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Terminal Velocity

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i.

 

Kara runs, out of breath, mind a jumble of incoherency. Her lungs burn and her legs ache but she wills herself to put on a burst of speed when she turns the corner and the familiar dome-like structure comes into view.


Except that that dome-like structure has a gaping hole, still smoking, out one side of it, and the glass that covers the entire facility like a canopy has been shattered in some places and completely destroyed in others. There’s the shadow of flickering blue-green reflected off the walls from inside, the colour of fire when it’s burning metal alloys. Alloys like what most of the structure inside the lab is made from.

 

Her run tapers down.

 

There’s sirens and police cars and three ambulances surrounding the building. Someone’s already got yellow tape wrapped around the lab, with the words DO NOT ENTER plastered all over. There’s a frenzy of civil defence personnel barking orders, a medical evacuation team, EMTs, and federal agents.

 

There are bodies being pulled out of the smoke.

 

Kara thought she would scream. But her throat is dry and no matter how she works her jaw, no sound comes out.

 

She saw the news, at home. She saw the live footage that her parents' lab had exploded. Her parents, her scientist parents, who are working in that lab overtime tonight because they’ve been very excitedly working on a new project.

 

A project to do with alternative energy sources. They’ve been yapping about it nonstop at home, while Kara had only half paid attention and nodded along at appropriate times.

 

They said they were going to save the world.

 

And Kara is running again, thudding harshly on the pavement until she is close enough to see a man she actually recognised- one of her father’s assistants- being pulled out of the wreckage, coughing, half his face covered in blood. It’s seeing a face she recognises that finally makes her a little weak in the knees.

 

Perhaps she’s actually in shock, because it takes her a while to notice that among the chaos, there’s one thing that doesn’t seem to belong.

 

Standing back facing Kara, is a woman with her hair pulled in a tight bun, her hands tucked into a dark red coat. She’s disconcertingly still in the middle of the commotion.

 

Then the woman tilts her head a little, cracks her neck with the motion, and very calmly walks towards the bodies that Kara has just noticed lain out on the floor in the foyer. It makes a neat little row, the bodies placed side by side, covered with the standard black body bags of the law enforcement.

 

And Kara stares as the woman bends down beside each body and seems to absurdly pull something from them. Rationally Kara can’t seem to be able to say that something tangible was taken, but she can’t find any other explanation to the way the woman’s hands hover over their chests and seems to be coaxing something out.

 

Another absurd thought crosses Kara’s mind. No one else can see the woman. Because no one seems to be paying her any attention. And she’s pretty sure civilians are not allowed to be doing whatever it is the woman seems to be doing.

 

Perhaps Kara is in extreme, terrible shock, on second and third and fourth thoughts.

 

She stares so long that the woman feels it, the way you can always tell if you’re being watched. She tenses, her shoulders going quite still, palm still half outstretched over a body.

 

She turns her head around slowly, scanning the crowd until her eyes land on Kara and their gazes lock. The woman is ethereally beautiful, framed by a handsome jaw, her face a sort of otherworldly pale. Her bright green eyes scrutinise Kara in something like surprise, followed quickly by confusion, her eyebrows furrowed a little in the middle.

 

Someone is yelling and it takes Kara a few moments to realise that the yelling is directed at her and suddenly a policeman is firmly telling her to step away (when had her feet brought her so close?) from the crime scene.

 

“My parents are in there!” Kara says back just as aggressively, but then there are more policemen holding her back as she struggles against their hold. When she looks to the foyer again, the woman is gone.

 

She doesn’t see her father’s blue eyes, or her mother’s brown ones, or their bright smiles ever again, except to identify charred bodies in the morgue.

 

ii.

 

The second time she sees The Woman, is less than two months later. Kara is trudging home from work, close to midnight, which has become more the norm than not, and the streets are deserted, save for the occasional one or two odd stragglers.

 

Ever since her house lost two other occupants, it has felt infinitely emptier, its quietness matching the hollowness inside Kara’s chest. And Kara has taken to devoting her entire time to work, determined to juggle both Cat Grant’s ridiculous duties no matter how outlandish her workload gets. Cat sets her impossible tasks, as though wanting Kara to fail, wanting to send her home for the day, and the more Cat does it, the more Kara blindly presses on.

 

If she ends up arriving the earliest to the office, and leaving the latest, no one comments on it. Her colleagues have stopped asking her awkwardly to maybe take some time off, or would she like to maybe have lunch with them? Or go out for some drinks? Or would she like to go home early that day since she’s been working so terribly hard?

 

She walks past a homeless guy, wearing a tattered beanie and covered in shabby blankets that must do nothing for the cold, an empty cup in front of him. There’s barely a few coins in there.

 

She’d already breezed past him for at least a block before she changes her mind and turns back, rifling through her bag to find spare change.

 

When she looks up again, her fist closing around her coin pouch, The Woman is standing beside him, looking down at his curled up form on the side of the pavement.

 

Kara freezes, and like two months ago, The Woman raises her head slowly to lock eyes with Kara. This time, her hair is not in a stern bun, but flows around her face, slides down and tangles in her scarf and over the shoulders of the same dark red coat. She’s unnaturally beautiful, Kara thinks once again. This time, curiosity colours her expression, giving her eyes just a sort of sparkle that makes her even more alluring.

 

“How odd.” Her voice is captivating (of course it is, Kara thinks), low and melodic, and Kara unexplainably feels kind of enchanted.

 

“Are-are you talking to me?”

 

“You can see me,” The Woman murmurs, more to herself than Kara.

 

“Are you talking to me?” Kara repeats dumbly.

 

“How is it that you can see me?” She wonders aloud, and again, although her eyes never leave Kara, Kara gets the impression she’s talking more to herself than to Kara.

 

And there it is again, the ludicrous way the woman speaks. As though pointing out the fact that she isn’t really quite supposed to be seeing her. It pushes on the edge of comprehension that changes theory to fact. Because it means that if she’s acknowledging this woman, then she is acknowledging the fact that Grim Reapers exist. And that she can inexplicably see the Grim Reaper.

 

“Have you always had… ahhh, a gift?”

 

“Not that I know of,” Kara replies uncertainly. She feels distinctly out-stationed by The Woman.

 

“Can you see anything else?”

 

“I… don’t really know what you mean- what that means.”

 

“How strange,” The Woman says again. She glances down to Kara’s hand that’s still inside her bag. Her fist is still gripping her coin pouch. She seems to consider saying something, then thinks better of it, bends down to crouch beside the homeless man.

 

She raises a palm over his chest and whisper-sings in the quiet of the night. Again, Kara watches dumbly as The Woman seems to summon something from his chest. But her eyes are either unable to physically see anything, or her brain is just having too much trouble catching up or comprehending.

 

Kara feels herself weakly let go of the coin pouch and lets it settle back into the mess inside her bag. Supposedly, his man won’t be needing her spare change after all.

 

“What are you doing?” Kara blurts out stupidly anyway, the question needing to be voiced. The Woman takes a while to answer, stands up slowly and spends a long time smoothening her coat down. She doesn’t think this woman has ever had a crinkle on any article of clothing.

 

“Did you know, his son’s birthday was three days ago? His son hadn’t even bothered to invite him to dinner or anything. I think he died more of a broken heart than anything else.” Okay, so that talking more to herself than anyone else thing is a habit, Kara mentally notes down. Kara blinks.

 

“That makes me sad. Why would you say that?”

 

The woman looks surprised, then apologetic.

 

“Forgive me, I- I don’t know why I told you that.”

 

Kara blinks and the silence between them stretches for awhile. Then, for a lack of something to say, The Woman eventually concedes, “it was his time.”

 

“You’re the Grim Reaper.”

 

The Woman cocks her head to her side, considers Kara.

 

“We are called many things. I have many names.” It’s evasive, her tone. There’s something in the tilt of her head and the raise of her eyebrow that makes Kara feel like she’s teasing her. Testing her. Kara can’t tell if she’s joking or not.

 

“We. There’s more than one of you.” Lena just smiles that cryptic smile and doesn’t respond.

 

“Well then,” Kara paraphrases, asks more pointedly, “what do you call yourself?”

 

Her expression colours with interest, and something in her eyebrows shift and seems to give. The corner of her lips twitch and curl upward, just a stitch, and her eyes sparkle.

 

“Lena.”

 

Kara blinks and then she is alone, standing on the pavement next to a man who, save for the fact is entirely still, could still look like he is merely asleep.

 

iii.

 

“You’re here,” Kara states blankly, gaze casting around on reflex. Noonan’s isn’t the most crowded when it’s not lunch and dinner times. There’s maybe a few other patrons, all quietly enjoying their off-peak meals, but none whose lives look in immediate danger.

 

“Mmm, or maybe you’re a crazy person talking to yourself.”

 

And maybe Lena is right. Maybe Lena has never existed, has always been part of Kara’s imagination, a ghost of longing brought to life by loss, since the moment she saw her hovering over her parents bodies. An apparition her brain conjured up to help her cope.

 

“Maybe I’m here because I enjoy tea,” Lena supplies, raising her cup in a mock toast and taking a sip.

 

“I worked here for three years, before Catco. Noonan’s tea sucks,” Kara says kind of blankly again, and wonders if she’ll ever talk to Lena in any other kind of way. She gives herself a slight mental shake and pulls herself together, clears her throat while promising herself to try and behave more like a well adjusted fellow of civilisation and less like a floundering buffoon in front of Lena.

 

“You’re right, it’s not life-changing.” Lena flicks her hand out in a refined movement, and glances at her wrist. She wears her watch on her right hand, Kara notices. “But it is tea, and I’m early enough to enjoy a cup.”

 

“How are you managing to order if no one else can see you?”

 

“Are we really going to discuss what I can and cannot do?” Lena sounds amused, and her light tone puts Kara at ease, feels her shoulders relax as she nurses her own latte.

 

“You know, I pictured you more of like a, black cape, scythe in hand, ferryman type deal.”

 

“Yes, I have seen those depictions. Dreadful impression of me, don’t you think?”

 

“You’re much prettier,” Kara says, sees Lena blink rapidly, eyes widening a fraction, and immediately panics and back-pedals.

 

“I mean- I mean, it’s just-” Kara fumbles, feels hot all the way up to her ears, inwardly cursing herself for being so uncool. “I didn’t picture a woman.”

 

Lena’s grins wolfishly at her, so Kara thinks it was a good enough save.

 

“I do have a black coat, if you like. I prefer the red though, brings out my eyes,” Lena says, an eyebrow raising, eyes twinkling. Kara distinctly feels like she’s being flirted with, and that thought is almost as ridiculous as the fact that she’s speaking to a Grim Reaper. She was taught the colour wheel in school, and recalls her teacher telling her that red and green are opposite colours, so she’s sure that Lena is right to some measure.

 

“Where do you take them? After you know…”

 

“I’m not allowed to tell mortals that,” Lena says, looking up over the tea cup at Kara, her eyes laughing and her tone teasing.

 

“Heaven and hell… it’s real then? We do go somewhere when we die.”

 

“Again, I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say.”

 

“Is there a boat? Do you ferry them across the waters? Like in the stories?”

 

“There are no boats,” Lena says, and Kara decides that she rather likes the way the corners of Lena’s eyes crinkle whenever she smiles. She takes another sip from her tea cup, and Kara watches her eyes close slowly in satisfaction. Watches Lena’s throat bob as she swallows, vaguely imagines the warm tea sliding down, the way the heat spreads to the tip of your extremities on a cold day. Lena makes a soft, pleased noise and blinks her eyes open, and Kara is taking off her glasses and making an industrious, theatrical display of wiping her lenses clean.

 

“You wear those to hide,” Lena comments conversationally, startling Kara.

 

“I’m- I’m sorry?”

 

“Your glasses. They have no degree. What are you hiding from?”

 

Kara has nothing to say to that, not sure of the answer herself. She fiddles with the end of her sleeve, tugs her cardigan lower down her wrist. Lena leans forward.

 

“May I?” Kara nods. Lena softly pulls them off her ears, and Kara blinks. Lena contemplates her for a millennia, and Kara is transfixed, Lena’s eyes a interminable morass of green. Her skin glows as Kara has always known it to, preternaturally.

 

“I’m charmed,” Lena says, that secretive little smile crossing her features again. Kara wonders if Lena can see her flush.

 

She takes little sips in an attempt to eke out the contents her cup. They drink their beverages in companionable silence, tea for Lena and latte for Kara.

 

And then after a time, Lena looks at her watch again, then squints up at the sky outside the window beside their little booth.

 

“I have to go now,” Lena says. Kara nods.

 

Later that day Kara goes into Catco Worldwide Media to an atmosphere that’s hushed and yet quite ridiculously conspicuous so that instead of being discreet, everyone’s gossip is really quite loud.

 

“Where have you been, Kiera?” Cat Grant demands, suddenly right beside her, and Kara almost trips at the sudden proximity of her boss. “Kelly jumped. I’m going to be crucified for making yet another headline for a suicidal employee.” -Cat rolls her eyes at that- “May I remind you that it’s time like these that I need my personal assistant because I’m going to need to do damage control faster than Haley Joel Osmond went from being the cutest boy on earth to completely forgettable.”

 

“Oh,” Kara says disconcertedly, Lena’s dark red coat in mind, and mistaking Kara’s response, Cat’s expression goes soft and careful.

 

“Oh Kiera, I didn’t know you were close to Kelly. If you’re not up to this, tell me now.”

 

“No, Miss Grant, I’m fine.” Kara says vehemently, wanting nothing less than being sent home. “What do you need?”

 

iv.

 

She’s lost both her parents this year, and though Aunt Astra has been sick for a long time, and she knows it was coming, Kara wildly and blindly wishes Astra wouldn’t leave her too.

 

The doctors has said Astra wouldn’t last the month, but that had been at least five weeks ago, and Kara feels like everyone in the hospital is just waiting for the end, when they should be focusing on saving her. When she cries, it’s more in helpless anger than anything else. It burns white-hot at the back of her eyes, feeling irascible, and she blurrily wipes at her face, pushing against her glasses.

 

Her parents may have taught her maths and science, encouraged her to always strive to be the best in her classes and in the noble pursuit of knowledge, but Astra was the one who brought her out shopping, who bought her her first cell phone and told her very seriously to give her a call if she was bullied on the first day of school.

 

Aunt Astra, to whom she talked to about boys in middle school, who told her that she will never leave her, no matter what, that the stars will always guide them back to each other. That even if the whole world turned their back on her, Aunt Astra will always be there, her hand sure and steady as a rock at the small of her back.

 

The heart monitor beeps slow but steadily as Kara sits on the white plastic hospital chair beside her last blood relative on the planet.

 

She cradles Astra’s hand in hers, idling rubbing her long fingernails. She’d helped to trim them a few days ago, but it’s already grown out again. Astra’s hand is sinewy- her skin hasn’t been plump and full for a long time. Her face is thin, and her colour etiolated, but Astra still looks young and if Kara wills herself to enough, she could still believe that Astra will fight the disease taking her health and miraculously wake up.

 

This time, Kara isn’t surprised to see Lena. This time, she is the very opposite of surprised. As Astra’s health deteriorated, Kara had been turning sharply around corners at imaginary shadows, both in trepidation and anticipation alike. It drives her mad, knowing that there is a part of her that does not mind seeing Lena again, and knowing what that means for Astra. It torments her, the tiny want to see Lena (that she violently denies), the want to keep Astra alive, repeating in a cyclical sequence in her head.

 

“Are they all the same to you? Just another soul that you collect?” She asks numbly as Lena appears out of thin air- no preamble. She’s just suddenly there, standing beside the hospital bed, looking for once, slightly contrite.

 

“She’s not just some other soul,” Kara clears her dry throat, says more forcefully. “Her name is Astra.”

 

“I will remember that.” Lena is as impeccable as ever, her hair loose and shiny, raven-black as it descends past her neck, tucked into the opening folds of red coat that Kara is now accustomed to seeing.

 

“Did you know? My dad used to tell me bedtime stories, but the books were of his choosing. He only read me things he thought would be educational for me- classics and literature. I mean, my dad was a great man, but he was really serious, you know?” Kara says wistfully. ”Aunt Astra bought me my first comic book. She said there’s no point being a kid if I couldn’t live in fantasy.”

 

Lena nods, agreeable if nothing else. She runs a hand through her own hair, strands falling through her fingers silkily.

 

“Aunt Astra didn’t have kids of her own. She said I was enough.” Kara clutches Astra’s hand harder, presses her fingernails into Astra’s skin, wonders if her touch is enough to ground Astra to this dimension (she knows it isn’t). She only loosens her hold when angry red lines start to depress into Astra’s skin.

 

“She liked astronomy and astrophysics, a lot. While mom and dad preferred fields related to renewable energy, preferred palpable chemistry, Aunt Astra was more interested in cosmology.” Her voice sounds distant and gravelly even to her ears, throat hoarse with crying. She swallows. She doesn’t quite recognise it. “I used to sit on her lap, and she would teach me about the stars, and tell me stories of the universe. To be honest, I’m not sure how much of those were facts and how much was just nonsense she made up to entertain my endless questions.”

 

She’s rambling, she knows. She’s talking more at Lena than to her.

 

“You were a curious child, I see.”

 

“She said it helped keep her young, doing these mental exercises, because I asked so many questions that she was forced to think.”

 

“She looks exactly like your mother.” Kara looks at Lena sharply. Lena parts her lips, looks hesitant. Kara senses it was meant to be a compliment.

 

“You remember my mother?”

 

“And your father too.” Kara nods vaguely to herself, accepts Lena’s consolation.

 

“Is it lonely, on the other side? Is my family… are they together?”

 

Lena is silent so Kara shakes her head hollowly.

 

“Right, right. You’re not allowed to say. What can you say then?”

 

Lena sighs.

 

“I am deeply sorry for your loss- losses,” Lena corrects herself, as gently as she can manage, her eyes dusky and terribly apologetic as they burn into Kara’s. But Kara doesn’t want Lena’s soft apologies or her empathetic, briny green eyes. Kara wants to lunge at her, shake her, make her go away. Kara wants Lena to leave her alone, to leave Aunt Astra alone. Lena has taken three from her this year.

 

“This is starting to feel personal,” Kara deadpans.

 

Lena’s gaze flickers down, cocks her head at Astra as she slowly extracts one slender hand from the pockets of her red coat.

 

And Astra seems to deflate even though she is already still, so still. The heart monitor flat-lines, the emergency alarm going off.

 

“No,” Kara rasps, a croak in her voice, “not yet.” But she stays frozen and helpless as she watches the now familiar gesture of Lena raising her palm to Astra’s chest. She whisper-sings under her breath as Kara’s seen her do many times, in a language that Kara cannot grasp or understand.

 

Her vision blurs with more unshed tears as Lena hesitantly approaches Kara next. She stops an inch away and Kara looks up anyway, because Lena’s presence is always potent, always commands attention. She wonders how Lena looks so tall, even with the tacky white of the hospital light bursting from the sides of Lena’s outline as Lena looks quietly down at her.

 

Lena reaches out and her hand hovers for a moment in mid-air, before seeming to compose herself and moves forward to complete the motion. She tucks a strand of loose hair behind Kara’s ear, fingertips brushing lightly over her skin.

 

She uses a thumb to wipe at a stray tear, brushing over her eyelashes. Kara closes her eyes as she feels Lena’s palm ghosting over her cheek, her pinkie on her neck, just shy of cupping her face. And just as she leans in, suddenly she stumbles into air and she doesn’t have to open her eyes to know that she is alone.

 

Her cheek tingles and she realises that her fingers are curled around something slender. In her lap lies a single, black rose.

 

A nurse bursts into the room, finally having been alerted to Astra’s heart giving out, and Kara vaguely registers panicked shouting. A doctor is rushing through the doors to perform a resuscitation procedure, pushing Kara out of the way, but Kara already knows that Astra won’t be coming back.

 

v.

 

She’s still only twenty-six. This is apparently a very memorable year, Kara muses as her head spins.

 

It was an accident. A military experiment regarding a humanoid machine called the Red Tornado. It goes berserk in the city in broad daylight, and multiple civilians become collateral damage. National City releases an official warning, demanding citizens to stay out of its way, but not before Kara is caught in the crosshairs.

 

She might have a concussion, after being slammed into a building by the whirlwind that the Red Tornado conjures up. A wave of nausea hits her and she resists the urge to hurl.

 

She coughs, chokes on liquid. She wipes at her mouth, and pulls her hand away bloody. Her hand trembles involuntarily, requiring too much effort to keep up, and she lets it fall away to the ground beside her.

 

Her head won’t stop spinning, but she powers through, blinks to try and concentrate on the blue of the sky. She coughs again, splutters out blood.

 

At least she won’t have to face Christmas without her parents and Aunt Astra, Kara thinks. She hadn’t planned that far ahead, hadn’t thought to arrange her first Christmas without her family. She’s kind of relieved now, that she doesn’t have to go through with the farce of it all, to pretend it doesn’t matter to her that she’s lost her whole world within the last twelve months.

 

She can’t feel her legs.

 

“Hey you,” Kara manages to say, smiles lazily as a dark red coat swims into vision. Lena wears black high heels, Kara just now notices. They’re very beautiful heels. Lena has very lovely ankles.

 

“Hello.” There is a smile in Lena’s voice, a soft thing, like a cloud. Kara could almost touch it.

 

“I’m a journalist now, you know. A reporter for Catco.”

 

“You’ve done very well for yourself, Kara.” Lena’s voice is sure, agreeable, as it always is, the cadence of her accent like gravity, pulling at Kara’s frazzled mind. It is propulsive, comforting, anchoring all at the same time.

 

“Are you here for me, this time?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good. That’s good.” She blinks wearily up at the sky. It’s very blue. Vaguely she knows it is daytime, but the colours are dim and subdued. Her vision swirls, barely in focus. Her thoughts won’t align, and her concentration is foggy. Kara sniffles. “Will I see my parents again? I miss them, you know, so much.”

 

Lena makes a non-committal sound, crouches down beside her. She grins at Lena, can’t see anything outside of her green eyes.

 

“Aunt Astra too? Good. Good.” Her brain is hazy from blood loss. She feels heavy, like she’s sinking, sinking into a pit of nonbeing. There’s a long silence, and Kara wonders if time has stopped, or if it is ever rolling, ceaselessly pulsing on.

 

She’s watched Lena wave her palm over bodies before, but Lena doesn’t do that now. She places her palm over her shirt, presses down on her chest directly over her heart. It’s not forceful but it is firm, tangible enough that Kara can feel its warmth through the fabric of her top. It is only a palm, but Kara feels held. Irrationally, she dreams of Lena curling her fingers, scratching Kara with short nails.

 

Stars will guide you home to me, Aunt Astra had said.

 

“Where- star?” Kara asks clumsily. Her mother used to sing her to sleep. Someone is humming a tune to her, now.

 

“Are you there, Lena?”

 

“Of course, my dear.”

 

“Good. That’s nice to know. Thank you. Can I fall asleep now?”

 

“I think you’ll find that you already have. It’s all dark, isn’t it, darling? Look around.”

 

And Kara looks around, or rather, tries to look around, but Lena is right. She’s covered in a veil of darkness so black she can’t see her fingers. Is she even lifting her hand? If she is, she can’t feel it. Everything is muted and her brain feels cloudy, unable to think straight.

 

“Open your eyes.”

 

“But I’m sleepy.” She feels petulant. Five more minutes, Dad, she wants to say as she tries to turn and find her bolster. And Lena chuckles in that sing-song way of hers.

 

“Open your eyes, Kara.”

 

“Am I dead?”

 

Lena doesn’t answer her, so Kara tries to get up, really, she tries. Her hearing seems to have improved a little, because she can make out garbled sounds and another new voice nearby, but otherwise she can’t seem to be able to move.

 

(“I’ve been expecting you, Agent Danvers.”

 

“I’m not here for a fight today, Luthor. I’ve come for Kara.”

 

“Ahhh. There is something about her, then?” –A pause- “I had been wondering…”

 

“I’m not inclined to discuss my business with you. I’m just here for her.”

 

Kara distantly notes that the new voice is rather hostile to Lena.

 

“I trust she’ll be in safe hands?”

 

A snort.

 

“Why would a Grim Reaper care what happens to a single soul?” It’s wary, suspicious. “Not that it is anything to you, but of course.”)

 

And then Lena is whisper-singing to Kara again, the sigh-song that Kara has never understood but now it feels like it is all she can wrap around, feels herself leaning toward it, as though caught in a spell. Like nothing exists outside of Lena’s comforting lilt, like all she desires is to listen and obey, to chase, to follow.

 

“I knew there was something special about you, my dear.” Special. Lena called her special. I am? Kara wants to ask, feels like rising into Lena’s praise, but can’t work her throat.

 

“You’re wanted, Up there. Don’t fall asleep on me now, good girl.” Lena sounds pleased, almost purring into her ear, and in her daze Kara wants nothing more than to please Lena. To keep on hearing Lena’s approving tone. Her melody feels less like a demand than it is an invitation, and Kara yearns to acquiesce. It makes Kara feel good and warm, chases away the cold (when had it gotten so cold?).

 

“Come now, open your eyes,” Lena murmurs encouragingly, drags Kara to the precipice of awareness, grounds Kara just so. She wants to obey, but Lena’s request remains a velleity. She can’t seem to fully slip away, can’t seem to embrace the void and fall asleep, but she can’t entirely stay awake either.

 

“You have a, ahhh, shall we say, higher calling?” Even in her haze, Kara is quite sure she’s being teased. Lena coaxes again, and Kara finds herself bending to Lena’s request, musters all her strength.

 

She blearily blinks her eyes open. Lena’s dark red coat is nowhere in sight, and Kara searches for green eyes but she’s surrounded by bright, snowy light. She hears Lena’s smooth inflection again, low and seductive. But this time it seems to be coming from inside her head, her wind-chime laughing voice reverberating inside her skull, half-teasing, half-soothing.

 

“I dare say your journey isn’t over yet, Kara Zor-El.”

 

And Kara floats, feels like she’s flying, fades into white.