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the stochasticity project

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“This is a bad idea.”  Kara folds her arms over her chest and glares at Alex.  “Bad.”

“You’re the one who’s been off prancing around another universe without telling anyone,” Alex says, shaking her hair out of her face and glaring right back at her.

“Excuse you, I don’t prance .”

“Kara, you’re basically a living, breathing, sunshine-smiling unicorn,” Alex says.  “Now stop procrastinating and give me that thing.”

“Alex--”

“Kara, please ,” Alex says sharply.  “I just-- I want to see for myself.  I’m not going to go around dumping coffee on other-universe me or anything like that, unlike some people I know, and I’m actually trained in how to be sneaky.  Again, unlike some people who have been going to other universes all alone, so will you please just--”

“I’m going with you.”

“Fine,” Alex says with a huff. “Lead the way, unicorn.”

Kara rolls her eyes and grabs Alex’s hands.  Alex’s pulse pushes through the palm of her hand, faster than normal, and her skin is clammy.  Kara holds on tighter and pulls Cisco’s door out of her pocket.  A portal opens in front of them and they walk through it, together, hands held tight.

 


 

“Boston?”

“Boston,” Kara confirms.  They’re in an alley, snow flurries swirling around them.  Kara peers out of the alley to a bank across the street.  It’s 9:45 in the morning, just like it was in their universe when they left.  

“I-- she lives in Boston?”

“Apparently,” Kara says with a shrug.  “Come on, her shift starts at ten and I’m supposed to meet her to pick up my clothes.”

“What am I going to--”

“Use your superspy abilities to find Lucy?”

Alex rolls her eyes and elbows Kara in the side. “ Fine.  Meet back here in an hour?”

“If you’re not here then I’m going to start flying around to find you, so don’t be late.”

“Go away,” Alex mutters, zipping up her coat and shoving her hands into her pockets as she strides out of the alley.  There’s a library a block away, and she burrows deeper into her coat on her way over.

The row of computers at the library is empty, and she settles down in front of the computer furthest from the entrance.  The desktop is old, the keyboard missing the 9 key and the monitor flickering to life slowly.  Winn would hate the idea of her touching something so ancient, and Alex unwinds the scarf from her neck and slumps down in the chair and sets to Googling.

It only takes five minutes before she’s found articles about Lucy Lane, former Army officer in the JAG corps and current hotshot contract attorney who just made partner at a law firm in Boston.  Alex props her chin in her hand as she scrolls through the articles.  Lucy Lane, in a world without alien threats, left the military just after making Major and is apparently heavily involved in fundraising around Boston and in DC, showing up in articles about youth initiatives and funding newsletters, in pictures at galas with her wife--

Alex pauses, scrolling back up to the picture she’d skimmed past.  That’s Lucy Lane, all right, in a goddamned tailored suit and tie, arm in arm with an Alex Danvers who wears glasses and longer hair and a relaxed air about her, in a dark blue dress that matches Lucy’s tie.  

“Jesus,” Alex mumbles.  She closes the tab abruptly and takes a deep breath, circling back into more business articles.  She has half an hour until she has to meet Kara, and she locates Lucy’s office on Google maps.  It’s only a ten minute walk from the library.  

It’s a bad idea and she knows it.  It’s a bad idea because Kara can get away with talking to other Alex and other Lucy because she doesn’t exist in this universe, but Alex does and she could be recognizing.  It’s a bad idea because it’s not like she can walk into Lucy’s office to see her.  It’s a bad idea and Alex shuts the computer down, yanks her scarf and coat up from the chair, and power walks out of the library to do it anyways.

Lucy’s law firm has the top ten floors of the building, an enormous glass skyscraper that disappears up into the sky.  Alex cranes her head back, hood nearly falling off, and she huffs out a short breath. It crystallizes in the cold air and dissipates.  Her feet don’t move from the sidewalk until the lobby doors open and a familiar voice reaches her ears.

Alex curses and yanks at her hood, pulling it forward to obscure her face and burrowing down into her scarf.  That’s Lucy, striding out of the building in a suit, overcoat unbuttoned and fluttering in the wind, phone pressed to her ear.

“--meeting in the federal building, but I’m coming by with lunch after.  Don’t argue.  I get to bring my wife lunch, even it’s just protein bars and we eat in the locker room.”

Alex stares dumbly at Lucy, at the silver ring on her left hand, the half-smile pulling one side of her mouth up, the way her smile widens when she says my wife .

Lucy strides away, heading down the sidewalk, and Alex blinks slowly, watching as she leaves.  Her wife, in this universe, is Lucy Lane, a lawyer who left the military and runs the fundraising branch of a LGBT youth support center in her spare time, who married Doctor Alex Danvers, who takes time out of her day to have lunch with her wife and smiles, broad and bright and silly, when talking to her wife about protein bar lunch breaks.

Someone bumps into Alex, mumbling an apology and hurrying into the building; Alex sways on her feet for a moment before pulling her feet into movement.  She has to meet Kara soon.  

“Hey,” Kara says when Alex shuffles into the alleyway.  “You okay?”  She has a tote bag from a record store-- of course -- hanging from one arm, her clothes from the day before folded neatly into it.  

“Yeah,” Alex mumbles.  “This is just-- it’s weird.”

“Told you it was a bad idea,” Kara says with a grumble.  She pulls Alex into her side, arm tight around her shoulders, and opens the door home.

 


 

It takes a week of late nights, working after hours and early in the morning, before Alex figures out how the door works.  It takes another month after that to understand how to replicate and recalibrate it to open doors to other universes.  She could have just used it as intended and found the man who made it, asked for his suggestions, but Alex forges ahead alone anyways.  This isn’t something to share.

Her second visit to another universe drops her into the middle of a corn field.  It’s not exactly a success, and she bounces back home and sets to more adjustments.  This time, she falls out of the portal into an empty alley in a city.

New York.  She’s in New York City.  She finds her way to a library once again and sets to Googling.

Alex Danvers in this universe has a LinkedIn page that identifies her as a research lead in a lab in San Diego.  Her lab is focused on developing prosthetics and works heavily with the VA.  Lucy Lane in this universe was also in the military, but didn’t go to law school until after she left the Army, this time in California.  She works for a policy think tank that has offices in DC and Los Angeles, lobbying heavily to support and increase funding to the VA.  

This Lucy has a Facebook page-- a real one, with more than an obligatory profile picture and no real activity on it, like the Lucy in Alex’s universe-- and it takes Alex a solid half hour of fumbling through the vague instructions Winn had given her on how to hack into social media sites.  She’d had to start with bribery and end with a glare and a threat to get him to explain it to her, but was worth it because she makes it onto Lucy’s Facebook and there, right there in front of Alex, are dozens of pictures of this Alex and this Lucy, together.

Alex and Lucy, lounging on the beach with surfboards propped in the sand.  Alex and Lucy, surrounded by friends and raising drinks in a toast.  Alex and Lucy, with Lucy hoisting Alex up for a piggyback ride and Alex’s feet nearly skimming the ground.  Alex and Lucy, dancing at someone’s wedding.

Alex Danvers, research scientist, and Lucy Lane, policy wonk.  They have a dog.

Alex Danvers, DEO agent, stares at the computer screen, blinking slowly.  Her eyes burn, minutely, and she shakes her head.  The clock on the computer reads just after 8:00 in the morning.  She has to get home.

She takes another thirty seconds to study a picture of this Alex and this Lucy, an Instagram candid of Alex Danvers-- short hair this time, and no glasses, but lighter shoulders and a brighter smile-- sitting on the hood of a car with Lucy Lane leaning back against her, head tipped back to rest on Alex’s shoulder.

She has to get home.  

At home, in her apartment, she tacks a sheet of paper up onto the corkboard that’s normally filled with nothing but engineering schematics and mission reports and puts two tally marks up on it.

 


 

She drops into what seems to be Singapore.  It does not go well.  Her fingers scrabble with the door, reopening it so she can dive back through it, because landing in the middle of a police training exercise in Singapore is not exactly an ideal situation.

She recalibrates and this time drops into Amsterdam.  She speaks exactly no Dutch, but manages to find a web cafe-- because those are thing that still exist in this universe, apparently-- and set to her research once more.

Alex Danvers is a surgeon.  She lives in National City, but there’s no Supergirl and there are no aliens, no DEO, no J’onn J’onzz.  She’s an attending at a hospital.  Trauma surgery.

Lucy Lane lives in National City as well.  She’s still in the military, a JAG lawyer with a minimal public digital footprint except for this Alex Danvers’ unsecured Instagram account, which has sporadic pictures of the two of them on brewery tours, on dates, at parties.

She returns home and puts up a sixth tally mark.

 


 

Alex has managed, by now, to calibrate the door so that it doesn’t drop her in Singapore or the Netherlands or the Russian tundra.  She lands in a single-stoplight town in South Carolina instead.  It takes nearly an hour to catch a ride into the nearest city-- Sumter-- and she nearly winds up in an Air Force base, but she finds her way to a library.

Alex Danvers has nothing but a profile page on a company website.  She has a PhD in pharmacology and works in a research lab in Bethesda.  

For Lucy, all Alex can find is a small foundation in her name, started by her sister, for underprivileged youth.  The foundation’s website has a picture of her-- young and smiling and bright-- and a picture of the folded flag that Lois keeps in the foundation’s main office.

Alex returns home with an ache in her stomach and a pressure in the back of her head that she hadn’t felt since the day after she found out her father died.  She tacks up another sheet of paper next to the one that currently has thirteen tally marks on it and puts a single mark on the new sheet.


 

Alex Danvers is an engineer.  Lucy Lane is an immigration attorney in Manhattan.  They have a house in Brooklyn and a pit bull puppy and Lucy’s Facebook page show that she’s at least six months pregnant, left hand with a silver ring always settled proudly over her growing belly.

Twenty.


 

“Alex!”

Alex barely has time to wake up and sit up from the couch before Kara whooshes in from the balcony.

“What--”

“You gotta come to the DEO,” Kara says, hurling a pair of jeans and a shirt at her. The shirt hits Alex square in the face.

“It’s Sunday,” Alex mumbles.  “I was going to--”

“What, go prancing around another universe again?”

Alex freezes, shirt still in hand.  “What do you mean by that?”

Kara huffs out a sigh and paces around the living room, cape swirling dramatically with every turn.  “I know you replicated the door Cisco gave me and the only reason to do that would be to go back without me and that’s fine, I guess, but I still wish you’d told me, and anyways that’s not the point right now, so can you please just get dressed?”

“What’s going on?” Alex pulls her jeans on, swallowing a yawn.  

“I’ll explain when we get there,” Kara says, brandishing boots at Alex.  

“Will there be coffee?”

Kara stops her pacing to stand and glare at Alex, hands on her hips.  

“Hurrying, hurrying,” Alex mumbles.  She ties her boots sloppily and pushes her hair out of her eyes and stands, gesturing to Kara vaguely.

“Finally,” Kara mutters. “Hold on.”  She grabs Alex around the waist and they’re off, rocketing out the window.  

“I hate it when you do that,” Alex says as they land at the DEO.  

“You love it,” Kara says breezily, dragging Alex along.  

“Kara, what are you--” Alex slams into Kara’s back.  She sputters around a mouthful of blonde hair and cape and shoves at Kara’s shoulder.  “You’re made of steel , you jerk, don’t just stop right in front of people!”

Kara moves to the side and pulls Alex up in front of her, lifting her off the ground and depositing her inside the conference room they typically use for debriefings.  

Sitting at the conference table, coffee in one hand and chin propped in the other, is Lucy Lane.

“Hey,” Alex says stupidly.

“Hi,” Lucy says, tilting her head to one side.  “Do you know what this is about?”

“I-- no,” Alex says, pushing at her windswept hair.  “Kara, what--”

The door shuts behind her, and Alex whirls around as the lock clicks.  On the other side of the glass, Kara folds her arms over her chest.

“You two need to talk!” she yells through the door before spinning on one heel and practically skipping away.

Alex stares after her, gaping and shaking her head, because her sister literally just locked her in a room with Lucy Lane.

“So,” Lucy says after a minute.  “What’s up?”

“What’s up?” Alex echoes.  She turns slowly back around.  “What do you mean what’s up , I haven’t seen you in six months.”

“You do realize that the other DEO base is still functional and needs someone to run it, right?”

“Yeah, but you just--vanished.  No more game nights, you didn’t come to Thanksgiving, nothing.”  Alex drops down into the chair across from her.  “Did she kidnap you this morning too?  How did you get coffee?”

Lucy shrugs and smiles at her, small and relaxed, and Alex’s chest pulls tight.  She grips at the armrests on her chair.

“It’s been busy,” Lucy says.  She slides her coffee cup across the table.  “And no, she didn’t kidnap me, she just stopped by my place and asked.”

“Unfair,” Alex mutters into the coffee.  She takes a long sip, focusing on the warmth it brings to her chest to counter the way her stomach knots around itself in front of Lucy.

“So what do we need to talk about?” Lucy’s chin is still in her hand.  There’s no wedding ring on her hand in this universe-- their universe-- and Alex’s teeth grind together.  “Kara said something about going to an alternate universe, which we can table for the moment but are definitely going to talk about later, and then something about how she saw something and you saw something and it was all very irritatingly vague--”

“We’re married,” Alex blurts out.  Maybe it’s the fact that she still hasn’t had enough coffee to be a functional human yet, or maybe it’s the buildup of going to 27 different universes and finding Facebook pages full of herself in love with Lucy lane in 26 of them.

Lucy blinks slowly at her, eyebrows pulling together and hand pulling slowly out from under her chin.  “Say what now?”

“In the other universe Kara went to.”  Alex drops her head into her hands.  “She ran into me-- other me-- the me in that universe.  Who is married to you.  The you in that universe.”

“You and me,” Lucy says.  “Are married.”

“Yes,” Alex says with a sigh.  “I wasn’t sure if I should say anything, I didn’t want to make things weird, so I was just--trying to figure it out on my own before I said anything to you.”

“Figure what out, exactly?”  Lucy leans back in her chair, pushed as far back from the table as she can be without moving the actual chair, and crosses her arms over her stomach tightly.  

“I don’t know,” Alex says.  She scrubs her hands over her face.  “I thought maybe it was an anomaly, an outlier of some kind, which would mean that it doesn’t mean anything.”

“Thought,” Lucy repeats. “You thought that you and I being married in a parallel universe was an outlier.  As in you no longer think that you and I being married in a parallel universe is an outlier.”  Her eyebrows push high up on her forehead and her fingers on one hand tap against her upper arm.  “Why isn’t it an anomaly?”

Alex sucks in a deep breath, not meeting Lucy’s eyes.

“Alex,” Lucy says quietly.  “What did you do?”

“I had to know,” Alex mumbles.  “I had to-- I wanted to see who I am, in a world that isn’t like this one.  Where my dad didn’t disappear and I didn’t blow off a medical career for all of this.”  She waves one hand around vaguely.  

“Alex,” Lucy says again, mouth dropping and tension leaking out of her shoulders.  

“I went to other places,” Alex pushes onwards.  “Other universes.  To see what I could find.”

“You did what ?”  Lucy’s hands tighten around her own arms.  “Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?  You’d yell at Supergirl if she went to Canada without you, and you’re over here hopping between universes like you’re on a sightseeing bus?”

“I know,” Alex says with a shrug.  “But I needed to know--”

“And what did you find out?”  Lucy’s jaw tightens, the muscles working tensely, and Alex’s fingers twitch.

“We were together in 26 of them,” Alex says softly.

“How many did you go to?”

Alex closes her eyes and tilts her head back.  “The only one we weren’t together in,” she says carefully.  “You’d still enlisted in the Army.  You were killed by an IED in Mosul.”

“Oh,” Lucy says, posture finally breaking as she slumps at the table.  “Oh.”

“I’m sorry,” Alex says.  “For--springing this on you.  I wasn’t going to--”

“Tell me?”

“No, I was going to, I promise,” Alex says sharply.  “But I wanted to make sure I knew.”

“Knew what?”

“If it-- we-- were an outlier in this universe or that one,” Alex says.  

“And what do you think?  Now that you’ve done your experiment?”  Lucy finally moves towards Alex.  Even if it’s just to retrieve the coffee, it’s something besides a retreat and added distance, and Alex’s stomach shifts and knots and releases.

“I think that it doesn’t matter who we are in other universes,” Alex says slowly.  “Because we don’t live there, we live here, and we have all of our own history and our own lives and difficulties and complications.”

“Right,” Lucy says quietly.  She fixes her gaze down on the coffee cup.

“But,” Alex says.  She takes a deep breath.  “I always liked you, Lucy, even before all of this.  Before you disappeared--”

“I didn’t disappear,” Lucy mutters at the coffee.

“--and before I knew about alternate universes and before I knew about us in the alternate universes.”  Alex pauses for a split second.  “Not before you arrested me.  I didn’t really like you all that much then.”

“Then what changed?”  Lucy looks up, finally, mouth a thin line.  

“You saved my life,” Alex says with a shrug.  “And J’onn’s, and you helped us and the DEO and Kara.  You were here , and when you’re here you’re pretty impossible not to like.”

Lucy clears her throat and jerks her eyes back down to the coffee.  

“So,” Alex says after a long moment.  “Alternate universes and probability theory aside, do you think you want to try--”

“You’d better not be proposing we try marriage just because of an alternate universe,” Lucy says sharply.

“Well, I was going to suggest dinner,” Alex says, folding her arms over her chest and quirking an eyebrow up.  “But if you want to skip all of that--”

“Dinner,” Lucy rushes out.  “Dinner is good.”

 


 

They go to dinner that night.  The only reservation Alex can find that isn’t at 4:00 or 11:00 is at a restaurant fabulously out of her price range, but she books it anyways, only for them to arrive and find out the restaurant had double booked their reservation.  They wind up with a reservation for another night and head to Noonan’s instead, claiming a corner booth normally reserved for six people, lining up beer glasses and splitting an enormous plate of nachos.  Lucy is spectacularly overdressed, the plummeting neckline of her dress a distraction that results in Alex nearly spilling her beer and her nachos every two minutes.  

It’s easy, the conversation meandering from work to graduate school to family and then circling back to work again.  By the time she’s finished her third beer and shucked the blazer she’d been wearing, Alex hasn’t thought about an alternate universe in nearly four hours because Lucy-- this Lucy, her Lucy, the Lucy who broke her out of a prison transport-- is sitting across from her in a scandalous dress, eating nachos and drinking beer and gesturing wildly with a tortilla chip as she tells some story about West Point.

They take a cab, ostensibly to split up after Alex is dropped off, but Lucy kisses her instead and Alex doesn’t let go of her hold on Lucy’s hips, throwing a set of twenties to the cab driver and pulling Lucy out of the car with her.

She wakes up just before sunrise the following morning to the edges of a hangover and Lucy sprawled at her side, one hand flopped casually over Alex’s ribcage, and smiles.  The corkboard with her tally sheets-- 26 and one-- is in her direct eyeline from the bed and she slides free from Lucy’s hand so she can tear the papers down and drop them in the trashcan.

One.