Lena looked up from Peter Rabbit at her wife standing in the doorway smiling at her. She was dressed as Kara with her hair down and a blue dress shirt that was straining slightly to contain her muscles. Lena found herself instantly smiling back.
“Keep going you were about to get to the part where he sneaks past Mr McGregor,” Kara said.
Lena’s smile grew.
“Enjoying story time were you?”
Kara smiled and nodded.
“Not as much as Lori is apparently,” she said walking closer and smiling at Lori who was half asleep in Lena’s arms. “She didn’t even finish her bottle.”
Kara looked over at the half full bottle on the bedside table.
“No, I think she just wants to be held while you’re gone,” Lena said smiling down at her daughter. “I gave it to her but she wasn’t really drinking and then when I took it away I decided to try story time and she seemed happy with that. Though she’s been most insistent on having me hold her.”
Kara sighed and pressed a kiss to Lori’s head.
“So she keeps crying until someone feeds her because one of her parents is gone and she wants attention?”
Lena gave her a smile and then a small nod.
“It would seem so.”
Kara looked thoroughly unimpressed. She stood there for a moment seemingly struggling to come up with something to say.
“She-” Kara waved a hand around as though that might explain whatever she was trying to say. “She is going to be the worst when she’s a teenager.”
Lena laughed and nodded. Kara slid into bed beside Lena.
“She is definitely going to be a nightmare,” Lena agreed.
“I’m going to get grey hair from her. I just know it,” Kara said moving closer and putting an arm around Lena.
“Oh yes, and you’ll be horrified by every grey strand you find,” Lena said turning to press an affectionate kiss to her cheek.
“And you won’t be?” Kara asked a smile coming over her face as she looked at Lena.
“Oh I will, but I’m just going to roll with it and claim it makes me look dignified like my father did.”
Kara smiled and pulled Lena closer resting her head on Lena’s shoulder as they both looked down at their daughter still happy in her mother’s arms.
“What were you like as a teenager?” Kara asked.
“Before or after I became friends with Andrea?” Lena asked a hint of laughter in her voice.
“Quiet and well behaved.”
“Lillian started dyeing her hair that summer.”
Kara laughed loudly then quickly quietened as Lori made a noise of protest before snuggling closer to Lena. Her mothers sighed softly looking down at her. Kara pressed a gentle kiss to Lori’s hand and smiled at the tiny glare that followed.
“Christmas is getting closer,” Kara whispered. “Did you want to set up a tree together or would you rather get-”
“Yes,” Lena said.
Kara looked up and saw Lena smiling at her.
“Let’s pick an evening and we can put up the tree together, as a family. I’m sure Lori would love all the shiny baubles and…” Lena bit her lip. “I haven’t decorated a tree since the last Christmas I had with my mother so…”
Kara smiled and kissed her.
“I’ll lift you up so you can put the star on the top of the tree.”
Lena beamed at her and then sighed resting her head on Kara’s shoulder.
They put the tree up that weekend. Kara quickly finding out just how seriously Lena took the whole process. She had somehow found the time to create a full design spread that she was following exactly and was infuriated to discover Kara had been intending for them to have a real tree.
A discovery which led to what Kara would years later describe as the most ridiculous fight they would ever engage in as Lena vehemently insisted they couldn’t have a real tree as they were toxic if ingested. Kara pointed out that no one in their house was going to eat the tree. To which Lena immediately pointed out Lori was expected to start crawling in a few months.
Kara seeing her exceedingly stubborn wife digging in her heels gave up with an exasperated sigh. Lena had the tree made by Kelex so the measurements would be “exact”. Kara then dutifully collected it from the fortress even as she rolled her eyes at the excess of it all. But Lena’s smile upon seeing the eight foot tall crystal tree standing ready in their living room made all Kara’s previous exasperation vanish.
Kara felt her heart swell in her chest as she looked at her wife and daughter both staring at the giant sparkling structure in their living room with wide bright eyes and excited expressions. Then Lena handed Lori to her pulling out a measuring tape and Kara had a feeling some of the magic of Christmas was about to disappear to Lena’s design plan.
Her suggestion that they decorate it by eye and go with the flow got her a kiss, a small smile, and a copy of the design plans followed by instructions to do the top half. Kara managed to follow the plans for approximately thirty seconds before placing a single blue bauble just slightly to the left so it was in line with another blue one. An action that was somehow noticed by Lena and earned her a gentle tap and a gesture to the plans.
Lori was having a great time reaching for the shiny baubles above her head as Kara kept ruining Lena’s carefully planned symmetrical vision with small bursts of superspeed shifting every third or fifth bauble just slightly to the left and completely throwing out the carefully made design. Eventually Lena got fed up and in a fit of annoyance tied Kara up with tinsel and threatened to add the lights if she moved any more of her baubles.
Kara pouted but for once it didn’t work as Lena just handed her Lori and a bottle so she could feed her as Lena completed her vision. Kara nervously watching the almost maniacal gleam in Lena’s eye as she continued her project.
Lena stepped back and smiled satisfied with her work a half hour later. Kara had to admit it looked beautiful. The decorations all perfectly aligned in a strange zig zag pattern. Then Lena took out her phone and a moment later the branches shifted and a new shape was formed by the colours and Kara’s jaw dropped watching as a snowflake design appeared then disappeared to be replaced by a different one.
Lena looked back at her seeming very smug. Kara was speechless as she watched everything move yet again.
“You know if you’d told me it would do that I would have followed your plan exactly,” Kara said.
Lena turned to her with a smile.
“But I wanted to surprise you,” Lena said smiling as she walked over to her still decoratively tied up wife.
Kara smiled at her and then groaned seeing Lena holding up her phone to take a picture of her. Kara sighed.
“Are you posting that?”
“No darling,” Lena said smiling at her. “I’m sending it to Alex.”
Kara glared as the camera clicked. Ten seconds later her superhearing picked up Alex’s laughter quickly followed by Maggie’s.
On Christmas Eve they both dressed in several layers, wrapped a wriggling Lori tightly in a blanket and put her in a respirator before heading out in a discreet car with Pinky and Singer. They arrived at the meeting location thee blocks from their destination quietly joining their friends and family before following the crowd of people making their way in for mass out the front of the partially bombed cathedral.
A few people recognised them but no one said or did anything more than smile as they stood in the crowd subtly surrounded by their family and security team. Alex and Maggie were standing beside Kara with a hymn book quietly muttering about which ones they knew and didn’t. Andrea, Sam and Ruby were having a debate about whether Ruby should get a car for her sixteenth. Andrea and Ruby firmly on the side of yes and Sam on the side of no.
Kara smiled as she heard Andrea arguing she could buy one for Ruby and Sam couldn’t stop her so she may as well be involved, prompting Ruby to hug Andrea and Sam to sigh in exasperation. Jack and Jess were trying to name all the scenes in the stained glass windows and ended up dragging Maggie in as well as they debated whether one was of the virgin Mary or not. Winn, James, and Kelly were playing spot the celebrity as more people joined the crowd. Eliza and J’onn were discussing how the cathedral had changed over the decades.
Lena beside her was focused on Lori who had recently discovered a new game of trying to steal her mother’s jewellery and was determined to play it whenever the opportunity presented itself. James came to Lena’s rescue carefully extracting the gold chain from Lori’s fingers and dropped the pendant down the back of Lena’s shirt where Lori couldn’t reach it. Kara found herself smiling as she listened to her family and friends and then those around them waiting for the service to begin.
The archbishop started with a short prayer giving thanks for the people of the city then spoke quite eloquently about how the coming together of so many over the last year truly showed the importance of community and faith.
Lori had begun to make a few small noises apparently unhappy to be in a respirator and out in the middle of the night in the cold, but then the first hymn begun and she fell instantly still as she watched her mother’s sing along with the rest of the congregation. Kara looked at Lena seeing her singing with a smile on her face as she read from James’ hymn sheet gently rocking Lori in her arms.
Kara let her gaze roam around the other attendees and smiled seeing the mix. Young and old, students and professionals, families and people alone. There was at least a dozen visibly alien people present and no less than five others in a respirators like Lori. Parents were holding sleepy children over shoulders and more than one stranger was sharing a hymn sheet with a stranger next to them. She felt a sense of peace settle somewhere inside her as she sung along with everyone else letting herself just be in the moment with her family.
Kara’s eyes landed on a small boy of about four in his mother’s arms who was staring at her slack jawed. Kara gave him a small smile before turning back to look at Lena. She heard the boy whispering to his mother who hushed him gently. As the song continued she heard the boy’s increasing whispers and his mother’s gentle instruction to be quiet.
As the hymn fell away the archbishop stepped up to begin speaking again when the boy suddenly raised his voice the words filling the momentary silence.
“But Mum it’s Supergirl!”
Almost as one the entire congregation glanced towards them then the adults all politely looked away. Alex and Maggie started snickering.
“Can’t take you two anywhere,” Andrea muttered causing the rest of their family and friends to start muffling their laughter as the mother gave them an apologetic look before looking at her son who was pointing directly at them.
“Well the archbishop is also here,” she said gesturing. “He’s also famous and you didn’t care about him.”
“The archbishop can’t fly!” the boy protested looking at his mother seemingly horrified that the archbishop could be considered in any comparison to a superhero.
Everyone gave up and the crowd burst into laughter as the archbishop smiled and spread his hands in a he’s got a point gesture. Lori begun to wriggle again and looked around trying to locate all the noise.
The moment the first noise of proper displeasure left Lori’s mouth the Superfriends all looked at her worried.
“Uh, if we could move on with the service,” Winn said subtly shifting away from Lori as Lena adjusted Lori’s now grumpily squirming form.
Kara rolled her eyes at his nervousness. Then she saw Lori wave a little fist a second cry coming from her loud enough that the archbishop blinked in surprise.
“Uh if we could have the next hymn,” J’onn said motioning hurriedly at the archbishop who immediately turned with a quick wave of his hand towards the choir director.
“The next hymn is Joy to the world,” the archbishop said quickly.
He motioned the band who quickly started playing as the choir scrambled to start singing as another cry came from Lori which prompted their security to all put in their earplugs just in case.
The people around them all quickly scrambled to check the hymn sheets as the choir began singing and then the people were. Lori instantly fell silent. They all breathed a sigh of relief as she immediately settled once more content in Lena’s arms. Lena looked at Kara as they sung along both smiling between exasperated looks at their daughter.
Kara’s smile grew as she heard the smothered laughter of people around them commenting on the situation. Lori pacified by the music fell asleep and the service continued undisturbed until she woke up at the very end and the worried looking archbishop sped his blessing up a little so they could do the final hymn of Silent Night.
Kara and Lena stayed back to give their apologies, which were quickly waved off by the smiling archbishop. They were then given his personal thanks for attending with a little extra blessing and a final hope to see them next year.
They said goodbye and Merry Christmas to their family and friends before they got back in the car and returned home. Lena smiled taking Lori as they stepped inside. She watched Kara take three steps into the living room then stop seeing what had been wrapped in a large red bow and subtly placed under the tree.
Kara was practically vibrating with excitement as she carefully picked up the small white puppy turning to look at Lena with a giant grin.
“Merry Christmas Zrhemin,” Lena said with a smile.
Kara sped over to her and kissed her. Lena kissed her back with a smile one hand coming up to hold Kara’s face. Then they heard a happy laugh from their daughter and looked down to see her reaching for the puppy. Kara moved the puppy closer and they smiled watching Lori’s smile grow as the puppy sniffed her hands his tail wagging happily. He licked her hands and Kara pulled him back.
“No Krypto,” she said shaking her head at the puppy. “No licking the baby.”
Krypto looked at her seeming confused for a moment then licked Kara’s face instead.
As the weeks slipped by and the situation begun to stabilise Kara worried about the various partnerships that had been formed slipping away as memories faded. Instead they strengthened. Agreements were solidified and long term plans made. Technology was adapted for other purposes to bring in new connections.
A video of someone cutting open one of the respirators and sprinkling the lead dust out caused a sudden wave of concern about the possibility of the respirators slowly removing the lead from the atmosphere and thus risking the return of the Daxamites.
Lena had to spend a particularly stressful week explaining that most of that was actually other particles as the respirators were multi purpose and that even if they did it would be easy to simply put it back using the same method. Things calmed down but now Lena had a new concern. Kara watched as she and Jack went over various options night after night talking with other experts and connections around the world trying to come up with a solution. Not to mention needing to try and reverse whatever damage had been done in the early stages.
There was a count made of all those confirmed to be affected and then the counters were linked. Beneath each was written the agreement the various groups had all made Not one left.
It was Eliza who came up with their next step. Jack and Lena were talking about possible treatments and alternate therapies for those affected which apparently prompted a memory. Eliza suggested they do something similar to what she had done when treating Mon-el for the Medusa virus. Instead of creating a treatment they instead create a cure for the poisoning itself. She shared her work on Medusa and suddenly things started moving at speed again.
The Medusa virus information was shared among those partnered with the newly expanded Luthor Foundation and they all set to work. It took months but they made a prototype serum. It wasn’t perfect but it showed a lot of promise.
They ran the tests. Double and triple checking everything before human trials. It worked on most of the humans and about sixty percent of the aliens with minimal side effects. But importantly for Kara and Lena it didn’t work on Lori. As a Daxamite and Kryptonian her body was just too different. There were others of course who it provided no help to. Some had a bad reaction to the early treatment and others just had such wildly different biology that it was useless for them. So new formulas were needed and they all got back to work improving it.
Kara continued her increasingly global role during the day and then at night came home to her family. Usually finding her wife at their kitchen table with Jack or Winn working on some new idea. Krypto sitting beside her watching his favourite person, Lori, who was usually in her mother’s arms.
Each new version of the serum was slightly more effective working on more people and aliens bringing the count down further and further until Lori was the last one.
Looking at the counter as it ticked down to one Kara expected the momentum to slow, for more labs and groups to divert their energy back to other problems. But instead the opposite happened. Everyone refused to stop working on a cure. Wayne Tech, L Corp, Queen enterprises, Star labs; every single one of the Luthor Foundation partners. They all kept working.
A few conservative reporters dared ask why so much time and effort was being poured into a cure for one child. In response every lab team tapped their counter and the words underneath. Not one left. The count was still at one.
There was four more failed attempts at a serum each one heartbreaking in it’s way as they were all so close. It took a total nine months but then there was a small breakthrough.
Eliza received an email from one of the L Corp labs in India. They had some odd results with one sample that could be something, or could be nothing, but they don’t have access to the right equipment to check. Eliza did. She checked and rechecked the serum and then brought it to Lena.
Lena had Kelex run the tests five times to be sure. He said it was safe. Even still Lena was scared. Kara possibly more so. They had tested two of the previous four on Lori, one had given her an all over rash that lasted a week. The other had resulted in her having a painful lump around the injection site and three long days with earplugs in until it went away.
They talked with Alex, Eliza, Winn, and Jack. All of them gave their reassurances. They finally gave their consent and it was administered to Lori by Alex before she went to sleep. Kara and Lena wanted to give it time for any symptoms to show before they tested it the following morning. Kara, Lena, Alex, and Eliza stayed up all night watching over Lori with Krypto asleep in his usual spot by her crib.
When Lori woke in the morning she seemed completely normal if a little confused at the number of people still in her room. She had breakfast, smearing half of it on her face in an attempt to get as much in her mouth as she could, and they dressed her for the day. Kara’s hands were shaking too much to do up the buttons on her shirt so Alex helped.
The world was waiting. Everyone holding their breath hoping and praying they’d got it right this time.
Kara held Lori carefully in her arms prepared to rush her back inside if she showed any signs of poisoning as they opened the door. She carried her out of the house into the fresh air without a respirator for what felt like the first time. Everyone waited, silently praying as Lori took her first unfiltered breath in close to a year.
Nothing happened. Lori turned in Kara’s arms looking around then saw Krypto standing on the grass nearby wagging his tail as he looked up at her.
She pointed at Krypto with a smile and made a noise wriggling wanting to be put down. Kara slowly lowered her watching as her daughter crawled on the wet grass and stopped confused as she sat looking at her damp hands. Lena gripped Kara very tightly as they watched Lori stare at her hands. A tiny crinkle forming as she looked at the grass then her hands. She turned to them and held up her hands with a confused noise.
Lena choked out a laugh.
“Yes it’s wet,” she said. “There was rain last night.”
Lori frowned at her hands again then Krypto barked and ran close to her then away his tail wagging madly showing how excited he was at having his favourite human outside with him. Lori turned giggling and crawled after him. Kara and Lena slowly sank to the ground clinging to each other tears slowly rolling down their faces as they watched Lori playing on the wet grass with Krypto.
Alex slowly walked past them.
“Hey Lori,” she said smiling. “Can I check your lungs?”
Lori rolled over and let Alex press the stethoscope to her chest for a moment doing the big breaths as instructed. Krypto licked her face and she giggled then sneezed. They all tensed but she was fine grabbing at Krypto and laughing as he danced out of her reach. Alex turned to them with a smile and gave a thumbs up.
“All good,” she said.
Kara started openly crying as Alex took out her phone and made the call. It only took two words.
All around the world the counters clicked down to zero and thousands started cheering. Days later someone would put together a compilation of videos of people’s joyous reactions as the counters simultaneously clicked down and the world celebrated what would one day be called one of the greatest achievements of the century.
Kara kissed Lena holding her close as Lena kissed her back. She pulled back laughing softly.
“What?” Lena asked wiping her hand over Kara’s wet cheeks.
“The whole city just started a party,” Kara said.
Lena laughed then and clung to Kara tightly.
“I think this is what I’m going to do from now on,” Lena said.
“Yeah?” Kara asked.
Lena sniffed blinking back tears as she nodded.
“I’m going to keep it going, humans and aliens all around the world to take on things we think are impossible to fix,” Lena said looking back at their daughter. “I’m going to take the rest of the Luthor fortune and expand the foundation with it. Make a proper partnership to start fixing this planet. It’s not the only one we’ve got but it is our home and our children deserve better. All children should be able to breathe freely.”
They watched as Alex darted forwards and caught Lori right before she fell into the fish pond. Lena laughed watching Alex’s concerned expression as she turned Lori around sending her crawling back towards them.
“And swim in clean water,” she added.
Kara laughed softly.
“So your next big project is tackling pollution?”
Lena nodded and turned to Kara with a smile.
“I guess so. If I can inoculate our daughter against lead in the air and reverse the damage it did to others then I can probably remove chemical pollutants from waterways and maybe even turn waste plastics into something to make transportation less of a problem. We do now have portals we can use instead of ships. They’re not safe for humans yet but I think they could do well for general cargo. If we build a few in key places around the world suddenly transport isn’t by ship for weeks or in the back of a plane but instead through a portal. Add in a special high speed rail to get the goods across continents at speed then we can start cutting down on transport pollution in a big way. It’s not an immediate solution but we should work on it and well… If this has taught us anything then it’s amazing what we can achieve when we work together.”
Kara held her closer.
“Have I told you lately how much I love that incredible brain of yours?”
Lena laughed and pulled Kara in for another kiss.
“And what about all the companies that are just gonna keep making a mess?” Kara asked.
“It took me five years to make L Corp 95% green. Cost a fortune and much of that was due to the power rings as generators but we won a lot of awards for it and others did start copying us. Granted we’re not the biggest and Lex had already started, one of the few good things he had done, but we weren’t the smallest either and a lot of our products were agriculture based. If I can accomplish that I think I can find ways to use the current momentum we have to create some greater global movement in the right direction.”
Kara grinned at her.
“So you’re going to expand the Luthor Foundation globally?”
Lena scrunched up her nose and shook her head.
“No, that’s a bit too… Luthor. It would need to be a partnership with a clear goal. Like this was. Pick one thing and fix it, then move onto the next.”
Kara laughed and kissed Lena’s hand smiling at her.
“So what are you going to call your new partnership?”
Lena turned to her and shrugged a shoulder.
“You’re the writer. What do you think I should call it?”
Kara thought for a moment scrunching up her face as she tried to think of something.
Lena laughed and kissed her cheek.
“That may be a little too on the nose. No I want something more…” Lena frowned thinking for a moment then she smiled almost shyly looking back at Kara. “I want it to really be something that exemplifies what I believe in.”
“And what’s that Zrhemin?” Kara asked softly.
Kara’s looked at her surprised. Lena smiling at her with a faint blush appearing on her cheeks and a racing heartbeat.
“Do you think the house of El would mind me using their motto?” Lena whispered.
Kara cupped Lena’s face with her hand looking directly into her eyes.
“You do remember as my wife you’re a member of the house of El,” she said gently. “Which means it’s yours too, and you can use it for whatever you want.”
Lena’s breath caught in her throat and fresh tears seemed to be about to fall from her eyes.
Alex made a surprised noise and they looked over alarmed then amazed as they watched Lori stand up on wobbly legs and take her first steps towards Krypto. She fell over with a loud squeal and Krypto barked jumping around her excitedly. Fresh tears rolled down their faces.
“I think our baby is walking,” Kara said.
“Yeah she is,” Lena whispered.
They watched Lori, having been stood up once more by an excited Alex, take a few cautious first steps towards a grinning Eliza with a smile on her face Krypto jumping around her excitedly as she made the four steps into Eliza's arms.
Lena turned and kissed Kara. Kara smiled kissing her back as she felt the warmth of Rao fill her heart once more. She was home. Here on this planet, with this star, and these people. Her wife in her arms and her daughter laughing nearby as music begun to play all around the city. This was home.
A small hand on her knee made them break apart. Lori was in front of them smiling as she dragged herself up again using Kara’s leg for support.
“Hey Inah,” Kara whispered tears filling her eyes as she looked at her daughter.
Lori made a happy noise smiling at them seeming rather proud of herself. She held out her hands and Lena picked her up covering Lori’s face with kisses. Kara smiled watching Lena turn Lori around to send her towards a grinning Alex waiting with hands outstretched. This was her family.