Actions

Work Header

It's okay.

Chapter Text

The street looked like a battlefield. The road was lined with blown out windows, their broken glass littered the ground. The paint that used to cover the building on the corner was scattered on the ground- it fell off when someone punched the wall with inhuman strength, leaving the bare bricks exposed. A man was hiding behind a crashed car, its sirens screaming.

‘Come out, come out, wherever you are,’ a sweet voice called.

The man behind the car crouched even lower, trying to hide from someone he knew there was no hiding from.

‘Now, now,’ the voice said. ‘You do know that I have X-Ray vision, right? I can see you right through that car.’

The man looked like he was about to pass out. He leaned his forehead against the door, squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and then, slowly, shakily, he stood up and walked out from behind the vehicle.

‘There you are,’ Supergirl smiled, satisfied. A faint red line zigzagged across her face. ‘There’s no need to hide from me. I’m a hero, after all, I don’t hurt people… At least not ones that don’t deserve it.’

There was no warning. A beam of laser shot out of Supergirl’s eyes, scorching the asphalt just a few inches from the man’s shoes.

His eyes widened. He was terrified. He didn’t dare to move at all, he was just staring at the smoking  stain right next to him.

‘The problem is,’ Supergirl continued with a contemplative frown, ‘is that you do deserve it.’

Another shot of laser hit the ground, this time even closer to the man. He stumbled backwards, lost his balance and hit the ground.

Supergirl took a few steps towards him. Her lopsided smile showed just how much she enjoyed playing this game.

‘I don’t…’ the man stammered, ‘I don’t deserve it…’

‘Oh but of course you do. You’re only human, you’re flawed by nature. You all are.’

 ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ the man whispered, his whole body trembling with fear. Supergirl’s lips twisted into a condescending smile.

‘Of course you don’t,’ she snorted, the dangerous red glow re-appearing in her eyes. It turned brighter and stronger until it formed a pair of laser beams. They started inching, slowly as if to draw out the anticipation, towards him. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see what was surely coming next.

‘Stop!’ someone screamed, just as the laser reached the edge of his feet and started burning through his shoes. ‘Stop!’

The person running towards them came to a halt right in front of Supergirl, placing herself between her and the man.

‘Lena Luthor,’ Supergirl said cheerfully. ‘Isn’t that a surprise.’

 Supergirl, stop,’ Lena repeated. ‘Now.’

 Supergirl’s eyes narrowed.

‘Get out of my way,’ she sneered. The man stared at Lena’s back in disbelief.

‘No.’ Lena shook her head firmly. ‘I know you don’t wanna do this. You don’t wanna hurt him. You’ve never wanted to hurt anyone.’

‘You don’t know me,’ Supergirl spat. A red streak moved across her face, so fast Lena almost didn’t notice it.

‘I know you couldn’t live with yourself if you hurt innocent people. So please, ’Lena pleaded. ‘Stop. Let him go.’

‘Oh, Lena,’ Supergirl’s face turned pitiful. ‘No one’s innocent.’ Her face hardened again. ‘Now get out of my way or I’ll shoot you too.’

Lena swallowed hard but stood her ground.

’No.’

‘Don't say I didn't warn you.’

The laser hit her in the middle of her chest. She fell onto her back, the air knocked out of her by the force of the impact. For a moment she had no idea what had just happened. She tried to take a deep breath to calm herself but the motion sent a jolt of searing pain though her chest. She shut her eyes against the pain.

The man recognized that this was probably his only chance to run. By the time Lena even realized she was lying on the ground he had already scrambled to his feet and had taken off for the nearest corner. Supergirl only spared him a glance before she decided to let him go and walk up to Lena instead. She crouched down next to her, watching Lena’s pathetic attempts to draw shallow, strained breaths, with an amused half-smile.

‘Do not think I missed. You’d be dead if I’d only aimed a bit to the right. You better be thankful you’re still breathing.’

‘Supergirl…’ Lena stammered. She was still in shock- whether from the pain or from the fact that Supergirl- Kara- really does not care about injuring, or maybe even killing her, she didn’t know.

‘Don’t you dare go against me ever again,’ Supergirl snarled, standing up and towering over Lena. ‘Now get out of here before I not only hit you but carve my symbol into your chest with laser too. At least that way you’d never forget your place again.’

She gave Lena a last disdainful look then turned around and started walking in the opposite direction. Lena finally struggled to her feet. Her chest felt like it was still being burned by the laser beam. She had to bite down on her lip to keep herself from crying out.

‘I will… always go against you if you need it,’ she called after Supergirl.

Supergirl stopped in the middle of the road and turned around slowly.

‘Need it?’ she repeated incredulously. ’I don’t need anything from you. You’re nothing to me.’

Lena flinched as if she’d been slapped. Her hand unconsciously reached to touch her chest, feeling the proof of Supergirl’s words.

Supergirl didn’t fail to notice the pained wince that crossed Lena’s face as her fingers grazed the wound.

’You’re so weak,’ she chuckled. Lena knew she wouldn’t forget the chuckle as long as she lived.

’I am,’ Lena admitted. ’But you aren’t. You’re one of the strongest people I know. That’s why I know you can fight whatever’s controlling you right now. This city needs you. The people need you.’ She looked down at the ground. ’I need you,’ she added, her voice barely a whisper.

Supergirl walked back up to her. She stopped only a few inches from Lena and stared into her eyes.

’I am not a person,’ she said, punctuating every word. ’I am a god. And I don’t care if anyone needs me. And I especially don’t care if you need me. Of course you do. After all, what are you without me? Just a woman despised by everyone around her. Just a Luthor who thinks being seen with Supergirl will make people believe she’s anything more than her name. But guess what, you haven’t fooled anyone. You know what the people think? That you’re not like your family? That you might even be a decent human? Oh no. They think you’ve befriended me to get close to me and kill me.’ She looked almost entertained at the idea. ’As if you could ever come close to laying a hand on me.’

’I don’t care what they think. I would never hurt you. I only ever wanted to be your friend.’

’A friend? A Luthor and a Super? A xenophobic, pretentious, despicable liar and a superhero?’

Lena’s jaw clenched involuntarily. She tried to tell herself that none of this was Supergirl’s fault. That the Supergirl she knew would never hurt her.

The pain spreading through her chest every time she breathed in seemed to contradict that.

’I tried… I tried to be better,’ Lena said simply. ‘I want to be better.’

’That’s adorable. I thought you were supposed to be a genius? But apparently you can’t even see what’s right in front of your eyes.’

’I do see what’s right in front of my eyes,’ Lena said quietly. ’I do… Kara.’

’Ooh. Well isn’t that nice. The cat’s out of the bag, huh,’ Supergirl said, a satisfied grin spreading across her face. ‘You must be wondering why I didn’t tell you myself.’

Lena shrugged. The motion made the constricting feeling in her chest worse for a moment. She sucked in a deep breath.

‘At first I thought it was simply because I’m a Luthor. I thought the only reason we kept meeting was because you wanted to keep an eye on me. But then I realized you were too good and kind to think like that. And that I didn’t need to know your reasons. It was your secret to keep.’

‘Oh, it was never like that,’ Supergirl said. ‘Or maybe in the very beginning… But then I started getting to know you. And I realized that I didn’t need to keep an eye on you. You never posed a threat to anyone, let alone me. You’re nothing like your brother.’ She took a step towards Lena. ‘Because, you see… As much as I loathe your brother, at least he had the guts to be true to himself. He fought for something he believed in. He was always honest and loud about his intentions, no matter how idiotic they were. But you… You’re not even worth noticing.’

‘I know you don’t mean that,’ Lena said, fighting tears.

A red line flashed bright across Supergirl’s face.

‘You sure about that?’

The force of Supergirl’s fist connecting with Lena’s cheek threw Lena to the ground. She landed on her stomach, her head connecting with the ground.

Lena looked up from the ground, slowly. For a moment, she couldn’t focus on anything; the street around her was spinning viciously, the whole world seemed to have lost its contours; colors and shapes blended together. Her hand instinctively reached up and touched her face gingerly. The skin over her cheek broke and her jaw throbbed with pain. She tried to wipe at the blood flooding from a cut on her forehead but it was useless, it trickled down the side of her face.

She tried to focus on Supergirl’s face. She was hoping against hope to see any sign of the real Kara, her Kara, in those familiar eyes that now held such a terrifyingly unfamiliar look.

’It’s okay, Kara,’ she finally said, fighting the nausea and ignoring the shaking of her voice.

It wasn’t. It wasn’t okay at all. But Lena just couldn’t be sure a piece of Kara wasn’t holding on on the inside, and if there was, Lena would have done anything to ease her guilt.

’Is it now,’ Kara said, her tone flat.

Lena didn’t expect the next blow. There was a distinctive crack as Supergirl’s foot connected with her still half-bent elbow.

Lena’d never felt pain like this. It was as if someone had ripped her arm off. She couldn’t hold back the scream escaping her lips as her arm buckled under her and she fell back onto the ground.

She rolled onto her side to ease the pressure off her injured arm. She immediately wished she hadn’t.

Her arm was bent at an unnatural angle. Blood was steadily oozing from a wound just above her elbow. She thought she was going to throw up when she saw the jagged end of a bone sticking out of the wound.

She realized that trying to help Kara feel just a bit less guilty once she came back around would mean antagonizing her.

She didn’t dare to think about what this version of Kara would do if she got any more angry and violent. It wasn’t that she was afraid of dying. She’s made peace with that a long time ago. She knew what she was signing up for when she stepped in to save that man. She just hoped it wouldn’t be for nothing. And that maybe it wouldn’t be so long and painful.

But right now, Kara’s sickening snarl suggested that it really was for nothing and that she’d take her time playing around with Lena.

Would it be worth it? Would that one in a million chance that whatever she says gets through to Kara be worth it?

It really wasn’t a question she had to think about. And it wasn’t simply because she loved Kara. Weather as a friend or more, she couldn’t tell. She never knew what a healthy relationship looked like so she tended to confuse care with obsession. So yes, she would have died for Kara in a heartbeat. She didn’t want to think about whether that was because she loved Kara so much or because she stopped being invested in her own life a long time ago.

But she had another reason to stand her ground, to not give up and cave in. This, never giving up the city’s hero, not even when she was showing her worst side- this was good. And all Lena ever wanted to be was good.

So, no matter how much her body objected, she stood up. She staggered before regaining her balance, then looked Supergirl straight in the eye.

‘Yes, it is okay,’ she said, nauseous and dizzy, both from the pain and from having hit her head against the ground. ‘Because I know you’d never hurt me. This isn’t you. So, it is okay. And I want you to remember that. I need you to remember that,’ she pleaded desperately.

‘Your condescension is revolting,’ Supergirl spat. ‘You Luthors and your superiority complexes. It’s about time the world is cleansed of your venom.’

She pulled Lena up by her blood-stained shirt and threw her sideways, as if she weighed nothing.

As if she meant nothing. As if she was nothing.

Lena’s fall was cut short by a larger glass shard sticking out of the remnants of a wooden window frame.

It was all surreal. Her brain knew something was wrong but the pain barely registered. She looked down, trying to figure out what had happened, why she hadn’t just fallen straight through the space where the window glass used to be.

That was when she saw the broken piece of glass protruding from the frame, underneath her torso. She couldn’t see the top of the shard, it disappeared somewhere under her.

Somewhere inside her, she realized.

She’d known things’d been looking grim for her but she’d still hoped that a couple broken bones and a milder head trauma were all things she could survive and recover from.

She refused to acknowledge that a compound fracture isn’t just a break or that the lingering disorientation and dizziness indicated more than just a mild head trauma. Or maybe it was just a subconscious defense mechanism, her mind trying to make her believe it wasn’t all over yet, that she shouldn’t give up on herself.

But even she couldn’t shrug off being impaled on a jagged piece of glass as something she’d easily recover from.

The sight of blood flowing freely all the way down her abdomen and dripping onto the window frame and to the ground made her sick.

There was just too much blood. Too much of her blood.

But it didn’t feel like her blood. It didn’t even feel like her body.

There was a voice behind her back, taunting and cold, but she couldn’t understand what it was saying. She couldn’t understand anything anymore.

There were footsteps too, getting closer and closer to her, but she didn’t even hear them.

The roaring of the chopper was loud enough to break through her. She looked up, above her shoulder, the hope of seeing someone coming to help her winning over the pain the motion caused her.  There was a figure hanging out of the door, holding a large gun with a barrel pulsating with a strange green glow.  The figure moved to aim the gun at something behind her and she thought she recognized Alex in that all-black uniform.

Alex’s face dragged her back to reality. She suddenly realized the reason behind the gun’s green glow.

She didn’t think. She didn’t make a conscious decision. She just did what her body knew she had to do. She pushed herself up with her right arm, violently, ignoring the sickening sound that pulling herself up, off of the shard made.

The pain hit her with full force when she slid off the frame and onto the concrete. It was searing hot, setting her nerve endings on fire. It was maddening. Unbearable.

Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes. Her throat seized up, her ears were ringing, her limbs went numb and her whole world was reduced to the screaming throbbing of the wound in her torso.

If it was someone else Alex was pointing her gun at, she might have done differently. She might have stayed put, hoping that the glass would stem the blood flow and Alex would come and help her.

But it wasn’t someone else.

It was Supergirl’s safety against hers.

Kara’s life against hers.

That really wasn’t a question she’d have to think about.

So she stood up, praying that her uncontrollably shaking legs would hold her. She turned around and faced Supergirl. Adrenaline was racing through her body, flooding her system, partially numbing her senses, keeping her on her feet.

Kara was standing a few feet back, looking at Lena with an amused half-smile, paying no attention to the chopper above them.

Lena started stumbling towards Supergirl. Supergirl raised an eyebrow, not sure why Lena was trying to get to her.

The sidewalk seemed to get wider and wider with every step Lena took. She believed she was running. In reality, she was barely staggering.

There was frantic yelling above their heads and the gun went off with a deafening blast.

She lurched forward in an attempt to get to Kara faster and somehow, anyhow, protect her from the kryptonite.

She tackled Supergirl onto her back by gracelessly falling on top of her, shielding her as best as she could, as pieces of metal, glass and wood rained down on them.

Supergirl was out before she hit the floor. Green lines seemed to chase after red ones on her face. She looked like there was a war raging under her skin. She winced whenever the lines collided.

Lena stared at the lines running across Supergirl’s face. Green seemed to be winning. The red line kept getting fewer and fewer, criss-crossing slower and slower.

The last thing she registered was a red mist seemingly soaking through Supergirl’s skin and evaporating into the air. Her features finally evened out, the war inside was over.

In her last conscious moment she almost felt relieved.

The dust caused by the blast hasn’t cleared and the chopper hasn’t even finished landing yet when Alex was already down on the street, sprinting towards two bodies lying motionless on the ground, a stark contrast to the chaos raging around them.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

There were so manys sounds around her. Wailing sirens, the crackling of a fire nearby, the roaring reverberations of the helicopter rotor. Too many stimuli for Lena’s terrified brain to process. Every new noise felt like a stab in her head, making her withdraw into herself farther and farther, trying to protect herself from the screams of the world ending. Her world ending.

And there were too many sensations in her body too. Fear, dejection, hopelessness, loss. And the searing sense of pain, erupting in spurs inside her, with every wound, every injury demanding her sole attention - until they all melted into a single, shared feeling of agony overtaking her entire being.

That’s what the world seemed to be for her. Flames and an unbearable cacophony of anguish. And in the middle of it all, her battered core pulsating with pain. 

She could feel her strength seeping out of her through her mangled midsection, into the concrete beneath her; her blood slowly getting replaced by endless exhaustion and the chilling cold of the unforgiving night seeping into her veins. The cold gnawed at her bones. The sounds grew quieter and the lights dimmed. The frost of the air weighed on her with the weight of hopes crushed and love having gone horribly awry.


The helicopter hadn't even landed when Alex threw herself out of the fuselage, rolling on the asphalt as she landed. A moment later she was on her feet, running towards the two motionless bodies in the middle of the street.

She’d never run this fast before. One foot after the other, mechanically, ignoring everything around her, eyes on her sister’s body, calling out her and Lena’s name with every breath she exhaled.

She ran for her life.

And Kara’s.

She only stopped when her boots unexpectedly slipped. She looked down at the ground as she regained her balance.

She was standing in a pool of blood. 

She hesitantly lifted a foot, unable to look away from the red pooling around her, nauseated by the sound of blood dripping from her boot. The smell of iron filled her nostrils.

She closed her eyes for a second. Her jaw clenched so hard she thought she was going to break her teeth. Then she took a deep breath, opened her eyes and took in the scene in front of her.

Kara was lying flat on her back, her limbs sprawled about awkwardly. Green lines chasing one another just beneath her skin. She looked peaceful, almost like she was simply asleep. Lena was on her stomach, on top of Kara, covering most of her body, as if she was still trying to shield her. Her arm bent at a sickening angle, her humerus jutting out just above her elbow. Glass shards tore her clothes into pieces and clung into her skin.

And right where their bodies met - blood. So much blood.

Alex knew it was a despicable thought, but she hoped to God it was Lena’s.


She felt a gentle touch on her back. She heard someone calling her name, but the words sounded like they were coming from underwater.

Hands covered her body, turned her on her back and pulled her off of Kara.

Kara

Lying on her back now, the first thing Lena noticed was how dark the sky was, even for the night-time. The light of the few streetlamps that hadn’t gone off was covered by thick smoke, only fleeing sparks spotted the sky.

  Someone was talking next to her. She wanted to look at them, to see who they were, but even her eyes refused to move.

  Then the voice moved even closer, and Alex’s face appeared in the sky. Her outlines were blurred, her features moving in and out of focus.

  Alex is here , she thought. Kara’s gonna be okay now.


Alex took a quick look at Kara and having made sure that she would be okay, she instructed J’onn to take her to the DEO and have her put under sunlamps.

‘Have her restricted, just in case,’ she added quietly, as J’onn took off with Kara’s limp body. Then she kneeled next to Lena, trying hard to ignor the blood soaking through her uniform, and called her name again as she leaned over her.

She had expected Lena to be unconscious. She’d hoped it even – she wanted them both to have some form of temporary escape from the hell that unravelled around her – that they themselves unravelled. It would have made things so much easier. She didn’t want to face Lena right there and then. She wanted her to be a faceless patient. A stranger bleeding out on the sidewalk, that she could deal with. But this… The aftermath of her sister’s darkest side toying with someone they both cared about-, this was almost too much.

But Lena’s eyes were wide open.

Alex’s heart shattered when she saw the look on her face - nothing but pain and fear. Absolute, visceral agony.

Alex has seen that look many times before. It was the look of someone who knew they lost everything. Someone who knew their time has come.

'Lena?' Alex tried.

She didn't want to answer. She just wanted to be left alone. To rest. To sleep. And maybe to never wake up again. Because even though she was used to the merciless torture of the demons living in her head, the nightmare the real world had turned into was something she wasn't sure she could  survive.

‘Lena?’ Alex called her name again, softly, her voice filled with depths of despair Lena has only ever heard in her own head. ‘Lena, can you hear me?’

Yes, of course, Lena wanted to say, annoyed, but her lips refused to obey her. She just kept staring at the distraught eyes above her. Then she slowly collected all her strength to ask the only thing that still mattered.  

‘How… Bad?’

‘I don’t know, Lena. I haven’t examined you fully yet. Bu... It’s not good…’

‘No…’ Lena took a shallow, shaky breath. ‘Kara. How bad… Is she?’

Alex felt her heart break into pieces. Lena was on the brink of death, dragged there by Kara, with determined, taunting steps. And she still seemed to think Kara's life was more important that hers. And although she still loved her sister, unconditionally, she couldn't deny the burning hatred she felt for her in that moment.

She looked at Lena for a long moment, trying to decide whether there was a point in keeping up the pretence or if she should just confirm what Lena already seemed to know – that Kara is Supergirl.
Eventually she hung her head in silent admission.

‘She’s gonna be okay. She just needs rest. I’m gonna check you out now, okay?’

‘No,’ Lena said, her voice growing agitated. ‘Kara. Take care… Of Kara… First.’

Alex’s jaw clenched again, involuntarily, tensing up her face. She wanted to scream.

‘She’s been taken to the DEO. She’s gonna be okay, Lena, I promise. You need me more now. Please. Let me help you.’

Lena closed her eyes, willing herself to believe that Kara really would be okay. That was the only thing that mattered. Even after everything that had happened. Kara was too good, even if she hadn't been good to her, to disappear from this world.

‘Alex,’ Lena whispered when she looked up again. 'Tell her... I uderstand... And it's... okay.' A single tear appeared in the corners of her eye, rolled down her temple, and disappeared in her hair. 'Alex?'

‘I’m here. I’m right here,’ Alex said softly, pushing down her rage and her tears. She took Lena’s good hand in her own. She knew she should have started treating Lena's wounds but she couldn't bare to have her think that she was alone. Again.

For a fleeting, irrational moment, Lena felt embarrassed. Lying on the ground, in the middle of a torn-up street, tears flowing from her eyes, needing someone to comfort her, allowing Alex and anyone and everyone else to see her like that - that was weak, pathetic even. She really should get up. Show strength. Put on the mask and continue with the usual charade of nothing getting to her.

But the thought was gone as soon as it took shape. As she lost more and more blood, her brain failed to form coherent ideas anymore. There was barely enough circulation to keep her from completely, finally shutting down. There was no more room for thoughts.

‘Lena?’ Alex called her again, but there was no answer this time.

Alex swallowed hard, wiped at her eyes, and squeezed Lena’s hand one last time before she set out to examine her as fast as possible.

She cut off Lena’s shirt, then wiped at the pool of blood that has been collecting on her abdomen.

There was no use. The blood kept flowing, too fast for her to find the entry wound.

Alex felt like she could scream. She fished out a bunch of gauze from her bag, tore the packaging and positioned it directly over where she suspected the blood was coming from.

‘Lena, this is gonna hurt,’ she warned her grimly. ‘I’m really sorry.’

  She quickly pressed the gauze over the wound.

  Alex was sure the scream that escaped Lena’s lungs would hunt her for years to come.

  ‘I know, I know, I’m so sorry,’ she muttered. She kept pressing on the bandage, desperately hoping for J’onn to return. She really needed another set of hands.

The scream turned to abrupt, sharp gasps and finally faded into quiet, hopeless whimpers. Alex looked back up at Lena. She was relieved to see the shallow, rapid rise of her chest.

Her eyes were open again. But they'd grown glassy, unfocused and were staring aimlessly into the night.

‘Lena?’ Alex tried hesitantly, careful to maintain the pressure on the wound. Lena’s eyes twitched but she failed to turn her gaze to Alex. ‘Lena,’ Alex repeated, louder this time. ‘Lena!’

Lena’s eyes finally flickered towards her. Alex could see that she didn’t recognize her anymore. It was as if the last few minutes didn’t even happen. She had no idea where she was anymore, why she was lying on the ground. Why she felt so sluggish and indifferent. Why there wasn’t enough air around her to breathe. Why her whole body felt so unnaturally heavy.

 ‘Lena,’ Alex said again, trying to keep the despair out of her voice. ‘Lena, please!’

 A wet, strangled choke left Lena’s throat as her eyes rolled into her head.

 



Chapter Text

She felt like her body was on fire. She knew that as long as it hurt, as long she could feel the pain, she was still alive. But as long as it hurt, there was no escape.

Everyone has a breaking point. She had passed it without even registering it at all. She realized in that moment that a person could die on the inside while her body fights to stay alive, despite all the damage it had endured. Though what good was living if her entire world had been destroyed by the one she loved the most?

She felt shadows passing by her, whispering her name. Some wept with pity, some ridiculed and mocked her. But they were just that: shadows. Hollow, sick shapes, trying to grasp at shreds of a massacred life; pretending to live again, pathetically trying to cover up their hideous wounds, bleeding, torn hearts, their ashen skin. She tried to ignore them but they kept reaching out to her, clawing at her skin, robbing her of the rest she so desperately craved.

Dark. Freezing. Guilt. Blame. Hopelessness. Abandonment.

And yet the one thought that kept echoing in her mind was still ’it’s okay’.

She wasn’t sure who she was trying to convince anymore.


The sharp, sterile order of the OR was tainted with whispers of the inhuman fight between a Super and a Luthor. A Luthor against a Super, that was a narrative as old as time. But the roles had always been reversed. A Luthor sacrificing everything to save a Super – that was something they had trouble comprehending and believing.

’I don’t care what you think you know about Luthors. Lena is part of my family. If I learn that any one of you didn’t do their goddamned best to save her, you can be sure I will make their life a living hell,’ Alex warned the OR staff before pulling off her gloves, still soaked in Lena’s blood. “Save her!’ she yelled at them one last time. She meant to sound commanding, but her voice broke in the middle of the sentence. ‘Save her, please,’ she repeated, quietly, pleading, begging, and hurried out of the OR before they could notice the tears she couldn’t hold back anymore flowing freely.

She heard none of it.


The table was cold against her naked back. Metal objects clattered around her, doctors and nurses shouted over her head, machines beeped as they administered a new dose of anaesthetics again and again. She sensed none of it.

Her clothes were spread on the floor, right where a nurse had thrown them after she'd hastily cut them off. They looked exactly like the blood-soaked gauze patches the doctors kept dropping on the floors, replacing them with new, clean ones, hoping to eventually clear the wound up enough so that they would finally be able to see what they were dealing with.

New squirts of blood gushed from her abdomen as the surgeons desperately tried to locate the source of the bleeding. They had already set up the IVs, and the plastic tubes were dripping saline and blood into her veins, reluctantly carrying life to her each and every cell.

She wasn't aware of her surroundings. She had been unconscious since she'd been lifted out of the chopper. But this was a different kind of senselessness than what she'd felt when she lay comatose in the middle of the street. This was an undisturbed, almost peaceful numbness. There were no flashing images, no horrifying screams and escaped moans of pain ringing in her ears, no harrowing doubt about whether or not Kara would be okay.

There were no thoughts. No doubts, no questions, no hopes. There was nothing but the quiet, soothing void of darkness. It didn't demand that she kept fighting. It didn't ask her to be brave, to not give up. It recognized that she was far beyond what she could take, what she was willing to take, and it accepted her, no matter what she eventually chose: fighting on or giving up. It didn't expect anything of her, and it didn't give her false promises. It simply lingered there. And she was unbelievably grateful for that.

She heard someone tell her that she was going to be okay. If she had heard it, she would have laughed at the irony of that sentence, the very one she kept repeating to Kara between each merciless taunt and blow. As if things could ever be okay now. As if they could ever be okay again.

She barely registered it though. Had she been lucid, it would've crossed her mind how useless it seems to talk to a semi-conscious patient. And yet, hours later, when the sedatives started to wear off, she still remembered those words. But she didn't let herself think about whether this was good news, or it just meant that this hopeless clinging to life was never going to end.


It was the safest she's ever felt. Just lying there, feeling the warmth of the bed, the pureness of her skin that a nurse had cleaned so gently; it was a relief knowing that she was no longer blood, tear, and dirt stained. She was finally able to breathe without feeling a hot pinch whenever her rising chest tried to lift her shirt off the burn wound.

It was so serene. The only sound she could tell apart from the constant beeping and her rumbling thoughts was a loud, monotonous tramping, just outside of her room. It grew louder and louder until it sounded like someone was banging on the door, then it became quieter and quieter, and eventually faded into the dull background. Sometimes it was a furious, desperate stomping and sometimes it was hesitant, hopeless, powerless steps, as if the person pacing outside couldn't decide whether she wanted to run, chase after ghosts and scream, scream and scream, or she wanted to kneel down and beg to whomever was willing to listen.

She still wasn't completely awake; the sedatives had not worn off. She couldn't form coherent thoughts just yet, but somehow she was sure the stomping outside that sometimes calmed, and sometimes unnerved her, was caused by Alex’s boots.

The thought of her stirred something inside her. Guilt. Fear. And burning rage.

She shot her. Kara. Her own sister. With kryptonite. When she was trying to do everything in her power to save her, to help her find a way back to her true self. To protect her from the hell she herself had raised. She knew what kryptonite can do to Kara. And she still shot her. That was not something Lena thought she could ever forgive.

She also remembered how Alex kept begging her to open her eyes, to squeeze her hand, to hold on just a little longer. She said she could take it. Why would she do that to her? She couldn't have had the slightest idea of what it was like. She wasn’t the one looking at her best friend, trying to look strong, for both of them, and yet being terrified because the next blow could come anytime, from anywhere, and there was no way out, nothing to stop the new shock of pain. Blows inflicted by the hands she had spent countless hours watching, seeking out every opportunity to touch them, envelope them in her own, clinging to them as if they were her lifeline. Alex wasn't the one with a broken body and a haunted mind. And yet she demanded that she did not fade out. Why did she have to force her to keep going? It wasn't her place to say anything at all. She should have left her there. She should have let her go.

Her heart rate quickened, panic rose inside of her. The beeping became more rapid, rapid enough for her to notice it even though she had gotten used to it so much that she didn't even hear it anymore. She tried to ignore it, but it kept dragging her back to the present. She longed for the stillness the noise had snatched.

Someone banged on the door, then entered the room and forcibly made his way to the side of her bed. He called her name, asked a question but she didn't care to answer. She didn't even open her eyes. She wanted to be left alone. He pressed a few buttons, adjusted a tube. The noise subdued. He called her name again, then left the room, carefully closing the door behind himself.

Her thoughts were twirling, manifesting in pictures and the pictures mingled with gruesome, grotesque images of hallucinations.

She didn't want to think. She didn't need her thoughts. She longed for the darkness that had embraced her before.

She didn't have to wait long. When the sedative kicked in, she welcomed the void like a lifelong friend.


Kara was sitting facing away from the door, staring out the window, looking but not seeing anything, her shoulders hunched forward in defeat. She barely heard Alex enter.

‘How are you?’ Alex asked softly. Kara didn’t even turn around. She just looked down at the red sun-powered handcuffs. Alex had taken them off earlier, but she desperately wished to have them on again so that her body could feel as powerless as her soul did.

‘Alex, did I… Did I hurt anyone…?’ She finally asked quietly.

Alex looked at her, her eyes full of sorrow. She sat down gently next to Kara.

‘Yes,’ she replied truthfully after a moment. Despite everything, her voice was still full of understanding and love. ‘But no one died. Most of them are more scared than hurt. They’re all gonna be okay.’

‘Most…?’ Kara repeated woefully.

‘Well…’ Alex paused, trying to decide how much Kara could handle. ‘There’s one person who got more seriously injured. But they should be okay too, soon. I’m looking after them personally.’

‘I need to see them, Alex,’ Kara pleaded. ‘I need to apologize. Explain. I need to… I need to…’ she sobbed.

‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea,’ Alex replied softly. ‘We’re keeping them sedated for the moment, so they can heal faster. But even after they wake up, I think you should give them some time.’

Kara looked like she had just been slapped.

‘Of… Of course. I’m so sorry, Alex,’ she sobbed, tears pooling in her eyes.

‘I know,’ Alex said, gently rubbing Kara’s back. ‘They know it too. It’s gonna be okay, Karr. It will take time. But it’s gonna be okay.’

Kara didn’t know why, but that sentence evoked something visceral in her, constricting her chest, making it hard to breath. She turned away from Alex, stared out the window, lost in self-hatred.


She couldn’t stay in bed any longer. She knew she wasn’t back to her full strength yet, but she actually preferred it that way for now. She was terrified of hurting someone and not having her usual strength gave her a sense of safety.

She was wandering around in the DEO aimlessly. She took random turns, avoiding the corridors where people were walking or standing around. She didn’t want to talk to anyone.

She didn’t know how she ended up in the human med bay. She wasn’t even sure where it was, she barely ever went there. It seemed deserted enough, so she decided to go right across. She was hoping to find an empty corridor somewhere or even just a stairwell where she could sit down and just be.

She was passing by empty hospital rooms. It occurred to her that there were people out there, confided to rooms just like the ones she was walking past, and she was the reason they ended up there. She could feel the tears and the nausea appear again.

She finally spotted a huge metal window that she figured would lead to a staircase and headed there. She passed by another set of rooms, all neat and clean. There was only one with the blindfolds down on the window facing the corridor. She peeked in, automatically, not even thinking about it. No other window had the blindfolds down, she just noticed the difference and wanted to know the reason behind it.

It took her a few moments to realize that the room was blocked from view because it was occupied. There was someone lying in the bed in the middle of the room. Someone so small she almost disappeared under the covers. Someone who wasn’t awake but whose face was still just a slightest bit contorted in pain, despite all the medications she was supplied from IV bags and syringe pumps.

Someone Kara knew all too well.

Chapter Text

She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the broken body lying so still in the bed.

Her face was so pale, so inhumanly ashen. And yet it was covered in vivid, colorful bruises. It was as if the contusions were spurts of make-up, carelessly spread across her skin. As if under all the black and green and purple she was still intact, full of life, untouched by whatever macabre darkness had marred her.

Kara found this contrast sickening.

She took in all the wires and tubes attached to the person she was starting to realize she loved the most in the world. The monitors recording her vitals, the syringe pumps, the bags of blood hung on a pole.

And she wanted to scream. She wanted to get hurt, to punch the window, just to have her knuckles bruised; to antagonize someone to the point they beat her up. She wanted her inner turmoil to be replaced with physical pain; that she could bear. But not this, not the sight of her best friend lying motionless in a hospital bed.

’Lena,’ she whispered, broken, defeated, leaning against the window glass, both to try and get closer to her and to support herself. ’Lena…’

Then suddenly she grew nauseous, her muscles tightened in her chest, stealing the air from her lungs and her knees threatened to buckle underneath her.

‘Lena,’ she choked out. ‘Lena, please…’

Then she inhaled sharply, ignoring the pain in her chest, and, as if she’d gone mad, as if her entire world had narrowed down to the damaged figure lying on the bed, she started screaming Lena’s name, over and over again, and nothing mattered anymore but that the last name she utters before she finally collapses is hers, hers, always hers. When she realized that wasn’t going to be enough - enough for what, she didn’t know – she banged her palm against the window, harder and harder, until she was slamming her fist into the glass, again and again, until she finally punched through it, blood flowing down her not yet fully healed hand and all the while, screaming, screaming, screaming her name.

For a moment, it seemed Lena heard her – the monitors went off, beeping in alarm, and Lena’s entire body seemed to curl in on itself, making her even smaller than she already was. Her eyes still closed, her face contorted in fear and pain as she slowly raised her good arm to cover her head, her hand swatting at invisible attackers with weak, feeble motions, twitching every time a new sound penetrated the fog encompassing her brain.

And then rough hands were pulling Kara back, unforgiving arms pushed her to the floor, but she kept trying to break free, kept screaming to reach her somehow, anyhow, until someone covered her mouth and kneeled on her throat. She blinked in surprise, trying to understand why she couldn’t breathe, when she finally blinked away the tears and realized it was Alex kneeling on her, cutting off her air.

‘Will you… stop screaming… for fuck’s… sake?!’ Alex panted, furious, her voice sore from yelling to get Kara’s attention.

Kara stared at her for a moment, confused, eyes wide.

‘If I… let go… Will you be… Quiet?’

Kara slowly nodded. Alex eased her weight off of her and pointed at two DEO agents standing behind them.

‘You two, take her to her recovery room. I’ll be there in a minute.’

Kara let the agents half carry, half drag her body back to her room and sit her down on her bed. She slumped down, lost and scared, waiting for Alex to explain her what was going on.

‘What the fuck was that, Kara?’ Alex asked when she finally entered the room, barely holding her rage back.

Too exhausted to move, Kara just looked at her with eyes begging for Alex to tell her that this was all a nightmare and she was going to wake up and Lena was going to be okay. They were all going to be okay.

‘Alex…,’ she whispered hesitantly, terrified of what this conversation might bring. ‘Alex, what happened to Lena…?’

Alex exhaled slowly, then sat down on the bed, the sorrow and guilt in her features terrifying Kara.

‘Alex, what’s wrong with her? Is she going to be okay?’ Kara pushed forward, the panic in her voice slowly melting into rage. ‘Who did this?! Have you caught them? Please let me get my hands on them… This time, locking them up won’t be enough, Alex. I will give up all Supergirl stands for to feel their body break under my hands.’

She uttered that last sentence with such venom, Alex pulled back involuntarily.

‘Are you scared of me?’ Kara asked quietly, trying to read Alex’s face.

‘No,’ Alex said, slowly composing herself. ‘No, you don’t scare me. But you’ve scared a lot of people, Kara.’

Kara swallowed hard.

‘Is she going to be okay, Alex?’ she asked again, more desperately this time. ‘It seemed like she was having a seizure when I was there…’

‘That wasn’t a seizure, Kara. Her body was instinctively reacting to potential danger around her, she was trying to protect her head and make herself a smaller target.’

‘Danger? But we’re in the DEO. What could she… What could she be so terrified of?’

Alex looked at her, her eyes darker than Kara’s ever seen them.

‘Alex…?’

‘I think you know, what she’s so afraid of,’ Alex finally said softly. Kara suddenly felt like she couldn’t breathe again.

‘No, it can’t, it can’t be me, Alex, it can’t. I only ever tried to protect her… I would never, Alex, I would never, she’s my best friend, she’s a part of our family… Alex, I could never, I would never mean to… Please believe me, please, please…’ The desperate pleas died on her lips as she choked on her tears, sobbing into her hands, covering her face, in guilt, in pain, in shame. Alex just sat next to her, not reaching out to hold her, but not leaving either.

It took a long time until Kara was too exhausted to keep crying. When she looked up, her eyes raw and red and full of self-hatred, Alex almost reached over to hug her and to tell her it was going to be okay. But her anger and guilt didn’t let her move.

‘Is she going to be okay?’ Kara finally asked again, staring down, picking at the cover on the bed.

‘I can’t tell you that,’ Alex replied truthfully. ‘But she will survive. It’s been four days since we brought you both in. She survived the initial surgeries without too many immediate complications, which is a great sign. There’s a burn injury on her chest and we’re keeping her sedated for now, so we can keep her ventilated. But I think we can wean her off of the machine in a few days.’

‘A burn injury?’ Kara asked, choking up again. ‘I… I burned her?’

‘You did a lot of things, Kara. And it’s going to be a long way of recovery for her. Physical injuries – I’m hopeful those will heal.  The specialists really did an amazing job in the OR and for now we’re hoping she won’t have any lasting damage, at least not one that would impair her quality of life. She’ll need extensive physiotherapy and she’ll have quite a few new scars. But mentally, Kara… I have no idea. We all know how fragile she is behind that façade of strength and placidity.’

‘She’s survived so much…’ Kara whispered. ‘And she’s always come out on the other side.’

‘Yes,’ Alex agreed, then fell silent for a moment. Her voice was deep and dark as she added: ‘But I’m not sure what happened isn’t going to be that last push that finally breaks her.’

Kara’s breath hitched and she squeezed her eyes shut against the pain raging in her chest. She felt utterly and completely defeated. She wasn’t sure she could ever get up from her bed again.

‘You know,’ she finally said, wiping at her eyes, staring out the window, unfocused, ‘Lilian once told me Lena will figure out who I am, and she’ll hate me for it. I just… I always thought she meant she’d find out about me being Supergirl. Not about… Not about who I really am, deep down. What I really am.’

Alex sighed.

‘Kara, I don’t believe that was who you really are. At least I’d like to believe it isn’t. But I’m as clueless about how we can move on as you are. So let’s just take it one step at a time. Let me clean up your hand, okay?’

Kara nodded reluctantly and kept staring out the window. Alex got out a med kit, cleaned the wound and dressed it neatly.

‘You’ll have your usual strength back soon enough, then it’ll heal properly.’

Kara whipped her head around.

‘I don’t want my usual strength,’ she said, growing agitated. ‘I am already too strong. Please, Alex, turn the lamps off, or, even better, put the red sun handcuffs back on, please…’

‘Kara, this isn’t the way. I understand, but you need to heal too. There might still be some kryptonite in your system.’

‘Good, I want it to stay there. Or maybe put the kryptonite handcuffs on. Please, Alex, I don’t want to heal, I want to be weak, I want it to hurt. I never want to go back to my superstrength. I don’t deserve it. And it scares me. Alex, I scare myself. Please, let me be weak, let me be in pain.’

Alex looked at her, and her heart ached for both Lena and her sister. She truly had no idea how any of them could ever move on.

 


 

’Ready?’ Alex looked at Doctor Hamilton standing next to her. She nodded. ‘Here we go,’ Alex muttered, taking one last look at Lena, and pushed the ‘pause ventilation’ button on the ventilator.

The line on the screen flattened out and the word ‘apnea’ started flashing at them in aggressive red letters.

‘Come on, Lena,’ Alex whispered, looking at Lena’s still, unmoving chest. ‘Breathe.’

‘Maybe we are rushing this?’ Doctor Hamilton asked hesitantly, staring at the timer on the screen slowly reaching thirty seconds.

‘I don’t think so,’ Alex replied, still looking for any sign of Lena drawing in a breath. ‘Her ABG shows steady and significant improvement, and she’s been triggering the ventilator for a while now.’

‘But she’s still not conscious. Are you sure everyone followed the gradual decrease of anaesthetics you recommended?'

‘Yes.’

‘Then we have to keep searching for a reason as to why she’s still not waking up.’

‘I think I know why that is, but we should discuss that outsi –, ‘ Alex was saying when suddenly Lena’s chest lifted, painfully slowly. The monitor beeped to signal the machine had been triggered and Alex couldn’t stop the relieved sigh escaping her lips as the hiss of oxygen filled the room. ‘Thank god.’

They waited for a few minutes, making sure Lena’s own breathing is sufficient and the machine didn’t need to be turned back on.

‘Excellent,’ Doctor Hamilton said. ‘I’d say we keep the tube throughout the night to make sure she can handle breathing on her own, and then we’ll extubate her.’

‘I agree,’ Alex nodded. She made sure the oxygen level settings were still correct and Lena was still breathing properly, then reached for Lena’s flaccid hand and gently squeezed it.

‘You’re doing amazing, Lena. Just keep breathing, okay? Just keep breathing.’

Alex followed Doctor Hamilton out of the room.

‘You were about to say something in there,’ Doctor Hamilton reminded her. ‘You know why she’s unconscious? Neuroimaging results were clear except for some bruising.’

‘I don’t think it’s somatic,’ Alex said. ‘I examine her at least three times a day. I go through the entire ABCDE algorithm. And it’s always all good until I get to the neurological assessment. I believe she’s resisting me on purpose. Obviously, the endotracheal tube doesn’t allow us to assess her verbal response, but I still believe that her GCS scores haven’t been valid for days. If I call her name, ask her to open her eyes, move a finger – nothing. She does react to painful stimuli. But here’s the weird thing – when I try to pull her eyelids up, she squeezes them shut. She’s actively resisting me.’

‘So you’re thinking…’

‘I believe she is conscious. But she does not want to be.’

 


 

It was early afternoon the next day when Alex returned to Kara’s room. A DEO agent had checked on her in the morning and let Alex know that Kara begged the agent to put the kryptonite handcuffs locked in a lead box in her room on her wrists. When the agent refused, she tore the box open, took the cuffs, ignoring the angry green welts they were burning into her palms, and tried to put them on herself, until enough kryptonite filled her system and she finally collapsed. She hadn’t moved from her bed since then and refused to talk to anyone who entered her room.

Alex expected to find Kara still lying in her bed. She still felt a pang of compassion in her chest whenever she thought of her sister, but she couldn’t ignore the anger and disappointment she felt towards her. It was hard for her to talk to Kara, to even see her. She still loved her, unconditionally, ferociously, but she knew it would be a long while before she could forgive her.

But when Alex entered the room, Kara wasn’t there. She radioed to her colleagues, but no one had seen her.

She looked around the room. The window was open, the box they kept the kryptonite cuffs in was still on the flow, broken in two, but the cuffs were gone. The bed had been made, meticulously, not a loose strand out of place.

And on the other side of the room, on a small bedstand underneath the window, hidden from the doorway by the yellow sun lamps - torn, covered in grime, but folded neatly, as a last goodbye - laid Supergirl’s cape.

 


 

Alex pushed down the rage she felt at Kara’s cowardly exit and headed to Lena’s room. She thanked the nurse watching over Lena and let her go for a break while she stayed with her.

She slid into the room, making sure the way she closed the door wasn’t too loud, but it was loud enough for Lena to register someone was in the room.

‘It’s Alex,’ she said quickly, before a wave of panic could reach Lena. It’s been four days since Kara had smashed through the window, and Alex has been visiting her at least five times a day, but Lena still reacted with visceral panic to the sound of the door closing. She waited until she saw Lena’s muscles relax before she continued. ‘I’m going to examine you again. It’s just a routine check-up, and I’d like to check out your sutures too.’

Lena did not respond. She hasn’t responded to anything directed at her since she had been brought in.

The ET tube had been removed that morning and had been replaced with an oxygen mask. Lena did not seem to need it, but Doctor Hamilton preferred to err on the side of caution.

Alex checked the monitor and was relieved to see that Lena’s vitals were all normal.

‘I hope it’s more comfortable now that the tube is out,’ she said. ‘And I’m really glad we could remove it without any complications, that’s a great sign of you healing.’

She gently uncovered Lena’s body, making sure to still give her as much privacy as possible.

She inspected the sutures in her abdomen, where the surgeons had to remove a piece of her small intestine, shredded into pieces by a glass fragment. The stitches held nicely, with only small spots of redness around them. She’ll live with that scar forever – the surgeons tried, but the bleeding was too great, and they had to prioritize effectiveness over aesthetics. Later, once she’s fully recovered, a plastic surgeon might be able to turn the angry jagged line into something less obtrusive.

She then examined the burn mark on her chest, two perfect circles on either side of her sternum. They proved to be less serious than she’d feared. They were fairly superficial and were going to heal on their own. She had applied topical antimicrobials to them just to be safe.

Then she moved to her arm. Alex was part of that heated debate that took place in the OR when Lena was wheeled in – everyone agreed the abdominal injury took priority, but they couldn’t quite agree whether the compound fracture of her humerus should be fixed at the same time or should they only debride the wound, fix the bone externally and revisit the possibility of surgical fixation later. Alex argued that in polytrauma patients only the life-threatening issues should be solved by surgery right away, and everything else should wait til the patient is stable enough. The orthopaedic surgeon argued that it would be better if Lena didn’t have to go through two different surgeries and that by proper debridement and using antimicrobial screws the possibility of infection would be lower than with external fixation. He turned out to be right – Alex checked the arm underneath the cast every day, just like she did now, and there was no sign of infection. Looking back, she was thankful that Lena was spared a second time in the OR.

Then she took her seat next to Lena’s bed. She’s spent so much time in that chair, she might as well have it engraved with her name now.

She looked at Lena’s face. The bruises on her cheek and jaw, the small split in her lip, already scarring over. The cut on her forehead, neatly stitched up, covered by Steri-Strips.

She leaned over Lena to swipe a lock of hair out of her face when she noticed a tiny streak of dried blood. She sighed mournfully, then she got up and retrieved a small sponge from a drawer. She wetted it at the sink, then returned to her seat at Lena.

‘I’m just gonna clean off a smudge, okay?’ She whispered, before she gently wiped at Lena’s hairline. The small flinch running through Lena’s features went unnoticed.

Alex made sure there was no trace of blood anywhere, before she patted her face dry and sat back in her place.

‘Lena,’ Alex started softly, slowly running her thumb across the back of Lena’s limp hand, over and over again. ‘I can’t imagine the pain you are in now. We can help with the physical part, but we can only try to numb the psychological part. We’re doing everything we can on our end. I had specialists flown in, and I’m here too, every single day. Sometimes nights too. We all believe you will make a full recovery, at least when it comes to your body. But I will help you with everything else too. I won’t leave your side unless you send me away. Because, although the fight is over, I think in this case, it’s still important to take sides. And I am on your side, Lena. Fiercely, relentlessly.’

Alex took a deep breath, and she took Lena’s hand in her own.

‘But Lena, I need you to do your part. It doesn’t matter what we do over here if you don’t try to meet us halfway. We need you to… I need you to start coming back to us. I know you can hear me; I know you’re here. I also know you don’t want to be. But Lena, you could recover. You just need to try, you just need to want it. And then you can go and leave us and never look back. I wouldn’t blame you. In fact, if you want, I’ll help you leave. But you have to get better first. Please, Lena.’

Alex almost gasped, when she felt the lightest squeeze around her hand.

‘There you go,’ she whispered, tears of relief filling her eyes. ‘There you go, Lena. It’s time to wake up.’

Chapter Text

Alex watched silently, waiting for Lena to react, to move, to open her eyes. But she remained still, hanging onto Alex’s hand as if it was her lifeline.

‘It’s time to wake up, Lena,’ Alex repeated, so softly it was barely audible.

A tear slipped out from underneath Lena’s still tightly closed eyelid, traveling down the bruises on her face. Alex sighed, certain that she wouldn’t get any more of a reaction, but she only had to wait a few moments before Lena’s lips slowly parted.

‘Please don’t make me,’ she whispered finally, her voice hoarse and weak from the breathing tube.

Alex felt her heart break.

‘I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to, Lena,’ she said quietly. ‘But you need to get better. I need you to get better. Please…’

‘I don’t… want to…’ Lena said, more to herself than to Alex. ‘Please don’t… Make me… Face it.’

Alex breathed in deeply to try and calm her heart beating out of her chest. She’s only ever known Lena as the uncompromising CEO running L-Crop on her own, the scientist overseeing countless groundbreaking research programs, the woman who loves her sister more than her life and is willing to risk everything for her. As someone who only asked for help after she exhausted all her options and who always made so sure people knew nothing could get to her.

But seeing her lying there, so broken, inside and out, Alex could see none of that. Without her usual bravado, Lena seemed so small, so vulnerable that Alex felt she was prying into her innermost secrets, witnessing a side of Lena she never meant to show anyone.

‘Lena… I can only try to understand how you’re feeling right now. I’m not saying you have to get up and face everything. We can just stay here, the two of us. We can talk, or just sit in silence, whatever you’d prefer. We’re leaving the world locked out for now,’ Alex promised. ‘But I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on. And you can let me in on only the physical part, if that’s what you want. Just so I know how you’re feeling, and I can adjust your meds accordingly, or make sure you can move if your body gets sore or call a specialist if you need it,’ Alex said, hoping that Lena understood that she did not expect her to talk about what happened just yet. ‘I’m here for everything else too. And I will continue to be. But just know that there’s no pressure, no rush. We’re going to do everything the way you feel safe.’

Alex watched as tears chased after tease on Lena’s face. Then Lena finally opened her eyes, slowly, as if her muscles had forgotten how to contract. She blinked a few times until her eyes adjusted to the light, then she looked over at Alex.

‘Hey there,’ Alex said, so relieved she couldn’t keep the grin from her face. ‘It’s nice to see you again.’

‘Hey,’ Lena tried to smile back but her lips only twitched.

‘I missed you, Lena,’ Alex said so sincerely, Lena had no idea how to react. She never expected Alex to care so much about her and she found it hard to believe she would be so concerned for her. But there she was, sitting firmly in the chair Lena knew she’d been sitting in for a long time. And she did not make a move to leave, did not let her gaze wander, did not allow her mind to drift away. She was looking at Lena with such intensity, that Lena couldn’t help but believe that she really only cared about her in that moment. ‘I’m gonna go get you some water, okay? Should help with your throat.’

Lena nodded gratefully. Alex made sure to open and close the door in a way that she didn’t move too fast, but Lena still couldn’t see or hear anyone outside, roaming around in further parts of the DEO. She meant her promise – the outside worlds stayed outside for now.

When she came back, she had a bottle of water in her hand.

‘So,’ she said, as she retrieved a scalpel from a shelf. ‘Turns out we do not have straws in the DEO. I think it’s probably against our policy, with us being such badasses, you know.’ The shadow of a faint smile on Lena’s made Alex’s heart swell. ‘However, you have to take it slow, so I’m about to MacGyver the shit out of this bottle.’

Lena watched as Alex made a small incision on the cap of the bottle with the scalpel. The she opened a bag of IV tubing, cut a piece of the tube and pushed it through the hole in the cap.

‘There we go,’ she said, walking over to Lena. ‘Not very classy but hey, at least it’s creative.’

She helped position Lena’s pillow and helped her lift her head enough so she could sip from the bottle.

‘I don’t… need help,’ Lena said in defiance between sips.

‘I would never think you do,’ Alex agreed as she continued helping Lena hold up her head and holding the bottle.

‘You know,’ Alex said when Lena finally laid back. ‘I think we should agree that the principle of our relationship is that neither of us needs help. Ever. And if we happened to need it, which would actually never happen, then we would never ask for it. Okay?’ Lena frowned, then nodded, still confused. ‘Great. Now that we got that out of the way, we can work together. Others might say that’s the same as helping each other. They might even think that I just helped you drink. Let them say what they want. We know the truth. You drank and I was just supporting the bottle and the two are in no way connected. We’re two badass, terrifyingly independent women who’d never show weakness. Because we do not have any weaknesses. Okay?’

Lena smiled again for a moment. Alex winked at her, then sat back down next to the bad. Lena took a moment to look at her, to study her face. She noticed the blanket folded neatly beneath the chair, making her think that Alex had spent nights by her bed.

‘Why?’ she asked eventually, her voice still hoarse.

‘Why what?’ Alex looked back at her, confused.

‘Why are you… here?’

‘Oh,’ Alex said. ‘I’m your doctor. Well one of your doctors anyway.’

‘I understand… that… But why… do you stay… with me?’

Alex looked at her sadly, considering her answer.

‘Because you matter to me, Lena. You’re a friend I never knew I needed. I’m not sure I ever told you that you inspire me. Your genius, your persistence, your fierceness, all without pretense or self-righteousness – it all makes me want to be better,’ Alex shrugged. ‘And… I can’t make what happened any better. But I can make things better now. Or at least I can try. And I’d really like to try.’

Lena never heard Alex talk like that. So openly, so trustfully. Usually, she seemed to be just as guarded as Lena was. She had no idea what to say. This shared vulnerability - it made her uncomfortable. She hated that all she could do was lie in bed. She hated that she needed help even to drink. And she hated having anyone see her like this. So fragile, so weak. But most of all, she hated that she was so, so tired she couldn’t even keep up her usual front of calm and cool.

But if she had no choice but be vulnerable, she might as well go all in.

‘How is she?’ she finally asked, avoiding Alex’s gaze.

Alex sighed.

‘She’s okay. A few days under the sunlamp healed her almost completely. But she didn’t stay there long enough to heal fully. She said she didn’t want her powers back,’ she paused, unsure if talking about Kara won’t just bring more pain to Lena. ‘She was hysterical. She kept asking about you. I don’t really know what to say. Because I don’t want to make any excuses for her. But she’s terrified of what she’s done to you. And of herself, that she was capable of… This,’ she said, sickened, looking at Lena’s body.

‘I wouldn’t blame you… if you went to be with her,’ Lena said quietly. ‘I’m sure she needs you.’

Alex couldn’t help noticing how Lena avoided saying Kara’s name.

‘Yes,’ she admitted. ‘I think she does. But my place is here with you. At least for now. Not just because I would have never let you wake up alone. But also because I can’t be there for her now. I’m too angry. I don’t want to lie to you - I will help her once I feel I can at least try to forgive her. But I can’t just yet.’

Alex looked out the window, trying to dampen the intensity of her emotion. When she finally looked back at Lena, her voice was full of sorrow.

‘Lena, what you did… Standing up to her… You saved a lot of lives. I can’t thank you enough for that. But… I can’t understand why you did that. You must have known how dangerous that was. And even after all she’s done to you, you tried to protect her when I shot her with kryptonite. And I know… I know you love her. But I can’t comprehend why you’d do that. I thought you’d wish she was dead.’

’I believe there’s a fairly obvious… explanation for that. Your gun… I had no idea… how strong it was. How much… it would hurt her,’ Lena looked at her indifferently. ‘The world can do… without a Luthor... It would be better off… without a Luthor. But they need Supergirl.’

’That’s just not true,’ Alex said defiantly. ‘The world needs you just as much as her. You’re just as important as Supergirl.’

’We both know that’s… not true,’ Lena said plainly, then tried to clear her throat. ’Everyone would… take her life over mine. Everyone.’ She paused for a second and looked down at her hands resting in her lap. ’Including me,’ she said, her voice barely audible. ’And that’s not only understandable… it’s also right.’

Alex’s face hardened.

‘It isn’t, Lena. It’s not right. And it isn’t understandable. I know you’ve spent so, so many years trying to finally make people believe that you are good. We should have seen it from the beginning. I’m so sorry you had to work so hard to convince us. But you are. Good. You are good, Lena. And you need to believe it too. What you’ve done, it’s admirable,’ Alex paused. ‘And so is what you’re doing now. I never would have expected anyone to care about what happened to Supergirl after all that went down. But despite how angry and hurt you must be, here you are, asking about whether she’s okay. I can’t imagine the strength that takes.’

‘It’s not… strength,’ Lena shrugged. ‘I just… I’m not angry, Alex. I… I don’t feel anything. I spent years… practicing how to compartmentalize. Lock everything hurtful… in little boxes, so I never… have to see them, never… have to feel them. So now… I just don’t feel anything…’ She swallowed hard. ‘Except pain. Alex… there’s so much pain,’ she whispered, tears appearing in her eyes.

Alex reached out, squeezing Lena’s hand.

‘I know,’ she said quietly. ‘I know. And I am so sorry. I’ll go up your morphine.’

 


 

Lena has been doing her best to ignore the figure hovering outside her window, trying very hard to stay out of her field of vision. Supergirl’s cape was gone, Kara was only wearing her old jeans and button-downs. The air of invincibility that always seemed to surround her had disappeared with her costume.

Lena could feel the lock on her little boxes coming loose. She couldn’t afford to wait til they broke and her emotions flooded her. Her armor had been chipping away since she first saw Kara outside the window, and she was scared if this went on for too long, she’d break down and wouldn’t be able to do what she knew needed to be done.  She needed to protect herself.

‘I can see you out there,’ she finally said forcing her voice to seem impatient, bunching up her blanket so she had something to hold on to. ‘Either leave or do what you came to do but stop hovering out there.’

‘Can I come in?’ Kara asked, hesitantly, floating closer to the window.

‘I can’t stop you from doing anything, can I,’ Lena replied bitterly. Hurt and guilt flashed across Kara’s face. She pushed in the window gently and floated into the room. She couldn’t help noticing how Lena’s heart was beating way too fast.

‘Are you scared of me?’ Kara asked softly.

‘No,’ Lena said defiantly, locking eyes with Kara.

‘I can hear your heart racing,’ Kara said quietly. Lena’s lips tightened.

‘Could you please stop violating my privacy just for a minute?!’ she asked furiously.

‘I’m sorry,’ Kara said quickly. ‘My ear is tuned into your heartbeat, I’m always listening for it,’ she explained softly.

Lena scoffed.

‘Where’s your costume? With that pretentious symbol on it? How are people supposed to know that you’re their hero now?’

 ‘Supergirl is gone. She’s gone. I can’t do it anymore. And I don’t deserve putting that cape on again.’ Kara said quietly, staring at the floor. ‘ I… I just wanted to check on you. See how you’re doing.’

Lena looked up and down her body pointedly.

‘I’m doing great, thank you,’ she said sarcastically.

‘I’m so sorry Lena,’ Kara whispered, her voice breaking, tears filling her eyes. ‘I am so, so sorry.’

‘Well doesn’t that just make everything right.’

Kara swallowed hard and tried to blink her tears away.

‘I wish I could take it all back… I wish…’

‘But you can’t,’ Lena interjected.

‘No,’ Kara said, staring at the floor. ‘No, there’s no taking it back. I still wish… Alex told me you threw yourself over me when she shot me with kryptonite. As if you were trying to protect me. I just wanted to say… That I know I didn’t deserve that. And that you should never, ever try to protect someone if it endangers you. Never,’ she repeated, looking at Lena, her voice full of an intensity of self-loathing it felt all too familiar to Lena. ‘No one is worth putting yourself in danger. Especially not me.’

‘It’s called basic human decency. Human decency. Not something I would expect you to understand. You are a god, after all, you said so yourself,’ Lena spat. ‘How lonely it must be. Looking down at us from so high. How pathetic we all most seem to you. Like unworthy insect crawling around underneath you. Like ants you can just step on and obliterate.’

‘I never…’

‘Remember when I asked you how long it would take for you to come after me? I guess now we know.’

‘I didn’t go after you…’

‘No, not specifically,’ Lena agreed. ‘But you didn’t stop when I stood in front of you either, did you.’

‘Lena, If you ever… If you could ever give me another chance… I’ll wait as long as it takes…’

‘I’ve given you so many chances, Supergirl. You threw them all back in my face. With every lie you told, every fake smile you flashed. Fool me once… But I let you fool me a hundred times. Shame on me for believing in you when everything in me screamed to run in the opposite direction.’

Kara choked back her tears and she turned to the window, ready to fly away.

Lena looked up at her suddenly, her eyes narrowing. ‘Alex said?’ she asked slowly. Her jaw tensed as the realization dawned on her. ‘You don’t remember. You don’t remember anything.’

Kara turned back slowly.

‘No… But Alex told me everything.’

‘You don’t remember…’ Lena repeated, incredulous. ‘Well. How easy that must be for you. You just don’t remember. You know what Alex told you. You see me lying here, you see me hooked up on morphine, with all these new scars, you see the aftermath of your rage. But you don’t really feel it all, do you? You can’t, not if you don’t remember.’

‘I do…’ Kara started but Lena interrupted her.

‘No, Kara. You might understand that you did something bad. But I’m the one who has to live with these memories.’

Kara squeezed her eyes shut. Her heart felt like an iron fist was squeezing it, tighter and tighter until she could barely breath.

‘Do you wish me dead, Lena?’ she asked finally, her voice barely a whisper. ‘Because I do. I wish you didn’t try to protect me. That Alex’s gun was strong enough to kill me. To end it all.’

Lena looked at her for a moment, her features hard, her jaw locked. But no matter how much she’d closed herself off, she still wasn’t able to say what Kara expected to hear.

‘No,’ she sighed eventually. ‘I don’t think I could ever wish that. But I do wish you didn’t have your powers. Because you can’t be trusted with them. You don’t deserve them. And I wish… God, I wish we never met.’

Kara couldn’t hold back the agonized gasp escaping her lips. Lena wishing she was dead, that she could deal with. But Lena wanting to completely erase her from her life, without a trace.. Somehow that was even worse.

‘Lena, I… I understand. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. And not just because…’ she tried to find the words but then she just let the words she’s been holding back flow out. ‘I love you, Lena. I love you.’

‘Don’t you dare, Kara,’ Lena hissed. ‘Don’t you dare. I know. I’ve known for a while. And I loved you too. At least I thought I did. But it turned out the person I loved doesn’t exists. I never even knew who you were. I fell in love with a lie, isn’t that funny,’ she chuckled bitterly. ‘Not to be too melodramatic but you know how they say ‘I would take a bullet for you, only to find out you’re the one holding the gun? I always thought that meant giving the person you love too much power over you, letting them so close to you they can hurt you, cut you deeper than anyone ever could. But it turns out, it can happen literally. Because I was ready to take a bullet for you. Or at least for the person I believed you to be. But you were actually ready to kill me.’ Lena sucked in a sharp breath, triggering a wave of pain in her abused lungs. ‘And now you dare to say you love me? Now? It took you almost killing me to realize that. And now you finally know,’ she said resentfully, staring at nothing, feeling every bit of injury in her damaged body. When she finally looked back at Kara, her eyes were defiant, her tone final. ‘But now you lost me.’

‘Lena, please,’ Kara begged, tears flowing down her cheeks freely.

‘Stop. Just stop. Save your tears for someone who cares. I can barely stomach looking at you. Leave. Now. And never come back to me,’ she said, her voice laced with venom. ‘What you’ve done is unforgivable. The next time we’ll talk, it will be in hell.’

 


 

Days passed. Lena was slowly getting better. She was finally able to sit for a while, even stand up, and walk for almost a few minutes with the help of her physiotherapist. It didn’t seem like much, and it just made Lena incredibly frustrated, but it was progress.

But that was the only progress Alex had to show for those last few days.

She was sitting home that night, the light of her bedside lamp barely illuminating her place. She was nursing a bottle of scotch contemplating what she should do next.

She finally decided to call Kara. Again. No answer.

She threw her phone it the wall in exasperation. She’d been trying to reach Kara for two days now, but she never picked up her phone.

She walked to her balcony and opened the window wide.

‘I know you can hear me,’ she finally yelled out at night sky. ‘I believed you had more integrity than this. This is what cowards do, Kara. You can’t keep hiding forever.’

She waited for a few minutes for the familiar sound of Kara’s flying. But there was nothing, just the sound of people and cars passing by down on the street.

Her anger had slowly dissipated in the last days. She wasn’t sure if it was ever going to fully go away but now at least she could see clearly enough to understand how much Kara must need her.

So she downed the last of her scotch, picked up her jacket and headed out to find her.

Kara wasn’t in the alien bar. Or in her favorite spot in the park. Or at CatCo, hiding in the dark offices. And no one’s seen her for a week now.

She could only think of two more places. The Fortress of Solitude, but she’d have needed a way to fly there and she didn’t want to ask for one at the DEO, or to ask for J’onn’s help. So she decided to check out the one last spot she could think of.

The security guard greeted her friendly at L-Corp’s entrance.

‘Have you seen Kara Danvers?’ Alex asked, just to be sure, although she thought if Kara was there, she would have flown.

‘Yes, actually,’ the guard answered. ‘She came to pick up some paperwork for Ms. Luthor, a few days ago.’

‘How long was she here?’

‘I’m not sure, must have been a while because I didn’t see her leave before my shift was over.’

Alex frowned.

‘I… I actually need to pick up some… paperwork too. For Ms. Luthor.’

‘Of course,’ the guard smiled. ‘Do you have your pass, or do you need me to call the elevator for you?’

‘No, I’m fine. Thank you,’ Alex said. The guard nodded and stepped aside to allow Alex to enter.

Alex took the elevator to the highest floor, to Lena’s office. Lena’s assistant was gone, and the office door was locked, but a locked door never stopped Alex Danvers.

‘Kara?’ she called out from the doorway. The office was dark, no sign of anyone having been there for days. But then she noticed the door to the balcony was slightly ajar.

Kara was sitting on the rail of the balcony, the blanket Lena keeps in her office in case she needed to spend the night there, draped around her shoulder.

‘Kara,’ Alex called her name again as she stepped out onto the balcony. ‘Kara?’

‘It smells like her,’ Kara said quietly, pulling the blanket tighter around her, as she kept staring out into the night.

‘Have you been here this whole time?’ Alex asked, trying to keep the anger from her voice. Kara remained silent. ‘Kara, you can’t just disappear.’

‘I wish I could,’ she whispered out to the night sky. ‘How is she? Lena?’

‘She’s getting better. She’s making real progress. She could even walk for a few minutes today.’

‘A few minutes,’ Kara echoed, her voice so hopeless, Alex couldn’t help but feel an unexpected surge of love for her.

‘We knew it was gonna be a long way, Kar. But she is getting better. And she’s gonna get there.’

‘I’m so sorry,’ Kara choked, unable to hold back her sobs anymore. ‘I am so, sorry. I never meant to… I love her, Alex, so much’ she said, her voice so broken, it cut Alex. ‘How could I ever do that to someone I love?’ What if I did that to you? What if I hurt you, like I hurt her?’

Alex stepped closer to her. Close enough to notice the faint green line flashing through Kara’s face.

‘Kara?’ Alex asked, worry clouding her face. ‘Where are the kryptonite cuffs?’

‘They help keep me grounded,’ Kara replied quietly. She dug her nails into her wrist, drawing blood. The pain brought a moment of relief, but it wasn’t nearly enough to quiet the thoughts rushing in her mind.

Alex looked at her, her eyes full of sorrow.

‘Kara… I am still angry at you. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. You are my sister. I’ll always love you.’

‘I don’t deserve it,’ Kara muttered, tears appearing in the corners of her eyes. ‘I don’t deserve to have people to love me. To even care about me. And I don’t deserve to love anyone.’

She dug her nail into the inner side of her wrists again, making Alex wince in pain. The blood slowly dripping on Kara’s wrist was a sight all too familiar.

‘Of course you do,’ Alex said, trying to keep her voice from shaking. ‘You’ve done amazing things. And you will do amazing things. I believe that with my whole heart.’

‘I don’t want to, Alex,’ Kara choked, digging her nails in again and again, deeper and deeper but she could never reach the relief she was longing for. Nothing could take her mind off of the single image of Lena lying in an ICU bed, after she beat her, abused her, broke her. And she’d tried everything. She’d drunk herself senseless. She‘d taken a fistful of pills the bartender at the alien bar promised would knock her out for days, but her biology won even over the pills. She’d instigated fights with the most powerful aliens she could find in the city. She’d had them beat her, again and again, the kryptonite cuff pulsing on her wrist all along. But the cuffs weren’t enough. It took longer, but she still healed. The pain in her body still went away. But the pain in her heart never did.

‘I just don’t want to do anything anymore,’ Kara whispered. She pulled herself closer to the edge of the balcony. ‘I simply don’t deserve to be here.’

Alex bit down on her lips, looking down at the street in the distance.

’That street is really far down,’ she said.

‘What?’ Kara asked, her eyes filling with tears. She didn’t know someone could cry so much. She thought even tears had to run out eventually.

‘That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? I see that you have kryptonite in your system, Kara. I know you had to take the elevator to get up here. And I know what would happen if you jumped. You made sure you couldn’t fly even if you tried.’

‘No, that’s not… Alex,’ Kara finally looked at her sister, her eyes begging. ‘Please, Alex. I don’t deserve to have you here. I don’t know how you can still look at me. Because even I can’t look at myself anymore. This city deserves someone better. And Lena, she deserved so, so much better. So, please… Please just go.’

Alex crossed her arms in front of herself, standing her ground firmly.

‘If you jump, I jump,’ she said defiantly.

’You can’t,’ Kara whispered, horrified.

’Of course I can. You know I can’t live without you. I won’t. And besides, if I jump, I trust you to catch me, like you’ve done before, even if you can barely fly. And then you’ll have to reach the ground safe and sound.’

’I can just come right back up here,’ Kara muttered.

’And you’d jump while I’m watching? Because I’m not leaving, no matter how many times you ask. And I don’t believe you’d be that cruel to me.’

Kara tried to hold it all in. She’d come here, determined to go through with her plan. But she hadn’t counted on Alex showing up.

She collapsed onto the balcony as sobs wrecked her body. Nothing seemed to be worth it anymore. She didn’t even know it was possible to feel such intense guilt, such all-consuming self-hatred. She couldn’t see from her tears, couldn’t here from her own cries of agony. She was hyperventilating, her heart hammered out of her chest, her limbs grew numb.  And all she could think about was that she deserves to feel the way she felt that exact moment for the rest of her life.

Alex was looking down at her, and it took everything in her to choke back her own tears at the sight of Kara curled up at her feet, so defeated, so broken, so lost.

Alex took a deep breath and crouched down next to Kara. She reached out for her hand and squeezed it, harder and harder, until Kara finally felt it and looked up at her, tears hanging from her lashes.

‘I love you, Kara. I need you to hear me. I love you. I love you.’

‘Please,’ Kara whispered. ‘Stop, please.’

‘I won’t stop. I love you, Kara. I love you.’

‘You can’t. No one can,’ Kara sobbed. ‘Please… Just leave.’

Alex reached under Kara’s chin and forced her to look back up at her.

‘I am not leaving you, Kara. Never,’ she said as she sat down, pulled Kara closer and covered her with Lena’s blanket. Kara hesitated for a second, then buried her face in Alex’ shirt and Alex held her tight as she continued to sob. They sat there on Lena’s balcony, for god knows how long, Alex running her fingers through Kara’s hair, until Kara was so exhausted she fell asleep. But even then Alex never stopped whispering ‘I love you. I love you.’

 

Chapter Text

Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

Kara had promised to stay away from Lena. A promise that shattered her heart and scorched her soul, but a promise she tried her best to keep. She made that promise because she loved her – and it killed her, because she loved her. She tried not to acknowledge the painful irony in that.

But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t help still listening for her heart, a rhythm she felt resonate in her own heart. It was like trying to forget a song you listen to when you need to escape, a melody to hide in when everything’s falling apart. An anchor in the eye of a raging storm, a constant reassurance that even when the world is torn into pieces around you, there is something that still tethers you to the ground.

And now something was very wrong with that rhythm; it’s become too fast, too harsh, too wild, like a sudden, unexpectant note in the melody that hurt her ears.

The need to run to Lena, to fly to her to make sure that note can be fixed, to make sure the melody returned to one she’d grown to love, the one that meant she was okay, was overwhelming.

But she’d promised. She’d promised.

So she closed her window, a symbol of closing her ears, her heart. But the rhythm still beat inside her.

She reached into the drawer she’d kept the kryptonite cuffs in, trying to dampen her powers, trying to take away the mere possibility of flying right where she felt she needed to be.

But even that wasn’t enough. The rhythm, so off, still echoed in her head. But she'd promised.

So she reached for her phone, dialed Alex and prayed that she picked up right away.

She didn’t. Kara counted each ring that went unanswered, growing more and more anxious with each one.

‘Kara?’ Alex answered finally, after what felt like hours. Kara thought she heard yelling in the distance. ‘Is this an emergency?’

‘Yes. Alex, I need your help,’ Kara rushed to get out the words as fast as possible. ‘Something’s wrong with Lena.’

‘What…’ Alex started but the sentence was interrupted by a sudden thud. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Her heartbeat is off. It’s too fast, too erratic. I need you to check on her. Please…’

‘Kara, this really isn’t the best time,’ Alex panted. ‘I’m running an op right now.’ Another thump, then a yelp of pain in the background. ‘Serves you right,’ Alex murmured, before returning her attention to Kara. ‘Look, that can be caused by a bunch of things, most of them completely benign. She was fine when I saw her a few hours ago. I’ll check on her as soon as I get back, okay?’

‘No, no, this can’t wait!’ Kara felt like she could scream.

‘I’m really sorry but there’s no one at the DEO right now who could check on her. I’m sure she’s gonna be fine.’ Gunshots rapped in the distance.

‘Alex…’

‘I really have to go, Kara. She’s gonna be fine.’

Kara stared at her phone as the ‘call ended’ sign flashed across the screen. She felt tears of frustration prickling her eyes.

She’d promised.

But when fear won over guilt, she knew she couldn’t keep that promise.

She shot out the window and flew towards the DEO. The moment she got close enough to see through Lena’s window, she pulled up and just floated there in the sky, trying to keep as much distant between her and the window as possible.

Lena seemed to be asleep, lying almost motionless in bed.

Kara felt like a voyeur. Like a creepy stalker, who can't take no for an answer. This was the one thing Lena wanted from her and she denied her even that. 

But she had to be sure Lena was okay. If she was in danger, and Kara knew about it but did nothing, she would have never forgiven herself. 

Not being able to forgive herself was kind of becoming a recurring theme in Kara's life. 

She checked the numbers monitoring Lena’s vitals, screaming in alarming red. She surveyed the room for any potential threat but found none. She then checked the PCA by Lena’s bed – her last bolus of morphine was about an hour ago. Alex had said she didn’t really need it anymore and used it only to help her fall asleep.

Lena’s pain was under control, there was no immediate danger threatening her. Kara made sure the angry line of stitches crossing Lena’s abdomen was intact, there was no sign of infection or internal bleeding. As far as she could see, she really was fine.

She felt relieved; but then the weight of her guilt over breaching her promise resurfaced with such vehemency it made her nauseous. She turned around to fly away, as far and as fast as possible.

A whimper of her name stopped her cold.

She turned back, cocking her head to the side to listen for any sound coming from the DEO building.

And she heard her name again.

Kara.

Lena was still lying as still as a statue, as if even in sleep she maintained perfect self-control. But the whimpers broke free, spilled out as if Lena’s fears had overflown.

The stillness had confused her, but Kara knew nightmares all too well not to recognize them.

Kara. Kara, please don’t…

Kara felt the air knocked out of her chest. She had no idea a heart could break so many times, could be shattered again and again, leaving behind jagged shards that burned her chest with every breath she drew, but somehow still remaining in place, just to taunt her, just to hurt her.

Her mind flashed back to standing on the ledge, kryptonite cuffs glowing in the room behind her, longing for the vast void underneath her feet.

It’s either that or leaving this city forever. Maybe even the country. The continent. The planet. She’ll find another planet, one without a yellow sun, without power and feelings. One where she can’t hurt anyone.

Kara, please… Please don’t leave me... 

The air has suddenly become heavier around her. Was Lena having a nightmare about her leaving? Was this some twisted dream, one where she not only hurt Lena by attacking her, but by leaving her there, to bleed out, to writhe in pain, to die alone?

She felt like she was about to throw up. Then, driven by pure instinct, she blew a gush of cold air toward the room, and when the soft rattle of the windowpane drew Lena from the terrifying images torturing her mind, she only lingered around for another agonizing minute to make sure Lena’s heartbeat finally returned to normal. Then she turned around, flew home, tore the drawer open and gripped the green cuffs like a lifeline, until the burn in her veins chased away the last of her powers and she collapsed onto the floor, exhausted, with no thoughts, no feelings; nothing but pain in her mind.

And that was why she couldn't hear the soft ruffle of sheets as Lena slowly turned towards the window, rubbing the last dregs of the nightmare of Kara walking away from her from her eyes; and that was why she couldn't hear the whisper Lena sent out to the night sky, like a prayer:

I wanted you to feel the same pain I did. I thought that'd make me feel safer, like I had power over you too… But now I just feel your pain along mine. If you still think we have a chance… Come back. Please. Let's figure this out together.