Words. Lena Luthor obsesses over other peoples’ words.
From the time a person is born, the small, black letters written on their wrist indicate the first words they’ll hear their soulmate speak.
Except Lena doesn’t have any letters. She has a painfully blank canvas on her wrist where there should have been a saying. A word. Something.
It’s the only thing Lillian likes about her. Or likes to point out about her, amongst not being a real Luthor or not being as smart as Lex. Not having a soulmate is a frequent point of conversation between them.
“I don’t need a soulmate,” Lena says every time it’s brought up. And she doesn’t. Her greatest love is learning. Why would she ever need anybody else? Why would she ever want anybody else?
Lena is pretty sure she doesn’t have a soulmate because it would be unethical to subject them to the Luthor family. They all have them, though. She’s glad she doesn’t have one. Really. She is.
“Who would love you?” Lillian sneers every time.
Harsh words that prove to be correct.
Lionel dies. Lex is in prison, and Lillian becomes crueler with every year that passes.
Lena’s blank wrists are another checkmate in Lillian’s books; as if their very lives are an entertaining game. Lena is good at chess — likes it — but she doesn’t always want to play. She is, however, resigned to a life of being toyed with. Lena knows it’s all she will ever have, and as horrible as it may be, Lillian’s sharp criticisms and condescension is better than nothing, isn’t it?
Words. Kara obsesses over her words.
Most people have some form of a greeting written on their wrist.
Eliza has ‘Doctor Danvers? Hi, it’s great to meet you.’
Alex has ‘I’m looking for my brother, James.’
Everyone has a few short words written at the bottom of their arm, but not Kara.
Kara can’t believe the spiel of words that takes up her entire arm.
Sure, some people have more words than others, but Kara has never, ever seen anybody who has an entire half-sleeve, starting from the crease of her elbow and ending at her wrist. Some of the words aren’t even in the dictionary, though Eliza assures Kara that her soulmate must be a scientist, based on the tattoo.
Kara’s soulmate also believes, in the future when they meet, that Kara is a new intern.
Kara isn’t sure how she feels about that. The thought of someone assuming she isn’t as smart as the writing on her arm kind of insults her, even if she doesn’t know all the words yet.
“At least we’ll know who they are right away! You could have something generic, like ‘excuse me.’ Kenny has ‘sorry’ on his wrist.” Alex does her best to make Kara feel better about having the largest soul mark in the known universe.
Kara knows she’s a rambler. She’ll talk with her hands and go on and on and on about anything and everything with very little control over it, and she worries that her soulmate’s tattoo might be even longer than her own. She’ll just have to wait and see.
Sometimes she worries over her soulmate’s mark, though.
Would they even have one?
Kara’s late. Gosh, she’s so late. She was supposed to be at the library an hour ago but her alarm didn’t go off and now she’s going to get fired. Or probably reprimanded. Or maybe Nia covered for her, but still! Kara is late to the only good job she’s ever had, where people don’t mind how quiet she is.
She can’t lose this job, not on her first week.
She rushes toward the library, or where she thought the library was. Moving to National City to be closer to Alex was a good idea, but on days like today when the concrete and glass of the buildings bleed together like some sort of shifting labyrinth, Kara doesn’t enjoy it so much.
Especially not with all the car horns and people chattering on their cellphones. Cigarette smoke burns her nose as someone longboards by her, and the smoke mixes with the food of the vendors lined along the street.
With the bright sun overhead, it’s too much. Too much noise, too many smells and sights and feelings, and Kara needs to escape it.
She pulls open the glass doors of the nearest building —a crisp white daroca stone one that towers above the rest—and she hopes nobody minds her borrowing the space to calm down.
The heat of the sun melts away to cool air that clings to her sweaty brow, the din of the city melting behind the door as it swings closed behind her.
Kara takes a few deep breaths before looking up, her eyes widening at the blue marble floors and the white fountain that’s sunken into the floor in the middle of the room.
Small ficus trees line the walls in grey, ceramic pots.
Its austerity is calming.
The receptionist at a monochrome silver desk raises an eyebrow and Kara waves, trying to convey she’s not a total weirdo.
She glances around the room and sighs in relief when she spots a shiny, silver plaque engraved in black letters and an arrow indicating the directions to the bathroom.
Kara adjusts her glasses before following the sign down a series of hallways — all a mirror image of the last with every turn she takes, but eventually, she pushes through the black door with a bathroom sign on it, locking it behind her.
She takes a few minutes to practice breathing before she goes to the white sink. It’s like a hotel bathroom almost, with another ficus in the corner, the white porcelain and silver chrome shining like it’s never been used.
Kara smiles as she washes her hands. The soap doesn’t smell like anything.
She pushes her glasses to the top of her head while she splashes cool water on her face, eager to get rid of the sweaty residue.
After drying off with a thick paper towel, Kara glances at her watch with a sigh.
She is late, but she can explain how she got lost, and try to avoid the mistake in the future. These things happen.
She nods at herself in the mirror before leaving the room, eager to try to find her way through the city again.
Only the inside of the building is just as maze-like, and Kara goes around in circles.
What’s weird is that even though the building is lovely —sleek and clean, nobody is in it.
Kara is in a maze of white walls and marble floors with never-ending ficus trees breaking up her twists and turns.
She rolls her eyes as she ducks into one of the black doors, intent to ask someone to help her escape.
She freezes and her eyes bulge as she enters a lab.
Like, a real, mad-scientist-esque lab filled with chrome robots that shine, immobile, on the surfaces of desks, varying glass vials on the surface of another.
Kara has half a mind to leave the room and continue her lost torment, but a woman in a white lab coat and a maroon three-piece suit underneath smiles at her as she sits up from behind a desk, dropping a screwdriver onto it.
Kara means to wave or introduce herself somehow. Really, she does, but the woman is so pretty, and as soon as her green eyes land on Kara, Kara’s mind goes blank.
“Oh, you must be my new intern. You’re early, though I suppose that’s not a bad thing since we have a lot of work to do. I just started testing the biological reactions of these DNA samples after I add in nanogenes. We’re only at a success rate of 73%, so we have a ways to go. Feel free to observe while I explain-”
She continues, and Kara ambles forward, helpless to the pull. She ambles between the few rows of lab tables until she’s close enough to read the name off of the woman’s lab coat.
Lena K. Luthor
Kara beams down at it as her heart thunders in her chest.
It feels exactly like she thought it would. Her palms are sweaty, and this woman rambles on and on about nanogenes and technology that could change the future.
Her green eyes sparkle with passion as she talks about her work, and already, Kara wants to get lost in them.
Kara’s breath comes in small pants, catching in her throat each time as she smiles at this beautiful, marvelous woman.
A woman whose words Kara has read over and over, words Kara doodled on top of when she was bored in class, read when she was sad, thought about to remind herself that there was someone, somewhere, waiting to be loved by her.
Lena’s jaw is sharp, like her mind, Kara’s sure. Her hair is pulled back into a high ponytail as she gestures to the microscope in front of her. Kara wants to reach out and touch her, hold her, explain who she is and how she got there.
Lena freezes when she turns back toward Kara, surprised by the proximity, and she raises her eyebrows at the closeness before they pinch in concern.
Tears have gathered in Kara’s eyes and she wipes them away with a noiseless chuckle. She bites her lip, takes a deep breath, and rests her leather bag on the lab table before she unbuttons the sleeve of her navy blue oxford.
Words upon words are revealed and Lena glances at them in confusion before her eyes grow wide.
Lena looks at Kara’s forearm, her own words —to the exact punctuation—staring back at her.
She reaches up to touch them, goosebumps rising across Kara’s skin as cool fingers caress her tattooed flesh.
The sleeves of Lena's coat and suit rise as she cradles Kara's arm like a precious thing, rubbing her thumbs across the paragraphs with reverent disbelief.
This is when Kara’s heart breaks because where there should be something —some grand declaration of all the fierce love Kara carries in her heart—all Lena has is pale, blank skin.
Lena bites her lips as she inhales a shaky breath through her nose. Her eyes, lovely sea-green eyes, are red around the edges and her lashes wet as she lets a tear trickle down her face.
She didn’t think she had a soulmate, Kara realizes.
And maybe Kara can’t talk—hasn’t spoken a word in her life—but she has never needed words to get her point across.
Kara points to her mouth with her tattooed arm, shaking her head when Lena looks up.
Lena’s shoulders ease in understanding, and she takes a breath so full it’s like the first time she’s ever breathed.
Kara bites her lips as she opens her arms, slow and tender as she brushes her hands across the white lab coat around Lena’s shoulders, pulling her into a hug that starts gentle but gets firmer the more Lena clings to her.
Kara rests her head on the side of Lena’s, sure that the steady pressure of her hug is saying everything for her.
It says, “I am here now.
I’m sorry it took this long.
I care about you so much.
And I am not going anywhere.”