“Mom! Mom I’m gonna use your credit card to buy us breakfast, okay?”
Lena groans and covers her head with a pillow.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” she grumbles, digging deeper into her pillows.
The front door opens and closes. It takes Lena a second to bolt up in bed, blinking as she frantically brushes back her hair.
“What the hell…”
Kara swallows her nervousness as she waits for her order, drumming her fingers against the bartop. She feels kind of sick—which is really, really worrying because she should be really happy. She finally kissed Mon-el last week. She finally talked about her feelings and took the chance instead of just being upset—she should be happy, right? She didn’t like seeing Mon-El with someone else. She likes it when he pays attention to her. She didn’t want to confuse him anymore so she just went for it, and now—
Now she’s kind of tired of trying to pass off the twisting in her gut as butterflies. It’s nothing like the fluttery feeling she used to get around James, but then again, that didn’t work out so what would she know?
She readjusts her glasses for the billionth time that morning when a girl hops up to the bar next to her and flags down one of the servers.
“Hi! Can I get Lena Luthor’s usual order, times two, minus the coffee and to go, please?”
Kara’s head whips up at the mention of Lena’s name, something in her chest lighting up.
“You know Lena?” she asks, giving a friendly smile. The girl looks at her, a smile faltering into a shocked gape and Kara jolts at how much like Lena she looks—from the jawline to prominent cheekbones to strong brow that nonetheless come together into the some of the softest expressions she’s seen sometimes. Even her hair is the same shade of black (a soft mahogany in the morning sun), the curls and ringlets pulled back into a high ponytail.
The girl pushes up her black-rimmed glasses before erupting into a bright grin. (And Kara wonders what Lena would look like with glasses)
“Yeah! I’m Lori, her new intern.”
Her handshake is firmer than Kara expected and she’s pleasantly surprised.
“Nice to meet you,” Kara laughs, glancing at the girl’s burgundy MIT hoodie—how old is this girl? “I’m—“
“Kara Danvers, CatCo’s best reporter,” Lori finishes for her, seeming to bounce with excitement.
“Oh, well,” Kara smiles bashfully at the comment. “I wouldn’t say best, really.”
Lori shakes her head adamantly. “For someone who didn’t go to journalism school to be able to keep up with the rest of the team? You’re amazingly talented.” She leans in with a conspiratorial smile—the same one that Lena gets when she’s in a more playful mood— “Give it a few years and I bet you’ll be Editor in Chief.”
Kara just blinks for a moment, because there’s something about how sure this stranger is about her talent, something about the mischievous grin—but she just laughs and shakes her head.
“Thank you, but I can’t imagine replacing my boss anytime soon,” she chuckles. “I haven’t even written that many articles yet.”
The girl shrugs. “Well, Mo—Miss Luthor speaks highly of you, and she’s a got a great eye for potential.”
And there it is again, that lightbulb going off in her chest at the thought of Lena speaking well of her—except, it feels a lot more like a yellow sun grenade than anything else.
“Well, I—I’ll have to remember to thank her the next time I see her,” Kara says, fiddling with her glasses, glancing over at the girl’s bright smile. “You know, you look a lot like her.”
Lori absolutely preens at that. “I get that a lot,” she says proudly. “I’m her niece.”
Kara nearly chokes.
“Oh!” Lori shakes her head. “No, not from U—Lex, I’m from her birth family,” she says, “she offered an internship and for me to stay with her for a while.”
Kara laughs, a little bit relieved that Lex Luthor doesn’t have a child that no one knows about.
“That’s—that’s really nice of her,” she says. “I didn’t know she was still in touch with her birth family.”
Lori shakes her head. “She wasn’t until recently. Hence my sudden appearance!” She makes a facetious show of flicking her hair dramatically, even though it’s all tied up, and Kara giggles, the edge of it trailing off a little. She watches wistfully as Lori gets her order and pays with a cheerful smile. What Kara wouldn’t give to find her birth family still alive and well out there, to find new members of the family she hasn’t met yet—to know that it didn’t all end with her.
Kara tries to ignore the way her skin crawls when Mon-El walks over and plants a kiss on the side of her head.
“Hey,” she says, trying for cheerful and ending up with a little awkward instead. He chuckles at her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “What are you doing here?”
He shrugs. “Just getting some breakfast. Who’s this?”
“Oh!” Kara glances at Lori –who’s giving Mon-El a razor sharp glare—and makes a more genuine attempt to smile. “This is Lori, Lena’s niece. You remember Lena, right?”
He nods. “The Luthor woman with the nice party!” He beams, offering Lori a handshake. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Mike of the Bartenders.”
The girl clutches her breakfast cargo to her chest, looking almost offended, glowering at Mon-El’s hand. She lifts her chin in that same imperious but graceful sneer that Lena does, and Kara can almost hear the air humming with pure dislike.
“Likewise,” she says, although the clear disdain in her voice says she is anything but pleased to see him. She cradles her food in one arm while offering Kara a bright smile. “It was nice to meet you, Miss Danvers. I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah, see you!” Kara says in a flustered rush. Lori gets in one last glare at Mon-El before shoulder-checking him on her way past, leaving him clutching his arm and groaning.
“Wow, you’re really getting better at reacting,” Kara says, really impressed by his seamless grunt of pain. He frowns at her.
“What? No, that actually hurt…” He rubs his shoulder.
She stares at him. “That’s impossible, she’s—she’s human.” Kara looks at the entrance to try and find her again. “I think.”
“That tackle didn’t feel human,” Mon-El grumbles (and Kara tries not to recoil at his whining. It’s always annoyed her—not that she’d ever tell anyone).
She sucks in a breath and pulls out her phone, already dialing Alex.
“This is bad.”
Lena comes downstairs to the smell of coffee, breakfast, and the low grumbles of an unhappy teenager.
She stops at the base of the stairs for a moment to wrap her head around the whole daughter from the future thing again.
“Oh, hey Mom,” Lori says, turning around, decidedly less cheerful. Lena’s not sure if she’s worried or relieved. “Did you sleep well?”
Lena runs a hand through her hair as she narrows her eyes and goes to sit down at the island bench.
“Are you wearing my MIT sweater?”
Lori pauses in plating the omelettes from Noonan’s to glance down at herself.
“Oh. Yeah. Is that okay? I could pass off my pants as being from this decade but not much else, and I know you never wear this, so…”
“Yeah, that’s’—that’s fine, I guess.” Lena blinks as Lori places her omelette and a mug of coffee down in front of her. “Thanks.”
Lori grins at her. “No problem. Bon appétit!”
Lena glances up at the way that Lori’s ponytail bounces as she turns around to gather her own breakfast assortment, feeling a bit put-off by the way the girl moves around in her kitchen like she’s completely at home. She would be, Lena guesses, but it’s still a little… invasive to see a stranger just rifle through your cabinets for cutlery.
She takes a sip of her coffee and her brain stops functioning for a second.
“Oh my god,” she says quietly. “What the hell did you do?”
Lori pales. “You don’t like it?”
Lena gapes. “This is the best coffee I’ve ever had.”
“Oh my god,” Lori laughs, putting a hand on her chest. “Don’t scare me like that.”
Lena takes another sip, drinking as much as she can in one mouthful without scalding herself. It’s just the right amount of creamy, with just enough sweetness to offset the bitterness without taking away any of the earthy kick.
“I feel like you’ve just ruined me for all other coffee.”
Lori grins, almost smugly, taking a sip from her own mug. “I know for a fact I have. You even tried to get me to go to Stanford instead of MIT so you wouldn’t have to live without my coffee.”
Lena blinks. “Wait. You said that you’re seventeen.”
Lori nods, cheeks puffing around a mouthful of avocado.
“And you’re in university?”
She swallows. “Yup. I’m graduating next year. Which is one year later than you did, so I’m actually a little behind.”
Lena feels an odd twinge of warmth in her chest, finding the corner of her lips wanting to quirk up in a smile—so she just takes another sip of the heavenly coffee instead.
Lori startles a bit, suddenly, looking up at the stairs.
“Your phone’s ringing, Mom.”
Lena frowns. “I don’t hear anything?” she says, even as she gets off the stool and pads towards her room. Sure enough she walks in on an insistent buzz underneath her sheets.
It’s from Jess—she misses the call, but gets a string of texts just afterwards and lets out a deep sigh.
“Everything ok?” Lori calls from downstairs.
“Yeah,” Lena calls back, trodding back down to finish her coffee. “I have to go into the office today.”
“Aw.” Lori pouts. “I thought it was your day off?”
Lena shrugs as she sadly chugs her coffee when all she wants to do is savour it slowly. “No rest for the wicked.”
Lori rolls her eyes. “You’re not wicked, Mom.” She finishes her coffee too and perks up. “Can I come with you?”
Lena grips her phone nervously, nail scratching on the surface.
“I’m not sure you’d want to.” She tries for a wry laugh. “It’ll be quite dull.”
“Are you kidding?” Lori hops to her feet. “I get to hang out with a young version of you! This is so cool.”
Another tidal wave of anxiety sweeps through Lena’s chest.
“Are you sure she hurt you?” Alex asks again, crossing her arms.
“Yeah!” Mon-El whines again. “She bruised me right here—look!”
He lifts up his shirt and Kara tries not to think about how she feels as uncomfortable as Alex looks.
Sure enough, there’s a bruise just a little smaller than a fist purpling on the right side of his chest. Alex sucks in a sharp breath, looking over her shoulder at the agents milling about outside the med bay before yanking his shirt down.
“And you said—you said she’s Lena’s niece?”
There’s a terseness in Alex’s voice and Kara immediately squares her shoulders, anger bubbling up in her throat. After everything that’s happened, why can’t people just give Lena the benefit of the doubt? She thinks about the woman’s face when she was being arrested last week—how she looked to be on the verge of tears, defeated, hopeless.
Kara crosses her arms. “I’m sure there’s an explanation. She might not even know.”
“Kara, I know you believe her, but this isn’t something we can afford to ignore,” Alex explains evenly. “You said that she looks exactly like Lena, and she’s clearly not human.”
“I didn’t say that—“
“Kara. You said that she got angry and you heard the kind of humming that you make when you’re about to fire your heat vision.”
“Okay, fine!” Kara throws up her hands. “She looked like she had Kryptonian powers, are you happy?” she huffs. “That doesn’t mean Lena’s up to anything bad.”
Alex lays a pacifying hand on her shoulder. “She might not be up to anything bad, but something is definitely going on. The last time another Supergirl popped out of nowhere was bad, Kara. We have to look into this.”
“Bizarro was different,” Kara hisses, feeling her heart droop at the thought of that poor girl, forced into experiments she never wanted, her want for love used against her. “This is—this is a real girl, with her own name and personality.”
“I, for one, agree with Alex,” Mon-El cuts in, and Kara barely bites back a no-one-asked-you. “We should get Winn to hack into her files and find out if she’s been experimenting—“
“No one is hacking Lena,” she growls. Alex’s brows shoot up in surprise but she pays it no mind, sighing and running a hand through her hair. “Look, I’m just going to go ask her if anything’s going on before we make any breaches of privacy, okay?”
Mon-El starts to speak but Alex holds up a finger to shut him up.
“Okay.” She nods solemnly. “But be careful. We don’t know what this girl wants.”
“Can we get ice cream?”
Lena looks up from her work, quirking a brow.
“We just had breakfast.”
Lori pouts from her seat at the couch, giving Lena some serious puppy-dog eyes across the room.
“What does that have to do with ice cream?” she grumbles, pushing up her glasses. “Jess would let me get ice cream…”
Lena snorts, shaking her head as she gets back to work. She has no idea how Lori’s managed to charm Jess, notoriously wary and sardonic Jess; but within five minutes of leaving the two alone while she went to check on the R&D lab she’s got the straight-edge assistant wrapped around her finger.
Not that Lena can blame her. Lori is terrifyingly easy to get along with.
“Just let me finish up this report and I’ll take you to get gelato.”
She sees Lori fistpump in her peripheral vision.
Lena smiles absently as both of them get back to their tasks, her typing and Lori scouring through google on Lena’s tablet. There’s a strangely amicable silence for a while, both of them in their own heads, until Lori shifts a little and Lena can feel her staring.
“Mom?” (Lena tries not to shiver. That word being directed at her never fails to unsettle her.) “Are you dating anyone right now?”
And Lena hates herself for how her mind zips immediately to Kara—Kara and her bright, sunny smiles, Kara and her tenacious, unyielding goodness, Kara and her unconditional faith in Lena—
Kara, who she is almost certainly in love with. Kara, who has a boyfriend.
Lena remembers the sound of glass shattering in her ears when Kara broke the news that she was seeing someone. She was bashful, excited, sitting there on Lena’s couch with her beautiful smile that crinkled her eyebrow scar, and the reality of unrequited love finally sank in.
Lena always cognitively knew, of course. But feelings rarely leave room for rationality— she told herself that Kara wasn’t interested, all the while still courting her like some lovesick teenager. Allowing her unrestricted access to her office, inviting her to every event, sending her a roomful of flowers—she opened herself up more and more and Kara seemed to welcome it, encourage it, even.
Well. That’s what friends do. She wouldn’t know, she supposes, having never had anyone like Kara before. She doesn’t have any business being heartbroken, really, they’re still close friends, after all—and to be honest, what was she expecting? She’s never been fortunate in the romance department.
Which brings her to the million dollar question.
“No—I’m not, at the moment,” she says, idly playing with her pen. “Lori—if you don’t mind me asking,” she starts, furrowing her brows. “Who is your father?”
Lori claps a hand over a particularly sharp and immediate chortle. Lena shifts in her seat, a little awkward.
“Sorry,” Lori says, reaching a hand out placatingly. “I didn’t mean to—I’m sorry, just, the thought of you with a guy is so funny—“ she stifles another laugh, running a hand over her mouth to calm herself. “I don’t have a father.”
Lena raises her brows. Okay, so single mom, then. That’s not terrifying at all. “So, a sperm donor?”
Lori shakes her head. “Nope. I was conceived through science!” She looks so delighted at the fact. “Though it means I’m half clone, and that’s kind of weird, but it’s whatever.” She shrugs. “I am 100% biologically related to you and your wife.”
“My—“ Lena gapes. “My wife?”
“Yup.” Lori beams. “You’re happily married to the woman of your dreams.”
Lena chortles at that too, rubbing her temple.
“Well. That’s a relief.” A bit of an understatement. “Who is she?”
Then the room bursts with the catastrophic shattering of glass—Lena flinches, ducks, but somehow she’s curled up on the couch, across the room from where she was. Lori stands where the upturned coffee table used to bee, fists clenched as she faces off against—
That cyborg thing that’s been working with her mother.
He crunches through the glass, lumbering closer, sneering at the two of them.
“Hand her over,” he rasps out, and Lena panics as Lori raises her fists.
“Over my dead body, you tincan knockoff.”
He snarls at the insult, rearing to rush her—Lena shrinks, heart beating out of her chest—
She blinks and misses the moment of impact.
Kara’s just about ready to have a heart attack when she hears the windows of Lena’s office shatter, and the telltale growl of Hank Henshaw—she zooms over as fast as she can, pulse thundering in her neck. Oh no oh no. Please be safe please be safe—
She’s so wrapped up in worrying about Lena that she almost doesn’t swerve in time to dodge the cyborg getting shot out of the office.
Kara hovers mid-air to watch him careen by and crash into a billboard fifteen blocks away.
“What on earth…?” She turns back to the office to see Lena recoiled on the couch, otherwise unharmed, and Lori pulling her arm back as if winding down from a punch.
“Lori…?” she hears Lena whisper, as surprised as Kara. The girl turns back to her, taking off her glasses and pressing them into hesitant hands.
“Sorry, Mom, I should probably go deal with that…”
A wholly unpleasant sort of fire starts in her chest, roaring in her ears. Lena has a child—with who?? When?? How?? And why didn’t Kara know?
Her questions multiply when Lori leaps off the balcony and flies up to her, with smiling blue eyes that she would recognize anywhere.
“Supergirl!” Lori grins at her. “Wanna help me kick his ugly faceplate in?”
A garbled scream resounds in the distance and they both flinch.
“Doesn’t sound like I have a choice,” Kara says, puffing out a sigh. Lori laughs before whooshing off, unbelievably fast—almost faster than Kara. She tries to keep up, chasing after her, making to land when Lori grabs Henshaw by the shoulders and chucks him into the sky.
They take off into the air after him.
“Why did you do that?” Kara asks, hair whipping around her face, unable to help the impressed grin tugging at her mouth.
Lori grins right back. “Rule number one,” she starts to say as they land in the desert near Henshaw’s new crater. “Take the fight away from civilian-heavy areas if you can.”
That’s a very good rule, strikingly similar to Kara’s mindset, and she’s puzzled by how Lori says it like an inside joke.
But of course, she doesn’t get the chance to ask anything because Henshaw rushes them with a roar and she finds herself in the most satisfying team up she’s had since she and Alex faced off against Metallo. Lori is always exactly where she needs to be to follow up on one of Kara’s hits, setting Henshaw up for Kara to follow through in turn—they read each other’s movements perfectly and she’s exhilarated by the time Henshaw pounds into the sand one last time.
Lori whoops. “That was awesome!”
And Kara has so. many. Questions. When Lori does a flying cartwheel, because—who is this girl with Lena’s face and the El family eyes and powers just like her own? Where did she come from? She knows she should be wary, be suspicious, but the way that they just synced up when they fought dissipates all the unpleasant doubts from earlier. She just feels this wholesome happiness in her chest, not unlike the reprieve she got from her constant loneliness when Clark visited.
So she just lets it go for now, and laughs.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” she asks, putting her fists on her hips and shifting her weight with a big smile. “That was amazing.”
Lori grins back, mimicking her pose.
“I have a really great teacher.”