Lena nearly drops a plate while cleaning up after dinner as Lori whoops loudly from the living space. Conner starts whimpering unhappily in Kara’s arms and Lori shrinks in on herself.
“Sorry, buddy, don’t cry, I just got excited,” she murmurs to him across the coffee table, hands held out placatingly. Kara hugs him closer and rubs his back, frowning quizzically at the girl.
“What happened?” Lena says, walking over as she dries her hands on a hand towel. Lori smiles a bit sheepishly and holds out her phone.
“I fixed it,” she says with a grin, wiggling the phone a little. “There’s something I’ve been dying to show you guys.” She hops to her feet, setting the phone on the floor by the small partition wall between the living space and dining space. “I was afraid I wouldn’t fix it on time.”
After a few beeps, the phone lights up and projects an image onto the wall just above the glass-case fireplace. Lena stares in awe as the image shows what looks like a phone main screen, with streamlined app buttons and a picture of Lori and another dark-haired girl as the background picture.
“Can all phones turn into projectors in your time?” Lena asks, crouching down next to Lori and peering at the device.
“Yeah,” answers absentmindedly as she opens up her video gallery and starts scrolling through an alarming number of thumbnails.
“Who was the girl on your background picture?” Kara asks, a little bit mischievously. Lena sends her an affectionate ‘leave her alone’ kind of look and Kara shrugs, but Lori seems oblivious to it.
“Huh? Oh, that’s Mar’i. You know, the Tamaranean friend I told you about.”
“She’s cute,” Kara tries again, and Lena mouths a ‘stop it’ to her around a grin.
“I guess,” is Lori’s noncommittal answer. “Aha!” she taps on a thumbnail and looks up at the projected version of her screen. “Found it!”
A split second of it plays before Lori pauses it, leaving it frozen on a blurry image of a hardwood floor. Lori jumps up, zooming upstairs and then returning with an armful of blankets just a second later.
“Cushions on the floor, everybody!” she orders as she heaps the pile of comforters on the floor just behind the phone. “We’re gonna cuddle while we watch this. Come on, folks!”
“Okay, okay,” Kara laughs as she holds Conner to her chest with one arm and starts piling some cushions on the floor with the other. “She gets her bossiness from you, you know.”
“As if you’d have me any other way,” Lena quips quickly without thinking, immediately feeling her stomach flip in embarrassment. She tries to ignore the fact that she really just said that by occupying herself with helping Lori build the nest and pretending not to hear Kara’s quiet laugh and ‘no, I wouldn’t’.
“Okay, settle in,” Lori says, zooming around to click off all the lights so that the room is only lit dimly by the projection. She situates herself in the middle of the nest in front of the phone. She holds her arms out. “I’ll hold him, you guys get comfy.”
Kara does so as she sits on the left side, sharing a bemused smile with Lena when they bump shoulders. Lori shifts to sit Conner in her lap and leans over to press the button.
“Everyone comfy?” She asks, her finger hovering over the screen. Kara and Lena look at each other expectantly, waiting to see if the other has any complaints before smiling and nodding at Lori.
“Alright.” She taps the screen and leans back with Conner.
[[ The video starts again, showing the feet of the person filming tapping across hardwood floors into be bright daylight. The person opens a door and points the camera upwards into a large, well-decorated bedroom with two people sleeping on the bed.
A voice calls out from behind the camera, and it’s definitely Lori— she sounds just a little younger, somehow.
LORI : ( sing-song ) Good morning, parental units! It’s time to get up! We have a big day ahead of us! ]]
“This is from two years ago,” Lori whispers.
[[ The two people on the bed groan, shifting a little, and one of them sits up a little to squint at the camera. It’s a forty-something Lena Luthor, with definite signs of aging in the lines around her eyes but when she runs a hand through her hair and grumbles at her daughter she doesn’t look a day past thirty. ]]
Lena feels her heartbeat pick up at the sight of herself. Her older self. A forty-something Lena Luthor is… the same, and yet completely different to what she sees in the mirror now, it’s surreal.
“My hair is so short,” she whispers to herself, fascinated as she absently runs her own hand through her own long strands.
[[LENA : ( groggily ) It’s eight am on a sunday, Monkey. Go back to bed.
Lori only laughs behind the camera as she steps up even closer to the bed.
LORI : It’s not just a sunday, mother dearest! It’s you and Yeyu’s twentieth anniversary!
The other occupant of the bed groans, only her blond hair visible with her face planted into the pillows.
KARA : ( muffled ) It’s only been sixteen years since we got married, is’kah. Try again in four.
LORI : Obviously not your twentieth wedding anniversary. Your twentieth of being together . Twenty years ago today, you guys made it official!
Lena, a little more awake now, rubs her eyes and smiles bemusedly.
LENA : You’re aware most people don’t celebrate dating anniversaries after getting married, right?
LORI : ( petulantly ) and you’re aware that we’re not most people, right? ( whining ) Come on, come on, come on!
The camera shakes she she appears to jump onto the bed, bouncing a bit. Kara squeals and sits up, dodging away and rolling out of bed. Lena fares much the same, shifting out of frame on the other side.
KARA : ( laughin g) Alright, alright, by Rao, please, we’re up!
Kara stands in her plaid pajama set, blonde hair grown to her hips, not looking a day older save for the more confident set to her shoulders. She puts her hands on her hips and looks up at the camera with a raised brow and an exasperated smile.
KARA : Happy now, i’skah?
The camera bounces once.
LORI : Yup! Now proceed to the kitchen— (camera swivels to Lena sitting on the other side of the bed with a smile )— both of you! ]]
Lena watches as the Lori on screen herds the older versions of themselves down an unfamiliar hallway through a brightly lit house with art pieces on the walls and little potted plants and signs of home and living — that’s where she’s going to live, she thinks to herself. That’s her future home, with her family .
[[ Kara and Lena slow down as they step into the kitchen, appearing to be marvelling at the breakfast banquet laid out on the island counter.
KARA : Did you make all this, is’kah?
Lori laughs as her parents tentatively approach the counter.
LORI : You know I can’t cook for crap. Conner made it.
The camera pans as Lori walks to the other side of the counter, near the stove, and her parents’ expressions come into view. Lena looks up at Lori with an awed expression.
LENA : Conner flew down here to make all this?
The camera shakes just a little.
LORI : Yup. He’s busy so he had to take off like right after, but he left you guys a note.
Kara picks up a neatly folded piece of paper tucked between the waffles plate and eggs plate. Her head tilts as she opens and reads it, mouth slowly stretching into a grin.
LORI : Hey, read it out loud! Filming for posterity here!
Kara rolls her eyes before obliging.
KARA : Dear Aunts Lena and Kara, I hope you’re having a good morning.
LENA : Debatable, given the way we were woken.
LORI : Shhhh.
KARA : (laughs before continuing) I’m sorry I couldn’t stay, but I hope you enjoy the breakfast I’ve made you. You’ve probably noticed that Lori’s in an even more harebrained mood than usual today—
LORI : (indignantly) Hey!
LENA : ( facetiously, a little smugly ) Shhhh.
KARA : ( with an exasperated laugh )— But hopefully she doesn’t bother you two too much. She told me she has a big day planned for you so it’s either going to be awful or brilliant—
LORI : (small, displeased noise)
KARA :— but I hope for the latter. I’m sure you agree with me that celebrating dating anniversaries after marriage is a little odd, but in the spirit of it I’d like to wish you both happiness. You’ve found and nurtured a wonderful and genuine connection that all of us aspire to. I’m very grateful— and proud— to be able to call you my family. Love, Conner.
LENA : (fondly) That’s so sweet.
KARA : ( with a touched sigh as she takes a seat) That boy is an angel.
Lori’s grumbling can be heard as the camera is positioned somewhere on the counter, pointed at Kara and Lena. Lena takes a seat next to Kara and sounds of a stool scraping lightly against the floor can be heard out of frame.
LENA: (filling her plate) So, Monkey, what are your ‘big plans’ for us?
Utensils clank loudly right next to the microphone, out of frame.
LORI: (slightly muffled, as if her mouth is full) Okay, so, we’re going to the fireworks festival in Athens first.
KARA: (laughs) You woke us up early in the morning just so we could fly over to where it’s nighttime?
LORI: Okay, listen. Tonight is the last night of the festival and Conner told me that a Zordanian pyremaster came in as a last minute entry. It’ll be like, the first Zordan Skypyre Ceremony held on Earth ever. I couldn’t not include that.
Lena looks over at Kara with a smile.
LENA: That sounds wonderful.
Kara grins as Lena holds her hand.
KARA: It does. The last time I saw a Skypyre was for my eighth nameday. (laces their fingers together over the counter, smiling between Lena and Lori) I’m so excited for you two to see one. It’s spectacular.
Lena’s smile widens into a loving grin.
LORI: (overly cheerfully) See? Today’s gonna be great. We’re going to Paris for brunch after that and then back here for the aquarium, then to the art museum, then to Metropolis for dinner. I made reservations. Have some faith.
KARA: (laughs) Okay. We’re trusting you, is’kah.
LORI: You say that you usually don’t.
KARA: I love you.
The screen cuts to a fireworks display. Stunning colours light up the sky, the fireworks pulsing different colours and twisting and turning into shapes many seconds after they detonate. The crowd gasps as sparkling blue sparks form into a sparrow and twirl through the sky before dissipating. The camera shakes a little before turning to the left, where Kara and Lena are seated on the grass next to each other. They’re both in civilian clothes. Lena has a simple button up and jeans, while Kara is in a yellow sundress with her hair braided into intricate knots. Kara leans in to Lena’s ear to whisper something. ]]
“Crap,” Lori says. “I forgot to edit the subtitles in. You’re explaining that the pyres correspond to the pyremaster’s emotions. Zordanian pyremasters spend years learning the art of honing their emotions to make art.”
“Are those new glasses?” Kara asks.
Lori nods. “Yup. Mom made us a matching set when you broke yours in a fight about five years ago?”
[[ Cut to a gravelly beach. The camera looks out at the sea, with Kara and Lena seated on a picnic blanket facing the sunset.
LORI: So we’ve decided to some watch the sunset in Ireland for brunch instead of Paris. Here you see two lovebirds in their natural habitat.
Kara turns back to her with a laugh that’s muffled by the distance.
KARA: (shouting distantly) Are you sure you don’t want to just come sit with us?
LORI : I’m the camera girl! Just pretend I’m not here!
KARA: Okaaaay. (picking up one of the sandwiches) These bocconcini melts are soooo good, but if you insist.
Kara makes an exaggerated show of taking a bite while Lena laughs and slaps her shoulder lightly, saying something unintelligible at this distance but sounding somewhat chastising.
LORI: (pained noise)]]
Lena and Kara laugh.
“I see you’ve always been a food loving munchkin,” Kara says.
“Oh shush,” Lena chuckles. “She gets it from you.”
[[ Cut to a dark, vaguely illuminated hallway. The camera shifts and adjusts, balancing the lighting and coming into focus to show an aquarium walkway. Kara and Lena are holding hands, milling around with the rest of the attendees. Lena points excitedly at the tanks, tugging at Kara’s hand.
LENA: (distantly, through the ambient noise) — so those have a defense mechanism — (indistinct) — spines, they only discovered it a few years ago—
The rest of her explanation is mostly unintelligible from the distance. Kara nods along, but is looking at Lena with a dopey expression rather than the fish she’s pointing out.
LORI: They’re so in love.
The camera zooms in on Kara’s lovestruck face.
LORI: It’s disgusting.
Cut to a bright art museum. The camerawork is similar to the aquarium, with Kara and Lena walking through with held hands in the distance. Kara is the one pointed excitedly now, whispering into Lena’s ear.
LORI: Sometimes I forget Yeyu had a minor in art history.
Lena smiles and whispers something back.
LORI: (disgusted groan) Mom, oh my god. ]]
“You told a really bad pickup line about artwork,” Lori explains.
[[ Cut to a relatively well-set up scene. Kara and Lena are sitting across from each other at a candlelit table, set far apart from the other tables on the terrace. They’re leaning towards each other with matching smiles, dressed differently from the previous scenes. Kara has a blazer over a white button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and her hair is simply pinned to the side. Lena’s in a deep green dress, with her hair swept back. The camera shakes a little bit when a rustling sound comes somewhere off-screen.
UNKNOWN VOICE: Relax, it was just a raccoon. You can keep filming your creepy video.
LORI: It’s not creepy!
VOICE: You’re filming your parents having a romantic dinner. While floating behind a hedge. That’s kind of creepy.
LORI: I didn’t pay you to be a smartass, Jon.
JON: Sorry, I’m getting paid to be your weird lookout boy? ]]
Lena feels Kara gasp quietly and tighten her grip on a cushion. She reaches over and squeezes her hand in solidarity— Kara is about to see another Kryptonian child. Her nephew.
[[LORI: Can you not?
JON: Okay, even you have to admit it’s weird. No one celebrates dating anniversaries after getting married, Lor.
LORI: (deep sigh) Listen. I wasn’t sentient enough for their tenth marriage anniversary to do anything for them. And it’s going to be four whole years before their twentieth. And I’m going to be moving out for college soon. Maybe I want to be able to see them without having to fly over every time I miss them.
JON: I’m gonna miss you too.
LORI: (overly shocked gasp) Jonathan Samuel Kent, did you just admit to caring about me?
JON: Oh my god. (distantly) Bye!
LORI: Wait— (the camera shakes, pulling away from Kara and Lena) — Jonny! Wait!
The camera shakes as it runs towards a figure that’s only in the frame for a few fleeting seconds at a time to be seen clearly— the frame comes to a stop at a weird angle, looking out across the street at a closed but still blindingly lit H&M. Jon makes strangled noises as the advertising hologram spins around the main kiosk.
JON: (wheezing) Lori— you’re— choking me—!
Cut to Lena and Kara seated back at the kitchen counter from earlier, sitting side by side now in front of the camera, interview style. The room is lit by the overhead lights, and the glittering city nightscape can be seen faintly through the reflection of the house in the far windows. Kara is sitting in front of where Lori and the camera could be seen in the reflection.
KARA: (amused) If I knew we were going to get interviewed, I’d have worn something more professional. We’re a bit overdressed, don’t you think?
LORI: (unamused) Ha-ha. Please just play along one more time? This is for posterity.
LENA: (teasing) You’ve said ‘posterity’ so many times today I can’t even compute what it means.
Lori scoffs. Kara and Lena laugh as they link hands again, grinning at each other before looking back at the camera.
LENA: Okay, okay. We’ll behave. What did you want to ask us?
LORI: (clearing her throat) On this day of your twentieth anniversary, what would you like to tell your past selves?
KARA: (laughs) I think time capsule recordings go the other way around, usually.
LENA: Behave. (to the camera) How far back are we talking?
LORI: Twenty years ago. Before or after you started dating, take your pick.
A pause as Lena and Kara frown thoughtfully. Kara drums her fingers on the countertop before looking over at Lena, and they look at each other for a moment, smiling inquisitively.
KARA: Do you wanna—?
LENA: I don’t mind, do you wanna go first?
KARA: You sure? Ok— alright, I’ll go first. (laughs, looking back at the camera) Okay. Dear Me, I hope you’re doing well. ]]
Lena feels Kara shift beside her, and squeezes her hand. The direct way that future Kara is looking into the camera makes it feel like a real conversation, addressed to Kara.
[[KARA: (laughs) Well, you probably aren’t, since you-know-who is probably still bothering you about getting dumped. Don’t take him back, though. He’s nothing but trouble. I know you probably feel like you’re the one being cruel right now, but trust yourself. You’re better without him.
Lena smiles sympathetically and squeezes Kara’s hand.
KARA: You know, everything’s going to feel kind of awful. It has been for a while, hasn’t it? Between losing Krypton and Clark being distant, and then trying to be Supergirl— (wry laugh)— Rao, I remember being you. You looked around at the happy people around you and didn’t think you’d ever be able to have that. What James and Lucy had, what Alex and Maggie had. You thought you’d have to be alone, and that you-know-who was your only chance at being understood in a relationship. Of having a family. And, to be honest, a part of you is afraid of having a family. You’re so afraid you’re going to lose them again. But it’s going to be okay, okay? You don’t have to give up. You don’t have to choose. Because, soon, you’re going to fall in love with this amazing woman—
Kara smiles over at Lena for a moment.
KARA: — and you’re going to marry her. And when you come home to be you— not Kara Danvers, not Supergirl, just you— you won’t have to be alone anymore. You’ll have someone who understands every part of who you are. And then you’re going to have a daughter with your amazing wife and that kid— that kid is going to be phenomenal . She’s going to be all the best parts of you and your wife and you’re going to love her so much—
She cuts off, sniffling, laughing as she wipes at her eyes. Lena rubs her back.
KARA: Sorry, look at me, I was making fun of it and now I’m getting emotional. (deep breath) Whoo. Okay. I’m good. Sorry. (looks back at the camera with a smile) Anyway. You get my point. It’s going to be okay. Against all odds, against your entire planet dying and having to rebuild your life over and over again, you end up figuring it out. You earn it. You never break, you never stop trying, and you make it. You get to be you , and you get to love, and be loved. I know it feels impossible right now. But it’s going to be okay.
A heavy pause. Kara smiles and glances down before looking over at Lena. They break into matching grins and Lena presses a short kiss to Kara’s cheek.
KARA: Okay, now you go.
LENA: Alright. Okay. (looks at the camera) Dear Me, I know you’re doing awful, but I’ll wish you well anyway.
LENA: Your brother’s in jail. Your mother’s in jail too, and now you realized that you’re actually related to your father. Being an illegitimate Luthor feels so… bitterly ironic, I know, and you’ve basically given up on having a family. I mean, hey, we never really thought about it much anyway after we came out, right? (a short laugh) You thought that you were destined to screw up relationships. You didn’t want a child fifty miles near you because you knew you’d screw up that kid. You didn’t think you deserved a family, really, because you didn’t think you’re the kind of person who can have that kind of life and not break it beyond repair. But guess what?
She smiles mischievously and Kara chuckles quietly.
LENA: You’re going to be a great wife and a wonderful mother. I mean, not to be vain— (laughs) — but I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I keep this one pretty content— (grins playfully at Kara) — and I managed to raise a happy kid. At least, I hope so, anyway.
All three of them laugh. There’s a slight shuffling sound out of frame.
LORI: Yes. A very, very happy kid.
Lena beams at someone behind the camera. Kara squeezes her hand, smiling just as brightly and lovingly. Lena takes a deep breath.
LENA: So, you get the gist. It’s going to be okay. All the work you’ve done— all the thinking, the hurting, the surviving— it’s going to mean everything. You’re going to build a happy life with your own two hands, Lena Luthor. You have what it takes inside you. You have the strength to take everything horrible that’s happened to you and turn it into happiness. Despite everything, you are worth so much. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to be sad, to be angry, to be resentful— because you will always be strong enough to rise up through that. Because those things don’t make you weak or unworthy of love. Those things make you brave, because you still choose love after all of it.
Another heavy pause. Lena smiles down before looking over at Kara, and they smile lovingly at each other. Kara goes to press a kiss to Lena’s head and Lena closes her eyes as she leans in. The screen fades to black. ]]
Kara sniffles. Lena wipes at her own tears before leaning her head on Kara’s shoulder.
“Wait—” Kara says. “There’s more.”
[[ Cut to a warmly lit living room. Lori walks in, with bright purple hair, patting her pajama pants pockets and frowning. ]]
“Oh, you look so cute. How did you do your hair?”
Lori shrugs. “Hair doesn’t regenerate. Whatever you do to it in the red sun room stays.”
[[LORI: Yeyu, have you seen my phone— (looks up at the camera) — hey!
Kara laughs off-screen. The camera shakes as Lori comes over to try and retrieve it.
LORI: Give it back! What are you doing?
KARA: I’m filming for posterity!
LORI: That’s not funny!
Kara clearly disagrees as she continues to dodge Lori’s swipes. Lena enters the room in sleepwear as well, makeup scrubbed off, shaking her head.
LENA: Behave, you two. Monkey, come on, sit down, we have something we wanna show you.
Lori eyes the camera warily as she slowly goes to sit down on one of the couches.
LORI: I’m not appreciating this whole ‘the filmer becomes the filmed’ thing.
KARA: Oh, come on, is’kah. You got to film us all day. Give us five minutes.
Lena taps Lori’s shoulder to get her attention, sitting sideways to face her on the couch. The camera moves to look at them from a better angle across the coffee table. Lena puts a box between herself and Lori.
LENA: So your mother overheard you talking to Jon during dinner tonight.
LENA: (laughs) Bear with me. Today was wonderful, and so thoughtful, Lori. We thought we’d give you your fifteenth birthday present early as a thank you.
LORI: (puzzled) My birthday party is tomorrow night, guys.
LENA: We know. But it’s past midnight. And I was already thinking I’d give this to you before the big, loud party anyway.
Lena opens the box and pulls out a watch. ]]
“That’s—” Lena looks down at her wrist and then Lori’s. “Is this when I gave it to you?”
[[LORI: That’s— Mom, that’s your watch.
LENA: Well, it’s yours now. I refitted it so that you can signal one of us whenever you need to.
Lori stares in wonder as Lena gently fits it around her wrist.
LENA: Tomorrow’s your big day— you’re finally an adult by Kryptonian standards. It’s going to be a huge party with everyone— and it’s going to be amazing. (She smiles as she finishes tucking the strap in) But I thought I’d give you a little Luthor heirloom early. You can press it whenever you miss us, and I can signal you back. It’s not much— but I wanted you to have a reminder. That wherever you go, no matter how far, we are always with you.
Lena clasps her hands around Lori’s wrist, looking at her daughter fondly. Lori looks at the watch in wonder, and then back up at Lena, and cracks into the grimace that comes right before a sob as she launches herself into Lena’s arms. Lena grunts a little at the impact before laughs, tightening her arms around Lori as well and patting her back.
LENA: Threvzeht :jevia, eh Lorelai. Ukiemiv-odh. ]]
Lena swallows thickly.
“Did I—?” She looks over to Kara, and finds her staring in wonder.
“Yeah,” she murmurs. “You just— you told her happy birthday and that you love her.”
[[ The two start to sniffle into each other’s shoulders, and Kara chuckles lightly off-screen.
KARA: And here you see the Luthor Waterworks in action. (zooms in) I love my girls.
Lena wipes at her eyes before looking up at the camera and waving her hand impatiently.
LENA: Oh, shut up and get over here.
KARA: (laughs) Okay, okay.
The camera shakes a little before the video cuts off. ]]
Far off, beyond the outskirts of National City into the Mojave desert, the air just above a jagged cliff shimmers and warps. With a thrumming sound, it suddenly explodes into a bright flash of light and spits out a figure at incredible speed, sending the figure hurtling down the cliffside into the sand below.
The figure— the young man in dark clothes lands in a huge cloud of sand and rubble. He lies motionless for a moment before groaning and flipping over onto his back.
“Jesus— motherfuck —” he hisses, grabbing at his rib before he slowly props himself up. “Holy balls, that hurts…”
He stands shakily and takes a deep breath, dusting himself off. He adjusts his mask and pats off his shirt with the crest emblazoned across his chest once more before jumping into the air and soaring over to National City.
He hovers well above the cloudline, closing his eyes and frowning. Wind rustles through his jet black hair as he mutters to himself.
“Where are you, Lori…?”