“Have I ever told you about Krypton?”
Lena’s caught off guard by the question. She stands on the balcony, the soft autumn breeze light against her skin. Supergirl leans against the railing beside her, staring at the city sprawled out beneath them. There’s a softness in her voice, a yearning to share that Lena’s never heard before.
“You haven’t,” she answers.
“It was amazing,” she sighs. “It was beautiful and peaceful and… God, it was wonderful. My friends and I would race through the streets and people would always just seem so happy. And the technology, god, the technology. Your inventions are impressive, Lena, but compared to Krypton they’re basically a telegraph.”
Lena laughs, and Supergirl joins her briefly.
“The buildings were… I mean, when Rao’s light hit them just right, it was like living in a kaleidoscope. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places on this planet, but nothing will ever take my breath away quite like Argo City at sunset.”
“I wish I could’ve seen it,” Lena says earnestly. She reaches over, and places her hand over Supergirl’s, trying to offer some sort of comfort for a lifelong wound.
Supergirl smiles sadly. “I wish I could’ve shown you.” Lena can see tears welling in her eyes, a mournful gleam for the place she so loved.
“It’s funny,” she says, “how you can miss a place you never really knew.”
Lena doesn’t respond. She waits in the silence that rests between them, until Supergirl is ready to continue speaking.
“I was twelve when I left, and then I spent a couple of decades floating through space and now I’ve been on this planet for longer than I was ever on Krypton and I realise that there were things I never knew, things I never will know.”
She hangs her head, and Lena can hear the soft sniffled cries, she watches the hero break in front of her for the very first time. And then, just as suddenly, she snaps her head up, and wipes her eyes.
“I’ve got to go,” Supergirl says, “duty calls.”
“Stay safe,” is all Lena can say.
Supergirl smiles, and it shines brightly in the night despite the pain Lena knows she holds in her heart.
And then she’s gone again and Lena is alone, feeling her heart swell and fill with the new information about her friend.
It becomes routine.
Lena notices it comes after hard days, days when her news alerts are filled with Supergirl headlines and breaking reports. It happens on days when her eyes are weary and she carries a tiredness on her shoulders that Lena wishes she could take from her.
It’s on the hardest days that Lena finds Supergirl knocking on her balcony door with the promise of new stories, new facts, new puzzle pieces in the ever evolving tapestry of Supergirl’s past.
Some days it’s quick, just a taste of who she used to be on Krypton.
“My father cried the day I was accepted into the Science Guild. Usually, my Aunt Astra would laugh at him, but she was crying, too.”
“My mother’s eyes were brilliantly green. My father grew a genetically modified version of her favorite flowers, the exact color of her eyes.”
Some days, Lena knew exactly how she felt.
“I miss my mom more than anything. What I’d give to hug her one more time, to tell her I loved her just once, now. What I’d give to hear her laugh; I can barely remember what her voice sounds like, sometimes.”
“But what about the AI simulation?” Lena asks, remembering a previous conversation they’d had.
“It’s not the same,” Supergirl shrugs. “I guess it’s like watching a video of someone you miss. It’s just an echo of what you had, it’s not the real thing.”
Lena thinks to the folders on her laptop filled with photos and videos of her father, and knows they hold the same grief.
“What do you miss about your dad?” Lena prompts.
“I miss the way he smelled the most,” Supergirl says. “His cologne, I’ve yet to find the same smell on Earth. But every so often I get this whiff of something so close to what it was and then I feel like I’m curled up on his side of the bed, waiting for him to come home again.”
“I never knew my real mom,” Lena shares, “now I think that it’s sort of a blessing.”
“I remember when I saw the AI for the first time. I sat in the room with it for an hour and then just went to the bathroom and cried and cried and cried. I felt like I was twelve again, being sent to a different planet with no warning and with nobody. And then when I saw Astra… I knew it was impossible, but for a second I thought somehow my mom had survived. And that feeling, for a fraction of a second, it was the happiest I’d ever been on Earth.”
With the moments she’s privy to, Lena’s picture of Supergirl changes, from a fierce hero hellbent on protecting humanity, to a woman not much older than she is, a girl who lost everything she ever knew, a refugee forced from her home and into a new one.
Lena begins to leave the balcony door unlocked.
“Do you believe in God, Lena?” Supergirl asks as she lies on Lena’s couch. It’s late, and they’re the only ones left in the building. Her red boots have been kicked off - as per Lena’s warnings about getting the white couch dirty - and Lena’s never seen her this relaxed. Which is why the question catches her off guard.
“I believe in science,” Lena answers after a beat. Supergirl laughs softly. “Why’s that funny?”
“It’s just such an earth answer,” Supergirl says. “The need to separate science from belief.”
“So I guess things were different on Krypton?” Lena asks, raising an eyebrow.
“Well I mean, firstly, we were eons ahead of y’all in terms of scientific progress.”
Lena rolls her eyes playfully. “I get it already, jeez.”
“Well it’s true,” Supergirl laughs. “We were a science based society, but we also had religion, we had a god.”
“Rao,” Lena supplies.
“Exactly. And we prayed just as much as we studied. They were never opposing fields of thought, they were just the way we lived.”
“You miss it.” It’s not a question.
“One of the laws of prayer was that it was best done in a group setting. It was a communal affair, like going to synagogue or church or whatever. You can pray alone, but it’s never as fulfilling as doing it with others by your side. I miss going to the temple of Rao near my home. I miss the ritual, the peacefulness.”
“Did you have a favorite scripture, or something similar?” Lena asks. She never tired of hearing about Krypton; it was almost a fantasy in her head, an almost-myth she knew was real but one she’d never get to experience. Supergirl sits up a little straighter.
“ For no person shall rise above the other when all are happy; those who find equality find peace. One of my teachers would say that constantly, and it’s one of those things I find just always playing over in my head. Nobody is inherently better than somebody else and everybody deserves to be safe and at peace and that’s what I think I’m fighting for here.”
Lena hesitates, just for a moment.
“What?” Supergirl asks. “What is it?”
“I don’t wanna start a whole thing but…”
“You think some people are better than others?”
“No, I… Do you agree that in order to achieve equality, you need to sanction the powerful, at least somewhat?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“We shouldn’t treat those with power like they’re special.”
“So the powerful one percent should be taxed fairly.”
Lena hesitates again. “And those with physical powers should also be monitored,” she says carefully.
“This is about the kryptonite again,” Supergirl says after a moment.
“I don’t want to fight, I’m just trying to understand. You’re objectively better than everyone else. You’re faster and stronger--”
“And that’s exactly why I don’t want people creating kryptonite!”
“But that makes no sense, the kryptonite is an insurance policy. You just said that all people are equal. Ideologically, don’t you think that you being indestructible makes you above the equality you’re fighting for?”
Supergirl calmly stands, and walks to Lena’s sidebar. She pours two drinks, the clinking glass echoing throughout the silent room. She hands a glass to Lena, before gently sipping her own.
“Two years ago, Maxwell Lord genetically altered kryptonite and subjected me to it. It… it changed me. I became cruel. I said every mean, hurtful thought I’d ever had outloud. I hurt my friends, I hurt… I hurt my family.” She takes a breath, trying to stop the wave of emotions that threatens to pull her under.
Lena reaches out across the desk, and rests her hand atop of Supergirl’s. “You don’t have to tell me, you don’t owe me anything.”
“I know,” she smiles sadly. “But I want to. I became the worst version of myself I could imagine. I hurt Alex, I physically hurt her, something I still haven’t forgiven myself for. I still think about the things I did and said under the influence of that kryptonite... “
Supergirl looks up, and catches Lena’s eye.
“I don’t care about the fact it can hurt me; I know the government’s got a tonne of it hidden away somewhere just in case,” she tells Lena. “I’m scared that… I’m scared that something’s gonna go wrong with whatever artificial alternative you or anyone else comes up with and I’ll end up where I was last time. And I can’t wake up like that, not again.”
Lena wipes away the few tears that pool in her eyes. She sees the person sitting in front of her, broken and ashamed, and she wants nothing more than to hold her and to love her with every ounce of strength she has.
“I promise,” Lena says, “no more experiments with kryptonite. You have my word.”
“I know you were doing it to help Sam,” Supergirl says. “I know you were trying to help.”
“It doesn’t matter. No more.”
She means it.
Supergirl walks to the balcony door, and pushes it open with a sigh.
“Duty calls,” she says.
“Fly safely,” Lena replies.
And then she’s gone and Lena’s alone. And all she knows is that she thinks she may be falling in love with Supergirl. Supergirl, who hides her pain from everybody but Lena, who is thoughtful and compassionate and more self-aware than even Lena.
She’s falling in love, and she just hopes Supergirl can catch her.
Lena’s spiralling. She’s locked herself in her apartment and she’s halfway through a very expensive bottle of scotch.
She misses the small thud of a landing and the back door sliding open.
“Jesus Christ!” she yells when she spots Supergirl walking towards her. “What’re you doing here?”
“I flew by the office, and Jess told me you weren’t doing too well.”
Lena laughs humorlessly, draining the scotch in her glass.
“Just another day when my mother tries to commit genocide and kill me, too.”
“I’m sorry,” Supergirl says.
“I just want to forget about it.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Tell me something about your parents. It’s comforting hearing about parents who aren’t colossal fuck ups.”
Supergirl laughs. “That’s what you think?”
“Your parents were loving people who used their last moments alive saving your life.”
“My mother used me as a pawn to arrest her own sister for doing what she didn’t have the guts to do.”
“I… I don’t follow,” Lena frowns.
“My mother stood by while Kryptonians drained our planet of its resources, and she imprisoned the people fighting to save us. My aunt Astra, she was one of the ones fighting to save our resources, to save the planet. And my mom… she used me. She used me to arrest her and I didn’t even realise. And then, she let our planet die, she launched me into space, sent me on my own.”
“That’s harsh,” Lena says, downing the last of her scotch before pouring more.
Supergirl laughs again. “Tell me about it.”
“I’m sick….” Lena sighs sadly. “I’m so sick of giving her second chances.”
“I know,” Supergirl says, smiling sadly. “But loving your mother, wanting your mother to love you, it’s understandable.”
“Is it, though?? I’m so sick of it, of chasing some warped form of approval from a woman who’s fucking evil.”
“I know, baby,” Supergirl says, running a soothing hand on her back. “I know.”
“Did you just… call me baby?” Lena asks, her words slightly slurred and her breath heavy with scotch.
“Yeah, I think I did.”
“Do you… do you like me?”
Supergirl hesitates. “I... I have strong feelings for you, Lena; you see the real me, and I like that.”
“I think I’m falling in love with you,” Lena whispers, a drunken secret hanging between them in the warm night air. “I’m falling in love with you and I don’t even know your real name.”
Supergirl stands up, and lies Lena down on the couch. She moves the bottle of scotch out of her reach, and gently brushes the hair from Lena’s face.
“My last name is Zor El,” she whispers. “It was my father’s name. We were of the House of El and this is our family crest.” She takes Lena’s hand and touches it to the symbol embossed on her chest.
“What does it mean?”
“El Mayarah,” she says, “Stronger together.”
“What’s your first name, Ms. Zor El?” Lena asks. Her eyes droop closed slowly, heavy from the alcohol and emotion. Supergirl doesn’t answer. Instead, she presses a kiss to Lena’s forehead.
“You make me want to be brave,” Supergirl whispers to sleepy ears. She stands, and walks to the balcony door. “Sweet dreams, Lena.”
Lena dreams of red capes and blonde hair and eyes bluer than a cloudless sky.
And she dreams of the House of El crest and of the woman who’s stolen her heart.
“What do you think of the Danvers sisters?” Lena asks. Supergirl sits in the chair across from her and they’re eating chinese food and every time Lena looks up she feels her heart skip a beat.
She misses the way Supergirl chokes on her food.
“The Danvers sisters?”
“Yeah. You work with Alex at the DEO, right? And I know you’re acquainted with Kara.”
“Well, I only know Kara in a professional capacity from Catco,” she says with an amused smile, “but she seems great.”
“Why do you ask?”
“Alex is… we’ve become very close, working at the DEO together. She’s almost like a sister to me. She’s made it less lonely here on Earth.”
Lena can sense that she’s holding something back. She’s spent enough time with Supergirl to know when there’s more she wants to say, when there’s something she needs to get off her chest.
“What aren’t you telling me?” Lena asks her. “I can see it in your eyes.”
Supergirl blushes. “So stop looking in my eyes.”
“You know you can tell me anything, right?” The weight of her words is lost on Lena.
“Alex killed Astra,” Supergirl finally says.
“I forgave her, long ago. But on my worst days, on the days where I’m too tired to be forgiving, I just think of what she took from me.”
“Wasn’t your aunt a criminal?”
“There was good left in her. She loved me. She practically helped raise me.”
“Well then I don’t know how you could forgive Alex for taking her from you.”
“Like I said, Alex has done a lot for me while I’ve been here. I can’t afford to hold grudges against the people I love, there aren’t enough of them left.”
They continue eating in silence, until --
“You know,” Supergirl says slowly, carefully, “you’re one of the people who make my life here less lonely. I’m glad I have you in my life.”
“I’m glad to be in it,” Lena smiles. “El Mayarah.”
Supergirl laughs, a spark of something in her eyes. “El Mayarah.”
It’s early morning, dawn breaks over the horizon and Lena rubs her blurry eyes after another all-nighter in the office. She stretches silently, deciding if it’s worth it to go home and change before coming in to begin the new workday.
She doesn’t expect Supergirl to land with a soft thud. She doesn’t expect her to crumple on the balcony, fall to the ground in a heap. She doesn’t expect the worry and concern that immediately overwhelms her.
“Supergirl, what’s wrong?” she says as she rushes to her side.
Supergirl doesn’t answer, she just stays huddled on the ground. But when Lena goes to stand up and call for help, Supergirl grabs her wrist.
“No,” she rasps, “don’t leave me.”
“I won’t,” Lena replies. She rubs soothing circles over Supergirl’s cape. It feels like an intimate moment between the two of them, but more than that, it feels normal.
And once Supergirl’s breathing evens out, Lena helps her to her feet and leads her to the couch inside.
“What happened?” is all she asks.
Supergirl takes a deep breath. She exhales shakily.
“There was an explosion at a factory and--” her voice catches.
“You can tell me. You’re safe here, you’re okay.”
“I remember seeing Krypton explode,” Supergirl whispers. “I’ve never told anybody this before, but I remember everything. I saw it rumble and crack, even from far away, and then the light was blinding and it was so hot and… I left the factory and every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was Krypton, exploding. Again and again and again.”
Silence engulfs them and for a moment neither move. They sit, and together, in the quiet, they mourn.
“Can I tell you something?” Lena asks. Supergirl nods.
“You are the strongest person I know.”
“But you are. Not just because you have superhuman abilities and fight crime. You’re this compassionate, resilient, incredible person who manages, every single day, to rise above everything. You rise above the pain and the loss and you strive to make this world better. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it, I don’t think most people could.”
“But I don’t feel strong. I just feel… I don’t know.”
“El Mayarah,” Lena says softly. “You’re strong because you let the people around you in and you love them fiercely, and you better their lives. And in return, on days like this, we do our best to help you.”
Lena pulls Supergirl in, holding the hero in her arms. She holds her as tightly as she can and she can feel Supergirl’s heart beat against her own. And she loves her. Fiercely, she loves her. This person whose name she doesn’t even know. All Lena knows is that her love engulfs her, it grows like tendrils that stretch and wrap around her being, alive and beautiful.
Supergirl sits up slowly, resting her hand on Lena’s thigh.
“Every day, I have to make the choice to be good. I make the choice to try and be a source of good. But I swear, it’s getting harder. I’m just… I’m so angry and I’m sad and it’s getting so hard to be me.”
“I know, baby,” Lena echoes. “I know.” She rests her forehead against Supergirl’s. She can feel the heat of her tears and exhaustion, she can feel her tremble under the stress of her life.
And Lena tries as best she can to let Supergirl know that everything’s going to be okay.
A knock at the door interrupts Lena’s work, but she smiles when she sees who’s standing there.
“Kara, what a lovely surprise!”
Kara steps into the room, adjusting her glasses. She holds a vase in her other hand, filled with green orchids in full bloom.
“I thought I’d drop by,” Kara says. “I brought you these.”
“They’re beautiful,” Lena says taking them from her.
Kara hesitates, and Lena watches her carefully. She seems nervous, on edge, and Lena doesn’t know why.
Lena turns from Kara and puts the flowers on her sideboard, pretending to fiddle with them. She knows she needs to give Kara some space, she knows she’ll speak when she’s ready.
“They - they’re not genetically modified like my father used to do, but they’re the closest shade to your eyes that I could find.”
It had been deliberate, a small fact she knew Lena would remember.
And everything falls into place, everything fits together.
She turns around slowly to face Kara once more.
And she stands there, with her fidgeting hands and her glasses askew and her hair tucked behind her ears haphazardly.
Kara Zor El.
Lena's green eyes find Kara’s blue, and she feels her heart swell and stop and start again. Supergirl is her Kara, and Kara is her Supergirl. Kara Danvers is Kara Zor El.
But all of that falls away. Gone is the alter ego and gone are the secrets. What remains are the moments they’ve shared together, whispers under the moonlight of their love and pain and sorrow. What remains is the glowing feeling that projects from both of their hearts, the feeling of kismet that drew them together in the first place. What remains is the beautiful, smart, compassionate woman with whom Lena has fallen in love.
It's Kara. Just Kara.
Lena takes a step forward and her hand finds Kara’s and their eyes never leave the other’s.
The universe melts away, and it’s just the two of them, standing together, on the precipice of something familiar and yet wholly new.
It’s Lena and it’s Kara and they’re together.
Just as they were always meant to be.