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being mere darkness

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O night in which the stars feign light, O night that alone is the size of the Universe, make me, body and soul, part of your body, so that—being mere darkness—I’ll lose myself and become night as well, without any dreams as stars within me, nor a hoped-for sun shining with the future.

-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

***

 

Lena is a scientist.

It’s in her bones and every weave of her soul. She understood the Pythagorean theorem at 7 years old and was dabbling in full-scale Trig at 11. She’d built a car from scratch at 16. Lex taught her chemistry with a textbook under the covers and later with the stench of singed clothes and volatile acids in the garage. Everything has an explanation, he’d always said to her. Everything can be taken apart. Everything can be learned.

Chess fascinated her because of its many, many angles and it taught her that every move has a countermove—every. Move. Everything, like Lex said. She let Lex beat her until she was familiar with every possibility. Lex kept winning until he literally couldn’t.

Even when it became clear that Lillian would never love her, all she did was learn all the ways that made Lillian tick, what made her angry, sad, the things that made her dislike Lena a little less. This is how Lena knows to function in a world she would otherwise lose to: by learning, by taking things apart to know how they work, how they break, how their pieces fit together under the sleek sheen of their casings. In a world that seems to go through such lengths to break one’s will, Lena knows to always be prepared—if only Lex thought the same, he wouldn’t have ended up where he is.

If only he considered the possibility of and prepared for a world that would be so welcoming of aliens, gods from the cosmos that always made him say to Lena we are capable of so much more, can you imagine it? Made his eyes light up with that insatiable Luthor appetite to know, to own, to control. To want to dissect Superman down to his very marrow and go oh, so this is what makes you so strong.

Knowledge is power. To know the cogs and gears is to know everything. To know everything is to be prepared. Moves, countermoves.

It’s with that in mind that Lena kept a piece of the Harun-El for herself. Supergirl had given it to her to be synthesized, for Argo and for her mother. A crisp black rock like a chunk of meteor left to cool, heavy to Lena, harmful to Supergirl, instrumental to the salvation of Sam. It was blades and blades of iridescent black under Lena’s microscope and the sensation of a quiet thrumming power on her palm. What kind of scientist would she be if she let so large a potential resource just… go?

She made her own kryptonite. It demonized her to the DEO’s eyes but they used it all the same when the Daughters of Juru came knocking their doors down. Knowledge. Preparation. Countermoves. They only think themselves better than her until danger is in front of them and destroying everything with super strength and heat vision. Even then, they won’t admit they aren’t.

She is a scientist. She thinks this every time she calls Eve in for more tests on the Harun-El. They fracture it by inches, subject it to extreme heat, radiation, cold, pressure: trying to draw out the power that Lena had seen pulsing in Sam and burned Supergirl’s hand. She has a plan. Harness the Harun-El’s power and use it. To defend, protect, fight back—just to be prepared.

She is a scientist. She had her people reinforce her laboratory with lead and makes excuses to Kara when she comes late to their lunch dates and misses game nights. Eve goes through two security and three biometric checks before she can step inside. James has busied himself with all the discourse concerning his double life as the Guardian, and Lena pushes and supports him, if only to keep him from asking questions about the lab.

She. Is. A scientist. A creature of procedure, habit, and keen observation. So she knows for a fact that she turned on the lights on the balcony when she entered her apartment because she always does. In fact she was on the phone with Eve when she flicked it on and Eve had said something about coming in to the lab the next day a little late. In the 30 minutes it took Lena to undress, shower, and step out in a fluffy red bathrobe and with dripping hair, someone had gotten in, past every measure of security she has, and turned off the balcony lights.

Prepared. Lena had various compartments installed in her apartment ever since the first assassination attempt. There’s one behind her, behind the waist-high fern pot. The compartment slides away with ease with a push of a button. She pulls out the gun from inside. Her heart hammers in her chest—her apartment is so quiet she hears its overwhelming pound in her ears.

It’s dark out on the balcony. Far past midnight now, and nary a star on the sky or a shape in the shadows that she can make out. If she squints, she thinks she can see the outline of the railing. With held breath she raises the gun (her hand is eerily still, the way she holds her Knights and Queen when she checkmates Lex) and flicks the light switch with the other.

The balcony light comes on. She sees the railing and the thin gap of the opened balcony door. She spins about, aiming the gun around her living room with white knuckles and bared teeth. The thought to call her security and spend the night elsewhere registers immediately. The heat at the back of her neck registers too late.

She’s spun, twisted easily like a ragdoll. The gun flies from her grasp. She expects it to fire but it doesn’t, not yet, because when she opens her eyes, she finds herself staring into the barrel of her own weapon.

The apartment is still. Someone stares at her from behind the gun.

“Supergirl?”

Supergirl blinks. She lowers the gun a fraction and the apartment seems to move around Lena again.

“You scared me,” Lena says breathlessly. Supergirl is still staring and it takes Lena a moment to realize the knot of her bathrobe has come undone. A moonpale thigh is in full view with the tuck of her stomach and a singular nipple. She gathers herself quickly and turns her body away, flushed furious and embarrassed. “What are you doing here? How did you get in?”

Supergirl tilts her head, staring intently and gun still halfway raised. Distantly, an alarm rings in Lena’s head. She notices the outfit—gray and red, as opposed to blue and red—the assertive posture, the studious way Supergirl’s eyes track Lena when Lena takes a step back. Yes, her eyes. Her eyes don’t look right. Her eyes are still blue but they seem to swallow rather than give, take more than they want to offer. Lena feels like she’s being devoured. A timid venture: “Supergirl?”

“You really thought this could protect you?” Supergirl asks. Her voice sends the alarms in Lena’s head to overdrive. Hard but drawling all at once, commanding and easily threatening. “This?” She raises the gun to emphasize. “From me?”

The gun crumples with a loud crunch and clatters to the floor.

Supergirl advances. No, though, no. This is not Supergirl. Lena’s scream is cut short by a hand slapped over her mouth and she’s spun again, held upright by a rigid arm around her midriff. The body behind her is warm to the point of sweltering, all hard muscle and leashed strength that could crush her with a single flex and one wrong move on her part. She freezes.

“You won’t scream.”

Lena nods her head as best as she could through the iron grip. Said iron grip loosens and then she’s gasping for air, belting out a croaked, “who are you?”

“You said my name just a minute ago,” Supergirl says breezily—Lena doesn’t know what else to call her. She walks around Lena with her hands behind her back, boots clicking, stance near militaristic. Strong and proud and deadly. “Why ask?”

“You’re not…” my Supergirl, Lena almost says. She bites her tongue. That ship sailed ages ago, when that Supergirl made distrust clear and Guardian broke into her lab. She gestures vaguely instead to fill the word trail. Supergirl only smiles.

“I’m not,” she says simply. “But you shouldn’t be scared of me all the same.”

“You say that after breaking into my home and assaulting me.”

“I say that after choosing not to kill you even though I could.” Lena flinches. “Now we will be civil. Is that something you can agree to?”

Lena blinks. Supergirl is staring at her like one would a meal, all raw power behind her eyes that Lena knows she could condense and unleash before Lena could even finish thinking about escaping. Lena nods. “Fine,” raspy. “If we’re being civil, will you let me get myself a drink?”

“You do know if you try anything I’d destroy you where you stand.”

Lena is already walking to her kitchen. Nude under her robe and dripping, no less, and she is hyperaware of it. Supergirl is tracking her with her eyes and she can feel the heat of embarrassment deep in her belly and on her face. “I’m aware.” She opens her cupboard with still, still hands. Pauses. Regards her guest. “Do you want one?”

Amusement. Supergirl smiles but says, “no thank you.”

Wine. Lena downs a glass in one go and fills herself another, clasping this one to her chest. “What do you want?”

“Harun-El. You have a piece of it.”

“How do you know that?”

“I know it,” Supergirl says with a flare of her nostrils. “You have it.”

“Do you want it?”

“In a way.” Supergirl pivots with a snap of her boots. She walks to the nearest wall and stares dead-eyed at a painting Lena has hung there—an abstract of sorts, Lena thinks. Pastel colors and light strokes though Lena’s not sure now. She’s not in the best state to be remembering these details. “You know what it does,” Supergirl says.

Lena swirls her wine and answers without looking. “You sound sure.”

“You’re a scientist and a genius. And not the most obscure person on this planet, Lena Luthor. You know what it does. The Harun-El.”

Lena fumbles. It takes Supergirl turning to regard her fully for her to get a reply out. “I know it has power. I’ve been trying to harness it.”

“For what?”

Lena opens her mouth. She thinks of Argo—its dome, the barrier that cuts it off from the rest of the universe, protected from alien invasions and all manner of outside disturbance. Argo, the home of the surviving Kryptonians, the last of Supergirl’s people. She closes her mouth and works out a different answer, one that hopefully won’t endanger an already endangered species. “Something.”

Supergirl’s expression doesn’t change. She looks at the painting again. “Harnessing it without knowing what it can do first?”

“It can create Worldkillers. It can—”

“Do more specific things,” Supergirl cuts off. She turns to Lena again and looks like she might say more, but a twitch materializes at her brow and her hand comes up to rest on her ear. A pause, a murmured response, a frown that looks severe, and her hand comes down again. “It seems I must get going.”

“Just like that?” Lena laughs despite herself. “How do you know I won’t report this to the DEO?”

“Because I’ll find you if you do.” Just like that. Lena gapes and Supergirl looks her dead in the eye with the slow beginnings of a smile. “And you want to know what the Harun-El does, don’t you?”

She’s at Lena’s side in a single breath. The fern pot nearby has toppled with the wind tunnel, and Supergirl’s breaths wash over the side of Lena’s neck like something close to scorching. Lena doesn’t move. “You want to. And only I can tell you.” Warmer, warmer: Lena feels the tip of Supergirl’s nose on her jaw and has to consciously keep from shuddering. “And get rid of that horrid painting, will you? I never want to see it again.”

Warm one second and then gone the next. The only marks left by that Supergirl’s visit is the shattered pot of her fern, the open door of the balcony, and the thunder of Lena’s pulse in her ears. She is alone again—she checks. She picks up the ruined gun, locks her balcony door, and it’s only when she’s changing into nightclothes do her hands start to shake.

Sleep doesn’t come easy and once it does come, she sees only red, and gray, and cold, cold eyes that could still melt her into nothing.


 

She does get rid of the painting. Her cleaning lady disposes of it with closely followed instructions of burning it into complete nonexistence, and its absence gives Supergirl a reason to smile when Lena lets her into her apartment the next night.

At least she waited to be let in, this time. She stood out in the balcony with squared shoulders and hands folded neatly at her back, head tilted at Lena like well? The same icy gaze. The same gray and red outfit. The same hot feeling filling Lena whenever Supergirl looks at her like she’s a smorgasbord under fabric and skin.

Lena didn’t tell anyone about the encounter, or about her. Eve noticed, though, her tension as they went through the day’s tests. She kept asking Lena if they should take a break and offered to fetch coffee and snacks thrice in only one hour. Even Kara who had a tendency to miss social cues could tell and went so far as to suggest a day at the spa, her hand on Lena’s forearm. On any other day, Lena’s heart would soar at the show of affection. Not today, though. Not now, because her mind is elsewhere, stuck on tests and phases of the Harun-El and what more she can do to it. Stuck on the creature who claims to know what it can really do.

She sits across from Lena now, legs crossed, languid and strangely at home. Like she belongs there, backdropped by Lena’s décor and loose on Lena’s couch. Lena lets herself take in every detail she could about this Supergirl. The same hair, the same face, the same build, as far as she could tell. Just different dispositions. Different expressions, postures. Different symbols on their chests.

“You’re a communist,” Lena starts, staring at the hammer and sickle emblazoned on the face of Supergirl’s suit.

“What ever gave it away,” Supergirl drawls. She scans her nailbeds before resting her temple on her fist. Her foot swings. “What do you think of it?”

“Of communism? It’s abhorrent.”

“Oh, and capitalizing on the little people isn’t?” Lena’s expression hasn’t changed. She’s had a taste of this same debate many times in college. “I suppose you’d think so, seeing as you’ve benefitted a lot from it.”

“It threatens freedom.”

“And this is a bad thing? Freedom breeds unfairness. It breeds injustice. People can’t be expected to act for the good of all. Selfishness is a perpetuity.”

“And somehow controlling and oppressing them is an act of justice?”

Lena has wine again. Supergirl has made it clear before that she doesn’t mind. She clutches the glass a little tighter when Supergirl leans forward, crossing her arms atop her knee, smile slow and feline. “You don’t want to look at the bigger picture. Disappointing.”

If someone had told Lena before that she’d get to witness Supergirl talk about oppression as a means of achieving order, she would’ve told them to sod off. “What do you want now?” she asks at length.

“The Harun-El. What does it do?”

“I thought I can only find that out from you?”

“Mm, but you’re a scientist, aren’t you? What are your hypotheses?”

Supergirl is looking directly at her. If there’s any reason Lena’s mental processes delay for a moment, she doesn’t like thinking it’s because of that.

She thinks of Reign, briefly, and Sam. She thinks of the Worldkillers, their skewed values, their views of justice, their ideas of reformation. She thinks of this alien in front of her who has all of the Girl of Steel’s powers, body, the face, yet not one shred of her goodness inside. “The Worldkillers are born from the Harun-El but it can also be used to destroy them. Supe—other Supergirl did it with Reign.”

“How?”

“What?”

“How exactly are Worldkillers born from it. The Harun-El is only one part of the process. There is one more variable for the birthing equation.” Supergirl leans back. She watches Lena’s expression crumple with thought and the smile on her face looks almost… fond.

“Wait, you mean—”

“Tomorrow.” Supergirl stands. “I want to see your lab.”

Lena frowns. “I don’t think so—”

She stops because Supergirl has stood, stalked forward to lower herself in front of Lena. Supergirl leans in to run her fingertip along the length of Lena’s jaw with a lightness Lena never thought possible for her. Her breath skates across Lena’s mouth. She smiles when Lena’s lungs hitch and says, “that wasn’t a question for permission.”


 

Lena sends Eve home early. She sends everyone home early. She assures the guards she’ll be alright, that she’ll be having a guest over and to break off all security detail on schedule tonight. While they are dubious, gawking at her as if she’s forgotten she has a brother who wants her dead and a hundred other targets strung around her neck, they are still under her payroll and they concede. That night, her lab is a grave of sterile floors and cold steel, the sounds being only Lena’s heels and the occasional crackle of the Harun-El within its glass case.

And then it’s joined by the taps of Supergirl’s boots as she arrives, crossing the length of the lab to stand next to Lena, all body heat and destructive power held at bay. The latter is never, ever lost on Lena. The proximity still makes her body warm.

“It’s a catalyst. It makes Worldkillers out of Kryptonians,” Lena says. “The three Worldkillers from before were born Kryptonian.” The Harun-El crackles again. It glows a faint purple, Lena having burnt it for hours and hours—her and Eve made that tiny breakthrough. Its power levels are at peak at high temperatures and the screen to her right confirms that. It beeps with pulsing red bars at maximum.

“Very good,” Supergirl purrs. The sound of it, drawn from the very base of her throat, does a hateful, hateful thing to Lena’s spine.

“You’re her.” Lena turns to face her. Supergirl turns too, and something about the slow way her eyes dart to Lena’s mouth before climbing to match gazes makes Lena stumble on a syllable or two. “You’re Supergirl’s Worldkiller. You—you split, when she used it on Reign. She… she had it in her hand.”

“Close.” Supergirl smiles. “A little more.”

She’s stood closer. Lena can tell the exact shade of the blue of her eyes this close and can track the crinkles at her eyes as they deepen when she smiles. She is still Supergirl, living on a borrowed face and a duplicated body and she’d be beautiful too, if she didn’t bleed so much threat and danger and death.

A part of Lena she’d rather ignore whispers, as if that really changes things.

“I...” Lena swallows. Supergirl hums and comes closer. Her breaths on Lena’s cheek is making Lena’s stomach burn. “Give me more time, then.”

Supergirl tilts her head and says nothing. She watches Lena work. She orbits Lena with ghosting touches and hot breaths and Lena has never known another’s company that filled her with so much heat.


 

Supergirl—the DEO’s Supergirl—said she doesn’t feel any different. Lethargic though, she admits, since the exertion with Reign, but she insisted that tended to happen whenever she pushed herself too hard. And then she asked Lena if she was okay, and Lena only nodded her head.

Lena is far from okay. She works, she sleeps, she eats, she meets with Eve. She meets with her—her Supergirl. Her Supergirl with the cold eyes and the gray suit and the blood red emblem of her own idea of justice on her chest. Her Supergirl who doesn’t miss a night, always shows up in Lena’s lab on time or in the apartment, if that’s where Lena is.

Lena updates her without her having to ask on her findings on the Harun-El and what information she can gather of it from the DEO and its Supergirl. “It hurts you when you touch it,” she says one night, two glasses of wine in. Supergirl is next to her, legs crossed, temple on her fist. So at home and so relaxed like this is where she was made to be: next to Lena, watching her, listening to her speak.

“It has components similar to regular kryptonite—green kryptonite. In fact I found an alternative recipe to synthesize it with the use of the green. It’s simpler.”

“It is kryptonite,” Supergirl confirms with a smirk. “A more volatile variant. With more complicated effects.”

“I’m still not sure about—”

“Why do you stay with them, Lena?” Supergirl interjects offhandedly. Lena blinks. Supergirl raises her brows and some semblance of curiosity makes it through her constant mask of disinterest if not hungry intensity. “They don’t care about you. They think you unworthy.”

Lena’s breathing hitches. She holds her glass of wine to her chest, as if the lousy thing could protect her from this. “Who are you talking about? I’m hardly unworthy—”

“To them you are. Unworthy of thanks. And recognition. And trust.” Supergirl slides closer and her knee touches Lena’s thigh. Lena jolts. “Why do you force yourself unto them?”

“I don’t force—”

“You offer them help they don’t deserve. Give them help they don’t deserve. They don’t see you.” A brush, electric: Supergirl’s thumb on the bottom curve of Lena’s lip. It takes a spreading moistness on Lena’s lap to make her realize she’s spilled her wine. “They don’t deserve you.”

Lena purses her lips and leans away in lieu of a proper response. Supergirl is looking straight at her and Lena feels stripped, assessed, ravaged, and some sick part of her is burning to be consumed.


 

She still tells no one.

No one but her and Eve know about the Harun-El and no one but her knows about her Supergirl. Growing up a Luthor, she’s always been good at keeping secrets. Being a woman of science, she’s getting better and better at suppressing her conscience.

She recognizes that isn’t a good thing at all, though, and has never been from the start. But so was creating her own kryptonite, so was holding Sam captive, so was stealing a portion of the Harun-El to study but they were all necessary. She is a scientist, and good or bad, perilous or safe, she needs to do these things to know and to prepare.

She tells herself this over and over as her Supergirl continues her visits. She continues to keep her secrets, and she starts to think of her brother in his madness more and more often. His obsession with Superman that ruined lives: others’ and his own and his family’s. His thirst for knowledge (power, power, power) that broiled to white-hot hate when he couldn’t quench it. Will she eventually follow in his path? 

Sometimes she even asks: or is she, unlike him, bound to succeed?

During her visits, Supergirl doesn’t speak, sometimes. She observes Lena from a bare handspan away and Lena can always be sure she’s listening to her prattle on about her progress with the Harun-El. Sometimes, Lena will say something right and Supergirl’s eyes crinkle. She purrs, and Lena will feel the pleasure lance through the base of her spine and spread to the top of her head and the tips of her toes like a wildfire. It’s a reaction that’s so visceral that Lena comes back to it with closed eyes and three fingers plunged deep in her underwear some nights.

Sometimes she’ll let Supergirl talk. She’s smart, Supergirl, an advanced creature and an intellectual in her own right, and she suggests methods, teases mistakes, and praises Lena’s progress like praises are so easy to give. Maybe they are, actually. Easy to give. Lena is just rarely on the receiving end of them—but this Supergirl just gives and gives it (little good girl’s, gleeful brilliant’s, Cheshire smiles that speak volumes of her pride.)

And sometimes, and Lena still can’t decide if she likes these sometimes, Supergirl will talk about the DEO and National City. It’s during these sometimes that she chooses to stay too close to Lena, close enough that they could feel each other’s breaths and for Lena to feel like she’ll burn in Supergirl’s body heat.

“Do you really care about them?” Supergirl asks during one of these sometimes. Lena hums. 

“Of course I do.”

“They don’t care about you.”

“Maybe not them, but Kara cares about me,” Lena says quietly. Her tailbone jostles her microscope. Supergirl has pinned her to the worktable, both hands on either side of Lena and thumbs pressed to Lena’s hips. Her breath is hot and smells the same, like all she has in her body are embers, like the Harun-El when it’s at peak power. “You don’t know anything,” Lena maintains. 

Kara,” Supergirl echoes, and the darkly fascinated lilt of her mouth makes Lena square her jaw and push forward. Supergirl doesn’t budge. “What I know is you’ll always have your name and people will never look at you differently because of it. I know all the sacrifices you do to try to escape it.” She leans back, separating them, breaths and steps away. Lena’s knees fail her and she has to cling to the table to keep steady. Supergirl is smiling. “And Kara? I know more about that than you do, Lena.”

Even when she leaves later, she is still smiling the same smile. 

It isn’t clear to Lena what it all means until the next night, when someone knocks on her door and she opens it to find Kara standing there, arms crossed and face slack. “Kara?” she intones. She looks warily over her shoulder—her Supergirl could show up any second. “Now really isn’t a good time…”

In chinos and pastels, the faint, natural-looking makeup on her face, the shine of her glasses, the braids of her hair, Kara tips her head and smiles and that, seeing that, is all Lena needs to understand. Kara says it out loud anyway. “Not Kara.”

All her life, Lena has made plans. When LuthorCorp fell to her she formulated a plan for what to do with it, with bullet points and flow charts and forecasted success rates: rebrand, rebuild, distance it from the past as much as she can. The plan was to rename, for starters, and then invest in medicine, turn every R&D effort to the direction of healing. Close down every section that dealt with weaponry and erase the last of Lex from the company.

She had a plan, too, for when Supergirl came into the picture and healing turned to helping, assisting Supergirl whenever she can. She had a plan for when Kara Danvers bled into her life and helping turned to loving, because she grew to love her friendship with Kara enough that she wanted Kara and the world she was on to stay safe.

She never thought to make a plan for this, for the lies, the betrayal, the hurt. She makes up her mind to unravel the power of the Harun-El even if it kills her because this is the last time she will ever, ever be unprepared again.

Her Supergirl, her Kara, watches her cry. And her Kara holds her cheek and whispers, “I told you, didn’t I?” sounding dimly satisfied. Lena clings to her like a lifeline and the burn of this Kara’s body heat is as strong as the hatred Lena can feel in herself, simmering.


 

It isn’t as strange as Lena thought to refer to her as just Kara. Kara as in her own Kara, her Kara with steely eyes and a little something sharper to the way she smiles. She doesn’t bump into potted plants and coffee makers and doesn’t much enjoy musicals. But she is warm, in her own way: subtly dangerous, just a touch too tight when she touches, always.

She is assertive—nearly possessive. She gets all up in Lena’s space and is always pleased when Lena doesn’t pull away. And the thing is, Lena never wants to pull away. Because as severely skewed this Kara’s ideas of peace and morals may be, she is also all truth.

National City has done nothing but judge her and its hero, her best friend, has been lying to her face since the first day. Kara has told her more truth than the whole world combined in 26 years and Lena likes it. Being seen for once. Being wanted, appreciated, sought out. Being looked at with the kind of pure veneration in Kara’s eyes that doesn’t need a material exchange.

They still talk about the Harun-El. Kara’s foothold on the Siberian border, sometimes. Stories of her army and her people who look at her as if she’s bathed in benediction. They speak of Lex, once, and Kara listens with her cheek on her own fist and Lena’s feet on her lap.

Lena stops returning James’s calls and cites her lab work as the reason, which isn’t altogether untrue. She sends the text with Kara on the other side of the lab, looking over blueprints and measured plans on what she means to do with the harnessed energy of the Harun-El.

“You want to replicate Argo City’s defenses,” is Kara’s takeaway. Lena puts down her phone and turns to look. “That’s why you want to extract the power of the Harun-El.”

“You know about Argo City?”

“Of course I do. Who do you think I am?” Kara says dryly, turning away from the mess of papers to look Lena over. The tilt of her head reads impressed, though her smirk is bland. “You still insist on doing this? For them?”

Lena walks over to her and splays a hand on her latest iteration of her extractor’s blueprint. It’ll draw energy from the Harun-El and project the same shield she’d been told about in passing, make an area or a whole planet virtually impossible to detect, much less invade. “What else would I do with the Harun-El?”

“Dispose of it. Keep it. Give it to me,” Kara enumerates airily. Lena scoffs. “Give it to anyone much more deserving, at least.”

“And who would count as much more deserving?”

“Other than me?” Kara grins when Lena raises her brow. “Anyone who has been good to you.”

Lena’s laugh is quiet. “And do you know anyone like that?”

“I know who isn’t like that.” Kara sidesteps to block Lena when she reaches for the papers to gather. “I know the DEO doesn’t deserve you.” Lena is pinned, Kara’s hands rising to cup the curves of her jaw. Lena freezes and melts all at once and—there it is again, the wretched shock of something electric at the base of her spine. “I know National City doesn’t deserve you. Leave this place to suffer. They’re the unworthy ones, not you.”

“Kara—”

“You are a genius,” Kara continues and she nuzzles, nuzzles, Lena’s hair. Lena’s breath hitches and her lashes flutter. Her knees shake. “And you are good.” A quiet scoff. “You want this world to be better and you do your part. But they don’t see that, do they?

“I see you. I see all that you do. And all of it—all of you. Beautiful.” A kiss, fleeting, still hot enough to burn, on the crown of Lena’s head. “Stop trying to help them. Why not come to me instead? Do these things for me? We’ll build a utopia, Lena. Peace and justice and equality.”

Lena laughs. Raspy and toxic, but Kara doesn’t seem the least bit bothered even as she draws back to look at Lena. “So this is what this is? A recruitment drive? For your communist cause?” The statement falls venomous from her mouth and Kara’s lips twitch. “If you’re trying to seduce me, I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t find evil attractive.”

Kara smiles. Predatory. Feline. Her thumbs press a little harder on Lena’s cheekbones. “Not evil,” she says, “power,” and her eyes start to glow.

The flash of Lena’s life is brief and pathetic. Lillian whose only smiles were condescending. Lionel who didn’t last. Lex who loved her then grew to hate her overnight. Every effort she’d given for L-Corp, National City, the DEO, its Supergirl. Every effort that changed nothing. Every bullet that missed, every punch that didn’t, all the days she risked her life doing the right thing.

And then the flash of her life ends. Kara’s mouth is on her mouth and her hands are fisted into Kara’s gray suit. Kara’s hand is in her hair and one of her arms is around Lena’s waist, tight like a vice, possessive and aggressive and it’s all rushing to the dip between Lena’s thighs.

Lena vaguely registers the sound of papers rustling and swept off of the table. With one effortless heave she’s on top of it, and Kara has pried her legs apart. Kara’s hand crawls, padding down the length of her torso to get between Lena’s legs and Lena—snaps out of it.

She’s panting as she pulls away with enough force for whiplash. Kara only smiles, her lips moist, her teeth white. Her eyes are more blown pupils than blue. “I can give you anything you want,” she whispers. “Everything you deserve. This city is as good as yours. This world will be yours. I’ll give you peace.”

Lena’s heart is barreling itself crazed against her ribcage. It’s embarrassing because she knows Kara can hear it. Embarrassing because she can’t stop it. With her face hot as a fire and hands shaking, she manages her best glare. “Leave. Now. Or I will tell the DEO about you.”

Kara’s eyes narrow. Lena didn’t think she’d do it, but she does: she draws back. The distance she puts between them is like a crack in the earth that breaks into a yawning chasm when she walks out the way she came.


 

She doesn’t come back.

Lena works. She sleeps, she eats, she meets with Eve. She meets with this other Kara and this other Supergirl to do projects for the DEO, and in her chest there is a big, gaping hole that no amount of thankless good deeds could fill. In the quiet evenings she makes herself scream and shake with her face on the pillow and fingers inside her and with every release, she feels a little more empty.

She pays close attention to the conflicts the DEO intervenes in daily. Rogue aliens, human robbers, fortuitous disasters. Not even a whisper of communism or a doppelganger or both, Jesus Christ, and by the end of the week Lena has missed three lunches with this Kara, five calls from James, and two meetings at L-Corp and one at CatCo. Eve begs her to take a break but she refuses to stop working on the Harun-El. She’s forming the answer in her head, built from hypotheses and her Kara’s clues and her own experiences with Reign.

Other Kara calls her one afternoon and she just stares at the phone as it rings. Behind the glass partition, the Harun-El is crackling.

The people around her know something is up and she hides away behind lies of illness and sleep deprivation. She tells Eve to take a couple days’ rest. The Harun-El, she moves to her apartment in a lead suitcase. She shuts down the lab. Her security guards are dismissed. L-Corp and CatCo are forced to take her application for a leave. Her job, her buildings, her people—none of it matters anymore. 

A whole week, her Kara doesn’t come back. Every night her balcony is empty and no one scans her blueprints with a snarky comment disguised as an affectionate greeting (“working for the good of the world again, I see,” “will you ever tire of your own genius and goodness, Lena?”) Lena is seriously starting to consider surrendering the Harun-El to the DEO just to get a big enough wave going for attention, when the bullet rain heaves her car off of the road and tips it sideways like a bent can. She hits her head. She is able to keep her eyes open long enough to catch a glimpse of blonde, and red, and gray, and the unmistakable hellfire of exploding vehicles.

The DEO spikes to high alert after that. Other Kara, in the other Supergirl’s skin, suit in blue and red and staring with kind, warm eyes, insists to guard Lena personally against what could only be a rogue alien out to get her. She declines, much to everyone’s widened eyes. “It wasn’t out to get me,” she tells them. “Those people who attacked me were Lex’s men. It attacked them.”

They disagree, of course, and in the midst of poorly disguised accusations that are not completely unfounded, Lena interjects and makes it very clear she is not theirs to pet and leash and protect. She hates them all so much she fantasizes about watching them burn. None of it matters, though—none. Other Supergirl withdraws with a flagrant look of hurt and to Lena, she looks like a wounded Kara—that lying, distrustful Kara. Lena has hurt this Kara and all she can think at this moment is good.

And that night, her Kara alights on her balcony in her shades of blonde and red and gray, and Lena doesn’t even try to stop herself from thinking, good, good, good.

Kara slides the balcony door open without asking and struts inside like there isn’t days of radio silence between them. Lena, too relieved, too happy, can’t find it in her to have an issue with that. She stays curled on the couch.

“The Harun-El,” she says, “doesn’t necessarily create Worldkillers. It splits Kryptonians into two.”

Kara is smiling. She kneels before Lena, prostrated like worship, and takes Lena’s hand to flatten on her cheek. Her brows quirk, go on, and Lena feels like how Eve looked when Lena told her to keep the Harun-El tests a secret. Dying to be wanted. Eager to please.

“Kryptonian psychology is something I still need to understand. But you…” Her fingers twitch on Kara’s cheek. “You’re… every opposite—every evil thing about this… the other Kara.”

A grin. Kara rises just enough to be level with Lena’s eyes. “Not necessarily evil,” she says, hushed. “Just everything Kara would never allow herself to do.” She turns her face to bury it into Lena’s palm, inhaling. 

“That was you this morning, wasn’t it?”

“Against the hitmen?” Kara lets her eyes flick to Lena, smile tight and voice hard. “Would you rather it was the other one?”

Lena asked herself this question at least ten times before tonight. When the Supergirl in blue came to carry her out of her battered car she closed her eyes, dug deep into her mind, unearthed gray and cold eyes. “No,” she says. Kara’s cheek lifts on her palm. “How did you know I was in trouble?”

“I watch you.”

“You watch me?”

“Slave over your work. Slave over for them.” She grins into Lena’s palm and kisses it. Her lips are soft, warm. They almost don’t fit with the rest of her. “I watch you bathe. I watch you in bed.” Heat grows in Lena by degrees. A mixture of mortification and pleasure wells up in her belly. Outrage at her privacy being pierced. Joy that her Kara would go through such lengths. Kara breathes against the lifeline of Lena’s palm and asks, voice low, “tell me, when you touch yourself, who do you see?”

Lena snatches her hand away from Kara’s face, rearing it to slap. Kara grabs her wrist and she does it tightly. Not enough to hurt, no, but enough to make it clear it could. “I didn’t come for the Harun-El, you know. I came for you,” she tells Lena sweetly, clearly undeterred. Lena’s laugh is hollow.

“Of course you did. I could make you all the Harun-El you want, couldn’t I?”

“That’s only luck,” Kara says easily. She returns Lena’s hand to her cheek and Lena fingers her earlobe. Kara’s lashes flutter with a quiet groan. “To learn to create it on your own—amazed me. But I still came for you.”

Lena licks her lips. “Why?”

“It’s a part of me,” Kara says, so sure and so clear and so soft. So soft against Lena’s hand. “The want for you.” Firmer, heavier: “I feel like I could consume you and have you live inside of me forever.”

Lena kisses her first this time. The noise Kara makes is animalistic, her hands hot on the underside of Lena’s thighs as she lifts Lena up. Lena lets herself be carried. She lets herself be taken to her room, lain on her bed, Kara’s weight above her and her mouth close to feasting. 

She looks into Kara’s eyes and thinks of darkness, of being in the grip of something truly alien and terrifying and what could be the start of an irreversible metamorphosis. And then she thinks of being used and lied to, of shoving her hands into her underwear and feeling empty, and she lets Kara nudge her head back to plant an open-mouthed kiss on her throat.

Kara touches like a conqueror. She uses her nails and teeth and strength to rupture skin and leave her marks and Lena lies back, whimpering, letting her stake her claim. She undresses Lena with hard pulls of her hands and Lena lies in the tatters of her clothing, lying back to be consumed.

She sees Kara one last time before she closes her eyes. Looking at her with blatant reverence, adoration so blind.

Kara is not gentle and to Lena this is fine. Lena doesn’t want gentle. She wants to be wanted so much that it’ll hurt her. She wants to be filled, stretched out, for the fire in her body to burn burn burn, wants the world to shatter around her and go through slow, steady rebirth. Kara fucks her with all she wants and more, with so much power and primal desire that Lena thinks she’d be fractured by the end of it if not intentionally then on accident. Her body seizes when she comes, bruises and half-moon marks full-bloomed, and Kara sighs hotly between her thighs before going back.

It’s fuzzy from there on out. She is pushed and pushed again to the brink and her soul feels like it’s ascending inches from her body. She comes, and then she comes again, and again, and again, and Kara keeps her pace with all the greed of someone who has finally gotten what they want. She carries Lena around, throws her down on all fours, pulls her hair, yanks her arms, pushes her legs so far apart that they shudder and convulse.

And then Lena is making noises she wasn’t even aware she is capable of making. Shaking uncontrollably, stretched so tight and filled so much she is snapping.

At one point she blacks out. Some time after that she becomes aware of herself groaning with tears in her eyes and Kara without her suit, grunting into the skin of Lena’s pelvis with her hand between her own legs. She bites into Lena’s thigh when she comes and Lena’s eyes screw shut.

After that Lena thinks she passed out. Or maybe Kara fucked her well into the sunrise, she isn’t sure. Whatever the case, when her mind returns to her and she can feel every ache, her body is so wrung out that she can’t move a muscle without wondering if she’s dead. She is in a realm that is light and peaceful and warm, and her Kara is next to her, haloed by the morning and adulation in her eyes.

Other Supergirl is kind and comes to her in times of the city’s need, when the DEO requires her mind and her technology. Other Kara is gentle and is only ever there when it’s convenient for her and has been doing nothing but lie, lie, lie. James is sweet, and he has his ideals and Lena understands his urge for heroism. That Supergirl will never trust her. That Kara will never believe in her. James will eventually forget about her. National City will never want her.

Her Kara is not kind and gentle and sweet. Her Kara is brutal honesty and shameless eyes and a disposition that wouldn’t make many people feel pleased. But her Kara is hers, and her Kara sees her, and wants her, and Lena knows even without being told that this is all true. It’s in the way she holds Lena with sure hands and whispers in an alien language so sweetly that Lena feels tears pool at her eyes. It’s in her thumbs as she brushes the tears away and looks Lena in the eye, all fire and power, and says, “you are mine.” It’s in her kiss, deep and hot and not holding anything back.

“Come with me,” she says quietly when they pull apart. “You will have your own people. I’ll give you your own army. I’ll build you a city, I’ll hand you the world.” Her eyes are imploring. Her hands are tight on Lena’s jaw. “Paradise. Order. Peace. Anything you want.”

Lena doesn’t even think about it. She sits up, and all her bruises and markings throb and the soreness between her legs stabs harsh. Her knees are shaking and the muscles of her thighs are still aflutter, but she powers through with a groan. The sun is rising. She needs to start packing.

She has a lot to prepare.