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we are the next time 'round

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When Kara left Barry Allen’s universe the last time, Cisco handed her a door.  It fit in the palm of her hand and warmed to her touch, a path to help in case of emergencies.

She hasn’t used it for help yet, because she has an entire government agency at her back, her sister and her family and so many levels of support that she can’t count them.  She hasn’t reached a point yet where she’s felt the need to pull Barry from his life to help her, but she has used it.

In Barry Allen’s universe, nobody knows who she is.  There are no Kryptonians on Earth in this universe, no Clark Kent, no Superman, no Kara Danvers, no Supergirl.  Nobody knows who she is, and she can walk in crowds with her hair down and glasses off and never worry about recognition or danger.  She’s just Kara, walking through the city streets and surrounded by people living their lives.

In her universe, Kara is Supergirl, and her adoptive father has been imprisoned by Cadmus for over a decade, and her sister has lost so much and focused so much on Kara that she’s never had the chance to look out for herself.  In her universe, Kara has a lifetime of expectation ahead of her and the weight of the world on her shoulders.  In her universe, there are people to let down and people to save and people to care for.

She leaves, on days off and late in the evenings, and goes to Barry’s universe instead.  She drops into Buenos Aires, London, Johannesburg, Boston, Shanghai.  She drops into new cities in a new universe and walks and walks and walks, until even her Kryptonian feet are sore and her mind has quieted, calmed by the bustle and consistency of crowds of humans who would never think she was anything but one of them.

It’s cold in Boston, the sharp edges of winter pushing people into coats and scarves.  She’s underdressed, her sweater not enough to keep a normal human warm, but she wraps her arms around her stomach and wanders along anyways.  Snow drifts down and clings to her clothes and hair, and she smiles up to the sky.  It never snows in National City, at least not in her universe.  

She walks with her eyes towards the sky and manages to walk right into a person.  Hot coffee sprays all over her and she doesn’t feel it, doesn't move, doesn’t breathe, because there, right in front of her and apologizing profusely, is Alex Danvers.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” There’s coffee dripping down her coat and her hands are reaching for Kara, hovering, uncertain.  Her hair is longer than it is at home, and she’s wearing glasses instead of contacts.  Kara stares for long seconds, staring at her, before realizing that she’s covered in hot coffee that should be burning her skin.  “I’m so sorry, I was on my phone and I didn’t see you at all and--”

“Oh-- I’m okay,” she says belatedly, wiping at the coffee stains on her clothes.  “Really, it just hit the fabric.”  It’s a terrible lie, not least because she’s wiping at the coffee with her bare hands, but she rolls with it.  “Are you okay?  I wasn’t paying attention either, I--”

“I’m fine,” Alex says dismissively.  “Coat took the hit.  Come on, you have to get inside, that’s going to cool and freeze. In this weather”

“I’m okay, really,” Kara protests, but Alex has a hand on her elbow and it’s familiar, and warm, and Alex is Alex in any universe, surely, so she lets herself be dragged around the corner Alex had just rounded and through a set of doors.  “I promise, I really don’t need to be in a hospital.”

“Uh huh,” Alex says, eyebrows raised sharply.  “No comment.  But you will get cold really damn fast if you’re walking around in wet clothes, and I can get you some spare scrubs, at least, so come on now.”

“You’re a doctor?” Kara says, blinking in wonder.  Of course she’s a doctor.  Alex always wanted to heal people, to help, more than she’d ever wanted anything besides keeping Kara safe.  

“Something like that,” Alex says with a smirk.  She waves at one of the nurses and another doctor and leads Kara past them, into a locker room that smells like wet towels and sweat.  “Sorry about the smell.  They don’t clean until an hour or so after shift change, and a bunch of us just finished up, so it smells like sweaty doctors.”

Kara giggles into her hand.  This is Alex in the year between Kara showing up and Jeremiah disappearing, brazen and smirky and charming, comfortable in her skin, happy and relaxed and calm.  

“What kind of doctor?”

“Neurosurgery,” Alex says with a shrug, as if neurosurgery is boring enough to shrug off.  She spins the dial on a locker, and Kara blinks rapidly at the hand holding the lock still.  There’s a silver ring on her third finger, a simple and muted band that is unmistakably a wedding ring.

“You’re married?” Kara says stupidly.  Her knees go weak for a moment.  Alex, this Alex, the one who works in a hospital and walks with a confidence that comes from something that isn’t combat training and a sidearm, is married.  Her Alex hadn’t dated anyone since college, had barely just started understanding her own sexuality, was crying into a glass of whiskey every other night because the woman she’d come out to be with had turned her down.  This Alex is married.

“Hm?” Alex shoots a glance over at her as she pops the locker open.  “Oh, yeah.  Few months back.”

“Wow,” Kara says, searching and searching and searching for words.  “Congratulations?”

“Thanks,” Alex says, brow furrowing at the fact that Kara is, very definitely, being very, very weird.  She pulls a set of scrubs out of the locker and brandishes them at Kara.

“I appreciate it but I promise I really don’t--”

“Trust me, I’m a doctor,” Alex says, shoving the scrubs into her arms.  “And if you don’t argue then I’ll pay for your dry cleaning, since I dumped my coffee all over your clothes.”

“You really don’t have to--”

“If I don’t then I’ll get an earful about it at home, somehow, I’m sure of it,” Alex says with an eyeroll.  “So, for the sake of my marriage, could you please?”  She gestures towards a row of bathroom stalls, flapping her hands to get Kara moving.  Kara pauses for a long second before shuffling over to the bathroom with an armful of scrubs.  There’s a scuff of shoes on tile outside, and Kara risks a look through the closed door to see Alex settling on the bench, coat unbuttoned and smiling down at her phone.

“So when did you get married?” Kara says after a moment.  The scrubs top is a little small on her, her shoulders broader than Alex’s in probably every universe, and the sleeves pull a little at her arms.  

“October,” Alex says from outside.  Kara glances through the door again.  Alex is smiling.  “In Ireland.  Mostly because it meant we got to keep the whole thing small because no one wanted to travel.  My dad was so annoyed.”

“That sounds nice,” Kara says faintly.  The pants are short, unsurprisingly, and she tugs at them in an ineffectual attempt to make the hems reach her ankles.  Her shoes look ridiculous, but she shrugs and rolls her eyes and steps out anyways.  This is Alex, after all.

“That’s an A+ look on you,” Alex says with a smirk.  She holds out her hands for Kara’s clothes.  “I can drop them at the dry cleaners on the way home and they’ll be ready tomorrow.  Do you live around here?”

“Oh,” Kara says, handing the clothes over automatically.  “No, I-- just visiting.  I live in Chicago.”  She stumbles over the words.

“Visiting who?  Should I expect some angry parent showing up to yell at me about letting their daughter wander around Boston in scrubs?”

Kara giggles and shakes her head.  “No, no, just-- staying with my sister.  She’ll laugh at me for walking into someone, but that’s it.”

The door to the locker room cracks open and the nurse from earlier pokes her head in.  “Hey, Danvers, your better half is here.  Apparently you’re late.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Alex says, rolling her eyes.  She yanks the clothes out of Kara’s hands and shoves them into a gym bag in her locker.  “I’m coming.”

Kara stumbles after her, back into the hallway, and then trips over her own feet because there, standing from a bench by the nurse’s station and reaching for Alex and kissing Alex and scolding Alex for being late to whatever it is she was supposed to be doing instead of big sistering a sister she didn’t even technically have in this universe, with a matching wedding band, is Lucy Lane.

Alex’s hands fit easily at Lucy’s waist and she leans into the kiss, the movement too easy to be anything but a familiar, comfortable, habitual.  Kara stares, blinking rapidly, because in her universe Alex is her big sister, a bioengineer and special agent in the DEO, hyperfocused on her work and her family, just now figuring out well into her twenties that she’s gay.  But in Barry Allen’s universe, Alex is a doctor, a surgeon, a woman who moves comfortably through the world with a ring on her finger and Lucy Lane as her wife.

This is who Alex should have been.

“Hey, sorry, I didn’t even get your name,” Alex says, startling Kara out of her stare.  

“What?”

Alex and Lucy both raise their eyebrows at her, and Kara coughs and kicks at the floor for a moment.  “Kara,” she says.  “My name is Kara.”

“Well, Kara,” Alex says.  She grips Lucy’s hand for a short second before letting go of it and holding it out for Kara to shake.  “I’m Alex, and this is Lucy, who I’m supposed to be walking home with, except instead I walked into you and dumped coffee all over you.”

“Nice to meet you,” Kara says faintly, shaking Alex’s hand, and then Lucy’s.  They stand easily next to one another, Lucy’s arm around Alex’s waist and Alex’s looped over her shoulders easily.  Kara shakes her head and focuses on Lucy, who looks like her Lucy, but calmer, happier, lighter.  “I hear you guys just got married.  Congratulations.”

“Thank you, it only took me three years to convince this one here--” Lucy elbows Alex in the side.  “That we should get around to it.”

“How long have you been together?”

“Six years,” Lucy says, glancing up at Alex for a moment, so clearly and unavoidably in love that Kara’s hands go cold.  

“Wow,” Kara mumbles.  “Well, you guys seem happy.”

“It’s all an elaborate facade,” Lucy says seriously.  “I’m clearly just in it to be a trophy wife.”

Alex rolls her eyes and claps a hand over her mouth, shaking her head at Kara.  “Ignore her, she’s the real breadwinner.”

“What do you do?”  Kara can’t help but smile at them, and she smiles even wider when Lucy mumbles something into the hand Alex still has over her mouth.

“She writes really fancy contracts for people with lots of money,” Alex says,keeping her and secure over Lucy’s mouth. “Like the US government.”

Lucy rolls her eyes and yanks at Alex’s wrist.  “You taste like hand sanitizer.”

Alex scoffs and wipes her hand on her coat.  “Anyways, Kara, I have a shift tomorrow.  Starts at ten.  I can have the dry cleaning here for you then.”  

“You really don’t have to--”

“Does too,” Lucy says.  “We can also have them delivered--”

“No!” Kara says loudly.  “I mean-- no, that’s really too much, I promise.  I’ll just come by and get them.”

“If you’re sure,” Alex says slowly.

“I am, I really am,” KAra says, nodding rapidly.  “Totally sure.  10:00 tomorrow.”

Alex digs a business card out of her coat pocket and offers it to Kara.  “In case you can’t find me.”

“Thanks,” Kara says, soft and a little sad.  “I’m sure I’ll be able to.”  She folds the card and slides it into the scrubs pocket.  “Thank you for the change of clothes.”

“No problem,” Alex says, tucking her arm back around Lucy’s shoulders.  “See you tomorrow, then, Kara.”

“Tomorrow,” Kara says with a small smile.  “It was nice to meet both of you.”

“You too,” Alex says.  Lucy smiles at her, warm and familiar, and Kara clenches her toes in her shoes to keep herself from falling into both of them, hugging them, feeling their happiness and carrying it back to her Alex.  Instead, she just waves, watchign as they walk down the hall and disappear through the doors.

She shakes herself into movement as the doors shut behind them and starts down the hallway as well, casting her hearing out to see what more she can reach of them.

“--can’t believe you threw coffee on a stranger.”  That’s Lucy, and Kara smiles in spite of herself.

“Don’t judge me,” Alex grumbles.  “Come on, let’s go home.  I want to have dinner with my wife.”

“Who’s that?  She sounds hot.  I’m sure you have excellent taste.”  

Kara smiles wider and pushes through the doors.  The door back home is tucked into her pocket, and she wanders three blocks in the other direction before sending herself home.

She drops into her apartment, and there’s a crash suddenly.

“What the-- Alex ,” Kara says, because Alex-- her Alex, DEO Alex with short hair and contacts and a missing father and no wife and no girlfriend-- is in her kitchen, crouching over a broken glass. “What did you do?”

“I dropped a glass going for my gun because a damn portal just opened up in your living room,” ALex mutters.  “What the hell was that?  Why are you wearing hospital scrubs?”

“I was visiting,” Kara says softly, kneeling at Alex’s side and resting a hand on her arm, gesturing for her to let Kara pick up the glass.  “What are you doing here?”

“Visting who?  Where?”

“Barry,”  Kara says with a shrug, carefully not looking at Alex or the lack of a wedding ring on her hand.  “More or less.”

“Barry, as in the alternate universe guy?  You’re just bouncing between realities now?”

“I just--” Kara sighs and gathers up the rest of the glass.  “It’s quiet there.  No Supergirl, no kryptonite, no one to worry about recognizing me.”

“Kara,” Alex says, soft and gentle, the way she always does. “What’s wrong?”

“Are you happy?” Kara says suddenly.  She dumps the glass shards into the garbage and dusts off her hands.

“What?”

“Are you happy?” Kara says again.  She waves her hands around her.  “You know… here.  With me.  And the DEO.  Are you happy?”

“I…” Alex starts.  Her forehead creases.  “I don’t know,” she says after a long moment.  “Maybe not right now, because of…”

“Because of Maggie?”

Alex shrugs and pushes her hair back out of her face.  “I don’t think I’m unhappy,” she says.  “I think I would be happier if I knew what had happened to Dad, and if I knew you were safe, but I don’t think that I’m unhappy.”

“Are you sure?”

“Kara, what’s going--oh my God,” Alex says.  Her eyes go wide, almost comically so.  

“I didn’t mean to!” Kara says, hands up and out.  “I promise, it was an accident, I was just walking around and I bumped into you and--”

“Another me,” Alex says faintly.  “Not me, but me in another reality?”

“Yeah?”

“What did you-- did you talk to her?  Me?”

“Yeah,” Kara mumbles.  “For a while.”

“What’s she-- what is she like?”

“I can’t tell you that,” Kara says.

“What?  Why not?”

“Because-- because--” Kara struggles for a moment.  “Because of the space time continuum?”

“Kara,” Alex says sharply.  “Even if that was a real thing, that would only apply to time travel.”

“Damn,” Kara mutters.  She huffs out a sigh and drops down onto the couch.  Alex paces in front of her, waiting, arms wrapped around her stomach.  “She’s a doctor.”

“Really?”

“Neurosurgeon.”  Kara nods.  “She doesn’t wear contacts.  Just glasses.”

“Oh,” Alex says.  “What else?”

“Um, you know,” Kara says, shrinking further into the couch.  “Nothing much.”

“Kara,” Alex says again.  

“Alex, please, I don’t want to--”

“To what?  Tell me what I’m doing in this other universe where you’d rather spend time, where I’m not a part of your life?”

“What?”  Kara blinks rapidly, sitting up straight.  “No!  That’s not why-- I just-- your life is so different there, and I don’t want you to focus on--”

“Is Dad alive?”

Kara’s mouth snaps shut, teeth clacking audibly.  

“Please,” Alex says quietly.

“Yeah,” Kara says.  “You-- you talked about him.  A little.”  She takes a deep breath.  “You’d just gotten married.  In Ireland.  You said he’d been annoyed at having to travel.”

Alex drops down to the couch at Kara’s side, head in her hands.  “He always did hate flying,” she mumbles.  Kara reaches for her, hesitant and uncertain until Alex leans into her side.

“Married?” Alex says after a long moment.  Kara grinds her teeth together.  “Am I-- is she-- am I married to a--”

“A woman,” Kara says.  She nudges at Alex’s shoulder. “You’re so gay it shows up in every universe.”

Alex groans into Kara’s shoulder and slaps at her arm.  “What was my-- what was she like?”

Kara bites down on her lip, hand moving up and down Alex’s arm absently.  “Smart.  Funny.  A lawyer.  You guys had been together for six years before you got married.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Alex says indignantly.  “Six years?  Seriously?”

“Yeah, well, apparently you were the one dragging your feet,” Kara says with a grin.

“Jesus,” Alex mutters.  “You went to another universe.  And ran into me.  Who’s a real doctor, and married, to a lawyer.  A lady lawyer.  After dating for six years.”

“Yeah,” Kara says softly.

“That still doesn’t explain what happened to your clothes.”

“Oh,” Kara says, glancing down at the scrubs.  “I walked into you.  You spilled coffee on me.”

“Of course you walked into me,” Alex says.  She flops back in the couch, dropping an arm over her eyes.  “This is a lot.”

“Ice cream a lot?” Kara hops to her feet, shoving her hands into the scrubs pockets.

“Ice cream a lot,” Alex confirms.  She opens one eye to look Kara up and down.  “Can you change?  The scrubs thing is weird on you.”

“Hey, I could be a doctor, you know.”  Kara points sharply at her before spinning around and heading to the kitchen.

“You dropped something,” Alex mutters, but Kara has her head in the freezer and isn’t paying attention until she hears her name come out, sharp and strangled.  She speeds back over to the living room.  Alex is staring at a crumpled business card, and she looks up at Kara with wide eyes.  “Doctor Alex D. Lane,” she says slowly.  “Married to a lawyer.”

Kara’s eyes go wide.  “Shoot,” she mutters.  “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I just-- there’s Maggie and I know you really like her and it’s a different universe and so many things are different so--”

“In this other universe I’m married to Lucy Lane ?”