It had been an unusually quiet morning in the office. Almost unnatural, in a way.
Normally, the DEO would be a hive of activity. Strike teams would be being assembled downstairs, gathering up their gear and suiting up; keyboards would be clicking away as Winn and the other analysts broke down codes, scanned for radiation signatures, or cross referenced something alien with something even more alien; J’onn would be hovering about the computers, hands on his hips, giving stern directions, or asking for files on a certain alien to be brought up on screen, or giving Winn and earful again for how messy his work station was, and reminding him again how toys (“action figures!”) had their place, and that place was not the workplace.
But it was a slow day – not so much as an alien with a parking ticket – and everyone seemed to have slowed down to match it.
Winn and Annie, one of the other analysts, had already had three wheelie chair races around the centre console in the control room, and only stopped because Alex had given them both ‘a look’, and were now sitting together at Annie’s computer, looking at cat videos. J’onn was up in his office, eating the noodles he’d had time to personally go out and get, for lunch. Alex was feeding old documents into the shredder, elbow on her knee, chin propped up in one hand and looking off into space. Pam from HR had actually emerged one or two times from downstairs; Kara had seen her whispering to people and half wondered if she was trying to start something between colleagues, just so it would give her something to do.
Kara herself was testing how long she could balance her perfectly sharpened pencil on the end of her finger. Her record was seven minutes. She knew she could have gone longer, if it weren’t for that text from Lena, asking if they were still on for dinner that night.
She managed to count to three hundred and fifty seven when the wormhole opened.
It sent an electrical current around the room, snapping everyone to attention after a split second of shock. Guns were suddenly un-holstered; Alex was shouting orders to ‘steady’ and ‘be on guard’, but no-one made a move toward it besides Kara, because she recognized the swirling blue anomaly and knew what was coming next.
And sure enough, after a long moment of tension, a figure dressed in maroon red leapt through and looked around, first in curiosity, and then upon seeing twenty guns pointed at him, in alarm.
“Whoa,’ The Flash said, putting his hands up.
“Stand down!’ Kara cried, dropping her pencil and putting a hand out. She rushed forward, feeling joy almost burst out from her chest. ‘Barry! I’m so happy to see you! What are you doing here? Hey, is this a new suit?’
Barry grunted and laughed when she crashed into him, pulling him into a hug that was so tight he had to tap her on the shoulder.
“Actually, this isn’t a social call,’ he glanced around the room. The DEO agents were standing down; Alex was moving forward. Barry smiled at her. ‘Hi, Alex. Is there somewhere we can talk?”
Kara could see Alex’s confusion pass over the face. She had never actually met Barry, although Kara had told her all about him, and him about her. But she didn’t say anything, just nodded and gestured for both the agents to move aside, and for both Barry and Kara to follow.
She led them up to J’onn’s office – arguably the most failsafe room in the entire building. The Martian stood up as they entered, hastily stashing away his gossip magazine.
“Mr. Allen,’ he said, shaking hands with Barry. ‘What brings you to our universe?”
Barry slid his mask off his face; he leant on the end of J’onn’s desk, folding his arms over his chest. He looked haggard, like he’d been up for three days straight. There were lines on his face she didn’t remember being there the last time she’d seen him. He had a dark shade of scruff that ran along his jaw and across his upper lip; his shoulders seemed heavier somehow.
“Look, I don’t have a lot of time so I’ll just cut to the chase…’ he looked directly at Kara as he spoke. ‘I need you to come with me. Right now.”
She could feel, rather than see, Alex and J’onn exchange a glance. They both shifted their weight from one foot to the other.
“What’s wrong?’ Kara asked.
Barry bared his teeth, looking awkward. “I’m not entirely sure. But you came through to my universe,’ he pointed at Alex then, who looked bewildered, ‘using the portal manipulator Cisco gave Kara ages ago, and said you guys were in trouble and you needed Supergirl, and I did my best to help but it brought me here, and…”
He trailed off then, and rubbed his eyes. Kara suddenly realised why he looked so rough, and why his suit was different, and why there were lines on his face she’d never seen before.
“You’re from the future,’ she said. Barry nodded, and Kara ignored the glances from J’onn and Alex to frown at him. ‘I thought you weren’t supposed to time travel anymore.”
“I didn’t,’ he insisted, putting his hands up defensively. ‘I called Sara and got a lift on the Waverider. They brought me back in time, and jumped us through a portal to this universe. The Waverider can take us the rest of the way.”
“Hang on a second, Mr. Allen,’ J’onn put a hand out to stop the conversation. ‘Are you expecting us to just let Miss Danvers here galivant off God knows where with you at the drop of a hat?”
“You sent for her,’ Barry insisted. He looked at both J’onn and Alex in turn. ‘Both of you. You said your Kara was in trouble, and you just needed a version of her just for a day or so. I don’t have all the details, but it seemed urgent. So, we picked a random time period and… well, here we are.”
“Why do they need a Supergirl?’ Kara enquired, asking the question that was on all their minds. ‘Does something happen to me?”
“I didn’t get all the details,’ Barry repeated, putting his hands up again. ‘I was in too much of a hurry to get here – to get you. Alex looked worried… more than I’ve ever seen before.”
Kara understood that urgency. If Barry needed her, she would have crossed universes without question. And wasn’t just Barry this time, but Alex, who she would have travelled more distance for.
But it wasn’t like Barry not to explain, and it was this that unsettled her. Kara could see the concern etched on his face; she was desperate to know more, but could also seem him shifting his weight from one foot to the other in impatience. Barry wasn’t usually one for waiting, used to time moving so much quicker, but even now he seemed more agitated than usual. What had happened to her in the future to get him so wound up?
There was really only one way to find out.
“But won’t me going to the future cause some sort of…’ Kara paused, and searched for the word with a wave of her hand, ‘…I don’t know, paradox, or something? Isn’t that why you’re not supposed to travel through time? I could ruin the space time continuum, or whatever it is.”
J’onn made a half-shrug, conceding motion then. ‘Well, I can always wipe your memory when you come back. And you can bring her back not long after she leaves,’ he added pointedly at Barry, ‘right?”
Barry nodded empathically. “It’ll be like no longer than five minutes has passed, tops. Sara’s really good at this. Well, okay, technically its Gideon, but…”
“I’ll go,’ Kara said then, and with a definitive nod her mind was made up.
Barry sighed with relief. Forgetting himself momentarily, he stepped toward the door so fast only Kara saw him move. He stopped short of the door, his hand outstretched when he realised no one was following him.
“I’ll bring her back,’ Barry urged, giving both J’onn and Alex a look in turn. ‘I promise.”
Kara looked at J’onn. He was pinching his chin between his thumb and his forefinger; the lines on his forehead were pronounced as he stared right back at her.
“Permission to jump universes and time periods,’ Kara asked formally, and then added with a smirk, ‘… sir.”
J’onn rubbed his forehead. “I expecting you back in this office in five minutes. Alex?”
Alex already had her phone out. She brandished it at her sister. The timer was ready to go.
Kara rushed forward and hugged her. Alex gripped her tightly.
“Be careful,’ she whispered in her ear. ‘If this timer ticks a second over five minutes, I’m coming to get you myself.”
Kara nodded, promised to do as her sister said, and turned toward Barry. “Let’s go.”
Barry led her up to the roof in a blur of movement she could only just keep up with. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The weather had been just as calm as the activity in the city below all week. The sounds of the city were hers to embrace if she chose to do so, and on any other day she might have. But Barry was standing on the edge of the building, looking around for something.
“It was here…’ he muttered.
“What…?” Kara started to ask, but her question was answered almost instantly.
In a shimmer of light, The Waverider materialised in front of them, hovering ten feet above them. Kara had forgotten how massive the ship was. Of course, she’d seen bigger ships before in the past. The Daxamite ship was almost five times the size, not to mention the freighter ships they’d had back on Krypton that shipped minerals between her world and others. But considering it to be man-made, it was impressive none-the-less.
The door on the side slid open; the light inside was a welcoming, orange glow like a sunset. Kara slid an arm under Barry’s, lifted him from the ground and flew both of them into the ship.
The door closed resolutely behind them as they stepped into the cargo hold. Kara let go of Barry after his smile of thanks, and looked up as Sara Lance and Ray Palmer rushed into the room.
“Hey!’ Ray rushed to greet them both, a slap on the back for Barry and a quick hug for Kara. ‘That was fast. Well…’ he added as Barry cleared his throat, ‘you know what I mean. Kara, come through. We’re just about to leave. Wanna see the ship?”
Kara smiled as Sara, ignoring Barry, who had followed after Ray, stepped forward to greet her with a handshake. She looked the same as the last time Kara had seen her.
“You’re not from the future?’ she asked.
“Same time as you, just different universe. We just happened to be in Barry’s time when he called us, and he brought us through with this new portal manipulate he had, big enough to fit the ship through. Good to see you again, Supergirl,’ she smirked. ‘Sorry its under such dire circumstances.”
“What’s so dire?’ Kara asked, feeling concern flare up in her chest again.
“Barry didn’t say?”
“He was in a hurry.”
Sara jerked her head, gesturing for Kara to follow. Kara’s red boots made a satisfying clunk noise as she strolled through the metal hallways after Sara.
“Shame,’ Sara said, shoving her hands in her pockets. ‘This Barry doesn’t seem to be much for sharing. I guess that’s what five years will do to you. Gideon?’
“Yes, Captain Lance?’
Kara blinked, and looked around as the disembodied voice of a woman sounded throughout the hallway.
“Prepare the ship for departure. Twenty first of July, two thousand and twenty twenty-two. Oh, this is Gideon,’ Sara added, seeing the look on Kara’s face.
Kara waved at the ceiling. ‘Hello,”
“Greetings, Kara Zor-El.”
“She knows who I am?’ Kara muttered to Sara.
Sara smirked as Gideon said, ‘I know you from the archives. Even on our distant, parallel universe you have made an impact on the lives of many.”
Kara felt her cheeks burn. Sara’s eyes sparkled and she laughed, patting Kara on the back. They soon entered the bridge. Barry was already in deep conversation with Dr. Stein. Jax was strapping himself into a seat next to a woman Kara had never seen before, but was quickly introduced to by Sara to be Amara. A young man standing beside her introduced himself as Nate with a very firm handshake, firmer than most humans.
Mick Rory came over then, beer in one gloved hand, and other outstretched. “Skirt.”
Kara smiled despite the appalling nickname, and only had time to shake his hand quickly before Sara was sitting herself down in the captain’s chair, and telling them all to strap in.
“Every time jumped before?’ Nate asked.
Kara shrugged with a laugh, sitting herself between him and Barry.
“I hope you have a strong stomach,’ Jax warned.
Kara felt only a moment of apprehension, before Sarah pushed forward on the throttle, and they were off.
Barry had always been just that little bit faster than her.
It was the one edge he had over her. Supergirl, despite being faster than a speeding bullet, would always still be that split second behind The Flash.
But Kara was astounded by how much of a difference five years made on his speed.
The trip to the year 2022 had been almost instantaneous. Arriving in the future had only taken a few moments; upon arriving, however, everyone had let out a groan and put a hand to their heads, or their stomachs, when The Waverider had lurched suddenly to a sudden and hard stop. Even Sara had looked unsettled. But Kara had felt nothing, only a few moments of dizziness, and had received expressions of awe and apprehension of the crewmates upon sharing this knowledge.
Gideon had parked The Waverider outside of the city, out in the desert so as not to unexpectedly land on any new structures that had appeared in National City over the years that had passed, or to attract the attention of the DEO. Despite the fact that they would know they were coming, and that they had cloaking technology, the Legends didn’t want to entice a panic.
The Legends had walked Kara and Barry to the cargo hold. The door had sprung open, and Ray had once again been the first to rush forward and bid them farewell. They all in turn said their goodbye’s, and only after Mick had given Kara a nod from the back of the group, with a raise of his beer bottle, did the true impact of what was happening hit Kara like a meteor.
“Where will you guys go now?’ she asked. “This isn’t your universe after all. How will you get back?”
“We’ll stay in this universe for the time being until you’re done,’ Dr. Stein said. ‘and then we’ll take you home.”
“You’re just going to hang around?’ Kara frowned. She felt as though she were wasting their time. Surely there were people back in their universe who needed their help?
As if reading her mind, the answer came.
“I have detected some Time Aberrations that could benefit from our intervention,’ Gideon had announced. ‘Do not worry, Kara Zor-El. We will have plenty to do, and when you need us you need only call us.”
Sara stepped forward then, and handed Kara a small devise that looked like an old beeper from the 90’s. “Just press this when you’re ready to go, and we’ll be here. I won’t tell you how it works because, honestly, I had no idea.”
Kara nodded, and pulled Sara into a grateful hug; she smelled of gunpowder and soil, and Kara vaguely wondered where they had been before they’d jumped back into the ship and come to her aid. She felt the smaller woman stiffen for a moment, before softening slightly and returning the gesture in earnest.
She also heard a male voice mutter ‘that Lance magic at it again’ but couldn’t decipher who it came from, and thought it rude to bring it up anyway.
After they’d pulled apart, Kara saw Barry checking his watch out of the corner of her eye. Taking the hint, she quickly bid everyone farewell once more, and then they were dashing across the horizon in a blur of movement.
And now, Kara was barely keeping up as they approached the city. Barry was a good length in front of her; he kept looking over his shoulder at her, and Kara knew he was checking to see if she was keeping pace. She knew that he knew he was so much faster than her, and was no doubt pulling back so that she could stay on his heels.
Not that she needed to. She knew the way home from here.
As if reading her mind, Barry skidded to a halt just outside the city limits. Kara had been lost in thought for a moment, and almost crashed right into the back of off; she’d had to do a clumsy flip over the top of him to avoid what would have been a bone-breaking collision.
“Sorry,’ he laughed. ‘Look I gotta go…”
“You’re not coming with me?”
“I can’t. I’m promised Iris I wouldn’t get involved any more than was absolutely necessary. And there’s this thing going on, and Wally is handling things for now, but…’ he trailed off with a heaving sigh, and looked out onto the horizon. Kara squeezed him on the shoulder.
“I understand,’ she said, swallowing her own apprehension. ‘Go do what you have to do. I’ll be fine.”
“You will,’ Barry urged, already taking a few steps back toward the way we came. ‘You still have everyone here, and if you get really stuck you can call Sara. I wish I could stay and help, but…”
“Just go,’ Kara laughed, waving him off.
Barry smiled, rushed forward and gave her a quick, firm hug. He whispered ‘Good Luck’ in her ear, and then in a blur of movement and a whoosh of air, he was done, leaving nothing but a haze of dust in his wake.
Kara sighed, and looked around at the glistening, silver horizon before her. She pushed off from the ground and headed for the DEO building, resisting the urge to slow down and take in what National City was like in the future. She hoped there would be time to explore later.
But now, she had a mission.
When she landed on the balcony of the DEO, it no-one looked up right away. There were no agents rushing about, no alarms going off. What was the big emergency going on here?
Kara half wondered if she was going to be greeted by herself. She was going to see her future self! What would she look like in five years? What would her future self think of this version of her now, showing up out of the blue? She was going to have no memory of this, so her future self would not be expecting to see another version of Supergirl. Would she think she was an imposter? Or a clone, like Bizzaro, and attack? But Alex had sent for her; surely she would know?
Kara tensed up anyway, ready for anyone or anything to launch at her.
She continued indoors, looking around with curiosity. At a glance, she could see a few differences from this office, and the office she had been balancing pencils in only an hour prior. Equipment had been updated, the huge monitors on the back wall were slightly bigger, the computers looked even sleeker…
But that was as far as she got, because that’s when someone cried out, and then the circle of black clad agents had her surrounded.
Kara put her hands up in surrender. “It’s me.”
“Supergirl is in the medical bay,’ one agent, a woman Kara didn’t recognise, barked at her. ‘Identify yourself!”
“I’m Supergirl. I’m… it’s hard to explain…”
“State your intention!”
“I was asked to come here. If I could just talk to Alex…”
“Potential hostile uncompliant, prepare to engage…”
“No, I’m not…”
The figure who broke through the formation was familiar – so familiar.
Alex had her back to Kara; her hands were motioning for the agents to lower their weapons, just as they had with Barry earlier that day. And they did so, without question or hesitation.
“Director Danvers,’ the female agent holstered her gun and stood up a little straighter. ‘I’m sorry, I thought…”
“I told you Supergirl was coming.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry. I got carried away…”
“That’ll be all, Macintyre.”
Macintyre nodded, looking steadfast at the floor. “Yes ma’am. Team, disengage, return to post…”
As the agents dispersed, Alex finally turned around, and Kara got a good look at her.
She’d been able to see from the back that her hair was longer. It hadn’t been this long since college. There were a few extra freckles across her face, and even a few strands of white hair along her temple that had definitely not been there before. Kara knew Alex’s face almost as well as her own.
Her big sister looked weary now; exhausted even, like she hadn’t slept in days.
“Sorry about that,’ Alex sighed. ‘She’s a bit green and a big fan of yours, and…’ she trailed off, and a smile of relief stretched out across her face, ‘… oh whatever, I’m so glad you’re here.”
Alex threw her arms around her; her whole body seemed to envelop her. Kara remembered the last time Alex had hugged her like this – when she’d woken up after flying Fort Roz out of Earth’s atmosphere.
Kara responded in kind, because she knew Alex needed it. And when they broke apart, Alex brushed hair away from Kara’s face.
“Barry really is the fastest man alive,’ Alex chuckled weakly. ‘He only left fifteen minutes ago. Where did he get you from?”
“That was a bit dramatic,’ Alex grimaced. ‘Five years? He could have gone back a week.”
Kara took Alex gingerly by the arm. “Alex, what’s going on?’
Alex pursed her lips, and jerked her head. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
Kara ignored the looks she was getting as she followed Alex through the building, down the familiar path to the medical bay. Despite the curious gazes, the wide eyes of disbelief, and the embarrassed eyes that quickly glanced away, Kara gave them all polite smiles, as was her way.
“It must be weird,’ she muttered. ‘There being two of me, I mean,”
“It’s not the weirdest thing that’s happened here,’ Alex offered over her shoulder, ‘and it wont be the last. Well, this will be weird for you, I’m sure.”
Kara quickly understood what she meant.
With a quick direction, the glass room of the medical bay that had once housed an unconscious Mon-El emptied of people in white coats, and all that was left was Kara, and Alex, and the unconsciously form of Supergirl on a bed.
It was definitely weird. Kara had had many surreal experiences in her life – uprooting and moving to an entirely different planet half way across the universe had certainly been one of them. But this, looking down at herself now, it was like when she’d met Bizzaro. But this was different. This time it really was her. And a her from five years into the future.
Her hair was still the same, as were her features. Her expression was restful; she could have just been napping if it weren’t for the wires connected to her forehead and arms, monitoring her life signs. The only really difference Kara could see between them, other than one being awake and the other unconscious, were their suits. Kara was still in her usual Supergirl suit, but this Kara’s suit resembled Clark’s; her cape was longer, and a deeper red and was wrapped around her like a blanket. Her boots were shorter, only rising half way up her shins. The skirt was gone; now a whole body suit like Superman. Kara reached out a ran her hand up this Supergirl’s arm. The material felt different to the one she was wearing now.
She then reached up and put a hand on the future Kara’s forehead. She was warm.
“What happened to her? Me,’ she added with a grimace.
Alex looked sadly down at the unconscious form of her sister. “It’s a virus. You contracted it from a Jyndorthian you were battling just over a week ago. We didn’t diagnose you in time and…’ Alex took a second to compose herself, and then whispered, ‘you slipped into a coma two days ago.”
Kara looked back down at herself. “I didn’t know there were any Jyndorthians on this planet.”
“A fleet of them arrived last year,’ Alex explained. ‘Refugees. And most of them have been peaceful and integrated, but this one faction broke off and have been trying to develop terraforming technology, so they and the rest of their kind can move to their own planet. But they’d been reckless, and samples of their work ended up on the black market and were being sold as components for potential chemical warfare. You accosted the group during a sale, and one of the samples broke free in a fight, and it hasn’t reacted well with your atomic structure.”
“Was anyone from the DEO affected?”
“You didn’t take a team, it was just you. You saw them while flying over the city and tried to intervene… against my instruction…’ Alex added irritably under her breath.
Kara smirked. “Sounds like me.”
Alex gave Kara a tight-lipped smile, before continuing. “Anyway, we’ve almost engineered a cure. Lena’s provided a lot, and combined with what we’ve got here we’re close, but the only problem is the last few chemicals and the device we need are in the Fortress of Solitude. And Clark is off-world with J’onn seeing to the White Martian rebellion, and the only people who can get inside the Fortress are people who can lift a key made of a million tonnes of condensed dwarf star, and the only person left on this planet who can do that…”
“Is me,’ Kara finished for her.
“Yeah, but as you can see,’ Alex squeezed her sister’s shoulder, ‘you can’t even open your eyes let alone lift that sort of weight. So, Winn had the idea that we ask Barry to go get a version of you to help us help… well, you.”
Kara nodded. “Of course. I’ll go right now. What do you need?’
While Alex wrote her a list, Kara looked down at herself once more; leaning in and peering into her own face. Had that freckle always been there? Did her eyebrows always form that little knot while she slept?
Then Kara noticed the soft glint of silver at her throat.
She pulled on it gently, and the rest of the necklace fell free. Dangling from the silver chain was a pendant. Set in silver, encased behind glass was the image of a dark, night sky, and a constellation burning brightly.
Kara didn’t have time to wonder where she could have gotten this, or what the constellation was. Alex tugged on the end of her cape to get her attention, and handed her a piece of paper.
“Be careful,’ she urged. ‘But hurry.” Alex hugged her again, just as tightly as before, and murmured in her ear, ‘I’m so happy to see you.”
With a quick kiss to her temple, Kara gave her one last squeeze, and then was on her way in a flash of movement.