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Ineligible (according to a bunch of jerks who don't matter)

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“You alright, honey?” Alex asks about six hours into the flight.  

Astra focuses for a moment on Alex’s hand in hers, not on Kara’s nonstop excited babbling to her lover at the front of the borrowed spacecraft.  “I am...not sure,” she admits, slipping into Human idiom with increasing ease after years on Earth. “I should be excited, like Kara.”

“You don’t have to be,” Alex notes, thumb brushing rhythmically along the back of her girlfriend’s hand.  “It’s been a long few months, and, well. There’s no right way to respond to your hometown that you thought was destroyed suddenly being there again.  Or a Kara's new friend being a secret Kryptonian worldkiller.”  

Astra has to admit that she’s right on both counts.  “This is not about the situation with Miss Arias. Or the situation involving her flirting with you.”  

“Hey, she apologized.  And you resisted the urge to hang her off a building.”  

She hung me off a building,” Astra retorts.  

“Technically it was the evil Worldkiller parasite personality that did that.”  Alex shakes her head and changes the subject. “Come on. Talk to me. What’s up, Astra?”  

“When Kara went there, on her first visit--my sister greeted her.  Alura.” Astra leans forward in her seat, thinking, as Alex leans over and reaches an arm around Astra’s shoulders.  “We parted on... poor terms.”  

“Mmh-hmm…”  

“I am worried about seeing her again.  Will she still be angry? It has been years, but after she sentenced me...and after what happened, when Kara and I fought…” 

“Well, Kara’s gonna be there, and so will I.  So, worst comes to worst, we’ll be able to explain things.”  

“And what about... us ?” Astra whispers.  “Kryptonian society was--is…”  

“...highly stratified, kinda snooty.  I know.” Alex kisses the rim of Astra’s ear.  “Probably wouldn’t approve of us. But that’s alright.  If you want to be open about it, we can do that, if not, I’ll be your...your case worker.  Call it that, or something.”

“I…”  Astra’s breath hitches.  “What about Kara and Lena?”  

“Lena owns a Fortune 500 corporation and has an endless font of hope and optimism providing her nonstop emotional support.  Kara started aggressively not caring about what society thinks sometime around the fifth or sixth tabloid headline about her and Lena.  And we’re here for them, too, not to mention that they spent yesterday making contingency plans. You’re the one I’m worried about.  The woman I live with, the woman I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with.  And it’s OK if you don’t want to decide right now, it’s OK if you want to decide when we get there.”  She licks her lips, and Astra’s still-hypersensitive hearing picks it up over the humm of the engines and the burble of conversation from the cockpit.  “Even if you want to pretend we’re not together.”

“I am not ashamed of you,” Astra replies.  “You are the woman I love and Kryptonian social mores will not change that.  I merely...I do not wish for Alura to…that is, she is a proper woman, but still steeped in our high society, and may, perhaps, be offended--possibly.  I do not wish to impugn her, but...well. She is not the woman I knew when she and I were Kara’s age.”

“In what way?”  

Astra shrugs helplessly.  “Much as I am not the woman I was.  We spent decades in vastly divergent careers and lives.”  She shakes her head. “We must cross the bridge at some point.  Perhaps...perhaps we can simply avoid the issue? Not mention it?”  

“Mmh.”  Alex kisses her gently on the cheek.  “Well, I mean it. Whatever you like.”  

“Thank you.  You are the jewel of…”  

“Save the flowery metaphors, General, I know how you can thank me.”  Alex’s index finger strokes along Astra’s jaw, turning the Kryptonian’s head to the side.  

Kissing, Astra has to admit, is a better way of thanking Alex than obscure Kryptonian poetry.  

***

“Mom!” Kara cries the moment the starship’s bay door opens, flinging herself into the arms of Astra’s twin.  Alura has aged, as Astra has; there are a few more lines on the classically beautiful face, the bun perhaps a little less lustrous.  Though that could be the red sun that this planetary fragment orbits, too--Astra rubs her arms with discomfort as she adjusts to the loss of her powers.  After so long, being normal again is like having cotton in her ears, and the inability to hear her love’s heartbeat (the way Astra usually keeps semi-conscious tabs on Alex’s status) has her on edge.  

“Kara!”  The hug is exuberant and involves much spinning in circles, but Kryptonians are a tactile species, and the bounds of formal propriety are relaxed by sheer emotional necessity when it comes to family.  Not even the mostly-noble assembled crowd comments. “You are safe! The operation was successful?”

“Yeah, it went great, Mom, we got the Worldkillers out of Sam and Julia.”  

“Only two?  The third?”

“She was lost before the parasite was awakened,” Astra says.  Eyes turn to her, and Alura...Alura’s eyes widen, but Astra finds herself looking for something, she’s not sure what, and feeling simultaneously relieved and disappointed.  “The one called Pestilence was hosted in the body of a clinical psychopath. Alexandra here was forced to terminate her when she refused to release the parasite personality or consent to the operation.”  

“This Human killed a Worldkiller?” a youth bearing the crest of house Em speaks up.  

“Yeah, and I took down Kara once when she was high on Red Kryptonite,” Alex retorts.  A hushed ripple rolls through the crowd. “Helped that I’m her sister and know all her weaknesses, of course.”  

“Ah, yes, the woman whose family took Kara in!” Alura says, tearing her eyes from Astra’s.  “Welcome, welcome--consider yourself a guest of the House of El for the duration of your stay.  And--who is this?” She nods to Lena.

“Oh!  Lena, Mom.  Mom, Lena. She’s kind of the best Human ever, except for Alex of course, and she’d be the best person ever but I can’t rank her and Alex and you and Aunt Astra, that’d be so unfair!  But yeah she’s wonderful and really really smart and she has this company, L-Corp, she’s trying to use it for good and we’ve been talking about turning it into a democratic cooperative but that might have to wait because of this weird legal problem.”  

“Hello,” says Lena with a nervous wave.  

“Well, your friend is most welcome as well,” Alura says with a smile that manages to avoid being patronizing, though it definitely comes off as clueless.  

“Oh, Lena’s not just…”  

“It is alright, you can tell me everything when we reach the house!  Sister! You are alive!” Alura falters somewhat as she approaches, and Astra’s vision blurs.  It takes her a moment to realize that those are tears. “Astra...are you...are you well?”

“I…”  Astra gives in to her emotions, and falls forward into her sister’s arms.  “I am alive,” she rasps. “I am safe. I have found a home. Earth is...it is beautiful.  Broken and dented and messy and tarnished, careening for a multitude of horrible ends. But beautiful in its own way.”  

“I am glad for you,” Alura murmurs, squeezing her sister tight, fingers slipping into the end of Astra’s mane of loose curls.  “I am sorry. For everything. You were right, despite your methods.”

“I was wrong,” Astra counters.  “Not about what was coming. For using Myriad.  Desperation was not an excuse.”

“Don’t worry,” Alex tells Alura, coming up to lay a gentle hand on Astra’s shoulder.  She shows no reaction to the Kryptonian audience’s shocked looks at the breach of protocol, but Astra is certain that her lover is aware of the crowd’s lack of approval.  “She’s got me now. I keep her on the straight and narrow, she saves the world.”

“Oh?”  Alura pulls back.  “Astra, you saved…”  

“I assisted Kara in stopping the Daxamite Queen’s invasion of Earth,” Astra clarifies.  “And with dealing with Non’s plan to use Myriad to wipe out the Humans. And with eliminating the Worldkillers.  Kara was the core of all three operations, and I was only an advisor during the Myriad incident.”

“From what she told me, you were essential to all three plans,” Alura says, and the sincerity in her eyes makes Astra tear up again.  

“I was one piece of a larger plan.  Kara and Alexandra did the majority of the work.”  

Alex shakes her head with an exasperated huff.  “Yeah, like grabbing the Queen of Daxam and shoving her face through her ship’s main laser cannon after she threatened to blow up that children’s hospital wasn’t a big part of saving the day.  Kara, did you tell your mother about how technically speaking Astra was Queen of Daxam for fifteen minutes?”

Astra flushes.  “Really, there is no need to…”  

What? ” Alura gasps.  “You must explain!”  

“It was really not so exciting, sister…”  

“Kara set up a formal duel with Rhea,” Alex explains.  “Pretty clever stuff, actually, but that’s my sister for you.  Basically, if our champion won, Rhea lost her throne. Rhea won, she got the Earth.  It was supposed to be Kara in the fight, but then we found that Rhea kidnapped Lena and wanted her to carry her grandkid, which was just... ew , so Kara went to save Lena and Astra did the introductory rites instead, but then Rhea threatened the hospital.”  

“I...may have gotten rather upset,” Astra admitted.  

“I was there,” Alex adds.  “It was...it was something.”  

“Aunt Astra won, we locked Rhea up, and Astra abolished the Daxamite monarchy,” Kara summarizes.  “They’re technically a republic now. That was my idea.”

Alura chuckles, holding her sister a mere six inches from her face.   “Modesty does not become you, sister.”

“I did what I thought was right, both at first and then to redeem myself,” Astra whispers.  

“You have done our family proud,” Alura assures her.  “Come! I have arranged a banquet in your and Kara’s honor, back at my residence.  We can discuss whatever you wish there.”

“Of course.”  Astra pulls back, though Alura keeps her hand clasped tightly around Astra’s.   Rao .  That burns, in an odd way, the knowledge that Alura has somehow forgiven her enough to treat her as family once again  

“...and of course all of the heirs to the surviving Great Houses, and those raised to such status after the explosion, will be there, Kara, you’ll have the most wonderful time…”  

“Alura…” Astra tries to say, to warn her sister that Kara is married and the ring on her finger is the Human equivalent of a bonding bracelet, but Astra’s sister is on a roll and really there’s not much to be done at this point.  

“Don’t worry,” Alex whispers as she hooks her arm through Astra’s free one.  “They’ll figure it out soon enough.”

Which misses entirely the point that Astra doesn’t really want to suffer through the parade of youth being offered to Kara for possible courtship (and inevitable rejection), but at this point there’s not much to be done.  

***

The reception hall at the House of El complex is just as grand as Astra remembers, even though the outlying buildings have mostly been loaned to lesser families due to Argo City’s population and space constraints.  Vast, empty space, framed by baroque stone columns and great statues of famous Els long past that’ve mostly been repaired after Krypton’s collapse.

It’s the only place in the universe that can make Astra feel simultaneously boxed in and agoraphobic.  

“You alright?” Alex asks, slipping up behind Astra in silence amid the burbling conversation that surrounds them.  Not for the first time, Astra wishes that she had decisively decided how to handle their relationship. “I’m here if you need anything, remember.”  

“I am alright,” Astra replies, turning with a smile as she sees how well Kryptonian formal robes favor her lover’s form.  “You look wonderful, Alexandra.”

“Thanks,” Alex replies with a faint blush.  “So do you.”

Astra wants to kiss her right there, and she can tell that Alex does, too.  She sort of awkwardly lurches forward, but catches herself at the last moment and sort of stumbles against Alex, still unsure how much intimacy is appropriate.  

“Whoah there, General,” Alex murmurs with a hint of a giggle.  “If you wanted this dance you could’ve just asked.”

Astra straightens herself and clears her throat.  “Yes. That is...exactly what I wanted. It is...ah...appropriate, as you are a Human dignitary on this mission…”  

Alex nods in agreement, but Astra can’t help but wince at the hurt in her eyes.  Alex will never admit it, but she wants to push Astra into a decision, wants to claim the General in full view of half the surviving population of long-lost Krypton, and damn the consequences.  And Astra hates that she’s too afraid , too nervous amid her emotional turmoil at being on a piece of Krypton once more, seeing thousands she had thought dead, to reciprocate, to claim her lover’s lips  in a passionate embrace for all to see and…

“What’s up?” Alex asks just above the hum of conversation, pulling Astra from her thoughts.  They’re spinning in a rough circle through the center of the dance floor, Astra’s body on autopilot as Alex tries to follow the Kryptonian formal dance properly.  “I can tell you’re thinking about something other than dancing right now.”

“I...I want you,” Astra pleads.  “I want to claim you here and now.”  

“But?”  

“I don’t...will Alura understand?  All these other survivors? Should I be this worried?  Will they shun us?”

“Does it matter?” Alex murmurs.  “Either way, your sister’s going to find out about Kara and Lena pretty soon, I think Lena’s going to murder the next Kryptonian to get paraded in front of them.”  

“Mmh, women in my family seem to have a history of being oblivious.”  

Alex coughs as she remembers her and Astra’s accidental first date.  “Yeah, uh...yeah, Kara literally introduced herself to Lena as Kara Gay, right?  Haha, that was something…”

“Not quite as oblivious as us, though.”  

“Hey, I kissed you by the end of that night, right?”  

“Mmh, those were good kisses.”  

“I wonder what happened to those women with the polyamorous thing going on.”  

“Kara mentioned a Sara, Nyssa, and Ava during that last trip she took to fight Nazis with her friend from that other universe.”  

“Oh, right, the time we were on vacation.”  The one and only time that Alex had ever taken a vacation, because Astra had wanted to save a pod of trapped killer whales and Alex had gone along to keep an eye on her, but then they’d ended up walking around Seattle after saving the day and Astra had managed to convince Alex to take the week to just enjoy the city.  It had probably helped that J’onn had outright ordered Alex to take the break, after months fighting Kara’s evil mother-in-law and her nefarious plans to break up Kara and Lena’s wedding. “Wait, Kara knows those women?”  

“I will ask to make certain,” Astra promises.  “She did reference interacting with women by those names, though.”  

“Mmh.”  Alex pulls Astra in and they lean against each other, swaying in place with the music.  “How’re you holding up?”

“Well, we don’t seem to be making much of a scene.  Yet.”

“Probably ‘cause Kara’s busy rejecting suitors.”  

Astra huffs with suppressed laughter at that.  “Indeed.”

The song ends, and they regretfully break apart.  “How much longer can they possibly…” Astra begins, but then a woman in Council-marked formal robes steps up, holding a hand out.  

“General In-Ze, I am Selena Kel-Dor.  May I have this dance?”

“I…”  Astra is torn between irritation at the interjection and the shock of someone important wanting to dance with a disgraced criminal .  “I...was speaking with my...with Alexandra.”  

“Yes, yes, but your pet Human can wait, can’t she?” Selena asks with a smile, ignoring Alex as the woman bristles at the word pet .  “It would be good for us to be seen dancing together, General.”  

“Why?” Astra challenges, irked at the woman’s rudeness towards Alex.  

Selena chuckles.  “I thought that obvious.  How many proposals do you think that you might have today?”   

Astra stammers, blindsided.  “P...proposals?”

“Yes, a proposal for a marriage contract.”  Alex looks as surprised and confused as Astra feels.  Selena continues like a bull in a china shop. “Obviously the pickings for you will be fairly slim in polite society, you have put this off for a while after all, but your nature should not be a concern anymore, at least in public.”  

“My nature ?”  Astra stammers it, feeling like she’s about to swallow her own tongue all the while.  

Selena’s smile doesn’t meet her eyes.  “Yes. Frankly, someone as eligible as the daughter of Kel-Dor is taking a considerable risk in associating with an error of the Codex.  Fortunately, I am a magnanimous soul, if we visit what’s left of Matricomp today we should be wed by the end of the next quarter-cycle.” She lays a hand on Astra’s arm, and Astra is too stunned to jerk away.  She wants Astra ?  What is this, some political play?  But why would a lady in good standing want to associate with a damaged-goods spinster?  “Really, you’re not going to find a better offer, given how many of the lower classes died with Krypton.  Most of our remaining population has such careful taste, you know.”  

“Ok, bitch,” Alex snarls, shaking out of her daze to shove Selena aside.  “Take your negging crap and fuck off .”  

“I beg your pardon?”  

“You heard me, bitch !”  Alex grabs Astra around the shoulders and pulls her close, Astra’s vision going blurry as her breath comes in gasps.  “You have the gall to try and neg my girlfriend right in front of me?  The most perfect woman I know, who’s done more, better things, saved more people and done more good than you ever will, and you have the nerve to pull a bunch of negging crap straight out of a pick-up-artist ‘manual’ right in front of me ?”  Alex’s arm goes down and Astra jumps as Alex’s hand grips her buttock.  “Astra’s mine , Selena!  And I’m hers .  I’ll be damned if I’ll let some arrogant little floozy with delusions of being attractive try to bother my girlfriend into fucking her right in front of me !”  She stands there panting for breath, face red with rage as she continues to hold Astra with one arm, and Astra realizes that she’s never been in love with Alex more.  

Selena, wide-eyed, stutters uncontrollably for a moment, then falls silent.  The only sound is Alex’s harsh breaths, Astra too busy processing what just happened to exhale.  Then Alura breaks the silence.

“Sister...you...and this Human?”  

Astra leans into Alex as the other woman adjusts her hold, letting Astra melt into an equal half-hug, breathing coming hard but even.  “Ah, yes,” Astra manages, finally finding her voice again. “We...we have been together some two years.”

“She tried to get me a date and ended up being the date instead of my wingman,” Alex adds.  Her thumb strokes along Astra’s cheek, and Astra finds herself cupping Alex’s cheek with her hand in response.  

“You...a…but...Human...what...”  Alura shakes her head. “Did you at least make my sister an honest woman, Alexandra Danvers?”  

“Uh…” Alex manages, blushing suddenly with embarrassment.  “We haven’t gotten around to a formal proposal yet?” It comes out in a squeak.  

Kara rolls her eyes with a snort from where she’s standing arm in arm with her wife.  Alura crosses her arms with a disapproving frown.

“How dare you!  My sister is a daughter of the Sixteenth House, and I am head of the Second by marriage, as well as second-ranking member of the Council of Argo.  Codex error or not, Astra In-Ze is a lady of high standing, not to mention my beloved sister , and it is intolerably rude to string her along for so long without at least a betrothal!”  

“Alura…” Astra manages, brain finally catching up to the rest of her.  

“Mom!” Kara protests, to no avail.  

Alex bites her lip.  “I...um…” She’s flushing deeper red now, and Astra steps up to the metaphorical plate.  

“Alura, I am satisfied with Alexandra’s and my current living arrangement.  We have lived together for two Earth years and remain close with no sign of lasting dispute.  That she has not progressed to a formal betrothal does not mean…”

“Well, you’re not on Earth right now,” Alura points out.  “Now, I don’t mind that she’s a Human, but she could at least --”  

“If they won’t even formally arrange a betrothal, then what validity can this relationship have?” Selena snarls.  Astra’s head turns whiplash-quick, but the other Kryptonian’s ego is bruised and apparently that is sufficient distraction that she doesn’t notice the warning signs.  “This barbarian alien has insulted a lady of a Great House with its manipulations, and its claim clearly has no validity! I demand..guh!”

Astra’s fist hits Selena’s face with a wet thwack of exploding blood vessels, shattering the woman’s nose and crushing the ruined cartilage against her skull.  Selena stumbles backward with a moan and collapses to the floor, twitching.

Never insult my Alexandra again,” Astra snarls.  There’s a hand on her arm; she turns to see Alex gripping her elbow gently, a faint smile on her lips as she leans in, and something primal seizes control of Astra’s brain and…

As kisses go, Astra and Alex have had better on strict mechanical terms, but the emotional punch of just letting go and crashing together, arms wrapping around each other in an intimate embrace that sends a fresh round of gasps and shocked muttering through the room, tongues seeking…

Kara clears her throat from behind Alex.  “Um, Alex, Aunt Astra? I think this woman needs a doctor.  And, uh, I think you broke Mom.”

Grudgingly they break apart.  Alura is white as a sheet, but manages a weak albeit genuine smile in response to Astra’s worried look.  Selena remains on the ground, still whimpering and clutching her face.

“My hero,” Alex whispers in Astra’s ear.  It’s Astra’s turn to blush.

“Yes...of course...medical attention…” Alura manages.  “Call for a healer! Val-Or! Lady Kel-Dor has broken her nose, she requires assistance at once!”  

Astra doesn’t feel an ounce of regret.  She turns back to Alex, drawing her lover back into her embrace.  “I think…” she murmurs, as the crowd descends into scandalized whispering, “that I have remembered what I could not stand about Kryptonian high society.” Alex’s strong arms hold her close as the Human’s chest shudders with a laugh.  

“I love you too.”  

Astra pulls her up for a kiss.  Alura makes a scandalized noise, but Astra is fairly certain that she will recover.  

“You know,” Alex murmurs, “I might be able to make Alura happy, at least.”  

“Oh?” Astra asks.  “She will come around, I am certain…” but then she stops cold, because Alex is kneeling and holding Astra’s hands in one of hers as Alex’s other hand stretches out to…  

“Kara?” Alex hisses after a moment, as several lower-ranking Kryptonians haul Selena’s unconscious body away.  

“Oh, right!” Kara gasps.  “Lena! I need your purse, the box , the box in your purse!” 

“Alexandra…” Astra whispers, her breath catching.  

The box is handed over to Alex, who fumbles it open, revealing two slim silver bracelets.  A gasp ripples through the room.

“Astra In-Ze, I love you more than anything.  Will you make me the happiest--”

“Yes,” Astra whispers, and pulls Alex up into another kiss.  Kara sniffles, and Alura lets out a muffled sob behind them.

“Oh, how beautiful,” Alura whimpers through what sound like happy tears, Astra and Alex too busy gazing into each other’s eyes with dopey smiles as they slip the bracelets on.  “The first Human-Kryptonian couple, too--it will be a wedding for the ages!”

“Uh, Mom…”  Kara interjects with a careful tone.  “They’re third. After me and Lena, and Kal and Lois.  Lois is expecting, too, so she and Kal are going to have a half-Kryptonian to figure out how to raise soon.”  

WHAT????? ”  

***

“My daughter married a Human,” Alura says for the 50somethingth time.  

“Yes,” Astra agrees with her, also for the 50somethingth time.  Alura has long since made it clear that she doesn’t want a different response.  

“My daughter married a Human without requesting her bride’s parents’ permission or the approval of the Humans’ equivalent of Matricomp.”  

“Yes.”  Alura definitely does not care that the Humans do not have a Matricomp.  Of that Astra is certain. “Though, Lillian Luthor was... less than happy at news of the engagement.”  As was Lex Luthor, who broke out of prison specifically to try to kidnap Lena, and had to be forcefully returned by Astra, Kara, and Kal-El.  

“My daughter married a Human and has been living with her.”  The spaceship shudders as they hit Earth’s atmosphere.  Alex gently strokes Astra’s back as the General listens to Alura’s attempt to cope.  

“You are handling this much better than the rest of the Council,” Astra notes, as she has for the past forty or so times they’ve had this conversation.  The rest of the Council is currently engaged in a truly impressive degree of pointless internecine argument (or was, when the erstwhile diplomats left with Alura), largely springing from the unwillingness of the Kryptonian nobility (or what remains of it, anyway) to admit that certain non-Kryptonian species are biologically similar enough to Kryptonians to be attractive.  

I missed my only daughter’s wedding ,” Alura moans, and holds her face in her hands as she bursts into tears (again).  Astra pats her gently on the back as Alex hugs herself close to Astra in a chain of emotional support.  

“I am certain that they will hold an anniversary ceremony or some such and have you attend,” Astra reassures her sister.  “Kara loves you deeply and is quite grateful to know that you are alive, she will be thrilled--er, that is a human term for great excitement and happiness--to include you.”  

“She does not hate me!” Alura moans, then cries with what is probably joy.  Astra isn’t quite certain how to handle this--they are now deviating from Alura’s impromptu script.  

“Yes, there was some anger over your concealment of my sentence from her, but we have spoken about that and she has made peace with the matter.”  After a moment, Astra adds, “You may wish to discuss it with her. And…” She licks her lips, mouth suddenly dry. “You saved me.”

Alura raises her head, and her reddened, tearful eyes meet Astra’s.  “What?”

“By apprehending and sentencing me.  You spared me from Krypton’s destruction.  Without that, I would never have met Kara on Earth...would never have redeemed myself for my mistakes…”  She licks her lips again, dropping to a whisper as her own vision blurs from tears. “Never would have met Alexandra.”  Alex kisses her on the earlobe, and Astra reaches her free arm around her lover for a gentle squeeze.

Alura half-lunges for Astra with a desperate sob, collapses onto the General’s shoulders, and the women’s seating arrangement becomes an awkward three-way group hug as Alura and Astra cry on each other’s shoulders.  

“Earmuffs time,” Alex murmurs after a few minutes, and Astra processes that for a moment before pulling back.  The ship’s engines have stopped, and Astra can already feel her powers returning.

“Ear-muffs?” Alura asks, wiping tears from her eyes with a sniffle.  

“Your senses will be supernaturally keen,” Astra explains.  “Adaptation will take a few days to weeks.”

“Our toaster would say it takes years , honey,” Alex murmurs, pecking Astra’s cheek.  Astra flushes bright red.

“I apologized!”  

Alex  chuckles.  “I know. I was teasing you.”  She swoops in again, and their lips meet as Astra grabs the earmuffs from a storage locker.  

As they leave the starship, Alura blinking in confusion as her X-ray vision develops, Astra helping her sister along as Kara floats carefully behind them, J’onn steps forward from the rough circle of DEO personnel waiting around the ship, a familiar face by his side.  

“Lucy!” Kara says with a happy wave.  “How was vacation?”

“Great, Supergirl; how was yours?”  

“Amazing!  My mom’s here for...at least a few months, for diplomacy.  And Lena and I kissed in the park. And Alex proposed and Astra accepted!”  Alex raises her braceleted arm with a beatific smile as Kara announces it.

There is a brief moment as Lucy’s eyes go wide, then a collective groan sweeps through the DEO personnel.  

“HA!” shouts Agent Vasquez with glee.  “I TOLD you! Pay up, kiddies!” And to Astra’s wearily unsurprised dismay, every single other agent , including Lucy, starts passing twenty-dollar bills.  Vasquez appears to have made several thousand dollars, and gleefully begins counting her money as Kara gasps with indignation and Alex pinches the bridge of her nose.  

“A- hem ,” growls J’onn.  Vasquez passes him about half of the bills.  

“Even you , sir?” Alex groans.  

The Martian’s lips curl up in a ghost of a smile.  “Agent Danvers, I didn’t need telepathy to see how close you and General In-Ze are.  Also, as Director, I hear everything that HR knows. Speaking of which, Vasquez, Pam from HR will need a share, as well.”  

“What is going on?” Alura asks in confusion, still blinking rapidly.  

“Oh, it’s, uh, stupid office drama,” Lucy says.  “Everybody bet on when Alex and Astra would get engaged and who would ask.”  She approaches Alura slowly, with a gentle smile. “Welcome to Earth, Lady In-Ze.  My name’s Lucy Lane.”

“A...Alura,” stammers Alura, staring wide-eyed at the uniformed Human.  “Greetings, um, Lucy.”

“We’re going to need to examine you because it’s your first time on Earth, but Kara and Astra can be there with you if you like.  I’ll oversee personally so you won’t need to worry about anything.”

“Thank you,” Alura whispers, then licks her lips and clears her throat.  “Thank you,” she repeats more strongly.

“Just doing my job, milady,” Lucy says with a disarming smile, and Alura flushes, lowering her eyes bashfully.  

Astra sees Vasquez begin to take a new set of bets, catches the woman’s eye, and holds up three fingers where Alura cannot see them, before Kara glares at her and Alex reaches around to tug Astra’s arm down.  

Astra is going to be in a lot of trouble tonight.  But it’s worth it.