Lena had told you about opening a sister branch at National City if all worked out well with LexCorp.
“Really?” You had asked through the phone, clicking on the loudspeaker as you had moved around to unzip out of your tight dress.
It had been a long five months prior.
“I have already looked into the building in a Elm street, I think? Just a few minutes away from CatCo, actually.”
“Yeah?” You had sounded disgustedly hopeful, tripping over your own feet as you tried to peel down the zip.
“Yes, if all goes well.” She was mellow, her voice breaking at the end a “Kara – are you alright there – did something break?”
“Lena?” You had jumped, the phone pressed hard against your ear.
“Kara – did you fall?” Lena cracks in soft sounds.
The laughter blooms in slow tunes through the static. You hear the turn of a chair – a slight screech – and then her voice floods through again. Lena’s still in her office.
“You were out?”
“Post hour drinks with colleagues. I think her name’s Sarah of IT. It’s her birthday so – “
You hum. “Yeah, not all of us are multi-billionaire CEO of a company who works overtime and puts of us in shame.”
You can almost see her smirk. “Isn’t it a bit early someone to be home on a Friday night? No lover boy?”
You don’t know why you are so uncomfortable of talking about Mike with her still. It’s been almost four months since you both have been dating but Lena had only met him once – Lena and her regal prowess – Mike and his ignorant babbling and you with mostly drunk, on too much wine with your head on the table.
“Lena.” You had tried to be stern then. She has never called him Mike.
“Well – you are the one who forgot to tell their best friend about a man she has been seeing for quite a few months.” You almost hear that tint of residual anger and stored disappointment in her voice but Lena never says anything more.
“I honestly don’t know how I forgot.” It's a small white lie only because part of your did forget. You sigh too long against the receiving end of your cell phone, not wanting to talk about Mike anymore. “Anyway, I wasn’t feeling well. Plus, you rarely call these days except the weekends so I wasn't going to miss your call and then be at the receiving end of your answer machine itself."
“No. It’s fine. Really.”
“Kara.” She whispers. “I just thought you would be busy – now that you are spoken for. Already you have tons of work as a reporter, and there’s the time different and I just – “
“You just thought.” You huff, the hollow feeling in your crunching. “I could never be too busy for you, you idiot.”
She doesn’t reply. You ache to know what her silence means.
“I can’t believe you are coming home.” You finally yield.
You think she’s biting her lips, white pearled teeth exhibiting out.
“Yes, I have missed you too.”
It’s been almost eighteen months since Lillian Luthor had stepped down as CEO for Lena to carry on as Lionel's successor. Eighteen months too long to be away from home in a foreign city across the city. Eighteen months and Lena Luthor is finally coming home.
“She deserved it. I did the world a favor.” Morgan Edge doesn’t have a single edge of repent in his eyes as he looked at Lena - bitter, yet surprisingly satisfying. He didn’t wrestle against the metal as Maggie Sawyer cuffed and pushed him harshly into the back of the police jeep.
There was too many reporters. Too many screams of recycled questions.
What happens to LexCorp now that it has been dropped off all its charges of lead poisoning the drinking water?
What of the bodies of the children and their mourning families?
Will Lena Luthor visit them?
Will Miss Luthor repent or it’s all just another pretense?
Winn and you had collected enough evidence to put Edge down for good but – James nearly scrambles on his feet to plummet the camera in the reporter’s face.
You are here to get an exclusive but Lena – she’s looks numb – a heart dying in silence, glazed with a glassy layer of tears. You dive under the guard’s arm reaching for her, your reporter’s tag flying out – but she nods and pulls away, too many blood tears trailing in her foot prints.
The empty skyscraper of the newly branded LuthorCorp stood shrouded in the darkness under the cursed name.
And, Lena had returned to Metropolis – a shadow of herself.
You think you both have been bidding your time.
You think she was bound to fall someday.
You knew that somehow.
Except you didn’t know that when she would fall, you would fall too in the most humane way possible.
You never thought your heart could stop beating like it did. But it did.
You watched her fall.
You went out with a whimper and that bitter irony.
You remember the date. Its copper plated in your memory.
Now when you think, you can’t guilt yourself into wondering that you should have known. Because it’s 21st March and two months since Morgan Edge got arrested.
The full circle.
You know if it had been you, no matter how much had you insisted – or ignorantly screamed at her, cursed out insulting profanities or – belted out heart benumbing words at her - she would have never left you.
But you did and you can’t even raise your drooping eyes up to your reflection without drowning in that imagery of her lifeless body against the cold marbled floor of the bathroom.
The punch that shoots out voluntarily is all anger and too much volcanic pain. The glass shatters instantly in perfect order from the center. It’s fucking painful at the headed instant, but then copper warmth gushes out past the small silvers implanted in your skin. The pain subsides but her face doesn’t.
Your mother bandages the fading streaks of red in your stilled hand. Honestly, it doesn’t hurt one bit. Your eyes are stuck at one of your painting that hangs noiselessly against Eliza’s walls.
It’s was a day you went hiking with her about two months ago, mostly forest and that overbearing greenness that you love so much. There was even a small lake where you had tried to even teach her swimming. Tried.
Yeah. She failed miserably. But she had promised you that stern and determined one day, Danvers, one day.
She promised you.
That memory boils up in you, and comes down your tear stained face in waters.
“Kara?” Your mother nudges you. “Kara?”
You look up under welling lashes.
“I thought she stopped using a long time ago?” It comes out as a more as an unanswerable question than a fact.
“It’s been – “ You begin. “It’s been a couple of years now since - .” You croak out somehow. You fall back and Eliza waits patiently.
“I - uh we haven’t been talking after the Edge case, she’s been avoiding me, Alex everyone.” You wipe your face. “You know what today is, right. You know how she is, especially today. She said some things, did – .“ You pause, at that lump of a memory settles slow in you.
In blurry eyes, you look up to Eliza’s worrying one. “Just, words got exchanged and I left. I came to her apartment and I found – I found her in the bathroom.” You squeeze your eyes shut.
“What did you fight about?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Kara.” Eliza still persists softly because Lena did overdose.
“Mom.” You look up at her. “It doesn’t matter now. I consider her my family. I’m her best friend.” The friend settles bittersweet and poisonous on your salty dried lips because you knew you were over her – you had to be, you have moved on – you have. You hold the lining of couch tightly instead, peeling another look at your mom. She looks bleary eyed and too suffocating-ly sad for you.
You look away instantly.
You blame it on your eyes. The blues of which who are always in desperate search for their green. Her green.
“She’s going to be ok, right?” You want to peel away the gawking desperation in your tone but you can’t.
“J’onn is one of the best trauma surgeon I know, Kara.”
Those words you have heard before too, someplace in another time – someplace in another hospital.
“Hank Henshaw is one of the best trauma surgeon I know, Kara.”
You were 19 and seating in the waiting room. Drabbed in some stained shirt and a pants, cuddled under Alex’s tear cloaked arm, you had watched Eliza promise you, so hopefully, as she frantically jumped from the flies of doctors and nurses coming in and out of those white doors of Jeremiah’s OT.
You held onto her words.
Until the very last.
You held onto her words – because Alex needed you to – because Eliza needed you to – because history shouldn’t be repeating itself like a black and red herring.
Until it did.
Until Alex was holding onto Jeremiah’s white sheets, the awful please – please - please blaring into you.
Until you could no longer take that leap of faith anymore.
Until you stood in black with a singular lily in your hand placing in front of your father’s marbled grave.
You still remember you didn’t tell him how much you loved him when he had dropped you off to Winn’s that day. You had been in a sour mood – Jeremiah didn’t understand the necessity of a new car or anything better than the wheel shrieking trunk that he had given you for your college – small ungrateful words came out in anger, “you aren’t my father” was the one that still makes you cry – and then, you had left.
Your father wasn’t drunk behind his wheels. He wasn’t on his phone when he was driving. He didn’t miss a red signal.
The driver in the other car did everything your father didn’t.
Funny how fate works.
The said driver, a Timonthy, came unscathed.
While your father bathed in his own blood.
“Mom.” You warn despite your feebleness. You know it’s never possible to guarantee. But even then maybe you are hoping something of a small sugar coated lie.
What if the truth isn’t what you are looking for?
Be strong. Be strong. Be strong. “Is Lena going to be okay?” You repeat.
“Kara, baby - ” Eliza takes in a too long off a breathe tugging the collar of her coat. She looks so small underneath its weight, the truth is ugly after all. “You know, she overdosed.” There’s a thinning in the bones of her neck at she sucks in air again. “J’onn has yet to come out. And when he does, you’ll be the first one to know.”
You nod unsteadily as you get up on your feet. Eliza’s hand instantly shooting up to your arm, gripping to steady you, but even before she can, you are already backpedaling away towards the door.
“I’ll be in the waiting room then.”
“Kara, you can go - ” home and I’ll inform you dies when she looks up at you.
My best friend.
It clings on your skin.
“Of course, darling.”
You tug at Lena’s sweatshirt draped over your skin as you move out. It makes you weep in the fading smell of hers.
Jeremiah was more of a father to you than your biological father Zander Zorel ever was. They died when you were eight – a house fire and you became an orphan until you didn’t – until you got adopted shortly afterwards and became a Danvers.
“I didn’t tell dad how much I loved him – the day he died. But I did.” The unharmed hand is on the knob. A small sarcastic cry escapes your throat as you leave.
I never told her how much I had loved her either – you scream those words, harmonic and tragic inside of you.
The blueprint of your words echo, even after you leave.
It echoes. Again and again. Until they settle in Eliza’s I know.
In all the years you have known her, Lena never told you the full story. Her story. Not the one that had been broadcasted in front lines – not the blogs scathing against the Luthor name.
Just her story. They always came in phlegmatic lost eyes and in that faraway look in a crowd and then you would see her falling down, long bony fingers clasped tight around her chest. Her story would come again in clogged air of her lungs and poison in her veins.
So, you stopped asking.
She would always tell them in her own pace.
And each time you would hold her, and wait for that storm to pass.
Lutessa was her name. She loved her middle name Lena though. No last name. So she became Lena – small, simple.
She never knew her father. Her maman - mother Alina, just Alina – had no official last name either. She was a waitress at some diner. Lena doesn’t really recall the apartment she lived in, but remembered the suffocating darkness and the shortage of space. She remembered empty bottles rolling on the floor and a weedy smell coming off the walls.
Lena didn’t remember Alina’s face either when she died. But she remembers the date and the two words that followed in everyone’s mouth.
And now when someone asks her, Lena would say, she feels now awfully lonely must her mother had been that day.
It was the first day of your third semester at NYU.
And Lena’s first class of her Master’s programme at Columbia Uni. Yes, younger than you but earnestly smarter by bounds.
It had been a chance meeting on Craigslist. Your intense dislike for Leslie “Livewire” Willis coupled with Lena’s you do realize I’m a Luthor right? and that half shared chocolate milkshake at Pop’s – that was all it really took.
You remember his scrutinizing eyes and that fake, tight smile flashing momentarily. Most of your boxes had been unpacked and you had been shoving one underneath your bed for later, a simple task you had been apparently taking a lot of time to do or so Lena always says just loud enough for you to hear.
The hushed whispers shared between the siblings were anything but cordial – or civil for that matter and honestly, you tried so hard to keep your straining ears off their conversation.
From your periphery, you watched Lena cower, head down before raising up eyes and saying something so fiery that you could hear the sharp gasp of Lex, his harsh and hollow Lena before he raised his hand to grip onto her pale arm too tight to make her yelp.
You jumped onto your feet stepping in between them, pulling Lena away.
“Watch yourself.” You grit out.
“Miss Danvers.” He says, even after knowing you for three whole years, as he slithered away in overpriced leather shoes, volatile eyes jumping in fro between Lena and you. “I assure you, if was a momentary lapse.” He moved an inch and more closer to Lena but still somehow far away.
“Lena.” You remember he almost sounded sad.
You had truly stepped up in front of the ravened girl then.
“I’m her brother, Miss Danvers.”
Glassed eyes of yours burnt in his awful stoned brown.
“And Lena’s my family, Lex Luthor.” You planted yourself like a tree beside Lena as you said the benign truth, that’s been itching and dying so long inside of you. You had felt Lena stiffen under your arm, before melting against your cardigan.
Lex had stepped back, eyes still dancing between his sister and you.
“You should leave, Mr. Luthor.”
His nostrils flared at you, even you could still see that softening in his eyes as he looked a final time at his sister.
“Just don’t disappoint Mother, Lena.”
That’s was the first time you had seen her inhale in the white powder of ecstasy. Just for fun, Lena would always say over you why why why.
Somewhere in the looming corner of the campus party between those people in dark layers, you watched her get high on sadness and pain.
But that time had been horrific to you. Maybe because it had been your first time – or maybe because you saw her break down in front of you and you couldn’t do anything at all.
Alex is tired to the bones when she comes, her detective badge still looped out on her belt, dial toning her phone shut.
Her throat bobs as she sits herself down beside you. “Maggie’s arranging some details with the babysitter. She’ll be down in a few.”
You nod head down, finger tips scaling one against the other. You know your she doesn’t have to won’t matter. Maggie is Lena’s kindred sister.
“Broken childhood and tragic backstories does that to you.” Lena’s wine glass clinking against Maggie’s beer bottle in that almost empty bar.
You can feel Alex vibrating – the what – how – why at the tip of her tongue or maybe it’s where the hell is Mike Matthews or even that just tell Lena already what you feel about her - but instead she squeezes you thigh and unbuttons her jacket.
Dr. J’onn stands contrasting against the white walls, aground by your mother. His dark lashes flickers from you – Alex – Maggie and then comes still on you again.
He begins slows with Miss Luthor is now out of danger and you almost have a half heart to run past the door and see her for once.
“She’s sleeping for now.” He supplies in his gravel voice and a small smile and Maggie tears up under Alex’s arms.
Dr. J’onn talks some more about her and some papers to sign. He talks and you half listen, eyes drifting to the shut door and imagining her rugged heartbeat and waiting for Dr. J’onn’s but to come because he spent 2 hours in the OT.
It comes after a while when he asks you to step aside since you are her emergency contact and you are gripping her borrowed sweatshirt that you have been wearing in a white palm and bleary eyes.
You lost your parents. You lost Jeremiah. You thinking you are losing Mike but somehow, losing – almost losing Lena seems to outweigh others – like that inevitable slow death that’s eroding and poisoning your veins but you can’t do anything about it.
“She’s alive.” He says in a gentle tone. You look up to him. “Thanks to you, Miss Danvers.” You snuffle at your sleeve at the onset of that memory.
J’onn clears his throat opening up the file in his hands.
“It says that Miss Luthor has been an addict through 16-23 but she has been clear for the last 4 years. She – " He pauses at your sharp eyes. “ I know she’s not using again but you and I both know, Miss Danvers, being clear for 4 whole years and then this overdose could only mean one thing.”
You blur out the rest of his words.
The curtains of her room is flung to a side. You don’t see her through the glass but you see just enough of her face. And the infinite lines running out of her veins and you think she’s looks awfully small underneath all the machines.
Alexander Lex Luthor gets hailed as the terrorist – the traitor when he black markets weapons of bioterror. And he gets named, "the sociopathic mass murderer" when he’s designed bomb kills 467 of men, women and child.
Lex Luthor had called it “cleansing of malnutrition and starved mouths ” when he was finally presented in court and sentenced for life and Lena had begged for penance counting those names over and over again - in closed eyes and daylight nightmares.
Lena then, was in her first year of her Phd and that was the first time you had almost lost her.
You smash the cold chloroformed reeking water over your face again and again. Your bandaged hand aches.
It’s nearly 2am. The washroom door creaks open and booted footsteps walk in behind you.
“Lex’s dead. Lillian’s in jail and but still they are everywhere.” You say, gripping the edges of the basin. “I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. Hasn’t she suffered enough?”
She’s smaller than you, even in her heels but that doesn’t stop Maggie from steeling her arms around your shivering frame, her own warm tears settling against your shoulders.
“She’s alive though. She’s alive and that’s all that matters.”
You are sitting in the backseat of Alex’s car, the quiet lanes of National City paradoxical to the tightness in your chest. The bridge of your nose is freezing as the car takes a swift turn in downtown Chicago, your breathe frosting over the screen of the window.
“Should I drop you at Mike’s?” Alex asks you looking at the rear mirror. But it’s more than that.
“It’s a no, I take it?” Alex answers for you. Her hand clamps over the wheel, pallid.
“Since you are not answering any Mike related questions - what happened today there?” She demands calmly. “You can answer me that right, at least?” You don’t know how to answer to that. You don’t think you can.
Maggie doesn’t say anything either, just clears her throat resounding and shuffling again at her seat.
Alex doesn’t bulge. You see Maggie run a hand over Alex’s.
“You are not the only one who loves her, Kara.” Alex spits in the dampening silence of the car. “Just because you don’t have the guts to see what has been in front of you all this time doesn’t mean we don’t either. Just because you are scared of – “
“Shut up, Alex or I’ll swear to God –“ You clamor behind your glass, collapsing back on your seat.
“I didn’t even know she had flown from Metropolis until Jess called me. She just goes so quiet around this time, so I went over with some food and she was apparently having this party, weed and bottles everywhere – drunk and making out half dressed with some girl – “
“Kara – “
Your nose is red, the muscles in your chin trembling. “God Alex, I was so so fucking angry. I pulled her from that girl and we – we fought Alex. We fought about everything and I told her how much I hated her for what she was becoming and she told me maybe it was time I left and – I did.”
“You came back.” Maggie slithers in the gap and loves backseat to hug you. “You saved her Little Danvers.”
You weren’t fast enough though.
You know the street. You are almost around your block.
“Just drop me at my apartment.” You say fast enough before Alex can suggest theirs.
“Kara.” Alex still says. That silent plead in her voice – that whine she makes in her undertones when she’s displeased. She’s not your blood – never will be but blood is never thicker than the bonds you make with choices and promises.
You’ll always be her little sister no matter what.
You love her – them - but tonight you need a breather.
Eight months in the rehabilitation centre are the hardest for her.
The Rehabilitation Centre is in Michigan run by the somber and vigilant Mgann.
You had visited her three times a week. Sometimes more but never less. Some days had been hard – so hard that you wanted to scream at her but in those days you knew she was getting better.
Lena was paler. Red dark circles under her eyes and her lips were chapped like she has been biting them regularly. There’s a twitching in her fingers that comes and goes in waves but – but – you see a small glint in her greens that you haven’t seen in a long time.
“You are alright?” It’s that mundane question you would still ask her, even after 5 months here.
Her voice was thick and dry, slurry as if she’s closing to sleep.
She doesn’t say anything at first, just looks up at you in half lidded eyes, pearled teeth biting on her lower lip.
Lena nods to herself. “Sometimes I wonder when will that other shoe drop, when you’ll see I’m nothing more than the Luthor name – when you’ll realize maybe I’m not worth savi- “
You lean over the small table with a second thought, your palm coating tight over her lips just to stop her.
You nod your head in a “don’t do that” and she softens impeccably under your hand, her hot breath lingering over it.
A shallow cloud floods in front of your eyes because you know she almost died if Veronica hadn’t called you. Lena smiles sadly cradling your palm in between her hands. You can almost make out the boneless –ness of her bod.
“It’s fucking scary.” You look at her quizzically when she says. “How easier it’s getting for me to overcome this – this addiction because I know you’ll be there waiting for me at the other end.”
The vibration of your phone knocks your out of that memory. You are at your apartment, you have yet to still switch on the lights.
9 missed calls (Mike)
6 unread messages (Mike)
You sweep the screen aside almost intent on ignoring him. Just for today. You know he doesn’t deserve it, maybe that’s why the guilt pricks at your ribs.
She’s fine. I’m fine. Talk to you soon – is all you type and send him. You don’t know what else to say. You press a button and then you just turn off your phone.
It’s not even 5am when Eliza finds you in one of those waiting chairs.
You are tired to the bones but you just can’t sleep and when you close your eyes all in see is Lena. Lena – cold and numb.
You know are dreaming but Lena – she just keeps on saying “Let me go. Just let me go.”
And you just can’t.
You wonder if the bags underneath your eyes have worsened, the way Eliza looks at you.
She’s not Alura. She’s not your mother. She’ll never prod you to say something you don’t want to.
But still – she is your mother as much as you are her daughter.
“I just couldn’t sleep.”
Eliza nods meekly, and nudges you by the arm. You follow her until she stops at the grey darkness of Lena’s room.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to – she’s sleeping.” You squeeze out warier in your pajamas.
Eliza smiles, confirming. “She is sleeping.” Despite, she opens the door wide enough for you. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
You fist both of your hands as you enter as if, if you breathe too harsh the air around her will break.
You think she does look so immaculately small under the wires and the machines – you look at Eliza and she nods – and you pad softly towards her bed. You study the slow fall and rise of her chest – her closed eyes and her long black hair.
You sniffle hard, ghosting your hand over her open palm before you settle yours in her, your thumb grazing over the imprisoned veins jutting on her warm porcelain skin. You raise her arm, just high enough to press a sloppy wet kiss on it’s roof.
“You are alive.”
You end in one of the call rooms designated to Eliza.
“She calls me once every week – without fail and we talk, has done it since the first time you brought her home.” The first time was when you were in your sophomore year – when you had literally dragged Lena in your suitcase because she wasn't about to spend Christmas alone when she had you. You didn’t know this. Eliza nods, in shallow eyes.
You are not the only one who loves her, Kara. Alex’s words scream at you.
“Jeremiah would have loved her.” Eliza adds, in melancholic eyes and you don’t know what to say to that.
“I’ll wake you up.” She says standing at the threshold of the door, choking back words she wants to say.
After Jeremiah passed away, there was this immiscible distance between the two of you. It wasn’t repented anger – it’s wasn’t regret but it was all those unsaid words that you didn’t tell her or she never said back to you and they kept getting piled up that had made you always harder to breathe.
Your thank you for everything somehow meshes up in that long overdue I love you so much so that it stuns under in the empty hallway but never stops her from it either.
“I love you too, my little Kara.”
Lena’s first love was a Jack Spheer.
She’ll toy the bitter liquid in her flute and she’ll take another sip.
“Not love. My first time definitely. But I could have fallen in love with him though.”
She’s 15. And it’s her third school in three years.
And he’s 17 and her only friend. All lanky arms and chubby cheeks covered in dark beard and kind doe eyes.
“He didn’t hate me for my last name.” She will pause. “We were going to cure cancer.”
You’ll think she’ll start crying anytime soon but no tears come. Instead she’ll pour herself another glass.
New school year starts but Jack Spheer never comes back to school. Lena waits by his locker and a month passes.
She gets called in the headmaster’s office.
“He had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis a few years ago. It was only a matter of time.” He’ll say, sullen and emphatic. “Did you not know?”
“No.” Young naïve Lena would nod, eyes fluttering in nearly falling tears.
Jack would cough too often. He would have fever and Lena would ask always – if he was alright. He would always promise – “yes, you are here.”
“I didn’t even notice. Or maybe I wasn’t important enough to be told too.”
But you think maybe Jack didn’t want Lena to remember him like that – weak and dying in a white bed, in paper boats of dreams still in his hands
Her eyes dark as she will peer over the glass at you. Desolate. “First loves never last, do they?”