Over the skyscrapers of National City, fantastically contrasting against a brilliant blue sky, two caped figures duke it out in punches that hit so hard, the reverberations of each one can be felt all the way down to the sidewalks of the city.
It is on one of these shaking sidewalks that two figures stand, looking up at the fighting opponents with baffled disbelief.
“I didn’t want to say this. I really didn’t,” one of them says, eyes still glued to the display of ongoing strength occurring over their heads.
“Then don’t,” snaps the other, vehemence undercut by how faint her voice is from shock.
“Sorry. I have to now. I really really do.”
“No, no. I gotta say it.”
“I told you so.”
“I really really did tell you so Lena,” Kara Danvers says, holding tighter onto the bags of food currently looped around her wrists.
Lena Luthor winces as one of the caped fighters, both of whom are decidedly not Supergirl, punches the other one across the city.
“… you did. You really did.”
It starts like this:
A device of unknown – presumed extraterrestrial – origins is recovered by the DEO and placed under immediate quarantine when it starts humming.
The engineers, baffled by it, admit defeat but J’onn, unwilling to leave the mystery unsolved, convinces Kara to call Lena for help.
Lena is escorted into the DEO and tries to figure out the device, only to, days later, admit that she’s as stumped as everyone else.
The difference between her and the DEO engineers though, is that Lena has a certain amount of recklessness that isn’t tempered by military training.
And a temper. Can’t forget the temper.
So, after the latest readout gives her data that is practically gibberish in that it makes no sense, Lena stomps across the DEO, prepared to kick the damn device out of frustration.
Along the way, she runs into Kara, recently returned from a food run, and weighed down by a not insignificant number of takeout bags. Lena, even in recklessness, can see the wisdom in bringing along the Girl of Steel on her device-kicking mission, so she herds the very confused (and very hungry) superhero into the room housing the before-mentioned device.
Kara, finally catching on to her friend's ill-advised intentions, tries to reason with Lena.
Lena listens for a minute then, staring directly into Kara's eyes with a razor-sharp smile, swats the device with the crumpled up print-out that began it all.
The device, suffice to say, reacts rather... enthusiastically.
"At least we have food!"
"You'd think it a relief too if you'd ever been stuck in a spaceship for over a decade without it."
"Y'know, she kind of looks like you."
"No she doesn't."
"She kind of does."
"No she doesn't."
Kara lifts up the CatCo Magazine they've been perusing (June issue of 2499 and gee golly, isn't that something) and holds the cover next to Lena's face.
Lena tries to swat it away but Kara doesn't budge.
And, yep. The woman on the cover – dubbed Stargirl by the media – has an uncanny resemblance to Lena Luthor, cape and sidewalk-shaking powers aside of course.
"Her eyes are different," Lena grumbles, although she obediently turns her head a couple of degrees to the right when prompted by Kara's gentle tapping on her chin.
Looking at the picture closely, Kara has to agree that yes, the eyes are different. Stargirl has a brilliant azure gaze, blisteringly intense. Lena's eyes, an ever-shifting green, are too differently colored. And wider. Warmer.
"Still. You could be twins," Kara insists, turning her hand to rub at a speck of dirt under Lena's chin.
Lena's jaw shifts as she slowly raises a hand to curl around Kara's wrist, gently pulling it away from her face.
"I'm thinking descendant," she admits, grabbing the magazine still being held next to her head.
"Great great granddaughter?" Kara asks, relinquishing the magazine. Which is not made of paper, but instead is really just a couple of sheets of transparent material displaying the issue. The topmost corner of the thing has a small engraved tag that boasts that the material is '100% biodegradable!'
"Probably," Lena agrees, carefully setting the magazine back on the shelf they had grabbed it from. "It's the most likely explanation."
"What's the least likely explanation?" Kara asks, following Lena as she walks out of the small bodega they had ducked into in search of information on wherever they were.
"A genetically modified clone."
"Huh. You know what? With the way our lives are going I can totally see that happening."
The thing about being stranded in the future (and possibly another Earth) is that one can never really know quite what to expect.
Totalitarian government replacing democracy and keeping the people disenfranchised?
Some kind of post-apocalyptic scenario?
Steampunk aesthetic? Zeppelins? So much technological advancement one can't take a step without massive surveillance or total confusion?
In reality though, the year 2499 looks remarkably similar to the year 2017. Functionally speaking.
There are still roads and cars and sidewalks and magazines and small bodegas and large department stores and loads of people.
The fact that they all look totally different from the versions that Kara and Lena are familiar with doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.
A phone is still a phone after all, capable of long-distance communication, even if the phone of 2017 looks shockingly different from the phone of 1940. The phone of 2499... well, let's just say that unless one has a very healthy relationship with body modification, it's probably something one can go without.
So yeah, the future is still very recognizably human.
And, when a few hours after they arrive, a giant lizard-like alien begins rampaging through the streets, heading straight towards them, Lena and Kara come to realize that future National City is still very recognizably alien as well.
This is how Stargirl meets the time travelers:
A frazzled Kara is wrestling the lizard alien into the ground so that a cursing Lena can diffuse the explosive device strapped to its back.
Needless to say, they succeed.
Stargirl doesn’t look particularly impressed by this feat.
Stargirl and Lena's resemblance becomes even more pronounced when they stand next to each other. Again, the differences are there: Stargirl is plenty taller, with a defined musculature that makes her look bulkier. Lena's hair is a shade darker, straighter and shinier. Their smiles look different because Stargirl has teeth that would make a dentist drool but their frowns... the frowns are exactly the same.
As Kara explains the situation over a cup of stupidly flavorful coffee, Lena glares at her doppelganger, disliking the way the woman is looking at Kara with suspicion and some hostility.
The glare becomes even more pronounced when the superhero declares that she can't help them herself, but that she knows someone who can.
The glare does not abate as they are taken to the PPA – what must be the DEO's successor– where a very cheerful woman named Lisa Sawyer informs them that, technically, proper time travel has yet to be discovered but if they sit tight for a couple of days the Science Unit of the PPA will find a solution to returning them to their time.
"What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Just sit around twiddling our thumbs?" Lena snarks at them, still angry at the way these future-people keep handling them, carefully keeping them in the dark about everything. She's forgotten what it feels like to be distrusted by people who might matter. It's... unpleasant, to say the least.
"Weeeell," Dr. Sawyer looks at Stargirl in askance.
"I'll talk to the Director. We'll set up some temporary accommodations, but I doubt she'll let you work on anything sensitive while you are here," Stargirl says, blue eyes boring into Lena's, daring her to disagree.
It's Kara, bless her good-natured heart, who breaks the staring contest.
"We can help," she tells Stargirl, hesitant but sincere, "if you have need of us."
Everyone in the room softens at her earnest declaration, tensions lowered.
"I'm sorry but, we can't risk you taking too much to the past," Sawyer says, sounding genuinely apologetic.
Even Stargirl is gentle when she speaks next:
"This is not your time, become used to it will do you no good."
Kara and Lena are flown to a farm deep in the Mojave desert, which in the last few centuries has apparently tripled in size, invading most of what used to be Arizona and Nevada.
The farm itself is a marvel of 24th-century engineering and biophysics, with long rows of hanging gardens and modified sand that allows for growing wheat and corn. The farm also comes with a large flock of sheep and a handful of robots that maintain it all.
It's also very very isolated.
Their nearest neighbors are a wind-farmer family living 179 kilometers south and the rangers who manage a solar park 201 kilometers east. The nearest town is 250 kilometers away.
Dr. Sawyer, their chaperone on this trip, talks a bit about the farm, assures them that the robots will do all the work, and explains the basics of how the appliances work. Then she leaves before Lena discovers that they have been locked out of the internet and all other communication systems except for a landline that looks so ancient, it might actually be from their time.
Suffice to say, Lena is less than pleased.
"I admit the lack of internet is a bit suspicious, but it's not like they locked us in here Lena,” Kara reasons, shoulder deep in the lower cabinets of the warm cozy kitchen.
"We're in the middle of the desert Kara,” Lena argues, pacing furiously. “Our nearest neighbor lives farther away than Ireland is wide.”
"Really?” Kara pokes her head out from her cabinet inspection, brow furrowed. “How many kilometers is Ireland at its widest?"
"Less than those between us and another human being!"
"You remember I can fly right?” Kara says, sounding a little amused, “We're not trapped Lena.”
Lena just shakes her head, unwilling to be reassured at the moment, anger bringing a hint of red high on her cheeks.
"It's the principle of the thing!” She cries, flinging her hands up. “If we go anywhere, they'll just dump us back here! It's not as if we can become fugitives in the future."
Kara frowns for a moment, rising from her crouch whilst considering her next words carefully.
"I think,” she hesitantly begins, “I think they're just trying to keep us- and themselves, safe. I have a friend who messed with time once. His best friend's brother died in the new timeline and his other best friend got frost powers and turned evil for a while. So, yeah, ugly business really. Do not recommend."
"Hey,” Kara frowns at the way Lena sinks onto a kitchen chair with a sigh. “Lena... are you ok?” Kara approaches Lena slowly, sinking to her knees and gently setting her hands on Lena’s knees. “You've been acting a little weird.”
"I'm fine,” Lena responds, smiling fondly, if a bit shakily, down at Kara. “Sorry. It's just- don't you get tired of reacting to all the crazy?"
"All the time,” Kara admits, scooting a little closer, moving her hands to loosely hold Lena’s elbows. “I even had a panic attack in the PPA locker room before we flew here."
"Oh. You did?"
"You don't have to apologize. Not for that. Or for being a little overwhelmed. That's perfectly normal,” Kara insists, pulling at Lena’s elbows so that the woman can rest her forearms on Kara’s shoulders in a loose facsimile of a hug. “And hey, if you look at it a certain way... it's time travel! We get a few days of vacation in a future farm that's far from the crazy and it'll be great because we'll just be beamed back to where we left and won't miss anything important.”
"Huh, when you put it that way..."
"Sounds nice right?”
"Yeah. Yeah, it does,” Lena admits. The two smile at each other brightly for a couple of seconds, affection curling deep in their chests, before Kara carefully disentangles herself from Lena and stands.
"C'mon let's see if we can use our new fancy stove to cook something edible.”
Lena laughs and lets herself be pulled to her feet.
(And tries really really hard to ignore the way her chest tightens at Kara's casual use of 'our')
"Always thinking of food,” she teases.
"It's a skill.”
They cook a large box of mac and cheese. It's actually nice to know Kraft is still going strong centuries later.
It smells wonderful too, but when Lena takes a bite out of it, she instantly spits it out back into her bowl. Just like the coffee from earlier, the dish is very very flavorful. Too flavorful.
It’s, quite simply put, revolting.
Taking pity on her, Kara goes out to pick some potatoes from the hanging garden and bakes them using an ungodly combination of future-Tupperware and heat vision.
The potatoes turn out to be weird too, somehow both sweet in flavor and creamy in texture. Not as overwhelming as the macaroni though, so they’re good enough for Lena, who by then is ravenously hungry.
On the other hand, Kara polishes off the entire pot of mac and cheese without complaint.
After dinner, they take a walk through the farm house they’ve been set up in and find it… small. A one-bedroom, wood-paneled kitchen, small living-room kind of affair.
When Kara offers to take the couch Lena just rolls her eyes and pulls at the blonde’s arm until they are at the foot of the narrow bed.
Then Lena face-plants onto the pillows and promptly falls asleep.
Chuckling at her friend's antics, Kara carefully rearranges sprawled limbs into a more comfortable position before getting under the covers herself.
The bed is small enough that, even without super-hearing, she could fall asleep to the steady thumps of Lena’s heart.
The next couple of days are spent exploring every nook and cranny in the house.
Lena is amazed by the appliances and wastes no time in finding a toolbox and dismantling what she can into individual components that get ooohed and ahhhed at with great gusto during their thorough inspection.
Kara leaves Lena to her tinkering, and finds herself taking long walks, trailing behind the silent farm robots as they herd and feed the sheep, tend to the crops and do general maintenance throughout the property.
(Sometimes she finds herself talking to them. They remind her so much of Krypton’s droids that she’s always a little surprised when they don’t answer back)
The farm is peaceful, the nights quiet.
And the stars?
“This is the brightest I’ve ever seen them,” Lena whispers to Kara as they sit next to each other on the steps of the porch, both gripping mugs of hot chocolate and huddling under a soft heavy blanket.
“It’s so big Lena," Kara whispers back, "I forget sometimes, just how much there is out there. This sky though, it reminds me of...”
“Tell me,” Lena asks.
And Kara does.
Whispers about cinnamon-scented worlds, and places where waterfalls are made of gems, and beings who can’t speak through words but communicate by outwardly projecting their thoughts.
How brave must these aliens be? To send a piece of themselves out into the universe on the off-chance they’ll hear someone else reach back.
The desert cools and Kara keeps talking.
The ancient landline rings shrilly a week into their stay:
"This is going to be more complicated than we thought,” Dr. Sawyer’s tinny voice announces with great gravitas. “That device that brought you here? We think there's a double somewhere in this time. It's throwing off all our readings. I'm sorry but you're going to be stuck here a bit longer than we thought."
"We don't know. There's a couple of leads on possible locations but... it might be a while."
"Well. We'd appreciate a relief from boredom. A good connection to the internet should do the trick."
"Sorry Ms Luthor. We really can’t. The less you know the better."
"Ugh. Fine. Are there any books you can send us? Or anything? We're going a little stir crazy over here."
"I'll see what I can do."
The package that Dr. Sawyer sends them falls from a plane that continues on a northeast trajectory until it’s out of sight.
When they open it, Lena laughs at the doctor’s slyness for, cradled between food packs and extra clothes, are some very familiar books.
For the next week, Kara and Lena get absorbed in reading the, by now comfortably dated, Harry Potter series.
When Dr. Sawyer calls again, Lena asks if they can be provided with the films.
Sawyer sends them a television-like device and a memory stick with all eight movies.
And the 23rd century remakes.
Kara and Lena privately agree that the remakes are the superior adaptation but swear not to ever admit this to Sawyer.
They barely know her, but already they can tell the woman would be insufferable about it.
Halfway through July, Lena finally manages to hack the farm robots.
Unfortunately, they don't actually connect to the internet but to a centralized terminal on the property where a PPA technician comes once every month to install updates and check for bugs.
Bored and frustrated by the ongoing information ban, Lena dives into their code and reprograms them.
It takes a couple of days but, when Lena is finished, the four little robots Kara has taken to calling Soyu, SP, Ort, and Curie become capable of speech.
Kara discovers this when, early the next morning, she passes Ort on her way to the kitchen and pats it on its head.
“Good morning Miss Kara Danvers.”
“Hey Ort,” she mumbles distractedly, mostly focused on trying to remember if there are enough eggs for Lena’s omelet-
“Ort... did you just say good morning?”
“I did indeed Miss Kara Danvers,” the robot replies, mechanical voice flat but audible.
“Oh. Ok,” Kara is surprised for only a moment. She’s gotten really good at just rolling with the punches. Literally and metaphorically. “Do you know if we have eggs in the fridge?”
“Two eggs in refrigerator? Yes/no.”
“Output error. Define eggs.”
“Tsk tsk. Lena didn’t educate you very well did she now? C’mon Ort, let me show you what an egg is.”
“Yes Miss Kara Danvers.”
“Just call me Kara Ort.”
“Yes Miss Kara Ort.”
“Hoo boy, you’re gonna be fun aren’t you?”
“Output error. Define fun.”
Lena’s recklessness shines through again when she realizes she’s destroyed the farm robots’ core functions and thus left the farm without farmhands.
When she, contrite and more than a little angry at herself, admits this to Kara, who is in the process of explaining the contents of their fridge to all four farm bots, her friend just laughs.
“Don’t worry about it Lena. They’re perfect. I’ve seen them do their tasks like a million times anyways, I’ll just reteach them how to do it all.”
“Miss Kara Ort, Yes,” one of the bots says.
“Responding to earlier query. Two eggs in refrigerator? Yes/No. Parameters defined. Answer: yes.”
Kara beams down at the bot, patting its head in praise.
“You are absolutely right Ort!”
To Lena she mouths:
The landline rings:
“What’s this I hear about talking farmbots?”
“Ugh. I can’t believe Pedro snitched on us.”
“You are aware that his job is to keep those bots running properly, right?”
“You can’t reset them, Kara’s been teaching them how to pickle vegetables. It’s adorable.”
“...ok that does sound adorable. But Ms Luthor-”
“They’ve started to beep Singing in the Rain whenever they water the crops.”
“...I’ll talk to the Director. But I can’t promise anything.”
“That’s all I’m asking for Dr. Sawyer.”
"We're okay Lena!"
“Umm... what was that?”
“Nothing! Pleasure talking to you Lisa, as always. Gotta go bye!”
The next drop package includes the collected works of Isaac Asimov and a note that reads:
they can stay but remember the 3 laws!
In August, Kara decides to learn how to make jam out of the fruits that are fading out of season.
The next time Pedro, the PPA tech, comes around, he’s distracted from running his diagnostics by a very socially-deprived time-traveling duo and their four talking robots.
The evening passes by in a pleasant rush and he’s cheerfully sent home with a box-full of pickle jars and homemade jams.
Lisa Sawyer claims half of it.
Lena would rather die than admit to it, but she’s found that she is very envious of the way Kara has adapted to the future.
Kara barely struggled to learn how to use the appliances and Kara likes the weather and Kara is great with the bots, patient and methodical, and Kara is good at managing a farm, checking fences and sweeping solar panels and taking over all other agricultural duties with diligence and good cheer. Even the sheep love Kara now and follow her whenever they see her.
Lena can’t figure out how to put half of their appliances back together after taking them apart and she hates the taste of most of their food packs, even when Kara tries her best to make them more palatable to the underdeveloped tastebuds of a 21st century woman.
Lena is the one messing up the bots’ functions (though by now she does not regret it. She can’t. Not with the delighted way Kara constantly smiles at them).
Lena is the one who feels restless and bored and she hates leaving the house because they live in the freaking desert now and Lena burns easily.
So yeah, Lena is a bit envious of Kara’s adaptability.
“I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it Lena,” Kara says, shaking her head to dislodge the pieces of plaster stuck to her hair.
Lena stares at the blonde incredulously.
“...I blew a hole on our wall. Look at it! It's huge!”
“Hole diameter: 1.2 meters. Or is it preferable to calculate in the imperial system of measurement, Miss Kara?”
“Metric is good,” Kara assures SP, bending at the waist so she can brush some plaster from its top. “And I’ll have it fixed in a jiffy!” she tells Lena brightly. “So don’t worry, ok.”
Lena stares at Kara’s bright smile and dust whitened hair and soft coveralls and she just… cracks.
“How is this so easy for you?” she cries out, eyes burning as tears threaten to make an appearance.
“Whoa,” Kara is quick to reach for Lena, but Lena bats her hands away, too- too- too angry to take comfort in the gesture.
Kara is quick to withdraw, concern practically radiating from her.
“Lena- what- hey, what's wrong?” she asks, looking helplessly at Lena.
“It’s just- you’re perfect as usual, and I’m just,” Lena grasps for the words that might be able to express the tangle of feelings tightening uncomfortably in her chest. “I’m just blowing things up! And I just feel so fucking useless and I hate it so so much.”
Lena rubs her face roughly, trying to keep the tears at bay.
“Lena, look at me,” Kara pleads but Lena just presses the heels of her palms more tightly over her eyes. “Hey, look at me. Lena…”
Warm fingers hold Lena’s wrists and begin to rub small circles on the back of her hands.
Any other time the gesture would have instantly calmed her down. Now, Lena refuses to budge.
“Have I ever told you about when I first lived with the Danvers?” Kara asks, undeterred by the lack of eye contact. “All I wanted to do was help people and I hated that I had all these powers that could make such a difference and still, I wasn’t allowed to use them.”
Lena remains quiet, still trying to temper the stupid tears that insist on reappearing.
“I mean… I had other reasons to be angry, obviously. I was the single other survivor of a planet-wide extinction event. The science and technology of earth was basically pre-K levels for me so school sucked. I was moody and weird and didn’t understand pop culture or anything so I had no friends. And everything was just so damn loud.
But, what I’m trying to say is that… I had to learn to adapt once. To let go of the things I wanted to do in favor of the safety and well-being of myself and those around me. But, in the end? I think things worked out pretty well.”
Am I just meant to accept this as my new normal? Lena thinks incredulously. Angrily. Am I just meant to languish in this fucking farm and hope things fucking work out?
“And look,” Kara continues, oblivious to the rage creeping up Lena’s spine. “I get what you’re feeling. I really do. I’m sure that there’s someone in need of saving somewhere in this new future of ours and it kills me a little that I’m not allowed to help.
But I also know that time is dangerous. This may be our future, but it’s someone’s past. And if I go out there and do something, I might be compromising a future I have no business influencing.”
“That,” Lena pushes her hands away from her face, dislodging Kara’s grip, “makes absolutely no sense. And it sounds completely unlike you! Not helping someone because you don’t want to change the future? If you work by that logic then every time you help someone in 2017 you change how 2499 looks too!” she shouts.
“It doesn’t work that way Lena,” Kara says, holding her arms to her chest, expression lost.
It just incenses Lena further.
“It doesn’t work that way?” she asks, incredulous. “Why not? How would you even know? You know what I think? I think this is just an excuse for you. The perfect excuse to retire to a farm because you’re done. Awfully cowardly of you, Supergirl. Do you even care if we return to our time?”
Kara just stands there, jaw clenched but eyes soft with some kind of stupid sympathy that Lena does not fucking want.
“If it were Alex here,” Lena continues, furious, even as a part of her realizes that she's about to cross a line. “If it were Alex here, she’d never have rolled over for those PPA pricks so easily. She’d kill herself trying to get back to you. What does it say about how much you love her? That you’re not even willing to try?”
In the blink of an eye, Kara disappears from the kitchen.
Lena stares blankly at the stupid hole that started it all, already done with this awful no-good day.
“Where did Miss Kara go Miss Luthor?” SP asks.
“Don’t worry about it SP.”
“But, Miss Kara promised to show how to-”
“Please, SP. Just- just leave for a minute.”
“Very well Miss Luthor,” SP says, rolling out of the kitchen.
Leaving Lena behind to wallow in regrets. As usual.
“It was cruel. What you said.”
Kara’s eyes look red-rimmed and her face has the slight swolleness Lena always attributes to a very long crying jag. The guilt deep in her gut intensifies.
“Alex means the world to me. She’s my home and I miss her more than I miss anything else,” the blonde says, face twisting in sadness and frustration.
“I,” Lena swallows roughly, regret burning in the back of her throat. “I know Kara. And I’m so sorry for what I said. I know how much you love your sister. And I know you wouldn’t just let people suffer for no reason. I- I was out of line.”
Kara’s shoulders, which had been hiked up to her ears, loosen at the apology.
“Yeah, well,” she says, hesitantly. “To be fair, you weren’t totally off the mark.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was so tired Lena,” Kara looks to the side, a flash of shame crossing her features. “When we got here… I had been so tired for so long I wasn’t sure- I wasn’t sure if I even knew how to feel otherwise. So yes, being here, in this farm, has been… restorative. I think I had forgotten what it felt like to do silly things just for me y’know?”
Lena nods. She does know how duty and responsibility have a way of making one push their own interests aside.
“That doesn’t mean I’ve given up though,” Kara continues, now facing Lena again. “And it hurt that you’d think I would.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean what I said.”
“Then why did you say it?” Kara asks, frustration coloring her tone.
“I- I was angry,” Lena admits. “I am angry. These circumstances, they’re not ideal.”
Kara stares at Lena in a considering manner for so long she can’t help but fidget. With a nod, mind apparently made up, Kara walks further into the bedroom, sitting gingerly next to Lena on their bed.
“Krypton had a Time Travel Corps y’know,” Kara says, leaning a bit into Lena. “They were a group of Science Guild scholars trained by the Military Guild. Their purpose was to travel to important time periods and observe and record. It was a way to catalogue the planet’s history without the biases that old record-keepers and scholars attached to their works.”
“What- uhm. What happened? Did they succeed?”
Kara laughs. It's not really a happy laugh.
“Not at all. Time isn’t really like space. You humans still haven’t discovered the physics involved, but the basics of it is that there are more dimensions involved in the perception of time than you’d think.”
“I gather your Time Corps didn’t know that,” Lena guesses.
“Oh no,” Kara shakes her head, “they did. The science was well established by then. No they just committed a worse folly: they believed themselves smart enough to Travel without consequence.”
They sit in silence for a bit, Kara stuck in her thoughts and Lena stuck on Kara’s profile, on the downward slope of her mouth, on the tightness of the skin around her eye.
“What happened?” Lena whispers, trying to be gentle.
“Consequences,” Kara says, after a lengthy pause. “They began noticing changes in the archives that hadn’t been there before. The Founding Wars suddenly had gone for years more than they had originally lasted, whole Houses were wiped from existence, at some point they had caused Krypton to convince the rest of the Sector to pull out from Lantern jurisdiction.”
“And that was... bad? That sounds bad,” Lena admits.
“Oh it was bad. Sometimes I wonder- if we hadn’t cut away from the Lanterns, whether we might have…” Kara trails off, expression haunted. “I guess it doesn’t matter now. Fanciful dreams. Anyways, the Council got wind of the discrepancies, even if they themselves didn’t remember them, and ordered the Corps to fix it.”
“I’m guessing they didn’t?”
“That’s an understatement. The Corps Travelled to the future, hoping to gather extra technology that could help them reset the timeline. They found what they wanted, saved a couple hundred thousand people in the process by deescalating the tensions between Krypton and Daxam before the deployed armies started fighting, then went back to their time. Ultimately, they couldn’t reset the timeline and the Council just resigned itself to the changes and disbanded the Corps.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Lena ventures cautiously. Kara turns and smiles at Lena, small and sad. Giving in to impulse, Lena takes Kara’s hand, twining their fingers together and squeezing as a show of… sympathy. Maybe. Support, hopefully.
“Yeah well, a few centuries after the Krypton-Daxam Standstill, scholars began to notice a discrepancy in their records. Apparently, in the original timeline, the Standstill really did turn into an actual war,” Kara says, tightening her hold on Lena’s hand to something surer. Stronger.
“So they stopped a war. Shouldn’t that be a good thing?”
“Not when the war had been engineered by Fourth World beings. When they saw that their war had been prevented even though, for them, it had already happened, they got curious and started to pay more attention to Krypton. To the extent that they found the planet a great target for colonization.”
“Yeah. The beings, known as New Gods, mounted an invasion of the Sector, decimating planets, causing the extinction of an entire galaxy and its people. There was so much violence, and the New Gods, they seemed unstoppable. In the end, it took years of battle before the Science Guild was able to invent the technology that would banish Doomsday and his troops back to Apokolips.”
“What,” Lena’s voice is hoarse. She clears her throat. “What happened after?”
“Krypton tried to rebuild. The Council banned time travel of any kind. We were so ashamed of our ancestor’s actions that we retreated from the rest of the universe and shackled ourselves to our planet. It took decades before we were willing to send out anyone off-world. By the time I was born, we still only really had three diplomats stationed elsewhere. And that’s only because Daxam, Starhaven, and Sedenach were too important as trade partners to snub them by sending droids.”
Kara hunches closer to Lena.
“That’s how I know, that other than Kal and I, there are no more Kryptonians in the universe. We’re the last Lena. And only I remember and it’s all because some idiot scientist thought time was something he could play with. So yeah. I’m fine with staying on a stupid farm in the middle of nowhere. I hate it but I’d rather be bored and restless than mess with time and risk Alex’s life or Earth’s future.
I can’t lose another home Lena.”
That night, Lena holds Kara tightly.
By September, they have a comfortable routine down:
Kara wakes up early, makes breakfast then heads out with half the bots to start the long list of chores required to keep the farm running.
Lena wakes hours later, heats up the breakfast and coffee Kara made earlier and then heads down to her workshop to tinker on the farm tech with the other two bots.
Kara returns to the house to whip up a quick lunch. She always leaves something at the end of Lena's workbench, for when she can manage to rip herself away from whatever she's working long enough to realize she's hungry.
They reunite for dinner, where they talk about their days and their projects whilst Kara cooks and Lena cleans.
After dinner they will wash themselves up before moving to the bedroom, where they get into whatever Lisa has sent in her newest package: books, films, games, they get absorbed quickly into whatever glimpse of the outside world the PPA deigns to provide them with.
And if Lena is more gentle with Kara. Well, they don’t mention it. Just like they don’t speak of the constant barrage of little tasks and puzzles that Kara thinks up and leaves behind for Lena to solve.
Slowly, they get used to this quiet tranquil life they’ve made for themselves.
(Lena doesn’t dare wish for anything more)
“Hey Lisa, I’ve got a question.”
“Oh dear. Can’t promise an answer but shoot.”
“Stargirl… is she a descendant?”
“C’mon please. I’ve got a week’s worth of dish duty riding on the line here.”
“What does Kara think?”
“She’s leaning towards modified clone.”
“Technically, you’re both right. Stargirl is a descendant of a modified clone.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Ugh, fine. I can work with a tie.”
“Oh no, I think I’ve answered enough.”
“No c’mon c’mon. We’ve been wondering… any relation to a Maggie Sawyer? Or coincidence?”
“Goodbye Lena. Give Kara my love.”
“Fine fine. Bye Liz.”
“When you guys send us back… can Pedro keep the bots?”
“Uh, I’d have to ask. Why?”
“It’s just, we want- someone should-”
“SP learns the slowest ok. SP learns the slowest but tries the hardest and Soyu has trouble with grip calculations but we’re working on it. It’s getting better, really. And Curie speaks the least but needs the least direction, which makes us really proud but it also means we have to remind them that it’s ok to need instructions. And- and Ort asks so many questions all the time and is so curious and they like to sing when they do their chores and they love it when Kara oils their hinges and- just, Pedro is the one who knows them best after us and, if you’ll let him, he’ll take care of them.”
“I will. And if they say no, I’ll just smuggle them and Pedro to Mexico if I have to ok? I swear.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Mexico still exists?”
“I’m hanging up now.”
“What do you need Lena?”
“The sheep need shearing and Kara broke the wool table.”
“By which you mean the sheep need shearing and you broke the wool table.”
“I plead the fifth.”
“The fifth what?”
“The fifth amendment?”
“The right to move across borders without undue interrogation?”
“…no? The right against self-incrimination?”
“That’s a right?”
“Not anymore, apparently.”
“I mean, does it need to be? Isn’t that just kind of common sense?”
“…you’d be surprised.”
“How come Kara never answers the phone? Does she- does she not like me?”
“Oh. No, she likes you a lot. Really.”
“Yeah, she thinks you’re amazing and always compliments your taste in books.”
“Kara and time travel… there’s a lot of history there. She’s a little terrified of messing with time.”
“Sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Why should you? But really though. Don’t take it personally. Even with Pedro, she mostly keeps the conversation to the bots and our projects. She prefers to leave the room if we start discussing anything else.”
“Oh, wow. That must be some history.”
“You have no idea.”
“I don’t like it when you ‘hey Lisa’ me. It’s always followed by baffling conversational tangents.”
“Do cats still exist?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“I think we might have a mice problem in the barn.”
“…I’ll send someone over.”
“…so was that a no on the cat? Or a no they don’t exist?”
“That was a No on the cat.”
“Kara will be disappointed.”
“Uh-huh. I’m sure Kara will get over it.”
“What’s 2017 like?
“Oh, so you get to ask all the questions huh?”
“Sorry not sorry.”
“No but, really. Do you miss it?”
“Yes, of course I do. Our life is there. Our chosen jobs, our favorite restaurants and our favorite views. Our family.”
“We’re working hard on our end Lena, I promise.”
“I believe you. Just… don’t take too long.”
“It’s not a device,” Kara breathes out in the middle of a cold December night.
“What?” mumbles Lena, buried underneath the covers somewhere to Kara’s right, still half asleep.
“Lena! It’s not a device!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Lena admits, blearily looking up at a sitting Kara.
“The thing that sent us here?” at Lena’s confused look, Kara tries to explain. “It’s not- I know where to find it.”
“There’s these creatures,” Kara makes a face. “I guess the best translation is space whales?”
“Whales in space?”
“No, that’s just the best translation. These things don’t move through space the same way you or I do and I’m only calling it a whale because it kind of looks like a blue whale. If it were, like, fifty times larger. And blind. And subsisting on cosmic dust instead of krill.”
Lena’s tenuous grip on Kara’s thought process slips. She’s totally lost.
“Ok, so,” Kara falls back onto the mattress, turning right so that she can face Lena, practically nose-to-nose. “These space whales… they’re dimensionless.”
What? Lena thinks.
“What?” Lena asks, because sometime in the last few months, she actually became the kind of person that verbalizes her thoughts and feelings instead of internalizing them.
(Lillian would be horrified.)
“Dimensionless," Kara repeats. "They’re dimensionless in that they can exist in any dimension, sometimes in all of them and sometimes in just one of them but they exist still, somehow.”
“And they’re… in space,” Lena reiterates slowly, still utterly confused but willing to play along.
“Usually. Because they eat cosmic dust,” Kara repeats, voice all matter-of-fact.
“Riiiight. So how is the device related to all of this?”
“The device isn’t a device. Something about it kept niggling at me and I couldn’t remember what it was until right now because I remembered that space whales- they hatch from eggs!”
“The device that sent us to the future is an egg?”
“Yes! A baby! And when you touched it, it got scared so it Hopped!”
“Yeah! Y’know,” Kara does a weird wriggly motion with her fingers, “it Hopped. It bent a dimensional plane in order to cross from one place to another.”
“I thought you said it was a whale egg?” Lena asks, helplessly confused again.
“Yeah! A whale egg baby!”
“Ok. Let’s go with that,” Lena says, resigning herself to this conversation. “How can a whale hop though? They swim.”
“Lenaaaa,” Kara whines. “It’s not actually a whale. It just looks like a whale.”
“Obviously. Sorry, dear that was silly of me to presume. Ok. So... space whale.”
“Space whale,” Kara repeats, firmly.
“A space whale probably should have its babies in space, right?”
“No no, the babies need to be grown in a place with atmosphere so that gravity can hold them together long enough for them to learn how to do it on their own.”
“…of course. That makes total sense. So then how will we find a scared space whale egg baby?”
“We look for it in the place that most reminds them of their mother.”
“And where is that?”
Kara sighs, looking a little exasperated with Lena’s uncharacteristic slowness.
“The ocean Lena.”
“Ah. Right. Because it’s a whale but not a whale.”
Lena sighs then pushes the covers away, reluctantly thinking about what needs to be done.
“I have to call Lisa,” she mutters absently. “But you’re the one who has to explain it to her. Honestly, I don’t think I caught half of what you said darling.”
Kara beams, then she leans across the small distance between them and presses a gentle kiss to Lena’s lips.
Lena is shocked for less than a moment before she melts into the kiss, lifting a hand to stroke Kara’s cheek.
Suffice to say, they don’t leave their bed any time soon.
Over the landline, Kara explains her theory whilst Lena sips coffee slowly.
“Lena,” Kara whispers.
“Lisa wants to speak with you.”
Kara carefully replaces the coffee cupped between Lena’s hands with the phone receiver.
“Sooo… we just have to look in the ocean for a device that really is a baby-egg hybrid of some sort of monolithic space creature that just happens to look like a whale? The creature, not the egg-baby.”
“Alright I’ll bite. How are we supposed to find the thing? The ocean is huge. Need I remind you that Earth is more ocean than land.”
“So global warming hasn’t boiled the oceans yet? Cool.”
“We don’t have to look in the entire ocean. Kara says we just have to go to it’s deepest, darkest point.”
“And how do you propose we do that?”
“What, you haven’t explored the oceans yet? This century just disappoints more and more.”
“Shut up Luthor. I forget how grouchy you get this late. Put me on speaker.”
“So Kara, do you have any suggestions?”
“Well, we can just ask the Director to let us borrow her spaceship.”
Lena perks up, over the line, Lisa sputters.
“I mean, no offense Lisa but… she’s called Stargirl. She obviously has a spaceship.”
“…how long have you known?”
“Since the first day, when you looked at her for answers on what we should do next.”
“Damn Danvers. You’re good. I’ll talk to her.”
“Did you really know since then?”
“Pfft of course not.”
“Oh my god. Kara Danvers, did you bluff your way into discovering the identity of a secret agency’s director?”
“Lena… Kettle. Meet pot.”
“How will you recover the,” Stargirl’s voice doesn’t even waver, “egg from within the shuttle?”
“Then what will you do?”
“Sing a little so it calms down then politely ask to be sent back.”
Lena leans against Kara’s warm back as they wait for Stargirl to say something.
“I think they find that a little hard to believe, dear,” Lena admits when over a minute has passed without a word from the other end of the line.
“Well, you did call it an egg.”
“It is. Just because it hasn't hatched doesn't mean it's not sentient.”
“Of course,” Lena says, pressing a fond kiss to the point between Kara’s shoulderblades. “Please forgive our human ignorance.”
Kara and Lena cry when they say goodbye to the bots.
Pedro solemnly promises to take care of them until he dies.
Lisa cries and hugs them for an entire minute before they get into the shuttle.
Stargirl just nods at them.
(They'll take it)
Deep in the ocean, at a point where Lena can't see anything outside the shuttle, Kara begins to sing.
There are no lyrics.
Just a sweet swelling tune that makes Lena think of love and safety and Kara.
The egg hums back.
Some beginnings starts like this:
They go home.