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Die for you

Chapter Text

“Your biggest fan is a stranger.

Your biggest hater is someone you know.”

                                    -Heath Ledger

 

The beeping sound of a heart montior was the first thing she heard when she came to.

She tried to blink her eyes open only to realize that her eyelids were incredibly heavy and she felt her lips turn into a frown.

 

“Lena! You are awake.”

Veronica's voice.

The sound of her name spoken so gently calmed her instantly.

 

“What happened?,” she rasped out, voice hoarse, throat sore and she struggled to move into a sitting position but failed.

Her agent appeared in her line of vision, her expression grim, “There was an explosion. Your car...don't you remember?”

Her eyes grew wide as her memories came rushing back like a massive wave, pulling her under.

 

Lena was headed for her car when Veronica called after her, “Don't procrastinate again, darling. Your deadline is coming up and you know it.”

She stopped mid-step and turned around, smirking, “No worries. The Girl of Steel will get her happy ending. Eventually.”

“Lena,” Veronica warned jokingly and shook her head, “You'll be the death of me, I swear.”

“Nonsense,” Lena fired back, “You love me too much. I'm your biggest star.”

Veronica grew serious from one moment to the next, “Even if you wouldn't write another word, I'll always love you, Lena. You are like a sister to me.”

Lena nodded once and turned again, ready to leave.

She wasn't known to be overly emotional, always detached, always guarded.

Before she could take the first step a booming sound echoed through the street and car parts were flying while Lena was thrown backwards by the blast.

She hit the ground hard and then her world tunred black.

 

“I do. I remember, “ she whispered in horror and disbelief, “How...how bad is it? How long was I out?”

Veronica took her hand and squeezed it, “For about twelve hours. And you were extremely lucky, Lena. The worst of it is your broken leg. Some cuts and bruises, a concussion. It could have been a lot worse if that bomb had gone off a fminute later.”

She nodded in understanding, her mind reeling.

Someone had tried to kill her.

Again.

“When can I...go home?”, Lena asked, feeling numb and confused.

She knew she hadn't only made friends in life but who there was a difference between disliking someone and hating someone so much that you want them dead.

Ever since she had published her first book at the tender age of nineteen she had dealt with jealousy, envy and malvolence but this kind of anger and hatred was something else.

“Tomorrow morning”, Veronica said sympathetically, well aware how much Lena despised hospitals, “But you can't stay in National City. It isn't safe.”

She was about to argue when she saw Veronica shake her head vehemently, “No. We're not going to have that discussion again, Lena. You could be dead. Someone is out there to kill you and I will not stand by and watch until they succeed because you don't want to be driven out of National City. You'll get a security detail as well this time. And don't even bother arguing because this is not negotiable.”

Lena was less than pleased about the news but she was not in a position to argue, she wasn't that stupid.

What argument could she possibly have when she had survived the third attempt on her life by sheer luck?

“Where am I supposed to go?,” she wanted to know instead.

“I thought you might want to spend some time in your house in Ireland,” Veronica smiled because she knew how much Lena loved the place, “It's quiet and secluded and only a handful of people know about it. Your family. Your closest friends.”

“Okay," Lena agreed, simply because she hadn't been in Irealnd for quite a while and she missed it.

If she was really honest she had considered going there not too long ago because it would allow her the peace she needed to finish the third book of her latest triology. 

Her mother's house, it was her sanctuary.

Her safe haven.

Only a selected few had ever been allowed to visit her there.

The thought of having a stranger there with her didn't sit well with her though.

She hated the mere thought but she feared that there wasn't much she could do about it.

“Excellent,” Veronica grinned triumphantly, “I'll go and pack you a bag. I'll be here bright and early tomorrow. The doctor will come and check on you later. Call if you need anything. Also, don't try to sneak out because there are two officers outside.”

She rolled her eyes in annoyance but deep down Lena was grateful that someone cared about her and her well being.

Veronica put a kiss to her forehead, “Try to get some rest, darling. I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow.”

Tomorrow her life would change and she would head into the unknown.

With a stranger for protection.

Lena wasn't thrilled about it, that much was a given.

But she had to stay alive to figure out who wanted her dead.

 

 

Chapter Text

Zor - El stood on the Sun Terrace together with his daughter, overlooking his creation.
Krypton was thriving more than ever.
It was nearing perfection really.

It was their superiority, Krypton's superiority, that would inspire planets, probably even galaxies.

"Father, what is it? What do you see?"

Sparkling blue eyes watched him intently and Zor - El smiled warmly.
Ankara was his pride and joy and her curiosity, her hunger for science and knowledge pleased him greatly.

He waved his hand around to make his daughter see, to make her take in their surroundings, "The future, my child. The future."

Krypton: A planet on fire
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena had never expected her first book to be such a huge success.
She hadn't expected anything at all if she was really honest.
Her stepmother had told her that she was wasting her time, her father had looked slightly amused and her brother had flat out laughed at her face when she had told them about her idea.

Krypton had been her escape ever since she had to leave Ireland after her mother's tragic had passing when she had been barely seven years old.
After her father had dragged her all the way to National City and she had to settle into her new life with a father she didn't know, a stepmother who hadn't wanted her and a stepbrother who had belittled her every step of the way.

She had created Krypton in her imagination as a safe haven because there was nowhere to go, at least not physically, but Lena had managed to find a way to keep her sanity intact.
Krypton had given her that.

And then, one night, she had slept over at her best friend's place (Sam was her only friend really) and Lena had told her about Krypton and how she imagined it to be this perfect place where people lived in peace and everything was so much easier, so much better, than on Earth.
Sam had listened without judgement and they had dreamed about planets and galaxies and traveling through space.
They had been sixteen at the time.

Sam had mumbled something about what would happen to Krypton because surely it couldn't be as beautiful and perfect as it seemed.
At least not all the time.

It had gotten Lena thinking and wonder.
She had spent the next weeks researching different eras, from dinosaurs to the World Wars, and an idea had started to form in her head because nothing good lasts forever.

About a year later Lionel had died, leaving her an orphan, and she had written the first chapter in one weekend.

It had taken her over a year to write the book and she hadn't even planned on contacting a publisher but then she had met Veronica Sinclair at a fundraiser Lillian had thrown and her life has never been the same again.

Krypton: A planet on fire had been published only a few weeks after her nineteenth birthday and had become a huge success and it had led to a trilogy about The Last Daughter of Krypton that had cemented her career as a bestselling writer.

What had followed had been madness.
Interviews, movie deals, book tours and an alien turned hero, Ankara Zor - El, who was now know as The Girl of Steel and who had yet to get a happy ending in case Lena lived long enough to finish the last book of the Girl of Steel trilogy.

She hadn't completely made up her mind about how to end the book yet and Lena wasn't sure if she would be able to focus enough to do so.
Sure, Ireland would be provide much needed peace and quiet but her mind was restless.

Who wanted her dead?
Who hated her that much?

Lena hadn't gotten much sleep because she hadn't been able to calm her thoughts enough to drift off.

She would be safe in Ireland, right?
She would have a bodyguard after all and barely anyone knew that the property even existed.

There was a knock on her door, causing her to jump and curse in pain.
Her broken leg was in a cast and though it didn't hurt much, sudden movements did cause her pain.

The door was pulled open and revealed a worried Veronica, sports bag in hand , "Lena, are you alright?"

"Fine," she grit out through clenched teeth, "You just startled me."

Her agent smiled apologetically, "Sorry, darling. I came to pick you up. I already go your release form and your prescriptions. And I brought clothes."

"Thank you, V."

"Let's get you dressed then, shall we? Ireland is calling," Veronica suggested, sweatpants in hand.

"Sure. I can't wait to get out of here."
It wasn't a lie because Lena hated hospitals plus she was as ecstatic that she could spend some time in Ireland but the thought that she would have to share her sanctuary with a stranger still made her uneasy.
Especially since someone was out there to kill her.
What if her security detail was the one to be after her.
Surely someone could fake an identity, credentials or something and then she would be stuck in a secluded house with a killer and no way of escaping because of her broken leg.

No, she couldn't think like that.
She would drive herself crazy.
------------------------------

Once Lena had been dressed in her favourite pair of sweatpants and a knitted red pullover Veronica had helped her into a wheelchair and had navigated her out of the room where a woman dressed in black had been waiting for them, much to Lena's surprise.
Her brown hair reached her chin on the right side but was a lot shorter on her left.

She had introduced herself as Alexandra Danvers ("But you can call me Alex") and Lena had noticed the the woman was not only in great shape but also armed heavily.
So, the bodyguard had arrived it seemed.

They had taken the staff elevator to the parking garage where three black SUVs had been waiting, darkened windows and all.
Lena had found it absolutely ridiculous but hadn't bothered to comment, well aware that Veronica wouldn't appreciate it.

She had been surprised to learn that Veronica wouldn't accompany her to the airport and their goodbye had been short, albeit heartfelt, and Veronica had made her promise to check in every day. And she had made Lena swear that she wouldn't give her security detail a hard time.

The three SUVs had left the garage together, one after another, to paparazzi trying to catch a glimpse of her to no avail before they had split up at the intersection.
To Lena's surprise they stopped at a warehouse a couple of minutes later, only to switch cars and leave through a different exit a few minutes later.

"We are not taking any chances," had been Alex Danvers' only comment when she had looked at the woman questioningly and Lena realized how serious this woman seemed to be about her job, about keeping her safe.
It made Lena relax a tiny bit.
So far, so good.
-------------------------------

Lena had slept during the bigger part of the flight because her exhaustion had finally caught up to her but now that she was back on Irish soil and somewhat rested she was buzzing with so much energy that she didn't know what to do with herself because they still had a two hour drive ahead of them all the way across the island over to the greater area of the city of Galway.
Her house wasn't far from the Cliffs of Moher and she couldn't wait to go back there because the view was breathtaking.
It might be her favourite place in the world.
It sure had been her mother's.

She was sitting in the passenger seat of a Land Rover, taking in the Irish landscape while Alex drove, her focus on the road with the occasional glance into the mirror to check if someone would be following them.
At least Lena assumed that Alex was checking for possible threats because the woman hadn't spoken much ever since she had woken up.

"What is your favourite food? Likes, dislikes? Allergies?," Lena asked out of the blue, causing Alex to look at her for a second before her focus returned to the road.

"Pizza. I am not a picky eater but I don't like asparagus. No allergies. Why are you asking though, Miss Luthor?"

Lena shrugged, "Well, considering that we will be living together for the time being I thought it would be the polite thing to do to ask."

A heartfelt laugh was her only reply and Lena looked at Alex Danvers in confusion, "What's so funny?"

"I think there's been some misunderstanding, Miss Luthor. I am not your bodyguard. She's already at your house, preparing everything for your arrival. I thought you knew."

"I'm not sure I understand," Lena didn't know what to say. Or to think for that matter.
The mere thought of a stranger in her house without her approval or knowledge, it made her feel sick.
Veronica must have arranged for that.
She would need to have a little chat with her agent later.

"Is she...is she good?," Lena heard herself ask, voice filled with insecurity.

Alex looked at her then, eyes soft, smile warm.
Confidence and reassurance in her voice.
"At her job? She's the best. If anyone can keep you safe it's her."

"Sounds like you know her well."

Alex smiled proudly, "She's my sister."

"Oh."

"Her favourite food are potstickers. She's not keen on cucumbers and bananas. And she's allergic to peanuts."

"Thank you."
-------------------------------------

Neither of them had spoken after that.
Alex had focused on driving while Lena had tried to wrap her head around everything she had learned, everything that had happened over the last 48 hours.

When she finally caught sight of the house Lena realized how giddy she felt about being home.
And how much she dreaded it at the same time.

There was a dog sitting at her front door.
A German Shepherd if Lena wasn't completely mistaken.

"My sister's dog."

It startled Lena how Alex Danvers seemed to be able to sense what she was thinking about.

Lena watched Alex get out of the car and the dog storming towards her, greeting her with excitement and it put a smile on Lena's face.
She had always wanted a dog but Lillian had never allowed it and these days she was simply too busy.

Alex helped her out of the car and into the wheelchair (Lena wasn't allowed to put any weight on her left foot just yet, much to her chagrin and she hated using crutches because she simply lacked the strength to walk on them for longer periods of time) and navigated her inside, the dog by their side.

"Kara, we are here! Where are you?," Alex yelled out and Lena was surprised to hear the name.
She had meant to name her hero Kara but had gone with Ankara in the end.
It was kind of a Luthor thing.
Lionel, Lillian, Lex, Lena.

In the book it was Alura (the mother), Astra (the aunt) and Ankara (the daughter).
She had done it to honour her father's legacy because although she had only met him after her mother's death she had still come to love him.
Not that it had been easy with Lillian being so unwelcoming and Lex being so unapologetically arrogant.
She understood better now that she was older.
Lillian hadn't despised her per se, she had hated her for being the living proof of her husband's indiscretion and Lena couldn't fault her for that because she wouldn't have been happy either, had she been in Lillian's shoes.

Their relationship was far from perfect but these days things between her and her stepmother were amicably for the most part.
Her brother was a different story though.
Not because they hated each other, they had become something akin to friends over time, but because of her brother's history with violence and drugs and her mother's unwillingness to address either because Lex could do no wrong.

The dog's joyful bark pulled Lena from.her thoughts only to catch sight of a blonde woman heading towards them, stumbling over her own two feet.
She seemed to be completely flustered if her reddened cheeks were anything to go by.

This better be a joke!
They couldn't be serious.
That woman could barely walk straight without falling.

No.
No, no, no.
If her life depended on that woman she might as well shoot herself.

"Miss Luthor, meet my sister and your new bodyguard...Kara Danvers."

Chapter Text

"The core is unstable! Krypton cannot sustain us with that much energy for long. Your inventions will get us all killed," Astra warned but Zor - El did not want to hear it.

He only shook his head, "Nonsense. It was nothing but an earthquake. With all due respect, General, you are part of the Defense Gild. Leave the science to the ones who know what they are talking about."

Astra felt the urge to hit him straight in the face but what good would it do? He would have her arrested, sister - in - law or not, and she would not be able to accomplish anything, so she turned around and left without another word.
She had been a member of the Science Guild for fifteen years before she had married Non and had joined the Defense Guild to be with her husband.

Krypton was doomed, she was sure of it.
Astra was trying to come up with a strategy while she crossed the Great Hall of the Sun Palace when she felt the beginning of another earthquake and her eyes grew wide in horror.

It was too soon. She had hoped that they would have more time but she must have miscalculated.

Astra knew that she should try to find a place to hide safely but she had to find her sister. Zor - El might be too far gone, too obsessed with his unrealistic visions, but Alura would see reason. She would listen, she had to.

They were running out of time, so they would have to act quickly. To save Ankara.
She was the only thing that mattered.
Ankara was the best of them and Astra loved her as if she were her own. Her niece was destined for greatness, she believed in that.

Ankara had to be brought to safety, no matter the cost. Astra would gladly pay with her own life if it meant that Ankara got away.
And so she ran while buildings started to crumble and debris fell around her but Astra did not care, Ankara's face the only thing she could see.

Krypton: A planet on fire
by L. K. Luthor

 

"Kara?," Alex asked carefully when her sister didn't say anything, a slightly amused smile on her face.

"Right, yeah," Kara pushed her glasses up her nose awkwardly, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Luthor. I put up some surveillance cameras and checked the premises but nothing seems amiss."

Cameras? She really had to talk to Veronica.
"Thank you? Miss Danvers."

"It's Kara."
The blonde blushed even more, if that was even possible.
She wore a dark blue body suit and Lena could tell that she had to be in great shape. It was something at least, she mused.

"Help me unload the car?," Alex cut in, looking at her sister. She only got a nod in return.

Lena watched their interaction with interest because she realized that they communicated wordlessly and she longed for a connection like that, more than anything.
When Kara walked past her she stumbled once more and Lena wasn't sure what to make of the woman's behaviour.

"Krypto, stay. Guard."

The dog's name was Krypto?!
Lena's eyes went wide in utter confusion and she wrestled her phone out of her bag hectically.
The dog was sitting next to her like a statue and she had to admit that she was beginning to feel a little uneasy.

She pushed the call button and started rambling as soon as the call connected and she heard Veronica's voice on the other end of the line.

"Is this a joke, V? Why didn't you tell me that Alex Danvers is not my bodyguard and that you let a stranger into my home. She's incompetent! Every time she walks she stumbles and almost falls flat on her face. She's... she's a stalker or something. Her dog's name is Krypto for heaven's sake!"

Veronica's amused chuckle irritated Lena even more and she was about to protest but got interrupted by her agent before she could say another word.

"Lena darling, breathe. Kara Danvers is not some crazy stalker. Is she a fan of your work? Yes, she is. And she told me that, upfront. You know the saying. Don't judge a book by it's cover. There's a lot more to Kara Danvers than you know. Maybe she'll tell you one day. But I promise you...she is very capable of protecting you."

Lena wasn't sure what to make of her agent's words.
She trusted Veronica more than anyone but she still wasn't convinced.

"You have to give her a chance, Lena. Talk to her, get to know her. You'll like her, I'm sure of it," Veronica added when Lena stayed quiet.

"Okay, fine. But if her clumsy ways keep me from writing don't blame me!," Lena fired back in the end, for lack of anything else to say.

Veronica laughed out loud, "Duly noted. I gotta go, darling. I've got work to do. But I'll check in later. Be safe and happy writing."
-----------------------------

Alex said good bye after all of the luggage was inside because she had to return to National City which left Lena alone with Kara Danvers and her dog.

Lena was sitting on the couch in the living room, the dog resting by her feet while Kara was making tea in the kitchen.
Lena was wondering about sleeping arrangements at the moment because the house wasn't that big.
It was more like a cottage with a large garden that shielded the property.
Not that there was a need for it because the next house was a couple of miles away.

The thing was that the house had only one bedroom because Lena had turned her childhood room into her office/writing room.
And there was no way she would share her bedroom with Kara Danvers, come hell or high water.

Lena was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn't even realize that Kara had returned from the kitchen and was sitting in a chair opposite of her, watching her.

It was only when Kara poured the tea into the two waiting mugs and spilled it that Lena finally registered her presence.

"I'm sorry," Kara jumped up and dashed off into the kitchen to retrieve a kitchen towel and clean the table frantically. When she was done she sat back down, flustered once more, fiddling with her glasses while Lena observed her every motion.

"My dog will stay with you during the nights," Kara said after a couple of minutes of uncomfortable silence, "I'll sleep out here in the living room."

Lena sighed in relief but felt guilty at the same time, "I can have a bed delivered for you. We can put it up in my office."

Kara shook her head, "That won't be necessary, Miss Luthor. The couch is fine. I've slept in worse places, believe me. Compared to those your couch is heaven."

The statement sent Lena's mind reeling. Where in God's name had Kara slept?

"Have you told anyone that you are here? Or that you would go to Ireland?," Kara asked and Lena tilted her head curiously, "No. Not yet. I was planning on calling my best friend and my mother though. Why? Shouldn't I do that?"

"I'd prefer it if you wouldn't tell anyone unless you really have to. We don't know yet what we are facing or who's after you, so," Kara tried to explain but Lena interrupted her, "What are you saying? That I can't trust my family, my friends? If I can't trust them...who can I trust?"

Kara took a deep breath, "You can trust me."

Lena chuckled bitterly, "Of course. I hardly trust anyone to begin with and you think I'd trust you over the people I've known my whole life? I think not."

"Miss Luthor..."

"No! I didn't ask for any of this. I don't know you. I've seen you stumble and stammer more times than I care to admit which isn't all that reassuring, I tell you. I'm still not sure that you aren't some stalker, no matter what my agent says. I mean you've got a dog named Krypto," Lena glared at Kara in challenge who got up from the couch wordlessly.

Lena watched her disappear in her office for a moment before Kara returned with a black box.
When she opened it Lena caught sight of two black bracelets that looked almost like smart watched and another black clip that Kara put on her dog's collar before she put one of the bracelets around her own wrist.

She held the second one out to Lena, still not speaking, and gestured for her to take it.

Lena was irritated, beyond irritated really, but took the bracelet and put it on because she wasn't sure what else to do.
Kara pulled out her phone and typed around until Lena heard a beeping sound coming from her front door.

"The security system is now activated. Those bracelets register with the system and recognize you. So you can move around freely. Same goes for me and Krypto. If anyone enters without it an alarm will go off. The bracelets are waterproof and you shouldn't take it off. If you do an alarm will go off. You tap on the display and it sends an emergency signal to my phone in case you find yourself in trouble. It also lets me know your coordinates in case we get separated," Kara rattled off, "If you want to go somewhere, do anything, need anything...just say a word and I'll help. Otherwise you won't notice me."

"Miss Danvers..."

"Kara."

"Kara. I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

"It's s fine. And you were right, Miss Luthor. This is a serious situation. We are not here for a fun vacation or to make friends. I've got a job to do and from what your agent tells me...you have a book to write."
---------------------------

Kara's dismissal had bugged Lena more than she cared to admit.
She had spent the whole afternoon in her bedroom, trying to write but hadn't managed to scribble down more than a few words.
Lena was well aware that she had created a bit of a mess by accusing Kara so thoughtlessly, especially since Veronica had warned her not to be so quick to judge. And now she had no idea how to fix things with her bodyguard but she had to because the silence was unbearable and if she had to share her house, her safe haven, with someone Lena at least wanted to be somewhat comfortable.

A hesitant knock on her door pulled Lena out of her thoughts, "Do come in."

The door opened to reveal Kara's head, "Dinner is ready. Do you need help, Miss Luthor?"

Lena shook her head, "No, I'm good. I'll be right out."

"Very well."
--------------------------

Lena cursed herself for not accepting Kara's help because she could only walk at a snail's pace with her crutches and her arms were on fire by now.
It wasn't that far from her bedroom to the kitchen, just down the corridor and through the living room, but she was sore and her whole body hurt from her not so soft landing on concrete after the explosion.

When she finally arrived in the living room she was ready to let herself fall onto the couch instead of going to the kitchen but she had a dinner table, albeit small, in the kitchen and she disliked eating in the living room, so she struggled on.

Unfortunately her right crutch got tangled in the rug under the coffee table and she stumbled forward, dropping the crutch in the process.
Lena knew she wouldn't be able to keep her balance as she was swaying heavily and she tried to mentally prepare for the fall and the pain that would follow.
But then she saw Kara sprint out of the kitchen and jumped over the couch in a mad dash, catching her before she could fall over and probably injure herself even more.

Lena found herself in Kara's arms, a strong and toned body steadying her and she found herself to be breathless.

Kara pulled back a bit, eyes wide, expression worries, "Miss Luthor, are you alright?"

"F-fine," Lena stammered out helplessly, "Thank you."
-----------------------------

Kara had helped her into the kitchen after the incident and they had eaten dinner in silence.
It had been a simple pasta dish, but delicious all the same, and Lena had appreciated that Kara had cooked for her.

"I can help you to build some strength in your arms if you want," Kara said while she cleared the table, "Might help with walking on crutches."

"I'd appreciate that," Lena admitted, "Thank you."

Kara brought the wheelchair around a moment later, "Let me get you to the bathroom so you can get changed and ready for bed. You look exhausted."
----------------------------
Kara had taken Krypto outside to check the premises while Lena had gotten changed and ready for bed in the bathroom.
Kara had been back in time to escort her to her room and Lena was grateful because she was exhausted to the bone.

She was trying to get comfortable in her bed under Kara's watchful gaze.
Her bodyguard was leaning against the doorframe, her dog by her side and Lena felt relief wash over her for the first time since meeting Kara.

Ever since Lena had seen Kara jump over the couch so effortlessly she had come to the realisation that there really had to be much more to Kara Danvers than met the eye.

She watched Kara pet her dog's head lovingly for a moment before she turned serious, "Krypto, guard."

The dog walked over to the bed and got into a laying position immediately.

"Good night, Miss Luthor. If you need anything, anything at all, don't hesitate to let me know."

Kara was about to turn around and leave when Lena finally found her voice, "Kara, I really am sorry about what I said earlier."

"Apology accepted, Miss Luthor."

"Lena. If I get to call you Kara, it's only fair," Lena offered with a small smile.

"Lena it is," Kara nodded in acknowledgement, "Good night, Lena."

"Good night, Kara."

This time Kara did turn around but stopped once more, "I didn't name him. My dog I mean. The shelter staff did. But it was his name that made me adopt him."
And then she closed the door behind her and left Lena to her thoughts.

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

Chapter Text

"Are you sure?," Alura's eyes were wide in horror and disbelief, visibly fighting tears.

"I have no doubt, sister. Krypton is dying. You have to get Ankara, so we can get her to safety," Astra urged her on. There was no time to lose.

Desperation was written all over Alura's face, "How? There's nowhere to go."

Astra grabbed her sister's hand and squeezed it encouragingly before she instructed, "Meet me at the Sun Gate in two hours. I'll take care of the rest."
----------------------------------

Astra and Alura were headed towards the Solar Bridge, each of them holding one of Ankara's hands, dragging the frantic girl along.

Astra's mind was racing.
She had knocked out her husband at the destroyed airship hangar with a taser because he had wanted to save himself instead of anyone else.
All means of transportation had been shattered during the last earthquake when walls and roofs had crumbled and the only pod left was hidden under the bridge - for emergencies.
They were all doomed, Astra knew that, but she didn't care.
Ankara would survive and nothing else mattered.

Explosions could be heard in the distance which only spurred Astra on and she jumped forward, reaching the pod only moments later.

She couldn't remember the security code that would open the pod, causing Astra to curse loudly. She had to concentrate but she didn't know how. There was so much at stake and everything depended on her, Ankara's future was in her hands. She couldn't fail her.

When she turned around she caught sight of Alura and Ankara hugging each other close, both of them crying like she had never seen anyone cry before.
She had to remember the damn code.
And then she did.

Typing the numbers in quickly Astra watched the pod open impatiently and once she had access to the board computer she focused on an escape route for her niece. Adding coordinates and destination was something she could do blindfolded and yet Astra took her time to ensure that she wouldn't send Ankara off to a fate worse than Krypton's.
They had only one shot at this, they couldn't afford to make any mistakes.

Once everything was set up she turned around again, "Ankara, it's time. Get in the pod, now!"
Her voice left no room for discussion and yet Astra's heart broke at the thought that she would never see her niece again.

She watched Alura pull away and step back, watched Ankara come closer while tears streamed down her niece's face.
Astra helped her into the pod and get buckled in before she grabbed Ankara's hands tightly.
There was so much she wanted to say but not nearly enough time.
An explosion at the Sun Palace only underlined that.

"I'm so proud of you, my precious girl. I love you so much," was all Astra managed to rasp out before she pushed the start button on the display which caused the engine to come to life.
Ankara didn't want to let go of her hands and Astra waiting until the very last second of the pod closing before she pulled away and retreated to her sister's sight.

They watched the pod rise into the sky while flames ate away at their home as Krypton burned from the inside out.
It was only when the pod disappeared on the horizon that Alura finally spoke, "Where did you send her?"

Astra gave her sister a small, yet hopeful smile, "To Earth."

Krypton: A planet on fire
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena had slept better than she had anticipated but as soon as she woke up her mood turned sour.
It was pouring outside, the heavy rain drumming against the windows the first thing she heard while she blinked her eyes open.
Her plans to visit the Cliffs of Moher had gone down the drain before the day had even started and the realization had put a damper on an already challenging situation.
There was no way that Kara would take her to the cliffs in this weather, not that there would be a point in going and she had to worry about her cast too.

Krypto was watching her like a hawk and Lena still wasn't sure whether to be comforted or intimidated by his presence but she would have to worry about that later because she needed to pee desperately and getting to the bathroom without falling was what she would focus on for now.
-------------------------------

Lena had done her business, changed into a pair of black sweatpants and her favourite forest green hoodie and by the time she hobbles into the living room, using her crutches there was a fire burning in the fire place.
Kara must have lit it and Lena had to admit she appreciated the woman's thoughtfulness.

She heard the door open and the dog strutting inside, followed by heavy footsteps caused by what Lena assumed to be Kara's combat boots. She had caught sight of them by the door yesterday and they had reminded her of military footwear, just fancier, and probably even more durable.

Krypto shook himself as soon as he stopped on the living room, sending water flying everywhere and Lena screeched in surprise.

"Krypto, down," Kara came into view, looking like a drenched rat, "I'm sorry."

Lena looked at the dog, who was resting next to the fireplace, head between his paws, looking as guilty as they come, "It's fine, don't worry."

Kara nodded, "I'll go change real quick and then I'll make you breakfast. Be right back."
---------------------------------

Kara returned a few minutes later, hair towel dry, wearing black yoga pants and a navy blue tank top and Lena caught a glimpse of her muscled arms.

Well...she was kind of impressed. Maybe even a little envious.
Kara wouldn't have a problem using crutches, Lena mused while the woman in question stood at the stove, focused on cooking breakfast.

Lena sent a couple of text messages to her friends and stepmother before she called Veronica to check in. She was well aware that it was in the middle of the night in National City but Lena couldn't care less because her agent had gotten her into this bodyguard disaster, so the least she could do was to share Lena's burden.
She had been careful not to mention to anyone where she was although Lena was fairly certain that her closest friends and Lillian would at least suspect that she had fled to Ireland. And if they hadn't come up with the idea yet they would soon enough.

They ate breakfast in silence and Lena wasn't sure whether she appreciated the quiet or not.
If Lena was really honest there were a few questions she was dying to ask but she didn't dare speak. She wasn't sure why that was but Kara seemed awfully serious and Lena thought it best not to bother her.
Later. She would try to talk to her later. For now she would enjoy the silence.

Only the silence lasted for three full days.
Kara cooked, Kara walked the dog, Kara exercised like she was training for the iron man and she even showed Lena some exercises to improve her upper body strength but other than that she didn't talk.
The weather had been quite unforgiving with constant rain and awful storms which had left Lena stuck at the house.
It had done nothing for her writing.

While Kara had run the household, taken care of Lena and Krypto, read at least two books aside from the exercising and the obvious plotting and strategizing in case of an unforeseen emergency, Lena had written five sentences of which she had deleted four and a half.

Nothing was working for her and Lena was going steer crazy.
They had just finished dinner, a delicious chicken curry, and Kara was busy cleaning the kitchen when Lena decided that she was done with the silence.

Yes, silence could provide a very unique quality of life but not in this particular situation. Right now all it did was stress Lena out even more.

"Kara?," Lena had to lean against the doorframe to stay on her feet because she was exhausted from hobbling around in her room for the last twenty minutes before she had made up her mind and worked up the courage to go through with it.

"Lena!," Kara turned around immediately, her expression worried, "Do you need anything? Did something happen?"

"No, no. Everything is fine," Lena tried to sound reassuring, "I just thought...maybe. Maybe we could talk?"

If Kara was surprised she didn't show. She helped Lena to get seated on the couch before she added some more wood to the fire and then she took a seat as well, a safe distance away from Lena.

"What do you want to talk about?"
What do you wanna know?

"I...what did you mean when," Lena tried to find the right words because she didn't want to sound accusing again. Kara wasn't the enemy, she had come to understand that.
"You said you got Krypto because of his name and I was wondering why."

The dog had instantly perked up and was looking at Lena expectantly, tail wagging.
"Is he allowed on the couch?," Lena asked and Kara nodded, "I just didn't know whether you'd appreciate it or not. It's your house after all."

Lena patted the couch and Krypto caught on instantly, jumping up and lying down between the two of them, resting his head on Lena's thigh who started to pet his head immediately.

Kara laughed, "Oh, I see how it is. Traitor."

Lena chuckled and blushed before Kara cleared her throat, "I'm not some stalkerish fan, I swear. But your books...they helped me in a way. Reading about Ankara's struggles helped me deal with my own. It gave me hope that one day I'd fit in as well."

Lena looked at Kara in utter confusion, causing her bodyguard to sigh heavily, "I grew up in Iraq. My parents worked for the embassy. They died when I was thirteen. In a fire. Jeremiah, Alex' father, he dragged me out of the house at the last minute. And then my whole world burned to the ground before my very eyes. And there was nothing I could do. I love Alex and her parents, I owe them everything...and yet. Life has never felt right again ever since that day."

"Kara, I'm so sorry," Lena didn't know what else to say. Her mind was reeling from what she had just learned.
She might not know Kara well but Lena knew enough to realize how kind and caring she was. How driven.
She had watched Kara exercise more than once, completely mesmerized by the precision of her every move.

"It was hard to settle into a new life after Jeremiah brought me to the States. I did know the language but I hadn't spoken English all that much because my parents had been quite busy most of the time and everyone else had spoken Arabic to me. I had grown up in a complete different culture and going from Bagdad to Midvale had been challenging for me. I hadn't just lost my parents, my home, everything and everyone I had known for all of my life, I also had to get used to a different everything and it was hard. I went to school but I kept to myself. I barely spoke, I had no friends. Alex wasn't too happy about me being there at first but we became inseparable eventually. It was only when I started reading your books...Eliza gave me the first one for my twenty-first birthday and she wasn't sure if it wouldn't be too much. I read them all. Your books I mean. Because I felt comforted, understood."

Lena was rendered speechlessness. She knew that people loved her books but hearing how her writing had such a huge impact on someone, well, it was quite humbling. And at the same time her heart broke for Kara because she knew how hard it was to lose your whole world.

"We have that in common, don't we?," Kara asked, "Losing our homes, our parents. Having to settle into a different life. Settling for a different future."

It dawned on Lena how right Kara was.
It had taken her years before she had revealed in an interview what had inspired her to write her books and how the death of her mother and eventually her father had impacted her.
She had felt so alone, caught in the dark, and here she was now with a woman who had gone through the same, just worse, and Lena knew what kind of comfort it was that Kara had been talking about.

She had been there for Kara for years, unbeknownst to her, and now Kara was there for her as well.
Neither of them alone anymore.

"I was looking for a dog when I saw Krypto's picture on the shelter's website. As soon as I saw his name I knew I had to have him," Kara petted her dog's back lovingly, "Best decision of my life."

The dog barked in agreement.

Chapter Text

Ankara shot up in bed, hand clutched to her chest, trying to get her heavy breathing under control.
Two months on earth and the nightmares kept getting worse.
Mangled and burned bodies, the lifeless eyes of her mother, the death of aunt Astra and her father, Krypton's destruction - all of it was haunting her night by night.

Edith had called it survivor's guilt but it was so much more than that.
Why had they chosen her?
Why had Astra been so convinced that she was destined for greatness?
There was nothing special about her.

Her father had once told her while standing on the Sun Terrace that Krypton was the future. Ankara could remember it as if it would have happened only yesterday when it really had been about four years ago.
Where had her father gone so wrong?
He had been the smartest man she had ever known and she had been so proud to be his daughter. She still was and she would always be.

Ankara slid out of bed as quietly as she could manage because she didn't want to wake Alyona. Her foster sister wasn't too keen on having her around anyway and the fact that they had to share a room didn't help the matter either.

She snuck out onto the balcony and stared into the dark sky with its glittering stars longingly.
She missed her parents and her aunt. Her friends. She missed her home.
The thought that all of it was gone almost too much to bear.

Jonathan Duncan, a scientist, had found her pod in the backyard of the farm he and his wife Edith were living on, together with their sixteen - year - old daughter.
The farm had once belonged to Edith's parents and they had moved there once Alyona had been born because it was right at the outskirts of Metropolis. Far away from the city to live in peace and close enough to go to work in the city.
The Duncans both were scientists who worked for Van L - Corp, one of the biggest biotechnology corporations in the country.

Edith had patiently explained rules and customs to Ankara once she had grasped the basic concept of the language. Ankara had studied hard and improved every day since and she was unbelievably grateful to the Duncans that they had opened their home to her but Ankara longed for Krypton, longed for her home.
She had lost so much, had lost everything really, only to end up on an alien - fearing planet. She had to hide her identity and she wasn't allowed to leave the house by herself.
Whenever the Duncans took her somewhere she was introduced as Alyona's cousin from Europe.
Not that it mattered what they told people because Ankara didn't dare to talk to anyone anyway for fear of revealing her secret.
Alyona's friends thought she was weird because of it and that only made matters worse.

Senator Lucius Van Lothringen had only recently thrown his support behind a bill that would require all aliens to be marked as such and Ankara was scared out of her mind.
The Duncans would get in trouble if anyone found out that they had provided shelter for an alien, she was sure of it. Especially because the senator's wife, Lavinia Van Lothringen, was Edith's and Jonathan's boss and she was quite vocal about sharing her husband's views.
Edith had told her not to worry but Ankara knew better.
The last person who had told her that had been her father and then Krypton had gone up in flames only a couple of days later.

Astra had sent her to Earth on purpose, Ankara was sure of it.
But why?
What had her aunt been thinking?

The last daughter of Krypton: Damnation
by L. K. Luthor

 

Maybe it was the fact that they had something rather tragic in common or maybe Lena simply was that lonely (or maybe she was more scared than she has as willing to admit; it was probably all of the above) but ever since their conversation last night Lena felt so incredibly close to Kara in a way she had never felt with anyone else.

Lena wasn't quite sure what to make of it or what was happening, but what she did know was that she felt comforted by Kara's presence in a way she hadn't expected. Then again she hadn't even known it to be possible.
--------------------------

Lena had taken her time to get up and ready the next morning.
Mainly because there had been a texts from Lilian, Sam and Jack to answer and she had called Veronica again, time zones be damned, to tell her that she was struggling with writing.
There was no point in lying because deadlines were deadlines and she was fairly certain she wouldn't make this one. She had too much on her mind and she was also in pain and sore and healing.

Veronica had told her to take it easy, that she had already arranged for the deadline to be pushed back to three months instead of two and that maybe Lena should simply take a bit of a breather and do something other than write for a change.

Now that she was standing in the living room Lena realized that neither Kara nor Krypto were inside and she hobbled to the back door on her crutches and wrangled the door open while she cursed under her breath.
She almost fell but managed to balance herself out at the last moment but stopped dead in her tracks only a moment later.

Kara was doing target practice from what she could tell. Throwing knifes, shooting at some obstacles she had put up with a gun, using a silencer considering that Lena could barely heard the shots that were fired.
She watched Kara run, jump and aim, yelling commands for Krypto who followed her every word like a robot and Lena was in complete awe.
When she had first met Kara she hadn't thought much of her but now that she saw up close what Kara was truly capable of Lena had to admit that Alex had been right - she was in the best hands.

Krypto barked in excitement as soon as his exercise was over and he spotted her, dashing towards her with a wagging tail and Kara blushed visibly, "Sorry, I forgot the time. I just wanted to get some training in now the weather is finally better. I'll be right in to make breakfast. I just want to put my things away first."

"It's fine. Take your time," Lena answered with a reassuring smile before she move forward. She wasn't sure what had possessed her to try to get down the stairs but before she knew it she had already mastered to go down three steps and only two left. The only problem was that she was exhausted and her arms were getting tired and she barely made the next step.
Lena knew she would fall, she just knew but before she could Kara was there and swept her off her feet.
Literally.

Kara was holding her bridal style, breathless from exercise and the sprint she had to make to catch Lena but her grip was firm and she stood unwaveringly and Lena was at a loss for words once more.

Worried blue eyes sparkled in the morning light and they reminded Lena so much of the unruly sea that she felt herself drowning in them.

"You need to be more careful", Kara reprimanded but didn't make an attempt to let go of Lena who blushed furiously, "Huh?"

She hadn't really paid attention to what Kara had said, too mesmerized by Kara's eyes, by her strength, by their closeness, and now she felt like an idiot.

"Lena," Kara sighed heavily, "Someone is out there to kill you. Please, don't make my life harder by being a threat to yourself as well just because you have a tendency to overdo it."

"Sorry," Lena felt herself blush even more and she hid her face against Kara's shoulder in embarrassment.

"It's okay. Just don't do it again," Kara replied, "Can you make it up the stairs by yourself or do you need help?"

Lena pulled back a little and pouted, putting her best puppy dog eyes expression on display, "Carry me?"

She couldn't even remember when she had felt comfortable enough to act so childish the last time but Kara brought it out in her. She brought out that carefree part of Lena, the part where she allowed herself to let her guard down because she knew that Kara would protect her. And not just because she was her bodyguard, no.
She might have doubted her before but ever since their conversation last night about how much Lena's books meant to Kara, ever since that moment Lena knew.
She didn't know why but she did.
Kara would always protect her.

An amused chuckle pulled Lena out of her thoughts and she felt herself blush once more, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

Kara rolled her eyes dramatically, "I said just this once because the stairs are actually a great exercise."

Lena beamed at her, "Thank you."

"You're lucky you're injured," Kara joked, "And that I still need you to finish your book."

"Oh, I see how it is," Lena laughed while Kara carefully carried her back inside, her hold on Lena never wavering.

Kara put Lena on the couch, "Well, you're also cute."
She said it and winked at Lena before she went back outside to retrieve the crutches.

Lena sat on the couch, a feeling of warmth spreading in her chest.
What the hell was going on here?
--------------------------

"Is there any chance to talk you into taking me for a drive?," Lena asked over breakfast and Kara eyed her curiously, "That depends. If you want to go into the city then no. The risk of someone recognizing you is way too high."

"No, nothing like that. I'd like to go to the Cliffs of Moher. I know it's a bit of a drive and it's a touristy area but that could work in our favour, no. I could wear a hoodie and a woolen hat or something. We could easily blend in with all the other tourists. Plus I know some areas that aren't too crowded. And believe me...that view...distracts everyone," Lena stated her arguments.

Kara seemed to contemplate it for a minute before she nodded, "Alright. We can do. But we take the wheelchair and you listen to me. If I have the feeling that something is wrong we go right away."

"Deal."
--------------------------------

Lena had taken her notebook with her and had scribbled down some ideas, suddenly inspired but at the same time she realized once more that she had it all wrong.
The last book of the Girl of Steel - trilogy turned out to be a riddle she hadn't been able to solve yet. A puzzle that was still blurry in her mind, the big picture not ready to be revealed.
-------------------------------

Kara had been focused on the road and hadn't bothered her at all during the drive which Lena had appreciated immensely.

Now that Kara had parked the jeep and Lena was sitting in her wheelchair, a blanket coverings her legs and a hoodie shielding her face from view, at least partially, Lena could barely contain her excitement.
She hadn't been at the Cliffs in years and Lena was so grateful that Kara had agreed to take her because no place made her feel closer to her mother other than the house.

They had spent many afternoons sitting there, enjoying the view, her mother had often drawn or painted and Lena had scribbled around. They had held picknicks and had gone for long walks, always just the two of them.
These days Lena could barely remember her mother's face but she would never forget her mother's laughter.
She had always been so full of life.
Until that fateful day her beautiful smile had been drowned by the sea.

A single tear escaped Lena's eye but before she could make an attempt to wipe it away Kara cupped her cheek and did it for her.
Kara's touch was so gentle that Lena wasn't even sure that it had happened but when she met Kara's worried gaze she knew she hadn't fantasized.

"Lena, are you alright?," Kara crouched down even more and she tried to reply with a smile that had to be more of a grimace, "I'm good. Just memories, you know?"

Kara simply nodded, "I do."

Lena reached out and squeezed Kara's hand because she felt so incredibly grateful.
There was no need for explanations because Kara did know.
They shared that kind of pain and Lena was so relieved that she didn't have to carry that burden alone anymore because for the first time in her life she felt truly understood.
------------------------------

"My mother drowned. We were at the beach, not far from the house and she went swimming while I was drawing in the sand. Two weeks before my seventh birthday. I heard her call my name and I saw her waving her arms. So I waved back. But she kept waving and it dawned on me that something wasn't quite right. I wanted to get to her but I wasn't a good swimmer and the waves were so high...and she was so far from the shore," Lena tried to hold back a sob, "I screamed for help but there was no one. And then she was gone."

She wasn't sure why she told Kara but as soon as they got into the car Lena had felt like she needed her to know.
They had spent over two hours at a secluded area and nobody had bothered them while they had soaked up some sun.
They had sat on silence for the most part and yet they had said so much.
Words were simply not needed for Lena and Kara to communicate.

Kara had talked her into taking some selfies to make it look like they were tourists which had caused both of them to goof around, heads covered by hoodies and they had laughed so much.
God, Lena wasn't sure when she had laughed like that before. She couldn't even remember ever laughing like that.

But now, in the safety of her Jeep, Lena felt the need to reveal her secrets. At least some of them.
She felt Kara squeeze her hand, "It's not your fault, Lena. There was nothing you could have done. You were only a child."

Rationally Lena knew that, of course she knew that. But there was nothing rational about guilt.

So were you.
Lena didn't have to say it. Kara knew it anyway and she nodded in acknowledgement and then she started the car and drove off, while she kept checking the mirrors to make sure no one followed them.

Lena was quiet for a while because she needed time to process. She wasn't herself around Kara, that much was certain. Usually she was way more closed off and guarded. She wasn't known to goof around either. Jack and Sam kept telling her that she was way too serious. Well, they had already told her that when she had been still a teenager.
But things with Kara were somehow different, weren't they?
Yes, they had something in common, they shared a very specific kind of pain but it was more than that. It had to be.
Lena just couldn't put her finger on what it was yet.

Something drew her to Kara like a moth was drawn to the flame and she would figure out what it was. She only needed some time. And some answers
And so she turned to look at Kara, who was focused on driving as usual, "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"Why did you become a bodyguard?"

Chapter Text


Seven months.
Seven months since she had fled Krypton and the pain was still there.
The nightmares were still haunting her.

Ankara found herself on the balcony once more, yearning for a home that no longer existed.
It had become something akin to a daily routine. As soon as everyone else was asleep she would sneak outside to be alone with her thoughts for a while. Just her thoughts and the sky where Krypton used to be, in a galaxy far away.

Winter had come early in Midvale and Ankara remembered her first snowfall somewhat fondly. Alyona had screeched in excitement and she had almost jumped out of her skin because she had been so startled but then her foster sister had dragged her outside into the cold where snowflakes had been dancing in the air and for a moment Ankara had forgotten the pain. 
For a moment it had felt as if they were real sisters, as if they were a real family.
It had only lasted until Alyona's friends had shown up before Ankara had been back to being the odd one out. It had been nice nonetheless. It might have only been a short break from her misery but a break all the same and it mattered to Ankara. More than Alyona would ever know.

She had learned the language a lot better over the last couple of months. Edith and Jonathan had decided early on that it would be safer to homeschool her but that meant that Alyona had to be homeschooled as well and Ankara knew that her foster sister despised her for it. There was nothing they could have done though because it would have been too suspicious to have Alyona go to school while they would teach Ankara at home.
Her intelligence was the other thing that kept causing issues.
Alyona had always been the best student around but Ankara beat her left and right these days. She didn't do it on purpose, it simply had to do with the fact that Krypton had been so much more advanced than Earth.
And yet it had all gone so horribly wrong for them.

Metropolis had recently passed the feared bill that aliens had to be marked as such. Luckily for Ankara, they hadn't followed Lucius Van Lothringen's plea completely and it was done to aliens who had committed crimes only. So as long as she wouldn't get a criminal record she would be fine but Ankara was scared, all the same, terrified even.
The "good" thing about being Kryptonian was that they looked human while other species so clearly didn't. And yet there had to be a difference between humans and Kryptonians, right?

Ankara could tell that lately she grew stronger somehow or maybe she only imagined things. Maybe she was going crazy because she didn't get much sleep at night. She heard the door creak open and was already preparing to apologize to Edith or Jonathan for sneaking outside past her bedtime when she came face to face with Alyona who gave her a timid smile, "Nightmare?"

Ankara was so caught off guard that she could only nod and she watched in fascination how Alyona took her hand and squeezed it gently, "I'm sorry. It has to be so hard to...to lose everything."

When Ankara didn't speak because she was too busy holding back tears Alyona added, "I'm sorry for being such a coward sometimes. I know none of this is your fault and that I should be nicer to you...but it's hard for me too...because my life has changed as well."

Ankara dropped her head in shame, feeling the guilt of having destroyed someone else's life, "I wish I wouldn't have to be here. You could go back to living your life and I would be home...and Krypton would still be there. My family would still be alive. You have no idea how much I wish. But I have nowhere to go."

She allowed her tears to fall then because she was so tired of being strong when she felt like falling apart all the time.
Alyona pulled her into a hug all of a sudden and held her close, "I know and I'm sorry. I've been incredibly selfish. I don't know what I would do if our roles were reversed."

It took Ankara a moment to calm down enough to pull back, "It's fine. I know it's hard for you too."

Alyona stepped back and held out her hand, "Well, let's try something different. Friends?"

Ankara took the offered hand after a moment's hesitation and shook it, a small smile blooming on her face, "Friends."

It was the moment her life changed for the second time in seven months, only this time it changed for the better.

The last daughter of Krypton: Damnation
by L. K. Luthor

 

Kara shrugged, "It kinda happened."

Lena chuckled in amusement, "Sure. Total accident that you decided to put your life on the line for anyone who is willing to pay you for it."

"Well," Kara blushed, "When you put it like that..."

"If you don't want to tell me," Lena started but Kara shook her head, "It's not a big secret or anything. It's just...it really. It kinda just happened."

Lena wasn't sure what to make of that answer and Kara sighed heavily, "It all began when Alex decided that she wanted to become a police officer when she was about sixteen. She became crazy obsessed with getting in shape and she started to shoot arrows, guns, crossbows, knives. You name it. And she started taking classes to train in different forms of martial arts. And Midvale being the small town that it is...well, I didn't have much to do and she needed a sparring partner."

"Obviously," Lena smiled because she could totally picture it.

"Alex became a police officer, of course. And she moved to National City to move her career along which left me alone in Midvale for two years and I kept training to pass the time. After I graduated I moved to National City as well because I wanted to go to college but it turned out rather quickly that it wasn't a good fit for me. Alex and I shared an apartment and they had this one case where they needed someone to go undercover to protect a witness. Alex wasn't keen on the idea but her partner convinced her. I did well and helped save the case. Their witness, a politician, made me an offer afterwards and that's how I got my first job."

"How did Alex take it?," Lena wanted to know and she saw Kara cringe, "Well, she wasn't happy, to say the least. And then she tried to convince me to go to the academy and join the police force. I did consider it but..."

"But?" Lena craned her neck, waiting for the rest of the story with bated breath.

"There was a drug raid and Alex's partner got killed because there was a mole at the station. She couldn't handle it and she quit. It was a rough time but we worked through it. We started training together again and well...now we both work as security details," Kara said as if it would be the easiest thing in the world.

"I'm so sorry," Lena felt horrible for what Kara and Alex had gone through.

Kara smiled, "It's fine. Alex made her peace with it in the end. She's even married to a cop now."

"Good for her, " Lena was glad that Kara's sister had managed to leave the negativity and the trauma behind and moved on, "Have you...have either of you ever..."

"Have we ever gotten injured on the job?" Kara offered and Lena nodded, too afraid to speak because she knew her voice would crack.

"Alex got shot in the leg once but it wasn't too bad. And I broke two ribs and my collarbone once. Usually, it's only minor cuts or bruises. We've never dealt with anything more serious than that and a lot of times we get hired by people who aren't even in danger. They just have the money to spare and they think it makes them look more important if they show up with a bodyguard," Kara answered truthfully and was glad when she heard Lena starting to breathe again.

"You could get seriously hurt this time," Lena said all of a sudden, "It was a rather close call the last time. If I hadn't stopped to talk to Veronica I could have...I mean...why would you put yourself in that kind of danger?"

"Because you need someone to protect you and I happen to be capable of doing just that. And if I die...I die. I could choke chewing gum or cross the street. That's life, Lena. I lost my family and you lost yours. You know how it feels to be helpless. When there's nothing you can do but watch. I couldn't protect them...but I can protect anyone who needs help now. I can protect you. I will," Kara sounded so convinced, so confident, it made Lena feel a little less frightened. At least for a moment.

"Which brings me to the question," Kara continued when Lena didn't say anything, "Do you have any idea who could be behind all this? A hunch, a gut feeling? Anything?"

"No," Lena cleared her throat, "I mean... there are always people who envy you and all that jazz when you are famous. But no one has ever threatened to kill me. It wasn't until last year when...when that car almost ran me over...and even then I didn't take it seriously."

"Can you tell me what happened?," Kara asked carefully but she could tell it was all too much for Lena at the moment, "Why don't we change topics for now and talk about this later when we are back at the house?"

Lena shot her a grateful smile, "So, what do you wanna talk about?"

Kara pretended to think about it for a moment, "What's your favourite song?"
---------------------------------------

Much to Kara's delight, they had learned that both of them actually liked N*Sync which had led to an absolutely embarrassing sing-along to their greatest hits.
Lena had been red as a tomato in the beginning but after a couple of minutes she had joined in on the fun as well, the world and all its drama forgotten for the moment.

Upon their return, Kara had taken Krypto outside for some exercise. She had contemplated taking him along to the Cliffs of Moher but had decided against it because her dog deserved some downtime to decompress and they would have stood out way more with the dog by her side because most tourists wouldn't drag a big German Shepherd along, now would they?
Lena had watched from the porch, sitting in a rocking chair that Kara had retrieved for her from her office. She was still fascinated by Kara Danvers and her dog and by how in sync the two of them were when they were running their routine.
It made Lena feel calmer, safer somehow. And at the same time, a feeling of uneasiness started to spread in her chest because she didn't know what was happening to her.

She felt so close to Kara, so drawn to her and Lena didn't know what to make of it. She wasn't used to making friends that easily. 
Were they friends?
Or was Kara simply nice to her because she was working for her? Or more like Veronica because it had been her agent who had hired Kara.
Was all of this real or was it just pretence so Lena would stay calm? 
Surely Kara wasn't that great of an actress or was she?
And if not, if it actually was real, what did it mean?

Lena was confused because she had never been much of a social butterfly what with being raised by the Luthors and now she wasn't sure what was going on. 
She tried to write down her thoughts, tried to write anything at all while Kara prepared dinner but to no avail.
Krypton and Ankara's fate were out of reach at the moment and so was her own sanity it seemed.
Maybe she should ask Kara but then again she was afraid of the answer.
What if Kara would laugh at her and tell her that she was nothing but a job. And why did it bother her so much that it was a possibility?

They ate in silence, the air as tense as Lena's shoulders, and of course, none of it went unnoticed by Kara Danvers.
Lena was fairly certain that Kara's observation skills were even better than her own and it unnerved her.

"Lena, are you alright?"
There it was again. That worried tone in Kara's voice was too damn sincere to be fake.

Lena cleared her throat, "I'm...fine."

"No, you are not," Kara replied dryly.
Oh, the gall of that woman.
"But it's okay if you don't want to talk about it."

Lena took a deep breath because she was relieved, right? Then again she was also aggravated because she wanted answers, needed answers.
What the hell was she supposed to do?

Kara started to clear the table before she could make up her mind and Lena hobbled over to the living room to take a seat on the couch before she huffed in annoyance.
Krypto jumped up and lay down beside her once more, his head in her lap and she started to run her fingers through his fur absentmindedly.

When Kara showed up in the living room she held two tumblers with whiskey in her hands and she offered one to Lena with an encouraging smile, "Liquid courage?"

Lena scoffed and raised her eyebrow in question, "Are you allowed to drink on the job?"

Kara smiled sheepishly, "Mine's ice tea."

"Of course," Lena laughed out loud, "You really do take your job seriously, don't you?"

"Always," Kara took a sip from her tumbler, "And I would never do anything to jeopardize your safety, Lena."

She blushed furiously, Lena was aware of that, but she tried to ignore it because why did she care so much about what Kara thought and did?
"Well, you might as well sit down for this conversation."

Kara nodded wordlessly and sat down in the armchair opposite Lena, waiting patiently for Lena to start talking.

"As I said...last summer...I was...I had dinner with my friend...Jack. Jack Spheer," Lena began and got interrupted right away.

"Jack Spheer as in Spheer industries?," Kara wanted to know, "And friend as in friend or boyfriend?"

"Is that important?"
Kara gave Lena a sympathetic smile, "Everything is important, Lena. Every single detail. I do realize you are a very private person and you might be uncomfortable sharing all this with me but I promise you...your secrets are safe with me. Veronica had me sign an NDA and even without that, I would never tell anyone. Unless it is for your safety."

"It's not that...I," Lena felt herself blush again, "I just. I'm not used to talking about these kinds of things with anyone but Sam."

"Sam Arias. Your best friend," Kara nodded, "And I get that. But we need to figure out what is going on here, Lena. And the more I know..."

"Okay," Lena nodded in understanding, "So, yes. That Jack Spheer. And he is my friend. We've been friends since high school. Sam dragged him along one day. We did date at some point but we realized rather quickly that we were better of as friends. No hard feelings. Jack keeps joking that I'm the sister he never had and I wish Lex would be more like him."

"Anyway. I was on my way home from dinner, crossing the street when this car headed towards me, definitely speeding. Jack must have seen what was happening because he pulled me back. We ended up tumbling to the ground and I thought surely it had to have been an accident. That somebody simply hadn't seen me or a drunk driver or something. Because why would anyone run me over on purpose, you know?" Lena looked at Kara expectantly.

"Yeah. It's not your first thought I guess...that someone wants to kill you," Kara took another sip of her drink before she placed the glass back on her knee, "Did you call the police? Did you see a driver? A license plate? Do you know anyone with a car like that? Can you tell me what model it was? And where exactly did that happen?"

Lena needed a moment to process all the questions before she could answer, "It happened right outside of Noonan's. Where you cross over to the business district. I was headed towards CatCo. I live in the building right next to it. I know we should have called the police but I didn't because as I said..."

"You thought it was an accident," Kara finished the sentence, "What about the car?"

Lena thought about it for a moment, trying to recall the incident, "It was a pick-up truck. I don't know about the colour because it was already dark outside. Black, a dark blue or a darker green maybe. And no, I don't know anyone with a car like that."

"Okay. That's good. Do you, by any chance, remember the day? Or the time?" Kara wanted to know.

"August 7. I remember because it was Jack's birthday. That's why we met up, to begin with. He had been crazy busy with work and I had been away for a while because of my last book tour but I made sure to be back in town for that. We left Noonan's around eleven I think", Lena answered quickly. Now that she thought about it she remembered it quite clearly. Never in her life would she have thought that someone had tried to kill her that day. But looking back now she realized how careless she had been.

"Do you mind if I share this information with Alex? So maybe they can do some digging?" Kara asked carefully because she was well aware that Lena was struggling with all of this.

"No, of course not. If you think it could help."
Lena gulped down half of her whiskey in one go. It burned down her throat and warmed her from the inside for a moment which was a great relief.

She watched Kara typing a message on her phone, undoubtedly focused on the details Lena had remembered just now.
When the message was sent she put the phone away and smiled at Lena, "What happened then?"

"Nothing to be honest. For a couple of months at least. It happened the first weekend in November. I was invited to a Convention in New Orleans. Sam and I returned to the suite in the evening and we opened the bottle of wine we had ordered. I was about to take a sip when my phone rang. It was Veronica and I knew it was something important because she had texted me earlier that she needed to talk to me...and by reaching for the phone I spilt the glass. And the liquid burned itself right through the table. Acid. Sam screamed...I will never forget that. And all hell broke loose," Lena explained, "She had her glass to her lips already. I mean if Veronica hadn't called we both could be..."

"I'm so sorry. Is there any chance that the attack was meant for Sam?"

Lena shook her head, "Unlikely. No one knew she would be there. It was a last-minute decision, really. Because Lillian couldn't make it because of something or other that Lex had done again. So I invited Sam because her daughter was on a school trip anyway."

"I see," Kara seemed to mull it all over in her head for a moment, "You mentioned that your brother is somewhat troubled. Do you think he could be behind it?"

Lena sighed heavily, "He's an addict. And mentally unstable. But he's not a monster. He does love me...in his own way."

"That's not a no," Kara observed.

"It's not. I...for the longest time I...I tried to deny it but maybe. I don't know," Lena looked completely lost now, "I guess it's time to face the fact that it's at least a possibility that it's him."

Chapter Text

Ankara stared at the cake in awe. It was her second "Earth birthday" as Alyona had called it.
She had landed in the Duncans' backyard approximately two years ago, on March 22.
So much had changed since then and Ankara still had a hard time believing it all at times.

She had lost Krypton and everything else she held dear. Her family, her friends, her home - all of it was gone forever. She had found a new home on Earth though and a new family as well.
The Duncans had adopted her last summer and while Ankara was still dealing with her guilt, the guilt of surviving, she had come to appreciate all that she had.
Mostly thanks to Alyona, who had become her best friend, her sister, her partner in crime. Ever since that night on the balcony many months ago they had gotten closer until they had become inseparable.

Ankara had become so very strong, inhumanly strong, and she had a hard time hiding it on occasion but Alyona had helped her cover her mishaps since the day she had ripped the front door of its hinges by accident.
Edith and Jonathan weren't sure where her strength was coming from yet or what was causing it but they were incredibly patient and understanding, contrary to their employer.
Lavinia Van Lothringen had publicly announced at the annual Winter Gala of Van L - Corp that they would start to develop an alien detection device because it was only fair that people knew what they were dealing with.
Ankara had paled instantly but Alyona had only put an encouraging hand on her shoulder and had told her to "just forget about that old hag because she was as bitter as her husband."

It was the night Ankara had met Lavinia and Lucius Van Lothringen personally for the first time and she would never forget the cold shiver that had run down her spine when she had shaken their hands. Lucian, their son, had been as unpleasant as his parents but their daughter Lacrimosa had caught Ankara's attention.
The Van Lothringen's daughter had stood in the corner, seemingly uncomfortable, and Ankara had noticed the lost expression in her green eyes even from across the room. It had reminded her of herself in ways Anakara didn't know how to describe.

It had saddened her beyond words because Ankara knew that in another world, in one where aliens and humans were equal, the two of them might be friends. In this one though, they would be doomed to be enemies sooner or later.

"Come on, slowpoke! Blow out the candles!"

Alyona's voice pulled Ankara from her thoughts and she blushed furiously, "On it!"

"Try to be careful though. We don't want you to freeze the whole kitchen again," Alyona joked, causing Ankara to roll her eyes in annoyance, "That happened once!"

She did as Alyona told her though. She blew out the candles carefully, as if they would be made of the most fragile glass, and managed to blow them out without incident.

"You did it! I'm so proud of you, sis!" Alyona hugged her tightly and Ankara felt warmth bloom in her chest. It was hard for her to control her strength and the powers she seemed to develop the more time passed but she did better now that Alyona and she snuck into the barn regularly, so Ankara could exercise.

Only last month had she realized that she could float and even fly which had led to an argument with Edith and Jonathan, who had told her that she couldn't just take off into the sky because someone could see and then all their attempts of hiding her secret would be futile.
Ankara knew they were right and yet. Flying made her feel closer to her parents, to Krypton, and on rare occasions she shot up into the sky, only for a moment, to bask in the feeling of being closer to her origins.

She wasn't sure why but Ankara was sure that one day humans would know about her, probably even fear her for the power she held.
Maybe they would hate her but she would use her powers for good. She just had to figure out how to accomplish that while her aunt's words that she was destined for greatness echoed in her mind. Maybe Astra had been right all along.
She might be a Duncan now but she was also, and would always be, Ankara Zor - El.
The last daughter of Krypton.

The last daughter of Krypton: Damnation
by L. K. Luthor

 

Kara had asked more questions in regards to the acid and what the police had found out.
Lena had told her that there hadn´t been any prints on the bottle and that none of the other bottles in the hotel had been poisoned.

When the bottle had been poisoned and how they had assured that it would be to Lena's room specifically they hadn't been able to find out because surveillance videos hadn't shown anything suspicious.
A server had taken the bottle out of the storage, had put it on the cart, and had delivered it straight to the room.

"I wasn't even convinced that the bottle had been meant for me," Lena added, "I mean what are the chances that a poisoned bottle makes it to the person it is meant for in a hotel. There have been countless bottles of the same wine. It could have gotten delivered to anyone."

Kara hummed in thought, "What made you change your mind?"

"Veronica kept telling me that I had to be more careful. She reminded me of the car incident that I had already forgotten about then. It made me feel a little uneasy but I still thought Veronica was being overdramatic...till last week."

"I see," Kara nodded, "I got the police report about the bomb and the explosion. No prints. Whoever we are dealing with is really clever."

Lena took a deep breath, "I'm in trouble, aren't I?"

Kara hesitated, waging her words, Lena could tell, but then she cleared her throat and spoke anyway, "I won't lie. The situation is less than ideal. Have you told anyone that you aren't alone right now? That you are with a bodyguard?"

Lena shook her head, "No. I didn't tell anyone. The only one who knows is Veronica. And the people you work with."

"Good," Kara gave her an encouraging smile, "Very good. Let's keep it that way. It's our biggest advantage. If they come after you again...they won't expect me."

"That makes sense," Lena admitted but talking about this whole situation only managed to get her agitated. She was in Ireland where she usually felt free to just be herself but this time she felt like a caged animal. Her broken leg didn't help because she couldn't go anywhere but she wished to do so many things. There were so many places she wanted to go to, places she could show Kara under different circumstances. Places that took her breath away.

"What's wrong?" Kara wanted to know, worry written all over her face. As usual.

Lena sighed, "I just...I feel like a prisoner. I can't move because of the leg and...there are so many things I usually do when I'm here and I can't do anything because the risk of someone recognizing me is too high. It's so frustrating."

"What do you usually do when you are here?" Kara asked, voice way too understanding for Lena's taste.

It started to unnerve her how well Kara could read her. She was usually so closed off and nowhere near used to someone being able to tell whenever she felt sad or miserable. And she wasn't sure if she liked it that Kara did.
"Normal stuff mostly. Going to the pub, drinking Guinness. Eating at my favorite seafood place. Going places, taking pictures of the landscape. Doing some shopping in Galway. Nothing out of the ordinary per se but there is so much to discover. Ireland is beautiful," she ended up saying in the end.
And it wasn't a lie either but Kara didn't need to know every last of her secrets, now did she? Especially since she had never shown some of the places she wanted to go to with anyone.

"I see," Kara mused, "I have to talk to my sister, so no promises. But maybe we can at least do some of it."

Lena's eyes grew comically wide, "Really?"

"As I said. No promises. But I'll try," Kara grinned, "Because you are right. Ireland is beautiful. I've never been here and I'd love for you to show me around. You don't get the chance to tour with a local that often."

"We'd have to come back once all of this is over. Then we could go on a proper tour through Ireland," Lena said and froze.
Why had she suggested that? What on earth had she been thinking? And why would she even want to do that?

"You know what," Kara got up to stock up the fireplace, "That's actually a good idea. I'd love that."

She did?
Lena was even more surprised by Kara's answer than by her own suggestion.
Did Kara really want to spend time with her, even when it wouldn't be her job anymore?
She had a hard time believing that.
She was too busy to keep friendships going and the only reason that Jack and Sam were still in her life was the fact that they gave her so much leeway.
No one else could be bothered.

James had gotten fed up two months into dating and their relationship had only lasted another three months after that.
He had constantly complained about Lena being unavailable, about Lena's priorities being all wrong.
Lena had to admit that he hadn't been all wrong. She should take more for herself at times, she was aware of that, but when she was writing she got so caught up in the story, in her own head, that everything else vanished from her mind. It wasn't healthy, she knew that much because she often wrote for days straight without sleeping or eating much and Lena had often promised herself to figure out a way to keep the balance between healthy living and her work. She had yet to find a solution.
As far as James was concerned though, she had expected more understanding, seeing as he was working for CatCo magazine. He was familiar with the pressure of deadlines and all and yet.
And if Lena was really honest she hadn't been as invested in this relationship as she should have been. James had been nice enough but he hadn't enamored her as much as she had initially thought he would.
So, when the relationship had ended, it hadn't been that big of a loss. And looking back now Lena figured he had been in it more for the fame than for her to begin with.
He was dating some model now or at least that was the latest gossip she had heard from Veronica.
Good for him but she couldn't care less.

Should she tell Kara about him anyway? There was no point, was there? Surely he couldn't hate her that much and Lena doubted that he would be smart enough to pull it off.
Maybe she would mention him if the topic of past relationships ever came up though.
---------------------------------------------------

They had gone to bed shortly after that or at least Lena had.
She wasn't sure how Kara did it. She stayed up later if the light in the living room was any indication. It was only logical, wasn't it?
Lena figured that Kara would be catching up with her sister because surely Kara was more mindful about time differences than Lena was when it came to calling Veronica.
She called her agent at all hours of the day and she wasn't even sorry.

Kara also got up earlier, exercised like a maniac while Lena was still trying to wrap her head around walking on crutches.
She was getting better at it, mostly because her upper body strength was improving thanks to Kara's training. It was a slow process, of course, but Lena felt stronger. And not just physically but mentally.
Being around Kara had that effect on her.
They developed a bit of a routine over the next couple of days.
They would eat breakfast, they would exercise, afterward, Kara would train some more with Krypto while Lena take notes and after a quick lunch, they would take a drive, enjoying the countryside.
It wasn't much but it was something.
They talked about their childhoods before the loss of their parents, about settling in, about the guilt of surviving. They also talked about music, books, and movies. About the different countries, they had been to, about the places they still wanted to see. About the perks of their respective jobs, about the downsides of it.

About how hard it was to keep friends, let alone relationships (without going into much details on both sides).
Lena would have loved to know more about Kara's life but somehow it hadn't felt appropriate to ask, had felt almost too intimate to even think about.
They weren't that close and Lena ultimately came to the conclusion that Kara being vague and distant most likely had to do with her job as well.
So, she had kept her questions to herself.
At least for the time being.
----------------------------------------------------------

Five days after their conversation about Lena feeling like a caged animal their newfound routine changed when Kara was already done exercising by the time Lena woke up.
Breakfast was ready as well and she looked at Kara in confusion when she sat down at the table.
What was the meaning of this?

"I thought we could take a trip to Galway today," Kara announced before she took a sip of orange juice.

Lena's eyes grew wide immediately, "Really?!"

"I talked to Alex. Things have been quiet and I think we can take the risk. With a bit of a disguise, obviously. But yeah. Let's go to Galway," Kara smiled encouragingly.

Lena was so excited that she didn't worry about disguises or protocols. Or rules. She didn't even care. She'd do anything for a somewhat "normal" day.
-------------------------------------

Disguise meant a blonde wig that Kara had helped her put on, together with sunglasses. She was wearing a hoodie and sweatpants but that didn't matter anyway because her cast, her legs, were hidden by a fleece blanket.
Kara had also put a woolen hat on her head once they were done and she told Lena that whatever she wanted to buy had to be paid with Kara's credit card.
It was too risky to have someone recognize the name which was even more of a risk here in Ireland since people were quite proud of L. K. Luthor's Irish heritage.

Lena was somewhat nervous about their trip because ever since the bomb explosion she had grown more anxious.
Having Kara around soothed her and yet it had her on edge because she was in need of a security detail these days so no one would kill her.

It was nerve-wracking and she had caught herself jumping and the most random sounds lately which wasn't something she appreciated but as long as they didn't know who it was that wanted her dead she would have to find a way to deal with it.
She hadn't lied when she had told Kara that Lex loved her in his own way because she knew he did.
It was just that she battled so many demons that maybe...maybe he had lost his mind in a way?

Lena doubted it but she could be wrong. Of course, she could be wrong because no one knew what was going on inside the head of another person.
And yet she had her doubts.
Her gut told her that it wasn't her brother. Well, half-brother but he was her brother all the same.
A part of her even wished it would be him so he finally had to get the help he so desperately needed but it would be too easy, wouldn't it?
But could she really trust her instincts?
She would have to talk to Kara about it again.
Maybe tonight.
Once they would be back at the house.
---------------------------------------

As soon as she got out of the car and into the wheelchair, as soon as Kara moved her around like a pro and she caught sight of the pubs and the stores Lena's worries were forgotten.

She showed Kara her favorite stores, told her about the Claddagh and its meaning, and even purchased a necklace with one for Kara when Kara wasn't looking. She'd give it to her once all of this would be over.
Kara had given her a credit card to use and Lena was collecting all the receipts to reimburse her as soon as they would be back in her Irish home (or more like she would text Veronica to do it because if she would make transactions to Kara's account right away someone could figure it out, right?).

She purchased some clothes and they took countless selfies together on Kara's insistence - they were pretending to be tourists after all.
They had Irish coffee and Guinness (well, Lena did; Kara stuck with non-alcoholic choices like tea and ginger ale) and they spent at least an hour sitting at the water, watching people. And Kara made Lena laugh so much, mostly because of her silly antics but also because she was really good at imitating people and Lena was certain she hadn't laughed so much in her entire life.

They had dinner at her favorite restaurant as well and Kara had her order all of her favorite dishes which had Lena completely ecstatic.
If only life could be that easy.
-------------------------------------------

Once Kara had paid for their food Lena had wanted to snatch the receipt from her hand but Kara had crumpled it up before Lena could have reached it.

"My treat," Kara had smiled triumphantly and Lena didn't have the heart to argue with her because Kara seemed a lot more carefree than she usually was.

She had been overly attentive all day, had checked their surroundings constantly but by the time they had sat down for dinner Kara had finally let her guard down a little and Lena wanted to keep it that way.
The whole situation was no joke, Lena knew that better than anyone, but they deserved a break all the same.
-------------------------------------------------

The sun was already setting by the time they finally drove back and Lena realized that Kara was checking the mirrors even more often than usual.

"Is something wrong?" she asked worriedly. Kara's behavior instantly made her anxious again.

"Nothing out of the ordinary," Kara answered quickly. Maybe too quickly.

"But?"

A heavy sigh escaped Kara's lips in reply, "It's probably nothing. Just a feeling."

Lena frowned, "A feeling?"

"Yeah. Like a hunch. You know...when a storm is coming. The quiet before the storm...that kind of feeling," Kara replied, "But again...I could be wrong."

"How many times have you been wrong before?" Lena wanted to know and Kara sighed even more, "Lena..."

But Lena was wasn't deterred, "How many times?"

"Never."
-------------------------------------------

The house was quiet when they came back.
Nothing was amiss and Krypto was excited as ever as soon as he caught sight of them.
No car had followed them as far as Lena could tell but she was still on edge. Mostly because Kara was on edge.

She took Krypto outside wordlessly but Lena figured she would probably contact her sister because she had seen Kara clutching her phone in her hand.

Lena made her way into her room and took off her hat and glasses before she pulled the wig off as well.
It had been such a fun day but she was exhausted.
And also a little bit worried.
She had wanted to talk to Kara about Lex but it felt like the wrong time because Kara was wired enough as it was, wasn't she?

She called Veronica instead before she sent a couple of texts to her friends and to her mother, checking in on everyone, pretending that everything was fine and that she was working on her book.
Which was, well, a total lie.
Because she still hadn't written a single sentence.
But tomorrow.
Tomorrow she would finally get back to giving her heroine the happy ending she deserved.
-----------------------------------------

Lena had gotten ready for bed and was sitting on her bed when Krypto returned to her side, together with a grim-looking Kara.

"What is it?" Lena wanted to know.

"Nothing," Kara mumbled and Lena looked at her in confusion, "Nothing?"

"Nothing," Kara repeated, "No prints, no leads, no nothing. Different kinds of attacks on your life. So, we can't exactly predict what's next. I hate being unprepared."

Lena dropped her head, "I see."

She heard Kara step closer and then her bodyguard was right in her line of vision, kneeling next to the bed, holding out a hand to Lena, who took it instantly.

Kara squeezed it encouragingly, her eyes determined and her voice confident as she said, "Whatever they throw your way. My way. I won't let anyone hurt you, Lena. I promise."

"I believe you," was all Lena managed to croak out but it was the truth nonetheless. She trusted Kara with her life but she didn't dare question why that was.

"You should get some rest," Kara announced as she got back up, "Good night, Lena."

"Good night, Kara. Thanks for today."

"It was my pleasure."
------------------------------------------

Her mind was racing and Lena was sure that she wouldn't be able to sleep but as soon as her head hit the pillow she was out like a light.

She woke at 2.13 am to the shrill sound of the alarm.
Her blood ran cold immediately.

There was someone in the house.

Chapter Text

Ankara looked Alyona straight in the eye, "Ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," her sister replied with a grin and stepped closer, "Take me to the stars."

Ankara chuckled and spun Alyona around before she wrapped her arms around her sister's waist from behind before she pulled her against her chest.
She held Alyona tight and pushed her legs off the balcony floor, shooting them straight into the sky.
Alyona screeched in excitement as they rose higher and higher at a dazzling speed before Ankara finally slowed their movement down.

They were both dressed in black and the hoods of their sweaters were covering most of their faces. Better safe than sorry although they doubted that anyone could see them in the dark, especially since it was 3 am.

It was Alyona's nineteenth birthday and Ankara had promised her, back in the day when she had first figured out that she could fly, that she would take her flying on that specific day.

Over three years had passed since she had arrived on Earth since she had become a part of the Duncan family.
They had adopted her eventually and Alyona had become her real sister. And once they had gotten past the initial animosity they had also become the best of friends.
These days they were inseparable.

A couple of months after her arrival Ankara had noticed that she was unusually strong but no one had known what to make of it then. As time had gone by she had become stronger and stronger still and after many tests and a lot of theories Edith and Jonathan had come to the conclusion that it had to be the sun who basically charged her like a battery.
It was the only difference between the Earth and Krypton - the Earth had a yellow sun while Krypton's had been red.
The freeze breath and heat vision she had discovered by complete accident. The former when Alyona had made them some tea that had been way too hot for consumption and Ankara had frozen the whole mug and half of the kitchen when she had blown at it. The latter when she had gotten so overwhelmed with grief at one point, so angry, that she had almost set the whole barn on fire.

It had taken Ankara months to figure out how to control her powers and she had only succeeded because Alyona had supported her every step of the way. They had snuck out many nights for Ankara to practice in the barn, hidden away from unwanted witnesses.
Edith and Jonathan had eventually found out and they hadn't been happy but they had understood. They had made her promise to keep it all hidden though, for everyone's safety, and Kara had understood.
People hated aliens enough as it was and they didn't need more ammunition. An alien who was stronger than all of them surely wouldn't help.

Alyona had made her climb up a tree one day and of course, she had slipped but to their big surprise Ankara hadn't fallen, she had caught herself mid-air before she had floated downward.
Ever since that day she had practiced it and eventually she had started flying, hidden by the darkness of the night.

Alyona had made her swear that she would talk her flying on her nineteenth birthday and here they were.
High up in the sky, illuminated by the moonlight and surrounded by a sea of stars and Ankara could hear the glee in her sister's voice.
"I've never seen anything so beautiful in my life. Ankara, you are the best!"

"Happy birthday, Alyona!"

They landed safely on the balcony only a couple of minutes later but as soon as they snuck into their room they met the unimpressed faces of Edith and Jonathan, "Bed, girls. We'll talk about this in the morning."

Busted.

The last daughter of Krypton: Becoming
by L. K. Luthor

Krypto's low growl was the next thing Lena registered.
Her heart was beating wildly and her mind was racing a mile a minute.

She tried to focus because she needed to remember what Kara had told her but Lena couldn't concentrate.
Krypto was standing on the bed, growling, snarling and it did nothing for Lena's anxiety.

"FREEZE!"

Kara's voice.
Kara was out there, facing an intruder.
A killer.
Someone who was here to kill her.

And then Lena finally remembered.

"In case we ever face a threat inside the house I want you to get under your bed. You'll stay there no matter what happens. No matter what you hear. Don't come out until I get you. Do you understand?"
She had never seen Kara as serious as in that moment.

Lena wrestled into a sitting position as quickly as possible and slid to the floor.
She was scared out of her mind. Not only for herself though, but she was also worried about Kara.

A shot was fired.
Kara!
Lena covered her mouth with her hands to stop herself from screaming out loud.

Get under the bed.
Don't come out.

She heard Kara's voice repeating itself in her mind and so Lena robbed under the bed while shots kept getting fired outside her room.

Glass breaking. Probably a window.
Another shot. And another. Heavy footsteps.
The front door getting ripped open.
Someone was running.

"Krypto!"
The dog flew out of the room in a mad dash, barking like a lunatic, and then everything went quiet for a moment.

Lena prayed it would be over but then she heard shots in the distance.
A motorbike getting started.
Another round of shots.
The motorbike driving off.
Another shot. Two.
Then finally -silence.

Lena fought the urge to crawl out under the bed because she knew Kara wanted her to stay hidden.
But what if Kara was hurt? What if...

The sound of paws on wooden floorboards let Lena exhale in relief.
Krypto.
Thank God!

And then footsteps. At last.

"Lena? Are you alright?"

She had never been so relieved to hear anyone's voice before.
Kara was fine.
"I'm fine," she croaked out, "Can I...can I come out now?"

Boots came into view. Kara's boots.
"Yes, of course. Do you need help?"

"No, I'm good," Lena didn't want to be even more of a burden. Kara had done more than enough.

"Okay. I'll give Alex a call then. Pack everything you need. We need to evacuate as soon as possible," Kara announced and left the room but Krypto stayed behind. Always the loyal guardian unless Kara told him otherwise.
----------------------------------

It had taken Lena a lot longer than she had anticipated getting back up but she had managed in the end.
She was entirely grateful that Kara hadn't been in the room to witness that tragedy.

Lena was completely out of breath but she grabbed her crutches anyway and hobbled into the living room, only to stop dead in her tracks, eyes wide in horror.
"You're hurt!"

Kara's thigh was bleeding and a couple of cuts covered her left arm, face, and neck. Probably from the shattered window. There were shards everywhere.

"It's just a scratch. Bullet merely grazed me. Nothing to worry about," Kara assured with a small smile, "We need to hunker down for a bit. Alex is getting a team ready. They'll leave at first light."

"Okay."

"I'm sorry they got away. Krypto got them though. Bit whoever it was in the leg. Serves that asshole right. We'll get them," Kara explained, "I'll cover the window real quick because I'm fairly certain it will start raining soon. Which is a shame because it means it will wash away any possible evidence."

"It doesn't matter. None of that matters right now," Lena countered, "And you stay put. I'll get the first-aid kit."

"No need. I have one here in my bag," Kara pointed to the black bag in the corner, "Let me get it. But it can wait. The window..."

"Who cares about the window?!" Lena snapped, "You are bleeding!"

Kara raised her hands in surrender, "Okay. Got it."

She retrieved the kit and waited for Lena to sit down on the couch before she pulled her sweatpants down and Lena gasped in horror, "That's not just a scratch!"

Kara sat down on the edge of the couch, injured side towards Lena, mindful not to get blood on the furniture.
Lena was right, it was a deeper gash than she had anticipated but it was still superficial. It would heal in no time.
She handed Lena the antiseptic who poured it over her thigh without warning.

"Ow!" Kara hissed but Lena only tilted her head, unimpressed, "Thought it was nothing."

"Lena..."

When Lena pulled more of the fluid over her thigh Kara decided it might be better to keep her mouth shut. At least for the time being.
----------------------------------

Lena had cleaned her wound and cuts before she had bandaged her thigh and Kara had realized how tense Lena was.
Not that Kara could fault her for it. Someone was out there to kill her after all.

Once her thigh was wrapped up properly she got up to retrieve a new pair of sweatpants from her bag.
She could feel Lena's eyes on her but Kara decided not to mention it.
The situation was loaded enough as it was.
-----------------------------------------

Lena had been so focused on Kara's injury that her brain hadn't registered it at first but now that Kara was getting re-dressed, standing there nothing but a black tank top and panties Lena couldn't ignore Kara's well-trained figure any longer.

She had known from the beginning that Kara was in great shape but now that she saw all those muscles moving.
Well, Kara Danvers truly was one hell of a woman.

Lena caught herself blushing at the thought.
What the hell?

"I'll go and check the shed for something to cover the window with," Kara announced and grabbed her gun and a torch, "You should go back to bed."

Lena's eyes went wide at the sight of the weapon and Kara put it in her waistband sheepishly, "It's a precaution. I don't think they will come back."

A nod was her only reply and Kara sighed, "Please, try to get some rest, Lena. I'll check in on you once I'm done with the window."
-----------------------------------------------

It had taken Lena longer than usual to return to her room because once the adrenaline had started to wear off her hands had started to shake uncontrollably.

She was resting in her bed now and her hands still shaking. Krypto was lying next to her but it did nothing to calm Lena down at that moment.
Kara was still hammering in the living room as Lena's mind kept racing.
The shrill sound of her phone almost made Lena jump out of her skin and she almost dropped the device twice before she managed to answer the call.

"Hello?" Her voice was as shaky as her hands.

"Lena!"
Veronica's relieved voice, "Alex Danvers informed me that there was an intruder at the house. Are you alright?"

"I'm...okay," Lena answered, well aware that she didn't sound convincing but Veronica was all the way across the pond, home in National City.
What could she possibly do?

"Are you hurt?" Veronica wanted to know.

When no answer came her voice grew louder, "Lena, are you hurt?"

"No. No, I'm not. But Kara..."

Veronica was on high alert now, Lena could tell, "Kara is injured?"

"It's not bad. Just a flesh wound. A bullet grazed her leg," Lena confirmed, "We're okay...well, as okay as can be. They will re-locate us tomorrow."

"I know," Veronica admitted.

"Where are they taking us?" Lena wanted to know because surely they wouldn't take her back to National City.

"Alex wouldn't tell me. Safety measures," Veronica explained, "Better safe than sorry. You never know who listens in on phone calls these days. We have to consider every option."

Lena didn't know what to say to that because Veronica had a point.
Maybe someone was spying on her but she doubted it.
There were only a handful of people who knew about her house in Ireland.
Yes, of course, somebody with crazy good computer skills could have figured it out as well by hacking their way into her accounts and so on but for some reason Lena doubted it.

This was personal, wasn't it?
Had she wronged anyone that badly?
She liked to think not.
Which only left her mentally unstable brother.
And yet.

"Just let me know when you arrive at your new destination. Let me know that you made it there safe and sound. And Lena, don't tell anyone where you are."

Veronica's voice had Lena out of her thoughts in a heartbeat and she felt herself nod (which was ridiculous because her agent couldn't see her), "Yeah. I'll call as soon as I can."
-------------------------------------------

Kara eventually showed up, leaning against the doorframe, a painful expression on her face.

"Does it hurt?" Lena nodded in the direction of her thigh and Kara sighed, "It's bearable. I don't want to take any painkillers. They always make me dizzy and I need to be alert. For obvious reasons."

Lena wanted to argue but she knew better. Kara Danvers was stubborn as a mule.
Her hands were still trembling and Lena tried to hide them under her blanket but Kara recognized it anyway.

"Lena, are you alright?"

She considered lying but what would be the point? Kara could read her better than anyone, so she shook her head, "No. I'm not. I don't think I can sleep."

Kara took a few steps into the room and Lena saw she was limping slightly which made her feel even worse.
All of this was her fault even though she didn't know what she had done to attract the kind of hate where someone wanted her dead.

"I can stay for a while," Kara offered, "Only till you fall asleep. If you want."

"Yeah. I think I'd like that," Lena admitted because she really didn't want to be alone right now.

Kara was about to sit down on the floor and Lena finally had enough of it, "Don't you dare! The bed is more than big enough for both of us. "
Lena really didn't know what to make of Kara (or Kara's actions) sometimes. Her bodyguard was strong and capable and yet, sometimes Kara was so clumsy or awkward around her and it made Lena wonder why that was.

She didn't dare to ask though. Maybe Kara was simply fed up with her and wanted to go home.
Surely Kara Danvers had a life waiting for her back in National City - family, friends. Someone she loved and who loved her.
Not everyone was such a recluse as Lena Kieran Luthor.

Lena watched Kara put the gun on the nightstand before she moved under the covers and Lena wasn't sure if she appreciated a weapon in her bedroom but it was necessary, wasn't it?

Krypto moved to rest by their legs and Lena rolled over to rest on her side, facing Kara.

"I think it might be time that we talked to your mother," Kara whispered, "About your brother."

Lena nodded, "I know. I'll call her in the morning."

"Alex and the crew will be here around midnight."

"Where will we go?"
Lena balled her hands into fists because their shaking was improving once more. She liked to know things and right now everything was so far out of her control that Lena felt as if she would be losing her mind.

Kara covered her hands with her own, "The less you know the better. For now. But we'll take you somewhere safe, I promise."

Lena couldn't help but stare at their hands before she opened her fists and clutched onto Kara's as if they were her lifeline.
She couldn't see much in the darkness and yet Kara's eyes sparkled somehow.
It calmed her to know that she wasn't alone in this.

"I trust you."
And Lena found that she meant it.

Chapter Text

Ankara stared at the massive front door of Van Lothringen's mansion.
Jonathan had to drop off some files for Lavinia to oversee and Ankara was quite anxious.
She couldn't enter the gigantic building because an "alien detection device" had been installed recently and therefore the palace-like home was off-limits to her.

It was risky enough that she was here at all but they had to pick up Alyona from the work after this - she had been at an undisclosed training camp in the desert for the last four weeks and there was no way in hell Ankara would have stayed home.
The Depart of Extra-Normal Operations had been founded to handle alien-related problems of all kinds when it had become obvious that the police wouldn't be able to deal with intergalactic creatures and their powers.

Ankara was trying to tune out all the noises she caught up on with her super hearing so she could focus on her book but she didn't always succeed with that. Ever since she had developed that particular ability she tried to control it and sometimes she did well.
Today wasn't one of those times.

What Ankara focused on were two erratic heartbeats. Beating wildly out of fear if she wasn't mistaken.
A girl was screaming, a spooked horse was speeding.

Ankara hesitated.
She shouldn't get out of the car.

The girl was frantic, trying to get her horse under control.
She really shouldn't.
And yet she did.

Ankara jumped out of the car, pulled her hood over her head, and shot into the sky faster than she ever had.
Someone was in trouble and what good were her powers if she couldn't use them?

She spotted the girl moments later, barely hanging onto the brown horse that was headed for a large fallen tree, and Ankara knew what would happen even before it did.
The horse came to a sudden halt, almost crashing into the trunk and its back legs slipped on the muddy ground as the rider fell helplessly.
The horse was about to crash right on top of its rider when it lost the struggle to find its balance but Ankara dashed forward in the last second, grabbed the girl, and found herself on her knees, holding another person against her chest mere moments later.

Ankara carefully lowered the girl to the ground and a feeling of doom hit her instantly when she stared into the disbelieving green eyes of none other but Lacrimosa Van Lothringen.

She was done, without a doubt.
Worse than that Jonathan and Edith would pay for this recklessness.
Maybe even Alyona.
What had she done?

Ankara tried to come up with an excuse, an explanation, anything but words failed her.
And then again - what could she possibly say?

She looked heavenward, praying to Rao for an answer she knew wouldn't come, and then she heard another horse in the distance.
Someone was calling Lacrimosa's name like a madman.

Ankara got up and held out her hand to the girl she had just saved and it was only then that she realized that Lacrimosa had lost consciousness.
Her heart was beating a steady beat though, that much Ankara knew.

So, she had to get out of here before she made everything worse but the horse was still struggling to get up and she didn't have the heart to let it suffer.
She focused on the other rider.
She had a minute, maybe two.

It was a crazy thing to do but she brought the horse back to its feet in a blur before she shot off into the sky, only to land behind some hedges close to the car.
Ankara checked her surroundings, listened to any approaching voices, and realized that Lavinia and Jonathan were on their way.
She dashed back to the vehicle and got in, only moments before her adoptive father and his boss came into view.

They were deep in conversation and Ankara barely dared to breathe because she knew that she was on borrowed time.
Whoever had been looking for Lacrimosa must have found her by now and once she would regain consciousness all hell would break loose.
She had to leave, didn't she?
Then the Duncans could say that they hadn't known, that they hadn't been aware that they had welcomed an alien into their home.

The mere thought brought tears to her eyes.
She had lost her family, her friends, and her home once already. But the difference was back on Krypton it hadn't been her doing.
This time, she had brought it on herself.
But she had to protect her new family as they had protected her.
She owed them that.

Lavinia Van Lothringen's cellphone rang and she answered immediately, her face turning to stone.
Someone had informed her of Lena's accident and Ankara saw her storm off without as much as a goodbye.

Jonathan got into the car and turned to look at her, "Ready to pick up your sister?"

Her hands were shaking as the car drove off.
Alyona.
She would never see her again.

She had used her powers for good, she had saved Lacrimosa's life.
But what difference would it make if any at all?
She was an alien in a human, an alien-hating world.

"You're destined for greatness" Astra had said.

Not here.
Not on earth.
Here people would hunt her as humans had always hunted what they hadn't been able to understand. Or control.
And the Van Lothringens would lead that "witch hunt".

Ankara wiped the tears from her eyes, only to realize that they were covered in mud.
Jonathan, who had studied her in the rearview mirror noticed it too and his expression turned grim, "Ankara, what did you do?"

The last daughter of Krypton: Becoming
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena woke up to the sensational feeling of being warm, comfortable, and safe.
She reveled in the unfamiliar warmth because she was so used to being cold.
Always cold.
It was a feeling that came from within, Lena was aware of that, and she embraced the absence of it with delight.

Until she felt movement next to her and her eyes flew open in surprise, only to stare into the sparkling blue ones of Kara Danvers.

The memories of last night came rushing back.
Intruder. Shots fired. Glass breaking. Kara was hurt.
Kara was hurt!

Lena shot up and Kara's hand fell from her waist. Only then did she realize that Kara had held her through the night.
Through her restless sleep.

Kara sat up as well, seemingly flustered and looking for words that wouldn't come.

"Are you okay?" Lena managed to rasp out, ignoring the awkwardness of the situation as best as she could.

"Y-yeah. I'm...I'm good," Kara said, got up, and winced.
She gritted her teeth together and marched out of the room, "I'll make breakfast. Krypto."

The dog followed her immediately and Lena found herself alone in her bedroom only moments later.
Alone and dumbfounded.
What was going on here?
---------------------------------------------------

Breakfast was a quiet affair that morning and Lena wasn't sure what to make of Kara's silence.
She wanted to ask, she had so many questions but she didn't dare to speak either.
And then again - while Lena wanted to know she didn't even know how to ask. Or what exactly.

She was feeling things she had never felt before and it confused her, scared her.
She was nowhere near ready to face whatever it was that was happening here.

"You should contact your mother and let her know that you have to talk to her as soon as possible. A voice call would be good," Kara said at last and started to clear the table, "If we could do that before we leave it would be even better."

Lena nodded in understanding, "Okay. I'll message her right away. If she's already sleeping she will call me as soon as she wakes up."
-----------------------------------------------------

She had received an answer from her mother only a couple of minutes after Lena had sent her message. It had stated that Lillian was on her way home from a birthday celebration of a business associate and that she would call Lena as soon as she would be back home.

Lena and Kara were both sitting on the couch with Lena's laptop open in front of them, careful to keep a respectable distance, waiting.
The tension was palpable and Lena couldn't stand it any longer.
"What..."

Right then a video call came in.
Her mother's timing truly was impeccable.

Lena moved her finger over the touchpad and navigated the cursor to connect the call and the irritated face of her mother showed up on her screen mere seconds later.
"Lena, what is the meaning of this? And who's that?" Lillian's eyes narrowed in on the stranger beside her daughter.

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience, mother. I know it's late and," Lena hesitated. She didn't even know how to begin or where.
Wasn't that just the story of her life lately?

Kara stepped in before Lena's mind could have spiraled again.
"Good evening, Misses Luthor. My name is Kara Danvers and I'm your daughter's bodyguard. Her agent hired me after the explosion. Could we ask you a few questions?"

"I see," Lillian didn't seem too surprised by the news but then she tilted her head, "Wait. Are you in Ireland? Of course, you are."
An unamused chuckle escaped her lips. The topic of Lena's biological mother was as sore as ever but she collected herself quickly, "Well, what is it that you want to know, Miss...Danvers, was it?"

"We had a situation here last night and we were wondering if you know where your son is?" Kara explained and watched Lillian Luthor's face darken before she looked at her daughter, "I can't believe that you think Lex is behind those incidents!"

"We aren't accusing anyone, Misses Luthor," Kara chimed in, "We're trying to rule people out because the person responsible for the attacks on your daughter's life has to be someone who either knows her well or knows a lot about her for some reason."

Lillian seemed to consider the argument for a while before she spoke again, "I see your point. Not a lot of people know about the house in Ireland."

Kara nodded, "You catch on quickly, Misses Luthor."

"Mother, even if it's Lex. I'm not blaming him. He is sick and he needs help. I know you don't wanna hear it but..." Lena dropped her gaze immediately.
Lex and his mental condition was the other sore subject between the Luthor women.

Lillian's nostrils flared for a moment and Kara was readying herself to jump to Lena's defense once again when Lillian Luthor cleared her throat and admitted, "He's in a psychiatric hospital, Lena."

"What?"
Lena's eyes grew wide in surprise and horror, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because you were busy with your writing and your own life. And he is not your responsibility, Lena. You kept warning me and I didn't want to see it for the longest time but he had stopped taking all of his meds and his schizophrenia has gotten out of control. So whatever happened last night...it wasn't your brother because he's been locked away for the last seven weeks. I talk to his doctor daily and if he would have disappeared at any point I would have been informed," Lillian explained the situation before she addressed Kara once more, "I can get you in touch with my son's doctors if you don't believe me."

Kara nodded, "That won't be necessary for now. Do you think it's possible that your son hired someone to kill your daughter?"

Lillian hesitated, apparently debating how much to reveal before she spoke again, "Veronica Sinclair called me right after the first incident because Lena wouldn't listen. She had been convinced that it was an accident and Veronica had been concerned that Lena had brushed it off so quickly. And then the hotel incident happened with the poison. I should have been there and had to cancel last minute. I...I did consider it."

Lena gasped in surprise, "YOU thought Lex could be behind this?"

"Lena, you've been aware of your brother's condition long before I was forced to face it as well. Of course, I thought about it after I got over my initial denial. You are my daughter and I love you and I would never forgive myself if any harm would come upon you because I decided to look the other way," Lillian admitted, "As for Lex. I don't think he could have pulled it off. He hasn't had access to any of our accounts for years. Ever since he had this massive drug problem. But I checked anyway. There's no money missing. No strange transactions, nothing. There's no trail that your brother has done anything other than stay at the mansion, talking to himself. I checked the phone records too. No calls to unknown numbers. I know our family has problems but Lex does love you. He read all your books. He is proud of you, Lena. In the moments he is able to fight his demons he is so proud of who you have become. It's not Lex. I know it's not the answer you were hoping for because it would be so much easier if it would be him but I don't see how he could have pulled it off."

Kara got up, "Can I share this information with my associates, Misses Luthor?"

Lillian nodded, "I trust not to find any of this conversation plastered all over the newspapers tomorrow."

"Of course not, Misses Luthor. My only focus is Lena's safety."
And then Kara left the room to give Lena and her mother a chance to talk in private for a few.
-----------------------------------------------------

Lena didn't know what to make of the conversation with her mother.
Lillian had been telling the truth, she had no doubt about it. Simply because her mother would rather die than admit that Lex was less than perfect.
Especially in front of a stranger.

They had fought many a fight over Lex and his condition and Lena was glad to know that her brother was finally getting the help he needed. She was also incredibly touched that Lillian did care after all. That she had gone to great lengths to ensure that Lex wasn't a threat to her.
Her mother had confessed, once Kara had left the room to call her sister, that she had cameras installed at Lex's room after the first attempt on her life.
To be sure.

Lena had told her that she would be evacuated to an unknown destination and Lillian had looked at her in alarm but Lena had assured her that Kara would keep her safe and that she would call/message as soon as she could.
They had agreed to meet up once this whole ordeal would be over as well and Lena made a mental note to spend more time with her family and friends once she could safely return to National City.

When Kara returned a couple of minutes later she looked grim.

"What's wrong?" Lena started to feel uneasy as soon as she caught sight of her.

A heavy sigh was her answer as Kara sat back down, "How sure are you that your mother was telling the truth?"

"She didn't lie," Lena responded immediately.

"I was afraid you'd say that," Kara pinched the bridge of her nose, "So, she was definitely at home? That was her room at the Luthor estate?"

"Yes. Yes, of course," Lena frowned, "Surely you don't think Lillian has anything to do with it?"
When no answer came Lena got agitated, "Kara?!"

"I don't know, Lena," Kara admitted, "Everyone is a suspect right now, and...we were just wondering if maybe...Lillian's grudge runs deeper than you think. I mean she said it herself. She canceled last minute and then you almost got poisoned."

"No, she wouldn't. She wouldn't do that!"
Lena covered her mouth with her hands as tears started to well in her eyes.
Her mother wouldn't do that, would she?
A couple of minutes ago she had thought that they were finally on the right track and it had warmed her heart to know that Lillian did care about her.
The worry in her mother's voice had been real, right?

And yet doubt was slowly creeping up her spine. It made her shiver.
It made her question everything.

"There's more," Kara rasped out, "There's a massive storm coming. So we'll have to stay till tomorrow morning. Alex said they won't get clearance for the helicopter tonight and we are not risking the drive back to Dublin. We won't take any chances. So, we'll have to stay here. I doubt whoever was here last night will come back now that they know you aren't alone. Plus they got bitten by Krypto, so they are injured."

"I think I'd like to lay down for a while," Lena rasped out.
Her head was swimming and she couldn't breathe.

"Sure," Kara agreed, "I'll go outside for a bit to check the premises and to secure the window some more, just in case. From the sounds of it, that storm will be nasty."
--------------------------------------

Lena had meant to go to her bedroom but Kara and Krypto had left and she had been too worn out to move and she had simply laid down on the couch.
She had been convinced that she wouldn't be able to sleep but she must have at some point because when she finally woke up the sun was already going down.

Krypto was sitting next to the couch like a statue and Kara was sitting in the armchair across from her, reading a book.
"You are awake," Kara, as observant as ever, put the book down before Lena could say a word, "I'll make dinner then. Can you please pack the rest of your belongings? Because when Alex arrives in the morning we have to grab our bags and go immediately."

"Okay," Lena grabbed her crutches, got up, and hobbled off without further comment.
Then again - what was there to say?
---------------------------------------------------------

Dinner was a quiet affair once more and more uncomfortable than any of their prior meals.

"I would suggest you check in on the people you are close to because Leslie will take your phone as soon as we are on the plane," Kara stated and took a sip of coffee.

Lena had frowned when she had found Kara brewing coffee after she had finished packing but the blonde had only shrugged and said that it would be a long night.
Now she found herself frowning again, "My phone? Why?"

"There might be a tracker on it. We won't know until Leslie gets her hands on it. She'll wipe it completely. Better safe than sorry. But she'll save your pics and date, promise."

"A tracker? What are you saying?" Lena looked at Kara expectantly.

"You said barely anyone knows that you have a house here and our initial theory was that the enemy was someone close to you. Which still isn't off the table," Kara looked at Lena, her expression dead serious, "But of course we also need to consider another option. That we are dealing with a stranger who managed to put some spyware on your phone or computer or something. It has happened before and we can't rule it out."

That thought scared Lena even more because that meant it could be literally anyone.
She didn't hear about the possibility for the first time but she had managed to ignore it until now.

"Will I be able to contact my friends once we have been relocated or should I send something like a note of absence for the foreseeable future?" Lena asked, slightly confused.

"You'll be able to talk to them but it might take a little while," Kara answered cryptically and Lena wasn't sure what to make of her answer.
-----------------------------------------------

Lena had emailed her friends, telling them that she was suffering from some form of writer's block (which wasn't even a lie, much to Lena's chagrin) and that she would take a couple of days off to clear her head but promised to be in touch.

She called Veronica afterward, telling her agent that she didn't know how she was supposed to finish her book under these circumstances.
Veronica had offered words of comfort and had told Lena that she should take all the time she needed. That she should forget about the deadline, that she would take care of it.

Veronica's reassurances allowed her to breathe a little lighter and Lena was grateful for that.
She was so unbelievably tired, emotionally worn out and she decided to go to bed despite having slept all afternoon.
When she opened the door to her bedroom she stopped dead in her tracks though.
What was going on?

Her pillow, blanket, and mattress were missing from the bed.

"Kara?"

"In your office."

Lena headed there as quickly as possible only to find her makeshift bed right there on the floor of her office.
"What is the meaning of this?" she looked at Kara in confusion.

"Safety measure. In case the intruder would come back. Chances are they might not enter the house anymore but shoot from outside. For one they would assume for you to be in your room plus...they would aim higher," Kara explained her way of thinking, "I'm sorry to put you through this, Lena, but..."

"I understand."
Of course, she did. How could she not?
It didn't mean Lena had to like it.
-----------------------------------------

Once Lena had gotten changed and ready for bed she returned to her office and Kara helped her to lay down.
Krypto took his spot by her feet which brought a small smile to Lena's face.

"Try to get some rest, Lena. I'll be right out in the living room."

Kara was about to leave the room and Lena panicked.
She didn't want to be alone. She was scared out of her mind if she was really honest.
These days even the shadows of the room scared her.

"Stay. Please, stay."

Chapter Text

Ankara expected Jonathan to be furious when she confessed that she had gotten out of the car to save someone who had been in trouble.
That it had been Lacrimosa Van Lothringen and that the girl had seen her clear as day.

When Jonathan didn't say anything she assumed that he might be disappointed too but when he finally spoke he had a smile on his face.
He was proud of her for having such a good heart.
Of course, Jonathan was worried too and he instantly started to come up with cover stories and plausible explanations that he could possibly sell to Lavinia Van Lothringen.
Ankara told him that it might be better if she left but only shook his head and told her that she was a Duncan now and that they would deal with this like a family – together.

Even Alyona helped with brainstorming once they had picked up but in the end, none of it was needed because it turned out that Lacrimosa did neither remember the accident nor Ankara's spectacular rescue.

Ankara had dodged a bullet there.

They talked as a family that night, all four of them, and it was decided that Ankara had to lay low despite the fact that she had these powers. Everyone understood her frustration because she could do so much good but the world simply wasn't ready for an unstoppable alien, no matter how could their intentions were.

Jonathan told her that he hoped people would change their views eventually so Ankara could become the person she was meant to be and Ankara was reminded of her aunt Astra's words once more.

“You are destined for greatness.”
----------------------------------------

The months had flown by and Ankara hadn't been able to look the other way any longer.
After she had saved Lacrimosa Van Lothringen she had been driven by the desire to help people.
To do good.

Of course, she had been more careful and no one had ever figured out it had been her, nobody had been able to catch anything but a blur with their cameras.
She had been playing with fire and Ankara had always been aware of that.
Jonathan and Edith hadn't been thrilled but they had known that they wouldn't be able to stop her. They had been proud too, of course, because Ankara used her powers responsibly and for the greater good.

The media had caught onto the fact that there was some kind of savior in the air who swept in to save the day at times but no one had ever really caught sight of her.
Until that fateful day, a plane threatened to crash into the harbor of Metropolis.
The plane Alyona was on.

All promises and resolutions of being careful, of staying out of the spotlight, instantly forgotten Ankara, clad in black yoga pants, boots, and a hoodie, grabbed the black Zorro mask off of Alyona's desk (a leftover from last year's Halloween) and shot into the sky, well aware that her life was about to change forever.

She caught the plane at the last minute and slowed it down, her arms shaking with the force she needed to do so but when she lowered the plane onto the water as if it would weigh next to nothing while people looked in awe, recording the whole thing she felt a kind of peace she had never experienced before.

Ankara helped to evacuate everyone and as hard as it was not to hug Alyona tight as she climbed out of the plane – the smile they shared at that moment was enough.
People were cheering and hollering in the background and Ankara realized that it was relief that was blooming in her chest.

The people of Metropolis loved her. They didn't fear her.
It might not last and come tomorrow the world would probably start hunting her but that would be tomorrow.
Today she had saved a plane full of people.
And it meant everything.

The last daughter of Krypton: Becoming
by L. K. Luthor

 

Kara looked into Lena's pleading eyes and sighed, “Okay.”
She was aware that she was crossing boundaries she shouldn't cross because Lena was her client.
Lena was a client she happened to like.
A lot.

This was why she really should keep her distance because she couldn't get caught up in whatever it was that was happening between them.
It would only make protecting Lena even harder.

Feelings were a distraction she couldn't afford. For Lena's sake.

And yet Kara couldn't say 'no' because she knew how scared Lena was. She could see it in her sparkling green eyes.
The fear that was shining in them was so obvious that someone had to be blind not to see it.

Kara struggled to get down onto the mattress, the wound on her thigh making it difficult to kneel without tearing open again.
She managed in the end, the pain in her thigh somewhat worse than before. But Kara refused to take painkillers once more because they made her brain foggy and she couldn't afford that.
Not with the situation they were in.
She doubted that the killer was still in the area but she wouldn't take any chances. Not when it came to Lena's life.

When she realized that Lena was scooting closer Kara felt her body tense and hold her breath.
This was a really bad idea.

“Lena...”

“I know...it's probably against protocol...or...or against your...rules,” Lena whispered, “Surely it's not in your...job...description...but...”

Kara didn't know what to say.
She shouldn't. She really, really shouldn't.
But it was Lena.
Lena who's beautiful mind captivated Kara for so many years.

“It's fine. Come here,” she said in the end and Lena snuggled against her side immediately.
Kara held her close, breathed her in, and for the first time since she started working as a bodyguard she hated her job.

Lena clung to her as if she would be her lifeline and Kara wished that things would be different. She wished that they wouldn't have met on the job.
Not that she would have ever gotten the chance otherwise because L. K. Luthor was a bit of a phantom.
Yes, she did book tours but she was hardly ever spotted in public otherwise.
She showed up for book signings and taking pictures and then she vanished again as if she wouldn't even be real.

“Have you ever had any trouble with fans? Has anyone ever crossed any boundaries? Stalkers? Anything?” Kara asked after a couple of minutes because she really needed to get a grip. She really needed to focus on her job. Lena's life depended on it.

“No. Nothing out of the ordinary”, Lena replied, “I mean sure...not everyone is happy with the direction the books have taken. You know how it is. You don't only get love letters. But there hasn't been anything too extreme. At least not that I know of. Then again Veronica goes through my fan mail first. So...”

Kara nodded, “Hm. I'll have Alex talk to your agent about that once we're out of here.”

“Okay.”

They were both quiet after that until Lena scoffed all of a sudden, “I almost forgot.”

“Lena, what is it?”

“There was someone,” Lena admitted, “Victoria had this assistant for a while back in the day. He was...weird. Like obsessed in a way. He scared the crap out of me one night when I came home from having drinks with Sam and Jack. He sat in front of my door, waiting for me, talking nonsense about how I was meant to be with him. It was almost 3 am.”

Kara pulled Lena even closer, “What happened? What did you do?”

“I pepper-sprayed him and called security. Veronica fired him the next day. I haven't seen him since.”

“I'll add that to the list of things we need to discuss with your agent. Do you remember his name?” Kara wanted to know and she felt Lena shake her head, “No. I...I think I've never even learned his last name...but oh wait...his name was Mike I think. Yeah, Mike...the intern.”

Neither of them spoke for a while after that but Kara was too riled up to sleep.
And she knew that Lena wasn't sleeping either, so she decided they might as well talk.

“What are you gonna do once you've finished the book? Any plans for a new series or will you take a break? Travel or I don't know,” Kara asked and she felt Lena tense against her body.

“I don't have any plans. Not for more books. Not for anything else,” Lena croaked out, “I've done nothing but write since my teenage years. It's who I am. So, I guess I will have to come up with a new writing project because what else would I do?”

“Surely there is something you could do. I mean you have the means to do it. If you wanna take time to yourself...you could do anything,” Kara encouraged but Lena only shook her head, “It doesn't mean much when you have no one to share it with.”

Kara sighed, “Yeah, I know. I mean my job isn't really relationship-friendly, so I get it. But you have friends and family. There has to be something you always wanted to do or...what would the great L. K. Luthor wanna be if not a writer?”

When no answer came Kara realized that she might have pushed too far, “You don't have to tell me. I just thought there had to be something you wanted.”

“I'd want to be happy.”

It was barely a whisper but Kara heard it nonetheless due to their close proximity and her heart broke a little, “Lena...”

But Lena only hid her face against Kara's shoulder and remained quiet for the rest of the night.
-------------------------------------------------------

The helicopter landed shortly after 7 am.
Alex and a woman Lena had never seen before went straight for their luggage and loaded it up while Kara helped her to get on board.
Krypto jumped in with practiced ease and they were up in the air only minutes after their arrival, headed for the airport in Dublin.

Lena put on her headphones to keep herself distracted while Kara filled her sister in on what had happened and what information Lena had shared the night before.
--------------------------------------------

They were processed at the Dublin airport rather quickly and now that the private jet was waiting for take-off Lena was finally introduced to the crew.

Winn Schott and Lucy Lane – the pilots.
Alex Danvers, of course.
And Leslie Willis, who apparently was some sort of a tech wizard with the nickname Livewire.

She asked for Lena's phone right away and gave her a brand new one in return before she connected Lena's device to her laptop and got to work.

“Kara, you should get some sleep,” Alex stated as she observed her sister with worried eyes but the blonde only shook her head, stubborn as a mule, “I'm fine.”

“Nonsense,” Alex turned serious, “Lena is safe. It's just us. Please, catch up on sleep. It will be a while before we touch down.”

Kara nodded and headed to the back of the plane before she put on her own headphones and curled up in a seat.
Lena watched her guiltily because she could tell that Kara was in pain. Alex sat down next to her and looked at her sympathetically, “She'll be fine, don't worry. It's not your fault, Lena. It's the job.”

“That doesn't make it right,” Lena argued because there was no excuse for Kara getting hurt.

“Of course not. But you didn't ask for this either, did you?” Alex squeezed her shoulder encouragingly, “Try to get some rest, Lena. It's going to be a long day.”
----------------------------------------------------------

After an almost 10 hour flight, they were back in the US, that much Lena was certain. They hadn't landed at a major airport though and she had been escorted to another helicopter right away.

She hadn't been able to sleep much during the flight, unlike Kara, who looked way more alert now.
Leslie had told her that she had copied all of Lena's data into a cloud for her to download on her new phone. That there had indeed been a tracker on her device which had made Lena cringe internally. So someone had been spying on her for God knew how long.

Leslie had also assured her nobody could track her new phone, at least not without them noticing – which meant if someone so much as tried to do Leslie would be able to track them.
It wasn't much of a relief but it was something.

Alex was already in the helicopter and so was Krypto but Kara was still standing outside, talking to the female pilot. Lucy something.
It irked Lena somehow because they seemed quite close but she tried to ignore it because Kara's private life was none of her business.

Another woman appeared moments later and introduced herself as Imra Ardeen before she got in the pilot seat of the helicopter, next to Alex, who seemed to be the co-pilot.

Kara joined them a couple of minutes later with worried eyes but Lena didn't dare to ask if something was wrong. She couldn't deal with any more bad news at this point and she was exhausted to the bone on top of it.
It would have to wait till they finally arrived wherever it was they were headed.
----------------------------------------------------------

When the helicopter finally touched down Lena was really to collapse. She was too tired to function.

Alex and Imra unloaded the helicopter and transferred their luggage over to a jeep, causing Lena to scoff.
Did this trip never end?

She had caught sight of a lone house right there at the cliffs and she had hoped that they would stay there but apparently not.

“Mom is waiting to take a look at your leg,” Alex looked at Kara and gestured towards the house, causing Kara to sigh, “Fiiine.”

Mom?
What was going on here?

“Come on, Lena. Let's go!” Alex opened the car door and waited for Lena to get in.

“Is...is Kara not coming?”

Alex smiled reassuringly, “She'll catch up in a bit. She'll be there before you know it.”
-----------------------------------------

After a thirty-minute drive down a dirt road and straight through a small forest a log cabin came into view and Lena's eyes grew wide.
Surely they weren't supposed to stay there. Right?

“It's way comfier than it looks,” Alex said and chuckled, “My father built it for Kara and I when we started training. So we could do survival trips and whatnot. This land belongs to our family. It's private property. No one ever comes here and no one even knows that it exists. Except for us.”

Alex stopped the car and Krypto barked in excitement, “He loves it here.”

“I can see that,” Lena admitted with a smile, “Where are we?”

“You can't tell anyone, Lena. No one can know. It could put our family at risk as well,” Alex said sternly, causing Lena to nod, “I do understand that.”

“Welcome to Midvale.”

Lena's eyes grew wide once more, “Midvale as in...only a two-hour drive from National City?”

“Yup. This is our home. That's where we grew up.”

It took a minute for Lena to wrap her head around the fact that they were so close to National City and yet in the middle of nowhere. She was fairly certain that no one would find them out here because the area was quite remote.
Maybe she would finally find some peace because she really needed to finish that book.

“Just go on inside. I'll just grab the bags,” Alex said and got out of the car.

Lena did as she was told and entered the cabin that was, much to her surprise, rather comfortable. Alex hadn't lied.
There was a living room with a fireplace and an open kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom with two beds.
At least she would have Kara close by because Lena had realized she slept better when Kara was close by.
She didn't spend any time thinking about why that was or what it could possibly mean because she had other things to worry about.
Writing a book for example.
-------------------------------------------

Alex had barely been done showing her around and explaining the workings of the cabin to Lena when the sound of a motorbike could be heard outside and Krypto stormed outside in a mad dash.

Kara entered the cabin moments later, a helmet in one hand, a container with food in the other, Krypto by her side.

Alex eyed her warily, “You okay? I could stay the night...”

Kara put the food container and the helmet on the table before she hugged her sister close, “I'm fine. Ask Eliza if you don't believe me. Just go home before Sawyer sends a search party. And come visit when you can.”

“Okay,” Alex squeezed her shoulder, “But call if you need anything. Anything at all.”

“Of course.”

Alex said her goodbyes afterward and left, leaving Lena and Kara to fend for themselves once more.

“You look like you could use a nap,” Kara looked at Lena worriedly, “Unless you are hungry?”

Lena shook her head, “Not really. But a nap sounds lovely.”
She hobbled over to the couch and laid down, her eyes closing immediately.

Kara watched her in irritation because she had thought Lena would retreat to the bedroom but apparently not.
She put the food away and lit a fire in the fireplace before she grabbed a book and curled up in her armchair.

A bit of downtime wouldn't hurt.
At least she could get some reading in.
She ended up watching Lena instead.
---------------------------------------

Lena woke up a couple of hours later and noticed that it was dark outside.
Time zones and jetlag were giving her a headache on a normal day but at this point, she was mostly confused.
It took her a moment to remember where she was and when she looked around she caught Kara standing at the small stove, stirring a pot.

Lena managed to get into a sitting position, immediately catching Krypto's attention, who jumped up on the couch and bumped his nose into her chest.
Kara turned around at the little commotion and smiled at the sight, “You woke up right in time. Food is ready in a minute.”
-------------------------------------------

They had eaten the beef stew Eliza had prepared for them in silence because they both were worn out from the day.
Kara had cleaned the dishes quickly once they were done and Lena had gotten her notebook from the bedroom.

Now she was sitting on the couch again with a fresh mug of tea, trying to collect her thoughts enough to make sense of the chaos in her head because Ankara deserved some closure and her happy ending was depending on Lena.

Kara was lounging in the armchair with her own mug of tea, lost in her book.

Lena started drumming her pen against the notebook and let out a frustrated sigh. Krypto's head shot up immediately. He grumbled and went back to sleep as soon as he noticed that nothing was going on.

“Problem?” Kara looked up from her book and eyed Lena curiously.

“I don't know. I just can't figure out how to go about this...I mean you've read my books, right?” Lena asked and tilted her head, studying Kara.

“All six of them,” Kara replied proudly, “Is there anything I can do to help? What are you struggling with?”

Lena debated how much to reveal because no one was supposed to know the plot of the book just yet. Then again there wouldn't be a book if she wouldn't get a grip soon.
“It's just...I don't know how to go about the whole situation between Ankara and Mon-El. For some reason, it doesn't work in my head. Not as well as I thought it would. It just doesn't feel quite right.”

Kara frowned but didn't say anything.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Kara shook her head, “It's stupid. It's nothing. Don't mind me.”

“Kara,” Lena sighed, “Just tell me what you think. Please. I won't get mad.”

“It's just,” Kara took a deep breath, “I always thought Ankara and...and her best friend would make a way better couple. I mean...after all they've been through together...I always felt that it was inevitable that they would get together.”

Lena's eyes went comically wide.
Ankara and...
Surely Kara couldn't mean Lacrimosa.
“What?!”

Chapter Text

The media had praised her as an unknown hero, the police had claimed that she was a being of interest and Lavinia Van Lothringen had called her a threat to public safety.
Debates had been started about whether someone with powers like that should be allowed to walk free and Metropolis had turned into a circus of unknown proportions.

The Duncans had followed the news like hawks and mixed feelings.
Of course, they were entirely grateful that Ankara had saved their daughter but now that the world knew of the existence of an alien with incredible powers nothing would ever be the same again.

Alyona's and Ankara's bond had only grown stronger from the moment Ankara had helped her sister out of the plane and Alyona was secretly working on a plan to help her sister become a legitimate member of the DEO.
She wasn't sure how to go about it yet because Ankara's secret wasn't hers to reveal but she was certain that the leader of the DEO, one of the few respected and trusted aliens in Metropolis, J'onn J'onzz, would help them if she asked.

Edith had designed a blue bodysuit for Ankara, together with a red cape, made from the Kryptonian blanket they had found in the pod.
The crest of the House of El was right on Ankara's chest, showing the world a glimpse of who she was.
Jonathan had gotten her red knee-high boots to go with it and Alyona had built her a mask in the DEO lab to cover the upper part of her face and her nose because they were all in agreement that Ankara's identity had to stay hidden as long as possible.

And so the weeks had gone by until a stranger had shown up in Metropolis.
A stranger who had introduced himself as Mon-El, Prince of Daxam.

He had told them that he was on the run from his power-hungry mother because he wanted to choose his own destiny but Ankara had been wary.
In fact, she was to this day.

Daxam and Krypton might have shared a sun but that had been about the only thing they had in common.
Daxamites had been known to be a ruthless, lying, and cheating folk that owned slaves and Ankara had never had any sympathy for them.

And yet here she was, trying to help Mon-El adjust to earth customs.
Mostly because he had followed her around like a lost puppy until he had worn her down and Ankara had to admit that a part of her felt sorry for him because she remembered well how hard it had been for her to settle in.
And even though she hated to admit it, it was nice to talk to someone who understood her side of things. Someone who had known Krypton, someone who she could talk to about how alienated (and wasn't that ironic) she felt at times.

Mon-El didn't understand why she bothered to save people when they clearly hated her and Ankara told him that it didn't matter, that it was the right thing to do.
Yes, not everyone in Metropolis loved her but there were enough people who rooted for their unknown hero and it was enough for her.

Lavinia Van Lothringen had held a press conference in front of the Van L – Corp building on the Fourth of July, talking about the plans for the company, about her son's ambitions when it came to politics, and how he would follow in his father's footsteps after Lucius Van Lothringen had unexpectedly dies from a heart attack a few weeks prior, and, of course, how they would keep pushing the anti-alien agenda.

Ankara and Alyona were living in Metropolis now, in their very own apartment.
They had only moved in together about two months ago when Ankara had signed up for university to study journalism.
She wanted to fight for justice – as the kind of hero she was becoming and as a valuable citizen of Metropolis.
She wanted to give a voice to the voiceless and the thought of it made her giddy.

They had met for dinner at their favorite Chinese restaurant before Alyona had left for her shift at the DEO and Ankara had been debating whether to accept Mon-El's invitation for drinks for a second but had decided to head home instead.
It was a surprisingly quiet night and she could use some downtime to catch up on her favorite shows for a change.
Life had been super busy ever since she had started to aid the people of Metropolis as their unknown hero and now with her classes, things had gotten even more hectic.
She was almost 21 now and eager to prove herself, so Ankara didn't mind all that much though.

Ankara was humming a Kryptonian lullaby, lost in thought, when she entered the building, only to stop dead in her tracks when she caught sight of a dark figure sitting on the floor in front of their apartment door.
She was on high alert within a second and the person got up as soon as they heard her approaching.
Ankara wasn't worried because she could defend herself if need be (obviously) and yet she was a little anxious. But then she realized who it was who was waiting in front of their apartment door and she could honestly say she would have never expected that.

Right there, waiting for her, was Lacrimosa Van Lothringen.

“Good evening, Miss...” Ankara started but got interrupted right away, “Please, call me Lacrimosa.”

“Ankara.”

“I know,” the young woman looked down somewhat shyly and Ankara tilted her head, eyeing her curiously, “Not that it's not a pleasure to see you, Lacrimosa. But what brings you here?”

Lacrimosa gestured towards the door, “Can we...can we talk inside?”

“Of course,” Ankara nodded, pulled the keys out of her jacket pocket, unlocked the door, and allowed Lacrimosa to enter the apartment first.

She wasn't sure what this was about but Ankara was sure there had to be a damn good reason for the Van Lothringen's daughter to be here.
Ankara watched her guest look around, study their comfy little apartment for a moment, and took the time to observe Lacrimosa as well.

Her dark hair had grown quite a bit since she had last seen her, her skin as pale as ever but what captivated Ankara to this day were those incredibly green eyes. She was sure one could see worlds in them and they always reminded her of Krypton.

“My mother and my brother are up to something,” Lacrimosa said all of a sudden, “I don't know what it is but they are plotting something, I'm sure of it. My mother has been talking to someone called Rea or something and...I don't know...something about wiping out aliens has been mentioned. I couldn't hear properly because I wasn't supposed to be in the office and I had to stay hidden, but...I'm worried.”

Ankara didn't know what to say, “I...uh...maybe it's just a misunderstanding?”

Lacrimosa rolled her eyes, “Haven't you listened to a word my family has said the last couple of years?”

“Yeah. I mean...but,” Ankara really didn't know how to react, “So, uh...why are you telling me that?”

Lacrimosa looked her right in the eye when she said, “Because I know who you are, Ankara. I know you are an alien. I know you saved me. I know you are Metropolis' caped hero. And don't even think about denying it...I've always known.”

“H-how?”
Ankara felt the panic rising in her chest. Oh God, this was it. Her days here were over.

“Because I faked my amnesia. I never lost my memory. I just never told my mother that because we all know what she would have done. To you, to your family,” Lacrimosa stated as if it would be the most logical thing in the world.

“Why?”

“I'm not my family and I do believe what they do is wrong. Lucius might have been my father but that doesn't mean I cared for him all that much,” Lacrimosa said cryptically and Ankara wasn't sure what to make of that.

Could she trust Lacrimosa?
She wanted to but she wasn't sure. It might as well be a trap.

“What do you want me to do?” Ankara asked while she debated if she should maybe call her sister.

“I wanted to offer my help to stop this madness. I don't know how to go about it yet but...we need to do something,” Lacrimosa looked at Ankara with a seriousness that made Ankara hold her breath for a moment before she rasped out, “Y-you want us to work together?”

Lacrimosa shrugged, “I sure as hell can't do it alone, and knowing my mother...you'll need all the help you can get as well.”

Ankara pinched the bridge of her nose, “Alright. Uh...listen. Why don't you take a seat and I...let me call my sister.”

But before Ankara could even get her phone out of her bag an explosion could be heard.
And another.
The two of them headed to the window and watched in shock as different parts of the city blew up.
“It has already begun,” Lacrimosa whispered in horror.

Ankara was up in the sky only mere seconds later but could only stare as numerous spaceships appeared in the dark night sky.
Metropolis was under attack.

The last daughter of Krypton: Invasion
by L. K. Luthor

 

“Forget I said anything,” Kara mumbled, “I'm not a writer. What do I know? You aren't telling me how to do my job either. I apologize.”

Lena's mind was racing a mile a minute because the suggestion was so...so...well, she wasn't sure how to explain what was going through her head because it was too much at once.
But when Kara made an attempt to get up Lena knew she had to do something, “Kara, wait.”

She saw her bodyguard halt her movement and tense, so Lena pressed on despite her confusion, “Please, sit back down. And explain. I mean...I'd appreciate it if you could share your thoughts on the matter with me.”

Kara sighed but sat back down. She pulled her knees against her body and shrugged, somewhat helplessly, “I don't know. It's just...Ankara and Lacrimosa...they always saved each other. They were always there for each other. Risked their lives for each other. I mean they've grown so, so close. I guess I was just hoping...that maybe...it's not like there's a lot of representation for our community when it comes to the super popular books.”

Lena eyed her curiously, “Representation for what?”

“The LGBTQ+ community,” Kara clarified, “II mean, yes. There's more representation in TV shows these days but books...the big publications...nope.”

“Oh,” Lena's eyes grew comically wide, “So you're...you're uh...”

“A lesbian?” Kara provided with a smirk and Lena nodded dumbly.

Another shrug from Kara, “I don't know. I mean I dated this guy...Adam...for a short while but...yeah, I do like girls. Or more like...I'm into women. Is...is that a problem?”

“No. No, of course not!” Lena shook her head vehemently, “I'm just surprised.”

“Well, that's good because if you'd be a homophobe my sister and her wife would probably kick your ass. And not to forget about Lucy. She might be a pilot but she's got a mean right hook,” Kara joked while Lena's eyes threatened to pop out of their sockets, “Your sister is married to a woman? And Lucy is your...”

“Ex-girlfriend,” Kara stated quickly, “We've been together for almost five years but the job and the crazy hours and...let's just say we had different goals and when we realized that we decided we might be better off as friends. And we are. Friends I mean. I haven't dated much since but then again the last three years have been a hell of a ride without the added drama that comes with relationships.”

When Lena didn't say anything Kara added, “And yes, Alex and Maggie are rock solid. You wouldn't believe how much of a softie my sister can be when it concerns Maggie. They are adorable. I'm fairly certain you'll be able to see for yourself sooner or later. They will come to visit eventually.”

Lena nodded robotically, “That's...nice. I'm sorry...I...I don't mean to be...weird...it's just...a lot to...to take in.”

“Of course,” Kara got up again, “I have to take Krypto outside anyway. It will give you some time to sort your thoughts.”

“Thank you.”
-----------------------------------------

If Lena was really honest she was completely overwhelmed by the recent revelations.
Now Kara's comments made her doubt the whole plot for the last book of the Girl of Steel – trilogy which just added to her confusion.

More than that she was stuck in a cabin in the woods, together with Kara, and they had to share a bedroom.
Which shouldn't be a problem because they had even shared a bed before and Lena had to admit that she hadn't slept better in years.
But things were different now because Kara was into women.

It didn't bother Lena, not at all but it confused her because she felt so drawn to Kara in a way she had never felt before and she couldn't make sense of it.
Maybe it simply was because Kara had become her savior, her hero... as Ankara had become for Lacrimosa.

Somehow it felt as if her book was coming to life in her real life but she wasn't...she wasn't interested in Kara that way, right?
Lena wasn't even sure that Ankara and Lacrimosa would make sense on paper. They were friends, close friends.
The best of friends.
But would they work as more than that?

Could she even do it?
Lena was certain her publisher, Maxwell Lord, wouldn't allow it.
He wasn't known to be the most open-minded guy.

The smart thing to do would be to just forget about it and focus on finishing the plot she had planned but for some reason, Lena couldn't shake the idea.
Kara had opened the “Pandora's box” and it couldn't be undone anymore.

Lena knew she had a lot to think about because she had to finish the book but maybe she should try to calm down first.
She would get ready for bed and try to get a decent amount of sleep before she would worry about the book.
It could wait another day. There was always tomorrow.
------------------------------------------

By the time Kara finally came back inside Lena was already in bed, staring at the ceiling.
She was bone tired but she couldn't sleep anyway because she was too wired from their earlier conversation and the jumble that was her mind.

Kara left to get changed in the bathroom and Krypto jumped up onto Lena's bed to take his spot by her feet.
It made her smile how protective the dog was and how serious he was about keeping her safe.
Just like Kara who returned to the bedroom a few minutes later.

She slid under the covers of the bed closer to the door and Lena caught herself wishing that they could sleep together again as they had done in Ireland.
It irritated her but she tried to ignore it. It was just that she had felt so warm in Kara's arms, so safe.
So...at home.

Yeah, that was the best way to describe it.
They had so much in common, so much that bound them together in a way. That had to be the reason for all these confusing thoughts, no?
The lines between their lives, the book, and the reason for Kara's presence in Lena's eyes were blurring together way too much.

They laid in the darkness for a while but Lena could tell that Kara wasn't sleeping either.
God, this whole situation had gotten so weird.

“Eliza will come by tomorrow to check your leg,” Kara announced once the silence became unbearably heavy.

“Thank you,” Lena replied and debated whether she should try to make conversation because she wanted to show Kara that she wasn't uncomfortable, “Was it hard? Coming out, I mean.”

Kara chuckled, “No. Not for me at least. Then again I never really had to come out. Alex was the first one to do it and...don't tell her that I told you. She was a mess. She ran around like a headless chicken for days. She had been so worried and all for nothing as it turned out because Jeremiah and Eliza didn't mind. Not at all. They always told us the only thing that mattered to them was that we would be happy. So, when Lucy and I started dating it was no big deal. Our friends are either part of the LGBTQ community as well or super open-minded, so we hardly ever had any issues. Sure, some homophobic comments here and there when we were out but we were always lucky in that regard. Maggie on the other hand...her parents kicked her out when she told them at sixteen. And Lucy's father is a military general. He disowned her on the spot.”

“I'm sorry,” Lena whispered.

“Me too.”
------------------------------------

They had fallen asleep eventually and when Lena woke up the next morning the bed next to hers was empty.
Lena sighed but got up anyway.
It was still early, she could tell because the sun had only started to rise.
She would take a shower before breakfast which would take quite a while anyway since she had to cover her cast and all that jazz.

And Lena should be right about that because almost an hour had passed when she finally hobbled into the kitchen on her crutches.
Kara was sitting at the small table, engrossed in something on her laptop, and Lena was caught off guard by the seriousness on Kara's face.

She feared more bad news immediately and her heart turned heavy because she wasn't sure how much more she could take when she was so overwhelmed already.
Everyone had a limit and Lena was almost certain she was only a breath away from reaching her own.

When Krypto jumped up to greet her Kara looked up from the screen with a small smile, “Please, take a seat. I'll start breakfast in a minute.”
------------------------

Eating in silence had become a routine it seemed but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence anymore.
Lena felt pretty useless when she watched Kara clean the dishes by herself again because she wanted to do something as well. She wanted to help but Kara wouldn't let her and it irked it, to say the least.

“Eliza will come by later to check your leg and probably even change your cast,” Kara announced as she stacked the last dishes to dry, “And Leslie emailed me earlier. Your mother provided them with all the information they asked for, allowed them to check all her accounts plus the business accounts. Even the ones of your brother. There was nothing. So, as far as we know now your mother and your brother didn't have anything to do with the attacks unless there's some hidden cash somewhere but it's unlikely because Leslie is a total shark. She would have found it.”

Lena looked at Kara in disbelief, “Does that mean that I can...that I can call my mother later?”

“Of course,” Kara smiled, “You can call and text anyone with the phone Leslie gave you. I know it's hard to be stuck here with me as the only company and I'm sure you miss your friends. Just don't mention anything about who I am or where we are since we still don't know who is behind all this. And it's better to be safe than sorry.”

Lena nodded because she understood what Kara was saying. Of course, she did.
But the thought that someone close to her could want her dead was unbearable alldryd the same.
------------------------------------------------

Lena had spent the next couple of hours going over the notes for her latest book and she had realized that she didn't have all that much so far.
So, starting from scratch, setting up a different narrative wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Eliza had shown up around noon, had checked her leg, and had told them that a cast change wasn't needed but that she would suggest a boot instead of the cast in a couple of days. That she would bring one by as soon as she had one available and that Kara should help Lena with stretches for her leg.
Lena had blushed furiously but had tried to play it cool. Ever since Kara had mentioned this whole Ankara/Lacrimosa thing, ever her bodyguard had mentioned that she was into women, Lena felt weird around her. Not in a bad way though.
But that didn't mean that Lena wasn't unnerved in a way.

Eliza had checked Kara's injury as well and Lena had been incredibly relieved when Kara's mother had confirmed that the wound was healing nicely and without complications and that Kara would be as good as new in a couple of days.

It had calmed Lena down. At least a little.
She was so anxious these days and even though it wasn't surprising given the circumstances Lena still had a hard time adjusting to feeling the way she felt.

 

Once Eliza had left Kara had taken Krypto outside for a quick walk and some exercise and Lena had gotten back to her notes.
And she had started contemplating the idea of Ankara and Lacrimosa.
Together.
As a couple.
And the more she had thought about it the more sense it had made.
Kara had a point, didn't she?

But could she really do it?

Lena's thoughts had drifted off with the idea of her heroine finding love with her best friend. She had fallen asleep to clumsy love declarations in her mind and a shy smile on her face.

She woke up with a gasp when Krypto jumped up on her after his walk and Lena's eyes went wide when the memories of her dream flashed in her mind.

A sweet, innocent kiss.
Two women cuddled up together in bed, holding each other close.
Smiling.
Content.
Happy.

Only it hadn't been Ankara and Lacrimosa she had dreamed about. It had been Kara and her in the dream.

No. No, no, no.
It couldn't be.
Her fantasies and reality were simply blurring into one.
That had to be it.
Right?!
-------------------------------------

Kara had eyed her curiously but Lena had played it off, claiming that Krypto had startled her quite a bit.
She had fled the living room afterward, claiming that she wanted to call her mother. Kara had nodded, understanding as ever, and had told her she would catch up with Alex and start preparing dinner in the meantime.
It was a bit early for that but Lena hadn't dared to question it.

When her mother had picked up the phone a few minutes later Lena hadn't been able to hold back the tears.
Knowing that she could trust her was something that meant more to Lena than she had ever thought possible and if Lillian's cracking voice had been any indication her mother had been quite relieved to hear from her as well.

They had talked for a while and Lena had assured her a few times that she was safe and that Kara took really great care of her.
Lillian had told her that maybe she should take a step back from writing for a while after the last book of the trilogy would be published – to live.

Lena had told her that she had already considered that herself and she had heard her mother smile before Lillian had told her that the most important thing was that Lena would be alive.
And happy.

Once the call had ended she had downloaded her picture gallery from the cloud Leslie had set up for her and looking through her pictures from her old phone Lena realized how much she missed her friends.
She wished that she could just go home to hang out with Jack and Sam. And Ruby, Sam's daughter, and forget about all of this. But she couldn't because she didn't want to put anyone else in danger.
It had been a close call once already when Sam had almost drunk the poisoned wine and Lena didn't want to take any risks.
She wouldn't only put herself in danger, no. She would put her family in danger. Her friends.
And Kara.
Kara had gotten hurt once already.
Not again.
Not if she could help it.

Lena wrote emails to her friends instead, replied to some others from acquaintances before she scrolled through her pictures again.
She stopped at the selfies Kara had made her take in Ireland.

They had laughed so much despite the situation being quite dire.
And while Lena had always considered her biological mother's house her sanctuary it had somehow become Kara's too. She hadn't minded sharing it with Kara and she wished that she could have shown Kara all of her favorite places.
They had joked about going back once all of this would be over but what would be the chances of her seeing Kara again once her job was done?

Lena's heart ached at the mere thought and she opened her contacts and dialed before she would lose the courage.
There was a conversation she needed to have.

Veronica picked up on the third ring, laughing with delight, “She lives!”

Lena rolled her eyes, “Don't be so dramatic. I'm sure Alex Danvers kept you updated.”

“She did. Still, it's so nice to hear from you, Lena. How are you?”

“I'm good. Well, as good as someone can be...trapped in a cabin in the middle of nowhere...in need of a bodyguard because someone wants to kill them. I'm sure you catch the drift,” Lena didn't sound too bitter though and Veronica caught onto that as well, “It's not that bad, is it?”

Lena sighed, “No, I guess not. All things considered. It could be worse. Kara makes for great company, actually.”

“Good. I'm glad.”
The sound of papers being shuffled around in the background could be heard before Veronica spoke again, “Is there anything you need?”

“Actually,” Lena hesitated for a moment, “There's something I wanted to ask you. About the book.”

“What about it?”

“So, I was wondering...since I tried to make the plot work for weeks without success. What would happen if I wanted to...change it?”

“Change it how?” Veronica sounded a little surprised at the request but she was fairly calm.

So far, so good.

“Okay, here's the thing. Please hear me out,” Lena took a deep breath and tried to shove the nervousness away, “What if...what if Ankara wouldn't end up with Mon-El. What if she would find love with Lacrimosa instead?”

Chapter Text

“Can I trust you?” Ankara turned and looked Lacrimosa straight in the eye.

There was no hesitation when Lacrimosa answered “Yes. I know my word might not mean much to you but...”

Ankara gestured for her to stop talking, “Do you trust me?”

“With my life.”
Lacrimosa's reply was immediate and left no room for doubt.

It was a split-second decision and Ankara knew she might find herself in a whole lot of trouble for it but she wrapped her arms around Lacrimosa and told her to hold on tight.
Lacrimosa did so without question and hid her face in Ankara's neck, breathing against Kryptonian skin and Ankara tightened her own hold on her, her desire to shield this young woman from all harm overwhelming ”I'm sorry we can't go slow but we can't afford to lose any more time.”

Lacrimosa nodded in understanding and Ankara bent her knees before she catapulted them high into the sky.
It left Lacrimosa breathless and she started to feel dizzy at the speed they were going but before she could fully wrap her head around what was happening they landed on the terrace of a building on the outskirts of town.

“Where are we?”
Lacrimosa had barely voiced the question when armed men looking like soldiers appeared, weapons drawn, followed by Alyona Duncan who glared at her sister in disbelief, “What on earth are you doing here? And with HER of all people?”

Lacrimosa ducked her head and Ankara shoved her behind herself, shielded her with her own body, voice confident as ever, “We came to help because the city is under attack.”

Alyona sighed heavily but gestured for Ankara and Lacrimosa to follow her.
Either one of them was well aware that this was a complete disaster.

Once inside they came face to face with the director of the DEO, J'onn J'onnz who was having a heated discussion with none other than Mon-El, the Daxamite.

“What is going on here?” Ankara asked, eyeing all of them suspiciously.

J'onn glared at Alyona in disapproval, “Who gave you permission to bring them here?”

“I didn't. They just showed up,” Alyona defended weakly. She really wanted to strangle her sister.

“I see,” the director said, “Well since you are already here...we might as well talk.”

Ankara shook her head, “I can't. The city...the city is under attack. I need to go...help...”

Mon-El dropped his head in shame, “You can't. Not alone. Not without a plan. The Daxamites are invading Metropolis.”

Ankara's eyes grew wide in surprise and horror, “What?!”
----------------------------

They had theorized for a while but they were running in circles.
Mon-El was convinced that his presence was the only reason for the Daxamite invasion which had made Ankara snort in amusement. He really was so full of himself.

Other than a couple of explosions nothing had happened so far but the armed forces had been alerted and soldiers all over the state were getting ready to come to Metropolis' aid.
Tanks were already roaming the streets and Ankara knew that everyone was preparing for war.

“You are aware that you can't go back home, Misses Van Lothringen?” the director said all of a sudden, causing the room to fall silent.

“She's not like the rest of her family,” Ankara jumped to her defense right away, “She knew my secret since forever and she never told anyone. She protected me from her family. She protected us,” Ankara looked at her sister who's eyes went wide in surprise, “She remembered?”

“I did,” Lacrimosa admitted.

“Can someone please tell me what the three of you are talking about?” J'onn growled out, looking at his agent in confusion.
And so they did.

It was then that the director of the DEO finally understood why the alien hero of Metropolis had come to the DEO uninvited, why she put her trust in their help, and why Lacrimosa Van Lothringen's presence was such a big deal.
Interesting.

“Thank you for your honesty. But that's even more reason Lacrimosa can't go back home. It's too dangerous. If her mother found out what she has done...the risk is too high because we don't know what Lavinia would do,” J'onn J'onnz, who had more than one unfortunate run-in with the Van Lothringens over the years, stated.

“She'll stay with us then,” Ankara said, causing Alyona to look at her in bewilderment.

“It's fine. I do have a...trust fund. I'll just get a hotel room,” Lacrimosa chimed in but Ankara shook her head vehemently, “Nonsense. You did nothing wrong and you are my friend now. Plus, you need someone to watch your back. You'll stay with us.”
She looked at her sister, daring her to disagree but Alyona only sighed in defeat, “Fine.”

“Now back to the Daxamites,” J'onn showed Ankara some blueprints of their space ships, “They could open fire but those ships aren't created for battle. If anything they will send down their own armies and we all know that alien guns are no joke.”

“Daxamites have to have weaknesses, no?” Alyona asked and looked at Mon-El, who seemed rather uncomfortable all of a sudden, “I contacted the DEO to help, not to get killed.”

“No one wants to kill you,” Ankara snapped, “This isn't about you. Don't tell me your mother would send a whole army just to drag you back home. This is an invasion! Help us or leave.”

“Actually,” the director said, “He can't leave. He might have conspired with his mother all along. And Daxamites greatest weakness is lead.”

Mon-El's eyes grew wide in horror, “Are you arresting me?”

Lacrimosa interrupted with brightly shining eyes, “Lead, you say? I might have an idea.”

 

The last daughter of Krypton: Invasion
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena waited for a reply but none came, “Veronica?”

“Y-yeah. I'm still here. I'm just...would you repeat what you just said?”

Lena sighed, “I know it's not what I planned to do but...Ankara and Mon-El...I don't see that it can work.”

“And you think Ankara and Lacrimosa will?” Veronica asked and Lena could tell that her agent didn't know what to make of the idea.

“I'm not sure yet. But I think it's worth considering. When Kara brought it up...”

“Kara?”
Veronica's surprised tone caught Lena off guard.
She hadn't meant to tell her agent that.

“She's the only one I can talk to since I'm stuck here. And she's read all the books. We just talked one night and she mentioned to me that to her it would make more sense,” Lena tried to explain.

“Relax,” Veronica interrupted, “No need to get defensive, Lena. A different perspective can't hurt. But I assume you've given this some real thought. Do you think it could work?”

“Yes,” Lena admitted and held her breath.

“Then do it,” Veronica said as if it would be no big thing.

“Really?!”

“They are your characters, Lena. Your books. Your vision. You have to be happy with the end result too. There's nothing in your contract that specifies Ankara's relationship has to be with a man. I would know. I put the contract together,” Veronica chuckled, “Maxwell is going to have a field day with this.”

Lena sighed, “We both know he'll never approve.”

“Probably not,” Veronica agreed, “But that's for me to worry about, darling. I want you to focus on finishing that masterpiece of yours. Leave the rest to me. I'll deal with Maxwell.”

“V, are you sure?”
Lena wasn't convinced. Not at all.
Veronica had fought so many battles for her over the years and she felt guilty for putting her through this now as well, especially since it was so last minute.

“Positive. Don't worry about it, Lena. I've got your back.”
Veronica laughed out loud then, “You know...if you had told me you had a crush on Kara I wouldn't be half as surprised. But changing the plot...”

“What?!”
Lena was sure she must have heard wrong.

“Now, don't play dumb now, Lena. Kara is gorgeous. Surely you've noticed that by now what with you spending so much time with her. And she's smart and kind. You could do a lot worse.”

Lena didn't know what to say.
She did like Kara and Veronica was right – Kara was beautiful.
And kind. And smart.
And yes, she could do so much worse but.
Just because she felt incredibly drawn to Kara, just because Kara made her feel warm and safe and...

“She works for me. Well, technically she works for you,” Lena rasped out in the end.

“So?” Veronica asked, apparently oblivious to Lena's inner turmoil, “What does it really matter, Lena? If you would like one another...the heart wants what the heart wants. Plus, she's not going to be your bodyguard forever.”

“I...I'm not,” Lena stammered, her mind in overdrive once again.

“Calm down, Lena. You are giving yourself an aneurysm,” Veronica's voice was gentle now, “No one says you have to be anything other than yourself. What I meant is that there would be nothing wrong with you if you were interested in Kara. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Good. That's my girl,” Veronica praised, “Now...go back to writing or whatever you have planned for your evening. And I'll give our lovely Maxwell Lord a phone call he'll never forget.”

Lena had to smile at the threatening tone in Veronica's voice.
Her agent was quite something.
----------------------------------------

Lena had gotten to work right after she had ended her phone call with Veronica.
She had grabbed her notebook and had started scribbling until dinner had been ready. She had returned to taking more and more notes as soon as she had finished eating.

Kara had only smiled at her.

Lena had watched her out of the corner of her eye.
First Kara had lit a fire, then she had grabbed the book she was currently reading and had taken her seat in the armchair next to the fireplace.
She hadn't spoken a word since.

It was only when her eyes started drooping that Lena realized that it was past midnight.
Where had the time gone?

“Ready to call it a night?” Kara asked all of a sudden, causing Lena to jump, “Uh...yeah.”

“Alright. I'll take Krypto outside while you get ready for bed.”

And before Lena could say anything Kara and Krypto were already gone.
----------------------------------------

Lena was already in bed when Kara came back.
She debated whether or not she should pretend to be asleep as she waited for Kara to get changed and caught herself chuckling at the absurdity of the idea.
Why would she do that?
Why would she try and avoid Kara when nothing was wrong?

Krypto was resting at her feet, eyeing her curiously.
Lena swore that the dog could read her mind.

When Kara entered the room and turned on the light Lena felt slightly irritated, even more so when Kara walked over to her bed, “Eliza is right. You need to do some stretches. For your leg.”

“Now?!”

Kara nodded, “I'm sorry that I haven't thought of it sooner but with everything that has happened...it slipped my mind. Won't take long though, I promise.”

Lena got out from under the covers and sat up, unsure what to do.
Kara knelt down right in front of her and Lena watched Kara's hands wrap around the cast, observed Kara lifting her leg.
To Lena's big surprise it actually hurt to properly stretch.
It wasn't too bad but it hurt nonetheless.

Lena was so focused on the discomfort in her leg that she only realized that Kara's left hand was no longer on her ankle but placed on the back of her knee. And with the next stretch, Kara's hand moved up towards her thigh and Lena immediately held her breath.
Why she did that, she didn't know, and then her heart started to beat faster as well.

“Your muscles are awfully tense,” Kara announced and Lena almost jumped out of her skin. She felt as if she had been caught doing something forbidden, although she wasn't sure why she felt like that.

“We'll do more stretches tomorrow and I'll start massaging your muscles. You'll be back on your feet in no time. Once Eliza brings the boot it will get better and you'll be able to move around more,” Kara said with a smile, squeezed her thigh encouragingly while she smiled at Lena, and then she got up at last.

Lena nodded dumbly and moved back under the covers.
Kara did the same and turned off the light.

“Good night, Lena.”

Lena was too caught up in her own mind to react. And her heart was beating a mile a minute.
----------------------------------

The weather was nice the next day and so Kara suggested that they should take advantage of the beautiful fall day because the stormier ones would come soon enough.
Lena agreed and that was why she found herself sitting on a tree trunk, wrapped in a blanket, enjoying a fresh mug of tea after breakfast.

Kara was running some exercises with Krypto and although Lena had brought her notebook she was too mesmerized by Kara and her dog to pick it up, let alone write.
There was something about Kara Danvers that had captured her attention like nothing else ever had before.

It had to be Kara's radiant smile, the sparkle in her expressive blue eyes.
And it had Lena wonder if maybe, just maybe, there could be some truth to Veronica's words.

When Kara started to chop firewood Lena grabbed her notebook and jotted down an idea that had just struck her but ultimately she went back to glancing at Kara every other moment.

Their eyes met eventually and Lena blushed furiously while Kara smiled at her disarmingly, sweat glistering on her head, “I'm done in a few.”

“It's fine,” Lena croaked out, “Take your time.”

Kara nodded and continued her work but Lena couldn't focus on writing. Her thoughts drifted off to Ankara and Lacrimosa alright but before she knew it their faces turned into Kara's and hers once more.
Lena saw herself sitting on the couch with Kara, huddled together with a blanket covering them to keep them warm and they were laughing, God, they were laughing so much that the mere thought had Lena smiling as well.
They looked so carefree in her imagination, so happy.

“Ready to go back inside? It's getting chilly.”

Kara's voice ripped the beautiful illusion away but it was replaced by gentle blue eyes and the sweetest smile focus on her and Lena nodded for lack of words.
She found herself speechless in Kara's presence quite often these days if she was honest.

Lena clutched the mug in her hands as Kara stepped closer and helped her back on her feet. The ground was too uneven to use her crutches without the risk of falling over so Kara had walked her outside earlier, holding her close.
This time around Lena felt her good leg wobble slightly from the sheer nervousness of being so close to Kara once more.
This got more embarrassing by the day.

Lena cursed under her breath and Kara caught onto her shaky posture, observant as ever.
And before Lena knew it Kara had swept her off her leg and was carrying her bridal style. The protest died on Lena's lips when she saw the concern in Kara's eyes and she dropped her head to Kara's shoulder instead.
---------------------------------------------------

 

Lena took more notes while Kara went for a quick shower and once they were both back in the living room Lena put on her black-rimmed glasses, turned on her laptop, and started writing.

Kara watched her for a while before she opened her book which had made Lena smile to herself. She loved how much time Kara spent reading.

A new routine was born that afternoon that would last till the weekend.
Kara would make breakfast.
Afterward, she would help Lena do some stretches.
Then Kara would go outside to exercise together with Krypto and Lena would often watch through the window when it was too cold to sit outside.

Sometimes they would discuss the book Kara was reading for a couple of minutes before Lena would return to her writing and Kara would engage in more reading.
Kara would cook dinner and Lena would write some more as the words seemed to flow from her fingers these days.

They would eat dinner and chat about whatever it was that was on their mind that day. They had a few heated discussions about movies, books, and music during that week but they always found common ground.

Lena would take time to re-read what she had written that day after dinner and before bed Kara would help her stretch her leg some more.
She even massaged Lena's tense muscles at times which lead to some awkward situations which both of them ignored in the end.

It was a simple life but it was peaceful and Lena was finally getting some work done in the safety of the little cabin in the woods.
And she was grateful for that.

But then came Saturday.
Alex had called two days prior to let them know she would come to visit on Saturday, together with her wife and while Kara was ecstatic Lena was a nervous wreck.

Of course, she had met Alex Danvers before but then it had been professional. This was a social visit though, wasn't it?
Alex didn't come for work, she came because she wanted to see her sister and she would drag her wife along as well.

Funny enough it hadn't felt that weird when Eliza Danvers had shown up here but then again Lena hadn't known what she knew now.
Oh God, this would be a disaster!
Maybe she should just hide away in the bedroom and write. Or pretend to sleep.

“You do realize that all of us are dying for you to finish that book...no matter how it ends. So, no one is going to kill you. You don't have to be nervous. It's just Alex and Maggie,” Kara said with an amused smile and poured some tea into Lena's mug.

“Oh, I see how it is!” Lena chuckled, her nervousness forgotten for the moment, “You are protecting me so I finish the book. And then good riddance.”

Kara laughed out loud, mischief shining in her sparkling blue eyes, “Busted, damn!”

Lena chimed in and they shared a laugh before she sobered up, “You might be an awesome bodyguard, Kara Danvers. But you are a terrible liar.”

“I know. But I don't necessarily think that's a flaw,” Kara replied with a shrug.

“It's not,” Lena reached across the table and squeezed Kara's hand in assurance, “I really appreciate your honesty. Too many people have lied to me in my life.”

Kara nodded in understanding, “Which reminds me. Leslie wants to talk to us on Monday. She's been digging and turns out that the tracking app has been on your phone for quite some time. It was installed even before that car almost ran you over.”

Lena's eyes grew wide in horror, “What?!”

“I'm sorry. But we really need to figure out who had access to your phone,” Kara explained, “You don't think Veronica could have anything to do with all of this, do you?”

“Veronica?!” Lena felt dizzy, “No. Never. Veronica is the one person who always had my back. What reason could she have to...it makes no sense.”

It was Kara's turn to squeeze Lena's hand, her grip gentle but firm, “Okay. Don't worry about it. Either way, you'll be safe here until we figure it all out.”

“It can't be her. It can't be Veronica,” Lena felt the tears welling in her eyes. Veronica was one of her closest confidants, next to Sam and Jack. It couldn't be.
It would destroy her.

Her mind was close to spiraling but she was saved by a knock on the door.
Alex and Maggie had arrived.

Chapter Text

J'onn J'onnz hands Lacrimosa a new cell phone after she tells them that she left hers in her lab in case her mother would try to locate it.
Lacrimosa tells them that chances of anyone realizing that she is “missing” are basically zero because Lavinia deems her cancer research “a waste of time” when Lacrimosa really should be focusing on helping them to get rid of the alien population. She also tells them that she hasn't seen or spoken to her mother or brother in weeks and Ankara's heart aches for her.

Hating aliens is one thing but not caring the slightest bit about your daughter and her well-being is another and Ankara feels so much gratitude when she shares a lot with her sister, both of them fully aware that not every family is as supportive and loving as their own.

Ankara offers to fly them back home but the director tells her it's too risky and Ankara and Lacrimosa find themselves in a DEO SUV only a couple of minutes later.
Alyona had stayed behind because her work had just begun.

Lacrimosa doesn't say a word during the drive but Ankara isn't surprised. There's a lot to process and the consequences of Lacrimosa's actions are a hard pill to swallow, even though she isn't all that close with her family.

There is an emergency plan that Lacrimosa has brought up – if all else fails.
Brainy would have to hack the Van Lothringen's rocket launchers, so they would blow lead particles into the air, poisoning the Daxamites.
Lacrimosa had to do calculations to ensure no human would fall victim to lead poisoning but for that, she needed her work laptop.
Jonathan Duncan had been contacted earlier and he had promised that he would try to get it first thing in the morning even though no one had told him why they needed it.

So far no attacks on the city had been launched except for the explosions and the president was currently trying to get in contact with the Daxamite ships which left the DEO's hands bound anyway.
At least for the time being.

It was past 3 am when they finally entered the apartment and Ankara looked at Lacrimosa sheepishly only to realize that her newfound friend looked exhausted to the bone.
She disappeared into her room and retrieved her favorite pair of flannel pajama bottoms and a T-shirt that had the cookie monster on it. It was well worn but the comfiest shirt Ankara possessed and Lacrimosa laughed when she handed the items to her before she showed her the way to the bathroom so Lacrimosa could get ready for bed. She found a spare toothbrush too and Ankara was quite proud of herself.

She changed her bedsheets in record time and Lacrimosa returned looking more adorable than Ankara could ever have imagined, voice free of her heavy makeup, she told her guest that she would sleep on the couch so Lacrimosa could have some privacy and stay in Ankara's room.

She had expected Lacrimosa to be grateful but green eyes only looked at her worriedly and it hit Ankara at that moment that Lacrimosa had to be scared out of her mind. She was going against her whole family, against everything she knew after all and if Lavinia and Lucius found out Lacrimosa would lose everything.

Without thinking about it twice Ankara used her super-speed to build a pillow fort in the living room and got ready for bed.
In the blink of an eye, more or less.

Lacrimosa looked at her in awe before they both lay down in said pillow fort, the sounds of some cartoon on TV the only noise.

“I've never been in a pillow fort before,” Lacrimosa confessed, “Then again...I never had a friend either.”

Ankara took her cold, shaking hands between her own to warm them up and she smiled earnestly, “You do now.”
----------------------------------------

Alyona wasn't amused when she returned to the apartment in the early morning to find a pillow fort in their living room. Then again she wasn't all that excited to share their place with Lacrimosa Van Lothringen either but she knew her sister.
Once Ankara had set her mind to something there was no arguing with her.
She still wasn't convinced that Lacrimosa showing up wasn't some kind of scheme but in case that what the young woman said was true they had to help her.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Wasn't that what they said?
So, Lacrimosa's presence was a win either way.

She showered quickly and by the time Alyona returned from the bathroom, Ankara and Lacrimosa were fixing breakfast and setting the table.
It was a bizarre sight and it got even weirder when their father showed up only minutes later, laptop in hand.

He stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he caught sight of Lacrimosa, well aware that something wasn't quite right (other than the Daxamite invasion) but he didn't ask. If his daughters would want him to know they would tell him, he was sure of it.
He promised to cover for Lacrimosa though, should the need arrive, before he left.

Lacrimosa got to work on her calculations right away, Alyona decided to take a nap and Ankara dashed off to patrol the city.

The peace they felt in that moment was a delicate one and it only lasted till the afternoon when the negotiations between the president and Queen Rhea of Daxam failed and the first Daxamite soldiers showed up in the streets of Metropolis, opening fire.

Ankara flew her sister and Lacrimosa to the DEO right away before she joined the battle in the streets of the city she called home.

Everyone at the DEO started preparing lead missiles based on Lacrimosa's calculations and Brainy started hacking the Van L – Corp rocket launchers but it would take time to prepare.
All hope rested on Ankara's and J'onn's shoulders, who had joined her moments ago.

The city had turned into a war zone by the time night fell but then Lucian Van Lothringen showed up, wearing some kind of war suit. He was accompanied by an army of weapon-carrying soldiers with brand new equipment. Guns meant to kill every alien they struck and Lucian made it very clear that he would show no mercy.

It led Ankara and J'onn to retreat for the moment and once they landed at the DEO they learned that the missiles were almost ready to be launched.
Mon-El, who had tried to reason with his mother, looked utterly defeated because once the lead would be in the air it would become toxic for all Daxamites, including him.

“There's one cell at the DEO with an air filtering system that can protect you,” Brainy said, “I've worked on it all day. Lacrimosa helped. You'd have to stay in there for the foreseeable future though. Till we figure out how to get rid of the lead in the air.”

Ankara looked at him expectantly, “This war is far from over. But you have to decide right now, Mon-El? Will you leave or do want to you stay?”

The last daughter of Krypton: Invasion
by L. K. Luthor

 

“Little Danvers!”

Lena watched as the woman who had to be Kara's sister-in-law hugged her bodyguard close.
It was a bit ironic because Kara was quite a few inches taller than Maggie Sawyer but Lena could tell that Kara “looked up” to her sister's wife.

Kara stepped back and gestured towards Lena, “Maggie, meet Lena Luthor,” before she went to hug her sister.

“Miss Luthor, it's my pleasure,” Maggie held out her hand and Lena shook it quickly, “Please, call me Lena.”

Maggie nodded with a smile, “Very well.”

Krypto was barking and running around in circles until Maggie and Alex finally dropped to their knees to greet and pat him, much to Lena's and Kara's amusement.

“I'll make some tea,” Kara announced and helped Lena to sit down on the couch before she headed to the stove.

“We've got food in the car. I'll grab it real quick,” Alex was out of the door before anyone could blink.
She came back with two baskets filled to the brim only moments later, causing Kara to roll her eyes, “Well, we sure won't starve anytime soon.”

Alex chuckled, “You know mom. She said she'll come by tomorrow with a boot for Lena's leg.”

“That's great,” Kara smiled and the two sisters put the food away while Maggie took a seat next to Lena, “Don't bother interrupting them. They're always like this.”

Lena nodded and smiled.
It was nice to see how loving a family Kara had found after everything she has been through. She was happy for her, truly.
She only wished her family would have been anything like that growing up.
------------------------------------

Kara had made it a point not to talk about work and Lena had appreciated it greatly. She really needed a break, the thought of Veronica possibly being the one who wanted to see her dead weighing her down enough as it was.

They ended up playing scrabble and of course, Lena beat them all, much to Alex's dismay which caused Maggie and Kara to laugh uncontrollably.
It filled Lena with a lightness she hadn't felt in weeks and she reveled in the feeling, soaked it up because she was well aware that it wouldn't last.

Alex shared some of Kara's more ridiculous misfortunes during her teenage days as some sort of “revenge” and Kara ended curled up in the corner of the couch, pouting, when Alex told the tale of how Kara wanted to impress their trainer Hank, only to end up flat on her nose because had stumbled over her shoelaces.

Lena scooted closer to her immediately and squeezed her hand encouragingly, “It changes nothing. Kara Danvers, you'll always be my hero.”

Kara beamed at her, eyes shining in delight, and Lena couldn't help but smile at the woman who had become so dear to her.

“I don't know about you but I could eat,” Maggie said eventually to lessen the tension that had started to build in the room and Alex nodded at her gratefully.

They ended up eating way too much while Alex and Maggie shared the story of how they had met, one stubborn detective and an even more stubborn bodyguard.
At a crime scene of all things because Alex had come to a woman's aid who had been robbed in the middle of the night. Needless to say, the robber had regretted his actions immensely once she had broken his nose, jaw, and arm.

They had butted heads quite a bit and yet it had left both of them intrigued and so they had met for drinks and Maggie had told Alex straight to the face that she thought Alex was into her which Kara's sister had kept denying for weeks afterward.
Alex told Lena that she hadn't been very comfortable with her sexuality in the beginning, that she had struggled quite a bit but with Kara's help, her parents' support, and Maggie's patience she had managed to find herself and she hadn't regretted it since.

Lena smiled at them because she could see how happy Alex and Maggie were together and she envied them if she was honest.
She had never seen two people more in love, more devoted to one another in such an organic way. It all seemed so natural, in perfect balance and it made Lena realize once again that she wanted that without someone someday.
The fact that her mind kept whispering Kara's name was something Lena decided not to dwell on for the moment.
-------------------------------------

Kara and Alex were outside with Krypto which left Lena in the company of Maggie Sawyer who eyed her curiously.

“She's good people. Little Danvers I mean,” Maggie said after a while, “She cares a lot about you. And not because it's her job.”

Lena looked at Maggie in confusion, “What are you saying?”

Maggie sighed, “Because Kara has a job to do. To keep you safe. Please, don't make it harder on her than it has to be.”

“I'm not...I don't know...” Lena was struggling for words. She wanted to play dumb but she couldn't. Not in that moment because she knew that Maggie saw right through her.
In the end, she sighed in defeat, “I've never felt like this before and I don't know how to...”

Maggie gave her an encouraging smile, “I get it, Lena. Believe me, I do. It's impossible not to love them. It's a Danvers thing, I swear. Even their parents are awesome. And I'm not saying it can never be, you know that, right? Just let them save your life first, okay?”

Lena nodded, “Yeah. Okay.”

Maggie took a business card out of her jacket pocket and asked to borrow Lena's pen that was lying on the couch table, together with her notebook. She scribbled something on the back and handed it to Lena, “In case you wanna talk...just call.”

Lena took it with a shaking hand, touched by the unexpected kindness, “Thank you.”
------------------------------------

Meanwhile, Kara and Alex were sitting on the tree trunk, watching the stars.

“Maybe it would be better if Lucy took over. Or Imra,” Alex suggested carefully but Kara only looked at her in disbelief, “What? No! This is my job.”

“Kara...”

“I know, okay. I know,” Kara sighed and covered her face with her hands for a second before she took a deep breath and met her sister's worried eyes, “I never expected Lena to be so...I don't even know how to describe her. She's...everything.”

Alex wanted to say something but Kara shook her head, “But! I know emotions have no place in this right now. I do know that, Alex. I won't do anything to jeopardize Lena's safety. You of all people should know that.”

Alex pulled her sister close and hugged her fiercely, “It's not that I don't trust you, Kara. You are the best of us, we both know that. And I know that you could beat all of us, even on a bad day. I just don't want to see you suffer.”

“It's fine,” Kara replied, “It's not...ideal. But I've got this.”

“You sure?”

Kara nodded, “I'm sure.”

“Okay,” Alex nodded, “But if you change your mind...you'll call me. You have to promise me that.”

“I promise,” Kara answered sincerely but both of them knew that day would never come.

“And before I forget it...Lucy said that you should give her a call when you've got time.”
------------------------------------------

Maggie and Alex said their goodbyes not long after that.
They promised to come to visit again in case Kara's and Lena's stay at the cabin would take longer as no one could tell as of yet how much time they would need to catch the perpetrator.

Lena got ready for bed as soon as their visitors were gone because she was exhausted. Talking to more than one person all day had taken a bit of a toll on her since she wasn't used to it but she had to admit that she had enjoyed the Danvers – Sawyer madness immensely and was silently hoping for a repeat performance, preferably once this was all over and they could all be real friends.

“I've got a phone call to make,” Kara gestured towards her phone when Lena came to say good night and she told Kara to take her time.

She came to regret it a couple of minutes later when she heard Kara laughing and scream “Lucy Lane, shut up!”
Lena had thought Kara would be talking to her parents or probably Leslie but not Lucy.
Kara's ex-girlfriend.
And it didn't seem to be work-related it either if all the giggling and laughter coming from the living room were any indication.

Lena closed her eyes and tried to ignore the anxious feeling in her stomach but had to learn quickly that she wouldn't succeed.
God, this was all such a mess.
What was she supposed to do?

She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and sent a text message to Sam.
Her best friend was the person she truly missed these days.
Maybe they would find time to talk one of these days.

A reply came only a couple of minutes later.

Sam Arias: Lena! Thank God! It's so good to hear from you. Ruby and I were worried sick! And I'll always make time to talk to you. Maybe you can call tomorrow afternoon because I'm sure Ruby would love to talk to her godmother as well, even though you are not a fairy ;)

Lena smiled at the words and she vowed to take Ruby and Sam to Disney World once all of this would be over. They had talked about it many times but Lena had always been too busy but once she would finish the book she would change some things.
Lillian was right – it was time to live.

She heard Kara laugh once again and Lena was suddenly fighting back tears.
This whole thing was really getting out of hand, wasn't it?

She would get her boot tomorrow and then she would talk to Sam. Maybe she just had to talk to someone who didn't know Kara.
At least she would be able to move around a little and that alone would improve things for her quite a bit because she was sick and tired of sitting around.
Sure, she wouldn't be able to go hiking or anything but at least she wouldn't have to bother with the crutches anymore.
Small mercies, right?
--------------------------------

Lena must have fallen asleep before Kara had returned from her phone call because she couldn't remember Kara entering the bedroom.
And to Lena's big surprise Kara was still asleep too which meant that she had probably stayed up late, right?

She grabbed her phone and checked the time – 7.03 am.
Well, in Kara's defense – Lena usually didn't wake up that early usually.

She fished for her crutches and wrestled out of bed, careful not to wake her still-sleeping bodyguard because Lena knew that Kara needed the rest.
Kara had never complained but Lena was no idiot. She had noticed that Kara had trouble sleeping and she felt for her because Lena didn't even want to imagine how much pressure Kara was under.
One mistake and everything could blow up in their faces.
Worst case – they would both lose their lives in the process.

Lena managed to maneuver herself out of the room without waking Kara by some miracle, followed by Krypto, ever the watchful companion.
She closed the door behind her and hobbled to the front door, ordering the dog to go outside to do his business once she succeeded in unlocking it without dropping one of her crutches.

It was a chilly morning and Lena hoped that Krypto wouldn't take too long. He didn't disappoint when he returned to her side only two minutes later.

“What do you say, buddy? We make breakfast for Kara for a change?” Lena had to chuckle at the dog's excited tail wag.

She wished she could light a fire in the fireplace but Lena was well aware that she couldn't kneel down with her broken leg. The cast would not allow it.
So, coffee it was.
And whatever she would be able to cook. Not that she was overly good at it but it was the thought that counted, right?
--------------------------------------

Kara looked up utterly guilt-stricken when she appeared in the kitchen about half an hour later, even more so when she saw that the table was already set and Lena had made French Toast and coffee on her own.

“It's the only thing I can cook other than scrambled eggs,” Lena shrugged sheepishly, “Could you carry the plates over to the table, please?”

“I didn't mean to sleep in, I'm sorry,” Kara's voice was still raspy from sleep, “Sit down. I'll take care of the rest.”

Lena chuckled in amusement, “You get up at the crack of dawn every day. You tend to my every whim all the time, Kara. It's the least I could do and I'm glad that you got some sleep for a change.”

They chatted over a surprisingly delicious breakfast until Kara mentioned Lucy Lane. The name made Lena lose her appetite within seconds.

“Lucy says hi by the way. And she'd like to have a signed copy of that book you are currently writing,” Kara laughed out loud, “We are all huge fans of your writing in case you haven't realized by now.”

Lena nodded, “Of course.”

“Oh, and Lucy wants to go to the lodge in the Smokey Mountains once we solve your killer problem. It's such a nice place, nothing like this little shack. We rent it every year,” Kara rambled on while Lena paled even more.

“That sounds...nice.”
What else was she supposed to say?

“I know you're probably sick of cabin life already but Lucy was quite adamant about inviting you.”

“What?” Lena looked at Kara in confusion, “I...I appreciate the...the offer but...I don't want to interrupt. I mean...maybe you and Lucy could...”

Kara barked out a loud laugh at that, “Never! Don't get me wrong. I do love Lucy. I mean we dated once but she is like a sister to me now. Plus, I don't have a death wish. Livewire would kill me. Like probably not kill me kill me...but she could literally make my whole existence disappear. You have no idea what a fox she is with computers. You really don't want to get on her bad side.”

Lena was sure she looked as dumbfounded as she felt, “Lucy and Leslie are a couple?!”

Kara shrugged, “Right? I found it quite bizarre in the beginning but they are solid as a rock for months now. As long as they are happy...all power to them!”

Lena couldn't describe the wave of relief that washed over her body at that moment.
She couldn't ignore her wildly beating heart either.

“Would it be alright if I called Sam this afternoon? I haven't talked to her since before the explosion and I really miss my best friend,” Lena said eventually.

Kara shot her an understanding look, “Yes, of course. Just no details on our locations or about me. You know the drill. Just to be safe. Especially because the person tracking you, spying on you, could be doing the same with the people close to you. We have to take every precaution necessary to keep you safe.”

Lena nodded, “I understand.”

Kara sighed, “I know you don't want to hear it but in case Veronica would be behind it...I assume she knows all your friends?”

Lena dropped her head in defeat, “She does.”
-----------------------------------------------

Kara left Lena to her thoughts after breakfast and went outside to exercise with Krypto until her mother showed up around noon, carrying a big bag.
She hugged her gratefully and Eliza told her to come along because Kara needed to know how to help Lena put the boot back on in the morning.
Eliza had also brought a special brace for Lena to sleep in as the boot was quite bulky.

Kara made tea while Eliza sawed the cast open and helped Lena wash her leg before she fitted the boot and the brace to Lena's broken limb and showed them both how to put it on and take it off once she was done.

“Thank you so much, Misses Danvers!” Lena couldn't hide her excitement, causing Eliza to smile at her, “You're welcome, sweetheart. And it's Eliza.”

Then she turned to face Kara and turned serious, “You will not let her walk by herself in the beginning. It will be a bit of an adjustment and we really don't need Lena to fall and injure herself again, is that understood?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

The three of them had tea together afterward and Eliza told Kara that she would come by tomorrow before her night shift to deliver a box of food because the weather forecast had issued a storm warning for Tuesday. She also instructed Kara to stuck up on firewood because they both knew that things could get quite uncomfortable out there.
-----------------------------

Eliza left around three in the afternoon and Kara told Lena that she would be outside, chopping firewood.
Lena decided to stay inside and give Sam and Ruby a call.
At least then they would have some privacy.
------------------------------

When Kara came back inside Lena was in a way better mood.
It had been nice to talk to Sam and Ruby because for the duration of their phone call all her worries had been forgotten and she had been able to pretend that nothing was wrong and no one wanted to kill her.

Sam had sounded so worried in the beginning and had asked countless questions but Lena had told her that she couldn't answer most of them because she didn't want to put anyone at risk as there were so many things still unknown. She had assured Sam that she was fine and safe though and once she had mentioned their trip to Disney World all worries had been forgotten.
Ruby had shrieked in excitement and had told Lena that she was the "bestest" godmother in the whole world.
Sam had chuckled in amusement and had told Lena that she would hold her to her promise that she would take time for herself once the book was finished because they hadn't seen each other in ages.

“How old is Ruby?” Kara wanted to know.

“Seven,” Lena answered with a smile and showed her a picture of Ruby and herself on her phone.

Kara smiled at the sight, “Look at you two! You look totally adorable together.”

“It was quite the surprise when Sam came back from studying abroad...pregnant. But she's a great mom. She loves that kid more than anything. We both do,” Lena admitted with a smile of her own.

Kara nodded, “Shall we get you back on your feet?”

“Oh God, yes!”
------------------------------------

Kara had helped her stretch her leg, even though she was wearing the boot before she had allowed her to get up.
Lena had prepared for a wave of pain but it hadn't hurt as much as she had feared.

Kara had steadied her by holding her arms and she had taken her first steps with the boot, a concentrated frown on her face.

It took her a while to find her footing but when she finally managed to take a couple of steps on her own, without any help from Kara, Lena let out a victorious scream.

Kara chuckled and smiled, smiled so bright once again, lightening up the whole room and Lena threw herself at her, hugged her close, and caught herself wishing she would never have to let go again.

“Well done, Lena. I'm proud of you,” Kara whispered against her ear and Lena felt a shiver running down her spine.
She took a small step back so she could look into Kara's eyes.
Eyes that were so very earnest. Eyes that tempted Lena to drown in them.

She was falling in love with Kara Danvers, wasn't she?

Chapter Text

Ankara stared at the small army of suited-up DEO agents, weapons at the ready.
They would join her in the battle for Metropolis because it had become clear as day that Lucian Van Lothringen, despite his war suit and hired soldiers, couldn't do all that much and recent video footage showed that his suit was damaged and he had lost most of his strength.

“Everyone ready?” J'onn J'onnz's booming voice echoed through the halls of the DEO.

“Yes, sir!” agents shouted from all around.

Ankara nodded at J'onn, ready to take off when she felt someone gripping her arm. It was Lacrimosa.

“Be careful out there.”

Worried green eyes looked at her. Ankara smiled confidently, “I've got this. I have back up and I have you. Together we will save our home.”
And then she shot off into the night sky at, ready to defend Metropolis. Ready to defend Earth if necessary.

Agents stormed out to get into cars and drove off, leaving Lacrimosa and Brainy behind who followed everyone's movement on the various screens in the DEO.

Daxamites were swarming through the city but then Ankara landed right in the middle of them, accompanied by J'onn J'onnz, fighting their way through to the army of soldiers that had been sent to save the city.
Ankara approached the general and told him to fall back, to evacuate as many people as possible, protect civilians before she jumped back into the battle, throwing punches left and right.
The Daxamites were strong and she was hit by countless of their guns, draining her energy slowly but she fought on anyway.

“Get those missiles ready!” Ankara yelled as they drove a group of Daxamites further and further away from the city center.

“Understood,” came Brainy's response through her in-ear device.

Ankara got hit by another blast of a gun and she turned around to stare into the hateful eyes of none other than Lucian Van Lothringen.
She stumbled and fell to her knees but before Lucian could fire again he was sent flying into a building by J'onn J'onnz, who went after him before Ankara could blink.

Two of Lucian's soldiers appeared in her line of vision and she got back to her feet at the exact moment they opened fire at her with regular riffles.
Their eyes went wide in horror when they saw their bullets bounce off her chest like ping-pong balls before Ankara melted their weapons with her eyes.

And then she was off again, in search for the Queen of Daxam.

She found her without problem, right outside her spaceship, watching the destruction of Metropolis with a sinister smile on her face.

“Surrender or we will destroy you!” Ankara screamed, “Your son isn't coming back.”

“I don't want him to come back, silly girl,” Rhea snarled, “I want him to rule Earth.”

“That's never going to happen,” Ankara replied when she noticed missiles heading their way.
She rose into the air, “Goodbye, Rhea. Queen of Daxam. I wish you would have never come here.”

Ankara watched as the first missiles exploded and Daxamites started screeching in horror and agony.
What she didn't see was the gun that appeared in Rhea's hands but she felt the pain as soon as bullets made from Kryptonite hit her in her thigh and shoulder.

Ankara was irritated when she caught sight of the blood oozing from the wounds. Kryptonite could harm her here?
She mobilized her last reserves of energy and speed towards the DEO, only to crash-land on the terrace a couple of minutes later.
Her powers were gone too, she could tell.
Jonathan had been right – she could solar flare because her body got charged by the sun like a battery.

“Ankara!”

Lacrimosa's worried voice was the last thing she heard before her vision turned black.
-------------------------------------------

Her wounds hadn't been as severe as they had first looked because both bullets had gone through. Edith had said that it would have been worse if the bullets would have gotten stuck inside her body and yet Ankara didn't want a repeat performance.

She was battered and bruised and her powers were only slowly coming back.
Ankara wasn't used to experiencing pain as humans did and she didn't like it.

Lacrimosa and Brainy had started working on creating a sun lamp together with the engineers from the DEO to help her heal faster. Right now she could only rest on the couch uselessly while Metropolis was busy rebuilding.

At least the Daxamites had been defeated. There had been many casualties and the others had fled with the remaining space ships.
Lucian had gotten wounded badly and was currently in a coma.
Lavinia Van Lothringen was nowhere to be found which had raised many suspicions.

Ankara did worry but she would have to worry about it later.
First, she had to get her powers back.

She turned on the TV to watch the news and a smile started to spread on her face.
Some insanely brave reporter had kept sneaking around filming during the Daxamite attack and he had posted a clip of the Van Lothringen soldiers shooting her.
Of the bullets bouncing off of her chest.

For the longest time Ankara had been an unidentified alien, an unknown hero.
Now they called her The Girl of Steel.

The last daughter of Krypton: Invasion
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena had lain awake for a long time that night.
Of course, she knew what was going on. Deep down she knew.
It scared her in a way because she had never felt so drawn to anyone before and at the same time she felt giddy because the love she was longing, had been longing for since she could remember, could finally be within reach.
In case Kara returned her feelings.

Maggie seemed to think so but Lena wasn't convinced.
Kara was the kindest person she had ever met and who was to say that she cared for Lena the way Lena cared for her? Especially considering what Kara's job was.

Lena was completely out of her element because not only had she never felt like this before, she hadn't been with a woman before either.
She felt anxious and insecure and there was also the fact that her life was in danger.
The whole situation left her completely overwhelmed and Lena wasn't sure how to process all of it.

And because of that Lena had spent the better part of her night awake, staring at the ceiling while her thoughts raged and somersaulted in her mind.

She dragged herself out of bed groggily the next morning, using her crutches because Kara was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast, and Lena didn't dare to switch her brace for the boot by herself yet.

Krypto was sitting next to the stove, wagging his tail in an attempt to get some bacon, and at least that sight managed to put a small smile on Lena's face.
She had grown quite fond of Kara's four-legged companion and Lena caught herself considering getting a dog of her own at the sight.

She was tense and quiet during breakfast which didn't stay unnoticed by Kara but of course, Lena didn't have to explain why that was.
Kara knew as she always did.

Lena got up and returned to the bedroom wordlessly, she had to get dressed for the day after all.
----------------------------------

When Lena hobbled into the living room again about half an hour later, after brushing her teeth and braiding her hair, Kara was sitting on the living room couch, changing the bandage on her thigh.

“Does it still hurt?” Lena managed the last few steps towards the couch and sat down next to Kara, who shook her head and smiled, “Nah. Barely know it's there anymore.”

Lena leaned closer to inspect the healing wound, “It will leave a scar.”

She frowned at the thought but Kara only shrugged, “Means I'll never forget you. Not that I could...I mean...”

“Kara...”

Before either of them could say anything more Kara's cellphone rang.
Livewire was calling.

Kara answered on the third ring and told Leslie to hold on for one second. She put the new bandaid over her wound and put her sweatpants on properly before she gestured for Lena to put her leg up.
She would help her put the boot on while they talked to Leslie.

“What are you up to, Kara Danvers?” Leslie chuckled.

Kara sighed, “Could you not? I was changing bandages.”

“Sorry, boss. Are you okay though?”
Leslie sounded worried.

“Yup. Good as new. How are things on your end? Found anything of importance?”

Lena stared at the phone, her heart beating wildly.
What if Leslie had found anything that would point at Veronica?

“Not much I'm afraid,” Leslie admitted, “I searched the internet though. For people who tweeted or wrote about that incident with the car back in the day. Asked all of them to provide videos and pictures they had taken of the area that night. I know it's a long shot but maybe. Maggie managed to get me a copy of the surveillance videos from the stores in the area from back in the day but there was nothing useful. Almost looks like the driver wore a mask or something.”

Lena's eyes went wide.
How had Maggie managed to do that? Did she even want to know?

“But I thought...you know how it is. Kids take selfies and pics all the time. Someone could have caught something without realizing it. And it was easy enough to contact them what with social media these days,” Leslie explained.

“That's a brilliant idea, Livewire. Well done,” Kara praised, “What about that tracking app?”

“The incident with the car happened in August, correct?”

“Yes. August 7,” Lena confirmed.

“Right. So, here's the thing. The tracker was installed long before that. In March,” Leslie stated and Lena paled, “W-what?!”

“There are no entries in your calendar for March, except for the occasional meeting with your agent or your publisher. Do you know what you did on March 21 by any chance?” Leslie asked and Kara turned to look at Lena, who was struggling to remember.

What had she done on March 21? That had been over one and a half years ago.
How on earth should she remember that.

“It was a Saturday if that helps,” Leslie provided and it hit Lena then.

The party!
“I...there was a party. Veronica throws it every year for her clients. Now I remember. It was the weekend before I left for my book tour,” Lena paled even more.

“Does your agent have cameras on her property?” Kara asked and Lena shook her head, “Not that I know of. Well, there are some outside and at the front door but inside the house? I don't think so.”

“Even if there were...the recordings would have long been deleted,” Leslie chimed in, “Who was there?”

Lena thought about it for a moment, “Veronica, of course. Maxwell Lord. My friends. My mother. Some aspiring poets and writers. Most of Veronica's clients. A few reporters. James. Olson. My...ex-boyfriend.”

“Bad breakup?” Leslie wanted to know while Kara busied herself with closing the boot properly.

“No. Not really. I mean he wasn't the most understanding guy but I don't think he holds a grudge big enough to want me dead,” Lena said but wondered.

Leslie was typing something, they could hear, before she continued, “You'd be surprised, Miss Luthor. What about Maxwell Lord?”

“He's an ass, to be honest. But a brilliant publisher. I owe him a lot...then again he owes me a lot too. Most of all he needs me to finish my trilogy,” Lena summarized.

“Did you have your phone on you at all times?” Kara threw in and Lena shook her head, “Yes...no. No, I didn't!”

“Can you tell me where it was?” Leslie's interrogation continued.

“It was...in Veronica's office.”
Lena felt the tears well in her eyes.

“Did she lock it?”

“I don't know,” Lena tried to keep her breathing even, “I don't think so.

“One last question, Miss Luthor,” Leslie announced sympathetically, “Who knows the password for your phone?”

“Veronica, obviously. Jack and Sam. Ruby. Because it's Ruby's birthday actually. My mother I think. Fairly certain James could have figured it out while we were dating. Maxwell saw me type it in once I think. Though I don't know if he paid attention. It's hard to tell with him at times. Her creepy assistant knew it too. Mike,” Lena concluded.

“Ah yes. Mike, the intern. I asked Miss Sinclair about him and she gave me his contact information. He is living in Denmark now and is happily married. He left only weeks after she fired him and he hasn't returned to the US since. Also, he lacks the funds to hire someone to kill you.”

Lena nodded and Kara looked at her in concern.

“Interesting,” Leslie mumbled.

“What is it?” Kara was on high alert immediately.

“Miss Luthor, did you know that James Olson was in New Orleans the weekend you almost got poisoned? He was a guest in your hotel as well,” Leslie explained her findings.

“I didn't know...I haven't seen him. But...he could have been there for CatCo. He covers conventions all the time,” Lena replied, feeling sick.

“Well, I guess that's all for now. I'll do some digging and get back to you in case I find something.”

“Thanks, Livewire. We appreciate it,” Kara answered, trying to sound positive.

“Also, prepare for a massive storm. Looks bad on the radar,” Leslie added.

“Eliza already mentioned that. I've got it, don't worry,” Kara assured.

“Alright then. Call if you need anything or if anything else comes to mind. Take care.”

And then the line went dead.

Lena got up slowly and took a couple of steps towards the door.
She had to get out of here, she couldn't breathe.
All these suspicions drove her crazy. She would lose her mind soon.

“Lena, are you alright?”
Kara's voice was filled with worry but Lena ignored her. She needed a break. Thankfully Kara seemed to understand that and so Lena walked outside, pulling the door closed behind her.
As much as she appreciated Kara's presence, at that moment she had to be alone.
-------------------------------------------------

Lena was sitting on the tree trunk and she felt a warm blanket getting slung over her shoulders before arms wrapped around her from behind, “You are shivering.”

It was only then that Lena noticed her shaking hands, “How long have I been out here?”

“Almost three hours,” Kara replied, “I made some tea. Do you want to come back inside?”

Lena nodded numbly.
She hadn't even realized how much time had passed and she couldn't even remember what she had thought about while sitting outside.
Everything was a jumble and while she didn't want Veronica to be the one who want her dead she couldn't, for the life of her, imagine that James would be behind all of this madness. He was nowhere near clever enough to pull it off.
But Veronica?
It simply couldn't be.

Kara appeared in her line of vision and lifted her off the trunk without a word, carrying her inside bridal style once again.
She looked haunted if Lena was honest.

Once Lena was sitting comfortably on the couch, wrapped up in the blanket, Krypto at her feet, Kara brought her a mug of tea and stoked the fire in the fireplace.

“I have to chop more firewood and bring it inside. I checked the forecast. Leslie was right, it's going to get nasty,” Kara announced, already halfway to the door.

“Kara?”

Kara turned around and met Lena's eyes, “Yes?”

“Can we...can we talk later?”
Lena felt incredibly small at that moment and more insecure than usual.

“Of course,” Kara gave her a small smile, and then she walked out of the cabin and left Lena to her thoughts once more.
---------------------------------

Kara had spent the bigger part of the afternoon chopping firewood and carrying buckets of it inside, stacking it in the corner of the cabin.

It was the reason Lena decided to cook dinner for once.
The problem, of course, was her lack of cooking skills but Eliza had stopped by as promised with two bags of groceries and Lena had managed to make a salad.
She had also cooked sausages and a pan full of scrambled eggs. Together with the fresh bread, it would have to do.

Kara didn't seem to mind when she caught sight of the food that was waiting on the table and she thanked Lena a couple of times as she sat down, all the while smiling brightly.

“Are you feeling any better?” Kara asked between bites, seemingly worried.

Lena only shrugged helplessly, “I don't know what to think anymore.”

They stayed quiet for the rest of their dinner and Kara disappeared to take a shower as soon as she had cleaned the dishes.
Lena spent the time jutting down some notes and ideas for her book but she wasn't as productive as she wanted to be. Far from it.

When Kara returned she was wearing a fresh pair of sweatpants, a blue hoodie, and her hair was still wet. She added some wood to the fire before she retrieved a bottle of bourbon from the kitchen cupboard and two glasses.

She wasn't one to drink on the job but she had a feeling the conversation ahead would call for it and she was convinced that no one knew where they were hiding out. She wouldn't drink much but she had to do something to get rid of some of that tension before either one of them would snap.

Kara poured some bourbon into both glasses, mindful not to overdo it because Lena couldn't get drunk either since she had a broken leg and was walking with a boot. She wasn't sure getting wasted would be in the best interest of Lena's mental state either, so she played it safe before she put the bottle away again.

Lena was quite surprised when she handed her the glass before Kara took her seat in the armchair with her own, “You wanted to talk?”

Lena took a sip of her glass before she spoke, “Do you really think Veronica is the one who wants...”

“I wish I had an answer for you, Lena, but the truth is I simply don't know. We can't rule her out, that's all I do know.”

“But it makes no sense. Why would she even track me? If there is one person who is aware of my whereabouts pretty much all the time it's Veronica. I've known her for so many years and she's always been there for me. Always. She never let me down. Not once. What motive could she have?” Lena challenged because she needed answers. She needed to make sense of something because there was too much chaos in her head.

Kara took a sip of her own glass, “Lena, I'm not saying she is guilty. I simply don't know. Maybe Maxwell Lord thinks you are worth more dead than alive. Or maybe James Olson is a bitter broad...I simply don't know. We don't have enough to go on to even guess. You said it yourself...there's not even a motive. Who in their right mind would want to kill you?”

When Lena didn't reply Kara continued, “None of it makes sense to me, and yet here we are. Give Livewire some time to do some digging. She is our best bet in figuring it all out. If there is anything to find Livewire will find it.”

“I don't know what to believe anymore,” Lena admitted, “I don't know who to trust. Who is friend, who is foe? Who likes me for me?”

“I do,” Kara answered without hesitation.

Lena took another sip of bourbon, liquid courage, and another one before she looked Kara straight in the eye, “Do you? Because protecting me is your job right now and you get paid for spending your time with me.”

“I do love my job. It makes me feel useful. But you have to believe me when I tell you that it's the first time I wish we would have met under different circumstances. I wish we could simply sit here as two people instead of you being my client,” Kara revealed although she knew she was walking a very dangerous line.

“And why is that?” Lena's eyes never wavered. She dared Kara to say something, anything really. Something she could believe.

Kara knew it too and she cursed herself for being in this situation, to begin with.
She could play it all down, no, she should play it all down and pray that Lena would believe it. The problem was if she would lie and Lena would figure it out (and she was fairly certain that she would sooner or later) she would lose Lena's trust.
And how was she supposed to protect someone who didn't trust her?

Lena had to worry about so many people's honesty already and Kara didn't want to belong to that group.
She wanted Lena to feel safe with her, she wanted Lena to trust her.
She needed Lena to trust her. Lena's life was depending on it.
But could she tell her the truth?
Did she have another choice?

Kara emptied her glass in one go.
It was like ripping off a bandaid, wasn't it?

“I like you, Lena. And I don't mean in a bodyguard – client way. Not even in a friendly way. I mean we can be friends, hopefully. But I...I like you in a way you like someone who is more than just a friend. And I know I shouldn't because I have to do my job but I can't help how I feel.”

Lena didn't say anything which made Kara anxious, “You're probably uncomfortable with me here. Just the two of us. I can call Alex if you want. Someone can take over for me if you want me to leave. I...”

“I'm falling in love with you.”
Lena said it without fanfare because what would be the point?
Pretending wouldn't get them anywhere and she couldn't change how she felt either.

“W-what?!”
Kara looked at her in surprise, eyes wide open.

Lena took another sip of bourbon, savoring the taste, “I didn't realize it at first but I felt so drawn to you from the beginning. I feel so warm around you, so safe. Not just because you can protect me but because you understand me. I was only after you mentioned that my characters should get together, Ankara and Lacrimosa, that I began to understand what it was that I was feeling. Because every time I thought about the possibility of them becoming something more than friends I ended up thinking about you instead.”

“You thought about me.”
Kara said in disbelief, talking more to herself than to Lena at this point.

“I know we aren't supposed to fall in love. I know you have a job to do and I get that my life depends on it but I can't help how I feel, Kara. And neither can you.”

Kara dropped her head, “But we can't, Lena. Not right now. It's too dangerous. I can't get distracted. Once we've figured it all out...”

“Once you solve this mystery you'll move on to your next job and I might never see you again,” Lena snapped and regretted it immediately, “I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to come out so harsh.”

Kara got up, walked over to the couch, and sat down next to Lena. She held out her hand and waited for Lena to take it.
“If you really want to spend time with me once all of this is over we'll figure something out. I promise you, Lena. But right now I need to stay focused. I would never forgive myself if something happened to you because I got distracted. Okay?”

“I trust you to keep me safe, Kara. More than anyone. I know you will, no matter what,” Lena countered, her voice firm and confident.

“Please, Lena, don't make this harder than it is. We'll figure something out but I need time,” Kara pleaded, praying that Lena would see reason. Alex would kill her if she found out that she had told Lena.

“Alright.”
--------------------------------

Kara had gotten ready for bed first because Lena had wanted to take some more notes but now that they were both sitting on Lena's bed so Kara could change the boot for the brace once more the tension between them was almost palpable.

It had started to storm and rain while Lena had been in the bathroom but Kara knew it would get a lot worse before it would get better over the next couple of days if the forecast could be believed.

She put the boot down and the brace in place with practiced ease under Lena's watchful gaze when the unexpected sound of thunder caused Lena to jump.
Kara took Lena's shaking hands in her own and held them tight, “It's fine. It's just the storm.”

“I'm sorry,” Lena blushed out of embarrassment, “I'm awfully jumpy lately. I usually love thunderstorms but these days pretty much anything spooks me.”

“Understandably,” Kara squeezed her hands in encouragement.

Lena seemed to think for a moment, contemplating something before she spoke again, “Would you lay down with me? I promise I will be on my best behavior. I won't do anything but sleep, really. It's just...I slept better with you close.”

Kara sighed, “Lena, I don't know if that's such a good idea.”

“I'm scared I'll lose my mind, to be honest. I'm too scared to talk to my family, to my friends because I don't know who I can trust. My whole life has become a mess, Kara. I'm not even sure I can go back to the way things were once you found the culprit. How will I ever trust anyone again? I think I'll probably have to see a therapist to work through all of this anxiety. I don't sleep well and I'm tired. I just want to feel safe,” Lena explained, “And besides...I couldn't jump your bones if I tried. For one I have a broken leg. And you are like a ninja and I'm...not.”

Kara chuckled at the comment and nodded, “Alright.”

A grateful smile appeared on Lena's face, “Thank you.”

They slid under the covers and Kara pulled Lena into her side before she wrapped her arm around her protectively and held her close.
Lena's snuggled even closer and rested her head on Kara's shoulder, smile still in place, “Good night, Kara.”

Before she could think better of it Kara put a soft kiss to Lena's forehead, “Good night, Lena. Sweet dreams.”

Chapter Text

“Where is Lacrimosa?” Alyona asked when she returned from the DEO with a bag of takeout in hand, finding her sister curled up on the couch, watching cartoons. By herself.

Ankara looked at her in confusion, “I thought she was with you.”

Alyona shook her head, “I haven't seen her all day.”

Ankara breezed through the apartment, her powers finally returning, only to come back to the living room with wide eyes and a phone in hand, “She left her phone here.”

Alyona put the food down, retrieved her own cell phone, and dialed, “I don't like this.”
Before the call could connect she hung up when she saw the headlines on the TV.

LAVINIA VAN LOTHRINGEN AND DAUGHTER LACRIMOSA ARRIVED AT THE HOSPITAL TO VISIT INJURED LUCIAN

“Did you know about this?” Alyona snapped but Ankara only shook her head furiously, “Of course not! I would have never let her go! Alyona, I swear. She didn't want to go back. Why would she do that? And where was Lavinia to begin with? She disappeared after the invasion and now she is just waltzing into the hospital as if nothing has happened?”

Right at that moment Alyona's phone rang.
Brainy.
She picked up and her eyes went wide as she gestured towards her sister and mouthed a silent “Turn on the news.”

Ankara did as she was told and her eyes went comically wide.
Lavinia Van Lothringen was addressing the press as she came out of the hospital with Lacrimosa by her side.

Reporters were shouting questions like madmen but she only stood there stoic and wordless until the noise quieted down.

“My son, who so bravely defended our city, is still in a coma. The invasion of Metropolis is only more proof that aliens can't be trusted. They want to enslave us and serve them and I will never let this happen. It's the reason why I will follow my husband's footsteps into politics to push our anti-alien agenda. Metropolis, and this country, deserve to be safe. I'm pleased to announce that my daughter Lacrimosa will step up and take over the business at Van L – Corp. We will fight for you, people of Metropolis. And once Lucian has recovered he will too.”

Alyona and Ankara looked at each other dumbfounded.
Lacrimosa was taking over the company?
Had this been her plan all along?
Had she played them all?

Ankara's phone notified her of a new text message.
She grabbed it from the couch table and stopped dead in her tracks as soon as she read it.

Unknown sender: Things aren't always what they seem. I need you to trust me. L

 

The Girl of Steel: Enemies and allies
by L. K. Luthor

 

By the time Lena woke up the next morning Kara was no longer in bed.
A heavy sigh escaped her lips before she struggled into a sitting position, not sure what to make of their conversation last night.
Kara had held her close till morning, Lena was sure of it. She wondered what it would feel like to wake up to Kara's smile, strong arms still wrapped around her.
Would it feel as warm and as amazing as Lena thought it would?
Would she wake up to lazy kisses and gentle touches?
What would being with Kara be like, feel like?
And would she ever get a chance to find out?

Lena grabbed her crutches and made it into the kitchen, unsure what to expect but Kara smiled at her as soon as she saw her, and as far as Lena could tell the smile was genuine.
She spotted a wet Krypto next to the fireplace where a fire was already roaring and she looked at Kara in confusion.

“We went outside first thing in the morning. It's been pouring and it will only get worse later today,” Kara explained before she focused on finishing breakfast.

Lena dropped onto her chair, “I need to talk to Veronica...about...about my book. Do you think...I mean...can I call her?”

Kara turned around, plates in hand, her expression serious, “Of course. Lena, I know the situation is...”

“Can we talk about this later?” Lena deflected quickly because otherwise, she would lose her appetite.

“Sure.”
-------------------------------------

Lena had taken a shower after breakfast and once she had changed into her clothes for the day, a pair of black sweatpants and a forest green hoodie, Kara had helped her to put her boot on. Kara had also helped her to blow dry her hair while Lena had sat on the bed.

It had caused Lena's heart to beat faster because no one had ever done that for her.
No one had ever cared about her the way Kara did and Lena caught herself wishing once more that Kara wouldn't be on a job.
One day.
Maybe.

Kara had disappeared from the room a couple of minutes ago and returned with a triumphant smile and her laptop.

“It took me a while to get the satellite connection to work but you should be able to do a video call with Veronica for a couple of minutes,” she explained quickly, “We might lose power soon though. The sky looks ready to come crashing down, just a fair warning.”

“I can make a video call? To Veronica?” Lena asked in surprise and Kara nodded, “Yes. Maybe it will make you feel better. Just please, don't tell her where we are. I know you don't think she's involved but I'd rather not take any risks. Especially in this weather.”

Lena nodded dumbly and watched Kara grabbing her raincoat, “I'll take Krypto outside real quick. I want to check up on the cabin as well. I mean Jeremiah did a great job with electricity installments and whatnot back in the day but as I said...if the storm gets as bad as predicted we will lose power for a while. But we have a camping cooker and a whole box full of candles, so no worries.”

When Lena didn't say anything Kara gestured for Krypto to follow her, “See you in a few.”

Lena waited until she heard the front door fall close before she opened the program and saw that Kara had saved Veronica as a contact.
It wasn't all that surprising seeing as it had been Veronica who had hired her to begin with.

It rang a couple of times before the call connected and Lena could see the surprise on Veronica's face when she realized that it was Lena who called her, not Kara Danvers.

“Lena! It's so good to see you, darling. How are you?”

Lena couldn't help but smile, “Hey V! I'm good, thanks. Writing.”

Veronica clapped her hands in excitement, “Fabulous! Though I don't care about your writing all that much right now. I want you to be okay first. And safe.”

Lena felt her heart clench in her chest, “I'm fine, don't worry. I mean I will be better once I am back home and this whole ordeal is sorted out but all things considered I'm doing well, really. Have you talked to Maxwell yet?”

Veronica rolled her eyes dramatically and sighed, “I sure did. And let me tell you...it wasn't pleasant.”

Lena paled involuntarily, “What...what did he say?”

“Well...” Veronica drawled, “He wasn't amused as you can imagine. He isn't known to be open-minded. But...I explained to him that if he wants you to finish that trilogy he has to give you the freedom to write what feels right to you because you invented this whole universe. And that he should see it as a chance to widen his horizon. That you could write history and it would profit everyone.”

“And what did he say to that?” Lena was dying to know.

“He still said no,” Veronica chuckled, “And then I told him that if he didn't shut up we'll walk. That Andrea Rojas was dying to buy him out and that she would let you do whatever you wanted.”

Lena gasped, “She would never.”

Veronica shrugged, “Wouldn't she? Well, I guess she wouldn't. But Maxwell doesn't know that. You know how much he hates her. So he agreed.”

Lena's eyes went wide, “H-he did?!”

Veronica smirked, “Do you still doubt me, Lena? After all these years?”

“No, no,” Lena shook her head, “Of course not. I know you always get your way but Maxwell Lord...”

“It was my pleasure to knock him off his high horse, I assure you,” Veronica laughed in delight.

“So, I can write whatever I want. Even if that means Ankara and Lacrimosa...” Lena still couldn't believe it.

“Yes. You are free to give your characters the ending YOU think is worthy of them,” Veronica assured, “My god...can you remember our first meeting with Maxwell about the last book last year...when you finally admitted that there will be something of a happy ending and he almost jumped out of his seat.”

Lena laughed as well, “Yeah. He was so relieved that she was somewhat human after all. When was that again?”

“In September. After you came back from your book tour. You wanted to start writing right away. I don't remember the exact date though. Fourth of fifth of September I think,” Veronica mused and Lena nodded, “I think you are right.”

Neither of them spoke for a minute before Lena cleared her throat, “How long do I have to stay away from National City, V? I miss my home. My friends. I can't stay here forever.”

Veronica turned serious immediately, “As long as it takes. Lena, we will not take any chances when it comes to your life. Your safety is all that matters.”

“I know I can afford it but...how much is this whole circus costing me?” Lena asked because they had never discussed any of it but Veronica waved her off, “You don't have to worry about that, Lena. I was the one to hire Kara and I am the one paying for her services.”

“Veronica, I can't accept that!” Lena insisted.

But Veronica only smiled at her, “Good thing I'm not asking for your permission then, isn't it? Lena, you are family to me. And I would do anything to keep you safe.”

“I love you, V.”

“Love you too, darling.”

Lena could barely hold the tears back, “I better get back to work.”

“Of course. I have to leave for my meeting in a few as well. But it was so nice talking to you...well, face to face in a way. Take care, Lena. I'll see you soon.”
Veronica raised her hand for a wave-like gesture and Lena did the same, “See you, V.”

As soon as the call ended Lena closed the laptop and allowed her tears to fall.
Veronica couldn't be their culprit.
She couldn't be.
It was impossible.

Nobody was that great an actress, right?
The mere thought that there was still a chance that at the end of this road she would stare at Veronica's eyes, finding out that she was indeed the one who wanted to see her dead, made Lena die inside.

She could live with Lex being a psychopath, even her mother.
Or James for all she cared.
Even Maxwell Lord.
But not Veronica.

Veronica loved her.
She loved Ruby as well and considering that Sam had almost drunk that poison...
No, Lena didn't even want to think about that.

Veronica would have never risked Ruby losing her mother, right?
She could be a total shark when it came to business but deep down Veronica Sinclair was one of the kindest people she knew.
The thought that Veronica could have deceived her right from the start – unfathomable.
----------------------------------

“Lena, are you alright?”
Kara looked at her worriedly as soon as she appeared in the living room.

Lena wiped at her cheeks, trying to rid herself of the dried-up tears but gave up as soon as new ones started to fall. She shook her head and Kara was out of her seat in a second, pulling her into strong, safe arms, “Lena, what happened?”

“It can't be Veronica. It can't,” Lena sobbed into Kara's chest and held onto her shirt for dear life, “I don't know who it is but it's not Veronica. Please, Kara...”

Kara led Lena over to the couch and made her sit down, “Take a deep breath, Lena. And then tell me what Veronica said.”

Lena hid her face in her hands while she tried, with all her might, to stop her thoughts from spiraling further.
Darkness was creeping up her spine like a fog, she could feel it. It was spreading with every breath she took, engulfing her mind, threatening to swallow her whole.

She felt Kara pulling her hands from her face, holding them in her own, “Lena, I've got you. Please, tell me what happened.”

A few minutes passed until Lena finally regained some control over her thoughts and mind, clawing at Kara's hands as if they were her lifeline.
She quickly told Kara about her conversation with Veronica before she would break down again. She had embarrassed herself enough for one day.

“So, you see...why would she hire you and pay for all of it out of her own pocket if she wanted me dead? You have to admit...it makes no sense,” Lena finished, feeling the slightest bit triumphant because there was no beating that logic, right?

“It could be an alibi though,” Kara stated the obvious, and Lena felt as if she would have been doused with ice water.

“But,” Kara admitted, “You do have a point. What motive could she have? Because you just told me the first time you talked about that new book was in September. And why would Veronica want you dead before you finished that book? The same goes for Maxwell Lord. What would they have gained from it because they wouldn't even have had an unfinished manuscript? They would have had nothing at all. Unless it isn't about you in the first place. Maybe they have an old grudge against someone in your family?”

“Doubtful. My mother and Veronica aren't the closest of friends but they do get along just fine. Lex never interacted with her. Or with Maxwell for that matter. And Maxwell hasn't known my parents before I signed my first contract, I'm sure of it,” Lena's confidence grew.

Kara seemed to consider this new information for a moment, “And what about Veronica? Has she known your father?”

Lena wanted to say no but the truth is she didn't know.
Had Veronica and Lionel known one another? Surely someone would have told her about that, right?
Maybe she should give Lillian a call and ask her about that.

But before Lena could voice that thought the lights went out and the power was gone.

She leaned into Kara who wrapped her arm around her and held her close, “Don't worry, it's just the storm. Let me light some candles.”

Kara got up and Lena instantly felt the loss of her presence.
Now that she was sitting in a room that was almost completely dark because the fire had burned down significantly during their conversation Lena was even more scared than before.
The walls were closing in on her, at least that's what it felt like, and Lena struggled to keep her thoughts from spiraling again.

What if there was some dark family secret she didn't know about?
What if Veronica and Lionel...
Her father hadn't been the most faithful and.
No, she didn't even want to think about that. And it wouldn't be a reason to have her killed either, was it?
Veronica loved her, Lena didn't doubt that for a second.
Was it possible that she hated her too?

She heard Kara move around and then the light of the first candles illuminated the room, fighting off some of the darkness and the shadows that haunted her.
Kara put up more candles, some right in front of Lena on the couch table, before she made it over to the fireplace and got the fire burning properly again.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” Kara asked once she was satisfied with the setup and Lena only shook her head, “No. I think I'll try to write some. At least in my notebook. I don't want to get started on my laptop when I can't charge it.”

Kara nodded in understanding and left to retrieve the book she was currently reading. Lena followed her to the bedroom to get her notebook, a pen, and her glasses and they bumped into each other when Lena was about to enter the bedroom and Kara was in the process of leaving it.

Lena stumbled and tried to catch herself on the doorframe but missed in the dimly lit corner but Kara caught her before she could fall once more, their faces only mere inches apart.
Lena's heart was hammering in her chest like a drum and she was convinced that Kara had to notice it too. They were so close that she could feel Kara's breath on her face and the mere fact caused Lena's hands to tremble with excitement.

She caught herself wishing for Kara to close the distance between them, longed for Kara to make her forget, at least for a moment, but before Lena could so much as voice those thoughts Kara cleared her throat and took a step back.

“I'm sorry,” Kara let go of Lena as if burned, “Please, go and sit down. Let me grab your things. I don't want you to fall.”
-----------------------------------------

Lena had spent the next couple of hours scribbling and doodling in her notebook because she was too distracted to write a proper sentence.
Her mind had been reeling from her almost kiss with Kara – they had been so close, hadn't they?

But then the darkness had returned with full force and Lena had been swallowed up in absurd conspiracy theories that had her doubt everything she knew.
What if Veronica and Lionel had an affair?
Maybe Veronica had been pregnant and he had forced her to have an abortion?
She wouldn't put it past Lionel who had always done everything in his power to cover up his misdeed and mistakes.
Would that be a reason for Veronica to hate her enough to want her dead?

Lena knew that she was losing her mind, that her whole world was spiraling out of control but she didn't know how to make it stop.
She was lost and alone, caught in the dark, yearning for clarity and light more than anything because the suspense made her die alive.

“Are you hungry? Or do you want some tea?” Kara asked all of a sudden, pulling Lena out of her thoughts.

“Tea would be nice,” Lena gave Kara a small smile and watched her stoke the fire before she headed to the small kitchen.
The tension in the cabin was rising, Lena could tell, and there was nowhere to go because the storm was raging outside without pause.
-----------------------------------

Kara's hands were shaking while she waited for the tea water to heat up.
She had almost kissed Lena!

It would have been so easy and she had been so tempted. More tempted than ever before.
But she couldn't.
It wasn't right.

And her job wasn't even the only reason.
Lena wasn't in a good place and Kara didn't want to add to the madness Lena had found herself in recently.
It wouldn't do any good.

But Kara was no fool either.
She was only human and she was well aware that her self-control was weakening by the day because she could see that Lena was drowning and all Kara wanted to do was pull her close and never let go again.
If only it would be that easy.

Kara took a deep breath to steady herself before she poured hot water into the waiting mugs and returned to the living room, only to stumble at the sight of Lena, lost in thought, pen resting against her lips.
The fact that Lena was wearing her black-rimmed glasses didn't help either and she barely managed to catch herself, causing Lena to turn her head and look at her inquisitively, oblivious to Kara's inner turmoil, “Is something wrong?”

“No. No, of course not,” Kara put Lena's mug on the couch table and sat back down in the armchair, wrapping both of her hands around her own mug as not to drop it.
Jesus, she really had to get a grip!

Kara sipped her tea and returned to her book but then a loud, crashing sound disturbed their “bliss” and she was out of her seat like a flash.

Lena's eyes were wide in horror and Kara could tell that Lena was scared to death.
It pained her that she couldn't do anything about it at that moment but Kara knew she had to make sure that there was nothing amiss outside.

“Krypto, door!” Kara commanded and headed for the bedroom to retrieve her gun and a flashlight.
When she came back the dog was sitting next to the door, waiting.

Lena cowered in the corner of the couch.
The sight broke Kara's heart but Lena's safety was the most important thing. She would try to calm her down once she had made sure that there was no threat outside.
Could it really be that someone had found them?

“Get on the floor,” she told Lena before she ripped the door open and headed outside, together with a growling Krypto.
-------------------------------------

Lena was sitting on the floor as Kara had told her, shielded by the armchair. She was wrapped in a blanket because she was so unbelievably cold despite the fire in the fireplace was roaring next to her.

Fear threatened to choke her and Lena felt absolutely helpless.
Had they found them?
And if so – how?
She had only talked to Veronica today. She had also been the only one she had talked to via video call. Had that given their location away?
Was it really Veronica after all?

She had been so sure, so convinced, that Veronica couldn't be the culprit. That she didn't have a reason but now Lena's last remaining spark of trust had been shaken.
What if Kara wouldn't come back?
If she would get injured or worse?

What if?
Pictures of Kara's bloodied body, of lifeless blue eyes, popped up in her mind. She saw a dark figure, face hidden by a hood, weapons in both hands, making a run for her.

She couldn't take it anymore.
She was going crazy, she knew it.

Her whole life had turned into a nightmare and she was out of control, spiraling.
Her fears were paralyzing her, dragging her under.
Drowning her.

The door flew open and Lena jumped.
Footsteps.
Paws on wood.

“Lena?”
Kara's voice.

She tried to get up but her legs felt like jello.
Krypto appeared by her side and she pulled him against her chest, ignoring the fact that he was soaking wet.

The door closed and the footsteps came closer.

“Lena, everything is fine. It was just a tree branch that hit the cabin. Thankfully there was no damage to the roof.”

Kara finally came into view, drenched to the bones.
Lena held out her hands, begging Kara to help her to her feet.
Their eyes met in the dimly lit room.
And locked.

Blue eyes, darker than usual, sparkling like a night sky, were Lena's only beacon of hope.
Her anchor.
They helped her to focus and hold her head above water while she tried to escape the waves of anxiety surrounding her.

Kara grabbed her hands and pulled her up with enough force to land Lena straight in her arms.
The adrenaline rushing through her body made Lena feel unsteady on her own two feet, causing her to wobble but Kara's strong arms wrapped around her, held her close and Lena felt her lungs regaining a bit of air.

Kara was shielding her, protecting her from so much more than the world outside. She was also battling her demons with her and Lena could feel the warmth that always engulfed her heart when Kara was close spread throughout her whole chest.

But it was only when Kara leaned in and brought their lips together in the most gentle of kisses that real calm washed over her.
Lena cupped Kara's face with her shaking hands and deepened the kiss that had started as a featherlight dance, so it could turn into a passionate tango.

What had begun as a tiny spark in Ireland was rapidly turning into a wildfire, allowing their kindred souls to bond on a higher level.

And it was at that moment that everything stopped spinning and Lena's world finally stood still.

Chapter Text

Three weeks had passed since the Daxamites had been defeated.
Three weeks since Ankara had last seen Lacrimosa Van Lothringen.
At least in person.

She had flown by the Van L – Corp building at least twice on a daily basis to make sure that Lacrimosa was alright and Ankara had noticed quickly that her newfound friend had turned into a workaholic.

Pretty much everyone at the DEO was convinced that Lacrimosa had played them all to finally get her mother's recognition but Ankara doubted it.
There had to be more to it than that.

She read the text message every day, wondering if Lacrimosa could probably be in trouble.
Ankara wasn't sure why but she did indeed trust Lacrimosa even though everyone else thought she was a naive fool.
It didn't stop her from defending her friend either.

And when a sun lamp was delivered to the DEO a couple of days later from Van L – Corp with a note that said “It should help The Girl of Steel to recharge a lot faster. LVL“ Ankara only smiled at them in triumph before she dashed off to deal with a rogue alien causing havoc in the city.

They found out later that day that an alien prison from space had crash-landed on the outskirts of Metropolis and Ankara found herself surrounded by chaos and public outcry over the daily alien attacks all over the city they called home, led by none other than Lavinia Van Lothringen.

While the public had come to accept and love The Girl of Steel as one of their heroes, fear had a tight grip on the people of Metropolis and Ankara couldn't really blame them for their doubts and hate towards some aliens. At least not entirely.

She spent the next couple of weeks catching the criminal aliens that had escaped the crashed space prison before she finally managed to fling Fort Rozz back into space with an act of sheer will of mind because her powers, unlimited as they were, still hadn't been enough.

A solar flare had been the result but Lacrimosa's invention had helped her heal and get her powers back a lot sooner.
She would have to find a way to thank her friend for the sun lamp and her continued loyalty somehow.

Before Ankara could come up with an idea the news hit that Lavinia Van Lothringen had been arrested because the police had received evidence that hinted at Lavinia orchestrating the Daxamite invasion to force her anti-alien agenda.
Apparently, there was proof that Lavinia Van Lothringen had fooled Queen Rhea of Daxam into attacking Metropolis with empty promises of support and a key role in “ruling“ Metropolis and earth.

Ankara had a feeling that she knew exactly who had found that evidence.
It all made sense now, didn't it?
Lacrimosa returning to her mother's side, taking over Van L – Corp.

She must have been onto something and taking over the company had given Lacrimosa the opportunity and the access to dig deeper.

Ankara ripped off her clothes, revealing her suit, and dashed off toward Van L – Corp because she couldn't wait any longer to see Lacrimosa.
She had to tell her how amazing she was and how proud she was of her.

But as soon as Ankara landed in front of the building she knew something was wrong.
There were police everywhere and a seemingly hysterical woman was tended to by some paramedics.

“What happened?“ Ankara asked in alarm once she reached the woman.

“Lacrimosa Van Lothringen has been abducted,“ a young police officer standing nearby stated, “Her assistant saw it happening.“

Ankara knelt down, her cape fluttering in the wind, and met the woman's eyes, “Miss...“

“Jess. My name is J-jess,“ the woman rasped out between sobs and Ankara put a hand on her knee in an attempt to calm her, “Can you tell me what happened? I want to help.“

“I had to talk to security about Lacrimosa's new instructions after her mother had been arrested and I saw her get out of the car. She nodded at me in greeting and her driver closed the door after her before he got back into the car...and left. She was about to...to enter the building when two men jumped out of a van and...they grabbed her. They pulled a bag over her head and threw her into the van and...they took her,“ Jess explained between sobs.

“Do you remember any details about the men or the van?“ Ankara pressed, her hands clenched into fists.

The woman shook her head, “They wore masks and were dressed in black. But they had been sent by her mother, I'm sure of it. Because the van...it had one of those alien skull stickers. The one Lavinia wanted to use for her only-dead-aliens-are-good-aliens campaigns. They haven't been handed out yet though. Only Lavinia and Lucian's people had them already.“

Ankara nodded, a grim expression on her face, “Thank you, Jess.“

“She isn't like them, you know? Lacrimosa is a good person.“

Ankara squeezed the woman's hand, “I know. I'll get her back, I promise.“

And then Ankara shot off into the sky, determination written all over her face.
Lacrimosa was in trouble and she had no time to lose.
She had to save her.

The Girl of Steel: Enemies and allies
by L. K. Luthor

 

When they finally broke apart Kara and Lena were breathing heavily.

“I'm sorry. I shouldn't...“ Kara's eyes went wide when it finally dawned on her what just happened but Lena's grip only tightened, “Don't.“

“Lena...“

“Please don't try to apologize. Or tell me it was a mistake,“ Lena begged because Kara was her only piece of normalcy, of sanity, in this madness and if she'd lose that too, well, she didn't even want to think about what would happen to her then.

Her legs felt wobbly and Kara had to notice it too because before Lena could say anything else Kara swept her off her feet and carried her to the couch.

“Do you need anything?“ Kara looked ready to flee. To run off into the storm and never come back.

It unnerved Lena to see Kara so unsettled but she understood.
The job, the responsibility, all of it was weighing heavily on Kara's shoulders and that kiss had only made it worse.
In fact, that kiss was a lot to process for Lena as well.

“I'll take a quick shower then,“ Kara nodded to herself, added some logs to the fire, and disappeared in the bathroom without another word, leaving Lena to look after her with worry written all over her face.
-----------------------------------------

Lena sat on the couch in a daze, mind racing.
Kara had kissed her. She had kissed her back.
And it been everything she had imagined it to be and so much more.

Lena felt alive in a way she had never felt before.
She was caught up in the rush of it all, enlightened by the realization that this was about more than being attracted to women.
This was about Kara.

Kara, who had become her whole world, and not only because of the circumstances, but because she gave Lena a sense of belonging, a feeling of warmth and safety, of understanding.
And because Kara challenged and inspired her like no one else ever had and at this point, even though everything was so confusing, Kara was all she could see.

But Lena was also aware that Kara was somehow terrified to fail her, scared that their feelings would eventually harm her and she dreaded the moment that Kara would return from the bathroom because Lena knew that Kara would reject her.
At least for the time being.

The mere thought was almost too much to bear and Lena wished there was something she could do to convince Kara that they wouldn't be better off ignoring their feelings.
The proverbial cat was already out of the bag and there was nothing they could do to undo it.

Before Lena's thoughts could spiral out of control again, dragging her down a new abyss, Kara returned, looking at her as if she would be on the way to her execution.

“I think it might be better if someone else took over for me,“ Kara announced and dropped her head in defeat.

Lena's eyes grew wide in horror, “What?! No!“

“Lena...“

“NO!“ Lena was getting frantic because this was even worth than rejection, “Absolutely not. I want you, Kara. I trust you. It's either you or no one.“
Kara couldn't leave her. Not now when she questioned everything and everyone around her. No one could replace Kara and make her feel safe again if Kara were to leave.

“Lena, I can't protect you like this. I've never lost control like that before. If something were to happen to you...I would never forgive myself,“ Kara pleaded but Lena wouldn't hear it, “Do you regret it? Do you regret kissing me?“

“I...it's not. Lena, you have to understand...“

Lena wrestled to her feet, “I do. I get that you are scared, Kara. I am scared too. But not because I doubt you or your judgment. Because there's no one I can trust right now. But I do trust you. I know you will keep me safe no matter what. I have absolutely no doubt about that.“
She made a few steps forward, slowly but deliberately.

Kara instantly took a step back, “What are you doing? Lena?“

“Answer me this...say someone else would take over for you. And something were to happen to me. Would it make you feel better that it wasn't you? Or would you feel guilty because you could have done more if you would have been here,“ Lena argued and took another step.

Kara bumped into the wall, “Lena, my colleagues are just as good as I am.“

Lena tilted her head, “Are they really? Because your sister said you are the best of you.“

A heavy sigh was Kara's first response, “I am the one with the most experience and the best training, yes. And of course, I'd blame myself if anything were to happen to you if I wouldn't be there.“

“Then stay.“
Lena walked across the room before she stopped right in front of Kara, only two steps separating them.

“I don't see how I could. I can't function around you. You are so...distracting. I just want to...I...“
Kara had debated about this during her whole shower.
She wanted to pull Lena close and never let go again and in a perfect world she wouldn't have to but her job was to keep Lena safe.
Well, at this point she'd do it even without being hired to do it.
Lena was all-consuming and she feared that it would cloud her judgment, ruin her concentration when it mattered and what if she failed?
What if Lena would die because of it?

“Say we pretend none of this happened. We pretend we don't care about one another, that we don't have feelings. That we didn't kiss...do you really think that would be better? Would not knowing make you work more efficiently? Because the way I see it you have even more reason to make sure I get out of this unscathed now. Am I wrong?“ Lena challenged and took the last two steps.

“No. No, you aren't wrong,“ Kara admitted, “But it's unethical.“

“I don't care, Kara. I'm not even saying we have to become a couple right now. We don't have to do anything. But don't tell me that there are no bodyguards who are involved with the people they are supposed to protect. I don't believe it,“ Lena stated, “This is new for me too. I've never...I think I've never really been in love before because no one else has ever made me feel so much. But if you don't want this...“
If you don't want me.

“That's not it!“ Kara interrupted but Lena continued, “If you don't want this I...understand. The question you really need to answer...for yourself...is...would it really be better if someone else would be here instead of you? Would I be safer? Because I doubt it.“

And then Lena stepped back, “I'm going to bed.“

“But we haven't even had dinner,“ Kara replied helplessly but Lena only smiled sadly, “I'm not hungry.“

Kara watched her go, cursing herself for the situation she had put them in.
She had to talk to Alex, even though her sister would probably kill her.
-------------------------------------------

Alex was less than thrilled but Kara had expected that.
Her sister had yelled at her for two minutes straight when she had told Alex that she had kissed Lena in a moment of relief after that scare caused by the falling tree branch.

Luckily for Kara Maggie was at home as well and she was the one reasonable enough to calm down the two upset sisters in the end.
She was also the one who pointed out that Lena wasn't wrong.
That they could send someone in to replace Kara but that it probably wouldn't work because Lena trusted Kara. And not only because Kara had saved her but because they had a few crucial things in common.
That they understood each other without words and that Lena was in an extreme situation as it was. That taking the one thing that made her feel safe from her could only backfire.

Alex had begrudgingly agreed because it was too late now anyway, wasn't it?

“Do you wanna stay?“

“Yeah, I guess I do,“ Kara answered quietly.

“That's not good enough, Kara! Either you are sure or you aren't,“ Alex demanded. She wasn't asking as Kara's sister now but as her business partner.

Kara took a deep breath, “I'm sure.“

Alex sighed, “Alright. I trust your judgment above all else and so does Lena. Don't get too carried away, Kara. I know it's tempting and I get that you care about Lena but...“

“I know. But it's more than that, Alex. Lena is...she's my Maggie,“ Kara admitted and Alex finally understood.

Lena Luthor was the woman Kara could imagine everything with one day.
She was the woman Kara could see herself building a life with.

“Then protect her at all cost,“ Alex replied, “I understand that you are worried, I understand that you are scared. But there is no room for doubt, for hesitation. You are the best at what you do, Kara. Believe in that. Believe in yourself.“

“Love you, Alex. I better go because the electricity hasn't come back yet and I want to save my battery. I'm surprised that we still have service, to be honest.“

“I hope you charged your power banks,“ Alex was on high alert but Kara only chucked, “Of course. I'm not an amateur. This isn't my first storm out here.“

“Good night, Kara. Be safe!“
---------------------------------------

Kara added some more logs to the fire before she checked the windows and the locks, told Krypto to stay by the fire because he still wasn't completely dry, blew out the candles, and went into the bathroom to change into her pajamas, the conversation with Alex replaying in her mind.

She took one last deep breath before she entered the bedroom.
She could do this.
She had to.
Lena's life depended on it.

As soon as she opened the door Kara's heart clenched at the sight of Lena rolled up into a ball as best as she had been able to manage with the boot still on.
Kara sneaked closer and caught sight of the dried tears on Lena's face and her heart broke a little, well aware that it was her fault.

Lena's whole life had turned into a shit show and she had only complicated it by losing control over her emotions but Maggie had been right.
It was too late now and there was no going back, even Lena had said that.

Kara knelt down and ran her fingers through Lena's hair, only to get lost in the sensation of the feeling.
She watched Lena blink a couple of times before she opened her eyes and Kara couldn't help but smile.
Lena's eyes looked darker than usual in the dimly lit room because there were only a few candles still burning at that point.

“Sorry that I woke you but I think it might be better to take that boot off,“ Kara apologized and Lena nodded in understanding.

She made quick work of it because Kara could tell that Lena was exhausted and emotionally drained.
Lena needed all the rest she could get because Kara was afraid that otherwise, Lena would suffer a mental breakdown eventually.
She wasn't even sure how Lena had stayed sane for so long, considering what she had been through but Kara was no fool. Lena was not okay, no matter how brave a face she tried to put on, and Kara vowed to be better.

They would have to find a way to navigate this minefield of emotions and feelings they had maneuvered themselves in but it could wait till the morning.
First, they had to get some rest.

Kara considered sleeping in her own bed for a moment but if she was really honest even Kara had to admit that she slept better with Lena close by. And so she slid under the covers and held her arm out, offering Lena the comfort she so desperately craved.

As soon as Lena was snuggled into her side, head on her shoulder, Kara wrapped her arm around her protectively and held her close.

“I talked to Alex,“ she admitted out of the blue, not even sure why.

Lena's grip on her shirt tightened instantly, “Are you leaving?“

“No. We decided that it might be better if I stayed.“

Lena released the breath she had been holding and a sigh of relief could be heard, “Thank you.“

“We do have to set up some rules though,“ Kara warned, “Because your safety is the most important thing and we can't afford to turn into two lovesick teenagers. We'll talk about it in the morning.“

She felt Lena nod against her shoulder, “Okay.“

“Get some rest now, Lena. I've got you,“ Kara murmured against Lena's hair before she kissed her forehead, “Sleep well.“

“You too, Kara.“

But contrary to Lena who drifted off almost immediately, a content expression on her face, Kara lay awake for a lot longer that night.
She wasn't sure if staying was the best idea, no matter what she had told her sister.
Was she the best of their crew?
Absolutely.
Was being in love with Lena problematic?
Definitely.
Would she be able to protect Lena if necessary?
She had managed to do it before and she had liked Lena even then but it wasn't the same, was it?
They hadn't talked about their feelings yet when the attack in Ireland had happened and they sure as hell hadn't kissed.

That kiss, it had been everything.
It had meant so much to Kara, so much more than she could put into words.

Would it cloud her judgment?
What if she missed something crucial because she would get lost in her thoughts?
How could she prevent that from happening?

She had to get a grip, Kara knew as much.

And she had to talk to Leslie as soon as that storm would let up because they needed a clue.
Anything, really.
There had to be something they could use to find the person who was out there, waiting to kill Lena.
The clock was ticking, Kara could feel it.

There was something they were missing, she was sure of it.
The only question was what it was.

The dreadful sense of foreboding was looming over them, Kara had no doubt about it either.
It was creeping closer by the day, clawing at them from the shadows and Kara prayed that she would be good enough, fast enough, to stop the culprit before they could get to Lena.
She had to.
Nothing else mattered.

Chapter Text

Lavinia Van Lothringen sat in the interrogation room, hands cuffed to the desk but Ankara couldn't care less.
Brainy had been trying to locate the van that had Van L – Corp but it had disappeared once it had left the city and its surveillance cameras.

She watched J'onn J'onzz take a seat opposite of Lacrimosa's mother who smiled smugly, “If you want to save my daughter you better let me go.“

J'onn didn't take the bait and read through the files Alyona had handed him calmly and Ankara had trouble controlling her anger.
She wanted to beat the truth out of that horrible woman but she knew it wouldn't help anyone, least of all Lacrimosa.
And it would only be further proof that Lavinia's hate towards aliens was justified.

“So, you do know where your daughter is?“ J'onn asked eventually, “Has she been taken per your orders?“

Lavinia laughed devilishly, “You don't expect me to answer that, do you? You can't think I'm that stupid.“

J'onn's phone rang and he answered immediately, his facial expression turning grim.
Ankara was ready to tear the door to the interrogation room off its hinges.

“I don't think you are stupid at all, Misses Van Lothringen but,“ he paused for dramatic effect, “But I think you also don't want to see your corporation crumble to dust. And Lacrimosa is the only one who can keep the Van Lothringen legacy afloat at this point.“

“Nonsense,“ the woman replied coldly, “Lucian will lead it to greatness once he's out of the hospital.“

“That won't be possible I'm afraid,“ J'onn said and Ankara saw his face soften, “Your son died a couple of minutes ago. Lucian is gone.“

“NO!“ Lavinia's hand slammed on the table, fire burning in her angry eyes, “I don't believe you! This is a ploy to get information from you...“

“Misses Van Lothringen,“ J'onn was the embodiment of empathetic calm, “I'm very sorry for your loss.“

It must have been something in J'onn's eyes that had Lavinia Van Lothringen realize that he wasn't joking. That this was no fake, no ploy to get her to reveal anything.
Tears glistened in her eyes but she held them back, ever the stoic woman.

“Do you really want to bury both of your children?“ J'onn said when a heavy silence fell over the room.

Ankara was so sure that Lavinia would cooperate but when the same cold expression returned to her eyes, “She's not my daughter. She's Lucius' bastard child. But before you ask again...I don't know where they took her. I didn't bother to ask.“
---------------------------------

Ankara had dashed off without destination after that cruel revelation, determined to find Lacrimosa on her own.

She left the city limits, ears perked up as she raced through the darkening sky, drawing wider and wider circles around Metropolis until...

Until she heard it.
Lacrimosa's heartbeat.

It was slow but steady and Ankara rushed towards it without hesitation, informing the DEO on the way, ignoring all warnings yelled at her over the intercom by her sister and J'onn J'onzz.
She crashed through the wall, causing debris to fly everywhere, only to scream out in pain when she spotted an unconscious Lacrimosa, chained to a chair with Kryptonite.

Ankara could feel her powers weakening but she forced herself forward anyway and grabbed hold of the chain, the kryptonite burning through her skin, setting her veins on fire.
But the blood and the bruises on Lacrimosa's face kept her going while the excruciating pain she felt threatened to overwhelm her.

And yet she pulled and pulled, using the last bit of her strength, and tore the chain before she dropped it to the floor.
Ankara barely managed to catch Lacrimosa's body but then J'onn J'onzz appeared with a box to contain the kryptonite.

Ankara felt the relief instantly but she knew that she was close to blowing her powers once more.
A commotion outside caught her attention and she looked at J'onn for guidance.

“We are about to get company. And not the friendly kind I suppose,“ he stated, “You better get out of here. Are you okay to fly?“

Ankara nodded.
Ready or not.
Okay or not.
She would get Lacrimosa out of here, no matter what.

“Reinforcement is on the way,“ J'onn assured when he saw the hesitation in Ankara's eyes, “I'll be fine. I'll see you at the DEO.“

Ankara nodded and lifted Lacrimosa's body into her arms before she started floating. Slowly at first but the more distance she brought between herself and the kryptonite the faster she became.
And once she was outside she sped off, back to Metropolis.
She passed a DEO helicopter headed towards the warehouse on the way.

---------------------------------

Alyona had assured her that Lacrimosa would be alright but as soon as Ankara had recharged some in her sunbed she had hurried to her friend's side, sitting beside her bed in the medical bay of the DEO, anxiously waiting for Lacrimosa to regain consciousness.

She finally did in the early hours of the morning.
Ankara held her hand while Lacrimosa looked around in confusion and then disbelief, “You saved me.“

Ankara only smiled, “And I always will.“
--------------------------

The doctors decided to run some more tests on Lacrimosa, merely as a precaution, and Ankara decided to check in with Mon-El in the meantime because she hadn't talked to him since he had been escorted to that air-filtered cell during the Daxamite invasion.

He looked delighted to see her and told her about all the plans he had for them once he could safely leave his current containment.

Ankara's eyes widened, unsure what to make of his behavior because since when was there an “us“ for them?

“Mon-El...I'm flattered but...I mean...we are barely friends.“

He looked at her with a grin, “Surely you must have known that I stayed for you.“

“W-what?“ Ankara was sure she must have heard wrong. Yes, she had come to tolerate Mon-El but he was nothing more than an acquaintance. She wouldn't even necessarily consider him a real friend.

“Do you think your smart friend could fix up your pod? I thought maybe we can take a trip to Argo one of these days,“ he added casually, unaware that the comment drove Ankara to tears.

“Krypton was destroyed!“ Ankara hissed and Mon-El realized his mistake.

And then it dawned on him.
Ankara didn't know.

“See, I always wondered why you would waste your life saving these ungrateful humans when they are so far beneath us. But you simply don't know, do you?“ he asked and when no reply came Mon-El continued, “Krypton was destroyed but Argo is still out there. By some miracle, a chunk of Krypton survived. Argo survived.“

Ankara's eyes grew wide in disbelief, “What?!“

The Girl of Steel: Enemies and allies
by L. K. Luthor

 

Kara woke up with a start because of the rolling thunder outside.
Her heart was hammering in her chest and she tried to get her breathing under control when she felt Lena's arm tighten around her, pulling her back down.

“Get back to sleep, Kara. It's just the storm. We are fine,“ Lena mumbled, nuzzling against her neck.

“I'm sorry,“ Kara croaked out, her voice raspy from sleep.

“S'fine,“ Lena was already dozing off again and put a soft kiss against Kara's neck in the process.

Needless to say that Kara's heart started to race for an entirely different reason then.
-------------------------------------

Much to her own surprise, she had fallen back asleep.
The next time Kara woke up it was because Krypto's wet nose was tickling her own and she wriggled out of bed immediately because it meant that he had to go outside to do his business.

She watched Lena clutch her pillow to her chest in her sleep and Kara couldn't help but smile at the side.
They had to talk and they had to figure out where to go from here and how.
It couldn't be avoided.
--------------------------------

By the time Kara came back inside, Krypto by her side, both of them were soaking wet once again and Kara cursed under her breath.
She loved fall but she was down with this ridiculous storm and the massive rain.

To her surprise Lena was sitting on the couch, engrossed in the notes she had taken over the last couple of days.
Kara was so tempted to ask Lena if she had made a decision in regards to the book yet but she didn't dare to because she didn't want to have her hopes crushed.
What were the chances that her publisher would even allow a lesbian romance?
And Kara was fairly certain that Lena wouldn't tell her anyway.

She walked over to the fireplace and prepared to light a fire but Lena didn't even notice.
Once the flames were dancing around the logs Kara got back up and cleared her throat, “I'll take a quick shower if that's alright.“

“If you help me with my boot I could make breakfast in the meantime,“ Lena said without looking up from her reading.

“Sure,“ Kara was already halfway across the room to retrieve said boot.

She switched the brace for the boot with practiced ease while Lena kept reading over her notes, seemingly lost in thought.

“Is everything alright?“ Kara had to ask. She wasn't worried per se but Lena's behavior was quite unusual.

Green eyes finally looked at her then and an apologetic smile bloomed on Lena's face, “I'm sorry. I just remembered something and I had to check if I had gotten the details right. It happens sometimes. I get so caught up in my own head that I don't register what's happening around me.“

“That's fine. I just wanted to make sure,“ Kara answered in relief.

Lena took her hand and squeezed it, “And I appreciate it. More than you'll ever know.“
-------------------------------------------------

Breakfast was ready when Kara returned from the bathroom and she had to admit that she liked the domestic vibe.
But it wouldn't last, would it?
What would happen once they caught the culprit?
Because Lena was a famous writer with a tight schedule and Kara's work hours could be really unforgiving.
Would they even manage to meet, let alone spend quality time together if they were to pursue...something?

Lena studied her closely but didn't say a word and Kara was grateful for it.
Yes, they did have to talk but first, she had to figure out what she wanted to say.
------------------------------------------

Lena had disappeared in the bathroom to take a shower after breakfast and Kara had used the time to do some basic training with Krypto indoors.
It wasn't ideal but it was better than nothing and she needed to see if she could concentrate on something without thinking about Lena constantly.

As soon as Krypto had jumped over the couch the first time Kara's focus had been on her dog and her dog alone, much to her relief.
She needed to know that she could function properly, otherwise, someone had to replace her, whether Lena wanted it or not.

She had sent Livewire a text message to ask if there were any new developments.
Unfortunately, there weren't but Livewire told her that she was waiting for camera and video footage of a few people that had reached out to her.

Kara was cleaning her gun when Lena returned to the living room, an uneasy expression on her face.

“You aren't much of a fan of firearms, are you?“ Kara asked and started to put the gun back together.

“Not really,“ Lena admitted and took a seat on the other side of the couch, “I find them intimidating.“

Kara nodded, “I get that. But they are a part of my job.“
Part of my life.

“So, we are having that conversation after all,“ Lena stated and folded her hands in her lap.

Kara sighed, somewhat defeated, “So it seems.“
She finished her task and put the gun on the table, next to two clips of bullets.

“I might not like guns,“ Lena said, “But I don't mind you having some. Or that you need them for work. But then again this isn't really about guns, is it?“

“Lena, I...I have to protect you. It's my job. You might not want to hear it and I might not like it but it's a fact we can't change at this point. Once this is all over it will be a different story but right now your safety comes first,“ Kara started and she saw Lena open her mouth to interrupt right away but Kara held up her hand, “Let me finish, please.“

Lena nodded and blushed out of embarrassment.
Kara thought it was adorable but she had to focus on their conversation, “I talked to Alex and Maggie before I came to bed last night. I had to because...well...Alex is not just my sister. She's also my business partner. She wasn't thrilled, let me tell you.“

Lena dropped her gaze to her hands, unsure of where this was going.
She heard Kara scoot closer and a warm hand cupped her cheek, making her meet Kara's gaze.

“Hey. I didn't mean to make you feel bad. It's just...this whole situation is...it's less than ideal. We both know that.“
Kara gave her an encouraging smile.

“I know. All of this is my fault,“ Lena replied but Kara wouldn't accept that answer, “None of this is your fault, Lena! Someone wants to kill you. That's on them, not you. And as for us developing feelings for one another...that wasn't planned either, now was it?“

“No, but...“

Kara shook her head, “There's no but. Maggie pointed out it's too late now anyway. We can't go back. We can't unsay what we already admitted. We can't undo what we've done. And she is right. But...“

“But you don't think it will work. And not just because you are worried about my safety. Because I am me and you are...well...you,“ Lena observed, surprising Kara with her insight for once.

“You have to admit it's a valid concern,“ Kara threw in, “I'm sure neither of us wants to get their heart broken down the road. So, maybe it would be better to stop this right now. Before...“

“What makes you so sure that it will go wrong? No one can predict the future,“ Lena asked out of curiosity, “But clearly you know more than me because I could see this work out just fine.“

She fidgeted with her hands nervously until Kara covered them with her own hands, “How? Tell me, Lena. Because you are either doing book tours or you vanish into thin air because you are working on a new book. I'm gone for weeks, months even, at times...depending on the job. And sometimes I barely get a break in-between. I hardly ever protect someone who needs me from 9 – 5. I don't see how this can go anywhere.“

Lena took a deep breath, “I'm done writing after this book. At least for a couple of years.“

“What?“ Kara looked at her in shock.

“All I've done since my first book has gotten published...was writing. And don't get me wrong, I loved it. But I need a break. I missed out on so much. Birthdays, vacations, dinner invitations. I've barely seen Ruby the last two years. She's growing up so fast and I...I don't just want to write about my characters' lives when I'm missing my own. I want to travel and I want to do all the things I said I'd do one day. I have the means to do it...I wasn't lying when I told you I'd want to be happy...“ Lena admitted, “I will do a book tour for the last book of the trilogy, of course. But I won't do as many as before and with more breaks because it's exhausting. I am exhausted, Kara. I've given these books my all but it's time I do something for myself. I love writing but it's a lonely life and I'm sick and tired of being alone.“

“I get that. I do. I love my job but it doesn't allow for much free time. For much of private life,“ Kara sighed, “Alex and I talked about training some more people, so we could take a step back but...we've been too busy the last couple of years.“

“Maybe that's something worth considering for the future?“ Lena asked carefully.

Kara studied her quietly for a couple of minutes before she finally nodded, “Yeah. I guess we could do that. Maybe it's time. We aren't getting any younger and I know Alex and Maggie would appreciate some more time together, especially since they are considering having a baby. And I could do with more time for sleep and hike with Krypto as well.“

The bog barked in agreement, causing both of them to chuckle.

“Do you like camping?“ Kara asked all of a sudden, causing Lena to shrug, “I wouldn't know. I've never been. I'm a Luthor.“

“Right,“ Kara mumbled, “I keep forgetting that you grew up in a mansion.“

“I wouldn't be opposed to trying though,“ Lena offered, “Is that good enough for you?“

“Yeah,“ Kara beamed at her and for a moment all their worries were forgotten.

“So...what now?“ Lena asked eventually because she still didn't know what to expect from here on forward.

“Can you,“ Kara took a deep breath, “Can you promise me to follow my instructions and allow me time to run my drills with Krypto without question. Without distracting me. I need quiet and space to do my work properly and I need to know that if I tell you to hide or whatever...I need to know you won't do anything stupid because you worry about me. That you won't question me because sometimes you only have a moment to decide, to...“

“I get it,“ Lena intertwined their fingers and squeezed Kara's hands softly, “I understand what you are saying. You have to look at all of it from a different perspective. I understand that, Kara. I do. I can't even imagine under how much pressure you are but I promise to do everything you'll ask of me. I don't want to make this more difficult than it is.“

“Okay.“

“Okay,“ Lena smiled, “Does that mean I can kiss you when you are not busy?“

Kara chuckled in amusement before she leaned forward to peck Lena's lips, “I guess that's what it means.“
-------------------------------------

Lena had gotten back to her notes after their conversation because she still had a book to write and Kara had braved the outdoors together with her loyal companion to get some exercise in, the storm and the rain be damned.

They had enjoyed tea on the couch together after Kara and Krypto had warmed up once they had returned and Kara had been in better spirits because she had gotten some target practice in on her walk and had realized that her aim was as good as ever, feelings for Lena or not.
She only hoped that she would be able to focus like that when it would really matter because there was no telling what she would do when Lena's life would be threatened the next time.
But Kara was more determined than ever.
Whoever wanted Lena dead had to go through her and if she had any say in it they wouldn't get past her.

Lena was standing at the stove, stirring the pot while Kara's arms were wrapped about her from behind, holding her close.
Kara had offered to teach her some things when Lena had lamented that she wanted to cook dinner but didn't know how and she had prepared the stew with Kara's instructions and supervision.

“I could get used to this,“ Lena sighed with a content smile on her face and Lena leaned back, resting against Kara's chest.

“Me too,“ Kara admitted and put a kiss on Lena's temple.

Their moment of bliss got rudely interrupted when Kara's cellphone started ringing and she stepped away from Lena, squeezing her arms softly in apology as she did so.

She grabbed her phone from the kitchen table and frowned when she saw Maggie's name on the display.
It wasn't that she didn't like Maggie but her sister's wife hardly ever called her.

She shrugged and answered the call with a smile but it fell only seconds later.
When she ended the call Lena was humming to herself, lost in thought, unaware of Kara's turmoil.

“Lena,“ Kara croaked out, “Can you...can you please sit down for a minute?“

Lena turned the stove down, “Sure.“

She took a seat at the kitchen table and Kara knelt down in front of her, grabbed her hands, holding them tight.

“Kara, what's wrong? You're scaring me.“
Lena could already feel the dread spreading in her chest.

“Maggie called. There was an“ Kara struggled to find the right words, “An incident. Veronica was...Veronica was shot.“

“Oh my God! How is she? I need to...we have to go. Is she in surgery? I want to be at the hospital when she wakes up.“

Lena tried to get up but Kara held her in place, “I'm so sorry, Lena. Veronica didn't make it. She's dead.“

Chapter Text

Ankara had spent hours sitting on the rooftop of their apartment building after Mon – El's revelation that Argo had survived.
Her whole world had been thrown off its axis once again and she had been too overwhelmed to process.

Lacrimosa had shown up in the hours of the early morning with a fluffy blanket and Ankara had allowed being wrapped up in it although she hadn't needed it. Lacrimosa had sat behind her, had held her until Ankara hadn't been able to keep quiet any longer, and so she had confided in her friend.

And Lacrimosa had only held her tighter while she had assured Ankara that they would figure out a way for her to leave Earth and visit Argo.
Ankara's smile had been as bright as the rising sun.

------------------------------------------------------------

Lacrimosa had taken over Van L – Corp for good the following week and had moved into the penthouse of the corporation building.
Ankara had spent many nights there over the next couple of months, plotting and planning together with Lacrimosa how to locate Argo and travel safely.

They had agreed to build a new kind of pod that would allow Ankara to communicate with earth, hopefully, and Lacrimosa had offered every technic at her disposal to turn it into a reality.

Alyona and some engineers from the DEO had joined them in their attempt to build the means of transportation Ankara would need and with Mon – El's help they had figured out the easiest route to Argo.

Ankara had been excited and full of hope, the prospect of reuniting with her family driving her every move.

Lacrimosa's tireless had paid off in the end and on the day of Ankara's 24th birthday the pod was finally ready to take off.
All her friends were there, ready to see her off and a feeling of loss started to spread in Ankara's chest.

It would only be a visit, wouldn't it?
She would come back, wouldn't she?
But how could she leave her family again after losing them once already?
Argo was her home, wasn't it?

She hugged each and every one of her friends and family tight, not sure when she would see them again.
The fact that she might stay was something Ankara decided to keep to herself.
She wasn't good at goodbyes.

Lacrimosa, who had become her best friend and closest confidant next to Alyona, was the last to hug her.

“If you need anything, anything at all, just let us know,“ Lacrimosa whispered and Ankara could hear the tears in her voice.
She nodded numbly before she squeezed Lacrimosa's hand, “You too. Promise me.“

“I promise.“
------------------------------------

Ankara had only allowed her tears to fall once the pod was disappeared on the night sky over Metropolis, once the others couldn't see her anymore.

The pod Lacrimosa had built her was comfier than the one she had fled Krypton all those years ago and faster as well.
It would be a three day trip to Argo but Ankara didn't mind.

What was three days after believing her world had been destroyed?
She had closed her eyes and had dreamt of Krypton and her family, hope beating in her chest.

--------------------------------------

Her hope got crashed as soon as the pod landed on Argo.

The once vibrant capital of Krypton was a sad collection of shattered ruins, dark and looming dangerously.
Ankara got out of the pod and spotted some curious citizens she hardly remembered until a familiar voice called her name in disbelief.

Her mother.

Ankara turned around, seeking until she caught sight of the woman she had thought she'd never see again.

“Mother!“

She found herself in a bone-crushing hug as her mother sobbed against her neck, “I can't believe it, my darling girl. You've grown so much.“

Ankara took a step back to look at her mother, “I thought you were dead. I missed you so much!“

Both women just stood there, taking each other in, for a moment before Ankara looked around again, searching, “Where's father? Aunt Astra?“

Ankara saw her mother's face fall and she knew before Alura spoke.
They hadn't made it.
They were gone for good.

And Ankara's heart broke all over again as that traitorous hope gave way to uncontrollable rage and grief.

 

The Girl of Steel: Return to Argo
by L. K. Luthor

 

No.
No, that couldn't be true.
It had to be a mistake, a cruel joke.

But no matter how hard Lena tried to deny the horrible truth, she could see it in Kara's pained blue eyes.

Veronica was dead.
How could that even be possible?

“W-what happened?“ Lena croaked out as tears filled her eyes.

Kara looked as desperate as Lena felt, “They don't know yet. Maggie's colleague Morgan Edge is working on the case but he promised to keep her updated because of all the attacks on your life. He's a tough guy but he is one of the good ones. All we do know is that she had dinner with a young poet...a woman named...Nyxly?“

Lena nodded.

“They were on the way back to Veronica's car when a shot was fired from a dark alley. Maybe it was an accident. A stray bullet. It could be anything. But it doesn't change the fact that she's gone. Lena, I'm so, so sorry.“

“I want to lay down,“ Lena rasped out, no longer caring that tears were streaming down her face like a waterfall.

“Of course.“
-----------------------------------------

Kara had tucked Lena in and had watched Krypto offer silent support by snuggling up next to her.
Her heart had broken when Lena had buried her hands and face in his thick fur, the heavy sobs swallowed by it but Kara had heard them all the same.

She had decided to give Lena some privacy and had retreated to the living room to call her upset sister.
Alex had arranged the whole thing of Lena's protection with Veronica Sinclair and Kara knew that her sister had been fond of her, had respected her, even though the woman had been on the suspect list for a while.

Unfortunately, her sister didn't have any new information yet and Kara had resisted the urge to scream out her frustration with all her might.
How were they supposed to keep Lena safe if they didn't know where to start looking for a potential killer?

Part of Kara had hoped that Veronica would turn out to be the culprit, even though Lena would have been devastated because it would have meant that they would have been able to prepare instead of walking through this blindly.

Alex had agreed that it would be very odd if Veronica's death would have been an accident. Chances were that the killing of Veronica Sinclair was linked to all the attacks on Lena's life.
Maggie was aware of it too and was trying to help any way she could which meant dealing with Morgan Edge.
He might be an arrogant chauvinist but he was a great cop and Maggie had earned his respect when she had saved his life in the field once.
He would share all available information whether it was allowed or not.
He had promised Maggie and he was a man of his word.

Alex and Kara had agreed on a video call the next morning and once they had ended their conversation Kara had made some tea before she had gone to check on Lena.

She found her still crying into Krypto's fur and put the tea mugs on the nightstand quickly before she slid under the covers and pulled Lena against her chest, holding her close.

“I'm so sorry, Lena. What can I do?“ Kara asked helplessly.
She wanted to support Lena, to comfort her but her own heart was so heavy in a way and Kara didn't know how to make any of this better.
The truth was that nothing could because Veronica was gone.

She felt Lena take her hand and squeeze it tightly, “Don't let go.“
-------------------------------------------------

Neither of them had spoken another word that night.
Lena had cried herself to sleep eventually and Kara had held her through the night, through the nightmares.

She hadn't gotten much sleep herself and yet Kara got up in the morning and fixed some breakfast she was sure Lena wouldn't eat but she wanted to have some food ready, just in case.

When Lena finally appeared in the kitchen she slumped down on a chair without a word but grabbed the mug of coffee greedily.
Kara gestured toward the food but Lena only shook her head as expected and Kara sighed in defeat.

She told Lena that she would take Krypto outside so he could do his business but Lena didn't even blink.
Kara could tell how utterly defeated Lena felt from looking at her but it wouldn't do.

Yes, Lena needed time to grief and Kara would make sure that she would have it but they also had a killer to catch and as long as that person was still out there it had to be everyone's priority.

For Lena.
And for Veronica as well.
--------------------------------

By the time Kara and Krypto came back inside Lena was sitting on the couch, staring at the wall, and Krypto returned to Lena's side without command.

A beep of her phone had Kara rush straight to the kitchen, only to learn from the message she had received, that the planned video call with her sister had to be rescheduled to later in the day.

“I want to go back to National City,“ Lena said all of a sudden and Kara's eyes went wide in surprise and horror.

“Lena...“ she tried and walked over to the couch to sit down next to her...well, that was a question for another day.
Their relationship status was the least of their problems at the moment.

“And I want to...I want to see her,“ Lena's voice was shaking, “I want to see Veronica. I want to say goodbye.“
Fresh tears began to stream down her face and Kara watched Lena wipe them away angrily.

“I understand that you want to go home but“

“No!“ Lena glared at Kara, “There is no but. Veronica is my friend. She's family to me. She...was.“
Lena dropped her head, “I will not miss her funeral. I want to go back!“

Kara raised her hands in surrender, knowing better than to provoke Lena right then.
She understood, of course, she did, but she was worried for Lena's safety above all else.

“Alex is going to call later,“ Kara replied gently, “Let's talk to her and make a plan. Just to be sure you'll be safe.“

Lena wanted to argue, Kara could tell, but she must have thought better of it in the end, “Fine.“
-----------------------------------------

Lena hadn't talked, hadn't moved, hadn't blinked.
She had just sat in the living room and no matter how hard Kara had tried to start a conversation, Lena hadn't caved.

It had driven Kara mad.
And so she had left the cabin in the pouring rain and she had run till her lungs had been on fire and then she had screamed to the point of almost collapsing.

Lena hadn't even glanced in her direction when she had returned to the cabin, looking like a drenched rat.
Kara had disappeared in the bathroom and had cried in the shower.

Lena was falling apart in front of her eyes and Kara felt that there was nothing she could do to stop it because Lena had shut her out.
------------------------------------------------

The video call from Maggie was unexpected but as soon as the call connected the grim-looking faces of Alex and Maggie came into view and Kara's stomach dropped.
Lena had insisted that she wanted to hear the news as well in case there were any but Kara had a feeling that she might regret it.

Maggie reported that they had found an email on Veronica Sinclair's laptop from an unknown sender, stating that they wanted to know where Lena was hiding. That there would be consequences if she wouldn't show her face in National City. That everyone she held dear would pay if she would stay in hiding.

Lena covered her mouth with both hands, shaking her head in disbelief.
She kept mumbling that everything was her fault and Kara couldn't sit by and watch any longer, and so she pulled Lena into her arms, holding her close.
She rubbed calming circles all over Lena's back, whispering words of comfort as best as she knew how. And she ignored her sister's and Maggie's worried glances.

It took a while before Lena finally calmed down and Maggie told Kara the few other things they had learned so far.
The autopsy on Veronica's body would be performed the next morning and they weren't exactly sure yet where the shooter had stood. Which made the search for evidence quite complicated but Morgan Edge was sure that the autopsy would be able to shed some light.

The woman who called herself Nyxly had been questioned earlier that day but she hadn't been of much help because she had walked right beside Veronica when the latter had dropped to the ground all of a sudden.
She had explained that she hadn't heard a shot but when she had bent down to check on Veronica she had seen the wound on her forehead in the dimly lit street.
She had looked around frantically but hadn't been able to spot anything or anyone because it had been too dark and that she had absolutely no idea who could have wanted to hurt Veronica Sinclair. Or Lena for that matter.

“I want to go back to National City,“ Lena stated once more and everyone looked at her in alarm.

“Lena, I don't think that's a good idea,“ Kara threw in, “They targeted Veronica to achieve just that. They want to draw you out. You can't give in until we know what we are dealing with. Who we are dealing with.“

Alex wanted to say something as well but Lena beat her to it, “Veronica hired you but Veronica is dead. You cannot keep me here. And I want to go home.“

It was Maggie who answered, “Of course. We'll arrange for your transfer back to National City first thing tomorrow morning.“

Lena got up without another word and disappeared into the bedroom, leaving a dumbfounded Kara behind.

Alex watched her sister, who stared after Lena in disbelief, “Try to talk her out of it, Kara. We can't protect her in National City. Not like we can do now.“

Kara turned her head and looked straight at her sister's face on the monitor, “I'll try. I'll text you later.“
------------------------------------------

Kara entered the bedroom to the sight of Lena packing.

“Save it,“ Lena growled.

“I haven't said anything,“ Kara defended but to no avail.

Lena glared at her, challenging her, “I know you think I'm making a mistake but“

“Lena, someone wants to kill you! We can't protect you in the city and you know it. Not like I can do here. I know you are hurting. I get it. But you have to see reason. Please,“ Kara didn't care that she sounded desperate but Lena only shook her head, “If Sam had taken a sip of that wine she would have died that day when they tried to poison me. Ruby would have lost her mother. Veronica is dead because she sent me into hiding. They will kill all my friends, maybe even my mother. My brother. I cannot take that risk, Kara. I know you are worried but whatever reason they have for hating me...I'd rather they kill me than see everyone I care about die in my place.“

Kara took a step closer, “We'll get them somewhere safe. We can...“

“For how long, Kara? I've been hiding for weeks and you haven't found out anything. I'm not blaming you because the person who is after me is obviously very smart and hasn't left a trail. At least not one that is easily found. But you can't ask them to put their lives on hold for weeks, probably even months. Ruby has school, people have jobs. It's not possible, Kara. I'm going back. The question is...am I going alone or are you coming with me?“

Kara reeled back at the question, “How can you even ask me that?“

“Because we both know it will get a lot more dangerous back in National City and you've already gotten shot once,“ Lena said matter-of-factly.

“I won't leave you, Lena,“ Kara replied without hesitation, her voice strong and confident, “Whoever wants to see you dead...they will not succeed because they have to go through me. They have to kill me first.“

“Don't say that,“ Lena hissed, “I don't want anyone else to get hurt because of me. The thought alone is unbearable.“

“I mean it though,“ Kara insisted and took the shirt Lena was holding out of Lena's shaking hands, “Sit down for a moment, please.“

Lena nodded and took a seat on the edge of the bed and Kara followed suit.

“We need to sign a new contract now that Veronica is...“ Lena remembered all of a sudden but Kara only shook her head, “I'm not taking your money, Lena. And that's not up for discussion.“

“But,“ Lena tried and got interrupted by a determined Kara right away, “But nothing. That's my condition.“

Lena took Kara's hand and intertwined their fingers, “I'm sorry for being so awful all day. I don't want to fight with you. It's the last thing I want but I'm so...angry and hurt and sad. It's all too much and I hate that I'm stuck here. I don't hate being here with you...but...I just...“

“I get it,“ Kara assured, “You hate the circumstances that brought you here and you lashed out...and I was there. I'm not mad.“

Lena nodded again, “I can't believe she is gone. I owe Veronica so much. She always had my back, she always protected me. From Maxwell Lord, from crazy fans, even from myself at times. She had so many plans. She has to be one of the kindest people I've ever met. Why didn't she tell anyone about that email?“

Kara shrugged, “I wish I knew, Lena. From what I understand she had only received the email a couple of hours before her meeting with Nyxly. Maybe she had been busy and wanted to tell Alex once she had finished work for the day? Maybe she hasn't said anything because she knew you'd go back to National City and...she wanted you to be safe.“

Lena sobbed when the realization that Veronica might have gambled with her own life in order to protect hers hit her with full force because that was so Veronica, “That idiot!“

Kara pulled Lena into a hug and held her until she calmed down.

“I should finish packing,“ Lena rasped out eventually, voice hoarse from crying.

She tried to pull back but Kara didn't let go, “How about I finish packing and you reheat the stew we made yesterday. Because you need to eat something, Lena. That's not up for discussion.“

Lena hesitated for a moment but nodded in the end, “Okay.“
---------------------------------------------------------------

Kara had gotten Lena to share some of her fondest memories of Veronica over dinner and to Kara's surprise and amusement there had been a lot of funny stories about Veronica Sinclair, the woman who had seemed so much larger than life.
The woman who had been stern and all business when she had talked to her but to Lena she must have been a very loving and caring friend over the years.

Lena had told her how Veronica had manipulated Maxwell Lord time and time again so Lena had gotten away with plot changes at the last minute or her deadlines had been moved to accommodate her better.
How Veronica had been overly dramatic during her book tours at times and how she had started the day off with a bottle of champagne for breakfast on occasion because she could.
How she had always made sure Lena had time to go sightseeing if she wanted to and how they had traveled the world together thanks to the huge success of Lena's books and the book tours that had come with it.

How Veronica had joked that she wanted Meryl Streep to portrait her in case someone would ever make a movie about Lena's life.

How Veronica had been allergic to cats and still never had the heart to rehome the stray cat that had shown up on her porch one day. Veronica had called him Victor and he had ruled her home until he had died from old age and Veronica had been devastated by his loss although she would have never admitted it.

They had talked way into the night and Kara had carried Lena to bed eventually, had held Lena close to her chest all night, and she had vowed that whoever wanted to kill Lena, whoever had killed Veronica Sinclair – she would find them.
---------------------------------------------

Alex and Lucy arrived early the next morning in a big van.
They loaded up quickly, faces grim and worried, and hit the road back to civilization as soon as Lena was up and ready.

No one spoke during the drive, the tension in the car palpable and Lena felt guilty for putting everyone under so much pressure but she had to get back to the life she had run from.
She couldn't hide forever.
And she wouldn't let anyone else get hurt.

She had suffered nightmare after nightmare of everyone dying.
She had seen mangled bodies, lifeless eyes and so much blood time and time again.
The blood of her brother.
Of her mother.
Of Ruby and Sam.
Of Jack.
Even the blood of Maxwell Lord.

And of Kara.
Beautiful, strong Kara.
Dead.
Dead because of her, dead because she had wanted to protect Lena.

She couldn't risk it.
It wasn't worth it.
She wasn't worth the death of all these people.
----------------------------------------

Kara and Alex had checked her spacious apartment twice upon arrival while Lucy had walked Krypto.
Lena could tell that they weren't happy and guilt kept gnawing on her.

Alex said her goodbyes and took the elevator to the ground floor.
Kara checked the floor-to-ceiling windows again and sighed.

“I need to get Krypto. I'll be right back. Don't open the door to anyone,“ Kara said but Lena grabbed her arm and held her back, “Sit with me for a minute?“

Kara nodded and did as asked, “What's wrong?“

“I want you to leave.“

“What? Lena, you can't be serious. I won't go,“ Kara felt as if she had been punched in the gut.

“Yes, you will. This is my home and I want you to leave. I need a break from everything. I need to think clearly and I can't do that with you breathing down my neck,“ Lena said sharply and cringed at the sight of hurt in Kara's eyes.

“I don't believe you. Lena, whatever you think you are doing...I beg you...don't do this,“ Kara pleaded but Lena didn't cave, “You have five minutes to leave the building.“

Kara got up but didn't move further, “You're making a mistake. I know you are trying to do the noble thing but I assure you...there's nothing noble in getting yourself killed. At least let me bring Krypto up. He can stay with you. He'll protect you.“

“And how am I supposed to walk him with that boot on my leg?“ Lena fired back, “Go home, Kara. Get a decent amount of sleep. You deserve it.“

Kara shook her head in disbelief, “And what about you? How am I supposed to sleep when I know you are in danger?“

Lena shrugged, “You have to try.“

“Lena...“

“Kara, just go. You can check in tomorrow morning if it makes you feel better. But I need one night of quiet.“
---------------------------

Kara couldn't believe that Lena had just kicked her out.
She wanted to stay, more than anything, but she knew she couldn't. Not when Lena had made it more than clear that she didn't want her near her.
And since Veronica was dead they had no legal grounds to stick around as they had never signed a new work contract with Lena.
Damnit!

She stumbled out of the lobby, bumped into a blonde woman carrying grocery bags, sending vegetables flying everywhere.
Kara apologized profusely but the woman waved her off and picked the vegetables up with a chuckle, “My husband will be grateful. He hates the vegan diet I put him on.“

Kara grabbed a cucumber and some bell peppers and put them back into the bag, apologized again, and headed to the waiting van where she explained to her sister what had happened.

Alex looked at her with wide eyes before she shook her head and told Kara to get in but her sister refused.

“Kara, you can't stay out here all night. It's too cold. Let's just go and find a parking spot down and then we'll make a plan,“ Alex persuaded.

“We need to do something! She will get herself killed if...“

Alex grabbed Kara's arm, “I get that, Kara. I do. We'll figure something out, I promise.“

“I agree,“ Lucy assured, “She might not want our protection but we'll protect her anyway.“

Kara wanted to argue but the sound of her sister's ringing phone had her close her mouth before any sound had the chance to come out.

It was Livewire calling who informed them that she had received video footage of the day Lena had almost been run over by a car and that she was currently checking all of it together with Winn.
Alex explained what had happened at Lena's apartment and Leslie told them they should come back to the office so they could make a proper plan together. And that Maggie was on the way as well, apparently with some news.

Kara didn't want to leave but she knew that if Lena realized that she was sticking around she might only provoke her to do something even more reckless.

“I'll get Krypto back upstairs,“ Kara mumbled, “Then we are going to the office, make a plan and I'll come back here afterward.“

Alex nodded in understanding and watched her sister and the dog disappear into the building.
-----------------------------------------

Kara used the keycard Lena had given her earlier and took the elevator once more, told her dog to stay put in front of Lena's door, watched him lay down, and left with Lena none-the-wiser.

She wouldn't be gone long but it made her feel better to know that Lena would have at least some sort of protection.
--------------------------------------

They arrived at their office about twenty minutes later and Leslie waved them over right away.

A video was playing on her big screen.
A video of someone getting into a big, dark truck around the time the incident had happened. And it had happened only a street over from Noonan's.

The person was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap and the quality of the video was poor, the picture was blurry at best.
There was no chance to use it for facial recognition or anything. They weren't even sure if it was a man or a woman.
Damn!

“So, what's the plan?“ Kara wanted to know, her whole body tense and ready to snap like a rubber band.

“Stakeout somewhere close to the building. We need a good view,“ Lucy stated the obvious, “And probably two teams because there's also the garage.“

“Right,“ Alex nodded, “Maggie is off the next three days. She can come with me.“

“Then I'll go with you,“ Lucy said and looked at Kara, who agreed absentmindedly.

A frantic knock on the door had Alex out of her seat like the flash.
Maggie rushed into the room only moments later, completely out of breath, “Guys, we have a problem!“

Kara looked at her in alarm, “What is it?“

Maggie's eyes went comically wide in surprise, “What are you doing here, little Danvers?“

“Lena kicked me out. But that's a story for later. What's going on?“

Kara watched her sister-in-law take a deep breath, “The shot that killed Veronica Sinclair...was fired from the top of a building across the road. We are talking over five hundred meters. A single shot. Right between the eyes. The bullet is from a sniper rifle. We are dealing with someone not only incredibly driven but also professional.“

“Shit!“ Alex pinched the bridge of her nose, “Does Lena know anyone who has served in the army?“

Kara shrugged helplessly, “I don't know. I'll call her.“
---------------------------------------

At the same time, Lena stumbled out of her bedroom into her living room because she thought she had heard a dog whine in the corridor.
She listened with batted breath but there was nothing but silence.
She was probably losing her mind after all.

Lena walked over to the bar and poured herself a glass of bourbon, hands shaking, and cursed herself for sending Kara home.
She had done it to protect her but she regretted sending her away like that because Kara would have deserved so much better.

Kara cared about her and she cared about Kara just as much but that was the reason why she couldn't risk Kara getting hurt.
She would write her a letter to explain, just in case.

She grabbed some stationary and her pen and sat down at the kitchen island, writing between sips of liquid courage when a knock on her door made her jump.
Was Kara back despite her orders?

A part of Lena hoped that it would be the case but when she checked the surveillance camera at her door she caught sight of someone else's face.

She pulled the door open and flung her arms around her best friend's body, pulling Sam as close as she could manage.
She had missed her so much.

“What are you doing here?“ Lena asked once she stepped back, causing Sam to look at her in disbelief, “Are you kidding me? I came as soon as you texted me that you are back in town.“

“What about Ruby?“

“Sleepover at a friend's,“ Sam replied with a smile and closed the door, “How are you feeling? I'm so sorry about Veronica. I couldn't believe it when I saw it on the news this morning.“

Lena dropped her head, “You shouldn't have come. It's not safe for you here. I don't want you to get hurt. You almost got poisoned already. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to you.“

Sam squeezed Lena's arm, “Don't worry about me. I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself. Do you mind if I pour myself a drink and join your little party for one?“

“You aren't really asking me that, are you? What's mine is yours,“ Lena headed back to her seat and finished the sentence she had been writing before she put the papers away.

Sam joined her at the kitchen island and they clinked glasses, “Now, Miss Luthor...tell me where you've been all this time?“

Lena found the question odd but thought nothing of it.
She talked about Ireland and about a cabin in the woods, never realizing that her phone was still in her bedroom.
The fact that she had turned it silent long forgotten as well.
---------------------------------------

“She's not answering her phone!“ Kara was growing frantic.
She needed to go back.
Something was wrong, she could tell.

“I think I've found something,“ Leslie announced and everyone turned to look at the screen where a picture of a woman appeared and Kara's blood ran cold.

“She was a sniper in the army for almost five years before she left due to a...pregnancy,“ Leslie read out loud, "One tour to Iraq, two to Afghanistan.“

“I saw her. She was outside the building when I left. I ran into her. I think she was wearing a wig...NO!"
Kara stormed out before anyone could have stopped her.

“Who is that?“ Alex grabbed her gun, ready to chase after her sister.

Leslie zoomed in on the personal information, causing everyone to gasp in disbelief.

NAME: SAMANTHA ARIAS.

Chapter Text

Ankara had been desperate when she had sent a message to earth.
To Lacrimosa, to be precise.

Argo was in ruins and rebuilding would take a Herculean effort, especially since Kara had no powers under the red sun.
She wasn't sure what to do, how to help, and the fact that none of her family had survived except for her mother was weighing heavily on her heart.

When a reply from Lacrimosa hadn't come even after two days Ankara accepted defeat and focused on spending time with her mother, trying to figure out a plan of action.

It was about an hour later when a pod appeared on Argo's sky and Ankara stared in disbelief when her sister and Lacrimosa climbed out of it once it landed safely.
They were wearing suits that allowed them to breathe properly as far as Ankara could tell, the Van L – Corp logo prominent on their chests.

Tears were streaming down her face and now that she didn't have to worry about her powers she hugged them with all the strength she could muster, holding them close, unwilling to ever let go again.

“What are you doing here? And how?“ she croaked out when Alyona finally got her to loosen her grip on them.

“You have to thank Lacrimosa for that,“ Alyona admitted and it was the first time that her sister looked at her best friend with something akin to respect and warmth in her eyes.

“I had a second pod built, a bigger one...just in case we ever needed it. Good thing I did, I think. We brought equipment,“ Lacrimosa shrugged off her effort with nonchalance.

Ankara tilted her head curiously, “Equipment?“

“Lacrimosa, mom, and dad have teamed up with the DEO a while ago...to work on creating portals,“ Alyona admitted sheepishly and Ankara's eyes widened comically, “How do I not know about any of this?“

“It's a project to fight world hunger. Something I have been working on next to all my other research,“ Lacrimosa admitted, “So we can send food, medicine, and any other supply needed to remote areas as quickly as possible one day. I wasn't sure if it would work in the beginning but we finally figured it out. So, we are putting up a portal here...and then we can send everything you need.“

Ankara flung herself at her best friend again, “You truly are a miracle.“
----------------------------------------------------

Introducing Alyona and Lacrimosa to Alura had felt strange in a way and at the same time, Ankara had been so proud to have her mother meet some of her Earth family.
She thought of Edith and Jonathan and a flash of pain hit her when she realized how much she missed the people who had selflessly taken her in. Who had loved her as one of their own from the very start.
They were as much her parents as Alura and Zor-El and only now that she was back on Argo did Ankara understand how much earth and its people meant to her.

Alyona and Alura were working on the portal and Ankara helped Lacrimosa unload the pod.
She wasn't sure what she had done to deserve a friend like Lacrimosa van Lothringen but Ankara vowed to never take her for granted.

------------------------------------------------

They had worked way into the night and Lacrima was confident that they could activate the portal the next morning.
Alyona had passed out right after their meager dinner but Ankara was too hyped up to sleep.

She stood on the remains of the terrace of the sun palace where Lacrimosa found her, carrying two mugs of Kryptonian tea.
Ankara took one of the mugs from her and took a sip, “Why are you doing all of this? I don't understand what I did to...“

Lacrimosa covered Ankara's hand with her own and squeezed it gently, “You came for me and saved my life when it could have easily have ended your own. You took a risk when you helped me that day although you knew that my mother would end you if she found out. You've believed in me when no one else did. You saw past my family name from the get-go, Ankara. And it meant everything to me. It still does. You are my best friend and I admit all this...it's not entirely selfless. Ever since we started working on getting you back to Argo I was obsessed with finding a way to eventually visit. I missed you this last week, you know?“

Ankara was fighting the tears, “I missed you too.“

“This is your home and I get that you want to be here,“ Lacrimosa continued, her voice soft, understanding swinging in her tone, “But earth is your home too and I thought...maybe you could have a bit of both. Maybe at times, you'd like to come to visit us too.“

“Lacrimosa...“

Lacrimosa shook her head, her dark hair partially covering her face from view, “Let's finish our tea and get some sleep. Big day tomorrow.“

Ankara studied her for a quiet moment before she did as she was told and they retreated to her room.
Lacrimosa fell asleep right away but Ankara lay awake for the rest of the night.

What was she supposed to do?
What was she even doing, to begin with?

 

The Girl of Steel: Return to Argo
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena woke up with a stiff neck.
She felt dizzy and nauseous but she didn't understand why.
Her memory was blurry and a feeling of dread was creeping up her spine.
Something was wrong, she could tell.

She had sent Kara away and she had hurt her by doing so, that much she remembered.
And then...
Sam!
Sam had shown up at the penthouse, hadn't she?

Oh God.
What if something happened to her best friend?

She tried to blink her eyes open but it proved tricky because her eyelids were so heavy.
And once she succeeded she realized she couldn't see anything because she was surrounded by darkness.
Was it still night?
How long had she been out?

“Sam.“
Her voice was scratchy because her throat was incredibly dry.

When no reply came Lena started to get frantic and she tried to move, only to realize that she was tied down.

“SAM!“

“Oh, good. You are finally awake.“
The voice came from somewhere to her right. It was Sam's voice and she sounded...smug?
But how could that be?
It didn't make any sense unless...
No.
No, it couldn't be.

A flip got switched without warning and neon lights blinded her only a few seconds later.
Lena winced because her eyes hurt.
And then Sam came into view, gun holster on her belt, knife in hands, and steel in her eyes.

“Hello Lena.“
-----------------------------------------

Kara was standing in Lena's apartment, completely out of breath.
She was carrying her bleeding and whimpering dog, who she had found in the elevator.

The penthouse was empty.
There was no trace of Lena or Sam but Kara had known that from the beginning.
Sam must have taken Lena or maybe Lena had even gone willingly because Sam Arias was supposed to be her best friend, not her killer.

Kara had tried to locate Lena via her phone app because Lena was still wearing the bracelet Kara had given her weeks ago in Ireland.
At least Lena had worn it when she had left.

At first, Kara had thought that Lena might have taken it off but then it would have sent a signal from the apartment.
The fact that it hadn't led Kara to believe that Sam had taken Lena somewhere shielded. Or somewhere underground.
It had Kara pray that a location alert would come sooner or later.

She called Livewire and told her to dig up any information of possible hiding spots for Sam Arias. Kara doubted that Sam had taken Lena too far from the city because the risk of getting detected would rise once day broke.

They wouldn't have much time but there was also the fact that Sam hadn't killed Lena yet. She could have simply ended Lena's life right there in her apartment but had chosen not to and Kara counted on that.
Clearly, Sam wasn't done yet.

She was about to call her sister when Alex and Maggie stormed into the apartment, guns blazing, and Kara could see the horror in her sister's eyes when she caught sight of Krypto.

“It's bad,“ Kara rasped out, “I was about to call you. I came with my bike. I need you to drive me to the clinic.“
She had tried to stay rational when she had arrived but now that she saw her sister's face Kara couldn't hold the tears back any longer.

Alex only nodded, “Lucy is downstairs in the van. Let's go.“

“I'll stay,“ Maggie announced, “I'll call Morgan. We need to inform the police anyway. We'll have forensics here within the hour. Maybe we find something useful.“

“Thanks, Maggie.“
-----------------------------------------

Alex had sent Lucy upstairs to stay with Maggie, just in case. Her wife could take care of herself but there was a killer on the loose and she wouldn't take any chances.

The drive to the vet clinic had seemed endless and once Krypto had been rushed off Kara had dropped to the floor, devastated.
Alex had held her while she had cried but when Livewire had called to tell them that the search for Sam's potential hiding spots had come up empty and that the police' attempt to ping her phone hadn't provided any result either Kara had jumped up, eyes blazing.
And then she had told Alex to stay at the clinic and call as soon as there was news about Krypto.

Alex had looked at her in bewilderment but had known better than to stop her sister.
If anyone would be able to find Lena it would be Kara.
-----------------------------------------

Lena was trying to make sense of what she was seeing but her brain wouldn't comply.
Her heart didn't want to believe what she slowly realized to be the truth.

Sam was the one who wanted to see her dead.
Who had tried to kill her on multiple occasions.
Who had shot...Veronica.

“Sam, what are you doing? You are my best friend,“ Lena rasped out between sobs of devastation.

She needed to make sense of this madness because how on earth could Sam, of all people, hate her so much?
They had been through so much together, they had been the best of friends.
Or so Lena had thought.
“You really are an entitled idiot, you know,“ Sam snapped and untied Lena's feet before she forced her to stand up, “And I'm so sick of it.“

Lena watched Sam take a couple of steps back and only now did she notice that her best friend was limping.
And then she remembered what Kara had told her in Ireland. Krypto had bitten the intruder.
Krypto.
Had she imagined the whining last evening or had it been really there?

“What did you do to Krypto?“ Lena forced out, trying to loosen the rope that bound her hands together behind her back, to no avail.

“Paid him back for his little souvenir,“ Sam hissed and glanced at her lower leg, “He deserved it.“

“You can hate me all you want, Sam, even though I don't understand it. But what about Ruby? Think about your daughter. She needs you. Surely you don't think you can get away with this. You killed Veronica!“ Lena was furious now.
How could Sam be so incredibly selfish?
What would happen to Ruby once her mother would get arrested because they would catch her sooner or later, she was sure of it.

“Don't worry your pretty little head about things that don't concern you,“ Sam growled and pulled the gun from its holster, “Move.“
------------------------------------------------

Kara was racing through the city, glancing at the screen of her phone every other second.
No message from her sister, no ping from Lena's bracelet.

She was going crazy.
Where on earth could Sam have taken Lena?
If only she had recognized her when she had bumped into her in the street.
She had been too emotional because of Lena's behavior, too hurt to see clearly.
Her nightmare of being too distracted had come true.
If anything would happen to Lena she would never forgive herself.

She returned to Lena's apartment building and spotted the countless police cars. Forensics were there as Maggie had predicted.
And then she spotted her sister-in-law who waved her over as soon as she caught sight of her and Kara slowed down her motorbike immediately.

“Any news?“ she shouted as soon as she took her helmet off, the engine still running.

Maggie shook her head, “Nothing so far. But I found this...“
Maybe pulled a piece of paper out of her jacket and handed it to Kara who took it hesitantly, “Isn't that evidence or something? I mean Lena's apartment is kind of a crime scene, is it not?“

Maggie only shrugged and gestured towards the building, “I better get back inside, little Danvers. Stay safe, okay?“

Kara nodded dumbly and unfollowed the paper with shaking hands.
She gasped as soon as she spotted Lena's handwriting.

 

Kara,

I'm sorry for being so harsh earlier.
I didn't mean to be but I knew I wouldn't get you to leave otherwise and to leave you had.

I know protecting people is what you do, it's your job.
But protecting me might cost you your life and I can't let that happen.
It's a price I'm not willing to pay although you have said once that you'd die for me.

I know you care about me and I know you were serious about what you said that day and because I believe you, you had to go.

Whoever is behind this, whoever wants me dead, wants my blood, not yours.
Veronica already paid for me and it's a debt I can never repay, a burden too heavy to carry. I can't add more to it.
If someone has to pay in blood, it has to be me.

When Veronica told me she had hired a bodyguard I thought about firing her.
Little did I know that you would turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me, even though we haven't known each other for that long but then again time doesn't matter when you meet your person, now does it?

I almost thought I was weird because I wasn't too crazy when it came to dating all my life and my busy schedule was the perfect excuse to avoid it.
And then I met you and it all started to make sense because for the first time in my life I felt comfortable being close to someone.

You made me feel cared for and loved in a way I have never experienced before and I need you to know that I am so grateful to you because I finally am comfortable in my own skin.
Because you saw me for who I am and by some miracle that was enough for you.

Only now that you are gone do I realize how much I wish you were here.
If my stupid pride wouldn't be in the way I would call you right now and tell you to come back but we both know I won't.

I might do it in the morning though, in case I can find the courage, that is.
But it would be incredibly selfish, wouldn't it?
Because I would still be putting you in danger.
You'd probably say that is your choice to make and in theory, you are right.

But I can't let you die for me, Kara.
I'm in love with you and I want to protect you as much as you want to protect me.
You can't fault me for that.

Please believe me when I tell you I hope that this nightmare ends well for all of us because I want that future we've talked about and I want it with you, Kara.

 

The letter wasn't signed and Kara assumed that Lena could have gotten interrupted as she had written it.
Tears were glistening in her eyes but she couldn't afford to cry.
Not now.

Kara willed them away with all her might, blinked twice, and tensed when her phone beeped.
There was a ping from Lena's bracelet.

She was all the way across town.
-------------------------------------------------

Sam pulled Lena up the stairs, one flight at the time, and Lena had trouble breathing.

“Where are we going?“ she rasped out but Sam ignored her until they finally reached the top.

They were on the rooftop of an old warehouse or something from what little she could make out.
It was still dark outside and Lena wondered what time it was, not that it mattered.

“Just tell me what I've done, Sam. Seeing as you will kill me anyway...just tell me why,“ Lena pleaded, trying to buy herself some time.
For what she didn't know because no one would find her here, at least not anytime soon.

“You really don't know, do you?“ Sam turned on a floodlight she must have positioned there on purpose, illuminating the area they were standing in, “You have more lives than a bloody cat, you know?“

Lena closed her eyes and tried to block out all the memories that came washing back.
Sam had almost gotten poisoned or had she?
“What about the poison?“

Sam chuckled, “Ah yes, the poison. Had Veronica not called, had you not spilled your glass...you have to admit my acting skills were pretty convincing.“

“There was no poison in your glass, was there?“

“Please. Do you think I'm stupid? Of course not. That's why I poured the contents of my glass into the toilet before the police arrived,“ Sam stated smugly.

“And you told them you had done it out of reflex because you had been so shocked,“ Lena added weakly.

“It was the perfect alibi, you have to admit that,“ Sam stated proudly, “No one cared to look through my things or they would have found the flask. But who would ever suspect the person who had almost gotten poisoned, right?“

Lena dropped her head in defeat.
Never in her life would she have guessed that Sam would be behind this madness.

“And to answer your question, Lena. I'm so sick and tired of standing in your shadow when you are such a lousy friend to begin with.“

Lena's eyes grew wide, “What are you talking about?“

Sam snapped, “Shut up! Ever since we became friends and you came up with this Krypton idea...all you've worried about was your writing. I was so in love with Jack but you didn't even notice, did you?“

Lena shook her head, “I didn't know. Why didn't you say anything?“

“You were so ignorant, so caught up in your own bubble and yet Jack wanted you. And you dated for what...all of five weeks or something before you tossed him aside,“ Sam started pacing, “And because you decided you were so much better off as friends he didn't even look at me twice.“

“Sam, I'm so sorry. I didn't know...“ Lena tried but when Sam released the safety of the gun she fell quiet.

“I wasn't done talking!“ Sam yelled, “You never listen, do you? Unless it's about your precious books.“
She spit the words out with venom and Lena had to bite back tears. Had she really been that horrible a friend?

“You know how I had this dream of going to Harvard. Of becoming a lawyer? And guess what? I worked so hard, had the best grades, and still didn't get in. And you...you did. And you threw it away oh so carelessly because you wanted to write your fantasy books. You unappreciative cow,“ Sam took a deep breath, “And then my father gambled away most of our fortune, and there went my chances of studying altogether.“

“What?!“ Lena gasped, “Why didn't you tell me that?“

“I tried but you were so busy writing. Remember how you told me you would call me soon for weeks on end and never did?“

Lena's eyes grew wide in disbelief. Surely Sam's life couldn't have fallen apart in a couple of weeks, right?
Not without her noticing.
Right?

“But you left for Europe then. To study abroad,“ she said lamely and Sam chuckled bitterly, “I joined the army and eventually became a sniper. I was damn good at it too. I spent years in the dirt and saw things no young woman or man should ever be exposed to. While you celebrated your success, traveled, and stayed in fancy hotels during your book tours I was fighting for my survival in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did you never wonder why I never called, why we never had a video chat? Why I only ever sent you emails?“

Lena had to admit that she had wondered at the time but had shrugged it off because she had figured Sam simply had been too busy.
And her own life had been so hectic and she had gotten caught up in the wave of her success, she hadn't thought about it twice.

“At least I was my own person in the army, not L. K. Luthor's best friend. People respected me for me. If I hadn't gotten pregnant I could have stayed away,“ Sam continued, “Did you know James Olson hit on me once? To get your number. Of course, why else would anyone give me the time of day. People follow me on social media in hopes to get a glimpse of you. They try to sweet talk me into telling them something about you. They try to befriend me...because of you. Every guy I find interesting...ditches me...because of you. Once people find out who I am and that I know you...all they see is you. And I'm sick of it, Lena. It ends now.“

“Sam, I'm so sorry,“ Lena croaked out, tears streaming down her face, “I didn't know. If you had told me that being my friend was such a burden...“

“You what?“ Sam challenged, “Would you have stayed away? You did. You didn't come home for my birthday because you were busy and the book tour and yada yada. You came home for Jack's though, didn't you? You flew in for one day.“

“I did. But I was there for you too whenever I could. When your grandmother died. The trips we took together. I never missed Ruby's birthdays. I know I was busy, too busy, at times but had I know that it would make you hate me that much,“ Lena defended as Sam stepped closer, “What? Don't say you would have given it all up because we both know you'd be lying, Lena. I told you once that I wish I could get a role in one of the movies. The movies they did based on your books. And you laughed at me.“

“I thought you meant it as a joke! Because you never had any interest in acting. You always said you didn't want to be in the spotlight like that!“ Lena fired back.

“I did, didn't I. Because at the end of the day everyone would have said I had only gotten the role because of you. I'm doomed to be L. K. Luthor's best friend. So, to answer your question...I'm well aware that I might not get away with this...but at least this time the news will finally print my name.“

Sam's eyes sparkled dangerously and she shoved the Lena backward until she stood at the edge and then she stepped back with a satisfied smile, admiring the view of her defenseless friend for a long moment, “Consider it a precaution. If the bullets won't kill you...the fall will. Goodbye, Lena.“

And then she pulled the trigger.
-------------------------------------------------------

Kara had arrived at the old warehouse district on the outskirts of National City in record time. She had killed the engine a couple of warehouses down from the signal because she didn't want to alert anyone to her presence.
And then she had run as if the devil would have been after her.

She had climbed the fire escape of the building faster than she had ever climbed anything, driven by adrenaline and sheer will, her heart hammering in her chest, blood rushing in her ears.
She had hidden in the darkness, behind the big roof, gun at the ready, waiting for a moment to strike.

Unfortunately, Sam had stood too close to Lena and she was sure that she had only heard the end of the conversation but it didn't matter.
None of it mattered anymore.

She moved as soon as she heard Sam's goodbye.
Threw herself forward, the floodlight blinding her. She fired anyway, hoping that she wouldn't miss.

She felt the searing pain when both bullets Sam had fired in rapid succession hit her chest before she fell to the ground but it didn't matter.
Sam had hit her, not Lena.

And then Lena screamed.
---------------------------------------

It had happened so fast and yet Lena felt as if she had watched it happen in slow motion.
Kara had come out of nowhere.
How had she found them to begin with?
They hadn't been followed, she was sure of that.

She dropped to her knees, ignoring the pain, and her eyes went wide in horror at the sight of the blood spreading on Kara's chest.
No.
God, no.

“Take her gun,“ Kara kept mumbling on repeat and Lena lifted her head to look around. She stopped when she caught sight of Sam's lifeless eyes.

She couldn't help the sob that escaped her.
Sam had wanted to kill her but to Lena, she had been her best friend, the person she had told all of her secrets.

“I think she is dead,“ Lena croaked out but Kara wouldn't be deterred, “Take her gun.“

Lena struggled back to her feet and rushed to Sam's side. When she caught sight of the bullet hole in her head she knew they didn't have to worry about Sam being a threat anymore.
She kicked the weapon away with her right foot and caught sight of the knife. If only her hands wouldn't be tied behind her back.

She managed to get it out of Sam's belt and shoved it back toward Kara, “I need your help.“

Kara nodded weakly.
Lena noticed that she had trouble breathing.

“I need to call Alex,“ Lena mused, in complete survival mode at this point, “But I need my hands for that.“

“She knows,“ Kara rasped out, “Sent coordinates as soon as they appeared on phone. Bracelet.“

Lena looked at her wrist, saw the bracelet Kara had given her.
Of course.

Kara managed to grab the knife with her right hand but Lena noticed that she couldn't sit up. Might be better anyway, considering the circumstances.

“Just hold it tight,“ Lena instructed and dropped back to her knees, ignoring the pain as best as she could.
She got into a sitting position, back to Kara, and navigated the blade between her wrists.
She struggled and wriggled around, desperate to get loose, and when the rope finally broke Lena wanted to scream in triumph.

As soon as she turned around the tiny spark of joy died on her lips when she saw blood running out of Kara's voice.

The sound of sirens could be heard in the distance and she knew help was coming.
She wasn't sure why she was so convinced but she just knew.
And dawn was finally coming as well.

Lena pressed her hands to the wounds on Kara's chest, horrified by the thought that the warm, sticky substance on her hands was Kara's blood.

Kara was fading fast, too fast, the light in her eyes was dimming, and Lena didn't know what to do.
She couldn't lose Kara, not now.
Not after everything they had been through.

“I promised to keep you safe,“ Kara gurgled, more blood running out of her mouth when she tried to smile.

Lena tried to be strong but the tears kept streaming down her face anyway, “I don't want you to die for me, Kara. I never wanted that.“

“I know,“ Kara's voice barely a whisper now, “Read your...letter.“

Lena sobbed, “It wasn't meant to be like this.“

“Doesn't matter,“ Kara coughed up blood and closed her eyes.

Lena panicked and tried to shake her because that couldn't be good, “You don't get to die on me now. If you really love me, you'll live for me, do you hear me?“

“Kara?“
She shook her more forcefully.

“KARA!“

But a reply never came.

Chapter Text

Ankara must have dozed off at some point because when her eyes popped open and looked around she was alone.
Lacrimosa was nowhere to be seen and the other side of her bed was cold.
Dread spread in Ankara's chest and she had to fight back tears.
She struggled out of bed anyway because there was no time to lose.

Hurrying through the corridor of the palace, in search for Alura, Ankara bumped into her sister, who looked at her worriedly.

“Ankara, are you alright?“

A helpless shrug was her only reply, “Have you seen A...my mother?“
It felt weird to call her mother these days, despite the fact that she was, because Ankara had thought her dead for so long and Edith had been more of a mother figure than Alura could have ever been.
She had always been closest to her aunt Astra.
Astra, who had died saving her.

“She went to get tea for Lacrimosa. I was actually just on the way back because they are trying to get the portal to work. Some data is still missing and it needs to be calibrated but Mon-El is helping now. Brainy got him an oxygen mask so he could leave the cell,“ Alyona explained what was happening.

“Oh. That...nice.“
Ankara didn't know what else to say but then she remembered something else, “I haven't even properly thanked you for coming to help. You have no idea how much it means to me.“

Alyona pulled her into a heartfelt hug, holding her close, “No matter what happens, no matter where you are...you'll always be my sister. And I'll always come for you.“
---------------------------------------

She had found Alura eventually, debating with a man who had been in the Science Guild. Ankara couldn't remember his name but she knew she had seen him before.

“Am I interrupting?“

Her mother shook her head, “Of course not, my child. Kal-El and I were discussing the portal.“

“What about it?“
Ankara could feel the uneasiness in her chest and it only grew stronger when she saw the look her mother gave the man.

“It was nice of your friends to come and we appreciate the help,“ Alura said, “But I think we won't keep it permanently.“

Ankara's eyes grew wide in shock and horror, “What are you talking about?“

“Argo is all we have left and we don't want to be exploited. We don't want to have humans show up here all the time,“ Kal-El tried to explain carefully but Kara only laughed, “What is there to be exploited? A couple of ruins from what once has been?“

“Ankara! You will apologize to Kal-El right this instant. Krypton has been a proud planet and I won't allow you to talk like that.“

Ankara grew more and more furious, “Don't you think I know that? I lost my home too! And everyone I loved. I had to get used to a completely new world, to new customs. Do you think any of that was easy? But Krypton dying...it was father's fault. He wanted too much and he didn't care about the consequences.“

“Your father was a brilliant man with a voice,“ Alura hissed.

“Are you serious? He got almost everyone killed! He got Krypton destroyed!“ Ankara fired back, “I can't believe you learned nothing from his mistakes. Did you know that Krypton was doomed?“

Her mother reeled back as if she had been slapped, “Of course not.“

But for some reason Ankara didn't quite believe her, “You know, didn't you?“

“We were aware that there were risks when your father kept advancing things. When we used more and more power without a plan on how to keep it all in the balance,“ Kal-El admitted, “But we didn't know how severe the consequences would be, Ankara. We really didn't.“

“I have to go.“
She turned around and hurried out of the room, too angry and too confused to deal with Alura any longer.

------------------------------------------

Ankara went to the Great Hall of Sun Palace where they had decided to put up the portal and was surprised to see J'onn talking to Alyona, the room filled with equipment from earth.

“It works!“ Lacrimosa beamed with pride and Ankara's heart broke for her best friend. Lacrimosa had worked so hard, had used all of these resources when Alura wanted nothing to do with earth.

“I'm afraid we have to go back,“ J'onn said as soon as he stepped close enough to greet her with a nod, “I'm sorry we can't stay but we have to deal with some rogue aliens.“

Alyona hugged her quickly before she stepped into the portal with J'onn by her side.
She was gone moments later.

“Ankara, what's wrong?“
Lacrimosa looked at her worriedly.
Of course she couldn't hide from her best friend.

So, Ankara told her what was happening, guilt written all over her face.

“All the resources, the time you devote to doing this,“ she gestured around, tears glistening in her eyes, “And my mother doesn't appreciate any of it. It must have cost a fortune.“

Lacrimosa took her hands in her own, squeezing them gently, “It's not like we can afford it and at least now we know it works. We'll figure out a way for you to charge the pod while the portal works so you can come visit whenever you want.“

“Why are you doing this for me, Lacrimosa?“

“Because you are my family, Ankara. Don't you understand? Friends are the family we choose.“

Ankara wanted to reply but her mother appeared at that moment, followed by Kal-El, “I'd like to thank you for your generosity, Miss Van Lothringen.“

“It's been my honor,“ Lacrimosa bowed her head, accepting Alura Zor-El's superiority.
Or at least she made Ankara's mother believe that she did.
“Send a list of everything that you need and we'll have it delivered as soon as possible. And if you need help from our engineers, just say so,“ she added with a smile.

They had to make sure that the portal would be open long enough to provide Ankara with a way to travel if she ever chose to.

“No,“ Ankara said and everyone looked at her in surprise.

“What?“ Alura looked at her daughter in confusion but Ankara turned to look at Lacrimosa, “Alura made it perfectly clear that she wants nothing to do with earth. So, no more help.“

“Ankara!“
The outrage in her mother's voice was almost comical.

Ankara did face her then, “You got more than you deserve. We'll close the portal once we are back home. I don't know what I was thinking about coming back. My life is on earth. And my family. Goodbye, mother.“

Lacrimosa was crying but she held out her hand and Ankara took it without hesitation, “What about the pods?“

“Leave them. They don't matter.“

“But,“ Ankara wanted to argue, seeing it would be such a waste.

“It doesn't matter, Ankara. Let's go home.“

Ankara nodded and then they stepped through the portal as Alura watched in disbelief.

 

The Girl of Steel: Return to Argo
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena jerked awake, the heart monitor she was attached to beeping frantically, “Kara?!“

She got pushed back down gently, “Easy there, tiger.“
It was Maggie Sawyer's voice, much to Lena's surprise.

“What happened? What about Kara? Is she...is she...“
Lena couldn't bring herself to say it and Maggie sat down at the edge of the bed, a sad smile on her face, “She's still in surgery. You collapsed as soon as Alex and the crew arrived. Luckily they had brought paramedics with them.“

“How long was I out?“ Lena's mind was racing and she noticed that her wrists were bandaged. Rope burn, most definitely.
She felt a tad dizzy, a bit disorientated, but she remembered.
She remembered everything.
Sam.
Oh God.

“Couple of hours,“ Maggie replied, “Alex and Eliza are outside, waiting for news on Kara.“

A sob escaped Lena's lips, “It's my fault. I've been so stupid.“

Maggie took her hand and squeezed it encouragingly, “You couldn't know, Lena.“

“But if I hadn't sent Kara away...maybe...“

Maggie shook her head, “Don't do that. What ifs won't get you anywhere. And who's to say Sam wouldn't have shot right away? She could have shot Kara like a rabid dog right when she entered the apartment. A bullet to the head and Kara would have been dead. It's bad, yes...but Kara is a fighter. If anyone can get through this...it's her.“

Like a rabid dog.
It nagged at Lena's mind and then it dawned on her.
Krypto!

“What about Krypto?“ Her voice was raspy and dry.
Maggie must have caught on because she helped Lena into a sitting position and lifted a glass of water to her lips, making her drink sip by sip.

“They had to amputate his left front leg but he'll live,“ Maggie said, sighing heavily, once Lena was resting against the pillows again.

Lena buried her face in her hands, “Kara will never forgive me. Hell, I will never forgive myself.“

“Hey,“ Maggie squeezed arm encouragingly, “None of what happened is your fault. I probably shouldn't tell you this but I spoke to one of Sam's comrades and he told me that she had completely lost herself during their second turn to Afghanistan. Her former instructor had been there as well and she had changed for the worse then. He had given her the nickname Reign and whenever he was around she became darker and outright cruel. He was later convicted of some war crimes and everyone believes he fueled her hate from the very start. He saw her potential and he nurtured it. It made her the best sniper of their battalion but it also made her lose herself.“

“How did I not notice any of that?“ Lena asked, her thoughts racing.
How hadn't she realized that something was wrong with Sam?

“Because she didn't want you to see it. She was good at pretending. She had to be in order to survive in the army. You have been too close to see clearly. And that's not your fault. You simply trusted her, seeing as you considered her your best friend. It happens to all of us, Lena. It just doesn't always end with such a big tragedy but you have to understand that only the people we trust can fool us like that because we would never question them,“ Maggie explained, voice filled with understanding and sympathy, “And for the record. Had I been in your shoes...I would have sent Alex away too. I would have tried to keep her safe as well.“

Lena nodded numbly, “What about Ruby? What happened to her?“

“She is with a social worker right now.“

“Does she know what happened?“ Lena asked, horror written all over her face.

“No. Not yet. They will tell her tomorrow when professional help is available to guide Ruby through everything,“ Maggie explained.

“They can't tell her what Sam did!“ Lena got agitated again, “Ruby can never know!“

“Lena, you have to calm down. They won't tell her all the details of what Sam has done but Ruby needs to know that her mother isn't coming back.“

“I know.“
Fresh tears streamed down Lena's face, “I can't believe she did that. That she killed Veronica. That she wanted to kill me. I...Kara...“

“Why don't you try and rest some more?“ Maggie suggested, “I'll have to check if a doctor is available. They told me to let them know once you wake up. I'll be right back, okay?“

Lena nodded again.

“Oh, and your mother is on the way. She should be here soon.“
----------------------------------------------

A doctor and a nurse showed up a couple of minutes later, checked her vitals, and offered her something to help her sleep but Lena declined, too scared that she would be caught inside a nightmare and too drugged up to wake from it.

Maggie returned with a cup of coffee and some tea for Lena and shook her head when Lena looked at her with questioning eyes, “No news yet, I'm sorry. Eliza talked to one of the doctors and she said it might be a while because of Kara's lung...well, you were there. One of the bullets did a number on her lung and they are still trying to fix that.“

“You don't have to stay,“ Lena croaked out but Maggie only smiled at her, “Yes, I do. Little Danvers would kick my ass to Metropolis and back if she finds out I abandoned you once she'll wake up.“

Lena doubted that Kara would kick anyone's ass anytime soon, if ever, but she knew what Maggie meant and she wouldn't put it past Kara to do so if she could.

There was a knock on the door a couple of minutes later and Lena was expecting her mother. She was all the more surprised when Alex Danvers entered the room.
Maggie got up instantly and Lena watched Alex walk straight into Maggie's arms, clinging to her wife.

Lena couldn't describe the pain she felt at the scene because she felt so sorry and so guilty for everything Kara's family had to go through and at the same time the realization that she might never get to hold Kara again was tearing her apart.

“Did anything happen?“ Maggie whispered and rubbed soothing circles over her wife's back but Alex shook her head, “No. Still nothing. Lucy is with mom, so I thought I'll come see how you are holding up.“

“Everything is under control here, you don't have to worry,“ Maggie assured with a small smile.

“Good. Because I can't worry about the two of you on top of everything,“ Alex said and finally looked at Lena, “How are you feeling?“

Lena was surprised by the question and it showed on her face.
Alex stepped closer to the bed, never letting go of her grip on Maggie's arm, “Lena, you've been through something pretty dramatic. We do worry about you too.“

“It doesn't matter. None of this would have happened if it weren't for me,“ Lena dropped her head and covered her face with her hands once more. She didn't want Alex to see her cry because she didn't deserve Alex's sympathy.

“Lena, I'm sure Maggie already told you this. What happened isn't your fault. Am I mad that you sent Kara away when you did? I am. But I understand it too. I would have done the same in your situation.“

Maggie gave Lena a look that said 'told you so'.

“Our job is dangerous. We always knew what we signed up for. But what happened is no one's fault but Sam's. She is to blame. And Kara for being a reckless fool. She could have worn a damn kevlar vest and...“ Alex took a deep breath to calm herself.

“And nothing. It might not have changed anything. You know why she chose not to wear them,“ Maggie threw in and Lena looked at them in confusion.

Alex sighed heavily and took a seat on the chair next to Lena's bed, “About two years ago our friend Kate Kane got shot on the job. She was a bodyguard too. She had been wearing a kevlar vest and while it had stopped the bullet those vests aren't always safe either. Her organs got squashed because of the immense pressure. And especially the heavier vests...restrict your movement. They slow you down and you can overheat. That's how Kate got shot in the first place. She was running but she wasn't fast enough and the person she was supposed to protect died. And she didn't make it either. And Kara always said the one shot that is basically always fatal...is a shot to the head and the vest can't prevent that from happening. But she would never risk losing someone the way Kate had.“

When Lena didn't say anything Alex added, “Even with the vest...it might not have changed much. Different injuries maybe but life threatening all the same considering the force of the gun Sam used.“
-------------------------------------------------

Lena must have dozed off at some point because the next time she blinked her eyes open it was light outside and her mother was sitting next to her bed, holding her hand.

“Mom?“

“I'm here,“ Lillian replied, unshed tears glistening in her eyes

“How is Kara?“ Lena asked, panicked.
How much time had passed since she had fallen asleep?
“Your detective friend left a while ago to check. She should be back soon,“ Lillian Luthor responded with what she hoped was an encouraging smile, “I'm so glad you are alright.“

“It won't matter if Kara dies,“ Lena mumbled and that caught Lillian's interest, “I want to see her alive and well too, Lena. I'd love to thank her for saving your life but Lena, it was her job to protect you. That doesn't mean I'm not sorry that she got hurt but...“

“She wasn't working for me anymore. Veronica hired her and when Veronica died...Kara declined my offer for a new contract,“ Lena rasped out, causing Lillian to look at her in bewilderment, “Then why?“

Lena took a deep breath, realising that her body ached all over.
Probably from Sam handling her so roughly.
“Because Kara is in love with me,“ Lena admitted while Lillian's eyes grew comically wide, “And before you say anything you should probably know that I'm in love with her too.“

Lillian opened her mouth but no sound came out so she closed it again.
This wasn't the news she was expecting but in the great scheme of things – what did it matter?
Her daughter was in love with another woman. So what?
Lena could have died if it hadn't been for Kara Danvers.
They owed that woman everything.

“I'm sorry if that disappoints you,“ Lena whispered but Lillian immediately squeezed her hand, “Nonsense. I'm surprised, is all. It's fine. If Kara and you are happy together...who am I to judge?“

It wasn't the reaction Lena had expected, not in the slightest, but she was incredibly grateful that her mother was so understanding these days.

A knock on the door announced a visitor and Maggie entered the room.
Lena could tell that she was exhausted and if the haunted look in Maggie's eyes was any indication she wasn't bringing good news either.

Lena could feel the dread in her stomach growing and tears welling in her eyes.
God, no.

Maggie must have noticed because she immediately rushed to her side and tried to smile. It turned out to be a bit of a grimace instead but what mattered more was what Maggie said as soon as she sat down on the edge of Lena's bed, “Kara is alive.“

“She's...“

“It's bad, obviously. There was quite a bit of damage to her left lung. Part of it had to be removed. And her shoulder is shot. It's broken, really. She will need to have surgery for that. They've put her in a coma for now, allowing her body to recover. The doctor said she isn't out of the woods just yet but for now she's somewhat stable. It's not good news per se but we'll take it. It could have been much, much worse,“ Maggie explained and this time she managed a small smile.

Lena only nodded.
Kara was still alive.

“If there is anything Miss Danvers needs. Any specialists that could help, anything at all...don't hesitate,“ Lillian Luthor said, “We'll make it happen. Money is not an issue. I'll cover all of Miss Danver's medical expenses personally.“

Lena looked at her mother with amazement and Maggie was at a complete loss for words momentarily but she recovered quickly, “That's very generous of you, Misses Luthor.“

“Nonsense. It's the least I can do.“
------------------------------------------

Lena was released from hospital later that day.
Alex and Eliza allowed her to sit with Kara for a few minutes and Lena almost fainted at Kara's pale body, connected to more tubes and wires than she could count.
Seeing Kara, who was so much larger than life, look so small and so vulnerable broke Lena's heart in ways she hadn't thought possible.

When she finally left Kara's room she found Alex, Maggie, and Eliza in a heated debate about Krypto.

“Is there anything I can do to help?“ Lena asked, unsure what was going on.

“Actually,“ Alex turned to look at her fully, “You could. We need someone to pick up Krypto from the vet. And to look after him during his recovery. Think you would be up for that?“

Lena nodded vigorously, “Anything. I'd do anything.“

“Great,“ Alex smiled softly, “Thank you.“

At first Lena had wanted to stay at the hospital with Kara but Alex and Maggie had convinced her to go home.
Alex and Eliza would stay with Kara, taking turns, and they would call if there would be any changes.
And Lena would come to visit every day.

But Lena had some recovering of her own to do, especially mentally, as Alex had pointed out.She had also told Lena that she should probably see a therapist.
Lillian had agreed and Lena hadn't needed much convincing because she knew that she wouldn't be able to deal with all of this on her own.
She had thought about it even before everything had come crashing down completely, back when they had still been at the cabin in Midvale.

She would much rather stay by Kara's side but Alex was right – she needed to recover or she would be no good for anyone.
Lillian had surprised Lena by announcing that she would be staying with her for a while.
Lena was a little overwhelmed by her mother's sudden care but she was grateful nonetheless.
She dreaded the return to her apartment after everything that had happened.
Maybe she should sell it.

Maggie would drive them to the veterinary clinic to pick up Krypto and she would also drive Lena to the hospital and back during the next two weeks.
Apparently her boss had been relieved when she had announced that she was finally taking days off because she had worked so much overtime during the last couple years that they were considering how to force detective Swayer into a vacation.

Lena would still have to wear the boot on her leg for a couple of weeks but the doctors were optimistic that she would be walking without it in no time.
-------------------------------------------

Lena had cried when Kryto, now a tripod and all bandaged up, had thrown himself at her as soon as he had seen her.
That dog had so bravely defended her, and so had his owner, and Lena had a hard time wrapping her mind around the fact that the both of them had suffered so greatly because of it.

He was hobbling around undeterred though, as if losing a limb wouldn't be a big deal. Krypto was in better spirits than Lena and she vowed then and there to pull herself together and get better.
She would call a therapist as soon as they were home.

There was no way that she would be wallowing in self-pity when Krypto was up and running already.
And so they had returned to her penthouse where Lillian was already waiting for them.
As Lena walked through the door the smell of bleach hit her nose and she knew right then that she would definitely sell the place.
Too many bad memories were attached to it now anyway.
-------------------------------------------------------------

The first week went by in a blur.
James Olson had called two days after Lena's release from the hospital and he had apologized for being a jerk in regards to their break up.
At first Lena had thought he would be angling for an interview but when James had told her that his sister Kelly was a psychiatrist and therapist Lena had understood that James was trying to make amends.
James had also told her that she wouldn't have to worry as his sister had served in the army and was integrity personified. That she would never spill Lena's secrets to anyone.

Lena had paled at the mention of the army but the more she thought about it the more she wanted to call Kelly Olson because maybe she would be able to make sense of all this madness.
Maybe she could help her understand what had happened to Sam as it still made no sense to Lena.

And so she had called Kelly Olson who had agreed to see her right the next day.

Krypto was recovering nicely and since both of them couldn't walk fast nor far yet they made quite the pair.
Even Lillian had chuckled at the sight. Lena had only rolled her eyes.

Between going to therapy and visiting a comatose Kara Lena found herself quite busy and exhausted by the time she returned home each day.

Lillian Luthor had taken it upon herself to cook which had left Lena doubtful in the beginning but she had to learn that her mother was, in fact, a great cook.
Who would have thought.

Kelly Olson had told her after their first session that it would be good if Lena would come by three times a week, at least in the beginning, because Lena's trauma was quite severe.
And after a couple of sleepless nights, tormented by gruesome nightmares, Lena had agreed because she was in an even worse place mentally than she had initially thought.
She had told her mother that she wanted to sell the penthouse the same day as it did nothing for her recovery.
---------------------------

After nine long days the doctors announced that they would reduce the medication that kept Kara under but they warned them that it might take some time for Kara to wake up.
Eliza, a doctor herself, had explained the process to Alex, Maggie, Lena, and even Lillian patiently, seemingly confident that everything would be fine.

Lena was on edge anyway.
When Kara still hadn't woken up on day eleven Lena was close to losing her mind.

Kelly Olson turned out to be her savior.
There was something about her ex-boyfriend's sister. The first couple of times they met Kelly had patiently listened to Lena's ramblings, had provided insight to army related things and it had also been Kelly who had come to the conclusion that Sam must have focused her hate on Lena because it had been “easy“, seeing as Lena had everything Sam had dreamed of. Kelly also told Lena that it had nothing to do with Lena being a bad friend because she had been there when it had mattered and it wasn't that she had never gone out of her way for Sam but that her best friend had been too far gone at that point, fueled by her hatred for the injustices she had experienced.

Rationally Lena knew that what had happened to Sam hadn't been her fault but guilt wasn't rational and it gnawed on her late at night when it was quiet.
Lillian had woken her up from more than one nightmare and she had spent the rest of the night with her face buried in Krypto's fur, wishing that Kara would be with her.

Kara who wouldn't wake up.

On day twelve Lena dragged herself to the hospital after a sleepless night, dark bags under her eyes.
She bumped into Alex in the corridor, hope blooming in her chest for a moment, until she saw Alex shake her head and her shoulders fall.

Eliza was sitting with Kara when Lena entered the room but she got up right away, allowing Lena to take the seat she had occupied.

“Do you mind if I join Alex for a cup of coffee before she leaves, sweetheart?“

Lena shook her head.
She didn't mind. She was glad for a few minutes alone with Kara.

Eliza squeezed her shoulder as she passed by, “She will wake up. You need to have faith.“

Lena waited for Eliza to leave the room before she grabbed Kara's right hand and put a kiss to her balm, “I messed up, didn't I? I wanted to keep you safe and got you almost killed instead. I'm so sorry, Kara. Back in Midvale I promised you that I would do whatever you said...it was your condition to stay. I promised and then I...gosh...“

Tears were streaming down Lena's face unbidden.
She had broken her promise after Kara had told her she was worried that she couldn't protect her since there were feelings involved.
It was what weighed heaviest on her heart – that she had gone back on that promise.
What if she had allowed Kara to stay that night?

Surely Kara would have caught on a lot faster and together with Krypto, together they could have taken Sam down.
There was no doubt in Lena's mind that they could have done that because Krypto must have recognized Sam that night.
Dogs were great like that.
And Kara would have known, Kryto would have given her away.

Maybe all of this could have been avoided.
Or maybe all of them would be dead now.
Granted, nobody could say for certain what would have happened but Lena was convinced that the outcome might have been better if she had listened to Kara.

A sob escaped her lips, her desperation echoing through the room, “Why won't you wake up?! I would give it all up...my money, my career, if only you woke up, Kara. I know it's selfish of me to say that I can't sleep without you but it's true. I miss you and I want to take care of you as you have taken care of me all along. But not because I feel that I owe you...because I'm in love with you and I'm so, so sorry. I'll never forgive myself.“

Lena covered her mouth with her free hands, swallowing down the sobs and the tears as best as she could but they wouldn't stop.
She wanted to pull her hand away from Kara's to wipe her face and it was only then that she realized that Kara's grip must have tightened.

“Kara?“

Lena stood up to properly look at Kara's face.
The breathing tube was what worried her the most if Lena was really honest but it was a necessity because of the damage to Kara's lung.
The doctors had been worried that her lung might collapse in the beginning but somehow it hadn't and they had been carefully optimistic the other day that Kara would be able to recover and live a somewhat normal life.
If she woke up.

“It's all in my head. I'm seeing things,“ Lena reprimanded herself.

She tried to pull her hand away again but this time she watched it happen.
She watched as Kara's fingers tightened around her own.
Her heart rate increased a moment later if the waster pace of the beep was any indication.

Lena stood frozen to the stop.
She closed her eyes, hoping and praying that this was really happening.

When she opened her eyes she stared right into familiar blue ones.
Kara was awake at last.

Chapter Text

Alyona pulled her into the tightest hug they had ever shared as soon as Ankara and Lacrimosa came through the portal and Ankara clung to her sister as if her life would depend on it.
They should like that for a long moment before Ankara finally stepped out of the embrace, only to spot Edith and Jonathan at the DEO.

She ran towards them, tumbled into their waiting arms and thanked Rao that she had found this amazing family here on Earth.
A family that had considered her their own from the very start.

When they finally pulled apart Jonathan smiled at her, “Family dinner?“

Ankara looked over to Lacrimosa, who stood to the side to give them some privacy, “Would it be alright if...“

She didn't get further than that. Edith squeezed her shoulder and nodded toward Lacrimosa, “Of course. Just go get her.“
------------------------------------------------

Lacrimosa had been surprised when she had invited her along but Ankara had only smiled and dragged her along.
They had spent an evening filled with joy and laughter at Ankara's favorite restaurants.
There had been more potstickers than she had ever seen in her life plus a variety of other dishes and Ankara had been so delighted to spend an evening surrounded by at the people she loved most in the world.

Edith and Jonathan would stay the night at the apartment Ankara shared with her sister, so Lacrimosa suggested that Ankara stay with her.
They agreed to have breakfast together at Lacrimosa's penthouse the next morning before Edith and Jonathan would return to Midvale.

Now that Ankara and Lacrimosa were sitting on the big couch in Lacrimosa's living room the remaining tension finally started to bleeding from Ankara's shoulders.

“When I was a little girl...I remember how much I idolized my parents,“ Ankara shook her head, “I can't believe how messed up they are. Or in my father's case...he was a megalomaniac and a lunatic. I see that now.“

“I'm sorry that your parents ended up disappointing you so much. I know what a hard pill to swallow that can be,“ Lacrimosa admitted, “But you are not your family, Ankara. You are so much better than them.“

“So are you,“ Ankara said with a small smile, “I'll never be able to thank you enough. For everything you've done. Mostly for coming for me.“

“Don't tell me you wouldn't have done the same for me,“ Lacrimosa shot back and Ankara found that her best friend was right.

She would have done anything to help Lacrimosa.
She would go to the end of the world for her.
And if anything would happen to Lacrimosa she would tear it apart.

-----------------------------------------------------------

When Ankara arrived at the DEO the next day she found Mon-El standing next to Brainy.
He was wearing some sort of mask with the Van L – Corp logo on it. So, Lacrimosa must have found something to filter the lead out of the air to protect him.
That woman was nothing short of amazing.

“Ankara!“ he greeted excitedly and pulled her into a hug without warming.

She wriggled out of his embrace as soon as she realized what was happening, much to Mon-El's disappointment but he wouldn't be deterred, “Now that you are back...can we hang out? Or go to the movies or something? I'd invite you to dinner but I can only eat in my cell for the time being. And that isn't really romantic. We have to wait for that till your friends figures something else out.“

Ankara's eyes went wide.
Romantic? Mon-El?
Surely he couldn't think that...

“I gave up everything for you, Ankara. I stayed on this weird planet for you. The least you can do is go out with me,“ he reasoned and Ankara couldn't help but feel guilty. So, she nodded, “We can go to the movies.“

Mon-El raised his arm in victory but Ankara had enough of his ridiculous antics.
She needed to talk to her sister.
But as soon as she turned around she locked eyes with Lacrimosa.
A smile was plastered on Lacrimosa's face but her usually sparkling green eyes looked pained.
Almost haunted.

 

The Girl of Steel: You are my kryptonite
by L. K. Luthor

 

The doctors had told them that Kara had to stay on the ventilator for another day at least as a safety measure but no one had cared much because Kara had seemed coherent and nothing else had mattered.

Lena had wanted to stay but she had an appointment with Kelly Olson she shouldn't miss.
It had been Eliza who had told her to go and come back afterwards if she wanted. When Kara had given the smallest nod with her head Lena had known that she had to do the right thing.
And the right thing for herself, and everyone else, was her going to therapy and getting better.

That was how she found herself in Kelly Olson's office once again, her leg whipping nervously, as she waited for Kelly to finish her phone call.

As soon as Kelly put down her cellphone Lena blurted out that Kara was awake and she couldn't help but smile for a moment. It didn't last though and Kelly Olson caught the shift in Lena's emotions immediately.

“Aren't you happy that Kara is doing better?“ Kelly tilted her head and eyed her curiously.

Lena nodded immediately, “Of course I'm happy. I was there when she woke up and it was...I can't describe how amazing it felt to see her eyes open. But I'm scared.“

“What are you scared of?“

When Lena didn't reply Kelly decided to wait patiently.
Clearly there was a lot Lena had to work through.

Eventually, Lena's reply came out in a whisper, “That she won't want to see me. That she will blame me for what happened. I sent her away when I promised that I'd listen to her and...what if...I messed up, I know I did. And Kara is paying for it now. And Krypto.“

“Lena,“ Kelly said softly, “You couldn't know. And from what you told me Sam could have easily opened fire upon arrival had Kara been there. You don't know what could have happened then. Maybe she would have killed Kara, maybe not. There's no way of knowing. I'm sure Kara, as a professional bodyguard, knows that. And from what you told me about her she'll be glad that she managed to do her job and save you. She knows the risks of her job better than anyone. And even when she was no longer working for you...she still risked it all because she wanted to. That was her choice.“

Lena didn't know what to say.
Kelly Olson had a point but still. She was scared out of her mind that after everything she had lost already she would lose Kara too.
Because of her own cowardice.

“Sam's actions are hers and hers alone. None of what happened is your fault. You need to remember that,“ Kelly continued, “Are you sleeping any better?“

Lena thought about lying but what would be the point?
How could she get better if she wouldn't be honest?
So, she shook her head.

“Not really. But having Krypto there helps.“

“Good. Healing can't be forced. It takes time. You've been through a lot,“ Kelly gave her a small, encouraging smile, “But I'm proud of you for battling through all of it head on. Not everyone can do that.“

“I want to get better. For myself. But also for Kara. She will need help recovering and I want to be there for her,“ Lena admitted, “And for Ruby too. Eventually.“

It was the first time she mentioned Ruby's name in Kelly's office.
When Kelly had tried to talk to Lena about Sam's daughter before Lena had always shut her down because she hadn't been ready.
She still wasn't ready but maybe she would never be.

“Do you know how she is doing?“ Kelly asked curiously, watching Lena's every move.

“No. Maggie told me...on the drive over...that she would be placed with a temporary foster until the investigation is completed and then they'll decide what's going to happen to her...because Sam's father is in jail and her mother...she suffered a massive stroke before all of this madness started. She's in a care home herself, so she can't take care of Ruby either. There are no other living relatives as far as I know. And Ruby's father...well, no one knows who he is,“ Lena explained, “But Maggie said she's been asking for me. And I've been thinking about going to see her, maybe?“

Kelly studied Lena for a moment, “Do you want to see her?“

“Yes and no,“ Lena dropped her head, “Of course I want to see her. I love Ruby. But what can I possibly say? She can't know what Sam did. Not now. Preferably not ever. And what if she knows something and...she hates me too?“

Kelly considered Lena's words for a moment before she made a decision, “Would it help if I accompanied you? If we went to see her together?“

“Would you?“ Lena asked, insecurity shining in her eyes.

“Of course.“

“Can I...can I tell Maggie to call you to set up a meeting once it's possible?“

Kelly smiled, “Yes.“
---------------------------------------------------

When Lena returned to the hospital Kara was asleep but she didn't mind.
Eliza told her that the doctors had run some tests and checked Kara's reflexes earlier and everything looked good so far.
Well, as good as could be considering the circumstances.

It didn't do much for Lena's nerves and she returned to the penthouse as tense as ever where she was greeted by a tail wagging Krypto and her mother who was looking at her worriedly, “Where have you been? Did something happen?“

Lena cursed herself for not letting her mother know that she would be late and she dropped her head in shame, “Kara woke up. I went back to the hospital after therapy. I'm sorry I forgot to call.“

“That's great news, Lena!“ her mother stepped closer, “Don't beat yourself up for not calling. It's fine. I was just worried.“

Lena nodded numbly, a single tear rolling down her cheek, “I just keep messing up.“

Lillian Luthor might not have been the most affectionate mother but she was no fool. She knew that her daughter was hurting in a way she couldn't even imagine and so she pulled Lena into a tight hug, holding her close, “You didn't mess up. It's fine. Let's just sit down and talk for a bit, okay?“
--------------------------------------------------

Lena had fallen asleep with her head in her mother's lap and Lillian running her fingers through her hair in a slow, gentle rhythm.
She had told her mother about her session with Kelly, about her plans to see Ruby, and she even shared some of her worries about Kara.

If anyone had told her she'd find herself that close to her adoptive mother one day she would have laughed in their face but she was so incredibly grateful that her mother was there for her during this challenging time.
She wasn't sure what she would have done without Lillian looking after her the last couple of days and she had vowed to herself that she would find a way to show her mother how much she appreciated her.

Now she jerked awake, heart racing, unable to breath, the picture of a dying Kara right in front of her eyes.
She could still feel the blood, smell the iron in the air, as if she would be still there on that rooftop.

Why she had thought that the nightmares would get better once Kara would wake up Lena didn't know but at that moment she felt as if they were getting worse.
Sam's laugh was echoing in her mind, haunting her, taunting her, and Lena could feel the tears welling in her eyes.

Krypto bumped her hand with his nose, always the loyal companion.
Lena buried her hands in his fur, trying to ground herself but she couldn't help but feel like losing her mind.
She was scared of closing her eyes because every time she did she saw someone die. Either Veronica or Kara. Mostly Kara if she was honest. Sometimes Jack or even Ruby. On occasion her mother or her brother.

She was a mess and while Kara's condition had improved she was still scared that something would go wrong, that some unforeseen complication would finish what Sam had started.
That they would lose Kara after all.

The other thing that was weighing so heavy on Lena's heart was that she felt so much grief.
She had lost Veronica and she had lost Sam too.
She had caught herself on more than one occasion, mourning her best friend, and she felt so ashamed for it because of what Sam had done.

Kelly had said that she had still lost her best friend because till the very last day Lena hadn't known, had considered Sam her closest friend and she was allowed to mourn her despite what Sam had done.
But it felt so wrong for Lena to grieve for someone who had tried to kill her on multiple occasions. How could she mourn Sam when she had killed Veronica, when she had almost killed Kara too?

God, she missed Veronica so much.
She had been the older sister Lena never had, she had been the person she had wanted Lex to be.
Veronica had always been able to offer advice, advice Lena so desperately needed.
Now that she was in need of guidance and advice the most, Veronica was gone.
Dead because of Sam's hatred for her.
How could she ever mourn Sam?

But there were the good memories and the laughter.
The times when Sam Arias had been her go-to person, the nights where they had snuck out of the Luthor mansion to go stargazing. Where Lena had first dreamt up the entirety of Krypton.
Sam had been such an intricate part of this whole world she had created.

Alyona's and Ankara's bond had been based on their friendship.
How had Sam not seen that when she had dedicated the first book to her?

They had taken vacations together once Sam had returned from studying abroad or so Lena had believed. She had taken them with her on her book tour whenever she had gotten the chance.
She had been there in her own way when she was absent.
She had sent voice messages and videos, had written postcards, letters, and emails.
Had sent packages from her travels.
She had cared about Sam and Ruby.
Always.

Krypto wrestled himself onto the couch and put his head on her chest.
She had come to love Kara's dog as if he would be her own and Lena vowed that she would adopt a dog if Kara didn't want anything to do with her.
Or maybe, just maybe, if they would get through this never-ending madness together, they would eventually adopt a dog as a family.

It made her think of Ruby.
She hoped that the girl would be okay and she hadn't lied when she had told Kelly that she wanted to see her. Or when she had told her that she was worried that Ruby might know something and would hate her too.

There was more to it than that though.
How should she explain to Ruby that she wasn't sad about what had happened to her mother (she was though, she just didn't allow herself to be)?
How should she hide the anger she felt towards Sam for what she had done?

Lena was scared to the bone that she wouldn't be able to hide anything from Ruby, that she wouldn't be able to pretend well enough to not give it all away when Ruby couldn't find out.

She was too tired to stay away, too scared to fall asleep, and too wired to calm her mind.
What a disastrous combination.

Lena turned on the TV, zapped through various channels, and eventually landed on re-runs of The Golden Girls.
Maybe that would help her fall asleep to less horrific dreams.
She could only hope.
-------------------------------------

Lena woke later than usual the next morning.
She was on the verge of skipping breakfast but her mother told her to stay put because she wanted to accompany her to the hospital later.

Lillian made her eat her porridge before she showed Lena some apartments and houses for sale that she had pre-selected, much to Lena's surprise.
Yes, she wanted to sell the penthouse and move as soon as possible but she hadn't been aware that her mother had spent her days actively searching for options. She had thought her mother would be busy working because the company wasn't running itself.

Well, maybe Lillian was because her mother had always been very ambitious and incredibly driven, so who knew?

They studied the exposes together and Lena picked her favorites but decided that she didn't have to make a decision today.
She would have to think about all of this and most importantly, she had to talk to Kara. Because if there was a chance for a future for the two of them then Kara should have a say in it too, even though they wouldn't move in together anytime soon.

By the time they finally left for the hospital it was almost 2 pm in the end because Lillian did have to make some business calls after all.
-------------------------------------------------

“Lena.“
Kara's voice was raspy and hoarse but Lena stopped dead in her tracks anyway as soon as she entered Kara's room in the ICU.

Eliza had left because Lillian had wanted to talk to her.
Lena wasn't sure if it was wise to leave their mothers alone but her desire to see Kara was stronger and so she had entered the room, not at all prepared to hear Kara's voice.

She covered her mouth with her hands as tears welled in her eyes and a sob escaped her lips.
Kara held out her uninjured right arm and Lena rushed to her side, grabbed her hand and held on so tight that she worried that Kara's hand would crack beneath her fingertips but Kara didn't even flinch.

“I'm so sorry,“ Lena mumbled between sobs, feelings of guilt dragging her down once more.

She felt Kara's hand wriggle out of her grasp and cup her cheek carefully, “Lena.“

Lena managed to take a deep breath and eventually calmed down.
She let herself fall onto the chair next to Kara's bed before she spotted the cup of ice chips on the small table, “Want some?“

Kara nodded but held out for Lena to take it once more. She clasped their fingers together as soon as Lena's hand was close enough for her to grasp and Lena fed her some ice chips with her free hand, careful with her every movement now, making sure not to hurt Kara in any way.

“How are you feeling?“ Lena asked, only to chastise herself a moment later.
What a dumb question.
Kara had been shot twice and had almost died.
How would she be feeling?
Miserable if Lena had to guess.

“M'fine. Tired. Sore. But I'll live,“ Kara croaked out, “How are you?“

Lena only shook her head, “Don't you worry about me.“

“Lena!“ Kara's voice was louder now and Lena flinched, “I'll always worry.“

“You don't have to. Everything that has happened is my fault and had I not thrown you out...“

Kara squeezed her hand as tightly as she could manage to get Lena's attention, “We might both be dead.“

“You don't know that!“ Lena hissed but Kara squeezed her hand again, “She blindsided us all.“
Kara's voice was fading and Lena felt her another ice chip because she realized how scratchy Kara's throat must be after being intubated for so long.

“I never suspected her because she almost got poisoned,“ Kara rasped out eventually, “Perfect distraction. And the kid too.“

Lena knew that Kara was right. Rationally she knew that.
But all the 'what if' scenarios in her mind wouldn't disappear, no matter how hard she tried.

“Tired?“ Kara managed to ask before her voice gave out again and it dawned on Lena that Kara saw right through her, despite everything, so she nodded.

“Me too.“
----------------------------------------------

By the time Lillian and Eliza had finished their conversation about Kara's care they stared through the window of the room with dumbfounded expressions on their faces.

Kara and Lena were sleeping peacefully.
Kara in her bed and Lena in her chair but they were still holding hands.
--------------------------------------------------

Eliza had to return to Midvale the next morning but promised to come back on her days off.

Alex and Maggie would have to go back to work in a couple of days as well and Lena readily offered to spend time with Kara at the hospital because Lillian agreed to stay with Krypto.
It would give her mother the opportunity to get some work done as well, so everyone was in agreement.

Lena and Kara didn't talk much because Kara was sleeping most of the day away due to pain medication and exhaustion.
It made Lena remember that she still had a book to write, so she brought one of her notebooks and wrote page after page by hand.

She went to see Kelly twice that week and her therapist informed her that they were allowed to visit Ruby the next week.
Lena wasn't sure how to deal with the news and she found herself sitting in a hospital chair in Kara's room, a gloomy expression on her face and doubt in her eyes.

Kara was feeling better today, Lena could tell.
Maybe it was the news that she would have surgery on her shoulder the next day and they were considering getting her out of the ICU afterwards if everything would go well.

“What's wrong?“ Kara wanted to know but Lena didn't want to burden her with her problems, so she tried to distract Kara with a picture of Krypto her mother had sent earlier.
He had snatched the steaks Lillian had meant to cook for dinner right off the kitchen counter and her mother had caught him lying on the couch, chewing happily.

Kara couldn't help but laugh.
She winced in pain only mere seconds later but when Lena jumped up to check on her Kara gestured for her to sit back down, “Laughing hurts but it was worth it.“

Kara had taken the news that Krypto had lost his leg rather well, to everyone's surprise. She had told Lena one afternoon that she was just glad that Krypto was still alive. That they all were and that nothing else mattered.
Lena had caught herself wishing that she could see it like that but her mind was too busy feeding her doubts and fears.

“Tell me what's wrong,“ Kara looked at her worriedly.
Her voice was less raspy now but it still wasn't back to its usual timbre.

Lena sighed in defeat, “I'm going to see Ruby on Monday.“

“Oh.“
Kara squeezed her hand encouragingly, “Is there anything I can do?“

Lena shook her head, “No. I just...what am I supposed to do. It's my fault that Ruby has to grow up an orphan now.“

“You're not,“ Kara argued, “If anything it's my fault. I shot her.“

“Because you wanted to save me,“ Lena countered, causing Kara to frown, “So, you are not mad at me for actually killing Sam but you are blaming yourself for her wanting to kill you.“

Lena dropped her head.
It sounded stupid, even to her own ears.

“Maybe Sam was right and I was a lousy friend at times“ was what she said in the end.

“That's no reason to kill people,“ Kara fired back.

“I know, okay? I know!“ Lena snapped, instantly regretting it, “I'm sorry. I just...I don't know how I'm supposed to look Ruby in the eye after everything that has happened.“

The sympathy in Kara's eyes caused tears to well in Lena's but she swallowed them down because she was tired of crying, “I'll cross that bridge once I come to it on Monday. There's no point in worrying about this now because I'm fairly certain I won't be able to prepare myself for that meeting anyway.“

Kara, as perceptive as ever, was aware that the topic was closed for the time being, “Would you like to come visit me in Midvale once they release me?“

Lena's eyes went wide.
Whether from shock or from surprise she wasn't sure.
“You're going to Midvale?“

“Yeah. I mean...I will need to do physical therapy for a while and Alex and Maggie will be working. And they don't need me crashing at their place for weeks, probably even months because I won't be able to stay by myself in the beginning. Eliza will be busy at the hospital too but she said we'll get a nurse...“

“Why didn't you ask me?“ Lena interrupted, “You could stay with me and do everything here in National City. Don't tell me Midvale has better physical therapists.“

“It's not your job to take care of me, Lena. You have a book to write, a book tour to go on. I'd never ask that of you,“ Kara replied with an understanding smile but it only made Lena more furious, “I don't care about that bloody book tour! I care about you!“

“Lena...“

“No, Kara. I don't even know if I want to do another book tour after everything that has happened because I'm dealing with so much anxiety that I can barely sleep. You've taken care of me all this time. I could take care of you unless you don't want me to?“
It dawned on Lena then that they were about to have the conversation she had dreaded since the moment Kara had woken up.
“Is that it? Do you want to get rid of me? Just say it then, Kara. I know I messed up and everything went to hell because of it. I thought maybe we could still work it all out with time but if you don't want this anymore then...“

Lena fell silent and lost the battle with her tears at last.
This was it.
This was the end of a journey that hadn't even really begun.

“Of course I want to be with you, Lena!“ Kara wrestled around to sit a little straighter, “You got it all wrong. Would you please listen to me?“

Lena eyed her warily, like a potential prey waiting for the perfect moment to escape, to make a run for it.

“I know how important your book is to you and it should be. I don't want to be an inconvenience and I don't want you to take care of me because you feel you have to because I got shot protecting you. Yes, it was more than a job this time but it was my choice. I knew there was a chance I might not survive but I couldn't let you get hurt because the world needs that beautiful brain of yours...and your visions. They have helped and inspired so much greatness,“ Kara stated but Lena only shook her head.

“Did you hear what I said to you before you lost consciousness?“

Kara looked at her apologetically, “I'm afraid my memory is a little foggy.“

“I told you that I don't want you to die for me. I basically begged you to live for me,“ Lena choked out, “I know I don't have to take care of you, Kara. But I want to, the damn book be damned. None of it would have mattered had you died.“

“Hey,“ Kara reached out to grab Lena's chin, “I'm still here.“

“But you'll never work again and one day you might hate me for it,“ Lena blurted out and Kara looked at her in surprise, “What are you talking about?“

“Kara, I'm not stupid. Your shoulder is a bust. I know how to use google. That surgery will repair some of the damage and if you're lucky you will be able to lead a somewhat normal life. But you will never be able to work again. Not like you used to,“ Lena looked Kara in the eye and dared her to lie straight to her face but Kara defeated almost immediately before she sighed, “You are right. Chances of me working as a bodyguard again aren't great. I knew as soon as that second bullet hit me. Do I love my job? Yes. Will I miss it? Most definitely. But I told you already...Alex and I were considering changing some things because neither of us had much of a life outside of work. I need to recover, obviously. And it's going to be a long way back, I have no illusions about that. We're talking months, maybe even longer. But once I have recovered I will start training people who want to become professional security details. My knowledge is worth something too, you know?“

When Lena didn't answer Kara continued, “I will never regret saving you, Lena. No matter what you might think. Even knowing how it would end now wouldn't change my decision. I'd do it all again.“

“So, stay with me then,“ Lena insisted, “The best medical care you can get is in National City. I'll finish my book and then I'm done anyway. If Maxwell Lord thinks he can force me to go on a book tour I don't wanna do he has another thing coming.“

It was at that moment that Lena remembered that she had to deal with her publisher all on her own now because Veronica, who had shielded her all throughout her career, was gone.
It was unsettling but she wouldn't replace Veronica.
There was no one who could take her place anyway.

Chapter Text

Alyona had watched her sister pace around the living room like a maniac for almost ten minutes when she finally had enough, “Ankara, stop it already! Tell me what's wrong so I can help you.“

“I think Mon-El asked me out,“ Ankara muttered under her breath and Ankara spit out the beer she had tried to swallow at that exact moment, “What?!“

“He said he stayed on earth for me. He's lonely in his cell and now that Lacrimosa got him the mask he wants to hang out. He wants to take me to the movies because we can't do romantic things like dinner yet as he can't take off the mask Lacrimosa made him. That's what he said,“ Ankara rambled, fidgeting with her hands.

Alyona studied her for a moment before she asked “Do you want to hang out with him?“

“He's all alone and I feel sorry for him. I know how he feels,“ Ankara sighed, “Maybe I should give it a try?“

Her sister shook her head vehemently, “That's not what I asked, Ankara. Do you want to go out with him?“

“Well, no. I don't know. But I owe him a chance, don't I?“

“You don't owe him anything!“ Alyona was out of her seat like the flash and she grabbed her sister's hands, holding them tight, “Ankara, don't let him talk you into something you don't want. He made his choice, that's on him. You don't have to feel guilty because your situations aren't the same. Are there similarities? Yes. But he didn't have to stay. That he did was a decision he made on his own. You didn't ask him to stay, did you?“

“No, I didn't,“ Ankara admitted, “But...“

“No but. There is no point in getting his hopes up if you don't have feelings for him,“ Alyona continued, “Or do you?“
She eyed her sister, eyebrow raised curiously, “Ankara, do you have romantic feelings?“

Ankara blushed furiously under her sister's scrutiny, “I think I do. Just not for...“
She clamped her mouth shut before she could say more because she hadn't even meant to admit that.

Alyona had caught on anyway and her eyes grew wide, “Just not for Mon-El.“
She had a fairly good idea who her sister was talking about too and Alyona would lie if she would say she would be surprised.
“Can we sit down for this conversation?“

Ankara nodded and flopped down on the couch, pulling her sister with her, “There's nothing to talk about though. I told Mon-El that we could go to the movies and I think Lacrimosa heard.“

“Ankara!“

“I know, I know. She didn't say anything though, she just looked sad,“ Ankara admitted, “But maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.“
Her eyes went wide as soon as she registered what she had said, “I mean I don't want Lacrimosa to be sad. But if she's sad because she thinks Mon-El and I...“

“I get it, I get it,“ Alyona interrupted, “And I can't speak for Lacrimosa, obviously, but she looks at you as if you had hung the stars and the moon just for her.“

“Really?!“
Ankara couldn't hide her excitement and she looked at her sister with big, expectant eyes.

“You should talk to her, you know?“ Alyona suggested, causing her sister to nod and defleat, “I'm scared. I don't want to lose her.“

Alyona squeezed her shoulder encouragingly, “Feelings are always scary, Ankara. But she deserves the truth. Lying to her, hiding things from her, will only hurt her because the truth always comes out sooner or later. And you don't want her assuming that you didn't tell her because you're ashamed or disgusted by what you are feeling for her.“

Ankara looked truly appalled, “I could never! She's everything to me.“

“Then tell her. And talk to Mon-El for heaven's sake!“

“Yup. First thing tomorrow. And then I'll go see Lacrimosa for lunch,“ Ankara looked deep in thought, “Do you think Mom and Dad will be okay with me being...you know...“

Alyona gave her a warm and understanding smile, “They will always love you, Ankara. No matter what. And so will I.“

 

The Girl of Steel: You are my kryptonite
by L. K. Luthor

 

Lena was pacing the waiting room under the watchful gaze of her mother and Alex Danvers.
They had taken Kara for her shoulder surgery about thirty minutes ago but Lena felt so incredibly restless already that she couldn't sit still.

She was such a nervous wreck these days and a surgery, no matter how small, was always risky.
When her cellphone rang Lena almost jumped out of her skin and she paled as soon as she saw Maxwell Lord's name on the display.

Her mother appeared next to her and held out her hand as soon as she realized who the caller was “I'll take care of that weasel.“

Lena was so relieved that she handed her mother the phone without a fight and watched Lillian leave the waiting room only seconds later, phone already in her ear.
She had meant it when she told Kara that she would deal with her publisher herself from now on but today was not the day. She wasn't ready to try and stand her ground, especially since the majority of her book was still unwritten.

“Are you moving?“ Alex asked all of a sudden, pointing to the papers on one of the hospital chairs.

Lena was grateful for the distraction because she knew otherwise she would start spiralling again and it wouldn't do anyone any good, “Yeah. Kara and I have been checking my mother's selection. I just...I can't stay in my penthouse. It's...too many memories. They are burying me alive.“

Alex nodded in understanding, “I can't even imagine what you've been through, Lena. But if there is anything I can do to help...“

“Thank you, Alex. The same goes for you. If there is anything you need. Gear for your business or...anything. Just say the word,“ Lena offered in return, earning a smile from Alex, “I know. But you and your mother covering Kara's medical bills is more than enough, really. So, found anything?“
Alex pointed at the files again and Lena picked one to show to Kara's sister, “I really like that one. And Kara likes it too.“

She blushed at the admission but Alex only grinned, “Man, my sister really could do a lot worse.“

They looked at the exposé of the home Lena was thinking about making an offer for.
The building had only been finished a couple of weeks ago right in the harbour district. It was another, very spacious penthouse with floor to ceiling windows that allowed a perfect view over the whole harbor. What was so special about it was the rooftop terrace that came with it that had its own gazebo and a garden.

There was a private elevator that led straight into the apartment that came with various safety measures so no unwanted visitors would show up and Lena appreciated all the thought that had gone into that but mostly she loved the view.

And the fact that it was an office building for the most part which meant she wouldn't have to worry about difficult neighbours.

She was still gushing about the place and Alex was looking at the pictures in awe when her mother returned, a smirk on her face, “Maxwell Lord sends his regards. He said to tell you that you should take all the time you need to finish your book and that he fully understands if you don't want to do a book tour this time. He suggested one or two book signings in National City and maybe New York eventually.“

Lena's eyes grew wide, “Mother, what did you do?“

Lillian only smirked, “Nothing Veronica wouldn't have done as well. It's taken care of, that's what matters.“
----------------------------------------------------

Her mother had disappeared again a couple of minutes later to make some phone calls and Lena hadn't questioned it.

Alex had engaged her in a conversation about The Girl of Steel trilogy and Lena's chest had warmed when she had realized that Kara hadn't been lying when she had told her that her whole family and crew treasured her writing.

Lena had been careful not to give anything away about the book she was working on because she wanted it to be a surprise for Kara and her friends and family.

When the doctor had finally appeared a couple of hours later Alex and Lena were still talking books and Lena hadn't even realized that her mother had never come back.

Much to their relief the surgery had gone well and Kara was back in her room, sleeping.
Alex and Lena were allowed to sit with her for a while and it was agreed upon that Lena would stay the night for a change because Alex deserved a night off.
A night at home with her wife who showed up right after her shift at the precinct.

Maggie even brought dinner and Lena vowed to herself to find a way to thank Kara's sister and her wife in some way because Maggie had been so wonderful to her ever since they had met at the cabin in Midvale.

Kara slept most of the day and the night away, still groggy from surgery, and Lena felt some semblance of calm for once, even though she was sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair all night and woke up with a stiff neck in the morning.
At least she had only woken up from a nightmare once and she took that as a win.

Kara would have to stay in the hospital for a few more days but at least there was light at the end of the tunnel now and Kara's release was creeping closer.

Much to Lena's surprise it wasn't Alex who showed up in the morning but Eliza Danvers and Lena instantly felt uneasy because she wasn't sure how well Kara's adoptive mother had taken the news that her daughter would stay in National City instead of spending her recovery time in Midvale.
But when Eliza only smiled at her, gratitude shining in her eyes, as she walked by and squeezed her shoulder in what felt like encouragement Lena breathed a little easier.

It was only when Lena returned to her apartment to the sight of countless boxes and Lillian delegating a handful of strangers around that she felt as if she entered the twilight zone.

“Mother, what is going on?“

Lillian raised her eyebrow and smirked, “Lena, dear...what does it look like? We're packing up your apartment, of course.“

Lena's eyes grew comically wide, much to her mother's amusement and delight, “Packing?“

“Well, I thought it best to get everything moved and set up before Kara gets released from the hospital,“ Lillian explained her logic but Lena was still clueless, “Mother, are you alright? Move where?“

Lillian looked at her funny, “To that penthouse you and Kara swooned over of course. I made an offer yesterday and told them I need the keys by Monday. It's well on the way.“

Lena shook her head.
Had she suffered a stroke or something?

“You did what? Mom, I...what?“

Lillian stepped closer and squeezed her hand, “Lena, you never asked anything from us. Ever since you published your first book you made your own money and were independent. You never needed us but I heard you and Alex talk yesterday and I...I wanted to do this for you. All these years I've looked after Lex and what a waste it was. Not taking care of him but you know how crazy he is and what he spent that money on. You are my daughter. I know I wasn't always the mother I should have been but I...I feel things are better now and I wanted to do this for you because I could.“

Lena pulled her mother into her arms and hugged her close, “Mom, you don't have to buy me a penthouse to show that you love me.“

“I know but I wanted to,“ Lillian assured once more, cupping Lena's cheeks, “My precious girl. I was so mad at your father when I first found out and it took me forever to realize exactly what a gift you are...but I do know now.“

“I love you, mom.“

Lena shook her head again in disbelief when she stepped back, looking at the movers boxing up more and more things.
She was moving, apparently.
------------------------------------------

Lena had a session with Kelly Olson on Sunday to prepare for her trip to visit Ruby after she had spent most of the weekend at the hospital with Kara.

She had told Kelly about the move and about how her relationship with her mother had improved so much and Lena could tell that the news pleased her therapist.
A great support system was the key to success, Kelly had told her that from the start and for the first time in years Lena felt she truly had that.

Only this morning Jack had sent a text to let her know that he wanted to meet up as soon as he would come back from his business trip to Norway and Lena was over the moon. She was also a bit anxious because she was paranoid after what had happened with Sam.
Jack had called as soon he had heard it on the news and they had been in contact ever since. He checked at least twice a day, even if it was just a short text or a silly meme, and Lena loved him for it.

What he didn't know about yet was Kara and her feelings for the woman who had saved her life so bravely.
Lena hoped that Jack would take it well.

“Are you ready to see Ruby tomorrow?“ Kelly wanted to know, causing Lena to look down at her fidgeting hands, “I don't know. I'm not sure I will ever be ready...not really. But...I want to see her.“

“Okay,“ Kelly smiled.

“A part of me feels guilty,“ Lena admitted, “Not just about what happened to Sam. It's...I don't know how to explain.“

“Take your time,“ Sam encouraged.

“Do you think I should try to...to get custody of Ruby? I mean...I don't even know why Sam made me her godmother. Other than I'm loaded, obviously,“ Lena chuckled bitterly, “But seeing as she hated me so much.“

Kelly tilted her head, curious, “Do you want to raise Ruby?“

Lena shrugged, “No. Not really. But I feel I might owe it to Ruby. I do love that kid, really, I do. I just never saw myself as a mother.“
She had talked to Kara about it yesterday afternoon, and had confided that she thought she was a bad person for it but Kara had understood. She had assured Lena that she would support her, no matter what, but that she got it. That she had always seen herself more as a cool aunt than an actual mom.

“I want what's best for Ruby though. It's what she deserves,“ Lena mumbled and dropped her head even further.

“Lena, listen,“ Kelly waited until Lena looked at her, “Not wanting to have children doesn't make you a bad person. And Ruby deserves that. Someone who is onehundred percent into having a child. But just because you aren't that person doesn't mean you don't care.“

“Do you think...if...I mean...once Ruby goes into a real foster home or gets adopted...that I can still see her sometimes? If Ruby wants that, that is,“ Lena wasn't even sure. Maybe Ruby did hate her after all.

Kelly nodded in understanding, “I can't make any promises. That's something the woman working Ruby's case has to decide. And the family she ends up with. But it's possible.“
----------------------------------------------------------------

Lena hadn't slept all night, her mind too wired to find rest.
She had ended up writing a couple of paragraphs though, much to her own surprise.

By the time Maggie picked her up in the morning she felt like throwing up despite the fact that she had skipped breakfast because her anxiety was through the roof.

Kelly was already there as well and together they made the drive to the outskirts of town.
Maggie had tried to make conversation in the beginning but when Lena hadn't reacted to anything she had said Maggie had fallen silent as well.

The tension grew with every mile they drove, Lena being caught in a place between excitement and absolute horror, but as soon as the house came into view and she saw Ruby sitting on the frontsteps, seemingly waiting for them, Lena threw caution to the wind and jumped out of the car as soon as Maggie stopped the engine.

The girl came down the stairs in a mad dash, throwing herself at Lena, who bent down to hug her as close as she could manage.

“Aunt Lena, you came!“

Tears were streaming down Lena's face as she looked Ruby over, “Hello darling, are you alright?“

The girl nodded, “Mom went to heaven.“

“I know, sweety. And I'm sorry,“ Lena wiped at her cheeks, trying to stop the tears from falling because she wanted to be strong for Ruby, “I'm so sorry.“

“Are you okay?“ Ruby asked innocently, “Maggie said you were sick.“

“All better now, don't you worry,“ Lena assured, “Is there anything you need?“

The little girl shook her head, “I miss my mom. Do you miss her too?“

Lena gulped before she croaked out a hoarse “I do.“
It was in that moment that Lena realized that she did miss Sam. Not the psychotic Sam who had caused so much terror but the woman she had considered her best friend.

“Let's go inside, shall we?“ Kelly suggested and pointed toward the house.
------------------------------------------

Her visit with Ruby had been overwhelming and emotionally exhausting but by the time they had left Lena had promised to come back to see the girl soon. She had also told Ruby's temporary foster mom that she should reach out in case they needed anything, anything at all.

By the time she made it to Kara she was ready to keel over and Kara must have realized it too because she simply held her uninjured arm out in an invitation for a hug that Lena took all too willingly.

Maggie stood in the doorframe, observing the scene, but Lena didn't mind.
She felt Kara pressing a kiss to her temple and Lena's heart instantly skipped a beat. It was the first real gesture of affection since Kara had woken up other then holding hands and Lena reveled in it.

Maggie clearing her throat had Lena sit down on the chair next to Kara's bed and she turned to look at the detective.

“Alex and I were wondering if you would have time for breakfast tomorrow,“ Maggie stated somewhat nervously and Lena instantly tensed but she nodded anyway, “Yes. Yes, of course.“

Maggie gave her a reassuring smile, “Great. Because there is something we wanted to talk to you about.“

Lena couldn't help but notice that Maggie seemed a bit nervous.
Odd.

“Okay, great“ Maggie clapped her hands together, “I better head back to the station.“

As soon as Maggie was out the door Lena looked at Kara expectantly but Kara only shrugged, “Don't ask me. I have absolutely no idea what's going on. And now tell me...how is Ruby?“

Lena could see the guilt in Kara's eyes and it chilled her to the bone.
Kara had taken the shot in self-defense, to protect her, but of course – Sam had died at Kara's hand and while Lena knew that it skipped her mind at times that Kara was struggling with what happened too.
She mentally chastised herself for being so ignorant and vowed to pay more attention in the future. Maybe Kara should talk to Kelly too once she was out of the hospital.

 

“She's sad, obviously. She misses S...her mom,“ Lena swallowed hard, unable to say the name all of a sudden, “But she's hanging in there. She was really happy to see me. It wasn't as weird as I feared it would be...to be around her. I'm just scared that she will find out what happened...one day. And that she'll blame me. Or worse.“

Kara reached out and interlaced their fingers, “Lena, it's not your fault. Her mom was. I wouldn't say crazy but she had mental issues.“
The I shot her hanging in the air between them again.

“It's not your fault either,“ Lena countered, “You had no choice.“

“Doesnt' mean I can't feel sorry for how it ended,“ Kara replied, “I know you are struggling, Lena. But it's okay for you to grieve her.“

“She killed Veronica,“ Lena shot back, “She almost killed you!“

“Lena,“ Kara squeezed her hand gently, “It doesn't change the fact that she was your friend. Or at least you believed her to be your friend. It's what's been real for you for many years. And you are allowed to mourn that loss, no matter what Sam did. I won't care about you any less if you do.“

Lena didn't know what to say to that. She had to close her eyes anyway to swallow the tears that threatened to fall again because she was sick and tired of all the crying.
She had cried so much during the last couple of weeks that sometimes she thought she should be dehydrated by now.

Once Lena clamed down she finally filled Kara in on her mother's scheming in regards to the penthouse and Kara chuckled, “Go, figures. Normal people buy their kids dinner or something. Your mother buys you a penthouse.“

“I know, right?! First I thought she had suffered a stroke and then I wondered whether I had suffered one when she told me,“ Lena laughed before she grew somber, “It's nice though. To have her in my corner.“
--------------------------------------

It was Lucy who showed up to drive Lena home in the afternoon while Alex and Eliza visited Kara, much to Lena's surprise.
Sneaking her out of the hospital garage was a tricky affair to this day although the reporters had disappeared once Maggie had told them that Lena was no longer a patient.

Countless media outlets had tried to contact her but Lena hadn't given a single interview so far and she had no desire to change that anytime soon.
There was nothing she could say anyway.
The truth was out of the question because of Ruby. There was a lot of speculation but somehow the police had managed to keep most of it under wraps so far.

Lena had expected Lucy to say something, anything really, during the drive, but not a word had been uttered until they stop in front of the building that housed Lena's new home.

“You're good for her,“ Lucy said as she looked at Lena, “I wasn't sure if this was a good idea in the beginning but I get it now. It's the real deal, isn't it?“

Lena held her gaze and nodded, “I'd like to think so.“

“Kara and I...“

“I know, Lucy. She told me,“ Lena replied, slightly uncomfortable. She knew that Kara and Lucy had history and it was fine. Everyone had.
It didn't mean that she wasn't a bit, well, jealous really.

“There's absolutely nothing to worry about, you know that, right?“ Lucy's expression was sincere, “I love Kara and I'll hunt you to the end of the earth if you hurt her but romantically...there's nothing to worry about.“

Lena nodded in understanding.

“I'm glad Kara and I managed to stay friends because she's amazing. I remember when I first told her that Leslie and I were a thing...she laughed straight in my face. I admit the idea was a bit absurd, even to me. But as soon as Kara realized that it was serious she was so, so happy for me. And not the fake happy. There was no pretend. She's such a geniune person and she always wants the best for everyone,“ Lucy explained, “And we want that for her too. You should hear her talk about you...and it's got nothing to do with your looks although...you are smoking hot...I have to admit that. Just don't tell Leslie.“

Lena blushed but chuckled and Lucy chimed in immediately, “Either way. Kara is so enarmoured with you. With how you see the world. She's miserable because of her injuries but she's still so happy because she has you...it's nice to know that she has that special someone in her life. She deserves it and from what I hear...so do you.“

“Thank you, Lucy. It means a lot.“

Lucy nodded and escorted her to the elevator and all the way up to her new penthouse where Lucy's jaw dropped, “Holy hell. If Danvers doesn't marry you...I will.“

They both laughed again and Lena offered to show you around despite the fact that she hadn't been to the penthouse before either.
It was even more beautiful now that she stood in it than it had looked in the exposé and the view was, it was breathtaking really.
-----------------------------------------

Her mother had told her over dinner that she had to go to New York for a business trip in a couple of days but that she would come back afterwards in case Lena wanted her to and Lena had been thrilled at the prospect.

Worn out from the day she had fallen asleep as soon as her head had hit the pillow of her new bed and while she had woken up twice Lena had slept somewhat peacefully.
She was no fool though and she knew that healing would take a lot more time but Lena could feel it - she was getting better after all.
--------------------------------------

She panicked as soon as she woke up before she had forgotten to tell her mother that they were expecting guests for breakfast but as soon as she stumbled into the kitchen she was greeted by Krypto who was sitting next to his personalized food bowl, a purchase her mother must have made recently, and Lillian who was wizzing around in the kitchen, preparing breakfast.

The table was set for six people and Lena's eyes grew wide.
Six?

She looked down at her pajamas and dashed off into the bathroom before her mother even noticed her because no matter how many people would show up, she had to get dressed first.

When she appeared in the kitchen again about twenty minutes later Lillian was plating food and Lena was about to ask what was going on when the bell chimed.
She watched Lillian walk over to the elevator where the control panel for the security system was located, observed how her mother checked the security camera before she pushed the buttons to grant their visiors access to the elevator.

Her mother had shown her how to do it last night but Lena wasn't sure if she would have remembered it correctly. She definitely had to try that out again when they didn't expect anyone.

“Lena, be a dear and greet our visitors. I need to finish the food,“ Lillian stated and smiled at her, “Also, good morning.“

When the ding of the elevator announced the arrival of their guests Lena stood a little straighter, unsure what to expect.
As soon as the doors opened she gasped in surprise and disbelief though.

There were Alex, Maggie, Eliza.
And Kara.
What was going on?

Everyone filled into the penthouse except for Kara who stopped right in front of Lena, “Surprise?“

Krypto was barking like a manic, by Kara's side like the flash, even on three legs, and she bent a little to pat his head lovingly.
The dog was ecstatic.

“What...what are you doing here? You should be in hospital!“ Lena hugged Kara to her chest, careful not to hurt her injured shoulder but Kara's left hand was in a sling-like brace anyway to keep her arm and shoulder still.

“They made me swear not to do anything other than sitting on the couch or in bed all day but I'm here...if that's okay?“ Kara said once she stepped out of the embrace and Lena felt this incredible warmth in her chest at the idea of Kara being here.
Being home.

“Of course. God, I'm...you have no idea how happy I am,“ Lena rasped out and Kara smiled at her, her blue eyes sparkling, “Me too.“

When everyone was seated Lena looked at her mother, “Why didn't you tell me?“

“Because we thought it would be a nice surprise after everything you've been through,“ her mother replied, squeezing her shoulder, “It was time something good happened, wasn't it?“

Lena nodded dumbly.

“Before we start eating...there is something we'd like to discuss real quick,“ Alex announced, “Maggie and I...we have considered having a family for a while. We were approved for adoption a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to let you know that we are considering adopting Ruby. In case it's fine with you, Lena.“

Everyone looked at them, clearly surprised, and Lena felt the tears welling in her her eyes, “I...sure. I...“

“We know it's not easy for you,“ Maggie said, “And if you think you can't deal with it then we'll make sure she finds a great home and there's always kids in need. But Kelly told me that you wanted to stay in touch with Ruby's new family and we thought...maybe this would be a good solution for everyone?“

Lena nodded, “It's...perfect.“
And it was.
She hadn't been sure in the beginning but ever since she had visited Ruby she had known that the girl would always have a place in her heart and life.
Alex and Maggie adopting her would be a great way for all of them to be together in a way.

“We know it's a delicate situation because of everything that happened,“ Alex added and looked at her sister, “We talked about it with Ruby's social worker at length and Kelly offered her assistance because one day we'll have to tell Ruby some of what has happened. You all know that the truth has a tendency to come out at some point and it will be better if she hears it from us...then we can help her deal with everything. She'll have all the support she needs.“

Kara nodded, “I think that's...it's a good idea.“

Eliza smiled at her children, her expression filled with nothing but joy, “I am so proud of you. Of all of you.“
------------------------------------------------

Breakfast had been a joyous affair.
Alex and Maggie had left around noon but Eliza had stuck around to explain to Lena what she had to do in regards to bandage changes, what pills Kara had to take and when. And she had also explained to Lena what to look out for to ensure that Kara's condition wouldn't suddenly get worse.

Lena had listened with rapt attention while Lillian had cleaned the kitchen and once Eliza was done with instructions she said her goodbyes as well.

A business call had her mother disappear in the guestroom a couple of minutes later and Lena and Kara found themselves alone at last.

Kara was standing at the window front in the living room, taking in the sight, and Lena felt like bursting with happiness.

“I can't believe you're hear,“ Lena rasped out, overcome with emotion, as she appeared next to Kara who nodded, “We were damn lucky that night.“

“Yeah,“ Lena stepped into Kara's embrace as soon as Kara lifted her hand, “I know Sam meant for me to hurt and die. She hurt me alright. She hurt you even worse. And Veronica...but...I don't know if we would have ever met had it not been for her. So, in a way...I owe her that.“

“Life does write the craziest stories for sure,“ Kara hummed, “It's been a hell of a ride ever since I met you, I give you that. But we're still here.“

“That we are,“ Lena snuggled a little closer and looked up at Kara who beamed at her.
And then Kara finally leaned down and kissed her to seal their “deal“.

They had been through hell and the road to recovery was long and rocky but neither of them would have to walk it alone.
They would do it together.