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So You Love Me That Much?

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“Lena,” the voice from the other side of the door pleads, “please let me in. It’s me, I’m Kara.” 

Lena sighs, hitting the back of her head against the cold surface of the other side a few times in frustration. From where she sits on the floor, her eyesight is directed up to a ceiling vent blowing cold air into the windowless spare room of the DEO. It’s empty except for a few cardboard boxes full of office supplies in the corner that Lena had already lost interest in hours ago. The only other thing of value in there with her is the glowing chunk of purple rock in the center of it that got them all into this mess in the first place. Lena must admit she’s a bit more at fault here. Serves her right, touching random purple rocks from other planets and having the nerve to be surprised when the aforementioned rock spits out a carbon copy of the woman she loves. The emptiness of the space makes her wish there had been a more entertaining room to lock herself into while she waits for the real Kara and Alex to recapture the being that had escaped the rock.  

“Lena, I’m not going to hurt you. Please open the door? You all don’t understand. You have to believe me.” The voice on the other side tries again.

"Why did you chase me?" Lena drawls in a bored voice. There's an annoyed huff from the other side of the door.

"You ran away before I got to explain myself!" The voice argues. Without warning, Lena slams her elbow against the door, making a satisfying bang right over the space that Lena estimates is where the creature's face is. It does nothing to deter the voice, the only reaction being a gentle but frustrated laugh that rings too loudly in Lena’s ears. It’s a sound she sorely misses nowadays, Kara’s laugh. But the thing on the other side of the door isn’t Kara, however much she looks and sounds like her.

“I know none of you believe me, but I’m Kara. I need you to believe me Lena.” It insists anyway. Lena rolls her eyes.    

“You aren’t Kara.” Lena shouts at it coldly, rubbing her hands over her face tiredly with a groan. Lena brings her radio up to her mouth, pressing down on the call button. “Alex? Are you almost done? I’m sick of it talking to me. Over.” Lena says into it. There’s a beep, and Alex’s voice scratches over the channel.

“Hang in there Lena. Winn’s still working on a way to unlock the room we’re in so we can leave to come get you. Kara’s locked in the communications room at least, so she’s working with a representative from Argo to translate the rest of the words on that rock. Your door is unlocked, right? Over.” Alex returns. Lena pulls her knees to her chest, placing her wrists on them and fiddling with the antenna of the handheld before pressing down on the button to answer.

“Yeah. It’s unlocked, over.” Lena confirms with another sigh, staring at the purple rock in the center of the room and the carved alien writing that covers it’s surface before tilting her head back to look at the ceiling vent again.   

“It’s a good thing this being follows vampire rules, right? Can’t come in unless invited, at least we know that much. You could open the door and it still couldn’t come in unless you told it to.” Winn chimes in. 

“Winn,” Alex’s voice scolds after a lengthy pause. “You have to say ‘over’ if you’re done talking. Over.”

“Sorry. Over.” Winn’s sheepish voice chirps over the radio before everything goes quiet again. Lena would’ve laughed at the interaction, if that last piece of information hadn’t caught her attention. She had figured she was safe once she shut the door in the being’s face and it made no attempts to break in, choosing instead to pout outside and bother her for the last three hours, but it’s always nice to have confirmation.     

“You hear that?” Lena prompts abrasively when the voice on the other side stays silent too. “They’re in the other rooms somewhere. Why aren’t you bothering any of them? Is it because I have your stupid rock in here?” She asks the voice. There’s silence, and Lena stands quickly, hoping the thing is finally gone. “What? You don’t have anything to say to that? Not interested in bothering anybody else?” She asks. Waiting for a few seconds, she’s met with another stretch of silence, and Lena flings the door open to check and see if the thing hadn’t done just that. Her hopeful expression stalls when she sees Kara on the other side, giving her a timid smile and a little wave as she sits on the floor in a pair of black DEO issued sweatpants and sweatshirt, blonde hair tied back into a ponytail. The sight is so relaxing that Lena almost feels the tension drain from her shoulders until she reminds herself that it’s not Kara. 

Lena also notices the copy of the supergirl suit the imposter had been wearing when it materialized out of the rock folded up neat on the floor next to it. It would’ve been a perfect copy of the real Kara’s outfit at the time, except this one is void of color, made of a smooth white fabric that definitely doesn’t look like it’s from Earth or Krypton. 

“You changed your clothes?” Lena says dumbly, fixing the being with a distrusting look. “Where did you find those?”

“I’m not supergirl, I’m Kara.” The Not-Kara says with a shrug like it’s obvious, narrowing its eyes playfully at her as it stands, appraising her with a warm gaze that’s all too familiar. “Who knew?” It starts with a tired little laugh as it brushes off its pants, “After hours of begging, not saying anything is what gets you to open the door.” It jokes. “Do you believe that I’m me yet Lena?”

Lena crosses her arms over her chest. “You are not Kara.” She repeats as she scans the being’s face. The Not-Kara’s face falls in disappointment.       

“But I am Kara , Lena.” The Not-Kara insists, clearly frustrated as it blows air through it’s lips and throws it’s hands to the side. “Not flesh and bone,” It admits hesitantly, “but a perfect copy made of another matter. And none of you get it, not even Alex. Not even the other me.” It lets out a dejected sigh, pouting. It makes Lena’s heart twist, this imposter displaying her Kara’s mannerisms so perfectly, as if it has any right to do so. It makes her angry.  

“There is only one Kara, and you’re clearly not her.” Lena insults. “If you hurt any of them, I’ll kill everything you love.” She says for good measure, just to be nasty. To get a proper reaction like the real Kara would have. She doubts the thing even has anything it loves.

“But I love you, Lena.” The Not-Kara says in a monotone voice like gunmetal, tilting its head to the other side like a dog trying to hear something better and giving her a confused look. “Is that why you’re killing yourself with this?” It asks. Lena stares at it in shock, before remembering herself enough to be offended. She flips it off deftly.  

“That’s how I know you aren’t her. Kara doesn’t love me.” Lena says dismissively, ignoring how painful it is to say the words out loud. The Not-Kara looks at her with stubborn resolve, a familiar crinkle appearing between it’s eyebrows just like it does with the real Kara.  

“I do love you Lena. I’m in love with you ,” It declares in earnest, making Lena flinch, “I just don’t know how to say it. That’s why I’m here. For you.” Lena suddenly has the urge to punch the damn thing for having the nerve to say that to her, with Kara’s mouth no less. With Kara’s tongue. Against Kara’s teeth. If not punch it, at the very least, slam the door in its face for how much it hurts to hear the familiar cadence of Kara’s voice wrap around the syllables of the words ‘love’ and ‘in love with you’. The damn creature must be a mind reader, if it knows how she feels about Kara. It must be a heartless bitch too, whatever it is, using it against her like this, weaponizing her feelings. Before she decides which action would give her the most satisfaction, the real Kara’s voice cuts in on the handheld from the communications room somewhere within the sprawling underground DEO building.  

“Lena? Are you doing alright? Has that thing stopped bothering you, or is it still outside your door? Over.” Her voice scratches out, a bit tense with worry. Lena raises her radio to her mouth and presses the button down, giving the Not-Kara a smug look as if to say, ‘See? You aren’t the real Kara’, before she answers. The Not-Kara just glowers at the handheld.

“It’s still here.” Lena quips, pausing to give the Not-Kara a glare. The Not-Kara doesn’t notice, continuing to glare at the radio in Lena’s hand.  

“I’m not bothering her any more than you are!” It defends loudly with an offended snarl before Lena has a chance to stop pressing the button down. She shoots it an agitated look for interrupting as she stops pressing it. The radio beeps as someone else presses down on their button, and it’s a long time before the real Kara answers from her room in the DEO. 

Excuse me? ” Kara’s voice grits pointedly with poorly hidden offense, sounding like she’s grinding her teeth as she tries to speak the words calmly. The Not-Kara rolls it’s eyes in annoyance, as if it can’t stand the sound of it’s blueprint’s voice. It holds it’s hand out impatiently for the radio to respond, but Lena just clutches it to her chest, shaking her head in denial.

“I’m not letting you talk to her.” Lena says point blank. Not-Kara purses it’s lips in agitation.

“Oh come on! I’m here because I’m being an idiot!” It argues, pointing at the radio. It’s obviously referring to the real Kara and not itself when it says ‘I’m’, and it makes Lena angry all over again. This thing is really trying to trick her into thinking it’s actually Kara. It's definitely convincing, she will admit, but Lena isn't going to fall for it. 

“I thought you were here for me?” Lena deflects. 

“I’m here for you because I’m being an idiot.” Not-Kara amends. This makes Lena pause, curiosity getting the better of her as the Not-Kara stares at her with the earnest blue eyes of Kara Danvers. 

“Lena, stop talking to it. Over.” Kara’s voice crackles through the radio knowingly, breaking up Lena’s thoughts. Lena presses the radio button down, but she only gets out a defensive ‘I’m not-’ before Not-Kara cuts in again from a few feet away. 

“Don’t tell her what to do.” it growls fiercely, face screwing up in anger. There’s another tense silence before there’s another beep. 

“I don’t know what you are,” Kara starts threateningly, talking to the Not-Kara directly now, “But if you hurt Lena, I’ll kill you.” Not-Kara holds it’s hand out for the radio to respond, looking not at all bothered by Kara’s threat, and Lena finds herself strangely amused despite the tense circumstance. Since Kara is speaking to Not-Kara directly, Lena doesn’t really see a problem with giving it the radio now. She goes to take a step toward Not-Kara, but she catches herself before she crosses the doorway. 

Vampire rules. Right. 

Lena tosses the radio over the threshold instead. Not-Kara catches it, accidentally holding down the response button as it grips the radio. 

“Thank you Lena.” Not-Kara beams kindly at her before pulling it’s bottom lip between it’s teeth shyly.  

“Don’t thank me.” Lena says blankly, still not quite over her anger towards the being for using Kara’s image and telling her the real Kara loves her. Her eyes drop to Not-Kara’s mouth automatically, drawn to the sight. It’s wearing Kara’s face, after all, and Lena can’t help but react to it the same way as when the real Kara does it. It’s just as irresistible when Not-Kara does it, and it makes her wish she could kiss her. The real Kara, that is, not whatever copy is in front of her. 

“I’m gonna thank you anyway, you know, since you finally bothered to open the door. And because I love you. That’s why I’m here.” It reminds softly, giving her a dopey smile before noticing it’s holding down the button. Lena’s face burns with mild secondhand embarrassment as Not-Kara stares down at it wide eyed, smacking a palm against her forehead before letting go of the button with a wince. “Oh, I’m not gonna like that.” It muses. As if on cue, the real Kara pipes back up over the radio. 

“What’s that supposed to mean, shapeshifter hostile?!” Kara’s strangled voice chokes through. “Lena, did you open the door? Why would you do that?” Her voice rings out forcefully with worry. Not-Kara rolls it’s eyes.                    

“I’m not a shapeshifter, I’m you! ” It growls, ignoring the question, charming Kara-ish smile gone as it addresses the real Kara over the radio before letting go of the button. It thinks for a moment, before raising the radio back up to it’s lips to add, “and I’m not hostile.”   

“You’re not Kara.” Lena reminds it halfheartedly. “And no one is trusting you when you say you aren't hostile.” 

“Lenaaaaa,” it wines, displaying the most convincing Kara impression yet, acting just like the real Kara does when Lena threatens to make her eat kale, “come on. I’m not hostile!” The familiarity of it makes Lena even more defensive, while at the same time, chips away her suspicion.  

“Umm, is anyone else a little confused about who’s talking? They both sound the same.” Winn’s voice calls out timidly through the radio. Real Kara pipes up just when Not-Kara raises the radio to it’s lips to answer him, probably about to say the same thing. 

“Winn!” the real Kara calls out indignantly. Not-Kara smirks at this, clearly enjoying real Kara’s frustration.  

“Hi Winn. Hi Alex.” Not-Kara greets brightly, probably just to bug the real Kara more. Lena gives it a chastising look, and the copy gives her a sheepish grin. 

“Don’t talk to them!” the real Kara snaps over the frequency. “Lena, are you ok?” She asks, forgoing Alex’s radio etiquette. Lena holds her hand out for Not-Kara to toss her the radio, but Not-Kara doesn’t give it back, angry glaring at the device again like Kara’s voice personally offends it. 

“Lena is fine. Or, at least, she is with me. I’m not the Kara that hurts her.” Not-Kara spits venomously. Lena feels strangely cared for at the beings defense of her. It's contrasted sharply by the warm feeling that floods her chest as the real Kara's fierce words of protectiveness hits her ears. Its strange to say the least, feeling cared for by two versions of Kara for two completely different reasons.

“I would never hurt Lena!” Real Kara shouts over the radio, sending another fond pang through Lena. Lena knows Kara would never hurt her on purpose. Not-Kara doesn't seem convinced though, taking in an angry few breaths. The plastic casing of the two way radio making a dangerous cracking nose as it squeezes it a little too hard with Kara's copied strength as it raises it to it’s mouth.

" Rraop wuz! " Not-Kara glowers into the radio, teeth bared. It takes Lena a full minute to realize that what it’s said is in Kryptanio. A second later Kara’s voice answers in the same language.

" Zhalish rraop? " Kara answers, voice a deadly calm. There’s so much anger in her words, that Lena darts forward out of the doorway to snatch the radio out of Not-Kara’s hand to stop the confrontation. 

“Kara? It’s ok. I’m ok. It’s not attacking me, it’s just... being rude.” Lena soothes, stepping back over the threshold of the doorway.  

“Lena, whatever that thing is saying to you, don’t listen.” Kara tells her. 

“All I’m saying is that you're the Kara that keeps hurting Lena, and we both know it!” Not-Kara replies for Lena when she holds down the button to talk. Lena lets go of the button before it finishes, cutting off the sentence near the end. 

“Would you quit that?” Lena scolds. 

“I’m sorry!” Not-Kara defends uncaringly, not sounding sorry at all. Shoving their hands under their armpits and leaning against the wall. “But I’m in love with you and I’m not even admitting it. You can totally hear it in my voice! I’m panicking. I’m worried about what I’m saying to you.”

Lena stares at it, not able to even comprehend the tide of emotion that the statement elicits. 

“Umm, what exactly is going on right now?” Alex asks sternly, sounding as uncomfortable as someone’s big sister would be in this situation.  

“No she isn’t.” Lena denies impatiently, ignoring Alex’s question like everyone else, except for the real Kara, who chimes in with an 'I don't know but I don't like it' type sentiment. Not-Kara raises a challenging eyebrow at Lena. 

“Yes. I am. I love you, Lena Luthor. I always wanna say it.” Not-Kara says softly, staring at Lena as the words tear through her.

“Whatever you are, you’re cruel.” Lena whispers, staring defiantly into Not-Kara’s familiar eyes as a bone deep ache of pain rushes through her chest. “You claim you’re not here to hurt me, but saying that to me in Kara’s body is the most unbearable, despicable thing you could do. I’d rather you just punch me or something.” 

Not-Kara looks at her, face twisting in misery as it pushes off the wall and continues forward until their faces are only a few inches apart, the only thing between them being the invisible barrier of the door’s threshold. 

“That’s why I’m here, Lena. Don’t you get that?” It asks, searching Lena’s eyes for some form of recognition.

“Lena? Are you sure that thing isn’t hurting you?” Kara’s voice calls over the radio. Lena can’t answer right away, trying too hard not to look at Not-Kara’s lips and swallowing the lump that emotion puts in her throat at their sudden proximity. Her whole body aches to lean forward and fall into the perfect image of Kara right in front of her, the one looking at her with unmistakable love in it’s eyes. Love, and a much more tempting emotion.

“Let me prove it?” Not-Kara whispers mischievously, hand reaching for the radio in Lena’s. Something in Lena’s heart breaks open. Maybe it's because it looks so much like Kara, maybe it's because despite the situation Lena has a deep instinct to trust it. Maybe it's because it's insisting that the real Kara loves her, adamantly, wearing the face of the woman she loves to do it. Maybe it's because Lena gets the sudden overwhelming desire to climb it like a tree as it stares at her, pulling it's bottom lip between it's teeth again in a way that tells Lena it knows exactly what it's doing. In spite of these very clear red flags, Lena finds herself curious. She hands the radio to Not-Kara to let it answer for her with a little more force than necessary, feeling a strange mix of frustration, burning curiosity, and bitter longing.      

“Lena? Is it talking to you again?” Kara asks in a worried voice at Lena’s lack of answer. Not-Kara smirks as it brings the radio up to it’s mouth, looking her up and down in a way that makes Lena’s stomach do a dangerous flip. 

" Zha, Kuvaium " Not-Kara drawls out what Lena can only guess is an insult, before giving Lena a cheeky smile. “Now we’re making out. Passionately. Not much talking going on on our end.” 

Lena darts forward out of the doorway with a startled gasp, clamping her hand over Not-Kara’s mouth to shut it up as her face burns a mortified crimson. Not-Kara laughs against her hand, falling backwards with the momentum of Lena throwing herself at it. In true Kara fashion, it trips over nothing clumsily and sends both of them sprawling onto the floor. Also in true Kara fashion, it breaks Lena’s fall gracefully enough so that only her left knee smacks against the hard floor of the DEO hallway. Not-Kara laughs even louder up at Lena, hands resting on Lena’s hips as Lena pushes herself up. There’s a few seconds where Lena just glares down at it, hands on either side of it’s head, face burning in mortification while she stares into carbon copies of Kara’s blue eyes that shine with amusement. 

“I cannot believe you said that to her!” Lena shrills, covering her eyes with one hand as she sits up, moving to straddle the being and rubbing at her smacked knee with the other. Not-Kara just keeps cackling with amused laughter, thumb stroking Lena’s hip absentmindedly in an intimate way that makes Lena want to explode as the being’s blonde hair fans out on the floor of the hallway.

"I have nothing to lose!" It laughs. Lena isn't as amused, not finding any humor in her own mortification. On the bright side, she is not at all afraid of the thing underneath her posing as any kind of threat beyond something that has a wicked power to embarrass her.  

"I don't know why you would say something like that!" She finally sputters once she remembers how to form words. The Not-Kara looks up at her, pursing it's lips in thought. 

"Well, I really do wanna make out with you." It explains with a smile. "Do you want to? We wouldn't want to make a liar out of me Lena." It proposes. Lena stares down at it in bewilderment at the proposition. It goes to say something else despite the warning glare Lena is shooting it, eyes darting down to Lena's lips once, but it’s interrupted when the wall a few feet away from them explodes. Lena ducks down instinctively, and Not-Kara's arms raise up to cover her head protectively. The explosion sends a cloud of dust through the air of the hallway, sending concrete chunks of varying sizes skittering across the floor messily. A very angry looking Kara in full supergirl regalia steps through the new hole in the wall, shaking debris out of her hair as she does and brushing a speck off her shoulder.  

Turning her head to look at them, Kara freezes in place with shock at first, then rage flashes over her features when she takes in the sight of them on the floor. Lena is suddenly very aware of how suggestive their positions must look to Kara, and she feels another blush rush across her face. The Not-Kara's hands move to her shoulders, Lena all but scrambles out of it's protective embrace.

“We weren’t making out!” Lena blurts out stupidly, sitting farther back and putting up her hands.    

Erosh bem, kuvaium” Not-Kara greets nonchalantly from underneath Lena as it props itself up on it's elbows, not bothering to actually look at the caped woman as it reaches up to pick a piece of rubble out of Lena's hair. It flicks the rock away before tucking a loose strand of raven hair behind her ear gently. Kara visibly bristles at the action, eyes glowing dangerously with heat vision, and she’s at their side in a burst of superspeed. She reaches down to grab the fabric of Not-Kara’s shoulder, spewing Kryptanio under her breath furiously as she rips the being out from under Lena. Not-Kara lets their entire body go limp in response, letting Kara drag it across the floor like someone hauling a particularly heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs. It smiles innocently at Lena the entire time. In her apparent rage, Kara doesn’t bother to leave through the same hole in the wall in favor of just making a new one next to it, winding her fist back and sending it right through the infrastructure like tissue paper with another loud impact. Lena just stares at the place where Kara had disappeared, before the radio on the floor next to her beeps.

“Ok, what was all that noise?” Alex’s concerned voice cracks out through the speakers. Lena scrambles over on her hands and knees to grab the radio, pressing the button down a few times before finding the words to answer. Winn ends up speaking first.

“Doors unlocked!” He calls out triumphantly, and as if on cue, Lena hears the automatic locks on all the doors down the hallway click open.

“I don’t think Kara needs her door unlocked door anymore…” Lena trails off. Alex sighs loudly over the channel.

“She busted through a wall again, didn’t she?” She asks tiredly. Lena winces.

“She did. Twice.” She admits, standing up and walking in the direction that Kara had gone with her troublemaking space rock duplicate.

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It takes about an hour of hard interrogation, various brain scans, an attempt at mindreading from Jonn, and a test of knowledge from everyone closest to Kara before they realize they have a problem. The Not-Kara is as much Kara as the real Kara is. Even Alex, although a bit distrusting at first, warms to it immediately, passing the real Kara a stern but apologetic glance. This makes a swirling feeling of uncomfort roll around in Lena's stomach, and a look of stony offense pass over Kara's features.

"So, what, you're all just going to let it stay?" She asks the room once they come to the same conclusion. Alex, Jonn, Lena, and the rest of the superfriends shift uncomfortably, trading each other hesitant looks. 

"I'm sorry Kara, but you're my sister in any universe." Alex says. Brainy rattles off some probability or statistic, attempting to be helpful. The other super friends look just as conflicted as Lena feels, and her heart twists at Kara's betrayed look.

"I'm not leaving just because you want me to." Not-Kara adds on, taking a step towards Lena. The real Kara notices it, and Lena feels her skin burn with shame because she can't convince herself to step away from it.  

"What would get you to leave?" Kara hisses. It fixes her with a glare. 

" Duahaz :zhao and I'll consider it,  Rraop kuvaium. The Not-Kara shoots back, easily slipping between English and Kryptanio like it's at home in both languages. For a second the room is tense, and Lena thinks Kara is about to start another fight with it as the air hums with the familiar sound of Kryptonian heat vision, but Kara is gone with a flash of superspeed, scattering the papers on the desk near them.

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It takes a few days before Lena hears footsteps alight on the balcony of her penthouse. She debates weather or not to turn and leave her position on the railing to acknowledge her visitor, or pretend she hadn't heard at all. It's been like this for a while now. Kara will sometimes visit her at the end of a long day, and they'll both pretend not to notice each other. They don't usually talk when she visits, not like they used too. Every time it's Lena, growing more disappointed at Kara's silence every time and too stubborn to say something first. Kara, not feeling bold, maybe not caring enough about the frayed ends of their relationship to say anything either.  

" Erosh bem :zrhueiao " The voice from beside her greets sadly. Lena turns abruptly at the voice, surprised at the familiarity of it, but knowing immediately what it is. The Not-Kara stands a cautions distance away, hair free from it's tie, blonde locks falling down it's shoulders and standing out against the black DEO uniform , dark like the night sky around them. It looks like it's been crying, blue eyes from the house of El peering at her through a watery rim. Lena wants to ask it a lot of questions. They let you out of the DEO? What are you doing here? Why are you here?  A small part of her reminds to be warry, maybe even a little afraid of the Not-Kara, but she finds she just can't feel anything but safe in the presence of anything Kara-esque. Instead of all those important questions, Lena is surprised with the one that comes out of her mouth.

"Are you alright?" She asks softly. The Not-Kara's face twists a bit at the question, and it lets out a soft little laugh, wiping at the tears. 

"Of course I'm not here." It says instead, shaking it's head as it looks around. Lena knows it's talking about the real Kara.

"You mean Kara's not here." Lena corrects it automatically, a stitch of irritation working into her voice. It frowns at her.

"I want to be. I'm just not letting myself." It explains with a broken little sigh, looking up at the stars above. Lena purses her lips noncommittally, not bothering to try and correct the Not-Kara a second time. Not about it's insistence that the real Kara wants to be here with her, and not about the fact that it's not Kara in the first place. There is only one Kara Danvers, the woman she loves.   

"Why are you here?" Lena asks it instead. It shuffles it's feet a bit. 

"I have no place to stay. I don't want to stay at the DEO anymore. And I can't really stay at Alex's, I don't want to intrude on her or Kelly. And, you know... I missed you." It admits. Lena takes in a deep breath, not ever finding herself prepared enough to hear Kara's voice say those words to her. She considers the unasked question, it's confession the probable reason for it's tears. Maybe the reason she turns and goes inside, leaving the door open behind her as she heads to bed, is because, even if it's not Kara, it sounds like her. Looks at her like the real Kara used to. Says all the right things, coming to her weepy and tearstained. And it makes it almost unbearable to say no. She's almost across her living room before she hears a timid hum from the doorway. Lena almost laughs, hand pausing on the light switch.  

"Right. Vampire rules. Come in." 

It sleeps on the couch. The next morning it makes pancakes for her, it's golden hair tied up in a bun as the light streams through the windows, illuminating the surfaces of the penthouse in a soft orange color. They eat in silence, and Lena aches every time she looks up, finding every time that the smiling face of Kara Danvers is looking at her already.    

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The Not-Kara's step away from the DEO doesn't last long though, since a week later Lena is called in to be briefed on the few translations they've been able to decipher from the glowing rock that got them into this mess, and the Not-Kara is asked to tag along. Lena hadn't even been able to change out of her work clothes. 

"Someone's happy." Alex muses from where she sits in the communications room when the Not-Kara enters the room, eyes cutting to Lena once. Lena ducks her head a bit, staying a step back. The Not-Kara beams at Alex. 

"Careful, it's contagious." It jokes, elbowing Alex playfully. Its then that the real Kara enters the room, immediately scowling at the Not-Kara as it jokes freely with her sister. There's a tense beat of silence, before the Not-Kara excuses itself to the training room. With a familiar crinkle between her brows, Kara begins explaining the papers and scribbled notes of her findings that lay scattered out on the desk and floor in front of them. Alex asks if she's had any luck with the communications with Argo, but the alien language on the rock hasn't been encountered by any surviving Kryptonian database. Kara's only been able to make out a few possible words, and they don't make any sense. With a sigh, Lena sends a text to Jess that she's going to be out for the day, and she settles into a chair, pulling the nearest stack of records to her and beginning to rifle through it. Alex does the same.

It's only for a brief second, but when Lena looks up at Kara to ask for a pen, she catches her already watching her. Lena's heart clenches as she's transported back to her breakfast table that morning, seeing blue eyes watching her so fondly over pancakes. In a second it's gone though, and Kara's looked away from her again. Lena decides to ask Alex for a pen instead.    

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"These are so comfortable! Why didn't you give me a pair before?" Lena asks Alex, smoothing her hands over the sleeves of the DEO sweatshirt. It's been about two weeks straight of Kara and Alex trying to figure out the translations of the rock, and Lena had helped out whenever she could, feeling partly responsible for the whole Not-Kara situation in the first place. She'd mostly been stopping by after work, and had gotten fed up of doing research in her work suits and heels. Alex nods in agreement. 

"I wear them as pajamas." She says. It's also a rare occasion where the two Karas are currently in the same room at once. To the relief of everyone, Kara's hatred of the copy had cooled significantly, but she clearly isn't thrilled about it sticking around, a fact that the Not-Kara loves to agitate. Lena turns her attention to the two Karas, only to find them both staring at her with matching expressions. Not-Kara looks her up and down with a grin. It's a familiar look of flirtation that Lena has grown reluctantly accustomed too. Living with the Not-Kara has certainly been an adjustment for Lena. Not only does it so casually assure Lena of it's love for her, for Kara's love for her, in a way that makes Lena want to believe it, but it's just as flirtatious as it was on the first day it appeared out of the rock.  

"You look kinda hot." It says bluntly. Kara smacks it on the back of it's head, blushing like mad, while Lena tries to hide an uncomfortable chuckle. She can't deny a tiny part of her finds it amusing, the way Kara reacts to it's antics. She can't laugh for long though, because another part of Lena is a bit offended at Kara for her reaction. 

"What?!" It asks angrily, shoving Kara away as it rubs the back of it's head. "If I'm thinking it, then so are you. I'm you ." 

"I was not thinking that!" Kara defends, refusing to make eye contact with anyone else in the room as an excruciating awkwardness grips them all. Not-Kara seems immune to it, since it just sticks it's tongue out at Kara, walking to Lena's side and shooting her a glare. 

" Wuz " It says casually to the other. Kara bristles.

"I'm not lying!" She growls, turning redder.  

" Wai Wus " Not-Kara declares in a sing song voice, ducking behind Lena. 

" Urvish, uwe wuz! " Kara spits, and for a moment Lena's afraid Kara's going to use her heat vision. She steps to the side, giving the Not-Kara a chastising look. 

"You're just mad that we match now." it says petulantly, gesturing between Lena and itself before it disappears out the doors to find something better to do.

At the end of the day, they have their first incomplete sentence translated from the rock thanks to Brainy's cross analysis of the other primitive languages recorded from the Orion belt. 'A reflection, made to remind the pair of the best parts.'      

.

.

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"Why do you think you're here?" Lena asks it one night later that week. She keeps turning the translated sentence over and over in her head, along with the newer words, and it still doesn't make any sense. It's hinted before that it had a purpose for being here, and Lena had been too scared to ask before. The Not-Kara looks up at Lena from her spot on the rug by Lena's fireplace, surprised by the sudden question. It's face softens, confusion turning into fondness. 

"I'm not really sure, if I'm being honest. But I have a good guess." It shrugs. Lena raises an eyebrow, shifting nervously in her seat on the couch, prompting for more. It leans back on it's hands, threading it's fingers through the plush yarn of the rug and taking a thoughtful breath before it answers. "I'm obviously not happy. And neither are you. Maybe I'm here so that we both can be happy again." It reasons. Lena hums thoughtfully.

"You mean Kara's not happy? Or you aren't happy?" Lena asks it curiously. It raises up off the ground, and Lena holds her breath as it walks up to her, leaning down until they're eye level. It presses a delicate kiss to the crown of her forehead, cupping her face as it leans back to look her in the eye. With a jolt, Lena sees that It's crying again, like this conversation is the most painful thing it can endure.

"When I say I love you, you don't believe me." It whispers, looking utterly forlorn as a single tear falls down it's face. "How could any version of me be happy?" Without another word, the Not-Kara pulls away, disappearing out the balcony doors. Lena waits up for it, but eventually goes to bed. She doesn't hear it come back until she's about to drift to sleep. 

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.  

"Do you want to order take out?" Kara asks suddenly into the silence. It's been a few hours since Alex went home, leaving Kara and Lena alone together to pour over the new lines of translations. Lena's highlighter squeaks to a stop on the paper she's looking over, a bright neon line of yellow lighting up half of the part of the translation that they're the most unsure of. Something about 'love over fear' , or, 'love made clear' . Lena hums noncommittally without looking at her, standing up and walking over to Kara's side to look over the other translations and photocopies on the wide desk in front of them. Kara takes a small step towards her to put down the photos in her hands.

She braces her arms on the edge of the desk, and with how close they're standing together, her arms brush against Lena's. Lena tries not to thoroughly enjoy the closeness, or pull away at the sudden contact. She also resists the temptation to reach for the page just in front of Kara to seek more sensation. She clears her throat, not trusting her voice to be even if she spoke just then.

"Would any place still be open at this hour?" Lena asks, knowing Kara has almost all the schedules of National City's best restaurants in her mind somewhere on rotation. Kara hums with a frown, reaching up to rub a hand over her ear.

"Sorry, what?" She asks, turning to focus on Lena. Lena gives her a look that walks the edge between sympathy and worry. 

"Are your ears still ringing from the fight?" She asks, referencing Supergirl's earlier conflict with an alien hostile that had used sonic abilities to shatter the glass windows of the downtown stores. 

"Umm, a little. Maybe if I..." Kara trails off. She tilts her head to the side, listens closely for a moment, then frowns, her eyes going to Lena's chest as realization claims her features. Lena picks up on it immediately, taking it as a subtle acknowledgement of their closeness, and moving away. To her surprise, Kara reaches out a hand, wrapping it delicately around Lena's wrist to stop her from backing away. 

“What’s wrong?” She whispers, voice hesitant and self conscious as she glances at Kara's hand on her wrist. Kara doesn't seem to realize the strange intimacy of it, slowly tangling their fingertips together. Now it’s Kara’s turn to hesitate.

“I…” She trails off, and Lena can see her cheeks color just the slightest. “I can’t hear your heartbeat.” She admits softly, a hint of disappointment in her voice. Lena relaxes a bit at this, letting out a held breath that drops her shoulders. “I keep listening for it,” Kara continues, “I don’t think I realized how much I did that until I couldn’t anymore. When I used to drop down on your balcony it’s one of the first things I would hear. I heard it even when we were fighting, when we wasted all that time being awful to each other... I hear it even when I try to block it out.” She laughs nervously before adding, “Honestly? I miss it. It's kind of freaking me out that I can't hear it, actually.” Her voice sounds small at that, real anxiety creeping into her tone. 

Lena doesn’t respond at first, not knowing what to say, and as they go back to the silence, Kara's breathing changes to something a bit more shallow and quick, like she's genuinely becoming upset. Like she's about to trigger an anxiety attack. Lena sees the spark of panic in Kara's eyes, acting without really thinking in an attempt to stop whatever spiral she's going down in her mind when she raises their joined hands and presses Kara’s palm firmly over her chest, right over her heart. It acts as an anchor, and she can almost see the clouds leave Kara's eyes as she feels the familiar rhythm beat against her fingers, the warmth of Lena’s hand pressed over her own contrasting the chill of the air conditioned room.   

“Feel it instead then, if you miss it.” She whispers matter-of-factly, like she’s sassing her. To Lena's relief, Kara barks out a laugh at how uppity and almost challenging her tone sounds. The slight lilt of her Irish accent drags at the syllables here and there, fighting against the years of dialect classes Lilian insisted upon. That happens sometimes when she's tired, and Lena takes a glance at the clock. "I think it's a little late for take out." She whispers. The breath of it ghosts over Kara’s lips, and Kara’s eyes flutter closed, hand not moving from it's place over Lena's heart. In a few minutes her breathing is even again, and Lena can't be sure, but she seems almost hesitant to take her hand back, giving her a small smile.

"I think we've done all we can tonight." Kara sighs. Lena can't help but agree, and she takes a step towards the door. "I can fly you," Kara offers in a rush before Lena's hands close over the door handle. 

"I'd like that." Lena agrees.

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.

"What about Silver Linings Playbook?" Lena suggests hopefully, pausing her finger over the buttons on the remote. The Netflix preview starts playing automatically as she hesitates on it, the opening bars of the soundtrack playing over the speakers. Not-Kara groans playfully next to her on the couch, throwing a piece of popcorn at her. They're having a movie night. One where they're both under blankets, drinking hot cocoa and eating garbage. Lena had only allowed it because it had been a rough week, what with nothing really going on at work to occupy her and no other breakthroughs with the translations of the alien language on the rock. Not-Kara doesn't seem at all bothered with the lack of explanation for it's sudden creation, crashing at Lena's since that night and acting just like any version of Kara would. That includes forcing her into having movie nights. There wasn't really a way to say no to Not-Kara anyway, not when it had pouted at her and cued up Netflix as soon as she got home. That's Lena's secret new name for it. No longer 'the Not-Kara', just... Not-Kara.     

"Nice try Lena. I've watched it with you so many times I can quote the whole movie." It laughs, bringing Lena's thoughts back to the present. Lena blinks at it in mild surprise. She'd watched it with the real   Kara so many times, she assumed she could get away with suggesting it to Not-Kara. 

"What about Roped?" It suggests instead. "We haven't seen that one yet." Lena hesitates at that. Kara and her haven't seen it either. She's not sure how she feels about watching something new with Not-Kara. An imaginary scene plays out in her head, a future movie night with her Kara. What if Kara suggests it? And Lena has to say she's already watched it? Then again, she might not ever get to watch a movie with Kara again. Not like they used to.

The Not-Kara seems to sense her change in mood, because it wordlessly reaches over, grabbing the remote gently from her hands, and hovering the selection over the new movie. Lena turns to it, her own apologetic smile mirroring the one on Not-Kara's face. There's a bit of an awkward silence. 

"You shouldn't be afraid to make memories with me, Lena." It whispers, blue eyes sparkling with some intense and earnest emotion as it fiddles with the edges of the blanket draped over it's lap. "It doesn't make the love any less real." 

Lena's eyes search it's face for a second too long, but the Not-Kara allows it, basking under her eye. Unafraid to be so seen. Wordlessly, Lena takes the remote back, and presses play on the new movie. They don't hold hands through it, but their fingertips are touching as they sit next to each other. Lena isn't sure if the ache in her chest is there because she misses how it used to be with Kara, or if she's enjoying being here with Not-Kara. She doesn't think about it too hard.     

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"Did you figure out that one symbol yet?" Alex asks Kara. "The one after the ' truth revealed through memory of a love forgotten'  line?" 

"The one Lena was working on before she left an hour ago?" Kara returns, shuffling through the papers to search for the right one. Alex pauses at the mention of Lena's name.

"How are things with you two?" She asks innocently, pretending to be more interested in the translations in her hand than she is in Kara's answer. Kara clears her throat.

"We're... fine. Doing better." She admits, the ghost of a smile brushing her mouth before it's gone. Alex nods at this, accepting the answer. "It's been nice working with her on these translations, actually. Even if they don't make any sense. It's like it's got some sort of love poem on it. I don't see how that helps us." 

Alex looks like she wants to comment on that, but seems to think better of it. "Is Lena going out with us this Friday? To the alien bar?" She asks instead. 

"I think so? I just hope they have a table that seats all eight of us this time." Kara says with a laugh. Alex's smile falls a bit, and she suddenly looks nervous.

"Nine of us." Alex corrects mildly. Kara looks at her immediately, a pinched look on her face. 

"Seriously Alex? You invited that thing to karaoke night? " She sighs, throwing her hands out to the side like some kind of exasperated Muppet before turning to leave the room, muttering 'Is nothing sacred anymore?' as she does.  

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Lena is having a good time. Ok, scratch that, Lena is having a fantastically great time. Maybe it’s the way the lights glow over the grimy countertops of the bar, or the way she’s had enough alcohol to stop worrying as much, or maybe it’s the addictive ambiance of karaoke night that takes hold as random strangers who definitely can’t sing do exactly that, loudly, in public. Maybe it’s the way Not-Kara’s chosen a new outfit for the occasion, arriving fashionably late, in a fresh looking blue sleeved Henley shirt and dark jeans. It stands out in handsome contrast to the floral print button up Kara has on tonight. 

“Hey! Sorry I’m late.” It greets, walking over to where Lena sits between Kelly and James, putting a hand on her shoulder in greeting before going back and taking a seat near the other end of the table by Winn. There’s only a brief moment of uncomfort where everyone’s eyes shift unsubtly to Kara, watching for her reaction to Not-Kara’s arrival, but Kara doesn’t seem to notice it. She doesn’t even look at it, actually, and the conversation goes on. There is one thing that changes though, and that’s how Kara was talking to Lena. She kind of just stops addressing her, actually. Part of Lena is hurt, but not surprised. Another part of Lena is a bit upset with Not-Kara for being the cause of the change, and another confusing part of her feels guilty for being upset at Not-Kara. 

Instead of sifting through all those confusing and conflicting emotions, Lena takes another shot instead.

It’s not until about an hour later into the night that Not-Kara tries to move her from her comfortable spot beside Kelly.  

“I told you, I’m not going to sing anything.” She states firmly. Not even Kara could get her to do that. But she can’t help the smile that forms on her face as Not-Kara shakes it’s head at her, eyes sparkling with mischief as it makes a grabby hand motion, using the other to finish it’s glass of alien rum. 

“Dance with me.” It says with a smile as it lifts it’s glass to it’s mouth. Lena watches as the liquor disappears past it’s lips, at how the neckline of the Henly highlights the handsome broadness of it’s shoulders, contrasting the delicate structure of Kara’s collar bones. The Not-Kara’s collar bones, that is. But oh, Lena thinks, doesn’t it look like her Kara used to? Smiling that beautiful smile as she pulled Lena away to someplace new, making her feel like it was just them against the world? So Lena lets it lead her over to the dance floor. Lena wraps her arms around it’s shoulders, doesn’t flinch away when warm arms encircle her waist and pull her close, lets her eyes shut as they move together. Her fingertips trail over the ghost of the Kara Danvers she used to know. It’s like a window. The perfect mix of the right moves, the right nostalgia, and when she finally opens her eyes, it’s like she’s looking back in time, realizing she’s missed this so much that she forgot she was doing anything else with her life except missing this. 

Lena’s so wrapped up in the night, that she doesn’t notice Kara leaving out the back door of the bar. No one else does either, each of them drinking or dancing or singing along, no one except one Nia Nal. So when Kara steps out into the quiet night air of the back alley, there’s only a few seconds of miserable silence before her timid protege steps out after her.                

"You're jealous of it." Nia says. It's not really a question. 

"And what if I am?" Kara asks quietly, looking up at the stars as she does instead of meeting her eyes. Nia laughs at her. Normally Kara would feel a bit chastised, but it's Nia, and her laughter is never mean, even when she's laughing at you instead of with you.  

"Then I'd say you should pay attention to how Lena looks at it, and believe me when I say she looks at you the same way." Nia suggests. Kara shakes her head.

"She danced with it." Kara argues weakly, words almost lost in the rush of cold wind that shoots between the buildings and rustles the litter on the ground near the bar trash cans a few feet away from them. 

"If you'd asked her to dance with you first, or at all, she would have." Nia states with such clarity that Kara believes her immediately, and she ducks her head, having the nerve to be embarrassed this time. Nia gives her a forgiving smile as she turns to go back in, but pauses, hand stilling on the back door's handle. "Maybe she misses you as much as you miss her. The only difference is there's another one of you running around, being brave enough to ask her to dance." Nia reasons, giving her a knowing smile before disappearing through the door. The loud noise of a bar full of people singing the chorus to living on a prayer   bleeds out into the alley from inside the warm building before it shuts, dimming the noise as if Kara's ducked her head underwater.  

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"Did you go out flying late last night? After we came home from the bar?" Lena asks Not-Kara the next morning. Not-Kara tilts her head at her over the breakfast table like a golden retriever, and the sight makes Lena's chest flood with warmth. Her mind flashes back to their dance, wondering if her and Kara will ever dance like that again, and if they can’t, at least she did it with the Not-Kara. 

"Why do you ask?" It asks instead of answering, taking a cautious sip of it's coffee.

"You look... tired?" Lena explains. It's true. There are dark circles under Not-Kara's eyes today, a slump to their shoulders. "Did the alien rum get to you?" She teases lightly. 

"Maybe." It shrugs as it stares at the tabletop thoughtfully. "You look beautiful though." It says, slamming down the rest of it's coffee before heading out the balcony doors. Lena rolls her eyes at the flirting, but frowns when she turns to see that the plate of pancakes Not-Kara had weren’t even touched.   

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Lena’s out on the balcony, watching the sunset after a long day of work. She’s alone, which is a bit uncommon nowadays. Not-Kara’s usually home around now, preferring to spend a lot of it’s time with Lena. Lena can hear it’s voice in her head. ‘If I didn’t have to go to work or be supergirl, I’d want to spend all my freetime with the woman I love, Lena’ , she remembers it saying, like the answer was obvious. It’s not long before she hears boots land softly behind her, and she turns, a greeting half out of her mouth, but she pauses immediately when she sees that it’s Kara. 

“Hi.” Kara greets almost shyly, giving her a little wave. Lena blinks at her for a few seconds in surprise.

“Hi Kara.” She answers back blankly. There's a few seconds of awkward silence before Kara seems to realize how awkward it truly is, and that it’s her turn to talk. 

“Do you want to dance with me?” She blurts out suddenly. “Like, if I asked you to dance, would you? With me?” She rambles. Lena stares at her, working her jaw for a few seconds as Kara twists her cape up in her fingers nervously, looking like she’s going to explode. “Sorry, I probably sound-”

“Right now?” Lena interrupts. Kara blinks in surprise this time, nodding once like she wasn’t expecting Lena to go along with it. Lena nods back. 

“Right! Okay. Cool. Dancing.” Kara stammers, stepping forward bravely into Lena’s space before she seems to realize something. “Right! Music. We need music.” She mumbles, taking her phone out of the pocket of her supergirl suit, and with a few taps the first few bars of the song Always Alright by Alabama Shakes starts playing from the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack. Lena smiles.

At first, it’s horrendously awkward. Kara’s hands stay at her waist, their movements stiff, Lena avoids her eyes, feeling her face burn red, and the song isn’t really suited for dancing that isn’t energetic, but they get the hang of it. By the third song, the sun has set, and Lena finds herself drawn closer into the warmth of Kara’s arms. Eventually the music from Kara’s phone cuts off, and Kara sways them in the silence, like she’s hesitating, like she doesn’t want to stop. Lena leans back finally, and suddenly she’s at the alien bar. It’s like she’s looking at Not-Kara again, but that somehow doesn’t feel right. Doesn’t make sense. It’s more like she’s looking at a past version of Kara.     

"There's so much of you in her." Lena whispers, their faces only a few inches apart. "That's why it's so easy sometimes." Lena admits, a small smile tugging at her lips. Her breathing comes out in careful little puffs, fluttering the blonde's bangs as the cold air wraps around them. Kara feels warm under her hands. That’s where the real similarity is, Lena thinks. Not-Kara reflected in real Kara's behavior. It's lighter. Like their dance is the promise of a ‘maybe’. 

"So it has all the good parts. What does that leave me with?" Kara asks softly.

"You have everything, Kara. Everything. Don't you ever doubt that." Lena states firmly, tone shifting from quiet to serious in an attempt to banish any insecurity Kara might be feeling in the moment. That isn’t what she had meant at all. She pitches forward, wrapping her arms tight around Kara’s neck and pressing her forehead against the fabric covering her shoulder. Slowly, Kara’s arms wrap around her, fingers barely touching her back like she’s scared to break something. There’s so much she wants to say. Something like, no matter what parts of Kara the Not-Kara has, she’d give them all up to have the whole thing. That she’d rather have the vase, unbroken and holding flowers, than a few shards that sparkle when they catch the sun. She opens her mouth to say as much, but then Not-Kara lands on the balcony. 

It falls on it’s knee, hand reaching out to grab at the railing as it’s shoulders shake with a coughing fit, and Lena and Kara spring apart. Lena rushes to it’s side, worry clear on her features as it continues to cough. The railing under it’s hands doesn’t bend, curiously enough, despite how it’s knuckles become white with it’s hold. It makes some sort of excuse between coughs, something like 'I must have swallowed a bug flying here' and Lena turns to exchange a look with Kara to see what she might think of it, but Kara’s already gone with a whoosh.  

Not-Kara waves off her concerns immediately as the coughs die down, kissing her on the forehead and going inside to make hot chocolate like nothing had happened. Despite Lena’s worry and continued questioning, Not-Kara seems fine after a few minutes, and Lena wonders if it really had just swallowed a bug.  

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The second time the automatic locking system goes haywire, it happens another week later. When it does, it locks Lena and the real Kara in the evidence room overnight. They end up sitting on the floor behind the large desk in the back, passing a bottle of cheap whiskey they'd found in the lower drawer of the desk back and fourth. There's an entire crate of confiscated alien rum sitting next to them, but Kara doesn't need to drink any of it to get drunk this time, since a confiscated red sunlamp sits glowing and set up on the desk above them.

"Doesn't being without your powers make you nervous?" Lena had asked. Kara had just avoided her eyes, flicking the power switch on and mumbling something about not wanting to get a hangover, and that all it would take to get her powers back would be to turn it back off again. It had sounded like a lie, and Lena's face must have shown that she didn't believe it, because Kara had sighed, adding in an almost annoyed tone, "Can't I just... share a drink with you, Lena?" in defense. Lena hadn't really known what to make of that, because it didn't really sound quite like her true motivation either, but Lena hadn't said anything else.        

"You know it's not really me, right? That thing?" Kara asks, about two hours later. They'd spent the last half hour in silence. Lena notes a small hint of self-consciousness creeping into Kara's voice as she runs her finger along the side of an unopened bottle of alien rum that she's been fiddling with. Maybe even a little bit of jealously coloring her words. Lena laughs humorlessly, tipping her head back to swallow down more of the whiskey and handing the bottle over to Kara. Kara sends the alien rum bottle rolling across the floor uncaringly as she takes the whiskey from Lena, slowly raising the bottle to her lips, taking another big swallow as her eyes stay on Lena. She sets the bottle down on the floor instead of handing it back to Lena, prompting the woman to raise a curious eyebrow at the action, the air between them suddenly filled with a suffocating tension.   

"Done drinking?" Lena asks pointedly. Kara shrugs, not giving anything away as she continues to stare. Her cheeks are a bit flushed with how the alcohol is hitting her, but that could just be the color from the red sun lamp. Her eyes are darker in the low light of the office. They've both been drinking for a while now, but they haven't drunk enough not to notice how their eyes keep wandering over each other's bodies. "Did you want to dance again?” Lena asks. Lowly. Kara tilts her head to the side, face still unreadable. “What else did you want to do then? To pass the time?" Lena husks, the implication hanging in the air between them. Kara just pulls her bottom lip between her teeth, holding it there as her eyes scan Lena's face. Hesitating. Suddenly the excuses Kara made for keeping the red sun lamp on make much more sense. 

"That thing isn't me. Say it, Lena." Kara baits, watching Lena's mouth carefully as her own pulls down in a frown. The jealously is more clear in her voice when she says it this time. A darker part of Lena wants to laugh. Kara leans into the space between them just a bit, hanging off Lena's next words. The tension between them seems to get even worse, making Lena feel like she's wearing too many layers. 

"It would be so much easier if it was." Lena admits in a bitter tease as she denies Kara of the words she clearly wants to hear in a bit of spite. She leans forward a bit, partly because she's following Kara's lead, partly because she's pulled towards Kara by that magnetic force she always seems to have. Lena's definitely not feeling sober enough to hold back. Kara leans in too, pink tongue darting out to wet her lips in anticipation.  

"I guess it would, wouldn't it?" She asks quietly, her face only a few inches away from Lena's as her blue eyes dart down to Lena's mouth repeatedly in an unspoken challenge. Neither is sure who leans in first, but a moment later they collide, and Lena's mind goes fuzzy. Any hesitation on Kara's end vaporizes as soon as her lips are pressed hotly against Lena’s. It’s familiar in a way nether of them could have predicted, like a piece finally falling into place. Satisfying too, just like Lena always knew it would be if she ever got to kiss Kara like this. Complicated, because there's still so much going unsaid. Lena knows they probably shouldn't be doing this in a government office, but as Kara pulls her into her lap, making a pleased noise into her mouth that goes straight to her core, Lena can’t really bring herself to care. She just kisses Kara hard and lets every one of her worries go smashing through the floor. Getting lost in tongue and teeth and heat as Kara licks into her mouth, blessed in the red light of Rao as she allows her hands to grip Lena's thighs without fear of hurting her. Lena's fingertips skate underneath Kara's shirt, soon replaced by blunt nails that send shivers up the super's spine as they scratch down her stomach. It's not until Lena's feverish hands are pausing over the button of Kara's pants that she forces herself to pause. Kara looks up at her, making a desperate noise, breathing heavily and looking terrified that Lena's going to stop. 

"I'm sorry it's not easy with us." Lena apologizes. Kara shakes her head minutely.

"I wouldn't want it to be difficult with anyone else." Kara whispers breathlessly, leaning forward to knock their mouths back together. The doors stay locked for a good, long while.    

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"Not-Kara is dying?" Lena asks. Alex's silence speaks for her. "Who's going to tell it?" Lena asks, stricken as the blood drains from her face. Alex's mouth twists into a sympathetic half smile.

"It knows, Lena. It's always known." She says gently.

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.

The door to the DEO training room almost rips off it's hinges as Lena throws herself through it, bruising her shoulder and making a loud slam as she shuts it behind her. When it shuts, it's like she's shut out the entire world, and her own universe narrows down to just her and Not-Kara. "You're dying?!" Lena accuses, voice tight with dread. Not-Kara gives her a sad, knowing look, smile falling a bit as it lets out a sigh. Lena feels her heart drop. The dark circles under it's eyes. The coughing fit on the balcony. The way that for the first time ever, something that looks like Kara Danvers had pushed it's pancakes around it's plate instead of eating them this morning.    

"Yeah." It says simply, voice coming out choked. Lena doesn't say anything else as she feels her eyes flood with tears. There isn't really anything she can say, not really. Not-Kara's eyes do the same, it's mouth twisting up in a valiant attempt to stop itself from letting out a miserable noise. "It's gonna be ok." It comforts, trying to give her a weak smile despite the tears that fall down it's face. Trying to be strong and comfort her as if she's the one who's leaving. As if she's the one who's scared. The unselfishness of the act is so very Kara. Lena suddenly feels sick. Lena walks forward, not bothering to wipe her own tears as they fall down her face, and she throws herself into it's arms, wrapping herself around the being tight enough that if it were anyone else, it would've hurt. Not-Kara holds her in it's arms as she fights the urge to break down. Lena hugs it tighter in an attempt to keep the tears at bay, wishing more than ever that it could be the real Kara she's holding. Her Kara. Healthy, safe Kara.

"I don't want you to go." Lena whispers helplessly into the fabric of it's DEO t-shirt, soaking it through with tears. She buries her face in the shirt and grabs fistfuls of the fabric up in her clenched fingers, like if she holds on tight enough everyone will just stay right were they are. Then she wouldn't have to lose anyone or anything else. It smells just like Kara does, and as the scent fills her lungs, it brings a fresh wave of heartbroken sobs. Not-Kara draws in a wet, shuddering breath of it's own in response.

"Wherever I'm going, it's probably going to be nice." Not-Kara whispers hopefully, rubbing at Lena's back, still trying to comfort her. Lena can't accept that answer. 

"I don't want you to die!"   Lena cries like a child, hating how her words come out thick and halting in her onslaught of tears. Not-Kara stiffens a bit.

"I know." It chokes out, voice wavering. It's not bothering to argue with her, it's agreeing with her, and something about that makes her feel even worse. Lena can feel the wet trails of tears against it's face as she moves to lean her forehead against it's cheek. 

"Is it my fault?" Lena whispers. "Tell me what I'm doing wrong, and I'll stop." She promises. Begs. "I don't want you to go." 

"I don't think... I don't think there's anything you can do." It says, burying it's face in her hair as it's breath catches, sounding like it's coming to the realization at the same time Lena does.   

"Stay, and love me like you say you do." Lena begs against it's skin, not relaxing her hold in the slightest. Maybe it is Kara after all. Maybe this is the only way Lena gets what she wants. She isn't ready to lose Kara all over again. Who gives a damn if this Kara isn't the same one she fell in love with? Lena could love this Kara, this echo of the girl of steel, if she had enough time. Lena could figure out a way to live with two of them, just like everyone else around them had for the past month. It would be much better than bearing the pain of losing it all over again. This Kara loves her like her Kara had once. It isn't afraid of how it feels. Doesn't hook up with her out of jealousy when they're locked in some room together, or fly to her penthouse in the middle of the night just to disappoint her. But here it is, dying in front of her all the same like some kind of sick joke. Slipping through her fingers despite her hold on it. "Stay and love me like she won't." Lena tries one more time. They both know that's not why Not-Kara is here. It's not destined to stay. 

"Don't be afraid of that," it whispers back comfortingly, voice breaking through tears. "I'm going to. I do ." 

Lena knows it's talking about the real Kara. The one with the history. The one with walls up that doesn't have the bravery to say 'I love you' to Lena like Not-Kara does. The one Lena hurt.

"Kara doesn't love me like that." Lena denies, choking back a sob. How could she, after everything that's happened between them? After all the pain they've caused each other? But somehow it's like they both know its a lie. The real Kara does love her. It's just complicated. It's not simple or easy. There's baggage. There's uncertainty. That's the scary thing about it. 

"Yes I do. I promise. I'm going to tell you someday." Not-Kara sighs brokenly. When it speaks again, it's words are so quiet, and so full of fear and drenched in heartbreak, that they make Lena shake against it in grief. "I'm just... scared ." Is all Not-Kara says, leaning more weight on Lena for support as it loses it's battle with it's own tears. They stay there, in each other arms, crying until they can't anymore. Until Lena can't feel anything else.

When she finally leaves the room, she's met with the sight of the real Kara waiting outside the door, eyes red with tears like she'd been crying too. Lena stares at her.

"Well?" Lena asks her angrily when she says nothing, fixing her with a blank but daring stare. "Are you glad its leaving?" She accuses. Kara's lower lip trembles, but she doesn't look away.

"No, I'm not. But it's right. I love you Lena, and I'm so sorry." She chokes out. Lena shuts her eyes tight, wishing more than anything that she could react to that with any other emotion than sadness. 

"Well," she starts, wiping at her eyes as a few final tears fall down her face, "at least you finally had the nerve to say it."

"Lena," Kara starts as she takes a step towards her, but she trails off, a determined look settling on her face. In a few steps she's closed the distance between them, tilting her head down just enough to press her mouth against Lena's. Lena kisses her back desperately, trying so hard to feel the way it's supposed to feel, but it just feels completely wrong. This moment is all wrong. Leave it to Kara Danvers to tell her earth shaking truths at precisely the worst possible moments. Lena, I'm supergirl. Lena, I'm ready to forgive you. Lena, I love you. With a disappointed sob, Lena pushes Kara away with a hand on her chest. 

"I can't, Kara." She croaks out. Kara's face twists in pain. 

"Ever?" she asks in a horrified whisper, wet blue eyes searching her green ones. Lena presses her lips into a thin line, taking in a breath that she fights to keep even. "Please tell me I'm not too late. Please tell me last night didn’t ruin everything."

"You aren't. It didn’t." She amends. "But not right now. Okay? I can't." She asks. Kara looks miserable, but she nods, respecting the answer. Lena gives her a wry smile before turning on her heel and leaving Kara in the hallway alone, but before she disappears through the doors at the end, she pauses, speaking quietly because she knows Kara is listening with her super hearing. "I love you anyway. Even though it's messy. Even though it's complicated."

She doesn't wait for Kara to respond, she just lets the door click shut behind her.     

.

.

.

"I know she isn't actually you, but I won't survive this unless you're by my side." Lena explains, grip on Kara's fingers tightening. Kara nods in understanding, lacing their fingers together firmly and placing a kiss against her temple before they start walking towards the MedBay.

"Lena?" Kara asks before they go through the doors.

"Yes Kara?" Lena asks quietly. Kara tires to smile at her, but it fails. 

"I love you. And I promise you I'll love you like she does, if you give me the chance." Kara whispers. Lena raises their joined hands to her lips, pressing a comforting kiss to Kara's knuckles before giving her a reassuring smile. She finally understands what Not-Kara has been saying all along. 

"I'll do the very same." Lena consents. Kara gives her a brief smile at that, eyes misting a bit as they spark with hope and undeniable love, before both their expression sobers, and they step into the sterile white room.

Not-Kara smiles approvingly at them when it sees their hands joined. " Erosh bem :zrhueiao"  It greets Lena weakly, before turning to Kara with a mischievous smile.

"Hey idiot." Kara addresses it before it can greet her with the Kryptanio insult. It narrows it's eyes playfully at her at being beaten to the punch line. It pushes itself up a bit so it's sitting more upright against the pillows, careful of the IV lines sticking out of it's arm. Not-Kara's only shuffled a bit, but it's breathing is shallow at the effort to move. It got sick so quickly. Lena walks to it's side hastily to help move a pillow behind it's back for support dragging Kara along by their joined hands. Kara stops as far away as she can while still holding Lena’s hand, giving them their space.  

"Did you bring it?" Not-Kara asks Lena. Lena gives it a small smile, patting the bulge in her pocket where the glowing purple rock sits unseen, it’s carved ruins now fully translated, scrawled over papers somewhere in Alex’s handwriting, or typed into some database. Words that explain that the Not-Kara has to go back. That it’s done it’s job of helping them remember how and why they love each other. Lena's not ready to take it out yet. Lena doesn't want to ever take it out of her pocket, because as soon as she does, she knows it'll all be too real. She can hold on to it for a while, just a few more minutes, tucked into her pocket so that they can pretend for a few more minutes that Not-Kara's just going to be sick for a while. That it'll be up and running around her apartment next week after a full recovery, making pancakes and teasing Kara and loving Lena so innocently and so uncomplicated. 

“All I have to do is touch it, right?” Not-Kara asks. It gives her a weak, knowing smile, like it can tell Lena’s trying to drag this out, and won’t let her. Lena nods, and with trembling hands she takes it out of her pocket and sets it on the Not-Kara’s lap. The Not-Kara reaches forward, then hesitates.      

 "Don't be scared." Lena comforts. Not-Kara's outstretched hand pauses before it makes contact with the purple rock. It's eyes go back to Kara and her joined hands, and it smiles. 

"I'm not." It whispers. "It looks like everything turns out ok for me in the end." Lena laughs wetly at that. 

“I’m going to miss you.” She chokes out, smiling despite the situation. 

“I’m not going anywhere.” Not-Kara reassures before leaning back to look at Kara. Kara meets it’s eye, and an understanding of sorts seems to pass between them. Kara nods once, and the Not-Kara nods back before turning it’s attention back to the rock.  

 Not-Kara smiles, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to Lena’s forehead one last time, before closing her hand over the rock. Just like it appeared, it slowly dissipates like mist, atoms breaking apart, molecules scattering, matter rearranging, until the hospital bed is empty. Lena stands up, resigned, and steps into Kara’s waiting embrace.

“I’m glad you’re you.” Lena says, leaning back to look at her. Kara tilts forward to kiss her softly. 

“I am too.” She answers back, giving their joined hands a reassuring squeeze.