomfort.  She was strong.  She would sacrifice herself for him.  He was just a kid.

Max Lord chuckled as he watched Supergirl sitting on the bed, leash in hand, but collar still cinched around her neck.  His collar.  He loved it when he was right, which was, admittedly, most of the time.  Working with Supergirl and talking with her friends and coworkers gave him a pretty good understanding of her psychological make up.  Smith’s profile report only strengthened his belief he could manipulate her into subservience.  He knew she would be angry and humiliated after forcing her to kneel in that press conference, in front of all the reporters and cameras, then putting on a collar and leash.  Hell, who wouldn’t be?  He anticipated her outburst pleasantly surprised it wasn’t more physical.  While he didn’t enjoy putting Carter through the wringer, the satisfaction of watching the great Cat Grant totally lose it was worth the price of admission. The kid, well, he was just collateral damage.  If Supergirl was adept at learning lessons he shouldn’t have to worry about feeling any pain for a long time to come, if ever.  The collar still around her neck told Max she was using it to keep her focus, keep grounded, in her new life.  A life of obedience to humans under the direction of Max Lord.         

Chapter Text

Alex was stunned as the press conference came to an end. Did Max make another Bizarro? Kara never would have allowed him to collar and leash her like that. Why isn’t she answering her damn phone?

“Alex,” Lucy was finding her voice, “Has Supergirl checked in with you yet?”

“No. She’s not answering her phone either. I’ve tried her repeatedly since the incident earlier today and she hasn’t responded.”

“That can’t really be her, can it? Vasquez, have you tried Supergirl over the comm?” Lucy turned to Vasquez.

“The comm is dead. I don’t know if it was destroyed or turned off. We are not receiving any telemetry to track Supergirl’s location. The last area recorded was near Lord Technologies several hours ago. That’s all I can give you right now.” Vasquez was already breaking eye contact with Lucy to glance at Alex, “I’ll go back and sift through the data again and see if there’s anything else, ma’am,”

“Let me know if you need extra resources,” Lucy said bringing Vasquez’ eyes back to her. “We need to know if Max Lord does have the real Supergirl under his control.”

“We need to go there and get her back!” Alex exclaimed as she started to walk toward the armory followed by several other agents. Kara’s last location was near Lord Technologies? That means it probably was her. I’m so gonna fuck him up!

Stand down Agent Danvers!”

Alex was surprised to hear the note of command in Lucy’s voice. She stopped and turned toward Lucy who stood with her arms folded across her chest. The other agents looked at Alex then Lucy clearly conflicted. Lucy was technically in charge in Director Henshaw’s absence but they knew and trusted Alex.

“We have to at least question Max Lord. We can’t just sit on our asses! What if it is Supergirl? She needs our help now!” Alex hated every second she was delayed. The slow methodical approach never applied whenever her sister’s safety was involved. “She needs me.”

“We don’t know if it is Supergirl. Until we have confirmation one way or another we are not going to act. At least not until Director Henshaw gets back from Washington.”

“No. We need to -”

Agent Danvers, in my office. Now!” Lucy’s tone brooked no argument.

Alex followed Lucy into her office.

“Shut the door.”

Alex rolled her eyes and shut the door. Then turned to face Lucy.

“Lucy, Kara’s in trouble. We have to –,” Alex began only to have Lucy cut her off.

“Stop. You need to listen. Have you contacted James or Winn to see if Kara is at work or if they know where she is? Have you checked her apartment? Noonan’s? Called Eliza?” Lucy asked. “Maxwell Lord made a very public announcement a few minutes ago. If we illegally arrest him after that just what do you think will happen? What if it was not even Kara but some look alike? Maybe he is trying to goad us into doing something incredibly stupid.

Alex ran her fingers through her hair. She had to admit that Lucy had a point. Max Lord did like to play games. What if he was baiting her? She couldn’t fathom why Kara would ever kneel at Max’s command much less let him put a collar and leash on her. The woman at the press conference didn’t appear to be under duress or drugged. Maybe it was a look alike. After all, she didn’t use any super powers in front of the press.

Lucy began pacing. Alex could see something else was bothering her.

“What is it? There’s something else isn’t there?”

Lucy stopped pacing and turned to face Alex. Concern was written on her face.

“Do you think it’s a coincidence this happens when Director Henshaw is called to Washington unexpectedly for a secret subcommittee hearing? This is an election year. The president has plenty of opposition from the anti-alien coalition. I don’t think I have to tell you which side Max Lord is on. This could be part of a larger power grab. I’ve spent a good portion of my career in Washington. I know how things work behind the scenes. Max Lord has pull. He’s contributed a great deal of money to Senator Crane’s campaign and she’s heading the subcommittee on alien affairs. She knows Hank is an alien and isn’t pleased the president has allowed him to retain the Directorship of the DEO. What if this is a ploy to discredit him and have him sent to Cadmus? Supergirl too?”

“So what’s our game plan?”

“Like I said before. Let’s make sure it was Supergirl at the press conference.” Lucy fixed Alex with a no nonsense stare, “Either way, Maxwell Lord will be left alone for the time being. I mean it, Alex. Kara’s my friend too. If Max has done something to her, brainwashed her somehow, we will figure out a way of getting her back. I promise. Until then, we need information.”

“Fine. I’ll check with Winn and James. If they haven’t seen her then I’ll go by her apartment.” Alex turned to leave.

“Alex?”

Alex turned back around.

“I respect you. You’re almost a legend around here. The other agents hold you in high esteem,” Lucy began. “However, if you disobey my direct orders to stay away from Maxwell Lord –”

“I won’t.”

“Good. And Agent Danvers? I understand this is an exceptionally emotional situation for you which is why I’m cutting you some slack but don’t undermine my authority in front of the troops again. Ever. I expect you to follow the chain of command the same as everyone else. Any questions?”

“No Ma’am,” Alex was tempted to throw Lucy a mock salute. Then thought better of it. Lucy was right. They needed more information first. Kara’s strong. If that was her at the press conference she’ll know I won’t rest until she’s safe. “And Lucy – you’re right. I’m sorry for earlier. In front of the troops.”

Lucy smiled. She genuinely liked Alex.

“Apology accepted. Now let’s see what we can do about finding out exactly what is going on. Call James and Winn. See if they know where Kara is. If they don’t, check her apartment. Let me know what you find out. I’m going to have Vasquez and her team analyze the footage from the press conference. Frame by frame if necessary. You’re welcome to join them afterward if we haven’t located Kara. Meanwhile, I’m going to make a few calls to Washington.”

“Call your Dad?” Alex raised an eyebrow. General Lane had an almost irrational hatred of aliens. If anyone from Washington was behind this, it would be him. Maybe Lucy was actually a part of this!

Lucy’s next words calmed Alex’s fears.

“No. I love my father but I’m not blind to his hatred of aliens. I doubt he would give me information even if he had it. I have other sources, other people who are in the loop so to speak, who owe me favors. I’ll check with them after I call Hank.”

Alex nodded somberly. She wanted to call Hank, hear his calming voice, but it was Lucy’s responsibility. Hank will probably call me afterward anyways, if for no other reason than to reassure me.

“Anything else?”

“Not right now. Keep me apprised, Alex. Let’s get to work.”

Alex nodded once again and left the office. We’ll get you back, Kara. Depend on it.

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

Kara started as the chime sounded. She didn’t hesitate to stand and walk over to the wall. Carter wouldn’t suffer any more on her behalf.

“You can turn around,” Max said.

Kara turned to face him. Another man was placing a large cardboard box on the table.

“What’s that?” she asked nodding at the box.

“Breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Max reached into the box and held up a paper wrapped bar. “Each nutritious portion contains 5000 calories. Go ahead. Try one. I insist.”

Kara ignored the package in Max’s hand as she walked over to the table and looked into the box. Rows of identically packaged bars. She reached in and took a bar. It was about the size as a stick of butter. She unwrapped one end. It’s kryptonite green? How appealing.

“This is what you want me to eat?” Kara asked incredulously.

“Courtesy of Lord Technologies. I told you we would provide you with free room and board,” Max said then motioned magnanimously. “Go ahead, eat up Supergirl, you’re going to need the nourishment. You’ve got a city to protect. Can’t do it on an empty stomach.”

Kara sniffed at the solid bright green bar. Here goes nothing. Oh, yuck!

Max hid a smile as he saw the alien grimace.

“What’s the matter?” he asked in mock concern. “I made sure the lab had all flavor removed from the bar. There shouldn’t be any taste. If anything, it should taste like cardboard.”

Kara struggled. She really didn’t want to chew and swallow the small bit of ‘food’ in her mouth but she also didn’t want to affront Max Lord by spitting it out. Remember, he made Alex eat slugs and that was a date. You can do this for Carter. Kara swallowed.

“See. That’s not so bad. You’ll get used to it,” Max encouraged. “Remember, you’re not taking a paying job away from a human anymore. You won’t be able to purchase meals when you’re protecting National City. Oh, and don’t even think of accepting food from grateful humans for doing your job. You’re National City’s Hero, not beggar. Do we understand each other?”

Kara nodded.

“Excuse me? I didn’t hear your answer.”

“I’m not to accept food from grateful people,” Kara answered in a monotone voice. She hoped Max wouldn’t catch the loophole she left herself. His next words brought in a rush of disappointment.

“You are not to eat any human food. Nothing. Unless it is provided by me.” Max’s stare was piercing. “Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, what?” Max pressed.

“Yes I understand I am not to eat any food unless provided by you,” Kara answered.

“Good. I’m glad we’re coming to an understanding. Just in time too. Finish off your dinner Supergirl. Your first shift starts in about ten minutes. Prescott?” Max motioned to the man who had carried in the box of ‘food’.

The man procured a gray metal cup from his pocket. He set it down on the table next to the box.

“You can fill it with water from the sink in the bathroom,” Max instructed. “Remember, do not make contact with anyone from your past life. My people will be watching. Listen and follow their instructions. Carter will not appreciate any deviation on your part. See? He looks so peaceful now.”

Kara glanced at the monitor. Carter was lying in bed, eyes closed. He looked exhausted. Cat was holding his hand with both of hers as if she was trying to impart her strength into his body.  She could hear Cat murmur, "I love you, Carter," over and over.  Don’t worry, Cat. Carter will be fine. I won’t let Max hurt him anymore.

“I understand, Max. I’ll play by the rules.”

“Oh, one more thing. Don’t call me Max. That assumes a familiarity we don’t have. This is a working relationship. I call you Supergirl. You call me Mr. Lord or sir. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, Mr. Lord.” What a jerk!

“Much better, Supergirl. Now, we’ll leave you to your repast if you would be so kind as to stand in your spot?” Max motioned to the wall pleasantly surprised that Kara had already started moving in that direction as soon as he said he would be leaving. The conditioning is taking effect. Good. A few months or so and I’ll own her totally.

Kara turned around when she heard the door close. The ‘food’ bar was still in her hand. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast. She choked down the rest of the bar, grabbed the cup and filled it from the sink. Wow, ‘bread and water’. How original, Max. I’ll play your game now. You’ve given me no choice. But, when I figure out a way of defeating you without hurting Carter? I’m gonna kick your ass! Then I’ll have a triple order of pot stickers, four pizzas and a couple of gallons of ice cream.

Chapter Text

Kara was still looking at the monitor, watching Cat and Carter, when a loud annoying squeal pierced the silence.

“Supergirl. You have ten seconds before the hatch opens. Make yourself ready.” The voice was filtered through a machine. It was devoid of inflection or accent.

Kara took a deep breath and looked at the monitor one last time before walking over to stand under the hatch. I can do this for Carter. Actually, it’ll be good for me to just get out of here. Clear my head and make some plans. Figure out a way of letting Alex know what’s going on. If anyone can find a way to cure Carter, she can.

“Supergirl. Hatch is open. Depart immediately.” The voice ordered.

Kara looked up at the opening and frowned. It looked almost like a tunnel. Maybe four or five stories up? Lined with lead. Of course.

“Supergirl. Hatch is open. Depart immediately. Last Warning.”

“Okay. I’m going,” Kara muttered under her breath as she took off.

Flying over Lord Technologies she realized the entire exterior, with the exception of the atrium, was lined with lead. Rao, it feels so good to be free again!

“Supergirl. Tunnel collapse on the Veteran’s Memorial highway. South side. Numerous cars trapped. Proceed immediately.”

Listening to this going to be fun. Guess it’s better than Max’s voice.

Kara sped toward the tunnel taking in the damage to the entrance and parts of cars buried under the rubble. The events of the past few hours left her head as she worked feverishly to save those trapped and assist first responders. She was grateful no one appeared seriously injured.

The entrance to the right side of the tunnel was collapsed and A woman exited from a truck bearing the National City Highway Division logo on the side. She watched Kara assist the tow truck driver with a wrecked sedan then approached.

“Supergirl, glad you’re here. Can you help us while we shore up the tunnel? Otherwise it may be weeks before we can get the roadway open again.”

Before Kara could respond a voice in her ear intoned, “You may stay and assist.”

Kara blinked in surprise. She was so focused helping at the scene she almost forgot about Max and her predicament. “Uh, sure. What do you need me to do?”

Nine hours later Kara was still holding a large steel beam against the top of the tunnel while crews worked feverishly to shore up the surrounding area. Her neck muscles protesting from the awkward position. Every few minutes one of the engineers would have her shift the beam a few degrees or one of the workers would request her heat vision to weld a section together. No one spoke or looked her way, otherwise.

“Thanks, Supergirl. You can lower the beam now. Just load it on the truck outside,” one of the engineers instructed.

No sooner did Kara place the beam on the truck than her earpiece came to life, “Supergirl. Proceed to warehouse district. Police need assistance searching for an armed assailant. See Sergeant Biggs, patrol vehicle 27, for instructions. Proceed immediately."

Kara flew to the area and located the designated car.

“Supergirl. We’ve got a suspect armed with machine gun pistols. He robbed a liquor store a few blocks away. Pistol whipped the cashier. White male, dark pants, gym shoes, and black t-shirt. Tattoo on his left arm.” Sgt. Biggs flipped his notepad shut, “We’d appreciate your help.”

“I’ll find him,” Kara promised as she started scanning the buildings for the suspect. Within minutes the National City Police were handcuffing the disarmed suspect.

“Thanks Supergirl. Everyone wants to get home safely at the end of the shift.” Sgt. Biggs squinted a bit then asked, “What’s that around your neck? It looks like a damned dog collar. No offense,” he quickly added.

Kara was taken aback. She hadn’t forgotten the collar, it was too uncomfortable for that, but no one mentioned it at the tunnel collapse. How do I explain this?

“I take it you haven’t watched the evening news.” Kara asked.

“No. We’re on 12’s so my shift started at six. Don’t usually have a chance to catch up on the news until the next day.” The man sensed her hesitation, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want. Not my business.”

Kara thought about how easy it would be just to fly away and leave the question unanswered. Might as well figure out what to say now. Have to be careful not to offend Max or his crew.

“It is a collar. I’m sure you remember a few months ago. When my brain chemistry was altered and I … I did some horrible things. I don’t want that to ever happen again. Maxwell Lord offered to assist me. I’m wearing the collar so the people of National City know that I’m not under any influence – that I’m safe. Can be trusted.”

The police sergeant nodded sagely. “Okay. Makes sense although I personally would have gone with changing the color of the outfit or something along those lines. Anyway, thanks for the help. I’ve gotta go. Have at least a ton of paperwork to review before my shift ends.”

“Supergirl. Assist the fire department with a house fire. Possible people inside. McCall and Ormond Streets. Proceed Immediately.”

Night turned into day. It seemed Supergirl’s assistance was in demand everywhere. Kara was exhausted. And hungry.

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

A well-rested, well fed Maxwell Lord chuckled at the monitor. He then turned to the room’s other occupant.

“Keep her out there until the rain subsides. Give her no more than two hours’ recovery time then send her out again. A couple weeks of this ought to wear her down,” Max briefly flipped through the binder Smith provided. “Let me know immediately if she fails to comply in the slightest.”

“Yes, Mr. Lord,” Prescott acknowledged.

“Oh, and alert me if Superman decides to visit his cousin.”

“Yes sir.”

“I must say, I am surprised Agent Danvers hasn’t arrived to threaten me. I was looking forward to more press coverage,” Max sighed. “I guess someone must have her on a tight leash too.”

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

“Lucy, it has to be Kara out there. She hasn’t been to her apartment or at work. Cat isn’t there either. She sent a text to one of her senior editors about taking the reins for a few days. She didn’t even call.” Alex was pacing inside Lucy’s office. The door was closed.

Lucy looked up from behind her desk. Alex looks like she had as much sleep as I did. In other words, we both look like shit.

“I agree. It’s a very strong possibility that was Kara at the press conference. Especially since Vasquez ran facial recognition software from every possible angle. She finally crashed in the bunk room a few hours ago,” Lucy didn’t add she had to order Susan to get some sleep. “Brad checked all the kryptonite stores last night. Absolutely everything is accounted for. There’s no way Max Lord is using any kryptonite against Kara. At least not kryptonite from the DEO.”

Alex nodded.

“Good to know. Last time he was here, working on an antidote for the red kryptonite, I caught him trying to acquire some of our synthetic kryptonite. I wasn’t pleased.”

“Is there any way he could have gotten the formula and made his own?” Lucy asked.

“I asked Susan to check the computers. She discovered someone did try to access the molecular composition and formula to make the synthetic kryptonite. Luckily none of that information is kept on the DEO’s mainframe. Alex added, “I highly doubt Max would try to formulate any more synthetic kryptonite after his last attempt.”

Lucy remained quiet. Alex is so not going to like what I have to say next. There’s a reason I had her shut the door. Bet she’s going to ask me to spar with her after this.

“I talked to Hank last night,” Lucy began.

Alex remained silent.

“He ordered me to order you to stay away from Maxwell Lord and Lord Technologies. Actually, he said, and I quote, ‘Tell Agent Danvers she is assigned strictly to her lab until I get back. And no, she is not allowed vacation or sick time either.’ Alex, he doesn’t want you to leave the DEO for any reason until he’s back. He sounded very serious.”

“I know,” Alex said looking down at Lucy’s desk. “I called him last night, after you called him, and he read me the riot act. Remember when you said you thought there was more going on than Max Lord and Supergirl?”

“Yes.”

“Hank thinks so too. Obviously Senator Crane is not in our corner, she feels betrayed by Hank – I think she had a crush on him when she thought he was human,” Alex smiled at the memory. “It’s not just her, though. Even senators who are normally our allies sound like they are ready to shut us down. Supergirl’s behavior after the red kryptonite exposure is a major concern.”

Lucy nodded. Here is the part where Alex is going to flip out.

“Alex,” Lucy looked her in the eyes, “Hank is afraid they want to send Supergirl to Cadmus. They don’t care she saved the whole planet. The only one holding them back is the President. It’s an election year. If the President loses …”

“Send her to Cadmus?!?” Alex stormed. “What the fuck? She almost dies for every one on this planet and they want to – what? Experiment on her? Torture her?”

Lucy let Alex rant a few minutes longer before interrupting.

“That’s why Hank thinks its best we don’t go after Kara right now. Max’s press conference inferred she was under his control voluntarily and Max has a lot of pull with the anti-alien lobby. It could be the safest place for her in the long run until things settle down,” Lucy surmised. “Hank said he was approached by one of the senators, one of our allies, after the press conference. She thinks Max’s idea is brilliant.”

Alex was speechless. Kara, my brilliant, adorable, selfless, funny, compassionate, happy, wonderful sister handed over to Max Lord or Cadmus? Silent tears fell from Alex’s eyes. She didn’t notice Lucy’s eyes were also wet.

“I’m so sorry, Alex. Hank was supposed to finish his testifying this week but they’ve extended the hearing. Senator Crane is insisting Hank remain in Washington until the conclusion.”

A soft rap on the door drew their attention. Lucy dabbed at her eyes. She looked at Alex who wiped her face and turned away from the door.

“Come in.”

“Ma’am,” Agent Stevenson said. “One of Supergirl’s friends, a Winn Schott Jr., would like permission to enter the facility. Apparently Agent Vasquez contacted him sometime last night. I didn’t –”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I was there when Agent Vasquez spoke with him on the phone. Bring him to my office when he arrives.”

“Yes ma’am.” Agent Stevenson closed the door as he left.

“I’ll, uh, be in my lab,” Alex said motioning to the door. “I’ve got to call mom. Let her know what’s going on. Spar with me later?”

“Yes,” Lucy sighed. I have a feeling we’ll both be black and blue afterward.

Chapter Text

Cat Grant didn’t believe in miracles. Some things were inexplicable, lacked the proper facts to explain, but they weren’t miracles. However, at five o’clock in the morning, still seated next to Carter, still holding his hand, she believed she may have experienced a miracle. Carter woke up. He wasn’t screaming.

“Hey, mom,” he greeted her. His voice was raspy. “May I have some water? Really thirsty.”

“Carter?” Cat smiled then looked behind her as Adam stirred on the chair he was slumped in. She was grateful he was there. He didn’t have to come. He hardly knows Carter, or me for that matter.

“I’ve got it. I’ll get the doc too,” Adam said as he stood up, stretched, and left the room.

“How are you feeling? Are you in pain anywhere?” Cat smoothed the hair back from his forehead.

“I feel okay. Just thirsty. A little tired. You look tired too.”

Cat was about to answer when Adam returned with Doctor Peterson in tow. Doctor Grey strode in a few seconds later; eyes on the tablet she was holding.

“Here you go, Carter,” Adam said as he handed the glass to Cat.

She maneuvered the straw for Carter to take a sip.

“Thanks.”

“I’ve looked over Carter’s latest readings. Everything appears normal,” Dr. Grey said to Cat. She then smiled at Carter, “You’re a perplexing case, young man.”

“Normal, like I can go?” Carter was more than willing to leave Lord Technologies and never come back.

“No,” both Cat and Dr. Grey answered at the same time.

“I want him transferred to National City General right now,” Cat ordered Dr. Grey.

The doctor nodded, “I was about to suggest the same thing. There are some other tests I would like to run. I’d like to keep him for further observation. I don’t want to release him until we have more of a handle on what caused the seizures.”

Cat nodded in agreement as Carter put his hand over his face, “I have an important test tomorrow. It’s worth half my grade.”

“Your instructor will accept a stay in the hospital as an excuse,” Cat advised her youngest son.

“I’ll call for a medical transport,” Dr. Grey said. “I don’t believe, looking at these readings, a helicopter is needed.”

“I’ll have all of Carter’s medical data sent with you,” Dr. Peterson added. “It’ll save you from repeating some tests or redoing MRI’s. I’m sure Carter will appreciate that.”

“Thank you,” Dr. Grey nodded.

Several minutes later Carter, Cat and Adam were piled into an ambulance. Dr. Grey followed them to the hospital in her car. The trip was without incident and Carter was set up in a private room. Adam lounged on the bed next to Carter’s while Cat contacted several of her senior staff members to arrange for her absence. She would work from Carter’s bedside until further notice. Cat then left a text and voicemail for Kara. She was annoyed the young woman left when she should have known Cat would need her assistance – even if she wasn’t technically her assistant anymore. She knew about Kara’s other job but she still expected her to check in after whatever super thing she was doing was over. Emotionally and physically drained, she carefully climbed next to a sleeping Carter and fell asleep.

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

Prescott sat back with a smile of satisfaction. The hidden cameras in Carter’s room at the hospital were working perfectly. Mr. Lord will be pleased. Lucky the man has deep pockets. The hospital staffers he ‘hired’ didn’t come cheap.

Prescott’s thoughts were interrupted when Dr. Peterson walked into the office.

“Is that the live feed?” Peterson asked looking at the monitors and ignoring the other people in the room.

“Yeah. Clear as a bell.”

“Let Mr. Lord know I’m heading home to sleep. The kid’s doctor was given all the files. Should cause quite a conundrum unless they redo all of the tests,” Dr. Peterson said. “Their doctor’s sharp but I don’t see her putting the kid through the hoops if she doesn’t have to. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Prescott answered as he turned his attention back to the Supergirl monitors. So far everything is going without a hitch, damn, it’s even raining now. Guess Supergirl won’t have to worry about taking a shower today.

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

Really? It has to rain? Kara was drenched as she flew over National City waiting for her next assignment. She started to fly above the clouds when the rain started but was ordered by ‘the voice’ to remain under the clouds so she could see anyone who needed help. She advised ‘the voice’ that she had x-ray vision. The answer was still the same. Fly under the clouds.

A loud piercing squelch, almost debilitating, sounded in her ear. Kara hovered in the air, barely able to see, the sound stopped and ‘the voice’ warned, “Too close to Catco. Fly around. Last warning.”

Kara realized she was almost to Miss Grant’s balcony. Wow - didn’t even realize I was near Catco. As much as she yearned to check up on her friends she immediately turned around and flew away from the building. Carter’s safety was more important.

Three traffic accidents, one purse snatching, and a tire change assist on a metro bus – yeah, that was so much fun …not  - later and the rain finally started to let up. About time. I could use some sun right now. Actually I’m starving. Must be around noon. Yep – food, sun and sleep. Then, remembering the ‘food’ part of the equation she added not necessarily in that order.

“Supergirl. Return to your quarters. Proceed immediately.”

Kara cocked her head in surprise. That sounded like Max Lord. Maybe he heard my stomach rumbling and wanted to get a laugh watching me scarf down a bunch of those green bars. Psychotic bastard – I actually want to.

Kara arrived at the hatch entrance and waited as it opened. Once inside she grabbed the ‘off duty’ clothes from the end of her bed, snatched a green bar from the box, and headed into the bathroom for a quick shower. She looked at herself in the mirror. I’ve looked better. Damn, that cop was right – it does look like a dog collar. Reaching behind her neck she unbuckled the collar then placed it on a shelf next to the towels. That feels better. A quick x-ray scan revealed no surveillance equipment attached to the collar. Just thick black leather, the Lord Tech Logo, and small sharp studs on the inside. She undressed using super speed and threw her suit outside the bathroom and closed the door. Although I don’t really know if Max does or doesn’t have cameras in here. All I have is his word he’s not a pervert. Yep, that doesn’t count for much.

Kara showered and changed. She hadn’t found any surveillance equipment on the clothes when she checked them. Time for breakfast or lunch. Okay, these things are really bad. Kara grabbed the cup from the sink and filled it numerous times. Brush my teeth, hang my suit to dry and hit the sack. Rao, I’m tired.

As Kara stepped out into the main room she saw the monitor was on. Cat, Carter and Adam were in a different room. It looks like a real hospital. Carter looks better. Maybe Max is going to keep his word if I keep mine. Adam, I’m so glad you came - your mom needs you. Kara watched as Cat worked on her laptop glancing up at her two boys occasionally. A fond smile lit Kara’s face as she lay down in her bed. She closed her eyes to sleep. I’m exhausted.

It seemed like seconds later when a loud obnoxious blare filled the room. Kara sat up, wide awake, both hands to her ears to muffle the noise. Over her ear piece she heard ‘the voice’.

“Stand away from your bed and the alarm will deactivate.”

Kara practically jumped away from the bed and stood next to the table. She sighed with relief as the noise abated.

“Supergirl. You have ten seconds before the hatch opens. Make yourself ready.”

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding,” Kara moaned. I could use another ten hours of sleep. Shoot, my suit is still damp. Grab one of those bars to eat now and maybe stick one in my boot for later.

“Supergirl. The hatch is open. Depart immediately.”

The hatch opened and Kara flew out to face another shift. At least the sun is shining.

“Supergirl. Proceed to fire at recycling facility on Andover Street. Three people trapped in the building. Proceed immediately.”

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

Lucy watched as Winn and a bleary eyed Vasquez hunched over the main computer console discussing something. Winn looked increasingly alarmed as he feverishly typed commands on the keyboard.

“Hey, Winn. Glad you could join us,” Lucy said as she approached. She nodded to Vasquez and received a nod in return. “You two don’t look that happy. What’s going on?”

Winn glanced up at Lucy for a brief moment then continued typing feverishly.

“Winn thinks someone has ghosted the base computer. He’s not sure if it was Max Lord or maybe Indigo?” Vasquez looked to Winn with a raised eyebrow.

“No. Not her.” Winn’s answer was immediate even though his eyes never left the screen. “Totally different.”

Lucy opened her mouth to ask how Winn could tell the difference when she was remembered something. She went to another computer console and began typing in commands.

“I don’t believe it. They locked me out,” Lucy was annoyed. “Don’t worry about it, Winn. I’m pretty sure I know who’s keeping tabs on us.”

Winn stopped typing and looked at Lucy, “You do?”

“Yes. I believe Lt. Colonel Harper ordered it when we were conducting an investigation of the DEO after the Jonn J’onzz incident. I thought it was shut down. My mistake. Someone in Washington has had a chance to access all of our files for the past few months.”

“Do you want me to shut it down? I can probably do that,” Winn offered already turning back to the computer console.

“No. Don’t bother,” Lucy said as she motioned for Vasquez to come closer. When all three were hunched over the computer console she said, “I’d rather not raise any suspicions. Susan, were going to have to be more judicious with the information we add to the base computer.”

Vasquez grinned. Lucy found her in Alex’s lab late one night working on a computer program. Lucy was curious as to why she was using Alex’s computer and learned Alex had discreetly disconnected it from the base computer. The only other person who knew was Jonn J’onzz. Lucy realized Alex was able to do research on Kara’s physiology and keep it private. Alex had Vasquez set up a ‘dummy’ program. The program filtered Alex’s findings, removed any sensitive material, then sent the rest to the base computer as though it came from Alex’s computer unaltered.

Lucy was ‘suggesting’ Vasquez do the same for the DEO’s base computer.

“I can do that. Will take a while, though.”

“Whatever you need. Get started now. I’ll have Cannon take the rest of your shift now then coordinate with Wakefield and Rivera to cover your shifts until you’re done,” Lucy looked at Winn. “Thanks for helping out, Winn. I guess you’d better get back -”

“Hey, I can stay and help. Right?” Winn looked to Vasquez.

“I could use the help, Acting Director Lane. He is the one who found the ghost to begin with.”

Lucy acquiesced, “Okay. Let’s get this done. Winn, I don’t have to remind you-”

“I know. I know. Non-disclosure forms await,” Winn sighed. Lucy was such a lawyer.

“I’ll let Alex know you’ll be sharing her lab for a while. Aside from Alex, none of this is to be discussed with anyone else,” Lucy ordered.

“Yes Ma’am.”

Winn nodded, “My lips are sealed.”

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

James was not having a good day. He hadn’t heard from any of his friends after he talked to Alex the day before. When he heard Supergirl was helping workers fix the tunnel he decided to do some ‘investigative photo journalism’ only to be stopped by a bored cop assigned to block the roadway.

 

“Sorry, bud, you’ll just have to use your telephoto lens if you want a picture. The tunnel’s unstable. They don’t want anyone near it in case of further collapse,” the officer was unimpressed by James’ press credentials.

“I thought Supergirl was supposed to be here,” James remarked. “I don’t see her.”

“I haven’t seen her. I think she’s inside the tunnel. Holding it up so the guys can get the work done faster. Easier than calling in a bunch more of equipment.”

James took some photos and walked to his car.

“Supergirl. I know you can hear me. I’m going to call Superman. See if he can help. Stronger together and all that,” James said as he entered his car.

 

Cat Grant called him at six-thirty the next morning to assign him some new responsibilities while she was ‘away from the office’. She hung up on him before he had a chance to ask about Kara.

When James arrived at Catco an hour later he learned Winn had already called in sick for the day. He texted Winn who sent back a terse, “Busy. With Alex. Talk later.” I bet this is going to be one of those ‘sick all day’ call ins. I wish I could be out there helping.

James was busy until noon. He decided he needed to talk to someone and called Alex.

Several minutes later ….

“I know, James,” Lucy said into her cell phone. “Alex has her reasons for saying what she did. No, I don’t know what they are. I’ll ask her later. Maybe she’ll apologize. Go ahead and get in touch with Superman. Maybe he can help. James? Tell him to make contact surreptitiously. Away from prying eyes. No, I can’t go into detail about that right now. Later. Take care, Bye.”

Lucy turned off the phone and looked over at Alex.

“Do you mind telling me what that was all about?” she asked.

“I kind of lost it when he told me he was at the tunnel collapse yesterday. Not his fault – I’m just frustrated being stuck here where I can’t do anything.” Alex looked sheepishly at Lucy.

“Everyone is frustrated. Alex, we all love Kara, she’s special. Not just as Supergirl but as Kara.” Lucy smiled and went on, “There are three things you need to know about James; He’s unbelievably compassionate, he’s dedicated, and he believes the sun rises and falls on Superman. Let Superman give it a shot. Maybe he can help his cousin. At least we may gain more information as to what’s going on with Kara.”

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

Max Lord walked into the room he dubbed his ‘Supergirl Command Room.’ Three of the walls were lined with monitors showing both Supergirl and Carter Grant in real time. The room was staffed with four people at all times. Max noticed Prescott and his crew were gone. At least they’ll get more sleep than Supergirl.

“How long has our girl been out there?” Max asked Jones.

“Approximately three hours and forty minutes, Mr. Lord.” Jones was a no nonsense beefy man, “She has had exactly one minute fifteen seconds of ‘free time’. She has performed within the parameters you set without deviation. An incident is scheduled in another twenty minutes if you care to wait.”

“No. Just make sure he stays extremely busy for the rest of your shift. Have Prescott call her in again after ten tomorrow morning for a couple hours of sleep. Make sure he uses my voice recording when he does it. I want to condition her to associate my voice with positive things. I’ll talk to her face to face in a few weeks. By that time, she ought to fall all over herself to make me happy like a puppy does for its master.” Max smirked and straightened his suit, “Right now I’ve got a few interviews to do. It seems everyone wants to know about the man who holds Supergirl’s leash.”

Chapter Text

Lucy was disgusted as she turned off the local news. Maxwell Lord was grandstanding, as usual, and the vultures were eating it up. Without Cat Grant’s leadership, even Catco allowed him to spin Supergirl into a threat. When Cat finds out what News Chief Jarrell is doing, I probably will be able to hear her fire him all the way here at the DEO.

“You asked to see me?” Agent Morrish stood at the doorway to Lucy’s office.

“Yes, Mike, come on in. Close the door.” Lucy caught the look on his face and reassured him, “you’re not in trouble or anything like that.”

Morrish visibly relaxed.

“I have an assignment for you. One that requires the utmost secrecy. No one is to know.”

“Sure boss, not a problem. What do you need me to do?” Mike asked. He was one of the DEO’s ‘techno wiz kids’. He was offered much more money in the private sector, even Max Lord had tried to hire him, but it wasn’t money or the spotlight that motivated him. He loved working for the DEO for the same reasons the other agents did; because he felt it was the right, the honorable, thing to do with his talents.

“I need ten very small, very effective, jamming devices. Something that can be switched on and off. Maybe mimics cell phone interference. I want them set up so that if anyone is listening either with a parabolic mic or a hidden mic, they won’t realize they are being jammed.”

Mike whistled, “Whew, you don’t ask for much.”

“Can you do it?” Lucy frowned.

“Of course I can. How soon do you need them done?”

“Literally as soon as possible, if not sooner,” Lucy said. “Let me know if you need anything. I’ll talk to Ted and tell him I’ve reassigned you to me for the time being. Keep your Lab door locked. I don’t want anyone accidentally walking in while you are working on the project.”

“Sure thing boss. Should have something rigged up by the end of the day,” Morrish stood to go. “Anything else?”

“No. Thanks Mike,” Lucy smiled. She picked up her cell after Mike left the room. “Hey James. I know you’re swamped. Listen. Have you contacted your friend from Metropolis yet? Good. Before you do I need to meet with you. How about six? Okay, I’ll meet you at Noonan’s that way you can head back to work as soon as we’re done.”

 

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

 

“Hey James,” Lucy waved as he walked into the popular shop.

James walked to the booth she was seated in and noticed the dinner Lucy had already ordered for them.

“I know you’re on a tight schedule so I took the liberty –”

“Thanks, Lucy. What’s so important you needed -” James began.

Lucy grabbed his hand in hers and shook her head slightly. James pulled his hand back as he palmed the small piece of technology she had placed in it. Lucy moved her napkin slightly and James saw a replica of the device he held in his hand.
Lucy then activated it then put her hand to her face, partially covering her mouth, “When you talk to Superman make sure you use the jammer and try to conceal your mouth so no one can read your lips.”

“Aren’t you being a little paranoid?” James asked as he moved his napkin to wipe his lips.

“It’s better to be safe. This thing with Kara may go much deeper than Max Lord. Whenever you’re talking about her to Winn, Alex, or even Cat for that matter, turn on the jammer,” Lucy said then motioned to his dinner, “Now eat up. Dinner’s getting cold.”

 

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

 

“Hey Jimmy, how’s National City treating you?” Superman gave James a clap on the shoulder.

“Well, up until yesterday, things were pretty good. Now? Not so much,” James scratched the side of his face to partially obscure his lips. The jamming device was already activated.

The smile left Superman’s face.

“I saw the news yesterday. It was all Lois could do to keep me in Metropolis. What happened, Jimmy?”

“All I’ve pieced together so far is Cat Grant’s son got sick or something while on a field trip to Lord Tech. Max Lord called Cat to let her know and Kara went with her. Cat called me early this morning to delegate some of her workload while she stays at the hospital with her son. She hung up before I could ask her about Kara – not that she knows, you know, anything,” James finished a little flustered.

“She hasn’t called anyone since she went with Cat? Just showed up on the news bowing down to Max Lord? Are we sure it’s her – not some kind of look alike?”

“Lucy’s pretty sure it’s her. Alex is too. We don’t know if it is some kind of kryptonite or brainwashing. She has been out fighting crime, helping people, all night and day. She could have come to Catco, or called us, and she didn’t,” James shook his head. “I thought you might be able to help.”

“I guess it’s time I had a visit with my cousin.”

“Oh – I forgot to tell you, Lucy thinks you should try and talk to her away from ‘prying eyes’. She thinks this whole thing goes deeper than Max Lord.”

“Ah – that’s why you have a jamming device. Lucy give it to you?” Superman raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah. She’s kinda spooked about the whole thing. She has a lot of connections in Washington. If she says to ‘be careful’ there’s got to be a reason.”

“I’m sure it has something to do with the anti-alien movement. They are really gaining ground in the election polls. I’m thinking of taking a foreign assignment, maybe New Zealand or Canada, if the President loses the election,” Superman said. He added, “at least until things settle down,” when he saw the shocked look on Jimmy’s face.

“That’s very … unlike you,” James finally found his voice.

“You know? I was raised here. I’ve tried my best to help my neighbor, lend a hand, like my dad taught me,” Superman shook his head. “Now I don’t recognize the people I grew up with. Fear and anger have replaced calm and reason. Maybe it is time for a change of scenery.”

James’ cell phone pinged. He checked the text. “Supergirl is at the Oil Depot helping fire fighters with a blaze if you want to catch her.”

“Okay, I’m off. Take care, Jimmy… James.”

Shit. He never called me James before. He must be worried.

 

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

 

My third fire of the day. I swear there’s a pyromaniac roaming around National City. At least no one’s been hurt in the fires and the first fire dried my suit.

“Supergirl. We’re going inside to check for hot spots. Mind leading the way?” Battalion Chief Stratton asked.

Several minutes later, assured she was no longer needed, Supergirl resumed her patrol. Until a streak of blue blindsided her.

I thought they were supposed to warn me if they saw anything coming? Kara felt almost crushed by arms encircling her. Kal? No! Kara fought to free herself then turned to face her cousin who was hovering a few feet away.

“I am monitored, as I am sure you are aware, so please speak in English,” Kara said. Don’t give yourself away – don’t make me say Clark or they’ll figure out who you are.

“Nice collar, cuz. Caught your little show on TV last night. What’s going on?” Glad she gave me the heads up. Shows she has some autonomy. I’m sure her handlers would love to figure out my earth identity.

“If you saw the news why are you here? I thought my speech was rather self-explanatory. I’m tired of people looking at me like I’m a monster. Now, they see the collar, and they know I’m okay. I’m there to help them.”

“Supergirl, everyone has a bad day –”

“Yeah, well my bad day nearly cost my family and friends, not to mention innocent people, their lives,” she spat back. “I’m not going to let that happen again.”

“Your friends are worried about you. I’m worried about you,” Superman said softly.

“Let them know I’m fine. Really. There’s no need to worry. My path isn’t yours and that’s all right. I want to be Supergirl all the time, to be the hero my mother wanted me to be. Maxwell Lord has given me the opportunity to do that.”

“We can go –”

“I’m not going anywhere!” Please don’t say Fortress of Solitude. Leave. Keep your secrets, Kal. Go!

You’re sure? What do you want me to tell your friends?”

“Give them my thanks and love,” Kara responded. “Tell them this is what I want to do. I hope they can respect my decision.”

“Supergirl. Construction accident. Ditch collapse. Construction worker buried. 2456 Morningside. Proceed immediately.”

“Superman, I’ve got to go. A construction worker is buried in a ditch.”

“Yeah, I heard,” Superman and offered a half smile. “Want some help?”

“Nah, I got this. Thanks for checking in but I’m okay, really,” Kara nodded.

“Supergirl. Construction accident. Ditch collapse –”

“On the way,” Kara said as she sped off.

Superman hovered for a few seconds and then flew in the opposite direction. There was something to the sharp look she gave him when she told him she was monitored.  Got your message loud and clear, Kara. I’ll let Jimmy know you're okay and you know what you're doing.  You just need some time to work out whatever it is Max Lord has over you.

 

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

 

Alex had way better weeks then the way this one was shaping up. Three days passed and her sister was still enthralled to Max Lord. Superman refused to help any further than his one brief talk with her, she was forbidden to leave the DEO, Winn and Vasquez commandeered her lab computer, Lucy was running around changing all the command codes for the base, James was inundated with work, Hank was still in Washington, and Eliza was flying in from Midvale on Saturday.

And then there was Cat Grant. Kara’s boss. The one who led her straight to Max Lord. Maybe lured is a better word. Cat and Max were an item years ago. What if working together on the Myriad crises brought them back together? I know Kara thinks Cat forgave Supergirl for throwing her off her balcony. What if she didn’t?

“Hey, Jackson,” Alex greeted one of the best sparring partners she ever had.

He eyed her warily. It was common knowledge Alex was on a tear. A couple of her sparring partners had to see the base physician after their sessions with her this week. The base betting pool had pretty good odds she would knock out her next opponent. He wasn’t relishing the thought it would be him.

“Danvers. Heard you sent Timmy to the Doc’s,” Jackson casually observed.

“Guess he’ll keep up his guard up from now on. Listen, I’ve got an errand to run. Can you let Director Lane know I’ll be back in a few hours?” Alex gave Jackson her best ‘trust me’ smile.

“Sure thing, Danvers,” Jackson smiled back. “How long do you want me to wait before I let her know?”

Alex really smiled for the first time since this whole fiasco began. I love these guys. “Uh, could you wait for an hour or so?”

“Sure,” he chuckled. “Guess I’ll finish the paperwork from the alien capture last night. At least that should make Director Lane happy.”

Lucy was a stickler for reports completed and turned in on time.

“Thanks.”

Alex left the DEO and headed to National City. Time to have a chat with Cat ‘treat my sister like shit’ Grant. Alex was well aware of the betting pool at the DEO. If she found out Cat Grant colluded with Max Lord to somehow control Kara? Well, Cat might be the knockout the guys were betting on.

 

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

 

Cat Grant sat working in her living room. She looked up from another boring budget request to see Adam and Carter scrawling on notepads as Adam tutored Carter in the wonders of physics. A private nurse, hired by Cat, was thumbing through his phone.

Numerous tests, blood work, the brain scans provided by Dr. Peterson; everything pointed to the fact there was nothing wrong with Carter. Dr. Grey was at a loss to explain the seizures. Carter Grant was a healthy young teenager. She released Carter from the hospital and gave Cat a list of recommended private nurses to hire if she chose.

Cat immersed herself reading financial plans and requests to prepare next year’s budget. Normally she detested this time of year but, with Carter’s medical emergency, she welcomed it. She could work from home, spend time with her sons, and recover from the emotional roller coaster of the past few days.

The penthouse occupants were startled by insistent knocking on the front door. At the same time Cat’s private cell buzzed.

“Ms. Grant. I’m terribly sorry,” the concierge blubbered. “The FBI agent said she’d arrest me if I didn’t let her up to see you. I would have sent security with her but Joe’s in the underground garage changing Mrs. Taubman’s car tire.”

The knocking turned into banging.

“It’s okay, Tony, I think I know who it is,” Cat assured him. “Have security come up to my penthouse when he’s done.”

“Adam stay there with your brother. I’ll get the door,” Cat threw a glance his way as she strode to the door. “Agent Scully. How unexpected to see you.”

“I bet,” Alex spat back. As she forced her way past Cat and into the foyer.

“Don’t you dare take another step into my residence or I will call your boss and you will be filing papers the rest of your very short career,” Cat hissed. “I have a sick child here-”

“No one here looks sick to me,” Alex countered as she took in Adam, Carter, and the nurse. “My sister, on the other hand, is missing. You were the last one seen with her.”

“What do you mean she’s missing?” Adam asked. He recognized Alex from Noonan’s.

“Agent Scully, in my study. Now!”

Cat was already striding down the hallway to the office. Alex at her heels. She motioned Alex to a chair as she shut the door then walked behind her desk and waited deliberately until Alex sat in the proffered chair. Languidly she sat in her own chair as Alex ‘stared daggers’ at her. Cat, veteran of more than a few vitriolic board meetings, was unimpressed.

“Now start from the beginning,” Cat skillfully took charge.

“Kara’s missing. You took her to Lord Technologies on some bogus medical emergency a few days ago and she hasn’t been seen since,” Alex accused. “I want to know what you and Max Lord did to her. I want to know now!

Blood rushed to Cat’s face. Roared in her ears. You impertinent little bitch! Bogus medical emergency?

In a very quiet, very deadly voice, Cat replied, “My son was deathly ill, screaming in pain, when I got there. He was so sick he couldn’t be moved to a hospital until almost a day later. He was only released from the hospital this morning. After all their tests, the Doctors still don’t know what happened. Yes, your sister accompanied me to Max’s. It was at his request. I don’t know why, though. His security guards wouldn’t let her come with me to see Carter. When I asked Max later, he told me she left. She left without even an inquiry into Carter’s condition.”

“Well, she didn’t leave. She’s missing.”

“Don’t be silly. I’ve caught small snippets of the news. She’s flitting about saving people doing her little heroic thing. She can’t be bothered to check on a little boy who thinks the world of her,” Cat couldn’t keep the hurt out of her voice.

Alex wasn’t sure what to say next. Did Kara tell Cat ‘I own a media empire’ Grant that she is Supergirl? Really, Kara?

Cat took in Alex’s stunned expression, “Oh please, did you think I was that gullible? I’ve known she was Supergirl for months. Why do you think I promoted her and gave her an office with no windows?”

Alex considered for a moment then a thought struck her.

“You say you’ve only caught ‘snippets’ of the news. The day you went to Lord Tech with Kara. Did you see the press conference with Supergirl and Max Lord later that day?”

“I was more concerned for my son’s life – he was in so much pain and the doctors couldn’t help him. No. No, I wasn’t watching any press conference,” Cat shook her head.

“Well maybe you should see it,” Alex motioned to Cat’s laptop.

Cat pulled up and played the footage. Was this a joke? She played it several more times. She let Max Lord put a collar and a leash on her?

When Cat was finally able to tear her eyes away from the screen she looked up at a teary eyed Alex and softly said, “I’m sorry. There’s no way I would have known. I was so worried about Carter I …”

Cat’s face went white. There is no fucking way Max Lord did something to Carter so he could lure Kara to his facility! No fucking way! Max is as slimy as they come but even he wouldn’t do something like that. Not to my son. Even as she thought it, though, she knew there had to be a connection between the two events.

Alex saw the moment the realization hit in Cat’s eyes and instantly felt sorry for the woman. She really looked at her for the first time noticing she wasn’t her coiffed best: bags under the eyes, no make-up, hair pulled back in a ponytail. She looked like she went through hell the past few days. I don’t think she and Max were colluding on this. That bastard hurt her kid to get Kara? Oh, Lucy, I know I promised not to go near Max but-

“I need some time to think,” Cat stood up and started to pace.

“Cat. I’m sorry but there’s something else you need to know.”

Cat needed to know the entirety of the situation. Alex just didn’t want to be the one to tell her. Here goes.

“The anti-alien movement has gained a lot of followers lately. Voters. In an election year. Max deliberately played into their sympathies and fears with that press conference. You saw it. He assured people he could control Supergirl then he put a dog collar and leash on my sister and paraded her off the stage. Since then no one, not James, me, Winn, my mom, no one who cares about Kara can contact her,” Alex’s eyes threatened to spill tears. “My boss, you know him as Agent Mulder, was suddenly called to Washington on a hastily convened subcommittee hearing regarding our – our branch of the FBI.”

Cat rolled her eyes.

Alex continued, “He’s testified for the past week. Senator Crane heads up the subcommittee and we both know how much she likes aliens. He won’t be back until next week. Senator Crane wants him to stay in Washington in case further clarification is needed.”

“I see. So she’s making sure he can’t help with the situation here.”

“Yeah. That’s what Lucy figures, too. Lucy thinks this whole thing is bigger than Max Lord. My boss thinks so too. He was approached by a senator from our side who believes Max Lord controlling Supergirl is a great idea. It’s six months to the election. If the President loses …. Supergirl, hell Superman, won’t have anyone to champion them. My boss thinks its best, for the time being, not to interfere with Max Lord. I … I don’t know if I can do that. She’s my little sister. I’m supposed to watch out for her!”

Cat nodded slowly. A plan already formulating. Mr. Maxwell Lord, you will regret the day you were born!

 

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

 

“Director Henshaw, it’s good to see you again, sir,” Vasquez smiled as Hank poked his head into Alex’s lab. She and Winn were putting the finishing touches on their incredibly complex program.

Hank smiled, nodded, and left the room. Feels good to be back among friends. Time to track down Alex and Lucy.

Several minutes later Hank was standing in one of the training rooms watching Lucy and Alex beat the snot out of each other. I guess Jackson was right - Alex was trying for a career in the MMA. He winced as Alex landed a vicious kick into Lucy’s rib cage. That’s enough. He reached up and grabbed Alex’s base leg as she attempted another kick. He expertly ducked as she swung wildly at his head.

“Hank! When did you get back? It’s so good to see you,” Alex hugged him around the neck.

“Director Henshaw, welcome back,” Lucy said trying to maintain decorum while sucking in as much air as she could.

“It’s good to be back. I hate to break up your sparring session but-”

“Oh no, no, it’s fine,” Lucy hurriedly assured him as she jumped off the training platform.

“Meet me in my office in fifteen.” Hank said.

Fifteen minutes later the group convened in Hank’s office. Hank, seated behind his desk motioned for the two women to sit.

“I’ll hold a full debrief later. I wanted to fill you in on a development first.” Hank took a deep breath, “I’m voluntarily wearing a device that limits my abilities. The same type as Lt. Colonel Harper’s people developed.”

Alex started to speak and Hank held up his hand, “I’ve also voluntarily confined myself to base. You have no idea how precarious our position at the DEO is. If the president doesn’t win the election the DEO will be absorbed into Army Intelligence. Our prisoners will be transferred to Cadmus. Any misstep on our part will play directly into the hands of the president’s opposition. We can’t afford it. Wearing this device and confining myself to base was, how shall I say, strongly urged by the subcommittee.

They sat in silence for a minute before Alex spoke, “What’s going to happen to Kara?”

 

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

 

Maxwell Lord walked into Kara’s room. She stayed standing, facing the wall, not even moving her head to see who was in the room. He let her stand for another five minutes.

“You can turn around, Supergirl.”

He took in her appearance. Not bad for someone who averaged two hours of sleep a day for the past fourteen days. Must be those alien genes.

“I want you to sit down on the chair.” No hesitation at all, good. Now for the pep talk.

Max walked in front of the table where Kara was seated.

“My, how time flies. Been a while since we had a chance to chat, Supergirl. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you from my people. I’ve also had a chance to watch you in action. It always makes me happy when I can call you home for some well-deserved rest. I watched your confrontation with Superman. Very impressive.” That made her eyes light up. Smith was right – she really responds to the praise. “You’ve done such a good job so far I thought I would reward you with a treat.” Oh, that really got her attention. Time for a bit of training. “Before I give you your treat I want you to put both of your feet flat on the ground. Good. Sit up nice and straight. That’s good. Put both hands flat on the table. Excellent. Exactly like that. From now on, whenever I visit you, I want you to sit precisely like that after I release you from your standing spot. My schedule is very busy. When I make time to visit you I want your full attention. Do you understand?” Oh no. No head nodding. “I want that out loud.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Very good.” Max reached into his suit jacket pocket and produced a food bar wrapped in yellow, “Here is your treat. I had the lab make this honey flavored.” Max set the bar on the table in front of Kara. “That’s right. Don’t reach for it until I tell you to.” I’ll let her look at it for another five minutes or so. Meanwhile its time to chat about little Grant. “I see Carter Grant is going back to school. He has you to thank for that.”

Max kept up the idle prattle for another few minutes. I think training is done for the day. Now it’s time to see if Smith’s other prediction holds true.

“Go ahead. You may have you’re treat now,” Max smiled at her apparent eagerness. The bar was gone in a few seconds. “Did you enjoy you’re treat?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m sure it tasted better than the other bars, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Glad to hear it. Now go stand in your spot. I have an appointment to go to.”

He watched as she walked over to stand facing the wall again. Huh, Smith was right. No difference, aside from the color of the bar and me telling her it was a treat, and she thought it tasted better. She keeps progressing like this I will have my own personal Kryptonian body guard by the time the election rolls around. I wonder how many dates I could get out of Agent Danvers for a chance to talk to her sister?

Max walked out of the room chuckling to himself.

Chapter Text

“Witt. My office. Now.”
 
Cat walked past Winn’s desk with James in tow behind her.  She strode behind her desk retrieved a jamming device, courtesy of Alex Danvers, from her desk drawer and activated it.  Then motioned for Winn to close the office doors.  She picked up a piece of paper with hastily scribbled notes on it.   
 
“Either one of you notice that in the past month National City’s crime rate has risen twenty percent? We’ve also had an overabundance of buildings collapsing, planes in trouble, construction site accidents, cave ins, near drownings, ships sinking in the harbor, tunnels collapsing, on and on and on … oh, and fires are up by sixty percent.”
 
Cat looked up at her two employees.  When neither spoke she prompted, “Coincidentally, our city started falling apart at the seams as soon as Max Lord took ‘control’ of Supergirl.  Any guesses as to why?”
 
“I can’t say exactly why, Ms. Grant,” James said.  “I have noticed Supergirl’s kept very busy by all of the crime and mishaps National City has recently experienced.  If someone wanted to focus press coverage on how much more heroic Supergirl is under Max Lord’s control these ‘incidents’ certainly do it.”
 
“Yeah, she goes from one calamity to another.”  Winn interjected then stammered as Cat and James looked at him questioningly, “I’ve … I’ve been keeping a log.  It seems Supergirl is busy almost twenty-four hours a day.  I don’t think she gets much sleep.”
 
“Maybe she doesn’t need sleep.  She is, after all, an alien,” Cat challenged.  She knew little of Kara’s private life.  The life she used to have.
 
“She sleeps,” both Winn and James answered at the same time. 
 
“I see,” Cat looked at them surprised.
 
Awkwardly, both men clamored to explain exactly how they knew Kara slept and were silenced when Cat raised her hand.
 
“Nonetheless, Supergirl is gaining more press now.  Nationwide.  The anti-alien coalition is using her as a poster girl for their campaign,” Cat observed.  “Surprisingly, no one has died because Supergirl arrives in the ‘nick of time’.  Seems rather remarkable doesn’t it? I mean, with the upsurge in catastrophes is it even possible?”
 
“I don’t think it’s possible,” James answered.  “Unless the ‘catastrophes’ are actually carefully choreographed events. The way they happen, one after another, seems like their designed to keep Supergirl busy all the time.  So she doesn’t even have time to think – catch her breath.”
 
“Yes … and isn’t it amazing?  While the rest of National City is falling down, all the places Kara had ties to: Catco, Noonan’s, her apartment remained untouched by this wave of ‘incidents’.  As a matter of fact, none of these catastrophes have taken place anywhere within three blocks of those places,” Cat observed.
 
“It’s like she’s deliberately kept away from us,” Winn interjected.
 
“Exactly.  When was the last time Supergirl flew by the Catco building?  A month ago,” Cat answered her own question.  Then explained, “I’ve had security check the exterior building camera’s.  Supergirl hasn’t flown near the Catco building since the day after Max Lord put that collar on her.”
 
“The day after?” James asked.
 
“Yes – she looked like she was flying toward my balcony when she stopped, hovered for a few seconds, and flew in the opposite direction.”  Cat let that detail sink in before she continued, “I want as much information as possible on all the ‘accidents’ that have happened as well as whatever happens in the future.  Before I accuse Max Lord of perpetuating a scam on National City, I need hard irreversible facts.”
 
Both men nodded in agreement.
 
“James? You are about to be demoted, temporarily, to field photojournalist.  It will be a very public demotion.”
 
James gave a curt head shake, “What do you want me to do?”
 
“Go to wherever Supergirl is performing her heroics.  I want photographs of everyone there as well as the ‘disaster’.  Max Lord doesn’t have an infinite number of people working for him.  Maybe we’ll recognize one of them.  Also investigate the area, talk to people, everything you did when working for The Daily Planet.  I want to know if these events are naturally occurring or if they are carefully staged.”
 
“Actually, Ms. Grant, since this whole thing with Supergirl and Max Lord started I’ve shadowed her sightings.”  He quickly added, “On my own time, of course.”
 
“Have you had a chance to talk to Supergirl.  Has she seen you?” Cat asked.  “Do you think you could interview her?”
 
“That’s the weird thing.  Before Max Lord, Supergirl would smile, talk to people, now she ‘saves the day’ and flies off.  I don’t know if she has seen me,” James looked down at the floor debating with himself.  Go on, tell her, she seems as concerned about Kara as we are.  “I talk to her,” he finally admitted.  “Let her know I’m thinking about her.  She may not be able to respond but I want her to know she is not alone.”
 
“You don’t think has done something to her super hearing?” Cat asked.  
 
“We don’t know, not for sure, anyway.”  Winn broke in and admitted, “I’ve kind of done the same thing, you know, talked to Kara when I’m close to where she is… anyway, uh, I can’t see Max Lord hampering her abilities as Supergirl.  She still has to pull off some real super stuff to save the day even if some of this stuff is staged.”
 
Cat was touched by Winn and James’ devotion to their friend.  You inspire people, Kara.  I’ve always said that of Supergirl but I’ve always thought that of you too, Kara…. 
 
“I think you two have a point yet not for the reason you’re thinking of,” Cat took off her glasses and stood up.  She started pacing behind her desk.  “This is all about power with Max, it always has been.  His ego won’t allow him to control anything less than Supergirl with all of her abilities intact.”
 
Cat stopped pacing and looked at Winn who squirmed under her gaze.  She started to say something then paused, “James, would you excuse us? I’ll demote you, in public, later this afternoon.”
 
“Uh, I’ll look forward to it, Ms. Grant,” James winced.  I’m sure that’s going to be fun – for her at least.
 
“Something I can … I can help you out with, Ms. Grant?” a nervous Winn squeaked after James left the office.  I hate when my voice does that.
 
“From what Agent Danvers has told me, you are something of a techno wiz, Mr. Schott.  Do you think there’s a way of finding out if the crimes Supergirl stopped within the past month coincide with what the police have on their log?” Cat asked then added, “Discreetly.”
 
“Well, I could, uh, find a way to, uh, check.” That’s why she had James leave the office.  She didn’t want me to feel pressured into doing something she knows might possibly involve a little illicit work.  Or have any witnesses.  
 
“I don’t need to hear the details,” Cat advised.  “It was best I didn’t know them with the Dirk Armstrong fiasco, I’ll let you keep your trade secrets on this, too.”
 
She made a dismissive gesture with her hand.  Winn needed no further encouragement to leave her office.  She has a plan.  Winn was giddy with excitement.  We’re going to help you, Kara.  Ms. Grant has a plan.  He smiled, really smiled, for the first time in a month. 
 
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
“Agent Danvers, so nice to hear your voice again,” Maxwell Lord said into the phone.  She picked up on the second ring.  A little anxious are we? 
 
“What do you want, Max?” 
 
“I was calling to check up on you.  I haven’t heard a peep from you in what, a month?” That ought to get her started.  Max smiled.
 
“I’ve been busy.”
 
Okay, playing hard to get.  Time to drop a little bait.
 
“Yes.  Busyness seems to run in the family, I guess. Your sister has been quite busy also.  She has mentioned, however, she misses you.  That’s why I called.  To see if I could get you two together for a little family reunion.”
 
“I’m listening.”
 
“If you’re interested meet me at Aluzzo’s.  Tonight. Seven o’clock.  Dress nice.  Dinner and dancing.” Time to reel her in.  “I won’t make this offer again, Agent Danvers.  If you don’t show up? I’ll assume you’re not interested.  Your choice.”
 
“I’ll be there.”
 
“Good.  I look forward to seeing you.” Max ended the call. 
 
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
“Agent Danvers, Alex, so nice to see you,” Max greeted Alex at the entrance to an empty restaurant.  “I hope you don’t mind; I took the liberty of reserving the place for us tonight.  You do look lovely.”
 
Alex took in the empty restaurant, Max’s tux, and the candlelit table in the middle of the dance floor.  Shit.
 
“Max,” Alex greeted in a neutral voice as she allowed him to escort her to the table.  Once they were both seated she asked, “What exactly is all this?”  She gestured to the empty restaurant.
 
“I wanted to have a private dinner date with a most intriguing woman and discuss a mutually beneficially business agreement.”
 
“Okay, let’s discuss the business …”
 
“Oh no.  No business during dinner.  We need to take time to savor the wonderful meal Chef Aluzzo has prepared for us,” Max poured wine into his glass after filling Alex’s.  He raised his glass, “A toast.  To new alliances.”
 
Alex didn’t respond.
 
Max’s face darkened, “You came here of your own accord.  If you didn’t intend to honor your agreement, you shouldn’t have wasted my time.”  He got up to leave.
 
“Wait!”  Alex stood up and grabbed Max’s arm.  “I’m sorry.  I thought we were going to have dinner in a restaurant with, you know, other people around.  This was …unexpected.”
 
“I bought out the place tonight for you, Alex,” Max explained.  “I wanted you to feel comfortable talking about your sister without the worry of someone overhearing.  I don’t mind the expense; you are the most captivating woman I’ve met in some time.  I could, however, do without the chip on your shoulder.”
 
“Look, I’m sorry.  Can we start over again? I appreciate your thoughtfulness with the restaurant – people – thing,” she finished awkwardly.  Damn it, he’s going to make me jump through a bunch of hoops to see Kara.  I shouldn’t have expected anything less from this asshole!
 
He stiffly walked back to his seat, “A start over…I can do that, once, and only because it’s you, Alex.” 
 
He picked up his wine glass and repeated his toast.  Alex smiled and joined in.  Yep, to new alliances.  Me, Cat Grant, the rest of the gang.  May we bring your swift and sudden downfall.
 
Alex peppered the rest of an exquisite dinner with questions about the Blue Streak.  The first time she had dinner with Max she was woefully unprepared.  He used it to his advantage, going so far as to plant spy ware on her purse.  She prepared for this meeting – all the way down to detailed conversation points.  This was for Kara.  Nothing was left to chance.
 
Max was impressed and more than a little smitten.  She wasn’t only asking questions, she was offering answers, different solutions to problems he hadn’t thought of.  Dinner passed too quickly for Max who found it far more enjoyable than he allowed himself to imagine.  He winced as he stood up knowing the next few minutes would shatter his illusion.
 
“Care to dance?” he asked offering Alex his hand as the piped in background music subtly increased in volume.
 
Alex took his hand and allowed him to lead her through several songs. 
 
“Supergirl’s kept herself very busy for the past month,” Max began.  “I think she needs to take a break, catch up with her sister, for a bit.  What do you think?”
 
Alex bit down hard on the inside of her cheek.  Control, Alex.  “I think it’s a good idea.  I’d like to see how she is doing.  Talk to her.”
 
“It’s settled, then.  I’ll suggest you two have a little bonding time.  Hopefully she agrees.  She’s become quite the workaholic.”
 
Control, Alex.  Control, Alex.  Control, Alex.  Don’t lose a chance at seeing Kara now.
 
“I see.  So any idea exactly when I might see her?” Alex was proud she was able to keep the disappointment out of her voice.  Of course he had no intention of letting me see her tonight.  That would be too easy.
 
“The National City Society of Business has named me ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ again this year.  The award dinner is in two weeks.  I’m sure I’ll have a chance to chat with Supergirl in the meantime.  Shall I have a car sent for you at, let’s say, six?”
 
“Two weeks?”
 
“Yes, I know it’s short notice but I’m sure you can find a suitable dress,” Max deliberately mistook Alex’s question.
 
Keep control, Alex.  Play the game.  It’s for Kara.  Control, Alex.
 
“Six will be fine,” Alex said as she walked back to the table to pick up her clutch.  Now, Alex, act the part.  She turned to him and smiled, “Thank you, Max.  It really was a lovely evening.”
 
Later that night, after she stopped at a hotel to shower, she took the clothes she wore to the ‘date’ out to the desert and burned them.  She threw the purse and shoes into the small fire.  Find something suitable to wear? Not a problem, Max.  The resale shop has plenty of dresses my size.
 
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Cat Grant stood on the balcony outside her office and looked out at the city.  A glass of Balvenie Scotch in her hand.  It was the first night she stayed late at the office since Carter was sick.  A few ‘minor’ details needed her attention before she left for the night.  Her eyes narrowed as she thought about Carter and whatever it was Max had done to him.
 
Well, Max, you wanted a war? The gloves are off, now.  I’ll take you down further than you ever thought possible.  When I find out how and what you did to my son? There won’t be a place you can run.
 
Cat took a sip from her glass.  Her thoughts moving to events earlier in the day.  James had taken his very public demotion quite well.  It was amusing how busy the rest of the office was after the display.  I doubt anyone will be slacking in the newsroom anytime soon.  She searched the sky for a familiar blur of blue and red.  What the hell …
 
“Supergirl, … Kara, you’re not alone.  Your friends …I’m, ... I'm thinking of you.  Stay strong, it may take some time but I’m working on a way to help you.  I miss you.  We all miss you, Kara,” Cat raised her glass in salute.
 
Ten blocks away, holding up a damaged bridge, Kara smiled.     

Chapter Text

Kara was physically and mentally exhausted. For the past … forever?... she was flying here, saving someone there, always off at a moment’s notice. ‘The Voice of Doom,’ as she now thought of the monotone voice sending her from one disaster to another, was her constant companion. Sometimes the rescues were simple other times she had to make quick decisions to rectify the problem. Decisions which were becoming more and more difficult due to lack of sleep. Kara never tested how long she could go without adequate sleep. The Danvers always made sure she slept eight to ten hours a night. In college she whittled it down to seven to eight hours. Even working for Cat, Kara kept to her sleep schedule. Unless an unruly alien came calling. Max Lord? It seemed he knew exactly how much sleep she needed and kept her right on that edge.

Until today.

“Supergirl. Respond to a car-fuel truck collision. Pierce and Lincoln Street. Proceed immediately.”

As Kara arrived at the scene she saw the tanker truck billowing smoke. The back end of a car was partially wedged underneath the trailer. Instead of using her x-ray vision to check if the car was occupied, she landed next to the car and looked inside. Nope, nobody home, that’s good I’ll -

Whoosh! A large explosion shook the area as fumes from the trailer ignited in a fireball. Kara was engulfed as well as the truck and car. The fire department stood by stunned as heat from the explosion melted the pavement. Bystanders ran for cover as bits of flame covered auto parts rained down. Several seconds later the flames were doused when Kara used her ‘freeze breath’. She stumbled away from the wreckage covered in soot and ash. Her uniform and collar tattered and burned. The two vehicles were reduced to metal skeletons. Several fire fighters rushed up to her.

“Supergirl, you alright?” Lt. Conant asked keeping a wary eye on the vehicle’s in case of flare ups.

“Yeah. Sorry, yeah, I’m okay. I should have done something else first I guess,” Kara was finding it difficult to form sentences. To think. “I guess I made a mistake. At least there wasn’t anybody in the car.”

“Yeah. No one in the car but the guy in the truck wasn’t so lucky,” Firefighter Travers said while peering into the wreckage.

“Travers!” a frowning Lt Conant yelled. She lost people in fires she worked before. It wasn’t a good feeling. Second guessing this soon after the event wouldn’t do anyone any good, least of all Supergirl.

“Sorry,” Travers apologized. Supergirl was regarded as the new patron saint of the fire department with the unprecedented rash of fires, accidents, and disasters recently.

Kara stood stunned, “There was …. there was someone in the truck? How could I not have known that? How could I miss someone in the truck?”

She began walking toward the truck cab, tears in her eyes, when Lt. Conant grabbed her arm to stop her.

“Supergirl, you don’t need to look. We can take it from here. Go get some rest. You look like hell. There’s nothing you can do here anyway,” compassion filled Lt. Conant’s voice.

“I can’t get rest now. I have to wait until ‘the Voice of Doom’ says …”

Lt. Conant swore as Supergirl’s face lost all coloring, “Medic!”

No sooner had she yelled than Supergirl flew off. Travers stepped up next to his commander and shook his head, “She gonna be all right?

“No. No I don’t think she is,” Lt. Conant answered softly.

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

Kara stood in her off duty clothes as technicians embedded a new ear piece after removing the ruined original. Her Supergirl uniform was beyond repair. The replica Max Lord made was waiting for her in her bathroom with the monitors already installed. A new collar was cinched around her neck.

I can’t believe I did that. How could I have not checked the truck cab? Someone’s dead because of me! Because I made a stupid mistake.

“Uh, Supergirl?” the now familiar blond haired technician broke into her thoughts. “We’re done. Mind stepping – OK, thanks.”

Kara walked over and faced the wall. She sat down on her bed, shoulder’s slumped, head down, as soon as she heard the door close. How could I let that happen?

The chime sounded. Kara reflexively stood up, still facing the wall. She was so tired of everything. She heard the door open then close. She could smell Max Lord as he entered the room. Oh no, this is not going to go well. She remained standing for several minutes more before his “Sit down, Supergirl” allowed her to move.

She heard the anger, the disappointment, in his voice as she quickly moved to obey him. She meticulously sat in the position he insisted on. Her eyes watched him as he walked slowly around the room. She knew not to speak. This was bad. This was very bad.

“You do realize what you did today? You let an innocent person burn to death! Essentially, Supergirl, you murdered that person,” Max was barely controlling the anger in his voice. “I allow you to have some modicum of autonomy and this is what you do? In less than a couple months’ time you already manage to kill someone. Should we expect another six or seven human deaths this year from you? I guarantee Carter won’t like it. Pity, he was finally getting his life back on track.”

Kara stopped breathing. Please, no!

“The only reason I’m limiting his punishment to five minutes is because you immediately came back here when your earpiece was destroyed. His punishment would be much more severe otherwise. Stop looking at me with those puppy dog eyes. I don’t care what your intentions were. Results! Results are what matter. From now on you will be given specific instructions how to handle an incident by my people. You are not to deviate from any of their commands. Do you understand, Supergirl?”

“Yes sir.” Kara wanted to add more, to apologize. Not the time for anything other than what Max wanted to hear or Carter would pay the price. Again.

“Go stand in your spot,” Max instructed and watched as she complied. “Remain there until Carter’s punishment is done. Then you can sleep until your next shift. Oh, one other thing, don’t take the collar off anymore. Obviously you need some kind of reminder to deter you from making further mistakes.”

Kara heard the door close. Carter’s screams filled the room. What have I done?

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

“Mr. Lord, nice to see you,” Prescott greeted Max as he entered the Supergirl Command Room. “The remix the sound engineers came up with is very realistic.”

“Actually, Mr. Prescott, I took the liberty of doing the remix myself,” Max gave him a half smile. “Pity the kid is out of state visiting his father. Visual and audio are so much more compelling. Any word on the guy who died?”

“Yeah, some guy named Sullivan. Career military. Worked directly under General Lane up until four or five months ago. Something happened that pissed off the General. Guy was regulated to shit details ever since. Guess he finally had enough and left the army. Too bad for him – probably would still be alive if he’d stayed.” Prescott looked at the monitor of Supergirl’s room again, “You want me to send her out after this is done, sir?”

“Nah. Actually I think we’ve finally reached Supergirl’s threshold for lack of sleep. Let her crash for a solid eight. I’m going to have to do some damage control to the press as it is – no need for anyone else to die – I have the data I want now. Make sure you fill in Jones’ crew when they come on. I want her every move choreographed by my team until further notice. And Prescott?” Max’s eyes were piercing, “don’t you make any mistakes, either.”

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

General Lane hung up the telephone and leaned back in his office chair saddened by the news he received. As much as you disappointed me, Sully, I didn’t want you to go this way. You were a good man, once. A man I could count on - up until that alien conned you into believing she was decent and honorable. Then you disobey my orders to shoot. It’s all the fault of that alien - and that alien loving ‘sister’ of hers. I think it’s time for a little payback. For Sully’s sake.

Chapter Text

“General Lane, nice to see you,” Senator Crane greeted him as he walked into her inner office. She indicated to a chair opposite her desk, “Please, have a seat.”

“Senator Crane,” Sam Lane said as he shook her hand and sat in the chair, “Thank you for seeing me on such a short notice.”

“Always glad to accommodate someone who holds the priorities of this great nation in the right order,” Senator Crane was well aware of the General’s predilection toward the anti-alien camp. “How may I assist you today?”

“Senator, I don’t need to tell you what a mess the DEO is at the moment. My own daughter, Lucy, is second in command and several months ago she had to change all the security protocols when Supergirl unexpectedly aligned herself with Maxwell Lord. We don’t know how much classified information ended up in his hands because of it.” The General paused, gauging the Senator’s reaction, then continued, “There’s another problem at the DEO. An agent named Alex Danvers. The one that my daughter ferreted out as the confederate of the shape shifter Martian. She was a fugitive with the Martian until our President pardoned them both.”

“Go on,” Senator Crane prodded. Of course I was briefed on all of this. Why is this man wasting my time? I have an election campaign to run.

“My daughter fears this Agent Danvers is a loose cannon. She needs firmer supervision then the DEO provides under the Martian. It seems the two have an almost father/daughter relationship,” General Lane’s face twisted with disgust.

“General, this is all very interesting but why are you here?” Senator Crane had a two o’clock fundraiser across town to prepare for.

“I would like Agent Danvers transferred directly under my command. Get her out of the DEO and into a strictly supervised position in my unit,” General Lane wasn’t happy he had to cut to the chase so soon. He wanted to ‘poison the well’ against Danvers a bit more.

“General Lane. You’ve served our country bravely for what, thirty years or so? You’re a General, you know how things work. Why are you coming to me with this request? I’m a Senator. I have no say in departmental employee hiring, firing, or transfers. What exactly did you think I could do? If your daughter doesn’t trust this agent, she should have her transferred or removed from the DEO,” Senator Crane was exasperated. This meeting was a waste of my time.

“Ma’am,” he tried a different tact, “the Director of the DEO will block the transfer. I’m just asking for a –”

“General Lane, I am not going to interfere with what is clearly an in house problem. Especially without any other facts to back up your claims,” Miranda Crane had enough. “Good day, General.”

General Lane stood up, fingering his cover, “Thank you for seeing me, Senator. Good luck in the election.”

That’s all these damn politicians think about. The enemy is at the gate and they are worried about getting re-elected. Guess I’ll have to make that call to Lucy now. Hopefully she hasn’t got too close to Danvers. I’ll have to make up something pretty convincing if she has. Damn it! This would have been much easier. I hate lying to my little girl.

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

You’re going where?” Lucy’s eyebrows almost disappeared under her hairline.

“On a date. Well, not really a date, more of an award’s dinner” Alex tried to explain. “I have to go. Max said he would let me see Kara, talk to her, if I went. After what happened yesterday? I know she’s beating herself up over the guy in the truck dying.”

“Does Hank know?” Lucy already guessed the answer to that question. Of course not.

“Not really. No,” Alex had the grace to look sheepish. “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission?”

“Alex, you’re not some 18-year-old sneaking out of the house. There are serious ramifications to this,” Lucy paused trying to think of one. Okay, so far the only thing I can think of is that Hank will be REALLY mad when he finds out. That’s good enough.

“I can handle Hank.”

What? Can she read minds like him too? Why do I get the feeling I’m going to end up agreeing with her anyway?

“Alex. There’s no guarantee Max will –”

“I know. Life has no guarantees. I have to try. For Kara. Please, Lucy,” Alex wished for ‘puppy dog eyes’ her sister was famous for.

Lucy slowly shook her head, “I can’t believe I’m agreeing with you on this. That accident was horrible yesterday. It’s amazing how many people can record video of tragedies on their phones to post online and not get involved. Any of those people could have saved that trucker before Supergirl even got there yet she takes the blame. Have they identified the driver yet?”

“I haven’t bothered to check the news update,” Alex replied. I saw Max Lord and had to turn the television off. “I know Supergirl hasn’t been spotted since she flew away from the scene. That can’t be good.”

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

Kara sat perfectly still at the table as Max Lord finished up announcing the new rules and procedures he expected her to follow. He’d waited a couple months for this moment, knowing that her mind, now rested, would soak up these rules like a sponge.

Condition, condition, condition. Glad you screwed up yesterday, Supergirl. This is perfect. Tonight I take out your sister, set her up for a few more dinner dates. By the time you two meet you won’t be able to say your name without waiting for permission first.

“Do you understand everything I’ve said?” Max Lord asked from his position behind the seated Kara.

“Yes, sir,” a monotone voice said in her ear.

“Yes, sir,” Kara mimicked the voice.

“Very good. I look forward to no more screw ups. Hero’s aren’t supposed to make mistakes. You’ll be given ample time to redeem yourself. Use it wisely or Carter will suffer the consequences,” Max walked back to the front of the table and cocked his head. “Now, anything you wish to add?”

A voice in Kara’s ear intoned, “I’m sorry sir. I’ll do better.”

Kara repeated the words verbatim.

“See that you do. Now go stand in your spot.” He waited until she was in position, “I have other duties and responsibilities to attend to but I will be kept apprised of your obedience. Perfect obedience gets rewarded and I expect nothing less. Carter wishes for nothing less. I hope we’re clear on that.”

Kara heard the door shut and started to turn around. That is until the ‘Voice of Doom’ ordered, “Remain in place.”

Shit!

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

“I only have a few minutes, Mr. Jones, so I’ll make it fast,” Max addressed the head of the crew watching Supergirl this shift. “I want everything instructed: when she can eat, use the bathroom, sleep, what she can say to people. Make sure you correct her at least four or five times per incident – even if she’s not doing anything wrong. I want her to learn to wait for someone to tell her what to do before she takes any action on her own. Let Prescott know we’re back on the two-hour sleep cycle until further notice.”

“Yes, Mr. Lord,” Jones nodded his head as he spoke. “We’ve practiced hard for this next phase. We won’t let you down, sir.”

Max looked around the room at the serious faces manning their stations. “I want to thank you, personally, for all the hard work and dedicated service you’ve put in. Keep it up.”

He nodded again to Jones then exited the room. Time for the award dinner. The press will have a field day when I show up with Agent Danvers on my arm – like when royalty mix with the commoners.

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

Alex wasn’t prepared for the media onslaught when Max Lord claimed her as she exited her limo in front of National City’s Center for the Performing Arts. Oh shit, I thought it was just a stupid award dinner. This is a fucking circus. What? He wants me to smile? Talk? I don’t think so. What the fuck did you drag me to, Max? I don’t want to stand here and pose for the cameras – especially with you next to me. We’re supposed to talk about Kara here? In the middle of this mess? Lucy is going to kill me!

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

“Major Lane, my office, immediately!” Hank ordered as he turned away from the monitors in the command center. What was Alex thinking? Getting herself plastered all over the press with Max Lord? Nice job, Alex. They won’t stop until they know everything about you.

Lucy exchanged a glance with Vasquez before following Hank. Susan shook her head. To be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

“Yes sir, Director Henshaw,” Lucy said as she shut the office door.

“Did you know about this? Wait, let me rephrase … how long have you known about this?”

“Alex and I discussed it a little earlier.”

“How much earlier?”

“Just before lunch. She said it was just an award dinner. I was thinking, you know, Rotary Club or something. Actually, I bet she was thinking the same thing.” Lucy was furious with herself for not pressing Alex on more details. Damn that woman is good at manipulating people.

“Regardless what either of you two were thinking, anything regarding Maxwell Lord is to clear through me! This is not some rogue outfit, as much as your father would lead you to believe. The protocols and procedures are in place for a reason – to avoid incidents like this for starters,” Hank finished.

“Of course, sir,” Lucy agreed. Please don’t bring my dad into this.

“Now, that being said and clearly understood,” Hank looked up and Lucy nodded, “Why is she on a very public date with Max Lord?”

By the time Lucy left Hank’s office she was trying to figure out how she could get Jackson to help her in a tag team sparring session against Alex. She was contemplating bribery when her phone rang.

“Lane,” she greeted the caller.

“Major Lane,” Cat’s voice was smooth as silk on the other end, “by any chance, did you catch the news tonight?”

“Um, yes?” I feel like a school kid that keeps getting sent to the principal’s office.

“Would you please pass along a message to Agent Scully for me?”

“Go ahead,” Lucy winced and waited.

“No. No. Never mind. I’ll talk to her myself. Are you available tomorrow night, let’s say, after six?”

“You want me to bring Alex too?”

“That’s what I miss about you, Baby Lane. You’re quite the perceptive one,” Cat said. “My office.”

“We’ll be there,” Lucy promised and hung up. Damn it – I should’ve cleared it with Hank first.

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

Cat sat alone in her office reviewing the news footage. Alex Danvers on Max Lord’s arm. What? Wasn’t that girl thinking?!? If this was some type of covert operation to get to Max Lord, well – it was about the stupidest one ever cooked up.

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

Three miles away James sat in his car watching Supergirl through binoculars. She was assisting crews with a ruptured gas line. James attached his telephoto lens to the camera. He shot photos as he talked to Kara, giving her support. Occasionally he would ask her a question and she would slightly nod or shake her head. Okay, now. Maybe we have a way to communicate after all.

After Supergirl flew off, James drove his car away from the area then reproached it from a different street. He jumped out of the car with his camera, press pass, and his most charming smile.

“Excuse me, ma’am, would you mind answering a few questions for The Trib?”

Chapter Text

Alex followed Lucy onto the elevator at Catco. Lucy barely said a word to her since she returned from her ‘date’ with Max Lord. How many times do I have to apologize? It’s not like I knew it was some big worldwide event. She’s right, though, I should have cleared it through Hank. He would have been smart enough to not let me go. Damn that Maxwell Lord! Now I have the paparazzi looking for -

“You should really take off those ridiculous sunglasses and hat, Danvers, before Cat throws you out of the building for your fashion sense – something I believe she threatened your sister with on several occasions,” Lucy advised still not looking at Alex.

“Oh yeah, forgot, I do look like an – wait, what do you mean Cat was going to send Kara home because of her clothes?” Alex asked as she snatched off the glasses and hat.

“Something Winn told me. When Kara was new she came in one day sporting a bright orange skirt with a pink sweater. Winn said Cat stopped dead on the spot when she saw Kara, put her sunglasses back on, and asked if Kara was deliberately trying to give her a stroke.”

“Oh,” Alex had a hazy drunken memory of telling Kara the ensemble was just the thing to brighten Cat’s day when she wouldn’t stop pestering her about what to wear.

Lucy seemed to be softening up a bit so Alex made one last effort to apologize before they met with Cat Grant.

“Listen, Lucy, I really am sorry about last night. You were right, one hundred percent right, and I was wrong,” Alex began. “I put you on the spot with Hank and I truly am sorry. It won’t happen again. I promise.”

“Damn right, it won’t happen again, Danvers. I actually value my career. Look, I don’t know the relationship you had with Hank before I was assigned to the DEO, but he and I don’t share the same bond. He dressed me down like a raw recruit when we saw you at that, that media event. The worse thing is, I deserved every word of it.” Lucy looked at Alex as the elevator door chimed, “Listen, we’ll get past this. Right now we have to concentrate on whatever Cat wants to meet about.”

Alex nodded as she exited the elevator. She saw Winn and James standing in Cat’s office. Cat was seated at her desk looking over a sheaf of papers. Cat continued to peruse the papers and pointedly ignored her and Lucy as they entered the office.

“Ahem,” Alex cleared her throat after several minutes of silence.

“Oh, if it’s not Max’s mystery lady and her newly appointed chaperone,” Cat said drily still not looking up from the papers. “Glad you could tear yourself away from your new boyfriend to join us, Agent Scully.”

Alex blushed hotly and was about to reply when Lucy stepped on her foot and shook her head. Well, I probably deserved it. I did make a fool out of myself holding onto Max’s arm all night.

 

 

 

He leaned down and murmured in her ear, “Smile for the cameras. You’re my date. You’ll get a chance to see Supergirl soon providing you don’t disappoint me.”

She hissed into his ear, “I’ve never been to something like this. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

“Follow my lead. Smile, answer questions if you want, and look like you want to be here with me.”

Max stepped back and offered his arm to Alex then slowly, very slowly, led her up the red carpet toward the entrance. He stopped several times to pose with his arm around Alex as photographers jostled each other to get the best angle. He answered several of the questions shouted out to him but ignored the most asked question, “Who is your date?” He smiled and looked at Alex who remained mute with a false smile plastered on her face.

The rest of the evening she stayed glued to his side as reporters waited to see if they could get a chance at a scoop. Max Lord’s mystery woman didn’t even try to use the restroom as she saw a woman reporter stake out the entrance. Hell, she thought, the way these reporters are the male reporters would follow me in there too! Dinner, long speeches, then dancing all the while stuck on Max’s arm. She couldn’t remember a longer night.

At the end of the evening, as he escorted her to the waiting limousine, she finally grabbed him by the neck and brought her lips to his ear and asked him about seeing Kara. He brushed his lips to her cheek then murmured, “We’ll talk. Here is not the time nor place. How about next Wednesday? LeCouffe’s at Seven? We’ll have the place to ourselves. I guarantee it.” Max winked at her. He then stepped back and said, “You looked positively radiant tonight, my dear,” loud enough for bystanders to hear.

Alex congratulated herself on her self-control as she didn’t shoot him in the gut there and then. Later, standing over another small fire in the desert, Alex received a text from Hank and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, she wouldn’t be meeting Max at LeCouffe’s next Wednesday.

 

 

 

Cat stood up from her desk, papers in hand, and walked over to one of the sofa’s motioning for the others to take seats. She placed the papers on the coffee table. James placed a thick manila envelope next to the papers.

“I took these last night. At the gas main rupture Supergirl was assisting with. I did speak with the on-site supervisor. She was puzzled as to how the rupture occurred. Seems she inspected that same pipe six months ago as part of the National City Infrastructure Initiative championed by the mayor. She said, and I quote, ‘That pipe was solid, in A-1 shape. There’s no way it should have ruptured.’ She got called away by one of her work crew before I could ask any other questions.”

“Did you see anything out of the ordinary?” Cat asked as she took the photos out of the envelope and started looking through them.

“No, but I think we may have a way of communicating with Kara,” James smiled.

Alex, Winn, and Lucy excitedly started questioning James until Cat held up her hand for silence immediately sending the room into silence.

“Do tell,” Cat encouraged.

“I parked by my car about a half mile away from the rupture and started taking pictures using a telephoto lens. I was also talking to Kara. Trying to give her some support, you know? Anyway, while talking I asked her if she was okay and she nodded ‘yes’. I grabbed my binoculars and asked her more questions and she would shake or nod her head to answer the question. Most of the questions I asked were pretty basic but it’s a start.”

“Mr. Olsen,” Cat said looking pleased, “I do believe, when you get re-promoted to Art Director, there may be a little bonus in your check.”

“How did she look?” Alex asked.

“Beat to hell,” James said then winced as Lucy shot him the ‘don’t be an insensitive clod’ look. “I mean she nodded that she was okay and all. I think that guy dying yesterday really got to her.”

“Do we know anything about the truck driver?” Lucy hurriedly changed the subject before Alex could start fuming over James’ description of Kara.

“Uh, it’s in those papers. I’ve checked all the names and everything associated with the Supergirl assisted incidents the police and fire departments have on file,” Winn said as he handed Lucy the pertinent page. Then he held up his hands in mock surrender as he anticipated her question of how he got the files, “Don’t ask, you don’t need to know.”

Lucy frowned after reading the name of the deceased truck driver. I suppose there could be more than one Dillard Sullivan.

“What’s the matter?” James asked. He knew that look. Something didn’t sit right with her and she was trying to put the puzzle pieces in order.

“I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not but the name of the truck driver? Dillard Sullivan? It’s the same name as one of the men who worked for my father, I mean directly for him, until a few months ago. Dad had him transferred to a different unit after they got back from a mission. I’m sure it can’t be the same guy …it’s just the name is kind of unusual,” Lucy shook her head.

Cat looked at Winn.

“I’ll check it out Ms. Grant,” Winn said writing a note on his tablet.

“Sullivan?” Alex cocked her head. “A mission a few months ago? One that your dad was on?”

“Yeah, I don’t know anything else about it. I’d already resigned my commission then. I only know that when I went back,” she looked at James, “Sullivan wasn’t working in my father’s handpicked squad.”

Agent Scully? Something you care to share with the class?”

“Nothing right now. I do think I know the Sullivan who worked for General Lane, though. I’ll have to check some records when I get back to the ‘office’ to make sure.”

“Give us a hint,” Cat insisted.

“Well, if it is the same guy – and I’ll have to review reports to make sure, Supergirl saved his life when a bomb exploded.” Alex glanced at Lucy and stopped.

“That’s it?” Winn asked confused. “She saved his life?”

“Out with it,” Cat demanded. It’s like pulling teeth with this one.

“General Lane wasn’t happy when we decided to make a prisoner exchange and ordered his men to shoot us. Supergirl looked at the guy she had saved from the bomb and he put his rifle down. Had all the squad put down their rifles. General Lane wasn’t very happy with us; I imagine he was less so with his officer,” Alex finished.

Winn let out a low whistle, “Well I guess –”

“Ms. Grant,” James broke in noticing the tension between Lucy and Alex. I know someone else who is going to go through those reports when she gets back to the DEO. Not easy to hear your dad would order someone you know shot. She’s gonna want all the details.

“Yes?” Cat also noticed the sudden strain between the two women. Come on people, we need to work together on this.

“I’d like to go back and re-interview the work crew supervisor from the gas main rupture. See if she was able to determine the cause of the failure. Actually – I’m going to start interviewing some of the workers from the other incidents that happened recently. See if any of them are also unexplained.”

“No,” Cat stood up and paced back and forth. “I’ll get Ryder to cover that. He’s a good investigative reporter, knows National City like the back of his hand, and has connections in place already. He doesn’t have to know why I’m assigning him the story. We need to start connecting with Supergirl – she may know how we can help her. We need to compile a list of questions for James to ask her. Let’s get to work.”

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

“I can’t believe the stupidity of that man!”

Smith winced as General Lane expressed his dissatisfaction with Max Lord. Copies of several different newspapers and tabloids were on the General Lane’s desk. Each featured photographs and news items about Max Lord and his mystery date.

“That’s Agent Danvers – the one you said he wanted to bed.” General Lane pointed to one of the pictures. “Seems like he didn’t take your hint to stay away from her.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I gave him explicit orders to stay away from her.”

“That’s the problem, big shots like him don’t know how to follow orders.” General Lane was weighing his options, “How bad do you assess the fallout to be for our project?”

“Sir, if it were up to me, I would cancel immediately. Lord is a loose cannon. He likes the spotlight too much. You saw the way he played to the press when Sullivan died. What’s to say he wouldn’t deliberately let a couple more of our people die to garner more press for himself?” Smith reasoned. “Then there’s the girl. She is a government agent. She’s not some stupid bimbo – all she has to do is use her feminine wiles on Lord, get him to talk about his scheme. He’s too much of a self-centered egotist not to talk about how great his plan is. If he even gives her a hint of our involvement she will ferret us out.

Sam Lane looked at the newspapers on his desk and rubbed his forehead. Damn it! This is the problem when you trust civilians in delicate operations. No sense of duty. I owe it to Sully to not to let that egotist prick kill any more of my people so he can preen for the press.

“Pull the plug. Get our people safely away from National City then let Lord know. If he asks, you let him know he was warned to stay away from the Danvers woman,” General Lane’s eyes bored into Smith’s. “I want operations to cease immediately and our people out of there by the end of today. Dismissed.”

“Yes, sir,” Smith was relieved. He never liked the idea of teaming up with Maxwell Lord. All of the accidents were stunts planned down to the most minute detail. Contrary to what he told Lord when meeting with him, Smith believed all of his operatives would be saved by Supergirl. Smith could not find a satisfactory explanation as to why Supergirl failed to save Sullivan unless Lord had his hand in it. I hope it’s not too late for any more of my people.

As Smith left his office, Sam Lane knew he had to play his ace in the hole. He reached for the phone. Sorry Lucy, I didn’t want to drag you into this.

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

Max Lord scrutinized the monitors as Supergirl aided in apprehending a mugger. He knew she was still reeling from the failure to save the truck driver. Without Alex or her friends to offer solace and advice, she was struggling. Exactly as he planned. Now he was the only one who could offer absolution, offer advice. She looked to him for guidance. How does it feel to be a puppet on a string, Supergirl? You’ll dance to whatever tune I decide and for as long as I decide.

“Keep up the good work, Jones,” Max commended. “I’ve noticed considerable improvement in the way she waits for your directions now.”

“Yes, sir. I’ve noticed she’s grown steadily more dependent on our instructions now. If we don’t tell her what to do she seems unsure of performing any actions autonomously,” Jones observed.

“That’s exactly what we’re striving for. How long has it been since she slept or ate?” Max asked.

“She started this shift three hours ago. She had two ration bars prior to exiting the shaft,” Jones answered.

“Excellent. She’s ceding control to us after she has had rest and food. That’s a big step in her conditioning. I think I’ll have a chat with her in a week or so if she continues to progress at this rate. It’ll be an interesting experiment – see if she can move without someone giving her direction to do so. In the meantime, start telling her exactly what to do when she is off shift. Mix it up a bit from her regular routine.” Max opened the door of the command center, “National City will be a much safer place when she is totally conditioned to wait and obey our orders.”

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

Kara was emotionally drained. She found herself depending on what the ‘voice of doom’ told her to do. It was easier. They were looking out for her. Making sure she didn’t screw up again. They were like friends.

Chapter Text

“What do you mean? You can’t pull out right now! We had a deal. I just need a few more months.  Is it the money?” Max was livid.  I’m too close – they can’t quit now.
 
“Mr. Lord, I told you to stay away from that Agent Danvers,” Smith countered.  “I did some research.  Agent Alex Danvers is employed by the United States Government.  The fact that I can’t find out exactly what department she works for is all I need to know.  She’s trouble with a capital ‘T’.  You say the wrong word to her, boast about our arrangement, and everything will go down in flames.  I’m not going to risk my people.”
 
“I would never do that,” Max assured Smith.  “Agent Danvers is a very good friend of Supergirl’s.  The last thing I want is for her to get wind of our agreement.  Why do you think I had Alex accompany me to the award dinner? Now she can’t go anywhere in public without nosy gossip columnists following her. I’ve effectively neutralized her and put her job at risk.  She won’t be snooping around.  It was a brilliant move on my part.”
 
“Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back, Lord,” Smith curled his lip with disdain.  “I told you not to mess around with Danvers and you did so anyway.  The deal is off.  As of now!”
 
“Can you at least give me a day or two? Let me get something else in motion?” Max hated to grovel.  He couldn’t believe Smith was worried about Alex.  The woman was harmless – he pulled her strings like he did Supergirl’s.  It wasn’t that hard, really, when you knew someone’s weaknesses. 
 
“My people finished their last planned event exactly forty minutes ago.  They’re already leaving town.  Have a pleasant day, Mr. Lord,” Smith said as he got up to leave.
 
Max watched as the man left his office.  Fine, I can do damage control.  All I need is something that will keep Supergirl busy for the next ten hours or so – until it’s time for her to end her shift, give me time to come up with more busywork for her. 
 
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
“Supergirl.  Proceed to 1459 Evergreen Street.  Child missing presumed fallen in manhole.  Proceed immediately.”
 
Kara sped in the direction of the address.  The voice in her ear continued to update her as she flew.
 
“The sewer system pipes contain lead.  Unable to utilize x-ray vision.  You are to search every pipe for the missing child.  The child is a three-year-old male.  Parents and emergency crews are not at the scene.  We advised we would notify them as soon as you located the child.  Respond.”
 
“Check every pipe for missing child.  Report as soon as child found.  X-ray vision useless,” Kara replied.  The parents and emergency crews aren’t there? That’s odd.  Check every pipe?  I can’t go too fast or I might not see the kid.  What if I can’t find him in time? I need help.  “Can you track me while I’m in the sewer system?”
 
“Supergirl, affirmative.  All actions are tracked.”
 
“Can you direct me through the tunnels? So I can search more efficiently.”
 
“Supergirl, affirmative.  Your search pattern will be guided by command.  We have you at the opening.  Further direction Supergirl, replace the manhole cover back over entrance before you continue with search.  Proceed.”
 
I guess that’s a wise precaution.  Don’t want any other kids falling in here.  Damn, it’s dark in here.  Doesn’t smell too great either.  Focus, Kara, find the little boy.  He doesn’t want to be in here either.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
“That ought to keep her busy for at least the next twelve or so hours,” Max chuckled.  “Keep her going in circles and away from any work crews.  Don’t allow her to have too much time to think.  I want directions given at least once every two minutes.  Keep her off balance.”
 
“Yes sir,” Prescott said.
 
“Keep her down there for at least twelve hours.  After that, use my voice recording to call her back for the end of her shift.  When she’s had her sleep period, I want her sent back down to the sewer for a recovery operation.  Tell her the kid is presumed dead by officials and she is to find the body.  I’ll stop by with further plans later.”  Max stood up and looked around the room at the people manning their stations.  “I want to commend all of your efforts here today.  I know this was an unexpected turn of events.  You’ve performed admirably.  I thank you and National City owes you their thanks as well.”
 
Prescott watched as Max Lord left the command center.  This was going to be one tough assignment.  Keep Supergirl busy chasing her cape for twelve hours? I’ve had worse assignments.  We’ll have to keep her as far away from the main sewer markings as possible and distract her with conversation when she comes to junctions.  I think we’ll have her dive into the waters a few times to check out something we ‘see’ on camera.  That ought to be pleasant for her.  Prescott lost himself planning the details of the bogus sewer search.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Cat Grant paced back and forth in her office.  What good is a list of questions when we can’t find Supergirl? No one has seen her in the last twenty hours.  Damn it! What if Max somehow got wind of our plan and is keeping her under wraps? No, that can’t be it.  There aren’t any weak links in her band of friends, well, except her sister’s penchant for half-baked schemes.  Cat deliberately shied away from the real reason she was so on edge.  It was in the back of her mind twenty-four hours a day since Carter had his inexplicable seizure bout.  She wanted answers.  She was sure Max Lord was using her son as leverage to keep Supergirl under his control.  It terrified her.  The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with Carter and he was back to his normal healthy teenage self yet Supergirl hadn’t left Max’s control.  That meant Carter might still be in danger.  The thought was so painful it took her breath away. I need answers!
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
James Olsen had his ear glued to the police and fire dispatches rushing from one call for service to another hoping to catch a glimpse of Supergirl.  After the past few months, where Supergirl was an almost permanent fixture at such scenes, her absence was notable.  James saw the consternation in the faces of the fire fighters as they battled a high rise building fire.  Without Supergirl’s help this blaze could easily get out of control. 
 
He looked down at the list of questions in his hand.  Cat had initially put the questions in what she thought was the logical order.  At least that was what she said when she handed him the list.  He had changed the order.  The questions about Carter come first.  I’ll ask if anyone is helping Max or what can we do to help her afterward.  The fact Cat hadn’t contributed the questions about Carter when the group discussed what questions to ask Supergirl spoke volumes to James.  The queries about Carter appeared near the bottom of the question list Cat gave to him.  The haunted look in her eyes as he read through the list confirmed how scared she actually was for her son.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Winn was going nuts! He hadn’t slept in over twenty hours as he listened to police and fire scanners.  Where are you, Kara? Please, please, please, don’t let something really bad have happened!  With every call for service unaccompanied by the sighting of Supergirl, Winn’s heart sank deeper.  Kara, we’re so close! Give us a chance! James is out there! I’ll be out there! Please be okay! Winn grabbed his coffee mug and took a swig.  Ugh, time for a fresh pot.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Kara was filthy.  Exhausted.  She scoured that fucking sewer system for the past four shifts.  When she thought she might have a chance of saving the little boy it was easier.  Tough jobs were always easier when there was hope.  When the ‘Voice of Doom’ had advised her it was now a ‘recovery’ operation she grimly went about her task.  The only positive thing about a recovery mission was at least the parents would have a body to hold and say goodbye too.  It wasn’t much but it was something to cling to.  The ‘Voice of Doom’ had her making more forays into the polluted waters and instructing her to stay underwater for progressively longer periods of time.  She didn’t mind anymore.  All she wanted to do was find the little boy. 
 
“Supergirl.  You’ve done enough for the shift.  You can try again tomorrow.  I’ve spoken to the parents.  They know you are doing your best to locate their son’s body.  Return to your quarters now.”
 
Kara latched onto Mr. Lord’s voice.  He knows I’m trying my best for those parents.  I’m glad he talked to them.  I’ve got to find their child.
 
She flew out of the sewer system, carefully placing the manhole cover back in place so no other children could fall in.  Rao, it feels so good to be out in the sun again.  She flew back to Lord Technologies at a slower pace than usual as her body replenished itself with the golden rays.
 
“Supergirl.  Hatch is open.  Clear to enter your quarters.  Proceed.”
 
Kara flew down the entrance to her rest area and stood waiting for instructions.
 
“Supergirl.  Enter the shower and cleanse yourself.  Proceed.”
 
Kara followed the instructions given her until she was laying on her bed.  Exhausted as she was, she was too keyed up to sleep immediately.  I have to find the boy.  I have to do it! His mom and dad are depending on me! Mr. Lord is depending on me!  Kara finally drifted off to a restless sleep.  In her dreams she was trying to rescue Carter from the sewer with Cat Grant standing over the manhole.  Silent as tears streamed down her face.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Max Lord was ecstatic.  I am such a genius.  Supergirl was more than willing, day after day, to slog in the sewer system after an imaginary child.  It gave him time to set up a few ‘disasters’ he would initiate when his experiments regarding her breath holding capabilities were done.  Breaking with Smith wasn’t such a bad deal after all.  Tomorrow night I see Alex.  I think it’s time she starts seriously thinking about ‘us’.  If she wants to see her sister, I’ll give her the opportunity – as long as she gives me what I want first.  I’ll have Jones make sure Supergirl is cleaned up.  Wouldn’t want Alex to see her sister a mess.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
“Hank please! Let me meet Max.  You can monitor me or whatever you want!  It’s been almost a week since anyone has seen Supergirl.  I have to know what happened to her.” Alex hadn’t left the DEO since the meeting at Catco.  She hoped, if she toed the line, Hank would relent.  She was wrong.
 
Agent Danvers, I understand your concern for Supergirl but we can’t have you traipsing around town with Max Lord.  This organization can’t stand any more scrutiny right now.  Would you rather work for General Lane?”  Hank knew nothing he would say could placate Alex.  “I need you to finish with cleaning the prisoner cells in D block.  Keep your mind occupied.  Supergirl will show up again.  In the meantime, do your job.  Dismissed.”
 
Hank watched as Alex’s face transformed into a blank mask before she left the office.  He knew the look and reached for the phone after she left.  “Vasquez, have Major Lane report to my office please.”
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Lucy was up to her ears in paperwork.  The absence of Supergirl to aid with the aliens led to staggering amounts of reports to review, catalog, and evaluate.  It was one of the first jobs Hank assigned her.  Obviously Martians hate paperwork too.  Realistically she knew her assessment of the tactics used in each operation was important.  Frankly, though, it seemed like punishment.  For what she didn’t know.  There was no way Hank knew about her father calling her last week.


 
“Lucy! I haven’t heard from you lately,” her dad greeted.  “I take it your job is keeping you pretty busy.”
 
“Hi, dad,” Lucy responded as she turned down the television in her apartment.  “I am sorry for not calling you sooner.  Things around here have been hopping.  How are you? Is everything okay?”
 
“I’m fine,” General Lane wasn’t much for small talk, even with his daughters.  “Listen, Lucy, I have a meeting in a few minutes with the Joint Chiefs so I’ll cut to the chase.  There are rumblings around here that one of your agents, a female, has been giving Maxwell Lord sensitive classified information – information regarding the aliens you have confined, their abilities and such.  We don’t know what he intends to do with it but keep your eyes open.”
 
“Sure, dad,” Lucy answered.
 
“Well, I’ve got to go.  Be careful, sweetheart,” General Lane ended the call.
 
Lucy sat back, her mind racing.  She knew her father didn’t trust J'onn J'onzz so the information was for her only.  If there was an agent selling or giving secrets to Max Lord it was up to her to figure out who.  The most obvious choice? Alex Danvers.  The woman would do anything to get her adopted sister away from Max.  Her past track record of questionable judgment proved it.


 
 
The office phone rang once before she picked it up.
 
“Ma’am, Director Henshaw wishes to see you in his office,” Vasquez relayed.
 
“Okay, thanks.  On the way,” Lucy answered.  What now?
 
“Shut the door, Major Lane,” Hank said as Lucy walked into his office.
 
Shit.  Now what did I do?
 
“Has Agent Danvers confided anything to you regarding meeting Maxwell Lord again?”
 
“No, sir.  I know they had a meeting set up for tonight but she wasn’t planning on going.  That’s what she told me last week, anyway.  She knows he burned her at that awards dinner on purpose,” Lucy replied.
 
“Well, a week with no one sighting Supergirl has her reconsidering,” Hank said.  “I’d like to insure she doesn’t see Max Lord again.  I’ve already ordered her not to meet with him.  The look on her face, well, let’s just say I’ve seen it before when she has something up her sleeve.  I’d assign another agent to keep an eye on her but she’s pretty close to everyone working today.  I am somewhat hampered in my ability to stop her should she leave the facility.”
 
“Yes, sir,” Lucy agreed.  Oh, I know where this is going.
 
“I’d like you to keep an eye on her.  Sit on her if you have to.  She’s not to meet with Max Lord tonight.”
 
“Yes, sir,” Lucy answered.  Yep, saw that coming a mile away.
 
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make it too obvious you’re watching her.  She probably knows I’ll assign someone to keep an eye on her but, just the same, I’d appreciate some discretion,” Hank rubbed his forehead.  He loved Alex like a daughter but sometimes, well, sometimes she was a pain in the ass.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
Dammit to hell! When I get my hands on Alex Danvers I will kick her fucking ass like it’s never been kicked before!
 
Lucy was stuck in one of the prisoner cells in cell block D.  The cell with the nonfunctioning cameras.  Earlier that afternoon Lucy sat in her office staring at her computer screen.  How’s this for discreet?  She doesn’t even know I’m watching.  She watched as Alex methodically cleaned cell after cell in D block.  When Alex entered cell D-18 the monitors went blank.  Lucy immediately ran to the cell block.  Not gonna happen this time, Danvers!  At least that’s what she was thinking.  Cell D-18’s cameras didn’t need to work as no prisoner was currently assigned to the cell.  Alex didn’t give Lucy a chance.  Lucy woke up with a headache and a very bruised ego.  I can’t believe I fell for that!  She settled in to wait until someone came looking for her.
 
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
“My dear, you do look lovely,” Max complimented Alex as he took her hand.  The restaurant was empty except the two of them and the chef. 
 
“Listen, Max, I appreciate the flattery and all but I need to …”
 
“I know, I know.  You want to see Supergirl.  You know my rules, no mixing business with pleasure.  First dinner, dancing, then we talk business,” Max said while giving her his most disarming smile.  “You’ll be amazed at what Chef LeCouffe has whipped up for this special occasion.”
 
“Max, please! I can’t keep doing this.  Are you going to let me see her or not?”
 
“Oh my sweet Agent Danvers, of course you can keep dating me.  I insist on it, actually.  As for seeing Supergirl? If everything goes as planned tonight, you’ll see her in the morning.”  Max lifted up a glass of champagne as a toast.
 
“In the morning?” Alex asked slowly.  He can’t mean what I think he means. 
 
“Yes, in the morning, after we’ve shared a wonderful night together.  I’ve reserved the penthouse suite at the Regalia Hotel.  The view is spectacular.”
 
“No way! No way in hell am I sleeping with you!” Alex shot out of her chair. 
 
“It’s your choice, Agent Danvers.  This is your one chance at seeing your beloved adopted sister.  You can go back to your job and forget about seeing Supergirl or … you can spend a memorable night with me and chat with sis in the morning.  How much do you love your sister, Alex?”       

Chapter Text

Alex stood still. Max’s question paralyzed her. She’d do everything she could to save Kara. But this? Sleeping with Max Lord for a chance of talking to Kara?

“You don’t have to decide right now, Alex,” Max smiled up at her from his seat. He knew he had her exactly where he wanted her. Just like her adopted sister, she was his. “Let’s have some dinner, pleasant conversation, maybe dancing. I’m willing to give you time to think.”

“I don’t need time to think, Max,” Alex smiled.

Max beamed. Like a puppet on a string. I look forward to pulling your strings all night, Alex.

“Chef LeCouffe. We’ll have the first course now.” Max raised his voice so the man standing near the kitchen door seventy feet away could hear him.

“Enjoy your dinner, Max,” Alex turned on her heel to walk out the door. She stopped as her arm was grabbed by Max.

“This is why I never talk business before pleasure,” Max sighed. “Sit down and relax, Alex. We’ve discussed this before. If you want to see your sister, you have to play by the rules. Think of how good it will feel to talk to her again. I know she’s looking forward to it. I’d hate for you to disappoint her.”

“Max, you are a grade A asshole.”

“I suppose I can be, sometimes,” Max acquiesced. He gestured at her chair, “Have a seat. Here comes the first course now.”

“As I said before, enjoy your dinner,” Alex yanked her arm out of Max’s grip and walked towards the door.

“Come back! Sit down. We can renegotiate. I’m open to suggestions,” Max called out as he watched Alex exit the restaurant. His eyes narrowed. I can’t believe she turned me down. Okay, Agent Danvers, you don’t want to do what I say? Your sister will pay the price and keep paying it until you beg me to take you back!

“Well, I guess your dinner date didn’t go as planned,” Chef LeCouffe said as he placed his hand on Max’s shoulder oblivious to the look of disdain Max gave him. “Listen, I have a sister, recently divorced, two kids, maybe I could set you up. She’s a looker.”

“I’m done for the evening, Chef,” Max said as he walked out the restaurant. And this will be the first place I think of if I need to torch a restaurant to keep Supergirl busy. Max started planning his torture of Supergirl.

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

Cat Grant sat at her desk reading through Ryder’s expose on the all the unusual incidents in National City the past four months. The four months Kara Danvers was missing and Supergirl let Max Lord dictate her actions. She had to admit, Ryder really did do an excellent job uncovering source after source, fact after fact, to prove at least forty percent of the public works failures, airplane mishaps, robberies, fires, harbor disasters and the like were set up. Particularly the last month. The last fire, at a restaurant Cat ate at once and determined the chef was trading in on a French sounding name, was particularly amateurish. Well, it’s not like the culinary world lost anything there.

Ryder’s article drew another distinction between the first three months and the past month. None of the incidents Ryder could prove were staged had any fatalities. Even the injuries were minimal. The past month painted a different story: fourteen people died, more were seriously injured.

Cat looked over the photos James had accumulated to substantiate Ryder’s work. When Supergirl reappeared after her week long absence a month ago, James attempted to put their plan into motion and ask her questions but, until yesterday, she was unwilling or unable to respond. James mentioned Supergirl appeared a lot more ‘distant?’ was the right word? Cat noticed it on the video footage. The graceful movement, the expressive face, replaced by jerky motions and an almost expressionless mask.

Much to Cat’s eternal appreciation, James asked the questions about her son first. Carter, who appeared totally recovered from his seizures, was scheduled for a full battery of tests tomorrow. Apparently Supergirl believed Max Lord still had some power to hurt him. Cat secretly suspected some kind of tie between Carter’s seizures and Supergirl’s allegiance to Max. It was one of the reasons Carter spent much of his summer vacation traveling with his father and Adam. She wanted him as far away from National City and Max Lord as possible.

Cat’s phone rang. It was Lucy.

“Tomorrow night?” Lucy asked without preamble.

“Let’s do Friday instead. Same time.” Cat answered. She knew tomorrow would be a long day for her and Carter.

“Okay. I’ll pass on the word.”

“Will Agent Scully attend? This meeting will be important,” Cat was planning to run Ryder’s story in the Sunday Edition of the Trib if Carter had a clean bill of health. After that? All hell would break loose.

“Negative. She’s unable to break cover at this time,” Lucy replied with her stock answer. “Have to go. Good luck tomorrow. Wish Carter my best.”

Cat was about to say “Thank You” when she heard the dial tone in her ear. Strange, Baby Lane’s quite short anytime Kara’s sister is mentioned. Wonder what the story behind that is?

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

Lucy placed her palm on the scanner outside cell D-18 then entered once the door opened. Alex, back against a poly glass wall, sat on the floor. Several magazines and science texts were on the floor next to her. She looked up from her reading when Lucy entered then went back to her book.

“I thought you might be interested in knowing we have all we need on your boyfriend,” Lucy began. “Cat was right. Supergirl indicated something was done to Carter by Max Lord. That’s the reason she’s under his control. Carter’s going in for tests tomorrow. Hopefully the doctors can find out what Max did. You don’t happen to know, do you?”

“Of course I don’t.”

“Alex, he’s just a kid. If Max told you something –”

“What the fuck, Lucy? You think I wouldn’t say anything if I knew something was wrong with Carter? How to get Kara back? Seriously, Major Lane, the only thing I’m guilty of is being stupid enough to believe Max Lord was going to let me see my sister!”

“You’re also guilty of disobeying direct orders, assaulting a superior, and leaking classified information,” Lucy added her voice devoid of emotion as if she were reading the charges in court.

“I never, never, never, gave Max classified information. I don’t know who your sources are but they are wrong!” Alex stood up and started pacing around the cell. “I told you everything that happened, everything that was said, all three times I met with Max Lord. Do you seriously think I’d give that piece of shit any information about alien capabilities after what he did to Kara? I mean, really, that doesn’t even make sense!”

“It does if you thought you were trading it for Supergirl’s freedom. I’m done discussing this, you can make your case at the hearing. This is just a courtesy call to let you know what’s going on and give you the opportunity to come clean with anything you might know.” Lucy walked back to the door then turned. “You know, Alex? I really liked you. Thought we made a good team. I hope we don’t find any evidence of collusion on your part when we go through Max’s files. I hope you’re not a traitor.”

Susan Vasquez watched the exchange on one of the monitors and shook her head. No way Alex leaked classified information, information that could potentially hurt or kill the agents she works with, to Max Lord. Yeah, she shouldn’t have gone against Director Henshaw’s orders, but assaulting a superior? Sounds like someone with a bruised ego to me.

“Agent Vasquez,” Hank said as he came up to the console next to her, “anything new to report?”

“No, sir. Agent Danvers still maintains she did not give any classified information to Max Lord.”

“And on this end?” Hank asked.

“Sir, I’ve checked everything out the past few weeks. Agent Danvers is intelligent but … no way she downloaded any classified information without leaving a trace that I couldn’t find. Winn Schott and I practically rebuilt the system a few months ago. I’d know if something was altered.”

“Thank you, Agent Vasquez. I’d appreciate if you continued looking. I don’t believe Agent Danvers gave classified information to Max Lord, however, I don’t want to be blindsided at her hearing.” Hank wished for the millionth time he could access his powers. A few seconds reading Alex’s mind would prove or dispel any allegations of treason. He’d also take a peek into Major Lane’s mind. I’d like to know why she’s so certain someone’s leaking classified information.

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

Kara was at the end of her endurance. Not physically. Max Lord made sure her strength wasn’t overtaxed and she had plenty of time exposed to the sun. Mentally, however, she was toast. Since the sewer debacle where she failed to find the body of the little boy, nothing went right. People were dying, seriously hurt, and the ‘Voice of Doom’ never gave her a second’s peace. The chatter in her ear was constant, always giving her instructions, an unending game of Simon Says.

The only time the voice was silent was in her sleep or when Mr. Lord spoke to her. Everything stopped when he spoke to her. She hated hearing the disappointment in his voice if someone died or was seriously injured at a scene she was sent to. She sat, ramrod straight in her chair, as he urged her to do better so Carter wouldn’t suffer anymore. Then she stood, facing the wall, as she listened to her punishment. The chatter in her ear began as soon as Carter’s screams stopped.

Then it happened. She heard James. He's still here! Her heart soared. What? Wait, he’s asking me something about Carter … Kara continued to shake or nod her head as she rescued people from the fourth floor of a burning building. Please help me, James! Get this voice out of my head!

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

“I don’t know why the … whatever it is … didn’t show up on the first MRI,” Doctor Grey said.

“Were you there when the first MRI was done?” Cat asked as she stared at the image.

“No. Dr. Peterson at Lord Tech did the initial scans before I arrived.” She pulled up comparison shots on the computer monitor. “See? Absolutely nothing there.”

“I see doctor. Now, for the important questions, what’s it doing to him and can you get it out?” Cat needed to know now.

“I’m not sure exactly what it is. I’ll have to consult Dr. Morrison about the removal. From what I see here? It should be a minimally invasive procedure.” Dr. Grey turned off the monitor and turned to Cat, “Carter hasn’t had any health problems since he left the hospital four months ago, correct?”

“No, nothing.”

“That’s good. I’ll speak with Dr. Morrison immediately. You can take Carter home. My office will contact you.”

“Dr. Grey, I want that thing out of my son’s head as soon as it’s physically possible. We’ll wait here while you do your consulting.”

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

Jones was having a good day. Every day was a good day since Mr. Lord broke off negotiations with that Smith fellow. Jones enjoyed using his creativity to ‘make Supergirl suffer’ as Mr. Lord requested. He instituted the ‘constant chatter’, recordings of Carter screaming played faintly over the earpiece as Supergirl slept, rationing the food bars Supergirl ate.

One thing bothered Jones; Whomever Mr. Lord hired to stage the new round of disasters for Supergirl to handle was far clumsier than the crew Smith had. People were dying and seriously injured before Supergirl even arrived on scene. Jones always made it a point to check where and when the events were planned. He didn’t want his wife and children potential victims.

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

Maxwell Lord was beyond frustrated. I can’t believe she hasn’t tried to contact me! She has to see what I’m doing to Supergirl. Maybe if Supergirl somehow got hurt. I’ll have to figure out a way …

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

“What the hell is that thing?” Cat Grant asked Lucy.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. This is what was implanted into Carter?”

“Yes. I need to know what it is. You have access to all of the scientific stuff at your, wherever your working now, place.” Cat waved her hand dismissively, “Can’t you have one of your super science lab people look at it? I’m sure this is what made Carter so sick. I must be one hundred percent sure before we tell Supergirl she’s free.”

Lucy looked at the tiny device. It was way beyond her level of technical expertise. Maybe Vasquez could figure it out.

“I’ll have it checked out when I get back and call you. How’s Carter now?”

“Recovering. Bored. I fear he’s going to have the same aversion to hospitals as I have now.”

Even knowing Cat’s dislike of physical contact, Lucy wanted to put a reassuring hand on Cat’s arm, give her some comfort this nightmare might soon be over. Instead, she settled for a giving Cat a nod, “I’ll get this to our lab.”

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

Vasquez peered into the small box Lucy handed her, “Sorry, ma’am, same answer I had for you a few hours ago. Never seen anything like it before.”

Lucy was exasperated. Every tech person said the same thing, ‘they didn’t know what the hell it was but thought Agent Danvers could figure it out.’ I don’t want to go to Hank with this. Like everyone here is involved in a major insubordination plot – I’ll sound paranoid. Damn it! I guess I’ll ask Alex. Give her a last chance to redeem herself. We can’t free Supergirl if we don’t know Carter will be okay.

“Agent Vasquez, have two armed guards escort Agent Danvers to her lab. I want her cuffed to a belly chain and leg shackles,” Lucy ordered.

“Yes, ma’am,” Agent Vasquez nodded. Okay, Alex, we’ve given you a shot. Make the most of it.

Lucy left walking toward Alex’s cell. She deliberately took a route avoiding Hank’s office. How could I explain trusting Alex in her lab after I made such a big deal about keeping her confined? When Alex got back from her last ‘date’ with Max Lord, Hank wanted her confined to quarters and her lab. Lucy relentlessly pushed, more so than normal, until Hank agreed a cell was warranted.

Lucy met the agents at the door to Alex’s cell and paused before placing her hand on the scanner.

“One at the door armed, the other shackles her,” Lucy instructed.

The agents both nodded in acknowledgement and entered as soon as the door opened. Alex looked up from her book surprised.

“I thought the hearing wasn’t until next week? Did they move it up or am I being transferred someplace else?” Alex asked as she allowed Agent Elmore attached her cuffed hands to a belly chain. “Leg shackles, too? Isn’t that a bit overkill?”

“Following orders, Danvers, sometimes you do what they tell you to even if you don’t agree,” Elmore answered softly so Lucy couldn’t hear.

Lucy waited until Alex was led out the door, shackled, before she made her presence known.

“We’ve come across some tech – taken out of Carter Grant – we want you to look at. Everyone here believes you are the only person who can figure out what it is, what it does. You’re going to get the opportunity to prove them right.”

“Taken out of Carter Grant? Cat’s son? When was it discovered? Where was it discovered, I mean specifically, and how come no one noticed it until now?” Alex stopped to take a breath. She felt hope surge within her. “Take me to my lab. I’ll figure out what it is and then we can nail that son of a bitch to the wall!”

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

Max Lord was finally satisfied. The bomb should detonate with enough kinetic energy to cripple Supergirl temporarily - hopefully not permanently. He wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. He’d plant the bomb himself, in the park near the soccer fields, and wait until Supergirl picked it up. When Supergirl wrapped herself around the bomb to shield the children per her instructions …KABOOM! When the bomb exploded Supergirl would be both the hero and the victim. Alex wouldn’t ignore him anymore.

Chapter Text

“Lucy, I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this polymer is from Lord Technologies,” Alex enthused. “Look at the strand here and here. See? The same composition. We’ve got him!”

Lucy was staring at the computer screen Alex motioned to. She wasn’t sure what she was looking at but Alex’s excitement was contagious.

“Can you get Vasquez to take a break and come in here? I want to see if she can crack the frequency code. Then we’ll have a direct line leading us back to Maxwell Lord! I think it will be enough for a search warrant. Better yet, it might give us some idea of how Max is communicating with Supergirl.”

Lucy nodded to Agent Elmore who left the lab. Lucy felt the niggling voice of doubt in the back of her mind. Alex was so impassioned about finding a way of taking down Maxwell Lord it was difficult to reconcile the suspicion she would give him classified information. She’s not naive. She has to know we’ll search his computers for any hint of classified information. If she gave him anything she’ll be up on conspiracy charges - that’s life in federal prison. Unless … she is telling the truth and I’m wrong.

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

Adam Foster picked up his brother’s suitcase and walked to the penthouse door.

“Say goodbye to your mom, kid, we’ve got a plane to catch,” Adam called over his shoulder to Carter.

“I really appreciate you doing this, Adam,” Cat said as Carter hugged her around the waist.

“Not a problem, Cat, I’ll show Carter why Opal City is so much cooler than Metropolis or National City. Maybe he’ll decide he wants to move there,” Adam joked.

“Watch it you,” Cat gave Adam a mock scowl. Then smiled tenderly as she looked at her oldest son, “Really, Adam. Thank you. And you”, she said turning her attention to Carter. “You keep that hat on. No infections, okay?”

“Yes, mom. Even if I do look like a dork in it.”

“Later.” Adam said as he and Carter exited the penthouse.

Cat breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t want Carter anywhere near National City when the story broke in the Sunday paper. Her jet, technically Catco’s, would ferry her sons to Opal City where Adam promised to lay low with Carter. Cat had her assistant, Jake or something like that, arrange for around the clock security. Maxwell Lord would never touch her son again.

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

“Mr. Prescott, nice to see you’ve kept Supergirl busy today,” Max Lord greeted the man in the command center.

Prescott nodded in acknowledgment as he typed notes into the log. He was uncomfortable making eye contact with Mr. Lord. Prescott noticed, the past month or so, the way his boss’s instructions changed. It was less about controlling Supergirl and more about trying to mentally break her, hurt her, punish her. Prescott couldn’t figure out why. Everything was going so smoothly, Supergirl was compliant, he could see no reason for the brutal way she was treated now.

“Mr. Prescott?” Max was curious. Prescott was never so reticent.

“Yes, Mr. Lord, sorry sir. I wanted to input the data while it was fresh in my mind. Nice to see you today, sir,” Prescott covered his faux pas.

“Glad you’re keeping up with the log. Actually, that’s why I’m here. We’re going to have a major event at a park on Saturday. Eleven in the morning. I don’t want Supergirl to have any rest beforehand. I’ll have the details sent to you later,” Max said still eyeing Prescott. I wish Jones and his crew were scheduled for Saturday morning. Something about Prescott … well, he doesn’t need to know which park the bomb will be at until a few minutes before the detonation …I’ll keep the details to myself until then.

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

“Here are all the rest of the photographs I have,” James placed several sheets on the coffee table. “I think between these and Ryder’s sources we have enough to go with the story. I just wish we could definitively tie everything to Max.”

“Ms. Lane? I believe you have the floor,” Cat nodded to Lucy.

“We do have enough evidence. In fact, I’ve already contacted Dawn Butler from the Federal District Prosecutor’s office. She’s working on warrants right now. It’s going to take a while but, with any luck, we’ll have them signed by a judge and be able to execute them on Saturday morning,” Lucy explained.

“Saturday morning?” Winn asked. “Can we tell Kara she’s free now? I mean that thing is out of Carter. We should tell her now!”

“I agree. We’ve got all the evidence –” James started to say before Lucy cut him off.

“We don’t have all the evidence. You know Max will have a team of the very best lawyers money can buy. We need overwhelming damning evidence and the only way we can get it is through the search warrants. Once we have documented evidence of Max’s collusion with all of the unexplained disasters in National City, we can have him charged with multiple counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder. The problem is, even if some of his people turn state’s evidence his lawyers will paint them as disgruntled employees with an ax to grind against their boss. We need that independent documentation.” Lucy looked unhappy as she announced, “We can’t free Supergirl until the raid is actually in progress. That means Saturday morning at the earliest.”

“I hesitate to ask but … what if Maxwell Lord really has some kind of mind control over Supergirl?” Cat looked at Lucy. “Does your organization have a plan in case she tries to help him?”

“Yes.” Lucy didn’t expound further.

“You’re not going to hurt her!” This was not the fairy tale ending Winn wanted.

“No more than necessary. We’ll use kryptonite darts if we have to,” Lucy said. “Listen, Winn, no one wants to hurt Supergirl after everything she’s been through but she is Supergirl. If she uses her powers against us, we’ll be forced to engage with more extreme measures. I don’t think it will come to that, though.”

“I agree,” James said earning a smile from Lucy. “Kara has answered questions, given us all the clues we needed, that shows she has autonomous thought. She isn’t really controlled by Max – she’s doing what she has to because of Carter. Once she finds out he’s safe? She’ll probably be the first in line to kick his ass! Ahem, sorry Ms. Grant.”

“No apology needed, James. Although I do believe you are wrong in your assessment. I will be the first in line to ‘kick his ass’ as you say. I doubt there will be anything left of him after I’m through,” Cat’s smile was brittle. “You remember Paul Townsend, Lucy?”

“Yes.” The best civil attorney in National City. She’s got something up her sleeve.

“I’ve retained him for the lawsuit I’m bringing against Maxwell Lord and his company. By the time I’m done, that son of a bitch will never have the power to hurt anyone’s child again! The vitriol in Cat’s voice made Winn squirm. “I’ll take his company, his wealth, his prestige, everything.”

Winn, Lucy and James sat in silent agreement. Maxwell Lord better enjoy the next few days, Cat was going to give him a one-way ticket to Hell.

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

“It’s going to work,” Lucy said as she stood in front of Alex’s cell after the meeting with Cat.

“YES!” Alex was excited. She could only hope Lucy would relent and allow her to leave this damn cell and help. There’s no way I’d ever help Max. Lucy has to see that now! I want to be there for Kara. “Lucy,” Alex began for what seemed the hundredth time, “You know I …”

“Save it, Alex,” Lucy said. “You. Are. Staying. Put. End of conversation. Hank may forgive you for disobeying his orders for the umpteenth time but I have to make sure you didn’t leak anything to Max Lord. That means I have to wait until we can get a look at his computers. That means Saturday at the earliest.”

“Lucy –”

“No! This is for your protection as well, Alex,” Lucy advised. “You won’t be given the opportunity to go off half-cocked and get yourself in more trouble.”

“What if Kara needs –”

“Good night, Alex.” Lucy turned and walked out of the room leaving Alex to fume.

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

“Hey, Dad, I haven’t heard from you in a while. Is everything okay?” Lucy asked as she finished putting away the last of her dinner dishes.

“Sorry, Luce, I’ve been very busy. The budget for next year is due in a week. I’ve had my hands full going through the budget items line by line,” Sam Lane answered. “Are you okay? The job treating you well?”

“Yeah. I think I’m finally fitting in there,” Lucy answered. “I do have a question for you, though.”

“Go on,” General Lane said with trepidation.

“Did you ever hear any more about a DEO agent leaking classified information to Maxwell Lord?”

“No. I heard you locked up one of the agents, Agent Danvers was it? The rumors stopped after that. Good work,” General Lane congratulated her. “Listen, sweetheart, I really have to go. I’ll call you later when this budget is done.”

Lucy stared at her phone after her father hung up. She knew her father. She knew when her father was lying. Damn it, Dad! Why?

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

Kara heard James as he talked to her from the concealment of his car as she pushed a runaway barge back to its moorings. She nodded her understanding that she only had to hold on for a little while longer. Saturday morning, he said. Of course, he had no way of knowing she didn’t know the date, the day, or time. She hadn’t in quite some time. It didn’t matter, she could hold on until the mythical Saturday came. She almost smiled.

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

Prescott sat in his chair watching the monitors. Damn it. Was there an event planned for this morning or not? His people needed to know so they could direct Supergirl accordingly – time her response. It’s almost ten o’clock now. Maybe he canceled it. Now I’ve got to scramble to find something else for her to do. Not too hard – she’s already had a full shift looks like … twenty-three hours without sleep. Don’t want her to blow out her powers.

“Make sure anything you have Supergirl isn’t too taxing or too involved. I want her functioning when Mr. Lord’s planned event happens,” Prescott instructed Owens who was feeding Supergirl’s ‘Voice of Doom’, today it was Fisher, instructions to say.

“Any updates as to when or where it is, boss?” Owens asked.

“No. He indicated possibly a park but did not give specifics. I’m sure we’ll hear something shortly. Just keep her in the air,” Prescott ordered. I hope whoever Max hired to do this didn’t bite off more than they could chew.

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

Max watched as the children arrived and coaches took them through their warm ups. This will be spectacular. The National City Soccer Invitational with over twenty teams competing, news crews already on site – Supergirl will have a real moment of glory. Max concealed a purple and green package, containing the bomb, under the only bush close to the soccer field. No one was watching him. He then walked back to his Tesla and drove out of the lot to a spot he previously scouted so he could watch the drama unfold through his binoculars.

Wow, this is a rush! I hope Supergirl isn’t too badly hurt … I’d like to do something like this again. Max sent the information to Prescott via his phone and nodded as he received the confirmation. He looked at his watch. Five minutes to go, time to give National City’s finest a heads up. Max used his cell to call the police and warn them about the bomb. He wasn’t worried about a track on the call, he was, after all, a technical genius. There was no way the phone call or his voice pattern could be traced back to him. Time to watch the show.

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

The command center was isolated from the rest of the sprawling complex. Max designed it with separate dedicated phone lines, alarm systems, and it was fully soundproofed.

“Supergirl. Proceed to the Gale Memorial Sport’s Park. Bomb threat called into police. Bomb encased in purple and green box. Proceed immediately.”

“She’s on her way,” Prescott said as he monitored her progress. “According to these instructions, you’re to tell her, once she locates the bomb to wrap herself around it to shield the children from the blast. If she doesn’t there will be mass casualties – children mass casualties.”

“This is fake, right?” one of the other crew members asked. “I mean Mr. Lord wouldn’t really blow up a bunch of kids. Hell, Jones and his kids are at that park now – some kind of soccer tournament going on.”

The tension in the room was palpable.

“Fisher,” snapped Prescott. “You make damn sure Supergirl understands the directions. Keep her totally under control. We can’t afford to fuck this up.”

Fisher barely spared him a glance as he continued to chatter away in Supergirl’s ear. Sweat was already beaded on his forehead. He went over the instructions four times, having her acknowledge each time, while she was in flight to the park. She was almost there …

BOOM!

The occupants of the command center were totally surprised when a tactical team burst through the door.

“Hands up! Hands up! Don’t touch any equipment! Hands up!”

Lord’s people were subdued quickly.

“Where is the mic used for communicating to Supergirl?” Lucy demanded as she entered the secured control room.

No one in the room spoke. They couldn’t. If Supergirl didn’t complete her mission a there was the chance of a truly horrendous disaster.

Lucy scanned the room quickly then stepped over to Fisher’s handcuffed and prone body. She sat in his chair, keyed the mic, “Supergirl, you’re free. Carter’s okay. This is Lucy Lane. I repeat, you’re free. Welcome back!”

“Wait,” Prescott yelled. “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

 

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

“Where are you at now?” Winn asked James over the phone. “The police scanner broadcast a bomb threat at the Gale Memorial Sport’s Park. Some idiot said he planted a car bomb in the parking lot. There’s a kid’s soccer tournament going on there now!”

“I’m about a mile off,” James said. “I saw a bunch of cop cars with their lights flashing and started following them. Figured there was something big going on.”

James sped down a side street toward the park. He drove past a white Tesla parked on the side of the road. A man was in the driver’s seat. That looked like Max Lord. Shit, he’s here? There really could be a bomb! James took the street corner on two wheels, drove around the block and parked several cars behind the Tesla. Yeah, that’s him. He’s watching something through binoculars. James quietly exited his car and stealthily approached the Tesla from the passenger side. Max was absorbed with whatever he was looking at through the binoculars, an electronic device on the seat next to him. A detonator? James glanced up at the scene unfolding in front of the Tesla. Lots of kids, adults, running toward the playing field and away from the parking lot. Police officers frantically searching the parking lot.

A streak of blue and red. Supergirl landed on the soccer field. He watched as she scanned the area. James heard a slight snick. Son of a bitch! Max Lord was standing on the other side of the car, detonator in hand, a smirk on his face.

“Mr. Olsen, I wasn’t expecting company. Care to watch Supergirl be the hero again?”

“Max, don’t do this. Those are kids.” James slowly eased around the car toward Max. If I can get close enough maybe I can knock that thing out of his hand.

“Uh, uh, uh. Stop right there or I detonate the bomb now. Before Supergirl has a chance to find it – think of the children.” Max sneered then turned his attention back to the soccer field. Perfect. Right in position.

“Max – NO!”

Max pressed the detonator as James yelled, “SUPERGIRL!” A muffled explosion was heard in the distance.

James furiously threw himself at Max Lord. The two tumbled to the ground. James Olsen wasn’t a skinny little kid anymore and he wasn’t handcuffed to a chair.

Max lost.

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

Kara acknowledged her instructions again, “Wrap myself around it – shield the children. Purple and green package. In bushes near soccer field. Save children.”
Save children. Save children. Save children.

The chatter in her ear stopped.  That's nice.  There’s the park. Now to find the -

“Supergirl, you’re free. Carter’s okay. This is Lucy Lane. I repeat, you’re free. Welcome back!”

Kara landed in the park. I’m free? That was Lucy? Carter’s okay? It’s Saturday? She wanted to cry with relief. They saved me! Saved …save… save children! The bomb!

Kara frantically scanned the area and located the package hidden under the bush. Of course it’s lined with lead. Kara grabbed the package and folded her body around it, almost. She heard James yell, “Supergi-” then pain and nothing.

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

It was quiet. She couldn’t hear anything. It was dark. I’m probably dreaming. It’s a good dream. I can use quiet and dark. Rao, I’m tired.

Chapter Text

“We’ve removed something from her left ear. It was almost melted in. Saved her eardrum. The other ear? I’m not sure if a Kryptonian’s organs regenerate.” Dr. Hamilton shrugged as she apprised Director Henshaw of Supergirl’s injuries. “Her internal organs absorbed an unprecedented amount of kinetic energy. We’re not sure of the severity or type of damage yet. Even moving her into a kryptonite room wouldn’t help us unless we opened her up for exploratory surgery. I don’t think we’re at that juncture now.”

“Anything else?” Hank hated to ask.

“There was some kind of plasma in the bomb. I can’t see any actual burns as we know them but her skin is a different hue where the brunt of the force struck her. Agent Danvers is going through the hologram’s medical base. Hopefully she’ll find something that can help us.”

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

Edward Jones Sr. saw his son’s pick up in the driveway as he arrived home. Wonder why Eddie’s here? He didn’t call to say he was coming over. I guess it’s a good thing my poker luck didn’t hold tonight. Hope he hasn’t waited too long for me – he knows I play poker on Saturday nights. Ed Sr. parked his car in the driveway and started toward the house when he noticed the light on in the garage. He knows I hate when he borrows my tools without asking.

A sight he never wanted to see greeted him as he entered the garage. Eddie Jr. sitting on the work bench. A 12-gauge double barrel shotgun positioned under his chin.

“Excuse me son but what in the hell are you doing?

Eddie Jr. took the shotgun from his chin and slumped, “You weren’t supposed to be home until later!”

“I’m home now. Care to answer my question?”

“I’ve ruined my life dad. I’ll probably have to go to prison for the rest of my life. I can’t deal with that. Louise and the kids shouldn’t have to deal with that, either,” Eddie Jr. fingered the shotgun.

“Listen, son. I want you to start at the beginning and tell me what you’re talking about.”

Eddie Jr., better known to his Lord Tech co-workers as Jones, told his father the whole story: how he was recruited by Max Lord to help control Supergirl, how he participated in staged disasters that people lost their lives in, how he helped torture Supergirl.

“Dad, there’s something else. This morning I took the kids to their big soccer tournament. While we were there a bunch of cops started shouting to move away from the parking lot because of a possible car bomb. We ran toward the soccer fields and Supergirl landed right next to us.” Eddie Jr. hung his head, “She looked really lost and confused. She found the bomb under some bushes she was wrapping herself around it when the bomb went off. It was horrible. The kids were crying because Supergirl wasn’t moving – I don’t even know if she was breathing. I just got the kids to the car and left.”

Ed Sr. was silent as he waited for his son to continue.

“It wasn’t until later, Peterson, one of the guys I work with called. Dad, he called from jail. He was arrested along with all of the other guys on the crew. He wanted to give me a heads up. So I’d know they were coming for me.” Eddie Jr. scrubbed his face with his hand. “He told me something else, dad. He told me Supergirl didn’t have to come to save us. She was told by the police she was free before she even got to the park. My kids would’ve been killed if she hadn’t come and risked her life!”

“Well, Eddie,” Ed Sr. stood up and headed for the garage door, “the way I see it you’ve got too choices: you can be the man Max Lord thought you were or you can be the man Supergirl risked her life to save. If you choose the latter, I’ll go with you to the police station. I’ll be there every step of the way. You’re my son and I love you.”

He opened the garage door and walked out.

“Wait, dad, I’m going with you.”

Four hours later Edward Jones Jr. voluntarily gave a statement to Prosecutor Butler and Major Lane.

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

“I hope you gave him a couple for me,” Winn said as he passed the whiskey to James. “Wish I was there to help.”

James poured the amber liquid into his glass. He shook his head at Winn, “No. Be glad you weren’t there. I did everything I could but when he gave me a choice between the kids and Supergirl, I froze. I couldn’t help her.”

James downed the contents of the glass in a gulp. He reached for the bottle but Winn was faster.

“Nope. You’ve already had half the bottle. Drinking isn’t going to help Kara. Alex said she’ll call as soon as Kara’s awake. She may not even be hurt. She is Supergirl,” Winn gave James a half grin.

“She’s hurt. Before the cops showed up, Max Lord made sure he told me how he deliberately configured the bomb to injure her. Winn, she wasn’t getting up. Even five minutes later she was on the ground.” James shook his head to get the image out of his mind. “I wish I’d pounded Max into the pavement.”

“You did enough damage,” Winn smiled then teased. “I can’t wait for his lawsuit.”

James nodded as he remembered Max’s threats to sue him for assaulting him. He really thinks he is going to get away with all of this. Guess he doesn’t know Lucy Lane very well. That woman hates to lose… and Cat Grant? Maxwell Lord, you better pray they keep you in prison for your own safety.

“Thanks for bailing me out.”

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t let you sit in jail all night, besides, it really wasn’t me. Ms. Grant made some phone calls. I guess the prosecutor’s office refused to write the warrant after she finished with them. I was just the chauffeur,” Winn said. “Is this the first time you’ve been arrested?”

“Nah. A couple of times in Metropolis, while working on stories for the Planet, I was brought in. Mostly for, you know, going where I wasn’t supposed to,” James grinned. “Clark bailed me out. I wasn’t planning on getting into any trouble here in National City. Can’t blame the police, though. Max gave a real convincing line that I assaulted him after that neighbor saw us fighting and called the cops. They were going to let him go, he is Maxwell Lord after all, and I’m just a member of the paparazzi. Sgt. Biggs showed up and actually listened to me. Man, you should have seen the look on Max’s face when they slapped the cuffs on.”

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

Alex was tired of the ‘not-looks’ she was getting from everyone. She was released yesterday, after Kara was brought in, unconscious. Now she noticed how other agents carefully avoided her. This is ridiculous! Susan is the worst of all. What the hell am I missing?

Annoyed, she decided to confront Hank. She passed Lucy’s office and stopped. The office door was closed but she could hear someone inside. Someone talking about what was done to Kara. Alex glued herself to the door, listening intently as a man narrated his involvement in Max Lord’s scheme. I am going to kill that motherfucker! That son of a –

“Then Mr. Lord said he wanted Supergirl to really suffer. He said it would make Agent Danvers reconsider his offer. He stopped in daily after that. It seemed he was more frustrated with every passing day. He ordered us to cut her sleep down to one hour every twenty-three hours. Her calorie intake was reduced to five thousand calories every twenty-four hours. I instituted –”

“Agent Danvers. Are you lost?” Hank Henshaw was standing behind Alex.

Alex whirled on Hank, tears streaming down her face, “He tortured her because I refused to sleep with him! What do –”

The droning voice stopped and door to Lucy’s office opened. A disheveled exhausted Lucy Lane stood silently in the doorway.

“Did you know? Did either of you two know what he was doing to Kara while I sat locked up!?” Alex looked accusingly at Lucy then Hank.

Agent Danvers…. Alex. Let’s continue this in my office.” Hank wasn’t sure what he could say to calm Alex down. He hoped to think of something.

“Director Henshaw. If Agent Danvers likes, she may sit in my office and listen to the rest of Edward Jones’ verbal statement,” Lucy offered. “Then, if she has any questions she can ask me.”

Hank was surprised by Lucy’s suggestion. Well, Major Lane, I do give you an ‘A’ for effort. Okay, I’ll let you give it a shot at patching things up. “Agent Danvers?”

“Yes, sir. I’d like to hear the rest,” Alex said wiping her face.

“All right then. I’ll be in my office if you want to talk.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“And for the record? Neither one of us knew what Max Lord was doing to Supergirl. I’m sorry.” Hank nodded then watched as Lucy followed Alex into her office.

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

It was the first time since she owned the National City Tribune every single copy was sold with clamors for reprints. The servers for the on line addition crashed with the volume of hits received. Sixty Minutes, among other media news magazines, launched their own investigations into the National City debacle.

Cat Grant, super media mogul, should have been on top of the world. She wasn’t. The price was too high: her son, Supergirl, and the lives of the victims Supergirl couldn’t save. It was a hollow victory. She sent a short congratulatory note to Ryder, one he thought was a hoax until he read the postscript about another investigation she was waiting for him to complete, then had her calls forwarded.

Normally, on a Sunday night, Cat enjoyed a few precious hours with Carter before the grind of the workweek started again. Tonight she sat silently in her office, thinking. All the damage Maxwell Lord caused: lives taken, lives unalterably changed, lives ruined. Why? Was it pure ego demanding attention? Was it hate toward Supergirl? Was it the lust for power? Any other time, the journalist inside her would itch to investigate for herself. To talk to the source. Not today. Not for this.

The expose and accompanying articles about the bomb in the park and Supergirl sacrificing herself didn’t mention Max Lord. There was no mention of Maxwell Lord or the raid and arrests at Lord Technologies. I’m too close to the case. I can’t afford to let Catco take the lead in this story. We’ve done enough, the rest of the news media will pick the rest up. Maybe Lois will even have a chance to find a crumb or two. Cat picked up her smart phone and recorded a message, “Issue memo to news department. As of immediately, no one is to interview, speak, or write anything regarding Max Lord or Lord Technologies. We will stringently use only AP or other wire service material verbatim when reporting anything in connection to Maxwell Lord. Termination for noncompliance. Issue memo to editorial department. Take every opportunity to blast the anti-alien movement. Coordinate with news department. No mention of Max Lord.”

Cat switched the phone off and set it down. Damn that man! She still couldn’t wrap her head around his betrayal. Cat was savvy, she was cynical, she knew on an intellectual level that no one was safe and her son could be at target. To that end, she took extra security precautions to insure his safety. But this? This was different. This was a man she dated, twice, interacted with on a professional level, and worked with to help stop the mind control of National City’s citizens. Come on, Cat. You’re not figuring this out tonight.

She reached for her phone, checked her messages, then made a call. Baby Lane agreed to arrange transportation if Cat wanted to see Supergirl – if she promised to sign a million non-disclosure forms. That was yesterday. After 34 hours without an update, Cat was willing to brave another medical facility.

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

“Is she still unconscious?” Alex asked as she entered the observation area.

“No, at least not what Dr. Hamilton can confirm. It appears she is sleeping. Has been for the past, what nineteen hours?” Lucy said. “We won’t know the extent of her injuries until she wakes up. Right now she obviously needs sleep.” Lucy looked at her watch then stood up, “I’ve got another meeting with Prosecutor Butler to prep for.”

“I want him in a real prison for what he did to my sister! I mean it! No plea bargains – nothing!”

Lucy stopped in her tracks. Guess I’ll let her know now so she doesn’t take it out on the prosecutor later.

“Alex. You do understand Max will be held accountable for everything except Kara, right?”

“Because she’s an alien. She’s not protected by the Constitution. She has no legal standing,” Alex said with a monotone voice. “I already got the speech from Hank. Fucking wonderful, isn’t it? She risks her life, her safety, for the people of National City and she’s not worthy enough for our legal system to protect. Get ready for your meeting, Lucy. I meant what I said – no plea bargains. Maxwell Lord needs to rot in prison!”

“Trust me, with the amount of evidence we’ve uncovered so far? Not a chance he’ll ever step foot outside a prison again. I’m sure you’re not surprised Cat Grant has made several calls to the Department of Justice in Washington. I can guarantee there will not be any plea bargains. I’ve got to go.”

Alex turned back to watch her sister sleep. I’m here for you, Kara. I’m here.

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

Well this is certainly not a branch of the FBI. Why am I not surprised? The hood adds a nice touch. You’d think they’d come up with something better than, ‘It’s for your own protection.’ Oh, we’re stopped. Let’s see forty-five minutes heading –

“Ma’am,” a male voice came out of the darkness. “If you’ll just give me your hand I’ll guide you inside.”

Oh for heaven’s sake.

Several minutes later Cat stood surreptitiously trying to fix her hair while taking in the large underground facility.

“Ms. Grant,” Lucy greeted as she strode out of her office.

“I take it the signed non-disclosure forms met with your approval? So this place drew you away from a large windowed office with a spectacular view of National City? I hope the pay is better than the view.”

“It isn’t,” Lucy answered bluntly.

“How’s Supergirl? I haven’t heard anything since yesterday. I thought you said you would keep me apprised? That means at least a phone call,” Cat admonished.

“I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep since … Thursday? And as you can see,” Lucy made a show of looking around, “we’re fresh out of assistants to do our bidding.”

Cat observed the bags under Lucy’s eyes, the smudged make up, the bloodshot eyes. Okay. Point taken, I’ll save the snark for later.

“Supergirl’s still out. She hasn’t woken up since, well, she hasn’t woken up yet. Doc Hamilton says she thinks Supergirl’s sleeping,” Lucy rubbed her eyes then let out a sigh. “We don’t know the extent of any injuries. James called me last night when he got out of jail. Thank you for that by the way.”

Cat nodded and waited for Lucy to continue.

“He said Max told him he deliberately built the bomb to injure Supergirl. One of Max’s employees who is turning state’s evidence said Max was upset Alex Danvers refused to sleep with him. That he planned on getting even with Alex by hurting Supergirl. Alex isn’t coping too well right now. I’m telling you that because she’s in the observation area where I’m taking you and she has a mean left hook.”

“Duly noted, Major Lane. I’ll be on my best behavior. I think we’ll bond well in our mutual loathing for Maxwell Lord.”

Lucy stopped and opened a door and ushered Cat into the small room. Alex glanced up at the women then turned her attention back to the young woman, wearing a sports bra and shorts, lying in a sun bed. Cat peered into utilitarian room.

“It doesn’t look much like a medical facility,” Cat said drily.

Lucy rolled her eyes and left.

Cat took a seat giving Alex plenty of personal space. Both women, lost in their own thoughts, sat in silence watching Kara sleep.

“Thank you for taking the time to check on her.”

Cat was startled out of her own reverie by Alex’s soft voice. She let her eyes briefly leave Kara and glance at Alex. “Of course. I owe her a debt I don’t even know how to repay.”

Alex was silent for a moment, “We all owe her a debt.”

The two women continued to watch the slow breathing of Kara. Minutes ticked by. Nothing changed.

“How long has she been like that?” Cat broke the silence.

“Since after she was examined when they brought her in yesterday.”

“I am curious, why isn’t there medical equipment in there. Why just the tanning booth set up?”

Alex’s eyes narrowed. Cat let out another sigh, “I just signed about a million non-disclosure forms. I won’t print anything you tell me and not because I could go to prison if I do. She saved my son.”

“The radiation from our sun. It rejuvenates her,” Alex tried to explain. “Her cells don’t process it the way ours do. The sun bed mimics the sun’s radiation. We’re hoping it will help.”

“Why? I mean, she looks normal from here. What’s wrong?”

“If you look at her stomach, thighs, shoulders and part of her face – the skin color is off. It’s where she – she took the brunt force of the bomb. Max designed it specifically to hurt her, to get back at me,” Alex’s voice broke. She put her head down for a moment then continued, “We don’t know what kind of damage her internal organs took. The doc did take some kind of transceiver out of her left ear. The blast all but melted it in her ear. The doc says it saved her eardrum. The force of the shock wave damaged her other ear.”

Cat nodded slowly as she realized Supergirl wasn’t going to stand up, shake dust from her cape, and fly away. This was going to take time and a lot of support.

“At least she’s free now. She doesn’t have to take orders from Maxwell anymore.” It was the only positive thing Cat could think to say.

“Ah, we’re not so sure of that.”

“What do you mean?” Cat arched an eyebrow. “Max is in jail, his people are rounded up as we speak, that thing is out of Carter.”

“I listened to some of the recorded confession given by one of Lord’s lackeys. The whole thing, the whole time she was with him, he was training her like a dog. Positive, negative rewards, lack of sleep, shit food – everything. Even if she was okay physically, she’ll have to overcome his conditioning.” Alex’s knuckles were white as she gripped the hand rail in front of her.

“I don’t know. She was able to give answers to the questions James asked her, that indicates some level of resistance doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, you’re right. Something else, too – the guy who gave the confession … he said part of the conditioning was telling her how to do everything. If they wanted her to stop they’d just say something like ‘Supergirl. Stop.’ And she did. He said he didn’t even think she could function without someone telling her what to do but she did think and act independently. She was freed before she got to the park. She still saved the people, she could move, she could form strategies. Maybe I am making too much of this,” Alex’s attention was drawn to Kara. “I think she’s starting to wake up!”

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

Wow. I feel like I’ve slept for a week. I’m starving. I hope they let me eat a whole ration bar today. This is weird … no alarm blast? Oh, shit! That hurts! What the hell? Why is it so dark in here? They’ve never turned off the lights before. Nice that it’s so quiet – Damn it! Rao, my skin’s burning off! Owww!

Kara yelped in pain. Alex was already down the small flight of stairs and entering Kara’s room before Cat was even out of her chair.

“Kara, we’ve got you. You’re safe now. You’re at the DEO,” Alex said very softly, soothingly to her sister. Don’t want her to freak out.

Kara didn’t hear her. She sensed movement around her but it was too dark to see anything. Odd, I’ve never had that problem before.

Alex reached for Kara’s hand, “Kara, look at me. You’re safe now.”

Who is that? Leave me alone! Kara jerked her hand away from the touch and struck the top of the sun bed shattering the bulbs and creasing the metal tubes. Her super strength accidentally causing damage as she lacked spatial judgment. She succeeded in rolling off of the bed away from threat, taking the top of the sun bed with her. She stood for a second before crumpling to the floor. Ahhhh! That HURT! She curled in on herself, a tight little ball around the pain in her stomach.

Alex, nursing her bruised hand, stepped around ruined sun bed as Doctor Hamilton and several other people entered the room.

“Don’t touch her,” Alex warned the others. “I think she’s having a flashback and could strike out at anyone.”

“Get the kryptonite darts,” Hamilton called over her shoulder.

“No! She’s too hurt – if you use them she may never recover.”

Through her pain she heard faint voices, familiar. Kryptonite darts? Mr. Lord has kryptonite darts? Is that why I hurt so much? What did I do wrong? Didn’t I save the kids? Oh, Rao, I didn’t save the kids!

Kara lashed out arms flailing in anguish at her failure. The sun bed was now officially wrecked beyond use. Two agents rushed into the room armed with rifles, kryptonite darts already in the chambers.

Alex tried to stand between the rifles and her sister. She went down gritting her teeth as one of Kara’s hands swept out her ankle hard. At Doctor Hamilton’s nod the agents took aim at Kara.

“SUPERGIRL. STOP!”

Kara froze. It wasn’t the ‘Voice of Doom’ she listened to the past few months. It was a voice she knew from the time before. A voice she trusted. The voice will tell me what to do.

Alex looked up from where she lay sprawled on the floor. Cat Grant stood in the observation room doorway like a queen holding court.

Shit!

Chapter Text

“It’s obviously going to be a problem, sir,” Doctor Hamilton said as she finished taping Alex’s ankle. “I’d like to put her in a kryptonite room, low powered, for everyone’s safety. She can’t see. Anytime she reaches out she risks accidentally hurting someone or wrecking things with her strength.”

“Hank. Please don’t do that. Not now.” Alex glared at the doctor as she hopped off the examining table. “The last thing she needs is kryptonite. Now that she’s calmed down-”

“Controlled you mean,” interrupted the doctor.

Alex scowled and began again, “She’s under control, she’ll be fine. We need to give her a chance to recuperate. Cat had her hold still while I took a sample of her affected skin. I’m hoping we can crack the encryption codes in Max’s computer so we can find out exactly what was in the bomb to cause the burns. That or Dr. Peterson gives us some answers.”

“I don’t think Peterson is going to help us out any time soon. He’s in this up to his eyeballs and clammed up the minute he was arrested. A bunch of Lord’s people did that. I guess they think he’s going to fall on the sword himself and absolve them of any wrongdoing. Not going to happen,” Hank added quickly when he saw the look in Alex’s eyes. “I’m inclined to agree with Agent Danvers on this one Doctor. We owe it to Supergirl to give her a fighting chance to heal.”

Hank nodded to the doctor and walked out of the medical bay. Alex hobbling behind him. When they were safely out of earshot Hank stopped and turned to Alex.

“What exactly went on in there? I don’t mean what you’re going to put in your report. I want to know what happened. How come Supergirl didn’t listen to you?”

Alex chewed on her lip a moment before answering.

“I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve come up with a probable answer, not one I particularly like, but, well …”

“Agent Danvers?”

“Yes, sir. First of all, I didn’t take into account her hearing loss when I first spoke to her. She may not have heard me at all. I was talking softly, you know, trying to comfort her. Second, I didn’t know she couldn’t see me. I should have realized her eyes weren’t focused on me when I moved toward her – I was just happy she was awake. When I picked up her hand I guess she wasn’t expecting it and she freaked. After that I was too busy trying to keep Hamilton from shooting her full of kryptonite to try and talk to Kara,” Alex explained. “I told Cat, while we were waiting for Kara to wake up, about what that one guy told Lucy. About what they were doing to Kara to control her. I guess Cat figured she’d give it a try. It did work. Kara stopped dead in her tracks and I was able to get Hamilton and the guys out of there.”

“Okay, I understand that part. Why isn’t she letting you …. ‘command’, for lack of a better word, her now?”

“That’s the part of the theory I don’t particularly like. I think it comes down to our relationship. I may be her big sister but we’re still pretty much on the same level – like Winn, James, or Lucy. Kara’s lived the past four months under some fucking harsh conditions. She’s had someone tell her where to go, what to do, everything. Right now, because she can’t see, I think she’s falling back on that pattern. She hasn’t processed she’s free, I think, partially because she can’t see.”

Hank nodded his understanding, “Okay, go on. Why Cat Grant?”

“She’s Kara’s boss. I mean, for like two years she ran my sister into the ground expecting her to do the impossible, jump when she said jump. You know,” Alex looked up with a slight grin remembering the way Hank described his short stint working for Cat Grant while covering for Kara. “She was, in her own way, as demanding as Max’s guys were. I guess that’s why Kara responded to her like that.”

“So where do we go from here? Any suggestions? I can’t have Doctor Hamilton put at risk when she goes in to check up on your sister.”

“I know. I’m hoping the longer she’s actually free the more comfortable she’ll be around other people. I want to spend time with her but figuring out what Max’s bomb did to her is more important and Lucy is too busy working the case against Max to spend any time with Kara. So ….”

“Spit it out, Alex,” Hank prodded.

“Actually, sir, I think it might be a good idea if Winn and James could come here and spend time with her. Talk to her. Help break her conditioning.”

“Sounds like a good plan. Meanwhile, I’m going to look in on your sister myself. See if there’s any way I can help out.”

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

Kara sat quietly on the floor, ignoring the pain in her gut, the burning of her skin, listening to the familiar voice. She didn’t know how Cat Grant managed to work her way into her own private hell but she was happy for the company. I wonder if she’ll disappear if I say something. Better not risk it. Keep quiet and listen.

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

It was three in the morning. Cat knew she needed to be in the office at eight thirty. Earlier if possible. All hell was breaking loose since the expose, bombing, and Max Lord’s arrest. It was a journalist’s dream. The problem was …. she couldn’t make herself leave the nightmare Max Lord created. Other people tried, without success, to order Kara around. Her sister couldn’t even get her to move. She won’t even speak. I know her voice works if the little whimpers of pain are any indication. What the hell did Max do to you, Kara?

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

“Mom, I could really use your help with this. I don’t know what to make of the skin sample. The degradation was almost immediate when …. Oh, okay, I’ll let them know you’ll arrive in a couple hours. I love you too.”

“Calling in the big guns, I see,” Hank startled Alex as he entered her lab. “I do have to say, your sister has the Danvers stubborn streak. I tried to get her to move. Seems the only one she is listening to is Ms. Grant. Guess that blows your theory out of the water, huh?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, technically, I was also her boss and we butted heads a few times too. Shouldn’t she have listened to me too?” Hank questioned. “Trust me. I used my best ‘command’ voice and I wasn’t soft spoken. She just sat there. Didn’t move.”

Alex’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t know. What if there’s something else going on in her brain. Did she say anything?”

“No and Ms. Grant said she hasn’t spoken to her, either.” Hank eyed Alex, “Get yourself a couple of hours sleep. I’ll wake you up when Dr. Danvers arrives. You’re sister’s in good hands.”

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

Cat finally was able to contact her assistant. Jack, or something like that, was actually sleeping. A fact that irritated Cat to no end. It was seven o’clock in the morning, Monday morning. Unless he was impossibly dense, which she doubted as Kara had hand picked him, he should have realized she would need him today as early as possible. Didn’t he read or listen to the news? They broke one of the biggest stories in National City’s history yesterday. Of course today would be insanely busy. She needed her IT guy and she needed him stat! She grit her teeth when he asked her whom she was referring to. I guess he does have a point. They’re all my people. At least he was quick enough on the uptake when she mentioned the toy littered desk to suggest Winn. She knew Winn’s name perfectly well, but, she was Cat Grant. She had an image to maintain.

Five minutes later, Winn called his boss. At least he doesn’t sound like he has a mouth full of pillow.

“I need you to coordinate with your friend here at the, the … place where Agent Danvers works at. I need a secure hook up to Catco by eight o’clock at the latest,” Cat ordered. “Senior editors only. Wait, I want James spearheading this on the Catco end – he knows the whole story and has an appreciation for the sensitive nature of some of the facts. Have him coordinate with news and opinion. I’ll direct from here for the time being. Chop! Chop!”

“Yes, Ms. Grant,” Winn said into the receiver before he realized he was already listening to the dial tone. By eight o’clock? Damn, better get Susan on the phone now.

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

James was amazed and, truth be told, more than a little awed at his boss. I don’t know how she does it. In less than twenty minutes she dictated the ‘who, what, where, how, and when’ of the lead story for the Trib today. Then she directed her news chief on exactly what follow ups were needed and her opinion editor was clearly informed as to what the Catco’s opinion was. All on no sleep since, what, Sunday morning?

After crashing at Winn’s place Saturday night, James spent Sunday working out, grocery shopping, and cleaning his apartment. Clark called him and, for the first time ever, James didn’t pick up. He needed to internalize the past few days. He needed space. I didn’t save her. I choose a bunch of strangers instead. Intellectually he knew it was the correct decision his emotions, however, needed to come to the same conclusion.

Much to his chagrin, he realized Cat’s insistence he manage the Catco follow up was therapeutic. It enabled him to see the bigger picture – like Supergirl had to do every day. He wondered if that’s what Cat Grant had in mind when she assigned him the task. Cat takes care of her own.

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

Okay, I know this is a government facility but surely they have to have better coffee than this! Cat was exhausted and hungry. The agent who brought her the coffee, clearly enamored with her presence, proudly stood by as she took a sip. The glare she fixed him with afterward sent him scuttling from the room.

Come on, Kara. Snap out of it! At least say something. Believe it or not, I’m tired of hearing my own voice. Help me out.

The young woman continued to sit still. The shattered glass and broken metal were removed and the room swept clean after Cat demonstrated her control over Supergirl. Supergirl this and Supergirl that went on for a half hour while agents, armed with kryptonite darts, covered the other agents who cleaned up the debris. Kara didn’t move a muscle unless directed by Cat. The situation initially made her uneasy and was now alarming her. This isn’t you, Kara. Come on. Fight!

“Uh, Ms. Grant?” Winn Schott stood in the doorway eyes riveted to Kara sitting on the floor.

Cat was totally taken by surprise. Where the hell did he come from and, more importantly, why isn’t he at work? It’s ten o’clock already? I must have dozed off. A quick glance at Kara confirmed what Cat feared; She was still sitting exactly in the same position waiting for Cat’s further direction. Damn it!

“Mr. Schott, do you mind explaining why you are here when you should be toiling away at your job? You know, the one you won’t have any longer if you continue to take field trips,” Cat fell back on her default work persona. She knew why Winn was here: Supergirl.

Winn, his eyes never leaving Kara, drew himself up. Time to do it Schott. Just say it.

“I know this is really bad timing, Ms. Grant, but I’m resigning from Catco. I have to. They need me to work here, to help Kara.”

“Excuse me? I haven’t slept since yesterday and my hearing may be a little off but I do believe I thought I heard you resign without proper notice.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant. You did. I have to help Kara. Alex called me up. Max put something in that bomb specifically to hurt Kara,” Winn’s voice broke. “They don’t know what it is or what it’s doing to her. Alex needs me to break Max’s encryption code. See if the solution is in there. It’s going to take a lot of time, Ms. Grant. I can’t work at Catco and work here. Frankly, Kara Danvers is a helluva lot more important than my job. I’m sorry Ms. Grant.”

Cat nodded. She did understand. It was the reason she was sitting in this room. Wherever the hell I am. She, by all rights, should be in the thick of things at Catco directing her media empire with its thousands of employees worldwide not playing puppet master to Supergirl.

“Ms. Grant?” Winn ventured before he left. “I’m sure the doctors here know what they’re doing and all but, did anyone feed Kara yet? She’s got that ‘I’m starving’ look on her face.”

Cat quirked her eyebrow at Winn then studied Kara’s face. The look was consistent with the ‘it was a long four-hour meeting without a break’ before lunch look. Times one hundred. Damn, I should have noticed it before. Why won’t she say she’s hungry?

“Would you please inform whomever, I insist on … pizza?” she guessed. Winn nodded giving her a thumbs up gesture. “Extra-large … make that two, with … what kind of toppings?”

“Double cheese, double pepperoni,” Winn broke in. “I’ll have it ordered right away, Ms. Grant.”

“Mr. Schott.”

Winn stopped in his tracks and turned to Cat.

“As long as your taking lunch orders, lettuce wrap from Noonan’s. Extra crisp.”

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

Oh, Rao, I know that smell. From the time before …coffee. I love coffee. Kara waited, not moving. She learned iron self-control under Max Lord’s tutelage. Cat will tell me when I can eat and drink. Maybe I’ll get two ration bars!

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

Alex rubbed her eyes for the millionth time. Four hours of sleep – I shouldn’t be this tired.

“Alex, sweetheart, go back to sleep. I’ll finish catching up on your notes and wake you later,” Eliza said as she scrolled through Alex’s tablet. When her daughter didn’t move she put down the tablet and rubbed a comforting hand over Alex’s shoulders. “I promise. The second I finish your notes.”

Alex hung her head for a moment then ran her fingers through her hair, stalling for time, trying to figure out if she should put the horrible guilt she felt into words. She worked so hard to perfect her badass image. It would be lost the moment she sought comfort, forgiveness from her mother. She wouldn’t be able to control the grief, the rage, the self-loathing. And it wouldn’t help Kara.

Alex stood up and hugged her mom. I’ll tell her later. Get a little more sleep first. Maybe Kara will get better fast and no one will have to know.

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

“I want a table. She is not going to eat on the floor like an animal!” Cat was extremely irritated by the burly agent who made the suggestion. Supergirl might accidentally break the table and he didn’t want to do the paperwork. “I also want a bed, make that two, brought in here. We’re napping after lunch.”

The man shrugged his shoulders, “Okay. I’ll clear it through the boss and let you know.”

Cat was very tired. She was very hungry. She was also very angry. “Agent Croswell? If I don’t get what I asked for in, let’s say five minutes, I will walk out of the facility with Supergirl in tow. I suggest you don’t disappoint me.”

Croswell, realizing he was really didn’t want to disappoint her, exited the room in search of a heavy duty table and a couple of cots.

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

Kara heard bits and pieces of the exchange. Unless Cat spoke directly to her, commanded her to do something, she tuned out the words and let the familiarity of the voice comfort her. Why won’t they turn on the lights? Then I could see why my skin feels like I walked through a Kryptonian rainstorm. I hear stuff moving around, and oh, I know that smell… cheese and pepperoni. I love –

“Supergirl. Stand.”

Kara immediately rose and stood at ramrod attention. She heard more scuffling sounds further away. There was another mumbling of words.

“Supergirl. Hold out your left hand. I’m going to take your hand and lead you. Do not squeeze my hand. Very good. Gently sit down. Good. I’m going to guide your left hand to a slice of pizza. You can pick it up. Wait, well, that isn’t working. Put your left hand out flat. Good. I’ll put a piece of pizza in your hand. Good. Go ahead and eat the pizza.”

I can eat the Pizza? Really? Oh, that was so good, way better than Max Lord’s treats.

“Supergirl. I’m going to take your left hand and guide it to the edge of the pizza. I want you to memorize exactly where I put your hand. Now I want you to feed yourself. Carefully put your hand back to the table when you are taking another slice. Put your right hand gently on the table. Good. I’ll place a water bottle in your right hand so you can drink from it whenever you want. Take your time. Make sure all of your movements are slow and precise.”

I can eat the all of the pizza? Yes! Good pizza, from that place Winn likes.

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

Cat sat on the other side of the table. She finished her disappointingly wilted lettuce wrap and was watching as Kara delicately went through two pizzas and ten bottles of water.

“Thank you, Cat.”

“Kara?”

“Yes…. I’m not dreaming, am I?”

“No – no you’re not. This is real. You’re safe.”

“The lights aren’t off, are they?”

“No, the lights are on.”

“Okay. I just wanted to be sure.”

Chapter Text

Susan Vasquez nodded ‘thanks’ to Winn as she sat back down at the console after her break. Normally she, like any other DEO agent, spent her break in the cafeteria. Today was different. Winn told her Supergirl was awake and seemingly aware. Susan went to see for herself. She sat in the observation room, desperately racking her brains to come up with a reason to enter the room below where Cat Grant, super media mogul, sat across the table from a blind Supergirl. She wanted to let Supergirl know everyone was pulling for her and ‘Welcome Home.’ Two empty pizza boxes and a littering of empty water bottles on the table gave her an excuse.

“Excuse me, ma’am’s,” Susan said as she stood in the doorway. “I’m Supergirl’s escort to the, um, facilities.”

“Oh, thanks Vasquez,” Kara looked in the direction of the familiar voice. “I’d appreciate that.”

Kara remained seated as Vasquez approached, both women unsure of the actual logistics of what to do. Cat Grant read the body language and took charge.

“Supergirl, remain still until this agent takes your left arm then slowly rise. Let her guide you. Remember, slow careful movements.” Cat then pinned Vasquez with a stare, “And you, be very careful. Make sure you talk and explain everything. Stay on her left side.”

Susan felt the weight of the stare, the power of the command, and unconsciously stood straighter. “Yes, ma’am.”

Cat watched the two leave the room, Vasquez leading Kara as if she was made of glass and could break. I guess that’s good. She’s going to need a lot of help and support. Glad someone in the place understands that. I’d like to get my hands on that sister of hers. Why the hell hasn’t she made an appearance?

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

 

“She knows.”

Alex stopped scribbling indecipherable numbers on a paper. She couldn’t look up at Hank, see the sadness mirrored in his face the way she heard it in his voice.

“What happened?” Alex’s voice was devoid of emotion.

“Apparently you were right in your initial assessment. She did think it was some kind of dream because she couldn’t see. Evidently, two extra-large, double cheese, double peperoni pizzas convinced her otherwise.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Hank was surprised at Alex’s behavior. The Alex Danvers he knew? She would have run him over as she left her lab for the observation room. The woman in front of him didn’t even look up from her notepad. The silence stretched on until it became awkward.

“She’s sleeping now,” Hank offered. “You may want to wait until later to see her.”

Alex nodded, her fingers tightly gripping the pencil. “Yeah, later is a good idea. Mom should be up then too. Maybe we’ll go together.”

Hank stood in the doorway, watching Alex a few seconds longer, then turned and walked toward his office.

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

Lucy knocked once then entered Alex’s lab without waiting for permission.

“Hey, I heard Kara’s doing better.”

“Define ‘better’,” Alex’s voice was acid. “Like – I’m not destroying everything accidentally better? or Max Lord didn’t totally fuck my brain up better? She’s blind, Lucy.”

Lucy took a step back at the vehemence in Alex’s voice. Hank did tell her Alex wasn’t handling the situation well. She didn’t expect this.

“Look, Alex, Kara’s going to need our help –”

“No, you’re wrong, Lucy. Kara needed our help and we failed. I failed. Right now the best help I can give her is to figure out what the hell Max put in that bomb. I owe her that, at least. I’m busy. You know the way out.” Alex resumed peering into the microscope.

Lucy opened her mouth to speak then closed it abruptly. Okay, Alex, I’ll let you stew. Maybe your mom can talk some sense into you.

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

Kara awoke from her dreamless sleep and listened. Cat’s still here. Heartbeat slow and steady … still asleep. I can’t believe how nice she’s been to me after what happened to Carter…. maybe she doesn’t know it was my fault that Max hurt him so many times. I need to tell her. She deserves to know the truth from me not Alex or – hey, where’s Alex? Why isn’t she here? I thought I heard her say stuff earlier. Everything’s kind of fuzzy. Maybe she’s working in her lab or sleeping. I don’t even know what time it is. Rao, I can’t see! What am I going to do? Okay, calm down, deep breaths. Just because I can’t see right now doesn’t mean I’m helpless. I know where her lab is. Slow and precise movements like Cat said. Piece of cake.

Kara rose from her bed as quietly as possible. Okay, Cat is sleeping over there so I’ll go this way until I reach a wall. Nice and easy. Good. See I can do it. Now follow the wall around until I get to a door. Simple. Damn! Why does my skin feel like it wants to burn off? Have to let Alex know, she’ll figure out why. Maybe that’s what she’s doing right now. She’s trying to help me. Yeah, bet that’s it. Well, I’ll tell her where it burns and stuff. It might help her. Oh-here’s a door. I’ll just quietly head –

“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” Cat’s voice cut through the blackness.

Kara stopped in her tracks. Shit, she sounds tired and mad. “Um, going to find Alex?”

“Don’t take one step out that door,” Cat ordered looking at the small flight of stairs leading to the observation room ready to ambush an unseeing Kara.

“Really, I can do this.”

“Not. One. Step.”

Kara knew that tone and decided not to test Cat’s patience. Guess I’m not going anywhere now. Might as well get this talk over with now. Apologize for what Carter went through.

“Sorry for waking you. I tried to be quiet.” Kara began looking in the general direction of Cat’s voice. “As long as we’re both up, could you tell me what happened? I remember there was a bomb by a bunch of children. I was supposed to save the kids – shield them from the bomb. Did anyone get hurt?”

The room was quiet.

“Cat?”

“From what I understand, everyone was uninjured except you. You managed to save them all.”

“Good. I’m glad.” Kara nodded then forged ahead. “When I first woke up here I was confused. I heard someone say something about kryptonite darts and thought Max Lord was going to punish me for failing the children – and I thought …. I thought maybe he had already killed Carter.”

Cat sat stunned, “Why would he kill my son? Did he say he was going to kill him?”

“He said he would hurt him if I didn’t follow his directions and he would kill him with some kind of virus if I refused to remain under his control or tried to stop him. I thought he killed Carter because I didn’t save the children. That I was too late.”

“Carter is fine –”

“I’m sorry he had to suffer so many times for my mistakes,” Kara hung her head. “I did try - sometimes it wasn’t enough – I couldn’t do enough. I’m so sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” Cat asked then firmly said, “If anyone should be sorry it’s that son of a bitch who decided to use my son as a pawn. As a matter of fact, he will be very sorry. You, on the other hand have nothing to apologize for. He will – wait, what do you mean ‘suffer so many times?”

“When I made mistakes. He hurt Carter. It was horrible listening to Carter screaming. That was my punishment, my reminder, to do exactly what Max Lord wanted me to do.”

“Are we talking about the first day? When you accompanied me to Lord Tech?”

“Well then too. That’s when it started. He had me watch. I saw you, too, in the hospital room. I couldn’t think of a way of saving Carter, stopping his pain. Max said it was a special virus he controlled and it could kill Carter. After that I had to face the wall and listen to Carter scream. That was worse.”

“But you’re talking about days, weeks or months afterwards, correct?” Cat needed to nail down specifics.

“Yes.”

“Kara, I want you to listen to me very carefully.”

Kara nodded her head.

“Carter was sick, I thought he was dying, that first day. Thank you, by the way, for calling Dr. Grey. I’m sure she saved Carter from that hack doctor of Max’s but I digress. After that first day, Carter never had any more problems. He was totally fine. We wouldn’t have even known about the … thing implanted in his head if James hadn’t asked you this week about Carter.”

“That was this week? It seems like forever ago.”

“Don’t interrupt, Kara. I’m trying to tell you; Carter wasn’t hurt after that first day. I don’t know what Max did, what you were listening to, but it wasn’t my son!”

“But I heard –”

“Kara, it wasn’t Carter.”

“It sounded –”

“It wasn’t!”

Cat let the silence stretch on giving both women time to assimilate the others words. So Max kept her in line by what? Having someone scream in pain? No, she’s sure it was Carter – that bastard probably recorded Carter from that first day. That son of a bitch!

“Kara? Do you think it’s possible what you heard was a recording?”

“I guess it’s possible. I hadn’t thought –”

“It was a recording,” Hank’s voice proceeded him into the room. “One of many re-engineered to keep Supergirl in line, to punish her.”

Kara turned toward the voice coming out of the blackness, “Director Henshaw?”

“Yes, and now that you’re awake, rested, we need to debrief. Major Lane is waiting in the interview room. I’ll take you there as soon as you’re fully clothed.” Hank took Kara’s arm and guided her hand to a jumpsuit. “I can help you on with it or –”

“I’ve got it,” Kara said. I can still dress myself. Oh, all one piece. Okay, legs, arms, buttons. This side is the front. One leg in now the other, nice and slow, pull up arms in, good, button up and done!

“Here,” Hank said putting a pair of shoes in Kara’s hand.

“Thanks.” Feel the edges – right foot now left foot. Cool. “Okay, boss, where to now.” Kara felt her swag coming back.

“I’ll take your arm and guide you there, Supergirl,” Hank’s voice was full of amusement.

“Give me a minute to look presentable,” Cat said.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Grant, this is Supergirl’s debrief. Only Major Lane and myself will be present. Hank sighed, “Yes, I know you’ve signed all the non-disclosure forms Lucy could find but this debrief is classified.”

“Will Alex be there?”

The hope in Kara’s voice was unmistakable.

“No. She’s busy in her lab. It’ll just be Lucy and I.”

“Oh, okay.”

“In the meantime, Director Henshaw is it? Am I free to go? My company won’t run by itself.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant, you’re free to go as long as you keep yourself available for Major Lane. I’m sure she’ll have follow up questions. I’ll have an agent drive you back to National City,” Hank said.

“Is the hood strictly necessary? I’ve already signed-”

“Yes, Ms. Grant, the hood is necessary. It’s for your own protection. The less you know about this facility the less of a target you will be,” Hank offered as explanation. “I would, however, like to thank you for your assistance with this investigation. I’m happy your son is okay.”

Cat, still not happy about wearing the hood, gave a noncommittal, “Mmmph.”

Hank gently grasped Kara’s arm to lead her out.

“Wait!” Kara faced in the direction of Cat’s voice. “I want to thank you, Cat, for everything. You .... you taught me so much, pushed me to be better, and you brought me out of a nightmare. I’m so glad Carter is okay.”

“Yes, well, my son and I owe you a great deal of thanks also, Supergirl … Kara. Let me know when you are ready to come back to Catco. Your office will still be there waiting for you.”

“But I can’t –”

“Yes, you can. I have faith in you. Now run along and give Baby Lane my regards. Chop. Chop.”

Kara smiled and it was like the sun burst through the clouds. Cat smiled back even knowing Kara couldn’t see her. She missed that smile.

“Come on, Supergirl, we’ve got some work to do,” Hank’s voice was a little rough as he gently led Kara out of the room.

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

“You’re saying this sample is Kara’s skin? How did you harvest the cells?” Eliza asked as she peered into the electron microscope.

“I used an extremely small amount of synthetic kryptonite and took the sample from her right thigh while she was still unconscious. The other sample is also hers but from the part of her leg that wasn’t discolored. I don’t know what Max put into that bomb – nothing I know has the power to discolor her skin like that. I don’t – whoa!” Alex jumped back from the experiment she was working on.

A small whiff of burned flesh reached Eliza who turned toward a horrified Alex, “Honey, are you alright?”

“Shit! This is so not good,” Alex replied. “Hand me that sample S4.”

Eliza handed the slide to Alex while taking in the equipment set up on the lab bench. “What are you testing –”

A small flash and the smell of burned flesh again permeated the air.

“Is that –”

“Yeah, mom, it is. I don’t know how Max did it – what he used – but if Kara is exposed to sunlight, the infected skin cells will burn,” Alex stated as she rechecked her data.

“Why?” Eliza asked as she looked over through Alex’s notes. “He seemed to have her doing whatever he wanted. Why would he want to hurt or cripple her? Could this be an unintended side effect of the bomb? Could –”

“This was no side effect, Mom. He deliberately designed the bomb to do this. It was meant to be as painful as possible without actually killing her,” Alex felt sick.

“I met Max Lord. He didn’t strike me as the kind of man who would do something without a purpose,” Eliza was puzzled. “What possible reason could he have for doing this to Kara?”

“Me, Mom, he wanted to get to me.”

Chapter Text

Hank carefully led Kara through the halls of the DEO, his stern countenance warding off stares of agents as they passed. After listening to Jones’ statement, he wasn’t looking forward to the debriefing. He remembered when Max Lord was a prisoner at the DEO and Supergirl championed his release even after he tried to kill her with a Frankenstein version of herself. Alex said he was dangerous. He should have listened. Should have found some way to keep closer tabs on the man. Now he had a blind, partially deaf alien with super powers to guide through a grueling interview.

“Director Henshaw?” Kara’s voice was pitched low. “Could we maybe …. slow down a little. It’s kinda difficult, disorienting, to walk this fast right now.”

Hank immediately slowed, “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

“S’okay. Just … different.”

“We’re almost there now – a few hundred feet. Okay, stop here and let me get the door.” Hank quickly entered his code on the keypad and the lock clicked open. Lucy looked up from where she was seated, her eyes full of trepidation. He wasn’t the only one not looking forward to the debrief.

“Hello Kara,” she greeted. “It’s good to see you. I’ve – we’ve all missed you … worried about you.”

Kara looked where she thought Lucy was, “Thanks – thank you for everything you did. It was so good to hear your voice …. letting me know Carter was safe.” Kara cocked her head and added, “That was you telling me you were taking care of Alex, keeping her out of trouble, when I was holding up fallen power lines over Greenfield Road a …a couple of months ago? Thanks – I was worried about Alex. She always tries to protect me, you know, big sister stuff. I knew she was probably going crazy after that stupid press conference – it helped knowing she had someone to keep her out of trouble – watch her back for me.”

“Uh, yes … I did try to keep her out of trouble,” Lucy said unable to make eye contact with Hank as he stood behind Kara.

“We’re going to have you sit in this chair here,” Hank guided Kara to a seat opposite of the desk Lucy was sitting at and put her hand on the back of the chair.

Kara carefully mapped out the chair with her hand before sitting down. Hank went around the desk and sat next to Lucy.

“Before we begin, Supergirl, I want you to know this debrief will be videotaped. Per DEO regulations, we will not be able to alter or edit the interview. Consider your answers carefully before speaking. You may request a brief recess at any time. Do you have any questions before we begin?” Hank asked.

“What if I can’t answer a question because it would … compromise other people, innocent people?”

Hank looked at Lucy who answered, “We won’t ask you any questions that would require you to divulge sensitive information. If I do pose a question that inadvertently will require such an answer, please ask for a brief recess. If you don’t understand a question, ask for me to rephrase or clarify the question.” Lucy paused then added, “The purpose of this debrief is to gain information, your perspective, of the events leading to the arrest of Maxwell Lord.”

Kara nodded, “I’m ready.”

“Okay,” Lucy began. “First question: Why did you agree to work with Maxwell Lord?”

“He told me he would kill a boy, Carter Grant, if I did not agree to his terms.”

“What were those terms?”

“Trade my life for Carter Grant’s. Work under Max Lord’s command, have no contact with former friends or associates, give control over my life to him. He told me he infected the boy with a virus only he could control and demonstrated his ability to harm Carter. I did believe he would continue to do so or worse. I made the agreement.”

The questioning went on for several more hours. Kara learned, through Lucy’s questions, many of the fires and emergencies she was at were actually staged events done with the sole purpose of keeping her as busy as possible. When Lucy started her questions about the first fatality, an accident involving a semi-truck and a car, Kara asked for a recess.

As Hank led her outside the room she asked, “Was that an accident or was it another fake stunt that went bad?”

“We believe it was another one of Lord’s staged events.”

Kara felt behind her for the wall then leaned against it head down. “I didn’t save him,” she said softly. “I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking – not checking out the scene visually first. I just landed next to the car and didn’t see anyone in it. I never even thought about the truck until after the explosion and fire. One of the fire firefighters found someone in the truck cab – someone I should have saved. Before that -”

Hank put his hands on her shoulders then slowly drew her into an embrace, “Shhhh. You may be Supergirl but everyone has their limits – even you. What you don’t know, what we’ve found so far going through records and talking with members of Max’s team, is that Lord was deliberately testing you. Testing the boundaries of your strength, endurance, speed. He was the one who deliberately put people’s lives in danger. None of this is on you.”

“But I –”

“No. This is on Maxwell Lord. The man was so busy collecting his data, playing his games, he didn’t care about the lives of the people he intentionally placed in danger. This is not the first time he’s done that if you recall.” Hank waited a second then added, “You ready to continue?”

Kara drew a deep breath, “Yeah, let’s get this over with. Hank? Do you think you could take me to Alex’s lab when we’re done? I … I’d like to talk to her.”

“Sure,” Hank said as he took her by the arm to lead her back into the interview room. “Let’s get this over with first.”

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

Eliza held her daughter tightly as Alex sobbed into her shoulder. She wished she could find words to ease Alex’s pain, her misplaced guilt. Instead, she slowly rocked the young woman as though she were still a child, it was the only comfort she could give. My brave little girl. Always the one with the hard choices. She was both heartbroken for her daughter, both of her daughters, and infuriated with Max Lord. The only way of beating him is to find out how to help Kara, neutralize whatever he put in that bomb, to let him know he failed with both of my daughters. She thought the DEO under the real Hank Henshaw was an evil organization. Maxwell Lord redefined evil.

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

Major Lucy Lane was emotionally drained. Hours of questioning her friend, learning firsthand the cruelty her friend was put through, made her wish she was with James when he apprehended Max Lord. Every time she glanced up from her notepad to ask a question she was greeted by a blind Supergirl gamely answering questions while looking over Lucy’s right shoulder.

“Wait, you skipped over the little boy,” Kara interrupted Lucy’s next question.

“The little boy?” Lucy asked.

“The little boy, three years old? He fell into the sewer – on Evergreen Street,” Kara supplied.

Lucy was unsure how to answer. She knew about the incident from Jones’ statement and was hoping to gloss over it. There was no need to debrief on it as no one but Supergirl was involved – it would not further her case against Lord. She wanted to discuss it in private with Kara not in a taped interview. Now that Kara brought it up, however, she had no choice but to proceed. She glanced at Hank who gave her a nod, “Okay. Yes, the boy on Evergreen Street. What were the directions given to you?”

“To proceed with the search. Parents and authorities already gone from the scene. Put the manhole cover back when I entered so no other child would fall in. I asked the voice to track me through the sewer system, guide me, because the pipes are all lead lined. I thought it would be easier to find the boy if they helped,” Kara’s shoulders slumped. “I couldn’t find him. I was sent back my next shift to … recover the child’s body. I searched for him for a long time – I didn’t find him. I went back, shift after shift, nothing.”

“Maxwell Lord lied to you, Supergirl. Numerous times. In this particular instance he lied to you about the existence of a little three-year-old boy who fell into a sewer. There was no little boy, ever. He told you that lie to keep you busy. Apparently he needed time to plan more disasters for you to go to,” Lucy watched the play of emotions cross Kara’s face. “I am sorry.”

Kara remained still, trying to process what Lucy told her. I really cared about that little boy, about his parents not able to say goodbye to him. This is so hard. Everything I believed, everything I’ve done, is a lie. I thought at least I was helping people by surrendering my powers to Max and all the time I was chasing my own tail and he was laughing at me.

“Lucy? Sorry, Major Lane? Was there anyone I helped? I mean anyone who wasn’t part of Max Lord’s scheme?” Kara had to know.

Lucy clamped down hard on the impulse to race around the desk and embrace her friend. She swallowed and in a rough voice said, “There were plenty of real people you helped, Supergirl. Not everything you did was a Maxwell Lord lie.” Please ask for a recess, Kara.

“Major Lane,” Hank spoke up. “Supergirl is still under medical care. We will resume the interview after lunch and Dr. Hamilton has a chance to complete a brief medical check. I’ll escort Supergirl to the mess then medical. Time is now 1325 hours.”

“Yes, sir,” Lucy acknowledged as she stood. Thank you.

“I’m on your left side, Supergirl. I’ll take your left arm and guide you to the mess – where one of your friends took it upon himself to order in some ‘comfort food’ for you,” Hank gently grasped Kara’s upper arm.

The mention of food barely seeped through the numbness. What did I do? People died because I gave into Max Lord, trusted him.

“Supergirl?” Hank tried to get Kara’s attention. She hadn’t moved from the chair despite his grasp on her arm. “Are you with me?”

“Yeah, sorry,” Kara stood up and let Hank lead her out of the room.

“Okay, we’re going to try something a little different this time,” Hank said knowing he had to get Kara to focus on something else. “I want you to put your right hand out and feel the wall. Good. Now walk forward on your own. I’ll be right beside you. When we get to the end of the wall stop.”

Hank walked next to Kara gently guiding her with voice commands, making her focus on the present. When they arrived Hank noticed an unusual number of agents taking a break. Guess Lucy called ahead for reinforcements.

After a lunch, a double serving of pot stickers for Kara and a chicken salad sandwich for Hank, he guided her to medical where Dr. Hamilton was waiting.

“Good afternoon, Supergirl, you’re looking much better. Let me do a few quick exams and then we’ll let you lay under some sun lamps for a bit okay?” Dr. Hamilton proceeded with checking Kara’s ears and eyes making sure to explain as she did so. “Now lie down and we’ll let you rest for a few minutes under the sun lamps. These are a little more concentrated then the sun bed.”

Kara settled onto the metal gurney. Maybe all I need is a little sunlight to help my eyes and ear. Ow. The burning is getting worse. Aarrrgh – it hurts. Make it stop!

With a cry of pain, Kara rolled off of the gurney and onto the floor where she curled into a ball. The sun lamps continued to beat down on her.

“PLEASE! HELP! I’m burning! Make it stop! Please! Please! Please!”

Dr. Hamilton was at a loss. What’s she talking about? What’s burning? She noticed, careful to stand out of Supergirl’s reach, the skin on her face was several shades darker than it had been when she first arrived. “Is it your face? What’s burning?”

Kara dimly heard voices. The pain was intense and getting worse. She rolled on the floor until she was huddled on her elbows and knees, face tucked into her burning chest. The burning lessened slightly. Enough for coherent thought to creep in. I’m never moving again. Rao, why does it hurt so much?

Dr. Hamilton continued ask questions trying to illicit an answer from the whimpering figure on the floor. Damn it! What am I missing? Did I do something while checking her eyes? She stopped moving around now that her eyes are hidden. Are her eyes burning? Come on, Supergirl! Give me some answers!

“Turn those fucking lights off!” Alex Danvers ordered as she entered the room and went to Kara. She spoke in short sentences as she tried to shield her trembling sister while catching her breath. “You’re burning her. Max put something in that bomb. The kinetic energy bonded it to some of her skin cells. It reacts to sunlight. Burns her skin.”

Dr. Hamilton hastily turned off the sun lamps, “Why wasn’t I informed?”

“That was my fault,” a breathless Eliza Danvers said as she entered the room. She prided herself on keeping fit but was no match for her sprinting daughter. “We were told Supergirl was debriefing. We just found out about the connection to sunlight and her skin a couple of hours ago. We were trying to figure out how to neutralize the substance. I didn’t realize she’d be brought here so soon.”

Eliza moved closer to Kara until Alex held up her hand in warning, “Stay there, mom. She can’t see. I don’t want her to accidentally hit you. We have to wait until the pain recedes, until she can talk to us.”

“Alex?”

“Yeah, Supergirl, it’s me. We’ve turned off the sun lamps. You can uncurl if you want to.”

“Is - is that what causes the burning?”

“Yes. There was something in the bomb. It bonded with your skin. It burns when exposed to sunlight.”

“But you can fix it, right?”

“Not … not right now. Mom and I are working on it. Can I come over and touch you?”

“Depends,” Kara said. “Do you have a sun lamp with you?”

“Well I guess I’m safe, from everything but your bad jokes, I mean,” Alex kidded her sister. “I’m going to touch your back – let me know if it hurts.”

“My back doesn’t hurt at all. My front where I was curling around the bomb when it exploded … it feels like it’s on fire. Like … what happens to a marshmallow held over flame too long,” Kara gritted her teeth.

“Well, then, that explains the discoloration,” Dr. Hamilton surmised. “It delineates the infected skin.”

“The discoloration?” Kara asked from her huddled position.

“Your skin is several shades darker where it’s infected. Which is good news for us actually,” Alex said. “I’d like to take a sample from your leg. To see how deep the infection penetrated.”

“You know, Alex, usually I’m game for your science experiments but … not right now, okay?” Kara carefully lifted her head out of its tucked position. “Give me a few hours?”

“Yeah. Sorry. Let me know when you are ready, okay?”

“Okay. Right now I think I’ll just stay like this, yep, just me and the floor.” Kara bit back another whimper. Damn this hurts!

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

“Continuing the debriefing of Supergirl at 1540 hours due to a medical emergency during recess,” Hank said after he, Kara and Lucy were all seated back in the interview room. Kara looked visibly worn out. The tightness around the sides of her mouth and eyes attested to her pain. “You may continue with the debriefing, Major Lane.”

Lucy questioned Kara for several hours. It was apparent to everyone in the room there was a definite difference in the tasks Max Lord had Supergirl perform, his expectations, and the lethalness of the incidents after the first death. Supergirl attributed it to the death of the truck driver. Lucy knew there was another reason.

“No.” Kara said answering another question. “I wasn’t allowed to do anything I wasn’t told to do. It was really difficult at first, the voice was always telling me to do something. I had to really concentrate on only the voice. Everything else was secondary. I was so tired all of the time after a while I was happy to let the voice tell me what to do. It was easier than taking responsibility for my actions. I sort of forgot about everything else, my friends, family. The voice was my only friend – my companion – always guiding me to make Max Lord happy. By that time, I only wanted to make him happy. Nothing else mattered.”

Lucy picked up on the odd tone of Kara’s voice, “Why, exactly, did you want to make him happy?”

“Why did I what?”

“Why did you want to make Maxwell Lord happy?”

“Oh. Yes. If he was happy then Carter Grant was okay,” Kara’s voice sounded normal again.

“Of course,” Lucy made a note to discuss the answer with Hank later. “What caused you to ‘become self-aware’ for lack of a better term?”

“I heard the voice of a friend, James Olsen, talking to me. Asking me questions while I was rescuing some people from a burning building – the one on Westover Street you were asking me about earlier. I guess by that time I was so used to doing exactly what the voice told me to do I didn’t need to concentrate so hard.” Kara swallowed and continued, her voice a little raspy, “The next time I heard his voice he told me I would be freed soon – on a Saturday morning. Then …then you told me I was free. Carter was fine. I almost forgot about the bomb.”

“But you didn’t,” Lucy cut in. “You found the bomb and sacrificed yourself to keep everyone safe.”

Kara didn’t say anything. Lucy hadn’t asked her a question. The silence stretched on for several long seconds.

“Director Henshaw,” Lucy said as she checked through her notes, “I haven’t any other questions. Anything else you would like to ask sir?”

“Yes,” Hank replied. “One thing puzzles me, Supergirl. When you first regained consciousness here at the DEO you went, well, a little wild. You stopped when one particular person ordered you to stop. As a matter of fact, you did everything commanded yet you refused to listen to anyone else, myself included. Could you hear us?”

Kara put her head down and rubbed her temples with both hands. “I sort of could hear people – voices. Everything was fuzzy, my head hurt, my skin burned, and I didn’t realize,” Kara took a deep breath and continued, “I didn’t realize why it was so dark … that I was blind. Nothing seemed real but that voice. I remembered it from before and I was used to following its orders. I guess I was hoping it was real and I wasn’t going to wake up still under Max’s control. It wasn’t until after I actually took a bite of the pizza that I actually believed I was free. I was used to having things … unpleasant under Max Lord. He never would have let me eat pizza.”

“So that’s why you didn’t say anything about the pain you were in? Because you thought you were still under Max Lord’s control?” Hank asked. “That’s the reason you wouldn’t move?”

“Yes. Max Lord was … very demanding in his expectations. I learned a lot about self-control. Carter Grant’s health and safety were at stake. Until I was sure I was free, I didn’t want to take the chance and give him another reason to hurt Carter.”

“Any other questions, Major Lane?” Hank had enough.

“No, sir.”

“Anything else to add, Supergirl?”

“No, sir.”

“Official debrief of Supergirl ended 1747 hours.”

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

“I can’t believe it! Why in the world would anyone believe that garbage much less put it out over the airwaves?” James was beyond furious as he watched a local news crew interview Maxwell Lord’s lead attorney.

“Come now, James,” Cat scoffed, “You don’t actually think Maxwell Lord would take responsibility for any of this do you?”

The two stood looking at the monitors in Cat’s office. Max’s attorney made sure his press conference was in time for the six o’clock news.

“But to say it was Supergirl’s idea? That she caused all of the disasters to make herself look more heroic and Max didn’t know? Then intentionally let people die or get injured so it would look more realistic?”

“Max did set her up at that press conference,” Cat noted. “Her speech, allowing him to collar and leash her. It all can be construed as a cold calculated ploy by Supergirl to ‘win back the people.’ I’m sure most of Max’s people will line up behind him – at least that’s what he’s counting on.”

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

Winn guarded against being this angry since he was twelve years old. Since his father let his anger take over and kill six people. Watching the newscast of Max’s attorney blaming everything on Supergirl brought out the darkness, the anger.

Vasquez jumped as Winn’s fist hit the console next to her, “Can you, can you believe that guy? It’s her fault? He does all of this – people died – and he thinks he’s going to blame it on Supergirl and skate free?”

“Hey, Winn, chill out,” she didn’t like the look in his eye. “Major Lane’s on the case. If anyone can put that bastard away, it’s her. And, if she doesn’t, I bet there will still be a long line waiting to ‘have a few words with him’ if you know what I mean.”

“He doesn’t deserve to live,” Winn snarled. “That asshole doesn’t deserve a fair trial. He didn’t give any of the people he hurt a fair –”

“Calm down, Major Lane has it under control. We need to focus on retrieving as much data as possible from Max’s computers. Alex thinks he may have the antidote to Supergirl’s, um, skin problem on one of the hard drives. Let’s be part of the solution, okay?”

“Yeah, got it,” Winn slowly exhaled. She’s right. Have to help Kara now, concentrate on finding a cure, then give Max Lord the attention he craves.

Susan smiled at him to hid her unease then went back to her work. I’m gonna have a talk with Director Henshaw, something’s off. This isn’t the Winn I’m used to working with.

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

“You were out a long time after the blast,” Hank commented as he assisted Kara out of the room. “We didn’t know the extent of your injuries. Dr. Hamilton had you placed in the sun bed. She thought it was the best thing we could do for you.”

“I understand. Up until this afternoon, when I was under those sun lamps, I would have agreed. I never want to do that again.” Kara shuddered then asked, “You are taking me to Alex’s lab, right?”

“Would you mind if we took a detour to my office?” Hank phrased the order as a request.

Kara sighed, she needed to talk to Alex. “Lead on, Director Henshaw.”

After Kara was seated in his office, Hank quietly told her about the anti-alien movement gaining strength; How he was effectively handicapped by the senate committee and how even supporters thought Max’s control over her was a good idea.

Kara sat in disbelief. Everything I’ve done means nothing?  “Director Henshaw, Hank, I’m …. I’m real tired. Can we skip Alex’s lab? I’m –”

A knock on the door interrupted Kara.

“Enter.” Hank was annoyed by the disruption.

Lucy Lane entered the office. A grim look on her face.

“Supergirl. I’ve been ordered by the prosecutor’s office to place you under house arrest on conspiracy charges.”

Chapter Text

“Alex, it’s for her own protection! I talked with Prosecutor Butler at length. There is no factual basis for any charges. This way no one can get to her. She’s safe here at the DEO until she’s better,” Lucy explained as Alex glared.

“If she gets better. I still can’t get a handle on this … this plasma stuff Max put into the bomb. No one can find any mention of it so far in any of Max’s notes,” Alex was frustrated. “As for charging her with a crime? Really? You lawyers practically fell over each other trying to explain why Max could treat my sister like a dog – actually worse that a dog – and not be held accountable but it’s now okay to criminally charge her as though she’s a human being with rights? Perfect.”

“Actually, Alex, it is. Think about it. Supergirl can’t disappear, secretly whisked away to Cadmus if she’s expected to face a public trial – which she won’t,” Lucy quickly added. “We’re keeping her safe here, with us.”

“I don’t like it and I don’t agree with it,” Alex responded. “Did you ever think about how this could backfire? I mean, the media will crucify her like they did with the red kryptonite. She’ll never be trusted after this. This is going to kill Kara!”

“I admit, after the day she’s had, this wasn’t the news I wanted to give to her,” Lucy admitted then changed tacks. “I’m glad Hank was in the office. He, at least, was there for her.”

“And that’s supposed to mean … what? I’m working my ass off trying to find a cure for what Max did to Kara –”

“Right now your sister needs you. She’s dealt with the pain this long, she’s tough, she’ll manage. But, are you going to let her deal with everything else by herself too?”

“She has you and Hank, mom –”

She needs you! She’s asked Hank to take her to see you so many times he’s run out of excuses to give her. If you don’t go to see her, comfort her? Then you’ll have a valid reason to feel guilty. I also suggest you let her know the whole story, even the part where I had you locked up. She needs to know. I think she’d rather hear it from someone who loves her than bits and pieces from the guys around here. She still has super hearing in one ear – you know the rumor mill.

Alex blanched as the realization struck. Shit!

“That’s right,” Lucy continued. “She feels just as guilty putting you within reach of Max Lord. Some of the morons we work with have actually said you did sleep with Max Lord. I suggest you get your ass down to Hank’s office and set the record straight.”

Alex brushed passed Lucy and was halfway out the door before stopping, “Thanks Lucy.”

Lucy opened her mouth to reply then closed it as Alex was already running down the hallway. Alex is right about one thing – I don’t like releasing to the media that Supergirl is under house arrest for conspiracy. I think it’s a terrible move. It taints everything she’s done. I think Butler is bowing under some political pressure in her office. She scheduled the press conference in time for the 11 o’clock news. There’s still time. Wonder if Ms. Grant can think of something?

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

Catherine Grant understood politics. She was reasonably sure, after she hung up from speaking with the State’s Attorney General, Supergirl would not be used as campaign fodder for the anti-alien leaning local District Prosecutor who was making a bid for his fourth term this election. She was almost sure after she hung up from the Attorney General in Washington. Loretta was an old friend from her Metropolis beat reporter days. She was positive when there was no mention of Supergirl, sans the regurgitation of Max’s mouthpiece smearing her, on the 11 o’clock news.

Lucy called her shortly thereafter with her thanks and an update from the prosecutor’s office. Apparently Butler’s boss was ‘joking – using sarcasm’ when he spent thirty minutes ordering her to charge Supergirl with conspiracy. He then gave Butler carte blanche over the case to avoid any future ‘potential misunderstandings.’

Cat sighed as she leaned looked over the city from her balcony.

Damn, I’m tired. These last few days… Dear God, please let Kara regain her sight and hearing. What she went through to save Carter? I know she felt she didn’t have a choice but she did. She could have walked away unscathed by Max Lord, called his bluff – if it was a bluff. Knowing Max, especially in light of all the things he was willing to do to keep Supergirl under his control, he would have killed Carter in the most painful way possible. I owe her. We all owe her for protecting us against the monster. Against Max Lord. Let’s see, it’s midnight now – that means it’s three in the morning in Metropolis … I wonder if Perry White will answer the phone.

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

“Hello?” a very groggy James Olsen answered the phone. Two o’clock in the morning? This had better be good.

“Yeah, James?” Winn’s voice asked.

“Winn, what’s up buddy?”

“I’m worried.”

“Hey, I know. We’re all worried about Kara, man,” James sat up in bed and turned on the bedside lamp. “She’s tough and we have her back. We’ll –”

“No! Not Kara! Me! I’m afraid I might snap – afraid I did snap,” Winn voice caught. “I almost did something tonight –”

“Winn, where are you?” James was already out of bed and scrambling to put on his pants.

“Uh, 22467 Apple Blossom Lane.”

“Okay – that’s only five miles from me. Stay there. I’ll be there in less than ten minutes,” James grabbed a shirt. “No! Don’t hang up – stay on the phone with me until I get there, okay?”

“Sure.”

James was out of his apartment and racing down the stairs. Keep him talking, Jimmy, don’t let him hang up. “Why are you out this late on this side of town?”

“I’m down the street from a house … a house that one of the bastards that worked for Max Lord lives in.” Winn’s voice was devoid of emotion.

No! No! No! Hang on Winn – fuck the speed limit, it’s two in the morning – watch out for cops and drunks. “Winn – those guys are in jail right now. You know that, right?”

“Yeah.” Winn’s voice was still dead.

“Then why would you go there?” Come on traffic light – change!

“’Cause he has a family.”

SHIT!

“Kara’s like my family. Someone has to defend her. Get even for the stuff they did to her,” Winn continued in a monotone voice.

“NO!” James was pulling onto the street. “Kara would not want that! I’m here now – I see you. Hold on.”

James parked behind Winn’s car, rushed to Winn’s car, and yanked the door open. Several of the items in the passenger compartment gave him serious pause as he reached in and grabbed Winn’s shirt collar and pulled him out of the car.

“James –” Winn’s voice broke off as he started to sob. James pulled him into a bear hug.

“Glad you called me, man,” James comforted his friend. Held him tight and let him cry. “You did the right thing. I know this is hard - it’s hard on all of us. If the cops didn’t show up when they did, I would’ve given Max Lord more than a broken jaw and a busted nose. I know how you feel. Now … now we have to stay strong for Kara. She’s been hurt enough – imagine how she would feel if she found out you torched this asshole’s house while he was in prison. We can’t put that on her.”

“He’s got kids. A wife,” Winn broke away from James and rubbed at his face. “I was gonna make that bastard pay but I – I couldn’t. I failed Kara.”

James shook Winn by the shoulders.

“You did not fail her! Winn, look at me. By not hurting those people you helped Kara. You were strong for her and she needs you to continue to be strong for her, okay?”

“Yeah …yeah, I got it.” Winn was regaining his composure. He went to the passenger side of his car and opened the door. “Here, take this and … this.”

Winn handed James several electronic components. James eyed the proffered items before carefully taking them.

“What’s th-”

“It’s okay. Everything is nonfunctioning without them. I’ll take them back to the DEO tomorrow.”

“Yeah, about that – tell you what,” James said. “You’re spending the night at my place. We’ll work everything else out in the morning – okay?”

“Yeah,” Winn ducked his head. “James? Thanks for keeping me from doing something horrible - from turning into my … my father.”

James gave his patented ‘James Olsen’ smile.

“Winn, buddy, I didn’t stop you. You stopped yourself. All I’m doing is letting you crib on my couch until morning.”

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

It was quiet in Hank’s office. Kara sat in the chair where Hank had left her when he was called out of the office by another agent. She concentrated on breathing like Jeremiah Danvers taught her so many years ago; When her senses were overwhelmed as her body adapted to the yellow sun. She wasn’t sure exactly what day it was. She figured it didn’t matter. It wasn’t like she had anywhere to go. She was under house arrest according to Lucy. She didn’t have anything to do, either. Sure, Cat promised her a job, but there was no way in hell she would voluntarily submit to going out in sunlight. Nope. No way. Her skin still burned, still hurt, from this afternoon. I guess I could give Alex that skin sample now. Maybe see Eliza – someone said she was here helping Alex.

Kara concentrated on listening to the conversations going on outside the room attempting to hone in on Alex or Eliza’s voice. It was difficult – different – using one ear. She heard snatches of conversations. She stopped when she heard Max Lord’s name mentioned.

“…Maxwell Lord’s big bash. You saw the pictures of her clinging to his arm in the papers. Hell, she kissed him right on the carpet in front of every TV station in National City. Of course she slept with him,” a male voice Kara didn’t recognize said.

“Kissing him doesn’t mean she slept with him, jackass,” another male voice said. “I doubt anyone has ever got past second base with the ice queen. Danvers probably gets off by beating the piss out of every male she meets not sleeping with one.”

“Hah, you could be right,” the first voice said. “Still, I bet Lord rode her good and hard. He looks like the type who likes to tame the wild ones.”

“Like you would kno –”

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” an impatient male voice interrupted. “Are you guys going to finish mopping the mess floor today? I have food to prep.”

“Sure thing. Hey boss, what do you think about Agent Danvers sleeping with Maxwell Lord?” the first male voice asked.

“I try not to. Now get to work!”

Alex and Maxwell Lord? She slept with him? She obviously dated him if those jerks saw her kissing him on television. Is this why she doesn’t want to talk to me? She’s in love with Maxwell Lord? She can’t be – she has better taste than, oh no….no, no, no, no, no …. And he would do that too. That slimy bastard! He’d use me to get to her just like he used Carter to get to me. Son of a bitch! Oh, Alex, I’m so sorry! Rao, it must kill you to even look at me - be reminded of what that jerk had you do. That’s why Hank won’t let me talk to you – he’s protecting you! I have to find Eliza – tell her what happened. They’re on better terms now. Maybe she’ll be able to help her.

Kara got up off of the chair and felt her way to the office door.

The labs are over to the right; I’ll follow the wall like Hank told me to do. Nice and easy.

“Supergirl!” Agent Jackson’s voice came out of the darkness startling Kara.

“Ah, hello, is it Agent Jackson?”

“In the flesh,” Jackson responded inordinately pleased a blind Supergirl recognized his voice. “Where’re you going?”

“I … I was going to the labs to see if Dr. Eliza Danvers was working there. I heard she is assisting with some research.”

“Why don’t we check with communications first. They should know where she is,” Jackson suggested. “Do you want to wait here or do –”

“I can go with you if you just, take me by the arm, kinda guide me. If you don’t mind, I mean,” Kara finished. I’ll get better at this.

Jackson grabbed her right forearm and led her to command console where Agent Stevenson was seated.

“Hey, Supergirl,” Stevenson greeted Kara while nodding a greeting to Jackson. “I can’t tell you how relieved we all are here now that you’re back with us.”

“Thank you,” Kara responded. “Is there a way for you to find out the location of Dr. Eliza Danvers? I’ve heard she’s here and I’d like to speak with her if possible.”

“Alex’s mom? Sure. She’s in Alex’s lab – been squirreled in there most of the day. Hear she’s working on your, uh, skin problem,” Stevenson said. The DEO grapevine was notoriously fast.

“Okay. Thanks,” Kara stood still. Great. Now I don’t have a wall to use. I guess I’ll have to ask Agent Jackson to take me back to Hank’s office. I should be able to get to Alex’s lab from there.

“Supergirl?” Jackson felt stupid when he remembered why she didn’t immediately go to Danvers’ lab. “I’ll take you. If that’s okay with you.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” Kara said as she smiled.

Jackson grabbed her right forearm again and started walking out of the command center. Kara heard greetings from various agents who were in the vicinity and kept the smile plastered on her face.

“Hey Danvers!” Jackson called out as Alex practically ran into him. “I’m taking Supergirl to see your mom. She asked –”

“I’ve got it from here,” Alex cut in. “I’ll get her to the lab. Thanks.”

“Sure. Sure thing. Let me know if you need anything else, Supergirl,” Jackson said as he relinquished his hold on her forearm.

Kara turned to where she thought he was standing.

“Thanks again,” she said to a glass panel next to Jackson. “Alex?”

“Yeah, I’m here, Supergirl,” Alex sounded a little out of breath.

“I heard about …. about you and Maxwell Lord. I’m so sorry. He used me to get to you, didn’t he?” Kara’s voice turned angry. “Like he used Carter Grant to get to me, am I right?”

Not now, Supergirl,” Alex was trying not to look at all of the other agents pretending to be very busy.

“I heard some of the people talking. I understand why you didn’t want to talk with me. I was going to speak to Eliza – er, your mother. Maybe she can help you with –”

Kara felt a hand cup over her mouth. It smelled like Alex.

“I said, not right now, Supergirl,” Alex spoke in a low tone directly into Kara’s left ear. In a louder voice Alex said, “I’ll take you to see Dr. Danvers now.”

“Okay. Thank you,” Kara felt a tug on her arm and was surprised it was in a direction she was sure Jackson wasn’t leading her in. “Are you sure this is the way?”

Alex’s, “Really, Supergirl?” shut Kara up.

A short time later Kara heard a door close.

“Okay. Now we can talk,” Alex announced. “Sit down here.”

Kara let Alex lead her to a chair. She remained standing.

“Alex, I heard them talking… about you and Max Lord. You slept with him didn’t you? He used –”

“Kara stop!”

“I’m so sor-”

“I said stop! You need to listen. I never slept with Max Lord. Yes, he tried to get me to sleep with him. Said he would let me talk to you if I did. I didn’t.” Alex took a deep breath and forged ahead, “Because I didn’t he decided to torture you. I heard a confession by one of Lord’s men. Apparently Max’s ego was so bent out of shape after I walked out on his proposition he decided the best way to get my attention was to hurt you. I’m the reason your blind, why your skin can’t touch the sun. Oh, Kara, I’m so sorry.”

“You didn’t sleep with him, really? That’s great! It’s the best thing I’ve heard today!” Kara smiled her thousand megawatt super happy smile in Alex’s general direction.

“Kara, didn’t you hear me? I’m the reason Max Lord did this to you – he was trying to get to me by hurting you,” Alex re-explained.

“Alex,” Kara used her ‘listen to me, big sister, voice’, “Max Lord did this to me. You are not the reason he did it. He did it because there’s something wrong about him. I just finished a debriefing with Lucy and Hank. When I was working under Max’s control I wasn’t given too much opportunity to think. It was go, go, go all of the time. I knew it was much busier: more fires, disasters, crimes. I didn’t know he set a lot of that stuff up. Alex – people died and he still didn’t stop. It got even worse after the first person died. None of this is your fault. Max Lord started going bad a long time ago – remember the guy with the bomb? I think he used you as an excuse to do bad things.”

Kara heard Alex sniffle and carefully reached up until her hand felt Alex’s face. Gently she felt her sister’s face until she was able to wipe away the tears. She slid her hand behind Alex’s head and slowly brought it into her shoulder then wrapped her other arm around her sister. Alex returned the embrace. Kara tightened her hold on her sister.

“Now Mister Maxwell Lord had better watch out. The Danvers sisters are together again!”

Chapter Text

“Oooowwww! Really! Isn’t that deep enough?” Kara struggled to remain still as Alex removed some of the infected skin. It felt as though Alex was actually taking a pound of her flesh.

Alex exchanged glances with Eliza who hastily checked the slide Alex handed her. Eliza shook her head. Alex’s face looked grim as she prepared to take a deeper sample of Kara’s tissue.

“Just a little more, Kara. Seems this went deeper than we thought,” Alex prepped her sister trying to inject some false cheer into her voice. “It can’t have gone much deeper. We’re in the muscle tissue now.”

“Yeah – I know,” Kara ground out.

“Stop, Alex,” Eliza ordered. “I think we’re actually spreading the contaminated cells deeper into Kara.”

“How? I’m using sterilized instruments and have retracted the skin back to avoid contamination.” Alex said. “I don’t see how it’s possible.

“This Maxwell Lord is a sadistic piece of work,” Eliza wasn’t telling Alex or Kara anything new. “Stop cutting. Remove the synthetic Kryptonite from the area. Hopefully that’ll seal the wound without further contamination.”

Alex followed her mother’s instructions. The wound healed much to Alex’s relief.

“Kara, sweetie, you’re not going to like this next part. We have to do it,” Eliza said as she brushed some strands of Kara’s hair away from her face.

“What … what do we have to do?” Kara cleared her throat. “I wasn’t really liking that first part.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I need to test this theory before we do anything else. We’re going to place the area we took the sample from under a sun lamp. We’ll also place a part of your other leg under a sun lamp as a control. You need to tell us if the burning is deeper where the cut is – was. How it compares to the other leg.”

“We’ll have to shield the rest of her body from the light. Clothing doesn’t seem to work,” Alex said.

“Nope. Clothing doesn’t work,” Kara agreed. If Eliza was right, this was really going to hurt.

“We’ll encase most of you to block the light,” Eliza tried to reassure Kara. “We should only need a small strip on your right leg as well as the biopsied strip on your left leg. I promise you, we’ll use only the smallest section we can, okay?”

“Yep.”

“Can you get the necessary shielding?” Eliza asked Alex.

“Already on it, mom,” Alex said as she scanned through a listing of materials needed. “I should have something cobbled together in a couple of hours.”

“Hey, no cobbling,” Kara objected. “Take your time.”

Alex smiled at her sister’s words. Damn I’ve missed her.

“Yeah, you’re absolutely right. No cobbling,” Alex agreed. “Mom? Why don’t you and Kara go down to the mess and grab something to eat. I’ll get some people working on this then meet you there.”

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

It was two in the morning when Cat finished her call to Perry White. She was exhausted, bone dead tired. The past week was a whirlwind of activity and an emotional roller coaster. She rubbed her eyes. A thousand blessings on you, Perry. I never even thought of Lois writing the articles. What a stroke of genius! You’re a true master, Perry. Hah! Everyone knows she and I can’t be in the same room without the claws coming out. No one would accuse her of trying to curry favor with me. Anything she writes will be viewed as an impartial statement of the facts – not favoritism from a fellow journalist or someone looking for a job. Best of all, as much as I will never admit it to her face, the woman is a helluva writer!

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

“Alex, honey, it’s three in the morning. Don’t have any coffee,” Eliza chided as Alex, coffee in hand, joined her and Kara at the table in the mess hall. “I think we should all get some sleep. At least try to get back on a regular sleep cycle.”

“I thought you wanted to test your theory as soon as –”

“My theory can wait. Both you girls, and I, need some rest. It’s been a long day. If I’m right, we still won’t have a cure. It can wait until morning,” Eliza shot Alex a meaningful look.

Alex opened her mouth to protest then checked herself when she realized what her mother was implying. If Eliza’s theory was correct, the intense pain would keep Kara from sleeping for at least a few hours after the test.

“Uh, what day is it?” Kara asked as she finished the last bite of what was a large submarine sandwich. “Actually, what’s the date? I sorta lost track.”

“It’s –”, Alex started.

“Who else is in here?” Kara demanded uncharacteristically breaking into her sister’s answer.

“Just us and a couple of the maintenance workers, you know cleaning crew guys probably getting ready for the morning rush,” Alex said.

“The one with the lower voice, talking right now, what’s his name?” Kara asked.

“Pete Baumann. Why?”

“Just wanted to know. I thought his voice sounded familiar,” Kara said happy that the guy wasn’t an agent that Alex actually worked with. He’s probably jealous of her so he says mean things like she’s sleeping with Max Lord.

“I’ve talked to Director Henshaw. He’s agreed to have some bunk beds brought into one of the smaller storage areas near medical so we can use them as sleeping quarters. If that’s okay with you, mom,” Alex quickly added.

“Wonderful idea, Alex,” Eliza agreed. “Is that okay with you, Ka… Supergirl?”

Kara grinned, “That’ll be great. TOP BUNK!”

“Wait, that’s not fair,” Alex protested.

“I said it first!” Kara laughed. “Don’t be a sore loser.”

“Mom –”

“Girls! Calm down,” Eliza smiled fondly at her daughters. They’re acting like kids again. “Alex let your si … Supergirl have the top bunk. If she falls off she won’t hurt herself.”

“Fine,” Alex said in a fake pouting voice as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Hey, you know what they say,” Kara cheerfully added. “You snooze, you lose!”

“Okay, that was so lame – even for you. Now I know you’re sleep deprived,” Alex groaned as she stood up. “Come on Supergirl. Time for bed.”

Alex took Kara’s left arm and, with Eliza in tow, led her from the mess hall. She was surprised when Kara stopped as they exited the room.

“Oh, yeah – did you hear that? Pete Baumann said to his companion. “They’re going to sleep together. Hah! Maybe you’re right and Danvers didn’t sleep with Max Lord – she seems to have a thing for Supergirl and the older blond. Doesn’t surprise me at all. You heard Supergirl call top bunk. Guess that’s code for she gets the top.”

“You really are a jackass, Pete! I know it’s difficult but try using the head that is not in your pants,” Lenhard said. “The blond is Danvers’ mother. She’s some kind of hot shot scientist Henshaw called in to help Supergirl.”

“Well, yeah, I heard that,” Baumann mumbled. “I was just saying …”

“Save it for someone who has half a brain like you, dipshit,” Lenhard responded. “I ain’t messing with Supergirl. No way. She helped get my little girl’s pet snake out of a tree. Shit, the damn fire department dudes didn’t want to touch the thing. Nah, you leave Supergirl the hell alone. She’s the best thing that ever happened to National City.

Kara smiled at the last remark and allowed Alex to continue leading her to their new quarters.

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

Perry White decided to buy a lottery ticket on the way home from work. He couldn’t remember the last time Lois Lane had actually welcomed a story assignment from him.

 

“What’s up, chief?” Lois said as she entered his office with the air of someone who clearly had better things to do.

"Shut the door, Lois, and have a seat. I’m pulling you off your investigation of corruption in the mayor’s office. Now don’t start – this is something bigger. We’re talking national impact bigger. This whole thing with Maxwell Lord and the anti-alien coalition – it could decide the presidency. I talked with Cat Grant at length last night. Don’t make that face – this is Pulitzer Prize material. She can’t touch the story because it involves her son, Carter. Apparently Max Lord blackmailed Supergirl into that press conference and then basically enslaved her by placing some kind of device in Carter. She faxed me over the child’s medical records and is sending me, by special courier, some video footage when Carter was ill. She was at his bedside. She thought he was going to die. Because, and only because, Supergirl cooperated with Max Lord, Carter lived. I don’t know if you caught the news but Lord’s lawyer is claiming all the misfortunes National City’s faced since were all Supergirl’s doing. Apparently to make herself look heroic. We all know it’s hogwash but the other media outlets are giving it air time. Since the prosecutor’s office hasn’t refuted his statement, the jackass prosecutor is running for reelection and is a member of the anti-alien coalition, those lazy wire service mucks are reporting it as probable truth. I want you to disclose and report the truth – everything. Cat’s promised to cooperate even though she was less than thrilled when I demanded you do the piece. Your name’s on the byline, of course. I want you to start immediately.”

Lois’, “I’ll get right on it. Where’s the medical records?” surprised him. He thought he’d have to fight her tooth and nail especially because Cat Grant requested the help. He saw her talk briefly with Clark after she left his office. Whatever she said to him brightened him considerably.

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

Lucy spent most of the morning downtown National City reviewing Supergirl’s deposition with Prosecutor Butler. Initially they were to meet at the District Attorney’s offices but Lucy requested a different venue. Cat Grant was more than happy to host the meeting even if it was on short notice. It was an easy way of keeping her in the loop as well as ensuring their meeting wasn’t secretly monitored by Butler’s boss. Lucy also felt it would help Butler to get to know the people who were hurt, affected, by Max’s scheme. She wasn’t disappointed. By the end of the meeting both Cat and Butler were seething after learning the details of Supergirl’s treatment.

“Ms. Grant, it was a pleasure to meet you in person,” Dawn Butler said as the meeting wound down. “Please know I will do everything in my power to put Maxwell Lord in prison for the rest of his natural life.”

“One thing that bothers me, Ms. Butler,” Cat began. “Are you ever planning a press conference regarding the statement made by Max’s attorney placing the blame squarely on Supergirl? I know the press. If you don’t say anything they’ll see that as a tacit agreement of facts. I realize nothing Max did to Supergirl is punishable because she basically doesn’t have recognized rights but she doesn’t deserve to have her reputation dragged through the mud by that sick bastard.”

“I believe my boss may now be amenable to a press conference. Thanks, by the way, for whatever or whomever you called. He was really serious about charging Supergirl which I thought was rather hilarious. I mean, we can’t charge Max Lord with crimes related to anything he did to her but we can charge her with crimes? I hate politics! Anyway, getting back to your question: I believe a press conference is in order for later this afternoon?” Butler asked looking at Lucy.

“Yeah, later this afternoon is good. I’ll let Director Henshaw know,” Lucy agreed.

“Ms. Grant, one item regarding the press conference. Please understand that I will not take questions from anyone involved with Catco. It would be –”

“It would be a conflict of interest. I know. I was actually going to instruct my people to get good seats and shoot good video. Believe me, I will not compromise the integrity of your case involving my son,” Cat chastised. What? Does this woman think I’m stupid?

Dawn Butler took the reprimand and forged ahead, “Great. Sometimes families don’t understand the process. I’m glad to see you do. Good day, Ms. Grant.”

Lucy and Butler exited the office.

“You worked for her?”

“Yeah. Briefly. She’s a good boss. Don’t ever believe anything to the contrary. She expects the best from her people and you know what? They rise to the occasion. You don’t think she could have built Catco with substandard employees. The people that work for her? They want to make a difference. It’s not just a job to them,” Lucy surprised herself a little with her vehement defense of her former employer.

“So why don’t you still work there?”

“Reasons that had nothing to do with Cat Grant,” Lucy said then changed the subject, “Noonan’s for lunch?”

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

“Okay. We’ve got everything in place,” Alex looked down at an almost mummified Kara. The only skin showing were identical strips on each thigh. “Don’t move. We’re going to start right …now.”

Eliza activated the sun lamp as Alex stared at a computer screen. A range of test readings were displayed. Eliza kept a close eye on Kara; ready to turn off the lamp at the first sign of discomfort.

“NOW! PLEASE! Turnitoff! Turnitoff! Turnitoff!” Kara begged as she fought to stay still.

Eliza immediately turned off the sun lamp. She and Alex then peeled off Kara’s covering.

“It’s okay, sweetie, we’re done,” Eliza soothed her. “Do you want to sit up?”

“Just…just give me a minute.”

“Mom?” Alex caught her mother’s eye then glanced down at Kara’s left thigh. The area where Alex removed the flesh was considerably darker than the exposed strip on her right thigh. Alex took several photographs of the discoloration as well as other measurements.

“Kara? Can you tell the difference –”

“Yes,” Kara sucked in a breath and held it.

“Mom, look at these readings. How did you know?”

“I didn’t know - I theorized. If I knew do you think I would have hurt her?” Eliza snapped back. She dropped her head for a moment and rubbed her watery eyes. “I’m sorry,” she took a deep breath, “to both of you girls. I…I remembered what you said, Alex, about that man wanting you to watch your sister suffer. The infected cells traveled into the wound and expanded. My guess is he wanted to ensure that surgical removal of the skin wouldn’t work.”

“Can we go with your guess, please?” Kara’s voice was still breathy with pain. “I’m not up for anymore experiments right now.”

“No – no more experiments, Kara,” Alex assured as she rubbed her sister’s arm. She glanced up at Eliza for confirmation and saw her grim expression. She dreaded to ask, “What is it, mom?”

“We won’t do it unless the Lord’s data bases are thoroughly checked first. I promise you, Kara,” Eliza hated Maxwell Lord with every fiber of her being. “I think I know the only way he planned to cure you … so Alex and the world could see. I think …”

“Mom?”

“I think the only way to remove the infected cells is to expose them to sunlight. Have them burn away,” Eliza finished. “He was going to expose Supergirl to the sun until the infected cells burned out.”

“You mean leave her out in the sun?” Alex was horrified. “You think that was his plan? But … it doesn’t make any sense. There’s no way Supergirl could perform her duties while that happened. I mean, it would take days. We had her in a sun bed for fourteen hours or so when she was first brought in. It didn’t seem to do anything. That’s crazy, just crazy.”

“It makes perfect sense, Alex,” the pain in Kara’s voice had little to do with her legs. “I mean, he’s wealthy, smart, considers himself the savior of the human race. Why not slow roast an alien for kicks? Maybe he was planning on doing it all along. You know, as part of his tests.”

Alex bent down and hugged her sister. Hatred for Max Lord blooming all over again. She heard the self-doubt and fear behind Kara’s seemingly cavalier statement. Max had her for a long time. He played head games with her, hammering away at her self-confidence, her very right to exist as anything but an unquestioning drone programmed to do his bidding.

“No one’s roasting you. Not now, not ever. We’re going to figure this thing out. Come on, Kara, think – it doesn’t make sense he wouldn’t have some kind of antidote. I mean, Max craves power and what’s more powerful than having Supergirl at your beck and call? No, there’s an antidote. You know me and mom, we won’t rest until we find it.”

Eliza Danvers watched her two daughters. The likelihood of Max Lord leaving the antidote in any of his data bases was extremely small. She was convinced there was only one place Max trusted with the antidote. I’ll have to ask Major Lane. See if they’ll let me talk to Lord. He has to realize he lost. What could he possibly gain by hurting Supergirl further?

Chapter Text

“You hit it out of the park!” Lucy congratulated Prosecutor Dawn Butler after the news conference. “Even Cat Grant looked impressed. That’s not an easy accomplishment.”

“Thanks,” Butler grinned. “I appreciate all the hard work you put in too. The notes you prepared really helped when those reporters were asking their questions. Did you ask your sister to come to the press conference? I was surprised to see her.”

“Not as surprised as I was. I didn’t know she was even in town.” Lucy quickly added, “Before you ask, no, I haven’t talked about the case to her at all. I don’t intend to either. She doesn’t know my involvement in the case and I’m not going to enlighten her. She’s like a dog with a bone when she’s working a story. I’m more than willing to let you handle her.”

“Well, I must say, she did ask most of the intelligent questions from the press corp. I don’t know if Cat Grant is too thrilled with your sister covering the case. Everyone knows those two have no love lost for each other.”

Lucy shook her head and smiled, “My sister’s very good at what she does, even Cat Grant knows that. I’m happy The Daily Planet sent out their best reporter. Sets the tone for the other media agencies as to the importance of what you had to say.”

“That’s a good point. Listen, I have to get back to the office,” a pleased Dawn Butler said gathering her notes. “I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

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

“It’s been almost a week. Your leg still hurts?” Alex asked as she led Kara back into the lab.

“Like you have a knife sticking in it. You didn’t accidentally leave anything like a scalpel in there did you?” Kara asked only half joking.

“No,” Alex sighed as she led Kara to a chair. “Mom?”

Eliza turned away from the computer screen she was studying and faced her daughters.

“Nothing in any of the notes. Your friend Winn and his partner, Agent Vasquez, have literally been working around the clock for days specifically looking for anything related to the bomb and its contents. They’ve sent me anything they believe is remotely tied to the bomb,” Eliza rubbed at her eyes. “I’m sorry, Kara. Max must have been working on this a long time. It’ll take us a while to figure out how to cure it.”

“He probably developed it before Non initiated Myriad. He was looking for ways to combat Non’s army.” Kara was rubbing her left thigh.

“Your leg still bothering you?” Eliza asked.

“Yeah. It hasn’t stopped. It still feels as bad as it did last week. I don’t understand why. My other leg feels much better.”

“I was hoping I was wrong,” Eliza began. “This fits right in with my theory.”

“What do you mean, Mom?” Alex asked then gasped as the realization dawned on her. “She won’t heal unless we open up the area we cut and leave it exposed for light to burn away the infected cells.”

“Kara? Does your skin still feel different?” Eliza asked already knowing the answer.

“You mean the places where you said my skin was darker? That would be a yes. It always burns but not anything like my leg.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t realize the ramifications of the biopsy before we started, Kara,” Eliza apologized again. “I’m afraid Alex is right. The infected cells in your leg will continue to cause you pain unless we expose them to the air and light. Unfortunately, we can’t do that.”

“Sure you can. I’ll sit here nice and quiet and let Alex do her thing,” Kara injected false cheer into her voice. “I mean, it’ll hurt but at least it will get better, right?”

Alex ran her hand through her hair, “I can’t do it, Kara. I can’t cut you open like that again. Don’t you understand? Unless I make the cut precisely where I did before, including depth, all I’ll be doing is spreading infected cells even further into your leg. There’s no way I can do that. If I’m a millimeter off I spread the infection further.”

“Oh,” Kara wasn’t happy. “Okay, guess I’ll be called gimpy for a while until you guys figure out some kind of antidote. On the plus side, I think I can hear stuff from my right ear a little.”

“Really? Kara that’s great! When did you first notice?” Alex grabbed her sister by the shoulders. “I’ll call Dr. Hamilton. See if she can run some tests.”

“Hey, hey, hey. Slow down,” Kara grinned. “I said I think I can hear a little out of that ear. Not anywhere as good as the left ear.”

“Yes, well, you couldn’t hear anything out of it before. Maybe your Kryptonian body is slowly healing itself.” Alex said.

“Maybe,” Kara agreed. “Do you think … do you think my eyes will get better too?”

“We’ll have to wait and see on that, sweetie,” Eliza interjected shaking her head at Alex.

“It’s different, isn’t it? My ear, that side of my face doesn’t burn but my eyes do. My eyes were infected, weren’t they? Kara asked.

“Yes. Your eyes are definitely within the discolored area so chances are you had them open when the bomb went off. Once we figure out how to rid you of the infected cells your eyesight may return,” Eliza tried to end on a positive note. She gently stroked Kara’s face, “Trust me. There is an antidote and we will figure it out. I promise you that.”

“Thanks. I know you’re working hard. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine, really,” Kara looked in Eliza’s general direction.

“Let’s get you down to medical and have Dr. Hamilton take a look,” Alex suggested grasping Kara’s arm. She was surprised Kara remained seated. “Kara?”

“Let me do it, Alex, you’ve been shuttling me around the DEO all week. I can figure out how to get there from here,” Kara insisted.

“Let her go, Alex,” Eliza advised.

Alex watched as Kara gracefully stood, walked over to the door, and slipped outside. She turned to her mother, “I’ll give her ten minutes then go find her.”

“Better check medical first – that’s where I’ll be!” Kara’s voice sassed back from down the hallway.

“Smart ass,” Alex replied smiling. She picked up the phone to give Dr. Hamilton a heads up.

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

“This is highly irregular, Dr. Danvers,” Prosecutor Butler said as she and Eliza walked down the administrative hallway of the National City Jail where Max Lord and his cohorts were lodged.

“It’s been two weeks and I’m still no closer to finding a cure. At least not one that involves roasting Supergirl. He has to see that it’s over. I mean, between all of the evidence you have and some of his employees taking plea bargains in return for lighter sentences, even he must realize he can’t win. The best he can do is help us help Supergirl … maybe the judge will lighten his sentence or something.”

“I seriously doubt that would happen,” Butler said. “Then again, his image has taken such a terrible beating in those articles Lane wrote that he may give you the answer just to generate some positive press for himself. Give Supergirl back to National City type of thing. It could work but, personally, I doubt he’ll do it.”

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

Eliza Danvers was not a woman who gave into violence. She was a scientist and believed in rational calm reasoning. She had no frame of reference for the man sitting in front of her. A man who was a genius, claimed he was a scientist, but perverted his knowledge, used violence, to achieve his goals. She studied his bruised face. His jaw was wired shut.

“You’ve no reason to continue this, Mr. Lord. There is no endgame left to win. The rational step is to cut your losses and redeem at least a little of your public image by giving National City back its hero,” Eliza reasoned as she had for the past hour.

“I tell you what, Dr. Danvers,” Max smirked then tapped his forehead with his forefinger. “I’ll give you the cure. It’s all up here. Providing you persuade the authorities to drop all charges and give me immunity. Surely having a superhero flying about saving the day is worth more than keeping me in jail.”

“You know that’s out of my hands, Mr. Lord, and I wouldn’t even if I could. There were a lot of innocent people who died and got hurt because of your … charade. You have to take responsibility for what you did,” Eliza was getting frustrated. “Even if you sincerely believed you were acting with the best intentions for National City – you hurt people and you are responsible for that. Don’t let that be your legacy.”

“Dr. Danvers, the only thing I am concerned about is my freedom. If I can’t have it, Supergirl can’t either,” Max snapped. Then added, “Well, there is a way, as I’m sure you found out. If my calculations were correct, it would only take forty-six sunny extremely painful days to burn off the infected cells. Or, maybe it was one hundred and forty-six. I can’t seem to remember right now.”

Eliza stood up. Her time was better spent researching a cure than trying to reason with this pathetic man.

“I’m sorry for taking up so much of your valuable time, Mr. Lord. I sincerely hope you reconsider,” Eliza turned and began walking out of the room.

“Hey! Tell your daughter she missed out on a good time! I would have fucked her brains out. Alex would have loved it!”

Eliza continued out of the room without looking back. He wasn’t worth the effort to turn around much less respond to. She vowed to figure out the cure on her own. I’ll figure this out, Maxwell Lord. My daughters beat you and so will I. You will learn not to mess with the Danvers women!

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

“Hey Winn,” Susan smiled as she walked over to where he was working. “Anything?”

“No,” he sounded discouraged. “This is the last of it, too. There’s nothing left to check. I guess he really does have it all in his brain. I mean, there’s nothing in the databases that even suggest making the bomb or what Lord put in it. You know … one thing we haven’t thought of?”

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

“I think this is the last of the treatments,” Dr. Hamilton said as she turned off the sun lamp at the right side of Kara’s head. She then carefully removed the protective layers shielding Kara’s skin from the lamp’s rays. “Are you ready for a test on that ear or would you like to come back later. It’s up to you.”

“Let’s get it over with now,” Kara said in an uncharacteristically petulant voice.

“Sure, let me set up some equipment. Give me five or ten minutes. Okay?” Supergirl’s attitude was not lost on Dr. Hamilton who noticed the deterioration day after day. She was going to talk to Director Henshaw about it. If Supergirl continued this downward spiral they may end up putting her in a cell for her own protection.

Kara sat on the examining table waiting for the Doctor to finish setting up the equipment. She should have prepared to do the tests as soon as the treatment was complete. Ms. Grant wouldn’t have stood for this incompetence. Rao, I miss my job … my real life. I miss breathing fresh air, smelling the salt from the ocean, the birds in the sky. I can’t believe he took it all away from me. Now all I can do is slog around like a worm. I’m just a worm, hah.

“Listen, I don’t have time for this,” Kara said abruptly. “We’ll do the damn tests another time. You know, when you’re actually prepared to run them.”

Kara hopped off the examining table, cocked her head slightly then unerringly limped to the door without waiting for a response from the doctor. Now, with the super hearing in her right ear returning, she was able to use both ears like sonar to detect the placement of walls, doors, and equipment. With the layout of the DEO firmly committed to memory, Kara was able to go wherever she wanted without waiting for someone to lead her. Most of the time she spent alone, in the room with Alura’s hologram. At first she told herself she was searching the database for a possible cure. Slowly she came to realize she was lying to herself. She was scared and wanted comfort. What if she was trapped down here forever? There was no way she would ever willingly go out in the sunlight anymore. Her thigh, where Alex cut, hurt as bad as it did weeks ago. It was a constant reminder how Max took her life from her. She listened to her mother’s voice sooth her as she talked of a Krypton long dead. On a whim Kara asked about a lullaby she remembered as a child. The hologram of Alura sang it to her with the same inflections her real mother used. Kara curled up into a ball and silently wept.

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

“Mom, have you seen Kara?” Alex asked as she rounded the corner into her lab. “Hank wants to see her.”

Eliza looked up briefly and Alex was startled to see how old and tired her mother looked. Twenty hour days, with little time spent on anything else but research, had taken their toll.

“I’m sorry, Alex. I haven’t seen her all day,” Eliza said as she went back to studying her notes.

“Mom? Mom! Come on. Let’s take a break. Enough for a while. The research will be there tomorrow. Take the day off and recuperate a bit. It can wait another day.”

“No. It’s not fair to her. He took enough away from her; I won’t let him take the sun from her as well. You go on. Check the hologram room. She’s spending a lot of time in there. I can’t blame her – she might as well get comfort from her real mother until I can find a cure,” Eliza picked up a pencil and crossed out a chemical formula she was working on.

“Mom? You know that’s not her real mother, right? It’s just a hologram. I don’t think it’s healthy Kara’s spending so much time in there. She just got out of one weird reality. She doesn’t need to slip into another one,” Alex said concerned for both Kara and her mother now.

“Let her be where she is happy. If I can’t figure this out –”

“Come on, mom,” Alex took her mother by the arm and dragged her up. “We are going to take a break. You are going to get at least eight hours of sleep then we are going to have a family meeting. Like we used to have at home – remember?”

“Yes, honey, I remember. That was a long time ago … before your father … left,” Eliza smiled at the memory of sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows during a family meeting. Jeremiah always called family meetings when he felt someone in the family needed cheering up or the comfort of loved ones. She missed him. Alex was right, it was time for a family meeting.

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

“There you go. I’ll let you know if it’s burning,” Alex said as she speared the marshmallow on Kara’s stick and brought the stick to rest above the flames.

Kara smiled listening to the crackle of the fire and smelling the desert night air. She wished she could see the stars but settled for imagining them in her head. The night, still as it seemed, was full of life and she soaked it in. She could hear various night animals in the distance. A slight breeze caressed her face and she took a deep breath and immediately started coughing as smoke from the fire shifted her way.

“Hey, no fair fanning the smoke in my direction!” Kara protested when she could talk again. She realized what that slight rustling sound was before she ate smoke. “Of course I could do it too and I wouldn’t need anything to help me do it either.”

Kara took a deep breath in and started to gently blow out aiming toward where she heard Alex last. She stopped when she heard her sister coughing.

“I think we’re even now,” Alex said between coughs. “Truce?”

“Truce,” Kara agreed smiling at where she thought her sister was.

Eliza sat back and watched as the two bantered back and forth about the merits of slightly toasted versus totally toasted marshmallows. This was Kara’s first Danvers style family meeting. They hadn’t had one once Kara arrived. Time passed so quickly, there were so many other things that needed attention, then Jeremiah was gone. After that, the ache in her heart, the loss, kept her at arms distance from any of Jeremiah’s endearing made up customs.

Several hours and four marshmallow bags later Alex doused the fire and Kara used her freeze breath to ensure no sparks were left.

“Thanks,” Kara said looking in the general direction of Eliza and Alex, “for sharing this with me. I …I sort of felt I didn’t belong again, like I was a burden no one needed.”

Eliza glanced at Alex and they both embraced Kara in a tight hug. They remained embracing, teary eyed, for a few minutes. Until Kara broke away.

“I guess I’ve got some fences to mend, inside,” Kara was thinking of her rude behavior toward Dr. Hamilton among others. “Give me a hand here with the door. Hank will kill me if I damage another one.”

“I don’t think he mentioned anything about killing you but he did say something about your paycheck being substantially lighter,” Alex said as she opened the door’s intricate lock and led Kara inside.

Eliza took one more look around the desert landscape then up at the stars before following her daughters into the shaft.

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

Cat turned off the computer after logging off the Skype link. Perry was right. The world needed to see Supergirl, hear from her, to help bolster Lois’ stories and sink Max’s credibility even further. The absence of the superhero led credence to Max’s claim Supergirl left National City because she was ashamed of her actions. Was afraid to face the people she hurt. The anti-alien faction was fanning his claims with everything they could muster.

A simple speech should do it. Explain where she’s been and why. I’ll have to clear everything through Butler first. Don’t want to compromise the court proceedings. Also can’t let on she’s crippled or National City will become a haven for thieves and criminals like Gotham is. I’ll call Lucy now and start things in motion. Perry’s crew will have to do the filming too. I guess Lois will win a Pulitzer Prize after all. She’s certainly taken the story and run with it. Almost like she has a personal stake in seeing Supergirl exonerated.

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

“I can’t believe it! How could I have missed this?” Eliza asked as she once again checked her notes against the copies of paper doodles confiscated from Max Lord’s secondary office.

Winn grinned, “You think they have something to do with Kara’s problem? Really?”

“You are a godsend, Winn Schott,” Eliza looked up from the papers. “This is exactly what I needed. What Kara needs. I should be able to backward engineer a cure from this without too much trouble.”

Winn was elated. He made an actual tangible contribution to help Kara - finally.

“Hey, what did science lady say?” Vasquez greeted him as he left the lab. “Were you right?”

“I think it’ll make the difference,” Winn was pumped up. “Actually Dr. Danvers believes she should be able to cure Supergirl with the papers we found.”

“You found. Looking through that stuff was totally your idea. I never would have done it,” Susan corrected. “You want to go tell Alex?”

“Nah, I’ll let her mom do it after she figures out the cure. I mean, she still has a lot of work to do yet,” Winn said then paused, “I would, however, like to treat you to a celebratory ice cream sundae in the mess.”

“A celebratory ice cream sundae? I think I could manage that,” Susan smiled as she and Winn walked toward the mess hall.

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

Eliza checked her calculations a third time.

This is going to work. I never would have thought of adding … wait. This can’t be right – no, thank goodness I rechecked it. That man is an absolute nightmare. This would have permanently damaged her … but…yes, if I switch these two around …

Eliza continued to work long into the night. She was still in the lab when Alex found her the next morning.

“Mom? Didn’t you go to bed? You have to stop doing this. I thought we agreed –”

“It’s done,” Eliza broke in looking happier than Alex had seen her in a long time. “I’m sure of it. Go ahead. Recheck my work. I’m going to get some sleep. Only …. don’t tell Kara yet. Not until I’m able to synthesize enough of the compound for a test trial.”

“That’s great! Kara’s going to be thrilled! I didn’t even know you were that close to a cure!” Alex hugged her mother hard.

“Ease up, okay? These old bones will break if you squeeze any harder,” Eliza joked clearly enjoying her daughter’s embrace. “I wasn’t that close until your friend Winn came by with some papers taken during the raid on Max’s business. They were sort of coded, made to look like he was doodling, when it really was the schematics and composition of the bomb. I guess he didn’t trust the security of his own computer system. Anyway, it’s done. I need some sleep. I really do want you to recheck my work … I’ve gone over it four or five times but a pair of fresh eyes would be good.”

“I’ll check it over, mom,” Alex assured as she continued to hug her mother, both women savoring the moment. “Come on, let’s get you to bed first. Then I’ll grab a coffee and come right back. Okay?”

The two walked arm and arm out of Alex’s lab. I can’t believe it! I did it! I’ve finally been able to help Kara. I didn’t let her down. She’s gone through so much, given so much, and now she can have her freedom.

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

“James, why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” Cat asked from behind her office desk. “I had to hear about it from one of our corporate lawyers during a board meeting. You do know he filed the lawsuit against you and Catco, right. Because his attorney contends you were working for us at the time of Max’s unfortunate ass beating. Nice job, by the way, I hear they had to wire his jaw shut.”

“Not something I’m proud of, Ms. Grant,” James said. “I wasn’t able to help Supergirl. She’s still messed up. Winn told me a couple weeks ago about the stuff in the bomb. I wish I’d known then.”

“Really? Is that why you’ve been moping around here for a month? You would have let those children die to save Supergirl? I don’t think so,” Cat’s arched an eyebrow. “You made the right decision and you know that. The consequences aren’t what you expected but you made the right choice. Now, Alex told me you haven’t even asked to see Supergirl. Not even one visit. I assume this is because of some misplaced guilt and not the ‘overwhelming workload’ excuse you gave her?”

“Yeah, I guess,” James ducked his head.

“Well, you know what you need to do after work.”

“I’ll get right on it.”

“Now about the lawsuit, have you hired an attorney yet?”

“There’s a guy my friend knows who –”

“Stop,” Cat interrupted. “This is a lawsuit involving Catco and your actions while working for Catco. We will provide you with a suitable attorney as well as take care of all legal expenses. I’m sure once the factual nature is exposed, the judge will throw the suit out. You were, after all, apprehending a dangerous felon.”

“Thank you, Ms. Grant,” James was relieved. At least he wouldn’t have to tackle this lawsuit alone.

“Yes, well, take these layouts back to your office and fix them if you really want to thank me,” Cat said already turning to another project.

James took the layouts from her desk and walked out of the office with a new resolve. It’s time I go see Kara.

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

“I don’t know how this is going to react with your skin. Pain wise, I mean, so we’re only going to use only a small portion of your arm to start with. Then we’ll expose that portion to the sunlamp, okay?” Eliza asked as she rubbed Kara’s arm. “I need you to tell me, honestly, what’s happening.”

“Let’s get started,” Kara’s enthusiastic voice replied. “This is so great!”

“Calm down and stop squirming,” Alex admonished though Kara could hear the smile in her voice. “You’re acting like a puppy out for its first walk. This is serious science here. No room for smiles and laughter.” Alex kidded her sister.

“Okay, we’re going to start with this little patch on your right forearm. Ready? I’m putting on the solution now. How does that feel?” Eliza asked.

“It feels like you put an ice cube there, really cold. How long before we test it under the sun lamp?”

“We’re going to do it right now. The reaction was supposed to be instantaneous. Are you ready?”

Kara nodded and bit her lip. Please, oh Rao, please let this work.

Eliza directed the lamp beam over to the unprotected part of Kara’s forearm.

“Well?”

“My arm’s warming up. Like normal, I mean. It doesn’t burn at all.”

“Look, mom, the discoloration is gone,” Alex exclaimed. “Her skin tone is the same as the uninfected skin.”

“Everything is looking great so far,” Eliza informed Kara. “We’re going to give it an hour or so, under the lamp. If there are no adverse effects, we’ll continue with the treatment.”

“This is so great! Thank you, Eliza, thank you,” Kara squirmed under the protective wrap.

Eliza, realizing what Kara wanted, reached under the wrap and held her hand.

Kara was going to be free.

Chapter Text

“We can’t do it. Not to your eyes. The chemicals in the compound will definitely ruin any chance of your eyesight coming back on its own,” Eliza advised. “You were told to completely encase the bomb with your body, right?”

Kara nodded, not trusting her voice to speak.

“I think Max wanted to make sure your face, your eyes, weren’t exposed,” Eliza surmised. “There was nothing in any of the lab notes indicating anything other than this compound.”

“Yeah,” Kara drew in a ragged breath then slowly blew it out again. “I guess he detonated the bomb too soon – maybe he couldn’t see well enough to know I was only partially wrapped around it.”

Eliza rubbed Kara’s arm then reached down and grasped her hand. They remained that way, Kara seated on the examining table while Eliza stood next to her, their hands intertwined for several minutes. Both women internalizing the ramifications of Eliza’s statements.

Kara visibly shook herself. You’re not out of options yet. Eliza worked very hard to find a cure for your skin. Be grateful you might be able to get some semblance of your life back. I wonder …

“Eliza? Thank you for everything,” Kara turned on the Sunny Danvers smile. “You worked so hard to help me and you did! You gave me a chance to live a normal life again. I think, in a way, you saved my life. Thank you.”

Kara gently pulled Eliza into an embrace.

“Hey guys,” Lucy entered the exam room with a smile on her face. “Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt anything.”

“No, no it’s okay,” Eliza said stepping away from Kara. “What can I do for you, Major Lane?”

“I heard the treatment was a success. I came down to offer my congratulations. Oh, and its Lucy, Dr. Danvers,” Lucy looked from Eliza to Kara. Somethings not right. Kara’s still not quite looking at me.

“Well it was mostly a success. There’s –”

“It was a total success, Lucy,” Kara interrupted Eliza. “Eliza worked a miracle.”

“So …. You’re back? One hundred percent?” Lucy was confused. She looked at Eliza and lifted an eyebrow. Eliza shook her head. This is ridiculous. Is she better or not? Her skin looks all the same shade, well except that mark on her thigh. That still looks off.

“Yep, thanks to Eliza,” Kara smiled at Lucy’s right shoulder.

“Well … that’s great then. Okay. I’ve got to write up some reports. I’ll see you two later?”

“Sure thing, Lucy,” Kara agreed still smiling.

Lucy walked out of the room. Clearly not one hundred percent. I wonder if Alex knows?

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

“Director Henshaw,” Cat sounded exasperated to Hank, “We need to do this. Especially in light of Max’s latest accusations. The nation, the world, needs to see Supergirl. We can set up a studio right inside your little DEO if need be. A short speech and I’ll be out of your hair.”

“I appreciate your willingness to grace us with your presence again, Ms. Grant. The answer is still no. We’ve compromised this facility enough. However, I do have some good news for you,” Hank offered, “Dr. Danvers has come up with a cure for Supergirl’s skin infection. She should be cleared from medical in a day or two. Apparently there are a few more tests to run first.

“That’s wonderful news! Where is she? I’d like to see her as soon as you can possibly arrange it.”

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

Winn Schott was having a wonderful day. Alex had already spread the news of the cure and, while doing so, lavishly praised Winn’s contribution. He enjoyed all the acclaim as agents congratulated him on his part in aiding Supergirl. Vasquez somehow hacked his computer password and changed his wallpaper. He was quite surprised to see himself depicted as a cartoon superhero, cape and all. The name “Agent Ingenuity” in stylized letters underneath his booted feet. Of course he immediately took it down … and saved it to his android.

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

Traveling with a bag over her head was most definitely not Cat’s favorite mode of transportation. Luckily it was a relatively light day at work and, when Director Henshaw extended an invitation to see Supergirl, she was able to extricate herself from her daily plans with minimum effort.

“We’re here, ma’am,” a male agent’s voice addressed her. “I’ll guide you into the facility and take you to medical. Please leave the blinder on until we’re inside.”

“Yes, yes, yes, I know the drill. Let’s get on with it, shall we?” Cat was on her best behavior, partially because she was grateful for an invitation to see Kara so quickly but mostly because she was so very happy Kara was cured. This nightmare of Max’s won’t claim another victim.

The agent led Cat by the arm into the facility where she immediately removed the hood while following him as he led her toward medical. She could hear Alex, Dr. Danvers, and Kara talking as they approached one of the rooms. She nodded to the agent as she reached for the door handle. He continued on his way. She hesitated before entering, listening.

“You are not one hundred percent, Kara,” Dr. Danvers voice was sad. “No matter how much you want to be. I can’t believe you told Major Lane that you were.”

“Lucy told me and I thought mom figured out some kind of antidote for your eyes. Hey, hold still, I’m about to make the cut,” Alex admonished.

“You knew? You knew she couldn’t use the antidote on my eyes?” Kara’s voice was rife with betrayal. “Why didn’t –”

“I said STAY STILL. I don’t want to cut you any more than necessary. Please, Kara, can we discuss this after we fix your leg?”

“Don’t you guys understand? I’m still going to be stuck here at the DEO if I can’t see. They’ll never let me go out and live any type of normal life. Maybe I can’t be Supergirl anymore but I can still be Kara Danvers.”

“Of course you can go outside the DEO – you will probably have to give up your loft but you can stay with me. That won’t be a problem. Kara, please, let’s discuss this after we finish this.”

“Alex, they won’t let me out and certainly not to live with you. Did you forget? I overheard Jackson say there’s a ring of paparazzi surrounding your apartment building. According to him, Max actually gave your name to the press.”

“How do you – never mind. At least your hearing has come back. Okay, going to make the first cut …now.”

“Ready with the solution,” Dr. Danvers. “Kara, I know it hurts, please keep still.”

“Yeah, keeping still,” Kara’s voice sounded breathy. “Yeeoowww! REALLY ALEX?”

“KEEP STILL, KARA,” Dr. Danvers rebuked. “Alex isn’t enjoying this either.”

“Give me a second, okay?”

“You’re bleeding all over the place. Mom? This isn’t working. I can’t control the depth of the cut and all we’re doing is infecting her further.”

“Okay,” Dr. Danvers agreed. “I’m taking the synthetic kryptonite away. Let’s see how it heals up.”

Cat decided to make her entrance then. Two sets of eyes immediately turned to the door and Kara turned her face to the door. She can’t see. I thought Henshaw said she was okay.

“Hello, Kara,” Cat began taking in the blood on Kara’s now healed leg. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything important. Director Henshaw finally invited me back to see how you were doing. He told me Dr. Danvers was able to come up with some kind of antidote to whatever Max’s bomb did to you. I take it he wasn’t completely truthful?”

Cat took in the expressions of all three women in front of her. Dr. Danvers looked tired and frustrated, Alex was angry, and Kara … well, Kara looked guilty, like she was caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

“Well … it’s complicated,” Alex began not wanting to share any more information about her sister’s health than strictly necessary.
Cat folded her arms.

“Go ahead,” she encouraged. “I can figure out complicated.”

“Ms. Grant,” Dr. Danvers began, “this is really not the time nor place for any discussion. I would appreciate it if you’d leave this room immediately. We’re still conducting experiments. I’m sure Director Henshaw indicated that to you when he spoke with –”

“Eliza,” Kara looked utterly miserable. “Let me …explain it. I’m sorry – it’s my fault. I … I lied to Lucy … about being one hundred percent cured. I guess that’s where Hank got his information from.”

“Any particular reason why you lied? Is there some kind of timetable or something I don’t know about?” Cat couldn’t fathom why Kara felt the need to lie about being blind.

“Yeah, well, like Alex said. It’s complicated.” Kara let the silence stretch for a few moments then took a deep breath and forged on, “I’m stuck here - when they find out I’m still blind. They can’t let me out. What if I accidentally bump into a building? Or walk into traffic. People could get hurt and, well, my secret wouldn’t last long after that. I’d need someone to watch me … almost babysit me, twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Alex can’t do it – not with what Max did to her. I’ve heard the paparazzi have her place staked out now.”

Cat noticed how Alex hung her head in embarrassment. Yes, I do recall thinking her very public date with Maxwell Lord was a terrible mistake. I presume her organization wasn’t too thrilled about it either.

“And Eliza,” Kara continued. “She is going to have to return to her job soon. I can’t – I won’t ask her to give up her career to babysit me. She’s worked night and day to figure out an antidote. I can go out into the sun now and listen to the birds, feel the wind on my face, thanks to her. It’s enough.”

“Then why lie to Baby Lane?” Cat’s journalistic instincts took over.

Kara’s shoulder’s slumped and she bowed her head. In a barely audible voice she said, “Because I wanted more.”

The look on Eliza’s face told Cat everything she needed to know: Eliza’s guilt at not restoring Kara’s eyesight and the exhaustion from working on the cure for the skin infection. Cat saw the unshed tears brighten Eliza’s eyes. That woman probably single-handedly performed some kind of miracle to save Kara and yet she feels like she’s failed. Enough of this.

“Well, Kara, I don’t know how much more you really need,” Cat turned on the patented ‘Ms. Grant in Charge’ voice. “I did provide you with your own office. Do you expect me to hire a secretary for you as well? If so, you’re sadly mistaken. You can still do the edits the same as before.”

“Thank you, Ms. Grant,” Kara fell back to her old work habits as soon as she heard Cat’s tone of voice. “You’re missing the point, though. I can’t leave here. I can’t stay on my own. I sort of … have to be watched – escorted. I guess … I guess I’ll have to resign. I’m –”

“I suppose I should made myself clear,” Cat said making a quick decision. “Of course you will come to live with me. Well – not so much with me. I mean the smaller apartment which adjoins my own. It will be nothing to add a doorway between the two. Your sister is welcome to stay there with you - provided she keeps a very low profile.”

“Ms. Grant. Thank you, but I couldn’t,” Kara began and was interrupted by Cat.

“Not only could you but you will!” Cat said forcefully. “After everything you’ve done, what you’ve went through, are still going through for my son? No, you will let me do this for you. I’m going to speak to your Director Henshaw. There’s no way I’m going to let him keep one of my best junior editors.”

“But Ms. Grant –”

“Please, Kara, let me do this for you,” Cat insisted, “and for goodness sake, call me Cat when we’re not at the office.”

Without waiting for an answer Cat spun on her heel and exited the room leaving three speechless women in her wake. Now let me grab one of these burly guys and get some directions to Henshaw’s office. I have a feeling we’re going to have to get a few things ironed out before Kara can leave.

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

Cat was pleasantly surprised at how easy Director Henshaw allowed her to ‘convince’ him to let Kara stay with her. Lucy Lane’s presence, and constant suggestions, may have had a part in assuring him that all the bases were covered. When the meeting was completed Cat looked at a rather long list of stipulations and requirements. Lucy was already drawing up the legal documentation to give Cat legal guardianship over Kara Danvers. It was the one stipulation Director Henshaw insisted on. She wasn’t too sure how Kara would react, after all she was blind – not incapacitated. She hardly needed a legal guardian. He wants to make sure I understand the responsibilities – the ramifications of my decision. How could I not want to help her? Did he ever think of that? She willingly sacrificed everything for my son – to save him from Max’s torture. Cat looked down at the list again. I must call Rafael. Have him get started on the apartment immediately. Cat didn’t think it would take too much to make a small apartment out of a portion of her spacious condo. After all, I do have the whole floor. I suppose Kara can make do with a couple thousand square feet.

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

“Now how does it feel?” Alex asked her sister who was desperately trying not to bend the metal table with her hands.

“Not so good,” Kara ground out. “I know I’m going to hate myself for saying this … it’s the only way I can think of.”

“You want me to cut a hunk out of your leg. A large hunk,” Alex guessed knowing Kara was right. There was no way they could neutralize the infected cells by haphazard cutting. Alex looked at her mother. Eliza’s grim expression confirmed Kara’s assessment. This was going to be very messy and extremely painful.

“Whatever you cut out,” Eliza advised, “can’t touch the uninfected skin or we’ll have the same problem again.”

“Yeah, I know, mom,” Alex’s mouth went dry. Sure, no pressure. Cut about a three-inch-wide by an inch and a half deep hunk of flesh from my sister’s thigh. Don’t screw this up, Alex.

“Before we do anything, Kara, I’m going to get some more help in here,” Eliza said. “Alex and I can’t do this by ourselves, okay?”

Kara nodded. She didn’t want Eliza or Alex to hear the trepidation in her voice.

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

“We’re all set,” Dr. Hamilton advised Kara who was laying on the gurney with her hands laced behind her head. “I’ll be the one doing the actual surgery with Agent Danvers acting as my assistant. Dr. Danvers will flood the area with the antidote as soon as I remove the diseased tissue. Then we’ll remove the kryptonite packs and hopefully your leg will completely heal with no aftereffects. Are you ready?”

Kara bit her lip and tightened her interlaced fingers. This is so going to hurt. Okay, let’s get it done with.

“Okay. Go ahead.”

It took herculean effort not to move as the doctor meticulously cut into the flesh. The pain made her feel as if her head were going to explode. Someone said something. The roar of blood in her ears made the words unintelligible. Then ice soothed the place where her pain was concentrated then … nothing but blessed warmth caressed her skin. She heard more noise and concentrated.

“I don’t know. I think she’s conscious …” Eliza’s voice was full of concern.

“Yeah, I’m here.” Kara struggled to sit up. “Wow, let’s never do that again, okay?”

“How’s the leg feeling now, Supergirl,” Dr. Hamilton asked.

Kara rubbed the spot. No residual hint of pain. Nothing.

“Feels great, doc, thanks!” Kara grinned.

“Glad to hear it. Dr. Danvers? I’d like to place the excised piece in stasis for further study if that’s alright with you,” Dr. Hamilton was already sealing the container shut.

“Absolutely. Thank you for your help, Dr. Hamilton. I’m not sure we could have done it without you,” Eliza said warmly.

“Yes, thanks doc,” Alex chimed in. “Now if you will excuse me, I have to give Director Henshaw a call. You sure you’re okay, Supergirl?”

“Yep. Doesn’t hurt a bit.”

“Okay, then. I’ll let him know the operation was a success.”

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

“No way!” Kara disagreed with a very put upon Lucy Lane.

“Yes, way, Kara. This is the only way Hank will let you leave the DEO. If you don’t agree you’re stuck here. Simple as that.”

“Lucy, it’s Cat! She won’t agree to something like that. She has enough responsibilities without adding me to the mix.”

“She’s already agreed, Kara. With a whole lot more grace than you, if I may add. Listen, Hank’s only looking out for you. In case something happens the authorities will contact Cat Grant. Do you really think they’ll run roughshod over her? I agree with Hank on this but it’s your choice,” Lucy sighed. “I don’t think it will as bad as what you think. She’s extremely grateful for everything you did to save Carter. I think you’ll find she’s a lot more than her work persona. Just – give it a try.”

“Alex is going to flip out when she hears this,” Kara warned.

“Yeah, I agree. That’s why Hank’s going to tell her,” Lucy added mischievously, “when they’re sparring. I guess he figures its safer to let her blow off some steam with him rather than send another agent to see Doc Hamilton later.”

“Oh boy! Could you … never mind,” Kara shook her head.

“What? What do you want? Could I what?” Lucy prodded.

“Never mind. It was … I forgot,” Kara trailed off.

“Come on. Out with it. What were you going to say?”

“I – this sounds stupid - I was gonna ask if you could save me the tape of them sparring, you know, to watch,” Kara ducked her head and admitted, “kinda forgot there.”

“No, it doesn’t sound stupid, Kara. And, yes, I’ll save you a copy. I’m sure you’ll be able to see it.” Lucy moved closer to Kara then stopped not wanting to startle the Kryptonian. “I know this sounds funny but, could I give you a hug?”

“Sure, hugging’s good,” Kara agreed as Lucy enveloped her in a hug.

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

“These should work for your eyes,” Doctor Hamilton said as she finished fitting special soft lenses to completely cover Kara’s eyes. Worn in conjunction with the dark glasses Dr. Danvers made you should have maximum protection from the sun. There may be a slight burning sensation but it shouldn’t be too bad. We’re going to try them out right now using a sun lamp. Let me know how they work.”

Kara felt a burning sensation in her eyes. It was tolerable.

“It’s okay. I can feel the burning but it’s not too bad.”

“Now try on these glasses and let me know,” Dr. Hamilton put a pair of the dark glasses in Kara’s hand then watched as she put them on.

“Oh, much better. It still burns a little but not that much. Thanks!” Kara was elated. This was really going to happen!

“Well, how is the patient?” Alex asked from the doorway.

“Impatiently waiting to get out of here,” Kara replied.

“We’re just waiting on your cousin to show up. Take you to his place,” Alex fabricated in front of the doctor. A few well-placed words here and there to add to the rumor mill - to throw off anyone associating Kara Danvers as Supergirl. Clark would make an appearance as Superman, pick up Kara, and deposit her a distance away to Cat’s waiting car.

“I hear him now,” Kara exclaimed. “Thanks Dr. Hamilton, Alex, I’ll go greet him. Sounds like he’s talking with Director Henshaw now.”

Kara walked out of the room confidently using her ears as a sophisticated sonar. A few minutes later she strode into Hank’s office where he and Superman were discussing the anti-alien movement and the ramifications in the coming election.

“Hey there, cuz,” Kal greeted her and slowly embraced her. “I’m glad you’re better and sorry I wasn’t there for you when the bomb went off.”

Rao, it felt good to really squeeze someone. Thanks, Kal, I needed this. Don’t cry, Kara, just hold him tight for a bit.

The two cousins hugged for a few moments longer before Kara stepped back.

“Thanks for coming, Kal,” Kara turned to where she thought Hank was standing, “Thank you, Hank. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I’ll keep a low profile. I promise.”

Hanks voice was rough as he said, “Take care, Supergirl. We’ll miss you. I’ll miss you. Now … get going, I’ve got some paperwork to catch up on.”

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

“Oh, I’ve missed this!” Kara said as she flew next to her cousin.

“Take it easy, Kara. We don’t want to lose your nifty new glasses,” Kal said as he gently squeezed her hand. “I see the car. Time to get in my arms and become Kara Danvers full time, okay?”

“Yep. ‘Damsel rescued from distress’ mode coming up!” Kara said as she let Kal carry her in his arms. “Don’t be a stranger, please!”

“Not a chance. Especially with Lois working Max Lord’s trial. I’ll be in National City probably more times in the next few months than I’ve ever been before. All you have to do is give me a call,” Kal squeezed her again. “I’m so sorry, Kara. I should have figured out what that jerk was doing. I should have found a way to help you.”

“Kal, there’s nothing you could have done. Really. Max Lord was going to torture that little boy to death if I didn’t do what he wanted. There wasn’t anything you could do. Hell, there really wasn’t anything I could do. No, the whole blame rests on Maxwell Lord and his hatred towards us. Oh - before we land, thank Lois for me. Alex read me the articles she wrote for the Planet. Damn, she can write! Uh, don’t tell Cat I said that. Please?”

“My lips are sealed. Here we are. Descending now,” Kal said before fully embracing his Superman persona.

“Superman,” Cat’s greeted. “Thank you for flying Ms. Danvers from that hospital in Nepal. I’ll have the best doctors see if there’s anything else that can be done for her.”

“Your welcome, Ms. Grant,” Superman said. “Good luck, Ms. Danvers.”

“Thank you, Superman,” Kara said. Oh, Kal, I’m going to miss you. Take care of yourself. Kara heard her cousin take off then turned her attention to the woman standing next to her. “It was very nice of you to do this, Ms. Grant. I certainly didn’t expect –”

“Yes, well, let’s get in the car,” Cat said abruptly. Tony was one of her favorite driver’s but she didn’t want to give him too much to think about.

“Oh, yes, okay,” Kara started toward the car then stopped as she bumped into Cat. “Oh, sorry, Ms. Grant. You go first.”

“I’ve got a better idea,” Cat said trying hard not to rub the shoulder Kara accidentally ran into. Damn, she’s as hard as a brick wall. “I’ll take your left arm and lead you to the door Tony has open. Then you get inside. I’ll go around the other side.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant,” Kara said glad Tony was the driver. He wasn’t someone who thought too deeply about his boss’ business.

Once Kara was settled into the backseat, Cat Grant next to her, she let out a sigh of relief. This is really happening! I’m free!

Chapter Text

The long ride back to National City was quiet. Awkwardly so. Even with the soundproof barrier up, preventing Tony from hearing any conversation, both women sat in silence. The last time they were together in Cat’s limousine the ride was also quiet and tense. Then, Carter was desperately sick and Kara was a superhero. Now Carter was healthy and Kara was blind.

The irony wasn’t lost on Cat Grant as she surreptitiously studied the Kryptonian next to her. The normally expressive eyes were behind dark wrap style glasses and the constant fidgeting, a Kara Danvers trademark Cat secretly enjoyed watching, was notably absent after her tenure under Max Lord’s strict control. Cat noticed Kara’s brow was furrowed and her chin thrust out. I made a mistake. I should have talked to her about all of this before she left the DEO. Got her perspective on this whole legal guardianship deal.

That was another problem; the list of stipulations she agreed to in Director Henshaw’s office. To her dismay, she now realized many of the agreed conditions were restrictions to Kara’s freedom. The list was topped by a provision requiring Cat Grant, as legal guardian, to know exactly where one Kara Danvers was all of the time. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well. Luckily Major Lane was able to convince the director that both women needed some privacy. In the end, Kara was allowed to go out with her friends provided Cat approved the plans and the friends. It will be like having a perpetual teenager.

As sensible as the terms sounded at the time, Cat now forced herself to think of how Kara would view them. What was it like to go from Supergirl, powerful and confident, to an adult Kara Danvers who had to ask permission to go out with friends? Day to day decisions now the responsibility of someone else? Especially someone like me? Let’s face it, Cat, you’re not the most sensitive person in the world. We need to set ground rules. This can’t work as a boss/employee relationship. I have to make certain she knows she’s allowed to freely express herself and I will listen – I will respect her choices.

Belatedly Cat realized she already made decisions, major decisions, about their living arrangement without even consulting Kara. Everything from the new ‘apartment’ layout, furnishings, and décor to a new wardrobe. True, there were time constraints with the living space but she still could have asked Kara if she preferred carpeting versus hardwood floors, leather or cloth for furniture, and the like. Kara was perfectly capable of making those choices yet Cat automatically took charge and decided for her. I should have given her the chance to make at least some of the decisions regarding her apartment. Instead I took control as I normally do. As Max Lord did to her. Oh, this isn’t going to be easy.

Kara was concerned. Normally Cat was tapping on her pad, dictating notes, talking to some world leader … something. The longer the silence went on the more Kara worried. She realizes this was a mistake – she doesn’t want the responsibility of keeping tabs on me. I can’t blame her. She has a media empire to run. I’m sure she made the offer without realizing how much of a burden it was, especially with all the rules Hank is making her follow. I told Lucy there were too many rules – Cat doesn’t like to follow the rules; she likes to make them. This could be a catastrophe. I’ve got to make sure I don’t ask anything of her. Let her take control, make all of the decisions, and go along with whatever she decides. Sort of like her assistant only the stakes are higher – not my job but my chance at a normal life. I’ll be stuck in the DEO. General Lane will see to that. I heard what he said to Lucy on the phone. After she found out Eliza’s cure worked on whatever the hell Max Lord put in that bomb.

 

 

                    “Yes, Luce, that’s great news but have you considered the implications of what will happen if she’s allowed out of the DEO to roam free? You have to look beyond your friendship and consider the  tactical situation. She can’t see. You’ll be putting her in danger. If some foreign power tries to kidnap her or some other Fort Rozz alien decides to get revenge? You do realize they weren’t all on that prison she flew into space, right? No, sweetheart, the best place for Supergirl is right where she is, where you can protect her, at the DEO. I’m sure Senator Crane would agree with me. Supergirl shouldn’t be released from the protective custody of the DEO. There’s too much at stake.”

 

 

That’s why Hank put so many conditions on Cat. Lucy must have told him what her father said and Hank let me go anyway. I don’t think Lucy will tell her father. She knows how much this means to me. Its why she made sure I understood the reasons Cat was given legal guardianship and the rules I have to follow. I won’t be given another chance.

The limousine pulled up to the curb in front of the very exclusive, Madison Treymour Condominiums, where Cat Grant owned the entire top floor. Kara heard the limo doors opening. This is it! I’m free! Remember, do whatever Cat says, stay free.

Kara exited the vehicle after ascertaining Cat was already outside. She waited for some type of direction.

“Here you go, Miss Danvers,” a baritone voice said as Kara felt a hand on her arm. “We’ll follow Ms. Grant inside. My name’s Rafael. I’ve spent the last few days hoping to make a comfortable place for you to stay.”

“Thank you, Rafael. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble,” Kara said following the man’s lead while listening to the brisk click of Cat’s heels. This is going to be tough – I can’t read her, figure out what she expects, like I used to. She’s going fast. Maybe she’s impatient – has other things to do. I’ll have to keep anything I say brief, to the point. Don’t waste her time.

“No trouble at all. Ms. Grant told me about your mountain climbing accident. I’m glad I could assist with such a special project. Here we are at the elevators. Later, when you’re settled in, we’ll get you a key to operate the elevator. The elevator controls are on the left side of the door as you enter,” Rafael said taking Kara’s hand. “All you have to do is insert the key and push this button.”

Rafael guided Kara’s hand to the control panel and let her feel where the various controls were.

“If you ever get stranded for some reason, the emergency phone box is on the other side of the door. All you have to do is open the door and pick up the handset. It will connect you directly to National City Police Dispatch,” Rafael continued. “I doubt you will ever have a problem, however. The building is meticulously maintained – oh, here we are. Now, as you get off the elevator you will find a handrail to your right. Yes, that’s it. All you have to do is follow it until you reach your door. It’s about fifteen feet away. The door to Ms. Grant’s condo is directly across the elevator doors to the left. Those are the only two doors on this floor. Actually before you –”

“That will be enough, Rafael,” Cat interrupted before he could tell Kara the door was specifically put in for her at Cat’s request. “Let’s get on with the tour of Kara’s apartment, if you please.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant. Right this way and …. into your new apartment!” Rafael pride was evident as he ushered Kara inside and took her on a guided tour. “The entry way leads directly into a hallway with rooms on each side of the hall. The three bedrooms are on the right side as you enter. Yours is the farthest down the hall. Attached to each bedroom is a private bath and walk in closet. On the left side, closest to the door, is a closet, then a small guest bathroom. A gathering room for entertaining guests then the dining room which is attached to the kitchen. In the kitchen there is a door that opens to Ms. Grant’s kitchen. It can be locked on both sides. The last room on the left is a small study or den. The balcony is accessible from your bedroom or the study. The windows and balcony face east. Ms. Grant indicated that was important to you.”

“Yes, yes, it is,” Kara was surprised. How does she know? I’ve never told her anything about me – my Kryptonian culture.

“I hope you find everything to your satisfaction,” Rafael continued, “Is there anything else? No? If you think of anything, please don’t hesitate to call the concierge downstairs. Whomever is working will contact me immediately.”

“Thank you very much, Rafael. I appreciate everything you did. The apartment is wonderful.”

“With that, ladies, I will take my leave. Take care Miss Danvers,” Rafael said as he left.

Kara heard the door close and took a deep breath having a hard time taking it all in. This is wonderful - way better than the DEO. I have to let her know I won’t be a burden. She doesn’t need any more problems. “Thank you so much, Ms. Grant. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you’re doing. I promise you won’t have to worry about a thing. I’ll do my best not to be a burden –”

“Kara stop. You’re not a burden. We are, however, going to need to set some ground rules. Your Director Henshaw laid out some pretty exacting terms for you to follow. I thought we might discuss it over dinner.” There you go again, taking charge. “Or … whatever.”

“Over dinner’s fine,” Kara nodded. “Do you want me to –”

“No, you don’t need to cook dinner if that’s what you were going to say.”

“Actually, I was going to offer to order out for us. I don’t think my cooking skills would meet with your approval. Actually, I know they wouldn’t. At least that’s what Carter said when I watched him the weekend you went to Metropolis to accept your award.”

“I see. No matter. You’re not here to cook for me. Go ahead and order out. Whatever you prefer. Have them put it on my account. I’m going to my residence to freshen up. I’ll let you know when dinner’s arrived…. and Kara?” Cat stopped and looked at the Kryptonian, “Remember, you can call me Cat when we’re not at the office, okay?”

“Yes, Cat. Sorry, I forgot.”

“I’ll see myself out. Feel free to find your way around. This is your apartment, Kara. We can discuss any changes you’d like to make over dinner also. Okay? I want you to feel comfortable here.” Cat was already at the front door.

“Yes, Cat. Everything is wonderful. Thank you so much. Is Italian from Di Fratelli’s okay?” Kara knew it was one of Cat’s go to take out restaurants.

“That’s fine,” Cat called over her shoulder before she closed the door behind her. She let out a sigh and muttered to herself, “Well that didn’t go as badly as I thought it might. Maybe this won’t be as hard as I thought it would be.”

Standing in her new apartment Kara didn’t mean to eavesdrop. She heard Cat’s words nonetheless. I’ve got to make this as easy as possible for her, agree to whatever she wants. I’ve already inconvenienced her … I mean this apartment? I can smell the freshly painted walls and newly laid carpeting. This must have cost a mint! Keep on task – order dinner now. Cat will be waiting.

After ordering Kara slowly walked through her new residence memorizing furniture configurations in each room. The apartment was totally furnished and Kara was surprised how perfectly it met her needs. With thick carpeting in all the rooms, except the kitchen and bathrooms, it was easy for her to ‘hear’ her way around furniture and fixed objects. The wall switches next to the door in each room were different as were the configurations in each of the bedrooms. Kara could feel the sunlight pouring through the large sliding glass door that led to a spacious balcony, also furnished. The most surprising discovery were the clothes in her walk in closet. They were hung as sets: top, slacks and skirt, with shoes hung in plastic every few groups. The shoes fit perfectly as did the shirt and skirt combination she tried on then quickly hung back up.

Maybe I’m thinking about this the wrong –

A soft chime sounded from the kitchen interrupting Kara’s thoughts. The chime sounded again as Kara entered the kitchen.

“Uh, hello?”

“The food you ordered is here. If you’d like, you may unlock your side of the kitchen door and join me for dinner before it gets cold,” Cat’s voice came from the other side of the door.

“I’ll be right there as soon as I figure out this … lock, got it,” Kara said as she opened the door. The aroma of Italian food made her mouth water. Alex, I know you hooked me up with some out take-out meals when I was at the DEO but this? This is going to be really good.

“The food is set up in the breakfast nook. Go to your right and follow the countertop to the end. Good. Now a couple of steps to your left and through the opening. The table is right … okay – take the seat on the left end,” Cat followed Kara into the room and sat opposite her. “I took the liberty of plating the food. There’s enough left over for seconds and for you to take back to your apartment. If you want to, that is.”

“Thank you. That’d be great. This smells amazing!” Kara smiled as she carefully felt around the table setting memorizing the placement.

“Yes, well, I bet it will taste even better,” Cat watched in amusement as she watched Kara’s face after taking the first bite. That girl certainly enjoys her food. It is delicious.

The two sat in silence for a few minutes as they sated their appetites, Cat more so than Kara who was eating as slowly as she could, savoring each mouthful. I can’t blame her. After eating that ‘stuff’ they consider food at the DEO and, before that, whatever Max was feeding her. What was the term Alex used – nutritional cardboard? I’ll have her make out a grocery list. Ella can have it delivered when she orders for me.

“Cat?”

“Yes,” Cat was startled out of her reverie.

“Where’s Carter? I don’t mean to pry or –”

“He’s with Adam, in Opal City, for the time being. After that he might go to live with his father for a while. We’re still sorting out the details,” Cat cut Kara off. This was not what Cat wanted to discuss or even think about right now. “I guess now is as good a time as any to set some ground rules. Did anyone at the DEO discuss the … requirements for you to live outside their facility?

“Lucy and I talked. Well, she talked, I listened. I’m sorry they saddled you with so much responsibility,” Kara set down her fork, her appetite mysteriously vanishing, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Carter’s not here? He’s living in Opal City with Adam? Then maybe living permanently with his father? Was this something Lucy didn’t tell me about. Cat had to give up Carter to watch me? She wouldn’t do that – she can’t! This is the part where she comes to her senses – she didn’t realize all the hoops they were going to make her jump through just to give me a chance to live a normal life.

“I must say the paperwork Baby Lane had me fill out was only slightly less than a corporate merger,” Cat began wryly before noticing the look on Kara’s face. She looks like a puppy waiting to be kicked. As though she deserves to be kicked. What the hell did you do to her, Max? Even in when I fired her she didn’t look like this.

“I understand. I really do. It was too much to ask of –”

“Hold on. Stop. Take a breath. I agree with you. You shouldn’t be treated like a child. You may be blind but you’re not an imbecile. Unfortunately, due to all of this anti-alien business going on, your DEO friends believe you need to be treated like one. When I went to your Director Henshaw I certainly didn’t have this arrangement in mind,” Cat began trying to soothe Kara by letting her know she was on her side about these ridicules rules. The look on Kara’s face let her know she was failing miserably. You’re making a mess of this. Like you did with Adam. Speak from the heart, Cat, remember?

“S’okay. Really. I’ll just … just wait until someone can pick me and take me back. Thank you, anyway for trying. Let Rafael know the apartment – all the little touches he put in were perfect and – and thank you for the clothes, I know they weren’t mine, I’m sure you can take them back.”

Kara stood up to leave giving Cat a sickly smile.

Okay. We our wires got crossed somehow.

“Kara, sit down, please. I don’t want you to go back to the DEO … unless that’s something you want,” Cat hesitated then went on, “I’m sorry I have to be your jailer. That’s what I was trying to say. You deserve better especially after everything you’ve gone through.”

“You’re my jailer?” Kara’s face was incredulous. “Is that – is that what you think?”

“Well … yes, I mean it’s a nice jail but still a gilded cage is still –”

“A cage,” Kara finished. “Ms. Grant – Cat, this is so not a cage, gilded or otherwise, and you are certainly not my jailer. This, all of this, is beyond anything I expected. Really.”

“Okay. Then what’s upsetting you?”

“Cat,  know your workload. How you manage to do everything on a day to day basis? I mean I could barely keep up even using my superpowers sometimes,” Kara shrugged with a lopsided grin then grew serious again. “When Lucy told me you agreed to take legal guardianship of me and then went through the list of requirements? I told her then it was too much. You can’t possibly do it. I knew you’d realize it too.”

“You’re right, Kara, there’s no way I could do it by myself. I’m counting on your cooperation. That’s why I said we needed to set some ground rules. Agreed?” Cat was ready to talk business.

Kara was silent for a moment. Might as well get everything out in the open now. I have to find out why Carter isn’t here. If Cat promised to send Carter away because of me I’m heading back to the DEO as soon as I can get a ride.

“Before we get started I have a question,” Kara began. “Where’s Carter?”

“I already told you,” Cat really didn’t want to talk about this.

“Is he not here because of me?”

“In a way, yes, I –”

Kara rose from her chair, “Cat, you can’t! Call Hank, I’m going back to the DEO. Call off this entire –”

“ENOUGH! Kara. Calm down. I didn’t want to talk about this with you right now because we have other things to discuss. Carter’s not here because I’m still concerned about Max Lord. What his people might do to my son so he can’t testify in court. I didn’t want him to know that, although I’m sure he’s figured it out for himself. I have an entire entourage of security people, the very best, watching him and Adam,” Cat explained.

“Oh, Cat, I’m so sorry. This is all –”

“Don’t you dare say this is all your fault. This is one hundred percent the fault of Maxwell Lord. No one else. He and his people will be held accountable for their actions.” The venom in her voice was unmistakable.

“Yeah, I agree. I was going to say that it was all so terribly unfair. Carter deserves better. You deserve better.”

“Yes, well, fairness doesn’t happen very often in life. Carter … we’ll get through this.” Cat visibly shook herself. Time to get back to business. “Now, sit down, finish your meal and let’s discuss how we are going to make this arrangement work.”

Cat watched as Kara carefully reseated herself and began to eat. Cat took another bite of her Florentina steak noticing the lukewarm temperature.

“The food’s gotten a little cold. I’m going to heat mine up in the microwave. I’ll heat up your plate too,” Cat offered as she stood up.

“Oh, no. You don’t have to. All I have to do is … never mind. Mine’s fine.” Guess I won’t be heating up Cat’s coffee on the sly anymore. Kara ate in silence listening to Cat’s actions as she rewarmed her food then returned to the table.

“As I said before,” Cat cut into her steak, “we have to set up some ground rules. I want your input on everything. If you object to something you need to speak up so we can work on a compromise that will satisfy the DEO. That’s the only way this is going to work.”

“Okay, go ahead,” Kara sipped her water. “Lucy sort of already told me what to expect.”

“When I go to work you will accompany me and remain until I leave,” Cat said then waited for Kara to voice her opinion. “Well?”

“Uh, Cat … that’s not a big deal. I practically did that anyway when I was your assistant.”

A prim “Hmph” was all the response Kara got.

“Speaking of the office, I’ve changed some things around to comply with the dictates. Your new office will be where your old desk was. Now, before you ask, you weren’t demoted. It was simply easier to put your office there. It’s totally soundproofed with the door leading into my office. Actually, that entire wall is still glass so I can fulfill Director Henshaw’s “not let you out of my sight” rule. You’ll continue as a junior editor.”

Kara was surprised and a little disappointed. She loved her office and the hard work it portended. The office change wasn’t something she thought of during her lecture from Lucy.

“That’s fine,” Kara agreed. Come on, Kara, it isn’t like you’re going to miss the paintings on the walls.

“If you wish to go out with anyone, dating or otherwise, I have to meet them and approve the itinerary. Oh, and Kara, if you’re going to be late make sure and notify me,” Cat winced at the parental way she sounded and waited for Kara to vehemently object.

“That won’t be a problem. I don’t think I’ll be doing much dating and you already know the people I hang with,” Kara shrugged.

Okay, so not exactly like a teenager then. So far so good.

“You know, from time to time, I have to leave the country on business.”

“Yes?”

“Director Henshaw insists you remain at the DEO until I return. I’m sorry. I will try to curtail as many trips as possible.”

“Yeah, Lucy already told me about that. She says, depending on the election results, it could be temporary and I could go with you … if you wanted, I mean,” Kara added hastily.

“Good. And yes, I think you’d be an asset, you know the company brand better than almost anyone else,” Cat commended. “If you tell anyone I said that I’ll deny it.”

Kara smiled, “Not to worry. I won’t tell a soul. Anymore rules?”

“No using your super powers. I’m pretty sure you got the lecture on that one too.”

“Yep. Lucy was quite … adamant about it – except for my hearing. I need it to navigate around,” Kara replied.

“Hearing is noted as the exception,” Cat agreed. “On a more personal note – if Carter comes to visit or you somehow come in contact with him you are not to mention Maxwell Lord or anything related to this whole debacle. I know the sacrifices you made to keep him safe, and I appreciate them more than you’ll ever know, but I –”

“Please, don’t worry about that. I’ve … he’s gone through enough pain. I’d prefer never talking or thinking about Maxwell Lord ever again too,” Kara sighed knowing she’d think about him every day for a long time to come.

“I’ll need you to make out a grocery list so Ella can add it to mine. She can call in both orders. I’ll have her put the perishables away in your refrigerator, if you don’t mind.” Cat stopped and waited for Kara’s “okay” before proceeding, “Your mail will come to my address and, whenever you need to give your address, use mine.”

“Why would I use yours? I have a perfectly fine … do I have an address? Cat … I thought you owned the entire top floor? There was never another apartment on this floor, was there?” Kara felt puzzle pieces coming together. “You had an entire apartment built for me? A really huge nice apartment?”

Cat Grant was silent. Glad Kara couldn’t see the expression on her face. There was one thing she hated more than anything else: when her heart of gold was exposed. Remember Cat? She’s blind, not an imbecile, she was bound to figure it out. Let’s put at least a little spin on it.

“I suppose I did,” Cat replied. “It was the only way I could think of to give us both some privacy. According to the documents I signed, you must live with me. I doubt either one of us would last very long under those conditions. So, Lucy and I got together and worked out a compromise. The apartment is actually part of my condo, like another set of rooms. It fulfills the DEO requirement as, technically, you are living with me.”

“Thank you, Cat,” Kara answered softly stunned by the gesture.

“Kara, you saved Carter’s life and paid a terrible price doing so – no, don’t interrupt – I don’t care if Supergirl is a hero and supposed to do those type of things. What matters to me is that my son is safe and you’re responsible. This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ so just accept it,” Cat said then changed the subject. “Now, are you finished with your meal? If so, we’ll take the leftovers to your apartment. I’ll need that shopping list for Ella as soon as possible.”

“I’m done,” Kara said as she stood up and started putting food back into containers. “Cat? I have a question. How did you know I liked a window facing east? I’ve never said anything like that to you.”

“Your sister, told me before I left the DEO. She didn’t say why, she just asked if it was possible. Luckily, I prefer watching the sunset so my rooms and balcony are on the west side,” Cat answered. “I take it you’ve had a chance to go through most of the apartment?”

“Yes,” Kara smiled. “Everything is perfect… and huge!”

“I did extend the offer to Alex to stay there too, after the trial. I was informed by the prosecutor that it would muddy the waters if she were to stay there now because she stupidly tied herself to Max. If she –”

“She only met with Max to try and help me, Cat. She’s my sister. Please, don’t talk that way about her,” Kara defended.

“Poor choice of words. I should have said Max played her like he played the rest of us. All of us,” Cat admitted.

The room was quiet for a few moments as both women contemplated their loathing for Maxwell Lord.

“It’s getting late,” Cat observed. “I have a conference call in fifteen minutes. Is there anything else we need to go over now?”

“No, oh, what day is today? They all seem to run together since … you know.”

“It’s Friday. Night. About seven o’clock. We don’t have to be in the office until Monday morning. I planned to work from home tomorrow so you could get accustomed to your apartment. I have the National City Children’s Hospital charity event Saturday night. James Olson volunteered to come over while I’m at the event – if that’s alright with you. I won’t be late.”

“It’s fine,” Kara inwardly cursed at needing a babysitter. She didn’t mind James was coming over, actually she was looking forward to showing him her apartment, but she was quite capable of staying in her apartment by herself, thank you.

“I have another teleconference call with London scheduled on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon is clear if you wish to go out,” Cat offered.

“Absolutely. That’d be great!”

Knowing Kara couldn’t see it, Cat cracked a smile at her enthusiasm. This is going much better than I’d hoped. Maybe after the trial Carter can come back here to stay. Kara will be settled in by then. We’ll have our routines down. This could really work!

Kara, laden with the take out boxes, followed Cat into the kitchen and thru the door into her kitchen. Cat helped her store the food in the refrigerator then left the kitchen closing and locking the door behind her.

Kara stood alone in her apartment.

I can’t believe she did all of this for me. It will be so cool to have Alex here – sort of like when we were kids but we won’t have to share the bathroom. I should call her now and let her know. Oh, and thank her for telling Cat about the window facing east. It’ll be nice to stand on the balcony to greet the sunrise. This could really work!

Chapter Text

Kara was nervous. Monday morning came much faster than she anticipated. She was wearing a sweater skirt combination James suggested when he ‘babysat’ her Saturday night. They had a nice time, much less strained then the visit he made to the DEO a couple of weeks ago, and he described her apartment to her with an artist’s eye. She then dragged him into her closet where he spent close to two hours describing the outfits, the colors, the styles. In the end he aptly summed up her clothing as ‘Ms. Grant tries to emulate Kara Danvers style in clothing – note the word tries’. They were out on the balcony, James describing scene below them, when Cat arrived home from the charity function. She announced her arrival with the chimes at the kitchen door. Kara went into the kitchen and pressed her own chime in acknowledgment then went back to the balcony where James continued his descriptions until his voice was hoarse.

Now here she was, armed with several electronic devices Winn upgraded with specially designed software, waiting for Cat to come and collect her. I feel like it’s the first day of school – exciting and terrifying at the same time. The job’s the same. I’ll just have to do it a slightly different way. I’m sure everyone there –

The front door chime interrupted her thoughts. This is it! Day one!

Kara grabbed the white stick with the red bottom from beside the front door. She and Cat spent most of Sunday afternoon walking around the private garden on the roof of the Madison Treymour after Cat presented her with the cane. Kara practiced using it until Cat thought she was proficient enough to try it in public. They walked for an hour on the sidewalks near Cat’s building as Kara built up her confidence using the cane. It was much less efficient than her own super hearing but, Cat was right, she had to sell herself as a normal human. This is what normal humans used. There were also guide dogs too, Cat admitted then quashed Kara’s hopes by dryly remarking the dogs were actually needed by blind humans who didn’t have super hearing. Kara’s sonar capability was superior to any help a guide dog could give.

“I’m ready,” Kara said breathlessly she opened the door. I hope I look okay. Alex said I should either wear my hair up or in a ponytail.

“Well let’s get going then. I’ll have Josh set you up in your new office first then I’ll have Richard meet you in your office to bring you up to speed on the new formatting we went to a couple of months ago. After that, someone from HR will meet with you in your office. Something about updating forms and regulations or something like that. I think that should keep you busy until lunch. Josh can pick you up something. I’ll have one of the senior editors send you some articles to start on this afternoon. Any questions?” Cat asked as they entered the elevator.

“Am I … am I allowed to go out of my office? I mean, I can make my way down to HR … I’ve been there enough to help find you an assistant – oh, glad Josh is working out for you, and wouldn’t it make more sense for me to go to Mr. Mazur’s office than to have him come to mine? I mean he is a department head.”

“Richard is one of my department heads. He’ll meet you in your office and, yes, you are allowed to go out of your office provided I know where you’re going and how long you will be. Technically I’m not supposed to let you out of my sight in public but, as long as you’re in my building, I’m willing to give us both some latitude. Just … send me a quick text with the details. I’d appreciate you sticking with the schedule Josh set up today, however. Tomorrow you can roam free – provided your work gets done,” Cat got off the elevator and made her way through the lobby consciously giving Kara some time to make her own way using her cane.

Okay. That’s not so bad. Cat’s right. I should use today to get acclimated to my job and Catco. Concentrate on the new ways I have to do things. I’ll make some rounds tomorrow.

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

The elevator doors to Cat Grant’s private elevator opened. A quiet blanketed the floor as the staff turned to greet their boss. They were met with the sight of Cat Grant holding the right elbow of Kara Danvers, a red tipped white cane in Kara’s left hand and dark wrap around glasses hiding her eyes. If it weren’t for the cover story James Olson started to spread around last week, Cat was sure Kara might have been mobbed. As it was, a shocked silence greeted the couple.

Kara could almost feel every eye on her as Cat led her off of the elevator. She hadn’t thought about how people would react until now. Okay, this is awkward. Better put on a big smile or everyone will be afraid to talk to me – especially with Cat holding my arm. I’m going to have to let people know I’m still me, good old Kara Danvers. There you go big smi – Crap!

Obviously Cat wasn’t expecting quite this reaction from her employees either. She took the corner around Kara’s new office a little too sharply causing Kara to stumble as she wasn’t using her cane or ‘super sonar’ while Cat led her. Almost as one, the workers surged forward to help Kara then backed up at the glare thrown Cat as Kara regained her balance.

Well, that was one way to make an entrance. I wasn’t expecting her to turn so fast. At least I didn’t fall flat on my face or into anyone. I’d better be more careful and use my hearing even when someone is leading me around.

“Here is your new office, Kara,” Cat said as she led Kara into the small work area. “There’s a desk, a small work station for any devices you may need, a chair and a settee. I’ll give you a few minutes to get comfortable before I have Josh come in. Oh, and James asked me to tell you he hung pictures on the walls and … I didn't mean to take the corner like that.”

“It’s okay. I should have paid more attention to what I was doing. It seemed like no one was breathing when we came off of the elevator and all I could hear were machines. I guess I wasn’t prepared for how people would react,” Kara admitted.

“They did seem a little more quiet than usual. No matter, they better be hard at work when I get to my desk or heads will roll. Now, if you’re all set, wee both have work to do,” Cat said already halfway into her office.

“All set,” Kara gave a thumbs up motion in Cat’s direction then started exploring her office.

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

Cat walked back to her desk still extremely pleased with herself. Aside from the slight misstep earlier, everything was falling into place nicely. She hadn’t told HR to terminate Kara Danvers when she failed to show up for work without notice all those months ago. Initially, so focused on Carter, she wasn’t even aware Kara wasn’t at work. Then, even though she was very disappointed, believing Kara left her alone at Lord Tech, she was grateful to her for running interference during those hectic few hours. The summoning of Carter’s pediatrician and Adam helped to save her sanity during those first few days. She decided to give Kara, who was flitting about National City as Supergirl during office hours, some leeway. She told HR that Kara was on assignment and would be out of the office until further notice. No one asked for details and Cat didn’t provide them. Later, after Alex Danvers advised her of the truth, she continued to carry Kara on the payroll waiting for Supergirl to pay her a visit to explain what the hell was going on.

When Cat made her agreement with the DEO, she immediately went to work concocting a tale to cover Kara’s absence from work and subsequent injury. The story centered around an idea for a feature article in Catco magazine about women adventurers. Cat mentioned it to Kara while she was still her assistant. Several weeks after her promotion she advised Cat of a good friend who was training to climb Mt. Everest. Cat agreed to send Kara to Nepal so she could get a taste of the whole experience while interviewing her friend. Unfortunately, Kara was badly injured in a fall and required months of hospitalization. The fall also claimed her eyesight. It wasn’t until recently that Kara was recovered enough to leave the hospital. It wasn’t the best cover story Cat had ever spun but it fit well enough with what she initially told Human Resources.

The morning wore on, everything going as smoothly as Monday mornings could until Cat received the latest financial statements from accounting. Apparently someone botched the cost placement for the new formatting system thereby totally throwing off all of the figures for the upcoming quarterly report due Wednesday. Edwin Klute, soon to be former head of the accounting department, was in her office trying to explain why he hadn’t caught the error before forwarding the report to her. Cat could feel the headache coming on. And they wonder why I’m always checking their work? This could have cost the company millions, played havoc with our stock, and seriously undermined our credibility. Not to mention an IRS audit like no other. Klute, realizing his job was in jeopardy, heatedly argued his side, peppering it with as much accounting lingo as possible in the hopes of impressing Cat enough to save his job. The two were engaged in their verbal duel when Cat saw Kara leave her office carrying her cane. Where’s she going? I don’t have time for this. I told her not to leave her office today! Why can’t people just do what they’re told to do?

“Just where the hell do you think you’re going?” Cat’s voice carried into the main work area as Kara already opened Cat’s office door. Kara continued to walk out of the office. “Kara!”

Well that stopped her in her tracks.

“I asked you where are you going? Weren’t you instructed not to leave your office today?”

I don’t know why she’s all flushed. It’s not like she hasn’t heard me argue or fire someone before. She shouldn’t be so upset she feels she has to leave the office.

Kara put her head down and mumbled, “I’m going to the rest room, if that’s okay. I …I texted you the information like you asked me to.”

Cat closed her eyes, still seeing everyone in the bullpen carefully not looking in her direction, knowing she inadvertently humiliated Kara in front of them. She’s not a child. You have to remember that, Cat. Oh, damn it, how am I going to fix this?

“Yes … well – would you mind stopping by James’ office on your way back? I’d like him to bring me his latest fashion spread as soon as he’s done with it.” There, now she can talk to him, socialize a bit… and give me some time to get rid of this idiot!

Kara seemed to take the extended olive branch and after a hasty, “Of course, Ms. Grant,” fled the office.

This is going to be harder than I thought! I’m sorry, Kara.

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

“What do you mean you don’t have a Supergirl outfit? You can’t do the press conference as Kara Danvers. Where is your suit?”

It was Wednesday night and Cat was hoping to have Supergirl make a statement to the press on Thursday explaining her absence from National City and contradicting the lies Maxwell Lord was spewing to anyone who would listen.

“My original suit, the one Winn made me, was burnt beyond repair when a tanker truck exploded. The other suit, the one given to me by Mr. Lord, was what I was wearing when the bomb exploded. I don’t know what happened to it but … I can’t put it on and risk getting contaminated again,” Kara said between bites of pizza.

Cat cocked her head. The journalist, the professional interviewer, caught something that piqued her interest. She filed it away and stuck to the matter at point for now. “You say Winn, as in Winn ‘Toyman Jr.’ Schott made your original Supergirl suit?”

“Yeah, it took a few times to get it right but he finally came up with something we both liked. I’m sure if I asked him he’d make me another – as long as he’s not too busy at his new job.”

“We need Supergirl’s side of the story out there. People are starting to wonder if maybe Max Lord is telling the truth and Supergirl fled National City because she was guilty of setting up events to make herself look more heroic. Accidents that turned into tragedies where people died. Supergirl needs to refute his lies publicly and soon,” Cat finished her Chicken Marengo and put down her fork.

“I’ll call Winn after dinner and find out if he’s willing to make me another suit then I’ll start working on my speech. I’d appreciate any input you can give me on it. I’m a little out of the loop. Plus, you’ve spoken with the prosecutor – I don’t want to say or do anything that would jeopardize the case,” Kara closed the lid on the empty pizza box after taking out the last slice.

“I’ve already sent a list of talking points to your phone. Once you’re done, I’d be happy to proof the speech. We can televise it from Catco, in the studio, where there’s no chance of your eyes encountering sunlight. When you call Mr. Schott ask him if he would be so kind as to assist so we don’t have to come up with a cover story for a blind Supergirl to the staff,” Cat instructed as she rose from her chair.

“On it,” Kara agreed wolfing down the last of the pizza. She sensed Cat was finished and eager to get started.

Cat watched as Kara practically inhaled the last of the pizza. I’m glad Carter isn’t here to see her table manners. Oh, God, I wish Carter was here! The pain of separation cut like a knife in her heart. It was something even The Queen of All Media couldn’t fix.

Kara rose from her place at the table, “I’ll give Winn a call and text you with his answer. Then, I’ll work on the speech.” When Cat didn’t answer she added a, “Cat?”

“Yes, well, you’d better get started,” Cat sounded brusque.

“I’ll see myself out,” Kara was puzzled by the change. What did I do now? I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells around her.

Kara made her way to their shared kitchen door with the empty pizza box. She breathed a sigh of relief from the tension of the other room as she closed the door. Several seconds later she heard the snick of Cat’s lock on the other side of the door. She never locks her side of the door.

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

“Wow, love the digs!” Winn said enthusiastically he finished touring the apartment. “How are the new software programs working out for you? Any glitches?”

“Nope, they’re wonderful. Thank you so much! I think Mr. Mazur is a little jealous,” Kara confided with a bright smile.

“It was actually Sue who came up with algorithm that makes the program rock,” Winn took in Kara’s head tilt and correctly interpreted it adding, “Vasquez … from work. She’s a genius with this stuff. Uh, I told her I was finishing up a program on formatting for Ms. Grant. I didn’t tell her you are Supergirl or anything like that. So, … where do you want me to set my stuff up?”

“In the study. You can work on the suit while I work on the speech. That way I can bounce some ideas off of you.”

“Sounds great. I have some ideas for a new look to your suit –”

“It has to look the same, Winn,” Kara cut him off. “People have to immediately recognize me as Supergirl.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Winn admitted.

“Maybe, if Eliza comes up with something to help me see, you can make me that new suit.” Kara reached out until she felt his arm, “Okay?”

“Yes, ma’am. One classic super suit coming up,” Winn said as the two headed toward the study.

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

“Keep your eyes focused exactly … perfect. You can hear that pitch? I’ll have it on the entire broadcast so you can move your head and eyes naturally then look right back into the camera when you want to,” Winn advised.

Kara gave a little wave of acknowledgment in Winn’s direction as Lucy firmly held Kara’s chin in her hand while applying the last of the makeup to Kara’s lips. Without her glasses and eye inserts, dressed in her Supergirl outfit, she looked every bit the same Supergirl she was before Maxwell Lord usurped her independence. A welcome sight to all of her friends.

“There, that does it,” Lucy said as she released Kara’s face. “All ready for Hollywood.”

“Thanks, Luce, I appreciate the help,” Kara smiled. Then took a deep breath and slowly exhaled as she mentally ‘became’ Supergirl. “I’m all set whenever you’re ready, Winn.”

“We have two minutes to air time,” Cat announced checking the clock. “Remember, if you get lost during your speech I’ll –”

“I won’t get ‘lost’, Cat,” Kara answered confidently. “I’ve got this. Thanks, though.”

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

Alex watched her sister’s speech from the infirmary bed at the DEO. Since Kara was no longer Supergirl and Hank was regulated to stay at the DEO, field operations to capture rogue aliens resumed their former hazardous status. A spiral fracture to her tibia during a recent capture attempt had her waiting for a cast and unable to attend Kara’s speech in person. Damn I miss her. She looks good. I told Lucy that was the right shade of lipstick. I can’t believe she’s still blind. She looks totally normal. Alex listened as Supergirl exposed all of Maxwell Lord’s lies and half-truths for what they were and replacing them with the truth. She finished that part of her speech with sincere condolences to the families of all the victims she couldn’t save despite her best efforts.

“Due to circumstances surrounding the upcoming trial of Mr. Lord, I’ve been asked by the prosecuting attorney to refrain from any public acts until the conclusion. I have, and fully intend to, cooperate with the justice system and honor the requests of those in charge. Therefore, my continued absence in National City should not be taken as a sign of guilt, cowardice or weakness, but as a sign of faith in the judicial system and the laws governing all of us.”

You did good, little sister! The unshed tears in Alex’s eyes had nothing to do with the pain in her leg. Alex watched as Kara rose from seat and left the stage with typical Supergirl grace.

“Wow, that was some speech,” Vasquez noted as she walked up to Alex’s bed. “Hey, I heard you had a bit of an accident. Want me to call your mom?”

“Don’t get cute, Susan,” Alex said trying to blink away the wetness in her eyes. “I almost regret having my mom come to help Supergirl. Did she tell everyone she wanted a report on everything I did here? Doc Hamilton has threatened to call her at least twice since my … accident.”

“Well, if you wouldn’t have made such a fuss about leaving with an untreated injury, I wouldn’t have made such a threat,” Dr. Hamilton said as she entered carrying Alex’s x-rays. “I must say, it does work better than threatening to strap you to the gurney.”

Alex laid her head back and put an arm over her eyes in surrender. The speech was over anyways. She’d give Kara a call later and congratulate her – after she figured out what kind of story to concoct as to how she broke her leg. Lucy and Winn were already sworn to secrecy. She didn’t want Kara to feel guilty for the injury. Maybe I can con Jackson into saying he accidentally did it when we were sparring or maybe during a training accident.

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

Supergirl’s announcement to National City was a resounding success and quickly dissipated any sympathy for Max Lord or the anti-alien movement. Kara relinquished the Supergirl suit to the DEO at Lucy’s request. She understood the logic behind the strongly worded suggestion: She couldn’t afford to have anyone find the suit in her apartment and she was forbidden to use her super powers, but it still hurt to give it back to Winn.

 

“I’ll keep it safe for you, Kara,” he whispered in her ear as he gave her a hug. “I know you. You’ll wear it again, someday.”

Kara returned the hug as tightly as she dared, “Thanks, Winn. Don’t be a stranger, please. I miss you so much. It’s not the same at work without you.”

The truth was, as days turned into a week, it seemed nothing was the same at work as it used to be. Kara missed talking with other people. She was isolated in her new office. No one casually stopped in to talk to her, certainly not if they had to go through Ms. Grant’s office to do so. Even James. When Kara asked for another door to her office, Cat dismissed the request and suggested other employees needed to spend more time at their desks, not walking around gossiping. Kara started to chaff under the restrictions Cat imposed both at work and after work. In part, she realized, because Cat herself seemed to change.

Where once they had, if not a friendship, a warm relationship, Cat now seemed cold, almost brittle, when they were together. Kara couldn’t figure out what she did or didn’t do to cause the change until she was sitting on her balcony listening to the sounds of the city after work one night and unintentionally heard Cat Skyping with Carter. The sadness in Cat’s voice as she said good night to her son and the soft, “Damn you Max,” after she hung up were all the clues Kara needed. I’m a reminder of what she lost. It may not be my fault, and I know Cat doesn’t blame me for what Max did, but I’m the constant reminder of why Carter’s in exile. The DEO, with their stupid rules, has made it impossible for her to think of anything else. Time to come up with a plan that will help Cat or I’ll go back to the DEO. Cat doesn’t deserve this type of torture.

As weeks passed Cat noticed Kara deliberately withdrawing. The two rarely spoke during the morning drive into work with Kara, more often than not, clenching her fists tightly during the ride. Shared lunches and dinners became a thing of the past. Kara began communicating to Cat almost exclusively through text messages. She rearranged the furniture in her office so Cat barely saw her. Then her work became erratic. Mazur informed Cat he won’t send her anything of importance to edit before ten o’clock in the morning. Cat began to question Kara’s stability. What if she’s having some kind of post traumatic melt down? I’m not equipped to deal with a super powered alien. The red kryptonite incident weighed heavily on her mind.

Maybe I should contact Lucy. Kara would be better at the DEO. They have doctors … her sister’s there. She’d probably thank me. It’s Friday. I’ll let her finish the work week and give her the weekend before I call the DEO to pick her up Sunday night. Damn it – she’s not answering her door. I told her I needed to be in early this morning for a conference call from Brasilia. Of all the days for her to oversleep! I’ll have to use the master key to open the door.

Cat walked quietly down the carpeted hallway. The door to Kara’s bedroom was ajar and she could hear Kara’s voice saying something. It sounds like she’s out on the balcony. What in the world is she doing? Communing with the birds? I’ve got forty-five minutes before I need to be in the office. Enough of this!

Cat pushed the bedroom door open but was ill prepared for the sight before her. Kara stood on the balcony, facing the rising sun, chanting something in an undecipherable language. On the table next to her were her dark glasses and eye inserts.

“What in the HELL do you think you’re doing?” Cat demanded as the sun’s first rays reached Kara’s face.

Kara continued her chant, her breath becoming ragged, until she fell to her knees with her eyes tightly shut. She stayed motionless for a few seconds then reached onto the table grabbing her dark glasses and settling them over her eyes. Still breathing hard, she turned to face a speechless Cat Grant, and slowly drew herself to her full height. She tilted her chin up in an almost regal pose and answered.

“I am Kara Zor-El and I am healing myself.”

Chapter Text

Cat bit back an angry retort to command Kara to stop this idiotic exercise. Yelling at her is not going to help either one of us. You’re supposed to be great at reaching out to people, Cat. If she feels she has to do this, torture herself, I think you’ve failed.

“How many days have you exposed your eyes to the sun?” Cat asked softly.

Kara relaxed her pose slightly.

Yep. She was getting ready to battle you. Don’t give her anything to use. Care and concern not judgment will get her talking.

“Thirty-two days,” Kara answered, the challenge was still in her voice.

“Is there anything I can help you with?” Cat continued using a soft voice. Her head must be pounding like a son of a bitch right now. The clenched fists on the drive to work, the lack of production Richard was talking about – all makes sense now.

Kara slightly cocked her head as if considering the unexpected offer. Her posture relaxed even further as she realized Cat wasn’t going to castigate her.

“My … the eye inserts. Could you – it’s hard for me to get them by myself,” Kara admitted as she felt around on the table.

Cat ignored her revulsion. She knows how I feel about germs and touching things like … like that. If she’s asking for help they must be very difficult for her to put in.

“We’ll do it inside, away from the sun, hmm?” Cat suggested as Kara carefully located the inserts.

“Yeah, that’s good. In my bathroom. I’ve got a dish with solution … have to clean them first,” Kara reached forward to find the balcony door.

Oh, Kara! Stubborn fool. You can’t use your super hearing after this can you? I bet your head feels like you’ve been on a three-week bender.

“Here, I’ve got you,” Cat said as she gently took hold of Kara’s forearm. “We’ll take it nice and slow, okay?”

“Yeah, slow’s good,” Kara walked keeping her head as steady as possible.

“Hold on. Let me slide the door shut and close the curtains,” Cat stopped a few feet into the bedroom. Kara remained standing where she was as Cat completed her self-appointed tasks. “Done. Now let’s see about getting your … eye thingies in.”

After a full five minutes of trial and error the inserts were properly seated and Cat handed Kara her dark glasses.

“I’m sorry. I’m not very good at that sort of thing,” Cat apologized.

“Oh, no. You did great. Thank you,” Kara moved her body to face Cat.

She’s avoiding moving her head as much as possible. Damn, I should have noticed before. She’s done this for a whole month?

A thought struck Cat, “Kara, those inserts are rather difficult to put in. I don’t believe they’re designed to be taken out like contacts. Were there days you went to work without the inserts? Wearing just your glasses?”

Cat saw Kara start to duck her head before wincing in pain.

“Eighteen days,” Kara sounded almost chagrined Cat had figured it out. “The dark glasses filter out a lot of the light.”

“But it still burns, right? How bad? No heroics – I want to know the truth,” Cat said in a little more demanding tone then watched Kara grimace. Keep your voice soft, Cat. Think hangover, you’ve had them enough.

“A lot. Sometimes I have a hard time concentrating at work. I’m sorry. I know Mr. Mazur is probably at his wits end with me,” Kara admitted.

“Is that why you changed your office around? Does it help your headaches?”

“No,” Kara answered then paused weighing her next words. “I thought it may help you. You know …to not see me so much.”

What the hell is she talking about? I can’t think of anything I’ve said or done to give her that impression.

“Okay, now you’ve lost me. How, exactly, does it help me?”

Silence stretched on for almost a minute before Kara chose to answer, “Because of Carter. I know your reasons for keeping him away, and they’re good reasons, but I also know I’m the constant reminder your son is gone. Surely –”

“Nah uh,” Cat said a little louder than she meant to. “You’re the constant reminder my son is alive. Yes, God yes, I miss him. But without your sacrifice, willingness to save him, I wouldn’t have my boy at all.” In a lower voice, one held tightly under control, she continued, “He was going to kill him. Lucy didn’t tell me, she kept it from me, but the prosecutor said she wanted all the cards on the table. She told me Max had several contingency plans, all involving torturing and killing my son, if you didn’t go along with his scheme.”

“Oh.”

“Contrary to what you believe, the truth is, I feel thankful Carter is safe, alive, every time I see you.” Cat paused for a moment to let the words sink in. Then, to underscore her sincerity, she gently placed her hands on Kara’s shoulders and added, “I know I’ve thanked you in the past but, thank you, Kara Zor-El, alien from another planet, for saving my son. For caring enough about him to subject yourself to Max’s control. Thank you.”

Cat watched in wonder as her Kara transformed into Kara Zor-El who placed her hands on Cat’s forearms. With great gravity, the last daughter of Krypton, intoned, “The galaxy has no resting place for those unwilling to protect the innocent.”

The moment was broken as Cat’s cell buzzed. Damn it!

“You’re going to be late for your teleconference, aren’t you?” Kara Danvers asked. “Maybe we can set something up in –”

“No. I don’t need to –”

“Yes, you do. Super hearing, remember? You’re on the cusp of a major addition in Brazil. Catco would rival “Folha de Sao Paulo”. The board members won’t be happy if you pass it up.” Kara felt for her cane she habitually left hanging on from a small hook Winn tacked up near the bed. “How much time do you have?”

“If we leave right now … we should make it with five minutes to spare,” Cat wanted to leave Kara to recuperate and inwardly cursed realizing she had to bring Kara with her. The DEO’s legal guardianship paperwork stipulated it. “I’ll let Tony know we’ll be right down.”

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

“Hank, I want to say ‘hi’. That’s all. I’m going stir crazy here. Winn offered to take me. No one will know Alex Danvers is in town. I’ll evade the paparazzi. Please! It’s been over a month since I’ve seen her. I’ll wear a blond wig and glasses - like before.”

Why is this one always so much trouble? Because you care about her, who she reminds you of, who you miss with every fiber of your being.

“I want to be perfectly clear, Agent Danvers, absolutely no stops along the way for anything. Straight to Catco and back. Wait, straight to Catco and your sister’s office and back. You are not to engage in any unnecessary conversations with civilians. I do not want to see you on the front page of any more news articles. Understand?”

“Absolutely, sir,” Alex hid her victory smile behind a calm professional facade.

“Oh, and give your sister my regards,” Hank made a shoeing gesture with his hand as he went back to working on next year’s budget requests.

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

Kara wasn’t surprised her in box was empty. I guess Mr. Mazur has given up on me doing anything before ten or eleven in the morning. I’ll work twice as hard this afternoon to make up for it. Right now, I think I’ll pretend my head doesn’t feel like a balloon about to explode. At least Cat’s meeting seemed to go well. The new guy in accounting sounded pretty on the spot with his numbers and Ms. Parks really knows her international business law. Cat’ll be in a good mood even though she has meetings the rest of the day. Everything should be nice and quiet for –

“HEY KARA!”

“Alex?”

“In the flesh! Give me a hug!”

“Yeah, it’s great you’re here. Ms. Grant let you in?”

“Nah. She’s not in her office now. I told your replacement, he’s kind of cute by the way, I needed to see you. Are you okay? You look a little pale.”

“I’m fine. A little tired is all. Really, it’s great you’re here. How’s life at the … at work?”

“The same. J’onn sends his regards. I know he misses you like, a lot. Make sure you bug him next time you’re there so the rest of us don’t have to put up with his pining,” Alex said jokingly. “How is life with Cat? Winn told me about your new apartment. Sounds terrific! And … looks like you’ve got some new clothes.”

“Oh, Ms. Grant bought them – or had someone buy them,” Kara corrected herself. “James said they sort of look like what I normally wear to work. Do they look okay?”

“You look fine. She actually did a nice job. The colors look good on you. Listen, Kara, are you sure you’re okay? You’re pretty pale. If … ah, if you were the fainting type I’d expect you to drop any second,” the concern in Alex’s voice was evident.

“Actually, Alex, I’ve got kind of a headache. Could you –”

“Kara,” Alex sounded exasperated and loud. “Maybe you should come back to … see the doctor. Get checked out.”

“Alex,” Kara rubbed at her temples. “Remember how you felt when you had a very bad hangover … how you told me breathing hurt and asked me not to brush my hair so loud? That’s how I feel right now so could you please, please, find a much quieter way of showing your concern for me.”

Silence. Kara felt her sister’s arms gently envelope her, blissfully no rocking was involved, then slowly disengage. A light massage started on the back of her neck.

Oh, this feels really good. Don’t stop … hey, don’t stop.

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

Cat returned from her third meeting of the morning in a positive mood. The early morning teleconference was a success and lawyers were drawing up contracts to finalize the deal. The numbers from the east coast stations were up four percent and several polls showed the anti-alien coalition losing support.

I have twenty minutes before my meeting with the editorial staff. Time enough to chat with my alien ward … now, that’s different, who is in her office?

Cat walked closer to the glass wall and studied the figure giving Kara a neck massage. Then caught the woman’s profile. It was all she could do not to immediately start yelling for security.

Damn it! She’s not supposed to be here! No contact with Catco! Apparently she didn’t get the message. This trial is too important. I won’t let Max wriggle off the hook because she gives the jury some kind of excuse to believe his lies. At least it looks like she took some kind of precaution … and that is the most hideous wig I’ve seen since Lois went undercover to infiltrate the mayor’s staff.

Cat checked the bullpen. No one seemed unduly excited or bothered by the guest who entered Cat’s then Kara’s office. Good. I think it is time for Agent Danvers and I to have a little talk.

Cat walked back and rapped very lightly on the glass wall. Alex turned around and stopped massaging Kara’s neck. Cat motioned her out with her hand and watched as Alex bent down to say something to Kara then leave. Kara remained seated, head stilled bowed.

Alex started to speak as she entered Cat’s office but stopped before uttering a word as Cat gestured ‘quiet’ placing her forefinger in front of her lips. She motioned Alex over to a small area near the balcony effectively concealed from the outside by drapes.

“Your sister has a massive headache so I’ll ask you to keep your voice as low. It is the only reason I’m not tearing you a new hole right now. What in the hell do you think you’re doing here? Didn’t anyone at your organization explain to you how risky this is for the trial? We finally buried Max’s accusations of Supergirl’s complicity in this whole mess and here you come waltzing in giving him a chance to resurrect the whole specter again,” Cat said between clenched teeth. “You aren’t to have any personal contact with Catco, me, your sister until after the trial. Don’t give Max’s attorneys any ammunition to use against your sister, to exonerate himself, at the trial. Now get the hell out of my building and stay away from Kara until this is over.”

“Hey, I came here in disguise,” Alex defended herself. “I was careful to keep an eye out, used an alias at the security desk, all the stuff we agents are trained to do. I want to know why my sister looks like shit. How long have you let her suffer? Did you ever consider it might be a reaction from what Max put her through or from the antidote she needed? She needs to be seen by a doctor. She needs –”

“Listen to me, you –”

Cat was about to launch into a witty evisceration of Alex when Kara’s soft voice stopped her.

“Guys, please,” Kara was standing by her doorway.

Cat looked at Kara then back to Alex who had the grace to look embarrassed and was struck by an idea. This will get Kara to stop torturing herself.

“Kara? Your sister is concerned about your health, as I’m sure you heard,” Cat said softly but couldn’t keep the note of satisfaction from her voice as she added, “Do you want to tell her exactly why you’re slightly under the weather today?”

“Not particularly,” was the mumbled response.

Well, that brought some color to her cheeks. Yes, Alex’s interest is certainly piqued now. Kara knows Alex won’t let it go until she comes clean.  Maybe her sister can talk some sense into her.

“Kara?”

“Yeah.”

“What did you do?”

Chapter Text

Lucy was ready to lock Alex back up. The only reason she didn’t was Director Henshaw pulled her aside and the two had a long, frank talk. He advised her Alex sought, and was granted, permission by him to see Kara. Lucy acknowledged his prerogative in the matter then explained, in excruciating detail, exactly why Alex needed to stay away from anyone involved in the upcoming trial.

Although, through his tenure as Director Hank Henshaw of the DEO he understood administrative procedural matters, his grasp of the American Judicial System was severely limited. Alex, linked to Max Lord by publicly ‘dating’ him, seen at Catco or with Catco employees could be twisted by Max’s attorney in court to make it look as if Cat Grant was complicit in the entire affair. After all, the special relationship between Cat Grant and Supergirl was well known. If Supergirl thought up the whole charade to make herself look heroic, already posited in the press by Max’s attorney, he could twist the sighting of Alex at Catco to make it seem as if Cat Grant was a willing participant in the scheme. If he cast the aspersion that Supergirl, Cat Grant, and Max Lord were in collusion and offered Alex’s visit to Catco as proof a large portion of the prosecution’s case would be damaged. He didn’t need to prove anything. All he needed to do was sow the seeds of doubt and Alex had played into his hand.

At the end of an hour and a half discussion, mostly Lucy discussing and Hank listening, he understood the gravity of his error. Lucy was still exasperated with Alex whom she told to stay away from Catco and Kara until after the trial. Alex exploited Hank’s lack of knowledge and neither Lucy or Hank were happy about it. Hank refused to let Lucy blame anyone but himself. He did, however, plan a nice long talk with Alex when she returned.

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

“I can’t believe you would do such a thing. Kara, you don’t know if it will cause you permanent damage. You –”

“Alex, look at me,” Kara pointed to her dark glasses. “I think if I don’t do this the damage is pretty much permanent. Heck, even Mr. Lord couldn’t come up with an antidote for my eyes! I don’t think Eliza, as great a scientist as she is, will find a cure either. She wouldn’t have told me what he said if she thought she could find one.”

Cat suggested the three women retire to Kara’s soundproofed office to continue the discussion once Kara realized Alex wasn’t going to let her off the hook.

“You can’t keep doing this to yourself. You’re not thinking –”

“If it was your only chance to regain your sight wouldn’t you do it?” Kara cocked her head knowing she won the argument.

The silence was broken by Cat, “I’m not particularly pleased with what you are doing to yourself. I’ve never been into masochism, however, your point is well taken. If you would like to go back to the DEO I won’t stand in your way. I’d like to believe, however, we can work through our misunderstandings – I’d … I’d like you to stay. If you want, I mean.”

Kara turned towards Cat’s voice, “Yeah, I’d like to stay. I’m sorry about earlier. I should have told you what I was doing, why I was doing it.”

“Okay, then, that’s settled. I’ll let Richard know your work hours are from ten in the morning until six at night with lunch scheduled from ten to eleven in the morning. Effectively giving you until eleven to recover from your ‘self-medication’ as it were,” Cat decided. “He said ten or eleven is when you seemed to be more … productive. Will that work?”

“Thank you, Ms. Grant,” Kara smiled, “that’ll be great. I promise I won’t let you down.”

“And Kara,” Cat said as she reached for the office door, “if you would like to visit with your sister prior to the end of the trial, I’ll arrange it with Director Henshaw.

“Thank you.”

“Agent Danvers,” Cat looked pointedly at Alex, “I insist you stick to the pre-trial protocol outlined by Prosecutor Butler. If for some unknown reason you have forgotten or were misinformed, I will be contacting Major Lane who will, I’m sure, be glad to fill you in.” Cat waited for Alex’s nod before continuing, “I’ve a meeting to attend. I’m sure you can show yourself out … leg cast and all.”

“Leg cast? Alex, what happened?” Kara asked as Alex sent Cat a dirty look.

Cat smiled and walked out of the office.

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

“Mr. Lord, I’ve seen the evidence against you. All of my motions to quash the evidence have failed. Whoever is helping the prosecution with this case is good, really good. Those search warrants are air tight. Let me talk to the prosecutor – see if we can’t work out some kind of deal,” suggested Ron Travanti, one of the team of four attorneys working on Max’s case and well known for his successful defense of organized crime members.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Travanti. Maybe you misunderstood me. I am paying you and your team of experts to win this trial. I don’t care how you do it and I don’t care who gets hurt while you’re doing it. Hire whomever you need to get the job done. I’ve got it on very good authority you won’t have to worry about Supergirl interfering with any … operations. Now, do we have an understanding or shall I cancel the two-million-dollar retainer fee?” Max asked from his side of the jail’s attorney/client meeting room.

“I see. I didn’t realize you were prepared to … go to those lengths to win. In that case, I have some people to contact. With any luck we’ll ‘resolve’ some issues within the next week or two.” Travanti got up and knocked on the meeting room door. “I’ll be in touch.”

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

“Hey, buddy,” Adam called out to his brother as he rolled then dodged behind the cutout Carter was hiding behind, “I didn’t know you were this good at laser tag or I would have taken that big guy up on his bet.”

“This is so cool! Like being in a video game!” Carter was practically glowing with exuberance. “Watch my back – I’m going to take out the guy in the red shirt.”

Adam laid down cover fire as Carter sprinted out from their spot, zigged to his right then cut hard to his left. Carter took out the guy with the red shirt as Adam finished off his partner.

“Awesome! Can we play another round?”

“Not tonight, buddy boy,” Adam smiled as he and Carter turned over their equipment to one of the employees. “We have to get back to my apartment. Remember? Your dad said he was going to Skype you tonight. We can go again next week if you want.”

“That’d be great. Maybe we can get on one of those leagues,” Carter looked hopefully at Adam.

“I don’t think you’ll be here in Opal City long enough to join up with a league,” Adam shook his head. He hated to remind Carter about the upcoming trial. “You’ll be back in National City with your friends pretty soon. I bet there are places to play laser tag in National City. You could get one of your friends to team up with you and join a league there.”

“I don’t think mom would allow me to do something like that,” Carter lamented as he started to exit the building.

“Hey, hold on there. We wait until we see our ride. Okay?” Adam reminded him. I’ll be glad when this is over and we can both get back to our normal lives. I don’t mind hanging out with Carter, getting to know him, but I hate this cloak and dagger stuff. Max Lord wouldn’t dare do anything to Carter now. He’s already in enough trouble. “Oh, there it is, that’s our ride.”

The brothers walked over and got into the back seat of the black Lincoln MKZ.

“Hey, Mr. Smith,” Carter called to the bodyguard/driver. “Do you know how to play laser tag?”

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

“I don’t know what you said to her,” Richard Mazur nodded his head in the direction of Kara’s office, “but it worked. The past two weeks, actually since she started working the new schedule, her work has been exemplary.”

“Glad to hear it, Richard, not that I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ms. Danvers,” Cat waved her hand dismissively in Kara’s direction. “Starting Monday, however, she will be unavailable for the next few weeks. She will accompany me to Max Lord’s trial. Carry her on the payroll as usual.”

“Why? I mean she’s obviously settled in now. Heck, I can keep an eye on her if that’s what you’re worried about. I’ll make sure she’s okay. I’ll arrange for a cab to pick her up and take her home at the end of the day,” Mazur offered. He didn’t want to lose someone who was fast becoming his ‘go to’ junior editor.

“That won’t be necessary, Richard,” Cat’s eyes narrowed as she correctly surmised Mazur’s intention. “You’ll just have to muddle through until the trial is over. I’m sure she’ll be chomping at the bit to get back to work.”

“If you say so,” Mazur conceded and left the office.

Cat looked into Kara’s office, the furniture rearranged back into the original configuration, and observed a grim look on the face of ‘Sunny Danvers’. Damn super hearing! I’m sure she was listening to the whole exchange. Maybe she should stay at the DEO while this whole thing is going on. There’s no reason she has to relive everything she went through … listen to Max’s lawyer put a spin on it. God, it makes me sick to my stomach to even think about what it’s going to be like for Carter. I’ll talk to her at dinner tonight – see if she changed her mind about attending the trial with me. Director Henshaw said he’d send an agent to pick her up if she wanted to stay at the DEO.

“Ms. Grant?” Kara’s soft voice cut through Cat’s thoughts. Kara was standing in the doorway of her office. A determined look was etched into her features.

“Yes?”

“There’s no way you’re thinking about not taking me, is there? Leaving me, uh … elsewhere?”

“We’re alone,” Cat advised as she shut the door to her office. “The choice is yours, Kara. I’m not sure why you’d want to go but it is your decision. We can talk about this further over dinner tonight if you’d like. Tomorrow will be pretty hectic when Carter and Adam get into town. We’d also better discuss exactly what Carter and Adam are told about our living arrangement and your … injury.”

“Okay but I won’t change my mind about the trial. I need to be there, to hear him held accountable for what he did to you, to Carter, and all those innocent people.”

“And what about you? I doubt you’ll enjoy the spin Max’s lawyers will put on this,” Cat shook her head. “Supergirl won’t get a chance to refute the accusations laid against her. Are you sure you want to hear it? Max has enough money to make this trial very ugly – even if the prosecutor has all the proof and evidence needed for a conviction. He’s not going down without dragging as many people as he can with him and Supergirl is number one on his list.”

“Yeah, I know, but –”

A tapping on Cat’s glass door interrupted the conversation.

“Oh, it’s Rachel from payroll. Guess Richard made a stop on the way to his office. We’ll talk about this later,” Cat motioned for the woman to enter her office as Kara ducked back into her office.

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

“Here are the tablets, Ms. Miller,” Winn said reading the woman’s name tag who was inspecting his Catco employee badge. “Ms. Grant appreciates you allowing her assistant to use this space during the trial.”

“Call me Jill, please, and the cloak room hasn’t been used, well, in probably decades. It’s small, only a little bigger than a closet, are you sure Ms. Danvers won’t mind sitting in here during the trial?” Jill Miller, court clerk for the judge presiding over Max Lord’s criminal case, asked as she handed back his ID.

“All she needs is a small table and chair and she’ll be fine. The door’s vented so circulation shouldn’t be a problem and we can snake her power cord through the slats to the outlet next to the door. The door locks, right?” Winn asked as he examined the handle.

“Yes, she doesn’t have to worry – we won’t lock her in,” Jill hurriedly added.

“On the contrary, Ms. Grant, requests the door remained locked. She doesn’t want anyone walking in and scaring Ms. Danvers. If you have the key I can give it to Ms. Grant when I go back to the office.”

“In that case,” Jill pulled a key off of a large key ring and handing it to Winn, “here you are. The court officers also have a key to the cloak room so she can use mine.”

“Thank you,” Winn smiled at the clerk. “Ms. Grant was concerned her assistant would feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar open area.”

“Glad we could help out,” Jill said returning the smile. “Judge Sommers has always accommodated the … uh … handicapped.”

Winn lowered his voice conspiratorially, “You know, her assistant hasn’t been the same since the accident. Ms. Grant feels terrible about it – almost like it was her fault. She won’t let the girl out of her sight. At least, with these tablets, her assistant can still do her job and Ms. Grant can see and communicate with her. Your IT people have already checked them out – no way to link it to any outside devices or the internet and all other functions were deleted. I’ve slaved both tablets to each other on a frequency reserved for us by the … uh … police. They won’t interfere with any court business.

“So these are videophones?”

“Essentially, yes. Ms. Danvers can speak into hers and Ms. Grant will be able to read what she’s saying. Whatever Ms. Grant types into her tablet will be translated into audio form on Ms. Danvers’ tablet,” Winn explained. “If you don’t mind, I’ll lock these in the cloak room until there are needed Monday morning.”

“That’ll be fine,” Jill agreed as she watched Winn lock up the room then offered, “I’ll show you out. The court officers will stop you if they see you wondering around by yourself in a secured area.”

“Thanks,” Winn said as he was ushered into the public area of the court building. “I’ll see you Monday.”

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

“Winn said everything’s set for Monday. They’ve got a small room near the judge’s chambers for you to stay in. Has a door that locks so there’s no chance Max’s lawyers will see you,” James said as he entered Kara’s office. “You’re sure you want to do this? I mean, you don’t have to. You can work out of my office here at work or I can take some vacation time and we can hang out in your apartment.”

“Did Ms. Grant send you in here to talk me out of this?” Kara sighed.

“What? No … no! It’s just … this is going to be hard and … not fair to you. Max’s attorneys are going to say horrible things, lie, twist the truth until you won’t recognize it. You don’t get a chance to respond. Kara,” James said softly as he walked over and gently took one of her hands, “he has already hurt you so much – taken so much away from you. I don’t want him to have the opportunity to hurt you anymore.”

“Thanks, James,” Kara smiled in his direction. “I know it will hurt – bring up things I should try and forget but I have a duty to all of those innocent people who were hurt, for the families of those people who were killed. I know what Mr. Lord did was not my –”

“Why do you do that? I mean call him Mr. Lord. I’ve noticed you’ve called Max that a couple of other times.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize. Guess it’s just habit. Bad habit. I wasn’t allowed to address him by anything other than Mr. Lord or sir,” Kara brought her free hand up to fumble with her dark glasses.

“Hey, hey, hey. Don’t be upset. I’m sorry I asked,” James said recognizing Kara’s nervous tell and gently squeezed her hand. “I know it’s your decision to go to the trial but my offer still stands. Okay?”

“Okay, thanks. You’re the best, James Olsen,” Kara said as she made a show of sniffing the air, “and, if I’m not mistaken, there’s food from Mung Lei’s somewhere nearby.”

“Hah, you got me! I’ll bring it in and we can have a late lunch. Cat’s still tied up with the staff meeting. She wants to make sure everything runs smoothly while she’s … away. I don’t think she’ll be done anytime soon.”

“Not to change the subject but why aren’t you in the meeting? You are head of the Art Department and she even put you in charge of everything when she was gone before,” Kara asked and waited for an answer. Then prodded him when he didn’t answer. “James? What happened?”

“Right now is not the best –”

“James?”

“I’m going to testify in the trial also and … um, how much do you know about Max’s arrest?”

“Lucy told me you were there. You held him until the police arrived. Why?”

“Let’s just say I did more than ‘hold onto him’. We got into a fight after he detonated the bomb. I broke his nose and his jaw. The police, um, well I was arrested for assaulting him.”

“James! They shouldn’t have arrested you. You stopped –”

“I didn’t stop anything, Kara.” James admitted as he let go of her hand. “I could have stopped Max from blowing you up – he gave me the choice. You or the kids. I’m sorry. I had to choose the kids and, I’ve given this a lot of thought, I’d make the same choice if I had to do it again.”

“That’s because it’s the right choice,” Kara affirmed as she stood up and felt her way around her desk until she was standing next to James. She reached up until she until she could cup his face in her hands. “Thank you for making the right decision. I know how hard, how unfair, it is when there is no way to save everyone. I also know what it’s like to live with the consequences of those decisions. You’re a good man, James Olsen.”

The two hugged briefly before Kara stepped back and asked, “So you broke his nose and his jaw? You were arrested?”

“Yeah, I guess Ms. Grant made some calls. The criminal charges were dropped but Max’s attorneys have already filed a lawsuit against me. Catco’s attorneys are handling my case because I was working when I ‘apprehended the felon’ – Ms. Grant’s words, not mine. Anyway, I’m too close to this case. It’s better someone else who isn’t personally involved helm Catco during the trial. Peter was heading the Art Department while I was out pounding the pavement as a photojournalist. He’s representing the Art Department at the staff meeting.”

“But your career –”

“My career is just fine. Now, how about some of Mung Lei’s finest cuisine?” James suggested effectively curtailing any further discussion.

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

“Are you sure you don’t want anymore?” Kara asked Cat politely before finishing off the rest of the pasta.

“No, no, eat up. I’ve eaten more than I normally would,” Cat acknowledged taking a sip of water and cleared her throat. Time to get down to business. “We’ll be leaving at noon tomorrow to pick Adam and Carter up from the airport. I’ve talked to both of them about your loss of sight and gave them the general cover up story we’ve been using with everyone else but –”

“Carter’s smart. So’s Adam,” Kara cut in. “If they ask anything I’ll tell them I really don’t remember anything about my time in Nepal. At least that will be the truth and we won’t have to worry about keeping our stories straight.”

“Agreed. I was going to suggest something along those lines,” Cat nodded. “Now, the legal guardianship part.”

“That’s easy, you know both of my parents died, my sister isn’t able to help much due to her career, so you stepped forward … or I asked you for help,” Kara shrugged.

“You asked for help,” Cat cut in.

“Absolutely,” Kara’s head bobbed up and down in agreement. “I guess you must have felt, um, somewhat … guilty … as I was hurt while working on a story and you agreed without thinking it through.”

“I would never –”

“You saw me laying in that hospital bed, all messed up, and you caved when I asked. After all, someone had to pay the hospital bill and get me home and you were the only one there. Aside from my sister and foster mother, you’re the closest thing I have to family,” Kara continued with her spin. “I kind of manipulated you – Carter would buy that totally … not that I’ve ever really done –”

“Point taken, Kara,” Cat interjected before Kara could go on about how she never meant on purpose to manipulate her boss. “My son has backed me into a corner before.  He’ll figure you did the same and here we are. It will explain why I carved up the condo for you to have an apartment, too. Now, about the court proceedings –”

“James told me Winn has everything set up for Monday,” Kara volunteered. “I’ll tell Carter I’ve still got to work and need a quiet place.”

“And if he asks you to be in the courtroom while he testifies?"

“I’ll tell him I’m on the witness list and might be called to testify so I can’t be in the courtroom when he testifies,” Kara responded. “Anything else?”

“Not offhand, no.” Cat stood up signaling the dinner meeting was over.

“If you’ll excuse me I’m going to turn in early tonight,” Kara said as she cleared her place setting and carried it into the kitchen. “Thank you for dinner. I’ll be fine tomorrow, after we get back from the airport, I mean. I can call James or Winn over, you know, so you can go out.”

“Thank you but that won’t be necessary. We’re going to stay home this weekend. Carter’s been away for a long time,” Cat said almost wistfully then added, “I’m sure he’ll regal me with tall tales of his adventures like he does after summer camp. The boys may want to visit you if that won’t make you too uncomfortable. I mean with Adam. You know he has a girlfriend in Opal City, right?”

“I know and it’ll be fine,” Kara said reaching for the door handle to enter her apartment. “We’ve actually spoken on the phone a few times after he went back to Opal City. He’s a really good guy, Ms. Grant, and I’m happy he’s found someone he cares about. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Cat returned as she finished clearing her dishes. I’ll call Mr. Smith tonight to make sure everything is in place when the boys to arrive tomorrow. Once Carter testifies I won’t have to worry as much, at least that’s what Lucy said.

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

“Sunday afternoon,” the electrically modified voice said. “We can take out the mother and the son. We’ll make the fire look like an electrical failure. The elevators won’t work during a fire and the doors to the emergency stairway will be jammed. There won’t be any way to get out unless they jump. Either way, the kid won’t survive.”

“You’re sure none of this can be traced back to Mr. Lord or myself?” Travanti asked.

Chapter Text

“Mom!” Carter’s exuberant exclamation cut through the jet engine noise on the tarmac as he rushed down the stairs toward the two women standing outside a limousine.

“Be careful, Carter,” his mother admonished as she strode forward to meet him halfway. She enveloped him in a hug. He hugged her back with a fierceness that surprised her. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Carter nestled his head against his mother’s shoulder then gave her a quick peck on the cheek before awkwardly stepping out of the embrace. He glanced over Cat’s shoulder and saw Kara still standing next to the limousine door.

“How’s Kara?” Carter asked softly nodding in Kara’s direction.

“She’s adapting,” Cat answered. “There’ve been some rough spots but, all in all, she’s doing quite well. Where is – oh, there he is.”

Adam appeared at the airplane door shouldering a large duffel bag and suitcases in each hand. He smiled and nodded in Cat’s direction as he descended the stairway with the luggage. The driver of the limo, Tony, met him as he stepped onto the tarmac and took the bags from him. Cat watched the smile leave Adam’s face when he spied Kara. He glanced at his mother then, at her nod, went over to where Kara stood.

“Hi, Kara. It’s me, Adam – Adam Foster,” he said as he approached.

“Hi, Adam,” Kara smiled in Adam’s general direction. “How was your flight?”

“It was fine. The little twerp was bouncing off of the bulkheads. Guess he’s excited to be home,” Adam shrugged.

“I’m sure he had a blast with you in Opal City,” Kara said. “Something about laser tag?”

“Gotta say, the kid’s a natural,” Adam laughed. “I might have made some easy money hustling people if he’d stayed longer. Now, how about you? How are you dealing with, you know, your … uh, stuff?” he finished awkwardly.

“I’m … good,” Kara nodded. “Your mom’s been wonderful to me. I have a job, a great apartment, friends…”

“But?”

“No buts. I’m lucky, things could have turned out much worse,” Kara replied. “Who knows? Maybe my sight might come back one day. The doctors aren’t one hundred percent sure it won’t.”

“Really? Kara, that’s great news! Are you going to go to a specialist or –”

“She’s going to get back into the limousine,” Cat interrupted, “along with the rest of us. Tony can put the bags in the trunk.”

“Here, let me help you,” Adam started to say as Kara felt for the door handle.

“Let her do it,” Cat snapped then added, “she’s not helpless. She needs to –”

“Mom!” Carter sounded shocked, “Why are you –”

“Your mom’s right, Carter,” Kara explained sensing the real reason for the change in Cat’s demeanor had little to do with Adam helping her. While Cat made allowances, she still wasn’t happy with Kara’s morning ‘torture ritual’ as she termed it. Anything alluding to the practice was usually met with brusqueness. “I’ve got this. Not a problem.”

“I was just being a gentleman,” Adam frowned. “You know, manners? I was taught them.”

“Thank you, Adam. I do appreciate the gesture but right now your mom knows I’m working on being as independent as possible and yes, I know, you’re a gentleman,” Kara smiled at where she thought he was standing as she opened the car door. Come on, Cat, let it drop. You know it’s my only chance to get my sight back.

“I’m sorry,” Cat addressed Adam. “You’re right. I’ve gotten so used to correcting overprotective employees at the office it’s almost second nature to me now. It won’t happen again.”

“Apology accepted,” Adam said mollified. “I understand now. You’re only trying to do what’s best for Kara. Got it.”

“So, how was Opal City?” Cat changed the subject as she entered the limousine.

“It was pretty cool. They’ve got a great planetarium. Adam took me there a couple of times. Then there was this really awesome exhibit at the Museum of Natural History,” Carter enthused.

Kara smiled and listened as Carter described his ‘vacation’ in Opal City while Adam occasionally corrected or added a joking comment. She hadn’t realized how much of an impact Carter’s actual presence would have on her. It was as if a giant weight, one she didn’t even realize she carried, was lifted from her shoulders. Listening to him talk and laugh, safe from Maxwell Lord, kept her smiling the entire trip back.

“Who’s up for lunch?” Cat asked as the car stopped in front of the Madison Treymour.

“I’m starved!” Carter exclaimed with the fervor of a growing teenage boy. “We didn’t have a big breakfast.”

“And who’s fault is that, Mister ‘I just want to sleep for a few more minutes’?” Adam asked. “Yeah, I could use a bite to eat. You in, Kara?”

“No, thank you,” Kara answered as she exited the car. “I did eat a large breakfast and I have … plans for the afternoon.”

“Here’s your cane, Ms. Danvers,” Tony said gently taking Kara’s forearm and guiding the cane into her hand.

“Thanks, Tony,” Kara smiled as she accepted the cane.

Cat saw the stricken look shared between Carter and Adam. The dark glasses were one thing, like wrap around ski glasses, the actual red tipped white cane was something totally different, it screamed “this person is blind”. She doesn’t need them to treat her with kid gloves. She’s still Kara. I’ll have to have a talk with them this afternoon.

“Come on, you guys,” Kara called over her shoulder sensing the sudden awkwardness between Carter and Adam. “I still want to hear about the panda Opal City’s zoo has. Oh, and I hear they have a killer penguin exhibit. My sister says Opal City has a better zoo than National City does. You’ve been to both, Carter, what do you think?”

I should have known she would figure out a way to diffuse the tension. Cat shook her head as she watched Carter and Adam launch into an animated discussion over which zoo was the best and why. The debate continued until they exited the elevator on the top floor.

“Oh, there’s a longer hallway here now,” Carter said. “I guess that’s the door to your apartment down there?”

“Yes, it is. Would you like to take a tour before lunch?” Kara asked knowing Carter would be curious.

“Can we, mom?” Carter asked.

“Sure.” Cat then addressed Kara, “I’ll leave my side of the door unlocked, Kara. You can send the boys through there when you’re done. I suppose you’ll be busy the rest of the afternoon? You’re more than welcome to join us for dinner. Is six okay?”

“Thank you, Cat, but I’ve some things to catch up on,” Kara demurred.

“Suit yourself,” Cat answered back unlocking her door. Damn. I thought she’d agree to spend some time with the boys instead of trying to burn her eyes out. I’m beginning to believe Alex is right. It seems to cause more harm than good. “The invitation stands if you decide otherwise.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to join us for dinner?” Carter asked as the three walked down the hall to Kara’s door.

“I really do have some things I need to get done today,” Kara said as she unlocked and opened the door to her apartment. “Well, here it is. Your mom was extremely generous.”

“Wow!” Carter said as he looked around.

“Yeah, wow,” Adam agreed. “So, you two are on a first name basis now?”

“Yeah, I mean I still call her Ms. Grant at work and everything, but it’s Cat when we’re not there. Her suggestion,” Kara added. “She said she didn’t want to always feel like she was at the office.”

“Makes sense, I guess. I am kind of curious as to how she ended up as your legal guardian. I mean, there are plenty of blind people who don’t have legal guardians or anything like that. Why do you need one?

“There’s some stuff I don’t want to get into as to why I need a legal guardian,” Kara said then added, “You know I lost my parents years ago, my foster mom and sister are very busy with their careers right now, and Cat stepped in and offered to help me. I consider myself extremely blessed she did.”

“I guess I didn’t picture her as the type to –”

“I really don’t want to talk about it anymore, if that’s okay with you,” Kara said. Stop prying, Adam. I don’t want to tell you any more lies.

“Sorry, Kara, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” Adam apologized. “Why don’t you show us the rest of the apartment then we’ll get out of your hair.”

Twenty minutes later Kara shut and locked her side of the kitchen door leading to Cat’s apartment. She again declined invitations to lunch or dinner knowing, from experience, it was unwise to eat before exposing her eyes to the sun and she wouldn’t feel like eating for some time afterward.

Let’s get this show on the road. The sun feels so good on my face right now. Rao, please guide me.

Kara slipped into a meditative state as she prepared to remove her sunglasses and protective eye inserts. The weekend sessions on her balcony were always longer and infinitely more painful as she tried to expose her eyes as long as possible to the sun. She still held out hope of burning out whatever Max Lord placed in the bomb.

Hours later, her head still threatening to explode, Kara heard a knock then someone enter her apartment. Oh no. Not tonight, please don’t tell me James or Winn decided to come over.

Kara sat up in her bed, careful to keep her head as still as possible, and fumbled for her dark glasses. Putting in the protective eye inserts was beyond her pain threshold at the moment. The dark glasses were enough. Kara learned, through a particularly painful past experience, to totally cover all of her apartment windows before exposing her eyes to the sun. Afterward, it was all she could do to muster the strength to close the blackout curtain over the balcony door.

“I’m coming,” Kara winced as the sound of her own voice grated her ears. “James? Winn? Is that you?”

“Uh, no ma’am,” said an unknown male voice. “I’m from maintenance.”

“I didn’t call anyone from maintenance,” Kara said as she walked toward the voice. “Why are you here and why didn’t you wait until I answered the door? This isn’t a good time for me.”

“Sorry, ma’am. We received a work order from Ms. Grant that a light in the kitchen needs replacing. You know Ms. Grant, when she wants something done she wants it done yesterday. It shouldn’t take me too long. I’d appreciate it if you’d let me fix it. I don’t want to get into any trouble with my boss.”

Kara let out a sigh, “I don’t want you to get in trouble. Go ahead and fix the light. Next time, though, please don’t come into my apartment unless I let you in.”

“I apologize, ma’am. Tenants have a clause in their contract allowing maintenance entry into their apartments for work orders. I am sorry for startling you. You sort of startled me too. The boss said you’d probably be in Ms. Grant’s condo visiting. I hear her boy came back after a long trip. He’s a good kid. Anyway, I’ll let the boss know to call up and confirm with you before sending anyone in next time. Okay?”

“Yeah, that’ll be fine.” I really don’t feel like letting him do this. I didn’t know the light was out … guess either Carter or Adam said something to Cat and she called maintenance knowing they’d come right up. Her way of voicing her disapproval of my ‘torture ritual’, I suppose. Still, she should have given me a heads up.

“So, you’re blind?” the man asked as he started to work. “I mean, you’re wearing those glasses inside and everything. I have a cousin who’s blind. Uses a leader dog to get around. You got a dog?”

“Nope. No dog.” Rao, my head is splitting in two. I really don’t feel like making small talk. Maybe I’ll take Cat’s advice and skip a day tomorrow. Go see Alex at the DEO if Lucy will let me.

“Okay, all set. Works great. See? Didn’t take long at all,” the man said. “Listen, sorry for earlier. It won’t happen again. Have a good day, ma’am.”

Kara followed the man to the door and locked it behind him. I think I’m going to puke … yeah, definitely take tomorrow off. Maybe talk to Cat. I don’t like people I don’t know coming into my apartment even if they work in the building. She should understand that. Damn, my head hurts.

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

“Yeah, the intel was right on the money. Blind girl in the apartment. Bitch had no idea what I was doing. Waltzed in without a problem. I’ll leave the maintenance guy’s body in the stairwell. Let the fire take care of it. They’ll figure he was trying to be a hero and help Grant escape the fire … yep it’ll look exactly like an electrical fire. The remote will be totally consumed in the fire… nah, ain’t worried about the girl. She’ll burn with everyone else and no one will ever know about the visit from maintenance… yeah, the security camera’s all went on the fritz today … nothing got recorded… well, that’s why you pay me the big bucks. ‘Cause I’m the best. Shouldn’t take more than five minutes and the whole floor will be in flames. No one’s going to make it out of there alive.”

The ‘maintenance man’ from Kara’s apartment hung up his cell phone, crushed it under his boot, then threw the remnants in the trash compactor. He looked over at the stripped body of the Madison Treymour’s on call maintenance man.

“Sorry, man. Just business, you know? Time to get you into the freight elevator and up to the top floor. You’ll be remembered as a hero, you know, not such a bad way to go out.”

Chapter Text

“That’d be great! I can’t wait to see you. It’s Sunday, Winn isn’t working so I’ll give him a call and ask him to pick you up. I’m sure he won’t mind.” Alex said into the phone. Lucy can’t say no to this. No one will see Kara here talking with me. It’s the perfect solution. “No, don’t worry, I’ll ask Lucy before I call Winn. I love you, Kara. See you soon.”

“Who is that?”

Alex turned to see Director Henshaw standing in the doorway of her lab with his arms folded across his chest. He didn’t look happy.

“Kara, you know, my sister. The one I haven’t seen in, like, forever. It’s Sunday, Cat’s got both Adam and Carter to keep her company, and Kara wants to spend some time with me. Here. At the DEO. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t even have to pick her up. Winn will do the honors,” Alex tried not to sound as defensive as she felt. Confident, sound confident, and he won’t ask Lu-

“Did you run this little visit by Major Lane?”

“Uh, no. Was going to do that. Yep, right before I asked your permission.”

“Humph. Have Lucy give me a call when you see her. I want to make sure we follow all of her instructions to the letter,” Hank turned to leave then called over his shoulder, “Have Kara stop in to see me when she’s here. I’d like to see her too.”

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

“Hey, Winn, come on in. I’ve made us some pancakes,” Kara said as she held the door for him.

“Boy, they smell really good. Sure, count me in for a stack.”

“I figured it was the least I could do. I appreciate you taking the time on your off day to drive me to the DEO,” Kara said as she placed syrup on the table.

“Schott chauffeur service at your beck and call,” Winn joked then grew serious, “Alex is driving everyone crazy. I heard Hank threaten her with either a full on sparring session or a ‘time out’ in a cell if she didn’t straighten out. She is so worried about you.”

“I don’t see why. She saw me at the office. She knows Cat is keeping a close eye on me … making sure I’m okay.

“I think it has to do with the whole ball of wax, Kara,” Winn said pouring himself some coffee, “from the time Max Lord captured you until now. She didn’t tell me straight out but my guess is she feels guilty she couldn’t figure out a way of freeing you sooner. She’s still spending every second she can in her lab trying to figure out how to restore your eyesight. She needs to take a breather or she’s gonna flame out.”

“I know. That’s one reason I need to see her – to let her know I’m okay with … everything. Carter came home from Opal City yesterday,” Kara reached out until she felt Winn’s forearm and squeezed it gently. “It was worth it. Made everything worth it. Listening to him talk and joke when I went … months? … hearing him scream in pain whenever I screwed up. I wanted to hug him so badly but I was afraid I’d start crying and we both know how Cat feels about that.”

“Yeah, well, …” Winn cleared his throat, “let’s get this mess cleaned up and get going.”

“Let me call Cat first. Let her know I’m going with you to the DEO,” Kara said.

Winn watched Kara’s happy face darken after spending several minutes on the phone.

“I’ll be with Winn. You can trust him. Lucy even signed off on it. Call her and ask her. Please, I won’t be gone too long,” Kara begged then a smile lit up her face. “Thank you, Ms. Grant … Cat. I won’t be gone too long. By four o’clock and no later. Dinner with you and the boys at five. Got it.”

Kara ended the call, “I’ll clean up everything later, Winn. Let’s go.”

“You don’t … have a curfew or anything, do you? I mean you are a grown adult,” Winn said clearing the dishes from the table.

“I do, actually. I have to be back at four o’clock.”

“Isn’t she taking this legal guardian thing a little too far?”

“She’s just worried about the trial tomorrow,” Kara explained. “I understand and I’m not complaining. If it wasn’t for her I’d be stuck living at the DEO and she has been pretty terrific through this whole thing.”

“You get your purse while I’ll rinse these off and get them in the dishwasher. Never let it be said Winn Schott Jr. doesn’t appreciate a home cooked meal every once in a while.”

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

“Thanks, Lucy,” Alex said as she poked her head into Lucy’s office.

Lucy looked up from what could only be described as a barely organized mess of papers, “Yeah, sure thing … actually, I was hoping to ask Kara a few more questions while she was here.”

“Oh, um … I’m sure she’ll be happy to help you out,” Alex said shaking her head as she walked away. Really Lucy? You could go visit Kara anytime you wanted and now you want to horn in on my time with her.

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

“Supergirl!” The delight in Alex’s voice was apparent. “Great to have you back even if it is just for a visit. Let me take you to the hologram room.”

Kara took the hint and stayed in Supergirl character until she heard the door close behind them in the hologram room.

“Alex, it’s so good to be here with you!” Kara practically squealed as she hugged her sister. “Oh, my gosh, I have so many things to tell you. How’s your leg? It didn’t sound like you were walking with a cast or anything.”

“The leg’s healing fine. Still a little tender but the doc said everything looks good. I even got the cast off a little early. Other than that, it’s the same old, same old,” Alex said then added, “Hank said you can spend the night here if you want. It’ll give us more time to catch up and Winn can drive you to the courthouse tomorrow morning.”

“I can’t, Alex. I have to be back at four o’clock,” Kara groaned. “I promised Cat I’d be there for dinner.”

“You can have dinner with her some other time. I’m sure she won’t mind. Give her a call and let her know you’ll spend the night here, safe and sound.”

“Alex, I’d love to spend more time with you but I promised Cat I’d be there.”

“So, your choosing her –”

“No. It’s not like that at all, okay? You know Lucy had her sign a bunch of papers when she agreed to be my legal guardian. I didn’t find out until later how much trouble she’d be in if I screwed up or all the hoops she has to jump through every day to give me a place to live outside the DEO. Did you know she has to report into Vasquez or whoever is manning the communication hub twice a day confirming my whereabouts? To prove I hadn’t gone rogue or anything? I mean, why didn’t you guys just put a damn tracker on me or something.”

Alex was quiet.

“Oh, you did, didn’t you? Why didn’t you tell me? Why make Cat call in twice a day?”

“That’d be my fault, Kara,” Lucy said as she stepped through the doorway. “Cat doesn’t know you have a tracker embedded and neither did you. It was our way of making sure she was holding up her end of the bargain.”

“Cat would never –”

Lucy held up her hand to stop Kara’s tirade then, realizing her mistake, continued talking, “You need to listen, Kara. I know Cat’s an honorable person. I never doubted she wouldn’t comply one hundred percent with whatever demands the DEO placed on your … release. Hank, on the other hand, has to report to people who don’t know your identity or who you’re living with. They require some proof. As long as the tracker and Cat’s call come from a location within three hundred feet everything is fine. Before you ask, nothing is recorded as far as location, just the proximity between you and Cat. Only Winn or Vasquez can track you – just so you know. Winn wrote some algorithm only the two of them understand.”

“Oh,” Kara digested the information. “Wait, where is the tracker? How did … my leg, right?”

“Yeah, your leg. Doc Hamilton put it in – was ordered to put it in,” Alex admitted. “Once the politicians heard mom figured out a way of treating your skin they panicked, you know, thinking you’d do the revenge thing. We weren’t supposed to tell you, sorry.”

“Can you take it out? Today? Like right now?”

“No can do. Word has to come from Washington. Period.” Lucy said with finality.

The room was silent for a few minutes while Kara mulled over the information.

“Okay, fine, whatever. Not like I’m going anywhere anyways,” Kara let out a sigh.

“Listen, Kara, I need to ask you a few follow up questions for the case. I just want to confirm -” Lucy started.

“Sorry, Lucy, not today. I don’t have a lot of time and I want to spend it visiting with Alex, okay?”

“Uh … sure,” Lucy said noting the determined look on Kara’s face. “Enjoy your visit and see you in court tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” Alex said after Lucy had left the room. “I’ve really missed you, Kara.”

“Double for me … now tell me about Winn and Vasquez. Are they seeing each other? She’s all he seemed to talk about on the drive here.”

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

“Thanks for the ride, Winn,” Kara said as she ushered him out of her apartment. “Why don’t you take Susan to that new Sci-Fi movie tonight? Alex seems to think she’d go, with you, I mean.”

“Really? Guess I’m one step ahead of your sister. Picked up the tickets while you were visiting. Seven o’clock show. Ought to be … fun,” Winn said as he gave Kara a brief hug. “Enjoy your dinner with the Grants. See you tomorrow.”

“Have fun,” Kara said closing the door to her apartment. Wow, something smells … off … in that hallway. Like rotting meat. Well, not going to call maintenance now … maybe it’s my sensitive Kryptonian nose. I’ll wait and see if Cat mentions it at dinner. I’ve got about an hour. Think I’ll lay down for a few minutes.

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

Gotta say, no one pays attention to what anyone wearing a maintenance uniform is doing. Free range of the building. Cool. One more adjustment to make. There we go, nice and quiet. Put the bar across the doorway and attach rope around the door handle and tie it snug to the bar. Good. They can pull all day on that door and it ain’t gonna budge. No need to bother with the blind girl’s door – not getting paid for her. Damn, that guy in the stairwell is starting to smell ripe. Oh, well, won’t matter pretty soon. Take the freight elevator back down … okay, four forty-five on the dot. Shift change for Fire Station 47. Time to take care of business and get back to Gotham. The man activated a remote-control sensor from the maintenance room of the Madison Treymour. A red light appeared confirming ignition. Payday! Time to go outside and watch the show.

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

“Carter, could you please set the table for dinner,” Cat called from the kitchen. “Kara should be here any minute.”

“Sure, mom, dining room or –”

“Dining room is fine,” Cat said as she checked the oven. Odd, yes, I turned it off. Smells like something is burning. Stove’s off. “Carter, don’t light any candles. We’re not dining that formal tonight.”

“Aw, mom, you take the fun out of everything,” Carter joked back as he finished placing the silver next to the plates. “Hey, Adam, no fair messing with the controls when I’m not in there! I won that last game fair and square.”

“Sure you did, twerp, after you bumped my arm,” Adam replied from the living room. “I want a rematch after dinner. No one cheats Adam Foster and gets away with it. You need any help with the table?”

“Nah, got it. Maybe mom needs some help in the kitchen. Kind of smells like she burned the roast or something.” Carter wrinkled his nose. It doesn’t smell like burnt meat. I hope she didn’t mess up the broccoli again.

“Carter, I said not to light candles for the table,” Cat said as she exited the kitchen door into the formal dining room carrying a large bowl of salad. She stopped frowning at the table. Where are the candles?

“I heard you. I wasn’t going to light any,” Carter replied as a sudden roaring sound came from kitchen.

“What the hell?!” Cat turned toward the kitchen door as the roaring grew louder.

“Fire!” Adam yelled from the living room as flames licked out from the kitchen.

“Everyone out, now!” Cat yelled as she grabbed Carter by the arm and ran toward the front door. “Come on, Adam!”

“Right behind you!”

Cat unlocked the door and pulled to open it. Nothing happened. She pulled again. Rechecked the locks.

“It’s stuck! I can’t get it open!”

“Here, let me try!” Adam stepped in front of Cat as the roaring and heat of the fire intensified. He pulled on the door handle. Nothing happened. He kicked then threw himself at the thick wood door. It remained immobile. He continued his frantic assault on the door as the thick toxic smoke filled the condo.

“We have to get to the balcony,” Cat coughed her voice already roughened by the smoke. “Get down on the ground. Crawl and try not to breath in too much of the smoke. Carter, put your shirt around your nose and mouth, you too, Adam! Keep together. Low, stay low!”

The three made their way to the balcony. Adam reached up, unlatched the lock, and slid the door open.

“Hurry! Quick! Close the door!” Cat coughed from where she sat sprawled on the balcony deck.

Adam slid the door closed and looked at Cat, “We’ve just delayed the inevitable, you know. There’s no place to go.”

“SUPERGIRL! SUPERGIRL! SUPERGIRL!” Carter began to yell at the top of his lungs.

“Carter! Stop it! She’s not coming! She left –”

Adam was interrupted by Cat who also started to yell, “SUPERGIRL! SUPERGIRL! SUPERGIRL!”

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

Kara could hear the roar of the flames as well as the heat from the fire. She cursed herself for taking the short nap after Winn had dropped her back at her apartment. I can hear their heartbeats! They’re alive! Can’t use freeze breath on the fire right now – it’ll blow the flames at them. Where are they? Sounds like … they’re moving … further away from the front door. Oh, they’re on the balcony. I’ve got to – Supergirl? He’s yelling for Supergirl? After everything he’s gone through because of me? I’m coming for you, Carter. I won’t let you down.

Kara went out to her balcony and slowly levitated keeping her left hand in contact with the building. So far, so good. Now just follow the building around to Cat’s balcony and …

“Supergirl!” Carter exclaimed.

“Hurry,” Kara said, “Cat, Carter, I can hold you. Yeah, like that. Now Adam, put your arms around me. Hold on tight. Here we go.”

Kara gently lifted off of the balcony with her cargo. After a few seconds, she instructed, “Cat, guide me to a balcony that’s safe for you then I’ll go back and put out the flames.”

Cat guided Kara to a balcony several floors below. Adam immediately let go of Kara as soon as his feet touched the balcony while Carter hugged her tight and whispered, “Thanks, Supergirl” in her ear.

“This will be fine. Don’t bother going back up to put out the fire. The building was built with firewalls in between the floors and I just heard the fire suppression sprinkler system kick on. A bit late, I might add,” Cat coughed several times. “The fire department can handle the cleanup. In the meantime, do you think you can get us into this condo? Bill and Dorothy are vacationing in Spain. I’m sure they won’t mind if we just walk through.”

“Uh, sure,” Kara said as she felt around for the door handle. “You’re sure this is their place?”

“Of course, I’m sure. I’ve looked at that god-awful statue Bill’s nephew made him for ten years now. Dorothy won’t let him put it in the house so the rest of us have to put up with his lack of talent.”

Kara recognized the overly cavalier way Cat was handling the situation. She’s scared out of her wits and trying not to show it. She’s trying to keep Carter and Adam from totally freaking out – not that I’d blame them if they did. Adam hasn’t said a word since we landed here.

“Hey, Adam,” Kara turned to where she thought he was standing, “you okay?”

“Um, no, not okay. I know I owe you my life, I’ll thank you for that, but I’d appreciate it you’d stay the fuck away from me from now on Kara or Supergirl or whatever the hell your name is, alien!”

Chapter Text

“Adam!” Cat’s voice was thick with disapproval. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Nothing - nothing at all except maybe I see now how it really is with you!” Adam shot back. “You didn’t have time for me when I was growing up but you open your home – hell, spend a lot of money – to make an apartment for her? She’s the reason Carter was hurt, the reason I had to put my life on hold to babysit him for months and I bet she's the reason we almost died in that fire. Your concerned about her? Did you know she was a fucking alien when I went out with her? Didn’t you think it would make a difference to me? You could tell Carter but you couldn’t tell me? Thanks for nothing. Hey, alien, open up this door so I can get the hell out of here.”

Kara, too hurt and stunned by Adam’s outburst to say anything, moved to comply.

“No Kara, don’t,” Carter said quietly then turned to his brother, “We need to talk this out right now. I know your girlfriend’s father is a big shot in the anti-alien movement and I know for a fact you and she don’t agree with him. Remember? I was there when you two were discussing how xenophobic people make you sick. You even used Supergirl as an example of a good alien. Now you’re treating her as treating her as badly as Mr. Patterson would. That’s not you. I think you’re just scared.”

“You don’t know anything, golden child,” Adam spat sarcastically.

“Hold it right there, Adam,” Cat warned. “Before you say one more –”

“It’s okay, mom,” Carter assured her. “Adam and I got to know each other pretty well over the summer. This isn’t him – not really. It’s … well, he doesn’t like being kept in the dark, you know, kept out of the loop. He wants to feel like he belongs – like you trust him, accept him. Remember what you said, Adam? When mom asked you to keep me safe? How good it felt she trusted you, even over my dad, to watch out for me? Like you were really part of her family - her son too?”

Adam answered with a barely audible, “Yeah.”

Cat, still looking upset, opened her mouth but she bit back her comment after a pointed look from Carter.

“I’m telling you the absolute truth, Adam. Mom never told me Kara was Supergirl. Not ever! Kara never told me either. I figured it out myself during art class. We had to do pencil portraits and I decided to do Supergirl. I was almost done when one of the kids in my class “accidentally” bumped my arm and drew a line over one of the eyes. It looked familiar and I couldn’t figure out why until he laughed and asked if I was going to put glasses on Supergirl. I never said anything to mom – to anyone. I don’t know when Kara told mom she was Supergirl … or when mom figured it out for herself, she is pretty smart,” Carter smiled at his mom.

“For the record, Adam,” Cat jumped in, “I never told Carter about Kara.”

Adam barely glanced at Cat and nodded.

“I know I was scared. I mean, I really thought we were going to die. Sometimes people say things under stress they don’t really mean,” Carter continued. “It’s a way of fighting back … trying to take back some control by lashing out against someone else.”

Adam remained silent and Carter watched as different emotions warred across his face. Now for ‘the win’ as my debate teacher would say.

“It’s not the most incredibly mature reaction and, now that you’ve a chance to think, you feel bad about what you said. Right? Wish you could take back the words?”

Adam dropped his head and nodded.

“Kara’s still blind, you know,” Carter chided.

“Uh, Kara … Carter’s right. I was way out of line. I don’t know why I said what I did. I guess Carter was right and I was scared, really scared, but it was stupid and wrong for me to blame you … hurt you, like that,” Adam apologized. “And, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d have known you were an alien. I still would have asked you out. You’re smart and funny and nice and really care about people. I’m an idiot.”

“Yes, you are,” Cat said, still not mollified by Adam’s apology. “I realize we will always have issues between us but my decisions in regards as to whom I open my –”

“Cat, please!” Kara still looked stricken. “Can we … forget about this. At least for now. I’m going to see if I can’t put the fire.”

“No. Don’t. Adam and I will have our talk later, in private,” Cat looked over and arched an eyebrow at Adam, “right, Adam?”

“Yeah and … I owe an apology to you, too. I shouldn’t have –”

“Save it for later,” Cat shook her head. “Right now, we need to get off of this balcony before anyone spots us. Kara, would you do the honors?”

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

Several hours later, Cat, Carter, Adam and Kara were seated around a television in Lucy’s apartment.

“You’re absolutely certain this is okay?” Cat asked.

“Think of it as protective custody,” Lucy responded from the kitchen. “I’ve already talked to the fire chief. Nothing will be released about the fire until tomorrow. Whoever is responsible won’t know there were any survivors until it’s too late and the trial’s underway. No one else knows you’re here except James, the prosecutor and a few handpicked people at the DEO. We’re not taking any more chances.”

“Don’t they have safe houses for things like this?” Adam asked.

“You watch too much television,” Lucy smiled. “Normally we’d put someone up in a hotel room under an assumed name with a couple of guards. That’s not going to cut it when ‘The Queen of all Media’ walks through the door after she’s believed dead in a tragic fire. Sorry, Cat.”

“This is more than fine, Lucy,” Cat said glancing at Adam. “Thank you for your hospitality.”

“Yes, thank you,” Adam quickly added. “I feel bad we’re putting you out. That’s what I meant to say. I’m sorry if it sounded otherwise – today’s not a good day for me to talk so I think I’m going to shut up now.”

Lucy cocked her head, studying the group. The same tension she felt when she picked them up a block from the fire, the tension she assumed was from their narrow escape, never dissipated. Odd. Kara is really quiet. I don’t think she’s said more than a sentence or two since I picked her up. Cat keeps looking over at Adam – I’ve seen that look before … usually it means someone’s head is on the chopping block. Something not very good happened.

“James is stopping by Catco to pick up that fabulous Narciso Rodriguez gray sheath dress in you keep there as a backup. Yes, before you ask, he’ll bring the heels too. Winn and Vasquez were already at the mall watching some movie and volunteered to pick up a suit for Carter and something a little more casual for Adam. Is that okay?” Lucy asked Adam.

“Absolutely. Thank you,” Adam nodded.

Okay, no smiling. Everyone is so serious. I mean, I realize they were lucky to escape the fire but Cat’s not one to hold onto drama this long and Kara? She hasn’t smiled once. Not once. Even when I mentioned James was bringing pizza. What the heck is going on?

“What about Kara?” Carter asked.

“I’m fine, Carter, really. Don’t worry about me, Lucy,” Kara responded quickly. “I can wear this tomorrow. It won’t really matter since I’ll be spending the day away from where people can see me.”

“Um, no, it isn’t fine, Kara,” Cat retorted. “Lucy, would you ask James to bring the green garment bag also? I took the liberty of keeping a change of clothing for Kara at the office since she … got back. I do like to be prepared for any emergency.”

“Thank you, Ms. Grant,” Kara replied solemnly.

‘Ms. Grant?’ Lucy’s eyebrows shot up. What happened to ‘Cat’? Why isn’t Cat telling her to not to call her Ms. Grant outside of the office like she always does? What the hell happened?

“I’ll give James a call, ask him to pick up the garment bag too,” Lucy agreed. “He’s going to meet Winn and Vasquez at the mall, grab the pizza then head over here.”

No one said anything. Lucy sighed, “At least we know the news crews didn’t get there in time to film Kara saving you. Nothing’s shown up yet on the internet, either, so I guess your secret is still safe, Kara.”

Kara nodded and fiddled with her glasses, “I hope so.”

“Kara, I’m not going to tell anyone. I promise,” Adam said. “I’m sorry for what I’ve said. I hurt you and I was wrong … and stupid. I won’t hurt you anymore.”

“It’s okay, Adam,” Kara nodded. “It’s just … you have to understand what could happen If you tell anyone.  My sister, my foster mom, my friends will be put in danger. Exactly what Max Lord did to Carter. He knows who I am and used Carter, threatened to kill him, unless I did exactly what he wanted. What would I have done if he told me to kill someone? I thought about that every day. How would I make that choice? Could you make that choice?”

“I don’t think I could make a choice like that. I’d rather kill myself than do –”

“That wasn’t an option open to her, Adam,” Cat’s voice was low.

Lucy finally decided to put her two cents in, “I won’t pretend to know what was said earlier but I can tell you Max fully intended to –”

“That’s enough,” Cat interrupted willing Lucy to shut up in front of Carter. “I trust you understand the point, Adam. Why it’s important for Kara’s identity to remain secret.”

“Yes, I get it. I swear I’ll never tell anyone and I mean it, Kara. I am sorry,” Adam sounded sad.

Well this isn’t the conversation I thought we’d have tonight. Better call James before he gets to Catco. Hopefully things are going smoother with him.

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

“Yeah, Luce, I’m pretty sure they got the right size suit for Carter. Winn’s a pro at that sort of stuff – ask Kara. I’ll be there in about ten minutes,” James said into his hands-free phone. “I can bring everything up in a couple of trips. Oh, and tell Kara I picked up an extra pizza for her. See you soon.”

Several minutes later James parked his car in front of Lucy’s apartment building.

“Hey, James, long time no see. You and Lucy back together again?” the doorman asked. “You know you can’t park there, right?”

“I’ll move it to the back in a few minutes. Have some stuff to unload.”

“You moving in again?”

“No, man. Just having some pizza with her. Brought some of her stuff over from my apartment. We’re still friends,” James smiled. Geez bro, get a life!

“Friends with benefits or not?”

“Ah, one never knows,” James hurriedly walked past the doorman carrying the pizza and several garment bags. “I’ll be back down in a second.”

“Benefits?” Lucy asked as she met James in the lobby.

“That guy’s a creep,” James said shaking his head.

“Ron’s been here forever – at least that’s what the other tenants say. He’s nosy but has a heart of gold. Here, let me grab the pizza,” Lucy offered as they waited for the elevator. “You’d better be careful with those clothes. That dress alone cost more than you make in a week. I heard that –”

“HEY! You can’t go in there!” The Ron yelled as the elevator doors opened.

James turned around as a man carrying a handgun, complete with silencer, pistol whipped Ron in the head. The doorman fell to his knees dazed, bleeding from the head, then wrapped his arms around his assailant’s legs causing the man to fall to the floor.

“LUCY – get on the elevator now!” James maneuvered his body in front of hers as he pushed her into the waiting car.

Lucy heard two muted shots and James sprawled on the elevator floor next to her. Blood staining the back of his white dress shirt.

“JAMES, NO!”

“Close the doors!” James panted. “Ahh! This shit hurts. Listen, Lucy, … call Kara. See if she can meet us at the elevator or something … that guy … he was aiming for you.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t call Kara. I left my phone in the apartment,” Lucy said as she frantically hit the ‘door close’ button on the control panel. The doors were almost closed when she heard footsteps running to the elevator. She rolled flat against the elevator wall ready to attack if the gunman tried to enter. James still laid where he fell. Oh no, please no! The elevator doors closed. Lucy fell to her knees beside James. No time to render first aid. “James, where’s your phone?”

“In … car … charging.” James was struggling for each breath. “Call … Kara … my watch … hurry …. arrggh.”

Lucy studied James’ wristwatch, figured out the catch, and pressed the House of El symbol. The elevator started toward the fifth floor.

This is no better than a panic button - she doesn’t know what’s going on and she can’t see. She won’t know what the problem is until it’s too late. The guy could shoot right around her and she wouldn’t know. What if he beats us to one of the other floors and hits the elevator button? He could finish us off then – we won’t stand a chance. Damn it, the one time I don’t have my phone. If he’s here to shoot me he must know what floor I live on. Dumb luck I was in the lobby when he came in. First Cat’s fire then this? Has to tie into Lord’s case tomorrow. How can I warn Kara? I’ll try what James did before – please, it has to work!

“Kara, if you can hear me. James has been shot. We’re on the elevator. The guy has a gun – he tried to shoot me. I think it has to do with Max Lord and that means he knows what floor I live on – what apartment I live in. Keep Cat and Carter safe. Call the police – let them know about the gunman and that James was shot. I don’t think you can help us – concentrate on keeping Carter and Cat safe – that’s what’s important.”

Okay, past the second floor without stopping.

“Lucy … take my shoes off … yours too. Use them … use anything you can … to throw at… that guy … fox his aim … run if you can, ‘kay?”

“James –”

“Don’t worry ‘bout …me. He’s after … you. I’ll play … dead. He won’t … care about … me. Get away.” James panted.

Third floor, I hear footsteps running toward the elevator … someone’s stabbing at the elevator button … we made it! Still going up. The stairwells are at the ends of the hallway – I don’t think he’ll be able to catch us on the fourth floor … if that was him on the third floor. Maybe I should hit the button for the fourth floor.

“James – I’m going to hit the button for the fourth floor. Get off there. Then run down the stairwell,” Lucy said as she hit the button for the fourth floor. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t … be. Save yourself. I … mean it. Love … you, Lucy. Now go,” James said as the doors to the elevator opened on the fourth floor.

Lucy stepped off the elevator and threw herself back slamming the door close button as a bullet narrowly missed her head.

Close, door, close! Please close! He’s not coming down the hall – he knows the elevator has to stop on the fifth floor now.

“Lucy?”

“He was waiting at the fourth-floor stairwell – took a shot at me from down the hall,” Lucy explained.

“Shit!”

“Yeah, guess this is gonna be it. Love you too, James – even though we didn’t work out … still love you,” Lucy admitted.

“Just … survive, Luce …don’t let … bastard win.”

Now we’re sitting ducks. Have to get ready to attack – flatten myself against the wall next to the elevator controls. Be ready if he leads with his gun – at least I’ll have a better chance – maybe knock it out of his hand. He won’t know I’ve had basic hand to hand combat – I hope. If he stands back and waits for the doors to completely I’ll tuck myself into the corner – make him come and get me. I won’t stand a chance unless he gets close enough for me to at least try and go for his gun – the elevator doors close too slow.

Sweat trickled down Lucy’s forehead and her back. She took several deep breaths to calm herself as she felt the elevator settle onto the fifth floor. The doors opened slowly.

This is it!

Chapter Text

Kara sat quietly, shoulders slightly hunched forward, listening as Lucy left her apartment to meet James in the lobby. The tension was palpable. She could almost feel the waves of disapproval emanating from Cat. It didn’t make it any easier knowing she wasn’t the focus. Adam was silent, not moving, while Carter was fidgeting from the tension between his mom and half-brother.

What Adam had said hurt. A lot. His apology and promise not to out her as Supergirl did little to negate the damage of his initial outburst. His words hit her harder, she realized, because she did like him. She enjoyed the time they spent together prior to Bizarro making her appearance.

Suck it up, Kara. He apologized and you’re gonna have to trust him not to tell the world you are – or were – Supergirl. If he does … well, maybe I’ll sic Alex on him. The thought of her protective big sister made her smile as she recovered some of her natural good humor. Yeah, I can see Alex totally ruining his day. She’d enjoy it, too.

“Mom, we need to talk about this some –”

Carter was cut off by Cat, “Not now. Later. In private.”

Kara didn’t need her eyesight to know Cat was looking in her direction. Kara bit back a sigh. I’m sorry, Cat. I’ll keep my distance. I don’t want you to feel you have to choose between me and Adam. There’s no choice – he’s your son. You two were finally starting to build a relationship – don’t blow it because of what he said about me. I’ll be okay.

Kara took in a breath and held it before slowly letting the air leave her lungs. Focus on something else. Anything else. Wonder what Lucy’s going to tell James about our adventure tonight?

Kara frowned as she concentrated on what she heard in the lobby. Someone’s shooting at Lucy? Wait, that’s the signal from James’ watch. Kara abruptly stood up startling the other occupants in the room.

“What’s going on?” Adam asked.

Kara cocked her head. She wasn’t listening to him.

“Mom, something’s going on – she’s turning into Supergirl,” Carter observed sounding awed and a little wary.

“Cat – someone shot James. He and Lucy are in the elevator on the way up here right now. Call the police. The gunman is trying to shoot Lucy – has to do with the trial. I’m going to see if I can’t help them,” Kara announced. “Keep the door shut and locked behind me. Whoever it is probably doesn’t know you and Carter are here so, keep quiet.”

“I’m going with you, Kara,” Adam announced.

“No, you’re not,” Cat contradicted.

“Yes, I am. She can’t see. What if –”

“She’s impervious to bullets – you’re not,” Cat reminded him.

“Cat – call the police. NOW!” Kara said as she started walking in the general direction of the front door. She felt around for a few seconds looking for the actual door.

“Kara, I’m going to be your eyes,” Adam said as he grasped her arm. “The door’s over here.”

Adam opened the door and quickly led Kara through it.

“Close the door and lock it,” he called over his shoulder. “Elevator is to the left, over here.”

“What’s over there?” Kara asked pointing.

“The end of the hallway … a stairwell. Why?”

“I can hear someone in there running up the stairs. How far down the hall is it?” Kara asked. Using the wall as a guide, she was already jogging toward the stairway.

“About sixty feet,” Adam said as he followed her.

“Okay, got it,” Kara said quickly closing the distance to the door. She grasped the handle of the metal stairwell door and turned toward Adam. “Get back to the elevator – help Lucy and James! Get them into Lucy’s apartment and wait for the police. I’m going to make sure this guy can’t get through the door. Wait – the door – are there any windows in it?”

“No – no windows.”

“Good – get back. Help them and wait for the police – go!” Kara ordered as she heard steps approaching the door. Hone into this guy’s heartbeat, memorize it, follow it if it moves away from the door. Concentrate.

Kara ignored the silenced gunshots she heard on the other side of the door.

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

Lucy waited against the wall as the elevator doors opened. Almost immediately an arm broke the plane of the doorway. Gotcha, asshole! Lucy grabbed the arm and executed the classic straight arm bar take down taught in her basic hand to hand class. She made sure to take her adversary’s face into the back wall of the elevator as she took him down. She grimly smiled with pleasure when he cried out as his nose broke against the wall.

Adam? What the hell?

“Ow! Son of a bitch! Lucy? It’s Adam! I’m not the bad guy!” Adam’s voice was a mixture of pain and annoyance. “Shit, I think you broke my nose.”

“Adam? What the hell are you doing here? There’s a guy with a gun –”

“Yeah. I know. Kara’s keeping him from opening up the stairwell door. She wanted me to help you and James into your apartment.” Adam looked to the other side of the elevator door where James had crawled to make himself a smaller target and to give Lucy more room to work. “Aw, man, you don’t look so good.”

“Back … back at ya,” James replied with a ghost of a smile. “Luce … a little …help?”

“I’ll help,” Adam offered wiping the blood from his still bleeding nose on his shirt. “Where is the … um … bullet hole?”

“Back … other side … just … just help me up … yeah – okay” James felt his knees wobble as Adam helped him into a quasi-standing position. Hard to breathe. Maybe collapsed lung? Come on, James. You have to get out of this elevator.

Lucy carefully checked the hallway. Kara was still holding the doorknob of the stairwell door.

“James, put your arm around my shoulder if you can. There, like that, go ahead and lean on me if you need to,” Lucy directed. “You ready? Okay, let’s go.”

The three slowly made their way down the hall to Lucy’s apartment. The sound of wailing sirens could be heard in the distance. Lucy banged on her apartment door.

“Cat, open up. Please – hurry! It’s us. James is hurt. Cat –”

The apartment door opened slightly then widely as Cat stepped back allowing the trio inside.

“Floor’s good … Luce … easier,” James said as his strength gave out nearly dragging Lucy and Adam down with him.

“Adam? What –” Cat started to ask before Adam cut her off.

“I’m okay … just an accident. Did you call –”

“They’re on the way. Where’s Kara?”

“Last I saw she was still at the end of the hall guarding the door,” Lucy said as she cut off James’ shirt. “Carter? There’s a first aid kit under the sink in the bathroom. Could you please bring it here?”

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

I think he’s heard the sirens. Is he going up? Sounds like it … yep. Probably going to hide on one of the upper floors when the cops get here figuring they’ll only search the lower floors. That’s okay, mister. I know your heartbeat. When the time comes, I’ll take the cops straight to you. Better get back to Lucy’s apartment right now.

Kara was distracted listening to the heartbeat of the goon as she slowly walked down the hallway. Crap, is that about sixty feet? I can hear them inside the apartment. Where is that door? I don’t want to –

“FREEZE! POLICE! DON’T MOVE! HANDS UP! GET ON YOUR KNEES! TURN AROUND! GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR!” Came multiple conflicting orders from both sides of the hall and the elevator.

Well the police are here, anyway.

“Officers, the guy who shot my friend ran up to the eighth floor,” Kara said as she slowly sank to her knees and put up her hands.

“Do you have any weapons on you?” a voice asked from about six feet away.

“No, I told –”

“Okay – I’m going to check. Put your hands on top of your head and interlace your fingers. Good – just like that.”

Kara felt someone grab her hands and hold them steady as a hand roughly checked her for concealed weapons.

“What are you doing to her?” Cat’s voice was sharp. “She’s with us. She –”

“Sorry, ma’am,” another voice said. “She was out in the hall … wait, aren’t you Cat Grant? Didn’t you –”

“STOP! There’s a man who is injured, shot, in this apartment. Are you going to continue to harass a blind woman or are you going to help?” Cat’s acerbic tone was music to Kara’s ears.

“Cat – the guy is on the eighth floor. Hiding someplace there!” She’ll be able to get them to check.

“I’ve already got six officers checking the building, ma’am. We’ll find –”

“Sergeant Biggs, is it? I suggest you have your officers immediately check the eighth floor first, thoroughly,” Cat instructed.

“She’s right, Sergeant,” Lucy’s voice came from Cat’s location.

That must be where the door was. I wasn’t too far off then.

“He may know someone up there,” Lucy implied. “He’s a white male, about thirtyish? about your height, medium build. I think he had on a tan jacket. I only got a quick look at him. The doorman, Ron, he can give you a better description. Is there an ambulance here? My friend was shot – he needs medical attention badly.”

“Connors, let her up.”

Kara allowed the hands to ‘help’ her to her feet as Sergeant Biggs continued to bark orders.

“I’ve got you, Kara,” Cat’s voice was close and soft as a hand wrapped around her left wrist. “You sure he’s on the eighth floor?”

“Yes,” Kara was reluctant to elaborate in front of anyone else. “How is James?

“He’s hurt, badly. No – stay here. There’s not too much room in there – we’ll only get in the way. Lucy’s had some medical training and,” Cat continued in a loud voice, “I assume medical help will be here shortly.”

“Paramedics are on their way up as we speak,” Sergeant Biggs replied to Cat’s unasked question. “Best in the – here they are now. In there, guys. This one’s still alive.”

“Exactly what do you mean by that, Sergeant?” Cat asked.

“Ah … not supposed to say anything to the media. Sorry ma’am. Any information needs to come from our press officer. But, hey, I heard there was a hellacious fire in your apartment this afternoon … good thing you were here visiting your friend. It’s not –”

Sgt. Biggs' response was cut off by the sound of gunshots coming from several stories above followed by radio chatter.

“Gotta go –” the sergeant abruptly ended the conversation.

Kara stiffened. I don’t … I don’t hear his heartbeat anymore.

“What is it? Kara? What’s wrong?”

“I … I think the police found him and … he … he didn’t want to give up,” Kara willed Cat to read between the lines. There were still too many people nearby.

“Oh.”

Kara could tell from Cat’s inflection that she understood.

“Gotta move, ladies,” a harried voice said. "They’re bringing the gurney out now – have to have some room to swing it around and get on the elevator.”

“Can I talk to him? Please? Just for a minute?” Kara asked.

“He ain’t going to have a minute if we don’t get him out of here. Sorry.”

The sound of people rushing, pushing a gurney …

That thready heartbeat. Weak. Fast.

“James? James – don’t worry – these guys are the best, okay? Stay strong, I’ll –,” Kara called out.

“Lady, save your breath. He can’t hear you. He’s out cold,” the voice said. “Come on, guys, move it! He’ll be at National City General – they’re the best with gunshot wounds. You riding in the rig with us?”

“Yes,” Lucy answered. “I’m his …”

“You can’t go, Ms. Lane, we still have questions to ask you,” a youngish sounding officer said.

“Send someone to the hospital. That’s where I’ll be. Excuse me,” Lucy countered. “Kara, Cat, I’ll call you.”

The elevator doors closed.

Chapter Text

“He’s out of surgery,” Cat heard the relief in Lucy’s voice over the phone line. “The doctors said, barring any complications, he should recover fully. It’ll take time – a long time. The police are posting a guard on him at the prosecutor’s request.

“And you?” Cat asked from her chair in Lucy’s apartment.

“They’ve assigned a police detail to me, you and Carter,” Lucy stated.

“I’m relieved to hear the surgery went well. I’ll let the boys know,” Cat said then added, “I’ll see you in a few hours?”

“Yes, I’ll be there. I want to see the look on Lord’s face when he sees us in the courtroom and realizes his plan failed,” Lucy said.

“Yes, I’m sure it will be a Kodak moment,” Cat said drily then changed the subject, “I’ve got Carter sleeping in your bed, if that’s okay.”

“That’s fine. I won’t have a chance to do anything other than dress for court by the time I get back from the hospital. How is Adam? I am sorry about –”

“He assures me he will be fine,” Cat cut in. “The bleeding has stopped and, aside from extreme tenderness, his nose seems to be okay – at least that’s what he claims.” She lowered her voice and added, “I think he’s afraid something else may happen and he wants be here to keep an eye on Carter instead of at the hospital. To tell you the truth, I doubt I’ll sleep tonight either.”

“I know it’s difficult, Cat, but Carter is going to need you tomorrow. Try and get some sleep. I take it Kara is awake?” Lucy asked.

“Yes, she is. Probably listening in on our phone call. I saw her give a small smile when you gave the update on James.”

“Tell her to get some sleep. I talked to Lois. She said Superman is in National City keeping an eye on things,” Lucy said then explained, “at least until Carter’s testimony is over.”

“I’ll let her know,” Cat said as she glanced over at Kara and noticed the frown lines on her forehead and the determined set to her jaw.

“See you in the morning, Cat,” Lucy signed off.

Cat studied Kara after hanging up. She looks like she’s in pain – the same look she has after she exposes her eyes to the sun. Cat walked across the room and stood next to the chair Kara was sitting on. She restrained herself from startling the younger woman by putting a hand on her shoulder. Kara didn’t seem aware of her proximity until Cat deliberately rapped her knuckles on a nearby coffee table.

“Kara? Good news about James, right?” Cat said a little louder than necessary and saw the wince on Kara’s face. Damn, I was hoping I was wrong.

“Yes, very good news,” Kara answered softly.

“What’s going on? You have the same pinched look when you get into the limo for the ride to work,” Cat quieted her voice now that her suspicions were confirmed. “Did you somehow get hurt? Was there –”

“No. Nothing like that,” Kara sighed. “I think something happened to the eye inserts … during the fire.”

“And you’re only saying something about it now? Let me take a look,” Cat didn’t wait for approval as she slowly removed Kara’s dark glasses from her face. Crap! Cat gently took hold of Kara’s forearm, “Kara, follow me into the bathroom. We need to take those inserts out now. It looks like the smoke and heat from the fire may have damaged them.”

Cat heard Adam get up from where he was seated and start toward them. She looked up at him and shook her head then waved him back into his seat.

“Do need my assistance to help you take them out?” Cat asked as she led Kara into Lucy’s guest bathroom.

“I’ve can do it,” Kara raised her hands to her eyes then stopped. “Uh, what time is it?”

“Three thirty in the morning. Sun doesn’t rise for another few hours and I shut the door,” Cat correctly guessed Kara’s concern. “How long have your eyes been bothering you?”

“I didn’t really notice until we got here. Then everything … happened,” Kara said almost breathlessly as she peeled out the inserts and set them on the counter top.

“Kara, let me look,” Cat put both hands on Kara’s face and slowly turned it toward her own. This doesn’t look to good. “Hold on, I’m going to check Lucy’s medicine cabinet – see if she has any eyewash solution. We need to flush out your eyes.”

“Okay.” Kara’s eyes were squeezed shut.

They must be hurting if she isn’t even giving me a token fight about it. I’ll give her sister a call as soon as we’re done in here. She can let me know if I need to have her brought to the DEO for further treatment. Cat turned as she put her hand on the door knob.

“Don’t rub your eyes,” she ordered. “I’ll be right back.”

Cat walked out into the living area and caught Adam’s questioning look.

“The eye inserts she wears, has to wear for protection thanks to Max Lord, were damaged during the fire. They’re out now but I need to flush her eyes,” Cat walked toward Lucy’s bedroom. “Hopefully Lucy has some eyewash solution in her medicine cab –”

“There’s some in the first aid kit,” Adam interrupted. “I saw it when Lucy was working on James.”

Adam went over to the large first aid kit next to the couch where it was left after James was transported to the hospital. He opened the kit and took out a medium sized plastic bottle containing the eye wash solution then started toward the bathroom.

“I’ve got it, Adam,” Cat said. She saw a hurt look cross his face.

“I said I was sorry. I didn’t really mean –”

“That’s not what I meant. I would prefer if you stayed out here to keep an eye out – just in case,” Cat put her hand on his shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. She left unsaid her suspicion that Adam’s presence would add to Kara’s embarrassment, especially after his earlier outburst. Cat had enough drama for the night.

“Oh ... oh yeah, sure,” Adam said as he handed her the saline solution. “Sorry – wasn’t thinking. I’ve got it handled out here.”

Cat re-entered the bathroom.

“Here, let’s get you over to the sink,” Cat said as she gently took Kara’s forearm and guided her to the vanity. She then realized her mistake, “Wait, that’s not going to work. You’re too tall.”

“Is there a bathtub?” Kara asked.

“Yes, about three feet to your left. Yes, that should work nicely,” Cat watched as Kara sank to her knees and slowly reached out for the lip of the bathtub. Cat helped guide her until Kara’s head was positioned over the tub. “Now try and keep your eyes open. Let me know if the pain gets to be too much ... Kara? I said –”

“I will.”

“Very well. Here goes.” Cat slowly doused Kara’s eyes in the fluid noting how her hands fisted then twisted together, knuckles turning white. “Do you need me to stop?”

“No … no, keep going. It’s starting to feel better – cooler.”

“Good. I’m going to open up your eyes fully – make sure everything is washed out. We’ll start with the left eye. Are you ready?” Cat asked noting the color slowly leaching from Kara’s face.

“Give me a second, ‘kay?” Kara took several steadying breaths then exhaled, “Go ahead. I’m ready.”

Cat leaned over and carefully opened up Kara’s left eye as fully as possible and gently squirted the liquid in. She repeated the procedure on Kara’s right eye then used a hand towel to lightly daub the runoff from Kara’s face.

“Thanks, Ms. Grant,” Kara’s smile was a little shaky. “That really helped.”

“Yes, well, I’m not an optometrist but I’d recommend you not wear inserts anymore – at least not that kind. I’ll call your sister. See if she can arrange a ride for you to the DEO. You need to have your eyes examined.”

“NO! Not now. I can wait until –”

She must be feeling better. The Kara Danvers determination look is back. I guess that is something to be grateful for.

“Kara. You need to have your eyes checked,” Cat backed up to avoid Kara who abruptly rose to her feet. “You heard Lucy – Superman is in town to keep an eye on us. I’d feel better if you’d please get your eyes checked.”

“My eyes feel one hundred percent better. Really. They don’t hurt anymore, Ms. Grant. There’s no need for me to leave you or Carter. Dr. Hamilton won’t be able to do anything more than what you’ve done. I promise I’ll go to the DEO if they start to hurt like that again,” Kara bargained.

“Wasn’t it you who said the sunlight hurt your eyes even when you wore your dark glasses? At least go and get some other type of eye protection,” Cat countered. She knows I’m right.

“I’m sure I can rig something up. Lucy has gauze bandages in her first aid kit, right? I’ll make some eye patches. No one will see them when my glasses are on, right?” Kara’s voice exuded hope.

“Wrong. Aside from the logistics of keeping the patches on your eyes – the bulkiness of the bandages would show. However …” Cat paused thinking through the problem, “maybe if we line the inside of your glasses with something. I’ve got an idea. Where are your glasses?”

“Um … I think they may be out in the living room.”

“Okay. I’ll get them. Stay put … and Kara? You can still call me Cat. Actually, I’d prefer you to call me Cat. I was wrong not to correct you earlier. My issues with Adam or, rather, his issues with me have nothing to do with our relationship. He and I will have a long talk, a very long talk, after all this is done and over with. I know I didn’t have a hand in raising him but, still, I do apologize for the hateful things he said to you.”

“I won’t pretend the things he said didn’t hurt,” Kara ducked her head and reached up to fiddle with non-existent glasses, “but he apologized and he did help me save Lucy and James. I’m not sure I could’ve done it without him. Please, don’t let me get in the middle of your relationship with him. He’s your son, Cat. Like Carter said, he was upset because he thought you choose me over him and said some ugly things to hurt you. You two do need to talk but don’t feel you have to defend me to him. I’m fine with keeping some distance between us when he’s around if it helps you to build a relationship with him.”

“I won’t say I haven’t made some mistakes but I’m not going to coddle a grown man – don’t interrupt,” Cat said as Kara opened her mouth to speak. “Yes, he’s my son and I want a relationship with him, but not at your or anyone else’s expense. It wouldn’t be much of a relationship if it was built on a lie, would it?”

“I guess when you put it that way … you’re right,” Kara admitted.

“Of course, I am,” Cat raised her hand in a dismissive gesture she belatedly realized was wasted on Kara. She settled for a put-upon sigh as she left the room, “I’ll be right back with the glasses.”

Cat strode out into the living area to retrieve Kara’s glasses. I think we should be able to coat the inside of them with something … maybe Lucy has some dark colored nail polish. Wait, Kara did it to me again! I wanted her to get her eyes checked out and now I’m helping her so she doesn’t have to. I’ve got to check with her sister – I wonder if persuading people isn’t one of her superpowers.

“Is something wrong? Where’s Kara?” Adam’s voice cut through her thoughts.

“Did you see her glasses – oh, never mind,” Cat said as she spied the dark wrap-around glasses on a table. She turned to walk back into the bathroom with the glasses in hand then stopped. Time to start mending fences. “Kara’s eyes were deliberately exposed to something that not only caused her blindness but makes any exposure to sunlight incredibly painful. It’s why she also wears – wore, the eye inserts. The dark glasses aren’t enough to protect her. She can’t wear the inserts now so I’m going to line her glasses with … well … something to help minimize exposure to the sun.”

“Let me help.”

“I’ll figure something out. You really don’t –”

“I’d like to help. I mean, I know I can’t make up for what I said. I was an ass to you and to Kara.” Adam looked down at his hands briefly then locked eyes with Cat,” What Carter said was pretty much on the money about me wanting to be important to you. Something he didn’t know was … I always had this fantasy, since I found out you didn’t fight dad for custody of me, that somehow, I’d do something heroic … so brave and important that you’d show up and tell me how wrong you were for … for not wanting me,” Adam’s voice broke. “Then, in the fire, I couldn’t get the door open and we were trapped on the balcony. I couldn’t save you, I couldn’t be your hero and we were going to die. I thought that, well, I’d at least get to be with you at the end, you know? I was actually kind of okay with it. Then you and Carter started yelling for Supergirl. Kara shows up, blind as a bat, and saves all of us … and … and I’m jealous because I wasn’t the one who got to save you. Pathetic, right? A grown man still clinging onto his little boy fantasies. Then, because I’m … I don’t know, angry? I take it out on Kara – like it’s her fault my childhood fantasy didn’t play out the way I wanted it to. What a –”

“Adam –”, Cat started.

“Let me finish … please,” Adam interrupted. “I don’t want you to think I’m blaming you or Kara or anyone else for the way I acted. I was wrong and I’m ashamed of what I said. I’m not an eight-year-old and I acted like one. I can understand if you or Kara don’t want me around after today and you don’t have to worry – I’ll never tell anyone who Kara is. I won’t. I’d … I’d just like to help – if you’ll let me.”

“Of course,” Cat cleared her throat and continued, her voice thick with emotion and eyes bright with unshed tears. “Of course, I’d like you to help and, as for not wanting you around? That won’t happen, ever. I made a decision years ago, one which I haven’t regretted more than today. Adam, you never had – never have to do anything heroic to win my love. I’m sorry if I ever made you feel you did.”

Cat stood motionless studying Adam for a brief moment. Giving him a chance to digest her words. First with Kara and now with Adam … for someone who spent her whole life in a career involving communication, I’ve certainly made a mess of things. I guess I’ve inherited some of my mother’s genes after all. Cat crossed the room stopping in front of Adam and clasped his hand gently. She used it to guide him out of the chair and into her embrace. It was awkward. Cat realized she had never hugged Adam – not arm encircled, tightly held, hugged her son since he was an infant. The tears she was holding back washed down her cheeks when she felt Adam’s sobs as he hugged her back.

Several minutes later Cat walked back into the bathroom, minus the dark glasses, to find Kara beaming.

“You were listening,” Cat’s voice was matter of fact.

“No, no, no … uh, well … yeah, I was,” Kara had the grace to look sheepish before the beaming began again in earnest.

Cat rolled her eyes, realized the gesture was lost on Kara, and sighed. “Then you know Adam’s going to try to rig something up with your glasses – if that’s all right with you. Which reminds me, I have to call Lucy. See if she has any dark nail polish we can use.”

“Adam working on my glasses is fine with me. I’m glad you two talked. What he said makes sense. I mean, it explains why he acted the way he did earlier.” Kara bit her lip obviously wanting to say something else.

“Go ahead, Kara, spit it out.”

Kara hesitated a few more seconds then finally asked, “Would … would you mind rinsing out my eyes again? They’re not really burning bad or anything but –”

“But they’re starting to,” Cat interrupted. “Tomorrow. After court. You have a date with the DEO and your Dr. Hamilton. No negotiations. Period. Got it?”

“Um, yep.”

“Good. Now let’s get your eyes washed out then I’ll call Lucy.”

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

In Lucy’s bedroom, a supposedly fast asleep Carter listened intently. His hearing wasn’t as good as Kara’s but he managed to catch most of the conversation between the adults. He smiled contentedly as he drifted off to sleep. He never felt closer to his brother. I always wanted to be mom’s hero too, Adam.

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

“I’d like to say I can’t believe Max Lord would stoop so low as to kill a child to save his sorry ass,” Hank shook his head as he and Alex discussed the fire that destroyed the top floor of the Madison Treymour.

“Yeah, well believe it. There’s no way it was an accident. I hear the fire department found a body. The medical examiner’s office says it will take a while to identify the remains. I should have been there for –”

“They’re okay, Alex,” Hank cut her off. “I don’t see how your being there would have changed anything except given Kara someone else to save.”

“What about the guy who shot James? Lucy said he jumped in front of her – pushed her out of the way – to protect her. I’m telling you,” Alex’s eyes bored into Hank, “Max Lord is not going to give up!”

“I wish I could disagree with you,” Hank scratched the back of his head in irritation. He hated wearing the device that kept him from shape shifting and the monitor that kept him tethered to the DEO. “Okay. Go ahead under one condition, you have to keep a low profile. Stay in the background and observe. You can let Kara know but no physical contact with anyone involved in the case. If you see anything alert the police, let them do their jobs. Your involvement is a last resort … a very last resort, understand?”

“Thanks, J’onn, I won’t let you down this time. I’ll stay in the background and won’t call any attention to myself,” Alex said solemnly. “I promise.”

Famous last words. Hank watched Alex as she practically ran down the hall to the armory. Well, at least the playing field is a little more even now. You wanted a war, Max? Your hired goons are no match for one pissed off Alex Danvers.

Chapter Text

Alex took a sip of coffee and surveyed the area around the courthouse. The building didn’t open for another couple of hours but, after the events Sunday night, she wanted to familiarize herself with the layout. She didn’t bother going to Lucy’s apartment. Superman was there providing the police detail with all the extra support they needed. Looks like the police have the courthouse buttoned down pretty well. Bomb dogs, foot patrols, officers stationed at all entrances, and that’s what I can see. Bet they have some covert ops as well. Guess the police are taking last night seriously. Really nothing for me to do here … maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Think, Alex, you know that jerk better than most people. Where else would he have his hired goons strike?

Alex picked up her phone and dialed Winn. She was surprised he answered on the first ring.

“Hello.” There wasn’t a trace of sleepiness in his voice.

“It’s Alex. Are you at the, um, at the place where I work by any chance?”

“No – the hospital. We’re here, Susan and I are here, waiting with Lucy. Aren’t you supposed to be at the … at work?” Winn asked surprised.

“Is Lucy there with you?”

“Yeah, I’ll step outside if you want to –”

“No, no, no. I want to talk to her. Can you put her on?” Alex interrupted.

“Sure. Here she is,” Winn said and Alex could hear his muffled voice say something to someone else.

“Lane here.”

“Lucy, listen, I don’t think Max is done trying to sabotage the case against him. What’s the name of that guy who we heard on the tape, you know, the one who confessed? I think he’s a possible target too,” Alex rubbed her temple with her fingers.

“He’s still in custody, Alex,” Lucy’s voice was tired and strained. “They have him in protective solitary confinement at the jail. We’re still charging him with several counts of conspiracy. Max can’t get to him … at least that’s one person we don’t have to worry about.”

“Doesn’t he have a family? A couple of kids? A wife?” Alex asked.

“Already taken care of, Danvers. We’ve got police surveillance on his house and family. I called the prosecutor as soon as I had a chance. Anyone testifying for us is under police protection now. Everyone is taking this seriously, Alex,” Lucy assured her.

Alex bit back her ‘It’s about time’ comment and settled for an innocuous, “Okay.”

“Listen, Alex, I appreciate you trying to help but right now there’s nothing you can do from the DEO,” Lucy said then uttered, “Dammit” under her breath.

Alex chewed on her lip for a second. She’s not going to be happy I’m out here – that Hank approved me to go out in the field for this.

“I’m in the field, Lucy,” Alex announced and hurriedly added, “Hank knows. Gave his blessing as long as I stay in the background so … is there any place or anyone you think could use an extra eye? I’ve already checked out the courthouse. It’s sealed tighter than a drum.”

“You know? Under normal circumstances I would be extremely … unhappy Hank let you in the field right now but after what happened? I’m actually relieved you’re out there,” Lucy admitted with a slight laugh. “As to where you might be needed I’m not really sure. Butler told me she talked directly with Chief Thomas and he had police details assigned to everyone on the witness list until they testify.”

“So, I should just kind of … I don’t know, drive around looking for trouble?” Alex asked.

“I guess … wait … the father. Jones’ father. Jones – the guy who came in to make a confession,” Lucy said and Alex could almost hear the wheels turning in Lucy’s brain before she continued. “Jones’ father was with Jones when he made his statement. His name and address is in the police report.”

“The same police report given to Max’s attorneys?” Alex interrupted.

“Of course. Damn! Alex, I don’t remember his address but he lives on the east side – off of Chalmers Street. I’m going to call the prosecutor right now. I’ll get the address for you and have her get the cops over there too.”

“Got it. On the way. Give me the address when you can,” Alex acknowledged before hanging up. Chalmers Street? Wow, that’s in the boonies. Barely inside the city limits. I’m about fifteen minutes away … ten if I push it.

Nine minutes later Alex was slowly cruising down Chalmers Street looking for the address Lucy had given her. Looks like it is the corner house. The one with the unattached garage set back from the house. No lights on inside. Not surprising for five o’clock in the morning. No signs of anyone around. I’ll go back and park further down the street. Make sure nothing happens until the cops show up.

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

“You wanna get some coffee or something?” Field Training Officer Nolan asked his recruit, a woman he met only a couple of hours earlier.

“No. I’m good. Thanks,” newly minted National City Police Officer Maggie Sawyer replied as she held in a yawn. She positively hated working mids but the only training officer available was Gary Nolan who loved the shift. Come on, Maggie. You know it isn’t Nolan’s fault you’re stuck on midnights for the next month. Chief Thomas is still awaiting City Council’s permission to fill the detective vacancy in the Science Division. Until then … I wear a uniform and get to know the streets of National City better.

“Okay,” Nolan nodded. “There’s a chance we might end up watching someone’s house tonight. You heard what the sergeant said in roll call. Now, I know you’ve been on stakeouts before so I’m not gonna bore you with all of the dos and don'ts. Hopefully the mayhem is over for the night but, if push comes to shove, there are extra magazines for the AR-15 in my ditty bag along with slugs for the shotgun.”

“You think there’s going to be any more attempts? I mean – I thought National City was kind of quiet compared to Gotham or even Metropolis,” Maggie cocked her eyebrow.

“Yeah, well, this is something different. This guy on trial, Maxwell Lord, is something like a god to some people – especially the anti-alien crowd and … he has money. Lots of it. I wouldn’t put it past him to hire half of the goons in Gotham to make sure no one is alive to testify against him.”

“I take it you’re not an admirer,” Maggie observed.

“That jerk actually hired people to set fires and make up false emergencies and destroy bridges and buildings just to keep Supergirl busy. You know? Folks were hurt and some of ’em died because of his stunts. No – I’m not an admirer. Besides, Supergirl saved my sorry ass about six months ago, I owe her big time. She just swept down and stood in front of me while some dopers were emptying their AK’s. You shoulda seen the looks on their faces,” Nolan chuckled. “One of ‘em even pissed his pants.”

“Man, I hate when they do that!” Maggie laughed then changed the subject, “So, what’s on tap for tonight?”

“So far we’re just a rover car. Dispatch’ll have me call in if we get handed an assignment,” Nolan replied.

“Radio silence in case someone’s listening to a scanner?” Maggie stated more than asked.

“Exactly,” Nolan said approvingly. Good to know I don’t have a real rookie with me tonight in case it the shit hits the fan. She should be able to handle her share of the trouble if it comes our way.

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

Zack Heath wasn’t in his comfort zone as he drove around the east side of National City looking for Chalmers street. He normally worked in the seedier sections of National City, muscle for hire wasn’t in demand among the older almost rustic subdivisions of the east side. Wonder who the old man pissed off? Maybe he’ll tell me before I cap him. Fuck! It’s dark out here. Why the hell aren’t there any streetlights out here? Damn it! Where the hell is that street! Of all the fucking times to forget my fucking phone charger – dammit! C’mon… find the street, make the hit, and collect the five g’s.

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

Alex observed the older Taurus slowly driving down Harris Street, bypassing her, for the second time in twenty minutes. The car, older and beat up, looked like many of the cars parked in the driveways nearby so she didn’t give it much thought the first time she saw it. Now, however, she took note of the driver. He was obviously looking for someplace and was unfamiliar with the area. Alex looked at the street corner and realized the Chalmers Street sign was missing.

Bingo! We have a winner!

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

“4-15” the dispatcher’s voice sounded over the car radio, “call dispatch.”

“4-15, 10-4,” Nolan answered as he picked up his cell. He looked at his partner. “This is it.”

Maggie nodded and strained to hear what the dispatcher was saying to Nolan. At least this’ll beat driving around in circles all night.

“Look sharp,” Nolan said as he pushed the accelerator down. “We have to go to cover a house on the east side – way on the east side. Apparently one of the family members of –”

“Heard dispatch, wrote down the address, looks like we’re about …” Maggie squinted at the paper map in her lap. Nolan was an old-fashioned cop who didn’t like relying on electronics. “… fifteen miles away. We need to take –”

“Map it out in your head,” Nolan said as he cut through an alley not listed on the official map of National City Maggie held in her lap. “I’ve worked the road for twenty-two years. I know where I’m going.”

Maggie grinned to herself. Cool. This guy’s got his shit together. I should be able to depend on him if things go south.

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

“Hello, this is a concerned neighbor,” Alex began. “I want to report a very suspicious man and car by my neighbor’s house… no, I don’t want to give my name. The address is 26211 Chalmers Street. The car is a dark blue or a black Ford Taurus … the driver is a white male. He has a ball cap on. No … I don’t want to give my name just send the police now!”

Alex ended the call. Okay, J’onn, I called for the police and I’m staying in the background … unless the police don’t get here in time.

Several minutes later the Taurus’ headlights appeared in her rear-view mirror. Alex smiled.

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

“4-15” the dispatcher’s voice sounded dispassionate. “We received a call from a neighbor of the address. She sees a suspicious dark blue or black Ford Taurus. Driver is a white male wearing a ball cap. No further description.”

“4-15’s good,” Nolan said into the mic. “We’re almost out.”

“10-4. Almost out.” The dispatcher repeated.

“We’re about a mile off,” Nolan informed Maggie. “The house should be on the south side of the street. Odd numbers are on the south and west side of streets. Evens are on the north and east sides.”

“Got it. Hey – over there. Those are the old-style Taurus tail lights. Just turned down … Harris Street,” Maggie pointed.

“Good eye. Thought the car was supposed to be already at the house … hope we’re not too late,” Nolan said as he accelerated toward the intersection.

“He’s driving too slow … and back toward the house. I wouldn’t stick around if I’d killed someone. Bet he hasn’t found the house yet,” Maggie surmised then added, “unless this guy isn’t even involved.”

“We’ll find out soon enough,” Nolan said as he made the turn. I think Sawyers’ is right. The guy’s driving too slow … like he’s looking for something. He hasn’t found the house yet. “4-15 to dispatch. We have the Taurus in sight. Moving south on Harris Street from Rogers Avenue. No plate on the vehicle. Possible temp tag in the window.”

“He made us,” Maggie said unnecessarily as the Taurus accelerated. Then she saw something unexpected. “What the hell?”

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

Dammit! I’m not going to prison again! Zack accelerated and glanced in his rear-view mirror at the fast-approaching police cruiser. He reached for the machine pistol tucked between the center console and his seat. A spray from the Uzi oughta back ‘em up. Keep ‘em off of my tail.

Zack tore his eyes away from the mirror in time to see a large dark SUV pull directly in front of him. Shit! He wrenched the steering wheel to avoid the collision and overcompensated. The Taurus went over the curb, mangled a stop sign, and came to a standstill at the trunk of a blue spruce tree.

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

Maggie was out of the patrol car before Nolan had put it in park. Gun out, she approached the passenger side of the Taurus and saw the Uzi pistol on the front passenger floorboard. The driver, a white male wearing a ball cap, was semi-conscious and bleeding from a cut on his forehead. Guess the neighbor was right, after all.

“Out of the car! Keep your hands on top of your head! Nice and slow,” Nolan warned from the driver’s side of the Taurus. Maggie kept her gun trained on the driver until she heard the click-click of handcuffs being applied.

The undamaged SUV drove away slowly as Nolan led the suspect back to the patrol car. Maggie could have sworn she saw the female driver smile and give a sketchy salute before driving off.

“Fucking Feds! Why didn’t they tell us they were doing surveillance on the house?!” Nolan groused. “Do you know how much paperwork we have to do now? I bet she’s the ‘anonymous’ neighbor. Just like a Fed to skate on the paperwork.”

Maggie watched the SUV tail lights and smiled shaking her head. Yeah, that was a pretty slick move. Maybe we’ll meet up one day and I’ll have the chance to return the favor.

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

Kara sat quietly on one of the living rooms easy chairs grateful her eyes stopped burning after the second rinse. Adam finished his work on her dark glasses, which now smelled strongly of nail polish, but she wasn’t keen on testing them against the sun’s rays. I hope whatever Adam did works. I can’t even fight Cat about going to see Doc Hamilton after court today. I think those inserts really messed up my eyes … well worse than what they were, anyway.

“Kara,” Kal’s voice came from outside the window. “I thought you’d want to know the sun is coming up in case you wanted to … ah … pray.”

“Thanks, Kal,” Kara whispered.

“Lucy’s apartment doesn’t have any windows that face east, though,” Kal sounded concerned. “I could fly you –”

“You don’t have to,” Kara interrupted.

“I know,” Kal answered, “but I’d be honored to help you greet the sun.”

Kara was touched by her cousin’s thoughtfulness. He hadn’t grown up, spent his childhood, venerating Rao or even this planet’s star, yet he respected her beliefs. How much time under Max’s control did I spend without even thinking of Rao, of giving proper thanks for a new day? Kara pushed herself up from the chair and toward the room’s window, “You know, Kal? I’d like to take you up on the offer.”

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

“Nice work, Agent Danvers,” Hank complimented, pleasantly surprised Alex actually followed his orders. “Anyplace else Major Lane believes you’re needed?”

“No, sir,” Alex answered crisply. “She had the prosecutor set me up with a police liaison officer in case they’re short anywhere else except the court building. Lucy said she’d call if she thought of anything else.”

“I know you haven’t had much sleep so don’t overdo yourself.” Hank took a deep breath before continuing, “Your sister is going to need you to get her back here for a medical checkup after court adjourns for the day.”

“Kara? What’s wrong? What –”

“Something is going on with her eyes. Cat called me while you were out. Apparently, those eye inserts melted or degraded somehow during the fire. The chemicals are reacting to whatever Max put inside that bomb. Cat’s had to rinse out Kara’s eyes a couple of times already and there’s no way Kara can wear those inserts again,” Hank explained. “She insists on spending the day at court so you’ll have to rendezvous with Winn, outside the city limits, to bring her out.”

Hank heard something about “stubborn Kryptonian” and “kicking her ass” before Alex clearly said, “I’ll contact Winn and set something up.”

“Alex?” All pretense of formality was gone from Hank’s voice, “Don’t worry. I’ve already got Doc Hamilton and a few of our best chemists working on the problem. Hopefully they’ll come up with a solution before you two get here.”

“Thank you, J’onn. I’ll have her there as soon as possible and … and thanks for trusting me to be out here. I won’t let you down.”

Hank’s “be careful” was met by a dial tone. He looked at the mound of paperwork on his desk and sighed. He already missed Major Lane.

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

Lucy arrived back at her apartment as Adam was putting on a pot of coffee.

“I hope you don’t mind,” he said. “I think everyone needs a boost this morning.”

Lucy nodded, taking in the swollen nose and blackening eyes on Adam’s face. She was too tired to apologize again. I need a shower, clean clothes, and that super espresso from Noonan’s. Not necessarily in that order.

“How is James doing?”

“The same. Out of surgery, still out of it … look, thanks for asking Adam but I really can’t think about him, about what happened, right now, okay?” Lucy shook her head. “We’ve got to get a move on if –”

“I’ve got Carter showered and ready to go,” Cat announced as she ushered her son from Lucy’s bedroom. Both were fully dressed in the clothes James brought over only hours earlier. “Kara’s finishing up.”

“I’m done,” Kara chirped from behind Cat oblivious to the huge grin Carter gave her as Cat jumped in surprise.

“I’ll get ready next,” Lucy said. “Is that okay with you, Adam?”

“Sure thing,” Adam answered back. “It won’t take me more than fifteen minutes to get ready. Oh – you’re out of black and dark purple nail polish.”

“That’s okay. They’re not nail colors I’d wear in court,” Lucy said dismissively as she prepared to enter her bedroom. “Oh, before I forget, the cops standing guard outside my apartment door have a box of donuts.  They said they’d be happy to share with anyone who wants one.”

Lucy ignored Cat’s look of disdain, Carter’s hopeful countenance and Kara’s look of delight as she stepped passed them and closed the door to her bedroom. She looked longingly at her bed then dragged herself into the bathroom refusing to look in any mirror until after she showered.

Exactly twenty minutes later a perfectly coiffed Lucy strode from her bedroom looking as though she had a solid night’s sleep.

“Your turn, Adam,” she said taking in the almost empty donut box on the kitchen table.

“We, um, … saved you one,” Kara said brightly missing Lucy’s nose crinkling in disgust at the lone donut.

“No, thanks, the last thing I need is a sugar buzz in court. Carter, you’re going to be our first witness but it may take some time before you actually get to testify. We still have to pick a jury and that could take all day.”

“It’s okay, Major Lane. Mom told me all about voir dire and how long it can take to seat a jury. I’ll be ready whenever you need me … even if it’s not until tomorrow,” Carter gave a Lucy a firm nod of his head.

“Oh, ah, thank you. We are going to really push to have all of your testimony done by today – tomorrow morning at the latest so …”

“So I won’t be so much of a target anymore, right?” Carter concluded.

“Yep – something like that, but more like your mom wants you back in school,” Lucy laughed then looked over and addressed Cat, “We are going to try and have him finished today, tomorrow at the latest. Then you’ll be up next. Hopefully, by the end of testimony tomorrow, both you and Carter will be finished. After that, Max won’t have a reason to …”

“Are we all going in one car to the courthouse?” Kara asked to fill the uncomfortable quiet after Lucy trailed off.

“No. I’ll be in one car and the rest of you will be chauffeured by National City’s Finest. Superman will provide … air support … if it’s needed,” Lucy answered.

“All set,” Adam announced as he entered the room. “How are those glasses working, Kara?”

“Can’t see a thing,” Kara joked. “Really? So far so good. Thanks.”

“Let’s get a move on,” Lucy said glancing at the clock. “We still have a fifteen-minute drive ahead of us and I, for one, want to see the look on Max Lord’s face when we all show up alive ready to put him away for life.”

Chapter Text

Lucy and Cat exchanged glances before exiting Judge Sommers’ chambers after settling Kara in her ‘office’. Both were looking forward to the expression on Max Lord’s face when he realized they were alive. Neither one was prepared for the reaction of Ron Travanti, one of Max’s attorney’s, when Lucy entered the courtroom ahead of Cat.

“Major Lane? What … how, why are you here?” Travanti finally settled on a question.

“Excuse me?” Lucy asked surprised. She and Travanti had sparred several times in front of Judge Sommers already regarding pre-trial motions. He knew she was assisting Prosecutor Dawn Butler with the case.

“I thought … thought you had more pressing military matters,” Travanti finished lamely. He then smoothed his dark gray Brioni custom made suit and went on the offensive, “I must say, I’m glad you’re not wearing that military outfit I’ve seen you wear. I’m a sucker for a girl in uniform.

“My choice of wardrobe is irrelevant to the trial,” Lucy cocked her head at the man’s deliberate attempt to cover his reaction by playing the age-old harassment game with her. She was running on empty already and still had a full day ahead of her. She didn’t feel like entertaining Travanti’s ego today.

Cat watched the exchange out of sight from the alcove leading from the judge’s chambers into the courtroom. Her eyes narrowed. Travanti’s reaction to Lucy’s presence told her how Max Lord was able to hire killers while in police custody. That son of a bitch! He’s the one. She schooled her features and strode out into the courtroom enjoying the look of panic on Travanti’s face when he saw her.

“Mr. Travanti,” she began, “I’m surprised Gotham’s most notorious lawyer has decided to try a case here in National City. It must be difficult for you, so far out of your element, a place you have few reliable … connections.

From the corner of her eye she saw comprehension dawn on Lucy’s face then, just as quickly, disappear behind an expressionless mask. Yes, Lucy, I’ll give you a chance to make a fool of him in court before I ask Perry to have your sister do it in the press.

“I don’t know what you’re implying, Miss Grant,” Travanti said obviously flustered. “I’m shocked –”

“All rise,” the bailiff called out as Judge Sommers quickly walked to take his seat on the bench.

“Both sides ready to proceed?” the judge asked then continued without waiting for either side to answer. “Okay, bring in the defendant.”

Cat didn’t miss how Travanti paled at the order. I bet your boss is not going to be too happy with you!

Max Lord, wearing a smartly tailored suit, leg chains, and a smirk, was led into the courtroom surrounded by several court officers. A phalanx of National City Police Officers followed taking up positions throughout the room.

Max looked over at the prosecutor’s table and nodded. His face became notably grimmer when he observed Cat Grant sitting behind the prosecutor. His eyes darted to Travanti as the court officers led him to the defense table and removed the leg chains.

Well, that was educational. Are you going to ask Travanti, here in open court, why I’m still alive? Really, Max, you used to be so much better at concealing your reactions.

Max stared straight ahead as the judge called for the jury pool to be brought into the courtroom. Cat knew Travanti was in trouble as jury selection drug on throughout the morning and into early afternoon. Max consulted with all of his attorneys accept Travanti, and pointedly ignored any remark the attorney made to him.

Hours later, well into the afternoon, the jury was finally seated and opening arguments were over. The judge called a brief recess before the first witness, Carter Grant, was called. As people left the courtroom, Max turned to Cat and smirked before the court officers led him away.

“Looks like he’s enjoying himself. I suppose it’s another show to him,” Lois Lane’s voice observed from behind Cat. “Be careful, Cat, word on the street is you are worth a million dead, Carter too. You and Lucy should stick together, she has James’ watch, in case you need Superman.”

Cat turned around to reply only to see Lois making her way through the throng of media leaving the courtroom.

“Yes, Lois always did have a flair for the dramatic. I suppose you know that. She’s right, though, I do have James’ watch and there is a huge sum of money offered for the person who manages to kill you and Carter,” Lucy smiled wanly and added, “I’m not worth much. I think the attack on me was an afterthought – maybe not even Max’s idea. It wouldn’t surprise me if Travanti hired someone with Max’s money to kill me because I’ve won every pre-trial motion he’s argued before the judge.”

“That would explain why Max didn’t blink an eye when he saw you in court. He was a little more … disappointed when he saw me sitting behind you,” Cat observed. “I suppose this means we won’t be eating lunch out today or any other day until this is over.”

“Good call. We’d better hurry and call in an order. Any place special you’d like to order from?” Lucy asked.

Cat looked up from the tablet Winn left for her on Friday, “No need. Apparently, my … ward already ordered for all of us half hour ago. The food should arrive within the next five minutes or so. Jane’s Gourmet okay with you?”

“She knows I love that place,” Lucy smiled. “Let’s pick up the boys. We can eat in the judges private conference room. I’ve already set it up with the court clerk.”

/

“We’ll have you start to testify as soon as the court is back in session,” Lucy said to Carter over a table of empty food containers. “I know we went over this before but, to remind you, wait after you’re asked a question. Think about what you want to say before you answer. If you get confused or don’t understand the question let the judge know. You don’t have to look at Mr. Lord except to point him out to the jury. Look at the attorney asking you questions, me or your brother.”

Carter nodded his head solemnly and asked, “Why can’t mom be in the courtroom?”

“The witnesses, including your mom, are sequestered. That means they can’t be in the courtroom while other witnesses are testifying. It’s a way of insuring you don’t change your answers based on what another witness says to the jury.”

“Carter, I’ll be right there in the courtroom sitting in the front row. If you need a break use our laser tag signal for go left and I’ll let the prosecutor know,” Adam instructed.

A sharp knock on the conference door was followed by a court officer’s, “The judge wants to start in five minutes.”

“Carter, you’re going to do fine,” Cat said as she moved his hair away from his eyes and kissed his forehead. She fussed with his tie and suit jacket after giving him a quick hug.

“Let’s go,” Lucy said and ushered Adam and Carter out of the conference room.

Cat walked over to the door and locked it as Kara started clearing away the remains of their lunch.

“I’ll be listening, Cat,” Kara assured her. “I’m sure –”

“How can you stand it?” Cat asked, “Being so close to that … monster. After everything he’s done to you. He actually smirked at me. If anything happens to –”

“Hey, nothing’s going to happen. Superman’s here, remember? Along with half of the National City Police Department,” Kara reminded her then cocked her head. “The prosecutor just called Carter to the stand …

/

“State your name and spell your last name for the court,” Dawn Butler instructed Carter with a slight smile as she tried to put him at ease.

“Carter Grant. G, R, A, N, T,” Carter said looking at Adam.

“Thank you, Carter. On April 6th of this year where were you …”

The questions and answers continued until the judge called recess for the evening at five o’clock.

“You did great, buddy!” Adam complimented as he accompanied Carter and Lucy back to the conference room.

“Yes, you did,” Lucy agreed as she knocked on the conference room door.

Cat opened the door and enveloped Carter in a quick hug, “I hear you were wonderful.”

“How would you – oh.” Carter looked at Kara as he disentangled himself from his mother’s embrace. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Even Mr. Lord’s lawyers were kind of nice. I’m almost done, though, so you should be finished tomorrow too.”

“Yes, well, let’s hope so,” Cat agreed.

“Are we staying here tonight or are we going to Major Lane’s apartment?” Carter asked.

“I’ve reserved the top two floors at the Franklin Park across the street for the duration of the trial for us, that includes you, Lucy. I called Neville at Barney’s. She’ll have suitable wardrobes sent over for all of us later tonight,” Cat said. “There’s no need to go back to your apartment, Lucy. I called Chief Thomas. He knows where we’ll be staying.”

“Well, ah, thank you, Cat,” Lucy stammered pleasantly surprised. The Franklin Park was the most exclusive hotel in National City.

“Hey there, can anybody join this party?” Winn asked as he strode into the room.

“Hi Winn,” Kara greeted him with a little trepidation. “I suppose we’d better get going. Alex said Doctor Hamilton was cautiously optimistic with the treatment they came up with. Bye Carter. Bye Lucy. Bye Adam. Bye …”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, they've got top notch people to help you there.  We'll see you later tonight or tomorrow,” Cat interrupted letting brusqueness mask the concern she felt for Kara.

“Okay. Bye Cat,” Kara said with a big grin knowing Cat was rolling her eyes.

Winn lightly took Kara’s arm, “This way, my lady. Your chariot awaits.”

/

“Well, what do you think?” Alex asked Kara after explaining her involvement with the National City police the night before during the car ride to the DEO.

“I must say, Agent Danvers, how remarkably restrained you’ve become,” Kara kidded.

“It was kind of fun, in a way. You should have seen the look on the woman cop’s face when I gave her a quick salute before I left. It was priceless!” Alex gloated. “I might have to do something like that to her again. You know, jerk her chain a bit.”

“I think you’d better watch out if you ever get stopped by her, lead foot, or jerking her chain is going to get you a ticket,” Kara advised.

“Well, you had to be there, I guess. Anyway, we’re here. Let’s get you in to see the doc,” Alex said as she parked the car. She was about to lock the car when she saw Kara’s cane in the backseat. “You want to take your cane with you?”

“No, I really don’t need it most of the time, super sonar hearing, remember? I use the cane mostly for show around Catco and stuff,” Kara explained. “I only brought it because I didn’t want to leave it in the court building overnight. Oh, and good thinking about bringing me the jumpsuit to wear. I haven’t been her, Supergirl, for so long I kind of forgot -”

“You’re still you, Kara, and don’t give up hope. Mom’s still working on a solution and you know how stubborn she is. Now, tell me about what happened in court today. Since I know you were listening, what did Max say? Anything?”

“He, ah, he said …”

“Hey! Kara! Watch out! Something the matter with your ‘super sonar’? You almost walked into a wall,” Alex frowned.

“Sorry, I guess I wasn’t paying attention,” Kara apologized and reached up to adjust her dark glasses.

“Kara? What’s wrong?” Alex recognized her sister’s nervous tell.

“Nothing. Nothing. I’m fine, we’ll not really fine, fine. I mean I’d be super fine if I could see but –”

“Enough.” Alex knew there was something wrong now. Babbling Kara and adjusting eyeglasses? Something big was bothering her little sister. “Are you worried about seeing the doc? I’ll be there. Dr. Hill is a really good chemist. I’m sure whatever he came up with will help you out.”

“A chemist? What happened to –”

“Doc Hamilton will be there to oversee everything,” Alex put her hand on Kara’s arm. “It’s nothing to be nervous about. They’re just going to wash out your eyes with a different rinse, one that they believe will take away the burning. That’s it. Okay?”

Kara nodded, “Yeah. Sorry. I’ll do better.”

“Kara?” Alex felt she was missing something. Something important. “You’re doing fine. Don’t apologize.”

“Supergirl. Agent Danvers,” Doc Hamilton greeted as she met the Danvers sisters in the corridor. “We’re all set up to do the procedure, wash out your eyes with a new type of rinse, in Dr. Hill’s lab. Over here. Agent Danvers, this is a medical procedure. If you want to wait for Supergirl you’ll have to wait outside the lab.”

Alex fought the urge to argue. “I’ll be right outside, Supergirl. Um, I’ll take you to Director Henshaw. He … wants to see you when you’re done.”

Kara smiled. Alex was usually much smoother.

“I’d appreciate that. Thank you, Agent Danvers. I’m sure this won’t take too long,” Kara said as she allowed Dr. Hamilton to lead her inside the lab.

/

Alex had never heard Kara scream before. Not like this. She bolted into the med lab where Dr. Hamilton and her colleagues were examining Kara’s eyes. Anger boiled over as she saw the green glow emanating from a lead box placed near a restrained Kara.

“What in the hell are you doing?!” she yelled furiously as she shut the box.

Kara inadvertently broke through the restraints as her power returned. She rolled off the gurney. Alex barely managed to catch and ease her sister onto the floor. The screaming had turned into whimpering as Kara clutched at her head. Alex looked up, daggers in her eyes, at the doctors huddled on the other side of the gurney.

“Why in the –”

“I’ll take it from here, Agent Danvers,” Hank said as he strode into the room. “Doctors? Anyone care to explain why this kryptonite was utilized against my direct orders to the contrary? Dr. Hamilton?”

“Well, sir, I –”

“It was my idea, sir,” Dr. Hill interrupted. “I wanted to examine her eyes in their natural state prior to treating them with the chemical solution Dr. Ruiz and I came up with. I didn’t think –”

“In their natural state?” Hank questioned as Alex opened her mouth to protest. “Doctor, Supergirl’s ‘natural state’ as you call it is without kryptonite.”

“I only meant –”

“Did you treat her eyes yet?” Alex cut in still huddled with Kara on the floor.

“No,” Dr. Ruiz answered. “I opened the box up and she started screaming. I don’t understand. We hadn’t even looked at her eyes.”

“You tied her down to look at her eyes?” Alex asked incredulously as, beneath her hands, she felt Kara’s body trembling.

“I don’t see what the problem is. She agreed to be restrained and to the use of the kryptonite. I explained everything to her before we proceeded with the … test,” Dr. Hill interjected. “I believed, and still do, that the solution will be most effective without her Kryptonian cells fighting it.”

“Dr. Hill, did you have a chance to look over the notes Dr. Danvers left? Specifically, those regarding Supergirl’s –”

“I looked them over,” Dr. Hill sniffed. “I don’t see what their relevance is to –”

“Their relevance, doctor, is Supergirl’s physiology. It’s why I require strict adherence to all the protocols Dr. Danvers developed. Under certain circumstances, yes, kryptonite may be used to aide medical treatment. This, however, is not one of those times,” Hank finished. “Dr. Hamilton, you know about the protocols and –”

“I told her you approved,” Dr. Hill interrupted again. “This shouldn’t have happened. I’m sure you would have approved the –”

“Guys,” Kara said barely loud enough to get anyone’s attention. “Go someplace else to argue, please.”

“Dr. Hill, my office,” Hank snapped and left the room with the requested doctor in tow.

“Supergirl?” Alex kept her voice soft, “Do you want to get up now?”

“Nope. Not moving my head from this spot.”

“Okay,” Alex agreed. She looked up and addressed the remaining doctors, “I’ll take it from here.”

Dr. Ruiz looked like she wanted to argue but was dissuaded by a sharp shake of the head from Dr. Hamilton.

“They’re gone,” Alex said after the women departed. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“What that other doctor said. Alex, they didn’t do anything but open up the box with the kryptonite. It hurts so bad … can we not talk right now?”

“Sure thing. No talking,” Alex agreed and gently squeezed her sister.

/

“The long and short of it is,” Dr. Hamilton reported to Hank several hours later, “because she was exposed to the kryptonite before her eyes were treated, the chemical from Lord’s bomb coupled with the chemicals from the melted eye inserts … well, it isn’t good, sir.”

“How ‘not good’, doctor?” Hank asked arms folded over his chest.

“Her eyes will need to be rinsed every nine or ten hours on a permanent basis. She’ll most likely always have some degree of … discomfort. Even immediately after the treatments. I’m sorry, sir. I should have personally checked with you before exposing her to the kryptonite,” Doctor Hamilton raised her chin. “I take full responsibility as the head of the medical department. There isn’t –”

“Enough, doctor,” Hank rubbed his forehead. “I’ve contacted Dr. Danvers. Apparently, the sabbatical she put in for was approved and she will be flying in tomorrow to assist you in reversing whatever damage was done to Supergirl’s eyes. In the meantime, is there anything else we can do?”

Dr. Hamilton shook her head, “I’d like to try the chemical solution Dr. Ruiz and Dr. Hill came up with but not until Dr. Danvers arrives to double check their work.”

“Good idea,” Hank agreed. “Where is Supergirl now?”

“She’s with Agent Danvers consulting the hologram. Agent Danvers thought it might be able to help,” Dr. Hamilton answered then added, “One other thing, sir. It seems her sonar ability, for lack of a better term is a little off. She bumped into a few things while leaving with Agent Danvers which was unusual. It may be due to the pain, I’m not sure. I don’t want to do anything further until Dr. Danvers is here.”

/

Kara tuned out the words, the science spoken between Alex and Alura, and let the comfort of her mother’s voice wash over her as she tried to grasp her new reality. I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to work now or even live with Cat in the outside world. Doc Hamilton said this is as pain free as it’s ever going to get. I wonder if Eliza can somehow detach the nerve endings. I’m so glad she’s coming.

“Hey. Earth to Kara. You there?” Alex sounded concerned.

“I’m here. You done already?”

“You must have dozed off. It’s … well four hours or so of talking chemistry was probably a little much for you right now,” Alex acquiesced. “You want to go get something to eat?”

“I’m not hungry right now,” Kara said surprising herself with how true the statement was. “No, really. Go get something to eat. I’m going to stay here for a bit. Okay?”

“You want me to stay with –”

“No. Alex I’m good. Go ahead and get something to eat,” Kara encouraged. “I’ll stop by your lab in a couple of hours. Don’t try and tell me you aren’t itching to get in there after talking science with my mom for the past few hours.”

“Okay, your loss. They have the meatloaf special tonight. I know how you love the mashed potatoes,” Alex tried tempting her.

Kara waited for Alex to leave the room and was surprised how much more concentration was needed to listen to sounds. She stood up and listened for the echo of the sound to locate the nearest wall. I thought it was just a fluke when I bumped into those things leaving Dr. Hamilton’s lab. It’s this stupid headache. I have to concentrate on noises but noises make my head hurt worse. I guess I’d better ask Alex to get me my cane after all.

Chapter Text

“We’ve got her on the solar bed like you said, mom. I rigged a kind of visor to enclose her eyes.”

“Is it helping her to manage the pain?” Eliza asked as she gave her daughter a brief hug.

“She’s even asked for food,” Alex never thought she’d see the day when Kara refused food.

“Let me look in on her and then take me to your lab so I can get started.” Eliza forestalled Alex’s usual suggestion she rest first by adding, “I slept on the plane. You, however, look like you haven’t slept in a couple of days. Show me where she is and then go get some sleep.”

“The room she’s in is also the lab we’ll be working in and I’m staying with her. I had the guys bring in a cot for –”

“No, you’re not. Alex, sweetie, you need some real rest. I’ll have to take some swabs of Kar – Supergirl’s eyes. Probably do some other things that may not be … pain free,” Eliza admitted. She fixed her daughter with a serious look, “Trust me to watch out for her.”

Alex nodded. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this exhausted. I think I slept Saturday night …

“What’s today, mom?” Alex asked then clarified, “I mean the day not the date.

“Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon,” Eliza’s lips quirked in a half smile knowing exactly why her daughter asked the question. “How long?”

“Saturday night.”

“Uh-huh,” was Eliza’s only reply as mother and daughter entered the lab where Kara lay under the sun bed.

“Dr. Danvers, so very nice to see you again, ma’am” Agent Vasquez greeted Eliza in a soft voice.

“Susan, nice to see you also. Are you –”

“Just keeping her company, ma’am.”

“She makes the best chocolate shakes,” Kara said from her position on the sun bed.

Eliza took in the three drained glasses and two large empty pizza boxes on the stand next to the sun bed, “Alex told me your appetite is back, Supergirl. That’s good to hear although, by the looks of the leftovers, I wonder if something a little more nutritionally sound may have been a better choice.”

Susan Vasquez cocked her head at the last comment. Boy, Dr. Danvers sounds almost like my mom. I can’t believe she actually is talking to Supergirl like that.

“Well, the milkshakes and cheese are dairy products,” Kara sounded almost petulant, “and Winn had them put plenty of vegetable toppings on the pizza, right Agent Vasquez?”

“Uh, yeah, right. Plenty of vegetables. I, um, I’ve got to get back to work.” Susan couldn’t shake the feeling she was in the middle of a family squabble, an old family squabble. She quickly gathered the remains of their lunch. “See you later, Supergirl.”

Eliza waited until both Alex and Vasquez left the room before asking, “On a scale of one to –”

“Eight,” Kara answered. “The sun bed helps. That was a good idea, thanks.”

“I see your sister has everything already set up for me here and I went over all the files Dr. Hamilton sent over. Let’s get started.”

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

“I thought Travanti was never going to let you get off the stand,” Lucy said Wednesday night after the remainder of Cat’s testimony was completed. “I can’t believe he didn’t read the looks the people on the jury were giving him. The one woman wearing the blue shirt actually started rolling her eyes at his inane questions.”

“I believe he was grandstanding in front of his boss. I’m not sure what he thought he’d gain by it. Max isn’t one to give second chances to those who …disappoint him, Cat observed walking briskly down the courthouse stairs surrounded by police officers holding the press at bay. “At least Ms. Butler got in some exercise jumping up to object to every other question he asked.”

“The judge wasn’t impressed with his line of questioning either. I think the only reason he let Travanti go on as long as he did was because all the media attention focused on the trial. I knew it was a mistake for him to allow cameras in the courtroom. I think he’s beginning to regret his decision too.” Lucy shook her head and added conspiratorially, “His court clerk told me he hired a makeup artist after he saw what he looked like on television.”

“Yes, well, I’m not sure it helped,” Cat opined as they reached the street. She changed the subject, “Alex texted me. Told me Kara was asking to see me. She’s not sure when, or if, she’ll be able to leave the …hospital. Speaking of which, give Mr. Olsen my warmest regards when you see him.”

“I will. The doctors are encouraged by the progress he’s already made. They said it was fortunate he’s muscular. According to his surgeon, the denseness of the muscle fibers actually helped contain the bullet fragments and minimized the damage to his internal organs,” Lucy said as she prepared to enter the specially modified limousine Cat’s newly hired security agency provided. “I’ll be back in a few hours. I have to prep for Dr. Grey’s testimony tomorrow.”

Cat gave a quick nod and followed her security team as she was escorted across the street and to her suite. As a very wealthy, famous, powerful woman, she was well acquainted with the need for personal security but had always preferred a much lower keyed approach … until now. Cat, after confirming Lois Lane’s claim of a one-million-dollar contract on Carter’s life and Kara’s absence, decided the best way of deterring any more attempts was to go conspicuous, flagrantly conspicuous, with security. Carter wasn’t happy with the arrangement but he was alive to complain about it and that was all Cat cared about. Her civil attorney, Paul Townsend, was already petitioning the court to freeze all of Lord’s assets. Once the court ruled, and she was confident it would rule in her favor, Max Lord wouldn’t have the money to pay someone to kill her son. They could resume a subtle security approach again.

If Kara were here, even blind, I wouldn’t need to hire anyone else. Carter … Adam … she’d keep them both safe. Face it, Cat, that’s the reason you didn’t immediately insist on having her go get her eyes checked out Sunday night. You didn’t want to lose your personal security blanket – Carter’s personal security blanket, and now her sister texted me she may never leave that place.

“Tasha” Cat addressed one of the bodyguards, “I’ll be going out tonight. I’ll use Tony and no, I won’t need any extra security. The … police will provide the security.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant,” the woman nodded.

Once inside her suite Cat placed a call to Alex.

“She’ll be so excited when I tell her,” Alex said. “She’s … had a rough week so far. Your visit would really cheer her up. What time do you want to meet?”

“Around eleven o’clock tonight? Is that too late? I want to make sure Carter’s tucked in and sleeping before I leave.”

“Eleven it is.”

“See you then,” Cat almost hung up before remembering, “oh, and I’ll also have a police escort. I promised Major Lane not to leave my temporary home without one.”

“As long as they stay with your driver we should be set. I’ll run it through Director Henshaw and give you a call back if anything needs re-adjusting,” Alex said before ending the call.

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

“Nolan! Sawyer! Lieutenant has a special assignment for you,” Sgt. Collins barked as the midnight shift officers were preparing to start their shift. “Head up to the Watch Commander’s office, pronto.

“Crap, sounds like another babysitting detail again,” Nolan moaned as he led his recruit towards the office.

“Well, that last one didn’t go so bad,” Maggie reasoned. “We got the bad guy and no one was killed.”

“Yeah, and we also had four hours of paperwork. I barely got home in time to get my daughters off to school,” Nolan said as he entered the Watch Commander’s office.

“Hey, Gary, have a ground ball for you and your partner tonight. Cat Grant needs a police escort. Apparently, she’s supposed to meet with some Feds – probably has something to do with the Max Lord trial. Anyway, escort her limousine to the rendezvous, wait there, then escort her limousine back after the meeting. Get your gear and head out. You have ten minutes to meet her limo in front of the Franklin Park,” Lt. Murray ordered.

“Hey, see?” Maggie smiled as the two officers left the office, “No paperwork.”

Nolan shot her a dirty look, “Yeah, famous last words. Now you’ve jinxed us for sure. Don’t they teach you guys anything in Gotham?”

Maggie laughed, “I’ve got the paper this time, okay? Your forms aren’t too different then Gotham’s. Won’t be a problem.”

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

“The police escort arrived, Ms. Grant,” Tony’s polite tone hid his disdain at the tardy police escort. When Ms. Grant said she wanted to leave at a certain time she didn’t mean three minutes later. “I’ll brief them on our route then we’ll be on our way.”

He took her wave of hand as a ‘yes’ and made his way back to the scout car.

“National City’s Finest is a little late tonight,” Tony began as he leaned into the patrol car’s open window.

“Sorry,” Maggie smiled sweetly from behind the steering wheel. “You know … woman driver.”

Paul Nolan, sitting jump tonight, almost spat out his coffee. Sawyer drove like a bat out of hell, a skill she said she picked up while living in Gotham City.

“Yeah, well,” Tony said a little flustered. She was kind of cute. “Follow me.”

He was halfway back to the limo when he realized he hadn’t gone over the route with the officers. He almost turned back around then decided against it. I’ll go slow so she can keep up.

“Damn, too bad he’s got Cat Grant in that Limo. I bet I could sucker him to race you and make some big bucks,” Nolan laughed. “Bet you’ve done some hustling in the past, Sawyer. Care to share?”

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

Alex waited impatiently at the rendezvous point. It wasn’t like Cat Grant to be late … at least not to meetings. Seven minutes late. Maybe I should ask Hank to send up a chopper. Nope, there they are. Did Cat hire a new driver? Tony never drives like an old lady … wait, oh, I don’t believe it. Those are the same cops from the other night. Think I’ll have some fun …

Alex waited until the limousine came to a stop, the patrol car behind it, before she hit the accelerator hard, braked harder as she cranked on the wheel. A shower of dust, dirt, and pebbles rained onto the patrol car as the SUV completed it’s ‘doughnut’ and ended up parallel to the limo, the SUV’s front passenger door next to the rear left door of the limo. Alex leaned over the seat and opened up the passenger door.

“Get in Cat. Hurry!” Alex made sure to sound as if urgency was of the utmost.

Cat, looking concerned, almost jumped from the limo into Alex’s SUV.

“Close the door! Close the door!” Alex ordered then, “hang on!”

The SUV leapt forward then made another hard turn causing even more of the desert to rise up and cover the patrol car before speeding off.

“I don’t believe it! Nolan, did you see who was driving that SUV? It’s the Fed from the other night. The one that ran Heath off the road,” Maggie reminded him her fingers itching on the wheel of the scout car.

“We should probably plan a little ‘greeting’ for her when she brings Grant back. What do you think?” Nolan looked over at his partner who had a fierce grin on her face. I pity the person who ever tries to best you in a fight. “Oh, one other thing,” Nolan added, “you know who washes the car when we get back, right rookie?”

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

“Care to share what that was all about?” Cat asked after realizing the urgency in Alex’s voice had nothing to do with Kara. “Did the NCPD issue you another speeding citation?”

“No. The other night, I was on a stakeout and there was this … never mind. It’s hard to explain. You sort of had to be there,” Alex finished lamely.

“Ummm. I see where your sister learned her eloquent use of the English language. Speaking of Kara, how is she? Any changes?”

“Not really, no,” Alex admitted. “She’s confined to the sun bed almost full time - it helps her to manage the pain. We’re live streaming the trial for her while my mom and Doc Hamilton work. By the way, my mom wanted to compliment your remarkable restraint when the defense lawyer suggested you deliberately placed Carter in danger by befriending an alien.”

Cat was too shaken by Alex’s revelation about the amount of pain Kara was in to focus on anything else. Guilt, a feeling she usually did not allow herself to indulge in, settled heavily on her shoulders. I should have made her go to the DEO immediately Sunday night. What the hell was I thinking? She recalled the phone call from Director Henshaw Monday night:

“Ms. Grant,” the Director’s voice was short and clipped. “I regret to inform you Supergirl will need to remain at the DEO for the foreseeable future due to medical reasons.”

Cat waited for a further explanation. None came. She ventured to ask, “Is it her eyes?”

“Yes. She’s in considerable pain. We’re doing our best to control it and … I’m sorry Ms. Grant. I have pressing matter to attend to. I’ll be in contact with you if anything changes.”

The phone call ended before Cat could ask anything further. She left unanswered messages for Alex and Kara. Frustrated, Cat turned her focus on Carter and on her testimony. It wasn’t enough. She almost sobbed with relief when Alex left the text message for her Wednesday afternoon stating Supergirl wanted to see her.

Alex noticed Cat was quiet, well, actually, noticed the lack of verbal barbs Cat usually peppered her with. Aside from her one remark about of Alex’s verbal skills, Cat hadn’t insulted her once. Alex shrugged her shoulders and began plotting how she was going to one up the cops when she brought Cat back. She was pretty sure Hank wouldn’t let her take the Stryker armored assault vehicle.

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

Cat’s heart dropped when she saw the empty sun bed in the corridor outside the lab where Alex indicated Kara was ‘resting’.

“Where is she? I thought you said she was using the –”

Alex took in the details of the medical equipment as they neared, “It’s not the one she was on. This one is older. Looks like they’ve put it here in case the other one fails or … becomes unusable.”

“Oh,” Cat remembered what happened to the sun bed when Kara woke up from the bomb explosion.

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

“I’ve gone through this equation three times and everything seems correct,” Eliza mumbled as she compared it with Dr. Hill’s work. “I think this will work, Supergirl.”

“I’m glad I waited until you arrived, Dr. Danvers,” Dr. Hamilton said as she examined the differences between the two formula’s. “As much as I admire Dr. Hill’s work in human biochemistry, he should have waited until we obtained swabs of the effected tissue before coming to his conclusions. Are you up for an eye rinse, Supergirl?”

“Sure,” Kara answered from the sun bed. Please, let this help stop burning. Rao, I don’t care if it burns out the nerve endings and I never see again. I don’t want to live the rest of my life laying on a sun bed waiting for the pain to go away.

“I don’t know how bad this will hurt,” Dr. Hamilton warned. “Do you need to … hold onto something?”

“No. Go ahead. I’ll be fine.” Or I won’t be.

“I’ve got to call Director Henshaw and get his approval,” the doctor stated. She didn’t want to reveal the real reason for the call to Eliza or Supergirl; Agents armed with kryptonite darts were to stand ready in case Supergirl became uncontrollable.

“I see the extra sun bed in the hallway,” Alex said without preamble as she entered the lab with Cat in tow. “Did everything check out with the equations? Are you ready to try the new rinse?”

“As soon as we get the go-ahead from Director Henshaw. Dr. Hamilton’s calling him now. Ms. Grant, nice to see you again,” Eliza greeted Cat who hadn’t taken her eyes off of Kara since entering the room.

“Yes, nice to see you to,” Cat answered distractedly.

“Hey, Cat,” Kara said from the sun bed. “Hey, Alex. Eliza’s gonna get me all fixed up here in a minute.”

“Yeah? That’ll be great,” Alex walked to her sister’s side and rubbed her upper arm gently.

“Carter and Adam send their regards,” Cat offered unable to think of anything to say now that she was actually here. “They asked me –”

“We’ve got the approval,” Dr. Hamilton interrupted as she hung up the phone. “Agent Danvers, Ms. Grant, why don’t you wait outside. There’s not a lot of room in here and if anything goes –”

“Not happening.”

“No.”

Alex and Cat turned toward the doctor as one assuming almost identical poses with their arms crossed in front of their chests.

“I’m only concerned about your safety. In case things go … badly,” the doctor stammered obviously intimidated.

“We’ll be fine,” Cat said with finality then added, “We’ll be right here for you, Supergirl.”

“I suggest we get started, doctor,” Eliza said crisply. “Alex? Turn off the sun bed. Supergirl, keep your eyes closed tightly. When Dr. Hamilton removes your eye protection, I’m going to start pouring the rinse on your eyes. I want you to slowly start to open them when I tell you to. Once your eyes are fully opened I’ll do a thorough rinse. That should totally alleviate the burning pain. Okay? The solution should not cause any more pain. Let me know immediately if it does.”

Dr. Hamilton removed the eye protectors and Cat watched Kara’s body relax as the fluid Eliza poured on her eyes took effect. It’s working! It’s taking away the pain!

“Almost done,” Eliza carefully rinsed out both Kara’s eyes. “Alex, hand me the towel.”

Eliza began dabbing at the excess fluid running from Kara’s eyes, “How is the pain, Supergi-”

Kara’s hand shot up and grabbed Eliza’s wrist then wrested the towel from her hand. Dr. Hamilton stepped toward the phone as Kara sat up then hunched over clutching the towel to her face.

“Supergirl?” Cat approached cautiously.

Kara remained hunched over and her voice was muffled, “Cat, I thought you said you weren’t going to wear heels to the DEO ever again?”

“I hadn’t planned on it but Neville hasn’t sent over – wait, how do you know –”

“Supergirl?” Alex stepped closer and put her hand on her sister’s shoulder.

Kara scrubbed at her face once more with the towel, “Alex, your boots are scuffed. You know you’re setting a bad example for the troops.”

Slowly Kara raised her head. Her trademark ‘sunshine’ smile in place.

“Nice to see you all of you again.”

Chapter Text

“How did you know?” Cat asked Eliza after the initial excitement died down.

“I didn’t. Not for sure.” Eliza then explained, “Alex told me Supergirl was exposing her eyes to the sun on an almost daily basis. She was trying to burn off the residue plasma left from the bomb. This was similar except the chemicals from the inserts acted as a catalyst to speed up the burning and, the use of the kryptonite, severely limited the ability of her cells to regenerate. By my calculations, it would have taken another seven or eight years, at approximately a 20 minute a day exposure for the plasma to completely burn away.”

“I guess I owe Dr. Hill an apology,” Alex said as she tried to get her face muscles under control before leaving the lab. The carefully cultivated Danvers’ ‘kick ass and take names’ demeanor would take a serious beating if other agents saw her grinning like a fool. “I’m going to let –”

“If you said you were going to let Director Henshaw know, you’re too late,” Hank said as he entered the lab. “Glad you’ve regained your eyesight, Supergirl. Nice work Dr. Danvers. I take it I won’t need to reassign Dr. Hill?”

“We were lucky,” Eliza began. “If the –”

“Please, let me,” Dr. Hamilton interrupted. “Director Henshaw, what Dr. Hill did, lying about receiving your approval and using Supergirl as an experiment instead of as a patient, warrants his dismissal. What Dr. Danvers didn’t mention was, if not for her suggestion for us to use the sun bed to help Supergirl regulate the pain, she literally might have gone insane or suffered permanent brain damage. The rinse he and Dr. Ruiz formulated was not the same as what Dr. Danvers came up with. I doubt it would have worked looking at the chemical composition. If Dr. Hill is allowed to stay on staff I will tender my resignation as Chief Medical Officer.”

“Wait,” Kara said. “I know he meant well. I’m sure –”

“No.”

All eyes turned to Cat Grant who was radiating authority.

“Ka-Supergirl. I know you like to see the best side in people. It’s a trait I’ve grown to admire but in this instance Dr. Hamilton is correct. That other doctor had no business treating you like a guinea pig. I daresay, the DEO isn’t in the business of experimenting on aliens, is it Director Henshaw?” Cat cocked an eyebrow at Hank as Kara and Alex exchanged glances.

“No. The DEO does not experiment on aliens,” Hank affirmed thinking of Cadmus and how close he and Alex came to becoming lab rats. “There’s no need for you to resign, Dr. Hamilton. I’ll have Dr. Hill transferred out immediately – with a letter of reprimand in his permanent file.”

“Thank you, sir,” Dr. Hamilton said. “I’ve already spoken with Dr. Ruiz. She was unaware Dr. Hill lied about receiving your approval.”

“Listen, guys, can we not talk about this now? I want to –”

“You want to blow this Popsicle stand, right?” Alex asked knowing Kara was itching to fly.

“Yeah, something like that,” Kara agreed. “Do you think –”

“I’ll check. He’s upfront talking with Vasquez. I think he said your suit was here,” Alex said as she gave her sister a quick hug before leaving.

“I’ve a lot of paperwork to catch up on,” Dr. Hamilton said feeling as though everyone there knew something she didn’t. Totally ridiculous, after all, I’m the Chief Medical Officer. I probably know more about Supergirl than anyone else in this room. “You’ll have my write up on the procedure tomorrow morning, sir.”

“Thank you, doctor. I look forward to reading it,” Hank nodded in dismissal.

“Well, I guess you won’t need to stay with me anymore, Kara,” Cat said after Dr. Hamilton left the room. “You can –”

“Not so fast, Ms. Grant,” Hank cut in. “Major Lane and I had quite the discussion several months back. She filled me in on the legal aspects involving your guardianship over Supergirl or, rather Kara Danvers. Until a court has dissolved the guardianship, you’re still legally bound by the tenets of the agreement. I suggest you speak with Major Lane regarding the matter. A word to the wise, Ms. Grant, the anti-alien coalition isn’t keen on letting aliens free of some type of human oversight. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a lot of feet dragging in this case.”

Kara frowned, “Yes, but … the reason for the guardianship isn’t valid anymore. I mean … I can see. I don’t need to be watched over.”

“You’re missing the point, Kara,” Cat said. “Now that the anti-alien faction has you, and me by proxy, in their grip, they’re not going to want to let you go.”

“But they can’t –”

“Not indefinitely, no,” Hank agreed, “but until Major Lane can spare some time from Max Lord’s trial I’m afraid your two choices are staying at the DEO full time or resuming the life you’ve been leading for the past few months. Your choice.”

“I’m sorry, Cat. I never thought this would happen. I’ll leave the decision in your hands. I’ll understand if you don’t –”

“For heaven’s sake, Kara, Carter will be heartbroken if I let you stay here. Besides, if you stay here Max Lord will have, in a way, won. I will not let that happen. Are you with me, Supergirl?”

“Absolutely,” Kara nodded.

“Hey, I’ve got your suit,” Alex said as she reentered the lab holding a package.

Kara took the package, grinning broadly, “Would you like a lift home, Cat?”

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

“Man, that would have been so sweet,” Nolan lamented as Maggie drove the scout car back to the city. Their planning to ‘get even’ with the Fed was dashed when they were recalled back to the city. Apparently Cat Grant wasn’t in need of a police escort or a limousine ride.

“Yeah,” Maggie was a little disappointed she didn’t have a chance to show off to the Fed when she brought Cat Grant back. “At least you won twenty bucks from Cat Grant’s driver.”

“Huh! Guess that’ll teach ‘em not to underestimate a woman’s driving prowess,” Nolan chuckled as he remembered Tony’s face when he had to cough up the twenty. “Too bad he wouldn’t take the bait and go double or nothing. Hey, you any good at pool? I wouldn’t mind taking in a few extra bucks here and there.”

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

“Hey, cuz, thanks for meeting us here,” Kara said to Superman as he met the two of them near the outskirts of National City. “It’s so good to see you!”

“Kara?!” Kal exclaimed with delight. “How, what …”

“It was Eliza. She figured something out … don’t ask me about all the chemical formula stuff involved – I wasn’t paying much attention. Anyway, I’m back!” Kara laughed.

“Uh, not so fast, Supergirl,” Cat said not thrilled with having a conversation in mid-air. Cat preferred looking out over the city from a balcony but didn’t want to deny Kara a little flight before she was grounded again. “May we finish this conversation on the ground, please?”

Kara slowly descended taking care to gently deposit Cat’s feet on the ground. She appreciated the gesture of kindness shown by Cat for allowing her to fly from the DEO to the edge of the city where Kara arranged for Superman to meet them. Both women understood it would be months before Supergirl could be allowed the freedom to fly again.

“Oh, Kara! I’m so happy for you!” Kal couldn’t stop beaming at his cousin as he enveloped her in a warm embrace.

Cat stood watching the two, inwardly moved at their mutual happiness. Still, she itched to get back to Carter … to make sure he was fine. “Superman. Supergirl,” Cat said with a touch of teasing to her voice, “as touching as this reunion is – all of this red, yellow and blue is starting to give me a headache. Please tell me the entire population of Krypton didn’t walk around dressed in primary colors all of the time.”

The cousins broke apart laughing, still with an arm around each other, and faced Cat.

“Ms. Grant, a pleasure to see you as always,” Superman greeted Cat. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for Kara. I owe you a great debt that –”

“No, Superman, I owe her a great debt. For my son … for my sons,” Cat emphasized nodding at Kara. “As much as I wish Kara was free of all constraints, the truth is, she is still under my guardianship until it is annulled by a court. That means no flying around as Supergirl. I appreciate you meeting us here and giving us a ‘lift’ home.”

“Glad to be of service,” he nodded.

“Give me just a second,” Kara said and, in a blurring motion, was dressed in civilian clothing complete with dark wraparound glasses. “Okay, all set.”

Superman put one arm around Cat and another around Kara, “Let’s go.”

The trio lifted off toward National City.

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

“Director Henshaw is correct,” Lucy acknowledged when Kara and Cat got back. “I’m sorry, Cat. I wrote an air tight contract for Kara’s protection – so the anti-alien coalition couldn’t weasel in to take her to Cadmus. I never thought it would be used this way. I mean, I didn’t build in any loopholes. This is going to have to make its way through the court system to be dissolved.”

“How … how long do you think it will take?” Kara looked guiltily at Cat.

“Listen, I understand your hurry, Kara but –”

Kara interrupted Lucy with an almost horrified expression, “Not for me but Cat … she still has a lot of responsibility because –”

“Kara. Stop,” Cat ordered. “I’m fine. I know what I signed up for and, at the time, was prepared for the responsibility on a permanent basis. Waiting a while longer is not an issue with me.”

Lucy noted Cat’s lack of a precise time line and smiled to herself. That’s someone who understands business. I’m glad, too. This could take a while.

“You shouldn’t have to, though. I mean I’m fine! Really! There’s no –”

“Listen, Kara, it is going to take some time. I can’t even think about starting the process right now, not with James in the hospital and Max’s trial. I can only do so much,” Lucy tried to explain. “I’m not Supergirl and, right now, neither are you. You can’t go flying around and saving people, not now. Remember what you said to the people of National City at the press conference? Let justice take its course then you can go back to National City’s superhero.”

“But –”

“No, Kara. We humans will have to muddle through without your services for a little longer.” Lucy gave Kara a quick smile then turned serious, “Cat signed the contract, was granted guardianship, and is solely responsible for you. You may not suffer any consequences but I can assure you, she will. The anti-alien coalition is going to fight this every step of the way. I guarantee, if there is even one i left undotted or one t uncrossed, she will be the one to suffer … made an example of. Trust me, they have the political power to do it too. They may not know Cat’s identity right now, the court documents are sealed and we only used pseudonyms for your real identities, but if the terms of the agreement aren’t scrupulously upheld, they will. Your real identity too, Kara.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought … that’s the reason why another attorney can’t start the proceedings?” Kara frowned.

“Yes,” Lucy nodded. “Actually, to help protect your identity, the court proceedings took place in another jurisdiction. I sort of made it sound like you were leaving National City to recover from your ordeal – so you wouldn’t be recognized. The DEO – Winn – made up at least thirty ‘dummy’ guardianships similar to yours and peppered them in sealed court documents throughout the country – including a couple here in National City. That man is scary awesome on a computer.”

“I didn’t realize how involved – how much effort everyone put in for me to live a normal life,” Kara slowly shook her head.

“So back to the way things were before,” Cat said briskly. “It makes sense. After all, Supergirl showing up at the same time Kara Danvers mysteriously has her eyesight restored is a pretty big coincidence. I suppose Kara Danvers will have some kind of operation that restores her eyesight prior to the guardianship being annulled or dissolved or whatever the legal term for it is.”

“Then Supergirl shows back up in National City a few weeks later – after the court has let Cat off the hook,” Kara finished Cat’s thought.

“You need to remember, Kara, I can’t stress this enough, Cat will be the one who pays the price if you decide to deviate from the agreement.” Lucy glanced at Cat and added, “Don’t let her get away with anything, Cat. No matter how logical or reasonable it sounds at the time. You have too much to lose … it won’t be a matter of money, either. Think Federal prison. Trust me, the anti-alien coalition is looking for blood.”

“Cat, you don’t have anything to worry about,” Kara hurriedly assured her. “I promise.”

“I’m not worried, Kara,” Cat admitted. “I read the papers I signed and understood the consequences. You didn’t let Carter down when you traded your freedom for his life. I’m sure I can count on your continued obedience to the rules I set.”

Lucy’s phone chirped. “Listen, guys, I have to take this. My dad’s called me all day long leaving messages while I’ve been in court. Sounds like he just heard about what happened on Sunday night.”

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

General Lane was frustrated beyond belief. It was bad enough his own daughter was involved in the prosecution of Max Lord but he had to hear about the attack on her life from a newspaper article one of his staff brought to his attention. It was all he could do not to react when he was presented with the article. He passed it off like the relatively old news it was, acting as though he already knew about the incident, then immediately checked the internet as soon as the staffer left his office. Lucy hadn’t called him nor answered his messages to her. There was no way she made any connection between me and Max Lord’s debacle. I covered my tracks. She’s worked with that alien, J’onn J’onzz, too long. He’s poisoned her mind against me. Maybe that’s why she felt she couldn’t tell me about what happened, she was afraid I’d defend Maxwell Lord. I have to talk to her … very carefully. Make sure she hasn’t gone over to their side completely. Come on, Lucy, pick up the phone!

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

“Dad? Hi, I’m sorry for not getting back with you sooner. I’ve been in court all day and this is the first chance I had to give you a call,” Lucy said rubbing her eyes. The long hours between court, visiting James in the hospital, and prepping for the next court session were taking their toll. “What’s up?”

“I’m worried about you, Luce. I read a news article today about an attempt on your life Sunday. Are you okay? Why didn’t you call me?” he asked. “I can send out a contingent of enlisted personal to act as bodyguards immedia-”

“There’s no need. I’m under police protection now,” Lucy cut him off. “I’m okay but … James isn’t. He saved my life, dad. Pushed me out of the way, shielded me with his body, and was shot.”

“But, why didn’t you call me? Let me know what happened?”

“Did you hear what I said, Dad? James saved my life and was shot. Are you even going to ask how he is?”

“I read in the paper that he was expected to recover. I’m more concerned about my daughter. Why didn’t you call and let me know there was a lunatic after you, Luce?” General Lane asked. “Is it because of the case you’re on?”

“I can’t say for sure. The police are still investigating. The guy who shot James was killed in a shoot-out with the police. All I know is, he was a career criminal – released from prison last year,” Lucy didn’t want to give her father any details about the case she was prosecuting. She was still angry with herself for acting on the ‘insider tip” he gave her regarding rumors of a traitor; a female agent providing Max Lord with classified information regarding the aliens held at the DEO. She mistakenly believed it was Alex Danvers. Only now, after going through massive amounts of data gleaned from Max Lord’s computers and not finding any classified information stolen from the DEO, she realized he was wrong. She was embarrassed for acting on an unsubstantiated rumor and hoped her father wouldn’t find out.

“Listen, Lucy, Maxwell Lord is a very rich man who has a lot of friends. Especially among the anti-alien crowd,” Sam Lane warned. “Please be careful. I don’t want you killed because you’re defending Supergirl. You –”

“I’m not defending Supergirl, dad. I’m prosecuting Maxwell Lord,” Lucy corrected.

“I know that, Luce, and I couldn’t be more proud of you,” General Lane deliberately skirted the issue of supporting her work. He had to get her to trust him. “Other people … the anti-alien crowd? They may not look at it that way. You’re either with them one hundred percent or you’re against them. It’s a very black and white issue for them. By helping to prosecute Lord they think you’ve sided with aliens over your own kind.”

“My own kind?”

“You know what I mean,” General Lane softened his tone. “They don’t know you like I do. You have integrity … no matter which way the ball bounces, you’ll go for the truth every time. I’ve never known anyone who so scrupulously adheres to the truth – even if it is … inconvenient sometimes,” he said then finished with, “I’ve always admired that about you, Luce. How principled you are. How you keep yourself out of the politics to uphold what’s right – the truth. I just don’t want you to get yourself killed doing it.”

Lucy hung up the phone. Her father’s words weighed heavily on her. He was right, she did see herself as someone who was neutral, who could be trusted to seek the truth no matter how inconvenient it was. She had to tell Cat and Kara, let them know she’d be watching. To make sure they didn’t bend the rules and … she would report it if they did.

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

“Can we go see James?” Kara asked after Lucy left the room. “You finished your testimony so you won’t be needed in court tomorrow. I can’t wait to tell –”

“No. Not right now,” Cat cut her off.

“I didn’t mean, like right now. I meant tomorrow,” Kara explained.

“I know what you meant, Kara, but I’ve several conference call meetings scheduled for tomorrow. For the rest of the week, actually, and Rafael will want to meet with me this weekend to plan the rebuild on my condo. Oh, I’ll let your boss know he can resume sending articles for you to edit. I’m sure he’ll be ecstatic,” Cat said with an almost disinterested air. “Maybe some time next week. When he’s feeling better.”

“Oh. Okay, that makes sense.” Kara was taken aback by Cat’s nonchalance. I’m missing something. She dropped everything to go check in on Leslie Willis at the hospital. Why not James?

“I’m going to ask you for a rather large favor, Kara.” Cat waited until Kara nodded her head before continuing, “I’d like you to continue to pretend your blind. It’s –”

“I thought we already settled that,” Kara was still puzzling over what was bothering Cat. “I’ll pretend I’m blind in public until the end of the trial, right?”

“Not only at work. When you’re with my sons, too. Especially Carter. I don’t want him doing anything foolish because he feels he can yell ‘Supergirl’ and you’ll save him,” Cat explained.

“So … basically I’m supposed to be blind again,” Kara frowned. “Okay. Anything else?”

“Just … let Carter help you. I’ll have a talk with him. Tell him he’s to watch out for you – keep close to you and help you out. That sort of thing,” Cat finished. “I’d appreciate if you let him …”

“Sure, that won’t be a problem. Carter’s a great kid and …,” Kara stopped and cocked her head as the pieces came together. That’s what this is all about. Now it makes sense. “Cat? Is that what you’re worried about? Someone else is going to try and hurt him?”

“Not hurt. Kill,” Cat almost choked on the word. “Lois told me there was a million-dollar contract on his life. I had her tip checked out. It’s an open contract … anyone can collect the money and, through the wonders of the internet, the contract is posted as if it’s a job listing … if one knows where to look.”

“Did you tell the police?” Cat fixed her with a glare that made Kara squirm and answer her own question, “I guess that’s why you have all this security. Can they, um, trace who put it up? Can they take it down?”

“Unfortunately, no. I mean, it’s already been taken down four or five times now but whomever posted it took some extraordinary steps to make sure it couldn’t be traced. I’ve talked with Chief Thomas. He said they’re shorthanded in the detective division right now. He promised, as soon as city council approves the position, he’ll get his newest detective on it. Apparently, she’s some hotshot out of Gotham City.”

“Don’t worry, Cat. Consider me the personal bodyguard of Carter Grant from now on,” Kara promised solemnly then added, “I’ll call Winn, too. Maybe he can figure out who’s posting the –”

“No, you won’t,” Lucy said as she reentered the room. “Let the police handle this. The last thing Winn needs is to get dragged into court. Do you really want to do that to him? Imagine the field day a defense attorney will have with him on the stand … the son of Toyman. It could get very ugly!”

“I never thought about that,” Kara looked sheepish. “You’re right, Lucy.”

“You didn’t tell her, did you,” Lucy said making it more of a statement then a question to Cat.

Cat shrugged her shoulders.

“What? What didn’t she tell me?” Kara looked from Lucy to Cat then back to Lucy.

“There’s a separate million-dollar contract on Cat, too. We haven’t found anything mentioning Adam Foster or Cat’s ex-husband. I’m assuming the contracts are related to the trial,” Lucy said.

“Well, then, I guess I’m now the personal bodyguard of the Grant family,” Kara amended. “I’ll just –”

“Kara, no. I mean … you need to promise me, you’ll concentrate on Carter,” Cat’s eyes were piercing. “He must be your number one priority. I mean it! Promise me!”

“Yeah, sure. I promise, Cat, but no one is going to hurt Carter or you or Adam,” Kara vowed. “What about you, Lucy? After Sunday night I –”

“I’m still under police protection,” Lucy acknowledged, “as are all the rest of our witnesses and the jury. We haven’t seen any murder contracts on the internet other than for Cat and Carter if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Well consider yourself under my protection too,” Kara offered and hastily added, “but Carter comes first. Don’t worry, Cat. I won’t let anyone hurt him.”

“There’s something else I need to tell you,” Lucy said not quite able to make eye contact with Cat or Kara. “I wasn’t giving you lip service when I said you have to follow the rules, Kara. I’ll be watching and I’ll report any violations of the guardianship contract. You expected the anti-alien coalition to uphold their part of the bargain and allow you to live outside the DEO when you were a possible threat, Kara. It’s only fair you uphold your part of the bargain and continue to adhere to the rules set forth in the contract. I don’t want to be caught in the middle – can’t afford to be caught in the middle … especially as second in command of the DEO.”

“Fair enough, Lucy,” Kara agreed remembering how hard it was for Lucy to accept her as Supergirl. “Thanks for letting us know.”

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

Ron Travanti licked his lips as he tried to explain the bungled assassination attempts to Max, “You don’t understand, Mr. Lord. They were supposed to be inside her condo that afternoon. My guy even barred their front door to prevent them from escaping. He said that there was no way that blind girl could have unblocked their door to help them escape.”

“What blind girl?”

Travanti became emboldened by Max’s sudden interest, “The one living in the other condo. My guy said he went into her place on Saturday to set the charge. He said she was blind as a bat and didn’t give him any hassle at all when he asked to come in. Obviously, she couldn’t even look at his credentials or anything.”

“Cat owns the entire top floor of the Treymour Madison … there’s no other condo,” Max informed Travanti. “What did this blind girl look like?”

“Well, I don’t –”

“Find out,” Max’s voice was razor sharp. “I want every little detail about her. Everything! Don’t fail me again.”

Travanti took the threat as a dismissal and hurriedly collected his papers. “I’ll have everything by tomorrow, Mr. Lord.”

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

Later, sitting in his cell, Max savored the taste of what he imagined would be his sweetest victory.

Chapter Text

“I contacted my ‘friend’ about the fire,” Travanti didn’t bother to open his briefcase or sit down. He knew this was going to be a short and not so sweet talk with his client.

“I seem to remember asking you to do that Thursday night. Were you too busy spending my money this weekend to be bothered? I’m growing tired of –”

“Mr. Lord, you must understand, some of the people I enlist do not keep regular business hours nor do they have a phone service to pass on calls. Anyway, my contact couldn’t tell me too much about the blind girl. Apparently, and I’ll paraphrase, her tits weren’t big enough for him to care. He couldn’t tell me anything else other than she was blind and not too smart for letting him in. He says he doesn’t like to know too much about the people he’s going to … end.”

“What color was her hair? Was it long? Was her skin mottled? How tall –”

“Sir, I’ve told you everything he told me,” Travanti broke in. “Seriously, I pressed him on the issue. He didn’t have anything else to say.”

“Can you find out where Cat Grant is living now? Who’s staying with her? How many –”

“I can tell you right now that she’s staying in the Franklin Park along with a boatload of security people and half of National City’s police force. I understand Major Lane is also staying there as her guest.”

“Anyone else?” Max started to sound desperate.

“Her son. That’s all I know. Major Lane is the only one who leaves the building aside from the security personal.” Travanti watched as Max deflated before his eyes. “If there’s nothing else, I have to prep for tomorrow’s testimony …”

“Yes, yes, go ahead,” Max waved him away. “Wait – let me know if your contact comes up with anything else on the blind girl, okay?”

“Yeah, sure,” Travanti agreed knowing he would never call the killer again.

/
Dr. Ruiz was thankful she was still working at the DEO. She didn’t know where her former colleague, Dr. Greg Hill, ended up although she heard rumors of some sort of a clandestine organization. Dr. Hamilton tasked her with the job of going through and cataloging all of Greg’s work in addition to her own duties as a chemist. Much of his work mirrored her own, they often worked independently of each other on the same problem to check each other’s conclusions. She was always interested when she came upon the handful of his projects she wasn’t involved in. After a month of sorting through his files, she came across one labeled ‘Supergirl Food Bar’. The unfinished project, unfinished because Greg had neglected to write a conclusion, was a chemical analysis of the ‘food’ Max Lord provided Supergirl.

This is interesting. I understand he wanted to give her a maximum of calories in a taste free bar but why are all these other elements in here? They’re totally unnecessary. Why this particular chemical makeup? Greg doesn’t provide any conclusions. I wonder how they react, if they react, with Kryptonian physiology.

Intrigued, Dr. Ruiz set the lab file aside to look at later.

/

Cat was pleasantly surprised how easily Kara adjusted to having an almost permanent companion shadowing her every move. After her talk with Carter, Kara found herself constantly followed and, almost pampered, by the boy. There were a few rough spots, Kara was not particularly pleased he decided to cut up her food, but he never overstepped boundaries once they were set.

Carter also informed Kara, gravely, that he too had boundaries.

“Kara,” he began in a serious tone. “I’ll help you with whatever you ask except … except…”

Even through the darkened lenses of her glasses, Kara could see the flush creeping up in Carter’s face. What could he possibly be that embarrassed about?

“Except what, Carter?

“Make-up. I’m not good with that stuff,” he blurted out. “Please don’t ask me to –”

“Carter,” Kara was careful to keep the laughter out of her voice, “it’s okay. I’m not going to need make up now and, if I did, I’m sure your mom would help me out. Thank you for telling me what makes you uncomfortable and I hope you let me know if there is anything else you find … difficult.”

“Uh … sure, but I think everything else is okay,” Carter was visibly relieved. “I was kind of worried about the make-up. I’ve never done anything like that and I didn’t want to make you look bad – not that you would ever look bad or –”

“It’s okay,” Kara assured him then changed the subject, “So, how do you like the on-line classes?”

/

As the days rolled into weeks then into months, the trial dragged on. Adam was the only one interested in viewing the broadcast and watched the proceedings religiously. Cat’s initial reaction was to forbid him from watching on principal – she didn’t want anything to do with Max Lord inside her domicile. She changed her mind after overhearing a conversation between Adam and Kara while Carter was busy with his studies.

“May I ask you something, Kara? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to,” Adam added quickly. “It’s about what I heard last week while watching the trial broadcast.”

“Sure, go ahead,” Kara answered with a bit of trepidation in her voice.

“I heard the one witness, Mr. Jones, say he had you searching the sewer system for a missing kid for like a week or so,” Adam stated.

Kara remained silent remembering the incident with vivid clarity.

“I guess … I guess what I want to know is why you kept searching. I mean, it should have been apparent that you weren’t going to find the kid after the first couple of days. You should have told Mr. Jones that,” Adam reasoned. “I mean, I realize you didn’t know you’d been punked, but still. How long were you supposed to search? I would have called it quits after the second day.”

“I, ah, couldn’t quit, Adam … couldn’t complain … couldn’t give my opinion,” Kara stuttered to a stop.

“But –”

“I couldn’t. It wasn’t allowed.”

“Who cares? I mean, you’re Supergirl, right? You should have just stopped doing what they said and had them all arrested,” Adam reasoned.

“No, I couldn’t,” Kara’s voice was soft. “He told me … Mr. Lord showed me, he had the capability of hurting Carter. He said he had placed some kind of virus inside Carter … a virus he could activate to cause Carter pain and, if he chooses to, kill him. I promised to obey him in exchange for Carter’s life. Whenever I did anything Mr. Lord was displeased with, he made me listen while Carter screamed in pain. I didn’t know it was all fake and, at first, it wasn’t fake. It was your brother really being hurt because I didn’t do what I was told. What would you have done?”

“I would have done whatever Max said - anything to keep Carter safe,” Adam agreed. “I’m sorry, Kara, what he did to you … to Carter was …”

“Criminal,” Cat finished Adam’s sentence as she strode into the room. “Something you don’t know, Adam, was Max fully intended to kill Carter if Supergirl hadn’t bowed to his demands. That device taken out of Carter’s head? It would have done the trick. The prosecutor let me look at some of the evidence collected from Lord Tech. He was prepared to kill Carter.” Cat paced the floor until her back was to Kara and Adam and she stood there, silent, before making her decision. She turned and faced Adam, “I was going to ask you not to listen to anymore of the trial, Adam, but I’ve changed my mind. I want you to hear, to understand, what Kara went through to save your brother. To understand how hate and fear can warp a man into a monster. If you have any questions I want you to ask me. I don’t think Kara needs to relive –”

“Adam can ask me too, Cat – as long as Carter’s not around,” Kara added. “Not talking about something won’t change the fact that it happened.”

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

Cat secretly was skeptical that Carter, much less Adam, would be fooled for long believing Kara was still blind.  Instead, she marveled at Kara’s acting skills, how she didn’t seem to always be aware of her surroundings, until she realized the occasional mishaps weren’t due to her pretending to be blind but because she was distracted. Kara was intently focused on making sure no assassin was able to collect the bounty on the Grants. Several attempts were quickly ferreted out by the police thanks to anonymous tips from the untraceable cell phone Winn provided to Kara. She slipped back into the sleep cycle, two hours of sleep every twenty-four hours, Max prescribed when he controlled her.

The importance on always being on guard was driven home one night by an attempt at three o’clock in the morning and another barely an hour and a half after. A two-million-dollar payout attracted the sophisticated as well as the common criminal. Kara didn’t always call the police. There were times she covertly used her powers, notably heat vision, to thwart attacks that had the potential of mass casualties, including bombs and, in one case, a missile. The attempts on Cat and Carter’s lives was never discussed. Cat was aware of only several of the attempts thwarted by the police only because Chief Thomas kept her apprised of the situation. The assassination attempts were never mentioned to Carter or Adam.

 

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

Kara sat in the small cloak room turned mini-office in Judge Summers court chambers. Lucy requested Carter and Cat attend closing arguments in Max’s trial. Several of the other victims of Max’s scheme were also seated in the courtroom. Lucy wanted the jury to remember the faces, the people, who were hurt because of Max Lord. It was the first time in two months Cat and Carter left their present home at the Franklin Park. Carter’s father, after learning of the million-dollar price tag on his son’s head, agreed to forgo his visitation rights for the sake of his son. Cat sent him a copy of the bill for the elaborate security entourage in an attempt to prove to him that Carter was well protected. She was surprised when he not only ceded his visitation rights to her for the time being, but sent a check to cover half of the security costs with an attached note offering to copay any other incurred costs. Kara continually scanned the courtroom, the court house, and the exterior of the court building for any signs of danger

Haven’t seen or heard anything unusual. Not surprising since the police have the entire area around the courthouse sealed tight. All the jury has to do is find him guilty and this will be all over.

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

Maxwell Lord didn’t hold out much hope for his fate as the jury filed out of the courtroom after receiving lengthy instructions from the judge. He saw how they pointedly averted their gazes from him. Even when he was on the witness stand lying his ass off, they wouldn’t meet his eyes. The prosecution presented their case flawlessly, had too much evidence, and, admittedly, the truth on their side. Max hoped to trade in on his celebrity, after all, he was one of National City’s top movers and shakers. Unfortunately, Cat Grant totally outclassed him in celebrity status and her son was one of his victims.

He almost snarled when his team of attorneys took up a genial conversation with the prosecutor. Like they’re old friends! None of their lives are on the line – they don’t face the possibility of going to prison for the rest of their lives.

“Mr. Travanti,” Max called to the only one of his team not to engage in the discussion.

“Yes, Mr. Lord?” Travanti asked.

“Would you mind refilling the water pitcher?” Max still had the power to order a seven-figure attorney to fetch him water and was going to exercise that privilege.

Travanti clenched his jaw at the thought of Max Lord ordering him around like a butler. He tempered his response knowing the trial was nearly over and he would be a few million dollars richer

“Sure thing, Mr. Lord,” Ron smiled in an effort to rankle his client.

“Get some more glasses, too,” Max waited then called out as Travanti went back into the judge’s chambers with the water pitcher. He enjoyed how his command caused the lawyer’s back to stiffen.

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

Travanti groaned inwardly as he saw the small group huddled around an open door in the hallway. My luck! Cat Grant, Carter Grant and Lucy Lane are all going to see me filling up a water pitcher like a common housekeeper. Who are they talking to? It can’t be Butler, she’s still in the courtroom. Sounds like another woman … don’t recognize her voice. Someone named Kara. Probably more security hired by Grant.

“Excuse me, ladies,” Ron said with a smile as he tried to negotiate his considerable girth around the gathering in the hallway. He was surprised at their uneasy reaction. He glanced in and caught a glimpse of a young blond haired woman sitting on a chair before the door slammed shut. “Ms. Grant, did you hire every security firm in National City?”

He didn’t like the way Cat narrowed her eyes as she looked at him. Like I’m some kind of bug or something. What gives you the right to judge me, you bitch? You’re in business to make money same as me. If we get our hands dirty who the hell cares? Green is green and it spends the same whether its dirty or not.

“What are you doing back in chambers, Ron?” Major Lane asked not giving Cat Grant the time to answer his question.

“His Lordship requested more water and cups,” Travanti answered as he held aloft the empty water pitcher with a flourish. “Apparently, he believes the jury will be out for quite some time.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Travanti,” she replied. “I think you’d better hurry and fill that pitcher. I think picking the jury foreperson is going to be the hardest decision they make today.”

Travanti offered her a tight smile then continued down the hall. She’s probably right.

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

“Agent Danvers,” Dr. Ruiz greeted, setting down her coffee next to Alex who was picking through a salad.

“Dr. Ruiz,” Alex looked up from her plate. Of all the people to join me for lunch! Truth be told, Alex still hadn’t forgiven the doctor for her role in exposing Kara to kryptonite with Dr. Hill. She took offense when anyone messed with her baby sister.

The doctor sat in silence for a few minutes, thinking about the lab tests she’d just completed. She sipped her coffee and looked around the mess at agents consuming different types of food before commenting, “I don’t know if I could have survived on the bland nutrition bars Max fed Supergirl.”

The non sequitur caused Alex to look over at the woman next to her prompting her to explain, “I was looking through the research Greg – Dr. Hill – was involved with before he … left us. Analyzing the food bars we confiscated. Pretty damn interesting … the chemical combination, I mean.”

Alex’s curiosity was piqued, “In what way?”

“The extra chemical compounds in the bars. They didn’t provide any nutritional value. I finally got some extra time and looked into his findings – I like a good mystery. I looked at his results and, by themselves, they were pretty benign which is why I think he put the project on the back burner.”

“Well?” The doctor had Alex’s total attention now.

“Something Greg kept forgetting to do – substituting human physiology for Kryptonian physiology. Although, in some respects they are very similar, in other respects totally different.”

“And?” It’s like pulling teeth … maybe I should ask J’onn to mind meld with her!

“The effect on humans would, most likely, be negligible,” Dr. Ruiz was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable at the stare Alex was fixing her with. “Kryptonian brains? That’s a different matter entirely.”

“What’s a different matter, doctor?” Alex said between clenched teeth.

“Those extra chemical compounds in the bar – the way they would react with the a Kryptonian brain. I’ve only had a week or so to study the results but, I believe, a buildup of those chemicals over months, would result in making a Kryptonian extremely susceptible to … let’s say a base program.”

“What the hell is a base program?”

The doctor was taken aback by the ferocity of Alex’s question and began to stutter, “It’s a … a …a, I mean … if someone conditioned her to respond to commands … like … like …”

“Doctor?” Alex ground out.

“What I mean … is … let’s say, for example, you continually used a certain sound – let’s say your voice – over a period of time to give orders. That would be the base program. The subject would automatically obey instructions given to them by that voice.”

“But … the chemical compounds … they would dissipate after a period of time, right?” Alex felt her chest tightening.

“Not really, no. I don’t believe so – it’s like a mild reverse of red kryptonite. There’d have to be another agent introduced to make the chemical inert. But Supergirl doesn’t have to worry about it. I mean, if Maxwell Lord used his voice as the base program. There is proximity involved – because of the tempered properties of the chemicals … I estimate she’d have to be within normal human hearing distance to be effected by any commands. Mr. Lord is in jail so Supergirl should be safe,” Dr. Ruiz added to calm Agent Danvers down.

It didn’t work. Alex was already running out of the mess hall before the doctor put down her coffee mug.

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

“Grant’s still so scared she has security people,” Travanti chuckled as he told another of Max’s attorneys, Dwayne Rogers, after returning with the water. “There’s one stationed in a closet back there in the judge’s chambers. Stupid place for her … then again, she looked pretty young, maybe they just wanted her out of the way.”

“How young?” Max asked feeling hope beginning to surge inside.

“I don’t know, twenty-four or twenty-five. Something like that – she was wearing a pony tail so maybe she was younger.”

“What did she look like?” Keep your cool, Max.

“I didn’t get a good look at her … white girl with blondish hair in a ponytail sitting down in a chair in the closet. That’s about it. I mean she slammed the door shut before I could get a good look at her. Heard Grant call her Kara …Carla … something like that. Why?” Travanti asked.

“Cat Grant was talking to her?” Max asked to deflect Travanti’s question. Who said only cats have nine lives! This is perfect!

“Yes. She and Major Lane. The boy was there too,” Ron frowned trying to make sense of the look on Maxwell Lord’s face. “Is everything all right, Mr. Lord?”

“Everything is fine. Perfectly fine,” Max said. Here I thought you were beyond my reach languishing in the DEO when you were within my grasp the whole time. Get ready, Supergirl. Time to serve your master. Max sat back and smiled.

Chapter Text

Kara felt … unsettled as she sat in the cloak room. She didn’t think it had anything to do with the two-hour-a-day sleep regimen she adopted during the trial. She knew she could subsist on two hours of sleep a day over long periods of time. Mr. Lord taught her that. Carter’s safety was more important than her physical comfort. For some reason, however, it took all of her concentration to continually scan the area for possible threats to the boy.

Listening to the attorneys give their closing arguments to the jury didn’t help. The prosecutor, Dawn Butler, laid out her case in excruciating detail – talking about events Kara was loath to remember. The defense painted a totally different picture; Maxwell Lord was only concerned with keeping humans safe from a rogue Supergirl – an alien who had already terrorized National City once before. They argued it was necessary, as a way to insure Supergirl was under control, for some of the disasters to be staged. However, she was responsible for her actions when she arrived. She alone chose if people were going to get hurt or killed through her negligence. The defense maintained Supergirl asked for their client’s help after the red kryptonite debacle. It was her idea to use Carter Grant as a pawn – a way to insure her cooperation if she reneged on their agreement.

Kara felt like she was drowning. Were they right? All those people hurt, some killed, because of my decisions. Mr. Lord wasn’t the one at the disasters, I was. I was the one people depended on to help them and I failed sometimes. He wanted me to do better. Told me to do better.

She was happy when Cat, Lucy and Carter stopped by after the jury began deliberations. Unfortunately, the visit was cut short when one of Lord’s attorneys walked by. Carter wanted to stay with her in the cloak room. Kara refused. She was having a hard enough time focusing on possible attacks. She didn’t mention it to Cat or Lucy. Cat promised to stop by after she and Carter had lunch. Kara nodded almost absentmindedly. Something wasn’t right.

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

Max, still seated at the defense table, surrounded by his attorneys, knew he didn’t have much time. Either the jury came back after a short deliberation or the court officers would take him back to the holding tank in the basement of the building – too far away for his plan to work.

“Travanti,” Max said a little louder than necessary, “you know when you fetched that pitcher of water it was like me saying SUPERGIRL, I AM YOUR MASTER. YOU WILL OBEY ME!”

His yell sent several officers rushing to the defense table ready to muscle out of the courtroom.

Max put his hands in the air in mock surrender and smiled, “Sorry, officer’s. I was trying to explain something to one of my attorneys. He’s a little hard of hearing. My apologies. It won’t happen again. I appreciate you guys in blue, you know. Tough job … not much pay, always second guessed. You’ve always had my support – trust me.”

“Uh-huh,” Sgt. Biggs diplomatically disagreed. “You sure you don’t want lunch?”

“Ah, no thanks. I’m fine right here,” Max bit back a sarcastic barb about the so-called food served in jail. He needed the officers to let him remain in the courtroom. Don’t make waves. Not now.

“Suit yourself, just … tone it down some or have your attorney spring for some hearing aids,” the sergeant nodded and moved back away from the defense table with the rest of his team.

“What’s –”

“Don’t ask … you don’t need to know,” Max cut off Travanti. “If anyone asks, I’m doing some meditation. Don’t interrupt me unless the jury gets back. Got it?”

“Um …okay. You’re meditating,” Travanti was sure his client was losing it. A little longer and you’ll collect your fee. Let someone else take the case on appeal when he gets convicted. I deserve a vacation.

Max leaned forward to keep his face away from the cameras and the press. Let’s see if I got your attention, Supergirl. Get ready to be my puppet on a string. In a low voice, almost inaudible, Max began repeating, “Supergirl. I am your master. You will obey me.”

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

Kara grew restless. She knew she should eat. Carter had packed her a lunch containing enough food for a mini-buffet. It was … wrong, somehow. She didn’t realize she had stopped checking for any assassination attempts. There was something important, much more important, and she needed to pay attention.

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

“I can’t believe Max’s attorneys actually said that,” Cat was still livid over the defense’s closing arguments. Although she allowed Adam to follow the trial, no one else was. She felt a shudder pass through Carter when the defense attorney said Supergirl wanted Max to use him, forfeit his health and possibly his life, to keep her in line. Dwayne Rogers, a handsome man with an impressive physique, used his rich mesmerizing voice to weave an almost plausible narrative for the jury … almost plausible until actual evidence was introduced.

“That’s why he gets paid the big bucks,” Lucy shrugged as she scrolled through the messages on her cell. “I don’t believe the jury bought it. Not for a second.”

“It isn’t true, though … right?” Carter asked. “She wouldn’t –”

“No. It’s not true, Carter,” Lucy cut him off. “I’ve interviewed a lot of people and checked through probably terabytes of information and what that attorney said was a lie.”

“When we finish lunch, provided none of Max’s attorneys are lurking about, you can ask Kara yourself,” Cat offered as she silently damned Max Lord again.

“You have to realize, Carter,” Lucy tried to explain, “Mr. Lord’s attorneys are paid to say whatever they think will win the case for their client. The defense strategy all along has been to blame Supergirl for everything because they know she can’t testify on her own behalf.”

“Because she’s an alien,” Carter finished glumly. “It must have really hurt her feelings to listen to what that man said about her.”

“I think the prosecutor did a kick ass job. I bet the jury will come to a verdict before we finish lunch,” Adam said trying to brighten Carter’s mood. He was rewarded with a smile from Carter and quickly looked over to his mom and Lucy to see their reaction. He frowned as he noticed Lucy checking her messages. “Hey, Lucy? Why do you have a cell phone in court? We weren’t allowed to bring ours in. No one was.”

“Only attorneys are allowed their cell phones in the court building. That way there are no disruptions and no secret recordings made,” Lucy explained absentmindedly as she continued to check her messages. Dad, you know I’m in court, stop texting me every ten minutes!

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

Madeline Kelly was surprised her fellow jurors picked her as the foreperson. Beside the fact she had never served on a jury before, she was relatively young compared to the rest of the jurors. She supposed her job as a nurse in the Emergency Room of National City General had something to do with it. People naturally gravitated toward her, seeking her advice and trusting her decisions. She comfortable taking charge of situations and exuded a quiet competence that was not lost on the other jurors.

She looked at everyone as they sat somberly around the table. They were bonded together through the ordeal of this trial. After months of sequestration away from their families and, under heavy police protection, the jurors were all anxious to resume their lives. Time to get this show on the road, Maddie! It was Madeline’s job to make sure the deliberations were orderly and the judges jury instructions were followed. There were a lot of details to sort out before reaching a verdict. It could take days to complete deliberations on the thirty-one separate criminal counts against Maxwell Lord.

Madeline took a deep breath and cleared her mind. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt Maxwell Lord is guilty as sin of each and every crime they charged him with … and probably a helluva lot more too! Instead of going through and talking about each and every count and the evidence first I want to try something else. Everyone sitting in that jury box heard the same thing I did. Let’s see if they came to the same conclusion.

A short time later, with shaking hands, Madeline looked at the results from the ballot of the last count. Twelve guilty verdicts again. Solemnly she stood up and summoned the court officer. She handed him a note for the judge informing him the jury had reached a verdict.

One half hour later she was walking to the jury box for the last time with her fellow jurors.

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

“You’re needed in the courtroom, Lucy. The jury’s come back with a verdict,” the court clerk, Jill Miller, said as she walked in the conference room, smiling. “A two hour deliberation for a trial this long? I think you won your case, counselor. Congratulations.”

“We’ll see,” Lucy shrugged unwilling to make any other comment until the verdict was read.

“Judge Sommers wants everyone in there immediately. The verdict will be read as soon as the attorneys are all present,” Jill advised before turning to leave.

“This is it,” Lucy looked at Cat.

“Do you really think that lady was right? That we won?” Carter asked.

“I’m hopeful,” was the closest Lucy came to making a prediction. “I’ve got to meet up with Dawn. I’ll see you in the courtroom.”

“Don’t worry, buddy,” Adam told Carter after Lucy left the room. “I’m sure the verdict will be guilty. You heard the court clerk. She thinks the jury found him guilty. Come on, let’s go get our seats so we can watch when they put the handcuffs on that jerk for good.”

Cat silently watched as her boys kidded with each other while they walked back into the courtroom. The banter provided a pleasant distraction from the unaccustomed butterflies in her stomach. Please, let them find him guilty. Let this nightmare be over with once and for all! So preoccupied with the jury’s impending verdict, she forgot to look in on Kara until they reached their seats in the courtroom. No time now. Looks like everyone is here. What the hell is Max doing? Looks like he’s praying. Funny, he always acted like he thought he was a god. I guess he thinks the jury will come back with a guilty verdict too. You are responsible for all of this, you despicable coward. Lift your head up and face your fate like a man!

“All rise,” a court officer intoned as Judge Sommers entered the courtroom.

Cat watched as Max slowly rose from his seat, head down, lips barely moving. She narrowed her eyes. Years of interviewing people, reading their body language as well as listening to their words, told her there was something different about the way Max was holding himself. Instead of concern, tension, defeat … he seemed to radiate confidence … power.

The jury filed in the courtroom. None of them looked in the direction of the defendant. Except for the occasional shuffle or cough, the room was quiet as they took their seats in the jury box.

Cat couldn’t tear her eyes away from Max. Something wasn’t right.

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

“J’onn!” Alex’s yell reverberated down the corridor. The panic in her voice caused Vasquez to check all the prisoner cells for a possible escape.

“What’s the pro-” Hank began as he stepped out of his office.

“You have to get to Supergirl! Maxputsomethinginthefoodhehadhereat,” Alex exhaled. “He’ll be able to control her mind … you have to get to her!”

“What are you talking about? In my office – now!” Hank was already weighing his options as he dragged Alex into his office.

“There’s no TIME! If Supergirl gets too close to him he’ll be able to tell her what to do. He drugged her food!”

“How close is too close?”

“J’onn! We –”

“Answer the question, Agent Danvers … how close?”

“Within normal human hearing distance – that’s what Dr. Ruiz says. She studied the bars Max had Supergirl eat. We need to –”

“Where’s she at now?”

“She’s staying with Cat across the street from the courthouse,” Alex replied. “She’s across the street … what if he yells or something?”

“Did you try to call her? Or Cat Grant?” Hank asked leaving his office and heading toward communications. He needed to contact NCPD as soon as possible.

“Uh, no. I just … just came to let you know as soon as Ruiz told me about it,” Alex admitted following him out while reaching in her back pocket for her cell.

“Listen, I can’t leave the DEO – not without risking General Lane taking over. You get going. Take the chopper. I’ll talk to the police and make sure everything’s okay and,” his voice dropped low enough so only Alex could hear, “Kara doesn’t leave the apartment.”

Alex nodded her understanding. She had to get to National City fast.

“Vasquez! See that the –” Alex’ was cut off in mid-order.

“Chopper already warmed up waiting for you,” Susan nodded. “Good luck!”

“Thanks,” Alex turned and sprinted back down the corridor.

“Vasquez, get in contact with –” Hank began.

“No answer on Cat Grant’s cell phone, sir. I’m contacting National City Police now.”

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

Come on, Kara! Pick up the phone. Why won’t you pick up the phone?

“Agent Danvers! You can’t use your DEO cell in here – you know that.” The helicopter pilot, Sandy Bara, admonished. “We’ll be in National City in less than ten minutes. Stop fucking up my electronics or we won’t get there at all!”

“Sorry … can I patch in through the radio?”

“Sure. Do it yourself, though. The boss said to get you there ASAP and I’m trying to coordinate with the police to find a place to set down. Get with Vasquez. See if she can patch you through, okay? Don’t worry. We’ll get there soon enough,” Bara promised.

Alex was waiting for Vasquez to facilitate the link when she heard Bara ask, “That’s the closest? I remind you this is an emergency. Copy that. Set down at National City General and a police car will take the agent to the courthouse.”

Alex looked at Bara incredulously, “Are you kidding me?”

“The only other closer place to land is on the roof of police headquarters and it’s not that much closer than the hospital. This bird is too big to navigate landing in the street, Danvers. Have to set her down on a pad – sorry,” Bara took in the look of desperation on Alex’s face. “Listen, you’re only a mile away from the courthouse and the cops will be waiting for you with a ride as soon as we touch down. So, what … maybe a minute ride, maybe less, to the courthouse?”

Alex nodded. Taking her frustrations out on Bara wouldn’t help. Why didn’t I check those food bars myself? I should have known. Max always hedges his bets. Damn it! I have to get to the courthouse and gag that son of a bitch! What if Ruiz is wrong and Kara doesn’t have to be in normal human hearing distance for him to control her?

“Sorry, Agent Danvers,” Vasquez apologized, “there’s no answer.”

“Damn it, okay, never mind. Can you also get Dr. Ruiz on the line? I need to know everything she knows about those food bars.”

“Copy that. I’ll have her contact you immediately.”

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

Cat heard the first “Guilty” verdict and felt Carter clutch at her arm. She spared him a glance, a quick smile, then went back to studying Max. She cocked her head. He never stopped his chant. She could barely see his lips move … was he saying … obey me? The guilty verdicts continued as Cat tried to make sense of Max’s words. Fear coursed through her as the pieces came together, as Maxwell Lord turned and faced her, a wide smile of victory on his face. As the last “Guilty” verdict was read Max dramatically put his hand in the air as if reaching for something from the sky.

“SUPERGIRL! I AM YOUR MASTER! YOU WILL OBEY ME! COME PROTECT ME NOW!”

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

“Hey guys,” Alex said as she practically dove into the backseat of the patrol car. “I hear the engines in these cars are slower than shit. That true?”

“Faster than anything you could handle, Fed,” the bald officer said as he hit the gas.

Forty seconds later, badge and ID clearly visible in her left hand, Alex was bounding up the stairs into the courthouse.

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

“The defendant will refrain from any further outbursts!” Judge Sommers ordered banging his gavel. “Counselors, keep your client quiet or I’ll be forced to –”

“You will do nothing to him,” Supergirl said in a pleasant conversational voice as she strode into the courtroom. “He is under my protection.”

“Supergirl, stand aside,” Judge Sommers spoke with the self-assurance of a person accustomed to deference. “Maxwell Lord was found guilty and must now face punishment for his crimes.”

“He is under my protection and I will protect him,” Supergirl looked around at the various court officers as she stopped slightly behind Max.

“Supergirl,” Max said in a congenial voice, “do me a favor and set fire to that paper she is holding.”

Max pointed to Madeline who was still holding the signed verdict form in her hands. Without hesitation, Supergirl’s eyes flared and the paper was in flames.

“Good girl.” Max enjoyed the beaming smile he received in response. He turned back to the judge and cocked an eyebrow. “Any questions, your honor? No? I didn’t think so. Supergirl, please, etch my name into the front of the judge’s bench so he won’t forget me.”

In the matter of a few seconds the name, MAXWELL LORD, was seared into the wood with a flourish as the judge escaped into his chambers. The courtroom was in chaos. Max’s lawyers, as well as Lucy and Prosecutor Butler retreated to the jury box – as far away from Max and Supergirl as possible. Onlookers in the gallery shoved each other in their haste to leave the courtroom. Several reporters opted to remain, Lois Lane among them.

“Officers, may I remind you Supergirl is impervious to bullets and more than capable of making sure you won’t hurt me,” Max’s smile was almost predatory. “I know everyone wants to get home from work in one piece.”

The thinly veiled threat wasn’t lost on officers as Sgt. Biggs motioned for them to stand down. He didn’t want any of his people getting hurt over a meaningless display of bravery. No human was capable of standing up against Supergirl. The best they could do was protect the civilians in the courtroom and he barked out the order, “Do not attack Maxwell Lord or Supergirl. Protect the civilians in the courtroom. Help them get out.”

Max chuckled, “I assure you, sergeant, all I want to do is go in peace and enjoy my freedom.

“SUPERGIRL!” Alex yelled trying to get through the mass of people fleeing the courtroom. She stopped when Supergirl turned to face her and she took in the pleasant but blank look on her sister’s face. It’s like she knows who I am but … doesn’t care.

“Ah, Agent Danvers – Alex, so nice for you to come and visit me after all of these months. I’m sure you and your mom were very busy trying to help Supergirl. You failed, obviously. Oh, your mom came to visit me once while I was in jail. I got to tell her all about us … but, I’m over you now, sweetheart, so get out of my way,” Max ordered. “Supergirl, I’m ready to leave - out the front, I think.”

The words were barely out of his mouth when a court officer attempted to grab him. Attempted because, in the blink of an eye, Supergirl was holding the man a foot off the ground.

“He is under my protection,” she said as if she were speaking to a not-so-bright child. She set him back down on the ground and gave him a shove knocking him back into two other officers.

“Supergirl, snap out of it!” Alex stepped in front of her sister. “Fight this. Fight Max. You can –”

“I have to go, Alex. Mr. Lord needs me to protect him,” Supergirl gave a small shake of her head. “Take care of yourself.”

“No. You can’t,” Alex then turned to Max. “This is all your fault. I should have done this a long time ago.”

Alex was disarmed before she could even point her gun at Max. Supergirl crushed the barrel before handing it back to her sister. “J’onn can dock your pay for the gun. I told you, Mr. Lord is under my protection.”

Max smirked, “You know, Alex? You’re like one of those little ankle biter dogs. Pesky and noisy. Don’t make me sic my well-trained Pit Bull on you. Now step aside or Supergirl will have to get … vicious.”

Alex swallowed as she acknowledged Max’s threat and the calm acceptance in Kara’s face. She would do it, too, and with Max laughing and enjoying the show. The reality of the situation began to set in. There was nothing she could do to stop Max from taking her sister. She numbly watched as Max strode down the aisle toward the exit with Supergirl in tow.

“Mr. Lord,” Supergirl warned after scanning the exterior, “ten police officers are positioned outside the door. They want to stop you from leaving.”

“Well, that isn’t much of a problem, right? However, let me resolve the situation in a less violent way,” Max said as he turned and spied Sgt. Biggs ushering the jury to the safety of the judge’s chambers. “Sergeant, I advise you to use your radio and tell the people outside to clear the area. Supergirl might have to display a show of … force if you don’t.”

Sgt. Biggs nodded in understanding and sent the requested message over the radio. I knew it was a damn dog collar the first time I saw that thing around her neck. He’s got her trained like a dog. How are we supposed to stop her?

“They’re not moving, sir,” Supergirl advised. “Actually, more officers are joining them.”

“YOU THINK I DON’T MEAN BUSINESS?” Max turned and yelled at the sergeant who held up his radio and walked toward Max. Away from the civilians.

“I told them! You heard me. I got overruled by a lieutenant,” Sgt. Biggs’ dark complexion turned ashen gray.

Max was furious. How dare these peons throw his generosity back in his face. Stupid cops! “SUPERGIRL, KILL HIM!”

“NO! SUPERGIRL, STOP!” Cat’s voice rang out. She remained quiet, not trying to bring attention to herself or her sons during Max’s initial tirade but this? She couldn’t stand by and watch Supergirl murder a man because Max told her to. She remembered Kara telling her it was her biggest fear: Max ordering her to kill someone. It would scar the young woman deeply. Irrevocably change her on a fundamental level. She wouldn’t allow Max to do that.

Supergirl stiffened giving Cat time to move into the aisle, away from her sons, and directly in front of Sgt. Biggs.

“You don’t control her, Cat. I do,” Max said with a confidence he didn’t feel. She should have killed the cop immediately. There’s no way Cat’s voice can be imprinted … is there? She wasn’t in the room the first time Supergirl ate the bar … I shouldn’t have told Supergirl to kill the cop, though. That was my mistake. I can salvage this. “Supergirl, I’ve changed my mind. Don’t kill the Sergeant. I want you to make an example of him, though. You don’t have to play nice.” Max looked over at Alex and smirked, “Now you’ll see what my Pit Bull can do.”

“No! Supergirl, you will stand down. You will not harm anyone here, including Maxwell Lord.  I am your master. You will obey me,” Cat mimicked the words she heard Max say.

Supergirl walked slowly toward Sgt. Biggs. Max watched with satisfaction. He won. He hoped Supergirl would put on a show for the reporters and cameras still in the courtroom.

“Move, lady,” the sergeant said obviously not recognizing Cat Grant. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Cat willed herself not to think about a forty-story drop from her balcony. Absolute authority, Cat, make her bend to your will. You’ve done it before. Cat stood her ground not taking her eyes off of the approaching Supergirl.

“She wouldn’t dare.”

Chapter Text

Kara felt like her head was stuck in a vise. She had to obey. She wanted to obey. She needed to obey. Mr. Lord told me to hurt the police officer badly and Cat told me not to hurt anyone here. It doesn’t make sense. Should I hurt the police officer because Mr. Lord told me to do that first? But, Cat has given her protection to him and ordered me not to hurt anyone. Why are they giving me different commands? Is this a test? This must be a test! Who should I obey? Mr. Lord fed me, clothed me, and gave me purpose but, so did Cat. They each demand my best effort. They … they are the same. That’s it! I’m supposed to wait until I’m given the same instructions. That must be the right answer!

Supergirl slowed to a stop three feet away from Cat.

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

Alex watched as her sister stopped in front of Cat Grant. I don’t believe it! What the hell does that woman have over Kara? Like at the DEO – when Kara only listened to her. Okay, Cat, keep her busy if you can. I’m going to make sure Max doesn’t open up his damn mouth again and if he does I’m gonna shove my foot down his throat!

Alex waited months for the chance to kick Max Lord’s ass. She dreamed about what she would do to him, how she would make him hurt, but that was all it was – a dream. A dream where the only stakes in play were the two of them. This was different. There were too many bystanders, reporters, remaining in the courtroom watching the drama unfold. She had to be careful.

One other factor weighed on her actions: Max had obviously planned ahead. What if he implanted some kind of directive in Supergirl? Something along the order of protecting Maxwell Lord at all costs. With Supergirl as his personal bodyguard he would be the most powerful human on earth. If that was the case, and Alex was almost one hundred percent sure it was, when Supergirl saw her go after Max, she was toast. She did not doubt, after watching the casual display of violence Supergirl committed at Max’s direction, her sister would have any qualms about becoming ‘vicious’ against the person who hurt her ‘master’. Part of her brain wondered if Cat instinctively realized the same thing. The reason she ordered Supergirl not to hurt anyone there … including Max Lord by name.

I’ve got to take him out quickly and quietly. I can’t kill him as much as he deserves it. We may need him to help deprogram Supergirl … if he’d do it. Can’t say I think he would help but I know we won’t get any answers if he’s dead. Now’s the time to act, Danvers! You’re only going to get one chance at this. If he’s able to draw her attention from Cat it’s all over. No one will be able to stop him and Kara will be lost forever.

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

Lucy remained in the courtroom as the rest of the lawyers and all of the jurors fled to the relative safety of the judge’s chambers. She saw Alex stealthily wind her way through the remaining bystanders. She’s going after Max. Damn it, Alex! One word from Max and Supergirl will kill you! I don’t think she cares if you’re her sister. Please, Cat, keep Supergirl’s attention on you or Alex is dead. Crap! The police! If they storm the courtroom now Alex is as good as dead anyway – Alex and whomever tries to lay a hand on Max while he’s under Supergirl’s protection. There’s no telling what will happen, how many people will die, if the police storm the room.

“I need to use your radio,” she said in a hushed voice to the court officer standing near the jury box. She put her forefinger to her lips in a bid to keep him quiet. She didn’t want to risk disrupting the careful balance of power in the room. Let Cat and Max fight it out. All things being equal, my moneys on Cat.

The officer, most likely a rookie who appeared overwhelmed at the situation, wordlessly removed the mic from his shirt and handed it to her. He motioned for her to go ahead with the transmission.

Lucy took a moment to compose her thoughts before keying the mic. Keeping her voice modulated and slow she spoke, “This is U.S. Army Major Lucy Lane, assistant prosecutor in the Lord case. I’m in the courtroom now and it is imperative police units do not make entry at this time. There is not a hostage situation however, any police action at this time could result in fatalities. A Federal agent is working to resolve the situation now. I repeat, for the safety of everyone involved do not enter the courtroom at this time.

“This is Lt. Lask, NCPD Entry team. We’re watching events real time and will intervene if Supergirl assaults anyone.” A man’s voice crackled back over the radio.

Really? Just what the hell do you guys think you’re gonna do against Supergirl!

“Lt. Lask, sir.” Be diplomatic, Lucy. “Supergirl does not pose a threat at this time however, any outside interference may cause that to change. Please, give the agent a chance to resolve the situation peacefully.”

“This is Deputy Chief Ullman,” a different voice came over the frequency. “Stand down until further notice, Lt. Lask. Containment at this time only. Acknowledge.”

“Containment at this time only, acknowledged,” the Lt. responded.

Yes! Great! Now, how can I help Alex?

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

Mom!” Carter’s voice cut into Cat’s concentration.

“Carter, stay back! Adam, get your brother out of here. Go out through the judge’s chambers!” Cat ordered her eyes never leaving Supergirl’s. She was afraid of what might happen if she looked away.

“Is she going to hurt you?” came his worried response.

“No. She won’t. Supergirl will not hurt anyone here,” Cat said with growing confidence. Supergirl had stopped before dismantling the large man behind her. In her periphery, she saw a figure – Alex – moving through the courtroom. It’s about time you went after him, Agent Scully, do I have to do all the work around here? “Adam?”

“Yes?” Adam’s voice was full of trepidation. He didn’t want to leave his mother. Not when there was a madman controlling Supergirl.

“Take your brother out of here. Now!” Cat softened her tone, “I’ll join you in a few minutes, okay?”

“But I want to help you. I –”

“Now! Please. I need to know you’re both safe. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Adam. Carter. Come over here with me,” Lucy’s voice was muted. “I’ll get them out, Cat.”

“Thank you, Lucy” She was about to tell her boys not to watch the courtroom cameras when she caught a blur of motion in the back of the courtroom where Max Lord was … had … been standing. Keep her attention, Cat! Make her focus on you – not on what’s happening in back of her. Keep it simple. Basic. “Supergirl, I am your master. You will obey me. You will not harm anyone here.”

She searched the face in front of her for any sign of response as she continued to repeat the commands. Nothing. It was as if Kara was waiting for something.

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

I can’t believe it! She stopped! Why the hell did she stop? Is she listening to Cat Grant or is she not willing to go through Cat to get to the cop? I should have had her start to hurt people before, got her accustomed to it. I won’t make that mistake again. Now I’ve got to get control back – total control. Good, the boy is still in the courtroom. I can use him. She’ll respond to that part of her conditioning. I’ll have her fly me out of here. Away from Cat Grant. Then I’ll punish her, train her, test her until she doesn’t care who she hurts, maims, or kills as long as it makes me happy. My approval will be the only thing she wants! I’ll get the boy and – what the …

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

Alex was almost in position when Max started to move away - towards where Lucy was shepherding Carter and Adam into the judge’s chambers. No time for finesse! Move Danvers, now! Alex launched herself at the unsuspecting man. As they hit the floor Max looked up at her and smirked. The realization struck. Shit, I was right! He’s going to yell for Supergirl! She’ll kill me!

Max’s yell was cut off by the forearm Alex shoved in his mouth effectively gagging him as her other hand scrabbled for his throat. Max bit down on her forearm hard breaking the skin. Ow! Damn it! Enough! She kneed his groin at the same time as she grabbed his hair and pounded his head against the floor. He was dazed but still wouldn’t let go of her arm. She bounced his head against the floor once again and the pressure lessened enough for her to pull her bleeding arm out. Son of a bitch! Alex grabbed at the tie he had around his neck, twisting, tightened it, until he was unconscious.

“Here, use these,” came a whisper.

Alex looked up and grabbed the proffered handcuffs from the court officer Supergirl had pushed. She silently, efficiently, cuffed Max’s hands behind his back then nodded her thanks to the officer. Alex sat the unconscious man up and nestled up behind him using his body as a shield between her and Supergirl. She readjusted her grip with one hand keeping the tie firmly around his neck, ready to cut off the blood supply to his brain again if need be. The other hand was placed in a particularly sensitive place. She doubted however, that Max Lord was going to enjoy himself when he came to.

A quick look away from her prisoner let her know Supergirl hadn’t moved. Cat was still in front of her telling her something ... to obey her. Better Cat than Max, I guess. She looks like she’s wound up and ready to spring at any second but … she’s just standing there.

What’s the matter with her?” Alex whispered in his ear as she felt Max regain consciousness.

Supergirl stood frozen in front of Cat Grant.

Max shook his head as far as he was able and rasped, “I don’t know. She should have killed the cop the second I told her too. Cat shouldn’t be able to stop her.”

Alex tucked her head next to his to avoid him smashing his skull into her face. She whispered in his ear, “You’d better think harder, Max. You’re the genius who fucked up my sister. You’d better come up with an answer.”

Alex slowly started to squeeze and twist Max’s testicles until the pressure made him squeal. A sound she promptly cut off with a twist of the tie. “I’ll ask you again, nicely, what’s the matter with her?”

“Probably two oppositional commands,” Max got out then caught his breath as Alex released some of the pressure.

Alex frowned. Two oppositional commands … I wonder.

“You will give Supergirl the same command as Cat gave her. She is to harm no one here.” Alex’s “Understand?” was punctuated by a quick twist to his testicles.

“This is against the law -you’re …,” Max choked out before Alex tightened the pressure around his neck.

Odd, he isn’t calling any commands for Supergirl to save him. He may be telling the truth about the oppositional commands. She’s gonna be stuck until she only has one command and we both know Cat won’t let her hurt the police officer.

“You will either give Supergirl that command or you’re going to prison missing a few parts,” Alex promised as she reminded him, not so gently, of the parts to which she was referring.

Max yelped, “Don’t hurt anyone, Supergirl.”

Alex saw Supergirl begin to move and promptly increased the pressure on his testicles until Max passed out.

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

While her attention was focused on Cat, Kara could hear the sounds of a struggle in the background. Alex and Mr. Lord are fighting? No … no. This must be part of the test! To see if I’m insubordinate to Cat by moving when she’s demanding my attention. I won’t move unless they tell me to … wait, unless Cat tells me to. She’s the one who is demanding my attention. I will pass this test!

“Don’t hurt anyone, Supergirl.”

I knew it was a test! Mr. Lord doesn’t want me to hurt anyone. Cat doesn’t want me to hurt anyone. I can’t hurt anyone. I must have passed the test! I wonder why Cat’s staring at me like that?

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

Cat saw acknowledgement of the command register in Supergirl’s eyes. The tension seeped out of the young woman’s body until she was standing relaxed. Waiting. Why doesn’t she do anything? Say anything? She’s like she was when we rescued her from Max. Where the hell is he, anyway? Oh … my, that position certainly looks cozy, Agent Scully. Certainly something for the tabloids, anyway. Now that Max is taken care of … come on, Kara. Move. Say something. Not gonna happen, huh? Okay, I’ll go first.

Cat slowly reached out and touched Supergirl’s arm, “Are you okay, Supergirl?”

“Yes, I’m okay, Cat.”

“You’re not going to hurt anyone here, right?”

“No,” Supergirl said in a tone that indicated she found the question ridiculous.

Cat knew the next question she had to ask. She feared the answer. “Why not?”

Supergirl beamed as though she aced her final exam, “You told me not to.”

Shit!

Chapter Text

“Supergirl,” Cat continued to focus her attention on the woman in front of her. I need to make sure she listens to me instead of Max when he regains consciousness or this could be a war no one wins. “Agent Danvers is going to put a gag in Max Lord’s mouth. She is not doing it to harm him. He is under arrest and was convicted of many crimes. He will not be harmed and will not need your protection. You are to allow law enforcement personal to incarcerate Maxwell Lord without interference of any kind. You must obey my orders not his. Is that understood?”

“Absolutely. I did hear the guilty verdicts,” Supergirl concurred. “Alex needs to put a gag in his mouth so his constant babbling doesn’t annoy anyone while they take him to prison and … you’re the boss not him. Which makes sense since you sign –”

“Yes, yes, good you understand,” Cat broke in before Supergirl said ‘my paycheck’. She nodded to Alex who deftly used Max’s tie to gag him then let several police officers carry him out of the courtroom.

Alex made her way to where Cat and her sister were standing. Cat noticed the blood still seeping from her wound, “That doesn’t look good.”

“I’ll probably have to get a rabies shot but I’ll live,” Alex glanced down at the ragged, swelling bite mark nonchalantly and shrugged. Yes, it hurts like hell! I should have knocked all the teeth out of his mouth. Damn it, James, I thought you broke his jaw!

“It looks pretty bad. Why don’t you at least have someone take a look at it? No reason to risk an infection especially over him. I’m sure they have an ambulance or some kind of medical personal here. Supergirl and I will wait for you in the conference room,” Cat suggested.

“I can get it looked at later. Right now –”

“Agent Danvers, Alex, I promise. We won’t go anywhere until you get back. It’s a human bite. You need to at least get it cleaned and bandaged. We’ll wait,” Cat insisted. Give me some time to wrap my head around this, okay? You look like you could use a little time, too.

“Yeah, Alex,” Supergirl agreed, “I didn’t get a chance to have lunch so, if it’s all right with Cat, I’ll eat the lunch Carter packed for me while we wait for you.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea,” Cat said more than a little unnerved at the almost giddy expression on Supergirl’s face when she agreed with her. Oh, for heaven’s sake! Really, Kara? You should have eaten earlier if you were that hungry.

“I’m going to see if they have the paramedics still staging in the area. If not, I’ll have one of the cops grab me some gauze from their first aid kit and I’ll have my doctor take a look at it when I get back to … work,” Alex compromised. The wound really did hurt like a son of a bitch and she didn’t want to take the chance of getting an infection.

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

Alex sat on the gurney in an ambulance as a paramedic poured a cleansing anti-bacterial solution onto the still bleeding bite on her forearm.

“You should really be seen by a doctor for this, miss,” the gray-haired paramedic said as he covered the bite mark with a light gauze wrap. “Looks like the bite is deep and there may be tendon damage.”

Alex nodded not bothering to tell the medic the tips of several of her fingers were tingling and stiff. Indicating possible damage to the flexor digitorum sublimis. Good thing I shoot left handed as well as I shoot with my right – just in case. She’d have Doc Hamilton look at it when she got back to the DEO. Right now, all she wanted was the chance to beat the shit out of Max. Unfortunately, the police already hustled Max off to National City General for medical treatment before taking him back to jail.

“Agent Danvers,” an NCPD officer greeted as she stepped into the back of the medical transport. “I need to ask you a few questions about –”

“Not right now,” Alex snapped then took in the look of surprise on the young man’s face. Hell, he looks like a rookie. Probably is since he caught the paper on this thing. “Listen … Officer Mercer, I don’t have time to answer questions right now. My boss ordered me back to headquarters immediately if not sooner. I tell you what, I’ll give you my information and you can contact me later for a statement, okay?” Alex threw in a slight smile and received a nod in return. She fished out an FBI business card and handed it to the officer.

“Sure, thanks,” Officer Mercer took the card. “All the information on here correct?”

“Absolutely,” Alex lied as she navigated around the officer and out of the vehicle. She flexed the fingers of her right hand several times. Yep. Definitely messed up. She stopped a short stocky man wearing full tactical gear “Excuse me, sir … er, Lt. Lask, do you know where Supergirl is right now?”

“Who are, oh you’re the federal agent,” Lask’s voice dripped with condescension. “She’s still inside the courtroom with Mrs. Grant. You know, you shouldn’t have tried to apprehend Lord on your own. You’re lucky you didn’t get hurt worse. My men could –”

“Thank you,” Alex dismissed the lieutenant curtly and walked back toward the courthouse. She was in no mood to soothe anyone’s bruised ego today.

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

Alex found Supergirl sitting in the judge’s private conference room consuming the lunch Carter packed earlier in the day. Cat, Carter, and Adam were silently watching her eat.

“We should, … uh, go to, you know … where I work,” Alex said looking at Cat and raising her bandaged arm slightly as a display of proof that medical care was received.

“Not without my sons,” Cat said in a weary voice.

“You know they can’t –”

“Then, I’m not going and I doubt she will either,” Cat wasn’t in the mood for a fight. Until she was sure the threat was passed, she wasn’t leaving her boys. “You can do the hood thing if you’d like … once we are out of the city.”

“The hood thing?” Adam’s voice was almost an octave higher. This weird stuff did not happen in Opal City.

“Where I work,” Alex tacitly ceded the point to Cat, “is a highly-classified facility. I have to contact my boss first. Obtain clearance for both of you. Once out of the city, you’ll have to wear hoods until we reach the base.”

“Um … I’m not really sure –”

“It is not an option,” Alex cut him off. What’s the matter, pretty boy? Afraid your hair is going to get messed up? My sister is under some kind of mind control and your worried about a minor inconvenience? “Look, I’m sorry you got dragged into this, Adam, but there are more important things here than your fear of wearing a bag over your head for an hour or so. Why don’t you man up and set an example for your –”

“That’s enough, Agent Danvers!” Cat’s voice was sharp. “If you cannot maintain your composure I’m going to ask you to leave.”

“Hey, Alex,” Supergirl, who was seated across the table from Alex a moment ago, was standing next to her sister, “why don’t you go cool down a little.”

Alex glared at Cat who looked mortified, “And if I don’t want to go?”

“Hey! Stop it! Adam and I will wear the hoods,” Carter’s eyes were as big as saucers and his voice trembled a little. “Just … be nice, Supergirl. Remember? You’re not supposed to hurt anyone here. Mom said so.”

“I’ve got a call to make, excuse me,” Alex barely managed to get out through her anger and humiliation before fleeing the room.

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

“Alex, you don’t have to worry. I wrote up the guardianship papers. There’s no way Cadmus can take Supergirl. Even under these circumstances,” Lucy said as she watched Doctor Hamilton treat Alex’s bite mark.

“Then, she can stay here at the DEO until we get this thing figured out, right?” Alex asked Hank.

“Yes, of course,” Hank answered already going through a mental checklist of who he needed to contact in Washington and exactly what he was going to disclose. “Nice work, Agent Danvers, although I’m surprised you let Max bite you like that.”

“I sort of made him bite me,” Alex admitted sheepishly earning her a glare from the doctor. “He was going to yell for Supergirl and I had to shove something in his mouth fast.”

“Hmm, I can’t wait to read your report on the incident,” Hank shook his head. “When you’re done in here, meet me in my office. Dr. Ruiz will go over what she’s been able to learn about the effects of this drug.”

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

“So, you’re saying, Supergirl should remain with Ms. Grant?” Hank questioned Dr. Ruiz in the crowded office.

“Based on everything I’ve been able to pull from Lord’s data files on this, yes. I believe it’s the correct course of action, sir,” the doctor said not bothering to look up from her tablet. “There are indications –”

“Absolutely not. No way. Not going to happen,” Alex started to cross her arms over her chest and stopped as she felt a twinge in her injured forearm. “She should stay with me, uh – here, at the DEO. We should take care of her not Cat Grant. I don’t trust her to do what’s best –”

“It’s not up to you, Alex. You keep forgetting Cat Grant is legally responsible for her – to the point of going to federal prison if she violates the terms under which she signed the agreement,” Lucy explained. “Do you think she is going to be thrilled with this arrangement now? She’ll have to measure each and every word she says when she’s around Supergirl.”

“Why didn’t she have to do it before? Why the change now?” Hank asked knowing he’d have to answer the same questions to the senate committee. “Why is it so important she stay with Ms. Grant instead of here? In a more controlled environment.”

“After checking through the video files Max kept on Supergirl I think I might have the answer to one of your questions,” Winn volunteered. “The first time Supergirl ate the nutrition bar Max Lord gave her, she heard two voices. One, of course, was Max and the other was Cat Grant.”

“What? How?” Alex asked. “Supergirl never said Cat was there.”

“Apparently, Max had a monitor on so Supergirl could watch Carter while she ate the bar. It was a conditioning element … reinforcing her focus on Carter as the main motivation to obey. Anyway, we were also able to pick up Cat Grant’s voice through the monitor. She was talking to him, telling him how much she loved him over and over,” he explained.

“According to everything I’ve read,” Dr. Ruiz interjected, “the initial dose of the chemical is the key factor. It imprints the governing voice on the Kryptonian brain. So, because Lord and Ms. Grant were talking during that first dose, both of their voices became imprinted.”

“What you’re saying, doctor, is Supergirl can’t do anything unless she’s told to by Ms. Grant or Max Lord?” Hank asked.

“Not exactly, no. Supergirl, still has the capacity to think independently. The drug doesn’t inhibit the brain from thinking. When the drug is combined with the base program – or the governing voice, however, Supergirl feels extremely compelled to acquiesce to whatever is asked. The urge to … satisfy, to please, the voice is irresistible,” Dr. Ruiz said as she tried to explain the drug’s effect. “Nevertheless, and this is important, the inhibition aspect is just that: a strong influence. Lord’s theory, and it seems to hold true, was that the influence should turn into total control over a period of time with constant conditioning.” The doctor then turned to Alex, “You say both Lord and Ms. Grant told her to obey and said they were her master?”

“Yeah. Max said it first and ordered Supergirl to do a bunch of stuff. When he told Supergirl to assault the police officer Cat repeated what Max said and she stopped.” Alex shook her head, “It was weird.”

“And that is where we are now. That claiming of ownership has literally turned the compulsion to obey into an automatic response,” the doctor stated.

“In other words, she’s like a robot,” Alex surmised.

“I didn’t say that,” Dr. Ruiz was becoming a little exasperated with trying to explain the subtle nuances she believed the drug caused. “As I said, she still has independent thought and action to a point, and unless the –”

“I’m sorry, doctor. To a point?” Hank asked.

“She’s going to want to keep close to, well, Ms. Grant or Mr. Lord. Think of it as kind of a … security blanket. She’s going to feel a strong desire for their feedback – their approval of her actions. That’s what I was trying to explain earlier when I said Supergirl should remain with Ms. Grant. It will pacify that need for validation. At least until we know if this is permanent.”

“Do we know if Supergirl ingested enough of the drug for it to be irreversible?” Hank asked.

“I have no way of knowing that, sir. Not unless I examine brain tissue from the subject.” Noting the look she received from Alex, she added, “Not … not that I have any intention of doing so. There’s still a lot of data I have to go through, sir. I could use some help. My expertise is based in biochemistry. I don’t have the necessary astrobiology background to fully understand some of Lord’s conclusions.”

“Would Dr. Eliza Danvers be of assistance?” Hank asked.

Dr. Ruiz nodded, “I was hoping you’d reach out to her, sir. She seems to know an inordinate amount of information about Kryptonian physiology.”

“Agent Danvers?”

“I’ll call mom. Fill her in and see if she can make the trip. I’m also going to check with Alura … the, er, hologram,” Lucy explained to Dr. Ruiz. “There might be something about this in the databases.”

“Do you think Superman can help?” Lucy asked. “I mean, Lois is in town. She usually finds a way of contacting him.”

“That’s a good idea, Lucy. He might have access to different information,” Alex was not about to mention the Fortress of Solitude in front of Dr. Ruiz.

“Dr. Ruiz? I expect to be apprised of anything your progress. Mr. Schott is at your disposal for any computer or technical expertise you require and Agent Danvers will also assist once we’ve spoken with Ms. Grant and she’s completed her questioning of the hologram,” Hank ordered. “Agent Danvers, please escort Ms. Grant to my office. Everyone else is dismissed except for Major Lane.”

“Yes sir?” Lucy asked when the two of them were alone.

“You’re sure Cadmus can’t take Supergirl? Or Cat Grant won’t face charges because Supergirl used her powers?” Hank needed to make sure Supergirl was protected from Cadmus. If need be, he’d have Superman take and hide his cousin.

Lucy smiled, “I put a clause in the papers stipulating the contract was not invalidated nor was Cat Grant liable if Supergirl used her powers under duress. I wasn’t anticipating this but it’ll still hold up in court.”

“I’m glad you’re on our side,” Hank responded with a smile of his own.

“If there’s nothing else?” Lucy asked.

“No, go ahead and contact your sister. Maybe Superman can help,” Hank replied then reached for his phone. He had a lot of people to notify.

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

Cat was tired of cooling her heels waiting for either Director Henshaw, Lucy, Alex or someone to talk to her. When they arrived at the DEO, over four hours earlier, she suggested Supergirl might be tired and should take a nap. After the younger woman was soundly sleeping, Cat and her sons were ushered into a small office where they were politely told to remain until the Director could see them. Several agents were stationed immediately outside the door ‘protecting’ them.

“That was a little scary … in the courtroom,” Cat looked at Carter who was extremely reticent since the incident. She wasn’t surprised when he didn’t volunteer anything. I don’t know what he’s afraid of - what happened in the courtroom or this whole bizarre twist of events. Not that I blame him. This is a lot to take in.

“I’d say,” Adam agreed putting a hand on Carter’s shoulder. “What do you think, Carter?”

Carter shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t want to say how afraid he was and he wasn’t sure who he was more afraid of, Supergirl or Mr. Lord. When he saw the concerned look on his mother’s face he ventured, “I’m glad no one was hurt.”

“No one is going to be hurt now, Carter,” Cat assured him. “Mr. Lord is in jail and will stay there for a very long time.”

Carter nodded. He didn’t feel any better despite his mother’s words.

Adam looked at Cat. He wasn’t sure what to make of his mother’s seemingly complete control over Supergirl and he knew she was still grappling with it. Right now, however, he wanted to put his little brother at ease, “You know, Carter, mom wouldn’t let Supergirl do anything bad, right?”

He waited for Carter’s nod then continued, “Plus, we’re in this super-secret place. I bet they’ve got all kinds of cool stuff in here to help Supergirl. That’s probably what they’re doing now. She’ll be back to normal in no time and we won’t ever have to worry about Maxwell Lord again.”

“I guess,” Carter shrugged his shoulders again.

“I bet they have real laser guns here. All sorts of neat science stuff. I wonder if they’ll give us a little tour after they’ve finished fixing Supergirl,” Adam said as he tried to engage Carter. “I bet Agent Danvers will be happy to give us a tour – at least all of the places she’s allowed to. What do you think they have here?”

“I don’t know …”

“Come on, this is a secret government facility,” Adam prodded his brother. “They have to have some pretty advanced tech, right?”

“Probably.”

“What do you mean, probably?”

Cat watched as Adam gradually drew Carter into a real conversation about the DEO. She was grateful for her older son’s intervention. The longer they sat in the office, the more concerned she became. What if the government decided they needed to ‘disappear’ for the sake of national security? She was relieved when it was Agent Danvers who appeared as her escort to meet with Director Henshaw.

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

“Wait, let me make sure I understand this correctly. Supergirl is mine to command? Like a robot?” Cat pinched the bridge of her nose. A drink would be good right about now. Several drinks. “And Agent Scully didn’t want to tell me, why?”

“Oh, come on Cat. You practically terrorized her when she was your assistant. I can just imagine –”

“And you think I’d do the same thing to her now?” Cat’s voice was incredulous as she cut Alex off. “When she has no choice to obey anything I tell her to do? When she can’t consent freely? Listen, Agent -”

“Enough!” Hank finally waded into the fray before it got really ugly. “Stand Down, Agent Danvers. Ms. Grant, it is my decision to trust your integrity. You will have to be extremely careful with anything you say to her.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed,” Cat observed with a sigh.

“If you get angry at someone. Make some offhand comment, she will act on it without a second thought. With a human that’s dangerous … imagine what it’s like with Supergirl,” Hank said.

“Carter? If I have to discipline him for –” Cat asked her heart in her throat.

“No, she cannot harm you or Carter. He’s the motivation for her control,” Alex explained.

“That’s why she wouldn’t sleep,” Cat said almost to herself then clarified for the group, “when the trial was going on. I asked her to guard Carter and she refused to sleep more than a couple of hours a day.”

“That is a distinct possibility,” Alex agreed. “Even though you hadn’t claimed her then, she still felt a strong desire to please you. According to the doctor, now that you have claimed her, she literally has to do whatever you say.”

“But Max –”

“Max didn’t actually claim her until yesterday at the trial either,” Alex countered. “Which leads me to believe there’s a chance to reverse this. Most likely, she hasn’t ingested enough of the drug to permanently affect her and Max knew it. It’s probably why he never claimed her until he felt he had no choice.”

Hank continued, “Dr. Ruiz is still checking through the material in the databases. Luckily, now that Max has been found guilty, a lot of the employees who were involved are now starting to talk – to make deals for themselves in return for information. Lucy said she’d try to expedite the process. Unfortunately, coming up with the answers will still take a while.”

“Have you talked with Kara yet? Explained to her that it wasn’t her fault for doing those things in the courtroom?”

“She doesn’t know, Cat,” Alex said miserably.

“Are you going to tell her?”

“What am I supposed to say? She wouldn’t believe me anyway. She has no idea her free will has been taken. Remember when she cheerfully crushed my gun in the courtroom? She still believes it was her idea. She told me she didn’t want me to feel bad about killing Max. She justified it in her mind.” Alex continued, “I can’t imagine what it will do to her when she finds out what Max did to her.”

“I won’t say anything to her if you don’t want me to,” Cat promised. “Contrary to what you may believe, I am not the monster Max Lord is, nor do I find slavery anything but repulsive. The second you find a cure for your sister, I expect you to use it. Is that understood?”

Alex was taken aback. Everything she heard about Cat, the prickly conversations she had with the woman, led her to believe Cat would enjoy having Kara at her beck and call. “You never seemed to mind treating her like a slave be-”

“Stop. Right. There. I treated your sister the way I was treated, hell, I bet the way you were treated when you were recruited to work here. I expected her to work, earn her pay, my respect, the same way I’m sure Director Henshaw expected you to,” Cat’s voice was frosty. “Your sister was free to quit at any time. No one forced her to work for me.”

“Yeah? Well this is different,” Alex shot back.

“You think I don’t know that?” Cat took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Calm down, Cat. She’s just worried about her sister. There’s no need to fight. “Agent Danvers … Alex, we both want what’s best for Kara. I can’t undo this thing. I wish I could. I can promise you, I will do my very best not to influence your sister unduly.”

“Okay,” Alex visibly deflated. She wanted a fight. To lash out at the unfairness of it all and Cat … was right. She needed to concentrate on how to help Kara. I’m going to see if Alura has anything helpful to say on the matter … after I find Jackson and do a little sparring.

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

“Hello, Dad, is everything all right? I got like a thousand texts from you saying ‘call me’ while I was in court,” Lucy asked as she looked through some files on her desk. I’ll give Lois a quick call as soon as I find out why dad was so insistent I call him.

“Hey, Luce, glad you’re okay. The whole world saw what happened in court today. I was wondering when J’onn J’onzz was going to turn in Supergirl. She’s obviously a threat,” General Lane stated. “I can have some people there within the hour.”

“That’s not necessary, Dad,” Lucy replied. “Supergirl is not a threat now that Max Lord is safely behind bars.”

“She used her powers –”

“Under duress, Dad”

“She’s clearly compromised and needs to be placed in a secure facility,” he argued.

“That’s not going to happen, Dad. I wrote up the guardianship contract. I know all of the particulars. The U.S. Army has no standing in this matter. You know that or you’d already be here taking her into custody. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to call Lois,” Lucy deliberately dropped her sister’s name knowing her father would immediately end the conversation.

“Take care, Lucy. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite humanity in the ass,” her father said just before she heard the dial tone in her ear.

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

General Lane sat back parsing through the information his daughter inadvertently provided. Not a threat as long as Max Lord is behind bars … What would happen if Mr. Lord somehow escaped? I’m sure he could be persuaded to turn Supergirl over to me in return for his freedom.

Sam Lane reached for his phone. Time to do a little business with Smith. I believe he has engineered jailbreaks before.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Lois,” Lucy greeted when her sister answered the phone.

“Goodness! If it isn’t Major Lane,” Lois answered back. “I’m surprised you’re willing to talk to a member of the press. Are you calling to gloat on how you ‘made everything fair’ by not talking to your sister during the trial? We wouldn’t want anyone to impugn your integrity for fairness now, would we.”

Lucy hesitated before shooting back an answer. Kara needs help. Continuing a family squabble is not the way to go about it and, actually, she is right. I could have at least acknowledged her sometime during the trial. It’s not as if everyone there didn’t know we were sisters.

“I guess I deserve that but, if it’s any consolation, you certainly didn’t need my help for your articles. Even Cat Grant thinks you’ll probably win a Pulitzer for your coverage – ah, don’t tell her I said that, please.”

Lucy waited for Lois to respond. After several more seconds she asked, “Are you still there? I said –”

“I heard you, little sister,” Lois sighed. “What do you want?”

“What do I want? I called to talk to you now that the trial’s over. I did read your articles. They were very good. Even –”

“Lucy,” Lois interrupted, “I’ve worked in journalism, interviewed people for quite a long time and I’ve been your sister for a longer time. What. Do. You. Want?”

“You saw what happened today, right? In the courtroom?”

“No. I was wearing blinders the whole time … of course I saw what happened,” Lois affirmed. “Actually, I thought about trying to contact Superman but Agent Danvers managed to take down Max all by herself. Pretty impressive. I don’t suppose she’s available for an interview, is she?”

“Well, actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“She’s going to give me an exclusive?” Lois couldn’t believe it. Perry will flip! He might even let me –

“No, I mean, I wanted to talk to you about Superman,” Lucy explained and waited for her sister’s “Go ahead,” before continuing. “You saw what happened in that courtroom with Supergirl. She did whatever Max told her to do until Cat was able to stop her.”

“Yes I, along with the rest of the world, was wondering exactly what happened there. Where’s Supergirl now? Is she –”

“Lois, stop. Let me finish. I’m her friend. I’m calling for help. Dad wants me to turn her over to him – to keep everyone safe. He thinks –”

“Wait. Stop. I have two questions. Number one is what kind of help do you need?” Lois asked.

“I was hoping you could contact Superman. Ask him to come to National City and speak with … some scientist friends of mine who are trying to help Supergirl. I can’t say too much more than that without violating national security.”

“Okay, question number two: when did you talk to dad about this and exactly what did you say to him?” Lois shook her head. Stupid, stupid, stupid, Lucy! When are you going to get it through your head he only talks to you … or me, when he wants something. You’re just a means to further his agenda.

“I called him before I called you. As a matter of fact, I shut him down when he told me he was going to have his people take Supergirl. I think I made him mad when I said I was going to call you. He couldn’t get off the phone fast enough,” Lucy said with a tinge of pride in her voice. Lois wasn’t the only one who could stand up to Samuel Lane.

“Okay … that’s good. Now, answer the rest of the question. What, exactly, did you say to him?” Lois had a bad feeling she knew where this was going.

“I told him I wrote up some … paperwork – a contract, it’s all legal through the courts and everything,” Lucy didn’t want to give away too much to her reporter sister. “The government can’t come and take Supergirl. It’s all legal. Dad wasn’t happy but he backed off. Besides, I told him she wasn’t a problem as long as Max is in jail and, believe me, he won’t get out for a –”

“You told him what? Lucy! You just gave him the perfect way of capturing Supergirl! He was pumping you for information. He didn’t hang up because you said my name. He hung up because you gave him what he wanted. He used you. Played you and left you thinking you came out on top. He does that all the time – to everyone. It’s how he operates and you fall for it every time. You actually believe he wouldn’t use you because you’re his daughter,” Lois finished spelling it out for her sister.

“He …” Lucy was lost in thought. The odd phone calls, the ghosting of the DEO’s mainframe, her dad lying to her, dropping subtle non-substantiated rumors. “I …”

“Why do you think he doesn’t call me? I’m of no value to him. He knows I’m onto his game. He can fish all he wants – I don’t talk about anything but the weather to him and sometimes I don’t even talk about that. There’s always an angle with him, Luce, smarten up. Why do you think the General allows you to stay at the DEO instead of recalling you back to Washington, Major?” Lois asked. “I’ll tell you why, you’re a great source of information and he can manipulate you. The perfect mole – one who doesn’t even know she is one.”

Lois waited in silence letting her younger sister process what she said. I know it’s hard, Luce. You always felt so much closer to dad than I did, but, you have to face facts, he’s not the man you think he is. He’d ruin your career in a heartbeat if he thought it would net him Supergirl.

“I … ah … I have to go –”

“NO, Lucy. Please, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings but you need to take off those rose-colored glasses you wear around him. You have to realize how dangerous he really is – to you, your colleagues at the DEO and Supergirl,” Lois tried to explain.

“No, I mean … I have to go. Make some calls,” Lucy was already mentally making a checklist of who she needed to call.

“Okay, Luce. Take care of yourself. I’ll see if I can’t get in touch with Superman,” Lois promised.

“Hey Lois? Thanks for the reality check. I needed it and … I read your stories, all of them, on Max Lord. Cat is right. You deserve a Pulitzer prize for your work,” Lucy said before she hung up.

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

A soft rap on the door proceeded Winn’s nervous, “Uh, Ms. Grant? Hi, hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“Come on in, Mr. Schott. We were wrapping things up here,” Hank motioned Winn into the office then spied the binder in his hand. “Oh, you finished it already? Good, nice work.”

“Finished what?” Cat asked eyeing her former employee.

“Director Henshaw asked me to compile all the data Dr. Ruiz discovered concerning how the chemical works on Kara. Think of it as sort of an owner’s manual for Supergirl,” Winn shrugged as he handed Cat a flash drive as well as a thick binder.

“There’s an owner’s manual for Supergirl?” Cat really wanted that scotch now.

“It’s kind of a guide … the do’s and don'ts,” Winn explained. “Some of the stuff may seem pretty basic but I wanted to cover all the bases.”

Cat thumbed through the guide, “Bullet points? Mr. Schott, nice to see you remembered some of your training from Catco … yes, you’re right, most of this is pretty basic. Is Kara still sleeping? It’s been a very long day. We really need to head back home. Take me back to Carter and Adam, please.”

“Cat?” Alex hated to ask for a favor. “I realize today wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for anyone, especially Kara. From what you told us earlier, about her not sleeping much for the past few months, well …”

“Spit it out, Agent Danvers,” Cat instructed distractedly as she continued to peruse the contents of the binder.

“Could you, maybe, let her sleep longer? I mean, I can set up a nice area for you and your sons to sleep … separate rooms if you want them,” Alex offered.

Cat almost dismissed the suggestion out of hand before catching the pleading note in Alex’s voice. I don’t believe that young woman asks for much, probably would never ask if it was for herself, and she’s right. Kara could use a good uninterrupted night’s sleep. Since there’s no threat to Carter here and it will give me some time for a little in depth reading …

“I suppose, if the sleeping accommodations are adequate, we could honor your request,” Cat acquiesced with the air of someone making a great sacrifice. She did have a reputation to uphold, especially to Agent Scully, who she found entertaining to bait. “Two rooms will be fine.”

“Oh … okay then. I’ll get right on it,” Alex looked at Hank to receive a ‘dismissed’ nod then hastily left the room before Cat could change her mind.

“Mr. Schott can take you back to your sons. Mr. Schott?” Hank directed.

“Right this way, Ms. Grant. I set up a couple of gaming laptops for them so they wouldn’t be too bored while they waited. Not much else to do around here, you know … scientists,” Winn half laughed as they walked down the corridor before catching the scowl on Agent Morrish’s face. “Science is … you know, good.”

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

“Superman. Thanks for coming,” Alex greeted him as a star struck Agent Morgan ushered him into her lab.

He waited until the door was closed before he answered, “Lois told me about what happened in court today. I’m sorry I wasn’t –”

“I heard about the earthquake in China. You were needed there … we managed things on this end.”

“Yes, you did. Very nice job, Alex. I think J’onn needs to update your uniform with a cape,” Clark smiled as Alex ducked her head at the compliment. “Where’s Kara now?”

“She’s sleeping. Actually, Cat Grant told her to get some sleep and,” Alex snapped her fingers, “she was out like a light.”

“So, what Lois said was true? About Cat Grant somehow mind controlling Kara?”

“It’s some kind of drug Max Lord put into the food he forced her to eat. It makes her susceptible to suggestions or orders given by him or Cat Grant,” Alex saw the look of confusion on Clark’s face. “Apparently, she heard Cat’s voice over a monitor the same time Max was talking to her … and both got imprinted on her mind – it’s how the drug works. Lucky for us or Max would be free with total control over Supergirl.”

“How can I help?”

Alex handed him a flash drive, “This is all the information we’ve amassed so far on the drug. My mom will be flying in on Saturday to help Dr. Ruiz work on an antidote and I’m going to check with the Alura hologram for a cure but I think the best chance we have of reversing this might be found at the Fortress of Solitude.”

Clark looked at the flash drive in his hand then back up at Alex and nodded, “I’ll head there after I look in on Kara … if that’s okay.”

“Sure, I’ll take you to her.” Alex led Clark out of her lab and said, loud enough for the lingering Agent Morgan to hear, “Thanks, Superman, I knew we could count on you.”

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

“I hear city council is voting next week to approve another detective slot in the Science Division. I guess you’ll be off the road pretty soon,” Officer Nolan remarked to his recruit.

“Hope so. Can’t say I miss wearing a uniform,” Maggie answered. She shifted her weight trying to get comfortable as she stood outside Maxwell Lord’s hospital room. Wearing twenty pounds of equipment, fifteen of it around her waist, while standing guard was beginning to kill her back.

“To each their own,” Nolan chuckled. “You’re gonna miss these plum assignments, though.”

“Oh, yeah. Watching felons sleep in a hospital bed instead of a cell? I’ll pass, thanks.”

“You know who this is, right?” Nolan asked as he motioned with his thumb to the hospital room they stood outside of.

“That guy, Maxwell Lord. Didn’t the sergeant say he was convicted on all counts today? Guess he got ‘sick’ when he heard the verdict,” Maggie surmised.

“You watch any news broadcasts today, Sawyer?”

“No. I barely got up in time to work out. I told you midnights was kicking my ass,” Maggie responded.

“Well then, you might want to catch a rebroadcast of what happened in court,” Nolan continued once he saw he peaked Maggie’s interest. “Remember our Fed? She’s the reason he’s here. Took him down single-handedly when he tried to make a run for it.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. Tackled him and about twisted his balls off. All of it captured in living color by about ten different news crews. Bet it’s all over the internet,” Nolan decidedly left Supergirl out of the conversation. She was still his hero even if things looked a little suspect in the courtroom. He’d let Sawyer make up her own mind about the Maid of Might. “I’m starting to believe it’s fate, Sawyer. This Fed seems to turn up on our runs an awful lot lately and, well, you know I’m a happily married man so I guess it has to be –”

Maggie gave him a light punch on the arm, “I swear, if you try to set me up with one more –”

“Officers, we’re here to relieve you,” a man wearing a deputy’s uniform interrupted. Two other uniformed deputies stood slightly behind him. All three men stood with military bearing and appeared to spend a considerable amount of time in the gym.

Nolan frowned. No one told him the county was going to relieve them. “Sure thing, let me get the prisoner transfer paperwork. I left it in my clipboard at the nurse’s station. Be right back.”

Nolan threw a look at Sawyer as he started down the hallway to call for back up. There’s no way those guys are deputies. Not unless all three decided to risk a write up for wearing the wrong uniform trousers, no vests and incorrect gear on their duty belts. Good thing Sawyer’s not really a rookie, she has good instincts and she’s smart. She should be able to keep them occupied long enough for me to radio for back up … I hope.

Maggie caught the look her partner gave her as he left. Okay, something’s up. There’s no prisoner transfer paperwork and Nolan was never at the nurse’s station. I don’t know enough about prisoner protocol here in National City but, if he thinks this is suspicious, he’s going to radio for back up. Guess he wants me to stall them. Okay, can do. I’ll even make them believe we’re totally incompetent so if we have to make a move they won’t expect it. She smiled up at the men and tucked her hands into her gun belt, “I knew I shouldn’t have let him flirt with the nurses. Sorry for the delay, guys. He may be my training officer but, you know, he’s a little lax when it comes to following regulations. Guess he takes after his old man who was a sergeant for the county, retired a couple of years ago. I hear he spent most of his time sitting around the office talking about fishing before he retired. You guys ever work with him? Jim Nolan?”

“No,” the first deputy curtly answered without even looking at his coworkers for confirmation.

Okay. Definite red flag there. Hope Nolan is setting a fire under the cavalry right now because I have a bad feeling these guys aren’t real deputies and won’t let me stall them much longer.

“My partner will be back in a second. He has the prisoner transfer paperwork you need to sign and then the guy in there is all yours. First time this week I’ll get lunch. Cool. Can’t thank you guys enough.” Come on, Nolan. “Oh, meant to tell you, the dude in there?” Maggie motioned to the hospital room next to the room she was actually guarding. “The nurse says he’ll probably be released in the morning. Nothing’s wrong with him that a good long stint in prison won’t cure, right?”

None of the three men answered.

Shit! Nolan, you better get your ass back here fast.

“You guys okay? I know we’re in a hospital but you can still talk.” Maggie felt sweat trickle down her back when she noticed one of the deputies with his hand in his front pocket and realized he was pointing a concealed pistol at her. “Oh, here he comes now. Hey, Nolan. You got the prisoner transfer paperwork?”

As the first deputy glanced back to look at Nolan, Maggie used the distraction to push him in front of the deputy with the gun in his pocket and dart in the opposite direction. She drew her own gun. The report of a gunshot echoed in the hallway as the first deputy went down – a victim of friendly fire.

“Don’t fucking move!” Nolan yelled as he stood behind the deputy who fired the shot.

“Same goes for you, asshole,” Maggie warned the other deputy as she moved to put him between her and the deputy with the pistol and out of Nolan’s crossfire. “DON’T even think about rushing me or you’ll be on a slab in the basement.”

“HANDS UP! HANDS UP!” A chorus of male and female voices yelled as nine National City Police Officers entered the corridor. Within seconds the fake deputies were secured.

“Nice work,” Sgt. Collins complimented Nolan and Sawyer. “We just got a message from one of the prosecutors that someone might try to break this son of a bitch out of jail when Nolan radioed for back up. Which one of you shot the guy?”

“Neither, Sarge. Sawyer pushed him away from her just as the other guy fired his gun and he caught the bullet instead of her,” pride was evident in Nolan’s voice. “She did a great job of keeping those motherfuckers busy while I got you on the radio. Cool as a cucumber.”

Sgt. Collins nodded approvingly at Maggie, “Sure you want a cushy desk job, Sawyer? Looks like you’re a born street cop. Not even three months on the job and this will be the second valor citation I write up for you and your partner.”

“Thanks, boss,” Maggie smiled. “I appreciate the vote of confidence but I’d be lying if I didn’t say how much I miss the detective work I was doing in Gotham.”

“Actually, boss, the Science Division probably needs Sawyer’s expertise more than we do. They haven’t solved a case since Hancock retired,” Nolan added earning a short laugh of agreement from one of the other officers on the scene.

“True enough.” Sgt. Collins motioned to Lord’s hospital room. “So, how’s sleeping beauty?”

“Probably still sleeping. Hospital’s got him drugged to the gills. Someone said he was not too charming with a couple of the nurses when they first brought him in … and no one wants a repeat performance of what happened in court today,” Nolan finished on a serious note.

“Absolutely. I’m leaving a detail of six officers here to watch over Lord. You two are relieved. Get back to the station and start your paperwork. I have to contact Major Lane and let her know what happened … wonder if she’ll have any other useful bits of information to pass on – preferably before it’s too late.” Sergeant Collins was curious to know exactly when Major Lane knew about a possible jail break.

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

General Lane hung up the phone, disgusted.

He wakes me up at three o’clock in the morning to tell me the attempt failed? Damn it, Smith! I told you I wanted Lord out of prison – not under triple guard! Jackass! Now there’s going to be an investigation. Count on it. Smith’s people know enough not to talk but I’ve still have to do some damage control in case the investigation gets traced back somehow. Son of a bitch! Who knows what nonsense Lois filled Lucy’s head with when she talked to her. Lucy’s not stupid. She might even figure out I ordered the mission to take Lord into my – into Army custody. I need to do a little misdirection … bring Lucy back into the fold. Oh, oh yes, now that’s an idea … I’ll take a trip to National City, make nice with Jimmy Olsen, thank him for saving the life of my little girl. Yep, that ought to work. She’s always wanted my approval of him. She’ll swallow it hook, line and sinker even if Lois did try to turn her away from me. I’ll even arrange a formal ceremony for Olsen, give him a meaningless ‘bravery award’, then return to Washington without asking Lucy anything about the DEO or Supergirl. That’ll help to convince her Lois doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about when it comes to me. Then I’ll wait at least a few more weeks before I call Lucy again, catch her off guard, and see if I can’t gather some intel on where they’re hiding Supergirl.

Chapter Text

Kara woke up refreshed. More than refreshed, actually. She felt absolutely wonderful. Like I’ve spent all day at the beach basking in the rays of this yellow sun. Nothing can go wrong today, I just know it!

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Alex’s voice held amusement and Kara glanced over to see her sister sitting nearby. “Glad to see you’re not planning on sleeping through the entire day.”

“No. Hey, what time is it?” Kara bit back a yawn and stretched out before sitting up.

“Almost ten o’clock in the morning. If you hurry, you might still be able to make breakfast,” Alex looked up from the tablet she was scrolling through. “How are you feeling?”

“Great. I mean really great! And … hungry. Let’s finish this conversation over a couple stacks of pancakes, okay?” Kara suggested frowning slightly as she remembered events from the night before. “Is Cat still here?”

“Yeah, she and her boys decided to spend the night too. Yesterday was a bit much on everyone,” Alex explained as the sisters walked down the corridor to the mess. “They’ve already eaten. Winn set up a gaming system for Carter and Adam last night. I think the three of them are having some kind of tournament. Cat is … ah, working.

“How’s your arm?” Kara said spying the gauze bandage on her sister’s forearm. She didn’t like the way Alex partially flexed her fingers when the injury was mentioned. “Seriously, Alex, are you okay?”

“Yeah, about that … you did hear the … scuffle, right? I was surprised you didn’t join in … to help.”

Alex’s answer caught her off balance.

“I – I was busy keeping Cat and Carter safe. Cat asked me to – after she found out about the contract on their lives. I didn’t think you’d get hurt. I’m sorry,” Kara apologized not liking the quizzical look Alex shot at her. “What?”

“Who were you keeping them safe from?” Alex asked.

Kara abruptly stopped and put a hand to Alex’s forehead as though feeling for a fever. “You don’t know? Really? I think we’d better take you to see Doc Hamilton. You may have an infection from the bite.”

“No, no, no. I want you to tell me,” Alex shook off Kara’s hand. “Who were you keeping them safe from?”

Kara cocked her head and gave Alex a look of disbelief. Why does she want me to spell it out for her? She knew about the contracts on Carter and Cat’s lives. She’s stalling because she doesn’t want to tell me about her arm. I bet she doesn’t want me to feel guilty. “Maxwell Lord or anyone he hired to kill them. Really, Alex, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Alex smiled and Kara puzzled at the relief in her voice. “Hey, look, they’re still serving breakfast.”

She keeps changing the subject. Guess she’s not going to answer my question about her arm right now. Oh, those pancakes smell wonderful … I’ll make her tell me after we have breakfast.

/

Cat finished the binder, including updates garnered by Agent Vasquez from the latest research done by Dr. Ruiz. She alternately wanted to kill Maxwell Lord with her bare hands or run as far away from Kara Danvers as possible. I can’t believe the audacity of that idiot. One slip up, one word said in anger, and he could have unleashed a killing machine … I can unleash a killing machine. There better be some way of undoing all of this.

“Hey, mom, the … uh … guy there said you wanted to talk to me and Adam,” Carter greeted as he walked into the room followed by his brother.

“Yes. Thank you, agent,” Cat said dismissively to Agent Jackson who escorted her sons to the room. She waited until he closed the door and the boys were seated before she spoke. “I’m sure both of you have a lot of questions about what went on yesterday. Carter?”

“Kara can see?”

“Yes, she can now,” Cat decided not to reveal exactly when Kara regained her sight unless Carter asked her directly. “Adam?”

“Is she safe? I mean, we all saw what happened yesterday. She was going to hurt the cop if you hadn’t stopped her. Do you control her or something? Does she have to listen to everyone or just you and Max Lord. Is she brainwashed? How did –”

“Hold on. One question at a time. Kara isn’t brainwashed … exactly. More like she’s drugged. Max put a drug in the food she ate and it makes her want to do whatever he tells her to do,” Cat explained.

“But she listened to you too,” Adam pressed.

“Yes, she did. The first-time Kara ate the drugged food she heard Max’s voice as well as my voice. Evidently, that’s when the drug starts working and, yes, she is safe. She is the same Kara, the same Supergirl, we’ve known. She can –”

“But Mr. Lord can tell her to hurt people or kill them and she has to do what he says,” Carter interrupted. “I mean, he’s in jail but she has super hearing. What if he tells her to break him out of prison or hurt you?”

“She can’t. I’ve … told her to allow the authorities to keep him lawfully imprisoned.”

“And she’ll obey you over him? Just like that?” Adam asked.

“Yes, she will,” Cat answered with more confidence than what she felt. “Like in the courtroom yesterday – he can’t countermand the orders I gave her.”

“So, you call the shots? She has to listen to you?” Adam was having a difficult time wrapping his mind around the turn of events. “Anything you say?”

“Yes,” Cat affirmed noting the way Adam’s lips tightened in an obvious effort to reign in what he really wanted to say.

“Wow! This is so cool! My mom controls Supergirl! Can you have her fly me to school? That’d be so awesome!” Carter enthused.

Cat tried to keep the dismay out of her voice as she answered, “No, that won’t happen. No flying with Supergirl and I’m not going to order her around.”

“Carter,” Adam looked at his brother seriously, “this isn’t cool or awesome. Think about it … Kara has no choice but to obey her. It’s kind of like slavery.”

“Oh. I … I hadn’t thought about it like that,” Carter admitted. “I’m sorry, mom. I wasn’t thinking about it like that. Is there … any way to fix her? You know, so that she can be free?”

“The scientists are working on an antidote. In the meantime, we’ll resume living our lives as before. Kara will live with us and will pretend she is blind to help keep her identity a secret. I’m going to ask that both of you continue to treat her as though she is blind. It will be easier for her to pretend and there will be less of a chance of a slip up if you do. Now you, young man,” Cat smiled at Carter, “will be going back to school.”

“I’ll be heading home to Opal City,” Adam said after a moment. “As much as I’ve enjoyed our adventures, Carter, it’s time I got on with my life too. I’ve decided to re-enroll in the engineering master’s program. I’ve already contacted my faculty adviser and she says it is doable for next semester.”

“You will come to visit, though, right?” Carter’s voice trembled a little.

“Well, yeah! Someone has to kick your ass, I mean butt, at All-Stars Racing. Don’t want you to get too cocky. You can always come to visit me too. Maybe we can make some money off those guys at the laser tag place,” Adam took in Cat’s disapproving look and added, “or not.”

“Adam. Carter.” Cat fixed both her sons with an intent look, “You can’t say anything to anyone about Kara … Supergirl. That’s how this mess started … Max Lord found out who Supergirl was and used Carter to force her into agreeing to obey him.”

“I’ve been wondering about that. Why did he choose Carter? Why not Agent Danvers instead?” Adam asked.

“I don’t know but … it worked, though, didn’t it?” Alex said as she entered the room. She suspected what Max ultimately had in store for her once Supergirl was totally under his control and didn’t feel the need to share it with anyone else. “Sorry to interrupt, Cat. Director Henshaw needs to meet with you. Agent Jackson will escort Carter and Adam back to their room. This shouldn’t take too long.”

/

Two hours later, Dr. Ruiz was finally finishing up her portion of the briefing, “Agents Schott and Vasquez are still combing through the files from Lord Tech. I’m hoping Mr. Lord worked out a way to reverse the effects of the drug.”

“I doubt it,” Cat decided she definitely wanted to kill Maxwell Lord. Alex Danvers would have to wait her turn in line. “Do you honestly think he’d bother? Why? He believed he had her totally under his control. A person like Max doesn’t give up power.”

“I agree with Ms. Grant. Hopefully, Dr. Danvers, working in conjunction with you, Doctor,” Hank nodded to Ruiz, “will find an antidote. Until then, Ms. Grant, you will have to use extreme care. If there was a choice, I’d keep Supergirl here at the DEO. Unfortunately, that’s not an option.”

“May I make a request?” Cat waited for Hank’s nod before continuing, “I’d like Agent Danvers, Alex, assigned to Supergirl … to stay with us and monitor everything. I’m not Maxwell Lord but it’s pure hubris to believe I couldn’t become corrupted in some way. We both know how … protective Agent Danvers is of Supergirl. She is the one person who wouldn’t hesitate to call me out for behavior she believed was unethical or abusive toward Supergirl.”

“Agent Danvers?” Hank raised a questioning eyebrow at Alex.

“I, uh, I’d actually like to do that, sir,” Alex was surprised at the invitation. I have to give her credit. She certainly considers all the angles. I guess Kara’s hero worship of her does have a bit of merit.

“Then consider yourself assigned to Supergirl full time until further notice,” Hank nodded. “Anything else, Doctor?”

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that Supergirl is given positive feedback when she completes a task to your satisfaction,” Dr. Ruiz addressed Cat. “Lack of approval, whether it is a gesture, verbal, written … some kind of acknowledgment, will most likely cause her great distress. At this point, I can only speculate how Mr. Lord planned to use this mental … unbalance.”

“Continue, doctor,” Hank was intrigued.

“I believe he was planning to withhold his approval until she was oblivious to everything except him. To analogize, a highly trained disciplined dog,” the doctor missed the look of horror on Cat’s usually impassive face. “Taken to this end, Supergirl would, in fact, become almost a machine – incapable of independent thought or action save only whatever Mr. Lord wanted her to do. Permanently.”

“How does that differ from right now?” Alex asked trying to conceal the anger she felt. “She still has to do whatever Cat tells her to do.”

“But she can function independently. She did have breakfast with you this morning, correct?” the doctor asked. “When I said incapable of independent thought or action, that’s what I meant. Her world would revolve around pleasing Lord exclusively. Waiting for his commands and hoping for some sign of his approval.”

Alex shuddered and wished, for the millionth time during the briefing, that she killed Max instead of rendering him unconscious. “Can she receive positive feedback from anyone or is –”

“It will only affect her if it comes from Ms. Grant,” Dr. Ruiz answered. She addressed Cat, “Be very careful with criticism. I suggest you give her several simple tasks to complete in the morning, praising her after each accomplishment. That should settle her need for approval immediately each day and keep her … more relaxed.”

Cat fought down her apprehension, “Okay, got it, lots of praise. I did read something to that effect in the binder Mr. Schott provided. Anything else?”

The doctor shook her head and looked at Director Henshaw for dismissal.

Cat waited until after Dr. Ruiz left the office before addressing Hank, “I’m going to have her continue to pretend she’s blind. It’ll help preserve her identity. I was wondering if there was some way to coat the dark glasses she was wearing with lead?”

“Wait a minute –” Alec started out of her seat.

“Stand down, Agent Danvers. Actually, I think it’s a good idea,” Hank agreed. “Everyone who saw the footage from that courtroom knows Supergirl can see. With her glasses coated with lead, Kara won’t be able to see. It will make it easier for her to pretend she is blind and she won’t have to worry about disobeying Ms. Grant’s wishes.”

“As you heard Dr. Ruiz, I need to be very careful about correcting – criticizing, her,” Cat said looking at Alex.

Alex held Cat’s gaze for a moment as she thought through the situation then admitted, “You really have given this a lot of thought. Okay, I can take care of the glasses. Shouldn’t take more than an hour or so. You want them totally coated, right? So she can’t cheat?”

“Exactly,” Cat almost smiled. “I don’t intend to give her the opportunity to fail in anything I ask of her.”

Alex looked at Hank who nodded his dismissal, “I’ll get right on it.”

/

“To help keep your identity a secret, you’re going to need to pretend you are still blind, Kara,” Alex informed her sister. “I’ve coated those dark classes entirely of lead so it will be easier for you to pretend, okay?”

“That’s only for the office though, right?” Kara asked as she reached for the glasses. “I’m sure Cat doesn’t mean I’m to wear them all of the time.”

“Yes, she does,” Alex asked Cat if she could break the news to her sister. They both agreed it was better than if Cat told her directly, afraid Kara wouldn’t use her sight in case of an emergency. “I mean, she thinks there will be less of a chance for a slip up if you pretend all of the time. She already told Carter and Adam to continue to treat you as though you can’t see.”

“Well, with these glasses on, it won’t be too hard to pretend,” Kara conceded trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. “I can’t really see anything. Guess it’s back to super hearing radar time.”

“Kara, I need you to listen to me carefully, okay?” Alex asked as she carefully removed the glasses from her sister’s face. She’s going to know something’s up if I move in with Cat Grant and never go back to work. Time for the hard part of the conversation. She took a deep breath, “Do you remember those food bars Max Lord had you eat?”

“They were the worst, Alex. I’m trying to forget them.” Kara said wrinkling her nose.

Alex almost smiled at the face her sister made and tried to keep her tone light, “He … um, he put something in the bar. A drug that effects Kryptonians. We’re not really sure how it works or everything it does – Dr. Ruiz will be working with mom to find the antidote. While they’re doing that, my job will be to keep an eye on you. As a matter of fact, I’m going to live with you.”

“He put some kind of drug in my food?” Kara’s heart raced as she remembered the last time Max experimented. “Like red kryptonite? Alex, I’m not safe then. You’d better lock me in a cell. Tell –”

“KARA STOP! It’s not like red kryptonite. Not at all, I promise. You’re not going to go all ‘Evil Kara’ or anything,” Alex assured her sister.

“Then what does it do?” She took a step closer to Alex searching her face. “Tell me.”

“We don’t exactly know,” Alex lied. She wasn’t about to tell Kara she was a virtual slave to Cat Grant now. “Like I said, we’re not really sure –”

“You’re not really sure? But you know enough that it won’t turn me into some kind of … monster? Please, Alex, stop treating me like I’m stupid. You obviously know enough that you have to watch me. I want to know – what does the drug do? I swear I’ll go straight to Winn if you don’t answer me. You know he can’t keep a secret from me,” Kara threatened. What else did Max do to me? Haven’t I gone through enough?

Alex’s shoulders slumped. She realized Kara was going to ask Winn regardless of what she said now. If Winn didn’t tell her, which was highly improbable, she’d continue digging until she found out … unless Cat tells her not to. Brilliant idea, Alex!

“Wait right here, Kara, I’ll be right back,” Alex promised.

/

“Absolutely not,” Cat said with a note of finality. “You wanted to be the one to talk with her … to explain things to her. I’m not going to intercede because she asked you a difficult question and, frankly, I’m surprised you even asked me. Perhaps my choice to have you act as a monitor was mistaken. I’ll speak with Director Henshaw –”

“No, no. You’re right. I’ll take care of this. Sorry to bother you,” Alex quickly acquiesced. She hastily left the room where Cat and her sons were eating lunch and spotted Agent Stevenson surreptitiously standing guard. She caught his eye then cocked her head toward Cat Grant. “Is Director Henshaw available?”

Without hesitation, he deadpanned, “No, ma’am. He’s tied up until further notice.”

Alex gave him a curt nod of thanks and continued down the hall. Damn, I love these guys! Time for plan B. I’ll tell her about Max. He’s locked away and can’t communicate with her so at least she’ll think she’s free as long as he’s in prison. It won’t sound so bad to her then, I hope.

/

“I’m going to show you the footage from the courthouse, yesterday,” Alex finished queuing up the laptop. “First, tell me, where were you when the attorneys were making their closing arguments?”

“I was in the cloakroom. You know that,” Kara said impatiently. “What does that have –”

“Let me finish my questions, okay? Trust me?” Alex quirked her lips into a small smile before continuing, “Were you dressed as Kara Danvers or as Supergirl and why?”

“As Kara Danvers, and you know why,” Kara cocked her head. Alex remained silent and Kara rolled her eyes as she said in a sing song voice, “I’m not supposed to use my powers, be Supergirl, under the terms of the guardianship contract Cat signed.”

“Then why did this happen?” Alex hit the play button.

Both sisters watched as Supergirl burst into the courtroom. Several seconds later she proceeded to use her heat vision to burn the verdict form held by the foreperson then laser the name Maxwell Lord into the front of the judge’s bench. Supergirl then pushed a court officer hard after the man tried to handcuff Max. She then took Alex’s gun away from her and crushed the barrel before handing it back to Alex.

Kara frowned. Why was I dressed as Supergirl? I’m not supposed to be Supergirl and use my powers until the guardianship is dissolved or Cat can get into a lot of trouble.

“Why isn’t there any sound? Why is Max Lord’s face blocked out?” Kara was grasping at straws trying to put what she saw into context. She remembered doing those things as Supergirl but, Alex was right, she knew she wasn’t supposed to.

“Tell me, Kara, why did you do those things? Use your super powers as Supergirl? Do you remember?” Alex asked.

“I, um, crushed your gun because I didn’t want you to live with the guilt of killing Max Lord and I wrote his name into the front of the judge’s bench so no one would forget he was there.” Kara bit her lip and looked chagrined. “I probably shouldn’t have done that, though. I hope the judge isn’t too mad at me.”

“Why did you burn that paper or assault the law enforcement officer?” Alex pressed.

Kara opened her mouth to answer and stopped when she realized she didn’t have an answer. She frowned and rubbed her temple as she fought to remember the reasoning behind her actions. She finally replied, “Mr. Lord told me to. I … I had to protect Mr. Lord. The paper had wrong things on it and –”

“You had to protect who?”

“Mr. Lord.”

“What’s his name, Kara? First and last name,” Alex held her breath.

“Max … Maxwell Lord.” Kara couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to say his full name after watching the video and thinking about what happened in court. Wait, he deserves my respect … right? We have a working relationship and he’s the boss.

“Who told you to protect him?”

There was a long pause.

“He did,” Kara answered. Why did I do those things to protect him? He isn’t my boss and he can’t tell me what to do … except he did and I listened to him. Fear crept into her voice as she realized something wasn’t right, “Alex, what did he do to me? Please, tell me!”

“Now you have your answer as to why there is no sound and his face is blocked off on the video, Kara.” Alex looked at her sister with a mixture of sympathy and compassion before continuing, “He can control you with his voice, command you to do anything he wants you to, and you have to obey – like you’re his puppet. God, I’m so sorry, Kara.”

Chapter Text

“Can you … can you leave me alone for a little bit?” Kara choked out. She knew Alex was concerned and wanted to talk. She couldn’t. Not right now. “Please?”

“Yeah, if that’s what you … okay, I’ll be outside if you need me,” Alex fought to hold back her tears. Normally she’d insist on staying to provide some kind of comfort. Today, however, she felt Kara needed time to process the information and, more importantly, she needed the opportunity to exercise at least a modicum of control over her life. Alex hugged her briefly then gave her a kiss on the forehead before leaving the room.

Kara sat staring off into space, vainly trying to grasp what Alex revealed to her. Fear and horror caused her to shudder. He can control me? But, he already had me doing whatever he asked of me. How much more control did he need? Was he going to have me kill people for him? Rao, he was! The police officer in the courtroom but … I didn’t … maybe Alex was wrong. That’s why she had to hurry and leave the room. She said she didn’t know exactly what the drug did. Maybe she really doesn’t know. But, I remember all those things, burning the paper, writing …his name on the judge’s bench, pushing the officer, taking Alex’s gun away and crushing it. Kara frowned as she fought to remember exactly how she felt in the courtroom. She didn’t feel like she was controlled in any way. What I felt was … good … right. I don’t think I was wrong. I know Alex told me it was wrong but … I was supposed to do those things. Mr. Lord wanted me to. I was happy to do what he wanted, chose to do what he said except … Rao, I failed! I didn’t protect him from Alex. I need to find Mr. Lord and apologize … make it right. I need to find him now!

“Alex?” Kara called out then stood up as Alex entered the room. “Where is Mr. Lord now?”

“Why?” Alex didn’t like the look in her sister’s eyes or her relapse addressing Max as Mr. Lord.

“I need to talk to him. I think … I think … I … really need to see him, to help him,” Kara felt restless. She needed to see Mr. Lord. The more she thought about it, the stronger the urge became.

Alarm bells went off in Alex’s head. This is so not good. There’s no way in hell she’s getting anywhere near Max. Wait, she said she wants to help him? I wonder …

“Hey, Kara, before we worry about that, we need to go talk to someone else. It’ll only take a minute, okay?”

“Promise?” I can hang on for a minute or two. Maybe she has to ask where Max is so I can see him. Alex is such a good sister.

“Promise, and Kara? Put these glasses on. Remember? Your supposed to pretend your blind?” I hope that will slow her down if she does decide to take off. “Now you remember you’re not supposed to use any of your super powers except hearing, right?”

Kara frowned as Alex grabbed her by the upper arm and led her quickly down a corridor. Yeah, that’s right …I think. Maybe? “But … what if Mr. Lord needs me to –”

“Kara, stay with me here. I need you to remember what Major Lane told you. What she said about the guardianship agreement.”

“But Alex –”

“No, Kara. Concentrate on the guardianship agreement. We’re almost there,” Alex eyed Agent Stevenson who nodded and left the area as Alex led Kara into the room where Cat Grant sat studying a laptop. “Hi. Kara needs –”

“Kara, could you please close my laptop?” Cat asked as soon as she saw the panicked look on Alex’s face and the obvious unease in Kara’s stance.

Kara immediately located the laptop and closed the lid carefully.

“That was very good,” Cat complimented. “Now, would you please close Carter’s laptop?”

Kara located where Carter sat at the table and closed the lid on the laptop in front of him.

“Excellent,” Cat praised. “You did everything right.”

Alex was astounded at the immediate change in Kara’s body posture. Her sister appeared both relaxed and energized by the words. A slight smile and blush accompanied the relaxed posture.

“Agent Danvers, is there a room nearby where you and I can meet in private?” Cat asked. “Kara may stay here and will not listen to our conversation, correct?”

“Correct, Cat,” Kara agreed and her smile blossomed even wider until her face radiated happiness.

“Yeah, we can talk in the lab down the hall,” Alex answered looking at her sister with consternation. This is scary. She’s so … happy.

Cat, binder in hand, followed Alex out of the room and into the empty lab she and Kara just left.

“Tell me what happened,” Cat said as Alex shut the door.

“I showed her video footage of what happened in court yesterday and asked her for an explanation as to what she was thinking when she used her heat vision and pushed the officer. I was careful. The sound was totally muted and I blocked out Max’s face,” Alex explained as she sat down.

“Did you read any of the information compiled by Mr. Schott?” Cat motioned to the thick binder given to her last night. “I’m sure I don’t have the only copy.”

“I … um, kind of skimmed through it,” Alex admitted.

Cat bit back her initial impulse to reprimand Alex. Calm down, Cat, she’s used to jumping in feet first when it comes to Kara. That much was apparent when she agreed to be Maxwell Lord’s date at the award ceremony. “Alex, I understand your concern regarding Kara. She’s your sister and, I daresay, you’ve probably spent a large portion of your life watching out for her. This situation she’s in … we’re in, requires a careful … a considered approach. I’m going to ask you to familiarize yourself totally with all of the information provided in here before you speak to Kara without me present. Especially when Maxwell Lord is the subject of conversation.”

Cat paused waiting for Alex’s response.

“You’re … okay,” Alex finally uttered when she couldn’t quite get out the word ‘right’. She knew it was petty but, damn it, she spent almost half her life protecting Kara and Cat knew her for only a few years.

“As you can see, there are … I guess you can call them triggers, caused by the drug. Why don’t you tell me what was said and done so we can work out exactly what went wrong,” Cat suggested.

“Shouldn’t we check on Kara, first? Make sure –”

“She’s fine – as long as the subject of Maxwell Lord and her behavior in court isn’t brought up. I’ve already talked with Adam and Carter. They know what not to say.” Cat gestured to Alex, “Now, what happened with Kara?”

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

“Right there is where it went off the rails,” Alex said. “She was fine until I left.”

“No, she wasn’t,” Cat disagreed. “As soon as she saw the video footage and you questioned her about her actions in court she started to spiral backwards. You, unintentionally, made her examine her actions in detail and she remembered something. Do you know what it was?”

Alex was surprised as Cat waited for her to figure out the answer. Alex considered everything she remembered when she entered the courtroom then thought about the video footage she watched prior to letting Kara see it. Her jaw dropped.

“He told her to protect him, when he first called her out. She was supposed to protect him and she let me hurt him,” Alex blurted.

“Among other things you did to him, yes,” Cat remarked pleasantly surprised Alex figured it out in such a short time. Especially, taking into account, she wasn’t in the courtroom when Max actually ordered Kara to protect him.

Alex ducked her head when she realized what ‘other things’ Cat was referring to. The apprehension technique she used on Max spread like wildfire throughout the DEO and most of the male agents were giving her a wide berth, of course Vasquez ‘high fived’ her much to Winn’s distress.

“Max commanded her to protect him. She disobeyed him.” Cat held up her hand as Alex opened her mouth to speak and motioned to her ‘owner’s manual’, “That damned drug fixated her mind on her supposed disobedience to his order. Her mind was already obsessing with her supposed failure before you even left the room it just took a little time before it started to affect her.”

Alex nodded her understanding. She planned to memorize everything in that binder, down to the placement of periods and commas, as soon as they finished their discussion. She realized, belatedly, killing Max Lord wouldn’t help Kara no matter how personally satisfying it would be. There was always that unfulfilled command waiting to snare her sister.

“I know you didn’t intend to trigger that response and you did take immediate and correct action to rectify the situation,” Cat acknowledged. “However, that’s not the issue. We both need to be on the same page if we’re to help Kara. Agreed?”

“Yes, and … you’re right,” Alex conceded. She hated admitting when she was wrong but this … this was for Kara.

“Your sister is in a very fragile mental state because of Max. As I said before, our interactions with her must be careful and deliberate. You must remember to measure your words before speaking to her. Self-control is paramount.” Cat decided against parading out the rash decisions Alex made during this whole Max Lord debacle. Embarrassing the younger woman would not help Kara nor foster any positive working relationship between her and Cat. “The last thing anyone needs, least of all Kara, is for Supergirl to go searching for Maxwell Lord to beg his forgiveness because she disobeyed him. You know what that twisted son of a bitch would do to her if she found him.”

Alex nodded grimly. Maybe I should arrange for Max to have an accident after all. It might be safer for everyone involved.

“Now, out of curiosity, exactly why did you tell Kara about Max having control over her when we specifically decided not to?” Cat asked raising her eyebrow.

Alex sucked in a long breath. She was correct in assuming the next few minutes were going to be particularly unpleasant.

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

 

“I am a highly-decorated General in the United States Army. I know exactly the channels a civilian award is supposed to go through. I’ll push through the paperwork later,” Sam Lane told his aide who, unwisely, assumed the general wanted to do things by the book. “You will have an official certificate and Medal ready for me to present to James Olsen by tomorrow.”

“Yes, sir,” Captain Taylor blanched.

“And Captain I expect all the pomp and ceremony given to the recipient of the Meritorious Civilian Service Award to be afforded to Mr. Olsen. Understood?” General Lane didn’t wait for an answer before he said, “Dismissed.”

Lane waited until the captain left his office before reaching for his phone. Time to call Olsen and give him the good news as distasteful as I find it. Can’t call Lucy, she has to believe this has nothing to do with her or the DEO. I can’t believe I’m giving that glorified fanboy a medal … the things I do to keep this world safe.

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

“I’m sorry you have to pretend your blind around me, Kara,” Carter apologized. Cat had specifically asked her sons to stress how important it was for Kara to continue to pretend she was blind. “Mom thinks I might slip up in public if I don’t always think of you as blind. She doesn’t want to give away your secret identity and I don’t want her to get in trouble.”

“Me too, Kara,” Adam spoke up. “I’ll be heading back to Opal City in a day or two but Cat’s asked me the same thing. I’m so glad you are all right, though. Really. It shouldn’t be too much longer and the guardianship will be dissolved. You’ll be back to living your own life as Kara Danvers and saving National City as Supergirl.”

“Guys, you don’t have to apologize. I totally understand where Cat’s coming from and she’s right. It will be easier for me to pretend in public if I keep up the habit in the apartment.” Kara smiled. Alex is such a great sister for fixing these glasses so I can’t really see. Oh, I should tell the boys. They’ll think Alex is terrific too! “My sister coated these glasses with … something so, as long as I have them on, I really can’t see.”

“Really? What did she coat them –”

“You don’t need to know, Carter,” Adam cut his little brother off. “Let Kara keep at least some of her secrets, okay?”

“Thank you, Adam. Your brother’s right, Carter. The less people know about any of my … weaknesses, the better. I’d –”

“It’s lead, right? Like Superman. I mean, you are his cousin so it has to be lead,” Carter interrupted excitedly. “Oh, I won’t say anything to anyone. Promise.”

“So, your heading back to Opal City?” Kara asked abruptly changing the topic. She felt too good to dwell on secrets, besides, Adam and Carter were much more interesting, at least for the moment. “National City too exciting for you?”

“No. It’s not that, although I’ve had enough adventure and intrigue to last quite a while. I’m going back to get my master’s degree. Finish school,” Adam shrugged then realized Kara really couldn’t see the gesture. “I … I wanted to apologize again for what I said to you before, Kara. It was –”

“Enough, Adam. You’ve apologized and your apology was accepted. Stop beating yourself up over it,” Kara laughed. Rao, she felt great! I wonder if I got a sugar high from the syrup I poured on those pancakes. Not that I can get a sugar high but, boy, I haven’t felt this good in ages! “Hey, did you guys have pancakes for breakfast by any chance? With syrup? If you did, weren’t they great?”

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

A half hour later, Cat and Alex were slightly unnerved when they saw a group of amused agents standing near the office where they left Kara with Adam and Carter. Peals of laughter from Adam and Carter emanated from the office.

“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, the show is over,” Alex advised as she elbowed her way through the group. “Vasquez?”

Susan Vasquez had tears rolling down her face and unsuccessfully tried to hide a huge grin.

“What’s going on?” Alex demanded.

“I didn’t know Supergirl did stand-up comedy. She’s really great! She could make a mint on the comedy circuit,” Vasquez replied still laughing. “I hope Winn’s recording this at the comm.”

“Alex, make sure she tells you the one about the cape. You’ll die laughing!” Agent Stevenson advised.

Alex looked at Cat before opening the door. Kara’s never, ever, done stand-up. I don’t remember her ever telling a good joke. What the –

“Oh, mom! Supergirl is the funniest person I’ve ever heard,” Carter’s face was red from laughter.

“Enough jokes for now,” Cat said, wrongly assuming Kara would stop talking.

“Oh, you want to do riddles? What did the –”

“No, not right now, either. Right now, I’d like quiet,” Cat said and Kara nodded enthusiastically. Cat rolled her eyes and motioned for Adam to follow her out of the room. Once outside she eyed the few remaining agents who hastily left the area. “Okay, Adam, can you tell me what happened?”

“Nothing, I mean we started talking and everything was normal. Then she said she was happy and started cracking jokes. Damn, I never knew she was this funny. You have to hear her cape joke. I thought I was going to pee my –”

“Adam! Focus, please. I need to know what happened,” Cat demanded.

“Nothing. Really. We were talking and she said she felt so happy and she wanted us to feel happy too. Then she started riffing,” Adam hastily added, “It was all clean stuff, too. Don’t worry.”

“Of everything that concerns me, Supergirl keeping her humor clean isn’t high on the list,” Cat shook her head. “You’re sure that’s all that happened. Nothing else?”

“Nope. She kept changing the subject when we were talking, you know, like people who are drunk or high sometimes do,” Adam cocked his head. “I’d say she acted like she was high but, obviously, she can’t be … right?”

Chapter Text

Alex studied her sister. She swore Kara was practically vibrating with happiness. What was Cat thinking when she told Kara she only wanted quiet? She looks like she’s gonna explode if she doesn’t have an outlet for her energy.

“Um, Supergirl? You can take your glasses off as long as we are at the DEO. The agents know Supergirl can see,” Alex finally said. The sight of her sister wearing the dark wrap around glasses grinning like a madwoman was unsettling.

Kara nodded her understanding enthusiastically and took off the glasses. Geez, maybe I should have her put the glasses back on. She looks like she’s … oh, it can’t be …

“Supergirl? Do you feel … high? Like really giddy and, you know, your thoughts are racing a thousand miles an hour. You’re thinking about a bunch of things at once? Kind of like the rush you get when you’ve saved someone’s life only, maybe, a lot more?”

Kara put her finger to her nose then pointed it at Alex. She pumped her fist in the air as she danced around in a little circle. It was all Alex could do not to laugh, “Okay, I was right on point. Good to know.”

“Supergirl’s high?” Carter asked.

Aw, crap! I forgot he was in the room. I don’t want him thinking getting high is actually okay … Cat would have a reason to skin me alive then.

“Ah, yeah, in a manner of speaking. It’s a Kryptonian thing, though. When humans get high it’s –”

“It’s not anything you’re going to have to worry about,” Cat said as she and Adam re-entered the room. “Agent Danvers, could I see you outside for a moment please?”

“Yeah, sure,” Alex assumed Cat was going to dress her down for corrupting Carter.

“Oh, and I’m sure Supergirl won’t listen to our conversation,” Cat mentioned casually as she exited the room totally ignoring Kara’s vigorous nodding. As soon as she shut the door she turned to Alex, “I believe your Dr. Ruiz underestimated the response to positive feedback. There’s nothing in the, um, manual that deals with how long her … high is going to last.”

“Well, I’ve never seen her quite like this … ever,” Alex admitted.

“Obviously, I will have to be a lot more judicious with the praise. Perhaps only one compliment at a time will suffice. Supergirl appears ready to burst at the seams right now,” Cat observed. “Any ideas how to bring her down? Release some of her energy?”

Alex stopped and thought. Normally she’d suggest a sparring session in the ‘green’ room but she didn’t know how the drug might react to kryptonite. “Did you want to try and reprimand her? Maybe tell her –”

“No.”

“No? But, you praised her three times so if you said one –”

“After Dr. Ruiz’s lecture and everything I read, I believe it may be extremely … counterproductive to try any negative reinforcement,” Cat replied. “The last thing anyone needs is a Supergirl who is neurotic.”

“Okay …” Alex trailed off still thinking. She needs some safe way to channel her energy … something to keep her focused. “I think I may have an idea. Let me check with Director Henshaw. I’ll be right back.”

/

Cat Grant prided herself on remaining unflappable in the midst of unexpected or difficult circumstances. She couldn’t understand why the sight of a silent, extremely happy, Kara Danvers unnerved her. She’s practically vibrating with energy. I was going to tell her she could talk but I’m afraid I’d actually tell her to be quiet again. I don’t want to get in the habit of playing Simon Says with her.

“Hey, mom, how long are we gonna stay here?” Carter asked, a slight whine in his voice

“Until someone comes off her high,” Cat motioned to Kara with a slight tilt of her head. “Agent Danvers is working on a way to help with that.”

“I was supposed to go back to school today and –”

“And your brother was supposed to fly back to Opal City. Yes, I know,” Cat understood both her sons were bored. They spent much of the past eighteen hours sequestered in two nondescript rooms at a secret government facility. You know darn well you’d be just as bored if you didn’t have to focus almost all of your energy on figuring out what to say or not say to Kara. What the hell was Max thinking?

“Don’t worry about me,” Adam spoke up. Unlike Carter, he found watching Supergirl, on her current high, entertaining. “My classes don’t start for another month. I wish they’d show me around, though. Do you think Agent Danvers really would give us a tour around this place? I mean the non-secret stuff. I’d love to –”

“Agent Danvers certainly won’t be providing any tours around a top-secret facility,” Lucy Lane said as she entered the room without knocking. “However, I can show you a few areas after I speak with your mom.”

Cat got up to leave the room and looked at Kara, “Remember, no listening to the conversation.”

Kara gave an excited two thumbs up while nodding her head in understanding.

This wasn’t Sunny Danvers … this was Super Nova Danvers … what the hell happened? “Um, doesn’t she, ah … speak?” Lucy raised an eyebrow.

“Not at the moment, no,” Cat answered.

“Mom told her to be quiet. You should have heard her before that, though. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. She’s so funny. She was telling jokes and –”

“That’s enough, Carter,” Cat cut him off. “Why don’t you play a game on your computer. This shouldn’t take too long … should it, Major Lane?”

“Ah, no. Not that long at all. Then I’ll be happy to give you and Adam an abbreviated tour of the facility, okay Carter?” Lucy pacified.

“That’ll be fine,” Adam answered. “Take your time. I’m going to whip Carter one more time on “Escape from Fort Rozz”. Upon seeing Lucy’s startled look, he hastily explained, “It’s a cool game Winn put on the laptops.”

“Oh,” Lucy replied. I believe I’ll have a little talk with Winn about the meaning of ‘need to know.’

/

“Chief Thomas asked if I’d fill you in on a few events,” Lucy began as soon as the two women were seated in her office. “The man who shot James and killed the doorman to my building was hired by Max’s attorney, Ron Travanti. The guy left all the information on who hired him with his girlfriend in case Travanti decided to have him killed. When the Gotham police showed up at his apartment and told her he was dead she assumed Travanti did it. She gave the police all the evidence her boyfriend left behind. The cops arrested him on his way to the airport.”

“I take it he arranged the contract on Carter’s life as well?” Cat asked.

“I’m assuming he made the arrangements on both of your lives, Cat. Unfortunately, the police don’t have any evidence at this time to bring those charges yet. They’re still working the case,” Lucy explained. “I’ve also assigned one of our top computer experts, Agent Morrish, to assist the NCPD. Hopefully they’ll find enough for us to bring charges against both Travanti and Max.”

“You are aware, Carter is done testifying in court or going anywhere near Maxwell Lord. Correct?” Cat challenged. Max was already found guilty and was facing mandatory life in prison. She was not going to risk Carter’s life letting him testify against Max Lord again.

“He won’t be needed to testify. Most likely, you won’t need to either,” Lucy agreed and watched as Cat nodded. Now for the not so good news. “There was another … development last night. At the hospital where they took Max after Alex apprehended him.”

“And?”

“Max was drugged to the gills, out cold, with a police guard when three guys dressed in deputy’s uniforms attempted to break him out. Luckily, the cops realized something wasn’t right and managed to foil the escape attempt. One of the bad guys was accidentally shot and badly wounded by one of his own men,” Lucy decided against telling Cat her father’s possible connection to the escape attempt.

“I take it, Max had this Travanti hire someone to help him escape police custody,” Cat assumed.

“The police are looking into it,” Lucy shied away from confirming or denying Cat’s statement. “However, it raises a rather large problem. If Max –”

“If Max escapes can he control Supergirl?” Cat finished Lucy’s thought.

Lucy nodded then continued, “My worry isn’t that so much as … what if someone uses Max’s voice? There are plenty of sound bites all over the internet. It would be relatively easy to piece together countless commands and, if she is susceptible, she could be at risk from literally anyone. If that’s the case, you and Supergirl would literally have to be joined at the hip for you to keep her under control.”

Cat stood up and started to pace. She enjoyed Kara’s company but constant togetherness? That wasn’t going to work well. “How about we try an experiment here at the DEO? Have Mr. Schott make up commands from Max using archived audio tapes. Hell, use the footage from yesterday. At least, if she’s here, we should be able to control her.”

“Good idea. Now all I have to figure out is how to explain why agents are pointing rifles containing kryptonite bullets at her when we try this,” Lucy said already running scenarios through her mind.

“Tell her the truth. She knows about Max Lord and the control thing. Your Agent Danvers put her foot in it when she tried to explain why she was coming to live with us full time,” Cat advised. “She doesn’t know about me, though, and she’s not going to find out. Right?”

“Not from me,” Lucy quickly assured her. “I’m going to set everything up with Director Henshaw then get back with you on the particulars. Now, what the hell happened to Supergirl? She looks …”

“High?” Cat supplied. Lucy thought for a moment then nodded.  “I was following the Supergirl manual when –”

“The Supergirl manual?”

“A compilation of the do’s and don’ts regarding Supergirl. Based on research of the drug Max gave to her. I suggest you speak with Dr. Ruiz to learn all of the specifics. The behavior you were …curious about resulted from my lavish praise of her completing two insignificant tasks. Apparently, too much approval from me at once has that effect on her.” Cat shrugged her shoulders.

“Oh.” Lucy processed the information. This may make testing Supergirl safer. “So, you know how to get her back under control if she responds to Max’s voice during these experiments?”

“Obviously, there’s still a little tweaking that needs to be done but, yes, I believe getting her back under control shouldn’t poise too much of a problem,” Cat affirmed.

“Great. That’ll make everything easier,” Lucy stood and ushered Cat to the door. “I’m going to run this by Director Henshaw and make the necessary preparations for the test. I’ll have an agent take you back to your sons.”

/

Kara was excited. More than excited, actually. She couldn’t ever remember feeling as … alive as she did right now. Watching Carter and Adam play their game, using her x-ray vision to scan every part of the base not encased in lead, smelling all the distinct scents of alien prisoners held at the DEO, everything was so … fascinating. She couldn’t believe she never noticed it before. Probably because I was talking too much. Cat is so smart. That’s why she wanted quiet … so I could pay attention to everything. I wish I could see her … I hate that Lucy had her and J’onn’s offices lined in lead. Oh, oh my gosh, she’s leaving the office with Lucy. I wonder if she’ll come back in here?

Kara felt a tug on her cape. She looked down.

“I asked if you wanted to play a round with us,” Adam said now that he had her attention.

Should I play with them? What would Cat want me to do? I should let them play together for a while longer. Adam is going back to Opal City soon and Carter should spend all the time he can with his older brother.

Kara shook her head and gestured for Adam and Carter to continue to play together. Adam shrugged his shoulders and gave her a half smile.

“Okay. Thought maybe you might be bored just standing there,” he said as she shook her head.

Bored? With all the activity going on here in the DEO? I mean, look, Alex is setting up … paints? An easel? Wow! Is Alex going to paint something? She never has before. She always said I was the artist and she was the scientist although, really, she knows my father was one of the chief scientists on Krypton. Of course I know science … just … not earth science as much. Too boring. Or backward. Oops, better not say that to Alex. She’ll get mad. I wonder what she’s going to paint. Hmm, Lucy and J’onn look real serious … darn, they just went into J’onn’s office. Winn’s going in there too. I hope he’s not in trouble or anything. I’m glad he and Vasquez are good friends now. He has someone to go with him to those weird geeky movies. I like musicals so much better. I mean, really, how can you not like a musical. People bursting into song. Dancing. Real life should be like that. This floor would be perfect for tap dancing … although the gray shade is a little depressing.

/

“Now you can paint, focus your energy on making something Cat would enjoy. Take it slow, though. Remember when you first started painting? Before you learned how to control your strength? Agent Bara only had room for three canvases in the helicopter. You poke holes through these and that’s it,” Alex admonished as she handed Kara a brush.

Kara nodded her understanding.

“Good. I’m going to leave you alone. Vasquez is monitoring the room. Signal to the camera if you need me to come back, okay?” Alex instructed.

Kara gave her a ‘thumbs up’ but was clearly distracted by her new project. Alex is right. I need to focus …paint something Cat would like.

/

“All set?” Lucy asked Alex over her comm.

“Yeah. I told her to focus on painting something Cat would like. We can start the test whenever you’re ready,” Alex said standing next to Cat and a team of agents armed with weapons containing kryptonite.

“Commence test on my mark,” Hank looked at Vasquez. “Mark.”

Susan nodded once and played an audio command pieced together from Max’s interviews. Everyone in the control room held their breath and carefully watched the monitor waiting for Supergirl’s reaction. She ignored the command to touch her toes and continued to paint.

“Well, we shouldn’t have to worry about the poor-quality imitations,” Hank noted and instructed Vasquez. “Try the next one.”

Lucy was heartened after all fifteen commands, made by using clips of Max’s voice, were played. None of them had an impact on Supergirl. She looked at Hank and raised an eyebrow. Time for the true test. Time to see if she responds … how she responds to yesterday’s courtroom fiasco.

“Look sharp, agents, preparing for the last test. On my mark … mark,” Hank said into the comm.

Vasquez held her breath as she punched up the last recording. The one taken directly from the courtroom. Unaltered. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the monitors as the words filtered into the room where Supergirl painted.

Lucy watched Supergirl’s face for any minute change in demeanor. The smiling, focused, face of Kara Danvers remained unchanged.

“Loop it through again,” Hank ordered when the original finished playing. “Go through it a few more times. From start to finish.”

Supergirl continued to paint.

“Agent Danvers. Time for the second part of the test,” Hank instructed after Supergirl failed to react to Max’s voice.

“Affirm,” Alex confirmed and threw a look over her shoulder to the waiting agents, “I’ll be right back. Remember, Cat comes in first. Enter only if ordered to by Director Henshaw or Major Lane.”

She entered the room as the last of Max’s audio was played. Her sister seemed totally oblivious as she concentrated on the canvas in front of her.

“Hey Supergirl. I need you to put down the paints and brush for a minute and stand over here,” Alex said.

Supergirl fixed Alex with a glare.

“Humor me,” Alex responded recognizing the look. Her sister hated to be interrupted when she was painting. Well, that wiped the smile off her face.

With an almost audible ‘humph’, the palette and brush were set aside. Supergirl stomped over to where Alex was standing and folded her arms across her chest.

“Ready,” Alex said over the comm and the voice of Max Lord giving commands to Supergirl filled the room again. She waited until Vasquez played all of the audio clips Winn cobbled together and the recording from the courtroom. Her sister’s only reaction was an exasperated look and an eye roll at the last item played. “You can get back to painting now.”

Supergirl smiled and motioned excitedly to the painting.

“Nah. I’ll wait until you’ve finished. I do have a question for you, though. Do you still feel as … exuberant as you did before you started to paint?” Alex asked and watched as Supergirl shrugged her shoulders. The smile reappeared but her sister didn’t appear to … vibrate as much now. The painting is settling her down a bit. I’ll have Vasquez pump in some classical music. Give her something else to focus her energy on.

/

“I’d say she passed with flying colors,” Lucy looked over at Alex and smiled.

“Dr. Ruiz? Any thoughts?” Hank asked.

“It appears a transmitted audio clip is insufficient to compel her to obey or even pay attention to a command,” Dr. Ruiz sniffed. “I believe I made mention of that before. Supergirl must be within human hearing distance of the actual controlling party.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Alex was confused. “Why did she flip out earlier? When I only showed her the video. This doesn’t make any sense.”

“It’s in the Supergirl manual,” Winn broke in. “Page twenty-three. When you confronted her about what happened in the courtroom – what she did and why she did it. She hadn’t seen Ms. Grant. Received her ‘good girl’ for the day thing.”

“So … what? That works to protect her from Max Lord?” Alex was confused.

“No.” Dr. Ruiz explained, “It insulates her from the her failure. What you did, Agent Danvers, was confront Supergirl with her blatant failure before she was … stabilized for the day. Although, from what I understand, Ms. Grant may want to exercise prudence when praising Supergirl in the future.”

“I merely adhered to the parameters given in the manual. Obviously, they were set a little on the high end,” Cat glowered at the doctor. “Now that we’ve hashed out everything … are we free to go? I have a business to run.”

/

Maxwell Lord knew he had to do something. Something important. He frowned as he struggled to remember where he was and why he felt so tired. Smells and sounds like I’m in a hospital. I don’t feel any pain … kind of numb all over. What happened? Think … last thing I remember … Alex Danvers forcing me to relinquish my hold on Supergirl. That BITCH! I’ll make her sorry she was ever born! First things first … I have to get Supergirl back. Now that I know she’s not surrounded by kryptonite in a cell at the DEO it won’t be too difficult. I’ll reach out to some of my ‘friends’ in the anti-alien movement … maybe a certain Senator … broker a deal … use Supergirl to get rid of their ‘alien problem’ if they help me to escape. They must have seen her in action at court … how she obeyed my every command until Cat Grant stepped in. I’ll let them know I’ll be able to control her as long as Cat Grant is out of the picture. All I’ll need is a couple of phone calls to the right people … pay off the guards and have someone assassinate Cat. Supergirl will be mine and her dear sister, Alex Danvers, will be the first person I have her kill … wait, someone’s talking … who’s in here?

“Time for you to go back to sleep, Mr. Lord,” Doctor Manuel’s voice was all business. She saw what happened in court yesterday with Supergirl. Maxwell Lord was not going to cause the same havoc in the hospital. Not under her watch.

Max’s, “No”, came out as more of a groan and the doctor smiled as she administered the drug.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Lord, we’ll take good care of you. Oh, the goons you hired to help you escape? They were caught by the police. Just thought I’d let you know,” she patted his arm. “Have a nice nap.”

What ‘goons’? I didn’t have Travanti hire anyone … someone must have … figured it … out. They’re coming for me … will help me … escape. Good. You’re dead … Alex Danvers. Count on …

Manuel watched as the drug took full effect and her patient succumbed to unconsciousness. The two police officers seated in the room visibly relaxed. She nodded to them then exited and room.

Chapter Text

Sir,” Lucy directed to her boss as everyone filed out of the briefing room. “May I have a moment of your time … in your office?”

“Sure. Everything okay?” Hank asked.

“There are some developments I need to pass along to you,” was all Lucy would say until they reached the office.

“Have a seat, Major,” Hank motioned to one of the chairs facing his desk. “What’s on your mind?”

“Sir, I regret to inform you I’ve compromised the DEO.”

Hank cocked his head, “In what way?”

“I … I’ve been in contact with my dad and, well, didn’t realize the only reason he’s been calling me is to pump me for information. Information, to my great shame, I inadvertently gave him,” Lucy forced herself to keep eye contact with Hank. “The escape attempt last night at the hospital confirmed my suspicions. I spoke with my father hours before the attempt. He demanded we turn Supergirl over to Cadmus after what happened in court - that she poised an obvious threat. I told him she was not a threat as long as Maxwell Lord was behind bars. Sir, I spoke with Chief Thomas. The men who tried to aide Max were totally scrubbed – no birth records, identities –”

“I know what scrubbed means, Major Lane. Anything else?”

“When I insisted on locking up Agent Danvers. It wasn’t because of her actions. Well, part of it was, but mostly it was because my dad told me there was a rumor going around the Pentagon … a female DEO agent was giving classified information on aliens to Maxwell Lord. Instead of actually investigating the rumor, I jumped to the conclusion that Alex was giving the information to Max so she could see her sister.” Lucy took a deep breath then continued, “A couple of weeks later I talked with my dad. Asked him about the rumors. He said there were no new rumors about missing classified intelligence and congratulated me on catching the mole. That’s why I believed Alex was guilty. It’s why I worked so hard to convince you to keep her locked up. To press charges against her.”

“And you didn’t feel you could come to me and tell me?” Hank asked tamping down on his anger.

“Alex is … is someone special to you. I was afraid if I said anything you’d compromise yourself, and the DEO, to save her. So, I trumped up some charges to keep her locked up,” Lucy admitted.

“What changed your mind?” Hank was curious.

“I had Agent Morrish design a quick search program to seek for classified alien information. When we took down Lord Technologies I had the program run on all of Max’s computers. I also had Agent Vasquez check our computers for any signs of tampering. Nothing was found in either case. I chalked it up to a bad rumor and released Alex. I didn’t give it a second thought until last night when I talked to my sister, Lois. She pointed out to me why dad never recalled me back to Washington. As long as I was here he had an indirect influence over the DEO,” Lucy finished.

“Have you spoken to your father since the phone conversation last night?”

“No, sir. I respectfully resign my position as second in command and will accept any –”

“Not so fast, Major Lane. I won’t say I’m not disappointed, and a little angry, you chose not to trust me. To inform me you believed my department was compromised and why you believed it. Which will never happen again,” Hanks eyes blazed. “While I can’t forbid you to speak to your father, I can and do specifically prohibit you from talking about any facet of the DEO or it’s personnel. Do I make myself clear, Major?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dismissed,” Hank said then added, “I do believe you owe Agent Danvers an apology.”

“Yes, sir … and, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry sir.” Lucy waited for Hanks nod of acknowledgement before leaving the office. This is your own fault, Luce. You know the chain of command – hell, you expect everyone else to follow it. You’re lucky he didn’t decide to bring charges for insubordination like you were going to do to Alex. Damn, I bet Alex has already left the base with Cat. I’ll have to apologize to her when I get back to the apartment. Actually, it’s probably safer there, anyway. She can’t insist on an impromptu sparring session then.

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

“Hello,” James said into his phone as he looked over layouts for the fashion page. He recently returned to work with strict doctor’s orders to take things easy.

“James Olsen? This is General Lane. I wanted to call you to thank you for saving the life of my little girl.”

James looked at his phone to check the number. He never heard Lucy’s dad speak to him in such a warm tone. Wow! This is surreal I never thought I’d hear from him again after Lucy and I broke up. I wonder what he wants.

“James?” The general’s voice inquired.

“Yes, sir, I’m here. Just …a little surprised you called.”

Unlike Lucy, James viewed her father with the same distrust Lois did. The man always had a hidden agenda.

“You saved Lucy’s life from a crazed gunman, son, I’m in your debt. You’re a real hero in my book.”

Lucy’s father never complimented him before or used such a … respectful tone before. I suppose he could be grateful. I know how much he cares about Lucy.

“Thank you, sir.”

“As a matter of fact, your actions were so heroic the U.S. Army is awarding you the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. It’s the highest honor awarded to a civilian by the U.S. Army. You earned it, son … James,” the general’s voice was almost jovial.

James frowned. Now, all of a sudden, he’s calling me ‘son’ and James instead of Jimmy? Perry White always told me I had good instincts and I should follow them. Right now? They’re screaming that something else is going on.

“Again, thank you, sir. I don’t believe I deserve an award for what I did. I –”

“Nonsense, Jimmy, um, James. This isn’t the time for false modesty. You saved the life of a U.S. Army Major. You deserve the medal! You’re a real American hero! I’ll be flying in tomorrow to present it to you.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Tomorrow?

“Excuse me, sir. Isn’t this a little … sudden? I thought these things take time.”

“Well, yes they do, son. I put you in for the award as soon as I heard what happened. I didn’t say anything to Lucy. I wanted it to be a surprise. She’ll be so pleased.”

She’ll be pleased? Is that what this is about?

“I’m honored, sir, but I respectfully decline –”

“You can’t … you don’t want to decline a medal that shows you are a hero. My staff has already set up a banquet in your honor. The press will be there. This is your time to shine, son! Let everyone know what a brave man, a hero, you are. Now, the banquet starts at 1800 hours. I’ll have a car pick you up from your apartment –”

“What about the doorman who was murdered? Is his family going to be there too?” James was still bothered by Ron’s murder. Truthfully, he knew if the doorman hadn’t tackled the gunman, he and Lucy would have died.

“The, uh, doorman? Well, I suppose my staff could contact his family. See if they would like to attend.”

“I’m sorry. I meant, are they receiving an award for Ron’s heroic actions? I mean, he did tackle the bad guy knowing the man had a gun,” James explained. I don’t think he really knows what happened. Or, more likely, he doesn’t care.

“I’m sure it was an oversight by my Captain. I’ll have him put the man in for the award too,” the general sounded a little brusque.

Ah, this is the Sam Lane I’m used to dealing with. Time to push the envelope a little and see if my instinct was right.

“I’m honored, sir. Really. But I can’t except the award. You can give Ron’s family the medal tomorrow night, instead. He’s the real hero and his family deserves the recognition. Not me,” James maintained. “It’s not ‘false modesty’ as you said earlier. Ron did sacrifice his life for two people he knew only in passing.”

“It doesn’t work that way, son! The paperwork, everything, is in your name. Not his. I told you, we’d see about getting his family a medal too. Now, like I said, we’ll have a car pick you up at 1800 hours. I’ll have Henshaw make sure Lucy is present at –”

“No, sir. I’ll wait until Ron’s family is awarded the –”

“You can’t! I mean, we already have everything set up. I’m flying in –”

“Then, sir, I suggest you cancel your flight. I won’t be attending until Ron’s family –”

“You would dishonor my daughter by not accepting an award for saving her life? Who the hell do you think you are, Olsen? You ungrateful –”

“This is not about disrespecting Lucy,” James fought to keep his voice calm. That was a low blow, General. Now I’m sure this award has nothing to do with my actions and everything to do with Lucy. He’s either using this to butter her up or get back into her good graces for something he’s done. “Just because we are not together doesn’t mean I don’t –”

“You will do this for my daughter. If you care for her happiness in the least. Now, be ready at 1800 hours tomorrow.”

James heard the click as Lane hung up the phone. What the hell? I’m not in your army and I won’t be bullied into doing something I don’t feel comfortable doing. Lucy or no Lucy – I’m not one of his subordinates. He can’t order me around. This is supposed to be a surprise for Lucy? I don’t think so. Wonder what she’ll say when I tell her about her dad calling me?

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

“Alex!” Lucy called out. Vasquez had advised her of Alex’s whereabouts as soon as she finished her meeting with Hank. She was pretty sure Vasquez had the entire DEO bugged.

Alex paused watching as Lucy almost sprinted toward her. Crap! What did I do wrong now? She better not be mad I told Vasquez to delete Supergirl’s comedy routine from the mainframe. Oh, she doesn’t look mad … good.

“I’m glad I caught you before you left,” Lucy said as soon as she was within a few feet of Alex. “Do you have a couple of minutes?”

“Yeah, sure. Supergirl’s almost done with her canvas and Cat decided to let her continue to bleed off a little of her … extra energy,” Alex explained. “What can I help you with?”

“In my office? Please?” Lucy took in Alex’s face and added, “You’re not in trouble at all.”

“Oh, well, then by all means lead the way,” Alex said and followed Lucy back to her office.

“Shut the door, please,” Lucy asked Alex once they were both inside.

Alex stood with her arms partially folded across her chest. The bite mark from Max was still slightly swollen and painful to the touch. “What’s going on?”

“I owe you an apology.”

“Okay,” Alex agreed. This is something new and different.

“Remember, months ago, before all this stuff with Max Lord started? How we had each other’s backs … we trusted each other?” Lucy waited until Alex nodded before continuing. “I know it’s my fault for the … rift between us now.”

Alex remained quiet. Where the hell is this coming from?

Lucy took a deep breath and exhaled. Well, I guess you’re not going to jump in and take at least part of the blame … okay, here goes.

“I … was wrong. Someone, who I believed was a credible source, told me about rumors regarding a female DEO agent giving Max Lord classified alien information,” Lucy saw red creeping into Alex’s face at the insinuation. She shook her head, “You never would have given Max classified information in exchange for talking to Supergirl. You wouldn’t risk the lives of your fellow agents – your life, yes. But not theirs.”

Alex eyed Lucy, “You should have known that then. We’d worked together long enough – I thought I could trust you. I thought you knew me well enough –”

“Alex, I’m sorry. I listened to someone I shouldn’t have. Someone who knows exactly what buttons to push. I –”

“Your father? General Lane?” Alex asked. It has to be him. The pieces of the puzzle are all coming together now. He’s the only person who’s motives she wouldn’t question outright.

“Yeah, my dad,” Lucy looked away briefly hoping Alex didn’t see the hurt and humiliation in her eyes. “I thought I was being clever … smart. I wanted to prove to him I had everything under control when all the while he was pulling my strings like I was his puppet. Obviously, he wanted you out of the way – maybe he thought you’d get too close to Max Lord and find out some ugly secret …”

“What secret, Lucy?” Alex asked as she saw the blood drain from Lucy’s face.

“My father had a part in all of this,” Lucy answered in a dazed voice as the realization struck her. Now it all makes sense, Dillard Sullivan – the guy who died in the truck, he was on my dad’s handpicked squad, and the professional sabotage of National City’s infrastructure … something army special ops are trained in. The weird phone calls from dad … fishing for information or leaving me a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. Leading me to go wherever he wanted me to. And I fell for it! “Oh, Alex, I am so sorry. Lois was right. I was the perfect mole because I was too blind to believe he’d ever use me like that.”

Alex stood dumbfounded, “You mean he and Max Lord were working together against Supergirl? No, hold on – that can’t be right. We didn’t find any evidence at Lord Tech linking him and Max. None of the employees who talked said anything about the army’s involvement, either.”

“No, but Jones did mention a large binder full of ‘disasters’ they were to send Supergirl on … everything was scheduled – with times and dates. It disappeared after the man in the truck, the guy who used to work for my dad, died,” Lucy said.

“Yeah, I remember him. I checked the video log. He was the one who refused your dad’s order to shoot me for trading Astra back to the Kryptonians in exchange for J’onn,” Alex gave a small shake of her head. “I guess that didn’t exactly put him in your father’s good graces.”

“I’m sorry my dad –”

“Don’t worry about it, Luce. Supergirl was there so I doubt the bullets would have hit me anyway. You aren’t responsible for the orders your dad gives,” Alex said then slightly frowned. “What I don’t understand is … you said the binder with the planned disasters disappeared after the first death but … there were a lot more catastrophes after that. So, maybe your dad wasn’t involved with Max’s plan.”

“During the interview with Jones, he said Max hired some guy named Smith to coordinate the fake accidents. It was Smith who provided the binder. After that, Max hired individual people to do the dirty work. So –”

“You believe your dad had ties to this ‘Smith’ fellow,” Alex completed Lucy’s sentence. She hesitated, unsure of what to say next. It was awkward to criticize someone else's parent.

“The more I think about it, the surer I am. He had to have his hand in this,” Lucy said.

“Yeah, well, there’s no evidence of it unless we find this ‘Smith’ fellow. Which, at the moment, isn’t too high on my list of priorities,” Alex didn’t want to be the person who found the damning evidence against Lucy’s father. I’ll let J’onn worry about that. “The more I think about it the more I doubt Max knew Smith worked for your dad. Max never liked working with the military. He didn’t want anyone else calling the shots.”

“That sounds exactly like the type of person my dad would be interested in working with. Someone who’s too self-important to believe anyone else could control them … someone like me,” Lucy briefly turned away from Alex, regained her composure, and met Alex’s eyes with tears in her own. “I am sorry, Alex. I cost you your freedom for months and I’m probably partially responsible for Max using that bomb to hurt Supergirl. I should have listened –”

“Lucy, stop. I accept your apology. As much as we’d both like to change some of the things we did … we have to move on. I can’t promise I’ll ever trust you the way I used to. I’m not Supergirl,” Alex’s smile grew deadly. “I can say that, if Max decided to toast Supergirl alive, forced her to stay in the sun covered in that damned plasma because I wouldn’t contact him … because I was stuck in a cell on bogus charges …”

Alex let the silence sit between them after she trailed off. She and Lucy both knew there would be no forgiveness. Ever.

“I … understand,” Lucy nodded her head. “If it’s any consolation, I don’t know how I’m going to forgive myself to whatever extent my jailing you had in Max’s decision to hurt Supergirl. I guess she’s next on my apology list.”

“Lucy? Don’t. Leave it here. She carries enough on her shoulders. Like I said, time to move forward,” Alex unfolded her arms. “You now know your blind spot so trust your friends. Ask advice. You don’t have to go it alone. El Myariah and all of that, right?”

Lucy smiled, “Yeah, stronger together. I need to remember that.”

“If that’s all, I’ve got a semi-high Supergirl to corral. Cat’s anxious to get back to National City. You still staying at the Franklin Park or did you go back to your apartment?”

“I’m back at my apartment,” Lucy answered. “The threat’s past. Like you said, time to move forward.”

“We done here?” Alex asked subtly acknowledging her support of Lucy’s leadership.

“Dismissed.” Lucy welcomed Alex’s gesture of reconciliation. She’s right. I need to start trusting … listening to my friends. I don’t have to go it alone. James told me the same thing when we were in Metropolis.

Alex nodded and started to turn to leave then stopped, “I know you will say you were just doing your job but … thank you for my sister. All the work you put in, not only at the trial, but the guardianship documents as well. You let her have a life. Thank you.”

Lucy met Alex’s eyes, “As you said, I was doing my job.”

Alex was halfway out the door when she looked over her shoulder at Lucy, “For the record, Luce? When you said you were worried I’d get too close to Max Lord and learn some big secret? There’s no way in hell that would have happened.”

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

J’onn was fuming inside. He didn’t want to cut out his second in command from critical decisions yet, regardless of what he told Lucy, he couldn’t blindly trust her again. General Lane managed to put a large wedge between me and my second in command. I’m sure he knew exactly what he was doing. Sow the seeds of distrust and watch everything crumble. Nice try, General, not going to happen on my watch. I’ve been alive a lot longer than you and faced more cunning foes. Now that Lucy is finished with the trial and back at the DEO full time we’re going to work on that trust issue. Both ways.

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

Vasquez watched the monitor as Supergirl worked on her painting.

“Good, isn’t she?” Winn remarked when he saw what his friend was looking at.

“Damn, no wonder she’s called Supergirl. Is there anything she can’t do? No, don’t answer that … I don’t want to know,” Susan joked as she looked over at Winn. “She really is good … and I’m looking at the painting over a monitor.”

“Yeah, kind of funny, though. You’d assume she’s good because she has super powers and sees differently than us but it’s not true. Her cousin, Superman, has a hard time drawing stick figures right. She really is a talented artist,” Winn said.

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

“You and Kara may have the entire floor,” Cat told Alex. “Major Lane has decided to move back to her apartment now that the trial is over. Carter and I will remain on the top floor.”

“Thank you, Cat,” Kara said, “and don’t worry, I won’t leave the floor without my glasses and cane.”

Cat nodded then turned to Alex, “Any further questions?”

“Uh, yeah. Whose clothes are those in the closet?” Alex didn’t think they looked like Lucy’s style.

“Yours. If you’re going to accompany Kara to my place of business I expect you to wear proper business attire and basic black on black with a gun on your hip is not appropriate,” Cat informed her.

“I beg to differ,” Alex countered causing Cat to raise an eyebrow. “Exactly what ‘job’ was I supposed to do at Catco?”

“I assumed you’d act as another assistant,” Cat answered. “Lord knows there was only one assistant I ever had who could keep up with me and it turns out she had to have super powers to do so.”

“No,” Alex said flatly.

“No?” Cat wasn’t used to having her ideas so quickly discarded.

“No. I’m not going as another assistant, a secretary, a reporter … any of those things. I’m going as your personal bodyguard,” Alex announced. “It makes sense, too. Most of your staff knows I’m Kara’s sister and, since everyone and their brother saw what happened in court, my face is already out there as a badass. You were impressed at my heroics and decided to hire me on the spot.”

Kara giggled, “She’s right, Cat. Alex is a hero! Our Hero!

Both Cat and Alex gave Kara a sideways look. The painting only blunted the enthusiastic energy Kara had – not totally eradicated it.

“I suppose you’re right. Okay. I’ve hired you as my personal bodyguard so you have a reason to be in my office or nearby at all times,” Cat agreed. “We leave for work tomorrow at eight o’clock. Oh, and Supergirl will have to make another announcement to explain her actions in court. Make sure she wears –”

“We’ll be ready,” Alex cut in. “Who do you want to write the speech? Me or Kara?”

“Oh, please. It’s important to put our spin on what everyone saw. I’ll handle the speech. You … try to keep her … focused,” Cat said as she entered the elevator taking her to the top floor of the Franklin Park.

“Isn’t this exciting?” Kara grabbed Alex’s arm and quickly let go when she saw her sister wince in pain. “Oh, my gosh, Alex, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay, Kara. Still a little sore. I’ll be fine,” Alex assured her then changed the subject. “I’m glad Cat said it was okay for you to go without your glasses when you’re here.”

“Yeah, me too. We’ve got months of sister nights to catch up on. Check the freezer – Cat knows what kind of ice cream I like. I’m sure she had it stocked,” Kara said as she put her darkened glasses on a table near the front door.

“My, aren’t we used to being pampered,” Alex chided her sister playfully, “and, for the record, I’ve never heard you say you didn’t like a flavor of ice cream.”

“I know!” Kara’s smile threatened to split her face. “Cat said the same thing. I bet there’s twenty different flavors of ice cream in there waiting for us.”

“Oh.” I guess I could get used to being pampered for a while.

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

Cat waited until Adam and Carter were settled in before she made her way into the room she deemed her study. She had a speech to write. She settled behind a desk and started to open her laptop when her eyes fell on Kara’s carefully wrapped painting leaning against the davenport. Alex insisted Cat unwrap the painting in private.

“You’ll understand once you do” was the only other thing Alex would say.

Curiosity and the Cat. Hmm. Okay, Alex, I guess I can take a look at it before I start writing.

Cat carefully removed the brown paper wrapping and stared in awe. The picture was of Carter and Adam seated poring over a book while Cat stood behind them, looking down with a slight smile on her face. Kara somehow managed to capture the relationship between Cat, Adam, and Carter brilliantly. It was … amazing. Encapsulated in the corner, where artists traditionally sign their work, was the symbol of the House of El. It was painted in muted colors and Cat realized she never would have noticed it if she hadn’t deliberately looked for Kara’s signature.

Now I know why Alex insisted I look at the painting in private. Kara probably would have been high for the next week if she saw me open it! This is … absolutely brilliant. The look of open curiosity on Carter’s face, the cocky half smile on Adam’s and … I know I’m a catch but there’s no way I look that good.

It took a full half hour before Cat finally forced herself to put the painting aside so she could focus on writing Supergirl’s speech.

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

How dare Jimmy Olsen say no to me! After all the trouble I went through to get him his little medal! That’s okay, Olsen. Have it your way. At least I won’t have to put up with your sanctimonious act … alien lover!

General Samuel Lane was not in a good mood. His staff members spent most of the day trying to find reasons to run errands and escape his wrath. As the day wore on, he started working on a new plan. He’d make the trip to National City for the award ceremony. If Olsen didn’t show up it was icing on the cake. The press was notified, they’d be there, see all the fanfare. They’d report the general was sincere in his appreciation. Then he’d fly back to Washington in his private transport. No one would notice the wooden crate loaded onto the plane while the ceremony was underway. A wooden crate containing a violent escaped felon. A man who would be most grateful for a chance at freedom.

Now, it’s time I take care of some unfinished business.

General Lane used his private, secure, phone to place his next call.

“Smith, sorry to hear about your men. Tell them not to talk. I’ll get a writ of habeas corpus for them and they’ll be out by the end of the week. Then they can disappear,” Lane promised. “Now, I’m flying into National City tomorrow under the guise of giving some loser a medal. The festivities will be done by no later than 2000 hours. I expect, when I leave town at 2100 hours, Maxwell Lord will be on my private transport. See to it personally.”

Chapter Text

“Kara, quit changing the channels,” Alex said making an attempt to grab the remote.

“Sorry, Alex. I feel … like I need to take in everything at once. Like this whole planet is new and bright and exciting. I feel restless and –”

“and you’re still a little … high,” Alex finished for her sister. “You’re squirming all over the place like you can’t sit still. I’m afraid you are going to start bouncing off the walls pretty soon. Settle down and concentrate on the show … or do you want to paint some more? That might help settle you down.”

“Yeah … no. Why do you keep saying that? Cat said it too. Why – how am I high? Was it the syrup on the pancakes at the DEO?” Kara asked. Why do I feel like this? Like I can’t concentrate on one thing. I’ve dreamed about spending a sister night with Alex … just us two sitting on a couch, watching television and talking. Now I can’t sit still and enjoy her company.

“I’m not really sure.”

Kara heard the lie in her sister’s voice. There’s no way we would have left the DEO if she didn’t know why I was … feeling like this. I’d be in her lab while she ran test after test until she had an answer. She’s right, though, I do need to settle down … focus … at least I don’t feel as though I need to fly around the world a few times to bleed off all the extra energy.

“Kara? You with me?” Alex asked after a few minutes.

“Yeah. I’m debating about what flavor ice cream to eat next,” Kara deflected Alex’s question. “You in?”

“Ah, no. One pint is my limit. Not all of us are blessed with a metabolism that requires over ten thousand calories a day,” Alex smiled.

“So, you are going to be Cat’s new bodyguard,” Kara said as she stood up. She really was going to get more ice cream. “That will be interesting … or a disaster. You’re gonna want to stay out of her way … kind of like the way the Secret Service does. If you start clinging all over her –”

“I promise not to cling to Cat and … we’ll work it out. Hell, could you see me trying to be her assistant? I can’t believe she thought for one minute I’d be her assistant,” Alex shook her head.

Kara nodded as she turned to go into the kitchen. Yep, this is going to go well…

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

James checked his watch as he left the rehab center. Damn, it’s already seven o’clock. I should really call Lucy. Let her know what her dad has planned for tomorrow. Actually, I wonder where the ceremony is supposed to take place? Lane never mentioned it. Only that a car would pick me up from my apartment at six o’clock. I’ll give her a call as soon as I get home. He said it was supposed to be a surprise for Lucy but, knowing the general, he’ll call her to attend then twist things around on her to make me the bad guy for not showing up. As if her life isn’t worth a medal. Yeah, I’d better set the record straight. I don’t want her hurt.

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

Alex woke to the television still on. The crick in her neck reminding her she needed to stop using the arm rest as a pillow. A host of empty pint ice cream cartons littered the low table in front of the couch she was on. She spied Kara, sitting by a window, obviously deep in thought. A quick glance at the clock near the television told her it was five thirty in the morning. Too early for Kara’s morning ‘Greeting of Sol’ as she termed the ritual.

“It wasn’t the syrup on the pancakes, was it?” Kara asked not bothering to look at Alex.

“No. It wasn’t,” Alex agreed.

“Cat too?”

“I’m sorry, Cat too what?” Alex heard the pain in Kara’s voice and knew her sister figured out Cat’s hold on her.

“Alex, not now.” Kara’s voice was full of anguish as she finally turned to face her sister. “You know what I mean. Cat can control me like Max can.”

“Kara –”

“The truth, Alex! Now! Cat can control me … can everyone control me? What exactly is going on? You need to tell me,” Kara’s voice broke. “I need to know who … what I can trust.”

“Oh, Kara,” Alex sprang up and wrapped her arms around her sister, hugging her tightly. “We … I thought it would be better, easier, if … you’ve been through so much … I wanted you –”

“Answer my question, Alex. Cat controls me, right?”

“Yeah, she does and … no. No one else can control you,” Alex admitted.

“How … how long have you known about this? Were you ever going to tell me the truth or were you going to keep laughing at my … inability to focus. Must have been quite entertaining. Bet everyone at the DEO is talking about Supergirl, the invincible alien, brought to her knees … made to act like a fool. Forced to do someone's bidding and made to like it,” Kara self-loathing evident in her voice as she extricated herself from Alex’s embrace.

“No! Kara, no. It isn’t like that. Not at all. Look, this only happened at the courthouse. Not before and no one knew anything about the stuff Max put in the food bars until then, either. Kara, look at me!” Alex cupped her sister’s face in her hands. “No one wants this except Max Lord. Cat’s afraid she’s going to say the wrong thing and unleash some terror on the world. Why do you think I’m here?”

“I thought … you made her let you stay with me. You didn’t?”

“No. I wasn’t kidding about Cat being terrified. She asked J’onn to assign me to you so she wouldn’t have to interact with you as much. And, believe it or not, she was afraid she might start abusing her power over you. All these years and I thought she liked abusing you,” Alex joked trying to lighten up the conversation. She didn’t want to make an emergency trip to Cat’s floor to get Kara back into a better mood.

“She didn’t abuse me … well, not that much …not really … too much,” Kara stammered.

Alex smiled and chucked Kara’s chin with her finger, “Yeah. I knew it.”

“Tell me, Alex. Everything. I want to know exactly what this drug can make me do. There’s –”

“Kara, you don’t need –”

“Alex. I deserve to know and if … if you were me you’d want to know too,” Kara insisted.

Alex’s shoulders slumped in defeat, “Hang on.”

Kara watched as Alex retrieved a flash drive from the pocket of her suit jacket and inserted it into a laptop.

“This is all the information we’ve been able to find out about the drug Max put in your food. Remember Dr. Hill? The guy who decided to –”

“Yeah, I remember. Not high on my all-time list of favorite scientists. What’s he got to do with it?”

“He was researching the food bars before he was transferred out. Like the xenophobic person he is, he completely neglected to take into account your Kryptonian physiology. I could eat those food bars Max gave you all day without any ill effects … aside from throwing up at the taste of them.” Alex shrugged her shoulders, “Yes, I was curious and I tasted one.”

“They were awful,” Kara wrinkled her nose.

“J’onn had Dr. Ruiz look over Hill’s stuff after he left. She discovered his research on the chemical make-up of the, and I use this term loosely, ‘food’ bar. She was the one who realized Max was slowly drugging you. I came to bring you back to the DEO as soon as I found out,” Alex rubbed Kara’s upper arm.

“But, how can Cat control me … I mean how does this drug work? Is there a cure or will it work itself out of my system after a while?”

“Obviously, Max didn’t invent a cure. The bastard didn’t ever plan on letting you free,” Alex’s lip curled with hatred. “And, it’s sort of like the red kryptonite he made but in reverse. It kind of inhibits your free will to … now let me quote Dr. Ruiz … to the base program.”

“The what? What base –”

“The base program was her way of saying the voice of the person you heard the first time the drug was introduced into your system. Fortunately, for everyone involved, you heard Cat talking to Carter over the monitor the first time you ate the bar. So … both Max and Cat’s voices were – are, your base programs.”

“I remember the first time I ate that food bar,” Kara nodded. “Max insisted I eat it in front of him. I thought he just wanted to laugh at my face when I tasted it. There was another guy with him … he didn’t say anything, though. You’re right. I remember hearing Cat telling Carter how much she loved him. You didn’t answer my question, Alex. Will the drug dissolve out of my system or –”

“No. It won’t. Like red kryptonite, there needs to be something introduced to make it inert. We just need to know what that something is.” Alex then added, “Mom will be flying in again this weekend. I’ve sent her an encrypted file regarding the chemical composition of the drug so she’s already been working on an antidote.”

“Is that what’s on the flash drive?” Kara asked waiting for Alex to activate the file.

“No … no chemistry here. Like I said, this is just a layman’s version of how the drug affects you. Winn put it together,” Alex said as she activated the file. And I’m going to kill him when I get back to the DEO!

Kara studied the cover page Winn put on the research with dismay. “Supergirl Owner’s Manual: A Guide to Controlling the Girl of Steel.” An animated GIF of Cat using a remote control while Supergirl flew in loops above her graced the area below the title.

“Well, that’s interesting,” Kara said as her face reddened.

“No, it’s not. It’s … stupid and dumb and … and it’s not even a good likeness of you or Cat,” Alex finished lamely. You are so dead, Winn!

“I suppose everyone at the DEO has seen this. Must be pretty funny –”

“No one at the DEO has seen this! Kara, really. Winn made this copy especially for me. I’ve seen Cat’s and the one he made for J’onn. Trust me, they don’t have anything like this. As a matter of fact, the title is totally different too. I think he meant it as a joke, a very bad joke, and I’ll have a talk with him about his sense of humor when I get back to the DEO,” Alex promised.

“Uh … is that talk going to involve a sparring session?”

“It might … or maybe some target practice at the range with him holding the target,” Alex said as she ran through various scenarios in her mind.

“Don’t hurt him too much, Alex. He didn’t think I’d see this,” Kara defended her friend as she started to flip through the pages. “Oh, wow, he used bullet points. I bet Cat loved that. She was always after the tech department to use them …”

Kara immersed herself in reading. Alex perched on the arm rest of the couch ready to answer any questions Kara might have. An hour later, with Kara still reading, she decided to take a shower and grab a light breakfast.

“Hey, Kara, you’d better get ready for work. Cat says we need to –”

“Yeah, I’m going.” Kara turned off the laptop and stood up facing her sister, “I guess I should see Cat, too. Before work, I mean. For my … my daily praise ‘fix’. This is so embarrassing. I have to ask her to praise me every day so I can function normally? The –”

“You don’t have to ask her, Kara. She knows. She’ll ask you to do something minor like –”

“Like close the lid on the laptop and then praise me and I’ll be so happy I pleased her I’ll get high,” Kara finished miserably.

“Not quite. Cat didn’t know how much praise to give you yesterday and gave you … an overdose? I guess that’s what you’d say. Anyway, she’s trying to do her best by you, Kara. She doesn’t like it any more than you do but there is no alternative unless you want to sit in a green cell at the DEO and slowly go mad.”

“Or let Max –”

“That is not even an option.”

“You didn’t even hear my –”

“Nothing that has the name Maxwell Lord involved is a viable plan. Period. Mom will figure out an antidote. All we have to do is sit tight until she does, okay? Now, go grab some breakfast and get ready for work.”

A half hour later Kara emerged dressed for work sans her dark glasses and white cane.

“Took you long enough,” Alex remarked. “I thought you were going to use all the hot water in the building. Did you get any sleep last night?”

“No. I’ll be – hey, you’re not wearing that to work. Are you?” Kara took in Alex’s black on black ensemble with a very noticeable gun on her hip. “Didn’t Cat tell you –”

“Yeah, she did. And this is the one time I can do whatever I want and not catch any flak from her. I’m going to enjoy it while I can,” Alex said with a self-satisfied smile. She started to cross her arms in front of her chest until she was reminded of the bite mark on her forearm. The thing still hurt like a son of a bitch. It didn’t look like it was infected when I took a shower. I’ll keep a close eye on it today. Glad Doc Hamilton gave me the vial of antibiotics.

Kara grabbed her darkened glasses and cane then felt for the door handle.

“You coming, Alex?” she called over her shoulder as she exited the room.

“Right behind you. Did you want to meet Cat at the car or –”

“NO … I, ah … I’d rather her do her … thing to me in private,” Kara ducked her head in embarrassment.

“I … understand. Did you want me to go with you?”

“Actually, Alex, I’d prefer to …would you mind if I did this alone? Please?” Kara’s voice wavered a little.

“I’ll wait by the elevator downstairs for you and Cat, okay?” Alex tried to keep her voice light.

“Thanks,” Kara said as the elevator door closed leaving her alone with her thoughts. The GIF of Cat controlling her like a robot fresh in her brain. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a longer elevator ride. Still, she was unprepared for the elevator door to open and deposit her within Cat’s purview. Come on, Kara. You can trust her. Alex is right, you know, she’s always tried to do right by you. It’s not her fault –

“Good morning, Kara,” Cat’s voice interrupted.

“Good morning, Cat,” Kara fought to keep her voice steady.

“Your sister sleep in today? I did say –”

“She’s waiting downstairs. By the car. I … I, um, I asked her to,” Kara stammered out. “Can we just do that thing, please. Get it over with.”

Cat took in Kara’s distinctly red face. For goodness sake, Agent Scully, you work at a top-secret organization but can’t keep a secret?

“Darn, the elevator door closed. I don’t want to be too late for the office. Call the elevator back to this floor, Kara,” Cat ordered and waited until Kara pressed the button before saying, “Good job, thank you.”

Cat watched as Kara almost preened at the comment. Her face remained flushed. This time with pleasure rather than embarrassment. A slight smile graced her lips.

“I wore my glasses and took my cane like you told me to, also,” Kara needlessly pointed out. “Is there anything else you want me to do for you, Cat? I can –”

“I believe I’m all set for the moment. Let’s get on the elevator. I don’t want to keep your sister waiting,” Cat said. Keep your words to a minimum. At least, since she’s wearing her glasses, you don’t have to worry about making her feel bad when you roll your eyes … and I bet, knowing Agent Scully, you’ll be doing a lot of that in the near future.

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

General Lane didn’t enjoy the plane ride to National City. He was sure Smith and his crew would be able to deliver Max Lord. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was … Lucy. He knew, without a doubt, their relationship was finished. Lucy was smart and, no thanks to Lois, no longer as naive to his motives. If it weren’t for her friendship of Supergirl, she’d still be his little girl … understand and believe in the real threat of the Kryptonian and her cousin …of all aliens. Supergirl had a lot to answer for, corrupting his daughter, the only person he truly loved after his wife died. Lois? Well, she never cared for him and his wishes. She was too head strong and her friendship with Superman didn’t help. The Kryptonians had taken too much from him and now … now he was poised to take it back. All he needed was some time with Maxwell Lord – convince the man to bring Supergirl to him and Cadmus. Then either Max Lord would consent to work for him, experimenting on Supergirl or, preferably, he would call Supergirl to him and into a trap. Once Supergirl was secure, the authorities would be notified and Maxwell Lord could rot his life away in prison. Supergirl would be studied, experimented on, dissected by Cadmus. Yes, Supergirl would pay for taking Lucy from him.

Chapter Text

Alex waited for Cat and Kara to make their way downstairs for the ride to work. The thought of what was transpiring between her sister and Cat made her uneasy. Might as well do a quick reconnaissance outside while I’m waiting. She strolled outside where Cat’s driver was waiting next to the parked car. Tony, eyeing the conspicuous gun on her hip, opened the limousine door for her. She nodded a greeting to him but didn’t walk over to the vehicle. It wouldn’t do for Cat’s personal bodyguard to enter the limo before her boss. She made a show of scanning the area then slipped on a pair of sunglasses, concealing her eyes, and checked the area in earnest. I hope Kara’s all right. I wish we had more time to talk this morning. She was so embarrassed when she found out about the praise thing and that I knew about it. Tonight, when we get back, we’re going to have a long talk. She shouldn’t – oh, here they come. Kara looks okay …

“Ms. Grant,” Tony greeted puzzled at the sour look Cat threw in Alex’s direction.

“Thank you, Tony. I see you’ve met my … recent hire,” Cat tilted her head slightly toward Alex. I thought she said she’d wait at the elevator. Kara was worried when she wasn’t there. She has to be more careful not to upset her sister – especially since Kara really can’t see with those glasses on.

“Yes, ma’am. Actually, we’ve met before when –”

“Good,” Cat cut him off as she entered the limousine.

Alex waited as Kara, slightly flushed and wearing a grin, entered after her guardian. Hidden behind the darkened lenses of her sunglasses, Alex rolled her eyes at the change in her sister. Yeah, we are going to have a real long talk when we get back to the apartment tonight. Making a show of scanning the area one more time, Alex gave Tony a curt nod and entered the back of the limo sitting across from Cat and Kara.

“Playing the part to the hilt, I see,” Cat’s tone was neutral as she made a show of inspecting Alex’s choice of wardrobe.

“Absolutely,” Alex already decided to nettle Cat. This is going to be fun! She won’t dare say –

“Good,” Cat said as she studied a message on her phone.

“Good?” Alex asked surprised when Cat didn’t raise even a token fuss about her ensemble.

“I’ve already contacted Neville. Your new wardrobe will be delivered later today,” Cat replied still studying her phone.

“My new wardrobe? Are you kidding –”

“No,” Cat almost smiled at the look of surprise on the agent’s face when she cut her off. Bet someone spent considerable time preparing to argue her ‘bodyguard’ case this morning. “I gave serious thought to your employment suggestion last night. I agree with you. As my bodyguard, no one will question why we leave and arrive in the same vehicle or why you aren’t working at a desk in the bullpen. Then, there is the minor detail of you actually having to do an actual job – more or less proficiently.”

Cat waited a beat as Alex’s face became indignant before adding, “Judging by the viral video of your performance the other day, I hardly think anyone would believe you are now working as my assistant or any other entry level position.”

“Oh, okay,” Alex was a little disappointed. She had rehearsed her argument as to why she needed to be a bodyguard. Cat had ruined it by agreeing with her. A thought struck her and she frowned, “How do you know what size I am?”

“Uh, hello,” Kara said from her corner of the seat she was sharing with Cat. “Cat asked me yesterday. While we were at the DEO. That’s why the other clothes were already in the closet last night.”

“But you –”

“I’ve sent the text of Supergirl’s speech to your phone, Alex,” Cat interrupted. “The press conference is set for ten-thirty this morning. Make sure your sister is ready.”

Alex nodded. Point taken, Cat. The less friction between us the better. Especially in front of Kara. She glanced over at her sister to see if she had any reaction to Cat’s statement and was struck at how Cat was afforded the majority of the back seat. Kara sat with her larger frame tucked into the corner.

“You okay, Kara? Looks like you’re a little squished in the corner. There’s plenty of room for you to sit more relax-”

“I’m fine. Perfectly fine. I’ve got all the space I need. I’m fine.” Kara reached up to adjust her glasses, careful to keep her arm within the space of her body, as she laughed nervously.

“I know you can’t see, Kara, but there’s plenty of space between you and Cat. You can make yourself more comfortable,” Alex tilted her head. At least she’s not as high as she was yesterday. She can’t be comfortable sitting all jammed up in the corner like that. Hell, I could sit between her and Cat and there’d still be enough room for another person. Why is she sitting like that? “Why don’t you relax?”

Kara again laughed nervously, “I’m relaxed.”

Cat glanced up from her phone and studied Kara’s position frowning as she realized what Alex was talking about. She thought back to her interactions with Kara since ‘claiming’ her. Okay, this wasn’t in the manual but I bet I’m right. Time for a little experiment.

Cat moved closer to Kara and noticed how the younger woman, still effectively blinded by her lead coated dark glasses, sensed the intrusion and shrank back further into the corner. Alex shot Cat a look. Cat shook her head and sat back where she originally was seated. Kara remained in place.

“You aren’t supposed to touch her, are you? Unless she initiates contact. Am I right Kara? And … and you’re staying where you are because Cat claimed more of the backseat from you, right?” Alex carefully kept the fury out of her voice. She knew this wasn’t Cat’s fault but she didn’t like the idea of Kara feeling … as though she owed Cat some kind of deference.

“I … it’s not … you don’t …” Kara stammered unable acknowledge what she felt was instinctively true. Alex is right. I know all about the mind control thing. I shouldn’t let the drug control me like this. Cat wouldn’t ask me to act like this … right?

Both Cat and Alex watched as Kara very slowly allowed her body another inch of space. The fact that she stopped short of the area she previously occupied wasn’t lost on either woman.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” Alex prodded Cat.

Cat shook her head, “Not until I talk things over with Dr. Ruiz. This wasn’t mentioned at all in the … material I was given to read. Maybe you should investigate further.”

“Kara, you know this is only the drug controlling you, right?”

“Yeah. I know. But, right now, this is the best I can do. Okay?” Kara sounded almost pained. Leave me alone, Alex. You don’t understand how … wrong it feels to invade Cat’s space.

“Sure. Okay. Is it okay if Cat touches you?”

Alex registered Kara’s eye roll even though it was hidden behind the lead-lined glasses.

“Of course, it is,” Alex answered her own question. “Sorry – stupid question. You just aren’t supposed to touch her. Did Max tell you that? I mean, that you weren’t allowed to touch him? Was that … one of the rules?”

Kara didn’t even have to think before answering, “Yes.”

“Right. That’s why it wasn’t in the Supergirl Manual Winn put together. Max was conditioning you the entire time you were with him even though he hadn’t … um … claimed you. When we get to Catco we’ll make a list of all the rules. Okay?”

“After the speech,” Cat eyed Alex.

“After the speech,” Alex agreed.

“Sure,” Kara agreed happy Alex was going to stop badgering her the rest of the trip to Catco. Until, several minutes later, when she heard Alex mutter, “I can’t believe it.”

“What, Alex?”

Alex ignored Kara’s question and angrily addressed Cat, “You’re dragging him here to National City, when he’s working on a way to find a cure for her? What the hell, Cat?”

“It was the only way I could think of to keep Supergirl out of the public eye while she gets ‘cured.’ Also, it –”

“No! He needs to-”

“He will be here for a couple of hours at the most. Then he can fly back to wherever his secret hiding place is and continue his research,” Cat defended.

“And you didn’t mention this last night because you knew I’d kick your ass for making him take time to – Ow! Kara! Let go!” Alex tried unsuccessfully to remove her upper arm from Kara’s painfully tight grip.

“You aren’t going to harm her, Alex,” Kara said, her voice pleasant but firm.

“No, no – that was a figure of speech. I’m not going to touch a single hair on her head. Okay? Let go!”

“Let her go, Kara,” Cat ordered and Alex felt almost physically sick as Kara immediately released her and folded back into her little corner of the seat. Dammit! Cat sounds like she’s talking to a dog. At least she has the decency to look uncomfortable about it. Mom or Clark better figure out some kind of cure before Cat doesn’t feel uncomfortable having Kara at her beck and call.

No one spoke the rest of the trip.

/

“Good Morning, Ms. Grant. Nice to have you back,” Winn’s replacement, Dorey Washington greeted as the doors to Cat’s personal elevator opened. Her smile faltered and slid from her face when Alex Danvers, in full ‘kick ass bodyguard’ mode exited the elevator ahead of Cat.

Alex smirked to herself as employees who were gathered around the elevator to greet their boss quickly scurried away. She gave the room a quick scan before turning and nodding to the occupants waiting on the elevator. Cat strode out holding out her hand for her morning latte as she briskly followed Alex the short distance to her office. Kara, using her cane, followed at a slower pace.

“The board meeting was rescheduled from this morning to one this afternoon per your instructions and the press room is set up for Supergirl’s speech. Aside from that … it is nice to see you again, Ms. Grant, Kara, and …,” Josh’s voice trailed off waiting for someone to introduce him to Alex.

“Alex. She’s my sister, Josh, and she will be working here as –”

“Alex Danvers,” Alex interrupted Kara and came forward and briefly shook Josh’s hand. “I’m Ms. Grant’s –”

“Bodyguard, right? I saw you on the news … capture Maxwell Lord. That was epic! Could I get your autograph and maybe a selfie –”

“No,” Alex cut him off. Her glare sent him back several steps.

“Uh … okay. Sorry. I’ll just … go back to my desk,” Josh motioned clearly unwilling to remain the focus of Alex’s attention anymore. “That is, if … um … you don’t need me for anything else, Ms. Grant.”

“Go,” was Cat’s annoyed response. She’d contact HR later to schedule interviews for a new assistant. After Josh left the office she addressed Alex, “I’ve got work to do and Supergirl has a speech to prepare. I suggest –”

“On it,” Alex acknowledged. “What time do you need Supergirl?”

“She should make her appearance sometime around ten. A balcony entrance will be fine,” Cat advised as her attention was drawn to one of many memos waiting for her.

Alex made a show of glancing out at the bullpen before she crossed over to Kara’s office. She stopped short of entering the smaller office and thought for a moment before turning to Cat, “May I make a suggestion?”

Cat barely looked up from her reading and motioned with her hand to continue.

“If it looks like this problem is going to be long term, you may want to consider a one-way window for Kara’s office. I’ll be able to sit in there with her instead of –”

“Instead of bugging the hell out of me by standing around while I work,” Cat finished for her. “Consider it done. I’ll have something suitable installed by the end of the day.”

“Yes … uh … thank you,” Alex nodded once before entering Kara’s office. Hopefully this isn’t a long-term problem. Mom should arrive in National City tomorrow and J’onn promised to assign Dr. Ruiz to help her. Maybe Superman will find something useful in the Fortress of Solitude. There’s no way Maxwell Lord will help – scratch that – no way I’d trust him to help. As long as Supergirl’s under his power he’ll scheme to find a way of taking her back from Cat. I should really call the police … make sure they keep me apprised of wherever he is. All I really need to do is keep Kara away from him and everything should work out fine.

“Hey, Alex, guess you have everyone on their toes in the bullpen,” Kara offered with a smile. “I thought a couple of people were going to have a heart attack or something because their hearts were beating so fast. My sister the badass.”

“Uh, yeah? I thought it was more Ms. Grant back in the office again. “A few people totally ignored me but looked … concerned when she walked out of the elevator,” Alex observed.

“Probably because she isn’t afraid to call people on the carpet for not doing their job,” Kara shrugged. “She hasn’t been in the office for a few months because of the trial and threats. I’m sure some people are a little concerned she will notice their lack of productivity while she was gone.”

“If you say so,” Alex wasn’t as sure. They saw the same footage as everyone else … how Cat Grant was able to stop Supergirl in court. I bet her employees are wondering if there is anything Cat can’t do. “Let’s get down to business and work on this speech Cat wrote.”

/

“Hey, Lucy,” James answered the phone as he pored over a layout. He and Lucy spent several hours on the phone last night as James filled her in on General Lane’s insistence on awarding him a medal. Lucy, in turn, told him of her recent falling out with her dad. I wonder why she’s calling now? “Everything all right?”

“My dad called Director Henshaw this morning. I’ve been ordered to attend your award ceremony this evening,” Lucy’s voice sounded strained.

“Did you explain to him that I won’t be there?” James frowned. He couldn’t see Hank ordering Lucy to go knowing James wasn’t going to attend.

“My dad, the general, ordered me to attend. In full dress uniform. He has a whole circus planned, national media, the mayor, other politicians …,” Lucy trailed off.

“And I told him I wasn’t going,” James finished for her. He thought for a minute, “Is this his way of pressuring me into attending?”

“No. I don’t think so. This is his way of teaching me a lesson.”

“Lesson?”

“Yeah. A lesson in what happens when I choose aliens over humans.” Lucy paused for a moment then explained, “He’s mad because I, his daughter, helped prosecute Maxwell Lord. You know, the anti-alien movement’s poster child. He feels I deliberately humiliated him in front of his associates. Now he is going to humiliate me on a national stage.”

“What? How?” James cut in.

“You know my dad,” Lucy said. “He’ll pepper his speech with backhanded compliments aimed at me. I’m sure some of them will be snappy enough to make the national news. I’ve … I’ve seen him do it to other people … even Lois but … I never thought I’d be in his cross hairs.”

“Yeah, it isn’t fun,” James agreed. He wished he could assure Lucy she was wrong. Unfortunately, he knew what the man was capable of doing too well. General Lane was not the type of person who forgave people he believed opposed him. He punished them. Lucy defending an alien over a human in court then telling him she made sure he couldn’t send Supergirl to Cadmus? It wasn’t going to be pretty. He made up his mind, “Listen, Luce, I know I said I wasn’t attending the ceremony but I changed my mind –”

“That’s not the reason I called you, James. I –”

“I know. That’s not something you’d do. But, I am not going to let you sit on that stage all alone. Period. As a matter of fact, I’m going to contact Ron’s wife. I’d like for her and her family to attend too. They deserve to see him honored and, if I’m given the chance to speak, I’ll do just that,” James stated. “We’ll turn this award ceremony into something positive. Okay?”

“Thanks, James,” Lucy said then offered, “I can call Ron’s wife and ask her to bring her family. Then you won’t have to attend. Their presence alone might be enough to throw a monkey wrench into my dad’s plans. You –”

“I’ll be there too, Luce,” James affirmed. “Actually … I think I’ll invite them as my guests. At least Ron’s wife can sit on the stage with me then. Ron’s bravery will be recognized and I doubt your dad will say too much in front of the media with her sitting there.”

/

Smith looked over the hospital blueprints one more time before finalizing his plans. People were going to get hurt … killed. Why don’t the police move Maxwell Lord back to jail? My sources say the doctor medically cleared him. It would be so much easier … cleaner, to take out the cops transporting him back to jail. Damn you, Max Lord, you’ve proven to be nothing but a pain in the ass since I met you.

/

“Thanks for everything, Kal,” Kara said as she hugged her cousin. The speech went off without a hitch and was now playing on news outlets across the nation. The end of the speech, where Supergirl calmly surrendered her freedom to Superman until she was free of Max’s mind control, went viral immediately. Leave it to Cat Grant to understand exactly what the nervous public needed to see.

“You know I’ll always be here for you, Kara,” Superman hugged her tight, the desert wind slightly rustling both of their capes.

“Listen, I need you to promise me something … if Maxwell Lord somehow manages to gain control of my mind … you’ll do whatever it takes to stop me. I mean it, Kal. Don’t hesitate because I’m sure his first directive to me will be to kill you. I won’t be able to resist! I will kill you.”

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem. Max is in police custody for good – like Lex is.” Superman paused as he studied her face. He saw and understood the fear in her eyes, “I promise, Kara. I won’t let him use you to hurt others.”

She held his gaze for a moment then nodded, “Thanks.”

“And there’s your ride now,” Superman said as a black SUV quickly approached.

The two Kryptonians stood silently as Alex brought the vehicle to a halt. The driver’s window opened as the dust settled.

“Anyone call for a cab?” Alex poked her head out the window. “Hey Clark! You did a great job.”

“Thanks, Alex,” Superman smiled warmly. “You did, too. Lois said that, as impressive as your take down of Max was on television, it was even more remarkable in person. I think she’d give her right arm for a one on one interview with you.”

Alex ducked her head, “Tell her I’m sorry but no interviews from me – J’onn would kill me.”

“She understands. If you do decide to grant an interview –”

“Catco gets the exclusive,” Kara interrupted. Noticing the surprised look on Alex’s face she added, “You work for her right now … I mean, everyone believes you work for her. They’d expect her to fire you on the spot if you gave an exclusive to The Daily Planet or anyone other than a Catco media platform.”

“Point taken,” Superman agreed as he reached into the vehicle to give Alex a brief hug. “You did good, Alex. The Danvers family has more than one superhero.”

“Just another day in the life of a DEO agent,” Alex smiled then changed the subject. “Give Lois my regrets about the interview. Her coverage of everything, though, was remarkable. She certainly doesn’t need my help to win her next Pulitzer.”

He stepped back from the SUV and smiled, obviously proud of his girlfriend, “She is terrific.”

Kara gave Clark another quick hug then watched as her cousin gracefully took off toward Metropolis.

“Come on, you,” Alex chided her sister. “Time to get back to work.”

“Yeah, about that,” Kara said after she used her super speed to change out of her Supergirl uniform. “Can you maybe … speed it up a bit. I … I think I need to see Cat.”

Alex caught the unease in Kara’s voice, “Oh. Got it. Put on your glasses.”

Kara shook her head, “It’s not that bad, yet. I … I can feel it starting, though.”

“Call Cat,” Alex ordered.

“That won’t do any good, Alex. Remember? I need to be –”

“Call her, Kara. Have her meet us –”

“No. She needs to stay at Catco where she is safe. I’ll be all right,” Kara insisted. “It’s different now that I know what’s going on. I can tell when this, um, compulsion starts. It – Alex! Slow down! I said speed it up a little.”

Alex took her foot off the gas pedal and let the vehicle slow to one hundred and ten miles per hour. They were getting close to National City anyway. She’d have to keep an eye out for the cops pretty soon. Yeah, it’d be my luck to get stopped by that female cop and her partner. After what I did to her patrol car at our last encounter? I can pretty much bet she’d be smiling as she put the handcuffs on me and dragged me off to jail for reckless driving.

/

“Thank you, Kara,” Cat said as she accepted the glass full of M & M’s from a now slightly flustered Kara Danvers. Cat noticed the immediate change in her ward’s demeanor and decided not to add ‘good job’. We’ll see how long this … fix … lasts. “Chop, chop. Back to work. Your boss probably has your queue filled by now.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant,” Kara acknowledged and retreated back into her office. Wow. I know this is all drug induced and not normal but … it feels so good. I want more. I always want to feel like this. Forever. I should tell Alex not to have anyone look for a cure.

“Kara? You okay? I asked you what you wanted me to order for lunch,” Alex’s voice sounded concerned.

“Uh, whatever you want is fine. Don’t order anything for me.” Kara didn’t want to be bothered thinking about anything else but how to please Cat. Eating lunch wasn’t working and Cat specifically told her to get back to work. That would make Cat happy. Food wasn’t important.

“Kara?”

“I’ve got to get back to work, Alex. Mr. Mazur probably has my queue filled by now,” Kara explained. Leave me alone, Alex! I have work to do! “I’ll eat later, okay?”

“Yeah … sure. I’ll order lunch for the both of us in case you change your mind.”

Kara, already immersed in her work, didn’t respond.

/

Lillian Luthor was intrigued. Sam Lane was flying into National City and requested a private meeting. How coincidental, general. I wished to see you as well. I believe I may have solved our Supergirl problem. Lillian looked at the image of Cat Grant calmly standing between Supergirl and her intended victim. As a mother, I would give anything to have my dear boy, Lex, back. I wonder, Cat Grant, if you’d be willing to make a trade … say … Supergirl for that precious little boy of yours…

Chapter Text

“General Lane, nice to see you again,” Lillian Luthor smiled as she extended her hand not surprised he had asked for her to board his plane. She assumed he wanted to talk about a delicate situation without the possibility of anyone overhearing. The general’s aides were notably absent.

“Dr. Luthor,” the general briefly clasped her hand and nodded in greeting. “I appreciate you were able to meet me at such short notice.”

“Your aide said you were flying in for only a day. Something major on the agenda?” Lillian was nothing if not astute. Samuel Lane flying to National City less than forty-eight hours after a very curious incident involving Supergirl was more than coincidental.

“I hear you’ve made great strides in a Kryptonian proof metal,” General Lane deflected.

“I can’t take the credit, general. My son, Lex, actually discovered the properties of the metal found in a meteorite. He called it nth metal and devised a method to forge it,” Lillian explained. Curious he didn’t answer my question directly. “Cadmus has several … cages, if you will, made out of the material in the event any Kryptonians from Fort Rozz were captured. We expected at least one of them was …expendable for … research purposes.”

“It was a shame the DEO let one of them, a General Astra, slip through their fingers. However, we might have a suitable replacement,” General Lane paused, “I take it you saw the fiasco at Maxwell Lord’s trial the other day.”

Lillian nodded, “General, I believe you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t seen it. I take it Supergirl is under your jurisdiction now and you need a way of securing her.”

“Unfortunately, that isn’t the case,” the general looked dour. “Army intelligence can’t legally touch her right now. Since Maxwell Lord’s arrest, she’s been given special status through the court. It’s unbreakable. Then there’s the –”

“Unbreakable?” Lillian raised an eyebrow.

“Yes … my daughter, Lucy. She, um, wrote up the guardianship agreement. Made sure there weren’t any loopholes. There’s no way –”

“You’re daughter?”

“I’m not pleased about it,” General Lane said gruffly. “She made sure there was no way the Army could gain legal control over Supergirl. Lucy is an excellent attorney. Top-notch. Was following in my footsteps. Had a great military career ahead of her. Smart as a whip! Then, everything changed. She moved to National City and, unfortunately, became friends with Supergirl.”

Lillian watched as Lane’s lips tightened. I wonder what he’s holding back? It’s obvious –

“Supergirl turned her against me,” the general’s eyes flashed in anger. The pain in his voice was evident. “My own daughter!”

“General, if it is any consolation, my daughter, Lena, has also … split with the family over a Kryptonian,” Lillian commiserated. While she didn’t feel the same emotional pain the general obviously did over ‘losing’ his daughter, Lena’s betrayal galled her just the same. “After Lex’s arrest, when she took over Luthor Corp, she made sure to erase everything Lex did saying it was evil and wrong. She sided with Superman over her own brother. I believe her treachery was the final act that pushed him into insanity.”

“It seems we both have personal reasons to seek retribution,” Sam Lane observed.

“Yes, it seems so,” Lillian agreed.

The general nodded, “I’ve found, over the course of my career, there are very few times when my professional obligations and personal desires coincide, Dr. Luthor. This is one such time. I’m hoping we are going to have an occupant for one of your nth metal cages in the very near future.”

Lillian raised an eyebrow but remained silent.

“I’m working on a way of gaining control of Supergirl long enough to get her into the cage. Hopefully, if things go as planned, I will need your cage tonight,” the general finished. He didn’t want to go into specifics in case something went wrong with the jailbreak. Plausible deniability was a wonderful thing … for both of them.

“I see,” Lillian tilted her head. Your one-dimensional thinking is so apparent, Sam. I suppose you are going to have your crack team of rogue operatives break Max Lord out of jail and have him bring Supergirl to him. “You know what I find most curious, general? Cat Grant was able to control Supergirl in that courtroom. If it weren’t for her heroics, I do believe Supergirl would have killed that police officer as Maxwell Lord requested.”

Sam Lane frowned as he realized the implications of what Dr. Luthor said.

Lillian continued, “I realize Mr. Lord is able to aid us in … confining Supergirl. But have you considered he may not want to turn her over to us once he has her under his control again? I’m not entirely confident he’d do so.”

“And you propose?”

“I think a different approach is warranted, General Lane,” Lillian smiled. “Whereas you don’t really have anything to offer Mr. Lord except his freedom – a commodity he will have once he controls Supergirl, Cat Grant does have a weak point. A dear little boy. The same child Maxwell Lord used to trap Supergirl … if the trial testimony is correct. I’m sure Ms. Grant could be persuaded to turn Supergirl over to us in exchange for his safety.”

“If she won’t?”

“General. You’re a parent,” Lillian admonished. “Cat Grant will not let anything happen to her little boy. She’ll turn over Supergirl especially when she is assured Supergirl will only be confined to keep her away from Maxwell Lord - for the safety of the public.”

“There is some merit to what you say,” Lane agreed. “Certainly easier and less … risky.”

“Exactly.” Lillian was relieved the general understood her concern. She never liked or trusted Maxwell Lord. The man fancied himself a genius on the same level as Lex - believed he was smarter than her son because he found a way to control a Kryptonian. He could rot in prison.

“We would have to make it look as though the boy was kidnapped by someone demanding money. Just run of the mill villains looking for a payday. At least that is how it will play out in the press. Only Grant needs to know the real price is Supergirl,” General Lane planned.

“Better yet, general, Grant doesn’t need to know at all. Insist the money must be delivered by Supergirl. Once the money is delivered we release the boy safe and sound. No one ever hears from Supergirl again,” Lillian finished.

“I have to make a call,” General Lane said abruptly after weighing his options. Dr. Luthor’s idea has the added benefit of making sure I’m not linked to Supergirl’s disappearance. She’d be turned over to Cadmus for ‘study’. Lucy won’t be able to accuse me of anything. As a