“I once adored her— that demands revenge.”
- A. J. Morrison et al.
It's barely 7AM and she hasn't even had her first cup of coffee when yet another man aims yet another gun at Lena's face.
A blast of self-immolating purple goo – the third since she'd arrived – torpedoes towards her unprotected head like a glittering lilac death sentence. She drops, rolls behind the nearest support column and covers her head as the wall behind her explodes into flames.
This particular one of Lex's hardcore goons doesn't look particularly inclined to go down without a fight, and Lena's rapidly running out of defences. In fact, the lapels of her blazer are already smoking. She swats at the pale indigo flames, tutting as another ceiling joist crashes to the floor behind her. This suit is many things – Balenciaga, for one, and an absolutely devastating cut over the curve of her ass for another – but flame-retardant it is not.
The goon yells another taunt, no doubt something calamitously witty and horrifically xenophobic, and Lena decides it might be time to cut her losses. She'll get him another day, come back with a fire extinguisher and a bigger gun.
She hears the tell-tale whir of his fiery purple goo blaster winding up for another shot and books it towards the wall of windows. The column she'd been hiding behind detonates upon impact, a violent violet inferno that singes the ends of her eyelashes. She has just enough time to register the goon's outraged yell and gracefully flip him the finger before she's crashing straight through the plate glass and out into the open air fifty stories above National City.
The rushing wind at least extinguishes the last of the flames as she plummets, smouldering, toward the concrete below. And then suddenly she's slowing, the contents of her stomach protesting loudly as her body gradually halts its descent, hovers, the begins to gently rise once more.
“I didn't ask you to catch me,” she manages to snap once her breath has caught up with her, pouting hard at the face attached to the strong arms now cradling her thighs and lower back. “I had it handled.”
“Oh, sure.” Kara, perfect, handsome, infuriating Kara is gazing at her innocently, nodding in angelic agreement.
Lena huffs. It pisses her off that Supergirl never has a hair out of place even when she's cracking through the sound barrier. It pisses her off that she's so damn considerate, floating downwards with Lena as she'd fallen, slowing their descent to avoid Lena crashing straight into the steel beams of her arms at full speed. It pisses her off that— well. Suffice to say, Kara pisses her off.
“You totally had it handled,” Kara says with mock sincerity. “I'm sure you've got a parachute stashed somewhere around here that you were just about to deploy.” Her hands palm Lena's body none too subtly, coasting over skin-tight material. “I'd be interested to know where exactly you've hidden it.”
Lena growls, wriggling forcefully enough that Kara has no choice but to stop her impromptu frisk or risk dropping her completely. “I said I had it handled.”
“Well, if you don't want my help, I'm happy to leave you to it.” Now hovering higher than the building Lena had leapt out of, Kara makes as if to release her.
Lena doesn't even flinch. It's an empty threat and they both know it. She quirks one unimpressed brow. “Well, all you've ever done is let me down,” she bites out. “No sense changing the habits of a lifetime now.”
Kara's jaw tightens, a muscle in her cheek flickering. A thrill of satisfaction zings through Lena's stomach.
“Where to, then?” Kara asks stonily, all trace of teasing gone.
Lena smirks. Another round won. “L-Corp,” she says beatifically, flicking purple-tinged ash from her blazer. “Though I must warn you, my office has proto-canons primed to fire automatically on any Kryptonian that hovers in its airspace for more than sixty seconds, so. Better make it a speedy drop-off.”
Kara gapes at her, momentarily frozen. “Seriously, Lena?”
“What?” she asks sweetly, making sure to flutter her eyelashes a few times. “You'd prefer if I didn't defend myself against a superpowered alien that lied to my face for four years? After you'd spent so long telling me to take better care of myself as well.” She sighs dramatically, lining up the fatal blow. “I suppose concern for my wellbeing was all just part of the deception, in the end.”
Kara's audibly grinding her teeth as they approach Lena's office, a biting retort brewing inside her like a gathering storm. “You're welcome,” she snaps as she deposits Lena on her balcony, already backing away from the railing. “You know, for saving your life.”
“Oh, thank you, Supergirl,” Lena calls theatrically to the rapidly retreating blonde, hand pressed over her heart. At least Kara has finally amassed enough good sense to take her threats as seriously as she intends them. “Thank you so much for saving my life. You know, after you ruined it.”
Now hovering a good few hundred metres away from the building, Kara groans loudly enough for it to still be audible, sending a frustrated burst of laser vision straight up through the clouds.
“Thanks so much for dropping by,” Lena calls, fluttering her fingers as she turns toward the balcony door. “Don't let the proto-canons hit you in the ass on your way out.”
She wraps her fingers around the handle, waiting for the faint hiss of the biometric lock. “Or do,” she mutters as she steps inside, knowing the words will be picked up easily by Kryptonian superhearing. “It's the least you deserve.”
She takes a seat at her desk as a great booming crack echoes across the city, then another, and another. A quick glance out the window at the cloud of red-tinted dust on the horizon confirms that, yes, Supergirl is punching some mountains into rubble again. That's got to be the fourth time this week. She smirks. A new record.
Bitter satisfaction smouldering in her veins, Lena settles in to begin her day.
Ostensibly, officially, she and Supergirl are on the same side.
True to form, her ass of a brother has left an absolutely enormous mess to clean up, and dismantling the legion of followers Lex had ingrained into every level of the city's bureaucracy is certainly more than a one-woman job. Supergirl and Lena Luthor have spent the two months since her brother's untimely death (by death she means murder; by untimely she means she should have done it years ago) tracking down and rooting out Lex's loyalists, from high-ranking government officials to entry-level Children of Liberty thugs. On paper – and in the papers – they're the city's crime-fighting dream team.
No one knows the truth.
No one but Kara and Lena and their respective siblings – one of whom is now very much dead – have any idea that Supergirl and the one remaining Luthor can scarcely stand to inhabit the same room. No one knows about the years of deception crowding between them, about the devastation of the eventual reveal. No one else heard the gurgle of blood in her brother's lungs as he told Lena the truth, a fatal secret for a lethal price.
No one knows of the endless fights between she and Kara. No one else had witnessed the tears, the screams, the sobs and the recriminations. No one else overheard the accusations of betrayal, the declarations of hatred, the pleas for forgiveness that went ungranted.
To the rest of the world, Lena is the lone atoning Luthor, and Supergirl her redeemer. And the only thing in the universe more potent than her fury at her ex-best friend is her drive to right the wrongs committed by her bloodline, so Lena lets them believe.
If that means she has to spend her days shoulder to shoulder with the woman who broke her heart, so be it. She's learning, at least, to have a little fun with it along the way.
The thing is, Kara isn't very good at being her enemy.
She gets flustered and grumpy and snaps back at Lena's incessant needling at times, red-faced and pouting up a storm. But when her temper cools and her fists unclench she's all anxious eyes and apologetic lips, working harder than ever to win back Lena's trust, her friendship, her forgiveness. To win back Lena.
And Lena, she doesn't want that. Kara's lies had cut her deeper than anything had since the death of her mother, the betrayal of her brother, and she's in no hurry to welcome her back with open arms.
In public, she's happy to maintain an alliance with the city's superpowered sweetheart. It is, after all, beneficial to the smouldering ruins of the Luthor name, and being on Supergirl's guest list grants her access to resources and opportunities she couldn't otherwise dream of.
But in private, she reiterates her wrath over and over again, pushing and pushing at Kara's fault lines until there can be no doubt that she means to shatter her as thoroughly as she herself had been shattered.
The problem is, Kara doesn't fight back. Outside of a few heat-of-the-moment jabs and grumbles she's just there, steadfast and hopeful and irritating beyond measure.
Lena doesn't want a friend. She doesn't want a saviour or a partner or a lapdog. She doesn't even want a punching bag, really. What she wants is an enemy. A nemesis, an adversary, a target for the rage and betrayal still scratching through her veins.
She wants to be able to lash out at Kara and not feel bad about it. To have her lash right back. It's the only way she can see to navigate this minefield of her splintered faith, to one day make it out the other side. To let the fires of her fury rage until they burn themselves out.
But even in this, Kara can't seem to help her out. Instead, her compounded guilt and regret and whatever other emotion lurks in the depths of those bright blue eyes has her bending to Lena's every whim even more enthusiastically than she had before everything they'd ever built had crumbled around them.
Kara, it seems, will do whatever she asks. She breaks into federal facilities to steal items Lena needs. She grants her unrestricted access to the Fortress of Solitude within the course of a single conversation, a feat her brother had failed to accomplish in a lifetime. She comes unfailingly when Lena calls, and plenty of times when she doesn’t. Snatches her out of mid-air, shields her from bullets, absorbs blows meant for her and many more besides.
Her dedication, her selfless malleability, it doesn't sit well with Lena's image of her ex-best friend. There wasn't, Lena is convinced, a single honest moment in their friendship. Kara never cared for her the way she'd professed to, or else she never would have hurt her so deeply. Kara never loved her, or she wouldn't have broken her heart.
And yet. Recent evidence, annoyingly, does not support this most fundamental belief of Lena's new mindset. Kara's willingness to show up unfailingly, to take the hits Lena rains on her and keep coming regardless, paints a somewhat different picture.
There must be, Lena reasons, some other motive at play here. Yet another elaborate deception she's failing to see, another way for Kara to worm inside and break her down, strip her bare and leave her reeling.
She'll be damned if she lets herself fall prey to that earnest charm again. Once was more than enough for one lifetime. So Lena will crack this. She will work with Kara and she will watch her and she will figure out what her play is, and then she will take her down.
And then, just maybe, she'll finally find some peace.
So the question becomes: what wouldn't Kara do for her? It's an interesting notion to puzzle, and an even more interesting theory to test.
It had begun as penance, Lena knows. Once she'd shown her hand, made it clear to the blonde that she knew all about her superpowered double life, Kara had come crawling to her over and over again. Literally, at times; the image of her best friend on her knees before her, heart-shattered and sobbing as she'd begged for forgiveness, is not one she's likely to forget.
But it's also not an image Lena can allow herself to trust. Not if she's to have any hope of guarding her heart against this woman who had, once already, cleaved it in two.
So Lena sat, stone-faced and silent, as Kara had cried her anguished apologies into the dark fabric of her designer suit. She'd arched a single, wordless brow at the blonde's vow to make it up to her, to prove herself as loyal and true as she'd always claimed to be.
And then, she'd sat back and watched her try.
She'd watched Kara as Supergirl give interview after interview that distanced Lena from her maniacal brother, that positioned her firmly on the side of the good guys. She'd watched those red and blue shoulders tighten in irritation as reporter after reporter dragged the Luthor name through the mud, airing the laundry list of sins committed by her bloodline in front of the whole damn world.
“Not the Luthors,” Supergirl had growled, over and over again. “Lex.”
She'd watched Kara receive a Pulitzer prize for her whistleblowing exposé on Lex, watched her use almost her entire acceptance speech to talk about Lena instead. And she'd watched her make – and, thus far, keep to – the promise to dedicate herself to rooting out Lex's loyalists, freeing the city from every last remnant of Luthor-sponsored extremism.
That's what they do, now. Kara has Catco, has the DEO and Alex and J’onn and Nia and Brainy and Kelly. Lena has L-Corp, and none of the above. And in and between their other responsibilities, Super and Luthor team up, day after day exacting a systematic takedown of every official in National City and beyond that exudes so much as a whiff of Lex-leaning sympathies.
It's no easy feat. Even with first-hand knowledge of exactly how deep, how all-encompassing Lex's manipulation can run, the sheer number of supporters her brother had managed to convert to his cause before his long overdue murder staggers her.
Lena manages to fell a large swathe of them in one swoop when she has the bright idea to freeze all her brother's accounts, stopping his substantial outpouring of bribes dead in its tracks. But a disconcerting number of his supporters remain, from state governors to White House janitors, and many of them seem less than inclined to go down without a fight.
It's hard work, exhausting and gratifying and dangerous in near equal measure. After the third time an overzealous Lex fanatic takes it upon themselves to visit Lena at her office armed with a baseball bat and a gun, Kara gives her a signal watch, tells her to use it whenever she needs her.
“I don't need you,” Lena spits, as though if she can only make the words drip with enough venom, they'll be poisoned by the truth.
Kara, damn her, doesn't even bother to answer. Just smooths her thumb beneath the fresh blood coagulating along Lena's left cheekbone with a wry arch of her brow.
So, whatever. She'll take the watch, and use it too. After everything Kara's done to her, all the pain she's caused, saving Lena's ass whenever she needs it really seems like the least she could do.
And, fuck, if Lena wants to use her stupid fucking signal watch adorned with her stupid fucking house crest and colours to call Kara and tell her to bring her a pizza when she's working late at the office, then she's more than entitled to that, too. She never does it, but it's a nice thought.
So. What wouldn't Kara do for her? If that line in the sand exists, Lena hasn't crossed it yet.
Kara flies her around the city, around the country, making frequent trips to DC with Lena in her arms so they can clap handcuffs on yet another scumbag on Lex's payroll. She pulls every DEO string she can for intel on Lex's supporters, borrows and barters and sometimes outright steals tech and weapons that will make their capture easier. She shows up unfailingly at all hours of the day and night, whenever Lena finds herself in a tight spot. Catches her when she leaps from bridges, balconies, cliffs.
Kara's just there, eager and earnest, whenever Lena needs her. The knowledge lodges itself like a splinter in the icy shell of her cold, unfeeling heart.
She likes to push it sometimes, prodding at that splinter until it smarts.
The day one of the top Children of Liberty thugs kidnaps her on her way home from spin class, bundling her into a helicopter and flying her a good fifty miles out over the middle of the Pacific, Lena doesn't even bother to press her signal watch until she's already been shoved out of the cockpit.
She's falling fast, the diamond-bright surface of the ocean rushing up to meet her, yet her fingers pressing at that goddamn crest are lazy, unhurried. And still, still, Kara appears between Lena and danger, wide-eyed and breathless and so warm against her in all the wrong places.
Kara's devotion, her malleable fervour is so incredible to Lena that she can't help but push it that little bit further. When their feet touch down on her office balcony once more, the hero all nervous eyes and wringing fingers at her back, Lena thinks, why not.
“Kara,” she says slowly, firmly. “Jump.”
And before she even has time to blink the Kryptonian is up and off the floor, hovering a good three feet above the balcony tiles as she stares at Lena with wide, expectant eyes.
Well, fuck. She hadn't even asked how high?
And that, that is why Lena pushes. Why she prods and keeps prodding at that splinter, just to see if it will split. The thing about it, the troubling, infuriating thing, is that it never does.
It's just another ordinary day taking down ordinary assholes of her brother's extremist persuasion, when something quite extraordinary happens instead.
She's in an abandoned warehouse somewhere out by the docks, because of course she is. Of course she's here, beneath cracking corrugated roofing and support beams more unstable than her personal life, breathing the salt and kerosene scented air as she faces down a handful of nasty looking thugs a solid five miles away from the nearest person who might hear her if she screamed. God forbid the outrageous outpouring of her brother's bribe money ever be used to secure more comfortable accommodation for these little showdowns.
The thugs – what would one call a group of meatheads, anyway? A pack? A flock? – circle her menacingly, yellowing teeth bared.
Lena sighs, mentally running through her schedule for the day. She's got a conference call with her Munich investors at ten and a meeting with her head of R&D at eleven, neither of which are particularly reschedulable. That leaves her with a scant ninety minutes to dispatch of this particular – gaggle? Gang? Pod? – and make it back to the office in time for a quick reapplication of lipstick.
Lena sucks her teeth. Piece of cake.
She hadn't told Kara about this particular clean up. She never does, until there's no other option. Calling for back up when everything goes tits up is one thing, but pre-warning? Joint planning? Collaboration? That all smacks a little too much of partnership for Lena's taste.
Besides, she may not possess the preternatural advantage of sun-given strength and speed, but Lena Luthor is no damsel in a tower. With a trip of her fingers over the modified signal watch at her wrist, a solid silver-green gauntlet materialises around her forearm with a satisfying click.
Her brother's Lexosuit had been horrifying, yes, but not without its uses. With a few weeks of delicate tinkering and an agenda orientated toward helping rather than destroying the planet, she's managed to convert it into an extremely effective goon-fighting machine.
The first of the – herd? Pride? School? – charges her suddenly, eyes narrowed and spittle flying. With an easy flick of her wrist Lena freezes him in place with a proton beam from her gauntlet, tossing him casually out of range like a ragdoll.
His compatriots shriek in outrage, and then three of them are on her at once, a whirlwind of fleshy biceps and booze-soaked breath. It's almost painfully easy to keep them at bay – a proton blast here, a well-timed left hook there – and with the space in her brain not required to fight these sentient beer bongs Lena finds herself surprised and a little disappointed by how simple the whole mess has become.
That is, until the one meathead of the meathead collective she hadn't been keeping an eye on rushes her from behind, catching her midway through subduing two of his pals. Lena's already turning, gauntlet primed, ready to dodge yet another liquor-loose predictable attack, when something collides with her kidney with the force of a steel beam.
Lena's breath chokes out of her, her vision blackening at the edges as she stumbles, gasping for air. The two she'd been subduing break free and join the third, the one with iron rods instead of bones, the one who's bare hands should not have been able to hit that hard, all three of them hemming her in.
Tasting blood and humming with pain and adrenaline, she tries to straighten. Tries to get her fingers on her gauntlet, on her signal watch. Tries to open her mouth to deliver yet another devastatingly witty rejoinder to buy herself some time.
No such luck.
The one with mallets for hands steps forward, swings, and with the inevitable crush of a comet striking the surface of the world his fist connects with Lena's temple, and she's gone.
The last thing she registers before the starburst of agony turns her world to quiet darkness is the gleam of hit jet-black eyes.
It's embarrassing is what it is, waking up in the DEO's med bay with Alex Danvers’ supercilious face gazing down at her.
"Morning, sunshine,” the redhead grins cheerily, seemingly enjoying Lena's loud groan and accompanying grimace far too much. In the current Super-Luthor spat, it's no secret whose side Alex has taken.
“I'm not dead, then,” Lena establishes wearily, pressing her fingertips gingerly to her throbbing temple and wincing at the sizeable lump making itself at home atop her cranium.
“And with your famed powers of expert deduction still intact,” Alex deadpans, flicking through a rapid-fire slideshow of scans and x-rays on her tablet.
“What's the damage?” she inquires, wincing at the deep ache pulling at her kidney as she swings her legs over the side of the gurney.
“Renal haematoma caused by blunt force trauma,” Alex reels off, bored. Her eyes flick to Lena's fingers, carefully cupping her side as she fights down a litany of curses. “Though I'm guessing you already knew about that.”
Lena narrows her eyes. Alex could at least pretend not to be having a good time right now. Bedside manner, and all that.
“And I don't think you have a concussion, though you are sporting a rather lovely watercolour of bruises,” the redhead continues, motioning Lena toward the mirror on her desk. Lena complies, then sighs. The right side of her face from the jaw up is covered by a swirling mass of blue-black contusions, her left cheekbone scraped red raw from where she'd hit the ground like a sack of bricks.
She turns away from the mirror to find Alex beaming at her beatifically. "Good thing purple's your colour, huh.”
Lena's face pinches into a too-sweet smile, nose wrinkling to grin fakely at her unsympathetic nurse.
“Keep an eye on that head trauma overnight,” Alex continues unaffected. “Otherwise, you're fine. I'd be less interested in which injuries you sustained, and more interested in how. The force of that punch would have shattered your skull if the angle had been a few degrees off.”
“It felt like getting hit by a concrete glove,” Lena sighs, too weary to fight her agreement.
Alex hums, a deep crinkle forming between her eyebrows. “No human should be able to hit that hard. Not without help.”
“He had help,” comes a voice from the doorway, a swirl of cool air tinged with the scent of rain and moondust announcing Kara's sudden presence. She's across the room in less than a heartbeat, warm fingertips tracing the smattering of bruising over Lena's temple as their owner sucks her teeth in a sympathetic wince.
Lena ducks sharply away, and Kara's hand hovers sadly in mid-air for a moment before dropping back to her side. Resigned, she turns back to face her sister.
"He had Harun-El.”
The rest of the story, Lena gleans in fits and starts from various inhabitants of the DEO.
Kara had arrived at the warehouse – without the invitation of Lena's finger on her signal watch, but with the apparent invitation of Lena's thundering heartbeat in her ears – to find Lena already crumpled unconscious on the ground. She'd fought off the four regular goons with ease, and the one remaining super turbo goon with somewhat less ease, aided as he was by the black Kryptonite swirling in his bloodstream.
After a lengthy tussle and the eventual deployment of a handy pair of power-dampening handcuffs the turbo goon had been deposited in a holding cell, and Lena had been deposited in a hospital bed.
Kara doesn't ask her why she hadn't called for help, and Lena doesn't thank her for providing it regardless. Neither one of them mention the implicit admission of one set of superpowered ears tuning into one specific heartbeat with neither invitation nor permission. Bringing it up right now, while her face is still the colour of a flattened grape, feels a little too close ungrateful. Even if Kara is being particularly unbearable today.
“You drooled on my suit, you know. While I was flying you here.”
Lena's mouth drops open. “I did not—”
“You did,” Kara says around a mouthful of chicken Caesar wrap. “But it's okay, I don't mind. It was cute. Cute little unconsciousness dribble.”
“Kara, I swear—”
“Sleepy drool. No big deal, Lena. Happens to the best of us.”
“I have never once in my life—”
“We can just add the dry-cleaning bill to your tab.” Kara grins a wide, half-masticated grin. “Underneath all the times I've saved your ass.”
“I didn't ask—” Lena starts heatedly, but Kara's already shot out the door.
Temporarily defeated, Lena beats a tired retreat back to her penthouse. Cancels her meetings for the rest of the week and crawls into bed with the express intention of sleeping straight through to the following evening.
She would have managed, too, were it not for the Kryptonian who creeps into her bedroom every two hours on the dot like some kind of solar-powered alarm clock, waking her up to ensure her possible concussion hasn't caused her to spontaneously die.
“I,” Lena slurs, sleep-thick and groggy on the third of these night-time visits, “am installing Kryptonite-laced locks on my doors first thing tomorrow.”
“Of course you are, sweetheart,” Kara agrees mildly, prodding at Lena's shoulder until her fluttering eyelids open fully. “Now, are you nauseous? Any visual impairment? How many fingers am I holding up?”
"How many fingers am I holding up,” Lena grumbles, snaking one hand out from under the quilt to flip the blonde an inelegant bird before sleep reclaims her once more.
She's picked up the next evening and flown reluctantly back to the DEO for Alex to check her over once more, an indignity she agrees to only to prevent the inevitable media storm that would be generated by Lena Luthor showing up to Urgent Care with a face full of bruises.
Alex decrees her as fine as she can be with the imprint of an iron fist in her skull and her kidney, and releases her from the med bay only to corral her toward the command centre. It's only her lingering tiredness and the faint throbbing behind her eyes that prevents her twisting to bite at the fingers the redhead has wrapped around her bicep like a feral animal.
“So. Harun-El,” J’onn starts with his usual miserable inflection when they're all gathered around the central console. “When we took down your brother we thought we got it all.”
Lena presses a pointed hand to her temple. “You evidently thought wrong.”
The Martian doesn't even have the good grace to look a little abashed.
“So there are still some caches left,” Alex says, as if this is a startling revelation and not an obvious conclusion. “Caches that Lex's supporters are using— why? To continue their superhuman mission? To rebuild the Children of Liberty?”
“It doesn't matter why,” Kara cuts in, her eyes never leaving Lena's face even as she addresses her sister. “It only matters that we find it all and destroy it, so they can't hurt anyone else.”
J’onn nods, his calculating gaze flicking to Lena. “A team-up?”
“No, thank you,” Lena says stiffly. “I'm doing perfectly fine dismantling my brother's legions of demon spawn alone.”
Alex scoffs so loudly the other agents in the room stop working to stare. “Oh, absolutely,” she sneers. “The unconscious woman who was deposited in my med bay yesterday sure looked like she was doing perfectly fine.”
J’onn no longer addresses her by her first name. That fact is almost as painful as it is necessary.
“Miss Luthor, like it or not, you are already in an unofficial alliance with the DEO,” J’onn says carefully. “We can help each other. We need each other.”
Lena's blood, already simmering, begins to boil in her veins. She stares at the ring of faces, the ring of faces who had conspired to betray her, to keep her in the dark, to make her out to be the fool she'd tried so hard never to become. Her lip curls.
“You made it crystal clear that none of you needed me when you lied to my face for four years,” she spits, low and vicious. “And I am in no such alliance with the DEO. Believe it or not, I'm not in the habit of collaborating with people I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw them. I have never been your employee, J’onn J’onnz, and I will never be your partner.”
J’onn's brow furrows. “But, you and Supergirl—”
Fire races beneath Lena's skin. “What's between she and I,” she hisses, hiking a thumb in the direction of the wide-eyed blonde, “is between she and I. It's none of your concern, and I would appreciate it if you'd act as such. I am nothing to you, and you are nothing to me. I'm grateful for the medical assistance, Director Danvers,” she says crisply, turning on her heel. “Let's leave our alliance at that.”
Kara catches her, of course, before her dramatic exit can really take full effect.
"Lena, Lena,” she calls over and over, making such a scene that she has no choice to stop in the corridor lest the blonde decide to get her attention by breaking into song.
“I get that you don't want anything to do with them,” Kara mumbles once they're finally face to face, working the toe of her boot against the concrete floor. “But I, well, I'm here for you, you know. Whatever I can do. Whatever you need. You know that, right?”
Lena doesn't even bother with an acerbic retort, half because the pain in her chest caused by Kara’s deception is still too raw, and half because she does know that, despite it all. She just quirks one unimpressed brow, and leaves it at that.
“I'll keep trying, Lena,” the blonde hushes, low and earnest to evade the hearing of the agents milling around them. “I'll keep trying to make it up to you. I'll keep trying to get you back. Forever.”
Lena blinks once, deadpan and inflectionless. “Lucky me.”
“So, I was thinking,” the blonde continues, back to her normal buoyancy once more. “I know you're going to keep going after these guys alone, no matter how many times I tell you it's too dangerous. And if you won't let me come with you from the start, then I at least want to know that you're as well-prepared as you can possibly be.”
She steps forward, halving the distance between them, cutting off Lena's indignant retort with wide, shimmering eyes. Those eyes, Lena thinks hatefully. Those earnest, eager, fucking gorgeous blue eyes. How can they look the same, after everything that's passed between them? How can they possibly hold so much love, while also possessing the power to rip her apart?
“I want you to be safe,” Kara whispers, and Lena hates how much she doesn't hate her in this moment. “I can't see you hurt like that again.”
No. No. This, see. This is how it happens. This is how Kara worms her way in once more, and the enemy within the fortress walls is far more dangerous than the enemy without.
She hardens her face and her heart. “My safety is none of your concern.”
Kara doesn't even bother to point out the falsity of the statement. She just fixes Lena with a long, pointed look that would have had a lesser woman squirming in their Louboutins.
“So,” she continues, as if Lena hadn't spoken. “I was thinking, since now we're dealing not just with idiots but with idiots hopped up on Harun-El, it might be time to upgrade your self-defence tactics.”
Lena's stomach sinks. She has a feeling that she knows where this is going, and she hates it just as much as the blonde appears to be enjoying it. “No.”
Kara beams. “Yes,” she crows. “I can teach you.”
Lena's eyes roll heavenwards. “No way.”
“You need to learn to defend yourself against this new type of threat, Lena,” Kara says authoritatively. It makes Lena want to smack her. “You need to practice.”
Her teeth grind. “I'll build a training simulator.”
"No simulation can compare to the real thing,” Kara says smugly. “You need to really feel it, to learn the techniques of fighting advanced humans, non-humans. And who's got two superpowered thumbs and a wide open schedule?” the blonde beams, hiking both thumbs toward her own chest with a broad grin. “This Kryptonian.”
Lena sighs so heavily she almost falls over. “Surely you don't mean—”
"Train with me,” Kara interrupts soundly, looking far too satisfied with the turn of events for Lena's taste. “I'm the closest you'll get to facing someone injected with Harun-El, without risking them actually killing you. You can calibrate your suit so it's better equipped, learn how to fight most effectively. I'll teach you the strengths to avoid and the weaknesses to exploit.”
Internally, Lena growls. She's smart enough to know when she's been beat, and stubborn enough not to go down without a fight. Unfortunately for Kara, it's a lethal combination.
Something snarling and bitter curls through her throat like smoke, dark and dangerous. She takes a step closer, allows the fine bones of her wrist to graze the blonde's forearm light as a feather.
"Have you got some weaknesses you'd like me to exploit, Supergirl?” she hums, sultry smooth and saccharine sweet as she gazes up at the blonde from beneath her fluttering lashes.
Kara, bless her heart, appears to momentarily swallow her own tongue.
Lena only smirks, turning on her heel and accidentally-on-purpose whipping her long ponytail in the blonde’s face as she makes her way toward the DEO training room.
Kara may have cornered her into this, but that doesn't mean Lena's planning to let her out of it unscathed.
As soon as the door has sealed behind them, Kara fiddles with a control panel on the wall until the sickly green hue of Kryptonite fills the room.
Despite herself, Lena flinches. And, okay, what the fuck. What does she care if Kara's shoulders tighten in obvious discomfort, if her mouth twists in silent pain? She doesn't. She doesn't, she doesn't, she doesn't.
“You don't have to do that,” she says before she can think better of it. The words are heavy and foreign on her tongue. She hates how they feel in her mouth, hates how they sound in her ears. She says them anyway. “We can train without Kryptonite.”
"Oh, this isn't for your benefit,” Kara says with a pained little smile, one that absolutely does not land like a stick of dynamite in one of the many fissures of Lena's cracked and crevassed heart, forcing it to widen even further.
“It's for my peace of mind,” the blonde continues as she gathers her loose hair into a ponytail, snagging it tight with an elastic from her wrist. “I don't want to hurt you.”
"That must be a recent development in your morality,” Lena bites out, any latent sympathy for the blonde disappearing back into the gaping maw of resentment clouding her chest.
Kara ignores the barb, securing her hair tie with a sharp snap. "The emitters are on 18%,” she says with a barely detectable grimace. “I'm still stronger than you but I won't seriously injure you. And you can hit me without breaking your hand.”
Lena rolls her eyes. “Promises, promises.”
Again, the blonde ignores her. “So, the Harun-El makes humans erratic, but their attacks are pretty predictable,” she says, gesturing for Lena to join her on the raised platform that constitutes the training ring. "They go for the easy in, and they're strong. Whatever you do, don't let them get a good grip on you.”
Kara straightens, tapping her fingertips against her breastbone. “Okay. Come at me.”
Well. Lena doesn't need to hear that invitation twice. She rushes Kara, ducking at the last second to convert her obvious frontal attack into a shoulder to the softer target of the blonde's belly. Kara huffs out a surprised breath and Lena's blood runs hot in victory for a moment as she forces the Kryptonian backwards, feet sliding across the smooth floor. Her self-defence coach would be proud.
But the victory is momentary, as a second later Kara's arms lock around her waist and suddenly Lena is upside down, all the blood in her body rushing down to her head.
Faster than she can blink she's being spun, shoved backwards and flipped until her chest is pressed to the wall, cheek grazing the rough concrete. Her arm is pinned behind her back, immobilised in such a way that any attempt at escape would dislocate her shoulder.
Kara's body crowds against her back, fingers hot on Lena's wrist, thighs firm and strong against her own. “Harun-El gives humans strength without skill,” the blonde pants, millimetres from Lena's cheek. “You can't hope to beat them through brute force.”
The smooth jut of her pelvis grinds surreptitiously against Lena's ass, Kara's broad shoulders dwarfing her frame entirely. Lena's breathing hitches, heart machine-gunning against her ribcage.
"They're all brawn and no brain,” the blonde hums, and Lena forces herself not to shiver at the exhale that hits her exposed neck. “So you have to use yours. Your mind’s what will save you.”
Lena clenches her jaw. “Ow,” she hisses through her teeth. "Kara, you're hurting me.”
The blonde releases her instantly, as Lena had known she would, eyes wide and apology already forming on her lips. Lena uses the moment of distraction to twist and duck, takes advantage of her newfound freedom to slice her shin across the back of Kara's knees. The hero buckles instantly and Lena follows her down, landing heavily with her knees on either side of Kara's hips as she grapples with her flailing arms, pinning her wrists to the ground.
Kara gapes up at her, winded, genuinely immobilised by Lena's grip on the pressure point at her wrist thanks to the low hum of the Kryptonite emitters. “What the hell was that?” she gasps, wild strands of hair sticking to her flushed cheeks.
"That,” Lena pants triumphantly, “was me using my mind to save myself.”
Kara's brow crinkles, pink lips pouting. “You know Lex's cronies won't go easy on you just because you say ouch.”
"No?” Lena arches an eyebrow, pressing the blonde's hands harder into the concrete. “Then maybe you shouldn't, either.”
Kara's frown deepens, a muscle in her cheek flickering. “What's the matter?” Lena goads, relishing the breadth of Kara's trim waist between her spread thighs. She leans in close until their noses are almost touching, fluttering the tips of her fingers over the exposed skin of Kara's inner wrist and feeling her abs tighten as she gasps.
“Afraid to fight me for real, are you?” she pushes, enjoying the way Kara's jaw clenches. “Has Supergirl gone soft?”
It's easy, it's painfully easy, to work Kara up this way. It feels cruel, almost, in its simplicity; like taking candy from a baby. Like taking candy from a baby who's holding the candy out in offering beneath a glowing neon sign that reads steal me, please.
“You can't kill me, not like this,” Lena pants against Kara's open mouth, shrugging a shoulder in the direction of the Kryptonite emitters. “And it's not like we're friends. No reason for you to go easy on me. So,” she smirks as Kara's face darkens, her teeth grinding. “Why don't you show me what you've got?”
The last thing Lena registers is Kara's tongue darting out to wet her spit-slicked lips before she's sailing weightless through the air. The Kryptonian doesn't even let her feel the inevitable impact with the opposite wall, speeding across the room and fisting a hand in the collar of Lena's tight black combat jacket to spin her in mid-air, knocking her body to the ground. Lena's barely caught her breath when Kara's tugging her to her feet again, forcing her backwards with a series of jabs and feints that stretch the outer limits of Lena's lifetime of self-defence experience.
She manages to land a single hit to Kara's ribcage which, she realises a split second too late, was the blonde's intention all along. Kara uses Lena's momentum to duck beneath her second fist, whipping a corner of her cape out to snag around Lena's ankle.
Lena hits the ground again, hard, blinking up at the drab grey ceiling as she tries to catch her breath. Kara's face appears at the centre of the white lights swarming her vision, pink-cheeked and breathing hard. “Enough?” she puffs, holding out a hand.
Something hot and molten cracks open in the centre of Lena's chest, spreading like magma through her veins. No one, no one gets the better of Lena Luthor. Especially not this overgrown cheerleader in a glorified baby romper.
She latches onto the hand extended in her direction, tugging hard as she swings her shin against Kara's ankles to knock her legs out from under her. Then they're scrambling to face each other again across the training ring, both a little winded, both utterly unwilling to back down.
Lena lets the pain and rage and heartbreak and betrayal of Kara's deception light up each cell of her body like electricity through water. She flies at the blonde like a banshee, shoving and slapping and clawing, all training and finesse lost in the wake of her unbridled ferocity.
It seems to be all Kara can do to try and contain her, grappling for purchase against Lena's body as she ducks and dodges flailing limbs. After a few breathless moments of furious stalemate Lena finds herself bundled back against the training room wall, this time face to face with her adversary as the blonde struggles to immobilise her. She ends with one forearm pinned against her own chest in an iron grip, the other wrist restrained against the wall above her head.
“Stop,” Kara pants, leaning her weight heavily into Lena's body. Whether it's intended to secure her immobilization or is just a result of the blonde's Kryptonite-induced exhaustion, she doesn't know.
“Stop struggling,” the Kryptonian breathes, tone bordering on pleading. “This isn't what I— you're not learning anything like this.”
“I think I've learned everything I need to know,” Lena hisses, tugging hard at the arm Kara's pinned to her chest and grimacing at the resulting friction burn.
"Lena, please. I want to help you,” Kara pants, pressing Lena more roughly against the wall when she tries to squirm free. “I want to teach you.”
Exhausted by the effort of trying to shift Kara's leaden weight off her body, Lena spits a rogue strand of hair from her mouth with a huff. She might not have a hope of beating Supergirl even with Kryptonite emitters but, as the blonde had so kindly reminded her, hand to hand combat is not the only tool in Lena's arsenal.
“Is that really want you want?” she asks, pitching her voice low and suggestive as she moves her hips again, not fighting now but pushing, pressing. Wide blue eyes blink back at her dumbly and Lena allows the corner of her mouth to quirk, watching the way Kara's gaze tracks the movement.
“Is it?” Lena hums, fluttering the fingers of her pinned hand so the backs of her nails just barely skate the angle of the blonde's jaw. “You've got me here, pinned to a wall, and the only thing you want to do is teach me?”
It's cruel, maybe, to exploit Kara like this. Or it would be cruel, if Lena's own cheeks weren't also heating up at the prospect, if her pulse wasn't pounding wildly beneath the blonde's fingertips and all the blood in her body weren't migrating south with pinpoint precision.
"What is it that you really want to do, Kara?” she manages to ask, husked and smouldering.
The grip pinning her wrist to the wall loosens, the blonde's fingers snaking up to rest lightly in the cradle of Lena's curled palm instead. Kara thumbs deliberately over the delicate protrusions of Lena's wrist as her pink tongue darts out to wet her lips once more, and Lena feels her mouth go dry.
“Oh, Lena,” Kara breathes, a low rumble in her chest that hits Lena square between her legs. The blonde's grip on her other arm loosens, relinquishing her hold on Lena's forearm in favour of skimming her fingernails down the length of Lena's side.
Lena's hips twitch involuntarily and Kara counters the movement with one of her own, pressing their bodies together so sharply that Lena gasps. She leans in close, the backs of her fingers brushing Lena's tangled hair from her neck and shoulder to clear a path, breath hot and damp against her ear.
“You don't want to know.”
A tiny sound, high-pitched and desperate, builds in the back of Lena's throat. By the time it pushes its way out of her mouth, Kara is gone.