Kara couldn’t stop thinking about Lena Luthor. Here she was on Barry's Earth, and instead of focusing on his motley crew of mismatched friends—if you could call them that; she honestly wasn’t sure—or simply pondering the enigma that was the existence of actual alternate dimensions, her brain insisted on returning to the scene at the Port: Lena looking poised and elegant, her green eyes somehow paler than usual as she launched the Cadmus rocket; J’onn lifting his face to the sky while what he—and Kara, too—had believed were lethal spores tinged the air with red; Lillian Luthor’s voice hardening as she accused her daughter of betraying her; and, finally, Lena’s troubled gaze lingering on the police car that carried her mother away, its lights flashing eerily against nearby cranes and shipping containers.
Maybe she couldn’t let it go because something about the scene still seemed so wrong. Was it that she had hesitated at such a crucial moment? She could have—should have—used her super-speed to stop Lena from turning the launch key, but she had been so certain that Lena Was Good™ that she had remained where she was. The fate of the entire alien population of National City had been at stake, and still she’d only stood there, unable to accept what she was seeing.
When Barry and Cisco appeared in her apartment the following day, she'd jumped at the chance to escape her own dimension. Maybe a brief off-world adventure—a working superhero holiday, as she thought of it—would clear her head of her post-Medusa hangover. And yeah, helping a team of metahumans battle the Dominators, a notorious alien race who figured prominently in Krypton’s history, certainly held her attention. Other than the whole evil mind control/trying to kill your friends bit, the operation was more of what she was used to in her work with the DEO: find the bad guys, whip them in one or more battles of varying length and difficulty, and celebrate the straightforward triumph of good over evil afterward.
On stage at the post-Dominator-whooping ceremony back at Barry’s hangar, she held her head high, trying to stay focused on this Earth. But as the new president finished her speech by declaring that everyone up there was a hero, the words Kara had spoken to Lena on their Earth came back to her: “Be your own hero.”
To which, after a long moment, Lena had responded, “You can leave the same way you came in.” And then she’d picked up her tablet, gaze fixed on the screen as if the facts and figures displayed there held far more meaning than anything Kara might have to say.
She remembered staring at Lena, remembered wanting to rip the tablet from her unsteady fingers, to somehow make her see that as a force for good she could be more powerful than her hate-filled mother and brother would ever be. But instead she’d stalked past the other woman and vaulted from her balcony, assuring herself as she flew borderline recklessly back to DEO headquarters that she was only this upset because so many lives were at risk. It wasn’t Lena’s expression—eyes narrowed and lips pursed in defiance—that had set her off. It wasn’t the other emotion, either, she’d seen flit across Lena’s face that made her want to beat the crap out of a car. Lena had shot her that same wounded look at the Port, and now Kara couldn’t seem to unsee the hurt blossoming in her eyes.
The president’s speech ended, and as the crowd applauded the assembled heroes, Kara looked out across the unfamiliar faces and wondered if Lena Luthor existed on this planet. If she did, was she a Luthor at all, or had she instead been raised by her biological parents? Might she have grown into a happier, less lonely person without the murderous actions of her adopted family shadowing her every move? For that matter, did the Danvers exist in this dimension? She was tempted to fly out of the hangar at once to track them all down: to see if Jeremiah and Eliza lived together in a house by the sea; if Alex had become a well-adjusted, happily gay doctor; if Lena had invented an alternate version of Instagram here on this Earth where apparently the only aliens were the ones Kara had just helped defeat.
She was still fighting the urge to zoom off on the interdimensional equivalent of rubbernecking when Sara Lance, AKA the White Canary—which Kara had to say wasn’t the most intimidating superhero name she had ever heard, though she imagined that was a bit like the pot calling the kettle black—sidled up to her and asked if she wanted to grab a drink now that “all of this” was over.
“Oh. Oh.” Kara laughed a little and fiddled with her glasses. “Um, thanks, really, but I should, you know, be getting back to my own world. They’re probably looking for me by now.”
“Didn’t Cisco tell you he can send you back to the moment you left? No one ever has to know you were gone.”
“Right,” she said. “I forgot. Must have been the mind control thingie. Poof! Drove it right out of my head!”
Sara trailed her fingers along the edges of Kara’s shirt collar. “How about that drink then? What do you say, Supergirl?”
Kara swallowed and glanced down at the other woman’s hand as it dipped lower. Her fingers were slender, pretty in a way, so different from Mon-El’s blunter digits or James’s capable photographer’s hands, and she could feel the heat of their touch through her layers, soft and almost tantalizing as Sara smoothed the wrinkles from her sweater…
She blinked. “No, um, thanks, but I—I can’t. I’m pretty sure you'd rather hang out with my sister, anyway, not me.”
Sara looked intrigued. “Does she have super powers, too?”
“No, nothing like that. It’s just, she came out recently. You know, as gay? Not that I think you’re hitting on me,” she added hurriedly, squeezing her hands together in front of her. “I mean, it’s fine if you are because I’m totally okay with that. I just don’t want to make any assumptions because you know what they say about assuming—”
Sara laughed. “Relax, Kara. This was absolutely me hitting on you. But you know what they say about the queers, don’t you?”
Kara shook her head, hoping her glasses hid her wince. Maybe “queer” was one of those slurs only the members of the targeted minority group were allowed to use.
“Apparently the gay gene runs in families, dontcha know.” And with that, Sara winked and turned away, leaving her to ponder the strange swooping feeling in her chest engendered by the other woman’s pronouncement.
Was there really a gay gene, or was that true only in this dimension? Not that it mattered, of course, since she and Alex weren’t technically related or even, you know, the same species.
Soon it was time to say goodbye to Barry and Oliver Queen, who had come around from his anti-alien stance enough to tolerate a group hug. Cisco handed over his gizmo, the interdimensional extrapolator—with startlingly little instruction—and a little while later, after she’d had a chat with the president but before she could give in to her voyeuristic alt-Earth tendencies, she took a breath and stepped through the portal.
Once again it was like flying without the ability to guide herself, and oh, did she mention there wasn’t any air? Thankfully the transit between dimensions was over almost immediately, and she landed in her own apartment to find sunlight still streaming in her windows, the groceries she’d grabbed on her way home from work and the note she’d left Alex (just in case evil fared better on the other Earth) waiting right where she’d left them.
Quickly she crumpled the note and then burned it for good measure in a metal trashcan she kept on hand for such emergencies because honestly, she had no intention of telling her overprotective sister what she’d gotten up to on the other Earth. With the paper still smoldering, she used her super-speed to prepare a pair of PB&J sandwiches, demolishing the first before she’d finished making the second. She was starving. Seriously, she’d expected better from Barry in terms of provisions. After all, he needed nearly as many calories as she did to maintain his metabolic rate. Though she supposed the dearth of snacks made sense. They had been busy over the last couple of days.
So busy, in fact, that she was left feeling a bit uneasy now that she was alone in her apartment back on her Earth. The real world was still here, and the events of what was technically the night before were still hanging heavily over everything she thought and did. Her little getaway had changed nothing, except to leave her even more confused, if possible. For a moment, she pictured Lena staring accusingly at her, heard her saying, “I thought you were different.” And, “How long before you come after me?”
Lena’s words had reminded her of what Maxwell Lord had once said: that she and her cousin posed a serious threat to Earth; that they and the power they wielded should not be trusted.
And yes, she’d learned in high school civics class that absolute power has a troublesome tendency to corrupt. But, Rao, why couldn’t they accept that she and Kal-El meant their world no harm? In fact, they had dedicated their lives to protecting their adopted home and its inhabitants, across multiple dimensions even. She would never willingly—i.e., without the influence of poorly manufactured synthetic Kryptonite or, say, alien brain-melding techniques—hurt anyone, human or alien. Well, unless they deserved it, like the Dominators.
Still hungry, she grabbed a container of ice cream from the freezer and threw herself on the couch hard enough that it creaked. Whoops. She should probably be more careful. Alex loved this couch, and a junior reporter’s salary at CatCo wasn’t exactly the big leagues. Alex. Huh. Come to think of it, she hadn’t heard much from her sister today. They had been at the DEO late the night before, filing reports and celebrating J’onn’s and Mon-El’s recoveries, but still, Alex usually checked in on her the day after an operation of Medusa’s magnitude. Where was she? Assuming she hadn’t gone off on her own interdimensional adventure.
One way to find out. Kara reached for her phone.