It was raining.
Not a gentle patter of drops but a waterfall of pounding, painful water pellets. Lena’s suit jacket was soaked from the deluge and her blouse, already torn and grime encrusted, clung to her neck and chest.
Despite the discomfort, she stood resolutely next to the Fire Chief from Fire Station Three. “Miss Luthor,” he began.
“I’m fine, Chief.” They’d played out the same inane conversation nearly a dozen times since Supergirl had dropped Lena off an hour ago. He seemed to think Lena was fragile or prone to collapsing beneath the weight of the horror around her.
Chief Spiele had obviously never met a Luthor.
Lena kept her attention glued to the L-Corp building in the distance. Smoke and flames billowed from multiple windows on what had once been the fifteenth floor. An innocuous section of the L-Corp empire. Offices for Legal and Finance. Mergers and Acquisitions.
And, disguised behind several deliberately empty conference rooms, Lena’s private lab.
The probable target for the incendiary devices (the Chief wouldn’t call them bombs) that had turned Lena’s quiet Saturday into a nightmare.
She’d been lucky. So early on a Saturday morning, only Lena and a skeleton crew of the Security and Facilities staff had been in the building. No one had died as a result of the attack. Not for wont of trying, though. The devices had been expertly set. Lena didn’t know the extent of the structural damage; however, she’d been an eyewitness as portions of the sixteenth floor had sagged or unceremoniously fallen from above, nearly trapping her beneath them.
“Lena!” The shout had barely penetrated the wail of the fire alarms and the second wave of concussive blasts. It wouldn’t have mattered if Supergirl…Kara had used a megaphone. Sound rose and fell like a radio volume knob being randomly turned up and down.
Warm hands carefully slipped under Lena’s shoulders and knees. “I’ve got you. You’re safe.”
As freezing rain continued to weigh down Lena’s clothing and hair, the heat and comfort of strong arms remained an ephemeral barrier to the chill.
Kara hadn’t lingered after leaving Lena safely sheltered by the portico of National City Bank. She’d zipped back into the air only to return time after time with terrified and sometimes injured L-Corp staff. Always with a smile and a kind word.
Always with a single, penetrating glance at Lena. Observing. Judging.
When emergency medical personnel arrived, Lena left the safety of the overhang. Press vans and hordes of reporters and cameramen shoved against the NCPD perimeter containment barrier. The line of hastily-parked radio cars and uniformed officers barely controlled the unruly paparazzi.
Standing with the Chief, soaking wet and with the backdrop of her burning building, Lena would be the focus of every “money shot” and shouted question. Better a waterlogged Luthor than the innocent victims of the explosions.
She ignored all of it in favor of watching Supergirl put out the lingering flames with a blast of freeze breath. Calculated the odds of the building collapsing due to the damage as Supergirl fused several exposed girders together with controlled flashes of lasers from her eyes.
In minutes, L-Corp appeared unharmed – if Lena ignored the missing windows and curls of smoke. If she kept her eyes turned away from the flashing red, white, and blue light bars on the police cars and the blue-clad EMTs caring for her employees.
Boots thudded against concrete. Lena swore she felt Kara’s gaze rake over her and shivered convulsively.
“Chief.” Kara’s voice was so hesitant. So unlike her usual Supergirl persona. She had to look – and nearly gasped as she got caught up in Kara’s intense stare. “I think you and your crew can take it from here. Be careful, though. I’m not an engineer and that structural repair was pretty much a Band-Aid on the problem.”
Kara glanced away from Lena to shake the Chief’s hand. “It’s always a pleasure, Supergirl.” Chief Spiele’s smile was bright. Strangely brighter than Kara’s, whose lips only twitched into a pale facsimile of her normal cheerful and heroic expression.
The handshake lasted seconds. Flashbulbs fired and the harsh white lights of dozens of video cameras lit up their meeting as news crews sought a perfect shot for the lead into the evening news.
Then Kara stepped back, knees bent for takeoff. Until she looked at Lena again.
Lena straightened until her spine threatened to shatter. “Supergirl.” Lillian would have finally been proud of the lack of emotion in Lena’s voice. “L-Corp is in your debt.”
She saw the words hit Kara with the force of a Kryptonite sword. Kara’s face paled and the faltering smile on her lips disappeared completely. The smile rallied. It was so patently fake, and Lena saw the effort Kara made hold it steady. “Le…Miss Luthor.”
Now Lena was the one bolstering her expression. The Chief wouldn’t hear the tremor in Kara’s voice. He wouldn’t see the tears blurring the blue of Kara’s eyes.
Lena did. Lena heard Kara’s throat work as she swallowed.
Lena watched as Kara’s fingers fumbled with the clasps of her cloak.
“You’re cold.” Some of Kara’s normal concern and care bled into her flat tone. “Here. This will keep you warm and dry.” She wrapped the cape around Lena’s head and shoulders. “You can leave it on your balcony when you don’t need it anymore.”
The inference that Kara continued to patrol over L-Corp, continued to keep Lena safe…
In a flash of red, blue, and gold, Kara leapt into the air. Her profile alien without the signature cape billowing behind her.
“We’re lucky to have Supergirl as the guardian of National City,” Chief Spiele said.
“I’m here for you,” Kara’s voice whispered in Lena’s memory.
Bending her head, Lena rubbed her cheek against the smooth material of Kara’s cape. “Yes, we are.”