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Of Love we are Worthy

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August 7th 2017

 

It was a sunny day in National City.

Summer had arrived in full force and various businesses were temporarily closed due to the heat. There had actually been a brief spell of rain during the afternoon (the first form of precipitation in over two months), but now the scorching temperatures had returned, causing the many abandoned offices in town to turn into giant ovens. One of the few businesses that couldn’t quite afford to take a break was L-Corp; since they were at the forefront of funding the reconstruction of the city after the Daxamite invasion and Lillian Luthor’s assault just two weeks after that. Lena Luthor had spent the last two months making sure that they did just that, not only out of a feeling of moral obligation, but also because she was pretty sure that if they didn’t do their part, Kara would soon drop to the ground out of pure exhaustion trying to reconstruct the whole damn city by herself.

Lena was currently in her office, sweat sticking to her despite the air conditioning, while her mood was a stark contrast to the sunny disposition of the weather. She was ticking her nails on her desk while pressing her phone to her ear, as she stared intently at the link a certain idiot had just sent her.

“Hey! Lena!” the voice on the other end sounded. “What’s up?”

“Winn, what am I looking at?” Lena grumbled.

Winn fell quiet for a moment. “Is that a riddle?” he asked confused. “Because it’s a pretty unfair one, I must say. It’s like what Bilbo pulled when he-”

“It’s a legitimate question,” Lena interrupted through gritted teeth. “A guy with your hacking skills should have better things to do than find a way around my spam filters, so I’ll ask again: what the hell am I looking at?”

“Oh!” Winn laughed as he apparently seemed to catch on. “You mean the link I sent you? Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory, right?”

Lena sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, because she really had better things to do. “There is nothing self-explanatory about some people doing a song and dance with puppets! For your information; I hate musicals! So what’s the point of sending me this?!”

“First of all; I’m pretty sure that ‘hating musicals’ is some sort of horrendous disease and you should definitely have that looked at.” He chuckled, while Lena rolled her eyes. “And about the link, it’s just like the song says: If you were gay… that would be okay!”

There was a sudden cracking sound, as the pen in Lena’s hand bent beyond repair. “I’m not gay!!” she exclaimed. “Why would you say that?!”

“I’m not dumb, I see things,” Winn chirped in a way too cheerful tone, causing Lena’s frustration to increase exponentially. “It wasn’t that hard to put together, really. After the whole strawberry thing, I started thinking back about you and Kara and it just kind of made sense that-”

“There is no strawberry thing!!” Lena snapped, feeling more embarrassed by the second.

“You want me to call it something else? I mean, it’s really not a problem since inventing great names is kind of my thing, BOSS.”

“I’m not your boss.”

“No, no, you’re the BOSS; the Benevolent Overlord Saving Spectres.”

Lena groaned loudly as she hung her head down. “I’m not in the mood for this, Winn. I’m not a hero and even if I was, BOSS would still be a silly name.”

“Okay… rude,” Winn grumbled. There was a moment of silence on his end. “Are you sure this is about the name?” Winn suddenly questioned. “Or are you still mad about that mistake we made after your birthday party?”

Lena straightened up, her eyebrows raising in disbelief. “The mistake we made?! It was your fault!!”

“Oh, come on! How was I supposed to know that he was just a guy that had escaped the psych ward and not a ghost?”

“BECAUSE YOU COULD SEE HIM!!”

“Well, yeah, exactly: I was in shock! I thought your ability had somehow rubbed off on me! I was already imagining great names that we could call ourselves as a superhero duo!” Lena shook her head, puzzled how a guy that smart could sometimes be so dumb. “Oh crap,” Winn muttered. “I have to go. Alex is giving me the death stare, I’m pretty sure she’s figured out this isn’t a work-related conversation. We’ll talk about the Kara thing later, okay?”

“There’s nothing to talk ab-”

A beeping sound signalled that the man had already hung up and Lena sighed as she put her phone down, before burying her face in her hands. It was uncanny how Winn had the ability to deduce her deepest secrets with virtually no information. First the whole seeing ghosts thing, and now the Kara thing.

Oh… great. Now she was calling it ‘the Kara thing’ too.

Lena sighed and rested her chin on one hand as she let her eyes go over her newly refurnished office from where she was sitting behind her desk. The top floor of her building had finally been completely repaired, which meant that she at last had her office back. The one thing she’d insisted that they didn’t bring in yet was a new couch, because she’d felt that there was someone else who should get a say in that. That is how yesterday, Lena Luthor had found herself in the middle of an IKEA, looking at furniture with her best friend for whom she’d recently realised she had some inconvenient, not to mention disproportionately intense feelings.

 

“Ooooh Lena, what about this one?!”

Lena raised her eyebrows, watching Kara scurry towards a bright pink couch and plop onto it with an excited grin. She fondly shook her head as she walked across the store and crossed her arms while she stepped in front of the reporter.

“I’m not putting a pink couch in my office, Kara,” she said sternly, although she was unable to fight off the smile that formed upon seeing Kara’s adorable frown.

“But you said I would get to pick one I like.”

“I said you could help me pick one,” Lena corrected, “since you’re probably going to use that couch almost as much as I do.” She smirked as she looked down at the seated woman. “But you should remember that when I’m at work I’m supposed to look intimidating, and that’s pretty hard to do when my couch looks like it was stolen from a dollhouse.”

“Pfft,” Kara waved her hand dismissively, “this couch is fantastic, and you’re being judgemental.” Lena just laughed at Kara’s determination to defend such an over the top piece of furniture. “Besides,” Kara continued, completely serious, “if people spend more than ten minutes with you, you won’t be able to intimidate them anyway because they’ll have figured out what a sweetheart you are.”

Aaaand that was apparently a cue for her heart to try and beat right out of her chest. Lena swallowed nervously, hoping that the heat spreading on her cheeks wasn’t too visible, and decided to pull out some humour to mask her emotions. Because Kara finding out about her feelings for her, was definitely number one on her list of things to avoid. You know, tied with leaving the reputation of the Luthor name in its current pitiful state. And with Kara finding out about her ability to see ghosts. It was all pretty close, really.

Lena dropped her voice as low as she could, and summoned her best corporate glare. “What are you implying, Ms. Danvers?” She leaned down while raising one eyebrow and used her finger to lift up Kara’s chin, as her best friend swallowed nervously. “You think that anyone could just mess with me?”

“I… no… I- I…”

Yeah, okay, that was a bad move. Because Kara was now blushing and stammering, and that made her even more adorable than usual, incredible as that may sound. Not to mention that her face was very close. It was oh so close, and it reminded Lena way too much of that fateful day when she’d confessed her feelings to an unconscious Kara and if Lena didn’t know any better, she’d say that the woman’s eyes had just flitted down to her cleavage. Great, now she was imagining things. Get a grip, Lena!

She forced out a laugh and hoped that it sounded humorous as she straightened back up. “You should’ve seen your face,” Lena teased. She was grateful that the blushing blonde was looking down as she laughed, because Lena was pretty sure that her own face was a little too red as well.

“Ha, ha, yeah you got me-”

Kara went to stand up but she tripped and fell down, causing Lena to actually let out a genuine burst of laughter. “Oh… oh god,” she snickered, as she lent her a hand to get back up, “I’m sorry, are you okay?”

“Pfft, yes… yes, fine. Good, totally good. Indestructible, remember?” Lena smiled widely at the stammering woman, who adjusted her glasses and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m- I’m just a little tired, you know?”

Lena’s smile faded slightly as she looked Kara over with concern. “Is it all the reconstruction work?” she asked carefully. “You know that people will understand if you take a day off, right?” Lena knew that without Supergirl helping with the heavy lifting, the repairs from the Daxamite invasion and her mother’s assault would probably take years instead of the projected months, but that didn’t mean that Kara needed to work herself into exhaustion.

“No, no,” Kara said dismissively, “they need my help. I’ll be fine, I just need to work a little harder like everybody else is doing. It’ll pass, I’m sure. Just like those weird dreams…”

Lena frowned as Kara seemed to turn more serious while looking into the distance. “Dreams…?”

“It’s- it’s nothing, really,” Kara stammered. Lena wanted to ask more, but Kara suddenly looked at the other side of the store and promptly darted away. “Here! This one looks comfy!”

 

Lena was still mentally replaying the purchasing of the couch that now stood in her office, when she suddenly got pulled out of the memory by the double doors of her office swinging open. Revealing Maggie Sawyer who casually strutted closer. “Luthor,” she greeted with a small smile, “it’s been a while.”

Before Lena could respond, Jess stumbled into the office after the woman, looking highly aggravated. “I’m sorry, Ms. Luthor! I left Hector in charge for half a second and he just let her barge in!”

“It’s okay, Jess,” Lena said with a smile, “I guess I can spare a minute.”

Jess huffed in annoyance as she straightened her blouse, before leaving the office while muttering something about incompetent assistants and arrogant police officers.

“I think she likes me,” Maggie quipped, causing Lena to laugh as the detective took a seat on the other side of the desk. “So are you trying to work yourself into the ground now?” Lena frowned in confusion, while Maggie just gave her a questioning look. “Seriously, Luthor, you own this whole place and you insist on working even with these ungodly temperatures?”

Lena chuckled as Maggie adjusted in her seat. “I think I can handle it.”

“Your armpit stains say otherwise.”

Lena’s eyes widened, immediately checking under her arms. Maggie barked out a laugh.

“Ha! Made you look!”

Lena turned her head back to the detective with an annoyed expression, while Maggie kept her grin in place. “So did you come here to vent your juvenile humour?” Lena asked with bemused irritation.

“No, actually,” Maggie cleared her throat and sat up straighter, turning serious. “I need to give you a heads-up about something, but… if anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from me.” Lena frowned as she looked at Maggie’s concerned expression. “They’re assembling a special task force within the NCPD science division,” she explained. “It’s going to investigate some of those metal machines your mother used and see if we can track down who manufactured them, whether they knew what it was for, and so on.”

Lena frowned at the woman. “Isn’t the DEO better equipped for that job?”

“Objectively, yes. But the NCPD managed to get their hands on some of the remains of those machines, and I don’t know if you’re aware of the relationship between the police department and the FBI, but handing over our evidence to the feds is something we can get pretty touchy about. We have our pride, you know?” Maggie chuckled briefly.

“Okay,” Lena said slowly, “so what does this have to do with me?”

“Well, we’ve already started recruiting for this task force and the general sentiment… well…” Maggie shifted uncomfortably in her seat, “the general sentiment is that we should start with investigating L-Corp.” Lena sighed deeply, as her mood once again darkened. “Look, Luthor, I tried to come at it from another angle,” Maggie said, looking apologetic, “but you have to understand that everybody saw those things scanning for aliens, and the only known form of technology capable of doing that, is the alien detection device developed by L-Corp.”

Lena rubbed her eyes, trying to contain her aggravation. “A device of which I cancelled the launch just last May, and of which I destroyed every last prototype,” she breathed out.  Granted, that had been a slightly impulsive decision, so shortly after finding out that her best friend was an alien. But looking back on it now, it was probably the right decision.

“That’s exactly the problem,” Maggie explained, “at the time of your mother’s attack there was no one else that we’re aware of with access to that technology. So… obviously they would set their sights on you. Look, kid, I know you didn’t do it,” Maggie gave her an understanding look. “But the only objective evidence I have for that, is the fact that I know about dr. Runnels. And I can’t exactly stand up in the middle of a task force meeting and say: ‘Lena Luthor is innocent, which I know because that kidnapped scientist probably spilled L-Corp’s secrets to Lillian, which I know because her ghost showed up and saved everyone’s ass by telling Lena about Cadmus’s plans.’”

Lena swallowed, looking down at her lap. To be honest, there had been so much going on at the time, that she hadn’t even stopped to think about her mother’s floating killing machines  displaying the same functions as her alien detection device. But it made sense now. Dr. Runnels had been a key part in the development of her device, so it was logical that Lillian would have been able to torture that information out of her.

“Did she say anything to you?” Maggie asked. “Anything that could tell us where your mother was hiding? Because if we find dr. Runnels’ body, then we can prove that it was Lillian who kidnapped her, and it should be convincing enough evidence to exonerate you completely.”

Lena sighed as she shook her head. “No, she… she was just worried about curing all the aliens. We didn’t talk about anything else before she passed on. She… wasn’t really herself anymore.” Lena shook her head again as she turned her attention back to Maggie.

“Well, don’t worry too much, alright?” the detective said encouragingly. “Not to brag or anything, but my current track record basically guarantees me to be assigned as head of the task force. I can’t wait for McConnell to eat his heart out,” she added with a smug smirk. “I should be able to direct the investigation away from you, but… you’re not going to avoid being officially questioned.”

Lena huffed out a humourless laugh. “I guess I can live with that.”

“Good… good…”

Lena looked up from the paperwork in front of her, noticing that Maggie was still sitting there and giving her a curious look. “Is there something else?” Lena asked warily. Maggie just sighed as she kept looking at her.

“How’s therapy?”

Lena huffed in annoyance, refocusing her attention on the paperwork on her desk. “It sucks,” she stated, aggressively crossing out an egregious error on the financial analysis in front of her. “Just because the guy has a fancy degree in ‘understanding people’, doesn’t mean he has to act like he knows everything. If I have to look at those beady little eyes of his one more time, I swear I’m going to-”

“Whoa, easy there Luthor,” the detective chuckled. “From what I’ve heard, other people only have good things to say about dr. Talbot.”

“Maybe he bribed them.”

Maggie snickered at that. “Well, I’m glad you’re at least going now.”

“So glad that you’ll finally give me my gun back?”

Maggie’s smile disappeared, as she looked at Lena and her raised eyebrow. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, kid. You’ve gone to what, two sessions? You’ll get it back when I’m convinced you’re okay.”

Lena sighed, crossing her arms and leaning back in her chair. “And who made you my supervisor all of a sudden?” she asked, genuine annoyance slipping into her voice. “I don’t appreciate being treated like a kid, or being called that either.”

“Needing help doesn’t make you a kid,” Maggie tried to reason, leaning closer with her elbows on her knees as Lena pursed her lips and looked to the side. “I’m not trying to control you or anything Lena, I’m just worried ab-”

At that point, Maggie’s phone saw fit to interrupt the conversation. Both women startled at the loud ringtone, as Maggie answered the phone. “This better be good, McConnell,” she grumbled. Lena turned her head back to the detective, noticing that whatever was being said on the other end made her scrunch her eyes closed and rub her forehead. “Shit… I’ll be there in ten.” She put her phone away and turned back to Lena. “I have to go,” she said stiffly, “someone thought it was a good idea to blow up a building full of people.” She grimly nodded Lena goodbye before heading for the doors. Lena was momentarily stunned by the casual way the detective made that announcement, but she remembered that in her line of work, this sort of thing probably happened all the time.

As she watched Maggie step out of her office, her eyes drifted over the clock hanging on the wall, which was telling her that it was 5:30 PM. Now, Lena had recently promised Kara that she would try to leave work at a reasonable hour from now on. And because Lena was starting to find it more and more difficult to say no to Kara, she had eventually agreed that she would make an effort to keep an eye on the time. On the other hand though… she still had that Daxam Drive lying around in her lab. And she still hadn’t managed to get into it.

Lena sighed, her eyes flitting over the clock again, but let’s face it; it was either go down to the lab and try to get some work done, or sit at home and longingly stare out of her window with a certain blonde superhero on her mind, who was way too busy reconstructing the city to stop by anytime soon. She huffed as she got out of her chair, and started heading down to her private lab. Just half an hour, she told herself. Forty-five minutes tops. Then she’d go home. Probably…

 

 


 

 

By the time Lena left her lab, it was 8:30 PM.

She wouldn’t have even noticed it either, if it wasn’t for Jess poking her head into the lab while the assistant was on her way out. Lena should probably be concerned about her own lack of awareness when it came to the passage of time, but to be honest, there were more pressing matters on her mind. Like that stupid Daxam Drive, which seemed almost designed to keep humans out of it. Or the fact that her assistant saw fit to stay at work until 8:30. She was aware of the irony in that thought, considering her own working hours, but just because she was a workaholic didn’t mean that Jess had to be one too.

As she rode the elevator back up to her office (she just left some paperwork there, okay?! she would get it and then she’d leave, honest), both of her intricate problems kept running through her head: How to extract the schematics of Daxamite aircrafts out of the Drive, which could lead to mankind owning spaceships, and how to get her assistant to leave at a reasonable hour and maybe start developing a social life. You know, one that didn’t involve complaining about Hector’s incompetence or begging Lena to fire the entire PR department because, quote: ‘They’re backstabbing lowlifes who never tried to defend you when people assumed you were evil, and they’re just waiting for an excuse to hand this company over to the board!’

It was because she was lost in these thoughts, that she didn’t immediately notice the woman that wasn’t supposed to be there. Because of her brain focusing on these conundrums, it took Lena three and a half steps into her office to realise that there was someone waiting for her there. But when she did, she came to an abrupt stop, taking in the figure of the freakishly slim woman with the many tattoos and the tight red dress, as she felt the blood drain from her face. She observed for a moment, as the woman seemed to be staring intently at the few papers that the CEO had left on her desk, while Lena was now second-guessing the competence of her security team. Her feet remembered how to move, as she breathed out the woman’s name with wary caution: “Sinclair…”

The woman’s head turned to her, leisurely, as if this situation was completely normal and just looked at her for a few seconds. Then she gave a lazy smile. “Lena Luthor,” she drawled, a sadistic amusement in her eyes, as she straightened from her position over the desk and turned to face her, “it has been quite a few years, hasn’t it?” She let her eyes go over Lena, who felt rather scrutinised under the woman’s intense look, before meeting her eyes again as her smile slowly faded. “Of course it wouldn’t have been that long, if you’d actually come to one of my… special evenings.”

Lena breathed in deeply, crossing her arms as she called on her poise and her dignity, thinking that maybe she should see this as an opportunity. If Veronica Sinclair was back in town, then Kara and the gang could probably use as much information as they could gather on the woman. “Those ‘evenings’, as you call them, aren’t the style of entertainment that speaks to me,” Lena responded coldly. She squinted her eyes at the woman, who was now moving around the desk while curiously gazing around the office. “I thought you ended up on some alien planet?” Lena asked suspiciously.

Veronica chuckled as she stopped on the visitor’s side of the desk. “Yes… National City’s favourite hero apparently thought it was perfectly fine to strand a human citizen on a faraway planet. As opposed to the aliens on earth, who apparently deserve to be protected at all cost,” she said slowly, almost thoughtfully, as she looked to the side for a moment. “But I suppose I should thank you for my return,” she continued, turning her head back to throw a small, sinister smile Lena’s way, “if it hadn’t been for you activating those portals, I would probably still be stuck on that lousy planet. Then again… maybe that would have been better than my current predicament.”

Lena scoffed, as she watched the very rich, very powerful woman complain about her life. “Oh, really?” Lena drawled sarcastically. “You’re having a hard time finding ways to expand your fortune over the backs of other people?”

Veronica’s previous amusement seemed to completely disappear from her face. “As a matter of fact, Luthor, yes… I’ve seen better days. Mostly…” she stepped closer to the youngest Luthor, and Lena’s eyes widened at the scene because the woman had just stepped through one of the visitor’s chairs. Not past it, not over it. But straight through. “…mostly because I’m dead.”

Well, that was unexpected.

Lena cleared her throat, feeling slightly guilty that she was relieved at the thought of someone being dead, but at least that meant that the woman wasn’t going around hurting innocent aliens anymore. So that was something. “I’m, uh… I’m sorry,” Lena said carefully. “How… how did you die?”

Veronica scoffed, turning to the side and seemingly observing the flowers on the table. “An explosion, unfortunately. Can you picture it, Luthor? Someone like me, not even being poisoned, or stabbed, or double-crossed in some ingenious fashion. No,” she sighed, “just an explosion. How incredibly mundane.”

Lena frowned at this information, remembering the reason Maggie had left earlier in the day, and thinking this couldn’t possibly be a coincidence. “You just died today?” she asked curiously. Veronica halted her strolling, turning slowly to face the youngest Luthor with a slight frown.

“How do you know about that?”

“I have my sources,” Lena responded evenly, looking back with an equally suspicious frown. “So why are you still here? And how did you find out I can see ghosts this fast?” she asked warily.

Veronica looked at her for a moment, not responding immediately. She slowly tilted her head as a smile started pulling at her lips and Lena didn’t like the look of it. “As I’m sure you’re aware, Luthor,” the ghostly woman started as she stepped closer once again, “knowledge is power. And to be honest, I see no reason to give you more power than you already have.”

Lena’s frown grew deeper, not sure what she was getting at. “What are you talking about? I’m… I’m not sure you understand how this works, but… if I’m going to help you, then I need to know what you want.”

Veronica’s eyebrows rose up at the statement, before she slowly broke out into a measured laugh. It was cold and not very friendly and Lena didn’t like where this was going at all. “Who says I want your help, Luthor?”

Lena didn’t respond, as she was momentarily stunned. Every ghost she had met so far in her life, always had a specific reason for still being here. Whether for the well-being of a family member or for less than noble reasons, like her mother, ghosts always had a reason to stick around. So what could possibly be the purpose of hiding that reason from her? From the only person that could actually see her?

“Forgive me,” Lena started, “but without my help you can’t really do much around here anymore. You can observe and you can listen, sure. But there’s no way you can still-”

“You’re not paying attention to what I’m saying, Luthor,” the apparition of Veronica Sinclair interjected, still with that unsettling smile in place, “I just told you that knowledge is power. And as it turns out, I apparently don’t need to be alive to garner knowledge. Pretty fitting, isn’t it? A woman left to die, only to grow more powerful in death.” Veronica let out another laugh as she looked to the side and Lena was starting to worry at the egomaniacal tendencies of the woman. She wanted to garner knowledge? What was that supposed to mean?

“Sinclair… you’re not making any sense.” Lena searched the woman’s eyes as they looked back at her. “You can have all the information on the living that you want, but that doesn’t help you if you can’t interact with them, right?” Lena was aware that her phrasing that as a question was not a good sign, and that if this was truly a battle of wits, then she was currently losing. To Veronica Sinclair of all people. Good grief.

“First of all,” the woman stepped uncomfortably close, “you can call me Roulette, like everyone else does. And secondly; if I need someone to interact with the living, I’ll be sure to let you know. But in the meantime, I have a better purpose for you.”

Lena’s expression turned incredulous, anger brewing under the surface, but she kept her tongue, waiting to see if the woman would maybe start making sense.

“As you might imagine, I wasn’t the only person caught up in that explosion. Some people I… worked with… were there as well. Under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t be quite as inclined to follow my orders anymore now that they’re dead. But now I have the knowledge of someone who can see people that are deceased. And who is apparently accustomed to dancing to their every whim.” The woman’s wicked grin grew wider, as she stepped back and looked at Lena’s angry expression. “Have I mentioned yet… that knowledge is power?” She chuckled to herself, and Lena’s anger was starting to mix with a familiar unsettling feeling. “So I think that this is what I’ll do: I will politely ask them to follow my orders. If they don’t, they will spend an eternity aimlessly lounging around this planet. But if they do, I will reward them with the name of the one person that can see them. But only when I have no use for them anymore, of course.”

Lena’s anger was now only contained by the unsettling feeling of knowing where this was headed, but despite only seeing one outcome to this conversation, she still asked the next logical question. “What if I refuse?” she asked through gritted teeth. “What if I don’t want to be a part of your afterlife extortion system?”

“Well,” Veronica threw her arms up, feigning an innocent expression that was honestly scarier than her smile, “then I guess my plans fall through, don’t they? I guess I’ll have no choice but to just let it go and tell them about you just like that. All of them. At the same time. Did I mention that there’s quite a few of them? And I can only imagine how many more ghosts are wandering around this city, who would be very happy to know about your existence.” Her smile returned, and the familiar fear that Lena hadn’t felt since John Corben was now rising to the surface. “I guess some of them must be very desperate. They might make your life pretty difficult. But if you can handle it… if you think your company can handle its CEO being swarmed by needy ghosts…” Veronica just kept looking at her with raised eyebrows, and Lena was both stunned and infuriated at how easily this woman had been able to back her into a corner. Not to mention the fact, and this was what made her angry more than anything, that none of this made any sense.

“Are you honestly this eager to have an army of ghosts at your disposal?! What is the use in that?! I just don’t understand-”

“You don’t need to understand, Luthor,” the dead woman interjected as she stepped closer, “all you need to do, is tell me whether we have a deal… or we don’t.” Veronica kept looking at her with a smug look, and Lena gritted her teeth, because they both knew what the answer was going to be. They both knew that Lena had been outmanoeuvred on this one. Lena was desperately racking her brain for another way out, but she had nothing on the woman. They might have gone to boarding school together, but she knew nothing of her life, her family, or anything else that might give her some sort of leverage in this situation. Lena let out an extended sigh, looking at the woman in front of her with one of her most hateful glares, but eventually, she reluctantly hissed out her answer.

“Fine. We have a deal.”

Veronica gave her a devilish smile in response. “Very good. I knew you’d be reasonable.” She stepped past the youngest Luthor and headed for the double doors, only to turn around one last time to face Lena, who was internally fuming at this point. “I will send over the first ghost when I’m done with him. And I suppose we’ll see each other again at some point,” she chuckled to herself while Lena gritted her teeth in anger, “when I feel like… you could be useful to me.” With that last unsettling promise hanging in the air, Veronica finally turned away and left the office.

Lena stood there for a moment, counting to ten in her head. Like that ugly and arrogant dr. Talbot had told her to do when ‘your emotions threaten to get out of hand.’ However, it was quite clear that that quack wasn’t up to the task of being a replacement for Lillian Luthor’s life-long imbedded lessons on poise and dignity, as after her second attempt to calmly count to ten, she picked up her vase of plumerias on the table…

 

…and threw it at the wall.

 

 



 

 

 

A bright light illuminated the rich cornfield, the tips of the plants grazing beneath her fingers. The sunlight pleasantly caressed her face, as a hand caressed her arm. Kara turned around into a familiar embrace, kissing familiar lips, their white garments pressing together. She pulled back and turned around, finding yet another person she thought she’d lost forever. She walked over and looked at the face of her mother, which looked so much more real than any hologram could emulate her. She hugged her close, the touch reviving long-forgotten memories of her far too brief childhood on Krypton. As she stepped back and held her mother’s hand, she reached out and held Mon-el’s hand as well; the two people she thought she’d lost forever now safely by her side. She turned her head and smiled in delight, as she saw another one of her favourite people stride closer in an immaculate white dress. Kara could almost feel the happiness radiating off herself as she watched Lena step up to her, and up to the two people holding her hands.

Lena stopped in front of her, smiling sadly as she so often did, while she let her eyes go over the three of them. “Why not?”

Kara tilted her head, smiling curiously at the question she didn’t understand.

“If I know I can go after you, why shouldn’t I?”

Kara’s smile disappeared, all the happy feelings draining from her soul, as she watched the sight that she felt like she’d seen before. Like a nightmare that had remained dormant and now suddenly resurfaced. Kara started shaking her head, despair filling her, the sunlight suddenly obscured by dark clouds, as Lena slowly brought up a gun and put it to the side of her head. “No…”

Kara tried to reach out, tried to prevent another person being lost to her forever, but her hands were trapped. She desperately looked to her sides, where her mother and Mon-el were both gripping her hands while giving her a sad smile, as if this was inevitable. As if this was going to happen anyway, as soon as she truly cared for someone. As a cold wind started to blow and all the corn around her started crumbling to dust, she tried to free her grip, desperately tried to pull her hands free, but they were firmly trapped in her past. “No, no…”

Kara started pulling harder but her hands were not moving, her powers not responding, as she watched Lena’s tears silently start to drop with a growing sense of desperation. Kara heaved, violently pulled at her arms, desperately shook her head, but Lena gave her that sad and resigned look that Kara had come to loathe… before her finger started moving over the trigger.

 

“LENAAAA!!”

Kara’s scream lingered in the air as she panted and heaved, her tears wetting her face, and she noticed her arm stretched out towards the darkness. Kara breathed out and looked around, noticing her room, the closed curtains, her flower-printed pyjamas, the alarm clock that was telling her it was 4 in the morning and her thin blanket completely ripped apart by her outstretched hands. She whimpered as she hung her head and hugged her knees, sniffing at the memory of those dreams that wouldn’t stop plaguing her.

As if the vivid dreams of her mother and Mon-el being safe weren’t bad enough. As if her heart breaking  a little every time she woke up from the image of two people that were respectively gone forever and possibly lost in space weren’t bad enough, now Lena had started playing a part. Now every time that she dreamt of the people she knew were gone from her life, she also had to endure the recurring nightmare of losing the people she still had. And it had gotten so much worse. That stupid nightmare she’d had when she’d almost died at the hands of Lillian Luthor, now was becoming so much more frequent and Kara couldn’t stand it. She couldn’t stand that she was avoiding everyone so she wouldn’t have to face those nightmares. She couldn’t stand that she was barely able to face her best friend anymore because of those images. She couldn’t stand seeing Lena crying again, with that face that basically screamed that she didn’t think she deserved anything.

Kara hugged her knees tighter, praying it would be morning soon so she could continue with the reconstruction work of National City, because that way she wouldn’t have to think about it. That way she wouldn’t have to face her human emotions, or those ominous images of Lena being somehow included with the people that she’d lost. Because if she just ignored her human side, then maybe it would go away. If she just concentrated on being Supergirl and just stayed away from the people that would inevitably get hurt by being around her, then maybe the nightmares would stop. Maybe the image of Lena embracing death would just go away.

Because of course she cared about other people too, but Alex was a fighter. J’onn had found purpose in protecting the people of earth, and she was pretty sure that Winn was terrified at the thought of dying. But with Lena it was all so painfully plausible. How many times had she seen that resigned look on her face, when talking about her family’s legacy? How many times had Lena acted like her own life didn’t matter at all? With anyone else it would be a bad dream. With anyone else it would just be a stupid dream that for some reason just wouldn’t go away, but with Lena she couldn’t take it anymore. She couldn’t stand those images. Kara swallowed harshly as she clutched the small silver pendant around her neck with her best friend’s initials in it, promising herself she was going to avoid being Kara Danvers. She was just going to be Supergirl, and nothing else, because that was what mattered and that was how she saved people. And hopefully, that’s how the dreams would go away. Because she didn’t want to see it anymore. Not with Lena in it. Anyone else would be bearable, but not Lena.

 

Anyone… but not her Lena.

 

Chapter Text

 

August 28th 2017

 

“Hang on, I’m confused.”

Lena let out an exasperated sigh, looking up at Winn across her desk with a growing sense of frustration. To be fair, her current mood wasn’t entirely his fault, although he definitely wasn’t improving it right now.

After finally seeing Kara again a few hours earlier and promising to help with the whole Morgan Edge situation, the woman had just up and left, basically ignoring her invitation for brunch. Lena didn’t know what to think of Kara effectively avoiding her for the past few weeks. Sure, in the months prior she’d been busy with the reconstruction work of the city, so obviously that had impacted their time together. But now the city had been restored to its former glory, all was right with the world, and Lena still couldn’t get Kara to come and see her. It was all monumentally frustrating. ‘Monumental’, in the sense that Lena had actually started overseeing the construction of a monument in Supergirl’s honour, just so she could feel like she was spending time with her. It was pathetic and she knew it all too well, hence: frustration.

Maggie, who was seated across the desk next to Winn, didn’t seem in a much better mood. Apparently the fact that McConnell had been assigned as head of the special task force investigating Lillian’s floating turrets instead of her, had really rubbed her the wrong way. But according to Winn there was more to it than that. He’d told Lena a few days earlier that Hank Henshaw had agreed to talk to the DEO in exchange for a shorter sentence. The cyborg had apparently also been motivated by the fact that he would get to spill some details on the accomplice that, if he was to be believed, had been supposed to help him in Metropolis during the attack but hadn’t shown up. However, the convoy that was transporting the cyborg back to National City had been ambushed, and he’d mysteriously vanished. So with Henshaw gone and no clues as to who did it, any plausible lead for Alex to find her father had been shut down. Making Alex miserable, and by proxy making Maggie even grumpier than she already was.

“Which part is confusing?” Lena asked evenly, feeling that she had explained the Roulette situation pretty thoroughly just now.

“I thought you wanted to help ghosts now. At least that’s what you said after your party. So… why would it be so bad if Roulette told a few ghosts that you can see them? Just more cases for us to dig into, right?” he finished excitedly.

Lena let out a long breath through her nose, trying her very hardest not to let her frustration out on her friend. “I do want to help ghosts, but I don’t want everybody finding out about my ability. If every dead person in town knew where to find me, they wouldn’t all just politely get in line and wait for their turn. They would all be standing in my office, begging me to help them.” Lena gave Winn an intent look, while he just frowned back. “Them knowing about me, gives them power over me. So yes, I want to help them, but for the sake of my sanity I can’t let just anyone find out about me. Neither dead nor living.” She huffed out a breath as she leaned back in her chair. “Just look what Roulette was able to do within a few minutes; I’m basically her puppet and I don’t even know why.”

“Hang on,” Winn started, his frown returning, “I’m confused again.” Lena couldn’t stop rolling her eyes, but she waited for him to elaborate anyway. “Don’t ghosts usually want to help people? I mean… they usually stay to help a family member, or a loved one, or-”

“No,” Lena interrupted, shaking her head at the man, “not all of them. If you’ll remember; Kerry Runnels stayed because she felt guilty about helping to poison the atmosphere and she wanted to make it right. John Corben stayed because he hated me for shooting him, and my mother stayed because she wanted to watch Supergirl die. Their intentions are hardly all noble, which is all the more reason to not let all of them know about my ability.”

“Oh! Oh!” Winn suddenly bounced up and down on his chair, looking back and forward between Maggie and Lena. “I got it!! She wants revenge!!” He kept looking between the two of them, as if he expected them to cheer with glee at the solving of the mystery. “That has to be it!! She wants to get back at whoever blew her up!!”

“Of course not, you idiot!!” Maggie barked. Lena raised her eyebrows as she and Winn were both slightly taken aback by the detective’s harsh tone. “Sorry,” Maggie muttered, “I’m just… not in the best mood lately. Do you mind if I…” she gestured in the direction of Lena’s liquor cabinet. Lena just nodded her approval, prompting Maggie to get up and pour herself some very old scotch.

Lena cleared her throat as Winn turned his attention back to her. “No… like Maggie just pointed out that would make no sense, because I offered to help her with whatever she needed. So she could’ve just asked…” Lena paused, thinking of the woman’s despicable character, “…ordered me to do anything,” she corrected. “Besides, she even mentioned that she needed me as incentive to get the other ghosts to follow her lead. If she’d been trying to punish the person who had killed all of them, I’m guessing they wouldn’t have objected to helping her.” Lena sighed deeply as she rubbed her neck. “All we know for sure is that she wants to ‘garner knowledge’, whatever that means, and that she eventually plans to make me do something for her. And considering how secretive she’s being about it, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be something illegal, immoral, or both.”

“Huh…” Winn let out a breath, frowning again as he leaned back in his chair and seemed to process all of that.

“Any news on your end, by the way?” Lena asked, turning to Maggie who was now standing behind the visitor’s chair with her scotch in hand. “On the attack, or the victims, or anything else?”

“Well, technically I can’t disclose anything about ongoing investigations, so…” Maggie took a gulp of her drink, “…you kids didn’t hear this from me, got it?” Winn just nodded seriously, while Lena rolled her eyes at being called a kid again. “So, we’ve got no leads on the origin of the explosion yet; there was no trace of any kind of bomb or other explosive device. So far we’ve managed to identify two victims besides Roulette: The janitor and the security guard, but only because their families knew where they were working. All the bodies are literally in bits and pieces, so collecting DNA samples from them is proving to be quite a task. But we do already know that there is some alien DNA in there. Which makes sense…” Maggie took another sip of her drink.

“Why… why does that make sense?” Winn asked hesitantly, seemingly scared he was going to get yelled at again.

“Well, word on the street is that Roulette was setting up another one of her alien fight clubs. So I guess she'd already started recruiting.”

“Great,” Lena grumbled, letting out a tired sigh as she crossed her arms, “I’m sure that aliens who were desperate enough to fight each other for money will have real easy problems to solve.” Maggie and Winn both looked at her, seemingly not knowing what to say, so Maggie just settled for taking another swig of her drink.

“Hey, come on, don’t worry about it!” Winn smiled encouragingly. “You’ve got your PALL here to help you! And after all…” he gave her a cheesy grin, “…you are the BOTTOM!”

There was a loud coughing sound, as Maggie almost choked on her drink and the scotch spilled down her chin. “Wh- what- what did you call her?!” Maggie had a completely flabbergasted look on her face as she stared incredulously at Winn.

“I called her the BOTTOM,” he repeated, glancing towards Lena who was just as confused as him by this reaction. “You know… the Bringer Of Tranquillity To Overbearing Manifestations.”

“He does this all the time, Maggie,” Lena explained, still not sure what to make of the detective’s shocked expression, “he keeps trying to give me a superhero name using silly acronyms. Though this was definitely one of the worst yet.”

“Rude,” Winn retorted dryly.

“Okay, first of all,” Maggie huffed out a laugh as she wiped her face before sitting back down in her chair, “you two really need to update on your slang.” She chuckled to herself while Lena and Winn shared a confused look. “You almost gave me a heart attack there, Winn.” She turned to Lena with a mischievous grin. “I thought little Luthor and little Danvers had finally tied the girlfriend-knot.”

Lena’s insides froze, as she inhaled sharply and looked at Winn with wide eyes. “YOU TOLD HER?!!”

“No, no, I-”

“Oh, that’s just great!!” Lena shot up of her seat and threw her arms in the air. “Why don’t you start printing posters while you’re at it?! Make sure the whole city knows I kissed Kara!!”

“WHOA!!” Maggie jumped out of her seat and darted her eyes between the two of them. “YOU KISSED KARA?!”

Lena froze, suddenly feeling incredibly stupid. She glanced unsurely at Winn. “You… you didn’t tell her?”

Winn threw his arms up in exasperation. “Seriously, why does everyone think I can’t keep a secret?! Of course I didn’t tell anyone about your Strawberry Panic!”

Maggie frowned at him. “Don’t you mean gay panic?”

“No, no. See, what happened was that Lena had been eating strawberries and that’s why, when Kara woke up-”

“She kissed her while she was out?!”

“That’s enough!!” Lena interrupted slightly hysterically. “If- if- if you didn’t know, why did- did you say the thing a- about g- girl- girlfriends…”

“I was joking!!” Maggie exclaimed. “I just thought you were those girls!!”

Those girls?” Lena asked confused.

“Well, you know; those two straight friends who have no idea how gay they’re acting.”

“Can we just…” Lena motioned incoherently, heat spreading on her face, as she felt more and more like this was the time to panic, “…can we just stop using that word, please?”

“What word?” Maggie questioned, still looking slightly shocked by this whole revelation.

“The- the- the thing… where… it’s- it’s not… I’m- I’m not g- gay… okay?!” Lena had to force out her words, wondering how she’d developed a stutter within half a minute.

“Oh, honey…” Maggie deflated as she seemed to look at her with something way too close to pity in Lena’s mind. Then the detective suddenly turned to Winn. “Get out.”

Winn blinked in confusion. “Wait, what? What did I do now?”

“Nothing, I just need to talk to Lena alone for a second, so get out.”

“Oh, come on, that’s not fair!! I’m just as much a part of-”

“Get out, Winn.”

“You’re just jealous that I figured out Lena liked Kara before you did-”

“OUT!”

Winn flinched as the detective stepped closer to him, before scurrying to his feet and leaving the office while muttering to himself in indignation. Lena just looked at the doors close behind him with her arms crossed and her cheeks flaming, wishing the ground would swallow her up right about now. Maggie gave her that same pitying look as before as she patted the chair on the other side of the desk. “Sit,” she demanded.

Lena pursed her lips. “What am I, a lapdog?” Maggie just raised an eyebrow at her, and Lena reluctantly gave in to the request as she rounded her desk and stiffly took a seat in the visitor’s chair, her arms still crossed and not looking the detective in the eye. Maggie sighed deeply as she sat down in the adjacent chair.

“So… you have feelings for Kara?”

“I- I don’t…” Lena swallowed nervously, “…I don’t know if- if… I’d use the word ‘feelings’, I…”

“Really?” Maggie raised her eyebrows at her. “What do you call it when you kiss someone, then?”

Lena just kept opening and closing her mouth, not sure what to say because yes, she had definitely used another word besides ‘feelings’ during her big speech to an unconscious Kara, but she wasn’t going to repeat that out loud right now. Or possibly ever. No chance, no way. She won’t say it, no, no.

“I feel like I should point out that it’s not cool to kiss someone who’s passed out,” Maggie started slowly, “but I’m not here to lecture you,” she quickly amended upon seeing Lena’s exasperated look. “I just… want to help you, Lena. I know what it’s like to feel confused about this.”

“Can you just…” Lena motioned aggressively for her to stop, “…not compare the situations?! It’s- it’s not the same, alright?! I’m not… like you… I…” she kept stammering, cursing her lack of articulation when it came to this matter. She breathed out her biggest objection, very softly, as if she was afraid of letting it get past her lips.

“What was that?” Maggie asked with a frown, not catching Lena’s whispered words.

“I said…” Lena swallowed, repeating it at an audible level, “I said I loved Jack.” Maggie stared at her for a second, before huffing out an incredulous breath. “I did!” Lena insisted upon seeing the woman giving her that curious look.

“I’m not saying you didn’t, but…” the detective hesitated, searching Lena’s eyes, “…is that the problem? You think you can’t have feelings for Kara because you were in love with Jack?”

Lena huffed as she finally uncrossed her arms and started fiddling with her fingers. “I mean… it…” she let out a  long sigh, “…it just doesn’t make any sense.”

“Luthor…” Maggie let out a short and humourless laugh as her incredulous look had returned, “…you know there’s a word for that, right?”

Lena frowned in confusion. “You mean… fickle?”

“I mean bisexual.”

Lena felt like she’d just been electrocuted, her adrenaline suddenly threatening to burst out of her, as she laughed a little too hard and aggressively shook her head. “HA! No, no- that- that is-” she kept shaking her head as she got up from the chair, wincing as she hit her hip against the side of the desk while trying to back away, “that’s not possible, I… I would-”

“Whoa! Hey, hey…” Maggie was in front of her in a flash, a firm hand on both her shoulders and trying to look her in the eye, “…breathe, Luthor.” Lena tried to do that, hearing that quack of a dr. Talbot in her head again, telling her to count to ten. “There’s no need to panic, just breathe.” Maggie kept holding her in place, while Lena took deep breaths until she didn’t feel like fainting quite as much. “Look, Lena… you don’t have to call yourself anything you don’t want to,” Maggie started carefully. “With that being said however… I can tell you from experience that it’s never a good idea to repress your feelings.” Lena swallowed, looking at Maggie’s expression which she guessed was supposed to be comforting. “Speaking of bad ideas,” the detective smirked, clearly trying to defuse the tension, “talking to Winn about this stuff was definitely one of them. He’s as straight as a gymnast’s handstand.”

Lena chuckled, the humour finally allowing her to let go of some of her panic, as she gave her friend an amused look. “He was right about one thing, though.” Lena’s smile grew wider at Maggie’s confused face. “He did figure out I like Kara before you did.”

Maggie huffed out a breath as she crossed her arms. “I know, it’s kind of ridiculous. I keep going back and forth on whether he’s an idiot or a genius.” The detective briefly shook her head, before giving Lena a dimpled grin. “And good for you, by the way.” Maggie explained further at Lena’s confused look: “You said you like Kara. Actually telling someone is a pretty big step, you know?”

Lena’s face fell, not even having realised it, but before she could figure out what to say or if she even had something to say, she suddenly caught sight of something behind Maggie. A man stepped straight through her wall, looking around the office as if he was searching for something, before his eyes fell on the two of them. “Which one of you is Lena Luthor?” he asked intently.

Lena swallowed, trying her best to mask the fact that she’d just been nearing a panic attack. “That would be me,” she responded coolly.

Maggie squinted her eyes at her, looking over her shoulder and then back again. “Ghost?” she simply questioned.

Lena just nodded, not looking away from the middle-aged man with dark grey hair, in the expensive-looking suit, who was giving her a determined expression. “Did Roulette send you?” she asked warily.

“Yes. My name is Robert Van de Kamp. She said that you’d be able to see me and that you would help me.”

Lena straightened her spine, her professional demeanour kicking in as she gave the man a small nod. “Yes… yes of course I’ll help you.”

Maggie cleared her throat, as she looked between Lena and the empty office. “Well, I’ll… I’ll leave you to it, then. And we’ll talk about… that thing later.” Lena was definitely not looking forward to talking about ‘that thing’ again, and she was slightly surprised when Maggie suddenly hugged her. With her arms still around her, the detective suddenly whispered in her ear: “Get some intel.”

“I’ll try,” Lena whispered back.

As the detective stepped back and gave her a small smile, the woman made a big circle around the space where she believed the ghost was supposed to be, while Lena thoughtfully looked the man over. She knew that first impressions weren’t everything, but this man sure had all the air of one of the many businessmen she came face to face with on a daily basis. She was pretty sure she’d never met him, though.

“Mr. Van de Kamp, was it?” she asked carefully. The man nodded his head in response. “I will of course help with any reasonable request you have,” she started, stepping past her desk and closer to the ghostly man, “but if you wouldn’t mind first answering a few questions about Roulette and what she asked you to do, then-”

“No.”

Lena raised her eyebrows at the immediate response. “No?” she questioned incredulously.

“I was specifically instructed not to talk about my services for Roulette to you, Ms. Luthor. So if we could get to my own problems…” he looked at her expectantly, but Lena wasn’t done yet.

“Look Mr… Robert… she can’t do anything to you. She doesn’t have to know that you talked to me, and I will help you anyway. There’s no need to be scared-”

“I am not scared,” the man interrupted, “I simply do not wish to be stuck in the middle of whatever cold war you two are engaged in. Being at the service of one of you was quite enough,” he scoffed, giving almost a disgusted look, “so I think that now it’s time for my problems to be heard.”

Lena let out a measured sigh, frustration bubbling up in her once more. “Is it really that hard to answer a few damn questions? Is it really too much to want to know what you did in the time that-”

“I just followed some people!” he snapped. Lena was momentarily stunned. “I followed a few people, told Roulette what I saw, she complained about my attitude several times, and today she finally told me your name.” Lena stared at him, feeling elated at getting some new information to solve the puzzle.

“Who were these people?” she asked intently. “Where did they-”

“I think I’ve told you enough,” the man stated harshly, seeming to struggle with his anger. “Are we going to get to me now? Or do I have to go back to Roulette and tell her you refused to help me?”

Lena’s excitement flooded away at being blackmailed for the second ghost in a row, before levelling the man with a cold glare. “Fine,” she stated coolly, “let’s hear it. How can I help you?”

The man huffed out a breath, seemingly satisfied with himself, as he straightened his jacket and started explaining his troubles: “I was doing just fine with my life. Business was booming, happily married, all of that. Quite frankly, the most disappointing thing about my life is the way it ended, although my son was a close second.” He huffed out another breath, seemingly struggling to contain his frustration. “I am the owner of… well, I was the owner of Kamp Pharmaceutics. We develop, market and sell all kind of medical equipment to hospitals and institutions. I personally engaged in other endeavours as well but as you can see, those didn’t always turn out so well.” He bitterly shook his head. “I knew investing in that woman again would have been trouble…”

“Investing?” Lena prodded carefully.

“Yes, that’s why I was in that lousy building. I’d received an invitation to come and talk about investing into one of Roulette’s new projects.” He bitterly shook his head. “She definitely downgraded since her last event; the place was a dump. I knew I shouldn’t have gone in person…” he sighed as he fell quiet for a moment. “In any case, Roulette got called away and I was just being forced to listen to that old woman who apparently was also an investor tell some sentimental story about her granddaughter, when it happened: The whole building being blown apart…” the man seemed to go bleak for a moment. “It only hurt for less than a second… but it was more than enough…”

The man seemed to shake off his horror, before continuing. “Which brings me to that idiot of my son,” he started, his tone turning bitter, “he dropped out of college in February and suddenly declared that he didn’t want my money, that he wanted nothing to do with the family business anymore and that he was going to make it by himself.”

The man kept frowning at the floor, so Lena hesitantly spoke up. “That’s rather admirable, isn’t it? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to stand on your own two feet.”

“Oh, yes, and dropping out of college is definitely going to help with that, right?!” The man’s sarcasm was about as subtle as his anger. “He just needs to be set straight, so he can re-enrol in his advanced business program! That way he will have a future, and my company will be in good hands! Or at least well-meaning hands.”

Lena pinched the bridge of her nose, slowly feeling a headache setting in. Great. She needed to influence someone’s life decisions. Whatever happened to the good old days of a ghost just asking her to steal something?

“I’m sure that if he loses his job, he’ll run back to his trust fund in no time.”

Lena instantly lowered her hand, her eyes going cold. “Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Van de Kamp,” she started slowly, her voice dropping to a warning tone, “I don’t actually deal in shady practices. I can’t just snap my fingers and have anyone in town fired.”

The man actually laughed at that as he crossed his arms. “It shouldn’t be too difficult in this case.” He gave her a strange look. “Considering he works for you.”

Lena frowned at the man, mentally going over the building’s employees in her head. As is usually the case when looking for something, the answer was closer than she originally thought. “Van de Kamp…” Lena’s eyebrows shot up as the name clicked, “you’re Hector’s father?!”

“Indeed,” the man replied unamused, “so if you just fire him, I’m sure he’ll reconsider this senseless crusade of his.” Lena took a moment to steady herself, before giving the man a defiant look.

“I will not be told how to treat my employees.” Lena glared at the man  and quickly continued before he could start protesting. “I appreciate that you’re concerned about him, but just forcing him to do things your way won’t make him happy.” Lena paused, the gears turning in her head as she looked for a way to appease Robert’s ghost without being unfair to Hector. “Let me-”

“Make him happy?!” the man spat incredulously. “I’m talking about financial security and not throwing away your future! Not some vague notion of ‘being happy’! What kind of businesswoman are you, if you can’t understand that?” He scoffed, looking her up and down. “What are you, a Democrat or something?”

Lena frowned, now being rather unamused herself. “Libertarian, if you must know,” she replied with ice in her voice. “But politics aside, I think it would be best for everyone if I just talked to him. You might still be right,” Lena held out her hand as she said it, seeing the man getting ready to protest again, “he might indeed be better off going back to college. But if that’s the case I will try and reason with him, not just fire him to get my way. I don’t wish to treat people that way.” Lena looked on as the man still appeared to be stewing. “Mr. Van de Kamp, he is your son,” Lena insisted, “would it really be so bad to hear what he has to say?” The ghost in front of her seemed to deflate a little as Lena glanced at her watch. “Look, I have to meet with Morgan Edge right now, but after that I can schedule a moment to calmly have a chat with your son. Is that acceptable?” She raised her eyebrows, giving the spectre a questioning look.

The man let out a sigh, not looking entirely convinced, but in the end he gave a small nod. “Very well. But if you can’t convince him… then we’re doing it my way.”

 

 


 

 

 

750 million dollars…

Lena swallowed, looking at her computer which was displaying her freshly depleted bank account. There was no other way, right? I mean, Edge hadn’t left her another choice. With his dubious hands on CatCo, the people would lose the most trustworthy news outlet in the city. And sure, whatever, Kara had benefitted from her actions too, but that hadn’t been a factor. Only someone who’d lost their mind would spend that kind of money on a good friend keeping their job. A good friend… She could almost hear Maggie and Sam laughing at her for that particular phrasing. Thinking about Sam, Lena suddenly felt a whole lot worse about buying CatCo, considering Snapper would definitely not be happy about this turn of events. She’d even talked to the girl about why this was a bad idea, and yet here we were. Lena sighed as she closed her laptop, momentarily putting a pin in her risky investment, before throwing a wary glance to her left where the ghost of Robert Van de Kamp was pacing restlessly.

“You know I can’t tell him you’re dead, right?” she started carefully. “No one is supposed to know about that yet.”

The man waved dismissively, still pacing. “I don’t care what you tell him, just get him in line.”

Lena was momentarily stunned by the man’s lack of interest in informing his relatives about his death. She’d already been prepared to explain that she could tell Maggie later on to match his DNA with the found remains, but hey, one less argument to have today. The standoff with Morgan Edge and having to actually reprimand Trevor for being late had already been quite enough for her taste. Although it was still a low count by her standards.

“Remember to mention the horrible job prospects.” Robert continued, eyes fixed on the floor. “Not to mention the-”

“Ms. Luthor?” Lena and Robert both looked to the doors, where a timid knock was followed by Hector carefully stepping inside. “You wanted to see me?”

Lena straightened her posture and put her game face on. “Yes, please have a seat.” She motioned to the visitor’s chairs and Hector crossed the room to sink down in one, looking rather uneasy.

“Um… am I in trouble? Because I’m really sorry about the coffee, I promise I’ll remember-”

“No, Hector, please relax.” She smiled at her second assistant, trying  to reassure him. “It’s just that when Jess hired you, we were kind of in a rush to find a replacement after the whole… Alana situation. So I thought it was time we finally had a proper interview.”

“An- an interview?!” The man sat up, looking alarmed. “So, like, are you considering other candidates now too, or… oh god… am I losing my job?!” Hector looked like he was about to panic, so Lena held out her hand.

“You’re not losing your job, Hector.”

“Oh, really?!” the sneer from beside her was loud and Lena clenched her jaw, ignoring the voice of the man who wasn’t supposed to be there.

“I just make a point of getting to know my employees.” Lena reassured her assistant, who leaned back in his chair, albeit still seeming less than comfortable. “So…” Lena slid the man’s résumé closer to herself, “…Hector Julius Van de Kamp, 20 years old, went to high school right here in National City, got into Stanford University in 2015, but dropped out a little over a year later, despite solid academic results.” Lena looked up, Hector looking sheepishly to the side. “That’s all correct, right?”

“Yep. That’s me. Well, I’m almost 21 but who’s counting, right?” He chuckled nervously, but realised that this probably wasn’t the best moment to joke around. Lena kept her composure, despite feeling aggravated that she was apparently going to have to drag the information out of him.

“So… anything else?” Lena inquired. “Just… tell me about yourself. For example, what made you want to study business? Why Stanford?”

Hector sighed, scratching his neck before unsurely responding. “It wasn’t really a decision, exactly, I…” he sighed again and shifted in his seat, “…I never really considered any other option. Look, Ms. Luthor…” he leaned forward and turned unusually serious, “…the truth is I never really thought much about my future as a kid. You know, my dad had this big company, he expected me to take over at some point, he had my whole school trajectory planned out for me and quite frankly it never really bothered me that much. I never really cared. It’s not like I had some… I don’t know, some burning desire to be a doctor or an artist or whatever, so why not take a guaranteed future, right? Even if it did involve that guy…” he paused for a moment looking at the floor.

“That guy?” Lena inquired carefully.

“My dad,” Hector clarified. “He and I, we… never really got along. He always made it clear I wasn’t trying hard enough, that I was too smart to be getting average grades or that I was too articulate to not get involved in debate clubs, or that I was too lax in general.”

“He was a spoiled brat and nothing else!!” Robert snapped. “He was the laziest person you’ll ever meet, and if he had even tried to put the effort in to live up to his potential, he-” Lena took advantage of Hector still looking at the floor to shoot the ghost beside her a warning glare. The man huffed through his nose, ending his rant as he put his hands behind his back and begrudgingly fell quiet.

“It was mostly manageable, really,” Hector continued, as Lena focused her attention back to him, “until the end of last year, at least.” The assistant swallowed, frowning deeply as he stayed quiet for a moment, before lifting his head and continuing with a troubled look on his face. “It happened during Christmas break. I was back home and I overheard my dad complaining about some alien fight club that got shut down. Apparently he was annoyed that it wasn’t a useful investment anymore now that it got broken up by the cops. He wasn’t angry about the whole thing, he was just annoyed. I mean… he didn’t hate aliens… he didn’t think they were a threat to national security, or anything like that. He just didn’t care… he didn’t care how many were being mangled or dying in there… he didn’t care.”

Lena frowned at the young man, as he looked incredibly bitter while wringing his hands together. “So when I got back to college, I just didn’t know what to do. I mean, wasn’t I being exactly like him? Wasn’t I just at Stanford because I didn’t really care about my future? How long until I turned into my dad? How long until I would stop caring about other people’s lives? How long until I would start making money off other people’s misery without even caring about it?”

Lena swallowed nervously at the young man’s story as she shot a glance to her left, expecting Robert to bark something back at his son again. Instead, she saw the man looking at Hector with a very deep frown.

“It was about a month later that I read that article and that I finally decided to do something about it. It was the one in CatCo, after you escaped from Cadmus and after everyone thought you had joined them.” He actually smiled now as he shifted in his seat. “I mean, it kind of put things in perspective, you know? You were like me on steroids. Metaphorical ones, I mean. While I had this slightly controlling father and this sense that I was stuck on a path that I didn’t want anymore, you had a mother leading a terrorist organisation and who was kidnapping you and you still got out of it, all the while keeping this gigantic business under your thumb.” Hector smiled nervously at her, while Lena was slightly taken off guard by the turn of the conversation. “I mean… maybe this sounds weird, but… your story was pretty inspirational.”

Scratch being taken off guard, Lena could now count herself completely floored. She struggled to form a response, which is probably why she ended up asking the least relevant question. “You read CatCo magazine?”

“Well… yeah. Their fashion articles are pretty extensive, they definitely go a lot more in-depth than most other magazines.”

Lena actively refrained herself from asking about his reading habits, instead inviting him to continue his story.

“Oh, right,” Hector cleared his throat, “so then I did it. I dropped out, I went back to National City and told my dad what was up. He was furious, of course, but I finally didn’t have to care about what he thought anymore.” He smiled wryly. “If he wanted to keep funding the torturing of aliens, fine, but at least I didn’t have to be a part of it anymore. At least I could say that I wanted nothing to do with that monster. I mean, it was still kind of a hard pill to swallow… my dad being a lot worse of a person than I thought, but…” Hector laughed self-consciously, “well, I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you how that feels.” He chuckled again, while Lena swallowed nervously, feeling very surprised by the extended silence from the ghost beside her. “Of course after that, things got even less rosier.”

Lena frowned. “How so?”

“Well as it turns out, nobody is really eager to hire a college dropout, no matter how prestigious the college was. Also, I was kind of surprised by what passes for a ‘standard’ apartment.” Hector shook his head, looking mildly horrified. “Living in a room the size of a post stamp is something I’m still getting used to.”

“Forgive me, Hector,” Lena interrupted, “but while I understand where you’re coming from, so far you’ve only mentioned that you don’t want to be like your father. So… what is it you do want to be?”

“Well, I don’t know… I just… wanted to be useful, you know? I…” he scratched his neck looking slightly embarrassed, “I just… wanted to be more like you, I guess.” The man paused, looking at his shoes, and Lena was torn between being flattered and being suspicious. Because admiring Lena Luthor this much, was something she thought only Kara was capable of. And maybe the people in that one alien bar, but still, it wasn’t something she encountered every day. “So that’s why I got real excited when I saw that add about being an assistant at L-Corp,” Hector continued. “I didn’t really think I’d have a chance of getting the job but you know, I had to try. But then I showed up and it turned out that the only requirements were: ‘Has a basic understanding of economics’ and ‘Can start right now’. So… here I am.”

Hector let out a nervous chuckle as he gestured towards himself, while Lena was struggling with herself right now. The young man seemed incredibly happy to be working here, but if she didn’t at least try to get him away from L-Corp, she could make the ghost beside her very mad. Which in turn could get her into hot water with Roulette, which in turn would not bode well for her long-term mental health. She leaned her elbows on the desk, giving Hector an intent look. “So you don’t intend to go back to college?” she asked with a frown. “You don’t have any plans beyond… being my assistant?”

Hector’s smile faded as he seemed to shrink under Lena’s intent look. “Not really?” he said in a slightly pleading voice. “I mean… maybe someday I’ll find something that I really want to do, but… for now I’m just happy that I can be useful. For a company… and a person… who are trying to do good.” He gave her an uncertain look. “I mean, that… that’s not a bad thing, right?”

Lena clenched her jaw as she kept giving her second assistant an intent look. Her mind was working overtime, desperately trying to come up with another solution. One that wouldn’t end with Roulette unleashing her worst nightmare on her or with Hector losing a job that, to be honest, Lena felt less and less like taking away from him. Lena kept sitting there, probably a little too long, before pulling the trigger on a very hard decision. But in the end… she simply refused to face the alternative.

“Thank you, Hector, I’m glad we had this talk.” She started shoving the papers in front of her to the side, while Hector hesitantly stood up from his chair.

“That’s it? There is-” he momentarily flinched at the sound of his phone buzzing, but he ignored it, “there is really nothing else?”

Lena raised her eyebrows. “Why, do you need to tell me something else?”

“Oh… no.” He laughed with apparent relief. “I was just really worried there for a second. I mean… I know that Jess isn’t exactly my biggest fan,” he finished unsurely.

Lena smiled. “She just has very high standards. I’m sure she’ll come around if you keep at it.”

Hector smiled with relief before thanking her and heading for the exit, taking out his phone that had buzzed another few times with incoming texts. The man frowned at the screen and Lena still heard his muttered words before he reached the double doors: “Who the hell is Eve Tessmacher?”

Lena was very nervous as she threw a glance to her side, expecting a fierce argument to be on the horizon between herself and the ghost of Hector’s father. But the man wasn’t even looking at her; he stepped right through the desk, his hand outstretched to the doors that were closing behind Hector. “Wait…”

Lena was highly surprised at the man’s tone, not anywhere near as commanding as it had been before. She watched as the man lowered his hand and hung his head while leaning back against the very desk he’d just stepped through. Lena ignored all the metaphysical questions that image raised, instead rounding the desk and stopping next to the man.

“I didn’t realise…” he breathed out, “I had no idea he hated me that much…”

Lena crossed her arms as she gave the ghost a pensive look. “Look… Robert… I can’t exactly say I agree with your investments. But I can tell you from experience that you’re far from the worst parent in the world.” She tried to give the ghost a sympathetic look, the scars on her back maybe tingling a little, but the man kept looking at the double doors.

“Ms. Luthor… could you do me a favour?” The man finally looked over, giving Lena a deep frown. “If he’s still your assistant in three years… could you tell him to get his act together?”

Lena’s eyebrows shot up, relief setting in now that she realised the man wasn’t going to go running back to Roulette. “Yes,” she said softly, “of course.”

“Good,” the man nodded to himself. “It’s just… some people are too smart to be someone’s assistant forever, you know?”

“Yes,” Lena agreed, looking to the side while not really thinking about Hector right now. “You’re right.”

Lena was still looking away, when she noticed the light out of the side of her eye. She looked back at the man beside her, finding that he had started emitting light. The ghostly man didn’t say another word as he just kept looking at the double doors where his son had just walked out, while the light started glowing brighter. Lena watched the now very familiar sight of the light starting to move over the man’s figure, as it crept from the top of his head and the outside of his arms and legs towards the centre of his stomach. His face disappeared behind the glow, as slowly but surely the light merged together below his ribs, leaving just the outline of a human body, shaped by the light. The figure started pulling apart, the light forming those familiar orbs that slowly started detaching themselves and floating away. Lena kept looking as they hung motionless in the air for a moment before starting to fade. She never looked away, as they kept dimming and dimming until finally, all traces of the ghost of Hector’s father were gone. Leaving just the youngest Luthor leaning against her desk, looking at the empty space beside her.

 

Robert Van de Kamp had just passed on.

Lena stood there for a long time, with countless worries running through her head. Like Hector finding out about his father’s death once Maggie would match the man’s DNA with the remains in the demolished fight club. Like if all the other ghosts sent by Roulette would try to blackmail her. Like the complete mystery of Roulette using these ghosts to stalk people. Like what the woman would command her to do, once she would feel that Lena could be ‘useful to her’. But in the end, she put it all at the back of her mind. Not only because of her increasingly severe headache, but also because she had to focus on her impending public speech about a certain blonde Superhero.

And focus on not letting her disproportionate affection for the woman shine through while she did it.

 

 


 

 

Lena just couldn’t seem to get through a public speech without some catastrophe occurring.

Which would have definitely been her main concern at the moment, if it wasn’t for Supergirl grabbing Morgan Edge by his collar and flying out the window with him just now. Lena was biting her nails while staring out of her office window, because after ignoring her for the past few weeks, this was now the second display of glaringly unusual behaviour by Kara. She was still worrying about it, when the superhero suddenly made her return, graciously landing on her balcony before stepping inside with very little of her Supergirl bravado to be seen.

“Kara…” she quickly glanced towards the doors to make sure they were really alone.

“Um… hi. Sorry about that…” Kara mumbled, arms crossed and not seeming very sure of herself.

“It’s fine, just…” Lena frowned at the woman, “I can’t believe I’m asking this, but is Morgan Edge alright?”

“Oh, yeah he’s fine,” Kara waved her hand, her trademark smile still conspicuous by its absence. “I just left him to cool off for a while, I’m sure the coast guard will get him eventually.”

“The coast guard?!!”

“Yeah, but he’s actually the reason I came back to talk to you.” Kara crossed her arms again, as Lena gave her a questioning look. “He is more dangerous than we thought. He ordered that attack on the waterfront.”

“Well,” Lena huffed out a breath, “I guess-”

“So you really need to stay away from him.”

Lena raised her eyebrows at the superhero. “You make it sound like I always go looking for trouble,” she smirked, trying to at least get Kara to show a glimpse of a smile.

“I’m serious, Lena,” the alien woman stepped closer, “you shouldn’t take unnecessary risks. I can’t lose…” Kara swallowed, looking very uncomfortable for a moment, “…I mean… you should be careful with your life.”

Lena huffed, thinking she sounded awfully familiar to that quack of a dr. Talbot, when talking about how precious life could be. God, she hated that guy. “While I do try to be careful,” she started, “Edge has stakes in about a dozen companies in this city. I can’t exactly guarantee I won’t run into him at some point.” Lena  looked on as the alien woman crossed her arms and gave her a deep frown. “But speaking of avoiding people,” Lena swallowed, as she looked into those distant blue eyes, “is there… any reason why you’ve been ignoring me for the past few weeks?”

Kara shook her head. “No, I haven’t… I told you, I’ve just been busy,” she muttered softly.

As Kara gazed at the floor, Lena recognised the look of someone who wasn’t telling the whole truth. She took a step closer, feeling out of her depth in the least pleasant way possible, as she looked at Kara without even bothering to attempt upholding her poise and dignity anymore. “Kara, did I… did I do something wrong?” Lena almost winced at the sound of her own voice, because she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d sounded so pathetic.

“No… no, of course not,” Kara muttered, still looking at the floor.

“Okay…” Lena swallowed, feeling torn between preserving a shred of dignity and finding out what was wrong with Kara, “…because you know you can tell me anything, right? Whatever is bothering you…” she took another tentative step closer to Kara, who wasn’t smiling at her or sitting next to her or fretting over her or doing any of the things that made Kara… well, Kara. Lena didn’t know if she could stand it for much longer.

“Actually… there’s this one thing that has been bothering me. Something kind of disturbing… something Winn said…”

Lena felt her heart drop as she froze in place. Of course Winn couldn’t keep a secret. Of course he’d told the woman everything. Everything was ruined, Kara would never want to see her again, and Lena would spend the rest of her days torturing Winn in her basement, pulling his nails out with a rusty-

“…he said you hate musicals.”

Lena involuntarily huffed out a laugh, out of relief more than anything. “And that’s… that’s disturbing?” she forced out through her nervous laughter.

“Well, yeah…” Kara’s brow relaxed and oh… right there… that was almost a smile, wasn’t it? “…we’ve watched plenty of musicals together and you never said anything! I even showed you The Wizard of Oz, which is like, the greatest musical ever!”

Lena let out another fit of giggles at the sight of Kara seemingly showing a glimpse of her former self. “I was just trying to take an interest in your tastes,” she smiled, “but I’m sorry, it’s really hard to enjoy a movie when people suddenly burst into song all the time.” Lena smirked. “People don’t do that, you know?”

“But they could!” Lena laughed out loud at Kara’s apparent offence. “Here, I’ll show you…” Kara loudly cleared her throat and adjusted her stance. Lena frowned at the action, her smile still in place, but before she could question it Kara opened her mouth again:

Though it’s you and it’s I, all the time…”

“Kara, what-”

“…every meeting’s a marvellous pastime,”

“Are you seriously doing this right now?”

“You’re increasingly sweet,”

Lena snorted loudly at the woman’s impromptu concert. “Oh my god, Kara.”

“So whenever we happen to meet…”

“Someone’s going to hear you,” Lena tried to protest, but she was barely controlling her laughter anymore as she cackled loudly at the sight of Supergirl singing in the middle of her office.

“I greet you…” Lena completely lost it, as Kara started swaying with her arms stretched out as if she was directing an imaginary orchestra, “…with a song in my heart.”

“Oh, god… stop…” Lena was barely standing up at this point, as she held her stomach while the bursts of laughter were testing her ribs, and she tried to not fall out of her heels at the hilarious sight of Supergirl bursting out into song.

“See, it’s… it’s completely appropriate sometimes…” Kara chuckled.

Lena’s giggles quickly died out, because she’d heard the wonderful sound of Kara’s laughter and as she looked up, she caught sight of Kara’s wide grin and happy chuckles. “I’ve missed your smile…” she breathed out. Lena instantly regretted her impulsive choice of words, as Kara seemed to go stiff for a moment and looked as if she suddenly remembered that she wasn’t supposed to have fun.

“Yeah, I… I really have to go now, though.”

“Okay,” Lena said, stepping closer ungraciously fast.

“I think I heard a-” Kara inhaled sharply and didn’t finish her thought, because Lena had suddenly wrapped her in a hug. And yes, Lena was well aware that this was the single most childish response to her best friend pulling away from her, but Kara had been about to fly away again and this was all Lena felt like doing right now: Hold her close.

“Don’t be a stranger,” she muttered, unable to steady the tone of her voice as she was once again reminded of how little control she had over her emotions in the woman’s presence. While Lena said it, Kara’s stiff posture suddenly moved, as the girl of steel put her arms around her in return and Lena was very confused. She was confused, because Kara had just let out a ragged breath, as if she’d missed her as much as Lena had missed Kara. She was confused, because Kara was hugging her so tight that it was almost painful, and it was almost as if the hero was afraid to ever let go of her. And again, Lena was very confused because hadn’t she been the one who’d been avoiding her? Why did it feel like Kara had had enough of her one minute, only to hug her like she was afraid of losing her the next? Was there anything at all that made even a lick of sense anymore these days? Lena just stood there, hoping Kara would hold her for another minute, maybe another hour, possibly one more lifetime… when they were both startled by the sound of someone loudly clearing their throat.

They quickly let go  of each other to see Jess standing there, while giving both of them a curious look. “Ms. Luthor… I have CatCo’s organisational structure and their financial overview from last year, like you asked.”

“Ah, yes,” Lena nervously straightened her skirt, as she reluctantly stepped away from Kara and took the files that Jess had brought in, quickly skimming the contents.

“Could I have a word with you? In private?”

Lena blinked as she looked up, rather baffled at her assistant’s request. “You can talk freely, Jess,” she said with confusion in her voice, “I have nothing to hide fr-”

“No, no, I meant… could I have a word with Supergirl?” Jess pointedly looked past Lena and at the hero standing behind her.

“Oh,” Kara said, sounding as surprised as Lena felt, “well… sure, I guess…” she shrugged in Lena’s direction as she followed Jess towards the door, throwing one last confused look over her shoulder before closing the doors behind her. Lena blinked a few times, now left standing alone in her office, and she wondered what on earth Jess felt she couldn’t talk about in front of her. She supposed she could add that to the growing list of mysteries in her life.

Whatever happened to the good old days when she could always count on logic to prevail?

 

 



 

 

 

A heart.

Lena stared at her phone in horror as she realised what she had just done.

A red goddamn heart.

Lena groaned loudly into her hands, because this was the most embarrassing thing she had ever done, and yes, that included her speech to an unconscious Kara. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was still ridiculous. It was all Kara’s fault, really. First she ignored her for weeks, then she showed up in her billowing cape and took off with her newest rival like some knight in shining armour, then she hugged her like she never wanted to let go (and to be honest, Lena wouldn’t mind if she didn’t), and then she left without saying goodbye. So, yeah, if her emotions were maybe flooding out of her a little bit after the woman finally sent her a text for the first time in god knows how long, then it was all Kara’s fault!

Lena rubbed her neck, still sitting in her office despite the fact that Kara would definitely disapprove of that considering it was 9 PM, as she wondered what she should do now. Was sending a heart a red flag? Did this mean Kara would get suspicious now? I mean, it’s not appropriate to send your friends hearts via text messages, right? Even Kara with all her emoji-ridden texting habits, never seemed to include that particular icon. Or was it something that friends do? Lena groaned dramatically, because at times like these her lack of experience in having friends really didn’t do her any favours.

“Ms. Luthor?” Lena looked up at the voice, seeing Jess poke her head inside, before fully stepping through. “You wanted to see me?”

Lena cleared her throat, momentarily forcing her strawberry panic -(Panic! Just panic! Goddamn you, Winn!)- to the back of her mind as she focused on Jess who stepped up to the desk.

“Yes, I did,” she said, standing up from her seat as she rounded the desk to come face to face with her assistant. “So as you know, I have just acquired CatCo. Which was an unforeseen expense,” Lena huffed, “but given the circumstances, something that needed to be done.”

“It was very brave,” Jess stated stoically, not a hint of irony to be seen on her face.

“Be that as it may,” Lena smiled, “I will need someone to run L-Corp, while I familiarize myself with the ins and outs at CatCo; I will preferably be spending the majority of my upcoming time over there.”

Jess nodded seriously. “Way ahead of you, Ms. Luthor. I’ve already compiled a list of possible candidates who might be fit to act as your CFO. It’s on my desk, I’ll go and get-” she went to turn around, but Lena motioned her to stop.

“While I appreciate that, Jess,” she started, turning more serious, “I actually already have someone in mind.”

“Oh, okay.” Jess kept giving her a questioning look, while Lena stayed quiet for a moment. “So… are you going to tell me who it is?” she asked.

Lena gave a thin smile. “You.”

Jess seemed to momentarily freeze, and Lena could almost see her assistant forcing that word through her mental faculties. “Oh…” her eyes went wide. “OH!” She promptly dropped her writing pad on the floor, before scrambling to pick it back up. “Are- are- are you sure, Ms. Luthor?! I mean, with my limited experience and the fact I’ve never held a similar-”

“Before you start doubting yourself,” Lena interrupted, “might I point out that you actually do have a degree in both management and economics, despite never getting to put them to full use. You’ve also been shadowing me for over two years, so you know,” she tried to wink, but didn’t quite pull it off, “you’ve learned from the best. Besides…” Lena turned completely serious, “some people are too smart to be someone’s assistant forever. And there’s no one else I would trust with my company.” Jess swallowed, seemingly processing everything, as Lena looked her over. “So… are you interested?” she asked carefully.

Jess looked up and, like she so often did, lifted her chin and put her hands behind her back like a military cadet while giving Lena an intent look. “I would be honoured,” she stated seriously. Lena chuckled at the seriousness in Jess’s voice, but before she could point out that she didn’t need to be this solemn about it, Jess suddenly frowned as if she’d suddenly thought of something. “Ms. Luthor… as your CFO I would be in charge of everything… including personnel matters, correct?” Jess was starting to show a wide grin, but Lena’s mood turned serious.

“You’re not firing Hector,” she stated firmly.

“Damn it.”

Lena fondly shook her head at the disappointment. “He’s really not that bad, Jess. But I do appreciate that now all my employees will be held to high standards.” She smiled at her soon-to-be former assistant.

“What about…” Jess gave her a determined look, “…the PR department?”

Lena squinted her eyes at the woman, who didn’t flinch, before letting out a sigh. “Spare the interns.”

“Yes!!”

Lena snorted at the outburst, while Jess seemed too happy to be self-conscious about it. “We will go over the details tomorrow, but considering we will soon be sharing duties in running L-Corp, there is something very important you could already start doing right now.” Lena started to smirk at the woman who just nodded seriously. “You can go home at a reasonable hour.”

“Oh.” Jess deflated slightly as she glanced at the clock at the wall. “Well, alright. Goodnight, Ms. Luthor.” Jess started walking away, very audibly muttering something about pots and kettles, when Lena suddenly remembered something.

“Jess…” the woman stopped near the doors and turned around, while Lena gave her a small frown, “…when we needed to hire a new assistant, you spent a whole day interviewing people. If you really didn’t think that much of Hector… why did you hire him anyway?” she asked confused. Jess turned to face her fully, resuming her military cadet stance, before responding seriously.

 

“He was the only one who admired you as much as I do.”

 

Chapter Text

 

September 12th 2017

 

Lena was supposed to be tough.

She was supposed to be poised and dignified in her new place of work. She was supposed to keep looking ahead. She was supposed to walk away with her head held high and her shoulders squared after telling off an unruly employee. But because that unruly employee happened to be Kara Danvers, she forgot everything she was supposed to be after taking five steps, and instead slowed down and threw a glance over her shoulder. She was just in time to catch Kara briskly walking towards the elevator, and Lena felt an unreasonable sting of guilt. It was unreasonable, because Kara’s behaviour was unacceptable. It was unprofessional, and Lena had every right to confront her about it. But she would so much prefer it, if Kara would just tell her what was going on with her. Lena sighed as she walked past James’ office and towards the nearby cubicles, because the day had started off so positive, she thought bitterly.

 

“Ahhh, Lena!”

The ding of her elevator had barely sounded upon arriving at the top floor of L-Corp, when Lena was greeted by a familiar face, the man walking up to her while she stepped into the hallway to her office. Lena smiled at the old man while behind him, Jess looked less than pleased.

“Mr. Berkley,” Lena gently greeted back, as the elderly board member shook her hand. “We don’t see you on the top floor that often.”

“Ahhh, yes,” the old man nodded his head, causing the few strands of white hair on his head to bounce along. “I was just giving some advice to your new director,” he motioned to Jess, who gave him the most forced smile Lena had ever seen.

“Mr. Berkley…” Lena interjected, “…we call them CFO’s these days.”

“Oh, yes, yes,” he croaked a small laugh while shaking his head, “they just keep changing the names of things. It gets rather confusing sometimes, I… oh, dear.” He suddenly glanced at his watch. “I should get going, but it was nice to see you again, Lena. You ladies have a good day.” He waved at Lena and Jess, before slowly shuffling to the elevator and pressing the button for the ground floor. As soon as the doors closed, Jess was standing beside her with her arms crossed and an unfriendly look on her face.

“Is he always so patronising?” Jess asked coolly.

“Patronising?” Lena asked with raised eyebrows.

“He called you by your first name.”

“He’s known me since I was five.”

“He used your private elevator.”

“He’s 68, I can’t exactly force him to use the stairs.”

“He kept trying to tell me how to do my job,” Jess grumbled, her arms still crossed.

Lena just laughed at that. “I’ll admit he’s a bit overbearing at times, but he’s the only board member I can trust to always be fair.” Jess just huffed in annoyance, clearly not entirely convinced by Lena’s assessment. “But let’s talk about more urgent matters,” she gave her former assistant an intent look. “Are you nervous?” she asked, her voice softening considerably. “About your first day running L-Corp by yourself?”

“No,” Jess immediately shot back. They both looked at each other in silence for a moment. “Okay, fine, I’m terrified.” Jess huffed out a breath, nervously adjusting her shirt, and Lena couldn’t help but feel like she was looking at a mirror through space and time, as this was almost the exact state she’d been in when the board had offered her the job of CEO of L-Corp a little over two years ago. But only behind closed doors, of course. When there was no one to see that there were sometimes cracks in her mask of poise and dignity.

“Relax, Jess. I’m sure you’ll do fine,” she reassured her. “We both will,” she added, because she was about to dive into a relatively foreign business herself, after all.

“So… how about you?” Jess questioned. “Are you nervous?”

Lena shrugged. “A little, I suppose.” She refrained from explaining that her nerves more resembled butterflies, and that her hesitant smile was less uncertainty and more barely contained excitement at the thought of seeing Kara all day. And all day, every day for the foreseeable future. Okay, so maybe she was nervous. “But it’s all going to be fine,” she reassured Jess. “I mean,” she chuckled as she shrugged and huffed out a breath, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

 

Kara snapping at her was the worst that could happen.

And fine, whatever, she knew that wasn’t entirely accurate and that maybe, just maybe, she was being a little dramatic. But apart from serious physical injury or one of her companies experiencing a freak crash in market value, this pretty much was the thing that would make her feel worse than anything else.

Lena sighed as she kept walking across the work floor, wondering what else could be going through Kara’s head if her curious behaviour as of late really wasn’t about Mon-el. I mean, it wasn’t as bad as before; she was actually smiling again, they were texting, and she wasn’t avoiding her that much, but it was still a far cry from the permanent ray of sunshine she used to be. Even Winn and Maggie didn’t seem to understand what was going on. Lena tried, but she couldn’t think of any other explanation that could warrant so much distance in such a sweet and caring person. She didn’t get a chance to think any deeper about it. She didn’t get a chance, because as she walked past all the busy work stations she suddenly saw something rather unusual.

There was a teenager standing in the middle of the busy work floor, looking completely lost. The skinny boy, sporting jeans, a blue hoodie and an unsure expression, was searching the room with his eyes. Lena frowned as she stepped closer to the blond kid who was about as tall as her, while he kept gazing unsurely around the office.

“Are you looking for someone?” she questioned. The teenager jumped up in surprise, turning around with a start. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Lena reassured him, as the teenager just kept looking at her with wide eyes.

“You’re Lena Luthor!”

“Um… yes,” Lena said unsurely, not sure what the big deal was, “were you looking for someone?” she repeated, trying to remember if any of the employees on the floor had children. Normally she would scold herself for not knowing such basic information, but come on, it was her first day at CatCo for crying out loud.

“Well… yeah, um… you. I was looking for you. Roulette said you help dead people?”

Lena tensed, realising she’d been talking to thin air in the middle of a crowded office. She nervously looked to her sides, noticing that no one seemed to have caught her curious behaviour. She took out her phone, sighing with relief at her dumb luck. Because that was way too close. One of these days, she thought bitterly as she brought the phone to her ear. One of these days she really needed to come up with a method to recognise ghosts without them having to walk through solid objects.

“Yes,” Lena spoke into her phone, avoiding eye contact with the ghost in front of her, “that is correct.”

“You’re… you’re still talking to me, right?” the boy questioned unsurely.

“Yes, I am,” Lena responded, still pretending to talk on the phone, as she started walking out of the busy office and into the corridors on the floor.

“Am… am I supposed to follow you, or…?”

“Yes,” Lena said, still walking through the parts of the floor she wasn’t quite familiar with and trying to find a secluded space. “As soon as we establish a location, we can commence our discussions,” Lena said in her professional voice, cordially nodding to a passing employee. While still looking around for a place to talk to the kid, James Olsen suddenly ran past them with a panicked expression on his face, holding a handwritten sign that said ‘Elevator out of order’.

She wondered what that was about…

The quest for an isolated place was resolved just beyond a storage room at the end of a tiny hallway, in front of a bland door where it appeared no one needed to be. Lena tried the handle, thankfully finding it unlocked, and stepped inside what appeared to be an abandoned office. It was a strange room, because on top of two desks in the corner stood a few dusty, but advanced looking computers, while in the middle of the room there was a blank whiteboard. There were also a few chairs stacked on top of each other in the corner. So much for efficient usage of office space.

“Okay,” Lena breathed out as she finally lowered her phone and turned to the boy, “I will help you, of course,” she assured him, “but first I’ll need to know some details.”

“Oh… yeah, okay. I’m Jay Lasseter, I’m 16 years old and I go to National City High-”

“No, no,” Lena motioned for him to stop, “I need to know about Roulette. I know she’s been using the people that died in that building to do things for her and I need to know everything she asked you to do, and anything else that might tell me what she’s up to.”

“Um…” Jay shifted nervously on his feet, “…she was actually pretty insistent that we didn’t tell you anything…”

“She doesn’t have to know,” Lena reassured him, despite her sense of exasperation, “and I will help you anyway, so please, anything you can tell me would be helpful.”

The ghostly teenager cleared his throat as he moved his hands to his pockets. “Well… okay…” he started hesitantly, “but I’m not sure how much this will help. I mean… I just followed a few people.”

“What people?” Lena asked intently. “Who were they? What-”

“I’m sorry, I- I really don’t know,” Jay stammered. “She just showed me the person that I had to follow and told me to tell her every last detail of their day when they went to sleep. And after a week or so, she suddenly showed up and told me to stop, only to show me someone else I needed to follow.”

Lena frowned at the story, as the gears in her head were turning. “Did these people do anything unusual? Did they have something in common?”

“I… don’t think so?” Jay shrugged. “The first guy worked at a bank and spent most nights watching TV, and the second one was a girl who was a waitress and who went to the same bar most of the time. And then… when I kind of lost track of her for a while, Roulette was really angry and told me that she would use someone capable, and that I’d better go and see you if I was really that useless.” The boy drooped his head as he sheepishly looked at the floor.

“I need their names,” Lena stated decisively, moving to the desks with the dusty computers and opening a drawer to find pen and paper.

“Oh… um…” the boy frowned, apparently trying to remember, “the guy was Daniel Potts, and… the girl was Meryl Evans.”

Lena nodded with her brow furrowed in concentration, because now she had some semblance of a trail to follow. As she finished writing the names down on the small pad she’d found, she noticed Jay standing with his hands deep in his pockets while sporting that same unsure expression and Lena suddenly thought of something. “Jay… if you don’t mind me asking… what were you doing in that building?”

The kid sighed as he avoided Lena’s eyes. “It’s kind of… stupid.” Lena kept looking at him with raised eyebrows until he finally elaborated: “I was at this party… you know, one of those ‘summer vacation is almost over’ parties. It was at  Ronnie Maverick’s house and I heard him bragging to his friends that he knew where some alien fight club would be, because he’d apparently heard his dad saying that he’d been invited but didn’t want to go, or something like that. So…” Jay nervously shifted on his feet, “…I kind of sneaked upstairs and found the address.” He nervously cleared his throat. “But when I went to look for the place the next day, Ronnie was there too,” Jay continued. “He was pretty angry, but I convinced him to not beat me up by pointing out that I could help him get into the building. We were crawling through the air ducts when… well…” he seemed to go bleak for a moment, “…everything exploded. Why… why are you writing that down?”

Lena didn’t look up as she kept scribbling on the small pad that she’d found. “Because Ronnie's parents, and yours too by the way, might be interested to know what happened to their kids,” she explained. “I have a friend at the police department, she’ll match yours and Ronnie’s DNA to the remains in the building so your parents will know that…” Lena paused, thinking of a delicate way to put it, but realised that there wasn’t one, “…that you’re dead.”

“Oh… yeah, that makes sense.” Jay sighed as he shook his head. “I knew it was a stupid idea. It probably wouldn't have worked either…”

Lena frowned at that. “What were you trying to 'make work' exactly?”

“It's just… I thought maybe knowing where an alien fight club is, might… I don't know, make me look cool?”

Lena’s eyebrows shot up, barely containing her surprise, as she crossed her arms and gave him an incredulous look. “That was your objective?” she asked, trying her hardest to not sound too condescending. “To get some high school kids to think that you were cool?”

“Not… not kids…” Jay muttered defensively, “just… just one of them…”

“One of them?” Lena insisted, not sure how that justified his actions.

“Yeah, just… just Evangeline Naito…”

Lena’s expression softened, as the stupidity of the boy’s actions suddenly made sense. She sighed as she moved to the side and uncrossed her arms, instead clasping her hands together in front of her as she leaned against one of the two desks. “So it's about a girl?” she questioned, this time more gently.

“I told you it was stupid,” Jay muttered, as a redness on his neck seemed to reach for his ears. “I just thought that maybe she would see me differently. It just... was never really a possibility... I mean...” he sighed very deeply and took his hands out of his pockets to cross his arms, “sometimes you just know that you're not good enough.” He huffed out a breath. “I wouldn't expect you to understand…”

“No, I…” Lena swallowed, as bright smiles, colourful sweaters and honest blue eyes flashed through her mind, “I understand perfectly.” She cleared her throat as she crossed her arms again. “But I have to say… an alien fight club would only impress a certain kind of people. And in my experience they're not very pleasant company.”

Jay just shrugged as he apparently had lost the ability to make eye contact. “I just thought it was better than sending her that letter…”

Great. Five minutes in, and she was already feeling for the kid. Lena felt her cool demeanour crumble as she uncrossed her arms. “You wrote her a letter?”

“Yes…” the boy swallowed as he scratched his neck, “I wrote it about a month before I died and… I think that's what I want to do now.” He actually made eye contact again and seemed more determined than he’d been up to this point. “I don't really have anything to lose anymore, right?” He shrugged. “I don't have to actually look her in the face while she tells me she's not interested. So I want to send her that letter now.” He swallowed as he seemed to turn uncertain again. “Um… please?” he added.

Lena sighed as she should probably thank her luck that she was getting served such a benevolent mission. There had definitely been ghosts with far more complicated requests, but there was still one major problem. “I suppose this letter is in your room?” she asked, already foreseeing the answer.

“Um… yes. Is that… a problem?”

Lena sighed as the gears in her head started turning. Breaking into someone’s house was a line she’d never been eager to cross and the one time she’d actually been stupid enough to try it, she’d gotten caught. As Lena thought this particular case over, however, she realised that the situation was different. Not only because it was highly unlikely that this ghost lived across the hall from a police officer again, but also because unlike last time… she wasn’t on her own.

Lena sighed as she took out her phone and pressed Winn’s number.

 

 


 

 

“Ugh… are we there yet?”

Lena sighed at Winn’s melodramatic tone, before turning to Jay with a questioning look and he informed her that it was just a few more blocks, which she relayed to the groaning man on her other side.

“I thought you had a driver,” Winn continued to complain as they walked through the eastern perimeter of National City, navigating the line between the inner city and the greener residential areas. “Why did we have to walk all the way out here?” The man let out another dramatic sigh and Lena rolled her eyes.

“First of all, it’s really not that far, Winn,” she reprimanded her overly dramatic sidekick. “Secondly, you’re not the one who’s wearing heels. And thirdly; I do have a driver but he’s been pretty unreliable the past few weeks; he keeps showing up late. And quite frankly I didn’t have the patience to keep waiting for him today.”

Winn kept muttering under his breath the rest of the way, with Trevor’s name dropping quite a few times in less-than-friendly context, before they finally arrived at their destination. “Well… that’s my place,” Jay motioned to the row house in front of them. “Or was my place, I guess.”

“Alright…” Lena carefully looked to the sides of the street, checking that there was truly no one nearby, before crossing the road with her two associates and stopping in front of the door, “…you’re sure this will work?” she questioned, as Winn took out a curious-looking piece of technology he took from the DEO and attached it to the lock.

“Of course! This device generates a condensed blast of energy, which I can regulate to be just strong enough to flick the lock without doing any damage, or making too much noise. Apparently it belonged to a bunch of Solturian thieves.” He glanced over at Lena, who didn’t feel all that reassured. “There’s really no need to worry. I mean,” Winn stuck out his chest as if to highlight the plastic badge pinned on his shirt, while giving her a cheeky grin, “when has your trusted PALL ever failed you?”

“Well, there was that one time you were supposed to help me with Maggie’s father…”

“That’s not fair! I got arrested!”

“He…” Lena looked to her side, where Jay was looking slightly unnerved, “…he got arrested?” the boy asked suspiciously.

“It was just a misunderstanding,” Lena reassured him, while the boy kept looking at her with raised eyebrows. “His girlfriend-”

The three of them suddenly jumped up in surprise at the sound coming from the device on the door, as the thunderous bang that it produced rang through the peaceful atmosphere of the neighbourhood like a gunshot. “You said it wouldn’t make any noise!!” Lena hissed, as she frantically looked back and forth between the adjacent houses.

“I… I must have miscalculated…”

“Just get inside!!” Lena hissed, nervously pushing the door open, while Jay followed and Winn quickly removed the device from the lock. Lena huffed out a nervous breath once the door closed behind them, because Lena Luthor being caught breaking and entering during her lunch break was not a headline she was looking forward to. As Winn kept examining the device and muttering that it didn’t make any sense, Lena looked at the wall in the narrow hallway, which displayed a long line of pictures showing Jay in different stages of growing up. Some of them also included his parents.

“Yeah… my mom’s kind of sentimental,” Jay commented as he noticed Lena looking at the pictures. “I don’t think she’s actually gone into my room since I disappeared.”

“And your dad?” Lena questioned, glancing at the ghost beside her.

“He’s less sentimental,” Jay chuckled. “He turned my room upside down, trying to look for clues on where I went. Their current theory is that I ran away from home for some reason. Thankfully he didn’t find the letter, though.” He sighed as he looked at the pictures of his family, and Lena looked between him and a particular one he was staring at. “He’s pretty obsessed with antiques and history and stuff like that,” Jay laughed as he pointed at the picture he was looking at, which showed a blond ten-year-old and his parents in a museum. “His favourite story is about this one street in the city that is apparently named after my great-great-grandfather, who-”

“Shouldn’t we get started?” Winn suddenly questioned, having completely missed the conversation going on in front of him. Lena huffed out an annoyed breath, giving the man a chastising look and preparing to give him a thorough lecture, but Jay shook his head and moved to the stairs.

“He’s right… my room’s this way.”

“What?” Winn looked confused at Lena’s annoyed expression. “What did I do?”

“We’ll talk about it later,” she grumbled, before following Jay up the stairs as Winn hurried after her.

Reaching the top, Lena opened the door Jay had just stepped straight through and entered the boy’s room. She noticed the desk in front of the window which was mostly empty, safe for an old iPod attached to a small speaker. There was a bookcase in the corner and a guitar leaning against the bed, which apparently caught Winn’s eye as he immediately walked over and started examining it, seemingly nodding his approval.

“It’s very… tidy,” Lena commented.

“Yeah…” Jay drawled, as he looked around, “you can thank my dad for that. It was a lot less organised when I was actually… you know, here.” He walked over to his bookcase and pointed at one of the covers. “The letter’s in here, Ms. Luthor.” Lena walked over and raised her eyebrows in surprise as she took out a copy of Dusklight: Tale of the sparkling Zombies.

“Yeah,” Jay chuckled at Lena’s expression, “I had to put it in the one book that was too boring for even my dad to read.” She gave a thin smile, trying to mask the fact that she found the title pretty interesting, and flipped through the pages until she found an unsealed envelope in the middle. As she took it out and put the book back in its place, Winn suddenly stepped up beside her.

“So what does it say?” he asked, sounding excited.

“Dude!” Jay looked completely scandalised. “Ever heard of privacy?”

“Yeah, Winn,” Lena agreed, giving him a stern look, “don’t be nosy.”

“Pfft… nosy… I’m just naturally curious.”

Lena shook her head at him, before examining the unsealed envelope and finding it completely blank. “There’s no post stamp,” she remarked, checking all the sides again.

“Well, no…” Jay responded, “the idea was to give it to her in person. Which is probably why I didn’t do it…” he shoved his hands in his pockets, looking uneasy. “I have some stamps in there, though,” he nodded towards his desk and Lena walked over to open the drawer.

“Why do we need a stamp?” Winn questioned as he trailed after her. “Aren’t we just gonna drop it off at Evangeline’s house?”

“We are,” Lena said, as she took out the packet of stamps from the drawer, “but if it shows up there without a stamp and Evangeline tells Jay’s parents about it, they might think he dropped it off himself. Which is just cruel, since they’re going to find out he’s dead in few days.” She detached one of the stamps from the packet and put it on the envelope, before taking out a pen from the drawer and asking Jay for the address, which she started writing on the envelope. “By giving it a stamp but dropping it off in person, we make them believe it went through the mailing process. But if they’d try to check, they wouldn’t be able to track where it came from.”

“Huh…” Winn frowned at her, “you really think these things through, don’t you?”

“Well,” she smirked, “the Luthor genes come in handy sometimes.”

“Actually, I just meant that I can’t even remember the last time I sent a let-”

“Did you guys hear that?”

Lena turned to Jay in confusion, as the boy was looking at his door with a concerned frown. “Hear what?” Lena questioned, not having picked up on anything. Jay kept frowning at the door and Lena was about to tell him that he was imaging things, when one of the stairs suddenly creaked very loudly. Lena’s insides froze and she tried her best not to panic, because clearly Winn had that covered.

“Someone’s here!” he hissed, frantically looking between the door and Lena. He proceeded to scan the room with panic in his eyes, apparently looking for somewhere to hide, while Lena was scrambling for a solution. “We gotta bolt!” Winn proclaimed in the same hushed tone, before actually climbing on top of the desk and trying to open the window.

“Are you insane?!” Lena hissed, grabbing him by his pants before he jumped out of a goddamn window. “You’re going to break your legs!! Jay,” she turned to the boy while still holding on to a squirming Winn, “go see who’s there!!” The boy nodded in return, but just as he was headed for the door and just as Lena tried to get Winn down from the window pane (while praying that the closet in the corner would be big enough to hold both of them) the door to the room suddenly swung open.

“FREEZE!”

Lena and Winn both instinctively obliged, swivelling their heads towards the door where Jay was facing the intruder. Because the boy was obscuring her view, Lena couldn’t immediately see who had barged in, but it became pretty clear when she suddenly spoke up.

“You guys have got to be kidding me!”

Lena released the breath she’d been holding, as Jay stepped to the side to reveal Maggie Sawyer, who lowered her gun and rolled her eyes as she gave them an incredulous look.

“Luthor, I think it's safe to say you have zero talent as a burglar!”

Lena huffed out a breath, her heart still pounding from the adrenaline as she tried to steady herself. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said in a shaky voice.

“Geez, Maggie, you almost gave us a heart attack!!” Winn sounded highly offended as he dramatically clutched his chest and sunk down to sit on the window pane; his feet resting on the desk. “What are you doing here?!”

“What does it look like I'm doing?!” Maggie said, sounding intensely aggravated as she put her gun away, “I'm responding to a call from the neighbours, who heard a strange noise in a house that's supposed to be empty!” She shook her head as she put her hands on her hips. “You two should be grateful I was nearby. I don't think you'd have enjoyed explaining this situation to McConnell.”

Lena huffed out a nervous laugh as the woman definitely had a point there. She’d only met detective Frank McConnell once, but it sure hadn’t been a pleasant visit. He’d dropped by unannounced at L-Corp a few days ago and had bluntly informed her that she was expected at the police station this coming Friday to answer a few questions regarding her potential involvement with Cadmus during their attack with those floating killing machines. The man hadn’t been very subtle about his suspicions towards the youngest Luthor, so Lena could agree that being caught by him while breaking in to a random house would have definitely been an awkward experience.

“I’m assuming there’s a ghost involved?” Maggie asked, still sounding less than pleased with  the situation. “Because if there isn’t, I think I might arrest you two anyway.” She gave the two intruders an annoyed look, as Lena hurried to explain.

“Yes… yes, it’s a ghost.” She motioned to her side, at the aforementioned spectre. “Jay Lasseter, my friend Maggie Sawyer. Maggie, meet Jay.”

Maggie gave an annoyed wave in his general direction, while the boy just huffed out a relieved breath. “Exactly… how many people are on your ghostbusters team?” he asked Lena with a chuckle.

“Just the three of us and one more,” Lena explained. Although James probably wasn’t going to help her with anything anytime soon, she thought to herself. Considering how they’d been butting heads all day at CatCo…

“Well,” Winn chuckled as he finally climbed down from the window pane, using the desk to get to the floor, “now that the gang’s complete we should- oh!” he quickly retracted his hand from the desk, which had apparently landed on the old iPod that was attached to the small speaker. “What-”

Jay inhaled sharply when a guitar suddenly sounded through the speakers. “Turn that off! Ms. Luthor, tell him to turn that off!” Lena turned to Winn, but she was stunned into silence when Jay’s voice suddenly came through the speakers.

“Look how she brightens the sky,”

“Dude, turn it off!” Jay pleaded, while the redness on his neck reached for his ears.

“Ma belle, Evangeline,”

“Winn, turn it off,” Lena commanded, as the boy now groaned loudly into his hands in embarrassment.

“So far above me, yet I…”

“Why? This is pretty good,” Winn commented, but Lena took pity on the boy and stepped towards the desk.

“…know her heart belongs-”

Lena pressed the stop button, abruptly cutting off Jay’s singing, before turning around and seeing Winn glance curiously between the guitar next to the bed and the device on the desk. “Wait…” he drawled, a wide grin forming on his face, “that was him, wasn’t it?” He let out an incredulous laugh, looking impressed if nothing else, but Jay clearly couldn’t appreciate it, as he was still looking away with flaming red ears.

“So… is someone gonna tell me what we’re supposed to be doing here?” Maggie suddenly questioned.

Lena cleared her throat as she directed her attention away from the awkward situation. “We needed to get something,” she held up the unsealed envelope, “and now we need to drop it off somewhere else. Do you…” she gave the detective an uncertain look, “…do you think you could drive us?”

Maggie let out a long sigh, darting her eyes between the two people she could see with an annoyed expression, but eventually she relented; “Fine,” Maggie huffed, “but first I need to go and lie to the neighbours,” she gave Lena an accusatory look. “You two get out through the back, I’ll drive around the block and pick you up on the other side.” Maggie walked out the room, probably missing Lena’s thanks, as she trotted down the stairs while loudly complaining about amateur criminals. Lena went to move to the door as well, before noticing that Winn was still standing there with a wide grin while looking around the room.

“Sooo… Evangeline, huh?” He wiggled his eyebrows in no particular direction, while Jay shoved his hands deep in his pockets and marched past Lena and out of the room, his ears still completely red.

They didn’t have to wait long once they’d stepped out the back door and onto the curb on the other side of the block. Maggie’s  patrol car pulled up and the three of them promptly got in, Winn loudly yelling ‘shotgun!’ as he did so (which earned him an elbow to the ribs from Maggie), while Lena and Jay got in the back, the boy stepping straight through the closed door. As they drove towards their destination, Lena tried to explain the specifics to Maggie as briefly as she could, noticing it was obviously making Jay very uncomfortable to have his problems being repeatedly laid out in front of everybody. As Lena finished explaining, however, she suddenly remembered something.

“Here,” she took out the small piece of paper with four names on it and handed it to Maggie.

“What’s this?” the detective asked, briefly glancing towards the back through her mirror before refocusing on the road.

“Jay and Ronnie died in that explosion at the alien fight club. You can confirm their deaths now,” Lena explained. “Daniel Potts and Meryl Evans are people that Jay followed under Roulette’s instructions. If you could find out as much as you can about them, we might get closer to figuring out what she’s trying to do. But be careful,” Lena warned her, “if Roulette is still having them followed, she might get suspicious if they’re suddenly questioned by the police.”

“Yeah, no problem,” Maggie put the piece of paper in her pocket, “unlike some people, I actually know how to run a covert operation.” She shot a dimpled grin through the rear view mirror and Lena huffed in mock offence, mostly glad that Maggie had apparently gotten over her aggravation. As the car turned into the street where Evangeline lived, Maggie opted to drive past her house, instead stopping the car around a corner a little further down the road. The detective sighed as she turned off the engine, before throwing a glance at her side mirrors, where she could see the main street. “Okay,” Maggie started, reaching towards the back and taking the unsealed envelope from Lena, “so I'll just drop off the letter and-”

“Whoa, whoa,” Winn protested, trying to snatch the envelope out of Maggie’s hands, but she was too fast. “I'm dropping off the letter!”

“It's safer if I do it,” Maggie argued, still holding the envelope out of his reach.

“Why?!”

“Because I don't panic when something goes wrong.”

“Hey! I don't panic! Besides, I outrank you!”

Maggie scoffed loudly. “You don’t have a rank.”

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t.”

“Read the badge, lady!!”

“Guys!” Lena interrupted their argument, wondering how they’d reverted to bickering children so fast. “I'm sorry Winn, but Maggie's handling this one.” Winn promptly crossed his arms and started moping, while Maggie looked a little too smug as she opened the door.

“Wait, wait,” Jay suddenly exclaimed, causing Lena to turn to the protesting boy with surprise as she motioned Maggie to stop, “maybe this isn’t such a good idea…”

Lena let out a measured sigh as she rubbed her temple, because wouldn’t you know it, now she had a headache. “You’re backing out after we robbed your house?” she asked incredulously.

“He’s chickening out?” Winn turned around in his seat, apparently forgetting that he was supposed to be moping, as he shook his head. “That’s lame, kid.”

Lena threw the unhelpful sidekick a warning glare, before scrambling to find the appropriate response to this situation. “Look… Jay…” she opened and closed her mouth a few times, before she figured out what to say to the kid who was now slumped in his seat while fiddling with his hoody, “it’s… it’s just a letter,” she tried to reason. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Your dad could kick you out and ignore you for fifteen years,” Maggie commented dryly. Lena threw a foul look in her direction for being equally unhelpful, but the detective just shrugged back. “What? I’m just stating the facts.”

Lena let out a long sigh as she turned back to the unsure kid. “Look, Jay… you said it yourself, didn’t you? You said you have nothing to lose at this point. So… what’s the problem?”

“It’s just…” Jay swallowed as he scratched his neck and avoided eye contact, “…at least now she remembers me as the friendly guy that sits behind her in history class and who she talks to in the hallway now and then. What if… she thinks I’m weird after this?” He swallowed harshly as he listlessly kicked at the floor of the car, his foot going straight through without making contact. “I know that I’m dead and it’s not supposed to make a difference or whatever, but…” he finally looked up, looking lost again, just not geographically this time, “…what if she remembers me differently? That’s all that’s gonna be left of me, right? What people remember of me?” He shrugged at Lena, who finally understood his hesitation. “I just… don’t want her to think of me as the weirdo that writes sappy letters.”

Lena sighed deeply as she thought that he was probably right. When you died, all that was left of you were the memories other people had of you. Lena had to admit that she had thought about all of that even before she’d started helping ghosts. Because when you’re a regular target for assassination attempts you start thinking about these things. And she remembered being scared. Being scared that she would die before being able to dig the Luthor name out of its pitiful state. Being scared that she would be remembered as just another crazy Luthor. But Lena felt the urge to protest the boy’s reasoning anyway. And not just because the situation was entirely different, or because it would be inconvenient for her to abort this mission. But mostly… because she really wanted Jay to know this wasn’t useless.

“Look, Jay…” she sighed as she turned in her seat to face the kid, “I can’t promise you she won’t remember you differently. I don’t know her, so I can’t tell you how she’ll react, but… you shouldn’t be ashamed, you know? You don’t have to be embarrassed that you have feelings for someone.” Lena ignored the loud snort coming from Maggie as she kept giving Jay an intent look, who still appeared to be uncertain. “And after all… you did write all those feelings down, right? That was all you. So… if she remembers you as the guy who wrote that letter… won't she remember you the way you really are?” Lena kept looking at him, as the boy seemed to think the words over, briefly turning around to look out the back window and towards the main street. “So, what do you say?” Lena asked as carefully as she could. “Let's tell her?”

Lena looked on as the boy gave a long sigh while still looking towards the main street. Eventually he turned back towards Lena, and with a more determined expression, he nodded his head. “Okay,” he said softly.

“Okay,” Lena smiled at him, before nodding towards Maggie.

“Cool story, Luthor,” the detective said in an amused tone as she started getting out of the car, “maybe you should take your own advice.” She shot Lena one last mischievous grin before closing the door, then walked away towards the main street while Jay hurried after her, apparently wanting to witness his letter being dropped off in person.

“She's not wrong, you know,” Winn suddenly remarked, causing Lena to turn away from the two figures headed for the main street and frown in the man’s direction. “There's no reason you shouldn't tell Kara.”

Lena scoffed, because there were at least a million and one reasons. “How about the fact that I'm supposed to be her friend?” she retorted bitterly. “And even without that, the fact that I’m still a Luthor. Not to mention… you know…” she swallowed, still having trouble articulating this particular development in her life, “a- a… a woman,” she forced out nervously. Winn, however, just laughed at her.

“You're still hung up on that?” he asked incredulously. “Don't you know what they say?” He gave her a broad grin. “If at the eeend youuuu want them to cheer, keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it gaaaay!”

Lena’s eyes widened in horror at the sight of the man suddenly bursting out into song. “Oh god, not you too.”

“Yep! Kara recruited me to help ensure you'll start appreciating the awesomeness of musicals!” He gave her one of his cheesy grins, while Lena groaned loudly and shook her head. “But seriously, though,” Winn turned in his seat to face her better as his smile faded, “did I… did I ever mention that I kissed Kara once?”

“Wh- wha- what?” Lena stammered, feeling her brain break a little.

“Yeah, it was… almost two years ago, now. I mean, she wasn’t interested and… it was a little weird there for a while… but we’re still buddies, obviously…” he chuckled briefly. “But you know… whatever you tell her,” he said carefully, “she won’t just go and stop being your friend. Just sayin’…”

Lena swallowed and looked to the side, feeling highly uncomfortable with the current conversation. “I- I really…” she stammered, “it’s really not the same…”

“Are you sure? Because to me, it looks like it’s exactly the same.”

“It’s not,” Lena said decisively, looking back at the man, “and besides… I might take risks on other fronts, but… if there’s one thing I won’t risk losing, it’s Kara.”

“You know,” Winn started with a small grin, “a wise person once said that you can’t live in fear.”

“It’s- it’s not fear…” Lena responded, averting her eyes again, “it’s knowing what you’re worth. The fact that Kara considers me a close friend is already a small miracle.” She huffed out a humourless laugh. “So- to- to go and- suggest that… that I might… want- want more…” she shook her head, looking out the window, “it’s just… it’s not…”

“Well, okay, but…” Winn interrupted her, regaining Lena’s attention, “…what about the ghost thing, then? I mean… there’s no reason to still be keeping that a secret, is there?”

Lena shook her head aggressively, because that was a whole other problem. A very scary problem. Because assuming Kara wouldn’t hate her, assuming she would forgive her for keeping such a secret. Assuming she wouldn’t hold her reaction to the woman being Supergirl against her after finding out she’d had a giant secret of her own all this time, there was still one huge problem. The problem, that if Kara knew… if she knew that Lena could see dead people… if she knew that… then she’d know that the events of that day were real. Then she’d know that Lena begging her to stay with a gun pointed at her temple was real. And while Jay might have been scared of how Evangeline remembered him after leaving that letter, Lena would actually have to see it. She would have to be there to see the look in Kara’s eyes after finding out the truth. And quite frankly… Lena didn’t want to see it. Ever. So yes, when it came to her feelings for the woman, she just knew that it would be ridiculous to expect something more than the small miracle she’d already gotten by being the woman’s friend. But when it came to the ghost thing… it was just pure fear.

As she struggled to articulate even just a little of that, she suddenly paused when she noticed something in the car's right mirror. Jay had stepped into view on the main street, and as he turned around to look back at Evangeline's house… he started emitting light. He was too far away for Lena to see his face, but he seemed to let out a huge breath, his whole figure relaxing as if the weight of the world had just been lifted off his shoulders. Lena smiled weakly as she watched the light slowly but surely move over his body, eventually enveloping him completely. As the light started pulling away and forming those floating orbs, Maggie appeared from behind the corner and walked straight through the morphing light, emerging on the other side with her hands deep in her pockets. Lena kept watching through the car’s mirror as the lights stayed still for a while, before they started fading. Only when they were completely gone, and when she was startled by the sound of the car door slamming shut, did Lena look away while letting out a long sigh.

 

Jay Lasseter had just passed on.

 

Meanwhile, right in front of her, Winn was leaning to the side while squinting his eyes at Maggie, who was being suspiciously quiet. “Are you crying?!” he exclaimed incredulously.

“No… I just…” the detective mumbled in a very nasal voice, “…I have something in my eye…”

“Oh my god!!” Winn laughed loudly as he slapped his knee in delight. “You totally read the letter, didn’t you?!”

“Shut up…”

 

 


 

 

 

“I would really like to give you a hug, but I’m afraid I’d show favouritism.”

“Uh, screw that. Come here!”

Lena smiled widely as she got wrapped up in Kara’s arms, that familiar feeling of safety invading her, glowing in her chest and spreading to her extremities. And she maybe felt a little proud of herself for coyly figuring out whether Kara minded being hugged at the office. And the warm glow spreading through her body maybe burned even warmer than usual at the thought that she could be doing this every day. Lena cleared her throat and forced her wandering mind back to planet earth, carefully stepping out of Kara’s embrace before she’d become lost in fruitless and inappropriate fantasies about tasting Kara’s lips again. Don’t be a bad friend, Lena!

“I don’t get it, though,” Lena said as she looked Kara over with slight concern. “Why didn’t you just tell me that you were still worried about Mon-el?” She swallowed, forcing the ugly beast of jealousy far beneath the surface of her consciousness where it belonged. Where all things that had no right to exist belonged. Like the unwillingness to talk about your best friend’s former (maybe still current?) romantic interest. Like the urge to kiss said best friend. Your friend, Lena! Your friend!

“I just…” Kara huffed out a breath, “I didn’t want you to start blaming yourself again. Because I don’t. And neither does the rest of the planet, which you very heroically saved. Twice.” The woman took Lena’s hands in her own, and Lena felt herself melt at the touch, combined with the tender look she was receiving right now. “And besides… it’s not just that. I had to fight this bank robber who calls herself Psi today.” Kara shook her head as she adjusted her glasses, and Lena felt highly embarrassed that such a simple gesture could evoke such inordinate amounts of affection. “She made people see their fears. Their worst nightmares… I had to… watch Krypton burn all over again…”

Lena’s stomach dropped, her heart hurting for the alien woman. “Oh, Kara…”

“It’s fine,” Kara smiled sadly, as she waved her hand. “I learned to control it. I learned that… it’s just a mind over matter thing. That I can’t keep dwelling on what could have gone differently with Krypton, or what may or may not have happened to Mon-el. Or who else I might lose…” she shook her head, seemingly willing certain thoughts away. “So, yeah. I’m good now.” Her smile finally reached her eyes, as she beamed at Lena in classic Kara Danvers fashion while the young CEO’s heart did backflips as she smiled back. “But anyway,” Kara sighed contently, “what are you doing tonight?”

“Absolutely nothing,” Lena said before the question had even been completed. Kara laughed at that. And if anyone asked, Lena would insist that her lightning-quick response had just been a way to elicit that laugh from her friend. And had nothing to do with her desperate urge to be next to Kara as often as possible. Nope. Nothing to do with that at all.

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Kara smiled. “Now I can proceed with my evil plan.”

Lena quirked an eyebrow at her, noticing the woman’s odd expression. “I think you’re confused, Kara,” she responded amused. “I’m the Luthor around here, so that should be my line.”

“Ha, ha, very funny,” Kara frowned, like she always did when Lena attempted a joke of the I’m-a-Luthor kind. “I meant that you can come over and watch a movie. One where people could possibly, maybe, sometimes express their feelings in other ways besides talking,” Kara said while innocently tilting her head. And Lena suddenly had a thought. But she really shouldn’t. The joke was right there, staring her in the face, but she really shouldn’t. I mean, it was a little much, wasn’t it? Kara would definitely blush… and stammer… hm…

What the hell.

“Oh, my, Kara,” Lena smirked as she brought a hand to her chest, trying to act scandalised, but unable to help the teasing tone of her voice. “You really want to watch adult films with me?”

“Adult… fi…?”

Oh yes, it was totally worth it. Lena could see the exact moment it clicked; when Kara’s confused face suddenly seemed to freeze in shock and revealed the brightest blush she’d ever witnessed appearing on Kara’s cheeks, as the woman stammered and coughed and spluttered, and just about anything else that was not coherently form words. Lena was unable to help her laughter, as she loudly cackled at the woman before she even managed to speak again.

“Musicals!! I meant musicals!!” Kara managed to sputter in protest. Lena was just laughing her ass off at this point, not even caring that she was in the middle of her new workplace and that she was supposed to be projecting an air of cool detachment. Because how could anyone remain impassive, when Kara Danvers was being such an adorable dork? “Hey, don’t make fun of me,” Kara grumbled, apparently realising she was being messed with, as she crossed her arms and her signature crinkle appeared on her forehead.

“I’m- I’m sorry,” Lena huffed, still trying to control her laughing fit. “But you just make it so easy sometimes,” she grinned. Kara just let out a humming sound, still with her arms crossed, but Lena could see the corners of her lips twitching. She managed to get her diaphragm under control, and gave the woman a fond look. “So you’re still on this doomed crusade to make me like musicals?” she questioned amused.

“Yes!” Kara responded fiercely. “And I shall succeed! I can be Super persuasive, didn’t you know?” Lena fondly rolled her eyes at the poor excuse for a pun. “You’ll see, Lena, you’re gonna become a true fan. I’ll make sure to convert you!”

Lena managed to contain her surprised snort to a small huff, since there was another very obvious joke there, but there was no way in hell she was going to make that one. Because apart from being inappropriate, it also hit a little too close to home. “Well… you’re welcome to try,” Lena managed to say in a semi-serious tone. Because even though movies where people suddenly burst out singing would most definitely always look stupid to her, any excuse to spend more time with Kara was a good one. And she’d be damned if she was going to pass it up. “I’ll, um… I’ll meet you at your apartment, I just have to swing by L-Corp real quick.”

Kara just smiled her bright smile in response, gave her another one of her warm hugs, and then she was telling her she’d see her in a bit, as she started collecting her things while Lena turned to the elevator.

All the way down to the ground floor and all the way to L-Corp, Lena kept smiling to herself. She smiled because their tension hadn’t lasted, because Kara had opened up to her and told her what was really going on. She smiled, because she could look forward to an entire evening with her best friend, possibly huddled together very closely on her couch. Her best friend who turned as red as a tomato at hearing adult jokes, her best friend who had already converted her. (No, Lena! Still inappropriate!)

As she finally entered her building however, her smile faded, because the task she’d assigned herself five minutes ago was not something she was entirely happy about. However, she knew that that sentiment came from a place of selfishness so she squashed it down. If she could lighten Kara’s burden just a little. If she could take away that tiny piece of doubt, then it would be worth it. She aggressively pushed the door open to her first floor lab.

“Dr. Benson!”

The head of her R&D department flinched in surprise, narrowly avoiding the test tube in his hands from dropping to the floor. He clutched the container filled with liquid tightly to his chest and sighed with relief. “Ms. Luthor, I believe I’ve asked you several times not to barge in like th-”

“Yes, yes, I’m sorry,” Lena hastily interrupted, almost able to hear Kara’s couch calling her name in the distance. “Do you remember the portal technology we worked on earlier this year?”

Dr. Benson stilled and frowned very deeply. “Yes…”

“We’re restarting that project. Please see to all the preparations first thing tomorrow morning.” Lena went to leave, but the head of her R&D stopped her.

“Wait, wait! You mean… the technology that brought an alien army to earth and almost ended up causing our planet to be conquered?!”

“Oh, good so you do remember.”

“But…” the man seemed at a loss for words, “…that’s… that’s just way too dangerous… and you said yourself we missed an element…”

“We’ll take extra precautions,” Lena reassured him. “But we have to make it work. We have to.”

Without offering any further explanation, she left her lab and her flabbergasted employee behind, as she headed back for the ground floor. And maybe she didn’t feel great about this, but it had to be done. If Kara was going to sleep easier this way, was going to get some peace of mind out of it, then Lena would move heaven and earth to make it happen. She would make sure Kara wouldn’t have to worry about anything anymore. She would make sure Kara had no more nightmares. If it would help Kara, she was going to do it, as much as her selfish gut twisted with disapproval.

 

She would make sure Kara got to see Mon-el again.

 

 



 

 

 

Two weeks earlier: August 28th 2017

 

Kara flinched as she stepped out of Lena’s arms, completely taken off guard by Jess suddenly appearing beside them and giving them a weird look. She awkwardly stood there as Jess handed Lena some important file about CatCo, looking at the floor while already missing her best friend’s hug. She unceremoniously fiddled with her cape realising how badly she had missed Lena these past few weeks. Like, really bad…

“Could I have a word with you? In private?”

“You can talk freely, Jess,” Lena said with confusion in her voice, “I have nothing to hide fr-”

“No, no, I meant… could I have a word with Supergirl?”

Kara looked up in surprise, noticing that Jess was staring right at her. “Oh… well… sure, I guess…” she shrugged in Lena’s direction as she followed Jess towards the door, throwing one last confused look over her shoulder before closing the doors to Lena’s office behind her.

With the way Lena always spoke of her, she didn’t think that Jess would feel the need to hide anything from her boss, but Kara of all people knew that things were complicated sometimes, so she stopped by the woman’s desk and waited for her to speak. They stood there for a while, Kara in her Supergirl pose and Jess with her arms crossed, as she seemed to scan the superhero from top to bottom. Kara was starting to feel weirded out by the extended silence, when Jess suddenly spoke up.

“Back off.”

Kara blinked in confusion. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” Jess repeated, giving her a less-than-friendly look, “you need to back the hell off.”

Kara frowned at the sudden hostility. “I don’t understand, what-”

“Don’t play dumb! You know exactly what I mean!” Kara was now feeling completely out of her depth, because here she was; standing in her commanding pose in full Supergirl costume and yet, Jess didn’t seem at all intimidated. In fact she’d stepped forward and had actually started poking her in the chest. Kara was highly confused. “Just because Ms. Luthor is feeling vulnerable right now, that doesn’t give you the right to take advantage of her! Rough patch or not, Ms. Luthor still has a girlfriend and it’s not fair to try and weasel your way into her good graces at this point!”

“WHAT?! LENA HAS A GIRLFRIEND?!”

“Just drop the act,” Jess scoffed. “Everybody knows Kara Danvers is your go-to reporter, so don’t pretend you don’t know that she’s dating Ms. Luthor.”

Kara’s brain was officially fried, as she tried to protest this grave misunderstanding. “Wha- no- I- it’s- you don’t- friends-”

“Quite frankly I would’ve expected better from you.” Jess shook her head and gave her such a disappointed look, that it would have made Snapper proud. “I never thought that Supergirl of all people would try to steal someone’s girlfriend. But I’m warning you,” Jess stepped very close and gave her a look that no human without Kryptonite on hand had ever dared to give her, “no one makes Ms. Luthor as happy as Ms. Danvers does. So if you screw this up, you will have me to deal with, got it?” Jess looked her up and down one last time, before suddenly stepping past her and back into Lena’s office, leaving Kara a confused mess on the other side.

Wha… she… pfft… girlfriends? Where- where did she get that from?! I mean… that was… HA! They were friends! Like, really close friends. Close friends make each other happy, duh! And why was she mentally defending her friendship with Lena anyway? Who did Jess think she was? Suggesting stuff like that… I mean, if we were… you know… then we’d act like Alex and Maggie. You know, like… kissing and stuff… it was all very different! Lena was her friend! She… I mean, she wouldn’t want to… kiss Lena, or anything. I mean, she didn’t want that! She wouldn’t want to kiss Lena…

 

…right?

 

 

Chapter Text

 

September 21st 2017

 

“What do you mean, you went to Mars?!”

Lena’s fork hovered in the air, as it was frozen halfway to her mouth while she gaped at Kara across the table. She briefly glanced around, as she probably shouldn’t have asked that question so loudly in a crowded restaurant, but come on! Kara couldn’t just drop information like that on her out of the blue! Kara held up her hand, signalling she would explain once she’d swallowed the gigantic bite of food in her mouth, while Lena was careful not to smudge her dress as she finally put down her fork. She was probably slightly overdressed for a friendly dinner (which was underlined by Kara’s comparatively simple outfit), but having dinner with Kara at a fancy place was no longer something Lena felt comfortable going to without one of her killer dresses in tow. Because being out of the woman’s league (and let’s not forget; gender taste), did not mean she couldn’t use her imagination. As in, ‘imagine if this was an actual date’. Which is how she ended up wearing a two-thousand dollar deep red dress, while Kara sat across the table in her favourite brown pants and baby blue shirt. She knew it was pathetic, but whatever. Just let me have this one, alright?!

“Yeah,” Kara started, having finally forced down her truckload of food, “J’onn needed some help back home and we even brought his father back to earth. Isn’t it great?” She gave her a broad smile, and Lena just huffed out a laugh.

“And I thought my life was crazy,” she commented as she returned her attention to her pasta while trying to process the concept of casual trips to distant planets.

“Ha! If you thought that was crazy, you should have seen my cult.”

Lena’s fork once again froze halfway to her mouth, as a single ravioli fell back onto her plate. “What- what do you mean, you started a cult?!”

“No, no,” Kara laughed it off as she waved dismissively, and Lena decided to put her fork down until the woman was done with her casually proclaimed absurdities. “I didn’t start it; it was run by this guy named Thomas Coville. He somehow got his hands on Kryptonian scriptures and decided that people should worship Supergirl instead of Rao. Hence the cult full of people that I saved at one point or another.” Lena frowned as Kara seemed to shudder for a moment. “It was really surreal, you know? Seeing them all there… I didn’t think I would, but… I remembered all of them.” Kara huffed out a breath, seeming very serious as she leaned her chin on her hand. “It’s kinda weird, but I guess when I save someone it’s like… I don’t know… like I can’t forget their face anymore.” She shrugged as she shook her head and returned to her food. “I guess that sounds weird,” she laughed self-consciously.

Lena closed her eyes as she bit the inside of her cheek, because she’d almost blurted it out right then and there. She’d almost just blurted out that she understood perfectly. That it made all the sense in the world. That the faces of Rafael, Jimmy and Huang Fu were all permanently burned into her memory too. That when she’d gone to sign the NDA’s at the DEO, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the picture of Rachel that was standing on Pam’s desk. That the memory of Sam’s hurt and betrayed face was the first thing on her mind when she’d learned about Snapper going on ‘sabbatical’. Instead, Lena bit her tongue and settled for a more neutral response.

“I don’t think it sounds weird,” she gave Kara a gentle smile, trying to express her understanding through her eyes instead of her words, as she reached out to hold Kara's hand on the table. She maybe stared at Kara's beautiful blue eyes a little too long, and she abruptly retracted her hand when she realised that she was getting way too deep into the whole imaginary date scenario. “But maybe stay away from religious fanatics in the future, alright?” she laughed nervously as her heart kept beating too fast. Seriously, Lena you only held her hand, get over it! “Personally, I don't trust people who believe in imaginary beings in the sky.” She let out another nervous chuckle as she tried to bring food to her mouth, but the fork once again stopped after she noticed Kara's curious expression. “What?” Lena asked confused.

Kara gave her a small frown. “It's not imaginary.”

Lena's eyebrows shot up. “You… you can't be serious.” She searched Kara's eyes, but the woman frowned even deeper as she crossed her arms. “You… actually  believe that nonsense?”

“Nonsense?!” Kara exclaimed with indignation, and Lena was highly confused at this point.

“Kara, didn't you… didn't you say you were chosen for the science guild?” she asked slowly.

“Faith and science aren't mutually exclusive.”

Lena let out an incredulous laugh. “Yes, they are. Science requires proof for a concept to be accepted. And there is no way to prove that some invisible entity that controls everything, is-”

“He doesn't control everything.” Lena was stunned by the interruption as Kara seemed to be turning more serious by the second. “Rao’s light is present in all things and in all people, but he doesn't control us.” Lena tried to contain herself, but she couldn't prevent herself from snorting at this Kryptonian deity being described as if he was a form of midi-chlorians. Kara clearly couldn't appreciate her amusement. “I don't like you making fun of this,” she stated harshly as she actually shoved her plate away. Lena raised her eyebrows, because Kara had actually distanced herself from food…

“I'm not making fun, I just don't understand how you can- Kara?” The alien woman had suddenly stood up from her seat and after picking up her bag, she stormed off. “Kara, wait!” Lena stood up as well, but Kara was too fast, even at her human speed. Lena was left standing there in her overpriced dress, in the middle of Mancini’s Restaurant, next to a mostly untouched plate of pasta. And like had happened so often before when it came to Kara, the logical and the emotional part of her brain were at war with each other once again.

 

 


 

 

 

Lena sighed as she walked around the CatCo office while staring at her phone.

One lonely text stared back at her, containing no emojis, no happy exclamations, or any other message that would usually make her heart flutter. Instead the very clear subliminal message was; 'I don't want to see you right now'. Although the literal one was maybe a little more professional.

Kara: <Not feeling well. Taking a sick day.>

Lena sighed as she stepped towards the elevator, because Kara was very well aware that Lena knew Kryptonians didn't get sick (unless something was terribly wrong). Which meant that she wasn't even trying to hide the fact that she was avoiding her after last night's argument. To be honest, Lena had very conflicted emotions about the incident. Of course she didn't want to see Kara upset. Of course she was already getting anxious at the thought of Kara ignoring her again like she'd done during the summer. But the scientist in her felt like standing her ground. The scientist in her was frankly offended at the immediate dismissal of a completely logical argument, and did absolutely not feel like rolling over and apologising. Because Kara, despite the impression she might give, was very smart. And the thought of her hanging on to a concept as stupid and illogical as religion was just so infuriating, it made her want to-

“Hey! Lena!”

The youngest Luthor was stunned when her trusted sidekick suddenly emerged from the stairwell. “Winn?” she asked confused as the man stepped up to her. “What are you doing here?”

“There’s an important issue we totally forgot to discuss,” he proclaimed. Lena frowned as she noticed his serious tone and she waited anxiously for him to elaborate. “We haven’t decided what to wear to next year’s Comic Con yet!”

Lena sighed in exasperation as she headed down the stairs, instead of waiting on the elevator. “I'm not playing dress-up with you, Winn,” she sighed, while the man let out a dramatic sound as he followed her down the stairwell.

“But it's not fair! You can’t even use the ‘I’m reconstructing National City’-excuse this time! I've already had to accept the fact that James won't go as Chewbacca -despite the fact we'd make the perfect Han and Chewy- so I really need you on this one!” Lena was not in the mood for this conversation (although she had to admit Winn and James would be perfect as Han and Chewy). Before she could brush him off, however, a loud voice resonated through the stairwell.

“Hey, lady!! Are you Lena Luthor?!”

Lena frowned as she came to a stop and saw someone round the corner and meet her halfway up the stairs. It was a broad-shouldered teenager with black hair, wearing a National City High jacket, who was looking her up and down while chewing gum and Lena's temper risked spilling over at his impertinence. Although her argument with a certain blonde superhero was probably a contributing factor. She crossed her arms as she gave the teen her patented corporate glare. “Young man, I don't know where you think you are-”

“Lena…”

“-but you'll find that most people need to book an appointment with me.”

“Lena…”

“Furthermore-”

“Lena!”

“What?!” Lena snapped her head to the side, where Winn had been trying to get her attention.

“Lena, there's…” he nervously glanced around before leaning closer, “there's no one there,” he whispered. Lena's eyes widened as she looked back at the teenager, who was giving her a calculating look.

“Huh… so Roulette actually wasn't lying,” he said, seeming surprised.

Lena immediately reached into her pocket and reached for her phone, thinking she should maybe just glue it to her ear so she'd be ready whenever another ghost showed up. “No… no she wasn't,” Lena responded nervously as she glanced around the stairwell which was miraculously empty. This streak of dumb luck was surely bound to end sooner or later. “There's a place where we can talk freely,” she said while turning around and walking back up the stairs. The boy thankfully didn't question her as he and Winn both followed her all the way to the abandoned office where she'd talked to Jay. Once they were all inside, Lena locked the door behind them and lowered her phone.

“Oh my god!!” Winn laughed loudly as he looked around the room. “You actually found the old Supergirl headquarters!!”

Lena frowned in confusion. “Headquarters?”

“Yeah!! Before she joined the DEO, me and James helped her from here!! This room must attract heroes or something!!”

“You people for real?” Lena looked back at the boy, who had gotten comfortable in one of the chairs and was giving them both an amused look. “Y’all really know who Supergirl is?” Lena clenched her jaw, as this was probably not something she should be talking about to a ghost who could potentially refer this knowledge to Roulette. Her sidekick could be really unhelpful like that…

“That information is classified,” she replied sternly and the boy, for his part, didn't seem to care all that much. “And like I’ve told you countless times,” she turned to glare at Winn, “I'm not a hero,” she reprimanded. The man seemed to want to protest, but Lena turned back to the boy. “Are you… are you Jay's friend?” she asked carefully. “Are you Ronnie Maverick?”

“Friend?!” the boy scoffed loudly. “We were just in the same class last year. If I'd just kicked his scrawny ass instead of sneaking into that building, I'd still be alive right now,” he stated bitterly. “So y'all gonna help me or what?” Ronnie looked at them expectantly, but Lena needed to further her investigation first.

“Ronnie, did Roulette make you follow someone?” she asked intently. “And if so, what were their names?”

Ronnie waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Yeah, yeah, I followed some guy. I don't remember his name.”

Lena let out a measured sigh, because five minutes in, and she'd already had enough of this case. “Ronnie, it's really important that you try to remember-”

“Look, lady, aren't you supposed to get me to heaven or something?”

“There's no such thing as heaven!” Lena snapped, her irritation probably triggered a lot easier thanks to last night's argument. “Now, if you would just try to remember-”

“No heaven?” the boy frowned as he looked up at her from his seat and folded his arms. “Then what the hell am I doing here?” 

Lena ignored his ironic choice of words as she tried to remain calm while explaining. “Well… most people have unfinished business here…” Lena started slowly. “Isn’t there… someone you’re worried about? A friend, or a family member? I’m sure your parents must be very-”

“Screw my parents!” he interrupted. Lena raised her  eyebrows at his outburst. “I just wanna get on with this whole death thing. The only ‘unfinished business’ is that I’m still here.” Lena rubbed her temple, because she could feel a headache coming on. Which was unsurprising, considering the paradoxical nature of the boy’s statement.

“Look, Ronnie, if you’ve turned into a ghost there has to be a reason. As far as I know, nobody-”

“Of course there’s a reason!! It’s because I got blown up while following that nerd through the air ducts!!” Ronnie stood up from the chair as he seemed to be getting more and more annoyed by the second. And if there was anything positive that could be taken from this situation, it was that at least they had something in common now. “I got blown up, woke up in the middle of the rubble, hallucinated some shit and then I couldn’t touch anything and that’s why I’m a ghost!! There, mystery solved!!” The boy crossed his arms and looked at the young CEO with anger in his eyes, but Lena suddenly snapped to attention. Because Ronnie might have just said something important.

“What do you mean… you hallucinated?”

“I mean, I saw shit that wasn’t there.”

“I know what hallucinating means!” she hissed through her teeth. “But this might be important…”

“Why?” the boy scoffed. “It was no big deal, it happened when I had a concussion too.” Lena looked at him with raised eyebrows, prompting him to elaborate; “I’m a linebacker, lady,” he proclaimed, looking smug. “When you’re snuffing out running backs and constantly blitzing the pocket, you’re gonna take a few hits.”

Lena was just going to assume he was talking about football (judging by his sports jacket), since half the words in that sentence made no sense to her. What was more important however, was her growing suspicion. “But you said you hallucinated after you died,” Lena asked intently. “Ronnie…” she stepped closer to him, as her tone softened, “…in this hallucination, did someone you know… did someone die?”

Ronnie took a step back, seeming pretty freaked out. “Whoa…” he looked her up and down, “…you a psychic too, or something?”

“No… Ronnie…” she swallowed upon having her doubts confirmed, “what you saw… I think you saw the future.”

The boy’s face fell into disbelief. “No… there’s no way…”

“It’s true, Ronnie,” she insisted. “When something tragic happens to those they care about, ghosts can sometimes see the future. It happened to Jess’s father. And it happened to my own father as well…”

“No, no…” Ronnie was now shaking his head, fear overtaking his features, “it’s… it’s not possible, she… she can’t… Nell’s only six… she… it’s not…”

“Nell?” Lena asked, trying to get the boy to focus instead of spiralling into a panic.

“My… my sister…” he stammered, “she… she can’t…”

“Calm down,” Lena commanded, holding out her hands reassuringly, “we can still change what happens. I’ve done it before…” Lena swallowed, because the last time had definitely been a close call, “…but I need you to tell me exactly what you saw. Walk me through it,” Lena insisted, as Ronnie seemed to calm down just a little. He took a few deep breaths, before recounting his vision.

“I… I saw my house. It was full of people and… everyone was wearing black. And Nell… she…” he gulped loudly, “…she was going down the stairs, but… the railing stops at the corner and… she slipped and- and then…” he hesitated for a while, before forcing himself to continue, “…she fell down the stairs… all the way down… and then she didn’t move anymore. Like… at all.” The boy was just looking ahead, seeming completely horrified, but the gears in Lena’s head were already turning. She wasn’t exactly sure of the time table on police forensics, but it had been over a week since she’d given Ronnie and Jay’s names to Maggie. Which presumably meant that their parents knew they were dead now. And if Ronnie had seen everyone wearing black…

“Ronnie…” she started, “Ronnie, look at me.” The boy seemingly got pulled out of his horrified state as he looked back at Lena. “You said there were a lot of people wearing black at your house, right? So… do you know if they’re giving you a funeral?” she asked. The boy’s eyes widened as he seemed to understand what she was getting at.

“No, it’s… they called it a wake. You think that’s where it happens?”

“That seems likely,” Lena responded, as she was already missing the case where she was just in charge of delivering a message to a high school crush. As opposed to holding the life of a six-year-old in her hands. “When is it?” she asked intently. “When is your wake?”

Ronnie gulped loudly. “It’s today…”

“TODAY?!”

Lena and Ronnie looked at each other, both with horrified expressions, as the boy seemed to realise that his sister might only have hours to live, while Lena realised that they had virtually no time to prepare for this mission. They stood there in stunned silence for a second, before the gravity of the moment was rudely disrupted by the one person who was apparently excited by this dreadful scenario.

“Wow!!” Winn exclaimed a little too loudly. “My first premonition case!! This is gonna be awesome!!”

 

 


 

 

 

“So… I don’t want to… tell you… how to… do your job…” Winn heaved through ragged breaths, while running alongside Lena, “but I really think… Trevor… deserves… to be fired.”

Lena just hummed, as she was heaving and sighing just as severely as Winn was, while they sprinted towards their destination. Trevor had been with her from day one, so she wasn’t exactly eager to hand the man his notice. But seeing as Winn and herself were now forced to actually run to Ronnie’s house after Trevor had once again failed to show up, she had to admit that she was starting to seriously consider it. They’d already had very little time to change into something appropriate, but Lena thankfully had a wide array of business outfits at the ready, which meant that finding a black one hadn’t been too complicated. Winn on the other hand, had to improvise. The only black shirt he owned was part of his DEO uniform, which is exactly the shirt he was wearing now. Plus a bowtie to, quote; ‘look more formal’. Lena just thought it looked weird but thanks to her driver’s recent incompetence, they didn’t have time to argue about it.

They finally went  past a long line of parked cars upon arriving at the right street, before turning into the gravel path that led to the front door of the very large house. They finally slowed down as they approached the door, both trying to bring their breathing down to a socially acceptable level, while Winn nervously straightened his bowtie and Lena wiped the sweat from her forehead. There was a loud scoffing sound coming from her left, as Ronnie shook his head at them.

“Y’all could really use some exercise,” he said dryly. Lena threw him a foul look as they stepped onto the porch, because this was not the right time to be making snarky remarks. No matter how accurate they might be…

Lena and her sidekick both took a moment, and when their breathing stopped resembling that of a dying horse, they stepped into the house. They immediately found themselves surrounded by countless people dressed in black and even Lena, who was used to large gatherings in expensive houses, was impressed by the amount of people that were present. The soft murmuring of the large congregation cloaked the house in a dim atmosphere and it didn’t really help when Ronnie started walking straight through the guests. “The stairs are this way, lady,” he motioned ahead, towards the right side of the spacious hall. Lena and Winn carefully followed, but as they were solid lifeforms, they didn’t make it there so swiftly, having to slowly manoeuvre their way through the packed hall. Yet somehow, when Lena threw a glance to the side, Winn was suddenly holding a fistful of shrimps.

“Winn!” she hissed, her tone as incredulous as possible without attracting attention to themselves. “What the hell are you doing?”

“What?” he whispered, giving her a shrug. “It’s free food, I can’t just ignore it.”

“You sound like Kara,” she replied bitterly, still carefully navigating through the sea of people to get to the stairs of Ronnie’s premonition.

“Whoa… what was that?”

“What was what?” Lena asked.

“I’ve never heard you say Kara’s name like it’s a curse word before,” Winn remarked as he chewed on his food, while Lena just huffed out a breath, because this was really neither the time nor the place to talk about this. “What, did you guys fight or something?”

“Yes, if you must know,” Lena huffed in irritation. She gave a friendly nod to the two people she had to squeeze past, before throwing a glance to her sidekick. “Did you know?” Lena asked, genuinely curious. “That she believes in that… Kryptonian religion?”

“Well, yeah, of course,” Winn responded. “It’s kind of a big deal to her…” he frowned as Lena shook her head in annoyance, “…wait, you didn’t actually give her a hard time about that, did you?”

Lena didn't respond immediately, as they'd reached the bottom of the stairs and carefully moved next to the railing. They were close enough to the table with refreshments for their positioning to not look awkward, but as soon as Nell would start coming down the stairs, they could be up the steps and near the corner of the stairway in no time. Lena subtly nodded at Ronnie, who immediately ran up the stairs to check his sister's whereabouts like they'd planned.

“Well?”

Lena looked back at Winn, who was loudly chewing on his shrimps, but was apparently also still waiting for her to continue their conversation. Lena let out a measured sigh. “Look, I didn't mean to be insensitive or anything, but come on! All this talk about the light of Rao being everywhere and all that coming from a planet that was supposed to be so much more advanced than humans.” Lena shook her head in exasperation. “It's just frustrating that she would hold on to something so illogical. I mean,” she gave the man beside her a questioning look, “you agree with me, right? You don't believe all that…” Lena tried to put it delicately, but decided she really didn't want to, “…religious nonsense?”

Winn gave a non-committal shrug, still chewing on his shrimps. “I think if you'd asked me a year ago I would've definitely said no. But I'd like to point out that right now we're crashing a wake because an invisible person saw the future. So, you know,” he gave another shrug, “it's totally possible for there to be things that can't be explained.”

“Yet!” Lena hissed loudly, because things being illogical still annoyed her to no end. Which was an additional reason for the Roulette situation being so infuriating. “We can't explain them yet!” Lena elaborated. “I'll let you know that I've been writing down a basic set of principles based on my interactions with ghosts, so… there are patterns. And at least patterns are closely akin to logic.”

Winn gasped as his eyes went wide. “You have a rule book?! You mean like… a Mystical Manual! No wait, I can do better. Like… a Book of Shadows! No wait, that's been done…”

“It's not mystical!” Lena hissed, her irritation growing exponentially. “They're scientific observations!”

Winn didn't appear to be listening to her objections, as he still seemed to be looking for a pretentious moniker to give to Lena's scribble-filled notebook. “This actually totally makes sense!” he rambled on. “Superheroes always gradually get more powers or gadgets over time!”

“I'm not a hero and I'm frankly sick of reminding you of it.”

“Yes, you are,” Winn protested immediately. “You're a big hero. Really big. Like, this big- oh!” Winn had tried to demonstrate just how big by spreading his arms, but he quickly retracted them when he almost hit a middle-aged woman in the face. “Sorry,” he mumbled, looking embarrassed.

“That's quite alright,” the woman said coolly, but her eyes weren't very friendly as she kept scanning the duo in front of her, and her eyes narrowed as they paused on Winn's bowtie. “Might I ask how you knew my son?” Lena called on all her poise and dignity to force out a small smile, while supressing the urge to strangle her sidekick whose flailing had caused them to run into Ronnie's mother, of all people. Sometimes she wasn't sure the man's help was worth the trouble.

“We didn't,” Lena improvised. “I've met his father a few times. I simply came to pay my respects.” The woman was still looking them over and Lena realised that if the woman's husband was nearby they'd be royally screwed, but it had been the first thing to pop in her head. 

“Why are you wearing a badge?” the woman suddenly questioned, looking at the plastic item on Winn's shirt. The man opened and closed his mouth a few times, appearing to prove Maggie's assumptions during their previous case to be true.

“I… that… inside… it's- it's an inside… joke… do you know if there are any more shrimps?” he suddenly questioned, not so subtly changing the subject while holding up the sole remaining crustacean in his hand.

“Yes, I… think there's more upstairs,” the woman gestured to the other side of the large room, where there was a staircase similar to the one they were standing next to. Winn quickly made himself scarce, shooting Lena an apologetic look before he started making his way through the large congregation. Lena swallowed as she looked back at the woman who was still frowning, while following Winn with narrowed eyes.

“You'll have to excuse my friend,” Lena started, regaining the woman's attention. “He's a bit… eccentric… but he means well.” 

“Does he work with my husband as well?” the woman asked, still not looking all that friendly. Then again, her son had recently died so maybe she shouldn't be expected to be all smiles.

“No, I asked him to accompany me. I just…” Lena hesitated, but decided that being honest about something might be a nice change of pace, “I didn't really want to come here alone. I tend to avoid funerals.” She swallowed harshly, remembering her brother who had held her close during the last time she’d attended a similar event.

“It's a wake,” the woman stated coldly. Lena cleared her throat, feeling highly uncomfortable and not knowing what to say. Thankfully, at that point a tall man tapped the older woman on the shoulder and whispered something in her ear. “Excuse me,” the woman gave Lena a small nod, before following the man and disappearing into an adjacent room, the large double doors closing behind them. Lena couldn't help letting out a sigh of relief, because she was really tired of getting almost caught all the time.

Lena shook her head, not quite understanding Winn’s insistence on calling her a hero. Wasn't all this fumbling proof enough that she was nothing of the sort? Wasn't the fact that they kept finding themselves in these situations proof enough that she shouldn’t have a title that Kara carried gracefully every day? Not to mention that when Kara saved someone, they stayed saved. As opposed to Samantha Carr, Lena thought bitterly, because the memory of the girl was causing Lena’s guilt to eat away at her these past few weeks. Because Sam had passed on trusting that her father would be happy, or at least satisfied, with having one honest reporter working for him. But now the man was on a ‘sabbatical’. And you might as well triple the size of those air quotes, because it was painfully obvious that the man had gotten out of there the very second Lena had done the one thing that he believed compromised the entire journalistic integrity of his work: buying CatCo. And she didn’t know what to do about it. She couldn’t stop seeing Sam’s face in her head every time she walked past Snapper’s empty office, but she just didn’t know-

“Can I have everyone’s attention, please?”

Lena looked to the side, where the tall man from before was standing in front of the now open double doors.

“We are ready to begin. If you would all come this way.”

The entire mass of people started walking towards the right side of the big hall, and towards the room where the actual wake was apparently going to be held. Lena stayed clear of the stream of people by standing beside the railing of the stairs, pretending to look at something on her phone. In reality, Lena was worrying that maybe they’d made a mistake in assuming this was when Nell would fall to her death, seeing as the large hall was now starting to empty. It might still happen after the ceremony, though. After all, Lionel’s vision hadn’t exactly been linear either…

“YO, LADY!!”

Lena’s head snapped up, seeing Ronnie sprint down the steps in a panic.

“IT’S THE WRONG STAIRS!! SHE’S COMING DOWN THE OTHER ONES!!”

Lena’s breath hitched in her throat, as she looked at the stairs on the other end of the room. The other end of the gigantic room. The room that was filled with people coming in her direction. Lena immediately charged forward, with a repeated ‘excuse me’ on her lips and with panic filling her chest.

“HURRY UP!! WILL YOU HURRY UP, LADY?!!”

Lena started moving more aggressively, using her elbows to move forward which earned her several offended gasps. Ronnie had already moved through all the guests and was standing halfway up the other set of stairs, frantically looking from Lena to the space behind the corner that Lena couldn’t see. But judging by Ronnie’s expression, Nell wasn’t far away.

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?! SHE’S ALMOST THERE!!”

Lena was now bumping shoulders with every single person headed in the opposite direction, but the sea of people was just too vast for them to collectively move out of her way. Even with Moses-like powers she wouldn’t have been able to make space for herself, and the fact that she’d now started making biblical analogies said a lot about the degree of her panic.

“RUN FASTER, YOU IDIOT!!

Lena was almost there when she saw it. She was just a few feet from the bottom of the stairs, when she saw a tiny shoe appear from around the corner. Time seemed to slow down and Lena’s insides turned to ice as a tiny hand appeared on the railing, followed by a small girl in a little grey dress. The girl was looking at her feet in deep concentration as she slowly waddled down the steps, not noticing the gap in the railing at the corner of the staircase. Lena was stuck between two large guests who wouldn’t be moved, Ronnie was screaming in panic while his hands went straight through his little sister’s arm in a futile attempt to grab her. Lena’s movements completely stopped as Nell’s little left hand reached the gap in the railing.

The girl’s hand slipped… her tiny foot missed the step… Ronnie screamed as his sister lost her balance and keeled over…

“Whoa, there!” Suddenly the girl’s right arm got grabbed from behind the corner, as she yelped in surprise before finding her footing again. Ronnie and his sister both looked at the hand that was keeping the girl standing up with wide eyes. “You should be more careful, little one.” The hand let go of Nell, as from behind the corner a man with a friendly smile, an ugly bowtie, a plastic badge on his shirt and a plate full of shrimps in his other hand stepped into view. “Where are your parents?” The little girl didn’t answer, as she gave the man a sheepish look, before quickly waddling down the rest of the stairs and away from the scary stranger. “Hey! I just said you should be more careful!”

The girl didn’t look back as she ran past a stunned Lena and after the sea of people who had now all reached the double doors. When the girl reached the room, someone closed the doors behind her, leaving just Ronnie, who was breathing heavily halfway up the stairs, Lena, who was looking at her sidekick with wide eyes, and Winn, who shook his head as he casually walked down the stairs. “Pfft… kids these days.” He picked a shrimp from his plate and stepped up to Lena, who was still staring at him in shock. “Couldn’t even manage a thank- Lena?” He frowned at her. “What? Do I have something on my face?”

“You saved her…”

“Huh?” He looked confused for a moment, before shooting a glance at the double doors. “Oh… OH! That was it?!” He laughed incredulously as he shook his head. “Wow… I thought it would be more dramatic or something. But hey, go team, right?” He held up his fist with a broad grin in place and Lena decided to humour him. Because even though it had been dumb luck rather than team work, and even though it had been more than dramatic enough for her taste, if the man wanted a fist bump she wasn’t going to deny him right now. Winn just chuckled as their knuckles connected, before happily munching away on his shrimps and Lena just looked at him in awe for a moment, before her eyes shifted to what was going on behind him.

Ronnie had slumped against the railing to sit on the steps, breathing out heavily with relief, and Lena started climbing the stairs towards him. But before she could say anything he suddenly spoke up: “Blake Vardy.”

Lena stopped and blinked. “What?”

“The… the guy I had to follow… his name was Blake Vardy.”

He just kept looking down as he continued to breathe heavily, and before Lena even had a chance to say thank you, he started to emit light. The light glowed dimly at first, before growing brighter and starting to move over Ronnie’s body. She could still hear his heavy breaths as the glow slowly but surely enveloped his entire figure, leaving just the outline of his huddled up posture, defined by the light. Lena kept looking as the light started pulling away, forming those smaller sections shaped like orbs. She let her eyes go over all of them, as they hovered away from  each other and just remained motionless for a second. Then she watched them slowly fade, the light growing weaker and weaker, before finally, he was completely gone. Leaving only two people in the immense hall, as Lena watched the corner of the steps where Ronnie had just been sitting, and Winn was still occupied with the consumption of his shrimps.

 

Ronnie Maverick had just passed on.

And right then and there… Lena promised herself she’d never question the usefulness of her sidekick ever again.

 

 


 

 

 

You would think that saving a six-year-old from certain death would be enough to make someone’s day. It would make most people’s month, in all likelihood. But Lena Luthor had a multitude of problems going on in her life, and the ghost-related ones were just a small portion. That’s why her mind was already on the purchase that would hopefully solve one of those other problems, while riding her private elevator to the top floor of L-Corp. When the loud ding announced her arrival on the correct floor, she stepped out into the corridor. Lena frowned, because bent over the desk that was supposed to be manned by Hector now, was Jess. She was muttering loudly to herself, while searching through the disorganised stack of papers in front of her as Lena stepped closer.

“Where’s Hector?” she asked, while her former assistant didn’t even look up from her frantic search.

“He left an hour ago,” Jess responded, sounding annoyed. “I know you were very adamant about him keeping his job, but is there any chance you could reconsider?”

“Jess…” the young CEO reprimanded, “the man recently found out his estranged father has been dead for over a month. Do you think that you could cut him some slack for at least the rest of the week?” Jess didn’t respond, instead just huffing out a breath. “And besides,” Lena continued with a small smirk, “five PM is a perfectly reasonable time to go home. In fact, I think that when you notice that Hector has left, it might be time to go home for you as well.”

Jess stopped her movements, straightening up and giving the youngest Luthor a suspicious and almost stubborn look. “Is that why you came all the way over here? To tell me I should go home?”

Lena just laughed at that. “No, there’s actually something important I need you to take care of,” Lena started, changing the subject to the reason of her presence there. “I need you to make an acquisition for me.”

Jess frowned at her. “You mean like the time I had to suddenly get you the entire N’Sync discography?”

“No!” Lena protested, a blush creeping up her cheeks at her willingness to delve into Kara’s music taste. “L-Corp is purchasing a small business. Here…” she pulled the folder containing the details out of her handbag, handing it to Jess as she stepped towards their shared office, “if you could ensure-”

“Hang on,” Jess interjected, motioning Lena to stop. “Detective Sawyer is waiting for you in there,” she motioned at the office. “Hector let her in,” Jess explained upon seeing Lena’s surprised expression. “Apparently she couldn’t find you at CatCo and now she’s refusing to leave. She wasn’t in a great mood,” the former assistant added.

“Oh…” Lena frowned at the closed doors, “…give me a minute, alright?” She received a nod in return, and as she stepped into the office she now shared with Jess, she noticed Maggie slumped in one of the visitor’s chairs with a glass of scotch already in hand. She made sure the doors to the office were closed, ensuring their privacy, before stepping next to the detective.

“Most people ask, before helping themselves to my liquor, you know?” Lena commented as she sat down in the adjacent chair, while Maggie didn’t even bother to look at her. “Did you find those people I told you about?” she asked hopefully.

“Give me a break, Luthor,” Maggie retorted harshly. “I’ve already got the captain on my ass about this exploded fight club case going cold, then today I got saddled with an investigation into a string of alien kidnappings that’s going nowhere and, oh yeah, my mom stormed out of my wedding shower.” Maggie bitterly shook her head, and Lena was slightly taken aback by the woman’s cold voice. “I think I finally understand you a little more, kid,” Maggie continued, and Lena was too surprised by the woman’s unusually vulnerable behaviour to be offended at being called a kid again. “I wanted to tell her that my dad had come around so badly… I wanted to scream it from the rooftops that she had no right to tell me that he would be ashamed of me… that she didn’t know anything…” the detective huffed out a breath, before forcing down the rest of her drink in one go. “But, yeah… I get it now. I get that your power must be a pain in the ass sometimes.”

Lena swallowed, because ‘a pain in the ass’ was definitely putting it mildly, but she was more concerned about Maggie right now. About the woman looking the opposite of her resolute and pragmatic self, instead appearing so small and defeated and Lena wasn’t sure how to handle it. She was just about to say something reassuring, assuming she could figure out the words, but she was stunned when Maggie suddenly covered her eyes with her hand and the corners of her lips started trembling.

“I think I’m losing her, Lena…”

Lena felt her insides constrict, because she’d never heard Maggie’s voice sound so broken and she instinctively got out of her chair, kneeling in front of her and trying to look the detective in the eye. “Well… screw her!” Lena exclaimed. “You and I, we… we don’t need our mothers! We  are more than capable-”

“No…” Maggie shook her head, inhaling sharply as she appeared to be forcefully holding back her tears. “I mean... Alex… I think… I think she blames me.” Lena watched in astonishment, as she'd only ever seen Maggie in this state when the ghost of her father had appeared. “Catching Lillian was her best shot at finding her father… and then I killed her… and then Henshaw disappeared and- and-” the detective struggled to formulate more words, as she swallowed harshly. “I think she blames me, Lena… she can't get her father back and it's my fault and I- I don't know if she wants to get married anymore, and… I don't…” Maggie looked away as her face contorted and Lena felt a sting in her chest at that sight. “She's my only family now… my mom made that very clear…” the detective swallowed harshly as holding back her tears was starting to become an impossible task. “And I just… I just don't know what to do…” Maggie tried to hide her tears behind her hand again, but Lena grabbed the woman's sleeves.

“If Alex really blames you for that, she's an idiot!” Lena said fiercely. “And you've still got me, do you hear me?! If it comes to picking sides, I will be on yours!” Lena shuddered at that prospect, because despite not seeing them together all that often and despite the fact that Alex was clearly less than fond of her, she still found it hard to imagine those two breaking up. I mean… if even Maggie and Alex couldn't get a happily ever after… if even those two couldn't make it work… was love even real?

Maggie actually huffed out a laugh as she wiped at her tears. “You'll pick my side, huh?” Despite her trembling lips, she still attempted a smirk. “Even when little Danvers sides with Alex?”

Lena huffed out a breath, glad that the detective had at least stopped crying. “Believe it or not, we don't actually agree on everything,” she replied, as last night's argument with Kara suddenly seemed very far away.

“You can't go in there!!”

The double doors to the office suddenly swung open, as Alex Danvers barged in with a highly offended Jess hot on her heels. “I'm so sorry Ms. Luthor! She's almost as fast as her-”

“So there you are!” Alex completely ignored Jess's indignant sputtering, as she crossed her arms and looked at her fiancée’s back and Lena kneeling in front of her. Maggie quickly wiped her tears as she got out of her seat, while the youngest Luthor slowly stood straight up, feeling an unusually strong protective instinct come over her. She crossed her arms as she stepped next to Maggie, glaring intently at the woman who had reduced her friend to tears. 

“You can’t just walk out on me like that!” Alex barked angrily.

“Well, I’m sorry if I don’t enjoy being your verbal punching bag!” Maggie shot back in a bitter tone.

“I just want you to talk to me!” Alex seemed to be fuming as she darted her eyes between Maggie and the youngest Luthor. “But apparently you need a Luthor to hear you out, is that it?!”

“Don’t drag Lena into this,” Maggie sighed in exasperation, before Lena had a chance to voice her indignation.

“You need to leave right now!” Jess tried to interject, without actually gaining anyone’s attention. “If you don’t, I’ll call secur-”

“Oh, sure, defend the resident Luthor too while you’re at it!!” Alex snapped, now looking completely beside herself. “You can’t talk to me, but when things get bad, you run straight to her?! What is it?! Are you two sleeping together or what?!”

“Excuse me?!!” Lena exclaimed.

Maggie shook her head. “How can you even say-”

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!! MS. LUTHOR WOULD NEVER CHEAT ON MS. DANVERS!!”

A deafening silence fell over the room, as Alex, Maggie and Lena all turned their heads towards Jess. Maggie just snorted loudly with her eyebrows raised to her hairline, while Lena and Alex both looked like they’d just swallowed a lemon. “Come… come again?” Alex muttered weakly.

“I said that Ms. Luthor would never do something like that!” Jess responded fiercely. “I don’t know what kind of problems there are in your relationship, but your sister and Ms. Luthor are doing just fine and-”

“Jess, stop it!!” Lena finally found her voice again, as she gave her misguided CFO a frazzled look. “Why would you think that Kara and I are dating?!”

Jess looked completely floored by the statement. “What… what do you mean…” she darted her eyes between the three women in front of her, as Alex and Lena were still looking stunned and Maggie was doing her best to contain her laughter. “…but… you always… seem so happy when she’s here…”

“Because we’re friends!!”

“You gave her that necklace…”

“As a friendly gesture!!”

“You take her to romantic dinners…”

“They’re completely platonic dinners!!”

“You sent her a room full of flowers…”

“As a thank you!!”

“…on Valentine’s day.”

Lena was momentarily stunned. “No, it… it wasn’t Valentine’s…” she protested weakly, “I got kidnapped on the 12th and I sent them the next day…”

“That was the first batch,” Jess interjected. “The ones you sent to her apartment were definitely on Valentine’s day.”

“Wait a minute…” Alex blinked, as she tried to learn how to formulate words again, “…those flowers were from you?!”

Jess frowned at the secret agent. “How could you miss that?” she asked incredulously. “There was a card and everything!”

“We… we thought they were from Mxzy- I mean, this guy who was stalking her,” Alex quickly amended her slip-up. “We just threw them out.”

“She…” Lena’s voice involuntarily softened as she turned to Alex, “…she didn’t read the card?” she asked in a voice that might have sounded a bit hurt.

Those words were apparently what tipped the scale, as Maggie couldn’t contain herself anymore and started wheezing for air, completely laughing her ass off. Alex still looked like she’d seen a ghost (oh, the irony), as she kept glancing between Lena and her cackling fiancée. “Come… come on, Danvers,” the detective managed to force out between her laughter, “let’s… let’s let these two work this out…” she kept cackling to herself as she guided Alex towards the door.

“But- but…” the secret agent kept protesting weakly, as she looked over her shoulder at Lena and Jess, but eventually Maggie managed to get her out of the office as the double doors closed behind them. The two remaining women just stood there for a while, looking each other in the eye with similar flabbergasted expressions, before one of them finally spoke up.

“So…” Jess swallowed nervously, “…you’re… you’re really not dating?”

“No!!” Lena protested vigorously, her cheeks a deep shade of red at this point.

“Right…” Jess nodded to herself, her eyes darting back and forward and apparently trying to wrap her head around that. She hesitantly started turning towards the doors, but quickly pivoted back. “Are you sure?!” she asked with a deep frown.

“I think I would know it, if I was dating Kara Danvers!!” Lena protested, highly annoyed at this feeling of complete and utter embarrassment that was becoming a recurring theme in her life.

“Right… right…” Jess looked like she wanted to turn away again, but something was keeping her in place. “But…” she hesitantly searched her boss’s eyes, “…but you… you would… want to?”

Lena’s automatic negative retort got stuck in her throat, as she looked at Jess’s concerned expression. She tried to force the self-preservational lie past her lips, but instead the result was an incoherent series of stammers. She felt her face heat up as she continued trying to get any words out, hanging her head and looking at the floor in an attempt to move past her verbal blockage. She didn’t succeed, but apparently she didn’t need to.

“Awwwww…”

Lena looked up at the curious sound, finding Jess clutching her heart and giving her a look that she was pretty sure most people reserved for pictures of kittens and new-born babies. Lena frowned suspiciously at the smaller woman and Jess, for her part, managed to look contrite. “Sorry, I… that wasn’t very…” she muttered, obviously trying very hard to regain some semblance of professionalism. “But seriously, if… if you need any help…”

“Thank you,” Lena replied as evenly as she could, not sure if she should be relieved or concerned about her former assistant’s reaction to all this, “but I think it would be best if you just take care of that purchase for L-Corp now.”

Jess briefly glanced at the folder she was still holding before giving her a small nod. “Right, I’ll… I’ll go do that…” Jess briefly shot her another curious look, one that made it seem like she’d never seen anything so endearing, before slowly heading for the doors. Before reaching them, however, she froze in place and inhaled sharply. She slowly turned around, and Lena frowned at her change in demeanour as the woman was suddenly looking very concerned. “Um… Ms. Luthor?”

“Yes?” Lena asked warily, not sure what to make of the woman’s almost horrified expression.

“If you… if you see Supergirl again… could you tell her I’m really sorry about our last conversation?”

“Wait, what?”

“Just tell her that, alright?” Jess said nervously as she started backing away.

“Jess…”

“Gotta go, bye.”

“What did you do?!”

The woman didn’t respond as she basically ran out of the office.  

“Jess!!”

 

 



 

 

 

Mancini’s was closed for a private function tonight.

Or at least, that’s what the sign on the door said. Inside the restaurant there was actually no one present. Except for Lorenzo, who was toiling away in the kitchen, and the 25-year old owner of two international conglomerates, who was nervously adjusting her shirt as she waited for Kara to arrive. She was standing next to a table set for two; the very same table they’d been sitting at last night before the blonde woman had stormed out. Now, the slightly dimmed lights hanging overhead illuminated the restaurant, much like the city lights were illuminating the streets outside. Lena couldn’t stop fiddling with her shirt, as she sincerely hoped that Kara would actually show up to her impromptu invitation. Her fretting wasn’t prolonged too much, as five minutes after the agreed time she heard the tinkle that signalled the opening of the front door.

“Lena?”

“Over here,” Lena called out, already unable to maintain a regular heartbeat. Kara appeared from the lobby, curiously glancing at all the empty tables in the restaurant as she slowly and unsurely walked up to the only table that was actually set, where Lena was standing while nervously fiddling with her fingers. Seriously, where was her poise and her dignity when she needed it?

Kara crossed her arms, as she gave Lena a curious look. “So, um… what’s going on?”

Lena swallowed, as hearing the woman’s voice directed at her in a less than friendly tone was already doing things to her, but she kept her cool. For now. “I… I wanted to apologise,” she started hesitantly. “For yesterday…” Lena paused, as Kara wasn’t even looking her in the eye, instead stubbornly looking to the side with her arms still crossed. “I know… that the things you remember from Krypton… are important to you,” Lena started slowly, thinking that all those mental drafts of what she was going to say weren’t helpful in the slightest when Kara was standing this close. “And… I didn’t mean… it wasn’t my intention to make fun of that. And… I’m sorry… I’m really sorry if I upset you.” She gave the woman a pleading look, as Kara finally looked at her.

“But you still think it’s stupid, right?” Kara asked with a frown. “That I believe in Rao?”

Kara kept giving her that stubborn look and Lena bit the inside of her cheek, because this was exactly the turn she was afraid the conversation would take. She forced down all her years of scientific study and academic prowess and instead called on the power of diplomacy. Because as much as she didn’t want to hurt Kara’s feelings, she also didn’t want to lie to her. (And being honest with Kara was something she always tried to do. So you can stop looking so smug, Talbot!!)

“I… don’t believe in things that can’t be proven,” Lena started carefully, “but that doesn’t mean I want to tell you what to believe,” she added quickly. “So you know, if- if…” Lena struggled for a moment, trying desperately to not sound judgemental with her choice of words, “if you choose to believe in faith rather than… scientific truths, then I… I don’t want to make you feel bad about that. I mean, I… I never want you to feel bad…”

Kara huffed out a breath, as she finally uncrossed her arms and finally looked a little less guarded. “It’s not that I choose one over the other,” she explained. “I mean… I guess in a way, truth is just what you believe in.” Kara shrugged, and Lena had to close her eyes for a moment as the scientist in her was just dying to rail and rant against that contradictory statement, but she managed to keep her tongue. “And faith is just having a reason…” Kara continued, “it’s having a reason to believe in something. I mean… surely you understand that? There must be something you believe in…”

Kara kept looking at her with raised eyebrows and Lena felt rather scrutinised. “Well… of course I do, I…” -Shut up! Don’t say it! Don’t be an idiot! Don’t say- “…I believe in you.” Lena swallowed after uttering those embarrassing words, and Kara gave her a curious expression, almost looking at her in wonder. “I mean, I- I- I’m not going to start a cult in your name or anything,” Lena laughed nervously, “but you know… you’ve always been there for me… and you’ve always proven that I can count on you… so yeah,” she shrugged, “I believe in you.”

Lena was nervous as she looked back up, but she was delighted to find one of her favourite things in the world. Kara was smiling at her. “Well… there you go,” the blonde woman proclaimed, and she explained further upon seeing Lena’s confused frown: “Faith and science not being mutually exclusive.”

Kara kept giving her a broad smile and Lena huffed out a nervous laugh, because despite the fact she still believed that to be a flawed statement, despite the fact there were several holes in the woman’s logic, she didn’t really care at this point. Because she would take a dozen more flawed statements, if they came with Kara smiling like that. “I… respectfully disagree,” Lena smirked, and Kara didn’t stop smiling at her so she pressed on. “But since I wasn’t very nice about it last night…” she motioned to the table beside them, “…apology dinner.”

Kara ducked her head in that adorable fashion and Lena’s heart apparently took that as a cue to start doing multiple backflips. “As if you need an excuse to have dinner with me,” Kara teased, causing Lena’s cheeks to  turn pink, because she’d definitely made a habit of taking Kara out to eat after the woman had stopped ignoring her. Kara didn’t seem to notice as she let her hand go over the neatly set table. “I still can’t believe you shut down Mancini’s just to get a private table,” she laughed.

“Actually… I bought it for you.”

Kara’s head snapped to attention, as she blinked in surprise. “You… bought me a permanent table at Mancini’s?!” she exclaimed incredulously.

“No, no,” Lena laughed as she waved dismissively at the misunderstanding, while Kara let out a relieved breath. “I meant the restaurant.”

Kara’s face fell in disbelief as she opened and closed her mouth a few times. “You… bought Mancini’s?” she asked weakly, as she darted her eyes between Lena’s. “For me?”

“Well… yes.”

“Lena!!” She huffed out an incredulous breath as she moved a hand in front of her mouth and looked around for a moment. “You can’t do that!! You can’t just buy me a restaurant!!”

“Why… why not?”

“Because it’s too much!!”

“Says the woman who gave me Kryptonite.”

“That was different!!” Kara exclaimed, looking bewildered. “I was making a point!! And that only cost me a trip to Metropolis and an argument with Clark!! You can’t just throw money at problems and-”

“I’m sorry, okay?!!” Lena exclaimed and Kara seemed to be momentarily stunned by the increased volume of her voice and her desperate look. And Lena once again felt her embarrassment rise to the surface at the fact she couldn’t contain her emotions around the woman. At the fact that despite her best efforts to maintain her poise and her dignity, she could now feel her eyes start to burn. “I’m sorry if I’m not normal and if I don’t know how to apologise!! But… but I’ve already lost too many people… and…” Lena swallowed, feeling self-conscious at bringing up her past and thinking about it later, she would conclude that it was all dr. Talbot’s fault, “…and I just panic sometimes, all right?” She swallowed again as she looked nervously at Kara’s beautiful blue eyes. “When I feel like I’m losing you… I panic,” she finished weakly. To be honest, considering her previous reactions to Kara being in danger, buying a restaurant was a step forward for her. But that was definitely one thing she was never going to bring up.

“Lena…” the alien woman stepped forward and suddenly wrapped her in a hug, and yep, there it was. That familiar feeling of safety whenever Kara even just brushed fingers with her. That warm glowing feeling in her chest that reached for her extremities and made her heart go a million miles a minute. “…I’m not going anywhere, silly.” She stepped back and gave Lena that understanding blue-eyed look, and Lena wondered how only Kara managed to make it look like it wasn’t pity. “Even if we fight sometimes… I’m not going anywhere, alright?”

“Okay,” Lena muttered softly, looking at the floor and feeling highly self-conscious about her needy behaviour.

“And do you know why?”

Lena looked up, seeing Kara give her a broad grin, with some Maggie-like mischief in her eyes. “Why?” she asked slowly.

“Because you’ve got a friend in me…”

Lena involuntarily huffed out a laugh and shook her head.

“You got a friend in me…”

“Please Kara, not the singing again,” Lena sighed, although she couldn’t stop herself from smiling.

“When the road looks rough aheeeeead, and your miiiiiles and miiiiiles from-”

Kara abruptly shut her mouth at the sound of someone loudly clearing their throat behind Lena. When the young CEO turned around, she saw the chef standing on the doorstep of the kitchen with an unsure expression. “Are, um… are the bosses ready to eat now?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes, Lorenzo, I think we are.” Lena gave the man a small nod as he retreated back into the kitchen to get their food. When she turned back to Kara, the woman was giving her a surprised look.

“Bosses?” Kara asked curiously.

“Well… technically both our names are on the papers…” she waved dismissively, “…but it doesn’t matter, I can hire someone to run it and you won’t have to worry about it.” Lena was nervous that she was going to get reprimanded again for buying a restaurant, but instead Kara gave her that curious look from before. That almost wondrous look, as if she was seeing Lena for the first time.

“You’re really something else, you know that?”

“Um… thanks?” Lena said unsurely.

The woman didn’t say anything else to explain that statement, as their food was promptly delivered to their table. They didn’t come back to the subject at any point though their dinner, nor did they dwell on the fact that they now both owned the establishment where they were eating. Everything seemed to be as usual. Everything was the same as before. It was almost as if their fight had never happened, except for one curious thing that Lena noticed. She kept catching Kara giving her that same curious, almost wondrous look she’d seen before, before the woman would suddenly blink and refocus on her food. It was just a little thing, and Lena didn’t think too much of it. Because as long as Kara was still here, Lena would take it. As long as Kara was here, everything was alright.

Meanwhile, across the table Kara was slightly distracted. She tried to focus on her food but her eyes kept wandering to Lena all the time, and she had to snap out of it several times when she realised that she’d been staring. But it was just really strange. I mean, Lena was talking about one of her latest projects, smiling widely while she did so, and Kara couldn’t help but wonder. She couldn’t help but wonder…

…had Lena always looked that gorgeous when she smiled?

 

Chapter Text

 

October 5th 2017

 

Lena felt like someone was bouncing a hammer off her skull.

She groaned as she slowly forced her eyes open, briefly panicking when she didn’t immediately recognise her surroundings. Then she remembered the sick children. She remembered the several bottles of wine. As she slowly lifted her head from the couch, everything came flooding back to her. All the reasons why she was sleeping on Jess’s couch while wearing the woman’s Metropolis University sweatshirt, suddenly all came back. Right… there were poisoned children… and it could very well be her fault. Where did I leave that bottle again? She was just struggling to move into a seated position on the couch, when a vague memory suddenly screamed for attention at the back of her mind. Oh… right. Kara had been here…

Lena groaned again as she held her head, the thumping in her temple stubbornly persisting, as she tried to remember what they had talked about. Something about the lead poisoning… something about Kara believing in her… Lena shook her head, as she gave up on trying to decipher the blurry memories. She could ask Kara about it later. You know, assuming that she’d still want to hang out with a child-killer. Lena let out another groan as she realised that she’d probably made a spectacle of herself in front of the woman. I mean, she already had trouble containing her emotions around those honest blue eyes when she was sober, let alone after several bottles of well-seasoned wine.

She should probably reimburse Jess for those…

Lena flinched as the hammer bouncing off her skull returned out of nowhere, but now that she was slightly more awake, she suddenly recognised it for the knocking on the front door that it was. Lena very carefully moved from the couch to Jess’s front door, wincing at the loud knocks that reverberated through her hungover head as she looked through the eyehole. She was surprised to see Maggie’s irritated-looking face on the other side, then carefully opened the door. Before she could open her mouth, however, the detective was already barging past her.

“I checked up on your stalking victims, Luthor.”

“Come in,” Lena proclaimed sarcastically, while Maggie was already headed for the table. “Don’t take your shoes off, or anything…” Lena fell silent as a burly man suddenly followed the detective into the apartment. He didn’t even greet her as he just walked right past her and stood with his hands in his pockets behind the detective, who had taken a seat at the table and was looking at Lena expectantly. The youngest Luthor slowly closed the door and approached the table while giving the unknown man a suspicious look. She’d put him at about five foot ten and maybe around thirty years old, and she noticed his brown skin that contrasted with his simple white T-shirt, but the thing that stood out to her the most was the man’s nose, which had obviously been broken at some point. Or at least she hoped it had been. Because someone being born like that just seemed cruel.

“Right,” Maggie started, all business, “so Daniel Potts is the most boring guy on the planet. I checked his bank account and his phone records, but nothing seemed suspicious. He has no criminal record, not even a parking ticket, and absolutely nothing that could connect him to Roulette, as far as I can tell.” Lena’s eyes widened slightly as she darted them between the detective and the man who was now yawning behind the seated woman, but Maggie just carried on. “Blake Vardy is your average frat boy and just by saying that, I’m already wasting too many words on him, in my humble opinion. Meryl Evans was slightly more problematic; her bank and phone records are in order, but I couldn’t track her down. Then I get a call from a colleague who asked about her at the diner she was supposed to work at -I thought it would be safer if I didn’t go in person- but apparently she skipped town or something. And as far as I can tell, neither of them is being followed by anyone who’s actually alive.” Maggie frowned as she looked up at Lena’s concerned expression. “Don’t worry,” she reassured her. “I told my colleague that she might be a witness in a burglary, and now she’s just being treated as a regular missing person. No one suspects about the ghost thing-”

“Maggie!” Lena exclaimed incredulously, as she kept darting her eyes between the loose-lipped detective and the man behind her, who looked highly disinterested. “Who’s your friend?!”

“Huh?” Maggie frowned in confusion as she looked behind her, where the man appeared to realise that he was being scrutinised. Maggie turned back around. “What are you talking about, Luthor?”

Lena’s eyes widened, as did those of the man, because they simultaneously realised what was going on.

“You’re a ghost!”

“You can see me!”

Lena’s brain might be slightly hungover, but it was quickly realising the gravity of the situation, while Maggie looked incredulously at the space behind her and the man just seemed terribly excited. “Ay, what a small world!!” He laughed loudly, Lena wincing at the sound, as he stepped forward with an outstretched hand and a broad grin. “It’s great to meet you!! My name is Mesut!! I can’t believe you’re actually friends with detective Maggie!! Miss Roulette never mentioned-”

“Mesut…” Lena was breathing heavily, as she held up her hand to make the man stop his rambling. “Mesut… did Roulette tell you to follow Maggie?” she asked warily.

“Oh, yes, yes,” he nodded his head, still looking between the two women enthusiastically, as if this was a barbecue between friends. “She said I had to tell her everything that-”

“Shit!!”

Maggie groaned upon seeing Lena’s reaction. “Oh, for fuck’s sake…”

Mesut looked confused as Maggie kept cursing under her breath and Lena was holding her head while looking for a way out of this mess. Because Roulette might be about to find out… she might be about to find out that they had been trying to follow her trail…

“Mesut… you can’t tell her…” she gave the ghost in front of her a pleading look, “…you can’t tell her Maggie talked to me. Or- or that she checked up on Daniel Potts, Blake Vardy and Meryl Evans.”

Mesut just gave her a confused frown. “But… why?”

“Because she can’t know we’re trying to find out what she’s up to!” Lena exclaimed, feeling her panic start to rise.

“Why… why is that so important?” Mesut asked, still appearing confused.

Lena groaned in frustration. “Because if she finds out, she’ll try to make me lose my mind by telling every ghost in town about me.” Lena inhaled briefly through her nose as she suddenly realised she had a valuable argument at her disposal. “And if that happens I won’t be able to help you!”

Mesut just frowned at her, before looking suspiciously between the young CEO and Maggie. “Okay, seriously, why does everyone think I need help? This is starting to get offensive.”

“What… what do you mean you don’t need help?” Lena asked confused. “Surely you don’t want to be a ghost forever?”

“Why not? Being a ghost is pretty cool.”

“Wait, wait,” Lena sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose, because she could feel her hangover-headache starting to get amplified by the umpteenth break in ghost protocol. “If you don’t want my help, then why are you following Roulette’s orders?”

“Well… when she asked, almost everyone agreed… and I didn’t really want to be left out…”

Lena sighed very deeply as she rubbed her temple, because there went the only kind of leverage she might have had. Being hungover was definitely not helping her, but she was pretty sure that even in a more sober state there wouldn’t have been any other solution. She was going to have to beg. She was going to have to beg this random stranger to let her keep her sanity.

“So what the hell is happening?!” Maggie interjected. “Am I one of Roulette’s stalking victims now?!”

Lena sighed, as she darted her eyes between the ghost and the detective. “That’s what it looks like…” The hammer made a brief return to Lena’s skull, as Maggie shot up and kicked one of the chairs over in frustration, and it clattered loudly when it collided with the floor.

“Well, that’s just great!! Obviously I didn’t have enough shit going on, did I?!”

Lena briefly scrunched her eyes closed, waiting for the sharp pain in her temple to subside, before giving Maggie a worried frown. “Are… are you and Alex still having problems or…” Lena kept looking at the other woman with raised eyebrows, but it would seem she was refusing to respond, just crossing her arms and scowling at the floor.

“Ha… you could say that,” Mesut commented, as Lena blinked in surprise while turning back towards the ghost. “I’m pretty sure they were about to break up before that other cop called her,” he explained.

Lena’s eyes went wide as she felt a sting in her chest while looking back at Maggie with concern. “You and Alex are breaking up?” she asked incredulously.

“Wha-” Maggie briefly turned her head to look behind her, where Mesut was no longer standing. “Seriously, dude?!” She let her eyes go around the room, apparently determined to give the ghost a foul look at revealing that information. “Well, this is just creepy! But, hey, at least I won’t be alone, right?!” she exclaimed sarcastically as she continued searching the room with her eyes, her anger still very evident in her voice. “At least I’ll have some weird-ass ghost to keep me company!”

“Hey…” Mesut frowned, looking mildly offended, but Lena stepped closer to her friend, feeling her concern increase.

“Maggie, what happened?” she asked, not sure when the thought of Alex and Maggie splitting up had started causing her such distress. She kept looking at the detective, but the woman was just crossing her arms and had returned looking at the floor, still stubbornly refusing to speak. “Maggie… talk to me. What-”

“I don’t want to talk about it!!”

“But, Maggie-”

“Oh, screw this!!” Maggie suddenly marched towards the front door. “If I wanted to be interrogated, I could have just stayed home!!” Lena flinched, the sound of the door slamming shut reverberating through her brain. She closed her eyes as she briefly held her aching head. She really wanted to go after  her. She really wanted to make sure Maggie was alright. And also, she wanted to know what happened so she would have sufficient verbal ammunition when she tore Alex a new one. Instead, she decided that her main priority should be to maintain her sanity, so she opened her eyes to try and reason with Mesut. Only to find that the man was already headed for the door.

“Wait!!” Lena rushed forward, urging the ghost who held the key to her sanity to stop. “You can't tell her!! You can't tell Roulette-”

“I'm sorry miss Lena, but I promised to follow her.”

“But-” Just like that, the ghostly man turned around and stepped through the closed door, leaving Lena gaping at it on the other side.

It was over.

It was all over.

Roulette was going to find out about her investigation into the woman's plans, every ghost in National City was going to be standing on her doorstep, and she could say goodbye to her life as she knew it. Lena held her head as she stumbled back towards the couch and laid down on it. She could feel the throbbing in her temple start to subside, and she suddenly wished she could have it back. Because a slight hangover was going to seem like heaven once her head would be filled with the voices of countless different ghosts. Like Corben, times a hundred. Good god… As Lena dropped her arm to the side, she felt her fingertips brush against a smooth object under the couch. She frowned as she grasped the object, but let out a satisfied sigh when she pulled it out and realised what it was. It was a wine bottle. And it wasn't completely empty.

Well… time to see if insanity looks better when you're drunk.

 

 


 

 

 

Lena’s legs were still wobbly as she made her way through the streets of National City.

Because almost dying in a plane crash apparently had side effects.

The fact that that arrogant asshole had almost killed her was already concerning. That after surviving attacks from Lillian and Lex Luthor, she’d almost kicked the bucket because of Morgan Edge of all people, was pretty unnerving. But Lena wasn’t concerned about that right now. What she was concerned about was Kara. Because after dropping half a plane with toxic chemicals in an empty docking area and after carefully depositing Lena at a safe distance from the wreckage, Kara had acted very strangely. She’d been breathing very heavily, which was already unusual, and she wouldn’t turn to face Lena no matter how many times she asked if she was alright. Instead she just shot up into the sky after a few seconds, leaving Lena to wonder what was wrong with her best friend.

Lena didn’t even look at Andy the security guard as she barged into CatCo, because this was starting to get ridiculous. Kara wasn’t answering her phone, she wasn’t at her apartment, according to Winn she wasn’t at the DEO and Lena’s legs, besides being wobbly, were now also sore after walking all the way up and down the city. Because apparently Trevor couldn’t be bothered to do his job anymore. Lena had just reached the top floor, stepping into the glass-walled workspace and realising that Kara being here was probably a long shot, but unfortunately she was running out of ideas. She walked through the empty office, the lights already dimmed low, as she headed past the deserted cubicles, past the guy standing on his head and past the printer area while… wait, what?

Lena stopped in her tracks, turning on the spot to see that there was indeed someone standing on their head. “Mesut?!”

The upside down figure fell over in surprise, making no noise on impact, before recognising Lena and scurrying to his feet. “Miss Lena! You're here! I thought I was gonna have to wait until morning.”

The youngest Luthor blinked in surprise. “You came back for me?” 

“Well yeah,” Mesut responded. “I mean, the rules are that I have to follow Maggie until she goes to sleep and she just passed out in some bar, so…” he shrugged, “I just thought I'd come back and talk. You said miss Roulette was doing something bad?” he asked with a frown.

“Wait…” Lena incredulously let her eyes go over the man's face, “so you didn't tell Roulette what Maggie and I talked about yet?” The man shook his head and Lena felt immediate relief washing over her at the thought of maintaining her sanity for at least a little while longer. “Good… that's good…” Lena nodded to herself, but Mesut looked confused.

“I still don't understand what your problem is with her,” he asked.

Lena scoffed at that. “Well, for starters there's the threat of driving me insane delivered right to my face. Also the fact that she’s trying to do something illegal, otherwise she could've just asked for my help instead of going through all this trouble to keep me in the dark.” Lena crossed her arms as she huffed out a breath. “You know, just in case owning an alien fight club wasn't bad enough.”

Mesut's frown grew deeper. “Fight club?”

Lena's eyebrows raised in disbelief as she looked at the man's confused face. “Yes,” she drawled, “you know… the place that blew up?”

“That's what that was?!” The man's eyes widened, as he looked completely taken aback by this information. 

“How did you not know that?”

“It- it was my first day,” the man stammered, “I was just told that some fancy lady needed a janitor for something. Although I spent most of the morning being a cleaning lady; that place was a mess.” He chuckled in disbelief, but then his eyes suddenly went wide again. “Oh, no… well shit, now I feel really bad.” He huffed out a breath and explained further upon seeing Lena's questioning expression: “I might have… let someone in before the explosion,” he confessed. “You know, she wanted to get out of the rain and everything, but… she was an alien.” The man audibly swallowed. “That would've ended badly, wouldn't it?”

“Yes,” Lena agreed, “it probably would have.” She cleared her throat, partially distracted by the information about ghosts yet to come, but Mesut spoke up again. 

“So, what exactly do you need me to do?”

“I just need you to omit anything that involves me, or anything that Maggie and I are doing to uncover Roulette's plans,” Lena explained intently. “Also, if you could try and figure out why exactly she's interested in Maggie. Maybe see what information she focusses on?” 

“Well…” the man looked unsure, “I can do the whole omitting part, but miss Roulette usually wants to know every last detail of her day, so… I don't know if I'll figure out which part is important to her.”

Lena smiled as she breathed out, because having Mesut's cooperation was already more than she could've hoped for. “That's fine,” she reassured the ghostly man, “we'll go over the details tomorrow, but…” Lena fell silent as she suddenly caught sight of a light coming from behind the corner amidst the partial darkness of the office. “Mesut,” she started unsurely, suddenly remembering that she was supposed to be looking for Kara, “is someone still here?”

“Oh, yeah, I saw someone in the big office earlier…” Lena immediately moved in that direction, as checking on Kara suddenly became her top priority again. “So we’ll talk tomorrow?” Mesut yelled after her. Lena just gave him a nod over her shoulder before rounding the corner and stepping towards Cat Grant's former office. She slowed down, however, when she noticed who the late worker was. James Olsen was apparently fighting to keep his eyes open, as he stared at the piece of paper in the one hand that wasn’t confined by a sling.

“James…” she frowned as she stepped into the office and the man looked up from his  desk, “…I didn’t expect you to be here.”

“Well, the news never sleeps,” he sighed, visibly tired. He briefly rubbed his eyes before looking Lena over. “Were you just… talking to yourself?”

“No, um… there was a ghost,” she vaguely motioned to the office space behind her. “You wouldn’t happen to know where Kara is, would you?”

“No, I-”

Lena sighed as she rubbed her eyes. “It’s fine, I’ll just try somewhere else.” She was just about to turn around when James stood up from his seat.

“Wait! Um…” Lena halted her movements, as James rounded the desk to lean against the other side with his one free hand in his pocket. “I just wanted to apologise to you.”

Lena’s eyebrows rose to her hairline. “Apologise?” she asked incredulously. “For taking care of CatCo when I temporarily stepped down, or for saving Jess’s life from a stray bullet?” She pointedly looked at the man’s left arm, which was still confined by a black sling after the incident.

“Well, when you put it like that…” he chuckled nervously, but quickly turned serious again. “I just meant… those people at your press conference. When you and Jess almost got shot…” he swallowed, seemingly nervous, which was an unusual look on him, “…I used to be like them.” Lena crossed her arms, not sure what that meant, but James quickly elaborated: “Back when I didn’t know you, before Winn told me that you helped Jimmy, I was like them; I just assumed you shouldn’t be trusted based on your last name.” He gave her a nervous smile, and Lena was surprised by his honesty. “And then when your mother kidnapped you, I kept insisting that Kara shouldn’t trust you and that I was sure you’d joined Cadmus. I mean… I know better now, obviously, but… seeing all those people screaming and yelling at you… it was kind of like looking into a mirror of how I used to think about you. So… I just wanted to say I’m sorry. For judging you when I had no right to.”

Lena huffed out a soft laugh as she shook her head. “While I appreciate that, James, I try not to live in the past.” She gave the man a small smile. “Whatever you used to think of me, today is a new day. And today, you’re the man who saved Jess’s life, so the way I see it I should be thanking you for that. Which reminds me…”

She swallowed nervously, because this was not a topic she enjoyed discussing. But considering James’s honesty, she figured she should return the favour. Also, she was kind of supposed to say the things she was grateful for out loud. Not now, Talbot!!

“…I realised that I never actually thanked you. You know… for… for saving my life…”

She pointedly looked to the side, steadily avoiding eye contact as James just hummed in response. “Well…” he started hesitantly, “…you know… Maggie and Winn helped too…”

“Yes, I know. But having this conversation once is awkward enough, so let’s just pretend they didn’t.”

That actually caused a laugh to escape James’s lips, and he looked embarrassed about it immediately after, which in turn caused Lena to laugh at the face he made. They just stood there laughing at each other, before their laughter died down and Lena decided that it was time to resume her search for Kara. Before she could say as much, however, James spoke up again.

“There’s actually something I think you should have.” He started undoing his watch, slowly, so he didn’t move the shoulder with a bullet hole in it too much, and extended it towards Lena. “This is a signal, to call Supergirl when you’re in danger. I used to have one to call Superman back in Metropolis, but… I think you need it more than I do. Besides, Kara actually got mad at me last time when I used it for non-Supergirl reasons.” He chuckled briefly, but Lena frowned as she looked at the watch in the man’s hand.

“You think I need it more than you do?” she asked slowly. “I’m sorry, but last I checked, I wasn’t the one going around beating up criminals as a vigilante,” she quirked a teasing eyebrow.

“Yeah, I know, but…” he gave her an encouraging smile, “…Winn’s been telling me about your, um… adventures. His words, not mine,” he quickly explained upon seeing Lena’s face. “Maybe fighting crime isn’t exactly the safest of pastimes, but I can take care of myself. But if you and Winn are ever in a tight spot… I’d like to know that you have back-up.” He kept smiling as he extended the watch closer, but Lena wasn’t too sure if she wanted it.

Having the power to summon Supergirl was certainly convenient, but who was she to call on Kara whenever she wanted? Who was she to disturb an actual hero while she fumbled her way around, trying to help spirits? Lena was about to decline the offer, but then she was reminded of something. She was suddenly reminded of Roulette, and her ominous promise to have Lena do something for her. And if the woman really wanted to make her do something illegal… if she was going to order her to steal something or god forbid… actually… kill someone… then it would be very convenient if Supergirl would just happen to be in the neighbourhood to stop her. Kara could stop Lena from doing anything illegal… and Roulette wouldn’t suspect foul play… Of course that would also lead to Kara asking inconvenient questions, but if the alternative was murder then it wasn’t really a choice. This probably wasn’t a permanent solution to the Roulette situation, but considering the circumstances, Lena decided to take it.

“Thank you,” she smiled as she took the watch from him and examined it closely. “I suppose using it right now would make her mad again, wouldn’t it?” she chuckled.

“I think that’s pretty much guaranteed,” James agreed.

“Well… if you hear from Kara you’ll let me know?” The man nodded at her and Lena gave him a smile as she started turning around.  “Well… goodnight then, James.”

The man returned her greeting, then Lena left the office. She shook her head as she rounded the corner towards the hall, not quite sure where to look for Kara next. She had  just finished putting on her new watch and she was just approaching the elevator, when someone stepped out of it. Lena froze in surprise as she watched the familiar face step towards the workspace with a bouquet of flowers in hand.

“Jess?” she asked incredulously.

“Ms. Luthor!” Jess stopped in her tracks, seeming just as surprised to see her boss here. They both stood still for a beat. “You’re… you’re here…” she stammered and Lena frowned at the woman, because Jess hardly ever looked this uncertain. “So me and Ms. Danvers cleared your name!” Jess suddenly proclaimed. “That’s… great, isn’t it?”

“Yeah…” Lena drawled, still frowning at Jess wo was fiddling with her batch of flowers. “What are you doing here?”

“Well… I just thought… you know, Mr. Olsen saved my life, so…” she sheepishly nodded at the flowers in her hands, as Lena’s eyebrows shot up.

“Oh.” Lena had to try very hard to suppress a smirk, as she stepped to the side. “Well, don’t let me stop you.”

Her former assistant just nodded, looking slightly embarrassed, as she walked past her and in the direction of James’s office. Lena maybe lingered near the elevator a little longer than necessary, as she strained her ears and heard her CFO proclaim that she had a rule that whenever someone takes a bullet for her, they get to call her Jess. There was more to the conversation, but when Lena heard Jessica Freakin’ Huang start giggling (yes, the woman actually giggled), she decided it was time to go.

Lena actually greeted Andy on the way out this time, as she walked out of the revolving doors and let out a long sigh as she looked over the empty streets. It was very well possible that Kara was just handling some other Supergirl crisis, but it didn’t stop her from worrying all the same. Lena took out her phone and upon seeing that Kara hadn’t responded to her messages, she really just felt like pressing the button on her new watch and instantly make sure whether Kara was alright or not. She thought better of it though, understanding the responsibility of having Supergirl at your call, and decided to just wait this one out. She reluctantly started walking towards the bus stop (because lord knows she had completely lost faith in Trevor at this point), but she was startled by a loud voice coming from behind her.

“Hey, you!!” Lena turned on the spot and was confronted with Alex Danvers appearing at the end of the street, as the secret agent marched up to her with an angry scowl on her face. “Where the hell is my sister?!”

Lena frowned at the woman who came to a stop just inches away from her, and she felt blessed at having years of practice at maintaining her poise and her dignity. Because Alex Danvers getting up in her face with that expression was one of the most intimidating sights she had ever seen. “I was just looking for her,” Lena drawled slowly, while carefully taking in the secret agent’s face. She looked angry, but probably not as concerned as she would have been if Kara was in direct danger. So that was something. “Is she alright?” she tried to probe.

Alex just scoffed, finally taking one step back and putting a civil amount of space between them. “That is honestly none of your damn business,” she snarled, and Lena frowned deeply because she felt that lines were being crossed here. “If you see her, you contact me immediately, do you understand?” The secret agent went to walk away, but Lena finally snapped. Perhaps it was the annoying finger Alex waved at her with that last statement, or perhaps it was just the frustration at being treated with such dismissal again after James had done exactly the opposite, or perhaps it was the resentment she felt towards the woman for having the audacity to break up with Maggie. But whatever the reason, Lena couldn’t stop her frustration from flowing out of her right now.

“You know, I thought you’d be smarter,” Lena stated slowly, her tone dropping to glacial temperatures, as Alex stopped to look back at her. “I thought that the mighty Alex Danvers actually had half a brain, but apparently I was wrong,” Lena continued, now being the one to step closer to the still scowling agent, while giving the woman one of her more intense glares. “I usually trust Kara’s judgement, but I can see now she only talks you up because you’re her sister. Are you really that blind?” Lena asked, now shaking her head at the agent who had turned to face her completely. “Are you really so wrapped up in your distrust, that you still think of me as just another Luthor?! Is your head really so far up your own ass that you still think you need to treat me as an enemy?!”

Alex crossed her arms and shook her head as she laughed at her. It sounded condescending to Lena’s ears and quite frankly she didn’t like it. “Do I look like an idiot?” Alex retorted, and oh yes, that was definitely condescension. “I might be stubborn but I’m not blind, Ms. Luthor. I’ve seen you save National City way too many times to think that you’re secretly trying to exterminate all aliens.”

Lena’s cold stare turned suspicious as she glanced the woman over. “Then why are you-”

“Because I don’t like what you’re doing to my sister!!” the secret agent barked and Lena was completely taken aback by that, as Alex looked like she was finally spitting out something that she’d been keeping inside for a long time. “She begged me for weeks to give her my blessing to tell you her secret!! She kept telling me over, and over, and over, how good you were and how we should all just trust you!!” Alex breathed heavily, as she continued her rant. “And then when she finally goes to tell you who she is, she vanishes!! Then, after the longest 24 hours of my life, she finally shows her face again and claims that nothing happened but I know my little sister, Luthor!! I can tell when she’s lying and more importantly, I can tell when she’s been crying!! I don’t know what you said to her back then, and I don’t know what you did to her tonight!! All I know is that an hour ago she flew into my apartment in the middle of a panic attack and was only saying your name over and over again, before flying away with no reasonable explanation!!” Alex breathed in and out a few times, apparently trying to control her anger, while Lena felt her heart constrict at the thought of Kara being in distress for some reason. “So no, Ms. Luthor,” Alex lowered the volume of her voice, which somehow sounded more menacing than her shouting. “I’m not stupid. I don’t think you’re some evil mastermind. But I’m not a fan of how you keep hurting Kara, so let me tell you that quite frankly I just don’t like you.”

Lena just stood there for a second after the woman was done venting her frustration. But after processing everything, and after putting her concern for Kara to the back of her mind, she levelled the woman with a cold glare. “Thank you for your honesty,” she said, returning to her glacial tone. “But since you’ve told me what you really think of me… allow me to return the favour.” A brief flash of confusion flashed across Alex’s face, as Lena kept trying to stare a hole through her. “You’re a lousy girlfriend.”

Alex’s eyes went wide with indignation. “Excuse m-”

“You heard me just fine,” Lena interrupted, as Alex kept giving her an incredulous look. “If you want to talk about hurting people, then we might as well talk about how you’re hurting Maggie. You claim not to be stupid, but actually blaming your girlfriend for not being able to find your father is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Lena watched as the woman’s expression momentarily softened at the mention of her girlfriend. “What… no…” Alex blinked in confusion as the anger washed from her face, “…of course I don’t blame her…”

“Then maybe you should be looking for her instead of Kara, because clearly that’s what she thinks.” She let her eyes go over the agent from top to bottom. “And if she showed up to my office in tears, you clearly did something to make her think that. So come on, let’s hear it, Ms. Righteousness. Why would you drive your girlfriend away to the point that she’s crying her eyes out to me, because she thinks that you don’t want to get married anymore?” Alex crossed her arms defensively and looked to the side, as she didn’t respond immediately. “Oh my god…” Lena huffed out an incredulous breath. “You actually thought she was cheating on you, didn’t you?!” Lena shook her head and glanced at the agent with disdain, as Alex looked back up at her. “Well, obviously you don’t know the first thing about Maggie. And as far as I’m concerned, you don’t deserve her.” Lena straightened her jacket as she gave Alex one last foul look. “If you see Kara tell her I’m worried about her.”

With that she turned around, not waiting for Alex to respond as she started taking long strides in the direction of her apartment, as if every step needed to convey her anger.

 

 


 

 

 

After a long bus ride, and after taking the elevator up to her penthouse, Lena finally felt her exhaustion catching up with her. Being accused of poisoning children, getting shot at, getting drunk and getting saved from a plane crash all in the same day would make anyone tired, she supposed. She turned her key whilst in the middle of a yawn, but as she opened her door and flicked on the lights she abruptly shut her mouth. There, sitting on her couch in full Supergirl outfit, was Kara. The woman had her arms crossed and her eyes shot up to meet her as soon as she stepped inside. Lena instinctively smiled as she shut the door, but it quickly faded when she stepped closer and saw that Kara’s expression wasn’t all that friendly. Well, maybe not unfriendly either, but it seemed like she wasn’t sure what to do with her.

“Kara, I’ve… I’ve been looking all over for you.” She stepped closer and looked the woman over with concern. “Are you alright?”

“Am I alright?” Kara asked, and Lena was slightly taken aback by her cold tone. “Of course I’m not alright!” Kara kept looking at her with a strange mixture of hurt and accusation, and Lena wasn’t sure what to make of it. The alien woman kept her arms crossed as she stood up from the couch. “Save the chemicals?” Kara mimicked. “Let me go?” Kara’s voice cracked, and Lena felt an overwhelming urge to kiss the sorrow off those trembling lips, but this was clearly not the time for her misguided romantic fantasies. “Why in Rao’s name would you say that?!” Kara exclaimed. “Why would you… just…” the woman struggled to form words, and Lena wasn’t sure if it was more due to her anger or her distress, “…what is wrong with you?!”

Lena opened and closed her mouth a few times, slightly taken aback by that accusation. But hey, at least she was more direct about it than dr. Talbot. She could already feel the guilt starting to eat away at her, because she couldn’t tell the woman the whole truth. She couldn’t tell her that she thought Mesut was going to spill her secrets to Roulette. She couldn’t tell her that she thought she was going to lose her mind to the cold grasp of insanity anyway, and that she might as well give herself up in one last heroic gesture rather than face all that. But she couldn’t tell her about that. So instead, she focused on the practical side of things.

“Kara, I… it was only logical.” Lena swallowed nervously as the alien woman’s offence only seemed to grow. “If you had dropped those chemicals, the entire city’s water supply would’ve been poisoned. The soil could have been ruined for generations to come, I just… I was thinking of the bigger picture. I mean… some things are bigger than just me. Some things are more important than my life…”

“NO, THEY’RE NOT!!”

Kara stepped forward, getting face to face with the youngest Luthor, and Lena shuddered for a moment. Because despite being worried about Kara’s current distressed state, and despite knowing she would never hurt her, the sight of Supergirl getting in her face with such intensity in her eyes was still slightly overwhelming. She felt a shiver go down her spine and maybe the elevated rate of her heart right now was due to that intimidating sight. It didn’t quite explain the sudden heat concentrating below her stomach, but she couldn’t focus on that right now. She had to make Kara calm down. Lena had to actively refrain herself from using perfectly rational arguments that explained why the long-term health of every citizen and their future grandchildren was definitely more important than one businesswoman’s life. Instead Lena tried to formulate a calm response to put Kara at ease, but the woman didn’t give her the chance. Kara suddenly grasped both her hands and brought them up between them, effectively pressing Lena closer to her, and Lena’s eyes fluttered as she was suddenly very close to Kara’s face.

“You think you’re the only one that panics?” Kara asked softly, her voice still wavering. “You think you’re the only one that freaks out when they feel like they’re losing someone important?”

Lena opened her mouth but was unable to form words, because Kara was way too close. Her face was way too close, her eyes were too beautiful, her stare was too intense and the pleading tone of her voice was too heart breaking.

“Promise me,” Kara suddenly said, more firmly now. “Promise me you’ll never do something like that again.”

“I…”

Lena’s breath caught in her throat. She wanted to be reasonable; wanted to explain that she couldn’t control these type of situations. That she couldn’t in good conscience promise that she would choose her own life over the well-being of the entire city in a similar scenario. But the words just wouldn’t come out. The logical side of her brain was once again being silenced. It was silenced by the emotions that only Kara seemed to be able to pull out of her. It was silenced, because apparently four months of therapy were less effective than Kara standing this close and looking at her this intently. Because the effect that Kara seemed to have on her was a puzzle even more complicated than that stupid Daxam Drive. Because as it turns out… Lena would do anything for Kara.

Even stay alive.

 

“I promise.”

 

 


 

 

 

The skies of National City were clear tonight.

Thanks to Supergirl they were also void of crashing planes, but the Kryptonian herself was also not present in the city’s airspace right now. Instead, she was pacing behind her sister’s couch, worrying at her lip as she really wanted to go home and finally take off her Supersuit and get some sleep. After confronting Lena just now, and making her promise that she wouldn’t be so reckless anymore, she felt slightly better. But only slightly, because the sight of Lena looking up at her and telling her to let her go was something she still struggled to get out of her mind. She hoped she wouldn’t start having those nightmares again. I mean, their replacement was definitely better… No, wait, that was a weird thing to think. I mean, obviously it was a lot better than watching Lena die, but they were still weird. And it would probably be best if those dreams stopped too. You know… eventually…

Kara shook her head, as she briefly refocused her eyes on the door of Alex’s apartment, then continued to pace behind the couch. She’d expected to just fly through the window, assure Alex that she was really alright and take off again, but her sister wasn’t home and now she wasn’t sure what to do. She was just debating whether she should just let Alex be worried until tomorrow morning (she was really tired, okay!), but just as that thought popped into her head she heard a key turning in the lock. Kara sighed with relief as she turned towards the door.

“Finally! I’ve been…” she fell silent as an indiscernible entanglement of limbs made its way through the door. Kara turned red as she realised that the blob of humanity was actually Alex and Maggie with their faces glued together at the lips, while their hands feverishly went over the other’s body, apparently unaware of the Superhero standing in their living room. A stray foot appeared to kick the door closed, although she was pretty sure that was by accident. Kara was pulled out of her shock when jackets were starting to get ripped off, while somehow never pulling their faces apart.

“Um… guys?” Kara questioned. There was an inelegant slurping sound, as Alex and Maggie finally unlocked their lips and noticed Kara standing there. Maggie slowly lowered Alex’s shirt, which she’d been in the middle of taking off of her.

“Hey… Kara,” Alex said breathlessly. “You’re here.”

“Yeah…” Kara just blinked at her sister, while nobody moved for a few seconds. “Are you two… okay now, or…”

“We’re fine,” Maggie offered, sounding equally breathless.

“We’re great,” Alex agreed.

“More than great.”

“The wedding’s back on.”

“Alex doesn’t hate me.”

“Maggie isn’t cheating on me.”

“I still can’t believe you thought that.”

“I’m so sorry.”

The two promptly reconnected their lips, and Kara just nervously cleared her throat. “Okay, I guess I’ll just…” she sheepishly headed for the window, but Maggie called after her.

“Wait…” Kara turned around, and the detective seemed nervous as she darted her eyes between the two sisters. “There’s actually, um… something I need to ask you…” she briefly tucked Alex’s hair behind her ear, before looking at Kara, “…and it kind of concerns you too, little Danvers.” Kara gave a small frown as she stepped closer to the two women who were still holding on to each other. Both Danvers sisters’ eyes widened however, when Maggie suddenly got on her knees.

“Maggie, what-”

The detective silenced her fiancée by holding up her hand, and she swallowed as she looked up at her. “Don’t interrupt me on this one, Danvers, otherwise I’m gonna lose my train of thought.” She took a deep breath as she looked into Alex’s eyes, all the while holding her hands, before starting to speak. “So… you know that my relationship with my parents was… complicated to say the least. After they kicked me out I was never sure where I belonged, and… my aunt did the best she could, obviously, but it was never the same, you know? I haven’t felt like I belonged somewhere in a long time. At least until I met you.” She smiled nervously, before forcing herself to continue. “Family has always been complicated for me, but you always make it seem so easy.” She huffed out a breath as she shook her head. “And I know I’m probably making a bigger deal out of this than I should, but it means a lot to me, so… if you would do me this one favour… and if it’s alright with Kara, of course, would you… would you let me take your last name?”

There was a brief pause as nobody moved, or breathed, but then Alex was suddenly also on her knees in front of the other woman. “Of course you can!” The older Danvers sister hugged Maggie close as the detective let out a shaky breath and threw a glance at Kara who was still observing the scene in mild shock.

“I mean, if… if Kara doesn’t mind, of course…”

“Kara doesn’t mind!” Alex interjected, before the Superhero could even open her mouth. Alex pulled Maggie to her feet, never letting go of her hands, as she gave her sister an intent look. “Right?!” she urged.

“Oh!” Kara shook her head, as she was pulled out of her surprised state. “Yes… I mean no! No, obviously I don’t mind, don’t be silly.” She laughed as she stepped closer to the two women. “This calls for a group hug!!”

“This is actually more of a private… yeah, okay.” Alex gave up on protesting, as Kara had already wrapped the both of them in a very firm hug. Maggie just snickered in amusement, as Alex fondly rolled her eyes.

“But seriously, wat happened?!” Kara suddenly stepped back, darting her eyes between the two of them. “This morning you were about to break up!”

“Yeah, Alex,” the detective gave her fiancée a dimpled grin, ready to rub this one in. “What happened?”

Alex huffed out an annoyed breath as she crossed her arms. “Someone… might have made me see I was being an idiot.”

“And that someone was…” Maggie kept giving Alex that shit-eating grin, as the other woman rolled her eyes.

“Lena Luthor,” Alex mumbled.

“Mhm,” Maggie gave a self-satisfied nod. “That’s right. So now you don’t get to complain about her being my best woman.”

Alex raised her eyebrows. “Best woman? Is that even a thing?”

“It is now.”

“Yeah…” the two fiancées were surprised by the deep sigh beside them and as they looked over, they saw Kara looking unfocused into the distance, “…Lena’s amazing, isn’t she?” Alex frowned very deeply at the woman while Maggie’s shit-eating grin was slowly returning, looking at Kara with an incredulous glint in her eyes. “I’m gonna go get her some plumerias,” Kara suddenly proclaimed.

Alex’s look turned a very different kind of incredulous. “Weren’t you tired?”

“Pfft, it’s just Mexico. It’s on the same continent. Besides, when you save a wedding you deserve flowers.”

“But-” Alex fell silent as her sister suddenly flew out the window, leaving her frowning very deeply at this curious behaviour. She was brought out of her stupor, when she felt Maggie trying very hard to control her laughter. “What was that about?” she asked, as she watched the detective let out a series of muffled snorts.

“Oh… nothing…” Maggie shook her head, as she was clearly having trouble keeping a straight face. “I guess… that’s what friends are for, right?” She promptly reverted to her loud snorting, clearly unable to control her amusement.

“Okay, seriously, what is-”

“Not tonight.” Maggie put a finger on Alex’s lips. “If I’m right about this, you’re gonna figure it out at some point anyway. But not tonight.” Alex was ready to protest, but then Maggie was kissing her again and all other thoughts were driven from her mind.

And maybe, if she woke up late for work the next morning, and realised that she and Maggie were still going to be spending the rest of their lives together, then maybe she could let it rest. Maybe she was overblowing things and everything was going to be fine. Maybe that woman’s presence wasn’t completely terrible. Maybe, since Maggie and Kara were so sure, she could let the Lena Luthor situation just be.

At least for now.

 

 



 

 

 

A bright light illuminated the rich cornfield, the tips of the plants grazing beneath her fingers. The sunlight pleasantly caressed her face, as a hand caressed her arm. Kara turned around into a familiar embrace, kissing soft lips, their white garments pressing together. Kara frowned as she pulled away, because the taste of strawberries had invaded her mouth.

“You can take my hand, Kara…”

Kara’s eyes shot wide open at the familiar voice coming from the person in her arms.

“…and you can take my whole life too if you want to, because…”

Kara tried to utter words, but she was too stunned by the shimmering emerald eyes staring into her own, as Lena just gave her that sad smile of hers.

“…I just can’t help falling in love with you.”

Kara opened and closed her mouth without actually forming any sound before Lena Luthor, still smiling sadly, still looking gorgeous in her plain white dress and still holding her ever so close, suddenly leaned back in and pressed their lips together again.

 

“Lena…”

Kara gasped loudly as she shot up in a seated position. She blinked in confusion, her eyes adjusting to the darkness, and she noticed her room, the flower-printed curtains, the alarm clock that told her it was 2:46 AM and the comforter that was completely tangled in on itself. She kicked it off the bed as she suddenly felt very warm, and she groaned loudly as she hung her head.

This was absolutely ridiculous. Obviously she was grateful that she didn’t have to endure the sight of those nightmares anymore where her mother and Mon-el seemed to be safe and unharmed, and where Lena died. But this was still ridiculous. She sighed as she got out of bed and headed for the kitchen for a glass of water, because that new dream that had replaced her previous nightmare since a few weeks now always left her parched for some reason. She shook her head as she paused halfway, toying with her silver necklace and its pendant that was around her neck, while she turned red upon thinking back at the visions she just woke up from. She returned to groaning in embarrassment as she stepped towards the kitchen once more. All the while softly cursing the one person who’d put these weird thoughts in her head, and who was obviously to blame for all this.

 

“Damn you, Jess!!”

  

Chapter Text

 

March 20th 2007

 

“Oh, wow. Who made a cheesecake in the shape of a person?”

Lena looked up as she took her seat, seeing Veronica Sinclair’s condescension seeping through her arrogant eyes. The small Luthor’s nostrils flared and she emphatically unwrapped her sandwich, making it clear that she wasn’t going anywhere, as the other girls at the large table snickered while looking at the glaring contest happening before them.

“If I’m a cheesecake, doesn’t that make you the one who can’t beat a dairy product to graduation?” Lena retorted, and Veronica scowled at her while the rest of the table kept looking on.

Lena wasn’t sure when it had started, but by now it was almost routine: Veronica would make some snide remark about no one wanting her there, Lena would retort something about her being nowhere near as smart as her, usually pointing out that she would graduate sooner than the older girl, and the rest of the lunch inside Whittaker’s Boarding School for Young Ladies would proceed with an air that was thick with tension and with hateful glares being sent between the two girls who couldn’t stand each other.

Lena knew that it wouldn’t take much to make this part of her life a lot easier if she just sat at another table during lunch. But she couldn’t help it. She reasoned that it would be like giving up, like admitting defeat to the arrogant upperclassman.

Wait… upperclasswoman? Upperclassgirl? Whatever, she’d look it up later.

But in all honesty, she knew that it wasn’t that. She knew that it was jealousy. And yes, Lena was very well aware that it wasn’t proper; could you imagine what her mother would think? Lena swallowed as she adjusted in her seat, careful not to touch the chair with her lower back. It was strange too, because Lena had never thought of herself as being shallow. But the problem was that as long as she didn’t open her mouth, Veronica was very pretty. You know, in that poised and dignified way that her mother was always on about. So yeah, Lena was jealous. That Veronica was all that, while she looked like a potato. A poorly peeled one, Lena though bitterly as she scooted her lower back a little closer to the chair.

So yeah, clearly that was why she kept coming back to the big table where the girl who was as poised and dignified as she was condescending and mean always sat. Clearly that was why she kept staring at her, with a false look of superiority in her eyes. It was unfair, Lena kept thinking. That cruel people were allowed to look like that.

Lena shivered as she watched Veronica’s tongue dart out to lick some jam of her lips.

Tomorrow, she thought to herself. Tomorrow she would definitely sit at an other table.

Probably…

 

 


 

 

November 4th 2017

 

The SunView Hotel was host to a wedding reception this weekend.

The establishment’s name was also slightly ironic on this particular Saturday, as it hadn’t stopped raining all morning. The majority of the guests had already arrived, ready for tonight’s rehearsal dinner and the actual wedding the next day. Most of them had been surprised by the last minute change of location but, by request, they had not been told that the upgrade was thanks to a generous contribution to wedding expenses on behalf of a very wealthy CEO. The mentioned benefactor was currently in her assigned hotel room; one she had to share with her best friend. A fact of which a grin-wearing, eyebrow-wiggling bride had been more than happy to tell her about. But seeing as Kara was momentarily still helping Alex and Maggie with some details, the youngest Luthor was currently the only living person in their room, which was right next to the one of the brides. She was also cursing under her breath while aggressively wiping at her scribble-filled notebook, on which she’d somehow managed to spill her coffee.

“Shit!” Lena hissed through her teeth as she picked up the sticky notebook and waved it through the air, noticing she’d involuntarily cancelled out half her index list. Brilliant.

“Shh, I’m trying to concentrate!”

Lena sent an annoyed look to her left, where Mesut was facing the window with his eyes closed, his fists clenched, and a deep frown on his face. The man had been attempting to learn how to teleport like Lionel and Sam had been able to do, but Lena was starting to think that maybe there was some sort of trick to it that they didn’t know about, because he was still having no success. After two whole weeks, no less. And speaking of having no success, she was also feeling like she herself was having less and less success in deciphering any sort of consistency within the ghost realm. Because while having Mesut on her side was highly convenient, it also was incredibly frustrating that he had broken the pattern of all ghosts having an objective. And it’s not like she hadn’t tried to probe for information on any subconscious reasons for him to be here. In fact she’d learned a lot about him: Born in Chicago and raised in National City, Turkish mother, Egyptian father, very large family, none of whom were apparently in need of ghostly guidance, and he apparently didn’t mind being a ghost. Like, at all. Apparently the fact that he could now walk into any movie theatre without having to worry about expenses, was enough to make his afterlife an enjoyable experience.

Go figure.

After giving him a third degree interrogation to find out any possible objective he might have, he had also sheepishly confessed that he only went to see romantic comedies and that, quote: ‘Sometimes when they’re really good… I cry.’ Due to some ill-timed remarks, however, Lena had discovered that there were also other places he was happy to walk into. And after giving him a very angry and very lengthy lecture, in which she may or may not have threatened to have his grandmother deported, the man had finally promised to no longer invade any woman’s privacy. Of course there was no real way for Lena to actually control that…

“We’re back!”

Lena practically lunged towards her bag, stuffing her still sticky ghost-notebook in it, before pivoting on the spot and trying to look casual as Kara and Maggie made their way into the spacious suite.

“Look! We finally have our dresses!” Kara darted closer, clearly full of excitement, as she slipped the covers of their clothing for tomorrow. Lena pursed her lips as she watched Kara hold up the two dresses.

“Seriously?” Lena arched an eyebrow towards Maggie who strutted closer, feigning innocence. “You’re making us wear pink?”

“What? You don’t like it?” Maggie was trying (and failing) to appear serious, as the corners of her mouth twitched up mischievously.

“Oh, you know, I only told you about a hundred times: I’ll wear anything you want, just don’t make it pink!”

Maggie gave her a shrug, a shit-eating grin firmly in place. “Must’ve slipped my mind.”

“Well, I love it!” Kara exclaimed, and Lena fondly smiled at her, because of course she did. As she turned her head back to Maggie’s sly grin, she could feel a jibe about her forlorn look directed at Kara coming, so she went for a pre-emptive strike.

“Well, I suppose it could be worse,” she drawled, giving Maggie an amused look. “We could be wearing a suit…”

“It’s a uniform!!” Maggie exclaimed, and Lena grinned at her success at getting under the woman’s skin. “A ceremonial police uniform!!” She huffed out a breath as she shook her head at the smirking Luthor. “And the brides make the rules anyway, so you should be happy that I don’t make you go naked, or make you wear some unflattering dress to make you look ugly or something.”

“Okay, okay,” Kara came between the two before more jabs could be exchanged. “There’s nothing wrong with pink and your uniform looks great,” she offered, as she gave Maggie an encouraging smile. “Oh! And Lena can’t look ugly in anything, cause you know, she’s beautiful.”

Maggie had already turned halfway towards the door, but now she suddenly ducked her head, as she valiantly attempted to not burst out laughing. “Yeah… uh-huh…” she cleared her throat, trying to keep it together, “I gotta go… see if they’ll fix the heat in our room… I’ll see you two at the rehearsal.” She quickly made a beeline for the door, while shaking her head in amusement.

“Yep! See you downstairs!” The door closed behind the detective and Kara let out a content sigh as she turned back around. “Okay, we should probably try these on, right? See if they’re… Lena?” The alien woman’s crinkle appeared on her forehead, as she watched the young CEO give her a curious look.

Lena was trying very hard to control herself. She was trying very hard to ignore the sudden warmth on her cheeks and her racing heart. She was trying very hard to not blurt out anything stupid. But somehow, Kara always made it so unbelievably difficult.

Don’t say it. Don’t open your mouth.

“You…”

Don’t you dare!

“You think I’m beautiful?”

Lena instantly cringed at the juvenile question, but controlling her emotions around Kara apparently had an inverse learning curve, as it only seemed to get harder over time. The alien woman, for her part, just blinked in confusion.

“Wha- of course I do. I mean, anyone would, just… well, Rao, look at you.” Kara laughed nervously while gesturing at her, and Lena could almost feel herself start to sweat. Which was very strange, because she was pretty sure that no one had touched their thermostat. “Surely you get that all the time?”

“Not- not lately…”

Kara instantly scoffed at that. “Pfft, well some people are obviously in need of glasses. You know,” she sheepishly adjusted her own pair, “ones that actually work.”

Lena was sure that there was a witty retort just waiting to be made there, but she was too distracted by the warm, glowing feeling in her chest and her stomach's sudden inclination for acrobatics. They both stood there for a second and Lena was vaguely aware that it wasn't normal to keep staring into each other's eyes like this. But Kara wasn't moving either, and she was probably imagining things now, because she could've sworn the woman's eyes had started darting to and from her lips, but there was no way that-

Lena inhaled sharply and quickly stepped past Kara when she noticed an emergency happening behind her. “Shit!” She was just in time to snatch their pink dresses from the couch before the spilled coffee on the table started dripping onto them. She turned back around towards Kara, as three people simultaneously breathed out in relief.  

“Oh, thank god…”

“Oh, thank Rao…”

“Oh, thank Allah…”

Lena managed not to snort at the triple exclamation, while Kara stepped closer. “Wow, that was close,” the blonde woman huffed. “Why is there coffee everywhere?”

“I spilled some,” Lena responded. “Oh, don't give me that look, Supergirl,” she arched an eyebrow at Kara's amused expression, “I just proved I have better reflexes than you.”

“Ha, ha, very funny.” Kara took her dress out of Lena's hands. “I'm gonna go see if this fits.” 
Just like that, Kara turned around and headed into their bathroom. Lena swallowed as she put her dress at a safe distant from the coffee, wondering how she was going to survive the weekend, before she noticed Mesut frowning at the bathroom door. 

“Huh… that’s weird,” he said.

“What is?”

“Well, you know that I’m sort of an expert in romantic comedies… and that’s usually the part where the girl gets asked out.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Lena grumbled. “Shouldn’t you be following Maggie?” she asked annoyed.

“Oh come on, it’s a wedding! What could possibly happen?! Don’t I get a break from the constant shadowing just this once?”

“Don’t ask me. I don’t know how strict Roulette is… is about…” Lena froze as she realised something. “Mesut!” The man took a step back at the woman’s sudden aggressive tone. “You don’t watch them… Alex and Maggie… do p- p- private stuff, do you?!”

“Whoa, whoa, calm down.” He held up his hands defensively. “I don’t. Big J already gave me a lecture on that.”

Lena frowned in confusion. “Who?”

“Oh, he’s a ghost too. We actually-”

“Lena, have you seen my earrings?”

Lena turned around, seeing Kara step back into the room with an inquisitive look and it took her mind a few seconds to process the image in front of her. Kara Danvers was standing there, looking at her. Tilting her head slightly like a curious puppy. Her bright blue eyes as beautiful and friendly as always.

She was also in her underwear.

Lena opened and closed her mouth several times, actively refraining from scanning her friend from top to bottom. (Your friend!! Your friend, Lena!!) Instead, she tried to ignore the fact that she was definitely sweating now and pretended she didn’t know what the sudden heat concentrating below her stomach meant. “Have… have you checked the dresser?” she asked weakly, pointing at the piece of furniture in the corner.

“Oh, I didn’t!”

Kara went over and started searching the drawers, while Lena was trying to control her breathing. This was ridiculous. There was no reason for this to suddenly happen. She’d shared a room with two girls in boarding school, for crying out loud! There was no reason that now all of a sudden she would-  Sweet baby Jesus, why is she bending down?!!

Lena made a tiny strangled sound as she snapped her head to the side to avoid the lace-covered behind that was blatantly on display at the moment. And yeah, she was not a pre-teen anymore, so she couldn’t pretend that she was ignorant to what was happening to herself right now. But it was still embarrassing, inappropriate, it made no sense and it would be really nice if it could stop right about now!

“Ugh… they’re not here.” Kara sighed loudly and she stepped back towards the bathroom and thus back into Lena’s view. Brilliant. “Lena? Everything okay?” Kara had paused her movements and was giving her a concerned expression. Lena made an affirmative sound, or at least she tried to, but it sounded very forced. And excessively high-pitched. “All right then,” Kara drawled, giving her a curious smile before awkwardly backing into the bathroom again. As soon as the door closed, Lena let out a shaky breath. She’d thought that after the events of this past year, she’d already experienced all the degrees of embarrassment available to humanity. Well, apparently she was wrong. Lena blinked in surprise at the sound of a low chuckle, and as she looked to the side she saw Mesut grinning towards the bathroom door.

“Mesut!! What did we say about ogling women?!”

“Oh, come on, like you weren’t looking.”

“I- w- wa- wa- was not!!” Lena stammered. She aggressively snatched her dress while marching towards the bedroom, very well aware of the burning sensation on her cheeks. As she stepped inside the room and opened the door of the closet, she had her suspicions confirmed by the mirror on the inside of the door. Her cheeks were about as pink as her dress.

“So are we still supposed to have this big ghost meeting?”

Lena flinched in surprise as she noticed that Mesut had apparently followed her inside. “Yes,” she hissed, perhaps a little harsher than necessary. “So just wait downstairs, I still have to change.” The man made a face at her tone, but raised his hands in defeat as he headed for the closed door. “And if you try spying on Kara-”

“I know, I know, you’ll deport my grandma. Geez…” the man shook his head before walking straight through the closed bedroom door.

Lena huffed out a breath before starting to unbutton her shirt in order to put on her dress. But she had to pause halfway through, as her mind appeared to have no interest in letting go of the image where Kara was standing half naked in front of her. Lena breathed deeply a few times, in and then out, because she was trying not to be a hypocrite. She sent herself a warning glare in the mirror on the door of the closet. She was trying very hard not to think about her friend (your friend, Lena!!) in her underwear. But she had to admit; the thought of being able to walk straight through that wall and into the bathroom without being seen by Kara, was very- okay, yeah, that’s enough!!

Lena aggressively shook her head as she stepped out of her skirt and started pulling her dress up. She was vaguely aware that it felt somewhat tight, but she was more focused on trying to decipher the latest flaw in logic and reason that Kara had created. She’d seen girls in their underwear before. She’d shared a crammed living space with them in boarding school, but these… feelings? Yeah, that’s the least graphic term, let’s go with feelings. Right, so these feelings were definitely new. I mean, not brand new obviously, but them manifesting as a result of seeing a female person in her underwear, yeah that was new.

Lena pulled the straps of the flattering but entirely too pink dress over her shoulders as she looked at herself in the narrow mirror. She tugged at her zipper with annoyance as it appeared to be stuck, while she kept thinking that it just didn’t make any sense. I mean, sure, if she went with Maggie’s theory of her being… being… -seriously, Lena, just say it!- ...bisexual… and combine that with the fact that her feelings for her best friend were most certainly romantic in nature, then there would be some semblance of logic. But if her being… being… bisexual… -seriously, just thinking the word was hard- …was the case, then surely she should’ve felt something like this before? Surely there had to be some kind of precedent to support-

“I found them!”

Lena pivoted on the spot, to see the object of her thoughts (and feelings) proudly holding up her earrings, now thankfully wearing her dress.

“Turns out I never took them out of my bag.” Kara chuckled self-consciously as she started clipping them on (apparently there were downsides to having impervious skin), while Lena cursed her own cheeks for their insistence on matching the colour of her dress. She chuckled along with Kara, as she tried to subtly keep tugging at her stupid zipper, which still wouldn’t be moved. “These are seriously the kind of things that Alex would never let go when we were kids. She still doesn’t, but at least the teasing is less mean nowadays.” Kara smiled at her, but it quickly turned to a small frown. “You need some help with that?”

“No, no!” Lena responded a little too fast. “I can handle it.” She tried to smile reassuringly as she kept aggressively yanking on that stupid zipper, which was being teenage-Alex-Danvers levels of mean right now.

“Are you sure? Not to brag, but I’m pretty strong you know?”

Lena conjured up a teasing smile. “Oh, I know. And I think Alex’s teasing will revert to being mean if you rip the dress of her fiancée’s best woman by being heavy-handed.” She arched an eyebrow at the blonde woman, who huffed out in offence.

“Pfft… heavy-handed? When have I ever…” Kara suddenly fell quiet as her expression appeared to turn serious. “Lena…” her frown grew deeper, “…what’s on your back?”

Lena’s blood froze in her veins. She looked over her shoulder, realising her back was visible through that narrow mirror on the inside of the closet. Shit! She hurriedly reached behind her, slamming the door shut and pressing her back against it. “It’s nothing,” Lena stated firmly, as she tried to resume the war with her zipper despite her trembling fingers. She steadily tried to avoid eye contact with Kara, who only looked more concerned as she stepped closer.

“It didn’t look like nothing. Did you fall down, or-”

“No.” Lena reiterated, struggling to control her voice while pondering plans to acquire every major clothing store in town and subject all their zippers to rigorous inspections. “Look, if you’re ready, just wait for me downstairs, okay?”

“But Lena, you definitely have something on-”

“I said it’s nothing!!” Lena snapped. She watched Kara flinch, as the woman retracted her hand which she’d been stretching out towards her. Of course, the damned zipper picked that exact moment to start collaborating and Lena quickly pulled it all the way up, adjusted the straps, and walked out of the bedroom while avoiding Kara’s eyes. She heard the woman call after her, but she kept her head down as she marched through the suite and straight out of the expensive hotel room.

All the while cursing her rotten luck.

 

 


 

 

“I hereby declare this ghost meeting officially opened! OUCH!”

Winn rubbed the back of his head, while sending an offended look towards Maggie.

“Keep it down, would you?” the detective admonished, not looking all that sorry about smacking him.

They were all gathered at a small table in the corner of the hotel ballroom where the rehearsal dinner was about to start. ‘They’, being everyone who knew about Lena’s ability plus Mesut. (Names that Winn had already suggested for their group included: The Ghostbuskers, The Spirit Squad and Team Lena.) And while they were pretty secluded from the few people that had already started digging in to the buffet on the other side of the room, Maggie was probably right that they should be cautious. They were all wearing jackets over their formal clothing, because apparently the problem with the heating wasn’t just restricted to Maggie and Alex’s room. But since Lena had practically ran out of her bedroom and made a beeline for the ground floor, she was now left to deal with goose bumps on her upper arms, while trying to pay attention to the conversation. Not that she was succeeding…

“So is, um… is Jess coming to the wedding?” James asked, looking at Lena’s distracted profile.

“Nah,” Winn responded for her, “apparently she and Lena couldn’t both leave L-Corp unattended.” He suddenly blinked, as he frowned at his friend. “Why do you ask?”

“Um… no reason.” James cleared his throat and quickly changed the subject. “So do we have a strategy for Roulette, or not?”

“Well… sort of,” Winn offered, not sounding too convinced.

“The plan is basically to get dirt on her,” Maggie explained. “Or anything else that might give Lena some leverage. Unfortunately that woman is hard to get information on. After dropping out of boarding school, it’s like she vanished from the face of the earth until resurfacing in National City last year.”

“But weren’t you tracking the people she was having followed?” James asked. “And trying to figure out why?”

“Yeah, but those seem like a dead end. And Luthor says that figuring out her objective is a moot point anyway if she refuses to be reasoned with.” They all looked at Lena for a moment, who still wasn’t really paying attention, instead gazing listlessly at the guests on the other side of the room and still being distracted by the earlier events upstairs. “One of our theories is that she might be trying to figure out who blew up her building,” Maggie continued, “which would explain why she’s having me followed, since I’m leading that investigation. But since the other three stalking victims don’t seem to be involved in shady business, it doesn’t really add up. And even in my case, it’s just an educated guess… right, Mesut?” Maggie looked in the general direction the man was supposed to be, while the ghost nodded in response.

“Yes, yes. Like I said, she wants to know absolutely everything, so I don’t know which part is important to her.” No one could actually hear him, which is why the four of them looked at Lena expectantly, but she still appeared to be elsewhere with her thoughts.

“Luthor!”

“Huh?” Lena jolted in surprise, noticing their expectant faces. “Oh, he… he basically said yes.”

Mesut sputtered in protest at the rudimentary translation, while Maggie looked aggravated at Lena’s lack of interest and Winn just seemed concerned. James, however, turned to Maggie again. “I’m sorry, but… when you get ‘dirt’ on her, as you say, what exactly are you planning to do with it?” James let his eyes go over Winn and Maggie who both looked rather uncomfortable.

“Well…” Winn started hesitantly, “…basically… blackmailing her into backing off.”

James frowned at him. “And you think that would actually work?”

“According to Lena’s best case scenario… yes.”

James’s frown only grew deeper. “The best case scenario being what, exactly?”

Maggie groaned, apparently tired of dancing around the issue. “Basically we’re trying to find a family member or someone else she cares about that’s still alive, so we can threaten to… harm them.”

There was a pause as James let his eyes go over the three people he could see. “You… you can’t be serious.” He kept looking around, but nobody spoke up. “Are we really stooping to that level?!” he exclaimed. “I mean, I know that this situation is dangerous, but going around and threatening to- to kill people is just way too extreme to be even considered-”

“Too extreme?” Everyone looked at Lena, who had apparently snapped out of her catatonic state and was levelling James with a cold glare, before speaking up again with ice in her voice. “If you’d had John Corben shouting in your ear for three days straight, then trust me, you’d be resorting to extreme measures as well to try and prevent it from ever happening again.”

James deflated slightly, although he seemed far from convinced by the whole idea. He took a moment to look at Lena’s unmoving stare, before sighing deeply. “Well, I definitely don’t agree with this,” he started carefully, “but if you need help with finding that one girl… Meryl Evans, was it?” He looked to the side, where Winn nodded in confirmation. “I could put a reporter on it. It wouldn’t be the first time that CatCo covers this kind of story, so it wouldn’t be suspicious.”

“You think a reporter will have more luck than the police?” Maggie asked sceptically.

“You’d be surprised… not everyone sees cops as people they can trust.”

Maggie scoffed at his darkened expression. “What, you have a problem with cops now?” she asked with the slightest hint of offence in her voice.

James looked away, a bitterness enveloping his face. “Let’s just say I didn’t have the best of experiences…” Maggie frowned at him, but before she could question any further, the man suddenly got up. “I’m gonna go get some food.” He headed for the other side of the room, while Maggie shook her head at his retreating figure.

“What was that about?” she grumbled.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” Winn responded, which earned him a confused frown from Maggie. “But back to serious matters,” he leaned on his elbows as he gave the detective an inquisitive look, “what are you going to call Kara, now that you’re gonna be the ‘little Danvers’ of the family?”

Maggie cackled out a laugh at that, which made Lena blink in surprise since she still wasn’t really paying attention. “Oh, no, no,” she laughed, “Kara is still little Danvers. But Alex is going to graduate to Mrs. Danvers and since I’m the oldest, I guess I’ll be Big Danvers.”

“You’re 5 foot 3,” Winn remarked.

“And I can still kick your ass.”

“Big Danvers it is!”

Maggie hummed in satisfaction, before turning back towards Lena. “Okay, seriously Luthor, you gotta tell me what’s up. You’re not gonna keep wearing that sour face until tomorrow, are you? Because that’s gonna make for some terrible pictures.”

“Nothing… nothing’s up…”

“Bullshit.” Maggie tilted her head in that annoying and knowing fashion. “So going by experience, the only one to ever reduce you in this state is little Danvers. What is it? More setbacks in your quest to get the girl?” Winn snickered at that, but Lena really didn’t appreciate the woman having a laugh at her expense.

“You know she’s straight, Maggie,” she sighed.

“That’s what Alex thought too, and look at her now. She made some serious progress.”

This time both Winn and Mesut laughed out loud at the statement, but Lena didn’t find it funny. She swallowed, wishing that her hopeless pining was still her biggest problem right now. But it wasn’t. Because Kara had seen something she wasn’t supposed to, and now she didn’t know what to do. She was once again caught between hiding the truth and bringing up something she’d rather keep buried in the depths of her subconscious. Beside her, she noticed Winn and Maggie having a silent conversation, apparently arguing who had to try and get the youngest Luthor to tell them what was wrong, but as she turned her head away again she saw an opportunity to change the subject.

“Maggie…” Lena breathed out, having caught sight of a familiar face amongst the crowd of people getting food, “…do you know that man? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before.”

“Huh?” Maggie looked at the other side of the room. “Which one?”

“The one to the side, square jaw, grey sweater. I saw him at the DEO that one time.”

Maggie squinted her eyes to see who Lena was talking about, but to her surprise it was Mesut who suddenly spoke up. “Oh, that’s Big J!” he piped up. “Hold up, this is perfect, he keeps telling me I’m full of shit when I say that someone can see me. Hey!! Big J!! Over here!!” Lena’s eyes widened as she realised she was about to get roped into a ghostly mission in the middle of the rehearsal dinner.

“No! Mesut, stop!” It was too late, as the ghostly man in the grey sweater started walking closer and Lena pinched her nose as she let out an annoyed groan.

“What is it, Mesut?” the man asked, sounding almost as annoyed as Lena felt.

“So you know how I keep telling you that I’m talking to this lady that’s alive?”

“Yes.”

“And you know how you keep saying that’s not possible?”

“Yes.”

Mesut gave a smug grin as he jumped to his feet and gestured dramatically towards Lena. “Tada!! Miss Lena, this is Big J. Big J, Miss Lena.” He grinned at the both of them after the introduction and Lena contemplated ignoring them for a second, but since she’d resolved not to do that anymore, she gave a long sigh and looked the man over.

“Nice to meet you,” she stated coolly. The man in the grey sweater seemed to freeze as he opened and closed his mouth, seemingly too shocked to speak. And Lena took the opportunity to momentarily turn back to Maggie and Winn, who were looking from Lena to the empty space and back again as if they were following a tennis match. “Mesut just forced me into another ghost case,” she said dryly. In response she got a pair of ‘ooooooh’s, as the conversation suddenly made sense to them.

“You- you… you’re real… you can see me…”

Beside him, Mesut was looking entirely too satisfied. “Told you,” he said smugly.

“Look, sir,” Lena begrudgingly started, “I will try and help you with whatever you need, but is there any chance you could wait until Monday? My friend is getting married and I-”

“No!” The man suddenly seemed to shake off his shock, his expression filling with a sense of urgency. “I can’t wait! She has to know! She has to know I’m here!”

Lena sighed, because apparently attending Maggie’s wedding in peace was too much to ask. “Who needs to know?”

“Alex!”

Lena’s thoughts halted any and all activity for a second. She just stared at the man in his grey sweater, as she could feel her insides start to twist and turn unpleasantly. She swallowed, looking from the man’s urgent expression to her friends and back again, as she started to realise what this could mean. What it most certainly had to mean. “No…” she shook her head, trying to force the situation away through sheer will-power. She stumbled out of her chair and backed away, causing her friends to jump to their feet with concern in their eyes. “No…” Lena repeated, still shaking her head. “You… you can’t be…”

“I am.” The man gave her an intense look and Lena swallowed nervously. “I’m Jeremiah Danvers.”

  

 


 

 

“Luthor, I know you’re in there!!”

The sound of Maggie’s fist colliding repeatedly with the other side of the door was very loud, but Lena stubbornly ignored it. She covered her ears like a child, staring intently at a corner of the small bathroom stall as if the rest of the world would disappear like that.

“Ms. Luthor, please, I need Alex to know I’m here!”

Lena breathed out of her nose in her frustration, as her hands were unable to block out Jeremiah’s pleading voice.

“Luthor, stop being selfish and get your ass out of there!!”

“Selfish?!” The bathroom stall’s door swung away, narrowly missing Maggie, as Lena had instinctively jumped up and pushed it open. “Limiting the amount of people that know my secret is perfectly reasonable!!” Lena hissed out, angrily darting her eyes between the detective and the ghost in front of her. “And if you want to talk about being selfish, we can start with you!!” She pointed an accusing finger at Jeremiah. “This is your daughter’s wedding day!! And you want to ruin it by telling her that you’re dead right this instant?!”

“Alex would want me at her wedding!” Jeremiah protested. “She’d want to know-”

“Cut the crap, Luthor.” Maggie’s voice was calmer but still bordered on angry, as Lena gave her a frown. “We both know why you don’t want to tell Alex, and it has nothing to do with how she will feel.”

Lena felt herself falter, as Maggie’s intuitive abilities were very inconvenient at times like these. But she just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t tell Alex her father was dead. Because he wasn’t just her father. Adopted or not, the man had another daughter and Lena was not ready for that, not by a long shot. Maybe she would never be. She just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t tell Kara…

“It’s my secret,” she said, trying to sound stern, but her voice betrayed her. “And you two trying to bully me into telling someone who hates me is just wrong.”

“Alex doesn’t hate-”

“Just leave me alone.” She pushed past the detective as she stepped straight through the ghost of Jeremiah Danvers and headed anywhere that wasn’t near those two.

Her heart was pounding in her chest as she hugged herself; the goose bumps on her arms no longer just the result of the cold temperature caused by the hotel’s faulty heating. She wandered through the empty hallways of the quiet hotel and found an unlocked storage room. And as undignified as it may be, she stepped inside and closed the door behind her before sinking to the floor, feeling increasingly terrible about everything. About the amount of secrets she was starting to keep from Kara. About not wanting to tell Alex. About potentially ruining this wedding if she did tell Alex. She was still staring ahead at a mop sticking out of its bucket, silently cataloguing all the things that made her a bad person, when she realised that Mesut must have seen her step inside. Because the ghostly man suddenly stepped through the wall and looked her over with concern.

“Miss Lena?” he said, sounding uncertain. “You okay?”

Lena just shook her head without actually looking at him. “You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could you?!” she bit back while still shaking her head. “Do you always go around spouting other people’s secrets to the whole world?!”

“Okay, I… I really think you’re overreacting-”

“Overreacting?!” Lena snapped her head up to try and glare a hole through the ghostly man. “There’s no way out of this anymore, Mesut!! I can’t ignore Jeremiah forever, and there’s no way Alex will keep a secret like that from Kara!! Our whole friendship is screwed!! It’s all going to hell and it’s all your fault!!” Lena realised that her poise and her dignity were nowhere to be found right now, but she didn’t really care anymore. Because the pressing weight on her heart was starting to get unbearable.

“I- I don’t understand…” Mesut stammered defensively, “I thought she was your best friend, why is it such a big deal if she knows-”

“There!!” Lena exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at the man. “That right there!! That’s exactly the problem with people knowing about me!! ‘Oh, why don’t you tell so and so, she’s a good person,’ or ‘Oh, why don’t you tell my aunt’s second cousin twice removed, she’s nice,’ or ‘Oh, why don’t you visit my very good acquaintance whose friend just died?’ And before you know it, I’ll be an accessory to be traded between grieving relatives and if I even try to put my foot down and put my own life first, even one of my best friends will call me selfish!!” Lena swallowed, as Maggie’s accusation was still ringing in the back of her mind. “So how about next time you see a ghost hanging around, you just keep your mouth shut about me?! Because quite frankly, deporting your grandmother is starting to look more and more appealing!” Lena huffed angrily as she averted her eyes.

“Yeah, no. This is not okay anymore.” Lena lifted her head, her expression turning incredulous as she saw Mesut giving her a defiant look. “You’re sitting here complaining about other people being able to control you, and then you turn around and try to control me by threatening my family. Not cool.”

Lena scoffed, because that had nothing to do with it. “You’re the one who-”

“And another thing; how is it you rich people think you can get away with anything?!” he pressed on, now clearly getting angry. “My grandma hasn’t done anything wrong, but somehow you think it’s okay to control her life! And why?! Just because you have more money?!”

“How did this become about money?!” Lena spit back, frowning deeply at the sudden turn of the argument towards her off-hand threat to keep the man in check. “I was talking about the power everyone has about me by knowing-”

“Exactly!” Mesut interrupted. “This is about power! You have the power to tell me wat to do, because you are rich enough to control my family! And you obviously don’t even get it!” He shook his head at her. “You acted all snobbish when I told you I was happy to be a ghost, just for being able to go and see any movie I feel like! As if that was completely stupid! But did it ever cross your mind that not everyone has the money to do whatever they want?! That doing something like walking into a movie theatre and picking anything to watch at will, might be completely new to me?!”

Lena’s frown only grew deeper, as she had clearly struck a nerve at some point. But despite starting to feel uneasy about her off-hand threat, she still tried to stand her ground. “Poor or not, that still doesn’t give you the right to spy on unsuspecting women,” she said slowly.

“But it gives you the right to threaten my family?!” Mesut insisted. They both stayed silent for a moment, before Mesut huffed out a breath, apparently deflating slightly as he put his hands in his pockets. “Look, I get it, alright? You don’t think people should have power over you, I get that. And I’m sorry for just telling Big J about you, I didn’t think that one through. I didn’t consider the whole power thing. But you obviously did. But somehow you still think it’s okay to have power over me.

“Mesut…”

“And fine, if it’s not about the money then what? Is it because I’m a ghost?”

“Mesut…”

“You think that being alive makes you better-”

“Mesut!” The man finally fell silent, allowing Lena to get a word in. “I’m sorry.”

The ghostly man seemed choke on his next sentence as he blinked in surprise. “Wha… really?”

“Yes. Really.” Lena let out a long sigh and rubbed her eyes. “I still don’t plan on letting you get away with being a pervert,” she gave the ghost a pointed look. “But you’re right about the principle,” she reluctantly agreed. “One evil doesn’t justify another.”

“Pfft… ‘evil’…” Mesut awkwardly stood there for a while, clearly taken off guard by the apology. Then he carefully moved beside Lena and slid down to the floor next to her, none of his ghostly movements making a sound. “So…” he started unsurely, “…I get the whole keeping control of your own life thing, but… you really think miss Kara would make that a problem?”

Lena huffed out a humourless laugh, the man beside her just giving her a curious look, as she thought of the alien woman. The sweetest, kindest person she’d ever met, who had a giant secret of her own. Who understood the pressure and the responsibility of helping others. “No,” Lena breathed out softly. “I don’t.”

“Well…” Mesut hesitated, “…what’s really the problem, then?”

Lena sighed, leaning her elbow on one knee and resting her head on her hand, as she looked back at Mesut’s honestly confused expression. And she softly muttered the one thing standing in her way. The one giant obstacle so embarrassing, that she hadn’t even laid it out to Winn or Maggie.

“I’m scared.”

 

 


 

 

Lena looked at herself in the bathroom mirror.

She turned off the water and let the silence wash over her, counting to ten in her head like that quack of a dr. Talbot kept insisting would definitely help. Because she was running out of ideas on how else to calm her nerves. She looked at her own reflection; her makeup washed off, all the artifice removed, leaving only her pale face staring back at her with doubt in her eyes. Because she wasn’t sure if she was ready. She wasn’t sure that she could push through this. But she didn’t really have a choice anymore, did she? After all, things wouldn’t change. Even if she ignored Jeremiah for the next 24 hours, he’d still be here. He’d still want to talk to Alex… and Kara would have to find out anyway. So it wasn’t ideal, but… better that she told it to her face. Rather than Kara having to find out through her sister that she’d been kept in the dark about a secret ghost-seeing ability.

Lena let out a shaky breath, glancing at her reflection once more and trying to call on any courage she might possess. Because her mother was right; she was spineless. But if she could forget about it for just five minutes… if she could convince her mind that she was brave for at least that long… maybe she could get through it. She looked over her own features; no mask, no attempt to hide her emotions this time. Just like Kara had done when she’d revealed her secret. Wait…

She brought her hand behind her head and undid the tie in her hair, letting the strands of black fall loosely around her shoulders. There… just like Kara. On top of all her dread and worry, she also felt aggravated as she looked down at her dress. She didn’t know why, but the pink just looked all that more offensive to her in this moment. Unfortunately for her, she was rudely reminded of how unimportant that detail was, when she heard the door to the hotel room open and then close again.

“Lena? Are you there?”

Only now that Lena stepped away from the sink, did she realise she’d been holding onto it for dear life, as she felt her hands cramp up awkwardly while stepping out of the bathroom. She clasped them together, facing Kara who had just stepped inside. Beautiful, honest, kind Kara who might never look at her the same after tonight. Lena suddenly felt like she might throw up.

“Hi,” Kara said, sounding slightly breathless.

“Hi,” Lena managed to force out.

“I… didn’t see you all night.”

Lena felt her hands shaking and she clasped them tighter. “I’m sorry.” The need to apologise came automatically, but she should probably tell her secret first. ‘Which one?’ the sardonic side of her mind felt the need to ask. Because they were starting to stack up:

I love you.

I can see ghosts.

I need to show you something.

“Lena… are you sure you’re alright?” Kara stepped closer and the worry in her eyes was ever-present. So Lena tried. She tried ever so hard to force her mouth open and do what needed to be done.

“I…”

There was no way…

“I just…”

She couldn’t do it.

“I….”

She simply couldn’t get it out.

She heard a familiar and annoying voice in her head, telling her to take baby steps. Take on the little things before getting to the big ones. Seriously, Talbot, learn when to shut up!

“I…”

I love you.

I can see ghosts.

I need to show you something.

“I need to show you something.”

Lena instantly sucked in a breath, stunned that something had actually made it past her lips, while Kara just nodded with that same concern nestled in her beautiful blue eyes. And Lena went with it. Since bravery wouldn’t be an ally, she’d take the advice from the one ally she could get. Even if it was that quack…

Lena swallowed nervously as she managed to unclench her cramped-up fingers and gesture to the couch, where she and Kara slowly converged, sitting down on it in familiar proximity like they would do in Lena’s office. Albeit with a vastly different atmosphere. And somehow… Lena managed to find a way to get her vocal chords’ cooperation again.

“I’ve always been… curious,” Lena started, voice unsteady and eyes darting towards anything that wasn’t blue and hidden behind a pair of glasses. “I’ve always been known to ask questions. I always liked to think of it as a natural inclination towards science. Although it might only be stubbornness, of course.” She shrugged, the attempt at humour falling flat when said with such a shaky voice. “But when I was little… my mother just thought of it as me talking back… as me not showing respect.” Lena swallowed her nerves down, powering through her embarrassment. “Sometimes it was just words… sometimes it was just her reminding me that Lex never did that. That a true Luthor would never do that. Sometimes… it was more than that.” By some miracle Lena managed to look up, managed to face the blue eyes that were giving her their full an undivided attention. Kara looked concerned… but also so confused. And if Lena was grateful for anything right now, it was the fact that she wouldn’t have to see her reaction.

Lena twisted her body, turning away from Kara, and brought her loose hair forward over her shoulder. Then she reached back, grabbing the zipper that had started everything, and with trembling fingers she pulled it down. All the way. The gasp that came from behind her was inevitable, that much she knew, but it still sent a sting through her chest. Because she hated being pitied. She hated it more than anything. But there was no going back now.

“She used an old leather belt,” Lena explained, her voice still dreadfully unstable as she pressed her hands against the front of her dress to keep it in place. “To this day, I still don’t know where that thing came from.” She tried to laugh, but it sounded very forced. “The first time… it didn’t even last that long. It couldn’t have been more than five lashes…” Lena swallowed nervously, “…but it got worse over the years. The last time was right before I left for boarding school… and I’m pretty sure she kept swinging for at least an hour. Well…” she shrugged, the straps of the unseemly pink dress sliding a little further down her shoulders, “…that’s what it felt like, anyway.” Lena opened her mouth again, but she suddenly didn’t know what to say anymore. So she just sat there; the purple, wrinkled streaks of skin on her lower back on full display for Kara to see. The scars she usually made sure no one ever got to see. And despite the fact she was still hugging the front of her dress, despite her back being the only part of her that was void of clothing… she had never felt this naked. “Please don’t tell anyone,” she whispered.

The silence extended for a moment, Lena not quite willing to look over her shoulder. Then all of a sudden, a warm set of fingers was making contact with her lower back. Lena inhaled sharply, stiffening at the contact and suddenly the touch was gone.

“I’m sorry,” Kara whispered behind her, sounding concerned. “Does it… does it hurt?”

Lena took a few breaths, swallowing down her surprise. Then she shook her head, still not daring to look behind her. “No… not anymore.”

There was a hum behind her, and then once again silence. She could feel Kara restlessly shifting on the couch, though, and before long, the woman’s fingertips were grazing her back again. Although this time, they were at a respectable distance from her scars, almost between her shoulder blades. “Is it okay…” Kara whispered softly, the woman’s breath tangible on Lena’s neck and suddenly she shivered for a whole different reason. “Can I…?”

Kara didn’t finish her question, but Lena nodded anyway, trying to school her body into remaining still as Kara’s fingers traced lower and towards the scars etched permanently into her skin. And they didn’t hurt anymore. Didn’t burn anymore, like they still did the first year of boarding school. But as Kara slowly started tracing them with two fingers, it was as if the memory of the pain was demanding attention. As if every lash that had ever been laid on that skin, was screaming for recognition again, reminding her what the pain had felt like all those years ago.

It would’ve been more than enough to deal with.

But drowning those thoughts away, were far more distracting feelings. The kind of feelings she didn’t feel like calling anything else since they were still embarrassing as all hell, but they wouldn’t be ignored right now. They refused to go unnoticed as the tips of Kara’s fingers kept tracing her lower back, the heat of the woman’s hand nowhere close to the heat that was concentrating below Lena’s stomach. Lena clenched her legs together and closed her eyes, silently trying to will the unwanted feelings away, but it was a lost cause at this point. She could feel her entire body temperature spiking, and she was pretty sure she was starting to sweat, and it didn’t help when Kara suddenly stopped tracing her scars and pressed her entire palm to Lena’s skin, causing a shiver to go down her spine.

And then the contact was gone.

Lena opened her eyes and was ready to let out a sigh (maybe of relief, maybe of longing), but the contact suddenly returned. Instead this time, Kara’s entire body was pressed against her back as the woman’s arms suddenly encircled her, and it took Lena a moment to realise that Kara was hugging her from behind; the woman’s arms draping over the hands that were still holding the dress in place, while Kara suddenly rested her chin on her shoulder. Lena shuddered, inhaled unsteadily and closed her eyes, as she leaned her head against Kara’s while the whirlwind of emotions was starting to get too much. Kara was way too close, Kara’s body was way too warm, the scars on her back were far more bare than they ever should be, the nagging feeling that this wasn’t what she’d set out to tell her best friend in the first place was starting to demand attention, all while the ghosts of her mother’s lashings still burned on her skin’s memory. Then of course there was the embarrassment that she could feel tears starting to come down. And it was a stupid thing to cry over, she knew that, but it was all just too much. It was just too much at the same time…

“Come stop your crying, it’ll be alright…”

Lena opened her eyes, as suddenly her clashing thoughts were muted.

“Just take my hand, hold it tight…”

Kara’s hand suddenly took hold of one of her own, and just like that Lena’s embarrassment was gone, as she chuckled softly while shaking her head.

“I will protect you from all around you. I will be here, don’t you cry.”

Lena huffed, still in awe of how the woman could make her laugh at the most improbable times. “Seriously?” she chuckled softly. “This seemed like the right time to prove a point about musicals?”

“Sorry,” Kara muttered, still not moving her head from Lena’s shoulder. “Reflex.” Lena let out an actual laugh this time, and just like that Kara had made it all go away. The embarrassment, the shame, the fear, the guilt. Just by being her.

And in her mind, it was suddenly so painfully obvious how much she loved her, that she couldn’t believe she’d ever missed it.

“You deserve so much better, Lena,” the soft whisper near her ear suddenly sounded.

And when later Lena whispered ‘tomorrow’ to the ghost of Jeremiah Danvers when Kara briefly left the room. As she would watch the alien woman push their two beds closer together, before falling asleep while holding her hand and before being tormented by nightmares where Kara never wanted to see her again. As she would watch the sleeping face of the alien woman whose honesty always seemed to seep through her blue eyes… Lena could almost believe her.

But for now Lena just hummed, not trusting herself to speak as she just held Kara’s hand tighter.

 

“And just for the record… you’re still beautiful.”

 

 



 

 

Alex pulled sweater number three over her head, as it joined her woolly socks and her beanie in their attempts at keeping the agent warm, yet she still shivered; The SunView Hotel not quite able to live up to its inviting name, as she watched her breath form clouds against the window. Stupid hotel, with their stupid broken heating, Alex thought to herself. On the other side of the glass it kept raining nonstop, the weather unmoved by the festivities that were supposed to take place the next day, as the drops kept tumbling down from the night's sky. Alex shook her head as she turned back towards Maggie, who was curled up on the couch of their room.

“Well, looks like we're going to be living the lyrics to ‘Ironic’,” she chuckled as she took a seat next to her soon-to-be wife.

“Huh?” Maggie blinked as she seemed to be pulled out of her thoughts.

“You know… that one line. ‘It's like rain on your wedding day.’”

“Oh… right.” The shorter woman gave a tight-lipped smile, before frowning at the wall again. Alex was about to ask what was wrong, but at that point the door of their hotel room swung open with alarming force. It was so violent that it bounced off the wall and fell into place again behind Kara, who had barged in and looked absolutely beside herself.

“Kara…?” Alex jumped off the couch, Maggie following suit, as they both looked concerned at Kara’s completely bewildered expression and her heaving breaths.

“She… that woman… she dared… and… and Lena…”

Alex went into agent mode in the flash of a second. “What about Lena?” she asked, her hand already itching for her gun. “What did she do? I swear, if she-”

“SHE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!!” Kara charged forward, and Alex and Maggie both took a step back at the sight of the furious Kryptonian snarling at them. “SHE IS THE VICTIM HERE, FOR RAO’S SAKE!! BUT PEOPLE JUST KEEP JUDGING HER FOR EVERY LITTLE THING AND SHE’S JUST SO GOOD!! BUT NOBODY EVER GIVES HER ANY CREDIT AND SHE KEEPS TAKING ALL THIS CRAP LYING DOWN AND NEVER SNAPS, BECAUSE SHE’S A FREAKING SAINT!! Even… even when she was little… and her mother… she dared… it’s all so unfair, Alex!! It’s just… just… AAARRRGHH!!” Kara let out an eardrum-piercing scream, before gazing around the room, looking for something to incinerate with her heat vision, if Alex had to guess. “I just… I just want… I want to…” Kara looked away, balling her fists and struggling to form words, and Alex dared to take this moment to step closer.

“What? What do you want?” Alex asked urgently, getting more alarmed by the minute at Kara’s state.

“I…” Kara’s figure completely froze as she stopped her erratic gesturing, before looking back at her sister. “…I want to dig up Lillian Luthor and punch her in the face.” She paused, and reconsidered the statement. “Repeatedly.” Kara nodded to herself, as if that was the solution to everything, while not really noticing the two women gaping back at her with wide eyes. “I think I’ll go do that now.” She stepped towards the window, but Alex snapped out of her shock just in time to stop her.

“Whoa, whoa!! You’ll do nothing of the sort!!” She grabbed her sister’s wrist, who blinked as she turned back. “For starters you can’t go flying around in your civilian clothes, and-”

“You’re right. I’ll go get my suit.”

“NO!!” Alex huffed out an incredulous breath. “Supergirl is not going around desecrating graves!! Why the hell do you need to punch a corpse anyway?!”

Kara swallowed, the determination sagging from her shoulders into a hunch as if she were a poorly baked cake. “I don’t… I can’t tell you.” She sheepishly looked back at the door, which was sporting a few cracks where it had just hit the wall, but Alex threw her hands up in exasperation.

“So now Lena Luthor has you keeping secrets from your sister?” She looked between Kara and her fiancée. “Seriously, what is the deal with you two and that woman?”

“You make it sound like there’s something wrong with her,” Kara said as she folded her arms.

“Well, as a matter of fact-”

“Nothing is wrong with her!!” Kara immediately snapped. “She just…” the alien woman deflated again, her arms moving to hug herself, “…needs to be more careful with herself,” she muttered. “That’s her only problem. She keeps thinking of everybody else’s wellbeing before her own. She just… needs to take better care of herself…”

Kara swallowed as she looked at the wall that separated Alex and Maggie’s room from the one where Lena was probably getting ready for bed. But she didn’t have the heart to use her x-ray vision right now, because she felt like she’d gotten the utmost private look at Lena just moments before and she was honestly still reeling from it. Meanwhile, Alex’s eye was starting to twitch out of pure frustration while she stared daggers at that same wall, because that woman kept reducing her sister to an emotional mess somehow. That’s why neither of them noticed Maggie looking at the floor, guilt flooding through her, as she realised that putting other people first was exactly what she’d been trying to force the youngest Luthor to do earlier.

“I have to go back,” Kara suddenly proclaimed, as she stepped back towards the door.

“Kara, wait…” Alex reached out, but the alien woman barged out of the room at an above-human speed and both fiancées winced as the door creaked unpleasantly when it fell back into place. The older Danvers sister let out a measured sigh, hands on her hips, as she turned towards Maggie. “If you knew what that was about, you’d tell me, right?” she asked as she squinted her eyes.

“Yeah… yeah, of course.” The woman cleared her throat. “I’m gonna… go to bed.”

Alex looked on as her fiancée headed to the bathroom, leaving her standing by herself in their freezing hotel room, while cursing that creeping feeling that was telling her she was missing something. The feeling was a recurring theme since even before the summer, as Kara seemed to experience one emotional meltdown after another since telling that woman her secret. And somehow that Luthor woman was always involved. It had already been bad enough before Maggie had taken a liking to her. And then that had led to that one single, tiny, honest mistake of thinking the two were having an affair. Of course all that had been cleared up, and they were only thirteen hours removed from getting married now, but Alex was growing more certain each passing minute that she was missing something. Whatever it was, something was clearly going on. Possibly something very shady. And with some luck…

 

…she might figure it out tonight.

 

Chapter Text

 

November 5th 2017

 

Lena firmly believed that whatever you do, preparation is key.

She didn’t feel prepared right now.

Despite clutching a letter addressed to Eliza Danvers in her right hand, written on Jeremiah’s behalf at the crack of dawn (she’d narrowly avoided stepping on an empty glass when she got out of bed, which Kara must’ve left there). Despite their carefully laid out plan of telling Alex right now, while letting the rest of the world find out once they’d recuperated Jeremiah’s body and pretended the letter had been found there. Despite the ghostly man flanking her as they stood in the brides’ hotel room. Despite Winn standing by her other side (“What do you mean, why? For moral support!”) while Maggie restlessly paced in front of them. Despite the detective repeatedly asking if she was sure, and that she was really sorry about calling her selfish. Despite James keeping Kara busy under the guise of getting some answers on the damn heating. Despite all that, Lena still felt woefully underprepared when Alex stepped out of the bedroom, wearing a jacket over her wedding dress as she rubbed her arms.

“I seriously can’t wait to get to the church, I’m freezing my… ass…” Alex trailed off as she noticed the three living people that were standing in the middle of her room. “Winn?” she said slowly. “Lena?” she gave the youngest Luthor a curious look that was nothing like the wary and distrustful one she usually reserved for her, but Maggie was by Alex’s side before she could dwell on it.

“Alex… we need to talk.”

Alex gave her fiancée a frown. “Okay,” she drawled, curiously glancing at all their grim expressions. “About what?”

“Come here, sit down.” Maggie guided the woman to the couch, clasping her hand between her own as she sat down next to her, while Winn and Lena sank down on the couch opposite of the brides. The silence extended a little too long as Alex kept giving them wary glances, and Lena realised they really should have decided who was going to talk first.

“Okay, guys, you’re starting to creep me out,” Alex huffed.

Maggie sighed as she scooted closer on the couch. “Alex… do you remember when I told you that I hadn’t talked to my dad since he kicked me out?”

Alex blinked at her. “Yes, of course.”

“So… what if I told you… that I actually talked to him?” Maggie hesitated as her eyes darted across her fiancée’s face. “That I actually talked to him in March… and he actually apologised for everything…” Maggie kept looking intently at the taller woman seated next to her, but Alex looked thoroughly confused.

“Wait a minute…” Alex shook her head in disbelief, “…your dad’s alive?!!”

“No… no, babe…” Maggie swallowed. “He’s not.” The detective didn’t seem to know how to proceed, so she glanced towards Lena, apparently inviting her to jump in at this point. And as Alex looked at the scene with a confused frown, Lena had to admit that Maggie had helped her along as far as she possibly could have. Lena sighed with her eyes closed, before opening them and straightening up, facing Alex as she forced the words past her lips.

“I see dead people.” A shiver went down her own spine at uttering those words, while Alex just blinked in response, her expression completely blank. “I don’t know how or why,” Lena continued, “I’m still working that part out. But the fact of the matter is that some people who die turn into ghosts. And for some reason… I’m the only one who can see or hear them.” Lena let out a shaky breath, slightly incredulous that she’d actually gotten through all that without stammering.

Alex huffed out a breathy laugh, as she looked between the three people that were staring at her. Her laughter quickly died out, however, when she noticed their grim expressions remaining in place. “Wait, you… you’re serious?” Alex’s look turned incredulous as she turned back towards Maggie. “You’re not joking?” Alex’s eyes only seemed to widen as the smaller woman shook her head in response. “And you didn’t tell me?”

“I’m sorry, babe,” she clutched their hands tighter as she brought them closer to herself. “But it wasn’t my secret to tell, and Lena really wants to limit the amount of people that know. Just… just like not everyone should know that Kara is Supergirl.”

Alex seemed to take a moment to digest that, before almost petulantly huffing out a breath. “Well… it’s not exactly the same,” she grumbled. “Kara’s an actual Superhero…”

“Hey!” Winn suddenly exclaimed in indignation. “Lena’s a hero too! Ouch!” He flinched at Lena’s elbow poking him in the ribs.

“Not now, Winn!” she hissed.

Alex gave their exchange a weird look, before suddenly turning to her fiancée again. “Wait, so… why are you telling me this now?” She kept giving the smaller woman a confused look, and Maggie turned back to Lena again, giving her a look that told her this was up to her. Lena sighed deeply, wishing she could be anywhere else right now, before explaining what was going on.

“Someone… is here to see you,” she started carefully. She paused as she glanced to the ghost of Jeremiah Danvers, who was still standing there while looking intently at Alex’s confused expression. “And he… he said you would want to know. That you would definitely want him to be at your wedding…”

Lena saw the exact moment it clicked in Alex’s mind. Her expression went from confused and slightly curious, to falling in complete disbelief a moment later. The horror set in next, as Alex just shook her head at everyone in the room. “No…” she jolted up from the couch, backing away as if she could run away from everything. She kept shaking her head at all of them, as they also got up from their seats and Maggie tried to step closer. “No… no, no, no,” Alex kept insisting as her face started contorting and her breathing got heavy. “Lillian said… she said she didn’t know… she said… she didn’t know where he was… YOUR MOTHER SAID THAT!!” She suddenly rushed at Lena, but Maggie caught her, holding her in place and trying to calm her down.

“She lied, honey,” Jeremiah suddenly interjected, and Lena dutifully relayed his words to the living people in the room. “She killed me right after I helped you stop her from launching all those aliens into space.”

Lena swallowed, because Alex had now started crying. She was still shaking her head, as if denial would make the truth go away, while she weakly pushed at the hands that were around her waist; Maggie now soothing her as much as she was restraining her. And Lena tried her best to keep her eyes averted, as she stared intently at the ghost beside her, while continuing to relay his message.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” the man breathed solemnly. “I’m sorry for letting her manipulate me. But I didn’t know, Alex. I’d been stuck with Cadmus for so many years… I didn’t know you and Kara had grown up to be as strong as you are. I didn’t know, that you didn’t need my protection anymore.” Alex had stopped fighting Maggie’s grip, instead leaning into her, as her eyes darted between Lena and the empty space she was looking at. The space where she now knew her father had to be standing. “I know this is my own fault, Alex. I chose to go back to Cadmus, because I thought I needed to protect you. It’s my own fault… but at least I get to be here now.” The man exhaled, a small smile breaking through his grim mask. “At least I get to see my girl get married. And to be honest… it’s more than I could’ve hoped for.”

At that, Alex completely broke down. She buried her face in Maggie’s shoulder, shaking like a leaf, as the tears suddenly started to fall freely. Lena swallowed and looked away, not sure anymore that telling her right now had been the best decision. The guilt was slightly suppressed, however, as Winn put an encouraging hand on her shoulder and squeezed slightly. Then Jeremiah momentarily turned his pained expression away from his crying daughter to look at Lena.

“Thank you,” he said solemnly. “For letting me talk to her.”

“Don’t mention it,” Lena whispered, still feeling like a monumental asshole for reducing Alex to this state mere hours before her wedding. Even with Jeremiah’s thanks, and despite Winn’s helpful pats on her shoulder.

“I… I need to…” Alex suddenly tried to extract herself from Maggie’s arms, taking one step towards the door, while still taking ragged breaths, “Kara… I have to…”

“No!!” Lena darted past Winn, putting herself between Alex and the door. “You can’t tell her!!”

Alex sighed, the devastation making her look tired as her voice sounded impatient. “Kara deserves to know-”

“But you don’t understand-”

“-that Jeremiah is dead just as much as-”

“I have to tell her!” Lena exclaimed, stunning Alex into silence, while she clasped her trembling hands together. “Please, Alex, I… I never told her,” she uttered softly. She could almost imagine the scowl on her mother’s face if she had ever seen her cower like this, but she pressed on regardless. “I never told her about the ghost thing. Just… believe me when I say I had my reasons, but please Alex… just… let me tell her.”

She looked up, nervously darting her eyes across Alex’s face. And maybe it was just the devastation at the news her father had died. Maybe that was the reason she didn’t put up a fight. But whatever the reason, Alex just let out a tired sigh and muttered her response.

“Fine.”

  


 

 

Based on the twisting feeling in her gut, Lena calculated a 37 percent chance of her throwing up.

She was pacing in the middle of her hotel room, anxiously waiting for Kara to come back, as she was slowly but surely starting to feel her throat close up. She hugged herself, the jacket over her ugly pink dress providing at least some protection from the cold, as she tried to fight her body’s urge to physically run away from everything. Everything was going to be fine, she tried to tell herself. She was just going to force everything out of her mouth, puke accompanying it or not, and she would-

“You’re not gonna believe this!” Kara’s voice suddenly entered the room, followed by the woman herself as she shut the door with an annoyed huff. Lena shivered and it had nothing to do with the cold. “The problem with the heating is somewhere in the electrical wiring of the building, but they have no clue where it is and the electrician they called got stuck halfway because the road was flooded and-”

“Kara,” Lena interrupted, schooling her voice into steadiness as she interrupted the woman’s rambling, “we need to talk.”

 The alien woman seemed to calm down from her annoyed entrance, as she stepped closer. “Oh… okay.” She frowned as she let her eyes go over Lena, who was trying as hard as she could to appear composed, but she had to clasp her fingers together with brute force just to stop them from shaking. So instead she used her head to motion towards the couch where they’d sat just the night before, and Kara obliged as they both sat down next to each other. “Is this about the…” Kara vaguely gestured towards her “thing again, or…”

“No,” Lena interjected, her lips actually twitching up, because of course Kara would put it like that, “it’s not about the scars this time.” She swallowed, grasping on to that starting point for dear life. “But speaking of that… I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I shouldn’t be keeping secrets from you…”

“Lena, it’s okay,” Kara put her hand on Lena’s who were still joined together and no matter how inviting the woman’s touch was, Lena didn’t trust her hands to let go of each other just yet. “I get it; it was something really private. You don’t owe me an explanation-”

“But I do,” Lena insisted, starting to breathe more heavily as she looked intently at the woman next to her. “Because… Kara…” she closed her eyes for a moment and before she could back out, before her cowardice could set in, she decided to cross the point of no return, “…that’s not the only secret I’ve been keeping from you.” Lena inhaled deeply, shivered, but pressed on before the terror building in her soul could take over. “And I know… I know I should have told you sooner, but at first I didn’t want anyone to know, and then Winn found out by accident and he had to go and tell James, and with Maggie the whole situation was just so-”

“Hey, hey,” Kara tugged at her hand, trying to hold it, but Lena wouldn’t budge, her hands still clamped together. “It’s okay, whatever it is-”

“It’s not okay!” Lena exclaimed. “You’re the last person I want to lie to, Kara. You have to believe me, you… no one means as much to me as… but then… things got complicated…”

Lena kept faltering, but out of nowhere her mind seemed to find a crutch. Because for once her scars didn’t feel like a burden. For once, the fact that Kara already knew about the marks on her back felt like it helped. It felt like a stepping stone, to the one thing that was even bigger than that. The secret that maybe wasn’t as big as the one she would never tell her best friend about, but one that yesterday seemed almost impossible to blurt out. But with one of her secrets already out in the open… and with the knowledge that the most embarrassing one would still get to be locked away deeply in her heart…  Lena looked into Kara’s beautiful blue eyes… and let it all out.

“I can see ghosts…” she whispered, before sucking in a breath and raising her voice to a normal level. “I became friends with Winn because I blackmailed him into helping me get Pam from HR to find her sister’s will. I got close to Maggie because I helped her father apologise to her. I almost got myself and Mon-el off that spaceship because the ghost of his father was showing me the way. And I knew how to clear the atmosphere from my mother’s poisons, because the scientist she killed after forcing her to help told me what was going on.”

Lena exhaled a long breath, slumping into herself in a way that would make her mother furious, as she thanked her luck that her stomach had chosen for the 63 percent route. She swallowed as she looked up, not sure what she was expecting, but it probably wasn’t what she got to see. Kara didn’t look angry, or surprised, or anything at all, really. Maybe it was shock, but it just seemed like she was giving her a completely blank look, her hand now completely still over Lena’s. It took a while, but she eventually seemed to find her voice again.

“Wow…” she breathed out, “that’s… really?”

Lena frowned, not sure what to make of the small hint of surprise that was making its way through this otherwise total non-reaction. “Yes…” Lena said slowly, trying to emphasize the truth, the importance of it all, “…really.” A moment of silence passed.

“Wow,” Kara just repeated, her tiny hint of surprise seemingly turning into something adjacent to wonder. “You really are a hero,” she breathed out.

Lena blinked, not sure what to say to that, as she just looked over Kara’s wondrous expression. But unless Winn had somehow mastered either shapeshifting or quick-change in the past few minutes, then this was exactly how well Kara was taking this. “Well,” Lena started hesitantly, “not- not the way you are…”

“The way I am…” Kara seemed to falter, as she retracted her hand and her expression suddenly tuned more serious. “Wait a minute!” She suddenly jolted up from the couch as she darted her eyes back and forward, as if she was going over all kind of things in her head. And Lena swallowed nervously as she got up from the couch as well. “You- you had this secret, and you were scared to tell me…” Kara summed up, still darting her eyes across the floor while frowning very deeply, “…but you still got super pissed when I told you I was Supergirl!” Kara looked up at her, appearing to seek confirmation, but obviously she already knew he answer so Lena just hung her head. “Oooooh, that’s- that’s…” Kara seemed unable to say anything else as she huffed out an incredulous breath and put her hands on her hips, while shaking her head with a highly offended expression.

Lena nervously reached out to her. “Kara, I’m- I’m really sorry-”

“Just give me a second,” Kara motioned for her to stop and scrunched her eyes closed, as if she was very conflicted about something. “I really wanna hug you right now, but I also kinda wanna slap you. It’s very confusing.”

Lena let her hand fall back to her side as she nodded in understanding. “You’re mad at me,” she stated simply.

“Yes. No, I… wait… yes, no, I’m…” Kara kept opening and closing her mouth, apparently stuck between being offended and not being offended. And as serious as the situation was; as heavy as her heart was feeling right now, Lena still couldn’t help but think that this whole reaction was beyond adorable. Seriously, Lena, not the time for this crap!

“I’m mad.” Kara suddenly lifted her head and nodded to herself, as she turned back to Lena with her hands on her hips. “Yeah, no, I’m definitely mad at you.” Kara kept looking at her, but the convincing declaration of anger didn’t reach her eyes. She stood there; the hands on her hips reminiscent of her Supergirl pose, but her eyes kept darting between Lena’s as if she wanted nothing more than to hug her right now. Lena wasn’t quite sure how to react, because she felt like she should take Kara’s words seriously, especially at a time like this. But the way the woman was seemingly vibrating in place as if she was going to lunge forward and hug her senseless, all the while with that almost stubborn expression in place that was supposed to represent anger, still made Lena’s lips twitch.

“I understand,” Lena said simply, because seriously, what else was she supposed to say?

Kara didn’t say anything and instead kept standing there for a few seconds, conflicting body language and all. “I’m gonna storm out now,” she suddenly proclaimed.

“Wait… no, Kara!” She was too late to stop her, as the alien woman had already whisked past her and had walked out as the door slammed shut behind her. Lena stood here for a second, uncertain what she was feeling. Well, that wasn’t entirely true, she knew for a fact that she was at least partially relieved. She was relieved that Kara hadn’t just bluntly told her she was a hypocrite and that she never wanted to see her again. On the other hand Kara said she was mad at her, which was also devastating. But then the way she said it was entirely too Kara-like and adorable and bottom line was Lena had no idea how she was supposed to-

“Lena!!” The alien woman suddenly barged back into the room, and Lena flinched in surprise as the door bounced off the wall and fell back into place behind Kara, who was now heaving like she’d run a marathon and suddenly seemed completely bewildered. “You can see dead people,” she said in a shaky voice.

“Yes,” Lena frowned as she stepped closer to the erratically breathing woman.

“You can see dead people,” Kara repeated.

“That’s… what I just said…”

“So… when I got shot…” Kara’s voice cracked and suddenly Lena wished she could be anywhere else. She wished she could be in prison, maybe thanks to that McConnell guy being entirely too prejudiced against her last name. She wished she could be in her mansion, regularly getting lashed by her mother again. She wished she could be in any place where she wouldn’t have to watch Kara put the pieces together. But she was seeing it right now. And it was horrible. “…when I got shot with Kryptonite…” Kara continued, her bottom lip starting to tremble, “you, with- with the gun…” Kara’s face contorted further and Lena braced herself. “It wasn’t a dream?”

Lena looked over the woman’s face, her expression seemingly begging her to protest. Begging her to offer another explanation, to dismiss everything and to say it wasn’t so. But Lena just swallowed, and because the lump in her throat wouldn’t let her say anything, she just looked down in shame and shook her head. And Lena didn’t want to look back up. She didn’t want to see the disappointment, or worse the pity in Kara’s eyes. Because she was officially a freak now, someone different from everyone else (as if she wasn’t enough so already). And she didn’t want to see any of that reflected in Kara’s eyes, because pity was the worst thing that humankind had ever invented and if there was one place she never wanted to see it, then it was in those blue eyes hiding behind their lead-lined glasses. But because Kara didn’t say anything else, didn’t make another sound, Lena was forced to look back up anyway. And what she saw was not exactly what she’d expected.

The shock she’d been prepared for. The disbelief on Kara’s face was something she’d been picturing and dreaming of the entire night, as she was plagued by nightmares of exactly how badly this could all go. So that wasn’t the thing that threw her quite as much. What surprised her was the complete devastation, the utter heartbreak, as if she’d confirmed all the woman’s worst fears. As if she’d been stashing Kryptonite somewhere and had attempted to murder Superman on multiple occasions. As if this was a personal affront, a complete betrayal. Lena wasn’t sure what it meant. But at the sight of Kara’s tears silently dropping, her own eyes started to burn anyway.

“Why?” Kara whimpered, and the heartbreak on her face was pure torture.

“You were dead,” Lena shrugged, her own voice not so steady anymore either. “I just didn’t see the point anymore…” there was a sudden gust of wind and suddenly Kara’s face was a lot closer, the tears oh so close and oh so visible, as the alien woman had grabbed the front of her jacket.

“AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FEEL ABOUT THAT?!” Kara yelled through her tears, her voice holding the anger that her crying eyes didn’t show. “YOU THINK IT’S EASY TO DIVE HEAD FIRST INTO DANGER WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT THE CONSEQUENSES?! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT NOW?! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE BRAVE IF I’M CARRYING YOUR LIFE ON MY SHOULDERS?!”

“Kara…”

“HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH THAT?! THAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO ME, YOU MIGHT NOT BE THERE WHEN I WAKE UP?!”

“Kara!!”

The alien woman gasped for air as she looked up at her and Lena swallowed as she clutched Kara’s forearms.

“Kara, could you… could you please put me down?” The alien woman inhaled a short, surprised breath upon realising that she’d lifted Lena up by the front of her jacket, and the youngest Luthor huffed in surprise when she suddenly got dropped back to the floor. Kara took a step back and seemed to shrink in on herself as she momentarily looked away while she removed her glasses and wiped at her face. And Lena tried to explain. Tried to make her understand even just a little. “Look, I… I know this might be hard to understand,” Lena stammered. “But… you were… no, you still are the best part of my life. And… after my dad… and then Lex, and then Jack… I just… I didn’t want to deal with losing the most important person in my life for a fourth time.”

“You think I don’t understand?!” Kara exclaimed, some anger returning to her voice, despite her expression still spelling heartbreak. “Lena…” she gestured up and down at herself, “last daughter of Krypton over here!”

“I- I know,” Lena swallowed, her heart constricting more and more at the sight of Kara in this state. “And I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say… but… it’s fine,” Lena tried to reassure her. “I’m… I’m seeing a therapist and… I mean, he sucks, but-”

“And what about me?” Kara suddenly interrupted, as she stepped right into Lena’s space. “How did you think losing the most important person in my life would make me feel?”

Lena faltered, her already shallow breaths catching in her throat. “I’m… the most important person in your life?”

“Yes, don’t you know that?” Kara’s hands were suddenly holding her face, and Lena opened her mouth but decided she didn’t trust herself to speak right now. So instead she just shook her head. “Well you are,” Kara insisted, her tear-filled eyes staring intently at Lena. “So please don’t die. Especially not like that.”

Lena just nodded as she looked down, not trusting the right words to come out of her mouth, as the embarrassment of the night before paled in comparison to what she was feeling right now. But at least she still cared. As much as she wasn’t an optimist, when Kara held her like this it was almost enough to make her believe that everything would be alright. And sure, tomorrow might prove her wrong and Kara might never treat her the same way again, but for now she was still here. And Lena was at least grateful for that.

“Just… maybe don’t tell Alex about the most important person part,” Kara said, chuckling lightly. “She might get madly jealous.” Lena let out a long sigh in response as she closed her eyes, because obviously Kara was trying to make her feel better by lightening the mood, but her words were a sudden and harsh reminder. A reminder that she’d forgotten about a crucial part of her revelation.

Alex…

“Kara…” she carefully removed the alien woman’s hands from her face as she forced herself to look into her eyes, “…there’s something else.” Lena swallowed as she watched Kara let out an incredulous huff.

“You’re kidding.”

Lena just shook her head and pressed on. “I just talked to Alex earlier. Her dad… Jeremiah’s here.”

“He escaped?! How did…” Lena silently shook her head at the woman, and she had to watch as Kara fell silent and the understanding dawned on her. The hopeful expression of the girl of steel quickly melting into sorrow. “No…” her eyes flitted to the left, where the wall that separated their room from that of the brides was, as her breath caught in her throat. “Alex…” she suddenly let go of Lena, and she was already halfway to the door when she suddenly stopped and turned around. She was giving Lena an unsure expression as her eyes darted between the youngest Luthor and the wall that separated her from her sister.

“It’s okay,” Lena assured her. “Go, she needs you.”

Kara’s expression turned more determined, but instead of walking out, she suddenly stepped right in front of her again. “Lena, before your mother’s attack, when we were in my apartment. Do you remember what you told me?” Kara kept staring at her intently, but Lena didn’t know what she was getting at, so she just stammered as she shrugged in response. “You said I could hold your hand whenever I felt lonely. Or any other time for that matter,” Kara reminded her. “Did you mean that?”

“Well… of course…”

“Good.” Kara suddenly clasped her left hand tightly and started guiding her to the door.

“Kara, what…?”

But the alien woman didn’t offer an explanation. She didn’t say anything, even as she walked out of the room, dragging Lena along with her, and right into the arms of her sister next door. And all the while she never let go of her hand. Not as she hugged her sister with one arm, not as they cried together, not as they sat down together and started bringing up old memories of the brief time where they’d shared a father. Through it all, Lena sat as far away from the two as she could, despite the alien woman still holding onto her hand, only speaking when Jeremiah had something to add, a memory of his own to reminisce on, a perspective to share. Which Lena would dutifully relay to the crying Danvers sisters. And Lena stayed as she watched the scene carry on, feeling terribly out of place. But Kara had apparently decided that she needed her here for this. Or maybe she just didn’t trust to leave her alone anymore. But whatever the reason, she kept clutching her hand like her life depended on it. And Lena let her, for whatever reason. But let’s be real, she knew very well why she let her.

Because it was Kara.

  


 

 

The wedding was postponed several hours.

And not just because Alex needed some time. Apparently all the roads to the church had flooded as well, so now a random hall in the hotel was being transformed into an approximation of a wedding ceremony. The staff had brought in several small portable gas heaters to deal with the cold, while the manager had spent most of the time profusely apologising for the inconvenience with a face that basically screamed ‘please don’t sue us’.

Lena thought she still might.

What they also found out, was that the kitchen only worked with electrical stoves and that they had somehow also been affected by the malfunctioning grid, meaning that the food at the reception would consist mostly of various salads. In any other situation, Lena would have laughed out loud at the face Kara pulled upon hearing the news.

Eventually, a makeshift aisle was formed, as the guests finally were able to sit down in the various chairs hoarded from all over the hotel. Lena had no idea how they’d managed to cough up a priest this fast, but there was one here now; hastily buttoning her robe as Kara and Lena stepped up to the front of the congregation and to the small podium the staff had constructed there, which Lena assumed was supposed to serve as an altar in this scenario. It was only up here that Kara eventually agreed to let go of her hand, as Lena calmly explained that she was supposed to be standing beside Maggie while Kara stood by Alex, and in the end, the alien woman reluctantly let go. And Lena felt slightly relieved. Because in the split second that they were standing there hand in hand, with a large congregation on one side and a priest on the other while Eliza Danvers gave them a curious look from the front row, her mind was already going places it shouldn’t.

Lena was quickly brought back to earth though, when Maggie suddenly appeared beside them in full ceremonial police uniform, while looking slightly troubled. “Hey,” Kara greeted, “how’s Alex doing?”

“Less than spectacular,” Maggie replied, while nervously adjusting her sleeves. And Lena could instantly feel the guilt start gnawing away at her again.

Before she could get lost in those thoughts however, the doors on the other side of the room opened and Alex Danvers stepped inside with Jeremiah following right behind. The dress was wonderful, the looks on the guests’ faces was nothing but adoration as they all got on their feet, the smile of J’onn J’onzz was as wide as it could be as the bride stepped next to him, but even from this distance Lena could see that Alex looked highly emotional. And she supposed most people would read it as an ‘I’m about to get married’ kind of emotional. But Lena was pretty sure that wasn’t the case. As a matter of fact, she was more than sure.

Because as the woman stepped up to J’onn and he linked his right arm with her left, she paused. She seemed to look Lena dead in the eye for a second, before glancing to her right, where the man that was invisible to her was standing. She slowly clasped her hands together, extending her right elbow the same way her left was bent to link with J’onn’s arm. And Lena could almost see the light bulb go off in Jeremiah’s head. He quickly stepped next to his daughter, and linked his ghostly arm with Alex’s living right. The bride looked at Lena again, an unspoken question in her eyes, seeking confirmation.

Lena nodded, and if anything, Alex only seemed closer to her emotions flooding out of her.

The walk through the aisle was silent, apart from the clicks of James Olsen’s camera. Everybody watched as Alex was guided through the makeshift aisle of borrowed hotel chairs with J’onn on her left side, while only Lena was able to see Jeremiah accompanying her on her right. They arrived at the stand-in altar, both Jeremiah and J’onn unlinking their arms, as the Martian took a seat on the front row next to Eliza and the ghostly man remained standing beside his daughter. Maggie took hold of both of the woman’s hands as they stood face to face, and the priest rattled off some generic monologue about marriage.

Lena swallowed, because Alex still seemed unfocused, her eyes flitting around when they weren’t firmly trained on the floor, almost as if she’d be able to see her father standing somewhere with her own eyes. Lena looked warily at the highly emotional state of the woman, which never changed even as the youngest Luthor passed the rings to Maggie and the two women put them on each other’s fingers. But when the priest closed her little book and stopped talking, all eyes were suddenly on Alex as she was supposed to go first with her vows. The silence extended, and Lena’s heart was feeling heavier by the second, as Alex just kept looking at the floor, seemingly trying her hardest not to cry while her father gave her a sad look that she didn’t get to see.

“So how about I start?” Maggie suddenly proclaimed, causing the entire congregation’s attention to fall onto her. Except for Alex, whose eyes were still fixed on the floor. “Alex… babe, look at me.” The secret agent in the wedding dress did just that, and Maggie gave her an encouraging smile, rubbing her thumbs over the back of the woman’s hands that she was still holding. “You already know that I love you. You know that you’re already my family and that signing a piece of paper is basically just bureaucracy at this point. But I also want to say that I’m sorry, because I know this isn’t how you saw your wedding day going.” Maggie’s eyes briefly flitted to the side, and they actually went very close to where the ghostly man was standing. “I wanted everything to be perfect for you, because that’s what you deserve,” she continued. “But to be honest… I think this is more fitting.”

Confusion flashed across Alex’s face, but Maggie just gave her a dimpled grin in response.

“You and me, we’ve got a pair of crazy jobs, Danvers. There will always be some catastrophe going on. There’s gonna be days when the weather’s crap,” she nodded to the side at one of the windows, where the rain kept stubbornly clattering against the other side of it. “With your cooking skills, I can guarantee that there’s gonna be days when our food gets ruined,” she smirked and Alex actually gave a weak smile at that. “And there might be days when our heater breaks. Although I seriously hope it doesn’t happen too often, because I don’t know about the rest of you,” Maggie briefly turned to the people in attendance, “but I couldn’t feel my toes last night.” A burst of laughter filled the hall, as the guests nodded in agreement, and Alex managed to laugh at her fiancée as well. “The point is, babe, that I don’t care about the sunshine, about good food or even… proper circulation.” She shrugged and Alex actually let out another chuckle. “I really don’t care… as long as you’re there with me to complain about it. As long as I’ve got you… I’m gonna be good.”

The silence returned, apart from a few people in attendance blowing their nose and one of them letting out an exaggeratedly loud sob (in a voice that sounded a suspicious lot like Mesut). Alex, however, seemed to have learned how to smile again, as she wiped at her eyes and let out a small huff as she shook her head.

“Goddamn it, Sawyer.” She let out another small laugh. “You pick today of all days to turn into freaking Shakespeare?” Maggie shrugged, as Alex just beamed back at her. “I just… I love you, Maggie. I love you so much…” she opened and closed her mouth a few times, her eyes darting over the attendance for a moment, before turning back to Maggie. “I… I’m sorry, I… I don’t know what else to say.” She shrugged. “I love you…”

“Hey,” Maggie seemed to squeeze her hands in reassurance, “it’s okay, Alex. That’s all I need to know.” They just stood there smiling at each other, and Lena was the only one that got to see Jeremiah Danvers wipe away a tear at the sight. The two women just kept looking at each other adoringly, as the people in attendance smiled at the scene. Even the priest seemed to be caught up in the moment, because it took a gentle nudge from Kara to remind her that this was her cue.

“Oh… right.” The woman in the robe cleared her throat. “Do you, Alexandra Juliette Danvers, take Margarita Elena Sawyer to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?”

“I do,” Alex breathed solemnly.

“And do you, Margarita Elena Sawyer, take Alexandra Juliette Danvers to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?”

“Hell yeah.”

“Then I hereby pronounce you wife, and wife. The brides may kiss.”

A loud eruption of cheers rose up from the small hotel ballroom, the loudest of all coming from Kara, as everyone got on their feet and applauded loudly while Maggie and Alex shared a kiss. The cheering continued, as the priest respectfully stepped away and Winn whistled loudly. James’s camera was clicking away like crazy, and the loud blearing of someone crying was now very audible. And as Lena looked over, she saw that it was indeed Mesut who was unabashedly crying at the very back of the room while clapping way too enthusiastically for someone who’d known Maggie for all but four weeks. Lena fondly shook her head and chuckled, as the two brides turned to the cheering crowd and raised their joined hands above their heads, smiling widely at the congregation. But Lena’s smile quickly faded. She faltered, because she saw Jeremiah smiling widely at his daughter, all the while clapping his hands together with pride in his eyes, despite his motions not making any noise… and he was starting to emit light.

Lena hesitated for a split second. But she’d brought it this far, so she decided she couldn’t start ignoring inconvenient occurrences at this point. She quickly stepped away from her side of the podium, and stepped behind Alex who was still smiling widely at the crowd with Maggie’s hand in her own. “Alex…” Lena whispered, as loudly as she dared, “…your father’s passing on.”

Lena swallowed as the woman seemed to freeze. She couldn’t see her face, but she seemed to completely stiffen, and what happened next went so fast she almost missed it. But then she realised that Winn had seen what was happening. That he’d jumped to his feet and had whispered something into James’s ear. And that he’d loudly yelled ‘group hug!’ as he and James stepped up to the podium, the taller man’s large frame effectively shielding the two brides from the audience’s view. And as Lena watched the two men form a human curtain for Alex to hide behind, Lena could honestly say she loved her sidekick to pieces.

“There’s light coming from inside him,” Lena explained, as she watched the man continuing to give his daughter that revering look while he kept up his soundless clapping. “And it’s covering him up.” Lena looked through the small space under Winn’s arm, as she saw the light slowly move over the man’s body and meld together on his stomach. “It’s separating… the light, it’s- it’s splitting off into smaller pieces,” Lena continued to explain, as she watched the man’s figure start to pull apart into those familiar glowing orbs of light. And she kept looking as they floated away from each other and hung motionless in the air for a moment. “They’re fading,” Lena all but whispered, as she watched the light dim further and further, until eventually all of them disappeared. Not a trace left of the ghost of Jeremiah Danvers. “He’s gone.”

Lena watched as Alex’s shoulders started shaking, and she got wrapped up in a hug by all her friends. Maggie held her close as she let the woman rest her head on her shoulder. Kara hugged the her from behind, including Maggie in the hug as well. While James and Winn put their arms around the three of them, still effectively shielding them from the clapping crowd of guests. Lena swallowed nervously, trying to step back from the scene. Tried to remove herself from a moment she wasn’t a part of. But she couldn’t do it. Because Kara had reached back and had grabbed hold of her hand again. And as she tugged her closer without even looking back, Winn’s arm was suddenly on her shoulder and Maggie sent her a small smile while still consoling Alex. And Lena realised that she had missed something amidst all her worrying. Which she should probably be forgiven for, since it was still a relatively new thing. She’d just never really had this happen to her on this scale of quantity and gravity before:

Friends that needed her.

  


 

 

The food wasn't terrible.

That was the one positive Lena tried to hold on to, as she watched guest after guest step up to the newlyweds and congratulate them. It had taken a while for the couple to get to the nearby ballroom where the reception was being held, despite the fact it wasn't all that far from where they'd just had the improvised ceremony. And Lena suspected it was because Alex had needed another minute. Lena was trying and failing to not let that guilty feeling take hold of her. She swallowed as Alex and Maggie started walking up to her, and she figured it would be rude if she just turned around and ran for the hills. Not that that was possible, since Kara was still gripping her hand right now, not having let go since the wedding ceremony earlier.

“Um, Lena?” The youngest Luthor looked up, finding Alex in front of her with Maggie by her side. “Just… thank you.” Alex actually tried to give a small smile. “I… know we haven't always… gotten along. At all. But… I always found it hard to imagine this day without my dad. So just… thank you.” Alex shrugged, not able to find other words, so Lena just nodded back.

“Don't mention it.”

They just kept standing in front of each other, awkwardly looking anywhere but in each other’s eyes, while Kara and Maggie kept looking between them like proud parents whose toddlers were learning to interact with other kids. However, at that point someone saw fit to loudly proclaim it was time for the first dance between the two brides. And everyone else seemed to agree as they started gathering around the dancefloor.

“Wait,” Alex gently tugged Maggie back as she was about to lead her to the floor. “You pick a song.”

Maggie paused as she frowned at her wife. “But I thought-”

“I know,” Alex interjected. “But it reminds me of my dad.” She gave a sad smile. “I just… can you pick something else? Something that's only ours?”

Maggie sighed, smiling in understanding as she placed a kiss on the back of the woman's hand. “You got it, Danvers.”

“Hey,” Alex tugged her back again, “that's Mrs. Danvers to you.”

The detective showed off a dimpled grin as she briefly  stepped back to plant a kiss on her wife’s lips, before walking over to the audio setup and talk to the DJ. (Apparently she had, quote: ‘Let Alex have that one.’) Once Maggie stepped back to the dancefloor where Alex was waiting for her, all the guests had finally assembled around the floor as they looked on in silence. Lena and Kara stood front and centre while the alien woman squeezed Lena’s hand in excitement, as the music started playing.

 

 

Maggie theatrically extended her hand with a smirk and Alex smiled broadly as she stepped up to her. As she took Maggie’s hand, the woman instantly pulled her closer and they slowly started swaying back and forward. Lena looked on as Maggie seemed to whisper into Alex’s ear and when she asked about it later, the detective would explain she’d been telling her the lyrics. They moved together over the dancefloor as one, under the loving gazes of Eliza, J’onn, James and even Mesut, who was still sniffling as he watched the brides dance by. And Lena just kept looking on, as she breathed a sigh of relief.

“You okay?” Kara suddenly questioned, causing Lena to look at her.

“Yeah…” Lena cleared her throat, because her voice had sounded shaky at best. “I’m just glad I didn’t ruin everything.” She turned back to smile at the dancing newlyweds, so she missed the confusion that flashed over Kara’s face.

“What do you mean?” the alien woman questioned.

“I meant… Jeremiah,” Lena explained quietly, still entranced by the dancing figures of Maggie and her new wife. “I’m just glad Alex is mostly okay and… that I didn’t ruin the wedding. I worried, you know.” Lena shrugged lightly. “I had to go and pick the one hotel with poor electrical wiring for them, and then I had to go and reduce one of the brides to an emotional mess a few hours for the ceremony, so I’m just glad-”

“Can you stop doing that?”

Lena blinked in confusion, tearing her eyes away from the sight of Alex and Maggie moving together over the dancefloor as she shot Kara a confused look. And the alien woman looked back at her with an almost pained expression. But also with a determination that made Lena’s heart skip a beat, as the alien woman turned away from her sister’s dance and faced the youngest Luthor fully.

“Can you just… can you stop blaming yourself for things that aren’t your fault?” Kara whispered with intent. “Cause it hurts…” Kara suddenly brought Lena’s hand up between them, pressing it over her own heart, “…right here.”

Lena’s breath hitched in her throat, and she was vaguely aware that it must look strange that they were ignoring the brides sharing their first dance. But Lena’s attention was currently being pulled deep into the honest blue eyes that were staring at her own, as she could feel both their hearts beating fast; her own rattling against her ribs, while she could feel Kara’s beat away under the hand that the alien woman was still keeping pressed against her chest. And Lena was confused, because with Kara so close to her, her eyes so intently staring at her and the music swelling in the background, she knew for a fact why her heart was beating like crazy. But it didn’t explain why Kara would be nervous. Maybe it was the aforementioned music, maybe it was just her imagination, but it looked like Kara was getting even closer. Lena’s eyes fluttered, as she seemed to drown in the blue that were Kara’s eyes, while the woman’s face was definitely a lot closer now. And then-

“You guys are so lucky.”

Lena flinched in surprise and even the woman with Super-powered senses seemed to startle as they both jumped back a few inches and Kara actually let go of her hand. Lena swallowed as she looked to the side, where Winn was looking dreamily between them, and it was painfully obvious that he’d had a bit too much to drink.

“I mean Maggie and Alex are too, obviously,” Winn slurred, motioning at the dancefloor with his champagne flute while shifting unsteadily on his feet. “But sometimes I just don’t get Lyra, you know?” he whined as he seemed to turn his attention to Lena. “One second she’s, like, the clingiest girlfriend ever, and the next she doesn’t wanna come to Alex’s wedding.” Winn shook his head, as he pointed a finger at the youngest Luthor. “But you’re lucky,” he slurred. “At least your girlfrie-”

“Okay!” Lena interrupted, not so delicately slapping her hand over his mouth. “I think someone’s had enough to drink tonight,” she went for a dismissive chuckle and hoped that it sounded convincing, as she shot a nervous smile back at Kara. “Come on, you definitely need to lie down,” Lena proclaimed as she started dragging Winn away. “I’ll, um… I’ll be right back,” she said over her shoulder, as Kara just bit her lip and nodded in return. And Lena swallowed as she turned back and started forcefully dragging Winn back to his room, actually thankful for his drunken interruption. Because she was about 90 percent sure that she’d been about to do something incredibly stupid.

As Lena stepped towards the exit of the ballroom with Winn on her arm, she didn’t notice everyone applauding the brides when the song finished. She didn’t notice Kara missing it as well, as she was still looking after Lena. Neither of them noticed J’onn stepping in for a dance with Alex, nor did they notice Maggie stepping off the dancefloor and curiously walk up to the younger Danvers sister.

“Little Danvers? You okay there?”

“Yeah…” Kara let out a long sigh, still looking at Lena’s retreating form, “…I’m fine.”

“Right.” Maggie frowned, looking between Kara and the place she was staring at. Then a grin slowly formed on her lips. “So… you want some champagne?”

“No,” Kara responded distractedly, while still looking ahead. “I’m good, thanks.”

“Really?” Maggie questioned, as her grin turned mischievous. “Cause you sure look thirsty.”

 

 



 

 

 

The night before

 

A loud buzzing sound startled Alex from her sleep. She lunged out of bed, grabbing her phone to silence the alarm before it woke up Maggie, as she shivered at the absurdly low temperature of their room. She didn’t pay too much attention to it, however, nor to her phone telling her it was 2:30 AM, which meant her wedding was now only eight and a half hours away. Instead she spurted to their giant walk-in closet, quickly rummaging through her bag and pulling out the small monitor she’d hidden there. And she quickly turned it on, eager to find out what had triggered the motion sensors that she’d linked to her phone. The small screen before her lit up, showing an angled top down view of the hotel bedroom next door. Alex already had her gun in hand, ready to intervene when it became clear what the hell that woman was doing to reduce her sister to an emotional mess all the time, but instead she was met with the sight of Lena Luthor being soundly asleep.

Alex let out a sigh, slumping to sit on the floor and pulling her beanie further over her head in frustration more than anything. Because all that trouble of installing that camera and those sensors before those two had arrived at the hotel, and so far the most interesting thing she’d found out was that Lena Luthor slept on her side. Terrific. Alex frowned at the screen as the two single beds were a lot closer then she remembered them being, and since Kara was probably the only one strong enough to get those beds from their spot, she supposed she must’ve been the one to put them so close together that there was now only about a foot and a half of space between them.

Just as she noticed that the other bed was actually empty, her phone suddenly buzzed loudly again and Alex scrambled to silence it once more. And as she turned back towards the tiny screen, she noticed that the alien with a glass of water in her hand must’ve been the one to trigger her sensors twice. Alex shook her head at her sister’s image on the screen, who emptied her glass before putting it on the floor. (finally something dangerous going on. woohoo.) Alex kept frowning in near-accusation at her sister who was sitting on the edge of her bed and staring at the youngest Luthor, for being an incredible anti-climax to her awesomely laid out spying mission. But then Kara suddenly started talking.

“I think maybe I should talk to Jess,” the alien woman’s whispered voice sounded from the monitor, and Alex raised her eyebrows at the image. “You know, set the record straight.” She suddenly struggled to suppress a snort. “Straight… that was… unintentional,” the alien woman cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, this is not funny, right? Well, I mean it’s a little funny, isn’t it?”

Alex just kept shaking her head at the screen, because this was exactly the sort of crap she was concerned about. Why the hell was Kara talking to a sleeping Lena Luthor?! Seriously, that woman had to be messing with her head somehow! She kept watching as Kara wriggled herself into the space between the two beds and onto her knees, resting her arms on Lena’s mattress with her head resting on top of them.

“I mean, I suppose explaining to her that she’s wrong wouldn’t help with the dreams,” Kara continued in the same hushed tone, while the youngest Luthor slept through it all. “But I just don’t understand why she would think something like that. It just seems so random, you know? Like that would ever happen. Not that people shouldn’t want to, you know… with you…” Kara briefly lifted her arm to make a vague gesture and Alex rolled her eyes, because seriously Kara, the woman was sleeping!

“I mean, obviously I meant what I said; you’re beautiful. Not that people should only care about what you look like, of course,” she amended quickly. “Obviously there are other reasons. Like how you keep saving the world, for instance. Or how… how you always do the right thing, even if no one ever bothers to thank you. I mean, Rao, if the people I saved kept looking at me like I was going to do something bad any second I would get super angry. But you just carry on like it’s normal and Rao, I really wish you wouldn’t think it was normal. But you have patience for miles… yes, that’s what I was trying to say: you’re patient. And you’re brave.” Kara let out a sigh. “You’re so very brave… And then of course there’s the way you kept standing up to your mother, even though I know you still cared about her. But, man… your mother…” the alien woman huffed out an angry breath, trying to contain herself, but the noise made the youngest Luthor suddenly stir a little.

Kara froze for a moment, but then she let out a hushed chuckle. “Your nose just twitched.” She let out another soft giggle, before moving her arms closer as she rested her head on them again. “Well, anyway… Jess obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I mean, what could she have possibly seen? Hand holding? Hugs? Big deal. If it was true, we’d be doing… well, you know… more…” she huffed out another tiny breath. “But I never even… thought about… I mean, those dreams are clearly Jess’s fault. Like, here…” she scooted her arms even closer to the sleeping Luthor. “See? Nothing. I don’t want… I mean… I wouldn’t…” she audibly swallowed, before letting out a shaky breath, “really… that is… shouldn’t…”

Kara appeared to have forgotten that her mouth was still forming whispered words, as she stared intently at her best friend’s sleeping face. Her breaths got heavier though, as if she was nervous, despite just sitting still in between those two single beds. She sat motionless for a while, the only sound being Lena’s soft and sleepy breaths and Kara’s increasingly loud ones.

Then all of a sudden, Kara lifted her head from her arms and kissed Lena on the lips.

Someone made a soft, breathy sound, and it must’ve been Lena because Kara instantly pulled herself back, as the youngest Luthor shifted in her sleep. The alien woman sat completely still for a moment, but when Lena settled into place again, she suddenly super-speeded her way into her own bed. She pulled the comforter up under her chin while one hand appeared from under it to cover her mouth, her eyes staring in disbelief at the ceiling as if she couldn’t believe what just happened. Even on the tiny black and white screen, the intensely dark shade forming on her cheeks was perfectly visible.

Meanwhile, Alex just sat on the floor of her closet as she looked at the tiny monitor with her eyes almost popping out of her head.

 

What. The actual. Fuck.

 

Chapter Text

 

November 27th 2017

 

Things were different.

Not in an overwhelmingly obvious way, but things were slightly different. Lena still spent her days at CatCo, she still spent most evenings in her lab trying to get into that stupid Daxam Drive and either Kara, Jess, or a combined attack by both of them was usually still necessary to get her out of there. Some details were different, though. Like Kara holding her hand at every opportunity. And not just when they were within the safe confines of Kara’s apartment either. She’d seen fit to drag her to the lake during last week’s lunch (she was pretty sure there were ducks involved in her argument) but all Lena really remembered was the fact that Kara hadn’t let go of her hand until they’d gotten back to L-Corp. She even had to aggressively shake her head at Jess when they’d walked out the elevator, because the woman had looked like she was about to joyfully exclaim something really stupid at the sight of their joined hands.

In some of her more cynical moods, Lena thought that it was probably Kara being overbearing. That the woman was afraid to leave her alone after finding out what had really happened at the DEO following Lillian’s attack. But to be honest, it was hard to keep up that sort of pessimism when Kara seemed to find ways to spend any second of either of their spare time together. And being around Kara was obviously never a bad thing.

The other main thing that was different were the frequent visits to the DEO, made possible thanks to the fact that Alex didn’t give her the evil eye anymore. Not that she was there to socialize with her (she highly doubted they’d ever be close friends) but more so because of some interesting technology they had over there. Some technology that made her own attempts at recreating otherworldly portals completely superfluous, and whose existence a certain idiot had completely failed to mention to her.

(“Why didn’t you tell me you had a fully functional transmatter portal at the DEO?!!”)

(“You never asked!!”)

So that’s how Lena and her trusted sidekick ended up in front of said transmatter portal, readjusting the transmitter beam to be accompanied by a reciprocal tracking signal.

“All right,” Winn huffed, putting the cover back in place over the exposed wires of the control panel, “so you think this should be able to connect us with Maaldoria?”

Lena sighed, adjusting the parameters on her tablet and triple checking all of it. “Assuming your coordinates are correct, yes.”

“Well, they should be correct,” Winn mumbled, still screwing the back of the control panel back together. “We know where Maaldoria is, obviously, but the exact location of the portal is more of an educated guess.”

“It’s fine,” Lena absentmindedly waved her hand as she refocused on her tablet, “even if we can’t make contact at the first try, it’s just a loose signal. No harm done.”

“Well, yeah,” Winn drawled, “but if you overcharge the tracking signal you might overheat-”

“I know what I’m doing!” Lena interrupted, pausing her movements to give the man a warning look. Winn raised his hands defensively.

“All right, all right, it’s cool. No need to take out your deep internal struggle on me…”

Lena stopped her movements again, her stare turning annoyed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, well you know… this whole thing about getting Kara to see her ex again… while you’d probably much rather keep them as far away as possible…” Winn summed up, his tone light, but his eyes searching Lena’s expression.

“I just… want Kara to be happy,” she protested, looking over the imposing portal. “And besides, for all we know they’re not even really… exes. I mean, he had to leave, he didn’t…” Lena huffed, giving up on trying to finish that sentence. “Just hit the code and let’s give it a try,” she grumbled.

Winn looked unconvinced, but he moved in front of the panel anyway and started typing in the coordinates. “All right then… here goes nothing.” He dramatically slammed his entire hand on the panel (Lena knew for a fact that was completely unnecessary), and the large portal beside them instantly lit up, the purple light casting the room in an eerie glow. “Okay… okay…” Winn nervously muttered, moving beside Lena and checking the tablet over her shoulder. “So the tracking signal has been sent, and if it finds a transmatter portal on its path then it should-” he was cut off by the tablet in Lena’s hand buzzing loudly, as their tracker beam sent back an affirmative signal. Both of them were completely stunned for a moment.

“It worked,” Lena huffed incredulously.

“Ha! Of course it worked! We’re geniuses!”

Lena quirked an eyebrow at the man. “I see modesty still isn’t your-” she choked on the rest of her sentence, as suddenly a figure fell through the portal. It looked like he had jumped through at an alarming speed, as he rolled over the floor as if he’d been launched from a cannon before sliding to a stop a few feet in front of them. Lena instantly jumped back at this unknown entity appearing out of the depths of space, but Winn was giving her a weird look.

“Lena?” he questioned. “What’s wrong?”

It clicked almost instantly. Not just because of Winn’s total non-reaction, but also because now that the figure was slowly getting up and started looking around the room, Lena suddenly recognised him.

“Your highness?!”

  


 

 

“A revolution?!”

Lena nodded patiently, as she explained the situation to Alex who had gotten there later than the rest and was now giving her an incredulous look while standing beside her sister. Her sister who was already decked out in Supergirl gear and was all set to go.

“Yes,” Lena sighed, glancing over at the ghostly alien who was pacing restlessly. “Apparently Mon-el has been trying to restructure Maaldoria,” she explained, “and like you predicted most of the inhabitants apparently listened to him, because he’s technically their king now. But when he started dismantling the slave trade, some of the richer merchants got angry because their main source of income got shut down. And apparently they started a rebellion, and now they have this big plan to try and take him out tonight.”

Alex frowned at her. “And you know this because…”

“Because his father’s ghost fell through your portal and told me!” she hissed, glancing at the nearby agents who were thankfully out of earshot, before looking at the ghost in question again, who was still pacing back and forward. Lena sighed, and sent an accusatory glance towards Kara. “And apparently your sister thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to try and stop a revolution by herself, even when she doesn’t have any powers on the aforementioned planet.”

“I won’t be alone, I’ll have back-up! Plus yellow sun grenades!” Kara protested. She turned to her sister. “Alex, please tell her that me going along is only reasonable.”

“Why do I need to convince her?” Alex questioned distractedly as she adjusted her belt and holstered an alien-looking gun. “It’s not like she can stop you.” When she was met with silence she looked up, noticing Lena frowning at her and Kara looking offended. “I just meant…” she groaned and shook her head. “Look, Lena… we’re taking an entire team of agents along, plus that girl from the future, so everything is going to be fine.” She stepped closer and paused, before giving Lena an awkward pat on the shoulder. “I’m, uh… gonna go see if the team is ready.” She proceeded to step away and towards the team of agents that were gathered nearby, while Kara and Lena looked after her in slight disbelief.

“Wow,” Kara huffed. “I never thought I’d see Alex have a civilized conversation with you.” She turned to Lena with a wide smile, but the young CEO was still staring ahead in mild shock.

“I’m sorry…” Lena forced out, “but… did she just say ‘girl from the future’?!”

“Oh yeah. I didn’t mention that?”

Lena silently shook her head, not sure how these airheads managed to forget about things like transmatter portals just sitting around collecting dust, or those tiny, pesky little details like, you know, freakin’ time travel!!

Lena cleared her throat, deciding to definitely come back to the subject later, as she watched Kara glance back at her sister. “How is she doing?” Lena questioned carefully, causing Kara to turn back to her. “You know… with Jeremiah and everything.”

“Oh, well… she’s doing okay, for the most part,” Kara said unsurely. “I mean, now that we actually found his body it’s Eliza who’s doing worse, but…” Kara paused, letting out a breath as she scratched her head. “But it’s really weird, she keeps asking me how I’m doing. Obviously we talked a lot, and you know… I find it hard to believe he’s gone too…” Lena reached out and almost instinctively held the woman’s hand, the gesture almost being automatic since a few weeks. Kara briefly flashed a sad smile before continuing. “But even after talking about it for hours she keeps asking me: ‘Is there anything at all you would like to tell me?’ And then she asks me again. And again. And again.” Kara sighed as she shook her head. “I just don’t get it, it’s like she’s fishing for me to say something specific, but I’m completely lost over here.”

Lena was about to reassure her that it would all work out. And she knew that was an irresponsible promise to make, but comforting words were more important than logic sometimes. Which was rather ironic, since Lena found logic the most comforting thing in the world. (Well, maybe apart from the sensation of Kara’s hand holding her own, but that was neither here nor there.) Before she could convey any sort of reassuring sentiment however, she was startled by a voice coming from close by.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe it’s actually you.”

Lena blinked, turning her head in surprise at the very British-sounding voice and finding that it belonged to a woman with dark hair and dark eyes, who was wearing some sort of black gear and looking at her in suspiciously revering fashion. “I’m sorry,” Lena drawled, narrowing her eyes at the woman, “and you are?”

“Oh, my- my name is Imra Ardeen,” the woman breathed in that same revering tone. “I can’t tell you what an honour it is to meet you, I wasn’t sure I’d actually get to see this era in person.”

Lena frowned as she looked halfway back to Kara. “Is she the…?”

“The girl from the future. Yes, that would be her,” Kara affirmed.

“I’m sorry, I’m… I’m obviously not allowed to tell you about the future, but… seeing you both here working together, it’s just…” she huffed out a breath, “…it’s really surreal.”

Lena gave a tight-lipped smile, not sure how she should take that. Was there a future where Kara and her would not work together? That would be just absurd, wouldn’t it?

“Well, of course we help each other,” Kara gave a broad smile. “That’s what friends are for!”

The woman completely froze for a second. She darted her eyes unsurely between the two women in front of her, and Lena thought that if she really wasn’t supposed to give anything away about the future they should probably stop talking to each other. Because she seemed about as skilled as Kara when it came to hiding her emotions. “That’s what… friends… you mean that… you haven’t even…” Imra kept darting her eyes between the two of them and Lena threw a glance sideways, finding Kara equally confused, as this was starting to get weird. “Oh, wow, I had no idea we went that far back, I just…” she shook her head and seemingly stopped herself.

“Are you okay?” Kara asked, half-concerned, half-wary.

“Yes, no, I’m just…” she huffed out an incredulous laugh. “I’m fine, I just…” she gave the two of them a weird look, “…I sure hope I’ll be here to see it.”

Lena frowned. “See wh-”

“I’m sorry, I- I’ve said too much already,” Imra stammered as she started backing away. “Don’t worry about it.” She shot them one last nervous smile, before moving towards the collection of agents that were listening to Alex’s instructions.

“Well, she’s… odd,” Lena commented.

“It’s going to be fine,” Kara reassured her again. “She apparently founded a legion of Superheroes, so we’re gonna be in good hands.”

“Hm…” Lena frowned, still not happy about the whole situation. Then she suddenly had a thought. “I think I should come with you,” she proclaimed.

“What?! No, no. Nope, no way.”

“It makes sense,” Lena insisted. “With me there, we can use King Lar Gand to spy on any possible-”

“Prince.”

Lena blinked at the interruption as she turned to the ghost beside her. “What?”

The ghostly alien cleared his throat, before elaborating: “Due to my death, my son has now taken his place as regent of the lost kingdom of Daxam. Thus my title of King has passed on to him, which leaves me with the title reserved for regents who have left their power in other’s hands: that of Prince Lar Gand.”

“Right…” Lena shook her head at the superfluous information before turning back to Kara. “I was saying that we can use him as a spy to-”

“We’re all set!” Alex suddenly loudly proclaimed from across the room. “Winn, you ready?” The man gave her a nod from behind the panel, before slamming his entire hand against it (still completely unnecessary), causing the large portal to light up with that purple glow. “Kara, come on, let’s go,” Alex beckoned, already standing in front of the portal. Kara sighed as she turned back to Lena.

“Look, if we take you along, I’m just going to spend the whole time worrying something is going to happen to you.” Lena just sighed in response, not sure how she should feel about that. “It’s gonna be fine,” Kara insisted. “We’ll go over there, squash a rebellion, and be back before dinner, so you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Lena huffed out a humourless laugh. “I don’t think I’ll ever not worry.”

Kara didn’t answer. Instead she gave her an understanding smile and hugged her close.

“Before dark, Supergirl!”

“Coming, coming!”

Kara shook her head as she stepped back from Lena and next to her sister. She gave one last wave to Lena before jumping through the purple light, then Alex followed and after her all the agents, the girl from the future and another dark-haired girl in a blue sort of uniform went through one by one. While that was happening, Prince Lar Gand stepped back up to Lena.

“I need to go back,” he said seriously. “I cannot thank you enough for the times you helped my son. I just wish I could do something in return.”

Lena gave him a smile. “Don’t mention…” she stopped herself as she suddenly realised something. “Actually… do you remember the Daxam Drive I took from your ship with Mon-el?”

“Well… yes.”

“How do I get in to it?!” Lena asked intently. Because that thing was starting to drive her nuts. Pun definitely not intended.

“Oh… it has a fail-safe to prevent intrusion from alien entities, but it’s pretty basic. You just need to cut the green wire.”

Lena took a moment to gape at the ghostly alien. “That’s… that’s it?”

“Yes.” The man just stood there, no hint of irony on his face, and Lena wasn’t sure whether she should laugh at herself or kick herself for not figuring that out. “Well, I should go,” the former king of Daxam said as he glanced behind them at the group of agents of which there were only a few left now. “It was good to see you again, Ms. Luthor.” With that, he turned around and jumped through the portal just before the very last agent did the same, leaving the room a lot emptier than before.

Lena stood there for a second while Winn powered down the portal and the purple light disappeared, realising that she would finally be able to get access to revolutionary technology, before remembering that Kara was on a planet where she didn’t have her powers. And where she would come face to face with her ex-boyfriend again. Who might not be that much of an ex.

So much for her good mood lasting more than half a second.

“Well, now we just wait until they send us the signal that they want to come back,” Winn said.

“Hm…” Lena swallowed, a scary thought suddenly entering her mind. “She’ll come back, right?” she asked, all of a sudden not so certain of the answer, as Winn gave her a confused frown. “I mean… with Mon-el being there…”

“Pfft…” Winn scoffed, waving his hand dismissively. “Come one, like she would do that! I mean, Mon-el is cool and everything, but she’s not just going to abandon earth for him.” He shook his head at the youngest Luthor. “Honestly, the things you say sometimes…”

Lena was about to protest, when her train of thought was suddenly interrupted by someone clearing their throat behind her. “Agent Schott, Ms. Luthor,” an agent in black proclaimed from the doorway, and Lena was pretty sure that that one was called Vasquez. “Detective Sawyer is here to-” she halted and looked back when someone loudly cleared their throat from behind the door. “Oh, right… sorry.” She turned back towards the room. “I meant… Detective Danvers is here to see you.”

“Aaahhhh,” Maggie sighed contently while exaggeratedly leaning inside, and Vasquez made a face before leaving. “Just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?” She smiled broadly as she stepped inside and up to Lena and Winn.

“Hey there, miss Lena!” Mesut proclaimed loudly as he stepped into the room after the detective, and Lena nodded as she returned the ghost’s greeting.

“You just missed your wife,” Lena said, amused that Maggie still wouldn’t stop pointing out her new last name at every opportunity.

“No, I didn’t,” Maggie said while smirking, as she stepped next to their worktable. “I already said goodbye earlier. Why do you think she was late?” She wiggled her eyebrows, and Lena groaned as she scrunched her eyes closed.

“Please tell me you didn’t just come here to make inappropriate innuendo’s,” Lena said as she rubbed her temple.

“First of all; she’s my wife, so nothing we do is inappropriate. And secondly; I’m actually here with a lead on Roulette.”

Lena froze as her eyes shot open, and she was only vaguely aware of the excited gasp beside her as Winn fumbled around to get his badge out of his pocket. “You’re kidding,” she said slowly.

“Nope.” Maggie pulled out a picture of a woman with bags under her eyes and a defiant look into the camera. “Meet Delores Winters,” the detective announced, as Winn and Lena leaned closer towards the picture. “I came across her when I was forced to file the explosion of Roulette’s fight club as a cold case. She was apparently a thorn in the side of the NCPD quite a few years ago, before I even got transferred over here. You could say that in a way, she was Roulette’s predecessor, although her areas of interest were kind of… different.”

“Sounds ominous,” Winn commented.

“It kinda is. She had a fascination with aliens who have special powers, or who are just stronger than humans by nature, and she was apparently obsessed with finding ways to harness their powers. Something about wanting to stay young forever or something,” Maggie shrugged dismissively before carrying on. “As a matter of fact, she even got a skin transplant that made her get some sort of freezing power. It’s all pretty gnarly stuff.”

“So she’s like an evil Elsa?”

Lena blinked in confusion as she turned to Mesut. “Who?”

“You’ve never seen Frozen?!” the ghostly man exclaimed. “How is that legal?!”

“Hang on,” Winn suddenly interrupted, entirely missing the ghostly conversation in front of him. “This is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with Roulette?”

“Well,” Maggie started smugly, “being the awesome detective that I am, I found out that Delores Winters founded a wellness spa, slash plastic surgery clinic and that that clinic was co-founded by, guess who…” she paused and glanced around for dramatic effect. “A certain Veronica Sinclair.” She turned to Lena with a questioning look. “So what do you think, Luthor? Think she could be our mark?”

“Possibly,” Lena mused as she took the picture in her hands and observed the woman in it, “I mean, there’s no guarantee that Roulette actually cares about one of her business partners, but it’s the only lead we have, so…”

“Wait a minute,” Lena looked to her side where Mesut was frowning at her. “You’re still going with this plan of threatening someone Roulette cares about?” Mesut kept his frown in place as Lena responded affirmatively. “Pfft… whatever happened to ‘one evil doesn’t justify another’?” he questioned.

“This is different,” Lena protested. “For one, my sanity is on the line and besides, we’re not actually going to… you know… do it.” She put down the picture as she leaned her hands on the table, quite frankly already starting to feel uncomfortable now that they might be getting close to executing her plan. “It’s just a matter of leverage. A matter of me having something hanging over her head that’s as big of a threat to her as she could be to me.” Lena sighed deeply, before turning to Maggie. “So how does this work? Can you just arrest her?”

“Actually, that's where the problems start.” Lena let out a sigh, because of course it couldn't be simple. “Our friend Delores over here went off the grid years ago, and no one's seen her since. And unless we find something wrong with her clinic, I don't have an excuse to spend police resources on finding her. And although that clinic’s income is suspiciously high, it’s not exactly enough proof to launch an investigation into it either.”

Lena pinched the bridge of her nose. “So you're saying there's nothing we can do?”

“Actually,” Maggie drawled and Lena gave a wary frown at the mischievous grin the detective was showing, “I said we can't officially do anything. So with that in mind…”

She took a flyer out of her pocket and put it on the table, the words ‘Endless Winter Clinic and Health Spa’ boldly printed on the front.

“…how do you feel about taking a spa day?”

 


 

 

Health Spas were weird.

Lena had only been to a similar place once before, and quite frankly the constant lying down and doing nothing combined with strangers touching her all over had been enough to permanently scare her off from the whole concept. And yet, she found herself in such a setting once again, as she and Maggie had been guided to a changing room by an employee of The Endless Winter Clinic who had a plastic smile (both literally and figuratively).

Lena was now waiting in one of those changing rooms, which were basically just small cubicles reminiscent of a public pool, just as they’d planned. But when after a minute or so Mesut didn’t show up she started to worry. She was almost a the point of panicking, clutching her handbag tighter by the second, when the ghostly man suddenly stepped through the door. “What took you so long?” Lena whispered intently.

“Sorry, sorry, I just tried teleporting here.”

“Mesut,” Lena groaned quietly, “I already told you: as far as I know you have to actually know the place you’re teleporting to.”

“Are you sure?” he whispered back. “Because I’m pretty sure I moved a few inches to-”

“Will you just check when the camera turns?!” Lena hissed, about to lose her patience.

“Okay, okay,” Mesut grumbled, before leaning through the closed door and sticking his head out of the small changing room. “Aaaand… go!”

Lena quickly opened the door, (Mesut didn’t move, which looked really weird) and she skidded through the corridor before the camera could turn back and she quickly sneaked into the changing room Maggie had walked into. She let out a sigh of relief as she locked the door behind her.

“You already nervous, Luthor? We didn’t even get to the risky part yet.”

Lena threw an annoyed glance at Maggie, who was looking way too relaxed in her opinion. “I just don’t have the best track record when it comes to sneaking into places,” the young CEO responded coolly, as she put her handbag on the floor and started examining the ceiling.

“Well, I’m on your side this time, so now there’s no risk of me catching you.” The detective gave her a wink, and Lena rolled her eyes before zeroing in on her objective.

“It should be about there,” Lena pointed at a particular point in the ceiling. Maggie promptly propped herself against the wall of the small changing room, as Lena took out a cable from her bag, but at that point Mesut walked inside.

“Damn,” he whispered. “It just won’t work,” he muttered, apparently still sulking about his inability to teleport. “So, what exactly am I looking for again?” he asked looking at Lena, and the youngest Luthor breathed out of her nose in frustration, because they’d been over this at least twenty times.

“You’re looking for financial records,” she whispered. “It’s very likely we won’t find them in their system, so you’re looking for either physical files, or a separate server room.”

“Which you need because-”

“Because we need an excuse for the police to resume looking for Delores Winters!” Lena hissed. “And why are you whispering?! No one can hear you!”

“Well, you were whispering, and then she was whispering, so I just thought-”

“Can you just get a move on?!”

“Okay, okay,” the man said defensively (while still whispering), before he walked through the door on the other side and started exploring the building. Lena just shook her head, as she turned back to Maggie and frowned at the sight of her still propped against the wall and her hands folded together.

“You’re… giving me a boost?” she asked warily.

“Yeah, obviously.”

“I just thought… you were gonna-”

“Gonna magically float to the ceiling?” the detective asked sarcastically. “Look Luthor, one of us has to get up there and no offence, but I don’t see you lifting me off the floor.” Maggie pointedly motioned towards her clasped hands and after a second Lena relented as she stepped out of her heels and planted her foot; one hand steadying herself on Maggie’s shoulder while the other held on to her cable. She involuntarily squeaked when she got hoisted up and she steadied herself against the wall of the small changing room instead.

“You okay there?” Maggie asked from down below.

“I’m fine,” Lena responded curtly, while starting to push one of the ceiling panels out of its place, revealing a dusty compartment of the building’s inner workings. “I just don’t like heights,” she commented, as she looked around for the cable of the security network they were about to tap into.

“Heights?” Maggie snorted. “You’re barely three feet off the floor.”

“Will you just stand still?” Lena said, precariously balancing on her one foot, as she finally found what she was looking for.

“I’m trying, but not everyone is as strong as your girlfriend,” Maggie commented dryly. Lena ignored her as she carefully peeled away the plastic around the wire in the ceiling, before clipping the end of her cable onto the exposed copper underneath. She huffed as she climbed down, stumbling to the floor with less grace than she’d like, as she moved to take her laptop out of her handbag and attach the other end of the cable to it.

“Could you give the Kara stuff a rest already?” Lena grumbled as she typed away on her laptop and proceeded to hack into the building’s security grid. “It’s really not funny.”

“Actually, I think it’s hilarious,” Maggie snickered.

“Unrequited feelings are funny to you?”

“No, but oblivious dumbasses are.”

“What?”

“Miss Lena!” The youngest Luthor flinched in surprise, as Mesut suddenly stepped back into the small changing room. “I think I found something!” Lena raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to explain. “There’s this big door that kinda looks like a vault, and it’s separated from the rest of the rooms and it’s got a real complicated lock or something.”

“Did you check the other side?” Lena asked slowly.

“Well, yeah, but there’s just more rooms. Except it doesn’t look all fancy like the rest of the place, it looks more… you know… evil lair-like.”

“Hang on,” Lena returned her attention to her computer screen, where she accessed the network of security cameras. She scrolled past the one in the waiting room, the ones in the various hallways and several others, before she arrived at the one pointed at the door that Mesut had described. “Jackpot,” Lena mumbled, as Maggie moved to look over her shoulder. “They have a double-armoured door standing there, but there’s no security cameras on the other side of it,” Lena summed up. “Which means…”

“That there’s something on the other side that they don’t want to have visual evidence of,” Maggie finished for her.

“Exactly. So if you give me a second…” Lena started typing away again, as she very carefully waited for the right time to freeze every last security camera and loop all the ones that turned. After that, she went deeper into the system and managed to power down the armoured door and retrieve the security code. “Done. Let’s go,” Lena proclaimed, packing up her computer.

“Wait, isn’t it safer if I check out all those rooms?” Mesut asked confused.

“It would be,” Lena sighed as she retrieved her cable and stepped back into her heels, “but they don’t have any financial records in their system, so whether they’re hiding physical copies or a hard drive behind that door, we’re gonna have to go and get it ourselves.” Lena huffed out a breath, as she was definitely getting nervous now, but she kept her poise. And her dignity. “You check what’s ahead, okay?” she told Mesut, and he nodded as he stepped through the door again.

They stood at the ready, and after a few seconds Lena heard Mesut’s voice: “It’s clear!”

Lena swiftly stepped out of the changing room, with Maggie following closely behind, as they ran to the end of the hallway where Mesut was motioning towards them. They proceeded this way through the building, stopping at every corner so Mesut could scout the path ahead, and they even had to run two corridors back one time when an unsuspecting employee was headed their way. Eventually they made it to the door though, and Lena nervously wiped her hands before typing in the code that she’d seen a minute earlier on her computer. There was a click as the door unlocked, and Lena sighed a breath of relief as the giant armoured door opened and they snuck past it, careful to push it back again once they’d stepped through.

“Whoa…”

Lena turned around and saw what was giving Maggie pause. Because Mesut apparently wasn’t exaggerating about the resemblance to an evil lair. Gone were the plants that seemed to be standing in every corridor of the rest of the clinic, gone was the atmospheric lighting, gone was the calming music playing in the background and gone was any trace of a window. The walls were stark and bare, and the overhead lights flickered sometimes as it suddenly felt like they’d stepped into an underground parking lot after midnight.

“Damn,” Maggie whispered. “Subtlety really isn’t criminals strong suit, is it?” She chuckled briefly, but despite her attempt at humour she still pulled her gun out of her back pocket as they started walking through the neon-lights-lit corridor. Lena swallowed, as she now made sure to walk behind the detective with the firearm, as she nodded to Mesut to go and check ahead. And the ghostly man nodded in return, as he seemed to have turned just as serious by the change in atmosphere. They proceeded carefully, but suddenly Mesut’s voice sounded from around the corner.

“Oh, crap…”

Lena froze as she grabbed Maggie’s leather jacket, forcing her to stop, as she waited for some sort of clarification. When that didn’t happen, she softly called out for him. “Mesut?” she whispered hesitantly, while Maggie had now raised her gun toward the corner at the end of the corridor, while glancing between the spot she was pointing at and Lena.

“Oh yeah, sorry,” Mesut suddenly proclaimed. “It’s clear.”

Lena huffed out a breath that was equally annoyed as it was relieved, as she let go of Maggie and nodded at her, signalling that it was okay. When they rounded the corner, she gave Mesut an accusatory look as he was just standing there. “What was that about?” she asked annoyed, crossing her arms as she stepped next to him.

“It’s just…” Mesut pulled a face as he motioned ahead at the next piece of corridor, “…a lot.”

Lena turned to look at what he meant, and she felt her determination sag all the way to her shoes. Because there had to be at least a dozen doors on each side of the corridor, almost beckoning to the three would-be investigators that their evidence of embezzlement or affiliated wrongdoing could be behind any of them. Lena sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Crap,” she muttered. “Alright…” she stepped up to the first door and tried the handle, surprisingly finding it unlocked. She quickly peeked inside, seeing only a bunch of stacked up chairs and other unutilised furniture. “Mesut,” she started as she closed the first door, “you keep watch. We’ll check the rooms.” The ghostly man nodded and immediately ran for the end of the corridor.

Lena and Maggie now stepped up to the second room, the detective making a point of stepping inside first, her gun stretched out ‘just in case’. The first few rooms were remarkably ordinary. One was full of file cabins, and Lena’s heart had immediately jumped in excitement that they’d found what they were looking for, before realising that they just contained zoning permits and architectural plans. There were another few that contained medical equipment, which Lena found quite strange since the place freely advertised their performances of plastic surgery. So what was the point of hiding their equipment behind a secured door? Only at door number seven did they find something unusual. The unusual thing being that unlike the other rooms, this one was locked.

“Alright, Luthor,” the detective said smugly. “Step back.” She proceeded to step in front of the door as she brought her leg up and swiftly kicked at the door, just like Lena had seen her do once before. Unlike last time, however, the door didn’t budge and Maggie let out a strangled groan as she put her foot back down. “Reinforced lock,” the detective mumbled before grimacing and clutching her knee. “Fuck.”

Lena supressed the urge to laugh as Maggie limped a few steps while cursing under her breath, and instead turned to the side. “Mesut!” she whisper-shouted towards the end of the corridor. And as the man appeared around the corner with a questioning look, she motioned to him to get closer. “This one’s locked,” she explained, “can you take a look?”

“Yeah, sure.”

The ghostly man stepped inside, leaving Lena and Maggie waiting for him on the other side. The detective had apparently recomposed herself, glancing from one side of the corridor to the other as the seconds ticked away, when she suddenly spoke up: “So about the Kara stuff…” she gave her a sideways glance while Lena rolled her eyes, “…I’m just curious about something.”

“About what?” Lena asked annoyed.

“Well… what do you think that two people who are going out together would do?”

“What kind of a question is that?”

“Well,” Maggie shrugged and flashed one of her dimpled grins, “I’m just saying that, by the way you two go out to romantic dinners, hang out every evening and hold hands all the time, one might think you two are already dating.” The detective kept giving her that amused look, but Lena wasn’t in the mood.

“That’s just Jess jumping to conclusions,” Lena protested. “Kara’s just… affectionate,” she said hesitantly. “I mean… best friends are supposed to be close, right?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

Lena huffed out an annoyed breath as she frowned at Maggie’s self-satisfied look, but suddenly they both heard a loud scream. Or at least that’s what Lena thought, but as she jumped up in surprise she noticed that Maggie hadn’t heard anything. And that that scream was definitely Mesut. As if on cue, the man suddenly fell backwards out of the room, scurrying away on the floor as if the room had physically burned him. He heaved loudly as he pointed a shaking finger at the locked door and struggled to form words.

Lena stepped closer, feeling concerned. “Mesut, what happened?”

“They… it… it’s… corpses…” he heaved, looking completely shaken. “They… they have… dead aliens… and arms and legs… and claws, horns and more… it’s full of it… the whole room, it’s…” he swallowed harshly, as he gave Lena a scared look, but before the youngest Luthor could even process that information, she suddenly heard another voice coming from behind her.

“This is a restricted area.”

Lena spun around immediately, as Maggie snapped her head up as well. She’d been so distracted by Mesut, and the detective by Lena’s reaction to him, that they’d completely missed the man they were currently looking at walking around the corner that Mesut had previously been guarding. And Lena noticed his expensive shoes, his Rolex and his dark hair that was slicked back with an absurd amount of gel. He was looking at them with a deep frown, his eyes darting suspiciously between the two women. Lena was frozen in place, but Maggie cleared her throat and composed herself.

“Detective Danvers, NCPD,” she announced boldly, as she flashed her badge. “We have a search warrant on suspected illegal activity,” she improvised. Lena was impressed by the quick recovery from the shock, but the man with the slicked back hair seemed less impressed.

“Well, that’s a shame,” he said in an amused tone. And Lena didn’t like the sound of it, because he was starting to show a grin. “I’m afraid you won’t be able to get back to your treatments any time soon, then.” He snapped his fingers, and before Lena knew what was happening, five more men suddenly appeared from behind the corner, every last one of them pointing an assault rifle at their face. Lena’s insides froze, as Maggie appeared to push her back out of instinct, stepping in front of the youngest Luthor with her lone gun pointing at the five armed grunts. “I suggest you put that down,” the dark-haired man mused arrogantly, “unless you want to redecorate the floor with blood.”

Maggie was breathing heavier, but she didn’t lower her gun as she took a step back, pushing Lena along. The youngest Luthor was definitely panicking now, despite keeping her cool exterior. She glanced at her left wrist, looking at the watch that could summon Supergirl. But with Kara lightyears away on an alien planet somewhere, it was completely useless. She glanced back up at the last unlocked door, but it was too far away to make a run for it. She glanced to her right, where Mesut had jumped to his feet and was looking from left to right with a panicked expression on his face. And looking at the ghostly man who was muttering to himself with his hands in his hair she suddenly saw it. She suddenly saw a way out of this mess.

Lena turned her head slightly, putting her right profile out of view of the armed thugs and their boss as she brought a hand up to her ear. “They’re inside,” she proclaimed with a confidence she didn’t feel, making sure everyone heard, as she looked at Maggie. “They’ve started doing a sweep of the room,” she proclaimed, and the detective looked at her over her shoulder with a confused expression that screamed; ‘what the hell are you doing?’

Lena instead turned her gaze to the men ahead, their leader squinting his eyes at her. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” she started, her voice cool and detached, “but you’re currently being infiltrated.” She paused, as she watched the grunts give each other sideways looks. “So I suggest you lay down your weapons before anyone gets hurt.”

For a second, nobody moved as Lena and the man with the slicked back hair just stared at each other intently, while Maggie and the grunts kept their guns pointed at each other. Then the man started grinning. “You’re bluffing,” he stated confidently.

“Am I?” Lena countered, giving the man her best corporate glare. “You’re absolutely sure there isn’t a tactical team behind that door?” Lena nodded to the side at the door with the reinforced lock. “Because if there isn’t… there would be no way they could tell me exactly what they’re finding in there… would there, now?” Lena very slowly turned her head, bringing her hand to her ear again, as if listening to an imaginary comm in her ear. And she took the opportunity to stare directly at Mesut, trying to force him to understand what she was thinking through sheer willpower.

The ghostly man paused for an agonisingly long second… and then he got the hint.

She barely saw his eyes widen in understanding, before he sprinted back into the room he’d just stumbled out of, basically jumping through the door. The man with the slicked back hair was snickering now, apparently thinking he’d successfully called her out, but thankfully she heard Mesut shouting from inside the room: “There’s a glass case in the corner, all the way in the back!! There’s- there’s only horns and claws and other stuff… you know, hard stuff… ”

“So you keep the preservable goods in a glass case?” Lena said, raising an eyebrow at the man and his armed subordinates, whose expressions seemed to harden, all previous amusement suddenly gone. “Very posh.”

“There’s, like… some sort of water tank!!” she heard Mesut yelling. “There’s floating things and I think… ugh!! Those are brains!!”

“A tank of cerebrospinal fluid?” Lena asked, squinting her eyes at the men who were now exchanging worried glances. “How very advanced of you,” Lena remarked condescendingly, buying Mesut some time more than anything.

“The rest are just freezer racks!!” Mesut continued his shouted report, despite his trembling voice. “There’s arms and legs and… no wait, there’s a separate compartment with- ah, shit, that’s a heart!!”

“I’m impressed,” Lena remarked sarcastically, “you at least had the foresight to separate internal organs from other limbs. One would almost say you know what you’re doing. Although freezer racks, really? Are you running a butcher shop or a second-rate villain lair?”

The men with the rifles were now muttering to each other as they all sent wary glances to the door. But although Lena noticed the man with the slicked back hair looking more angry and more worried than before, he was still hesitating. And when Mesut reappeared from inside the room, looking like he was about to be sick and just shrugging his shoulders as if to say ‘that’s all there is’, Lena realised she had to take it a step further. So she went for broke. She calmly got on her knees, never changing her cool and calm expression, while gently tugging at Maggie’s sleeve to signal her to do the same. When the detective looked at her, she seemed completely lost, but she seemed to just roll with it. And Lena was incredibly relieved, despite forcing herself not to show it.

“What- what are you doing?” the man in front of them stammered.

“Well, it sounds like they’re almost done sweeping the room,” Lena said calmly, as she now laid down on her stomach and leaned on her forearms. And after a moment of hesitation, Maggie followed her lead. “And the team is starting to get worried that we didn’t give them the all clear,” Lena continued while never breaking eye contact with the man, who was now looking frantically between the youngest Luthor and the offending door. “I’m afraid they’re the ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ kind of fellows. Just the mentality that you get amongst two dozen special op agents, I guess. So if you don’t mind, we’re just getting out of dodge.” Lena kept staring at the man who was now breathing heavily while his eyes kept darting back and forward, and the armed men behind them were now looking downright panicked. “Enjoy the bullet storm,” Lena scoffed, as she decided to go all in and put her hands behind her head and finally break eye contact. Laying her head down against the cold floor, while she noticed Maggie seemingly fighting every instinct in her body, as she slowly did the same despite never letting go of her gun.

The silence lasted half a second… but half a second had never lasted so long.

“Alright, alright!!” the panicked shout above her head sounded. “Stand down!! Stand down, I said!! Tell them it’s clear, woman!!”

Lena thought she’d snapped her head up fast, but when she looked up, Maggie had already bounded across the corridor and had kicked the men’s discarded rifles to the side. “On the ground!! Hands behind your back!!” Maggie yelled, frantically reaching for the inside pocket of her leather jacket as she started pulling out several plastic handcuffs. Lena quickly got to her feet as she watched all six men follow Maggie’s orders, and she feigned reassuring the imaginary tactical team through her comm just to make sure they didn’t do anything stupid. She watched as Maggie started handcuffing all of them, but when Lena went to pick up one of the discarded rifles the detective aggressively shook her head at her.

After restraining the last man and calling for back up, Maggie suddenly grabbed Lena by her arm and dragged her out of earshot. “You need to get out of here. Now.”

Lena paused, as she gave the woman a confused look. “I can’t leave you alone with six guys who are gonna be livid when they realise-”

“Do you remember your last name?!” Maggie interrupted her. “You don’t need to get caught in a building with dissected aliens, and you don’t need your fingerprints on rifles that were probably obtained illegally! Especially with McConnell trying to find any excuse to incriminate you!”

Lena shook her head in confusion. “That guy is still at it?!” she asked incredulously. “But Jeremiah told us where to find dr. Runnels’ body,” she protested. “McConnell knows how mother got her hands on the alien detection technology now, why would he still-”

“Because he’s a fucking asshole, Luthor!!” Maggie hissed, throwing a wary glance at the handcuffed men behind her. “So just get out of here before you give him something concrete to latch onto again!!” Lena opened and closed her mouth as she hesitated for a moment. “Go!!” Maggie insisted.

Lena reluctantly backed away, darting her eyes between her friend and the men behind her, before turning around and starting to run for the exit.

  


 

 

Lena nervously tapped her foot while she sipped her coffee.

She was sitting in a booth in a small diner that didn’t look like it was used to having customers. Their toast was disgusting, but the place was only two streets removed from the clinic she just escaped and she’d actually managed to see several police cars racing that way over half an hour ago. Lena let her eyes go over the deserted diner, as she’d been getting more nervous about leaving Maggie alone every passing minute. However, after sending Mesut back to find out what was happening, he’d reassured her that she was just processing evidence. He’d also subsequently left. Apparently he’d spotted a cinema nearby. (“I’m traumatized and I need a distraction, all right?! You’re just gonna talk about stuff I have to omit anyway!”)

Lena’s head suddenly shot up at the sound of the door opening, and she immediately jumped out of her seat when she noticed it was Maggie. “Finally!!” she exclaimed. “I’ve been worried sick over here!” Maggie just hummed as she patted Lena on the back in response to the hug she received.

“Alright, alright, don’t get clingy. I’m a married woman, you know?”

“Yes,” Lena chuckled as she stepped back. “So you keep reminding everyone.” They both sat down in the booth and Lena noticed that despite her joking tone, Maggie’s expression remained very serious. “I suppose it would be naïve to hope that Delores Winters left a forwarding address lying around?”

“Forget about that for a second, Luthor. We’ve got bigger problems.” Maggie leaned closer with her elbows on the table, her expression still very grim. “So that guy back there, the one with enough gel in his hair to stick a Toyota to a wall, he actually ran the shady side of the business. He claims not to know where Delores Winters is, but he did confirm that Roulette used to sell them the bodies of aliens that didn’t survive in her fight club.”

“What on earth would they need that for?!” Lena asked in disgust.

“Well, apparently the ‘plastic surgeries’ they performed there were not exactly… conventional. If you had enough money, they could get you a skin transplant, so you’d be immune to certain toxins, or replace an arm with a much stronger alien variant and so on. They did more procedures, but those are just some of the less nasty ones.” Maggie cleared her throat, and Lena was thankful that her innate curiosity was muted by the revolting nature of the information. “But here’s the thing… they actually kept track of where they got all those corpses. Every purchase, every single body, to the last limb is accounted for in their records. And I quickly went over them, you know, to confirm that Roulette delivered to them before a colleague would bag the evidence. But…” Maggie sighed and shifted in her seat again, “…while she used to sell to them regularly when her first fight club was still running… lately…” Maggie fell quiet as she let out another sigh and Lena was starting to feel anxious.

“What?!” she exclaimed, sitting on the edge of her seat. “Just spit it out! What is it?!”

Maggie wringed her hands together before looking at Lena again with a concerned expression. “They’d been scraping them together since Roulette’s fight club got shut down,” Maggie started slowly. “A murder victim here, a homeless alien there, barely getting by, apparently. Roulette sold them one last batch in May, but after that… they found a regular supplier again.” Maggie paused once more, clenching her jaw as she looked over Lena’s face. But just as Lena was about to lose her patience, the woman spoke up again. “It’s Cadmus.”

Lena’s eyes went wide, searching Maggie’s face in disbelief, but the woman kept looking back at her with that grave expression in place. “But that’s… not possible,” Lena started weakly. “I thought the whole thing just crumbled after mother died. I mean… they haven’t done anything since…”

“Nothing obvious,” Maggie corrected. “But like I just said, they’ve been selling alien corpses to the Endless Winter Clinic. Do you remember I told you that I got put in charge of a string of alien kidnappings?” Maggie asked, and Lena just nodded back. “Well, I guess we know who’s behind it now. Or at least what organisation.” Maggie sighed as she reached out and took a swig of Lena’s coffee. “I’m not sure why they’re suddenly trying to be subtle, although I guess it’s not uncommon for a criminal organisation to lay low for a while after a shift in power.”

“Wait a minute,” Lena frowned. “So do you suppose… they’re the ones who helped Henshaw escape?”

“That seems likely,” Maggie nodded.

“And… Delores Winters…” Lena started thoughtfully, “…do you think she might be… in charge of Cadmus now?”

Maggie shook her head at her. “It’s possible, but I don’t think we should jump to conclusions. But hey, look on the bright side,” she huffed out a humourless laugh, “at least now I have a good excuse to spend police resources on finding her.”

Lena gave a smile that more resembled a grimace, as she hadn’t thought that her problems could have gotten even worse. Well, turns out that old saying was true. Things can always get worse. Before she could think any deeper about it however, both hers and Maggie’s phones suddenly buzzed. As she took it out of her pocket, she just had time to read Winn’s text, before Maggie exclaimed it’s content: “They’re back!”

And as Lena would find out later, everything had worked out just fine. Kara and company had squashed a rebellion and had come right back, just as promised. She’d been prepared to console Kara, ready to put her own feelings aside and listen to how hard it was to leave Mon-el behind another time. But Kara had seemed genuinely fine, as she’d just wrapped her up in a tight hug and told her she’d missed her. Lena didn’t miss the beat her heart skipped, nor did she miss Maggie’s pointed look at their interaction. But despite the Supergirl mission going smoothly, despite Kara seeming fine, and despite witnessing the miracle of her computer finally being able to connect with the Daxam Drive thanks to Lar Gand’s instructions, she still didn’t sleep easy that night. She didn’t sleep easy because of Cadmus. Because despite the fact that her mother wasn’t even leading it anymore, Cadmus was still a product of the Luthor madness.

And Lena wanted… no, needed to put an end to it.

 

 



 

 

 

Cyborg Superman woke with a start.

His robotic eye immediately lit up, as he sat up straight while scanning his surroundings. He growled while he looked around the cubical cell with see-through walls that he was trapped in, as he clearly wasn’t in that transportation van anymore. As he got up from the floor and gazed around his new prison, he caught sight of the figure sitting in a chair in the otherwise empty room. He froze for a moment, before letting out a primal roar and lunging in that direction, only causing him to slam into the apparently impervious confines of his cell. The hooded figure just gave him a sly grin from the chair, slowly getting up before approaching the odd cell, while repeatedly flicking the lid of a metallic lighter.

“Welcome back among the living, Henshaw.”

“You!” the cyborg growled, as he sent a hateful glare in the figure’s direction. “You deserted me in Metropolis!”

“Oh, I think you have your facts wrong there,” the figure drawled, looking the cyborg over with bemusement. “You see, I never actually left National City. So I think ‘deserted’ isn’t the best way to put it.” The cyborg just growled in response, shooting a blue beam from his robotic eye, but it did nothing to damage the walls of his see-through prison. “Don’t waste your energy,” the figure spoke calmly, while appearing more interested in flicking the lid of the lighter than Henshaw’s anger. “I understand why you might resent me, but you should know that I was simply thinking of the bigger picture. Lillian Luthor was smart in many ways, but her ego was too big for her own good.” The figure let out a measured laugh, seemingly unaffected by the increasingly animalistic rage on Henshaw’s face, while pacing back and forward in front of the cell. “She really had a hard time learning from her mistakes,” the hooded figure mused. “Her daughter thwarted her plans multiple times, and still she could not predict how her final mission was going to end. Cadmus will be much better off without that woman’s ego in the way,” the figure continued. “With her gone, we will finally be able to move forward in trying to defend ourselves, instead of constantly posturing about our superiority or engaging in wild goose chases after Supergirl. If only she would have realised that it is so much easier to operate out of the shadows…”

The figure came to a stop and flicked the lid of the metallic lighter closed, opting to finally give the cyborg some acknowledgement. “That is why I brought you here, Henshaw. To offer you a place in the new and improved Cadmus. One with a practical leader, instead of a self-centred, superficial millionaire with a personal vendetta against Supergirl.”

“I will never work for you!” The cyborg emphasized his statement by bashing his fists against the confines of his cell. The hooded figure grinned again, seemingly unaffected by Henshaw’s outburst, before taking out a small remote-like device and pointing it at the see-through cell.

“I thought you might say that,” the figure responded while pressing a button on the device. Instantly, the cyborg let out an angry growl as he clutched his left shoulder in pain. “Did you know…” the figure started calmly, resuming the flicking of the metallic lighter, “…there once was a study claiming that smoking actually prevents cancer?”

The cyborg didn’t appear to be listening as he kept clutching his shoulder, his eyes widening as a beeping sound seemed to be coming from that particular limb.

“Obviously no one was eager to encourage people to start smoking several packs a day. But don’t you think it would be worth it?”

The cyborg was now panting as he tugged his shirt aside to look at his shoulder, his eyes widening as he saw a red flashing light from under his skin accompanying the increasingly fast beeping sound.

“Don’t you think exterminating such a heinous parasite would be worth the risk of any side effects? Don’t you think that sometimes one evil can justify another? Because I do.”

Henshaw started clawing at his shoulder, as both the beeping and the figure’s voice intensified.

“It’s a shame you won’t be joining us, because Cadmus as a whole will start being more practical now. No more posturing, or bold grandiose gestures to try and win over the people’s approval. The people will start thinking practically. Now that I’m in charge, they will see us as the necessary evil that we are.” The figure grinned once more while stepping up to the cell, as the incessant beeping turned to one long sound, and the cyborg gave the hooded figure one last hateful look. “They will call me… Cigarette.”

Cyborg Superman didn’t get a chance respond, however… because the man formerly known as Hank Henshaw was suddenly blown to pieces.

The see-through walls shook in their place, but the cell did its job of containing the blast. The hooded figure simply stood there, looking over the walls that were no longer see-through. Instead… they were now stained red. The blast had signalled the end of the incessant beeping, leaving the room in complete silence. Deadly silence.

 

At least until Cigarette resumed flicking the lid of the metallic lighter.

 

 

Cigarette

Chapter Text

 

December 18th 2017

 

“Thank you, Carl.”

Lena smiled at the alien man as he removed the picture from the wall near the booth she was sitting in, and he appeared to pout while he walked away. Or at least as close as someone whose face consisted mostly of scales could come to pouting. Winn made a disapproving sound as he shook his head at her from the other side of the booth.

“That was cold, dude.”

“What?” Lena frowned at him. “I just don’t want my picture hanging on the wall of some bar,” she protested.

She shifted in her seat as she looked around; the alien dive bar almost being familiar at this point, as she was supposed to be having lunch here with Maggie and Winn. Of course lunch with Kara was almost sacred at this point and usually she wouldn’t trade that for anything, but apparently having a Worldkiller on the loose meant working overtime. And Maggie had been called back to the precinct after just three minutes (with Mesut obviously still tagging along), but not before giving them an update on the Roulette and Delores Winters situation.

Finding Delores Winters had now become one of the priorities of the NCPD, since with the discovery of the Endless Winter Clinic’s illegal activities they had finally found something to lock her away for. They hadn’t found her yet, but Lena was actually glad about that, since she still hadn’t quite figured out how to go about threatening to harm her to Roulette’s face. Along with the re-emergence of Cadmus, it was one of those things that kept her up at night.

Maggie had filled the few minutes she was actually there by extensively complaining about McConnell who, even with Cadmus’ survival being discovered, still refused to have the metal remains of those floating turrets analysed by anyone outside of the NCPD, despite the fact their science lab was a joke compared to that of the DEO. Lena had questioned why the DEO couldn’t just confiscate the evidence, but apparently that would put Maggie in a legally uncomfortable position. Because she wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone about ongoing investigations, so if the feds showed up with knowledge of those metal remains, they would be well aware of how that had gotten out. (Apparently Maggie wouldn’t shut up about her new last name at work, either.)

“Oh, come on!” Winn continued to admonish her, as Lena sighed and focused her attention back onto him. “They just want their MONUMENT on display!”

“It’s a picture of my face, it’s not a-”

“The Master Of Necessary Underworld Meddling to Ensure Nirvana Transcendence!”

Lena rolled her eyes. “You’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren’t you? And I’m still not a hero.” Winn made a disapproving face, but at that point a melodic voice suddenly grabbed Lena’s attention.

“Lena Luthor?”

Lena turned her head to see who the voice belonged to, only to gulp in surprise. Because the owner of the sweet and melodic voice was a woman who was standing next to their table. And saying that she was large would be a gross understatement. She was well over six feet tall, her blonde hair in a long braid and had she not been standing so close, Lena might have laughed at the sight of her. Because the size of her muscles was borderline cartoonish. Lena swallowed as she noticed the woman give her a questioning look.

“Um… yes,” she started carefully. “Can I help you?”

“According to Roulette, you can.”

Lena barely flinched anymore as she took her phone out of her pocket, almost on autopilot. She glanced around as she got up, but no one seemed to be questioning her talking to thin air. Then again, since they’d found out about the Medusa virus, it seemed almost impossible for Lena to do anything wrong in the eyes of the regulars. “We need a quiet place to talk,” Lena stated calmly while avoiding eye contact with the large ghostly woman, as she headed for the door while the ghost and Winn followed her, the man clearly already realising what was going on since he was starting to take out his badge. Once they’d made it outside Lena made sure to scan the alley, ensuring that there was no one nearby, although she kept her phone to her ear just in case. She finally laid her eyes on the ghostly woman again.

“Um… pardon the question,” Lena started slowly, looking the woman up and down, “but where are you from?”

“Connecticut.”

“Oh…” Lena cleared her throat as she tried to hide her surprise, feeling relieved she hadn’t asked about her home planet instead. “Wait a minute,” Lena said, remembering something. “Before we continue, did Roulette order you to follow someone? And if so what were their names?”

“Yes, actually,” the woman said with surprise, “I had to follow a woman named Hilda Forsberg.”

“Thank you,” Lena nodded, mentally filing the name away, before refocusing on the task at hand. “Well… go ahead. Who are you? What do you need help with? Tell me everything.”

“My name is Anna Burik,” the woman started, arms crossed. “I think my boyfriend could use your help.”

“Oh…” Lena cleared her throat again, because she really needed to stop making assumptions.

“He’s not been doing great since I died,” Anna started, her melodic voice suddenly dripping with sadness as she crossed the tree trunks she had as arms. “I mean, I’m not a doctor or anything, but if what he has isn’t depression then I don’t know what is. Ever since he found out about the explosion, he just hasn’t been the same. I was the security guard for Roulette,” she explained, and Lena nodded, because of course she was. “But anyway, he stopped talking to people. He just… sits at home every night and… he was distracted at work, which is probably why you fired him, and now-”

“Wait a minute,” Lena interrupted with her hand stretched out. “What do you mean I fired him?! Don’t tell me…” Lena went over her employees in her head, but the release of the entire PR department had been personally handled by Jess (she’d insisted quite vehemently), which only left- “Trevor?” Lena asked incredulously. “Trevor, my former driver, is your boyfriend?” Anna just nodded in return, but suddenly Winn interrupted them.

“You fired Trevor?” he asked surprised.

“Well, yeah,” she said defensively, very conscious of how close the man’s dead girlfriend was standing. “You saw for yourself how he kept failing to show up.”

“He was dealing with my death,” Anna interjected, sadly rather than judging.

“I didn’t know that!” Lena protested. “Look, I didn’t hire anyone else yet, if he needs his job back-”

“No,” Anna said, suddenly more decisive. “His job just paid the bills. He needs to do what makes him happy again. He needs to start wrestling again.”

Lena paused, huffing out an incredulous laugh as she looked at the ghostly woman. “Trevor… is a wrestler?” she asked sceptically. “My driver for over two years, Trevor Mann, is a wrestler?” she repeated.

“Is that funny?” Anna asked as a frown started forming.

“No, no, I- I just…” Lena faltered, not sure what she was about to say. He wasn’t very tall? He wasn’t half as large as the woman currently standing in front of her? It was ironic that a wrestler had been right under Sam’s nose and the girl hadn’t noticed? Lena shook her head, trying to move past the awkwardness. “So, um… were you a wrestler too?”

“Oh, god no,” the woman scoffed. “I think the whole concept is stupid.” Anna huffed out a breath, but explained upon seeing Lena’s confused expression. “But it’s what Trevor loved to do. What he still loves, but… I don’t know, it’s like he’s just given up on everything. Like he doesn’t want to do anything anymore and… and he was supposed to go to this important try-out later this month, but now… please, Ms. Luthor you have to help him.”

Lena swallowed as she watched the pleading face of the very large woman with the contrastingly melodic voice. It’s not that she didn’t want to help her former driver. I mean, for over two years he had been a model employee. The only problem was that, even with all the goodwill in the world, Lena didn’t think she was qualified to cure depression of all thinks.

“I’ve thought about it, and I think it would really help if you got his gym bag to him.”

Lena blinked, turning to the ghostly woman with a frown as she thought that she must’ve surely misheard her. “I’m sorry, what?”

“His gym bag,” Anna repeated as if that was completely logical. “Most of his wrestling gear is in it. He left it in his locker at Goldman’s Gym three months ago and just… left it there. It’s like he’s just trying to distance himself from everything, but I’m sure if it gets put under his nose again then-”

“No, no, just stop,” Lena interrupted, waving her hand in a dismissive motion because now she’d really had enough. “Assuming that seeing pieces of clothing would actually motivate him to change his behaviour, which I cannot stress enough is a long shot by any stretch of the imagination, then you’re still asking me to break into a business. It’s not that I don’t want to help you,” Lena tried to reassure the woman who was starting to look distressed, “but I have a really bad track record when it comes to breaking and entering. And I’m assuming this gym has at least some sort of security measures?”

Anna hesitated for a moment. “Well… yeah, they have security cameras.”

Lena nodded her head. “Well, there you go.” She swallowed as Anna was looking increasingly annoyed. “Look,” Lena sighed, “I would give it a shot if I genuinely thought that it would help or if I could just walk in and out of a building with cameras and steal something with no chance of getting caught, but I’m afraid that my history… has proven…” Lena faltered as she looked over to the side, where Winn was starting to chuckle while looking between the young CEO and the empty space. “What’s so funny?” Lena asked with a suspicious frown, as the man’s grin only seemed to grow wider.

“Have I ever mentioned…” he started while pulling out his phone, “…that I have an awesome girlfriend?"

  


 

 

Winn was casually leaning against the Guardian van.

Lena figured that’s what he must’ve thought it looked like anyway, but she on the other hand thought that his shifting eyes and nervous expression made him look pretty suspicious. Lena herself was pretending to be busy on her phone as she stood a few steps away, seeing as the two of them and Anna were waiting around the corner from Goldman’s Gym where Lyra was currently doing their dirty work for them.

(Apparently the alien woman was invisible to cameras. Honestly, the things Winn forgets to mention…)

“You know, I highly doubt that you can develop muscle fibre as a ghost,” Lena remarked as she watched Anna doing push-ups on the pavement.

“It’s a reflex,” the large ghostly woman mumbled without stopping. “I get restless when I’m nervous.” She huffed out a breath as she finished and got back to her feet, while Lena just hummed while looking at the building where Lyra was currently committing theft.

“I still don’t get why a piece of clothing would be so important,” Lena grumbled, as she glanced to her side where Anna was now standing up and staring ahead with her arms crossed.

“They're his favourite tights; he wore them when he won the best of the super juniors last year. It's a prestigious tournament,” she explained upon seeing Lena's confused face. “It will help remind him what he’s accomplished and what he still wanted to do. I mean, he was supposed to go to this important try-out, but I don’t think he even plans to go anymore.” She  paused, looking at the side of the building. “I just think he didn't want to come here anymore,” she sighed. “This is where we met.  We always teased each other about what we do, you know… I’d make fun of wrestling, he’d make fun of bodybuilding. It’s just… kind of what we did…” Lena watched as Anna fiddled with her massive fingers while staring off into the distance, but at that point Lyra suddenly emerged from around the corner. A red and white gym bag casually slung over her shoulder.

“Wow, you got it!” Winn exclaimed as he took the bag from his girlfriend. “Any problems?”

“With this place?” Lyra scoffed as she put her hands on her hips. “Must be the easiest job I've ever done.”

“Thank you,” Lena smiled at the alien woman, but Lyra gave her a less than friendly look before turning back to Winn.

“So you still can't tell me what this is about?” Lyra asked, irritation slipping into her voice.

“Um… sorry,” Winn threw a furtive glance at Lena. “But it's for a good cause, I promise!”

“Right…” Lyra drawled as she narrowed her eyes while glancing between the two living people. “I'll see you later, then.” With her eyes fixed on Lena, she suddenly grabbed Winn by the front of his jacket and kissed him. With an obscene amount of tongue. It also lasted uncomfortably long. When she finally detached herself from the man she sauntered off, giving Lena another narrow-eyed look before disappearing down the street. Lena blinked as she turned back to Winn, who looked kind of dazed as he stared after his girlfriend.

“Did she just… mark her territory?” Lena asked incredulously.

“Oh, pfft,” Winn waved dismissively with a dopey grin on his face, “she can just be a little… possessive sometimes.”

“You don't seem to mind,” Lena remarked dryly.

“Nope.”

Lena was distracted from Winn's cheesy grin by Anna clearing her throat beside her. “So we can go to Trevor's place now?”

“Oh… yeah.” Lena shook her head, reminding herself of the task at hand: dropping off the bag with a forged note from a Goldman's gym employee. Then making sure Trevor found the bag, and hoping the contents were as significant to him as Anna claimed them to be. The three of them got back in the Guardian van, Winn taking place behind the wheel before starting the engine, but Lena suddenly frowned as she stared at the red and white gym bag sitting in the corner of the van that was pulling into traffic.

“Anna…” she started unsurely, “…how long did you say that bag was there?”

“Since I died, so that would be August,” the large ghostly woman responded. “Why?”

Lena clasped her hand over her mouth and nose, as she could feel something start to tickle at her nostrils. “Please tell me he washed his stuff before that.”

“Um…” Anna pulled a face, as apparently she was also starting to be aware of the foul smell that was suddenly permeating through the moving van. “I guess he didn’t…”

“Winn, drive faster!!”

 


 

 

The dancing lights hanging from the ceiling and in the decorated tree illuminated Kara’s apartment.

The whole gang was reunited for a Christmas party, marking the first time they’d been able to spend a significant amount of time all together since Reign had started terrorizing the city. For Lena it also marked the first time she was included in the group in its entirety. Up until recently she’d been steadily dodging Kara’s invitations to game night, knowing that Alex wouldn’t be happy about that and the last thing Lena wanted to do was cause a fight between the Danvers sisters. But with Alex finally being able to stand her company, Lena found herself here now, seated at the table across from Maggie as she watched the entire room groan at the fifth consecutive replaying of the same Christmas song that J’onn J’onzz was apparently a fan of.

“Ugh, seriously?” Maggie shook her head as she rubbed her temple. “If I have to suffer through this song one more time, I think I’d rather go back to the Nazi dimension.”

“I still can’t believe you got to go to an alternate dimension and I didn’t,” Lena grumbled, perhaps still being a little sour about that.

“Ah, forget it Luthor,” Maggie waved her hand at her dismissively, “there was just a lot of shooting and fighting. Not your thing.”

“I guess not,” Lena chuckled.

“And you might be interested to know that I actually found some valuable information when I was on Earth-1.” Lena gave her a confused look as Maggie downed her drink before elaborating: “Delores Winters isn’t in charge of Cadmus.”

Lena frowned at the detective. “How do you know?”

“Because she’s dead.” Lena’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Don’t ask me how she got there, but after disappearing from National City she apparently found a way to Earth-1. According to police records she died three years ago in a scuffle with Batwoman.”

Lena snorted. “Batwoman? Seriously?” Maggie just nodded in response, causing Lena to huff out a breath. “Sounds like something Winn would come up with.” She sighed, rubbing her neck as she turned more serious. “So now we lost our only possible target to blackmail Roulette with, and we’re back to square one in figuring out who’s leading Cadmus,” Lena summed up.

“That’s pretty much the gist of it,” Maggie agreed while sighing pensively.

“Hey, what are you two so gloomy about?” Lena looked up, seeing Mesut approach the table while in the middle of a silly dance. He appeared to be the only one besides J’onn and M’yrnn who was still enjoying the repetitive music selection. “It’s a party, and you can actually drink the eggnog. You know,” he gestured himself up and down, “unlike some people.”

Lena almost automatically reached for her phone, but she stopped when she realised that everybody in the room already knew her secret. Even J’onn did, because apparently the Martian had caught on to what was happening right before he had to walk an emotionally wrecked bride down the aisle. Lena definitely hadn’t been happy when finding that out during another one of those baffling conversations she’d had with Winn.

(“What do you mean, your boss can read minds?!!”

“Oh… I thought I told you that?”

“No, you didn’t!!”)

It was still a strange feeling though, Lena thought to herself as she actually addressed the ghostly man openly and without secrecy, right in the middle of a crowded room; “We’re just concerned that we have nothing or no one to stop Roulette with.”

“Yeah, dude, about that…” Maggie started, looking approximately at the empty space that Lena was talking to. “Is there no way you can get some information out of her?”

“Well… not without being suspicious,” Mesut said hesitantly. “I’m not a cop, you know… I don’t think I can be all sneaky about it.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Lena reassured the ghostly man. “What you’re doing is already enough.”

Maggie groaned at that, not looking entirely convinced. “I disagree,” she grumbled. “The sooner we get rid of Roulette’s meddling, the sooner I won’t have to be creeped out by the thought of being followed around all day.”

“Hey!” Mesut protested, seeming offended. “For your information, I don’t enjoy being a stalker either! I have better things to do…” he shoved his hands in his pockets.

“Like watching movies?” Lena asked amused.

“Yeah… among other things…” the man was avoiding eye contact and had started showing a sly smirk, causing Lena to turn serious.

“Mesut…” she started in a warning tone, “…I thought we’d already agreed that if you spy on unsuspecting women there will be consequences.”

“Wait,” Mesut frowned at her, “I thought you promised you weren’t gonna threaten to deport my grandma anymore?”

“I won’t,” Lena said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t buy every movie theatre in National City and stop them from showing any romantic comedies.”

Mesut let out an unironic gasp as his eyes went wide with indignation. “You wouldn’t!”

“Don’t give me a reason to.”

Mesut didn’t seem what to say to that, stammering incoherently for a second, before walking away while muttering to himself and shaking his head. Still seeming completely scandalised.

“You know,” Maggie started, “I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing you argue with thin air.” She gave the youngest Luthor an amused grin. “Certainly a lot more entertaining than arguing with Alex.”

Lena frowned at the off-hand remark. “Are… are you and Alex having problems again?” she asked warily.

“Pfft,” Maggie snickered as she shook her head dismissively, “don’t be so serious. I just mean that we seem to have the same discussion over and over again. You know, all old-married-couple-style. Because we’re married, me and Alex, you see. Alex Danvers is my wife. Have I mentioned that lately?” Lena just rolled her eyes because, on average, the detective would find a way to shoe-horn that titbit into conversation about five times a day. “But after a while the whole kids argument gets old.”

Lena choked on her scotch, coughing loudly as she gave Maggie an incredulous look. “Isn’t… isn’t that… something you should talk about before you get married?” Lena gulped as she looked across the table, but Maggie just saw fit to laugh at her again.

“Pfft, of course we did, Luthor! We’re not stupid!” She shook her head at her. “But Alex insists that she doesn’t want to adopt, because she remembers how Kara would always long for her real parents and basically she’s just super insecure about living up to a kid’s expectation who’s already had a mom. I keep telling her that she shouldn’t worry and that you and Kara turned out just fine after being adopted, but she keeps being stubborn.”

“And what about you?” Lena asked curiously.

“Me? I don’t want some random guy’s sperm going up my wife’s uterus.”

“Ugh…” Lena grimaced as she put her scotch away. “Do you always have to be so crass?”

“I just call it like I see it.”

Lena was about to answer something half-amused and half-reprimanding, when Alex opened the front door and a nervous bundle of gift baskets stumbled through the door and started apologising to everyone.

“I’m so sorry I’m late!” the baskets got put down, revealing a frantically gesturing Jess. “The new agreement with our suppliers had to be rearranged about twenty times, and the board kept harassing me about our impending proposal to Kamp Pharmaceutics and-”

“Jess! Jess…” Lena finally caught the woman’s attention with her coat half off her shoulders, momentarily halting her continuous nervous movements, “…can you do something really complicated for me?”

Jess frowned at her. “What?”

“Relax.”

“Oh…” the woman chuckled nervously, as Maggie snatched her coat from her under mild protest before moving to hang it up, and Jess finally let out a deep breath, seemingly forcing all the tension from her body.

“Didn’t I tell you to let me know when things get too much?” Lena asked her CFO with the slightest undertone of accusation, as Jess readjusted the haphazardly placed gift baskets she’d just walked in with.

“I can handle it,” the other woman muttered distractedly, admiring the proper placement of her gift baskets which, upon further inspection, all had names on them. Lena was just leaning closer to look at them, when Jess went to sit down on the empty stool to her left and almost fell over. Lena’s eyebrows shot up in surprise as her CFO yelped and barely managed to catch herself on the side of the table.

“Are you alright?” Lena asked concerned. Jess just nodded and assured her that she was fine, but when Lena glanced past the edge of the table she noticed the woman’s footwear. Causing an eyebrow to quirk up incredulously. “Since when do you wear 7-inch stilettos?” she exclaimed, unable to hide her bafflement.

“It’s… it’s a recent thing…” Jess muttered, finally taking her seat and clearing her throat. Upon seeing Lena’s pointed look she sighed, before elaborating; “It’s just that… being short sucks,” she mumbled, steadily avoiding eye contact.

“Really?” The youngest Luthor squinted her eyes at her former assistant. “You never mentioned that bothering you before.”

“Well… it’s just…” she huffed out a breath as her eyes shifted through the room, “…some people are really tall. Like… literally out of reach,” Jess muttered, almost petulantly. Lena was slightly confused for a moment but then she followed the woman’s line of sight, noticing who she was looking at. Causing her to smirk in amusement while she poured herself another scotch.

“You know,” Lena started slowly, almost innocently, “if you wanted, you could pull James Olsen right underneath that mistletoe.” It took a second for her words to register with her CFO, apparently. Because it stayed quiet for a beat, before Jess abruptly straightened and hit her knee against the table. Lena just looked at her in amusement as the woman rubbed the offending area of impact while hissing, before turning to her with a dismissive look.

“Pfft… ha… James, wha- don’t… don’t be ridiculous…”

Lena shrugged. “I mean, I think he likes you…”

“Really?!”

Lena shot her a victorious grin, and Jess cringed as she realised just how enthusiastic she’d sounded. “I actually have no idea,” the youngest Luthor confessed, “but I guess I know how you feel, now.” Lena watched as her former assistant seemed to shrink in embarrassment.

“But… we’re colleagues… sort of…” Jess protested weakly.

“Mhm,” Lena hummed as she put her drink down, “yes, because that’s never happened before,” she drawled sarcastically. She let her eyes go over the fidgeting woman, before nodding towards James and returning to her teasing grin. “So how about you woman up and ask out your crush?” Lena kept grinning at her and she was vaguely aware that this sort of behaviour was probably the result of hanging out with Maggie too much. Also, the scotch wasn’t helping. Jess, however, didn’t seem impressed with the motivational speech as she raised her eyebrows at her boss.

“Have you asked out your crush yet?”

Lena’s grin instantly washed away. “That’s different,” she muttered, as Jess kept giving her a pointed look. “She’s my best friend. And I’m still… you know,” she gestured herself up and down, “a woman.”

“Mhm,” Jess hummed as she kept giving her that same unimpressed look, “right… because that’s never happened before.”

Lena huffed out an annoyed breath at the woman’s sarcasm, not sure when Jess had gotten this brash, but suddenly she was startled by a head of blonde hair appearing behind Jess.

“Hi!” Kara chirped, causing both the seated women to flinch in surprise, and Lena was pretty sure she heard Jess’s knee collide with the table again. “What are you guys talking about?”

“Work.”           “Nothing.”

Lena and Jess exchanged a quick glance, before turning back to Kara’s curious eyes. “Some work stuff,” Lena explained lamely, “but it’s really nothing. Right?”

“Yeah,” Jess agreed just as lamely. “Really nothing.” A moment of awkward silence passed. “Excuse me.” Jess got up and grabbed the gift basket with James Olsen’s name on it as she removed herself from the situation. But she turned back around after two steps at the sound of Lena’s voice:

“Use the tie.”

 Jess blinked in confusion. “What?”

“For things out of your reach,” she pointedly looked past the woman and at James at the other end of the room, before refocusing on Jess, “use the neck tie. Used to work for me.” Lena just smirked, as Jess opened her mouth but seemed too embarrassed to say anything, so eventually she just turned around and headed towards her target.

“What was that about?” Kara asked from the other side of the table.

“It’s a secret,” Lena drawled mysteriously, swirling the contents of her glass while raising a teasing eyebrow at the blonde woman.

“Really?” Kara grinned at her in that adorable joking manner. “I thought we didn’t do those anymore?”

“Don’t worry,” Lena’s smile grew thinner, as she glanced at the other side of the room where Jess was awkwardly handing James his gift basket. “Something tells me Jess won’t be able to keep it under wraps for long.” She shook her head as she watched her former assistant’s uncharacteristically shy behaviour, before letting her eyes go over the rest of the apartment. “You really outdid yourself this time, you know,” Lena mused as she let her eyes go over the countless little lights hanging from the ceiling. She smiled as she turned her head back towards the smiling blonde.

“What can I say? There’s no time like Christmas time! It’s inspiring!”

Kara positively beamed at her, and Lena suddenly got hit with the words that Kara had told her before the majority of the guests had arrived. Well, sung to her really. (Yes, Kara was still at it with the musical thing.) It was something along the lines of: ‘In all the places we find love, it feels like Christmas!’ In reality, Lena had never really cared much for Christmas. It was a time when the rest of the world seemed to poke fun at her with family this and family that, reminding her that she didn’t have the things everyone else did. But now, in the middle of her best friend’s apartment full of people, with Kara looking so happy and beautiful and so much in her element amidst the decorations and light and general happiness, Lena felt it. Looking at Kara, she could feel it very clearly.

She could feel the Christmas.

Lena sucked in a quick breath however, when she realised she was doing the thing again where she was staring into Kara’s eyes for no good reason. Seriously, it was a miracle Kara hadn’t called her out on it yet. “I don’t think I know of any other adult who gets this worked up over a holiday,” Lena said teasingly, expertly veiling her embarrassment with humour. Years of practice and all that. “Well, maybe except…” Lena faltered, looking away, and it was more an automatism than anything else, because of course she didn’t have to hide these things from Kara anymore.

“Except who?” the alien woman asked curiously.

Lena sighed, as she looked back at Kara. “Well, Rachel was a big fan, too.”

“You mean Pam from HR’s sister?”

Lena nodded, her expression turning thoughtful as she watched Kara turn equally pensive. It was really strange; sitting across from her best friend and just talking freely about this. They hadn’t really talked much about the ghost thing since Lena had revealed everything right before Maggie and Alex’s wedding. She wasn’t sure if Kara had been purposefully avoiding the subject, or whether she was just so focused on the whole Reign situation that she didn’t have time to think about anything else. Then again, Lena hadn’t tried to bring it up either. Which ironically was very similar to how they’d handled the whole Supergirl reveal: They’d ignored it for a few days, then they’d started dropping jokes about it, then Kara had actually explained her the basics, and only after the whole ‘almost dying at the hands of Lillian Luthor’ thing, did they finally start having long, in-depth talks about the matter. Most of which happened when Kara had been confined to the DEO’s med bay for a few days (Alex’s orders) and she felt like she would, quote: ‘Lose my mind if I keep sitting here doing nothing.’

Kara sighed, sinking down on the stool across the table and leaning her chin on one hand, giving Lena a curious look with those honest blue eyes of hers. “What’s it like?” she suddenly asked. “When people pass on, I mean.”

Lena chuckled, rather taken off guard by the question, and still finding it kind of surreal that she was actually sitting her talking about her ghost troubles to Kara like this. “Well, I told you,” she started hesitantly. “They start emitting light first, and then it sort of… covers them up. And then the light splits up into these orbs of light that kind of just float there for a while, before they start fading away.”

“And?”

Lena sighed, looking at Kara’s expression inviting her to continue. Almost as if she knew there was more to it.

“Well…” the youngest Luthor started slowly, “it’s just hard sometimes,” she confessed. She furtively glanced up at Kara’s eyes, who was still giving her an encouraging look. “It’s like I have to watch people die over and over again. I mean, they’re already dead obviously,” Lena chuckled humourlessly. “But the reason we’re sad and devastated in the first place when people die, is that we can’t talk to them anymore. That whatever form of communicating with them or seeing them is completely gone. And I realise that them being only able to speak to me doesn’t exactly make them less dead, but… I don’t know… when they pass on it’s as if I know that I’m supposed to be happy for them and that most of them are practically strangers, but… I still feel like I’m watching someone die. In the sense that this time no one will truly be able to see or speak to them anymore and that they’re permanently wiped from existence now. Or, you know…” she gestured reassuringly with her hands, “…whatever else you believe happens when people die,” she amended quickly, trying to avoid offending Kara’s religious views again.

Kara just gave her an understanding smile and, in what was now a familiar motion, reached out and held her hand.

“So, yeah,” Lena shrugged, “I guess ‘bittersweet’ would be the best way to describe it. I find the whole ritual quite puzzling, to be honest.” She huffed out a breath as she shook her head. “The light, the floating orbs… but…” she sighed again, as she let her eyes go over the many glimmering lights that Kara had decorated the ceiling with, rather reminiscent of those ghostly orbs, she suddenly realised. “…it’s admittedly rather beautiful,” Lena muttered.

You’re beautiful.”

Lena blinked, dragging her eyes back onto the woman in front of her after hearing the whispered words. “What?” Lena laughed, because that was one random compliment.

“I, uh… I- no- because… lights… and…”

Lena just smirked as her eyebrows raised to her hairline, watching in amusement as Kara retracted her hand, stammered, and failed to form a coherent sentence. She was just debating how long she would let her go on for, because it was really rather adorable, but then-

“Ms. Luthor!”

Lena flinched at the voice coming from right beside her, looking over and finding the large ghostly frame of Anna Burik standing next to her. “What is-”

“You have to do something, Ms. Luthor!” Anna pleaded, looking immensely distressed. “Please! It’s an emergency!”

Lena frowned at the woman, because the last time she’d seen her everything had seemed fine. Trevor had found the gym bag in front of his door (he could probably smell it even from inside his apartment), Anna had thanked Lena for her help and said that if she thought Trevor needed an additional push in the right direction, she’d let her know. But all that happened five days ago, and even though Lena had been sceptical about the efficiency of the dead woman’s seemingly far-fetched plan at first, when after a few days she hadn’t come back to her, she just figured that Anna apparently knew Trevor a lot better than she did. Looking at the woman’s panicking expression though, Lena realised that things clearly hadn’t gone as planned.

She went to ask the woman what was wrong but caught herself at the last second, glancing back over her shoulder to where Jess was still talking to James. So just in case, she picked up her phone from the table, putting it to her ear while she sent Kara an apologetic look. The alien woman, for her part, looked slightly intrigued as she glanced between Lena and the empty space she was now talking to.

“What happened?” Lena asked concerned.

“He’s at the DMV right now. He-”

“Wait a minute,” Lena sighed, her concern quickly turning to annoyance. “I think we have a different definition of what an emergency is…”

“It is an emergency!!” Anna insisted. “He got offered a job as a long-haul truck driver, and he’s going to take it!! He’s at the DMV to renew his commercial driver’s license right now!! You have to stop him!!”

“But… why?” Lena frowned in confusion. “If he needs another job why should I-”

“Because he won’t be able to wrestle anymore!!” Anna exclaimed. “He’ll have to work evenings and night shifts, and he won’t be able to take several weeks off at the time!! That’s how he was able to do those tours in Japan, and- and- please, Ms. Luthor, you have to do something!!”

“All right, all right, calm down,” Lena held out her hand, and the ghostly woman’s breaths calmed ever so slightly. “Look, quite frankly I don’t know how talking to his former boss is supposed to help him, but… I can try to talk to him if you want, just… I can’t promise it will help.”

“That’s fine,” Anna said, still in that same pleading tone. “Anything… anything at all, at this point…”

Lena nodded briefly, before putting her phone down and turning back to Kara. “I, um… have to go,” she said, hoping she sounded sufficiently apologetic.

“Ghost troubles?” Kara asked, glancing curiously at the empty space beside Lena again.

“Yeah…” Lena sighed as she got up and headed for the door, but she smiled when Kara was suddenly standing before her, holding up her jacket. “Well, aren’t you chivalrous tonight?” Lena teased as she turned around and slid her arms into the coat and Kara basically put it on her. The alien woman just chuckled behind her, and as Lena stepped out of the door and turned back around, she found Kara leaning against the door post and giving her a curious look while biting her lip.

“Are you… gonna be long?” she asked carefully.

“I’m not sure,” Lena said slowly, glancing to the side where Anna was motioning impatiently for her to come along. “If I can, I’ll make it back afterwards, alright?” Kara just nodded in response, leaning her head against the doorpost as well, while giving her an absolutely adorable look, as if she hated to see her leave. And Lena felt her heart start acting irrationally again, so in what was a true and tried tactic by now, she pulled out some humour before her affection could manifest itself in embarrassing ways. “And then you can keep telling me how beautiful I am.”

Okay, so maybe somewhere in between pushing her emotions down and dragging a joke out, the two had somehow morphed into whatever flirty-ness that was, but it was still passable as a joke, right?

But for once Lena didn’t overanalyse herself. Firstly, because she needed to leave before Anna would combust out of pure frustration, and secondly because the blush that crept up Kara’s cheeks made it totally worth it.

  


 

 

Even this close to Christmas, the DMV was still packed.

The lines looked endless as they extended in various curves and illogical turns in front of the few counters that were actually manned. Upon entering, Lena scanned the room, standing on her toes to search the entire hall with her eyes, but it proved superfluous when Anna walked straight through the crowd and started waving and gesturing at her from a specific point in the middle of one of the long lines. Lena tilted her head, looking past a tall man in the row before Anna, and finally caught sight of Trevor. Lena sighed, pausing for a moment as she tried to figure out what she was going to say. In the end she decided to wing it, because apart from offering the man his job back (which according to Anna was beside the point) she was coming up with nothing.

She slowly started making her way through the crowded room, ducking under a few belt barriers as she did so and apologising to several annoyed people waiting in line. When she arrived at the line that Trevor was waiting in, she found him with his hands deep in his pockets while looking at the floor, as Anna stood a few steps to the side, giving him a sad look. To say that he looked like shit would be a massive understatement. Lena straightened up, putting her game face on as she resolutely stepped next to the man on the other side of the belt barrier.

“Trevor.”

The man looked up, blinking in surprise, and when he caught sight of his former boss it appeared that his reaction was delayed a second, almost as if he hadn’t quite processed what he was seeing. “Ms. Luthor…” he blinked again, looking from left to right, “…what- what are you doing here?”

Lena gave him a thoughtful look, before deciding that straightforwardness was probably the best approach in this situation. “I was told I could find you here,” she stated. “Do you have a moment to talk?” She glanced at the other people in the man’s queue, who didn’t even show the slightest interest in the conversation, appearing to be almost asleep on their feet.

“Um… I guess,” he gave her a confused look. “Do you mind if we just talk here, though?” He gestured to the distance between himself and the clerk’s counter. “It took me two hours to get this far.”

“Fine,” Lena grumbled, glancing around again before stepping closer to the man, attempting to give their conversation at least a semblance of privacy. “I’m not sure whether you were aware of this or not, but L-Corp supplies extra leave days for extraordinary circumstances. I take the wellbeing of my employees very seriously, you see.”

Trevor looked at her in silence for a second. “Okay…” he drawled, clearly confused. “And you’re telling me this because…?”

“Because you should have told me that your girlfriend died.”

Trevor’s face seemed to harden, as he swallowed harshly and looked away. “Look… that’s my own business,” he said defensively. “I understand why you had to fire me, so… let’s just forget about it, okay?”

“But Trevor, I just want to-”

“It’s none of your business, Ms. Luthor,” Trevor stated more firmly, although he still didn’t make eye contact; instead staring at the floor. The silence extended as Lena tried to come up with something to further the conversation, subtly throwing a glance at Anna while trying to signal to her that she could really use some help over here. But the woman was just staring at Trevor with a very sad look on her face. While Lena was still trying to find a way to end this agonisingly long silence, Trevor’s phone suddenly ended it for her. The man flinched, before struggling to take the device out of the pocket of his jacket that was folded in his arms. When he succeeded, he didn’t actually respond, instead staring at the screen while the ringtone chimed on, giving Lena the chance to take a peek at the name on display: Will O.

“Fucking Ospreay,” Trevor scoffed, shaking his head before tapping the red button and struggling to put his phone back from where he’d taken it.

“A friend of yours?” Lena asked, grabbing at this excuse to keep their conversation going.

“No, Will is a colleague,” he said quietly, “but lately he won’t stop calling and asking when I’m coming back.”

Lena frowned at that. “Wait, so you found a new job already?” She threw another glance at the ghost of the man’s girlfriend, who was making a vague gesture while mouthing something Lena couldn’t decipher, but Trevor solved the mystery for her.

“Well, it’s not new…” Trevor muttered, causing Lena to turn her attention back to him. “I don’t think I ever told you this, but I’m a wrestler.”

“Oh,” Lena tried her best to act surprised, as Trevor actually lifted his head and looked her in the eye. “Really?” she asked in her continued attempt at appearing taken off guard by this information, while Trevor actually seemed to look less despondent than before. His eyes actually displaying something similar to pride. “Is that why you used to take several weeks off at a time?” Lena suddenly questioned.

“Yeah, usually I could work most shows in the States on the weekend, but those few weeks a year were for the big tours in Japan,” Trevor explained. “Me and Ospreay tore it up there last year,” the man actually cracked a small smile while shaking his head, and all of a sudden Anna’s insistence on what would make the man happier seemed to make a lot of sense. Because the man who had previously been standing in line as if being escorted to the gallows, was seemingly coming back to life. “Most wrestlers still need another job, though, if they want to get by. Especially if you get injured and don’t have anything else going on, you’re basically screwed. Unless you work for the WWE, of course…”

Something in that sentence jogged Lena’s memory. “Isn’t that… the biggest wrestling company around?” she asked hesitantly.

“Ms. Luthor,” the man said, suddenly displaying an excited smirk, “you secretly a wrestling fan?”

“No, um,” Lena hesitated, as the memories of a girl and her bouncing tennis ball returned vividly to her mind’s eye, “a friend of mine was.”

“Hm… hardcore fan, or one of those who thinks John Cena’s the greatest thing going?”

Lena frowned slightly at the random question, but Trevor was now smiling widely and was actually having a conversation with her, so she tried her best to search her memories. “Um…” she furrowed her brow in concentration, remembering the one day that Sam had actually talked to her about the topic, “…I believe she said; ‘The Undertaker is the greatest wrestler of all time and anyone who says otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about,’” Lena recited.

“Ha, ha,” Trevor let out an actual laugh, shaking his head in apparent delight, “I like her already!” The man scratched his neck as he kept chuckling to himself, but Lena decided that it was time to return to the heart of the problem.

“So… why did you stop?” Lena asked carefully. “Why are you ignoring your…” she gestured to the place where he had put away his phone, “…colleagues?” Trevor’s face hardened again, and Lena’s jaw tightened in frustration as she was now starting to develop an understanding for dr. Talbot’s ridiculously high bills. Seriously, who decided that helping ghosts included being everyone’s psychologist?

“You wouldn’t understand…” Trevor said quietly, looking back at the floor again.

“I wouldn’t understand what it’s like to lose someone?” Lena asked incredulously, quirking an eyebrow at him.

“No, I didn’t mean…” Trevor gestured vaguely through the air before letting out a long sigh. “It just seems pointless,” he muttered. “Not just wrestling, but most other things too. You know, I was set to have this try-out for the WWE later this month, and I’ve been basically been working towards it since June, but… I don’t know, I guess…” the man hesitated, seemingly searching for the right words. “I just don’t know if it is what I want anymore. As of late, I think that making dinner isn’t worth it most days, so how am I supposed to go and fight for a job that will have me on the road for 300 days a year and having about five matches a week?” He shrugged as he looked back at the youngest Luthor. “Like I said… I just don’t know if it’s worth it anymore.”

Lena cleared her throat, taking a moment to process that (Five matches a week?!!), before attempting to give an adequate response. “Look, Trevor,” she started slowly, “I get it, alright?”

“All due respect, Ms. Luthor, you don’t un-”

“I do understand!” Lena protested, earning herself a surprised look from her former driver. “Do you remember when my mother attacked the city earlier this year?” she asked, as Trevor just nodded with a frown firmly on place. “Well, someone…” Lena stammered for a moment, “very dear to me… the person that matters most to me actually, actually… almost died.” Even now, Lena still shivered as she remembered that day. “I thought that-”

“Ms. Danvers almost died?!” Trevor exclaimed.

“Wha- I-” Lena’s words got stuck in her throat as she responded to the man’s surprised expression with a flabbergasted look. “I never… said…” she kept stammering while feeling her embarrassment swiftly rising.

“Well, I just assumed…” Trevor swallowed, “…you know what, never mind.” Another awkward moment of silence passed, before Lena attempted to make her point again.

“Like I was saying,” Lena stated resolutely, as she forced herself to continue, “that person almost died,” she said, her voice turning shaky again. “I didn’t think I could go on anymore. I didn’t care what would happen to L-Corp. I didn’t even care about my own wellbeing…” Lena swallowed harshly “…all I could think of, was the thought of being alone all over again.” She sighed, letting the silence in the air before giving Trevor a determined look again. “But I learned that… there is always something to fight for. That I have plenty of things worth caring about… that I’m far from alone… and that if we give up on ourselves, no one would be more hurt than the person we care about the most.” Lena tried to give the man an encouraging expression, but he appeared to have resumed his stoic staring contest with the marble floor of the DMV.

“Anna can’t get hurt anymore,” Trevor stated bitterly. And Lena was the only one who got to see the woman in question proving him wrong; the tears starting to roll silently down her cheeks while looking at the living man. “She’s dead,” he stated harshly, although he couldn’t stop his voice from shaking.

“But you’re not!” Lena hissed, causing Trevor’s head to snap up in surprise at the youngest Luthor’s sudden urgency. “That’s the point! You say that you don’t know if it’s worth it anymore, but I’ve been talking to you for less than ten minutes, I know nothing about wrestling and even I can see that you still care!” She took another moment to just stare at the man intently. “And that there’s at least one person that doesn’t want you to be alone,” she said, while gesturing to the man’s phone again. “So look,” sighed as she reluctantly took a card out of her pocket and started scribbling something on the back of it, before giving it to the man. “That’s the number for a dr. Talbot,” she explained, while Trevor examined the business card he’d just been handed. “I enjoy his company about as much as I enjoy listening to nails grating a chalkboard, but I can no longer pretend he hasn’t helped me.”

Trevor seemed confused as he looked from the card in his hands to Lena for a moment. “And the one on the back?” he asked confused.

“That’s my private number,” Lena explained. “In case you want your job back, wrestle on the weekends and on your leave days again. It comes with one condition, though.” Trevor frowned as he looked up from the card. “Don’t call me without going to that try-out first,” she stated resolutely. Trevor gave her a pensive look, returning his thoughtful stare to the business card of dr. Talbot, before giving Lena a nod, albeit still with an unsure expression. And Lena really felt that that was as much as she was going to get out of him at this point. “Good luck, Trevor. With everything.”

She hitched her purse higher up her shoulder as she turned around, heading for the doors of the DMV, this time actually walking around all the lines of queuing people. Upon stepping outside she looked over her shoulder, but Anna hadn’t followed her through the doors. As Lena stepped a little further along and glanced through the large window on the front, she noticed the woman’s figure towering over most of the people waiting in line, standing shoulder to shoulder with Trevor. Just close enough that it looked as if they were touching, had that still been possible.

And as Lena would learn a few days later, everything had worked out. As Lena would find out from Anna right before the woman would start passing on in the middle of her office, Trevor hadn’t taken the trucker job and hadn’t asked Lena for his job back, but had instead gone to that try-out. Whether he’d done well or not was still a mystery, because as Anna put it: ‘How am I supposed to know? Wrestling still looks stupid to me.’

For now though, Lena still worried whether she’d done enough or not while walking through the streets of National City; the cold December temperatures numbing her fingers. She rubbed her hands together as she took a turn on her way back to Kara’s apartment before pulling out her phone, which was buzzing with an incoming call. She tapped the button to respond and put it to her ear after seeing who it was.

“Hey, Maggie,” she answered, “I was just on my way back to the party, so-”

“Yeah, don’t bother,” Maggie interrupted. “There was a Reign-related emergency so almost everyone took off. Jess was pretty confused.”

“Oh,” Lena tried her best to hide her disappointment. “So why are you calling, then?”

“Well…” the detective hesitated, “I’ve got some news… and it’s not good.”

“Okay,” Lena drawled, turning on her heels and now walking back a street in order to get to the bus stop, while frowning at the detective’s concerned tone.

“So you know all those bodies we found at the Winter Clinic?” Maggie started carefully.

“It’s hard to forget,” Lena commented dryly.

“Yeah, well… the captain actually agreed to have the DEO help us with the investigation. Well, they think it’s the FBI, but the point is that we collected DNA samples from all those bodies and ran them through the DEO’s system, hoping to identify most of the victims.”

Lena waited for Maggie to continue as she took a left turn and tucked her left hand underneath her arm to try and keep warm. But when the silence persisted, she tried to press her. “And?” she urged. The woman on the other side of the line audibly sighed, before finally continuing.

“One of them was Meryl Evans.”

Lena stopped dead in her tracks in the middle of Savio Street, the small clouds she was breathing out suddenly being the only indication that she was anything other than an unfortunately placed statue.

“Yeah,” Maggie drawled, accurately interpreting Lena’s shocked silence. “So then I thought about it, and… I kind of had a hunch about something. And so I asked Winn to run the names of Roulette’s other stalking victims through the system as well, and as it turns out… well, I was right.”

Lena stood motionless for another second or so before regaining her wits. “About what?” she asked warily. But her mind had already gotten past the shock and to be honest, as the gears started turning in her head, she was starting to suspect that she already knew what the answer would be.

“They’re all aliens,” Maggie declared, and Lena swallowed as her suspicions were confirmed. “Hilda Forsberg, Blake Vardy, Meryl Evans and Daniel Potts… apart from myself, all of Roulette’s stalking victims are aliens.”

“The kidnappings…” Lena huffed out in shock, because suddenly something fell into place. “The reason Mesut is following you…” she said slowly, “…it’s not because of the explosion. He… he started following you right after you got put in charge of the investigation into those alien kidnappings.”

“Yeah… but you know what this means, right?”

Time seemed to slow down, as suddenly the terrible puzzle appeared to come together in her mind, piece by ominous piece. All of Roulette’s known stalking victims were aliens… one of whom had disappeared… her mutilated body had been found at the Endless Winter Clinic… the Clinic that had it on record that their dead alien corpses had been sold to them by Cadmus… aliens that Cadmus had been kidnapping… one of whom was Meryl Evans… the same kidnappings whose investigation Roulette was having monitored by Mesut… Lena swallowed, because although some things still didn’t make sense, the things that were clear, were leading her to a terrifying answer.

“She works for them…” Lena said incredulously. “Roulette works for Cadmus… which means…”

“Yeah,” Maggie sighed, apparently coming to the same conclusion.

 

“…someone at Cadmus can see ghosts.”

 

 



 

 

 

The back of her head hurt like hell.

That’s the first thing Meryl Evans noticed as she opened her eyes. She groaned, as a bright light seemed to attack her senses. She tried shaking her head and bringing her hand up to feel the sore spot that kept throbbing on her skull. She succeeded in doing neither, however. In fact she didn’t seem able to move at all. She blinked some more, trying to adjust her eyes to the bright light shining in her face. Once the world became a little clearer, once she shook off her daze and looked at where she was, Meryl started  getting scared. It was a slowly building feeling, as one by one she noticed several disturbing things.

She was definitely not in a hospital. She was in some sort of large and empty space, the edges of which she couldn’t quite identify because of the light that was shining in her eyes from directly above. She was laying on a cool surface, elevated maybe three or four feet off the floor. And the reason she couldn’t move was because she was strapped down by her wrists, ankles, middle and even her head. Meryl started breathing heavier as she tried tugging at her restraints, but it only helped in digging the thick leather deeper into her skin.

“Hello?” she tried weakly. “Is anyone there?” She tried moving her head, but the band across her forehead was pressing it firmly against the cool surface beneath her. She swallowed as she tried to remember how she could’ve possibly gotten here. She knows she’d just finished her evening shift at the diner. She knows that she walked home after that, feeling too tired to go to her usual bar. She remembers changing out of her uniform, and as she glanced back down at herself, she saw the shirt and jeans that she remembered throwing on. Meryl closed her eyes, forcing herself to remember. She’d opened her fridge… she’d noticed she’d have to restock it tomorrow… and then… she’d heard a noise. Yes, she remembered now. She’d heard a strange noise, she’d turned around and… then nothing. Meryl opened her eyes, realising that she remembered nothing after that.

“Well… It would seem that my men are becoming too gentle.”

Meryl tensed, hearing the voice coming from somewhere above her, accompanied by the sound of approaching footsteps. She still didn’t succeed in moving her head but she didn’t need to, as a moment later someone stepped into her view. Meryl squinted her eyes at the light that was suddenly obscured by a dark silhouette above her, showing her the image of a hooded figure scanning her from top to bottom.

“Where- where am I?” Meryl stammered unsteadily. “Who are you?” The hooded figure just chuckled in response, straightening up and starting to walk around the cool surface Meryl was strapped to.

“It’s highly unusual for the subjects to be asking the questions,” the figure drawled slowly in an amused tone. “But since you’re awake anyway…” the hooded figure stepped out of view and Meryl once again failed to move her head enough to see what was going on. There was a soft clinking of metal against metal as the figure started talking again. “You can call me Cigarette. And you are in the latest incarnation of Cadmus’ headquarters, with the purpose to enrich mankind’s knowledge on your species.” There was silence for a moment, except for that soft metal clicking, as Meryl’s fear started increasing exponentially.

“I- I- I don’t know what- wat you’re talking about,” she stammered, frantically trying to move her arms. “I- I’m from San Jose, I- I’m not-”

“Now, now, there’s no need to lie anymore,” the figure shushed, as Meryl was starting to downright panic. “Your appearance may have helped you fit in, but let’s not sit here and pretend that you’re not an alien. You are one of the very few of your species on earth, in fact the only one in National City. And the only thing we know about you, is that exposure to artificially derived Erythritol causes you to display asthmatic-like symptoms.” The hooded figure stepped back into her view, now looking directly at her and Meryl was petrified as she stared back. “That is very little knowledge, considering the vast amount of expertise the human race has managed to amass on other subjects, isn’t it?” The hooded figure paused and just stared at her for a moment. “So that is why you’re here, Ms. Evans,” the figure continued, bending down to grab something from under the surface she was lying on. “To better help us understand your species. There is one unfortunate fact you should be aware of, however.” The figure straightened back into view, appearing to hold something heavy. “Since Lillian Luthor’s demise this organisation has objectively been more effective. We’ve stopped wasting time and energy in trying to politic our way into people’s good graces. The one downside to that, is that Mrs. Luthor’s absence has left us without a significant stream of money. We’ve found ways to cover most expenses but unfortunately for you, my men appeared to have been too gentle when they knocked you out.”

Meryl was frozen, she couldn’t have moved even if she wanted to, as she watched the dark eyes above her with confusion. The hooded figure by the name of Cigarette seemed to notice, clarifying that last statement:

“We don’t waste our funds on anaesthetics.”

Meryl’s eyes went wide, as she whimpered at the sight of the heavy object that Cigarette brought into view. She didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or to cry at the absurdity of the situation, because she’d just been home earlier. She was about to have dinner. She was supposed to get groceries tomorrow. She was supposed to cover Nicole’s shift this Tuesday. She was going to ask Charlie out, she swears that she eventually was going to! But instead of laughing at how far away it all seemed, Meryl felt herself start to cry, as she just whimpered and tried to shake her head to no avail. All the while watching the hooded figure bring the circular saw to her right shoulder.

“If it’s any consolation, there’s no one near for miles,” Cigarette said, seeming deep in concentration and unaffected by Meryl’s whimpering pleas. “So feel free to scream.”

Meryl tried to force at least one form of protest past her lips, but the whirring sound of the saw droned out any kind of clarity she might’ve had left. And as the blade made contact with her skin, any coherent form of thought was lost too, as she did the only thing she was still able to do being strapped to an operating table while at the mercy of the new leader of Cadmus. The one thing she kept doing, until the loss of blood finally released her to the mercy of unconsciousness first, and to the finality of death moments later.

 

Meryl screamed.

 

Chapter Text

 

December 24th 2017

 

Not again…

Please, not again…

Lena was holding her stomach, ever so slightly rocking back and forward on one of the waiting chairs outside of the DEO med-bay. She barely registered James’ hushed words of encouragement or the reassuring hand placed on her back. All she could think of were those words repeated over and over again.

Not again, not again, please not again…

It was a good thing that James had been with her when it happened. It was a good thing that he’d been walking beside her on the way back from their confrontation with Morgan Edge. Because the second she saw Kara tumbling from the sky, the moment she saw Reign dropping the caped hero’s motionless body from the top of that building and straight down to the thunderous impact below, Lena’s thoughts had ceased to function properly. She’d just weakly tried to move towards the fallen hero, held back only by James’s grip, as she slowly felt herself being trapped by the ominous sense of déjà vu. That sense that was showing her flashbacks of Kara’s ghost standing in the very hallway they were now sitting in, that feeling that the very same thing could be happening again any second now.

Not again… please not again…

The door to the nearby hallway suddenly swung open with force, as Maggie ran into the corridor. “UP!! GET THE FUCK UP, LUTHOR!!”

Lena had barely registered the detective’s presence through her dazed state when all of a sudden she was roughly pulled to her feet.

“Hey, easy!!” James protested, jumping up at the sight of Maggie starting to pat the youngest Luthor down.

“Shut up, Olsen!!” Maggie barked, as she continued to search the dazed billionaire whose mind was still trying to catch up on what was happening. Lena blinked, forcing the building sense of terror at Kara’s current situation to the back of her mind, as she watched Maggie search the coat she’d just ripped off her shoulders; going through every last pocket as if she was looking for something. They were empty, and after realising that, the detective tossed it aside and sank to the floor with a deep sigh of relief, resting her head against the concrete wall with her eyes closed.

It was very suddenly that it clicked in Lena’s mind what was going on, and she swallowed as she turned to the man behind her. “James, could you maybe… see if there’s coffee?”

“Coffee?” James asked incredulously, darting his eyes between the youngest Luthor and the seated detective who was still taking heavy breaths. As Lena just gave him a pointed nod, he reluctantly turned around and disappeared around the corner. Lena sighed, before sliding to the floor next to Maggie.

“There’s no need to get this worked up, you know.” She threw the detective a glance, who opened one eyelid but still rested her head against the wall. “You still have my gun.”

“Who's to say you didn't get another one?” Maggie replied, sounding spent. Lena just shrugged at that.

“Well… I didn't.”

The detective let out another heavy sigh, closing her eyes again. Lena didn’t quite know what to say but before she could figure it out, a familiar squeaking sound suddenly caught Lena's attention. And as she looked up, she saw Winn slide around the corner, looking around in jerky motions until his eyes fell unto the two women sitting next to each other on the floor.

“Is she- wha- do we know-”

“No,” Maggie groaned, not even bothering to open her eyes. “They're still working on her in there.” She frowned before opening one eyelid again, looking at Lena. “Right?”

Lena hummed and nodded in response, as now that the temporary distraction had passed she was suddenly reminded that she could be faced with Kara's ghost again any second now. She swallowed harshly as she hugged her knees to her chest, noticing Winn sinking down to the floor on her other side, which left her sandwiched between her two friends on the cold concrete floor of the DEO. All three of them resting their heads against the wall behind them as they stared at the window of the med-bay; the blinds shielding them from whatever was going on in there. They sat there for a while, none of them saying a word, until the silence was suddenly interrupted by the woman sitting on Lena’s right.

“You know, I’m proud of you.”

Lena blinked in surprise, turning her head to the right where Maggie had actually opened her eyes.

“You’re not panicking this time,” the detective elaborated, and Lena was rather stunned by the softness of her voice. “I’m mostly relieved, but… yeah, I’m proud of you.” Maggie cleared her throat and looked away, resting her head against the wall again, as she let out another sigh. Lena swallowed, not remembering ever seeing the woman look this uncomfortable, but after a moment of hesitation she spoke up anyway.

“I panicked when I saw her fall,” Lena started carefully. “But… I don’t know…” she faltered for a moment. “I still have things to do around here. Cadmus isn’t going to just evaporate of its own volition. Even if- if Kara…” Lena swallowed harshly, not wanting to finish that thought and the lump forming in her throat making it harder for her anyway. “I’d still have things to do.” She breathed out softly, trying to calm her worry as she tried to pull out a jovial tone to relieve the unbearably thick air of tension. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to leave you two to deal with Roulette on your own. You’d be completely lost.”

That actually elicited a laugh out of Maggie as she shook her head, while Lena smiled nervously at the two of them.

“Yeah, probably,” Winn agreed. “Not much we could do without the ALPHA.”

Lena fondly rolled her eyes. “I know I’ll regret this, but what-”

“The Altruistic Luthor Promptly Helping Apparitions!”

Lena just chuckled at that, but Maggie huffed out an incredulous breath. “Okay, he has to be doing that on purpose,” she mumbled.

“What do you-”

“Why are you guys always on the floor in moments like this?”

Their heads snapped forward, before all three of them jumped to their feet. Because they’d gotten so caught up that they’d completely missed Alex stepping out of the med-bay, as she was now giving the trio a disapproving look. Lena was about to open her mouth to ask the obvious yet ever so burning question, but Alex raised her hand to silence her.

“She’s stable,” the secret agent stated firmly, which drew relieved breaths from Maggie and Winn, while Lena let out a shaky laugh that was as nervous as it was relieved and that sounded way too desperate to be heard in front of Alex. Maggie stepped forward and rubbed her wife’s arm.

“You okay, babe?”

“I’m fine,” Alex smiled at her, but she didn’t sound very convincing. “I have to finish patching her up; her healing powers haven’t set in yet. But I’ll be out in a few.”

“I’ll be right here,” Maggie assured her, giving her a quick kiss before Alex turned around and re-entered the med-bay. The detective let out another sigh of relief, but Lena didn’t really notice anymore, as she’d sunk back down on one of the small plastic waiting chairs and stared off into the distance.

Because although Maggie might be right, and she was handling herself better than the last time Kara was in danger, she still felt overwhelmed by the waves of relief washing over herself right now. Relieved that she wouldn’t have to face Kara’s ghost today, relieved that her whole world as she knew it wasn’t going to crumble down around her right now. She just let her hands go over her face, when she noticed that Winn and Maggie had resumed their positions on either side of her, taking place on the small waiting chairs in the same formation they’d been sitting on the floor just earlier.

“You don’t need to babysit me anymore, you know,” Lena tried saying amused, but she couldn’t help her voice sounding small and tired.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Luthor,” Maggie replied stoically while nonchalantly putting an arm around her shoulders. “I’m just waiting for my wife.”

“Yeah,” Winn proclaimed lamely. “And I work here.” He proceeded to put his arm over her shoulders as well, two elbows crossing over each other behind Lena’s neck as they just sat there in silence, Lena feeling a strangely familiar feeling of safety settling over her. It wasn’t quite the same as Kara holding her… but it was comforting nonetheless. Not that she was going to admit that. Could you imagine how smug Maggie would look? And Winn might actually cry. The thought of it actually made her lips twitch upwards. She allowed herself to sit like that for a while longer; the thought of Kara being out of danger finally setting in, as she slowly relaxed into the embrace of her two friends.

After a while, however, she could feel the detective start stirring restlessly beside her and sure enough, she eventually started speaking. “So, I’ve been thinking…” she nervously cleared her throat and Lena turned to look at her, “…you know how you’ve been trying to investigate Roulette and all that, right? And how we broke into the Endless Winter Clinic?” Lena just nodded, not sure why she was pointing out the obvious. “Well, it just got me thinking about some things,” the detective continued. “On the force, our people tend to get into some pretty sticky situations a lot of the time. You know, hostage-taking, shoot-outs, irruptions into buildings where we have no idea what we’re walking into, stuff like that. It’s just considered part of the job and we know what we’re signing up for of course, but I was just thinking… what if we could make those situations less dangerous? What if… when there’s a situation like that, where we’re not sure what’s going on… what if we could send someone in to scout it out, just like Mesut did? I was thinking, you know, that when you meet a ghost you could ask them to-”

“No.”

Maggie looked slightly stunned at the resolute refusal, but Lena leaned away from her, sliding her shoulder out from underneath her arm as she gave her a wary look.

“Look, I’m just making a suggestion here, I’m not-”

“You’re suggesting that I exploit dead people’s situations to get something out of them,” Lena started with ice in her voice, sliding a little further away as she could feel Winn shift uncomfortably behind her. “You’re asking me to stoop to Roulette’s level.”

“Oh, come on Luthor, don’t be so dramatic,” Maggie scoffed. “I don’t want to turn them into my weird stalker-army, I want them to help police officers do their jobs. Think of it more like… community service, in exchange for getting help from you,” the detective offered, looking like she was setting up the greatest idea of all time, but Lena didn’t like it one bit.

“You can call it what you like, it’s still wrong,” the youngest Luthor responded coldly, now crossing her arms as she downright scowled at the other woman.

“O- Okay, you guys,” Winn chuckled nervously. “Let’s not-”

“And even if it wasn’t, I don’t have time to be an interlocutor between the dead and the police force on top of everything else I have to do.” Lena gave an intent look, trying to drive her point home, but Maggie still had that stubborn expression in place.

“It’s not like it would be all the time,” she insisted, as Lena rolled her eyes at the woman’s persistence. “I’m just saying that in an emergency-”

“There’s always an emergency, Maggie! And I’m not turning into Roulette, no matter how noble you think the cause is!”

“Oh, stop fixating on the Roulette thing so much! The situation is completely different and-”

“No, it’s not!”

“Hey… hey, come on,” Winn tried to interject again through the increasing volume of the conversation. “Let’s just-”

“Excuse me.”

Lena blinked in surprise at the sound of a fourth voice joining the fray, but as she looked to the side, she saw the source. And she internally groaned, because she was clearly looking at a ghost. The elderly woman that was standing in front of her seemed way too old to be working at the DEO but if that wasn’t enough of a hint, then her elegant and expensive purple gown definitely let Lena know that she had no place in the highly secured government facility. And her next words confirmed the obvious.

“You were just speaking of Roulette, weren’t you?” the woman asked, and Lena only now picked up on her accent.

“Um… yes,” she started slowly, and the two living people beside her seemed to go still as they appeared to understand what was happening.

“Oh, so you are real.” The woman laughed rather breathlessly to herself, before making an overly dramatic sound of relief. “I must be very lucky to find you here. I hope that what she said about you was true? That you help dead people with their problems? Oh, I’m sorry,” she laughed her slightly breathless laugh again, “I should probably introduce myself before asking all these questions. I am Soledad Vasquez, what is your name?”

Lena hesitated for a moment as a frown formed on her face, because surely she was supposed to know that information already? “Um… I’m Lena Luthor,” she introduced herself. “I’m sorry, but how come you didn’t-”

“Hey, Luthor,” Maggie suddenly interjected, causing Lena to turn to her. “You might want to get the name of her stalking victim right away,” she said seriously, taking out a writing pad. “Maybe we can still bring them in before they get kidnapped.”

Lena’s eyes widened, as she hadn’t even thought of that. “Right… Mrs. Vasquez,” she turned back to the ghostly woman, “could you tell us the name of whomever Roulette made you follow?” she asked urgently. The elderly woman, however, only laughed her breathy laugh again as she swatted her hand in a dismissive gesture.

“Oh, no, no, I didn’t help Roulette.”

“What?” Lena blinked, because that didn’t make any sense. “But then… how do you know about me? Or about Roulette for that matter?”

“I was in Roulette’s building when it exploded,” the woman explained slowly, counting on her fingers. “And I know about you, because she mentioned someone who helps ghosts when she asked all of us to work for her.”

“You mean… all the people who died in the explosion?” Lena drawled, to which the ghostly woman nodded in affirmation. Lena briefly turned to the side, explaining to Maggie that they didn’t need to go racing around town to find an alien who might be in danger, but when she turned back she realised that something didn’t make sense. “But… you chose not to work for her?” she asked of Mrs. Vasquez.

“No, I didn’t think I needed to,” the ghostly woman sighed. “I thought that I would say goodbye to everyone I know and that God would guide my way after that.” The woman sighed again, while Lena pursed her lips and had to refrain from rolling her eyes (because again with the religion, dear lord) but the woman seemed to turn sad. “But obviously I was wrong,” she sighed, “I very much need your help.”

Lena was about to ask about the woman’s troubles when Winn suddenly nudged her. And looking at him, she noticed he’d pinned his badge on (because of course he did). “I have a question too! Can I ask her something?” he whispered not so subtly.

“Sure,” Lena sighed.

Winn promptly sat up straight and cleared his throat. “So… ma’am,” he started all professional, squinting his eyes in the ghost’s general direction. “How did you find the headquarters of a very secret government agency?” he asked with a suspicious tone and Lena gave him a surprised look, because that was actually a pretty good question.

“My granddaughter works here. Susan Vasquez?” the woman said, looking between Winn and Lena.

“Oh, crap,” she sighed, before turning to Winn’s confused face. “She’s Vasquez’s grandmother,” she explained.

“Aw, man,” Winn slumped in his seat. “That’s just depressing.”

“I need you to explain it to her,” the woman addressed Lena, her tone suddenly pleading. “I need you to explain to her that she has it all wrong. She thinks that I was there to fund an alien fight club. She doesn’t remember me well, she… she didn’t even come to my funeral…” the ghostly woman trailed off, a sad look in her eyes.

“So… why were you there?” Lena asked carefully.

“I was there to fund a homeless shelter.”

“I… I’m sorry, what?”

“I was deceived,” the woman explained. “Roulette pretended to-”

The woman was interrupted by the door to the med-bay swinging open once again, as about a dozen DEO agents made their way outside, with Alex and Dr. Hamilton coming out last. The older Danvers sister paused in front of the living trio while the rest of her team already headed towards the end of the hallway. “You, um… you can go and see her now if you want. We’re… not sure when she will wake up, but… yeah…” the woman swallowed harshly, before turning away and following the rest of the agents.

“Alex! Babe, hold up!” Maggie shot out of her seat and immediately ran after her wife, disappearing around the corner that led to the main control area. Lena sighed as she watched them leave, but she wasn’t sure what she felt as her eyes fell back onto the door behind which Kara was now seemingly okay. Or at least going to be. And more importantly; not dead.

She flinched in surprise when she got nudged by Winn again. “You going in first?” he asked.

“Oh… right.” She shook her head, trying to shake off the surreal feeling that this eerily similar scene had been evoking in her, before remembering that Soledad Vasquez was still there; standing at a respectful distance, yet looking curious. “We’ll… talk with you in a minute, all right?” she offered the ghostly woman, who thankfully just nodded in response. Lena let out a deep breath, steeling herself as she marched towards the med-bay.

All determination sagged to her heels however, when she stepped through the door and saw Kara laying there unconscious. The scene was different from last time. She wasn’t laying on one of the beds lining the wall; she was still on the stretcher on which they’d wheeled her in, which was standing in the middle of the room, and clearly her wounds weren’t healing immediately like they were last time. The patch of purple under her right eye wasn’t diminishing in the slightest and neither were the other scrapes and bruises that were visible through all the tears in the unconscious hero’s suit. Lena hesitantly took a step towards her, but just as she did, her phone started ringing. Lena let out a breath she didn’t realise she was holding, as she fumbled to get the device to her ear.

“Hello, Ms. Luthor. I just wanted to let you know that Wednesday's presentation for the board of Kamp Pharmaceutics has been set for two o’clock. I also need your help with-”

“Jess,” Lena interrupted resolutely, never cutting off her staring contest with her unconscious Kara. “This isn’t really a good time, can I call you back?”

“Oh, yes of course.” Lena was ready to hang up, when Jess’s voice sounded again: “There’s, ah… just… one last thing.” It was silent for a moment and Lena started getting impatient. “You remember… when you told me to… ‘use the tie’?” Jess asked hesitantly.

Lena frowned at that. “Yes.”

Jess audibly swallowed. “Works like a charm.”

And much sooner than she would’ve expected after seeing Kara tumble from the sky and fearing for her life… Lena wholeheartedly laughed.

 


 

 

January 19th 2018

 

The lobby on the ground floor of the DEO had seen some strange sights in its day.

There’d been various colourful personalities (and skin tones) that had been dragged through the front door over the years, or that had been brought up from the parking lot. Granted, the personnel on this floor was happy that most intergalactic criminals were usually flown directly to the upper floors by Supergirl, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t seen their fair share of oddities appear through that front door. Nonetheless, everyone still seemed stunned by the sight that stepped through the door this particular evening. That sight being Lena Luthor dressed to the nines in a pitch black evening dress, strutting up to the security check with an annoyed expression.

“Is this still necessary, Isaacs?” she asked.

“You know it’s standard procedure, ma’am,” the man replied monotonously.

Lena rolled her eyes as she lifted her arms to the side and allowed the agent to scan her limbs with a metal detector and then with another similar-looking device that she still couldn’t get a straight answer on what it was scanning for. After getting a curt nod from the man, she was allowed through and she immediately made her way up the stairs and through the by now very familiar set of corridors.

Almost four weeks…

Twenty-six days of waiting and hoping, and still nothing. Kara still wouldn’t wake up…

Lena wandered towards the med-bay on autopilot, where they were keeping Kara in that weird liquid-filled tank since last week. The youngest Luthor had definitely had her doubts about that decision and had said as much (which led to Maggie making an inappropriate crack about Kara’s lips being out of reach). But when faced with technology that even she didn’t understand, not to mention a blue-skinned, white-haired alien from the future who wouldn’t stop reminding everyone that he had a twelfth level intellect, she’d given up on her protesting. Not that she had any kind of authority in this building to begin with, as the security checks she had to go through every single day kept reminding her. Nevertheless, she supposed she should be grateful that she was allowed to visit that often. Turns out that getting Alex to trust her had given her some leeway after all.

Lena approached the small space in front of the med-bay where she had been in such a panic on Christmas Eve, finding Winn already there busy on his phone and with his badge pinned on his shirt. A reminder that she wasn’t just here for Kara today.

“Hey Lena! Maggie just texted that she’ll be here in- whoa…” Winn paused as he looked her up and down, apparently taking in her outfit. “Are you going somewhere?”

“I have a benefit dinner in a few hours,” Lena sighed. “I figured I’d change already, since our cases always seem to go over time.” She came to stand next to her sidekick, peering into the med-bay through the glass window, where Kara was floating in her strange tank. Still unmoving, still sleeping. “It’s never just a quick thing…” Lena swallowed harshly and she had to admit that it was starting to get to her.

The first few days she’d waited patiently for Kara’s healing to kick in. After the first week she thought that it was fine, that Reign had just been an extremely tough opponent and that Kara just needed some more time. Somewhere into week two she’d stopped being able to get a proper night’s sleep, however. She’d relegated more of her work than strictly necessary and was ashamed to admit that she’d been dumping more of L-Corp’s responsibilities on Jess’s shoulders. Probably at the worst possible time, considering their current delicate collaboration with Kamp Pharmaceutics.

Winn suddenly nudged her, apparently catching on to her gloomy mood. “Hey, come on, look on the bright side.”

Lena raised her eyebrows at him. “This has a bright side?” she asked incredulously, while motioning towards the med-bay.

“Yeah. Kara didn’t turn into a ghost, despite being in a coma. Which disproves your Coma Hypothesis.”

Lena blinked in surprise. “I let you borrow my notebook for an hour and you already memorised it?” Winn just shrugged with that cheesy grin of his in place and Lena huffed out a breath as she shook her head. “Actually it’s quite the opposite. I was an idiot, really.” At Winn’s confused expression she explained further; “Corben was not lying. He actually was in a coma, and he did turn into a ghost because of that.”

Winn darted his eyes between the glass and the youngest Luthor with a frown, clearly not getting it. “So… why didn’t Kara? Turn into a ghost now that she’s in a coma, I mean.”

Lena managed a small smile, a rare sight these past few weeks, as she allowed herself to momentarily relish in outsmarting someone (being around that Brainiac 5 guy was frustrating sometimes). “Rule number 10;” she recited from her recently updated ghost-notebook, “People can also turn into a ghost when they are in a coma. And rule number 11; People cannot turn into a ghost more than once.” She gave the man a victorious smirk, as she watched him put the pieces together.

“Ooooooh… so that’s why the second time Corben didn’t…”

“Yes.”

“And why Kara right now isn’t…”

“Exactly.”

“Huh…”

Winn remained silent, seemingly processing the new information, but then Lena noticed the ghost of Soledad Vasquez rounding the corner from the main control center and to the area in front of the med-bay. “Ah, Ms. Luthor,” the woman let out her familiar breathy laugh as she looked her up and down. “I see you’re trying to out-dress me now.” She reverted to her breathy laugh as Lena let out a polite chuckle.

“I have a benefit dinner in a few hours,” she explained quickly. “Look, I’m really sorry it took us this long to help you.” She gave the woman an apologetic look, but the elderly ghost just waved her hand dismissively.

“Ay, it’s okay. I’ve waited five months already, what’s a few more weeks?”

Lena didn’t get a chance to further the conversation, because a loud cross between a grunt and a sigh suddenly signalled Maggie’s arrival, who stepped towards the three people with Mesut in tow and with a grey folder under her arm.

“All praise me, I finally got the stupid papers. Bureaucracy can be a real bi-” Maggie stopped in her tracks in front of Lena. “Damn…” she looked her up and down. “Good idea. If I was Kara, I’d wake up for that too.” She grinned at the youngest Luthor, who just rolled her eyes.

“Benefit dinner. Two hours out. Can we get on with this now?” she grumbled impatiently.

Maggie chuckled to herself one more time, before starting to flip through the folder she’d brought, but Lena was momentarily distracted by something. Namely, by Mesut and Soledad who were giving each other weird looks.

“Hey, I know you,” the ghostly man suddenly proclaimed. “You’re that money lady from Roulette’s fight club.”

The ghostly woman shifted on her feet as she pursed her lips at the man in disapproving fashion. “I didn’t know it was a fight club,” she responded curtly. “Weren’t you the janitor?”

“All right, Luthor,” Maggie pulled out a paper from her folder and Lena’s attention was pulled away from the ghostly conversation as she looked along over the detective’s shoulder. “So this is the official lease for Roulette’s building, which designates it as a homeless shelter. And this,” she pulled out another paper, “is the official permit she got from city hall, allowing her to open one in the first place and which gave her multiple tax breaks as a result.”

“I don’t understand,” Lena shook her head as she looked over the papers. “She wasn’t exactly strapped for cash, why would she go through all this trouble for some tax breaks, not to mention stooping to… you know…” she furtively glanced at Mrs. Vasquez, who was still awkwardly conversing with Mesut, “…scamming old ladies,” she finished with a whisper.

“She used to have plenty of money,” Maggie corrected as she took a third piece of paper out of her folder. And Lena noticed the words ‘Death Certificate’ at the top. “But as it turns out, when she got stuck on that slave-trading planet for all those months, she was presumed dead. Leading to the government seizing her assets and leaving her completely broke once she came back.”

“They can take your money that fast?” Lena asked incredulously and with the slightest hint of paranoia creeping up on her. Because she’d worked damn hard for her company’s fortunes and she didn’t like the idea of it being taken away in a heartbeat, thank you very much.

“Well, apparently the fact that she was a known criminal helped speed up the process,” Maggie offered and Lena relaxed a bit. “But there’s one last thing that could be useful,” the detective put the second piece of paper on top again. “So the building’s lease is registered under the name of a ghost company – yes, I appreciated the irony too – but the permit was actually signed by someone else. And I thought maybe she could be our new Delores Winters.”

Lena frowned at the bottom of the page where Maggie was pointing at, where indeed there was a curly signature of someone that could potentially know Roulette, and who they might be able to use to blackmail her into backing off:

Mallory S. Moon

“Well sure,” Winn offered, causing Lena to flinch because she hadn’t noticed him stepping beside them as he was now also looking at the permit with this mysterious new woman’s name on it. “But who’s to say Roulette even cares about her? Even with Delores Winters we were just being hopeful, right?”

“I appreciate your negativity, Winn,” Lena offered sarcastically, “but this is actually more plausible than last time. This Mallory S. Moon person helped her when she had no money and had presumably nothing else to offer. So she’s either who we’re looking for, or Roulette was blackmailing people even before she died,” Lena finished bitterly.

“I’ll see if there’s a Mallory S. Moon with a legal record tomorrow,” Maggie started as she put the papers back in her grey folder, “but we should probably explain to Agent Vasquez that her grandmother wasn’t intentionally funding an alien fight rink right about now, don’t you think?”

Lena hummed and nodded her head, but as the detective kept looking between the two other living people and Soledad Vasquez gave them all an expectant look, nobody moved for a few seconds.

“So…” Winn looked between the two living women, “…one of you just has to give the papers to Vasquez and explain everything, right? And shazam, another case solved.”

“One of us?” Lena asked surprised. “I thought you were always the first to volunteer for ghost-related tasks?”

“Yeah, usually,” Winn protested. “But Vasquez doesn’t like me very much; I don’t think she appreciated that time I asked her to cover for me while I had to go and do Guardian stuff. Or that second time I asked her to do the same. Or the time after that, or all the other times… well, you get the picture.”

“Huh,” Lena furrowed her brow as she turned to the detective on her left instead, but the woman raised her eyebrows incredulously as she looked between the young CEO and the secret agent.

“Hey, don’t look at me,” Maggie raised her hands defensively, “I don’t have an excuse to have these files in the first place.”

“And I do?” Lena asked annoyed. “At least you’re a police officer, you can-”

“I’ll do it.”

Everyone looked to the side, where Alex had appeared seemingly out of nowhere and was now stepping closer to them.

“Really?” Lena asked, and she couldn’t help from sounding at least mildly shocked. Sure, Alex had allowed her to see Kara every day since the hero’s comatose state, but that was about the extent of their interactions: Lena would ask if there was any change at all, usually Alex would say no, and that would be that.

“Sure,” Alex shrugged, as she took the grey folder from an equally surprised looking Maggie. “I work with her, I could’ve looked into it, and I have a wife who could’ve pulled some strings.” She briefly smiled at the wife in question, before refocusing on Lena. “Assuming you don’t mind?”

“No,” Lena responded quickly, shaking off her surprise. “No, a- absolutely, by all means you tell her.” She gave the secret agent a nervous smile, while being vaguely aware that Maggie was giving her that same ‘my toddlers are learning to interact’-look that she had at her wedding.

“Right. I’ll just go and explain it to her, then.” Alex nodded at the three of them one more time, before turning around and heading towards the corridor that led to the main control area. Mrs. Vasquez interrupted her still incredibly awkward-looking conversation with Mesut to quickly step up to Lena.

“Ms. Luthor, thank you for everything,” she said while, probably instinctively, reaching out to touch her forearm, but of course her hand went straight through. The woman seemed to notice and smiled apologetically, but those small details like ghosts phasing through her didn’t really bother Lena anymore. “I really don’t know what I would have done if Susan had kept hating me for the rest of her life.”

“Don’t mention it,” Lena said with a smile, and after thanking her one more time, the ghostly woman turned around and hurried after Alex. As Lena let out a satisfied sigh, Winn hitched up his pants before moving in the same direction.

“Oh boy, this should be interesting. I’m going to see if I can take a peek.”

“Winn, don’t-”

Before Lena had a chance to finish her thought, the man had already disappeared around the same corner with Mesut right behind him. Both of them apparently keen to snoop. The youngest Luthor just shook her head disapprovingly at the two men.

“Oh, come on Luthor,” Maggie patted her on the back. “You want to know what happens just as much as him, so let’s go and see how Mrs. Danvers saves the day.” Lena just huffed out a breath in exasperation but as she relented and moved to follow her sidekick, Maggie suddenly pulled her back. “Hey, um… just a second, Luthor.” Lena frowned at the woman’s suddenly very serious expression, as she watched her fiddle around the inside pocket of her jacket. “So…” she let out a very deep sigh, and Lena’s frown only grew deeper, “…I guess I don’t have any more excuses to keep holding on to this.” The detective pulled out a gun from her pocket and Lena was momentarily confused, until she recognised it. “Use it responsibly this time,” Maggie said tensely as she finally, after all that time, gave Lena her gun back.

The youngest Luthor took it and stared at the thing for a moment, suddenly very acutely aware that she was standing in just about the same spot that she was the last time she’d held it. Well… things sure had changed since then. Although Lena realised that one crucial thing, namely Kara lying unconscious in the med-bay, was still the same. Lena pulled herself out of those memories and hurried to cut through the tension.

“How did you get this past security?” Lena asked with a chuckle.

“Oh, they don’t scan me anymore,” Maggie grinned at her. “One time they took really long about it and my lunch with Alex got cut in half, so Isaacs apparently had to suffer through Alex ranting at him for half an hour.” The detective snickered to herself. “Since then, they just let me walk straight through.” Lena chuckled along with the detective, until the woman motioned towards the corridor with her head. “Come on, let’s go watch someone else do the dirty work for once.”

Lena nodded, but she paused as Maggie started walking away and before following her, she threw a last glance through the window of the med-bay, where Kara’s closed eyelids and peacefully sleeping features were on display as she floated in that liquid-filled tank. And it suddenly hit her why a familiar feeling had been creeping up on her just now. Because as she opened her purse and stored her gun away, she realised what it represented.

Much like a box of kryptonite had represented something, coming from the currently unconscious Superhero sleeping in the med-bay.

Once Lena reached the others, they were all standing on the overhanging walkway looking down onto the main control center. Winn, Maggie and Mesut were leaning on the railing and Lena joined them, putting herself in between Maggie and Winn. And as she searched the area, she spotted Alex and Agent Vasquez standing just beyond a set of doors, only visible through the small glass windows of the doors in question. Soledad was standing beside her granddaughter, who had the grey folder in her hands as she was apparently reading the documents, while Alex appeared to be talking her through the contents.

The four people leaning over the railing of the walkway kept peering into the scene from a distance, as Alex continued her explanation as to why Mrs. Vasquez wasn’t a horrible person after all, why it had all been a misunderstanding and how she’d thought she was funding a homeless shelter. Apparently finishing her story, Alex gave the other agent a pat on the shoulder before leaving through the same doors Lena and the rest were currently staring through. As the doors swung back into place and Agent Vasquez’s face became visible again, they saw her staring ahead at the folder in her hands for a good minute. Then, slowly and carefully, as if it contained highly fragile material, the young agent closed the folder and pressed it to her chest. Before her face contorted in a failed attempt at holding back her tears and she slid down the wall she was leaning against and out of view of intrusive eyes. Leaving only Soledad Vasquez standing beside her, looking down at her granddaughter with a sad smile. And Lena started sporting one of her own as light started seeping through the elderly woman’s skin.

“Case closed,” Lena announced softly, as she watched the light emitting from Mrs. Vasquez grow stronger and stronger by the second. As Winn exclaimed in victory, she kept watching the light envelop the ghostly woman’s body entirely, before starting to pull apart and form those glowing orbs of light. She watched as two of them actually floated halfway through the doors, before starting to disappear, and eventually fade out into nothing. Leaving nothing behind, if not the guilt of Susan Vasquez at having assumed her grandmother was a terrible person.

 

Soledad Vasquez had just passed on.

 

“So about what I said last month,” Maggie suddenly started, and Lena blinked in surprise as she turned to the side. “I’m sorry I tried to pressure you into helping the police,” the detective gave her an apologetic smile. “I get that you’ve got a lot on your plate right now. And most other times, too.” Lena chuckled at that, because it was definitely true. “I just need to ask one last thing,” Maggie said, turning serious. “Suppose we have a murder on our hands… and suppose we’re not getting anywhere with the investigation. I mean… I’m guessing if the victim turned into a ghost they would want to put their killer behind bars, right? So… in that specific case… would it be all right if I asked for your help? After this whole Roulette mess is over, of course.”

The detective kept looking at her, while Lena thought about it for a second. And although she wasn’t jumping for joy at the thought of getting served even more ghost cases, she also realised that that was probably because the whole Roulette situation had soured her view on the matter. And that if it wasn’t for the ghostly Cadmus sympathizer, she wouldn’t have even had any ghost cases to begin with for these past few months. So maybe having a way to find ghosts in need wasn’t such a bad thing…

“Yes,” Lena finally said, nodding at the detective. “I suppose I could do that.”

Maggie gave her a nod. “All right.” She let out a satisfied sigh as she looked over the main control area of the DEO. “I wish I had a cheat code like that for all problematic situations at the NCPD,” she proclaimed in a much more bitter tone, causing Lena to frown at her.

“What do you mean?” the youngest Luthor asked with confusion, and she was surprised at the sudden protests from Winn and Mesut on her other side.

“No, no, don’t ask her tha-”

“Because McConnell is such and asshole!!” Maggie exclaimed, while the two men let out almost identical dramatic groans.

“Ugh, not again,” Mesut sighed.

“Here we go,” Winn muttered.

“His stupid special taskforce investigating Lillian’s flying turrets has been going on for months and he still hasn’t made any progress!! But does the captain take his ass off the case?! Oh, noooo… because ‘he has the best track record leading these kind of divisions, detective Danvers’. And ‘he has been with the force for twenty-nine years, he knows what he’s doing’. It’s absolutely ridiculous!!” Maggie bristled as she shook her head. “If he really knew what he was doing, he would have allowed a third party to examine those metal remains at this point!! But you should have seen his face when I brought that up the other day!! And you know the worst part?! You know what’s even worse than all that nonsense?!” Maggie paused for a moment, but before Lena could hazard a guess, she heard Winn and Mesut mutter the answer behind her.

“He still calls me Sawyer,” the two men mimicked in perfect sync.

“He still calls me Sawyer!!” Maggie barked, before huffing out an angry breath and leaning back on the rail. “I consider myself a good cop, but I’m telling you, I’ve seriously considered stealing those metal remains from the precinct and having them analysed myself, and I probably would’ve done it too if there weren’t any security cameras. It gets really tempting when you’re the last one there late at night and… and you…” Maggie faltered as she gave the youngest Luthor a weird look. “Why are you laughing?”

Lena, as it turns out, couldn’t really help the huge grin that was forming on her face as she looked from the detective to her sidekick and back again. Because this situation might actually have a cheat code to get the detective out of it after all.

“Has Winn ever mentioned…” Lena started with her excited grin still in place, “…that he has an awesome girlfriend?”

 


 

 

“On behalf of the Luthor Foundation, I would like to express our gratitude for your attendance tonight.”

The entire ballroom was quiet and attentive as they watched the youngest Luthor give her speech from behind her lectern, addressing the people at the many round tables spread across the room. The woman’s black dress and steady voice gave an air of elegance and commanded attention, which is why no one would have guessed that Lena’s attention wasn’t on the speech she was currently rattling off. In fact, she was more worried about the metal remains that Lyra had managed to sneak out of the police station not too long ago.

“…will aid our continued support of the Foundation’s Children’s Hospital, not too mention our many other beneficiaries.”

Dr. Benson was probably finding out where they came from right now, Lena thought to herself as she flipped to the next page. How Maggie was going to steer an investigation she wasn’t in charge of in the right direction once they found their answers was another matter entirely, but as always; one headache at the time.

“…a tremendous respect for those who, in these uncertain times, keep giving their fair share so that we can keep our charities not just on their feet, but be a continuous force fore change.”

And who knows, instead of only indicting some manufacturing company, they might actually get closer to figuring out who was in charge of Cadmus now.

“…shouldn’t matter, because we can always help one another, as the Luthor Foundation will seek to keep doing in the future.”

It was ridiculous really, the amount of mysteries they were trying to solve at the same time. Who was leading Cadmus? Was it the same person that could see ghosts? Who was Mallory S. Moon? And could finding her really help them to stop Roulette?

“…the food, which is merely a token of our appreciation for all your help. Thank you once more and p-” Lena froze in place and suddenly, not another word would come out.

An interruption in her flawless speech, a hitch of her breath, her throat suddenly closing up. An unmistakable crack in her always so impenetrable mask of professional detachment.

Because there… right there at the very back of the ballroom, standing around in a baby blue dress like it was the most normal thing in the world with her eyes trained on the stage, was Kara. Her Kara, conscious, standing upright, and using her eyes like weapons to cut straight into her heart from all the way back there. The silence persisted, a soft murmur rising from the crowd, while Lena only had eyes for the spectacled reporter on the other end of the room. Who dared to smile at her and give a small wave.

“And please enjoy the rest of your evening,” Lena forced out in a less than steady voice, her eyes still trained on the other end of the room, for fear that the blonde woman would vanish and turn out to be a figment of her imagination. “Thank you,” Lena mimicked acknowledging the crowd, but in reality her eyes didn’t move from their target. As the youngest Luthor stepped off the podium and a hesitant applause greeted the sudden end of her speech, Lena kept her singular focus and made a beeline for the other end of the room.

“Hey, Lena, you were really- oh!” Kara made a surprised sound at getting grabbed by the wrist before being dragged out of the ballroom. “Uh… Lena, what- what are you…?” Kara made another sound as she got dragged around a corner by Lena, who didn’t even look at her while she kept guiding the blonde through the corridors of the quiet building; past various empty conference rooms and offices, before Lena found what she was looking for. Lena finally let go of the alien woman’s wrist and closed the door behind them, locking them into the small break room and away from prying eyes and ears.

Lena stood there a second, her back against the door and her breaths getting heavier as she stared at the woman who was definitely real, was definitely standing right in front of her and wasn’t in a coma anymore.

“Um… hi,” Kara repeated sheepishly. “I came as soon as I-” The rest of her sentence was forgotten, as Lena suddenly stepped forward and gave the Superhero an angry shove.

“ARE YOU COMPLETELY STUPID?!!” Kara seemed to be taken utterly off guard, which infuriated Lena even more. “DON’T. EVER. DO THAT. AGAIN!!” Lena emphasised every word with a fist to the woman’s arm, who flinched away every time.

“Lena!” Kara protested. “Careful, you’ll hurt yourself…”

“SHE’S A WORLDKILLER, KARA!!” Lena shouted, her anger and desperate tone still being met with that confused look that she usually found so adorable in the alien woman. “A WORLDKILLER!! NOT A NATIONAL CITY KILLER, NOT A CALIFORNIA KILLER!! NOT A ‘SUPERGIRL-TERRITORY-ONLY’-KILLER!! A WORLDKILLER!!” She looked at Kara with complete outrage in her eyes, and the woman had the decency to shrink under her gaze. “So promise me…” Lena exhaled a shaky breath, “promise me you won’t do something like that again.” She looked at Kara intently, but the blue-eyed reporter just seemed highly confused.

“I- I don’t understand,” she stammered. “What- what do you want me to promise exact-”

“THAT THE NEXT TIME YOU GO GALAVANTING AFTER REIGN, YOU’LL CALL YOUR FUCKING COUSIN!!”

“Okay, okay! I promise!” Kara squeaked out.

Lena nodded her head. “Good.” She swallowed as the two of them just stood there a second; Lena calming down from her rant, while Kara looked partly concerned and partly terrified. “I have to go mingle,” Lena suddenly proclaimed, turning on her heels and returning to her benefit event.

“But- but Lena…”

Kara trailed after her, and that would become a theme throughout the night. Lena dutifully did her rounds among the many people that had donated money to her foundation, while Kara hovered around her perimeter. She would try to get closer on several occasions, but Lena’s icy glare would scare her off from trying to get a word in. But despite getting the cold shoulder from her the entire evening, despite Lena paying more attention to boring small talk and a few too many alcoholic beverages to calm her lingering nerves, Kara never left.

Which came in handy when the few (turned lots) too many drinks started to catch up to the youngest Luthor.

 



  

The dark and empty penthouse of Lena Luthor had been silent for most of the night. Now however, soft voices could be heard on the other side of the front door, while a key rotated clumsily in the lock. The door finally swung open and the lights flicked on, as a softly giggling Lena stumbled inside on unsteady feet.

“See?” she chuckled. “I told you, I’m totally fine.” She proceeded to dump her purse on her counter, getting there in a mostly straight line, while Kara gave an unconvinced sound as she closed the door behind them.

“You just said totally,” Kara observed. “Lena Luthor doesn’t say totally.”

Lena made something that wasn’t supposed to be a petulant sound but came out that way anyway. She shrugged off her jacket in annoyance, leaving her in her black evening dress. She eyed Kara with equal amounts of annoyance, because she couldn’t quite remember when she’d broken her self-imposed rule for the night of giving her the silent treatment for getting almost killed by Reign. She looked Kara’s hesitant stance up and down, still in that blue dress in which she’d walked the youngest Luthor home because of course she didn’t need a jacket. With her stupid alien body that kept itself warm. That would be great at keeping other bodies wa-

“Right,” Lena cleared her throat (and mind), while shaking her head to herself. “Because you know exactly how I talk, don’t you?” Lena challenged coolly, while crossing her arms.

Kara stepped closer while fiddling with her fingers. “Lena…”

“I’m still mad at you.”

Kara halted, a few steps away from the youngest Luthor. “But Lena…” she said almost pleadingly, and Lena’s stupid heart was already in the process of melting before she could tell it to get a grip. “…you know that I’m going to be in danger in these types of-”

“That doesn’t mean you have to be stupid!” Lena interrupted. “That doesn’t mean that you should dive into a fight with someone like Reign with no other plan than; ‘I’m going to try my darndest!’”

Kara frowned at the squeaky voice Lena made with that last part. “Was that supposed to be me?”

“That doesn’t mean you should have to face someone who threatens the entire planet by yourself when you have a nearly as powerful cousin a five-minute Super-flight away,” Lena continued, completely ignoring Kara’s comments. “You shouldn’t…” Lena swallowed, cursing the residual alcohol in her system for making her emotional when she was trying to tell someone off over here. “You shouldn’t die,” Lena said softly. “Especially not like that.” She looked up, where Kara gave her an understanding look, magically not making it look like pity in that way that only she could.

“I know,” Kara whispered. “I’m sorry.”

Lena just nodded at that, looking back down at the floor. But after a few seconds of silence, Kara apparently couldn’t keep quiet.

“You know what’s a shame, though?” Kara asked, causing Lena to arch a questioning eyebrow. “There were quite a few people dancing tonight…” Kara kept giving her a small smile, but Lena didn’t know what that meant.

“And why is that a shame?” Lena drawled.

“No, it’s just that I- we didn’t get…” Kara chuckled and shook her head before starting over. “What I mean is,” she extended her hand, “will you dance with me?”

Lena didn’t know whether to laugh or to swoon, but even though the rational thing to do was laugh this off, she found herself entranced enough to extend her own hand. Stupid alcohol. Stupid melted heart. Stupid Kara with her stupidly beautiful eyes.

It was completely silly if you thought about it, but the one thing Lena was not doing right now was thinking clearly. Definitely not a clear thought to be found, as her free hand found Kara’s shoulder while the alien woman’s hand found Lena’s side before sliding carefully towards her back. All the resentment she was holding against Kara for being an idiot was vanishing as fast as the space between them. Until there was almost none left. She avoided the blue eyes right in front of her face, instead opting to look to the side, but she could somehow feel the warmth radiating off the other woman. She wondered if that was an alien thing. She should really ask her more about that side of her.

“This is silly,” Lena said instead.

“Oh… because there’s no music? Well, there’s a simple solution for that!” Kara loudly cleared her throat before taking a deep breath, but Lena realised what was going on and cut her off immediately.

“Don’t you dare sing.”

The alien woman gulped down instead of exhaling.

“In fact, I think that should be your punishment. For being completely stupid and inconsiderate with your own life, you’ll have to drop the musical thing.”

“Nooooo…” She could almost feel Kara pouting, but she kept her eyes averted. “That’s an unusually cruel punishment.”

“Drama queen,” Lena muttered.

“Hmpf…” Kara huffed a small breath, never stopping the small shifting motions of their feet as they shuffled to the sound of complete silence on Lena’s Persian rug. “So if I promise to stop bursting into song, you’ll forgive me?” Her voice was suddenly a lot quieter, less humorous too, and if she didn’t know better Lena would’ve almost called it desperate.

And Lena wasn’t over it, not by a long shot. Four weeks sitting by the bedside of your comatose best friend (read: one and only love), will do that to someone. But she was also tired. Not just because it was almost midnight and because she’d gotten a bit carried away with the champagne but more so, she was tired of resisting the pull that rivalled that of the Earth’s gravity, when the living and now finally moving embodiment of sunshine was only inches removed from her. So she gave in.

“Sure,” Lena muttered. And without looking up, she pulled Kara closer. Just because she could. Now close enough to rest her chin on Kara’s shoulder should her self-restraint crack a little more, she for now resisted that urge and just appreciated that their cheeks were only inches apart and that she could feel the woman’s breath grazing her ear. Which it did, as Kara let out a breathy laugh in a very Mrs. Vasquez kind of way. They danced, if you could even call it that, while Lena could almost feel the relief radiating from the alien woman’s body. And she herself managed to relax in Kara’s arms.

“You know, I’m proud of you,” the blonde suddenly proclaimed.

“Meaning?” Lena hummed.

“You were still here when I woke up.”

Lena just groaned softly, because she would be really glad if they never broached that particular subject ever again. Dr Talbot and his lectures about open communication be damned.

“And I hear you came to see me every day,” Kara smiled.

“Who snitched?” Lena grumbled.

“Maggie.”

“Of course,” Lena muttered dryly. Causing Kara’s familiar bubbly laugh to escape from her lips.

“You really are something else, you know? You came to the DEO all the time, you apparently helped a ghost too while you were at it and helped sick children with tonight’s benefit dinner.”

Lena scoffed, because if it wasn’t for Jess and James taking over the vast majority of her daily duties at their respective offices, she would’ve probably succumbed to a nervous breakdown. “Okay, okay,” she admonished. “I already forgave you, there’s no need to suck up to me anymore.”

“No, I’m serious! You’re amazing!” Lena just shook her head fondly, not having the energy to protest. The alien woman sighed deeply, the breath grazing past Lena’s ear and sending shivers down her spine as a result. “With everything that happened… I’m so proud of you. You really are that amazing.” Kara suddenly let out a soft chuckle. “If you liked musicals, you’d be perfect.”

Lena bit her bottom lip, because she suddenly had a thought. It was a really stupid thought and also childish. A really bad idea all things considered, so she really should keep quiet. She really didn’t need to open her mouth and start-

“Heaven…”

Oh, god.

“I’m in heaven…”

She was never drinking champagne again.

“And my heart beats so, that I can hardly speak.”

Lena ignored the creeping feeling of total embarrassment, as she tried force the tune from that old movie Kara had made her watch once past her protesting vocal chords.

“And I seem to find the happiness I seek…”

Kara had gone completely rigid, apparently stunned by Lena’s impromptu song.

when we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.”

She had no idea what possessed her, but as she sung the last line and they both stopped moving, she actually brushed her cheek past Kara’s while taking half a step back. She shook her head to herself, only now realising how silly that was, as she looked at her shoes.

“There,” Lena muttered. “Happy now?”

She kept looking down as she chuckled to herself for being silly, which is why she missed it. She missed Kara looking at her with wide eyes and pink cheeks. She missed the blonde’s dazed look, and she missed her stepping closer. Only when she looked up, did she notice that Kara’s face was suddenly a lot closer than it was before. And only a split second later did she realise what was going on.

 

Only when Kara’s lips were pressing against her own.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

January 20th 2018

 

This had to be a dream.

There was no other logical explanation for what was happening right now. Lena was frozen in time, her mind as much as the rest of her body, as the only sensations filtering in were that of Kara’s hands on her forearms, the rim of Kara’s glasses pressing into her cheek and the woman’s lips pressing against her own. Lena was completely paralysed, her eyes wide open, as she tried to trace back when she’d detached herself from reality and when this strange hallucination had kicked in. It felt so real that Lena actively forced herself to not move a single muscle, afraid that she might break this strange champagne-induced spell and accidentally wake herself up.

Kara eventually pulled back after a few seconds, or maybe it was longer. (What was time anyway? What was life? What was anything?) Lena stared, still paralysed from head to toe, as she watched Kara’s face hovering a few inches away with her eyes still closed firmly as if she was trying to hold on to a dream of her own right now. Her eyes slowly opened, bright blue irises staring back at Lena, who felt as if her chest had been split open and every last warm emotion and fuzzy feeling came tumbling out and sent electric tingles up and down her spine all at the same time. As Lena was still trying to process what was going on, Kara suddenly seemed to snap out of her daze.

“Oh Rao!!” Kara suddenly clasped her hands over her mouth. “I’m so sorry! I- I didn’t… oh Rao…” she kept babbling on about something or other, but Lena was too busy mentally pinching herself to really react to any of it.

Was this real? Was this a dream? What the hell was going on…?

“…but I really didn’t mean to and- and… I’m really sorry, I- I should just go, I-” Kara shook her head to herself as she started moving to the door and Lena suddenly realised that all she had done in the past thirty seconds was standing there like a statue with wide eyes.

This was real, right? This wasn’t a dream. Holy shit…

“Kara…”

She’d barely managed to get the sound out of her mouth when the door slammed shut behind the alien woman, leaving Lena still frozen in the same spot with her hand half-heartedly outstretched towards her. But Lena’s mind was starting to catch up now, very slowly, and it almost felt like a giant wave crashing onto the shore of her consciousness. Kara had kissed her…

Kara had kissed her…

The reality hit her, sending any remainder of her alcohol-infused daze out of her mind as suddenly she was dashing to the door; catching up to Kara suddenly the only thing that mattered. She pulled the door open, almost throwing herself into the corridor but then-

“Miss Lena!”

The youngest Luthor wasn’t one to get caught by surprise, but this time she couldn’t help but yelping at the sudden appearance of Mesut. If this night continued offering any more of these shocks, she might suffer a heart attack soon.

“I did it, Miss Lena! I teleported!”

“That’s, uh… that’s great, Mesut, but this isn’t a good time right now.” She shook off her surprise and continued past the ghostly man and into the corridor towards the elevator, but Mesut trailed after her.

“But it’s an emergency! Roulette is kidnapping someone!”

Lena stopped in her tracks, a hook behind her heart seemingly urging her to run after Kara, but this new information keeping her rooted on the spot. Her current state only allowing her to form the most basic of questions. “What?”

“I was looking for her, you know, to tell her about Maggie’s day as usual. But then when I found her, she was following these two guys while they were creeping after this alien. And one of them knocked over a trash can, which means they’re alive, and then the alien started running and then I tried teleporting here to tell you all that and then I did!”

Lena stood still for a second as she looked back at Mesut’s agitated expression. For once, she had to force herself to listen to the logical part of her brain, instead of following the tug of the hook that seemed to be lodged behind her heart and that wanted to guide her after Kara. She briefly considered killing two birds with one stone as she looked at the watch with the Supergirl signal on her left wrist, but she couldn’t risk Kara thinking she was just calling her to talk about what had just happened and ignoring the call. Like she would have any idea what to say… I mean, after what just happened- No! She had to focus, there was an innocent alien about to be kidnapped!

“Mesut, take me to where you saw them,” she stated resolutely, causing the ghostly man to give a determined nod before dashing down the hall. And Lena followed, while pulling her phone out of her purse and putting it to her ear.

“Hello?”

“James,” Lena breathed as she started running. “I need your help.”

 


 

 

The streets of National City were doused in silence, the distant sound of a car driving by being the only thing that could be heard from a lamp-lit alley next to St. Christopher Street. The night enveloped every space that wasn’t covered by the street lights in complete darkness, as the entire city slept soundly on this cold January night. The silence near that particular street was driven out gradually as a pair of high heels could be heard clicking against the pavement at a rapid pace. The owner of the pair of heels in question ran past the alley, followed closely by her ghostly companion whose movements didn’t make a single noise.

“Are you sure it was here?” Lena panted as she ran through the poorly lit and deserted street, not a single entity living or dead to be seen.

“Well, they were before they ran off over there,” Mesut answered as he pointed in the direction they were both already running in. Lena groaned as she ran all the way to the end of the street, gazing left then right at the two options between which she had to guess where the unfortunate alien might have run off to. She turned right, deciding that running towards the better lit, higher populated part of town would have been the most logical decision. And she hoped that their potential victim still had the clarity to think logically in their current state.

Lena kept running straightforward while Mesut, being a lot faster, kept darting into side streets to look and listen for their target over there before catching up with the youngest Luthor again. They couldn’t have been at it for more than five minutes but to Lena, who was tired, still wearing her goddamn heels and with a residual champagne buzz in her system, it felt like a lot longer. She was just starting to lose hope, when suddenly-

“Miss Lena!! Did you hear that?!”

Lena came to a stop, almost tripping over her own feet as she backtracked to the alley where Mesut was standing while looking intently at the darkness. She trained her ears, at first not picking up on anything but her own heavy breaths and her pounding heart, but then she heard it. A distant shouting and then something that could only be described as violent noises.

“Got ‘em!!” Mesut exclaimed, as he launched himself forward and Lena hurriedly trudged after him. As they went ahead into the narrow street and the lights grew gradually more sparse, they could hear the grunting and shouting get louder. As they reached the end of the alley and came out into a small urban street that was almost completely dark, the noises seemed to suddenly be right next to them. And as Lena turned to look to her right, she realised that was because they were right next to them.

Her blood instantly turned to ice in her veins. Not so much because of the two thugs throwing kicks and punches in the cover of the night’s darkness. Not so much because she recognised them by their outfits as being goons of Cadmus. Not so much because of the pained shouts and pleas from the alien man on the floor. But more so because a few feet in front of her, standing directly between Lena and the disturbing scene was a woman in a tight red dress. A woman with a snake tattoo going around both of her shoulders and who, judging by her posture, was staring intently at the ongoing beat down. Lena was petrified, standing as still as Roulette was standing right in front of her, not knowing how to react for a split second.

“I have- OW!” the alien on the floor shouted. “AH! I have it! I- AHH! I have the mo-”

The thugs and Roulette visibly jolted when the loud screeching of tires could be heard and a van suddenly appeared at the end of the street, flying around the corner at breakneck speed. Its lights shone right in the faces of all the stunned people and, without even stopping, the door on the side slid open and The Guardian jumped out of the moving van. The two figures abandoned their mission almost immediately as they turned around and started running from the incoming vigilante. Lena quickly took a step to the side, her shoulder colliding harshly with the building on the corner between the small street and the dark alley as the two men rushed closely past her. She clutched her purse to her stomach, breathing a sigh of relief as she watched James chase the two thugs into the night. She turned around to check on the alien man, and that’s when her blood froze in her veins all over again.

Because Roulette had turned around as well and was now giving her a fiery stare that gave the impression she was barely containing her rage. “What… are you doing here?” she hissed, her tone menacing enough to make even Lena tremble in her heels. She kept a mostly cool expression, but as Roulette took a step forward she realised that she didn’t have an intelligent answer at the ready.

“I could ask you the same thing,” Lena said, trying to muster up an air of confidence.

“Don’t play games with me!” the ghostly woman growled, her anger appearing to rise to the surface. “Are you following me, Luthor?! Because I thought I’d made it very clear what would happen if you didn’t stick to my rules!” Lena swallowed at that, the threat of every ghost in the city knowing of her existence suddenly seeming very real, but she finally managed a clear argument.

“Oh, get over yourself,” Lena scoffed, hoping she sounded convincing. “I was just walking home when I heard some strange noises nearby. How would I even follow you anyway?” Lena finished with a dismissive huff, but her heart sank once again when the other woman seemed to be scanning the area behind her. And as Lena dared to glance over her shoulder, she felt an immense sense of relief wash over her upon seeing that Mesut was nowhere to be found. Meaning the man had had the good sense to hide somewhere. A good thing too, otherwise this could’ve ended very badly.

As Lena fixed her eyes back on Roulette, the ghostly woman seemed to want to say something, but her head snapped back at the sound of a conversation happening behind her. And as Lena looked past her, she noticed that Winn had stepped out of the van and was helping the battered alien to his feet.

“Are you okay? Are you… Brian?!”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” the blue-skinned alien muttered as he got back upright. “I could’ve sworn I paid all those guys off…”

“Oh, you thought… right…” Winn cleared his throat, apparently deciding not to burden the alien man with the knowledge that his would-be kidnappers definitely weren’t moneylenders, but then Brian started walking away.

“Hey- hey, hang on! Are you sure you’re okay?!”

“I’m fine, I just need to get home.” The alien waved him off as Winn just stood there, clearly not sure what to do.

“I’m warning you, Luthor!” Lena’s attention was roughly pulled back to the ghostly woman who was now getting right up in her face. “I better not run into you again!” With that the woman suddenly turned around and stormed off, walking with clear anger in her steps, but what concerned Lena the most was that she went straight back after Brian again; following him around the corner and into the narrow alley next to the main street.

“Phew,” Winn chuckled as he came to stand next to her. “Pretty epic save, huh? Did you catch my driving skills coming around that corner?”

Lena, however, wasn’t concerned with the epicness of their actions. Because this whole situation just seemed to get more ominous every day. “Winn, van, now.” Lena directed her sidekick to the vehicle, even though her concern seemed to puzzle him, but just as he stepped inside Mesut suddenly stepped through the wall of a building.

“Is she gone?” he asked quietly, looking from left to right.

“Yes, she went that way,” Lena motioned to the dark alley, as Mesut stepped fully through the wall of the building. “We were very lucky she didn’t see you.”

“Yeah,” Mesut huffed out a breath. “I have to go after her, though. I was already late with my report on Maggie as it was.”

“Figure out what she’s doing,” Lena said firmly, giving him an intent look. “I know you said you can’t be sneaky,” she insisted upon seeing that he was about to protest. “But just tell me what she’s doing when you find her. Is she still following Brian? Is she going back to report about what happened? I need something.” The man fiddled for a moment under her intense stare, but eventually nodded his head before disappearing around the corner to the alley. Lena let out a heavy sigh as she stepped into the back of the van and pulled the doors closed behind her.

“What’s wrong?” Winn asked from his chair behind the electronics, still seeming puzzled at Lena’s serious demeanour as she took a seat on the bench to the side. “We just did great, didn’t we?”

Lena was about to respond, but at that point the doors opened again and James stepped inside as he pulled off his mask. Before she could even ask, the man already held his hand up as he closed the doors behind him and shook his head. “They got away,” he said bitterly.

“Shit.” Lena pursed her lips at the floor as James slumped down next to her, while Winn just frowned from one to the other.

“Okay, can someone explain what you two are so gloomy about? Because I think we just saved the alien and sent the bad guys packing.” He kept looking between James and Lena with raised eyebrows, but neither of them cheered up.

“And now Roulette suspects – correctly, by the way – that we’re somehow monitoring her activities,” Lena said gravely. “Not to mention that now that those two guys got away, we don’t have a way to figure out who sees ghosts at Cadmus or why they keep kidnapping all these aliens, or why they only pick a select few of them. Not to mention all the other things that don’t make sense…” Lena let out a long breath, resisting the urge to scream her frustrations out as she instead buried her face in her hands for a moment. She took a deep breath before looking back up, calming her nerves, before doing what she did best. Go over this logically.

“Okay, let’s see,” she started. “What do we know about Brian?”

“Well… you met him during your mother’s attack, remember? He couldn’t see, and-”

“I remember,” Lena interrupted through gritted teeth, “but I meant his species. Is there something special about them? Something that would make Cadmus interested in him?”

“Oh… I don’t think so? I mean… maybe it’s because there aren’t a lot of them? I believe he’s one of the few of his kind in National City. Hang on, let me check.” He promptly turned to the screens in front of him and started typing away.

“You really think they want to kidnap him because he’s… rare?” James suddenly questioned.

“Well, there has to be some logic behind this nonsense!” Lena proclaimed, more exasperated than she’d intended. “If Roulette is following him personally, then he’s either important somehow or Cadmus is running out of ghosts to do the dirty work for them.”

“Well, that’s possible, isn’t it?” James insisted. “Roulette has been ordering the victims of that explosion around, but they have to run out of them at some point, right?”

“Maybe…”

“Found it.” Winn turned in his chair, pointing back at the screen behind him. “Brian is one of only two of his species in National City. But if they have some kind of special quality or power that Cadmus wants them for then it’s something the DEO isn’t aware of, cause there’s nothing about it in our database.” Winn looked pensive for a moment. “Maybe we could… bring Brian to your lab for some tests?” he offered.

“Not if he’s being followed, we can’t,” Lena responded. “The idea is to convince Roulette that we’re not trying to find out what she’s doing.”

“Oh… right.”

“Miss Lena!” The youngest Luthor flinched in surprise at Mesut suddenly jumping through the doors of the van. “I’m back!”

“Great,” Lena grumbled, breathing out through her nose at the sudden scare. “So? Anything?”

“She was not reporting anything,” Mesut started, “and it looked like she was just standing around in front of an apartment, but I managed to peek through the wall when she wasn’t looking and I saw that Brian guy. So I guess she’s still following him.”

Lena fell silent for a moment as she rubbed her temple and went over the information at hand. Roulette was personally following a target for Cadmus, which either meant that she was out of ghosts to order around, or it meant that Brian was somehow a more valuable target than the others. Whichever it was, she was going to have to ask Maggie to have someone tail Brian around the clock. If Lena went anywhere near him again, Roulette would probably pull the trigger on her plan to expose her secret to every ghost in town but that didn’t mean she was just going to let the alien man get kidnapped. As she looked back up at Mesut however, she suddenly realised that she might have the answer to one of her questions right in front of her.

“Mesut… do you know how many people were in Roulette’s fight club when it exploded?” she asked intently.

The ghostly man looked surprised for a moment, before frowning as he seemingly tried to remember. “Well, there was me and Miss Roulette obviously,” he started counting on his fingers. “There was the guy in the suit, the jacked security guard lady and the old rich woman we helped today.” Lena nodded along, the faces of Mr. Van de Kamp, Anna Burik and Mrs. Vasquez all flashing through her mind. “Then when she was explaining what she wanted from us, there were also these two teenagers that I saw earlier that day, but I have no idea how they managed to get into the building.” Lena nodded again, remembering both Jay Lasseter and Ronnie Maverick’s unfortunate decision to sneak in through the air ducts. “And there was that alien woman with her baby that I let in right before it happened, but I didn’t see them after the explosion.”

“There was a baby?” Lena asked with surprise.

“Yeah. I didn’t mention that?”

Lena shook her head at this new information, relaying the facts to the two living men as she simultaneously realised that James was probably right after all with his assumptions about Roulette running out of ghosts to boss around. She was still thinking things over when she noticed Winn shaking his head at them.

“You guys really need to start being less negative, you know,” Winn commented, looking at James and Lena’s grim expressions while chewing on something that he’d pulled out of his pocket. “It’s not very hero-like.”

“Still not a hero, Winn,” Lena muttered distracted, as she tried to make sense of things in her head.

But Winn suddenly sighed very deeply as he paused and gave her a pensive look. “Okay, so I have a serious question. You’re big on logic, right?”

“Everyone should be,” Lena stated matter-of-factly.

“Okay, well in that case, let’s examine the facts.” He sat up straighter and gave her a determined look. “Being a triple sidekick and an avid fan of comic books, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on heroes,” he started smugly, and Lena was already shaking her head in exasperation. “So what makes a hero?” He raised his hand and started counting on his fingers. “They have a strong sense of morality, check. They continue in their efforts despite any and all adversity, double check.”

“Just because I happened to have a shitty family, that doesn’t automatically-”

“They put other people’s needs above their own, check,” Winn continued undeterred. “They often have a very cool and helpful sidekick, so…” he gave one of his cheeky grins, “check, obviously. If they’re really good they develop the habit of saving the world and since you’ve already done that twice, check. They have an innate urge to save everyone, even when they can’t or don’t need to, check.”

“Wait, wait, that one’s not true,” Lena protested. “If I meet a ghost, of course they need to be saved.”

“Ahh, no, no, that’s not what I meant,” Winn said, looking entirely too smug. “Maggie told me about your new driver,” he explained. “Technically you’ve already done your job by helping her husband, but you still couldn’t resist hiring Angie Jackson, could you?”

Lena shifted uncomfortably under Winn’s self-satisfied grin. “She prefers Angela. Apparently only Harold called her Angie,” she muttered. “And so what? I hired a grieving widow, so sue me,” she grumbled defensively. “Besides,” Lena continued, her tone turning grim, “if I really saved everyone, I wouldn’t have let Snapper leave CatCo.” Her expression turned bitter, as she thought about the man’s daughter.

“But see, the fact that you think all those people are your responsibility proves my point!” Winn exclaimed. “I mean, come on, even if you’re one of those idiots who thinks that all it takes to be a hero is some sort of special power…” he gestured her up and down, “…you have an awesome power!” He kept staring at her, trying to drive his point home. “So… logically speaking… how are you not a hero?”

Lena stayed silent for a minute as she found herself in the unusual situation of not immediately having an answer at the ready. She uncomfortably looked to the side where James held up his hands defensively. “Hey, don’t look at me, I agree with him.” Lena just rolled her eyes at that. “And just for the record, you do realise Snapper is coming back, right?”

Lena’s head snapped to attention at that, giving the tall man beside her an incredulous look. “He is?” she asked hopefully.

“Of course, that’s kind of the point of a sabbatical,” James chuckled. “You leave for a while and then you come back.”

Lena let out an incredulous huff, almost embarrassed at the huge weight that immediately seemed to lift itself off her shoulders. All these months of worrying and feeling guilty. All these months of imagining the dirty looks Sam would be giving her at the news of her father leaving CatCo. Apparently all for no reason.

She was still shaking her head at herself when her phone buzzed with an incoming message, prompting her to take it out of her purse. “Crap,” she muttered under her breath. “Dr. Benson finished analysing those metals Lyra stole from the police station,” she announced to the rest. “We need to pick them up so she can sneak them back in.”

Winn enthusiastically clapped his hands together as he got up from his station and moved to the driver seat. “And off to the next mission! Helping Maggie prove that McConnell is an idiot!” He grinned to himself. “And making sure she doesn’t have to kiss her job goodbye for stealing from the police station,” he added with a chuckle.

Kiss.

Kissing.

Kara kissing her.

On the lips.

Voluntarily.

Lena inhaled sharply as the forgotten moment made its way back to the forefront of her mind (honestly, how do you forget about life-altering moments that happened within the last hour?!!), causing her to jump to her feet. Her right hand momentarily hovered over her Supergirl-summoning watch, but she realised the same two problems as before still applied; Would Kara answer right now, and what would she even say? Maybe she needed some advice about that last one…

She swiftly stepped behind Winn and clutched his shoulder. “Winn, after we pick up the metals can you drop me off at Maggie’s?”

“Okay first of all, ouch,” he wriggled his shoulder out from under her grip, which Lena now realised was excessively tight. “And secondly I’m not your driver.” He swallowed at the sight of Lena’s murderous glare. “But yeah, sure, I guess it’s not too far.” Lena gave him a tight-lipped smile as he steered the van back towards the main road, barely noticing Mesut coming to stand beside her.

“So that McConnell guy is still convinced you’re evil?” the ghostly man questioned. “Even after Big J helped prove you’re innocent?”

“So it would seem,” Lena replied dryly. Mesut scoffed and shook his head. Then he made a curious throaty sound, causing Lena to frown at him. “What was that?”

“It’s an Arabic word,” he explained. “There’s not really a word for it in English. It means a person who’s afraid of the truth. You know, would rather stick his head in the sand than admit he’s wrong. That sort of type.”

“Actually we do have a word for that.”

“Really?” he asked surprised. “What do we call them?”

“Republicans.”

 


 

 

If asked, Lena would automatically refute the notion that L-Corp overworked its employees. Yet at this very moment, with the clock itching closer to 1 AM, there were still three people on the lower floors of the large corporation’s headquarters. Although to be fair, no one asked Jess to still be there. The two men who were arguing at the front desk on the other hand, were there by design. Titus of course for security reasons, while dr. Benson had been asked to work overtime on a ‘special project’. The latter was grilling the man behind the front desk on whether he was absolutely sure that Lena Luthor hadn’t arrived yet, not so subtly suggesting that he might have missed her by falling asleep, as Titus was vigorously denying such outlandish claims (while fighting to keep his eyes open).

Their less-than-gallant exchange was exactly the reason why they missed their boss walking through the main entrance of the building, eager to get this task over with so she could deal with more important matters that involved spectacled blondes and messy emotions.

“Dr. Benson!”

The middle-aged man with a jacket over his white lab coat flinched in surprise and dropped the canvas bag he was holding, which made a loud metallic sound as it collided with the floor.

“Ms. Luthor, are you doing this on purpose?” he asked with aggravation in his voice as he turned around to face his boss and picked his bag back up. Lena shot him a somewhat sympathetic smile since she did indeed have an unfortunate habit of startling the head of her R&D department, but she was also in a hurry to get out of there.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But you have the results?” she asked impatiently.

The man made a disapproving sound and shook his head while taking a clipboard out of the bag and handing both items over to Lena. “I suppose you’re not going to explain why I had to stay past midnight to conduct research on suspicious looking wreckage,” dr. Benson asked while squinting his eyes at her.

Lena didn’t really notice, as she was intently going over the man’s report. “Like I said earlier; it’s better if you don’t know,” she mumbled distracted. The man shook his head in aggravation but Lena’s frown grew deeper as she read further down the short sheet of paper, which detailed the analysis conducted on the metal remains that Lyra had smuggled out of the NCPD. There seemed to be no direct indication as to who might have manufactured them, but what was giving her pause was the composition of the material itself.

“Wait,” Lena started with confusion, “you’re absolutely sure it’s not a titanium alloy?”

“No, like it says in my report there’s no trace of titanium at all. I thought it might be that new magnesium alloy they were working on in North Carolina a few years ago, but on closer inspection it appears to be some form of tungsten.”

“But tungsten is brittle,” Lena observed as she kept going over the man’s report, “while these things have ridiculous high impact strength,” she remembered how her mother’s flying turrets were completely unfazed by all the bullets fired at them.

“I guess someone’s been working on a new alloy, then,” dr. Benson responded curtly, appearing to eye the front door as he zipped up his jacket.

“But no one is conducting such research,” Lena frowned as she thought about it. “No one except…”

There was a sudden silence as Lena had realised something. A memory that had suddenly clicked in her head and that made this mission a success by all intents and purposes. What she remembered was a conversation she’d had at one of her charity events last year, one that was host to many distinguished figures in science and technological research. She remembered that both herself and dr. Benson had been doing the rounds and that they’d ran into another head of R&D. Namely, the head of Lord Technologies’ R&D. Who had mentioned something about a new form of tungsten they were using at their labs and that, for the time being, was only being used in-house.

And that was the last she’d heard of it.

Lena was still staring at the floor, her head trying to catch up to this information, and she was only snapped out of it when dr. Benson impatiently asked if he could finally go home now. After waving him off and thanking him for his help, she stood there for a while longer with the man’s report and the canvas bag filled with the offending remains still in hand. She would’ve probably been standing there a lot longer, still processing the fact that Lord Technologies or at least someone who worked there had clearly helped Cadmus. But besides the fact that she wasn’t going to get any new information at this hour at night, there was also an incessant voice screaming at the back of her mind about a certain Superhero slash reporter who she desperately needed to figure out what to say to.

So after hurriedly depositing the report in her private lab and dumping her reacquired gun in the safe standing in the corner, she dashed out of her building and straight into the Guardian’s van that would take her to what would hopefully be the answer to her emotional problem.

 

It was ten minutes later, when Jess came down the stairs to the lobby of L-Corp with caution.

She was cautious, because she knew that if she ran into Ms. Luthor at this hour she would get one of those stern looks directed her way, along with an extended monologue about how they’d agreed that she’d go home at a reasonable hour. Which was rather hypocritical, Jess thought to herself, as she knew that her boss had intended tot be here at one point or another past the stroke of midnight. So Jess carefully came down the stairwell, glancing in all directions as she came into the completely deserted lobby, safe for Titus who appeared to be dozing off behind the front desk.

“Oh… Ms. Huang…” the man gave a gigantic yawn, “are we finally going home?”

“That depends,” the CFO drawled, stepping next to the front desk while still glancing around. “Did dr. Benson and Ms. Luthor leave yet?”

“Yes, about ten minutes ago.”

Jess gave the man a calculating look. “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?” she asked coolly.

“Of course not!”

Jess hummed, not sounding too convinced as she didn’t really trust Titus to stay awake all the time. Jess smiled wryly as she noticed her lack of faith being validated by the thin shred of light that was seeping from the corridor that led to Ms. Luthor’s private lab. “I’ll be right back, Titus,” Jess announced, already marching to the lab to drag her boss out of there as per usual while ignoring the man’s impatient groan.

As she stepped inside, she realised that the door had been standing wide open, something that wasn’t usually the case whether Ms. Luthor was down here or not. As she looked around though, she found the lab to be seemingly empty but with the lights still on.

“Ms. Luthor?” Jess tried, peeking around the large worktable as if she would find her boss sleeping behind there. (Granted, that had only happened once, and a long time ago at that.) She took one last look at the worktable, which was empty safe for a single clipboard. Something that suggested her boss was no longer here, since when she was working on something it would usually be a giant mess of wires, cables and assorted spare parts of whatever she was working on. But because the open door was making Jess unsure, she tried calling her boss. No one answered, and so to be absolutely sure, she called dr. Benson instead. The greeting she received was far from friendly.

“If you’re making me come back to work at this bloody hour, I swear to god-”

“Dr. Benson.” Jess interrupted resolutely. “I just wanted to make sure you and Ms. Luthor had gone home.”

“I did,” the man grumbled, clearly still aggravated at getting a work-related call at 1:15 AM. “I have no idea what Ms. Luthor’s up to, though.”

Jess sighed at that. “Well, have a goodnight then, and sorry for calling this late.”

“Ms. Huang?” She was about to hang up, but paused at the man’s interruption. He hesitated a second before speaking up. “Have you noticed Ms. Luthor’s… erratic behaviour lately?”

Jess could almost immediately feel her defensive walls surging up, a feeling she had most come to associate with talking to those assholes that used to work in the PR department or with the occasional journalist out to smear Ms. Luthor’s name.

“What on earth are you talking about?” Jess almost growled.

“You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed?” the man asked incredulously. “The fact she cancelled the launch of the alien detection device for no reason? Her suddenly wanting to recreate that dangerous portal technology that brought an alien invasion to earth, and then dropping the whole project out of nowhere a few months later? Not to mention the work on those metals she made me do tonight, without explaining what it was for and where they came from and…” the man let out a long sigh, “…you know what, I’m too tired for this. I’m sure I’ll find out what outlandish new thing Ms. Luthor has come up with tomorrow morning.”

“How dare you-” she was cut off by the man hanging up on her. She scowled in disbelief at her phone, already mentally planning a discussion about respect with the man first thing tomorrow morning. I mean, sure, Ms. Luthor could do some unexpected things sometimes, but that was just because her brain worked too fast for other people to keep up with. Yes, the cancellation of the alien detection device was very sudden, but Ms. Luthor must have had her reasons. Those few months that she’d restarted the whole portal technology project had definitely raised a few eyebrows even from the rest of the team, but if she’d cancelled it just as suddenly it must have surely been because she’d realised that there was no way to make it any safer. She was basically pre-emptively saving the world again.

Admittedly, she had no idea what this ‘metal work’ was about or why she would make dr. Benson stay this late when she was usually adamant about her employees going home on time. But like always; if Ms. Luthor did something unexpected, it was probably because she was thinking five steps ahead of everyone else. People who mistook Ms. Luthor’s actions as signs of her being evil, crazy or erratic, were clearly just too proud to admit the limitations of their own intelligence when compared to that of Ms. Luthor.

She was still muttering to herself with indignation, struggling to pocket her phone as she went to leave the lab, when her shin suddenly collided harshly with something solid. Jess hissed in pain, barely noticing the deep metal clunking sound she’d caused. When she turned around however, she instantly went pale. Because apparently Ms. Luthor hadn’t just carelessly left the door to her lab open, she’d also left her small metal safe open that was standing innocuously in the corner of the room. And by walking right into its small door, Jess had apparently caused the thing to wobble and its contents to spill onto the floor.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Jess quickly dropped to her knees, ignoring the burning sensation on her shin, as she tried very hard to put the contents back without looking at them. She failed, obviously, as the very first object in her hand was a framed picture of her boss holding a surf board next to none other than Lex Luthor. Jess swallowed thickly, feeling even more like she was intruding on something personal than in simply knocking over her boss’s safe. (The very safe that Ms. Luthor had insisted be extracted from the top floor when her office had been blown up, the sight of that mission succeeding drawing a grand sigh of relief from the woman.) Jess swallowed thickly, as she couldn’t help but stare at the man who had been responsible for the chaos and utter devastation she had found herself in the middle of two and a half years ago.

Jess shook herself out of her daze, realising that Ms. Luthor must have been even more occupied with her thoughts than usual if she’d been so distracted to leave something so personal so unguarded. I mean, could you imagine what the press would do to her if they found out she still had a picture like this? Jess shuddered at the thought, quickly going back to placing the contents of the small safe back where they belonged. She tried to be discreet, which proved to be hard when you were trying not to look at what you were holding in your hands. She unfortunately spotted a handgun, the deed to a mansion, paperwork for defunct L-Corp affiliates, and it was impossible not to spot the partly deconstructed piece of technology Ms. Luthor had smuggled off that Daxamite spaceship.

Nevertheless, she still tried to look at everything the least she could, placing all of it back as fast as possible but she stopped on the last item. She stopped, because in her haste and in her determination to not look at what she was doing, she hadn’t noticed picking up the small lead box upside down. She froze with her hand midway to the safe as she watched the contents fall out, while the floor seemed to fall out from under her feet. Her blood froze in its veins, her stomach dropped and her whole perspective on everything she knew slowly came apart, as she started trembling. She could feel an unmovable certainty in her life shatter into a million pieces in the blink of a second, as the words of dr. Benson started playing on repeat inside her head, while she stared at the contents of the lead box lying on the floor.

 

A small rock of kryptonite staring back at her.

 



 

 

The clock in the apartment of Alex and Maggie Danvers was creeping past 1 AM.

There was a sudden stirring of their bedsheets, as the shorter woman’s arm sleepily and aimlessly searched the surface of the bed. When she found it empty, she lifted her head and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, then smiled at the sight of her wife standing around in the kitchen with just a single dim light illuminating the otherwise shadowy room. As Maggie slid out from under the sheets, she crossed her arms and gave the woman who was standing over the sink an amused look.

“Alex?”

“Hm…”

“Babe?”

“What?” Alex kept scowling at the pitch-black contents of the pan in her hand, shaking it a little to see if it would move at all. Maggie just fondly shook her head at her.

“I thought we agreed we’d clean this up tomorrow,” the detective smiled, circling an arm around her wife’s waist as she looked at the gigantic mess that was currently decorating their furnace.

“I just don’t get it,” Alex sighed as she deposited the pan back into the sink and leaned into Maggie’s touch. “I thought cooking pasta was supposed to be easy.” She huffed out a breath and tried not to get offended at her wife’s amused snickers.

“Well babe, I don’t want to make you feel worse but… it kinda is.” Maggie snickered some more at the light punch that connected wit her shoulder. “Hey listen,” she forced Alex to turn and face her, then patiently waited for the secret agent to stop petulantly avoiding eye contact as she placed her hands on her hips. “How about next time you wait for me to come home, and then I can show you how to heat up some food without turning the kitchen into a battlefield.” She smiled at her wife, who just hung her head on her shoulder while groaning in embarrassment as the shorter woman let her eyes go over the mess again.

Maggie was about to suggest that they go back to bed, when the overwhelmingly loud crash of shattering glass echoed through the apartment and made both women jump in surprise. They immediately rolled for cover behind the kitchen counter, but as Alex pulled one of their many concealed guns out of a cupboard, Maggie suddenly stopped her. Alex frowned at the woman’s hand grasping her elbow, but then she heard a voice loudly apologising.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I thought it was open, I just- I…”

Alex and Maggie both slowly rose from behind the counter, their eyes widening as they saw Kara frantically trying to collect the countless shards of glass on the floor that used to form one of their windows just a few seconds ago. They shared an incredulous look as they both realised that Kara must have flown straight through it, and their bafflement only grew when they saw she was still wearing the same dress in which she’d taken off for Lena’s benefit dinner earlier today. Alex was the first one to regain her wits and speak up.

“KARA, WHAT THE HELL?!” The agent aggressively stepped around the counter and faced her sister, who swallowed nervously as she straightened while cradling her collection of tiny glass shards. Some of them were also stuck in her hair. “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!”

“I’m… um… sorry?” The alien girl nervously adjusted her crooked glasses at the sight of Alex incredulously throwing up her arms. “I just… needed to clear my head and… then I was flying and-”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute!” Alex aggressively motioned her to stop. “You went flying around in that dress?! Why would you… WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?!”

Kara frowned in confusion. “What do you- oh…” she fell silent as she hiked up her dress and noticed she was barefoot. “I’m… not sure?”

Alex breathed in very deeply, resisting the urge to shake her sister’s stupidity out of her, as she shared a worried glance with Maggie who’d come to stand beside her, before exhaling and trying to remain calm. “Okay,” she started while pinching her nose, “so just to recap: You flew around town in civilian clothes, you probably lost your shoes mid-flight and then you went head-first through our window?” At the sight of her sister just shrugging back, Alex gave her an incredulous look. “So is this the part where you finally explain what’s going on?!” she exclaimed.

“I…” Kara winced as she wrung her hands together, unwittingly grinding innocent glass shards to dust. “I did something really bad,” she whispered, complete with the guilty face of a puppy who just peed on the carpet.

“Worse than risk your identity by flying around like that?” Alex asked sceptically. At the sight of Kara timidly nodding in response, she shared another look with Maggie before both of them stepped closer. Now actually starting to get concerned. “What happened?”

Kara didn’t respond immediately. She darted her eyes between the two women in front of her as she shifted nervously from one shoeless foot to the other. She spent a few seconds plucking at her bright blue dress, before finally looking up again as her cheeks were flushing pink and swiftly turning red.

“I… I…” she audibly swallowed. “I kissed Lena,” she whispered, guilt and worry now evident on her face.

Silence returned to the apartment as Kara was busy furiously blushing, while very slowly a gigantic grin was starting to form on Maggie’s face. At the same time, Alex’s frown started growing deeper. “Was she… awake this time?”

“What?!” Kara squeaked, her eyes going wide. She opened and closed her mouth like a goldfish a few times before managing to form words again. “How… how do you- you- know a- ab- about-”

“I thought Lena was up to something so I installed a camera in your room, alright?” Alex confessed impatiently.

Kara could only respond with sputtering that was equal parts offended, embarrassed and incoherent, but Maggie was clearly confused. “Wait, wait, what am I missing here?” she asked, darting her eyes between the two sisters.

“The night before our wedding, Kara kissed Lena while she was sleeping,” Alex explained with a sigh, causing Kara to bury her head in her hands and mutter something inaudible.

“NO WAY!!” Both sisters jolted in surprise at the detective’s sudden and joyful exclamation. “BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!”

Both Kara’s embarrassment and Alex’s consternation seemed to momentarily take a back-seat to Maggie literally crumpling to the floor as she wheezed for air and shook with uncontrollable bursts of laughter.

“OH MY GOD!! YOU TWO ARE MADE FOR EACH OTHER!!”

“Maggie!!” the younger Danvers sister exclaimed. “This is not funny!! Alex…” she turned to her sister with a whine and a helpless expression. “What if she hates me now, Alex? I really messed up, didn’t I? You should have seen her face, it was like she’d seen a ghost. Well no, it was worse than that obviously, because she’s used to seeing ghosts, but she was horrified, Alex! She just stood there and didn’t say anything and what if she doesn’t want to see me anymore, Alex?! What if-”

“Okay, okay,” Alex tried to halt her sister’s rambling. “I understand you’re going through something serious right now, but there’s something I simply have to ask.” She looked at her sister in near-accusation and Kara seemed momentarily stunned into silence. “When I came out to you, and was clearly very conflicted about it, it never once occurred to you to tell me that you like girls too?”

“Well…” Kara paused, looking at her sister’s semi-irritated expression, “I didn’t want to make it about me. You know, on Krypton it really wasn’t all that big of a deal, but it clearly was to you, so I didn’t think it would be helpful to be all like; yeah, no biggie, there’s a whole planet that used to think this was no problem. It was kind of your thing and I didn’t want to-” she fell silent at the sound of Maggie bursting out laughing again. The detective had recomposed herself as Kara had been explaining, but now she struggled to suppress her laughter once more as she leaned on the counter behind her.

“Okay… little Danvers…” Maggie snorted as she shook her head to herself, “believe me when I tell you this; Liking girls is not just Alex’s thing. Trust me.”

“Well yeah, but-”

There was a loud knock at the front door, cutting Kara off and causing three heads to turn in that direction. “I got it,” Maggie snickered as she went to answer, “you two just… keep talking.” She kept shaking her head in amusement, but when she opened the door she was given quite the surprise.

Because Lena Luthor immediately barged into the apartment.

“She kissed me, Maggie! Kara kissed me and I need you to tell me what to do, I just-”

“Um, Luthor…” Maggie tried to stop the rambling woman, but the youngest Luthor kept backing into the apartment while almost tripping over both her dress and her words.

“-don’t know what to say to her and-”

Lena fell silent the very second she turned around. She fell silent, because she was suddenly standing face to face with Kara. Who had a stunned expression in place, which she suspected was very similar to her own.

“Oh,” Lena breathed out softly.

“Hi,” Kara said breathlessly, as they both stood rooted on the spot without moving a muscle or saying a word. The silence extended, until Maggie suddenly cleared her throat from her spot by the door.

“Hey, babe… we’re almost out of vegan ice cream. How about we go to 7-eleven and get some more?”

“What are you talking about? The fridge is full of that cra- oh! Right… right, yes, of course.” Alex got the hint and awkwardly shuffled to the door, as the married couple quietly slid into their jackets and made their way out of the apartment, all while Kara and Lena were still frozen in place. Just as the door was about to close, Alex briefly popped her head back inside. “By the way, you owe us a new window,” she managed to say, before Maggie yanked her away and the door fell closed behind them.

So that’s how Lena ended up standing in the middle of Alex and Maggie’s apartment while staring silently at Kara, both of them still in their respective dresses, as the blonde woman’s loose strands of hair were dancing along with the breeze that was blowing through the window. Hair that contained several glass shards, Lena suddenly realised, but just as she let her eyes go over the many scattered fragments on the floor, the alien woman suddenly spoke up.

“I’m sorry,” Kara blurted. “I didn’t… but then I… and then you… the k- k- kiss,” she stuttered. “I’m really sorry.”

Lena went to say something but she stopped herself. She stopped herself from following her instincts and just tell Kara that it was fine, to just forget about it if that’s what she wanted. Instead she listened to an annoying voice in her head (that sounded a suspicious lot like dr. Talbot), telling her to always be clear about things and also other patronising stuff about proper communication.

“Why?” Lena asked, her voice coming out slightly breathless. “Why are you sorry?”

“I…” Kara’s face burned bright red as she just stood there for a second, her eyes darting back and forward between Lena’s own, before the avalanche of words came bursting out of her. “It’s just that I really like you, okay?! And I swear it wasn’t my fault, I really wasn’t trying to feel anything for you or anything, but then Jess went and said a bunch of stuff which made me really confused and then I dreamed about a bunch of stuff that was really embarrassing, and then I didn’t really know what to think anymore, because I really do care about you a lot. But then I thought I was just being silly, like really, I blamed Jess for the longest time but then I saw Mon-el again on Maaldoria and it all suddenly made sense? I don’t know, it just was suddenly really clear that I didn’t feel the same for him anymore, and that maybe it was because I was already feeling like that for someone else and that m- m- maybe t- that was… you know… you. And that I actually really did like you. You know,” she made a vague gesture, “like that. And some other stuff happened too, like at Barry’s wedding I was singing about running home to people and I kept thinking about you, or like when I was in a coma earlier and that Brainiac 5 guy said some stuff about me needing certain things to wake up, and one of them was my glasses and the other was your necklace, which totally made sense for some reason. But I didn’t really mean to kiss you, well, at least not the first time but then-”

“Wait,” Lena interrupted, her feelings too elaborate to fit within an encyclopedia. “The first time?”

“Oh… yeah…” Kara swallowed, her waving hands meeting to fiddle with her fingers, “I, um… the night before Alex’s wedding I, um… I kissed you. While you were sleeping. And I know that’s not cool!” Her hands quickly returned to flailing around. “But I really didn’t mean for it to happen and I just… I would really- I mean, yes, I would really, really, really like it if you please didn’t hate me. And you know,” she swallowed, looking terrified, “if you could please still be friends with me because I really don’t know what I’d do without you, so I’ll stop being weird, I promise!” Kara shivered as she huffed out a final breath, but Lena didn’t move a muscle for a good few seconds.

Lena was good at understanding complicated subjects. Her college professors had told her as much. But right now, in front of a subject that should be simple, Lena took a second because she really needed to just process. That annoying Talbot-voice was back, telling her to count to ten in her head when her emotions were getting out of hand, though she was fairly certain that the things she was supposed to count were not the degree of warmth in her heart or the amount of eyelashes above Kara’s eyes, but those two appeared to be the only things she was able to focus on. She couldn’t formulate a plan to respond, her mind blank as she opened her mouth, so she wasn’t quite sure what was about to come out.

“I kissed you too.”

Direct. A welcome surprise.

Kara gave her somewhat of a blank look. “Huh?”

“Last year, after you got shot with kryptonite,” Lena explained, “I kissed you while you were sleeping, too.”

Kara looked at her in shock, trailing a finger across her bottom lip as if the evidence would still be there, before her hand found its way down to the pendant of her silver necklace with Lena’s initials in it. “How… how did that happen?” she asked with a mixture of awe and confusion.

“That’s a long story,” Lena smiled as she took a step closer, the warmth in her heart refusing to remain contained as it spread through her body faster than electricity. “But in short; I thought I wanted to see you all the time because I didn’t know how to have friends. Sam teased me, but I didn’t get it. I repressed my feelings by ignoring logic and I freaked out because you’re a woman. But as it turns out,” she took another step, coming face to face with Kara, “I actually do lo-”

Jesus Christ, Lena, don’t scare her off!!

“I mean, I… I really like you too. You know,” she tried to imitate Kara’s vague gesture, “like that.” Lena huffed out an incredulous breath, seeing Kara’s eyes shine with similar disbelief, as the alien woman seemed to slowly process that information and her signature smile slowly but surely took over her face.

“Oh…” Kara chuckled nervously, fidgeting with her glasses as if she didn’t know what to do with herself out of sheer happiness. And Lena could one hundred percent relate to the feeling. Kara’s hand brushed through her hair and came away with a small piece of glass. “Oh… I, um…” she smiled sheepishly, needlessly gesturing at the gaping hole in the wall with a dopey look in her eyes, “…I broke the window.”

“I don’t care.”

Lena took one final step and finally did the one thing she’d been thinking about for months; pulling Kara closer and kissing her with all the intensity and all the feelings that had been building up in her for god knows how long. The feeling of Kara actually kissing her back, the feeling of Kara responding to her passionate kiss with softness and with almost delicate care, was something she couldn’t even begin to describe let alone do justice with mere words. Her brain was flooded with the emotions Kara would always evoke within her, but tenfold. Her heart was about ready to explode from pure ecstasy, and the currently repressed but always overactive logical part of Lena’s brain was lost in calculations as to exactly how improbable the occurrence of this moment was.

All things end, as they unfortunately do, but her lips losing the touch of Kara’s did allow Lena to stare into her beautiful eyes again.

Leave it to Kara to turn anything into something positive.

“Wow,” Kara breathed out, her cheeks wonderfully flushed, and Lena was almost embarrassed at the proud thought that immediately went through her mind.

I did that.

“Hey, Kara. Guess what?” Lena smiled. A smile she was certain would have to be surgically removed if she wished to glare at anyone ever again after tonight.

“What?” Kara beamed back.

“Musicals still suck.”

Kara laughed her beautiful laugh, that strange sense of pride at being the cause of it invading Lena’s insides again, as she watched the woman’s eyes light up and for once, now that she had no reason to hide it, no reason to feel self-conscious about it, Lena stared. And allowed herself to keep staring, as she’d caught herself doing so often this past year.

However, the bliss was rudely interrupted by a loud sob sounding from behind Kara and as Lena glanced over, she noticed that Mesut had to have followed her inside. Because the ghostly man was standing in a corner of the room sniffing loudly as he wiped at his eyes, while light was slowly starting to seep through his skin.

“Ay, Miss Lena. Now that’s a happy ending.”

Lena looked on as the man wailed loudly and kept wiping his tears away, while that bright light slowly moved over his body. The light covered him up, leaving only the burly outline of a sobbing figure, the sounds the man was making slowly starting to faze out as the light detached itself and formed those floating orbs illuminating the dim room and making Kara look even more like an angel than usual. When the lights dimmed, when the floating orbs faded out of existence and returned the room to being lit by the lone lamp in the kitchen, Lena let out a sigh.

 

Mesut El Habash had just passed on.

 

“Are you okay?”

Lena looked back at her Kara, the crinkle on her forehead showing as the blonde gave her a small frown. “Kara,” Lena shook her head and smiled at the woman in her arms, “I can honestly say, without hyperbole, that I’ve never felt better in my life.”

Kara smiled at her, in that bashful way that made her cheeks flush and saw her duck her head ever so slightly, and with all those pesky barriers like inhibition and fragile friendships not to be broken out of the way, Lena allowed the affection to overtake her and pull the woman back in for another kiss. And for the next five minutes, Kara and her lips were the only thoughts to go through her usually so overactive mind.

Apart from the fleeting notion that she really owed dr. Talbot a gift basket.

 

Meanwhile, right across the street, three figures were standing on the rooftop of one of National City’s apartment complexes. The three aliens were all peering curiously in the direction of Alex and Maggie Danvers’ broken window, the woman in the middle staring through a pair of futuristic binoculars while the man on her left was looking highly uncomfortable.

“As primitive as this era is, I am fairly certain they are already aware of the concept of privacy,” the alien man said uneasily.

“Oh come on, Brainy,” Imra scoffed, both her smile and her binoculars still firmly in place. “This is a beautiful moment in this planet’s history and I will not apologise for enjoying it.”

The woman dressed in blue on Imra’s right chuckled and fondly shook her head but didn’t say anything, as the three aliens looked over at the historical moment that was the first proper kiss between two of Earth’s finest heroes.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

How about this one?”

Lena impatiently fiddled with her shirt, standing in the middle of her oversized closet while she waited for Maggie to finish yawning as the woman tried very hard to not look bored while scanning her from top to bottom.

It’s fine.”

That’s what you said about the last one. And all the ones before that,” Lena protested, huffing out a breath and turning around to inspect herself in the mirror. In the background she could see Maggie stretching herself as she got out of her chair and rubbed her eyes, acting as if this crucial decision was of no importance at all. The insolence.

Luthor, you know that what you wear isn’t going to matter, right?” Maggie sighed, in a tone that could’ve been used to explain to a small child that there were definitely no monsters under the bed.

Of course it matters! This is our- wait, what about this one?” she pulled a positively ancient shirt out of the depths of her vast selection of elegant clothing, one she probably hadn’t laid eyes on since boarding school.

I thought you hated pink,” Maggie commented dryly as she looked at the rose-coloured garment Lena was holding up.

But Kara likes it! And as I was saying; this is our first date, so everything needs to be perfect and-”

Okay, that’s enough,” Maggie pulled the unseemly piece of clothing out of Lena’s hands under mild protest. “Like you do with most things, you are way overthinking this, Luthor. She’s got an extreme case of the heart-eyes for you, you’re head over heels for her, so stop stressing the details.” Lena resisted the urge to pout as Maggie put away her old shirt and turned back around. “And besides, for all intents and purposes you two have practically been dating for over a year now. Apart from making out, I highly doubt you’re going to notice much difference now that she’s ‘officially’ your girlfriend.”

Lena tried, but she couldn’t stop an extremely unflattering and almost childish set of giggles from escaping her lips. Earning herself a quizzical look from Maggie.

What was that?” the detective questioned.

Nothing, it’s just-” another set of giggles refused to be contained, “-she’s… Kara’s my girlfriend. Kara Danvers is my girlfriend.” Her insides still squirmed just thinking about it, and her soft giggles and huge grin refused to go away, despite Maggie overtly rolling her eyes.

You’re cheesiness is as adorable as it is disgusting, Luthor,” the woman commented with a shake of her head. “I’m making us some coffee, and when I come back you better have settled on what to wear.” She squinted her eyes at the enamoured woman in lieu of a warning, before leaving the premises of Lena Luthor’s humongous walk-in closet.

Lena couldn’t keep the grin off her face even as she returned to looking herself over in the mirror. Maybe at some point she would get used to it, maybe over time it would become normal, but for now – a mere two days removed – the fact that Kara Danvers was her girlfriend still made her giddy. A feeling Luthors weren’t technically supposed to feel but whatever, she was only half a Luthor anyway. And maybe Maggie was right, and she was making too big of a deal out of choosing the correct outfit, but she just wanted everything to be perfect.

Kara deserved perfect.

“Lena…”

She knew that she wasn’t – perfect, that is – but that didn’t mean she couldn’t try to come close.

“Lena, can you hear me?”

Maybe that green blouse she bought last year would be better.

“Lena!”

The youngest Luthor’s eyes shot open. She blinked, trying to adjust to the sudden shift in her environment. Her head felt heavy, her whole body was hurting, and she squinted her eyes at the bright light that seemed to be attacking her senses.

“Good to have you back.”

Lena blinked furiously as the room around her started taking shape, and all of a sudden she could distinguish the form of Alex Danvers standing over her and giving her a gentle smile.

“You gave us quite the scare there,” the agent smiled. The youngest Luthor looked around, now recognising the dreaded med-bay of the DEO. Where she was apparently occupying a bed. “You were-”

“Alex!” She interrupted the agent and grabbed her by the sleeve, wincing as she noticed the burning sensation at the back of her throat, but that wasn’t important right now. “Kara broke your window, right?!”

“What are you-”

“I didn’t imagine that, did I?! She flew through your window and then I showed up and you and Maggie left and-”

“Lena.” Alex’s hand stopped Lena from spiralling into a ramble, because if anyone could see one of those coming from a mile away, it was Alex Danvers. “Relax. You did not imagine becoming my sister’s girlfriend,” she reassured her. Lena’s whole body relaxed as she slumped back against the mattress with a sigh of relief. “Maggie and I had to respectively watch you and Kara cycle through an endless parade of outfits before your first date and we even had a bet going on who would change clothes more times. Kara won by a wide margin.”

Lena huffed out a breath, because for a second there, she honestly thought that she’d imagined the whole thing. That her overactive imagination had been encouraged by her previous predicament and that she’d conjured up an elaborate fantasy that was too good to be true. But it was true. It was actually true. Kara Danvers was actually still her girlfriend. Lena took a moment to let that sink in, before looking around the room again. Because speaking of her previous predicament…

“Why do I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck?” Lena croaked, the burning sensation in her throat suddenly catching up to her again.

“Someone tried to poison you,” Alex stated succinctly, almost managing to mask her bitter undertone.

Lena frowned at that, as suddenly she remembered being in James’ office at CatCo. She remembers talking about something involving Morgan Edge, then Eve had brought her a coffee and then… darkness. She slowly brought her hand up to rub her temple, but then another image formed in her head. And a very concerning one, at that. “Alex…” she started warily, “…Kara didn’t fly me here in her civilian clothes, did she?”

“She did.”

Lena huffed an incredulous breath. “What was she thinking?”

“She was thinking you were about to die,” Alex commented, now apparently shifting back in doctor mode as she started checking her pupils with a small flash light. “She thought correctly, by the way. She flew you in here and we only had about half a minute to figure out what was wrong with you. She used her freeze breath to bring down your body temperature and stop the poison from spreading, allowing you to stabilize. And then…” Alex pursed her lips, putting her little light away and falling quiet for a second.

“Then what?”

Alex sighed, as she looked her over. “Then she had a panic attack.”

Lena frowned, her heart sinking at the thought of Kara being in distress, but then there was a soft knock on the door of the med-bay. Followed by a pair of blue eyes hiding behind glasses poking in through the door, which were enough for Lena’s heart to skip a beat.

“You’re awake,” Kara muttered, not moving from her spot halfway through the door.

“You were listening,” Lena smiled, because by now she knew that Super-eavesdropping was something Kara sometimes couldn’t resist.

“You can come in,” Alex commented as she took off her gloves and moved towards the door. “Just remember she needs to rest,” she decided with a pat on her sister’s shoulder, before moving past her and closing the door on her way out. Lena smiled at her girlfriend (it was still surreal to be able to call her that), but the alien woman didn’t move and kept staring at the floor.

“Are you just going to stand there?” Lena questioned, a slight amusement in her voice. But then Kara looked up at her and Lena noticed her lip trembling, and before she knew it the blonde had speeded her way to her bedside and was pressing her face to her shoulder.

“You promised,” Kara whimpered. “You promised you wouldn’t die.”

“Hey…” Lena’s arms immediately wrapped themselves around her, as she shushed the woman who was holding on to her like her life depended on it. “I didn’t,” she tried to reassure her. “And in my defence, I wasn’t expecting to get poisoned.” The only response she got was Kara pressing herself closer to her and although Lena was aware that Kara was still under some distress, she couldn’t help that giddiness overtaking her as she realised how lucky she was to get to hold Kara Danvers this close.

Because she was her girlfriend.

Kara Danvers was her girlfriend.

Lena giggled, because she would never get tired of that thought.

“This is not funny,” Kara murmured, her eyes finally meeting Lena’s again as she looked at her with a residual sadness that made Lena’s heart melt. Not that that took a lot of effort when it came to her girlfriend. Her girlfriend, Kara Danvers. Kara Danvers was her girlfriend.

“I know,” Lena responded, but she couldn’t help the big smile that spread across her face. “But guess what?”

“What?”

“I’m just glad you’re here.”

Kara huffed out an adorable breath. “Likewise.”

And as she was sitting there crouched beside her bed, with her hair slightly out of sorts and her bloodshot eyes and that adoring look, Lena couldn’t help herself and went in for a kiss. Kara responded tenderly, almost as if she was afraid of breaking her if she pressed too hard, as she cupped her cheek with one hand.

“You’re supposed to rest,” Kara stopped her from going in for another one with a hand on her chest, giving her a concerned look.

“Maybe I have some residual poison on my lips,” Lena smirked. “Someone should clean that up.”

“I’m sure that-”

Lena wouldn’t let her finish, silencing her with lips she knew for a fact were free of dangerous substances, kissing Kara out of the pure joy of being able to do so. Because that’s what girlfriends do. And she was her girlfriend. Kara Danvers was her girlfriend.

The smile that kept spreading on her face at that thought, was the only reason their lips disconnected within the next ten minutes.

Lena felt completely silly, not just because of her teeth grazing against Kara’s lips every time she couldn’t contain her smile, but also because of how terrified she’d been of telling Kara just how deep her feelings ran. Now, those thoughts of how Kara would never be able to look at her again, the thought of her best friend hating her, of Kara treating her differently, seemed galaxies removed from any potential form of reality. Because even with her most improbable of hopes coming true, it turns out that Maggie might’ve been right all along and that the change in their relationship was nothing more than a tiny shift. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that tiny, because staring into Kara’s eyes whenever she felt like it and being able to kiss her – good GOD, kissing Kara was a thing now and it was amazing – felt like kind of a huge deal. But apart from that, they were still them. They were still Kara and Lena, still two best friends who looked out for each other and cared for each other and not some tragic tale of Supers and Luthors that could never be. They were still Kara and Lena, and it was more than she could have ever hoped for.

“Lena, you need to choose if you’re going to smile or if you’re going to kiss me, because this isn’t working.” Kara pulled back and Lena fought off her smile to do her best impression of Kara’s infamous pout.

“But, Kara. Guess what?”

“What?”

“I don’t want to choose.” Lena pulled her back in and if anything, with Kara now fighting off a grin of her own, their kisses got even messier.

Yeah. They were still Kara and Lena.

And maybe that was okay.

 


 

 

January 27 th 2018

 

It was your average Wednesday on the workfloor of CatCo Worldwide Media.

People were bent over their desk and were flitting from one spot to the other like nervous flies as everything had returned to normal after their boss had almost been poisoned two days ago. The lady in charge was in fact already back at work, even occupying Snapper Carr’s old office these days, as people went around their business as usual. Almost as usual at least, because Greg from accounting had to perform an impressively agile evasive manoeuvre to avoid Lena Luthor who was barrelling through the office at an alarming speed.

Lena zigzagged through the desks in CatCo’s main office space with steady focus, swiftly tugging on Kara’s sweater when she got to her desk.

“Kara, I need to borrow you for a second.”

The blonde woman looked up in surprise. “Oh, are- are you sure it can’t wait? I was kind of in the middle of-”

“Kara,” Lena interrupted sharply, before briefly glancing around to see if anyone was listening in. “It’s an emergency.” She gave the alien woman a pointed look, trying to silently communicate the delicate nature of the situation.

“Oh.” Kara’s eyebrows shot up and bingo, she could practically see the penny drop. “Right, of course.”

Kara promptly got up as Lena turned around and led the way, the both of them now moving through the crowded office before going through a set of corridors on the same floor. They eventually reached the old abandoned office that used to be Supergirl’s headquarters, stepping through the door, but Lena was surprised to suddenly get pushed against the wall right next to the door as it closed behind them.

“So we’re calling it an emergency now, huh?”

Kara was suddenly kissing her and in any other situation that would be great, but Lena patted her on the shoulder a couple times to make her stop. “Mmm,” she pushed her back a little more aggressively this time. “Kara…” she looked at the woman’s confused blue eyes as she had now reluctantly stopped kissing her, “that’s not… the emergency.”

The alien woman’s adorable frown made an appearance. “What do you- oh…” Kara turned around and jumped away from Lena while her face quickly turned a bright pink. Because now that she’d actually looked at the inside of the room, she could see that they were being stared at by Maggie (who was sporting a broad grin), Winn (who was giving a hesitant wave) and James (whose shocked expression suggested Winn wasn’t as bad at keeping secrets as Lena thought he was).

“Don’t mind us, we’ll wait,” Maggie wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, causing both Lena and Kara to squirm uneasily.

“It can’t wait,” Lena did her best to sound stern as she stepped further into the room and Kara sheepishly followed. “I said it was an emergency for a reason.”

“Oooooh,” Kara drawled, “so it’s a- a ghost emergency?” she asked as she fiddled with her fingers. Lena nodded in affirmation and was about to explain what was going on, when she turned around and saw that Winn had been writing on the whiteboard.

“Winn,” she pinched the bridge of her nose and suppressed a groan. “I know I’ll regret this, but why did you write ‘HELL’ on the whiteboard?”

“Because that’s where we are!” Winn proudly proclaimed. At the rest of the gang’s complete silence, he decided to elaborate. “You know; the Headquarter for Encounters with Lena Luthor!”

Lena didn’t even bother to respond to that, instead wordlessly tossing Winn an eraser. Because could you imagine welcoming ghosts like that? Hello dead person, welcome to hell! Seriously.

“So,” James cleared his throat, appearing to put herculean effort into getting over his shock. “What’s going on?”

Lena paused as she looked at the man, because it so happened to concern him directly this time. Sort of. Lena hesitantly cleared her throat. “Well…”

 

Lena smiled as she looked up from the text message that only displayed a single red heart, throwing a glance over her shoulder to see Kara grinning at her and giving a small wave. She just smiled and shook her head in response, because of course Kara would send her a cheesy text two seconds after finishing a conversation. It nonetheless helped keep her smile in place as she moved back into Snapper’s office and sat down behind the desk.

It figures you would be happy with yourself. Couldn’t expect anything less from a goddamn Luthor.” Lena’s head snapped up, seeing Morgan Edge scowling at her from right across the desk. “You could have at least waited for my body to go cold but sure, go ahead, celebrate your victory.”

How did you get in here?” Lena stood up, glaring at the intruder. But the man’s face suddenly fell in shock.

You can see me…”

Oh, for crying out loud.

You’re… you’re dead?” Lena asked incredulously, watching as the man seemed to process the fact that his biggest rival was the only one who could see him. “How did that happen?”

Oh, don’t play dumb with me!” The man’s anger made its return. “First you sabotage my breaks, and now you expect me to believe you didn’t have someone shoot me?”

Lena folded her arms and slipped into business mode, fixing the man with her best glare. “First of all, I never sabotaged your car,” she scolded, realising her fist priority should be to calm Morgan Edge’s anger. Now there’s a thought she never imagined having. “So try to be reasonable. I know you have some misguided vendetta against me, but you know damn well I’m not an idiot. Why would I take a guy who’s been a thorn in my side and make sure that tormenting me is the only way for him to pass the time?”

The man deflated, his arrogance temporarily giving way as happened a few times before when she’d bested him. Then he nodded and victoriously snapped his fingers. “Then it must have been James Olsen!”

Lena frowned very deeply. “Are you just randomly listing names now?”

No, no, no,” Edge shook his head, a victorious glint in his eyes. “That glorified bodyguard of yours always had it out for me, why else was he always there whenever I had the displeasure of running into you? Clearly he went into business for himself. Don’t think I just forgot about him dangling me over a railing either. Oh yeah,” the man smugly nodded at Lena’s surprised expression, “I know he’s Guardian, alright. Perks of being dead; I could just follow him until he took his mask off.”

Just because you’re willing to murder people over a petty grudge, doesn’t mean everyone else would do the same,” Lena cut in before the arrogant man could open his mouth again. “I mean, come on, this is James Olsen we’re talking about for crying out loud. As if he’d go around shooting people-”

Well, he sure didn’t have any trouble threatening to drop me from eight stories high!” Edge fired back. “I guess the joke’s on him, because now I get to return the favour.” The man was looking entirely too self-satisfied, and Lena’s nostrils flared.

If you think for one second that I’m going to help with whatever is going on in that sick head of yours, then-”

Oh I’m sorry, I must have missed the part where this was somehow a debate. Seeing as I’m – how did you put it just now?” The man stepped closer, getting in her face with that sickening grin of his. “Oh, yes. Someone whose only way to pass the time, is to torment you.”

 

“Wait a second, wait a second!” Kara blinked, arms crossed as her eyes moved from Lena to James. “You dangled him over a railing?!”

“Well, yeah…” James crossed his arms defensively, glancing at the judgemental looks he was getting. “He tried to poison Lena,” he protested weakly. He cleared his throat as he turned to the youngest Luthor. “So what does he want?”

Lena sighed, giving him an uneasy look. “He wants me to kill you.”

Predictably, the room fell into a stunned silence.

“Crap,” Winn eventually muttered.

“Shit,” Maggie eloquently added, before shaking off the shock. “Okay, so what do we do? Do we go for the blackmail tactic again?”

“Yes,” Lena nodded. “I got him to leave me alone for a while but he’ll be back soon. If you could go over police records, see if anything comes up about him or any of his employees that could threaten his company. Hopefully he cares about it enough to want to stop it from getting ruined. Kara,” she turned to the blonde next to her, “if you could get back to your source at the bank that talked about him before, see if you can get some more info on his personal life.”

“On it.” Kara nodded and was about to storm off, but Maggie called after her.

“Hold on!”

Kara stopped in her tracks.

“Now that I’ve got you all here anyway, I should probably update you on the Cadmus and Roulette stuff,” Maggie announced, Lena mentally shifting gears to their other two sticky situations. Because god forbid she could ever focus on one calamity at the time. “First of all, I’ve got a couple of rookies taking shifts monitoring Brian at all times. I convinced them they’re somehow involved in a super secret sting operation so they won’t tell anyone about it. The newbies are gullible like that. But the good news is that no one’s tried to kidnap him or tried anything else with him since that night. Oh, and I ran the name Mallory S. Moon through the system. There’s only two people in the country with that name and neither of them have anything on their record, not even a parking ticket. Also, the closest one lives in Nevada, so unless it’s a decoy I doubt she could be in charge of Cadmus.”

“Damn it,” Lena hissed. Because there went another potential lead. She was just mulling over other ways the woman could be involved with the Roulette situation, but her thoughts were rudely interrupted.

“Um, you guys?!!” Kara exclaimed, looking around the room with an offended expression. “Did you forget the emergency?! You know; jerk-face guy who’s mean to Lena and wants James dead?!”

“Right,” Lena shook her head, not for the first time forgetting about the present in the face of illogicality needing a good straightening out, as she refocused on the most pressing matter.

“I’ll see what I can find on his company,” Maggie said before heading outside.

“I’ll go to the bank and talk to my source,” Kara announced. She hesitated on the spot for a moment, before quickly pecking Lena on the cheek and leaving the room as well. Lena couldn’t prevent an embarrassing smirk from appearing on her face, barely resisting the urge to touch the spot where Kara’s lips had just been as she was now left alone in the room with Winn and James.

“So, what about us?” Winn promptly asked. “What can we do?”

“Guys,” Lena sighed, grimness returning to her features. “I have to be honest. I don’t really think blackmail is going to work with Morgan Edge. I think at this point, he cares about revenge a whole lot more than about the company that made him money he now can’t spend anymore.”

The two men gave her a pair of confused looks, James saying; “Then why did you just-”

“Because I have an alternate plan, but I don’t think Kara would like it very much.”

“You mean Kara, who is your girlfriend now?” Winn drawled with an excited grin.

Lena squirmed in place, painfully aware of James’s presence but unable to fight off the return of that smirk to her face as she nodded in response. Winn promptly started whooping and Lena felt inexplicably proud, as if she’d achieved some great accomplishment (to be fair, being Kara’s girlfriend was one of her greatest, but whatever), but then James cleared his throat.

“So, this plan to stop the guy who wants me dead?” he interrupted the celebration, and Lena schooled her features because fair enough.

“Yes, well. You’re aware that the only way to get rid of the ghost of a dead person, friendly or unfriendly as they may be, is for them to pass on, right?” Lena asked him and James nodded. “But there’s somewhat of a loophole I believe we could exploit in this case.”

She turned to Winn, the only one she’d actually shown her ghost-notebook to, knowing he would grasp the concept immediately.

“Rule 3a,” she proclaimed simply. Winn’s furrowed brow shot up almost instantly, an excited grin taking its place.

“That’s genius!”

 


 

 

Lena was pacing back and forth in her private lab.

The hairs on the back of her neck were standing up, the presence of Morgan Edge’s overbearing stare starting to get unnerving. She regulated her breathing as she prayed and hoped that this whole thing would be over and done with as soon as possible. She glanced to the side, noticing she was still under close scrutiny by the ghostly man. She rolled her eyes to herself as she kept pacing.

“Lena?” a voice called from the entrance. “I’m here.”

“Close the door, James,” Lena responded with a tremble in her voice. James did as she asked, the man stepping into her private lab and up to the worktable she was pacing behind.

“So? What’s the plan?” He stood there with his hands on his hips, an expectant look in his eyes, and Lena swallowed harshly as she looked to the side where Morgan Edge was staring at the man with a manic glint in his eyes. She forced herself to take a measured breath before picking up the gun from the table.

“There is no plan, James.”

His face fell, eyes moving to the gun that was now pointed at his chest. “Whoa, whoa, Lena,” he held up one hand, the other moving to his back pocket. “You said you had a way to-”

“I’m sorry, James,” Lena forced her voice to stay steady. “But I can’t risk it. There’s only so many times I can gamble with my sanity.” She cocked the gun.

“Okay, hey, just-”

The gun fired.

James fell silent, a hole blown in his shirt where blood started spreading from. Lena let out a shaky breath as she lowered the gun and watched James slowly crumple backwards, his body ending up prone on the floor, completely still and unmoving with his eyes closed.

“HA!” The shout beside her made Lena flinch. “That’s what you get!” Morgan Edge rounded the table, standing over James’ body with a sickening grin on his face. “Thought you could just kill Morgan Edge and get away with it, did you? HA!” The ghostly man tried kicking James’s motionless body, obviously making no contact and going straight through. “Well, Ms. Luthor,” Edge turned towards her, obnoxiously straightening his tie. “I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but I owe you one. Doesn’t it feel nice to do something useful for a change?”

Lena didn’t answer, her jaw clenching to keep all her words and thoughts from slipping out as she stared at the floor.

Morgan Edge just kept chuckling to himself as he looked over James’s body with a self-satisfied look firmly in place, while very slowly the light started seeping through his skin. Lena looked on as his borderline manic grin never left his face while the light moved over his body and gradually enveloped him more and more, until he was just a shape in the light. She watched the usual process unfold, the light breaking off into those glowing orbs, them hovering in the air for a bit, before finally fading out into nothing. Her private lab returning to its normal lighting after the otherworldly glow disappeared.

Morgan Edge had just passed on.

Lena let out a deep breath, closing her eyes to steady herself before walking over to her safe to put her gun away. “He’s gone,” she announced.

James slowly lifted his head off the floor, squinting his eyes as he glanced from left to right. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Lena commented dryly, depositing a clean shirt on her worktable. “The whole passing on thing is hard to miss.”

James sighed with relief before getting up and starting to remove the artificial blood pack from under his shirt and the trigger button from his back pocket. “So ghosts really just need to believe they completed their objective to pass on?”

Lena raised an eyebrow. “You had doubts about it?”

“No, I mean I’m glad it worked out but… it just seemed too good to be true.”

Lena hummed as she slid the clean shirt towards him. “Well, it is true. It happened to both my parents.” She frowned to herself. “Winn isn’t going to get in trouble for stealing one of those, is he?” Lena asked as she watched James get rid of the contraption that had simulated his gunshot wound.

“No, they have plenty of them at the DEO apparently. Do you, um… do you mind?” James was eyeing the clean shirt while pointedly pausing the unbuttoning of his bloodstained one.

“Oh, right.” Lena cleared her throat as she got the hint and turned around, the sounds of James changing clothes continuing behind her.

“You know, if you’d just told Kara the plan I’m sure the DEO would’ve been glad to just give us this thing,” James commented once he was done, Lena turning around to him tucking in his clean shirt.

“No.”

James raised his eyebrows at her.

“What I mean,” Lena elaborated with a sigh, “is that she would have gone all protective on me, like she did when she refused to let me come along to Maaldoria. Just two days ago, when I got poisoned, she panicked and was stupid enough to go flying in her civilian clothes. I just didn’t want to worry her again. And with Maggie it would’ve just been weird,” she let out a chuckle. “When she gave me my gun back she told me to use it responsibly. I don’t think that firing blanks from a close distance is what she had in mind.” She shrugged with a hesitant smile. “I’ll tell them all about it later, but… I think this was the best solution.”

James hummed, nodding his head as they stood there for a second. “So…” James looked uncomfortable, hesitating as if he was debating how to word his thoughts. “You and Kara, huh?”

“Um,” Lena cleared her throat, heat creeping up her neck. “Yes, that, um… yes.” They stood there for a second in the most awkward silence possible. “So… you and Jess, huh?”

“Yeah, that, um… yeah.”

Lena pointedly stared at the bloodstained shirt on the table as the awkward silence extended.

“Well, let’s hope they catch whoever killed Morgan Edge,” Lena proclaimed a little too loudly in her effort to end the painful silence, turning around to put the shirt stained with artificial blood away.

“Yeah, that might not be that easy. Apparently he got shot with a bullet that disappeared after impact and the police-”

“What?” Lena swivelled her head around, an intense stare boring into James’s confused eyes. “The bullet disappeared?”

“Yeah, I talked to Maggie earlier. Apparently he got shot with some mysterious type of dissolving bullet and they don’t know- Lena?”

James frowned at her but Lena wasn’t really aware of that as she dashed to her safe standing in the corner, quickly riffling through the old paperwork as she searched for the documents about a specific defunct affiliate of LuthorCorp. Her eyes lit up with triumph as she pulled out a folder with the word ‘Thundercorp’ written boldly on the front, opening it to the first page where schematics of dissolving bullets were on display.

“Got em.”

James watched on with confusion as Lena grabbed his bloodstained shirt from the table, then pulled him out of the room by his arm.

“Let’s go catch a killer.”

 


 

 

The stark and empty lab that used to host Thundercorp’s research was not as abandoned as it should be.

As the clicking of Lena’s heels announced her arrival, she could hear a truck driving away at full speed in the distance, clearly in a hurry to get out of there. She glanced around as she stepped inside, several bolts and trinkets scattered around suggesting that whoever had been here had fled with great haste. Lena marched on, letting her eyes go over the evidence of illicit activity in her defunct subsidiary, stepping past the metal worktables, the tall racks that reached the ceiling, and the occasional scrap of metal still lying around. But she paused after rounding the corner of one of the racks and finding herself in the middle of a mostly empty space.

And more importantly, finding that she was not alone.

At the other end of the empty space, behind a large and empty metal worktable stood a hooded figure, face completely obscured but clearly directing all attention to the approaching Luthor while at the same time repeatedly flicking the lid of a metallic lighter.

“Lena Luthor,” the figure spoke, seeming to appraise her, though it was hard to tell without seeing a face. “I was expecting you.”

“So it would seem,” Lena drawled carefully, letting her eyes go over the haphazardly cleared out space again. “I would tell you that you’re trespassing, but something tells me you’re well aware of that.”

The hooded figure chuckled, a raised head revealing some sort of cloth covering the lower part of the figure’s face, dark eyes finally meeting Lena’s own under the shadows of the poorly lit lab. “We do try and limit our illegal activities, but I’m afraid I was in dire need of Thundercorp’s research.”

Lena frowned, the presence of the figure not making much sense when whoever else had been working here had clearly fled the premises, but she took one step at a time. “I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me who you are?” she drawled, daring to take another step closer as she squinted at the figure at the other end of the empty space.

“On the contrary, I think an introduction would only be appropriate. People call me Cigarette.” The figure’s eyes crinkled, as if a smile was hiding behind the cloth. “And after your mother’s death, I took it upon myself to restructure Cadmus.” Lena’s eyes widened ever so slightly, struggling not to let her shock be apparent. “You seem surprised,” the figure known as Cigarette mused. “I suppose it’s only natural, but I can assure you that we operate rather differently at this point in time. I’d like to think we’re quite transparent now.”

“Transparent?” Lena’s eyebrow raised, the insolence of the criminal standing in her former lab and talking about Cadmus as if it was a country club getting under her skin.

“Yes,” Cigarette responded in earnest. “Believe it or not, it’s well possible for secret organisations to be transparent about their motives.”

Lena’s eye twitched, not in the mood to be lectured. “So if I asked you why you’re bothering to kidnap all those aliens and then selling their corpses to the Endless Winter Clinic instead of just killing them, you would tell me?”

“Gladly.”

Lena’s frown only deepened.

“Exterminating alien life on earth was your mother’s crusade, not mine, Ms. Luthor. My involvement with Cadmus started because of legitimate concerns for the safety of all humanity, and because when it comes to having those concerns acknowledged, it turns out you don’t have all that many places to turn to. But I’m not concerned about aliens living on this planet in peace, much less about Supergirl who has saved countless human lives. No, I’m concerned about the holes in our knowledge when it comes to the alien lifeforms out there, and the lack of interest the government seems to have in filling those holes.” Cigarette started pacing, treading behind the table like a caged animal while continuously flicking the lid of that metallic lighter. “How are we supposed to defend ourselves against rogue aliens if we know nothing about them? How are we supposed to guard our safety, when humanity’s first shield isn’t being upheld by those charged with protecting us?”

Lena huffed out a breath, something clicking in the back of her mind. “Knowledge is power,” she mimicked, remembering the words Roulette had spoken when she’d come to her office that first time.

Cigarette gave a nod. “Well said.”

Lena narrowed her eyes, her questions only growing, but the hooded figure wasn’t done.

“So to answer your questions, Ms. Luthor; we’ve been kidnapping aliens so we can begin to catalogue their biology, powers and any potential danger their species could pose to humanity. The samples we took from your lab last year were a good start, but there’s much left to be done. And we’ve been selling their bodies because, with your mother gone, we need other ways to fund our operation.”

Lena took a second to digest the information, then shook her head at the figure. “You can’t seriously be this stupid? You’re honestly unaware of the fact there’s already an entire government branch dedicated to-”

“To showing up wherever Supergirl does and handling all things concerning aliens? Yes, Ms. Luthor, I have eyes and a basic sense of deduction. But who are they sharing their research with? Who benefits from their knowledge? You think the average citizen knows that all you need to fend off a Pargolyan is some salt, and you can burn their skin right off? You think that a regular Joe knows how to defend themselves from a hostile invader from Garuza? Of course they don’t, because everything the government may or may not know about aliens is kept behind closed doors. Because everything they do know about aliens was obtained by tiptoeing around them and putting their needs over that of humanity as a whole, because god forbid we did something unethical. God forbid we weren’t sensitive enough when trying to figure out what threats an unknown alien race might hold.” Cigarette was pacing again, the annoying sound made by the metallic lighter only fuelling the blood rushing in Lena’s ears.

“That doesn’t change the fact that spreading this kind of information is dangerous,” Lena said, ice slipping into her voice. “If everyone knew what would be toxic to every specific alien, any moron with my mother’s mindset could go around killing innocent people.”

“That’s not my problem,” Cigarette dismissed. “The object of scientific research is to expand our knowledge. What people do with that knowledge is not any researcher’s responsibility.”

“Scientific research?” Lena scoffed. “That’s what we’re calling it? You can frame it how you like, but kidnapping innocent people is still wrong.”

“Oh, I know that.” The figure paused at Lena’s confused expression. “You think I actually enjoy breaking the law? You think that kidnapping aliens and studying them is something I do for the sake of sadism? No, no,” Cigarette’s head shook again, in a way that was inexplicably condescending. “Like I told you before; I’m not Lillian Luthor. I don’t have a problem with the concept of aliens living peacefully on earth, but some things take priority. Our cause takes priority. I am the only one willing to do what needs to be done, I am the only one willing to cross the necessary boundaries to ensure that we possess the knowledge to be safe from any alien threats, so if that makes me the villain, that’s fine. For the sake of humanity I will gladly be the villain. And that,” Cigarette pointed a finger at Lena, “makes me braver than you.”

“That’s your angle?” Lena was fuming at this point, struggling to keep her composure. “You’re justifying abduction and torture, because there might be a threat somewhere? I have to say, I expected something a lot more interesting than the Guantanamo Bay excuse.”

“Now, now,” Cigarette stopped pacing, arms crossed and head shaking disapprovingly. “You can say what you want about our National Defence, but when it comes to human threats we have all our bases covered. We have secret service assets in almost every country, we have satellites able to detect foreign threats when we need to, we have drones to pre-emptively and safely take out any immediate threat. But when it comes to alien threats? Not so prepared on that front, are they? That’s Cadmus’s sole purpose now; filling in the gaps in our knowledge about aliens, where our government refuses to acknowledge there’s a problem in the first place. Even if we have to break a few ethical rules in the process.” Lena’s insides were revolting in disgust at the self-righteousness and the justifications, a scowl overtaking her face as she levelled the hooded figure with a stone cold glare.

“One evil doesn’t justify another,” she hissed.

“Yes, it does.”

Lena was close to snapping, but she folded her arms, clenching her fingers around the fabric of her coat as tight as she could. “So why even bother telling me all this? Is there a point to this conversation, or are you just buying time for your goons to get out of here?”

The figure shrugged. “To be honest, I was hoping we could come to an understanding. So you can imagine my disappointment at this whole dismissive attitude of yours. We’re not that much different you and I, you know?” Lena had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. “We’re both scientists first and foremost, we understand the importance of knowledge and the power that comes from it, as you yourself so aptly said earlier. So I suppose this was just my way of chasing after the only good idea Lillian Luthor ever had, which was her intention to recruit you.”

“First and foremost, I am a decent person,” Lena shot back, her corporate glare fixing on the hooded figure, the absence of any facial expressions to focus on starting to grate her nerves. “And I might be dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, but I am nothing like you. I don’t live in fear of the things I don’t know.”

“Then I guess you’re not as smart as I thought you were, Ms. Luthor.” Cigarette emphatically flicked the metallic lighter closed, then inhaled dramatically. But before any more inflammatory statements could come out of the figure’s mouth, Lena redirected her attention to the original issue at hand – the one before the Cadmus reveal got dropped out of nowhere.

“If you’re telling the truth and all you care about is researching alien biology, then why did you target Morgan Edge? Why steal Thundercorp’s research, only to kill a human?”

For once Cigarette didn’t shoot an answer back immediately, instead breathing out carefully, almost whether debating if answering would be a good idea. “Morgan Edge almost succeeded in killing you,” the figure started slowly. “And your death, at this time, would be… inconvenient.”

The corner of Lena’s mouth twitched, bitterly realising what that meant. That her existence and the promise of getting to know her identity was still the only reason that ghosts were following the orders of this mysterious figure and Roulette, and that that also meant there were still more of them to come.

“Well, I suppose there’s not much else to say,” Cigarette sighed, almost wistfully. “But I wouldn’t worry too much, Ms. Luthor. I’m sure we’ll meet each other again very soon.”

“You think I’m just going to let you walk out of here?” Lena questioned sharply, taking a step forward.

“Oh?” Cigarette sounded almost amused. “You think you can perform a citizen’s arrest all by yourself?” And yes, now there was definitely a tone of condescension in there. Lena smirked, finally allowed to feel smug about something since entering her own building.

“Who says I’m by myself?” Before the figure could retort, Lena’s hand flew up to the comm in her ear. “Now!”

The DEO agents instantly flooded into the building, entering the space from all angles as they approached the hooded figure, guns raised and coming to a standstill in a perfect circle around Cigarette. Right on cue, rubble fell from the ceiling as Supergirl burst through the roof, landing right between Lena and Cigarette, hands on her hips.

“The jig’s up, Cigarette,” Kara announced boldly, and Lena smiled at the woman’s squared shoulders.

“Supergirl,” Cigarette drawled, voice no different than before and appearing completely nonplussed by the sudden irruption. “I’m glad you’re here, there’s actually something I wanted to tell you.” Cigarette’s arms folded, chin lifting into a small sliver of light. “I have nothing to gain from harming you. No human could honestly say they would be better off without your presence. But I am warning you now; if you try to interfere with Cadmus’s plans I will do anything necessary to stop you.”

“Yeah, you can save the monologuing,” Kara replied nonchalantly. “I don’t think complimenting me will make you popular in prison but hey, you’re welcome to try.”

And without further preamble, Kara flew forward, straight towards the hooded figure standing behind the table. Except in doing so, she flew straight through Cigarette and into the opposite wall of the building.

“Until we meet again,” Cigarette waved casually and then zapped out of existence. Lena was frowning, alarming theories about visible ghosts running through her brain, but then Kara zoomed closer and huffed out a breath, frowning at the spot the hooded figure had been standing in.

“Hologram!” she announced to the tense agents, who immediately lowered their guns while Lena let out a sigh of relief. And before she knew it, Alex was directing traffic, ordering the agents to spread out and collect any evidence they could find, while Lena approached Kara and stood next to her to examine the pad Cigarette had been standing on. Before she could speak, she flinched at the voice suddenly sounding through her comm.

So he pulled a Palpatine, huh?” Winn commented dryly. Lena smiled wryly as she pushed the button to respond.

“Apparently.”

Okay, so the most important thing – apart from Cigarette being the lamest villain name ever, I could’ve done so much better – do you think we can use that pad to track him?”

“Not likely,” Lena commented, bending down to inspect the pad in question. “If he planned all this, I doubt he’d be stupid enough to leave something to track him with behind.”

“Wait,” Kara suddenly interjected. “We’re assuming Cigarette’s a guy?”

“Well, he had a pretty low voice,” Lena shrugged.

I think it sounded somewhere in the middle,” Winn offered. Not that anyone asked him.

“In any case,” Lena grumbled, cutting off the reply she could see forming on Kara’s lips. “I told you it would be fine, didn’t I?” She smiled at the Kryptonian woman who had made a huge fuss about this operation, predictably getting overprotective at the notion of Lena stepping into the building by herself. Kara rolled her eyes.

“It was still dangerous,” she puffed, almost petulantly glancing her way but unable to stop her lips from tugging upwards. The Superhero quickly glanced around before stepping closer, an arm suddenly encircling Lena’s back. “And I just prefer it when you’re safe.”

Lena’s chest swelled with more than just the deep breath she took, swallowing as she watched the tender eyes of the woman who was now pressed to her side. “Yeah…” she breathed, before pointedly clearing her throat. “You know, we should really talk to Alex and Maggie one of these days…”

“I know,” Kara pouted. “Soon.”

Lena hummed, and for a moment they just stood there. Maybe a federal crime scene wasn’t the best place to be having an intimate moment, but with most the agents searching the rest of the building they just stood there side by side for a minute. Then Lena started smirking, as she felt Kara’s arm slide lower down her back.

“Supergirl…” she drawled, raising a single incredulous eyebrow as she glanced to her side. “Is your current hand placement intentional?” She got treated to the sight of a very pink-faced Kryptonian.

“Maybe,” Kara avoided eye contact. “Is that okay?”

Lena’s grin was almost too wide as she returned her gaze forward. “It’s Super.”

They both stood there for another while, surely looking like complete idiots with their matching silly grins. But again, still a federal crime scene, so obviously the comms in their ear provided an interruption.

Supergirl,” Alex’s voice sounded. “We need you to do a scan of the surrounding area, make sure there’s really no one lurking around anymore.”

Kara sighed dramatically before bringing her right hand up to respond, her left still being otherwise occupied. “I’ll be right there, Alex.”

One more thing,” the agent quickly added.

“What’s that?”

Would you mind showing some professionalism when you’re in the cape?”

“What do you mean?”

Turn around.”

Lena and Kara both looked behind them, only to find Alex standing about twenty feet away with a slightly nauseated look on her face. Kara jumped away from Lena as if she’d been burned, the youngest Luthor’s face feeling as if it would start giving off steam any second as she stared down at the pad with a sudden renewed interest.

“Yes, I- professional, of course, I… the- the scan, I’ll um… I’ll do that now.”

Kara promptly flew out of there, leaving Lena to pointedly keep staring at the hologram pad at her feet until she could hear Alex marching away, probably as eager to make eye contact with Lena as she was.

But as the older Danvers sisters took off and the embarrassment gradually dampened, Lena started to realise that the puzzle of their intricate mystery had gained a few valuable pieces. For one, Cigarette had freely offered the motivation behind Cadmus’s dealings with the Endless Winter Clinic to be for financial reasons. Which maybe didn’t seem like much, but it did rule out the possibility of Cigarette being Maxwell Lord himself; a man who for the past few years sat smack in the middle of the Forbes 500.

And Cigarette had claimed to be a scientist first and foremost. So ironically, it didn’t take a scientist to figure out that with the floating turrets they’d analysed being constructed with an alloy used only at Lord Technologies, the new leader of Cadmus was most likely one of the scientists who worked there. Lena felt more determined as she marched out of Thundercorp Labs, thoughts of uncovering Cigarette’s identity and catching him swirling through her head. Or her. Because she felt she should still account for the slim chance that somehow the leader of Cadmus was Mallory S. Moon. It probably wasn’t, but Lena was a scientist first and foremost so all eventualities needed to be accounted for. Even if this one was most likely inaccurate.

Probably…

 


 

 

 

The Wife is typing

 

The Wife: Do you know if we have any bleach at home?

Maggie: probably not. what for?

The Wife: My eyes

Maggie: ???

The Wife: Cause I just had to watch my baby sister grope her girlfriend

Maggie: bullshit

Maggie: kara would never

Maggie: pics or it didn't happen

The Wife: [gross.jpg]

Maggie: ROFL!! OMG!! go little danvers!!

Maggie: Alex?

Maggie: u ok?

The Wife: no

 



 

“Sir! Detective McConnell, sir!”

Frank McConnell halted his march towards the exit of the NCPD, clenching his jaw as he turned around. “What is it, Brooks?”

“Well, there’s, um… someone who wants to talk to you.”

The detective took a measured breath, reminding himself of last week’s conversation with the captain where she’d urged him to always treat the rookies with respect. So he clenched his fists and responded evenly; “I’m going home, Brooks. Whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow.” He was already turning back around, relishing in thoughts of finally getting home at a decent hour for a change, when the young officer’s voice piped up behind him.

“But sir, she- she says it’s about Lena Luthor!”

McConnell came to a stop, glancing back at the officer’s unsure expression, thoughts of dinner at home suddenly getting distant at the notion of finally getting something on the elusive billionaire. He faced the young man again, snatching the standard contact form out of his hands.

“Where?” he demanded, voice now intense.

“In- in your office, sir.”

McConnell barged past him, that old familiar feeling of the scent of a trail coming up as he marched back through the building he’d just been about to leave, coming to a stop in front of his own office. He paused, took a moment to fix his tie and temper his animosity – reminding himself of the many dead ends he’d stumbled upon trying to bring the Luthor woman to justice – before stepping inside and letting his eyes trail over the small woman seated in front of his desk, her eyes shooting up to him like a scared deer.

“Good evening, Miss…” he glanced back at the contact form in his hands, “Miss Huang.” He sat down, professionally folding his hands on the desk in an automatic gesture. “You wanted to talk to me about Lena Luthor?”

“Yes, I-” the woman hesitated, fidgeting with her fingers and shifting restlessly, her eyes flitting nervously around the room. “First of all, I would like to point out that Ms. Luthor has never shown any ill will towards aliens, whatever people might say. She saved all of them during her mother’s attack, so she’s clearly not genocidal like her family. Did you know that she cancelled a device that could be harmful to aliens, even when she’d spent over a year developing it? All I’m trying to say is that the situation is obviously complicated and even if she might hold a grudge against one of them, that doesn’t mean she’s done anything wrong in the past, but I have to tell someone about this, otherwise-”

“Ms. Huang,” the detective huffed out, leaning back in his chair, patience quickly slipping. “It’s late and I should be halfway home by now, and I know you didn’t come in here just to tell me what a saint Lena Luthor is, so how about you get to the point?” The woman swallowed, hesitated again. She glanced behind her, almost as if expecting someone to be pressed against the glass on the other side of the blinds, before leaning closer across the desk and lowering her voice to a whisper.

“She has kryptonite.”

McConnell surged forward, that bloodhound-like rush of adrenaline sweeping in as it did every time he was about to nail a particularly slippery criminal, leaning on his elbows and boring his eyes into the nervous woman. “Would you care to repeat that, Ms. Huang?” he asked sharply. The woman swallowed, never raising her voice above a whisper.

“Down in her private lab, in her personal safe… Lena Luthor is hiding kryptonite.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

May 29th 2017

 

So… did I win?”

Lena snorted, looking up at Kara who was tracing all the cards on the bed with confusion in her eyes. “No, Kara. A full house beats a pair.”

Yeah, and three of a kind, too,” Winn grumbled beside her, snatching his cards from the bed while Lena kept smiling fondly at Kara’s puzzled expression.

It was surreal to think that Kara had almost died two days ago. That they were sitting here playing cards in the same spot where Kara had almost bled out less than 48 hours ago, and that the traces of Lillian Luthor’s attack had already vanished, courtesy of Kara’s alien constitution. But Alex had been very clear with her orders; Kara was to be confined to the bed of the DEO med-bay for the next few days, apparently going in full big sister mode when she said it (Kara’s words) and heeding no protest. Which is how Lena and Winn had now ended up sitting beside Kara’s bed, attempting to relieve her boredom by trying to teach her how to play poker. She wasn’t quite getting it yet.

We’ve been going for at least eight rounds, how do you still not know the rankings?” Winn shook his head as he watched Lena collect her winnings.

Maybe I’m just not suited to gambling,” Kara pouted, handing her cards over for Lena to shuffle.

Kara, we’re playing for jelly beans,” Lena pointedly remarked, depositing the winnings of this latest hand on her increasingly large pile. “It’s not gambling if there aren’t any valuables involved.”

Uh, excuse me, jelly beans are very valuable.”

I think you mean tasty,” Winn pointed out, snacking on one from his remaining few.

And doesn’t the DEO have plenty of these in the cafeteria?” Lena questioned amused.

Yeah, but I’m not allowed to go there. I’m stuck here, remember?” Kara puffed out a dramatic breath. “The only jelly beans I can eat are the ones I manage not to blow on card games.”

Don’t worry,” Lena smirked. “I’ll share my winnings.”

Really?” Kara grinned at her, her face brightening instantly.

Yeah,” Lena breathed. “Really.” She swallowed, getting lost in those blue eyes that were staring so fondly at her, and she couldn’t help her eyes from darting up and down the bed-ridden Kryptonian’s face. Going over those lips that she’d stolen a kiss from a mere two days ago, while Kara was unconscious. Lena cleared her throat, tearing her eyes away before things got weird. Well, they were already weird, because Winn was giving her a look that suggested he knew far more than Lena was comfortable with, so she scrambled to keep the conversation going. She turned back to Kara, only to find her looking the other way, gasping an excited breath with her whole face alight with excitement.

Kal!”

Lena looked up, finding the very familiar sight of man decked out in red and blue, the sight you basically couldn’t escape if you lived in Metropolis, barrelling through the doorway and rushing up to the bedside.

I came as soon as they cleared me, are you alright?!” The man’s concerned expression was scanning Kara from top to bottom, seemingly unaware of Lena trying to recover from the shock of Superman suddenly barging in on their game of poker, while Winn was gasping for air and looked like he was having an orgasm.

I’m fine, I’m fine, Kal,” Kara tried reassure him.

Of course you’re not fine! You got hit with kryptonite, how did you even-” the man fell silent, as his eyes had finally caught sight of the other two people in the room: Winn still fanboying, while Lena was frozen mid-shuffle. “Ms. Luthor.” He straightened up to his full size, the concerned fretting over Kara washing away in an instant as he put his hands on his hips and looked down on her. That wary expression that Lena was all too familiar with crossing hiss features. She sighed as she got up.

Superman,” Lena nodded, attempting to be cordial.

Hey, hi, you- I-” Winn was laughing and breathing like he was having an asthma attack, tripping over nothing as he rushed to round the bed and step up to the standing Kryptonian. “Wel- welcome back to Na- National City, this is great, we’ve met a few times, I don’t know if you-”

Yes, Winn,” Superman spared a moment to flash him a smile, leaving Winn to grin and fumble with thin air. “Of course I remember, it’s good to see you again. Now,” he turned to look at Kara again, seemingly unaware of Winn melting into a puddle of incoherent fanboy, “did you find out how they got kryptonite?” There was a darkness in his eyes that showed just how serious he was taking this, but Kara just swatted her hand.

No, we’re not sure, but it was probably in Lex’s vault. So how’s Metropolis? You guys got hit pretty bad too, huh?” Kara smiled brightly, back to being happy at seeing her cousin, but Superman clearly wasn’t done.

Probably?! We need better than probably! Is… I mean…” he hesitated for a moment. “That small piece I gave you two weeks ago, you… you didn’t lose it, did you? You didn’t-”

No, no, don’t be silly,” Kara laughed and waved her hand again, her eyes falling on Lena, who tensed as she saw what was about to happen. “Lena still has that.”

Incredulous was a good word. It tended to describe disbelief very well. But the word didn’t come close to doing the expression on Superman’s face justice as he darted his eyes between Kara and the youngest Luthor. “You… gave that to her?” he spat the last word, boring his beyond incredulous eyes into Kara.

I, uh… I didn’t mention that, huh?” Kara chuckled sheepishly, looking anywhere but at the man’s eyes.

Kara, you can’t- can’t just-”

Oh, please,” Lena finally spoke up, having heard enough as she crossed her arms and faced down the wary Kryptonian. “I’ve been in here playing poker with these two for the past half hour. If I was trying to kill your cousin, trust me, I would’ve succeeded by now, Mr. Kent.”

Yeah, you would’ve,” Kara chuckled fondly, momentarily distracting Lena as she found herself looking back at her and now being very acutely aware of the beat her heart skipped while staring at her beautiful blue eyes, but she snapped herself out of her ridiculous fantasies to refocus on her confrontation.

Kent, wha- I’m not- you-” Superman had lost all composure, taken completely off guard as he looked back and forth between the two women.

Hey, don’t look at me,” Kara held up her hands defensively. “I didn’t tell her.”

Of course not,” Lena sighed, already tired of this whole interrogation. “It was…” she faltered, noticing a slightly more composed Winn standing beside the Kryptonian man, furiously shaking his head with wide and pleading eyes. “It was basic deduction. You and Kara walked in to interrogate me the second I came to National City, Kara is Supergirl, you’re cousins, it wasn’t that hard to put together, really,” Lena lied, giving the man a cool look of superiority, while beside him Winn visibly slumped with relief at not getting thrown under the bus for spilling Superman’s identity. Superman, however, was looking less and less pleased with the situation as he glanced back over at Kara.

You… told her who you are?” he asked in a tone so glacial, it was as if he’d bottled the Fortress of Solitude.

Well, yeah, she…” Kara looked hesitant, furtively glancing at Lena before straightening herself in the bed and facing down her cousin. “She’s my best friend.” Instantly, Lena’s heart started acting irrationally again, but Superman took a very deep breath, appearing to put otherworldly effort into staying calm.

Kara, can I talk to you for a second? Alone?”

Hey, look, I- I-” Kara looked ready to protest, glancing between her cousin and Lena, “I have nothing to hide from Lena, so-”

It’s about hero business,” Superman stated firmly, turning towards the youngest Luthor. “I’m sure you understand?”

It’s fine,” Lena waved a reassuring hand, silencing Kara before she had a chance to protest. “I’ll just be outside.” She had just rounded the bed to head for the door, when she had to stop to avoid running in to Winn, who had suddenly stepped right up in front of Superman.

Um- Mr.- Superman, sir, I just…” Winn cleared his throat and then, of all things, put his hands on his hips in the same way the two Supers would, while the Kryptonian man’s eyebrows raised in surprise. Winn straightened up and looked him squarely in the eye. “Lena’s a hero, too.”

There was a stunned silence that followed, nobody moving a muscle for a few seconds, before Lena yanked Winn away and told him not to be ridiculous, the two of them stepping out of the med-bay to give the two Supers time to talk.

But that image always stuck in her mind; the sight of Winn squaring his slim shoulders at the Kryptonian who was twice his size and standing up to the man who was his own personal hero.

 

It was that very same day that Lena went and bought a small plastic badge and had it engraved.

 


 

 

February 20th 2018

 

If someone would’ve told Lena two years ago – hell, even a year and a half ago – that one day she’d be spending her evening at an alien dive bar on karaoke night in the company of several people she considered to be her friends and that – oh yeah, by the way – one of them was her girlfriend, she would’ve thought they were crazy. She might have even laughed and offered a friendly pat on the back of the clearly misguided individual for being a far more benevolent kind of crazy than the usual parade of death threats. Yet tonight, an alien dive bar in the company of her friends and her girlfriend who were animatedly debating what they would sing for karaoke night, was exactly where she was.

And no, she herself was absolutely not singing, no matter how hard Kara begged.

With Maggie dragging Alex to grab more drinks and Winn fussing over the song selections at the bar to try and pick the perfect one, Lena was left alone sitting at their large table with Kara. James had stepped away to call Jess – the only one missing from the group – and that had pulled Lena momentarily out of the cosy atmosphere. Because for the past few weeks, she and Jess had maybe had one or two rushed conversations between the huge workload coming from their delicate collaboration with Kamp Pharmaceutics and it was starting to feel like Jess was avoiding her. Lena knew she was probably being paranoid, but with James telling them that she’d been acting weird lately and now with her bailing on them tonight, Lena was starting to worry somewhat.

She hadn’t even had the chance to tell her that Kara was her girlfriend yet for crying out loud!

Speaking of her girlfriend – which was still a surreal thing to say, I mean what the hell, Kara Danvers was her girlfriend – she turned to the side to look at said girlfriend, the blonde woman’s eyes already on her as she adjusted her glasses.

“Hey, can I ask you something?” Kara suddenly spoke up, fiddling with the straw in her fruity drink.

“Anything,” Lena smiled, putting her hand over Kara’s hand on the table. Just because she could.

“So I know we were, you know, already really close before we started dating,” Kara started and Lena smiled widely because yes, she and Kara were dating and it still seemed too good to be true sometimes. “But isn’t it supposed to feel different? Like, even now that we’re officially together it doesn’t really feel all that different from before, you know?”

“Well,” Lena shrugged. “If you believe Maggie, we were acting like a couple even before we got together. So… maybe that’s why things don’t feel much different?”

“Yeah… yeah, that makes sense.” Kara chuckled self-consciously.

“And I disagree, by the way.” Lena smiled at Kara’s expression. “Some things are very different. For example, I don’t have to feel embarrassed whenever I end up staring at you. Also…” she leaned closer and pressed a kiss to Kara’s lips. “I don’t have to stop myself from doing that all the time.”

Kara gave her one of those goofy smiles, that inexplicably proud feeling filling Lena’s chest knowing the pink shade on the blonde’s cheeks was her doing. “All the time, huh?” Kara teased her.

“You have no idea,” Lena lamented. And of course they laughed at that but let’s face it; it’d been quite the struggle. “Speaking of which,” Lena started carefully. “Are we going to talk to Alex and Maggie soon?”

Kara instantly grimaced. “Um, yeah… one of these days.”

“There’s always the alternative…”

“No, no, I’m still not doing that,” Kara vigorously shook her head. “We’ll talk to them soon, just… okay, no, you’re right; some things are different now that we’re dating.” Kara gave her a bright look, clearly fishing for her to ask what it was, and Lena smiled, going along with the blatant attempt at changing the subject.

“Do tell.”

“Well, there’s some things that I wanted to tell you but that would’ve been weird before, but now I can! Tell you, that is.”

Lena arched an amused eyebrow. “Like what?”

“Like that your eyes look like the lakes on the plains of Argo, except a thousand times more beautiful.”

It sounded like a cheesy line. Lena knew nothing of Kryptonian geography, but it most certainly was a cheesy line. But apparently no one had informed Lena’s impressionable heart about this fact, since it took said cheesy line as a cue to start performing a routine even the US gymnastics team would have been jealous of. Kara seemed to mistake her silent staring as a bad thing, as opposed to what was actually happening; which was Lena trying to hide just how badly she was melting on the inside.

“Because the lakes… they… people used to say how beautiful they were, and- um-” Kara flailed her hands about, not realising she was just making Lena’s internal melting that much worse by being the adorable dork that she was. “Just, you know, your eyes kind of remind me of that. Well, except when you cry, then they look more like kaleidoscopes, which is also really beautiful but- Oh gosh! Not that I like seeing you cry, not at all! You should never cry, or be sad in general, but I just meant that-” Kara fell silent as something strange happened. Her face fell, a downright crestfallen expression taking over, as she peered at a spot over Lena’s shoulder. “Oh no…”

“What? What is it?” Lena turned around to see what the woman was staring at and when she did, her stomach dropped.

There, on the TV hanging behind the bar, was a breaking news report going on about a convicted criminal dying in prison. The sound was off, but they could still see the bold headline announcing the death of the notorious criminal known as Toyman. The notorious criminal whose real name was Winslow Schott Senior. Lena’s eyes wandered to the bar where Winn was still standing in front of the song selection screen, frozen in place with his eyes locked on the TV hanging behind the bar. Lena got up and she heard Kara doing the same, but Winn suddenly marched out of there, all but running out of the ugly backdoor as it fell closed behind him. Lena was already stepping around the table but James suddenly reappeared from the side.

“Hey, hey, I got this,” he motioned to the two of them before running after his friend. And Lena was left staring at the TV with a pit on her stomach as she stared at the picture of the deceased Toyman.

The picture of Winn’s dad.

 


 

 

“What do you mean, you don’t want me to come?!”

Lena stood frozen right outside of the main entrance of L-Corp with her phone pressed against her ear, effectively obstructing the revolving doors. But she couldn’t care less about that right now. What she cared about, was Winn telling her not to come to his dad’s funeral.

“Look, it’s… it’s not safe, okay?” Winn’s voice sounded small from the other end of the line. “I don’t want a repeat of what happened with Morgan Edge. You know, in- in case…”

“In case your dad turned into a ghost,” Lena finished incredulously.

“Shhh!!” The loud hiss took Lena by surprise. “Don’t say…” there was a pause, almost as if Winn was looking over his shoulder. “Don’t say that stuff. He- I mean… someone might hear you,” he finished with a whisper.

Lena realised that he was just trying to look out for her, that he was scared of endangering her sanity by exposing her to yet another hostile ghost. But the sting in her chest was still sharp, as the man was effectively asking her to avoid him at a time like this. Lena already felt bad about leaving the alien bar the other night without having a chance to talk to him, but now Winn was telling her to continue staying away from him. And for how long?

“But Winn…” she started helplessly.

“Just don’t come, Lena.”

“But-” she was cut off by the sound of Winn hanging up on her. She looked at the screen, slightly incredulous, but mostly with that same twisting feeling in her gut that she’d felt the other night after witnessing Winn’s dad appearing on the bar’s TV screen.

She was a little too rattled to immediately come up with a solution to this problem. To figure out how to get rid of a hostile ghost without even talking to him or seeing him. It was definitely the fact she was rattled that didn’t allow her to come up with a solution immediately. Because there had to be a solution here. I mean… there couldn’t not be one.

Right?

Lena shook her head as she finally stepped through the revolving doors and entered her building, thinking how this day just kept getting weirder by the minute. First Jess completely no-showed this morning, leaving Lena to scramble to get to Kamp Pharmaceutics in time and replace her in a scheduled meeting. Then she was unexpectedly put in front of a familiar face, as apparently the interim CEO of Kamp Pharmaceutics after Robert Van de Kamp’s death was none other than Samantha Arias, who she’d briefly known from their time together at Spherical Industries. Then, as if all that wasn’t enough, the woman had ended up confessing that she had blanks in her memories and Lena had agreed to help her figure out what was going on. It was a pretty stupid thing to do, considering the numerous mysteries she was already trying to solve, not to mention that Samantha Arias was in charge of a company which they were in the middle of a delicate collaboration with. But the woman had said that she didn’t know who else to tell, and then they’d talked about how big Ruby had gotten and apparently Lena was a pushover now.

And after all that, Winn calls and tells her that she shouldn’t come to his dad’s funeral. Things truly couldn’t get more troubling today.

“Ms. Luthor!” Lena looked up, frowning at the sight of Titus jumping up from the front desk and running up to her while motioning in agitation. “The police came in here five minutes ago!” he all but panted. “They had a search warrant, Ms. Luthor, I- I had to let them through!”

Lena huffed, steel settling into her eyes as she started taking angry strides towards her private elevator.

“No, no, Ms. Luthor!” Titus called after her and Lena snapped around on the spot.

“What?!”

“They… they didn’t go upstairs,” Titus said quietly, almost unnervingly twitching in place. He motioned to the side, to the small and poorly lit side corridor just behind her, and Lena’s nostrils flared.

“My private lab?” she asked sharply.

Titus barely had time to nod before Lena marched her way over, blood rushing in her ears as her anger threatened to spill over. Because as amusing as Maggie’s ongoing feud with detective McConnell was, when the man’s prejudice against her last name showed itself in such blatant fashion, the whole thing got a lot less funny. The first thing she noticed was the door to her private lab standing wide open. Which was very strange, since she and Jess were the only two with the clearance to open it. But as she stepped through, things got even stranger. There were at least a dozen cops standing in her private lab all looking towards the back of the room, and Lena’s anger completely boiled over. Because it was called a private lab for a reason. Because these invasions born out of nothing more than prejudice was something she had started to hope she could leave behind.

“What the hell is going on here?!” she snarled, causing the countless officers to turn her way.

The first thing she noticed were the wary looks they all gave her. The second thing she noticed was that it was indeed Frank McConnell who was responsible for this invasion, as the man was crouched at the other end of the room. The third thing she noticed, hit her like a punch to the gut. Because detective McConnell was crouched near the dented and severely damaged personal safe that Lena kept her most valuable possessions in; the small door of the safe hanging crookedly off its hinges, with tiny wires plastered all over and the residues of smoke hanging in the air indicating that her safe had been forced open with explosives.

“How good of you to join us, Ms. Luthor,” the detective drawled as he straightened up and turned towards her. And that’s when Lena noticed the small lead box he was holding, the green glow escaping from the opened lid and illuminating the man’s victorious expression.

And before she could fully process what was happening, one of the many officers started handcuffing her.

“Ms. Luthor,” the detective announced, stalking over to her with what was definitely a smug look on his face. “You have the right to remain silent.”

 


 

 

Prison sucked.

And fine, technically the small holding cell in the back area of the NCPD wasn’t a prison, but it was close enough for it to unequivocally suck. Not to mention that the countless hours she’d spent in here were already feeling like whole days. She’d finally been able to call the head of L-Corp’s legal team earlier and Paul was probably on his way to the station right now, but still Lena couldn’t sit still; pacing back and forth and even tapping her foot impatiently whenever she paused to lean against the metal bars of her cell. She sighed as she watched the officer on the other side of the room standing with his back turned while cataloguing her belongings. She could see the young man put aside her watch and her scowl only deepened.

I mean, it’s not like she would use it to summon Supergirl right now, but the whole point of having an emergency signal was that it could be used at all times. Also, the sight of her watch slash Supergirl beacon was leaving her very annoyed at the whole ‘one phone call’ ordeal. Because despite her phone being all the way across the room among the items that the young officer was handling, she still heard it buzzing several times over the past hour, probably displaying worried messages about where she was. So yes, getting a lawyer was definitely a priority at this time, but it would be nice if she could also tell her girlfriend she didn’t need to worry.

“Have you ever been kidnapped?”

The young dark-skinned officer on the other side of the room turned around at that, blinking owlishly at the sudden question. “I… what?”

“I was wondering if you’ve ever been kidnapped, officer…” she squinted her eyes at the small name tag on the man’s uniform, “officer Brooks.”

“I…” the man looked around, as if he was going to get advice from a bystander on how to answer. “No?”

“Well, you’re very lucky. I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing it a couple of times.” She let the words hang in the air for a bit as she regarded the dumbfounded policeman. “The worst part was that it was my own mother doing it last time. Can you imagine?” Lena stared intently at the man across the room, who cleared his throat.

“Ms. Luthor, I’m not really supposed to talk to y-”

“But,” Lena continued undeterred, “the other troubling thing was that I couldn’t let anyone know what was going on. Everyone just assumed that I was voluntarily aiding a criminal organisation. Can you imagine the frustration? Being that powerless? Can you imagine it, officer Brooks?”

“I guess,” the man drawled, standing awkwardly still and seeming pretty confused.

“As it turns out, not everyone thought I was evil. Someone was actually trying to help me. But she had no idea where I was or what was happening to me, so obviously she was very concerned. Can you imagine, officer Brooks? So desperately wanting someone to be okay, but having no idea of knowing? Can you imagine?”

“Okay, what- what’s the point of all this?” Brooks finally asked, crossing his arms.

“The point is that while I understand the logic behind limiting a detainee’s ability to communicate with the outside world, there’s someone who is very worried about me right now.” As if on cue, the buzzing of Lena’s phone could be heard behind officer Brooks. “Surely you can understand not wanting people to worry about you? You can imagine that, can’t you?” She kept her eyes firmly locked on the young officer, but he simply frowned back.

“When your lawyer gets here, he can call whoever you want for you,” he stated stoically.

“Which he will only do after he gets through the pile of bureaucracy I’m sure they have lined up for him. Officer Brooks,” she paused, waiting for the young man to meet her eyes again. “You know a quick text wouldn’t end the world, right?”

“Yeah, that- that’s definitely not allowed.”

“Neither is talking to me, but that hasn’t resulted in anything nefarious happening just yet, right?” The man shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another, not responding immediately like he did before and Lena saw her opening. “Do you-”

The wall on the right side of the room exploded.

Lena jumped back instinctively and saw officer Brooks disappear behind a curtain of dust. The dust of the blast died down gradually, but before it was completely gone she could already see a head of blonde hair whipping around with concern, the woman’s red cape following her erratic movements.

“Lena?!” Kara’s superspeed brought her in front of the metal bars in an instant, the gust of wind she produced clearing the air behind her and revealing a terrified-looking officer Brooks pressed against the opposite wall. “What did they do?!”

“Supergirl,” Lena pronounced her name emphatically, because she wasn’t sure Kara realised there was someone else in the room; what with her wide and panicked eyes and distressed breathing. “I don’t think it was necessary to-” Lena flinched when Kara unceremoniously ripped the cell’s door off its hinges and threw it to the side. The loud metallic bang seemed to snap officer Brooks out of his shock and he jumped to his feet, scurrying out of the back room as fast as he could.

“Are you okay?!” Kara continued to fuss, pulling Lena out of her cell and looking her over as if she fully expected to uncover a mortal wound somewhere. “Did they hurt you?”

“What? Of course not,” Lena frowned. “I was arrested, not kidnapped by a supervillain.” Lena tried to give the woman a reassuring look, but Kara clearly wasn’t paying attention. She kept looking her over with worry in her eyes and didn’t seem intent on calming down any time soon.

All of a sudden the small back room echoed with the sound of a blaring siren. Kara snapped around immediately, scanning the area for any sign of danger. Lena was pretty sure it was just an alarm but before she could say as much to the panicking Superhero, the door officer Brooks disappeared through swung open and seemingly half the NCPD flooded into the room. The countless agents in uniform all had their guns out as they stopped at a safe distance from Lena and Kara, forming a human wall between the two women in front of the cell and the door behind them. Kara immediately stepped in front of Lena and spread her arms protectively as if she was going to have to shield her from a storm of bullets, but obviously the police corps weren’t dumb enough to just go and open fire on Supergirl.

“LET ME THROUGH!! LET ME THROUGH, GODDAMN IT!!” The loud and angry voice was soon followed by detective McConnell himself aggressively pushing his way to the front of the formation made up of blue uniforms, with officer Brooks trailing behind him. “LOWER YOUR WEAPONS!!” he barked, motioning to the countless officers who hesitantly did as they were told. The man turned back to face the cause of the commotion and breathed out, as if putting every ounce of willpower into containing his anger, slowly putting his hands on his hips in a much more frustrated variation of Supergirl’s signature pose. Kara immediately mirroring his stance did not seem to amuse him. “What’s the meaning of this?”

“That’s what I was going to ask,” Kara shot back, unlike detective McConnell making no effort to hide the angry disdain in her voice. “Why are you harassing Ms. Luthor again?”

“NO ONE-” detective McConnell swallowed, forcibly lowering the volume of his voice with what seemed to be inhuman effort. “No one is harassing anyone,” he said through gritted teeth. “A search warrant was issued for the headquarters of L-Corp, we found evidence of Ms. Luthor’s involvement in the terrorist organisation known as Cadmus and then she was arrested. Now,” McConnell dared to take a step closer, “why are you trying to break out my suspect?”

“What evidence?” Kara demanded.

“Supergirl, we don’t disclose details of ongoing-”

“WHAT EVIDENCE?!”

The entire corps seemed to flinch, all of them collectively taking a step back, but McConnell was the only one to hold his ground, despite the fact that Lena had clearly seen a blue glow momentarily emanate from Kara’s eyes, even from her shielded position. She put a hand on Kara’s back, trying to calm her down from this bout of erratic anger.

“Supergirl,” she whispered, “you don’t have to-”

“Kryptonite,” McConnell suddenly stated. Lena could feel Kara’s entire posture tense, while McConnell looked oddly smug as he crossed his arms. “Ms. Luthor was found in possession of kryptonite.”

Kara teared her eyes away from the victorious smirk of the detective and looked over her shoulder, sending Lena an unsure look. “Did they… was that the…”

“Yes,” Lena sighed. “They blew up my personal safe.” Kara let out something between a sigh and a groan, her entire figure slumping as she covered her eyes and shook her head. McConnell’s self-satisfied smirk gave away his misunderstanding of the situation.

“So as you can see, Supergirl, we were merely-”

“I gave her that!” Kara huffed as she threw up her hands.

The silence that followed was deafening. The sound of a pin dropping would’ve come across as a gun shot, as the stunned faces of about two dozen police officers stared at the caped hero. McConnell was the first one to even move a muscle, glancing back at officer Brooks before facing Supergirl again with an almost comically bug-eyed expression.

“But… why?!” he forced out.

“That’s none of your business!” Kara proclaimed stubbornly. “So just give Ms. Luthor her things back and we can all forget this whole thing hap-”

“No!!” McConnell’s anger rose back to the surface, his fists clenching as if he had to physically remind himself that trying to deck a Kryptonian was a terrible idea. “Things don’t work that way, Supergirl! We don’t let suspects go because someone vouches for them!”

“You’re holding her because she had kryptonite, and I’m explaining to you that she didn’t get it from or for Cadmus,” Kara hissed, the uncharacteristic venom in her voice still present. “So give her her things back.”

“How would you know what she uses it for?!” McConnell barked, his self-restraint seeming to crack a little further. “Do you watch her every minute of every day?! Do you know what she’s doing in all those labs of hers?!”

“Give her her things back, detective!”

“Her employees know, and they sure as hell don’t trust her, otherwise Ms. Huang wouldn’t have blown the whistle on her!!”

“What?” Lena’s heart sank all the way to her shoes. She tried to step past Kara, but the hero’s hand clenching protectively around her wrist stopped her. “What did you-”

“Lena.” Kara briefly glanced at her, still holding her back. “Not now.”

The sudden sensation of being treated like a child made Lena’s eyes go cold. She ripped her hand free from Kara’s grip and stepped back. Her caped girlfriend frowned in confusion, but at that point McConnell suddenly stepped uncomfortably close to the alien woman. Kara’s head turned back, frowning apprehensively at the scrutinising look the detective was giving her in this new excessive proximity.

“Supergirl…” The man whispered intensely. “Is she blackmailing you? Because whatever it is, I can guarantee you that the NCPD would be willing to do anything in our power to help you with-”

“No one is blackmailing anyone,” Kara stated loudly. “Now give. Lena. Her. Things back.”

Lena looked on as the detective and the Superhero stood there locked in an angry staring contest for several seconds. The many police officers shifted nervously glancing between the two of them and between each other, but then McConnell clenched his jaw and turned his head halfway around.

“Brooks.” He nudged his head sideways, and the young officer immediately complied.

As the sounds of plastic bags being collected permeated from the table to the side, the rest of the room remained completely silent. McConnell had resumed his staring contest with Supergirl, except this time his contempt was clearly visible, while Kara simply stood there; her arms crossed and her face an example of condescension. Lena’s attention was pulled away from the scene when officer Brooks appeared beside her and nervously shoved several plastic bags in her hands that contained her things, many of them still having an official police label attached to it.

“Is that everything?” Kara asked Lena, her eyes still locked with McConnell as she took a step backwards.

“Yes, I… I believe so,” Lena responded, rifling through the bags containing her watch, her gun, the picture of herself and Lex holding surfboards and the small lead box that symbolised Kara’s trust.

She was about to open her mouth again when Kara, with zero preamble, suddenly scooped her up in her arms. Lena barely had time to clasp one arm around her neck and notice the last disdainful look Kara sent towards detective McConnell, before they left gravity behind and took off through the hole in the wall, the wind suddenly blowing around Lena’s ears.

She clutched Kara’s shoulders tightly with her right hand and pressed the plastic bags to her chest with her left, her knuckles turning white in the process as her insides contracted in the worst way possible. The impromptu flight thankfully didn’t take very long, Kara slowing down only a few seconds later, and soon Lena could feel them dropping altitude. And as she dared to take a peek downward, she noticed the alien woman was lowering them atop the roof of one of National City’s many skyscrapers.

As soon as Kara landed and lowered her feet to the ground Lena aggressively pushed herself out of the woman’s hold, taking deep breaths while she took a few steps away and tried to temper her anger, as well as the churning feeling in her stomach that always came from any form of flying.

“Lena?” Kara’s voice sounded unsure. “Are you oka-”

“First of all,” Lena put up a silencing finger, taking one last deep breath before turning to face her girlfriend. “You know I hate flying and I’d appreciate a warning next time.”

“Oh… right. Sorry.”

“And second of all; you can’t just do that!!” Lena bristled, her anger spilling over. Kara looked completely dumbfounded.

“Do… do what?”

“You can’t just break into the NCPD and start ordering the police around!”

Kara frowned as she stepped closer, still looking confused. “Wait, you’re… you’re mad that I got you out of jail?”

“Yes!”

Kara’s confusion mixed with offence, as she crossed her arms defensively and stared Lena down.

“You can’t go around bending the rules just because you’re worried about me! I could’ve just waited for Paul to arrive and get me out of there, and after that they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere since there are no laws against owning kryptonite! But no, you had to come barrelling in and make a scene!”

“You told me yourself that McConnell had it out for you,” Kara protested. “Did you expect me to not get worried after finding out that he got his hands on you?”

“Got his hands on-” Lena scoffed incredulously and shook her head. “You can worry all you want, but you keep doing this, Kara! You don’t use your head! You do things like flying around in your regular clothes, and threatening the police all because you’re worried about me! Don’t you think the fact that they take it seriously when they find kryptonite somewhere is a good thing?!”

“Wait, what- what does the regular clothes part have to do with this?!” Kara sputtered, clearly getting annoyed herself.

“Kara…” Lena deflated, her anger slowly subsiding as she tried to bring this tactfully. “It took time for me too, okay? I had trouble accepting that you were going to be in danger and that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything about it. I had a lot of trouble, in fact,” she huffed softly. “But I think it’s time you understand that you can’t protect me from everything.”

“Wait, wait, wait, those things are not the same!” Kara protested, her hands moving to her hips. “I have to be in danger sometimes, because I need to protect this city! But you don’t need to be in danger, I can protect you!”

“Not always, Kara.” Lena stepped closer to her girlfriend, trying to dispel the awkward tension they’d created for themselves. She really should have broached the subject more diplomatically, but her feelings for Kara were apparently always hard to contain even when they were angry ones. “I know from experience how the thought of something bad happening to the people we care about can consume you. You… you know exactly what it did to me. The thought of you getting hurt, or… or dying.” Lena swallowed, uncomfortable as ever, but at least Kara seemed to be less on the defensive. So Lena stepped closer to her and came face to face. “But you have to let it go, Kara. I know you’ve lost people before, just like me, and I know it still hurts, it does for me too. But you have to accept that something bad could happen, even if you don’t want it to.”

“But I can protect you!” Kara insisted, more frazzled than before. “What’s the point of having superpowers if I can’t protect my girlfriend?” Kara huffed out a deep breath, while Lena took a moment to look at her shoes and thus avoid showing the twitch of her lips at hearing Kara calling her her girlfriend. Because yeah, Kara was her girlfriend. Kara Danvers was her girlfriend.

Focus, Lena!!

“I’m not saying your powers can’t be useful,” Lena reached out for Kara’s arm, the alien woman’s distress devolving into an increasingly sad look. “Or that I don’t want you to save me when it’s really necessary. But that’s what this is for.” Lena picked through the little plastic bags collected in her hand, holding up the one with her Supergirl-summoning watch. “If I’m really in danger, I swear I’ll press the button and I’ll be more than happy for you to save the day. But honey, you can’t go on like this.” She deposited the evidence bags on the rooftop, bringing up both her hands to hold Kara by her arms. “You keep having panic attacks whenever something almost happens to me; after the chemicals on the plane, after I got poisoned. You didn’t want me to come to Maaldoria, even though I could’ve made the mission easier and now you’re interfering with the law because you can’t handle the thought of me being in even the slightest bit of danger.”

“But McConnell-”

“Is an asshole, yes, I know.” Lena smiled at her girlfriend, Kara begrudgingly cracking a small smile. “But he’s not a murderer or a kidnapper or anything like that. So tell me honestly, looking back on it, wasn’t wrecking the NCPD a little bit excessive?” She kept looking at Kara, who huffed a little breath and kicked at the roof, looking a lot less Super and a lot more Danvers.

“In my defence,” Kara grumbled, “I’ve had a really long day, okay? First the whole exploding casket thing at the funeral and then I had to chase flying monkeys around the DEO and then I find out you’re in jail. So, yeah. I’m a little stressed out.”

“Flying monkeys?!”

“Yeah,” Kara waved a dismissive hand around. “This devotee of Toyman built a bunch of dangerous toys, but we caught her in the end.” Lena shook her head, still not used to how casual her friends could be about some of the ridiculousness that found its way into their lives. “Okay,” Kara let out a deep sigh, “so I’ll try not to panic. When- when you’re in danger, I’ll try to be reasonable and calm and… yeah.” Kara let out a deep breath and swung her arms by her sides, almost as if needing to dispel lingering energy. Then she glanced to the city skyline, looking like she was planning their next flight already. “So how about we-”

“Kara,” Lena interrupted, the alien woman pausing her movements. “Two more things. First; don’t ever treat me like child again. With McConnell,” she explained at seeing Kara’s confused face. “Telling me ‘not now’?”

“Oh,” Kara cringed. “Yeah, that… I mean, I didn’t- I was just really angry at… yeah, okay. I’m sorry.” Kara shot her an apologetic look and Lena managed a small smile before moving on.

“And second; I know you don’t like doing this, but…” Lena sighed, already foreseeing trouble on the horizon, but this was important. “But you… I mean, I really think that you should tell Jess that you’re Supergirl.”

Kara’s expression immediately shifted, looking at Lena as if she’d grown an extra head as she stepped back and away from her. Lena twitched as she noticed Kara’s heels being very close to the ledge. She knew logically that wasn’t a problem, but Kara wasn’t the only one with protective instincts.

“What are you- No! No way!” Kara put her hands on her hips and yeah, she looked downright offended now.

“Kara, hear me out,” Lena kept her voice as calm as possible. “It’s the only way to make her understand. How else would you explain to her why I had kryptonite stashed away?”

“Who cares! Why should I tell her my secret, when she clearly doesn’t trust you?! It would be like- like rewarding her for assuming you’re evil! She got you arrested!”

“Which only happened because we kept secrets from her,” Lena pleaded, taking another step forward despite the ledge of the building being visible now and despite the sight of the precipice beyond it making her stomach turn. “She didn’t know why I had kryptonite lying around, she couldn’t have known. If anything, I think it’s commendable that she’s willing to throw me under the bus just to protect you.”

“Your life isn’t any less important than mine,” Kara immediately stated, crossing her arms and looking very unhappy. Lena sighed and tried counting to ten in her head (dr. Talbot was persistent like that), refraining from protesting since she knew that wasn’t going to help her case right now.

“That’s not the point, Kara. The point is that she was looking out for you, she was looking out for Supergirl. The fact that she didn’t understand there was nothing to worry about is on us, not on her.”

“That’s debatable,” Kara grumbled.

“Suppose it was me,” Lena insisted. “Suppose you’d never told me you were Supergirl and I did something stupid because I didn’t know it was you. You wouldn’t hold that against me, would you? You would still believe in me?”

“Always,” Kara proclaimed, not missing a beat.

Lena nodded, not sure Kara would understand the swell in her heart that single statement could cause. “Well, I don’t hold it against Jess. And look, I of all people understand that no one should force you to tell your secrets, or should spill them in your stead. God, don’t I know it,” Lena huffed quietly, the ever-present shadow of Cadmus and Roulette always at the back of her mind. “But you trust me, right?”

“Of course,” Kara shot back immediately and, again, Lena wasn’t sure she’d do the swell in her heart justice with words.

“Well, I trust Jess. And look… if it helps…” she shrugged looking helplessly from left to right, “I’ll tell her about the ghost thing too.”

“What?” Kara blinked, looking perplexed. “Why?”

“Why not?” Lena shrugged. “Like I said; I trust her. And if I have to tell her my secret to prove to you that I mean that, then so be it.”

Kara frowned at her, searching her face for something. “You don’t have to do that,” she mumbled, her defensiveness ebbing away as her arms slid down to her sides.

“But I should anyway,” Lena insisted resolutely, surprising herself for how much she meant it. “If there’s anything we can take away from all this, it’s that… keeping secrets from the people we claim to trust will never do any good.” She nodded to herself before searching Kara’s eyes, a pensive, almost pained expression going through them as the Superhero just stood there for a second. Then her expression softened, the corner of Kara’s lip pulling up ever so slightly as she just nodded at her.

“Okay,” she mumbled. Lena let out a breath she didn’t realise she was holding, because now that it had come down to it, the thought of having to continue to lie to Jess didn’t seem excusable anymore. Kara, for her part, looked downright awkward as she fiddled with her fingers after all that. “Why does it feel like we just had a fight?” she huffed, shuffling her feet around. Lena finally allowed a full smile to break through, stepping up to face Kara and reaching out to grab her hand. She smiled wider as Kara lifted her head to meet her eyes.

“I think I’d call it an animated discussion.”

“Hm.” Kara nodded but didn’t seem entirely convinced, huffing out another breath in the process. “Still… you really need to stop making me feel like an idiot.” Kara broke out a small smile, and Lena responded by tucking her girlfriend’s hair behind her ear.

“You’re not an idiot. You just tend to think with your heart.” Lena pressed her hand to the symbol on Kara’s chest for emphasis. “Which is lovely, but you should remember that it’s your brain that was designed to do the thinking.” She pointedly tapped the side of Kara’s head, who huffed adorably in mock offence.

“Nerd.”

“Softie.”

They smiled at each other, Lena’s hands sliding down to Kara’s arms while the alien woman’s hands had somehow ended up on Lena’s hips. They stood there looking at each other while the breeze that the rooftop exposed them to played with their hair, but Lena was quickly forgetting her distaste for heights. What did you expect when Kara was standing this close and looking at her this intensely? Lena wanted to say something but hesitated, not only because they’d just dealt with a good number of difficult subjects but also because she didn’t want to keep pestering Kara with something that clearly made her uncomfortable. Lena couldn’t keep her thoughts to herself anymore though, because Kara was now indulging in the habit Lena had been forced to snap herself out of so often; the woman unabashedly staring back into her eyes. She also licked her lips and now Lena really couldn’t keep quiet anymore.

“So, have you thought about-”

“Can we talk to Alex and Maggie? Today?”

Lena blinked, stunned at the sudden words. “Really?”

“Yeah… you were right. We shouldn’t put it off anymore. I can’t put it off anymore.” Kara’s grip tightened minutely, but it was enough to make Lena shiver, the jolts of heat going up and down her body devoid of much of the usual accompanied embarrassment, but Lena actively stopped herself from getting lost in Kara’s eyes again.

“Good,” Lena breathed, using the nodding of her head as an excuse to look at the floor. “But…” she put a tiny bit more distance between them, even if every cell in her body seemed to have suddenly given up on mitosis in favour of waving picket signs around at the injustice of Kara’s touch being taken away. “Jess first.”

“Right. Yes, okay.” Kara swallowed, looking like she shared Lena’s problem of cells unionizing. “Jess first,” Kara agreed with a nod. She cleared her throat as she stepped past Lena and started picking up the little plastic bags with Lena’s belongings, giving the youngest Luthor a chance to take a deep breath. When Kara stepped back up to Lena she crouched halfway down, froze, and then straightened back up. “Oh! Um… we’re going to fly. So… I’m warning you. Like I promised.”

“Good to know.” Lena struggled to repress a snort at the dorkiness of her girlfriend, but when Kara bent down again and scooped her up in her arms, the humour quickly drained at the thought of racing through the air again. Lena tightly gripped her arms around Kara’s neck. “Just… fly slowly, okay?”

“As you wish.” Kara shot her a bright smile, which briefly calmed Lena’s nerves. But they came back full force when the Superhero carefully hovered a few inches of the rooftop and Lena could see the view of the city expand beyond the ledge. She didn’t think twice to bury her face in Kara’s shoulder and close her eyes. Then she heard a humming in Kara’s throat and a rumbling below the crest that her elbow was currently pressed against.

“I can feel you laughing!” Lena exclaimed, the sound muffled by Kara’s shoulder.

“Sorry.” Lena could almost hear the grin on Kara’s face. “You just look adorable right now.”

“Shut up and fly, Supergirl.”

They lifted off, but the sound of the wind blowing past her ears was not enough to entirely block out Kara’s beautiful laugh.

 


 

 

Jess had never shed so many tears.

In fact, she was never really in the habit of crying over anything unless there was a Pixar movie involved. (People could judge all they wanted, but ‘Inside Out’ really got to her, okay?!) Of course there were exceptions here and there; she’d cried for a solid hour after learning her dad had died in that car accident. She couldn’t help embarrassing herself with a few tears after Alana had gotten arrested. When Ms. Luthor had disappeared during the Daxamite invasion and those assholes in PR had kept insisting how she clearly had to be dead, Jess had needed to lock herself in the bathroom for a minute to choke back her emotions, before striding back out to prevent the board from taking over L-Corp amidst the panic. So there were cracks here and there, sure.

Today however, it felt like her tears could’ve formed an ocean. They even came in waves.

First, when Ms. Luthor and Ms. Danvers walked into L-Corp’s top floor office and made sure to lock the door behind them, Jess felt scared. After all, Ms. Luthor was supposed to be behind bars right now and as conflicted as she was about the possibility that the woman she’d admired for so long was proving the majority of National City’s population right, she felt fear settling in, because there was no way she could’ve gotten out of the NCPD that fast. But before that feeling could take over, both Ms. Luthor and Ms. Danvers started talking at the same time. It was all pretty confusing and garbled – almost as if neither of them had decided what exactly they were going to say before walking into the office – but then, after a confusing minute of aimless words and helpless glances being exchanged, an all too familiar crest appeared from under Ms. Danvers’ clothes, bursting through the confusing mess of a conversation to shine an illuminating light on everything. With the blonde woman’s glasses coming off and Ms. Luthor’s confusing monologue about kryptonite not being kryptonite but it being trust instead, and with Supergirl hesitantly shrugging at her while still partially dressed as Ms. Danvers, Jess stood there like a statue and stared.

And then it clicked.

Ms. Danvers was Supergirl. And Ms. Luthor never did anything wrong.

That was the first wave.

Jess was pretty sure she cried for an embarrassing amount of time, forcing out apologies in snippets and hiccups as she tried to make Ms. Luthor understand that she was sorry, she was so sorry for getting her arrested and making assumptions and being like every other idiot in this stupid city and there had to have been more to it, but the memory of the whole thing was just a blurry mess of tears and incoherent sentences at this point. Jess knew for a fact, though, that Ms. Luthor had hugged her and kept repeating that it was okay and that it wasn’t her fault. If anything, it made Jess want to kick herself even harder for ever assuming the woman was anything other than a goddamn saint.

But when she thought it was all over, when she’d finally calmed down from her worst outburst of sorrow since her father had died, her father was suddenly exactly what they were talking about. Jess was stunned at first, listening to Ms. Luthor tell fantastical tales of dead people wandering around the world as ghosts and how she could see them, all while Ms. Danvers – with her glasses back on and her shirt freshly re-buttoned – just stood behind her and nodded in agreement at everything. And then Ms. Luthor talked about her ‘second case’, as she called it. About a man named Huang Fu and how he was worried about his daughter and all of a sudden Ms. Luthor was saying things she shouldn’t know, that she couldn’t possibly know, things that only her dad had known, and if ‘Coco’ had made her tear up a little, then the whole concept of dead relatives hovering nearby being real was ten times worse.

It was the second wave.

Questions might have been appropriate, the ‘how?’ and the ‘when?’ and the ‘no seriously, how?!’ all seeming valid, but it wasn’t words that came out of her; it were rivers worth of tears and significantly more mucus than she cared to remember. Ms. Luthor was gracious enough to hold her through it all, and once she’d calmed down, once the ridiculous amount of tears had subsided after hearing of this ridiculous concept, Ms. Danvers was kind enough to hand her a handkerchief, appearing in front of her with a burst of above-human speed.

“Wow.” Jess blinked sheepishly while trying to wipe her face to a slightly less gross state.

“I know. It can take some getting used to.” Ms. Luthor smiled at her, and by all accounts her insides had to be completely dried out by now, but Jess got emotional all over again. She valiantly tried to smile back.

“Right…” she huffed out an approximation of a laugh. “And here I thought you two couldn’t be more perfect for each other.”

Crap.

“I mean…” Jess stammered, mortified to the bone, because selling out Ms. Luthor to the police was one thing, but selling her out to her crush was definitely taking it too far. “As friends! Because- you know- with, um- great powers and all that… you’re perfect as friends, I meant. Like-”

“Jess.” Ms. Luthor smiled at her again, but much wider and much brighter than before. “If you hadn’t been avoiding me for these past weeks I would’ve told you sooner, but… um…” she briefly directed that rare unbridled smile of hers at Ms. Danvers. “…Kara’s my girlfriend now.”

Jess looked on as Ms. Danvers linked her hand with Ms. Luthor’s and made supernovas blush by how intensely she beamed at her.

Cue the third wave.

And look, to an outsider it may appear strange to be this invested in your boss’s love life (Ms. Danvers definitely seemed puzzled by her outburst), but if anyone deserved to get the girl, it was Ms. Luthor. In fact Ms. Luthor deserved the world, but – considering her brother’s antics – that would make for some terrible PR, so the girl would have to do. The embarrassing tears kept coming out, but she supposed that’s what happens when your personal hero didn’t go bad after all, turned out to be more of a hero than you could have imagined and got the girl of her dreams, who – oh yeah, by the way – happened to be a hero too.

When it was finally all over, when the tears and the mind-blowing revelations finally stopped emerging, Jess composed herself, saving a lot of burning question for later as she walked the two of them out of the office. She promised her boss she would head home, remembered to ask how much she could tell James about this – Ms. Luthor mentioned he knew both of their secrets already, and now she really needed to have a word with him – and when Ms. Luthor insisted that she come to their repeat of karaoke night, she finally managed a full smile.

“Sure thing. I’ll see you there, Ms. Luthor.”

“Jess… one more thing.” Jess paused in the doorway. “Considering everything we just told you, I think that – outside of business hours at the very least – it is high time you stopped calling me Ms. Luthor. Just Lena will do.”

And Jess felt that, if not for the others, she could be excused for this one. Because after unlocking her boss’s private lab for the police this morning, after working through the day as if she wasn’t dreading what would become of L-Corp, after the guilt and the worry eating at her, after breaking down repeatedly at unlikely secrets just now, she thought her emotional state being all over the place was only natural.

So yeah, she feels like she could be excused for this one.

For letting the fourth wave crash over her.

 


 

 

It was quiet in the slightly shabby apartment complex near the centre of the city.

Most people were already home, the halls free from prying eyes, except for that one guy from the third floor who worked overtime and was getting home just now, and he was the only one to raise his brow at the woman seated on the floor right next to the door with the number nine on it. For once though, Lena didn’t give a damn about what the public perception of her might be right now. What she gave a damn about, was for Winn to stop ignoring her.

“I’m not leaving until you open the door, Winn.”

There was a shuffle on the other side of the door, something Lena might have perceived as progress if it weren’t for the fact that Winn had audibly moved closer to the door quite a while ago. Except now, after twenty minutes of silent treatment, she finally got a response.

“It’s not safe,” the muffled voice sounded from beyond the door.

Lena straightened, her head ceasing to lean on the wall. “These things never are. Just let me help.” She swallowed, aware that not only Winn but also the ghost of the man’s father might be listening in, but they had to solve this somehow.

There was another shuffle, followed by another brief silence as Lena leaned closer to the door that shielded her from her friend. “Look,” the muffled voice returned, “you’ve already got this whole Roulette thing to deal with and I don’t want to make it worse. You have enough people trying to kill you or threatening your sanity as it is.”

“So what’s your grand solution here?” Lena scoffed. “You’re just going to avoid me forever?”

Another shuffle. Another silence. “I don’t think we have a choice…”

The rage came out of nowhere. Logically, the man had a point. The odds that someone like Toyman would try to control her for nefarious purposes were high, dangerously so. But Winn suggested abandoning him, suggested that she’d lose the second friend she’d made in National City, that they’d never see each other again because of her power, which was a curse almost as often as it was a blessing. Maybe the long two days she’d had featuring arrests, jailbreaks and the revealing of intimate secrets had something to do with it, but suddenly all Lena saw was rage, jumping to her feet as she banged her fist on Winn’s front door.

“WINSLOW SCHOTT SENIOR, I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!! I KNOW YOU’RE DEAD, BUT I CAN SEE GH-”

“Shhh!!” The door flew open and Winn was suddenly clasping a hand over her mouth, glancing back at the door he’d slammed shut just as fast as he’d opened it. “Are you insane?!” he hissed in a hushed tone. “My dad’s a madman, Lena!! If you think Roulette is bad, that’s only because you haven’t met-”

“I don’t care!” She pushed his hand away, matching his hushed tone as she took in his shoddy appearance and the bags under his eyes. And the rage only grew. “I’m so sick and tired of ghosts controlling my life! I don’t care if he’s dangerous or if I’m going to get blackmailed again, I don’t care! You’re always going on about what heroes are and what they do, but I have my own theory.” She kept staring until Winn would meet her eyes. “A hero is only as good as her sidekick. And…” she swallowed, her voice softening. “I can’t do this shit without you, Winn.”

Winn looked away and shoved his hands in his pockets. “You’d do just fine…”

“Really?!” she scoffed angrily. “Because I wasn’t the one who got Pam’s will to her sister! I didn’t save Nell Maverick’s life! Kara loves to credit me with saving the world twice, but you were right next to me both times! And even if you hadn’t been… even if you weren’t the biggest reason I had any sort of success in all of the crazy stuff we get up to… you’re my friend first.” She swallowed as she tried to force Winn to look her in the eye, an icy determination slipping into her voice; “And I’ll be damned if I let a deranged family member take anything else away from me.”

Winn finally met her eyes, misery written all over his face still, but then he puffed his cheeks and let out a big sigh as he hung his head and let his hand go through his hair. He hesitated, almost looked like he was about to say something, but then he just wordlessly reached behind him and opened his apartment door, shuffling to the side to let Lena in.

She didn’t hesitate stepping inside, but she’d be lying if she said she didn’t feel at least a little apprehensive. With Roulette she’d had the good luck of only having been blackmailed so far and with Morgan Edge they’d gotten away with tricking the man, but that didn’t make the prospect of another hostile ghost any less intimidating. She looked around, waiting for the man who she’d seen on TV two days ago to make his presence known, but nothing happened. Winn’s tense stare was fixed on her as she moved around, looked around the man’s kitchen, his bedroom, even the bathroom. She came to a halt back where she’d started right in the middle of the living room, shrugging as she glanced around one more time.

“Nothing…” she turned to Winn. “He’s not here.”

A whole range of emotions passed over Winn’s face before he forced out a huff. “Good. That’s, um- that’s good.”

“I’m sorry, Winn.” Lena took a step closer as Winn shook his head.

“No… no, don’t be.” He scoffed as his hands returned to his pockets. “I mean, he would’ve probably been bad news. Would’ve probably wanted you to build him some exploding toys or something.” He shook his head as he looked off to the side. “I just thought… I thought that maybe…”

“You hoped he wanted to say goodbye.” Lena stepped closer again, seeing the ghost of the same misplaced hope in his eyes as she’d had in regards to her mother.

“It’s stupid,” Winn mumbled unsteadily, looking at the floor. “I mean, he blew up his own casket for pete’s sake, there was no reason to- to-”

“It’s not stupid,” Lena took another step.

“It’s just that… all those people we helped wanted to say goodbye and- and even Maggie f- finally g- got an apology and I- I just- I thought…”

Lena closed the gap and pulled him in for a hug, holding on to him tightly as he broke down and cried in stifled sobs. She held on like she knew what he was feeling, because she did. She held on tight because she knew exactly what it was like to hold out hope for a parent, no matter how many times they proved they weren’t deserving of it. Because she knew what it was like to stand in the aftermath of a parent’s death, just like when she’d been standing next to her mother’s dead body in the middle of Camillus Lane, and be both devastated at the loss and relieved that they couldn’t hurt anyone again at the same time.

“Look, Winn,” Lena pushed him back, holding on to his shoulders as he wiped at his eyes. “I know that this sucks. I know what it’s like when you’re suddenly left without any parents, I know how lonely it can feel. But you don’t have to feel that way, okay? You told me yourself, not that long after my mother died, that the past didn’t matter anymore. That I had a new family now. I…” she swallowed, because she wasn’t the one who got to be emotional right now. “I don’t think I ever told you how much that meant to me. But you know that goes for you too, right?” She forced him to look at her. “You still have a family. We are your family; me, Kara, James, Maggie and Alex. You don’t need to worry about your father being a criminal or your mother being a heartless bitch who would abandon her child, because you have a new family now. A better one.”

Lena was staring intently at Winn, hoping he would understand the seriousness of her message, but she was caught off guard when he suddenly started laughing. Lena frowned in confusion as he got his snorts under control. “Um… I really appreciate all that, but… me and my mom actually made up.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah. It’s a long story.” Winn snorted again while Lena crossed her arms and turned slightly red. They stood there in silence for a second, Winn still looking amused and Lena feeling embarrassed at insulting the man’s mother.

“Soooo, correct me if I’m wrong here,” Winn started, his cheesy grin slowly making its return. “But I’m pretty sure I heard you say that a hero is only as good as her sidekick.” Lena rolled her eyes. “So does this mean you’re finally admitting you’re a hero?” he asked, his signature enthusiasm shining through, and Lena let out a sigh.

“Don’t make a big deal out of it.”

“Finally!!” Winn exclaimed, of course making a big deal out of it. “My mission can be completed at last!!”

Lena frowned. “What mission?”

“Assigning you your Superhero name, of course! You can’t admit you’re a hero and then refuse to have a Superhero name.”

Lena pursed her lips at the matter-of-fact tone of his statement. But quite frankly she’d had a long day, she didn’t feel like bringing Winn down from his silly excitement and to be perfectly honest she was running out of excuses to dodge the issue anyway.

“Fine. But!” she held up her hand before Winn could start a victory dance, “you better come up with something decent. No name shall become official unless it is approved by the hero in question.”

Winn wasn’t deterred in the slightest, nodding enthusiastically. “Deal. Oh! Or maybe we can just call you that!”

“Call me what?”

“The HERO!! The Helper of Ethereally Rogue Ones!!”

Lena rolled her eyes again. “I appreciate the Star Wars reference, but I think you can do better.”

Winn grinned at her and Lena smiled back, the relief of avoiding both a hostile ghost and the loss of her friend finally hitting her. And she realised that this was how it was going to be now. It wasn’t just Kara she would refuse to lose anymore. It was all of her friends too. Just like she’d done with Jess earlier, she wouldn’t let any one thing or any one secret stand in the way anymore. Roulette, Cigarette and any other force working against her be damned.

If Winn could face down Superman for her, she could face down her fears for him.

“So are you and Kara coming to karaoke night later?” Winn suddenly asked. “My mom’s coming too,” he added with a happy grin.

“Yeah,” Lena smiled, but hesitantly cleared her throat right after. “But we might come a bit later, um… there’s something we need to go do first…”

 



 

 

“Look, Maggs, I’m really sorry.” Alex wrung her hands together as she watched Maggie bent over her precious plant.

“Bonsai trees are one of the most delicate plants in the world, you know?” the detective grumbled as she kept fussing over the little thing and checking every last part of it.

“It was an accident!” Alex kept protesting. “I bumped into the dresser and it just fell off.”

“Hm,” Maggie grunted. “And here I thought baby-proofing our apartment could wait a little longer.”

Alex scoffed at that. “It can wait for a very long time, if we never actually sign up for-”

“Still not doing the sperm dump thing, Mrs. Danvers,” Maggie grumbled, back still turned.

“Not what it’s called, and we’re still not adopting,” Alex replied stubbornly.

“I think I preferred it when you were apologising.”

“No, I am sorry about the tree, but I just-” she was silenced by the sound of a timid knock on the front door of their apartment. “Don’t move, I’ll keep apologising in a second,” Alex said as she marched to the door. Maggie just hummed and didn’t even bother to look over. Alex sighed as she opened the door, but was surprised by the sight in front of her.

“Oh, hey,” Alex said surprised, as she glanced between Kara and Lena, who were standing there looking unusually serious. “Is everything okay?”

“Um… yeah,” Kara started hesitantly. “Can… can we talk?”

“Of course,” Alex ushered them inside, frowning at both of their serious expressions. “Don’t mind her,” Alex motioned to her wife who was still turned away from them, having eyes only for her tree. “She’s being unreasonably salty.”

“You tried to kill Olga.”

“It was an accident!” Alex protested, before huffing out a breath and crossing her arms as she turned to Lena and Kara who had taken a seat on the couch. “So you’re sure everything’s okay?” she asked warily. “Please don’t tell me someone died again.”

“No, no,” Kara laughed nervously, “nothing like that, it’s… it’s just…” she hesitated and she briefly glance to her side, where Lena raised her eyebrows as if to urge her to continue. “So… you know that- that Lena and I have been dating for a while now…”

“Of course I know, you won’t shut up about it.”

“Alex!” The Kryptonian gave her sister a scolding look, but the duo quickly reverted to their serious state. “Well… the thing is… you know, we’ve been going out to dinner and we went to the movies and stuff, but…” Kara swallowed harshly, as she avoided eye contact. “…but we kind of need your help, because… we want to… you know… do… other stuff…”

Alex frowned in confusion. “You’re already out of ideas for dates?”

“No, it’s… it’s, um… we don’t know… how… um…”

Kara kept searching for her words, but Lena wasn’t paying attention. Because behind Alex she’d noticed Maggie suddenly straightening up and turning around with that signature mischievous smirk in place, and Lena could already feel her embarrassment rising.

“Oh my god,” Maggie drawled as she stepped next to Alex and let her eyes dart between the two women with a gleam of enthusiastic sadism. Lena scrunched her eyes closed and had to suppress a groan. “You’re telling me,” the detective started incredulously, “that after a year and a half of pining, an eternity of being all lovey-dovey, and four weeks of officially dating, you two still haven’t had sex yet?!”

“Maggie!” Alex scolded her wife, slapping her on the arm with a laugh. “Come on, that’s not what this… this is… about…” her words slowly died out and her face fell, as she watched the Kryptonian and the Luthor just sit there with their heads bowed while doing their best impression of a pair of tomatoes. “Oh, no,” Alex aggressively shook her head. “Nope, no way, not happening.”

“Alex!” Kara looked incredulous as she watched her sister make a beeline for the door. “Where are you going?!”

“I’m a good person! I don’t deserve this!” Alex aggressively wrestled her way into her jacket. “Just- just- just talk to Maggie and- and- and then- then we’re never speaking of this again!” She turned to her wife. “Call me when it’s over.” The door slamming behind her left only the sound of Maggie’s amused snickers and Kara’s offended gasp at her sister abandoning her.

“I told you we should’ve just done our own research,” Lena mumbled.

“I’m not watching porn!!” Kara protested.

Maggie wheezed for air at that, cackling loudly while the two girlfriends shifted uncomfortably on the couch. “Oh, man…” Maggie tried to get her laughter under control as she wiped her eyes. “We just had to go and fall for a pair of prudes didn’t we, Luthor?” She kept snickering for a while, as Lena just shook her head.

“Can we just… get this over with?” Lena mumbled, her head just about ready to start giving off steam.

“Alright,” Maggie clapped her hands as she contained her snickering. She theatrically put a chair in front of the duo and smugly took a seat, looking like she was enjoying this situation way too much. “Welcome to Maggie Danvers’ Very Awesome Lesbian Sex-ed Class.”

Lena and Kara shared a look, both of them wishing this torture to be over already.

“So! Lesson number one…”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

February 22 nd 2018

 

Lena was a morning person.

She hadn’t always been, it was more something she became out of necessity. Something that naturally grew when you had an overloaded college schedule and ended up working an insanely demanding job after that. She would usually crash from working late the night before and once the beeping of her alarm startled her out of her sleep the next morning, all the thoughts running through her head the night before would come rushing back in, and she’d be ready to go. This morning was different. And not only because she was awake well before her alarm was set to go off. Mostly it was different because she wasn’t in her own apartment. It was different because she was propped up against the pillows behind her, clutching the sheets to her chest while she stared at the other side of the bed.

Staring at a very naked Kara who was happily snoring away.

The part where her thoughts of the night before were running through her head was the same, sure.

But boy, if those thoughts weren’t completely different than usual.

Thoughts of watching Kara and the rest of the gang sing at karaoke night, thoughts of walking Kara home afterwards, thoughts of how all pretence of ignoring their embarrassing conversation with Maggie was completely forgotten once the door closed. Thoughts of intense kisses and clothes clumsily being pulled off. Thoughts of everything that happened after that…

If Lena was being honest, the word itself had still been scary to her before. Maybe it still kind of was. But as of right now, with the memories of last night forever etched into that one corner of her brain labelled ‘life-altering moments’, the word itself felt a little more apt. Still scary, sure, but bisexual felt a little less foreign and a little less alien. (Ha! Alien! Unintentional irony for the win!) Because after last night, a lot of lingering doubts and reservations she might have still had were put to bed. (More irony!)

Lena pulled the sheet further up and over her mouth, almost as if she needed to hide her giddy smile from someone. Maybe it was just instinctual – Luthors weren’t supposed to be giddy after all – but Lena couldn’t help the expression on her face if she tried, as she traced every part of the sleeping woman beside her. The blonde hair sprawled out messily over the pillow like a halo, the side of Kara’s face pressed into it, her shoulders moving up and down with every breath, the tiny bit of drool slipping out of the corner of her mouth, the sheet all tangled and haphazardly strewn over her lower back.

Lena tugged at her side of the sheet, exposing more of Kara’s back in the process and Lena giggled to herself.

Okay, so maybe this was a good time to stop being silly.

Lena tried to look forward, tried to think of her duties for the rest of the day, but it was like trying to convince a toddler with a severe attack of the giggles to be serious. Except she was trying to convince herself, completely failing as she just kept glancing back at Kara and she just couldn’t, she couldn’t possibly contain the giddiness. Because come on, Kara Danvers was her girlfriend, Kara Danvers was laying right there completely naked and don’t even bring up last night because otherwise – yep, now she was giggling again.

It was completely undignified, Lena stubbornly thought, utterly failing in her attempt at being stern with herself. She reluctantly slipped out from under the covers, trying to convince herself that it would help her to stop being silly, but in reality she just had too much nervous energy going through her to keep sitting still. She peered around the bedside area, locating her bra and her underwear as she tiptoed over and quietly slid them on, failing in her attempts at not looking at a sleeping Kara from this new angle.

Lena was starting to get worried about the state she was in, because surely people weren’t… you know… built to be this happy? I mean, that’s what this was, right? This feeling like she was floating on clouds while tiptoeing around the edge of the bed and fidgeting with her fingers, all while continuously throwing glances over at a still snoring Kara and feeling like any second her heart was going to burst out of her chest and start doing the macarena.

Lena covered her face with her hands, shaking her head at herself without ever losing her ridiculous grin. I mean, come on, Kara was going to wake up soon. She didn’t need to get caught staring at her, so she should really get a grip. Lena kept pacing, trying to shake off her ecstatic energy but unable to keep from glancing back at her sleeping girlfriend. She needed to find some composure, maybe muster up some dignity, but honestly who needs dignity?!

This is so much better!

Lena almost jumped two feet in the air when the telltale buzzing of her phone sounded from somewhere nearby, pulling her out of her staring contest with Kara’s bare back. At first she looked for her purse, but then realised she’d dropped it by the front door last night. Upon following the sound, she realised her phone had ended up halfway under the bed somehow, so she hurriedly snatched it off the floor and tapped the button to take the call. When she straightened up, she saw that Kara was still snoring and appeared completely unperturbed by anything going on around her. Lena’s giddiness forced a smile back onto her face.

Hello?” Lena whispered, reluctantly moving a little further away from the bed. “Hector, what- slow down, what do you-” Lena frowned, her assistant’s rapid-fire slew of words taking her out of her bliss. She pinched her nose and let out a breath. “Alright. Yes, I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

She hung up with a sigh, glancing back over her shoulder at the sleeping angel on the bed, before shaking her head and attempting to shift into work mode. She collected her clothes off the floor and got dressed as quietly as possible, then searched for Kara’s notepad in the drawers of her nightstand. She paused after scribbling an apology and an explanation that she was needed at L-Corp, biting her lip as she watched Kara shift and make a little sleepy noise. And once more, her giddiness refused to be contained, as she smiled brightly to herself as she left the apartment.

But not before drawing a little heart under her scribbled message.

Love could be silly like that.

 


 

 

I told Hector it was fine!” Jess bristled as she accompanied her boss back to the top floor office.

And I told you to let me know when things get too much. Guess you’re both not very good at taking directions.”

Jess gave her a displeased frown, but Lena just thought it looked hilarious. Then again, anything seemed like a good reason to smile this morning. Lena was just giving the closed doors of the elevator a dopey look (as one does) but Jess suddenly sounded hesitant beside her.

Are you okay, Ms. Luthor?”

Lena turned her head, giving the woman a confused smile. “What do you mean?”

It’s just…” Jess frowned, giving her a suspicious look. “You’re never this chipper in the morning.”

Are you saying I’m always grumpy?”

No! I- I didn’t- mean that-” Jess shut her mouth as Lena let out a bright laugh, shaking her head at her CFO falling for that. “You’re making fun of me.”

You catch on quick,” Lena grinned widely as she stepped out of the elevator with Jess in tow and strode to her office. She smiled that very bright smile that refused to leave her face at Hector, who gave her a hesitant look before grimacing at the scowl he received from Jess. When they were right in front of the office and out of earshot from the assistant, Jess stopped Lena from stepping inside.

Okay seriously, what’s going on? Are you high?”

Lena snorted, the impertinence that would usually annoy her now only giving her the giggles. “Can’t I just be in a good mood? Yesterday was just a very good day.” She kept smiling that overly bright smile, while Jess seemed unimpressed.

You got arrested,” Jess remarked dryly.

Yeah, but karaoke night was fun.”

Right,” Jess drawled as she squinted her eyes, then shrugged. “Well, I guess it’s good you can be this happy even without Ms. Danvers around.”

Lena did absolutely not want to squirm and giggle and blush at the mere mention of her girlfriend, but alas, that’s exactly what happened. Jess frowned at her again, then went wide-eyed as she looked her over.

Oh my god,” Jess drawled, her jaw dropping in an uncharacteristic foregoing of her professionalism. “You’re wearing last night’s clothes…” Her eyes met Lena’s again, Jess’s entire face lighting up as if she’d won the lottery, and Lena finally managed to get some of her corporate demeanour back.

Jess,” she pointed a warning finger at her CFO, Jess clasping her hands over her mouth as if she had to physically stop herself from blurting something out. “There will be no further comments on this matter.”

Jess nodded to signify her understanding, her lips visibly pressed together as she motioned zipping her lips before holding her hands up defensively. Still looking as if she was putting an indescribable amount of effort into containing her excitement.

Shouldn’t you be headed to Kamp Pharmaceutics?” Lena pointedly asked.

Mhm,” Jess hummed, nodding vigorously with her lips still pressed together tightly and her eyes shining with barely contained enthusiasm. She turned around and walked towards the elevator, audibly squealing once she went past Hector’s desk. The man frowned at her retreating form before looking back at Lena, who had to quickly wipe the silly grin from her face again. He looked thoroughly confused.

Lena turned around and stepped into her office, shutting the rest of the world out as she bit her lip and leaned back against the closed doors while staring at the floor, that stupid grin making its way back onto her lips again. It just couldn’t be helped, she supposed. Today she was going to be happy.

Happy to see me, Luthor?”

Or maybe not.

Lena lifted her head, the smile washing from her face as she was faced with none other than Roulette, who was giving her a condescending look as she stepped closer from her spot in front of the couch. If there was ever an effective way to evaporate her giddiness, this was certainly it.

Roulette. I was under the impression you didn’t appreciate my company,” Lena hissed, her voice laced with ice and her eyes burning with contempt as she reluctantly stepped forward and into her own office.

When it’s unprompted, yes,” Roulette showed a crooked smile, while Lena’s anger and fear had now firmly brought her down from her previous state of bliss. “But I believe I also told you that you could be useful to me at some point.”

Lena’s insides turned to ice as she struggled to keep her cool mask in place, wondering if this was going to be it. If the ghostly woman was finally going to ask her to commit god knows what kind of atrocity and if Lena would have to finally use her watch to make sure Supergirl would ‘conveniently’ save the day.

I don’t need you quite yet, though.”

The relief hit Lena like a truck.

I’m here because I needed to drop something off. I finally managed to get that thing to follow me,” Roulette drawled, her tone clipped as she glanced over her shoulder. Lena frowned in confusion, because there didn’t seem to be anyone there, but she didn’t have time to think about it; Roulette turning back to face her almost immediately. “I’d tell you to enjoy your day, but quite frankly I don’t think you will.” Lena had a snide remark sitting on the tip of her tongue, but Roulette was suddenly stepping past her and headed straight for the double doors of the office.

Wait!”

Roulette stopped and turned back, an uninterested expression on her face and Lena didn’t even know what she wanted to say. All she knew was that she needed something, she needed something about this whole mess to make sense, at least one single thing that she could have some control over.

What are you gaining from this?” Lena questioned, crossing her arms and doing her best to be intimidating despite the fact she wasn’t the one with power over the other in this situation. “You can’t make money, you can’t gain any real power. What is the point of-”

You really don’t pay attention, do you?” Roulette’s amused tone cut her off, and Lena’s fingers twitched in frustration. “I already told you that knowledge-”

That knowledge is power, yes, you’ve made your slogan very clear,” Lena bit back, trying not to think about how right they both were. How mystery and elusiveness was exactly what was keeping both Roulette and Cigarette a step ahead of her all the time. But at least Cigarette had a reason, had laid it out in no uncertain terms what Cadmus was doing and why they were doing it. Roulette, on the other hand, was hardly the scientific type. “Is torturing people really worth all this trouble? Is this what it’s all about for you? Pure sadism?”

Roulette didn’t even dignify her with a response, instead chuckling to herself as she shook her head with that same amused expression in place, as if Lena being confused was the most entertaining thing in the world. Lena gritted her teeth in frustration, but the thought that had seemed unlikely before was starting to gain traction in her mind. The thought that had become an afterthought after learning someone at Lord Technologies had helped Cadmus, and might even be Cigarette. But the thought of an alternative, of Cigarette maybe being this Mallory S. Moon person instead, was suddenly gaining traction. Because what if Roulette wasn’t doing this exclusively out of sadism? What if the mysterious woman who had helped Roulette set up her second fight club was in charge of Cadmus now, and what if Roulette was doing all this out of some sense of loyalty? The thought of someone like Roulette having a sense of loyalty in the first place seemed laughable, but what if? What if?

Look… are you maybe…” Lena hesitantly stepped forward, “are you doing all this for someone else?”

The amusement washed from Roulette’s face in an instant.

Listen… Veronica, I-”

MY NAME,” she snarled, furious eyes suddenly right in front of Lena’s own, “IS ROULETTE!!”

Lena took a startled step back, taking in the manic anger that had taken over the woman’s features.

AND YOU ARE HERE FOR ONE REASON AND ONE REASON ONLY, AND THAT IS TO DO EXACTLY WHAT I TELL YOU!! YOU KEEP DIGGING INTO THINGS THAT AREN’T YOUR BUSINESS AND I’LL MAKE SURE EVERY GHOST IN NATIONAL CITY IS STANDING ON YOUR DOORSTEP BY NOON!! ARE WE CLEAR?!!”

Lena frowned, the unprecedented rage and fury throwing her for a loop as she looked over the nearly crazed expression of the ghostly woman whose chest was heaving with anger. “You-”

ARE WE CLEAR?!!”

Yes,” Lena forced out, her frown still in place. She didn’t get a chance to say or think anything else, because the next thing she knew, Roulette snapped around marched straight through the double doors of the office.

Lena stood there for a few seconds, cataloguing what had just happened. Unless she was missing something, unless she’d somehow grown a knack for stupidity overnight, she had to overthrow her leading theory on Cigarette’s identity. Because Roulette’s outburst, unsettling as it was, had just made it an almost dead certain guarantee that Cigarette was Mallory S. Moon. Lena was still processing that, was still in the middle of realising that – if she wanted to maintain her sanity – arresting the leader of Cadmus would have to be carefully paired with blackmailing Roulette into backing off, when she heard a strange noise behind her.

Lena turned around, that same weird squeaky sound repeating itself, and she couldn’t pinpoint the source right away. But then her eyes fell onto the couch, the same couch that Roulette had been standing in front of just now, and her eyes widened. She stepped closer, looking at the small creature squirming and making noises on her couch.

Its skin was a dull purple, the colour fading into a pale orange on its stomach as if she was looking at a reptile. But the skin wasn’t made of scales, looking much more like human skin, if maybe a bit rubber-like. The rest of its body looked very much human as well, with two arms, two legs and a face to match. Lena bent down, stretching out her hand just to be sure, while the small creature was squirming and its noises were getting louder. Lena’s suspicions were confirmed as her hand went straight through the little arm of the creature, making no contact. She straightened back up while the small being started emitting louder and more distressed sounds.

There was a baby in her office.

There was an honest-to-god alien ghost-baby laying on her couch.

The baby opened its eyes and spotted Lena staring at him. Little eyes looked around, as if expecting someone else to be right there, but found no one. Then the baby started crying.

 


 

 

Just four hours.

That was probably the worst part of all this; it had only been four hours.

The loud cries of the alien baby had been piercing into her ears for no more than four hours, but to Lena it already felt like days; almost as if the high-pitched wailing of the small creature had made a permanent home for itself inside her head. She’d tried to console the baby at first. Had made cooing noises, tried saying that everything was okay (even though the concept of talking to babies was something she’d always found rather ridiculous), had tried to distract him by dangling a key chain; she’d done basically everything she could do with an infant that she wasn’t able to touch. So that now left her here; four hours later, without any rest from the ever-present crying of the alien baby and with a headache that felt like it was going to split her head open.

She’d tried getting some work done – she could get back to the seemingly unsolvable problem of saving a ghost that couldn’t tell her what he wanted later – but as it turns out, having an incessantly crying baby right across the room was counterproductive to one’s ability to concentrate. She’d considered leaving, to maybe go back to the small office on the second floor she’d used last year, but in a way that she couldn’t quite explain, it felt wrong to leave the alien baby all alone in here. Yes, her presence didn’t seem to calm him down in the slightest and yes, her head was starting to feel like someone had used it as a basketball, but it still felt wrong.

Hey.”

Lena looked up from her desk only to see Kara shyly poke her head through the door, as if she didn’t regularly walk right in on a regular basis.

Hector called. Said you looked like you were having a rough morning,” Kara explained as she stepped through, and Lena huffed out a breath because she suddenly understood Jess’s annoyance at getting tattled on. “I figured you could use an early lunch.”

Kara held up a bag of Chinese takeout and sent her that sunlight-worthy smile of hers and Lena thought the sight of her was something magical. Like someone had opened up a small box at the back of her mind and last night’s memories were all but ready to come tumbling out, except then a particularly sharp cry from the alien baby made Lena wince and the lid snapped shut. She tried to smile anyway.

You’re a sight for sore eyes,” she sighed, getting up from her desk and trying not to wince too visibly at every sound the small creature on the couch was making. She wrapped Kara up in a hug and the usual feelings were still there; the glowing warmth in her chest, the nervous skip of her heart, the sense of safety in Kara’s arms. But it was different, too, because she now knew what the woman in her arms looked like naked and that was one image that wasn’t going to be contained by any sort of mental box. But that aside, she also felt disappointed that the first time seeing each other after last night had to be tainted by both her throbbing headache and the depressing soundtrack of an alien baby’s cries.

That bad, huh?” Kara tried to joke, but as she stepped back it was clear Lena was failing at sending her a reassuring look, the woman’s smile quickly turning to a frown. Kara slowly opened her mouth and paused before speaking, sounding very hesitant when she did. “You’re… not feeling okay about stuff?”

No,” Lena admitted with a sigh, glancing to the side to look at the oddly coloured baby that was still crying incessantly, keeping its four-hour streak alive “Not at all, I’m… pretty far from okay, really.” Lena huffed out a breath, shaking her head as she turned back to look at Kara, but she found the woman looking at the floor and seeming embarrassed for some reason.

Oh. I see.” Kara nervously adjusted her glasses. “Well, I mean, it- it doesn’t have to be a big deal, right? We’re both new at this particular type of… stuff… after all, so I’m sure we’ll get better at it. I mean, what- what I mean is that, um, I’ll get better at it, because I- you know, I don’t really have complaints about last night, like, um, actually zero complaints, you- you’re really-” Kara blinked owlishly when she was cut off by Lena’s surprised laugh but the youngest Luthor stopped herself almost immediately, the sound only adding to the sensation of her brain being used like a baby rattle.

No, Kara… oh, god.” She snorted loudly at Kara’s confused expression. “It’s not that. Trust me, I… I too, have zero complaints.”

Oh.”

Kara huffed out a nervous chuckle, seeming infinitely relieved as she tucked her hair behind her ear, and just when Lena thought there might be a limit to how much affection someone could feel towards a single person, Kara had to go and blush ever so slightly and Lena felt that proud sensation take- no. It was gone. There was a sharp cry on her right and all happy thoughts were replaced by that all-consuming sting in her brain again.

So what’s wrong?” Kara asked, setting down her bag of takeout on the table and searching Lena’s eyes as the young CEO couldn’t help rubbing her temples. Not that it had helped her much in the past four hours.

It’s a ghost,” Lena sighed, looking past Kara towards the purple- and orange-tinted baby. “And he hasn’t been quiet since I got here.”

Alright, buddy!!” The sharp sound of Kara raising her voice as she spun around sent another sting through Lena’s brain. “I don’t know what your problem is, but Lena is a hero and she deserves some respect!!”

Kara-”

I don’t care how important you think your problems are!!” Kara kept waving her finger at thin air. “You don’t have the right to-”

Kara, can you shut up?!!”

The blonde spun around, indignation still nestled in her blue eyes. “But, Lena-”

It’s a baby,” Lena explained, rubbing the side of her head in her continued attempts to vanquish her headache as she watched Kara’s eyes go wide. “It’s an alien baby and he won’t stop crying.”

Oh.”

Yeah.”

There was a stunned silence that followed (on Kara’s part, the baby was still crying away), Lena feeling grateful that Kara had stopped yelling since the single stream of noise was already grating her nerves enough.

Wait, but… couldn’t you just leave?” Kara asked in confusion.

I just…” Lena helplessly shrugged, gesturing to where the alien baby was still crying desperately on the couch. “I couldn’t just leave him alone…” Lena felt stupid at the admission, but Kara gave her such a soft look and it reminded her so much of- no. Another sharp cry, another sting in her brain, and the image was gone. Lena sighed as she pinched her nose, barely able to appreciate the reassuring hand Kara laid on her arm.

How about we call Alex?” Kara offered, and Lena blinked in confusion. “You know, she can go through the DEO’s database and then at least we’ll know what species he is, and we’ll go from there.”

Oh. Yes, you’re right.” Lena swallowed, feeling stupid that that hadn’t even occurred to her. Maybe the non-stop noises were messing with her head more than she realised.

So what does he look like?” Kara asked, already fishing for her phone.

Mostly human form. Purple skin, but it morphs into orange the closer you get to his belly button. The skin also looks a little like-”

Rubber?”

Lena paused, looking in confusion at Kara who stood frozen in place. “How did you know?”

Does he have little patches of skin between his fingers?”

Um,” Lena frowned, stepping towards the couch and reluctantly leaning closer to the piercing cries emitted by the distressed creature, her eyebrows rising in surprise at what she saw. “Yes.”

Oh, Rao.” A heavy breath escaped Kara and when Lena turned around, she found her with an almost revering expression and with a hand covering her mouth. “I had no idea there were any of them on earth.”

You… know what he is?” Lena asked, wincing at the persisting cries before stepping further away from the couch again.

He’s from Topurah,” Kara breathed, still with that revering look directed at the space on the couch that, at least to her, was empty. “It was only one solar system removed from Krypton. Me and my parents went on a diplomatic visit when I was ten.” Kara shook her head as a frown formed. “But on Topurah children were treated as something almost sacred, I mean, they make the overprotective mothers of earth look like irresponsible teenagers. If- if there’s a child of Topurah here, then there has to be a mother nearby. Are you sure he’s here alone?”

Yes, Kara,” Lena huffed, returning to rubbing her temples, because it was surprisingly hard to maintain a conversation with the constant high-pitched noise in the background. “If there was another ghost in my office, I would have noticed it.”

Well, maybe… maybe she’s still alive.”

If they’re as overprotective as you say, then I doubt she would have left him by himself in Roulette’s fight club. Besides, Mesut mentioned letting a mother and her child in before the explosion.” Lena gritted her teeth, the sting in her head getting worse.

But then she should be-”

Kara,” Lena interrupted curtly, her head feeling like it was about to explode. “It’s probably the Corben effect. If she was in a coma and turned into a ghost at any point before dying, then she wouldn’t have been able to become a ghost again when she died. Now,” she closed her eyes tightly, trying to keep it together, “can the DEO help us find someone else from Topurah? If he sees someone of his own kind maybe it will calm him down, because I can’t take this much longer.”

Well… I don’t think so,” Kara gave her a pained expression. “If the DEO had a record of someone from Topurah living on earth, I would definitely know about it. But maybe…” Kara trailed off, looking pensively to the side, but Lena’s patience was now about as thin as the membranes that were preventing her brain from vibrating against her skull.

What, Kara?! Maybe what?!”

Well,” she adjusted her glasses as she gave Lena an uncertain look. “When I was there, on Topurah I mean, they, um, they talked to us a lot about the planet’s history and especially about the deity they worshipped, which was apparently very important to them. They had passed on this one song that represented their God through thousands of years from one generation to the next so that it would never be forgotten. It was so important, that-”

Kara,” Lena cut her off. “This is all very fascinating, but what does it have to do with anything?!”

It was a lullaby.”

Lena was smart. She would gladly remind anyone who’d forgotten about them of her academic records at MIT and she felt that, quite frankly, her company’s accomplishments spoke for themselves. But her head was killing her right now, so she felt like she could be excused for verbally under-representing her intelligence in this moment. “Huh?”

Their deity’s song. It was a lullaby, kept alive by singing it to every new child of Topurah.”

And you- but- you were ten,” Lena stammered, trying to get her faculties to work past the mind-numbing noise. “You actually… remember it?”

I…” Kara frowned, uncertainty taking over her features as she scratched her neck. “I mean, the words were really strange, I don’t think-”

Forget the words. In infants, the auditory and olfactory senses have the most enduring retention.”

Huh?”

Sounds and smells are the easiest to remember!” Lena sighed, looking desperately between Kara and the baby she definitely pitied, but who was also the bane of her existence at the moment. “So do you remember it?”

I… I think so.” Kara nodded, a steely determination in her eyes usually reserved for when she was wearing a cape, before she moved towards the couch. Then she paused and uncertainly motioned to the space beside the baby, suddenly looking more Danvers than Super again. “Is he… on this side? Can I…?”

You’re good,” Lena couldn’t help but smile, even as she stayed at a comfortable distance from the source of the continuous high-pitched screams and cries, watching as Kara carefully took a seat right next to the wailing baby.

Kara just sat there for a moment, unperturbed by the loud ghostly cries beside her as she closed her eyes and frowned. The crinkle on her forehead appeared, as Kara seemed to search her thoughts, seemed to scour the deepest trenches of her memory for the tune she once heard as a kid on a faraway planet. The silence extended, her hands folding in her lap where she briefly fiddled with her fingers, but then they stilled. Her eyes remained closed, but her expression smoothed out ever so slightly as she took a deep breath. And then she started singing a strange melody.

She sang softly at first, almost unsure if she was getting it right, but even before she started sounding a little more confident, the crying stopped. Kara was singing a strange, haunting, yet beautiful melody, but the incessant sound that had invaded Lena’s office and had reverberated through her mind for the past four hours came to an almost immediate stop, as the oddly coloured baby on the couch opened its little eyes as wide as it could. Tiny fists clenched and unclenched, the small being visibly entranced by the sound coming from right beside him, shifting his little head to look at Kara who was singing that alien melody. Lena sighed a breath of relief, the buzzing in her ears finally subsiding, but she jolted in surprise when the alien baby started hovering in the air. No, she was not hallucinating; the little purple creature was actually floating, turning over on its belly as it came level with Kara’s closed eyes.

Lena watched as the baby squealed, the sound no longer desperate and sad, but a happy exclamation as the little being floated in front of Kara and lowered himself down, whether subconsciously or not, drifting into Kara’s lap.

And then soft beams of light started seeping through his skin.

Lena’s eyes widened ever so slightly as she watched the baby emit another happy sound, the light moving swiftly over his little body, taking almost no time in enveloping his tiny frame. As Kara continued singing that alien melody, the light in her lap started expanding, pulling away and detaching itself into small orbs. As the little alien form started to dissipate, Lena couldn’t help but notice that even the orbs seemed smaller than usual as they hovered apart from each other and, after a few seconds, started fading. The small spheres of light kept fading, the dimming gleam revealing Kara’s concentrated face behind it, which is all Lena could look at, for once foregoing letting her eyes go over every single fading orb.

The alien melody stopped, a mere instant before the last bit of glow disappeared, and then Kara tentatively blinked while opening her eyes, the room now void of any ghostly alien babies.

 

Krunah Nil-Ak had just passed on.

 

Did it work?”

Lena huffed out a breath, intending it to be a laugh but it coming out much more honest and much closer to a sound that accurately represented her exhaustion. “It did more than work. He passed on.” Lena swallowed, the complete and utter silence feeling like a precious gift as she strode over and slumped next to Kara on the couch, in the exact same spot where the child of Topurah had laid before. “Thank you,” Lena murmured, pinching her nose and letting out another deep sigh of relief.

Are you okay?” Kara’s voice was soft and Lena could feel her shifting closer on the couch.

I’m just so sick of this,” Lena confessed, rubbing her forehead in a futile attempt to soothe her lingering headache. “I’m so tired of waiting to find out how my senses are going to be attacked next. What else isn’t going to make sense this particular day, or what Roulette is going to have in store for me next. I’m just so sick of all of it.” Lena rested her head in both her hands, elbows on her knees as she leaned forward and allowed herself to succumb to this rare moment of self-pity.

Lena, I get it.” Kara scooted closer to her, their sides touching as the alien woman put a hand on her back. “I’ve had to face a lot of situations that seemed desperate. Myriad, the Daxamite invasion, now Reign,” Kara shrugged, her hand rubbing circles on Lena’s back and an encouraging smile on her face that Lena was trying not to look at. “But we always manage, because we’re a team! And I know you will find a way to deal with Roulette, just like me and the Superfriends did with all those other disasters. Because we’ve got your back.” Kara was still giving her that encouraging smile, but Lena was avoiding it, keeping her head in her hands as she rubbed her temples and gritted her teeth to try and temper her irritation.

Kara, I appreciate the thought, but it’s really not the same.”

Lena, I understand-”

No Kara, you don’t,” Lena cut her off, finally looking up at Kara who seemed surprised by the outburst, but Lena couldn’t contain the burning feeling of how unfair it all was. Of how ridiculous the thought was of someone fully and comprehensively getting it. “You said it yourself; you have tons of people assisting you on your missions, but I have to figure this crap out by myself.”

Lena, you’re not alone-”

Yes, I am. When it comes to seeing ghosts, you’re not the one being threatened. Winn, Jess and Maggie, they’re not the ones who are putting their sanity in the hands of complete strangers. When you go out and you catch your criminals and fight your rogue aliens, you’re protecting everyone and you can just… punch your way through. I have to help people and be prepared to protect myself from them at the same time, because if someone with half a brain and a less than ideal moral compass comes along they can control me completely. Roulette is hardly a genius but she has me in the palm of her hand anyway, do you have any idea how infuriating that is? I can’t use my fists in these fights, my mind is all I have. And its being used against me every time.”

Lena sighed, bitterly shaking her head.

Your power gives you wings. Mine drags me through hell whenever it feels like it.”

There was an awkward silence after that, Lena just sitting there rubbing her temples while neither of them said a word. But then Kara – because she was Kara – shifted nervously on the couch and put her hand Lena’s knee.

But… we’re here for you anyway,” Kara muttered softly. “I know we can’t, you know, save you from everything. But look on the bright side,” Kara’s voice perked up and Lena could almost hear that smile of hers that was announcing a positive spin on this whole thing and she didn’t want to hear it. “I was able to help you this time. Through the power of song I might add, another sign that musicals are definitely awesome.” Kara chuckled. “And, you know, that baby is in a better place now and-”

Kara, I’m not in the mood for this!” Lena snapped, jolting up from the couch and removing herself from Kara’s touch and it’s not that she was trying to be harsh, but her lingering headache and general sense of being powerless were putting her off from all this forced positivity. “I don’t want to hear about your stupid musicals right now and there’s no such thing as heaven!”

The silence was heavy then. Lena stood there with her back turned towards her girlfriend as she clutched her right elbow with her left hand while rubbing her temple with her right, a measured breath escaping through her nose. She heard another shift on the couch behind her.

You don’t have to take it out on me,” she heard Kara mutter, not a trace of anger to be found in her voice, ever understanding as she was. But there might have been some hurt in there. Lena felt like kicking herself.

No, I’m- I’m not, I just…” Lena let out a sigh, her right hand rubbing her neck. “I’m sorry. It’s just that my head hurts like hell right now and this whole situation, it just,” Lena threw her hands up in an exasperated motion. “It just sucks. Immensely.” Lena let out another sigh, her hand returning to massaging her temple, and there was another short silence followed by the sound of Kara getting up from the couch.

Lena… just tell me what I can do?”

Can you… ask Winn to search the hospital’s records for a patient that fits the description of someone from Topurah? To confirm the mother was in a coma?”

It was a weak excuse. Even Kara could see that.

But, Lena…”

Kara,” a sigh so deep it could have come from her heels escaped her. “Please.”

Lena didn’t look back at her girlfriend while she just stood there gnawing on her lip. The silence let her know that Kara was hesitating, but eventually she heard the tell-tale signs of footsteps moving towards the exit. Lena kept her eyes averted, unable to look the other woman in the eye because on one hand, she wanted to knock the misplaced positivity out of her, while on the other she was too ashamed to look at her for even having that thought in the first place. So instead Lena just looked down, keeping her eyes on the brown bag of Chinese takeout that Kara had left behind, instead of watching her girlfriend walk out of the office.

If she had looked back, she would’ve noticed Kara fiddling with the pendant on her silver necklace as she stepped through the double doors.

 


 

 Just half an hour.

That was probably the worst part of all this; it had only been half an hour since Kara had left her office. And Lena already felt guilty.

Lena was hunched behind her desk, the thought of how her mother would chastise her for not sitting ramrod straight only vaguely going through the back of her mind, her chin resting on her hand as she was in the middle of losing a staring contest with her phone. The thing was just sitting innocuously on her desk, the black screen unblinking as it taunted her, and Lena huffed a breath through her nose while she averted her eyes and admitted defeat. The silence that hung around her office after the four hours of hell were a blessing, but it also meant that there was nothing distracting her from the annoying voice in her head telling her that she should at least shoot Kara a text. (Mind your own business, Talbot!)

Lena glanced back down at her desk, the smug black screen still staring at her.

She begrudgingly picked it up, worrying at her lip as she wondered what to say. Why couldn’t she just be diplomatic in these cases, she thought bitterly. Why did there have to be that sharp sense of resistance and irritation at the thought of apologising? I mean, she knew why; she hadn’t been in the mood for positivity when there was nothing to be positive about and she didn’t find that unreasonable, but she also hadn’t been very nice about it. She wondered if she’d inherited her temper from her Luthor side. But it was fine, she could just apologise for being harsh; that she was sorry for. Lena paused with her finger over the black screen, because maybe chiding Kara for being positive wasn’t entirely fair either.

Hypocritical, if nothing else.

Because where would she be without Kara’s positivity? Where would she be without Kara’s blind faith in the fact that she was nothing but good, or her insistence on acting like the human embodiment of sunshine? After all, her unwavering belief in everything being good and kind was one of the reasons why she lo- ( no, don’t even think the word, or it’ll slip out in front of her) ahem, really liked her. It was what made Kara, well, Kara, and goddamn it, I’m such and idiot sometimes!

The loud huff of resigned determination she let out was cut off by the phone that she’d just picked up buzzing loudly with an incoming call, causing Lena to flinch and almost drop it to the floor. It was as if it had waited for her to make a decision, Lena couldn’t help but think, as she managed to grab a hold of it. The twinge of disappointment was only a small one when she saw that it was Maggie calling her, thus confirming that her phone was in fact not sentient, before she put the inanimate object to her ear.

Hey, Ma-”

Luthor, we’ve got a problem!”

Lena frowned at Maggie’s tense voice, which was being accompanied by the sound of screeching tires.

Winn checked the hospital records and found an alien mother that matched Kara’s description; she was in a coma for five days and right after she woke up, both her and her baby disappeared. But because he’s a giant overachiever, he wanted to check the security footage and when he did, he found an encrypted file, and because he’s a giant nerd who can’t help himself, he broke into it.”

Lena winced and distanced the phone from her ear when a car horn attacked her senses, along with Maggie’s indistinct shouting, causing Lena to tentatively ask; “What are you doing?”

Avoiding people who found their driver’s license under a Christmas tree! But that’s not important, the point is that Winn found Cigarette in the encrypted footage! When your mother was attacking the city, Cigarette was in the hospital stealing patient records!”

Lena blinked at the unexpected information, then shook her head in confusion. “But… why?”

Aliens, Luthor! The hospital was full of aliens, remember?! I checked the records myself and they all match! Every last dead alien we identified at the Endless Winter Clinic was in the hospital the day of your mother’s attack! But you have to get out of there, Luthor, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, but-”

Wait, wait,” Lena pinched the bridge of her nose, because that didn’t make any sense. But more importantly; “What are you apologising for?” Lena questioned.

He saw me, Luthor! McConnell saw me comparing the hospital records and now every last police officer on the force is racing around town to bring those aliens into protective custody! I’m sorry, Lena, I’m so fucking sorry!”

Shit…” Lena trailed off, her eyes horrified as she darted them across the floor of her office, the fear getting hold of her as she realised that Roulette would be coming for her. If every single police officer was rounding up every single Cadmus target, then it was obvious who Roulette was going to blame, who she was going to punish for what was happening. She’d made that promise just a few hours ago, hadn’t she? Every ghost in the city standing on Lena’s doorstep if she kept digging into things that weren’t her business, that’s what she’d said. “But that means-”

I know!! I’m so sorry, Luthor, but do you have a place?! Can you go underground somewhere?!”

Lena swallowed down the fear that had been building inside her, that annoying Talbot-voice in the back of her mind telling her to count to ten, but she held on to Maggie’s logical solution instead. “Yes,” Lena nodded to herself, grabbing her purse from her desk as she calculated how long it would take to get to the Luthor Mansion, and its many cloaking devices. “I do, I think it’s best if I go to-”

Don’t tell me!! If someone knows where you are, Roulette can spy on them until they slip up!! In fact, after you hang up, you should lose your phone.”

Lena was already halfway to the double doors of her office when she came to an abrupt stop. “But… Kara…”

I’ll explain it to her, just make sure you get to safety!!”

Lena hesitated another second, the memories of this morning and the urge to apologise to Kara giving her pause, but on the other side of her brain the days spent with John Corben were an ominous reminder which, along with the unusually tense voice of Maggie, tipped the scales in favour of running. “Thanks, Maggie,” she muttered earnestly.

Be safe, Luthor.”

The call ended just like that and after snatching her coat, Lena was standing in front of Hector’s desk as she slid it on, demanding that Angela bring the car out front as fast as possible. As the assistant scrambled to phone her driver, Lena was marching to her elevator, wondering if it would be too conspicuous to dump her phone into the trash can in the lobby. The doors closed and the numbers started counting down to the ground floor, while Lena took another look at her phone, deciding it would be safer to just take the chip out. But just as she was about to open the back compartment her limbs froze in place, something that Maggie said suddenly ringing like an echo in the back of her head.

Every last police officer was rounding up the aliens that had been hospitalized on May 27 th of last year.

Every last police officer. That included the rookies.

Which meant no one was guarding Brian.

Because Brian had never been at the hospital.

Lena had seen for herself how Maggie had guided the blinded alien towards the NCPD that day.

The confusion made its now familiar but equally unpleasant presence felt, because if it was true, if Cigarette and Roulette were targeting only the aliens who’d been in the hospital that day, then why make an exception for Brian? But the confusion was pushed to the background by the fear in her chest which was suddenly building up again, as the numbers on the display rapidly approached the ground floor. It was very well possible that Maggie had had him picked up anyway, but she’d sounded pretty freaked out just now, and she might not have considered it. Lena tapped the screen and put her phone to her ear again, waiting for Maggie to pick up. The elevator reached its destination and Lena stepped out, her phone having the audacity to tell her that the selected number couldn’t be reached right now. She tried again, her phone firmly pressed to her ear as she marched past Titus at the front desk and through the revolving doors, trying to force Maggie to pick up through sheer willpower. Which worked about as well as it had for Qui-Gon on Tatooine.

She was nervously tapping her foot in front of her building while attempting the call for a third time, when Angela pulled up with the car and Lena was opening the door before it was standing completely still.

Get to the nearest helipad, as fast as you…” Lena’s urgent words petered off, as a thought struck her. Brian’s apartment was not that far away…

Lena glanced at her left wrist where her Supergirl-summoning signal was staring back at her, but her harsh words from earlier were eating at her, and Kara wasn’t supposed to know where she was going. And good luck trying to keep that information from Kara when those honest blue eyes were looking at her while she was also feeling apologetic towards her. Lena shook her head and made a choice.

Actually, can we make a stop at 14 Cajetan Avenue first? And please step on it.”

Angela seemed surprised at the urgency in her voice, but nodded anyway. “Uh, sure thing. You in a hurry today, Ms. Luthor?”

You have no idea,” Lena mumbled, putting her phone to her ear again and attempting to call Maggie for a fourth time. It would be better if the detective was able to pick Brian up somewhere on the way, but to be honest Lena was already resigned to live with the alternative. Namely, spending a potentially extended period of time hiding in the Luthor Mansion with some random alien who had no idea what was going on. Talk about awkward situations.

Lena slid to the edge of her seat as they moved past a traffic light, because they were now only three blocks removed from Brian’s place. Maybe this was going to be fine. Maybe, despite the guaranteed awkwardness, things would be fine and nothing bad-

What do you think you’re doing?”

Lena’s entire body jolted away from the voice by her left ear, her body ending up pressed on the right side of the leather seat, as she watched the burning eyes of Roulette. Who was suddenly seated right next to her and whose anger seemed to be making her shake in place.

Angela. Partition.” Somehow Lena’s voice remained steady as she gave her orders, her eyes never moving from the seething ghost next to her as her driver complied with her request, the tell-tale click of the partition making it to Lena’s ears.

Lena didn’t move as she kept staring at Roulette’s face, which was no longer a mask of disinterest and condescension as Lena was used to. Whereas earlier today she’d seen a crack, a small burst coming through the placated demeanour of the ghostly woman, now the woman’s outraged expression and heaving chest made it seem like she was ready to spit fire and raze villages to the ground. But Lena was well aware that the only thing she was going to eviscerate was her sanity. Her punishment for daring to save all the aliens that otherwise would’ve been killed and dissected by Cadmus. As the silence extended, the gears in Lena’s head were turning in search for backup plans.

Are you really this eager to lose your mind, Luthor?” Roulette hissed with an icy tone that contrasted with the fire in her eyes. Right at that second, the moving vehicle came to a full stop, and Angela tentatively knocked against the partition.

We’re here, Ms. Luthor,” the muffled voice came from the front.

The mental gears were still turning, Lena coming to the realisation that for one, she was going to need Kara. Whether Roulette had spilled her secret already or whether she was going to right now, she needed to get away from her. Any chance of retaining her sanity rested on the possibility of making sure that Roulette couldn’t follow her, so that no matter how many ghosts knew of her existence, they at least wouldn’t be able to find her. It was not a permanent solution, she’d be putting her whole life on hold, but the unmoving and outraged stare of the woman in front of her made it clear that it was high time for contingency plans. At least Kara could fly her away to somewhere. The Fortress of Solitude could work.

But first things first. Brian.

Roulette just took in a deep breath, looking like she was going to make another threat or another demand – it was like those were the only things to ever come out of her mouth – but Lena didn’t give her a chance, stepping out of the car and slamming the door shut behind her. She ran, or at least as close to running as her heels allowed her to, dashing up the metal stairs next to the building more resembling a motel than an apartment complex. She purposefully avoided looking behind her but did spare a glance for her left wrist, wondering how much practice Kara had with carrying two people, as she ran across the outdoor walkway on the second floor. The doors with faded paint kept flashing by, until she reached the one with the number 14 on it.

She knocked, the rapid sound of her knuckles against the wood not able to outmatch the pace of her heart, as she steadily avoided the movements she spotted out of the side of her eye which were telling her that Roulette was going to be in her ear within a few seconds. She held her watch up to her chest, ready to go once Brian opened the damn door, as she kept knocking impatiently.

I’m here, I’m here, what’s your pro-”

The alien man’s door opened, not even a bolt to be undone as Brian’s confused face appeared, and Lena had some serious reprimanding words sitting on her tongue about basic security measures, but she swallowed them in favour of more pressing matters.

Um,” Brian blinked at her. “Can I help you?”

Yes, Brian, you need to come with me. I know this sounds strange, but there’s someone after a lot of aliens and you are one of their targets. I don’t have time to explain the details, but I need to get you to the police station right now.” Lena was struggling to stand still with the amount of nervous, anxious, terrified and many other sorts of energies that were going through her, but Brian just looked wary and even more confused.

I don’t understand,” Brian frowned and Lena was just itching to yank him out the door already. “What…” Brian suddenly fell quiet and his eyes shifted, looking over Lena’s right shoulder and then her left. “Who are you guys?”

Lena barely had time to register the curious phrasing, when something solid hit the back of her head with brute force. She was vaguely aware of her knees giving out and the whole world tilting on its axis, still aware of the sharp sting on her right cheek when it collided with the floor.

 

Then everything went black.

 

Chapter Text

 

August 7 th 2017

 

Zeriyah didn’t understand.

She didn’t understand why no one saw her, why she kept wandering the streets of Earth without being able to touch the walls, why the words she spoke went unnoticed by the inhabitants of the village known as National City. Forming words in the language known as English was already difficult, but her efforts didn’t matter as the very sounds she made seemed to rain upon deaf ears.

Zeriyah just didn’t understand.

The more she thought and the more she wondered, the more she was convinced it had something to do with her brief imprisonment in that dark echoing space that she had woken up in.

With a bright light shining in her eyes directly from above and with a leather band across her navel that was too tight and across both her wrists, she had almost started panicking. But she had calmed herself and used her limited knowledge of the strange new abilities she’d been blessed with under the Earth’s yellow sun to turn her wrists into liquid form; slipping them past the straps on her arms and finally freeing herself. But as she’d risen to her feet, she’d heard footsteps approaching and decided to use her liquid form over her entire body. Despite never having done it before and despite her fear of how it might affect her unborn child.

But since the instruments on display had made it very clear that she was not going to come out of this place in one piece, she’d taken the risk. And as a pool of unshaped liquid, she’d slid away to the exit and past all the running humans bearing weapons, vaguely registering the writing on the walls as she did so. And despite still being very new to human scriptures, the dark building’s aura of death caused the letters on the wall to be burned into her memory: CADMUS

She didn’t remember much after that.

She knows she was able to get away, that she’d returned to her solid form. That she’d been walking through the dark streets while looking over her shoulder in fear. But she’d been dizzy, her vision unfocused, her limbs unresponsive as if they weren’t aware that they were no longer in liquid form. She wasn’t sure how long it was until she lost consciousness.

She remembers waking up in the human’s house of healing, ‘The Hospital’, as they called it here, the building just the way she remembered it from the last time she’d been there. She remembers the shock she felt when she approached one of the healers dressed in white and the human had walked right through her. She couldn’t understand how that was possible. She couldn’t understand why no one saw her. Whereas her skin colour would usually attract many a stare, now she was being completely ignored.

Zeriyah just didn’t understand.

Even now, five Earthly days after waking up in this phantom state, she still didn’t understand. Walking down streets, with people passing her by from both directions while no one seemed able to register her presence, she still didn’t understand. She wondered if this would last forever. If she was doomed to wander aimlessly in this illusion of an existence, never knowing why, never knowing what had become of her child.

But in the late afternoon, the sun still high up in the sky just as she’d been told was customary in the time period known as ‘summer’, her body had buzzed with a strange sensation. She’d looked down at herself, only to feel that strange sensation again and seeing that it was turning her body into something strange. It looked like the image that would appear on her neighbour’s ‘Television’ right before the human would utter Earthly curse words and slam his hand against the side of it, restoring the virtual images to how they were. But before Zeriyah could wonder why she was turning into a Television, the strange sensation took over her body for a third time, except now her vision turned to black, her body twisted around in a way she had only experienced when she’d turned completely into liquid form and then she felt a shock, as if she had landed on a soft surface.

It was dark.

The surface beneath her was indeed soft but it was still very dark and Zeriyah tried to blink the darkness away, but then realised that her eyes were closed. Opening them took a surprising amount of effort, but when she did, she saw that she was somehow back in the human’s house of healing, laying in one of their beds.

“Hey, there.”

Zeriyah jolted, then noticed that the voice came from one of the healers dressed in white. And that the human was addressing her directly, as if he could actually see her now. She tried to sit up.

“Hey, hey, slow down,” the human stopped her by putting a hand on her shoulder and Zeriyah looked at it with wide eyes. Because the hand of the Earthly man was making contact with her, something that had been impossible in the past days, but now the healer was talking again and Zeriyah struggled to understand even half of the words spoken in the Earthly language. “Everything is okay, you’re in the hospital and my name is dr. Nicholls. Someone found you unconscious in the street and brought you here. You’ve been in a coma for the past five days, but you don’t appear to be injured and your vitals look good. How do you feel?”

Zeriyah frowned at the healer, trying to untangle the long Earthly sentences in her head, but when her eyes fell onto her own body she panicked. She panicked, because she saw a much flatter stomach, a stillness inside her that did not match with the previously ever-present shifting of her unborn child. She breathed heavily as she looked at the healer with panicked eyes.

Nobu-tah?!! Nobu zhekir-tah?!!”

“Hey, calm down. What is it?” The healer stopped her from sitting up again, clearly confused at her words and Zeriyah forced herself to think. To recall the words of the Earthly language known as English while she frantically motioned to her stomach.

“Baby!” she forced out, finally remembering the human word. “Baby!”

“Hey, it’s okay,” the healer’s confusion seemed to be gone, instead displaying an expression of reassurance while motioning to the right side of the bed. “Look.”

Zeriyah turned her head, her panic making room for wonder at the sight of a small bed with see-through confinements and at the small child of Topurah that was occupying it. All she could do was stare in awe, while the foreign words of the human healer washed over her.

“You went into labour less than 24 hours after they brought you in, and since you were in a coma we had to perform a C-section. Technically this little guy should be in the pediatric ward, but there were some concerns about him possibly carrying alien viruses, so-”

Mokkah zah we kap-tah?”

She’d spoken without thinking, but upon seeing the confusion of the healer she motioned towards her child with both arms and then put them close to her chest, not remembering the human word for mokkah.

“Oh, of course.” The healer seemed to understand, moving to the other side of the bed and carefully lifting the small being out of the little bed, before leaning over and depositing her very own child into her arms. Zeriyah couldn’t help but stare and smile at the small fidgeting being. “I’ll be back later to check on you two,” she could hear the healer speak before the human left, but she couldn’t bring herself to look away.

She couldn’t bring herself to look away from the miracle making small noises in her arms, eternally grateful for her luck. For having escaped that dreadful place, for not harming the creature currently in her arms by transforming into liquid, for being able to lay eyes on her child. On her miracle.

Her Krunah.

She stayed like that for a while. Just rocking her child back and forth while softly singing the Sacred One’s lullaby; the very song her own mother had sung to her and that had been passed down for generations on Topurah. She believed she could have stayed lost in this moment for longer than the duration of Topurah’s independence festival, but the joy was not to last. The flash of a memory came back to her, that of her sliding through that dark building that she’d managed to escape. Of the running footsteps belonging to the uniformly dressed humans bearing weapons that she’d slid her way past unnoticed.

Except it wasn’t a memory.

She was looking through the glass window that separated her from the rest of the house of healing and there was someone dressed in that same attire, in that same distinct clothing pattern she’d seen back in that horrible building. He looked from left to right while moving through the corridor and Zeriyah held her breath as she pushed herself against the pillow. By some luck, the lurking man averted his eyes in the opposite direction to avoid looking at a healer walking towards him and then disappeared from Zeriyah’s view.

Zeriyah was left reeling, realising the humans who had captured her before were clearly looking for her for some reason. The oppressing sensation of persecution was creeping into her mind, and she briefly wondered if this is how the Naruvians had felt during the Second Era. But as she took another look at the baby in her arms, at her Krunah, she knew she had to do something. So although it might not be best for herself, even though she knew that stealing was wrong no matter the planet she was on, she snuck out of her room with Krunah wrapped tightly in his blanket, managing to grab a long coat for her to put over the strange gown they’d changed her in, before sneaking her way out of the human’s house of healing.

She kept nervously glancing over her shoulder, making sure she wasn’t followed and she noticed several people giving her odd looks. Something that mostly felt as a relief considering the phantom state she’d found herself in for the past few days and if she was honest, she still wasn’t sure whether it had been a dream or not. She kept walking the streets, realising that the coat was way too hot for the Earthly period known as summer, even if the sun was slowly disappearing behind dark clouds that were giving them at least some relief. She continued on her way towards her small housing on the other side of National City village, glad to see those clouds bringing more and more relief as they gathered in larger clusters and started completely obscuring the sky.

As she walked one of the quieter streets of National City village however, there was suddenly a loud rumbling above her, the sounds of what she knew to be ‘thunder’. She was too preoccupied with looking towards the sky to pay attention to the two human boys who were arguing as they passed her by.

“So that was your big plan?! Just knock on their door and ask if we could go in?!”

“It couldn’t hurt to try!”

“Cool, so why was it again that I shouldn’t kick your ass for snooping around my dad’s stuff?”

“Because… Ronnie, look! See that? That’s an air duct, if we can get up there we could-”

Another loud rumble of thunder cut off the already fading voices of the two human boys, as Zeriyah looked to the sky with concern. She could feel drops of rain starting to fall, slowly at first but then they were coming down faster and she worriedly looked down at her Krunah, who was starting to shift restlessly and make distressed noises. She wanted to start running, even though her housing was still far, but then she spotted a door on her left.

She hesitated, looked down at her arms, then decided to try.

She knocked, the sound of her fist against the door echoing vaguely on the other side, and it wasn’t long before it swung open.

“Stupid kids! I already told you that- oh.” The man who’d appeared in the doorway looked perplexed upon seeing her, his skin darker than that of most she’d seen in the village, and Zeriyah tried her best to explain with as many as the Earthly words she could remember.

“Baby,” she motioned to little Krunah before gesturing to the sky, the human word escaping her as she mimicked the downpour. “Not… good,” she forced out, and the human seemed to understand.

“Oh. Yeah, sure, yeah come in.”

He stepped to the side and motioned for her to enter, Zeriyah gratefully accepting the offer as she stepped past the man. The room she found herself in didn’t look like a human home, that much she could tell. But as she looked over the bare concrete walls, the splintered pieces of wood laying in a corner, along with many other piles that she knew humans classified as ‘trash’, she couldn’t help but wonder what this place was. The man had found two folding chairs somewhere, putting them down in front of each other as he spoke in the Earthly language.

“Yeah, I know it looks bad but trust me, it was way worse this morning. We’ve been trying to clean this place up all day and when I say ‘we’, I actually mean just me, because that security lady apparently can’t be bothered… um,” the man looked at Zeriyah in confusion, who hadn’t moved since stepping inside. “You, um… can sit down if you want.” He motioned at the chair, Zeriyah understanding the gesture and walking over to sit on the small folding chair.

“Thank,” Zeriyah forced out, offering a smile to the human before checking on her Krunah and finding him soundly asleep again.

“You’re welcome,” the human said as he sat down in front of her, then pulled out some sort of cylinder and screwed the top off, moving it closer to her. “Coffee? I wasn’t expecting to share, so If you don’t take it with milk and lots of sugar I’m sorry, but yeah. Do you want some?”

Zeriyah shook her head at the questioning look and the extended item, causing the human to shrug and sit back, pouring liquid that almost perfectly matched his skin tone from the cylinder into the top as Zeriyah watched intrigued. They sat there for a few peaceful seconds, the man sipping on his drink while the thunder and the falling rain were the only sounds to be heard. But the man looked a little restless and ended up speaking to her again.

“So, um… what’s your name?”

Zeriyah stopped looking at her Krunah, confusion on her face, and the human seemed to understand and started gesturing more clearly. He emphatically put his hand on his own chest, speaking slowly.

“Me, Mesut. Mesut El Habash.” He pointed a finger at her. “You?”

El?” Zeriyah’s eyes went wide. “Krypton-tah?! Krypton vakhtu to zartah we-”

“Whoa, whoa,” the man held up his hands. “Nope, definitely not an alien. Human,” he pressed his hand against his chest again. “Me, very much human.” Zeriyah deflated, the thought of having a somewhat familiar culture nearby vanishing faster than it came.

“Zeriyah,” she pressed her hand to her chest. “Zeriyah Nil-Ak.” She motioned to her baby wrapped in his blanket. “Krunah. Krunah Nil-Ak.”

“Nice to meet you guys,” the human Mesut smiled and Zeriyah felt slightly more at ease. “So… hang on,” the human hesitated as he looked her over. “Were you in the hospital?”

She recognised that word, the word for the human house of healing, and as she glanced down she saw that the man was looking at the gown they had given her there, which was peeking out from under the stolen coat. She nodded at him, seeming to only confuse him further.

“Were you sick?”

The words were foreign, but Zeriyah deduced he’d asked the logical next question and wanted to know why she’d needed healing. She sighed, trying to come up with a way to explain without human words to rely upon. She gently lowered Krunah, setting him down on her knees as she started gesturing across her wrists, trying to illustrate the straps they’d bound her with.

“Um… handcuffs?” the human Mesut asked, looking puzzled. Zeriyah sighed, clearly not getting her message across. She thought deeply trying to figure out how to somehow show what had happened to her, but then she remembered something. She remembered the human scripture on the wall of that dark building with its aura of death.

“Cadmus,” she stated, careful to correctly pronounce the human writing. Apparently that did it, as the man’s eyes instantly widened in recognition.

“Whoa… seriously?” The human Mesut stared at her in silence for a moment. “You seriously escaped from Cadmus?!”

“Yes,” Zeriyah nodded, a little enthusiastic at recognising that one word. “Escape.”

“Holy shit. That’s crazy…” The human Mesut looked surprised at the information, but Zeriyah simply felt elated at successfully conversing with a human. It was so much harder than it looked. Zeriyah looked around the room again, because maybe she could try to ask a question of her own.

“Here?” she asked, gesturing around the room. Mesut frowned at her.

“What?” The human looked confused and Zeriyah suddenly remembered; in the Earthly language there were always so many specifics.

“Here… what is?” she specified, gesturing around the messy room.

“Oh, you want to know what this place is for?” The human Mesut’s face lit up in understanding, and Zeriyah smiled. Both at her success at communicating as well as being amused that apparently she still hadn’t used near enough specifics. “Well, this might sound weird but I don’t actually know,” the man chuckled. “It’s my first day, you see. This fancy lady needed a janitor and she’s been having me clean up this whole building all day, but I never actually got a chance to ask her what it’s going to be used for.” The man happily chatted away but Zeriyah deflated, the stream of long Earthly sentences too much to keep up with. “Speaking of the boss, I should probably tell her about you, I don’t want to get in trouble. But don’t worry, miss Roulette seems nice enough. For a rich lady, that is.”

The human Mesut suddenly got up and Zeriyah felt confused as she tightened her grip on her Krunah and started doing the same.

“No, no, you can stay,” Mesut motioned her to remain seated and Zeriyah obliged. “It’s all gonna be okay, I’ll just tell her what’s up and I’ll be right back.”

Zeriyah nodded, because that phrase she knew. ‘Right back’, meaning that someone would return shortly. So she watched as the human Mesut walked through a door and disappeared further into the building, leaving her alone with her Krunah to listen to the rain ticking against the single small window behind her. Zeriyah started singing the Sacred One’s lullaby again, curiously craning her neck to the side as she did so to look through a partially opened door at the other side of the room, where there appeared to be standing a lot of piled up mattresses.

That was when she felt the sting in her shoulder.

Zeriyah’s singing was interrupted as she let out a surprised gasp, looking at her left shoulder where the sharp sting was making room for a strange burning sensation. Then a beeping sound suddenly emerged from her shoulder. Zeriyah’s eyes widened in astonishment, before carefully lowering Krunah back to her knees, her left hand still looped around his little body protectively while she used her right to tug at both the coat and the garb from the house of healing. Fear settled into her bones, as not only did the beeping continue, but with her clothing tucked to the side, she could see the sound was being accompanied by a red light flashing from under her skin. Everything was intensifying; not only the loudness and frequency of the beeping sound, not only the painful burning sensation under her skin, but also the fear building in Zeriyah’s heart as she tried to figure out what was happening.

The dread was instinctual more than anything, because she knew something was wrong. Human culture was confusing to her, but the kind eyes of the human healer that she’d woken up to weren’t the eyes of someone who would implant something under her skin; something that that was now causing an almost unbearable burning sensation, as the increasingly fast beeping sound was spelling doom to Zeriyah’s ears. Someone who would do that, were the people in that dark and ominous building that she’d woken up in. The people bearing arms and who had equipment lying around designed to hurt and mangle.

It could hurt Krunah.

That was the thought that finally brought her to action, softly whimpering at the pain as she stood up and very carefully deposited Krunah on the small folding chair. The small baby squirmed uneasily and Zeriyah was caught between two instincts; one that refused to abandon her child and one that urged her to listen to the feeling of impending doom. As Zeriyah stood paralysed with indecision, tears starting to well up at the impossible choice laid out in front of her, the mysterious flashing light under her shoulder suddenly devolved into one long beeping sound.

That’s what made Zeriyah push through, bending down and through her tears whispered; “Ezhol-te, Krunah.”

Then, spurred on by the menacing sound coming from her shoulder, she ran to the door she entered from. The last consoling thought going through her mind being that the human Mesut seemed like a good man.

But before she reached the door, the world exploded.

For Zeriyah, it only lasted a fraction of a second. Only that one microsecond where Zeriyah felt like the burning sensation expanded from the explosive device implanted in her shoulder, before it tore her body to shreds. She was unaware of the blast hitting Krunah first, of it expanding to the next room where the flames enveloped all the people there, unaware of the burning building collapsing in on itself and crushing everyone. And in the end, she would never know why she’d been kidnapped by Cadmus in the first place, what her phantom sate had meant, or why the human language required so many specifics.

 

Zeriyah would never understand.

 



 

 

February 22 nd 2018

 

The back of her head hurt like hell.

That was the first thing Lena noticed as she sluggishly forced her eyes open. She groaned, the sting in her head being noticeably different from earlier today, external instead of internal. Basically, she was pretty sure she had a lump somewhere north of her ponytail. Lena tried to feel the sore spot but found that she couldn’t reach it, her hand staying in place where it was above her head.

Wait.

Above her head?

Lena frowned, blinking some more and shaking her head to remove the stars in her eyes, and started taking note of her surroundings, almost immediately recognising she was in trouble. For one, she was sitting on the floor. As she blinked and the fog in her mind started to clear, the world got a lot sharper (unfortunately the pain did, too) and she saw that she wasn’t just seated on the floor, she was seated on a dirty floor. It was filthy, really. Lena frowned deeper, looking up to see why her hands were stuck above her head and – yep, she was definitely in deep trouble. Her wrists were handcuffed, the chain circling behind the pillar she was apparently leaning against and it had to be supported by something, since she couldn’t bring her hands down; both of her arms stuck in that position with almost no bend to her elbows.

When Lena looked at her surroundings, the picture became even clearer. She sighed as she looked around, because I’m in a goddamn abandoned warehouse, aren’t I? It figures

She shook her head at the vast space laid out in front of her, illuminated only by a few select bright lights here and there, so she struggled to make out the details of the room. As she looked to her far right however – about as far as she could turn her head in this position – she noticed that Brian was right there. The process of calmly and rationally trying to form a picture of what was going on was tainted with concern, as she saw that the alien man was strapped to some sort of metal operating table, unconscious. Her mind was occupied with that image for a few seconds before she tore her eyes away and looked around the rest of the room.

The rest of the warehouse appeared to be empty, safe for another metal worktable like the one Brian was laying on that wasn’t too far removed from his, this one thankfully void of unconscious bodies. There was a regular table standing slightly further away, many trinkets and constructions that appeared to be made of metal, although it was hard to tell from Lena’s position on the floor. When she squinted her eyes at a strange sight to her far left, she noticed another figure tied up facing away from her to one of the warehouse’s many pillars. The first thing she noticed was the pin made of some sort of thick black metal sticking out of the pillar, pinning the chain of this other figure’s handcuffs to it, and Lena realised that’s how her own hands were being kept above her head as well.

The second thing she noticed was that she recognised the figure’s outfit and black hair. Shit. They’d captured Angela too.

Lena sighed a heavy breath, the dread only building when she noticed something moving out of the corner of her eye. She tried to look behind her, tried to angle her body even more to the left, but her handcuffs were keeping her firmly in place. She stayed there for a moment, trying to concentrate on the spot where she’d seen the movement but eventually gave up, the utter and complete silence of the place indicating that she was probably imagining things.

When she rested her head back against the pillar and sent an accusatory glance to the handcuffs that were limiting her movements, however, a glimmer of hope appeared at the back of her mind. She was still wearing her watch. Her coat had been removed for some reason, but her watch was still there and if she could just reach it, if she could just press the button and send the emergency signal to Kara, then – shit! Lena groaned in exasperation, her head falling back against the pillar in defeat, because her handcuffs wouldn’t let her do it. The chain circling around the pillar just had to be an inch too short, just had to stop her from reaching her left wrist and call for help, and just screw my luck!

Maybe if she stood up…

Lena planted a foot underneath her but dropped down almost immediately after, the tug of a chain she hadn’t noticed before pressing into her lower abdomen and keeping her seated on the dirty floor. Brilliant. Lena’s frustration was growing exponentially, her head whipping from one side to the other searching for a solution to her unfortunate predicament, but she only found Brian and Angela’s unconscious forms trapped in their respective spots, that table on the far side of the room, the pillars of the warehouse, and she could’ve sworn she saw something red move behind her again, but she still couldn’t turn far enough to see.

She was just inspecting her handcuffs again, trying to manoeuvre her wrists further into them, tried to twist her elbows and bend her shoulders to reach her left wrist and send the Supergirl-summoning signal (getting absolutely nowhere) when the silence was suddenly broken by approaching footsteps.

“Good. You’re awake.”

Lena jerked her head to the side, the footsteps getting louder, and soon enough none other than Cigarette strode into view. The new leader of Cadmus crouched right in front of her, a gloved hand pushing her head back while her eyes were suddenly under scrutiny.

“You don’t have a concussion, do you?”

Lena might have mistaken the question for a sign of concern if it weren’t for the clipped tone of the hooded figure. “No,” Lena drawled with a frown, watching as Cigarette hummed in response and then proceeded to march over to the table halfway across the room, rummaging through the junk sat on top of it. Lena watched for a second how the figure roughly threw metal objects aside with aggressive movements before she raised her voice. “As someone who was just kidnapped, I feel like I’m the one who gets to be in a foul mood,” she drawled with feigned nonchalance. Lena’s frown only grew deeper when the head of the hooded figure was thrown back, a dry and short laugh echoing through the large space.

“You can feel how you like, but forgive me for not being enthusiastic at your interference with my test subjects.”

“You believe I can somehow order the police around?” Lena scoffed, mostly trying to keep the conversation going while she returned to her futile attempts of tugging at her handcuffs. “Didn’t you hear about them arresting me?”

“Don’t take me for a fool, Ms. Luthor,” Cigarette responded, turning around from the worktable with a stack of papers in one hand and a plastic see-through box containing small black objects in the other and stepping closer to Lena again, still sounding a lot less composed and disinterested than during their last encounter. “I know the government didn’t grow a semblance of intelligence overnight, so if the police are rounding up all my test subjects as we speak, I’m sure that you pointed them in the right direction. But since you decided to play hero,” the figure threw a furtive glance towards Brian, “I now have the good fortune of enjoying your company. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but since you’re here,” Cigarette unceremoniously dropped the stack of papers next to her feet on the floor. “I might as well speed up my timeline, and make you serve your purpose right here and right now.”

Lena squinted her eyes in confusion, looking from the stack of papers on the floor to Cigarette and back again. “You lost me.”

Cigarette didn’t explain, instead putting the plastic box down and cockily using one boot to push it across the floor, the thing coming to a stop right next to Lena. “What do you see?”

Lena arched an unimpressed eyebrow at the contents. “Black Legos.”

“Funny.” The figure pulled a small black object out of a pocket, an exact copy of the many that were filling the box on the floor, Lena noticed. “This is what I like to call a Sentinel. My own creation. It’s a remotely detonable explosive device, but unlike regular bombs it leaves no trace behind. Mr. Henshaw was kind enough to test it for me.” Cigarette’s eyes crinkled, as if a smile was hiding behind the small piece of cloth covering the lower part of the figure’s face. “I tend to implant them into the left shoulder, mostly because it makes it easier to remove them once I start dissecting. It can be very convenient when one of my test subjects manages to escape,” Cigarette continued, casually motioning to the alien strapped to the operating table behind him. “Thankfully that only happened once. But since we couldn’t find her afterwards, all it took was the press of a button.” Cigarette took a small remote-like device out of a back pocket, waving it around.

Lena frowned. “Infrared?”

“Radio waves, actually,” Cigarette mused, sounding almost smug about it, before putting the remote back. “In any case, I believe I’ve told you before, Ms. Luthor, that Cadmus’s cause will always take priority over moral scruples. Which is why…” Cigarette stepped closer, bending down to tug at the collar of Lena’s shirt as she looked incredulously at the figure’s motions. Cigarette said nothing, instead simply tapping on the exposed skin of her shoulder and as Lena warily tore her eyes from the hooded figure and to her left, she saw a small lesion on her left shoulder, barely visible, but clearly still fresh.

“So what, my grand purpose is to be a test subject?” Lena scoffed, trying not to linger on the fact that there was a goddamn explosive device nestled in her shoulder. She turned to look at Cigarette, who had stepped back. She had to admit it was slightly better than her previous assumption of Cigarette and Roulette trying to have her kill someone, but it still wasn’t a great prospect. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m afraid I’m not an alien,” Lena drawled, the condescension in her voice mostly there in the hope she would get some more information out of the mysterious figure.

“I’m aware, Ms. Luthor. But I imagined you would need some incentive to comply with my next request.” Lena’s confusion only grew, because surely all the ghosts in the city knowing about her existence had proven to be enough incentive for her to comply to outlandish requests, but the figure continued before she could dwell on it. “I would like you to sign the last page of this agreement,” Cigarette motioned to the stack of papers by her feet. “You will effectively be handing control of L-Corp over to me.”

Lena’s efforts to appear disaffected fell by the wayside, her eyebrows rising as a sharp and incredulous laugh escaped her mouth. “What?!”

“Oh trust me, my original plan was much more sophisticated. You would have been disgraced and removed by the board, making your abdication much more plausible, but the NCPD are apparently so incompetent they can’t even follow evidence that falls right into their lap. So that leaves us here.” Cigarette took out a pen, turning it over in between those gloved fingers, and Lena shook her head, the whole thing seeming ridiculous.

“So that’s what the mighty Cigarette wants?” Lena scoffed. “All those grandiose statements about science, but in the end you just want to have unlimited power?”

“If you’re trying to get under my skin, you’re doing a poor job of it,” the figure responded impatiently. “All research needs to be funded somehow, and the resources L-Corp has would be invaluable to our cause.”

Lena scowled at the hooded figure who was still twirling the pen between gloved fingers, noticing with some satisfaction that despite the dismissive attitude, Cigarette still seemed to feel the need to justify the choices made. “If you think that I’m willing to help Cadmus, under any circumstances, you’re delusional. You might as well go ahead and blow me up.”

Cigarette let out an amused chuckle that grated Lena’s nerves. “No, no, you’re misunderstanding me, Ms. Luthor. That Sentinel is in your shoulder so you won’t try to do anything once you leave this building. If you try to have the agreement annulled in any way, you’re going to end up in a million little pieces. A lot of other people might get hurt in the process. Have you considered that?” Lena’s confusion made its return, mostly due to the part where Cigarette mentioned letting her walk out of here (which was obviously bullshit; a very uncreative way to get someone’s cooperation, she had to say), but she couldn’t dwell on it for too long. “You see, I have managed to observe that you are most concerned about other people’s lives. Which is where our friend comes into play.” Cigarette motioned to Lena’s right, her head following the pointing finger to look at Brian’s unconscious form on that metal operating table. “I was told a few months ago, that you bothered to have him saved by The Guardian. A heroic gesture, I must say, but if you want him to remain in one piece another day I suggest you sign those papers. Otherwise you will have a front row seat to my research methods. Now,” the figure stepped closer, towering over her with that pen demandingly stretched out while taking out a small key to the handcuffs, “you’re right-handed, correct?”

Lena fixed her icy stare back onto Cigarette, ignoring a desperate whimper behind her suggesting that Angela was awake now, as she opened her mouth for an angry retort, but then she froze. Her words died on her tongue as she slowly closed her mouth, because the most improbable of openings had just presented itself. On its own, signing over her company was out of the question. As much as her insides twisted with guilt at the thought of having to watch Brian get dissected, this would have been a choice between him and countless more alien lives that would have been at the mercy of not only the mad ideologies of the wayward scientist in front of her, but also the full force of L-Corp’s uninhibited power. But what she was realising, was that maybe she didn’t have to choose. Because yes, she was indeed right-handed.

And if her right hand was free, there would be nothing stopping her from reaching over to her watch and summoning Supergirl. Not only saving herself, but effectively ending Cadmus once and for all.

Lena warily let her eyes go over the pen, the stack of papers on the floor, and the alien man strapped to the operating table, allowing to revel in the improbability of her impending escape. Her eyes caught sight of something red moving from the corner of her eye again, and she finally recognised it as the hem of Roulette’s dress.

Right. They still had to deal with her too.

Lena looked Cigarette over pensively. “You know this won’t last, right?” she drawled carefully, mostly to gain time as the gears in her head started turning to find a way to control Roulette after Kara took care of Cigarette. “Supergirl will stop you, eventually.”

“I’ve managed to stay hidden up until now, I highly doubt she will have better luck finding me in the future. And even if she does,” Cigarette made an amused sound, a gloved hand pulling the figure’s jacket aside to reveal the inside, and Lena’s mind went blank. “I’m prepared for her.”

Lena stared in horror at the inside of the jacket, because usually she could deal with altering plans, with kinks in the works, but Cigarette had kryptonite. On the inside of the jacket there were several small metallic objects, their exact nature a mystery to Lena, but every last one of them was emitting that tell-tale green glow. They were all emitting the sickly green glow of kryptonite and Lena’s mind couldn’t deal with it, because this changed everything. This meant the situation had turned into something completely different, into a choice that was much less easy to make.

“So,” the gloved hand let go of the jacket, the many kryptonite devices hidden from Lena’s view again even tough they were firmly burned into her memory, the hooded figure crouching in front of her with that pen expectantly held out towards her. “How about we make this official?”

Lena couldn’t move. Even without the handcuffs and the chain across her abdomen, she still couldn’t have moved. Even her mind couldn’t move past the image of kryptonite. Her mask was shattered, all pretence of keeping up a brave face far gone, her scared eyes darting from the pen, to the papers, to the figure’s jacket, her mind paralysed and incapable of moving past the loop that it was stuck in.

If she used her Supergirl-summoning watch, she would lead Kara straight to kryptonite.

If she did nothing, she would die.

Her scared eyes kept darting left and right, finding no loophole, finding no other way out of it, as the terror in her heart kept building, the sensation that she had to do something reverberating through her mind. But she couldn’t make a choice, perpetually caught between those two primal instincts: the one that was alerting her of her impending doom and the one that refused to let anything happen to Kara. The emotions were getting too much, the thought of her not wanting the dismissing of Kara in her office to be their last conversation doing battle with the thought of not wanting Kara to be on the brink of death in the DEO’s med-bay again. It was all getting too much.

“I don’t have all day, Ms. Luthor.”

Was it worth it?

“Are you really sure you want to see what I do to your friend over there?”

Was it really worth it?

“I doubt you would enjoy the show.”

Was it?

“Well?”

Was she?

A shallow breath escaped her at the sound of Cigarette suddenly straightening up and walking over towards the unconscious alien. Her insides were screaming, her mind and body were both protesting heavily, but she couldn’t think clearly anymore as any ability to make rational and calculated decisions was being drowned out by the storm of emotions brewing inside of her and it was too much, it was just too much. Lena had to hold back a whimper as she watched Cigarette step behind the metal operating table that Brain was strapped to and start to bend down, reaching for what she realised was a circular saw with dried up blood on the blade. There was a voice tugging at her consciousness and, for once, she didn’t fight it. She didn’t even roll her eyes, as that annoying Talbot-voice appeared at the back of her mind. Instead, she let her eyes fall shut, holding on to the man’s annoying voice with all she had. And she obliged to his most common request.

 

One. L-Corp

Two. Jess still needed her guidance

Three. ‘If you’re ever in a tight spot… I’d like to know that you have backup.’

Four. She promised Winn she’d go to Comic Con with him

Five. She promised Maggie to assist on certain murder cases

Six. The ghosts of National City needed a hero

Seven. Kara’s hair spread across the pillow like a halo

Eight. ‘I’m so proud of you.’

Nine. ‘Your life isn’t any less important than mine.’

Ten. ‘Please don’t die. Especially not like that’

 

“I guess we can start then, Ms. Luthor.”

Lena opened her eyes in time to see Cigarette activate the circular saw and lower it, the sound of a scream telling her that Angela was definitely awake now, and she strained her voice to be heard over the noise of the whirring saw.

“I’LL DO IT!!”

The screaming and the whirring sound both came to an abrupt halt, Cigarette lowering the circular saw back to the floor while seeming to appraise her from behind the elevated worktable.

“I’ll sign your stupid papers,” Lena hissed with ice in her voice.

The eyes of the hooded figure gave away very little, but Lena was willing to bet good money on Cigarette wearing a smug look while the figure put the circular saw back down and stepped back up to her. Cigarette crouched in front of her, picking up the stack of papers from the floor and dumping them in her lap before pulling out that small key and proceeding to unlock the handcuff on Lena’s right wrist. Her arm immediately fell down, Lena wincing as she tentatively moved her fingers and felt the blood flow regularly through her arm again. The figure waited patiently enough, but she was under close scrutiny, so Lena’s heart was beating fast when she pretended to roll her shoulder.

She lifted her right arm back up, tilting her head to the side and scrunching up her face as if she was trying to release a crick in her neck, moving her right hand behind her still-cuffed left wrist as she did so. She groaned as if the motion hurt, masking the sound of her pressing the side of her watch to pop it open.

A loud huff, and she pressed the button.

She immediately lowered her arm, returning her gaze to the leader of Cadmus who was crouched in front of her, realising that she’d just gotten away with it unnoticed. She struggled to hide her relief.

“If your joints are feeling better, how about we get on with it?” Cigarette stoically extended the pen towards her, Lena pursing her lips as she reached out and took it. The hooded figure helpfully turned the document to the last page, unveiling the dotted line awaiting her signature. Lena paused, wondering exactly how far away from National City they were if Kara was taking so long. She licked her lips, darting her eyes from the papers to the figure, trying to find a way to stall.

“Might I know who I’m signing my life’s work over to?” Lena asked dryly.

“If I told you that, I couldn’t let you leave anymore,” Cigarette replied impatiently.

“Oh, please. You showed me your secret technology and you know very well I have an army of lawyers who will have no problem annulling an agreement that was signed under coercion. So let’s not pretend you ever had any intention of letting me walk out of this place in one piece.” Lena’s eyes remained locked with those of the hooded figure, silence pressing down on them. Lena was gritting her teeth, wondering what was keeping Kara, when Cigarette suddenly let out an amused chuckle.

“There truly is no fooling you, is there, Ms. Luthor?”

Cigarette’s head minutely shook from side to side, before gloved hands suddenly reached for the cloth covering the lower part of the figure’s face. Lena watched incredulously as Cigarette removed the cloth in surprisingly casual fashion, folding it neatly before depositing it on the floor. Then the hood came down, an exposed face that was far too familiar suddenly staring back at her and Lena couldn’t prevent her eyes from widening, nor her jaw from dropping.

“You?”

“Me.”

The silence returned, as Lena kept staring in disbelief at the face with the amused expression in front of her. The face of dr. Benson.

“No.” Lena shook her head, the image refusing to click. “That doesn’t make sense, you- you’re not- that woman had to be- or even someone from Lord Technologies, they helped to build my mother’s flying-” Lena stopped herself and inhaled sharply as suddenly something fell into place. She closed her eyes and clenched the fist that wasn’t immobilized above her head, not believing how stupid they’d been. “We gave you the metals,” she hissed.

“You sure did.”

Lena opened her eyes, staring daggers at the head of her R&D. The man who now had her handcuffed in some abandoned warehouse god knows where.

“Imagine my surprise when I was suddenly presented with damning evidence that your mother’s weapons were constructed at L-Corp. I solidified our titanium alloy, by using the compressor in our outdoor lab number 4,” he explained, clearly spotting Lena’s confusion. “It was quite amusing how easy it was to put you on a false trail. All it took was a dismissive attitude and a mention of Lord Technologies’ in-house form of Tungsten, and you were all good and distracted.” Dr. Benson looked insufferably self-satisfied, but Lena just kept shaking her head to herself. Because what about Roulette, what about Mallory S. Moon, it didn’t make any sense.

“It doesn’t make any-”

“Really?” the sharp voice of dr. Benson cut in. “Who do you think snuck those alien biology samples out of L-Corp’s labs last year? Who do you think knew exactly at what time dr. Runnels left work and when she’d be the easiest to kidnap? Who do you think incorporated L-Corp’s alien detection technology into your mother’s weapons? Who do you think made sure that the remains of those weapons fell into the hands of the NCPD in the hope you’d get arrested? Who do you think planted a seed of doubt in Jessica Huang’s mind when it became clear the NCPD hadn’t traced the metals back to L-Corp? Who do you think had the knowledge and resources to create technology like this?” he motioned to the box of Sentinels. “And where do you think all this equipment comes from?” he motioned to the table behind him before scoffing and shaking his head. “For someone who is supposedly a genius, it was remarkably easy to hide under your nose. Now,” dr. Benson pressed his finger to the dotted line in her lap, his expression turning serious, “how about you stop putting off the inevitable and-”

The wall to Lena’s left exploded, a rain of dust and rubble blowing into her view. She barely had time to take in dr. Benson’s startled expression before there was a blur of red and blue, the man getting knocked out of view to the right and suddenly blood-shot blue eyes were staring into her own and warm hands were holding her face.

“I’m so sorry!!” Kara heaved, looking her over with concern and snapping the chain across her waist almost as an afterthought. “I was so worried, but Winn was going on about a kryptonite signature coming from here and Alex insisted I waited for the team to be ready and I promised, I promised I wouldn’t panic and I didn’t, okay?! The team will be here in no-”

“There is!” Lena interrupted, clasping Kara’s forearm with her one free hand as her theoretical bravery was now being tested. Because the fear clawing at her heart was suddenly very real, a pleading tone in her voice as the concern in her eyes was surely matching that of Kara’s. “There is kryptonite! He has kryptonite, please be careful, just please-”

“SUPERGIRL!!”

The angry growl caused both their heads to snap to the side, Kara jumping to her feet instinctively as she shielded Lena while they watched the figure across the room pull himself to his feet, right in front of the cracks that his flying body had left on the wall.

“I WARNED YOU WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU INTERFERED WITH CADMUS’ PLANS!!”

Lena saw the confusion flash across Kara’s face. “Dr. Benson?”

Then Kara was knocked backwards, a beam of green light hitting her square in the chest as she was sent flying towards the opposite wall and crashed into it. Lena watched in horror as dr. Benson clutched his ribs and slowly limped closer from the other end of the room, one of the metallic devices from the inside of his jacket outstretched in his hand. Lena – now freed from the chain that had kept her seated – jumped to her feet and tried to rush towards Kara, but was roughly yanked back by the handcuff she’d forgotten was still locked to her left wrist, the motion making her stumble right out of her heels. She pulled in vain, her eyes darting between the approaching man and Kara’s struggling form, the veins in the struggling hero’s neck glowing with a sickly green colour.

The image was evoking horrible memories of Kara bleeding out on the floor, of her standing across from her as a ghost, but Lena gritted her teeth and ignored them, instead pulling fiercely at her handcuff, trying desperately to slip her hand out. She clawed at the small chain attached to the metal pin behind the pillar as dr. Benson was starting to get closer to Kara, who still hadn’t gotten to her feet. Lena’s panic grew as she heaved and pulled harder, the base of her hand hurting something terrible with the force she was putting on it. But when dr. Benson passed right by the pillar, his angry eyes only focussed on Kara, Lena stopped her efforts and acted on instinct.

Stepping out from behind the pillar and putting her whole bodyweight behind a punch to the man’s jaw.

The man fell sideways with a groan while Lena hissed at the pain in her knuckles, darting her eyes to the side to see that Kara was still struggling to deal with the effect of the kryptonite. As she looked back to the man on the floor groaning and clutching his mouth, she suddenly had an idea. She knelt down, reaching for the pocket she knew the remote for the Sentinels was in, barely reaching it with the leeway she got from her cuffed hand, but dr. Benson clearly wasn’t that far gone. He kicked her arm away, Lena yelping in pain as the man scrambled back to his feet, but just as he looked like he was about to head for her direction, he jumped three feet back. Good for him, otherwise he’d have been burnt to a crisp by the blue laser beam that now hit the floor between them.

Lena’s heart instantly felt lighter as she looked over to see Kara finally standing upright and shooting another beam of blue from her eyes, forcing dr. Benson to dive away and hide behind one of the pillars.

Kara groaned, the green glow in her veins subsiding slightly as she stepped towards the bound Luthor. “Lena-” she fell forward as another shot of green grazed right past her, coming from behind the pillar that dr. Benson had disappeared behind and thankfully only hitting the wall. Kara responded with another laser beam, shot right at the side of the pillar, and she used the time it bought her to stumble over to Lena and pull her behind the pillar to shield them both from Benson’s attacks.

“Lena,” she breathed, the green glow in her neck weak but still there, “I’ve got you.” She had to grit her teeth as she pulled the small chain of the handcuffs in two, finally releasing Lena from its hold. “Come on, let’s get out of here.” She already had a hand on Lena’s back and looked like she was about to take her in her arms.

“Wait!” Lena put a hand on her arm, halting her movements, because there was still a goddamn Sentinel in her shoulder. “I can’t leave; he’ll kill me. Brian, myself, probably Angela too, he’ll kill all of us.”

Kara shook her head, eyes wide and a hint of panic shining through. “What are you talking a-” They both flinched when another flash of green hit the patch of floor next to their feet. Kara immediately leaned sideways and shot another blue beam in retaliation.

“Kara,” Lena took the other woman by the shoulders as she hid back behind the pillar, looking at her concerned blue eyes. “There’s no time to explain, but you trust me, right?”

“I- yes! Yes, of course!” Kara looked completely lost as she nodded, her worried eyes and dimly glowing veins making Lena’s own stomach turn, but that Talbot-voice was still there, reminding her of the numbers one through ten. “Then I need you to give me your comm and keep him busy.”

There was a pause as Kara’s eyes stared deep into her own. It probably lasted no more than a second, but to Lena it felt like time had temporarily slowed down, all those times she had stared wistfully into Kara’s beautiful blue eyes and memorised every inch of them coming together in this moment, before Kara nodded her head and broke the spell. She seemed to put mountains of effort into controlling her worry and her panic, but she took her comm out of her ear and carefully deposited it in Lena’s hand, determination in her voice as she said: “Okay.”

“Wait,” Lena caught Kara’s arm just as she was about to throw herself into battle, turning the Superhero towards her and giving her a desperate kiss. When Lena pulled back she gave her a pleading look. “Please be careful,” she whispered.

Kara’s eyes were intense as she removed Lena’s hands from her face. “Only if you are, too.”

Lena barely had time to nod before Kara flew from behind the pillar, a ray of sickly green immediately trying to hit her, but missing her cape by about three feet. The sounds of Kara flying through the air, of the buzzing metal device shooting kryptonite rays, of the lasers firing from Kara’s eyes, they all faded into the background as Lena took a deep breath and put the comm in her ear.

Supergirl, if you don’t give me an answer in the next three seconds, I swear to god-”

“Alex!” Lena interrupted. “She’s busy at the moment, and I need Winn on the line right now!”

Lena!” Winn’s voice was suddenly right in her ear as she crouched down and peeked around the pillar, a firework show of green and blue bouncing around the room in all directions, creating an endless reverberation in the echoing warehouse. “I’m so glad you’re okay! Alex is leading a strike team inside right now and-”

“No time for chit-chat, Winn!” Lena collected all her courage and slid halfway out from the protection of the pillar, grabbing the plastic box of Sentinels before huddling back against the safe side again, the terrifying sounds of battle continuing to sound from the vast space. “Do you have our exact location?!”

Well, yeah, we- we got your signal and Kara has a tracker, so-”

“Good.” Lena picked up one of the Sentinels, squeezing it between her fingers, then trying to force her nail into the small slit going through the middle. After two seconds she gave up and smashed the whole thing against the concrete pillar, resulting in small pieces of copper and wiring tumbling out. “Can you block all radio waves in the building?!”

Radio waves?! I… I can try, but a frequency would help.”

Lena could already hear the sounds of fingers flying across a keyboard through her comm and despite the situation, despite Kara fighting for her life right across the room, Lena couldn’t stop her lips from witching up in the briefest of smiles. Because Winn hadn’t even hinted at questioning her strange demand and really, she could never overstate how grateful she was for having the best sidekick in the world.

“I’m working on it, give me a second,” Lena huffed as she picked through the insides of the smashed Sentinel, trying to find something, anything that would- “Found it!” Lena held the tiny piece of copper in front of her, squinting her eyes to read the miniscule L-Corp serial number etched on the face of it. “High frequency! It’s within the decameter band!” She couldn’t help but feel vindicated at the stolen L-Corp materials helping them out.

I’ll see what I can do.”

Winn sounded less confident than she would like, but before she could dwell on it, a resounding crash came from above her. Lena glanced up in time to see a caped figure smashing straight through the pillar and Lena didn’t even have time to fear for Kara’s life, as the rubble falling down towards her forced her to roll out of the way. There were terrifying sounds coming from behind her and as she lifted her head, she saw the pieces of concrete completely crushing the plastic box of Sentinels, right were she’d been standing just now.

“YOU CAN’T KEEP RUNNING, SUPERGIRL!!”

Dr. Benson’s booming voice caused Lena to look to her right, finding Kara already dusting herself off and looking better for having put some distance between herself and the kryptonite. Then the door beyond the crumpled pillar flew open and suddenly countless Cadmus goons were flooding the room. Kara immediately hovered in the air, and Lena scrambled for the nearest pillar, but it soon became clear they weren’t there for either of them. They were all backing into the room, their guns aimed at the double doors, and Lena soon realised that they were locked in a shoot-out with numerous DEO agents who were trying to force their way in.

The brief distraction nearly cost Kara, a small metal object with a green glow getting hurled in her direction by dr. Benson, and the Superhero barely managed to fly away before the thing exploded. Lena had only a fraction of a second to see that the blast actually hit several of the shooting Cadmus henchmen, before she had to roll for cover and avoid the expanding green fire. Her hips hit the ground hard as she fell down behind the closest concrete pillar and she watched as licks of green fire blazed past her on both sides of her shielded position. The relief she felt was very brief, the sounds of Kara’s fight with dr. Benson and the many firing guns soon filling her ears again, but when she peeked around the corner was when her heart truly dropped. Lena was mostly shielded from the pandemonium happening on the side of the warehouse to her right, but as she looked around the left side of the pillar where the DEO versus Cadmus shoot-out was happening, her heart lurched with fear.

Because there, way too close to the flying bullets to be considered safe, Angela was still chained to a pillar, which had mostly shielded her from the kryptonite blast. Mostly. Because one of her sleeves was on fire.

Lena probably should’ve thought her actions through, probably should’ve at least taken a look to see where the bullets were coming from. But as it was, she sprinted right across the space between the pillars, keeping her head down as she saw Cadmus people retreating her way from the side of her eye, but steadily kept going, her bare feet propelling her across the dirty floor before she dropped to her knees in front of Angela, finally shielded by the other pillar.

Lena desperately tugged at the sleeve of her own shirt, the expensive fabric tearing off as she swatted at the flames with it, aggressively hitting the burning part of Angela’s jacket, eventually pressing the cloth right against the woman’s arm. Lena whimpered as she watched the smoke rise and the flames die out, retracting her hands from the building heat to find them red and stinging. Lena blew on them, darting her eyes from the smouldering sleeve of Angela’s jacket to the woman’s unconscious features and back, when suddenly a piercing scream echoed through the warehouse. The shooting abruptly stopped, Lena daring a glance behind the left side of the pillar and finding the faces of all the DEO agents and Cadmus members fixed towards the other side of the room, where the screaming continued.

Lena carefully got to her feet, now noticing that the sounds of battle between Supergirl and Cigarette had ceased as well, as she leaned past the other side of the pillar. Her eyes went wide, as not only was dr. Benson the one who was screaming, he was justified in doing so considering his jacket was on fire. Lena watched as the flames seemed to dance around his torso while the man’s arms swatted aimlessly at any place they could reach. Somehow he managed to wrestle his way out of the jacket, the burning piece of clothing dropping to the floor where it was soon joined by dr. Benson, who kept screaming as he rolled on the ground, trying to get rid of the burning sensation that was undoubtedly still licking at his skin.

Lena couldn’t help but wonder how much luck he had on his side, when just after he’d rolled to a considerable distance from his burning jacket, the thing blew up with a small explosion, no doubt the result of the kryptonite devices stuck to the inside of it, as a short blast of thick green smoke was sent skyward before swiftly dissipating. Lena, the DEO agents, and the entirety of Cadmus looked on, as Cigarette lay there panting on the floor while the black and crumpled remnant of the man’s jacket looked like it was crusted to the floor. But the intense relief only set in when Lena looked up to where Kara was hovering in the air, no doubt from where she’d been able to hit him with one of her laser beams, as she glanced at her own hands, the veins on them as well as the ones on her neck swiftly losing their green glow and returning to their normal shade.

Lena let out a sharp sigh of relief as she watched the effects of the kryptonite vanish, the entirety of it apparently blown up along with dr. Benson’s jacket. Kara landed with a thud on the ground, marching straight over to the groaning man on the floor and lifting him off the ground by his collar.

“Your boss is out of commission,” Kara proclaimed loudly as she glanced towards the other side of the vast space and at the staring members of Cadmus. “Drop your weapons and you will be treated fairly. No one else has to get hurt.”

Now, Lena knew her girlfriend. So she knew that Kara genuinely and truly never wanted anyone to get hurt. But she could imagine how, to the rest of the arm-bearing Cadmus faithful in the building, that last line sounded more like Supergirl threatening to burn them to a crisp. Which is probably why they eagerly dropped their weapons to the floor and put their hands behind their heads, allowing the DEO agents to approach with handcuffs in tow.

When Lena glanced back towards Kara, however, a frown formed at what was happening. Dr. Benson’s hands were shaking, one of them gripping the forearm that was holding him in the air, but the other was reaching towards his back pocket.

“If I’m not walking out of here,” the man rasped hoarsely, Kara’s head sharply turning to look at him. “Then neither will your friends.”

Lena’s eyes widened, she managed to take a single step forward, but dr. Benson was swift to pull the small remote-like device from his back pocket, hold it in the air and press the button with a loud click. Lena froze in place, didn’t move for half a second, then yanked the sleeveless side of her shirt away and stared at the small lesion on her left shoulder. She ran a finger over it, then glanced around for Brian, but he was hidden from view somewhere behind one of the pillars. But as the seconds ticked away, nothing happened, causing Kara to blink in confusion as she looked back at dr. Benson.

“Was that supposed to do something?”

Lena let out a sharp laugh, the relief flooding through her as she leaned back and rested her head against the concrete. “Winn, you beautiful bastard!”

She couldn’t help the relieved laughter that kept bubbling out of her, and she barely registered the outraged face of dr. Benson, the man letting out one last frustrated scream. However, Kara was very clearly completely done with the whole situation, undoubtedly fuelled by the frustration of her girlfriend getting kidnapped, as she raised her free hand and flicked her middle finger against the man’s forehead, knocking him out cold.

Kara stood there for a second, the sight almost comical, as she held dr. Benson’s unconscious body in the air with one hand while the other rested on her hip and she sheepishly looked around, waiting for someone to get the man off her hands. Lena’s chuckles slowly died out as Agent Vasquez took pity on the awkwardly waiting Superhero and took Cigarette away with the help of one of her colleagues. The humour was completely gone when Kara thanked Vasquez and headed for her direction, carefully sidestepping the agents that were directing the handcuffed Cadmus devotees towards the exit, but Lena didn’t look at any of them. She didn’t look back at Angela, she didn’t try to look where Brian had ended up, she only had eyes for the approaching Superhero and she stepped away from the concrete pillar to meet her halfway.

“Lena-”

“I didn’t mean it.”

The messily escaped words lacked Lena’s desired amount of dignity, and Kara looked slightly confused.

“What I said. I didn’t mean it. I think…” Lena shrugged, the heaviness of what could have been her last interaction with Kara seeming sillier than it had when she was about to die, but she felt it sitting on her chest anyway. “I think your musicals are perfectly tolerable.”

Kara sent her that megawatt smile of hers, looking as if she was restraining herself from enveloping her in an all-encompassing bear hug, glancing around at the large number of DEO agents mulling about as they handcuffed all the Cadmus members in the building, while she bounced almost unnoticeably up and down on her toes. “Good to know,” she settled on quietly, hands on her hips and that smile and those fond eyes of hers still used as weapons to cut straight into Lena’s heart.

They stayed silent for a few seconds, the many people around them going about their business while they just stood there and stared into each other’s eyes as a substitute for physical contact. “Thanks for the save,” Lena eventually muttered, trying to emphasize her affection through her smile.

“Good thing about having wings,” Kara smiled. “Even if you’re going through hell, I can come and get you anytime.”

Yeah, no, that was too much.

Lena threw caution to the wind and stepped closer, throwing her arms around her Kara. Around her beautiful, patient and caring Superhero of a Kara, hugging her as tightly and as freely as she wished she could have done since waking up next to her this morning. Kara’s grip was tighter than usual too, as if she had trouble containing her emotions. Or maybe it was just relief.

They were rudely reminded of their surroundings when someone loudly cleared their throat right beside them.

“Supergirl,” Alex pointedly said, looking partly amused and partly aggravated as Lena and Kara sheepishly put a little more space between each other. “Remember that talk about capes and professionalism?”

“Sure thing, agent Danvers,” Kara smiled a little too happily at her sister, who fondly shook her head. She took a moment to briefly look Lena over.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Alex said, even giving her a small smile, before she carried on with her business, leaving Lena to stand there slightly awkwardly with a Kryptonian beaming at her from a, let’s say, slightly more professional distance.

“Would you like to get out of here, Ms. Luthor?”

Lena smiled at the fond look on Kara’s face, probably very similar to the one she was sporting right now. “I thought you’d never ask, Supergirl.”

They both headed for the hole in the wall that Kara had left when she’d burst into the room, Kara falling into step next to her and apparently deciding that brushing shoulders while they walked was perfectly within the parameters of Alex-mandated professionalism. Lena carefully balanced her way through the smashed remains on her shoeless feet – her heels long lost somewhere in the chaos of the battle – and Kara took that as an excuse to steady her by taking hold of her arm. When they stepped outside, Lena immediately noticed both the vast and outstretched countryside, as well as the dark night sky. The whole place would have been illuminated by nothing more than moonlight if it weren’t for the four DEO vans parked right outside the breach in the wall; two of them shining their headlights down the side of the building and providing some visibility. And Lena realised with a jolt that they truly had to be quite a long way from National City and that she must have been unconscious for at least half the day.

“How long was I missing?” Lena frowned, Kara having reluctantly let go of her when a couple of agents passed them into the building while carrying stretchers.

“Way too long,” Kara sighed, giving her a look of both exhaustion and affection, and Lena had to refrain from reaching over and grabbing hold of her hand as they were now approaching the front of the building, several more DEO vans coming into view as well as a few police cars, many more of them approaching from the small dirt road.

One of the incoming police cars made a particularly sharp turn before sliding to a stop not too far from the two of them, and Maggie jumped out of it soon after. Lena frowned at the detective’s expression, the woman looking highly alarmed as she whipped her head from left to right, then took urgent and purposeful strides in their direction upon spotting them. Maggie jogged over on the last stretch, opening her mouth before she’d even come to a stop.

“Luthor, why the hell-”

“Ms. Luthor.” All three of their heads snapped to the side, all wearing equally wary expressions as they saw detective McConnell step up to them. “Are you alright?”

Lena had stiffened at the sight of the man but now she frowned, looking from Kara to Maggie and back, both of them looking about as flabbergasted as Lena felt. “I’m fine,” she answered carefully.

The man’s response was basically a nodding grunt, and then there was an uncomfortable silence. “I, uh… suppose I should apologise.” Now Lena truly had to do a double take, because she could have sworn Frank McConnell had implied giving her an apology. As she glanced to her side again, she noticed Kara looking suspicious, while Maggie looked at the man as if he’d just announced that she’d been selected for a beauty pageant. “I heard what happened here, and that the feds found Cadmus and its leader,” McConnell continued, ignoring his colleague’s bug-eyed expression. “So I’d like to apologise for your persistent position as number one suspect in the Cadmus investigation.”

Predictably, a stunned silence followed.

“Um… thank you,” Lena eventually forced out. She got another nod and another grunt in response. Detective McConnell briefly nodded at Supergirl, who still didn’t give him a very friendly look, before he started turning around and his eyes landed on Maggie.

“Stop staring at me, Saw-” the man cleared his throat, huffing through his nose as he gave her a displeased look. “I mean… detective Danvers.” He shook his head condescendingly one last time before he walked away, stepping into the direction of where the many police wagons were starting to park, probably getting ready to start loading in the many Cadmus goons they’d just apprehended.

“I can honestly say I didn’t see that coming.” Lena chuckled to herself, but the sound seemed to snap Maggie out of her shocked daze.

“What the hell are you laughing for, Luthor?! Why are you still here?!” Maggie’s panicked expression was right back where it was, and Lena frowned in confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

“Roulette!!” Maggie exclaimed. “You were supposed to go undercover, remember?!”

“Oh… Oh!” Lena’s eyes went wide, because amidst the whole fighting and near brush with death, she had completely forgotten about all that. Shit.

“Come on, get in the car, I’ll drive you to-”

“No, no, no way!” Kara protested. “I can fly her somewhere, it’s much safer.”

“It’s also way too conspicuous! If that woman still has other ghosts working for her, they’ll spot where you’re going in no time!”

“So I’ll go really fast!! Lena, tell her that… Lena?” Kara blinked and suspended her verbal tug of war with Maggie, looking over at the youngest Luthor.

“Luthor?” Maggie added, also looking concerned at Lena’s unresponsive staring into the distance. “What’s going on?”

Lena didn’t turn to look at either of them. She couldn’t possibly look away, opening and closing her mouth without any sound coming out, as she stared at the preposterous sight before her. She swallowed, shaking her head minutely but still unable to tear her eyes away from the ludicrous scene playing out in front of her. It was just too much, too inconceivable. She was still frozen from head to toe, looking straight ahead at the space between the few DEO vans and the building she’d just escaped, but she managed a whisper:

 

“It’s Roulette.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

December 18th 2008

 

The entire city of Seattle was covered in snow.

The unexpected chill that had fallen over the city was met with many a grumbled word and caused much delay of public transport. Everyone was affected by it one way or another, as some people couldn’t even get their cars out of the driveway and anyone who merely stepped out the door could immediately feel the cold envelop them, however many layers of clothing they might be wearing. Some delight came from it too, as on Wednesday students of all public schools were excused from attending class due to the weather. So yes, as the evening was starting to set in and the street lamps were starting to light up, in one way or another everyone was affected by the unexpected snowfall.

But it affected some more than others.

Right beside the very quiet and now almost invisible Lake Washington Boulevard E, taking cover from the snow under the Wilcox Footbridge, was a teenage girl who was affected by the snowfall to her very bones. She was wrapped up in an old blanket, one she’d found in a trash can a few days ago, while trying to control the shivers running through her body. She knew logically that falling asleep in a cold environment like this was a terrible idea. But her heavy eyelids were steadily fighting their way through every ounce of her willpower, her feet and her hands feeling more numb by the second as she sat there with her back against a pillar of the small bridge.

Since she was slowly drifting away into sleep and since she was now getting used to the slow rumbling of cars that occasionally drove by as slowly as was safe under these conditions, she didn’t pick up on the noise of a car coming to a full stop right in front of the bridge. Only when she heard footsteps trod closer through the snow, did her head snap up to attention. She was surprised to see a woman in a lavish fur coat step over the railing and stare across the snow-covered gap between the trees and plants on the side of the road. The woman let out a deep sigh, a disapproving look passing over a face that the girl was perplexed to find was equally beautiful as it was unsettling, somehow.

And once again, this city continues to disappoint,” the woman drawled, her voice low and gravelly as she shook her head at the scenery. She turned back around towards her car, then stopped midway upon spotting the young girl that was staring at her. “To my point,” the woman muttered to herself in an almost amused tone as she let her eyes trace her, the girl shifting uncomfortably in response. “Tell me, how does one begin to tolerate a place like Seattle?”

It was fairly apparent it was a rhetorical question, the woman already letting her eyes wander elsewhere, but the girl responded in a clipped tone, still enough pride in her to be offended at the condescension.

One makes due,” the girl forced through her clattering teeth.

The woman’s attention appeared recaptured. “It talks,” she stated bemusedly, and the girl scowled at her. “Does your wisdom extend beyond witty retorts?”

Depends on the subject,” the girl shot back, the irreverence always coming natural to her. The woman tilted her head, almost as if pleasantly surprised by the brash response.

How about the subject of real estate? Where would one go if they wanted to, say, build a… research facility. For extranormal analysis.”

Anywhere but Seattle. Don’t you know this is one of the most densely built cities in the country? There’s this thing called Google Maps, I suggest you start using it.” The girl momentarily revelled in the disapproving look the arrogant woman gave her, but then she realised something. “Extranormal… you’re talking about aliens, aren’t you?” Now the woman was clearly surprised, raising her eyebrows at the girl who hugged her blanket tighter. “You should go south and try National City. Apparently that place is full of those things.” The girl shivered, not only at the cold, but also at the memory of her father talking about the revolting creatures that dwelled over there.

But that was before.

Back when her father was still here.

You’re awfully articulate for a bottom feeder,” the woman’s gravelly voice pulled the girl out of her memories, a deep scowl overtaking the girl’s features as she looked the woman over.

I had a pristine education.”

Really?” the incredulous and condescending tone of the woman shone through.

Complications have since arisen,” the girl stated bitterly, swallowing as the sting in her heart reminded her of her parents.

Clearly,” the woman drawled, looking her up and down.

There was a pause, neither of them saying a word as they stood there under the bridge that protected them from the heavy snowfall and merely looked at each other. Then the woman suddenly stepped closer, bending down to put her face close to the girl’s, who would’ve recoiled if her bones weren’t stiff from the hours spent in this grizzly weather.

I’m Delores Winters,” the woman unexpectedly stated. “What is your name?”

The girl swallowed, because now that her face was this close, she could see that there was clearly something not quite right about the woman’s apparent beauty. Still, she lifted her chin, trying to muster an air of confidence like her stay at Whittaker’s Boarding School for Young Ladies had taught her to do.

It’s Veronica. Veronica Sinclair.”

The woman gave a crooked smile. It was very unsettling. “And there’s your first mistake.” The woman straightened back up, now towering over the confused girl. “Lesson number one. You never tell someone your real name.”

But…” a deep frown settled on the girl’s face, “you just told me yours.”

Who says that’s my real name?” The woman smirked down at Veronica, whose confusion only grew. “Can you stand up?”

Veronica hesitated, not wanting to lose the small amount of heat her body had left on the ground and on the stone pillar behind her, but the woman was looking at her expectantly, causing Veronica’s sense of pride to take the lead. She pushed herself off the wall, her stiff and cold legs betraying her as she stumbled onto her knees. She reached out her hand, almost as if looking for support that she clearly wasn’t going to get from the eccentric woman, and her hand ended up finding the wall again while she slowly pushed herself to her feet.

Lesson number two,” the woman drawled as Veronica steadied herself. “Don’t wait for someone to offer a helping hand. It’s what weak and apathetic people do.”

Veronica hugged herself, trying to force her teeth not to clatter too loudly while standing under the scrutinizing gaze of the woman known as Delores Winters.

There are several other lessons I could teach you,” the woman stated while turning back towards her car. Veronica stumbled after her but stopped short when the woman stepped out from under the protection of the bridge and into the snowfall. The woman opened the back door of the very large car that, judging by the figure visible at the wheel, was being driven for her. “I could use someone with above-average intelligence working for me for a change. If you’re interested?”

Veronica clutched her blanket around her shoulders and stared as the woman tilted her head towards the open door of the car, almost inviting her to step inside. Veronica shivered, wanting nothing more than to leave the sharp cold behind. To leave the hell that were the past eight months of lurking around restaurants and digging through their trash in search of a scrap of something that looked like it wouldn’t give her malaria. Leave behind the sharp sting of the December cold that felt like it was cutting into her like countless tiny knives, but never worse than tonight, the snow seemingly doubling nature’s efforts to drive her into either insanity or hypothermia.

But Veronica kept standing motionless for several seconds, hesitating to accept this offer. Several unsettling scenarios were going through her mind, ranging from unpaid manual labour to prostitution, but then the woman sighed and seemed to scan the area behind her.

Unless there’s other things you need to get back to?”

The woman gave her a sceptical look, but when Veronica didn’t react immediately she made a small disapproving sound and looked like she was about to close the door. To close the one and only exit out of this nightmare she was ever going to get. The blanket fell off her shoulders as Veronica dashed out from under the protection of the bridge, whimpering ungracefully while she stumbled through the ankle-high layer of snow and all but launched herself into the back of the car.

Warmth.

The heat of the car hit her senses like a truck. She inhaled sharply as if she was breathing for the very first time, pressing herself against the leather of the seat as she could already start to feel her hands and her feet again. It was an unpleasant tingling feeling, but she could feel them. She wasn’t going to lose her limbs to the cold tonight. Delores Winters seemed incredibly smug as she slid into the car next to her, not that Veronica could bring herself to care at this point. The woman tapped her nail against the partition and the car started moving.

Now,” the woman turned her full attention towards the girl. “Let’s see if we can find you a better name.”

 


 

 

July 15th 2014

 

Roulette. It’s about time you got here.”

Veronica sighed as she stepped into the back room of Delores’ beloved Endless Winter Clinic, facing the woman’s stern gaze as she crossed her arms.

All in all, Veronica had to admit that the past six years were nothing like the doom scenarios she’d once imagined as a clueless teenager. Yes, at the time she would’ve probably objected to venturing into grey areas of legality, but it’s not like they were dealing in duffel bags and getaway vans here. Their dealings involved people of the highest circles in National City; bankers, hedge fund managers, city council members and more. And it allowed Veronica to return to the life of wealth she’d been used to before.

Before everything had gone to hell.

The only real downside of the deal was this obnoxious obsession that Delores Winters seemed to have with aliens. Always spending countless resources on scouring the underbelly of the city for those things, always bragging about some new way she’d found to harness their power. Veronica had to admit that the special procedures of the Endless Winter Clinic – designed to imbue customers with whatever new power Delores had discovered in the aliens – did indeed account for a fair share of their cash flow, but that didn’t make the task of dealing with those creatures any less revolting.

I know you tend to forget, but I do keep certain parts of your operation running,” Veronica drawled, watching as Delores showed that familiar expression; the one that always made it seem like she was pleased with her brashness. “I can’t always drop everything whenever you feel like imparting some more wisdoms on me.”

I would say those wisdoms have served you well so far,” Delores mused in her low and gravelly voice as she stood up from her seat. “Knowledge is power, after all. Although… there are more interesting forms of power,” Delores showed a rare crooked smile as she let her hand trace the concrete wall of the small room. Veronica’s eyes widened when she noticed the odd colour of the woman’s arm, then her expression turned horrified as she watched the part of the wall that her hand had just touched freeze over.

You finally did it,” Veronica huffed in disgust. “You turned yourself into one of those things.”

Delores let out a slow laugh, something she rarely did, showing just how good her mood had to be right now as she marvelled at her own arm. “Dramatic as always, my dear Roulette. It wouldn’t hurt for you to get a similar power, you know?”

I’ll stick to the power of knowledge,” Veronica hissed, taking a step backwards from the hideous hand that Delores was proudly showing off. “If that’s all, then there are other things I need to get back to.”

Hold on,” the older woman’s voice stopped Veronica as she was about to walk away. “That’s not the only reason you’re here. Do you remember what you said last month? Something about aliens belonging in cages, where they could fight like the animals that they are?” Delores smiled at Veronica’s unimpressed nod. “I’ve decided that could be a venture worth exploring. An exclusive club where the wealthiest can come and watch aliens fight each other.”

Oh.” Veronica blinked, surprised but determined not to show it as she crossed her arms. “Good.”

I’m putting you in charge.”

I’m… really?” Veronica’s surprise shone through anyway.

Yes. It was your idea and I think it would be wise to test how you handle being responsible for a large enterprise.”

Veronica frowned in confusion.“How so?”

Well… I plan to thoroughly test this new power of mine,” Delores mused as she lifted her oddly coloured arm again. “And once I’m properly acquainted with it, I might have to leave for a while. And when that happens, I’d like you to be in charge of everything in my stead.”

Veronica squinted her eyes at the woman, a roaring in her chest clamouring for such an amount of power, but she tempered her expectations. “Where do you need to go?”

To another dimension, to settle a score with a bat.”

Right,” Veronica scoffed as she shook her head, because god forbid Delores Winters was left without a mystery or two to uphold. But just as she was about to walk out the door, the woman’s voice stopped her again.

Roulette.” Veronica paused, turning around to find an unusually pensive look on the woman’s face. “When I leave, I might be gone for quite a while. But if I’m still gone after three months… you should assume I’m not coming back.”

Veronica frowned, stunned at the seriousness in her voice, but Delores had already turned around and was waving her hand distractedly like she always did when she dismissed her. So Veronica turned and left the room, feeling confused about the curious end of their meeting.

 


 

 

September 13th 2016

 

Delores never came back.

Life without her was odd at first, sure, but grief? No, what Veronica felt was a lot more akin to excitement. It felt like the thrill of finally, for the first time in her life, not having to answer to anyone. Not to the headmaster of Whittaker’s, not to the unforgiving December cold, not to Delores Winters. Obviously, the very first thing she did was sell the Endless Winter Clinic. She technically still did business with them; selling them the mangled bodies of the aliens who didn’t survive her cage, but she could defer those tasks and have as little to do with the clinic as possible. She seriously considered letting someone else run her alien fight club as well, but she didn’t really want to leave behind the only thing she’d ever built all by herself, the venture growing into somewhat of a high society phenomenon over the past few years. Also, seeing those things in a cage where they belonged was somehow comforting, even if outside of these walls they were still free to roam the streets.

Veronica was rudely pulled out of her musings though, when she spotted an altercation happening at the back of her club, right behind the back of all the customers whose gazes were trained on the cage. She confidently strode over, motioning one of her guards to follow her as she stepped to the three men who were being disruptive.

What is going on here?”

The two men wearing expensive suits turned around, never letting go of the alien with the greyish-blue skin and frowned at the owner of the establishment. “He has a bad habit of not paying his debts,” the first man explained.

Oh, really?” Veronica remained impassive, as she lazily let her eyes go over the scene. “Well unfortunately for you, there is only one way to resolve conflict around here. So you can either step into my cage with your friend over here and give my guests what they paid for, or you can leave quietly before I have Darius break your arms for disturbing the atmosphere.”

The two men exchanged worried glances, noticing the large guard who was cracking his knuckles while standing behind the slim woman, before begrudgingly letting go of the alien. They seemed to whisper threats to him before they sulked off and as soon as they disappeared amongst the vast array of guests, the alien let out an exaggeratedly grand sigh of relief.

Oh, man,” he laughed nervously. “Phew… I thought I was done for.”

Veronica frowned at him. “I don’t remember hiring you.”

Well, I… I don’t work here…”

Throw him out.”

No, no, wait!!” the alien protested, already being grabbed at the collar by Darius. “If you throw me out, those two will kill me!!”

Which is my problem, because?” Veronica drawled annoyed.

Well, b- b- because… you’ll miss out on my… amazing skills.”

Veronica let her eyes go over the pathetic creature, assessing him thoroughly. “You truly believe you would last more than five seconds against my top fighters?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

I… I actually meant my skills as- as a dishwasher… and I’ve been known to fix things…”

Veronica rolled her eyes and was about to turn around, but Darius cleared his throat. “Ma’am,” his low voice rumbled, “we did actually lose our dishwasher yesterday. Tried his luck in the cage and failed. Miserably.”

Veronica sighed and let her eyes go over the frail, cowering creature, recognising that the odds of him doing the same were pretty slim. And as long as the unseemly being stayed behind the scenes, it wouldn’t be a problem. And if he caused trouble, then a good mauling always made for a solid opening bout.

Very well, then.”

Oh, thank you!” The alien sighed with relief, before stepping forward and stretching out his hand. “I’m Brian!”

Veronica’s features expressed nothing but disgust as she looked at the blue hand that was extended towards her, before giving Darius a pointed look. The security guard took the hint, as he promptly guided the dubious creature by the name of Brian to the kitchen.

 


 

 

September 17th 2016

 

Tonight, you will feast your eyes on the fiercest beasts of the galaxy. These brute warriors will collide in combat, for your entertainment only.”

Veronica riffed off another one of her introductions, the grand speeches always coming easy to her, but tonight she was distracted by something. Tonight, someone had let the creature that worked in the back out among her guests, as he appeared to collect empty champagne bottles and glasses from the bar. Veronica kept a wary eye on him as she carried on with her introductions, the alien doing his job innocuously enough. Then he picked up an abandoned glass that wasn’t completely empty. He sniffed the content. He glanced around, before swigging down the drink. And then he proceeded to cough and sputter as he gave an almost offended look at the glass that he’d just sipped from.

An interruption in her usually flawless speech. A twitch of her lips. An involuntary contraction of her diaphragm.

Roulette had almost laughed.

She schooled her features, refocusing on her introduction as if nothing had happened. She masked her surprise and her aggravation at almost getting distracted. But nonetheless, she couldn’t help following the creature with her eyes as he walked back to the obscurity where he was supposed to be. And as she finished her speech and stepped down from the podium, she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that made her wonder when exactly it happened last.

When was the last time she’d genuinely laughed?

 


 

 

January 10th 2017

 

Brian?”

Veronica stopped in her tracks, a clipboard clenched under her arm, as she saw the battered alien stumble around the corner of the alley, laying eyes on him for the first time since her fight club got shut down three months ago.

Oh… miss… miss Roulette…” he didn’t finish his thoughts as he crumpled to the floor with his back against a fence, shaking his head as if that would make things better. He blinked, seemingly trying to get the world back in to focus. “Come… come here often…?” He chuckled to himself before grimacing and holding his ribs. “You wouldn’t… happen to need a dishwasher again, would you?” he asked weakly, while still clutching his torso. “Those people they hire to shake me down just keep getting stronger.”

Have you considered actually paying your debts?” Veronica commented, glancing down her nose at the alien who now struggled to get back to his feet. “I would think that even the simplest of minds could come to that conclusion.”

Hmpf… you’ve never been poor, have you?”

I have.” The words were out of her mouth before she knew it, but she quickly recovered. “And in my experience, it’s only the weak and apathetic that manage to stay down and out.”

Right…” Brian didn’t seem to know what else to say, so he just awkwardly cleared his throat and moved to walk away.

How do you feel about working in recruitment?” Veronica found herself saying, and she passed it off as being tired of the menial work. After all, there was nothing strange about delegating. “Someone is looking for test subjects in a clinical trial,” she said offering her clipboard to the alien. “Think you can find strong and healthy people that wish to partake?”

Well… yes, sure I…” he blinked, looking between the clipboard and the woman, “…I mean… does it pay…”

I will pay you per person you manage to recruit.”

Oh, wow.” Brian laughed out loud, before groaning and clutching his ribs again, but his smile returned as he looked back up. “Thank you so much! This is the second time you’re getting me out of a mess! Just… thank you!” He extended his arm for a handshake.

Veronica’s fingers twitched, but as she kept looking at the outstretched blue hand, her disgust won out. Although she wasn’t quite sure what it was competing against.

Just try to stay out of trouble while you work for me,” she responded coolly.

 


 

 

May 13th 2017

 

Veronica grunted upon hitting the pavement, the security guard not being very subtle as he threw her out of the motel. She heaved with anger as she pulled herself to her feet and started walking the dark streets of National City; most street lights out of commission thanks to the Daxamite invasion. She bitterly glanced around as she kept walking, all those months that she’d dreamt of setting foot on planet earth again now seeming silly. Because after escaping from Slaver’s Moon, after miraculously being there to see the seemingly defunct portal light up, she’d actually made it back. Only to find out that she’d been presumed dead, and that all her money was gone. All of it.

Veronica sunk down to the filthy floor in a dark alley and held her head in her hands. After all those years… after her parents died when she was sixteen… after their lawyer absconded with all their money, forcing her to live on the streets… after vowing to never return to that pathetic and helpless state ever again… after promising herself that she would never stop in her quest for fortune… after attempting to amass as much money as she could for all those years… it was all gone. And here she was again. Alone, broke, and on the street. As if she was a freshly orphaned sixteen-year-old again.

Miss Roulette?”

Veronica lifted her head, finding a greyish-blue tinted alien holding a grocery bag and giving her a surprised look. She squinted her eyes at him. “Brian?”

Whoa… where have you been all this time?!” The alien actually moved closer, stepping in front of her, and Veronica just wished he’d go away. “You just disappeared on me! Not to mention you still owed me about a hundred…” he trailed off as he looked her up and down. “Oh… I guess… this isn’t a good time to talk about money, is it?”

It would appear fortune is a fickle mistress,” Veronica proclaimed with as much grandeur as she could muster in her current state. “So enjoy this ironic twist of fate while it lasts. Because it won’t last long. I can promise you that.” She lifted her chin, defying the world to throw her more adversity. For some reason, Brian kept looking at her with an unreadable expression.

You don’t have a place to stay, do you?”

Veronica’s look of defiance turned towards the alien. “And you enjoy rubbing it in?”

No, I just mean… you can stay at my place. My couch isn’t the worst.”

Defiance quickly turned to suspicion. “Why?” she asked slowly.

Well… because you helped me. Twice already.” He shrugged at her. “Now I can do the same for you.” He smiled nervously at her, white teeth a stark contrast to his blue skin as he extended his hand closer.

Veronica frowned as she looked at it. The helping hand she would’ve killed for when she was sixteen. The hand of an alien, the likes of which she’d watched collide in animalistic combat for years in order to ensure her wealth. A foreign quality to the other-worldly being that had always evoked disgust. For some reason, that feeling was nowhere to be found tonight. She extended her hand, clasping those alien fingers and allowing Brian to hoist her to her feet.

It was strange, she thought to herself.

The touch didn’t feel alien.

 


 

 

May 14th 2017

 

It’s a green bag?”

Military green,” Veronica corrected, rummaging through mostly empty lockers in the now abandoned building of her former fight club. “And a metal bio-hazard case.”

And what are in those things?” Brian questioned.

Just… merchandise.” Veronica groaned as she slammed locker number six shut and moved on to the next one. “If they’re still here, I can sell them and start over.”

You mean, do shady stuff again?”

Veronica paused, turning to the alien who had insisted on helping her, while putting her hands on her hips. “You sound awfully condescending for someone who keeps getting shaken down by questionable gentlemen.”

Hey, not anymore.” The alien wagged his finger, appearing proud of himself. “I managed to get out of most of it, thanks to the money from your clinical trial gig. Whatever happened to that, anyway?”

Veronica grimaced, her months of banishment on that desolate moon flashing through her mind. “It ended. The results were far from satisfactory.”

Huh. That’s a shame.” Brian turned over a trash can, coughing and spluttering as a huge amount of dust came tumbling out.

A twitch of her lips. Her abdominals acting of their own accord. And just like that, Veronica huffed out the tiniest of breathy laughs. The humour drained from her face immediately, but Brian simply smiled back at her.

Something tugged behind her chest.

Hey, don’t make fun of me,” Brian said, his smile still in place. “I’m trying to help here.”

Yes…” a frown slowly formed. “Why exactly is that?”

Well, I told you yesterday, didn’t I? You helped me when I needed it, so now I’m just returning the favour.” He turned around as he kept rummaging through the abandoned furniture. “I’ll help you carry your stuff to where you can sell it and then you can go back to making the name Roulette famous. Or, you know… infamous.” He chuckled to himself, as he casually returned to looking for the merchandise. He turned over more trash cans, opened a few lockers, not noticing the woman behind him just standing motionless for a few seconds.

It’s Veronica.”

Brian blinked in confusion as he turned back around. “What?”

My name…” she stepped closer, and if someone were to ask her what the hell she was doing right now, she wouldn’t have had an answer, “…it’s Veronica Sinclair.” This time, she was the one to extend her hand towards the alien, and Brian smiled at her as he shook it.

Yeah… still Brian.”

The soft laugh that went past Veronica’s lips was met with no resistance this time.

 


 

 

You feel the need to count it? I must say, you hurt my feelings.”

Veronica looked up from the cash in her hands to send the man with the slicked back hair a condescending look. “I believe you just did the same with my merchandise.” She pointedly looked at the table in between them where countless horns, claws, arms, and several other alien limbs were on display after the man and the grunts behind him had accounted for every last one of them.

Well…” the man gave a shrug, leaning back in his seat, “…we can’t have favouritism, now can we? Even if you did help our founder get started.”

I didn’t ask for any favouritism,” she replied disinterested as she returned to counting her money. “I merely-”

VERONICA!!”

The panicked scream outside the door made her immediately jump out of her seat. She had her knife out in a second, but in return she was met with the barrels of no less than five guns from the men behind the slick-haired dealer.

What did you do to my associate?” Veronica asked furiously.

Whoa, stand down,” the man gestured to Veronica, as well as his men. “We didn’t do anything-”

VERONICA!!” The door to the small back room swung open and Brian stumbled inside with a panicked look on his face. “THERE’S BODIES EVERYWHERE!! THEY CHOPPED THEM UP!! THEY KILLED…” his breath got caught in his throat, as he seemed to freeze in utter shock. He stared in disbelief at all the severed limbs on display on the table, right next to the green bag he’d carried all the way over here. He glanced between the grotesque collection and Veronica, before whimpering and tripping over his feet as he all but ran out of the room. There was an amused laugh behind her, probably from the slick-haired dealer whose name she’d already forgotten, but Veronica ignored it as she moved out of the room as gracefully as she could and clenched her fist around her money, eventually stepping out of the back door of the Endless Winter Clinic.

Brian!”

The alien was bent over, coughing and heaving over a puddle of vomit, but as soon as he heard his name being called, he instantly jumped away. “Stay back!”

Veronica halted, frowning at the shaking alien. “Are you out of your mind?” she reprimanded. “You can’t just risk messing up a transaction like that-”

You made me…” Brian whimpered hoarsely, “you made me carry them. Dead people… dead people’s bodies…”

Veronica’s frown grew deeper, as she shook her head. “You worked in my fight club,” she said with confusion in her voice. “You knew that some of them didn’t make it out of that cage. What the hell was I supposed to do? Leave valuable merchandise just laying around?”

Merchandise?!!” Brian spat incredulously, still shaking all over, while his left hand searched for the support of the wall again. “They… they’re not… those were people!” He kept looking at her with a mix of fear and accusation, and Veronica wasn’t sure why her chest suddenly felt like it was caving in. “They’re not… merchandise. They were real people!!”

They were aliens.”

The words were out before she realised the implications, and she had to watch as Brian seemed to go pale. The weight in her chest seemed to grow.

I… I didn’t mean…” she stepped forward, only causing Brian to stagger back, the total and utter fear now perfectly evident on his face.

Stay back!!” He whimpered as he kept staggering backwards. “I’m- I’m not ending up like that!! I’m not merchandise!! You’re not cutting me up and selling me like an animal!!”

Brian-”

Get away from me!!” He turned around, now actually starting to run away.

Veronica instinctively went to follow, but she tripped on the edge of her worn-out red dress and ended up on her hands and knees, as her money scattered over the dirty pavement. It felt like there was a hook behind her ribcage, trying to pull her towards Brian’s retreating figure. But as she planted one foot to stand back up, she saw a gust of wind take hold of her money. She saw the green paper start to whisk away from her. And in her mind there was a vivid image of a young girl crying herself to sleep under a bridge, hoping and praying that tomorrow she would be a little less cold or maybe a little less hungry.

And before Veronica knew it, she was on her knees again, frantically collecting her money before it would fly away from her. Before she ended up as weak and pathetic and helpless as she used to be. She grasped every last twenty-dollar bill off the floor, breathing heavily all the way. And she couldn’t help but wonder. She couldn’t help but wonder that if she was doing the sensible thing… if she wasn’t running after some random alien, instead of securing her future…

then why were there tears forming in her eyes?

 


 

 

May 27th 2017

 

She shouldn’t be here right now.

As she walked the streets of National City, Veronica knew that she would be safer in the run-down cheap motel she was staying at, but she just couldn’t help it. She’d seen the news on her small excuse for a TV a few minutes earlier, had watched the sight of every alien in town displaying symptoms of varying severity while that weight that had settled in her chest for the past two weeks grew heavier every passing moment. The many crumpled bodies in the street and all the people either walking unsteadily or being carried to the hospital were much more unsettling in person, though. And as she followed her feet towards the hospital, she didn’t even know what she hoped to accomplish.

Oof!”

Veronica stumbled sideways, finding that in her distraction she’d collided with somebody and that that somebody now stumbled into a pair of trash cans and tumbled over them, the trash and his flailing limbs both hitting the pavement. Veronica stood there frozen in place as she watched the alien man mumble apologies, slipping over the spilled trash and falling down all over again, while she didn’t move a muscle.

Because it was Brian.

Brian was right here.

Are you okay?!” Veronica found her tongue again and stepped closer.

Ha, yeah- yeah, I’m fine,” Brian rambled as he stumbled to his feet. “I just… I can’t see. One second I was fine and then… yeah…”

You can’t see?!” Veronica exclaimed, her concern refusing to remain hidden, as she grabbed him by his forearms, preventing him from tripping over the scattered trash all over the floor.

Yeah, I…” the alien man faltered as his eyes momentarily stopped wandering aimlessly from left to right and a frown formed on his face. “Do- do I know you?”

No,” she fired back immediately, lowering the register of her voice as she did so. “I- I don’t think so.” She swallowed nervously as Brian was now returning the grip on her forearms and tried to find a solution. “Maybe… maybe we should get you to the hospital?” she offered hopefully.

No, I- I already went there,” he rambled, still looking slightly dazed by his newly blinded state. “But they just left me to wait. And then there were more people coming in who were in worse shape than me, and people kept bumping into me left and right, so in the end I just left and now I- I don’t really know- know what-”

Alright, alright.” Veronica looked around at the general chaos, realising that this was one of those times that people could start taking advantage of mass panic. Hell, she’d done that herself a couple of times. So she decided it was better to get out of there. “Look, why- why don’t you come with me? We can… stay inside and wait this out, so that-”

No, no, I’m- I’m…” the man chuckled nervously as he tried to step away, only causing him to stumble over the trash and clasping Veronica’s arms tighter. That hook behind her ribcage was suddenly acting up again. “I’m sorry, but I- I don’t know you and… I don’t know if this is a good time to start trusting strangers,” he said, clearly nervous about the situation.

Yes, but…” Veronica looked around, desperately trying to figure out how to get the alien man away from any danger. “It’s not safe out here and… and you… I mean, I… I’m just trying to help,” she tried desperately. “Surely you too have done someone a favour before?”

Yeah, but…” he briefly hesitated. “Still, there’s the thing about trusting strangers,” he shrugged, not seeming too sure of his words. “I mean, sometimes you shouldn’t even trust people you know. Or that you think you know, anyway,” he trailed off, his mind seemingly elsewhere, and Veronica felt that accusation cut surprisingly deep. Her chest felt like it was caving in again and she was almost ready to let it out right there. It took her completely by surprise how overwhelming the urge was to just give in and start apologising for everything, even if ‘everything’ was how she’d managed to survive for the entirety of her adult life.

But before she could either give in or actively stop herself from doing something so stupid, the sound of a voice coming through a megaphone could suddenly be heard echoing through the streets.

THIS IS THE NATIONAL CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT! IF YOU HAVE SUDDENLY FALLEN ILL, DO NOT GO TO THE HOSPITAL; THEY HAVE REACHED THEIR MAXIMUM CAPACITY. PLEASE FOLLOW AN OFFICER TO THE POLICE STATION AND OUR MEDICAL STAFF WILL