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the two-body problem

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“Kara, down!”

Alex slams into her, and Kara’s not thinking straight, not expecting a fight when she’s out as normal, so she rolls with the impact, dropping to the ground.

There’s a bright flash of light.

The man with the device, the one who’s threatening everyone, gasps and the weapon falls from his hands. Not that it matters much, since James tackles him to the ground. There’s a crunch and a sharp yelp. Maggie’s dashing over to help, allowing Kara to make sure Alex is okay.

Kara nearly feels her heart stop when she spots the pile of clothes, clothes Alex was wearing, piled up three feet away.

Her sister is nowhere to be seen.

“ALEX!”

Oh please no, not Alex. Not for something this stupid. Kara crawls over to the pile. Her heart leaps to her throat when the clothing shifts a little. And then a head pops out. A furry little head, with whiskers and tiny ears and sharp little teeth. Belonging to… an otter?

Kara blinks.

The otter looks down, and then erupts in furious...squeaks.

“...Alex?”

Okay. Maybe back up a bit.

The night did not start out this way. No, in fact, it had started out great. She and James had decided to go grab milkshakes and burgers, because Snapper’s been on her case and James is an excellent friend and knows when Kara needs to drown her sorrows in ice cream. What she didn’t expect was to spot Alex halfway down the street, just kinda hanging there. Kara was about to yell when that NCPD detective, Sawyer?, strolled up.

And then the most amazing thing happened.

Alex got this absolutely stupid look on her face and if Kara can tell she’s trying to play it cool and failing, this is… there are no words. Because it looks like Alex has a date, which she did not inform Kara of, and this is kind of amazing and awesome, and oh man, Alex is going to screw this up if it’s left in her own hands. It’s a bad rom-com waiting to happen.

Kara dragged James into a nearby store. “What?” he asked

“I just saw Alex down the road! I think she’s meeting someone!”

James poked his head out the window. “Isn’t that Maggie Sawyer, from NCPD? Is there trouble?”

“No! I mean, I don’t think so. I think it’s a date. I mean, maybe. Alex is downright sappy over there.”

He looked dubious. “Sappy? Alex? As in your sister, Alex? Are we talking about the same person?”

Kara huffed. “Just look!”

James stuck his head out again. “...really?”

“Just trust me, okay, she’s totally goo.” Okay, so now what to do? That is not a face she’s really ever seen Alex make, and since Kara is the best little sister and an actual superhero, it’s clearly her duty to save her sister from herself. And what better way than by saying hi?

“Kara, I don’t think this is a good idea,” said James.

“Oh come on, what’s the worst that could happen?”

“Oooh boy...”

Kara grabbed him by the hand and dragged him back outside. “Hey! Alex!”

Even from halfway down the street, Kara saw Alex blinking in confusion. “Kara? What - what are you doing here? James?”

“Uh, hi Alex,” James said while rubbing the back of his neck. “Coincidence meeting you out here.”

Maggie Sawyer raised an eyebrow. “So how do you know the head of CatCo Media, Danvers?”

Alex stared at the sky and sighed. “That would be because of my sister, who is now a reporter at CatCo.” Despite her theatrics, Alex’s voice was warm. “Maggie, meet Kara. Kara, this is Maggie. We’ve, um, been working together.”

Kara beamed. Maggie gave her a smile as she shook her hand. “Nice. And before you ask, I’m off the clock and totally not answering any questions except ‘what do you want to drink?’”

Just for that, Kara gave her a fake pout, which earned her a shove from Alex.

That’s when things started going wrong.

She did not expect it at all, although maybe she should have, when a skinny man in weird armor and a bulky helmet stepped out across the plaza and started threatening everyone with a weapon she’d never seen before. Said he was going to start shooting if people didn’t kick their wallets over right then.

And Kara wasn’t in her costume. She couldn’t just zoom over there and take care of this that way, and there were way too many people around, and she just froze for just half a second too long. Because the guy zeroed in on her, and Alex didn’t even hesitate.

And...well, okay, James might have been right.

Back in the present, there really isn’t anything else to do but take everyone to the DEO, because Kara has no idea where to start on fixing this. Maggie takes three steps into the building, then turns to Kara. “Oh! Wait, you’re… oh god, that’s why.”

Kara’s jaw drops. Did she just figure out who she was? “Wait, what— “

“Can someone please explain why there is a river rat in the — Alex?!” J’onn stops short and just… stares at the otter who is currently squirming in Kara’s arms. He looks stunned for a second, then frowns. “Alex, please tone down the vocabulary.”

Well, at least J’onn’s mind reading still works.

Alex freezes.

“Okay, let’s try again. Why is my agent currently a small aquatic mammal?”

“That,” says Maggie as she grabs the prisoner from a helpful DEO agent, “is an excellent question, and he is going to helpfully tell us.” Maggie’s smile is very, very toothy.

The prisoner cringes. “I don’t know!” he whines. “I… I just found it and I needed the money to pay rent and I didn’t want to cause any trouble”

“You dressed up like a villain in National City, the city where Supergirl lives, and threatened a plaza full of people on a Friday night,” Maggie deadpans. “What part of that is ‘not causing trouble’?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time?” he tries. She shakes him. He cringes more. “Eep.”

J’onn pinches the bridge of his nose. “Can you reverse it?”

“Um...”

J’onn levels a very expectant look at the prisoner. Kara fights the urge to start babbling.

The guy caves. “I don’t know how it works, I just found it!” He looks back at Maggie and hunches inward. “Please don’t hurt me.”

Alex chooses this moment to start squeaking furiously. J’onn sighs. “Okay, where is this device?”

James winces. “Yeah, about that. It was...well, take a look,” he holds up an evidence bag full of very smashed, very alien looking electronics. “It broke his fall when I tackled him. Emphasis on broke.”

Everyone looks at the broken device. Then everyone looks at Alex.

This is going to be a problem.

“Hey Winn, I’m sorry, I’m going to need a huge favor.”

“Kara? Wait, what happened? I can be back at — DUDE COVER ME— sorry, Overwatch. What is it?”

“Can you pick up a big-ish dog bed, water and food dishes… oh! And one of those squashy ball toys.”

“... What.”

“Yeah, I swear I’ll pay you back, I just need those at my apartment real soon? ... aaaand a litter box. Thank you, Winn, see you soon!”

“Kara… Kara did you spontaneously adopt a dog? Kara? Guys, your head is not cover. Oh man, I knew it was going to be one of those days...”

—-

“Well, the tests all say that Agent Danvers here is a perfectly healthy juvenile North American river otter,” the DEO scientist said. “I have no idea.”

Alex trills, but before she can make any sudden movements, J’onn’s hand comes down on her back. “No.”

“So what can we do?” Kara asks, because really this is very distressing, no matter that the sound Alex just made was criminally adorable and— Right. Distressing.

The scientist shrugs helplessly. “I went to vet school. This is so not my area of expertise.” She glances down at the table. “And the person who is the expert currently has no opposable thumbs.”

Alex squeaks.

“Yeah, I don’t even need a translator for that one, sir.”

“Alex,” Kara most definitely does not whine, “we talked about this. You know you can’t stay here at the DEO. What if something goes wrong? Or someone escapes or attacks? Or locks you in your locker as a prank?”

Apparently, Wikipedia failed to mention that otters can give very unimpressed looks.

Kara rolls her eyes. “You’re coming home with me. Come on, I’ll give you full control of Netflix.”

Alex shakes her head furiously.

“What, you’re going to go to your apartment? Alex, you’re an otter. How are you going to work, like, anything there?”

“I don’t think your sister wants to get into the dog crate,” James says slowly.

Oh. Okay, it’s not like she can really blame Alex. That’s got to be humiliating and, well, it’s a cage. Who the hell would want to be put into a literal cage? But the best and quickest way to actually get Alex home is flying, and Kara’s terrified of dropping or crushing her now that she’s small and furry and wriggly. Hence the crate. Except Alex is being stubborn and won’t get in, so Kara’s currently kneeling on the ground trying to make eye contact with her now-very-small big sister to convince her to get in. James is at least trying to be helpful, unlike Maggie, who had to wander off five minutes ago because she was laughing too hard.

“Alex,” Kara absolutely does not whine.

The response is a long series of squeaks, and Kara is sure if Alex could cross her arms, she would be.

“I think I might have an alternative,” J’onn says as he comes back into the lab, carrying a cloth bundle. “Davidson’s son just outgrew it, and he had it in his car. He’s willing to donate it.” The bundle turns out to be one of those infant carriers that strap to the chest.

“Wait, what.”

“Well, if Alex doesn’t want the crate, then you need some way of getting home.” J’onn sounds way too reasonable for this. But he has a point and they’ve been here for hours and Kara just kinda wants to go home. Maybe this is all just a really weird dream.

She grabs the carrier. “Well?”

“Okay, so how does this strap work again?”

“Hold up, let me wrap it around your back there, Kara, just...hold still Alex.”

There is the sound of muffled squeaking.

“Oh right, your tail.”

If she’s honest with herself, it’s probably the most stressful flight ever, even with the sling. By the time Kara lands on her windowsill, Alex is practically burrowed into her chest and oh my god she needs to stop herself from high-pitched squeeing because this is way too cute.

A knock on the door breaks that train of thought. It can’t be James and Maggie, because they were driving back and going to meet up here, but a quick check says it’s Winn. Who is lounging with his back against the wall and a fairly impressive number of bags.

“Okay Kara, I ran to the only pet store still open, and I got you the red bowl and blue bed because you have a color-scheme going and oh my god what is that on your chest?” Winn starts off as soon as she manages to open the door, eyes going wide. “That...that is not a dog or a cat. Kara, what did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything!” she protests. “It’s, um, complicated?”

Winn gives her a skeptical look as he steps through the door. “You were hanging out with James. That is an otter. How does an otter come into all of this?” He pauses for a moment, head tilted. “...an otter who is...yelling ‘help’ over and over...Kara, why is this thing squeaking in Morse code?”

“Wait, you can understand her?” Alex stops wiggling for a second, and then her tail starts thrashing madly, whacking Kara in the side over and over. “Alex, will you chill?”

He blinks. “That is definitely Morse code. Wait, did your sister get turned into an otter? How did that happen?”

“How did you even figure that out that fast?”

“Kara...look at our lives. Our lives? This is our normal.” He pauses. “ ...do we ever get other-people-normal weekends at the DEO?”

Alex squeaks.

“Yeah, didn’t think so.”

Between both herself and Winn, they manage to get Alex out of the carrier. Now she’s trying to figure out where to put the puppy bed and bowl, while Alex is perched on the back of her couch watching with a very irritated expression.

“You know,” says Winn as he tosses the ball he bought around, “somehow your sister remains far too intimidating even like this.”

Kara blinks, then turns to look, and sure enough, Alex is looking way too smug at that. “That’s gonna go to her head.”

“Yeah, well, now she has sharp teeth and claws. I’m not going to make her upset at me.”

“She wouldn’t do that.” Then, to Alex: “Would you?”

Alex hisses.

“Stop that.”

Before this manages to escalate any further, and Kara’s not even a hundred percent sure it how even can, there’s a knock at the door.

“Sorry, that took longer than expected,” James explains as he and Maggie tromp into the apartment.

“We stopped by a 24-hour grocery store,” says Maggie as she hands over a few shopping bags.

“I do actually have food in this apartment.”

He snorts. “For you, yes. But I don’t think otters can survive off of sticky buns.”

“We picked up fish.” Alex seems to perk up at that, or at least seems incredibly intent on the plastic bags. “Oh, so now I get your attention, I see how it is.” Maggie pulls out a vacuum-packed fish fillet of some type and Alex jumps off the back of the sofa to follow her into the kitchen, squeaking half-heartedly. It’s almost hilariously adorable.

“She googled this stuff all on the way over,” James mutters to Kara. “I now know more about otter diets than I ever wanted to.”

“I heard that!”

Kara is pretty sure there has never been this much fish in her fridge ever. “Did you buy a sushi restaurant?”

“Apparently, otters can eat like their body weight every day.” Maggie sounds far too reasonable for this, as she watches Alex tear into the fish. Well, it’s a good thing Winn got the bowl.

“So now what?” James asks, forcing Kara’s attention away from the destruction.

“I am so open to suggestions.”

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll just...wear off?” Winn pauses for a moment. “Yeah, no, we are never that lucky.”