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Other You (Interdimensional Love Triangle)

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“Hey Kara!”

Kara’s head whips around. Barry’s standing by the far wall in the Star Labs command center, motioning her over. “Kara,” he repeats when she gets close enough, “this is my dad, Joe West. Joe, this is Kara Danvers, the girl I told you about.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. West,” Kara says cheerfully, holding her hand out.

“Kara Danvers, the girl from another Earth,” Joe replies, taking Kara’s hand and shaking it. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” He winces as he drops her hand. “Quite a handshake you’ve got there,” he adds, flexing his own hand and shaking it out.

“Sorry!” Kara exclaims as Barry laughs. She pushes her glasses up on her nose. “I’m a little stronger here than I am back home. I haven’t gotten my strength regulated just yet.”

“And this,” Barry says, pulling a tall young man over to them, “is Wally.”

“The little brother!” Kara says excitedly.

“The alien, right?”

“Dude, c’mon,” Barry says, punching Wally’s arm, “you can’t just call her an alien.”

Iris walks up behind the two of them and slaps Wally in the back of the head. “Yeah, rude.”

Kara’s smile is slightly melancholy as she watches the three of them tease each other. Kara really likes all of Barry’s friends, but she’s ready to get back to her own family and friends. She hopes Alex isn’t too mad at her when she gets back. Kara frowns and tilts her head. Maybe she’s more homesick than she thought. She could’ve sworn she heard Alex’s voice—there! Kara whirls around, then speeds over to a screen set into one of the desks. She can feel Barry speed up behind her, but she pays him no mind in favor of concentrating on the news anchor on the live feed.

“—Danvers, CEO of Phaenomena, talking about the charity gala she’s hosting tonight to—”

Kara ignores the rest of what the interviewer’s saying, focusing instead on the picture in the upper left corner of the screen. She reaches out a trembling finger to touch it.

“Alexandra Danvers,” Barry says from behind her as he looks over her shoulder. “Wait, is that, is that your sister?” Kara nods jerkily, unable to speak. It’s Alex, but it’s not. This Alex is different, Kara can tell just from the photograph. She’s never seen her sister look so content and light. What was this Alex’s life like? Did she have people who loved her, who protected her?

Barry turns and leans back against the desk, hand next to Kara’s as she holds herself up. “Wow. Wow, I can’t believe I never made that connection before. I mean, some of my people weren’t on your Earth, so I didn’t think about your people being here. Huh.” Barry pauses then, focusing on Kara’s face. “Hey. Hey, are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Kara says, dashing a rough hand across her face. “I was just surprised, seeing this Earth’s Alex, I just…”

“Just what?”

“I kinda wanna see her?” Kara shrugs, helpless against her own emotions. “Not to tell her anything,” she adds hurriedly, “just see how she is, see the kind of person she’s become on this Earth.” See how my Alex could’ve been if I hadn’t crashed into her life, she adds to herself.

“Well you know,” Barry says with a grin as he looks around the room, “we’ve got a few people here who are pretty good with computers. We could get you on the guest list for her big party tonight.”

“Oh, no, that’s not… that’s too much trouble,” Kara protests weakly.

“Oh, c’mon,” Barry cajoles.

“But I don’t have anything to wear,” Kara points out.

Barry grins at her. “I think we have a time traveler that can help with that.”

--

Kara tugs at the hem of her green dress as she’s waved through the front doors and into the party. The dress is shorter than she usually wears, but with a wink Sara had assured her that it looked good, “really good” on her. She pauses just inside the lobby, feeling slightly overwhelmed by the scene stretched out in front of her. There’s what looks like hundreds of people milling around, talking, drinking, and, Kara lowers her glasses and squints at a far wall, doing things they definitely should not be doing in public. She quickly pushes her glasses back up on her face and shudders. She definitely won't be visiting that restroom tonight.

Kara snags a glass of champagne from a passing waiter, and with a fortifying gulp, steps into the fray. She’s never relied on alcohol before, but for a moment or two, she wishes she could feel it working as she sips, her nerves still strung taut. She supposes she should be mingling, but her cautious steps clash with the pompous atmosphere around her.

Luckily, the buffet table filled with different kinds of expensive looking food catches Kara’s attention. It’s exactly what’s needed to ground her, stop her from fidgeting so much. She doesn’t waste any further time and marches determinedly towards the table. Balancing two plates on one arm as she piles up food upon food does earn her the stares of strangers, but Kara pays it no mind. She spots a tall table tucked against the far wall and carefully makes her way across the room, stepping around clusters of people and just barely saving her food as someone jostles her from behind. Kara sighs and clutches her plates tighter, raising them above her head as she steps around a giggling couple and finally reaches her destination.

Figuring it may take some time to find Alex, Kara just focuses on the food, finally more at ease with the comfort the action brings her. The smell is already mouthwatering. It's mostly seafood and Kara has no objection, everything tastes amazing!

Oh, yum, is that—

A familiar sound has her freezing mid bite. Kara squints, putting down the treat, gulping down a mouthful of the remaining champagne, as she surreptitiously starts using her super vision.

She doesn't see anyone familiar, but her breath has picked up regardless.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Kara hears it again – the comforting heartbeat that has soothed her, lulled her to sleep, stopped her from panicking so many times in the last 13 years.

She can't help it; she follows. Food and drink forgotten, Kara moves instinctively across the floor, ears attuned to what she's sure now is Alex’s heartbeat. There's a small crowd at the opposite side of the large room, and considering who the owner of the building is, Kara’s not surprised. She doesn't plan on actually getting too close, just enough… just enough to see this Alex.

Excitement and curiosity bubble and rise like wildfire in her chest, but Kara is careful not to seem too eager as she slides closer and closer. She still doesn't have a clear view of whoever is commanding the attention of the various people huddled together, but she knows.

What she sees next completely steals her ability to plan anything.

This is Alex, but it's not – the sight so different from anything Kara has seen.

There she is, the young CEO, oozing confidence with her relaxed pose, one hand in her pocket, the other propped casually on her hip. Long brown hair, playful smirk, a burgundy suit.

Rao, she's wearing a suit!

This is confusing, both familiar and astonishing enough to cause Kara to just stare. And stare some more. And keep staring until Alex glances up and catches her eyes. Kara jerks and half-ducks behind a passing waiter, following him until she feels safely hidden from Alex’s gaze. She steps into a small alcove and leans against the wall, letting her head thump back against the painted paneling. Rao, that was close! Kara takes a deep breath and shuts her eyes in an ineffectual attempt to slow her heart rate. Obviously the excitement of seeing Alex is just too much for her heart to handle. Unbidden, the image of Alex in her suit floats across Kara’s mind. The well fit blazer, the black shirt to match tucked into pants. She gulps. It’s getting warm in here, isn’t it?

Okay, okay.

She can do it. She's faced much scarier opponents this year alone. Stealing a glimpse of this version of Alex shouldn't be that hard.

She can be sneaky.

With affected casualness she leaves her hiding place, walking back where she knows she'll find Alex. Her eyes instinctively trace the woman's silhouette, keen on spotting any noticeable differences.

The familiar laugh lines at her mouth, the long-forgotten long hair stylishly curled, the dainty fingers clutching her glass of whiskey, the thin waist. She wonders if this Alex too can disarm a grown ass man with her bare hands.

Unbeknownst to Kara, the woman has noticed her prolonged staring.

Kara’s distracted for a moment when someone bumps into her, and when she turns her attention back to Alex, the other woman has apparently vanished. Kara frowns, pushing her glasses up firmly on her nose as she steps back and glances frantically around the room. Where could she have gone? There’s no way Alex could’ve disappeared so quickly, it’s not like she has powers or—Kara pauses, eyes widening. Wait, what if Alex has powers here? Maybe she’s a meta, or a science experiment gone wrong or—

“Looking for someone?”

Kara yelps as a hand touches the back of her elbow, stumbling forward a step before grabbing a potted plant and righting herself. She pulls in a deep breath and turns around. Nothing can prepare her when she suddenly finds Alex standing much too close to her, an amused little smile on her face. Kara feels the air catch in her throat and just stands there, half-gawking like a complete fool.

Silence lingers.

“Uh, wha…no, no, no!” She hurries at the raised eyebrow. “No.”

“So that’s a no then?” Alex somehow looks even more amused, if that’s possible, and instead of walking away from the stuttering, possible stalker in front of her, she steps even closer to Kara, eyeing her up and down.

“Are you alone?”

For some reason, the intense look on the woman’s face has Kara blushing. It’s not like she isn’t used to having her Alex’s complete attention whenever she’s talking, but this feels different. Heavier, somehow.

She licks her lips, lowers her eyes for a moment to center herself. “Yes.”

There, concise and clear.

Alex hums, but still seems entertained by her monosyllabic answer. Kara blushes harder. Rao, what is wrong with her today?! This should be easier. It’s… Alex. Except her sweaty palms and pounding heart are signs enough that this alternate version of her sister doesn’t exactly put her at ease. Suddenly, Kara is overwhelmed by the desire to know what type of life the woman leads.

“I’m Kara,” she blurts out, thrusting her hand out between them.

“Kara,” Alex says with a smirk. Kara’s mouth goes dry at the way her name rolls off Alex’s tongue, voice silkier and deeper than what she’s normally used to. Alex takes her hand in a firm grip. “I’m Alexandra.” Her thumb caresses Kara’s wrist. “But you can call me Lexie.”

There’s a twisty feeling in Kara’s stomach. Alex is still holding her hand. “Ni--nice to meet you, Lexie.”

Mercifully, Lexie lets go after one final squeeze of Kara’s fingers. She waves down a nearby waitress and snags two glasses of champagne from her tray, passing one to Kara and taking a generous sip from the other. Kara tilts back her glass and drains the entire thing in one gulp. Why is her mouth still so dry?

“It’s very brave of you.”

Kara shakes her head and looks at Alex. Lexie, she corrects herself. “What is?”

“Coming here tonight, alone. The vultures will be circling you all night.”

Kara feels confused, though this time it’s from the other woman’s words, and not her proximity. “Vultures?”

Lexie peers over her glass at Kara, a half-smile on her face. She nods at the milling crowd. “All of Central City’s most eligible, and not-so-eligible, bachelors are here.”

“Oh? Oh! Oh, no, I’m not interested in any of them,” Kara says quickly, waving a vague hand at the room.

“Really?” Lexie’s smile sharpens as she steps right up to Kara and lays a hand on her forearm. “Anyone here you are interested in?”

Kara swallows. The heat radiating from Lexie’s hand is making it hard to think. “Ummm—”

But Lexie just laughs, shaking her head with a knowing glint in her eyes. “That’s settled then. We’ll keep each other company tonight.” She hesitates, but her smirk doesn’t waver. “If that’s alright with you?”

It sounds more like teasing than a real question, but Kara nods, and fast, nevertheless. She wasn’t planning on speaking to this Earth’s Alex, but it’s a golden opportunity she can’t refuse.

Her smile falters as a question pops into her head. “Won’t your guests need you?”

Lexie stares in silence for a beat too long. “I’m right where I want to be.”

--

“Where are we going?” Kara asks as Lexie tugs her down an empty hallway by the hand, the sounds of the party fading behind them. Lexie doesn’t answer, just pulls Kara around a corner, stopping in front of what appears to be an office door. She squeezes Kara’s hand then drops it, pressing her palm flat against the door. A small panel slides open in the wall beside the door handle, and, okay, that’s pretty cool. Lexie leans down and looks directly into the opening, and a moment later Kara hears the tumblers click and the door unlocks and slides open.

“Come on.” Lexie links her arm through Kara’s and leads her into the room. “Are you thirsty?” she asks as she pulls away from Kara and walks across the room to a small bar cart. Kara doesn’t answer, a bit dazed as she takes in the room.

The lavish warmth of it stuns her upon walking in. She’s not sure what she was expecting, but Kara is more than a little impressed – and intimidated, to tell the truth. This doesn’t look like an office, but rather feels more private, with the cherry wooden boiserie, the dim lighting, the fancy images on the walls.

She’s never really cared much for money, but her artistic sense is in awe at what she’s seeing. It seems Lexie has a different kind of taste than her Alex. She looks at the large display of books curiously, but doesn’t get closer. She hesitantly sits on the black sofa in the middle of the room instead, and watches Lexie pour amber liquid in two glasses.

When Lexie joins her, she sits a tad too close, handing Kara her drink, fingers brushing. “Thanks,” Kara says quietly, sipping and wishing for the second time tonight that she could feel any kind of alcoholic boost. She hadn’t planned this far ahead.

“So Kara,” Lexie starts, turning further in her direction, knee against thigh. “What do you do exactly?”

Kara’s mind blanks, as she’s completely unprepared to lie on the spot. See, she should have planned things better! She opens and closes her mouth, ending up blurting the first thing she can think of eventually. The truth, sort of.

“I—I’m a reporter.”

“Oh? Anything I’d have read?”

Crap.

“No!” Kara may have yelled. She winces, clears her throat and tries again, “No. It’s a very small magazine.”

“Hmm.” Lexie stares at Kara consideringly, absently swirling the liquor in her glass.

Kara pushes her glasses up on her nose. “So, umm, what about you? I mean, I know you do all this,” she says, gesturing with her free hand, “but, uh, is this what you always wanted to do? Or did you wanna do something else when you were young?”

Lexie leans forward and places her free hand on Kara’s knee. “Is that Reporter Kara asking?”

“Nope, nope, just me,” Kara says in a slightly strangled voice. “Just regular Kara.”

Lexie leans back at that, but leaves her hand resting on Kara’s knee. She takes a sip of her drink as she looks away. “My parents had lots of dreams for me,” Lexie admits, her grip tightening on Kara’s leg for a brief moment. She blinks, then looks back at Kara, a soft smile on her face. “But I’ve always loved the stars.”

Kara swallows and lets her hand cover the one on her knee. “What about when you were at Stanford? Did you think of doing anything else then? A different field of science, or becoming a doctor?”

Lexie looks at Kara bemusedly. “What makes you think I went to Stanford?”

Kara can feel her face flushing. Whoops. “Oh, well, I--I mean—” Her mind races frantically. She can’t just tell Lexie that she knows another Alex Danvers who did go to Stanford. “Google,” Kara blurts out, “I--I googled you. Yep, that is, that is a—a thing I did.” Kara winces and pushes her glasses up on her nose, pressing her lips together and smiling.

Lexie’s staring at Kara appraisingly. She raises an eyebrow. “Oh, so you googled me, hmm?”

Kara feels her whole body flush at Lexie’s tone. “Well, I—I, like I said, I’m a reporter. I just, umm, I wanted to learn more about the brilliant young founder of this company.”

Kara watches as Lexie tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, smiling prettily at her words. Under the light jasmine perfume Kara easily detects, Lexie smells just the same. Something aches within her chest. There's no hardness in the setting of her jaw though, nor the tender recognition familiar in her hazel eyes as she stares at Kara, unabashedly.

“You are very thorough,” Lexie quips, breathy. She rubs Kara’s bare skin, but she continues as if normal. “But Google lied to you. I moved here for school years ago.”

Oh.

So it seems Kara has lots to learn about this Alex. She can't wait to know more.

--

Kara hasn't realized it before, but as they walk toward the exit of the building together, arms brushing purposely, the thinning crowd lets her in on the fact they may have talked for longer than she expected.

“Thank you for the tour. I didn't mean to keep you away from your party.”

Lexie waves her concern off with a laugh, glancing at her expensive watch to check the time. Kara barely catches the gasp ready to slip out of her mouth when she notices it's not the one her sister usually wears, a gift by Jeremiah many years prior.

“The pleasure was all mine,” Lexie assures her as she squeezes Kara’s bicep lightly.

The two women pause and turn to each other as they reach the doors. Kara fidgets slightly, clasping her hands in front of her, anxious all over again. “Well,” she says, blowing out a deep breath, “I guess this is it.”

Despite still reeling from the meeting, the peculiarity and newness of it all, the info she gathered and the numerous differences with Alex she noticed, Kara is happy it happened – almost disappointed that it’s over now. There's a lot she has to think about and mull over, but that's for later.

Lexie bites her lip and steps forward though, long fingers coming to rest on Kara’s arm. “It doesn’t have to be. Let me call you sometime.”

“Oh!” Despite the sudden treacherous somersault in her chest, Kara tempers her excitement. “Oh, I—I can’t. I’m going home tomorrow. I’m sorry.”

“And your phone doesn’t work there?”

“No, I mean, yes… yes it does, but it’s so far away.”

Lexie’s fingers slide up Kara’s arm, past her elbow and up over her shoulder. They pause on the strap of Kara’s dress, fussing with it as she looks into Kara’s eyes. “And you don’t think you’ll be back here again?”

Kara shakes her head, tongue strangely thick in her mouth. “Not likely,” she murmurs.

Lexie presses the strap flat. “Okay. Okay.” She takes a step back. “It was really nice meeting you, Kara.”

“You too,” Kara says with a small smile. She turns towards the exit. She doesn’t know why she feels like crying.

“Hey, Kara?” There’s a hand on her elbow. Kara spins around. Lexie is beside her, a determined look on her face. She reaches into the inside pocket of her blazer and pulls out a pen. Lexie tugs Kara’s arm to her chest and writes on it for several seconds. “Just in case,” she says as she tucks the pen back in its hiding spot.

Kara looks down. There’s a phone number written there on her skin, followed by two tiny hearts and the name Alexandra Danvers. Lexie turns Kara’s arm over and raises Kara’s hand to her lips. She lingers for a moment over Kara’s knuckles, then gently lowers her hand. “I really did enjoy meeting you, Kara,” Lexie says as she takes a step back. “And I hope I get to see you again.”

Kara stares at the retreating woman, heart in her throat. She raises her hand in a little half-wave. “Me too...”

--

Kara gazes upon the bright night sky, stars standing out in perfect contrast against the black curtain seemingly so similar to her own back in National City. This is a completely different world, and yet…

Years ago, in Midvale, counting stars and tracing constellations would have left Kara with a bittersweet ache in her chest – reminder of her lost planet, the destruction of everything precious and familiar – but it often helped her focus. Helped her think. She’s lost count of the frequent stargazing nights spent with Alex from then on.

The conversation with Lexie is still fresh in her head, her love for the stars ever-present. Some things just don’t change, Kara supposes.

Lexie.

She’s the reason for the confusion within Kara, the bone-deep longing she’s been surprised to identify so clearly. What was meant to be a brief encounter had left Kara in a jumble. She’s still curious beyond reason to know more about this alternative version of her sister, but it hurts.

She wasn’t expecting it to hurt.

The night before almost felt surreal—the whispered confessions, the easy closeness in spite of this first meeting. But there was not a trace of the powerful stance customary on Alex at the DEO. Lexie looked relaxed instead and completely in her element around rich people, sporting way too expensive clothes, entertaining big crowds with unaffected charm. No hidden weapon in far too tight slacks, no tension in her shoulders. Lexie hadn’t been trained to act or think like a soldier, never grown expecting the worst out of any situation.

The thoughts had been sobering, pushed Kara into a guilty spiral later, once alone.

Amid sips of spicy bourbon, Lexie had mentioned her successful parents, the way they had doted on their only child, supported her through her studies and her following move. Rao, in this universe Jeremiah’s still alive and Eliza has never put any pressure on her daughter to be constantly perfect. Lexie had first kissed a girl at barely sixteen and never doubted herself.

There’s no fractured relationship here. Lexie simply seems to be thriving. Beautiful, happy Lexie.

Kara draws a broken breath in, exhaling the cold air immediately after. Spiraling into the sky and weaving through the clouds hadn’t helped earlier, her thoughts still a mess. Barry had been worried too, but he doesn’t know her well enough to recognize when her smile is forced. Whenever she feels this overwhelmed, there’s one person Kara always thinks of. But she can’t exactly call Alex here, can she?

She slips her phone from her pocket, staring at the new number she put in her contacts last night, heart beating fast. Kara bites her bottom lip then presses the call button, taking a quick breath and a leap of faith as she holds the phone to her ear. She’s about to hang up after the third ring, unsure of what kind of message to leave, when there’s a quick hello.

“Um, hi, Lexie? It’s Kara. From last night? You gave me your number.”

“I remember. Hello, Kara.” Kara can’t see Lexie, but she can picture the amused smirk on her face.

“I’m still here,” Kara blurts out.

“In my building?” Lexie’s voice is teasing, and Kara can feel herself flushing.

“Here in Central City. My…flight got pushed back. And I had your number, and you said just in case, so I thought, maybe we could—but it's late, you’re probably busy, I’ll just—”

“Kara.” Lexie mercifully interrupts her. “I do have some things to take care of right now, but we could meet up later tonight, if that’s okay with you?”

Kara nods vigorously, then facepalms when she realizes that Lexie can’t actually see her. “Yep, tonight would be great.”

“Good.” The amusement is clear in Lexie’s voice, but there’s also a hint of something else, something that Kara would call nervousness in anyone else. She continues talking though before Kara can quite figure out what it is. “Why don’t you come back by the office, say, in a couple of hours?”

Kara bobs her head again. “Okay, yeah, great, I’ll see you then.” She’s about to hang up when Lexie’s voice echoes one last time down the line.

“Oh, and Kara? Wear something nice.”

--

“This is great,” Kara says, for what seems to be the umpteenth time in such a short span of time. She's not quite sure what she even means anymore; she's just babbling. The fancy Italian restaurant, with its elegant decor and inebriating smells, or—

She catches herself staring at the expanse of freckles on a milky chest, flushing hard despite herself.

The food! Definitely the food.

Keeping her eyes down, she focuses on twirling her fork and raises it to her mouth. The creamy fettuccine with lemon sauce is delicious. Sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and lemon zest, it has a spicy hint of something else Kara can't quite identify. She hums a little pleased sound as she chews.

“I'm glad you think so.” Lexie’s smile sends warmth right through Kara, genuine contentment shining on her face. “When you mentioned your love for food and trying new recipes, I knew I had to show you this little restaurant here.”

It doesn't seem so little to Kara, she thinks, looking around for a moment. She almost feels underdressed in the clearly upscale setting. Against her will, she finds herself staring right back at her companion.

In place of the more masculine look of the previous day, Lexie is now sporting a silky flowy blouse, unbuttoned lower - way lower - than anything Alex has ever worn back at home. Bright red lips, face enclosed by loop earrings.

She looks different, still amazing.

Kara swallows, self-consciously curling some stray hairs behind her ears.

“How's your pasta?”

Lexie has opted for gemelli with shrimp, arugula, sliced peppers and ricotta forte.

Lexie merely lifts a shrimp with her fork, shaking it playfully. “Wanna try?”

“N-no, that's alright,” Kara half stammers, hyper aware of the way Lexie purses her lips to hide her threatening grin.

White wine keeps flowing between them, and despite the seemingly permanent blush on Kara’s cheeks, she's having fun. Lexie is witty and smart, and while her jokes are unquestionably less dorky than Alex’s, the intent of wanting Kara happy and laughing is just the same.

Kara orders juicy lamb loins with artichokes as second, and she fights against her natural instincts to fidget when Lexie just keeps on gazing at her as she eats. She's been careful not to devour everything with the usual intensity and eagerness that accompany the shared meals with her sister.

She frowns. It's not that she doesn't care what Alex think of her, she just knows the woman accepts her fully, loves her for it. She feels like she still has to impress Lexie though. She's not sure why, but the desire to leave Lexie with a good memory of her is burning through her consciousness.

“A red would be great with it.” Lexie nods at Kara’s dish.

“No, I'm fine. You're quite the drinker,” Kara teases, shy little smile stretching her lips. Lexie may know a thing or two about liqueurs brands and fancier tastes, but this is another thing in common with Alex.

“I just appreciate the finer things in life, Kara.” Her eyes are hooded as she answers, and it feels heavy and meaningful in a way Kara doesn't – can't – recognize. Her throat bobs as she swallows, entranced by the way Lexie’s eyes have her pinned still.

But Lexie blinks then and the spell is broken. Kara quickly returns to her food, still hungry once she realizes she's finished.

Lexie seems to read her mind, for she waves over the waiter in Italian. Kara gapes. Lexie didn't tell her she knew the language!

The woman notices her expression and chuckles, shrugging far too casually. “I'm not that fluent, but I picked it up during my post graduation vacation. Lived a short while in Tuscany, then Liguria…”

Kara is hit by the memory of an undergrad Alex, returning home for the Christmas break, speaking an accented Russian with difficulty, but still trying, flushing with pride. Kara recalls how hard she missed her sister then, the odd bitter sensation felt in her stomach when Alex had gone on and on about her new friend. Natasha—no, Natalia? She doesn't remember now, but looking back, Kara ventures that had been a crush for her sister.

She forces a smile and the memory away.

“What did you tell him?”

“Oh, just asked for dessert.”

“Hey, I didn't get to decide what I wanted!” Kara pouts, not really affronted as she's still to find a sweet she wholly dislikes.

“I have a feeling you'll approve.”

The mystery is revealed when two waitresses approach their table with various plates and bowls.

Many, many plates!

Kara’s eyes widen and she claps her hands excitedly. Lexie just ordered a little bit of everything and she honestly could just kiss her!

Kara flushes at her silly thought, laughing at herself. She shakes her head and pulls the first plate closer to her. It's a slice of tiramisu with cocoa crumbles on top. She all but moans at the first taste of the mascarpone custard layered with coffee soaked ladyfingers, whipped mixture of eggs and rum.

It's heavenly!

Lexie pops a cantuccini biscuit in her mouth, laughing at Kara’s stunned expression.

“Good, right? All Italian born chefs here.”

White-chocolate cups filled with dark chocolate mousse next. Delicious zeppole follow, fried perfectly. Panna cotta, served with melted caramel sauce. Large cannoli. Small fruit tarts. Spumone ice cream of cherry, pistachio, and vanilla flavors, all with a nut layer between them.

By the time Kara has wiped the table clean of all deserts, she realizes belatedly that Lexie has only taken one single plate for herself.

She gasps, mortified at her manners. “Gosh, I'm sorry! I—I didn't mean… everything was so good…”

“It's alright.” Lexie openly laughs but it's not malicious or even teasing. She honestly looks impressed, half stunned if her raised eyebrows are anything to go by. “Never met a girl quite this voracious. I like it.” The wink at the end is positively naughty, but Kara isn't sure she understands. She still blushes.

“Would you like some cassatina?”

Kara looks at the round small sponge cake covered with a shell of marzipan and decorative candied fruits in top.

“It's moistened with light liqueur and filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips,” Lexie encourages, raising her fork and leaning down to get close to Kara. Her voice drops, “You'll love it.”

As if moved by a higher force, Kara finds herself parting her mouth without any objection. She closes her lips around the cutlery between them, savoring the taste. It's, unsurprisingly, amazing. It leaves a sweet, thick taste on her tongue as Lexie slowly eases her fork from Kara’s mouth, impossibly darkening eyes intent on the motion. Kara licks her lips unconsciously at the gesture, feels an unfamiliar warmth spreading through her body. Lexie doesn't look away for a full solid minute. Kara squirms in her seat, hot and confused, the spark blossoming low in her stomach rather troubling.

Lexie pushes her plate in the middle, and Kara is relieved when they start using their own forks to eat, not certain she'd survive another feeding moment.

Sure her mixed feelings have to be written all over her face, Kara drags her eyes away from the smiling woman and lowers her head a little, trying to just concentrate on the desert.

She's not quite successful.

--

“Here we are,” Lexie says, grabbing Kara’s hand and pulling her to a stop.

Kara blinks. She thought they were just wandering aimlessly, but clearly Lexie knew exactly where they were going. Kara raises an eyebrow as Lexie drops her hand and pulls open a door for her. “Umm, where exactly?” she asks as she steps through the doorway.

Lexie follows her in, placing a hand on Kara’s back as she follows just behind Kara, leading her down a short hallway. “This,” Lexie answers as her hand presses more firmly against Kara’s back, “is my favorite lounge bar. I like to come here to unwind sometimes.” Lexie gives her a  conspiratorial smile as she strides forward to push open another door. “Plus they have an amazing selection of wines.”

Kara steps past Lexie and blinks, the room even dimmer than the hallway that led to it. Lexie’s palm is on her back again, leading her down some steps, and Kara follows unthinkingly, too used to Alex’s guiding hand in the same place. They cross the floor like that, Lexie angling them towards a low leather circular couch in the corner of the lounge. Such a private spot. When they reach the booth, Lexie leans over Kara’s shoulder, her hand slipping around to Kara’s waist as her chest presses up against Kara’s back. “Go ahead and sit,” she murmurs in Kara’s ear. “I’ll be right back.”

Kara sways, for a moment, her body feeling cold when Lexie steps away. She sits, and after a moment of indecision, scoots to the middle of the seat. She looks around, taking in the stunning red granite counter where Lexie’s talking to an older woman. The dimly lit, almost golden aura and its sleek design elements make the bar a pretty cozy space.

After a brief touch to the woman’s arm, Lexie turns and heads back towards Kara. As Kara stares unabashedly at her, she can’t help but compare the way Lexie walks, sinuous and fluid to Alex’s more lethal stalk. Skin-tight pants draw attention to her long legs, but Kara forces herself to glance up. With a smile Lexie slides into the booth, hand reaching out to rest on top of Kara’s, stilling her drumming fingers. She’s sitting close, their shoulders almost-but-not-quite-touching. Kara resists the ridiculous urge to close the distance, press right up against Lexie’s side. This is not Alex, she can’t cuddle here.

Lexie nods at the bar. “Amelia just got a new shipment in. I told her to surprise us.”

“Oh,” Kara protests, her free hand coming up to fiddle with the stem of her glasses. “You don’t have to do that. I mean, you already paid for dinner, and that must’ve cost, well, much more than I wanna know probably—”

“Kara,” Lexie interrupts her gently, squeezing her hand and turning towards her. “I don’t mind, really. I like spending time with you.” Her hand slips lazily past Kara’s wrist, fingers dragging over Kara’s forearm before pausing on her elbow. “In fact I was thinking—”

Lexie breaks off when she notices Amelia approaching them with a bottle and glasses. She thanks the woman and nods for her to set the wine down on the table. Kara blinks when she sees the label on the bottle. She has a decent grasp of wines from Alex, but her true appreciation comes from ordering Cat Grant’s personal supply for two years. This is definitely more a Cat Grant bottle than a Danvers’ one. Lexie’s about to open the wine when Kara lays a hand on her wrist. “Maybe a different bottle?” Kara says in a slightly strangled voice.

Lexie raises an eyebrow, a faint smirk painting her lips. Kara licks her own. “A cheaper one, perhaps? I mean, I don’t know how much it costs here, but back home that’s an expensive bottle and—”

The smirk is full-blown when Lexie interrupts her. “Hey, I told you I don’t mind. Only the best for you, right?” Lexie winks at Kara as she finishes opening the wine.

Kara finds she can’t really argue like this.

With the soft mix of trip hop and ambient music in the background, they talk in hushed tones. It’s different than with Alex and their movie nights, Kara can’t deny it. Not better or worse, just different. When Lexie looks at her, it’s honed to a sharp dark edge. It’s not calculating, but there’s something brewing behind her eyes all the same. But Lexie’s smile is tender and in the dim lights Kara can almost fool herself. As odd and new as it all is, Kara likes it. A lot. She feels warm all over and she can’t blame it on the wine.

Lexie doesn’t seem to mind her babbling mouth, and looks genuinely interested when she asks about her life. Kara can’t tell her about superpowers and capturing criminals and Krypton and the rage within she daily battles against, but she tries not to lie too much, guilt throbbing a dull ache in her bones. And sometimes Lexie adds something about herself too. Kara soaks it up like a sponge, needing to know about her life and interests, eager for more.

“Should we make a toast?” Lexie asks during a lull in their conversation. Even the silence isn’t strained now for some reason.

Kara offers her a goofy grin, nodding. “Go ahead.” She’s usually better at this – Alex teases her about her hope speeches at times – but making a toast now would have her blushing too much, despite her experience back at home.

She can’t help it, her heart skips a beat when she sees the smirk on Lexie’s face turn impish and the deep rose glow the wine has brought to her cheeks. Scooting impossibly closer, Lexie winds a leg around Kara's under the table, strokes her shoulder with her free hand, playing with the tip of a blonde curl as she considers her words.

“Hmm, to unexpected meetings,” she finally says softly, biting the corner of her mouth when Kara grins bashfully at this. “To beautiful, beautiful girls.” She raises her glass and tilts it sideway, her eyes never leaving Kara’s.

Kara’s mouth grows dry, the staring all kinds of powerful. Jeremiah used to say Kara and Alex were “thick as thieves,” and it never failed to make Kara proud, happy. Like she had accomplished something big, precious. Having Alex around in her earlier years on Earth had been the sole light in a mourning period. Despite the noticeable different history here, the way Lexie makes her heart flutter and warmth spread to her limbs isn’t dissimilar to what it felt when Alex stopped acting like a moody teen around her and started dragging her to science fairs, sharing secrets along the way.

“You're just trying to get me to give you the last sip of wine,” Kara says, unconsciously lowering her voice too.

“Not true.” Lexie smiles a slow, sexy smile, palm settling warmly at the back of Kara’s neck. Her thumb caresses are quite distracting. “I’m just being honest. Meeting you last night has been…” She shakes her head a little, trailing off, and Kara wonders if she too can feel this otherworldly connection between them.

Lexie doesn’t finish though, just draws a finger up a long neck, and then down the line of Kara’s jaw. Kara closes her eyes in response, breathing in sharply. The urge to reach out and cover Lexie’s hand is strong and it takes Kara by surprise when she recognizes she doesn’t mean to stop it.

Oh.

She snaps her eyes open, a sudden dreadful sensation taking hold of her, anxiety and tension seeping in her shoulders. She straightens her back further, the comfortable haze around her evaporating. It’s as if everything suddenly makes sense now—all of it. Why tonight was so different, why she felt cherished in an unfamiliar way by this mysteriously charming Alex. The prolonged touching, the intense staring.

Kara stays still, a statue, her mind in turmoil, thoughts racing everywhere. Lexie is—has been flirting!

In retrospect she’s surprised it has taken her this long to work things out, but her social aptitude has always been a little lacking, she supposes, lips tightening. Rao, her friends are right, she is so clueless!

What’s worse is that the realization doesn’t do much for her bar the shock. She isn’t disgusted or let down. When she turns her head a fraction to the side to peek at Lexie, the hooded eyes of the woman make a peculiar sensation swell in the pit of her stomach. She doesn’t think she’s ever seen Alex like that. Her heart thunders in an unsteady staccato, but her body still warms on contact, and she doesn’t move away.

The whole place feels empty, except for the pulsing energy in her veins and Lexie’s side molded against hers. Kara’s world is thrown off-killer, completely, and she can’t bring herself to care. Not now, not here.

She swallows, hands gripping her wine glass a touch too strong, threatening the material to crack under her pressure.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Lexie murmurs, voice like velvet, her soft hand retreating from Kara’s face.

Kara can’t answer, can’t even articulate how she immediately misses the contact, wants it back with something fierce. The sudden stark perspective has left her light-headed. When she looks back shyly, her blue eyes can’t quite hold the heated gaze of the other woman. The sensation settled south of her bellybutton has a name now, but Kara can’t focus on that.

She swallows. She’s screwed now.

--

The chilly wind outside is sobering, but Kara doesn’t mind – the lounge bar was starting to feel restricting. Gulping a mouthful of fresh air, Kara picks at her dress, staring down, terribly confused with everything discovered so far. She’s chosen this particular dress because Alex always tells blue is her color, and she feels on the verge of tears all of sudden. She shakes off the ridiculous urge and curls her hands into fists.

She watches Lexie make a quick call. Kara had been impressed with her BMW earlier, but mostly because she was sure her sister would have loved it too. It’s Alex who’s into wheels, after all. When a sleek black town car pulls over instead, Kara can’t say she’s surprised Lexie has a driver ready on call.

She settles on the leather backseat, hands resting on her lap. She wishes she could at least feel part of all the alcohol consumed tonight, and not worry. Lexie looks so relaxed with her sleepy smile, and the warmth from her body is far too enticing as she presses close, closer, searching Kara’s eyes.

The front seats are cut off from the back by a tinted matte black window, and the driver only speaks to ask for an address. Kara quickly gives him Cisco’s, but then retreats back into her silence, despite her jiggling knees.

She swears she can feel her heartbeat literally everywhere. Or maybe it's Lexie’s, maybe the wine really did it and she’s more dizzy than she has realized. Maybe she should open up her window and clear her head. The confusion swirls within her and she can feel the expanding throb of it mixed with pleasure, growing bigger and bigger with each second spent not moving away from Lexie’s nuzzling.

The woman drags her nose against Kara’s cheek slowly and for a second Kara stops breathing.

“Is this okay?”

The husky tone and brushing make it hard for Kara to even think, let alone reply. But maybe it’s just the wine, yes.

She can’t swallow hard enough to free the lump in her throat, so she merely nods, staring straight ahead. Her skin breaks out in goosebumps at the warm exhale against her neck. She feels Lexie’s lips press gently there, once, twice. Kara grips the seat at her sides to stop from reacting.

Lexie has managed to wreak havoc on any semblance of lucidity in Kara, regardless. Her mind races to try and figure out a solution, but it’s useless. She can only hope to contain… whatever this is.

Then Lexie moves a finger under Kara’s chin, angling her head up toward her, so they are mere inches apart.

No, no, no.

This is crazy. This is crazy and scary and electric.

In the dark of the car Kara can still see—feel—the hazel eyes so similar to the ones she adores. They are staring in that intense way that always makes Kara want to take in a deep breath and just bask in the out pouring of love. It’s overwhelming in all the best ways. She loves that particular gaze, always been one of her favorite things, because Alex looks at her as if there’s nothing more she needs in her life than having Kara close.

She knows that’s how she looks back at Alex too. Time seems to stop for a moment.

When Lexie leans in, trying to close the nonexistent distance between them, Kara panics and jerks away, pressing back against the headrest, nearly using her super speed. Lexie freezes at the reaction, wet lips parted in surprise. Kara flushes and wriggles her hands together in a rather nervous manner.

She knows that were her mouth to crash to Lexie’s, things wouldn’t be the same. Because this can’t just be swept under the rug. There is no way she would be able to face Alex again if she were to allow this, no matter how perfectly pleasant the night has been, how much she’s enjoyed this…date.

She needs—she needs to think first!

“We’ve been drinking…” she rushes to explain, feeling like she has to justify herself anyway. “I just, I don’t want to do anything we might regret and—”

Lexie just smirks a little, interrupting her mini rant with wandering hands. “Oh, Kara,” she husks, her fingers dancing on Kara’s waist, caresses quite insistent, “I don’t do regrets.” When her right hand palms Kara’s side with the clear intent of traveling even further up, Kara grabs it and halts its path.

“Lexie,” Kara says forcefully.

“Kara,” Lexie mimics, her free hand sliding down Kara’s hip and resting on the bare skin of her thigh.

Kara shivers a little as Lexie’s thumb rubs small circles on her leg. This is madness. She can’t control her reactions to Lexie, and Lexie certainly isn’t going to stop what she’s doing anytime soon. As Lexie’s hand starts to slip under the hem of her dress, Kara catches it, pulling it away from her and holding both of Lexie’s hands by her wrists. “I can’t.”

“Can’t what?” Lexie asks. Her body falls into Kara’s as the car rolls to a stop. Kara easily pushes her back and presses Lexie’s hands firmly into her lap as the driver knocks on the dividing window, signaling that they’ve arrived.

Kara takes a deep breath, and immediately regrets it when she’s immersed in Lexie’s scent. Lexie must see something in Kara’s face then, because she smiles sharply and leans forward, tilting her head. Kara puts a hand to Lexie’s chest, stopping her. “I—I like you,” Kara says, her hand immovable as she feels Lexie pushing against it, “but I can’t do this.”

Lexie sits back with a huff, surprised that Kara is so easily able to hold her back with just one hand. She brushes a piece of hair out of her face. “Am I missing something, Kara? I thought we were on the same page here.”

Kara winces as she fiddles with the stem of her glasses. “No, I know, it’s just,” she turns part-way in the seat, angling her body towards Lexie, who’s pushed herself into the far corner of the car, “this wasn’t supposed to happen. I just came here to help my friends, and then I was going back home. I was never supposed to meet you.”

“But you did.” Lexie scoots forward, knee pressing against Kara’s leg. “And now, what? We just forget all about it?”

“Maybe?” Kara shrugs forlornly. “It’s just, I’m going home tomorrow, and I don’t think I’ll be coming back.”

“Ever?” Lexie’s voice is disbelieving.

Kara gestures helplessly. “This is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I’m sure I won't be able to come back, even if I want too.” She reaches a tentative hand out to place over Lexie’s. “I’m sorry.”

Lexie jerks her hand back, withdrawing back into her corner. “Whatever. Just go. I hope you got, well, whatever it is out of this that you wanted to get.”

Kara leans back, stung. “All I wanted, was to get to know you a little. And I did, I got to know this wonderful, caring, beautiful woman and spend an amazing night with her. I’ll never forget this,” Kara mumbles, ducking her head as she reaches behind her for the door handle. “I’ll never forget you,” she finishes softly.

“Wait.” Lexie scoots closer once again, slowly, almost as if to give Kara a chance to backtrack. Kara can’t help it, she swallows hard when Lexie’s lips brush softly against her cheek. It’s feathery chaste, barely there, but Kara holds her breath all the same, feeling electricity jolt up her entire body. Her breath quickens, and the hot flush on her chest is unmistakable. Butterflies flutter in her stomach too. Rao!

She releases her strong hold on the car handle, looking down at Lexie’s mouth for just a moment. The woman is biting her bottom lip, but she grins when she catches her eyes. Kara exhales a broken little sound, smiling back tremulously. She needs to leave.

“Goodnight,” she whispers, sighing one last time, before opening the car door.

She doesn’t look back as she gets out, walks further away from the girl that now holds a piece of her heart.

The realization is frightening.

Chapter Text

Alex arrives on Kara’s doorstep with a pack of ice cold beer, enough pot stickers to feed an army, and an even bigger smile.

She has so much to share!

But knocking doesn't get her anywhere. With a shrug, she fishes her spare key from her pocket and simply lets herself in. It's unlikely that Kara didn't hear her. With her super hearing, even if Kara’s in the shower, she'd pick up her arrival. Or, most likely, the smell of her favorite food, Alex amends inwardly with a chuckle. Maybe her sister is out and didn't tell her. This is an impromptu visit after all.

The place is dark, the TV off.

Oh. Alex hopes Kara wasn't called to do some heroing somewhere. Not now. Alex is rarely selfish and still isn't used to… this… being the one to gush, or having a love life, really, but Kara has been amazingly supportive and Alex finds she does want to share for once.

When she moves toward the kitchen though, she notices bags of groceries forgotten on the table.

Her hand settles on her gun when she spots Kara's phone too.

Something happened.

Before she can go in a full panic attack, she notices a sticky note on the fridge. She hurries to pick it up.

It's Kara's handwriting.

--

Alex tells J’onn first thing, calls him right from in front of Kara’s fridge, note crumpled tightly between her fingers. Since the DEO has yet to perfect a working interdimensional transporter, J’onn regrettably decides the best thing they can do is wait for Kara to return. Alex mutters her agreement and hangs up, tossing her phone on the counter and pacing agitatedly back and forth between the kitchen and the couch.

After several minutes of pacing, and still no closer to a solution for finding Kara, Alex huffs and flops down on the couch, stretching out full-length. She pulls her knees up, feet flat on the cushion, as she grabs a pillow and tucks it between her head and the armrest. Alex uncrumples the note, smoothing it out against her thigh before pulling it close enough to read again.

Alex, DON’T WORRY, I’m okay. Barry came to ask for my help bc there’s an alien invasion on his Earth, so I’m going back there with him. It’s only fair since he helped me last time. I love you, I promise I’ll be back soon!

                                                                                                                       Kara

And underneath, in slightly smaller writing, like Kara had dashed back and added it on:

P.S. I’ll be fine, I’ve been trained by the best alien hunter I know :)

“You could’ve taken the best alien hunter you know with you,” Alex mutters as she lets her hands and the letter drop to her stomach. She sighs and closes her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose to fight off the impending migraine. It was just a few minutes ago that she’d been so excited to see Kara and talk to her about what had happened with Maggie the night before. And now Kara’s off on some other Earth and Alex is stuck here, no way to contact her sister, waiting for her with rapidly cooling potstickers and warming beer. Alex cracks one eye open and tilts her head back, peering around the edge of the couch into Kara’s kitchen.

Well, while she’s waiting, a beer or four couldn’t hurt.

 --

Alex wakes to a pounding in her head. “Danvers,” a voice calls from outside the apartment. Oh, the pounding is on the door. Alex sits up and groans, pressing her palms into her eyes. Nope, the pounding is in her head too. “Anybody home?” The voice is louder this time. Alex pushes to her feet, swaying for a moment before she shuffles to the door.

The metal of the knob is cool in her hand as she rests her forehead against the door jamb. That fourth beer last night was probably a mistake. The fifth one definitely was. The door rattles again as the person on the other side becomes more impatient. “Gimme a second,” Alex mutters as she fumbles with the lock. She finally gets it and cracks the door open. “Maggie!” Alex flounders for a moment, her half-awake brain trying to reconcile the woman standing in front of her with the version of her that Alex had spent most of the night dreaming about.

“Alex,” Maggie replies, pushing the door open and trying to step forward. She raises an eyebrow when Alex doesn’t step back. “You gonna let me in?”

Alex blinks, thinking of empty beer cans and letters about aliens, and steps forward herself, herding Maggie back out into the hallway and pulling the door shut behind them.

Maggie reaches out and lays her hand on Alex’s bicep, her thumb brushing the inside of Alex’s elbow. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Alex croaks out. She shakes her head and clears her throat. “I’m fine.” She gives Maggie what she hopes is a reassuring smile. “Just woke up is all. Haven’t had my coffee yet.”

“Are you sure?” Maggie presses, stepping closer. “Because I tried to call and text you last night and this morning. You had me worried.”

Alex reaches into her back pocket, grappling with her phone for a moment before managing to extract it. When she pulls it out the screen is completely black, not even the little flashing warning battery blinking at her. “Sorry,” she said, flipping it around to show Maggie. “Didn’t have my charger with me.”

Maggie nods, the slight tightness around her eyes finally easing. “Well, I was gonna see if you wanted to grab some breakfast, but since you’re such a sleepyhead, I guess we could make it a lunch instead?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.” Alex smiles down at Maggie, forgetting, just for a moment, about sisters and worries, her millions of responsibilities. Maggie seems to sense the instant things change, however, her grip on Alex’s arm tightening before Alex sighs and steps back towards the door. “I can’t though. Kara—she’s sick, and I don’t wanna leave her alone.”

Maggie stuffs her hands in her pockets and sways forward slightly, her body leaning towards Alex. “She okay?”

Alex feels a rush of affection at the obvious concern in Maggie’s voice. “She will be. Just a bad cold, I think. She just never really gets sick, so when she does, she’s a big baby about it.”

“Can I bring you anything?” Maggie smiles, dimples making an appearance for the first time. “Your charger, a change of clothes?”

“Nah, I’ll just borrow Kara’s,” Alex says with an answering smile. She gropes behind her for the handle. “I’d invite you in, but it’s really just a lot of grossness and bodily fluids in there. I’ve probably already contaminated you enough just coming out to talk to you.”

Maggie takes that step forward then, trapping Alex against the door. “Well if I’m already contaminated…” Maggie leans in and presses her lips against Alex’s, one hand cupping the side of Alex’s face while the other squeezes her bicep. Alex sighs into the kiss, leaning forward, but too soon Maggie is pulling away. Alex blinks and takes a half-step towards Maggie. “Uh-uh, Danvers,” Maggie chastises teasingly as she ducks Alex’s grasp. “You get back in there and take care of your poor, sick, gross sister.” Maggie turns and walks towards the stairwell. “And charge your phone!” she calls over her shoulder.

--

Saying goodbyes has never been her forte, and after a big rounds of hugs, Kara leaps through the inter-dimensional extrapolator Cisco gave her. Reaching her world in a blur of an instant is both vertigo-inducing and astonishing.

She stumbles to a halt, and looks around her apartment, spotting Alex at the table quietly munching on a piece of toast. Any other time Kara would be delighted to see her sister, welcome her presence, but after the previous days’ events, she just feels thrown into disarray.

Alex startles at the new unexpected presence, widening her eyes and dropping her food immediately. “Kara!” She rushes towards her sister, pulling her into a hug so tight it’d crush any mere human. “You—you’re here!”

It’s desperation mixed with unadulterated affection.

And just like that, any doubt within Kara quiets down. Relief seeps into her bones. This is home. Jolted as she is by the familiarity of the action, she melts into it, wrapping her own arms around Alex’s smaller frame. The slight trembling that she wasn’t aware of stops completely, and her body settles in, comforted by Alex’s touch – her heartbeat, her warmth, the way they just fit together.

Kara has closed her eyes, relishing in the safety of her sister’s embrace, therefore she doesn’t see it coming when Alex swings a punch at her shoulder.

“Jerk!”

“Hey,” Kara complains, fake offended, affectedly rubbing the spot Alex just hit. “Not cool. I just got back.”

She doesn’t even get to work her pout, though, unsettled by Alex’s stare, genuine hurt and anger there in her eyes.

“Exactly! Only now, and I’ve been so…” But Alex shakes her head, voice breaking as if overcome by emotions. A deep breath, and then her face is a blank mask. “You didn’t think it would have been better, smarter, to let us know exactly what was happening, before disappearing?”

“I… I didn’t know much either?” Kara cringes, the explanation sounding kind of pathetic to her own ears too. “Didn’t you read my note?” she hurries to add, eager to see Alex relaxed and smiling again.

“Oh yeah, the note. A meager sticky note that said ‘Barry needs help, brb.’ That one?”

“That’s not what I—fine, but I also said I’d be back soon, safe and sound,” Kara helplessly points out, trying to lighten the mood, but shrinking under the intensity of Alex’s glare.

“This is not funny. The DEO doesn’t have the right resources to allow us to do any universe-jumping for now, so I could only wait.”

“Look, I know you’re mad—”

“You think I’m mad?” Alex deflates, the reprimanding tone leaving her words. “I was worried. It’s been days. Do you have any idea how powerless this whole thing made me feel? You could have been hurt,” her voice raises again, “hell, you could've died, who knows where, and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.”

Oh.

Kara wraps her hands around Alex’s clenched fists, shifting until her face is pressed against the other woman’s hair, nosing the familiar scent.

“I’m sorry,” she says quietly, full knowing her abrupt departure hadn’t been well planned and apologizing now won’t make up for it. “I left in a rush, and that was stupid, I know. I was worried, though, and they really needed my help.” She jostles her sister playfully. “Nothing happened, see, I’m fine.”

Alex sighs, half annoyed at herself for never being able to stay angry at Kara for too long, and at her sister for her impulsive brave personality. Mostly she’s relieved to see her back in one piece. She steps back, giving Kara a careful once-over. “What exactly went on there?”

“Dominators,” Kara says with an exaggerated shudder, “eager to gather information about metahuman powers.”

“Hmm, you know, a brilliant bioengineer sister who knows more about aliens than Barry’s whole team combined could have helped.”

Kara grins, happy to hear Alex’s humor back.

“They would have loved you.”

“They?”

“I met so many other people there, heroes, vigilantes, time travelers—”

What?”

“Tell you what, full details later, movie night today. I'm starving now.”

--

Turns out movie night is much later than expected, as the debriefing over at the DEO – and J’onn’s obvious concern masked by legitimate interest and inquiries about Earth 1 – took over their whole afternoon and a large part of the evening too, with barely any time to talk to Winn or the others. There was a huge buzz at the base, between scans and full-body exams Alex wanted to run immediately, and agents studying the communication functionality of the portable breach-opener.

Now, finally at Kara’s apartment, they are settled on the couch, winding down with some Netflix and pizza, the lighting dim enough to relax.

It feels almost like any other day, as if nothing life-shattering had happened while she was away. Kara is unsettled by the calm. They already got over the bigger things, major events happened in the other parallel world, but she still itches to talk, vent even about what—who—she saw, opening to Alex like she normally would, but her sister is obviously giving her space now.

Because Alex knows Kara, and knows when to push and when to wait.

Kara glances out of the corner of her eyes, the older woman seemingly taken by the dancing sequence on TV, but Kara cannot focus on The Get Down episode right now.

She sighs, hand creeping toward Alex’s, the need to touch and be grounded too powerful to ignore. No words are shared, but Alex closes their distance and gently squeezes back, her full attention now on Kara. Her eyes are soft, but her jaw is clearly flexed stiffly, belying her apparent composure, and for a moment Kara panics she somehow senses something.

“You okay?” Alex whispers instead, concern marring her beautiful face when the handholding doesn’t prompt anything out of her sister. “I know the mind controlling must have been hard…”

The recounting at work had been pretty neutral, detached in its speediness almost, Alex constantly at her side, but now in the comfort of her house, Kara winches at the reminder, still a sore spot after the incident of mere months ago. She hasn’t forgotten, can’t, but thoughts about Lexie definitely kept her busy meanwhile.

Kara can still remember the realization upon landing. It had been an odd awareness, unprecedented but flown deep in her bones, when Clark explained how she was always going to restrain herself here. Kara took it to heart, so scared of hurting others, worried over slipping up at some point, and it had been Alex that helped change that.

The brush of fingers across palms, the first careful handhold, the many hugs that followed.

The Red Kryptonite event brought up memories and sensations Kara had foolishly been sure she wasn’t going to experience again. She had nightmares on and off for weeks, and of course Alex was there for her, always there—broken bones and unfinished arguments, the baggage, the words unforgotten despite any brave face put on later.

Kara looks at Alex and marvels that they still haven’t talked about what happened then, what she said, the hurt caused.

“It’s fine…”

“Kara.”

“No, I know, but we didn’t have time to dwell on that, I’m glad it was over pretty quickly considering everything. I, um… I actually…” Kara trails off, suddenly nervous all over again. She takes a reassuring breath, starts once more, “I actually wanted to talk about something else.” She goes for a smile, willing her heart to slow down.

“Oh?”

Kara can tell she’s piqued Alex’s interest, the way her shoulders lose the tension, bleeding out the usual protector role Alex takes on so often around her.

She tightens her hold on her sister’s hand, but it still doesn’t seem like enough. She shivers, feeling the heat of Alex’s leg pressed against hers as she scoots even closer, the weight of her curious gaze settling on Kara. Kara can’t do it like this though, so she looks away, over Alex’s shoulder.

“Kara, you can tell me anything. You know that.”

“I saw you.”

There, rushed words spilling out of Kara’s mouth fast enough not to be taken back.

But Alex furrows her brows, clearly lost. “What?”

“On Barry’s world…on Earth-1. I mean, not you, obviously, but another you.”

Alex’s face doesn’t give much away, but Kara knows her sister’s scientific mind has just gone into overdrive, scanning over any possible situation, the conditions of the meeting, what has been said or done. Kara hopes she isn’t considering that single one occurrence she just lived, the flirting still fresh on her memory.
   
Alex turns off the TV. “You didn’t mention that at the briefing.”

Ah. Straight into top DEO agent mode. Kara chuckles despite herself. “It wasn’t… important—no, I mean, it just… wasn’t part of the mission there. Nothing to do with the aliens or Barry or Oliver.”

“How did you meet the other-me then?”

Kara hesitates, not sure how to even start explaining it. The fancy party, the suit Lexie wore, the date the following night and every sensation pulled out of her chest. Good and bad.

“Did something happen?” Alex worries at the silence stretching out. “Was I… bad?” She bites her lip as she asks, dropping Kara’s hand to rake hers through her short hair.

“No! No, Alex, nothing like that. Don’t worry. You weren’t a soldier though. You didn’t know me.”

That earns Kara a lopsided grin. “Peaceful existence then.”

And Kara knows Alex is joking, a little teasing after tiring days spent apart, but her heart clenches painfully against her ribcage. Something on her face must have changed because Alex moves fast, drawing Kara between her arms. “No, hey, I was just joking. I wouldn’t change this, my life, for anything.”

Kara turns her head to look into her sister’s eyes. She gives her a watery half smile. “Not even for a world where you’re uber rich, a world where you don’t risk your life every day, a world where… Jeremiah is happy at home with your mom?”

Alex wasn’t expecting that, that much is obvious. Her eyes widen for a moment, and Kara can hear the staccato of her fast beating heart, telegraphing what she’s trying to hold back. For my sake, Kara knows.

She swallows harshly, as she waits for an answer. Guilt, so sharp Kara feels it penetrate her unyielding flesh, eclipsing any other confusing thought in her head.

“Kara… c’mon. That’s not fair.” Alex’s voice is rough. “I—we are getting dad back, you promised me. We just stopped Lillian Luthor, and we are slowly getting closer to our answers. You saw him, you told me he seemed fine,” Alex says fiercely, shaking her head, unable to contemplate anything different now. “He’s not dead, so I don’t care for any other reality.”

The hand not on Kara’s back moves slowly to her sister’s face, cupping the soft cheek, sealing the deal. “I may have resented you when you first got here, stupid teen drama and jealousy, but you know I wouldn’t have it any other way, right?” Alex says, and it hurts her a little like it always does, acknowledging her initial jealousy, weakness. Kara is aware of the self-loathing coating her smile. She just smiles back, the gentle sort of smile that says it’s okay.

But it’s hard for them to talk at times, and maybe that’s why they haven’t addressed last year various issues, Kara muses.

“I… I lost my dad during those important years, but I gained something even better.”

Kara feels warmth spreading all through her body, and she cuddles up to her sister, smiling against her chest. Alex palms Kara’s neck, rubbing the skin there.

“I bet my other self was an ass.”

Despite her glistening eyes, Kara laughs, thinking of Lexie’s cocky attitude, the carefree way she spoke and acted, the wandering hands. She swallows when flashes of Lexie’s insistence played back in her head. “Yeah, kinda. Pfff, without a Supergirl in her life.”

“Boring.”

Silence envelopes the room again.

“Was I… what did I do? You said I was rich. Also, before you start, I’d like to remind you the DEO pays well, pretty well.”

Kara giggles for a moment. “I just meant you are definitely less interested in, um, the materialistic side of life, I guess.”

“Yep, sounds like an ass.”

“Stop it. You… she, she was actually nice to me. She took me out and—” Quickly, Kara stops speaking, heart pounding so hard she’s sure Alex must hear it even sans super-powers.

Panic rushes in.

Why the name of Rao has she just blurted that part out too?

She hurries before Alex can ask for more details, “She was the CEO of a space tech company, contract with NASA and all.”

“Oh. That’s pretty cool, mmm. So I wasn’t a bioengineer or even a doctor.” Alex lets the info mull in her head, imagining that life. “I would have gone into research post PhD I suppose, were it not for the DEO job.” She reaches out and pokes Kara in the side. “Nah, I prefer this option, being an expert in alien biology and kicking jerks’ asses daily.”

Kara forces a smile, the past days’ memories rushing in, blurring together. This talk hasn't gone exactly how she envisioned and she isn't quite sure what to say now. She feels emotionally exhausted, but any false step and Alex will want to know more. She has revealed already more than what she had planned to, and she has to tread carefully. She despises lying, especially to Alex, but keeping certain information to herself sounds wiser for now. There's a lot she still has to think about.

"Do you want to keep watching The Get Down?"

Alex looks like she may argue against it, but she nods a couple of seconds later, deciding whatever she saw on Kara's face is enough.

And without further delay, Kara turns the TV on, keeping Alex close but not back in her arms, the giant question mark over the whole Lexie situation making her nervous again, somehow stronger now.

If Alex notices her sudden awkwardness, she doesn't comment.

--

Kara drops by unexpectedly, feeling strangely needy and missing Alex. What she isn't expecting is to see her sister already at the door, looking ready to leave too.

Kara takes in Alex’s curled hair, the subtle color on her cheeks, the lipgloss shiny on lips.

“Kara!” Alex nearly drops her jacket. “What did I tell you about using the window?”

“If you didn't want me to use it, you'd keep it closed,” Kara quips with a smile. “Going somewhere?” Kara has a hunch already, but the applied make-up doesn't exactly scream dive bars and friendly pool games amid beers. It hurts to think about why Alex is dressed that way for some reason.

“Yeah, I’m going out,” Alex confirms, looking down shyly at her soft cashmere sweater. “You would’ve known, if you didn’t decide to leave without notice.” Her tone takes a teasing quality at the end, but the hurt is real. Kara winces at the reminder. “I… I have a date with Maggie, a proper date.”

“Date?”

“Yep, we’re gonna give it a try.” Alex’s smile could probably light up the whole city; it’s hard to look away.

Oh.

Kara swallows, feeling her thoughts spiraling off in a thousand different directions all at once. Unexpected, but this is a good news, isn’t it? She fumbles for a reply, trying to come up with something sensible, anything to justify the sudden confusingly sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“That’s—that’s great, Alex.” She smiles softly, taking her sister’s hand in hers. Alex squeezes back.

“I’m a little bit scared. But yeah, I’m happy she changed her mind.”

“She’d be a fool not to.”

And it’s easy here – there has never been a doubt in Kara’s mind that Alex is amazing – beautiful, clever, loyal – anyone would be crazy to let her go. She can be supportive, she totally can.

“Where is she taking you?”

Alex lifts one fine eyebrow. “Why do you think she’s the one planning this? I was the one kissing her first, admitting my feelings first. I’m gonna do this.” Alex’s short nod is all kind of adorable.

And Kara knows Alex, her confidence is tremulous at best here, but she’s overwhelmed in all the right ways, shining like never before, ready to be free. But all Kara can think about is how Lexie took matters into her hands too, planned their date and managed to stun Kara like no one before, despite the night’s shaky ending.

“Kara?”

Kara blinks. Alex is staring at her, the beginnings of an uncertain frown on her face. Kara attempts a smile, but if Alex’s face is anything to go by, it looks more like the grimace Kara was trying to hide. “Hmm?”

Alex steps closer, her arm with the jacket looped over it pressed tightly between their bodies. The tiny crease between her eyebrows grows more pronounced as she looks up at Kara. “Is everything okay?”

Kara swallows at the loaded question and looks away briefly. “Yeah, everything’s fine.”

Alex lets go of the hand she’d been holding just long enough to adjust her grip, slipping her fingers between Kara’s and squeezing her hand again. Kara feels a jolt low in her stomach at the contact, a brief image of Lexie pulling her down a street flashing in front of her eyes. She shakes her head, thinking about the breach-opener she’s had tucked in her boot for the last few days after the DEO had finished scanning it. “I’m fine,” Kara repeats.

“You sure?” Alex’s eyes have taken on that soft, concerned look that’s reserved especially for Kara. Her thumb strokes the inside of Kara’s wrist. “Why’d you come over then?”

Kara should really step back, put some distance between herself and Alex, but she’s weak, and with Alex pressed against her Kara feels content and warm. Safe. Kara smiles then, a real smile, and she can feel Alex relax against her. “What, I can’t just stop by to see my big sister?” she teases, swinging their clasped hands gently to the side.

Alex quirks an eyebrow, but her face is smooth now. “I guess,” she murmurs with a fond smile. Alex glances down at their hands and startles a bit when she catches sight of her watch. She lifts their hands slightly and nods down at her wrist. “I should really…”

“Go!” Kara admonishes. She pulls Alex into a brief hug, ignoring the way her traitorous body wants to linger, and steps back, releasing Alex’s hand. “Go get your girl.”

Alex flushes at that, crosses her arms over her chest and casts her eyes down at the floor. “Yeah,” she whispers, her chin dipping to her chest.

Kara doesn’t hesitate, stepping forward and gripping Alex by the shoulders with both hands. “Alex,” Kara says softly. Alex doesn’t move her head, but looks up at Kara through her eyelashes. Kara’s heart feels like it’s being squeezed, seeing her sister look so uncharacteristically hesitant. Alex should never feel unsure about herself. “Hey, you’ve got this, okay?” Alex sniffs but doesn’t take her eyes off of Kara.

Kara’s heart clenches again, but she ignores it in favor of reassuring Alex. Her hands slip off her sister’s shoulders and slide down to her elbows. “Alex, you’re so smart, and kind, and beautiful, and you love better than anyone I know.”

Alex raises her head then, finally, blinking at Kara with shiny eyes. “Kara,” she breathes out.

Kara squeezes her elbows lightly. “You can do this, Alex. You’re the most amazing woman in the universe.” Kara’s throat tightens painfully and then she’s the one blinking teary eyes. “Maggie’s gonna love you,” she whispers.

Alex steps forward, arms unfolding to wrap around Kara’s back, clutching Kara to her as tightly as she can. She tucks her face into Kara’s neck and breathes deeply. Kara wishes she could tell herself that it’s the hug causing the pain in her chest. Alex squeezes Kara one last time before sniffing and stepping back. She shakes her head briskly and brushes her eyes with the knuckle of her forefinger. “I can’t believe you made me cry right before my date,” Alex says with a laugh. She shakes out her shoulders and straightens up. “Do I look okay?”

“You look beautiful,” Kara says sincerely, because she does. Alex in any form is beautiful to Kara, but here, with soft, shining eyes and a hopeful anticipation thrumming through her body, Alex is irresistible. “Here,” Kara takes Alex’s jacket from her, shakes it out and holds it up. Alex obligingly turns around, cashmere sweater rising slightly over a pair of snug-fitting slacks as she bends her first arm to slip into the jacket. Kara stares determinedly at her sister’s shoulder as she fumbles Alex’s other arm into place.

Alex turns around, hands gripping the hem of her leather jacket. “Okay?”

Kara swallows and licks her lips. “Definitely.”

Alex smiles, relieved. “Okay.” She glances at her watch again. “I’ve really gotta go now. Are you gonna—” Alex nods at the window.

“Oh, yeah, I’ll close it behind me.”

Alex leans forward and hugs Kara briefly again. “Thanks, Kara.” She steps back and opens her door. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, alright?”

Kara nods jerkily. “Or you can call me tonight,” she says, half-jokingly.

Alex is through the door, pulling it closed behind her when she sticks her head back in the apartment. “Let’s just say tomorrow,” she grins. “Love you, Kar,” she says affectionately.

Kara musters her best smile, her heart sinking in her chest as the door clicks shut and all three locks snick into place. Her heart feels heavy, her whole body feels heavy now that Alex is gone. Kara lays her palm flat against the wood. “You too,” she whispers to the closed door.

--

Kara hovers above the city, above the clouds, arms outstretched, eyes closed, head tilted back, soaking in the warmth of the late-afternoon sun. Her hands drop to her sides as she inhales deeply, counts to four, and exhales for the same amount of time. A light breeze drifts by, ruffling her hair, but she ignores it. Kara filters out all the noises and smells and, starting at her fingertips and slowly moving up her arm then down the rest of her body, concentrates on relaxing her muscles one by one. It’s an exercise Alex had devised a few months after Kara had arrived on Earth. Their goal then was to give Kara a way to learn to control her senses and the physical side of her powers. Kara quickly realized that it also helped her mentally and emotionally, grounded her in a way that nothing else had on this new planet.

Kara lets her head roll forward and hang down, her chin touching her chest as she works on unclenching abdominal muscles. It’s been awhile since she’s done this, but after talking with Alex this morning, she needs it, needs the stillness and quiet it provides.

Alex.

Kara’s stomach muscles tense again as she thinks about how Alex called ten minutes before they were supposed to meet for lunch today to ask to reschedule. Maggie had gotten called into work, so their date tonight was ruined and Alex wanted to take Maggie to lunch instead. Alex promised to make it up to Kara and Kara had reassured her sister multiple times that she was okay with it.

But now Kara finds herself, miles above the city, holding her breath and attempting to relax her abdominals once again. She pushes thoughts of Alex, and Alex and Maggie, out of her mind and tries to focus on un-tensing each muscle, but it’s no use. Kara opens her eyes and sighs, letting her body drop back down through the clouds.

She loops the city a few times, stops a mugger and helps a harried couple corral their child who has run away from them in the park, and finds herself hovering over Alex’s apartment. Kara settles down on the rooftop, boots crunching on gravel as she walks over to an air vent and hops up to sit on top of it, hands gripping the edge. She lets her head dip down again and swings her legs, listening to the dull boom that resonates every time her boots kick the metal beneath her.

She just… she’s just been feeling a little off ever since her trip to Barry’s world. She’s tried ignoring it, but knows she’s not doing a great job of it, if Winn’s concerned face the last few days is anything to go by. Kara’s begged off hanging out with Winn and James, because as much as she loves them, she can’t handle anymore well-meaning but nosy inquiries about her trip to the other Earth. And, if Kara’s honest with herself, she knows if she’s pressed too much, she’ll tell them all about Lexie, and she’s really not ready to deal with the boys’ reactions to her spending time (flirting! her brain helpfully reminds her) with another Alex. Nor is she ready to examine exactly what overwhelmed her about it.

Kara exhales loudly through her nose and pushes herself off the vent, landing heavily and brushing her hands off as she walks over to the edge of the roof. She really doesn’t feel like being alone in her apartment right now, but if Alex’s date the other night is any kind of indicator, it’ll be awhile before she gets home. Kara frowns. She could fly more laps around the city, but even flying lacks its usual appeal right now. She glances down. Maybe she’s just hungry. It has been several hours since her second breakfast.

Kara swings herself up and over the edge of the roof and floats down to Alex’s window, opening it and ducking inside. She drifts over to Alex’s fridge, opening the freezer and reaching all the way into the back, past the pizzas, and past the bags of frozen vegetables whose only purpose are as makeshift ice packs, until her hand finds the carton it’s seeking. Kara grabs a spoon and glides over the counter. She hovers over Alex’s couch, then drops down cross-legged on the center cushion. She doesn’t even bother turning the TV on, just focuses single-mindedly on her ice cream.

Kara pauses, spoon hovering halfway to her mouth as she remembers the taste of the spumone ice cream Lexie gave her, and she sets the carton on the coffee table, appetite suddenly gone. It feels wrong to keep thinking about Lexie, here, in Alex’s apartment. Kara closes her eyes and leans against the back of the couch. It feels wrong thinking about Lexie anywhere on this Earth, where she doesn’t exist.

Kara huffs impatiently as she reaches down to take off her boots. She really just needs to stop thinking about Barry’s Earth and everyone who—Kara freezes as her hand touches the interdimensional transporter. She slowly pulls it out of her boot and flips it over in her hands. Her grip on it tightens as she thinks about how after the last time, Alex made her promise never to go to another Earth again without telling her first. But she doesn’t want to disturb Alex on her date, and, Kara reasons to herself, finger hovering over the button, with Alex busy, no one will even notice she’s gone.

She pushes the button.

--

Kara only stumbles slightly as she steps out of the portal and onto Barry’s Earth. She pushes her glasses up on her nose and looks around, blinking in the dim light provided by the room’s lone window. There’s a door just in front of her that she cautiously pushes open. Kara relaxes, straightening and pushing the door fully open once she realizes that she’s in the S.T.A.R. Labs warehouse that she trained in just a few days ago. She slips the transporter into her bag and looks around. There’s no one here now, but when she concentrates she can pick out Barry and Caitlin and Cisco’s voices over in the main building. Kara hesitates, biting her lip; she really doesn’t want to talk to anyone right now. Decision made, Kara changes out of her Supergirl suit then slips out the side of the warehouse and speeds away into the city.

Kara wanders aimlessly for a while, taking in all the sights and smells and sounds of Central City as twilight softly fades and the city comes alive with lights. She gets in line at a food truck that reminds her of the one she frequents in Chicago, stepping up to the window when it’s her turn and automatically ordering Alex’s favorite. Kara’s reaching for her wallet when she remembers two things: one, she doesn’t have any money with her, and two, even if she did, she couldn’t use it here anyway. Kara sighs to herself and mumbles an excuse before ducking out of line.

She shuffles over to a nearby bench and plops down. Maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea after all. She wanted to take a break from her confusing feelings, but here she is, in an entirely different dimension, and still, Alex manages to worm her way to the front of her mind.

Kara puffs out a breath. Maybe it’s time to go. Being on this Earth is obviously not the distraction she’s looking for. She reaches blindly into her bag, searching for the transporter, ready to go home and sleep the rest of this night away. Her fingers still when they brush across a smooth surface. Kara pulls out her Earth-1 phone and leans back against the bench, legs stretched out in front of her, staring at the black screen contemplatively. She bites her bottom lip and drums the fingers of one hand restlessly on her leg. Decision made, Kara turns the phone Barry gave her on, and it immediately starts beeping and buzzing with notifications of missed calls and unread messages.

Lots of them!

She isn't sure what she was expecting, but the surprise at reading Lexie's name on the display has her heart beating faster. The woman, it seems, didn't forget her. With a twinge of something in her stomach that Kara steadfastly ignores, she notices that despite her surely busy schedule, Lexie has called and texted her multiple times every day since she's been gone.

She swallows down her nerves. Her fingers hover on the call button, before she changes her mind and opens up a new message box.

She isn't certain she'll even get an answer, but there's a reason she returned here. She doesn't want to waste her time behind what-ifs, and if calling sounds a bit too overwhelming for now, a text isn't going to take much. So, perhaps foolishly, under the duress of confusion and loneliness, Kara taps a text into the blank white screen.

hello.

That’s enough for a conversation starter, right? Right?! Kara winces, feeling ridiculous at her inability to even write something decent. Something casual, but not too casual.

She swallows, erases, and starts typing again.

Hey, how are you? I hope I’m not waking you. I figured you’d be at some party, in any case.

Kara bites her lip and paces back and forth as she debates with herself: to smiley face or not. After a couple more turns she changes it to I figured you’d be at some party, in any case ;)

She’s about to hit send when she freezes. Is the winky face okay? Kara fiddles unconsciously with her glasses and wrinkles her nose. She texts like that to her Alex all the time, but it feels different when she’s texting Lexie, heavier, somehow. Kara shakes her head. No. She doesn’t want to think about Alex right now. She hits send decisively and drops down on a nearby bench.

Kara taps her foot nervously as she stares at her screen. Luckily she doesn't have to wait too long before her phone buzzes in her hand.

New # who dis?

Kara’s chest clenches. Maybe Lexie gave up on her after not getting any responses back, maybe—

Her phone buzzes again. Jk Kara I know it’s you ;)

Kara blushes, chuckling nervously. Right… it was a joke. Somehow Lexie manages to fluster her even when she’s not present. Kara takes a deep breath, thumb hovering over the screen as she ponders her reply.

Sorry, I was away for work and didn’t have a way to get your messages

There. That isn’t a complete lie. Kara had been working, and she definitely didn’t have any way to get Lexie’s messages. She impatiently pushes a strand of hair out of her face.

I thought my wit & charm just finally wore you down enough to admit you missed me ;p

Kara grins. It’s the first time she’s really smiled in days, genuine contentment forcing its way through the fog in her brain. She feels lighter, for a moment, and quickly glances down to make sure she hasn’t floated right up off the bench.

Maybe, she types backs. Kara stares at the screen, then quickly adds, you’re actually the first person I’ve contacted now that I’m back, and hits send before she can think too much about what she just said. Kara gently bites the pad of her thumb as she waits. It’s a habit she picked up from Alex soon after she got Earth, and one Eliza despaired ever breaking them of. For Alex it was more about channeling her anger, and, Kara realized later, punishing herself rather than lashing out at others, especially her mother. For Kara though, it’s a way to deal with the world when it gets too loud, to drown everything out and focus on just one small point.

whoa way to make a girl feel special :*

Kara jumps when her phone buzzes and blushes when she reads the text. It seems the days apart did nothing to change Lexie’s interest in her. This awareness is still bewildering to Kara. Her phone is lighting up again before she can formulate a response.

don’t think I’ve forgiven you for ignoring me for the last week tho. you owe me now ;)

Kara’s teeth press into her thumb again as she reads the text, her glasses slipping down her nose as she bends her head to her phone. Her stomach twists. She knows Lexie is teasing her, that it’s just a saying, but it feels a little—her phone buzzes again, startling her from her thoughts.

sorry Kara just saw the time. I gotta get ready for a dinner tonight

And just like that, any lightness Kara’s been feeling is gone. A weight presses down on her, her whole body slumping to the bench. Of course, Lexie’s got a date. that’s okay, have fun Kara types back. She considers adding an exclamation point or a smiley face, but winds up just dejectedly hitting send instead.

lols doubtful, it’s a business thing

btw, I’m ready to call in my favor now

Kara bites her bottom lip, unsure what Lexie might ask of her. The plethora of different emotions within makes it hard to decide how to proceed. The excitement for any future interaction is accompanied by apprehension now, she notices. She enjoyed herself last time, a little bit too much looking back, even after realizing it was a proper date, but something about the way the night ended and Lexie’s persistence when tipsy make her hesitate. I don’t remember agreeing to that, she types back, stalling for time.

aren’t you at least a bit curious what it is?

Kara stands and paces to a nearby railing. She leans on it and stares out over the water below her for several minutes. She does want to know, if she’s honest with herself, but she’s realizing there’s something they need to talk about.

When she takes too long to answer, her phone starts buzzing.

Lexie’s name flashes on the screen.

Alexandra Danvers is calling. Kara blinks and stares at the shaking device as she stumbles back to the bench, heart in her throat.

Should she…

She debates with herself a moment too long, before taking the call.

“You know, it’s rude to make a person wait when they have to get ready for a meeting soon,” is Lexie’s idea of a greeting.

Hearing the familiar voice of Alex with Lexie’s typical bravado has Kara swallowing down her confusion. She frowns.

“Hello to you too.”

“Hi.” Kara can hear Lexie’s smile through the phone. She has a sudden picture of Lexie in her office, leaning back in her leather chair, long legs propped on her desk. “How are you, beautiful?”

Kara flushes, whether from the image or the other woman’s words, she isn’t sure. “I’m fine,” she answers, bending over and resting her elbows on her knees. She can do this. “What about you?”

“Better, now that I’m talking to you,” Lexie says with a small laugh. “So, what kept this brave journalist busy these past few days?”

Kara’s phone slips through suddenly fumbling fingers and hits the pavement. Stifling her gasp, she reaches for it with trembling hands. Right. Lexie thinks Kara is a journalist on the other side of the country. “Uh, just, um, reporting stuff.”

“Stuff, huh?” Lexie teases. “So specific and detailed. I can see why you decided to become a reporter.”

“Yeah.” Kara winces and closes her eyes. There’s an awkwardness now that wasn’t there the night they met or the night of their date. Well, for most of their date, anyway. She stays silent too long, because Lexie’s voice takes on a concerned tone.

“Kara, hey, are you okay? What’s wrong?”

Kara takes a deep breath. Now or never. “I think we should talk,” she says hurriedly.

Lexie’s voice is cautious now. “I thought that’s what we’re doing.”

“No, I mean, yes, we are, but I think we should talk face-to-face.” Kara tucks a piece of hair behind her ear as she comes to a decision. “I’m going to be in Central City in a few days. Can I come see you?”

“Of course.” Lexie’s reply is immediate, relieved. “You’re welcome here any time.”

Kara sighs and slumps back against the bench. “Thanks.”

“You know,” Lexie’s voice is low and warm in her ear, “this is perfect, actually. I was gonna ask if I could come visit you, but now you’re coming to me instead.”

Kara can hear the slight creak of Lexie’s chair as she leans back farther in it and the wisp of air as Lexie brushes her hair back from her face. A laugh rumbles over the phone. It sounds just like Alex. Kara feels her stomach clench. “What?”

“I knew you couldn’t stay away from me.” Lexie’s voice is light and teasing and Kara can practically feel Lexie’s beaming smile.

Kara rolls her eyes and lets her head fall back on the bench. “Mmm-hmm,” she replies.

They just breathe for a few moments, then Kara hears Lexie push her chair back and stand, heels clicking against the floor as she moves around her office gathering things. “I’m so glad I got to talk to you, Kara. Unfortunately, I’ve gotta go now or I’m going to be more than just fashionably late to my dinner.”

“That’s okay.”

Lexie stills, not even a rustle of clothing to betray her movement. “Are you sure you’re alright, Kara? Because I can have my plane ready in less than an hour and come to you.”

“No!” Kara blurts out, straightening suddenly, her hands flailing. Her glasses perch precariously askew on the end of her nose. “No,” she breathes out, pulling her glasses off completely and closing her eyes. “I’m fine, we’ll talk in a few days when I’m in town.”

“Okay.” Lexie starts walking again, moving from carpet to tile as she exits her office. Kara hears Lexie slide her key into the door. She pauses before locking it. “You will come and see me though, won’t you?” There’s a hint of uncertainty in Lexie’s voice, as she looks for confirmation from Kara.

Kara bites her bottom lip. She could—should—tell Lexie no, should tell her goodbye, should let the other woman know that they can’t see each other. Then again, if Kara had been doing what she should, she would’ve never answered Lexie’s texts in the first place.

Plus, the uncharacteristic nervousness is somewhat endearing.

“Yes.”

Lexie sighs. Her forehead thunks gently against the door. “Good. I can’t wait to see you, Kara.”

Kara smiles slightly as she tips her head back and stares up at the night sky, cheeks pinking despite herself. “Me either,” she whispers, the weight of the words reverberating through her.

Chapter Text

Kara stands in front of Lexie’s office door, nervous now that she’s so close to seeing her again. She takes a deep breath, and knocks.

“Come in!”

Kara’s lips twitch upward at the cheery tone of voice as she pushes the door open and steps inside. This isn't the lavish private study Lexie took her to the first night they met, a more minimalistic design inside the airy room instead.

Against her will, her breath catches when she sees Lexie standing in front of a wall of windows, haloed by the afternoon sun, long, tousled hair falling in waves over her shoulders. She’s wearing a light gray relaxed-fit tee tucked in ankle-length pants. They are tight, pale pink. Kara is pretty sure she's never seen Alex wearing that shade. The soft combination of colors just makes Lexie seem so bright and approachable. Attractive. There's make-up involved too, and Kara can't help but wonder if Lexie purposely made an effort, or if that's just how she dresses at work every day. She seemed at ease sporting expensive fashionable outfits last time, after all.

When Lexie clears her throat, Kara realizes she's been staring in silence for far longer than what's deemed appropriate. Rao, here she is, already blushing, not that Lexie seems to mind, if her lip biting is any indication. Kara’s heartbeat speeds up. She takes solace in the fact that Lexie's is pounding just as hard. Knowing that is cheating somehow, Kara is aware, always has been, but it's reassuring nevertheless to know she's not the only one affected here.

Okay. She can do this. She came here with a precise goal in mind.

“Hi,” she exhales, ignoring the anxious breathy quality of her voice.

“Hey Kara, you're right on time.” Lexie smiles, stepping away from the wall of windows. “How are you?”

“Good, good. I'm… good.”

“Right.” Lexie chuckles, tilting her head and appraising her nervous companion with bright smiling eyes. “I trust the flight wasn't too tiring then. Would you like something to drink?”

A mini liquor bottle appears out of thin air, but it's far more probable Kara was just too busy gawking at Lexie to take in other details. She blushes at her own thought.

“O-oh no, thank you. I shouldn’t drink and fl—drive, drive! That's—unsafe.”

The smile drops from Lexie's lips. “What? You drove here? Kara, I explicitly told you I could have got my driver to pick you up from the airport. Did you rent a car?”

“It's fine, it was a friend's,” Kara hurries, hoping to brush the topic away before she's forced to lie once more, cursing herself inwardly. Should’ve just said yes. “But thank you.”

Lexie half glares good-naturedly, such an Alex expression that Kara nearly loses her breath.

“Alright, but do let me know if you need a lift. Ever.” With that, Lexie turns to her L-shaped desk, producing a glass. “If you don’t mind then, I’ll have some,” she says as she pours herself what seems to be just a bit of whiskey.

“Um, sure.”

At Lexie’s urging, Kara sits on the comfortable padded chair in front of the desk.

The first minutes are fine, and Kara bleeds out the tension from her body when it's apparent the ease they initially had is still here, despite everything.

Words fly easily. At some point Lexie moves to stand next to her, back turned to the desk, their legs inches away from touching.

“I'm so glad you're here,” she murmurs after a lull in their small talk, voice soft. “I didn't think I'd get to see you again.”

“Yeah… me neither.” Kara feels warm and Lexie’s proximity isn't helping. She swallows at the intense look Lexie gives her. She's stalled enough. “I actually came here because I wanted to speak to you about something.”

“So you said.” Lexie's posture is still relaxed, and Kara braces herself at the idea of ruining the easy mood they've been in.

She has to, if she ever wants the chance to explore whatever this is between them.

“I just…” Kara fidgets with her hands, looks away, her gaze settling on a painting of a ballerina hanging near the door. Is that an original Degas? Kara gives a quick shake of her head. Quit stalling. “I-I've been thinking about our… date these days.”

“Me too,” Lexie cuts in, leaning forward slightly, eager now. “I haven't been thinking about much else.”

The confession is much more candid than Kara was expecting so she doesn't immediately register Lexie stepping closer to reach for her.

As soon as she does, though, Kara leans away in her chair. She breaths out. Lexie's stare is all kind of powerful, questioning, now, as she lowers her hand and takes a step back from Kara.

Kara pushes her glasses up on her nose as she looks up into Lexie’s eyes. A direct approach is better here. “Do you remember what happened in the car ride…” There's no softening. “That made me uncomfortable.”

Lexie frowns and leans back, crossing her arms. The stance is so Alex that Kara almost misses Lexie’s reply. “What?”

Kara forges ahead, knowing she has to get this out now if they want to be able to continue the relationship they’ve only just started. “I didn't appreciate that I had to push you away multiple times there at the end. I get that you—we drank, but Lexie, that wasn't okay.”

It's obvious that Lexie is blindsided by what Kara is saying. It's written all over her face that she was hoping Kara meant something quite different when she mentioned the night spent together. Her arms clench tighter around her torso. She opens and closes her mouth, unable to come up with any answer to that.

Kara looks down, reminds herself that this isn’t Alex she’s talking to. “It was just, too fast for me… too forceful.”

She ignores the fact that she too fought against enjoying the sensations Lexie was pulling out of her, before freaking out when Lexie tried to jump straight ahead and kiss her. It didn't matter her reasoning, nor her super-powers in that moment. When she said no or moved away was where Lexie had to stop.

Kara knows they need to have boundaries if this is to keep going. She's already spread thin as it is. She can't be overwhelmed all the time if she wants to get to know Lexie better.

“I'm sure that's not what you meant, but...” Kara’s fingers twist in her lap. She takes a breath in, nervous at Lexie's silence, and glances back up at those familiar features. “I just wanted you to know.”

Lexie, staggered, runs her fingers through long hair, tugging at the end. Features twisted regrettably, her face goes through different emotions all too fast for Kara to decipher, but when her brows do narrow, Kara steels herself against a defensive retort.

It never comes.

“Fuck. Fuck, I'm an asshole.” Kara winces at the quiet admission. “I'm so sorry, Kara. I-I've… I had no idea…” she struggles for words, immediately putting a noticeable distance between them, walking around behind her desk, fingers fumbling for her glass.

It’s for the best, but it hurts Kara to see Lexie unable to even meet her eyes now. Watching a distressed Alex always leaves Kara feeling helpless too, and this isn't any better. “Lexie…”

“It's fine.” Lexie flutters her fingers in Kara’s direction as she pulls a bigger bottle out of her drawer. “No, I mean… it's not. Just… it's a good thing you told me,” Lexie mumbles behind the glass she's just refilled, “thank you. Truly.”

Kara watches her take gulp after gulp, fighting against the urge to reach out and take the drink from her hand.

“I thought…” But Lexie trails off, as if lost to the memories of that night. She shakes her head, attempts an empty version of her earlier smiles as she finally turns fully back to Kara. “Well, it doesn't matter what I thought.”

The next couple of minutes are painfully awkward, because Lexie just doesn't talk and Kara isn't sure anymore it was a good idea to have this talk in person. She isn't well prepared to deal with the aftermath of it, she's realizing.

Lexie is leaning against one of her windows, head bowed, when she speaks. “I just… I hope you can accept my apology, which I know won't magically wipe the slate clean,” she says, quietly, finally looking up from her glass. “Just, I'm sorry, Kara. If…” she takes a deep, shuddering breath, fingers whitening around her glass, “if you've decided you don't want to see me again after that, I'll completely understand.”

“I never said that,” Kara says quickly, wanting to make sure Lexie gets it that she didn't come here to say goodbye. She resists the urge to go to Lexie, knowing from the way Lexie’s holding herself that any intrusion on her personal space would be unwelcome. “I wanted to make things clear, that's all.”

The impersonal little smile Lexie gives her next is one that she must have practiced and strutted around a million times, and it looks suspiciously familiar. Kara's stomach clenches in recognition.

She tries a different approach, noticing the increase in sips taken. “It’s quite early.” Kara nods in the direction of the whiskey bottle.

Lexie tightens her lips at that, frowning as she looks inside her glass. “Yes, you're right,” she murmurs, glancing at her expensive watch for a moment. “It's just lunchtime, after all.” She pushes herself off the window and frees her hands, wiping them down nervously on her pants. Lexie rounds the desk to approach Kara in measured steps, still keeping some space between them. “On that note, if there's nothing else, I won't keep you any longer. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciated it.”

Despite herself, Kara rolls her eyes. Way to be stubborn. It must be a trait in their DNA, she surmises with a wry smile.

“Lexie,” she starts, searching hazel eyes, “I didn't fly here just to talk about this.”

She knows she shouldn’t trust Lexie – who's an almost stranger – just because she has the same face as her favorite person, but the way the woman looks at Kara is breathtaking. She looks small, but hopeful.

It's hard to resist.

She stands up, makes a quick decision. “Can we go somewhere else? You said it, it's time to eat and I'm quite famished.” She grins, hoping to put Lexie at ease again.

Kara watches Lexie swallow at her suggestion, brushing her fingers together in a rather anxious manner.

“Are you sure? I'm not asking anything from you here. You don't have to—”

“I want to.” That shuts her up fast. “I don't hate you Lexie, quite the contrary. If I didn't care, I wouldn't be here. Let's go.”

Lexie nods, turning to pick her cream white blazer from her chair. “I know a place.”

--

With food around, Kara finds it easier to breathe and just relax, lost in the delicious smells and the soft chatter as background noise.

This restaurant, Lexie told her, is famous for its four ingredients easy recipes. It's near the building of her company, and Kara is glad they got the chance to walk for once.

Lexie still seems pensive though, subdued, and doesn't offer much for conversation starters as they both sip their waters. Kara isn't surprised, but finds herself missing the cocky attitude shown the previous week. She picks up her menu and opens it.

“Do you eat here often?” Kara peeks around the side of the menu. Lexie hasn’t bothered to pick hers up, obviously already knowing what she wants.

Lexie shrugs, one hand gripping her drink tighter than necessary. “When I can, yes.”

Kara lowers her menu and narrows her eyes playfully. “Do you mean there are days you don't eat?”

Lexie cracks a little lopsided smile then, her grip relaxing minutely. “I meant that sometimes I just get someone to bring the food over.” Lexie pauses and takes a drink of water. Kara’s eyes are drawn to Lexie’s long, elegant neck. She blushes and jerks her eyes back to her menu when she realizes she’s missed some of what Lexie’s said. “...but yes to that too. Guilty. How did you know?”

Kara can't stop herself from thinking about Alex then, and all the times her sister skipped meals to study, and how even now she would forget to eat, lost in her lab research or worrying over DEO missions. Always putting others first. But Kara’s not supposed to know Lexie like that, so she just smiles lightly.

“Um, you seem the type.”

Lexie quirks an eyebrow, but is interrupted by their waitress before she can press for more.

“Have you ladies decided what you’re getting today?”

Lexie nods, her eyes still on Kara. “I’ll have my usual.”

“Of course, Dr. Danvers,” the waitress replies, sliding Lexie’s menu off the table.

“And we’ll start with the parmesan carrots and zucchini fries.”

“Excellent choice.” The waitress turns her upper body to address Kara. “And for you?”

Whoops. Kara’s been so caught up looking, and not-looking, at Lexie that she hasn’t even made it through the whole menu yet. “Ummm,” her nose crinkles as she speed-reads the two pages. “I’d like…”

Lexie leans a tad closer for the first time since they left her office. “Do you need some more time, Kara?”

Kara shakes her head. “The mini pizzas for me, please,” she requests, handing her menu to the waitress.

The waitress nods, tucking the menu under her arm next to Lexie’s. “All right, I’ll have your appetizers out to you soon, ladies. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need.”

Lexie and Kara both murmur thanks as the waitress leaves. They sit in silence for a few moments. Lexie takes another gulp of water, almost down to just the ice cubes now. Kara lets her left hand rest around the lip of her glass, her index finger idly pushing around the straw she’d requested. Kara looks up, her eyes catching Lexie’s briefly before Lexie quickly looks away. Okay, this is getting ridiculous.

“So what’s your usual?”

“Hmm?” Lexie’s gaze is drawn back to Kara. “Oh, it’s spinach, feta, and cauliflower gratin.” Kara tries to control her wince, but Lexie catches it, if her sudden smile is anything to go by. “What’s wrong?” Lexie pushes her glass aside as she leans a little farther over the table. “Not a fan of veggies?”

“I don’t mind them too much,” Kara says with a small flap of her hand. “My sister hates them though.”

Lexie grins. “Any in particular, or just a general hatred for all vegetables?”

“A deep and abiding loathing for all plants pretending to be food is how I’ve heard her describe them.” Kara smiles too as she remembers a passionate 15-year-old Alex arguing with Eliza about eating her vegetables. The two had gone back and forth for days, spouting facts at each other from different rooms, and quoting more and more obscure scientific journals, until finally a week later Kara had come down for dinner and found a bottle of vitamins sitting beside Alex’s plate. “Two a day,” was all Eliza had said, and Alex had agreed, ecstatic with the compromise.

A finger tapping on the table brings Kara’s attention back to Lexie. The other woman opens her mouth, but before she can say anything, a plate full of parmesan veggie fries with yogurt-herb dip is slid onto the table between them. Lexie straightens up and sits back as the waitress deposits the second plate beside the first.

“Here you are, ladies,” she announces cheerfully. “I’ll bring you some more water,” she says, nodding to Lexie. “Is there anything else you need?” she turns towards Kara, who gives a quick shake of her head. “Okay, enjoy!”

“I happen to think vegetables can be rather tasty if cooked in certain ways,” Lexie says once they're alone, pointing to her dish, before cutting one zucchini in half. “I learned some wonderful vegetarian recipes in Italy, if you're interested. Maybe you could convert your sister to the dark side too.”

“Um, we'll see.” Kara fights against squirming, suddenly uncomfortable for a completely different reason. Talking about Alex with Lexie makes her feel weird, like it's something she shouldn't do. “I'm not the best cook, to be honest.”

“No? I pegged you as a good cook, with your obvious love for food,” Lexie says with a little smile. Kara tries not to blush.

“It's more that I'm often way too busy to cook, yeah.”

“Ah, all that reporting.”

Okay, now Kara is blushing. She can tell Lexie is curious about her job as journalist, but she's happy the woman is back to her teasing ways, at least in part.

They are on the right track. All she has to do is keep on talking.

“So, um, are things better with your assistant?” she asks, remembering Lexie mentioned an argument with him, the first night they met.

“Executive assistant. Brian wouldn't like that,” she quips, grinning. “We talked. I Iike setting up meetings and travel myself. Supervising the staff. He called me a control freak.” She laughs, “Not far from the truth.”

Kara thinks of calling Cat a control freak to her face and almost winces again. “A good assistant can be critical to the success and wellbeing of the CEO and company.”

“I know, I know. I told Brian I need him.” Lexie makes a face, making Kara laugh. “I can't, after all, perform a million tasks and still have time for my actual job.”

Kara isn't sure Alex ever so freely admitted needing help. The word can't sometime disappears from her sister's vocabulary.

Kara picks up a carrot and looks at it briefly before tossing the whole thing in her mouth. She chews slowly. Her expression must give something away, because Lexie laughs as she leans back in her chair.

“Not a fan?”

Kara tugs on the stem of her glasses and gives a one-shouldered shrug. “I think I just prefer mine in potsticker form,” she admits, picking up another fry.

Lexie smiles slightly and pushes the plate closer to Kara. “Here, try it with the dip. It’s much better, I promise.”

Kara tries to ignore the way Lexie's gaze settles on her as she dips her fry and chews. Lexie raises an eyebrow, expectant. “Better,” Kara concedes. She's reaching for another when their waitress appears, setting a plate on the edge of the table.

“Mini pizzas. Careful,” she cautions, sliding the plate in front of Kara, “it's hot.” She turns to Lexie. “Yours will be out shortly, Dr. Danvers.”

Kara stares at her plate. The five tiny pizzas stare back at her. I could fit three of those in my mouth at once.

“Something wrong?”

Lexie sounds concerned. Kara shakes her head. “Nope.” She tosses a pizza in her mouth and smiles as she chews. Kara picks up her plate and offers it to Lexie. “Wanna try one?” Lexie stares at her, eyes wide. Kara wiggles the plate a little. “What?”

“Kara!” her voice is slightly strangled. “Isn't that hot?”

Kara flushes as she lowers the dish. Oops. “Oh, it's not too hot.” She nonchalantly shoves another pizza in her mouth.

Lexie's eyes narrow as she takes a sip of water. “Mmm-hmm.”

Kara swallows and gestures to her plate. “They're really good,” she says weakly, grabbing her glass and gulping the water straight down, bypassing the straw completely. She stuffs another pizza in her mouth.

By the time Lexie's dish arrives, Kara has already ordered and finished more mini pizzas.

Lexie can't help but grin at her puffed cheeks. “Where exactly do you put all this food?”

“Oh!” Kara blushes, chewing faster than normal. “I, um, I... attend kickboxing classes pretty regularly. Yeah, nearly every day.”

Lexie raises an eyebrow, curious, impressed too. “Really? That's cool. You surprise me, Kara Kent.” Her tone is teasing but her eyes speak volume of the honesty behind her words. The soft smile she gives Kara is almost shy, unsure if it will be well-received after everything.

Kara is drawn to it, those tentative soft lips – she has to swallow down the sudden lump in her throat. With surprising difficulty, she forces herself to look away. Focus.

“You? Do you enjoy any sport?”

“Well, I run when I can, but that's it.” Lexie shrugs, movement attracting Kara's attention to her lean arms. “My life is pretty hectic normally.”

Kara isn't sure if it's a good thing that the first thought popping into her head is to compare them to Alex's more defined arms.

Her sister knows tons of martial art styles, is the fastest agent at hand-to-hand combat. The memory of Alex stunning her with Krav Maga moves the first time they trained together is still fresh. What's really Alex’s best asset, though, is her mind. She's probably the smartest fighter they’ve got going out into the field. Kara knows firsthand Alex’s quick thinking and attitude, the way she outsmarts even opponents much bigger than herself. The reason why she's the leader of a team despite her young age. Her chest burns with pride when she thinks of what Alex has accomplished.

Lexie looks on curiously when the silence prolongs. Kara shakes her traitorous thoughts away, not keen on focusing on her sister again – not now.

“That makes sense,” she murmurs.

Lexie just smiles, but Kara knows she would have joked more or flirted with comments about her training, if it were last week.

As Lexie busies herself eating her gratin, Kara ponders on whether to order more food too, not willing to expose her alien appetite even further.

She looks longingly at the plate. Despite her earlier words, she wouldn't mind trying Lexie’s dish now, but there's no fork offered this time, no tantalizing smirks.

Kara swallows when she remembers the hand-feeding at the Italian restaurant, face heating up at the memory. She can't believe it took her that long to catch on.

The clang of Lexie's fork hitting her plate is enough to startle Kara from her contemplation of the other woman. She tries to distract herself by setting her own cutlery on her plate, glad that Lexie didn't notice her prolonged staring, or if she did, that she's chosen not to mention it.

Eventually Lexie pushes her plate to the middle of the table and leans back, glancing at her watch. Kara's about to ask if everything's okay when the waitress comes up and begins clearing the table. “Can I interest you ladies in any dessert today?”

Lexie shakes her head. “None for me, I've got to get going.” Her gaze drops to Kara. “But Kara, if you'd like, you can stay and try some. I know how much you like your desserts.” Lexie smiles around the waitress grabbing the last of their plates.

Kara shakes her head. “No, I'm fine.” She hates to pass up a chance for desserts, but she's not quite ready to say goodbye to Lexie yet.

“You sure?” Lexie raises an eyebrow. Kara nods emphatically. Lexie turns back to the waitress. “Just the check then, please.”

The waitress holds out the black folder, and Kara uses just a tiny burst of super speed to grab it before Lexie can. Lexie blinks at her empty hand, as if stunned, then looks at Kara. “I was going to get that,” she says with a small huff.

Kara smiles. “I know, but you paid last time,” she says, pulling a credit card out of her purse and slipping it into its slot before handing the whole thing back to the waitress. The prepaid card and a short note had been waiting for her when she came through the portal yesterday to set up her meeting with Lexie. The note was signed by Felicity and Thea, along with a p.s. to let them know if she needed anything else. Barry's friends are so nice. I need to thank them soon. Kara looks back at Lexie. “Besides,” she continues, “I'm the one who asked you out today.”

“I suppose you have a point,” Lexie concedes, crossing her legs as she leans back in her chair. She pulls out her phone and quickly begins typing.

Kara fidgets restlessly across from her, fingers twisting in her lap. She clasps her hands together, stilling them, as the waitress returns with a copy of the receipt to sign. Kara puts a tip and an illegible scrawl on the check and closes the booklet on it. She looks back up at Lexie, who’s sliding her phone into her purse.

“You gotta be somewhere?” Kara asks, a touch dejectedly.

Lexie smiles briefly. “Kinda, yeah. I was just checking in with Brian,” she says, pulling out her lipstick and reapplying it. Kara tries not to stare. Lexie pops the cap back on and tosses the tube back in her purse. “But I need to get back to the office regardless, got a project to finish, emails to send and whatnot.”

“Oh.” Kara tries to keep the disappointment out of her voice, but isn't quite successful. Her fingers tap restlessly on the table. “Okay. I'm, um...” Kara fumbles with her purse and jacket as she stands, “I'm sorry for taking up all your free time. Let me walk you back to the building, at least.”

Lexie nods and shrugs on her blazer as she stands up. She reaches behind her neck to free the hair that’s gotten caught under the collar and fluffs it out as they exit the restaurant and start walking back in silence.

Kara stuffs her hands in the pockets of her jacket as they maneuver around people on the sidewalk. She ducks her head and looks at Lexie out of the corner of her eye. The wind keeps whipping Lexie’s hair across her face and she’s constantly pushing it back behind her ear as she determinedly stares straight ahead. They pause at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change.

“Are you expected somewhere?”

Kara’s so startled that she raises her head and looks directly at Lexie. “Hmm?”

Lexie turns her head just enough so that Kara can see her eyes. “Are you meeting your friends later?”

“Ah, no, no,” Kara breathes out quickly, stumbling over the curb as they cross the street. She rights herself and straightens her glasses. “I'm totally free for now.”

Lexie takes note of the barely concealed eagerness. Her lips quirk upward as they stop in front of her building. “Would you like to see what I'm working on?”

That's unexpected. Kara nods a tad too furiously, cracking Lexie's defense. She laughs at Kara and shakes her head as she pulls on the door and holds it open for Kara. Lexie gestures with her free hand. “After you.”

--

Lexie passes her an image as she fishes some keys out of her drawer. Kara squints at it, trying to understand what exactly she's seeing.

“Do you know what additive manufacturing is?” Kara shakes her head in negative. “You may have heard it called 3D printing. Basically, it's the process of building an object, layer upon layer by adding material. This is contrasted with the more traditional manufacturing techniques where the extra material, so to speak, is removed to produce the final shape.” Kara doesn't know where Lexie is going with this, but she can't help being interested, Lexie’s voice as soothing as young Alex teaching her English slang, reading her stories late at night once they grew closer.

The familiarity puts Kara at ease.

“AM technologies are used in a wide range of industries, and they've entered the routine of space engineering too. That,” Lexie perches on the corner of her desk and nods to the image Kara is still holding, “is a close-up of a 3D-printed titanium lattice cube.” Her voice grows more animated as she points at some of the details. “See, it's hollow with a complex external geometry, making it incredibly light while remaining stiff. It couldn't have been manufactured in a single part, normally.” Kara simply nods, thinking back to Krypton’s Science and Art Guilds, engineering and architecture focused, cultivating brilliant minds.

It seems any version of Alex would have fit in right there on her planet. Her heart clenches painfully, like it always does, at the thought.

Lexie hops off her desk and steps past Kara, opening her door and motioning Kara back into the outer office. “The most important properties of a material used in space are strength and stiffness,” she continues as she pulls the door shut and locks it. “When an object is in orbit, after all, it's subjected to incredible forces that will tear apart weaker structures. But it's pivotal to also have a material that can maintain its shape despite temperature changes and the vacuum of space.”

She steps up beside Kara and they walk together toward one of the elevators.

“So, a huge advantage of 3D printing is the tech's ability to manufacture hard-to-build items. The lightness and stiffness of this ball, not to mention its dimensional stability, make it a good material for building structures like ultralight satellites.” Lexie glances at Kara out of the corner of her eye as they stop in front of the elevator. She pushes the down button, then turns to face Kara. “That's my project.”

“Satellites?” Kara echoes, impressed.

Lexie nods. “Most companies don't build their own satellites. Phaenomena is not most companies,” Lexie says with a proud smirk as the door slides open. She gestures Kara in ahead of her. Lexie steps in the elevator and pushes one of the lowest buttons. “We design and build our satellites in-house because it allows us to load them with the latest technology and iterate when needed.”

Kara leans against the back wall and grins at Lexie's enthusiasm, her usual confidence back full force now that she's talking about her job, which she clearly loves. It's refreshing.

“We're endorsed by NASA, remember,” Lexie adds with a wink.

She casually leans against the side wall, regarding Kara with bright eyes. Her enthusiasm is contagious, making Kara feel lighter too, probably for the first time today. She wants to keep Lexie talking, further this easiness that seems to be developing, so as the elevator begins its descent, Kara clasps her hands together in front of her and asks, “So what sort of material do the 3D printers use?”

Lexie grins. “In general, 3D printers expel streams of heated plastic, metal or other material. Our printers, originally delivered back in 2015, instead heat a relatively low-temperature plastic filament to build parts.”

Lexie stares up at the mirrored ceiling for a moment. “Managing the low-temperature feedstock was our first step.” She shakes her head and looks down, folding her arms across her chest. “Of course, there were a lot of tests that needed to be run, given the extreme temperatures and zero gravity conditions once out of Earth’s atmosphere, but the material worked fine.”

She blinks and glances over at Kara. Kara smiles back encouragingly. “That sounds like a big risk, trying something completely different.”

Lexie nods. “It was, but we found that this way also requires fewer manufacturing steps, and less material and energy overall, making it a greener process as well. It overcame various problems manufacturing for space has traditionally faced. Plus, making whatever parts we need all by ourselves is an enormous advantage in terms of time, and in terms of ability to do things that we could… only dream of before, really.” Lexie shakes her head, as if in awe too, smiling softly.

The elevator dings and stops multiple floors downstairs.

“Where are we?” Kara asks, taking in the long hall ahead of them, with several large, imposing doors.

Lexie holds the elevator door back for Kara, then steps out beside her and leads her down the hallway. “This isn’t Phaenomena’s only building. We work in another facility here in Central City, in the outskirts of the city. That's where our biggest printers are stored. I can't show you those, but we use smaller printers here too. Mostly for some rapid prototyping.”

“Oh.” Kara thinks about all the floors they just passed. “So what else is this building used for?”

Lexie slows so that she’s in step beside Kara. “It's dedicated to training, as well as the development of designs and applications. We built it up with offices and the labs in their own portions too. And of course, business, can't forget about that part. My office is quite roomy.”

Kara wonders what purpose Lexie's private studio has then, with its intimate setting and lavish design. The elegant sofa, the bar cart—it's meant to seduce, Kara thinks, but bites her tongue.

She watches as Lexie uses the key picked from her office to open one of the doors, stepping aside to let Kara enter first.

A laboratory is revealed to her eyes. It seems Lexie is taking her toward a 3D printer the size of a microwave.

On the desk dozens of research papers and notebooks are scattered about. For some reason Kara was expecting a tidier space. As Lexie turns a nearby computer on, Kara takes in the details of the room.

“Sit, please.” Lexie motions to a chair with one hand, turning to look at Kara for just a brief moment. Kara rolls her chair closer, stopping just shy of Lexie’s. Lexie turns to her, a brilliant smile lighting her face. “This is the software used by our experts.” She picks up a pen and points at the screen. “The process starts with a computer-aided design model, which is then sliced apart to plan its layer-based physical construction. Anything suitable for the printing process can be designed here and then printed as an actual item in the other facility, typically by melting powder or wire materials.”

Kara stares at the large screen, never before bothering to use something similar. Her eyes quickly scan over everything she can see.

She could give this a try, it looks…fun.

Lexie is staring intently at the screen. Unwilling for their time to end just yet, Kara leans forward. “How long do you test your satellites?”

“Over 20,000 hours of technology testing, and 400+ parabolas of microgravity test flights,” Lexie answers, looking pleased that Kara seems interested enough to ask her questions.

She leans past Kara to grab something. Hand wrapped around the wireless mouse, she opens up a file to show Kara.

“So, the satellite’s a cylinder.” Lexie absentmindedly taps the pen against her cheek. “I suppose it can be compared to the spinal cord of a human being, as it provides the mechanical support for all the equipment, and the propulsion tanks. With our optimized structure, a mere 110-pound cylinder can carry satellite equipment with a mass of up to four-and-a-half tons and still handle the accelerations and loads of a space launch. Efficient, ultralight satellites,” she summarizes, still so content in just talking about this.

It's no wonder she became so successful so fast.

Truthfully, Kara stares at her more than at the screen. Happiness has always been beautiful on Alex. That intense look on Lexie’s face is so familiar, the passion radiating from her like a magnet for Kara’s eyes.

“I'm sorry if I'm boring you,” Lexie suddenly says, chuckling nervously, hand at the back of her neck as she glances away. “I've been babbling nonstop…”

Kara can't help it. Her heart leaps to the light of that familiar little smile and nervous gesture. She bends her head, hides her own grin—shoving the pouring of eager fondness to the back of her mind.

“It's–no...it's fine, really.” Kara clears her throat. “My dad was a scientist too, actually. Um, so is my sister. I went to a lot of science fairs with her. This doesn't bother me at all.”

And for the first time since she came here earlier, she reaches out with her hand, initiating contact with Lexie herself for once. Her fingers brush the hand wrapped around the mouse, feel it tense for a moment, before her own hand rests on top of it, and Lexie just stills.

They're quiet for a few moments. There’s something itching at the back of Kara’s mind, but she ignores it and leans closer to Lexie.

“What made you decide to start the company?” Kara whispers, as if not to break the moment, hands still touching.

“I, um, after graduation I worked on several microsatellite projects at Star City Spacecraft Laboratory. I loved it and I saw the commercial potential in the technology.” Lexie stares at their hands, an unreadable expression gracing her face. “That's why I sought an accelerated MBA programme. Then I met Tori, a mechanical engineer, and well… the rest is history.”

Kara bites her lip. Lexie sounds uncharacteristically bashful. “That's a lot.”

“Yeah, I’m a big nerd,” Lexie says with a laugh, shrugging almost self-consciously, as if all she's achieved is not impressive.

That tickling feeling is growing stronger, and Kara finds it impossible to ignore. A memory of years ago surfaces. She doesn't remember where the science fair was or what Alex did to win that time, just her blinding smile and shining eyes.

Kara’s bouncing on her toes, waiting for the throng of people in front of her to move so she can find Alex. She sees her sister suddenly in a break in the crowd, face flushed and eyes searching the room. Kara waves frantically and a smile breaks out on Alex’s face as her gaze settles on Kara. Kara’s face mirrors Alex’s, smiles on both as Alex cuts around a large group and skids to a stop in front of Kara.

“Alex!” Kara says excitedly, wrapping her arms around her sister and squeezing her exuberantly as she lifts her slightly and spins her around.

“Kara!” Alex mimics, a bit more breathlessly. She laughs and shoves Kara’s shoulder. “Put me down!”

Kara slows and carefully sets Alex down. There’s a huge smile on her face as she looks at the trophy in Alex’s hand. “You won!”

Alex flushes, her free hand scratching the back of her neck. “Just second place.”

Kara hugs Alex again, careful not to lift her this time, despite the excited thrumming in her veins that tells her to show off her powers. “Yeah, but in the whole state! That’s amazing, Alex.” Kara smiles proudly as she tucks her arm through Alex’s and pulls her out of the press of bodies and over to a nearby wall.

If possible, Alex’s blush deepens when Kara steps back. “Yeah, I guess so,” she murmurs, clearly pleased. She bites her bottom lip and tucks a long strand of hair behind her ear. “The judges said mine was really innovative.”

“Of course they did.” Kara nudges Alex with her elbow. “They could tell you’re the smartest one here.”

Alex leans one shoulder against the wall and ducks her head. “I don’t know about all that,” she mutters.

“You are!” Kara replies stoutly, her hand wrapping around Alex’s bicep and squeezing for emphasis. “Even people who’ve just met you can tell how amazing you are.”

Alex looks up and rolls her eyes good-naturedly. “You’re ridiculous,” she murmurs, reaching out to straighten Kara’s collar.

“I’m also right,” Kara says, the skin of her neck warming as Alex’s fingers brush over her collarbone.

A large smile stretches Kara’s face as she grabs Alex’s hand and laces their fingers together. Here, alone with Alex, it's perfect. She feels so light she surreptitiously glances down to make sure her feet are still on the floor. When she looks back up Alex has shifted closer. Kara feels Alex’s breath dance across her cheeks as she stares into Kara’s eyes. A tremor runs through Kara’s body. Or maybe it’s Alex who’s shaking, she’s pressed so closely to Kara now that she’s having trouble discerning where she ends and Alex begins. Kara blinks slowly. Unbidden, her body sways forward slightly.

“Alex!” The voice is so loud and close that Kara drops Alex’s hand and stumbles back a step, eyes wide as she glances around the emptying room.

Alex blinks, hand still half-outstretched in front of her, before she looks past Kara. “Hey, Vicky!”

Kara shakes her head, a bit disoriented by how jarring Vicky’s sudden appearance is. She doesn’t miss how Alex’s eyes light up and her shoulders straighten as Vicky brushes past Kara to give Alex a quick hug.

“I see congrats are in order, ya big nerd,” Vicky teases, grabbing Alex’s trophy for a closer look. “Hey, Kara,” she tosses casually over her shoulder as she leans against the wall between the two sisters. “Second place, not too bad.” She punches Alex in the shoulder.

A quick rush of anger burns through Kara, startling her in its intensity. Her fists clench at her sides. Where had Vicky even come from? She hadn’t stopped by Alex’s display this afternoon, and she definitely wasn’t there when the judges announced their decisions.

Kara takes a deep breath in through her nose as she tries to push away the haze fogging her senses. Vicky is a good person. She breathes out and looks up. The girl is still talking to Alex, her back turned to Kara, hand resting on Alex’s arm in the same place that Kara had touched her sister earlier.

Kara sucks in another deep breath. Her eyes are starting to itch. She turns to the wall and presses her palms into her eyes. Not here, not here, not here, she thinks, squeezing her eyes tighter. They’re starting to burn now. She wants to open her eyes, let the relief pour out, but she can’t, she can’t, she—

“Hey, Kara?”

She presses harder against her eyelids, her arms starting to shake.

“Hey.” Alex’s voice and touch are like a balm to the fire inside her. Alex squeezes her shoulder, her thumb stroking the back of Kara’s neck.

Kara takes a deep shuddering breath. She lowers her hands and slowly opens her eyes, blinking rapidly to clear her vision.

“You okay?”

Kara turns around. Alex is right behind her, a slight frown on her face as her hand smooths down Kara’s arm and settles on her wrist. Kara knows Alex is checking her pulse and wills her heart to slow down.

“I’m fine.” Kara glances over Alex’s shoulder and sees Vicky just a few feet away, pretending to stare at her phone.

Will it ever stop happening? Kara’s had enough embarrassing moments around Alex's friends to last a lifetime.

Vicky. Not just a friend, Alex's best friend, her mind now helpfully supplies.

Kara leans back and shifts so that Alex’s face blocks the other girl from her view. Kara offers her best smile. “Just got a little overwhelmed is all.” She steadfastly ignores Vicky as she hears the other girl walk towards them. “I just need to get out of here.”

Alex doesn’t look completely convinced, but then Vicky’s arm is around her shoulder and she’s pulling Alex tightly to her. “C’mon, nerd, let’s go celebrate.”

Alex looks torn. “We should probably get home, Mom’s supposed to be flying in tonight.”

Vicky rolls her eyes. “Oh, live a little, Danvers. It’s just ice cream.”

Kara can tell Alex is wavering. Vicky knows Alex’s weakness for the frozen dessert. “But Kara—”

“Is a big girl and can drive herself home, right?”

The back of her eyeballs start to itch again. “Right,” Kara agrees with a gritted smile. “Go, Alex,” she says, a little more normally, confused at feeling her stomach churn.

Alex blinks, then dashes forward and hugs Kara quickly, thrusting the trophy into her hands as she steps back. “Okay, tell Mom I’ll be home soon.”

Vicky spins Alex around and leads her towards the exit. “Bye Kara, tell your mom I’ll have her home by curfew,” she calls over her shoulder.

Kara can feel the phantom burn on the backs of her eyes. “Vicky Donahue,” she mutters, her eyes narrowing.

“What?”

Kara jerks back, her chair rolling a little bit with the force of her movement. She blushes as she pulls herself back up beside Lexie, who’s staring at her with a bemused expression, confused at her utterance. “I was just… I was thinking about a science fair, not that I think what you’re doing is science fair level,” Kara rushes to say, her hand pressing against Lexie's wrist briefly, “I mean, this is way beyond that,” she assures Lexie, waving her arm at the room for emphasis.

Lexie raises an eyebrow, an amused smile on her face now.

“But yeah, there was this science fair and there was this girl, one of my sister's friends, actually, and,” Kara stops herself and takes a deep breath. “You know what?” She shakes her head and pushes her glasses back up on her nose. “Not important.” Kara offers Lexie an embarrassed smile. “I’m sorry, what were you saying? Before I started babbling?”

Lexie smiles and leans forward in her chair, her legs pressed against Kara’s. “I don’t know, I think I wanna hear more about this science fair and mystery girl,” she teases. “Did something scandalous happen?”

Rao, now Kara’s entire face feels like it’s on fire, not just her eyes. “Nope,” she squeaks out. She just—Alex recently mentioned Vicky, and that’s the only reason this memory came up. Her eyes slide away from Lexie’s and land on the 3D printer. Kara nods her head at the device. “I thought you were gonna show me how one of these things worked.”

Lexie laughs softly, but allows the distraction. “I did say that,” she agrees, standing up. “C’mere,” she adds, her hand hovering for a moment over Kara’s elbow when Kara stands and follows Lexie over to the device.

“It's almost done.”

Kara had heard the printer start up a few minutes earlier, so when they reach the table it rests on, the small object inside is nearly finished. Lexie gestures to the clear front panel and steps aside so Kara can lean down to look into the printer.

Kara had seen something similar to this once before, in the Argo City Techno Museum. The technology was ancient then, so she'd been surprised when Alex told her on one of her first days that they wouldn't be able to just make whatever they needed, but that they'd have to go out and buy it.

Kara watches the object grow incrementally larger with each pass of the…print-y part. Kara points at it. “What’s that called?”

Lexie leans down beside Kara, close enough that her hair brushes Kara’s shoulder. “That’s the extruder. It not only heats up the building material, it distributes it as well.”

Kara glances at Lexie out of the corner of her eye. The other woman is slightly flushed, her eyes lighting up as she points to another part of the printer. This isn’t Alex’s lab at the DEO, but Kara feels that same sense of pride and contentment as she listens to Lexie talk about her project.

“…so you can see,” Lexie taps on the front of the printer, pulling Kara’s eyes back forward, “the print bed where it’s being built is also moving up and down.”

Kara stares at the printer, but finds her gaze drawn more to the reflection of the woman standing beside her. Lexie’s still talking, face animated as she discusses… something, but Kara can’t concentrate on what the other woman is saying. She’s seen this expression on Alex’s face many times, but it never fails to take her breath away, how gorgeous and passionate her sister looks when she’s talking about her work.

It’s probably one of the rare times when Alex is awake that she looks so relaxed and at peace, as she’s discussing her latest project.

Kara smiles to herself. The first time Alex had one of her nerd-outs was a few months after Kara had started school. It was already past their bedtime, but Alex was still awake reading, face haloed by the desk lamp behind her. Kara had floated across the room and settled in beside Alex, laying her head on Alex’s shoulder. They’d stayed up all night, Alex’s eyes shining as she talked about a biology experiment she wanted to work on.

The feeling she had that night, and many times after that, is hard to describe. If Kara had to give it a name she’d call it awe, but it’s really so much more than that. It’s an overwhelming, all-encompassing emotion that she only feels when she’s with her sister. But staring at Lexie’s reflection, feeling the heat of her body, listening to the cadence of her voice, that familiar feeling starts to wash over Kara.

She can feel the memories piling on, all the good moments cherished in her mind’s eye, multiple similar situations with Alex rushing in, every smile and every touch, afternoon and night, Kara simply staring as her sister talked on.

What she’s feeling, gratitude, love, comfort, the unadulterated pride for Alex and her beautiful soul, is too wild and too big for this, and it weighs onto Kara until she feels like sinking into the ground. She can’t help it. She shudders, pressing harder against Lexie’s body, lost in the familiar smell, eyes drinking in the features she’s grown tenderly intimate with, hands itching to reach for the soft long hair she’s missed, trace that defined jawline.

But the haze of her yawning longing is almost muted, the trance Kara has been lulled into by Lexie’s soothing voice creating a haven for her memories.

It feels safe to wonder here, but it doesn't last.

“...Kara?”

With a jolt, Kara startles, reverie shattering right in front of her. Her eyes widen dramatically when she realizes she’s ended up way closer to Lexie than she had meant to – mere inches between them, the space warming up fast. Lexie is frowning, cheeks pinking under the bright light of the lab.

“What is it?”

“Um…” Kara looks away, mouth dry, frantically searching around for something to explain—blame—the pounding of her heart, like a jackhammer has just been turned on right between her ribs.

What was she thinking?!

She almost…

But, she was thinking about Alex!

Kara feels her throat closing in. She can’t stay. She feels like she’ll bleed dry under Lexie’s questioning stare if she stays.

Something of her turmoil must have shown on her face, because Lexie turns completely in her direction, hand extending to reach out and touch her.

Kara isn't sure who backs away first, but it doesn't matter. Lexie's arm falls at her side all the same as Kara jumps away, needing space and time to think.

She really, really needs to leave.

“I–I, um... I just remembered I actually do have to meet my friends soon,” she says, barely able to hear herself over the odd echo ringing in her ears. “I’m sorry to cut this short.”

Alex’s—Lexie’s, just Lexie’s—voice, laughter, is still booming in her chest. It’s like a thick black curtain has fallen around her head, and Kara can only blindly try to escape it. She walks on unsteady feet to the door, nearly using her superspeed.

She doesn’t notice the way Lexie’s face falls, how her mouth parts in confusion. She just has to leave, now.

She’s briskly heading towards the elevator they used just before, when the door behind her is pushed open.

“Kara, wait!”

Kara forces herself to slow down, plastering a friendly smile on when she looks back. She still feels queasy, but the familiarity of Lexie’s heartbeat is a pull impossible to ignore.

Lexie catches up with her, lower lip bitten red. She meets Kara’s eyes, gingerly taking her hand and pressing something right in the center of her palm. The contact is brief, but Kara feels its warmth all through her arm.

She glances down. It’s the 3-4 inches star pendant Lexie was printing, she realizes, golden plastic polished to reveal a smooth surface. She brushes her fingers against one of its five points.

“You forgot this,” Lexie murmurs, softly.

“Oh.” Kara doesn’t look up, just continues stroking the small star.

“You can keep it,” Lexie says, almost apprehensive, still looking at Kara as if to gauge her mood.

Kara curls her fingers around the piece of plastic, all five points digging into her palm. She blinks and finally glances up at Lexie. “Thank you,” she whispers.

“I should thank you. For what you told me earlier, I… um, I’ll think about it.” They stare at each other for long seconds before Lexie takes a step back, hand scratching the back of her neck. “You should go,” she offers.

Kara lets out a breath, restlessness flooding her body once Lexie steps away from her. “Yeah,” she agrees, jerking her thumb behind her, “I–I need to go meet—”

“Your friends.”

“Yeah,” Kara nods vigorously and turns back towards the elevator, taking the final few steps and punching the up button. She bites her lip as she stares at her distorted reflection in the elevator doors.

Lexie’s voice is tentative behind her as she takes a step closer. “Will I ever see you again?”

Kara’s fists clench involuntarily at her sides. She can feel the points of the star start to curl up as she crushes it, so she takes a deep breath and relaxes her hands. Kara turns back to Lexie, her whole body thrumming, poised to flee again.

There are millions of ways this could go wrong, but Kara can't deny that she does want to meet Lexie again, get to know her better. Despite her inner turmoil, the answer comes easy, especially when presented with this new side of Lexie.

“Yes.” She doesn't let herself question it. “Yeah, I'd like that. I'll call you, okay?” She smiles at Lexie, who seems to relax at that.

“Alright. I'll be waiting,” Lexie replies with a small smile of her own as the doors slide open behind Kara.

Kara stumbles backwards into the elevator, her head spinning as she pushes the button for the lobby. She looks at Lexie one last time as the doors start to close. Lexie lifts her hand and wiggles her fingers in a half-wave.

Once the doors close completely and the elevator begins its smooth ascent, Kara slumps against the back wall, her head lolling forward. She takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes.

Is it possible to feel both drained and wired up? All after one afternoon in Lexie's company. This hasn't gone exactly as Kara imagined.

She's not even sure anymore if it's a good thing or bad.

Chapter Text

Except she never calls.

Kara is well aware she should have waited longer, thought it over, before telling Lexie she’d agree to meet her, but overcome by everything, the plethora of emotions she felt at talking with the woman again had Kara reacting impulsively.

When all is said and done, though, Kara doesn’t quite feel ready to look into such a familiar face and pretend.

Pretend things are fine at home, with her Alex. Pretend the realization isn’t still blinding. That the confusion is something she can deal with.

She stares at Alex and Maggie and only feels something akin to pain.

It's odd.

The feeling is weightless, intangible but not unfamiliar, and Kara cannot express it right—it's like a disease, slicing her in half, forcing her bruised heart to make a decision. But Kara doesn't quite know how to lessen this burden, bring relief to her chest whenever Alex is around Maggie.

All she seems to do lately is trail behind them, one step out of sync with their happiness.

And it's funny, like a vicious kind of inexplicable irony, this stupid not-quite possessiveness she has over Alex now, this utterly unjustified feeling, knowing that she has to share her. It makes no sense whatsoever when she was the one who first pushed Alex to find love. Look after herself for once.

So Kara is angry, at herself.

She wonders if this is how Alex felt when Clark came to town.

She resolves to do—be—better

It's temporary, it must be.

--

“Late night?”

It’s barely more than a breath, just whispered out of the side of Alex’s mouth, but Kara hears her loud and clear. She skids to a stop beside her sister, hoping no one’s noticed her late entrance. “I had… work… stuff,” Kara mutters in reply, shaking her cape out from where it’s tangled around her arm.

She really doesn’t want to be here, pressed next to Alex, not now, not when she’s still reeling from her completely confusing day with Lexie. Kara had gotten hardly any sleep, thoughts still wrapped around the heart-stopping events of just a few days ago, when her phone had lit up, showing several missed calls and texts.

J’onn clears his throat pointedly. “Now that we’re all here…”

He stares at Kara with a raised eyebrow. She straightens hurriedly, throwing her shoulders back and giving him a firm nod. A slightly softer stare is his only response before he turns to the monitors behind him and pulls up several photos. Kara can feel the agents around her leaning in, their attention completely focused on Hank.

“As you all know, alien activity in National City has increased since the Alien Amnesty Act was signed,” J’onn began.

“Woo, aliens,” Winn cheers, offering his fist to Kara. She bumps it absent-mindedly and he stumbles back a step, shaking his wrist.

J’onn ignores them and continues on. “But recently there’s been an uptick in suspicious sightings and burglaries committed by non-human perpetrators.” J’onn points at two blurry photos. “Everything we’ve found so far suggests these incidents are unconnected.” J’onn pauses, hands on hips as he stares up at the screens displaying the small amount of evidence the DEO has managed to collect so far.

Alex steps up beside J’onn, and Kara just barely holds back a snort when Alex mirrors his stance exactly. Dork.

Alex tilts her head to J’onn. “But you don’t believe that.” It’s more statement than question. “You think they’re linked in some way.”

J’onn shakes his head. “I don’t know. Something feels... familiar, about all this, but I am unsure what it is. At any rate,” he says, turning around to face the rest of the room again, “just stay extra sharp out there.” He waves his hand. “You’re dismissed.”

As the rest of the agents break off into smaller groups, J’onn lays a hand on Alex’s arm to hold her in place. “Perhaps you could contact your friend at the NCPD, see if they have any information on this that they could share.”

Kara can see Alex’s eyes widen, but her voice is completely unaffected when she answers. “Of course, I’ll give Detective Sawyer a call right away.” Alex spins around and hurries away, so Kara is the only one who witnesses the small smile on J’onn’s face.

A cold feeling washes over Kara. She speeds out of the room and down a hallway, stopping when she comes to an empty section. She leans against a wall, letting her head thunk back. Kara dimly registers the sound of the concrete cracking behind her, but ignores it in favor of crossing her hands over her stomach and taking a deep breath.

When Kara exhales, she feels a little lighter, a bit warmer. She repeats the action again and again until she feels centered. Kara blows out a last breath and lets her arms fall to her sides. She opens her eyes. Mon-El is standing right in front of her.

“Hi, Kara.”

Punching is a reflex at this point. Kara puts her hands on her hips as Mon-El blinks up at her from the ground. “Mon-El! You can’t just sneak up on people like that.

“You hit me.” His voice is wounded as he climbs to his feet.

Kara flaps a hand. “Pfft, you didn’t even feel it.”

Mon-El continues to give her sad eyes as he holds his nose. Kara sighs and rubs her forehead. If she could get headaches, she knows she’d feel one coming on right now. “Did you need something?”

Mon-El drops his hand and smiles at Kara. He leans on the wall beside her, body angled towards hers. “I was wondering if you were free tonight. I thought perhaps we could hang out, maybe get something to eat. I know you like food.” He winks as he says the last part proudly, as though it’s a big secret he’s uncovered.

Kara stares. She knows she’s sort of taken Mon-El on as her responsibility, but she cannot handle him right now. “Not tonight, sorry, I’ve already got plans,” she tells him, which consist of me hiding in my apartment, eating ice cream, and not thinking about anything.

Kara pushes herself off the wall. “Maybe some other time,” she calls over her shoulder as she speeds away from the building and everyone inside.

--

“I hope you don't mind, but I asked Maggie to come over.”

Kara freezes, stops mid stripping, red cape falling to the ground in a heap. She feels slow for even asking, but her heart thunders at the possibility. “W-where?”

“Here, tonight. I didn't want to blow you off, obviously, but she asked if I was free later.”

Kara wants to respond, say anything, but she can't. It's like someone has suddenly pulled the drawstring on her throat, cut it off, and all she can do is blink dumbly and swallow against this tightness in her chest.

Alex’s cheeks color just lightly at her silence. “I couldn't…”

She finds her voice, stepping in, “Say no. I get it.” Kara smiles but it feels all kind of forced.

Alex shouldn't look guilty over wanting to spend time with her girlfriend, though, Kara tells herself.

Girlfriend.

The reminder makes Kara feel childish for this unnamed bitterness creeping over her. Alex has already sacrificed so much for her. Alex deserves a love life, friends, to be her own person. She shakes her head, clearing off nearly forgotten memories of approaching college time and long sulking episodes.

It's fine—it totally is!

“I'll try to limit my calorie intake tonight. Wouldn't want to scare Maggie away with my alien appetite, ha.”

Alex’s expression is unreadable for a moment, and Kara winces. Stupid joke?

“I um, I'm sure I'll find a way to keep her distracted enough for you to eat as usual.”

Kara involuntary tightens her facial muscles. Okay, no, she didn't need that mental image.

She nearly shudders, reasoning it's normal not to want to imagine one’s own sister doing… whatever Alex was implying. Or what she thought Alex was implying.

Whatever.

--

Kara tried to prepare herself for this, wanting—needing—things to go smoothly for her sister's sake, but seeing Alex around Maggie is like being hit by a tidal wave of emotions.

It's… odd.

At dinner she actually felt sidelined, in the face of the camaraderie between Alex and Maggie, too busy going over recent crime scene details to notice Kara’s growing silence.

Now she watches as Alex walks Maggie to the couch, engaging in some quiet, obviously private, conversation. It's natural. They sit as close as she and Alex would have. No, closer, sides flushed together, fingers entwined, touch just on the side of shy but eager. Kara adjusts her glasses and frowns down at the counter, trying not to listen in.

They haven't stopped touching ever since coming here. Alex is generally always relaxed in Kara's company, and the comfort of the familiar apartment is a bonus, but Kara is surprised at how quickly her sister lost the tension in her shoulders when Maggie stepped closer after coming in, planting a kiss on her cheek as greeting.

Usually Alex would refrain from any PDA, never a fan, especially in front of Kara, used to call it unnecessary when younger, but apparently Maggie is the exception to yet another thing. Kara crosses her arms, fights off the pout she can feel shaping on her lips.

Ugh.

She thought they’d have longer together, Maggie was supposed to come after dinner.

It's not that she doesn't like the detective, it's... Kara doesn't even know what's bothering her exactly. Sure, she's not the center of Alex’s attention tonight, but it's not a big deal, shouldn't be.

She’s Supergirl, for Rao’s sake.

She wills the mess of emotions to subside, and it mostly works. When she returns from the kitchen, she's able to function normally again. Well, normally enough.

She sits at the other end of the couch, her smile wavering when Alex barely turns from Maggie's direction to acknowledge her.

“So what are we watching?” Maggie asks, clapping her free hand against her thigh and reclining back against the pillows in such a laid-back manner that it makes Kara tense up.

It’s nothing new, Kara invites her friends over all the time, this isn’t a sacred place, but everything is rubbing Kara the wrong way tonight. She just can’t figure out why.

“Well, me and Kara wanted—”

“Warehouse 13,” Kara rushes in, cutting the agent off. “We’re watching that tonight.”

Alex glances at her, giving her an odd look in retaliation. “If that’s okay with you, of course.”

“Yeah, sure.” Maggie shrugs. “Never watched it, but anything is fine. Just not much of a tv viewer lately though.”

“You’ll like this,” Alex reassures, squeezing Maggie’s bicep with a soft smile.

Kara dips her head when she realizes she’s staring again, swallowing to ease the dryness of her throat.

She feels somewhat intrusive, here so close, but why?

It’s normal, to be expected even, yet unexpected in a way, the fashion in which Alex’s face lights up when she turns to Maggie, how she burns up when the detective smiles back, dimples full on display.

She was never like this with any former boyfriend.

With a startle Kara gets it. It’s so familiar, how unpracticed, free, uncontrolled Alex seems to be around Maggie. It’s how Alex acts around Kara too. Not holding back, no mask here, no serious agent in her place. Just Alex being her awesome self, like she lets herself be only around a handful of close people.

With a sigh, Kara tries to focus on the episode chosen, but it’s proving to be difficult. After a while Maggie starts asking all these… stupid... questions about a show they’re already many seasons into, right while they are watching. Or trying to, anyway.

This is why you shouldn’t invite other people to sisters night, Kara thinks huffily, crossing her arms.

And it’s like it doesn’t even matter to Alex. She’s very serious about TV marathons usually, they both are, and yet here she is, head on Maggie’s shoulder, apparently content to just miss out on parts of the episode. Kara hears them laughing, soft sounds, but it’s all she can focus on. Despite her super-hearing, Kara can’t process the quiet conversation being shared, the burning in her eyes all too scarily familiar.

With a jump, Kara leaves the couch, rushing toward the bathroom, palms pressed hard against her eyes.

Dammit.

When was the last time she lost control over her powers like this? It’s pathetic how—

“Kara!” It’s Alex, of course it’s her. “What’s wrong?”

Kara flushes at the concerned tone, at making things awkward, with Maggie here. Well, at least she thwarted a possible eyebeam incident.

“Nothing,” she says, turning on the faucet.

“Open up.”

“W-what, why. I’m in the bathroom for a—”

“Kara, please open the door. I know various effective methods of opening most resistant doors, so just… open it.”

Kara sighs, turning and obeying her older sister’s voice. She can barely meet her eyes now.

“What just happened?”

“Ah—nothing, it’s… just…”

“Kara, don’t lie to me. You ran away,” Alex lowers her voice, “like you used to do. It looked like when you didn’t yet have a complete hold on your powers, years ago.”

The memory of that science fair and Vicky resurfaces again. Kara pales.

Sometimes the fact that Alex can read and knows her so well backfires spectacularly on them. Kara struggles for an answer, but luckily Alex finds one for her.

“Maybe it’s some kind of after-effect of worlds jumping? Perhaps just of that one portal? Should we run more scans on you? You said Cisco—”

“Hey, I’m fine.” Kara does feel guilty now. She didn’t mean to cause any further worries.

“You sure? Is it… it’s not the mind control thing again?”

Kara winces and shakes her head. Great, Alex is still looking on warily, concern so obvious, painted on her face that just mere minutes ago was at its happiest.

“Seriously, I’m fine. Go back to Maggie. She’s gonna suspect something.”

“I told her you had a gross cold when you disappeared last time, it’s fine.”

Kara chuckles, of course Alex thought of everything, even amid panic. “Really.” She smiles, squeezing Alex’s hand for a second. “I’m fine, see…” She hovers from the floor, squeaking in surprise when Alex tugs at her hair.

“Then hurry. The episode is still running.”

“Yeah,” Kara says quietly, as Alex walks back to the couch. As if you were even focusing on the episode with Maggie around.

Sighing, she turns back to the sink. She splashes some water on her face, cheeks on fire with the knowledge she lacks of control over anything.

Kara grips the sides of the sink and stares into the mirror, lets her eyes glow orange for just a moment. Life hasn't been the same lately, too many changes for Kara to catch on.

Oh! She doesn't deal well with changes—that's it. Maybe it has nothing to do with Maggie.

Maybe.

When she exits the bathroom, she doesn't immediately join the happy duo at the couch, standing in the back for a moment or two to stare.

Her heart twists at the scene all the same.

Did the interactions with Lexie break her so badly, in such an unraveling that made it impossible to even enjoy a night with Alex?

Because it feels like her heart is going to crack open any second now, like it was, and is, still too much to hold in altogether.

So what if there’s another person here? What if it is someone Alex is dating? It's not the first time.

Why is this different? Kara is scared of the answer.

--

Kara doesn't mean to fidget but the restlessness in her bones makes her nervous and jumpy. She can't help but pace in the lab as she waits.

Alex is working on some evidence Maggie had collected and brought over, and Kara had tagged along—trying and failing not to feel inadequate as it took help from the NCPD for them to get ahead with their cases.

Perhaps she shouldn't have followed. Nothing feels the same lately. Not since she's met Lexie. Constantly forcing a resemblance of normalcy is tiring.

Kara shifts her weight to her other leg, once again, breathing in deeply to calm her racing heart. Every time she ends up thinking about Earth-1, her thoughts spiral and become a mess.

This is ridiculous, and she's coming across as very suspicious. She's glad Alex is leaned over her microscope at least, too busy being professional to look in her direction and question it.

“Would you stop pacing?”

Yck!

Kara nearly jumps at the voice, flushing darkly enough to match her cape. “Sorry.” She chuckles, nervous and skittish, looking away from her sister's white-coat-clad back.

“What's up with you today? Are you hungry?” At that Alex turns around, smirking at Kara in her familiar teasing way. “I know you know where I keep my secret stash, go get something to eat.” She flaps her hand in a shoo motion. “I can't focus with you buzzing around here like an overexcited puppy.”

Kara nods firmly and hurries away, opting to take the longer route, and walks back using human speed. She stops and smiles at every agent she passes. There's no rush… except… she's missed those quiet moments with Alex, just the two of them, comfortable in each other's presence.

It happened many times last year, Kara lounging around in Alex’s lab as her sister worked on something, simply to be closer to her, chatting idly as she watched on, Alex intent and focused, but always willing to humor her little sister, lending her ears and ready to offer advice if needed.

Kara smiles sadly at the memories. She's caught Alex looking at her phone twice already this morning, telltale giddy smile on her face. Her eyes always light up when Maggie texts her, no matter when or where.

This is everything Kara had wished for Alex—to feel loved and appreciated as she deserves to be. And Alex does look happy, happier than she's seen her in a long time. So why—

Guilt and selfishness burn in her stomach.

Why has she started feeling this way, just as her sister is experiencing something so beautiful for the first time?

Rao…

Kara feels drained, scoured by her confusion and the effort of keeping all these thoughts to herself – her usual confidant and emotional support the very reason for not speaking up this time.

Resolute that, yes, the decision not to visit Lexie is the best course of events, Kara marches back to the lab, head held higher.

Alex is bent over her gel electrophoresis unit, messy brown hair falling around her face as she mutters something under her breath. Munching on one of the various high-calorie bars she took, Kara closes the glass door behind her. It warms her heart that Alex keeps so much food around just for her, despite pretending she doesn't do it mostly for Kara's sake.

“What have you found?” she asks, swallowing down a piece of chocolate chip.

Alex finally looks up, rubbing her eyes as she writes something down on the notebook beside her. “I thought I found something, but this is useless.” She points to the biological sample she was examining. “It's from the scene yesterday. Got markings on the outside. I was just having a closer look, but the extracted DNA is odd. I tried again but, ugh...”

“Odd?” Kara floats over to Alex and plops down on a table beside her. “What’s weird about it?”

“It’s just, the genetic markers, I haven't seen anything like this.” Alex sounds frustrated and Kara immediately straightens in attention. “The DNA concentration was very low, only about 100 ng/mL of alien saliva…goo, whatever. But it wasn't just difficult to determinate the profile.” She shakes her head, “Maybe it's been contaminated. It almost looks like there are two different sets of DNA here. I don't know…” A sigh. “Aliens carry around so much more genetic material than humans, but not this one.”

She stands up, discarding the latex gloves she's been wearing. “Maybe I should try a basic salt extraction on one of the swabs. Hmm…”

It's equally adorable and inspiring, but Alex has been here for hours already, and Kara worries.

“Why don't we take a break, go outside and get some real food? I know it's late, but I could use a second lunch.” Kara pats her stomach with a little grin, chocolate nut bars quickly consumed. But Alex ignores her, seemingly deaf to her words as she picks up more instruments for further DNA extraction. “Alex, seriously. Trying again won't change the result.”

Despite some initial hesitation, Kara floats up and hovers close, brushing her hand over Alex’s tense shoulder. “Maybe the Science Police unit made a mistake, got the scene contaminated as you said—”

“No, Maggie took this.” Alex is quick to defend her girlfriend, involuntarily making Kara move back, hand retreating to her side. She's a good cop.

“Right, I guess maybe, um, it was one of the DEO guys?” Kara frowns, watching Alex roll up her coat sleeves, ready to wear new gloves.

This is way too familiar.

An image of Lexie appears in Kara's mind, unbidden and fast. Kara is reminded of the restaurant Lexie took her to last time, weeks ago now, how she admitted to skipping meals in order to focus on her work.

Her heart clenches painfully.

“Did you even eat lunch today?” Kara is proud her voice doesn't waver despite the inner turmoil the mere thought of Lexie brings on.

“Hmm? No, but eh, it's fine.”

“Alex! Let me take—”

The agent finally turns in her direction, smiling softly. “It's fine, really. I'm meeting Maggie for dinner later.”

It's said so casually Kara loses her breath—their new reality.

Kara doesn't mean to, but panic starts to rise and gets the best of her. Once again, this unwanted involuntary jealousy burns within, ribs seemingly too small to keep her heart beating and focused.

She backs off farther, aiming her x-ray vision toward the door to see if the hallway is clear. It is.

“Alright…” She swallows, throat dry. “I'm… um, I gotta go. Just don't lock yourself in here for too long.”

Before Alex can even open her mouth and answer, Kara has flown away, just a burst of wind left in her wake to flutter Alex's hair, a frown marring her face as she stares at the space her sister was at a mere second ago.

--

Kara fumbles with her keys before finding the right one and unlocking her front door. She kicks it shut behind her and trudges over to her couch, dropping her bag and body down into its plush cushions. She takes off her glasses and lets her head fall back, letting out a deep breath as she pinches the bridge of her nose. Snapper was… more biting than usual today. He’d called her ponytail five times and cardigan twice.

She's glad there's the weekend to unwind now.

Kara's phone is in her hand, thumb poised to dial Alex's number, before she even realizes what she's doing. She quickly drops the phone back in her bag. Before, Kara wouldn't have hesitated; Alex would've been her first call to talk to about her day and complain about Snapper. But that was before Maggie, before Lexie, before Kara realized that she was no longer the first person her sister wanted to confide in.

“Ugh.” Kara kicks off her shoes. One just misses the TV and the other bounces off the ceiling. She grabs her phone again and scrolls through her contacts, but quickly realizes there's no one she really wants to see tonight. Kara floats up off the couch and into her bedroom. Tonight calls for pajamas, delivery, and a good rom-com.

Kara hovers cross-legged in front of her dresser as she opens the drawer to pull out some clothes. She's got her favorite yoga pants and is reaching for a shirt when her hand brushes against something hard. It feels like her heart beats faster for a moment as her fingers close around the small object.

It's…

Kara opens her fist. Her body drops to the floor. The small star Lexie gave her is sitting harmless in the palm of her hand. Her finger trembles as she gently strokes one arm of the star, its point curled up slightly from where she'd nearly crushed it weeks before in Lexie's lab.

Kara pushes herself to her feet and walks across the room, collapsing onto her side of the bed. She’d nearly forgotten she had stored the little gift there in her drawer, hidden under many layers of different clothes. In spite of her decision not to return to Earth-1, she couldn’t bring herself to throw away this…memory.

It'd have been like crushing the last piece of possibilities.

Now, thoughts and questions about Lexie, doubts she's tried desperately to suffocate, all come flooding back in. The what-ifs smothered under her facade of control make her tremble.

Whatever she thought she had accomplished by busying herself with work these past days manifests itself in a full-body longing.

Kara bites her lip as she stares intently at the golden plastic star. She's not sure what she's even feeling anymore. Meeting Lexie again would only complicate things further, but that doesn't stop her treacherous heart from twisting and fluttering at the idea.

No.

Kara sighs in the stillness of her room, trying and failing to soothe her thoughts. Nothing could have prepared to face this mess of emotions. Her fingertips trace the surface of the star again, slowly, feeling its smooth texture, imagining Lexie's hand there with her.

Why is this so hard?

Kara curls up in a ball, all of the day’s emotions—weeks’ really—weighing down on her as her eyelids start to droop.

--

“I need to punch something.”

Winn slowly spins halfway around in his chair. Kara’s standing next to him in her full Supergirl outfit, her defined arms crossed over the S on her chest as she glares down at the computers behind him. “Hey to you, too,” he replies, pulling the earbud out of his ear.

Kara ignores him, placing her palms flat on the desk as she leans closer to the screens. “Do we have any leads yet on that weapons robbery?

Winn shakes his head. “Nothing substantial.” He scoots to the side so that he can lean back in his chair and pull open the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. “But I bet Mon-El’s hanging around here somewhere if you really wanna punch someone.” Winn digs around and pulls out a king-sized Snickers. “Here,” he says, tossing the candy at Kara, “eat this. You get a little punch-y when you’re hangry.”

Kara glares at Winn, but opens the candy bar and eats it in 3 bites. Winn raises an eyebrow. “Fine,” she grouses, snatching a bag of chips from his outstretched hand. Kara empties half of the bag into her mouth as she hops up to sit on the edge of his desk. “I do feel a little less hangry.” She swiftly finishes the bag and takes the 2-liter Winn offers, turning it up and drinking the entire thing in four long gulps. “Thanks, Winn,” she says as she crushes the empty bottle into a ball and tosses it across the room into a recycling bin. “I really needed that.”

“I could tell,” Winn answers with a laugh as he shuts his now much lighter cabinet drawer. “For a minute I couldn’t decide if the hunger or anger was gonna win out. Did you not eat enough lunch?”

“I missed lunch,” Kara replies, eyeing his file cabinet speculatively. Winn rolls his chair directly in front of it. “Plus, I skipped second breakfast.”

“But that’s your favorite breakfast!” Taking pity on Kara, Winn reaches into his drawer and pulls out a four-pound bear-shaped jar of animal crackers. He takes three for himself before handing Kara the entire container.

Kara tosses several crackers in her mouth, crunching them loudly. She blows out a long breath and hugs the bear to her chest. “I skipped it because Alex and I were supposed to have lunch together. We were gonna hit that new pizza buffet place, y’know, over near Henderson?”

Winn nods gravely. “Kara, as your friend, I consider it my personal duty to keep up with all new restaurant openings in National City. Especially ones that serve a buffet. Though calling Pizza Pizza a restaurant may be stretching it a bit.”

“But Winn, their lunch special is all-you-can-eat for five dollars. Five dollars!” She holds up the now almost-empty bear and shakes it in his face. “This probably cost you more than five dollars and I’ve already eaten most of it!”

Winn gingerly rescues the bear from her grasp. “So why no Pizza Pizza then?”

Kara runs a hand through her hair. “Maggie called, said she had a case she wanted Alex to consult on. Though I’m starting to think that’s just code for them making out,” Kara said with a slightly disgusted look on her face.

“Totes gross,” Winn agrees. Before he started working for the DEO, Winn might’ve found the idea of Alex and Maggie kissing kinda hot, but now that he’s pretty sure that Alex is his scary big sister, he really doesn’t wanna think about her macking on her girlfriend. Well okay, he isn’t dead, he can admit that the image of Alex and Maggie making out is aesthetically pleasing, but that’s it! He likes to admire pretty things, is all. And really—

“Hey, Winn?”

Fingers snap in front of his eyes. Winn jumps a bit, his chair rolling backwards as he shakes his head. “Yep! Yeah, definitely gross, agreed.” Kara’s looking at him with her squinty face, her head cocked to the side. Winn scoots forward and grabs some papers to needlessly shuffle as he looks away from Kara’s gaze. “So how’s that going, anyway? The Alex and Maggie thing? I still haven’t seen Maggie at game night.”

“That’s about the only place she hasn’t been,” Kara mutters, her legs swinging back and forth as her hands grip the edge of his desk. Winn waits, knowing that whatever’s bothering Kara, she won’t be able to keep quiet for long. Kara worries her bottom lip with her teeth then bursts out, “It’s just, Alex has fallen so quickly for her. It was never like this before, when—”

“When she was dating dudes?” Winn adds helpfully.

“Yeah.” Kara runs a hand through her hair. “I mean, she’s never had a really serious relationship. I think the last time I met someone she was dating was back in high school. And that was only because he was in my fourth period geometry class.”

“Ah, theorems and proofs,” Winn reminisces as he surreptitiously tries to cover the deep handprint denting the edge of his table. He settles for propping his elbow on it and leaning closer to Kara. “But, you do like Maggie, right?”

Kara’s hands twist in her lap. “Maggie’s really nice, and she likes aliens, and she makes Alex happy. I like her, I just don’t need to see her all the time. I mean,” Kara turns her upper body halfway around to face him, “you’re my best friend, and sometimes we go all day without talking.”

Winn nods as he reaches behind his back and pulls a cardigan off his chair. “I know,” he says, casually stuffing it under his elbow and completely covering the new gouges in his desk. “Now that we’re not desk-adjacent work buddies anymore, I’m starting to actually miss your puns.”

The corner of Kara’s mouth twists up for a moment before settling back down in a downward slant. Her hands clench into tight fists on her thighs. “I know I’ll adjust. It’s just so strange. Alex is always my first call in the morning and my last call at night.” Kara’s shoulders slump as her chin drops to her chest. “But I’m not her first call anymore.”

Winn lays a hand on Kara’s clenched fist as he ducks his head to look into her teary eyes. “But this is a good thing, right? Alex having someone else in her life watching out for her?”

Kara looks up then. “No, it is, it’s a good thing. It’s all I ever wanted really, for someone to make Alex feel as special and amazing as she is. It’s just,” Kara sniffs and bites her bottom lip, “it’s harder than I thought it’d be.”

“Yeah,” Winn nods. Kara’s fist is still clenched tightly under his hand. He pats it gently. “Y’know, I bet it’s hard for Alex too. She’s got this whole big new part of her life, which is probably pretty scary for her, and now she’s gotta figure out a way to balance her Kara-time and Maggie-time. That’s probably why Maggie’s been around so much, y’know? Alex doesn’t want it to seem like she’s choosing one of you over the other.”

Kara shakes her head. “I don’t want her to think she has to choose between us. I just don’t wanna lose her.”

“You won’t,” Winn says comfortingly but sure of his words. “And hey, anytime you need to take break, think of this,” he waves a hand around the small lab, “as a no-judgement, Maggie-free zone, okay?”

“Thanks, Winn,” Kara sniffs, wiping her cheeks with the tissue Winn hands her. “I really just needed—”

A loud knock interrupts her. “Who,” Winn starts, but is answered when Maggie Sawyer pushes the door open.

“Seriously?!” Kara mumbles incredulously as Winn stands.

--

Maggie strides through the DEO’s headquarters, trying not to look as intimidated as this place still sometimes makes her feel. She waves in greeting to a couple of agents she recognizes, faces glimpsed during joint operations, but doesn’t stop to talk. She passes through two more checkpoints and takes six flights of stairs before coming to a stop in front of a nondescript door. She knocks once, then after several impatient moments, pushes the door open.

Winn, who Alex had introduced her to at the bar, is sitting at his desk, next to… Supergirl? Maggie feels her eyes widen, and hopes that’s the only sign of surprise she shows. “Hey Winn, Supergirl.” Maggie gives a little half-wave, stepping just inside the room. Supergirl nods once as she hops off the desk and goes to lean against a wall.

“Detective!” Winn exclaims as he walks towards her. “You’re here! In my lab! What are you doing here? I mean,” he slows down as he gets closer, “how can I help you?”

Maggie holds up the bag she’s been carrying. “Got some alien tech from a case I’m working. Alex said you might be able to look at it, figure out who made it, or even get it working again.”

Winn nods quickly. “Yeah, sure thing.” He sneaks a quick glance over at Supergirl. “Lemme just give it a look.”

Winn returns to his desk and upends the bag. Maggie takes a deep breath and strolls over to the superhero. “I’m surprised you’re not out with Agent Danvers,” Maggie says out of the side of her mouth as she leans back against the wall beside Supergirl.

The alien beside her snorts. “I could say the same thing,” she mutters.

Maggie smiles wryly. “Touché,” she murmurs. Maggie glances at the woman beside her. “So how long do you think it’ll—”

“Sorry, Detective,” Supergirl interrupts, pushing off the wall and standing straight. Her head cocks to the side and Maggie realizes the alien is listening to something that’s probably happening miles away.

If Maggie was feeling particularly brave she might make a comment about how Supergirl in this moment reminds her of a yellow lab she’d had when she was a kid. She leans toward Winn and opens her mouth, but snaps it shut quickly when Supergirl’s eyes turn unerringly on her. Maggie swallows. The cute puppy look is gone. The gaze that bears down on her now also makes her think of growing up on the farm; it reminds her of howls in the dead of night and flashing eyes circling the barn.

In the next instant the look has vanished and Supergirl is stepping back. “Duty calls.” She waves at Winn. “See you later.” She spares a quick glance and a slight nod to Maggie. “Detective.”

Then Maggie’s hair is fluttering in a breeze and she’s alone in the room with Winn.

--

Kara ducks to dodge a kick aimed at her head and sends a short left jab to the solar plexus of the alien in front of her, following it up with a right uppercut as he instinctively curls forward, his third chin at perfect punching height. He flops to the ground and Kara leaps over him, landing feet-first on the back of his accomplice standing 20 feet away. She pushes him to the ground and taps her comm.

“Hey guys, I’ve got the other one here if someone wants to come cuff him.” Her captive wiggles underneath her and Kara lets a little more of her weight settle on him as she takes a quick look around. The park they’re in would normally be busy, but today all it holds are DEO agents and bad guys.

“Here, I can take him for you.”

And, apparently, the NCPD.

Kara holds back a sigh as she floats up and spins around to come face-to-face with Maggie. “Detective.”

“Supergirl,” Maggie replies as she squats down to cuff the alien. She starts to read him his rights and Kara blocks her out, lifting up to scan the rest of the park. DEO agents and NCPD officers have sectioned off the area and are sizing each other up. Kara spins slowly, eyes tracking Alex as she spots her sister’s slender form stride past a playground and join two other agents standing with the cuffed alien that Kara had punched.

“That’s the only good thing about this weather.”

Kara looks back down to see Maggie straightening up. She drops soundlessly to her feet beside the detective. Maggie continues on, as though they’d been having a conversation. “It’s been so gloomy these past few days that there was hardly anyone we had to evacuate from the area.”

Luckily, Kara is spared having to respond when Alex jogs over to the two of them. “Supergirl!” she says with a big smile, laying a hand on Kara’s elbow and squeezing tightly. “Nice work today.”

Kara returns the smile, Alex’s presence energizing her in a way that nothing else can, not even the sun. She leans closer to Alex and Alex lets her hand slip around under the cape, using its privacy to touch the small of Kara’s back. Maggie’s close proximity is the only thing that keeps Kara from purring as Alex’s hand moves in small soothing circles over her back.

“Yeah, she took this guy out with her feet,” Maggie says with a little grin, nodding at the alien on the ground. She’s about to add something else when an officer motions her over and she steps away.

Once alone, Alex moves closer to Kara, turning to face her fully. She raises an eyebrow. “With your feet?”

Kara shrugs. “These boots were made for walkin’.” She grins at Alex. “And kicking alien butt.”

Alex shakes her head. “You dork,” she says with a fond smile, her hand leaving Kara’s back to brush a piece of flyaway hair back behind Kara’s ear. “How are you feeling? And don’t say fine,” she admonishes.

Kara wants to say she’s not sure how she’s feeling. That it’s too many things to name, but it begins with tired and ends with missing you. She settles for saying, “Meh.”

Alex nods like she understands everything that one word encompasses. “I bet,” she murmurs. “Three days of no sun will do that to a girl. Hey, I think we’re good here, right?” Alex leans around Kara to direct that last part to Maggie, who’s finished her discussion and is standing a respectful distance away. Maggie gives a thumb up. Alex turns back to Kara. “Why don’t you go spend some time under the sun lamps, hmm? I’ve got your blanket and pillow waiting for you.”

Kara sighs, wrapping her arms around Alex and squeezing tightly. “You’re the best,” she whispers in Alex’s ear. Kara feels a slight tremor run through her sister’s body before she steps back. “I’ll see you later?”

“Definitely. I’ll be back as soon as we wrap this up.” Alex smiles at Kara before turning to Maggie, who’s walking back towards them.

“Got the hostiles in custody, both of them using a version of this,” Maggie says, holding up the vaguely gun-shaped device as she steps up to Alex.

Alex nods, her attention fully on the tech as she takes it from Maggie. “It’s a good thing Winn figured out what frequency they were using.” She frowns as she turns it over in her hands. “Though they are able to do more with them than I thought they would.”

Maggie nods. “I know,” she says, leaning in, her head brushing against Alex’s.

Kara’s throat feels like it’s closing up. She turns her head away and coughs to try to clear it.

“But look at this,” Maggie continues, lifting Alex’s hand so she can point to something underneath it. “They’ve been modified.”

Alex’s voice is hushed. “That looks like—”

“I know.”

“But they don’t ever—”

“Exactly.” Maggie steps back, dimples flashing as she smiles at Alex. “Whaddya say? Wanna go run down a few leads, maybe knock a few heads together?”

Alex’s grin is sharp and bright. “I need to go by the DEO to check in, but then I’m all yours.”

Any warmth Kara has left flees her body. She swallows and steps back. “I’m gonna go,” she hears herself say, but her voice sounds muffled and far away. Alex flutters her fingers in response and nods slightly, her eyes never leaving Maggie’s as they both bend back over the weapon.

Kara stares at the two dark heads pressed together, then springs into the sky. She wants to hate how comfortable Alex is with Maggie, Alex, who tenses up when anyone gets within touching distance, but she can’t. This is all she’s ever wanted for Alex, right? For her to find someone to be happy with? Kara just never imagined that Alex’s happiness could make her sad.  

She flies away from the park, away from Alex, and Maggie, and up through the low hanging fog. She usually avoids flying through the clouds, unless Alex is with her, but today she reaches the first layer and floats into it, moving in no particular direction. The novelty of Earth clouds has long since worn off for Kara, but she will gladly take wet clothes and damp hair any day for the way Alex’s eyes light up every time she touches a cloud.

Kara brushes a strand of wet hair out of her face. She’s actually starting to feel a little chilled, a sure sign that she needs to get some sun. Lying alone in the sunbed is so unappealing though. Kara pauses, hovering in the middle of a thunderhead. She can feel the air pressing down on her. The temptation is stronger than ever.

Why stay on this Earth, where it’s dark and gray and everyone’s too busy for her, when she can fly right over to another one? One that’s hopefully sunny, and has people, or at least, a person, who will certainly be glad to see Kara. Kara pushes a wet strand of hair out of her eye.

She just needs to change into some dry clothes first.

 

Chapter Text

Kara takes a deep breath as she steps into the elevator and pushes the button for Lexie’s floor. There are already three other people on board, and more pushing in behind her, so she tucks herself into a back corner, making herself as small as possible, as she's used to—unthreatening, invisible. Luckily everyone else is either on their phones or refusing to make eye contact, so Kara is left alone to think about what drove her here, to Lexie. As the numbers creep steadily higher, so too does her nervousness. This was a rash decision, she's aware, so she doesn’t really know what she’s going to say to Lexie, just knows that this is the first thing she’s done in weeks that feels right.

Kara is alone on the elevator when the doors finally slide open to her floor. She squares her shoulders and walks briskly towards Lexie’s office.

“Can I help you?”

The voice comes from slightly behind her. Kara spins around to find a stylishly dressed guy approaching her. She knows, instinctively, who he is. “Hi,” she says, sticking out a hand, “you must be Brian. I’m Kara.”

Brian looks decidedly unimpressed and shakes her hand once before letting go.

Kara barely resists the urge to tug on her glasses and instead smiles at Brian. “Is Lexie in?”

“Ms. Danvers,” he says stiffly, “is currently, and for the foreseeable future, busy.”

Kara knows this game, has played it many times to protect Ms. Grant, so doesn’t get defensive or loud. She says calmly, “I think Lexie would like to know I’m here. Could you please just tell her that Kara Kent would like to see her?”

Brian stares at her for several moments, and Kara holds his gaze. “Wait here,” he says finally, turning around and knocking briefly on Lexie’s door before disappearing inside. When he returns to motion Kara forward he sniffs and says, “Ms. Danvers is extremely busy today. Please keep your meeting short.”

Kara nods as she steps past him. She can’t even feel a little miffed at Brian’s attitude; it’s nice that Lexie has somebody looking out for her. She would have done the same to any uninvited guest.

Kara steps through the door and blinks. She doesn’t see Lexie at first, the office dimmer than she’s used to, the windows all tinted so no natural light seeps in. Kara follows Lexie’s heartbeat – heard it from downstairs – and turns towards her desk, just able to make out the crown of her head peeking up over the back of her chair. “Lexie,” she breathes, stumbling forward a step before striding over to the other woman.

Lexie turns her chair around, but doesn’t stand. “Kara,” she replies, voice curiously flat, expression unreadable.

Kara pauses, fumbles with her glasses for a moment before sitting down in one of the plush chairs in front of the desk. She opens her mouth, but in the face of Lexie’s disinterested stare, no words come out.

The silence stretches on, Kara finding herself, for one of the few times in her life, completely, utterly speechless as Lexie continues to stare, legs crossed and hands tightly gripping her armrests.

This isn't the typical welcoming she reserves for Kara.

After what seems an endless moment, Lexie finally speaks, sounding incredibly wary. “Did you need something, Kara?”

Kara’s mouth opens and closes as she struggles for an answer, something to diffuse this tenseness that she’s stepped into. She’s not sure what she was expecting when she came here, but she’s starting to wish she’d thought this through a little more. “I—”

Lexie’s knuckles whiten as she grips the armrests tighter. “What are you doing here, Kara?”

Kara leans forward instinctively at the slight edge of pain in Lexie’s voice. “I–I just wanted to see how you were doing,” she answers quickly, reaching out across the desk to Lexie.

Lexie pushes her chair back, not allowing the contact. “You want to know how I’m doing?” She stands, hands resting on hips, such a familiar pose that Kara freezes, breathless for a second as Lexie strides around the desk and stops right in front of her. “That's odd. I hear nothing from you for weeks, and now you show up at my workplace, unannounced, and want to know how I’m doing?”

Kara has no answer for that, knows how it sounds, and so decides to go with the truth. “I wanted to see you.”

Lexie sighs, dropping her rigid stance, her right hand coming up to pinch the bridge of her nose as she sits back on the edge of her desk. “Look, Kara, I just—I'm really busy right now. You should go.”

Simple words. Enough to leave her breathless, throat clenching in a futile attempt to draw in air, heart dropping to her stomach at the finality in Lexie's tone.

Kara… she’s not disappointed—she’s not .

She’s just… surprised.

Her chest seizes and her head feels unbearably heavy, as Kara struggles to keep a semi friendly expression on her face. It doesn't work that well, Kara can feel her eyes stinging. She still keeps her head high though, refusing to surrender to her emotions. Not here, not now, despite the sudden blurriness of her vision, eyes looping out of focus. It's hard not to flinch under the gaze of the woman towering above her.

“I’ll see you later.”

It’s painful. It sounds more like a brush-off than a genuine offer. The words swirls in Kara’s mind as she stands up, echoing and thundering louder and louder as she murmurs a weak goodbye , ready to leave the immaculate room.

Well…

That could have gone better.

Kara walks out Lexie's office on autopilot, barely registering Brian's raised eyebrows, the plethora of emotions assaulting her making it hard to think clearly.

Rao!

Kara feels like throwing up. With her emotional well-being seemingly so compromised lately, troubles at both her jobs, all those secret thoughts that creep in during dark hours without sleep, Kara feels like she won't be able to bear Lexie’s dismissal too.

She barely keeps the sobs threatening to escape her inside her mouth, and just rushes outside Phaenomena’s building as quickly as she can at human speed.

Her hand trembles as she dials Barry's number with the phone he gave her. He picks up on just the second ring, almost as if he was waiting for her to call.

“Kara!” He sounds rather happy to hear from her and that helps Kara calm down a bit.

She smiles against the tightness in her throat, clearing it for a moment. “Hey, Barry.” She crosses the street as the light changes. “Am I disturbing you?”

“Not at all! You know I'm always here for you. What's up?”

“Um, can I stop by? It's better if we talk in person.”

“Of course.” His voice comes out teasing next, “Somebody’s been keeping things from me. I talked to Felicity last week and she just happened to mention that a certain cute alien has been visiting Earth-1. You didn't tell me or try to contact me!”

Kara colors slightly, even though Barry doesn't sound angry or hurt in the slightest. She ducks down a narrow alley between two buildings. “I'll tell you soon.” She lowers her voice, “I'll be there in a few seconds.”

His amused warm chuckle in her ear is all the confirmation she needs. Looking around to make sure she's alone, Kara takes a breath and leaps into the sky.

--

Kara’s about to land on the roof of S.T.A.R. Labs when she hears Barry’s voice coming from the warehouse instead. She rolls her eyes, but can’t stop a smile from creeping over her face as she lands just inside the door and walks over to him.

“—say, what can make me feel this way? Supergirl, Supergirl, Supergirl.” Barry gets louder as he holds out his hand to Kara. “Talkin’ ‘bout, Su-per girl,” he beckons Kara. She shakes her head, grinning, but grabs his hand anyway. “Supergirl,” he falsettos as he pulls Kara in close for a hug.

Kara squeezes him back, resting her chin on his shoulder for a few moments before letting him go. “That was—”

“Amazing? Lovely? Better than the original?”

“I was gonna say, not too bad.” Kara laughs, shaking her head.

Barry grins, his whole face lighting up. “Well, I mean, the acoustics in here are pretty spectacular,” he says with a modest shrug.

Kara shoves his shoulder, relishing the fact that she doesn’t have to hold herself back quite as much as she usually does.

“Hey!” Barry stumbles back a step, grinning, and straightens up. “You wanna see something cool?”

“Sure.” Kara’s willing to try anything that’s not thinking about Lexie.

They walk past training equipment over to a roped off corner of the warehouse. There are three large concrete blocks set inside, each one more massive than the last.

“What’s this?” Kara asks, stepping closer for a better look.

Barry holds up one length of rope and motions her under it. “This is for you,” he said, following right behind Kara as she steps up to the smallest block.

Kara lays her hand on top of the block and slowly walks around it, dragging her hand with her. She pauses opposite of Barry and raises an eyebrow as she looks back at him. “Thanks?”

Barry smiles. “Caitlin said that you talked about punching cars and cement blocks, so we thought we’d set up a training area for you.”

For the second time today Kara feels tears prick the corner of her eyes. At least this time they’re happy tears. “That’s really nice of you,” she says, her voice just the tiniest bit wobbly.

“Hey, hey.” Barry’s suddenly beside her, his hand on her elbow. “Kara, are you alright?”

Kara sniffs and shakes her head, blinking quickly. “It’s nothing.”

Barry looks like he doesn’t believe her, but he doesn’t push it. “Would punching something make you feel better?”

Kara nods gratefully. Barry gives her elbow a quick squeeze, then steps back, gesturing at the block in front of her. Kara takes off her glasses and slips them into her pocket, then throws her right fist forward at the side of the block. She blinks in surprise. She was only using half-strength, but it still should’ve done more than just put a small crack in the concrete.

Barry comes up beside her and pats the block. “Pretty cool, huh? Caitlin and Cisco came up with a small chemical additive that makes this stuff about 10 times denser than your average concrete.”

“Huh.” Kara takes a step back, and once Barry is clear, throws a quick right-left combination, satisfied when multiple cracks appear this time.

She lands several more punches, moving around to another side, before Barry speaks again. “So since our superhero team-up…” he throws his hands up when Kara stops to look at him. “What? That’s what everybody’s calling it.”

Kara blows a strand of hair out of her face and gives a one-shouldered shrug before she resumes her methodical pummeling of the object in front of her.

“So since then,” Barry continues, “you’ve come back here a couple of times, huh?”

Kara slows down, but doesn’t stop completely. “Yep.” She feels Barry looking at her, waiting for her to elaborate, but she ignores him, throwing three quick punches at the same spot. She stops for a second, eyeing the fractures she’s made. If she can come down on it at the right angle, she should be able to shear off the entire top third of this block. Kara’s about to resume her punching when a hand on a shoulder startles her.

“It’s okay,” Barry says quietly.

Kara lets out a slow exhale and turns around, leaning back against the concrete block. Barry stares back at her with an understanding look.

“I get it,” he says, stepping up beside her and mimicking her pose, leaning close enough that their shoulders brush against each other.

Kara crosses her arms and stares down at the ground. “Get what?” she mumbles.

Barry shifts slightly beside her. “Sometimes all I want is to get away from here, go somewhere where nobody knows who I am, where no one’s heard of the Flash, and just, take a moment, to breathe, and be myself.”

Kara feels a slight weight leave her shoulders. That isn’t the only reason she finds herself returning to this Earth, or even the main one, but it’s definitely something she feels, the weight of responsibility lifting just slightly when she’s not on her own Earth. It should make her feel guiltier, to relish in the anonymity here, but she can't bring herself to care. “Yeah,” she agrees with a small huff, glancing over at Barry.

He smiles back at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “So now you know, this,” he waves his hand between the two of them, “is a judgement-free zone.”

Kara sighs and slumps into Barry. “Thanks, Barry,” she mumbles into his shoulder as he gives her a gentle hug.

“Any time,” he says affectionately. He pats Kara’s back then steps away, waving her back to her punching. “So,” Barry says as Kara lets loose a powerful right hook, “if you haven’t been visiting me, what have you been doing when you’re here?”

Kara freezes for a moment, then makes herself throw another punch. “Not much,” she says nonchalantly. One more punch oughta do it. “Just did some sight-seeing, wandered around,” right about there, “visited Lexie,” she said quickly as she let loose another punch, this one disintegrating a chunk of concrete and sending the top part of the block spinning across the warehouse floor.

Barry whistles. “Nice!” He speeds across the room to stop the projectile from slamming into a stack of crates, then is back beside Kara in seconds. “Wait,” he says, turning to face Kara fully. “Did you say Lexie? You’ve been visiting your sister?”

Kara nods, and is proud of how unaffected her voice is when she answers. “Just a couple of times.”

“Whoa.” Barry shakes his head, but smiles over at her. “It’s weird, isn’t it? Seeing that face you know so well, and having to remind yourself that it’s not them.”

“Yes!” Kara breathes out, eager to talk to someone who gets it. “So many times she’ll say something, or do something, and, just for a second, I’ll think it’s Alex there with me.”

Barry smiles in agreement. “But it’s just not the same.”

“It’s not,” Kara admits, “but it’s kinda nice, getting to know her now, as an adult instead of a teenager whose life I crashed into and turned upside down.”

Barry pokes her shoulder. “Awww, you’re making friends with your sister!”

Kara winces. Not exactly ‘friends’. “Kinda,” she agrees weakly. She sighs and steps away, drumming her fingers on the top of the now-smaller block.

Barry steps back too, an understanding smile on his face. “You wanna punch some more stuff while I go back to work?”

Kara nods, squaring herself up to the block and shaking out her hands.

Barry lays a hand on her shoulder and squeezes, hard. “Don't leave without saying good-bye, okay?”

Kara chances a quick glance behind her. “Okay,” she agrees, her focus already returning to the block in front of her. Kara takes a deep breath and cracks her neck. She doesn't even hear Barry leave.

--

She notices him return though, sometime later, when he slides to a stop beside her and grabs her elbow. Kara punches out with her other hand, Barry just narrowly dodging it as he drops her arm and ducks away.

“Whoa,” he chuckles, throwing his hands up in mock surrender. “Sorry ‘bout that.”

Kara blinks in surprise. “Oh my Rao, I'm sorry! Reflexes,” she says with an embarrassed shrug.

Barry grins. “No worries,” he says easily. He plops down on Kara's block, which has been whittled down to roughly the size and shape of a footstool. Barry crosses one leg over the other and looks up at Kara. “I thought I'd come see if you wanted to go grab some food. I know you missed your afternoon snack.”

Kara glances out a window, eyes widening when she realizes that it's almost competently dark outside. She's missed afternoon snack and pre-dinner.

“I'm always up for food,” she agrees, turning back to Barry.

“Awesome,” he says, jumping to his feet. “There's a great Chinese place over near CCAM,” he says as they walk towards the door. “Do you know where that is?”

Kara squints at him as they step out into the night air. “The museum downtown? Yeah, I know what you're talking about.”

“Cool,” Barry says, his eyes lighting up as he turns his head to Kara. “Race you there?”

“Oh, you're on,” Kara agrees, flexing her knees lightly.

“On three,” Barry says, getting into his own pose. “One, two three!”

They both take off running before the last word has fully left his mouth. Kara laughs, and can hear Barry echo her as they race alongside each other. It's so nice to let loose with someone who can match her powers.

In her zeal, Kara overshoots the restaurant, and by the time she turns around and zips back to it, Barry's already standing there holding the door open for her. “M’lady,” he says with a half-bow as he ushers her in.

They're quickly seated and Kara's looking at her menu when Barry taps the outside of it to get her attention. Kara lowers her menu and raises an eyebrow.

“Order as much as you want,” Barry says, leaning forward just a little. “They're used to me eating here.”

“Okay.” Kara smiles, and when the waiter returns with their drinks, orders all five plates she'd been looking at. The waiter doesn't pause, just turns to Barry for his order, then leaves.

Kara takes a sip of her water. “So how's Iris?”

She sits back and listens as Barry talks about a new story Iris is working on, and about some of the adjustments they've had to make now that they're living together in their new apartment. His eyes shine when he talks about her. He only pauses when a line of waiters arrives at their table, delivering plate after plate of delicious looking, and smelling, food.

There's silence between them for a few minutes as they both settle in to eat. Kara cleans off three plates before she takes a breath and sits back. She looks up and notices that Barry is also slowing down for the moment.

He glances up at her and grins. “So—” but he's interrupted by the sudden ringing of Kara's phone.

It can only mean one thing.

Kara flinches and fumbles with her bag, her suddenly shaking fingers pulling out her cellphone. Oh. Alexandra Danvers is calling , her screen reads. In spite of her racing heart, Kara stabs the green button and holds the phone up to her ear, raising a finger for Barry. Barry just smiles in understanding, waiting to see how this plays out.

“Hello?” She's much more composed than how she feels inside.

“I'm done with work now. Are you up for a walk?” Despite the still present gruffness in her voice and the not so gentle offer, Kara can easily picture Lexie struggling to get the words out, something akin to embarrassment in her tone.

She can't help it – a smile blossoms on her face, relief pouring in. Lexie still wants to see her.

“Um,” she hesitates, looking at Barry as he keeps on eating his food, pretending not to listen. “Yeah, sure. Where exactly?”

“Meet me at my office. We'll walk to a park nearby together, if you like.”

“Yes! Yes, um…” Kara clears her throat when Barry lifts one curious eyebrow at her little shout, amusement coloring his face. “Yeah… it's fine. Give me a couple of minutes.”

“Take all the time you need, Kara.” Finally, warmth returns to the familiar voice.

Kara can hear the way Lexie swallows then, and the realization they're going to see each other again, so soon, makes her a little bit dizzy, all of a sudden. She bids Lexie a quiet goodbye and, phone tucked away, leans back in her chair, excitement and shock and apprehension drumming in her veins at an alarming intensity. It's nerve-wrecking what talking with Lexie does to her.

“What is it?”

“Oh! Um, sorry, that was—”

“Lexie, I figured,” Barry quips, smirking knowingly. He's seen and heard enough. “She wants to see you.”

“I can stay for another—”

“Really, Kara, it's fine. Go . It's written all over your face you'd rather be with your sister.”

Kara fights to keep the wince at bay, standing up with what she hopes is a smile. “Yeah…”

“Don't worry, I'll finish what you ordered.” Barry winks, waving away when Kara tries to pay her part of the meal. “Please just go.”

Kara huffs good-naturedly, rolling her eyes at her friend's antics, more than a little grateful that she met him, his silent support today just what she needed. She squeezes his arm, smiling softly. “Thank you.”

“Any time. Just text me when you're here next.”

“Deal.”

One last smile and a wave, and off Kara goes, trying not to rush.

She can feel her body buzzing with sudden bone-deep happiness though, and has to actively control her powers from getting the best of her.

She still reaches Lexie's company building in a little under three minutes. The other woman is already there, waiting outside for Kara with a lit cigarette propped between her fingers. The smoke curling up above her head, lingering for a moment before the evening wind chases it away, expression distant as her lips wrap around the cigarette on autopilot – she almost looks like a painting, with features so fine they don’t look real from where Kara stands.

Swallowing hard around the lump growing in her throat, Kara closes the distance between them. “Hey,” she says as she approaches Lexie, smiling slightly despite her heart fluttering with nerves.

“Kara!” Lexie seems surprised to see her so soon, and, sure, maybe Kara should have waited a little bit more, but she can’t do much about it now. Lexie’s free hand curls into a fist for a moment, before she relaxes it. “Hi. You were fast.”

“I–I was already in the neighborhood, yes...” Kara stutters and, honestly, she should be used to the somewhat intimidating presence of Lexie by now, enough to not feel so silly around her. Especially when she saw how affected Lexie had been by her disappearance, but she can’t help it. She has to look away, gaze settling on the waxy red lipstick mark left on the filter of the cigarette.

Lexie notices. “I don’t do this often,” she explains, shrugging, apparently self-conscious of this habit. “I’m trying to stop actually. I just...” she trails off, shakes her head, before meeting Kara’s eyes again. Her smile is somewhat pained. “I was nervous,” she admits with a little chuckle.

That takes Kara by surprise. “Really?”

“Yeah, really, Kara.” For some reason Kara’s disbelief is amusing to Lexie. She snuffs out her cigarette, throwing it to the ground, and points to some spot in the distance. “So, the park I mentioned is not too far from here. Feel like walking?”

“Sure.” Kara smiles, helpless to the fact that she’d probably follow Lexie whenever now, far too eager to be in her company. “Lead the way.”

The silence between them is tense with expectation and curiosity, and more than once Kara feels the need to ask what exactly made Lexie change her mind bubbling up. It doesn’t take them long to reach the park, and by now not many people are still out and about, mostly some sole runners doing laps. It fits their mood. They head to a more secluded part, reaching a bench and sitting down.

“So, um, I’m sorry—”

“Sorry for—”

They both start at the same time, cutting the other off and just laughing, a flare of awkwardness shining through. Kara is the first to look away, hoping the dimmer lights in the park now can mask the growing flush on her cheeks.

“You go first,” Lexie says, voice unfairly soft, turned in her direction, their knees just barely touching.

Her hands keep brushing and dragging over her pants, and Kara focuses on that, the motion almost hypnotizing. Lexie is not Alex and may not even have all her tells, but Kara can still read this—the fidgeting is not exactly subtle.

She can do this.

She breathes in deeply, stares Lexie straight into her eyes. “I wanted to apologize for earlier. For just showing up out of the blue, not even calling first to see if you were free. I just… that was rude.”

Her voice doesn’t waver, and she hopes her tone can convey what she’s really trying to apologize for.

“I wasn’t thinking, just acting. Which, I admit, is something I really should work on.” Kara grins weakly, bashful even when Lexie flashes her a smile in retaliation.

“It’s okay. Well, I’d appreciate it if you warned me, but I, um… I never mind it. When you show up, I mean.” Lexie is uncharacteristically inarticulate, struggling to be so honest. “I just wasn’t expecting you, earlier. I’m sorry for how I reacted, I was short with you, but I was surprised considering how long it’s been.”

Kara glances away for a moment, knowing how hard she’d battled against her own doubts—to show up or not to, her decision not to come here anymore seemingly so final. “I know…”

It's been nearly a whole month.

“I didn’t want to end the day on a bad note. Just know that you don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t owe me anything, I just…” Lexie exhales at that, gripping the bench at her sides in a tight, tight hold. “You said you’d call me last time, and then you didn’t. I thought it was because of what happened. What you told me... about me in the car.” Lexie shakes her head, her body vibrating with nervous energy.

“Oh no, no, Lexie,” Kara rushes to explain, searching for wary hazel eyes, heart beating faster at the knowledge her fears and hesitation managed to hurt this outwardly confident woman. “You already apologized. It was never about that, I promise.”

Lexie just nods, accepting her words but not adding anything else, no insight to her thoughts whatsoever, eyes downcast. The silence stretches and Kara’s stomach burns, knowing Lexie won’t ever understand why she stayed behind for so long, unless she actually comes clean about the whole story.

But Kara can’t do that – not now, possibly not ever.

Being brave is her whole thing , but in face of this scary unknown situation she feels small, smaller than she’s ever felt perhaps, emotions in disarray. She takes a fortifying breath and says, “Look at me.”

When Lexie raises her head, her eyes are dark and liquid, stealing Kara’s breath for a few seconds with their impossible depth. Kara licks her lips, using her most gentle voice despite the thundering inside her ribs, “I had to do a lot of thinking back home.”

“I just… I wasn’t sure you were even interested in seeing me again.” Lexie sighs, and the downturn of her lips tugs at Kara’s heartstrings, the way she somehow ended up affecting Lexie so strongly is a surprisingly heady feeling she can’t ignore.

“It’s not like that,” Kara murmurs, taking note of the stiff way Lexie is sitting. Sometimes being honest is the sole solution. “I was scared.”

There.

Lexie frowns, waiting in silence as Kara gathers her thoughts. Nothing helpful comes to her mind, nothing that will tell Lexie why she’s so torn about this , why the thought of getting closer to a different version of her Alex petrified her. How no matter how hard she wrapped her self-control around her thoughts these past weeks, what she knows and has been told since she crashed into the Danvers’ world, she couldn’t pretend Lexie didn't exist, couldn’t deny that the yielding shaky and yet so intriguing idea of an us never entered her consciousness.

Slow as molasses, she moves her hand, something squeezing her heart tightly as she brushes her fingertips over Lexie’s knuckles still curled over the bench. She hesitates for just a second, before taking Lexie’s hand in hers, fingers lacing together in such a natural action. The effect is immediate—Lexie melts into her touch, the tension leaving her body, turning fully to Kara with big, big eyes, gripping her hand fiercely, giving away more than she has probably intended.

The burning in Kara's stomach lessens, shaping in a different kind of hollow, almost like when she hasn’t eaten in too long, and she’s left aching for something she can’t name. They stare at each other in silence, but then Lexie’s lips quirk at the side, and Kara swears she could just burst open, chest filled with something akin to joy. It’s a special little feeling, and it’s easy to forget why this is a bad idea when Lexie tugs her hand a little, putting hers and Kara’s both in her lap.

Kara has heard Lexie’s heartbeat skyrocket the moment they touched, and that doesn't help calm her nerves in the slightest, excitement running through her veins. She feels Lexie’s pulse flutter under her thumb as the other woman takes a deep breath. “Kara.”

Kara’s heart feels like it’s about to take flight, beating wildly in her chest at the soft sound of her name on Lexie’s lips. She smiles and squeezes Lexie’s hand. “Yeah?”

Lexie’s pulse is thrumming even faster now, though outwardly she remains calm. “I think,” she pauses and swallows. “I wanna make sure,” she says carefully, “that we’re on the same page here.”

Kara blinks at her, and her confusion must show on her face because Lexie hurries on, “I just, I don’t wanna come on too strong again.”

Oh. Oh! Kara licks her lips and takes a fortifying breath. The tingles she feels in her fingers where Lexie’s touching her are spreading up her arm and through her torso now. She glances down at their intertwined hands. Time to be brave... “I—I like you, Lexie,” she murmurs.

Kara chances a quick glance up. Lexie’s staring at her, eyes shining hopefully. The corners of her lips lift, and a slow smile spreads across Lexie’s face. It's beautiful. “I like you too, Kara.”

Lexie exhales, and tucks a piece of hair back behind her ear. She lets her free hand settle on top of their clasped ones. “That’s also why I was worried when I didn’t hear from you for so long,” she admits, staring down at her lap. “Something could’ve happened to you and I never would’ve known.”

Kara swallows, struck by how similar that statement is to one Alex made when she returned from Earth-1 the first time. It seems no matter what universe she’s in, an Alex Danvers is going to worry about her. She gives Lexie what she hopes is a reassuring smile. “I’m okay though, see?”

Lexie shakes her head and finally looks back up at Kara. “I know.” She worries her bottom lip with her teeth. “But Kara, if… if we’re gonna do this, you can’t disappear like that on me again.” The tip of her finger traces random paths across Kara’s knuckles. “I don’t mean we have to talk all the time, or even every day,” she says with a small nervous grin. “We both have responsibilities, jobs that can take up far too much of our time.”

Kara nods, pushing her glasses back up on her nose. “Yeah,” she agrees.

Lexie’s grip on Kara’s hand tightens, almost enough for Kara to feel it. “I just, don’t want to worry,” Lexie says softly, her upper body leaning imperceptibly closer to Kara’s. “I want to know you’re safe.”

Kara feels dizzy at the care and concern shining in Lexie’s eyes. She resists the urge to reach out and smooth the furrow between Lexie’s brows, and settles for squeezing her hand again. “No more disappearing,” she promises.

She doesn't dare to think about what that is going to mean.

--

“Hey, Danvers.”

Alex's head snaps up from where she's frowning down at her phone screen. Maggie sits down across the table from her and gestures to the phone in Alex's hand. “DEO?”

“Hmm?” Alex's attention is already drifting back to the screen. Maggie's question registers a few seconds later and her head jerks back up. “Oh, no, it's just Kara.”

Maggie leans forward slightly. “She okay?”

Alex exhales loudly and sets her phone down on the table. “I sent her a text a couple of hours ago but she hasn't responded yet.”

Maggie settles back into the booth. “Well, she's probably working, right?”

“But she,” Alex just barely stops herself from blurting out that Kara didn't even go to the DEO to spend time in the sunbeds, and that no one else has seen her since the park. And that Kara always responds to Alex’s texts, even when she’s working. “She just hasn't been feeling well lately,” she finishes weakly.

Maggie smiles sympathetically. “I'm sure she's fine. Maybe she's just sleeping.”

“Yeah.” Alex shakes her head and slips her phone into her back pocket. “Yeah, you're probably right.”

For the rest of the afternoon Alex tries to ignore the silent phone in her pocket as she and Maggie track down evermore futile leads on the two aliens they'd captured that morning.

They're standing outside an apartment building as the sun sets and Alex finally gives in to the urge to look at her phone. No missed calls or texts from Kara. She worriedly bites her bottom lip as her finger hovers over the call button. Maggie’s on the phone with her boss, so Alex takes a few steps away and presses the green button, turning her back to Maggie as she waits for Kara to answer. Kara’s voicemail message comes on after a few seconds and Alex ends the call with a frustrated huff.

“I take it your call went about as well as mine,” Maggie says from behind her. She steps up beside Alex, slipping her phone into her jacket and shaking her head. She looks up at Alex with a small smile. “Wanna grab some food, take it back to my place?”

Alex opens her mouth to say yes, but catches sight of her blinking screen. She swallows, remembering how odd Kara had sounded when she’d flown away this morning. “Raincheck?” She holds up her phone at Maggie’s surprised look. “I should really go see about Kara.”

“Okay.” There’s a small crease on Maggie’s forehead between her eyes as she blinks up at Alex.

“Thanks,” Alex replies, leaning over and kissing Maggie’s cheek. She’s already several steps away, almost to her bike, when she hears Maggie’s response.

“See you tomorrow, I guess...”

Alex straddles her motorcycle and cranks it up, twisting halfway around to give Maggie a quick wave before pulling away from the curb.

The ride to Kara’s apartment is short. As she takes the elevator up to Kara’s floor, Alex reminds herself that there are many reasons why Kara might not’ve replied to her all day. And some of them are even valid reasons.

She can't explain it, though, she can feel something isn't quite right.

Her fingers drum against her thigh as she tries to urge the elevator to move faster, and once the doors slide open, Alex practically sprints down the hallway to Kara’s door. She doesn’t bother knocking, just pulls out her key and opens the door.

The apartment is quiet and dark, except for a lamp on in the living room and a small light on over the stove. Alex’s shoulders drop and she eases her hand off her gun. Wherever she is, whatever she's doing, Kara's obviously planning on coming back sometime tonight.

Alex wanders into Kara’s bedroom and flips on the bedside lamp. Nothing seems out of place. She pulls out her phone and considers texting Kara, but decides that if her sister didn’t answer the first twelve texts, the odds of this one being the one to make her respond are pretty slim.

She bites her lip as she thinks about the last time she saw Kara, at the park this morning. When Kara left, Alex assumed that she was going straight to the DEO to put in some time with the sunlamps, but Winn said Kara hadn’t been by all day. Alex would be a lot more worried if he hadn’t added that he’d talked to Kara that morning when she called to see if the aliens she’d apprehended earlier had been brought to the DEO for processing.

Alex crosses her arms, her fingers tapping restlessly on her bicep. She could go out looking for Kara, but honestly, the list of places nearby that Kara could be at is fairly large, and if Kara’s out of the city altogether, there’s no way Alex is tracking her down tonight.

Her body protests, tired.

Decision made, Alex kicks off her boots, stretches out on her stomach across Kara’s bed, and waits.

--

Kara floats through the portal, landing lightly in her living room. She doesn’t even try to suppress the giddy smile on her face, just twirls up into the air and drifts over to her couch, stretching out full-length on it. She can't wait for Barry to get back to her, find out if Barry and Cisco can help her with a little interdimensional communication. The possibility of hearing from Lexie more regularly without having to cross universes leaves her breathless with happiness.

She grabs a pillow off the floor and hugs it tightly to her chest, pulling it over her mouth to hide her grin. Rao , she hasn’t felt this happy in—a soft sound from her bedroom makes Kara freeze. She sits up quickly, pulling her glasses off and peering through the wall. Someone’s on her bed. For just a brief, ridiculous moment, she has the wild thought that Lexie has followed her here somehow, that familiar heartbeat thudding in her ears. No, not Lexie, it’s Alex, she chides herself as she sets the pillow aside and floats into her bedroom.

A slow smile spreads across her face as Kara lets herself settle on the edge of the mattress. Alex is lying diagonally across the bed, hair falling over her face, one of Kara’s pillows snuggled securely under her body. This has always been Alex’s preferred sleeping position, stretched completely across the bed, taking up as much room as possible. Kara’s lost count of the number of times she’s had to lift Alex up and move her over so that Kara could squeeze in beside her, an almost nightly ritual when they were teenagers.

Kara can’t help herself. She reaches out and brushes Alex’s hair back, tucking one unruly strand behind Alex’s ear when it falls back across her cheek. She feels privileged to see her sister like this, muscles relaxed, features smooth, just, completely unguarded.

It's a lovely sight.

Kara feels the change before she sees it, Alex’s body tensing imperceptibly in response to some stimuli. Kara rubs her thumb over the crease between Alex’s eyebrows, smoothing it out. She can feel the slight chill on Alex’s skin then. Alex always complains that Kara keeps her apartment a few degrees too cool.

Kara bites her bottom lip. Her hand hovers near Alex’s cheek, thumb stroking her cheekbone a few times before Alex’s eyes blink slowly open. “Hi,” Kara whispers, her hand still cupping Alex’s jaw.

“Hi,” Alex murmurs back, gazing up at Kara with soft, soft eyes as she leans into her touch. She clears her throat. “Hey,” she says, a little more lucidly this time, “you’re here.”

Kara smiles, and feels her body relax along with Alex’s. “I’m here,” she agrees. Her hand slips down Alex’s cheek to her shoulder. She squeezes it gently. “You want a blanket?”

Alex shakes her head and shuffles closer to Kara. She shifts around until she’s on her back, torso right against Kara’s thigh, her face close to Kara’s bent knee. “Missed you,” she says softly, turning her head and pressing a small kiss to the top of Kara’s knee.

A flash of guilt burns through Kara’s body and settles there. “I wasn’t gone long,” Kara protests, her fingers twisting together in her lap. “I didn’t think anyone would notice,” she mumbles, glancing away from Alex, heart racing.

A hand covers her own. “I always notice,” Alex replies lowly. She pokes Kara in the side with her finger. “I had no new cat videos to watch today.”

Kara smiles involuntarily, her hands unclenching. “I do have one to send you,” she admits with a little chuckle as she looks back down at Alex.

“Knew it.”

They smile and simply stare at each other, content in their silence, drawing in love and strength just by being close.

Kara has never met another person able to immediately soothe her with their mere presence, but Alex does, so effortlessly, her touch grounding and immediate, worth countless words. It’s everything. For long moments nothing else matters, and Kara forgets why she even came home so late, why her heart was singing earlier, skin warming where Alex’s side is pressed against her.  Then, though, her expression shifts and it’s impossible to miss the twinkle in her eyes as she asks, “Where were you?”

“What?” Kara’s brain feels slow, thick, still caught up in the warm gaze of her sister. “Oh! Um, I–I was just…” she panics, acutely aware of how much time she has passed on Earth-1 this time and how hard it’s to simply justify it. “Out. Yep, I w–was out flying.”

She knows how vague it sounds the moment the words leave her mouth, and she barely refrains from cringing at her inability to even lie half decently. The realization of what exactly she did, what she agreed to, hits her like a punch to the gut, all its immeasurable weight behind it and what it means stealing her breath – flashes of Lexie’s smiles still so fresh in her head make the guilt grow stronger. She struggles to give Alex something better to believe, but her mouth is suddenly too dry, the warmth of their point of contact too stifling. The guilt makes her nauseous, and with what she hopes is a casual movement, she retreats from Alex’s side.

Alex looks at her, soft eyes and not a trace of guile. “Any particular reason?”

Kara has to look away, not knowing what to do with herself as she forces herself to keep on lying. “I just needed some time off to myself,” she says, barely recognizing the croak of her own voice.

Alex squints up at Kara, her brow slightly furrowed. She lifts her hand, and Kara is too slow to duck away as the backs of Alex’s fingers settle on her cheek. “Was it a Krypton day?” Alex’s voice is so full of concern and understanding, Kara has to force herself to lean away from Alex’s touch again, catching her hand and laying it back down across Alex’s stomach.

It would be so easy to say yes, but Kara can’t find it in her to lie, not about this. “No,” she says, her voice steadier now, but still more unsettled than she’d like. She pats Alex’s hand before she releases it, “I didn’t need a Krypton day.”

When Kara had first arrived on Earth, everything she encountered was too much. Too bright, too loud, too smelly, too… human . Even after Jeremiah made glasses for her to wear, there were still days when her senses became completely overpowered under the constant bombardment of information pouring into them. There were nights when she woke herself up, screaming Kryptonese, and days when she saw her parents at a distance, only to be disappointed once again when she ran to them.

Eliza and Alex were already dealing with so much after Jeremiah’s death that Kara tried to keep how she was feeling hidden, but somehow Alex always knew when she was truly overwhelmed, and made excuses to the school, and to Eliza, and took Kara down to the beach so that she could dig her toes and fingers into the sand and let the sun and the breeze and the pounding of the waves drown out everything else.

After the first few times, worried that Alex was prioritizing Kara over her own classes and friends, Kara told Alex that she needed to make these trips on her own. Alex had protested, but had finally given in, making Kara promise to always tell her where she was going.

Kara usually ended up back at the beach, but every so often, when she woke before dawn, she’d sneak out their window and fly to a nearby mountain range. She’d found a nice, flat spot, up high, where she could perform her greetings to Rao, and where, when the sun first peaked over the mountain tops, Kara could pretend, for just a few moments, that it was Rao’s light she was basking in.

Kara feels moisture start to gather in her eyes and turns her head away from Alex, blinking rapidly. She feels the mattress shift and knows that her sister is sitting up beside her now. One of Alex’s hands grips her upper arm, and the other cups Kara’s chin, gently coaxing her head back around. Once Kara is facing her again, Alex lets go of Kara’s arm and uses both hands to gently slip Kara’s glasses off her face. She folds them and leans back to set them on Kara’s bedside table. Alex rests a hand on Kara’s knee and squeezes it gently.

Kara smiles tremulously, feeling strangely exposed without the barrier of her glasses between her and Alex. “I just—so many things are changing, you know?”

Alex smiles softly and reaches up to smooth a piece of Kara’s hair back. “I know, a lot has changed for Kara Danvers and for Supergirl. But, Kar,” a hint of worry creeps back into her voice, “you gotta let me know when you’re gonna disappear like that, okay?”

Looking at Alex’s understanding face only makes Kara feel worse, like something deep inside her has ripped apart, a scorching guilt she’s tried to contain for weeks, and now she feels its sting full force, threatening to suffocate her. Alex worried about her for hours, while she was off… dawdling with Lexie.

“Yeah, I’m sorry…” Kara swallows past the lump in her throat, forcing another smile. “It won’t happen again.”

“It better not,” Alex warns her playfully, stretching out languidly on the bed then. She retrieves her phone and checks the time, frowning when she notices just how late it’s got, but doesn’t comment on it again. “Wanna get in?” She pats the bed, but Kara shakes her head.

It doesn’t feel safe to stay here so close, after what she told Lexie, not when it almost feels like a betrayal to the kind of love that circulates through her veins when Alex is near—putting her giddy thoughts about Lexie to shame.

“No, I’m, umm, I’m gonna take a shower first, maybe eat something. Go ahead, don’t wait up for me.”

Alex nods but keeps staring at Kara as she leaves the bed, picking up some comfy clothes to wear, and heading to her bathroom. “Night.”

“Night.”

Chapter Text

Kara floats through the portal and into the S.T.A.R. Labs warehouse, phone clutched tightly in her hand. The device immediately starts buzzing and beeping, but she ignores it, like she ignores the voices of her friends in the main lab, and flies out an open window, shooting straight up into the sky once she’s cleared the building.

Kara flies a few lazy loops high above the city, basking in the bright sunshine of this Earth, but the need to talk with Lexie is burning within her, and she impatiently cuts her flight short and heads to her usual spot. She’s tried a few other places over the past week, including the rooftop of the building across from Phaenomena, which had felt just a bit stalker-y, before she settled on this little lakeside park. There’s a wooded area, far away from any traffic or security cameras, that she can fly into and out of to avoid detection.

She scans the park for any nearby heartbeats, then drops straight down into the middle of the trees, landing in a crouch beside a giant pine. Kara brushes off her slacks and adjusts her glasses, then steps casually through some underbrush and onto the walking path. She follows the trail out of the copse, nodding at a couple carrying a kayak down to the water’s edge as she hurries over to what’s become her usual bench.

Kara sits forward, elbows resting on her knees, takes a deep breath, and touches her phone screen. A smile breaks out over her face as she scrolls through the 16 text messages that have accrued over the past two days. They’re mostly little slices of Lexie’s life; anecdotes about work, pics of her dinner, gifs of animals being cute.

Kara opens up her reply box, and after a long moment of staring at the blinking cursor, types, Hey, you still at work?

It's been surprisingly easy and fun texting with Lexie these past days. Her witty humor with a dollop of playful flirting, the teasing with just an edge of more, makes for an excellent conversation partner. She never fails to make Kara smile, or worse, blush into her palms when she drops casual innuendos between texts. She's smart and genuinely interested in details about Kara’s day, despite how little Kara can actually tell her.

Unfortunately.

Hmm, short answer. She must be busy, Kara reasons, willing her disappointment to go away. It's fine!

I'll leave you to your work then :)  just wanted to say hi

She bites her lips and boldly adds, and that I was thinking about you.

Even the mere fact Kara is able to type things like that makes her feel dizzy somehow. It's almost surreal.

A reply comes instantly.

Oh baby wait don't leave

That's new. Kara reads and rereads the petname, heart in her throat, a hot flush fast spreading to chest.

She takes too long to answer and another text pops in.

I'm at this meeting and it's as tedious as I feared it'd be. Having a hard time concentrating. My hero, saving me from boredom <3

Kara snorts, and the tension dissipates. Lexie can be such a dork sometimes, which was another nice surprise.

Shouldn't you be focusing on the important things being discussed? Won't others notice you're texting?

She makes sure to include an annoyed looking emoji, chuckling at herself. She wishes she could see Lexie’s expression right now.

I shifted my phone into my lap, ready to feel your vibrations. The table hides it well. Besides, I'm the boss ;)

Kara groans, amused at the silly cocky message, and more than a little bit intrigued too, she admits, despite herself.

That's…not a topic she wants to discuss. The suggestive image conjured though remains in her head.

Behave. You need to set an example there, boss.

Nah, no one I fancy to boss around here.

Kara shakes her head, but her mouth is dry and she's forced to cross her legs, failing to find a more comfortable position on the bench. Stupid, flirty Lexie…

She looks up at the sky, watching birds fly freely for a moment, thinking her next message through. She feels a tad out of her depth here. Even when she was an habituelle of dating apps and blind dates, she'd never really found herself in situations where she would even consider…what, sexting? Flirting coyly via texts?

Kara’s cheeks feel on fire. She's being ridiculous, nothing is going to happen.

But she's only used those sites to set up date locations, always more keen to first cement a connection with the other person face to face, before ever entertaining other thoughts. She already has a connection with Lexie, though, a very strong one. Maybe that's what scares Kara—the ramifications of something like this too big to ignore.

Before she can fret more, her phone buzzes again, Lexie’s worry palpable.

Hey I was just teasing

Kara doesn't want Lexie to feel guilty over her humor, though.

I know, I know.

She takes a breath, steeling her nerves, and quickly types more, but you're not gonna get anyone willing to let you boss them around by slacking off.

Kara feels her belly swoop as she waits. She's not even sure what she’s implying exactly, but teasing Lexie back is quickly becoming one of her favorite past times – the perfect distraction for her troubles at home.

You know I can get a plane ready for California in less than half an hour, yes?

Kara grins, giddy, bright patches of color along her cheeks.

Behave, she repeats. I'm sure the meeting has an actual purpose :p

She checks the time and sighs. I have to go back to my boring editing work now. Gotta finish this article before submitting it. close deadline, or I'll be in trouble.

Really, now?! You're already in trouble missy. I expect a cute selfie to my phone for 8 pm

Kara hides her high-pitched laughter with a cough. She could stay more, chat for a little bit longer, but she's already pushed herself further than she had expected to.

Mmh, I'll see what I can do. TTYL :*

Later baby

--

After so much fussing over how to act and what to say—or, not to say—Kara feels silly in the face of how easy it is to feel comfortable in Alex’s company. It’s…it’s still her sister, her whole world, all the awkwardness conjured in her head gone.

They’re meeting the others at the alien bar in a little more than an hour, but they decided to have an early dinner at Kara’s first. The initial, brief silence had quickly ebbed into small talk as they dug into their Chinese take-out, and now Kara is giggling softly as Alex mockingly complains about some newbie agents she had to train.

Kara feels her chest warming pleasantly at their closeness. It feels like forever since they’ve spent some quality time together.

With Alex, she never has to be Supergirl, constantly on the defense and ready to leap away to save the day. There’s no one to impress. She can simply curl up on the sofa for a movie marathon, make herself into a small ball tucked against Alex’s warm side and just relax.

That’s how they’re currently seated, and the low rumble in Kara’s chest that builds up her throat makes Alex jerk back, look down at her with a knowing little smirk. Alex has always loved to make Kara laugh, and that hasn’t changed in the last years.

“Um, you going to finish that?” Kara asks, glancing away after noticing just how close their faces have gotten. With a surreptitious shrug, she retreats slightly from Alex’s side-hug, unable to stop her heart from racing madly behind her ribcage.

It’s the first time tonight she’s reminded of Lexie.

“Whoa, took you longer than usual to ask. Here, take it.” Alex chuckles, reaching out with one hand to grab the forgotten cupcake on the coffee table, placing it into Kara’s turned-up palms.

“You’re the best,” Kara says, biting readily into the sugary treat, happy to move on from the little slip up.

Alex curls her arm around Kara’s shoulders, pulling her close again. Kara freezes for a moment, the action making her swallow heavily, before she’s able to relax again.

“You too.”

“Hmm?”

When Kara turns her head and looks up, she’s struck dumb by the honest expression on Alex’s face, its intensity a bit bewildering.

“W-what?”

In lieu of a reply, Alex strokes a hand through Kara’s hair, an intimate gesture that sends tiny shudders through Kara’s spine, scratching slightly at the scalp. Her hand curls around the back of Kara’s head then, keeping their gazes locked.

Kara is hyper aware of the touch, the warm pressure of each finger, like she can feel every individual point of contact pulsing against her head. Her neck warms up, and something inside her just aches. With a dry mouth, she tilts her head into her sister’s palm, relishing in the touch—itching to press even closer, something bubbling beneath her skin to move.

She’s tried a thousand times to put into words how she feels around Alex, has tried to get her to see herself the way Kara sees her – beautiful, selfless Alex, she's her hero – but she’s never quite managed to describe the way the tenderness in Alex’s eyes just surrounds her, the way her smile is enough to make Kara feel wholly taken care of, the way even brief caresses linger on for hours after she’s moved away.

And touching is a second language to them, hardly having to think about reaching out by now, they’ve held each other so often that their muscle memories just know. And here, Alex holds her, surprisingly still with just one hand, the only things moving their heartbeats so in sync, Kara scared by the ways hers leaps and bounds for joy and nerves—so ready to just keep offering itself into Alex’s hands, time and time again.

“I said, you too.” Alex takes a breath, seeming to gather her thoughts. “All my life… it’s been about you.” Kara can’t help it, she flinches, guilt gnawing, but Alex’s palm is steady at her neck, gentle. “It was imperative that I looked out for you, sure, but never something I did unwillingly. I protected you, I still do…or at least, I try, because I want to. I always want you to feel safe. You’re the most important person in my life, Kara.” Alex stares intensely into Kara’s eyes. “You know that.”

No, sometimes Kara forgets that, and it’s honestly not that hard lately with the new addition in Alex’s life.

This is everything Kara has been waiting to hear for a while, and it makes her unbelievably happy, so fast so soon. Her eyes sting, overwrought with sudden emotion, to the point of dizziness. If she were to pry open her chest, she’s sure butterflies would fly out.

“Alex…” she pauses, heart in her throat, trying and failing to voice the enormity of her feelings.

Sometimes her sister knows just what to say, exactly at the right time. It’s incredible. Perhaps what she’s started with Lexie has befuddled her, but this is unrivalled.

“I love you,” Alex declares, simply, the easiest truth between them.

Kara smiles tremulously, echoing the sentiment. “Me too. Always.”

This declaration is strangely timely. Maybe she doesn’t have to say much after all, Alex already in tune with her thoughts. Kara wonders if Alex has sensed something is off with her. She swallows uneasily, feeling guilty despite herself.

Perhaps she should share, shed some clarity about her behavior these past days…

Unable to do that if Alex can still see her eyes, Kara leans back, turning to press her face to her sister’s chest, inhaling the familiar scent, soothing her like nothing else. Alex moves accordingly, puts her chin on Kara’s head, smiling slightly and pulling her deeper into her torso, loving the Kryptonian kind of warmth tight against her body. Eyes closed, Kara focuses on Alex’s heartbeat, gathering strength.

She feels at her safest in Alex’s arms, but this is not easy.

She keeps her voice as light as she can, but ripples move through her all the same. “Have you ever wanted something—”

But Kara pauses, unsure what she wants to say exactly, because worrying Alex now is out of the question. The moment the stilted words leave her mouth, though, she knows she’s made a mistake. Alex tenses and stiffens against her all the same, suddenly on high alert; it’s impossible for her to ignore the risk potential, always the protector.

“Wanted what?”

Kara squeezes her eyes shut, burrowing her nose deeper into the soft cotton of Alex’s shirt, the heat radiating off her skin that Kara can feel even through Alex’s clothes grounding her here.

“Kara?” Alex sounds rather curious now.

She’s spared from having to answer when a ringtone suddenly blasts into the quiet of the room.

Alex startles and Kara scrambles to her feet, grabbing her mobile phone with slightly trembling fingers.

“Hello?”

“Kara, where are you? We’re waiting here all alone! Move your booties, James is complaining his beer’s getting warm.”

It’s Winn.

Kara hears James shout something in the background, his deep voice loud and playful, and she relaxes minutely. “We’re coming guys, calm down. We were eating cupcakes.”

“Cupcakes! Traitors!”

Kara hangs up with a laugh, shaking her head. When she turns and looks back at Alex, the agent has an unreadable expression on her face, arms crossed.

Kara swallows, and gives Alex what she hopes looks like a normal smile. “We better hurry, the boys are whining already.”

--

“I walked around like that all afternoon and no one told me!” Winn says dramatically, his arms flailing as he talks. He jabs Kara with his finger and she pretends to flinch. “You! You were my friend, and you didn’t even say anything.”

Kara looks around the table. James is laughing loudly at Winn, and Alex is chuckling quietly behind her beer. Warmth suffuses Kara and she blinks quickly, her eyes blurry for just a moment. She shrugs and shakes her head, taking a quick sip of her ice cold peach tea. “You fell asleep at work. You’re lucky Ms. Grant didn’t fire you instead.”

“But I had to stay up late to finish Dragon Age Inquisition! I couldn’t sleep when I only had 12% of the game left, right?” Winn looks pleadingly around the table. James shakes his head, still smiling, and Alex just shrugs. “Seriously?” Winn leans back in his chair, seemingly wounded. “Nobody? How are none of you gamers?”

Alex sets her beer down. Her foot nudges Kara’s under the table as her hand settles on Kara’s knee. Kara’s entire body buzzes as Alex presses closer to her to lean over the table. “Kara’s terrible at video games. We tried to play some when we were younger, but between her strength and hand-eye coordination that was so bad—”

“Hey!” Kara’s able to find her voice then. “I’m pretty sure Eliza made us stop after she had to buy us a sixth controller in less than a month.” Kara jostles Alex’s shoulder with her own.

“At least two of those were your fault,” Alex laughs, her hand sliding up Kara’s thigh and squeezing playfully.

“Yeah.” Kara pushes through the slight shakiness in her voice. “I’m not the one that put a hole in the wall though.”

“Damn, Alex,” James says, half-admiringly. “A hole?”

“Not a big one,” Alex answers defensively. Kara snorts. Alex rolls her eyes. “Fine, it was a decent-sized hole.” She turns to Kara. Kara blinks as Alex looks at her with a soft, soft gaze. “Kara took the blame for me, though, said she slipped and put her hand right through the wall.” Alex squeezes Kara’s thigh again, then pats it twice before withdrawing her hand completely and turning to face the rest of the table. She picks up her beer and takes a long sip.

Kara catches herself watching her sister swallow and guilty jerks her eyes away, taking a hasty sip of her own drink, hoping to cool the flush she can feel working its way up her neck.

Has Alex always been so tactile? Kara feels touch-starved, every little movement making her stomach clench. Maybe she's been avoiding her sister too intensely, because her own body is rebelling against her right now.

“So, Winn,” Kara says, leaning slightly forward, desperate to distract herself from the warmth she feels along the entire right side of her body, where Alex is still pressed so firmly against her. “Did you ever figure out who did it?”

Winn sets down his glass. “Oh, do you mean, did I ever find out who wrote ‘Property of CatCo’ on my forehead in permanent marker? No, no I did not.”

James chuckles again, and Kara can feel Alex shake next to her in laughter. Kara smiles slightly as she reaches up to push her glasses more firmly on her nose. “Actually, it was Sharpie,” she admits casually, with a grin.

“Ooooh!” James jabs Winn with his elbow.

Winn stares at Kara in betrayal, eyes widening. “And I thought we were friends,” he says, shaking his head.

“I’m sorry,” Kara laughs, her nose crinkling. She leans halfway across the table to pat his arm. “Ms. Grant made me do it. I had to go to six different craft stores to find the right shade of hot pink.”

Winn pouts and crosses his arms. “It took it a week to wear off,” he says petulantly, forever the drama queen.

James throws his arm around Winn’s shoulders and shakes him good-naturedly. “I bet it made Ms. Grant smile every time she saw you though.”

“She called him into her office for the littlest things. I think he spent more time with her that week than I did,” Kara says gleefully. Alex snorts next to her and leans back in her chair, her left hand coming to rest naturally on Kara’s back. Kara tenses for a brief moment, and then her body melts, feeling secure in that familiar touch. She resists the urge to purr when Alex’s hand starts to rub soothingly across her back.

Kara can't help it, she closes her eyes, and focuses her senses just on Alex’s touch, blocking out the sounds of the bar, of the other aliens around her, and of Winn and James—Winn and James! Kara’s eyes snap open and she jumps out of her chair. This is not the place to get lost in daydreams of Alex. “Who wants another drink?” she asks with a forced smile, ignoring the three surprised stares at the table. “Next round’s on me!”

Without waiting for a reply, Kara whirls around and hurries over to the bar. She groans when a familiar dark head pops up from behind the counter. Of course Mon-El is here.

Well, he's definitely good for one thing.

“Give me a new drink.”

“Hello to you too. What's the matter?” Mon-El grins at her, already turning to gather some ingredients. “Something strong?”

“Please.” But then Kara pauses, realizing she shouldn't get drunk right in the middle of emotional discoveries and crisis. It wouldn't be smart to lose focus now, especially considering how much of a lightweight she is. “Actually no, um, just a club soda for me. Three beers for them, though.”

“Mmh,” Mon-El hums with a little nod, staring her down.

“What?”

“Did you do anything to your hair?”

“W-what, no?” Kara shakes her head, confused by his comment. He can be so odd sometimes.

Before she can ask more, her ears pick up the unmistakable heartbeat she's grown used to hearing so often recently. Narrowing her eyes, she turns in the direction of the door that opens up less than a minute after.

Maggie strolls in, tousling her hair, bike helmet under her arm, trademark dimpled smile blossoming on her face the moment her eyes land on Alex – sickly cute. She heads to the familiar table, greeting Winn and James first, before settling on the free seat at Alex's side, curling her arm around the agent.

There we go.

Kara sighs, the good sensations within evaporating right in front of her.

Alex and Maggie are gazing at each other, seemingly oblivious to anyone else—tender and private, that look nearly undoes Kara completely.

It feels voyeuristic to be witnessing it, yet Kara can't look away, can't do anything to stop her heart from clenching in bittersweet pain.

“Kara?”

She startles, realizing her jaw is tight from holding it so rigidly, her back uncomfortably straight.

She forces a smile, turning back to Mon-El, who's holding out the drinks for her. “Can you give me another bottle? Maggie's just joined us.”

“Sure.”

Balancing the various bottles with surprising dexterity, Kara walks back to her friends.

“Hey,” Maggie greets her, genuine affection in her voice, “aw, you got me a beer too. Thanks.”

Kara likes to think she'd normally cope better, but spending the whole day with Alex has spoiled her now. Even her bubbly persona is deserting her in face of this shameful jealousy, leaving in its trail nothing but heat.

“No prob,” she murmurs, sitting down, not failing to find irony in how Alex is now seated right between the two of them.

Problem is, now that Maggie is here, she's going to be angled mainly in her direction, of that Kara is sure.

With a twist of her lips Kara withdraws into herself, too used to the sinking sensation in her stomach by now, burning together with self-reproach and endless guilt.

The group chats for another bit, but Kara hardly adds any input, just barely making an effort to appear her usual self. She knows she's being morose, but after getting a taste of how things used to be, the claws of disappointment are stronger than ever.

She wishes again, for the thousandth time, that her phone could work and reach Earth-1 easily - the desire to distract herself and text Lexie a pull too big to ignore. She needs to ask Barry again.

Eventually Alex and Maggie move toward the pool table and Kara can breathe once more.

She hates feeling like this, helpless to her thoughts and emotions. She scowls down into her club soda, not even following her friends discussion topic until James mentions Alex‘s name.

“What?” Kara snaps her eyes in his direction, drawn in, full attention now.

“I just said it's nice,” James repeats, nodding at the happy couple playing pool together amid giggles. “What they have. It looks… easy.” He shakes his head, smiling ruefully.

Kara bites her lower lip – they could have been happy, once, it feels forever ago she had a crush on James. Winn chimes in, clapping his hands together, “Alex has smiled more these past couple of months than she ever did the whole time I've known her. With Maggie around, she’s not that scary, right?”

James laughs at that, but Kara can only hold onto the table for support. She knows—she knows—but it doesn't mean this awareness makes it easier.

She's grateful Maggie has been such a great girlfriend to her sister, but by comparison Kara feels…

She doesn't know exactly what she feels, everything still so raw and confusing. Her vision blurs for a moment, but Kara powers through it until she feels more centered. She really shouldn’t, but still turns around to stare at Alex, watch the way she expertly maneuvers the cue stick between her hands, how intently she focuses and shoots the ball straight into a pocket.

“Awh, man!” Maggie groans, pouting exaggeratedly when Alex grins at her with a teasing raised eyebrow. Alex yelps when Maggie pinches her side in retaliation. “No gloating, it’s not attractive.”

“Oh, really?” Alex husks, standing at full height and staring down at her shorter girlfriend with an indecent smirk.

Kara swallows harshly and looks away, ears picking up on Maggie’s low hum regardless. She doesn’t need to glance back to know they’re kissing.

This isn't working.

Before she can spiral even deeper, Mon-El sits next to her on Alex's now empty chair. He lightly shakes the glass he's holding when their eyes meet.

“Drink?”

Kara’s about to say no, again, aware of how little it takes to get her drunk, when she catches the sound of Alex’s heart rate increasing. Her eyes automatically seek her sister out, just in time to see Maggie lean in close to Alex, her hand on Alex’s hip, and whisper something in her ear that has Alex biting her lip and blushing lightly.

Kara swallows and looks down at the table top. Maybe a drink will settle the churning in her stomach. She takes the glass from Mon-El. “Okay. One shot.”

--

“You sure that’s the play you wanna make?”

Maggie’s voice comes from somewhere behind her, but Alex ignores it, intent on calculating the angles needed to sink the five ball.

“I’m just sayin’,” Maggie’s voice is right in Alex’s ear now, her upper body flush against Alex’s side, “looks like a much easier shot to sink that three in the side pocket.”

Alex scoffs. “I like a challenge,” she mutters, not letting her attention waver from the white cue ball in front of her as she leans over the table. That’s all it is, she’s just taking the more difficult shot to give Maggie a fighting chance. It’s definitely not the fact that from this end of the pool table she’s not being constantly bombarded by the sight of Mon-El’s painfully obvious flirting with Kara.

Do James and Winn approve?

Alex is just sliding her pool cue towards the ball when the unmistakable sound of Kara’s laughter rings out behind her. Her body jerks slightly, and her cue glances too far off the side of the ball, sending it spinning into the side of the table, missing its target completely. Alex grits her teeth.

“Bad luck,” Maggie says, a bit too gleefully for the sympathetic pat she gives Alex’s shoulder.

She walks around the side of the table to study her options, and Alex gives in to the urge to look back at their table of friends. Mon-El is passing out another round of shots, his fingers lingering on Kara’s as she takes the glass from him. Alex ignores the sudden impulse to go kick him out of her seat, out of her place, beside Kara. So what if Mon-El has a crush on Kara? Everyone does at some point.

Alex takes a deep breath, her fingers tightening around her pool cue as Mon-El places his arm on the back of Kara’s chair and leans closer to Kara to whisper something in her ear. Alex is two steps closer to her sister when Maggie’s voice calls her back. “Your shot, babe.”

--

Kara blinks, her vision slightly fuzzy as she stares at the third? fourth? shot in her hand. She gropes for the edge of the table with her right hand, and once she finds it, carefully sets her glass down. Kara plunks her elbows down on the table and props her chin in her hand, sighing and ignoring the boys as they laugh at some terrible joke Winn makes. Her gaze drifts across the bar and settles, as it has all night, on the pool table near the door.

Alex is leaning over the table, her back to Kara as she lines up her shot. Kara licks her lips as she watches Alex’s thighs flex. The visual is interrupted when Maggie steps up behind Alex and leans over to whisper in her ear. Alex shakes her head and laughs, but Kara can see her cheeks flush red.

Kara pouts. She should be the one playing pool with Alex. “I’m awesome at pool,” Kara mutters, snatching her shot off the table and downing it. She stands abruptly, needing to be somewhere else, some place where she isn’t subjected to the constant—totally acceptable!—flirting between Alex and Maggie. Kara takes a wobbly first step and stumbles into Mon-El, who wraps an arm around her waist to steady her.

“Hey, you okay, Kara?”

Kara bats at him ineffectually as she steps out of his embrace. She stumbles again, and he catches her with hands on both her elbows, holding her upright. Kara huffs. “Lemme go.”

Mon-El raises an eyebrow. “Can you stand on your own?”

Kara frowns and straightens up. Her body sways forward, towards Mon-El. “Nope.” She laughs and grabs his arms to keep from falling.

Mon-El laughs with her for a moment, then grows quiet, staring down at Kara.

“What?” Kara tries to deflect the attention, ducking her head and self-consciously reaching up to play with her glasses, but since she’d taken her glasses off at some point and left them on the table, she only succeeds in poking herself in the eye. Mon-El says something, but she’s too busy rubbing her eye and watching the floor spin beneath her to pay attention to him. “Hmm?” she says, when she can finally look up.

“I said you're cute when you're drunk.” Mon-El offers her a lopsided grin, rubbing her shoulder.

Kara pff’s at him, waving her hand around. “Whaaat, I'm not drunk!”

She does feel dizzy, but the warm pleasant kind, and at least there's nothing else to obsess over.

Perhaps this drinking thingie is not too bad.

--

Alex groans as Maggie sinks her third stripe in a row. She's trained her well. Too well. Between keeping an eye on Mon-El’s wandering hands and Maggie’s sudden hot streak, Alex is actually in danger of losing this set. She finds herself caring less and less about the game, though, as she listens to the laughter and shouts coming from Kara and the boys.

“Earth to Alex.”

Alex blinks and jerks her head around. Maggie’s staring at her with a slightly amused look on her face. “Your shot,” she says, gesturing at the table.

Alex nods and strides around to the far end of the table. She’s bending over, lining up an easy shot, when she hears Kara’s snort-laugh. Alex’s body jerks up, her pool cue sending the white ball rolling harmlessly down the middle of the table as she watches Mon-El put his arm around Kara’s waist.

“You know, if you’re trying to take it easy on me, you’re being really obvious about it.” Maggie saunters in front of Alex, leaning over the table and making quick work of her last stripe.

Alex barely notices, too caught up in trying to control the churning in her stomach as she watches Kara stumble into Mon-El’s embrace, strong arms ready to curl around her. The pool stick creaks in Alex’s hands as Mon-El wraps his hands around Kara’s arms next.

“Eight ball, side pocket,” Maggie calls out. Alex blinks and turns back just in time to see the black ball drop into the pocket beside her.

“That’s game,” Maggie says with a smirk as she strolls back over to Alex. She props her hip on the pool table. “Not that I’m one to look a gift horse in the mouth,” she continues, “but is there something you wanna talk about? What’s got you so off tonight?”

Alex huffs out a quick breath. “It’s nothing,” she says, flashing Maggie a quick smile. Under Maggie’s raised eyebrow, Alex relents. “It’s Mon-El,” she admits, narrowing her eyes and staring past Maggie at the offending Daxamite. The tight band that’s been squeezing her chest all night loosens slightly when Kara takes a step back from Mon-El.

“The bartender?” Maggie glances over her shoulder. “Kara should be careful,” she says, turning back to Alex. “That guy hits on anything that moves.”

“Yeah, he’s being very handsy tonight,” Alex mutters, staring past her girlfriend once more. Mon-El’s mouth is still moving, even though Kara is clearly not paying him any attention, gaze focused on the ground instead.

Kara finally looks up, swaying on the spot, and Mon-El reaches out and caresses her shoulder. “Oh, hell no,” Alex growls, tossing her pool stick down on the table. Her face feels hot as she stalks over to her friends. It’s a good thing she’s not the one with the heat vision, because if she were, Mon-El would be feeling a sizeable sizzle right now.

When she reaches their table, Alex slides right in between Kara and a surprised Mon-El. Kara’s just picked up another full shot glass and Mon-El’s still touching her shoulder. Alex elbows his arm away from Kara and deftly plucks the glass from Kara’s fingers. She ducks her head slightly to look Kara in the eyes. “Hey, Kar,” she says gently.

Kara blinks at her suddenly empty hand then looks up. “Alex!” Kara exclaims happily. She throws her arms around Alex’s waist and lays her head on Alex’s shoulder, tucking her face into Alex’s neck. “I missed you,” Kara slurs softly, her lips brushing briefly against Alex’s skin.

Alex feels hot again, even as a shiver passes through her body. She wraps her arms around Kara’s back, suddenly self-conscious of the eyes of the bar upon them. “Me too,” she murmurs, the words so low that she’s sure only Kara could hear them. She squeezes Kara and speaks a little louder. “You ready to go home?”

Kara sways from one foot to the other. “Wanna dance,” she mumbles into Alex’s neck. Her hands press flat on Alex’s back and pull her in closer as she shuffles them in a slow spin.

“I can take her home,” Mon-El volunteers eagerly, stepping up beside them and reaching out for Kara. Alex tugs Kara and lifts her slightly to stop their movement, giving Mon-El her best death glare over the top of Kara’s head. He drops his hand and immediately takes a step back. “Or not,” he says with a hard swallow.

“Good call,” Maggie agrees, slapping him on the shoulder as she walks past him. She nods at Kara. “Need any help?”

Alex shakes her head. “I think I’ve got it,” she says as she shifts Kara into a standing position.

Kara tilts her head and blinks slowly as she grabs Alex’s shoulder to steady herself. “Maaaaag-gie! Hi,” she says, swaying forward.

“Hi, Kara,” Maggie says with a fond, amused smile.

Kara squints her eyes as she leans closer. “You’re so tiny!” Kara exclaims. She straightens up and taps Alex on the cheek with two of her fingers. “Alex! She’s so tiny! I bet I could pick her up.”

Kara stumbles one step towards Maggie, ready to do just that, before Alex wraps her arms around Kara from behind and hauls her back. She ignores the low-level buzz that travels over her skin where Kara presses against her. The tingling has always been there, magnified when Alex has been drinking. Alex glances at her girlfriend, whose eyes are crinkled in mirth. ‘Sorry,’ Alex mouths, nodding at Kara.

“S’okay,” Maggie says with a smile. “You good to get home?”

Alex glances down at Kara, who’s taken one of Alex’s hands in her own and is studying it intently. Alex shakes her head. “I think we’re good. See you tomorrow?”

“Yep.” Maggie leans in and kisses Alex’s cheek, lingering for a moment. “Text me when you've put this one to bed.”

Kara goes stiff in Alex’s arms, and then she’s twisting and squirming to get away. Maggie steps back and Alex squeezes Kara, jostling her lightly. “Say goodnight to everyone, Kara.”

“Goodnight, everyone,” Kara says dutifully. She wraps both arms around Alex as they shuffle to the exit. Kara pokes Alex in the side as they stumble out into the night air. “I could’ve picked her up,” she says petulantly, crossing her arms as Alex guides her into the back seat of a parked taxi.

Alex rolls her eyes and gives the cab driver Kara’s address.

--

Alex drags a not quite cooperative Kara through the threshold of her apartment, cursing under her breath at how irresponsible it has been to let her drink this much.

She should have stepped in sooner.

Kara swears she's not drunk, but Alex knows the signs, can recognize them, eyes closed, and her sister is a major lightweight. She's definitively at least past tipsy by now, if her random stumbling and giggling are of any indication. She's gripping Alex's arm a tad too bruisingly. The novelty and amusement of seeing Kara drunk has worn off quickly, after last time.

And it's Mon-El’s fault, again.

Alex grits her teeth, pushing on Kara’s shoulders to keep her from leaving the couch she's settled her on. It's hard to control a buzzing, inebriated Kryptonian.

“Stay.”

Alex heads to the kitchen, picking up the orange juice from the fridge and retrieving a clean glass.

“Alexxxxxx,” Kara whines, “I'm hungry.”

Despite her sour mood, Alex chuckles. Of course.

“No sweets for you.” She searches through a couple of shelves, finding some chips and packages of crackers at last. It'd be nice to have more carbs around, but it's way too late for take-out.

When she returns, Kara lifts her head, her smile on the side of sleepy. Something warms inside Alex's chest at the sight.

“Here. Eat and drink this.” She pats Kara’s hand when their fingers touch as she gives Kara the food she'd found.

Kara scarfs down the crackers in record time, barely stopping herself from finishing all the chips too. She pauses with a tilted head, looking back at Alex.

“You eat too.”

Alex frowns, but before she can question her, Kara pushes a handful of chips right into her face, crumbly slim fingers pressing against her lips.

“Kara!” Alex huffs out a laugh, backing away when crumbled chips fall into her lap. “Really…”

Kara giggles at her, pinching and grasping at the hem of Alex's plaid shirt to save all the chips she's crushed. She shakes the material in her grasp, exposing a flash of skin in the process, Alex's stomach muscles jumping at the sudden cooler temperate.

Alex circles Kara's wrist and immediately Kara lets go. “Sorry…” she murmurs, sounding more contrite than necessary.

Alex frowns again, but doesn't press. She takes a sip of juice from Kara's glass and then rests on the back of the couch, bleeding out the tension from her shoulders.

This night couldn't have ended sooner.

A gentle poke at her side makes her flutter her eyes open again.

“I'm done,” Kara exclaims, smiling widely as if she's accomplished something big.

Alex rubs her head fondly and watches in fascination as Kara presses back against her palm, obviously pleased by the caress.

“C’mon, sleepyhead. Time to put you to bed.”

Kara is surprisingly obliging, following Alex in silence as they move toward her bedroom. Kara lazily brushes her teeth, mind hazy enough not to use any super speed. When she walks to her bed, Alex is sitting on it, hands on her thighs as she waits.

“Hi,” Kara says, grinning.

Is Alex going to stay?

“Hello again,” Alex echoes with a little smile. It's impossible to stay mad at someone this adorable. She pats the space beside her. “Ready for bed?”

Alex had thought about putting Kara to bed and leaving, but it's clear her sister has other ideas. Kara flops down on the comfy mattress and lifts her arms, asking for a hug.

Alex chuckles under her breath and complies, curling her arms around Kara’s shoulders, drawing her close. Kara exhales warm air against her neck, nosing the skin there happily, holding the thin torso against hers less gently than usual. She tugs at Alex then, no warning, forcing her to stumble on top of her.

“Kara!” Alex laughs, wide-eyed, surprise coloring her voice. She rolls away to the side after a moment. “Pajamas first.”

Kara doesn't move, just grins lazily. “Help me.”

Alex huffs and puffs, but it's all an act. She's always going to say yes whenever Kara asks. She kneels on the mattress, aiding the silly alien’s suddenly very heavy limbs. She lifts Kara's arms, stripping her of the light pullover she was wearing, pointedly focused on the way the action makes her blond hair stick in all directions. Kara just giggles.

“C’mom. Raise your butt.”

“You're a butt,” Kara retorts, batting Alex's hands away from her waist, and thumbing at her pants button on her own.

Alex doesn't move as Kara lifts her hips, clawing at her pants to pull them down. Alex rolls her eyes. She tugs at the material too, helping her sister disrobe quicker. She doesn't have all night.

Who would have thought Kara was going to be such a silly drunk? The thought makes her smirk.

Kara looks up at her, all trust and affection. Alex quirks her lips for a moment before looking away. Pajamas, right.

She goes to the drawer in Kara's room, but in a flash her sister is in front of her, moving way too fast for someone experiencing their second hangover.

“No!” Kara actually yells, taking hold of both Alex's hands, firm, dragging her away from her secret place. The star! She—she can't see Lexie’s gift! That's important!

Alex frowns, utterly befuddled by the panicky shout. “O-okay…” She can't help but look down at Kara, still in her white underwear. “You gonna sleep like this?”

She's a tad uncomfortable in a way she can't explain, something familiar nagging at the back of her head. She forces a disapproving little smile on her face, crossing her arms around herself.

Kara just falls back on her bed, seemingly oblivious to Alex’s thoughts. “Yep! I'm hot.”

Alex just stays at the corner of the bed, tense and confused, glancing down at her sister one moment, the next back at the drawer. A sigh leaves her lips.

“Alright, well, goodni—”

Kara pouts, lifting just one hand to point in her direction. “You don't strip?”

That makes Alex cough a harsh laugh. “No Kara. I'm not staying.”

Kara's face falls in such a heartbreaking manner that Alex's stomach clenches. Those unfairly big, cute puppy eyes should be illegal.

So much for the impressive DEO training.

Alex sits on the end of the bed and leans down to unlace her boots. Okay, just a couple of minutes, she thinks.

Kara yelps at that and claps her hands together, her excitement warming up Alex's spine like nothing else. She immediately curls next to her sister, as Alex lies down, trying to find a comfortable position while still wearing tight jeans.

“Go to sleep,” she murmurs against blonde curls.

“Dun wanna…” Kara says, the alcohol and the rush of having Alex back in her arms finally slowing her down. She can feel the tendrils of sleep wrapping around her head, tantalizingly so, but she stubbornly keeps her eyes open, not keen on missing any moment - not now that she's alone with her sister.

Her chin rubs deliberately on Alex's shirt. Alex just wraps her arms more securely around Kara, one hand splayed at her back, the other clutching her hip.

“Why did you let that idiot push you into drinking this much?” she finally asks, the worry ever present.

“Mon-El?”

“Do you know any other idiot? Wait, don't answer.”

Kara giggles, far too used to Alex disliking most of her male friends initially. She'll grow to like Mon-El too.

“Well?”

“Hmm…” Kara presses with her face against Alex's chest, truths and thoughts spinning in her head in a maddening circle. She can't tell Alex how dark and hot jealousy sometimes burns within her. “Maggie drinks.”

That isn't the answer Alex was expecting. She quiets down, struggling to put into words why she doesn't worry about Maggie like she does for Kara. Kara—she's her little sister, alien superpowers or not, she worries, she just does. Maggie is used to drinking anyway.

“That's not same,” she argues weakly, but Kara just hums. Alex brushes her fingers across Kara’s bare low back.

They stay like that in silence, wrapped around each other. It's something Alex has missed, without even realizing it wasn't there. With each tick of the clock, her eyes grow heavier.

She should text Maggie as promised, let her know that everything is fine. Then she should move, leave before Kara wakes up on alert again, demanding her attention, but it's surprisingly hard. She can’t force herself to do that, it seems, not when Kara has settled comfortably half on top of her, all that Kryptonian weight pulsing like home.

Alex is too comfortable to feel guilty, too at ease to actually leave. This was her favorite position for a long while back in Midvale, after all - the familiarity bringing back fond memories to the front, despite the fact that Kara usually doesn't skip pajamas.

But Alex finds she doesn't mind.

She’s had a long day, Alex reasons, exhausting at the DEO base, no solution in sight for their latest cases, and the alcohol at the bar just makes her lazy in a way she hasn’t been in a while. All she wants is to sleep, to close her eyes and press closer to her sister.

Kara’s warmth seals the deal, lulls her to oblivion—she’s always run a little hotter than normal—and this is home.