Lena wakes to thunder.
It’s raining, of course; it’s rained relentlessly all week. When Lena was a child she would cower from the storms, cry under the stairs every time the thunder cracked until one day Lex told her she needn’t fear the storm when she could be it. Somehow it made sense to her as a child, and the mantra be the storm still brings her comfort even after everything.
Her alarm sounds again, and she swipes it off. She has a dozen new emails, a text from Jess verifying her schedule, and four texts from Kara.
Kara Danvers [6:45 AM]
Excited for your speech! You’re gonna do great!
Kara Danvers [6:47 AM]
I’ll be front row! The blonde girl in the blue button up with a yellow cardigan!
Kara Danvers [6:47 AM]
Idk why I said that you know what I look like
Kara Danvers [6:47 AM]
Anyway, excited!! See you soon!
It takes nearly five minutes to finally suppress the happy little smile she gets reading that.
Aside from that her day is like every other, the monotonous reliability a comfort more than anything - she’s had such an explosive life that she feels indulgent in the mundane.
She leaves her home and walks the two blocks to L Corp, her two security guards following at an appropriate distance. She buys a coffee from the small family run stand that she frequents each day - her guard Phil always sipping it first just to be safe.
“You be safe today, Miss Lena,” the man says as he finishes preparing her coffee, “I feel a bad storm coming, worse than this.”
Lena looks up at the sky - still gloomy, yes, but with less cloud coverage and rain. The weather report said it would all likely clear by noon.
“I dunno, Willy. I feel like it’s all about to get better.”
She tips a hundred dollar bill and continues on her walk to work.
On the corner of their block she spots the woman she sees every day. At first she thought she was homeless, but some private investigating revealed that she lived just around the corner in the last rent controlled apartments in this borough. L Corp had tried to buy them out last year but the landlord refused. The old woman had lived there alone for ten years, and every day since moving to National City Lena had seen her here. She sits in the shade in her wheelchair with nothing but a large cardboard sign, which always says something absurd and nearly unintelligible. Today it reads: DUCKS ARE COMING HOME. Lena smiles softly at her as she approaches.
“Good morning,” she says. The woman squints up at her from behind dark sunglasses, her eyes never fully focusing on Lena’s face. “How are you?”
The old woman responds as she always does: with a garbled string of nonsense dribbled out from a toothless mouth. Lena has sent multiple caregivers to the woman’s dingy apartment, tried to have her taken to the doctor for dentures or vision checks. All of her efforts have been loudly and angrily refused. The only thing the woman will allow is this brief, daily one-sided conversation and exchange.
“It’s going to rain a little more today, can I give you this?” Lena asks, reaching back towards her other guard - Tom - who hands her a large L Corp umbrella. The woman mutters something incomprehensible and nods, so Lena opens it up and helps place it in such a way that it can shade the woman from the rain or sun.
“There we go,” she says, “Well, I have to go but it’s been wonderful to see you. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
And like always she grabs the woman’s hands in her own and subtly places a hundred dollar bill in her palm. And like always, the woman grips her hands tightly and accepts it, garbling out her goodbyes.
Lena finally heads into the office.
There are hardly any notes for her, though, so in no time she’s headed back down to the street for her presentation. The stage for her speech is set up in the park just beside L Corp, and she’s excited to see there’s a decently sized crowd. They’re announcing their new initiatives for this upcoming year - including an expansion of the Luthor Children’s Home that includes a division focused on alien youths. It’s a testament of the positive changes they’ve made over this year and Lena is excited to share it.
She’s stopped by Supergirl floating down in that graceful way of hers to say hello.
“Thank you again for volunteering your time, Supergirl,” she says, shaking the woman’s hand.
“Of course. You know I’m always here to help.”
And she does know, and it’s such an amazing thing. It’s always a relief to know she has someone like Supergirl in her corner, and when she walks on to stage ten minutes later she sees Kara, blue button up and cardigan under a shining smile. Two very different women in her life supporting her in such significant ways. It’s a nice feeling, and Lena’s thankful for it.
After a few brief introductions, she steps up to the podium to speak.
“I believe in this city,” she begins just as the world explodes.
The force of it throws her forward and through her podium. Everything is burning, she might be burning, although she can’t think much beyond the smoke around her and the ringing in her ears. Her face is pressed down into muck and from her position she can just make out the flaming remains of the stage, the L Corp logo melting down its slabs.
She blinks repeatedly, trying to clear the dust from her watering eyes, tries to wipe it away with hands that won’t seem to listen. Nothing hurts, not yet at least, but she can’t make herself move. Then the world is spinning and she’s greeted with the most welcome sight: Kara, crouching over her, dirty but alive.
“I’m so glad you're okay,” she wants to say, tries to say, but she’s barely getting air into her lungs as is and her body doesn’t want her using any of it elsewhere. Kara is saying words she cannot hear above the ringing and she keeps looking at Lena’s chest in horror. Lena tries to lean forward a bit to see what she’s so worried about, but Kara pushes her back down.
The ringing really is quite loud; Lena would much rather listen to the panicked sounds of Kara’s voice than the continual hum of what is likely some level of hearing loss. Her fingertips feel numb.
Kara presses her hand to Lena’s chest though she can’t feel it, and when she pulls her hand back Lena can see it’s covered in blood.
Ah. That explains the panic.
Another explosion hits, and Kara falls forward over Lena protectively. A deep stinging sensation has begun to creep into the buzzing silence. Her eyes roll a bit, uncooperative, and that is when she catches sight of the heavily armed man skulking their way.
Lena feels, appropriately enough, all the blood drain from her face at once, and she tries in vain to push Kara away, to scream, to make any sort of sound or movement aside from a frantic glance back and forth. Somehow Kara understands to look, and her entire body seems to tighten up at the sight. Yet instead of running like Lena so dearly wanted her to do, the foolish girl stands as if to shield Lena from her assassin.
Lena is fading so fast - she can feel it in every small wheeze that hits her lungs - and oh god, she can’t watch Kara die. Kara dying in front of her would be the ultimate hell. Maybe that’s it. Maybe she’s already dead and this is her torturous afterlife where she will spend eternity reliving this nightmare.
Lena can see the man lifting the rifle and she can feel the animalistic scream that tears from her throat. She sees her dear Kara blocking her with her own body like she’s not already dead, like she’s worth sacrificing it all for, and Lena thinks she may still be screaming when the shooter fires his rapid burst. She knows she’s silent when Kara is still there unmoved, unfazed.
Maybe this really is her death dream, because Kara is still very much alive as she stalks over to the gunman and flings him away like he’s weightless, twists his gun into a bow. She turns back to look at Lena, and it becomes abundantly clear that the shooter did hit her - with many rounds, in fact, as her shirt hangs in tattered shreds and the floor sits littered with crumbled bullets. And there where blood should be there is blue, the red on her chest only from that iconic symbol.
Lena closes her eyes and laughs a blood-thick laugh, coughs, barely feels the tears that drip down into the mud she is dying in.
Kara Danvers is Supergirl.
thank god thank god thank god
Lena can die now. It hits her all at once, this acceptance. There is this moment of realization, when you’re at the end, of what’s really important, and Lena knows now that that which matters most will be safe. Even at the hardest moments, it’ll make it through. It’s bulletproof.
Someone is touching her, she realizes, though the touch feels miles away. Kara is there, beautiful Kara, and she’s crying and her tears are dropping on to Lena’s face and Lena wants to tell her it’s okay, everything is okay now because Kara is Supergirl.
She’s a superhero.
Kara is yelling, pleading, pawing at the body that’s no longer hers. The dark is engulfing her now, and it’s warm and quiet and she’s so, so happy. What a balm it is to know that her love will be safe without her. How lucky is she, to love a thing death cannot touch.
Lena wakes to thunder.
It’s raining, of course; it’s rained relentlessly all week. When Lena was a child she would cower from the storms, cry under the stairs every time the thunder cracked until one day Lex told her she need not fear the storm when she could be it. Somehow it made sense to her as a child, and the mantra be the storm still brings her comfort even after everything.
Her alarm sounds again, and she swipes it off. She has a dozen new emails and a text from Jess verifying her schedule.
She sighs, cracks her neck, and sends Jess a reply. She has a speech today at nine and four back-to-back meetings, but maybe she can drop the last one to get lunch with Kara. Surely she deserves a break.
Hey! Want to get lunch after my speech today? she texts.
The reply is nearly instantaneous.
Kara Danvers [6:47 AM]
Is this supposed to be funny?
Kara Danvers [6:47 AM]
All at once she feels the air snatch from her lungs. A million reasons why Kara might be angry with her scroll like a newsfeed through her brain. Panic begins to bubble below the surface and she knows she has to address it now before it really hits, so she presses the call button and prays Kara answers. She does.
“Who the hell is this?” Kara snaps in lieu of a greeting, “and how did you get her phone?”
“Kara?” Lena asks, voice small.
Four seconds later:
“…Is this a prank?”
Kara’s voice sounds so on edge, so hurt, and Lena wants nothing more than to take the pain away.
“Kara, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I- I’m sorry if I upset you, I don’t-”
There’s a sudden loud banging at her door that shocks her so much she drops the phone. Whoever is out there is hitting hard enough to rattle the wall, and against her better judgment she goes to look through the peep hole to see who might come blasting in.
She sees the frantic, sweating face of her best friend.
The lock has barely clicked off when the door bursts open and she has her arms full of a sobbing Kara.
She clutches Lena’s face like it’s sacred and Lena has never felt more confused in her life.
“Oh my god,” she’s saying again and again, a mantra wetly pressed into Lena’s hair, “I can’t believe it. You’re really here.”
Lena’s never been good at physical contact - Kara’s always been the one to guide them through the physical sides of their friendship - but she does her best to pet her hair in a comforting way.
“I’m here most weekdays,” she jokes. Kara barely acknowledges it, too focused on running her hands over every part of Lena she can reach.
“Look at you,” she says, clutching Lena’s face in her hands again, now smushing her cheeks together, “Am I dreaming?”
“If one of us is dreaming I’m pretty sure it’s me,” Lena mumbles.
Kara is looking at her with such an intense affection she feels like she might melt into the floor. Combined with the touching and Lena feels about ready to collapse.
“Um, Kara. What is happening right now?”
Kara pulls back at that, her joyous expression quickly shifting into solemn stone.
“Lena,” she says slowly, “you died yesterday.”
Lena just blinks.
“Oh. Well, no one informed me.”
She tries to get a smile out of Kara, but she just looks devastated.
“I’m serious. Someone killed you yesterday. I watched you die.”
It’s becoming less amusing every second. Tears are welling up in Kara’s eyes and instinctively Lena moves to hug her, pull her close against her. Kara clings to her so tightly it’s almost painful. She’s shaking. Lena is suddenly terrified.
“I don’t know what to tell you, sweetheart. I’m okay! I’m right here, it’s okay. It was just a dream.”
Kara shakes her head, presses her face against Lena’s neck.
“It wasn’t a dream,” she mumbles. “It was real. I felt it. All of it.”
Lena guides her over to the couch and lets her curl around and on top of her.
“Tell you what. I can have Jess reschedule some of my later meetings today so that we can spend some time together, maybe have a spa day. My speech should be over by ten at the latest so if you want we can spend all day together.”
Kara yanks away from her suddenly.
“Speech? The park speech on Wednesday?”
“Yes Kara, that’s today.”
“That was yesterday. You died during your speech! Lena, you can’t go! You have to stay home!”
“Kara I can’t just-”
“That’s where you die! There’s a bomb under the stage and it kills you.”
Lena has never seen such sorrow on Kara’s face before and all she wants is to make it go away.
“I can have my people check the stage and remove the bomb. If someone is trying to kill me then we can tell Supergirl. It’ll be okay.”
Kara is just shaking her heads, tears starting again.
“There were two bombs, the first one killed you,” Kara says like the words are sweetgum balls forcing their way through her throat. “There’s also a gunman who set the bombs off I think. I’m not sure, so much was happening and you,” her voice catches, “you were-”
Lena pulls her into another hug, lets her cling to her tight.
“Well I’m alive now, and we have your knowledge to prevent it.”
Kara nods, hiccups tearfully.
“You believe me, right?” she asks.
Lena isn’t sure that she does, honestly. But she knows Kara, and she’s never seen Kara this upset before. Even if she doesn’t believe, Kara certainly does, and that’s enough for Lena.
“Absolutely,” she says, and for the first time all morning Kara smiles.
Kara insists on escorting her to work along with Tom and Phil, which flusters Lena quite a bit.
There’s something about having Kara so attentive, her hand pressing at her lower back and her eyes so intense every time they meet - it’s flattering the parts of Lena’s heart she generally tries to ignore.
Lena picks up her coffee from her usual stand while Kara glares daggers at Willy. Lena barely has time to finish paying before Kara’s dragging her away.
“You be safe today, Miss Lena,” he calls after them. “A storm is coming.”
Kara pulls Lena even closer, causing a deeper blush.
“What the hell does that mean?” she whispers, “Was that a threat?”
Lena puts on her most serious face.
“Possibly. Do you think he can control the weather? Maybe he’ll send a flood after me.”
Kara blushes now, pouting.
“We can’t be too careful,” she mumbles, and Lena just smiles.
They approach the old woman who always sits on the curb, and Lena makes to go talk to her but is stopped by Kara’s firm grip.
“Kara, I know this woman. I talk to her every day, she’s fine.”
The old woman had lived there alone for ten years, and every day since moving to National City Lena had seen her here. She sits in the shade in her wheelchair with nothing but a large cardboard sign, which always says something absurd and nearly unintelligible. Today it reads: I’VE BEEN TRYING TO REACH YOU in its typical scrawled letters.
Kara ignores her, though, and continues to drag her away.
“You’re right, you talk to her every day. You have a routine and someone wanting to kill you knows that. We have to break you from your routine until we know you’re safe.”
Lena glances back at her, uncertain.
“Plus you being near her could get her hurt,” Kara says quietly.
Lena would never forgive herself if she got hurt because of her. She makes a mental note to bring her two hundred dollars tomorrow.
“Has anyone heard from Supergirl?” Lena asks as soon as they reach the park. Her various assistants all check their tablets, no one giving her an answer. Kara shifts awkwardly then says,
“Oh, I talked to her before I came here. She’s already on the lookout trying to find the gunman.”
“Smart. Good thinking, Kara.”
Kara gives her a pained smile.
Turns out there is a bomb. They send someone under the stage from behind, likely through the same small entrance the assassin used to plant it. It takes about five painful minutes of stalling but they manage to remove the trigger connection. It’s still a bomb, but it can’t be set off remotely. They leave two guards below to stay with it until after the speech.
She has people searching for the other bomb, and the gunman still hasn’t been identified yet, but it’s nearly nine and Lena knows she can’t stall much longer.
“What if he knows we’re on to him and sets the bomb off before we find it?” she defends against Kara’s exacerbated arguments. “We have to continue on as if we don’t know what’s coming.”
Kara hates it, of course, but she still hasn’t quite learned how to say no to an insistent Lena so in no time she’s up there on the stage, smiling out at the crowd. Always a Luthor, Lena keeps her nerves from showing as she takes a measured breath. The first bomb should trigger at the start of her speech, according to Kara. Once it doesn’t trigger, the second bomb will likely go off. They are able to delay it just a bit longer, though, as they claim technical difficulties with the microphones. This buys them an additional two minutes. Just as Lena is about to accept her fate and begin, a voice in her earpiece lets her know the bomb has been found and deactivated.
“We’re clear,” the voice in her earpiece says. No sign of the gunman yet, but that’s fine.
Lena smiles and begins.
“I believe in this city,” she says, then pauses for a breath.
No explosion. Her eyes dart to Kara who gives her a stern-faced thumbs up.
“And I believe in every one of you. I believe we all have within us the potential to change our world for the better. Working these past-”
Her words are cut off when a portion of the audience explodes.
It’s a relatively small blast, considering, but it hit the crowd standing there and blasted outward with a force that shakes the stage. Immediately there is chaos, screams and moans and visuals that Lena can hardly process, when she’s yanked down and back by Kara.
“You have to go,” Kara yells over the sounds of screams, “Take her somewhere safe!”
She all but shoves Lena into the arms of her security guard before leaping back into the chaos.
Lena struggles against him, yells after Kara, but the man is significantly stronger than her and has no issues carrying her back behind the stage.
“We gotta go, Miss Luthor,” Tom says, flanked behind by Phil guarding from the rear.
“I need to get to Kara,” she insists again, still struggling.
Tom ignores her and instead talks into his earpiece in coded words she only half hears over the chaos. They enter the L Corp building through a side entrance and lock themselves away in a secured room. Tom and Phil stand at the entrance, each chattering away on their comms, and Lena wants to scream.
She can still see the explosion. The wave of bodies, parts, debris flying out. Those deaths are on her, just like every Luthor death is. Another name on a long list of failures she carries in her heart.
And Kara ran towards the death while Lena was dragged away.
“I want someone sent into the crowd to recover Kara Danvers,” she orders, grabbing at Phil’s arm. “I want that happening now.”
Phil nods and turns away to place the call.
Tom is focused solely on his earpiece, nodding at something before quietly saying, “Understood.”
He then turns and shoots Phil twice in the head.
Lena can’t help the blood curdling scream she lets out at the sight, a scream that continues as Tom turns the weapon towards her.
“It’s nothing personal, ma’am,” he says, a hint of regret in his voice. “It’s for the good of the cause.”
Two things happen at once: the nearly impenetrable door behind Tom blasts from its hinges and hits him with enough force to break the bones in his back, and he fires his weapon. It still hits, of course. All of Lena’s security guards are the best of the best - their shots always land.
It knocks her backwards with a surprising amount of force, toppling her over the table she’d been leaned against. Standing in the doorway she sees Supergirl, blood on her face and anguish in her eyes.
Lena hears her name screeched and knows instantly that it’s Kara, that she is the only one who could ever sound like that at the sight of Lena dying. Yet its Supergirl at her side now, Supergirl pulling her close and pressing on the gunshot wound. It’s Supergirl and it isn’t, and Lena really would laugh if she weren’t so focused on breathing because of course this would be the final twist before her end. Of course the person she trusts most has been lying all along.
And of course it’s good, wonderful Kara who puts on a cape and protects. As much as their power and alien nature scares Lena, knowing Kara is a super gives her such a deep sense of relief. Everything really will be okay. No one can really hurt Kara, not if she’s Kryptonian, and there is no one in the universe Lena would trust more with that level of power than her.
“I’m so glad,” Lena says through a smear of blood, “that it’s you, Kara.” She needs her to know that. She needs Kara to know how deeply Lena believes in her.
Supergirl - Kara - just holds her tighter, but already feeling has begun seeping out of her like the steadily growing pools of red surrounding her. Everything is numb, and her ears are starting to ring and her eyes beginning to fade, and Lena uses the last of her strength to focus on Kara’s words. She lets them wash over her, lets herself flow with them.
“I’ve got you, Lena, I’ve got you. You’re gonna be okay, do you hear me? I’m gonna fix this, I’m gonna fix all of this, I promise! I’m-”
Lena fades away.
Lena wakes to thunder and the harsh buzzing of her phone.
It’s Kara calling. She glances at the time [6:40 AM] before hesitantly answering.
“I’m coming to your house,” Kara says, “we need to talk.”
There’s something heavy in her tone that Lena’s never heard before and she’s immediately on edge. Lena nervously prepares for her day, only just managing to get dressed fully before there’s a hard knocking at her door. Hesitantly, she lets her in.
Kara has never looked so serious before. Never looked so scared.
“Okay, so,” she’s pacing, ringing her hands, “I’m going to tell you some things that are going to sound crazy, but I’m telling you the truth.”
Lena nods slowly, carefully, feeling like she’s facing off with a wild animal debating fight-or-flight.
“So… I am stuck in today. Like, I keep reliving this same exact day over and over again.”
Lena blinks, wonders if she’s sure she’s awake.
“I don’t understand.”
Kara looks pained as she says, “You die today, Lena. I’ve watched you die twice now and I haven’t been able to stop it. But every day I wake up and it’s today again and I get another shot.”
Kara was right. It does sound crazy, absolutely.
But Lena has always believed beyond her own understanding, and they do live in a world with aliens and alternate realities. Who is to say what is and isn’t possible? And if there were ever someone Lena would trust in the impossible it’s Kara Danvers.
“Okay,” she says slowly, “tell me everything.”
So Kara does.
Every morning Lena does her speech.
Bombs will go off, even if they defuse the two bombs they know of for sure.
Lena dies in Kara’s arms.
Kara spends the day rescuing the injured and fighting fires caused by the bombs.
Kara goes home and cries herself to sleep.
Kara wakes up and it’s Wednesday morning again.
Lena is unfazed by news of her upcoming death - a young death is an inevitability at this point - but her heart aches at the thought of Kara suffering alone. So instead of dwelling she tries to be proactive, focusing on a potential list of killers.
The list is stupidly long.
“Do we know who’s killing me?”
Kara continues to pace and if Lena didn’t know better she’d swear her friend was leaving grooves where she walks.
“No! I know there are at least two bombs, but last cycle we disabled them and they threw a grenade into the crowd instead.” Lena closes her eyes, shuddering at the thought. So many casualties. “I know where two of the bombs are, though. Oh, and some of your security detail is in on it. Your bodyguard Tom, he killed you the last loop.”
Tom has worked for her for three years. He’s been with her since before Lex’s downfall.
Lena tries not to dwell.
“Okay. So we take care of Tom, the bombs, and the gunman before my speech begins. That should be easy enough.”
“Lena, I just told you that there are a bunch of things one after another trying to kill you at this speech. The lesson here is that you can’t do the speech!”
“Kara, don’t be ridiculous. I’ve faced much worse threats than this-”
“This threat has literally murdered you twice already!”
“— and I’m not going to just roll over and let these assholes win. The presentation is going to happen. We can fix this, I know we can. Is there any way you can get me in contact with Supergirl?”
Kara looks at her with such exhausted affection that Lena knows the yes is coming long before she grumbles it out.
They don’t have much time to prepare, but they have access to Supergirl’s shadow organization and Lena’s literal billions of dollars and thus able to make some hopefully life saving changes.
Tom is arrested before Lena even steps into her apartment lobby, leaving behind a very confused Phil.
“You’ll be getting a raise this month,” Lena tells him. “as a thank you for your service.”
He’s confused but happy, which is much better than their previous timeline.
Lena still walks to the coffee cart because “she has a death wish” according to Alex Danvers, the agent assigned to escort her while Supergirl and her team work to death-proof her press meeting.
She still visits the old woman at the corner whom she sees every day. It’s a bit rainy, so Lena offers her an umbrella.
Strangely, the woman nearly leaps at her from her wheelchair, gripping at her hands tightly as she slides her the hundred dollar bill she gives every day. She speaks to her fast in that incomprehensible language of hers. Lena makes another mental note to try and con her into going to a dentist or at least a general physician. Lena grips her back firmly and tells her to have a wonderful day, but she doesn’t seem to want Lena to go. It’s only when Alex gets nervous by the whole display that they leave.
“She’s harmless,” Lena fusses as she’s manhandled away. Alex just stares back at the woman, shaking her head.
“We don’t know that. There’s definitely something off about her, you gotta admit. And what was with that sign?”
Lena glances back at the woman who still sits there as always on the corner with today’s cardboard sign, which reads: GRAB ME SOON I NEED IT
“It gives her something, making those signs. Maybe it’s not for us to understand.”
Alex just rolls her eyes and drags her away.
The FBI force her to shut her presentation down, much to her chagrin, though they do let her come out to the platform to see the bombs that have ended her life before.
They’re sophisticated. Professional. Whoever is killing her is legitimate, that’s for sure.
Winn (who apparently also works for the FBI with Alex Danvers. Interesting.) emerges from behind the stage holding a small device.
“I heard you wanted to see your death machine,” Winn says, grinning a bit. Trust him to be joking during a crisis. Lena appreciates that about him. “Here’s the detonator. We dismantled the bombs so it should be fine to mess around with.”
She knows the second she has it in her hands that it’s not fine. Dread drips down her chest, her hands nearly shaking as she examines it.
“Winn, it’s not programmed to set off three bombs,” she says, voice heavy. “It’s set for thirty eight. Thirty five bombs are still active and set to blow.”
They both fall silent in a subdued horror, staring at one another as the weight of what they’re actually facing begins to hit them.
Then Winn’s eyes dart suddenly from her eyes to her forehead, and he frowns.
“Lena, you got a little dot on your face,” Winn says, gesturing towards her forehead. Lena wipes at it absently, then notices the horror on his face.
“Oh my god, Lena-” Winn just manages to say before it all goes black.
Lena doesn’t even feel the sniper bullet hit its mark.
Lena wakes to Supergirl crashing through her window, thunder rolling just moments after.
She falls out of the bed hard, scoots back to the wall in fear as the Kryptonian stalks towards her.
“Su-Supergirl,” she stutters out, her voice trailing into a scream as she tries uselessly to fight away the alien’s arms. It’s like trying to fight the ocean, though, and effortlessly Supergirl scoops her up into a tight hold.
“I’m not letting you die because you’re too proud to cancel a stupid speech,” Supergirl says, like that statement should make any sort of sense, and before she can respond they are hurtling through the air at speeds that make her bones creak.
What may be seconds or hours later they stop, and Lena collapses into snow to vomit up what little food is left in her stomach from the night before. She’s shaking violently from the sudden travel and her thin silk top and shorts aren’t helping against the foot deep snow she is now sprawled in.
Supergirl looks apologetic at least, scooping her up quickly again and wrapping her in her cape.
“I know you have a million questions,” she says. Lena does, of course, but her teeth are clanking so violently against one another she can barely formulate a hum. Supergirl carries her in to what seems to be some vast ice cavern, placing her gently on a freezing metal table. She watches as the superhero hurries about, pressing buttons and activating technology Lena’s never seen on this planet before.
Suddenly, the room warms. Whatever it is Supergirl has done has made Lena’s entire body feel heated all at once, and just like that the chattering and shivers stop.
“Kelex,” Supergirl calls, and some sort of robot device flies from around the corner.
“Yes, Kara Zor-El?” it says, and Supergirl gives her an alarmed side look.
“Take care of her until I return. Do whatever she asks but don’t let her leave.”
And before Lena can respond, she’s gone.
Kelex makes her food and produces strange clothes made with fabrics that slide across her skin like butter. He lets her have access to the internet, but takes away her ability to share any information on it.
[“Kara Zor-el forbade you leave, Lena Luthor. This includes the departure of your digital information.”]
He tunes his massive screen into the National City news for her. She watches from thousands of miles away as her city burns.
There are bombs going off all over the city. News reports say two bombs were found under her presentation stage and deactivated, but within an hour of her cancelled speech thirty-six bombs went off as if set to a timer - one every thirty minutes. All went off at locations affiliated with L Corp or the Luthors in general, five of which were her children’s outreach houses.
At least 200 children were confirmed among the dead, though with the critical injuries the number is likely to increase.
Lena curls up into a ball in the corner of her ice prison and cries herself to sleep.
Lena wakes to thunder, followed shortly by a blaring buzz that sets her hair on end.
It’s her emergency ringtone that only sounds when shit has hit the fan.
“What’s happened?” she answers, voice thick from sleep. Her brain is still catching up but her body’s already half out of bed, pulling a skirt on over sleep shorts.
“Fourteen bomb threats were called in this morning at the Luthor hospital, plus all eleven children’s homes. We’ve managed to investigate three so far and found enough explosives to blow the entire city block. The children are being evacuated as we speak, but we don’t know if it’s set to a timer or how long we have.”
“I want every child safe. That is top priority. Do we know who called it in?”
“We’re working on it. I should have a name for you soon. I’ll let you know.”
Lena hangs up and prepares for her day quickly, with a single minded focus. She’s just stepping out the door when her phone buzzes with a text from her head security advisor:
Jay [6:53 AM]
She has to wipe at her eyes to make sure she’s reading it right.
After another moment of staring she calls Kara. It goes straight to voicemail.
“Kara,” she says, trying to keep her voice even, “I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but I’m very worried right now. Please call me back as soon as you get this.”
Another text from security comes in:
Jay [6:55 AM]
bring in caller?
She responds immediately:
Negative. Focus on evacuation, do not identify to police do not pursue.
She calls Kara four more times during her journey to the lobby, twice more while she watches the police arrest her personal security guard and escort her to her bulletproof van idling outside. Once more as they pull into the secured parking deck of her corporation and she gets to walk fully into the chaos.
“Miss Luthor,” Jess yells out as she meets her in the lobby. “I have an update for you if you’re ready.”
Lena sighs and stands a little straighter.
“Let’s go,” she says, and forgets about Kara for a little while.
They manage to get every person out before the first bomb goes off.
Structural damage is massive, but so far no casualties.
Kara still won’t answer her phone.
By noon the news is reporting the capture of ten terrorists believed to be behind the synchronized attack on her company. The newscaster remarks on how thankful the city is for Supergirl, who has worked tirelessly all day stripping the city of bombs.
Kara never showed up to work today. James hasn’t heard from her, either. She put out a request for Alex Danvers’ phone number and discovered all records of her to be unlisted.
Ten minutes later her personal investigator gives her a number.
Alex doesn’t answer.
It’s late in the day when there’s a knock at her door.
“Miss Luthor, I have the numbers on today,” the man says as he enters her office.
And it’s not because she doesn’t recognize him, as there are many people within her organization she doesn’t know by face, nor is it because of the nervous way he glances around like he fears any moment someone may burst in and attack them.
No, what tips her off is the absolute silence she hears from the office outside her door. No keys clicking away, no huffs from Jess as yet another person comes in to talk to her boss.
She has her taser out and firing before he even finishes placing the paper on her desk.
He’s ready for it, instead knocking it away with one hand while grabbing at her arm with the other. She lands a solid hit to his nose that rewards her with a satisfying crack and she even manages to worm her way out of his arms and into the lobby.
Barely a moment passes between her spotting the blood pooling out from beneath her secretary’s desk and the ice cold feel of metal slicing into her back.
There is no stopping the scream she lets out as the first stab bleeds into a second, third, and fourth. She collapses forward against the desk, dragging papers with her as she falls. At this angle on the floor she can nearly make eye contact with Jess, her watering eyes almost meeting the poor girl’s lifeless ones. The man grabs her leg and drags her back into her own office and Lena screams again in pain, clinging at the bloody carpet beneath her.
There’s nothing she can do, though, and it’s almost a relief when the man yanks her head back and presses the knife to her throat.
Then suddenly there’s a sizzling scream above her and she feels an immense heat overhead.
The man falls forward, on to her, the knife slicing at her throat superficially before falling away. She can see his head scorched over completely and still smoking. She doesn’t have the energy to scream anymore.
She’s rolled over by what she expects to be some sort of fire breathing monster only to discover it’s-
“Kara?” she croaks out, words wet from the blood that’s begun to fill her mouth.
It’s Kara crouching over he wearing a soft pastel cardigan and tightly pulled bun. Kara without her glasses on, with the eyes of Supergirl still shining from her attack, from tears.
Kara who saved her.
Lena coughs from the blood filling her throat, her lungs - feels lightheaded from it spilling out on the floor.
Kara is ugly sobbing, full-on snot running drool slipping sobbing above her.
“Nothing I do is enough,” she’s saying between hiccuped breaths, “I stop the bomb and more go off, I stop them all and you get shot, I stop that too and they send someone to stab you.”
Lena doesn’t know what the hell is happening but she still instinctively reaches towards Kara, who immediately holds her hand and pulls it to her face, blood smearing into the tears.
“I don’t know how to help you, Lena,” she’s crying, and Lena doesn’t know either.
All she knows is her eyes are heavy, and they’re desperate to close.
She lets them.
Lena wakes to thunder and the ringing of her phone.
The carefully selected pop jingle excites and concerns her - she knows it’s Kara calling, but she also knows Kara’s never called her this early before. Hopefully it’s for good reasons.
“Kara, hello!” she says, voice high and fake.
She’s nervous, and she just woke up. She tries not to show either of those things.
Much to her horror, Kara’s first response is a loud sob.
“I can’t do this anymore, Lena,” she’s saying, her voice running wet and slurred, “I’m just so tired.”
Lena’s already halfway out the door before the sentence is finished, no shoes on and her jacket pulled on over her sleep clothes.
“Where are you? I’m coming to you now,” she says.
“No, it’s not- It doesn’t matter. I’m okay, I’m just.. Nothing I do here is ever enough, every day ends in a disaster. I don’t know if I can keep doing this.”
She walks confidently towards her guards waiting in the lobby, both of whom seem unfazed by her odd outfit. Tom asks if she’d like him to have a pair of shoes prepared for her arrival at the office later and she makes a mental note to give both of her guards raises this year.
“Of course it matters. If it upsets you then it matters! Whatever is going on we’ll figure it out. Let me come get you.”
She signals to Phil to go get the car.
“I don’t want you to come get me, Lena. I really think I just, I need to be alone. Away from all this.”
She doesn’t say it but Lena can hear the unspoken away from you.
Lena tries not to let the hurt bleed into her voice.
“I understand, Kara. Why don’t you take the day off? CatCo will survive without you for a day, I can even call James for you. Go take a break.”
Rather than excitement Lena is met with another deep, soul-draining sob, and all she wants in the world is to go to Kara now. Phil pulls up with the car and Tom escorts her to the door. She’s unsure of where to tell them to go.
“Could you forgive me?” Kara finally asks, voice so small and afraid over the phone that Lena wonders if they’re talking about the same thing. “If I wasn’t there for you? I don’t want you to go through it alone.”
Lena thinks she’s talking about her presentation today, though she can’t imagine why it would cause Kara so much distress.
“It’s one little speech, sweetheart. I’m a big girl - I think I can handle it. It’s not gonna be the end of the world.”
She’s met with stony silence at that; she has to pull her phone away to make sure she hadn’t accidentally been disconnected. Finally, Kara speaks.
“I just need a day. Just one day to recharge a little, okay? Then I’ll be there tomorrow.”
“Kara,” she says, laughing a bit, “it’s okay! Take the week if you want. As long as you need.”
It’s shaky, the breath Kara releases at Lena’s words, but her voice is steady when they exchange their goodbyes. Lena tells Tom to head on to the office and makes a mental note to text Kara after her speech just to make sure she’s doing okay.
Later, as she approaches the stage, a thought occurs to her.
“Didn’t Supergirl offer to help with security?” she asks Tom, who merely shrugs. It appears that the superhero never showed to the setup meeting.
No matter, it’s a small event. She’ll survive without a super powered alien watching overhead.
With a smile she steps up to the podium and begins.
Lena wakes to thunder and a news bulletin:
Super Insanity? Supergirl’s Erratic Behavior Has Some Concerned
The Maid of Might was spotted early Wednesday morning acting in erratic ways that have some experts concerned. Multiple reports confirm sightings of the hero-
Her phone vibrates with another pressing email about the speech today and Lena quickly forgets all about whatever shenanigans National City’s resident alien has gotten herself into today.
It doesn’t matter - she has much bigger things to focus on.
Lena wakes to thunder.
The woman she greets every morning seems deeply agitated, her voice growing loud as Lena approaches.
It takes Lena nearly five minutes to carefully pry herself free of the woman’s grip after giving her some money, and despite knowing in her heart that the woman is harmless she still feels a bit uneasy as she walks away.
It’s probably just the woman’s sign today that has her on edge. What’s not unsettling about DEATH DEATH DEATH TODAY written in giant red letters?
Lena wakes to thunder.
News reports declare a state of emergency across the country as Supergirl apparently broke into the White House to demand a one-on-one meeting with the President herself.
Apparently Cat Grant showed up halfway into the situation and chucked a shoe at the alien.
What a strange world we live in, Lena thinks as she heads towards the stage.
Lena wakes to thunder.
Traffic is insane on her street and Lena quickly sees why.
“That right there in the middle of the road,” she says, voice high like a question. Phil looks up and blanches at the sight.
“Yeah,” he drawls, “that’s a moose.”
There’s just. A moose, right there in the middle of the road. Lena’s pretty sure those aren’t native to the area.
“Supergirl broke into the zoo and freed all the animals,” Tom chirps in.
“Of course she did,” Lena replies.
Lena wakes to thunder.
She has a dozen new emails, a text from Jess verifying her schedule, and three texts from three different CatCo employees asking if she knows of anything wrong with Kara. They don’t elaborate, saying simply that she’s acting a bit out of character.
Lena frowns and shoots a quick text to her best friend.
Lena Luthor [6:45 AM]
Kara just sends back a smiley face and nothing else.
Lena makes a mental note to call her after her speech.
Lena wakes to thunder and an all caps text from Sam.
Sam Arias [6:45 AM]
TURN ON YOUR TV I AM SCREAMING
Lena clicks on the news to see a large, only partially censored video of Supergirl in the middle of some city highway, completely naked and dancing.
Sam Arias [6:48 AM]
Is this what it’s like there? Maybe I do wanna move to NC after all.
Lena just looks at the text, at the TV, then back at the text again.
It’s way too early for this, she decides, and goes back to getting ready.
Lena wakes to thunder and a text from Kara.
Kara Danvers [6:45 AM]
Wanted you to know I’m thinking of you.
Lena sends back hearts.
Lena wakes to thunder.
Her head of security calls her just as she’s headed out the door to let her know there’s a slight issue at L Corp.
“What do you mean it’s gone?” she asks, certain she’s not hearing things right.
“The whole building is gone. Supergirl made everybody leave and then just scooped it up right out of the concrete. Tossed the whole thing into space.”
Words cannot express the emotions Lena feels in this moment, but she believes the growling yell she lets out shows enough.
Lena wakes to thunder.
“It’s going to rain a little more today, can I give you this?” Lena asks the woman with the sign, reaching backfire the L Corp umbrella in Tom’s hands. The woman mutters something incomprehensible and nods, so Lena opens it up and helps place it in such a way that it can shade the woman from the rain or sun.
Suddenly the woman grabs her, holding her tight against her with one arm while her other rings a hand bell furiously.
Lena has to hold up a hand to stop her bodyguards from prying the old woman off her, instead letting herself sit in the embrace for a moment.
“I need to go now,” she says gently, trying to free herself. The woman’s grip is surprisingly strong and her hazy grey eyes, though out of focus and slightly crossed, are filled with a terror Lena’s never seen before. She jumps slightly when the door of the old apartment complex behind them opens and a small boy pops out looking thoroughly unimpressed by their interaction.
“Lady, you gotta stop grabbing people,” he says. The woman - just called Lady apparently - finally releases Lena and responds in that same garbled nonsense as always, only for the first time someone seems to understand.
“She says she needs your help,” the boy says, apparently translating for her, “That there’s danger coming.”
Lena takes a slow measured breath. Her guards shift nervously behind her.
“Did she say what kind of danger?” she asks.
The woman talks again and the boy squints as he listens, concentrating.
“Something about a fire? I dunno. She says we're all going to die if you don't help us.”
Tom steps forward at that and places a firm hand on her shoulder letting her know that’s definitely not gonna happen, not that he had to tell Lena. There is certainly no chance she’ll come in after that statement.
“I have to go right now, but I can send someone later to come and help you all out.”
The woman reaches for her again in another panic and this time Tom pulls Lena back behind him, as if he fears this tiny woman is going to jump at her throat.
“She says you gotta come now. That you’re not gonna remember later.”
Lena’s running so late and can’t stay much longer for this incredibly ominous conversation, but this is the most she’s communicated with this woman in years and she doesn’t want to lose it.
“I promise you,” she says, hoping the sincerity translates, “I won’t forget you.”
It takes a lot for her to turn and walk away, feet moving forward even as the woman who rings her bell and continues chattering after her.
“I want a wellness check arranged for the both of them,” she says, and Tom pulls out his phone to place the call for her.
She wasn’t lying just then. After her speech today she will come straight back here to see what’s going on.
Lena wakes to thunder and a phone call from James Olsen.
“Lena! Hi, thank God! I-“ his voice pulls away as he shouts something unintelligible, “I tried calling her sister but she didn’t answer and I don’t know what to do. Kara is freaking out in the bullpen and she keeps talking about you, do you know what’s going on? Kara, don’t-“ there’s a crashing noise, “Shit, okay. She just threw a computer monitor across the room. Can you please come right now? Hurry!”
Lena reschedules her speech and practically races to CatCo.
To say she walks into chaos is an understatement.
Tables are turned, screens are broken, there are multiple interns hiding behind toppled furniture in the lobby.
And in the middle of the drama stands Kara Danvers yelling at the top of her lungs.
“And another thing!” she yells, “you assholes are so quick to call her evil every time anything goes wrong but the second she saves this company you’re all suddenly her biggest fans? You’re full of shit is what you are!”
“Kara?” Lena calls out, cutting in during her pause to breathe.
It’s like an electric bolt shoots through Kara’s entire body; she stiffens instantly, frozen except for her eyes that dart over Lena’s entire form like she hasn’t seen her in weeks.
“Lena,” she practically breathes out. She jumps down from the table and hits the ground with a solid thump that seems to shake the entire floor, as ridiculous as that sounds. The interns cower even deeper.
“What’s going on?” she asks, stepping carefully towards her possibly unstable best friend.
Kara seems stunned, mouth fluttering around words she can’t quite form, and Lena places a gentle hand on her shoulder and suggests they go somewhere more private to talk.
They end up taking over James’ office, a space he is all too happy to relinquish now that Kara’s calmed down a bit.
She closes the blinds and they sit together, thighs pressed hand-in-hand, and Lena tries desperately to get Kara to meet her eyes.
“Alright. Tell me what’s going on,” she says, which earns a scoff from Kara.
“What’s the point? You’re not gonna remember anyway.”
Her words sting her just as much as they confuse her, and Lena has to put a hand to her chest against the sudden ache.
“Kara, whatever it is - I promise I’ll listen. I’m here for you.”
And it’s so overwhelming because Kara’s crying now, big laughing tears of a prisoner on their way to the gallows, and she mumbles Rao I’ve missed you like they didn’t just have lunch together yesterday.
“I didn’t want to get you involved this time. Not for another few days at least.” She finally says, and pulls Lena into a strong and confusing hug. Lena’s never felt more out of the loop.
“If something’s going on with you I want to know so I can help,” she tries again, “I’d do anything for you, Kara. I’d hope you’d know that by now.”
Gradually Kara pulls back and their faces skim together, cheek to cheek, Kara stopping just as their noses meet. All the air leaves Lena’s lungs at once; there’s nothing she can do but stare back into her eyes.
Kara is searching her face for something, what Lena doesn’t know, and there seems to be a moment then when it clicks for her. She can practically hear the missing piece falling into place in Kara’s mind, hear it in the small oh she breathes out.
Hear it in the tiny sigh just before she kisses her.
It’s like the entire world shrinks down to the barest sensations. A mouth against her own, a tongue skimming her lower lip. Hands in her hair, on her hips, hands pushing her down on to the couch, pressing at clothes until they meet skin. Vibrations from a moan kissed into her skin.
Vibrations from her pocket as her secretary calls for the fourth time.
She pulls away from Kara with a gasp, her mind trying to catch up with her hands fumbling for her phone.
Kara seems undeterred, continuing to press biting kisses against her neck.
“Don’t answer it,” she whispers, her breath against Lena’s ear drawing out a shudder. “Stay here with me, in this moment. Right now.”
Lena finds herself tilting into the other woman’s embrace, mind floating under the onslaught, but the phone vibrates again and reality crashes back.
“Hello?” she answers, clears her throat of the husk, presses a hand to Kara’s now saddened face. She’s quickly informed of a crisis happening near her cancelled press function. She can’t quite understand - something about the stage? - and she’s hung up on quickly with a request to come as soon as possible.
There’s nothing she’d rather do less than that. Because right now she is sitting with Kara Danvers, who is looking at her like there’s nothing she wants more than to be on top of her again. It’s everything Lena’s dreamed up since that first moment they met, but the weight of responsibility will always fall heavy on her shoulders and despite her deeper wishes she knows what she has to do.
“I have to go, it’s an emergency,” she explains, running fingers through her hair, over her wet mouth. “But we should definitely, definitely talk about this.”
She’s practically giddy, giggling as she buttons her shirt back up under the watchful eyes of Kara.
“And do this again?” Kara asks, and Lena almost snorts.
“And absolutely do this again.”
This seems to satisfy Kara enough to let her finish getting ready, though she does stop her at the door with a dizzying kiss and a whisper of, “we will definitely talk about this tomorrow.”
She practically skips on her walk back over to L Corp.
Lena wakes to thunder.
She checks her messages, drinks her coffee, walks to her office in the rain.
There is nothing pressing for her in the office, though, and she’s just about to leave for the stage when her intercom buzzes.
“Miss Danvers is here to see you.”
Already the rainy day is getting better.
“Wonderful, send her in.”
Lena stands awkwardly, pats down nonexistent wrinkles as Kara bursts in to her office like a woman on a mission.
“Kara,” she says, smiling wide, “I didn’t think I’d see you before-”
The rest of her words are swallowed up into Kara’s mouth.
Lena’s body kicks in long before her brain can even confirm for itself that this is really happening and she’s wraps her arms around Kara’s shoulder with a moan, letting the taller woman push until her legs hit the desk and lift her effortlessly on top of it, shoving papers and possibly her computer monitor to the ground. Lena’s not sure. Lena doesn’t care. All she cares about is that Kara keeps kissing her like that.
Kara’s hand on her lower back is pulling their bodies harder together and her tongue is swiping against Lena’s and it’s like the entire world has vanished beyond this moment now. Kara kisses her again and again, a desperate energy buzzing through her every touch and sound. When Lena finally has to pull back to breathe Kara doesn’t even stop; kisses are pressed to Lena’s jaw, down her throat. Her entire body feels like it’s going to melt into the floor.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” she finally breathes against Kara’s temple. Kara just hums in reply, her tongue hot against Lena’s collarbone. She doesn’t know how it’s happening, or why.
She just knows she doesn’t want it to end. So of course it does.
“Ma’am, it’s time to- Oh God,” Jess says as she enters the room without knocking only to whirl away in horror.
Lena imagines they’re quite a sight - clothes half tugged off, Kara pressed between her legs. “Sorry, sorry. Your speech, ma’am. Your speech!”
She peeks at them between two fingers before covering her eyes again and blindly fumbling out of the room.
Lena laughs, deep and free, and runs a hand over her mouth. She smiles at Kara expecting a similar expression. Kara’s staring at her with emotions Lena can’t even begin to identify. She swallows hard.
“I don’t know why that just happened,” Lena says again. She tugs at a button on Kara’s shirt, suddenly self conscious. “But I’m very glad it did. And I’d like it to happen again, if you’re up for it.”
Kara’s smile is so bright it could blind her if she stared too long.
“There is nothing I want more,” Kara says, then leans in to kiss her.
It’s softer than before and Lena feels herself growing dizzy in it, her hands already beginning to fumble for a grip on her shirt, but all thoughts of continuing are stalled by the buzz of her intercom.
“I think Jess is too afraid to come back in,” Kara whispers, cockiness creeping into her voice. Lena hums and buttons her shirt back up.
“Yes I’d say so. I might need to give her a raise just to balance out the added therapy costs she’ll probably have now,” she winks at Kara, then clears her throat, “Well! What do you say we get lunch today after my speech?”
And it’s like all at once the joy in Kara’s eyes disappears. She seems to cave in on herself, slumping away from Lena in a sad slide.
“I’d like that,” she says, but Lena can practically hear the walls shuttering into place around Kara, keeping them apart. She doesn’t know what she did to cause this - did she say something thoughtlessly? - and every instinct in Lena’s body tells her to forget the speech and stay here with Kara. Figure out what’s going on.
But the buzzer is going again and she can practically hear the various news agencies complaining about the unprofessional tardiness of L Corp’s undoubtedly soon-to-be-disgraced CEO, so she makes a mental note to come back to this and heads towards the door.
“Hey,” she says gently, ducking down until Kara will meet her eyes again, “Whatever’s going on, we’ll figure it out, okay?” She can’t help but grab Kara’s hand one last time, bringing it to her mouth to kiss softly. “I’ll see you soon.”
In a heavy tone Lena’s never heard Kara use before she replies:
“Yeah. See you soon.”
Lena wakes to thunder and Supergirl tapping at her window.
The girl of steel seems relaxed, but Lena knows things ca only be bad if a Super is visiting her this early in the morning. She approaches with caution.
“Supergirl,” she says, voice diplomatic and steady, “to what do I owe the pleasure?”
With effortless grace Lena can’t help but envy Supergirl flutters down into her home and steps in close.
“I wanted to try something different today,” she says. Lena can’t help the instinctual step back she takes, but Supergirl meets every step with one of her own. Quickly Lena finds herself backed against the couch without realizing and she curses herself for her mistake.
“And what is that?”
“I’m in love with you,” the alien says, as if that’s in any way a reasonable thing to say to her at seven in the morning, “and I want you to run away with me. Any thoughts on that?”
Lena tries to keep a serious face lest she anger the woman who can rip planes in half.
“I’d rather not, if we’re being honest.”
Supergirl seems pleasantly surprised.
“Really? You’re not the least bit interested in me?” Supergirl flexes her arms for good measure.
She is pretty fit, Lena thinks, and says,
“Yeah it’s a no for me. Thanks.”
“Interesting. So you don’t find me attractive at all?”
For some reason Supergirl seems almost pleased by this. It’s all very confusing and Lena is now running behind schedule so she tries to respectfully shove Supergirl back out the window she came in.
“What if Kara Danvers did that?” Supergirl asks, halfway out the window and holding on like Lena actually has the strength to move her. Lena is hit instantly with sharp, copper-tasting dread that nearly overwhelms her, and she tries in vain to steady her now racing heart.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Lena says in her most terrifyingly managerial voice. Supergirl at least has the smarts to look a little afraid.
“What if Kara Danvers came bursting in to your apartment to confess her love? Would you run away with her?”
She can feel the tears forming at the back of her eyes and Supergirl must see them too, because her playful smirk quickly crumbles away. Lena can feel her jaw clinch from tension.
“I try not to dwell on impossibilities, Supergirl. I’d suggest you do the same.”
With that she slams the window in the hero’s face and violently tugs down the blinds as well for good measure. What a ridiculous experience.
She glances at her phone and groans.
Great. Now she’s late for her speech. Thanks a lot, Supergirl.
Lena wakes to thunder and a loud knock at her door.
She swipes her eyes and wonders who could possibly be here at such an early hour. She’s pleasantly surprised to find the answer to be her best friend in the world.
“Kara!” she says as the other girl walks past her into her house without a second’s hesitation, “What a nice surprise. What are you doing here?”
Kara turns to her then, her deliberate path now aimed her way, and steps right into her space. Lena allows it though her heart races. She figures as long as her cheeks don’t blush she’s fine.
“I’m in love with you,” Kara says, like that’s in any way a reasonable thing to say to her at seven in the morning, “and I want to run away with you. What do you say?”
It’s unlikely Lena could form any coherent thing to say in this moment beyond the pathetically high pitched whining noise that escapes her mouth. Luckily Kara takes it for the approval that it is and closes the distance between them to kiss Lena nice and slow. It’s silly how hard it hits her. Makes her toes curl and her body melts forward, leaning into Kara’s surprisingly strong arms. Kara is the one to pull back just a bit, just enough so their lips no longer touch but they share the same air.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Lena breathes out, stealing another kiss. She can feel Kara smiling against her.
“Run away with me,” she says again, and some of the fog begins to clear in Lena’s mind.
“Kara, I can’t just,” she pauses, gestures sadly towards the words she can’t quite grasp. Kara seems to hear them regardless.
“Reschedule your speech. A storm is coming, it’s too dangerous to stand on a stage in the rain.”
There’s a tease to her tone but Lena can see the sincerity in her eyes. She flounders for a bit, her mind races ahead. It’s the most ridiculous thing.
“Where would we go?” she asks, and Kara smiles like she’s won.
“Let’s get out of the city. Go to the beach for a week, or the mountains. I don’t care. All I know is I want to be with you and I want us to run far, far away from this place together.”
It’s the most ridiculous thing Lena’s heard in a long while. Luthors don’t get to run away, not when things get tough or the world bangs at their door demanding blood. Not when their loved ones fall into depraved delusions and the weight of a world they never even wanted is thrust upon them. Every single lesson Lena ever learned in the Luthor household tells her to kindly escort Kara Danvers off the property and go prepare for her speech.
“Okay,” she says, smiling, “Yeah. Let’s do that.”
She knows the second she sees Kara’s relieved smile that she’s making the right choice.
Kara is insistent they leave immediately, just drop and go, but even the whimsical side of Lena has some limits. She has to drop some paperwork off with Jess if she’s going to be gone for a week (or more? Who knows with Kara like this) and so reluctantly Kara agrees.
There is definitely something off about Kara beyond the sudden love confessions, and it shows in every move she makes during their walk. She holds on to Lena’s hand tightly, one arm wrapped protectively around her shoulder like she’s afraid if she lets go Lena might vanish. She also won’t stop glaring at Tom, which is very out of character for her considering Tom has never even spoken two words to her before. He seemed pleasant enough when he greeted them this morning so t doesn’t quite make sense for her to nearly snarl every time he even looks at Lena.
It doesn’t matter to Lena why it’s happening, though. If she’s somehow stepped into a different dimension or Kara’s experiencing an extreme bout of food poisoning that’s somehow clouded her decisions - whatever may be the reason for why Kara’s hand is now in her own, Lena is happy. This might be the happiest she’s felt in quite a while.
They walk together past her usual coffee place without stopping for a cup - this morning she feels rejuvenated from Kara’s touch alone. She merely calls out a greeting to the man who runs the stand, who waves back.
“You be safe today, Miss Lena!” he calls after them, “A storm is coming!”
Lena laughs even as Kara tugs her away.
“So I keep hearing!” she yells back.
There’s an almost palpable energy buzzing between them, engulfing them as they walk pressed together. Lena almost wants to skip.
They approach the woman she sees every day sitting at the corner of her street and, for some reason, Kara slows to a stop.
She’s staring at the woman’s sign (today reading: ALMOST FINISHED ALMOST DEAD) and she looks deeply confused. Lena understands the feeling.
“I know she looks a bit rough around the edges, but I promise she’s harmless. She’s sat out here every day since I moved to the city.”
They continue their approach towards her but Kara only looks further distressed as they approach.
“Is her sign different?” she whispers almost to herself.
“I could have sworn it said something else.”
Lena wasn’t aware Kara had ever even seen her before.
“Yeah, it’s always different. She changes it almost every day. Usually they’re about ducks, but she’s been branching out a bit lately.” She tries to make it light, but there’s something serious she doesn’t quite understand going through Kara’s mind now. She can see it in her face, in the way she speeds up to approach the woman.
“No, that’s not-” and she steps away from Lena to stand directly in front of her.
Lena sees the woman every day and she’s always just barely responsive. The second Kara approaches, though, she agitates, shifting and squirming in her chair all while rumbling away in her incoherent tongue. She reaches out for Kara’s hand, gripping at her like she’s drowning and Kara’s the life preserver tossed her way.
“Do you know who I am?” Kara asks, which surprises Lena. What’s more surprising is the woman’s response: she excites even more, loudly mumbling and nodding her head.
“Your sign’s changed. It’s happening to you, too, isn’t it? Wednesdays all over again.”
Lena is so incredibly lost and her confusion only amplifies when the woman lets out a terrifying screech and lunges at Kara, nearly falling out of her wheelchair to lock her in a tight hug. Lena is alarmed, but Kara holds her up like she’s weightless and helps put her back in the chair. The woman turns away for a moment and fishes out a small handheld service bell - it’s rusted and cracked, and the ring it makes at her frantic shaking is almost painful to hear.
Stomping can be heard from behind her, loud and sharp headed their way, and instinctively Kara moves to shield Lena with her body. The door just a few feet away swings open with a CLANG! and out steps - a child. Small, a little scruffy, can’t be more than 8 years old. Very pissed looking.
“Oh, now you want to talk to me,” he says with a small prepubescent crack in the middle. “Thought you didn’t want me around.”
The toothless woman lets out more sounds at the boy, who just scoffs.
“Oh, gotcha. Y'only want my help.”
Lena and Kara share a look, surprised. Apparently this kid can understand the woman’s garbles. After a few more exchanges in which they understand only one side, the kid turns to Kara and says,
“So you’re Supergirl, right?”
Ice cold water seems to dump on her soul, cold dread dribbling down the back of her shirt.
Kara is Supergirl.
Her mind immediately runs through every moment they’ve ever shared, an entire friendship condensed to a speed reel of misdirects and missed signs. Of course. Of course she is, and of course she lied about it to Lena this entire time.
Kara seems unaware of Lena’s intense internal breakdown, just nodding along like it isn’t strange for this strange child to look at her and instantly know what Lena had never figured out on her own. She doesn’t even seem bothered that Lena heard it.
The boy looks annoyed at having to even have this conversation.
“She says she’s been waiting for you forever,” he says, moving to push the woman’s wheelchair back towards the door he just exited. Kara follows and Lena really has no choice but to as well. “She says she didn’t think you were gonna make it in time.”
He leads them down the apartment hallway Lena had visited a few times before. When she first met the woman she’d looked into her to make sure she was cared for; she’d even tried sending caregivers to take her for health checkups. They’d all been adamantly refused - apparently she even threw a dictionary at one of them. Gave the guy a concussion. Lena’s fairly sure she never leaves this one block.
Their two strange guides lead them into what Lena knows is the woman’s apartment. It’s small, just a studio, and the two windows it has are blocked out completely with blackout curtains. There is a mattress on the floor, a table without chairs, a small television propped on a box. Everything is dark and dreary aside from the small scattering of toys that litter the floor.
The boy wheels her to the table with a practiced ease and she immediately begins to fiddle with what looks almost like a fragile hamster ball made of metal and glass, its curves etched with cracks and holes. It looks like it’s one good press away from shattering.
“So you can understand her?” Kara asks. The boy, who immediately scooped up a toy and laid down on the mattress, doesn’t even look up.
“Yeah. I know it sounds kind of weird but they’re real words. Just not, like, normal people words. I can hear them though. And she can’t speak words like us but she understands all the same.”
He looks up at Kara now, his expression too heavy for such a young face.
“She’s a person like you. Not a person like me.”
Kara seems a bit stunned and what confusion they both have at that statement is cleared up quickly when the woman turns around to face them. Her glasses are gone now and she’s staring at them with uncharacteristically focused eyes that shine iridescent in the darkness. The soft glow of them lights her face with soft pulsating colors, brightening the room enough that Lena can more clearly see the terrified look on Kara’s face.
“Oh,” Kara says, gulping audibly. “Like me.”
Kara calls Hank Henshaw.
Or rather, Kara calls the alien man who wears Hank Henshaw’s face.
Lena knows this isn’t the man who has hurt her but she still steps away defensively at his entrance. Her instincts towards him aren’t something she’ll be unlearning any time soon. He smiles at her like he understands her fear and makes a point of giving her a wide berth.
“Do you think you can communicate with her?” Kara asks him, and the woman speaks her strange language towards the shapeshifting man.
He looks thoughtful for a second then smiles, crouching down before her. And in a sudden horrific moment his teeth draw up into his gums, the sound indescribably unpleasant, leaving him in the same toothless state as the woman. Lena has to look away at the sight.
He speaks then, the same garbled nonsense Lena has heard on a daily basis for nearly a year now, and the old woman immediately starts to cry. They speak excitedly back and forth for a few minutes while Kara and Lena just watch, captivated. The kid could not care less about any of this.
Finally, he stands back up and when he turns to them his teeth have returned.
“She’s a refugee, much like us,” he says to Kara, “She came here with her son years ago from a planet not far from my own. They had devices there, time-rewinds, that let them restart days. She said that every today so far her neighborhood has burned to the ground, and every day she starts it again in hopes that you’ll stop it.”
“Me specifically? Is that why I remember?”
“She can share the gift of memory with one person, and every day she’s chosen you.” The woman talks some more and the man adds, “She says if someone can save us it’s Supergirl.”
Kara’s crying now, too, and despite her annoyance with the other woman Lena automatically pulls her into a comforting embrace.
“God, this whole time! I’ve been so alone day after day and I thought,” another sob, “I thought I was the only one.”
The man places a comforting hand on her shoulder, and the image of Hank Henshaw touching her friend makes Lena’s skin crawl.
“She’s been trying to reach you all along, but her mobility is limited during the day. Her species has trouble adapting to the Earth’s sun and an old injury makes it impossible for her to walk. The signs were the only way she could try.”
It’s taken her a moment, but Lena is finally catching up to the discussion. She zeroes in on the part about Kara.
“So wait, back to what’s happening here - you’ve been stuck living this exact day over and over?”
The only word to describe the look Kara gives her at that is ‘devastation’.
“I’ve watched you die a hundred times, Lena,” she whispers.
Lena can practically see the weight of guilt pressing down on her dearest friend.
“Is that why you wanted us to run away?” she asks, instantly struck by the horror at what she might have done before on those other Wednesdays. Did Kara kiss her out of actual desire? Or had Lena revealed her weakness in some other timeline and Kara knew a kiss would win her compliance? She feels a bit sick at the thought.
Kara tries to speak but all that comes out is a small sob, so she just nods again. After a moment she manages to say,
“I’ve lived so many days already, I figured we could take a few just for ourselves.”
Lena is going to die.
“You can’t, not anymore,” the shapeshifter says solemnly. “She said the time rewind is at its limit. It won’t survive another attempt.”
Lena has already died. Many times.
“So this could be our last go?” Kara asks in horror. The woman starts chattering at that and the shapeshifter argues back, words firing that only the small human boy can understand.
Kara has spent weeks trying to save her life, and every single day she fails and Lena dies in different, inventive ways.
All the chaos is overwhelming for the boy it seems, because he quickly puts his hands over his ears and loudly chants la la la la la to drown it out.
They may not get any more chances.
It’s been over a year now since they spoke, even longer since he’d had anything positive to say to her, but in this moment she can hear her brother’s voice clear as a bell:
Be the storm.
“Enough,” she yells, cutting over the chatter. “We can’t waste time, not today at least. Let’s get moving.”
It turns out Kara and the woman have both learned a fair bit over the past few months of Wednesdays and together they paint a much bigger, clearer picture.
A terrorist group of unknown origin has deemed it best to wipe every Luthor fingerprint off National City in one fell swoop, including the woman herself. Their bombs are extensive and well-made, and it takes significant time to defuse them. The best luck they’ve had so far was for Supergirl to fly them out over the ocean as quickly as she can, though in eleven of the timelines this ended in some casualties. Not that that’s significant.
There are always casualties.
Kara knows where every bomb is placed and where the thirteen terrorists she’s encountered so far are hidden throughout the city. Lena tries not to show how deeply it hurts to learn that Tom’s name is on this list. She tucks that feeling away to deal with later.
Even in the handful of timelines in which Supergirl stops the bombs, there are still fires. Supergirl has yet to figure out what’s causing them but the woman knows.
Turns out, her apartment is the last final stand against the corporate takeover of her neighborhood, and the residents there are those largely considered to be undesirable for real estate.
“Someone sets the fire every time,” they learn, “Sometimes it happens in time with the bombs, sometimes it does not. I do not know who is doing it but I do know it’s deliberate. Very few are able to escape in time.” Her eyes dart to the boy, who looks as confused as they are.
And it hits then, that this is the reason for it all.
Every repeated day, every traumatic death of Lena Luthor diverted, it’s all come down to this one crucial reason: this old woman doesn’t want her home to burn down. Turns out she didn’t even know Lena died all those days, as the news kept a tight lid on it amidst the panic.
“Is that why you told me to get out?” the boy cuts in over their stunned silence, and she nods, mumbles to the shapeshifter.
“She didn’t think Supergirl would see her message in time,” he explains. “She thought this was the last one.”
It’s all a lot to process, really, but time is quite literally running out so they focus instead on getting it right.
Their shadow organization is already moving against the group and they get every other body they have on evacuating the targets. The shapeshifter finds the fire starter easily, his mind-reading abilities something for her nightmares to process later. Lena vaguely recognizes him, and she learns he’s a developer she’s worked with during her expansion. He’s been trying to sell her property all along this street for months, but she’d been hesitant to make a move.
The world is just a little too heavy today.
Kara takes off to start bomb removal and the shapeshifter agrees to escort the rest of them to their secret base. Lena is vaguely familiar with the DEO’s existence from her brother’s files so finding that its located smack dab in the middle of downtown shouldn’t surprise her. Nor should seeing Alex Danvers approach, armed to the tooth. And yet.
“Alex,” she greets wearily. “I see aliens are a family business for the Danvers.”
The other woman just rolls her eyes and scoffs, clearly mad this conversation is even happening.
Lena asks the shapeshifter if he can help her talk to the woman, which he thankfully agrees to do.
“The fire starter, he wanted the land so he could sell it,” Lena starts.
There is a sharpness to her eyes even beyond just their unnatural glow that Lena has never seen in all the time she’s known her. It’s like she’s a different person.
“Yes,” she says as the man translates, “he was selling it to the corporation.”
Lena doesn’t correct her, just asks,
“You do know who I am?” Even after all this time she’s not totally sure that she knows.
“You are the owner of the corporation. You give me gifts of money each day to help me live. You are my friend.”
Lena has to bite back the instinctual tears she feels building, the relief at learning her perceived connection was real.
“I am. And I want you to know I would never work with this man and I would never want that to happen to your home. I swear.”
The woman smiles, big and toothless, and places a comforting hand on Lena’s arms. For the first time since seeing her this morning Lena feels something like relief.
After another moment, she thinks of the other question looming above her.
“Can you tell me what your signs mean?”
“I can hear your language but I cannot write or read it. My boy helps me and puts what I tell him.”
“So you mean to make signs that talk about ducks? And half coherent sentences?”
The woman seems confused and confers with the man, and the two talk for nearly a minute before the man continues,
“She never knows exactly what he is putting down so it’s likely her messages get lost in translation.”
The boy, who had been ignoring them for the most part, jumps up with a huff.
“Hey! I’m doing what she tells me to do! It’s not my fault she tells me weird things!”
The woman smiles a gummy grin at him, pats him on the head. She speaks, the man translates,
“He does the best that he can for me and I am always grateful.”
“And this is your son, then?”
The boy is only half listening, already back to his game, his arm wrapped around the woman’s shoulders as she talks.
“This is a human boy I have taken to over the years. His family left him alone from his earliest days. He’d wander the hallway back and forth, too short to reach the handle. I worried one day someone might open the door and let him into the street so I brought him in with me. Language acquisition is easier for the youth, even with languages so alien to them. We cannot form the words of each other’s but we know enough.”
The boy crosses his arms with a huff, clearly annoyed at this open discussion of him.
“He doesn’t gotta tell you what she’s saying, I already know! I’m the person that helps her.”
She mumbles again, reaches a hand out. Reluctantly the boy takes it.
“I don’t have it perfect all the time but I have it enough. We always get each other.”
The woman’s eyes shine with love and neon reflection, but her smile turns sad.
“My son is gone. He left for food long ago. We had just landed on your planet and I was injured in the fall, he went for help. He told me to wait for him at that corner until he returned. That was ten years ago.”
A tear breaks from her eyes that glows bright blue, a shimmering diamond of light even as it crumbles to the floor. The shapeshifter translates still, though his words are sad and strained,
“I have to return to my place soon. He could be back any time now.”
Everyone exchanges looks, unsure of how to even broach this conversation, and the man finally turns to whisper something to Alex Danvers. Hesitantly, she heads off.
They fall back into an uneasy silence and watch the day unfold over the monitors.
A few hours later there are no confirmed deaths, though two children’s homes were lost. Lena counts it a blessing. Kara has returned for a check-in and she’s dressed as her non-super powered self, much to Lena’s relief. Sometimes you want to just have your best friend who you made out with this morning and not the bullet proof persona she wears to fight crime. Kara seems just as relieved to see her here, alive, and they hug for longer than they probably should considering the audience. They can worry about appearances later.
The man, who had been away for some time, approaches their mismatched group.
“Something occurred to me when we spoke early,” he tells the group, though his eyes lock on the woman. “ So I checked the logs for retrievals from ten years ago, back when we were more Cadmus than DEO. I think I might have found your son.”
He presses a few buttons on the nearest keyboard and a mugshot appears on the screen:
A tall man, snarling with crooked teeth, his eye half swollen.
Immediately the woman lets out a sob, chattering away a mile a minute.
Lena is furious.
“So, what? He was in your illegal little jail this whole time? How long was his sentence for? What was his crime?”
She moves to block the man, poking at his chest even as her heart hammers at memories of a different version of him attacking her. Unlike the actual Hank, this man is calm.
“Due to the complications unknown alien offenders create, there is an indefinite hold on all detainees.”
She wants to scream.
“So just to clarify, you arrested this man for, what? Being an alien? And you’ve been holding him in jail ever since?”
“He’s marked as a violent offender!” a nearby agent chirps in, though he falls silent at the glare the man shoots his way.
“Do you have specifics on that? What did he do?”
They pull up the file and he reads it aloud:
Alien of Unknown Origin (AUO) taken at raid of local factory. AUO unable to provide proper identification, resisted arrest. Struck officer, revealed himself as AUO. Detained in county jail until picked up by DEO. Dated August 2008.
“So because he didn’t have a license and resisted arrest, he deserves to be in jail for the rest of his life?”
Alex sighs, rubbing at her eyes.
“Lena, the DEO used to be a very different place. Before Supergirl we took in every alien as a threat because, at the time, they all were.”
“That doesn’t even make any sense. If it’s changed so much, why is he still in jail? When is his release date?”
No one has any answers for her.
“This is the organization you work with?” Lena nearly growls at Kara, who looks just as shocked as she feels.
“Lena, I swear. I had no idea! I didn’t know!”
And she believes that, she really does, because the alternative that Kara knew there were innocent people held indefinitely by this organization, with no advocates or release dates? That is something Lena didn’t think she could take.
“Well you do now,” she says, voice as steel, “What are you gonna do about it?”
Kara just stares, clearly overwhelmed, but Alex Danvers catches up first.
“Bring him up,” Alex Danvers orders. Some agents move to go and find this poor woman’s son. Lena is nowhere near satisfied.
“How many others do you have like him down there?” she cuts. Alex looks through the record, face grim.
“We have 521 listed AUOs dating back to the late 90s still in custody.”
Lena feels like she’s gonna be sick.
“And how many of those deserve a life sentence, do you think?”
They’re all solemn, and the shapeshifter speaks:
“Agent Vasquez, let the team know that tomorrow we will begin a thorough examination of our AUOs. It’s time we move towards rehabilitation and release.”
“Tomorrow?” Lena asks pointedly.
“One crisis at a time, Miss Luthor. Survive today and I’ll let you head the whole thing.”
It doesn’t satisfy her, but it’s enough for the moment.
Now she definitely has to survive.
Their conversations are cut short, however, by an alarmed shout.
“J’onn,” Alex calls, turning all their attention to one of the monitors in the room where they all look up to see… themselves. Video footage of them here in this moment is streaming from some unseen camera, showing them all huddled together in this secret government facility that doesn’t technically exist.
“It’s playing over almost every channel in the city,” Winn adds (does everyone in Kara’s life work here?). “I can’t figure out how they’re doing this.”
Another stream hops on, this one from a different angle, then one from what Lena assumes is their prison cells below showing the agents retrieving the woman’s son. Screen after screen are taken over with footage of every area of this top secret base and it’s like instant chaos descends upon them.
She’s tugged out of the way to make room for a frantic agent at one of the computers, and she finds herself being manhandled towards the door.
Kara looks at her in concern, but a screen change shows suddenly that there is a fire below at the end of the prison block. A cell is burning, and it’s starting to spread. It’s chaos as people run towards the fire or cover cameras or try to reverse hack whoever it is that’s logged into their network.
“Supergirl, go!” someone yells, and Kara glances at her clearly civilian self on the screen before jogging in that direction, trying to move somewhere without cameras.
Lena feels a tug on her shoulder and soon finds herself being pulled along by two soldiers, escorting her with the woman and the boy. “This way. We need to clear the area of civilians until this is under control.”
They end up in an interrogation room, waiting quietly while the storm rages outside.
The men who brought them here seem nervous, pacing and glancing at the camera clearly positioned in the corner of the room. Lena just hopes it doesn’t give their location away to whoever is chasing them.
They sit together at the table, her, the boy, and the woman, Lena trying to distract his young eyes from the many guns held around them.
After a few minutes, there’s a knock at the door.
One of the guard’s peeks outside, gun drawn, and comes gun to face with a terrified looking Winn.
“Woah there!” he shouts, hands going up instantly. “I’m just here to deactivate your camera! I come in peace!”
The men exchange a look that Lena can’t quite interpret, and dread starts to fill her chest when, rather than inviting the nervous nerd in, the two guards at the door push outside to talk to him, closing the door behind him. She can hear two sharp thumps outside the door, then silence.
The one man remaining stares at her with something she’s used to seeing these days: pure loathing.
“I’d like to go help him with that I think,” she says, putting an arm around the boy’s shoulder protectively. “Will you take me out there?”
The man opens his mouth to speak but stops, touches his ear piece and listens.
“Understood,” he says, and the moment their eyes meet Lena knows.
“Get down!” she yells while shoving the boy down below the table, already trying to rush the much taller man. She barely has time to even try to defend herself, though, as his fist collides against the side of her face. She hits the wall from the force of it and struggles for a moment to focus. He raises his gun towards her and she knows it’s the end, only to have him stumble back out of surprise more than pain when a shoe bounces off his face.
The old woman is already taking off her other one and undoubtedly screaming curses at the gunman in her garbled tongue, and the seconds he spends aiming his gun towards the woman are enough for Lena to tackle his arm away. The gun fires, but misses, and she wraps herself around it trying to redirect it anywhere other than the many fleshy bodies in this room. Another shoe bonks the man in the face, and now the little boy has joined in on the action, leaping at him trying to claw his eyes.
Lena manages to claw the gun out of his hand just as he swings out at the boy, knocking him clear across the room with a thud. She shoves the gun as far as she can from them as the man claws at her, grabbing her back in her desperate attempt at escape, and without thinking she throws the gun at the boy.
He picks it up and looks at her as if waiting for her to tell him what to do with it.
There’s only one thing he can do, of course.
“Run!” Lena screams, flipping back towards the man she grapples with to try and strike him back. Pure relief floods her at the sound of the door opening and little foot prints sprinting away for help. The woman continues to yell from her corner, looking around like she needs something else to throw.
Lena knows, of course, that she has no chance against this man.
Even unarmed he is a force she can’t beat and the second his hands wrap around her throat she knows it’s over. That doesn’t stop her fight, though.
Lena struggles to pull at the man’s thumbs, press her fingers into his eyes, anything to get his grip on her throat to loosen. She manages to scrape at his eye before he jerks his face away with a grotesque squelch, but his grip never loosens.
“For the good of the cause,” he barks out, his spit and blood dribbling on to her undoubtedly purpling face.
She can feel herself slipping and the only thought she can hold on to is ‘at least it’s just me this time’.
She’s brought back suddenly into consciousness with a gasp. It hurts to breathe, but it sure is nice to have the option. She presses her fingertips to her throat as softly as she can and waits for the clouds in her eyes to clear.
Gradually, she becomes aware.
Kara is here, standing over her with happy tears streaming down her face. They’re back in the main hall of the DEO and her regular clothes are half-burned off from the fire she apparently defeated, the super symbol clear as day. The man who has perhaps murdered her in so many lives is now handcuffed and pressed down nearby, his eye bleeding profusely from her defensive scratches. Good, she thinks. I hope he never sees again.
“We did it,” Kara says, smiling through the tears. “No one’s dead. We saved everyone.”
It hurts to even think of talking, so all Lena can do is open her arms and pull Kara in. They did it. They did it. Everyone survived.
Absently, Lena lets her eyes wander the room, taking in the sight of the disarray around her. Papers everywhere, agents arguing, the monitors behind them still showing every stream. She can see herself where she lays now gasping on the floor, sees Supergirl wearing the appearance of Kara Danvers hugging her tight.
“Kara,” she croaks out, painful and desperate.
Kara follows the line of sight, stares at herself, and gives her a small smile.
“It’s okay, Lena. It’s okay.”
She clings to her as tightly as she can because she knows that no, it really isn’t.
It takes a while for the dust to settle enough for them to fully understand.
There were traitors among them this whole time, people that have been here since before the DEO/Cadmus split. Ticking time bombs waiting for orders. They created a backdoor through which the hacker could take over their feeds, cause chaos to cover their mission of “kill the aliens, kill the Luthor.”
Luckily they all failed. This time, at least.
“We will do a thorough investigation of every employee at this agency,” the shapeshifter explains, his eyes scanning them all carefully. “As well as every prisoner. Sentences will be reevaluated.”
It’s not enough, of course, but it’s the best they can do for now. Everyone is exhausted, but they all hesitate to leave. Everyone waits for the other shoe to drop.
No one remarks on Kara’s exposure aside from her.
“It’s a good thing, really,” she says, convincing no one, “Now I can be Supergirl full time. Kara Danvers was never that important any way. This is better really.”
Lena tries not to flinch at that statement. She can’t think of another person more important to her than Kara Danvers.
She’s alive, everyone is alive.
They reunite the woman with her son, their sobbing hug bringing tears from even the toughest looking agents. There’s a sad moment where the boy stood off to the side like he was intruding, but the woman quickly tugged him over to make introductions.
“Thank you for taking care of her,” the son says in a lisping speech, his mouth struggling around what are clearly ill-fitting dentures, “she says she wouldn’t have made it without you.”
The boy mumbles some embarrassed nonsense that sounds suspiciously close to their language before letting them pull him into a three person hug. It’s sweet, and sad, and a decade in the making.
I killed Kara Danvers, she thinks, and takes a sip of the flask Alex had snuck her just a while ago.
The woman is thankful and forgiving, which is fine with Lena. She can carry the resentment against this illegal organization’s actions for the both of them. She gives them the time rewind as a thank you, handing it over as delicately as she can, pieces of it chipping off and vanishing before they hit the ground.
It barely survived all this and will not survive another rewind. She advises that they save it for a crisis, as it will be their one single shot, and with the help of her son and the boy the three depart.
They all sit together for another hour, drinking and talking softly, but Lena can’t look anywhere but at the time rewind placed carefully in a containment box at the edge of the room.
It’s hard to deny the facts.
There is almost no chance all the stars would align so well next time.
Out of literal dozens of attempts, this is the only timeline in which every single person survived the day. This is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime win.
And Kara Danvers doesn’t get to exist anymore.
It really isn’t much of a decision. She’s up and moving before she even realizes. She reaches for it only for a hand to suddenly grab her wrist. It’s the shapeshifter.
“I know what you’re thinking, Miss Luthor,” he says sternly, “and I strongly advise against it.”
“What’s going on, guys?” Kara asks, walking over, eyes darting between them and the device.
She can do it, she thinks loudly, staring into the eyes of the man she hates worn by another. She deserves the chance.
He seems to consider, his hand loosening a bit. Lena opens the box and pulls out the device.
Kara seems to be catching on and all at once panic fills her eyes.
“Lena, listen to me. There isn’t enough time left for redos. It’s fine, I promise. I can work full time as Supergirl or something, I don’t know. I just know this is the only time no one died. This isn’t worth risking everyone’s life again.”
Funny enough, those words unintentionally lock in Lena’s decision.
“Kara Danvers will always be worth it,” she says, then slams her fist down on the device, shattering it.
Lena wakes to thunder.
It’s raining, of course; it’s rained relentlessly all week. When Lena was a child she would cower from the storms, cry under the stairs every time the thunder cracked until one day Lex told her she needn’t fear the storm when she could be it. Somehow it made sense to her as a child, and the mantra be the storm still brings her comfort even after everything.
Her alarm sounds again, and she swipes it off. She has a dozen new emails, a text from Jess verifying her schedule, and one text from Kara.
Kara Danvers [6:45 AM]
I’m going to come to your apartment in ten minutes. Please wait for me.
Worry sets in immediately at the vague text, but she has no time to dwell as her head of security calls.
Apparently the FBI has begun a raid on every Luthor affiliated building in the entire city.
“I don’t know what to do, boss, they’re- what was that?” his voice sounds distant as he yells at someone nearby. His voice comes back to the phone, “you’re not gonna believe what they found.”
They found thirty eight bombs, all planted at hospitals, children’s homes, even the stage setup outside L Corp for her speech later today.
She tries to leave but finds her apartment lobby swarming with FBI agents and her security guard Tom in handcuffs.
“What is this?” she demands, stepping defensively towards them.
Alex Danvers blocks her way.
“We have reason to believe you’re in danger today, Miss Luthor. It’s in your best interest that you stay in your home until further notice.”
“I’m in danger every day, Agent Danvers. I’ve never let that stop me before.”
“Well it’s stopping you today. We have orders all the way from the top. You’re not going anywhere.”
And that’s how she found herself unceremoniously shoved back into her apartment with five FBI agents at her door and one standing quietly in her entrance hallway, pretending not to watch as she paces the room.
After what feels like hours there’s a knock at the door and a small exchange between the agent and whoever it is outside, and the next things he knows the door is opening to reveal-
“Kara!” she says, relieved beyond measure. “How on Earth did you get up here?”
“My sister let me in. I have to talk to you but I can’t stay long.”
“Kara, I really don’t think-“
“I called in the bombs.”
Lena freezes and Kara continues, unfazed by the significance of that revelation.
“I’ve been following leads on a terrorist organization for, god, it feels like months? And I learned that they were targeting you.”
Her voice is so monotoned, like she’s reciting ancient history and not something that’s slamming into Lena’s life right this very second.
“I figured out that they wanted to erase everything associated with you in one big go, not caring if they killed thousands. Luckily I was able to warn the FBI in time. All the bombs are being taken care of now, your buildings are being evacuated, their leader is on his way to a maximum security jail, and you are safe and if I have to stand here all night to make sure I will.”
This is all a lot to take in before seven in the morning, especially when Kara keeps looking at her like that.
“But before I do that, I have to tell you something.”
She cups Lena’s face and it’s like a record scratch in her heart. All her senses hone in on where they connect, on how deeply Kara is staring into her eyes.
“I am in love with you,” Kara says, casual like a comment on the weather, “and I want to be with you. Even though you’re a reckless dummy who does reckless dumb things.”
“I’m in love with you,” Kara says again, now moving to press her forehead to Lena’s, to press her lips against Lena’s. Lena can feel her body trembling. She can stare down the most powerful people in the universe without stuttering but one look at the earnest love in Kara Danvers’ eyes unhinges her completely.
“Why are you doing this?” Even her voice trembles. No one has ever kissed her so softly before. Kara gives her the oddest look - like Lena’s referenced some inside joke between them - and says,
“I realized that you didn’t know and I couldn’t bear the thought of you not knowing just how loved you are.”
She’s crying, and she’s shaking, and Kara is looking at her like she’s the most amazing thing in the world. Lena really needs a coffee, or five.
“I know how determined you are to do your speech even though it’s a stupid thing to do, so we’ve rescheduled it. Just by a few hours. You big dummy.”
“Um, thank you?”
Kara nods at that and turns to leave only to stop and give her one last look.
“I have a lot that I need to tell you about, but I don’t have time today. Tomorrow I’ll tell you everything. For now, though, I want you to know that I’ve learned about a lot of terrible things and I plan to work with you for as long as I need to to help make them right.”
It’s all very confusing but sweet, and Lena finds herself left alone standing in her doorway, crying.
It’s delayed by nearly seven hours, but Lena is able to do her speech.
Kara looks so tense, eyes red and darting around the crowd the entire speech.
“I believe in this city,” Lena starts, “and I believe in every one of you.”
Her speech lasts a little under fifteen minutes and if she didn’t know better she’d swear Kara didn’t breathe once, not until she said her closing remarks and the crowd applauded. It wasn’t the best she’s ever given, but considering the strange day she’s had she’s just thankful it didn’t go worse. Kara follows her parallel as she walked off the stage, meeting Lena just behind the stands to pull her into a tight hug.
“I’d say that went well,” Lena says into her shoulder, and Kara laughs.
“It went amazing. You did so well! And no one even died!”
So much relief in her voice. Very concerning.
“No offense, Kara, but that’s a pretty low bar to judge by.”
And again Kara looks at her with such love and adoration in her eyes. It makes her skin feel hot. Lena wants to ask if she can kiss her again.
“You’re being so odd today,” she says instead. Kara pulls her against her side, arm wrapped tight around her shoulders, and walks her further back stage towards her private exit.
“I’m sorry. I’m just having a great day, my favorite one so far.”
She slides her free hand into Lena’s, laces their fingers together.
“But you know what? I bet tomorrow will be even better.”
Lena wakes to thunder.
The storms should be clearing, or at least that’s what the weather report said last night. Sunny days ahead.
Lena stretches and feels the crack up her spine. She breathes deep, smiles at the bits of sun she can see peeking around the clouds.
It’s only just begun but Lena’s sure Kara was right - today is going to be even better.
How did she get so lucky?