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Supergirl In Training

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Meeting with Snapper about the story proves to be incredibly unfruitful. He just—he doesn’t yell at her, he brushes her off, waves her draft like it’s a particularly insignificant napkin before throwing it back at her and just going back to his business.

“Not enough sources”—she feels like rolling her eyes and mocking his tone under her breath as she stomps back to her office, but yeah, okay, fair, maybe. Maybe she’s gotten a little complacent because she only needs to quote herself and the police for stories and that’s… probably a little unethical. But, hey, it’s not her fault sometimes if she’s so busy that she doesn’t have the time to draft up a huge bibliography, she has an entire city to defend.

And yeah, sure. Clark manages to pull off being a hard-working full time journalist and a superhero but, well, he’s got a decade on her in experience. She literally started being a journalist like… a few months ago.

“You look like you just swallowed something awful.”

Kara’s eyes snap up to see James leaning against the doorway of her office, smiling with a paper bag in his hand.

“James!”

He laughs as he pushes off the doorway and walks in, dropping the bag in front of her on the desk.

“Winn said you’d been running in and out all day, I thought you might like a little pick-me-up.”

Kara peers into the bag eagerly. “Donut holes,” she sighs happily. “You’re the best.”

James shrugs with a brilliant grin as Kara digs in. “I try,” he says as he takes a seat on the small chair in the corner of the office. “So what’s the big buzz?”

Kara goes from enjoying a mouthful of pastry to souring immediately.

James barks out a laugh. “That bad?”

Kara grimaces as she pokes at a glazed round.

“It’s kind of…” she sighs. “Awful? Ugh,” she grimaces. “I shouldn’t be eating donuts right now, I need to work…”

“Hey,” James says softly, leaning forward with a concerned frown. “Are you okay?”

Kara looks at him and her heart warms impossibly at the way he’s looking at her, so worried and ready to help.

Really, she’s… so lucky to have been able to keep him as a friend after everything that they’ve been through.

(Everything that she put him through, a part of her snarks darkly.)

“Yeah, it’s just—“ she tries to find a word for the anxiety that spikes in her stomach when she thinks about Lena, “—just a lot of stuff going on.” She shakes her head. “But it’s fine, I’ve got it handled—what about you?” She leans forward earnestly. “What’s been going on? We haven’t talked in a while.”

He gives her a dubious look like he’s not quite convinced, but thankfully he decides to go along with her.

“Not much- just a new gang cropping up on the east side of the city. I’m trying to figure out how to shut them down.”

“Need any help?” Kara secretly hopes he says yes, because Rao- punching out baddies sounds so much easier than dealing with the bureaucratic mess that she’s been heaped with.

But he just smiles easily and shakes his head.

“Nah, you look like you have enough on your plate.” His smile grows softer. “Take care of yourself, alright?”

She smiles back, running a hand through her hair and sighing.

“I can try, ” she laughs, and he grins lopsidedly.

Then his phone beeps- Kara recognizes the tone of his Guardian phone- and he checks it with a frown before standing up.

“Duty calls,” he sighs, pocketing his phone. “Enjoy your donut holes. I’ll see you late.”

She waves him off with a smile, gratefully popping another pastry into her mouth- mostly to just wash off the odd taste in her mouth that rises as she watches James walk away. Because there was just something so- clipped about that conversation, like they both wanted to talk but had nothing to talk about, and she’s… anxious. Because it feels too much like the tail end of a friendship, where they both keep up the pretenses while drifting away from each other more and more.

She snaps out of it when her own phone buzzes.

[little one <3: yeyu moms in her office but not answering any of my texts

im kind of freaked out can you check on her?]

Kara’s up and out of her seat just like that.


 

Lena’s never considered herself a particularly resentful person. Yes, she’s been unhappy for a great deal of her life, and certainly a bit crueler than necessary sometimes- but never resentful. She’s never thought of herself as someone who holds grudges, or goes out of their way to spite someone-

(That was always Lex. She thinks, maybe if he hadn’t been so obsessed, if Lillian hadn’t pushed him so hard, none of this would’ve happened.)

She hated Superman, once upon a time. She hated him for bringing her brother down and for being forgiven no matter what he does, but she didn’t sit on that hatred and let it fester- she packed up her things and moved on. Because, that might be the only thing she’s truly familiar with- packing up her life from the orphanage, from the Luthor Mansion, from her dormitory, from her apartment in metropolis- always packing, always moving on. By choice or otherwise.

So when everything goes to hell for the umpteenth time in her life, she sits in her office, a little shocked at the bolt of resentment that shoots through her as Kara walks in through the doors.

Kara Zor-El Danvers. Supergirl. National City’s darling, so easily forgiven after the Red Kryptonite incident- all it takes for her to win the public back is putting out a few fires and punching out a few aliens.

It’s different for Lena. For L-Corp. Lex has sapped the public of all their sympathy and all it’s gonna take is one hit for everything to fall to shambles. There’s no redemption, no coming back- she could save the entire city and people would still whisper behind her back and yet it’s only going to take one accident to ruin everything.

One accident. One neglectful employee, and another opportunistic CADMUS mole- which, counts as neglect on her part as well. Somehow one of the lab technicians at the facility they used to test air purification devices had inserted another copy of the medusa virus, properly bonded to isotope 454 this time, into one of the main airtanks before forcing the controls to malfunction and put too much pressure on the pipes-

And then it went boom, or so she’s told. The mole’s been detained, but the airborne Medusa virus is on a slow crawl to the main part of National City. She’s managed to manufacture a neutralizing agent in the few hours after the incident but she doesn’t- she doesn’t know hot to drive out a truck into the outskirts to implement the agents without drawing attention and inevitably admitting to L-Corp’s blunder.

How to save the lives of National City’s aliens without letting her entire life crumble into nothing.

It’s a selfish choice to be sure, and if she were a better person, it’d be a snap decision- but then again, would it be? One blunder and it’s not just L-Corp that’s over, it’s all the good they could have done in the future- and perhaps she’s being arrogant here but she knows that she hasn’t even scratched the surface of how much she can change the world for the better. All of that, just gone. Because people don’t forgive, because people have already decided what they think and are just waiting for confirmation, because only people like Kara Danvers get a chance at redemption.

“Lena?”

She snaps back to the woman in front of her and tries to make sense of the resentment and affection and anguish that runs through her at the sight. Here she is. Kara Danvers. The woman she’s in love with, her future wife, the mother of her daughter and she can’t do anything except clench her fists tighter and stare.

“Hello, Kara,” she forces out, and is a little embarrassed because she’s normally a far better actor than this- her clipped tone gives her away immediately, and Kara comes up to her desk, frowning with concern.

“Lena, is everything okay?” Kara bites her lip, uncertain, and shifts her feet. “You haven’t been replying to texts and Lori’s been getting worried.”

The worst part of her mind hates Lena for bringing up Lori, as if they both don’t know exactly why she’s here. It’s almost insulting.

She thinks of her daughter, waiting at home with her cousin- her daughter, who looks at her like she holds the entire sky up, and her chest squeezes in on itself.

How is it fair that she’s being driven to this? She thinks about Lori being disappointed with her and is almost certain her world would cave in on itself.

“We both know why you’re here, Kara,” she says evenly, swiveling in her chair to look out at the city.

She hears Kara shift behind her. There’s a pause until she speaks up.

“Alex told me you refused to talk to her.”

It’s a statement that doesn’t quite warrant a response. Not one that Lena’s willing to give, anyway. Kara tries again.

“What happened at the facility?”

Lena closes her eyes and opens them slowly, willing herself to speak.

“A CADMUS mole sabotaged one of our prototypes and injected the Medusa virus into it before blowing it up.”

She sees Kara tense up in her faint reflection on the window.

“Medusa,” she hisses. “Can you disable it like last time?”

Lena shakes her head. “It’s already been bonded to isotope 454. The only way to disable it is by releasing a neutralizing agent to create a chain reaction that’ll render it inert.”

“Okay, so, where can we get the agent?”

Lena wonders if that ‘we’ means her and Kara, or Kara and the DEO.

“It’s been made. I have a vehicle ready for deployment.”

Kara sighs.

“Thank Rao. Do you need help deploying it? I can escort it to wherever it needs to go-”

“The agent will render the virus inert, but create a chemical byproduct that’s poisonous to humans,” she cuts in. “it won’t be in a high enough concentration to cause any real damage, but people with respiratory problems should stay inside.”

“Okay, well, I’ll help get the word out,” Kara says, nodding decisively. “I just need some documents from you, and a quote on the record-”

“I can’t do that.”

She waits as Kara pauses, parsing over what she just said.

“I can’t-” Kara laughs nervously. “I can’t publish anything without official sources.”

“And I can’t say anything on record without admitting to L-Corp being the source of the incident.”

The next pause feels like it takes forever, because Lena can practically feel the air in the room change- it’s charged with something a bit more aggressive, something that scares her but drives her even further into her cold shell.

“Are you serious?” Kara says quietly. “People need to know about this, they deserve to know the truth-”

“Can you disperse the information without disclosing that it happened at L-Corp?” She says, still turned to the window. She can feel Kara glaring at the back of her head.

“It won’t be credible. People need to know where it came from and why-”

“So say it’s an unexplained phenomenon. You secret organization types are good at that, no?”

It’s far harsher a quip than warrants the situation and she regrets it as soon as it leaves her mouth but she can’t bring herself to take it back- she’s on edge, she’s resentful even though she doesn’t mean to be, and she doesn’t want to fight Kara right now but everything’s such a mess right now.

“People deserve to know the truth,” is all Kara says.

Lena shoots out of her seat, whirling around to face her.

“Kara, I am asking you to do this thing for me- it won’t make a difference, people will still know enough to stay safe, just this one detail,” she emphasizes, “is life or death for L-Corp, you know that.”

She’s practically begging- but when she looks up, there’s fire in Kara’s eyes and she knows it’s no use.

“And what if CADMUS makes another attack, elsewhere? They deserve the truth, Lena.”

Lena growls, rubbing her temples. “It literally decides whether this company stays afloat or not, Kara, I’m begging you,” she hisses. “Why is this so important to you?”

“Because my planet died when a handful of people decided to hide the truth!” Kara bursts out, and Lena flinches from the sheer force of anger and determination. “My aunt tried to save Krypton but she was arrested for trying to tell the public that the planet was dying- we all lost our entire home, and it drove her so crazy that she wouldn’t stop at anything to stop that from happening to this planet.” Kara’s shaking now, fists clenched at her sides, a force of nature wrapped in a blue sweater. “My legacy is a mother who let our planet die and a father who made a virus to kill,” she hisses. “And I may not be able to save all of humanity by myself, but I will die defending their right to know, their ability to decide their own future.”

And with that, Kara storms out the door.


 

Just when she thought her day couldn’t get worse, Kara gets the text that James has been hurt- she zooms to the DEO as fast as she can, stopping short at the med bay when she sees Lori standing outside, nearly in tears.

“Is’kah,” she says in a rushed breath, wrapping her arms around Lori when the girl launches herself into Kara’s arms. “What happened?”

“I heard him- in a fight and- I was so scared, I thought that, I’d done something wrong, I pushed the timeline too far and changed too much and he-”

The rest of her sentence is jumbled Kryptahniuo mumbled into Kara’s shoulder, and Alex comes up with a sympathetic look.

“She rushed in to pull him out of a firefight,” Alex explains, rubbing Lori’s back gently. “Just in time- he’s banged up pretty badly.”

Kara inhales sharply. “And Winn?”

“Beating himself up for not being able to help. He’s picking up a fresh set of clothes from James’ apartment.”

Kara nods. She runs a hand over Lori’s hair before pulling away and grasping her shoulders.

“You did well, okay?” She squeezes reassuringly. “Thank you for saving him. I’m proud of you.”

Lori looks up at Kara with watery eyes before nodding once, gnawing on her bottom lip.

“I’ve got it from here,” Kara says. “You should get back to Conner. I’ll keep you updated, okay?”

Lori nods again, drawing Kara into another tight hug before letting Alex lead her down the stairs. Kara watches them go for a moment before steeling herself and stepping into the medbay.

Alex wasn’t kidding. James is propped up on one of the beds, covered in bandages, his left arm in a brace and sling. He looks over at her when she walks in and grins sheepishly.

“I promise it’s not as bad as it looks.”

Kara lets out a breathless, exasperated laugh as she comes to stand by him.

“What happened, James?”

He grimaces. “Walked right into an ambush. We were set up with bad info.” He sighs. “Did Winn make it out okay?”

Kara nods. “He’s just picking some stuff up from your apartment for you.”

James furrows his brows with a sad kind of fondness. “Tell me he’s not beating himself up over the setup.”

Kara’s shoulders slump. “I mean, I only know what Alex told me, but,” she sighs. “We both know how Winn is.”

Too loving, too anxious, takes too much blame whenever things go wrong, really, and Kara knows that both she and James wish that he could be kinder to himself.

“Yeah…” James exhales heavily. “I gotta get him something to cheer him up. Any ideas?”

“Well,” Kara says in a mischievous tone as she pulls up a stool to sit at is bedside. “As his official best friend, I know for a fact that his favourite flowers are yellow. And chocolate chip pancakes will get him out of bed even on the worst depression days.”

James grins. “Flowers and breakfast. Duly noted.” He frowns after a moment. “And that girl?”

Kara gulps. Okay, she and everyone else decided to keep it under wraps but she honestly has… no idea what she’s going to tell James. And dropping the whole getting-married-to-Lena bomb isn’t something she wants to drop while he’s literally in his sickbed.

“What about her?” She tries for nonchalance.

He sees right through it.

“Getting rescued from a firefight isn’t how I’d liked to have found out that there’s another bulletproof flying girl in town,” he says, raising a brow. “And she looks- have you noticed that she looks like Lena Luthor?”

Kara sucks her lips in and nods as casually as she can, breathing in deeply.

“Yeah, she’s, uh,” she struggles. “Just- don’t worry about her for now, okay? She’s not hostile. Trust me.”

He studies her for a moment, perceptive brown eyes staring into hers, but then, because he’s being wonderful and understanding as always, he relents.

“Alright. Weird thing, though, I could’ve sworn she called me ‘uncle’.”

Kara laughs at that, squeezing her eyes shut for a moment before giving James a soft look.

“You know, I remember when you’d be here to grill us about ethics, not to get patched up.”

His grin slips a little at that.

“Well,” he starts wryly. “Things change.”

Kara crosses her arms and shakes her head. “You know I still- I still can’t get on board with this. Guardian.” She frowns at him worriedly. “I don’t understand why you’re doing this.”

His mouth sets into an unhappy line. “We’ve talked about this, Kara. I want to help people.”

“But you already were,” Kara insists. “James, you were a hero before any of this. It’s why I…” ( loved you ; the words hang on the tip of her tongue but she’s not going there right now.) “... why you made me better.” She lets her hands fall into her lap helplessly. “You inspired me, James, because you proved that it doesn’t take powers to be a hero- you taught me that it takes heart and values. You helped people by standing up for morals, and with the stories you told with your pictures.”

He shakes his head and looks away, setting his jaw.

“It wasn’t enough, Kara. Why can’t you understand that I want to do more?”

“How is punching bad guys more important than telling the stories that need to be told?” Kara wrings her hands. “I understand that your father served, and fighting out there makes you feel closer to him, but-” she breathes in deeply. “-you don’t need to prove anything to honor his memory, James. You need to forgive yourself for losing his camera.”

His reaction is instant for a human, but to her it seems like it takes eons- it starts in how his arms tense and shake with strain, then his heartbeat starts to run, and she can see the tendons of his neck standing as he turns his head towards her.

“You have. No right. ” He says, anger laced deep in his voice. “Get. Out.”

She thinks about staying, hashing it out with him, because she cares and she still loves him in a way and she so desperately wants him to stop putting himself in danger- but then she remembers that she knows how it feels to lose family, too, and that yes- she crossed a line there.

So she just looks at him sadly before getting up and getting out. It’s barely the late afternoon, and she’s managed to push away the only two people she might have really been in love with in this world.

What a mess.