As with all things, Lex chooses himself. Lena doesn’t know the exact details, but knows that somehow, Lex and Nyxly talked and came to an agreement, and here they are. Here; being in one of National City’s parks, and all being, Lex and his goons, Nyxly, and the seven Superfriends, surrounded by civilians too stupid to run away and useless police officers.
It’s all very visual. Seven pillars with six Superhero’s bound to them, a giant glowing blue orb in the centre with an indistinct figure inside. Lena is cuffed over by an upturned SUV, collateral in a fight they had no chance of winning.
As always, there are reporters and cameras on the ground, a chopper circling overhead, and she’d try reason with Lex if she knew it’d d any good. She didn’t know what he was getting from Nyxly in exchange for his help in locating the Totem’s (and their bearers, which is coincidently the six vigilantes she called friends) and capturing them (not that Nyxly had any trouble with that) or even how he and Nyxly had met, and how Lex got his memories back. Though that could easily be explained away by that big old word called ‘magic.’
It was mind boggling, truly. And Lena spent time with people to whom physics was merely an idea to be looked at while they broke it. The laws of the universe didn’t apply to them, but there was a reason for it. Lena could rationalise Earth’s sun charging the cells of the Kryptonian and granting her power, and she could understand development giving a Martian great mental powers and strength. But she was still utterly confused when it came to magic. She understood that she didn’t understand anything, even though she’d read that bloody book (was it a grimoire? Is that what a book of spells was called?), and apparently had a ‘spark’ of it within her. It was all bloody nonsense. She believed in what she could see and touch and feel, but magic was beyond her…. Even if, in the deepest and darkest recesses of her mind, she could possibly admit that she might have maybe felt something when she caused that fire….. and was then promptly horrified by the fact that something she had done had hurt someone else. She hadn’t even thought about using her ‘spark’ since, and had shoved the entire experience into the deepest and darkest box she could find and slammed the lid. She’d added chains and a large lock for good measure. Lena Luthor wasn’t a witch. She didn’t have magic.
Nyxly and Mr Mxyzptlk did. And Nyxly had used it against the Superfriends.
She summoned, and they answered, and then they were trapped. It was all rather sudden, though Lex in his suit had made an appearance, which did imply he had his memories back which wasn’t good for anyone involved. His hatred for Super’s ran deep, and he’d enjoyed clashing with Supergirl above the park. Kara held her own for a long while, but when Nyxly grew tired of waiting and vanished the anti-Kryptonite measures Lena had added to the suit, it was all over. Kara plummeted to the ground and there was a Supergirl sized crater nearby.
Lena had been caught trying to help from the Tower, blue power curling around her like a rope and dragging her across the grass to lie at Lex’s feet.
She was pretty sure she’d broken a few fingers on his face and now she was cuffed and on her knees for it, forced to watch as Nxyly built her new All Stone, using Lena’s friends as sacrifices.
They didn’t need to die, of course. But Lex liked the symbolism of it, and Nyxly wanted people to hurt, and the Superfirends were an easy target.
Before each of them was a pedestal with the totem on it, glowing brightly with colour representing each one. The sacrifices glowed with the same colour as their totem. It was all very visually pleasing, and she might appreciate the symbolism of it if it didn’t mean her friends weren’t about to die, and Nyxly was about to be given ultimate power and Lex was, well, Lex would probably try stab Nyxly in the back and take the power for himself. It was a scary thought. But at least her brother didn’t want to destroy the world (rule it, but not destroy it. A king on a throne of rubble wasn’t much of a king). Or maybe he would set his gaze on the universe. It was a horrifying thought.
Did she warn Nyxly of the danger she was in? Or did she let her brother succeed? Either option was less than ideal, and her friends were probably going to die regardless, and it wasn’t like she could do much.
Without her technology she didn’t have anything, only her brain, and as she was currently cuffed and on her knees, her brain was a little useless.
Her brother was getting impatient, she could see it in the way he was pacing, visor up on his Lexo-suit (and showing the bruise she’d given him) and dangerous gleam to his eyes.
“We have them all here,” he said rather shortly and gestured to the pedestal of Totem’s. “Begin!”
Demand was clear in his voice but he shrank back every so slightly when Nyxly turned her unfathomably deep gaze on him, and she lifted her hand.
Inside the glowing orb, a familiar figure was restrained. Arms and legs pulled away from his body, Mxy was held, head hanging low, the picture of defeat.
“Is it working?”
Lex demanded after a few minutes of nothing happening.
Nyxly was focused on the orb, blue fire at her hand and reaching out to the crystal, but there hadn’t been any change since when she’d first lifted her hand.
She was hesitating. From the distance between them Lena could see the indecision and something struck her then as familiar.
“You can’t do it,” she whispered, almost to herself, but the Imp’s head snapped around regardless, so did Kara’s.
Sharp, fathomless eyes locked on her own and she might have quelled under their weight, but Lena was built of stronger stuff.
“I assure you,” Nyxly said haughtily, “I can.”
But…. Lena’s brain was firing and now she was wondering, glancing hurriedly between Nyxly and Mxy.
“Then why haven’t you?” She asked the space between them. The Imp’s brow twitched and then Lena understood.
“You can’t do it, can you? You can’t kill him.”
“Then do it,” Lena said suddenly, staggering to her feet, only for one of Lex’s goons to kick her at the back of her knees and she went down again, helped by a hand the size of a dustpan firmly on her shoulder.
She grimaced, grunting with the pain of it and Supergirl squirmed against her restraints, crying out for her.
“You have us here. You have the power. So do it.”
And maybe challenging a god to do what gods do wasn’t her best move, but she was out of options, and Nyxly was hesitating. Lena thought she knew why.
The woman met her eyes a long moment and Lena knew she was right.
“I understand,” she offered wryly and glanced quickly at Kara before looking back at the princess. She didn’t think her speech would work, and it wasn’t like Kara’s, hers was simply empathy. “I know what you are going through.”
“How could you-“ Nyxly began and Lex interrupted.
“Don’t listen to her,” he said warningly and glared over Lena’s head at someone. She figured she had to talk quickly.
“You let him in. Against every instinct you had, you let him in.”
Lena’s head was wrenched back by her hair and she winced but quickly kept talking, hoping her words would at least postpone her gagging or maybe her death. She wasn’t sure why her head was being ripped back, but knew she wouldn’t like it.
“Wait,” Nyxly commanded. Lex’s goons might have obeyed but she didn’t give them the chance. Blue fire curled around Lena’s body and lifted her with ease, and she was bound across the grass to rest on her knees before the princes.
Lena took a steading breath, glanced once at Kara, and then gave Nyxly her full attention.
“You let him in, when you’ve let no one in. He talked to you like you mattered, like your thoughts and feelings mattered, he treated you like you were your own person instead of an extension of your family.”
Lex took a step forward, hand lifting and canon burning but Nyxly lifted her hand and he halted, though his glare was telling.
“He convinced you with every word, with every action that you mattered, that you were a good person and you could make something of yourself outside of what everyone thought you were. Mxy told you, you could be more than the daughter of a tyrant, and when you voiced your doubts and fears, he was there. Easing them. Waving them aside as though they didn’t matter, as though they were nothing, when they were everything.”
Lena swallowed and she knew that she was giving part of herself away now, part of her that she had kept hidden.
“He gave you the courage you needed to challenge your father. For once in your life, you had someone you thought was on your side. And then he wasn’t….” Lena’s voice caught, dragged back to that world shattering realisation with Lex dying in front of her but ruining her with his words.
“His betrayal broke you. It broke you like nothing else. And all that hope, all that love, burnt away into agony. You were afire with it,” Lena spat darkly, dragging her thoughts from her own memories.
“You could have set the world on fire with your rage. Against your better judgement you trusted him, you let him in, and he broke you.”
The words came hard and fast now. Against the pillar nearest them, standing behind a totem that looked like a stick, Kara’s expression was troubled, twisting into something pained.
“You wanted to hurt, see red bloom on your skin if only to give some form to the agony carving its way through your chest. To explain why you were hurting so badly.
Kara let out wounded sound, cut off quickly when Lena’s eyes darted over to her.
“You were in so much pain that it was all you could think about. No matter where you went, who you were with or what you did, it was there. Festering. You couldn’t escape it, because it was with you. Inside of you.”
Nyxly was quiet a long while. “So, you do understand,” she said and tilted her head. “You were betrayed?”
Lena gave a sharp nod. “By my best friend.”
“Lena,” Kara whimpered and her voice was loud enough to capture Nyxly’s attention.
Dark eyes spun to Supergirl, appraising. “It was you?” And then her gaze hardened. “It would seem, Kara Zor-El, that for someone who preaches hope and compassion, you are sorely lacking. Though those who parade themselves as good, rarely are.”
“Supergirl was the one to betray you,” Nyxly said turning back to Lena, and the blue flame-less fire around her relaxed.
It seemed that Nyxly had seen something in Lena, something she could relate to.
“Yes,” Lena said, and pushed herself to her feet. From her peripheral she saw Kara shaking her head quickly, trying to cast aside the implications of Lena’s words.
“I understand why you want him to hurt. I understand why you feel like you need power but-“
“But nothing,” Lex interrupted, and he leant in close to speak to Nyxly, but Lena had some connection with the Imp now, frail though it was, and she needed to keep at it.
“You have so much power,” Lena said and lifted her arm to gesture around her. “The best we had to throw at you wasn’t enough, will never be enough.”
Nyxly’s chin came up. “Only magic can fight magic.” And Lena’s blood ran cold. Well, that was just- no, focus. She gave herself a mental shake, ignoring that she potentially had magic and could maybe challenge the god in front of her.
“Mxy said that you were good- are good,” she corrected, seeing a tightening around Nyxly’s eyes. “That your vision for the future was bright and just and fair….and you have so much power… so why don’t you use it to help people instead?”
“You’re one to talk,” Lex sneered at her, clearly impatient. “Project Non nocere ring a bell?”
Lena gave him the stink eye, but she’d come to terms with what she had tried to do, how close she had come to turning into something she didn’t want to be. It had been pain that had driven her there, and a desire to see no one else in that kind of pain, but it was wrong. She was glad she’d been stopped.
“I was wrong. I was in pain. I wanted to take away that pain. I didn’t want anyone else to feel it, to cause it. I lost myself because I was drowning and no one cared, no one could reach me. It was all I could think about. All I could feel. “
“We are similar, you and I,” Nyxly said at length but Lena was already shaking her head.
“No?” The imp asked, seemingly bemused. “You wanted justice-“
“I wanted revenge,” Lena returned quickly, brow furrowed, and she closed her eyes.
She and Kara had yet to talk at length about their separation and their actions that lead up to and during it, they’d sort of just thrown themselves at each other and then hovered, just outside of each other’s personal space. Each desperate to be invited back in, to ease into what they were, but afraid of rejection, of taking that first step to offer it.
“I wanted her to hurt. I wanted her to understand the pain that I was in, that she put in me with her betrayal. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hurt her like she hurt me. Because that wasn’t who I am. Who I wanted to be.”
Lex rolled his eyes. “Oh, spare me!”
“Shut up,” Lena snarled at him. “The girls are speaking.”
“Your brother has told me about you,” Nyxly said and her gaze sharpened. “He says you killed him.”
Lena sneered at him. “In another life,” and she wasn’t ashamed of it. She would never be ashamed of it. “I shot him. To protect them,” she said and pointed over Nyxly’s shoulder to the group of Superfriends. “To protect all off-worlders, to protect everyone on earth.”
“The betrayed becomes the betrayer,” Lex told Nyxly sagely and Lena snarled.
“Fuck you. You tried to kill me-“
“And you succeeded! But at least I gave you a parting gift,” and his voice twisted into faux pleasantness.
“Don’t listen to a word he says,” Lena said to Nyxly, desperation entering her tone. She had delayed the inevitable so far, maybe she could push it back further. She needed more information and she needed her brother to stop poisoning the princess with his words. “Whatever he told you, is a lie. He uses people. He manipulates people. He stabs them in the back. He-“
“Comes to you as one person and treats you like a friend and then turns around and stabs you in the back?” Lex asked silkily and Lena’s jaw went tight.
“Justice awaits, Princess,” he said to the Imp and she turned away from Lena.
“You will have your justice, Lena Luthor. Kara Zor-El will die and we will both be free of our pain.”
“Killing them isn’t going to take your pain away! Nothing can!” Lena shouted and she was two steps forward before Lex backhanded her across the face and she stumbled back, reeling. Kara snarled something at him, eyes flaring red before she was recoiling with a shout.
Lena whipped the blood from her mouth with her thumb and glared past Lex’s triumphant smirk at the Imp.
“The betrayed will have justice, and the betrayer will be punished. I will give you this, for a fellow betrayed.” Her hand came up again, blue fire connecting her to the orb and Mxy lowered his head as the light grew brighter.
“We are nothing alike,” Lena hissed and Nyxly’s back tensed. “We were both in pain, and we both made bad decisions to rid ourselves of that pain, but the difference is, I wanted to end pain… you want others to hurt.”
Lena didn’t see the whip of magic until it was too late. Blue fire-less flame collided with her and sent her flying across the ground and she landed harshly. White light flared behind her eyes and her body erupted in agony and she lay dazed on the ground, trying to draw breath, clawing her way back to consciousness, fighting off that veil of black.
Her friends were shouting her name, none louder than Kara but Lena’s ears were roaring, and Nyxly’s voice was muffled, though somehow in her ear.
“I will have my vengeance,” the Imp said and then there was muffled shouting from the Superfriends. Lena couldn’t make it out. She was trying to control her breathing, trying to keep herself from falling into the icy rest of unconsciousness.
“No… don’t…” she rasped out, desperate to voice the words with no breath. She was aware of her body being dragged across the grass but it was agonising and she couldn’t focus. “Kill… her….”
Abruptly the pain lessened, and she inhaled gratefully.
“Why do you defend her? She betrayed you!” There was a hint to a whine in Nyxly’s voice and Lena lifted her head.
“They all did! They used and abused you, manipulated you to get the most ideal outcome. They hurt you. They wanted to kill you. And you still protect them! Why?!” Something in Nyxly’s tone reminded her of Ruby, back when she was a toddler and sometimes Sam brought her to work. Questioning the world and demanding answers, and not being satisfied with the adults around her until it was properly explained.
Lena forced a hand under her body, grateful the pain had faded, but she had a feeling that it wasn’t permanent.
“Because,” she rasped as she slowly rose to her feet. “They’re my friends. I love them.”
Nyxly stared at her, and stared and stared and stared, while Lena lifted her chin defiantly.
“Lena!” And it was Kara’s shout that caught her attention and she turned her gaze to her best friend.
Lena blinked and looked down at her body, raising her arms to stare at them as a ripple of red flickered across her skin.
Lex grinned, a slow and cruel twisting of his lips that Lena was painfully familiar with.
“Well,” he said with a sneer as the object on the totem for ‘Love’ glowed red, pulsing in time with the aura around Lena. “Looks like we found our last sacrifice.”