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A Ribbon at a Time

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“We have inside information that Lex is moving ahead with the next phase of a project code-named Myriad,” Alex tells them grimly. “We don’t know what it is - nobody within LexCorp seems to know. Whatever it is, it’s been handled outside the corporation so far.”

“You mean handled by CADMUS?” Kara asks, and Lena shakes her head immediately.

“LexCorp and CADMUS are affiliated politically, but they don’t work together much. For personal reasons.”

“That’s not what our intel has suggested,” Alex says. “For example, you’ve been able to give us insider information on both. How exactly are you saying you find out CADMUS’ plans if Lex isn’t involved in them?”

Alex’s tone is accusatory, and there’s something sharp glinting in her eyes. Lena seems taken aback by it, and Kara’s willing to guess that it isn’t the norm for their interactions. She wonders if Alex’s hostility has anything to do with her. Alex’s emotions seem wound tight - for one thing, she has refused to let go of Kara since she came into the room. Even now, her hand is clenched tightly around Kara’s wrist. If Kara didn’t have superpowers, she thinks Alex would be bruising her.

“I said they don’t work together, not that there are no open lines of communication,” Lena snarls back. “Lex wouldn’t trust CADMUS with anything important to him, and vice versa.”

It’s a tense situation. There’s Alex, who Kara loves and would die for but who is basically a stranger, clinging to her and glaring around the room. There’s Lena, who Kara loves and would go so far as to live for, who is vibrating with misplaced defensive outrage on behalf of her mass-murdering brother. There’s Hank Henshaw, who Kara doesn’t know at all and whose impassive face adds a note of intimidation to the room. If it didn’t feel so life-or-death, it might have felt a little funny. Kara has always been able to find humor in extremes.

“Enough,” Hank says. “This is not what we’re here to discuss.” He eyes Lena steadily, with none of the hostility visible on Alex’s face. “Regardless of anything else, we have evidence that your brother orchestrated the attempt on your life, Ms Luthor. He hired a man named John Corben to assassinate you, and preferably to make it look like the work of an alien resistance group. Mr. Luthor has become aware that our organization is centered near National City - I believe he has also become aware that you may be less sympathetic to his cause than he hoped. He requires uncensored access to National City in the coming months, and you are in his way.”

“He figured out that I’ve been talking to Agent Danvers?” Lena asks. Her voice is tight with misery, though Kara can see that she’s scrambling to get her mask back into place. She wants to reach out to her, comfort her - but that’s not what Lena would want with this audience, and anyways, Kara is held in place by Alex. She’s not about to pull away, not about to do anything that might disrupt the unexpected gift of Alex’s love. Kara’s got her sister back, and Lena has lost her brother.

“We don’t think so,” Hank says. “But he knows you reported that an alien detection device you designed was too unreliable to be put into use, that it consistently gave false positives. You falsified lab reports to back you up - Lex had access to the original reports. Something about Project Myriad requires him to become more active in National City. He isn’t confident you’ll back him up.”

“Those reports were destroyed thoroughly. He’d have to have spies planted within my company,” Lena says. She’s almost found her way back to a neutral expression, but there’s a shakiness in her voice that still gives her away.

“He does,” Alex says. “At least four. Your secretary is one of them - she helped Corben plant a bomb in your office, and was able to tell him that there was a courier who was regularly allowed to bring packages directly to you without any kind of security sweep. When we found out, we thought we were in a race against time to get you out of that office before you opened the transmitter he’d sent you.”

“You’d have been too late. Luckily, I had other protection,” Lena says, with a sideways glance at Kara. She blatantly doesn’t address anything else Alex has just said. Based on everything she knows about Lena, Kara thinks that she is probably more shaken by the idea of Jess’ betrayal than almost anything else that has happened so far. Somehow, through the simple power of routine and familiarity, Jess had made it onto the list of people Lena trusted.

“Is Corben familiar to you?” Hank asks Lena, and she nods.

“Yes - Lex has used him several times in the past for high profile problems,” she admits. “If he found out I was working against him, Corben would be his first call.” Kara thinks that against her will, Lena is becoming convinced. Perhaps she has always known, on some level, that Lex would hurt her if the situation called for it. Self-deception is a valuable coping method, as Kara knows all too well.

Henshaw nods. “We’re trying to track Corben down,” he says. “I think under the circumstances, it would be wise for you to stay here for the night. You must be exhausted, Ms Luthor - there is undoubtedly a great deal for you to think about, but it will hold until morning.”

Lena shoots Kara a look - it’s lost and pleading. “I’ll stay with you,” Kara says at once, and Lena nods.

“Alright. I accept your hospitality, director - thank you.”

“Kara, can I talk to you for a bit?” Alex asks. She still hasn’t let go of Kara’s wrist. Kara’s immediately struck with nerves. She has a bizarre urge to say no - if she never actually talks to Alex, nothing can ruin this moment of reconciliation. Just as their parting was preserved for five years, she wants to preserve this reunion, let it sit in her memory untouchable. Alex standing next to her, a living person, involves more nuance and complexity than Kara is entirely prepared for at 2am after what was, by anyone’s standards, a somewhat trying day.

There’s also the fact that she’s just promised to stay with Lena, who despite her calm expression is obviously shaken to her core.

“I will escort Ms Luthor to guest quarters,” Hank says calmly. “Perhaps Ms Danvers can join her there once the two of you have completed your business.”

“Of course,” Alex says, and Kara sends Lena an apologetic glance before following her sister out the door.

Alex leads her through winding halls into what looks like a science lab. It’s got a couch in the corner, and Kara guesses that this is Alex’s primary workspace. Five months of Lena have made her very familiar with the kind of couches that belong to people who refuse to stop working long enough to use an actual bed. This one has a squashed pillow on one side, and a large quilt folded haphazardly and slung over the top.

Alex finally lets go of Kara’s wrist, and for a moment, Kara wants to grab her hand and refuse to let them separate. With that connection broken, she’s reminded that Alex is a stranger to her now. This muscled, uniformed woman bears only a passing resemblance to the pale seventeen year old Kara remembers. As a teenager, Alex had always been solemn and a little awkward, like she found Earth high school almost as difficult to navigate as Kara did. As an adult, she fills her own skin. She’s gone from cute to beautiful. That odd, sullen anger that surrounded her in her teen years has been pointed toward a cause, and it has transformed her.

Kara reaches out and lifts a lock of her hair. Alex’s eyes flutter shut in response - the level of emotion between them is unbearably heavy, and Kara’s ready to break it. “You cut your hair,” she says a little weakly. “It looks nice this way - shows off your bone structure.”

Alex laughs. “Yeah - makes me look about five years older than I did, which is a plus. Mom would be so pissed - do you remember when I wanted to cut it short sophomore year?”

Kara grins. “Her issue wasn’t with the idea of short hair and you know it. You wanted a mohawk to go with those stupid spiky pants,” she retorts, and then stops, startled by her own pleasure. She hasn’t remembered anything pleasant about Eliza or Jeremiah in years. She's been too busy managing her guilt.

Alex is watching her with unspoken understanding in her eyes. “It’s nice to talk about them with someone who really remembers them,” she says. “Hank knew Jeremiah for awhile, but - he honors their memory. I hate always thinking about them as early martyrs to a cause. Sometimes it’s nice to remember the five hundred ways Mom used to piss me off, and just enjoy being irritated with her.”

“I’m sorry, Alex,” Kara says. “For everything. You lost your family because of me.”

“Kara, no.” Alex reaches for her, grips her shoulders. “It wasn’t your fault at all. It was CADMUS’ fault, and Lex Luthor’s fault. I’m the one who needs to apologize - I should have protected you better. Mom would have killed me for sending you off. You were just a kid.”

“So were you,” Kara points out. “I’ve never blamed you - you probably saved both our lives by sending me away.”

“I should have gone with you,” Alex answers miserably. “I’ve been looking for you practically since the moment you left. But I was seventeen, and a ward of the state. By the time I had any resources to search for you, the trail was impossibly cold. I tried every stupid thing I could think of. I even asked Lena Luthor to find you, I thought CADMUS might have kept some kind of tabs if you hadn’t hidden well enough.” Her eyes narrow. “I guess she found you and didn’t bother to tell me.”

“She was trying to protect me,” Kara explains. “You didn’t tell her why you wanted me - she wasn’t sure it was for anything good.”

Alex laughs, a low ragged sound. “I guess I can’t blame her for that,” she says. “I’m glad you had someone looking out for you, even if it couldn’t be me. Have you been with her this whole time?”

“I met her a couple months ago,” Kara says. “Through my job - I’m the courier they used to blow her up. I didn’t know she knew you until I found you in the elevator. Not even then, actually - I figured you were probably the person who planted the bomb.”

“So you ran to pull her out of harm’s way,” Alex concludes. “You couldn’t have stayed put for five minutes to ask me?”

“I should have. I’m sorry. I never expected to see you again - I didn’t think you ever wanted to see me,” Kara admits. She hears the wobble in her voice and looks away, ashamed. Alex’s grip on her shoulder gets tighter - Kara thinks Alex wants to hug her, but isn’t sure how well Kara would receive it. Kara’s not sure either.

“Of course I wanted to. I never stopped looking for you,” Alex reiterates, her voice fierce. “Kara, you’re my family.” Alex’s voice breaks on the last word, and suddenly both of them are crying, and Kara decides, fuck it , and pulls Alex tightly against her.

“You think our relationship is gonna involve this much crying all the time?” she asks, and Alex laughs wetly into her shoulder.

“I’m hoping we find our way back to the dynamic where you’re perky and irritating, and I’m exasperated but tolerant. That worked well for us for a few years, didn’t it?”

“Funny, those aren’t the descriptors that come to mind for me,” Kara says. “Actually, if I had to pick one word to describe you as a teenager -”

“Nope. Stop.” Alex cuts her off with a firm hand over her mouth, and maybe they’re both trying a little too hard to pretend they still know each other, but at least for now it’s working. Kara is warmed by the familiarity of the gesture. “Listen - the one benefit of being tragically orphaned is that there’s never anyone around who remembers what I was like as a teenager. If anyone asks, I’ve been a badass since birth, got it?”

“Got it,” Kara promises solemnly, and suddenly everything feels a thousand times less overwhelming, because damned if she and Alex don’t have the same stupid coping mechanisms. Her stomach grumbles, and she looks hopefully at her sister. “If this place has a cafeteria and you take me to it, I will tell everyone there that you rescued me from the school playground with your fists of fury.”

“This is a military base, we call it a commissary here,” Alex tells her loftily, and leads the way.


“What’s next for you?” Alex asks Kara, as they settle at a table in the nearly-abandoned commissary. There’s nothing available at this time of night but some pre-packaged foods and fruit. Kara has seven peanut butter and jelly sandwiches stacked on the tray in front of her, and some chocolate milk to go with it.

“Well - step one, see how many of these sandwiches I can fit into my mouth at once,” she says, since she doesn’t know the answer to the question Alex is actually asking.

“Not what I mean, and you know it,” Alex says mildly. She pulls open the pack of oreos she’d picked up and pulls one apart, biting into the half with the frosting. “You said you’ve been working as a delivery girl - do you want that to change, now that you’ve found us? The DEO does a lot to help aliens. We could get you better paperwork, forge you an identity solid enough to go back to school on, or whatever you wanted to do.” She takes a deliberately casual bite of cookie and swallows it before adding, “or you could make a life out of helping us here. If anyone has a right to this cause, it’s you.”

Kara,already down to five sandwiches, doesn’t have an easy answer. The idea of staying by Alex’s side, of fighting for a better world, of seeking justice for Eliza and Jeremiah - it’s all tempting, but at the same time, it feels unrealistic. She’s spent five years honing her ability to run away from danger. She’s not sure whether she has it in her to stand up and fight. For herself, for Lena, even for Alex, she thinks she could do it. She’s familiar with the motivation that desperation provides. But for strangers? She’s not ready to martyr herself - perhaps it’s selfish, but she feels like she’s already sacrificed as much as anyone should have to.

The other offer, of a permanent identity and the ability to build a life for herself, feels more within her grasp. If she’d stayed on Krypton, she would have been in her top-level of education with the science guild by now. One of her favorite things about Earth when she first arrived was getting to take classes on so many different things. She liked drawing - she’d been so excited when Eliza told her she could go to school for art, if she wanted to.

She doesn’t want that now, but still - she’s in love with having open doors in front of her.

She puts the entire terrifying subject aside until she’s ready to deal with it, shifting gears to the other topic that’s burning in her mind. “What about Lena?” she asks. “If Lex is trying to kill her, then she’s in real trouble. Can the DEO help her?”

Alex sighs. The commissary lighting is dim, maybe out of respect for the hour, maybe just because powering an entire secret underground base has its logistical problems. She pulls apart the rest of her cookies as she thinks, and Kara is distracted by the graceful lines of her fingers, by the shadows that emphasize the sharp adult planes of her face, by the way that Alex chews at her lip. She soaks in the details.

“We’ll help her as much as we can, but our resources are limited, and billionaires aren’t our priority,” is what Alex finally says. “And I know you won’t want to hear it, Kara, but the truth is that Lena may not be completely on our side. You heard her defending her brother in there, right?”

“She loves him. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s on our side. She’s a good person, she wants to do the right thing,” Kara defends. Alex’s eyes pierce her.

“She loves him, but she loves you too, right?” she asks. “Just as much as she loves Lex. I don’t think it’s down to morality for her, and I don’t think it is for you either - I think you want to have faith that she’ll choose you over him. And to be honest, Kara, I’ve known Lena for longer than you, and I think your faith is misplaced.”

“You’ve known her longer, but I know her better,” Kara says. Alex isn’t totally wrong - Kara does want to believe that Lena would pick her over Lex. But Lena isn’t the kind of person who makes her decisions so simply. She does what she thinks is right, no matter what it costs her.

“It would be easier for her if she did choose Lex,” Alex points out gently. “She could cut ties with us, give him a working alien detector, and go back to her life, if she wanted to. We might be able to keep her alive,  but there’s no outcome here where she chooses you and gets to go back to her cushy penthouse afterwards.”

It’s true. Lena has walked the line between her beliefs and her family as far as it goes. She’s going to have to make a decision. Kara wants to think Lena will choose the right thing. She wants to be confident, to have faith in her. And she does have faith in Lena’s goodness. It’s Lena’s perspective that she’s not sure about. Lena has grown up steeped in some confusing ideas about what’s right and what isn’t.

“I know her,” she says again. And yeah, she does know Lena - that’s the problem.

“Alright,” Alex says. “I wasn’t trying to pick a fight. I hope you’re right about her. What I really wanted to say was just that, you know - you’ve got a place here, if you want one. No matter what happens, with any of this, I don’t want to lose you again. I want you to stay in my life, ok?”

For that, at least, Kara can muster up a smile. “Yeah - I want that too,” she says.


Kara makes no pretense that she’s going to sleep in a separate room, and Alex doesn’t try to offer her one, just shows her where Lena’s staying and says good night. It’s awkward for a moment, because loving a stranger is always awkward. The sideways glances and stilted conversations feel familiar - it all reminds Kara of when she’d first landed on Earth, and Kal had found her pod. Loving her grown cousin who was meant to be an infant, loving a sister who’d transformed while Kara was in hiding - Kara is growing practiced at this.

They hug goodbye outside Lena’s door and Alex flees, probably as ready for a brief reprieve from it all as Kara is. Emotions are exhausting. Also, still being awake at four in the morning is exhausting.

Kara knocks lightly at the heavy door and then slips into the room. The rest of the DEO has an industrial, half-finished look, with metal beams and places where they’ve let the natural rock serve as part of the base’s structure. Kara was expecting this room to be the same, but it’s surprisingly normal - a small, neat cube, with a linoleum floor and white-painted walls. There’s a twin-size bed with a dull gray blanket, which Lena hasn’t even bothered to pull down. She’s lying on top of it in her clothing, her shoes tossed into the corner.

She looks as though she’s sound asleep, but Kara knows that isn’t true. For one thing, she heard Lena’s heartbeat increase as Kara entered the room. Even if she hadn’t, though, she knows that Lena has never in her life put her thoughts to the side in favor of a night of rest.

For a moment, she considers letting Lena get away with it. She clearly doesn’t want to talk, and Kara’s feeling a little talked out herself. It’s tempting to just shove Lena over, curl up around her, and close her eyes.

But if they don’t talk now, Kara isn’t sure when they’ll get another opportunity. She wants to know what Lena is going to choose in the morning. She wants to be sure Lena knows what Kara is choosing too. She can’t bear the thought of Lena waking up to face her day tomorrow, thinking she might face it alone.

“Hey,” she murmurs, and sits down on the mattress, kicking her shoes off to join Lena’s in a haphazard pile. She reaches out to smooth the hair off Lena’s face, hoping that Lena will understand what Kara means by being gentle. “I brought you a sandwich - you must be starved.”

Lena’s eyes flutter open, and she sighs. “Kara, I just want to sleep,” she warns, and Kara nods, playing along for a moment.

“Alright,” she agrees. “But let’s get you out of your work clothes at least. Might as well be comfortable.”

Lena sighs again, but she doesn’t argue, sitting up to pull her blouse over her head. She tosses it toward the floor, but Kara catches it, folding it into a neat square and tossing it on top of the small set of drawers. They haven’t got anything else to change into tomorrow, and Lena wears her expensive clothes like a suit of armor. She’ll be glad in the morning that she hasn’t let it spend the night settling into wrinkles.

Her pants follow, and then Lena unclips her bra and tosses it onto the stack, heedless of her nudity. There are red marks pressed into her pale skin, where the underwire didn’t fit well enough to last comfortably through a 20 hour day. Kara strips down as well and pulls them both under the covers, taking comfort from the warmth of skin on skin as they settle.

“I love you,” she says, and Lena sighs, her shoulders losing some of their tension.

“I love you too,” she answers, but there’s an odd note to her voice that Kara can’t quite place, and then she presses on as though she’s eager to change the subject. “How was your talk with Agent Danvers?”

“It was good,” Kara answers honestly. “I mean, it was awkward as hell, but how could it not be, right?”

“Right,” Lena agrees drolly. “She’s your….. ex-what, exactly?”

“Not my ex-anything,” Kara says, and Lena goes stiff in her arms. “She’s my sister - my foster-sister, I mean, she’s human. But we grew up together, until her parents were killed.”

There’s a beat of silence, and then Lena turns over in Kara’s arms so that they’re facing each other. Her eyes are wide.

“Oh,” she says. Kara stares at her for a moment, and then bursts into laughter. Lena smacks her on the arm.

“Sorry, I just - I honestly can’t believe that with everything going on, you still found the time to be jealous,” she says.

“I’m very smart, I can multitask,” Lena grumbles. “And you can see where I might come to that conclusion! You were being all secretive about her, and then she came in and wouldn’t stop touching you, and she kept glaring at me like I’d taken a bite of her sandwich or something.”

Lena looks ruffled , her forehead crinkled into something that’s almost a pout. Kara can’t resist kissing her, and Lena hums into it, nudging Kara’s arm in an extremely unsubtle cue that she’d like to be held tighter.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” Kara says, because it does seem a little sketchy when Lena lays it out like that. “I haven’t seen her since her parents died. I thought she might blame me for it. I didn’t want to - I didn’t want to say she was my sister until I knew that she still thought so.”

Lena’s arms come around to rub soothingly at Kara’s back, and Kara thinks Lena probably hears everything she is leaving unspoken.

“I’m glad you have her back at last,” she says quietly. “You deserve it. I don’t think my story with Lex is going to get the same happy ending.”

“It doesn’t seem that way,” Kara agrees, since there’s not much point in pretending. It’s not as though it would do Lena any good if Kara could act like maybe Lex isn’t a murderous vindictive dickface.

Lena sighs. “Is it ridiculous that I didn’t see this coming?” she asks.

“You love him,” Kara says in lieu of an answer, because yeah, she doesn’t totally get it. Maybe it’s not Lena’s fault her crazy brother has brainwashed her into thinking that he’s murdered hundreds of people in the name of justice, but - maybe it is her fault a little. Kara likes to think that if her mother or father had done something that terrible, or if Alex had done something that terrible, she would have recognized it. She’d still love them, and some part of her would still grieve their loss always, but - she’d be able to condemn them, wouldn’t she?

Perhaps she should be grateful that she’ll never have to find out.

“I love him, but that doesn’t mean the things he’s done should have been forgivable to me,” Lena says quietly. “I shouldn’t have been so willingly blind. I shouldn’t be surprised that he’d try to kill me when he’s killed so many other people.” She looks up at Kara, her mouth bent crooked with the effort not to cry. “How can you be here holding me, loving me? He killed your family and I forgave him for it.”

“It’s not your fault your brother sucks,” Kara tells her, striving for a practical tone. She doesn’t think Lena has room for any more emotions to be piled on. And anyways, Kara doesn’t know how to answer that - she doesn’t know how she can be here, how she can say goodbye to Alex in the hallway and then curl up with Lena Luthor. She just loves her, and there’s no way to explain it with logic.

“I’ve been trying to walk this line where I can fight him and still love him,” Lena says. “I’m done walking it. Tomorrow I’m going to tell Henshaw everything I know about LexCorp, about CADMUS - I’m going to do what I have to to take him down.”

“Then that’s what I’m doing too,” Kara tells her. Choices made, they cling to each other in the dark.


They don’t ever really fall asleep, but they somehow find themselves waking up the next morning. Lena’s phone blares an alarm from her pants pocket on the dresser, and Kara stumbles over to turn it off while Lena blinks blearily.

Kara’s exhausted. Her head feels heavy with the need for more sleep, and she tries to sort through her fuzzy thoughts and remember another time when she’s felt this way. Yes, it has been a rough 24 hours, but she’s not usually tired in such a bone deep way. She’s wondered before if maybe she doesn’t actually need sleep at all, if maybe she could just let Earth’s yellow sun replace it for her -

Of course, it can’t replace sleep if she wakes up in an underground base.

“Take a shower, I’m going to find us coffee,” she tells Lena gruffly, and pulls her pants on. There’s got to be a way she can get above ground for just a few minutes.

She runs into Alex almost the moment she steps out the door. Alex is already freshly showered and in her uniform, looking much perkier than Kara feels. “Hey, I was just coming to get you,” she says. “We’re going to have a briefing in an hour, J - Hank wants both of you there.”

“Alright, we’re up and ready to go,” Kara says. “Do you think I can get off the base for 10 minutes though?”

“Uh… I guess if you want to, you’re not a prisoner here,” Alex says cautiously. “You realize that it’s a 2 hour drive to the nearest dunkin donuts though, right?”

Kara grins at her. “You seem to have forgotten a few basic things about me,” she tells Alex dryly, and Alex stares at her blankly for a moment before she figures it out.

“Kara, no - you can’t flit in and out of our secret base using alien superpowers. There are like nineteen different ways that that’s a terrible idea,” she says, and yeah, she has a point, but Kara has spent years flying around busy cities without getting caught, and she feels confident she can handle an empty desert.

“Come on, it’s going to be a rough day,” she pleads. “I need sunshine, Lena deserves coffee - I’ll bring you back a donut. A good donut. Alex, I’ve gotten very very good at being sneaky in the past five years, trust me.”

Alex crosses her arms. “Part of being sneaky is knowing when a risk isn’t worth taking,” she tells Kara firmly. Kara is suddenly slapped in the face by three years of memory - three years of Alex saying, ‘I’m not sure this is a good idea, Kara’ and then going along with whatever Kara wanted to do anyways.

Alex doesn’t look like she’s someone who can be cajoled into granting Kara’s whims anymore. Her expression is stern and unyielding, and her military uniform is crisply cut.  They aren’t going to be able to find their way back to the people they used to be, Kara realizes with a wave of grief. Nor should they try. They’ve both grown, and they owe it to themselves not to act as though cutting off five years of growth will let them return to a more pleasant past.

But if Kara sticks around, if she joins this fight and stays by Alex’s side, they can build a new relationship. One based on the people they are now.

“You’re right,” she tells Alex with a small smile. “I’ll go get commissary coffee.”

“Nah, that stuff is bad,” Alex says, body language loosening in relief at Kara’s surrender. “I’ve got better stuff stashed away in the lab breakroom, come on.”

There’s no sunshine in Alex’s lab, but caffeine and emotional catharsis do a solid job waking Kara up anyways. She ducks back into the room with an extra mug of coffee just in time to see Lena doing up the last buttons of her blouse.

She looks pale and haggard, and Kara wishes all over again that she’d ignored Alex and snuck off-base to get Lena some coffee and her makeup bag. She thinks Lena would feel a thousand times better if she could just put on her red lipstick.

“Hey,” she says, and holds out the meager offering that she has. “I brought you coffee.”

“My savior,” Lena tells her wryly. She takes the mug and then leans against Kara, pressing her weight into Kara’s body as she takes a small sip, testing the mug’s temperature.

“We’re invited to a briefing. You ready for this?” Kara asks.

“Not even a little, but here we go,” Lena tells her, and then heaves a deep sigh. “You know how much I love having the upper hand. Confused, overtired, and wearing yesterday’s clothing is not how I’d like to start this out, but I guess I have to make the best of it.”

“You’ve got backup,” Kara tells her firmly.

Alex is waiting for them again when they exit, and Kara is glad to be glad to see her.

“Agent Danvers,” Lena says with a nod. “I hear I have you to thank for the drinkable coffee this morning.”

“Yeah, well,” Alex looks a little abashed, scratching at her ear. “I hear I should thank you for looking out for my little sister, so - thanks. Sorry I was a little hard on you yesterday.”

Kara can see the way Lena warms, the way she straightens up and looks like she can breathe again. She’s not walking into a room of enemies; she’s surrounded by potential allies.

“She’s looked out for me in return,” is all Lena says on the matter, before changing the subject. “We’ll have to move fast if any of my information is going to be useful to you. Once Lex realizes that his assassination attempt has failed, he’ll have to assume that I’m with you. I don’t think he realizes the full scope of what I know, but he’ll take steps to hide anything he thinks I can give you.”

Alex nods, shifting gears as quickly as Lena. “Anything you can tell us, we’ll make use of,” she says firmly. “There are some things you know that he can’t hide - the names of major players in his operation, the research he’s doing.”

“And you’re also stopping Corben, right?” Kara asks pointedly, because it figures that once decided, Lena would jump headfirst into doing good and forget to get herself rescued from the crazy assassin.

“I think I know where you can find him,” Lena says, “if we move fast. Lex has a series of properties in the area. I don’t know that we’ll be able to get to him before he goes to ground, though.”

“I can move fast,” Kara points out. “I can fly, in point of fact.” The rest of this will come, but she’s itching to remove the threat to Lena before they do anything else. She’s not going to lose anyone else she loves to Lex Luthor.

The look Lena shoots her way is sharp and terrified. “You’re not trained to take on an assassin,” she tells Kara firmly, and Alex nods agreement. “Anyways - you can’t put your face out there for Lex and CADMUS like that. This all started with your cousin - if you start flying around out there, doing all the things he could do, you’re going to become their number one target. They don’t want any reminders of the good aliens can do.”

“Maybe that’s a good reason to do it,” Kara points out.

“You know,” Alex says with a sly grin, “we could get you into a disguise, Kara. Remember that great outfit your cousin used to wear?”

“You are coming nowhere near me with spandex,” Kara says firmly, and Alex cackles. She’s joking, and Kara laughs with her, but there’s another part of her that can’t help but picture it. The symbol of her first family across her chest, as she fights for justice with her second family by her side.

She’s totally unqualified, Lena’s right. But Alex said they might be able to make a place for her here. Not yet, but someday -

Yeah, maybe that could be OK.