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I'm Kara Danvers

Chapter Text

Lena Luthor remembered everything about the first time Supergirl saved her life. She remembered the deafening crack of the gun, the trigger pulled just short of five metres from where she stood. She remembered every muscle in her body tensing, bracing itself for the inevitable impact. She remembered the flash of blue and red that, surely, she must have been imagining, materialising out of thin air. She remembered the clink of the bullet that was meant for her falling to the ground, rendered useless by the Girl of Steel. She remembered the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes—blinking once, twice, to make sure she was actually alive—was the flattened nub of the bullet rolling towards her feet. The second, a luminous grin flashed at her over a caped shoulder.

"You alright there, Miss Luthor?" The voice was confident, unwavering. It was the voice that inspired an entire city to believe everything would be all right because Supergirl was there to save the day.

Thanks to her, Lena was indeed all right, at least in a corporeal sense. She did her best to compose herself while Supergirl blasted the attempted shooter's gun with her heat vision and knocked him out cold with a swift tap to the back of the head.

During the brief moments it took for Supergirl to do a sweep of the surrounding area, Lena straightened her jacket and smoothed back some rebellious hairs that had escaped the confines of her slick ponytail.

She was shaken, but by the time Supergirl halted to a stop in front of her she felt she had regained the trademark Luthor composure: calm, cool, and collected under difficult circumstances. Meanwhile, Supergirl looked more like a statue carved from azure stone than a living, breathing person. Her hands were fixed to her hips as if by magnets, and her hair and cape fluttered in a breeze that seemed to follow the Girl of Steel wherever she went. Lena couldn't help but be impressed by the image, and paused for a moment to take it all in. The posters certainly didn't do her justice.

"I guess this is the part where I thank you?" Lena asked, quirking an eyebrow.

She was pleased to hear that her voice was steadier than she felt. She was rattled, certainly, but more than anything, she was angry. Angry that she wasn't able to defend herself against one of Lex's 'errand boys'. What was the point of all that self defence training if a little motorcycle fall rendered her helpless long enough for a guy to pull a gun on her? Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. She made a mental note to increase her training to two hours a day.

Supergirl's features crinkled into a smile, and somehow she was even more stunning than before. "It's not a required part of the service but it certainly is appreciated."

"Mm," Lena hummed. She didn't like owing people. As a Luthor, she already felt like she owed everyone she met something: proof that she was different from her family—proof that she was worth their time. But her eyes fell to the flattened bullet on the ground, and she picked it up and turned it over in her hands. The fact that this bullet would have found its mark if not for the woman standing in front of her was not lost on her. She sighed, pursed her lips and lifted her eyes. "Thank you, Supergirl. You...you saved my life."

Just when Lena thought it wasn't possible, Supergirl's grin widened. "Don't mention it."

Lena sighed and turned her attention to her fallen motorbike. With a grimace she dislodged the metal hook wedged into the spokes of the front wheel. The tiny device had managed to stop the wheel as she rounded a corner, launching her from the seat. She could feel the bruises forming on her legs underneath her leather motorcycle pants. Luckily she wasn't going faster; the fall alone could have easily killed her. She hated to admit it, but it was good tech, so she pocketed the device.

Lena went to lift the heavy bike up; however, just as she had gotten it off the ground, the bike suddenly became weightless as Supergirl lifted it as if it were a toy with one hand while holding Lena’s helmet out to her with the other. "And they say chivalry is dead," Lena mused.

The corner of her mouth threatened to twitch into a smile, but never quite made it as she took the helmet from her rescuer. Her face was reflected back at her in the dark visor: pale skin, dark hair, and green eyes her mother had always said would be the downfall of whichever poor soul fell for her—if she could ever extract her nose from textbooks, that was. The image cracked before her eyes, the porcelain of her skin shattering and seeping blood—she blinked hard and turned away from her reflection, taking a shaky breath as she looked at Supergirl.

“Supergirl, can I ask you something?” she found herself asking as she stepped closer to the caped figure.

Supergirl angled her head to the side curiously and Lena couldn’t help but be reminded of the golden retriever she wished she’d had as a child, but was never allowed. She found it most endearing. “If it’s not about anything classified, go ahead,” Supergirl said.

“Did you know who I was? Before you saved me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you know I was Lena Luthor?”

Supergirl’s smile rearranged into a frown, the crease of her brow betraying hurt feelings and indignation. “You think I wouldn’t save you because you’re a Luthor?” She asked slowly and began shaking her head with increasing ferocity. “That’s not what Supergirl—what I am about.” Supergirl paced, twisting at her sleeves in what looked like exasperation and turned on her heel to fix Lena with a blazing stare. “Lena, I would have done the same thing if Lex had been down here. I mean, of course I would subsequently have arrested him because what the heck was he be doing outside of prison anyway and then—“

“All right, all right, I get the picture,” Lena interrupted with a small, defensive laugh before Supergirl could get any more wound up. Seeing National City’s hero flustered like this was undeniably amusing, and allowed Lena to somewhat relax her stiffened shoulders. Lena filed the fact that questioning Supergirl’s heroic virtues apparently got under her impenetrable skin away in the compartment of her brain which was opening up for the Super.

“You really are a hero. I’m not sure I could say I’d do the same for my brother,” she murmured thoughtfully, and it was true. She really wasn’t sure what she would do.

With a brisk sigh, Supergirl seemed to regain her composure and was back to her poster-worthy self, though Lena could still see the flush of red lingering at her neck. "Why do I feel like this isn't the first time something like this has happened to you?" Supergirl asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

Lena couldn’t hold back a smirk and a wry laugh. "Well, it's not. Though I have to say this is the closest call I've had," she added in a mutter. She cracked a smile and lifted her eyes to Supergirl. "I'm a Luthor; I have enemies." Some closer to home than others. "Assassination attempts kind of come with the territory."

Supergirl's frown deepened, and it was like she could see right through Lena, further down than even x-ray vision. Lena grimaced and ran her thumb over the visor of her helmet, averting her eyes from Supergirl’s. It had been a war to convince Lucas, her head of security, to let her ride home from work without a ten-man security detail. She knew it was risky—hence her undertaking combat training every morning—but it was the only time she ever got to herself. Without it she really believed she would go insane.

She bit her lip and looked up at Supergirl with what she hoped was an expression that demanded sympathy. "Look, Supergirl...don't tell anyone about this, ok? Not my people, not your people...whoever they may be. Just keep it between us, alright?"

"Lena, I really should—"

"You don't have to worry about me. I can take care of myself. And if I do get in trouble, well...it seems I'm lucky enough to have a guardian angel on my side." She smiled, and it was every bit as charming as she hoped.

Supergirl hesitated momentarily, then nodded slowly. "I trust you know what you're doing, Miss Luthor. I do know a bit about wanting to keep some things private." A small smile tugged at the hero’s lips and she breathed a sigh. "What should we do about this guy?"

Lena followed Supergirl's thumb to the hit man crumpled on the ground and let out a groan, her fingers rubbing at the headache she could already feel encroaching on her temple. "My brother sent him, I can tell by the bad haircut,” she muttered darkly. “I think Lex is trying to kill me," she added in a stage whisper, flashing a grin. Pretended the fact that her only brother's obsession with killing her didn't twist knots in her stomach. Pretended she didn't wish she could have her old brother back; her brother who read her bedtime stories when she couldn't sleep, her brother who told her that not being normal was what made her special.

She sighed tiredly and crouched down by her motorbike, checking everything was working after the attack. "Just take him to the police, will you? Is that a service you provide?"

Supergirl snickered. "Of course! I'm like an Uber for bad guys."

Lena shot her a quizzical look at the joke that seemed so off-brand for the supposedly stoic hero. Perhaps Lena wasn’t the only one who was different behind the curtain of the media and preconceived ideas. Supergirl paid no mind to Lena’s disbelief, clearly thinking she was hilarious, and hoisted the thug easily over her shoulders. "Right," Lena muttered under her breath and busied herself with her bike. Once she was satisfied that everything was in order, she straightened up and swung her leg over the bike, getting ready to leave.

"Are you sure you don't want me to escort you home, Miss Luthor?" She heard from over her shoulder.

"What? Oh, no thank you I'll be fine. Besides, you seem to have your hands full," she indicated the perp who was now draped over Supergirl like a very unfashionable scarf. She bit her lip, hesitating slightly before continuing: “Call me Lena, please. I think saving my life has earned you first name privileges.”

Supergirl smiled softly and nodded. "I’m honoured…Lena?" Lena was just about to put on her helmet when Supergirl called out to her again, and she angled her chin over her shoulder to answer.

"Yes?"

"Can I come see you sometime? Sometime you're not being shot at maybe?"

Lena quirked a sceptic brow, wondering what on earth Supergirl would want to spend her spare time doing with a Luthor. "Why?"

"Oh, you know. Just guardian angel stuff I guess," Supergirl replied with a grin. Her blue eyes were twinkling almost playfully and Lena searched them for a hint of anything sinister, a trace of an ulterior motive, but she turned up empty. Supergirl was nothing but sincerity and good intent, but still Lena was perplexed.

Lena’s reluctance must have shown on her face, because Supergirl added, “I think you’re the only person in National City who works longer hours than I do—well, besides Cat Grant before she went volcano diving in Tahiti or whatever it is she’s up to these days,” she mumbled and drew in a breath. “Anyway it can get pretty lonely just flying around sometimes. I could use the company. Maybe you could too?”

"Company…” Lena rolled the word around in her mouth, testing it methodically as if knowing the word would allow herself to know the concept. For a brief moment she imagined looking up from her desk to see Supergirl touching down on her balcony where they would share a nightcap. Supergirl would tell her about some criminals she’d stopped that night and Lena would stare into those unbearably blue eyes and Lena could almost feel the relief of the weight of loneliness lifting from her chest, even if it would only be for a short time.

“Company would not be unwelcome,” she finally conceded, biting her bottom lip as she tried not to let on how much she wanted to indulge in this new, unexpected fantasy. “I have a balcony. It's new, so there’s that. Do you…do you know the building?"

Supergirl’s cheeks pinched upwards into an impossible grin. "Is it the one with the big L on it perchance?”

"Bingo,” Lena rolled her eyes, but it wasn’t without a smile. “I'd better be going. I have an early morning."

"Let me guess, you’re the last to leave and the first to arrive at the office?"

Lena gave a soft laugh, wondering if her life really was as sad as it sounded coming from Supergirl’s mouth. "Something like that, I suppose. Thank you again, Supergirl. For the whole saving my life thing. I really don't want to think about what could have happened if you hadn't shown up. I must be really lucky." The smile she gave Supergirl was small, but genuine. She flicked her visor down assertively and kicked the motorcycle to life, letting out a slow breath to focus herself. As she pulled off and rolled down the street, she watched the blue and red streak fly overhead towards the stars.

//

Kara Zor-El flew high above the streets of National City, the thug who tried to kill Lena Luthor draped over her shoulders, and her eyes fixed on the jet black motorbike which glided easily through the traffic-free midnight roads. “Lena Luthor…you really are something, aren’t you?” she murmured thoughtfully to herself, playing their meeting over in her head. The thug groaned loudly in response and she promptly delivered a smack to his head, knocking him out again. “Didn’t ask you,” she muttered, rolling her eyes before she put on an extra burst of speed.

Chapter Text

If she was totally honest, Lena Luthor didn't quite remember everything about the first time she met Kara Danvers. She certainly didn’t remember every detail like Kara did. For instance, Lena swore Kara was wearing a grey skirt and a green cardigan, when Kara knew for certain that her lucky green cardigan was in the wash, and she was actually wearing her blue cardigan over a pink collared shirt. She was positive about this because if she had been wearing her lucky green cardigan, she believed she would have been a lot smoother during her first meeting with the CEO.

Kara checked her watch for what was probably the fifth time that minute and sighed, shaking out her limbs as though it would get rid of the nerves. It wasn’t just the weight of the article Snapper Carr had assigned her—Lena Luthor was the talk of the town and interviewing the CEO would be a huge deal for her, career wise. But there was just something about Lena herself that made Kara nervous in a way she hadn’t felt before.

It had been a few days since Supergirl had saved Lena Luthor, and Kara had been having a hard time getting the encounter out of her head. Right now, Lena Luthor was a star child in the eyes of the media: charismatic, beautiful, captivating, and working hard to repair L-Corp's reputation and put some real good in the world, or so it seemed. But there was something in Lena's eyes that night that spoke of something else, something hidden that made Kara intensely curious.

Just as Kara was getting lost in her thoughts, a sleek black car slid up in front of her. A tall, muscle bound man in a dark suit got out of the driver's side and opened the door to the backseat. A black heel emerged from the car, planting itself on the ground. Long legs in a cream pantsuit followed, and then there she was: Lena Luthor.

Kara felt her mouth go dry. The woman was stunning in an otherworldly sense; for a moment Kara wondered if she might be an alien too. She also found that a part of herself was slightly disappointed Lena hadn't arrived on her motorbike. Green eyes scanned the area and Kara suddenly realised Lena must have been looking for her. She quickly got up, scrabbling to hold her belongings in place and trotted over to her.

"Watch it," a gruff voice accompanied by a thick arm caught her in the chest and Kara had to suppress her immediate reflex to flip the guy over.

"Lucas," Lena said, fixing the man with a stern look. "Relax, please. I believe this would be the CatCo reporter we're scheduled to meet. Your name being...?"

"Danvers—Kara Danvers." Kara fumbled through her bag and showed Lucas her CatCo ID, hoping it would placate the bodyguard. Satisfied, he lowered his arm with a grunt.

"Excellent. Sorry if I kept you waiting, Miss Danvers, I got held up at the office. I don’t know about you but I am famished. Are you up for some lunch?”

Kara's expression brightened at the mention of food, despite the fact that she had eaten lunch only an hour ago. "Always."

During the car ride Kara fumbled over her words about how excited and privileged she felt to be interviewing Lena—it was, after all, her first high profile interview as a reporter. If being interviewed by a junior reporter bothered Lena she certainly didn’t show it, and simply smiled pleasantly while Kara gushed uncontrollably.

Lena took them to a sushi place downtown and before long their table was laden down with rows of glittering sushi. Kara almost didn't know where to start, but, of course, she didn’t let that stop her for too long. In her excitement, she fumbled with her chopsticks and dropped a sushi roll into her soy sauce dish, flicking drops of sauce all over her top.

"Someone's excited," Lena said, an amused expression playing across her face. "Here." She handed Kara a napkin, which she used to dab at her definitely stained shirt.

"Thanks," Kara mumbled, blushing furiously and cursing herself internally. As Supergirl she was confident enough to pretty much invite herself over to Lena’s office, but as Kara Danvers, she apparently forgot how to use chopsticks around the woman.

Kara remembered she was supposed to have her serious reporter's hat on for this interview and quickly tried to move on from the embarrassing incident. She asked Lena about L-Corp’s rebranding and new direction, what Lena hoped to achieve with her work, and current projects she was working on. Lena answered all of her questions with ease, as though she had done this one hundred times before—which, to be fair, was pretty close to the truth.

Kara found herself surprised by the contrast between the Lena she had met as Supergirl and the Lena who sat across from her now. Granted, the contexts were completely different: Lena was in her element here, playing the part of powerful CEO perfectly, clearly more comfortable wearing that mask than that of ‘assassination target’.

Kara had to hand it to her, it was a well constructed mask—polished, smooth, and shiny—but there were imperfections and hairline fractures Kara so desperately wanted to pry open to catch a glimpse of what hid behind. She had seen the face behind the mask, ever so briefly, as Supergirl. That was the Lena that Kara wanted to know and write about.

In time, they reached the part of the interview that Kara had silently been dreading throughout lunch: the part where she asked about Lena’s family, which, thanks to her meeting as Supergirl, she knew was a sore spot for the Luthor.

She pushed her glasses up her nose and cleared her throat with what she hoped was something resembling confidence. “Miss Luthor, I ah, I’m sorry to ask but I kind of have to for the article, it’s pretty important to get a quote on this particular topic given the current political climate and your position in society…” she rambled, whatever shred of authority she thought she had melting away with each hurried word. Still, she continued, “given your family’s, ah, history, what’s your view on the President’s Alien Amnesty Act?”

For a beat, Lena said nothing. The longer Lena gazed at Kara with a thoughtful look on her face, the harder panic chipped away at her resolve and she wished she could swallow the words back. After a moment, Lena rocked forwards to rest her elbows on the table, a perfectly manicured finger poised at her chin.

“Can I offer you some unsolicited advice, Miss Danvers?”

Kara blanched, swallowed hard. “Um, sure?”

“Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. While I’m sure the people will be positively titillated to read about L-Corp’s restructuring, charity work, and focus on green technology, you’d be kidding yourself to think that’s the reason they pick up a magazine with Lena Luthor’s name on the cover. They want the truth, Miss Danvers, something solid to hold onto when they’re drowning in information assaulting them from every direction. Now, as a reporter, you can either give them the truth or just add to the noise. So. What are you going to get from me? The truth? Or more noise?”

A crease formed in Kara’s brow as she listened to Lena’s words, turning them over in her mind. She was right, of course. If she was ever going to become a halfway decent reporter, like Clark, she couldn’t be afraid to ask the hard-hitting questions, to get uncomfortable to get to the truth.

“Miss Luthor…” she said slowly, a soft smile creeping across her lips. “It sounds like you’re deflecting my question.”

Lena barked a laugh and rolled back into her seat with a grin and a twinkle in her eyes. “That’s more like it, Kara.” She sighed and buried her fingers in the hair at the base of her neck, turning her head to look out the window as she spoke. “As much as I’d like to say my family’s views towards aliens are complicated, that would be giving them far too much credit. They’re not complicated; they’re hateful and ignorant, simple as that. I want it to be made abundantly clear that I do not share those views, and neither does L-Corp. Maybe it has something to do with my being adopted but, contrary to what many think, that particular seed of evil hasn’t taken root in me, at least not yet.”

Lena’s words were intended as a joke but the murmur in her voice suggested that there was a part of her that wasn’t entirely convinced herself. She carried the Luthor name like a curse, uncertain as to if or when the Luthor destiny would eventually take hold of her, too. Lena shook her head lightly and fixed Kara with a charming smile.

“If being a Luthor has taught me anything, it’s that every change in the world can be jimmied into a business opportunity. That’s how L-Corp chooses to see the Alien Amnesty Act. When the aliens living amongst us come forward, that opens up a whole new market for us. Just imagine the possibilities! Some of these aliens come from advanced civilisations with technologies we couldn’t even dream of; just think of what we could learn from them. L-Corp wants to be captaining that ship to be at the forefront of progress, make no mistake about that.”

Lena’s eyes gleamed as she spoke and her voice was filled with genuine excitement. For a moment, Kara imagined Lena geeking out with J’onn and Winn over Martian communication technology. The image warmed her heart in a way she couldn’t quite place. What Lena went on to say, however, dampened the thought.

“We’re looking into developing technologies for aliens, too. Devices to conceal any, ah, differences they might have to make them look more human. It’s sure to make the transition a whole lot smoother for everyone.”

Kara’s brow crinkled into a frown. “Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of the act? Shouldn’t aliens who are coming out be able to live free lives as American citizens? Why should they have to hide who they truly are?”

Lena quirked an eyebrow at Kara’s challenging question. Not that she minded being challenged, but it certainly was unexpected coming from the young reporter. “I’m just being realistic here, Kara. People can be…defensive. Especially when faced with something they don’t understand. Giving aliens the option to fit in would just make them easier to be accepted into society. Take Supergirl, for example. Do you really think National City would have accepted her as their hero if she had a tail or a second head or something? I’ve come close enough to the worst of humanity to know that Supergirl wouldn’t be the hero she is if she didn’t blend in so well.”

Kara started, almost lost for words until Lena mentioned Supergirl. Her ears burned and her chest swelled and her chin angled upwards as she spoke firmly: “Supergirl would still be a hero. She would still fight for humanity; it’s what she is on Earth to do. Even if she wasn’t accepted, she would fight for this planet until people recognised her as a force for good.”

Lena leaned forwards onto the table, eyeing Kara curiously. “Wow. You really believe that, don’t you? Do you…do you know Supergirl?” Lena nipped at her bottom lip lightly as she asked.

Kara swallowed, forcing herself to become small once more as she remembered who she was supposed to be at that exact moment. “Yes,” she said cautiously, reaching automatically to adjust her glasses. “We met a few times when I was Cat Grant’s assistant, and I’ve written some stories on her, so…yes, we know each other.”

Lena smiled, biting the inside of her cheek. “I could tell. She certainly seems to have left an impression on you, Kara Danvers. I met her recently, and I have to say, she left quite the impression on me too,” she murmured pensively. “She’s very heroic.”

“Really? You really think so?” Kara asked eagerly, perhaps a little too eagerly as she quickly cleared her throat and changed the subject. “Do you think she could change how you think about aliens coming out?”

Lena chuckled softly, shaking her head. “Not unless she has some sort of mind control powers we don’t know about. Your optimism is sweet, Kara, but if there’s one thing I know about humans, it’s how they work, especially when they’re afraid. Still…I’m not the kind of person to close my mind completely,” she mused. “I’ve seen where blind stubbornness gets people. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Kara sighed and sat back in her seat, folding her arms over her chest. Lena had certainly given her a lot to think about, but Kara wasn’t sure how much more she was going to get out of her by way of understanding Lena Luthor. At least not while she was Kara Danvers.

Lena insisted she pay for lunch. "Company card," she said, flashing a shiny credit card with a grin. "One of the perks of being CEO: you can pretty much eat for free if you say it was a 'business occasion'. For example, I had a very productive business meeting between me, myself, and a large cheese pizza just the other night." Lena's laugh was like a song, and if Kara wasn't infatuated with the CEO before, she certainly was now.

Chapter Text

That night, Lena sat in her office, late, as per usual. She normally found she was more productive at night, but tonight wasn't exactly working out for her. The words on her laptop swam in front of her, stubbornly refusing to make sense. With a sigh, she closed her laptop and sat back in her chair.

Her hand absently reached for a small drawer on the underside of her desk and slid it open. Inside were only a few items. The first was a handgun: small, compact, and so far unused. The second was a picture inside a black frame. It was Lena's graduation photo. She wore a red gown, looking at the camera with a neutral face—"your teeth look too big when you smile like that, Lena"—and Lex stood next to her in a dark suit. Only he wasn’t looking at the camera; he was looking at her, smiling. He looked so proud.

The third item was the bullet that was stopped in its tracks by Supergirl only a few nights before. The morning after the attack she had placed it into the drawer. It felt important: a reminder of her own mortality, and that if she was going to do something meaningful with her life, she couldn’t afford to hesitate.

She reached for the bullet and ran her fingers over the metal, feeling the undulations caused by the projectile meeting Supergirl's impenetrable skin. Any other person would have been graced with death, instantly, but to Supergirl she may as well have been hit with a spitball. Our weapons are just toys to her, Lena thought to herself. She wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. 

A sudden tapping coming from over her shoulder interrupted her thoughts. Her heart leapt into her throat and her reflexes, honed by her daily combat training sessions, kicked into overdrive. She reached back into the drawer and pulled out her gun, and had the safety switched off and pointed at the source of the noise within moments. 

"Is this a bad time? This looks like a bad time."

Lena exhaled sharply at the familiar voice and lowered the gun, slipping it back into the drawer and pushing it shut. Her heart was still racing, but her exterior remained calm as she walked outside to where Supergirl was eyeing her cautiously with her palms up in a universal ‘don’t shoot’ sign.

"Sorry, I was just flying around the neighbourhood and I saw your light on."

"I'm working," Lena said, a bit more sternly than she meant. 

"I'm sorry, I'm interrupting, I should let you get back to it." Supergirl turned away and prepared to take off, but Lena quickly reached out and held onto her arm. 

"No, don't. I…I was actually wondering when you would drop by, if at all. Stay. Please. " 

Supergirl glanced down to where Lena held on to her arm, and Lena felt the muscles in her forearm tense and relax beneath her hands. "If you're sure..." Supergirl said slowly. At Lena's nod of approval, a smile made its way onto Supergirl's face, looking perfectly in place on her pink lips.

Lena breathed a sigh and found herself mirroring Supergirl's smile, like she couldn’t help it. She returned inside to the small bar stand she had in her office. "You want a drink? I've got wine, scotch, gin, vodka.... juice if you're into that."

Supergirl raised a brow, leaning up against the doorframe with her arms crossed over her chest. "You running a bar up here?" 

Lena smirked in response. "Businesspeople drink, believe it or not. I've had deals fall through at the last minute because I didn't stock the right brand of scotch." She rolled her eyes at the memory, and muttered under her breath, "pricks," as she poured herself a glass of amber liquid. "Want some?"

"No thank you, Lena. Technically I'm on duty." 

"Of course." She respected a woman who took her work seriously. She swilled her glass and took a small sip, feeling the warmth of alcohol spread from her stomach to the tips of her fingers as she stepped back out into the cool night air.

"You always armed?" Supergirl asked, nodding her head towards Lena’s desk draw.

“I’m always prepared, if that’s what you mean. A girl has to protect herself, you know that better than most,” Lena replied, giving her a knowing look. “Though maybe I’m not as prepared as I thought. You sure snuck up on me pretty easily. Maybe I should get you a cat bell,” she hummed, amusing herself with the mental image of Supergirl wearing a bright pink cat collar.

"But then how will I sneak up on the bad guys?" 

"You're the one with superpowers, you figure it out." 

"And you're the one with a masters in bio-mechanical engineering, maybe you should figure out," she quipped, crossing her arms over her chest with a grin.

Lena quirked an eyebrow curiously. "You've sure done your research."

Supergirl chuckled and rubbed the back of her neck, caught out. "Just the basics. A Super needs to be informed." 

"When it comes to a Luthor." It came out as a resigned statement rather than a question. Lena knew her name would come up sooner or later. It always did. 

"N-no, that's not what I meant—" Supergirl quickly tried to backtrack, but Lena wasn’t having it.

Lena sighed and crossed her arms impatiently. "Let's just get things out in the open, shall we? Yes, Lex Luthor, my brother, has tried to kill your cousin. Multiple times. And he did horrible, horrible things in the process. He's obsessed and insane, but he's my brother, and I own that. And he's not even half of the Luthor family problems, and I own those too. But I'm trying, Supergirl. I'm really trying to make this name mean something other than 'hateful' and 'evil'. I won't be marked by the Luthor name—by my name. I won't." Lena didn't realise how worked up she was getting until Supergirl was saying her name quietly and looking at her, looking right at her, with those unbelievably blue eyes. 

"Lena, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. You're not your brother, and you're not your family. You don't have to carry their crimes like this.” Supergirl spoke slowly, her voice missing its usual stoic timbre and filled instead with a sincere quality. “I believe in judging people by their actions, not who they're related to. You haven't done anything since coming to National City that suggests you're anything other than a good person. Well, except pull a gun on me just now but that's besides the point."

Lena let out a bitter laugh and ran a hand through her hair. She didn't plan on going on this tirade, certainly not to Supergirl of all people. But she found she didn't wish she could take it back. In fact she felt relief, to let out the words that had been plaguing her mind since she had moved to National City. Somehow saying it out loud loosened the grip they had on her ever so slightly.

"I have to say that's a bit naive of you, Supergirl,” she said, glancing at the Girl of Steel over the rim of her glass. “But maybe you can afford to be more naive than the rest of us when you have bulletproof skin." 

Supergirl exhaled shortly through her nose. "Maybe you're right, Lena. Maybe believing in the best in people makes me naïve. But I'll have you know I’m a very good judge of character. I have to be; my heart is just as vulnerable as yours." 

Lena regarded the Kryptonian and in that moment she seemed remarkably human. She held her gaze for a moment and nodded. "That's…good to know. I'm sorry for offloading on you like that, Supergirl, it's just—you're easy to talk to."

Supergirl shrugged with an easy smile. "I'm a good listener. You know...super hearing and all." 

Lena rolled her eyes and let out a laugh, finding herself able to relax in Supergirl’s company now that the elephant in the room had been addressed. "Who knew Supergirl was such a dork? You look so cool on the magazines,” she teased lightly.

“It’s amazing what Photoshop can do these days, isn’t it?”

Lena chuckled wryly. “Sure had me fooled.” She took a sip of her drink and relaxed against the railing of her balcony, her back to the city. Supergirl leaned her elbows on the railing next to her, looking outwards, and Lena was reminded of the fact that the hero always had one eye or ear trained on the city, ready to jump into action at the first sign of trouble.

 "I met your friend today,” Lena said after a brief silence. “Kara Danvers. You're close, aren't you?" 

"Our paths are..." Supergirl hesitated, searching for the right word, finally landing on "intertwined. What do you think of her?" Supergirl asked, trying not to show how closely she listened to the response, not that Lena noticed. 

"She's sweet. A little dorky, kind of clumsy. But her optimism, even I'll admit, is infectious. I think...I think we could be friends. I can't say that about a lot of people. You know, she's one of the few people in this city who hasn’t automatically assumed the worst of me just because I'm a Luthor. Even though, if you think about it, she has more reason than most to watch me closely."

Supergirl straightened suddenly, a hint of red colouring the tips of her ears. "Why would Kara have more reason to be suspicious of you than any other regular, normal citizen of National City?"

Lena fixed Supergirl with a blank look, like it was completely obvious. "Because she's a reporter."

"Oh! Right, right, yes of course. She's a reporter who reports on things so of course she should pay closer attention than the average person, it's her job, that makes total sense." Supergirl trailed off, realising she was rambling, and blushed as Lena was unable to hold back her laughter. 

"You must be hanging out with her a lot. She rambles too. Just like that actually," she laughed, thinking to herself for a moment. "I have to ask this: is there anything going on between the two of you? I’d like to know before I make any…assumptions."

Supergirl barked an over loud laugh. "Oh, Lena, that is a good one. No. Absolutely not, that is beyond impossible."

Lena fixed Supergirl with a searching look for a minute before giving a curt nod. "Good." She left it at that and swallowed down the rest of her drink.

After a beat, Supergirl shifted the slightest bit closer to Lena. At this distance, Lena could feel the warmth radiating from the Kryptonian’s skin. She hoped Supergirl didn’t notice the goosebumps prickling across her upper arm, and if she did, she hoped she just attributed them to the crisp breeze.

She tipped her chin towards the sky, looking up at the dizzying array of stars above them. There were so many questions she wanted to ask the woman beside her. What was her home planet like? How many other worlds had she visited? What kinds of amazing things had she seen and done? All these questions, and somehow she found herself blurting out—

“How fast can you fly?”

Supergirl laughed in mild amusement and folded her arms over her chest—Lena instantly felt the absence of her warmth with a twist in her stomach. “I don’t know exactly. Faster than the speed of sound though, I know that for sure. Do you like going fast?” she asked with a grin.

“What?”

“Uh, I mean, you ride a motorcycle so I’m assuming you like things…fast,” Supergirl stammered, twisting at the material of her sleeves. Lena couldn’t deny the satisfaction she felt from seeing the hero so flustered.

She laughed lightly, putting Supergirl out of her misery as she allowed her to relax. “I suppose you could say that, yes. I’ve always loved anything with an engine, ever since I was a little girl.”

As she spoke, Lena noticed Supergirl’s attention suddenly divert elsewhere, no doubt hearing something beyond her own human senses. “Duty calls?” she surmised, doing her best to keep disappointment from entering her voice.

"Duty calls,” Supergirl affirmed, her back straightening and chest inflating into the superhero pose she had down to an art.

"Cat stuck up a tree?" Lena drawled, quirking a sly brow.

Supergirl made a conspicuous show of listening out. “Dog, actually. Miniature poodle.”

Lena chuckled and shook her head. "Go on. Go save the world, one furry creature at a time." She hesitated for a moment before steeling herself, deciding life was far too short and she was far too mortal for indecision. “Supergirl? Come see me again sometime. Sooner, rather than later.”

“I look forward to it.”

Supergirl gave her a smile that would have taken Lena’s breath away if she subscribed to Hollywood clichés. With one last glance over her shoulder, Supergirl took off into the sky, leaving Lena’s hair blowing in her wake.

Lena sighed wistfully, her eyes trained on the blue and red streak for the three seconds it took to disappear from view. Beautiful and powerful women had always been her weakness, and Supergirl was turning out to be her own devastating form of Kryptonite.

//

“Alex!” Kara exclaimed in surprise when she dropped back into her living room, car thieves successfully nabbed and National City safe and sound once more.

“About time you showed up! I thought I was going to have to finish this six-pack all by myself.” Alex Danvers sat curled up on Kara’s couch, a mug of tea in one hand and a bright pink doughnut in the other.

Kara’s eyes lit up at the sight of her favourite kind of six-pack sitting on the coffee table. “No way; at least four of those are mine.” Within seconds, she had exchanged her super suit for a pair of pyjamas and was sitting on the couch next to her sister already halfway through her first doughnut.

“I made you some tea—that toffee flavoured one you like.”

Kara giggled gleefully and pinched her fingers open and shut as Alex passed her mug to her. She took a sip and made a face. “It’s stone cold!”

“Of course it is, I made it three hours ago,” Alex rolled her eyes, “it’s a shame you’re not a walking microwave,” she drawled.

Kara scowled and gave her a mug a blast of her heat vision, and the tea soon melted away her frown. This was just what she needed.

“Wait a second, what are you even doing here, Alex? It’s not sister night, is it? No, we didn’t have plans. Did Maggie do something? Did she hurt you?” she asked hurriedly, a growl entering her voice at the last part.

Alex laughed and shook her head. “Other than be the most perfect and beautiful girlfriend I could ever hope for? No, Maggie didn’t do anything so you can relax, Fido. Maggie’s working the night shift, and I just figured things were quiet at work so I wanted to come by and surprise you, just like old times. But it seems like you’ve got your own things going on in life, which is fine—great, even! Good thing there was a Gilmore Girls marathon on!”

Kara glanced back at the TV where Lorelai and Rory Gilmore soundlessly spoke over coffees, looking not unlike she and her sister at that very moment. Her heart sank at the thought that she’d missed out on quality time with her sister—it was in relatively short supply between being busy at the DEO and now that Alex was spending more time with Maggie. Not that Kara minded, but it certainly had taken some time to get used to her new reality in which she didn’t have her sister all to herself. Still, she saw how happy Maggie made Alex, and that meant everything to her.

“I’m so sorry Alex, you could have called me,” she apologised sadly.

“Don’t worry about it, it was a last minute thought, really,” Alex insisted, shaking her head. “I didn’t think you’d be out on Supergirl duty tonight though. Things are quiet at the DEO and judging by the Snapchats Maggie’s been sending me all night there’s not much going on in terms of regular crime. What gives? Are you having nightmares?” she asked, concern crinkling the older Danvers’ forehead.

“No, no…no nightmares, I’m fine, really.” Kara nipped at her lip and glanced down at the doughnut in her hands, picking at a few of sprinkles. "I…I was actually with Lena Luthor."

Alex’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Oh!” she said, her face rearranging itself into a serious expression. “What do you think she’s up to?”

Kara frowned, irritated. "Don't be like that Alex, you don't even know her." 

"What's there to know? She's a Luthor—oof!" Alex exclaimed as the cushion hit her squarely in the face. Kara was getting way too good at that. 

"And I'm a Danvers and somehow I'm not a big dummy like you," Kara scowled. "Gimme another doughnut," she muttered.

"Whoa, ‘big dummy’? Sorry to step on your toes there, sis, didn’t realise this was such sensitive territory."

Kara sighed, taking a moment to keep her temper under control. “I just can’t live in a world that condemns people for being who they are. Not even for who they are, but who they’re related to? That just doesn’t seem fair to me.” Kara bit the inside of her cheek and set her doughnut and mug down, twisted at the sleeves of her top and spoke quietly. “My father created a virus to horribly kill non-Kryptonians on Krypton. And my mother…was at least partly responsible for the destruction of my planet.”

Kara drew in a shaky breath. It was never going to be easy for her to talk about her parents, especially about their dark sides, but she needed Alex to understand. “My point is, if I’d been judged based on my parents, I’d probably have been locked up the minute I landed on Earth.”

Alex pursed her lips together, her heart cracking silently as it did every time she was reminded of the things Kara had been through, things she couldn’t even begin to imagine. “Come here,” she said softly and scooted closer to her sister. Kara shuffled into her outstretched arms, tucking her head into Alex’s shoulder.

Kara sniffed and wiped at her nose with her sleeve. “Can we just stick to judging Lena Luthor by her actions? The woman supports like six children’s hospitals, for crying out loud.”

Alex laughed and lightly kissed the top of Kara’s head. “Ok, ok. If you say Lena Luthor can be trusted, then Lena Luthor can be trusted. Man that feels weird to say, but I’m on your side, Kara. Always.” Kara smiled into the fabric of Alex’s sweater, so grateful that of all the possible siblings she could have had on Earth, she somehow was lucky enough to have gotten Alex Danvers. “You sure know how to play the ‘last daughter of Krypton’ card, don’t you?” Alex murmured, giving Kara a gentle squeeze.

Kara breathed a quiet laugh through her nose. “You’d play it all the time too, if you had a trump card like that.”

“Only because I hate losing.” Alex stroked her hand up and down Kara’s arm absently, her mind wandering for a few moments. She frowned slightly when she happened upon a thought: “so if you weren’t investigating Lena Luthor, what were you doing with her?”

Kara was glad that Alex couldn’t see her face from where she was sitting, because she could feel her cheeks grow hot as the blush spread across her cheeks. “Oh, you know…just, um, just talking,” she mumbled.

“Oh, just talking hmm? You know Maggie and I loved just talking…before we discovered how great making out was, that is.”

Alex!” Kara groaned, squirming to get out of her sister’s embrace, but Alex just tightened her grip. Kara could easily have broken free, but she begrudgingly let Alex win this one.

Alex chuckled victoriously and squeezed Kara affectionately before letting her sit up straight. “So tell me, what exactly do a Super and a Luthor have to talk about?”

Kara sighed and reached for her mug once again, tracing her finger over the rim. “Just the usual, you know, sussing out if we’re destined to be mortal enemies or not.”

“Sounds like a totally normal conversation.”

“Hmm,” Kara hummed thoughtfully and sipped from her drink before speaking again. “I saved her life about a week ago. Someone tried to kill her; she said Lex sent the assassin. Which is yet another reason I believe her when she says she’s not like her brother.”

Alex blinked at Kara in alarm. “And when were you going to tell me about this?”

“Uhh, now?”

“Wrong answer!” Alex exclaimed and proceeded to assault Kara with a cushion, Kara barely protecting her tea from the attack.

“She asked me not to say anything!” Kara protested once Alex had relinquished her weapon.

“I’m your sister, that doesn’t apply to me.”

Kara sighed and nodded in defeat. “You’re right, you’re right, I’m sorry. I just needed some time to process it myself.”

“So someone is out there trying to kill Lena Luthor. Now that she’s on your turf, that makes it your problem, doesn’t it?”

Kara leaned back into the couch, chewing thoughtfully on the pad of her thumb. “She thinks she can take care of herself, but I don’t know…I only just got there in time, Alex. I have to protect her. No matter what.”

Kara’s mouth was set in a grim line, and when Alex looked into Kara’s eyes she saw a determination burning that she knew could not be stopped until she knew for sure Lena was safe.

“She rides home on her motorcycle after work every night,” Kara continued. “I can’t believe she’s not being more careful, that’s how they got to her last time. So…I’ve been flying overhead when she rides home whenever I can, to make sure she gets there safe,” Kara admitted. She remembered something in alarm and checked the clock on the wall. “It’s almost midnight. She usually leaves the office around this time; I have to go.”

“Kara—“ Alex began to question, but before she could protest, Kara was at the window in her Supergirl outfit. Alex knew it was pointless to argue—not when Kara’s eyes burned like that—her sister’s mind was made up. “This is crazy, you know that right?”

Kara smiled softly in response. “Like I said, no matter what. Thank you for coming over, Alex. I really needed this. I love you.” With that, Supergirl disappeared from the room, leaving Alex alone in Kara’s apartment.

Alex sighed and sat back down on the couch, taking the remnants of the box of doughnuts into her lap. “Welp. Looks like it’s just you and me.”

Chapter Text

“Are you being paid for all this?” Lena asked, looking over her laptop to where Supergirl sat on her couch.

Sometimes she just couldn’t believe that she could have National City’s hero sitting in her office like it was the most normal thing in the world, but somehow it kept on happening. Supergirl had been back more than a few times since their first meeting at her office. Sometimes she was only there for a few minutes before being called away to some hero emergency, and sometimes she stayed until Lena went home. Lena far preferred those nights, as selfish as she felt to admit it.

“Huh?” Supergirl broke focus from the tablet she held in her hands. She had been completing a survey for Lena for one of her projects; Lena wanted an alien perspective on a new marketing campaign L-Corp was going to launch.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t distract you from the survey.”

“It’s ok, I was just about finished.” Supergirl input one last piece of information before setting the tablet aside on Lena’s coffee table. She stood up from the couch and stretched her arms tall above her head.

Lena blinked as she was offered a fantastic view of Supergirl’s body, marvelling at the way her super suit managed to accentuate every individual muscle on the Kryptonian. She felt her mouth go dry and forced herself to look back up to Supergirl’s face—which was kind of pointless, as it was a whole different kind of perfect.

This crush she had developed on Supergirl was getting ridiculous. Ever since Supergirl came to her balcony after saving her life she couldn't get thoughts of her out of her head. Her mind wandered during meetings, thinking of blonde hair and a red cape, daydreaming that she was flying through the air in Kryptonian arms...It was almost too much, and had been terrible for her productivity, but productivity be damned. It made sense, really. She was a powerful woman; she was drawn to powerful things, always had been. But never like this. This was just embarrassing.

“What were you saying?” Supergirl asked, her voice cutting through Lena’s brief fantastical thoughts. “About me getting paid or something?”

Lena cleared her throat and pulled focus back to her laptop. “I mean are you being paid for all the, ah, ‘heroing’ you do? Are you on the government’s payroll somewhere?”

Supergirl laughed and planted her hands on her hips, her chest swelling with pride. “Of course not. I don’t do this for money, I do this because it’s the right thing to do.”

“I should have expected as much. Come have a look at this.” Supergirl crossed the room to stand behind Lena at her chair.

“What am I looking at, exactly?” she asked, quirking a brow. An intricate spreadsheet covered in numbers, calculations, and graphs was displayed on Lena’s screen.

“I calculated how much money you save the city. Between increasing emergency service efficiency, preventing and fixing serious infrastructural damage, and stopping enemies from destroying the city every other week, you’re saving National City $7.8 million per quarter on average. That’s even accounting for damage you’ve inadvertently caused while fighting and for the pull effect you have on adversaries.”

Lena pointed to specific graphs and tables on her spreadsheet as she spoke, but Supergirl could only stare at Lena herself, an affectionate smile spreading across her lips.

“I know a fantastic lawyer,” Lena continued, “he could negotiate an excellent deal for you with the city council if you’d let him. Attractive salary, paid vacation, health insurance with all the perks, great dental plan—“ Lena cut her words short as she felt the weight of Supergirl’s hands landing gently on her shoulders, her face lowering down to rest just beside her cheek. Lena’s breath caught in her throat—they’d gotten closer as Supergirl spent more time with her, but she didn’t think they’d ever been quite this close. She could feel Supergirl’s breath tickling against her cheek and her warmth radiating from her skin.

“Is this what you’ve been working so hard on?” Supergirl asked, and Lena could hear the smile in her voice.

“I actually did this in my free time…to relax,” Lena mumbled.

Supergirl laughed, and the sound made Lena’s heart soar. “Lena Luthor, your mind is incredible.” She sighed and straightened up to lean back on Lena’s desk. Lena angled her chair to face her, craving the contact she’d just had for the briefest of moments, though she tried not to let it show on her face.

“I just want you to get what you’re worth. You risk your life for this city every single day; you should at least be compensated,” she protested with a frown.

Supergirl smiled warmly and shook her head. “It doesn’t work like that. I don’t save people to be rewarded; I save people because I can. And because I can, I always, always will.”

“That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get anything. I mean, don’t you have rent to pay?”

Supergirl fixed her with a thoughtful look before pushing herself off of Lena’s desk. “Come with me.”

It took Lena a second to realise Supergirl had her hand outstretched to her, but once she caught on, she slipped her hand into hers and allowed herself to be led out to the balcony. Supergirl didn’t let go once they were outside, a fact for which Lena was very grateful.

“I never got into this because I wanted to be rich or famous or anything like that. In fact, there was a time when I thought I was going to keep my powers a secret for the rest of my life,” Supergirl admitted. “But then I started helping people and it just felt so good. It was like…every person I saved helped fill this hole inside of me. It was like I was getting back some of what I’d lost.”

“Krypton.”

Like everyone in National City, Lena knew the story. The story of how Supergirl had been sent to Earth to protect her cousin as Krypton was dying, but had gotten stuck in the Phantom Zone while he became Superman. Whenever Lena heard the story, she always thought the Phantom Zone was the scariest part. Being trapped in cold, timeless space, completely alone for years…Lena’s chest tightened whenever she thought of it. Supergirl must have been as incredible as everyone believed to have survived that; Lena knew she would have lost her mind had it been her.

But what she realised she often forgot was that Supergirl had lost her whole world. Her family, her friends, her culture, and everything she knew. To have the strength to not only live through that but to carry on and dedicate her life to helping the people of the planet she had crashed on—that was a feat more incredible than anyone ever gave her credit for, Lena herself included.

“Krypton,” Supergirl affirmed, swallowing hard. “That’s why I do this. Helping people is what I was sent here to do. It gives my life and what happened to me meaning. If I were to accept money or anything like that, it would just taint everything. It wouldn’t be real.”

Lena nodded slowly as she understood what Supergirl was saying. Supergirl wasn’t just a hero for the sake of it: it helped her process the trauma of what happened to her. Just like Lena was trying to do good to redeem her family name. They both had the power to change the world—Supergirl with her superpowers and heroic heart, and Lena with her resources and her brilliance. Lena knew she could never be as purely good as Supergirl, but she understood now that it was a choice Supergirl made every day. It would have been so easy for Supergirl give in to rage and pain. Helping people saved Supergirl just as much as she saved others.

She looked up at Supergirl, her heart full of admiration and respect, and took her other hand in her own. “I understand, Supergirl,” she said softly, and Supergirl gave her a look that said that was all she needed: to be understood.

They stood there for a few moments, looking at each other, and Lena didn’t think she could imagine a colour more blue than that of Supergirl’s eyes. Everything in her body screamed at her to close the distance between them—she hadn’t felt anything like this since her days of self-discovery in boarding school. The feeling scared her, and she had to do something—anything—to stop herself.

“So,” she found herself saying, her voice cracking slightly. “Does this mean you don’t like my spreadsheet?”

Supergirl blinked at her for a second, then threw her head back and laughed. “Oh Lena,” she said and pulled Lena in towards herself. Lena had replaced her heels with more comfortable flats for the night, so her head tucked perfectly underneath Supergirl’s chin. “I love your spreadsheet,” Supergirl murmured. “In fact, I want it framed and hung on my wall.”

Lena, meanwhile, was trying not to have a heart attack as she found herself enveloped in Supergirl’s strong arms. Her own arms automatically circled low around Supergirl’s hips, and she revelled in the smooth textures of her super suit. Supergirl smelled of fresh air and cut grass and a slight hint of vanilla, which Lena hadn’t expected but certainly welcomed. If she had to describe it, Lena would say it was like being surrounded by a cloud—a really buff cloud.

“I can have that done for you,” she mumbled. Supergirl chuckled in response, the sound rumbling low in her throat. Lena closed her eyes, feeling the rise and fall of her chest and taking in her smell and trying as best as she could to memorise what it felt like to be in Supergirl’s arms. She knew it was only a matter of time before Supergirl would have to leave her, but for now she had this, and this was more than enough.

Chapter Text

Kara groaned, her ribs splinting with the effort of flying. The fight with the hulking alien had very nearly broken her. If it hadn’t been for Alex and her arsenal of huge guns, Kara probably wouldn’t have been so lucky to finish the fight mostly intact. Still, thanks to Alex’s help, the destructive alien was subdued and headed for the DEO where it would live out the rest of its days in one of the cells.

Kara felt completely wrecked after the fight. She knew she should have been flying to the DEO to recharge under the solar lamps, but a strong pull in the pit of her stomach was leading her to the familiar building crested with a large L. She sighed in dismay, however, when she saw that the building was completely dark. Lena must have gone home already.

Kara pushed down the panic rising within her. Following Lena home to make sure she arrived safely had become somewhat of a ritual for her: it relaxed her to know Lena was home safe. Not only that, but she found there was no one she wanted to see more in this moment. She quickly changed course, following the path she’d taken many times before to Lena’s apartment.

Floating outside Lena’s apartment building, Kara came to the dreadful realisation that she didn’t know which apartment Lena lived in. She winced in pain as she felt broken bones fusing back together, bringing tears to her eyes. Sure, she healed infinitely faster than humans, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell.

She forced herself to focus and used her super hearing to search through the apartment building, seeking out the unique rhythm and timbre of Lena’s heartbeat. Her eyes snapped open when she finally caught hold of it, and was relieved to hear it beating steadily with sleep. Kara allowed the sound to soothe her for a moment, but a stabbing pain in her side didn’t allow her to relax for long.

She headed for the penthouse apartment (really, she shouldn’t have been surprised that that one was Lena’s) and tumbled less than gracefully on the balcony. With an exhausted sigh, she pulled herself up from the ground and made for the door.

Drawing from the very last of her strength, she used her heat vision to blast the handle clean off, and the door swung open. She made a mental note to apologise about that later and to arrange for Lena to have the door replaced. While she was at it, she’d make sure to install some alarms; breaking in was way too easy.

Kara stumbled into the apartment with leaden feet. Fumbling around in the dark, she knocked over something that must have been made of glass, because it smashed loudly as it fell to the floor.

“Shoot,” she cursed under her breath and made for the wall in search of a light. Just as her fingers were about to make contact with the light switch, Kara felt herself being jerked backwards. She was spun around and violently pushed up against the wall, her head exploding with pain as her arm was pinned against her back and she felt the unmistakable shape of the barrel of a gun digging into the base of her spine.

“Give me one reason I shouldn’t kill you right now.” Lena Luthor’s voice was low, a menacing growl, as she seethed the words into Kara’s ear.

“Lena!” Kara gasped, devoid of the strength required to free herself from Lena’s firm grasp. “Lena, it’s me, Ka—I mean Supergirl!”

Kara felt Lena’s grip loosen slightly as she hesitated. “Supergirl?” she asked, clearly surprised. She must have realised it was her, because she quickly released Kara and took a step backwards. Kara groaned as the pressure was removed from her back and she turned around to face Lena.

Lena quickly set the gun down and flicked on a lamp, filling the room with soft orange light. Through the pain that clouded Kara’s vision, she could see Lena was in pyjamas and staring at her with wide, green eyes.

“Hi,” Kara managed, smiling wanly.

“Supergirl, what are you doing here?” Lena must have noticed how broken Kara was, how completely opposite she was to the unwavering, stoic figure she was used to, as her eyes widened even further with a gasp. “What happened to you? Are you hurt?”

“Nothing that won’t heal.” Kara inhaled sharply as the pain stabbed into her ribs once again. She staggered forward and Lena caught her under the arm, propping her up as she led her over to the couch. Kara let out a long sigh of relief when she finally settled down onto the couch, feeling every muscle in her body contract and relax. She closed her eyes and distantly felt Lena pull an armchair up before sitting down by her side.

“What happened?” Lena finally asked.

“Big alien,” Kara grunted by way of explanation. “Really put my indestructibility to the test. I’ll be fine though,” she insisted, grimacing as one of her ribs knitted itself back into one piece. “I’ll be good as new by the time the sun rises tomorrow.”

Lena pressed her lips together, saying nothing. Her eyes skated over Kara’s person, cataloguing every imperfection and defect that marked her body. She was covered in dust and bits of gravel from being pummelled into the road. There was no blood—her impenetrable skin remained intact as far as Lena could see—but angry patches of purple and red coloured Kara’s hands, chest, and face, and presumably the rest of her body underneath her suit.

“You really got your ass kicked, didn’t you?” she murmured.

Kara laughed, immediately regretting it with a wince. “It happens.”

Slowly Lena reached out and slipped her hand under Kara’s, tracing her thumb over her discoloured knuckles. She watched in fascination as, slowly but surely, the colours changed as Kara’s body worked to heal itself. Kara sighed, as close to relaxed as she could be, finding comfort in the feeling of Lena’s gentle touch.

“Why did you come here? Shouldn’t you be in a hospital or something?” Lena asked, her quiet voice through the dark just keeping Kara tethered to the plane of consciousness.

“I just need to rest,” Kara insisted weakly. “And maybe do some sunbaking tomorrow. I just…I wanted to see you, Lena. I needed to make sure you were safe.”

Lena sat back, blinking her eyes in alarm. “Make sure I was safe? Just look at the state of you!”

Kara gathered up whatever strength she had left in her to shift onto her side to fix Lena with a look. “You might have forgotten your brother is trying to kill you, but I haven’t.”

A frown wrinkled Lena’s brow. “What makes you think I’ve forgotten?”

Kara's face twisted in frustration. She definitely had thoughts on this particular matter. “You should have a security detail on you at all times, for one. But instead you continue riding that damned sexy death trap of a motorcycle at all hours of the night. I’m surprised you even wear a helmet,” she said sarcastically. “And for another, your apartment was stupidly easy to break into. You don’t even have an alarm! Sorry about your door, by the way.”

“I’m forty-two stories up!” Lena exclaimed, unable to believe what she was hearing. “What is Lex going to do, send some guy with suction pads strapped to his hands and knees to scale the building?”

“Maybe! Or, like, parachute down from a helicopter or something, I don’t know. You have to be prepared for anything.”

“I managed to get the drop on you, didn’t I?” Lena pouted stubbornly.

Kara scowled. “I’m practically helpless right now; it doesn’t count.” She sighed, the effort of arguing with Lena exhausting her completely. She took Lena’s hand in both of her own and held it over her stomach, stroking the back of her palm and fingers. After a moment, she opened her eyes and looked at Lena.

“I just couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you. You’re too important to me.”

If Kara had the energy, she would have surprised herself with how forward she was being. She was never this direct about how she felt about someone, but right at this moment she just needed to get the words out.

Lena went quiet, seemingly also caught off guard by Kara’s statement. She gazed at the Kryptonian on her couch and concentrated only on the feeling of her fingertips on her skin, the intimacy of the gesture sending tiny thrills up and down her arms.

“You broke my door?” Lena finally said quietly, the sound shattering the fragile silence that had fallen around them.

“Mm,” Kara murmured in response as Lena’s voice dragged her back from the brink of unconsciousness. “I’ll take care of it…my people will call your people,” she mumbled loosely.

Lena hummed her consent, then gave a small smile when she thought of something else Kara had said. “And you think my motorbike is sexy?”

Kara’s lips twitched into a hint of a smirk. “You heard what I said.”

Lena breathed a short laugh, softening completely. “Maybe you’re right about the alarms,” she finally admitted. “I’ll look into it.”

“Good. Thank you,” Kara said, relieved. Blackness pooled at the corners of her mind, the weight of sleep pressing heavy on every facet of her being. She vaguely felt Lena reach a hand out and sweep her hair away from her face, neatly tucking it behind her ear.

“You need to rest,” she heard Lena say, though her voice sounded so very far away.

“Stay with me,” she managed, her voice thick with fatigue.

“I will. I’m here, Supergirl.”

Those words were the last thing Kara needed in order to release her grip on consciousness. All at once, she slipped away, finally allowing herself to fall into the arms of darkness.

//

The sun was peaking over the horizon when Kara woke. Its light filtered lazily in through the cracks in Lena’s blinds, illuminating dust particles that floated softly through the air.

Kara slowly lifted her eyes open, momentarily confused as to her whereabouts. Then, memories of the night before came flooding back and she remembered exactly where she was: Lena Luthor’s couch, in Lena Luthor’s apartment, where she had spent the night. Her eyes darted around wildly, finally coming to rest when they landed on the figure to the side of her.

Lena Luthor sat contorted on a small armchair, her legs tucked up to her chest. Her torso slumped over to the side, where her head rested on her outstretched arm. She looked completely exhausted, and yet so beautiful as the morning light hit her face, with her brows creased ever so slightly and her lips parted in a tiny ‘o’.

Kara’s heart pained at sight, and at the thought that Lena must have slept there by her side all night. She pushed herself into an upright position, and was relieved to find that she felt like she was back to her normal self again.

Turning back to Lena, she gently scooped her up into her arms, being as careful as she could not to disturb her sleep. Lena made a small noise, but didn’t wake, and tucked her head in under Kara’s chin. Kara could feel Lena’s lips grazing against her neck, her warm breath playing across her skin as she carried her into her room and was overcome with affection for the woman in her arms.

Lena’s bed was huge; a complete exaggeration of pillows and comforters piled high on a king-size mattress. It was all Kara could do to stop herself from chuckling at the nest Lena had made for herself. The covers were thrown aside from when Lena had gotten up to investigate Kara’s less-than-stealthy entrance, so it was easy to slip Lena back into bed.

Kara set her down gently and pulled the covers back over her. Lena barely stirred throughout the entire transition; she must have been completely wiped out.

Kara straightened up and stood there for a few moments, unable to pull her eyes away from the sleeping woman just yet. She couldn’t evade the truth any longer. She had feelings for Lena Luthor—real, unescapable feelings for this beautiful, brilliant, complicated woman. The thought of it—of even the possibility of being with her—both terrified and thrilled her. For the moment, she wasn’t quite sure which feeling was stronger.

Lena whined slightly in her sleep and pulled one of her many cushions into her chest, disturbing Kara from her thoughts. She needed to make herself scarce. With one last look, she disappeared from the room, and within seconds she was flying through the air.

Kara’s skin prickled with warmth as she was bathed in the morning sun’s rays, and a smile formed on her lips as she felt herself recharging. Her neck still burned where Lena’s lips had grazed the skin, the memory pulling her smile higher up on her cheeks.

Her strongly beating heart faltered when she realised how complicated this made things. She knew she felt something for Lena, and she was pretty sure Lena felt something for her too—well, for Supergirl anyway. But Supergirl wasn’t Kara’s alter ego for love; she was her alter ego for strictly crime fighting purposes. This was a problem.

But no matter, that was just a small detail. Already Kara was forming a genius plan that was going to fix absolutely everything.

Chapter Text

“That is the dumbest plan I have ever heard,” Alex’s voice came in over Kara’s comLink.

Kara frowned in irritation. “What do you mean? It’s a brilliant plan! Whoa—“ Kara dodged to the right as the giant robot that had been terrorising Chinatown very nearly caught her with its fist.

“Watch your three!” Alex chastised.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m all over it,” Kara said and gave the robot a blast of her heat vision. “Anyway, what’s wrong with my plan? If Lena Luthor can be into Supergirl, getting her to fall for Kara Danvers should be easy! We’re the same person!”

“Need I remind you that the whole point of a secret identity is that you’re not the same person?”

“That’s irrelevant,” Kara mumbled and grunted as she swooped in to catch a falling post just before it crushed a group of schoolchildren.

“You saved us! Thank you, Supergirl!” the teacher cried.

“Don’t mention it.” Kara flashed a grin before taking off and unleashing a series of devastating punches upon the robot.

“I think you’ll find it’s a pretty big wrinkle in your plan. You and Supergirl couldn’t be more different.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kara asked defensively. “What does Supergirl have that Kara Danvers doesn’t?”

“Well…for one thing, she has super alien powers. Oh, and she’s got perfect hair, a sweet outfit, a slammin’ bod, and did I mention she can fly?”

Kara growled low in her throat and released a decimating beam from her eyes, nailing the weak spot Winn had identified earlier, causing the robot to short circuit and crumple down to the ground.

“How am I supposed to compete with that?” she moaned helplessly.

“Sorry to interrupt, Danvers’s,” Winn’s voice sounded in her ear, “but Kara it sounds like you might be jealous of yourself.”

“I am not,” Kara protested indignantly.

“You must really like Lena,” Alex mused.

“Of course I do, have you seen her perfect face?” Kara sighed in exasperation, forcing a smile as she touched down to the ground where a crowd stood cheering for her.

“A Super and a Luthor. How Shakespearian of you,” Winn teased.

“Butt out, Winn,” Kara scowled. She set to work rounding up the pieces of the robot and doing what she could to clean up the damage caused by the fight.

“Message received, Winn out.”

Kara heard Alex sigh on the other end of the line. “She can’t know who you are, Kara,” she said, a serious tone encroaching on her voice.

“It’s too risky, I know, you don’t have to tell me that. Besides, I’m not ready for her to know that about me either. Not yet at least. I just…”

“You really like her. Trust me, I’ve been there, I know the feeling.”

Kara nodded glumly. “It’s not just that. I need to know she ‘s not just there for the cape and the powers and, as you said, the perfect hair. I need to know if she likes me, the real me, without all of that…pizzazz.”

Alex went quiet on the other line. “She’d be crazy not to like you, Kara,” she said after a pause. “Do what you’ve got to do. I’ll be here if it all implodes.”

Kara sighed with a small smile, relieved to at least have the support of her sister. “Thank you, Alex. And thanks for saying ‘if’ rather than when.”

“They don’t call me Alex ‘supportive’ Danvers for nothing.”

“Nobody calls you that.”

“Just clean up the robot, Supergirl.”

//

Kara perched on the edge of her seat in Noonan’s, nervously twisting at the sleeves of her cardigan. Her heart tap-danced against her ribcage in anticipation as she scanned the windows for a glimpse of dark hair. She gripped her hands around her coffee cup, empty after her second drink, and went over what she was going to say in an effort to mentally prepare herself.

There was no way, however, that she could have prepared herself for what she saw next.

The black motorcycle rumbled to a stop just outside of Noonan’s, right in front of the window where Kara was sitting. Kara’s eyes bulged and tracked upwards, from Lena Luthor’s black riding boots to her tight-fitting dark pants that hugged her in all the right places, to her black leather jacket. It was wildly different from her standard corporate fashion, but this look did something for Kara that she didn’t have the words to describe.

Kara stared, open-mouthed from the window as Lena dismounted the bike and removed her helmet, a curtain of dark hair spilling out as she shook her head free. The CEO’s eyes scanned the café briefly, and lit up with a smile when they landed on Kara. Lena gave a cheerful wave and headed for the door, and it was at that exact moment that Kara’s coffee cup exploded in her hands.

“Crap!” Kara squeaked, bolting up from her seat. She quickly swept the pieces of the obliterated mug into her handbag, straightening up just in time to turn around and face Lena with a flustered smile.

“Kara!” Lena said happily, “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.” She said as she settled into the seat opposite her.

“N-not at all! I only just got here really,” Kara stammered, wondering how on earth she ever managed to get a sentence out straight to the woman as Supergirl. “Thanks for eating me out—“ she began, her eyes widening in panic as she realised she’d misspoken. “Meeting! Meeting me out, I meant to say. I know you must be busy with meetings and reports and other business type things,” she over-corrected, her face quickly turning redder than Krypton’s sun.

Lena simply quirked an eyebrow in amusement and slipped off her jacket. “It’s no trouble at all, Kara. I could definitely use a social break.”

To Kara’s relief, she didn’t draw attention to her Freudian slip, but Kara still felt like flying away into space or bursting into flames—she hadn’t made up her mind yet as to which one she preferred.

Kara tried her best to recompose herself as they ordered coffees. She felt like she was completely coming apart over this woman; it was all she could do to not slap herself to pull it together.

“So, how have you been, Kara?” Lena asked, folding her hands under her chin. “I’ve been reading your articles. The piece you did on the teachers’ strike was very moving. You’re shaping up to be quite the reporter.”

“Really?” Kara hurriedly adjusted her glasses, “you think so?”

“Of course I do,” Lena smiled genially. “I’m your number one fan.”

It was almost starting to frustrate Kara how Lena knew exactly what to say to turn the Girl of Steel into a pile of jelly.

“I especially love the pieces you do on Supergirl,” Lena continued, “do you really get to interview her?”

Kara’s face fell as Lena steered the conversation to the very place she had been hoping to avoid. “Well, yeah, sometimes I get a couple of quotes off her for the story,” she replied reluctantly.

“What do you think of her?” she asked, and Kara was shocked by how much Lena resembled a schoolgirl with a crush when she talked about Supergirl. Part of her couldn’t help but feel flattered, but mostly she was annoyed that this wasn’t exactly going the way she had planned.

“She’s—she’s ok, I guess. Very, uh, heroic? And the flying thing she does, that’s pretty neat,” Kara mumbled vaguely, but luckily Lena didn’t seem to be listening too closely.

“Does she…does she ever talk about me?”

Kara blinked at the question, faltering under Lena’s keen eyes. “I don’t—that’s not—Lena can we just not talk about Supergirl for a second?” she asked, frustration creeping into her voice.

It was Lena’s turn to blush and she shifted in her seat. She cleared her throat and spoke more calmly, her standard cool demeanour sliding back into place. “Of course, Kara, I apologise. What is it you would like to talk about?”

Kara adjusted her glasses with both hands and drew in a deep breath. It was now or never: the moment of truth.

“I actually wanted to ask you something. You know CatCo is having an event this Saturday?” she asked, glad she managed to keep her voice steady.

“I do, I received my invitation last week.”

“That’s great! So you’ll be going?”

“Well, I hadn’t made up my mind. I don’t have anyone to go with, yet,” Lena said, and the way Lena looked down into her coffee cup with a small smile when she said ‘yet’ simultaneously made Kara’s heart melt and filled her with hope.

“That’s what I wanted to ask you. I was…I was wondering if you’d like to go with me. I’m not usually a huge fan of these parties, but if you came with me we could make fun of rich white guys and we could dance—I mean, I’m pretty terrible but I bet you’d be great—and we could eat food—CatCo always has the best appetisers, like these little shrimp things with cream cheese…anyway, what I’m trying to say is will you be my date?” Kara rushed to get the words out, her heart practically in her throat as she laid it all on the table.

Silence hung in the air for what was literally only a moment, but to Kara it felt like an eternity in the Phantom Zone.

“Oh,” Lena finally said, “Oh Kara,” and she looked up at her with—oh Rao, with pity, she was looking at her with pity, and for the second time that afternoon Kara imagined herself shooting off into the sky leaving a comical Kara-shaped hole in Noonan’s’ ceiling.

“You’re so sweet,” Lena continued, every word driving what felt like a kryptonite dagger further into her chest. “I’m really flattered, but I was actually going to ask someone else.”

“Who?” Kara blurted out before she could stop herself, then buried her lips into her coffee to prevent herself from saying anything else.

“Well…I was going to ask Supergirl,” Lena said, almost sheepishly.

Kara sputtered into her coffee cup, coughing a few times before managing to swallow the liquid down. “Supergirl?” she wheezed, “really?”

“I know, it sounds crazy,” Lena said, waving a hand dismissively before looking hopefully up at Kara. “Is it really that crazy though? We’ve been spending a lot of time together, and, I mean I don’t know if I’m imagining it or not, but I’ve been getting the sense that she feels…something.”

Kara swallowed and instinctively touched her glasses. “I mean, I don’t know Lena, I can’t speak for Supergirl you know, you’d have to ask her yourself,” she mumbled, dejection colouring her voice.

Lena grimaced apologetically. “I am so sorry, Kara. You just asked me out and here I am rambling on about Supergirl, you must think I’m just the most insensitive person on the planet. I just haven’t had anyone to talk to about this, and it’s driving me a little crazy. Maybe it’s just a crush, I don’t know, but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like there’s something more...” Lena trailed off, quickly realising, “and I’m doing it again, aren’t I?”

Kara bit the inside of her cheek, feeling completely torn. Part of her was crushed by Lena’s rejection, while the other part of her was absolutely thrilled to hear Lena talking about Supergirl this way. The whole thing was really doing a number on her head.

She shook her head gently. “It’s ok, really. I understand. If I’m going to be rejected for anyone, I mean, it may as well be Supergirl. She is pretty incredible,” she murmured pensively.

Lena smiled warmly and reached out to place her hand over Kara’s. “I’m glad you understand, Kara. I value you so much as a friend, I would hate to lose that.”

Kara’s brow relaxed under Lena’s touch and she found herself mirroring her smile. “You haven’t lost me. I’ll always be your friend,” she said sincerely. “You and Supergirl…you’d look great together. You’d be a real power couple. I’m sure she’ll go with you, she’d be crazy not to.”

Lena smiled at that, though Kara got the feeling that the smile wasn’t for her, Kara Danvers. It was for Supergirl.

“Thank you for saying that, Kara. You really are a great friend,” she said, and Kara tried not to grimace under the weight of the word ‘friend’. “So...if things go as I hope they will, maybe Supergirl and I will see you on Saturday?” Lena proposed, her eyebrows arching hopefully.

Kara gave Lena a strained smile as she was slowly realising the logistical nightmare this was becoming. “Yeah, sure!” she said through grit teeth. “We’ll have a great time…all three of us.”

“I can’t wait,” Lena said, positively beaming.

Kara forced a strangled laugh, the buttons of her collar suddenly feeling much too tight. “Yep, me neither. Listen, Lena, I’ve got to go, it’s a work thing, I have a, uh, a lead to follow,” she excused vaguely and started getting up from the table. “Don’t worry about paying, I have a tab here.”

“Oh, okay, sure Kara,” Lena said, looking surprised at Kara’s sudden departure. “I’ll see you Saturday then?”

“Yep, see you then, bye!” Kara called out over her shoulder and all but ran out of the café, her hands shaking. Once she was down the street, she pulled her phone out and called Alex.

“Kara! How’d it go?” Kara’s response was a strangled groan. “It totally backfired, didn’t it?”

“Big time. Total nuclear explosion, all over my face.”

Alex sighed on the other end. “Now I owe Maggie a foot rub.”

“Did Kara crash and burn? Woohoo!” Kara heard Maggie’s voice call out from the background. “I mean, sorry Little Danvers! Tough break!”

“I should have known not to bet on you; this was never going to work,” Alex muttered.

“And yet you let me do it anyway? What kind of big sister are you?” Kara moaned.

“I’m not even going to pretend it would have mattered if I had tried to stop you,” Alex deadpanned in response. “So what happened?”

Kara sighed, her stomach twisting at the thought of reliving what had just happened. “She said she was going to ask someone else to the gala. Supergirl.”

Alex was quiet.

“Alex?” Still no answer. Kara frowned. “Alex, are you laughing?”

“I’m sorry, Kara,” Alex finally responded through laughter she was clearly trying, and failing, to suppress. “It’s just—you just got rejected for yourself, I can’t not laugh at that.”

Kara winced at the reality of her situation. “It gets worse. She said I’m a ‘really great friend’.”

“Oh God, she didn’t. Kara Danvers, you are deep in friend territory. Maybe you should ask Winn about how to survive in there, I’m sure he has more than a few pointers.”

“Not helping, Alex,” Kara seethed. “But now I have an even bigger problem. She’s going to ask Supergirl to the gala, and she expects Supergirl and Kara Danvers to be there. At the same time,” she whispered.

“Hold on, Supergirl isn’t actually going to agree to go, is she? Are you?” Kara went quiet this time, and she could feel the weight of Alex’s judgement hanging in the static between them. “Kara,” Alex said sternly.

“I want to go with her,” she finally mumbled in a small voice.

“Kara!”

“What?” Kara protested indignantly. “If Kara Danvers can’t be with her, then why can’t Supergirl? Maybe fighting crime and defeating aliens isn’t all I want for my life, did you ever think about that?”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Alex muttered, and Kara could practically hear her rolling her eyes through the phone.

“It’s fine, I’ve got this under control. Here’s the new plan: we see how this plays out between Supergirl and Lena, and we deal with the whole ‘I’m actually Kara Danvers, the unlovable loser’ issue later. That sounds like a great plan to me, are you with me?” she asked, her voice verging on manic at this point.

“You’ve officially lost it, Kara.”

“Besides,” Kara pressed on stubbornly, “what if someone tries to attack Lena at the party? Supergirl should be there, for protection at least.”

“How selfless of you,” Alex drawled sarcastically, which Kara chose to ignore.

“Oh Aleex,” Maggie sang in the background of the call, “these feet aren’t going to rub themselves. They’re so sore from wading through sewerage all day on the job.”

Kara wrinkled her nose in disgust and Alex shuddered. “I gotta go, Kara. I have a pair of feet to rub.” She sighed, and the official big sister tone settled into her voice. “I don’t want to tell you what to do, Kara, you should be allowed to make your own mistakes.”

“You don’t know it’s a mistake—“

“You should be allowed to make your own mistakes,” Alex repeated firmly, “just be careful, ok? Don’t forget that your heart isn’t bulletproof.”

Kara huffed sadly, dropping her head. “I think I know that all too well.”

“I love you, Kara, I’m here for whatever you need.”

“Thanks, Alex, love you too. Just…maybe stop making bets on me, for now.”

“I’ll always bet on you, kiddo. Even if it means having to rub the sewer monster’s feet every time you fall on your face.”

Kara laughed despite herself, said goodbye and hung up the phone. She took a deep breath in, thoughts swirling around in her mind.

This was all a huge mess, but Kara realised she couldn’t blame Lena for turning her down. Lena was right, there was something between her and Supergirl. It was precious and it was fragile, and if Kara had to give up being Kara Danvers for some time while she figured out exactly what it was, then so be it.

//

The sun was setting when Lena stood on the balcony of her office, turning the whole world a brilliant shade of orange. She held a drink in her hand, and boy did she need one after the day she’d just had.

Kara Danvers asking her out had come completely out of left field—but, now that Lena thought about it, she should have seen it coming. The reporter always got so flustered around her, but Lena just thought that was the way she was, or perhaps that it was some sort of interviewing tactic. The last thing she had expected was that Kara Danvers had some romantic interest in her.

Perhaps, in another life, Lena might have been able to walk down that path. Lena had to admit, Kara was completely adorable with the glasses and the sweaters and the dimpled smile. And when she did manage to cobble a sentence together, Kara was a funny and interesting and deeply intelligent woman.

But she was just so innocent and optimistic about the world. Lena had seen and been through enough to know that that innocence wouldn’t last long around her if she got too close. The Luthor name corrupted anything pure and good. Kara Danvers wouldn’t stand a chance.

In another life, maybe, where Lena wasn’t a Luthor and she wasn’t already falling for one mysterious, caped hero. Ironically, it appeared to Lena that only a Super would be strong enough to carry the weight of her name. Maybe Supergirl could help her lift it off her shoulders; she’d been carrying it alone for so very long, and her back was starting to ache.

“Lena?”

The sound of her name pulled her from her musings, and she looked out to see Supergirl floating in front of her, just a few metres out from her balcony. “Supergirl,” she said with a warm smile. “I was just thinking about you.”

“That’s a coincidence. I was thinking about you too.”

Lena bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from grinning like some sort of fool with a crush. “It’s good to see you’re back in fighting shape again. You really worried me for a minute last time I saw you,” she said softly. The image of Supergirl, lying beaten and worn on her couch, had barely left her mind since that night. 

Supergirl drifted downwards to alight softly on the balcony. “I’m sorry, Lena, I didn’t mean for you to worry,” she apologised with a frown. “I really shouldn’t have gone over there, I don’t know what came over me—“ Supergirl cut her sentence short when Lena’s hand reached up to her face. Lena’s thumb traced along her cheekbone, and she examined its path with intense curiosity.

“Amazing,” she murmured, “you were so bruised right here and now…it’s like you weren’t even touched.”

Supergirl blushed under her hand and shrugged dismissively. “Perks of my alien biology. I don’t get pimples either.”

Lena breathed a laugh and brought her hand back to her glass. “Don’t worry about worrying me. I’m glad you came.”

“I just wanted to see you.”

“I know. Apparently you also wanted to break my door and nag me about my security,” Lena said, quirking an eyebrow.

Supergirl chuckled and crossed her arms defiantly. “I think you mean lack of security?” she challenged.

“Not anymore. The agents you sent completely fitted the place out with state of the art tech. I doubt even Supergirl could break in now,” Lena said with a sly grin.

“Sounds like a challenge,” Supergirl smirked, a mischievous gleam in her eye.

Lena scoffed and sipped at her drink. She quickly moved to change the subject, knowing that she was very much capable of flirting her way into dangerous territory if she continued with that conversation.

“I must say I’m surprised to see you this early; usually your visits are much later. Not that I mind, of course. Sunlight suits you,” she said and took a moment to admire the way the sunlight glinted off of her golden locks.

Supergirl smiled her dazzling smile at the compliment. “I suppose I just had the feeling you wanted to talk to me about something.”

Lena raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t realise telepathy was one of your powers.”

“So I’m right?”

“Well, now that you mention it, there was one thing I wanted to ask you…” Lena drew in a breath and set her glass down, steadying her hands. For a moment she couldn’t help wondering if this was how Kara had felt only a few hours earlier, and felt a stab of guilt twist at her side. She pushed the feeling down deep and concentrated on the task at hand.

“CatCo is having an event on the weekend. It’s a gala of some sort, I’m a little vague on the details but they’re usually all the same. Bit of drinking, bit of dancing, lots of forced mingling with powerful people…anyway, I’m sure it would be a whole lot more bearable if you came with me, it might even be fun. So, what do you say?” She felt completely exposed as she looked up at Supergirl anxiously.

Supergirl paused, considering Lena’s words. “Of course I’ll escort you,” she said, all business. “This is just the kind of event your enemies would use to target you. I should be there to protect you,” she said with a serious nod.

Lena’s face fell, as it seemed Supergirl misunderstood what she was asking. She changed tactics and stepped closer, tracing her fingertips over Supergirl’s forearm. “That’s not exactly what I meant, Supergirl. I was really hoping that you would come as my date,” she clarified and looked up at her through half-lidded eyes.

Supergirl’s eyes flicked down to her arm, and the corner of her lips pulled up into a smirk. “Is that right?” she asked. Strangely, she didn’t seem all that surprised, and Lena wondered if she had been teasing her before, making her work for it.

“Yes, yes it is,” she said, almost impatiently at this point.

“Well, in that case…I would be happy to.”

Lena sighed and let out a laugh when she felt relief wash over her. She hadn’t felt afraid of rejection like that since…well, since ever. “It’ll be fun, I promise. I mean, these events are usually incredibly pretentious and banal, but we can make it fun,” she said, allowing herself a flirtatious grin.

“I’m sure we can.”

“So, what are you going to wear?”

Supergirl hesitated and looked down at her suit. “Uh, this? I can put a brooch on or something,” she mumbled, tugging self-consciously at the suit’s neckline.

Lena laughed and stood in front of Supergirl, placing her hands on her shoulders where her cape met her suit. She ran her fingers over the material, thinking she could never get tired of this particular texture, and nodded approvingly. “It’s perfect,” she assured, “They do say blue goes with everything.”

Chapter Text

“Is that Lena Luthor?”

“Yes, I think it is!”

“And is that Supergirl with her?”

“Oh my, it totally is.”

The whispers and murmurs followed the pair around the party, but Lena either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Kara herself couldn’t believe she was here, at her own workplace’s gala, as Supergirl with Lena Luthor on her arm.

Lena was looking absolutely incredible in a long, silver dress. The back scooped down low, just skirting the base of her spine, and Kara found herself consciously having to resist the urge to place her hand against the exposed skin. The whole thing felt surreal. Kara couldn’t even begin to imagine the mathematical probability of every cosmic occurrence lining up just so in order to lead herself and Lena to this exact point. And yet, here they were.

“People are staring at us,” Kara whispered out of the side of her mouth into Lena’s ear.

Lena gave a small laugh. “Of course they are. A Super and a Luthor together? It’ll be the most interesting thing these people have seen all week. Don’t tell me you’re surprised, Supergirl.”

“I guess I shouldn’t be. It’s just, usually when people stare at me I’ve just put out a burning building or stopped a runaway train or something,” Kara said. She felt incredibly self-conscious with all these eyes on her, but when Lena squeezed her forearm and placed a light kiss on her cheek, all her worries just melted away.

“Don’t worry about it. You’re doing great,” she reassured. “Now, I wonder where Kara is. She said she was going to be here,” Lena said, going on her tiptoes to become even taller than her heels made her in order to look across the crowd. “Can you see her anywhere?”

“Uhh, good question,” Kara said, feigning like she was looking around.

“Can’t you use your super vision or hearing or something?”

“Oh, of course!” Kara made a show of closing her eyes, like she was listening hard, then opened her eyes with a triumphant “a-ha! She’s just inside. You wait here and I’ll go get her,” she said and before Lena could protest, she had whipped away to the inside section of the venue.

As soon as she was out of earshot, she buzzed in on her comLink. “Winn, can you hear me?”

“Loud and clear, Kara, operation Doubtfire is a go!”

“All right, let’s do this. Where is my dress?”

“Take the first hall on your left and the supply closet is the second door on your right. All your things are stashed in there.”

Kara thanked Winn and walked briskly to the closet, making sure no one saw her go inside. There, she saw a powder blue dress and her glasses folded neatly on a stool.

“You’re the best, Winn.”

“I only respond to Cupid now.”

Using her super speed, Kara changed into the dress and pinned her hair up, completing the look with her glasses before hurriedly heading back outside where Lena was waiting.

“Lena!” she said, almost over-enthusiastically.

Lena looked confused at first, then smiled when she saw Kara. “Kara, hey! You just missed Supergirl; she went inside to look for you, didn’t you see her?” Lena asked, craning her neck to look behind Kara.

“Supergirl?” Kara asked obliviously. “No, I didn’t see her. Lena, I think I would notice if Supergirl came in looking for me,” she scoffed.

“Strange…” Lena murmured with a frown.

“Anyway, how about these apps?” Kara asked quickly, plucking a potsticker from a passing waiter.

Lena couldn’t help but chuckle as Kara stuffed the entire potsticker in her mouth. “Kara, I’m really glad you came. I was worried you wouldn’t want to see me after…you know.”

“After what? Oh that? No, no, don’t worry about it Lena, I’ve forgotten all about it. Yep. I am o-v-e-r over it,” she insisted through mouthfuls.

Lena quirked an eyebrow. “Well I’m just glad we can hang out as friends. You’re pretty much the only person in this city who I can actually call my friend,” she admitted and Kara’s heart pained for her, for her loneliness. Lena sighed and shook her head, pinning on her smile once again. “Now where on earth did Supergirl go?”

Kara quickly swallowed down the rest of the posticker. “Golly—these potstickers sure are spicy!” Kara exclaimed, fanning her mouth in an exaggerated fashion. “I’m going to go get a drink, I will be right back.”

Without waiting for a response from Lena, Kara pushed her way through the crowd back inside, where she quickly sped to the closet and back out again within the space of a few seconds.

“Supergirl! I don’t believe this, Kara just went inside again!” Lena exclaimed exasperatedly as Kara re-joined her as Supergirl.

“You are joking!” she said incredulously, placing her hands on her hips.

“Yeah, she said something about a spicy potsticker.”

“Yikes, poor thing.”

“No kidding. She is acting really strangely,” Lena said with a frown. “More so than usual, anyway.” She sighed and crossed her arms, biting at the pad of her thumb. Kara was beginning to notice that she did this when she was under stress.

The guilt and exhaustion from lying was twisting away at Kara’s stomach. She knew she couldn’t keep this up for long, but all she had to do was get away one more time, come back as Kara and tell her she had a stomach ache and was going home. Then Supergirl could come back and they could enjoy the rest of the night without any more shenanigans. Perfect.

Kara frowned conspicuously, cocking her head to the side. “I think I hear something strange. I’m going to go check it out, I’ll be right back.”

“Supergirl,” Lena said and caught her hands before Kara could turn away. “Supergirl, what’s going on?” Kara was forced to look into Lena’s piercing eyes, and it felt like she’d been caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar. “Are you not enjoying yourself? Is that it? We can leave if you want to.”

Kara sighed and hung her head, the guilt eating away at her. “No, no, that’s not it. I’m having a great time, I swear. I just—just let me check that everything is safe, then I’ll come back and we can have some fun, ok?”

Lena furrowed her brow, biting the inside of her cheek. “Tonight isn’t exactly going how I imagined it,” she said in a small voice.

Kara’s face fell, hating the fact that she was disappointing Lena, but she just had to get away one more time. She took a step forward and circled her arms around her, her hands low and pressed against the small of Lena’s back. There were people all around them, but Kara paid them no mind as she lowered her forehead to rest against Lena’s.

“I’m so sorry, Lena,” she said quietly. “I just have to make sure everything is safe; I can’t let anything happen to you or anyone else at this party,” she said, hating every lied word that came from her mouth. “I’ll be right back, I promise.”

Lena hesitated, looking like she was going to argue, but reluctantly decided against it with a sigh. She placed her hands on Kara’s chest, tracing her fingertips against the stitching of her house crest. “All right. Go do what you have to do. Just come back to me soon, ok?”

Kara nodded, a promise. “I will. You won’t even notice I’m gone.” She took a couple of steps backwards, already missing the closeness of their bodies, before turning on her heel and taking off into the sky.

Before she got too far, she turned around in the air and shot back into the building through an open window to change one last time. “Just one more time, Danvers, you can do this,” she muttered to herself as she yanked on her heels.

Kara Danvers returned outside to a Lena who looked very irritated at this point. It was, quite frankly, an intimidating sight.

“Kara, there you are,” Lena said with a frown. She narrowed her eyes and examined her a little too closely. Kara panicked for a moment, adjusting her glasses to make sure she’d remembered to put them on. “I thought you were getting a drink,” Lena observed sceptically.

Kara blinked, her eyes flicking down to her clearly empty hands. “I, uh, I did get a drink and I drank it. Yep! Drank it all down because I sure was thirsty,” she lied quickly.

“Hm,” Lena hummed, resigned. “Well, you just missed Supergirl…again.”

“Did I? Man, that sure is a shame,” Kara said, forcing a smile. “Crazy how we keep missing each other, isn’t it?”

“It sure is. Unless…” Kara could clearly see the inner workings of Lena’s mind turning as something slid into place. “Of course, it all makes sense now.”

“W-what? What are you talking about?” Kara stammered, her palms becoming sweaty.

Lena’s expression softened and she touched Kara’s shoulder sympathetically. “It’s ok, Kara, I understand. I can’t believe I didn’t see this before, how could I have been so blind?” Kara’s breath caught in her throat. There was no way—absolutely no way Lena could have figured out she was Supergirl. Her disguise was foolproof!

“Seeing Supergirl and I together must be crushing you, it makes complete sense,” Lena said knowingly.

Kara released her breath with relief. She’d been convinced momentarily that Lena knew. “No, no, that’s not it, Lena, I told you I was totally fine with it—“ Kara began to insist, but cut herself off when her ears picked up something, something real this time. Screams.

The cries of alarm came from the far end of the party. There was a commotion in the crowd, and within seconds Kara saw what was causing the panic.

A big, black drone swept over the crowd, circling fast with loud, angry sounding propellers. It was searching, swooping up and down and around, and soon enough it seemed to find what it was looking for, suspending itself in the air and directing its weapons straight at Lena Luthor.

The crowd around them dispersed in panic, forming a clearing on the floor, but Lena stayed frozen in place. Kara automatically placed herself in front of her, making sure she was firmly planted between Lena and the drone. For a moment, the only sound was the whirring of the drone’s propellers, and then—

“Lena Luthor,” a warbled voice projected from the drone. “You might have changed the name of the company, but you are still a Luthor. Remember where you came from. Remember who you are.”

The drone launched a palm-sized object to the ground before taking off into the sky. The projectile rolled to a stop two metres from Kara’s feet, a light blinking red on its side and emitting a high pitched beep that got faster and faster.

“It’s a bomb!” a voice from the crowd cried.

Without even stopping to think, Kara threw herself on top of the bomb, cradling it in to her stomach to absorb the imminent impact as the beeping became increasingly faster.

“Get back!” she roared ferociously. Her eyes connected with Lena’s, wide and full of terror.

“Kara—“ Lena cried, reaching out just as the beeping climaxed to a single high-pitched squeal and Kara closed her eyes, bracing for impact.

She felt the capsule burst against her torso.

However, instead of feeling the expected heat and blast of an explosion, she felt…wet.

Slowly, Kara cracked one eye open, then the other. All she saw was red, covering the ground in front of her, and everyone staring back at her in shock. She pushed herself up into a seated position, blinking confusion as she saw the vibrant crimson covered her entire front. She placed a hand to her stomach and it came away wet and glistening.

“It’s...paint,” she slowly realised. She looked up at Lena’s horror stricken face as she hurried over and sank to her knees beside her, not even registering that she was getting red all over her dress.

“Kara! Are you all right?” she asked frantically.

“I’m fine, I’m completely fine,” Kara assured.

“Are you completely insane?” Lena cried, shaking Kara’s shoulders. “You could have died! Why did you do that?” Anguished tears pooled at the corners of Lena’s eyes, and she blinked them away furiously.

“I don’t…I don’t know,” Kara said quietly, her mind still reeling.

“What if it had been a real bomb, you would have—“ the words caught in Lena’s throat and she swallowed them down hard, her expression turning stone-faced. Lena’s hands balled at the fabric of her dress and she was practically trembling with barely contained rage.

“You shouldn’t have done that, Kara. Not for me.” Lena’s voice was cold, a shock to Kara’s system. “That was completely reckless, you should just leave the heroics to Supergirl,” she snapped, her eyes burning. Kara flinched at the sting of Lena's words, but she understood. Lena couldn't have known she wouldn't have been hurt.

“Supergirl,” Lena breathed, as though only just remembering. “She said she was going to investigate something—she could have been captured or hurt. She must be in trouble, she wouldn’t have let this happen.”

Kara snapped back to attention as Lena stood up and she caught her by the hand, jumping up to her feet before she could go anywhere. “Lena, stop,” she said firmly. “Whoever did this is still out there and they targeted you. You have to stay here. My sister and her girlfriend are cops; I’ll call them to help find Supergirl. Just don’t leave,” Kara commanded.

Lena seemed shocked by Kara Danvers’ uncharacteristic authoritative tone and command of the situation—shocked enough to nod and give a resigned “okay. Hurry, Kara.”

Assured that Lena would stay, Kara ran back inside and changed into her super suit once she was out of sight, taking to the skies as quickly as she could.

“Winn, did you see what just happened?” Kara called out on her commLink.

“Did I see the big black drone just destroy you at paintball? Yeah, I saw.”

“Please tell me you have a visual on this thing.”

“You are in luck because I am a genius and I have been tracking it using the city’s security cams. It’s just about to pass the National City Public Library. You’re going to have to hurry, Supergirl, this thing is fast.”

“I’m faster.”

Kara flew with everything she had, tearing through the air towards the library. Before long, she heard the drone; however, when she saw it, it seemed to see her too. It unleashed a cascade of bullets in her direction, which she deflected easily crossing her arms over her face.

Kara barrel-rolled to the side as the drone launched two rockets at her. She was quickly gaining on it and was about to blast it to pieces with her heat vision when Alex came in on her commLink—

“Don’t destroy it, Supergirl, we want to be able to examine it.”

Kara sighed, knowing Alex was right even though she wanted nothing more than to obliterate the flying death machine. Four precise laser bursts from her eyes connected with the propellers, easily shooting the drone from the sky. Kara swooped in and caught it just before it hit the ground, landing easily with it in her grip.

When she turned it over in her hands, she saw there was a camera on the front, a red light blinking intrusively at her. She let out a growl and punched straight through, the lens shattering beneath her fist. If she couldn’t break the thing completely, at least she could do this.

“I got it,” she reported.

“Great work, Supergirl,” J’onn said. “Now bring that thing in so we can take a look at it.”

Kara examined the drone once more and sighed. “Why am I not surprised?” she muttered to herself. Embossed to the underside of the drone’s wings read the words ‘Luthor Corp’.

Chapter Text

Sweat dripped into Lena's eyes and her arms and hands burned with pain, but she continued slamming into the heavy bag, one fist after the other. Her form was sloppy, a distant shadow of its usual perfection, but the power behind her punches was unprecedented.

Her boxing gloves laid discarded on the ground next to her, having long been thrown off in frustration. She could feel the skin on her knuckles cracking and breaking under her hand wraps. Good.

With each hit, she replayed what had happened just hours before in her mind, frame by agonising frame. She saw the bomb falling in slow motion just by her feet. She saw Kara Danvers—good, kind Kara Danvers—throwing herself down onto it to save her, to save everyone. Her foolishness was outdone only by her bravery.

Seeing Kara there on the ground had thrown Lena’s entire world upside down. In that moment, she thought she was going to lose one of the only people in National City who believed in her, one of the only people she even remotely cared about. She imagined that she would never again see that dimpled smile or blushing cheeks, never again be amazed by the sheer volume of food the petite woman could consume, never again read an article with the byline ‘Kara Danvers’, and she had realised in a flash of terror that that was a world she didn’t even wish to fathom.

The image of Kara sitting up, covered in what looked all too much like blood, had all but torn Lena apart. But she was alive; by some miracle she was alive having taken the full force of Lex’s twisted warning.

And what had Lena done? Frozen. Frozen and stood there and watched it happen.

It should have been her sacrificing herself for everyone, not Kara. Never Kara. The world would be just fine with one less Luthor in it, but to lose Kara Danvers would be to snuff out an absolute ray of goodness in a world where so few shone as bright.

Lena let out an anguished cry and slammed into the bag with everything she had. She collapsed against it, holding on to the sides and breathing hard.

“Wow. Remind me never to get on your bad side.”

Lena twisted to the sound of the voice next to her, her forehead pressed against the punching bag. Supergirl stood before her, bathed in moonlight and shadow, her posture weakened and her voice devoid of its usual heroic timbre, like she was too drained to perform.

Upon seeing her, Lena’s chest swelled with a mix of emotions: relief that Supergirl was alive and unharmed, confusion and anger as to why she hadn’t been there to save the day, all blended in with the indescribable raw energy that pulled at the corners of her heart and roiled in the pit of her stomach whenever she was in Supergirl’s presence.

Lena swallowed, catching her breath for a moment before she pushed herself off the heavy bag and patted her face dry with a sports towel. She took a moment to make sure she had her emotions in check—she didn’t want to lose it at Supergirl like she had at Kara earlier. She could still clearly see the way Kara had flinched at her words, and it filled her with a whole different sort of guilt.

“Supergirl,” she said breathily as her heart rate came down. “What happened? Is Kara all right?” she asked, wiping at the back of her neck.

“Kara’s fine,” Supergirl assured, though it did little to ease Lena. “All she needed was a change of clothes, it was just a bit of paint.”

Lena shook her head and set the towel down on the table. “She shouldn’t have done that. It should have been me, but I just…I froze.”

“Kara cares about you, Lena. She would do it again in a heartbeat,” Supergirl insisted, and the way that she spoke it was like she truly believed it. It was as though she knew Kara would do it all the same again, and Lena almost found herself believing her too, but she just couldn’t bring herself to accept it. She couldn’t accept that someone like Kara would give herself up for her like that—it was just unprecedented.

“Where were you, Supergirl?” Lena questioned, changing the subject. “I needed you—we all needed you—and you weren't there.”

Supergirl hesitated before answering. “I—I got caught up. The noise I heard…it was a distraction. I couldn’t get there in time,” she said, avoiding looking into Lena’s eyes.

Lena blinked numbly and stepped back, starting to pace. “Kara Danvers could have died tonight, and she would have saved my life. If something had happened to her…” her voice faltered and she swallowed, “it would have been my fault,” she said, feeling sick to her stomach at the thought of that possibility. Lena’s fists trembled by her side and she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before looking up at Supergirl.

“I am just so sick of needing to be saved all the time,” she whispered. “What was the point of learning to fight and protect myself if I just freeze up when someone comes for me? For once I want to save myself, so no one else can get hurt. There can’t be any more collateral damage around me.”

She took in a shuddering breath and crossed her arms over her stomach. She could feel hot, angry tears welling up in her eyes, but through sheer willpower she kept them at bay.

Supergirl was quiet as she closed the distance between Lena and herself, one step after the other. Tentatively, she reached out to uncross Lena’s arms. Lena resisted briefly, her arms tensing, but she ultimately relaxed and allowed Supergirl to take her hands.

Supergirl kept her eyes focused down as she set about unwinding Lena’s hand wraps. The skin of her hands was raw, red, and stinging, but Supergirl maintained a gentle touch as she worked. Lena’s breath caught in her throat as she watched the fabric fall away, transfixed.

“You can’t do this on your own. You need to let people help you, Lena,” Supergirl finally said quietly as she finished the first hand and moved on to the second.

Lena swallowed, her jaw tensed tight. “If I was stronger like you, I wouldn’t have to,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

Supergirl shook her head. “I would never be strong enough to do what I do without the people I surround myself with. Even with all my powers. You’ve been a lone wolf for so long, but if you don’t let people in—people like me, people like Kara—you’ll only ever be as strong as you are on your own. Sometimes, that’s not enough.” She finished the last wrap and let the material drop to the floor, finally looking at Lena.

Lena breathed and stretched her fingers out gingerly before allowing herself to meet Supergirl’s eyes. The rational part of her knew Supergirl was right; she was right about everything. But right now, she didn’t want to listen, she didn’t want to talk anymore. She felt like she had lost control of everything around her and she just needed to do something.

She looked into Supergirl’s eyes, wondering if maybe she could find answers or solace in there, but all she saw were comets and constellations ever expanding in an infinite blue. She felt, for a moment, that she might fall in, and she thought to herself how lovely it would be to allow herself to do so. Her defences were exhausted, and she couldn’t fight the force that seemed to pull her towards Supergirl even if she wanted to.

She slid her hands up behind Supergirl’s neck and guided her head downwards, closing the space between them. Lena kissed her slowly, searchingly; seeking answers to questions she couldn’t even hold onto long enough to ask.

If Lena’s lips easing against hers surprised Supergirl, she got over it quickly, and within moments she was kissing Lena back in earnest. Supergirl’s arms found their way around her waist, and Lena responded, pressing her hips against the Kryptonian’s. She tangled her hands in long, blonde hair, pulling harder, pushing closer, but even with her body pressed flush against Supergirl’s, it never felt quite close enough. It was like there was something between them, paper thin, but present, and no matter how close she got, Supergirl would always be just out of her reach.

She moved to deepen the kiss, to push further in her search, but suddenly all she could see behind her eyelids was crimson red and Kara Danvers, the world’s most unlikely hero, emerging unscathed and blinking in the light, adjusting her glasses adorably like she did so often, and Lena had to stop.

Lena broke the kiss quickly, jarred by the image, pausing a hair’s breadth away from Supergirl’s lips. For a moment, she was certain Supergirl was holding her breath.

“It’s late,” she said after a moment, her voice cracking.

She put some space between them and placed her hand on Supergirl’s chest, her fingertips just on the outline of the symbol that meant so much to so many. “You should go.”

She said the words, but a strong part of her wanted nothing more than to pull Supergirl inside, to fold herself into her arms and forget everything that had had happened. But she couldn’t, not tonight. Her mind was all over the place, and she couldn’t get Kara Danvers’ face out of her head. She needed some time to think, to re-centre.

Supergirl released the breath she appeared to be holding. “Is something wrong?” she asked, and Lena felt herself soften at the waver in her voice.

She shook her head and placed her hands flat on Supergirl’s chest, an assurance. “No, this is…I want this. I do,” she said, and it was almost like she needed to hear those words herself. “It’s just…a lot has happened tonight.”

Supergirl nodded, resigned yet understanding. “I should go,” She assented, loosening her arms. “Get some rest, Lena.”

“Doubtful,” Lena managed to scoff. Sleep seemed an impossible dream after all that had happened tonight. “But I will try. You get some rest too, Supergirl.” She paused a moment, then extended her neck to place a kiss at Supergirl’s jawline.

She made for the door to go back inside her apartment, ignoring everything inside her that screamed for her to pull Supergirl in after her. After entering in the code for her new security system, she glanced back over her shoulder.

“Don’t be a stranger, ok?”

“To you?” Supergirl asked, eyebrow raised. “Impossible.”

//

Kara’s thoughts blurred as she flew away from Lena’s balcony. As soon as one thought assembled itself into cohesion, it was knocked apart by the heat of Lena’s body pressed against hers, the feel of her hands in her hair, the taste of her mouth that lingered still on her lips. She landed less than gracefully on the roof of her apartment building, running a few steps to slow down, and steadied herself on a satellite dish.

“What am I doing?” she muttered to herself, her heart pounding.

The whole night had gone completely awry, and now everything was even more of a mess than it had been before the party. Kara Danvers had, in Lena’s view, thrown herself onto what could have meant certain death for any ordinary human—that would take some explaining.

And now Supergirl had kissed Lena and oh Rao it felt good and she just wanted to do it again as soon as possible, but Lena had acted so strangely and Kara wondered if she had messed things up and if it was all a huge mistake.

The satellite dish groaned under her fingers, and Kara jerked back to see she had clenched the metal into perfect impressions of her hands. She exhaled sharply and ran her hands through her hair, forcing herself to take some deep breaths so she could think straight.

Lena had said she wanted this, so she couldn’t have messed things up between them, she told herself. But Kara knew tonight had changed things, for both of her identities. It was all getting dangerously close to unravelling in her hands, and someone was going to get hurt if she didn’t do something.

She knew she couldn’t let this go further than it already had; she had to tell Lena who she really was. 

Kara’s face paled at the thought. It pained her to admit it, but she didn’t want to lose what she had with Lena as Supergirl. There was no guaranteeing Lena would accept her once she told her the truth. But if the choice was between lying to Lena and losing her, Kara would lose her every time.

Chapter Text

An office full of applauding colleagues was the last thing Kara expected to walk into when she exited the elevator at work on Monday morning. Truth be told, her mind had been preoccupied with something else the whole ride up.

The memory of Lena’s lips on hers and her hands in her hair and their hips pressed flush against each other still burned fresh on her skin. Her stomach bubbled and her mind raced when she thought about Lena’s kiss and what it might mean. What did it mean? After what had happened at the gala and its aftermath, Kara was more confused than ever.

Needless to say, the clapping crowd had her a little stunned. She was used to it as Supergirl, but as Kara Danvers? She was more used to being relatively invisible. With a dazed smile and burning cheeks, she made her way to her desk where James Olsen stood wearing a huge grin.

“What’s going on, James?” she asked through a strained smile.

“You saved everyone from an exploding paintball at the party, remember? You’re a hero, Kara Danvers,” he winked, his grin becoming impossibly wider. Clearly, he was enjoying this.

“Oh, Rao,” Kara muttered under her breath.

Luckily, James decided to quickly put an end to her embarrassment, holding his hands up in a bid to get everyone to settle down. “All right, all right, that’s enough folks. If anyone feels inclined to present Kara with gifts of the food variety, those can be delivered directly to my office,” he joked with a chuckle. “Ok, back to work,” he commanded with a booming clap of his hands.

He spun around and leaned his knuckles on Kara’s desk while Kara busied herself with setting up for work.

“I’m not kidding when I say it was really brave, what you did. You could have exposed yourself to everyone by taking that bomb for us. Lucky it was only paint, huh?”

Kara blinked at that. “I never even thought about that,” she confessed. “I just knew I had to…what on Earth?” she trailed off when she caught sight of what was on the TV screen behind James.

The screen was playing news footage, and displayed an aerial shot of the L-Corp building with a huddled mass of people at the entrance, clearly trying to get inside. Underneath the footage was the headline in bold, red letters:

1 MAN DEAD IN LEX LUTHOR PRISON BREAK ATTEMPT’.

Kara’s eyes bulged and her heart dropped down to her stomach. Her mind reeled at the news, but it all revolved around one fixed point: Lena.

James turned around and folded his arms across his chest when he saw what Kara was looking at. “Hadn’t you heard? It happened just last night, around three. Lex tried to break out of prison. They caught him, but he managed to kill a guard in the process. Snapper’s got a reporter and a photographer down at L-Corp, but Lena Luthor’s not letting anyone in. Can’t say I blame her. Though between what happened at the party and now this, Lena Luthor’s been getting digital a lot of clicks.”

Kara barely heard what James was saying as she rifled through her bag for her phone. Sure enough, when she checked her inbox there was a message from Lena.

Kara

Could you come by L-Corp at your earliest convenience? I’m sure you’ve seen the news. I would understand if you don’t want to see me after how I spoke to you the other night.

But I could use a friend.

Lena.

Kara grimaced, her heart straining as she thought of what Lena must be feeling right now—she couldn’t even imagine—and sent off a hurried reply saying that she was on her way before scrambling to repack her things.

“I’ve got to go.”

She was out of the office before she could hear if James had anything to say about it. Everything inside her wanted to just fly over to L-Corp, to get there as quickly as possible, but she knew it would be completely suspicious if she showed up mere seconds after her email did. Instead she took a taxi, which seemed to take an eternity.

L-Corp was chaos when she finally arrived. Reporters huddled around the main entrance, jostling each other for space against the glass doors, all shouting over one another as though that would get them inside.

Kara dove headfirst into the crowd, using her strength when she needed to in order to fluidly push her way to the front. Once she got there, she looked inside, not quite sure what to do, until she spotted someone she recognised: Lena’s security guard, what was his name? Lionel? Marcus?

“Lucas!” she called out when she finally remembered. “Lucas, it’s me, Kara Danvers!” she pressed her CatCo ID against the glass and sighed with relief when Lucas seemed to recognise her and made for the door.

Kara felt the crowd surge forward behind her, but she kept them back as Lucas cracked the glass door open just enough for her to squeeze inside. She exhaled as the din of the reporters faded to a muted rumble within the building’s foyer.

“It’s a madhouse out there,” she panted.

Lucas nodded curtly, as though Kara was pointing out the obvious. “She’s expecting you,” he said shortly and led Kara to the elevator.

Kara fixed her hair and outfit on the way up, which had taken a turn for the dishevelled, and took a deep breath. She didn’t know what to expect when she saw Lena. Would she be distraught? Panicked? Scared?

There was only one way to find out. She gave Jess a polite nod as she passed her desk and gently pushed the door open into Lena’s office.

It was only because Kara knew her so well that she could tell Lena was completely exhausted. To anyone else, the CEO still would have appeared to be the powerful, immaculate face of L-Corp despite the circumstances, but Kara knew better.

She could see cracks in Lena’s image in the curve of Lena’s back, slouched forwards ever so slightly, in the way her bun sat loosely on top of her head, and in the way she bit at the pad of her thumb as she stared at her laptop with unfocused eyes, her mind clearly elsewhere.

Kara was filled with the urge to hold Lena in her arms until she didn’t feel this pain anymore, but Kara Danvers didn’t know her like that. She held herself back.

Registering that Kara had entered the room, Lena blinked and looked up to her. She seemed to attempt a smile, but it didn’t get far, so she just sighed wearily. “Kara. I’m glad you’re here.”

“Of course, Lena. I came as soon as I saw your email,” she insisted. “Though I would have thought a reporter would be the last person you’d want to speak to right now.”

Lena exhaled shortly though her nose and stood up, moving to look out the window. “They’re still out there, aren’t they?” she murmured.

“In force.”

“Vultures,” Lena muttered darkly, then soon amended, “no offence.”

“None taken.”

Lena sighed and crossed to her couch, where she sat down and slipped her heels off. With a nod of her head, she indicated for Kara to join her.

"I was hoping I could speak to Kara Danvers the friend right now. Off the record.”

"Of course,” Kara assured as she sat down next to her, straight-backed. She fiddled with the hem of her skirt, searching for the right words to address this impossible situation. The perfect words simply didn’t exist, so she just went with “how are you?". It was a start, at least.

Lena sat back on the couch, shaking her head. “I’ve had better days,” she said and brought up a hand to rub at her temple.

"I've sent my personal condolences and a cheque for funeral expenses and pain and suffering to the prison guard's family. It's literally the least I could do, but I don't know what else I can do. I don't want to believe that throwing money at a problem will solve it, but...I am a Luthor. I suppose it's what we do best,” she said, a trace of bitterness entering her voice.

Kara frowned. “You’re supporting the family, that’s the most important thing. You didn’t do this. Lex did,” she insisted. She got the feeling Lena needed to be reminded of that.

Lena grimaced, clearly not believing it. “You don’t understand, Kara. He did this to get to me; I may as well have. He’s just toying with me, that drone at the party proves it. ‘Remember where you came from’,” she quoted the voice from the drone with a resentful scowl. “How could I forget? And now someone is dead because of this game he’s playing.”

Kara bit the inside of her cheek and adjusted her glasses. “If it’s a game he’s playing…maybe it’s time you make a move,” she said quietly after a moment.

Lena quirked an eyebrow, intrigued by Kara’s gall. “What are you suggesting?”

Kara straightened and cleared her throat. “You’re an intelligent woman, Lena. From what I hear, you play a mean game of chess.”

“National college champion four years consecutively but yes, go on, what’s your point?”

“My point is,” Kara pressed on, “you don’t just have to sit here and wait for whatever Lex is going to do next. Go on the offensive. Play the game back.”

Lena pressed her lips together, her green eyes flashing as she considered Kara’s words. “That’s quite a bold suggestion, Kara Danvers,” she said after a moment.

“Desperate times,” Kara answered simply.

“Desperate measures.”

A silence fell around them as Lena disappeared into thought.

Kara took the opportunity to study Lena’s face for any clues as to what she was feeling. Her brow was creased in concentration, heavy with both grief and determination. Kara’s eyes wandered down Lena’s ski-slope nose to her dark red lips, and she found herself imagining lips on skin, hands in hair, quickened breaths. It was like ever since Lena kissed her, a switch had flipped in her brain and all roads led to those thoughts. It was turning out to be quite counterproductive. 

“I never thanked you properly for what you did the other night,” Lena said after a while, jerking Kara back to the present. “You were very brave. Stupid, but brave.”

Kara did her best to quell the blush rising in her cheeks as she brought herself back into the room. “You, uh, you kind of bit my head off actually,” she stammered. “But thanks I guess?”

Lena laughed shortly for the first time since Kara had walked into her office. “I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that, I just…seeing you down there, I lost my mind a little. Truth is, I don’t know what I’d do without you, Kara. I wouldn’t even want to find out.”

Lena’s voice was quiet, her lips pressed together and her brow furrowed in thought, like she was realising the truth of the words as she was saying them.

Kara swallowed at a lump in her throat, but it stubbornly refused to budge. “Don’t you have Supergirl?”

Kara knew it was wrong to use her secret identity to find out where she stood with Lena, but it was so rare that she could catch even a glimpse into how the CEO was feeling or what she was thinking. She just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Lena blinked back into focus and met Kara’s eyes with a small smile. “Yes, I suppose I do.” She bit at her bottom lip and if she was anything like Kara, her mind was wandering back to Lena’s apartment balcony, where a Super and a Luthor stood tangled up in an impossible kiss. 

“But if Supergirl is the wind beneath my wings, you are the ground beneath my feet, Kara Danvers.” Lena fixed Kara with a look that made Kara’s breath catch in her throat, a familiar gleam in her unfathomably green eyes. It was there, and then gone in an instant as she grimaced with a slight laugh.

“That was ridiculously cheesy wasn’t it?”

Kara smiled warmly and shook her head. “No, no, it was…it was really sweet, Lena. Thank you for saying that, really.” She could feel her cheeks growing red and hot.

“’Sweet’,” Lena cringed, “do me a favour and keep that to yourself. I’m trying to maintain an image here.” Lena was finally smiling again, and Kara felt her chest swell at the thought that it was because of her. Not Supergirl, but Kara Danvers.

“Anyway, I’m not doing a very good job of thanking you, am I?” Lena continued, shaking her head. “Thank you, Kara. Really. I don’t know what was going through your head when you did that, but it certainly was admirable. You’re a hero.”

Kara blushed bashfully. “It was nothing, really.”

“It wasn’t nothing,” Lena insisted. “You gave yourself up to save everyone—to save me.”

Kara squirmed uncomfortably as the sting of the hidden truth jabbed her in the side. If Lena knew she wouldn’t have been hurt if it had been a real bomb, Kara doubted she would be saying all of this.

“The only casualty was my dress,” Kara said, waving a hand dismissively.

“Which I will make sure is replaced. It was a very cute dress, if my memory serves me correctly,” Lena said, and if Kara didn’t know any better, she would swear the CEO was being just a little bit more charming than usual.

Lena sighed and folded her hands in her lap. “I also wanted to apologise,” she continued seriously. “I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you afterwards. I didn’t mean to go off at you like that, I was just…I was terrified, if I’m completely honest. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. I was recently told that I need to learn to accept people’s help. And, for once, I’m trying to listen. So I’d like to start with you, if that’s all right.”

Kara couldn’t stop the smile from creeping onto her lips and pulling up at her cheeks. “You are full of surprises, Lena Luthor,” she said softly and met her eyes. For a moment, she was looking at her like she did as Supergirl—full of adoration and an indescribable something else. However, she quickly realised and cast her eyes downward. “Whoever told you that must be pretty smart.”

“Yeah, I’m sure she likes to think so,” Lena said with a slight chuckle. “Supergirl told me.”

Kara nodded with a smile. “I could have guessed that.”

“Don’t tell her I said she was right.”

“Oh your secret is safe with me,” Kara promised, “I mean, her head is big enough already, right?”

“Huge.”

The laughter in Lena’s eyes didn’t last long, and soon enough the troubled sadness that had taken up residency there ever since the drone attack had slid back into place. But at least now she didn’t seem so broken, so hopeless.

“Thank you for coming, Kara. You’ve actually made me feel somewhat better, which I honestly didn’t think was possible.” Lena hesitated a moment before continuing, “I’m sorry to ask, and I promise this isn’t why I asked you to come here, but…is there any way you can contact Supergirl? Secret phone line? Walkie-talkies? A symbol you can flash up into the sky?”

Kara swallowed and rubbed the back of her neck nervously. "It doesn't exactly work like that, Lena...though I think you'll find she has a way of showing up right when you need her.”

Lena sighed, resigned. "Remind me not to fall for someone who’s about as accessible as the moon again.”

Kara bit the inside of her cheek in an effort to stop herself from grinning stupidly upon hearing that Lena was falling for her—well, for her as Supergirl at least.

Kara could feel her resolution to tell Lena the truth niggling at her brain like a persistent fly, but she swatted it away. Lena had been through enough today. It was definitely not the right time. She knew that no time would be the right time for something like this, but Kara chose to ignore that thought.

“I’m sure she’ll be here soon,” she assured.

Without thinking, Kara reached out her hand and placed it on Lena’s knee in reassurance. She felt Lena’s leg react underneath her fingers and soon remembered herself, quickly moving to pull away, but found that Lena had slid her hand on top of hers, her delicate fingers curling underneath her palm. They sat there for a moment, Kara reluctant to move a muscle, for fear that it would break the fragile calm that had settled over them, if only briefly.

Kara swallowed, knowing this moment couldn’t last much longer than it had already. “I should probably get going,” she said softly. “I kind of left work without much of an excuse.”

“Of course,” Lena replied and released Kara’s hand, and it was almost like it had never happened. But it had, they both knew that. Kara followed as Lena made her way to the door and opened it for her.

“Thank you again, Kara, I mean it. You actually gave me some good advice,” Lena said. “You know, you’re kind of like Supergirl in that way. You’re kind of like her in a lot of ways…” she mused and thoughtfully looked Kara up and down, her eyes trailing over her just a little too long.

Kara blushed and adjusted her glasses shifting under Lena’s gaze. “It’s too bad I can’t fly,” she said quickly. “Take care, Lena.”

“You too, Kara.”

Lena’s eyes maintained their curious fixation on her until Kara met her gaze from the elevator as the doors slid shut.

Chapter Text

That afternoon Kara was in the sky, red cape billowing behind her. It had taken all of her willpower not to fly back to Lena as soon as she had left the building, but she knew that would look way too suspicious. Especially considering the way Lena had looked at her before she’d left.

Lena seemed to be holding up when she’d last saw her, but Kara had the feeling that this was hurting her more than she had let on to Kara Danvers.

As she approached the L-Corp building, she scowled when she saw the crowd of reporters still hounding the entrance. She drew in a deep breath and blew down towards the huddled mass, chuckling internally as their papers and possessions scattered everywhere. At the very least, she could take pleasure in annoying them.

Lena was sitting at her desk when she alighted on the balcony, but she must have been listening out for her, because she spun around in her chair as soon as Kara’s boots touched the ground. Lena came to the balcony door and stopped there a moment as Kara straightened up.

The stoic mask Lena had been putting on for the world cracked, and then shattered all at once. “Supergirl,” she breathed and crossed the space between them. She folded herself into Kara’s arms, her cape falling around the pair.

“It’s not your fault,” Kara said, knowing Lena would still be finding some way to blame herself for what happened, despite what she’d told her earlier. Lena drew in a stuttering breath and was quiet, burying herself deeper into Kara’s embrace. Kara held onto her tightly, giving her all the time she needed before speaking.

Kara was amazed by how quickly Lena fell apart when she came to her as Supergirl—holding it together when she had visited earlier as Kara Danvers must have taken tremendous effort. Kara swallowed, hoping that someday she could be vulnerable like this around her other self—her whole self. She knew it was up to her to tell the truth about who she really was, but for now the situation with Lena was too fragile and precious to disturb. She had to tread carefully.

After a while, Lena pulled back from the hug, straightening her back and smoothing out her blouse. She ran a hand over her tired face, and leaned against the balcony railing, staring off into the distance.

"I just—I can't believe I have to add another name to the list of people Lex has hurt,” she finally said, her voice cracking slightly. “I thought the ink had finally dried, but..." Lena trailed off and shook her head.

Kara couldn't understand how anyone could ever believe Lena Luthor was even capable of causing harm when she had empathy to feel the suffering of everyone her brother had ever hurt.

“This has to stop,” Lena said firmly, looking at Kara with determination in her eyes. “I have to go see Lex.”

“Maybe that’s is just what he wants.”

“It’s exactly what he wants,” Lena said plainly. “He’s baiting me, but I’m not biting. I’m going to let him know exactly who he’s dealing with. I won’t let him hurt another soul because of me, I won’t. I am Lena Luthor, and I will not be intimidated by him, or anyone else for that matter.” Her hands gripped the railing and her eyes burned ferociously as she spoke. Kara had never seen her like this, so determined and fearless. It seemed like she had taken her advice into consideration—she was ready to play the game.

“I can come with you, if you need me,” Kara offered, but Lena shook her head.

“No,” she said, reaching out to lay a hand on Kara’s forearm. “This is something I need to do alone.”

Kara nodded in understanding. She had a feeling Lena would say that. Lena breathed deeply, but it was different this time. She seemed focused, now that she knew what she had to do.

Lena tipped her head down to look at the ground and she scowled at the reporters blocking the entrance to the building. “You’d think they’d get bored, wouldn’t you?” she muttered.

“Want me to shoot some laser beams down there? Not to hurt them, of course. Just to scare them a little,” Kara proposed, dead serious.

Lena laughed shortly and shook her head. “As much as that would delight me, L-Corp can’t afford bad press right now. I’ll have to face them eventually,” she sighed, her brow creased in irritation, and Kara could tell she was definitely dreading it.

Kara frowned, her mouth set in a determined line. “Not today, you don’t,” she said firmly.

Lena cocked an eyebrow quizzically. “What do you mean? I have to leave the building at some point…oh no. You’re kidding. Really?” She must have caught the wicked gleam in Kara’s eyes.

Kara shrugged nonchalantly. “It’s either that or the reporters. Your choice.”

Lena grimaced in response. “That’s not much of a choice, considering there’s only one reporter I can even stand in this entire city.”

That only served to widen Kara’s grin. “I knew you’d see it my way.”

//

Lena had flown with Supergirl many times before, but only in her dreams, and nothing in her wildest dreams came close to comparing to the real thing. Taking off had her feeling like she’d left her stomach on her office balcony, and her heart raced as they climbed higher and higher into the sky.

In Lena’s dreams of flying, she gazed up at the stars, shining so brightly backdropped by an inky black sky. Or she looked down to the streets below, marvelling at how small the people were as they went about their lives. All those complex people with their complex stories.

But with the inescapable reality of today weighing heavy on her shoulders, she just couldn’t do that. When she looked down at the people below, all she saw was a grieving woman, widowed at Lex’s hands. She saw a son and a daughter, who would now grow up without a father. She saw office workers heading home for the day, murmuring conspiringly about how you could never trust a Luthor. Maybe they were right.

Lena closed her eyes against the thoughts pressing against her mind and rested her head against Supergirl’s shoulder. She focused on the rhythm of her heartbeat, steady and strong, and the way the Kryptonian’s skin prickled as she traced her fingertips across her clavicle.

For the first time all day, Lena took a deep breath and felt like air was actually entering her system. It was here, in this brief moment of peace, that she realised how truly exhausted she was. She felt weary right down to her bones.

“Do you do this for all the girls?” she murmured quietly, partly in an effort to keep herself awake.

“Only the really pretty ones,” Supergirl responded low in her ear. Lena found herself smiling, in spite of everything. It was small, but it still counted.

Lena closed her eyes for the rest of the flight, focusing on the breeze against her face and the feeling of Supergirl’s arms around her back and under her legs to keep her mind firmly rooted in the present moment until they touched down gently.

“Here’s your stop,” Supergirl said as they made contact.

Lena lifted her eyelids open and, sure enough, they were on her balcony. Supergirl shifted her grip and allowed Lena to slip to the ground. Lena stumbled slightly as gravity renewed its effect on her body, causing Supergirl to give a light chuckle.

“You’ll get your sky legs soon enough.”

“Sure beats traffic,” Lena remarked as she straightened up. She folded her arms over her stomach and pressed her lips together. “Do you…do you have somewhere you need to be? I just feel like if I’m alone I’ll drive myself crazy thinking about everything that’s going on. Your presence… it relaxes me. Will you stay?”

Supergirl nodded. “As long as you need.”

Lena gave a slight smile of relief, and indicated for Supergirl to follow her inside. She wasn’t used to having guests around, but since she barely spent any time in her apartment, it was fortunately easy to keep tidy.

“I’d like to take a shower and change, if that’s all right. Please, make yourself at home, I won’t be long,” she said.

Supergirl sat down on the couch, the very same couch she had laid on the night she had broken in. “Take as much time as you need, Lena. I’ll be here.”

Lena wanted nothing more than to wash this day right off of her. She stepped into the shower, turning the temperature up until it was scalding. She wondered how hot the water would have to be to rid her of this unclean feeling, this guilt that twisted at her stomach whenever she thought of Lex.

The worst part was that she knew that she still loved him, despite it all. He was her brother. Not by blood, no, but by something much stronger. He had always made her feel welcome in a house that was otherwise cold and unfeeling. He taught her about the world, about art and science and philosophy. He taught her to be ambitious, to be bold, to be fearless in the pursuit of her goals. He made her feel like she was worthy of the Luthor name, though it certainly didn’t mean what it once did.

She still wanted to believe that Lex, her brother, was somewhere beneath the madness that had consumed him. She loved him despite his crimes, and it ate her up inside. How could she possibly love a murderer? And yet, she did. It was marrow deep.

Lena’s skin turned red and blotchy under the heat of the water, at which point she finally relented and turned it down. Still, the guilt remained. Apparently it would take a lot more than hot water to cleanse herself of it.

After her shower, Lena changed into a pair of jeans and a grey knit sweater, running her fingers through her hair to comb it out. It hadn’t fixed her problems, but the shower did make her feel marginally better. Her heart gave a small start as she suddenly remembered that Supergirl was sitting in her living room right at this very moment.

She padded briskly out to the living room, and upon seeing her couch vacant, wondered if maybe she had dreamed the whole thing, until she spotted Supergirl in the kitchen. Not only that, but her island counter top was laden down with an assortment of food items.

She approached the bench curiously, and rested her hands on top. “What’s all this?” she asked, arching an eyebrow.

Supergirl spun around from where she had been busying herself with putting things away in various cupboards and folded her arms. “I checked your fridge. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure a half-eaten muffin, a tomato, and a bottle of wine isn’t enough to sustain a human being,” she said, fixing Lena with a questioning look.

“I’m a busy woman,” Lena huffed defensively.

“I don’t doubt that,” Supergirl said with a laugh. “When was the last time you ate had a home cooked meal?”

Lena furrowed her brow, thinking back, but she honestly couldn’t remember. “I heated a lasagne up last week?” she tried.

Supergirl shook her head disapprovingly. “That is so sad, Lena. We need to fix this. How do you turn this stove on?” she asked, crouching down to examine the burners of Lena’s impressively large stove.

Lena rounded the island and bent down next to Supergirl, frowning as she examined the stove’s mechanics. This was ridiculous. She could disassemble and reassemble an engine with her eyes shut and yet turning this stove on may as well have been witchcraft.

“Uh…”

“You have no idea, do you?”

“Not a clue.”

“You’ve never used this stove, have you?”

“Not even once.”

Supergirl sighed, and Lena felt her face grow hot as she noticed how close they were—they were practically cheek to cheek. The memory of kissing Supergirl on her balcony in the middle of the night flashed through her brain, making her stomach toss. From this proximity, the smell of the Kryptonian’s hair and skin was intoxicating, and it took everything Lena had not to push her against the counter right then and there.

Lena must have been staring, because Supergirl cleared her throat and snapped her back to reality. “Stand back,” she said firmly.

Lena straightened up and watched as Supergirl flicked on the gas and gave a short blast of her heat vision, resulting in the burner catching alight.

“Handy,” Lena remarked.

“I’m really glad that didn’t explode,” Supergirl murmured under her breath, barely audible.

“What was that?”

“Nothing!”

Supergirl straightened up and flexed her fingers out in front of her before she set to work grabbing a pot and a chopping board and laying her ingredients out on the bench. “Do you really not know how to cook?” she asked as she moved about the kitchen with ease.

“My mother didn’t exactly teach me the family recipes.”

“What? No Luthor eye-of-newt stew?” Supergirl teased, earning herself an indignant shove.

“Not funny,” Lena scowled.

“Sorry. Couldn’t resist.”

Lena absently picked up a large chef’s knife, holding it loosely between her fingers. “So, what can I do to help?”

Supergirl grimaced and removed the knife from her hands, gingerly placing it down on the counter. “Maybe just leave the cooking to me. You go and relax, you’ve earned it. And if you do anything even mildly related to work, I will freeze your laptop inside an ice block. I’m not kidding.”

Lena arched her eyebrows and raised her hands, palms up in surrender. “Yes, Ma’am.”

She made her way to the couch and sat down with a sigh. She wasn’t sure what to do with herself, until she spotted the latest issue of CatCo magazine she’d been meaning to read sitting on the coffee table. She laid back on the couch, propping her feet up as she flicked through the glossy pages.

It felt completely foreign for her to just be lying on the couch, doing nothing. Usually she would be doing at least three things at once, her mind going a million miles a minute. But here she was, reading a magazine, with Supergirl cooking for her in her own apartment.

“For someone who doesn’t know how to cook, you sure own some fancy utensils,” Supergirl commented from the kitchen.

“It all came with the place. I have no idea what half of it is,” Lena admitted.

She glanced up from her magazine every now and then, just to watch Supergirl work. The image of National City’s hero standing over her stove, stirring dutifully at a large pot, was, in all honesty, completely bizarre.

Lena realised she really had no clue what Supergirl did when she wasn’t on the news or on her balcony. What did she do when the world didn’t need saving? Surely her wardrobe wasn’t all spandex. For all anyone knew, Supergirl might have some power that allowed her to disguise herself in any manner of ways. She could be anyone in the entire city.

Maybe she had bumped into her on the street. Maybe she had waited behind her in line at a coffee shop. Or maybe…maybe she was a lot closer than that.

Lena couldn’t get over the feeling she had gotten in her office, looking at Kara Danvers who she thought she knew so well. But perhaps there was more to her than met the eye. Something had stirred in her gut, then. It told her there was something Kara was keeping from her, she just wasn’t sure what.

Then when she’d held her hand, she’d felt something else: that undeniable tug at the pit of her stomach. It was almost the same magnetic pull she felt when she was around Supergirl, which had to mean one of two things.

Either she was developing the same feelings for Kara as she did for Supergirl—which presented a whole set of problems she really couldn’t handle right now. Or...

Lena’s brow crinkled as she flipped the page to a double-page photo of Supergirl heroically punching a robot in Chinatown. She then flicked her eyes up to the caped chef in her kitchen. What a sick joke the Universe would have to be playing on her if the woman who had written this article and its subject were one and the same…it couldn’t be. It just couldn’t.

Perhaps there was a third option. Perhaps she was sensing that something good was happening between her and Supergirl, and she just had to sabotage it by bringing Kara Danvers into it, of all people. She usually trusted her gut, but she also knew she had a penchant for self-sabotage that could cloud her judgement.

Soon enough, Lena became too tired to think about it anymore. Her eyes grew heavy and her hold on the magazine loosened and it fell against her chest. It felt like she had only blinked when a fantastic smell roused her from her brief sleep. Her nose twitched as she opened her eyes to see Supergirl holding a bowl out to her.

“Mm,” she croaked, pushing herself up from the couch. “What is that? It smells amazing.”

“Mushroom risotto,” Supergirl answered. “With plenty of cheese, obviously.”

Lena hummed her approval and accepted the bowl, hugging it to her chest as she brought her knees up to sit cross-legged. She took a spoonful and closed her eyes as the risotto melted in her mouth, warming her up from the inside. “This is so good,” she moaned. “Where did you learn to cook like this?”

Supergirl smiled as she sat next to Lena with her own bowl. “My adoptive mother, here on Earth. Every night I would sit at the counter while she cooked dinner. Eventually she let me help.”

“That’s sweet.” Lena continued eating, savouring every mouthful. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was; eating had seemed of little importance given the circumstances of the day, and this was really hitting the spot.

It struck Lena that it was odd to hear about Supergirl as a young girl. She tried imagining the scene Supergirl had described, and all she saw was the back of a little blonde head sitting on a stool by a kitchen counter, a red cape draping to the floor. The image couldn’t slide together in her mind—surely Supergirl wasn’t born in a super suit, but strangely she couldn’t imagine her without it.

Lena finished her bowl, not leaving behind a single grain of rice behind and sat back, thinking to herself. “This feels so…domestic,” she observed.

“Yeah. Is that weird?”

“It’s a bit weird,” Lena agreed with a nod. “I don’t hate it, though. Beats near-death experiences for sure.”

“Definitely.”

Lena set her bowl down on the coffee table and pulled her knees up to her chest, circling her arms around them. She rested her chin on her knees and gazed thoughtfully at the woman in front of her, who was polishing off her third helping. She found herself wondering if this was what a life with Supergirl could be like.

Just the two of them, spending nights together on the couch eating something Supergirl had made, or pizza or takeout on the nights when Supergirl couldn’t cook, but Lena knew better than to try and cook herself. No one needed to be subjected to that inevitable train wreck.

Some nights Supergirl would have to disappear out the window to save the world, but that was okay. Lena understood that Supergirl’s commitment to keeping humanity safe was paramount. It was a bizarre fantasy, something she had never envisioned for herself with anyone, let alone a Super of all people.

But first she had to handle this mess with her brother. She couldn’t even dream about a relationship while all this chaos was going on. Even though it was quite a lovely dream…

“I’m going to ride my bike to the prison tomorrow,” Lena announced, broaching the subject now that she felt ready to talk about it. “I know you don’t like it, but it helps me think.”

“Who said I didn’t like it?” Supergirl asked as she set her finished bowl down.

“What did you call it again?” Lena asked with a sly grin. “A sexy death trap?”

“Just because it’s a sexy death trap doesn’t mean I don’t like it,” Supergirl said defensively. “I like it. Maybe a little too much,” she admitted, her brow crinkling.

“Good to know,” Lena smirked. She pressed her lips together and pulled her sleeves over her hands, balling the material in her fists.

“I’m nervous,” she confessed. “About tomorrow. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him...I don’t know what to expect. A smart person would be expecting the worst. But part of me…part of me hopes there’s still good in him. That I can reason with him. Am I totally naïve? Or am I crazy? Which one?”

Supergirl rocked forwards, placing her elbows on her knees. “Some people would even say I’m naïve for believing in the best in you. I’ve stopped counting all the times I’ve been called naïve for wanting to believe in the good in people. Even you’ve said that, if I recall correctly. ”

“My brother killed people, Supergirl. He ruined not only my life, but countless other innocent lives. How can I still love him after all that he’s done? Isn’t that just wrong?” Lena swallowed hard, drawing on the last of her already depleted reserves of emotional strength to continue. “But I still do, and I always will. I think he knows that. It’s a weakness he’ll use against me,” she said with a slight frown.

When they played chess as kids, Lex would always catch Lena out before she could execute her final plans. He figured out that if she gave up her queen easily, she was about to strike elsewhere on the board to secure the checkmate. Once he figured out her tell, he always managed to block her before her plan could come to fruition and ultimately use it against her. Lex had always been good at leveraging her weaknesses, and she’d had to get creative to eventually become good enough to beat him.

Supergirl clasped her hands together over her knees, her brow furrowed in thought. “I’d like to tell you about my mother, back on Krypton. Is that ok?”

Lena tilted her head curiously, wondering where this could be going. “Of course.”

Supergirl took in a breath and braced her arms on her knees. “My mother was a very powerful woman. She was a judicator on Krypton. To me…she was my world; I wanted to be exactly like her. Fighting for justice, doing what’s right. She was my hero. But children don’t always see everything there is to see when it comes to their parents. I found out that she knew Krypton was dying, and she didn’t do anything to stop it. Not only that, but she used me to capture her own sister. She betrayed me. When I found out…all I could feel was pain, and anger.”

Supergirl’s voice was soft as she spoke, and Lena watched her intently. Lena knew the feeling—that unspeakable rage. She felt it when she found out what Lex had done, and she’d taken it out on all of the priceless ornaments in the Luthor mansion’s study. It had taken a long time to push past it, but the pain still lived on inside her. That kind of pain didn’t leave a person easily, and Lena could tell Supergirl still carried it with her.

Supergirl’s hand was balled into a fist upon her knee as she spoke, and Lena scooted closer and placed her hand on top. Supergirl relaxed her hand and turned it over, interlocking her fingers with Lena’s as she continued.

“I didn’t think I could love my mother again after finding out what she’d done. But…with time, I remembered all the things I did love about her. The way she’d sing as she made me breakfast. The way she’d comb my hair and tell me Kryptonian legends. She was the first person to tell me I could be a hero,” Supergirl said with an aching smile on her lips.

“In time, I allowed myself to love her again, even knowing what she’d done. Love is complicated. It can be messy. Sometimes, to love is the hardest choice. It would be so much easier to give in to hatred and anger, but choosing love makes you strong.” Supergirl looked over at Lena, reaching out a hand to lightly touch her face. “Loving your brother is not a weakness, Lena. In fact, it makes you so, so strong. Stronger than you know.”

Lena breathed deep, leaning in to Supergirl’s touch. She’d felt guilty about having love for Lex for so long, it was almost shocking to hear someone to tell her that it was ok, that she wasn’t weak or a terrible person.

This was the Supergirl she was falling for. The one who spoke openly about her pain and anger and hardships, and yet chose to be hopeful despite it all. It made Lena feel like there was hope for her, that she could turn her own pain into something good.

“How do you do that?” Lena wondered aloud after a quiet moment.

“Do what?”

“Make me feel better when my whole world is falling apart around me. I feel like I’m drowning and then you show up and all of a sudden, I can breathe again…is this ok?”

As she spoke, Lena had navigated herself over to Supergirl’s side of the couch and shifted herself on top of her, one leg on either side of her hips. Supergirl blinked up at her, a crimson flush inching up her neck as she nodded.

“Yes,” Supergirl whispered.

Lena studied the Kryptonian’s face from her perch, tucking lose strands of hair behind her ears, and ran her thumbs over her cheeks.

Self-sabotage be damned. Maybe, just maybe, she actually deserved to be happy.

Slowly, she lowered her face down and pressed her lips against Supergirl’s, the blonde easily reciprocating. Lena took Supergirl’s hands in her own as they kissed, guiding them to rest on her hips. Her heart thrilled as Supergirl seemed to take to this direction, gripping her firmly.

“I should make you dinner more often,” Supergirl hummed, smiling against her lips.

“Stop talking,” Lena commanded. Her hands made their way up to the base of Supergirl’s neck, her fingers nestling in the blonde’s hair as she deepened the kiss.

“Lena—there’s—something—,” Supergirl managed between kisses, her breathing coming quicker. Lena took the opportunity to move her lips down to Supergirl’s neck, marvelling at the warmth of her skin.

“What did I say about not talking?” Lena murmured in response, her breath leaving a trail of goosebumps across Supergirl’s neck.

Supergirl’s breath caught in her throat, much to Lena’s satisfaction.

“It...it can wait.”

Chapter Text

It seemed that the impossible had become possible when Lena opened her eyes the next morning: she’d slept through the entire night. She rubbed at her eyes with the heel of her hand, getting her bearings in the ocean of pillows and blankets that was her bed.

She barely remembered getting to bed; the last thing she remembered was resting her head against Supergirl’s shoulder, lips straining to be on hers again, but her eyes were just so heavy.

“This is good,” she’d breathed, “but I can barely keep my eyes open…to be continued?”

She must have fallen asleep instantly, because she didn’t even remember hearing Supergirl’s response.

Sitting up slowly, she stretched her arms overhead, freezing when she spotted a piece of paper by her bedside table.

Good Morning,

I hope you slept well.

Good luck at the prison today. I’ll be in the sky if you need me.

To be continued.

Lena sighed and laid back down on the bed, holding the note to her chest. When her eyes flicked open again, they were completely focused.

The trip to the prison was just over two hours long, but it gave Lena time to centre herself and clear her head. Thinking her way through what she was going to say to Lex would be futile, she knew that. He was just too unpredictable. It had been two years since she’d seen her brother. Who would be sitting in the chair opposite her? Lex Luthor, her brother who once pulled every gadget in their kitchen apart with her just to see how they worked? Or Lex Luthor, the Superman-obsessed murderer?

Lena gripped the handles of her motorbike hard and accelerated, tearing down the highway and leaving National City glittering behind her.

The prison felt quiet, like the place was holding its breath. Lena didn’t know what she had been expecting, but this eerie silence certainly wasn’t it. The warden had been expecting her, and she walked right in, cool and collected, at least for now. Her skin prickled as she strode through the corridors behind the warden, an ice pick running down the length of her spine, chipping at her skeleton.

“He’s in here,” the warden reported as they reached a small room. “Just say the word and we’ll get you out, Miss Luthor.”

Lena swallowed and wrapped her fingers around the cool steel of the door. She tensed, and pushed it open.

Lex looked exactly like she remembered him, save for the grey prison jumpsuit and the dark circles under his eyes. He sat straight-backed in a metal chair in the middle of the room, somehow still managing to look like he owned the place despite being cuffed by his wrists and ankles. As the door fell shut behind her, his lips curled up into half a smile.

“I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever come to visit,” he said softly. “Quaint, isn’t it? Sure, it doesn’t have the grandeur of Luthor mansion or the modern touch of my place in Metropolis, but it has a certain charm. The barbed wire really adds a homey touch, don’t you think?”

Lex offered her a grin as Lena regarded him from across the room. The way his grey eyes twinkled transported Lena back to the time they had combined Lex’s remote control car with Lillian’s alarm clock, and giggled mirthfully as she’d chased it all over the top floor of the Luthor mansion. They’d both been punished for their mischief; however, unlike Lex, Lena hadn’t been kissed on the forehead and forgiven straight after. Still. It had been worth it.

“Come now, you didn’t come all this way just to stand there and stare at me, did you? Please, sit.”

Lena remembered herself and sat down in the chair opposite Lex, delicately folding one hand over the other. Her green eyes flicked up to meet Lex’s cool grey.

“That’s better, isn’t it? I’d offer you a drink, but as you can see…my hands are tied.” He tugged on the chain that attached his wrists to the table demonstratively. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

Lena pressed her lips together, pausing to make sure she had her voice before speaking. “You killed a man, Lex,” she said quietly.

Lex sighed woefully and nodded. “That was…a miscalculation. An unfortunate waste of human life. I suppose I’m a little rusty. But…I got your attention, didn’t I?”

“You always did say the ends justify the means,” Lena murmured, her jaw tight.

“And here we are, the two heirs to the Luthor legacy, together at last. I’d say that’s worth the means,” he said matter-of-factly.

Lena reeled back, shaking her head in disbelief. “What legacy? A legacy of hatred? Of violence? Forgive me if I refuse to continue it.”

“Yes, I did see you changed the company name,” Lex noted, his mouth setting into a grim line. “L-Corp. Doesn’t quite carry the gravitas of Luthor-Corp but I suppose I respect your decision. Wouldn’t want the family name getting in the way of slinging your eco-tech or whatever it is you’re doing these days.”

Lena kept the scowl that threatened to creep across her face behind her teeth. “I didn’t come here to talk business.”

“What did you come here for then?” Lex asked, his eyebrows peaked in interest. “Don’t tell me—you missed me.”

Lena couldn’t respond to that, not directly. She did miss him—but she missed a different version of him, a version she was getting the feeling she was unlikely to ever get back. Sitting in front of him now, she could catch glimpses of the intelligent, charming brother she so desperately missed, but as soon as they surfaced they were snatched away from view by a lip-curling smirk or heartless word.

She leaned forward in her seat, her elbows perched on the table. “Are you bored in here, Lex? I can get you a TV for your cell. Maybe even an Xbox if it’ll distract you long enough to quit trying to kill me for five minutes.”

“Is that what you think I’m doing? Interesting,” Lex chuckled.

Lena’s eyebrows twitched in irritation. He was wearing that grin he wore when he knew the answer to a puzzle she was still trying to figure out. It always had a way of making her feel small.

“Let’s review the evidence,” she pressed on. “You’ve sent thugs to kill me on multiple occasions, and when that didn’t work, you sent a drone to the CatCo party to scare me.”

“Hm. I suppose when you look at it that way, it does seem like I’m trying to kill you,” Lex mused thoughtfully. “But, if I actually was trying to kill you, I would have succeeded a long time ago,” he said, his lips pulling up into the grin that made him completely unrecognisable as her brother.

He sighed and shook his head, his expression softening once more. “I’m not trying to kill you, Lena. In fact, watching you live on outside these walls is the one thing that gives me something close to joy these days. It gives me purpose, if you will.”

“I don’t understand…”

Lex sighed impatiently, “Haven’t you been getting my letters? I have been trying to warn you, Lena.”

Lena frowned. “Warn me? About what?”

Lex sat back in his chair, pinching at the bridge of his nose just like Lena did when she had to explain something that seemed simple to her to someone who just didn’t get it. “Did you really think taking L-Corp in this fanciful alien-tolerating direction wouldn’t have any consequences? And then you go and start hanging around with Supergirl and bringing her to galas, that certainly didn’t help,” he said, rolling his eyes.

Lena crossed her arms defensively. “What does Supergirl have to do with any of this?”

“Supergirl has everything to do with this,” Lex seethed, a menacing tone seeping into his voice. “By aligning yourself with her, you’re turning your back on everything I ever did—everything this family has ever stood for.”

“That’s kind of the whole point, Lex,” Lena scowled.

“Of course,” Lex replied, more calmly this time. “Being anti-alien in this political climate is bad for business, I understand. But surely you knew that flipping from one side to the other would make some enemies.”

“Of course I thought of that, I’m not a complete fool. But anyone who disagrees with L-Corp’s new direction isn’t someone I want to do business with,” Lena said firmly.

“I didn’t just mean enemies in the business world, sister. Think a little closer to home.”

Lena swallowed, her mind ticking over as she gradually connected the dots. “You’ve never sent anyone to kill me. Have you?” she asked slowly. 

“As much as I’d like to take credit for almost taking down the great Lena Luthor, no. The only things I’ve ever sent you are letters and Christmas cards, though I doubt your security team has allowed them to grace your desk.”

Lena’s hands gripped the edges of her chair, her knuckles turning white. “Lillian. It’s been her all this time.”

“Now we’re on the same page,” Lex grinned.

Lena rubbed at her temples with both hands, her closing her eyes as she processed this new information. It had been her mother, Lillian Luthor, who had been trying to kill her all along. All because she didn’t want to hurt aliens? That seemed extreme, even by Lillian’s standards.

“Something just doesn’t add up,” she said, biting at the pad of her thumb as she mentally put pieces of the puzzle together. The fact that Lillian was after her life wasn’t the hardest thing to accept. In fact, it was a whole lot easier than thinking Lex was targeting her.

She clasped her hands together and locked eyes with Lex. “If she really wanted me dead, why didn’t she try to kill me at the CatCo party? She had every opportunity to do so, why waste it on what amounted to a practical joke?”

Lex chuckled, apparently finding the whole thing very amusing. “Yes, the drone that splashed paint all over people? Not exactly how I would have done it, but she has always had a flair for the dramatic,” he hummed thoughtfully.

“That still doesn’t explain why she didn’t kill me. Unless she needs something from me, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit,” she said, unable to keep the resentful tone from creeping into her voice.

“Getting warmer,” Lex said, almost gleefully. “I believe you can thank me for surviving the gala with little more than a ruined dress.”

Lena quirked an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Lex touched his fingertips together, forming a triangle on the table, retreating into thought for a moment before looking up at her with steely grey eyes.

“The thing about aliens, Lena, is that they hide in plain sight. They could be right under your nose, and you would be none the wiser, I can say that from experience. Now, I thought I was the master of keeping my friends close and my enemies closer. Turns out, Supes was better, so now here I am, in this palace,” he said, gesturing wryly to their surroundings.

Lena bit the inside of her cheek, her thoughts automatically finding their way to Supergirl. Her first thoughts were of hands on hips and lips on teeth and strong arms on her body, but she managed to push past her carnal desires and thought about what she saw when she really looked at the caped Kryptonian.

She saw a hero, that much was a given, but she also saw a person—a person with fears and anger and insecurities. Nevertheless, that person wore a costume, and she could never really know what was going on underneath. She could be anyone, and Lex’s words served a chilling reminder of her working theory as to who truly lived under that costume, which hung over her like a cloud no matter how deeply she thought she'd buried it.

Lex leaned across the table, his hands splayed out on the metal surface. "They're not gods, Lena,” He said, his voice barely above a whisper. “They suffer the same defects as humans: jealousy, greed, lust, rage. But they also have powers we can’t even imagine. Tell me, is there anything you can think of more terrifying than that? More dangerous? Everything I ever did was in the interest of protecting humanity.”

“Lex…” Lena said sadly. She’d heard these words before—at his trial, just before federal officers carried him away.

Lex sighed and slumped back in his seat. He motioned to rub his hands over his head, like he did when he was frustrated, but the chain prevented him from moving his arms far enough. “I know. I know.”

Lena bit her lip and reached out to take both his hands in her own. It was the first time she had touched her brother in two years.

“Tell me why Lillian needs me,” she urged gently. She could feel her brother slipping away, his hands in hers serving as his remaining tenuous grip on reality.

Lex sighed and looked into her eyes, something weighing heavy in his own. “You really want to know?”

“Please.”

Lex glanced down to their joined hands and nodded. “I told her about weapons and tech bunkers I built for when the Kryptonians go rogue and threaten to kill us all. To open them, she needs Luthor blood. Your blood.”

Lena pulled back, but Lex didn’t let her get far enough to release his hands. “My blood? But I’m adopted, that doesn’t—“ she cut herself short as Lex was shaking his head.

“I hate to be the one to tell you that our family is even more messed up than you thought,” he said, with what looked like genuine regret in his eyes. Lena gripped his hands, her breath still in her throat as she teetered on the edge of her seat. “You weren’t just adopted out of the blue, Lena. Father…he had an affair. Father and Mother thought they’d kept it secret—they paid her off handsomely to keep her mouth shut, but they hadn’t counted on her going ahead and dying, leaving a child behind. A four year old. You.”

Lena felt herself go numb at Lex’s words, a chill pooling at her stomach and spreading through her veins to her extremities. If there had been an earthquake in that moment, she wouldn’t have shaken.

Suddenly, years of Lillian’s complete disdain towards her made sense. The way she avoided touching her wherever possible, the way she praised Lex and ignored her, the way anything she did was never good enough. Lena finally understood.

People had said that the Luthors were evil and not to be trusted. But she had always believed that being adopted shielded her from the Luthor curse, like she was immune. But now…perhaps her protection was an illusion, a fallacy from the very start.

“I found a picture of your mother in father’s things after he passed. You really do bear a striking resemblance,” Lex murmured.

Lena swallowed bile creeping up her throat, her face just barely maintaining its granite mask. “So I really am a Luthor,” she said numbly.

"One of the last.” Lex leaned forwards, gripping Lena’s hands so hard it began to hurt. “Don’t you see, Lena? Everything I’ve ever done has been to protect you. You and I are the only people on Earth who can open those bunkers—that has been my dream from the start. Lena, please, I’m begging you. Use your brilliant mind to get me out of this place. We can build something together, just the two of us...and then, together, we can kill Superman and Supergirl, and rid the Earth of these dangerous aliens once and for all.”

Lena watched as a mist rolled across Lex’s eyes, and she knew in that moment that he was gone, gripped by the madness that consumed him. He trailed off, looking into the distance, his mind a million miles away.

She extricated her hands from Lex’s own and pushed herself up from the table, her legs feeling like lead beneath her. She walked behind Lex’s chair and ran a hand over his smooth head, pressing her lips to its crown.

“I’ll visit again soon,” she promised softly.

She lingered there for a moment before pulling herself away, not looking back as she left the room, the door slamming shut on her brother. Her real brother, as it turned out.

Her boots clanged far too loudly on the concrete floor as she strode for the exit, the air becoming thinner and her chest constricting tighter with each step. The sun was blinding as she stepped outside, and her hands shook as she picked up her helmet and fumbled with her keys in the ignition of the bike.

Her mind was ticking so fast, thoughts chasing each other in circles as she tried to process what Lex had told her. All she knew for certain was she just had to put as much distance between herself and the prison right now. Her motorcycle roared to life and she tore off back onto the highway, leaving a shower of dirt and rocks in her wake.

It was at about the halfway point back to the city when her helmet felt like it was suffocating her and she had to pull over. She yanked her helmet off her head and leaned against her motorcycle, her chest heaving with every breath.

Lena sank down to crouch in the shade of the motorcycle, the sun beating relentlessly overhead as she held her face in her hands. Of all the things Lex had told her, there was one thing that niggled relentlessly in her mind.

“They hide in plain sight.”

Images played in Lena’s brain like clips from a movie reel. A dazzling smile. The flash of a crimson cape. Fidgeting hands reaching up to adjust a pair of glasses. Eager hands on her waist, up her back, at her neck. A pencil scribbling furiously at a notepad. The view of National City from above. Kara Danvers throwing herself on a bomb, without question, like she knew she wouldn’t get hurt.

Like she was made of steel.

A desert flower bloomed an arm’s length from where Lena crouched. She plucked it from the ground and held it in her hands. She was delicate at first, then, one by one, she plucked the petals from the stem and crushed them between her fingertips, watching as drops of moisture were extracted and ran down her fingers to dampen the dry earth below.

After a few minutes, she straightened, and reached for her pocket with steady hands. She swallowed, her breathing regulated and under control, and called her favourite reporter.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to tell her. Today. I can’t go on like this, I just can’t.” Kara gripped her coffee mug in her hands as she sat at the counter of her kitchen, taking special care not to shatter it this time.


Alex and Maggie had arrived not long after they had spoken on the phone—Alex had this spooky skill when it came to knowing something was bothering Kara. The crinkle that now marked her sister’s brow only confirmed the older Danvers’ suspicions.


“I’m surprised she hasn’t figured it out already,” Maggie contributed, reaching for a muffin from the stack she and Alex had brought over on their way in, suspecting that Kara would be in need of alimentary support. “I mean, it didn’t take too long for me to figure it out, and I didn’t even have to get as, ah, close,” she smirked.


“That’s just because you’re the most amazing detective slash genius on the planet.”


“I’ll have that in writing thanks, Danvers,” Maggie quipped, grinning smugly into her muffin despite Alex’s obviously intended sarcasm.


“That’s just it. It’s only a matter of time before she figures it out—if she hasn’t already,” Kara mumbled hopelessly. “I want it to come from me, I can’t keep lying to her anymore. Lena doesn’t deserve it, not after all she’s been through.”

Alex folded her arms over her chest, her trademark furrow creasing her brows. “I don’t know, Kara…”

Kara picked up easily on the reluctance in Alex’s voice, her expression twitching into a frown. “You still don’t trust her, do you?”

Alex sighed, raising her hands defensively. “I don’t know her like you do, Kara. I’m just going off what I know. Regardless of whatever it is that’s going on between the two of you, the fact remains that she’s a—“

“Don’t say it. Don’t you dare say it,” Kara glowered, her hands balling into fists on the counter.

“I think what Alex meant to say is she’s an unknown variable,” Maggie interjected pacifyingly.

“I just don’t want you to get hurt, Kara.” Alex spoke gently, and squeezed Kara’s shoulder.

Kara sighed, her fists unclenching in response to Alex’s touch. Alex was only looking out for her, like she always did, like she always had done, and like Kara knew she always would.

“Lying to her is already hurting me.” Kara’s voice was soft, and she looked up to Alex with sadness in her eyes. “If this thing between us is going to have any chance of being real, she has to know who I am. I’m ready, Alex. I want her to know.”

Just then, Kara’s phone rang, the current subject of conversation lighting up its display.

“It’s Lena,” Kara reported, slipping out from under Alex’s hand as she picked up her phone and walked to the window. “Lena?”

There was quiet on the other line for a beat before the other woman finally spoke. “Kara.”

“Where are you? Is everything ok?”

“I’m about an hour out of town. I followed your advice; I went to see Lex.” Kara picked up the sound of gravel crunching under heavy boots, and Kara could just imagine Lena pacing back and forth by the side of the highway next to that damned motorcycle. The footsteps came to a stop. “I’ll be honest with you, Kara: everything…everything is not ok.”

Kara pressed her lips together, her stomach twisting as she performed some rough mental calculations. If she flew fast enough, she could be an hour out of National City within minutes as Supergirl. But that wasn’t who was on the phone with Lena right now.

“Did you need me to contact Supergirl?” she asked.

“No,” Lena said firmly. “I want to see you.”

Kara’s eyebrows peaked in surprise and she cleared her throat. “Me? Wh—why me? I mean, of course, I’m here for you, whatever you need but I thought you and Supergirl—“

“I can’t talk to her about this,” Lena’s words cut Kara short. “The matter is more…human.” There was a pause, and when Lena spoke again, her voice had softened. “You understand, right Kara?”

“Human,” Kara repeated, as though saying it herself would make more sense. The way Lena said it was strange, weighed down with a hidden significance Kara couldn’t quite understand. “Of course,” she continued regardless.

Lena exhaled on the other end of the line, and the crunching footsteps resumed with purpose. “Great. Where can I meet you?”

“I’m at my apartment.”

“Perfect. I’ll see you in an hour.”

Before Kara could say anything else, the call disconnected. Kara stared at her phone screen for a moment before looking up at Alex and Maggie, who were staring right back. “That was her,” she said blankly.

“No kidding,” Alex breathed a laugh.

“Alex, why are you talking to that beetroot?”

Kara’s blush deepened, but she ignored Maggie’s cheeky grin as Alex nudged her girlfriend reprimandingly. “She’s coming over here. Something must have happened at the prison; she sounded…off,” Kara said, her brow furrowing.

“How do you mean?” Alex asked.

“I can’t put my finger on it,” Kara shook her head, “she did just see her brother in prison for the first time in two years. That would shake anyone up,” she said dismissively.

“You’re not going to use that as an excuse not to tell her today, are you?” Alex asked, sceptical brow raised.

“What? Me? Put something off doing something that I know I need to do but I’m terrified of doing anyway?” Kara asked preposterously. “It’s almost like you don’t know me at all.”

Alex’s frown broke into an affectionate smile and she shook her head lightly. “Whatever you say.”

“Just pull it off like a Band-Aid. Maybe blood will spurt horribly everywhere, maybe it won’t. You won’t know until you just rip that sucker off,” Maggie said, clearly thinking she was being helpful, as the Danvers sisters gave her matching horrified looks.

“That’s really bad advice,” Kara whispered weakly.

“I think that’s our cue to leave,” Alex grimaced. She kissed Kara on the top of her head and made her promise to call afterwards, then gathered up her things and her girlfriend before Maggie decided to give any more ‘helpful’ advice.

Kara leaned her back against the door to her apartment as she pressed it shut once the two had left. She let out a long exhale, her eyes closing. “Ok, Kara Zor-El. You can do this,” she murmured to herself.

Kara spent the next hour pacing back and forth all over her apartment, polishing off another three muffins as she frantically rehearsed what she was going to say to Lena—as if that would even help.

“I’m Supergirl. I am Supergirl. I am Supergirl,” she said out loud to herself over and over again with different inflections and tones—but nothing ever felt right. “Hey Lena, did you know I can fly? Lena! How’s it going? Funny story, as it turns out, I’m Supergirl. Lenaaa! So you know how you’ve been sharing sweet lady kisses with Supergirl lately? You’re really good at that by the way. Also, I’m Supergirl. Um, Surprise?”

Kara grimaced and shook her head, taking a frustrated bite of the last muffin. Then it occurred to her: maybe she didn’t even need to say anything; maybe she could just show Lena.

She stood in front of her mirror and practiced unbuttoning her shirt to reveal the conspicuous red ‘S’ emblazoned on its cobalt blue background. She tried it slowly, from bottom to top, and from top to bottom, redoing the buttons with increasing frustration every time. Eventually she just ripped her shirt open, only to have one of the buttons fly off, rebound against the mirror and hit her squarely on the crinkle that had taken up residency on her forehead.

Kara sighed and fetched another shirt from her bedroom, making sure to fasten the buttons very delicately. She looked at herself in the mirror once more, taking a deep breath as she stared herself in the face.

“Lena, there’s something I have to tell you. There’s no easy way to go about this, and I wish I could have told you sooner, but I had to protect myself. And you—I had to protect you too. People who know this about me have a way of ending up in the crosshairs…not that you need much help in that department. Anyway, Lena, what I’m trying to say is, I’m—“

Kara faltered mid-sentence as she was cut short by a firm knocking at the door. She didn’t need x-ray vision to know who waited on the other side. Casting a final glance at her reflection, she fixed her hair and slipped her glasses on before heading to the door.

Sliding the door open revealed the Luthor heiress standing on her doorstep, clad in jet-black riding boots and form-fitting leather pants which matched her jacket. Her hair spilled over her shoulder in relative disarray, and she was also completely drenched.

“Lena. You’re wet,” was all Kara managed in a puzzled voice.

Lena quirked an eyebrow. “How very astute of you, Kara. I can see why you make such a fine reporter,” she noted as she breezed past Kara into the apartment. Kara stood in a daze as Lena unzipped her jacket to reveal a grey t-shirt that clung to her damp skin and hung it on the back of one of her bar stools.

“A torrential downpour was exactly what I needed after today’s clusterfuck,” Lena grumbled, striding into Kara’s bathroom where she helped herself to a towel. She popped her head out as she patted her hair dry to say, “sorry, I know you don’t like cursing, but today was just…fucked.” She disappeared once again in the bathroom as Kara slowly closed the door, scratching her head in bewilderment.

Whatever she’d been expecting from Lena, this certainly hadn’t been it.

Now relatively dry, Lena exited the bathroom and sank into Kara’s couch with a sigh, giving Kara a moment to take her in. This was a new look on the CEO: her cheeks flushed pink against ivory skin, raven hair unkempt and untamed, lashes still bearing the evidence of rain on long strands which framed ever-strikingly green eyes. It was wholly different from her usually immaculate presentation complete with tailored outfits and heels, yet still possessed the ability to render Kara completely speechless.

She quickly realised that she was just standing there, staring at Lena from the doorway, and forced herself to move. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, thank you,” Lena shook her head and chewed at the pad of her thumb, her eyes focused directly ahead as Kara slipped down onto the couch next to her.

“What happened?” Kara asked. “You sounded a little, ah, strained on the phone. What did Lex say?”

“Well…we certainly had an illuminating conversation,” Lena answered cryptically.

Kara rubbed at the back of her neck and tried for a different approach. “How are you feeling? Seeing your brother couldn’t have been easy, especially after all that’s happened.”

Lena turned her head, her eyes finally connecting with Kara’s. “Seeing Lex is never going to be easy for me. He’s so different to who I remember...but I’m glad I went. Things make sense now.”

Kara raised an eyebrow. “You mean he’s not a threat after all? You’re not in danger?”

Lena laughed bitterly and ran her fingers through her hair. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that for certain. But what I can say is that my brother doesn’t pose a threat to me, at least not in the present moment. As it turns out, it’s my mother who is after me.” Kara’s eyes went wide and Lena merely shrugged in response. “Some family, right?”

Kara frowned in reaction to how casual Lena was being about this. Where was the Lena Luthor who unleashed her fury on a heavy bag until her hands bled? Maybe she was just numb to her family drama after all these years.

“Do you know where she is?” Kara asked. “We should be going after her, we can finally—“

“Kara, Kara,” Lena said sternly and reached out to clasp her hand which had balled itself into a fist, reeling Kara in from the springboard into action from which she was about to jump. “I can handle my mother. Now that I know what I’m dealing with, I can take care of it. Knowledge is power, as they say,” she said with a wry twitch of her brow.

For a moment, the only sound was that of the rain tapping steadily against the window. “Learning about my mother isn’t all I took away from speaking with Lex,” Lena’s voice eventually broke through the silence. “He brought some things into focus for me. I see them clearly now.”

Kara found herself unable to hold Lena’s penetrating gaze for long, and dropped her eyes down to her lap. Still, she felt the Luthor’s eyes on her, like she could see right through her. “What kinds of things?” she asked, not daring to speak much louder than a whisper.

Lena sighed. “Ever since your heroics at the CatCo party, things have been a little complicated for me. I felt like my heart was pulling me one way while my mind was telling me something else and my body…well it just had a mind of its own,” she confessed with a dismissive shake of her head and a sharp exhale. “But things are finally starting to make sense.”

Lena had shifted closer as she spoke. Kara could see individual drops of water on her neck as the hand which had been holding hers trailed lightly up her arm, leaving a trail of goosebumps in its wake.

Lena continued, her voice low and lingering on every word. “Like how your smile has this extraordinary ability to brighten up my day. Like how your hand on mine makes me feel this sense of safety I’ve only ever felt with one other person. Like how something can be right under your nose, staring you in the face until you find the one missing piece that brings the full picture into clarity.”

Lena’s fingertips had forged a path up Kara’s shoulder and traced along her jawline, coming to rest at the nape of her neck. Kara’s head was spinning, intoxicated by the closeness of the dark haired woman, her thoughts blurring out of focus before she could get a handle on them. Her eyes were locked in with Lena’s, and she could see an unmistakable woe within their depths. 

“Lena, I…” she murmured. They were only a breath apart now. “I’m sorry.”

The words had barely left Kara’s lips when Lena’s own were pressed up against them. Kara folded into Lena with a short sigh, the remaining shreds of her resolve crumbling under the sensation of Lena’s lips and the woman’s hands at her cheeks, fingers tangling themselves into her hair at the base of her skull. Her arm slipped around the CEO’s waist, drawing on her inhuman strength to pull her impossibly close.

In all honesty, she believed that this would be the last time. There was something in Lena’s voice and her eyes that conveyed that things were going to change, but as long as she was kissing her, maybe they could stay suspended in this limbo—somewhere between lies and truth where this could exist.

Kara was drowning in her, so much so she barely registered Lena’s hands undoing the buttons of her shirt. The first two buttons came undone easily, with steady hands. Lena’s hands picked up speed by the third, fumbled with the fourth, until finally the final buttons were hastily pulled apart.

“Take off your glasses, Kara.” Lena’s ragged voice cut through Kara’s urgency, bringing everything to a shuddering halt.

Kara stuttered forward into the void between their lips, a gasping breath escaping her mouth at the sudden loss of contact. She kept her eyes shut tight, not daring to move a single muscle.

“Please,” Lena whispered.

Kara tensed her jaw and reached up a trembling hand to slide her glasses off, finally opening her eyes as the final vestige of her disguise fell away, the truth laid bare for all to see. She drew in a breath and met Lena’s eyes, not as Supergirl, not as Kara Danvers, but as something in between; her two identities colliding together in the most cataclysmic fashion.

Lena stared back at her and swallowed hard. Her eyes burned. When she couldn’t look at her face any longer, Lena’s gaze flicked down to her chest, to the unavoidable incriminating crimson ‘S’.

Lena reached out a hand to trace the stitching, like she had done before in quiet moments on her balcony or in her living room, when she lived in this dream where a Super and a Luthor could be together in this world where everything was stacked against them.

“I hoped…I really hoped I would be wrong. But here you are. Supergirl.” 

Kara hated the way Lena was looking at her: like she was a complete stranger. 

“Lena, please, let me explain—“

“Kara, don’t,” Lena cut her short, shaking her head. “I don’t need you to explain. What’s done is done…the thing is, I felt something so powerful for her…it even scared me a bit. But, still, deep down I knew I was never getting all of her. There was always something missing. Kara, you could have…” Lena trailed off and shook her head. “I’m not going to sit here and play the ‘if only’ game. It’s counterproductive.”

Kara swallowed and gripped Lena’s hands in her own, like she could hold onto her even though she could feel her slipping away. “I never meant to hurt you, Lena. I need you to know that.”

“But you did.” Lena smiled sadly, tears held at bay behind her lash line. Her hand was at Kara’s cheek again, thumb skating across cheekbones. “You don’t get to decide who gets hurt when you wear a suit of thorns, I’m afraid. Guess I just got too close,” she said softly, and Kara’s heart splintered in her chest. “I can’t be here right now.” Lena stood abruptly.

Kara sat on the couch, mute and helpless as Lena made for the door. She had never felt so completely powerless.

Lena hesitated at the door, her hand frozen on the doorknob. “I mean, who were we kidding right? A Super and a Luthor? It’s ludicrous, really. We’re like…the Sun and the Moon.” She looked at Kara over her shoulder, her eyes lingering on the blonde’s for a moment before she left.

Kara didn’t know how long she stared at the door, thinking of all the ways she could explain that it had all been just as real for her as it had for Lena, that she had to keep it a secret to protect herself, that she was sorry that she had lied to her and manipulated her, even if it was with the best intentions. But she knew it wouldn’t matter. Lena was hurting, and she had done that.

Maybe they were like the sun and the moon: destined to chase each other’s light across the celestial plane for all time, always just out of one another’s reach.

Chapter Text

Kara didn’t have to say anything for Alex to know she was upset when she walked into the DEO. When Kara hadn’t called her after seeing Lena, Alex had figured it had either gone extremely well or extremely poorly. Kara’s face was enough to give her an answer: there was practically a little storm cloud over her head.

“Sparring room?” Alex asked her sister, eyebrows arched inquisitively.

“Sparring room.”

Kara cranked the kryptonite levels up as high as Alex would allow it. Every punch felt like her limbs were filled with lead; like she was pushing mountains with her fists.

“Again,” she gasped every time Alex took her down, sweat dripping from her face onto the canvas floor.

Alex gave her a pained look, but she knew Kara’s limits, and she respected her too much to go easy. Kara’s punches were undisciplined and unrestrained. The few that connected with Alex set the older Danvers back a few steps with a grunt. But Kara left herself open to all of Alex’s swift and effective takedowns. Sheer strength and force wasn’t always enough. Kara knew that—Alex had taught her that long ago.

Alex swept Kara’s feet out from under her and pushed her shoulder down to the ground, pinning her there with a firm forearm.

“Again,” Kara sputtered, but Alex shook her head.

Kara was at the end of her rope, her face turning a sickly green colour from the kryptonite exposure. “That’s enough,” Alex said firmly. She released Kara and dialled the kryptonite levels back to zero.

Kara sighed in exasperation and pushed herself up from the matt, circling her arms around her knees as she slowly felt her strength return, like every one of her cells was regenerating. Alex sat down next to her sister, who leaned into her side, breathing hard and staring straight ahead. She wrapped her arms around Kara, wishing with all her being that she could make this fractured woman whole.

“Feeling any better?” Alex asked quietly after they had sat there for a while.

“No,” Kara croaked. “But thanks anyway, Al.”

“Any time.”

//

Lena Luthor prided herself on the knowledge that she was a strong person. She was a steel beam, forged in the fires of the Luthor Mansion, where Lionel was distant, and a good day with Lillian was a day when she went completely ignored. On a bad day, Lillian did her worst to break her down, using subtle criticisms from her sharp tongue as weapons with which to pierce Lena’s armour. But she never cracked, and she was proud of that.

Lena had watched helplessly as her beloved brother lost his mind, despite her every effort to keep him in the light. The media had hounded her relentlessly in the months leading up to and after Lex’s trial, but every malicious headline only served to strengthen her armour, which by now was nigh impenetrable. Nothing touched her anymore.

But she would be lying if she tried to convince herself that finding out she was truly a Luthor hadn’t struck a weak spot in her defences—a hairline fracture that threatened to splinter everything she had built into thousands of pieces. Everything she had ever believed about herself was called into question with this one revelation.

Was Lionel the good man she had always believed him to be? Was Lillian truly the monster she had imagined her as her whole life? Knowing the truth, Lena almost sympathised with the woman. Living with her, a constant and undeniable reminder of Lionel’s betrayal, couldn’t have been easy. Lena could feel the same sour taste in her mouth Lillian must have felt looking at her, all those years since she entered their lives.

Most of all, Lena questioned if she, too, was meant for the Luthor destiny; if her future was to be coloured by hate, by evil, by madness. Believing she was not of Luthor blood had kept her safe for all these years, or so she thought. But now that defence was gone, leaving Lena completely exposed.

Lena had never been more aware of the blood that ran through her veins. She imagined a dark and thick sludge coursing sluggishly through her body, spreading an inky black throughout her organs, her flesh, her bones. She desperately just wanted to claw it out—as though doing so would extricate herself from this new nightmarish reality.

All Lena wanted to do was talk to Supergirl, to make sense of it all, to not be so alone with this.

Or Kara. Or whoever it was she had been falling in love with.

Something inside of her ached to share this burden, and she knew Kara could only make it lighter. She imagined Kara bearing some of this crushing weight on her broad, capable shoulders. Lena knew she could, that she’d be willing to take on even more than what Lena would allow, just to ease the pressure on her own back.

But she couldn’t do that to Kara. No. Kara Danvers would take on everything to the point where it crushed her, and she’d still be smiling just for Lena’s sake.

Perhaps Supergirl could take this weight. Lena had seen darkness in her that mirrored her own, in its own way. It was hard to believe that darkness also belonged to Kara, who had been Lena’s unwavering source of light for their entire friendship. But, the more she thought about it, the more she recognised that this wasn’t true: Kara wasn’t just a walking ray of sunshine, as much as she had wanted to believe.

The same anger laid deep in her incredibly blue eyes, the same pain hid at the edges of her radiant smile, and the same weight of two worlds rested on her shoulders.

//

Over a week passed and Lena didn’t call. Or text. Or email.

Not that Kara had expected her too, but she had hoped that maybe, with some time…

She’d lost count of the times she’d started messages to Lena, given up halfway through, and deleted the words instantly, leaving the proverbial trashcan overflowing with words that could never quite communicate what Kara really meant to say.

Lena, I’m sorry.

Lena, I didn’t mean to hurt you.

Lena, please don’t push me away. You don’t have to do this alone.

//

“What do you mean, I rescheduled the meeting with R&D? That’s not something I would do…” Lena frowned over her tablet as Jess tensed under her glare.

“Y-you did, Miss Luthor. You were going to have lunch with Kara Danvers, remember?”

Lena grimaced, pinched the bridge of her nose and nodded. “Of course.” She felt a stab of guilt and sympathy for her assistant. She must have inadvertently made her job even more difficult by making her fit her impossible schedule around meeting with Kara Danvers. Maybe she’d gotten a little over zealous with the novelty of having a friend.

“So, is lunch still on?” Jess asked, somewhat cautiously.

“No,” Lena said curtly. “And you can go ahead and cancel all future appointments with Miss Danvers.”

Jess fixed her with a puzzled look. “Did something happen?”

Lena ignored the question and busied herself with her tablet. “Have R&D in my office in fifteen minutes. I needed their reports to me yesterday.”

//

Kara stared at the jacket that still hung on the back of her kitchen barstool. Lena had left it behind, and Kara hadn’t had the heart to move it. Tonight, she finally reached for it and picked it up. Running her fingers over the material, she discovered that it was surprisingly soft and smooth. In a word, it felt luxurious.

Kara carried it with her to the couch, where a movie blared in the background, and laid down underneath her blanket with the jacket tucked between her arms. It smelled of Lena’s jasmine perfume, mixed with the faint musk of sweat and gasoline, and when Kara fell asleep, she dreamed of raven hair and dark red lips and the open road.

//

Lena swilled the scotch in the glass and drank deeply, welcoming the burning sensation that slid down her throat and pooled in her stomach. She exhaled and leaned her elbows against the railing of her apartment’s balcony. The cool night air prickled at the skin of her bare arms, and she took another long drink to warm herself up.

With a twinge of irritation, she realised that she was scanning the skies, almost thirstily, just waiting for an inky shadow to cross her vision, bringing with it the quickening of her heartbeat and the tossing of her stomach. Lena grimaced as the memory of Kara’s touch ghosted across her skin and over her lips, as tangible as if it had only been yesterday that everything was fine and not completely broken like it was now.

The rational part of herself understood Kara had a reason for keeping her secret identity a secret, but she couldn’t help being hurt. It was beyond her control, despite how irrational it was. She hated being irrational, so that only made Lena angrier. At herself, at Kara, at the whole world? Lena barely knew anymore.

//

Kara threw herself into being Supergirl more than she ever had before. She put out fires, broke her weekly record of thwarted petty criminals, and even helped the mayor get to work on time when he was stuck in a traffic jam. No job was too small for Supergirl!

On a good day, there would even be an alien to defeat.

On a great day, Kara would fight and help people until even her Kryptonian energy reserves were depleted. She would tumble in through her window after a long night and collapse into bed, settling into a blissfully empty sleep.

Great days were increasingly hard to come by.

//

It seemed Supergirl was saving up a storm. Lena could barely turn a television on without seeing a smiling blonde face staring back at her. One day she was shaking the mayor’s hand, the next she was rescuing a kitten from a tree in the morning, and that same afternoon she was pushing a sixteen wheeler with a flat tyre to the nearest service station.

She certainly was doing a good job of keeping busy.

One evening, Lena paused the TV with a glass of wine in her hand and stared at the smiling Kryptonian that filled her screen. Only, she wasn’t smiling, not for real anyway. Lena knew what a Kara Danvers or Supergirl or whatever she was supposed to think of her now smile looked like, and that certainly wasn’t it.

This was only a shadow of it, and Lena’s stomach twisted at the thought that she was the reason for this offensive imitation of that smile. Maybe she had made a mistake, pushing Kara away. It would be so easy to just call her, to just put everything behind them and start fresh. Lena’s heart ached at the thought of having that smile in her life again, to bring some light into the darkness that had begun to consume her world…

But then her stomach twisted violently, knowing that she couldn’t fully trust her right now, no matter how brightly her dimpled smile shone. Her trust had taken a beating, and it was going to take...something (Lena didn't know what it would take) to heal. Lena swallowed down the rest of her wine and switched the television off.

//

When Kara ran out of old ladies to help cross the street, she busied herself with a new project: finding Lillian Luthor. Knowing she was after Lena made doing nothing feel like an obscene waste of time. Compounded by Lena’s complete radio science, Kara was becoming increasingly anxious. Standing still was becoming unbearable; she had to just do something.

“Come on Winn, it’s just a quick credit card trace and some call records. You could do this in your sleep!” Kara begged, tugging on Winn’s cardigan as they strode through the DEO.

“Kara, Lillian Luthor is a private citizen. What you’re suggesting constitutes as spying, which would be a federal crime,” Winn hissed through grit teeth.

“Maybe that’s true; maybe it’s a teensy weensy crime. But Lillian Luthor is evil,” Kara whispered desperately.

“I thought you said Luthors weren’t evil,” Winn challenged.

“I only ever said that about one Luthor,” Kara countered stubbornly. “Winn, please. I’m grasping at straws here; I need to do something. Winn, you’re my only hope.”

Winn fixed her with a long look then sighed in defeat. “Fine. Of course you’d know that quoting Star Wars can get me to do anything,” he muttered.

Kara beamed.

//

It seemed Lex was perfectly content to play both sides of the field when it came to Lena and Lillian, as Lillian soon found out that Lena knew the truth. Jess had buzzed in on the intercom that day, her voice shaking when she told Lena it was her mother on the line.

Lena’s hands froze over the keyboard, and she swallowed hard. There was only one reason her mother would be calling her: she knew that Lena knew the truth, and now she was trying to do damage control.

"Tell her I'm in a meeting," Lena ordered Jess and promptly disconnected the phone. Her heart pounded in her chest. Knowing Jess the assistant was the only thing separating her from her mother was unnerving to say the least. 

“What, Lee?” Lex had asked innocently when Lena had confronted him about it, shrugging his shoulders. “She’s my mother; I can’t lie to her.”

“Once a mummy's boy, always a mummy's boy,” Lena said dryly, rolling her eyes.

“Don’t worry, Lee. I’m still on your side. I really don’t want to see you harmed; I’m quite fond of you.” Lex went to move his bishop to the other side of the board, but his cuffed hand didn’t quite allow him the full extension. Lena obliged and moved the piece the rest of the way, effectively taking her own rook. “Besides,” Lex continued, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Mother is kind of nuts,” he whispered, flashing a conspiring grin that immediately transported Lena back to all the times they’d caused trouble as kids.

Lena sighed, shaking her head with a sad smile. “I have noticed. Now, Lex. Tell me more about these vaults.” She hopped her knight forward, preparing to strike against Lex’s queen.

//

Lillian Luthor was a ghost. Winn’s extensive background searches turned up nothing but dead ends. It was as though two years ago, shortly after Lex’s trial, Lillian Luthor had just up and disappeared on any official records. She had no registered addresses, no financial records, no cell phone data. The only proof she was still alive were the public events at which she showed herself, perhaps in an effort to maintain the Luthor name’s position in high society.

In an act of desperation, Kara flew to Luthor mansion. She didn’t know what she expected to find—finding Lillian Luthor sipping a martini in the lounge room seemed highly unlikely—but Kara was fresh out of ideas, and she needed to keep busy.

She touched down gently on the lawn. The mansion loomed in front of her, casting an imposing shadow across the ground. Everything was completely still. A quick x-ray scan of the house revealed that it was completely empty, which Kara had expected. Now that Lionel had passed away and Lex was in prison, the mansion had been left notoriously abandoned.

Gaining access was relatively easy once she found a skylight she could pry open. Kara dropped gracefully to the floor and straightened to find herself in a dark hallway. Every footstep echoed infinitely as her boots clacked against wooden floors, causing the hairs on the back of Kara’s neck to stand on end.

She wasn’t sure what she was hoping to find—just something, anything that might help her. After a few minutes wandering around, Kara found herself in a room that could only be Lena’s.

A twin bed, a low bookshelf that also served as a nightstand, and a wooden desk were the only pieces of furniture in the room, which was relatively small compared to the rest of the spaces in the house. Kara wondered why Lena had been shoved in this small space, when she’d passed many larger vacant rooms during her Luthor Mansion house tour. Though, knowing what she did about Lillian Luthor, it wasn’t at all surprising Lena had been tucked away in a small corner of the house, as if to be forgotten.

Kara subconsciously held her breath as she ventured in the room, examining everything inside with scientific curiosity. She pulled back one of the balls of the Newton’s Cradle that sat on Lena’s desk, the clacking sound providing the soundtrack as Kara admired Lena’s trophy shelf. It was filled with chess trophies and academic awards, ribbons, and certificates.

“Lena, you nerd,” Kara murmured to herself, unable to contain an affectionate smile. Kara wondered if bringing home any of these awards had earned even an ounce of Lillian’s approval Kara knew Lena desperately craved, despite whatever she might say.

The bookshelf was stuffed to bursting with books: textbooks on the top row and novels on the bottom. The textbooks appeared to be catalogued and ordered with a specific system: by subject, and then by author within each subject. Kara couldn’t help but smile; that was so Lena.

It took Kara a little longer to figure out how the novels had been ordered, but once she did, her smile became even fonder. The books furthest from the bed looked relatively knew and well preserved, like they hadn’t been opened more than a couple of times. Still, they must have been important enough to deserve the bookshelf’s real estate. A bible, a couple of biographies, and some Nancy Drew books sat at that end. Right at the edge of the shelf was James Joyce’s Ulysses, which made Kara chuckle.

If she had to guess, she imagined Lena had opened it once and become completely frustrated by Joyce’s infinite intertextual references and complete lack of anchor points for the reader to hold onto, then closed the book immediately after. But, Lena being Lena, she wouldn’t have let a book defeat her, and left it on the shelf as a reminder. One day she would be back to take it on. One day.

Kara’s finger traced the spines of the books, travelling towards the side of the bookshelf that was closest to the bed, where the books became progressively more well-worn, with cracked spines, ragged covers, and dog-eared pages. At this end, was a tome of Greek myths and legends, and a tattered copy of Frankenstein.

Gently, Kara pried the book from the shelf and slowly flipped through the pages. Every other line in the text had been underlined or highlighted, and just about every inch of space in the margins was filled with tiny, delicate writing in all different colours. Lena must have read this book countless times, finding something new with every read.

There was something fascinating about Lena’s fixation with this story of the scientist who created life and was subsequently horrified and tormented by his creation. Thumbing through the pages, Kara found herself dying to pick Lena’s brain to find out what she thought about science and life and art, but all too soon she remembered the look on Lena’s face as she’d left her apartment that day, and those imagined conversations over books and tea, snuggled up in Kara’s apartment suddenly felt like a cruel dream.

The Newton’s Cradle’s clacking slowed to a stop as the contraption’s momentum ran out, and Kara was left sitting in a complete silence stretching out all around her. The house just felt too empty, too hollow, and Kara couldn’t stay any longer.

Kara straightened with a shaky breath, still holding Frankenstein in her hands. Without thinking much as to why, she scooped down and retrieved Ulysses from the shelf too, before turning on her heel and heading back for the skylight.

It’s not stealing, she thought to herself as her cape snapped in the wind behind her. Not if I give them back…eventually.

//

Lena huddled over the small device set into the wall, a concentrated frown marking her brow. She bit the inside of her cheek as she fiddled with a set of pliers, making the final adjustments.

Some would say she was being paranoid, but Lena preferred to think of it as being prepared. At some point, she got sick of sitting around in her apartment or her office just waiting for something to happen. She refused to feel like someone else was the master of her destiny: she was a Luthor, after all.

Lena input a set of directives in on her tablet and with the press of a button, the device sparked to life. She straightened up with a self-satisfied grin, wiping at her forehead with the back of her hand.

At least something was finally going right.

//

More time passed, and there was still not so much as a whisper from Lena. At this point, Kara was beginning to accept the reality that perhaps Lena wanted nothing to do with her. Which was perfectly understandable, of course. Kara didn’t know if she would react any differently if someone she was falling for had been lying about who they were the entire time. It took monumental effort to suppress her immediate instinct to fight for Lena with everything she had. For this to work, Lena had to come back to her of her own accord.

“You know what they say,” Alex had murmured one night, wrapping Kara up in a blanket and pulling her close, “if you love something, set it free: if it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t…” she trailed off.

“It never was,” Kara supplied quietly. Rao, she hoped for the former.

When she flew aimlessly around the city on sleepless nights, listening out for the sounds of sirens or screams, Kara found herself drifting towards the towering ‘L’ in National City’s skyline. The top floor’s light was always on, but Kara always caught herself before she got too close, clenching her fists as she turned towards home instead.

This silence was deafening.

Chapter Text

Kara sighed glumly, sitting alone in the DEO break room. Her cheek was smooshed down against the back of her hand, which rested flat on the table, and she busied herself splitting open a packet’s worth of individual M&M’s against the acrylic surface with her fingertips. She had absolutely no intention of moving until a building was on fire, or an alien was rampaging across national city, or some other disaster of similar magnitude required her to fly in and save the day.

It took her almost a full thirty seconds to realise someone had sat down opposite her, her super hearing completely oblivious to the scrape of metal chair against floor. When she finally registered the presence of another human being, she blinked up to see Alex Danvers sat across from her, a concerned look etched across her face.

“What on Earth are you doing?”

“Just seeing if the meaning of life is hiding within one of these M&Ms.” Kara crinkled her brow and focused her attention back on her work, crushing an orange M&M beneath her finger. “Nope. Just chocolate.” Her voice was thick with apathy.

Alex grimaced and pinched at the bridge of her nose. “Jesus, Kara, this is bad. Was I like this when I was pining over Maggie? Never mind, I don’t want to know.” Alex shook her head decisively and reached out for her sister’s hand, who pouted as she was cut off from her next candy victim. “Kara, I say this with nothing but love in my heart, but you need to get a grip.”

Kara angled her head on the table to frown up at her sister. “She hates me, Alex. She hasn’t called or so much as messaged me since I told her who I was. she clearly wants nothing to do with me—Kara Danvers or Supergirl.” Kara sighed glumly and used her free hand to flick an M&M across the room, where it buried itself into the drywall with a neat crunch.

Alex slid her eyes from the break room’s new wall feature back to Kara’s hopeless face and sighed with exasperation. “You have a phone too, last time I checked. And what’s stopping you from just flying over there? Don’t tell me she put up a force field.”

Kara huffed a laugh. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did.” With what felt like monumental effort, she pushed herself up from the table and slumped down in her seat, withdrawing her hand from Alex’s so she could twist at her fingers in her lap. “You didn’t see the way she looked at me, Alex,” she said quietly. The image had burned itself into the deepest corners of her mind: the hurt flashing in those inescapable green eyes, the smile stolen away from the soft lips Kara had come to know so well, replaced instead with harsh lines and a set jaw. Kara winced and shook her head of the memory, lifting her eyes to meet Alex’s. “It was like she didn’t even know me. Like I was a complete stranger.”

“Kara…”

“I just—the thing is, she did know me. Does know me, because I let her. I wanted her to know me. Even though she really got to know me through Supergirl, I was never anything but myself with her. It was just so…easy. I can only say that about a handful of people.”

“That’s why you need to do something about it. If she means this much to you—which she clearly does—you can’t just sit around waiting for something to happen. You need to fight for her.”

“I have,” Kara pouted stubbornly. “Winn and I have tried everything we could think of to track Lillian down, but it’s just no use.” Kara’s fists balled in exasperation. The search for Lillian had turned up nothing but dead end after dead end, and Kara had watched helplessly as what she saw as her last chance slipped slowly away.

Alex’s expression softened. Of course Kara believed that doing something like finding Lillian Luthor would be the solution to all her problems. Kara had always believed solutions could be found ‘out there’, in the real world, if you only searched hard enough. But Alex knew that when it came to matters of the heart, that wasn’t always true. More often than not, the solution came from within.

“Kara…that’s not the kind of fighting I’m talking about. You can’t just go off and solve Lena’s problems and think that will fix everything. It won’t. You have to tell her how you feel, and ask for forgiveness. You have to be vulnerable with her—that requires a different kind of courage than you’re normally used to using.”

Kara fixed her sister with a long look. She was right—of course she was right. But that didn’t mean Kara had to like it.

“Since when did you become such a relationship guru?”

Alex chuckled, a slight blush tinging her cheeks. “You learn a thing or two when you’re with someone like Maggie Sawyer. Believe it or not, we’ve had some bumps in the road. But we always work together, we talk through it, and we come out the other side stronger than we were before.”

Kara surveyed her sister, taken aback not for the first time by how much she had grown and changed in such a short period. “Alex Danvers…” she murmured admiringly, “you are so gay.”

“I know, right?” Alex sighed contentedly and ate an M&M which had survived Kara’s wrath.

Kara opened her mouth to speak, but the words were silenced as a sudden loud blaring and flashing red lights filled the room. “What’s that?” Kara frowned. “Another alien on the loose?”

“That’s a code green,” Alex answered, already standing up from the table. “Haven’t you read the DEO handbook?”

“There’s a handbook?” Kara called out as she jogged after Alex down the halls.

The Danvers sisters reached central command to find alarms flashing and sounding everywhere. “What’s going on, J’onn?” Alex asked, folding her arms over her chest.

Kara’s eyes, however, were fixed upon the screens in front of her. “Why is L-Corp on the monitors?” she asked, her voice tight, as she toed a few steps closer to the screens that lined the room, displaying the unmistakable facade of the L-Corp building. “Winn?” she asked pointedly when she wasn’t answered straight away.

Winn cleared his throat and glanced up from his tablet. “I—uh, L-Corp’s security alarm was tripped just moments ago. It would appear that the building is—how do I put this—under attack?”

Kara felt the air escape her lungs as everything around her froze. Her eyes remained transfixed on the monitors above and around her, displaying a kaleidoscopic loop of footage from outside L-Corp: at first, the building was completely still and silent, then eight armoured trucks careened up to the entrance, and groups of men clad in black combat gear spilled forth onto the sidewalks, making a beeline for the front entrance. The footage cut out after that, and promptly repeated over and over, Kara’s mind coming up with more devastating images with each repeat: Jess’s desk overturned, Lena’s office in total chaos, Lena missing from the building, or hurt, or worse…

She clenched her fists at her sides and spun on her heel, boots clacking as she pounded up the stairs to where J’onn and Alex stood. “I’m going,” was all she said.

“Supergirl, we need to assess what we’re dealing with first; we need a plan,” J’onn insisted firmly, in that steady and even tone that made him perfect as the head of the DEO, but right now only served to make Kara’s blood boil as he dared to suggest waiting even another second.

“Alex, J’onn, get a team together and get yourselves to L-Corp. Winn, get those security cams back online. I’m going ahead. That’s the plan,” she said firmly, eyes ablaze. Alex fixed her with a look for a moment, then nodded in agreement, knowing Kara wouldn’t compromise on this, and set to work, gathering agents to take out into the field.

Without another word, Kara took off into the sky, the glass windows of the DEO office rattling behind her in her wake. Her cape snapped in the wind behind her as she flew faster than ever before along the well-travelled route to L-Corp, a path she knew like the back of her hand.

And maybe, just maybe, a small part of her was glad to be flying to Lena’s rescue. Because being vulnerable with her feelings was terrifying, but saving her? That was all in a day’s work for Supergirl.

//

The blinking alert on her laptop pulled Lena’s attention from the document she had been halfway through signing. Calmly, she set her pen down and opened up the security feed on her laptop. She watched as the trucks pulled up to the front of her building and a small army spilled out onto the sidewalk. That had her eyebrow raised—Lillian certainly wasn’t taking any chances. At least it meant she wasn’t underestimating her, for possibly the first time ever.

Lena scanned the black and white footage intently and then, there she was: Lillian Luthor, slipping regally down from one of the trucks, aided by a hulking man who had what looked like half a metallic face. Lena swallowed at a lump in her throat as the woman she’d spent so long getting away from now approached the entrance to her building. She hadn’t changed since she’d last seen her. Even through the security footage, the shrewd face, piercing eyes, and straight-backed authoritative walk were unmistakable.

Lena allowed her eyes to linger on the woman for only a moment before diving into action, tapping systematically at her tablet. She initiated the building’s lockdown sequence, which had security rollers sliding down across all the main entry points and locked all the side doors and windows. From the security cams outside, she could see about a third of Lillian’s forces had been locked outside, but Lena knew they wouldn’t be stopped for long.

Next, she sent out alerts to the employees using the company’s intranet. Luckily it was well past the time most of them went home, but Lena knew there were more than a few night owls who would still be in the building. The alerts she sent out contained instructions and codes to access secured locations in the building. She chewed on the inside of her cheek, sparing a second to appeal to some higher power, whatever that may be, that everyone would be safe. If a single innocent person got caught in the crossfire, she would never forgive herself.

A sudden tremor reverberating through the floor snapped her from her thoughts, and she whipped around to see Supergirl crouched on her balcony, having landed with considerably more force than she’d ever done before. When she lifted her head, windswept blonde hair falling around her face in loose curls, her eyes locked with Lena’s, and it was like all the air was gone from the room.

Because, now that the truth was out in the open, how could she not have seen Kara Danvers under that suit?

Lena watched as Supergirl went to push the balcony door—the door which had always been open to her—and found it locked due to the enabled security protocols. She looked up at Lena with a questioning look, and Lena found herself frozen in place.

Lena had prepared for every variable, every contingency, including the almost certainty that Kara would show up (of course she would show up). What she hadn’t prepared for was the way her heart sped up in her chest, beating at hummingbird pace against her ribcage, the way her stomach swooped at the sight of her, the way she just ached and had to convince herself it was because she’d been lied to, not at all because she missed her. It took Lena a full three seconds to realise Kara was mouthing her name from behind the glass. She blinked back into the present and unlocked the door from her tablet, and the caped hero didn’t waste any time heading into the room once she’d opened it for her.

“Supergirl.” Lena’s voice was steady, and she was glad to hear it held more command than she felt at the moment. “Or is it Kara now? I’m a little unclear on the protocol, I’m afraid.” And maybe she said it with a touch more sting than she intended, evidenced by the hurt that flickered briefly across Kara’s features.

“It’s up to you, but Supergirl is fine…” Kara answered and drew in an uncertain breath. “Kind of helps with keeping the whole secret identity thing a secret.”

Silence hung in the air a moment, both women having so much to say to each other and yet neither could find any words to fill the void stretching out between them. A booming sound coming from somewhere below them also served as a reminder that this was neither the time nor the place.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Lena said, despite knowing there was really no alternate universe where Supergirl wouldn't be there if she was in any sort of trouble.

She directed her attention instead to her computer, pulling up the camera footage from the blinking alert signalling one of her traps had been sprung. A self-satisfied grin curled her lips when she saw the group of men plastered to the walls, trapped by an inky black adhesive substance of her own design. She could feel Kara standing behind her, staring at the footage with a raised eyebrow.

“Did you do that?”

“She said with surprise in her voice for some reason,” Lena scoffed and stepped away from her desk, crossing to the other side of her office to open a cabinet.

“I’m not surprised,” Kara insisted. “I’m just…impressed.”

Lena tilted her head in aloof acknowledgement of the compliment and pulled out the more functional outfit she had stashed away. If she was going to fight her mother, she sure as hell wasn’t going to do it in a designer pencil dress.

She angled her chin over her shoulder to look at Kara. “Help me with this, would you?” Lena couldn’t help the small smirk that tugged at her lips as Kara blushed furiously and glanced around the room, as though there was someone else to which Lena could possibly be referring. “Something wrong?” she asked innocently, her eyebrows arched insistently. And maybe there was a small part of her that took great satisfaction in seeing the great Supergirl so flustered—maybe it was more than just a small part.

Kara cleared her throat and ran a hand through her hair, seemingly steeling herself to comply with Lena’s request, and then she was right there at Lena’s back. Lena turned once again to look straight ahead, the length of her spine tingling with electric expectation as Kara’s hands found the top of her zipper.  Despite everything that had happened, she couldn’t deny the effect Kara had on her, regardless of whether she was wearing the cape or not.

It was almost painful, how slowly Kara lowered the mechanism, tooth by tooth.

“We could just…fly away. Really far away. Leave behind…all of this,” Kara thought aloud, her eyes following her hands as they inched the zipper downwards, glimpses of ivory white skin revealing itself with each movement. Her hand stayed at the conclusion of the zipper’s path, momentarily frozen in place as the seconds ticked by.

Lena clenched her eyes shut, feeling the warm air of Kara’s words brush against the back of her neck, and she refused to imagine a scenario in which she just said ‘fuck it’ and let Kara take her away someplace far away, where her mother would never find them. Someplace far enough that Lena forgot the hurt that pained in her chest. Someplace warm. Kara always looked beautiful in the sunshine.

But no, she wasn’t imagining that, not in the slightest.

Her head dropped with a resigned sigh. “No, Kara. We can’t.” She turned around to face her with  determination blazing in her emerald eyes. “One way or another, this has to end. You can either help me, or stay out of my way. I don’t particularly care which one; it’s your choice.”

Lena began to slip her dress off of her shoulders and Kara quickly spun around. “Like that’s even a choice, Lena,” she muttered with an enduring sigh. 

When Kara turned back around, Lena had exchanged her form-fitting pencil dress and heels for a pair of black tactical pants, a dark long-sleeved shirt, and her riding boots. She swept her hair up into a ponytail, then returned to her computer with a frown.

“What is it?” Kara asked, reading her expression.

“They’re moving fast; they set off a trap a jut a few floors below. We need to move, or we’ll be sitting ducks here.”

Lena grabbed her gun and tablet and they were out of the office. Lena’s eyes lingered on Jess’s desk as they passed by, and God she hoped that Jess was somewhere safe.

The hallways of L-Corp were quiet, weighed down with an eerie stillness Lena had never experienced before. She was no stranger to roaming the building late at night, when all of the other employees had gone home, but she found peace in those quiet nights when she could be alone to pursue her own projects. There was nothing peaceful about the building now—it was like the very walls were holding their breath.

Just as Lena was about to round a corner, she was pulled back by Kara’s strong arm and pushed up against the wall. She frowned at her, eyes flashing indignation, and was about to protest when Kara raised a silencing finger to her lips. That was when she heard the footsteps and the voices coming down the corridor.

“Watch your step, man. That Luthor bitch has been screwing us around at every turn,” one voice said gruffly.

“Which Luthor bitch? The boss or her daughter?” another replied, followed by snide laughter.

Lena could only roll her eyes, but Kara’s jaw tightened and her nostrils flared. Her eyes began glowing orange, humming with energy as she prepared a laser blast, but Lena squeezed her arm insistently.

“Wait,” she whispered, and withdrew her tablet. Seconds later, they heard the sound of bodies hitting the floor, and Lena peered around the corner with a grin.

“Peruvian sleeping darts,” she announced proudly, kicking at one of the thugs’ arms. “Very rare, and very effective.”

Kara rolled her eyes, but not without an affectionate smile. “Are you going to leave any bad guys for me?”

Lena smirked. “Not if I can help it.”

It was easier like this. Joking, teasing, just this side of flirtatious (she really couldn't help it). She could pretend it was like when they first met, before…everything else, and for now, it was what Lena could handle

“Hey, there she is! Get her!”

Lena and Kara whipped around to see a much larger group of men charging down the hall towards them.

“On second thought, they’re all yours, Supergirl.”

“Thought you’d never ask.”

Lena promptly made herself scarce, ducking behind a desk as Kara squared off to face the men with a determined look. She didn’t love the fact that she was hiding, but she was a realist: Kara definitely had a better chance at taking them on than she did, what with being Supergirl and all.

Kara launched into action, taking two guys out at full speed with a satisfying whump! Lena peered from around the desk, watching as Kara took the men out with relative ease, twirling away from their attacks like they were moving in slow motion before straightening back up to deliver devastating blows in return. She was handling it well enough, but there were many men and only one of her, which the assailants seemed to be figuring out as they all started coming at her at the same time.

Lena winced when the first blows connected—the barrel of a gun to the face followed by a fist to the gut. She knew it would barely have hurt her, but it was still difficult to watch. Lena angled out from the desk and fired a few shots into the skirmish, the bullets finding their marks and allowing Kara to get some space away from them. She took a couple steps back and unleashed her freeze breath on the remaining attackers, and within seconds, the corridor was completely still once more.

Lena popped out from behind the desk once Kara gave the all clear, and jogged forwards to examine the scene. “Nice work,” she hummed, studying one of the frozen men with scientific curiosity. He stood with his arms reaching forwards, his eyes darting wildly from behind his ice prison.

“We make a pretty good team,” Kara noted, nudging a man who had taken one of Lena’s bullets in the leg. He groaned in pain, but he would live. Lena made a non-committal noise in response. “I think you shot me,” Kara added with a slight frown, rubbing at a spot where she’d definitely felt a bullet connect with her shoulder.

Lena paled with guilt, then quickly shook her head dismissively. “You’re bulletproof, don’t be a baby. Come on, this way.”

“I can’t believe you shot me…” Kara mumbled in dumb disbelief and followed Lena into a stairwell.

They descended the stairs in silence, the thudding of boots against concrete the only sound for several floors. Kara tried not to, but she found her eyes drawn to Lena’s swaying hips and bobbing ponytail, and her mind wandered back to nights when she held this woman in her arms, when her hands wandered over the uncharted peaks and valleys of her body, when she was subject to the curve of Lena’s lips, to the sound of her laughter…Alex’s words from before echoed in Kara’s brain—about being brave in a way that didn’t involve punching people.

“Are we going to talk about what happened?” she finally asked, raising her voice above the echoing din of their footsteps.

“You really want to do this? Right now?” Lena replied, not turning around or slowing down.

“Why not? You didn’t exactly give me much of a chance to explain myself last time we spoke…”

“Explain?” Lena asked hotly with a short laugh. “You lied to me. I opened myself up to you, and you lied to me; end of story.” Lena stopped abruptly in the stairwell and whipped around to face Kara, who came to a shuddering halt. “God, Kara. You know, you could have been anyone in this whole city. But of course, you had to be my only friend—the only person other than Supergirl who I actually trusted. But, as it turns out, I can’t trust either version of you.”

Kara flinched, as the words stung in her chest. It was like now that she’d lifted the bandage on the wound, poked and prodded inside, Lena wasn’t holding back.

“Lena, that’s not fair,” Kara countered, “I can’t just go around telling everyone I meet that I’m Supergirl. It’s not safe, for me or for the other person.”

Lena scowled, crossing her arms over her chest stubbornly. “I certainly hope you don’t go around kissing ‘everyone you meet’ like you kissed me.”

Kara blushed furiously. “What? Of course not! Look, I didn’t even know what I was doing; you’re just so…” Kara gestured vaguely at Lena’s person, “you.” Lena quirked a brow because what the hell was that supposed to mean?

Kara drew in a breath and ran a hand over her face, trying to get back to what she really wanted to say. “I am so sorry for how everything happened, really, I am. I wish I could go back and do it again, you have to believe me,” she said, almost pleading. “The thing is, Lena. I thought—I thought you were only interested in me as Supergirl. You know, with the suit and the powers and the tragic backstory. That if I was just Kara Danvers, it wouldn’t be enough. That you wouldn’t…you wouldn’t want me.” Kara choked out the last part as she finally gave voice to the doubt that had tugged and nipped at her mind ever since she’s started falling for Lena.

Lena’s face was unreadable, her brows knit together in a tight-lipped frown. She was silent for a moment, before she lifted her head to face Kara. “Kara, how could you say that, it’s not—“

But Kara wouldn’t find out exactly what wasn’t, because at that moment, an explosion rocked the wall just next to where they were standing, sending Lena stumbling forward where Kara quickly caught her in her arms. On instinct, Kara spun around and braced Lena up against the wall, covering her head with her arms, as the building shook around them. Kara grimaced as pieces of falling concrete hit her shoulders and slammed against her back, but she held firmly over Lena.

Eventually, the tremors subsided and Kara eased back slightly, angling her head to look over her shoulder as the dust hung thick in the air around them. “Whoa,” she breathed. “Are you alright?” Kara asked, tipping her chin downwards to check on Lena who stood, coiled like a spring, between her arms. Kara could hear her heart pounding, giving no indication of slowing down. It was then that she realised how close they were—barely a breath away.

“I’m—I’m fine,” Lena insisted, her voice cracking slightly. She untucked her chin from her chest and looked up at Kara for a moment, the blonde Kryptonian silhouetted in the dim light and smoke and dust. Kara was acutely aware of one of Lena’s hands clinging on to her cape, twisting the fabric in its grip. Lena exhaled sharply and dropped her cape, snapping Kara back to reality enough to take a step back. “We have to keep moving,” Lena said, more decisively than she felt.

“Right,” Kara coughed, recomposing herself. Kara glanced in the direction they had been heading down to find it completely blocked by rubble and debris. “Well, that way is out. But, when one door closes…” she gestured to where, moments before, had been a solid wall, was now a gaping hole.

“That way it is, then.” Lena motioned for Kara to lead the way.

Kara brushed some flecks of rubble off her shoulder as she stepped through the newly constructed doorway, suppressing a cough through the smoke and haze. “Gee, Lena. You’re really not messing around with these booby traps of yours,” Kara joked over her shoulder, aiming for levity, but the waver in her voice didn’t quite carry it.

Lena’s stomach dropped, rapidly filling with dread as she came to a sickening realisation.

She hadn’t laid any explosive traps. Why would she destroy her own building?

Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to warn Kara, but it was too late.

A bolt of electric green energy shot out through the smoke, catching Kara in the side and sending her flying into the wall with a shuddering crack. It was all Lena could do to stop herself from screaming out Kara’s name as she fell to the ground, face twisted with pain as she tried, and failed, to push herself up.

Everything inside her screamed to go check on Kara, but something else was rooting her firmly to the spot. Lena gripped her hands around her tablet and gun, straining her eyes as three figures stepped into clarity. She didn’t recognise the other two, but the one in the middle was unmistakably Lillian Luthor.

“There you are, Lena honey.” The voice that plagued her worst childhood memories and haunted her adult nightmares sent chills down Lena’s spine. “We’ve been looking all over for you.”

Lena squared her jaw and straightened her spine, expertly erasing every possible trace of weakness from her physical being, like she’d been trained to do all her life.

A Luthor never lets their enemy know they’re afraid.

“Hello, Mother.”

Chapter Text

“Did you really think you could avoid me forever?”

Lillian Luthor’s eyes flashed—the same steely grey she’d passed on to her son—with a hunger that made Lena sick to her stomach. In her peripheral vision, Lena saw one of Lillian’s companions—a broad-shouldered man with a green glowing stone in his chest—stalking over to Kara, and it seemed like his very presence had a physical effect on her. Kara’s face twisted with discomfort as he pulled her to her knees and jerked her arms behind her back.

Kryptonite.

Because of course Lillian had Kryptonite.

Lena dragged her eyes away from Kara’s face, maintaining a completely neutral stance save for a clenched jaw and tightened fist.

A Luthor never shows weakness.

“After two years without so much as a Christmas card, or a ‘happy birthday’, or even a ‘how’s it going, kid?’, I’d more or less come to accept the fact what you weren’t a part of my life anymore,” Lena replied coolly, giving her own mother a run for her money when it came to icy glares. “It was actually kind of nice, for a while there. Bringing the company back from the brink of ruin after Lex’s trial, fending lawyers off as they came after the estate, all while defending the Luthor name in the press—completely on my own, no less—it was a real treat. Very character building, as you would say,”  Lena remarked dryly.

Lillian’s face was a granite mask, save for a slight twitch at the corner of her mouth. “Sarcasm never was attractive on you, Lena. I thought we’d trained that ugly little habit out years ago,” she noted, tutting her tongue.

Lena narrowed her eyes, suddenly feeling like a teenager again, and God she hated that Lillian could transport her back to her most vulnerable, smallest moments with just a look. She grit her teeth and buried that feeling deep down inside of her, where most of her Lillian-related feelings lived.

“Well you’ve got my attention now, Mother. What do you want?” Lena asked, despite knowing full well just what that was.

Lillian smiled—or at least, did what she thought was smiling. Her lips curved upwards, sure, and the skin around her eyes pinched closer, but the motion was completely mechanical and there was absolutely no feeling in her eyes. The final result was…disturbing, to say the least. She could really stand to take a few pointers from Kara Danvers. Now that, was a smile.

“Lena, honey, I just want to help you,” Lillian said, voice coated in sickly sweet syrup.

Lena scoffed, not buying it for even a second. “By blowing a giant hole in the building? Excuse me if I fail to see how that’s even remotely helpful,” she drawled, deciding she would be as sarcastic as she damn well pleased.

Lillian wasn’t deterred—in fact, she pulled her weird robot smile even higher on her cheeks. “I’m here because you seem to have…lost your way. I may not have been the most present mother these past few years, but I have been keeping an eye on you. I do care about you, Lena.”

Lena couldn’t contain an eye roll as the words she’d craved so much all her young life now came out of Lillian’s mouth, mechanical and rusty, like she’d rehearsed them for hours. It was almost funny to her, how much she’d yearned for this woman’s approval, every single day she’d spent living under the Luthor roof. And now, here she was, finally telling her she cared, and it just felt…cold. Not like how it felt when Kara said she cared—like she was wrapping her up in a blanket and tucking her in, keeping her safe and warm and protected. This was absolutely nothing like that, and that realisation pulled at Lena’s stomach in a way that didn’t hurt for the first time in weeks.

Lena quirked a brow and crossed her arms. “So you’ve been surveilling me. How thoughtful.”

“Everything I’ve done has been out of caring for you,” Lillian said flatly. “I couldn’t help but notice the company you’ve been keeping lately. I mean, Supergirl? Really? Did you learn nothing from what happened to Lex?” 

Lena frowned darkly, staring her mother down through defiant, green eyes. “Lex brought everything that happened to him on himself. He was driven by hatred, and anger, and he didn’t listen to anyone except for the voices in his own head telling him that aliens were to be feared and mistrusted, not listened to and learned from. In the end, that’s what destroyed him. Not Superman.”

Lillian’s face flashed with anger, the first true emotion Lena had seen from her. “You dare disrespect your brother like that?” she hissed. “He gave up everything to fight for humanity—he’s a hero.”

Lena shook her head sadly. “No, he’s not. He was wrong. And so are you.” She sighed wearily and slowly crouched down, placing her gun and tablet on the floor. “We don’t have to do this, Mother. You could just walk away right now. Call of your men, and we’ll just say this was all a big misunderstanding.” Lena took slow steps forward with each calmly spoken word. Lillian watched her like a hawk, bristling and wary. “You can disappear again, and get on with your life. You don’t have to finish what Lex started: it’s over. Humans love Supers. They’ve proved time and time again that they’re good, they’re here to help us—and they’re here to stay. I think even Lex is starting to understand that too, in his own way.” Lena came to a stop right in front of Lillian and bit at her lower lip. “If you wanted, we could even spend some time together. Get coffee, go shopping. You know, normal mother-daughter things. We could visit Lex together. Rebuild. Be a family.”

The words sounded strange as she said them, and stranger still were the images that accompanied them flooding Lena’s brain. Her and Lillian discussing L-Corp’s operations over lattes, groaning enduringly as they made fun of the more insufferable members of the board. The pair of them visiting Lex in prison, Lillian chiding Lex for losing so badly at chess to his sister, while secretly offering Lena an approving nod. These scenes played out in Lena’s mind like a strange and distant dream, blurry and hazed at the edges of the frames.

Lena knew Lillian would never make this fantasy a reality. The version of her mother in Lena’s dreams—the one who smiled on occasion, who respected her and loved her, albeit in a different way to any normal mother-daughter dynamic—was a different person entirely from the one standing in front of her.

Really, this was just a negotiation tactic: present a morally superior alternative your opponent is unlikely to accept in order to highlight the unscrupulous plan they themselves are pursuing. At best, you opponent accepts the alternative, and at worst, a seed of doubt may be planted, while you also secure claim to the moral highground.

Lena studied Lillian’s face closely for any reaction to her proposal. She seemed conflicted—perhaps, even for the briefest of moments, entertaining Lena’s suggestion. But all traces of doubt vanished as soon as they’d appeared with a swift shake of her head.

“You might not understand it yet, Lena, but I am doing this for my family. For our family. I can’t do this without you, Lena. Just think of how strong we could be together: the last two Luthors,” Lillian said, her eyes shining with that same madness Lena saw in Lex, towards the end. It chilled her to the bone.

She took a few steps back, shaking her head. “Lex told me everything, Mother. I know Lionel is my biological father, and the only reason you need me is because of my blood. You couldn’t care less about what happens to me after you get what you want.” Lena’s voice was tight, a controlled whisper, and for the first time, she allowed herself to look at Kara.

Kara was staring between Lena and Lillian, mouth agape, as she put together the ramifications of what Lena said. The truth was out there: Lena wasn’t adopted, she was Luthor through and through. Kara’s expression was difficult to read, her eyes more like tumultuous oceans than constellations, and Lena couldn’t hold her gaze for too long before it hurt.

Lillian gave a resigned sigh. “I do care about you, Lena, even if you don’t see it. But, if you won’t come willingly, maybe we can find something else that will convince you. You’re a businesswoman, or at least, you dress like one on occasion. Surely, you’re familiar with compromise.” Lillian jerked her head commandingly at the man with the metal face beside her, and Lena tensed—whatever she had in store, it couldn’t be good.

A tablet was passed to Lillian, who turned it to Lena with a smirk. What Lena saw made her insides turn to ice. She identified the break room on the twentieth floor, and huddled inside were a group of L-Corp employees: a research team she recognised from the labs, a few workers from accounts, and—front and centre, with a gun pressed between her shoulder blades—Jess.

“No,” Lena whispered, her emotionless facade cracking around the edges at the sight.

Jess looked straight into the camera lens, straight at Lena, with that fierce determination that Lena had recognised the day she had interviewed her, and subsequently hired her on the spot. “Whatever they want, don’t give it to them, Miss Luthor. We’ll be fine,” she said firmly.

One of the accountants piped up from behind her in a shrill voice: “speak for yourself, Hoang! I want to live!”

“Shut up, Cooper!” Jess hissed over her shoulder.

“So,” Lillian said smugly and swiftly pulled the tablet away. “You can either come with me, and we’ll let your underlings go. Or, you can refuse, we’ll kill everyone in that room, and we’ll take you by force. The choice is yours, but I know which one I would pick.”

Lena slowly released her clenched fists, her shoulders slumping in defeat. “I’ll go with you,” she murmured. “Just don’t hurt them. Or her,” she added, glancing over at Kara, who was staring back at her with sheer anguish in her eyes.

“You’re in no position to bargain, Lena. But don’t you worry, we’re saving something very special for her. Another day,” Lillian sneered gleefully. “Come now. Time is of the essence.” With that, Lillian turned on her heel and began walking away with the metal-faced man. The man who held Kara shoved her forcefully to the ground, where she barely caught herself on all fours, before brushing past Lena after her mother.

Lena chewed on the inside of her cheek, hesitating only a moment before she darted over to Kara, crouching down to her knees in front of her as Kara pushed herself up.

“Lena, don’t go with them,” Kara said weakly, but Lena just shook her head abruptly.

“I have to. She won’t stop until I do, you know that. But I just need you to trust me, ok? I’ve got this.”

“Lena!” Lillian barked, making Lena cringe. “I won’t be kept waiting.”

Lena let her eyes wash over Kara’s person, tracing every line, every feature, like she could drink her in with a look alone. She sighed and gave what she hoped was a reassuring smile and leaned forwards, gripping Kara by the shoulders.

“Find me, Supergirl,” she whispered in Kara’s ear. It was at once a challenge and a plea, and Kara just wanted to hold on to those words with every ounce of strength she possessed, but as soon as they had fallen from Lena’s lips, they were already slipping through her fingers. And then she was gone, jogging a few steps to catch up with her mother as they stepped into the elevator and disappeared from Kara’s view.

//

“Look again, Winn,” Kara moaned through grit teeth, pacing back and forth almost to the point where she was wearing a Kara-sized trench in the DEO’s concrete floor.

“I’ve looked.” Winn wrung his hands over the keyboard, uncertain (for once) of what to do with the piece of machinery before him. “They’ve hacked the city security cams—I can’t follow them visually. It’s next level stuff; decrypting it would take at least a day, even for me.”

Kara halted her pacing and wrapped her arms around herself, absently squeezing at her upper arm. Lena’s words still ghosted hot in the shell of her ear, and every passing second Kara could feel her slipping further and further out of reach. Kara found Alex’s hand steadying her at her back as her knees buckled and she swayed, still feeling the effects from the Kryptonite exposure.

“You ok?” Alex asked, eyebrows peaked with concern.

“I’m fine,” Kara insisted, shaking her head dismissively. “I forget how much Kryptonite sucks. I mean, is that how you normal people live your lives? So weak and helpless?”

“Yeah, pretty much.” Alex rolled her eyes. “But believe it or not, we still manage to get dressed every morning, somehow.”

“Wait—that’s it! I am a genius,” Winn yelped, and started typing madly at his keyboard.

“You’ve found them?” Kara asked, hurriedly leaning over Winn’s shoulder.

“No, but I  know how to find them, which is almost as good, right?”

It wasn’t as good. But it was a start, at least.

An impish grin spread across Winn’s face as his fingers whizzed across the keyboard, vibrating with the thrill specific to the act of solving a problem through the magic of technology. “One would say Kryptonite is, like, a super-duper rare element, right?” he explained as he typed. This was his favourite part: explaining his extremely complicated processes to these dummies like it was the easiest thing in the world. “Ergo, it gives off a super-duper specific radiation signal, are we all following? So, I just casually hack into the Bureau of Meteorology’s satellites, scan for radiation signals, cross reference that with DEO data on Kryptonite and…voila! We have a location!” Winn slammed his hand down victoriously on the keyboard as a satellite image came into focus, a red location marker flashing at its centre.

“What are we looking at here, Agent Schott?” J’onn asked, narrowing his eyes with critical focus.

“Uh, looks like it’s coming from inside a mountain? There’s an old electrical substation there—super creepy looking. I guess we could have just run a search for ‘most evil looking hideout, perfect for the climax of a super evil plan’ and come up with the same result, huh?” Winn chuckled.

Kara’s heart leapt into her throat as she stared, unblinkingly, at the satellite image on the screens. That was where Lena was. That was where this would finally end, one way or another. Rao, she hoped Lena had a plan—her own plans began and ended with punching, most of the time. But, knowing Lena, she could trust her to have come up with something a little more elegant. She hoped.

Kara leaned down and draped her arms around Winn’s shoulders, planting a kiss on his cheek. “Winn, you’re a genius.”

Winn’s grin spread impossibly wider, accompanied by a deep blush. “Your words, not mine.”

“I’ll go with you, Supergirl.” J’onn’s voice was accompanied by his solid hand clapping down on Kara’s shoulder.

Kara nodded gratefully. She wasn’t one to turn down help, and if her previous engagement with Lillian Luthor was anything to go by, she was going to need it.  “Thank you, J’onn. By the way, I should mention your evil twin is with Lillian.”

J’onn’s eyes narrowed. “Leave him to me.” His voice was tinged with a growl, and he glowed red as he shifted into Martian form.

“What’s the plan?” Kara asked, though she was practically jumping out of her skin to take off out the window right then and there.

J’onn fixed her with a grin. “Let’s go get the girl. That’s the plan.”

Kara couldn't help but breathe a laugh, equal parts surprise and relief. Alex wouldn’t let them go without a final comms check, fussing over Kara’s earpiece and her super suit.

“I’ll be fine, I promise,” Kara insisted, pulling Alex into a tight hug.

“I know, I know. Just—be careful. And good luck.”

//

“You know, J’onn, I’ve been thinking,” Kara called out over the sound of the wind howling in their ears.

“That never ends well,” J’onn deadpanned, which Kara chose to ignore.

“I’m thinking it probably makes more sense for me to take evil Henshaw, and you can focus on Kryptonite man. You know. Given Kryptonite is my one most fatal weakness and all.”

J’onn was silent for a moment, his brow furrowed. “Yes…I suppose you’re right,” he said, and Kara couldn’t not notice the disappointment in his voice.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” J’onn mumbled. Kara took her eyes off the sky ahead to fix J’onn with a questioning look. He sighed. “It’s just—it’s more dramatic if I get to fight him. Like…‘Who will be the ultimate Henshaw?’” J’onn proclaimed in a bizarre imitation of a boxing match commentator, which was so idiosyncratic with everything she had come to expect from J’onn, it had Kara laughing despite everything else going on in her mind. He was more relaxed when he was in his martian form, Kara noticed. More himself.

“It’s you, J’onn. All day, every day.”

J’onn matched Kara’s fond smile and nodded gratefully. “Kick his ass for me.”

“Yes, sir.”

//

Lena’s fingertips throbbed dully in memory of the DNA scanner pricking them to extract her blood. Lillian’s eyes had lit up as the vault rose up out of the ground, with an intense excitement that disturbed Lena to no end.

There had been a time when Lena only wished Lillian would look at her like that. She’d pushed herself so hard to achieve it. She’d pushed herself to get the best grades, to enter every accelerated and advanced program all throughout her education, to win all the academic awards, chess tournaments, music lessons—in a last ditch effort, she’d even tried her hand at sports (fencing, athletics, rhythmic gymnastics), but nothing ever gave.

And now, she had earned that look, and it was all because of the blood in her veins. If only she’d known it would be that easy. Maybe she could have saved herself all that trouble and had some semblance of a social life growing up.

Stepping into the vault felt all too much like stepping right into Lex’s brain at the height of his madness. It was filled with weapons—both alien and of his own design—as well as alien artefacts he had procured, and filing cabinets filled with research and notes, all catalogued in a system that must have only made sense to Lex himself, as Lena could make neither head nor tail of it all.

Lillian walked through the vault like a child in a candy shop, admiring each piece with reverent awe. “Lex, my beautiful boy,” she breathed, tracing a perfectly manicured fingertip over the steel edge of a battle axe.

Lena tried her best to remain detached from everything she was seeing, she really did, but she couldn’t help but see Lex in every artefact that haunted the room. Her eyes lingered on Lex’s war suit (was this the same one he’d been wearing the day he was captured? Or was this a prototype?). She couldn’t bring herself to touch it, though she was more familiar with it than she would like to admit.

Lex had called her on more than a few occasions to bounce ideas off her—innocent questions, like what kinds of rivets would better withstand greater variations in atmospheric pressure, or what materials would be best for extreme heat resistance. Lena had discussed them all with him at great length, viewing the questions as small puzzles to work on with her brother, like they did when they were kids. Part of her knew he was up to something nefarious, but that part wasn’t strong enough to override her selfish desire to be close to her brother. To be valued, to be wanted.

Lena picked up a notebook that sat next to the war suit, and the colour drained from her face as she flipped through its pages. Inside, were sketches for another war suit—a smaller bringer of destruction, which was remarkably elegant in its design. But, with horror, Lena realised that this prototype had been intended for her. Lex really had planned on taking over the world with her.

And maybe, there was a time when Lena would have let him. There was a time she would have followed him into the gates of hell itself if it meant he would smile at her, calling her ‘sister mine’ in that charming way he had perfected down to a science. But that was before. Before he killed innocent people in his quest to destroy Superman, before he terrified her one night, driving far beyond any legal speed limit as he ranted and raved about how aliens meant the destruction of humanity, before she met Supergirl, and learned how wrong he truly was.

Lena turned away to see Lillian piling her companions’ arms up with Lex’s equipment and research, ordering them to take it to the helicopter. “With all this, there will be no stopping us as we rid the world of Supers and aliens once and for all,” she said gleefully.

“Let the record show I was not a willing participant,” Lena growled, rubbing absently at her violated fingertips.

Lillian barked a laugh. “And who will believe you? You’re a Luthor, after all.” Lena clenched her jaw, hating the treacherous red flush that was creeping up her neck.

(Two people who would believe in her came to mind. Well, technically, one, but to all the world they were two, and she would to take all the believers she could get.)

“You’ll see that we will be on the right side of history. All in good time,” Lillian said, and it wasn't the smug smile or the madly glinting eyes that disturbed Lena the most—it was Lillian’s unrelenting belief that she was right. She really believed what she was saying, that was the scary part. Lillian proceeded with looking over Lex’s instruments, loading up what she could on with her minions. Finally, Lena could search for what she was really after.

Finding it—the vault’s central console—was the easy part. Getting access to it was harder, as Lillian sat herself down in front of it, thumb drive in hand. Her brow creased into a deep frown (the range of motion surprising Lena, given the amount of botox the woman had to have had), and she typed fruitlessly at the keyboard.

“Why would you encrypt all this, my beautiful genius?” she murmured to herself under her breath.

Spotting her chance, Lena sidled up next to her, hands clasped innocuously behind her back. “Why don’t you let me try, Mother? I’m quite good with computers.”

Lillian narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “You want to help, all of a sudden?”

Lena scoffed and folded her arms defensively. “The sooner you get whatever it is you want, the sooner we can get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”

Her air of indifference remained intact under Lillian’s penetrating glare, until the older woman sighed and pushed herself up from the computer. “Fine. Get everything you can off this computer.”

Lena nodded, trying not to look too eager, and sat herself down at the computer, flexing her fingers experimentally. She was suddenly extremely nervous, a sick feeling churning inside her stomach. She drew in a shaky breath and gazed outside the vault, to the cavern’s entrance, hoping that a flash of red and blue would make an appearance…

“Well? What are you waiting for?”

Lena blinked away, refocusing her attention on the screen in front of her. Even if Supergirl didn’t come, she had to do it. Seeing what laid in the vault—weapons that would bring only death, destruction, and misery—it had to be done. Perhaps it was for the best that Supergirl hadn’t come. She didn’t need to be caught up in this any more than she already was—

CRASH.

It was an unorthodox entrance, straight through the ceiling rather than through the wide open entrance, but Lena released a breath she didn’t realise she had been holding nonetheless.

About time.

“Lillian Luthor! Stop right there, in the name of truth, justice, and the American way!” Supergirl’s voice boomed through the cavern, and Lena couldn’t keep the small grin on her face as she spun around in her chair to see the caped hero standing in the middle of the space, hands on hips, backed up by an impressive looking green alien.

The image was poster-worthy, but Lena was definitely going to work with Kara on her catch phrases.

Lillian stalked her way over to face the two aliens—a lioness on the prowl—flanked by her two cronies. Metallo yanked Lena roughly from her chair and pushed her along with him, Lena scowling the whole way.

“Supergirl, my, my, this is an unexpected, yet not unwelcome surprise. And you brought a friend. how considerate. He’s very…green,” Lillian’s lips curled into a sneer as she looked the Kryptonian and the Martian up and down with undisguised distaste.

Lena didn’t miss the way Kara didn’t pay much attention to Lillian, and instead, carefully surveyed Lena, like she was checking everything was in order and right where it should be. She also didn’t miss the way her own heart accelerated jerkily, performing some kind of foxtrot in her chest, or that all too familiar sense of longing pooling in her stomach at the sight of her. And suddenly, it was like all that had happened just wasn't important—and maybe it never was, or at least, not as much as Lena thought. Because when it came down to it, Kara was here when she needed her most, and as long as that was true, maybe that was really what mattered most.

Lena watched as Kara aimed her fierce glower at Lillian (making a mental note that she never wanted to be on the receiving end of that look), hands balled into fists by her side.

“You won’t get away with this, Lillian. This has gone far enough.”

Lillian smirked, tutting her tongue against her teeth. “On the contrary, Supergirl. We’re only just beginning.” With that, Lillian clicked a button on a small capsule she had retrieved from the vault and threw it at Kara, who instinctively snapped her arm out to catch it and instantly buckled at the knees, clutching her hands to her head as her face contorted in pain.

Lena couldn’t hold back the cry that fell from her lips—the sight of Kara in pain like that twice in one night was almost too much. She struggled against her captor’s hold to no avail, earning herself a look of sheer disgust from her mother.

“You really care about her, don’t you? Dare I say…you have feelings for this—this thing. And I thought I’d never be more disappointed in you than the day you told me you had feelings exclusively for women. But there you go, proving me wrong yet again,” Lillian spat, nose wrinkled.

Lena cringed at her words, at the sharp sting of the memory of that day she thought she’d buried so deep within herself, and further still as Kara let out another pained cry. “If you hurt her, I swear—“

“You’ll do what, exactly?” Lillian interjected, eyebrows raised expectantly. Lena could only glare filthily in response. “That’s what I thought. Deal with the aliens,” she commanded, and Lena was pushed to the ground as Lillian’s two thugs marched forwards.

The Martian made a beeline for Metallo, catching him in the stomach and flying him to the other side of the room. A smart move, getting him as far away as possible from Kara. Henshaw caught Kara in the stomach with heavy boots, over and over again, as she was simultaneously assaulted by the all-consuming ringing in her ears as well as his repeated blows. There was a moment’s reprieve as Henshaw wound up for another devastating kick, during which Kara blasted the sonic device with her heat vision, and that was when all hell broke loose.

Kara began to fight back, making a grand total of four titans trading blows and red and green laser beams all over the cavern. Finally, it was Lena’s chance. She took advantage of the commotion and crawled back inside the vault, narrowly avoiding a blast from Metallo’s chest as it scorched the ground right next to her. She didn’t let it phase her, and pressed on into the vault, pulling herself into the chair in front of the main console.

Taking a moment to breathe and steady her trembling hands, she began to type furiously away, navigating the system’s digital rabbit’s warren, just like Lex had instructed her. She found the tunnel she needed and dove down, inputting the long, multi-digit admin code Lex had helped her commit to memory.

It’s not much, but I hope it makes up for all the pain I have caused you in your life, in at least some small way.

Lena’s hand shook as she hovered her finger over the last key, her heart leaping into her throat. The sound of a blast and a cry from Kara compelled her to act, and she brought her hand down, triggering a synthesised voice that echoed throughout the facility.

“Self-destruct sequence initiated. This facility will self destruct in: three minutes.”

Lillian spun around, eyes blazing as she locked onto Lena. “What have you done?” she cried shrilly.

Lena jut her chin out defiantly and stood up from the console. “What Lex wanted me to do.” She wanted Lillian to know that she wasn’t alone. She wanted her to know that Lex had been with her through this whole thing, that he had played a hand in her ultimate downfall. It was a knife in Lillian’s chest, and Lena wasn’t afraid to twist.

Lillian let out a strangled cry and barked her orders to Metallo and Henshaw, who were both looking considerably worse for wear after doing battle with the aliens. “Grab what you can and get to the helicopter. It’s time to leave.” And then she was gone, running from the cavern without so much as a backwards look at her daughter.

Lena kept her eyes fixed on her mother’s back until she disappeared from view, before she sprinted over to where the Martian crouched over Kara, who lay crumpled on the ground, luminous green lines spiderwebbing their way across her hands, throat and cheeks.

“Kara!” she breathed, joining the Martian on the ground beside Kara, and rolling her over so her head was cradled in her lap. “Kara, come on, please,” she begged, desperation evident in her voice.

Kara was silent for a heart-stopping moment, then she groaned, blinking dazedly as her eyes slid in and out of focus. “Did we win?” she croaked.

Lena breathed a sigh of relief, but it didn’t last long. “It’s not over yet, Kara. This whole place is going to explode,” Lena informed urgently.

Kara grimaced and pushed herself up into a sitting position. “It’s never easy with you, is it?”

“Unfortunately, not. You’ll have to get used to it, if you still want to stick around after all this.”

Kara rolled her head to the side and locked eyes with Lena, dead serious. “I could get used to it. If you let me.”

“I…” Lena faltered momentarily, “That's something we could discuss.” She tucked her chin, a small smile on her lips as she absently traced her fingertips on the back of Kara’s hand, temporarily forgetting the fiery death that awaited them all if they didn’t move quickly.

“There won’t be anything to get used to if we’re all blown to pieces,” J’onn growled by means of interjection, snapping the pair out of whatever alternate universe they’d disappeared into that didn’t feature their impending doom.

“This facility will self-destruct in: two minutes,” the synthesised voice affirmed his assertion.

“I can’t carry you both. Supergirl, can you fly?” the Martian asked, helping Kara to her feet with a firm grip.

Kara pushed off, hovering awkwardly a few inches above the ground, and grimaced as the green tracks across her skin glowed harshly and she dropped back down. “Not well enough just yet. Go, get Lena out of here, I can take the blast—I’ll be fine.

Lena fixed Kara with a look that clearly said she thought she have gone completely insane. “I just got you back, I’m not about to let you get blown apart,” she said hotly, legitimately angry. “There must be another way.” Before either alien could stop her, she sprinted across the cavern where an impressive array of vehicles laid idle. Lex had amassed everything from ATVs and scooters through to an honest-to-God tank.

“What is she thinking? That I would leave her here to be blown up? Superheroes, honestly,” Lena muttered incredulously to herself as she scanned the vehicles. Her eyes lit up when they landed on a shiny red motorbike, which she had mounted within moments. A smaller version of the DNA scanner that unlocked the vault was fixed where the ignition would have been, and Lena automatically placed her thumb against the pad, the engine roaring to life as soon as she made contact.

This Luthor blood thing was turning into a pretty neat trick.

The tyres screeched against the concrete floor as she pulled up next to the open-mouthed stares of Supergirl and The Martian Manhunter. “Get on, Supergirl,” she commanded, unable to keep the grin from her lips, immensely satisfied to be the one doing the saving, for a change.  Kara blinked her eyes and snapped back to attention, hurriedly clambering onto the back of the bike, her arms circling around Lena’s waist.

“Have you ever ridden off-road like this before?” she asked, a slight waver in her voice. Kara hated to admit it, but being in a weakened state like this made her just a little nervous at the best of times—and this was about as far from the best of times as she could get.

“No.”

Kara tightened her grip.

“This facility will self destruct in: one minute.”

“No time to waste!” Lena called, almost giddily, as she revved the accelerator and blazed a trail straight out of the cavern, followed closely overhead by the Martian. Lena followed the dirt road that wound its way along the side of the mountain, jostling and bumping as she sped along.

And then, something very strange happened.

It started deep in Lena’s stomach, a bubbling that gripped hold of her and erupted out of her mouth, and before Lena knew it, she was laughing like she hadn’t laughed in weeks.

Truth be told, she really hadn’t laughed in weeks.

“I’m struggling to see what’s so funny!” Kara called out over the sound of the wind rushing past them and the roar of the motorbike’s engine. She grunted as a particularly large bump threatened to fling her from the back seat, and subsequently buried her head in between Lena’s shoulder blades.

“Nothing!” Lena continued to laugh, despite this. “My mother got away and left me to die, that’s all! But you’re here, Kara! I’m…happy, I think. Is this happy? I’m not sure—whoa!” Lena cackled, swerving as she narrowly avoided a huge boulder in the middle of the path.

Kara grimaced, clenching her arms tighter around Lena’s waist, if that was even possible. “That’s just great, but could you please concentrate on the road?” she begged wearily.

The trees surrounding the trail ended abruptly—and so did the trail. Lena slammed on the breaks and the bike’s tires squealed to a halt at the edge of a precipice overlooking a ravine.

Kara’s dismount was less than elegant, but she didn’t care, she just wanted to be off that death trap. She staggered a few steps, failed to find her footing, but found herself caught against Lena’s side, one arm wrapping supportively around her back.

“You alright?” Kara looked up into the emerald eyes she had missed so wholly, and yes, she was absolutely alright. She’d take on all the Kryptonite in the world just to be right here.

“I’m f—“ Kara’s words were drowned out by the deafening explosion. They snapped their heads across the ravine that to see a great torrent of flames burst forth from the mouth of the secret bunker.

The force of the explosion blew their hair back and sent a wave of heat in their direction—Lena raised her arm instinctively in front of her face and gripped Kara closer into her side. A low rumbling echoed throughout the mountain pass, small aftershocks sending tremors that could be felt under their feet. And then there was silence.

Lena watched quietly as an ashy plume of smoke filtered sluggishly out from the cavern, knowing that all that had been inside would have been reduced to nothing. She slowly eased herself from Kara’s side and took a few steps forward, toes just edging on the precipice. For all she had done the past few months in order to turn L-Corp into a force for good, she couldn't help but think of this as tangible evidence that she was righting some of her family’s wrongs, in any way she could. A fiery explosion certainly served as an effective visual for the evil Lena was trying to eradicate—and it had the added bonus of embodying the Luthor dramatic flair. Lena couldn't help but think that Lex would be proud, even if she had just destroyed his life’s work.

Still, as a woman of science, she couldn't help but lament the sheer volume of knowledge that had consequently been destroyed. In the right hands, she could have made something out of all that information. Still, the evil destroyed outweighed the potential good that could have come out of that bunker, so Lena accepted the feeling of vindication that was settling into her chest as she stared into the remnant flames.

“You did it, Lena.” Kara’s whispered voice pulled Lena from her thoughts, and was joined by the feeling of the back of Kara’s hand grazing against her own—cautiously, seeking permission.

Lena released a breath she didn’t realise she had been holding and shook her head gently. “I couldn’t have done it without you, Kara. Or you…um, sir,” she said uncertainly, giving the Martian, who stood a few feet away with his arms folded stoically across his chest, a small nod which she hoped conveyed her sincere thanks.

Lena slowly turned her palm and twined her fingers in amongst Kara’s own, allowing the contact to supplement her own strength as she drew in a shaky breath. “She just—“ she found herself saying, the words forcing themselves past a lump in her throat, “she left me behind. I know I shouldn't have expected anything different from her, especially after what I did, but I just—I thought maybe…”

“She’ll never deserve you.” Kara’s voice was certainty itself, like she was pointing out the colour of the sky, and Lena finally pulled her eyes from the flames on the mountain to see a different kind of fire burning in Kara’s brilliant blues. Kara reached her hand up to cup her cheek, thumb swiping over soft skin. Lena leaned into her caress all too easily, eyes drifting shut with the weight of the world on their lids. “She’ll never deserve even your tears,” Kara murmured, thumbing away a single saline drop that dared to escape her lashes.

“Kara, I—“

She had so much to say. I’m sorry. I forgive you. I knew I could count on you. I need you. I want you. All of you. But the words lived and died in the chambers of her heart, never given voice, as the silence was suddenly filled with the sound of whirring propeller blades as a helicopter—imposing and black—rose into the sky from the ravine below, like a kraken rising from the sea.

Kara automatically placed herself in front of Lena, right between her and the beast, and Lena watched, horrified, as she could see Lillian’s face in the cockpit window, her face alight with rage and madness. The helicopter rose higher, higher, and then—before Lena could even process what was happening—it deployed a rocket aimed straight for them.

Supergirl was gone, instantly, leaving Lena’s hand outstretched in the air as her fingers slipped from her grasp. Lena cried out her name, but she was an arrow let fly from a bow—a streak of blue and red and glowing green that collided with the rocket and didn't stop pushing it back until it reached its point of origin, screaming against the effort of both the rocket itself and the Kryptonite that leeched at the final dregs of her strength.

The sky lit up for a second time that night, a fireworks display of orange and red against midnight black, spitting out a small figure with little regard for the way the earth split around her as she landed.

Chapter Text

With what felt like monumental effort, Kara dragged her eyes open, her head pounding with the simple action. The room was foggy, things sliding in and out of focus before her vision. Slowly, slowly, she pieced together where she was. She recognised the glow of the sunlamps in the DEO (which usually meant she’d just come off the back of doing something reckless), and the familiar curve of her sister’s back, hunched over by her bedside.

“Alex,” she breathed. Her voice was barely recognisable to her own ears, hoarse and scratchy from disuse.

The older Danvers sister sat with her elbows on the edge of Kara’s bed, where she watched her protectively with her wide, brown eyes. “Kara,” Alex replied, heavy with both fatigue and relief. She straightened up and set about checking Kara’s vitals.

“You know, when I told you to be careful, flying headfirst into a helicopter with a rocket in your hands wasn’t exactly what I had in mind,” she murmured sternly, and Kara’s grimace was about as close as she could come to a smile.

“You know me, I go hard or I go home.”

“Kinda wish you’d gone home this time.” Alex frowned slightly as she thought back to that night. Pulling her sister out of the Kara-sized crater in the earth had been one of the more difficult things she’d had to bring Kara back from. It was right up there with the black mercy and Red Kryptonite fiascos, which she really preferred not to dwell upon if she could avoid it.

Kara exhaled, closing her eyes as the final moments before she lost consciousness replayed in her mind. Letting go of Lena’s hand. Flying up towards the helicopter. Everything going black.

Her eyes snapped open again.

“Lena. Is she ok?”

Alex nodded, squeezing Kara’s hand insistently before her sister could become any more worked up. “She’s fine, not a scratch on her,” she assured gently. “She had to go to the office. I’m sure she’ll be back soon, she has been every day since the incident.” Kara sighed, allowing herself to relax back in the bed now that she had Alex’s assurance that Lena was safe.

“Wait—Lena was here? In the DEO?”

Alex laughed shortly and nodded. “She didn’t really give us much of an option. Practically chewed J’onn’s ear off when he dared suggest we take you away without her. I’ve never seen someone read through the NDA so quickly. You’ve got a feisty one on your hands there, Kara.” An amused smile settled on her lips as she thought of the way the raven-haired woman had argued with J’onn that night. She could definitely see what had drawn Kara to her, and she also knew Kara was definitely going to have her hands full. 

Kara made a sound that Alex assumed was intended to be a laugh, but it wasn’t all that convincing. “You need to rest,” Alex decided, and it was more of a command than a suggestion.

Kara really didn’t have the energy to protest, but she managed to mumble an ‘I love you’ to her sister before slipping back into the welcoming dark.

//

Lena raked her eyes over Kara’s person, like she had done countless times over the past three days. She started at the crown of her blonde head, a halo of golden hair spread out on the pillows behind it, featuring the stubborn strand of hair that fell over her cheek no matter how many times Lena tucked it behind her ear. Her next stop was Kara’s closed eyes, which she desperately wished would open so she could see the oceans that resided behind the lids. Down a ski slope nose, Lena landed on plush lips that flooded her brain with memories from balconies and blazing orange skies.

Her hand rested on top of Kara’s own, absently drawing patterns with her fingertips. The Kryptonian’s skin was hot, warmed by the artificial sun replicated in the DEO’s med bay. If Lena closed her eyes and allowed herself to become lost in her thoughts, she could almost pretend they were on a beach somewhere, lazy and peaceful in the sun’s light. She had decided somewhere between the second and third hour she’d been sitting there the day before, that one day, she would make that fantasy into a reality.

Supergirl. Kara Danvers.

The woman in front of her was simultaneously both and neither. Two sides of the same coin, making one whole that was an incomplete picture without the other.

Lena’s hero. Lena’s friend. Lena’s…something she didn't have the words for, yet.

And she was staring straight at her.

Alex had informed her that Kara had woken earlier, but no amount of warning would have fully prepared her for the electric blue orbs that had been hidden from her since the accident suddenly open, awake, and fixed on her.

“Hey, sleepyhead,” she said quietly after giving a small start, unsure if speaking any louder would cause her any undue pain.

“Lena.”

And Lena could barely handle the way Kara was looking at her—so completely relieved, so unreservedly happy, like she didn’t even think there could possibly be anything wrong with displaying exactly how she was feeling all over her face for the whole world to see. It lit something in her chest, a crackling fire that spread warmth to the very tips of her fingers and toes.

“How are you feeling?”

Kara sighed, stretching herself out experimentally as she performed a rough self-assessment. “Better than when I first woke up,” she decided, then added: “fantastic now that you’re here.”

There she went, being all direct and honest like it was just so easy for her. Lena wondered if nearly dying had something to do with it—then she wondered if maybe she should give it a try. Still, she allowed herself a small smile in response. “I’m happy you’re awake.” Her weak attempt at being direct paled in comparison, but Kara didn’t seem to notice.

“How long have I been out?” Kara asked, and Lena was relieved for a question she could answer easily.

“Three days. And National City still stands without its hero. So…don’t ever try and tell me you can’t take a weekend off,” Lena teased gently.

Kara scoffed. “Lena, please. You’d be the one saying you can’t take any time off, and you know it.”

Lena breathed a laugh and shrugged dismissively. She was completely right, of course.

“First you take a bullet for me, then a paint bomb, and now a rocket? I’m a little worried about how you’re going to try and top yourself next time,” Lena mused. 

Kara quirked a brow, concern flashing in her eyes. “You’re planning on there being a next time?”

“Well, I was thinking about taking a leisurely stroll through a military weapons testing site this weekend,” Lena said casually.

“That’s not funny, Lena” Kara winced, and Lena smiled, giving her hand an assuring squeeze that said she was totally kidding.

Kara exhaled, leaning her head back into the pillow and allowed her eyes to drift shut. She concentrated only on the feeling of Lena’s hand on hers, and turned her palm upwards to interlock their fingers. She could still feel herself pulling away from Lena’s hand as she flew up towards the rocket, and it was something she didn’t want to have to do ever again. As long as she could help it, and as long as Lena would allow it, she never wanted to let go.

And then she remembered something else, and her eyes snapped open.

“Lena, your mother, she—"

“She can’t hurt me or anyone I care about ever again,” Lena interjected calmly before Kara could reach peak panic, like she’d gone over this in her own mind a thousand times.

Kara’s chin dropped down to her chest, a frown etching itself across her face. “I’m so sorry, Lena. This is all my fault.”

“Don’t,” Lena said firmly.

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t do that. Blame yourself. It was her or us, Kara. I know what I would have done. If I was the one with alien powers, I’d be right where you are now, and she would still be…wherever she is now. Probably having a martini with Satan, that wouldn't surprise me one bit.” Lena didn't miss the way Kara winced at her slightly morbid attempt at a joke, and she quickly laid her free hand on Kara’s leg.

“It’s ok, Kara,” she said quietly. “I gave her every chance to turn back—to choose to be different. But…she chose her own fate. The last thing I want you to do is feel guilty for saving me, like you’ve done ever since the day we met.”

Kara held her gaze, searching for the pain she was sure Lena must have been feeling, but she didn't seem to find anything. “It’s just—underneath it all, she was still your mother.”

“Was she, though?” Lena wondered aloud. “I mean, sure, I lived under her roof for most of my life, and she clothed and fed me well enough—or at least, the hired help did. But other than that, her relationship began and ended with how much of a disappointment I was, and ultimately she wanted to destroy me when I wouldn’t go along with her world-dominating plans. Does that sound like a mother to you?”

“Not when you put it that way, no.”

The way Kara still worried at her bottom lip told Lena she wasn't entirely convinced, which made sense. Kara’s experience with mothers was someone who was loving, caring, and kind, even in her imperfection. She’d never known the chill of rejection, the cruel sting of disapproving words, barbs meant to wound, to harm, to pierce the skin.

“I already grieved my mother, many years ago.” Lena spoke softly, reverently, running her thumb over Kara’s knuckles as she tried to make her understand. “My birth mother, I mean. I have one memory her. She played the piano, so beautifully. I used to sit underneath the piano when she played, feeling the vibrations through my back and the palms of my hands. I remember feeling so…safe. Happy. Loved. I think…I think that’s who I want to remember as my mother. It’s only small, I know, but it’s more than a lot of people get. I know that she, at least, loved me. Which means I’m capable of being loved. I think I forgot that, for a while there.”

Lena lifted her eyes to meet Kara’s, and found her staring back at her with a strange look on her face, one she hadn’t seen before. She had seen Kara as Supergirl, and she had seen her as Kara Danvers, but the Kara that looked at her now was somewhere in the middle—at once both, while also something completely, beautifully different and—

“I love you, Lena.”

Lena’s breath lodged in her throat, and she was glad she wasn’t the one hooked up to the heart rate monitor, because it definitely would have flatlined for just a moment. Because all at once, everything just locked into place. The Kara that looked back at her now, she wasn't in any sort of disguise—she was just Kara. And she loved her.

“I…I know,” she managed after a brief moment. And she did: she felt it, every time Kara smiled at her, every time she came flying out of nowhere to save her, every time she just looked at her like that. But still, something gave her pause. She drew in a breath and squeezed Kara’s hand, giving her a small smile. “We still have a lot to talk about. I…I have some things to say. But, later, when you’ve rested, ok?”

Kara nodded reluctantly, but she understood. She wore a dazed smile on her face, filled with an indescribable lightness mixed with just a healthy dose of terror at having gotten the words out. Whatever happened now, at least she’d finally said it.

Lena leaned over and pressed her lips to her forehead, lingering a moment before she pulled back and let her eyes wash over Kara’s face, tucking that stubborn strand of hair behind her ear.

“You know where to find me.”

//

Lena stood on her balcony, basking in the final rays of sunlight as another day came to an end in National City. Knowing Kara was awake—not only awake, but that she loved her—had instilled an unfamiliar, yet not unwelcome, sense of calm within her over the past day and a half. It settled comfortably in the dim chambers of her heart, where it uncurled itself lazily and made itself perfectly at home.

A quiet voice whispered in her ear that she should be terrified, that she should pack up and run as far and as fast she could—that it would be better for all involved, especially Kara. But, this new feeling inside of her simply yawned easily, assuring Lena that it was time to stop worrying about what she should feel, and instead think about what she actually did feel. That is was time to just…be. 

It was then that an all too familiar streak of blue and red split the orange blaze of the sky in two. Lena’s heart drummed fast, and even skipped a beat, as Supergirl performed a loop-the-loop right in front of her view before she was suddenly lowering down from the sky in front of her, hands on hips and grinning broadly.

“Good to see you’re back where you belong, Supergirl. And that you still know how to make an entrance,” Lena remarked, lifting an amused brow.

Kara’s grin turned bashful as she drifted towards the floor, touching down on the tiles with the effortless grace that always made Lena’s heart stall. “I missed flying almost as much as I missed you," Kara admitted, and she must have realised how corny that sounded because she quickly turned bright red and continued, "you, ah, you said you had some things you wanted to talk about—and so do I. So. Let’s talk.”

Lena glanced around the quiet balcony of her apartment. It had always been fitting for them, this space that wasn’t quite inside while also not quite outside. It was the bridge between worlds—between the safety of home and the adventure of the unknown world outside. Just like Kara existed somewhere in the space between Supergirl and Kara Danvers, and Lena was carving out a space for herself between being a Luthor and just being Lena.

“We always did do our best talking out here,” Lena noted thoughtfully. She reached for Kara’s hand and tugged her to the outside couch she had tucked away in the corner of her balcony, where they sat with some space in between them. Kara set a small bag she’d brought with her on the ground by her feet, which Lena noticed, but didn’t ask about.

She wasn’t sure exactly where to start—there were so many threads to untangle—but Kara was looking at her patiently, so she knew she had to start somewhere. There were no explosions, no crazed adoptive mothers that could get in the way of openness and honesty now, and that made Lena feel terribly exposed. It was now or never.

“I may have…overreacted. To finding out about you. I suppose great cheekbones aren’t the only thing I inherited from the Luthors—I must have gotten their flair for the dramatic too,” she murmured, her eyebrow giving a wry twitch, then she sighed and shook her head. “I wasn't in a good place. I’d just found out Lionel was my father and, well…it messed with my head. I should have stayed and listened, but I thought pushing you away was the right thing to do.”

Kara pressed her lips together, paining at the memory of that day. She thought of the struggle Lena had been processing that she’d been completely unaware of, and suddenly Lena’s reaction made a lot more sense. “You had to deal with that all on your own…I’m sorry, that must have been so hard. I wish I could have been there for you,” she said sadly.

“It was hard. But it’s ok,” Lena assured. She paused, biting at the pad of her thumb as she thought to herself for a moment. “I think I needed to do it on my own. In a way, it’s helped me make sense of myself, and of Lillian, even. Loving me would have been impossible under the circumstances, I understand that now. I must have been a constant reminder of Lionel's unfaithfulness—apparently, I look just like my mother.”

“She must have been very beautiful then.”

Lena coloured faintly and tucked her hair behind her ear. “I don’t remember her face, but I’ve seen some pictures. She really was.”

Kara surveyed Lena a moment, wanting nothing more than to reach out and close the space between them, even just with a touch of her hand, but she knew it wasn't right just yet. She wanted to respect the process.

“You know, this whole thing makes you kind of like Jon Snow. And he’s brave, and strong, and a hero. So, you’re very much like him,” she thought aloud, touching her index finger to her chin.

Lena simply looked at her blankly in response. “Am I supposed to know who that is?”

Kara’s jaw dropped open as she stuttered, aghast. “What—you don’t—how do you not know who Jon Snow is? That’s almost a deal breaker right there, this needs to be fixed pronto.” Kara faltered as Lena continued to stare at her, and quickly amended, “another time. We’re having a serious conversation right now,” she said, all business.

Lena could only roll her eyes, but not without an affectionate smile tugging at her lips. “Anyway…what I mean to say is, I’m sorry. For pushing you away. It’s just—“ Lena caught herself and hesitated, “—never mind, it’s stupid.”

“Lena,” Kara said, and it was stern, yet kind. Kara was always kind. “We’re getting it all out there. No holds barred, right? Go on, tell me,” she urged, and Lena had no choice but to sigh, resigned, and pull at her fingers in her lap.

“It’s just…I really liked Supergirl. Like, I really liked her,” she confessed, and her eyes took on a dreamy quality as she spoke with wonder. “She had the hair, and the cape, and those god-damned eyes…God, Kara, the way she looked at me, it was like I was being seen for the first time in—I can’t even think how long. Since Lex, probably.”

Kara dropped her eyes, feeling that strange sense of dejection she felt when Lena talked about her alter ego like that—like she still couldn't see it was her under the cape and the suit and the crest. It had always been her, couldn't she see that?

“I get it,” she said quietly, toying with the fabric of her cape. “Why would you even look at Kara Danvers when you had all that? All Kara Danvers has is the glasses, and the cardigans, and the nervous hands.” She sighed and laughed at the memory of herself. “I was a total mess around you without the suit, wasn't I? Rao, I could barely get a sentence out straight.”

Lena shook her head hurriedly. “No, Kara, let me finish. What I had with Supergirl—with you—it was great. I’d never met someone I could connect with like that. You made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this world. Like the good inside me could win out against all my rage, all my sadness, all my pain.” Lena huffed with the effort of it all, of combing through her heartstrings to really get to the truth, but she pressed on regardless. 

“When I found out who you were…I thought it meant I was losing Supergirl. In a way, I suppose I was losing Supergirl and gaining Kara, and that was just all too real for me. Suddenly, Supergirl was a real person, a person I knew and cared about no less, and I—I don't know if I was ready for that. When you were just Supergirl, I could almost pretend it was beyond reality, that it was this little fantasy world I shared only with her…and then all of a sudden it was real, and it was you, Kara, and I…I panicked. So, I did the easy thing. I ran, told myself I was doing you a favour by keeping your light away from my darkness.”

Kara pressed her lips together, pausing a moment as she thought about what Lena said. “I think I can understand that…even though you were dead wrong. You weren’t doing me any favours by staying away,” she said gently.

Lena shifted and scrubbed at the back of her neck. “I know that now, and I’m sorry I put you through that. I don’t think I did myself any favours either,” she admitted. She met Kara’s eyes, a small smile settling on her lips. “That’s just it, Kara. We’re better together…stronger, even.”

Lena held Kara’s gaze, unaware of the swelling that was taking place in the Kryptonian’s chest as she inadvertently echoed the words of the House of El, but completely aware that she was looking at her that same way she had been from her bed in the DEO. And then she was standing up from the couch, and Lena gave her an inquisitive look.

“I wanted to try this again. The way it happened the first time was just…it was a mess. I want to get it right, I owe you that.” Kara explained. Lena sat back in the couch, eyebrows peaked with interest as Kara drew in a steeling breath, clearing her throat like she was preparing to give a speech.

“I’m Kara Danvers,” she announced. She raised a hand to her shoulder and unclipped her cape from one side, then the other. The fabric fell to the ground, pooling around her feet, and she took a small step forward. She slipped out of her boots, losing the added inch of height they afforded her as she settled her stockinged feet down on the ground.

“I wear sweaters, and glasses, and khakis, not just as a disguise, but because I genuinely enjoy the aesthetic,” she continued and reached into the bag, from which she pulled a forest green sweater and slipped it over her head, concealing the red and blue crest.

“I’m a junior reporter at CatCo, but hopefully not for long, thanks in no small part to some advice and encouragement I got from someone very dear to me.” She retrieved an elastic and some bobby pins, and busied herself with tying her hair up and pinning it back. “I’m adopted. I have an older sister, who I would literally kill for. I love food. I love musicals. I’m really good at cooking, and I like to dabble in painting from time to time. Also, I’m an alien. I’m from a planet called Krypton, which was destroyed when I was a child. I miss home so much it hurts every day, but I’ve found meaning in my life here on Earth. I’ve found meaning in my friends, who are more like family to me, and in helping people. I’ve found meaning in being Supergirl.”

Lastly, she pulled out her pair of tortoiseshell glasses, and was about to slip them onto her face, but found Lena was standing right in front of her, hand stalling her own.

Lena gazed into Kara's eyes and found they were a more brilliant shade of blue than she remembered attributing to the young reporter. In her eyes, she saw the woman who saved her from a speeding bullet, who flew her above the city skyline, who put the stars in the sky, who believed in her when no one else did. Supergirl, Kara Danvers—they were one and the same, and how could they not be? No one else in this world could make Lena feel like she did right now.

“Well, wouldn't you know," she mused, green eyes twinkling. "Kara Danvers has those god damn eyes too.”

Kara smiled, dimpled cheeks pinching high while her shining blues crinkled at the corners, and Lena couldn't help but smile back—it was simply infectious.

“But you’re not Supergirl, are you? Not exactly. The posturing and the solid voice voice and the poster-girl smile: that’s not you, is it? And you’re not exactly Kara Danvers, either. The stammering and the timidness…that’s a bit of an act too.” Lena spoke thoughtfully, like she was talking her way through the puzzle that was Kara. “You’re somewhere in the middle. The real you, I mean. The one I know. The one who carries so much pain and loss in her heart, yet still chooses to live with hope. The one I…” she hesitated, feeling the fear rising up within her like a tidal wave, but with all the strength she had inside her, she pushed it down and extinguished it, once and for all.

“Kara Zor-El,” Kara said suddenly.

“What?”

“My name. That’s my name, from Krypton.”

“Kara Zor-El,” Lena murmured, rolling the new syllables around in her mouth experimentally as she tried it out for the first time. They felt right. “Well, Kara Zor-El,” she said, decisively this time, and reached her hands up to rest at the sides of Kara’s neck, thumbs tracing along her jawline as she drew in a slightly shaky breath. “Supergirl, Kara Danvers…I love you. All of you.”

Kara’s eyes lit up, sparking with electricity at Lena’s words, and Lena definitely didn't miss the way they flicked down to her lips, and Kara licked her own as she asked—“can I kiss you now?”

“Yes please, Kara, I’m really not sure why you’re not already—“ Lena was gladly cut off as Kara pressed her lips to hers, a surging motion that finally brought release and resolution to all they had been through since Kara had revealed her truth. Lena happily buried her fingers into the blonde hair at the base of Kara’s neck, smiling into her lips as Kara wrapped her arms around her waist, and pulled her flush against her body. And Kara drew kisses from her lips like it was what she was sent to Earth to do, sweet and eager and willing. It was all Lena could ever have wanted, and so, so much more.

At a certain point, Lena had to break apart from Kara’s lips, breathing hard, and let more words tumble from her mouth: “Kara, I just want to be clear that I don’t want you to ever think you’re not enough, or that I'm not impressed by you because that’s just not true. You don’t have to be Supergirl to be amazing, you’re—you’re everything.”

“Hey Lena?”

“Hm?”

“Stop talking.”

And Lena had absolutely no problem with that. She brought their lips back together, her arms winding their way around Kara’s neck, and she was almost too completely blissed out to notice when they started levitating off the ground.

Almost.

(“Kara! Do you realise we’re floating away?”

“Oops.”)

Chapter Text

Lillian’s funeral was held on a Wednesday, and very few people attended. Aside from Lena and Kara, a handful of Lillian’s former associates put in appearances and offered their condolences, which Lena accepted, appearing to all the world like the bereaved daughter, the last of the Luthors, stoic and stalwart in the face of loss.

She leaned into Kara the entire time, allowing the constant contact to keep her tethered to the earth as the pastor’s words washed over her in a senseless drone. The funeral’s other attendees all looked Kara up and down, said nothing, but they were thinking loudly enough that something like rage boiled in Lena’s stomach and she just wanted this to be over already.

When Lillian was put in the ground, Lena felt nothing.

She told Kara as much later that night in the quiet dark of Kara’s bedroom, sheets pulled up over their heads. Kara took her face in her hands and kissed her then, slowly, gently, over and over, gradually injecting colour back into Lena’s world with every press of her giving lips.

//

“I must have finished about nine bottles of wine and three bottles of scotch in those few weeks we were apart,” Lena confessed. She trailed her fingertips lazily over Kara’s skin, charting the planes and valleys of her stomach like she was the first explorer on a foreign planet, and took hidden pleasure in the goosebumps that shifted and warped the terraforms beneath her touch.

“I made Alex kick my ass sparring, just to feel something other than soul crushing sadness. It was very dramatic,” Kara countered, her own hand combing absentmindedly through Lena’s hair.

“I watched sappy rom-coms every night for a week, and I went all out—dressing gown, fluffy slippers, buckets of ice cream, the whole lot,” Lena returned, wrinkling her nose at the very memory of herself.

“That, is adorable. But I’ve got you beat. I flew around the entire planet one night, completely lost in thought. The top of Mount Everest is a really great spot to pine, by the way.”

Lena angled her head up from Kara’s chest to fix her with a look. “No super powers, that’s an unfair advantage,” she frowned.

Kara chuckled, the sound rumbling low in her throat, and easily lifted Lena up to straddle her hips, smirking as she showed Lena just how unfair her advantages could be (not that she would ever exploit them in any way that could harm her).

However, in true Luthor form, Lena was quick to turn Kara’s own advantage against her, using her new vantage point to gain access to the Kryptonian’s neck, painting kisses across sensitive skin. She slipped a thigh between her legs and was rewarded with a sharp intake of breath and the sound of her name hissed through grit teeth as she eased down into her. This symphony of sounds and sensations was still new territory, and Lena delighted in eliciting them from the flushed blonde whenever the opportunity presented itself.

“You’d do well to remember I possess my own set of unfair advantages, Kara,” she murmured and nipped at Kara’s earlobe, drawing another gasp from her lips.

Kara winced, completely pliable under Lena’s touch. “I—I still think I out-pined you though. I actually went to your house,” she managed, albeit a little breathlessly, and Lena froze just a breath away from kissing her neck again.

“You did what?” she asked, pulling away to fix Kara with a questioning look. She scooped her arm behind her head to sweep her dark mass of hair over her shoulder (and Rao, Kara just wanted to have that image playing on a loop in her brain for the rest of her mortal life).

Realising Lena was still staring at her, however, she blinked back into focus and blushed. “I mean, technically, I was searching for Lillian, but I kind of ended up just, uh…poking around in your room.”

Lena quirked an eyebrow, her expression otherwise unreadable. “Did you now?” With a soft sigh, she slipped off of her perch—Kara suppressing a whine at the loss of contact—and settled back against Kara’s chest, slinging her arm low on her hips.

“Am I going to find a drawer full of my stolen underwear next time I go to your place?” she asked with a smirk.

Kara blushed furiously, and Lena noted that the colour bloomed even across her chest. “No, Lena, God!” she cried, a mortified plea which caused Lena to chuckle relentlessly. She shifted to roll onto her stomach, clasped her hands over Kara’s chest and rested her chin on top. Automatically, Kara’s hand was carding through Lena’s hair, playing loosely with the ends.

“So, if you weren’t rooting around in my intimates, what did you find?” Lena asked curiously.

“Well,” Kara assumed a more official air, “upon a thorough investigation of the bedroom, my suspicions were confirmed. Lena Luthor is a certified nerd.”

Lena huffed a righteous laugh. “What gave it away?”

“I’m tossing up between whether it was all the chess trophies or the actual library you have in your room.”

Lena gave a small shrug. “What can I say? I guess I’m just an over achiever, like any self-respecting Luthor.”

A small smile formed on Kara’s lips. Of course, she knew most of Lena's achievements were for Lillian's sake, so she simply kissed her forehead soothingly. “You don't say...I may have, ah, ‘checked out’ a couple of books.”

“You mean stole?” Lena smirked, amused. “Which ones?”

“Frankenstein and Ulysses.”

Lena perked up, lifting her chin off of her clasped hands. “You have my copy of Frankenstein? I’ve wanted to get that back for so long, but…going back there is too hard,” she said softly, biting at the inside of her cheek. “Lex gave it to me when I was nine. I think he wanted to scare me a bit, but I just loved it, I don’t know why.”

Kara smiled gently as Lena mused, her heart so full of affection for this woman she almost didn't know what to do with it. “I’ll bring it with me next time,” she promised.

“Thank you, Kara,” Lena nodded gratefully, then crinkled her nose. “Did you have to get Ulysses, though? That book nearly broke me.”

Kara chuckled. “I read it in college, it’s a beast. I can help you conquer it, if you like. Stronger together, right?”

Lena hummed, agreeing, but somewhat reluctantly. She gazed into Kara’s eyes then, something swirling in the depths of her green eyes as she pulled the flesh of her cheek between her teeth.

“El mayarah,” she finally whispered, and Kara’s heart stalled in her chest. Lena had clearly been working on her pronunciation, because for just a fleeting moment, it was like she had been transported back home..and it was then that Kara realised that whenever she was with Lena, she was home.

Kara leaned forwards and they melded together, passing tender and unhurried kisses back and forth, and she wrapped her arms fully around Lena, holding her close to her chest. After a while, Lena eased back and pulled the red cape that was draped across Kara’s waist up over their shoulders, smiling to herself as she was enveloped even further by the scent of Kara and fresh air. She vocalised her contentment with a low hum, listening to the steady drumming of Kara’s heartbeat beneath her ear.

“What is this made of? It’s so soft,” she marvelled as she ran her hands over the fabric. “If you let me study it in the lab, I bet I could work out how to replicate this material. We could make a whole line of baby wear,” she proposed animatedly. “I can see the ad campaign now. You, on a billboard, holding five babies in each arm, all asleep little darlings bundled up in red and blue onesies. The slogan would be something like…'so super soft, it’s out of this world!’. It’d be a huge success, we’d make a fortune.”

Kara laughed, full and generous, and tucked her cape neatly under Lena’s chin, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “No way, you absolute capitalist. This cape is one of a kind—well, two, if you count Superman’s.”

Lena sighed, nuzzling into the fabric against her cheek. “All right, you win," she murmured, stifling a yawn. "I suppose I’m ok with keeping this all to myself.”

“That’s good, because I’m all yours.” Kara smiled and tipped her head down to pull Lena into a kiss, fingers tangling indulgently in her hair.

//

“So let me get this straight.” Lena reached for a few pieces of popcorn from the bowl that balanced on top of Kara’s crossed legs. “Those two are brother and sister.”

“Mmhmm, twins.” Kara barely blinked away from the screen, not even as she reached for mouthfuls of popcorn again, and again, and again.

“Twins. Hmm," Lena mused. "And they’re fucking.”

“Lena!”

“What? It’s true, isn't it?”

“You don’t have to be so crude about it,” Kara mumbled, wrinkling her nose as a faint blush spread across her cheeks.

Lena simply chuckled and grabbed more popcorn. “I must say, Kara. I wouldn't have picked you to be such a fan of this show, what with all the boobs and gratuitous violence.”

“This show is so much more than that,” Kara protested, gesturing wildly as she was wont to do when she was passionate about something. “This show is full of mystery, suspense, complex characters and political intrigue. It’s highly intellectual.”

“So you’re definitely not here for the boobs and the gratuitous violence, right?”

“Oh, I’m here for that too.”

Lena very nearly choked on the piece of popcorn she had popped into her mouth at that moment. “You sure are full of surprises, Kara Zor-El,” she laughed and tucked herself further under Kara’s arm.

Kara smiled quietly to herself, shifting slightly to accommodate her. Lena didn’t always call her Kara Zor-El. The name typically slipped out in moments of true, simple affection, and the sound of it never failed to make Kara feel like she was home.

//

Kara rubbed at her elbows, eyes flicking nervously around as they walked through the prison hallway. “Lena, suddenly I’m not so sure about this…I’m pretty sure I put over half of these guys in here,” she murmured out of the corner of her mouth as she locked eyes with and subsequently averted her gaze just as quickly from an inmate she definitely remembered handing over to Maggie to put in handcuffs.

“Kara…this is important to me,” Lena frowned. “I met your sister, so now it’s your turn to meet my brother.”

“My sister doesn’t have a history of notoriously trying to murder your cousin,” Kara was quick to point out, and Lena sighed. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.

“I suppose that’s true.” Lena came to a stop in the middle of the corridor, reaching out to hold onto Kara’s elbows. “Kara, please…he’s the closest thing I have to family in this world, aside from you. It’s important that you know him—it’s a part of knowing me.”

The sadness in Lena’s voice made Kara’s head drop to her chest. “Of course, Lena. I’m sorry, I didn't think about it like that.” she said quietly.

Lena’s expression softened and she touched a hand to Kara’s cheek. “It’s ok. I know it’s difficult, given the family history. But we’re trying to make a fresh start here, Lex included. Plus, we can get ice cream on the way home,” she promised with a grin.

Kara’s face brightened up considerably. “Well gee, Lena, you should have led with that. It’s like you don’t know me at all,” she teased, knocking her forehead against Lena’s own.

They walked hand in hand the rest of the way down the hallway, but Lena paused just before entering the visiting room, her brow furrowed in thought.

“Kara, do try your best not to accidentally expose your secret identity. By which I mean, don’t say something incriminating like you flew here on a bus. Lex is just as smart as I am, and unlike me he won’t be distracted by your dimples, so he’ll figure it out pretty quickly if there are any slip ups. I trust him, but…” she hesitated, catching her bottom lip between her teeth, “I’d rather he knew you only as Kara Danvers, my human girlfriend. He’s calmed down as of late with the whole ‘destroy all aliens’ agenda, but y’know…you can never fully trust a Luthor right?” Lena flashed a somewhat uncertain grin that did absolutely nothing to ease Kara before disappearing into the room.

Kara blinked after Lena, heart drumming in her chest, and quickly followed only when she realised she was standing completely alone in the hallway.

Lex Luthor sat chained to a metal table with two chairs across from him, one of which was occupied by Lena.

“How are you doing, Lex?” Lena asked, hand already outstretched and firmly in Lex’s. The last time she’d seen him had been to deliver the news about Lillian. Lex had showed no reaction at first, completely silent until he’d looked up and called it “an unfortunate, yet necessary, consequence”. But she was still his mother, and he’d ultimately wept, Lena holding him until the tears had stopped.

“Well, thank you sister. Much better since last time. Just another day in paradise,” he said, flashing a wry grin. His attention shifted to Kara, and she suddenly felt completely exposed, like he was staring into her soul. “I see you’ve brought a friend.”

“Girlfriend,” Lena corrected. She reached out her other hand to Kara, who was still standing away from the table. Kara snapped back into the room and accepted Lena’s hand, allowing herself to be guided into the other seat across from Lex.

“Ah,” Lex nodded apologetically. “My mistake. Let me guess…Kara Danvers?” Detecting the implied question in Kara’s alarmed expression, Lex explained, “you’ve come up more than a few times in our little meetings. It’s quite sweet, really, if a little annoying.” A teasing glint flashed in Lex’s eyes and Lena scratched at the back of her neck awkwardly.

Kara cleared her throat, and continued eying Lex somewhat warily. “I suppose I’m not the only one who’s reputation precedes me.”

“Guilty as charged…literally, I suppose.” Neither woman seemed to find much humour in Lex’s statement, but he continued to smile nonetheless. “So, Kara. Do you play chess?”

“I’m more of a scrabble girl myself—or pictionary.”

Lex nodded slowly. “Pictionary, hmm? A bit juvenile for my taste, but Lena is an abysmal drawer, which would make for some entertainment. Bring it next time, and we will destroy her.” Lex must have caught the slightly nervous glance Kara and Lena exchanged at his borderline maniacal tone, as he quickly straightened up and flashed a smile, adding: “in the most sportsmanly and genial way, of course.”

Kara relaxed her stiffened spine. “Sure, Lex. That sounds…fun.”

An hour later, Lena hooked her arm through Kara’s as they crunched across the gravel of the prison’s front driveway.

“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Kara sighed, expelling most of the tension that had settled into her shoulders. “As far as meeting your girlfriend’s historically-obsessed-with-killing-your-family brother in prison goes, I’d say it went pretty well.”

Lena laughed shortly and hip checked Kara as they walked. “I think he liked you.”

“I’m glad,” Kara said, genuinely. For her part, she didn't think she would ever fully warm up to Lex Luthor. Knowing the things he’d done and the way he’d gone up against Clark was just too hard to overlook. But, for Lena, she was willing to let him be a part of their lives, and seeing how warmly Lena was smiling in the mid-afternoon sun only solidified her resolve.

“So,” Lena tipped her head to press a kiss to Kara’s cheek, “what kind of ice cream do you want?”

“All of them; is that even a question?”

Lena laughed and shook her head affectionately. “Of course.” She shucked her handbag and held it open expectantly. Taking the hint, Kara shed her civilian clothes and stuffed them into the awaiting bag, scooped Lena up into her arms and took off into the sky. They had the routine down to an art at this point.

Lex Luthor tipped his head and stared through the bars of his window. His face showed no reaction when he saw the streak of blue rocket across the sky. A familiar demon stirred within his gut, clawing and twisting and whispering, but Lex closed his eyes and performed a breathing exercise he’d found worked well for him. Concentrated on the way Lena looked at Kara Danvers—like she was the sun. Considered the way Kara Danvers looked back at Lena—like she was the whole world.

When he opened his eyes again, the demon laid dormant once more. It would always be inside of him, he was well aware of that. But Lena had helped bring many things into focus for him. She had held his hand as he waded through the darkness of his mind, sorting out what was right and wrong, what was good and evil. He’d come far enough to know that the way they looked each other…that was good. And that was all he needed to know.

Lex never thought he’d see the day when a Luthor and a Super could work together, but there Lena went, surprising him like she always did. Lex hoped she would continue to do so; every time she did, his world got just that little bit brighter.

With a sigh, he returned to his sketchbook, a line of concentration forming in his forehead. If he was going to dominate pictionary, he was going to have to practice.

//

Kara stared at the plate of spaghetti placed in front of her, then up to her girlfriend (who was adorable as ever, hair up in a somewhat frantic bun, wearing an apron that was embellished with sauce stains), then back down at the plate again.

“You cooked?” she asked, with trepidation. Granted, she was starving after a night of heroing, but she wasn't sure if even she was hungry enough to sample the meal in front of her, which was more of an off-brown than the traditional tomato red.

“I did,” Lena said, sounding very pleased with herself indeed. “It’s actually not that hard, you know.” She hurriedly spun around and closed the tabs that she had left open on her tablet (Wikihow: how to boil water (with pictures); yahoo answers: how do I know when my pasta is done?; google translate: ‘al dente’).

“Well go on,” she insisted, once she had successfully destroyed the evidence. “I haven't poisoned it.”

Kara sat herself down at the table, poking at the spaghetti suspiciously. “What if this was your plan all along? Seduce me, get me to fall in love with you, then poison me when I’m least suspecting it. It’s a plan so genius and diabolical, only a Luthor could have come up with it.”

Lena rolled her eyes at her girlfriend’s dramatics and gave her shoulder a chastising whack with a wooden spoon. “Just eat it, Kara. Please, I worked really hard on it.”

And for all her inhuman abilities, Kara was powerless against that pout.

Kara took a bite, made a face that was somewhere between a grimace and smile. “I think you mixed up the salt and sugar.”

“Damn.”

“But, other than that…” she chewed slowly and swallowed hard. “it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten.” Kara’s smile was strained, but Lena didn’t seem to take much notice as she beamed happily and sat down next to her girlfriend. She proceeded to take a bite, and made a face as soon as she did so.

“Oh Kara,” she sighed and leaned over to press a kiss to Kara’s cheek. “You’re far too kind for your own good. This is terrible.”

“I’m sorry, darling, it’s really bad,” Kara blurted out, relieved, now that she was allowed. “How much garlic did you put in this?”

“One clove, like the recipe said!” Lena moaned helplessly, dropping her chin down into the palm of her hand with an exaggerated sigh.

“You know a clove is just one of the little wedges, right?”

“What—you mean it’s not the whole fruit? Vegetable? Root, whatever it is?” Lena asked, her brow arranging itself into a deep frown.

Kara shook her head gently, barely containing the laughter that threatened to shake her entire body.

Lena huffed and stood up from the table, plucking up both of their plates as she went, and proceeded to dump the spaghetti in the trash. “We’re getting pizza,” she muttered, grabbing her phone off the counter.

Thank Rao, Kara thought to herself. She watched with an affectionate smile as Lena grumpily ordered their usual and crossed her arms over her chest once she’d hung up. Slowly, Kara eased herself up from the barstool and circled around to stand at Lena’s back, sliding her arms around her waist and pulling her close.

“Thank you, Lena. It may not have worked out exactly as you planned, but I do appreciate it. I appreciate you,” she said softly, and could feel the tension fading from Lena’s shoulders with each word.

With a sigh, Lena let her head fall back against Kara’s shoulder. “You've been working so hard lately, between reporting and Supergirl things…I wanted to do something nice for you.”

Kara smiled, pressed a kiss to Lena’s cheek. Her hands slipped behind Lena’s apron and snuck underneath the hem of her blouse, brushing lightly against the skin of her abdomen. “How about this, then? Next time, we’ll do it together. I’ll teach you.”

Lena twisted around in Kara’s arms and slipped her own around her neck. “Deal.” She then caught her lip between her teeth, a hunger that wasn't for food flashing in her eyes as she looked Kara up and down. “The pizza won’t be here for another twenty minutes…want some help getting out of that suit?”

“The zipper can be pretty tricky,” Kara replied with a grin and allowed herself to be pulled down the hallway.

//

Lena woke to the sun filtering in through the blinds of Kara’s apartment, blinking sleep from her eyes as she settled back into the strong yet comforting embrace she woke up in most mornings. Her thoughts were hazy as she stumbled around in the murky space between asleep and awake, an almost overwhelming part of her perfectly content to just lay here in Kara’s arms…but something pressed at the back of her mind, telling her there was something important she was forgetting.

More often than not, it was a real mission to extricate herself from Kara’s superhuman hold, and most mornings Lena really didn’t mind at all, but piecing together the facts that the room was brighter than it should have been and the alarm clock lay completely obliterated on the bedside table, Lena realised, with increasing dread, that they had slept in.

“Kara!” she hissed, eyes flying wide as she was wrenched by sheer panic into a state of being fully awake.

A low grunt and a squeezing of the arm around her waist served as the sleeping Kryptonian’s only response.

Lena repeated her name with greater urgency, squirming against her hold until it had loosened enough for her to turn around and shake the sleeping Kara towards consciousness.

“What? What is it?” Kara mumbled, barely concealing her irritation. “Who’s in danger?”

“Us, if we don’t get up right now.” Lena reached an arm over Kara to grab at and fumble with her phone, which showed she had three missed calls and several texts from Jess. “Crap,” she muttered and pushed herself up from the bed. She clambered over Kara and headed for the bathroom, phone in the crook of her shoulder as she called Jess and ordered her to stall as best as she could.

Kara flopped back onto the bed, allowing herself an extra five seconds of peace before she reluctantly got up and superspeeded herself into a state of readiness, appearing by Lena’s side occasionally with bagels to bite and coffee to sip while the CEO hurriedly did her hair and makeup. Kara zipped around the apartment, gathering Lena’s work papers and laptop which were strewn across the couch and coffee table, having been left completely abandoned as soon as she had flown in through the window the night before.

“Traffic will be hell, there’s no way we’ll make it on time,” Lena tutted with exasperation, fumbling with an earring, then flicked her eyes over to Kara. “Can I call in a favour with National City’s favourite hero?”

Kara pouted, rocked back on her heels. “This braid took a really long time, Lena…”

Lena’s expression shifted into one that was entirely unamused. “It took you all of two seconds, Kara. I have every confidence you’ll be able to replicate the same level of adorableness again.”

Kara beamed, shoulders lifting with a bashful shrug. “Aw, shucks, you think I’m adorable?”

Lena stepped forward and bopped Kara on her nose, then ruffled her hair with a strained grin. “Of course I do, sweet cheeks. But right now, I don’t need adorable. I need Supergirl.”

Kara scowled, twisting away as she vainly attempted to smooth her now-ruined braid. “Fine, but only because I like you so much.”

Within moments, they were up in the air, Kara’s arms outstretched in front of her while Lena sat side-saddle on her back, laptop sitting open upon Kara’s shoulders as Lena put the finishing touches on her speech.

“Watch the air pockets, will you?” she cried when she had to grip onto her laptop as Kara dropped unexpectedly in the air.

“Why do I feel like you think it’s my fault we slept in?” Kara called out over the noise of the wind.

“Because you’re the one who broke the alarm clock—again,” Lena returned, not looking up from her laptop. Somewhere in the depths of L-Corp's R&D department, a research team was developing an indestructible alarm clock. It was, regrettably, unfinished.

“Well, I was tired. And if I remember correctly, you’re the one who kept me up all night.”

Lena was silent, and Kara smirked victoriously to herself.

“Just fly, Supergirl.”

Lena strode into her office as soon as they landed, set her laptop down on her desk and set about transferring her now finished speech onto her tablet. Moments later, Kara appeared behind her, back in civilian clothes—a bright yellow sweater over a white button up—and freshly rebraided.

“You’re going to do great, Lena,” she insisted as Lena paced around the room. “I’d better get down there—we can’t both be late.”

Kara whipped towards the door but was stalled by fingers wrapping around her wrist, twisting her back and pulling her into Lena’s waiting arms. Kara’s eyebrows peaked in a question, which Lena answered by saying:

“I love you. You know that, right?”

Kara broke into a lopsided smile. “I do. Doesn’t mean I’ll ever tire of hearing it.”

“I’ll never tire of saying it,” Lena returned, bringing a hand up to Kara’s cheek, thumbing at her jawline.

Kara’s hands trailed down to settle on Lena’s hips, twisting in the material of her blouse as she gave the slightest of tugs which was more than enough to close the space between them, their lips gravitating easily together as all concept of time and 'lateness' dissipated for a short while. And Kara murmured ‘I love you’s of her own between her wanting kisses many times over, because though they felt it in equal amounts, Kara tended to be more generous in vocalising it, and that was okay.

“Ok, now we’re really going to be late,” Lena sighed reluctantly as she pulled away, slightly flushed, and snuck a quick kiss to Kara’s lips to divert the pout that was already forming there. “I’ll head down first. If we show up together, people will know I was late to my own press conference because I was dilly-dallying with National City’s cutest reporter.” The corners of Lena’s mouth lifted into a smile as she fastened the last button of Kara’s shirt and straightened her collar.

“Oh, but I do so love when we dilly-dally.” Kara pulled Lena in to steal one last kiss, wished her luck and beamed fully until the doors of the elevator slid shut.

The nerves bubbling in Lena’s stomach as she sat on the stage somewhat settled as a figure with braided hair and a luminously yellow sweater burst into the room, apologising profusely as she bustled her way to her seat, pushing past an entire row of reporters to settle into a chair in the third row, just off centre from the podium. Kara caught Lena’s eye easily, face lighting up as soon as eye contact was established.

Lena couldn't help but smile back, smaller, as she was very aware of all the eyes on her at that moment. The smile broke beyond her originally set parameters, however, as she noticed a bold streak of red marking the corner of Kara’s bottom lip. Subtly, Lena raised her thumb to her own lip and swiped across it indicatively.

Kara blinked back in a moment of confusion, then caught on as Lena repeated the gesture and vigorously scrubbed at her lip with the back of her hand. Lena laughed privately as a hush fell over the room, the silence soon taken up by an L-Corp promo clip playing over projectors behind the podium. Lena took the thirty-second duration of the clip as time to steel herself, drawing herself together before she approached the podium at its conclusion.

As far as press conferences went, it wasn’t the most revolutionary she’d had to present: mostly wrapping up the quarter and communicating projects and goals for L-Corp’s future. It was, nonetheless, important, as the media was still quick to characterise the business as some sort of nefarious entity despite the number of times Lena reiterated the new direction.

Lena took some questions at the end, until a slick-suited reporter with even slicker hair stood up and, holding his portable recording advice out at arms length, asked in a weaselly voice:

“Miss Luthor, it is well known that your late mother actively campaigned against the alien amnesty act. How do you think she would feel about your apparently close personal relationship with Supergirl?”

Lena balked at the question, breath catching in her throat. Her hands gripped the podium, nails digging into the dark wood. “I…I don’t—” she began, without much of a plan for what would come next, but she was thankfully rescued by the yellow-sweatered reporter in the third row, standing up and addressing the other reporter directly, shoulders squared and fists clenched around her notepad and pencil.

“Briggs, that’s not what this press conference is about. Some of us are here to report on real issues, not gossip about personal matters. Have some respect, for goodness’ sake.” Kara spoke firmly, commandingly, with all the weight and authority of Supergirl herself, and scattered laughs rippled through the press room as a red-faced Briggs took his seat again.

Kara’s scowl rearranged into a gentle smile as Kara turned back to Lena. “Miss Luthor, please excuse my colleague. Would you care to comment on what L-Corp hopes to accomplish in the area of green technology?”

“Thank you, Miss Danvers, I’d be glad to.” And Lena really couldn't have meant those words more, giving Kara a grateful smile as she made a mental note to remind her how much she loved her later.

Supergirl may have saved her from bullets, crumbling buildings, and mad mothers in helicopters.

But Kara Danvers saved her every day, with only an easy smile, a gentle touch, a softly spoken word that told Lena she was safe, that she was enough, that she was loved.

Kara Danvers didn't need a cape to be Lena’s hero.

Although she really did wear the absolute hell out of that cape.