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i know you don’t believe (it’s you i’ve waited for)

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Lena has to wonder, as she carefully styles her hair into a Lillian-approved updo for the impending gala, if she’ll ever really get used to having a soulmate.

She’s gone whole human lifetimes carrying the weight of her upbringing. Sharing was dangerous; opening up only gave the opportunity to be hurt. But sharing with Kara had felt good. In the moment it was painful, of course, reliving every terrible detail of her past and letting Kara watch what she has always considered her moments of greatest weakness – but like setting a broken bone, the pain had allowed for a surprising sort of healing. When she woke up the morning after, it was to a Kara who loved her just the same as she did before. Perhaps even more, now that the trauma-sharing field between them was levelled. They know each other on a fundamental level, each other’s thoughts and fears and abilities. As a team, they’re downright unstoppable.

And the sex is a definite bonus, Lena notes with a shiver as she glances at the large and badly-patched hole Kara’s fist left in the drywall behind her bed last night. Lena had hardly even noticed when Kara went through the solid mahogany headboard at the time. Now, the memory warms her for the whole car ride to the venue.

Everything seems so much easier now, so comically simple in comparison to before, that Lena could hit herself for how stubborn she’s been.

It didn’t take long for the domino effect of Mercy’s arrest and subsequent investigation to take down Max Lord’s credibility. The inquest into her financials, helped by Sam’s unearthing of her offshore accounts and a little investigative journalism spearheaded by Kara, left a money trail that’s impossible not to follow, and within weeks his campaign for Mayor was brought to an unceremonious end as he fled the city for what Lena knows is a sizeable property in the Maldives.

While she was worried at first, Lena has to applaud Andrea’s acting skills, because Lillian has her announcing her last-minute candidacy within the week. And it wouldn’t be a Luthor production without a grand party to kick it all off.

The gala is, somehow, more worrying than any part of their plan that came before it. Lena has been to what feels like a thousand Luthor galas over the years, always keeping to the edges to observe rather than playing an active part, and she knows the dance of these events like the back of her hand by now; however, this is the first time in all her years of life that she’s had to be at one with Kara also in attendance as a member of the media, and according to Sam, Lena’s poker face has all but disappeared when it comes to the blonde.

Lillian had seriously considered blocking CatCo from the media list for the event, and Lena had seriously considered encouraging it. But in the end Lillian decided that it would likely raise more questions than it would prevent, and now that the day has arrived Lena has to figure out how to be in a room with Kara without making her feelings clear to anyone in a hundred-foot radius.

She fails before Kara even arrives.

“You’d think you’re the one who’s in the spotlight.”

Lena had somehow missed Andrea’s presence in her preoccupation with Kara’s impending entrance, and she smooths her hands over her dress nervously. She chose one that appears conservatively cut, made of a thick material with a lace overlay, but she knows that the collared neckline draws attention to her throat; and as much as she wants to fly under the radar, she can’t help but want to capitalize on Kara’s apparent weakness for it. She wants Lillian to ignore her – she wants Kara to see her.

Andrea hands her a champagne flute, which Lena takes gratefully if only to have something to fidget with besides her outfit.

“I’m always nervous when my mother is around,” Lena mutters, taking a deep swallow. The alcohol won’t affect her, but sometimes it’s nice to pretend.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this jumpy,” Andrea says, low and close to her ear. There’s no telling who might be listening, here, and they have to be careful with specifics. Lena has placed herself near the band for a reason, where the string instruments should drown out most quiet conversation. “Has there been some kind of change I should know about?”

Lena shakes her head imperceptibly. “No, nothing like that. I’m just feeling a bit –“

The rest of the sentence is lost in a soft wheeze when Kara enters the ballroom.

The difference between Kara in her civilian alias and in her Supergirl identity has always been striking. Supergirl radiates power and confidence, where Kara Danvers is intentionally meek and unassuming. She either stands out as one of Earth’s most prominent aliens, or she’s blending into the crowd to appear human. There are parts of the Kara that she knows in each persona, sure, but the only time Lena truly sees Kara fully as herself with no addendums is when they’re alone together, or arguably when Kara is with Alex.

When Kara strolls into what amounts to a viper’s den wearing a tailored suit in deep blue, her hair drawn up into a sleek coif that Lena has never seen before and a CatCo media badge hanging proudly around her neck, Lena might have had to do a double take to make sure it was really her if it weren’t for the way her heart aches the second Kara is in the room.

Lena has noticed, lately, that Kara has been more and more daring in her civilian wardrobe. She’s been less likely to wear the pastels and skirts that Lena associated with her when she first met Kara’s alias, and has instead been favouring fitted pants and thick leather belts, button-ups and jewel tones. It’s undeniably masculine, and Kara’s self-assurance has increased exponentially with every passing day. Perhaps, Lena thinks as Kara meets her eyes and grins with utter confidence, this is the first public appearance of Kara Zor-El. Of Kara blending all parts of herself into a whole, and letting the world see it.

The second they’re sharing space, Lena’s nerves disappear. Just an automatic, unwitting reaction to her proximity.

Everything is going to be okay.

“Ah,” Andrea says, her hand tightening on her champagne flute. It startles Lena out of her thoughts, and she realizes that for the second time, she’s forgotten Andrea’s presence. “Of course. I should have guessed.”

“Guessed what?” Lena asks, drawing her eyes away from Kara.

Her,” Andrea inclines her head towards Kara, thankfully refraining from saying Kara’s name out loud. With Lillian in earshot, Lena would prefer any association between them be as vague as possible. “Finally figured it out, I assume?”

Lena can feel a horribly conspicuous blush climbing up her exposed shoulders, and she fans herself with a napkin idly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Come on, Lena. I know you. I’ve never seen you go from so stressed to so relaxed, especially with Lillian nearby.” Andrea’s voice is strained, and she clears her throat before taking a delicate sip from her glass. “So, you must have worked out whatever issues were holding you back.”

Holding you back from me remains unsaid, but Lena can hear it in the pointed silence Andrea leaves.

Andrea is observant. She’s always been extraordinarily good at telling when Lena is lying, and she knows that if she tried it now, it would only hurt Andrea more than telling the truth. So Lena finds Kara in the crowd again, drawing strength from the reassuring ease of her movement through the ballroom.

“Yes,” she murmurs, watching Kara snag a glass of scotch from a passing tray, sip it, and wince dramatically. She meets Lena’s eyes again, holding the glass up subtly as if to say ‘you like this stuff?, and Lena smiles. “We figured it out.”

We,” Andrea says, her eyes soft and almost mournful. “That’s telling. You’ve always been an I.”

“I can be both,” Lena says, and Andrea snorts quietly.

“I’m happy for you, Lena.”

She very clearly isn’t, but Lena appreciates the effort. She squeezes Andrea’s arm, and as she does she catches Kara’s eyes again over her shoulder. Kara is talking to someone, her little tape recorder on the table as she takes diligent notes, but she’s doing it without looking at the notepad. Her focus, her eyes, are all on Lena.

The attention makes it very difficult for Lena to keep her distance. She and Kara skirt around each other for most of the night, never interacting but always close – Kara charms the guests, conducts short interviews, and eats her weight in hors d’oeuvres (she favours the platters of dumplings, Lena notices), while Lena skulks around the periphery trying her best to remain unnoticed. She almost thinks that they’ve managed to fly under the radar, until Lillian sidles up next to her at the bar as the party is starting to wind down.

“Cavorting with humans again?” Lillian drawls, taking a delicate sip of her new flute of champagne. “I thought I’d taught you better.”

Like a shot of adrenaline a surge of wild panic sparks in Lena, squeezing the breath from her lungs. She’d been so careful, so calculated, and knowing that Lillian had noticed anyways makes her blood run cold. But with some careful breathing she regulates the thunder of her heartbeat, knowing full well that Lillian will notice if she lets her body react for too long.

Lillian noticed her connection with Kara, and is commenting on it to make her feel ashamed. But, Lillian said human. She thinks Kara is human, which means she doesn’t know that Kara is Supergirl. Which means she can’t know anything about their alliance, or their true connection.

All Lena has to do now is exactly what she’s done for the last 100 years – she has to act her ass off.

“What I do or do not do with a human is none of your concern,” Lena says coolly, forcing her voice to be even and gesturing to the bartender for another drink. Something harder than champagne, this time.

Lillian turns, one condescending brow perfectly arched.

“Isn’t it? I am your mother. I’m supposed to shape you into the best you can be.”

You’re supposed to nurture me, Lena thinks furiously. You’re supposed to care. But she swallows the thought, focusing entirely on selling the ruse she’s making up on the spot.

“Aren’t you always telling me I should find more outlets for feeding? Maybe I’m following your advice.”

Lillian scoffs. “I know you, Lena. You’re soft. You’ll grow attached, and then you’ll submit to your nature and break her. How many times must I teach you this lesson?”

It takes everything Lena has not to flinch at the reminder.

Lillian isn’t wrong about her pattern. It was so difficult to control herself in the beginning, when everything was new and unfamiliar, before she knew her limits and triggers. Lex had made her into a monster without teaching her how to live as one, and he seemed to take a perverse sort of delight in watching her fumble at normalcy while fighting her instincts. And when those instincts overpowered her reason and she ended up hurting humans, all the better.

It had only taken a few instances of lashing out and traumatizing people she considered friends for her to withdraw from human society completely.

But Kara is different. Kara isn’t human, and Lena can’t hurt her accidentally. Kara knows who Lena is, what she is, and trusts her. Kara knows every dark, terrible part of Lena’s soul and somehow, still loves her.

Kara believes in her, and Lena can do this.

“Well, if you must know, I’ve finally learned it,” Lena says, taking a measured sip of scotch as she constructs a lie that she can only hope will be convincing. “The human is a reporter for CatCo. Works directly under Cat Grant. She’s enamored with me…and she’s talkative. A few weeks more, and I’ll be able to wring Cat’s every move out of her.”

For the first time in recent memory, the look that Lillian turns on Lena is impressed rather than disappointed. She narrows her eyes, scanning Lena for the slightest hint of dishonesty – but she seems satisfied with what she finds, and with an airy chuckle she taps her glass against Lena’s.

“Well, well. Here’s to finally living up to your potential.”

Lena drinks to the toast, and the only thing keeping her stomach from roiling at Lillian’s twisted approval is knowing that Kara is nearby and listening. She knows that Kara can hear the successful deception, and is truly proud of her for surviving the encounter in a way that Lillian could never be.

When Lillian glides off to schmooze with potential donors, her absence is filled almost immediately by the object of Lena’s thoughts. Kara presses herself close to Lena’s back, ignoring the bartender in favour of kissing the shell of Lena’s ear.

“You’re incredible,” Kara murmurs, her broad hand resting heavy and warm on Lena’s waist. “You know that?”

“It’s why you’re so enamoured with me,” Lena replies, glancing Lillian’s way. Her mother is watching them, but her eyes avert back to her own conversation easily. For now, the scam is holding up.

“One of many reasons.”

Lena scoffs lightly, putting on airs of disinterest that she knows Kara can feel are only for show. “You’re just happy you’re allowed to be close to me now.”

“That is part of it, yeah,” Kara admits, her voice low and stirring. Lena can feel Kara moving forward, pressing her lightly into the bartop, and it brings back deliciously recent memories of Kara pressing her into various surfaces in her apartment. Last night, when Kara had pinned her into the shower wall and so hard that she cracked the tile, is particularly prominent in her mind. “Acting like a lovesick human puppydog following you around isn’t exactly going to be difficult.”

“Shh,” Lena says, knowing full well that as long as she can’t hear Lillian’s conversation, Lillian can’t hear theirs – but that could change at any second. Anything from Kara’s words to Lena’s now-thudding heartbeat could tip her off. “Subtlety.”

“Would it be subtle if I asked you to dance?”

Lena swallows, gripping the wood of the bartop to ground herself. More than anything in this moment she wants to say yes, to have Kara lead her onto the dancefloor and pull her close in full view of everyone. But the lie she sold to Lillian is tenuous, and she knows without a doubt that if she even turned around right now to look Kara in the face, her real feelings would radiate without her consent.

“I’m not sure if that’s a good idea,” Lena says reluctantly, but Kara seems to have expected it. She tugs on Lena’s wrist, inclining her head towards a nearby balcony.

“Follow me.”

“A balcony isn’t exactly subtle,” Lena says as Kara leads them outside, the doors still open to the gala. “It’s nice out here, but –”

Kara doesn’t answer. She just approaches the railing in a spot hidden from most of the ballroom, and holds out a hand with a smile. Lena looks down at it, taking it in her own without hesitation. There’s no hesitation, anymore.

“Where are we going?” Lena asks, as Kara pulls her close and starts to float.

“Not far.”

They land softly in the darkened gardens two storeys below, and Kara sets Lena down on the grass with a cheeky grin. Immediately Lena’s stilettos sink into the soft ground, and she sighs, looking up at Kara from at least an inch lower than she should be.

“I didn’t think about that,” Kara mutters, looking down at her own flat-soled dress shoes.

Ordinarily Lena wouldn’t consider taking her shoes off outdoors when her mother is so close by to ridicule her. But even Lillian can’t see them down here, and Kara looks so put out by the obvious oversight to her romantic idea that Lena steps out of her shoes and sets them on a decorative rock, wiggling her toes freely in the (admittedly, pleasantly cool and soft) grass.

Kara looks delighted, kicking her own shoes and socks off to match, and soon Lillian is the furthest thing from Lena’s mind.

“May I have this dance?” Kara asks, bowing and offering her hand with a carefree smile. She looks so at ease, her tie loosened and her feet bare, barely lit by the dim cast from the ballroom windows up above, and Lena has never wanted anything more in her entire life.

Again she accepts Kara’s hand, and Kara draws her into a dance that has no real rhythm. There’s no steps, no structured limb placement – just Kara’s arm tight around her waist, the other holding Lena’s hand to her chest. With neither of them wearing shoes Lena fits perfectly into the crook of Kara’s shoulder, and the music from the ballroom is just loud enough to drift through the window as a backdrop as they lose themselves in a brief private moment.

It’s almost serene. The air is full of the sounds of crickets and night birds, the traffic of the city mostly cut off in this walled-off slice of nature, and Lena is lulled by Kara’s steady heartbeat into an almost Zen-like calm.

“Did you know that your eyes glow in the dark?”

Lena blinks, raising her head from Kara’s shoulder to frown up at her.

“What?”

“Well, not glow exactly,” Kara corrects, kissing the tip of Lena’s nose. “But – they reflect light. It’s all I could see of you, that night you helped Manchester Black escape from me. It’s beautiful. I’ve always thought it was.”

Lena knows, intellectually, that her ability to see in the dark means her eyes look like a cat, flashing in the dark when any light is shed nearby. But having Kara notice feels strange. As does having it be considered a positive attribute.

“Beautiful? I would think more, alarming,” Lena says, laying her head back on Kara’s shoulder. “Haunting. Startling, maybe.”

“It is alarming how beautiful you are.”

Lena rolls her eyes, smacking Kara’s shoulder lightly with their joined hands. “Stop.”

Using their hands as an anchor Kara spins her around, not seeming to stop after a few rotations as expected and instead whirling her around and around until Lena is dizzy and laughing. When she finally stops, pulling their arms taut, Lena loses her balance – but rather than falling over, Kara catches her in a dip.

“Hauntingly gorgeous,” Kara continues with a loopy grin, as the world swirls around them in Lena’s vision. “Startlingly sexual.”

Lena has to cover her mouth to keep from laughing loudly enough to alert the ballroom upstairs.

“Shh,” she whispers half-heartedly, still smiling. “Goof.”

“Yeah, but you like me.”

Kara’s eyes are bright and sparkling with mirth, still holding Lena aloft with a single hand. She presses their foreheads together, an affectionate bump, and Lena has never felt more safe and happy in her life. Her mother be damned, Kara deserves to know it.

Kara leans forward slightly, clearly chasing a kiss – but instead Lena ducks it and leans closer, right next to Kara’s ear.

“I love you.”

Kara inhales sharply, her shoulder tensing under Lena’s hand.

If she didn’t share a bond with her, Lena might think it was a negative response – but she can feel Kara’s real reaction like a fireworks display in her chest, her stomach swooping in tandem. Crackling explosions like a crescendo, pure joy and disbelief at Lena’s confession.

Lena should be terrified. But when Kara pulls back, straightening both of them and looking at Lena like she’s just given her something precious, she only feels a warm sort of happiness at making Kara so happy.

“You do?” Kara asks, her eyes brimming with tears that Lena knows are pure joy; and Lena cups her face, smiling at the surprise she sees there.

“You know I do. You can feel it.”

“Feeling it is different than saying it.”

“I know,” Lena says, brushing the wet trail from Kara’s cheek. “And I’m saying it.”

Kara catches her wrist, kissing the palm of her hand in what’s becoming a familiar and comforting gesture. “I love you, too.”

“That’s pretty obvious.”

Kara laughs, a relieved exhalation to the sky that feels like a thank you. When they kiss it’s through smiles, with their heads in the clouds and their bare toes in the dirt, and Lena’s troubles are as far away as the stars.

“No matter what happens, remember this. Okay?” Lena says quietly, against Kara’s lips. She presses a hand to Kara’s chest, firmly over her heart. “Remember how I feel about you.”

“What do you mean?” Kara asks, that familiar sweet crinkle forming between her brows as she tries to parse Lena’s meaning. But Lena herself doesn’t know exactly what she means – just that she needs a moment of affirmation, a confirmation that Kara will be with her through anything. That whatever surprises her mother pulls over their eyes, Kara will never give up on her.

“Just promise me,” Lena says, and Kara nods without hesitation.

“Of course, Lena.”

Kara wraps her arms fully around Lena, tucking Lena’s face into the crook of her shoulder again, and Lena’s worries fade away. Lillian might as well be on a different planet - the distant music switches to an upbeat tempo, and for a little while, Lena forgets.

 


 

Since she was a child, the most terrifying thing in the world to Lena has been the cold anger of the Luthors. The mania simmering just below the surface of their façade of calm. Even now, when she likes to think she’s evolved past trying to impress her stepmother, weathering her disapproval still makes Lena’s insides freeze. Nothing, she had thought, could be more anxiety-inducing than Lillian’s piercing stare or Lex’s unpredictable explosions of temper.

That was before Lena agreed to sit at a dinner table with Clark Kent.

It’s been awkward since the moment Clark crossed the threshold of Kara’s apartment. Lois’ handshake and smile had been warm and genuine, but the tall figure behind her had been significantly less so – his handshake just a little too firm, his smile just a little too fixed. The small talk - mostly facilitated by Lois and Kara - peters out almost as soon as Kara puts the food on the table, and the silence as they all eat their chicken piccata is deafening.

“So, Kara,” Lois finally says, breaking the quiet so suddenly that Lena almost drops her fork, “this is delicious. I had no idea you were such a good cook.”

“Lena helped,” Kara supplies immediately, squeezing Lena’s free hand on top of the table. “She’s really great at cooking.”

“I thought vampires only needed to eat the blood of innocent people,” Clark mutters, spearing a piece of broccoli. “Or is that just Luthors?”

Clark!” Kara snaps, putting her fork down forcefully.

Clark has the decency to look slightly abashed at the jab, especially after Lois kicks him under the table, but Lena finds herself not caring for his remorse. She’s been on the defensive since this morning, waiting on pins and needles for Clark’s arrival knowing that he still judges her based on her brother, and like a cobra her anger rises and strikes to mask her hurt.

“It was really Kara who did most of the cooking. She learned from Eliza. You know, the woman you abandoned her with when she was 12.”

Lena regrets it the moment it leaves her mouth. She can feel Kara’s stab of hurt at the reminder when the salt shaker shatters in Clark’s fist; and Lena, suddenly reminded of the toxic and sometimes violent family dinners of her childhood before the veil of fae secrecy dropped, stands abruptly. Her chair screeches across the hardwood, and Kara grabs for her hand but Lena pulls it away.

“Excuse me,” Lena manages to say, before making a beeline for the front door.

It’s hardly closed behind her before Kara has followed, and Lena has to press a hand to her chest to fight through the war of Kara’s anxiety and her own blending there.

“I’m sorry, Kara. I should go,” Lena says, taking a few measured breaths and leaning against the wall. “I should never have come in the first place.”

“What? Why?”

“He’s clearly uncomfortable with me being here,” Lena says, inclining her head back towards the apartment. “And I clearly react to that by being defensive. I could feel your hurt in there. I should leave you to spend time together – my presence is counterproductive.”

Kara frowns, tugging Lena forward by the front of her sweater. “Let him be uncomfortable.

“Kara –“ Lena protests, halfheartedly trying to untangle Kara’s hands from her shirt, but Kara just moves them to sit on her hips.

I want you here,” Kara says firmly, following Lena’s eyes when she tries to avoid contact. “You’re my soulmate, and if he’s not comfortable with you, he’s going to have to get used to it.” She seals the statement with a soft kiss, and Lena can’t help but relax at the contact.

“You’re sweet,” she murmurs, kissing the tip of Kara’s nose. “But we need Lois’ help, and if his distrust of me means he won’t –“

“He said he would trust you,” Kara says, her determined expression turning almost pouty. “He promised.”

“He did promise,” Clark’s voice interrupts from the doorway, and Lena jumps, pulling away from Kara slightly. She knows it’s silly, but it seems somehow like she’s doing something wrong by kissing his cousin right in front of him. “Could I talk to Lena privately?”

Clark looks much less guarded than before, almost contrite, but Kara still frowns at him.

“Are you going to insult her?”

“Kara, it’s fine,” Lena says, squeezing her hand. “I shouldn’t have snapped back.”

“No, I deserved it, Clark says, holding up a hand when Lena tries to politely protest. “I did. I swear, I just want to talk.”

Kara allows him to pass, stepping back into the apartment and closing the door, but Lena has absolutely no doubt that she’s listening intently on the other side.

Clark speaks before Lena can interject.

“I owe you an apology.”

“You…do?” Lena asks, the apology on her own lips evaporating. She expected a wary truce, perhaps, borne of Lena asking forgiveness – she never would have expected Superman himself to apologize to a Luthor for a comment that was, while unnecessarily pointed, not completely inaccurate.

“I promised Kara that I trusted her judgement, that I would give you a chance, and I haven’t,” Clark explains, fiddling with his glasses in a way so reminiscent of Kara that it gives Lena the sudden and alarming impulse to hug him. She shoves it down deep, and clasps her hands firmly in front of her. “I came in with preconceived notions of what you would be like, and seeing you with my cousin…”

He sighs, and Lena can when see the curtain of stony distrust he’s been maintaining since he arrived starts to drop.

“I know you think I left her for selfish reasons, and maybe that was part of it, no matter how much I tried to tell myself otherwise. Maybe I was young, and didn’t feel capable of caring for a child. But I wanted her to have a normal life,” Clark says quietly, likely knowing just as well as Lena does that Kara is hearing the conversation. “I wanted her to grow up and become her own person like I did, without needing to live in my shadow. I wanted to protect her. Which is why I had so much trouble seeing you beyond your family. Kara is so important to me that I can’t…I couldn’t imagine you being much different with Lex.”

“I can understand that. Although your family aren’t mass murdering xenophobes,” Lena says, and Clark offers her a weak chuckle.

“I know what I said was out of line. But I still want to protect her, and the idea of her being with Lex Luthor’s sister was just…”

“I know.”

Clark runs a hand through his hair, somehow maintaining the shiny coif in the same annoyingly perfect way that Kara does. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the House of El can be pretty stubborn.”

Lena laughs quietly. “Kara is one of the most headstrong people I’ve ever met once she gets an idea in her head. Besides myself, anyways.”

“But she listens to you.”

“Debatable,” Lena drawls. Clark laughs, a real laugh that goes right to his eyes, and Lena recognizes for the first time why it is that people find Superman so charming. He has the same quality that Kara does, really, just in a clean-cut all-American way rather than Kara’s sweet goofiness with an undertone of steel.

“She does,” he insists. “And that means something. I’m sorry, Lena. This night has been a disaster, but I’d like to start over. If you’re willing.”

He offers his hand to shake, and Lena takes it with a tentative smile – and the moment she does, Kara bursts through the door, a huge grin on her face.

“See, I knew you two would like each other if you just put the claws away,” Kara says, grabbing both of them and drawing them closer in a double-hug. “Now, can we finally eat?”

Dinner is finished in a much friendlier atmosphere than before, and while Kara gathers up the dishes Clark takes Lois’ hand, looking at Lena more openly.

“I guess we should get down to what we really came here for,” Lois says, and Lena nods as Kara returns to the table and slings an arm around her shoulders. “My father.”

“He’s the final link,” Kara says, and Clark’s brow furrows. “The last ally Lillian has with any power. And he’s supplying her with weapons and kryptonite.”

Clark looks concerned at that. “See, this is why I objected to the manufacture of synthetic kryptonite to begin with. It’s created once, and then the next thing you know the military is using it to enable alien genocide.”

“My father is severe,” Lois interrupts, and Clark makes a face that indicates he thinks that’s a bit of an understatement. “Arrogant. Cruel, often. A stubborn asshole, definitely. But I think I can talk him out of this. I can’t accept that he would do this willingly.”

“You think he’s being forced?” Lena asks.

“Manipulated, maybe,” Lois says, looking a bit lost. “I don’t know. He’s afraid of aliens, yes, and wants them under control – but public mass murder is a few steps beyond what I think even he’s capable of. I think if I can just talk to him – “

“That’s a big risk,” Kara warns. “If we give him warning like that, he could go to Lillian. This whole thing could be blown.”

“He probably doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. He’s not a good person, I know that,” Lois admits, and Lena can see the struggle in her face. “I just don’t know what the alternative is. He’s a respected general. We don’t have any power in his arena, and skeletons in his closet usually have no real impact on the military.”

“If Lois really thinks he could be convinced to defect,” Lena says carefully, meeting Lois’ eyes across the table, “then I say we let her try. We need all the allies we can get. Catch more flies with honey, and all that.”

Kara stares at her. “Since when are you a proponent of using honey, and not the most efficient method?”

“I suppose you’ve rubbed off on me.”

Kara looks surprised, but the smile she points at Lena is absolutely delighted.

“Okay, so it’s decided?” Kara says tentatively. “Lois will talk to him?”

“I think you two should come as well,” Lois says, gesturing at Lena and Kara. Lena is ready to agree, but Kara shakes her head.

“Lena coming is too much of a risk. On the chance he goes to Lillian, it would blow her cover and put her in danger,” Kara argues, and Lois accepts the point. “But I’ll be there. He hates me, but seeing me face-to-face might help convince him that what he’s doing is wrong.”

Lois agrees, and soon she and Clark excuse themselves to fly home to Metropolis. When Clark leaves he gives Lena an honest-to-god hug, and Lena gets to spend the rest of the night celebrating the success of the endeavor with Kara - so enthusiastically in fact that a disgruntled note from the downstairs neighbour gets slipped under Kara’s door at 1am.

“As if I don’t quietly deal with him playing the drums every worknight. Rude,” Kara grumbles, shredding the note and throwing it in the direction of the trashcan as she stomps back across the apartment. She’s fully naked and beautiful, the planes of her body lit by soft lamplight; love and wanting washes over Lena in equal measure. How she ever lived without this is beyond her, now. Being here with Kara, bare and comfortable, feels as natural as breathing.

The paper scatters like confetti, completely missing the target, but Kara doesn’t seem to care. She just climbs back into bed, smiling wide when Lena hooks a leg around her waist.

“We were pretty loud just now,” Lena says, her breath hitching as Kara presses their bodies together and nips at her neck. It’s incredible how the slightest touch has her body roaring to life again, no matter how many times she’s been sated. “And every other night this week. I imagine it’s difficult to sleep with us breaking furniture one floor up.”

“We aren’t that loud.”

“The remnants of your bedframe currently staring at us from the living room would argue otherwise.”

Kara twists slightly to look at the offending furniture. Two nights ago it had finally given up the ghost, buckling underneath them with a resounding crash just as Lena was coming hard around the new silicone strap that now lives in Kara’s bedside drawer. At the time they had just kept going, hardly noticing the interruption with Lena’s teeth in Kara’s neck and Kara’s hips driving her into oblivion; now Kara’s mattress and boxspring sit on the hardwood, and she doesn’t seem to mind.

“Fine, maybe we are,” Kara concedes, not remorseful at all. “But if he saw who it is I’m making ‘all this racket’ with, I think he’d understand. I can’t be expected to have you in my bed and not make a racket.”

Lena could offer her own apartment to solve this problem. It’s several times bigger with no downstairs neighbors, and her stark catalog furniture can more easily be replaced than Kara’s lovingly collected mishmash of well-worn pieces. But Lena likes it here. It’s warm and homey, and everything in it smells like Kara. She sleeps better in this tiny space than she ever has in her cold, sprawling penthouse suite.

“We could slow down and let him sleep,” Lena says even as she grins with intent, pulling Kara down by the hips. “It’d be the polite thing to do.” She spreads her legs, the slippery wetness of the hours previous pressing against Kara’s hipbone, and Kara exhales shakily.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you come for me,” Kara breathes against her mouth, light and full of wonder, “I can’t stop wanting to touch you. I don’t think I ever will.”

Kara punctuates the breathless statement by shifting her hips down in a very specific movement, the ghost of something that Lena suddenly craves just as much as she’s sure Kara does right now. Without a second thought Lena wraps her legs around Kara’s hips, opening herself up to the tease, and fumbles for the bedside drawer.

“I don’t want you to stop,” Lena admits, pulling out her prize and reveling in Kara’s exhilarated expression. Her blown-out eyes, the hunger in her gaze. “I love the way you want me.”

She knows that Kara knows this already. One of the wonderful and terrible things about their bond is that Kara can see everything; when they’re joined, especially during sex, every moment of desire is broadcast. Kara knows how much Lena thrives on being wanted. How she loves Kara’s hunger for her, craving the way it chases away all the insecurities she’s held onto for most of her life. But in turn Lena knows, especially since the gala, how much Kara thrives on vocal confirmation. She likes hearing the proof of Lena’s pleasure in her voice, likes when Lena moans her name or whimpers every dirty thought she has into her ear. Hence the noise complaints.

Lena isn’t naturally one to voice her most secret thoughts. But when it results in a tidal wave of gratitude and desire like this one, Kara shamelessly using her superspeed to get into the harness and bury herself inside Lena until her toes curl, it’s entirely worth the vulnerability.

The noise continues long into the night, but no more notes appear.

 


 

For a few days, Lena genuinely thinks that everything might go off without a hitch. That they might convince General Lane to abandon Lillian, trap her in her own little crumbling empire, and stop her egomaniacal world domination and mass murder plan in its tracks. Lillian will try to rebuild, of course – but it will take money and time, time in which they can converge around her and disable her device before it can be used. Turn her into the authorities with all the evidence they can muster, and watch her try to wriggle out of life in prison without her friends in high places.

This feels like the final stretch. The last leg of the marathon, leading up to a world where she doesn’t have to spend every moment looking over her shoulder for her mother’s shadow. Where Lex’s crimes and her mother’s influence don’t hang over her like a constant weight. Lena feels, for the first time in decades, a glimmer of something she had forgotten before she met Kara – hope.

It means that when she discovers things aren’t as hopeful they seem, it’s all the more terrifying.

Lena might not have even figured it out, had she not managed to pull herself away from Kara’s distracting kisses and requests to play hooky this morning. Kara seemed reluctant to leave their safe little bubble – today is the day she’s meeting with Lois to talk to Sam Lane, and it’s clear that she’s nervous about the confrontation. But against Kara’s pleas Lena had pushed her out the door to do her job, and dragged herself to LuthorCorp to do her quarterly walk-through of the labs as a distraction from Kara’s anxiety rocketing through her own chest.

These inspections are usually done while the place is bustling with techs and researchers but this time it falls on a quiet Saturday morning, and the click of Lena’s heels are the only sound as she runs through her internal checklist. They echo through the empty space, and it’s only that fact that makes her stop suddenly when they don’t.

It’s not even that the clicking stops. It just sounds different, suddenly, and Lena takes a few steps back – click, click, click – and then forward. At the same spot, the sound turns into a duller and almost imperceptible thunk.

There’s something under the floor.

The walk-through is the last thing on her mind, now; and Kara’s anxiety is gone, replaced with her own. There’s no indication of any trapdoor under the tiles, no seam that she can detect, but knowing Lex and Lillian there has to be a studiously hidden but ultimately ostentatious opening mechanism. It takes her 45 minutes of tearing the lab apart to find it, but find it she does – and as she suspected, it’s hidden in plain sight. What used to be a life-size portrait of Lex overlooking his employees was replaced by one of Lillian some time ago, but the plaque underneath it has never changed – it still reads a quote from her brother. ‘I will always have my thumb on the scales’.

She’s always found it beyond distasteful. But now, she prods and pushes at the plaque until finally, the word thumb slides away to reveal a glowing fingerprint scanner.

Lena rolls her eyes at the wordplay. Lex always thought he was cleverer than he actually was.

Swallowing her sudden sense of foreboding, Lena presses her thumb to the pad. It blinks red for a moment, before flashing green as a cool digital voice says Luthor DNA detected.

As the floor opens into a smooth set of stairs, Lena could almost laugh. Lex thought that locking it behind his DNA was safe, that nobody but himself or his mother would think to find it. He always underestimated Lena, and as usual she’s happy to use it to her advantage.

She descends the stairs carefully, swallowing the spike of anxiety when the floor slides back into place over her head. It all seems so silly and so very Lex – a hidden room in his own building locked by DNA, no doubt to house his less publicly favourable weapons technology. Whatever is in here needs to be emptied and destroyed, and Lena has every intention of doing so after hours when she’s less likely to be caught be some unsuspecting intern putting in extra hours on a Saturday. But when she emerges into what turns out to be a small lab, she’s shocked to find that there’s almost nothing in it. There’s equipment that isn’t in the rest of the LuthorCorp labs, sure, experimental technology for the most part – but there’s only one thing in it that would seem out of place elsewhere.

Sitting open on the table is a sleek silver briefcase, and when she gets closer to inspect it her fears are confirmed. Inside, set into secure black foam, are six phials with a toxic-looking green fluid inside. The top part of the case is a screen, and on it there’s a complicated chemical formula as well as a planned dispersal trajectory.

It’s the isotope. The virus that Lillian plans on using to kill all aliens – to kill Kara - has been under Lena’s nose this whole time, and from the looks of the formula, it’s almost finished. Lillian has clearly somehow accelerated the production, and none of Lena’s moles caught it.

All that’s missing is the dispersal mechanism.

Her heart pounding, she backs away with the intent of leaving this room exactly as she found it – but as she does, she catches movement in her peripheral. In the far corner of the room to her right is a small camera, and the little red light underneath it has just started to blink.

Shit.

Forcing herself into a mask of calm she steps out of the camera’s field of view and slowly heads back towards the stairs, and as she climbs them and the floor opens again over her head the options flicker through her head like a rolodex.

Lillian is going to know soon enough that Lena has seen it, if she wasn’t already on the other side of that camera, and there’s only two ways it can possibly go – either Lillian has her eliminated as soon as possible, or she decides that Lena has done enough to be trusted and brings her in on the plot. Which of the two it is depends entirely on Lena’s acting skills.

Skills which become immediately necessary as she climbs out of the trapdoor to find Lillian waiting for her, just as poised and unreadable as always. She’s dressed for travel with a fitted trenchcoat and a duffel bag, and Lena has a sinking feeling that her discovery of the isotope has just kicked the plan into motion ahead of schedule.

In a few seconds, Lena’s only possible path is calculated.

As she hits solid ground and the floor slides closed behind her, Lena goes through the same exercises she’s used for years when she needs to confront her mother – breathing deeply to calm herself down, bringing her heart rate under control so that lies can’t be easily detected. It’s something she’s so familiar with that it feels second nature, but never in her long life have the stakes been so high. And this time, she has the added difficulty of needing to muster up a wall between herself and Kara, as well.

Nobody can know her fear. Not Lillian, and not Kara. The second Kara feels Lena’s stress she’ll want to fix it, and the last thing she needs while selling this ruse is for her girlfriend to come crashing through the wall, sensing her terror and needing to rescue her. Lena got herself caught, and she has to face the consequences.

“Been exploring, have we?” Lillian says, a brow perfectly arched. She gives away nothing – and Lena gives nothing in return.

“Call it Luthor curiosity,” Lena says, letting her voice drop into a confident drawl. Relaxed and unaffected, despite being thrust into a hornet’s nest. Every second is one where Kara could catch on, and she needs to make sure that doesn’t happen. They can’t lose this advantage at the last. If Lillian is going to leave, taking the dispersal device with her, Lena needs to be there to sabotage it. “And I want in.”

Lillian’s gaze is piercing, weighing Lena on whatever twisted scales reside in her mind. But Lena doesn’t budge, her face a mask of calm, and finally Lillian’s face twists into a sinister smile.

“I knew you’d want to finish Lex’s legacy,” Lillian coos, smoothing a cold hand across Lena’s hair and resting impersonally on her cheek in a motherly gesture that’s as unfamiliar as it is ominous. “I’ve noticed the change in you, lately. You’re taking initiative. You’re finally learning your worth to us.”

I’m finally learning my worth without you, Lena thinks. But her face betrays nothing, and Lillian seems deeply pleased.

“Are you ready to change the world?”

With a swift and silent apology to Kara, still off somewhere and completely unaware of what’s about to happen to their months of careful planning, Lena nods coolly.

“Lead the way.”

 


 

It’s only been a few weeks since she and Lena finally gave into their connection, and Kara can hardly believe how perfectly everything is going.

Their replacements for Lillian’s allies are operating perfectly. Manchester Black has been true to his word, leading the werewolves away from Lillian’s influence and keeping out of trouble. Andrea’s campaign is shaping up to be a landslide win, and CatCo is as strong as it’s ever been with Cat back at the helm.

And to top it all off, she and Lena are basking in their newfound love. Lena’s outer shell is completely gone now, at least when they’re alone – Kara gets full access to her softness, her humour and kindness and affection. Lena is touch-starved to the extreme, especially now that she’s shared herself completely with Kara, and she soaks up everything Kara has to give – and Kara doesn’t have to spend a single second wondering if her unbridled physical affection will break Lena’s bones. It’s something she’s never really experienced before, and every reminder is a brand-new thrill.

She wants to give Lena everything. Just give and give and give, until Lena understands how much of a wonder she is.

The morning of her meeting with Lois and her father, the only thing that manages to convince Kara to get out of bed is Lena’s promise that once it’s over, they can spend the rest of the evening holed up at her apartment doing whatever they want. Lena says it with a wry smile and a kiss, and Kara flies out the window soon after, eager to get there all the faster.

She arrives outside the military base in full Supergirl regalia with a few minutes to spare, and finds Lois already waiting outside the gates. She’s in conversation with one of the guards on duty, and when Kara approaches the guard visibly gets tense. His hand moves to his weapon, as if the bullets inside it will do anything to stop her.

Although, she muses, Sam Lane is in charge here. Maybe they would.

Lois waves her over, and it’s with obvious reluctance that the guard opens the gate to let them both into the complex.

“Frosty welcome,” Kara says quietly, giving the next line of guards a nervous smile. Their guns are even larger than the one at the gate, and although Kara doesn’t feel the nails-under-skin sensation of nearby kryptonite they still make her uneasy. “You’d think they’d be a little nicer to you, at least.”

Lois scoffs. “My father knows I have a close relationship with Superman. He doesn’t know who Superman is, but he knows we’re friendly just based on my articles. He doesn’t approve of my career, or my husband. Needless to say, I haven’t spoken to him in years.”

“And you really think he’ll listen to you?” Kara asks, trying not to sound as skeptical as she is. From her interactions with Lois’ father she remembers him being pretty ruthless, militantly patriotic and earth-first, a fact which is only further confirmed by the fact that his office door has a large and prominently placed engraving of the earth below a proudly displayed American flag.

“I have to hope so,” Lois says quietly, seeming to speak to herself just as much as Kara as yet another soldier opens the door. “It’s the only plan we have.”

General Sam Lane looks just as unfriendly as he did the last time Kara saw him, when he was reluctantly giving J’onn back his title of DEO Director. Kara had seen how little Lane wanted to give that power up, and it seems he’s held onto his resentment all this time – when he rises from behind his oversized desk he barely glances at Kara, focusing his attention instead on his daughter.

“Lois. I didn’t realize you’d be bringing the Girl of Steel.” He uses Kara’s title with a sarcastic sort of sneer, one that Kara has to stop herself from visibly reacting to. Lois seems to appreciate Kara’s restraint.

“I think you need to hear this from both of us,” Lois says, her voice steady and calm. Kara can see how she became the renowned journalist that she is – she’s completely cool under pressure, even when the pressure is her own father.

Lane scoffs. “Hear what, exactly?”

“Hear that supplying Lillian Luthor with kryptonite is going to cause the death of every alien on the planet,” Kara says loudly, unable to keep the hint of emotion out of her voice. General Lane looks unimpressed.

“That’s quite the dramatic statement, Supergirl,” he says, sounding bored already with speaking to her. But even Kara can see the cracks in the façade – something in him is struggling with something, with Lois here showing him the consequences of his actions.

They have to keep pushing.

“We know about the virus,” Kara says, with more clarity. Lane looks surprised for a moment, but he collects himself quickly.

“I don’t know how you got access to that information, but your Kryptonian God complex seems to be getting in the way,” he says, shifting and resting a hand on the butt of his handgun in a clear attempt at a power stance. “Lillian Luthor’s goal is to help this planet, and I intend on assisting her in that.”

“I know that you’re scared of them,” Lois says quietly, and Sam’s face softens somewhat in reaction. “And when things scare you, you strike back. But what you’re talking about is genocide. The father I know wouldn’t do that.”

“It is not genocide to strip aliens of the powers they use to terrorize humanity,” Lane says forcefully, his hand leaving the handle of his gun to point at Kara for emphasis. “With their powers removed, so is the threat. They’re free to do what they want after that.”

Strip their – “ Kara says in disbelief. “Is that what she told you? That this virus will just take away our powers?”

“It’ll kill them, Dad,” Lois says in a voice more gentle than Kara can muster right now. “The virus is poison. It’ll kill every alien on earth.”

“Of course that’s what she has you – “

“You raised a journalist. You think I’d come to you with no proof?” Lois says, almost as forceful as her father. “We have an inside source. Several, in fact. And one that Lillian shared everything with.”

He laughs, this last claim clearly the least plausible of them all. “Oh, do you? Who?”

“John Corben.”

General Lane pauses, then. His eyes narrow, and Kara can see the cracks in his armour widen. Lois is getting through to him. “And why should I believe Supergirl? She’s just trying to save her own powers.”

Finally, Lois takes the tablet out of her bag. It’s their trump card; the thing Lois was convinced would change her father’s mind if nothing else worked. Flicking the screen on, she passes it to him, and for the next minute Sam Lane watches the video of Corben’s interrogation at the DEO.

“It’s a virus,” Corben is saying on the video, his voice tinny but audible. Kara can just see, upside down, herself and Lena at the edge of the frame. She still remembers that day; she and Lena had one of their first real talks the day before. Lena had been so guarded, so edgy, and yet Kara had known that there was something behind the façade. Something special. “An alien poison. She plans to disperse it into the air using drones all over the country. Eventually it’ll blanket the earth, and kill any alien it touches. Then we were going to slip into the power vacuum, and without the Kryptonians to get in the way, force the fae to reveal themselves to humans.”

His grip tightens on the tablet. In the video Corben keeps talking but Lane has already shut it off, staring at his own reflection in the black screen for a second before handing it wordlessly back to his daughter.

The silence in the room afterwards is stifling.

“I’m not the kind of man who can’t admit a mistake,” he says gruffly after what Kara counts as almost a full minute of downright painful stillness. Kara almost snorts in pure shock, but she manages to keep it to a strange sort of hiccup, and General Lane thankfully ignores it. “What are you asking me to do, exactly?”

“Just stop the kryptonite shipments. That’s all we ask.”

He seems to consider that heavily for a moment, his jaw tight. His eyes flick down to his desk, and on it Kara can see a framed photograph – she can’t see exactly what it depicts, but she can guess. When he looks back up at them, Lois meets his eyes with grim determination.

And then he takes his cell phone from his pocket, and hits a few buttons.

“Lillian,” he says gruffly after only two rings on the other end. Kara can hear Lillian’s reply, sharp even over the fuzzy phone line.

General. Is there some sort of problem with my shipment?” Lillian says, honey-sweet and poisonous, and Kara can practically hear the unsaid words – because you’d better not be calling me otherwise.

“It’s over.”

Excuse me?” Lillian hisses. It’s the least in-control Kara has ever heard her sound – in every interaction that Kara has ever had with her as Supergirl, Lillian was so poised and confident that it was hard to imagine the façade ever breaking. But Lena was right. They’ve been pushing Lillian to the point of mania, slowly snipping away her power structure without ever alerting her to how it’s happening, and now she’s inches from exploding with fury.  

“The shipments are done,” Lane says, and Lois offers him a small smile. “Find your own source of kryptonite.”

If you think I won’t burn your miserable little life to the ground – “

He hangs up before Lillian can get started.

“Thank you,” Kara says genuinely as he turns the phone off to avoid the inevitable retribution, and he nods without a word. Lois turns to leave the office in silence and Kara follows, intending on flying right back to the DEO and calling Lena, but his voice stops them.

“Lois…” he rumbles, and Lois hardly turns back towards him when she answers in a firm voice.

“Nothing’s changed, Dad. You know what needs to happen if you want a relationship with me again.”

His face twitches, but he nods curtly.

“Understood.”

Lois steps into the hall, leaving her father to stare down at his desk with a stony expression and heading back to the exit at a quick clip, and Kara has to jog slightly to catch up again.

“So…what needs to happen for you to have a relationship?” Kara asks, once they’re out of earshot. The building is buzzing with activity, but every time anyone comes close to them they fall silent, watching them warily like they could attack at any second. It’s unnerving, how deeply General Lane seems to have infused his distrust of aliens into the people under his command.

“He needs to accept who I am and who I want to be with, instead of what he wants for me,” Lois replies easily. “That’s step one of…well, about a hundred. Most of them involving first pulling his head out of his ass about aliens and quitting the military.”

Kara’s doubt must show on her face, because Lois gives a sad sort of laugh. “Yeah, it’s about as likely as Lex Luthor suddenly renouncing his feud with my husband. But I appreciate you taking the risk of letting me talk to him.”

“I like to believe in people’s better nature. Compassion, you know?” Kara says, sighing with relief as they finally step outside again. She’s never wanted to leave a building more in her life. “But you should really thank Lena. She was the first on board.”

“You’re right,” Lois says, smiling when they reach the gate. She pulls out her car keys while they wait for it to open, and winks at Kara. “I liked her. You picked a good one.”

“I didn’t exactly pick,” Kara says, but she grins as the thought of Lena brings a warm feeling to her chest. “But if I had, it would still have been her.”

They part with a hug, and when Lois’ rental car has disappeared down the road – headed to meet Clark, she assumes, and fly home – Kara fires off a text to Lena.

It’s done! Meet at the DEO?

Leaning against a tree as she waits for a reply, Kara feels like she’s on top of the world. The last lynch pin is down, Lillian is exposed and vulnerable, and all she needs to do is finish this. Then, no more hiding – Lena won’t be in danger every single day, and they won’t need to look over their shoulders to see who’s watching them. They can just be.

When Lena still hasn’t replied ten minutes later, the feeling starts to fade.

It’s not like Lena to leave her unanswered. Not on an important day like today. Even if she’s in a situation where she can’t touch her phone Lena has gotten into the habit of communicating silently, sending reassurance through their connection so Kara doesn’t worry. But right now, as she centres herself and reaches out, Kara feels nothing. Or, more accurately, it’s like a blockage – like Lena is intentionally keeping her out.

All she feels is emptiness. Gnawing, terrible silence.

It nags at Kara as she lands in the atrium, something uncomfortable lodged in the hollow of her ribs, and she’s still rubbing at her chest when Alex approaches looking apprehensive. Nia and Brainy trail behind him, with J’onn standing in his usual place at the computer banks, arms crossed.

“How did it go?” Alex asks, furrowing her brow at Kara’s clearly unhappy expression. “Did he not – “

“No, it’s done. He severed ties with Lillian,” Kara says, her hand still pressed to her sternum. “She was livid.”

“We need to neutralize the virus now, when she has no resources to rebuild it. It’s likely almost complete,” Brainy says, looking happy at the development but getting right to business. “If we strike too clumsily, Lillian could snap and release it even if her network has collapsed, simply to salt the earth.”

“Is Lena coming?” Nia asks, seeming to be the only one who notices the depth of Kara’s discomfort. She puts a hand on Kara’s arm, and Kara gives her a distracted head-shake.

“I haven’t heard back, actually,” Kara frowns, pulling out her phone again. The message is still there, unread, and the low-level anxiety she’s been fending off turns into a spike of fear. “She should have replied by now. She was just finishing up a few things at LuthorCorp this morning.”

“Have you tried Sam?” Alex asks hopefully, but Kara doesn’t have the bandwidth to manage her sister’s soulmate issues when her own are so pressing. She tucks the phone into her boot, heading back to the open balcony.

“I’m just going to go check on her. I’ll be back soon, okay?”

She’s off before anyone can stop her, and she changes into her civilian clothes in the alley next door before heading into LuthorCorp and hitting the button for Lena’s floor. Her heart is pounding, suddenly, and not in a good way. Her gut is telling her she’s not going to find anything good here, but she has to know. She has to figure out what’s going on.

The first thing she notices when she steps out of the elevator is that Lena’s assistant’s desk is empty. It makes sense, being Saturday, but it makes this more difficult – Kara had been hoping to ask her where Lena might be. Instead she pushes open the door to Lena’s office with trepidation, and her heart sinks when she sees it’s empty. Lena’s purse is on the desk, her laptop unopened, and Lena is nowhere to be seen.

Her apartment, too, is empty when Kara checks. Lena hasn’t been here in days, choosing instead to stay with Kara; but she isn’t at Kara’s apartment either, and still – over an hour later – she hasn’t answered Kara’s message. There’s nothing over their bond, no telltale emotions to give her a clue. Kara is alone, and she’s slowly losing any semblance of calm.

She’s buzzing when she gets back to the DEO, pacing the floor almost as soon as she lands.

“I can’t find her,” Kara says loudly, running an absent hand through her hair. Everyone but Alex seems to be elsewhere, and her sister has to take the brunt of her unease. “She isn’t at the office, or home, or at her place. She isn’t anywhere. And I can’t feel her, I can’t – “

“I’m sure she’s fine, Kara,” Alex says, trying to touch her shoulder as she walks by, but Kara only walks faster.

“No, something is wrong. I know something is wrong,” Kara argues, and Alex looks like she’s trying to form a reply when she’s interrupted by Kara’s ringtone.

“See, that’s probably her,” Alex says, but Kara knows before she even looks at the caller ID that it isn’t. Lena doesn’t call her very often, and her fears are confirmed when she sees Sam’s name on her screen.

“Sam! Thank god,” Kara answers in lieu of greeting. “Have you seen Lena? I can’t find her anywhere – “

“I know,” Sam says quickly, sounding as scared as Kara feels. “Kara, she’s with Lillian.”

Kara’s stomach drops. Her hand starts to shake, and she has to take a moment to regulate herself before she crushes the phone  out of pure anxiety mid-conversation.

What? Where -” she starts, but Sam is way ahead of her.

“I don’t know where they are, or why they’re together, but I have a few contacts in other departments at LuthorCorp,” Sam explains, her breath coming in short puffs like she’s walking somewhere at top speed. “Lillian went into the labs this morning, and they came out together. They got in a car, and nobody has seen either of them since.“

Is she safe?” Kara asks, a million questions coming to her mind at once but needing the most important of them answered first. Sam’s answer does nothing to settle her mind.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry, Kara, I just - I don’t know.”

Sam hangs up with a promise that she’s on her way to lay out all she knows about Lillian’s operations and hideouts, and Kara lets her hand drop down listlessly to her side. The phone slips from her boneless fingers, and Alex jumps as it hits the ground.

“What’s going on?” Alex asks, her brow knitted. Kara swallows hard, her resolve solidifying as she presses her hands so hard into the nearest table that it bends under her touch. The whine of panic that hummed in her mind before is gone – numbness replaces it, and her voice sounds far away even to her own ears.

“Call Manchester Black. We need to find Lena.”

 


 

Lena has been gone for just over two days, and Kara is going out of her mind.

Since the moment Sam told her that Lena had disappeared, Kara hasn’t slept. She’s barely even sat down – just paced and paced, hovering behind every agent in the building as they work even as she knows that it’s completely unhelpful. Brainy has been tirelessly accessing every camera and database in the city, Nia has been fruitlessly trying to force a dream to guide them, and even J’onn has refocused half the DEO to trying to find out where they could have gone.

She knows that her being here isn’t doing anything productive, especially with Alex telling her so every few minutes – she should go home and get some sleep and come at the problem fresh. But she can’t. She can’t leave, and not be here if new information comes to light. She can’t rest, when Lena could be in danger.

She needs to be ready.

Once she realized she was likely hindering the agents in their search more than helping, she had taken to spending most of her time out on the balcony, listening. With her eyes closed and her senses all attuned, her desperate brain tells her, maybe she’ll be able to pick something up – Lena’s voice, or the sound of her heartbeat. So far, she’s heard nothing but the chaos of the city.

Her only comfort in all of this, the only thing keeping her going, is that she can feel Lena more now than she could before. Lena’s presence still isn’t as clear to her as it usually is, but it doesn’t feel like the wall that was between them when Lena first went missing. It feels more like Lena is hiding herself, so that Kara won’t feel her fear. Instead she sends erratic waves of reassurance whenever Kara’s stress gets too high, and it’s these moments that Kara clings to as worry and lack of sleep eat away at her sanity.

Lena has always been good at soothing her, even from miles away.

Kara only turns away from the city skyline, lit up against the darkness of early evening, when a new figure strides through the sliding doors that lead to the guest entrance. Manchester Black looks haggard, his leather jacket covered in dust and grit, and Kara hardly has time to raise her hopes before he dashes them.

“Nothing yet,” he says, shaking his head. “They’re still off the grid.”

“How can there be nothing? They didn’t teleport,” Kara says, knowing that Manchester doesn’t deserve the anger in her voice but unable to stop herself from exploding. “There has to be something! Security footage, tire tracks, a – a smell or something! Right? Aren’t wolves supposed to be trackers?”

Manchester looks sympathetic rather than angry as he leans against the railing nest to her. He seems to understand her panic in a strange way, and she feels oddly comforted by his steady presence. “We’re going to keep looking. We know the Luthors have several bunkers for storing weapons and tech. We just don’t know where they are.”

Kara deflates. Manchester has been nothing but helpful ever since Sam called him in, and his seeming genuine concern for Lena has warmed Kara to him considerably. He’s had his wolves scouring the city for any trace of Lena or Lillian, trying to make use of his contacts to root out where they could be – but so far without success.

“Right. Sorry,” Kara mutters, rubbing her tired eyes. “I’m just…I’m scared.”

“Yeah, I know. We’ll, uh…” Manchester reaches over and, surprisingly, he pats her awkwardly on the shoulder before retracting his hand quickly. It’s strangely touching, considering a few months ago she tried to arrest him. “We’ll find her. Besides, I’ve never met anyone who could take care of herself better than that little Luthor.”

“Lena,” Kara says absently, offering him a tired smile. “She hates being associated with her family.”

“She gonna take your name, then?”

Kara chokes out a laugh, the thought somehow tethering her when she feels like she’s about to float away. The idea of asking Lena to take her name. To marry her, even. Do they even need a human ceremony when they know their connection is forever? When they have centuries together to look forward to? She thinks about the tradition of her home planet – the exchanging of wristbands, vows to intertwine themselves for all eternity, Lena in a flowing traditional Kryptonian gown – and the idea seems nice, all of a sudden.

With that image in her mind’s eye, everything feels a little bit less heavy. If they both get out of this, maybe she’ll ask.

Forcing away the almost overwhelming urge to cry, Kara takes a steadying breath. “Maybe someday.”

Manchester looks like he’s struggling to find something helpful to say, but he’s rescued by Alex coming up the stairs behind them. Alex frowns when she sees them – she expressly told Kara to go home this morning, and Kara has clearly not listened – but she and Manchester exchange wary nods. As if he can sense the confrontation brewing just from her expression, he clears his throat awkwardly.

“Agent Danvers,” he says gruffly, pushing off from the railing. “I’ll leave you to it.”

He abandons Kara with an apologetic look, and Kara is left to weather her sister’s disappointed expression alone.

“I can’t help but notice that this is not your apartment,” Alex starts, and Kara takes a deep breath through her nose.

“No, this is where people are working to find Lena. And it’s where I need to be.”

“Where you need to be is somewhere you can sleep,” Alex says, exasperated. Kara clenches her jaw, gripping the railing. It creaks dangerously.

“I can’t, Alex,” Kara says, her voice quavering as she tries to ground herself. Without Lena she feels unbalanced and raw, one half of a whole left to struggle alone in the cold. “Don’t you understand? I can’t sleep when she’s out there alone, so why bother trying?”

“You’re going to run yourself into the ground,” Alex insists, not stepping down even against Kara’s anger. She does however flinch when, finally, the railing cracks in half under Kara’s tense hands. “Jesus, Kara!"

Kara throws the splintered wood across the concrete, pressing the heels of her hands into her eyes. They feel strained, dry and red from exhaustion and fighting back frustrated tears, and Alex isn’t helping.

“I understand that you care about her,” Alex says carefully, as Kara turns away from the balcony with a whirl of her cape and stalks down the stairs towards one of the computer desks under the second-floor walkway. Alex follows, and her next words give Kara pause. “But have you stopped to consider that maybe she doesn’t want to be found?”

Kara hears the chime of the elevator opening down the hall, and a few moments later Sam emerges into the atrium rubbing her eyes and looking about as tired as Kara feels. She’s been using the DEO systems in an attempt to get around whatever is blocking the security footage from LuthorCorp the day Lena disappeared, but it doesn’t look like she had much success.

Sam has been at the DEO almost as much as Kara has in the last 48 hours, trying to help but mostly just seeming to need to soothe her own anxiety. Maybe being near people who are doing something to try and locate her best friend is helping, Kara muses. She sure seems to stay awfully close to Alex – her coming up here just as Alex arrived can’t be a coincidence.

“She has something planned, I can tell that much,” Kara says with her last vestiges of patience, planting her hands on the desk as Sam approaches them looking concerned. “But she shouldn’t have to do it alone. I need her to be safe.”

“She might have something planned, Kara, but she didn’t give us any forewarning. She went rogue, like you two always do, and she didn’t think to –”

“She didn’t think to what?” Kara snaps, finally at the end of her rope. She loves her sister more than almost anything in the universe, but she’s so tired – tired of defending her feelings for Lena, tired of being pushed to give up when Lena is still out there. And now Alex is clearly hurtling headfirst towards a confrontation, and Kara is too frazzled to do anything but get angry about it.

Lena’s words from the night of the gala still echo in her head. Remember how I feel about you. No matter what happens. Kara remembers, and she’s not going to let anyone else forget, either.

“She didn’t tell us. She just assumed that her way is the only way, like usual, and now our months – months – of careful planning is out the window,” Alex says hotly, reacting to Kara’s tone. “We have no idea where she is or if whatever she’s doing is even going to work, because she didn’t deign to share it with us.”

“She’s afraid!” Kara says, her voice rising. “She didn’t go rogue, Lillian took her against her will because we didn’t move fast enough!” Her hands make indents on the metal surface of the desk, and she removes them with a frustrated grunt. Alex shakes her head, but she crosses her arms in a way Kara knows means she isn’t backing down.

Sam, finally drawing close enough to hear what they’re saying, stops just between them. She looks like a weary referee, and she crosses her arms in a way almost identical to Alex as she looks back and forth between their tight faces.

“What’s going on?” Sam says, and Kara nods towards Alex.

“Alex thinks that Lena went with Lillian on purpose.”

“I said that Lena left with Lillian without warning us,” Alex says in a measured tone. Kara knows that she’s only being cautious, but all she’s doing is wasting time. “I want to believe the best of her, but we have no idea that this wasn’t her plan from the beginning and she just wasn’t telling us.”

The tiredness in Sam’s face seems to cool Alex off in a way that Kara’s anger didn’t. She shifts uncomfortably, her crossed arms dropping, but she wouldn’t be Alex if she didn’t dig her heels in.

“I just think that maybe searching is wasted effort. You shouldn’t be killing yourself looking for her when this might be what she wanted. To do it herself,” Alex says in a quieter voice. But Kara has had enough.

“She’s done nothing but help us try to stop her mother, even when none of you trusted her. Even when you treated her like a villain.”

“I know that,” Alex says, rising to match Kara’s volume. “But what are we supposed to do, Kara? Just sit here and wait for her to let us in on it? Lillian is trying to release a virus that will kill you! That will kill J’onn and Brainy and Nia, and if she fails just because she thought she didn’t need us -”

“She’ll stop it,” Kara says with utter conviction. She has no doubt that Lena can outwit her mother – she only worries for what might happen the moment Lillian realizes she’s been fooled. That’s what Kara needs to be there to stop.

“You have no way of knowing that.”

“I know everything about her!” Kara says, her voice echoing across the suddenly quiet atrium. Everyone seems to have stilled, watching the standoff between sisters with wide eyes. “I know her soul. Her being. She’s my soulmate.”

Alex rolls her eyes. “I know you think that, but I can’t place the lives of every alien on earth on your feelings!”

“It isn’t just feelings, Alex!” Kara says, her voice breaking with the emotion she’s bottled for two days. She can see it hit Alex like a physical blow, seeing Kara crack so visibly. “We’re bound together, we’re connected, and if you would just believe in her like I do – "

“I want to, but I can’t just trust blindly, Kara. One of us has to be objective about this,” Alex says, looking genuinely affected by Kara’s pain. She looks apologetic, but not enough to relent. Kara turns on her heel.

“Then I’m going to go find her alone!”

And then Alex makes a frustrated noise, throwing her tablet across the desk. The device skids across the polished surface, propelled by Alex’s annoyance, until it hits Sam’s resting hand with a crack.

Sam hisses in pain, retracting the hand quickly, and even for Kara time seems to slow for the next few heartbeats. Alex, immediately horrified at her actions, reaches out with a doctor’s instincts – she grabs for the hand to examine it, holding it close to her face and running gentle fingers over the reddened point of impact. Sam’s breath catches, and for a heart-stopping moment they both freeze, their eyes locked.

And then Alex doubles over, crying out and crumpling to the ground as she holds her head like she’s been struck.

“Alex!” Kara shouts, her anger evaporating like it never existed while her heart leaps into her throat. She remembers Lena’s warning from weeks ago - she has to find her trigger naturally, forcing it could hurt her – and fear pounds through every fiber of her body.

She leaps over the table, landing in a crouch at Alex’s side – and on her other side is Sam, who fell to her knees when Alex did.

“It was me,” Sam whispers, her eyes wide as Alex cries out again, slumping over and into Sam’s arms. Sam winds a gentle hand behind her head, guiding it into her lap and cradling Alex in a way far too familiar for the small amount of interaction they’ve had.  “I was the trigger. All this time, I should have just…” she trails off, tears filling her eyes. “Centuries of experience and still I’m so stupid.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Kara asks, frantically putting a hand to Alex’s suddenly clammy forehead. Sam nods, scooping Alex up and pulling her to her shoulder. Alex’s eyes are screwed tight with pain, blind to everything but what’s happening in her head, but Sam is like a rock in the ocean. 

“She needs a minute. Her memories – it’s hard to explain,” Sam says quietly, running a hand through Alex’s hair. Kara nods - she doesn’t fully understand, but Sam’s love and protective instinct is obvious. She takes hold of Alex’s hand - it’s hot, but it clenches around her own like Alex knows she’s there.

“Lena explained a little,” Kara says, and Sam looks relieved that she won’t have to lay the whole thing out for her. “You’re sure she’s – “

Alex’s eyes fly open before she can finish the question, and Kara trails off in shock.

For a moment, just as she lays eyes on Sam, her sister’s eyes are an arresting milky white. Eyes that have seen more than Kara can imagine, that have walked through ages and found their way every time. Found their way back to her soulmate.

Alex blinks, and the cloudiness clears to reveal the natural warm brown that Kara knows. Sam helps her to sit up slightly, but with Sam sitting on her knees Alex is still significantly shorter, and Sam’s arm keeps her upright. Sam looks down at Alex with such emotion, such deep understanding, that Kara feels like she’s intruding on a deeply private moment.

Alex has an expression that Kara has never seen before, except maybe reflected in Lena’s eyes. Alex had been lamenting, months ago, that she couldn’t connect with anyone, and it’s never been clearer that this is why. Nobody else could make Alex look that way. 

“Hey, you,” Sam says, choked by tears that threaten to spill down her cheeks and onto Alex’s face.

Alex doesn’t seem to mind. She reaches up a hand to stroke Sam’s face like she’s re-learning it after years of blindness, her fingers shaky but sure in their path over the slope of Sam’s cheekbones. They trace over her nose, her cheeks, her lips, and Sam kisses them.

Alex says something then in a language that Kara doesn’t understand. She knows a lot of languages; but this one is guttural and ancient-sounding, as unfamiliar coming from Alex’s lips as the look is on her face. Sam lets out a wet, choking laugh.

“Yeah. Me, too, ki-áñ.”

And then they’re kissing, and Kara lets go of Alex’s hand.

The kiss is chaste, relatively speaking – a pure meeting of lips - but the emotion in it practically radiates from their joined bodies. Their intimacy is quiet, enduring, and soon they’re simply sitting on the floor of the DEO with their foreheads pressed together. Tears track down both of their faces, and after a few moments of breathing each other in, Alex wipes both of their faces clean.

“Okay,” Alex says, her voice scratchy but firm. She reaches a hand out to take Kara’s again, and Kara takes it and pulls it to her chest. “Okay. Lena is your soulmate. I trust you.”

“Just like that?” Kara asks, squeezing Alex’s hand and close to tears herself just watching the purity of the moment. Of two people reuniting after lifetimes apart. Kara knows the connection they’re basking in, and theirs is even stronger than the one between herself and Lena. Thousands of years old.

Her sister is thousands of years old.

“Just like that,” Alex says. Her eyes never leave Sam.

As Sam lays a gentle, reverent kiss to Alex’s forehead, Kara realizes something that she hadn’t considered when Lena first revealed who Sam’s Old Soul soulmate was. The two people that Kara cares about most – Lena, and her sister – will be with her forever, in one way or another. One of the things that’s always plagued her thoughts is the fact that eventually her sister will age while Kara survives. Kara has always lived with the knowledge that while the radiation of Earth’s sun keeps Kara healthy and whole, everyone around her will age and wither and die, and Kara will be left alone. But Lena is immortal, and while Alex’s mortal body will die, she’ll always be reborn and remember, eventually. Kara will be able to find her and wake her up, over and over. Alex will never truly leave her.

She can live with that.

Alex and Sam are finally drawn out of their love-drunk moment by footsteps thudding down the stairs, and Brainy skidding to a halt in the middle of the atrium. He’s panting, and when he sees the three of them huddled on the floor he launches into a rant with no preamble.

“I was running a scan of traffic patterns,” he says breathlessly, “looking for Lena. I thought to overlay the patterns with different algorithms, trying to find sense in the noise, but none resulted in any – “

He trails off mid-sentence, his clever eyes darting over Alex on the floor cradled in Sam’s arms and Kara kneeling next to them, all wiping tears from their faces.

“Am I interrupting?” he asks, an eyebrow raised. Alex chuckles, pushing herself up and starting to stand with Sam’s help.

“What is it, Brainy?”

“We have a hit on the synthetic kryptonite, just outside the city,” Brainy says, as if it isn’t what he should have started with. “The same signature implanted in Corben.”

“Is Corben – “ Kara asks, but Brainy is way ahead.

“He is in his cell.”

The tension in the room rises, all of them looking at each other meaningfully as Kara draws herself up to her full height.

“It’s Lena,” she says, already walking towards the balcony. “It has to be. She knows we have an alert on the signature. She’s asking for help, we need to go, now -”

Alex grabs at her cape, tugging it before she can get too far. “Kara, Lillian has kryptonite.”

“She also has Lena!” Kara says, whirling on her in exasperation. “You can’t keep me from going, Alex, no matter how much you -”

“I was just going to say,” Alex says calmly, intertwining her fingers with Sam’s, “you should wear the suit Lena made for you.”

“Oh,” Kara says, all self-righteousness bleeding out of her. Sam grins behind Alex, her smile radiant. “Right. Uh, good idea.”

“I have one every few hundred years,” Alex says drily as she hits a button on her watch calling for backup agents. “Let’s go get your girl.”

 


 

Even with her promise of loyalty, Lillian still blindfolds Lena when she gets in the car.

Just insurance, Lillian had assured her, her voice honey-sweet and laced with poison. Once you prove yourself in this task, it won’t be necessary.

She tried to memorize the route, noting every turn and acceleration, but after close to an hour she can’t help but lose track. The trip seems endless, and to make things worse about it’s only a few minutes into it that she can feel the exact moment Kara realizes she’s gone.

Even though it feels like she’s breaking her own arm to do so, Lena wrenches closed the door in her heart. If Kara knows how terrified she is, she’ll tear the world apart to find her – and now that the die has been cast, Lena needs to see this through. If Kara finds and rescues her, Lillian will find some way to worm out of any blame, and they’ll have to start all over again, this time at a disadvantage. And it’ll be because Lena was stupid enough to not cover her tracks.

Lena knows what she needs to do. She needs to sabotage the virus without getting caught, but catch Lillian in the act of using it. And to do that, she needs Kara to not find her. Not yet.

Lillian doesn’t remove the blindfold until they’ve come to a stop. They’ve been driving downward in tight spirals for a few minutes, the air feeling more and more claustrophobic, and when Lillian finally guides her out of the car and unties the fabric from around her eyes Lena is unsurprised to see they’re in some kind of vault.

“I assumed that they weren’t able to raid all of Lex’s hidey-holes,” Lena says, casting her eyes around to take note of every detail she can see. It’s made difficult by Kara continuously beating her metaphorical hands against the wall Lena has thrown up between them, tugging terribly on Lena’s willpower, but she pushes through. If she softens now, this whole thing is blown. “But this is bigger than I imagined.”

The vault is gigantic. It’s cavernous and clearly underground, condensation dripping down the cement walls, and the air smells stale and metallic. Behind her the only way out is sealed with a number pad embedded into the wall, and in front of her is what looks like every alien weapon Lex could get his hands on.

There are huge and lethal-looking guns on pedestals, and what looks like a futuristic armoured tank on the far side of the room. Desks scattered around the space feature pieces of tech in various stages of deconstruction, and in the centre of the room is what they seem to be heading towards. On a large table, surrounded by tools and laptops, is the small device that could kill the love of her life.

The base of it is square steel, with a bright light shining through the aerated holes in the metal. On top of the square is a glass cylinder with several thin bronze clamps keeping it in place, and inside it is an empty core. One exactly the shape and size of the phials that Lena knows are in the briefcase Lillian is carrying.

“Lex’s greatest work,” Lillian says, laying the briefcase on the table and trailing a finger almost affectionately over the device. “He was never able to finish it, before they arrested him for trying to defend our way of life.” Her tone is bitter, like Lex’s imprisonment is a bad taste in her mouth.

“And what is it, exactly?” Lena asks, hoping her neutrality is enough to feign ignorance. Her stomach sours at Lillian’s vitriol, but she can’t show even a fraction of her distaste on her face.

“A device that will irradiate the earth’s atmosphere with a chemical toxic to all aliens.”

There it is. Out in the open, now – delivered bluntly and without emotion, the confirmation rings hollow in the echoing space.

“And since every idiot previously working for me has either failed or defected,” Lillian continues, her gentle touch turning harsh until her nail scratches against the glass, “I realize now that it always should have been kept in the family.”

The smile she gives Lena has no warmth, but Lena draws some small strength from her words. Defected means that Lois and Kara succeeded. It means that Lillian is working alone, and this is her last desperate attempt to salvage her carefully laid plans before they implode.

“What do you need me to do?” Lena asks, pulling the briefcase towards herself and trying to swallow the revulsion she feels seeing the toxin inside, just waiting.

“The chemical component is finished,” Lillian says, pulling the case away from Lena and closing it. “The dispersal device is still not working. Lex enjoyed making things complicated simply to prove his own genius.” Lillian’s lips purse, and it’s then that Lena realizes why she’s here. Why Lillian made the risky decision to bring her in on the plan instead of eliminating her.

Lillian doesn’t know how to finish the device.

That’s why she’s waited so long, why she needs Lena. It’s why each reduction of her resources has been such a blow. The device is Lex’s design, and while it’s close to completion, nobody Lillian has had access to so far has been able to fix it. And she’s gambling that Lena will figure it out.

And it means Lena is gambling that Lillian won’t notice her sabotage.

Time seems to disappear as Lena settles herself in to take the device apart and learn how it works. Hours pass, and then days, and she hardly realizes that she hasn’t slept – all her energy is bent on puzzling out Lex’s engineering and figuring out how she can fix it without actually fixing it, and the process is hindered by Lillian watching her like a hawk. She needs to make the system appear to work until the last possible moment, but she can’t let Lillian use it until she’s one hundred percent sure the virus will be inert. The risk to Kara is too great to roll the dice.  

If it doesn’t work, if Kara breathes in the virus, it’ll be Lena’s fault. Never before has so much ridden on Lena’s intellect, and she’s absolutely terrified.

Through it all she’s grounded by Kara’s constant, aching worry, and after the first day she caves to her instincts and sends reassurance when it gets to be too much to bear. Just so Kara can know she’s okay. But letting Kara in too much will only make her more frantic. Lena needs to finish this on her own, and hope against hope that Kara will forgive her.

It takes two full days for her to finally close the device up with trembling hands, pushing it towards Lillian.

“It’s done,” she says hoarsely, blinking the dryness out of her eyes. Lillian, who Lena hasn’t seen sleep either but who seems significantly more composed, picks the device up with two hands and a satisfied expression. She opens up the glass cavity and slips in a clear phial with what looks like water, and the device hums to life just like Lena programmed it to – and, most importantly, it hisses as it releases a wave of mist so intense that it could shatter windows. As the fog settles, Lena can see Lillian’s expression. A wild, savage satisfaction.

The device is functional enough to fake it. What Lena is depending on is the filtration system she installed, using what she remembers from the formula she saw in the lab. If Lena did her job, it should render the isotope inert before it gets dispersed through the device.

“You’ve finally given me something to be proud of,” Lillian says with a smile Lena is sure she thinks is affectionate, and it’s a testament to how deeply Kara has changed her that the barb doesn’t sting anymore. “It’s time to finish what your brother started.”

The device and the briefcase get loaded into the van they arrived in, and Lillian digs through Lex’s trophies to find suitable weapons for the journey.

“There’s no reason for the Supers to know what we intend,” Lillian says, as she grabs a gun the size of a small bazooka. “But I’ve learned that one always has to be prepared for those self-sacrificing idiots to show up. Sam Lane might have lost his backbone, but I kept a store here in case of emergency.” She checks the chamber of the gun, and seeming satisfied with what she finds, she pulls a much smaller pistol-sized weapon out of the pocket of her trenchcoat. It looks like a small plasma gun, made of smooth black metal.

“Here,” she says, handing the gun to Lena. “We’ll see if you can pull the trigger.”

Lena takes it, but she doesn’t have to check the chamber to know it’s full of kryptonite. It feels warm in her hand, an uncomfortable warmth that makes her palm sweat, and Lena swallows her revulsion at holding the material that could hurt the person she loves most in this world. She last fed on Kara two days ago, so her residual powers are waning, but she can sense the green poison even so.

Even with Kara’s powers, she’s mostly immune to kryptonite – and Kara’s blood improves Lena’s resistance to the only thing that could still hurt her. Kara protects her, and she can protect Kara.

The drive to the dispersal site is silent. The tension in the car is thick, Lillian’s grip on the steering wheel tight, and her eyes dart around the sky like she’s expecting Kara to descend from the heavens. And as much as Lena misses Kara with every fibre of her being, as much as her body burns to be close again, she hopes against hope that Kara doesn’t find them. Not yet. Not until the last possible moment.

Lillian pulls off the main road and onto a little-used gravel path, blowing past a ‘no trespassing’ sign and sliding the van into what looks like a quarry. There are abandoned cranes and trucks scattered across the wide valley, and Lillian marches straight to the nearest one and wrenches the tailgate open. The dispersal device is planted right in the middle, and with military precision Lillian takes a phial out of the briefcase, drops it in, and closes the canister.

“Do the honours?” Lillian asks, and it takes everything Lena has not to baulk. She fixed the device, she installed a sabotage that she can only pray will actually work, but turning the key? Actually putting her hand to an action that could kill Kara?

“I couldn’t take this victory from you,” Lena manages to say, hoping the disgust doesn’t show in her voice. “You’re the mastermind. Let this moment be yours.”

Lillian has never been quite as egomaniacal as Lex. Asking Lena to turn the key was more a command than a request, and Lena is pushing her luck by denying. But the last few months of careful unravelling have affected her more than Lena thought, it seems – she swallows the bait, and turns back to the device with a smile.

“I suppose you’re right,” she murmurs, her voice low and soft. “Prepare yourself, Lena. A new world is coming.”

With a hum the device activates, and only then does Lena drop the walls she’s shakily held up for the last two days. She lets Kara fill her from afar, embrace her with a rush of relief that almost makes her drop to her knees, and she holds onto that connection for dear life as a rush of wind makes her hair blow back. She almost doesn’t want to open her eyes, afraid of what she’ll see, but she manages to crack them open –

The mist surrounding them is white. Not green. The active isotope was filtered out, and all that’s currently entering the atmosphere is inert chemicals. Water and fillers. One good clean rain, and they’ll be gone.

And Kara is still there in her heart, strong and vital.

Kara isn’t dead. It worked, and Lena knows exactly what to do. With a surge of adrenaline Lena points the gun Lillian gave her to the sky, and fires a long beam of kryptonite into the air.

“What are you doing?” Lillian says, waving a hand through the mist with a look of alarm. “Why isn’t it - you – you.” The final word is said in a breath, as Lillian takes in the scene and starts to understand.

“Me,” Lena says, feeling stronger than she has in days. She brings the hand holding the gun down, pointing it instead at her mother. Kryptonite might not be immediately poisonous to a vampire, but it might slow her down if she tries to run. What Lena needs to do now is buy time until Kara picks up on the kryptonite signature and follows it here. She just needs to prey on Lillian’s curiosity.

Lillian herself seems torn between fury and a strange sort of pride, looking at the empty phial in the device.

“You changed the isotope.”

“I did,” Lena says, smirking. Lillian laughs just a little too loudly, her mask starting to slip.

“This whole time. I should have known,” she says lowly, putting a hand on the device like she thinks somehow her touch can repair it. “Is it you I have to thank for the arrest of most of my allies? My own daughter?”

“I’m not your daughter, Lillian,” Lena says, her voice strong as she voices something she’s known for decades but has never been able to utter. “I never have been. We both know that. So, yes – I’ve been working with Supergirl for months. Under your very nose.”

“Supergirl agreed to work for a Luthor?” Lillian says with a scoff. Lena only smiles.

“She agreed to work with me. As did Manchester Black,” Lena says, and Lillian’s jaw twitches. “And Cat Grant. Andrea Rojas. Even Corben. Your most loyal lapdog.”

“John would never turn against me,” Lillian hisses. “He was killed by Manchester Black.” She’s starting to move, circling Lena like a predator, and Lena follows with the gun still pointed at her chest.

“Oh, he’s very much alive. He’s at the DEO,” Lena says, keeping her voice calm to counter Lillian’s. “He spilled every secret of yours the moment he realized you were poisoning him with kryptonite.”

Lillian blanches, stopping in her circling for a moment as that fact hits her. Knowing she needs to buy a little more time until Kara gets here, Lena keeps talking.

“Supergirl has shown me the value of alliances over minions. Friendships. Loyalty. And now I’ve called her here.”

“Impossible,” Lillian says, and Lena can see she’s getting closer and closer to the van. Her left hand is grasping for the keys in her coat pocket, and Lena tightens her grip on the gun. “You have no communication devices.”

Lena doesn’t have to answer. Right on cue there’s a whoosh behind Lillian, and in blur of heroic blue and red there Kara is. The sight of her is so good, so welcome, that Lena almost runs to her without a second thought. She’s wearing the suit Lena built for her, and she disengages the helmet and props it under her arm, shaking her hair out and looking at Lena with a smile so pure and bright that it brings tears to Lena’s eyes. The last two days have been torture, being so far from Kara, and being near her again is a balm.

“Hey, babe. You called?” Kara says, clearly aiming for jaunty but falling a little short when a tear slides down her cheek. Lena laughs, pure relief and love, and it’s only seeing movement in the corner of her eye that reminds her of the task at hand. She drops the gun, kicking it across the quarry under one of the trucks and turning to Lillian.

“My soulmate will always find me,” Lena says, finally reveling in their success. Now that Kara is here, it’s over. Lillian has no power over her anymore. “And the DEO has a lock on your synthetic kryptonite. From your precious John.”

Soulmate – “ Lillian says, looking so deeply revulsed that it’s almost funny. Distracted by the thought of love between a Luthor and a Super she’s let her guard down, and without even a single word Kara and Lena move forward.

The keys are wrested from Lillian’s grip. Kara throws them into the distance, and with Lena’s help she binds Lillian’s hands with reinforced alien cuffs, looping her arms around the lowered neck of a crane.

The second Lillian is secured they practically throw themselves at each other, Lena clinging to Kara’s shoulders and Kara breathing deep into Lena’s neck. Drinking each other in, and basking in a contact they’ve both craved.

“I missed you so much,” Lena murmurs, her face buried in Kara’s hair. Kara’s arms tighten around her waist, locking around her back.

“I missed you, are you kidding me?” Kara says, muffled by Lena’s collarbone. “I was so worried I could barely think. The only thing keeping me going was feeling you with me. Every time I started to think I’d never find you…you were there. Reassuring me.”

“I’m so sorry, Kara,” Lena tries to explain. “I found the virus in the lab, and she caught me with it.”  She cards her fingers through Kara’s hair, scratching at the base of her neck, and Kara sighs in contentment. “I had to pretend –”

“I know.”

“If she thought I was working against her, she would have gone to ground, re-engineered the virus. I couldn’t reach out –”

“I know, Lena,” Kara says again, laughing and finally pulling back to look Lena in the eyes. She presses their foreheads together, kissing the tip of Lena’s nose in that sweet way she always has. “I was worried about you, not about your motivations.”

“You had to have doubted me a little,” Lena argues, grinning. Kara’s steadfast faith in her is never going to stop feeling like a sunrise in her chest.

“I knew you were trying to get back to me. I was just scared you’d get yourself killed first.”

Kara’s eyes are as red-rimmed as Lena’s, rough with stress and lack of sleep, but the love in them is as clear as ever. Lena lets all the tension leave her body, gripping harder at the back of Kara’s neck. Her anchor.

“Well, you’re an idiot, then,” Lena says fondly. “For all you knew, I could have betrayed you.”

Kara just grins, cupping Lena’s face with both hands and leaning in. “So I’m an idiot. You’re the one stuck with me.”

Lena smiles against Kara’s lips. Her heart, so ragged since Lillian dragged her out of LuthorCorp and away from the only person who matters, feels whole again in a way that makes the world around them fade. Kara is all there is, her bright eyes and her warmth and the way their souls tangle together without any effort.

“All the worse for me.”

Their kiss is long and deep, their bodies flush and their souls open. Kara’s hands slide down to her hips, Lena’s hands tangled in her hair, and even through the armoured suit Lena can feel every part of her waking up and singing at Kara’s touch. A re-stitching of a connection that’s been frayed for too long. And it’s absolutely fucking perfect, until Lena hears Lillian snort.

“Spare me the indignity of being your voyeur,” Lillian says poisonously, clearly trying to struggle out of her cuffs. “I’d rather just be arrested.”

The distant sounds Lena has been half-hearing, too distracted by Kara, come to a head as a fleet of SUVs swarm their location from all sides.

“That can be arranged,” Kara says smugly, her hands still locked around Lena’s back. One car drives right up to them, skidding to a halt on the gravel a few feet from where she and Kara are standing, and out of it pile a few people she never thought she’d be ecstatic to see – as well as one she’s missed almost as much as she missed Kara.

Sam wraps Lena in a hug the moment Kara lets her go, and Lena laughs into her shoulder.

“I wasn’t sure you’d all get my invitation,” Lena admits, and Sam lets her go to reveal Alex, Nia, Brainy, and even J’onn all smiling at her. Looking at her like they’re relieved she’s okay. Like she’s actually a part of the team.

“Brainy was the one who saw it,” Nia says, looking fondly at him as he clears his throat awkwardly, clumsy under the sudden attention. “But we’ve all been looking for you around the clock. Especially Kara.”

Alex is the last to reach the group, and she gestures to a group of agents to apprehend Lillian with several sets of the wooden cuffs that Lena had long ago suggested they have on hand. She looks different, somehow, and never is it more apparent then when she puts a sisterly hand on Lena’s shoulder, looking genuinely concerned.

“Thank god we got here in time. You took a huge risk, doing this. Are you okay?”

Blinking silently, Lena looks to Kara, who just beams as she looks back and forth between them. Alex has warmed up to her over the last few weeks but she’s certainly never been this familial, and it’s alarming.

“It had to be done,” Lena says, a little stiffly. “I’m only sorry I couldn’t tell Kara about it first, but I didn’t have time. Things progressed faster than I anticipated.”

“It’s fine,” Alex says, waving off the apology. “We’re just glad you’re okay.”

Flabbergasted, Lena turns to Kara again.

“Has she been possessed?”

Kara laughs, shaking her head. “No. Just woken up. Finally.”

Understanding dawning, Lena turns back to Alex, who has sidled up to Sam’s side and taken her hand with a deep contentment that Lena recognizes straight away.

“So – you two -?” Lena says, gesturing vaguely between them.

“Yeah.” Alex is radiant, and Sam has a glow about her that Lena has never seen before. It suits both of them like nothing else. “And Lena, I’m sorry.”

“You’re…sorry?” Lena says, still trying to process the vast changes that only two days have brought to her life. Alex nods solemnly.

“I’ve treated you like crap ever since Kara first met you. I didn’t trust you, and I was a dick about it.”

Lena is bewildered. Kara, on the other hand, looks ecstatic.

“I was so concerned over protecting Kara that I didn’t think to give you a chance for a long time,” Alex continues, leaving Sam’s side to talk to Lena so closely and earnestly that it takes a lot of self-control for Lena not to avoid her very intense eye contact. “And you distrusting the DEO made me like you less, when I really should have been investigating why.”

“I – ehm, thank you?” Lena stammers. Kara squeezes her hand, and Alex holds hers out to shake.

“If it’s okay with you, I’d like to fix that. Especially since it’s looking like you’re going to be my sister-in-law forever.”

Lena – crimson, confused, and slightly overwhelmed – accepts Alex’s handshake. It’s brief but vigorous, and Alex’s warm smile puts Lena a bit at ease again, even if it’s coming from someone who she’s pretty sure didn’t fully trust her when they last met.

“So,” Nia says, leaning back against the SUV and crossing her ankles casually. “We did it. What’s next?”

The question is followed by a moment of silence, and Kara is the first to break it.

“To be honest, I think I need to leave the DEO.”

“Me too.”

Every head turns towards Alex, five shocked faces and one serene one staring at her after a revelation nobody but Sam seemed to expect.

“Really?” Nia says, standing up straight in her disbelief. “But it’s your life, Alex.”

Alex shrugs. “I’ve had a lot of lives, apparently. I think I want to spend some time figuring out what that means.”

Sam puts an arm around her, and Alex looks so at peace with her decision that it seems to make everyone else reconsider their own options.

“I’m down to quit,” Nia says, and Lena feels a surge of fondness for their youngest member’s easy disposition. “But I don’t want to stop helping people. It’s sort of hard to do that without resources.”

“Well,” Lena says slowly, considering the options as the car carrying her stepmother disappears into the distance, “I think I did just inherit a company. Perhaps I can help in that department, before I gut it from the inside out.”

Kara draws Lena into her side, kissing her temple, and Lena tucks herself in without a second thought.

“Are we creating our own superhero squad?” Nia asks, looking increasingly excited the more the idea takes shape. Brainy smiles at her enthusiasm.

“I believe we are. J’onn?”

J’onn, in contrast to everyone else, looks stern. He looks around – agents sweeping the area, a few carefully taking the dispersal device and putting it into an airtight container, some filling out paperwork for Lillian’s arrest – and sighs.

“I think I need to stay here for a little longer. Make sure nobody swoops in and makes this department into something destructive,” he says, sounding exhausted already. “Put things as right as I can. But after it’s done, consider me in.”

“You know what this means,” Kara says, her grin growing. “We need a secret hideout.”

 


 

Ten months later

 

 

Lena wakes on her wedding day much like she’s woken up every morning for the better part of a year – warm, content, and with Kara wrapped around her like a barnacle. Dappled light shines on her face through the open curtains and Lena smiles, stretching out in the sunbeam while Kara murmurs sleepily into her hair. The bedside clock reads 10:15, and anticipation washes over her in a gentle burst when she remembers exactly what day it is.

“Time to get up, darling,” Lena rasps, twisting in Kara’s arms and trailing kisses across her bare chest. “Come on.”

Kara’s reply is incoherent. She pulls Lena closer, so close that if Lena hadn’t fed on her last night it might have been painful, and smushes Lena’s face into her chest. Lena chuckles, tangling their legs together.  

“Normally I would say we should sleep in, but today is somewhat important,” Lena says, only slightly muffled. “We have an appointment, if you remember. Just a trifling thing – “

Kara sits straight up in bed, dislodging Lena and leaving her flopping back onto the pillows.

“We’re getting married today.”

Kara’s hair sticks up on one side, a rare consequence of her going to sleep with it wet, and the shape of the pillowcase is still creased across her cheek. But her eyes are alight with excitement, and the smile she turns on Lena is radiant.

“We’re getting married today,” Lena replies warmly.

Kara’s joy is infectious. Lena laughs, pulling Kara down by the back of her neck for a long kiss.

A wedding had seemed almost silly when Kara first suggested it, in this very bed the night of Lillian’s arrest. They had spent the night entwined, reassuring themselves and each other again and again that the ordeal was over. They were together and whole, and safe. They shared pleasure and tears, and when finally they were too worn to keep going Kara had popped the question. Lena, hazy and drunk on their closeness, had almost laughed at the way she suggested it – half-asleep, the question slipping out almost unintelligibly due to Kara’s apparent need to doze with her face buried in the space between Lena’s shoulderblades.

But when Kara specified that she wanted a Kryptonian ceremony, to bind herself to Lena and Lena to her in the eternal way of her people, Lena understood. They had come too close to losing each other; and besides, Kara yearns to keep her culture alive. Lena knows how lonely she is in that way, even with Lena to share her soul.

In the months since Lillian was thrown in jail with Lex, Lena has been living in a kind of peace she didn’t think was possible. She and Kara have been living together at Kara’s apartment since day one, with Kara affectionately calling it their love nest. It’s the place they first kissed, where they came together for the first time and almost every time since, and no matter how many times Lena suggests it Kara has adamantly refused to fix the Lena-shaped indent in the wall.

The DEO split solidified just a few weeks after Lillian’s arrest with J’onn joining them about 3 months later, and Lena had used her new LuthorCorp to build them a base of operations; and once it was built, she liquidated the whole company. Every LuthorCorp asset, every subsidiary – all of them are gone, now, scattered to the winds and their proceeds donated. If Lex and Lillian ever manage to get themselves out of prison and try to reclaim their years of hard work, it won’t be there waiting. She made sure of that.

It takes a few minutes of indulgent kisses to get Kara motivated enough to get up for real, but eventually she rolls herself off the (newly reinforced, but still somewhat battered) bed and heads to the kitchen, still naked and seeming uninterested in getting dressed just yet. Lena lays back on the soft sheets to listen to the clatter of Kara starting her breakfast with a lightness in her heart. After a few minutes the smell of pancakes starts to fill the apartment, and Kara’s head pokes around the curtain that separates the bed from the living room. Her hair is in a messy bun, now, and she’s wearing sweats and a sports bra and little else.

“Hey! If I have to get up, you do too.”

You got up because you need to eat before you can function,” Lena says drily, but when Kara’s head disappears again she swings her legs over and wiggles her toes on the hardwood anyways.

“You should eat, too,” Kara calls. Lena pads to the kitchen, and Kara halts halfway through flipping a pancake to take in the sight of Lena’s bare body in the morning light. Even when she’s seen it hundreds of times, Kara still looks at her with the same focused interest as always.

“I ate plenty last night,” Lena says, popping a strawberry in her mouth. Human food used to remind her of everything she lost – now, it reminds her of Kara and her voracious appetite. Over the months she’s found herself eating it more and more just for the pleasure of flavour, and Kara seems happy to help her rediscover what she likes.

“Well, you burned lots of calories between then and now.” Kara’s eyes haven’t left her, and the pancake on her spatula slowly slides off until it lands in a splattered pile back in the frying pan.

“Swear you aren’t going to use this as an excuse to drag us back into bed?” Lena says, running a hand along the skin above Kara’s waistband before hooking a finger in and tugging her close enough. “As much as I’d love that, we both need to get ready. Separately.”

“Promise,” Kara grins, exposing her neck and tapping at it insistently. Lena, with none of her old hesitation plaguing her, sinks her teeth in and drinks deep. Her body ignites every time she’s pressed naked to Kara, especially when Kara immediately breaks her promise to let her hands wander. They trace over Lena’s hips, up her waist and over the sides of her breasts; the spatula hits the floor, but before Kara can fully break Lena’s willpower she manages to pull herself back to honour Lena’s request.

After drinking her fill Lena swirls her tongue over the closing incisions, punctuating it with a gentle kiss to Kara’s skin. Kara sighs happily, starting to lean down to capture her lips in a real kiss, but Lena ducks it.

“Not yet,” Lena says, dancing playfully out of her reach. “Save it for tonight. Save it all for tonight.”

She revels in the flash of desire in Kara’s eyes, but Kara manages to keep to her word. After Kara eats they part ways for the rest of the morning, Lena off to prepare for the ceremony at Sam’s apartment and Kara to wait for Alex and Nia to arrive here, and even as she’s loath to leave Lena knows it’ll be worth it later.

Sam and Brainy greet her at the door, with Sam pressing a mimosa into her hand – I don’t care that you can’t get drunk, it’s tradition – and soon she’s swept into a whirlwind of activity. She and Kara both decided on simplicity, so her dress and hair are uncomplicated. The latter is brushed until soft and swept over her shoulder, and the former is a simple wrap dress cut from soft white silk that she can’t wait for Kara to unravel.

It’s capped off with a traditional Kryptonian shawl, a piece of heavy fabric that drapes over her like a mantle. It’s white as well, but trimmed and embroidered with the colours of the House of El.

“Wow,” Sam says quietly, standing behind Lena as she looks at herself in the mirror. She tucks Lena’s hair behind her ear, resting her chin on Lena’s shoulder. “Total knockout. Kara’s definitely going to flip.”

“You think so?” Lena asks, even as she knows the answer. Kara always finds her beautiful. And right now, in dazzling white and bearing Kara’s family crest, Lena can see it too.

“You look like a falling star,” Brainy says with unexpected softness. His smile is genuine, and Lena has to bring her hands to her eyes to stop them from leaking.

“You need to stop making me emotional. Don’t make me ruin my makeup before the actual wedding.”

The ceremony is set up at their newly-built tower, out on the spacious balcony under the sky. Lena is bathed in sunlight, and with Kara’s blood singing through her, she lets it warm her face as she watches their friends gather in the smattering of chairs that have been set out. Lucy and Lois Lane, arm in arm with Clark sitting on Lois’ other side; Brainy and Nia, sitting front and centre and talking quietly to Eliza Danvers; Kara’s friends Winn and James, who left for Metropolis long before Kara and Lena ever met, but who Kara talks about with such fondness that Lena feels like she already knows them. Manchester Black showed up to Lena’s mild surprise, sitting next to Jess, as did both Andrea and Veronica – they’re sitting in the back, several empty seats between them and exchanging furtive glances. And in the very back, refusing to sit but also very firmly present, is Cat Grant. Her proud smile is badly concealed, and she gives Lena a wink when the crowd starts to quiet.

A true hush falls when Kara finally touches down on the balcony, her eyes only on Lena.

“Hey,” Kara whispers, her mouth trembling slightly with emotions that Lena can feel as if they’re her own. They are her own. Joy and gratitude and love and nerves, all wrapped up into one. “You look...”

Kara trails off with a shaky exhale, but Lena knows. This moment is beyond words. She can feel how awed Kara is to see her; and Kara, in the deep blue and vibrant red of her house, looks so handsome. She’s in a fitted tunic and pants with her crest proudly on the chest, her own wedding mantle draped over her broad shoulders and her long hair spilling over it, and Lena can hear the consistent tap of Nia taking what sounds like 100 photos on her phone. 

Kara swallows, gently connecting their hands in preparation. 

“Ready?” 

All Lena can do is nod. If she speaks, she might sob.

Kara nods to J’onn, who takes his place at the makeshift altar. He puts one of his large hands over their joined ones, and his voice is calming as he begins the ceremony.

“We’re here today to see our friends join themselves together,” he says, smiling proudly at both of them. Over the last year the initial coldness he treated her with has disappeared entirely, replaced by an almost fatherly trust and affection, and he seems truly delighted to have been offered the honour of presiding. “In the tradition of Krypton. If their givers would bring the bracelets?”

Alex and Sam, stationed on either side, hold matching boxes in their hands. They open them in unison, and in the daylight the metallic glints wink like stars.

Kara, first in all things, is the first to present her vows.

“I’ve always known we’d end up here,” Kara says, the sunlight making her eyes the clearest and most brilliant blue. “I knew you were it for me from the minute we met, even if it took us a while to get there.” Lena chuckles, and Kara reaches out to tuck back a windblown strand of hair.

“You’re my sun, Lena. I already know we’ll never be apart, and we don’t need a ceremony to prove it; but while you wear my band,” here, Kara took the bracelet from Alex and enclosed it around Lena’s wrist, fastening the clasp with slightly trembling hands, “I promise you that you’ll never go a single minute without knowing you have my love, and that you’re more than worthy of it.”

Lena’s eyes fill with tears. The bracelet is beautiful – braided bands of coloured metal, arranged in a way unique to her and Kara. Blue and red for Kara’s life before they met and purple and green for Lena’s, which brought them together; and threads of silver and yellow-gold, for their future together. It fits perfectly, and Kara traces over the veins in Lena’s wrist as it comes to rest against her skin.

“From this day, until the universe comes to rest,” Kara murmurs at last – but this time in Kryptonian, almost as if she’s talking to herself. Had Lena not prepared for this moment, she might not have understood it. Kara certainly doesn’t expect her to. But she’s spent 8 months knowing that this ceremony was coming, and that Kara deserves to have this one remnant of her culture live on. Even if it’s only one day.

So, in Kryptonian, Lena begins her own vows.

You’re my guiding star,” she says, and Kara’s eyes widen. Her mouth parts, but no sound comes out as Lena continues. “I love you with everything that I am. You gave me light, when I only saw dark. You gave me choice where I thought I had none.”

The language feels formal and clumsy on Lena’s tongue, the flowery foreign structure not quite capturing her meaning, but Kara’s wonder is so pure and good that she knows she’s done the right thing. Kara craves words; and Lena will give them to her, today of all days.

“Today I take your name,” Lena says, taking her own bracelet from a tearful Sam and clasping it around Kara’s outstretched arm. “But your heart has always been with me.”  When it’s fastened, she brings it up to her face to kiss Kara’s warm wrist over the metal.

You are mine, and I am yours. For always.”

Kara’s grip tightens, lacing their fingers together, and her eyes spill over with tears as Lena finishes her vows.

“Lena,” she says, her voice broken but full of wonder. “You learned Kryptonian? You didn’t say…”

“This bracelet means partnership,” Lena says, meaning every word. “Which means that keeping Krypton alive is my job, too.”

Kara’s breath catches, and for one heart-stopping moment Lena thinks that she might make her almost-wife break down completely on their wedding day. But Kara’s tears are soft and grateful, and she laughs wetly through them without taking her eyes from Lena’s face.

“I really thought I’d get through today without crying.”

Lena laughs, too. “Your tears are beautiful,” she says in Kryptonian, and Kara stops in her attempt to wipe them away. Lena feels her own rising to match Kara’s boundless joy, and by the time J’onn finishes the ceremony they’re both crying and smiling in equal measure, clutching each other’s hands. Kara’s outline blurs in Lena’s vision, and with the sun behind her it makes her look like an angel.

“In the name of truth and honour, I declare these vows binding,” J’onn announces, in his deep calming voice. “From this day forward, throughout all time and space, even unto eternity.”

The words are translated, but they’re right out of Kara’s memory from her home planet. The ceremony as it is isn’t legally binding on earth – that doesn’t matter, when they’ll likely far outlive the system it would be valid in – but it unites them in the way that counts. There’s a stillness following the words, and in it Lena can hear her heart and Kara’s beating in sync.

“You forgot to tell them to kiss,” Nia calls, her hands cupped around her mouth to carry the sound. Laughter ripples through everyone, including Lena and Kara – and J’onn chuckles, conceding the point with a nod.

“You may now –”

But Kara is already kissing her, smiling into it when she wraps strong arms around Lena’s waist and lifts. Lena’s feet leave the ground, and she laughs with wild delight as Kara spins her in a circle.

They have no reception, in the traditional sense. Instead Veronica clears out the bar for the night, allowing their party to spread out and celebrate together, and it’s everything Lena could have wanted out of this day despite having hardly thought about it until Kara asked. A wedding is something she hadn’t let herself consider for most of her life, convinced that she was both fundamentally unlovable and would never find the kind of connection that might make her want to get married.

Now that she knows both are untrue, a night surrounded by close friends is perfect. Alex and Brainy watch Sam hustle Nia at pool, while J’onn sips a beer deep in conversation with Manchester. Eliza Danvers is in a booth with Jess and Lois Lane playing a spirited game of quarters, and Clark is playing darts with James Olsen. Andrea and Veronica are, hilariously, attached at the lips behind the bar and pointedly ignoring anyone who asks for a drink, leading to Lucy reaching behind them and snatching a bottle of tequila herself. Cat Grant had disappeared soon after the ceremony, adamantly pretending she wasn’t in tears, but the fact that she showed up at all seems to have made Kara happy.

Lena watches it all tucked into Kara’s side, sitting on top of a booth table with Kara’s shawl draped over both their shoulders. She has a scotch in her hand, and when Clark catches her eye from across the room he raises his own drink with a smile. Lena raises hers in return. He turns back to his conversation, but the moment stays with her.

She feels warm and happy and accepted from all corners. Which is why, when the door is unceremoniously slammed open and eight men burst in in balaclavas and leather jackets, waving guns and yelling for everyone to get on the floor, all Lena can do is laugh.

“Oh, you picked the wrong party to crash.”

The intruders seem unsettled by Lena’s demeanor. There isn’t an iota of fear in the whole room – Andrea and Veronica only detach their lips momentarily to see the cause of the commotion, before continuing like they haven’t been interrupted at all. Clark sighs, starting to remove his glasses, but he seems to stop himself. He lets Kara take the lead instead, and Kara raises her eyebrows at the intruders.

“Well, that’s just rude,” Kara says, hopping down from the table and helping Lena down with a gallant hand. “Who interrupts someone’s wedding reception? I mean, come on.”

The man in the lead goes pale, but he seems determined.

“Supergirl,” he mutters, not lowering his gun. “We heard you were here tonight. With your friends. Celebrating marriage to a human. And we have some demands.”

Alex snorts loudly. All eyes turn to her, and she clears her throat. “I, uh. Really think you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

“Humans and aliens shouldn’t intermarry,” another man pipes up, his voice full of hilariously self-righteous anger. “It’s a threat to our very -”

“Spare us the principled speech,” Lena interrupts, a brow arched. “You’re interrupting my wedding, as previously mentioned. I’d really rather we get this over with quickly.”

“You should listen to her,” Kara says sagely.

“I suggest that you take this opportunity to consider the error of your ways,” Lena continues, taking a measured sip of scotch, “and leave, before everyone in this bar makes you leave.”

The men look around. Everyone gathered around them looks ordinary, civilians to a tee – but each of them is giving off an unsettling aura, and it makes the air in the room heavy.

“We demand that Supergirl leave National City,” he says, his voice quavering while Kara looks on with amusement. “Annul her marriage to a human, and bring our protest to the President of –”

Finally reaching her limit, Lena rolls her eyes. She snatches the gun from the man’s hands and tosses it across the bar, and Manchester reaches a hand up to snatch it from the air.

“Just plasma,” Manchester says, checking the chamber and finding a battery rather than bullets. “An upgrade from standard ammo, but nothing special.”

“You brought a knife to a gun fight,” Nia quips, twirling her pool cue. “Well, plasma to a Supergirl fight. Interchangeable.”

One man, his gaze flicking around to each person in turn and lingering on Alex’s murderous expression, seems to reach his wit’s end. His finger twitches on the trigger and a blast of blue energy blows past Kara – who steps easily out of the way – and destroys the vintage jukebox beside the bathrooms.

“Hey!” Veronica yells from behind the bar, finally distracted from Andrea. “That was eight grand, you asshole!”

In seconds, half the people in the room have changed. Supersuits manifest out of thin air, weapons and powers glowing under the florescent lighting, and the people without them watch in amusement, sipping their drinks. The intruders seem only to realize the depth of their mistake when the full breadth of the room has surrounded them, with Superman standing in Kara’s shadow.

They scatter. Rounding them up is easy enough work; and Lena, invulnerable with Kara’s blood coursing through her veins, turns to her soulmate.

“Well, Mrs. Zor-El Danvers,” Kara says, and the reminder sends warmth all the way to Lena’s toes. “Looks like we can’t catch a break even on our wedding day.” Kara’s eyes sparkle with mirth, and more than ever Lena loves her. The strength of it leaves her breathless.

“The sooner we clean this up, the sooner we can go home,” Lena says. Kara’s eyes flash darker, her smile turning sly.

Through the chaos, they move forward as one.