Lena Luthor was having a perfectly normal night. Perfectly normal dinner at a perfectly normal restaurant before a perfectly normal drive home in her perfectly normal car.
And Lena Luthor very much cherishes normality—she may not want it all the time, per se, but it’s a nice lull inbetween getting kidnapped by her own mother and being dragged around in a media circus. Or almost getting abandoned to die. Or any of the other crazy shit that comes with being a Luthor, really.
So when she pulls over to answer a call only to have a young girl smack against the passenger side door, yelling at her through the glass, she’s not happy.
“Miss Luthor? Are you there?”
Lena stares and blinks at the girl who’s now pressing both palms and a nose against the door, glasses digging into her face, pouting. She’s seen that pout before—she just can’t place it right now.
“Jess, I’m gong to have to call you back.”
She hangs up and rolls down the window just a crack—the girl wiggles her fingers overtop it, smiling.
She is wholly unprepared for what the girl has to say.
“Mom!” she says, so excitedly, freckles pushing up on her cheeks. “Come on, let me in, quick!”
What. The. Fuck.
“I’m sorry, who are you?”
The girl groans and shakes like she’s stamping her feet impatiently.
“It’s me, Lori—from the future! I don’t have a lot of time to explain, just please let me in?”
“From the what?”
Car horns blast somewhere down the street, and Lori glances quickly before tapping her fingers against the glass more impatiently.
“Please let me in? I know you’re confused but Lillian’s after me and I’ll explain on the way—“
“Lillian?” The honking gets louder and Lena tries to locate the source because there is no way she is letting this—this stranger into her car! This clearly deluded girl who thinks she’s her daughter! She just wants to go about her normal night, future daughter or crazy adoptive mother be damned—
A black van comes squealing down the street behind them.
“Fuck.” She unlocks the doors. “Get in!”
Lori doesn’t need to be told twice. She yanks the door open and slots herself in with frankly quite amazing agility, closing the door just in time for Lena to gun the ignition and take off.
“Mom!” Lori grabs onto one of the safety handles and pushes her glasses up on her face. “Please don’t kill anyone!”
And Lena knows she should care more but she really can’t make any promises when that black van, the same one that she was carted away in, the one where she was told that she was alone, that no one would believe her, is chasing her down again. She can’t think about anything but getting away, getting to safety—until a police siren goes off and she lets out the breath she’s been choking on.
She pulls over quickly, rolling down her window as the cop gets out of the cruiser and walks over, looking positively unhappy.
“Officer, thank god,” she rattles off as the cop rounds to her open window. “There was a black van following me, I think It was my mother—“
“There was no van, Miss Luthor,” the cop says irritably, taking out a ticket pad. “Just you gunning it at twice the speed limit in a busy district.”
“What?” Lena frowns, poking her head out a little bit to look behind her at what is now a perfectly normal street, apparently. “It was right there—“
“It was following us for a few blocks, and we thought we were being chased,” Lori cuts in, leaning over the cupholders. “I’m sorry officer, we kind of panicked.”
The cop levels Lori with a critical eye. “And who are you?”
“I’m Karen, her new intern,” Lori says with a dazzling smile. “Miss Luthor saw me miss the bus and decided to give me a ride.”
The cop stares between the two of them for a moment, before loosening up in almost a sympathetic way, much to Lena’s surprise.
“I suppose you’d be a little jumpy after everything that happened last week, huh?” The cop sighs. “I’m sorry, Miss Luthor, I’d let you off with a warning, but with how fast you were going—“
“No, no,” Lena gulps. “It’s fine, officer, please—I shouldn’t have been going that fast. Thank—Thank you for your concern.”
She tries for a grateful smile, and it’s a little stiff, but the cop returns it while scribbling off a ticket.
“Please try to be more careful next time,” she says with a smile, handing the ticket to Lena.
“I will. Thank you.” Lena tucks the ticket into her purse and gives one last polite smile before rolling up her windows.
“Phew,” Lori says, sinking into her seat. “Glad you see you always drove like that…”
Lena gives her this sort of crazed look because—how can she be so calm about this?? As if Lillian fucking Luthor hadn’t just been chasing them? As if this whole time travel thing is somehow normal?
Her brain overloads a little and she rests her forehead against the steering wheel. Okay, it’s not really the time travel thing that’s freaking her out. With a dash of extra help and a few years time she’s sure she can whip up a prototype of some sort—it’s most that, apparently, in some future, she has a fucking daughter.
“I guess you’ll be wanting that explanation now?”
Lena looks up and nearly flinches because for a moment it’s almost like looking in a mirror, because Lori is doing the same tight-lipped pout that she does—she even has the same shape of eyebrows— and it’s just the slightest touch too much.
“That would be,” she starts, taking a deep breath. “Vastly understating things.”
Lori cringes, and that’s familiar too but not in a looking in the mirror sort of way, just a sort of…. Intimately familiar way that she can’t place.
And oh god she’s noticing all the ways that this girl looks like her.
“Okay, so, before I say anything, what year is it?”
“2017,” Lena says evenly, and something twists in her stomach as Lori’s eyes widen and her mouth drops a little open.
“Wow,” Lori breathes. “Oh my god you’re—you’re twenty-four. You haven’t even had me yet. Oh no. Oh no,” Lori says again, turning her body towards Lena and gesturing awkwardly and where has Lena seen that awkward fumbling before? “I’m so sorry for just jumping in on you like this, I was running from—from her and when I saw you I just—“
“It’s—it’s fine,” Lena sighs, screwing here eyes shut and holding the bridge of her nose. “I think I want to have this conversation after I’ve had a drink.”
Lori’s resemblance to her own mirror image gets even more profound when she’s looking at her in the bright lights of her penthouse, not the darkness of her car. The girl has the same shade of hair as she does, perhaps with even more stubborn ringlets—she has the same strong bone structure, down to the slight underbite.
It’s uncanny, really.
It’s when Lori takes off her glasses to wipe them absently on her shirt, marvelling at the apartment, that Lena zooms in on the differences. The girl’s eyes are a rather striking shade of blue, and slightly rounder—her shoulders are handsomely broad, filling her asymmetrical jacket out nicely, and when Lena takes off her heels she notices that she’s quite a bit taller as well.
“Wow,” Lori laughs, kicking off her—futuristic sneakers?—and drinking in every corner of the flat with a huge grin on her face (she dimples in the same places as Lena). “Is this what it looked like before I was born?”
Lena glances at her as she opens her wine cabinet.
“You know this place?”
“Yeah. We lived here until I turned ten.” Lori scrunches her nose and tilts her head. “Well. I guess it’s will live here.”
She pirouettes again to beam at Lena, hair twirling over her shoulders. Lena pauses to swallow nervously again before she starts pouring herself a glass of wine, because this kid is just so goddamn happy and that unnerves her for some reason.
“Ooh!” Lori hops over. “Can I have a glass too?”
Lena narrows her eyes at her.
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-one,” she replies, without missing a beat. Lena breaks into a smirk because this girl is a natural liar—but so is she.
“Very funny,” she says, ignoring Lori’s pout as she puts the wine bottle away. “How old are you, really?”
“Seventeen,” Lori groans, hopping onto one of the stools for the island bench and planting her chin into her palm. “I was hoping you wouldn’t be as good at that yet.”
Lena shakes her head and takes a sip. “You have the same tell as me. Your left eyebrow twitches just the slightest bit.”
And it hits her that she’s smiling as she talks about this girl like—like she’s really her daughter, so she takes a bigger swig of her wine.
“Okay, so, start from the top,” she says, taking a deep breath and bracing herself against the bench. “You are—“ she gestures at Lori for a moment, words stuck in her throat. “My seventeen year old daughter from the future. And my mother is after you. For some reason. And you’re not fazed by this.”
Lori nods, gnawing on her lip. “Yeah, I’m a little bit familiar with time travel?” She shrugs. “You kind of invent it.”
Lena presses her fingertips to her mouth for a few moments to process, one arm crossed under the other.
“Well.” She laughs a little. “It’s good to know I don’t get rusty over the years.”
Lori breaks into another grin. “God, no, are you kidding? The modern society of my time practically wouldn’t exist without you.”
And there she is again, beaming at Lena like she’s—like she’s proud and Lena tries to withstand that jolt of anxiety in her chest.
“Anyway,” Lori continues, sitting up a little. “Lillian Luthor pulled me here from the future—my best understanding is that she’s found some old prototype of Uncle Lex’s somehow and is trying to get to me so she can open those stupid vaults without you.”
Uncle Lex. Lena almost wants to ask what kind of relationship she has with Lex but she also really, really isn’t ready to hear any kind of answer.
“So why doesn’t she go after a younger version of you?” She cradles her wineglass to her cheek, other hand holding her elbow. “I mean, an infant would be easier to control than a full-grown teenager.”
Lori shrugs, pursing her lips and raising her brows in that exact same way that Lena does. “I mean, I’m sure she tried. Like I said, it’s an old prototype—time travel doesn’t exist properly in this universe until you invent it.”
“Alright. Okay. So, you were pulled her by my maniac mother, who wants Luthor DNA to open the vaults, but you got away, and now you’re going to…” Lena waves her wineglass. “What, exactly?”
“Destroy Lillian’s time device and hide out until you—future you—come to pick me up?” Lori says, more of a nervous question than an answer.
“How will she—I—know when you are?”
Lori grins. “She’ll know. Time travel leaves a residue—she’ll be able to track me to now, give or take a couple of weeks.”
Lena blinks. “A couple of weeks?”
Lori nods, gnawing on her lip again. “If that’s okay? I promise, I won’t affect your life in any way, I know all the time traveler rules by heart.”
Lena puts her wineglass down and rubs her forehead. A couple of weeks. Lori would be here for—as long as a couple of weeks.
“Okay, so, if you know the protocols, then,” Lena starts, gesturing again. “Why are you telling me all this? Wouldn’t you change the timeline, or accidentally erase yourself from existence?”
Lori shakes her head. “Nah. You invented a memory wipe for that—if any of us ever get stuck, we can call on family for help without messing anything up.”
“You’re going to wipe my memory?” Lena hisses in disbelief.
The girl looks alarmed. “Yeah, I mean—I kind of have to.” She wrings her hands. “Please don’t be upset?”
Lena is very upset. Words roil in her head, trying to string themselves together, before she finally just gives up and takes a deep breath.
“I will—“ she looks up with a tight-lipped smile. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”
That’s good enough for now, as far she can tell from Lori’s shoulders relaxing. She wordlessly downs the rest of her wine, a small part of her hoping that this is all a dream and things will be back to perfectly normal when she wakes up with a mild hangover.
“You can take the guest room,” she says finally, sighing. “I’ll try to find you some pajamas that fit.”
Lori brightens up at that. “You’re taking this really well for someone who didn’t even know I’m going to exist.”
Lena shrugs. “You have to learn to roll with the punches—“
“Or you’ll get left behind,” Lori finishes for her, as if it’s a well-worn motto that she’s heard a million times. Lena smirks.
“And, there’s the fact that the probability of you not being my daughter is lower than the probability of time travel.” She gestures to Lori’s face. “I mean, you look exactly like me, with a few minor differences.”
And the girl just lights up like the sun at that—all of her dimples coming out, eyes crinkling with delight, shoulders spreading with glee. As if that’s the best compliment that she could possibly ever hear—and to think that someone can be so happy at the prospect of resembling Lena has the woman reeling in anxiety.
She clears her throat and makes for the stairs.
“Your room is upstairs, second door to the left. The guest bathroom should have everything you need.”
And with that, she turns away.