Kara accelerated, forcing herself to go faster and faster until she was directly below the searing hunk of metal that barely looked like the smooth-lined spaceship it once was. The red fiery shell that surrounded it, as it plummeted through Earth’s atmosphere heading directly towards National City’s most populous district, made it look like a bullet spat out by a cosmic weapon.
“Any day now would be good, Supergirl.” Alex muttered teasingly down the comms, though Kara could detect the hint of worry underneath her sister’s controlled words.
Kara gritted her teeth in concentration as she shot back, “Well, why don’t you try and catch it with your bare hands, then?” She angled her body closer towards the out of control ship, wincing slightly at the exorbitant heat it exuded due to re-entry.
“Supergirl?” A new voice sounded over the comms surprising Kara, not because she didn’t recognise it but due to how infrequently she heard it most days and how even rarer it was to hear over the Supergirl communications.
“Uh… Lena?” Kara replied hesitantly, as she tried to locate a suitable spot on the ship that she could securely grab onto.
“Activate your anti-kryptonite suit. I’ve upgraded it to be more heat resistant and it should provide better coverage than your standard suit.” Lena explained, her voice neutral but sincere.
Once given the guidance, Kara didn’t hesitate to press a hand against the insignia on her chest and activate the more robust suit designed by the youngest Luthor. The second it was in place, Kara felt instantly cooler and safer. The HUD on her helmet flickered to life, analysed the situation and highlighted a number of handholds Kara could go for to ensure a suitable grip and minimise damage to the ship itself.
“I've got it.” Kara called out as she rushed into position, gloved fingers digging into the hull before she applied pressure, gently lifting it up and turning to one side, guiding it away from its previously set course. The HUD continued to provide Kara crucial information, how much force to apply, how fast to fly and a path to follow through the sky.
Kara heaved a sigh of relief when her feet just skimmed the top of National City’s tallest skyscraper as she continued to nudge the steadily slowing spaceship in the direction of the DEO.
“Good work, Supergirl!” Alex cheered, her voice so much lighter than it had been previously.
Kara found herself pausing before replying, hoping to hear another voice chime in with congratulations - nothing came and Kara couldn’t help the sharp pang of disappointment in her gut.
She buried it like she always did before replying with artificial glee, “All in a day’s work. Two minutes out.”
Kara set the spaceship down carefully, fearful of hurting any occupants inside and damaging the tarmac of the DEO’s runway again - a pretty terrible crash landing on her part a couple of weeks ago had resulted in Alex being forced to spend a significant chunk of her budget getting it re-laid. Two SUVs and the DEO’s version of an ambulance pulled up a handful of seconds later, having set off as soon as Kara’s impending arrival was confirmed. Alex jumped out first, armed and supported by two of her top agents. From the second SUV, Lena emerged, dressed in her familiar plain black DEO attire (having obviously changed for the short excursion), hanging back and out of the way as Brainy and another agent stepped forward to act as reserves.
Kara questioned the wisdom of Lena’s presence until the raven-haired woman pulled forth a tablet that she lifted up to scan the spaceship in front of them.
“Single life-sign inside. Unconscious but stable.” Lena ascertained from whatever data she was generating.
Kara bit down on her tongue, barely resisting the desire to comment that she could have told them that with her X-ray vision. It was a bad habit. The sniping at Lena, it was an odd mix of instinctual and unnatural. She knew it was petty and mean but the remnants of their long-winded fight and cold hostility were still leaving a wake.
They were moving past it slowly. Painfully slowly. Or at least they had been.
They now seemed to be at a weird impasse. With little progress either way.
Some days… when her chest felt too tight and her stomach ached with how much she missed Lena… Kara wished they were back to the hey-days of their friendship. Messaging each other constantly, desperate for more time in each other’s company. Eager to hear about each other’s days. Quick to offer physical contact and utterly comfortable to sit silently, curled up together after a long day.
Other days… when she flash-backed to the darkness in Lena’s eyes, how seemingly easy it was for her to get over Lex’s transgressions and not Kara’s… Kara wished she could unleash the flare of hatred that was never (and had never really been) hatred. Wished she could spew venom at Lena without feeling the sharp blades of guilt. Wished she could feel utterly indifferent whenever she was reminded how far their relationship had fallen from what it once was.
Kara was trying to be better at managing the two extremes.
And she knew Lena was too.
It was probably why her and Lena were at such a stale-mate.
They had found something neutral. An equilibrium. And neither wished to rock the boat.
Neither wished to acknowledge how hollow and superficial it was too.
“There’s a hatch, just to your right.” Lena said, and it took Kara a moment to jolt out of her thoughts and realise that not only was Lena talking to her but giving her directions.
Kara jumped into action, pleased to have something else to look at other than the raven-haired woman. If Lena hadn’t pointed out exactly where to look, Kara would have missed it the first time round. The spaceship was made of a reflective, practically pristine metal which, alongside the sleekness of the ship's overall design, meant the indents of a hatch were practically invisible unless you knew where to look in the first place.
“Is it safe to open?” Kara asked, directing her question at Lena who was now standing closely with Briany, both evaluating the information Lena’s quick scan had gathered.
“Should be.” Lena assured, before adding an explanation when Kara continued to hesitate, “The readings of the environment inside the ship match up with earth’s atmosphere. If the pilot can breathe inside the ship, they should be able to breathe out here.”
Kara nodded in understanding, trying to hide her frown of discomfort. She was more than aware that Lena offered her explanation purely because she believed Kara wouldn’t trust her simply at her word.
The bitter taste in Kara’s mouth increased as it always did when she was repeatedly exposed to the damage in her friendship with Lena.
“Let’s get this door off then.” Kara muttered brusquely, as Alex gave the signal, readying both her agents and medical staff in preparation for the situation to go either way.
With concentrated surges in strength and the occasional blast of heat-vision, Kara was able to get the door off with minimal damage to the integrity of the rest of the ship. Once the entrance was clear, Alex and Kara stepped inside together, protecting each other’s backs.
The ship was clean, and well-maintained. It would only have been able to house two people at the most for long trips, but it was clearly better suited to an individual for short or medium runs across the galaxy. To the back was a living space, complete with a small sofa, a desk with multiple screens and an area that was designed to encourage meditation. Two doors at the back were closed and obviously led to private sleeping quarters (which Kara confirmed with a quick sweep of her x-ray vision). Towards the front of the ship was the controls and in the pilot’s seat was an unmoving form.
The sisters shared a non-verbal conversation with quick glances, small hand gestures and nods.
Kara confirmed that the alien in the pilot’s seat was the only one on board and appeared for all intents and purposes to have fallen unconscious upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. Alex de-tensed with the information, keeping her gun in hand but her finger away from the trigger. Kara moved further into the ship, approaching the unconscious form.
The second Kara rounded the pilot’s seat and got her first clear glimpse of the alien, she couldn’t stop the gasp of amazement from escaping.
“What? What is it?” Alex questioned, hurrying to her sister’s side without delay.
“It’s… a… it’s… a Feislan!” Kara exclaimed.
“A… Fay-what?” Alex started to repeat before giving up, choosing to instead ask bluntly and to the point, “You know what? Nevermind. Friend or foe?”
“Oh! Friendly, definitely friendly!” Kara assured, swinging her arms back and forth, unable to physically restrain her excitement.
Alex simply rolled her eyes at her sister, and tapped her earpiece to confirm the ship to be secure and to request the medical personnel to come in.
The Feislan couldn’t have been more than four feet tall, with deep purple skin and white, slicked back hair. Their eyes, when they finally blinked open, were large and completely white, though Kara (with her enhanced vision) could see pale lines patterning them which made them look similar to the compound eyes seen in insects. They were quiet when they awoke, their expression blank and assessing, clearly trying to determine if they had been saved or simply transferred to a new danger.
Kara was on hand to reassure the alien, speaking a variant of a diplomatic language she had learned when she was younger. She was rusty and mildly embarrassed by how she struggled around the intonations that defined the tenses but the Feislan merely smiled encouragingly at her everytime she stumbled over her words. Kara explained what had happened with their ship, where they were and that the best engineers available were working to get the Feislan's ship space-faring again. The Feislan settled after speaking to Kara, sensing her honesty and kindness, and politely introduced themselves as Liorna. Kara beamed at learning the alien’s name which also made it easier for Kara to introduce Liorna to Lena, who had questions related to the ship's design to aid completion of the necessary repairs.
Since Lena was equipped with a tablet complete with an adaptive translation component, Kara walked outside the medbay leaving the Feislan and Lena to talk. She would claim it was because her presence was no longer required and she would just slow down the more technical aspects of their conversation but the truth was she still didn’t know how to comfortably be in Lena’s presence and she was acutely aware that the Feislan had detected it the moment Lena had stepped into the room.
“So… Fayzlan?” Alex inquired, raising a curious eyebrow as Kara came to stand next to her by the window looking into the medbay.
“Feislan.” Kara corrected, before repeating it slowly so Alex could learn the correct pronunciation. “They come from a tiny planet, the same size, if not smaller than Earth’s moon and have long life spans. They maintain a very small population but are highly regarded by other space-faring species.”
Alex’s brow furrowed at that in surprise, “How come?”
“They’re empaths. Really powerful ones.” Kara stressed, as Liorna continued to subtly look from Lena to Kara with a narrowed gaze. “They’re peacemakers and negotiators. It's well-known among aliens that if you ever want a conflict resolved as fairly as possible, you reach out to the Feislans to handle the talks. They’ve stopped more wars than you can even imagine.”
“Wow.” Alex whistled out, impressed. “Good thing you were there, huh?”
“Yeah, good.” Kara breathed, her eyes sweeping over to Lena who was smiling warmly at the Feislan. Kara’s stomach twisted at the sight of that smile. The smile that hadn’t been directed her way for months. The smile that Kara adored.
“Still on for games’ night, tonight?” Alex checked, pulling Kara away from her wistful thoughts.
“Definitely.” Kara assured, “Kelly’s coming right?”
“Of course. Brainy and Nia?”
“Yep, they’re in.” Kara replied.
Alex pursed her lips and opened her mouth to speak before hesitating, “And… uh… Lena?”
Kara’s eyes went downcast, “Umm… don’t know.”
“She… uh… hasn’t been for a while…” Alex pointed out, utterly unnecessarily.
Kara was excruciatingly aware of Lena’s lack of presence. The empty space by her side that should have been occupied by the CEO was like a black hole, sucking her in and leeching her joy and warmth away, at every games night, every lunch that used to have been spent in the other woman’s company and every evening that used to be filled with cheesy films and cuddles.
“She knows that we want her there, right?” Alex inquired gently.
“Yeah, I think so.” Kara murmured uncertainly.
“You told her, you want her there, right?”
“I invite her every week, Alex.” Kara defended, stiffening at the question.
“I know you invite her, but…” Alex continued, wincing as she tried for tactfulness that wasn’t her strong suit, “Do you make it clear that you want her there?”
“I invite her every week.” Kara repeated belligerently, her jaw tightening.
“Right…” Alex muttered; Kara purposefully ignored her sister’s roll of the eyes. “I’ve got to go check in with the other agencies. Allay their worries that the unidentified flying object was not an invasion attempt.”
“Good luck.” Kara said as her sister walked away, leaving Kara outside the medbay on her own.
It was only five minutes later that Lena said her own farewell to the alien and emerged from the room, her expression switching back to neutral and composed as she approached Kara. “I have everything I need to make the repairs.”
“Great…” Kara commented, cringing at how strangled and insincere her declaration sounded. “That’s… umm… great…”
Lena frowned at her, but chose to remain polite and ignore Kara’s stuttering (something she would have lightly teased her for previously). “I will start work immediately. We should be able to send Liorna on their way in a matter of hours.” Lena nodded at her and made to turn on her heel and depart.
“Lena, wait…” Kara requested weakly causing Lena to pause and turn back to her, her expression an odd mix of apprehensive and hopeful. “Ummm… I…” Kara stuttered.
Lena merely arched an eyebrow at her.
“I… I just wanted you...” Kara began before deflating noticeably, “I just wanted you to know that Games’ Night is tonight and you’re… uh… invited.”
“Oh…” Lena said, her voice giving away nothing, as she waited for a beat to see if Kara had anything further to add.
Kara merely dropped her gaze to the floor.
“Well, the ship repairs look like they might take a while…” Lena stated, offering up the readily available excuse, “and after all that… I think I’ll just want to go home and relax.”
“Makes sense…”, Kara muttered, accepting the flimsy lie without a fight, “Maybe next time, then?”
Lena shrugged, “Maybe.”
Kara let out a groan as she rolled over, pushing the comfy duvet off herself as she finally admitted defeat. She had awoken early on Sunday, despite how late she had come to bed the previous night. Games’ night had gone on for far longer than normal, partly due to Brainy and Alex getting ultra competitive over the ‘Game of Life’ (requiring them to replay multiple times to prove their dominance to each other) and partly because Alex seemed uneasy with leaving Kara on her own when she was acting so unusually misanthropic.
Kara had eventually managed to sweep out her guests close to midnight and had then proceeded to watch ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as she demolished two tubs of ice cream seeking to alleviate the swirl of negative emotions that accompanied continuously trying and failing to gather the courage to reach out to her former best friend like she wanted to.
She had retreated to bed in the early hours of the morning, sleep stealing her away after considerable tossing and turning, but for only a handful of hours. Kara had tried to determinedly stay in bed, but errant thoughts had left her antsy and any hope of a slumbering Sunday morning were shattered.
She dragged herself from her cocoon, yawning heavily as she pushed through the curtain separating her from the living room and headed, bleary eyed, with singular focus towards the coffee maker.
Kara was so focused on her goal, so tired from lack of sleep and so wrapped up in her own thoughts that if she had been human she wouldn’t have heard the sharp intake of breath from her living room that revealed she wasn’t alone.
A burst of adrenaline thrummed through Kara as she registered what she had just heard and she spun round as fast as she could to locate the intruder, her gaze heated and ready to fire as her hands came up defensively.
The intruder wasn’t hard to spot - mostly because they weren’t even attempting to hide. They were, however, admirably trying to make themselves as small as feasibly possible in their spot on the couch.
The intruder was a child.
A very small child, who couldn’t have been more than five years old, with dark hair tied up into a ponytail, and wide yet incredibly bright green eyes. She was dressed smartly in a dark blue, pleated skirt, yellow polo and dark blue cardigan and was sat primly, back straight with her arms tightly wrapped around a cuddly brown bear, on Kara’s sofa. It was clear from the tight fists her small hands were making, the way she pulled the toy protectively to her chest and her quick yet shallow breaths, that she was trying very hard not to look scared. Despite her valiant effort, her green eyes - green eyes that Kara would recognise anywhere - revealed the fear that the rest of her was trying so desperately to hide.
Kara’s hands immediately dropped, turning open and surrendering, whilst her eyes lost their harshness as she stared totally dumbstruck at the small girl that was the absolute spitting image of Lena Luthor.
“Uhh…” Kara’s mouth opened and closed as she stared at the little girl, struggling to make any sort of intelligent sound. “Hello, there…” Kara greeted, only slightly more awkwardly than she intended.
The little girl blinked in surprise but the tension in her small body eased somewhat as Kara smiled gently at her.
“Hello.” The girl replied with a clear irish twang to the single word.
“Are you…” Kara began just as doubt began to wheedle its way inside.
A small girl turns up in Kara’s apartment and just because she has green eyes, Kara is convinced she’s… what? The de-aged version of her best friend? Lena’s daughter from the future? A clone?
If Kara hadn’t already faced her own doppelganger in the past, she might have been able to convince herself that she was jumping to extreme conclusions.
In fact, Kara would probably find it even weirder if the real explanation was simply that the girl had somehow wandered into her apartment and set up shop… at least with the clone explanation there was a precedent she could work with.
Suitably mollified by her own reasoning, Kara asked tentatively, “Are you Lena?”
The girl jolted in her spot on the sofa, hugging the bear closer to her chest. “Yes.”
Even though Kara had known it from the second she had laid eyes on the child, the confirmation still managed to take her by surprise.
“Who are you?” Lena asked, trying to sound as confident as she could.
“Oh, my name’s Kara.” Kara replied warmly, taking a step forward, eager to move closer to offer reassurance before halting the second she saw the younger version of her once best friend flinch. “It’s okay,” Kara quickly soothed, “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.”
Lena peered over the top of her bear’s fuzzy head, “Promise?”
Kara knelt down and smiled brightly, “Promise.”
Lena bit her bottom lip, her green eyes assessing but hopeful, “Okay.” She mumbled, her tight grip on her bear easing up ever so slightly.
Kara shuffled closer to the young girl on her knees, taking her time and watching Lena closely to ascertain if she was comfortable with her approach.
“What’s your bear’s name?” Kara inquired.
“Winnie.” Lena replied, snuggling into the bear’s fur.
“As in Winnie the Pooh?” Kara guessed, remembering one year for her birthday that Lena had gifted her a first edition of A. A. Milne’s work.
“Yeah.” Lena grinned.
“I really like Winnie the Pooh, especially Tigger.” Kara bobbed up and down to illustrate her point earning her an adorable giggle that made Kara’s heart light and joyful.
“I like Tigger, too. He’s bouncy.” Lena beamed in return.
“That he is.” Kara agreed, finally close enough to lean against the side of the sofa and look up at the little girl’s face. “Lena, do you know where you are?”
Lena’s brow furrowed, “No…”, then guessed with a cheeky smile, “your home?”
“Yes.” Kara relented with a light chuckle, pleased to see Lena actually acting like the funny, sweet, know-it-all that Kara always hoped she had been despite the shadows cast by the Luthors. “Do you know how you got here?”
Lena shook her head, “No…”
Kara tilted her head to the side, and kept her voice soft and encouraging, not wanting to worry the young girl, “What’s the last thing you remember?”
Lena’s gaze immediately dropped away from Kara’s and she squirmed in her spot on the sofa, her fingers tightening and untightening around Winnie, wanting to bring it up to hide behind. “My brother… Lex… he... he told me to hide…”
“Hide?” Kara repeated, something heavy and cold gathering weight in her stomach.
“Uh huh…” Lena whispered, shrinking further into herself, “I made a mess and they don’t like it when I make a mess…”
“Who doesn’t?” Kara asked, already knowing the answer.
“My new Mum and Dad. I mean… Mother and Father.” Lena corrected, her voice turning robotic and detached… which just sounded wrong coming from a child so young, not to mention that child being Lena. “I just… I always used to make my own breakfast, and I would sometimes make it for Mummy back in my old house and I just… I just wanted some breakfast…” Lena rushed to explain, wide-eyed and desperate as if she was asking Kara to forgive her, to not be mad at her.
The weight in Kara’s stomach increased, growing into an abyss inside of her, threatening to consume her very being.
“I didn’t mean to make a mess but the milk was on a higher shelf than it used to be.” Lena continued, green eyes so apologetic, “Lex found me and told me to hide whilst he cleaned it up. I don’t like it when Mother and Father are unhappy.” Lena’s expression twisted to one of shame as she confessed, “So, so… I went to hide…”
“And next thing you know… you’re here…” Kara finished for her gently, reaching out tentatively to place a reassuring hand on Lena’s forearm, ready to pull back if Lena showed even the slightest sign that she was uncomfortable.
Lena leaned into Kara’s touch, as she mumbled, “They’re going to be even madder now… and Lex will worry.”
“It’ll be okay.” Kara soothed, stroking her thumb back and forth to provide comfort. She wanted to pull Lena into a hug but she also didn’t want to overwhelm the girl knowing how skittish the grown-up version was when it came to physical contact, especially with people she wasn’t comfortable with. “I’ll get you and Winnie home as soon as possible. Alright?”
Lena lifted her head and beamed at Kara, “Okay, I trust you.”
Those three words were the equivalent of a physical blow to the chest and her first time eating a potsticker all rolled into one.
Kara squeezed Lena’s arm once more and let out a shaky breath as she said, “I just need to phone a friend of mine. She can help.” Lena nodded in understanding, snuggling into Winnie as Kara regretfully pulled away and got to her feet. “One second.” Kara assured as she retrieved her phone from her bedroom and quickly dialled one of her two favourite contacts, uncertain whether it would be picked up or not.
The phone barely finished its first ring when it connected.
“Hey-” Kara immediately began.
“Kara, I was just about to call you, I have a small problem here.” Lena (adult, CEO, former best friend), cut in brusquely before Kara could even finish her greeting.
“Ditto,” Kara shot back, irritation beginning to flair under the surface, as she stated pointedly, “though mine is rather urgent.”
“Same here.” Lena snarked in return.
“Trust me, mine takes priority.” Kara replied, unable to stop herself from being pulled into the petty game of one-upmanship.
Kara then heard Lena inhale sharply and just knew she was about to be put in her place like so many arrogant board members that had dared to challenge the youngest Luthor.
“I highly doubt that.” Lena countered, her tone cold, factual and authoritative, which always managed to send a teasing (and not unwelcome) shiver down Kara’s spine. “My problem is a young kryptonian that goes by the name of Kara Zor-El currently sitting in my living room, wondering why she isn’t on Krypton.”
“What?!” Kara squawked.
“Still think your problem takes priority?” Lena inquired.
“You have a young me , there?” Kara pushed.
“Yes!” Lena snapped.
“I have a young you !”
There was a pause on the other end of the phone as Lena took onboard this new information before muttering a dark, “What?”
“Yes, right on my-” Kara started to explain as she peered through the curtain into the living room only to find the sofa, previously occupied, now empty. Kara trailed off as she quickly scanned the apartment and surrounding streets with her x-ray vision before exclaiming, “Oh Rao, she’s gone!”
“You lost me ? !” Lena bellowed down the phone indignantly.
“I didn’t lose you!” Kara defended, zipping frantically around the apartment, searching for any clues that might reveal where the young girl had disappeared to. “You were sitting right there on my couch. I looked away for a second. A second! And you just disappeared!”
There was another moment of silence during which Kara continued to turn her apartment upside down.
“You’ve disappeared too.” Lena eventually announced through the phone.
“No, I’m still right here.” Kara replied.
“Not you you , other you .” Lena huffed in exasperation.
“Oh, right.” Kara cringed with embarrassment before coming to a stop in the middle of her apartment, feeling so lost and confused that she didn’t even bother to try and hide her anxiety when she asked, “Lena, what the hell just happened?”
“I… I don’t know…” Lena muttered, sounding equally helpless. “Meet at the DEO?”
“I’ll call Alex.” Kara offered.
“I’ll call Brainy.” Lena replied. “See you soon.”
“Explain it to me again.”
“Come on, Alex, we’ve been through this twice now.” Kara whined, throwing her arms up in defeat. “I was visited by a younger version of Lena and Lena was visited by a younger version of me.”
“Yes, I got that part!” Alex snapped as she began to tap her foot impatiently. “Do we know for sure they were younger versions of yourselves? Did they time travel? Were they hallucinations brought on by exposure to some unidentified substance? Were they holograms? The possibilities are endless!” Alex huffed out, running a hand through her hair revealing her discomfort with the lack of information. “And that doesn’t even begin to cover the why questions that go with all of those potential options!”
Since becoming the DEO director, Alex had been putting an increasing amount of pressure on herself, shouldering the responsibility of changing the DEO’s more morally repugnant methods whilst also making herself appear strong and in control to her superiors that were not keen for her to enact any changes to operations.
Kara sighed, letting go of her own frustrations as she gently reminded her sister, “If we had all the answers do you think we would have pulled you into the DEO for an emergency meeting on a Sunday?”
Alex dipped her head down and winced apologetically, “Sorry, I just… is it too much to ask for a weekend off just once?”
“Tell me about it, between L-Corp, dealing with Lex’s sentencing and supporting the DEO, it's a miracle I find time to sleep.” Lena said drolly as she walked up to the two sisters lingering on the outskirts of the lab.
Kara flinched, not at Lena’s sudden appearance but at what Lena had revealed so casually.
It wasn’t like Kara wasn’t aware of everything Lena had going on, it was just she hadn’t put together all the individual pieces to make up the overwhelming whole. Kara felt second-hand exhaustion and stress from just imagining everything Lena must have going on and the cherry on top, that felt like a punch to the gut, was that Lena was doing it all alone .
She knew Lena was in contact with Alex and Brainy, steadily rebuilding her friendship with the two of them but they weren’t looking after Lena. Not like Kara used to.
Kara was the person that made sure she would eat and rest in the past, but back then Lena had way less on her plate than she does now.
Now… who was looking after Lena?
Who did Lena have?
There was darkness under Lena’s eyes that no amount of make-up could hide and there was a minute tremor to Lena’s fingers that belied the strain she was currently under.
“Lena-” Kara began to murmur, her heart breaking.
“Brainy and I are looking into this,” Lena continued, blatantly ignoring Kara’s pained expression, choosing to focus on Alex instead, “we’re running diagnostics and I took some readings from my apartment before coming here. We are also looking for similarities between the samples Supergirl and I provided to see if there are any commonalities that could indicate exposure to any drugs or materials with the potential to cause shared hallucinations.” Lena looked between the two sisters, “We won’t have any answers for a while so please feel free to go home and get some rest.”
“Is there anything I can do?” Kara inquired, nearly pleaded.
“No.” Lena said definitively, “If we have any questions or an update, Brainy will call you.”
Kara winced at the clear implication that Lena would not be contacting her.
Alex shot Kara a sympathetic glance before saying gratefully to the CEO, “Thanks, Lena.”
“It’s no problem,” Lena assured, smiling warmly at Alex causing Kara’s stomach to twist uncomfortably, “if you leave now, you could still make it in time for brunch with Kelly.”
Alex positively beamed at the suggestion, already hurriedly walking backwards as she made her escape, yelling back at them before rounding the doorway and disappearing from sight, “Don’t hesitate to call and don’t stay too late.”
Alex’s departure was so sudden that it took Kara and Lena a few seconds to realise that it was now just the two of them. The second they did realise, the awkwardness surged forward to overshadow everything else.
“Supergirl.” Lena acknowledged with a dip of her head, on the precipice of returning to the lab.
“Lena, I…” Kara began, shaky and uncertain; there was so much she wanted to say but was too afraid to voice.
Lena arched an expectant eyebrow at her but didn’t make to leave.
“The younger you, she…” Kara muttered, “...said something about hiding after spilling milk? You… she… seemed scared.”
Lena pursed her lips and her green eyes went dark and defensive, “Didn’t you know? Luthors are villains and villains by nature are scary.”
Kara recoiled at the words and the sheer coldness of their delivery, “I wasn’t trying to-”
Lena instantly deflated, and cringed in shame as she whispered, “I know, that was uncalled for. I’m sorry.”
Lena kept her eyes trained on the floor whilst Kara froze, unsure what to say or do. She wanted to reach out and pull Lena into a hug, encourage her to go home and sleep - maybe fly the CEO there herself. She knew the best thing to do, considering how tentative their friendship (if you could even call it that) was, would be to accept the apology, move on and maybe suggest, in as friendly a way as she could, that Lena head home to rest in the next couple of hours.
Kara’s indecisiveness meant she picked neither option which was itself a choice. The moment to unpick some of the damage they had done to each other and rebuild what they had, passed them by like so many other small inconsequential moments had before it.
“I should get back to it.” Lena asserted, lifting her head back up determinedly before nodding a farewell to the blonde and returning to work alongside Brainy.
“See you later.” Kara called out after her, though she wasn’t convinced Lena heard her.
Kara didn't return home after leaving the DEO for a long time, choosing instead to go out on patrol as Supergirl, which had the added bonus of providing suitable justification for her to keep infrequent contact with Brainy and, by extension, Lena throughout the day. Kara knew she wasn't being subtle since even Brainy knew exactly what she was doing - so much so that after she had reported in as having saved her third cat from a tree (in the futile hope of tempting Lena to respond) Brainy had pretty much ordered her to go home and whispered, presumably when no one could hear, that he would ensure Lena went home at a reasonable hour and eat a proper meal. Brainy's assurance allowed Kara to slink back to her apartment with only a small huff but a large sum of guilt and jealousy because yet again someone else was stepping up to fill the role in Lena’s life that had once belonged solely to her.
Kara flopped onto her couch after a hot shower, putting a random YouTube video on in the background as she flicked open her current sketchbook. Kara refused to acknowledge how nearly every page featured images that could easily be related to the youngest Luthor; Kara worked almost exclusively with charcoal or pencil and there was practically no colour to any of her works… except for green.
Green had become a recurrent highlight to her work over the last few years.
Kara quickly turned to the next available blank page and instantly started making clear and familiar lines appear with a crisp flick of her wrist. When she started Kara didn't know what she was drawing, allowing instinct to drive her as she desired escaping from the world for a short time, but it was only a couple of minutes later that Kara recognised a sharp line to be the starting shape of Lena's jaw and a rounded edge to be a soft cheek.
Kara sighed, even when she was trying so hard not to think about Lena, she still managed to let the young CEO seep into her every thought and action. Finally admitting defeat, Kara sat up, intent on throwing aside her incomplete work and going out to save her fourth cat when she heard a timid cough nearby.
Kara tensed up and then relaxed almost immediately upon locating the source of the noise.
“You’re back…” Kara announced dumbly, as little Lena, who looked exactly the same age as this morning but was now dressed in a very prim and proper school uniform, shifted shyly from foot to foot next to Kara's kitchen counter.
“Sorry.” Lena murmured apologetically, hanging her head and seeming to retreat into herself.
“Oh no, it's fine. Don’t worry.” Kara rushed to reassure, “Did you get home safely?”
“Yep, thank you.” Lena replied with a shy smile as Kara gestured for her to come closer with one hand as she grabbed her phone with her other to send a quick text to Lena.
[KARA] You’re back
[KARA] Younger you, that is…
[KARA] if that wasn’t clear
Little Lena settled on the sofa with an adorable bounce and bright grin that made Kara beam in response, at the same time a text came through from present day Lena.
[LENA] You’re back too (younger you). Will see what data I can gather.
Trusting Lena to get whatever data she could, Kara figured she would try to get some information on her own in the meantime. Kara pocketed her phone and shuffled back to lean against the sofa's arm, knees to her chest causing little Lena to instantly mirror her position so that their toes were nearly touching.
“Do you know how you got home the last time?” Kara inquired with an accompanying tilt of her head.
“Not really…" Little Lena shrugged helplessly, her nose scrunching up as she struggled to explain, "it just… felt like the right time to go.”
“And how do you feel right now?” Kara prompted curiously.
“Like… I’m where I’m meant to be…” Lena murmured, blushing with embarrassment resulting in her quickly changing the subject with all the subterfuge that could be expected from a small child. “What were you doing?”
“Oh… uh…" Kara jolted, remembering that the television was still on and her art materials were still scattered haphazardly on the coffee table in front of her. "I was just sketching and watching tv.”
Lena's eyes immediately alighted on the open sketchbook and she scooted forward keenly before freezing, looking suddenly nervous as if waiting for Kara to yank her back and yell at her for just… acting like a kid. Kara's heart sank at this reaction and she swiftly snatched up the sketchbook, and shifted closer to the young girl, putting on an air of giddiness and excitement that transferred easily to the younger girl.
"Want to see?” Kara offered, lifting the book up and holding it out for little Lena.
Lena stared, wide-eyed, down at the book for a long time, her expression slowly transitioning away from awe to consist of exaggerated raised eyebrows, scrunched up nose and pursed lips. The little girl leaned back, maintaining her facade of confusion that was heavily undermined by a mischievous glint in her green eyes that Kara had never seen on grown-up Lena. “It just looks like a bunch of weird blobs.” Lena declared gleefully.
“For now!” Kara gasped melodramatically, “I haven’t finished yet.”
“I can tell…” Lena giggled.
“Oh, it’s on.” Kara announced, slowly placing her sketchbook to one side, her gaze narrowed and her expression contorting to one akin to a cartoonish villain that had little Lena inhaling sharply in equal parts childish terror and excitement. “Come here.” Kara yelled, diving towards the young girl but giving her plenty of time to make her escape. Kara landed face-first onto the sofa cushions producing a howl of elated laughter from the young girl who was dashing around the kitchen counter, hopping up and down in place as she waited for Kara to give chase.
Kara jumped up from the sofa and bounded after the little girl chasing her around the various pieces of furniture in the apartment, laughter accompanying their every move as Kara was always just a little bit too slow to catch the young girl. At one point, Kara attempted to perform a heroic leap over the back of the sofa but somehow managed to land face first yet again on the cushions, earning Kara her favourite sound in the whole world - Lena’s explosive snorting laugh that Kara had only heard once before during her entire friendship with the Luthor.
When Kara lifted her head up from the cushions, groaning heavily for dramatic effect she heard a stifled chuckle from behind the recently drawn curtains that were bulging noticeably as a small body tried futilely to remain still.
Kara bit her lip to keep back her own snort of laughter at the little girl’s antics, getting to her feet and stomping noisily around the apartment as she called out, “Lena, where are you? Where did you disappear to?” Out of the corner of her eye Kara could see Lena peering out from behind the edge of the curtain watching Kara’s failing search attempts. “Are you under here?” Kara questioned, getting down on her hands and knees to look under the sofa that no one could feasibly fit under. “Or here?” Kara opened up kitchen cupboards, huffing out disappointed breaths with every failure. “How about here?” Kara questioned bending over to check either side of the coffee table, pretending not to hear the sound of small feet racing towards her from behind.
“I’m here!” Little Lena bellowed, as she leaped onto Kara’s back, small arms wrapping around her neck to keep hold as Kara spun this way and that, looking for all intents and purposes like she was trying to get free.
“I’m under attack!” Kara shouted, waving her arms back and forth as she fell dramatically to her knees, “I’m going down… Help! Help!” Kara cried before flopping forward, expelling the air from her lungs in a single great woosh, “Ooof…”
“Victory!” Lena cheered, rolling off Kara to stand tall with her arms in the air like the champion she was.
“Surprise tickle attack!” Kara announced, seizing the opportunity to pull the little girl down with her and tickle her sides.
“Nooooo…” Little Lena giggled, “I give up, I give up…”
Kara did not relent her attack, “Admit that I am the greatest artist ever!”
“Okay! Okay!” Little Lena replied between happy laughs; Kara pulled back, lifting her hands up in the sign of surrender as Lena sat up, her giggles steadily receding whilst the spark of childish glee and mischief merely increased as she crossed her arms and decreed haughtily, “You’re the greatest blob drawer ever.”
Kara chuckled, shaking her head in amusement, remarking, “You’re pretty cheeky.”
The change that overcame the young girl was instantaneous. The spark in her green eyes extinguished immediately, and her entire small body stiffened and straightened up resembling the older Lena more in that single moment than she hand in any other as she whispered, “Sorry.”
Kara blinked, utterly taken aback by the transformation that she had just witnessed. “Sorry? Why are you sorry?”
Lena curled in on herself, pulling her knees tight to her chest to create a protective shell, “I shouldn’t have messed around… it's unbecoming.”
Unbecoming. That single word stank of Lillian Luthor.
Little Lena even said it with the exact intonation that Kara would expect Lillian to have derisively spat it at her adopted daughter all whilst backed up by Lena’s silent father who would never come to the young girl’s defence.
Kara forced herself to exhale deeply and unclench her fists which she had unwittingly curled until they were white-knuckled by her sides as pure, distilled anger pulsed through her veins as she was hit with image upon image of the Luthors grinding this young, wonderful girl down as much as possible until she lost that incredible spark in her eye that Kara thought made the whole world just that little bit brighter.
Kara hadn’t thought it was possible to hate the Luthors more than she already did.
Turns out she was wrong.
“Well,” Kara said slowly, forcing a tremulous smile onto her face as she shuffled closer to the young girl, wrapping a gentle arm around her small shoulders (Kara wasn’t sure if she was giving comfort to little Lena or seeking comfort for herself), “I don’t know about that… but I had fun… did you?”
Lena curled closer into Kara’s side, keeping her head down as she quietly admitted, “I don’t want to get in trouble again…”
Kara swallowed back her own fury and struggled against the sting of tears in her eyes, “You won’t, don’t worry.” Kara gently pulled the small child closer to herself, intent on being a physical shield to all the hurts yet to be inflicted on the girl that would become her best friend. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” Kara promised her voice firm and sincere as she beat back the voice in her head screaming ‘lies’ at her.
“That’s what Lex said.” Lena muttered, her tone becoming warmer and hopeful, breaking Kara’s heart even more than she thought possible.
“Lex looks out for you, huh?” Kara said, a slight croak to her voice.
“Yeah…” Lena replied before correcting with a regretful wince, “sometimes…”
“Only sometimes?” Kara checked, looking down at the little girl whose gaze had gone distant and far too introspective for one so young.
Lena merely shrugged in response.
Kara nodded to herself, her resolve hardening, as she rested her cheek atop Lena’s hair causing the little Luthor to rest against her in return, “Well, I’ll always look out for you.”
“Not just sometimes?” Lena questioned shyly.
“Not just sometimes. Always.” Kara promised.
She was withdrawn, quiet… serious .
It was one of the most bizarre experiences in Lena’s life and that was saying something considering she had survived an alien invasion that she had unwittingly helped facilitate and killed her brother who had then somehow managed to reset the universe with himself as the hero of the story. None of that, however, came close to the sheer weirdness of meeting her former best friend’s younger self.
A younger version that was so strikingly similar to the woman Lena knew yet also so fundamentally different.
The version of Kara that Lena had now been visited by on two separate occasions could not have been older than 12. Both times the young girl was dressed plainly, in what Lena assumed were the kryptonian robes associated with her house and her role in it: a long white dress with long sleeves complete with a simple ‘House of El’ symbol on the right hand side of her chest. Her skin was paler than it would be in the future and likewise her blonde hair wasn’t as golden as it currently was (more of a light brown). Lena had fleetingly wondered if the noticeable physical differences between past Kara and present Kara was due to the effect of the Earth’s sun or simply due to puberty and age.
It wasn’t Kara’s outward appearance, however, that had caused such alarm and confusion in Lena Luthor, it was her personality, her very demeanour.
It was so strikingly different to the Kara that Lena currently knew (or at least thought she knew) that she had no idea how to approach this version of Kara.
This version of Kara was serious, not as prone to laughter, physical touch or even the most common of emotional reactions. She rarely spoke and there were long pauses in their conversations as Kara took her time in carefully selecting her words; you would never think she was capable of being brash or of rambling away without a care in the world.
Their first interaction had been filled with confusion and fear.
Kara had appeared in Lena’s living room in a blink of an eye, Lena had looked down at her laptop for a second and when she looked back up, there stood the pre-teen version of Supergirl sinking to her knees with her hands tightly pressed over her ears as the sounds, brightness and smells of Earth overwhelmed her newly enhanced senses.
Lena had known the second she had laid eyes on the twelve-year old that she was without a doubt Kara Zor-El and had then proceeded to react emotionally, logic flinging itself out the window at the sight of Kara in pain as it always did and would always do. She was by the young girl’s side faster than many would consider humanly possible, scrambling with her phone which controlled the shutters on the windows of her penthouse apartment. The shutters sliding closed reduced the noise and visual stimuli overwhelming the young girl, allowing Lena to place a gentle, grounding hand on Kara’s shoulder to give her something to focus on.
At first Lena murmured reassurances in english, promising to help and keep her safe, she quickly realised that her words were having little to no impact and switched to kryptonese which had the young girl looking up at her with bright, hopeful, blue eyes. Young Kara didn’t say anything to her in that first meeting, remaining silent and just listening to Lena’s soft words and assurances of help. She explained everything she was going to do before she did it so that Kara wouldn’t be taken by surprise by any new stimulus. She also told Kara where she was (on Earth) and who she was, she first introduced herself as a businesswoman then a scientist, the latter of which seemed to make Kara perk up noticeably.
Once she was sure that Kara was stable and at least somewhat comfortable in her presence, she had stepped away, explaining that she needed to call her friend to help them. It was part way through her call with (older) Kara that Lena realised young Kara had vanished.
The second time young Kara appeared, Lena had just gotten back to her apartment after having come up with nothing at the DEO labs and after nearly collapsing from exhaustion, prompting Brainy to forcibly kick her out of the base and into a car home.
Young Kara had been standing by the windows looking out at the skyline, watching the setting sun with an expression of utter awe and wonder on her face.
Lena had approached slowly, not wanting to scare the young girl or destroy whatever happy thoughts were so clearly running through her mind.
“Hello again.” Lena greeted, in Kryptonese, coming to stand beside young Kara.
“Lena Luthor.” Kara replied, saying Lena’s name slowly as if testing the words out in her mouth to see how they sounded. Lena’s chest tightened at hearing how young Kara sounded despite trying to act far older than her years.
“Kara Zor-El.” Lena shot back with an amused smile.
“Thank you for helping me last time I was here.” Kara said stiffly.
“No thanks necessary.” Lena assured, dismissing the gratitude with a wave of a hand; she had never learnt how to receive gratitude so on the rare occasions it was thrown her way, Lena ducked it and shoved it into the corner assuming that it was disingenuous or would be taken back only a handful of minutes later.
Kara frowned at that, her lips pursing tightly with the obvious desire to argue but she held back. “Have you figured out why I’m here?”
“I’m working on it.” Lena sighed, rubbing her temples, the pounding ache in her head from exhaustion threatening to overwhelm her as she struggled to find answers to all the questions being thrown at her. “Where did you go when you disappeared from here?”
The young girl pursed her lips thoughtfully, “Home, I think…”
“You think?” Lena questioned, arching an eyebrow at Kara’s profile.
Kara pressed a hand to the window and bowed her head allowing her hair to fall forward, creating a curtain as she muttered, “I’m not sure this is real… that I’m really here…”
A thousand questions rose to the surface at that revelation, leading to Lena kneeling down so that she could catch a glimpse of Kara’s hidden blue eyes, “Why do you think that?”
Kara stayed silent, refusing to acknowledge the question and causing Lena’s heart to squeeze painfully.
Lena had come to associate any silences, long pauses and cut off words when speaking to Kara with the distance between them, the pain they had both inflicted and didn’t know how to take back. It reminded her far too much of turning up at Kara’s apartment after realising how far into the shadows she had fallen and having to face Kara’s stony, unwelcoming silence.
Lena had assumed since that moment and a handful of others that Kara used silence to show anger and disappointment.
After witnessing this young girl, who had been thrown onto a planet she knew nothing of, with no control or understanding of the circumstances, regularly fall silent… Lena realised that Kara had never been using silence to show anger or disappointment… silence was her defence mechanism. She was falling back on her childhood responses to uncertainty.
Kara fell silent when she was scared .
Lena swallowed back the tears that came flooding in as her interactions with Kara over the last year became painfully clear. Kara wasn’t angry with her… not really… she was scared.
Of Lena? Unlikely - Kara had never hesitated to put her life in Lena’s hands even when they were at their lowest point.
Then what was Kara afraid of?
Lena knew what she, personally, was afraid of when it came to Kara.
Of letting Kara in just to be hurt again.
Of reaching out to bridge the gap just to be rejected.
Simply put, Lena was scared of getting her heartbroken all over again.
Could… could Kara be scared for the same reason?
“It’s so green.” Young Kara breathed out, successfully pulling Lena out of her spiralling thoughts.
Lena hurriedly wiped the tears threatening to fall from her eyes and looked out the window to see what Kara was referring to, “Oh, they’re trees and the area they're in is a park, but that’s nothing. Get out of the city and there’s so much more.” Lena revealed, shooting the kryptonian a warm, teasing smile.
Excited blue eyes finally met Lena’s green ones, Kara’s whole expression lighting up, “Really?”
“Really.” Lena affirmed, before tilting her head to the side curiously, “Don’t you have trees or plants on Krypton?”
The flicker of joy vanished and Kara returned to her far more somber disposition, “Not really. Not anymore.”
The sudden loss of warmth from the young girl had Lena reaching out and tentatively touching her elbow, “Are you okay?”
Kara’s brow furrowed in confusion at the question, “I don’t understand.”
“Are you… umm… hungry? Thirsty? Comfortable? Want space? Have questions?” Lena listed off encouragingly.
“I’m fine.” Kara replied, shifting away from Lena’s gentle touch and crossing her arms protectively.
“Right…” Lena murmured acceptingly, though she felt a sting of hurt at Kara’s abrupt shutdown and a stab of fear that she had done something wrong.
Lena got to her feet and went to check her phone, hoping that giving younger Kara space was what she wanted. There was a text that had just come through from Kara revealing that Lena’s younger version had reappeared as well. She typed out a hasty reply before grabbing her tablet and getting it to run a few scans of the apartment for anything out of the ordinary. She watched the results come in for a few minutes and adjusted some of the tests before turning back to check on young Kara, who was still standing in the exact same spot in front of the window.
“You know you don’t have to stand there?” Lena called out softly causing Kara to glance shyly over her shoulder at her, “You are more than welcome to sit down. Make yourself at home.”
Kara’s cheeks blushed bright pink as she muttered equal parts sad and shy, “You are… very kind.”
Lena quirked her head to the side at the girl’s odd tone, “Thank you?”
There was a long pause that followed before Kara hung her head, her body caving forward, as she whispered, “I… I broke something…”
Lena was at the young girl’s side in an instant, placing a hand on her back comfortingly, worried that the girl was hurt in some way, “What?”
“Before you arrived, it was loud and I…” Kara’s jaw clenched and she shut her eyes tightly to keep back the tears before she walked timidly over to Lena’s stereo system in the corner of the room.
Lena followed her and inspected the object presented to her. The entire front of it was cracked looking, for all intents and purposes, like someone had taken a sledgehammer to it.
“I didn’t mean to.” Kara breathed, her voice catching on the edge of a sob that she was struggling to suppress, “I just touched it and… and…” The young girl was staring down at her own hands that were trembling terribly, with an expression of fear, disgust and horror all merged into one.
The way that Kara looked at her own hands would haunt Lena for the rest of her life. It would be forever etched into her mind’s eye, torturing her with the image of how repulsed Kara was with herself.
“Oh, that’s okay.” Lena soothed, moving to block the view of the stereo and sinking to her knees again as she tenderly placed her hands on top of Kara’s shaking ones. “It was an accident. I can fix it, don’t worry.” Lena promised. “You did nothing wrong, okay? Nothing.” Lena squeezed Kara’s hands that hadn’t so much as flexed under her touch. “Why don’t you sit down and relax? You’re safe here.”
Lena wanted to reach up and wipe away the tears that had started to fall from Kara’s sapphire blue eyes, but she didn’t want to overstep, especially since this version of Kara didn’t know her and was very wary of physical touch.
“I think I should stand…” Kara replied, shaking her head fiercely as she confessed, “I don’t want to break anything else.” Slowly, so slowly, Kara pulled her hands away from Lena’s as she whispered, “I don’t want to hurt you .”
“Oh…” Lena breathed out, her hands falling to her sides as she felt so utterly useless . “Would it help if I closed the shutters again?” Lena offered, thinking that Kara might feel more confident with her strength regulation if she wasn’t as affected by her enhanced vision and hearing.
Kara sniffed, her gaze lifting from the floor to stare out the window, the rays of the sun still shining bright as it approached its final descent to the horizon, “Yes… but...”
“But…?” Lena prompted; in that moment she would do anything for this lost girl, anything to make her never look at her own hands that way ever again.
“Can I look at the park for a bit longer?” Kara asked shyly, her cheeks burning a bright red upon voicing the request.
“Of course.” Lena assured, “Is there anything else I can do?”
Kara cleared her throat nervously as she glanced at Lena, her cheeks turning an even deeper red than Lena thought possible, “Can you stay nearby? I feel…” Kara swallowed thickly, “I feel safe when I’m with you.”
“Safe?” Lena repeated, surprised by the choice descriptor.
“From myself…” Kara clarified with a sad smile.
“Please tell me we know what’s going on…” Kara asked as she strolled into the DEO labs that same Sunday evening. Little Lena had disappeared when Kara had left her side to go get them both a glass of water, leaving Kara with a hurting heart and sharp longing to see her (former) best friend that she indulged without hesitation, switching to her super suit and shooting off into the sky.
She arrived to find Brainy and Alex awaiting her, with equal looks of trepidation on their faces that swiftly dashed Kara’s hopes for an easy fix.
“We know what’s going on…” Alex mumbled, sharing an apprehensive look with Brainy.
“You say that like I’m not going to like it.” Kara sighed, crossing her arms over her chest and trying to make her subtle sweep of the area to locate Lena as casual as possible, “Can we stop it?”
Alex and Brainy both replied at the same time.
Kara’s eyes widened, “How can you both be giving me two different answers?”
“It’s probably best that we just let her watch it for herself.” Lena stated upon gliding, as elegantly as ever, into the lab from directly behind Kara.
Kara whirled round in an instant causing Lena to jolt backwards in surprise, her green eyes wary but scrutinising in a soft way, as if she was gently looking Kara over for something familiar. Kara blushed under the CEO’s stare and barely resisted the strong urge to reach out for the raven-haired woman.
“Watch what?” Kara eventually managed to ask upon remembering how to form a coherent question.
Lena and Brainy immediately looked over to Alex, non-verbally offering her up as sacrifice; Alex heaved out an aggrieved breath and rolled her eyes before grabbing Kara’s arm and dragging her to a nearby computer screen displaying an image of Liorna seated in the pilot seat of her spaceship. Alex handed Kara a set of headphones and tapped the space bar causing the paused video to start playing.
“Greetings, Kara Zor-El and Lena Luthor.” Liorna started, settling her double jointed forearms into her lap as she smiled warmly through the recording. “There is no way I can even begin to express my gratitude for your actions. Kara, you saved my life when there appeared to be no hope. And Lena, you made it possible for me to go home.” Liorna tilted her head to the side and said solemnly, “You both deserve good things in your lives but I have no riches to offer and only one skill set to my name, but I believe that this might provide the perfect way to show my appreciation.”
Understanding started to blossom within Kara and she felt a weird mix of hope and dread swirl in the pit of her stomach as she continued to watch the video.
“There is a rift in your relationship. A rift that both of you created.” Liorna said sadly causing Kara’s head to hang in shame, “A rift that both of you wish to close.”
Now that had Kara perking back up. ‘Both’ meant that Lena felt the same way she did, that Kara wasn’t the only one that missed her best friend but didn’t know how to voice it and move them back towards what they once were.
“It is clear how much you care for one another, how much you mean to one another and if I can help you return to each other’s lives then… well, that would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?” Liorna asked, though her white eyes blinked knowingly.
Kara bit her lip to prevent herself from voicing her whole-hearted agreement.
“The rift between the two of you has remained simply due to a lack of understanding and has been further compounded by a lack of communication.” Liorna explained, “This is how I can help. How I will help.” Liorna’s gaze narrowed as she ordered, “Listen to what each other has to say. The understanding you seek will come and the process will end. Thank you again for your kindness and I hope this brings you all the joy you both thoroughly deserve.” Liorna beamed at Kara through the screen once again before the image darkened as the video finished.
Kara rewatched the video two more times before she removed the headphones and made her way back to Alex who was talking quietly with Lena nearby; Brainy having clearly headed home for the evening after being in the lab all day.
“So…” Kara murmured as she approached, eyeing Lena nervously.
“So…” Lena repeated, keeping her expression blank in return.
Kara shuffled closer to the raven-haired woman, wringing her hands together as she asked soft and sincere. “Are you okay?”
Lena blinked rapidly in surprise, probably having not expected the question nor the genuineness behind it.
“I… I… I’m fine, you?” Lena stuttered momentarily, her cool composure of detachment slipping to give Kara a glimpse of the woman Kara cared for so deeply.
“Fine.” Kara responded in kind, smiling small and shy at the other woman.
“Right…” Alex drawled with an expression that was the facial equivalent of ‘that was awkward as fuck’; reminding Kara and Lena with a sudden jolt of her presence. “What’s the plan? What do you two want to do?” Kara and Lena broke eye contact, as Alex asked the million dollar question, “Do we try and stop this spontaneous therapy session or… ?”
Kara cleared her throat uncomfortably as she admitted, “I don’t think we can stop it… There’s a reason why you only call in a Feislan as a last resort or if you were totally committed to fixing the problem. I genuinely don’t think there is a way to stop it other than-”
“Finishing it.” Lena supplied, her tone cold and her expression closed off again.
“Yeah.” Kara breathed out apologetically.
Lena rolled her eyes derisively as she declared, “Then let's complete this pointless exercise as quickly as possible.”
“Don’t quite think that’s the right frame of mind for this.” Kara mumbled, earning her a particularly withering glare from the youngest Luthor that had her rapidly course correcting and putting on a positive spin, “But I’m loving the enthusiasm! See? We’re already making progress.”
“Progress to what, though?” Alex questioned keeping them on topic for which Kara was eternally grateful for since it prevented her from spiralling into a rambling awkward mess. “What is it you both need to understand?”
“If we knew that, we wouldn’t need to be visited by our younger selves.” Lena rationalised.
“Have your younger versions revealed anything?” Alex inquired, looking curiously between the two of them, “What did you talk about with them when you saw them earlier?”
Kara blushed with embarrassment and rubbed the back of her neck ruefully, “Well, I… we… were just being silly… playing around…”
“Nothing much.” Lena asserted quick and decisively which merely made Kara and Alex arch an eyebrow at her. Lena shook her head before adding, “She’s struggling with her powers, this is her first time on Earth under a yellow sun.”
“Wait…” Alex cut in, holding up a hand, “you have a version of Kara from before she came to Earth?”
Lena crossed her arms defensively, “Yes…?”
“How are you two talking, then?” Alex pushed, her brow furrowed in confusion, “Kara didn’t know English back then.”
Lena shrugged, “Good thing I speak Kryptonese then.”
“What?!” Kara squawked, her jaw dropping at this sudden revelation that she didn’t know what to do with and couldn’t understand how she was only just finding out about. “You speak… I didn’t… I don’t understand.”
“It’s irrelevant.” Lena dismissed sharply.
“But…” Kara gasped, her arms gesturing wildly as she struggled to form anything coherent.
“What am I saying?” Lena scoffed, shaking her head in defeat as she laughed darkly to herself, “Of course, it's not irrelevant, I’m a Luthor.” Lena looked between the two Danvers sadly and said, “I didn’t learn it for malevolent reasons, I swear.”
Kara’s heart cracked at the defeated, haunted expression on the Luthor’s face, “Lena, that’s not-”
“I started to learn it when I decided to move to National City - Lex had made enough notes on the language that I felt confident I could teach myself.” Lena explained clinically, her gaze so distant she couldn’t see how desperate Kara was to tell her this wasn’t necessary, that Lena didn’t owe Kara an explanation. “I wanted to… I wanted to show Supergirl I was a friend and thought… I thought since she was one of the last of her kind, she might…”
Lena’s green eyes met blue and there was a flash of deep understanding, of a connection that they hadn’t had since Lena found out about Supergirl. Lena blinked and that flash of familiarity vanished, leaving Kara to feel lost all over again in a way that she hadn’t felt since she was thirteen.
“I don’t know… I guess I thought it would be a nice thing to do for her.” Lena continued, with a casual shrug in complete opposition to the dedication and kindness that had motivated her to learn Kara’s language. “Anyway I didn’t want to reveal what I was learning until I was confident that I was fluent - I’m too much of a perfectionist as you both know - and I wasn’t until a couple of years ago.”
Kara swallowed thickly, her heart hammering painfully in her chest as she whispered the only question on her mind, “Then why didn’t you-”
Lena’s jaw clenched and her nostrils flared, “Reign happened and Supergirl made it very clear that I was not to be trusted. I didn’t see the point in bringing it up after that.” Kara felt like she had been winded, and her throat felt so tight that no words could escape even if she had some on hand. Lena pursed her lips, straightened her jacket and turned on her heel, “If you’ll excuse me, I should probably get back to L-Corp.”
Lena must have re-watched the video from Liorna close to a hundred times now. It was three days later and Lena was constantly tense, awaiting young Kara’s next visitation and uncertain whether she was excited to see her again or simply dreading it. She liked young Kara, she was sweet, curious yet constantly trying not to show off these attributes.
Lena knew Krypton valued science, structure and duty but seeing the impact this rigidity had on a young person was shocking. Seeing Kara hold back or hide her smile that Lena was convinced was the single greatest wonder of the universe just felt wrong .
But Lena couldn’t judge too harshly. Firstly she didn’t have a full understanding of Krypton’s culture and the many benefits it brought and how it shaped Kara for the better and secondly, she was raised by the Luthors… what the fuck did she know about a good environment for a child?
Lena had been at work since six that morning, like she had every morning since she had reclaimed her position as CEO following Lex’s fall to disgrace and subsequent incarceration. The last few months had felt like constant deja-vu: re-branding LuthorCorp back to L-Corp, ousting Lex’s supporters where she could and wrangling the board back under her control all whilst watching her mother to see which way her loyalty would fall when it came to her children. Whilst Lena had a cheat-sheet in some respects, having carried out these business decisions in a different universe, she was now doing this all on her own.
Last time, she’d had Sam and Jack in her corner right up to her move to National City and then she had had Kara. This time round, it was just her. Jack was still dead in this universe and Lena had no intention of disrupting Sam from her settled life considering everything she had been through. Alex was supportive but between her flourishing relationship with Kelly, her loyalty to Kara and her role as DEO director, Lena tended to fall by the wayside. Similarly, Brainy (now free of Lex) was intent on rebuilding his own life, re-earning his reputation with the DEO and re-connecting with Nia.
And Kara? Well, Lena was more than aware that Kara didn’t want anything more to do with her if she went solely off the hard evidence presented to herself.
Yes, Kara invited her to games night every week, but the invitation was given more as an obligation and there was never any enthusiasm behind it. Likewise, Kara hadn’t even tried to spend time with her, just the two of them, and hadn’t stopped by L-Corp even once in the months since stopping Lex. Kara may want to remove the awkwardness between them but did she actually want Lena back in her life or was Lena just fooling herself? Hoping for something that would just never be.
The knock at the door caused Lena to jolt in her seat and nearly push a towering stack of papers over. The knock was surprising because… no one knocked on Lena’s office door. At least not anymore. Her new secretary always used the intercom and on the occasions where her security was needed… Let's just say they knew better than to waste time with knocking.
“Hello?” Lena called out in response.
The door opened a fraction and in the crack appeared a shy blonde haired reporter who was quite possibly the last person Lena had expected to see at that exact moment.
“Kara? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?” Lena questioned jumping to her feet, assuming that if Kara had come to visit her something was wrong that required her technical expertise.
“Oh nothing’s wrong.” Kara rushed to reassure, “We were just nearby and I thought that… I wanted to make sure that you…” Kara huffed out a breath adorably causing a strand of blonde hair to flick upwards and remain resolutely upright for a number of seconds. “I wanted to make sure you had had something to eat for lunch… like old times…”
“Oh… it’s lunchtime?” Lena asked, struck dumb by Kara’s appearance and words.
Kara rolled her eyes at the answer in a way that was so familiar to their previous routine that Lena felt her breath stutter in her lungs. “Way past lunchtime. Good thing we baked cupcakes this morning.”
Lena’s brow furrowed, “We?”
Kara pushed the door open and stepped inside the office accompanied by a small dark-haired girl, keeping close to Kara like a second shadow, holding her hand and regularly looking up to her for comfort and security.
“I hope you don’t mind, she appeared this morning and…” Kara rushed to explain all in one breath but Lena didn’t really hear any of it.
Her attention was fixated on the little girl holding Kara’s hand. Specifically the brown bear held close to the little girl’s body.
“I’m sorry, this clearly wasn’t a good idea…”
It was only when Kara had stopped talking that Lena registered the world around her and the shock started to wear off. Kara’s expression was pained and her blue eyes were wide and apologetic. “No, it’s fine… I just… it’s fine.” Lena reassured, smiling weakly at her younger self who merely shuffled to hide behind Kara at the action.
“We can go?” Kara offered.
Lena exhaled and forced a wider smile, “I thought you had cupcakes for me?”
Kara beamed at that, “Yes, we do! Don’t we, Lil Lena?”
Little Lena nodded minutely, keeping her eyes trained on Lena.
“Lil Lena? Really?” Lena chuckled.
Kara pouted, “Well, I can’t call you both Lena that would be confusing…”
“She knows who I am?” Lena questioned, taken aback.
“Ummm… yeah?” Kara answered with a wince, moving to rub the back of her neck but realising that she had no hands free (one linked to Lil Lena and the other holding the container of cupcakes). “I… I didn’t want to lie to her...” Kara admitted, the again echoing throughout the room without being spoken.
“I understand.” Lena said, her tone neutral, before making her way over to the sofa that hadn’t been used for a long time. Kara and Lil Lena followed behind, sitting closely together on the other end. Kara opened up the box and handed it to Lena for her to pick one for herself. The cupcakes were messy and decorated far too haphazardly to be done by Kara’s artistic hand. “Thank you, these look delicious.”
Kara smiled warmly at the compliment but Lil Lena remained blank-faced and wary, her green eyes sharp and assessing as she clung tightly to Winnie.
“You look like her.” Lil Lena whispered just as Lena was on the precipice of taking a bite of her cupcake.
“Like who?” Lena prompted, glancing warily over at Kara who was watching the interaction between the two Lena’s closely.
Lil Lena’s green eyes dimmed, “Like Mummy…”
Lena’s breath caught in her throat, it was like the whole word went still, “I do?”
Lil Lena nodded once firm and fervent even as she frowned deeply upon realising the truth of what Lena’s question revealed, “You don’t remember her…”
“I…” Lena hesitated: she considered lying but knew that even if she managed to fool Kara, she wouldn’t stand a chance against her younger self; with a deep sigh Lena answered truthfully. “Not really. No.”
“Oh…” Lil Lena’s expression turned downcast causing Kara to wrap an arm around the girl and pull her into her side for comfort.
Lena’s stomach twisted at the sight of Kara so freely caring for her younger self and how Lil Lena turned towards the affection without hesitation.
“Do you like my office?” Lena inquired, hoping to distract the little girl by changing the subject, “Our office?”
Lil Lena’s nose scrunched up as her eyes roamed the office space, “It’s okay… I guess…”
“You guess?” Lena teased, trying to inject some cheer into her voice earning her crinkly blue eyes that made her feel like her attempts were appreciated by at least one person.
“It’s not very colourful.” Lil Lena remarked with a shrug before she mumbled almost inaudibly, “It reminds me of Father’s office.”
Lena flinched at that and the truth of it, “I can see that…” Lena sighed heavily and set her still untouched cupcake down on the table before she folded her hands in her lap, meeting Lil Lena’s scrutinising gaze head on as she stated, “You don’t like me very much, do you?”
Kara gasped in shock and rushed to deny Lena’s critical assessment. “That’s not true.”
“Of course it is.” Lena laughed, “ I would know.”
“But-” Kara spluttered, at the same time as Lena got to her feet.
“Kara, can I speak to you privately?” Lena requested, gesturing to the corner of the room where hushed voices wouldn’t be easily overheard by her younger self. Kara stood up, but not before giving Lil Lena a comforting squeeze and a promise to be back soon.
“Lena, I know it's weird but-” Kara began once they were far enough away, adjusting her glasses anxiously.
“She shouldn’t see me again.” Lena cut in, the words sharp but her tone gentle.
Kara’s jaw dropped at the blunt statement, blue eyes wide with confusion, she shook her head once and inhaled sharply.
Lena knew what was coming next. It hadn’t happened in a while, but Lena recognised all the signs. The sympathetic expression on Kara’s face, the softness of her gaze and the determined lift of her chin. Kara was on the precipice of giving Lena a variant of the ‘you are a brilliant, kind-hearted and beautiful soul’ speech. And whilst Lena ached to hear those words from Kara after all this time, she didn’t want them like this. Not when she felt so excessively unworthy of them.
“Lena-” Kara started, only to be stopped by Lena reaching out to squeeze her hand. The tender contact after months of nothing was like a shock to both their systems. Kara’s breath audibly caught and Lena couldn’t pull her eyes away from the sight of their hands linked together. Kara’s warm skin immediately serving as a balm on the wound that seeing her younger self had opened.
“No, Kara, you don’t understand, I’m not… at that age… I wasn’t a Luthor yet.” Lena whispered, her voice coming out raw and croaky; just the smallest contact with Kara’s warm skin making Lena’s defences lower. “I scare her, Kara. Don’t you see that I’m a Luthor wearing her mother’s face?” Lena finally dragged her eyes away from their joined hands and looked up to meet heartbroken blue eyes, glittering with understanding, “And… if….” Lena shook her head, dismissing her thoughts, choosing to instead (just this once) ask for what she wanted, “Just… Please don’t make me grow up any faster than I had to, save me from that.”
Kara sniffed silently, squeezing Lena’s hand back and stroking her thumb over her knuckles as she nodded her commitment. “I… okay… okay…”
Lena smiled gratefully at the blonde, glancing down at their joined hands one last time before pulling away and stepping into the shadows of her office. Kara’s hand flexed in the empty space given to it before she straightened up, putting on a cheerful smile and turning back to face the little girl who had just finished off her own cupcake.
“Lil Lena, it’s time to go.” Kara called out, sweeping forward to offer a hand to Lil Lena who accepted it immediately, “I’m afraid to say you are a very important person in the future and you have to get back to saving the world.”
Lena scoffed in amusement at that, “Kara, that’s not-”
“It is.” Kara shot back sharply, her tone shifting away from playful to serious as she looked back at Lena with apologetic blue eyes. “It is true. I’m sorry I don’t say it enough.”
Lena merely gaped at her, shocked to silence by the sincerity and certainty of Kara’s declaration. Kara smiled at her once more before she and Lil Lena made to leave. It was as the two of them reached the door that Lena noticed that whilst eating her cupcake Lil Lena had put Winnie to one side and forgotten to pick him back up again.
Lena rushed to grab the teddy bear, calling out after the pair, “Wait! You forgot Winnie.”
The blonde and raven-haired girl stopped and turned back around. Lil Lena glanced between Lena and Kara looking for guidance, before she pursed her lips defiantly. The little girl let go of Kara’s hand and walked carefully towards Lena, who bent down to hold out the teddy bear to her. When Lil Lena’s fingers curled around the mottled fur of the bear, Lena told her, “Look after him, please.”
Lil Lena nodded and Lena let go of the bear. The younger version of herself hesitated, looking her over with a critical eye. Lena barely resisted the urge to fidget, feeling exposed and vulnerable under the gaze of her own green eyes.
“You don’t have him anymore, do you?” Lil Lena guessed as she pulled the bear tight against her chest. “Winnie, that is.”
Lena pursed her lips, “No, I don’t.”
Lil Lena stared up at her with curious green eyes, “Why?”
Lena flapped her hand in a dismissive gesture trying to appear casual and nonchalant, “Oh, you know, I outgrew it and lost it.”
Lil Lena's entire face became pinched at the answer, casting a gaze over her shoulder at Kara, who was watching and listening to the entire interaction, as if searching for support in her frustration with Lena’s answer. “That doesn’t make any sense, they’re two different things.” Lil Lena pointed out, “Did you outgrow Winnie or did you lose him?”
“They’re not two different things.” Lena whispered, wrapping her arms tightly around herself and pretending, like she used to do when she was only a year older than Lil Lena was now, that she still had Winnie, the last thing her Mum gave her before she died, in her arms, “I just wasn’t the one to decide that I had outgrown him.”
Kara had seen little Lena nearly everyday for a week.
Kara’s days had become filled with silly games, giggles and being utterly carefree. All things she had never seen present day Lena indulge in.
There were stark similarities between the two despite this. Little Lena would go stiff and her green eyes wary whenever she felt she had done something wrong and her entire body would tense up as if awaiting some vicious reprisal. Kara had seen older Lena do the exact same thing whenever confronted with something she wasn’t entirely certain her wits would be enough to help her escape from.
They both smiled the same, their green eyes lighting up and shining with joy but the difference was little Lena’s smile would widen impossibly further and her joy would continue to increase in its intensity. Current Lena, however, limited her joy. Her smile would extend to a certain width but no further. Her laughs would never turn into snorts and giggles. And she never, ever bounced up and down on the tips of her toes as little Lena nearly always did.
It was like Lena had been taught to hide her joy,
Or someone had enforced certain limits on her own happiness and Lena no longer knew how to go beyond a certain point anymore.
Kara had known that the Luthors had had a significant impact on who Lena was today. She had heard the stories but that had not prepared her for seeing it in person.
Seeing the before and the after.
Rao, Kara hated the Luthors for what they had taken and destroyed within the purest, kindest and sweetest child Kara had ever met.
“I like this place.” Little Lena grinned up at Kara as they stood in the queue at Noonan’s after Kara had taken little Lena to see the sights of National City.
“Me too.” Kara replied, keeping a protective arm around the little girl. “I like the smell of vanilla.” Kara revealed with a secretive whisper earning her an adorable giggle as they approached the front of the line. “Vanilla Latte and a hot chocolate, please.” Kara requested, paying quickly before grabbing them a table nearby. Whilst they waited for their drinks to be made, little Lena filled the silence with an animated ramble about her favourite things she saw at the science museum that afternoon.
Kara listened attentively, having never seen Lena this eager and unfiltered. In all the conversations Kara had shared with Lena during even the best times of their friendship, Lena would never babble away, she would always, always assume that Kara would get bored and that no one really wanted to hear about her day or life or interests or anything.
Kara wondered how many times the Luthors had cut Lena off when she started talking. How many times they told her to shut up when she had shown even the slightest enthusiasm about something.
Once their drinks were ready, Kara picked them up and brought them back to the table, setting the hot chocolate down in front of the little girl, who beamed at the marshmallows and whipped cream.
“Thank you.” Lena said; small grabby hands reaching for the drink almost immediately.
“Don’t drink it too quickly, it’s very hot.” Kara warned, causing the little girl to nod and slow down, taking very careful sips.
“I won’t.” Lena promised.
The two of them fell quiet as they sipped their drinks, their gazes flickering over to the television screen showing the National City News, which had just started to recap L-Corp’s most recent announcement of moving away from weapons to renewable energy. CEO Lena took up the whole screen speaking confidently about the new technologies they were looking into and reinforcing her desire to make her company a force for good.
Kara smiled dreamily as she watched her friend at her finest, little Lena looking furtively between Kara’s expression and the television with an assessing gaze.
“Look it’s that Luthor bitch again.” The crude assertion wasn’t whispered, it was said easily and comfortably right in the middle of the coffee shop. Two men were standing by the counter, waiting for their drinks to be ready and watching the screen with disgusted expressions on their face.
“God, don’t make me look.” The other man spat, rolling his eyes aggressively. “She’s hot, I’ll give her that but they should have thrown her in the darkest fucking cell they could find alongside her brother.”
Kara winced and glanced at little Lena who had gone absolutely still, her gaze focused on the television but clearly listening to the men’s conversation.
“I don’t know how they can let her just walk free. She’s a Luthor, she’s just as demented as the rest of them.” The first man declared, earning him a grunt of approval from his companion.
Kara gritted her teeth, the cup in her hands cracking slightly in her grasp forcing her to pull her hands into her lap so that she could safely curl them into fists.
“Even if she wasn’t involved - which I really fucking doubt by the way - she’s just going to go the same way as her father and brother.” The second man said neutrally as if he was merely giving his opinion on a random part of the news or a character in a film. “Burn the bitch now and save us all the fucking trouble in the future.” The man finished with a shrug as if it was the simplest and most obvious solution.
“Couldn’t agree more.” The original man chuckled as their drinks were set in front of them. They both smiled warmly at the server and tipped well, earning them earnest thanks from the Noonan’s employee before they turned to leave, picking their conversation back up with ease, “She’ll fall like the rest of them, just you wait.”
Kara waited for the door to swing shut behind the two men before looking over at the little girl, who was staring down at the table, her hot chocolate abandoned and pushed to one side.
Kara sighed, trying to let go of the tension in her body alongside the expulsion of air, “I’m sorry you had to hear that.”
“I don’t… I don’t understand…” Lena whispered, lifting her head to reveal a furrowed brow and watery green eyes, “What… what did I do wrong?” Lena’s voice was weak, and pained, “Did I do bad things?”
“No!” Kara replied, her volume rising so sharply it caused a number of heads to turn towards them. Kara immediately shuffled her chair closer to Lena and wrapped an arm around her, bending her head down so that Lena could see the earnestness in her blue eyes. “No, you haven’t.” Kara said firm and clear, “I meant what I said, you are a hero, Lena. You save the world everyday.”
“But that can’t be true!” Lena rejected, her green eyes turning fiery and a harsh frown twisting her small mouth.
“Of course it is!” Kara assured, reaching out for Lena’s hand only for the little girl to snatch it away and shift away from Kara.
Instantly, Kara was flashing back to the theatre where she had been given her Pulitzer, seeing the swirl of hurt, confusion and simmering anger on Lena’s face when she finally told her the truth about who she was. Kara felt dazed and winded as the young girl looked at her the exact same way Lena had before she had walked away from Kara, shattering their friendship seemingly beyond repair.
“NO! Because everyone hates me.” Little Lena declared, banging a small fist on the table. “They think I should be punished. I must be the bad guy.”
Kara raised her hands and tried to keep her voice steady and soothing even as her heart broke in her chest, “Lena, you have not done anything wrong. They… it’s…” Kara hesitated but she had made the decision to be honest with the little Luthor and she didn’t want to renege on that, “people in your family have done bad things and some people think that means you might too. But that’s wrong and stupid and-” Kara rambled trying to help Lena see, understand but… but… the words just wouldn’t come.
“Unfair.” Lena stated coldly, the emotion disappearing to be replaced with something empty and hollow, “That’s what it is. It’s unfair.”
“Yeah, it’s unfair…” Kara agreed quickly, “they shouldn’t have done it. You didn’t deserve that.”
Little Lena pursed her lips at that, her green eyes hardening as she whispered definitively, “I must have deserved it…”
The certainty in the young girl’s voice had Kara gasping out, “No!”
Lena merely quirked her head to the side, watching Kara closely as she said, “I don’t understand then... why didn’t anyone stop them?”
It was like the whole world went still. Like a pause button had been pushed on everything except the two of them.
“What?” Kara replied, her heart hammering thunderously in her chest as she felt the knife-edge of a realisation that would shatter her incoming.
“They were loud…” Lena stated, calm and confident, sounding so much like older Lena when she would shrug off the protests, the assassinations, the slurs, the hatred that she was forced to face every day… unfairly. “The whole cafe heard them… you heard them and no one said anything. No one stood up for me.” The little girl arched an eyebrow, “ You didn’t stand up for me.”
“I… I…” Kara was going to be sick, as she replayed the moment… as she replayed every moment.
Every time, she had heard someone damn Lena for being related to Lex. Damned her for crimes that not only did she have no part in but that she had helped to stop . Everytime Kara’s own friends and family had made comments, accused her and shrugged off the attempts on her life.
How many times had she heard James, J’onn, even Alex say that they understood those that went after Lena? Sympathised with Lena’s attackers over the victim? How many times had Kara stood by and done… nothing ?
Yes, she would stand up and say she believed in Lena when she was directly involved. But she never told anyone it was unacceptable for them to condemn or vilify Lena when they had no evidence or justification for doing so.
But that wasn’t just the worst part.
That wasn’t the worst realisation.
It was the realisation that this was the closest little Lena had looked and acted like present day Lena which meant… which meant it wasn’t just the Luthors that had traumatised Lena, had made her afraid of joy, had abused and hurt her.
It was them. The rest of the world. And Kara had contributed just as much by her deception. By her inactivity… except… that wasn't true either.
She hadn’t been inactive… She had contributed - multiple times.
‘That’s not a great question for a Luthor to ask someone in my family.’
Kara curled forwards in on herself as the tears dripped from her eyes, unable to bear looking at the young girl again, feeling undeserving of seeing a version of Lena untouched by the condemnations of her family and the world.
“I thought you said you would look out for me. Always…” Little Lena, who spoke with the voice of her older self muttered, “not just sometimes…”
“It’s not as simple as that.” Kara choked out, but the statement was weak and lacked conviction.
“Why isn’t it?” Lena pressed.
“Because….” Kara began before cutting off with a sob, shaking her head futilely as she admitted, “I don’t know.”
“It’s okay…” Little Lena soothed, placing a comforting hand on Kara’s shoulder, “I think I get it now.”
Kara lifted her head to meet melancholic but accepting green eyes causing her to ask, “Get what?”
“Why I looked so sad in my office.” Little Lena explained, “It must be very lonely to be hated by so many.” Little Lena scooted off her chair, giving Kara a far too quick hug before she stepped back, “I think I want to go now. I don’t like it here as much as I thought I did.”
Kara began to beg, “Lena, I…”
Kara blinked through watery tears and in a flash, little Lena had disappeared from sight, leaving Kara to the bustling cafe with a half empty cup of hot chocolate.
Lena was alone.
This should not have been so upsetting to Lena, having spent the majority of her life in such a state but there were some days and a large number of nights where Lena wished this was not the case.
Like tonight, for example.
The nights that followed facing the LuthorCorp board still populated with die-hard Lex lackey’s in this new reality were the worst by far. The board would do everything in their power to ground Lena to dust, to make her feel isolated and without support whenever she went up against them. One woman facing at least a dozen men who wished for nothing more than to see her fail.
In the previous universe, pre-crisis, Lena had found a coping method to help get through those days.
Kara Danvers. Lena would do her utmost to plan either a lunch or an evening with the reporter whenever she was expected to face the board.
That option was no longer available. They had both made sure of that.
The temptation to reach out to Kara when Lena got home that evening had been indescribable, but she resisted. Whilst there were still flickers of resentment about Kara’s secrets and manipulations, the biggest thing preventing Lena from reaching out to Kara was guilt. Everytime she looked at Kara now all she saw was the broken expression on her face when Lena encased her in ice and left her in the fortress of solitude. Everytime she looked at Kara all she saw was how she had nearly helped Lex achieve his evil machinations. Everytime she looked at Kara all she now saw was how far she had fallen so quickly.
Yes, Lena had been hurt and betrayed.
Yes, she had plenty of reason to turn her back on Kara and the Superfriends.
Yes, she had reason to hate some people.
That was indisputable.
But… Lena had gone too far.
She hadn’t just turned her back on Kara, she had aimed to return the pain tenfold.
She had returned to the darkness she knew rather than pushing forward to find another light like she had always done before.
She had allowed her hate to be unleashed rather than contained and put aside in a box as she had taught herself.
Lena had turned her back on her true-self and everything she stood for, and she was reminded of that everytime she laid eyes on Kara.
Kara, who had hurt her in ways she had never thought possible. Kara, who always came to save her. Kara, who lied and lied and lied. Kara, who never shied away from her even at her darkest point. Kara, who was her best friend. Kara, who was her greatest enemy. Kara, who she lov-
Lena stood up abruptly and poured herself a glance of wine that she swallowed down almost immediately. The problem was Lena had two boxes for Kara.
A good box and a bad box.
A Kara Danvers box and a Supergirl box.
Finding out they were both one and the same had resulted in chaos.
A complete oxymoron trying to mesh helplessly and impossibly together.
Lena had experienced something similar to this once before with Lex.
The difference between Lex and Kara, was that Lena had watched Lex move from a good box (her dear brother) to a bad box (the homicidal maniac). Lena had been the one to slowly change the contents and its meaning. First, she had to add in her brother’s slightly sadistic tests that he would set her (often without her realising) all whilst claiming it was to better her. He moved the milk when she was younger to higher and higher shelves to test her problem solving, he would often tattle on her to Lillian to see how she would handle the opposition and he would often take her things and leave them in near inaccessible locations to challenge her. Then came his hateful rhetoric that grew in vehemence alongside Superman’s fame. Then came the masterminding and the outright cruelty and callousness.
Lena had watched it happen and as such understood her brother. She took the good label of his box and put on a bad one.
Kara had two diametrically opposed boxes that Lena could not reconcile.
Until she met little Kara that is. Little Kara had equal parts of Supergirl and Kara in her and none of the hurt and tragedy that would tear through her that came with the loss of her planet.
Meeting young Kara was steadily forcing Lena to empty Kara’s two boxes and sort through them properly.
The knock on Lena’s door was startling, not only because Lena never had any visitors anymore but also because it made her realise she’d nearly drunk half the bottle of wine without realising; too consumed with thoughts of a lost, young girl without a home and utterly afraid of what she could do.
Lena dragged herself from her chair and ventured to the door, checking the screen set beside it to see who had knocked. Fidgeting on the other side of her door was Kara Danvers looking utterly uncomfortable with a fraught expression. The blonde looked bedraggled and windswept as if she had been flying in her civilian clothes for hours without care for the weather.
Lena didn’t hesitate to throw open her door, assuming that if Kara had personally turned up at her door late at night that there was an emergency which required her intellect, “Kara? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?”
Kara jolted backwards in shock as the door swung open, her squirming movements ceasing immediately as her blue eyes swept desperately over Lena’s entire appearance taking in every little detail. Lena instantly cringed under the intense focus of those deep blue eyes, wishing she had spared a few seconds on her appearance before opening the door. She was still dressed in work clothes, her black pencil skirt askew from sitting on the kitchen bar stool, her dark red blouse half untucked, her feet bare from kicking off her killer heels upon returning home and her black hair ruffled from her fingers combing through it.
“I… I… just needed to see you…” Kara murmured, her body curling forwards as she flexed her hands nervously.
Lena hadn’t seen Kara this… uncertain … ever before. Lena’s instinct was to reach out and take Kara’s hands in her own like she had done with little Kara and Kara at her office. She wanted to soothe the other woman’s nerves and give her a safe space to find shelter in.
Lena resisted the urge to touch, barely, but she couldn’t resist everything else. “Do you want to come in?” Lena offered gently.
Kara shook her head immediately and Lena would have felt the sharp sting of the rejection if it wasn’t for how Kara was trembling and her eyes watering, “No… I don’t think I… I don’t deserve that…”
Lena’s heart ached at the sight of the other woman in such turmoil, her fingers tingling with the desire to reach out for her, “Kara, what’s going on?”
“Can I hug you?” Kara asked quickly, the question coming out so fast that Lena almost didn’t believe that she heard it. It left her struck dumb to such a degree that she barely registered the ramble that followed the request. “I know that's a weird thing to ask for but I just… I need you to know that I’m here for you, and I know I’ve let you down in the past and that I probably don’t deserve to just show up at your doorstep at - oh, wow, it’s nearly midnight - and ask for a hug and I can’t honestly say if I want to hug you for my benefit or yours, I just-”
Lena finally snapped out of her daze and swiftly stepped forward, placing a careful hand over Kara’s wringing hands.
“Kara, breathe.” Lena directed softly.
Kara blinked in surprise but obediently inhaled a shaky breath, her hands stopping their jerky movements as shy blue eyes lifted from the ground to meet green, “Right, air. Useful. Unlike run-on sentences.” Kara chuckled weakly and Lena smiled in return. “I’m sorry. I… should just go, shouldn’t I?” Kara muttered, shaking her head dismally as she shoved her hands into her trouser pockets.
Lena pursed her lips, her hands dropping back to her own sides tingling from the sudden loss of contact. It was this more than anything else that made Lena state confidently, “Yes.”
Kara winced loudly, her entire posture crumpling at the response causing Lena to realise her error.
“To the hug that is.” Lena clarified making Kara look up at her sharply, sapphire orbs glowing with sudden hope.
“Oh…” Kara breathed out in awe, shuffling forward excitedly, her arms reaching out gradually. Lena took a deep breath and stepped into Kara’s waiting embrace.
Lena had forgotten what it felt like to be held by Kara Danvers.
It came back to her in a rush. Hugging Kara was an addictive, all consuming experience that made the rest of the world seem quiet and far away.
Lena ducked her head further into Kara’s neck, inhaling the sugary vanilla scent she had been deprived of for months. She wrapped her arms tightly around Kara, her hands splayed flat up the alien’s spine soaking in the blonde’s warmth.
“Is this okay?” Kara whispered tenderly into Lena’s ear, her breath caressing Lena’s cheeks, afraid of breaking the spell they had both fallen under. At the same time, one of Kara’s hands threaded through Lena’s hair, intermittently brushing through her raven locks and gently massaging the tension held at the nape of her neck.
Lena closed her eyes to mitigate the sting of tears.
God, she had missed this, Lena thought as she melted even further into Kara’s embrace.
Lena never felt alone when Kara was holding her.
“Yeah, this is… yeah…” Lena replied, grateful that Kara didn’t comment on the croakiness of her voice.
Young Kara had finally returned and this time Lena felt far more prepared than she had on the two previous occasions.
Following their first hug since their falling out, Lena had invited Kara into her apartment. Their conversation topics were light and impersonal. Lena complained about the board and Kara spoke of her frustrations with her most recent article. The attempts at returning to their old routine were stilted and stunted but they both pushed forward regardless and that… that… meant more to Lena than them actually succeeding at carrying on the conversation without any awkward pauses.
It meant so much because… Kara didn’t give up. She didn’t run away at the first misstep leaving Lena alone and filled with regrets at another failed opportunity. It was the first time that Lena genuinely believed that just maybe their friendship might recover to the level it once was.
Kara didn’t reveal what it was that had prompted her unexpected visit and request for a hug, and Lena didn’t ask.
It wasn’t until Lena asked Kara how she could help Kara’s younger self with her new powers when she visited that something seemed to click between them. Kara seemed to light up at the question, her willingness to share information about growing up on Earth and struggling with her powers (something that she had never shared with Lena before) provided the strong connection that they needed to truly start rebuilding in earnest.
Considering how short their younger versions typical visits were and that they hoped they wouldn’t be visiting for much longer, Kara didn’t think arranging training for herself was the best solution. Instead, Kara had suggested that they give her younger version headphones and lead-lined glasses similar to what Jeremiah had given her when she first arrived.
Inspired by Kara’s stories, Lena had built on this and, with Kara’s help, had spent the next day in her lab manufacturing far more effective yet subtle ear buds that young Kara could use to block out the noise of the world. She also made the amount of noise they could block out adjustable and produced a pair of lighter-weight but reinforced glasses that the young girl could wear and not worry about breaking.
Lena had then gotten Kara to test both inventions thoroughly. Despite the success of the testing, Lena was still surprised when Kara asked if she could keep the test models for herself, revealing shyly that she had never had anyone go out of their way to create something that would make her everyday Kara Danvers life so much easier. Lena had immediately made extras of the ear buds and glasses in different colours for Kara to use as she pleased; an action which prompted their second hug which lasted even longer than the first one did.
Lena hated to admit it but it would seem this strange joint therapy (Lena refused to refer to it as couple’s therapy) appeared to be working.
“You’re an important person within Human society?” Young Kara checked as she slowly wandered around Lena’s office examining the space with an appreciative gaze.
Young Kara had appeared in Lena’s office in another blink of the eye and Lena had been by her side far faster than her heels should have allowed, handing over the earbuds and glasses (that she had taken to carrying with her at all times) with a rushed explanation. Young Kara had taken the offerings without question and instantly seemed far more at ease than she ever had during her visits.
“I don’t know if i would say that…” Lena replied, her nose scrunching up at the young kryptonian’s assessment.
Young Kara turned back to face her with a confused head tilt, “You are responsible for a great number of people’s welfare?”
“I employ a lot of people if that’s what you mean?” Lena replied, leaning against the edge of her desk as she watched the young girl closely to confirm the custom built earbuds and glasses were proving effective.
“You are also responsible for introducing innovations to society?” Young Kara pushed, her mouth set in a harsh frown, her blue eyes sharp and scrutinising.
“I guess so.” Lena agreed with a shrug.
“You are revered.” Kara stated evenly.
“Most definitely not.” Lena refuted with a chuckle causing Kara’s brow to furrow deeply.
“Then I don’t understand…” Kara said slowly with an adorable pout of disappointment replacing her frown.
“Don’t understand, what?” Lena questioned.
“In Krypton society… you would be one of the most high ranking members of the Science Guild.” Kara struggled to explain, “People would bow to you and defer to your judgement on numerous matters. You would be one of the most, if not the most, respected kryptonian on the planet with your recurrent breakthroughs in science.” Kara huffed out a breath of frustration, “But you… you… act as if your respect is not guaranteed . You act as if your guild members - employees, as you call them - are not dependent on your existence. You make it seem like… like…”
“I’m just like everyone else…” Lena supplied, her expression pensive upon listening to Kara’s rant.
The concepts young Kara was struggling with seemed so foreign to the ideals that present day Kara upheld.
Young Kara came from a society built upon clear cut cornerstones of hierarchy and power bestowing seemingly unquestionable authority on carefully selected people. Young Kara didn’t see it like that, however, having been raised in the bubble, presumably in a position of security and comfort, which generated such concepts.
“You’re not, though.” Young Kara muttered with a sharp shake of her head in a way that was an exact copy of older Kara pushing back against all the times Lena questioned whether she was just as bad as the Luthor name she had inherited.
“I may have a higher IQ than most, I will admit, but I still like donuts as much as the next person.” Lena teased, afraid of pulling at the edges of Kara’s tightly held belief in Kryptonian values.
Kara quirked her head, “What’s donuts?”
“What’s donuts?!” Lena spluttered, shocked to the core at hearing such a question fall from the lips of the person that had proclaimed on more than one occasion that she was the ‘Donut Queen’.
It then hit Lena like a truck. This Kara had never had donuts before. Or pizza. Or ice cream. Or… or…
“Oh my god! You’ve never had potstickers!” Lena practically shouted, barely reining in her horror.
Young Kara’s eyes widened in alarm at the reaction, taking a quick step back at Lena’s sudden and unexpected exuberance.
“Okay, this needs to be fixed as soon as possible. I don’t know how to interact with a Kara that doesn’t knowingly love potstickers.” Lena exclaimed, practically bolting round to her desk chair and yanking open her laptop to start ordering in the massive amounts of food she was super excited to introduce Kara to. “You are going to love this!” Lena cheered as she loaded up her online cart and put in her payment details.
Kara merely stared at her warily, still uncertain of what Lena had planned.
The food arrived not much later - nearly every single delivery person in National City had heard how generous a tipper Lena was from her heydays of ordering food for Kara during their friendship. Young Kara merely stared in awe and no small amount of terror at the feast Lena had created for her consisting of pizza, big belly burgers, fries, donuts, pancakes, waffles, ice cream and, of course, potstickers.
Kara’s stomach gave out a mighty roar and she timidly reached out for a solitary potsticker, Lena watching her intensely from nearby delighted to see Kara experience her favourite thing about Earth for the first time. The second the young kryptonian took a small bite of the delicious snack, her hesitance and uncertainty vanished in the blink of an eye.
Kara’s blue eyes went wide with joy and a bright, beaming grin eclipsed her features. Two more potstickers were quickly taken up and consumed and Kara, cheeks like chipmunks, looked over to Lena eagerly for direction of what she should try next.
Lena happily directed her through the various food items, memorising the expression of sheer wonder on the young blonde’s face and unable to say no when Kara would ask her to try something at the same time as her. Gradually, the feast diminished in size under the kryptonian’s onslaught leaving merely scraps that Lena boxed up and put to one side to have for lunch tomorrow. Kara against her will, started to look sleepy and struggled to stop herself from dozing off.
“You can rest, the sofa is pretty comfortable and I have some blankets tucked away here for when it's too late for me to go home after work.” Lena offered, already getting to her feet to retrieve the blankets Kara had gifted her a couple of years ago and that she had taken to using far more frequently since their falling out - no good reason to stop working and return home to a night void of any interaction or comfort.
Kara shifted uncomfortably, clearly wishing to accept but not deeming it appropriate.
“Please, rest for me?” Lena requested with a pout, knowing if young Kara was anything like her older self, she couldn’t say no when it was presented as a favour for someone else.
“Okay.” Kara acquiesced, revealing her heart to be just as kind and golden as the Kara that Lena had known for years.
“Thank you.” Lena replied sincerely, as the young girl curled up on the sofa. Lena draped a couple of the snuggliest blankets she owned over the young girl and tucked them in around her.
Lena had seen Kara sleep on numerous occasions, frequently when Lena used to go round to hers for movie or games nights, she would inevitably end up staying the night. She would share Kara’s bed; both of them habitually falling asleep on opposite sides only for them to wake and find Kara holding her close, wrapping her up in a protective shell of her own body.
Back then, when Kara had just been Kara Danvers, Lena had found a slumbering Kara sweet and adorable. Now though, looking at this little girl who would grow up to be one of the most powerful people on the planet, she wouldn’t describe her that way.
The first word that sprung to mind was… vulnerable. In need of protection and safety and security.
Lena’s chest felt tight with how much she wanted to provide these to the young girl and, by extension, her friend.
Because, seeing Kara like this, feeling these things, was making her re-evaluate those nights where Kara fell instantly asleep with Lena by her side.
Kara slept like the dead. No defences in place. Susceptible to surprise like so many others.
Kara had never been even remotely uncomfortable falling asleep beside Lena. Being at her utmost vulnerable with Lena.
Would Kara have been so willing if Lena knew her secret identity?
Lena didn’t doubt the answer to be yes. During those tumultuous months after Kara had shared her secret and believed Lena to be at peace with it, it was Lena that provided weak excuse after weak excuse to avoid spending the night, it was Lena that would gently nudge Kara to keep her from falling asleep on her shoulder during a movie night, it was Lena that stopped that display of vulnerability because… because…
Then Lena would be forced to face two boxes that were at odds with each other. Another oxymoron that Lena hadn’t been ready to confront but now with young Kara’s presence was gently pressed in to doing so.
Two boxes that boiled down to one question.
How could Kara trust her with her life but not with the truth?
“Are you sure about this?” Young Kara queried nervously, as Lena guided her with the gentlest hand on her shoulder through the streets of National City, gracefully maneuvering them so Kara didn’t come into contact with anyone else.
“Of course, I am. You’ll love it!” Lena assured.
“But… but…” Kara stuttered as she repeatedly glanced back over her shoulder to the looming L-Corp building that they had departed.
Instantly picking up on Kara’s discomfort, Lena came to a stop, “What’s wrong? Is it too bright? Are the earbuds not working?”
“No, no… it’s perfect. I feel fine.” Kara replied sincerely as she continued to wring her hands together.
“Kara, I can’t help if I don't know what's wrong…” Lena said slowly.
“It’s just…” Kara took a deep breath and met Lena’s green eyes, “Are you sure this is okay?”
Lena tilted her head to the side, “Is what okay?”
“Just leaving? You have an important role - a duty -” Kara pressed, struggling to select the correct words to explain what she was thinking, “Are you allowed to just stop to take me to the park?”
“It’s one of the benefits of being in charge.” Lena joked but that merely caused Kara’s jaw to clench and her brow to furrow. Lena quickly dropped the humour, “Yes, I can take you to the park. No one will mind and to be honest my secretary will be thrilled to know I’ve left early for the day.”
“But...” Kara bit her bottom lip, “why would she be thrilled? You have abandoned your responsibilities…”
Lena pursed her lips at that statement but easily brushed aside the flash of hurt and upset seeing it for the simple culture/language clash that it was and not an indictment of her character. “People are allowed to take holidays away from work and take breaks throughout the day.” Lena explained slowly, “It keeps people motivated and prevents them from getting burned out. I, due to a number of reasons, don’t take advantage of this. I regularly work past accepted working hours, ignore breaks and I don’t think I’ve taken holiday in nearly five years now… which…” Lena sighed and rolled her eyes as she admitted, “isn’t healthy. Life is not just about work and the responsibilities that come with it.”
“Oh…” Kara mumbled, her gaze turning distant and introspective as she took on this new information.
“I’m guessing Krypton isn’t like that?” Lena asked softly.
“No… no… it’s not.” Kara revealed as she squinted up at the sun, “We live to serve. To carry out our duty in the roles selected for us.”
“What about hobbies and interests?” Lena questioned, her mind whirring away as it carefully pieced together Kara Danvers and Supergirl into one being.
Kara blinked in surprise at the question, as if they were strange concepts to hone in on, “Kryptonians are encouraged to engage in regular physical activity and a skill to ensure we are well-rounded.”
“Okay… do you enjoy the activities that you are encouraged to partake in?”
Kara crossed her arms protectively, “They were selected by the input of the high council and matrix to fully develop me. They are the best choices.”
“Yes, I get all that…” Lena accepted with a wave of her hand, “But do you enjoy it? Do you…. Does it make you happy?” Lena pushed, needing to know that Kara, who loved board games and bowling and karaoke, had the same love for entertainment as she did when she was younger.
That she had always known how to be carefree and fun loving. That she didn’t latch onto it upon arrival on Earth. That her appreciation for hobbies and silly games was not found so much later in response to being deprived of it when she was younger.
“I… I am happy to serve. I am happy to fulfill my duty.” Kara muttered, her answer sounding like something she had learned by rote.
“Right…” Lena accepted with a sad shake of her head before putting on a bright smile, “Well, I loved the park when I was younger and I would love to go there now. Would you mind keeping me company?” Lena requested.
Kara nodded immediately, “Of course.”
“Thank you.” Lena breathed out gratefully causing Kara’s chest to puff up with pride as Lena returned to guiding them through the streets all whilst her head spun as her perspective continued to shift with every little new thing she learned from young Kara.
The park was relatively quiet for a rather warm and sunny day; there was only the odd child running around and most of the play equipment was unoccupied. Young Kara seemed utterly mesmerised by the overarching trees, her fingers twitching at her sides with the desire to pluck an emerald leaf or brush her fingers through the long blades of grass.
Lena’s heart swelled with affection in her chest as she gently tugged the young girl to the nearby swingset and directed her onto the seat, before taking the one beside her and starting a steady pendulum motion that the young girl joyfully copied.
“It’s a miracle.” Kara eventually whispered as she watched a pair of birds dive from one tree branch to another before swooping back into the sky and dancing around the open space.
Lena barely resisted the urge to flinch at those words. At the reminder that this, a world full of life, abundant nature and creatures was alien to Kara. That it was something Krypton had lost and was struggling to recover from.
Something it would never recover from.
Lena felt sick at that thought. Felt like her heart was bleeding whenever she looked at young Kara. A Kara that was duty-bound, logical and serious but light in a way that present-day Kara, never was.
Young Kara tried desperately to be the perfect kryptonian and acted far beyond her years.
Whereas current Kara, who was always looking for light, hope and everything good in the universe; tried so hard to appear young and free of responsibility yet could not hide how the pain she had gone through had made her age well before her years.
“Lena! What’s that?” Young Kara squeaked excitedly causing Lena to jerk free of her thoughts and look to where Kara was pointing with a jabbing finger.
On the edge of the park was a cat.
A fluffy black and white cat with a red collar, stretching out happily in the sun before settling quite comfortably down in its newly discovered spot.
“That’s a cat.” Lena answered with a laugh, jumping to her feet and gesturing for Kara to follow as she slowly approached the feline.
Kara followed her tentatively, staying far back but watching with wide blue eyes as Lena crouched down and reached out a hand towards the cat.
“Here, puss, pspspsss…” Lena soothed as green eyes examined her fingertips curiously before leaning forward to rub its head against her hand, inviting attention and scritches. “Aren’t you the friendliest cat in the world? Probably why you come to the park, huh?” Lena said, speaking softly as if the cat would reply but knowing that Kara was listening to her every word.
Lena glanced over her shoulder at the young blonde who was clutching her hands close to her chest and had the most adoring gaze directed towards the cat.
“Do you want to come closer?” Lena offered, shuffling to the side so that there was a clear space for the young girl who quickly occupied it, eagerly ‘aww’-ing and cooing down at the cat. “You can touch it.” Lena encouraged, “It clearly loves attention.”
Instantly, Kara paled and shook her head vigorously to reject the suggestion, “No… I… don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Why?” Lena asked, as the cat began to thread its way between both of their bent knees the second Lena stopped actively petting it; Kara went stock-still the second the cat brushed against her and lifted her hands high to prevent even the smallest chance of making contact.
“I… I…” Kara mumbled, her expression downcast and pained. “I don’t want to hurt it…” Kara revealed with a whisper.
“Oh, Kara…” Lena breathed, her heart cracking in two at the confession.
“I would never forgive myself if-...”
“Kara, it’s okay. I understand.” Lena soothed.
Kara merely lifted her gaze to look at her with watery blue eyes and a melancholic smile; for a flicker of second the blonde looked older and her voice sounded more like Lena’s Kara. “Do you? Do you know what it's like to be able to destroy so much with just the lightest of touches? To be so afraid of touching or interacting with anything?”
“I…” Lena began but her voice cut out, she had no reply.
The older Kara visage was becoming clearer and less ambiguous as the kryptonian reached out to gently cup Lena’s cheek with soft fingertips, “Even this… just this simple touch requires so much from me… I am so scared, Lena… so scared that one day I might get it wrong. That I forget or mis-time it and…”
Lena’s eyes stung with tears as she leaned into Kara’s tender touch.
“Hurting someone is my worst fear.” Kara confessed as fingers stroked Lena’s cheek, “And that goes beyond just this …” Lena stared at her best friend, now an exact replica of current day Kara except that her face was significantly lined… almost worn-down. “I have lost so much, Lena. I couldn’t bear to lose you too.”
Lena blinked rapidly to dispel the tears building in her eyes.
“I couldn’t bear to hurt you.” Kara murmured before vanishing.
Kara was finishing off an article at home, trying desperately to keep herself from checking her phone every 30 seconds. She had invited Lena over for takeout and a movie, an action which a year prior would not have been so anxiety inducing due to how regularly it occurred. Now, though, Kara had to spend a good hour building up the courage to send such a simple text, but she found her resolve eventually when she remembered how much she had enjoyed Lena’s company only a few nights prior despite the intermittent flashes of awkwardness.
It was just as Kara hit save on her article that she heard a timid knock at her door. Kara superspeeded to the door and opened it to reveal none other than the raven haired CEO.
“Hey, Lena-” Kara began cheerfully before cutting her greeting off to exclaim, “Is that a kitten?! Oh Rao, it’s adorable!”
Standing in her doorway, shifting nervously from foot to foot was Lena, dressed down in jeans and an MIT sweater holding gently to her chest a small, ginger fur ball that let out a weak meow at Kara’s sudden shout of excitement.
“Yes, it is.” Lena answered, smiling warmly in return before asking shyly, “Can we come in?”
“Of course!” Kara immediately stepped out of the door and ushered Lena inside and to the couch.
Lena sat down slowly, careful not to jostle the fluffy creature that was purring happily against her chest. Kara sat close-by, greedy blue eyes moving between the kitten and Lena drinking in the sight of both of them.
“Do you want to cuddle him?” Lena asked, carefully holding out the kitten for Kara to take.
“More than anything.” Kara murmured before swallowing thickly, her fingers shaking with excitement as she reached out to tenderly lift the kitten and bring it close to her body. “Awww… aren’t you the cutest thing in the universe? Yes, you are.” Kara whispered in a baby voice, as she gently stroked the kitten’s soft fur, its purrs getting louder in response as it immediately settled and started to doze.
“I don’t know about that…”, Lena whispered.
“Come on, Lena. What on Earth could be cuter than this little guy?” Kara questioned as she craned her neck downwards to place a fleeting kiss on top of the kitten's head.
Lena cleared her throat, “I can think of something…”
Kara looked up at her with a raised eyebrow, ready to argue in favour of the kitten’s cutest title when Lena immediately blushed a pretty pink and ducked her head as if she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t.
Kara’s heart stuttered in her chest at the implication of Lena’s words; without conscious thought Kara found herself leaning forwards, Lena’s name on her lips when the tiny kitten in her arms let out a little meow to object to Kara’s pause in stroking.
Just like that, the moment heavy with something that Kara wasn’t quite ready to put a name to was lost but whilst Kara was disappointed by this unnamed missed opportunity, for once she wasn’t as cut by it as she had been by all the missed chances to repair their friendship over the last few months. The reason for that was because unlike all the other missed chances, Kara was confident that there would be another one.
“Um…” Kara coughed, “what’s his name?”
Lena shrugged, “Doesn’t have one. Not yet, anyway.”
Kara frowned at that, “When did you decide to get a kitten?”
“I didn’t.” Lena replied with a small smile as she pulled her sleeves over her hands and her knees to her chest.
Kara almost didn’t register the answer as she suddenly found herself forgetting how to breathe at the sight of Lena looking so cosy in her apartment. “Hmm?”
“He’s not mine.” Lena repeated, her green eyes twinkling with mirth.
Kara’s brow furrowed, “Then whose is he?”
Lena smiled softly at her as she replied, “Yours.”
“What?” Kara squeaked, her jaw dropping open as her gaze switched between the kitten and Lena and back again.
“He’s yours… if you want him that is?”
“You got me a kitten?” Kara questioned once her brain rebooted itself.
Lena winced abashedly, “Yeah, I kinda did.”
Kara opened and closed her mouth a few times before settling on the loudest question in her mind, “Why?”
“I… I…” The light-heartedness to Lena’s expression disappeared to be replaced by something lost and hurt. The raven-haired woman shook her head sadly and exhaled heavily before lifting her gaze to meet Kara’s curious one, “Let’s just say, I thought you’d earnt him.”
“I don’t understand.” Kara murmured.
Lena closed her eyes to hide whatever swirl of emotions she was feeling, and whispered, “I’ll tell you about it… one day…”
Kara didn’t hesitate, to shuffle over to Lena and wrap an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into Kara’s side, “Promise?”
“I promise.” Lena muttered with a shaky laugh, freeing a hand to pet the little kitten situated on Kara’s lap, “So… do you want him?”
“More than anything…” Kara confessed, resting a cheek on top of Lena’s head, “but…”
“But?” Lena prompted.
Kara let out a despondent sigh even as she sank easily into the warmth offered by Lena’s body, “My landlord-”
“Taken care of.” Lena cut in.
“What? How?” Kara spluttered, jerking in her seat but settling down at the lightest touch to her forearm by the other woman.
“I… uh… may or may not be your landlord.” Lena cleared her throat as she muttered so quietly that Kara only heard her because of her super hearing, “I own this building.”
“Ummm… since crisis?” Lena revealed, burying her face into Kara’s shoulder, “I… I bought it as soon as we woke up in the new universe.”
“Why?” Kara asked, totally confused.
Lena squirmed under Kara’s arm and the blonde had to resist the urge to pull her closer unwilling to lose this physical contact after months of deprivation.
Lena took a deep breath and answered rapid-fire, “Look, we may not have been seeing eye to eye but you deserved a safe place and I didn’t trust Lex not to go after your apartment and-”
“Lena.” Kara breathed, squeezing the younger woman closer to her to press a quick kiss to her forehead.
“Thank you.” Kara whispered sincerely, so overwhelmingly grateful.
“You don’t have to-”
“Yes, I do. Thank you.” Kara insisted, “I don’t know how to repay you-”
“Give this little guy a good home and we can call it even.” Lena chuckled, scratching behind a flickering ginger ear.
“Deal… if you visit regularly to give him cuddles,” Kara negotiated with a sly smirk, “he’s clearly already attached to you.”
Lena lifted her head to meet blue eyes, her expression equal parts hesitant and hopeful, she clearly wanted to accept but wasn’t convinced of the genuineness of Kara’s offer, “You don’t have to-”
Kara smiled warm and true at her in return, desperate to allay Lena’s uncertainty, knowing that it was her attitude over the last few months which had created it. “Those are the terms.” Kara shrugged exaggeratedly, “Otherwise I can’t keep him.”
Lena scoffed at the obvious lie but her green eyes lit up, “Really?”
“Mmhmm…” Kara hummed smugly, lifting up the kitten so that its cute face pressed against her own, “are you really going to say no and deprive this kitten of a loving home?”
Lena rolled her eyes, “Well, I am a Luthor.”
“Pfft… barely.” Kara rejected with a snort before winking conspiratorially at the raven-haired woman, “I’m convinced the sociopath genes were on the maternal side.”
Lena laughed bright and vibrant at that, “Okay, you have a deal.”
“Good.” Kara declared, settling the kitten back down in her lap and tugging Lena back into her side, “Do you want to order takeaway and brainstorm names for this little guy?”
Lena tucked her head back under Kara’s chin, “More than anything.”
Kara was convinced that Archie, short for Archimedes (Lena had suggested the name with bright eyes and such an enthusiastic grin that Kara couldn’t think of a single reason to disagree), was the single greatest kitten ever to exist. He loved to play, adored attention and was already in love with Lena, he followed her around like a second shadow the last two times she had stopped by to check in on how Kara was doing with her new roommate.
It had been nearly two weeks since she had last seen little Lena and Kara had started to believe that it was over. That she had learnt everything she needed to know. She now saw the joy and carefree that Lena had been forced to sacrifice. She understood how she had failed Lena time and time again, and how her family and the majority of the world had failed her. She knew how strong Lena was, how pure her heart must have been to rise above the cruelty she had been forced to endure day in and day out.
Her relationship with Lena was on the mend, it was heading in a positive direction after a six month stalemate. They were both genuinely trying. Kara had started to stop by at L-Corp with lunch again. Lena had come over for two movie nights. They were talking again and tentatively starting to share. They were rebuilding and so… Kara thought it was done.
That there was nothing left to know.
She was wrong. She had one more lesson to learn.
And this one… this last one was a suckerpunch.
It was Saturday morning and Kara was kneeling in the living room, dragging a piece of string across the floor that Archie was attacking as savagely as his tiny claws would allow when she heard the tiniest of whimpers from behind her that had Kara on her knees and swivelling around so quickly Archie’s fur ruffled with the wind blast.
It was little Lena, though she was no longer as little as she had been previously. She now looked eleven years old, dressed in a stiff blue school uniform, her long hair down and acting like a protective curtain that she hid behind to prevent anyone from seeing the tears.
Kara was in front of her in a flash, tentative hands on her elbows offering support as she peered through the black curtain to find watery green eyes that widened in shock at Kara’s sudden appearance.
“Kara? Is it really you?” Lena whispered, her voice lilting upwards with hope.
“Lena... Oh Rao, what’s wrong? What happened?” Kara cooed, reaching out to tenderly brush the young girl’s hair behind her ear.
“Please don’t make me go back this time.” Lena sobbed, her legs trembling from emotional turmoil, as she practically begged Kara.
Kara exhaled sharply, shaken to the core by what she had just heard. Lena had never, not once in all the time, Kara had known her, ever heard her beg or plead for anything .
“Please…” Lena repeated desperately, tugging Kara out of her shock with that single word.
“Lena, are you hurt?” Kara asked, her heart thudding painfully in her chest as she imagined a thousand terrible scenarios each one worse than the last, “Did someone hurt you?”
“No, I…” Lena began shaking her head before dropping her gaze from Kara and curling protectively in on herself.
“You can tell me, it's okay...” Kara encouraged, her voice soft as she cupped little Lena’s cheek and wiped away the tears with her thumb.
Lena’s jaw clenched impossibly tight, as she choked out acidic words that had clearly been spat at her over and over and over again, “It’s… pathetic… weak…”
“No,” Kara said firmly, “whatever it is, I promise you it’s not.”
Little Lena didn’t say anything but that was okay, Kara could wait. She just kept wiping away the tears with one hand and gently squeezing Lena’s arm with the other as the young girl kept taking short, raggedy breaths.
Kara was beginning to think that the young girl wouldn’t tell her. That the stubbornness her Lena was known for was hard-wired and the inability to reveal her hurt had been embedded even at this young age.
“I… I… don’t want to be alone anymore.” Lena whispered so quietly that it was nearly inaudible but the words were like a gunshot to Kara. They ripped through Kara like bullets coated in kryptonite, leaving her riddled and torn.
“What…” Kara choked out, unable to say anything more coherent.
“I don’t want to be alone.” Lena murmured, shifting away from Kara as her entire expression and posture cringed with shame, “I don’t… I don’t have anyone…”
Kara’s gaze dropped to take in the pristine uniform, desperately searching for hope, “You don’t have any school friends?”
Lena scoffed, shaking her head miserably, “They’re… they’re not nice. They say things that… they’re not nice…”
Kara’s stomach dropped at that, though it shouldn’t have. It should have been obvious. She knew what environment Lena had been raised in and she should have realised what social circles the Luthors would force her to interact with. Circles that the Luthors would approve of. And if they approved of them…
Lena was pure of heart, Kara knew that and had seen it proven time and time again. Lena would not have enjoyed associating with who her family approved of, she would not have trusted any of them and therefore, would have kept herself isolated.
And now Kara was spiralling because it was so much worse that she thought it was and she was desperate for one light in the darkness, just one and she found herself turning to the most unlikely of sources for it.
“What about Lex?” Kara pressed.
Lena swallowed thickly as she admitted, “He’s… he’s not nice either….”
Kara breathed out raggedly, utterly distraught, “Oh, Lena.”
Because this… this was so unfair.
And Kara knew she shouldn’t compare, knew that comparing trauma was childish and pointless and completely stupid but she couldn’t help herself.
Yes, Kara had lost her whole world but she had been gifted a new one (not necessarily a better or worse one), just a new one. A new support system. A new family.
The longest Kara had ever been alone was during her time in the phantom zone, and whilst that experience had gifted Kara a lifetime worth of nightmares, it was only a chapter in her story. Kara had gone from a loving family and robust support system to another loving family and robust support system.
Lena lost her whole world when her mother died, didn’t she?
She lost her family, her home and everything she knew. Like Kara she was uprooted from everything she knew to an entirely new life but unlike Kara she didn’t have the Danvers waiting for her.
Unlike Kara, being truly alone was not merely a chapter… it was the whole damn book.
Kara didn’t really register pulling little Lena into her arms and holding her close, she just knew she didn’t want Lena to be alone anymore.
“Will it get better?” The young girl asked, as her fingers dug into Kara’s back like she was holding on for dear life, like she feared Kara would let her go any second now. “The me, I met… it… it gets better, right?” Lena questioned desperate for hope, for something to aim for, something to help her through this.
She wanted to know loneliness was only a chapter and Kara…
Kara’s heart collapsed in on itself under the weight of the truth.
When Kara closed her eyes all she saw was Lena sat alone in her office, illuminated by her single desk-lamp working tirelessly on her own to make the world a better place whilst Kara laughed merrily with her friends over games and drinks.
“I…” Kara croaked but no further words escaped.
“Oh…” Lena breathed and Kara could merely hold her tighter as the young girl immediately understood the life awaiting her. “I don’t want to go back, Kara.” Lena murmured, burying her face into Kara’s shoulder, “I want to stay here with you. I don’t feel so alone when I’m with you. Please let me stay. Please, please…”
“You can stay.” Kara promised, stroking up and down the young girl’s back in an attempt to soothe her. “Of course, you can. You’ll never be alone, okay?” Kara continued to murmur earnestly, utterly unaware of the tears streaming down her own face and the choked sobs wracking her own body as she made promises she knew she had already broken. “Never, ever, ever. I won’t… you won’t be alone. I’m here, I’ll always be here… even when you don’t think I am… I’ll always be here. You can stay… you can stay…”
There was no flash of light and no loud noise.
Little Lena vanished as she had arrived. In the blink of an eye. With no warning.
One second Kara was holding her close, the next she was gone and Kara was left cradling air.
“Lena! No! No! You can stay, I promise!” Kara shouted into nothingness, “You won’t be alone again, okay? You won’t be alone again...”
Lena had come into work that Saturday morning for a couple of hours to check on the progress of a number of key projects when her plans for the day were completely derailed.
“Hello again.” Lena greeted in surprise as she looked up from her desk to find young Kara suddenly standing in her office looking far more perturbed than usual.
“Lena Luthor.” Kara replied, wild eyes darting around the place in shock before landing on the woman. Her blue eyes seemed distant and her breath was coming faster than usual.
Lena was on her feet in an instant, pulling forth a set of earbuds and spare glasses she had taken to keeping in her desk drawer on the off-chance that hers and Kara's couple therapy wasn’t as finished as they both hoped. She handed them to the young girl who robotically accepted the items and put them in place, Lena touched the young girl’s elbow gently to encourage the far-away gaze onto her.
“Are you okay?” Lena asked; she had learnt not to push when it came to young Kara (and older Kara by extension) that a soft approach was far more effective than bluntness which merely increased Kara’s tendency towards bull-headedness when she felt on the defence. “You look a little shaken?” Lena prompted lightly when Kara’s eyes fell to the floor.
“My aunt is giving birth.” Kara’s jaw clenched in noticeable frustration, “We - my mother, father and I - were just summoned. We were on our way there, when…”
“You appeared here.” Lena finished, her hand dropping away from Kara’s elbow as she took a respectful step back.
Kara sighed in defeat, “Yes.”
“I’m so sorry.” Lena apologised.
“It is fine,” Kara replied, her good heart and kindness unable to let Lena accept the blame, “just a change that I wasn’t expecting.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is?” Lena questioned, unconvinced that Kara (who cooed at every baby she walked by and had volunteered for babysitting duties for her co-workers more than any other) would react so anxiously over the arrival of her cousin. “You look shaken.” The CEO pointed out.
Kara frowned, crossing her arms protectively over her chest, clearly uncomfortable with being so easily read by someone who she had only met a handful of times, “You are… very astute.”
“Only when it comes to you.” Lena reassured honestly.
And it was the honesty of this statement that took Lena by surprise.
The fact that she believed it to be true.
She may never have seen through the lies but she had always been able to read Kara. She knew when she had a bad day by the slight hunch to her shoulders. She knew when she was exhausted because she would go to fiddle with her glasses and always miss by a centimeter. She knew when Kara was proud of herself because she would always walk with her chin raised just a little higher than usual.
She knew when Kara’s confidence needed a boost.
She knew when Kara needed a hug.
When Kara needed space.
She knew Kara.
And it was such a small change in perception but it loosened something in Lena’s chest that had hardened the second she had found out the truth about Supergirl.
She knew Kara, in a way that she doubted anyone else did, better than Alex in some ways and that…
That changed things for Lena. It made the future just that little bit less ambiguous. It helped the two boxes in her head start the process of folding together into that one box, labelled Kara Zor-El.
Lena smiled softly to herself for a heartbeat before she shook her head and returned to the young girl in front of her with hunched shoulders.
“ Is everything alright?” Lena asked once more, already knowing the answer she would get.
“I am fine.” Kara repeated resolutely.
“Okay…”, Lena nodded once in acceptance before moving onto plan B. “You know, there’s some place I really wanted to show you. After seeing how much you loved the city park, I… there’s some place I think you would like.” Lena tilted her help hopefully to the side and asked sweetly, “Would you come with me?”
“Of course.” Kara replied immediately, her words strong and considered and filled with trust.
It took them an hour by car to arrive; the journey passing with Lena distracting Kara from whatever heavy thoughts were plaguing her by asking her for more information about Krypton and her family. The other added bonus of providing a distraction meant that Kara wasn’t keeping a close eye on the window and as such when her driver pulled up on a rather quiet part of the road, the young kryptonian was made speechless upon stepping out of the car. Lena allowed Kara a few moments of solitary awe before taking her hand gently and guiding her offroad and down the slight hill.
“What is this place?” Kara eventually managed to ask, her voice quiet as if she was afraid of disturbing the natural quiet they found themselves in.
“It’s a park, but bigger.” Lena replied with a warm smile, as she continued to lead Kara deeper into the forest to where the trees stood seemingly as tall as skyscrapers. “Much bigger.”
“How is this…” Kara gasped in amazement, as she placed a shaky palm on one of the tallest trees in the little copse they had stopped in, “how is this possible? I’ve never seen such… this is wondrous!” Kara called out, her entire face lighting up with sheer joy.
“Are you feeling better now?” Lena asked even though the answer was obvious by the size of the grin on the young girl’s face.
“Much, thank you.” Kara replied, practically spinning around the area in an almost perfect rendition of a disney princess about to break out into song. “This place, it gives me… inspiration.”
“Inspiration?” Lena repeated, mildly surprised by the descriptor.
Kara’s twirls came to a stop before she eagerly bounded over to the CEO, “Something for Krypton to work towards.”
Lena’s smile froze on her face at those words which were accompanied by overwhelming hope brimming from deep blue eyes. “You think that’s possible?” Lena said slowly, her heart starting to thud loudly and painfully in her chest as something cold twisted in her stomach.
“Of course!” Kara proclaimed, her gaze going skyward to better appreciate the bright green trees, clear blue sky and warm sun. “The council have been reporting positive improvements to our environment and my mother and father regularly share with me the advancements and projects being implemented to return our home to its former glory.” Kara explained, proud and confident. “Things are getting better.”
Lena had experienced more than her fair share of tragedies, and before all of them there was a certain stillness. As if the universe was catching its breath before unleashing whatever horrors it had stored.
That’s what this felt like, watching Kara’s untouchable hope, her unfaltering faith and trust at its purest, speaking so brightly about Krypton’s future when-
Lena would take a thousand assassination attempts over this moment. Because at least with all the other times the horrors were coming for her and not this pure, noble soul who always found light in the dark.
“Kara…” Lena breathed out, her heart shattering in her chest as Kara continued to speak so exuberantly, finally unleashing her excitement and leaving behind her polite rigidity.
“I was scared…” Kara revealed, her smile dimming just for a moment, “just before I came here. We were in the middle of an earthquake, a pretty substantial one. Worse than any I had experienced so far.” Kara’s brow furrowed heavily before softening back to uncreased. “But I now realise that I needn’t fear. I have faith in my home and my people. We will survive as we always have and if we continue to make as much progress as the council is reporting… well, maybe when I have children of my own I will be able to take them to a park like this one.”
Lena could feel whatever fragments remained of her heart grinding into dust and it was the hardest thing in the world to choke out, her voice little more than a murmur, “Kara... you… there’s something you need to…”
“You are upset…” Kara interrupted, rushing to her side in an instant, “what is wrong?”
“I... “ Lena croaked, as soft blue eyes scrutinised her intensely.
Lena opened and closed her mouth but no words came out. She just… couldn’t do it. She couldn’t destroy Kara with the truth especially when it wouldn’t make any difference. This wasn’t really Kara from the past. She was merely a projection and… Lena didn’t have it in her to hurt any version of Kara so cruelly by telling her what would become of Krypton. She could spare Kara the pain, just this once.
“Nothing.” Lena muttered with a small shake of her head as she forced a light smile. “Nothing is wrong. I was just…” Lena sighed, moving to sit under one of the tallest trees before looking up to the sky so that she could subtly blink back the tears, “I just forgot how wonderful this place is.”
“Oh…” Kara accepted with a thoughtful nod, before gesturing to the spot beside Lena, “would it be okay if I sat with you?”
“I would love nothing more.” Lena answered sincerely.
The young kryptonian practically skipped to her side, sitting so close that their arms touched. It was the most contact that the young girl had initiated herself and Lena’s guilt was uncomfortably soothed by the action.
“Kara?” Lena prompted after they had sat in comfortable silence for ten minutes, both appreciating the environment.
Lena cleared her throat to ensure when she spoke that it sounded definitive and unfaltering. “I believe you will.”
Young Kara peered over at her curiously, “I will, what?”
Lena smiled softly (and sadly but the young girl didn’t see that), “Take your children to a park like this one day.”
“I think so too.” Kara beamed before letting out a light sigh as she closed her eyes to absorb sun rays piercing through the leaves above, “But until such time… it’s a nice dream to work towards.”
“That it is…” Lena agreed, reaching out to cover the young girl’s hand with hers.
Later, once the sun had started it’s downwards descent and the sounds of nature had started to quieten, the young kryptonian vanished for the last time leaving behind a raven haired woman that immediately started to sob for the loss a too young girl would have to suffer through needlessly.
It wasn’t much later, when the CEO’s cries were at their zenith that red boots landed in the clearing.
“Lena?” Kara called out, her own voice ragged and broken as she rushed to Lena’s side, dropping to her knees and scooping up the woman into an all-consuming embrace. “What happened? What’s wrong?”
Lena merely shook her head as she pressed her face into the crook of Kara’s neck, needing to feel her solidness, “Please just take me home.” Lena requested, her fingers digging into Kara’s back desperately, whilst Kara merely responded by placing gentle kisses to the youngest Luthor’s forehead. “Please.”
“At once.” Kara promised, preventing Lena from having to beg, before tenderly lifting Lena up in her arms and taking flight.
They were lying on Kara’s bed, mirror images facing each other with Archie stretched out by their feet, his purrs the only sound echoing round the room that was steadily darkening as the red tinted rays of the setting sun illuminating the room started to retreat. Their tears had finally run dry, leaving them hollowed out and reflective as they both stared wistfully at each other’s profile.
“How do you trust anyone?” Lena asked, her voice raw but clear as she broke the spell they had both been under.
Kara shifted closer, her hand reaching out to interlace with Lena’s in the no man’s land between them even as her brow creased in confusion, “Huh?”
“After Krypton, I don’t…” Lena’s gaze dropped away as she let out a shaky breath, “how can you trust anything or anyone? They all lied to you.” Lena’s expression was steadily growing more and more distraught and all Kara could do was squeeze their connected hands, “The people and organisations you admired most… they lied and because of that… so much was lost.” Lena looked up and asked the question that no one had ever asked Kara and the one question she hoped no one ever would, “How can you trust anything at all after that?”
“I...” Kara stuttered, before closing her eyes and sighing in defeat.
“ Do you trust anyone?” Lena questioned, her voice softer now as she peered into the dark shadows of Kara’s being without fear. “Do you even trust Alex?”
Kara swallowed thickly before blinking her eyes open to face understanding green, “It’s… it’s something I have to work on. Every day. At all times.” Kara admitted, using her free hand to cup Lena’s cheek so that the other woman understood that her next words, her admission of failure, was solely for her. “And… it’s not something I’m always successful at…”
Lena bit her lip, her gaze turning distant as she remembered all the occasions where Kara’s failure had impacted her. When Lena didn’t reply after a few beats Kara made to pull her hand away but Lena stopped her by laying her own hand atop Kara’s, keeping her lightly in place as she said honestly, “I get it… somewhat…”
“That doesn’t make it okay.” Kara breathed out shakily, her throat clenching as another wave of tears threatened to escape.
“No…” Lena agreed with a sad smile, “but it makes it more... ‘get passable’.”
Kara smiled wanely in return, “I know I failed you.” Lena inhaled sharply at that ready to argue in return, to throw in her own sins as counterweight but Kara simply shook her head to deter her, “Not just because of the lies. I failed you as a friend on so many occasions.”
“I wasn’t exactly winning any awards either at the end.” Lena said with an exaggerated roll of her eyes that was successful in pulling self-deprecating chuckles from them both.
“I don’t want to fail you again.” Kara murmured once their light laughs had started to fade.
“Ditto.” Lena squeezed Kara’s hand and tilted her head to the side to place a featherlight kiss on Kara’s palm.
“Then what do we do?” Kara asked genuinely, “I know we haven’t… talked about everything…”
“Do we need to?” Lena returned curiously.
“It’s probably the healthy thing to do.” Kara admitted earning her an exasperated groan from the raven haired woman.
“I don’t want to cause you any more pain.” Lena confessed, finally lifting Kara’s hand from her face and placing it on her hip so she could easily scooch closer, wrapping an arm around Kara’s waist and tucking her head under Kara’s chin.
“Neither do I.” Kara whispered, shifting her hand from Lena’s hip to stroke up and down her back in a comforting rhythm. “What do you want? From me? For us? What do you want?”
“Honestly…” Lena breathed, curling tighter against Kara’s body, “I want to be in your life but…”
“But?” Kara prompted.
“I… I…” Lena stuttered before exhaling heavily, “I don’t know, I guess… After everything you’ve been through… you deserve only good things, Kara.” Kara’s heart skipped a beat at the tenderness of Lena’s statement. “And I… I want a chance to be a good thing in your life.” Lena confessed.
“Lena, we both deserve only good things.” Kara corrected firmly before leaning her head back ever so slightly so she could just make out her favourite shade of green. “I want to be a good thing for you, too.”
Lena cocked her to the side thoughtfully and asked the only question that really mattered, “Is that enough?”
“I think,” Kara said slowly, pausing momentarily to place a kiss on Lena’s forehead, “it’s the only thing that really matters and I’m willing to try.”
Lena smiled warmly at her as she said calm and determined, “Then I’m willing to try too.”
Trying involved lunches, weekend brunches, movie nights, late night phone-calls and sleepovers.
It involved asking for help, speaking your mind, actively listening and sharing one’s heart and mind.
It involved talking about the past, forgiving and allowing new memories to steadily overshadow those that couldn’t be easily forgotten.
It involved laughter, tears, honesty, soft smiles, grins and far more hugs than either anticipated.
It wasn’t always easy but both women would always say it was worth it.
It took three months for them to have re-established themselves as best friends. Best friends in a far better way than prior to the reveal because this time there was honesty at the heart of their relationship and a desire to protect and grow what they had tenderly rebuilt.
Their friendship was built on key cornerstones and fundamentals which both women adhered to, ensuring they were only ever a positive experience in each other’s lives.
Lena had learned to be more open whenever she was working alongside Supergirl. Not that Lena had anything to hide now or previously; she had just always preferred silence, never bothering to explain where the end result came from, equal parts fearful that it would come across as unnecessary boasting or would bore those with a lack of interest.
Now, though, aware of Kara’s daily struggles with trust and trauma inflicted on her by the loss of her planet, Lena took time to explain what she was working on, she showed Kara her projects and explained her reasoning. Lena didn’t change how she worked, she just now added commentary to it. Kara not only appeared to be put more at ease with Lena’s detailed explanations but she actually appeared to really enjoy them, she frequently asked questions and was always keen to learn more. Lena found that she enjoyed sharing how she worked with Kara and it became a regular routine that when Lena found time to work in the lab, Kara would join her, listening avidly whilst simultaneously editing an article.
Likewise, Kara would check in on Lena every day in some way or another to reinforce to Lena that she was never alone. That there was someone there for her always. This could consist of: a simple text, a quick phone call to give an update on something funny or adorable that Archie had done, a hand delivered lunch, a cheeky break from work in the afternoon to go for a quick stroll in the park, dinner together at a new restaurant...
It didn’t have to be anything big, both women were independent and occasionally needed space, it was just a small sign to say: ‘you don’t have to be alone anymore’.
Their friendship was strong and built to last but there was still something missing.
Still one thing neither had worked up the courage to communicate.
But it happened eventually, like they both knew it would after that afternoon spent promising to be good to one another.
It happened six months after that last visit by their younger selves.
It happened in Kara’s kitchen on a slow Sunday morning after their now regular Saturday night sleepovers.
It happened with Archie watching their interactions with only dull interest, used to the overly touchy women that he saw as his equal owners.
It happened because of a cake.
A cake that Kara was attempting to make after binge-watching the Great British Bake Off with Lena all of yesterday; now convinced she could re-make one of the show-stoppers in the last episode. Lena disagreed strongly and had been watching the disaster unfold with unrestrained amusement, regularly taking short videos and pictures to send to Alex who would undoubtedly use them as blackmail at some unknown date in the future.
After her third failed attempt, Lena offered to help and had listened with a quirked eyebrow and permanent smirk as Kara broke down attempt number four like it was a military strategy.
“Now, you are responsible for the first and third tier of the cake as they are the same mix. I will breakdown the measurements and give final taste test approval before baking.” Kara summarised, placing her hands on her hips as she stared down at her maniacally scribbled recipe and instructions she had created.
“Bossy.” Lena tutted from where she was leaning against the counter next to Kara.
“Well, duh…” Kara replied absent-mindedly, sticking out her tongue as she started pulling all the ingredients they required back into a more organised placement. “I’m in charge.”
“Oh, you are, are you?” Lena hummed into Kara’s ear sending a pleasant shiver down her spine and causing the blonde to turn sharply round to face her best friend, her eyes honing in on the mischievous glint in green eyes that seemed so familiar yet was in sharp contrast to the teasing way Lena was biting her bottom lip.
“Yeah, my kitchen, my rules.” Kara declared, though she sounded less confident now, her attention now effectively split. She cleared her throat, and glanced back to her notes, “Now, measure out-” Kara began to direct when all of a sudden she felt a handful of white powder collide with her face causing her to splutter in confusion. “What was that?”
Kara wiped the flour from her eyes and looked round to find Lena, her hand white, a bag of flour in the crook of her arm and green eyes so bright and excited.
“Revolution. A coup d’etat.” Lena revealed with a dramatic wave of her hand as she stepped carefully backwards inviting Kara to follow.
“You’re going to pay for that.” Kara growled exaggeratedly.
“Really?” Lena hummed, before winking, “I’d like to see you try.”
“Oh… It’s on.” Kara announced, grabbing a second bag of flour and ripping it open in a cloud of white before giving chase after her best friend.
Lena leapt over Kara’s furniture without restraint, throwing well-aimed handfuls of flour at Kara whenever the blonde nearly got close enough to grab her. Kara took more of a spray-and-pray approach, throwing fistfuls of flour constantly at just a hair below super-speed. This approach resulted in Kara being in a constant cloud of white powder and only infrequently managing to get a hit on the CEO.
Despite starting with a full bag, it was Kara that ran out of ammunition first and Lena didn’t hesitate to unleash a devastating final blow of dumping the remaining contents of her bag on top of Kara’s head. Kara shook her head like a dog trying to dispel water causing Lena’s giggles to increase in fervour. Kara, equally joyous and happy, went to put on an annoyed expression to continue their game when she saw something that made her heart expand to such a size that it was a miracle that it still fit inside her chest.
Lena, dressed down in sweatpants and one of Kara’s t-shirts, with green eyes that were practically glowing with delight and rosy cheeks dusted with flour, was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. An action that Kara had only ever seen young Lena perform when she felt at her most carefree, before she had yet to experience all the pain and hurt life intended to inflict.
It was the sight, and the realisation that came with it, of Lena so blissfully happy in her company that gave Kara the nudge she needed to step forward, place her hands lightly on Lena’s hips and lean forward to brush their lips together.
Kara’s kiss was chaste and delicate. But it was enough to make her stomach swoop and her heart race. It was enough to know that this was what she truly wanted. It was enough to reinforce to Kara what she already knew.
Lena Luthor owned her heart completely.
“What was that?” Lena breathed out shakily once Kara pulled back.
“I… just…” Kara stammered, her lips tingling from where they had pressed against Lena’s. “I think I can be more. I want to be more.”
“More…?” Lena repeated, her green eyes somewhat unfocused as they kept dropping down to stare at Kara’s lips with no small amount of longing.
Kara smiled bright and shy at that and she squeezed Lena’s hips to regain Lena’s full attention. “More of a good thing.” Kara explained, leaning forward to nuzzle Lena’s cheek as she muttered her heart’s desire into the raven-haired woman’s pale skin, “Lena, you are the best thing in my life and that’s not an exaggeration. It's a fact. You are the best part of my day. You bring out the best in me. Inspire me. And I… I want more.” Lena shivered at the earnestness of Kara’s declaration and she quickly wrapped her arms around Kara’s shoulders to keep them pressed close together. “I think I can be more of a good thing for you, if you give me a chance. I want to be as good to you as you are to me.” Kara revealed, placing a soft kiss to lena’s jaw before leaning back to stare into wide green eyes. “I want more, Lena.”
“Oh, Kara.” Lena chuckled, arching an eyebrow at the blonde fondly, “You don’t see it, do you?”
“See what?” Kara replied, frowning quizzically.
“You’re already the best thing in my life too.” Lena said simply before tugging Kara down those few centimetres difference in their height so she could kiss Kara with everything she had.
Lena’s kiss was not chaste nor delicate. It was firm, yet pliant. It was seductive and dirty but also sweet and tender.
It was a kiss that ebbed and flowed through the entire spectrum.
It was a kiss that covered everything Kara had ever wanted and everything she had never known she wanted.
It was a kiss Kara could live off for the rest of her life.
When Lena pulled back, the world could have ended for all Kara cared, all she knew was that her arms were wrapped around her best friend and she had no intention of letting her go but good sense and months of careful communication built on hard-earned understanding gave Kara the necessary resolve to ensure they were on the same page.
To ensure that this meant the same for both of them.
“Does that mean…” Kara began, her voice an octave lower than she expected causing her to clear her throat as Lena chuckled seductively into her neck in between pressing light kisses to her collarbone, “just to be clear - you know communication is important and everything - does this mean-”
“I want more too.” Lena confirmed in a whisper against Kara’s heated skin, “And because communication is important, let me be clear.” Lena nipped at the juncture of Kara’s shoulder and neck producing a sharp gasp of pleasure from the blonde, “I want everything.”
“Everything?” Kara whimpered.
“Mmhmmm…” Lena hummed before pressing a soft kiss over the spot she had just nipped and leaned back so that Kara could visibly see the truth in her next words. “I want the cheesy dates followed by teenage make-out sessions. I want rambling conversations about little and nothing. I want deep and heartfelt discussions. I want days and nights spent together in bed and... other places .” Kara gulped at her, a crimson blush spreading to the very tips of her ears which made Lena place a hand on the nape of Kara’s neck and run her fingers intermittently through Kara’s golden locks. “I want anniversaries and grand romantic gestures. I want to go to sleep in your arms and I want to wake up every morning with you by my side. I want ‘I love you’s’ and ‘let’s spend our lives together’. I want... everything .”
“I want that too.” Kara exhaled gratefully, resting their foreheads against one anothers so that their breaths intertwined, “All of it.”
“Good, because I intend to give it all to you.”