Sitting in her apartment, Lena watches how her hands tremble, threatening to shake loose the glasses so gingerly held with her fingertips. She tries to focus on her breathing and the world around her— the bright sunlight glinting through her full-length windows, the softness of the carpet underneath her feet, the thread of the armchair against her elbow—but her mind keeps looping through that moment when Lori took off her glasses and pushed them into her hands, smiling apologetically, haloed by the morning light, before turning around and taking off into the air from her balcony like she’s seen Supergirl do so many times.
Supergirl. Kara. Lori.
She slowly opens the arms of the glasses with her thumbs, hesitantly bringing them up to her own eyes. There’s no change in focus. The lenses are prescriptionless.
Lena quickly collapses the frame into her hands and screws her eyes shut.
She startles at a loud thud, looking up to see Lori on the far side of the veranda. The girl smiles brightly at her before running for the sliding door, vaulting over a chaise on the way.
“Mom!” the girl says as soon as she’s through the door. “Are you okay? I’m sorry I had to run off like that—“
“Yeah, I’m—“ Lena runs a hand through her hair as Lori sits across the coffee table from her, taking a stuttering breath. “I’m fine.”
And now that she’s sitting in front of her, it hits Lena like a truck how much she resembles Kara. How all the familiar things she couldn’t place were Kara’s—the blue eyes, the broad shoulders, the nervous way she fiddles with her glasses, the pout, that smile—even the ringlets in her hair aren’t like Lena’s. They’re like Kara’s. Supergirl’s.
“Phew,” Lori laughs. “I was a little worried when I didn’t find you at your office, but I guess you wouldn’t have stayed.”
Not a lot of her words register for Lena. “Lori,” she starts, taking deep, measured breaths. “Did I marry Supergirl?”
And the girl grins at that, albeit a bit sheepishly. “I guess the cat’s out of the bag after that, huh? I wanted to wait a bit before I told you so I wasn’t dropping too many bombs on you—you should have seen us today, though!” Lori leans forward on her knees, excited and animated. “It was so amazing—she’s never let me get that involved in a real fight before, you know? She’s always telling me to hold back, be careful, but today we fought like—like real partners!”
Things start clicking for Lena. The way Lori looked at her with attentive eyes over breakfast while chewing a full mouthful, the way she ducks her head a little bit when she starts smiling, all of it—
“And she was impressed with me! I think I’m gonna tell her when I see her later, Mom—“
“Don’t!” Lena hisses, holding the bridge of her nose. “Call me that. Please.”
There’s a terse silence and she gets up, walking a few steps away for breathing room, back turned. She presses her hands flush against each other and brings it up to her face, taking a deep breath.
“Lori, I need you to understand,” she says, turning around and lowering her hands in a sort of stiff point at the girl. “You’re a good kid, okay? But all of this is incredibly overwhelming, and I need—I need you to stop.” She crosses her arm underneath her chest, holding her other elbow and nervously cradling her hand into the crook of her neck. “Stop all of this, okay? I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your mom, but I am not her. Whoever she is—whoever I end up turning into, I don’t know her. All I know is that a—a stranger turned up and claimed that I marry Kara and that she’s my family and I need some space to wrap my head around it, okay?” She takes a deep breath, trying to even out her heartbeat. “I don’t exactly have the best experience with family. I don’t even know how you exist—“ she gestures at the wide-eyed girl again—“I don’t want kids, I never have.”
She regrets the words the second they leave her mouth—Lori straightens up immediately, clenching her jaw and straining to keep her mouth from crumpling, eyes going glossy with nascent tears. The tendons in her neck tense and she stands, hands fisted to her sides and her chin raised defiantly.
“Lori—“ Lena takes a step forward and half reaches out to the girl, guilt thick in her throat. “I didn’t—I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that—“
“No, it’s alright,” Lori says, crossing her arms and trying for a shaky, but still sharp smile. “I understand,” she says, cutting her last word off quickly when her voice starts to tremble too.
“Look, I’m sorry—“
“I should go,” the girl says, stepping out around the couch and towards the veranda door, eyes downcast. “I told Y—Supergirl that I’d be back to talk after I made sure you were okay.”
There’s a short flurry as Lori opens the door and takes off before Lena can say anything else. Her MIT sweater drops to the spot where Lori was sitting a few moments ago. She stares at it as she stands there, outstretched hands slowly falling to her sides, feeling her own tears burning up her throat and around her eyes like a criminal’s brand. She should congratulate herself, really, what a wonderful job she’s done—not even a full twenty-four hours into meeting her daughter and she’s already managed to make the girl feel utterly unwanted, how typical.
Lillian would be proud.
“I still can’t believe you let her go.”
Kara rolls her eyes, fiddling with one of the devices they found on Henshaw’s person. A signal jammer using a powerful electromagnetic pulse, it looks like. She wonders how he was planning to use it without shutting down his entire system as well.
“She’ll be back, I promise.”
“I mean, how does she even know where the DEO building is? Don’t you find that a little bit suspicious?” Alex says, grimacing while struggling with a screwdriver.
Kara puts down the jammer and sighs, giving Alex a beleaguered pout. “We can trust her. I know it.”
“Supergirl, you said that she had the same powers as you, that she was even faster,” J’onn interjects gravely, leaning on worktable. “You took a big risk in letting her go.”
“Guys, just trust me, okay?”
Alex frowns. “Kara, I know that you care about Lena a lot, but just because she looks like her—“
“It’s not that. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just like—“ Kara gestures with her hand before dropping it to the table with an exasperated puff. “Like I knew her.” She sighs again and shakes her head. “There’s this word in Kryptonian—ukiem. It means familial love, but it also means the innate instinct we have to…” She purses her lips. “To recognize family, sort of. To recognize others of our own blood.”
She looks up to see Alex has put down her tools in favor of giving her an intense, worried look.
“And you felt that with her?”
Kara nods. “I know it sounds crazy to you guys, but just… just trust me, okay?”
“We do, Kara,” J’onn says. “It would just be nice if you followed protocol once in a while.”
His lips curl into a smile as he delivers the quip and Kara laughs softly before returning it gratefully.
Kara starts at the commotion, darting out of the analysis room to see agents standing to attention, guns out—and Lori, on the staircase landing with the balcony that Kara usually uses to fly in and out, with her hands up and eyes wide. Gone is the MIT sweater, and in its stead a black jacket with a zipper that goes up diagonally across the chest and a big, loose turtleneck collar that rests like a big scarf.
“Stand down!” Kara shouts as she jogs down the steps to her. “It’s okay, she’s with me.”
The agents reluctantly lower their weapons as she reaches Lori’s side.
“Supergirl, she flew in here—“
“I know.” She waves them down. “I got this.”
Pausing a moment to make sure they scatter, she turns to Lori and feels her heart jump to her throat. The girl’s jaw is clenched tight, lower lip trembling slightly, eyes red and glossy with held back tears and it’s the same desperate look she’s seen on Lena when trying not to cry.
She places a soft hand on Lori’s shoulder. “Hey, is’kah, what’s wrong?”
The endearment just kind of slips out of her without any thought—Lori’s head snaps up to look at her, lip crumpling before her eyes brim with tears and she throws herself into Kara’s arms, shaking.
Kara pulls up her arms immediately to hold her, letting the girl tuck her chin on her shoulder. Her heart warms with affection as she notes that they’re the same height—she pulls one hand up to stroke her dark hair, murmuring softly.
“Hey, hey it’s okay.” She rubs the girl’s back with gentle firmness. “I got you. I got you—what’s wrong?”
Lori shakes her head. Kara makes more comforting noises before pulling away slowly, drops her hand down to hold Lori’s.
“Come on, lets get you sat down.” She tugs her towards the stairs, squeezing her hand. “Do you like ice cream?”
And Lori looks up at her with such big, sad blue eyes that Kara finally understands what Alex means when she tells her that pouting is cheating.
Kara, of course, harnesses that power immediately. It takes Alex a total of about three seconds before she caves to two puppy pouts, relinquishing her secret stash of ice cream that she hides in an empty sample freezer.
The way Lori almost steps forward as if to wrap Alex in a hug before catching herself raises even more questions, but Kara lets the girl take her time to wallow. They sit side by side on a couch in one of the agent lounges, glass walls tinted for privacy. Lori shovels ice cream into her mouth with sad fervour that reminds her of the way Alex stress eats, and she feels her heart grow impossibly big.
She takes and washes both of their bowls in the sink on the far side of the room with superspeed when they finish, sitting back down with an encouraging smile afterwards. Lori fiddles with the strap of her watch, not looking up as Kara shifts to face her.
“I guess you’ll be wanting an explanation, huh.”
Kara chuckles. “Well. That would be nice.” She presses her lips together for a moment. “But that can wait if you don’t feel like it.”
Lori shakes her head. “No, I mean, Au—your sister probably wants to know what’s happening, like pronto.” She allows herself a tiny smile before letting it fall again. “I’m from twenty-two years in the future. Lillian Luthor pulled me here using a crude time machine.”
Kara frowns, untucking her cape from beneath herself. Time travel. A line of development that was very harshly banned on Krypton for fear of corruption of the time stream. She figures the humans would be starting to delve into around now.
“Because she needs Luthor DNA to open those stupid vaults,” Lori snorts. “I’m guessing you figured out that Mo—“ she swallows. “Lena is actually Lionel Luthor’s daughter.”
Kara nods. Lena told Supergirl a few days after the incident, reeling from the revelation and needing someone to confide in.
“And you’re Lena’s daughter,” she says.
Lori gnaws on her lip as if to stop it from shaking, tucking her chin for a moment before nodding.
“How was she?” Kara asks. “When you went to check on her?”
The girl seems to shrink in on herself a little, eyes flushing a bit with tears.
“She—she was fine. She just—“ Lori sniffles, cradling her face.
“Hey,” Kara coos as she scoots closer to wrap her arm around Lori’s shoulders. “Did something happen?”
The girl shakes her head before letting out a weak laugh, pushing the hair out of her face and taking a deep breath.
“It’s not a big deal—I really, really shouldn’t be so upset,” she laughs, trying to laugh off her imminent sobs. “I dropped into her life out of nowhere and just acted like she would know me and—anyone would freak out at that, I have no idea what I was thinking—“
Lori stops as her voice cracks, sniffling and turning her head away to gather herself.
“It’s just that she’s never yelled at me like that before,” she confesses in a hoarse whisper. “She gets stern, and she can be scary, but she’s never just…”
Her shoulders start shaking and Kara pulls her in, stroking her hair again.
“Shh, it’s okay,” she rubs her back. “It’s okay to be upset.”
Lori shakes her head, tucking her face into Kara’s shoulder. “I just can’t believe how stupid I am—“
“You’re not stupid, Lori.” Kara hugs her tighter.
“Kara, there’s a situation—“ Alex bursts in and blinks quickly at the two of them before she shakes her head and continues. “Lena’s security system’s been breached.”
They both snap to attention.
“What?” Kara strides over, glancing back at Lori quickly—the girl’s following them with an equally intense frown—as she pushes through the door after Alex. “How do you know?”
“We’ve had an alert on her home security ever since she was kidnapped,” Alex says, hurrying down the steps. “Just to get a heads up if Lillian Luthor ever tried anything again—it just pinged a few minutes ago. Someone’s in her house.”
Kara starts towards the balcony landing. “I need to—“
“Kara, wait, we don’t know what’s happening and—“
A loud whoosh sets off behind them, and when Kara turns Lori is gone.
Lori’s already tearing through the door when Kara lands on the veranda behind her.
“Lori, wait!” She zooms into the house, trying to wrangle the girl into taking a breath to think.
“Mom?!” Lori calls out into the apartment, only grunting a little when Kara grabs her elbow.
“Lori, calm down—“
A familiar sickness grasps at her chest, pain rattling through every bone in her body—she sinks to her knees, crying out.
“How predictable of you, Supergirl.” Lillian Luthor saunters down the stairs into view, that insufferable smug smile on her face. She pushes a muffled and gagged Lena forward—Kara’s heart aches when Lena falls down the steps and into the floor with a muffled yelp of pain, and she can’t will her leaden limbs to move at all.
“Mom—“ Lori gasps, on her knees as well, trying to crawl forwards to Lena. Lillian steps between them, and swiftly kicks the girl in the ribs with a laugh.
“Lori!” Kara tries to reach out to her. Lena screams, eyes widening, body lurching forward towards Lori, but Lillian pushes her back.
“I’ll never understand what you see in these abominations, Lena.”
In her hand is a glowing green device—just looking at it makes Kara nauseous.
“Where did you get that?” She manages to say, struggling to get back to her feet.
Lillian glances at the device nonchalantly. “Oh this? Just a little gift my son left for me. A kryptonite simulator, you see—it gives off radiation at the same wavelength that breaks down your cells.” She smiles at them, thoroughly pleased with herself. “The drawback is that it burns out in five minutes, but I’ll be long gone with Lena by then.”
“You’re not—“ Lori gasps. “You’re not going anywhere with her!”
Lillian’s expression falls flat.
“You’re right—I’m not leaving until after I’ve put you down.” Kara feels horror filling her chest like bile as the woman pulls a gun from inside her coat, clicking off the safety and pointing it squarely at Lori’s head. She begs her body to move, to act—
“No, please, don’t hurt her!” she screams, struggling forwards.
Lena lets out a hoarse shout again, struggling to her knees with her hands tied behind her back, trying to get to Lori—but Lillian turns with a seamless backhand and drops her sharply to the floor.
“Don’t get in the way, Lena,” she says in the same tone a parent would admonish a petulant child. “I’m going to fix your mistake—I couldn’t believe my eyes when she tore through my containment field, honestly. My daughter, a Luthor, consorting with the likes of them—“ Lori winces as she waves the gun towards the Kryptonians. “Bringing this filthy half-breed into the world.”
“I am not a half-breed!” Lori shouts, crying out when Lillian kicks her again.
“Hurts to be called that, doesn’t it, you mutt?” She laughs. “Not alien enough to be anywhere near as strong as your kin, not human enough to fit in. You live your pathetic life, knowing that you’ll never belong anywhere, that you’ll always be a disgusting chimera—“ she levels her gun at Lori’s head again. “Well, I’ll do you a favor and put you out of your misery.”
Lori growls once before bracing her hands against the floor and swinging her legs up, using the momentum to kick the gun out of Lillian’s hands. The woman cries out, clutching her wrist to her chest, before watching Lori get to her feet with horror—she stretches out the kryptonite device to ward her off, but Lori only winces before charging forward.
“I am not a chimera,” she declares, grabbing Lillian’s arm and twisting it sharply before kneeing her in the gut. She grabs the woman by the collar and lifts her up off her heels, leaving her clawing at her hands and gasping.
“My name is Lorelai L. Danvers!” She snarls, lifting Lillian higher. “A proud daughter of the House of El and the Luthor dynasty—I am more than a sum of my parts, and you will never lay a hand on my mother ever again!”
Lori pulls one hand away to punch Lillian in the face, hard—the woman falls to the floor from the impact, dropping the device. Lori cradles her bruised fist to her chest before limping over to where the device skidded, forcefully crushing it under her heel.
Kara feels the pain in her chest lift as soon as the green light goes out—still a little woozy, she jumps to her feet, ready to restrain Lillian—the eldest Luthor gives her one terrified look before pulling out yet another device from her pockets and Kara claps her hands over her ears at the painful screech.
It only stops a few moments later—she opens her eyes to Lena clutching the device in her hands, having maneuvered to deactivate it behind her back. Lillian is nowhere to be seen, only the apartment’s front door hanging open. Kara curses under her breath before hurrying over to Lena’s side, quickly heat visioning the cuffs apart and tugging the knots of the gag loose.
“Lena.” Her heart clenches at the red lines running from the edge of Lena’s mouth—she brushes dark hair out of her face, feeling herself relax with relief—Lena is here, vulnerable green eyes and all, Lena is safe.
“Supergirl,” Lena whispers, bringing a hand up to Kara’s face and hovering just and inch from her skin. “Are you alright?”
She nods, unable to hold back a quick laugh. Lena’s the one who almost got kidnapped again, and she’s worried about Kara. Lena sighs, relieved, before furrowing her brows and turning away. Kara watches her get up and rush to Lori, kneeling down again and trying to coax the girl to uncurl from her tense position.
“Hey,” Lena murmurs, smoothing her hands over the girl’s back and leaning in to where Lori’s hiding her face. “Lori, are you okay?”
“Loud noises,” Lori whispers, hugging herself tighter. “Not good.”
And Kara suddenly remembers so viscerally, her first years on Earth when everything was too loud and her chest would feel full of water and panic and all she could do was curl up and try to protect herself from the world.
Lorelai L. Danvers.
She looks at Lena running a hand through Lori’s hair and feels in her chest what she’s known since the moment she met Lori—this is her child. Her daughter.
She pads over to them and tries for a reassuring smile when Lena gives her a worried glance.
“She’ll be okay in a few minutes. Just stay with her.” Her heart twinges when Lena wraps her arm around Lori and nods. “I need to get back to HQ and report in on what happened, but I’ll be back. Will you be okay?”
“Yes,” Lena says softly. “We’ll be alright.”
Her whole body hesitates before she heads towards the door, as if it’s waiting, as if it’s missing something—but she wills herself to turn and walk away.
Her daughter. She has a daughter. With Lena. A headstrong, talented daughter. With Lena.
A grin stretches across her face as she flies through the warm afternoon glow.
When Lori finally speaks up again, it’s a quiet mumble that Lena doesn’t quite catch.
She looks up from where she’s sitting cross-legged on the bed across from… from her daughter. She moved them into the bedroom after Kara left, figuring Lori would appreciate something softer to curl up on than the floor.
“Did you say something?” she asks, keeping her voice low as to not startle the girl. Lori finally peeks out from her curtain of dark hair, pushing it back with her newly-healed hand.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbles again, glancing up quickly and nervously. “For earlier.”
Lena closes her eyes and sighs. “No, Lori, I—I’m the one who needs to apologize. I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”
Lori shakes her head. “No, I understand, you were freaked out—“
“And there are better ways to express that.” Lena wrings her hands. “Look, Lori—I was being unfair to you and getting angry when I was actually scared about something else.”
The girl looks up at her, the sunset light glinting in those blue eyes that inspire so much affection in Lena that it’s terrifying. Lena pauses to gather her thoughts and pushes on through the fear.
“I didn’t have a particularly good relationship with my parents. I think Dad loved me, and he was kind, but he was never around, and Mom—“ she laughs. “Well. You’ve seen what she’s like.”
The joke doesn’t quite land—if anything, Lori looks sad and angry, her fists clenching in her lap. Lena takes a deep breath and continues.
“My point is that I don’t really have an example for what good parenting is like.” She raises her brows and shakes her head lightly, looking down at her hands. “Everything was always a transaction—I would get a gift if I did this, I was only allowed to do something if I didn’t do another thing, and so on. And—“ she hesitates. “And a lot of my relationships ended with me hurting someone because that was the mindset I brought with me.”
(And for the longest time, she just sort of accepted that that’s how she was—she wasn’t capable of love. She didn’t think she deserved it. And then Kara Danvers came crashing into her world with her unconditional affection and she felt like she was being allowed a glimpse of light after being kept in the dark her whole life.)
“But when you got here, you were just so happy to see me and… I freaked out.” She sighs, blinking at the ceiling to try and collect back some of her pooling tears. “I got scared and lashed out because I couldn’t see myself in a future where my family was happy. A future where, I had a daughter and I wouldn’t make her hate me. Where I would actually get it right.”
She manages to get through that last part without her voice shaking, so small victories, at least—she finally looks up at Lori with red eyes and a wry, forced smile. Lori’s just staring at her with such a sad face—brows crinkling, mouth downturned, head tilted. After a moment she reaches forward and takes both of Lena’s hands into hers.
“Mom, I can’t… I can’t think of a single time when I was upset with you and you didn’t make it better.” She runs her thumbs over the backs of Lena’s hands. “And not because you always gave in, or spoiled me—you would sit down with me and talk, try to understand how I felt. No matter how busy you were with work, you always took the time to make sure we understood each other.” Lori shakes her head and smiles sadly. “You’ve been my best friend since before I can remember.”
Lena holds onto Lori’s hands, squeezing her fingers harder and harder with every word, trying to hold back the tears. The thought of it—her being the mother she always wanted, the one she has no idea how to be—makes every heartbeat ache like a bruise, somehow makes all the old wounds in her memories open like there’s no tomorrow. She pulls back one hand quickly to catch a tear that gets through, turning her face away.
“Oh my god, please don’t cry,” Lori sniffles, wiping at her own eyes. “You’re making me cry.”
“I can’t help it,” Lena laughs, pulling away her other hand to and using the heels of her palms to stop the tearstreaks. “I’ve always been a bit of a crybaby.”
“I know,” Lori laughs too, sniffling loudly. “I get it from you.”
She takes a deep breath, turning her face up to blink at the ceiling just like her mother did a few minutes ago—before glancing through the windows at the veranda below.
Lena turns, and sure enough, Supergirl waves awkwardly from beside one of the lounge chairs. Lena snorts before pushing herself to the edge of the bed and heading downstairs to greet her, Lori following close behind.
“You can come in,” Lena says halfway down the stairs, knowing that Kara would be able to hear her from outside the glass door. She touches down to the floor as the superhero steps in, with none of her usual bluster—just soft hesitance.
She steps a bit closer before folding her hands behind her back and offering a gentle smile.
“Hello, Lena.” She glances at her daughter. “Lori.”
Lori smiles. “Ehrosh :bem, eh Yeyu.”
There’s a moment where Kara’s eyes widen and Lena realizes that Lori must have spoken in their native language—her heart aches for the glimpses of the painful past that Kara has let her see.
Lori places a hand on Lena’s shoulder and presses a quick kiss to the side of her head. “I’ll give you two some time to talk.”
She squeezes once before walking out to the veranda and taking off, leaving the two staring at one another in the sunset light, quiet, hesitant, teetering on the verge of something soft and wonderful.