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Supergirl In Training

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Kara watches proudly as Lori draws out coordinates on the briefing console.

“CADMUS also had an active compound just southwest of the thermal plant—if I’m remembering correctly this is their main armory.”

She moves to highlight the map section, completely at ease with herself as she briefs J’onn and Alex. She doesn’t waver or stutter once in the stern tension of the room; she’s confident, deft, and focused and Kara feels absurdly proud.

“And that’s all the CADMUS bases and vaults I can remember for now,” she finishes, straightening her shoulders and clasping her hands behind her back. Alex furrows her brow and leans forward, scanning the points scattered across the map.

“That’s a lot,” she remarks. “You have a good memory.”

Lori lights up at the praise before smoothing into a smaller smile. “Eidetic, actually. I would have a complete list but I’m not technically part of DEO operations yet; these are just from the few files I’ve seen on Mom’s desk.”

Alex raises a brow. “Lena works at the DEO?”

It’s said with such surprise and wariness that Kara feels ire rise in her throat, again, because why can’t people just trust Lena? Lori’s standing right there, proof from twenty-two years in the future to prove that Lena’s playing some long game.

Lori just nods. “Her official title is civilian tech consultant.”

Alex crosses her arms. “Huh.”

“In any case,” J’onn cuts in. “We still need to locate and apprehend Lillian Luthor.” He zooms the map in onto a cluster of points just outside National City. “Based on her activity it would be best to start here.”

“I’ll get a recon team together right now,” Alex says.

Lori shakes her head. “It’s too dangerous. We don’t know what kind of surveillance equipment they might have.”

Kara tilts her head. “There’s no chance you know their specs this far back, huh?”

“No, unfortunately.” Lori’s mouth twists wryly as she crosses her arms, and for a moment, she and Alex are mirror images of each other. Side by side, arms crossed the same, with the same thoughtful grimace; Lori inhabits that air of professionalism with passionate drive just underneath the surface that Kara thought so unique to Alex until now.

She gets that warm pang in her chest again. This isn’t just her biological daughter—this girl is her really her family.

Alex purses her lips before shaking her head lightly and uncrossing her arms to put her hands on her hips. “She’s right. We couldn’t identify half the things Hank Henshaw had on him, it’s too dangerous to scope their facilities without more information.”

“I could examine them,” Lori chimes in. “Maybe I can get a better estimate of what they’re up to.”

Alex shakes her head. “I’m sorry, but we have it all down in restricted access—“

“Agent Danvers can escort you downstairs.”

Kara and Alex share a look at that, once again dumbfounded: when Lori and J’onn met they shared a quiet moment after which J’onn squeezed Lori’s shoulder with a fond smile and just about every agents’ eyes bulged out of their sockets. After that, J’onn’s been giving Lori his unmitigated trust—Kara wonders if Lori’s developed some sort of telepathic abilities.

“Director,” Alex says evenly. “Are you sure?”

He nods. “Positive.”

The Danvers sisters share another surprised, mildly alarmed look. They’re so used to J’onn being the big gatekeeper of their more questionable plans, the most cautious one out of all of them.

“Armed bank robbery on fifth,” Winn chimes in, wheeling closer in his chair as he looks between all of them in an annoyed but curious way because he hates being kept out of the loop (they decided the whole daughter-from-the-future thing is best kept on a need to know basis, for now).

Kara tries to appease him with a smile. “I’m on it.”

“Can I come with you?” Lori half hops along to Kara when she starts making for the exit, but her mother turns with a swish of her cape and a stern frown.

“No, it’s too dangerous,” she says, feeling a spike of protectiveness. “Stay here until I’m done, okay?”

“But I’m just as bulletproof as you are!” Lori complains, pouting. Kara crosses her arms.

You heard me, Lorelai. Stay here and help your aunt.”

She instantly regrets her tone when Lori deflates, shuffling into a neutral but rigid pose and bowing her head.

Yes, Master.”

Kara flinches at the formal address, the honorific reserved for pupils to their mentors in guild pairs. She instinctively looks to Alex in her panic, not knowing what to do, only getting a defensive sort of frown from her sister in response.

She reaches out to squeeze Lori’s shoulder.

“I’ll be back soon, is’kah.”

Lori looks up with a hopeful pout and Kara nearly caves before Alex comes to her rescue, holding the girl lightly by the other shoulder.

“Come on, lets get to work,” she says, still firm but much softer than Kara was as she leads her niece away to the elevator. Kara smiles at them before sighing and running a hand through her hair when they round the corner out of sight.

“Yikes,” she mutters to herself. J’onn pats her shoulder firmly.

“Don’t worry,” he says, reading her mind.

“I can’t really help it?” She grimaces. “She just… gave in.” Guilt roils in her stomach. “Like, immediately.”

“She respects you as her teacher.”

“I’m not her teacher, I’m her mother,” Kara grumbles, gingerly holding her temples for a moment.

“Mother-to-be,” J’onn reminds her. “As of right now you are a younger version of a woman who’s had time to emotionally prepare herself for the responsibility of a child. Minor bumps are inevitable.”

Kara laughs listlessly. “I guess you’re right.” She squints at him with a curious smile. “You know, you warmed up to her really fast. Not that I’m not happy you trust her.”

He smiles and leans against the briefing table before crossing his arms.

“She showed me her memories from the future. It’s hard to think she has any ulterior motives after that.”

“She—“ Kara reels. “She showed you—how?”

He smiles one of his rare, wider smiles. “She taught herself how to respond to my telepathy as an infant. It’s the closest thing to a Martian Bond I’ve had with an outsider.”

“Wow,” Kara breathes, feeling pride and happiness again; pride for her daughter, happiness for J’onn to have another person to share his thoughts with. “Are you two close in the future?”

He nods. “M’gann and I are her godparents.”

Kara takes a second to process.

“M’gann?” she gapes. “She comes back? She’s okay?”

J’onn nods, smile growing. “Emotionally weary, but intact.”

She remembers how sad J’onn was after she left, the sense of loss and sorrow permeating the air of the DEO building for weeks afterward, and her heart soars.

“J’onn, that’s—that’s amazing, I—“

She grabs him into a hug, at a loss for words, squeezing without reserve. He grunts a little from the force, patting her back placatingly, but she can hear his chuckle rumbling in his chest.

“Uh, guys?” Winn says. “Bank robbery?”

“Right!” Kara jumps back. “Criminals. With guns. On it.”

She launches out of the building sheepishly, not before catching a glimpse of J’onn’s grin—the thought of the future she’s going to have fills her with nothing but joy and she soars over the skyline in a burst of vigor.


 

“This is a Marcinian telepathy disabler, I think?” Lori says, examining the device. “Not sure how they got their hands on that one. Mark it down as harmless, it draws power from the electromagnetic field that only Marcinians biologically generate.”

Alex does so dutifully—they’ve been cataloguing items for a while, Lori rattling off their uses while Alex marks them down in the archive. The atmosphere is a bit stiff, mostly just work-oriented, but Alex has her guard up and unfortunately, it shows.

Well. She can’t help it—it’s not that she doesn’t like this girl, it’s just that it’s hard to trust her. Not when Kara looks at her so lovingly, not when she knows how vulnerable Kara is to her so immediately. Alex was there for Astra’s reappearance and betrayal, she saw how much it broke Kara—

She’s not too fond of another mysterious Kryptonian family member popping out of nowhere.

(it’s hard not to like her, though, Alex admits. Lori’s got Lena’s face but Kara’s smile.)

“Oh, nice,” Lori remarks, holding up something that looks like a handgun clip but with a blue crystal in the middle instead. “You should take this, actually.”

Alex looks between the device and the girl warily. “What is it?”

Lori pushes it over the desk to Alex. “An Alutei-grade heat sink. For your gun. It should be compatible.”

Alex glances at her again before picking it up and examining it, unholstering her alien gun and pulling out the original heat sink.

“You should be able to fire ten times more before overheating with that.”

“Huh.” She slides it into the clip, feeling out the change in weight balance. It would be really nice to not have to pace her shots or risk burning her hand. “Nice.”

Lori gives her a small smile before moving on to the next item on the list. Alex watches the way she methodically examines the device, muttering out loud that it’s human in origin, blue eyes narrowed.

“So,” she says, holstering her gun. “How do you know so much about weapons, anyway?”

Lori glances up at her, hesitant for some reason. “You, actually.”

Alex raises her brows, leaning on the desk. “Me?”

Lori smiles a bit before nodding. “Yeyu and Uncle Clark are really big into the hand to hand, non-lethal approach, you know.” Lori’s grin grows a little when Alex snorts and nods. “But you said I won’t always have my powers and should learn a bit more about weaponry, just to be safe.”

Alex tries to shake off the eerie feeling she gets when this stranger describes something she absolutely would do.

“Alien weaponry, though?”

Lori shrugs. “Interplanet travel starts to boom a little more in the future.”

Alex smirks. “I’m guessing the DEO gets real busy, then.”

Lori laughs too, louder and looser than she’s let herself since stepping into the evidence room.

“Yeah, I guess.” She smiles at Alex freely, before seeming to remember herself and looking back down at the device in her hands.

Alex purses her lips.

“So, what am I like in the future?”

Lori blinks at her.

“Oh. Well. You’re… You?” Lori laughs a little. “Lieutenant Director of the DEO, weapons and genetics specialist, happily married, cool aunt…”

Alex perks up a little at the whole married thing but decides to let it go for now.

“Cool aunt, huh?” She smirks. Lori laughs bashfully.

“Yeah, you’re—you’ve taught me everything I know about combat tactics and weaponry and how to kick ass at pool.”

“So all of the important stuff.” Alex grins when Lori laughs again.

“Yeah,” she says, her laugh trailing off.

“Good, then,” Alex says. “You had me worried that I wasn’t around much.”

Lori grimaces. “Sorry, I just—I really freaked Mom out when I acted like I always do around her right away and I’m. Trying not to freak anyone else out.”

She gives Alex a tight smile, the quiet, sad one that Kara makes when she’s hiding something. With the same crinkle, even. She reminds Alex so much of little Kara, trying to stay away and pretending to be fine after accidentally breaking something or hurting someone, so unsure of herself—

Alex sighs. Goddammit.

“You know, I’ve never met a teenager who’s as excited to hang out with her mom as you are,” she teases. Lori shuffles her feet bashfully.

“Well, not every teenager has a mom as cool as mine,” she says defensively. “Besides, we haven’t been able to see each other very much lately, I was just excited.”

Lori’s smile falls into another crinkly pout again. Alex watches her sympathetically.

“You don’t get to spend time with her?”

Lori shakes her head. “I’m going to college across the country. And even when I do fly back on weekends, she’s always so busy, you know? She’s always swamped with running the company, or prototyping one thing or another for the DEO, and so on…”

The girl gnaws on her lower lip as she turns the device over in her hands. Alex sighs.

“Yeah, I get how you feel.”

Lori looks up at that, frowning.

“You do?”

Alex nods. “After Dad… disappeared, Mom threw herself into her work. She was always out at lectures and conferences and stuff. It was usually just me and Kara at home.”

She remembers the few years of late nights, tucking Kara into bed and then quietly waiting for her mother to get home, always leaving some food in the fridge for her to come home to.

“You don’t blame her,” Alex continues, “But you look up to her and you wish you could see her more.”

Lori gives her a piercingly pensive look, brows crinkling again before she nods.

“Yeah, exactly,” she murmurs.

Alex tries for a lighter smile. “Then let’s get back to work so we can let you go see her sooner, yeah?”

Lori grins. “Yeah,” she says, apparently a little too enthusiastic because she accidentally presses something on the device—it lights up and she yelps as she drops it.

“Shit—sorry, it didn’t do anything, I just—“ she rattles off a mile a minute, bending down to get it. “It’s just a Geiger counter calibrated for alien radioactive elements, it shouldn’t—hey are these Tamaranean sabers?”

Alex doesn’t know to laugh, be alarmed, or roll her eyes when Lori resurfaces with a saber in hand, a manic look of glee in her face.

“Careful,” she warns as Lori gives it an experimental flourish. “It can cut through your invulnerability—“

“Because it’s made of Piscean alloy, I know,” Lori says, touching the flat side of the silver blade almost reverently. “Man, this looks vintage—maybe 36th, 37th century?”

Alex laughs. “I’m starting to think you know so much about weapons because you like weapons, not because of me.”

Lori pouts, still holding the sword. “Swords are cool, okay…”

The door bursts open to a breathless Mon-El, who stares between the two of them before marching up to Alex.

“What the hell are you doing down here?” Alex starts, squaring her shoulders. “It’s restricted access, you’re not allowed—“

“That’s not important right now,” he pleads, face twisting into a pained grimace. “Where’s Kara?”

“Why do you need to know?” Lori cuts in with a razor sharp glare, already by Alex’s side, saber still in hand. Mon-El frowns at her.

“What’s she doing here?” He asks Alex.

“She was authorized to help with something down here, unlike you,” Alex hisses, crossing her arms. “Now get out before I make you, alright? Whatever it is you need to talk about can wait—“

“It can’t wait,” he begs again. “I need to see her—“

“You have no right,” Lori snarls, and Alex puts a hand out in front of her to keep her from instigating anything.

“I’m sorry, if you didn’t know,” he starts, almost placatingly, “Kara and I are together so I have every right—“

“Liar!” Lori steps forward and Alex has to push back with her arm, concerned. “She broke up with you last night!”

“What?” Alex looks back at Mon-El. “Did she?”

He looks lost for a moment before gesturing indignantly.

“We had a fight. It got a little out of hand.”

“That’s an understatement,” Lori scoffs. “She ended things.”

Mon-El grimaces before waving at her. “Are you really—are you really going to take the word of Lena Luthor’s niece over mine?”

And god Alex hates his face.

“It’s not about anyone’s word, Mon-El,” she says, shifting her weight and putting her hands on her hips. “Did she or did she not break up with you?”

And truth be told, Alex is a little suspicious, a little hurt, because would Kara really not tell her something as important as that? But then again, she’s not surprised—between the way he’s been treating her and everything with Lori, Alex is kind of relieved to hear the news.

He stares at the two of them, face crumpling in outrage, fists clenching, before he sighs.

“Whatever,” he mutters dejectedly. “I just wanted to talk to her. I’ll find her myself,” he says, before turning and walking out.

Alex sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose, turning to Lori.

“Did they really break up?”

She nods insistently.

“He broke into her house last night so she ended things—“

“He what.” Alex pulls her hand away from her face and feels her chest start to boil, mouth twisting into a snarl. “That good for nothing fratboy, I’m going to—“

“Wait,” Lori grabs her by the elbow before she can storm out and skin the damn Daxamite. “He’s probably trying to cause a scene and make her look bad, going after him is just gonna make it worse—“

Alex grimaces. “I’m not going to let him anywhere near her after the shit he pulled—“

“Look, I have an idea, okay?” Lori sighs. “You’re either going to love it or hate it.”


 

The first thing Kara sees when she touches back down at the DEO is Mon-El stalking towards her with a pained frown, and her stomach twists into knots—she’s not ready to talk to him again, not yet, not yet, Rao he looks so sad and the darker voices in her head start to tell her that it’s her fault all over again—

“Mon-El of Daxam!” A voice bellows through the main room before he reaches her. Kara looks up, alarmed, to see Lori regally striding over with an imperious glare, and Alex walking behind her with—the two Tamaranean swords they lifted from a crashed pirate ship a few years ago?

She feels her heart stop when Lori throws a DEO issue glove straight at Mon-El’s face, barely giving him any time to catch it.

“I formally challenge you to a duel for the honor of being Kara Zor-El’s pupil.”

She declares it in the Daxamite dialect of Kryptahniuo, standing with a ramrod-straight posture just a few feet away from him. The room falls silent as the stare each other down—Kara can’t see Mon-El’s expression, and she’s just about halfway to getting her wits about her and intervening when he throws the glove back at Lori.

“I accept.”

Kara’s heart sinks.


 

Alex can feel Kara’s glare prickling the back of her neck as she tightens Lori’s dueling glove. She can hear the lecture that she’s in for already— how could you let her do this, I trusted you to keep her safe, I can’t believe this—

She looks up for a moment over Lori’s shoulder and yep. Her sister is glaring daggers at her from across the room, held back from the conflict only by J’onn’s presence. They’re in the downstairs training room, making the duel private—Alex can hear Kara arguing with J’onn under her breath, probably about how he’s lost his mind by letting this happen.

(Alex was really surprised too. But apparently, J’onn is vulnerable to the Lori Danvers Pout more than he is to Kara’s or Alex’s.

That or he’s hoping this’ll get Mon-El to leave Kara the hell alone too.)

“I hope you appreciate me setting this up, you know,” she murmurs to Lori with a half-smile. “I’m in really big trouble with Kara.”

Lori chuckles. “Would you rather he made her life worse with his awfulness?” She asks, rolling out her shoulders.

Alex snorts and shakes her head, stepping away. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Lori gives her saber a twirl. “Don’t worry. This isn’t my first duel.”

Alex raises her brows. “Really?”

Lori grins. “My best friend is Tamaranean—she got stuck in some arranged marriage crap and I got her cousin to give me a crash course on saber dueling so I could get her out of it.”

“And did you come out of that intact?” Alex asks, raising a brow. She’s starting to think this girl has a habit of jumping into situations with one eighth of a plan and seven eighths of a prayer.

“More or less,” Lori says, not reassuring at all, before shaking her head. “Just—don’t worry about it, okay? You told Uncle Winn to set up the cameras?”

“Yeah. And I’ll be here to put you back together when you get sliced to ribbons.”

Lori pouts at the quip. “You’re mean.”

Alex just laughs and ruffles her hair. “Alright. Fratboy’s looking impatient over there. Kick his ass.”

Lori rolls her eyes. “Remember, don’t let her intervene until one of us yields, okay?”

Ales nods and Lori flashes her a grin before pulling her expression back to a regal sneer, twirling around.

“Ready?” He taunts from across the room. Alex hears Lori snort.

“Born ready,” She quips right back, as they walk to meet in the centre to exchange bows. Alex walks over to Kara and J’onn as they fall into their stances and touch their blades together. Kara gives her a worried and angry glance before going back to wringing her cape and staring intently at the duelists.

“What are your terms?” He demands.

“That you stay away from Kara Zor-El here on out. What are yours?”

“The same for you,” he growls.

On my mark,” J’onn says, deep voice rumbling. “Begin!

They most almost too fast for Alex’s human eyes to see. Silver clashes against silver with such force that sparks fly on impact, and despite her earlier quip Alex feels her gut fill with nervousness.

It eases up a little when Lori has him on the defensive—easily, with one hand behind her back, a smirk on her face that she’s seen on Lena’s multiple times.

“Keep up, Daxamite,” she hisses smugly. “You don’t have your precious slaves here to do everything for you anymore.”

And just like that the nervousness is back. Alex knows to not taunt the enemy during single combat—it’s a gamble, it’ll either make the opponent angry and clumsy or just stronger with the force of rage. Lori’s too smug, too arrogant, Alex is starting to see a million ways this could be going wrong—

Lori lunges in a slash, cutting off a bit of Mon-El’s sleeve as he barely dodges. She immediately sweeps her blade up, and he only parries just on time—Alex tries to reassure herself. She’s pushing him off his footing. Things are going to be fine.

“You’re pathetic,” Lori laughs, catching him in a parry before pushing him off balance. “You have a member of the House of El, the greatest warrior on earth to teach you and this is the best you can do?” She laughs again as she parries one of his stabs with barely a flick of her wrist. “Her time is wasted on you.”

He snarls, lunging at her, only to fall to the ground as she lightly sidesteps him. That’s the turning point—she steps on his saber, pinning it to the ground by its flat side, as she holds her own blade to his neck with a flourish.

“Yield,” she commands, peering down at him with her nose turned up. Alex lets herself relax, letting out the anxious breath she’s been gripping in her lungs. She notices Kara do the same out of the corner of her eyes and smiles.

Mon-El glares up at her, teeth grinding, and Alex is waiting to savour his moment of defeat when his eyes flicker down and he kicks her swiftly in the knee—

“No!” Kara cries as she lurches forward, held back by J’onn. “That’s cheating—“

“Stay back, Kara,” Alex warns even as she starts to panic. Mon-El uses Lori’s brief stumble to get back on his feet and press the advantage—she’s being pushed back, on the defensive, struggling to get her balance back.

“Let me go,” Kara pleads. J’onn holds her back still, grimacing.

Alex winces as Mon-El slashes viciously and lands a cut on Lori’s face. A stab there, a lunge here, another slash—Lori’s parries get more and more ineffective as Mon-El moves faster, swings much harder, angrier.

Alex resists the urge to step in—Lori lost the gamble with the taunting, he’s enraged and focused, she’s going to lose—

Lori glances at her and shakes her head, insistent. Alex gulps.

Mon-El lands another cut, a long gash on her arm, and when she stumbles in pain he swings at her sword hard enough to rip it from her grasp and send her falling to the ground.

Lori groans in pain as he levels his blade to her throat. She looks up at him once, snarling.

“I yield,” she mutters through her teeth.

Alex’s heart falls—the plan backfired, and Kara is going to be so angry at her, but at least, at least it ended before Lori was skewered. Alex counts that as a big victory.

But then, Mon-El doesn’t pull back and preen about his victory the way she expects him to—he bends down to grab Lori by the throat, lifting her up—

“I yield!” she chokes out again, scrabbling at his hands as he lifts her off the floor—Alex lunges forward as he pulls back his sword, about to impale her, she has to move, she can’t move fast enough—

Lori crumples to the floor. Mon-El’s sword clatters down beside her as he himself now dangles from a vice grip at his throat. Kara snarls up at him before throwing him to the far side of the room and speeding to tower over him even as he smashes against the wall.

Alex runs to Lori, grasping her around the shoulders, watching in concern as Kara grabs him by the collar and lifts him up again.

“Don’t you ever come near my family again, do you understand?”

“Kara, wait—“

“If I ever see you so much as lift a hand towards her again,” she roars, shaking him. “I will make you regret it.”

“Kara, you don’t mean that, babe—“

Don’t call me that.” She slams him against the wall. “We are over. Never speak to me or my family ever again, do you understand?”

There’s the telltale hum of Kara readying her heat vision.

“Kara, please, I didn’t mean to—I was so angry, you heard the things she was saying—“

Kara snarls, pulling her fist back.

“Kara!” Alex yells. It stops her only for a moment—but that’s enough. “Let him go. He’s not worth it.”

There’s a pause where no one moves, then Kara slowly lowers him, still snarling. Alex let J’onn take Lori in his arms before jogging over and putting a hand on Kara’s shoulder.

“Easy.”

Mon-El takes a breath and opens his mouth.

“No,” Alex cuts in before he can speak. “Shut up. Don’t push your luck. Get out of here before one of us hurts you.”

He looks between all of them—Alex can feel J’onn pressuring him psychically to leave, and he hesitates for a full ten seconds before stalking off towards the door. Kara finally relaxes and holds her fist to her chest.

“Thank you,” she mumbles to Alex.

Thank you for stopping me from killing him. Alex pats her back.

“Anytime.”

Kara wordlessly nods before rushing over to Lori, gathering her daughter into her arms protectively.

“Doshai…” Lori mutters with a weak smile and Kara only glares at her pointedly as she starts walking them to the med bay.

“Zhao’rriv-u gehd. Ta’nahvruht-odh, eh is’kah?”

Lori nods. “Zhi, eh Yeyu.”

Alex follows them up the stairs, only to find the agents milling about with faux innocence and glaring daggers at Mon-El as he passes by. She gives Winn a discreet, affectionate shoulder punch as she passes by his desk, feeling a smug sort of pride settle in her chest.


 

Kara’s twenty minutes into her lecture when Alex is putting the last bandage on Lori.

“What were you even thinking? And roping Winn into broadcasting the duel to the entire building—what were you trying to accomplish?”

Kara waves at the bloody gauze pieces lying on Alex’s table. Lori glances at Alex for help, but she just shrugs as she starts wrapping up the gash on her arm. She warned the girl plenty—this part of the ordeal is hers to deal with.

“I wanted to humiliate him. To prove to everyone what kind of person he is.”

Kara stops and pinches the bridge of her nose, sighing deeply. “You didn’t even know if you were going to win, Lori, you should have thought it through—“

“I didn’t have to know if I was going to win or not,” Lori explains, wincing.

Kara glares at her.

Lori sighs. “Okay, Yeyu, look, when I visited the Tamaranean fleet and learned how to duel, I also learned why they still use dueling as a legal form of settling a dispute. They’re not a primitive people, they should have moved past that by now.”

Kara crosses her arms and shifts her weight, listening carefully, but no less intently.

“And why do they?”

“Because the true purpose of a duel isn’t to see who is the better fighter, it’s to reveal the true character of the participants.” Lori pulls her hands into her lap when Alex finishes wrapping the bandage. “They believe that, in a fight, no one can lie—your body’s movements betray you. The one who acts dishonorably is the true loser of the duel.”

Alex tries to stop the grin spreading across her face when it clicks.

“Everyone saw him trying to kill you after you surrendered.”

Kara huffs again. “I still don’t see the point of you risking getting yourself skewered just to humiliate him.”

 Lori frowns, the crinkle mirroring her mother’s. “It wasn’t just to humiliate him. It was to show you what kind of a person he really is.”

Kara hesitates at that, posture loosening.

“Why me?”

“Because, I—“ Lori sighs, trying to find her words. “I saw how he acted. Like he was in pain, like he was always the victim. And I know you can’t stand to hurt people. I wanted to…” Lori huffs, wincing when she tries to move her arm and hurts herself. “I wanted to show you who he really was. So that you could let yourself be angry at him without blaming yourself.” She shrugs. “The whole showing everyone thing was just a bonus so no one else could tell you to give him another chance again.”

There’s a long silence where Kara just stares, her mouth starting to tremble—she turns around and runs a hand over her face just before she crumples, and Alex sees the telltale heaving of her chest as she tries not to cry.

Lori, however, isn’t so lucky. Tears dew in her eyes almost immediately and she starts to shake.

“Yeyu, I’m sorry, please don’t be upset—“

Kara cuts her off by turning around and crushing the girl into her arms, burying her face in her dark hair.

“Don’t ever scare me like that again,” she whispers. Lori nods into the crook of her neck, already sniffling. Kara pulls back, evening out her breaths, laughing a little as she wipes away one of Lori’s tears.

“Is’kah kir,” she murmurs. “Is there any chance that I can convince you to take a few hours on the sunbed?”

Lori laughs before shaking her head. “Tamaraneans consider dueling wounds to be a great honor. I’d really like to show these off to my friend when I get back.”

Kara sighs before smoothing a hand through dark hair.

“Well, rest up. I have to go to CatCo for the day.” She glares at Alex. “And you, no more enabling my daughter, alright?”

Alex throws up her hands innocently. “Of course. Never.” She frowns and points at Lori facetiously. “That was a very bad thing to do, young lady.”

Kara squints at them even as Lori stifles a laugh.

“We’re going to have a talk,” she says to Alex before kissing the top of Lori’s head and heading for the door. “I’ll see you both later.”

“Bye.”

They wave at her and wait until she’s out of view before grinning at each other.

“Lori Danvers,” Alex starts, rolling her surgical gloves off her hands. “That was incredibly badass.”

“I heard that!” Kara yells from across the building.

Lori claps a hand over her mouth to stop her snickering.

“Yeah, Aunt Alex, no enabling the troubled youth.”

“Oh, shut up,” Alex laughs, shoving her niece’s shoulder lightly. “Smartass.”


 

“I can’t believe you think this is funny,” Kara says in dismay, pushing up her glasses. Lena stifles another round of giggles, leaning against the back of her office couch.

“Oh, come on, Kara, you have to admit that was brilliant,” she says good-naturedly. “He’d only humiliate himself if he acted badly—it’s like a greek tragedy.”

Kara pouts as she shoves another doughnut into her mouth. “Well someone’s blasé about our child throwing herself at swordpoint,” she grumbles around her mouthful.

Lena rolls her eyes. “Of course I’m unhappy she was in a fight, Kara, I just think that it was a clever thing to do. Incredibly reckless,” she admits, “but clever.” Her smile softens. “She took away his ability to guilt you. Very publicly.”

Kara sighs. Lena looks beautiful as always in the red glow of the sunset—she muses that they tend to have important conversations at this time of the day a lot, when Kara’s near overwhelmed with how the red tints in Lena’s hair shine through or the way her eyes go green-amber.

“I guess so. I am proud of her, you know?” She fidgets with her hands. “You should’ve seen her today. She’s only seventeen and she knows how to hold herself in a military briefing.”

She gets so caught up in looking out the L-Corp windows at the sunset that it takes her a moment to realize that Lena’s gone quiet.

“Lena?” She asks. “What’s wrong?”

Lena smiles but doesn’t quite meet Kara’s eyes, simply fiddling with her watch.

“I…” she shakes her head. “It’s nothing.”

Kara frowns. “It’s obviously something.”

Lena laughs, finally meeting her eyes to give her a sad smile.

“I’m sorry, I just—I guess I’m worried?”

Kara scoots a little closer on the couch, frowning in concern.

“Worried about what?”

“Well.” Lena goes to run a hand through her hair before remembering she has it in a bun and stopping short to rub the back of her neck instead. “I guess it’s just… Like you said. She’s only seventeen and she’s already keeping up with special operatives.” Lena sighs. “I’m… worried about how much of a childhood she’s had.”

Kara tilts her head, not understanding. “What do you mean?”

“I wonder if she ever has time for fun, you know? I was worried when she told me she was in college, to be honest. It sounds glamorous to be a child prodigy, but let me tell you,” Lena chuckles, “it’s lonely. I spent more time studying than I even did hanging out with friends, if I even had friends at the time.”

Kara pauses, mulling it over—she hadn’t thought much about that, really. She’s just so… proud of Lori. Happy that this girl gets to explore the full range of her capabilities, gets all the opportunities and training she could ever ask for. It’s a luxury that Kara never had—she was always so busy trying to hide, trying to quash her feelings whenever she heard someone needing help and couldn’t go to their aid, she never wanted a normal earth childhood, what was the point when she was already sent off to a different planet to take on responsibilities far too heavy for a child?

“Kara?” Lena asks, putting a hand hesitantly on Kara’s knee. “Are you alright?”

Kara blinks, once, twice, feeling oddly winded. “I… I’m fine. Sorry.”

Lena frowns. “What happened?”

“I’m…” Kara blinks to find her eyes tearing up. “I’m not sure, I just—I guess I was just thinking about things. About when I was younger. I—I was always so frustrated about following in Clark’s footsteps that I never really… let myself be a kid, I guess?” She pushes up her glasses. “I mean, I was happy when I was hanging out with Alex, but eventually she went out to hang out with her own friends more, and….”

She takes a deep breath, still feeling out of breath even though she’s been sitting down this whole time.

“Hey, take your time,” Lena says softly, laying her hand over Kara’s. “It happens sometimes when you realize something you haven’t let yourself feel. Breathe.”

Kara laughs nervously. “I’m sorry, this is embarrassing—“

“There’s nothing embarrassing about it, okay?” Lena waits until Kara looks up to meet her eyes. “It’s important to take time to process things. You’re going to be okay.”

Kara smiles at her and squeezes her hand. “How are you… How are you so good at this?”

Lena smiles, furrowing her brows. “Good at what?”

“This,” Kara says vaguely, laughing sheepishly when Lena raises a brow. “Sorting through feelings and stuff.”

Lena gives her a chagrined smile. “Years of behavioural therapy,” she says, chuckling. “I admit I’ve been neglecting it for a while, but after Lori showed up I’ve been… trying to stick to it a bit more.”

Kara laughs and laces their fingers together.

“Maybe I should set up an appointment,” she jokes. “I feel like… Like there’s a lot more I haven’t admitted to myself and that’s kind of… Scary,” she breathes. Lena squeezes her hand.

“Getting to know yourself after a long time is a daunting task,” Lena says. “You’re allowed to take it slow. Just focus on being Kara Danvers for a while.”

Kara studies the specks of gold in Lena’s eyes before taking a breath.

“Zor-El.”

Lena blinks. “What?”

“My name.” Kara smooths her thumb over the lines of Lena’s palm. “Is Kara Zor-El. Kryptonian daughters take their father’s name.”

Lena holds her gaze for a moment, taking in measured breaths, as if to fully feel the weight of this confession, awed, reverent.

“Kara Zor-El,” she says, and Kara closes her eyes at the swirl of warmth that pools in her chest when she hears her name wrapped around Lena’s intonations. “You deserve to be happy.”

Kara opens her eyes again. “I’m happy when I’m with you.”

Lena smiles at her sadly. “I’m happy when I’m with you too. But you should focus on yourself.”

“I don’t even know where to start,” Kara sighs, trying not to feel dejected.

“Start with whatever you can handle,” Lena says, still soft, still encouraging. “When I met you, you weren’t so sure about being a reporter. Maybe you could work on feeling out what you really want from your career.”

“Maybe…”

“And you’ve been telling me how you’ve been struggling with sharing Alex for the first time. You could also work out your feelings on that too.”

Kara gnaws on her lower lip, glancing up at Lena. “I guess there’s a lot to start with in the end, isn’t there?”

Lena laughs before untangling their hands and making to stand.

“Take your time, Kara. You can’t rush these things,” she says with a smile as she smooths out her skirt. “I hate to chase you out, but I have a meeting in ten minutes, and if I’m not mistaken you have an article due in three hours.”

Kara groans theatrically as she stands, basking in the way it gets a giggle out of Lena. She smiles as she draws Lena in for a hug.

“Thank you, Lena.”

Lena holds on tight for a moment, letting go with a sigh.

“I’m here for you.”

And Kara doesn’t have the words to describe how grateful she is.

“I’ll drop Lori off at your apartment when I get off work?”

Lena nods. “You can stay over for dinner again, if you’d like.”

Kara pockets her hands and shakes her head. “Nah, I’ve got sister night with Alex. We have a bunch of stuff to chew each other out about,” she laughs. “Well, sister night plus Maggie. So technically I could invite you if you want?”

Lena smiles. “Go spend time with your sister. We can have dinner whenever.”

They hug again, shorter this time, and when Kara steps out into the street she basks in the red sunlight and the happiness in her chest.