Percy Everett was dressed in his favourite light blue suit, white shirt patterned with small blue ducks, and dark blue bow-tie. His wife had gifted him the suit and the silver chained pocket watch currently tucked into his waistcoat for his fifty-fifth birthday last year.
It was late Friday morning and he had spent the early part of the day catching up on a few clinical articles that had caught his interest at one of his favourite cafes located in the very heart of National City. His wife worked part time at their local library and was picking up the grandkids for a walk around the park where he hoped to meet them after his appointment with his new patient.
Percy was semi-retired (his wife would argue that he would never retire, he loved his job too much), he maintained a small list of patients he had been treating for years that he didn’t feel comfortable handing over to another doctor when he started to lighten his workload. He also wasn’t actively seeking new patients but never turned away someone who wished to see him. For new patients, Percy would support them through the early stages, and if appropriate, would direct them to another doctor who could look after them on a more long-term basis.
His office was located on a quiet road, a couple of streets away from his coffee shop, only one street away from the National City Park and was on the border of the business sector of the city. The location was simply perfect for all his needs and for bringing in a wide range of patients from high-flying executives to young university students. It was this second aspect that Percy was so thankful for, he loved how varied the people he encountered were and that no day was ever quite the same because of it.
The surprisingly warm, autumnal sun encouraged Percy to stretch his legs and walk the distance to his office, silver handled cane and black briefcase in hand. The street his office was located on was lined with trees, their leaves turning a wonderful copper and gold colour. His office was on the second floor of a three storey red-brick building, the ground floor belonging to a quaint bookstore in which Percy had spent a large portion of his time and money over the years becoming close friends with the owner Ahmed, on the second floor was a small legal office that was being run by a kind-hearted father and son duo.
Percy took the stairs slowly, no longer as eager to run up them as he was custom to do when he first opened his practice twenty-odd years ago. Outside the simple wooden door that had a plain unassuming plaque with his name on was a small square waiting area with a couple of comfortable green sofas and some rather outdated magazines that Percy consistently forget to replace with more recent iterations.
Being five minutes or so early, Percy headed straight to his office door, pulling out his keys to unlock it when he caught a glimpse of pastel pink out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head to see a pair of dim blue eyes behind a thick pair of glasses watching him curiously.
A young woman was sat, utterly still and stiff on the edge of the sofa that placed her as far into the corner of the waiting room as possible. She had blonde hair thrown into a low maintenance ponytail, wisps escaping here and there to irregularly frame her face. There were obvious crinkles around her eyes and at the corner of her lips which implied she was prone to smiling a lot more often than she was to frowning, which was surprising considering the blank expression and downturned mouth firmly in place at present. Her face was hollowed out around the cheeks and eyes, giving the impression that she wasn’t eating regularly or substantially. She was dressed in a pale pink dress and matching cardigan which merely made her seem even more unassuming and small.
“Hello, there.” Percy greeted, with a welcoming smile, taking only a half-step forward so as not to encroach on the woman’s space. “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting for too long?” Percy asked kindly, unlocking the door swiftly and pushing it open.
“Uh… no…” The young woman stuttered nervously, her gaze dropping to the floor as she very carefully stood up and crossed her arms around her body protectively. “I just got here really early…” She admitted, scrunching her nose up in embarrassment.
Percy nodded his head in understanding, before moving into his office and holding the door open for his new patient, “Please, come in.” Percy would have offered a handshake to the woman but the way she had tightly wrapped her arms around her own body as she passed him made it apparent that she wouldn’t accept the gesture. “My name is Dr. Everett.”
“I know…” The woman muttered shyly, lingering awkwardly in the middle of the room as she shifted her weight from foot to foot, “because you know… I booked the appointment with you. What I mean is… Kara… err… my name is Kara. Kara Danvers.”
“It’s nice to meet you Kara, please take a seat.” Percy smiled brightly at the endearing stammered out greeting as he gestured to the green sofa against one wall, “Make yourself comfortable.”
Kara eyed the sofa uncertainly, jerking a chin at it in confusion as she mumbled “Don’t you have those like ‘psychiatrist long chairs’?”
“No.” Percy chuckled as he picked up a pitcher of water and placed it on the coffee table in front of the sofa before settling into the green armchair opposite, “Will the sofa do?”
“Yeah, yes.” Kara quickly reassured, gingerly taking a seat. “It’s a… comfy.” She complimented even though she was sat yet again on the very edge of the cushion and Percy wouldn’t have been surprised if she was trying desperately not to put any weight on it.
“Would you like some tea or some water?” Percy offered, indicating the water jug on the table and a kettle stored in the corner behind his wooden desk on the other side of the room.
“Err… no. I’m fine.” Kara shook her head, her hands dropping to rest in her lap. “So how do these things work?” She inquired, keeping her eyes trained on her fidgeting hands.
Percy pursed his lips and considered his answer, trying to work out the best wording to reassure the clearly nervous patient with the very little he knew of her.
Deciding to be direct, but keeping a soft tone he replied, “I try to treat the first session like any other doctor’s appointment. It gives people a format their familiar with. So you might tell me what is troubling you the same way you would mention a rash or a muscle ache.” Percy explained, finally causing intelligent blue eyes to look up and meet his; capitalising on his patient’s interest he continued with the same tone. “We would talk through when you first noticed it, what exacerbates it, what makes it better and so on and so forth. I find it helps new patients realise that mental ailments are just as real as the physical. The treatment is different but you wouldn’t treat a cut the same way you would a runny nose.” Percy fell silent, studying Kara’s reaction for any sign of discomfort at this approach. “Does that help?”
Kara’s brow furrowed as she thought over what he said before nodding firmly and saying, “Yes.”
Pleased with the response, Percy reached into his black leather bag which he’d been carrying with him and pulled out a notepad and pen. “Are you comfortable with me taking notes?” Again Kara didn’t respond immediately, taking time to think over her answer before nodding. “So…” Percy began, crossing his legs as he settled further into his chair, “what brings you to see me today?”
“I promised someone I would.” Kara stated simply.
“Someone suggested therapy to you?” Percy prompted gently.
“Do you think therapy would help you?” Percy questioned, wanting to check if Kara was being pressured to attend these sessions rather than doing it for her own benefit.
“Yes…”, Kara affirmed, a crease simultaneously appearing on her forehead to pre-empt the ‘but’ she was on the precipice of voicing. “But I don’t think that there is anyone suitably equipped to handle a case like mine.”
Percy was not shocked by such an answer, he had heard it all over the years and it took a lot to surprise him, he had definitely had patients who believed they were beyond help numerous times. “And what makes you think that?”
“I'm not like other people…” Kara whispered, her eyes sliding shut in what Percy interpreted to be shame. “My problems aren’t as straightforward as you may think.”
Percy tapped his pen thoughtfully against his pad of paper as he constructed and refined the argument he had used a number of times previously when faced with a patient with this line of thinking.
“There's no such thing as a straightforward problem because there is no such thing as a straightforward person.” Percy rationalised with small smile, “It's one of the many wonders of being alive. Experience, personality, likes, dislikes… We are all different in so many small, seemingly insignificant ways which shape us into utterly unique beings.” Kara opened her eyes and tilted her head as she listened keenly to him. “No case, or person, are ever identical. It's what keeps this job interesting.” Percy admitted with a wave of his hand as if to lay out the various patients he had treated over his time in front of Kara. “But…”, Percy held up his index finger, to emphasise the counter argument he was about to state. “I will say it is the shared, hidden away similarities that always take me by surprise. Everyone is different, but we all have more in common than we may think.”
“I don't think you'll find many people who've had similar experiences to me…” Kara confessed quietly, her fingers stopping in their fidgeting to interlace instead and prevent movement.
“What makes you so sure of that?”
“Two reasons.” Kara declared, the shadows of her face darkening all of a sudden.
“And they are?” Percy inquired, pen poised and ready to detail Kara’s expressions and answer.
“Well, first…” Kara sighed before lifting her chin and staring at Percy defiantly, something strong and unbreakable flashing in the young woman’s eyes for the first time. “I’m in love with Lena Luthor.”
“Oh.” Percy uttered, unable to prevent the single syllable from slipping out.
“You know what I’ve realised?” Kara barked out a short, cruel laugh which made something unpleasant curl in the pit of Percy’s stomach. It was a harsh laugh that did not seem even remotely suited to the timid woman before him. “People only ever say ‘Oh’ in response to someone’s name out of pity or fear.”
“I don’t fear Miss. Luthor.” Percy reassured.
Kara’s eyebrow twitched and he knew she’d registered the fact that he didn’t deny the other option she’d suggested. “Everyone used to,” Kara bluntly remarked, “no one does anymore. Not after.”
“Are you in a relationship with Miss. Luthor?” Percy asked, wanting to shift the focus back to his patient.
“Ye-”, Kara started, however her voice cut out before she could finish the affirmative. “I don’t know.” She admitted softly, her tone turning wistful as, for the first time since Percy met her, he saw her blue eyes brighten. “We… were best friends, who realised on a day that was just like any other that we didn’t just love each other but we were in love with each other.” The corner of her mouth upticked into a self-deprecating smile. “You know, this probably won’t shock you but I’m kind of a hopeless romantic…”
Percy reflected on this, remembering the crinkles he'd noticed earlier, her obvious inclination towards light colours and the way her eyes had lit up the moment she started speaking about Lena. It was all surface level judgements and Percy endeavoured to avoid these in his work but there was something about this young woman which made him believe she was the type to coo over couples and sweet gestures.
“It does not surprise me.” Percy eventually admitted.
“I’ve always wanted a love that lasts.” Kara continued. “That endures and strengthens with time… and I…” She cleared her throat, her eyes sheening up with moisture as her hands turned white knuckled in her lap. “I finally found it. Finally found the one.”
A genuine smile blossomed on her face, and it was as if all the colour and life flooded back into her. Her hair seemed to shine gold in fleeting flashes of light, her skin blushed with colour and her eyes seemed to actually twinkle. Any doubts about her earnest declaration of love for Lena Luthor vanished in that moment, she encapsulated the same joy he felt whenever he spoke about his wife.
“The one that makes me think that a lifetime together still won't be long enough to spend with them.” She whispered reverently. “The one that makes even the worst days better, you know?” Percy nodded in understanding, a similar smile growing on his face as an image of his wife grew in his mind. “What’s embarrassing is that…” Kara shook her head disdainfully. “It was right in front of me for years and I never… Years of wasted opportunities.”
The light faded and the shadows returned as Kara recollected years of missing out on true love. Percy’s heart went out to her and he jotted down a few ideas that could help her accept this loss and appreciate the time moving forward.
“We went on one date, before…” Kara’s voice cracked and she swallowed thickly to abate a building sob. “It was the date that you knew you would be telling your grandkids about. It was the date I’d been waiting my whole life for.”
Percy cautiously murmured, hoping to inspire some hope back into this woman who was so clearly suffering, “Love is one of the greatest shared experiences there is. I can understand why you might need some support considering recent events but this is not a situation no one else has struggled with before. Therapy can help.” Percy leant forward, clapping his hands together, feeling confident that he could help Kara return to her previous outlook and support her during these trying times in her relationship. “So, that’s the first reason. What was the second one?”
Kara frowned, her fingers twitching as she lifted her chin and said in a flat monotone, “I’m Supergirl.”
8 Weeks Earlier
“It was minor flooding.” Lena corrected haughtily.
“Minor?” Kara scoffed in disbelief, waving the empty box of her Chinese food around as she gesticulated wildly. “You literally just said people were boogie-boarding down the corridors…”
Lena tutted and rolled her eyes, derisively commenting, “Ugh… You sound just like the Dean.”
Kara merely laughed at her response, joyfully imagining her best friend scornfully staring down the Dean of MIT following the fallout of her experiment gone wrong.
Kara loved her regular lunch catch ups with Lena, which were more or less a daily occurrence as long as there were no Supergirl activities that dragged her away. They had been best friends for years now, their friendship growing stronger rather than weaker when Kara finally worked up the courage to tell Lena that she was Supergirl following the Daxamite invasion. Unsurprisingly, the woman with one of the highest IQs in the world had figured out who Kara really was during their very first meeting.
Lena did eventually admit, on a quiet night when the two of them were alone in Kara’s apartment, that she had feared Kara had not told her the truth for so long because of her name. Kara, heartbroken by this thought, was quick to reassure that her name had nothing to do with it. It was her desire to protect Lena from Supergirl’s enemies that had caused her to keep the truth hidden for so long. Lena had accepted this and cuddled closer to Kara on the couch causing Kara’s heart to flutter and repair itself in an instant.
Over time Lena became a key member of the Superfriends, helping design and craft numerous pieces of technology that aided Supergirl in her many fights. It quickly became expected and customary for Lena to takeover a particular lab at the DEO whenever Supergirl was up against an exceptionally tough enemy.
Kara was pleased that Lena’s involvement with the Supergirl team meant they saw so much more of each other, but she always preferred their time together when she was dressed as Kara Danvers.
Lena’s relationship with her two personas was different, which was something Kara always struggled with reconciling.
With Supergirl, Lena was respectful and professional, less prone to initiating physical contact, though Kara would often catch Lena observing her from afar more often than she did as Kara Danvers.
With Kara Danvers, on the other hand, Lena was looser, more informal, more prone to anecdotes rather than acerbic wit and constantly reaching out to make contact in some way.
“I wish I’d known you when you were in college.” Kara confessed once her laughter had steadily died down and Lena’s faux-harsh gaze had vanished to be replaced by something softer, an expression Kara had come to realise was solely reserved for herself. Kara quirked her head to the side thoughtfully, absorbing the warmth of the green eyes staring back at her, and decided to amend her previous statement. “Actually, I just wish we’d known each other when we were kids.”
It was strange to think that she had only known Lena for four years. Lena was such a big part of her life now that it felt like she had been a staple of it from the very beginning. Kara couldn’t imagine her life without Lena in it anymore (not that she would ever want to) and she always experienced a degree of whiplash when she remembered events in her life that Lena wasn’t apart of.
“I would have liked that.” Lena confessed in a quiet voice, the corner of her mouth down-turning for a fraction of a second; Kara immediately recognised the facial tic to mean Lena was remembering parts of her childhood that were better forgotten. With a slight shake of her head, Lena’s eyes brightened and she reached out to interlace her fingers with Kara’s free hand. “I would have followed you around like a lost puppy…” Lena confessed, shrugging shyly as she added, “Well, like a sullen, sulking puppy who thought chess grandmasters were rockstars.”
“You still think chess grandmasters are rockstars.” Kara pointed out with a smirk, squeezing Lena’s hand in her own.
“That I do.” Lena murmured, arching a seductive eyebrow as if daring Kara to disagree with her. “Having a friend like you when I was younger…” Lena hesitated for a moment, her gaze scanning Kara’s face intently, always looking for that flicker of trust and support which Kara always hoped shone through her expression, before whispering shyly, “It would have meant the world to me… still does.”
Kara’s heart instantly performed a somersault and skipped a beat simultaneously at the sheer sincerity of Lena’s words and the way Lena was staring at her so openly and vulnerable. Without even realising it, Kara began to lean forward, the soft plea that she had been holding back for a while now beginning to tumble unchecked from her mouth, “Lena, I-”
Kara and Lena jolted in their respective spots on the couch at the sound. Kara had let herself believe, just for a second, that Lena may have been leaning forward to meet her. However, the abrupt disruption followed by the way Lena was focusing on straightening her clothes as she stood up and avoiding eye contact with Kara, implied otherwise.
“Miss. Luthor, your two o’clock meeting is here.” Jess called out, poking her head through the now ajar door to Lena’s office.
“Thank you, Jess.” Lena replied; Jess nodded, retreating backwards and closing the door respectfully behind herself. Kara speedily cleaned up the remaining containers of their lunch and straightened up the couch ahead of Lena’s next appointment arriving.
“That’s my cue.” Kara announced, eagerly sweeping Lena up into a tight farewell hug.
“Thank you for lunch.” Lena murmured, resting her chin on Kara’s shoulder as her arms wrapped around Kara’s waist keeping them pressed together far longer and closer than Kara hugged anyone else (not that she was complaining).
“My pleasure.” Kara whispered back, unable to stop the plummeting disappointment feeling in the pit of her stomach that always came with Lena stepping back and out of her arms. She schooled her features and gave Lena her best beaming smile as she turned and made her way to the door.
The feeling of disappointment merely grew the further she moved away from Lena. Kara’s hand had just settled on the door handle when she forced herself to take a deep breath and channel her courage.
“Umm…” Kara stuttered, whirling back around and, though Lena’s expression didn’t flicker with surprise, Kara heard the audible uptick in her heart rate which gave her away. “Would you… er... be interested in dinner, later?” Kara offered, her palms sweaty, her tongue feeling thick in her mouth and her mind trying to rationalise that it was pretty normal for the two of them to get dinner together at least twice a week so she shouldn’t be panicking.
Today, however, was different.
Today, Kara was going to be brave.
Today, she was going tell Lena how she felt because she didn’t know how many more lunches she could take without kissing her best friend anymore.
“Uh… yes.” Lena agreed, tilting her head in surprise as she obviously analysed Kara’s anxious behaviour.
“Cool.” Kara affirmed, shooting finger guns at Lena which only resulted in Lena’s brow furrowing further. “Um… if I swing back and pick you up at six?”
Lena shook her head in amusement, clearly deciding that Kara’s behaviour was in character (Kara didn’t know whether to be pleased with this or not). “Sure. Looking forward to it.” Lena flashed a smile that always made Kara’s steel knees feel like they may buckle.
Kara finished up her most recent article which was an investigative piece following National City’s Police Department’s attempts to catch those responsible for a string of robberies at electronic stores across the city. There had been five robberies so far and Kara was on the edge of bringing Supergirl in to help but Alex had enforced to Kara that the police had to handle some cases on their own as they wouldn’t appreciate Supergirl stepping in to takeover without obvious need.
Kara arrived at Lena’s office ten minutes earlier and Jess informed her that Lena was still in a meeting but would be finished any minute now. Happy to wait, Kara pulled out her phone and replied to a few messages from Alex, Brainy and Kelly. She was halfway through typing a message to Brainy, trying to explain what bowling was and how it works ahead of his date with Nia at the weekend, when the door to Lena’s office opened and out strolled a woman who could have just come off the catwalk.
She was slightly taller than Kara, with dark hair, big brown eyes, sharp make-up, and was dressed in a designer, tight fitting and bold purple dress that instantly made Kara feel like her slightly worn yellow sundress should have been retired before it had even been made. The woman smiled pleasantly at Kara and politely said farewell to Jess, wishing her the best before practically gliding to the elevator.
Kara watched the woman disappear from sight behind the closing elevator doors. She slowly looked back at Jess.
“I know, right?” Jess muttered understandingly, as she stood up from her desk and began packing away her belongings for the end of the day.
The woman wasn’t the prettiest woman Kara had ever seen (that spot was solely held and dedicated to one Lena Luthor), but she did make Kara want to fly home and spend at least three hours on her appearance in the hopes of matching her stunningness so as to avoid direct comparison in Lena’s eyes between the two of them.
Slightly rattled, and feeling significantly less confident, Kara lifted her chin and headed into Lena’s office.
Lena was sat at her desk, focusing intensely on her computer screen, her fingers flying across the keyboard. Next to her computer were two photographs where a couple years ago there had been none. One featured Lena at the local bar surrounded by the Superfriends for a memorable (or un-memorable depending on the level of alcohol intake) St. Patrick’s Day. The second photograph, slightly larger than the other one, was of just her and Kara, cuddled up together on the sofa (Alex had snapped it one night whilst the two of them were distracted, most likely by each other). What caught Kara’s attention, however, was the new edition to Lena’s desk: a decadent bouquet of pink lilies.
Kara, considerately, moved quietly into the room so as not to disturb Lena from whatever task she was dedicated to completing. With a decisive ‘tap-tap-tap’, Lena finished her work and looked up to see Kara waiting patiently.
“Kara, you’re here.” Immediately Lena’s face lit up and Kara experienced that now familiar swooping sensation in the pit of her stomach. “Just one minute, I need to tidy up.”
“Nice flowers…”, Kara acknowledged stiffly, approaching the desk as Lena shut down her computer.
“Oh those…” Lena replied, giving them a fond glance and small smile that made Kara slightly nauseous. “Miss Shaw gave them to me as a thank you.” Lena explained, “L-Corp is providing funding and support to her charity. We’re putting on summer work experiences for disadvantaged students interested in STEM subjects.”
A rush of relief cooled the simmering jealousy and replaced it with the usual pride whenever Lena revealed her kind heart. “That’s wonderful, Lena.” Kara praised, earning a humble shrug from Lena before she returned to straightening her desk. Kara, now appreciative of the flowers as a symbol of someone else recognising Lena’s good work, inspected them closer and caught sight of a pristine, high quality white card amongst the stems. Kara reached out and picked it up, delighted to read the words of gratitude that were well-earned by her best-friend.
Thank you, Lena, for all your support. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you. Call me xxx
“She… left her phone number…”, Kara muttered, bypassing nauseous to feeling full on sick. She blinked rapidly, feeling her eyes start to heat up, the card in her hand warming up unnaturally. The fire died down and she took a couple of deep breaths, aware that her strength had shifted to super.
“Oh, well… she asked me out so that’s not overly surprising.” Lena replied disinterestedly, swinging her heavy handbag onto her shoulder and decisively turning off the lamp on her desk, oblivious to Kara’s momentary loss of control.
“What?” Kara asked, her voice far higher pitched than normal.
“Hmm…”, Lena prompted distractedly, stashing her phone into her pocket before walking round the desk to join Kara.
“Did… what did you say?” Kara inquired, swallowing thickly as Lena plucked the white card out from her fingers and threw it carelessly onto the desk. Kara’s eyes followed the path of the card, her mouth struggling to form a coherent sentence, “I mean you don’t… you’re not interested in… you know...” Kara shrugged lamely, fidgeting nervously as Lena stared at her looking utterly perplexed.
“I’ve dated my fair share of women, Kara.” Lena stated in a tone that would make you think Kara had said she didn’t know what two plus two was.
“Yes, I thought you knew that.” Lena pursed her lips thoughtfully. “I figured you looked up my past when you did your interview.”
“Yeah, your academic and professional history… not personal …” Kara winced at the clear emphasis she had placed on ‘personal’ and the implications of doing so. “We were becoming friends. I wanted you to tell me about you.” Kara justified, a crease appearing on her forehead as she asked, “How come you never told me in the years since?”
“Between running L-Corp and CatCo, I haven’t had time to date, so there’s been no reason to bring it up.” Lena honestly remarked, her gaze dropping to the floor as she added awkwardly, “And, also… We don’t talk about our relationships.”
“We don’t?” Kara repeated in shock, though she had to admit that she couldn’t think of a single time where they had talked about their romantic relationships. She remembered making vague references to Mon-El during the early parts of her relationship with him, but it always made her feel exceedingly uncomfortable so she stopped doing even that after only a couple of weeks.
“No.” Lena declared resolutely, not needing to even ponder her answer.
“Why is that?” Kara questioned.
“It’s not the sort of friendship we have.” Lena replied, her voice and expression extremely neutral, even her heartbeat was giving nothing away.
“Right.” Kara muttered, shaking her head dismally.
“We should get going.” Lena said softly, gently taking Kara’s hand in her own in an attempt to sweep away the heavy thoughts clouding Kara’s mind.
“Yeah…” Kara agreed, flashing Lena a smile and squeezing her hand back in return.
They headed out of the office hand in hand, Kara still feeling unsteady following the recent revelations but supported by the comfort of Lena’s touch.
As they waited for the elevator, Kara licked her lips and gently murmured, “Lena?”
“Hmm…”, Lena hummed, arching an inquisitive eyebrow as she glanced over at Kara who was shifting her weight from foot to foot.
“What did you say to her? About the date?” Kara asked in a rush.
Lena blinked in surprise as the elevator dinged loudly and the doors slid open. Lena turned away from Kara rolled one shoulder in a carefree shrug and announced calmly, “I told her I already had plans for dinner tonight.”
“Supergirl?” Percy repeated, raising a curious eyebrow at the woman sat before him.
“Yeah.” Kara mumbled, fiddling with her glasses as she shrugged helplessly. “See... I told you I wouldn’t be like any other patient…”
Percy pursed his lips together thoughtfully, tapping his pen against the edge of his notepad before revealing with a neutral tone of voice. “Actually, I’ve treated a number of superheroes in my time.”
“Really?!” Kara squeaked in disbelief her blue eyes coming to life for a few moments before she cringed upon realising what Percy had really meant. Kara pointed awkwardly to her head and frowned, “Oh, wait… you mean…”, she then clicked her fingers together to punctuate her next words, “I get you.”
Percy resisted the smile that wanted to take over his face, enjoying the expressiveness of his new patient and the glimmer of a wonderful personality beneath whatever heavy thoughts were weighing it down and obscuring it.
“How long do you believe you’ve been Supergirl for?” Percy inquired gently.
“Believe, huh?” Kara huffed, shaking her head and staring off to one side. “I can’t really blame you for not taking my word for it…”, she muttered though she looked considerably disheartened. “I would show you but uh…” she shrugged, smiling self-deprecatingly, “it would appear my powers aren’t quite under control anymore after everything that happened… and I don’t...” Kara’s voice faded out, though it didn’t seem possible, she appeared to sink even further into herself, that flicker of life and colour vanishing to such a degree, Percy wondered if he had imagined the flash of it he had seen a few seconds earlier.
“Trust yourself?” Percy suggested when it became clear Kara’s words had deserted her.
Kara nodded once, her gaze fixed yet again on the tightly clasped and still hands in her lap.
Percy cleared his throat, shifting forward in his seat as he started slowly, “Survivor’s guilt-”
“This is not survivor's guilt.” Kara snapped, her head jerking upright to reveal her top lip curled into an angry snarl.
Percy didn’t flinch back from the fury because he could tell it wasn’t directed at him. He had treated more than his fair share of patients to be able to tell when a patient’s hatred was aimed at him or, as in this case, themselves.
“This is just… guilt.” Kara clarified, the muscles in her jaw twitching as she ground her teeth together in a desperate attempt to regain control of her emotions.
Percy nodded in acceptance, deciding to leave the issue for now until he had set the appropriate groundwork to approach it again. “Kara-” He began only to be cut off almost instantly again.
“Zor-El.” Kara announced, straightening up in her seat, her shoulders pushed back and her chin rising up in defiance. “My real name is Kara Zor-El.” Kara took a deep breath and reached up to pull her hair out of it’s pony tail and remove her glasses with two quick and decisive movements. “I just thought… if I’m being honest, I might as well go all the way.”
Percy leaned back in his armchair to fully appreciate the transformation that had taken place in front of him. Though Percy knew she was still the same woman, the hair down and loss of glasses may have changed the description people would have given of her if they saw her in passing, it wasn’t those obvious changes that managed to make her seem like a completely different person.
It was the fact that her entire stature had changed. She suddenly seemed taller, occupying more of the space in the room, her pastel pink coloured dressed seemed bolder, her posture more composed and her demeanour more authoritative. Her features were sharper and her gaze far more assessing.
She was no longer hiding in the shadows.
She now stood out.
“I would have worn the super-suit as evidence but I… I can’t bring myself to wear it anymore.” Kara confessed.
“You do look…”, Percy found himself starting to admit without forethought, only managing to stop just before finishing his sentence and preventing himself from indulging in her delusion.
“Do you know why I chose you?” Kara inquired, tilting her head to the side, her blue eyes (now free of her glasses) appearing sharper and far more observant than the thick lenses would lead you to believe.
“Recommendation, it's how I get most of my clients.” Percy guessed.
He didn’t advertise and didn’t chase after patients, he had a few good friends who were in general practice that would suggest him if they found a patient that could do with Percy’s soft spoken and attentive personality with regards to their therapist. For the most part, though, his past and current patients were his main source of new patients. Percy hoped he was good at his job but truly believed that his patients should be the ones to decide. If they thought he had helped, there was a good chance they would pass his name onto someone else. It was the ultimate pat on the back and sign that he still had the ability to make a difference when a new patient walked through his door and told him that so-and-so suggested he might be able to help.
“In a way.” Kara agreed, her frown softening as she explained, “I saved your wife, a couple of years ago. She was trapped under some rubble during the Daxamite Invasion. I pulled her out and flew her to the hospital.”
Percy’s pen fell from his hand and clattered against his notepad, his eyes wide and mouth open in shock, “How did-”
“She was wearing a pink blazer, jeans and a white blouse. She had this bright, beetle shaped brooch which she said was her mother's.” Kara pointed to a spot on her right breast where Percy’s wife Annie always wore the exact brooch that Kara had described. “All the way to the hospital… she asked me how I was and if I was doing okay.” Kara eyes scrunched up and her expression turned fond as she cast her mind back over the memories she was describing. “The world seemed to be coming to an end, she was badly hurt and she just wanted to make sure the girl of steel was alright. She took one look at me and knew I wasn’t. Knew I was struggling.”
Kara’s voice cracked and Percy’s heart went out to her.
With a determined shake of her head to rid herself of whatever thoughts were clouding her mind, she looked Percy straight in the eye and finished telling him the story his wife had told him after he had rushed to her side in the hospital two years ago. “She told me that her husband was a good listener and could help me. She gave me your number. I never thought I would call… but… well, here I am.”
Kara opened up the small handbag she’d placed next to her on the sofa, and pulled out a worn, wrinkled and slightly off-colour shred of paper. Timidly, Kara leaned forward to offer it to Percy, who hesitatingly reached out and accepted it.
There in his wife’s familiar scrawled handwriting was his name and phone number.
“How… you’re… you’re her.” Percy murmured in disbelief. “You’re really her .”
“Yup.” Kara sighed, “Still think you’ve treated patients like me before?”
“Percy? You’re here early.” Annie remarked in surprise, smiling brightly as her husband slid into the empty spot on the bench next to her.
“Yeah.” Percy agreed, kissing her quickly yet tenderly on the cheek in greeting, purposefully choosing not to expand on his sudden appearance. “How are you? Good day?”
Annie pursed her lips, studying her husband closely, trying to figure out what might have happened. His clothes were still pristine (Percy took great pride in his suits and appearance), he didn’t seem overly tired and his complexion was the same as usual. Annie ruled out anything particularly bad having happened and the suggestion that he was feeling unwell. The only thing off about him was the slightly dazed and distracted gleam to his eyes and the almost imperceptible fidgeting he only ever did when faced with a particularly challenging patient.
“Really good.” Annie replied, deciding to give Percy some time to think and enjoy the calmness of the park. “Jen and Pete fed the ducks and now they’re on the swings.” Annie pointed out their grandson and granddaughter who were taking it in turns to push each other.
Percy nodded, his gaze fixed on Jen, who was excitedly bouncing up and down on the swing as her favourite red supergirl cape billowed out behind her. Percy’s expression was somewhat glazed and Annie wondered how much of the sight before him he was actually taking in.
“How was your day?” Annie eventually asked after a quiet few minutes, gently coaxing her husband out of his revery.
“Hmm…” Percy hummed, not taking in Annie’s question even remotely.
“Percy?” Annie prompted.
“Huh? Yes?” Percy spluttered finally pulled away from his thoughts; he turned to Annie, his face blushing with guilt at having accidentally ignored his wife.
Annie reached out and took Percy’s hand, squeezing it reassuringly. “How was the new patient?”
Percy’s expression immediately became troubled, “Different”, he declared before hanging his head in shame, “I’m… I’m not sure I’m capable enough for this one.”
“Have they done bad things?” Annie murmured, knowing Percy always struggled with cases where his patients’ morals eschewed significantly from his own, though you wouldn’t know it. Percy treated all his patients the same, they got his best and he always tried to help them in whatever way he could.
“No… yes… no…” Percy indecisively replied, biting at the inside of his cheek in a habit that he hadn’t partaken in for years. Annie used her free hand to press against Percy’s chest, encouraging him to take a deep breath. He instantly complied with the non-verbal suggestion and once he’d done so his voice came out stronger and more certain. “No… she’s a good person…”
Annie nodded in understanding, even though she was still struggling to work out what it could be about this new patient that could have thrown her usually confident husband so off his game. “Do you know of a better equipped Doctor to recommend her to?”
Percy considered the question, his gaze moving away from Annie to settle on Jen. “No.”
“She chose you for a reason.” Annie stated, “I’m sure it was a good one.”
“You have no idea.” Percy replied, a mocking tone to his voice.
Annie raised an eyebrow at that but decided to shrug it off and simply say, “You can help her.”
Percy turned back to squint at his wife with an assessing stare, “How can you be so sure?”
Annie smiled widely, leaning forward to kiss her husband’s forehead affectionately, “Because I love you and you may not know what you’re capable of but I do.” Percy huffed a breath in half-hearted disagreement at her estimate of his capabilities but he was steadily straightening back up and rather than drowning in a spiral of thoughts, he appeared slightly more hopeful. “You help people, and you can help her.” Annie finished, absolutely no doubt in her mind regarding the truthfulness of her words.
8 Weeks Earlier
“Why isn’t it the sort of friendship we have?” Kara blurted out, unable to hold it in any longer.
Following what Kara considered to be a revelatory conversation in Lena’s office, the two of them had then had dinner together at a nearby Italian restaurant that they both liked (Kara because the portion sizes were almost Kryptonian appropriate and Lena because the food tasted far more authentic than most chain restaurants).
Kara was uncharacteristically subdued over dinner for a number of reasons: she was desperately trying to deduce exactly what ‘sort of friendship’ she shared with Lena, she was trying to get a handle on the jealousy still simmering below the surface while also, simultaneously, attempting to regather her courage and admit to holding romantic feelings towards her best friend.
In other words, Kara’s mind and emotions were overwrought, and the normal cheery facade was cracking and straining under the pressure, unable to bear it all.
Her answers to all of Lena’s kind and conversation-prompting questions were stilted and half-hearted at best. Her fidgeting had increased in conjunction with her anxiety that had ratcheted up significantly over the course of the evening.
By the time the bill came Lena had given up all attempts to engage Kara and was instead people-watching the other couples.
Silence wasn’t unusual between the two best friends, they had known each other for four years now, a large portion of conversation topics had been covered extensively and they also no longer needed sound to fill the space between them. Many evenings had been spent between the two quietly curled up on the sofa, one person watching television or reading a book whilst the other worked.
Kara had never liked silence but she found that she didn’t mind it so much with Lena.
Lena, who could communicate a whole wealth of emotions with a simple quirk of her eyebrow or light brush with her fingertips. Lena who made silence reflective and comforting as opposed to dark and heavy.
This time was different, there was no gentle touch or soft smile sent her way.
It was awkward and uncomfortable.
Exactly how it should never be with Lena.
And it was all Kara’s fault.
Contradictory worries, concerns and fears were clawing at her mind. Lena would ask about her day and only a single syllable would be produced in response. Fear of saying too much or too little disrupting what should be easy.
Lena paid for their food, waving off Kara’s attempts to pay instead with a light shrug and gentle smile. Lena seemed utterly unaffected by Kara’s less than sunny demeanour, she still looked at Kara with the exact same fondness and she acted the same way she would if Kara had responded to her every question with enthusiasm.
After dinner, Kara, as was custom, offered to fly Lena home. Lena gladly accepted and Kara swept her up into a bridal carry in the shadows of the restaurant, relishing the warmth and closeness this allowed her to share with Lena, who always tucked her head under Kara’s chin whilst placing one hand on the nape of Kara’s neck, her thumb stroking soothingly up and down.
The flight to Lena’s home was always far quicker than Kara would have liked and it was always with regret that Kara would steadily lower and release her friend down and onto the porch of Lena’s house.
Lena bid her farewell for the evening and turned to open her front door, her keys jingling in her hand, when the question spouted out of Kara’s mouth without any control.
“What?” Lena prompted in confusion, spinning back round to face Kara who was staring resolutely at the ground, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot.
“We… we talk about everything…” Kara stammered, wincing as she added, “I mean I know it took me a while to share my…” Kara glanced over her shoulder conspiratorially even though Lena’s neighbours were far away and the hedges and trees that surrounded her property prevented any onlookers, “ super … secret-”
“How does the entire planet not know who you really are?” Lena teased, stepping back off the porch and into Kara’s space, her presence as reassuring and comforting as it always is.
“Because I’m subtle.” Kara huffed defensively.
“Flew here on a bus, Kara…” Lena sing-songed with a smirk.
“Pfft… that’s not…” Kara shook her head and waved her hand weakly as she struggled to come up with a rebuttal. When no counter-argument made itself apparent, Kara pouted heavily, “How long are you going to keep bringing that up?”
“As long as I find it amusing…”, Lena affirmed, arching an eyebrow and flicking her hair elegantly over her shoulder, “so forever and ever…”
Kara rolled her eyes, and then suddenly realised with a jolt how far off-topic Lena had managed take the conversation. Despite the teasing and joking Kara noticed that Lena’s eyes were assessing in direct contrast to the playful smirk on her face. Lena was purposefully trying to avoid Kara’s question and it made Kara’s stomach twist and sink.
Was there something fundamentally wrong with their friendship?
If Lena wasn’t comfortable talking to her about one thing, then wasn’t there a good chance that there were many other things she wouldn’t talk about?
And if their friendship was flawed, if it meant less to Lena than it did to Kara… what chance was there that Lena would ever feel the same way as Kara did?
“ Anyway …” Kara said slowly, adjusting her glasses and puffing out her chest to pull on her Supergirl courage, “we talk about everything. You know about my family and… everything…”, Kara muttered the everything earnestly, “you know everything but-”
“Kara,” Lena cut in sharply, her arms crossing protectively over her chest, “I really don’t want to hear about your dating life.”
“Why not?” Kara inquired, more surprised by Lena’s fierce glare and harsh words than anything else, “I mean I’m not seeing anyone, I haven’t for…”, Kara’s brow furrowed as she tried to remember the last time she’d even went on a date and found herself unable to without going a long way back, “Wow… a long time now.”
“Kara, let’s just…”, Lena pleaded, shaking her head forlornly, “leave it for tonight-”
“What is it you’re not telling me?” Kara begged, her heart cracking at the potential damage to their friendship that she hadn’t even realised was there.
“Nothing.” Lena stated bluntly.
“You’re lying.” Kara exclaimed.
“I’m not.” Lena rebuked, her nostrils flaring.
“Yes, you are. I know your tell.” Kara revealed, gesturing wildly as she did so.
“I don’t have a tell.” Lena scoffed.
Kara pursed her lips together, and if she wasn’t being swept away with her tide of emotions she probably wouldn’t have said what she did next. “You flex your forefinger and your heart rate drops.”
Lena’s jaw went slack and her eyes wide, “You’re listening to my heart?”
“Uhh…” Kara stammered, cringing as she tried desperately to explain herself, “yeah, but not to… not as a lie detector. I…”, Kara cleared her throat and admitted quietly, “I find it soothing.”
“Kara…”, Lena’s voice was far softer than Kara had ever heard it before.
Feeling utterly undeserving of the tender tone, Kara pushed onward and repeated her question belligerently, staring determinedly into Lena’s green eyes, making it clear that she wanted an answer. “Why don’t we have that sort of friendship?”
“Because I don’t want it!” Lena yelled, whirling away from Kara, intent on storming back towards her house and away from this conversation. Kara only managed to stop her by catching her elbow with a gentle touch due to her enhanced speed.
Lena froze as Kara made contact; she didn’t turn back around but she didn’t make to leave again either.
Lena’s breath was coming out sharp and uncontrolled as if she was on the precipice of sobbing. Kara wanted to lightly tug the raven haired woman into a hug and whisper soothing phrases in her ear but she feared overwhelming Lena further, of making her feel trapped.
When Lena spoke next it was a halting whisper, her voice cracking slightly as she admitted, “I don’t want to hear about you falling in love with anyone but me .”
Every muscle, neuron and atom in Kara’s body came to a grinding halt.
She had imagined a moment like this with Lena more times than she cared to admit. In all of them, she was quick to react. She would swoop Lena up in her arms, spin her around and kiss her until they were both breathless.
Though she had fantasised about it, (practised it on occasion with a broom in her kitchen), Kara was in no way prepared.
“Lena… you…” Kara mumbled after a long pause, as she struggled to form a coherent thought let alone a coherent sentence, “you’re in love with me too?”
Lena inhaled sharply, as she carefully turned back around to face Kara. Her green eyes were watery but they were positively shining , not with pain as they presumably were a moment ago but with something that could only be described as hope, “Too?”
Kara’s thrumming heart settled in her chest, the beats switching away from fast and frantic to something strong and resounding. “Yeah, too.” Kara breathed, her hand slipping down from Lena’s elbow to brush against her palm, “I don’t want you to date anyone else either…” Kara responded sweetly, the smile that had bloomed onto her face twitching as she hurriedly added, “other than me, obviously.”
“How long?” Lena murmured shyly, her fingers hesitantly intertwining with Kara’s.
“Since… since ‘I’m just a woman trying to make a name for herself outside her family’.” Kara repeated the words verbatim, refraining from summarising the remark that had stuck with her from the first day she made Lena’s acquaintance. Those words had called out to something deep and hidden within herself, reverberating around for days after their initial meeting.
The same words would rear up every time Lena did something to live up to the promise inherent in her statement… which was every day. They shouted and screamed inside her head whenever someone would come along and view Lena as merely ‘Luthor’ and nothing else.
It was those words which had set Kara falling before she’d even realised it.
Kara blushed under Lena’s intense gaze, “You?”
Lena paused for a moment as a familiar smirk slipped into place, “Since ‘I flew here on a bus’.”
Something clicked into place inside Kara at that. In a flash she remembered the innumerable amount of times Lena had teased her about that, how many time Lena would light up whenever she repeated the story to the Superfriends or Eliza.
Kara had always secretly hated the story, it was the first time she had truly and openly lied to Lena. Had purposefully misled her. It always caused guilt to stab cruelly into her stomach.
But that wasn’t how Lena viewed it.
Lena had never been re-telling a funny story at Kara’s expense, instead she’d been retelling the first part of their unnecessarily long and epic love story.
“Do you want to go out for dinner?” Kara asked, unable to bear another second of waiting, of being just friends . She was already stepping closer, into Lena’s space, ready to sweep Lena up and fly her to whatever restaurant would take them.
“We just went out for dinner…”, Lena reminded her with a light chuckle.
“Oh, right…”, Kara deflated, before perking up, “um… tomorrow, then?” Kara blinked rapidly, practising the question in her head before saying it, because Lena deserved to be asked out properly, “Do you want to go out for dinner with me, tomorrow?”
“Just to confirm, this is a date, right?” Lena checked, squeezing Kara’s hand as she did so.
Kara, however, heard the rapid uptick of Lena’s heart rate which revealed just how scared of rejection the other woman was.
Kara tilted her head thoughtfully to one side, “I think…”, Kara declared cautiously, “I think they’ve all been dates, this will just be the first one where we are aware of it.”
The smile on Lena’s face was far brighter than the full moon in the night sky that was illuminating them, “Dinner tomorrow it is, then.”
“I can’t wait.” Kara replied honestly, her feet lifting off from the ground, her emotions buoying her up so much that she couldn’t stop herself from hovering.
“Neither can I.”
“Kara, thank you for coming back on such short notice.” Percy greeted, kindly holding the door open for the young woman who shuffled in somewhat uncertainly, as if also surprised to find herself back in Dr. Everett's non-intimidating green office.
It had been two days since their first cut short session. He had contacted Kara the day after their first appointment, taking the rest of the evening to reflect back on his very first interaction with the blonde now with the newly cemented knowledge that his newest patient was the one and only Supergirl.
The blonde had been quiet over the phone, merely muttering a quick ‘hello’ and an agreement to attend another session first thing Monday morning when required. Percy had kept the conversation short, grateful that they would both have the weekend to suitably prepare for their next encounter.
Percy gave Kara a quick once over as she passed him by and settled stiffly onto the sofa, again trying to keep her weight off it as much as possible (Percy filed that particular observation away for further investigation).
Today, Kara had chosen to remain true to her pastel themed clothing from last time, a violet dress and cardigan replacing the previous pink. Percy wondered momentarily if she was merely choosing colours that were so juxtaposed to her Supergirl uniform to help her secret identity better blend in or if this transition away from dark and bold colours was a more recent development. The dark circles under her eyes and gauntness to her cheeks had also not abated and Percy decided his main focus at the end of session would be finding out how Kara's appetite had changed and provide suitable strategies to return her to her previous status quo that she could work on between sessions.
“It’s no problem…", Kara murmured, her fingers playing with the edge of her skirt before moving to adjust her glasses and then jumping to straighten up the two sides of her cardigan.
Percy sat down in his comfortable armchair steadily, his knees not quite as strong as they used to be, and made a quick note of Kara's constant need for movement.
"I’m not upto much at the moment." Kara admitted, her cheeks perfusing a light pink with either embarrassment or shame. "I’ve taken some time off work…" Kara winced as she added, "normal and super.”
Percy wasn't surprised by this confession; the skies had been noticeably lacking the familiar red caped heroine despite other heroes stepping up to fill the void.
Half the media were rejoicing over Supergirl's disappearance and the other half were wishing for her return in the hope of further cheering on her downfall… only one news outlet was standing by Supergirl, only one was requesting her return as National City's true hero, and that was CatCo media. (Which Percy had discovered over the weekend was owned by none other than Lena Luthor, yet another piece of Kara's story slipped into place with that revelation).
“It’s a good decision to take some time for yourself.” Percy assured gently yet seriously, “Focus on getting yourself better.”
“Hmm…” Kara hummed unconvinced. The thick glasses were back in place and Kara’s gaze appeared even more glazed over than before. With her faraway expression firmly in place, Kara admitted despondently, “I’m kind of surprised you called me back. I got the impression you didn’t want to take me on.”
Percy sighed regretfully, concerned that he may have hindered the necessary development of trust between them due to his previous shock and uncertainty. Deciding to be honest and forthright, Percy said, “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it was more I wanted to make sure I could actually help you.”
Kara’s hollow blue eyes slowly shifted to the doctor as she asked, “And can you?”
“I still don’t know, but I want to try.” Percy declared, leaning forward in his seat and smiling softly at the blank-faced blonde that he knew from interviews on the news was capable of smiling far brighter than most. “I’ve treated a number of aliens in my time” Percy said, causing Kara to jolt in surprise and raise an eyebrow, “and I’ve found the first step is to understand the culture and expectations placed upon them from their own race as this could be drastically different to humanity as a species, let alone this country’s culture. I can’t compare or contrast appropriately if I am using the incorrect standards.”
“I didn’t realise that you’d treated other aliens.” Kara blurted out almost immediately, her face turning red at her own lack of self-control.
Percy smirked in amusement, “Similarities underneath the differences. That stays true even for humans and aliens. I told you I liked varied patients.”
“You did.” Kara agreed, a hint of a smile appearing at the corners of her mouth.
Percy liked to think he had impressed her enough with that revelation that she was re-evaluating him, giving him back the chance to earn the trust he may have missed out on previously. He was, however, curious as to why she didn’t try to seek out a doctor who was upfront about having experience treating aliens. Percy worked by recommendation and therefore didn’t have any adverts out there openly stating his willingness to treat anyone (human or alien) who walked through the door, but he had friends who did and they would easily have been found with a simple google search.
“I hope you don’t mind but I did some research on Kryptonians,” Percy explained, “your cousin has given a number of interviews and scientists have gathered some knowledge over the years that they have made available to the public.” Kara nodded her head in understanding, but the faraway look was back and Percy feared he was losing Kara’s interest.
Percy cleared his throat; his tone turning warm and proud, “Also my granddaughter is a big Supergirl fan.” Kara looked up at him sharply, taken aback by the concept that a young girl would regard her so highly, and that Percy seemed so encouraging of his granddaughter’s view of her. “She has a costume and everything, wears it every chance she gets. She directed my research, she was beyond excited to educate me on her favourite topic.” Percy’s eyes twinkled as he remembered his granddaughter sitting on his knee and pointing out her favourite Supergirl pictures that she’d saved in her scrapbook. “But please, excuse me if I ask rather simple questions in a bid to understand.”
“Right, yeah… that’s fine.” Kara whispered unsteadily, trying to take in what Percy had just informed her of.
Percy remained quiet for a minute or so, allowing Kara to re-gather her thoughts before asking, “I get the impression that you were hoping I wouldn’t take you on? As a patient that is?”
Kara blinked at him owlishly through her glasses, “Yes.”
Percy paused, waiting for her to expand on her answer, when she remained silent, he pushed for more, “And why is that?”
“I don’t think I’m going to like what I find out about myself.” Kara whispered, her hands stilling for the first time. “And if…”, She continued, her voice cold and empty, “if you gave up on me before we’d even started… well, that would be one less person trying to help me that I’ll inevitably disappoint.”
Percy’s heart went out to her, but he didn’t believe her that this was the case because from what he’d gathered by reading the recent spate of articles from CatCo he was convinced that at least one very important person in Kara’s life wasn’t disappointed by her even slightly. Hoping to guide her towards this realisation on her own, Percy inquired, “Who did you promise that you’ll come to therapy?”
“My sister.” Kara answered immediately, causing Percy’s brow to furrow as he wondered whether he had missed another Kryptonian superhero in the sky. Upon seeing Percy’s perplexed expression, Kara expanded her reply. “I was adopted when I arrived on Earth. I was thirteen at the time when Krypton - my home planet - was destroyed.”
Percy’s confusion did not dissipate even slightly, if anything it seemed to increase. The notepad he had filled over the weekend with research was resting on his knee and he quickly flicked through the pages and read over his messy, unintelligible handwriting trying to find an answer to his misaligned understanding. “I thought-”
“I was older than Kal…” Kara interrupted, pinpointing exactly what had thrown Percy for a loop, “um… Superman…” Kara clarified further with a wave of her hand, her movements increasing in their jerkiness as she related her story in a brusque fashion, the aim being to get through it as quickly as possible with as few details as possible, “When Krypton fell, my escape pod got stuck in something called the phantom zone. It meant I was frozen for twenty-four years…” Percy’s gaze shifted away from the shadows that had appeared on Kara’s face and settled on her twitching fingers and intermittently tapping foot, “so by the time I arrived on Earth, the baby - Kal-El - who I was meant to protect and guide was already grown up. I was then adopted by the Danvers who already had a daughter, Alex.”
“Did many people escape?” Percy asked tentatively, wanting to understand just how alone this young woman was.
“No.” Kara replied bluntly. “Just me.” Kara shook her head before adding as an afterthought, “And Kal, but he doesn’t-” Kara’s voice cut out instantly, refusing to finish voicing whatever thought had flickered across her mind in relation to her cousin.
“He doesn’t what?” Percy prompted.
“Nothing, it’s not important.” Kara tersely dismissed, her jaw clenching to bite back and push down whatever had risen to the surface in that moment.
“So it was always just you and your cousin from the start?” Percy questioned; Kara tilted her head to the side expectantly, requiring further information to understand. “The plan only ever included you two?”
Kara shrugged, her eyes downcast, “I guess.”
“Why did they send you to Earth?”
“I assume my family knew it was habitable”, Kara replied, but the crease in her forehead revealed deep-seated uncertainty, “but I honestly don’t know. I didn’t know anything about Earth when I left. It was just the destination plugged into the navigation systems…”
“Wait…” Percy requested, his pen stilling in his grip as he grappled with keeping his voice neutral and free of disbelief, “You were sent from your planet with the responsibility of protecting a baby on a world you knew nothing about?”
Kara shrunk even further in on herself, trying to take up as minimal amount of space as possible, her voice cracking as she muttered brokenly, “Yeah, and I failed at that before I even had a chance to try.”
Percy bit the inside of his cheek, emotions bubbling below the surface as he studied the woman across from him who looked utterly lost; thankfully, however, his words came out with his usual calm and professional tone, “That’s a lot to place on the shoulders of a child, don’t you think?”
Something snapped then. The uncertainty in light blue eyes vanished. The fidgeting ceased.
Kara’s head snapped up, her blue eyes dark and stormy. Her hands were curled into shaking fists, and her muscles were tense and taut, ready to spring into action. When she spoke, she was still as quiet as before but her tone was harsh and cruel.
“My entire planet was burning and turning to ash in front of my eyes. I lost everything I ever knew and cared about... but I was allowed to survive whilst billions other didn’t even get the chance.” Kara’s nostrils flared, and an ill-suited snarl settled on her face. “The only thing that was asked of me was to look after my cousin and I couldn’t even do that.”
8 Weeks Earlier
“Kara, you look fine.” Alex repeated for the thirtieth time and for the subsequent thirtieth outfit change.
“Fine isn’t good enough, Alex!” Kara shouted indignantly, whirling around so quickly Alex’s hair fluttered with the gust of wind she created.
The sisters were in Kara’s bedroom, Alex was lying on her front on Kara’s bed, her head and chin propped up by a pillow. Kara was a buzz of excitement and energy, her once organised wardrobe looked like it had been hit by a bomb, the floor was a cascade of colours and Kara was merely a blur as she lifted and repeatedly tried on every article of clothing in the hopes of finding the perfect outfit.
“This is my first date with Lena.” Kara declared yet again, her voice turning shrill and panicked when Alex didn’t react to the information even slightly, despite the fact that Kara had probably told her at least once every thirty seconds since Alex had arrived over two hours ago. “Lena Luthor.” Kara repeated for emphasis when Alex continued to remain resolutely blank-faced. “You know my best friend? Who looks like a supermodel, has an IQ higher than Einstein and was named philanthropist of the year two years running?!”
“Yeah, exactly!” Alex agreed with an exasperated sigh. “Your best friend who adores you.” Alex pointed out, sitting up to be on the same level with Kara and to stare more directly into her sister’s wide blue eyes. “She would think you were stunning if you turned up in a potato sack.”
“Pfft. What do you know?” Kara dismissed with a wave of her hand as she scrambled to pick up four different tops from the floor before holding them up against her body to assess them one by one.
Alex rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue at her sister’s stubbornness, revealing with a teasing tone, “I know she still found you beautiful even after that all-you-can-eat ribs contest a year ago.”
Kara froze and slowly turned her head back to stare at her sister with narrowed, disbelieving eyes, “No, she didn’t.”
“Yes, she did.” Alex sing-songed, smirking as she revealed. “You were covered in sauce and halfway towards a food coma when Lena turned to me and asked how on Earth you were still unbelievably attractive. I was ready to march her to the optometrists right then and there, but I guess the saying is true… love really is blind.”
“Alex!” Kara reprimanded, diving forward to sweep up a cast aside pillow to lightly whack Alex in the face with it.
“Ow!” Alex called out as she fell backwards dramatically, earning an amused shake of the head from the blonde. “Play nice.” Alex demanded with a pout causing Kara to merely stick her tongue out at her. Alex chuckled at the response before sitting up properly, her expression turning serious as she said slowly, “If you want genuine advice... Wear blue. She loves you in blue.”
“Yeah?” Kara asked, her smile shy and sweet and her head tilted to the side like a puppy.
Alex nodded, reaching out to squeeze Kara’s hand that wasn’t gripping the pillow, “She loves you in any colour but blue always makes your eyes stand out.”
Kara reflected on this for a few moments when suddenly her eyes lit up and her smile became dazzling. In a literal flash, Kara disappeared and reappeared in front of Alex, a blue summer dress with a white daisy pattern now gripped in her hands and being pressed against her front.
“This?” Kara checked, biting her bottom lip nervously.
Alex exhaled gently, admiring simply how happy her sister looked before giving her two thumbs up. “Perfect.”
“I hope so.” Kara murmured.
“It will be.” Alex reassured, moving towards the edge of the bed on her knees so that she could easily reach out and place her hands on Kara’s shoulders, giving them a comforting squeeze and gently forcing Kara to make eye-contact. “Kara, don’t overthink it. Just enjoy it.” Alex said, keen to placate her sister’s obvious nervousness. “Treat it like any other dinner.”
Kara’s jaw dropped and she shook her head in fervent disagreement. “Like any other dinner?!” Kara spluttered, “This needs to be special, it needs to be-”
“No, it doesn’t.” Alex cut in, interrupting the rapid spiral of thoughts. “It just needs to be the two of you. That’s what’ll make it special.” Alex stated, her tone definitive and unaccepting of counterarguments.
Kara blinked at her owlishly before deflating, the tension coiled below the surface dissipating under the mix of her sister’s hard stare and comforting touch, “So…”, Kara breathed out, a shy, slightly embarrassed smile appearing as she winced, “using my Supergirl identity to book a table at a five star restaurant might be too much?”
“Yeah.” Alex affirmed with a light laugh, trying not to think about the havoc Kara using her other identity to organise dates could cause in the future (knowing full well it was likely to happen sooner or later). “Lena likes”, Alex began, stopping part way through to correct herself, finally no longer having to hide her awareness of Lena’s real feelings for her sister, “- loves - you for you. Just be you. Not anyone else.”
“Right.” Kara nodded, but that hint of uncertainty was back flickering in her blue eyes. “Thanks, Alex.” Kara said gratefully, pulling Alex into quick yet firm hug.
“That’s what sisters are for.” Alex whispered as Kara released her and stepped back, starting to get changed into her selected dress. Alex flopped back on the bed, pleased to have helped Kara settle somewhat, knowing just how much this meant to Kara and Lena.
“Are you sure the DEO and J’onn can cover for Supergirl tonight?” Kara asked, moving to check her appearance in the mirror.
“Yes, I’m sure. Don’t worry about it.” Alex promised, relieved when she saw Kara nod at her own reflection, happy with her choice of clothing. “Now… make-up?” Alex prompted eager to maintain their forward momentum.
Kara gulped nervously as she haltingly walked up the path to Lena’s front door, her fingers smoothing out the wrinkles on her dress that weren’t there to begin with. It was less than twenty-four hours since the two best friends had confessed their feelings for one another, and they were now less than a minute away from going on their first date.
Kara tried to push past the constant worried stream of thoughts that had been plaguing her since last night. All of them talking about the ramifications of this definitive change to her relationship status with Lena.
What if it doesn’t work out?
What if you do something wrong?
What if you screw it up?
What if you lose her?
Kara felt queasy at the possibilities. The fear of losing Lena because of their attempt at a relationship not working out made Kara struggle to breath. She couldn’t imagine her life without Lena in it. Couldn’t imagine not seeing or talking to Lena for more than a day.
Kara’s feet stopped moving and her hand that had lifted to knock on Lena’s front door hovered uncertainly in the air. Kara closed her eyes and focused on breathing deeply, her hearing stretching out without forethought, seeking out the sound that always managed to bring her comfort when it sometimes all felt a little bit too much.
Lena’s heart was beating a little bit faster than usual but it was strong and steady. Kara tilted her head to the side trying to determine from memory alone what that increased rate could indicate. It was too slow to be fear, too consistent in speed to be just nervousness… Kara pondered for a moment before a smile blossomed bright and untamed onto her face, her hand knocking loudly and confidently on the door.
That was what it was.
Lena was excited.
Hurried footsteps rushed towards the door then paused for a moment just on the other side. Kara’s heart fluttered with joy knowing that Lena was stopping to take a couple of seconds to smooth out her appearance before opening the door.
“Kara, you look…”, Lena murmured upon opening the door her gaze immediately sweeping over Kara’s appearance appreciatively, her green eyes glittering with wonderment, “breathtaking.”
Kara’s face flushed a bright red under Lena’s stare and at her sincere declaration, her fingers tapping out a random, jerky pattern on her leg as her eyes darted around the place, finally settling properly on Lena to truly take her in.
Lena was wearing a simple red knee-length dress complemented by gold jewelry and red heels. Her hair was down and pulled to rest over one shoulder allowing her long neck to be admired easily. Her make-up was, for the most part, understated but her vibrant red lipstick was present and Kara’s eyes instantly honed in on that feature, especially since it had become such a key part to the majority of her fantasies.
“And you look…” Kara rushed to reply, her words coming out in a jittery stutter in her eagerness, “wow…” Kara eventually breathed out unable to find an adjective that suitably summed up the sight that was Lena Luthor.
Lena chuckled lightly at Kara’s near incoherency, shuffling forward a few steps, moving into Kara’s space as she bit her lip seductively.
“Um... these are for you.” Kara squeaked, lifting the now nearly crushed bouquet of flowers up into the small gap between their bodies.
Lena’s expression lit up even more, which Kara had thought was impossible, when her gaze came to rest on the flowers being offered to her. “Plumerias, my favourite.” Lena said gratefully, gently reaching out to accept them from Kara’s tight grip, her fingers brushing soothingly over Kara’s as she did so. Kara’s skin buzzed at the slight contact and her heart skipped a beat. “Let me just put them in some water then we can go.”
Kara nodded in understanding as Lena turned back inside and headed towards the kitchen. The door was left open in easy invitation for Kara to follow her inside but the blonde chose to linger in the doorway instead, wanting to take the time to steady her racing heart and bite back against the incessant thoughts proclaiming doom inside her head.
It would work out, Kara declared internally, because she wouldn’t let it fail.
They’d already admitted that they loved each other and had proven time and time again that they would do anything for the other.
Nothing could come in between that, in between them, of that Kara was certain.
“Are you ready?” Kara asked with a beaming smile, offering a hand out for Lena to take as the brunette reappeared.
Lena’s green eyes shone with adoration as she interlaced her fingers with Kara’s and said, “Yes.”
“Were you aware during that time?” Percy asked; he had let the topic of the destruction of Krypton lie for now, Kara’s reaction to the loss of her home was intense and defensive to the extreme. It was obvious that this event had been the key trauma that had defined her formative years and had heavily shaped the woman she had become. It was also apparent that Kara had never really allowed herself to face it, choosing instead to bottle it up and push it down.
Percy couldn’t really blame her for being closed off and unwilling to really talk about it; he didn’t want to imagine how he, let alone his young grand-daughter who couldn’t be much younger than Kara had been at the time, would handle the loss of their home planet and being sent to an entirely new world and culture where they were unwelcome by the majority of the population.
He had taken the first step, broached the topic and started to lay the foundations of trust and communication that should hopefully mean that when Kara was ready to really talk about it, she had the tools at her disposal to do so.
With that in mind, Percy had given Kara a few minutes of quiet reflection for her to feel suitably in control again before moving swiftly on and shifting the conversation onto ‘The Phantom Zone’ which had set off alarm bells in the doctor’s head due to how quickly Kara had brushed over it. Twenty-four years of slumber would have taken a toll on any person but Percy had reason to believe it wasn’t as simple as that, that it was in fact far worse than Kara tried to lead him to believe.
“Aware?” Kara repeated, her brow furrowed in confusion as she tried to work out exactly what the therapist was suggesting.
Percy tapped his pen against his pad of paper thoughtfully as he re-worded his question, “Conscious, might be a better word… Were you conscious during your time in the Phantom Zone?”
Kara shifted uncomfortably in her seat, her fingers curling around the edge of her dress and shuffling the material between her fingers. “Uh… no… yes… kind of.” Kara muttered cringing as she whizzed through every available answer but not deeming any of them suitable. “It’s hard to explain.” She finally settled on, her shoulders caving forward in defeat.
Percy frowned at the reply, realising that what might be the main blocker for Kara to confront this particular issue was the lack of appropriate vocabulary. Even though he had spent less than two hours with the blonde it was easy to tell that there was a perfectionist lying beneath the surface, which made her feel self-conscious and afraid of failure. He needed to encourage her that if she couldn’t find the exact right word that it would still be okay, that it didn’t have to be perfect for it to be understood.
“Well, if you’re willing to try, I will endeavour to do my utmost to understand.” Percy affirmed, staring Kara straight in the eye and trying his utmost to convey his sincerity.
Kara didn’t reply immediately, her lips pursed into a thin line in a vain attempt to prevent fumbled words from escaping. Percy continued to wait patiently, refusing to so much as shuffle in his seat even though his slightly wearing joints required movement to prevent them from seizing up. He needed Kara to know that she could take her time, that she could get it wrong and then correct it without being nitpicked for it.
“It was kind of like being asleep but not…” Kara eventually said, her gaze flickering off to the side as she relived memories she probably wished to fully forget. “It was…” Kara huffed out a disconsolate breath, her face scrunching up in concentration. “You know that moment when you’re just starting to wake up, and your body still feels heavy and you don’t quite have full control of your limbs yet?”
“Hypnagogia.” Percy supplied without thinking about it.
Kara’s head jerked back slightly in surprise, taken aback by the word that sounded like a mixture of a cough and a sneeze, “Huh?”
“The state between wakefulness and sleep.” Percy explained.
“Oh right…”, Kara muttered in understanding before raising an eyebrow at the light embarrassed blush spreading across Percy’s face.
“Sorry, I’m a doctor with a love of crosswords, I couldn’t help myself…”, Percy coughed out apologetically, before gesturing with a wave of his hand, “Please continue…”
“Hmmm…” Kara hummed, a flash of a smile appearing at the doctor’s awkwardness before vanishing almost instantly as her mind returned back to the heavy memories that sucked every ounce of joy from her system like a parasite.
When Kara spoke next her voice was soft, yet distant, the tone of voice one might use to lull a small child to sleep. It was rhythmic and level, kind of empty and emotionless so as not to pull someone back from the slumber it was trying so greatly to encourage. “And your mind is also trying to desperately process what’s real and what’s not because you’ve been dreaming vividly and it all felt so real… And now you’re not quite sure who you are or where you are because you’re not in your normal bed and the flash of images you seen when you try to open your eyes look nothing like your bedroom and…” Kara trailed off, lulled into a trance-like state by the memories fuelling her words.
“Aware but not fully conscious?” Percy whispered, not wanting to yank Kara back from her thoughts too harshly, instead trying to guide her back to reality.
Kara blinked slow and heavy, “Something like that…”
Percy took a deep breath, eyeing Kara’s restless fingers as he said carefully, “Twenty-four years of confusion and immobility, many people would struggle to recover from something like that…”
Kara’s eyes suddenly became steely and focused, her expression turning blank and guarded. “I don’t think about it.” Kara replied sharply, her fingers shifting away from the edge of her dress so that she could cross her arms protectively over her chest, but almost immediately she began tapping an arrhythmic pattern on her bicep and her legs vibrated up and down anxiously.
“Are you sure about that?” Percy asked knowingly.
“Yes.” Kara huffed out, her head turning off to one side as she murmured dismissively, “It happened a long time ago.”
Percy hummed neither in agreement nor disagreement, “Whilst there is some truth in the saying ‘time heals all wounds’, I find that that only works if the person is giving the wound the care it requires at the same time.”
Kara frowned and a familiar crease appeared between her eyebrows, “What do you mean?”
“I’m assuming as Supergirl you don’t often need to worry about the long term care or effect of physical injuries?” Percy reasoned; though he tried his utmost not to make assumptions in his line of work, preferring the patient to tell him themselves or having gathered enough evidence to feel certain in his theories, they were often an unfortunate necessity to progress conversations and subsequent treatment.
“No, usually a few hours under a sun-bed sees me back to fully healed.” Kara answered, and Percy momentarily reflected on how quickly she’d become comfortable sharing the details of her secret persona but he then realised with a start that to her it wasn’t a secret persona, it was just who she was. Percy swiftly made a note to explore further the impact that multiple secret identities could have on a person. “I’ve had a few cases where it may be a few days but… that’s about it…”, Kara continued, oblivious to the thoughts and ideas that were whirring away in the background of her therapist’s mind.
It was these distracting thoughts that meant Percy’s attention was lax, leading to him slipping up, the immediate reply tumbling from his mouth and only managing to catch the name at the last possible second, “You must have seen with Le-”
Kara’s sharp inhaled breath was the only outward reaction to the passing, barely there reference to the L-Corp CEO.
“You grew up with a human sibling?” Percy course corrected, beyond grateful that Kara seemed willing and eager to latch onto this switch in focus. “Did Alex ever break a bone or get a particularly nasty scrape when she was younger?”
“Yeah,” Kara nodded, an obvious memory springing to mind by the way her eyes glanced off to the side to aid recall, “when she was learning to ride a motorbike, she had an accident. She wasn’t quite in control and had to veer sharply to avoid hitting a car.” Kara’s expression darkened, a flicker of the fear she had presumably felt at the sight of her sister injured flaring up even after all these years - Percy finally appreciated how deep the bond was between the two sisters. “She had bad grazes all up her leg and had broken her wrist.”
“Right.” Percy nodded, pleased to have a more accessible example to work with, “After falling did Alex leave the injuries as they were?”
“Leave them?” Kara repeated tentatively, confusion apparent in the deep lines across her forehead and around her eyes.
“Did she get up and carry on as if nothing had happened?” Percy asked, adding clarity to his question.
“She wanted to but Eliza and I took her to the hospital.” Kara rolled her eyes affectionately, clearly remembering her sister’s stubborn behaviour with a level of fondoness.
Percy hummed in understanding before continuing with the mental exercise he was guiding Kara through. “Were the grazes presumably cleaned to prevent infection and her arm set in plaster to ensure it healed correctly?”
“Yes.” Kara confirmed easily.
“You could argue that time would have healed those wounds eventually.” Percy pointed out casually.
Kara’s lip curled in obvious disagreement, “Her injury could have gotten infected or her wrist might not have healed properly.”
“Exactly.” Percy said with a proud and comforting smile that he hoped put Kara at ease and made her receptive to what he was about to say. “Just because time does help doesn’t mean it should do everything alone. It doesn’t mean it will heal properly. In some cases time can do more damage, letting it heal into the wrong shape and as such cause more pain trying put it right later on.”
Kara stared at him blankly, absorbing everything what he had told her and working through the example he had given her on her own. Steadily, Kara’s blue eyes went downcast, her body seemed to curl inwards and when she spoke it was a mere whisper of a question, “Did I heal wrong?”
“No,” Percy assured instantly, staring Kara straight in the eye, his voice strong and definitive, “though I think you may have left time to do all the heavy-lifting.”
Kara swallowed thickly, and switched her gaze back to her hands that were tracing seemingly random patterns on the sofa cushions. “Is it going to hurt?” She asked quietly, “Fixing everything much later on?”
Percy sighed, not willingly to lie to his patients in any way, “Did it hurt your sister when they cleaned out the wound on her leg?”
Kara went utterly still for a fraction of a second as her breath caught in her lungs before being expelled as a simple, “Yes.”
8 Weeks Earlier
“Can I ask what the plans for the evening are?” Lena asked, threading her fingers through Kara's more securely as she stepped down from her front steps and stood as close to Kara as she could without burying herself in the blonde's side.
Instantly, Kara found it easier to breathe and stand taller with the familiar comfort Lena's closeness always offered.
“You can ask, but you won’t get an answer…” Kara replied, a teasing smile appearing on her face to hide the nerves playing under the surface.
“Fine,” Lena huffed, pretending to be annoyed though it was clear from the crinkle around her eyes and the slight uptick to her heart rate that she was happy to stay in the dark and simply enjoy their time together. “I guess I’ll have to be patient.” Lena sighed, shaking her head as she smirked ruefully at Kara.
If there was one thing the two of them had in common it was their lack of patience.
Neither was able to hold back when they saw something they liked; Kara would drop everything at the first whiff of potstickers and Lena had very limited self-control when the newest pair of Jimmy Choo’s went on the market. But this particular character trait went far deeper than just material things.
Take their friendship.
A conversation that barely lasted longer than a minute between the two of them sparked a best friendship that neither could now imagine their lives without. Mere days after the two of them met, Lena had gone out of her way to track Kara down and extend an invite to her gala even though the two of them barely knew one another.
Thing was, they both wanted to get to know one another.
They were impatient to get to know one another.
Kara found herself dropping by at the drop of her hat, under the weak, yet numerous, pretence of hoping to get a comment for her latest article even though a one-liner from Lena Luthor didn’t really add much to the various topics. This, though, quickly shifted to just popping in to check Lena had actually eat lunch and then swiftly progressed to them eating lunch together.
Their friendship had developed at such an accelerated pace that in a matter of months it was strange if they didn't see each other at least three times during the course of a week.
Impatience was the cornerstone of their friendship.
They didn’t know how to wait for one another.
(Except when it came to taking their friendship in a different direction, fear was a strong obstacle to overcome for both women with that regard and it kept their impatience in check better than anything else they had ever encountered).
“Not for long, I promise.” Kara assured, grinning in response to Lena’s statement and everything that it meant. “Um…” Kara cleared her throat awkwardly and blushed, her eyes dropping to the ground shyly as she said, “If it's okay… uh... Can I… I need to fly us there…”
It had been a long time since Kara had been anxious about lifting Lena up into a bridal carry and flying off with her securely held in her arms. Nerves mixed with excitement and anticipation had made her tremble and shake the first few times she’d picked Lena up and held her close; Kara had used to feel unnaturally sweaty and her heart would go a mile a minute.
Saving Lena from aliens blaming her for her brother’s atrocities or from armed men blaming her for not living up to her brother’s legacy had forced Kara to get over her uncertainty very quickly. It then didn’t take long for her to simply enjoy carrying Lena away, and to start looking gleefully forward to the next time Lena would bury her face in the crook of Kara’s neck to avoid the chill of the high winds.
This time it was different.
Things had changed.
The nerves were back and stronger than ever.
This time when Kara put her arms under Lena’s knees and around her back and kept her pressed safely to Kara’s chest, there was meaning to it. There was potential to it. They were both now aware and in agreement that was something more to what was once their casual touches.
“Barely a minute in and you’re already sweeping me off my feet.” Lena chuckled, her smile flirty but her green eyes as soft and comforting as ever.
Kara let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, and shrugged casually trying to make her response not sound as serious and honest as she knew it was, “That’s the hope.”
Lena’s laughter faded, Kara knew that the other woman hadn’t been fooled by the attempt to appear nonchalant. “You swept me off my feet years ago, Kara,” Lena murmured earnestly, reaching out to cup Kara’s cheek, soothing the tension away with a gentle forward and back of her thumb over Kara’s skin, “and I trust you to always be there to catch me.”
“Okay,” Kara swallowed, her chest puffing out in emulation of her Supergirl persona to draw on her confidence, “hold on tight.” She requested, bending down slightly to pick Lena up as gently as she always did.
“I intend to.” Lena whispered seriously, though her grip was nowhere near iron tight as she settled in Kara’s arms.
Kara glanced at the raven-haired woman out of the corner of her eye, preparing her leap into the air; green eyes were watching her profile fondly, flicking over her features constantly as if memorising every detail.
“Kara this is…” Lena muttered slowly as Kara gently deposited her on the grassy knoll.
They were a couple miles outside of National City, and on one of the hills that surrounded the outskirts of their sprawling home. The high vantage point and the distance from the main urban areas reduced the effect of light pollution providing a breathtaking vista of the city’s skyline in front of an epic starry backdrop.
It was one of Kara’s favourite places in the whole world.
It gave her breathing space and quiet from the overwhelming sights and sounds that were constantly clamouring for her attention, but also reminded her of the big picture and what she was trying to protect.
A few feet away was a table and two chairs (Kara’s table and chairs from her apartment that she had flown out in advance). A simple tablecloth with crockery and cutlery was laid out for the two of them along with two unassuming brown paper bags in the middle of the table, steaming slightly from the warm food hidden away inside.
“I know it's not a fancy restaurant like you’re probably used to and its nothing really exciting or unique but… but… I…” Kara stammered, starting to grow worried when Lena had trailed off and remained silent for longer than a few seconds as her head sweeped from side to side taking in the view and the set-up.
Kara began to think that maybe she had misjudged her decision to go simple, to make it about them, rather than something big and extravagant.
“Kara,” Lena finally said turning back round to face the blonde directly, her green eyes wide and watery whilst her smile was small but wondrous, “this is perfect.” Lena declared, “It’s just me and you… and that’s…” Lena’s words caught in her throat and she shook her head in amazement as she confessed, “It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.”
“Me too.” Kara breathed out, reaching to take Lena’s hand in her own, admitting sheepishly, “I just… really don’t want to screw this up.”
“We won’t.” Lena promised, emphasising with two simple words that they were in this together, “My heart is yours, unconditionally.”
“I love you.” Kara whispered, the declaration slipping out without forethought. She stepped forward, until they were mere centimetres apart and studied Lena’s face intensely, her gaze sweeping over her features before coming to rest on Lena’s lips. “I really want to kiss you right now…” Kara confessed; her heart rate spiking when Lena reacted to the statement by licking her lips and biting her bottom lip in anticipation.
“What’s stopping you?” Lena asked, her voice dropping to a low register that Kara had never heard before but which made her shiver from head to toe.
“I kind of want to save it…” Kara admitted, her voice coming out croaky due to how dry her mouth had become all of a sudden.
“Save it?” Lena repeated, quirking her eyebrow curiously, “Hopefully not for too long. I don’t think I can wait much more.”
“Just a little bit longer…” Kara requested, though her reasoning for this was starting to get more and more hazy the longer she stayed in Lena’s close proximity.
“You already know when.” Lena guessed as Kara took an unsteady step backwards to try and clear her head.
“I have a preference.” Kara confessed, rubbing the back of her neck with her free hand, though she would have tweaked her glasses if she was wearing them.
“Okay.” Lena said simply, accepting the answer easily and without complaint. “Dinner?” Lena prompted, tugging Kara towards the sweet dining area that Kara had set up for them. Kara quickly rushed ahead to pull back Lena’s chair for her, earning Kara an affectionate squeeze of the forearm and pleased smile, “Thank you.” Kara accepted the gratitude with a nod and a slight blush, tucking Lena into her spot before hurrying round to her own seat opposite. “What are we having?” Lena inquired, leaning forward to peer inside the brown bags.
“Surprise.” Kara announced as she pulled out Lena’s favourite takeaway: burgers and fries from ‘Big Belly Burger’. Lena’s eyes went wide with delight and she lifted her hands up to accept the food. “It's kind of our thing, you know?” Kara explained, feeling the need to justify why she chose fast food for their first date even though it was obvious how happy Lena was with the choice, “And I know you love it even though you tell people you don’t and that you only eat it with me and… I want you to have the things you love without being ashamed. But if it's not right-”
“Kara.” Lena cut in, her expression and tone stern.
“Yeah?” Kara asked, falling back into her seat heavily as if awaiting sentencing from a judge.
Lena reached out for Kara’s hand across the table, and Kara gladly accepted her touch. “Perfect.” Lena stated clearly as she lifted Kara’s hand to kiss the back of it affectionately. “Absolutely perfect.”
“Good,” Kara replied, tension leaking out of her immediately, her skin buzzing where Lena’s lips had brushed it, “that’s… good.” Lena beamed at her before regretfully letting go of Kara’s hand so that she could fully dig into her burger. “So… tell me about your day?” Kara asked as they both settled comfortably into each other’s presence, realising that actually they did know how to do this. They knew how to be on a date with one another as they had been on so many without acknowledging it.
Dinner and dessert had come and gone, but the conversation had flowed onwards interrupted only by genuine laughter and soft caresses. The moon hung high above the two of them, providing more light than the lanterns dotted around the area could ever hope to achieve. Lena had just finished telling Kara about the ‘Top Ten Funniest Supergirl Saves’ article she had read earlier that day, giggling throughout as she talked Kara through each one and beyond proud that she had made it to the third position on the list.
(That particular save involved Kara saving Lena from ‘The Candy Man’, a villain that attacked with weaponised sugary sweets. Lena had been targeted for starting healthy work environment initiatives like making free fruit available to all employees. Lena and Kara had been caught in a cotton candy trap and Supergirl had been forced to save them by literally eating out an escape path for them. Kara had thrown up pink for the rest of the day and was in a sugar coma for nearly a week - it was the only time she’d willing asked for kale, much to Lena’s shock and delight.)
After the laughter faded, the women fell in a reflective silence, simply appreciating each other’s company and the outstanding panorama.
Kara clenched and unclenched her hands in her lap, building up the courage she needed. With a deep breath, Kara pulled out her phone, turning the volume up to full and starting the playlist she had prepared earlier. Lena tilted her head at her as the music started, her gaze a mixture of curious and hopeful. The blonde exhaled deeply, nodded once to herself and stood up, striding round the table and holding out her hand once she was stood beside Lena.
“Can I interest you in a dance?” Kara asked, proud when her voice came strong and sure.
Lena beamed up at her, accepting Kara’s hand immediately as she murmured, “Always.”
Kara led them to a clear spot a couple of feet away and carefully placed her hands on Lena’s waist as Lena wrapped her own arms around Kara’s neck. The dance was nothing more than swaying with the occasional shuffle but to Kara it was the single greatest dance of her entire life.
Kara loved dancing and she would always find someway to move along to whatever tune was playing in the background but she was never very good when it came to dancing with someone else. She could never fall into the right rhythm with them, and could never synchronise her movements to complement her partner. She remembered complaining to Eliza about it after Prom (and after breaking the toes of her date), asking why it was she could never seem to get it right.
Eliza had looked her straight in the eye and told her she just simply hadn’t found the right partner yet.
Kara knew she had found the right partner as she rested her cheek against dark hair and felt warm breath on her neck producing a wave of goosebumps. Kara’s heart skipped and soared in her chest, her stomach fluttered and her breath came out in stutters as she kept forgetting to breath.
She wanted this moment to last forever.
“This is it, right?” Lena whispered into Kara’s skin, setting off another delicious shudder down Kara’s body. “This is the moment?” Lena asked, leaning back slowly and untucking herself from Kara’s neck. Lena’s eyes were dark and pleading, her mouth slightly open as she intermittently bit her lip, and her cheeks were flushed, “Please say this is the moment, because I swear if I can’t kiss you right now-”
Kara kissed her.
She kissed her with everything she had. She didn’t hold back, her restraint completely blown apart by one desperate look from the woman she loved. She’d been stopping herself from kissing Lena for the last few years, and been severely testing whatever remaining resolve she had left since last night when she realised that everything she ever wanted was possible, that she could have it…
Kissing Lena was like being supercharged by the sun.
Kissing Lena was like watching the sunrise after the longest and darkest night.
It was fiery, Lena kissed back just as hard and desperately as Kara did.
It was uplifting, every nip and sharp tug was immediately followed by tenderness in the form of a soothing swipe of the tongue.
It felt constant and comforting, it wasn’t so desperate that you were convinced there would never be another like it; it felt like a promise that there would be one the next day and the day after that and that they would be just as intense and just as beautiful.
Kara took back her earlier statement.
This was the moment she wanted to last forever.
Lena’s tongue dipping playfully into her mouth, Lena’s hands in her hair, one threading through the locks with her fingers whilst the other scratched her scalp teasingly and kept her in place. Kara’s hands moving up and down Lena’s back, her hands burning with the desire to feel the bare skin of the curves underneath Lena’s dress.
Steadily, with each up and down stroke of Kara’s hands, they dipped lower and lower before reaching a line that Kara felt too nervous to cross. Lena, eventually, smirking into the kiss, pulled one hand free from Kara’s hair to reach behind her and push Kara’s hands firmly onto her ass.
Correction: this moment was definitely the one Kara wanted to last forever.
“So…” Lena began nervously as they stood outside Lena’s front door. Unlike earlier, Kara’s hair was now wild and unkempt, and there was a noticeable purple hickey on Lena’s neck.
“So…” Kara repeated, her face turning a blistering red as she tried to work out what happened next. Her plan literally only extended to returning Lena to her front door, she was now very much out of her depth.
“That…” Lena breathed out, leaning against her open doorway, a dazzling smile on her face that had been there since their first kiss and hadn’t disappeared for even a second, “that was the best first date of my life.”
“Really?” Kara asked, feeling the need to confirm the truth of this because it made her feel all tingly and warm, as if everything was so good that it couldn’t be real.
“Mmhmm,” Lena hummed her confirmation, reaching out with a single finger to trace random shapes on Kara’s forearm, her gaze focused solely on the goosebumps that appeared in the wake of her movements. When Lena spoke again it was shy and hesitant, and so overtly vulnerable it made Kara’s heart stutter. “Would it be too forward of me to say…” Lena whispered, knowing no matter how quiet she spoke that Kara would hear her, “I hope that it was the last first date I ever go on?”
“Not too forward at all…” Kara muttered, taking a shuffling step forward and bending down slightly to brush her lips gently against Lena’s.
When she pulled back, Lena was looking at her dreamily and again Kara was unsure what to do next. She felt like she was at the opening night of a play that she was to star in but didn’t know any of the words for.
“I should probably… um… get going…”, Kara murmured, rubbing the back of her neck yet again, emphasising her uncertainty.
“Or you could stay?” Lena offered quietly, looking up at Kara through her eyelashes, her eyes so dark that there was only the barest hint of green left visible.
“Or I could stay…” Kara repeated, swallowing thickly.
“What was it like?” Percy inquired curiously, shifting in his seat as he made a new header on his pad of paper.
Kara looked off into the distance, her mind casting itself back to what must have been tumultuous days, “Loud.” Kara whispered, an almost audible wince accompanying that single word as she instinctively turned her head to one side as if to reduce the exposure to her ears. “I remember it being loud. And bright.”
Percy’s heart went out to the young woman, he had hoped that there had been something positive to build upon from those early days, something to give her a flicker of joy after all the darkness she’d experienced.
As if hearing Percy’s inner thoughts, however, Kara shook her head gently and the harsh frown eased as the corner of her lips upturned just a little bit.
“And green. And just so… alive.” Kara breathed in barely suppressed awe. “Krypton…” Kara continued, finally meeting Percy’s assessing gaze as that minor spark of happiness Percy had glimpsed steadily receded, “had lost a lot of its nature and environment. I was lucky that I lived in an area that had the resources to try and preserve what was being lost. Had been lost.” Kara’s head dropped as she began to fiddle with the strap of her handbag that was sat beside her. “It took my breath away, seeing so many plants growing wild and free.” She murmured forlornly. “But it was all so loud… so, so, so loud. I could barely think with so much going on.”
Percy nodded his head in understanding, writing a quick few comments and thoughts on his notepad.
“I went from cold, silent darkness to…” Kara trailed off and shrugged casually, trying to brush it all off with an overly rehearsed action (Percy added a further note to his pad regarding how much Kara worked to hide her true emotions as well as her identity). “It was overwhelming… but also wondrous.”
Percy put his pen down and folded his hands in his lap as he said with a conversational tone, “I am always curious to know what someone, who has never seen this planet before, would think of it.” He paused to reflect on everything he had just heard, “I think your description is pretty accurate.” With a deep exhale, the doctor leaned forward and asked as softly as he could the question he’d been building up to, “How did you end up with the Danvers?”
“My cousin took me to them.” Kara replied brusquely, her answer coming out so quickly Percy could practically see the red flag waving above her head. “He trusted them to raise me. To keep me safe and hidden.”
“That must have been difficult.” Percy commented.
Kara’s brow furrowed and her nose scrunched up as she repeated, “Difficult?”
“Being delivered to a family you didn’t know on a planet you didn’t know.” Percy summarised, choosing his words carefully, more than aware that this was a very fragile topic for Kara. “That’s a harsh transition. Lots of change to throw at someone, especially someone so young.”
Kara’s jaw tensed noticeably as she clenched her teeth, clinging desperately for control and to prevent herself from giving too much away. “Where else was I supposed to go? Kal didn’t…” Kara’s voice cut out instantly, and Percy tried not to react at the reveal of her weak-point. “I didn’t have anywhere else to go.” Kara stated bluntly.
“Please don’t take that as a criticism towards the Danvers or your cousin… and especially not you.” Percy replied quickly.
He wished he could personally fix the cracks and breaks that had come from Kara’s childhood trauma but, unfortunately, he knew better than most that it was down to Kara to recognise them and work on her own repairs. He could and would provide support and highlight where the repairs should take place but he had to do it softly. Percy was acutely aware that with Kara in such a vulnerable state from recent events that a single misstep with regards to her childhood foundations could easily being down the whole house of cards.
“I understand that life has a habit of creating circumstances that can prevent ideal scenarios,” Percy began, falling into what his wife affectionately called his ‘kindly, old professor’ act that tended to either drive away patients (and put his grandchildren asleep) or endear him to his patients (the effect it had on Kara was still to be determined), “but just because we do the best we can with what we have doesn’t mean we should just shake off the impact those trying times had regardless. Saying you are struggling is not always equivalent to you saying those providing support are failing you. It can just be a way of saying I need another support system… like therapy as you have arranged… or that you need to try something different.”
Kara didn’t respond for a long time, her gaze far away and distant (Percy feared that he had put her asleep as effectively as he always did his granddaughter).
“It was a lot.” Kara finally whispered, her voice pained as if the admittance of not being invulnerable one hundred percent of the time physically hurt her. “Too much at times. It would have been nice for Kal to… I had to figure out my powers all on my own…” Kara blinked rapidly to dispel the moisture visibly gathering in her eyes, “Can we… can we not talk about my powers? Not yet…” Kara requested and Percy wasn’t going to deny her this request.
“Of course.” Percy assured, pivoting with ease into his next question. “What kept you feeling connected to your home?”
Kara quirked her head in surprise, the question throwing her so much that it pulled her away from the sorrow of a moment ago. “I don’t understand.”
“Well,” Percy explained gesturing to Kara with a wave of his hand, “as you said yourself, arriving on Earth was a considerable amount of change for you to take on. On Krypton, I’m assuming you had traditions or elements of your culture that you partook in whilst growing up. Certain holidays, or religious acts or something that you associated with your home…” Kara opened and closed her mouth but seemed unsure of what to say. Percy raised an eyebrow at her, “Did you continue those traditions when you came here?”
“Kryptonians… we… I mean... I believe in Rao.” Kara jolted in her seat, her words coming out in a rushed ramble before she took a deep breath and tried to make herself more coherent, though Percy found it interesting how she bit down on her bottom lip and tried to not make it obvious how hard she was concentrating on her choice of words. “Rao is our god, he was embodied by the red sun that gave life to Krypton.” Kara elucidated, exhaling forcefully through her nose as she flexed her fingers and curled them into fists intermittently. “I stopped praying when I came to Earth. Rao was meant to be benevolent, he was meant to guide us and protect us… and…” Kara’s blue eyes turned dark and steely, “how was I meant to pray to a god that didn’t save my family, my home, who let his worshippers just get wiped out…”
“You had a crisis of faith.” Percy confirmed, unsurprised by this but saddened to find Kara had lost yet another source of comfort and security. “And you had no one to turn to. No one to guide you.”
“Eliza, Alex and Jeremiah, they tried to get me to continue certain traditions.” Kara said; Percy smiled inwardly at her loyalty and protectiveness of her family, though he didn’t doubt the truth of Kara’s words. It was obvious they had done right by Kara as much as they could. “Tried to get me to teach them our songs, our games, our beliefs. They encouraged me to pray to Rao whilst they prayed to their own god. They wanted me to feel comfortable. To feel like I could be myself…” Kara’s eyes dropped to the floor as she murmured only just audible, “at least behind closed doors that is.”
“Being yourself with an asterisk next to it must have been difficult.”
“You like that word don’t you?” Kara chuckled dryly in response, “Difficult.”
“It’s apt.” Percy replied with a shy smirk that pulled a flash of a genuine smile from the blonde superhero.
“They were protecting me.” Kara summed up. “I was already the weird kid who broke everything she came across. Who didn’t know the jokes or the sayings or anything that would make me fit in.” For a second, Percy caught a glimpse of the lost young girl thrown into the absolute chaos of American schooling, filled with teenagers so afraid of being the odd one out that they were grateful for someone else to be the scapegoat. “I was already sending up red flags that I wasn’t normal .” Kara’s mouth twisted with distaste at that word but there was no small amount of longing in her eyes either. “I wasn’t going to add in praying to a god no one has ever heard of, or celebrating my birthday differently or…”
Percy waited patiently for Kara to continue but she remained resolutely silent, “Or?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Kara murmured wistfully.
“Okay.” Percy accepted this, it wasn’t what he wanted to focus on anyway, “Still if the Danvers were offering to help maintain elements from your home… why didn’t you accept that offer?”
“It hurt to…” Kara confessed, crossing her arms protectively over her chest and beginning to jiggle her leg to release excessive energy. “It hurt to hear the songs, to tell our stories, our history, our everything because it was no longer there… So I didn’t. The Danvers didn’t push and I just joined in on their traditions… it felt easier that way… But now…” Kara said slowly, dragging out those last two words as she moved her jaw from side to side; Percy’s eyes honed in on how tightly Kara was gripping her biceps, her knuckles turning white as she dug her fingers deeply into her own skin. I’m starting to forget the words to the prayers… to my mother’s favourite song… I’m starting to forget…” Kara’s gaze moved to meet Percy’s stare, her expression blank and disconsolate, “and once I forget it will all be lost forever…”
8 Weeks Earlier
Kara walked tentatively into the foyer of Lena’s house, more nervous than she had ever been before, which was unusual considering she had lost count of the number of times she had strolled into Lena’s house.
(She had also stayed over in Lena’s bed more times than either would admit to each other or themselves.)
Kara lingered uncertainly as Lena leaned past her to close the front door leaving them in silence, illuminated only by the lamp nearby.
Lena smoothed her hands down the front of her dress, removing the wrinkles that had appeared thanks to Kara’s wandering hands earlier.
Kara swallowed thickly, her skin goose-pimpling despite the warmth in the house; she felt like she was balancing on a knife’s edge whilst holding onto a high voltage electrical wire that was shocking her at irregular intervals. After what could have been a couple of seconds or an entire lifetime, Lena looked up and met Kara’s eyes.
Lena let out a shaky breath and took a small step forward, Kara instinctively reached out and put her hands on Lena’s hips gently pulling her that little bit closer so their hips were against one another. Kara’s nose traced against Lena’s forehead whilst Lena’s lips brushed against the skin right by Kara’s ear.
“Do you want to slow down?” Lena breathed out softly, her fingers pitter-pattering carefully up Kara’s sides and down again.
Kara’s heart squeezed at the consideration of the question, knowing without a doubt that if she even slightly indicated the desire to pull back, to slow things down Lena would acquiesce (she’d probably already mentally picked out the films she would make them sit and watch, easily transferring it into any other best friend movie night). Kara’s hands instantly slipped from Lena’s hips so that they were flat against Lena’s back as she chuckled shyly and admitted, her cheeks heating up with warmth, “That is the exact opposite of what I want to do.”
“Oh…” Lena murmured in pleasant surprise, leaning backwards to meet blue eyes; Kara’s attention, however, was immediately drawn to Lena’s delicious bottom lip that she was biting seductively on. “Well, how about-”
Kara didn’t let Lena finish whatever she was about to suggest, for once (just once in her life) Kara allowed herself to loosen up her tightly-bound control. Kara dived forward and re-connected their lips, initiating a searing kiss from the offset and earning her a wonderful whimper of excitement that had Kara tightening her arms around Lena and lifting her into the air.
Lena’s legs wrapped around Kara’s waist, the hem of her dress pushing up and exposing miles of creamy skin for Kara to settle her hands on and explore. Lena bit mischievously on Kara’s lip before sucking away any potential pain (even Supergirl’s legs of steel shuddered at that particular Luthor action) and then moving on to litter the remnants of her ruby red lipstick all over Kara’s neck and collarbone.
“Upstairs?” Lena panted between placing kisses onto Kara’s warm neck.
“Uh huh…”, Kara mumbled in agreement, nodding her head vigorously before making use of her superspeed to ensure they were safely ensconced in Lena’s bedroom a mere second later.
Kara tenderly deposited Lena onto the light blue, highest thread count sheets imaginable and took a few steadying breaths in a vain attempt to bring her thundering, hummingbird-esque heart under control.
“Okay, superspeed…” Lena whistled appreciatively as she reached out to turn on the light on the bedside table, “major turn on.”
“Yeah?” Kara inquired, her head tilting to the side adorably as she took the time to memorise the image of Lena laid out on her bed, dark hair spread out and green eyes dark and inviting.
“Definitely.” Lena assured, clicking her tongue to drag Kara’s attention down to her mouth. Kara blushed uncomfortably at the comment, shifting from foot to foot.
Lena instantly sat upright and reached for one of Kara’s hands, intertwining their fingers and guiding Kara to sit beside her. Kara squirmed uncertainly under the sudden softness and change in atmosphere from passionate with a hint of desperate need and desire to soft, fond and loving (something that had been there between the two women since the conception of their friendship). Lena used her free hand to tuck a loose lock of blonde hair behind Kara’s ear before she tenderly plucked Kara’s glasses off her face and setting them to one side.
“Kara,” Lena murmured, cupping Kara’s cheek and pressing a sweet kiss to the crease between her eyebrows. “I love everything about you…” Lena breathed, her green eyes were filled with affection intermingled with sympathetic sorrow as she added, “even the things you might not like…”
Kara inhaled sharply, her throat feeling constricted by some unknown force, and her very soul feeling exposed and visible in a way it had never felt before, “I don’t…” Kara started to deny but her words failed her as green eyes watched her intensely. Kara shook her head and forced a bright smile onto her face as she raised a coy eyebrow at the raven-haired woman, “Weren’t we in the middle of something?” Lena sighed heavily, but smiled warmly in return making Kara’s smile more genuine. Kara ducked her head forward and picked back up where they left off.
With the utmost care, Kara lowered Lena down and held herself up over Lena with her forearm on one side and kept herself balanced with a light hold on Lena’s hip with her other hand. Lena’s kisses were sweet and delicate in contrast to the passionate ferocity of before, as if she was giving each movement of her lips great consideration to maximise the pleasure for Kara whilst also ensuring Kara knew without a flicker of doubt that Lena loved and cherished her.
“Lena…” Kara exhaled reverently, unable to formulate an appropriate response to the sheer love Lena’s every action exuded.
“You are so beautiful…” Lena murmured directly into Kara’s ear causing a shiver of excitement to race down the blonde’s body and a light pink blush to take over her cheeks. “Especially when you blush…” Lena declared, the smirk obvious in her voice as she dragged her lips along Kara’s cheek and back to her lips, re-engaging in their trade off of kisses as if nothing had happened.
Lena’s hands, that were free to roam, began to tease a path from just below Kara’s jaw to down her neck, the tips of her fingers stealing beneath the straps of Kara’s dress and stopping there, the request for permission obvious.
“Will you take this off?” Lena inquired seriously, pulling away from Kara’s lips to ensure she could fully scrutinise Kara’s face for even a hint of hesitation.
Kara took a deep breath and gathered her courage, focusing on the darkness of Lena’s eyes that revealed the depths of her desire counterbalanced with the lovingness of Lena’s interactions. Kara nodded once firmly, planning on the ‘rip-off the band-aid’ approach.
“Umm… sure…”, Kara agreed, rolling away from Lena and hurriedly getting to her feet intent on super speeding out of her dress and returning to making Lena the centre of attention.
“Kara?” Lena called out leading Kara to freeze on the spot.
“Hmmm…”, Kara hummed, trying too hard to appear casual.
Lena rolled so she was laying on her side, head resting on the palm of her hand and elbow supporting her. Green eyes roved over Kara’s body, starting from her feet right up to shy blue eyes. “Don’t rush, please?” Lena pleaded (Kara’s entire being trembled at pulling something akin to begging from the powerful CEO).
“Okay…” Kara agreed; despite her incomparable strength she was not able to deny Lena anything.
Kara ducked her gaze and focused on the actions required to strip herself bare. The nerves that came with knowing she was being watched increased with each passing second until without even consciously thinking about it, Kara began listening to Lena’s heart.
Lena’s heart was fast but steady, until Kara finally managed to unzip her dress and slowly pull it down and off her body. With the reveal of every new bit of skin, Lena’s heart stuttered and sped up with excitement. The nerves that had been thrumming through Kara steadied and vanished under the familiar and reassuring sounds of Lena’s heart.
Once there was a small pile of clothing at her feet, Kara made the most of her growing courage to keep herself from covering her body with her hands and finally looking up to meet Lena’s gaze. Kara’s breath caught in her throat at the sight.
Lena was flushed, her eyes dark yet endlessly affectionate and she was smiling so proudly at Kara that Kara’s heart fluttered with joy in response.
“Come here.” Lena encouraged, scooting gracefully backwards so that there was a clear space for Kara on her usual side of the bed (it was only then that Kara acknowledged that she did have a usual side of the bed and all the implications of that which she should have realised long ago).
Kara settled next to Lena, their positions mirror images of each other. Lena’s eyes greedily swept over Kara causing Kara to blush under the fond attention. When their gazes met and locked, there was a long second of silence and stillness, both aware that the next moment would be the point of no return.
Kara knew that if she gave herself to Lena - that would be it.
There would be no going back. No one else would follow. Lena was it for her forever, had been for a while, but this would seal the deal. Make it permanent. Etch it into Kara’s very skin for all of time.
Nothing happened for one second as they both considered the new reality they would be creating for themselves.
Then they both smiled.
And everything happened.
Lena was underneath Kara, finally free of the red dress that had been taunting Kara for the entire night. Pale, ethereal skin entranced Kara, leading her fingers to shake with a heady mix of fear and need as she felt utterly intimidated and overwhelmed by the fragile beauty laid out before her.
Lena, who’s hands been exploring excitedly, slowed down her movement and leaned away, her lips separating from where they had taken up residence on Kara’s neck. Dark green eyes studied Kara closely as the blonde nibbled worriedly on her bottom lip.
“Lena, I-” Kara choked out, her skin tingling and burning as she felt unnaturally at odds with herself. “Umm…”
“What is it?” Lena encouraged softly, tucking a lock of blonde hair behind Kara’s ear so that her blue eyes weren’t hidden from view. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m just…” Kara huffed, glancing to her left and wincing upon seeing where her fingers had dug easily into the mattress, ripping through the sheets and leaving a fist sized hole in its wake.
She hadn’t even noticed.
Hadn’t even felt it.
“Struggling to…” Kara murmured, trailing off into a bleak silence.
Kara made to move, made to get up and put some distance between her and Lena. Safe distance.
Upon the merest shift of weight, Lena’s hand shot out and wrapped gently around Kara’s bicep, a light plea to keep her in place. “To?” Lena prompted, though when Kara looked up she caught a glimpse of knowing, understanding green eyes.
Kara considered lying, considered for a fleeting moment trying to throw out a weak excuse and pulling away from the woman she loved. If it would only have broken her own heart Kara would have done it in a heartbeat... but it would hurt Lena.
To this day, Kara was still haunted by the twisted expression of hurt and disappointment (prior to her telling Lena about being Supergirl) that used to flicker onto Lena’s face for less than a second when she made up a rushed excuse to explain her need to suddenly disappear.
Kara couldn’t bear to add another memory to that pile. To cause Lena hurt in anyway.
“I don’t know if I can control myself…”, Kara admitted, ducking her head and scrunching her eyes up to reduce the sting of building tears.
“Your strength?” Lena checked, her hand slipping from Kara’s bicep and round to the back of Kara’s neck, which she squeezed affectionately, her thumb stroking back and forth.
“I don’t know if I can regulate myself… especially… especially when it’s you…” Kara breathed, her palms flat on the mattress on either side of Lena’s body, her muscles tense to prevent any chance of her strength being used.
“Kara…” Lena queried, curling up comfortably underneath Kara’s rigid form as she soothed the hero’s body with soft caresses, “have you ever slept with a human before?”
“No…” Kara confessed quietly, shifting her weight again ready to move away, her eyes already scanning the room to confirm where she’d left her clothes, prepared to make a mad dash out of Lena’s bedroom whilst mentally started to come up with a million ways to heal her heart that would inevitably break the second she moved away from Lena’s warmth. “I… I… I understand if you-”
“Shhh… stop right there.” Lena demanded sternly, her hands cupping Kara’s face and guiding Kara to meet her gaze and hold her there. “Do you want this?”
Kara’s breath caught in her throat, her heartbeat skyrocketing as she stared at Lena’s earnest expression, “Umm…”
“Kara, do you want this?” Lena repeated, her voice firm and clear.
“Yes…” Kara whispered, her head nodding up and down only a fraction or so either way, afraid even now of her strength with Lena’s hands on her, “more than anything.”
Lena pursed her lips thoughtfully, her hands moving to comb through Kara’s hair, intermittently scratching her scalp, “Okay… I have an idea…” Lena muttered, as Kara finally felt herself start to loosen up again, going pliable under Lena’s affection. “Do you trust me?”
“Of course.” Kara replied without even a hint of hesitation.
“Okay.” Lena smiled, and with the lightest push she encouraged Kara to roll onto her back. Once Kara was situated beside her, Lena shifted position moving to straddle Kara. “Kara?”
“Yeah?” Kara gulped out, her hands twitching by her sides as she focused on keeping them flat and still.
Lena bent down and kissed Kara sweetly, Kara’s heart skipping a beat in response, “If you don’t feel even remotely comfortable, say stop, okay? And I will.” Lena promised, her lips brushing against Kara’s.
“I know.” Kara assured.
Lena pulled back and reached out to take Kara’s hands, “Put your hands here.” Lena requested, she kissed the palm of each hand before positioning them where she wanted. One hand on Lena’s hip, the other just under her breast right above her thrumming heart. “Listen to this and focus only on this rhythm, okay?”
“Okay.” Kara nodded, the shakes and trembles subsiding as she attuned herself solely to Lena.
Lena beamed proudly at Kara, her green eyes shining with adoration as her bright smile transformed into a heart-racing smirk. “Now just relax and let me show you how much I love you.”
“Lena, that was…” Kara gasped, feeling equal parts heavy and light, on edge and relaxed, desperate for more and yet also satisfied in a way she had never been before.
“Hmm?” Lena hummed, practically radiating out smugness and satisfaction as she bit playfully at Kara’s earlobe causing the blonde’s legs to twitch in anticipation.
“Everything.” Kara revealed, swallowing thickly as she wiped away at the dried tear tracks that marked her face even though Lena had carefully caught every tear that fell and kissed the path they had taken down Kara’s cheeks. “It was everything.”
Lena cupped Kara’s face as she leaned forward to rest their foreheads against each other. “It was everything to me too.”
Kara’s heart stuttered in her chest, filled with so much love that she could barely contain it. She had to let it out. She was thrumming with the need to let it out. For Lena to feel how she felt, to return everything that Lena had shared with her.
“Can I… May I…” Kara stammered out, reaching out to lightly trace Lena’s warm side with her fingertips, enraptured by how just the lightest touch caused a visible trail of goose-bumps and a noticeable shudder to run down Lena’s body.
“Anything, Kara. I’m all yours.” Lena responded, sliding even closer to Kara as if to occupy the same space.
“Forever?” Kara asked before she had the chance to stop herself. The desire and question had popped into her mind and slipped out of her mouth before she had any chance to filter herself. Instantly, Kara went rigid and the heavy silence that followed felt crushing in a way that a skyscraper falling down on her never could.
Lena pulled away, giving Kara her first chance to assess Lena’s expression. The fear that had followed Kara’s question evaporated immediately at what she saw. Lena’s mouth was agape, her brows up in surprise and her green eyes were wide with sheer wonderment and love.
“If you’ll have me…” Lena croaked out, a shy, tremulous smile illuminating her features.
“I… uh…”, Kara began, fidgeting with her glasses as she stood in the doorway, the late morning sun warming her back as Lena leaned against the door-frame, dressed only in a silk green dressing gown and a pleased smirk that had been fixed in place since they had both stumbled out of bed seeking sustenance. (Lena had cooked up an entire IHOP’s worth of pancakes much to Kara’s delight.)
“How about...” Lena started to offer, swaying forward into Kara’s space and stealing a quick kiss that had Kara’s eyes closing instinctively, “a movie night later? After you’ve finished off that article.”
“You really want to see me again that soon?” Kara asked, trying to keep her tone as light and teasing as Lena’s had been, but she knew she probably hadn’t hid her eagerness that well.
“Yup.” Lena popped, tapping a finger against Kara’s collarbone as she shuffled forward so she could kiss the underside of Kara’s jaw. “See, I really want to tell my best friend all about this amazing date I went on…”
“Yeah,” Lena repeated, biting lightly before pulling back to grin at Kara, cocking an eyebrow which made Kara feel weak in a truly delightful way. “Best date ever.”
“Rao, I love you.” Kara breathed out, wrapping her arms around Lena and pulling the slightly shorter woman tightly against her.
“I love you too.”
“I’ll be back soon.” Kara promised before stepping back, knowing that if she didn’t, she would probably never leave.
“You better.” Lena ordered, diving forward to kiss Kara’s cheek once more before stepping back fully into her house and only closing the door once Kara had started to walk down the path with a dreamy expression.
Today was going to be a good day.
Today was going to be the best day.
A few things just to so the story makes sense:
1) In this fic, the Argo storyline never happened. Kara is still the last Kryptonian alongside Clark.
2) Kara has a human life-span. I know this is not canon, but this a fanfiction so I can pick what parts I want. There are a couple of reasons why I have chosen to do this. Firstly, I find Kara's extra long lifespan the absolute saddest thing about her (this is just my personal opinion, please don't be mad at me). She lost her planet, everything she knows and loves and will eventually have to go through that all again because she will outlive everyone she knows and loves. Therefore, every Supergirl fanfic I write, is written as if Kara has a human lifespan (that's just how I view it) unless I explicitly state in the fic otherwise. Secondly, I do not think I am in any way a good enough writer to tackle how Kara would cope with her long life-span especially in a therapy fic where this would inevitably be something that needs to be addressed...
Alright that's it... enjoy! I have written the next six or so chapters and I am hoping to update every two or three days from now until this fic is finished. So you should (unless life throws me through a loop) be getting regular updates from now on for this fic. :)
"When did you decide to become Supergirl?" Percy’s question was direct and sudden.
He knew Supergirl was the subject Kara was currently the most sensitive about. It was the surface wound that had captured all of her attention. It was fresh and the pain of it was seared into Kara’s recent memory. The other topics were deeper injuries, buried and hidden but malformed and susceptible to infection. Kara pushed them down, and repeated to herself their irrelevance.
It had been confusing and painful for Kara to be reminded of them but the agony they had caused and could potentially inflict had been lost to long-gone memories and half self-truths.
Percy knew the shift to more current trauma, however, would cause a stronger reaction. He considered being soft and explorative of the issue but he could tell Kara’s frustration was simmering away and was close to the boil.
"I didn't decide… not really. It just kind of happened…" Kara sneered in answer, her fingers curling and uncurling into fists on her knees.
If Percy hadn’t spent nearly two hours getting to know this woman and only knew her to be Supergirl, he may have felt slightly intimidated but now, he had to work to keep the sympathetic expression off his face and maintain a newly adopted clinically detached gaze.
It wasn’t that he wanted to see Kara break.
Or push her buttons unnecessarily.
Percy could tell that there was an emotional outburst bubbling below the surface, words clawing to escape that the blonde was struggling to hold in and he wanted to give her a safe environment to do so. The last two hours had been about proving he could listen, that she could share without judgement. Kara had bottled up so much and had begun to believe that every time she let out her true feelings it adversely affected those she loved. Percy wanted to help her regain and trust in her own voice again.
Trust that she had so obviously lost the night she was loaded into a pod and sent away from her home, made to believe that her surviving and watching everyone she’d ever known perish was a gift that she should only be thankful for.
But first, Percy had to get her to speak.
The trust would come next.
“How can dressing up in a specially designed suit for yourself everyday… just kind of happen?” Percy prompted, his tone becoming more of a disinterested drawl which had the desired impact of causing Kara to bristle.
“Obviously, that part wasn’t…” Kara snapped in return.
Percy merely arched an eyebrow at her, inviting her to explain further.
“My sister’s plane was crashing.” Kara said simply.
“I see.” Percy commented simply; he had done his research, there was a number of theories that suggested that the plane that narrowly avoided crashing into National City was the very first save performed by Supergirl, but without the iconic costume and only a dark blur to go on this had never been proven and as such had become a topic of heated debate on a number of the ‘SuperFan’ websites Percy had trawled through.
“What was I supposed to do?” Kara asked bitterly. “Nothing?”
The heavy silence that followed after that single weighty word made the echo of the unspoken ‘again’ that wanted to follow it, abundantly apparent.
“It was my sister, I had to save her.” Kara murmured to herself, and Percy wondered how often she had repeated this mantra to herself since that day.
“What about everyone else?” Percy pushed unrelentingly.
Kara’s brow furrowed in confusion, “Everyone else?”
“You saved your sister because she was your sister.” Percy reasoned slowly. “Why did you save everyone else after that?”
Kara’s jaw clenched and Percy could see her holding back the truth, holding back the real answer.
“Why put on the suit after that? Why become Supergirl?” Percy leant forward in his armchair and tapped his pen expectantly against his notepad.
Kara’s jaw worked as she struggled to find the answer - or an answer she was willing to give - as her foot tapped unwittingly along to the rhythm that Percy’s pen dictated.
“I wanted to help people.” Kara announced, her chin lifting in defiance, daring Percy to question the strength of her reason.
“Admirable.” Percy accepted with a purposefully dismissive click of his tongue. “Why did you want to help people?”
Kara's eyes scrunched up at the edges as she looked at Percy suspiciously. “I had powers and it was the right thing to do.” She said slowly, as if the answer should have been obvious.
Percy nodded acceptingly at the answer before stopping the tap of his pen without warning, the silence it’s absence left was weighty. “Why not earlier, then?”
“Earlier?” Kara jerked in place, her tapping foot stuttering to a disjointed halt.
“Why did your sister’s near death encourage you to finally become Supergirl?” Percy clarified, meeting Kara’s cold blue eyes with a matching stare.
“It was the first time I used my powers to help. I could see the difference I could make. I had been asked to hide for so long and when I realised I could help…” Kara explained, crossing her arms defensively over her chest, “I knew what the right thing to do was.”
“Nice…” Percy whistled appreciatively, smirking knowingly at the blonde before he stated clearly, “But complete and total bullshit.”
The simmering anger vanished momentarily as Kara was so taken aback by the swear and the harshness of her previously very polite and soft-spoken therapist. “Excuse me?” Kara squeaked, utterly affronted.
Percy’s smirk broadened as he settled comfortably back in his armchair. “You heard me. Bull. Shit.” He repeated, enunciating the two words. “Why did you put on the suit?” Percy asked again as Kara tried to reclaim her emotions and control.
“You… I don’t…” Kara stammered, breaking the visage fully and revealing a scared, exposed young woman who was grappling between honesty and denial.
Percy knew Kara wouldn’t choose honesty.
She would deflect and divert.
She would return to the largest surface injury and push down on it.
“Why are we talking about this?!" Kara demanded, her volume drastically increasing as the simmering anger not just returned but consumed her. "This doesn't matter! It's not why I'm here. This has nothing to do with what happened!” Kara shouted, springing to her feet with such ferocity and strength that it caused the very floor to shake. “You're avoiding it!" Kara accused, her mouth contorting into the vicious snarl of a wounded animal.
"It?" Percy prompted, totally unaffected by the display before him.
"What happened eight weeks ago!” Kara spat in answer. “You're not asking the real question."
Percy shrugged helplessly. "If you want to talk about that we can. These are your sessions." Percy offered, totally nonchalant as he innocently asked as if he genuinely didn’t know, "What happened eight weeks ago?"
Kara straightened up, eyes burning with pure hatred.
But not for Percy.
Not for the session or the questions.
But for herself.
"I obliterated my life." Kara said, her voice suddenly cold and hard. She was quieter now. The anger turning ice cold with self-loathing. "You're still not asking the real question."
Percy sighed sadly, and adjusted the collar of his shirt before looking up into tortured blue eyes as he asked the question she had been waiting for since revealing her true identity.
"Why? Why did you do it?”
Kara’s posture deflated just a little bit, it was barely noticeable but the shaky exhale of tension escaping gave her away. Kara blinked rapidly to dispel the angry tears that had been gathering.
"When you did your research about kryptonians,” Kara murmured, her tone soft and resigned, “did you come across our weakness by any chance?"
Percy arched a curious eyebrow at her, uncertain where this was going, "Yes. Kryptonite."
"Yes." Percy confirmed.
A dark, twisted curl of Kara’s lips took over her face. Some might describe it as a smile but it was too cruel to be called such. "What do you know of red kryptonite?"
4 Weeks Earlier
Kara opened her eyes gradually, the bright light directly above her causing her eyelids to flutter closed again and her already aching head to stab with pain.
Despite all that, upon reflection, Kara would view this moment, these handful of seconds between unconscious and awake, the happiest she would have over the next few weeks. It was in this knife-edge moment that Kara didn’t remember everything that had happened.
Everything that she had said.
Everything that she had done.
Everyone that she had hurt.
At this moment she was just Kara, waking up from a long nap to a fuzzy head and aching body.
She was just Kara. As she had always been. As she was used to.
And then… without warning she lost it all.
The once stable ground upon which she stood, disappeared from beneath her feet. She realised that it wasn’t solid earth that she had built herself up from and defined her very being. It was sand. Sand that was whipped away and disintegrated as the wave upon wave of memories crashed against her. Leaving behind nothing but the hint of footprints where she once stood.
The anguished howl that ripped from her throat echoed around the room reverberating back to Kara in an endless feedback loop of loss. The sobs wracked her body in a way that no fight ever could.
Kara immediately tried to curl up into the foetal position to shelter herself and hide her shame and sorrow but she was prevented from doing so by the heavy restraints that were locked around her ankles and wrists. Kara wanted to strain against the resistance, wanted to break free and fully wrap her arms around herself but she felt so weak and so scared of destroying so much as one more thing that she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
Kara didn’t know how long she released her torment for, she was trapped in a hell of her own creation, endlessly reliving the hurt she had doled out. She was struggling to get air into her lungs. And the pain in her head was only eclipsed by the hollowness in her chest.
“Kara, it’s okay. It’s okay.”
Kara had been so lost to her own grief that she wasn’t immediately aware of her sister’s presence.
Alex was standing by the side of her bed, one hand on Kara’s forehead, running gentle fingers through Kara’s golden locks whilst her other hand was lightly placed on Kara’s arm, primed to pull back for her own safety since her sister’s powers were clearly untamed. She was murmuring soothing statements and whispering reassurances in Kara’s ear.
“Just breathe, Kara.” Alex encouraged.
Kara latched onto the order. The desire to do as she was told, to make things right overwhelmed her and she forced much needed air into her lungs not for her own benefit but to prove something to her sister.
“Well done. That’s it. Just keep breathing.” Alex continued to soothe.
Kara flinched at the praise, feeling so unworthy of it, but not strong enough to turn away from the kindness and love that her sister was offering. Kara sucked in shaky breath after shaky breath as Alex remained by her side with gentle words and comforting touches.
The light-headedness began to clear but the emptiness in her chest became deadweight.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s all going to be okay…” Alex repeated this mantra over and over again, even when Kara’s sobs had finally quietened to mere stutters. Even when Kara’s tense limbs became slack. Even when the light slowly dimmed from her blue eyes.
“No, it won’t.” Kara whispered; her voice cracking and barely audible.
Alex shifted to better peer down at Kara’s face, finally allowing Kara an unimpeded view of her sister.
Alex’s left eye was swollen and surrounded by dark blue bruises, her lip was split and her face was haggard with exhaustion. Her expression though was filled with pity and heartbreak.
“Of course, it will.” Alex rejected decisively. “I know it seems bad right now, but-”
“No.” Kara cut in weakly, empty blue eyes sought her sister’s visible brown one, “I’m done, Alex. I’m done.” Kara muttered, before turning her head and shifting her body away from her sister and the forgiveness, love and acceptance she was offering that Kara did not believe she deserved.
Kara hadn’t spoken since her definitive ‘I’m done’.
Alex had used her authority as director to get Kara unbound, had tried desperately to get Kara to look at her, to acknowledge her but Kara had receded so far into darkness and her own tumultuous thoughts that it was like she couldn’t even see Alex anymore.
Kara had lain in that bed, unmoving and unreactive for twenty-four hours. Alex and Brainy had spent the entire time studying her and trying to get her to react to their presence. Eliza was there too, overseeing everything and murmuring soft words to her adoptive daughter.
She refused to eat so her family was forced to hook her up to an IV and increase the intensity of the sunlamps she was under.
Kara’s powers were fluctuating uncontrollably, she didn’t trust her strength even remotely and she would feel the occasional flashes of heat in her eyes whenever she replayed particularly horrible memories in her mind.
The worst one was her hearing though.
She could mitigate the impact of her strength by not moving. She could close her eyes when she felt the fire in her vision. But her hearing?
That couldn’t be stopped.
It was overwhelming and constant.
She could hear the footsteps of the agents as they patrolled the corridors on the other side of the building.
She could hear the minute tap of fingers against touchscreens.
She could hear the hushed discussions between her friends and family.
Eliza and Kelly were pushing for Kara to be taken back to Midvale so that she could recover with the support of family and away from the intensity of National City.
J’onn and Brainy thought it would be prudent to keep Kara at the DEO, or at least in National City, until they were confident she was back in control of her abilities.
Alex, surprisingly, was silent - the undecided left to cast their vote.
(Kara tried hard not to think about the two missing people who should also have been there to give their opinion).
Alex was with her so much that Kelly and Eliza had insisted on bringing a cot in for Alex to rest on, it was obvious that Alex was running on fumes, had foregone sleep for who knows how long and was close to crashing. It was in the early hours of the morning when everything had gone quiet and Alex was finally asleep nearby like the protective older sister she had always lived up to being.
It wasn’t dead silence.
There were still stirrings and movements from the night shift of agents. But it was quieter.
Kara could think at last.
Could hear her own thoughts over the external sounds with greater clarity. The darkness took the lull in noise and surged for domination.
You can’t be trusted.
You don’t deserve their forgiveness.
You’re not safe.
You’re going to hurt them again.
Guilt, shame and self-loathing washed endlessly through her. Kara couldn’t stay here, not in this room, not lovingly watched over by her big sister that had sacrificed so much for her... only for Kara to…
Kara heard Alex jerking awake, roused by the rush of air that ruffled her blanket and the violent shakes to the ground that would have her instantly on high alert. Kara knew that Alex would be on her feet as fast as humanly possible and her sisterly instinct would direct her to check on Kara above all else.
The bed was empty.
The alarm was raised only a handful of seconds later - Alex quick to action and taking up directing the search.
It was Brainy that found her less than ten minutes later, locked in the darkest cell the DEO had.
Kara wasn’t surprised that it was him that figured it out, he knew what it was like to be faced with your inner demons, to know what a monstrous version of yourself was truly capable of. He had nodded at her once in understanding before going to call off the search party.
That was how many pock-marks there were on the grey wall of the cell that Kara was staring at.
She had counted them all on each wall twice. The wall with 3,291 was her favourite, there were a number of constellations that she could make distinct shapes out of.
It had been three days since Kara had woken up strapped to a bed in the DEO medical ward utterly devastated by her actions during her exposure to red kryptonite, and 2 days since she had put herself in one of the DEO cells.
Kara’s friends and family had created a schedule to ensure she was never alone. They alternated sitting either just inside the cell with her or outside, back against the wall through the open cell door that Alex had insisted be kept open, not wanting her sister to believe for even a second that she would allow her to be locked away. Kara wished the door closed with every fibre of her being. She wished they turned out the lights and left her to her darkness and despair.
That morning it was Eliza’s turn. Kara’s adoptive mother would spend the time talking Kara through the analysis of the red kryptonite that Kara had been infected with, the biological mechanisms it had affected, how the cure had counterbalanced this impact and eliminated the kryptonite from her system. Eliza resorted to science and tried to give Kara answers to questions she had no interest in knowing.
She didn’t care about the underpinning technical aspects.
She didn’t care how it had happened.
After Eliza had gently taken her through the key differences between red and green kryptonite, her adoptive mother’s voice faded out and a heavy silence settled between them. Kara purposefully had her back to her mother so as not to invite any attempts at a two way conversation but could feel her mother’s assessing gaze on her back.
“I know Alex has already told you this, but…” Eliza soothed, “it wasn’t your fault. No one blames you for what happened.”
Kara ignored her and simply restarted her count of the marks on the walls.
“Kara?” Eliza called out gently.
Kara could sense that Eliza had reached out to her. Eliza’s hand hovering just shy of brushing Kara’s stiff, hunched over shoulders for a long few beats before dropping back to her side.
“Say something.” Eliza pleaded.
Kara barely heard the request; she was already on mark 343.
Kelly was next up, “I sent Alex home to get some sleep. I promised I would sit with you until she got back.” Kara probably would have liked Kelly’s company the best if the wary, skeptical part of her brain wasn’t murmuring that Kelly was trying to psychologically analyse her. Kelly gave Kara space, and always said what she was going to do before she did it, which Kara appreciated due to her overly sensitive hearing.
“She loves you, we all do. We are all here for you.” Kelly would remind Kara before leaving, her voice sincere. “There’s people who can help you; they are ready and waiting, just give the word.”
Oddly enough, it was Brainy’s company that Kara appreciated the most. Brainy on his shift had set a chair just outside her cell door, looked Kara straight in the eye and said seriously. “I understand.” He then sat down and remained silent, giving Kara companionable silence. “It gets better.” Brainy promised at the end of his shift.
Kara almost believed him.
Kara had been in her cell for a week when she saw someone different.
Kara was sat on the hard bed in the cell staring, unseeingly at nothing in particular awaiting J’onn’s arrival for his shift when a smaller figure appeared in the doorway instead finally pulling Kara away from her deep introspection to stare in wide-eyed, terrified shock at the dark haired woman who had come to visit her.
Nia’s right arm was in a purple cast and she was dressed down in baggy clothes presumably to limit the irritation to her broken ribs. Other than that though, Nia looked strong and determined. She was standing up to her full height, her expression assessing but her dark eyes so unbearably soft that Kara wanted to squirm away and hide under her bed.
“I forgive you.” Nia whispered, and Kara’s heart clenched in her chest. She couldn’t bear to face Nia for a second longer, her gaze moving away from the doorway to stare fiercely at the opposite wall. Nia walked slowly and settled next to Kara on the bed. She was silent for a long moment, obviously considering the best approach.
“How about we talk about something a bit lighter?” Nia offered sweetly.
Kara bit her bottom lip, wanting just that more than anything else but not feeling like she deserved to have it.
Nia though recognised Kara’s want and instantly began talking about a minor dispute she was having with another co-worker over office supplies that had escalated into a passive-aggressive post-it note war.
“Mum has your old room set-up for you.” Alex explained, as she paced up and down Kara’s cell. Alex had cajoled, argued, begged and pleaded to get Kara to leave the DEO cell, all to no effect.
Kara had no intention of leaving and she made her position clear by not speaking a single word.
Alex’s new tactic was simply to pretend that Kara had agreed to leave and that the only thing left to decide was where Kara was going next.
“The beach, the forests… all that fresh air would do you good.” Alex reasoned, “Or you’re more than welcome to stay with me and Kelly. It’s completely your choice.” Alex repeated for what was the hundredth time since she’d walked into Kara’s cell. “We could make up the guest room for you, I could take some time off work. Think of how much netflix we would get through. Or we could-”
“Is she alive?” Kara asked despondently, her voice raw and rough from disuse, and refusing to so much as glance at her sister.
Alex came to a sudden, jarring stop as she stared at her sister dumbfoundedly, “Kara?”
“Is she alive?” Kara repeated, tears breaking free and sliding steadily down her cheeks. The blonde made no effort to wipe them away.
Alex carefully knelt down in front of her, tentatively reaching out to rest her hands on Kara’s shoulders and ducking her head to try and make eye contact.
“Of course she is.” Alex breathed fervently, her brown eyes shining with sympathy. Alex used a hand to softly wipe away the tears from Kara’s cheeks, “Lena wants to be here but the hospital-”
“She can’t see me.” Kara stated, finally meeting Alex’s gaze, her blue eyes cold and dark.
Alex’s brow furrowed with confusion and surprise. “Kara-”
“She can’t see me!” Kara repeated, her jaw clenched and her hands curling into fists to restrain her strength. “Promise me, Alex.”
Alex’s mouth opened and closed, her brown eyes flitting between the harsh set to Kara’s mouth and the tears trickling down her cheeks. “No.” Alex murmured gently.
“No.” Alex declared with a firm shake of her head, pulling away from Kara and getting to her feet. At last, Alex looked angry, veering towards furious. Her face had gone pale, and her nostrils were flaring with barely suppressed rage. “The only thing she has asked for since waking up is to see you .” Alex revealed, “The reason we are all here at the DEO and not splitting ourselves between the hospital and here is because she ordered us to be here with you.”
Kara stared resolutely at the floor, her heart pounding painfully in her chest.
“I am not sending her away.” Alex announced defiantly, “She gets released from the hospital tomorrow, Mum is picking her up and bringing her here first thing in the morning. It’s the only thing Lena has asked for and after everything… I won’t deny her that.” Alex exhaled out a shaky breath and when she spoke again her voice was soft, “She loves you, Kara.” Alex reassured, “She loves you. Nothing will change that.”
The next morning Kara's cell was empty.
Three Weeks Earlier
The last time Kara had seen her apartment, it had been transformed by a red kryptonite infused version of herself who had sneered at the space she called her home. Viewing it as beneath her. Unworthy to be an abode of Earth’s most powerful being.
The door to Kara’s apartment had been barely still in place, hanging by a single hinge. One of the large windows had been shattered into jagged pieces and sharp shards that sprinked the floor of her living room like deadly confetti. Clothes had been strewn all over the floor, leaking from her partitioned bedroom into her living space, some of her favourite pieces burnt through by dismissive heat vision as they had been thrown aside in a bid to find more appropriate clothing for her ‘true’ self. The kitchen had been just as big a disaster. Food that didn’t live up to standard had been heaped onto the floor, plates and glasses had been used in a childish display of power target practice.
As such Kara was expecting, upon sneaking out of the DEO in the early hours of the morning once Brainy had fallen asleep, to return to a dilapted home that she felt would match her current state of being. She was therefore taken aback to find her apartment door replaced by a sturdy new one that didn’t crumple and bend to Kara’s fluctuating powers as a non-reinforced door would be expected to do. Upon entering, Kara found herself a strange mix of surprised, confused, heartened and disappointed, to find the damage she had wreaked had been completely cleaned up.
Not only had the broken window been replaced but as had all the windows, Kara realised upon closer inspection, with something stronger than standard bulletproof glass.
The unsalvageable clothes and other untended rubbish had been removed. Kara’s wardrobe had been re-organised and the clothes she had destroyed replaced with near identical, but slightly higher quality, equivalents.
The kitchen had been restored back to its previous level of cleanliness and the fridge and freezer stocked with some of Kara’s favourite foods.
The thoughtfulness and expense behind the work that had gone into returning Kara’s home to an even better state than it had been in before could have only been due to one person.
Kara felt sick to the stomach at the realisation that… despite everything… despite the pain, the hurt and the cruelty she had inflicted on her… Lena was still looking out for her.
Fixing her mistakes.
It was still dark outside, but the streetlights and the cold light of the moon still felt too bright for the child of the sun. Kara covered the windows, blocking out every bit of light and leaving her in the dark grey before she locked her apartment door and curled up in her bed, giving herself over to the undertow of her thoughts that pulled her deeper into darkness without a second thought.
Kara didn’t leave her apartment.
Didn’t step outside once.
Didn’t open the curtains and let in even a fraction of the light.
She deprived herself of the source of her power as much as possible, hating the way her skin used to thrum with energy under the warmth of the sun. How her powers would bubble excitedly under her skin, begging like a small child at a toy shop for permission to be unleashed.
She hated her powers. How they fluctuated out of her control. How they had the potential to destroy and eviscerate so much life and beauty without her having to even break a sweat.
She spent the first week back in her apartment in bed. She didn’t sleep, not really. She was listless, a step above catatonic.
It was like she was in a warped bubble, sealed in with her own swirling thoughts reliving her terrible actions over and over again. On an endless loop. All Kara could do was lie there and take it. Trying to do anything else was draining, but not draining enough to let her sleep.
Not that Kara would let herself fall asleep if she could. Too terrified of the nightmares that awaited her. Unable to see that the reality she was steadily creating for herself was not much better than the horrors plaguing her dreams.
She gave up showering and became accustomed to a level of grime on her skin, her hair lost its familiar sheen and goldness to be replaced with a greasy, lank mess.
Kara went through phases with food.
She would go a day, possibly more, without eating, before putting an excessive order in for food from a takeaway (never potstickers or big-belly burgers, too many memories associated with either food), using the online order system and requesting the food be left outside her apartment door so that she wouldn’t have to face another human being. She would then binge eat the food, throwing the cartons into the trash that steadily grew and grew, her one attempt at taking out the rubbish ending with her running back into the apartment and barricading herself in when she heard Alex’s distinct step coming towards her.
That was the other thing that Kara had completely blocked from her life.
Her own sister.
Alex was outside her apartment the morning after she had left the DEO, banging on the reinforced door with all her might, begging for Kara to open up. Kara had merely pulled the quilt over her head and curled up into a tighter ball trying her hardest to ignore her sister’s supplications. The banging stopped after nearly an hour, thanks to the intervention of Kelly who suggested Kara be given some space and that Alex take some time for herself.
Kara had felt herself shrink even further, guilt impossibly ramping up another notch at the worried tone, that Kelly was usually so good at masking, when she requested Alex come home with her to sleep and eat.
Kara was left alone to stew for a couple of days before Alex started a routine of calling to knock on her apartment door every day either before or just after work. Sometimes Alex would just knock and call out to her asking to see her. Other times she would talk to Kara as if she had opened the door and asked with her usual beaming grin how her day was. On a few occasions, Alex would bring a treat with her and leave it outside her door, these ranged from pastries, to donuts to potstickers (all things Kara was denying herself).
Kara didn’t pick up any of them and Alex would simply take them away the next day if they hadn’t already been swiped by a neighbour.
It was two weeks into this shell of an existence. Too afraid of herself to trust herself with anything other than the barest existence. Her powers still fluctuating to such a degree that she had broken more furniture than she could afford to replace (her bed’s legs had collapsed following a particularly vicious nightmare) and she had to spend so much time with her eyes closed to prevent the fiery vision from searing holes into her walls and ceiling that she was starting to get used to pitch blackness.
One day, Kara managed to move from the nest she had made of her bed to curl up on the sofa, putting on some hollow soap drama on the television, the voices of the overly dramatic actors providing a minor reprieve to her sensitive hearing by giving her some white noise to cover the sounds of the city that she was eternally jarred by. It was probably a mix of the white noise and Kara’s sheer level of exhaustion from not sleeping for days on end that meant she didn’t hear Alex climbing the fire escape until there was a light rap on the window nearby.
Kara jerked violently at the sudden disturbance, throwing her barely controlled strength haywire, and her sofa creak alarmingly before crashing to the ground, the legs giving out under them.
“Kara?” Alex called out softly.
Kara immediately scurried to the corner of the room, pulling the blanket she kept with her tighter around her shoulders as she stared fearfully at the covered windows that she could just make out her sister’s silhouette behind.
“Look, I…” Alex started before trailing off with her heavy sigh, slumping against the window, her shadow receding in size and making her appear smaller than Kara had ever seen her. “I just want to help, I want to be here for you, support you…” Alex whispered her voice cracking as she tried to get the words out.
Kara’s heart pounded uncomfortably in her chest. She wanted to go over, pull down the curtains, let in the light, open the window and fall into her sister’s arms but… she also wanted to recede back to her darkness. She felt so unworthy of the light. Unworthy of her sister’s kindness. Unworthy of everything.
She wanted to be saved, just not nearly as much as she wanted to be left alone and forgotten.
“Kara, I don’t know what to do.” Alex confessed brokenly. “I don’t know what you need from me. I don’t know how I can help you if you don’t let me in. I don’t-” Alex sobbed, and Kara felt silent tears begin to rundown her own cheeks in kind as she watched her sister’s body shake on the other side of the curtain with barely held back cries. “What can I do? What can I do, Kara?” Alex begged for an answer, receiving nothing in return.
Heavy silence made the distance between them seem intergalactic.
Kara didn’t move, barely breathed, it was like she was numb.
She’d been numb for so long.
She still felt, still suffered but it was like she was at the very bottom of the ocean, where it was dark, cold and the pressure unfathomable whilst everyone else was sailing happily in the sun, riding on the waves.
“Maybe… maybe I can’t help you…” Alex eventually murmured and Kara knew how much that single admittance would hurt Alex.
Alex, her hero, her inspiration, the woman who had saved more times than she could count.
Her big sister, who always helped Kara in the end, who always found away.
Alex was admitting that maybe they, the unstoppable Danvers sisters, had found something they couldn’t overcome on their own.
“Kelly… Kelly suggested that you should talk to someone. A professional.” Alex clarified softly, her fingers starting to tap lightly on the window in a comforting manner as if Kara could absorb her affection from the walls itself. “The DEO has a few names that we’ve worked with before… people who can be… discreet. ”
Kara flinched at the word and all its connotations.
The reminder of Supergirl and everything that was associated with her like a slap to the face and a punch to the gut rolled into one.
Kara’s eyes began to burn and she was forced to clench them tightly shut, depriving her of her sister’s outline as she made to leave.
“I’m leaving a list here for you… just… have a look… please?” Alex beseeched, “I love you, Kara. We can- you can get through this.” With those final words, Alex made her descent down the fire-escape leaving Kara with a new choice.
Kara managed to retrieve the list Alex had left behind later that day, though she didn’t bring herself to examine it for at least another couple of days.
She had expected a single piece of paper with a handful of names but she found a whole dossier instead with a least fifteen different therapists each with their own assessment of their capabilities and strengths. The detail of the research and thoughtfulness behind it led Kara to believe that this had been a team effort by Alex, Eliza, Kelly, and potentially Brainy as well.
Kara was overwhelmed by the level of information provided to her and the number of choices.
All of those listed were top in their field, had made a name for themselves with high profile cases and had written more notable research papers than words Kara had published for CatCo..
Kara flicked through the pages quickly, barely taking any of it in, however she still managed to identify the regular recurrence of a single word that made her realise the key search criteria her friends had clearly used for their list generation: ‘trauma’.
Kara threw the folder in a drawer, intent for it never to see the light of day when she heard something that made her entire body freeze. A familiar ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum that consumed her hearing and finally, finally, gave her some reprieve from the incessant noises of the world.
Lena was outside her apartment door.
She could her heart beat, higher than usual but strong… resilient… alive.
Kara found herself tiptoeing towards the door, drawn like an irrepressible magnet to. Longing for closeness. Longing for so much as a glimpse of the woman she loved.
Her hand reached without conscious thought towards the lock, the sudden coldness of the metal bringing Kara sharply back to herself and causing her hand to retract and fall limply by her side.
She couldn’t open the door.
She wouldn’t open the door.
She wouldn’t inflict herself on Lena again. Especially not after what happened. Especially when she saw herself as little more than a broken mess that had the capability to destroy everything good and beautiful in the world.
Despite committing herself to keep her distance, Kara found she couldn’t walk away from the door.
She was stuck there on the spot, Lena just on the other side, silent yet present.
Kara waited and waited and waited.
She didn’t know what for.
She presumed Lena would either walk away after realising how much better her life was without Kara in it or knock on the door, too kind and stubborn to give up without a fight.
She did neither.
Instead Lena whispered four simple words, innately knowing that Kara could not only hear her but would listen to her without the need to knock and announce her presence which is a level of confidence you would only expect from someone who is so sure of their place in someone’s life and the love that they share.
“Come back to me.”
With those four gentle words, Kara listened to Lena walk away, a noticeable drag to her movements and the accompanying sound of a crutch or cane with every step.
Kara stood there, replaying Lena’s simple request over and over again in her head, wishing she knew how to do exactly that. Wishing she could snap her fingers and turn back time to the morning after their first date. If she had known what would happen, she would never have left. She would have spent all day with Lena. Never leaving her side.
She wanted to go back to that moment more than any other.
She wanted to find her way back to herself.
But she was lost, alone, in the dark and without any guide on how to get back to the person she was before.
Maybe… maybe… Alex was right, maybe this wasn’t something that she could fix on her own, something that time and suppression would make go away.
Maybe… she needed someone to just give her a few directions, someone to point her towards a path or give her a match to light the darkness.
It took a herculean effort for Kara to find what she was looking for, tucked in a drawer far out of sight. A small, wrinkled shred of paper with a phone number written on it. She had never found it in herself to throw it out, everytime she had considered it she remembered the woman who had given it to her. How she had looked right through Kara to see her fear and turmoil. How she had seen past the super-suit to the woman beneath.
She didn’t want ‘high-profile’.
She wanted someone to see her for her.
She phoned the number on the card, made an appointment for Friday and then showered properly for the first time in weeks.
Thank you for all the lovely comments. It's great encouragement.
Hope you are all keeping safe out there. :) xx
Kara stepped tentatively back inside her apartment as she reflected on her first proper therapy session - the cut short one a few days earlier not counting.
She felt antsy, like she had excessive energy to spend but also completely emotionally and mentally exhausted. Kara’s emotions had been doing their best impression of a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to another since the moment she had stepped foot outside her apartment for the first time in three weeks. The negative experiences of catching glimpses of the damage she had done to National City and seeing firsthand how the city seemed either ambivalent or celebratory of Supergirl’s lack of return, intermingled with being out in the sun, seeing people happily going about their lives, none giving her a second glance and some even sparing her a smile in passing, meant that Kara had run through a gamut of emotions before you even take into consideration all that was touched upon during her first therapy session.
Now, after seeing the brightness of the world and sifting through her memories, her eyes were open to the current state of her home.
She, for the first time since moving in, felt ashamed of the apartment she loved so dearly.
Ashamed of the dark cave she had created for herself. Ashamed of the mess she had generated and been living in for the last three weeks. Ashamed of all the bad habits she had formed and embedded into herself whilst hiding away in this space.
Immediately Kara remembered her final conversation with Percy as she had made to leave after committing to another appointment in a couple of days time.
“I want you to do two things for yourself when you get home.” Percy had requested as Kara had shifted uneasily from foot to foot.
“Anything. Anything that purely benefits yourself.” Percy had clarified.
“You want me to do two selfish things?” Kara had grimaced in distaste at the suggestion.
Percy had merely met her gaze directly and said simply, “I want you to take care of yourself. Some might call that selfish, I call it a kindness.”
“How is being selfish kind?”
Percy had tilted his head to the side, his expression melancholic, “Why do you not deserve your own kindness? Why can you be kind to other people, but not be kind to yourself?”
Kara remembered how her mind had failed to come up with any sort of response. “I don’t know.”
Percy had smiled sadly at her, nodding to himself before he repeated his request. “Two things just for yourself. I also want you to work on bringing regular meals at set times back into your life.”
“I’m not always hungry.” Kara had replied honestly.
“You don’t have to eat much, just a snack, focus on the timings, you’ll find the appetite will steadily come back over time.” With that final piece of advice, Kara had bid the doctor farewell and made her way home.
Now, standing in her apartment that could only be described as dingy (a word that had never been used for it before), Kara knew exactly what she wanted to do for herself.
Cleaning her apartment was the perfect task.
It used up the energy that being out in the sun had gifted her after weeks of deprivation but didn’t require her to think or feel. She could zone out, let her mind go blank and let the activity take over all mental processing power.
Kara emptied out the overflowing trash-can, opened up the curtains to let in the warmth and vibrancy of the setting sun, dusted over the surfaces in the living room, stripped and remade her bed with fresh linen, put a load of washing on downstairs, cleaned the kitchen and hoovered and mopped the floor. By the time Kara was finished it was as if new life had been breathed back into her apartment.
The shame Kara had felt upon returning home steadily receded and disappeared as she took the time to restore the apartment to its former glory.
For the first time in weeks, Kara felt a slim flutter of pride in her chest.
After four weeks of destruction followed by another four weeks of inactivity, Kara had done something positive. It wasn’t major. It wouldn’t change anyone’s life other than her own but Kara had made a positive change and that… that was everything.
As Kara took some much deserved time to admire her handiwork, her stomach which had been in a prolonged state of dormancy let out a rumble as it steadily awoke, making its demands known. Kara, without even thinking about it put in an online order at her local chinese place, she considered for a fleeting moment not putting in her usual request for contact-free delivery but squashed it. She had made some progress but she still wasn’t quite ready for social interaction of any kind just yet.
The only differences to her order this time was that she included potstickers and that the food would be arriving before nine (still not as early as Kara used to eat but much earlier than her random late morning or past-midnight binges).
The food arrived and Kara found herself curling back up on the sofa, her energy from the day all used up and the food steadily settling into her stomach, warming her up and enticing her towards sleep. Kara caught up on her soaps for the day before flicking disinterestedly through the available channels, trying to ignore the enticing call to bed and sleep, still fearful of the nightmares that would come for her especially after being reminded of past hurts that she had considered buried and forgotten.
“-the spate of robberies has continued unabated for the last three months.”
Kara’s finger froze on the remote, unable to resist her sudden flare of curiosity. Kara had avoided any and all news since returning to her apartment. The radio stayed off for fear that a song would shift into a news bulletin update on Supergirl. The television had been resolutely stuck to the channels that played Kara’s soap operas or only movies, never any channel that could present local or national news.
Now, though, Kara found her interest piqued after seeing with her own eyes that the city and its occupants had continued on with their lives like nothing had changed. Kara found it utterly bizarre. Her whole world, her whole life had fallen apart and yet everyone else seemed utterly unaffected.
Kara found herself drastically re-evaluating her place in the world whilst also feeling lighter than she had in weeks (maybe years).
“NCPD has confirmed that the robbery of Lord Technology labs was by the same crew that previously targeted high-end electronic stores. This marks the twelfth robbery by these thieves and a significant escalation in targets. NCPD have released a statement claiming ‘they are investigating the crimes closely and their task force is progressing a number of leads’. They also urge ‘anyone with any pertinent information to phone their tip-line which is available on their website’ and also pictured on screen now.” The National City News anchor read out the update, placing emphasis on the word claim to give the heavy implication that evidence of the police’s progress on this matter is still yet to be seen.
Kara’s brow scrunched up at the information; the news anchor, meanwhile, shifted to the next piece on the slate which involved an interview with a National City University professor who was talking about his research that was focused on optimising smoking cessation treatments.
Kara watched the entire hour news show, all whilst experiencing a strange mix of apprehension and boredom.
After the professor came an extended report on the National City Shakes and how they were making a noticeable comeback in the second half of the football season.
Overall, it was a rather dull broadcast indicating a particularly slow news day.
When it was finished, Kara turned off the television and stared at her distorted reflection in the darkened television screen for a long few minutes before getting up and going to bed.
Percy spent the days in-between his sessions with Kara researching kryptonite and its various presentations marked by their unique colours. Percy used the knowledge he gathered and compared it to different substances he had encountered during his time as a therapist for a wide-range of alien species. The doctor, dedicated to improving people’s mental health, had been beyond horrified by how many mind-altering, inhibition-affecting substances there were out there and how they were so maliciously used by aliens against their own kind and others. But then he would think of humanity’s history and their current issues with drug and alcohol abuse and would be again reminded of the similarities within the differences that made his job possible, yet no less heartbreaking.
Annie, his wife, had been especially watchful of him over the last couple of days, clearly sensing that his new client was weighing heavily on him. She gave him space to think and kept him supported with regular cups of tea and stories of their grandchildren. It kept him going and helped him remain optimistic.
He wanted to help Kara.
That’s not to say that Percy didn’t always want to help his patients, but he found this desire heightened for the kryptonian. Maybe it had to do with Kara’s well-known heroics, more specifically her saving his wife a couple of years ago creating a level of indebtedness towards her within himself. Maybe it was that he had simply grown older, was aware that the cases ahead of him were growing smaller and smaller, and that he wanted his legacy to consist of more successes than failures.
However, he knew there was more to it than that and it wasn’t until Annie gently questioned him on what made this particular patient different from all the others that Percy achieved his moment of clarity.
“I’ve had plenty of patients that feel like they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders,” Percy rationalised, “but this patient… well… she carries the weight of two worlds.”
Annie had nodded in understanding before pressing a quick kiss to his forehead, “I know you can help her ease that burden. I believe in you.”
It was just the encouragement Percy needed to keep his spirits high.
He arrived earlier than usual at his office, stopping by the bookstore at the bottom of his building to pick a few books up for himself and his grandchildren before heading upstairs. Kara arrived not long after, outfitted in yet another pastel ensemble but looking a little more sure of herself and comfortable in her own skin. Her hair looked a bit more lively, clearly undergoing more regular hair-care treatment. And Kara looked noticeably less pale, even the short exposure to the sun during her travels to and from therapy noticeably revitalising her outward appearance. She even appeared to perch more easily on the sofa, and she only fiddled with her glasses a handful of times in the first few minutes as opposed to the near constant fretting from her previous two appointments.
Percy offered her a drink and gave her a couple of minutes to compose herself by taking longer than necessary to get himself situated opposite her in his armchair.
“How did the last two days ago?” Percy inquired once he had his notepad suitably balanced on his knee.
A shadow of a smile appeared on Kara’s face as she replied shyly, “I… uh… cleaned my apartment. It was kind of a mess, I hadn’t really kept on top of it. And… um… it was nice to clean it all up, it made me feel lighter.”
“That’s fantastic, Kara.” Percy beamed in response, re-affirming his statement when Kara’s expression turned disbelieving. “Truly. There’s plenty of evidence that shows cleaning is very good for a person’s mental health.” Percy revealed. “It’s been proven to be a calming activity and helps people reclaim control over their environment.”
Kara considered this information, before nodding her head in agreement, “Yeah, it… it felt like my home again. I also had my favourite food for dinner that night... I hadn’t had it in awhile.”
“Did it taste as good as you remembered?” Percy inquired encouragingly.
“Yes, it did.” Kara replied, her blue eyes lighting up with warmth at the comment before darkening as her thoughts so obviously turned away from the good and towards, what she considered, the bad, “I… the next day I didn’t do anything though.” Kara admitted, biting her lip in frustration, “I just didn’t have the energy to and… I really struggled to eat breakfast and lunch. I only had a few mouthfuls both times. It was like one step forward and two steps back.”
Percy pursed his lips as he examined the downcast expression on the blonde’s face, before muttering softly. “I don’t agree with that assessment.”
Kara looked up at him slowly, her gaze suspicious and unconvinced, “You don’t?”
“No.” Percy confirmed, “You still managed to eat within a reasonable time-frame.” Percy pointed out before asking, “After you had eaten, did you wash up the plate afterwards?”
Kara’s brow furrowed in confusion, “Yes.”
“Would you have done that before you cleaned your apartment?” Percy prompted.
Kara’s eyes widened as realisation dawned, “No. I would have just left it on the side.”
Percy’s eyes twinkled in amusement as he pointed out, “That seems like a step forward.”
“A small step forward.” Kara harrumphed, crossing her arms over her chest and dropping her chin in disappointment.
Percy let out a heavy sigh, accepting that the speech he had to have with nearly every patient was long overdue.
“I think we need to have a discussion around expectations.” Percy declared, clasping his hands together and glancing momentarily up at the ceiling as he ordered his thoughts before speaking. “Media, whilst having the benefit of changing the perspective of therapy in larger society, has yet to depict it accurately.” Percy began, pausing to ensure he had Kara’s full attention. “In most films and television shows, the main characters attend one, maybe two sessions, where the therapist speaks a few cryptic phrases, diagnoses the hero in a matter of minutes and gives the hero a revelatory pep-talk at the end which completely changes the hero’s outlook…”
Percy shook his head apologetically, “That, unfortunately, is not the case in real life. Therapy is hard.” The doctor stated bluntly, refusing to pull his punches when it came to what his patients were in for. “It’s draining and it doesn’t always give the results people hope for. Admittedly, there are a few cases where people attend therapy and progress in leaps and bounds but these are the outliers that give the bell shaped curve of therapy’s effectiveness. The majority of people make small steps,” Percy met weary, undeniably disappointed blue eyes head on, “learn tools and healthy coping mechanisms as they progress towards their goals. It's a long, hard process with no short-cuts.”
Kara said nothing for a long time as she absorbed his words.
“Are you sure we can’t just try the revelatory pep-talk approach just once?” Kara eventually asked, a rueful smile lighting up her face, “You know, see if that works? Truly test the claims of tv and film?”
Percy chuckled at the mischievous glint in the blonde’s eyes, pressing a hand to his chest as he assured her, “I promise you a plethora of revelatory pep-talks throughout this process.”
Kara’s small smile twitched with the desire to expand into a grin and she appeared to be on the edge of laughter which Percy presumed had not been a regular occurrence for a long while now and he hoped the reemergence of her sense of humour was a positive sign of things to come.
“I just want you to have a better frame of reference.” Percy summed up, “And with that in mind, you have already taken steps for yourself. You identified that you needed help, that you wanted to make changes in your life and have started to work towards that. That is probably the hardest part of this whole process, and you’ve already done it. That’s worth being proud of.”
Kara blushed at the praise, “You’re not bad at the whole pep-talk thing.”
“Thank you. I will update my CV at once to reflect your review.” Percy teased, drawing another warm smile that lit up the room. “So…”, Percy said slowly, as he picked up his pen and shifted in his seat to ensure he could more easily take notes as required.
“So?” Kara repeated, sensing the shift to something more serious.
“What do you want out of this?” Percy questioned, “What’s your aim? What do you want to achieve? It’s good to have a clear goal. Something to aspire towards.”
Kara blinked rapidly in surprise at the question before replying quickly, “I want to have control of my powers. I want to be the hero National City deserves again.”
Percy raised an eyebrow at her as he noted down her first response, “You want to restore Supergirl to her former glory.”
“Yes.” Kara replied despite Percy not meaning for his words to be taken as a question.
“A noble, self-sacrificing goal.”
“But?” Kara called out, her blue eyes hardening as she awaited the caveat she believed to be coming.
Percy merely shrugged in response, “Why Supergirl?”
Kara’s eyes narrowed in a mixture of confusion and suspicion as if she had been asked a question with such an obvious answer that she knew there was a trick to it somewhere. “Because, I am Supergirl?”
“Are you?” Percy asked innocently as if he was genuinely uncertain of the answer, “Aren’t you also Kara Danvers?”
“Well, yeah…” Kara replied, her hands instantly resorting to fidgeting and tapping anything that they came in contact with as she struggled to find the words to justify her inherently flawed logic, “But you know, she’s not… I’m not…”
“Why work on a half? Why not work on the whole thing?” Percy continued once Kara had trailed off into an uneasy silence. “Instead of valuing Supergirl or Kara Danvers over one another, trying to figure out which part is more important, why not focus on Kara Zor-El? Supergirl and Kara Danvers are merely facets of who you are. Kara Zor-El is the whole picture, right?” Kara’s jaw worked but she seemed to be at odds with herself and unable to generate any sort of response so Percy made his question more open and encouraging, “What do you think?”
“I… I don’t know…” Kara finally stammered out, her eyes focusing resolutely on the floor as she seemed to shrink in on herself.
“Why not?” Percy inquired.
“Because…” Kara let out a shaky breath and closed her eyes as she whispered her confession, “I don’t really think I know who Kara Zor-El is anymore…”
Percy smiled gently at her in return, and waited until pained blue eyes had lifted from the ground, “Well… how about we find out?”
Kara found herself staring at her reflection when she got back to her apartment.
It had been a while since she had looked at herself, baring the most fleeting of glances before she headed out for her therapy sessions, where she was merely glancing to confirm she looked as little like her alter-ego as possible. She had been wary of what she would see staring back at her.
Images of red-flickering veins, a superior smirk and cold, cruel blue eyes still haunted her.
Now, she looked herself over with an assessing gaze.
She wasn’t sure what she was looking for.
She knew she looked different to how she used to before her most recent exposure to red kryptonite. Her complexion had turned paler and more lined, but her tan was steadily re-building, though the newly formed frown lines had not started to reduce but were instead seeming to grow in prominence. Her hair had lost its golden sheen, but was far less greasy than it had been during the height of her self-isolation. The biggest and most noticeable change, however, were her eyes.
Her blue eyes had lost their usual vibrancy and intense blueness, which hurt far worse than anything else.
Her blue eyes were the only identifiable feature that Kara felt truly linked her to her mother.
Her golden hair, her face shape, her height and even her smile were so obviously inherited from her father that it made the distinctness of her blue eyes precious. And now they were just that little bit less of a perfect replica.
It was another small loss of her home that made her chest ache in a way that she hadn’t let herself feel for years.
Kara wondered if her parents would recognise her after years of assimilating into an entirely new culture. If they would be proud of her…
She hoped they would, but then again…
Then again, when was the last time she had done something to remember them? When was the last time she repeated the old end of day prayers, thanking Rao for his warmth and asking for his continued light for the next day? When was the last time she spoke even a single word of her native language or even tried to remember her planet’s history?
Kara shook her head bleakly, and turned away from the mirror. She hadn’t found whatever it was she’d been looking for. She’s not sure if she would ever find the answer in her own reflection.
Kara made her way back to the kitchen and cooked herself up something simple, wanting to do something to keep her mind from the dark places trying to lure her back. She ate in front of the television watching some hollow sitcom that she had seen so often she could recite the punchline for each joke before the set-up had even been started. Kara had just finished eating and was about to curl up under a blanket when there was a firm rap on the door.
“Hey, Kara.” Alex called out from the other side, clearly having stopped by on the way back from work to do her daily check on her sister. “Just checking in-” Alex began, starting to repeat one of the handful of phrases that she would regularly say to Kara’s locked door.
This time, however, Alex’s voice cut out the instant she heard the audible clunk-chink of the apartment door unlocking which preceded it swinging open.
Kara shuffled slightly on the spot, her fingers tapping lightly on the door handle as she kept her gaze on the floor, not quite ready yet to look at her sister after all this time.
“Hi, Alex.” Kara finally greeted, timidly glancing up to see Alex’s shocked expression featuring wide brown eyes and a slightly agape mouth.
Kara bit down nervously on her bottom lip as she took in her sister who she hadn’t seen for nearly a full month, which was by far the longest the two of them had ever gone without contact since she had first moved into the Danvers’ house when she was thirteen. Alex was dressed in her standard leather jacket and dark jeans combo, her hair was longer and nearing the stage where she required a trip to the hairdresser’s. One hand was hovering in the air at chest height, having clearly not finished its return journey to her side before she entered a state of frozen suspension watching Kara’s door swing open. Her other hand was tightly gripping a brown paper bag at her side, obviously another treat that Alex had been hoping to bribe Kara with.
Kara, however, only fleetingly took all these details in. Kara’s gaze was fixated on her sister’s face, closely examining her for the injuries that Kara had inadvertently inflicted as collateral damage during her red-kryptonite spiral.
The split lip that had required delicate stitching by Eliza had completely vanished leaving not even the tiniest of scars. The dark heavy bruising that had swollen Alex’s eye closed the last time Kara had seen her had receded to only the slightest yellowy-green tinge underneath her fully open eye. Some of the tightness in Kara’s chest eased ever so slightly at Alex’s near complete return to normal. Kara felt ashamed to admit it but it made it easier for her to meet Alex’s eye when she wasn’t constantly seeing the physical damage her actions had wrought.
“I… I…” Alex spluttered, at a loss for words until she shook her head as if to pull herself together, before murmuring a greeting just as shy as Kara’s one, “Hey sis..”
“Do you want to come in?” Kara offered, stepping backwards to give Alex plenty of space to step inside.
Alex’s brown eyes widened impossibly further at the suggestion even as she nodded her head vigorously to accept. “Yeah, sure…” Alex breathed out as she stepped inside, gently closing the door behind her.
Alex, steadily getting over the shock of her current situation, finally took the time to look over Kara. Immediately the blonde blushed and barely resisted the urge to shift her weight from foot to foot as her sister scrutinised her closely.
“You… you look good.” Alex remarked after a long while with an encouraging tone.
“I’m working on it.” Kara shrugged, before admitting quietly, “You should have seen me a few days ago.” Kara could feel Alex’s gaze harden and didn’t need to look to see that her sister was clenching her jaw, on the edge of pushing for details. “How are you?”
“Better now.” Alex answered, her expression softening almost immediately at the question, smiling so fondly at Kara that the blonde felt her chest swell with affection. “How about you?” Alex asked curiously, clearly wanting details but so, so, so afraid of disrupting this quiet peace that had settled between them.
“Better now.” Kara repeated, returning the smile that Alex had granted her.
Alex’s eyes twinkled at the response and she quickly ducked her head to hide the sight of the gathering moisture. “Oh here,” Alex said, holding out the brown paper bag hoping to distract from the emotions currently settling over the two of them, “it's just some cupcakes. Kelly is going through a baking phase.”
“Thank you.” Kara replied, taking the bag carefully and moving to place it on the kitchen countertop, her sister following behind at a distance not wanting Kara to feel like her space was being encroached upon.
There was a noticeable pause caused by their movements followed by the awareness that the current distance between them hadn’t been there previously.
All of a sudden they were both reminded that if it had been before , Kara would never have let Alex walk into her apartment without hugging her first. Would have responded to Alex’s sweet ‘better now’ comment by lightly pushing her shoulder and teasing her. Alex would have walked only one step behind her and not the several she did just now.
“What have you been upto?” Alex inquired, sliding onto one of the breakfast stools and clasping her hands together in front of her, trying to appear like she was just as comfortable and nonchalant in Kara’s company and home as she always used to be.
“Nothing much… Just trying to get back to normal.” Kara replied, her voice halting and awkward, unsure how much to share - which didn’t used to be a problem between the two sisters.
Kara’s hands clenched into fists as she felt her strength spike out of her control as she was presented with yet another thing she had lost and would have to work so unfairly hard to regain.
“I’ve gotten addicted to a range of soap operas.” Kara confessed in a blatant attempt to lighten the mood.
Alex didn’t hesitate to grab onto the topic. “Unsurprising, I remember when you first moved in with us and you got obsessed with that australian soap where everyone lived on one street.” Alex reminisced with a teasing tone.
“I was not obsessed .” Kara harrumphed, crossing her arms exaggeratedly over her chest and pouting in faux-annoyance.
Alex ‘tsked’ in amused disagreement, “I nearly lost an arm when I tried to change the channel to the football, just once.”
Kara rolled her eyes dismissively, shooting back as easily as she used to only a couple of months ago, “Pfft, you know I would never hurt-”
The words died and turned to ash on the tip of Kara’s tongue the second she registered what she had been about to say. It was like someone had thrown a bucket of distilled shame and regret over her. The humour and ease that they had been on the precipice of reclaiming yanked away in a fraction of a second.
Kara felt sick to her stomach and she closed her eyes on instinct unable to bear seeing Alex’s expression.
“I do know that.” Alex whispered firmly and so sincerely that Kara found her eyes blinking open to see that her sister had moved closer to her, hands slightly raised at her sides and her expression so fond and loving that Kara’s heart steadied in her chest.
“I liked it because they were so obvious with their emotions.” Kara eventually murmured, wringing her fingers in front of her. “They were such extremes that I could easily understand them.”
Alex smiled sadly at her as she assured, “I knew that too.”
Alex had stopped a couple of feet away, not wanting to invade Kara’s space any further without permission. Kara wasn’t quite ready for physical contact, but she wished more than anything that she was. She wished she could feel comfortable enough to hug her sister. But until then, Kara appreciated the comfort and security her sister’s physical proximity gave her.
Kara took a deep breath, gathering her courage and revealed, in as steady a voice as she could manage, “I started therapy.”
“What? Really?” Alex questioned eagerly; the tension in Kara’s stomach relaxing at her sister’s obvious enthusiasm.
“I’ve only had a few sessions but it’s… helping. It’s putting things into perspective.” Kara said, pulling the sleeves of her baggy jumper over her hands to resist the urge to fiddle with glasses that weren’t on her face.
“That’s fantastic, I’m so proud of you.” Alex cheered.
“I’m always proud of you, little sis.” Alex declared fervently, before asking curiously, “Did you contact someone on the list I gave you?”
Kara, who had been riding high from her sister’s encouragement and pride, deflated and curled inwards, “Uh… no… umm… I went with someone else. A less well-known Doctor.”
“Right…” Alex muttered slowly, and Kara watched her sister’s expression go distant and assessing, her sister being replaced by Alex Danvers, DEO Director and highly regarded agent. “Do they know about… you know who?”
“Yeah, he does. I told him.” Kara answered, her voice steady and firm, instantly on the defensive. “He won’t tell anyone.”
Alex shook her head, pursing her lips, “I would have felt more comfortable if we could have vetted him beforehand or at least got him to sign an NDA-”
“I needed something that was just mine.” Kara cut in sharply, shocking even herself with the harshness of her interruption.
“Kara-” Alex started beseechingly.
Kara let out a shaky breath, gathering her resolve to hold firm to her line in the sand, and stated, “No, Alex. You don’t get to make those decisions for me.”
Alex blinked rapidly in surprise, “I wasn’t…” She began to deny before hesitating. Kara could see her sister’s mind whirring behind her brown eyes, going over her words from only a moment ago and evaluating her own thought processes. After a few seconds, Alex’s entire body sagged in defeat and remorse before she murmured quietly, “I just want to protect you.”
“I know.” Kara replied understandingly, mirroring Alex’s tone from earlier. “But, right now I need my big sister to support me more than I need her to protect me…”
Alex straightened up immediately, as if readying herself for action, “How can I do that? What do you need?”
Kara considered her answer for a long time before letting a soft smile break out over her face that would stay in place for the majority of the night, “Just… sit with me and tease me about my soap opera obsession?”
Alex positively beamed at the suggestion, “Okay.”
The two sisters spent the remaining part of the evening curled up on opposite ends of the sofas sharing a blanket. Their conversation was light and only surface level deep, some might describe it as hollow and distant but it was exactly what Kara needed. She needed to not feel so utterly alone but she wasn’t ready to be truly vulnerable yet. She had started to bare her soul in therapy and was working on re-learning who she was and wanted to be. She didn’t want every interaction and thought to be weighed down with the ‘ big ’ stuff. She needed nights where she could just be. Where there was no need to rationalise and justify her every decision and second guess her words.
Kara spent the evening giving Alex quick summaries of each character’s outlandish soap plotlines whilst Alex came up with quick-witted monikers for each character as she struggled to learn all of their names: ‘three wives and counting’, ‘body in the backyard’, ‘teen pyro’ and ‘grandma shit stirrer’.
That night was the first time Kara had let out an honest-to-Rao joyful laugh for the first time in over eight weeks.
“Thank you for this.” Kara said gratefully, as she held open the door for Alex at the end of the night.
“Anytime.” Alex promised, before rubbing the back of her neck and ducking her gaze as she asked nervously, “Um... does this mean I can see you more often now?”
Kara’s heart clenched and stuttered in her chest at her sister’s uncertainty, “I would like that.”
“Great.” Alex breathed out; brown eyes sweeping over the blonde once more, committing the sight of her to memory - presumably still worried that this visitation was a one-off. “See you later.”
“Umm… Alex?” Kara called out unable to stop herself as her sister started to turn away and take her leave.
Alex turned back instantly, “Hmm?”
The question had been weighing heavy on Kara since she had invited her sister in and was now clawing its way to freedom. It had danced round her mind; screaming, begging and pleading to be unleashed. It had wrapped a firm hand around Kara’s heart and squeezed tighter and tighter every second that Kara did not ask it.
“How… How is Lena? Is she doing okay?” Kara asked with desperate and heartbroken blue eyes.
The soft, forgiving expression Alex had been wearing all evening hardened immediately at the question. It didn’t vanish, Alex’s love for Kara was unconditional; it was always there, strong and ever present in brown eyes. But, like Kara earlier, Alex had a clear line in the sand that she had no intention of crossing.
“Kara, I’m sorry but that is something you’ll have to ask her yourself.” Alex responded, her jaw clenching as she struggled to balance the coldness of her words with the desire to look after her sister before settling on, “She needs someone to look out for her too.”
Kara swallowed thickly and nodded in understanding. She was grateful (beyond grateful) that Alex was looking out for Lena but equally she hated that she wasn’t that person.
It should have been her. Kara knew that.
She used to be the person that looked out for Lena, the person who provided her comfort and support but now…
“Right.” Kara muttered, her mind clouded with heavy thoughts, “Bye, Alex.”
As always, thank you for the kind comments. Hope you are all doing well and looking after yourselves :) x
Percy held a hand up to shield his eyes from the blistering sun. He had been forced to forego his suit blazer and tie, then also open his waistcoat and top couple of buttons of his shirt to ensure he didn’t drench his clothes in sweat.
“It's a bit different from my office.” Percy called out in lieu of a standard greeting as Kara clambered out of the Uber that had just pulled up on the side of the road.
“A bit?” Kara scoffed, gesturing wildly around the completely barren desert that the old doctor had requested that they meet up in for her next session. The blonde ambled over to him and his vintage mustang with an exagerrated frown on her face, “If I didn’t trust you, I would assume you were bringing me out here to murder me.”
Percy chuckled good naturedly at the suggestion, “I’ll take your trust in me; and the belief that you think I could pull off killing you, if I so desired, as a compliment.”
Kara shrugged, a lazy smirk lighting up her face more effectively than the unfaltering sun above them ever could, “You should.”
Percy took a long moment to take in his patient. She was dressed in ripped jeans and a stained, slightly grungy grey t-shirt, her hair was up in a sporty ponytail and her rounded glasses had been replaced with reflective aviators. Percy would have put the sudden air of confidence and casualness down to her sudden shift away from pastel but it had everything to do with how her shoulders lacked the back-breaking tension they had been carrying the last time he saw her.
“You’re looking…” The doctor said slowly, trying to put his finger on the right word.
Kara arched a prompting eyebrow at him, “I’m looking?”
“Lighter.” Percy declared, settling on the right descriptor.
A small, hopeful smile flickered shyly onto Kara’s face, “Oh, I… uh… I’ve started spending time with my sister again. It’s… she’s… it’s been good.”
“I’m pleased for you.” Percy replied sincerely.
The kryptonian nodded in appreciation of the comment before bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, her curiosity stoking her excitement, “So… what are we doing out here? Other than significantly increasing my uber bill?”
The doctor clasped his hands in front of himself and announced, “I thought it was about time we addressed your power concerns.”
“Oh…” Kara breathed out.
The change that came over Kara was instantaneous.
The slightly cocky, easygoing attitude that the blonde had been sporting since arriving dissipated to be replaced by a nervousness akin to Kara’s first therapy session.
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea.” Kara muttered uncertainly.
“This is a safe environment.” Percy promised taking a tentative step closer to the shuttered woman. “No one around for miles, you can keep your distance from me and I don’t need to worry about any accidental destruction of my property.” He looked up to the expansive blue sky and the near endless horizon, knowing Kara was following his line of sight. “You don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with” Percy assured, “but I think this might help.”
Kara nibbled at her bottom lip, before nodding once, “Okay, what do you have in mind?”
Percy grinned at her eagerly, causing Kara to look even warier. The doctor wandered round to the back of his car (Kara following right behind apprehensively) and popped the trunk. Percy only just managed to hold back his laughter as Kara looked disbelieving between him and the contents of the trunk.
“Are we planning on making the world’s largest omelette?” Kara questioned, her brow furrowed in complete confusion as she stared at the stacked up cartons of eggs filling almost the entirety of the car’s storage space.
“No.” Percy answered, reaching for the only other thing in the trunk, a mechanical slingshot that he held up for her to inspect. “We’re simply playing catch.”
Kara’s jaw dropped as she realised exactly what her doctor was suggesting, “Oh no… that’s why you asked me to wear clothes I don’t mind ruining.”
“Exactly.” Percy confirmed, flipping open the lid of the top egg carton and picking out the first egg and placing it in the empty slot on his slingshot.
Kara let out a heavy sigh as she eyed the slingshot distastefully, “Look, there’s no way I can do this…”
Percy paused in his preparation to look over at the blonde, “Would you have been able to do it before your exposure to red kryptonite?”
Kara’s mouth opened and closed, “I… Maybe? I don’t know.”
“I think you could have.” Percy murmured causing Kara to look up at him sharply, “I don’t need to tell you how quickly you had to modify your strength when you were saving people. To go speeding through the air faster than a bullet and then slow down sufficiently to catch someone falling through the air. To go from using your full force to push back an enemy and then gently help someone up who you were shielding. To use laser vision powerful enough to destroy war machines and then controlled enough to fry an individual circuit.” Percy lifted his chin and stared directly into Kara’s sunglass covered eyes as he stated definitively, “You have control. You just need to remember that.”
Kara huffed out a breath before whining, “And getting pelted in eggs will do that?”
“Possibly.” Percy answered with an amused shrug. “It will be fun for me at least.”
This time, when Kara scowled at him, the old doctor couldn’t hold back his laughter. Kara stomped away, moving into the open space of the desert as Percy, once his laughter was under control, lifted his slingshot into the air and fired, yelling out an almighty, “Pull!”
“This is pointless!” Kara shouted from high in the sky, where she bobbed up and down like a boat on stormy seas (if that boat had just been splattered with yet another egg). “I clearly have no control whatsoever.” She declared as she lurched uncontrollably in the air before falling heavily to the ground, causing a cloud of dust to rise up dramatically around her. “It’s completely gone!” Kara shouted out bitterly and utterly defeated.
Percy sighed, putting the slingshot back into the boot of his car before wandering over to the crumpled kryptonian on the ground.
“Kara, your control is not gone .” He said, his voice stern and unwavering.
Kara glared up at him with a dark expression and demanded, “Then where is it?”
Percy frowned down at her, “Budge over.” He ordered; Kara merely blinked up at him confusion until Percy waved his hand to the side, indicating for Kara to shift so that he could sit beside her in the area that she had helpfully cleared of surface level dust with her heavy landing. Kara acquiesced, sitting up properly to shuffle to one side whilst Percy carefully lowered himself to the hard ground feeling his joints creak in complaint.
“Are you about to give me a revelatory pep talk?” Kara questioned, side-eyeing her therapist, as she wiped the remnants of egg yoke off her hands and onto her already ruined jeans, providing Percy the time he needed to adjust and settle.
“I promised you some, didn’t I?” Percy reminded her with a half-smile. “Once upon a time-”
“Seriously?” Kara interrupted with an incredulous splutter.
“Sorry, young grandchildren,” Percy replied, absolutely unapologetically, “it’s kind of become how I start all my stories now.”
Kara rolled her eyes and tsk-ed but she nodded for the doctor to continue his tale.
“Once upon a time, there was a world famous tennis player, who’s dream since he was a little boy was to win Wimbledon.” The doctor began, his voice taking on a warm, narrative quality that he had perfected through reading stories to children for a number of years. “He started playing tennis from a young age, he would play everyday, for hours and hours and hours. When he first started he had terrible form, could barely get the ball over the net let alone score a point. He was the complete opposite of a natural tennis player.”
Percy paused to check he still had Kara’s full attention. The blonde was staring off into the distance following the sun’s path through the sky, but her posture was rigid and she was leaning almost imperceptibly towards the doctor indicating that he had her full focus.
“But he kept at it.” Percy continued, “He improved steadily over time. He was taught how to hold the racquet properly, he learnt how to move efficiently around the court and he learnt how to slice and serve. By the time he was eighteen, he looked like he had been born to play tennis. His movements were natural and seamless. He made it look easy. ” Percy emphasised this with a snap of his fingers that made Kara jerk ever so slightly in place. “He was winning tournaments left, right and centre. He was now onto the big leagues: the grand slams, the opens and finally… finally… Wimbledon. His dream.
“He wiped the floor with every opponent he faced, scoring big and bold. Then… he was in the final. He was the favourite by a mile. The bookies viewed his victory as practically a certainty. And the tennis player… here he was on the very precipice of achieving his dreams. Everything he had wanted since he was a little boy hitting balls over a net late into the evening. In the long… drawn out minutes before the match… the tennis player found himself going over every movement, every lesson he had ever learnt and when it finally came time to step onto the court… he choked. ”
Kara’s head snapped round to face Percy, her expression shocked and disappointed.
“He could barely hit a single ball back. His serves went wide. And he stumbled over his own feet. He looked for all intents and purposes like he had never played tennis before in his life.” Percy finished with a cold and clinical tone.
Kara pouted at him, “That wasn’t quite as uplifting as I thought it would be…”
Percy ignored the jibe; instead asking, “Do you know why he lost?”
“Simply?” Percy clarified before answering, “He was overthinking it.”
“That’s it?” Kara scoffed feeling even more cheated after listening so intently to the doctor’s story.
“Yes.” He replied plainly, “When we learn things, we practice and practice until it appears seamless. Until we look back and wonder why it was so difficult in the first place. It’s because we have transitioned all those lessons into muscle memory. Instinct.” Percy’s shift from storyteller, to therapist, to teacher was effortless because in his mind they were interchangeable roles. “It’s easy because we no longer have to consciously think how we are going to do it. We just do it. Our body just knows. But when we try to do those actions consciously after relying on our instinct for so long… we stumble… we miss the ball… our serves go wide. When we doubt our capabilities… when we doubt ourselves, things we could do so easily only two months ago… seem impossible.”
Kara’s head dropped as she murmured, “I’m the tennis player?”
“Yes.” Percy confirmed unnecessarily.
“And you think I’m just overthinking it?” Kara checked.
“Yes.” Percy replied, “You don’t trust yourself and as such… you’re scared of your powers.”
Kara let out a humorless laugh, “I’ve always been scared of my powers.”
After their last session, Percy drove them both back to National City and parked up on a road near the large city park. Kara, using the wet wipes and old towel Percy had brought with him, tidied herself up (removing as much of the egg yolk as possible).
Percy had originally planned to read a book in the park for a couple of hours on his own before driving to pick Annie up from the library. But, upon seeing how Kara hesitated, wistfully watching the people walking through the green area and the children playing in the sun, as she started to head back to her apartment on her own, Percy invited her to join him for some ice-cream from a nearby vendor that he would always go to get his grandchildren a scoop from on summer days.
Percy got his usual chocolate and caramel scoop with a flake, whilst Kara eyed all the flavours keenly, equally enticed by all those on display. Eventually, she settled on a bubblegum and strawberry combo absolutely covered with sprinkles of every colour.
Immediately, Kara managed to spot her nose with a light blue smear of ice cream.
“Thanks for the ice cream.” The blonde said gratefully as Percy directed them both to sit on his go-to bench on the edge of the tree-line with a clear view of the field and children’s playground. Percy loved this spot, it provided shade at the height of the sun’s arc and it also heartened him to see the joy of children playing nearby.
“I had to make up for splattering you with eggs somehow,” Percy replied with a teasing smile, “otherwise you may have never come back for another session.”
“Fair.” Kara commented, her ice cream (for some unfathomable reason) melting at a far more rapid pace than Percy’s, causing her to valiantly attack it to prevent any drips from being lost. “Jeremiah, my adopted Dad,” Kara revealed, “used to always take me and my sister out for ice cream after Alex’s weekly soccer matches.”
The doctor watched her in bemusement, reminded of his youngest son who still couldn’t manage to eat an ice cream without smearing it around his mouth and ruining his t-shirt.
“You don’t talk much about your parents.” He acknowledged quietly before clarifying a moment later, “Either set.”
Kara didn’t reply, and fleetingly Percy considered that the blonde had not heard him but he pushed that idea quickly aside, not just because he knew Kara’s hearing was superior to a human’s but because Kara’s chaotic, messy eating of her ice cream was now more methodical, less consumed by pure excitement.
It was restrained and tempered.
Kara finished her ice cream and wiped her face with the napkin, managing to miss the spot on her nose repeatedly.
“No.” She finally said in agreement, her tone hollow, “Jeremiah died because of me. He… they gave him an ultimatum, him or me…”
Percy didn’t need her to explain who they were. It didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. He could work out the key parts of the story.
Her adopted father had been given a choice: save himself or save his daughter.
“He did what any good parent would do.” Percy declared; his heart going out even more to the young girl who had been forced to suffer a further loss which would have merely compounded all of her earlier trauma...
“I know.” Kara responded quickly, “My parents made the exact same choice only a few years earlier. I just wish…”
Percy waited. Waited to see if Kara would be honest, would start taking the first step in recognising where her hurt really lay. He wondered if the soft warmth of the sun, the bright colours - unique to her new world - and the sound of children laughing in the background would make her feel safe enough to speak.
“I wish it hadn’t been for me. ” Kara whispered almost inaudibly.
There it was.
The doctor nodded once in understanding and reached out to gently squeeze Kara’s shoulder in comfort and support. Percy let silence settle between them, allowing Kara to have time to collect herself. She had done so much today, Percy had no interest in pushing her anymore. She deserved rest and some time free from emotional breakthroughs.
“So, your sister was the soccer super-star, what were you? What was your thing?” Percy ventured to ask as he finished up his own ice cream.
Kara looked over at him with a grateful expression, easily identifying the shift to the mundane for what it was. “Art.” She answered; Percy didn’t need to be able to see her blue eyes to know that they were lighting up at the memories. “Sketches for the most part but occasionally painting. You?”
Percy startled at the question, not expecting it, though he should have done. He knew Kara well enough now to know she was a curious and empathic woman. She may ramble on occasion but she was a keen listener and obviously cared for other people on a deep level.
“Me? Well, I-” Percy stumbled over his answer as he tried to arrange his thoughts.
“Wait! Let me guess…” Kara requested, flapping her hand to prevent him from ruining her game. Kara’s forehead scrunched up in concentration and she tapped her chin with a single finger to better personify deep thought. A beat passed, then suddenly Kara clicked her fingers together and pointed a finger into the air as if giving an answer in class. “Debate team.” She announced with a confident air that suited her.
Percy chuckled good-naturedly at the guess and the exaggerated show that she put on.
“I’m afraid not… I…” Percy shook his head, before coughing self-consciously as he went on to explain, “I met my wife on my first day at high school and spent the entire four years trying to impress her.” Kara raised an intrigued eyebrow at this piece of information. “I wasn’t the most coordinated of people, so I couldn't win her over with my athletic prowess. I couldn’t - and still can’t - act to save my life, so there went the hope of being a leading man. I was terrified of public speaking, so anything involving a crowd like debate,” Percy said, shooting Kara an embarrassed look, “or the student body was a complete non-starter. I also could not ride a motorbike or pull off a leather jacket. And to add insult to injury, my art teacher once told me my artwork ‘hurt her very soul’”, Kara let out a snort of laughter at that, “so… my options were rather limited…”
“Okay… so what did you do?” Kara inquired.
Percy shrugged helplessly, “I read.”
“Ah,” Kara breathed out knowingly, “Literature nerd.”
“With a particular soft-spot for poetry.” Percy added with a roll of his eyes. “Suffice to say… I was not one of the cool kids.”
Kara contemplated this for a long moment, before remarking simply, “You got the girl, though.”
Percy grinned, “That I did.”
Kara tilted her head to the side thoughtfully, “How did that hap-”
“Ow!” The yelp of surprise was only audible to Percy because, like any parent or grandparent, he had become especially tuned to the sound of a young child in trouble. In the space it took him to look around and find the child who was the source of the noise, (a little girl on the edge of the play area who had tripped on her untied shoelaces), Kara was already by her side, gently helping her up and looking over her grazed knee with tenderness and care.
Percy got to his feet and strolled closer, ready to provide help if needed but more than aware that Kara so obviously had it all under control.
It was as he got closer, though, that he noticed what the young girl was wearing. She was wearing red trainers, denim shorts and (most notably) a white shirt emblazoned with the House of El crest, specifically the Supergirl variant.
Percy smiled to himself at the sight of Kara, dressed down in tatty jeans, a worn grey shirt and sunglasses turning the little girl’s stifled cries into sweet laughter as tiny fingers pointed at the blue ice cream spot still on Kara’s nose. Kara blushed at the realisation before beaming brightly and muttering something in response that had the girl giggling loudly and totally unrestrained.
It was at that time a harried looking man appeared, thanking Kara profusely for coming to help his daughter. The single father had two other children, boys that had been running amok on the other side of the play park and as a result of their misbehaviour he had taken his eyes off his daughter for a minute.
Kara assured him it was no problem and wished them both well before walking back to Percy’s side.
“Is she alright?” Percy checked, despite already knowing that she was.
“Yeah,” Kara responded with a relieved sigh, “she’s a tough one.”
Percy glanced back over at the little girl who was waving enthusiastically at Kara as she sprinted to the slides, her dad chasing tiredly after her. “Looks like you just made her day…” Percy appraised.
Kara frowned in disagreement at the assessment, “I just told her a bad joke about-”
“Catch.” Percy called out a second after he threw an egg, that he had been keeping safely in his pocket, at Kara.
“Woah.” Kara reacted without thought, her hands instinctively coming together to create a bowl shape that caught the egg safely and uncracked. Kara’s jaw dropped as she took in the sight of the unharmed egg cradled in her hands, “I… I…”
Percy patted her shoulder proudly, “Sometimes a bad joke is all that a person needs. Don’t underestimate the difference you can make just by being you .”
Kara had been attending therapy for over a month and, whilst she wasn’t experiencing as drastic improvements as she had originally hoped for, there was no doubt that she was slowly and steadily making much needed progress.
She was now seeing Dr. Everett twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The Tuesday slot had become their more typical therapy sessions, they had started to talk a lot about Krypton and Kara’s early attempts at keeping her culture alive when she arrived on Earth. Kara found the sessions equal parts enlightening and frustrating. She had made the aim of her therapy to understand herself (Kara Zor-El) better but she felt like they’d missed an important step. Percy had gone straight to her past and ignored recent events. Not that Kara wanted to relive her red kryptonite experience by any stretch of the imagination. It was just… that was what she had really gone to therapy for… wasn’t it?
To learn how to trust herself.
To know how to fortify herself if it ever happened again.
To re-discover whatever part of herself the red K had taken away.
To be able to put the suit back on...
But… then again… Kara couldn’t deny that this focus was providing her with a stronger sense of self, a more tangible link to her identity. She found herself shifting between her two personality archetypes (bold, confident Supergirl and demure, kind-hearted Kara Danvers) less and less, easing into a more comfortable half-way point. She had started to bring back a few traditions from Krypton, nothing major or anything requiring alteration to her routine, a prayer before bed to Rao and reading a few kryptonian stories (she requested Alex to download them from Kelex) to keep her native language skills sharp.
Friday sessions, on the other hand, were far more active.
There had been two repeat trips to the desert so far. One was to re-try Kara's in-air egg catching capabilities - her strength control was now much better but her flight coordination left a lot to be desired. The other visit had focused on her heat vision. This time, instead of eggs, Percy had brought along decks of cards and metal stands which he set up to be Kara’s own personal target range.
It had started simple enough, just hit the cards - it didn’t matter where on the card or how much she fried them - just prove to herself that she still had a vague sense of aim. Then Dr. Everett stepped it up a gear, he requested that she pinpoint hit the suit identifiers on each card e.g. hit the five little diamonds on the five of diamonds card. This proved to be a much harder task. Kara had to modify the intensity of her heat vision to prevent burning through the entire card. It was difficult but eventually Kara proved that she still had the capability to fine-tune her control.
Then came the part where she faltered.
Percy asked her to do this task again but this time he provided a distraction.
He questioned her incessantly on the phantom zone. In-depth questions about its technical aspects. He pushed and prodded about her state of mind during her time there. And he demanded she describe what it felt like to be trapped, suffocating in darkness, utterly alone-
Kara ended up searing a burning line into the very landscape.
After those sessions, Percy had made it a routine that they go get ice cream in National Pack afterwards - Kara was steadily working her way through all the available flavours at the ice cream vendor - and enjoy the peace and quiet. During that time, Percy kept the conversation away from what Kara would call ‘therapy topics’ in her head. They talked about books for the most part, the doctor being an avid reader with an eclectic taste meant he had a vast library of books to share with Kara, who happily accepted all his recommendations.
The books he lent her were the key to slowly drawing her away from listlessly watching the television for most of the day. It provided her some much needed variety in her day-to-day and subsequently inspired her to bring back other activities into her life. She had dipped her toe into cooking in a bid to reduce her takeaway input and had even tried a couple of baking recipes that Kelly suggested via Alex. Kara had even started going out for long walks in the afternoon to break up her day and see how the city was carrying on without its resident superhero.
The answer, surprisingly, was the same as always.
The police and DEO had stepped up to fill the Supergirl-shaped hole admirably, developing their own sets of skills and strategies for handling any criminal that was out of the remit of ordinary humans’ capabilities.
Alex had also returned to being a recurrent feature in her life.
Kara didn’t always invite her in when she came by, sometimes the kryptonian just did not feel up to any sort of company but Alex always took it in her stride and they had started communicating through text again so that Kara could give Alex the heads up when she did or didn’t fancy company saving Alex from stopping by everyday.
At first, the sisters had kept to simple television viewing when they spent their evenings together.
This, unsurprisingly, resulted in Alex becoming equally hooked on Kara’s soap operas and led to her watching them at home when she wasn’t with Kara to stay in the loop. Their interest in a completely new show that wasn't linked to what they used to do or talk about prior to Kara’s red K incident gave them a common ground from which to rebuild their relationship.
It was scaffolding from which they could branch out from to different conversations and the firm ground they could return to if either of them wandered too far, too fast.
Soon, Kara was easily talking Alex through her day - her various cooking exploits, the books she was reading and the sights she’d seen on her walks. Alex, in turn, told Kara all about her various (mis)adventures at work and how the various super friends were doing.
(Alex let Kara know that all the superfriends wanted to see her but they would wait until she said she was ready, Kara appreciated that and Alex hadn’t brought it up again since, letting it be fully Kara’s decision).
There were still no-go topics for both sisters that they had to tread carefully around; details of Kara’s therapy sessions for Kara and anything related to a certain raven-haired CEO for Alex were shut-down before the first question was even voiced. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your opinion, Kara could infer a lot of information from what Alex didn’t say (Alex could, likewise, do the same with Kara).
Kara knew Lena was working regularly with the DEO. That she was one of the main reasons why the police and DEO agents were able to close the gap left by Supergirl so quickly and so effectively. Kara knew this because a number of Alex’s work stories jumped too suddenly in places, as if she was skipping over a key part of the tale. Nearly every single time this was linked to how they developed whatever life-saving piece of technology had helped them that day or the scientific breakthrough that had enabled them to discover their adversary’s weakness. On a handful of occasions, the skipped step would be after Alex admitted to doubting her own abilities and it was obvious that someone, other than Kelly, had stepped in and given her a much needed pep talk at a crucial moment.
Knowing Lena was doing well, at least with regards to her work with the DEO, helped but it opened up an empty space in her chest as if a crucial part of herself was missing just like in Alex’s stories.
She knew what was missing.
But she wasn’t ready to fill that hole yet.
She needed to know the rest of her was worthy enough to reclaim that missing piece first.
Alex, meanwhile, had at least worked out that Kara’s therapy was now helping her regain control of her powers. Alex, who knew Kara better than anyone, had undoubtedly realised that Kara’s confidence in her strength was returning as the blonde had started to become more tactile again; light pats on the shoulder, gentle squeezes of the hand or forearm and only a couple of days ago a quick side hug that had made both sisters tear up. She had also realised the significance of Kara going for walks instead of flying around the city as a sign that Kara was struggling with her flight.
However, it wasn’t until Alex presented Kara with a pair of sleek black earbuds that the blonde realised two key things.
Firstly, her sister would always, always, always know her better than anyone else. She had taken one look at Kara that first night the blonde had invited her in and knew the main power impacting Kara’s life was her super-hearing. It made sleeping difficult. Made her jump at sounds miles away. Made her head constantly ache and throb. Alex had seen straight to the heart of Kara’s issues with one glance.
Secondly, just because Alex wasn’t telling Kara anything about Lena, it did not mean that she wasn’t telling Lena about Kara.
The earbuds Alex presented to Kara late one evening, when inserted were barely visible and emitted a frequency that provided suitable white-noise to significantly quieten out the world. The design of the earbuds was exemplary and had taken Kara’s comfort greatly into consideration.
They could have only been created by one person.
From that point on Kara’s sleep massively improved. She was no longer jerked awake by a dog barking on the side of the city just as she was on the edge of sleep. She still had nightmares and a rather inconsistent sleeping pattern but even the slightest improvement made a world of difference.
Kara took to wearing the ear buds almost constantly as they freed her from the sheer noise of the rest of the world.
It was Thursday, early afternoon, and Kara was in the process of heading back towards her apartment after a long walk, when she was struck with the sudden craving for Noonan’s coffee and signature pastries.
And for the first time in months, Kara found herself willing to indulge that craving, and subsequently took the next left and headed towards her favourite coffee shop.
This was a big step for Kara, who had only interacted with her sister and Dr. Everett for the last handful of months. The concept of interacting with anyone else, trying to string together a normal conversation whilst she had such fragile control over her powers truly terrified Kara in the wake of her red K exposure.
People were inherently chaotic. Interactions of any kind had thousands of possible outcomes, and Kara feared even the small number that could result in her losing control and hurting someone.
What if they had red kryptonite?
What if they annoyed Kara?
What if Kara got distracted?
What if, what if, what if….
She knew her strength control was there, that her instincts were still good. Her heat vision was another matter and still required work but Percy had taught her a number of breathing exercises to complete if she felt her emotions getting out of hand which had proven to be effective when she felt the heat beginning to prickle behind her eyes.
So, Kara had re-gained a degree of confidence in herself and had tools at her disposal that she could utilise if there was even the slightest indication of trouble. It also helped that Kara knew Noonan’s, knew what to expect from the environment and it was only a short distance away from her apartment, making her escape if required easier.
Kara entered her familiar haunt and focused on keeping her breathing even. She queued quietly, thankful for the ear-buds which successfully diminished the general noise of the coffee shop and repeated her order in her head. When she approached the counter, it was as simple as it had always been.
She asked for her usual coffee and a cinnabon to go.
She paid, waited and then collected her order.
It was the most mundane coffee buying experience Kara had ever had… and she was beyond proud of herself for it.
She had reclaimed something for herself and that was worth celebrating.
Kara took a sip of her drink, finding it far superior to anything she could have brewed at home, and made to leave with a light bounce to her step when-
She only just stopped herself from crashing into the woman coming through the door, having been so absorbed in her own achievement.
“I am so sorry!” Kara apologised profusely; reaching out to hold the door open for the woman coming through struggling with a heavy handbag and cane.
It was the sight of the cane, the flash of dark hair and a shock of vibrant green that made Kara freeze as she finally took in who was standing before her.
Rao, she's beautiful.
That had been Kara's very first thought when she had made eye contact with the most mesmerising green eyes she had ever seen. It didn’t matter that she was quietly shadowing her cousin or that she was expected to view the youngest Luthor with inherent and deep-seated suspicion. The second she saw Lena… truly saw her… all logic and reason went out the window.
When Kara had first described Lena as beautiful (she was ashamed to admit) it had been a purely superficial based (yet totally accurate) descriptor. It was an indisputable fact that Lena was the most beautiful woman Kara had seen. Her lustrous dark hair, sharp jaw and seductive smirk achieved the impossible… they made Kara's palms sweaty, made her tongue-tied and shy.
Then Kara had gotten to know Lena.
Really know her.
Time passed but Kara always had the exact same first thought spring to mind whenever she laid eyes on Lena regardless of how short or long they were apart. But, now... the sentiment behind that single word had shifted.
The meaning of it developed and grew as she discovered that underneath Lena's beautiful external appearance was hidden an even more beautiful soul. Lena was kind and far more generous than she had any reason to be when the world had treated her so unfairly from such a young age. She was smart and not embarrassed to admit it, but she was still humble, still eager to learn and ready to acknowledge that she didn’t have all the answers. She was strong and committed to doing the right thing despite the luring tug of acceptance and approval from family - Kara acknowledged that even she wouldn’t be strong enough to resist if she was in Lena’s position.
Beautiful inside and out.
And she was just as beautiful as always when Kara nearly collided with her on the way out of Noonan's that Thursday afternoon.
“Lena…” Kara breathed out in a mix of shock and utter wonder.
She was dressed somewhat casual - for Lena at least - in loose linen trousers that allowed for a sleek black walker boot on her right leg to fit more easily, she was wearing a soft, pale blue jumper and her hair was down and curling at the ends ever so slightly. (Kara’s hands twitched by her sides with the impulsive and familiar desire to run her fingers through those dark locks.) Lena stood tall despite leaning on a silver handled cane and having a bag, weighed down by a heavy-duty folder and laptop, slung over her shoulder. Wide (utterly perfect) green eyes were staring fixedly into Kara’s blue ones.
“Kara?” Lena murmured, as if worried that she was merely hallucinating the sight of the blonde kryptonian. “I didn’t expect… I wasn’t… I don’t….” She mumbled, her words and thoughts half-formed and incredulous. Lena inhaled deeply, so obviously taking the time to compose herself. The immediate shock dissipated to be replaced with a soft, yet hesitant expression, “You look...”
Kara could barely breathe, let alone speak in the presence of the woman she loved so dearly. She was terrified of saying the wrong thing, of damaging what was left between them even further, to a point beyond repair.
“Well. You look well.” Lena said simply, her green eyes flickering over Kara’s features so tenderly and greedily. It was as if she had thought she would never see them again and had been given a fleeting miracle, another glimpse of light after being in darkness.
Kara felt her cheeks flush with heat and colour under the intensity of Lena’s gaze, feeling so… so… so…
Unworthy of it.
That was the crux of the matter.
That was her reason for why she had pushed Lena away, had run from her into the welcoming abyss of being alone and hidden away.
She didn’t think she deserved her anymore.
She hoped that with therapy, with luck and the guidance of Rao that she could find her way back to who she once was. She believed, however, that who she currently was... was not good enough.
That she paled in comparison to who she once was.
That she was fundamentally broken .
And Kara didn’t want to expose Lena to the broken parts of herself. She wanted to be Lena’s hero, that was her favourite thing to be in the whole world. Lena wouldn’t want her once she knew how weak she really was.
Kara had committed herself to getting fixed. To return fully to who she once was and then seeking out Lena, earning her back as the full, fixed version of herself.
Lena ducked her head and let out a sigh, stepping out of the doorway that she had been blocking, “You were on your way out… I should let you go. It was good to see you.”
Kara nodded stiffly, her feet feeling like cement and her heart hammering painfully in her chest as she started to walk away from Lena.
It was the glint of the cane alongside the churning nausea of guilt and ignorance in her stomach that made her stop and turn back earning her a curious eyebrow raise from the raven haired woman who had clearly expected Kara to bolt at the first opening.
Kara would have left. Should have left.
But, she needed to know.
Not just to rub further salt into her own guilt-inflicted wounds but… it was Lena… her heart would never recover from not taking the opportunity to ask about Lena’s well-being which she valued more than anything else. She wanted to know the extent of her injuries, what treatment she had received, how was she getting on, was she eating well, sleeping well, not working too hard-
She had to know Lena was being taken care of.
Unfortunately, what came out of Kara’s mouth in a bid for answers was a stuttering, stumbling mess of near incoherence and uncertainty, “Your leg? Is it… Ummm… does it...”
Thankfully, Lena got the gist.
The CEO glanced self-consciously down at her injured leg, which made Kara’s eyes sting with poorly suppressed moisture at making Lena uncomfortable about any part of herself.
“My doctor says I should expect a full recovery.” Lena revealed quietly, her voice yanking Kara out of her descent into self-loathing and allowing her to see the small, yet encouraging smile taking up residence on the dark-haired woman’s face.
“That’s… that’s… great….” Kara exhaled deeply in relief, the tightness around her heart and chest easing up ever so slightly. She tucked the brown bag under her arm so that she could fiddle with her glasses more easily as she questioned, “And the rest of you? How are you?”
Lena pursed her lips thoughtfully as she considered her answer, “I’m… working on it….”
It was as if someone had punched a crater into the very core of Kara’s being, every muscle in her body snapped to attention at the answer.
“Is there something wrong? Do you have other injuries?” Kara questioned sharply; she was desperate to tilt up her glasses and examine Lena with her x-ray version but acutely aware that with her current state of emotional wroughtness she in no way trusted her vision not to flip to heat.
A light, barely-there touch to Kara’s elbow, soothed her rapidly spiralling anxiety and kept it from bubbling over. Long, pale fingers swiftly retreated back to Lena’s side, fearful of overstaying their welcome and satisfied that they had provided comfort just when Kara had needed it the most.
“A few.” Lena admitted; blue eyes snapped up to meet green that were studying her with such open and earnest affection that Kara, inadvertently found herself leaning towards the sheer love that Lena was offering. “Time will fix the majority.”
“But not all of them?” Kara breathed out in question; now so much closer to Lena.
Lena’s eyes turned sad and lost as a hand lifted up to stroke Kara’s cheek. “Don’t know yet. Though... I now have good reason to be optimistic.”
Kara shuddered at the sentiment and the cool, softness of Lena’s touch, her eyes slipping closed in bliss as she pretended, for just a few heartbeats, that nothing had changed. She was still the same old Kara, hopelessly in love with her best friend who was just as in love with her in return.
“I miss you, Kara.” Lena confessed, her voice cracking over the barely audible tone.
“I... I… I…”, Kara’s eyes blinked open at the revelation, and she jerked away from Lena’s touch like it was burning through her skin.
For a fraction of the second, the CEO was unable to hide how crestfallen she was by Kara’s sudden retreat before it disappeared behind an understanding face.
“It’s okay, I don’t expect… I don’t expect anything.” Lena assured, utterly sincere.
Lena’s touch had been purifying and welcome. It had made Kara instantly want to curl up into her softness and take shelter in her. She wanted to fall apart and let Lena help put her back together again.
But then, Lena would see… would know… that she was broken.
She hadn’t pulled herself back together yet.
“I can’t do this… I’m not ready...” Kara muttered, more to herself than to Lena, as she backed away clumsily.
Lena’s expression was pained, on the edge of distraught, but her green eyes were resolute and accepting, “I understand.”
Kara felt the flare of heat in her eyes and focused on taking deep, steady breaths as she dodged around the raven-haired woman, desperate to get home and hide her broken pieces away from daylight.
“I miss you, too.” Kara whispered as she passed by the love of her life, unable to stop the words from tumbling out. Kara didn’t know if she said it in the hope that it would ease the troubled, heartbroken expression on Lena’s face or if she said it for purely selfish reasons, just because she needed to say it, needed Lena to know how she really felt.
Kara slammed her apartment door behind her with a kick of the leg, causing the whole building to tremble with the force, before she deposited her still steaming coffee and pastry on the kitchen island.
Now locked safely away in an environment she found comforting and her hands free to move. Kara began to pace, moving her hands up and down in time with the deep breaths she was taking in the rhythm that Percy had taught her.
She was forced to close her eyes when the simmering heat burned on relentlessly, and she feared unleashing her heat vision on her own home.
The breathing kept her fluctuating powers under control… just…
But did little to quiet the thoughts and memories rampaging through her mind.
She was reliving it. Every little detail.
Every cutting remark, manipulation and hurt she had doled out to the woman she loved so dearly.
She had escalated from possessive to controlling steadily over time. Lena had immediately twigged that something wasn’t right, had tried to help but Kara cut back with cruel, cruel words. She had wanted to keep Lena under her thumb.
At first, she had claimed it was to keep her safe and protected.
To keep her happy.
Then it just became about keeping Lena, in any form.
Kara threw Lena’s family, her mother, her doubts and deep-seated fears at her, but Lena fought back. Lena took the cruelty without much fight, originally Kara had believed that meant her twisted version of love was working but all along Lena was playing her. Playing the docile woman to keep Kara under observation whilst her, Alex and the superfriends rushed to create a cure.
Kara’s fury upon discovering her friends’ plot had been apocalyptic.
She had hunted down her friends with full fire and fury.
They had all convened at L-Corp where Lena had been working on the cure right under Kara’s nose, knowing she would have found it in an instant at the DEO.
It was a miracle, beyond a miracle, that Kara didn’t kill anyone.
She came close. Far too close for Kara to ever be able to look at her own reflection the same way ever again.
J’onn had been forced to clear the building to prevent innocent workers from being caught in Kara’s careless and unforgiving crossfire.
Nia had stepped up to face her, holding her at bay single-handedly to provide time for Lena and Brainy to finalise the cure. If it wasn’t for a well-timed dodge, Nia would not have walked away from their fight with merely a broken arm and bruised ribs.
Lena handed the cure to Brainy, J’onn and Alex who stepped forward to administer it to the frenzied Supergirl.
The fight that followed was brutal.
And Kara, in her unleashed, uncontrollable rage brought the L-Corp building down to the ground… with Lena still inside.
That brought Kara to a standstill. The realisation of the damage she had wrought.
The pure, chilling fear that she may have killed Lena.
Killed the person that she had been so utterly consumed with keeping safe.
The horror of her actions made Kara freeze and gave Alex the opportunity she needed to strike, firing the cure into her.
Breathe in... 1… 2… 3…
Breathe out... 1… 2... 3…
The heat receded from her gaze as the memories quietened.
Kara stood still in the middle of her apartment, arms wrapped tightly around herself whilst tears streamed down her cheeks.
She needed to fix this. Needed to prove that she could be the hero again. Save the day.
She needed… Supergirl.
With that sudden realisation, Kara straightened up and gritted her teeth and decided then and there that her next therapy session would solely focus on getting her back in the suit.
Percy knew something was wrong the second he laid eyes on Kara standing uneasily in the waiting room outside his office. Her gaze was fixed and she seemed too still. There were dark shadows back under her eyes that had been starting to dissipate and recede over the last few weeks. Her jaw was clenched so harshly that Percy felt his own teeth ache in sympathy.
It was like she was a tightly coiled spring, compressed as much as physically possible and whatever had been holding back the spring’s stored energy had been finally removed. Kara exemplified that seemingly eternal second where the spring was on the precipice of shooting forward to unleash its pent-up energy.
Percy had known this was coming.
He had known from the second he had been informed of the red kryptonite and what it was capable of.
He had been trying to delay. Not for his benefit. Not in the slightest.
He had to take the time to research to ensure he was confident in his understanding.
He had to provide enough time for their relationship to develop, for Kara to have a level of trust in his ability as a doctor and as someone who wouldn’t lie or mislead her.
He had to give Kara the tools she would need to be able to suitably handle this conversation. He had to make sure she was comfortable in this environment; which she had steadily become more and more so as time passed. She now accepted a cup of tea from him at the beginning of their sessions and she settled easily onto the sofa, no longer as wary of causing unintentional damage.
He had to ensure she felt suitably in control of her powers to feel like she could cope with any sudden emotional spikes that occured. And she had proven that already to a degree.
Her strength appeared to no longer be an issue; her movements appeared far more natural, less tense and robotic, and it was obvious that she was trusting in her unconscious mind to regulate her strength again. Her hearing appeared to be suitably mollified by the headphones she had been given (Percy had asked if Kara could share the research behind them for his own edification, she had asked her sister and presented him an intriguing set of documents that revealed the mind behind their design to be utterly astonishing).
Her laser vision, admittedly, was still a weak point.
Percy could only presume (from the stories Kara had shared of her first learning to use it) that it was due to the emotional component required to trigger it from the start. Kara was doing much better with it, though, without a doubt. She may not have achieved seamless control but Kara could tell when it was activating and when she was struggling for control and found suitable coping mechanisms to keep it contained that had proven effective.
But most importantly, Kara had to be willing to speak, to voice her honest concerns without fear of reprisal or loss.
With that mental checklist complete, Percy knew they should be able to have this conversation now.
There was no doubt, though, that he would have preferred to have more time. Just because they had achieved the minimum requirement on Percy’s list does not mean he wouldn’t have liked to reinforce a few of the points. Percy had been helping Kara find her voice, but he would have preferred her to have a bit more faith in it. He also would have liked to have started to explore the ideas that they would inevitably touch on in this session to build some groundwork and give Kara some familiarity to fall back on if need be.
Oh well, it couldn’t be helped, Percy thought to himself, straightening up slightly in preparation as he welcomed Kara into his office. He offered her a drink; she turned down her usual tea that she had started having but accepted a glass of water before sitting down, back ramrod straight and hands on knees. She barely said a word, her greeting had been short, and where possible she responded with nods and shakes of the head.
Percy, meanwhile, settled himself in his armchair, but did not bother getting out his notepad and pen. He did not want to be hampered by its presence on his knee nor be distracted with the need to take notes. He would have to jot down anything of import at the end.
“So, you were telling me about those first few days of school on Earth.” Percy began, picking up where they had left off last time.
Previously, they had explored her time with the Danvers closely but Percy had made it clear he also wanted to learn about her early interactions with the wider community, knowing this would heavily shape how she had crafted her ‘human’ identity. It was these early moments on Earth that would have initiated the split in her identity of Kara Danvers and Kara Zor El into different entities.
“How was school different to the education system on Krypton?” Percy prompted.
Kara didn’t answer him. She was staring off to one side, her gaze far-off and distant.
Percy waited. He had thought they might get through at least one question before Kara built up the nerve to swing the topic to where she wanted it to be, but clearly whatever had given her that kick was beyond powerful.
“Can we stop with all this useless crap?” Kara whispered darkly with a dismissive shake of her head.
“Useless?” Percy repeated putting on a tone of disinterest, not offended in the slightest despite disagreeing wholeheartedly.
Kara’s eyes snapped up to meet his, angered by the lack of interest indicated by his tone and expression, “Yes, useless! This won’t help me get back in the suit! It won’t help me get past the red K!”
Percy merely arched a curious eyebrow at her as he sincerely inquired, “And what will get you past the red K?”
Kara sprung to her feet to begin erratically pacing the space in between the sofa and coffee table needing an outlet for her energy. She continued to grind her teeth together, “Fixing whatever is wrong with me that made me do those awful things!” She eventually spat out, her blue eyes wild and desperate, “You need to help me take responsibility for my actions! Make it so I will never do anything like that again!”
Percy sighed despondently, “I can’t do that, Kara.” Kara began to wring her hands together in a facsimile of the begging action and Percy’s heart clenched at how close she was to pleading. “I can’t,” Percy repeated softly, his eyes apologetic and filled with pity, “in good consciousness, make you take responsibility for things that aren’t your fault. The red K made you do those terrible things, Kara, it wasn’t you .”
Percy knew her reaction to this statement would be strong.
He had just told her the very last thing she wanted to hear.
Kara’s face didn’t just darken... it was like she was being consumed by a black hole. All warmth evaporated. Her blue eyes became colder than ice. Her expression twisted almost beyond recognition into an agonised mess.
“YES IT WAS!” Kara screamed, her hands clenching into fists that she proceeded to beat painfully against her own chest as if to physically throw all the blame at herself. “I DID THOSE THINGS! I HURT MY FRIENDS! MY SISTER! LENA!” Tears were streaming, unacknowledged, and glistening like snow-flakes down her cheeks, as her legs trembled beneath her with the desire to collapse in on herself. “I CHOSE TO DO THAT!”
“No, you did not. ” Percy asserted, strong and clear, needing his words to be unambiguous in the hope of penetrating her devastation. “You did not choose to do any of those things.”
“I wanted to do those things!” Kara shouted in return, her face steadily heading towards crimson with the ferocity of the emotions she was discharging. Her hands moved to cover her ears, her fingers digging tightly into her own scalp. “The red K brings out the worst in you, gets you to indulge your dark, twisted desires. My dark, twisted desires. It was still me! Some part of me wanted to do those things!”
The sheer self-loathing in Kara’s blue eyes was like a physical blow to Percy’s chest and he knew he had to do something. Had to take back control. She had let out her emotions but was now spiralling, he needed to seize upon his authority to help her make sense of what was happening… what had happened.
“No, Kara!” He yelled, his voice booming and echoing endlessly around the room, as he got to his feet.
Percy avoided raising his voice wherever he could but he knew in that moment that Kara just wouldn’t have heard him otherwise. Her hands going over her ears had been the give-away that her super-hearing was fluctuating and the noise had been overwhelming; he had, therefore, been forced to rise above the crescendo she was currently being forced to endure.
His response proved effective.
Her blue eyes wide in shock, completely taken aback by the doctor’s raised voice.
“No.” Percy repeated quieter and more controlled now, watching as Kara slowly exhaled and crumpled to the floor, pulling her knees tight to her chest and curling protectively around herself.
Percy stepped cautiously around the coffee table and knelt down nearby, just out of arm’s reach so that he was on the same level as her but not encroaching on the safe, personal, space she was creating for herself.
“That was not you . And you did not have any choice in it.” Percy said firmly to her, watching her profile closely for signs that she was listening to him. He let out a tired sigh, as Kara kept her head buried, before admitting quietly, “I wanted to give you more time, give you more tools before we handled this, but I see it can’t wait any longer.” Percy cleared his throat, “Kara, what does red K do?”
Kara shifted in her spot, her head lifting up and turning to rest on her folded arms so that she could meet Percy’s kind gaze with her teary, red-rimmed, hollow blue eyes.
“It…” Kara began, licking her dry lips as she tried to think through the heaviness following her emotional outburst, “brings out the worst in people, plays into their fears and insecurities.”
“In a way.” Percy agreed encouragingly, before asking gently, “Do you want to know what it really does?”
“Like I don’t already know. I experienced it.” Kara scoffed derisively, her bottom lip trembling with the memories that undoubtedly followed her words.
Percy took a deep breath, meeting wary blue eyes head on as he revealed, “It takes away your consent, Kara.”
Kara flinched, for a second her expression was replaced by one of total confusion. “My consent?”
“Your consent.” Percy repeated, “It took away your ability to choose how you respond.”
Kara blinked rapidly and shook her head haltingly from side, further belying the lack of certainty behind her stuttered disagreement. “No… I… I… wanted to do those things…”
Percy smiled sadly at her before shifting to rest his back against the sofa and shuffle just a little closer to the blonde before he clasped his hands in his lap in what Kara would now start to recognise as his ‘story-time’ position.
“When I was in middle school, there was a boy in the year above me.” Percy explained, turning his gaze towards the window behind his armchair and away from Kara, who he could feel was watching him closely. “Every day after school, he would corner me behind the bleachers and beat me until I was black and blue, until I could barely breathe. He would take everything I had in my possession and stomp on it underfoot.”
Percy sneaked a glance at the young woman next to him, wanting to gauge her reaction to his next coolly-delivered statement, “I hated him, Kara. Absolutely hated him.”
Kara’s expression was understanding and forgiving, which didn’t surprise him at all, her heart was so kind and selfless that - despite everything she was going through - it was obvious she wanted to provide him comfort. Percy merely turned back to the light of the window as he continued his tale.
“My parents moved and I started at a high school far away. But I never forgot. And I certainly never forgave what he did to me. I never let go of my hatred.” Percy confessed, “I met him again at a college party a few years later when I was visiting some friends. When I saw him, for the first time... I barely resisted the desire to punch him, to hurt him… the very worst of me wanted to exact my revenge.”
Percy, finally, turned back to face the blonde, “Do you know what I did instead?”
Kara pursed her lips, brow furrowing as she assessed him.
He didn’t wait for her to answer, he didn’t need her to. Before guessing what he would do most people would unwittingly work out what they would do in that scenario first and then translate the situation to the person in question. He merely wanted Kara to put herself in his shoes. Work out how she would react.
“I merely nodded at him in greeting and asked my friends if we could go somewhere else.” Percy explained, “I chose to do that. I chose to walk away. Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me I would have had that same choice if I had been affected by red kryptonite?”
“I…”, Kara’s mouth opened and closed, but no words escaped.
He gave her time to answer but the silence that followed was answer enough.
“No, you can’t.” Percy affirmed, reaching out very carefully to place a comforting hand on Kara’s shoulder. She didn’t flinch away from his touch which Percy took to be a good sign. “The red k took away your consent, Kara. I know your friends and family have been trying to tell you this since it happened. And I know you don’t believe them…. And you probably won’t believe me… but it was not your fault.”
The tears had restarted now, accompanied but light sobs, “But… But…”
“It was not your fault, Kara.” Percy repeated, clear and firm, knowing that she could hear him this time.
Kara wiped away the tear trails with a harsh swipe of her hand before she turned to face Percy, her voice broken and beseeching, “How can I reconcile that some part of me wanted to do those things?”
“Kara, you can’t judge anyone by the sum of their worst parts.” Percy whispered gently, “You just can’t. Everyone has dark thoughts. Moments of weakness. It is how we choose to respond to those thoughts and feelings that define who we are.” Kara's breaths were sharp and stuttery; Percy squeezed her shoulder as he suggested, “Judge people by how they strive to be better than their worst parts. How they choose to improve, and rise above their darkness. That wasn’t you, Kara, because you didn’t get to choose, you didn’t get to choose who you were in those moments.”
Kara stared up at the ceiling, resting the back of her head on the sofa cushion as she said, her tone taking on something similar (or at least adjacent) to accepting. “I never wanted to hurt them, any of them.”
Percy’s lips tugged up at the edges into a relieved smile, “I know. And they know that.” He squeezed her shoulder once more, “We just need to work on convincing you of that.”
Kara returned home, solemn and withdrawn. Head hung low and shoulders caved in.
Percy had tried to encourage her to phone Alex when she got home but didn’t push the matter. He saw that she needed headspace to try and come to terms with what she had learned in their most recent session. However, it was also obvious that she would need support and comfort eventually and he wanted her to have that ready and on hand. Kara murmured an unconvincing assurance that she would reach out to her sister before departing, uncaring about the heavy rainfall outside leading to Percy insisting she borrow an umbrella to stay somewhat dry on her journey home.
Even in her current state of mental turmoil Kara fleetingly recognised Percy giving her the umbrella as a less than subtle attempt to ensure she wouldn’t skip their next session, knowing she would feel obligated to return it. Kara appreciated the thought and Percy’s attempts to help her within the confines of his role as her therapist.
Upon closing the reinforced door to her apartment, Kara exhaled heavily, feeling the final thread that had been keeping her together since walking out of Percy’s office snapping and breaking her apart. She immediately slumped down onto the floor, her back against the door, her legs bent awkwardly beneath her and her hands flat against the cold wood needing to feel something solid and sure to hold onto.
What Percy had revealed to her settled whatever it was inside her that had been restless since she had been exposed to red kryptonite, but it had also unleashed a whole host of other demons.
Before, Kara had been trying to accept her own part, her own fault, in everything that had occurred. She had been waking up every morning and trying to throw responsibility for pain and hurt that she had inflicted on others solely onto her own shoulders. Deep down Kara had been aware that she had also had pain and hurt inflicted on herself, but she had thrown that piece of herself into a corner of her mind and heart and ordered it to be quiet. From the start, she had been exclusively painting herself as the villain, the monster… now though?
Now, she wasn’t the villain or the monster as she had been working tirelessly to convince herself of.
Now, she was just… the victim.
Kara didn’t like that label.
Actually, it wasn’t that she disliked it… it was that she hated it.
She was meant to be the hero, the saviour. She was meant to be strong and brave. Face up to the bad guys and save the day.
It was easier to be the villain, to be responsible. Because the other option is accepting that she had no control over the situation. That she had just been utterly powerless or weak …
Kara wasn’t powerless or weak.
She didn’t need saving.
She saved people.
She didn’t stand by and do nothing.
She had control, she had power, she was strong…
She wasn’t weak anymore.
She didn’t need to be saved anymore.
She wasn’t lost and alone.
She wasn’t thirteen anymore, watching her planet burn.
And there it was.
The sudden sound of Kara breathing in sharply echoed around the apartment. It made Kara’s eardrums throb as she tried to prevent the sobs desperately trying to escape and wreck her body.
“I won’t cry. I won’t cry. I won’t cry.” Kara whispered over and over again to herself. She wouldn’t accept the tears for herself. She wouldn’t. She wouldn’t. Crying would mean crying for herself. Crying like she was a little girl lost in space and without a home again. “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. Please don’t cry.” Kara pleaded with herself, feeling so, so, so uncomfortable in her own skin.
She had been powerless to stop herself from hurting her friends and family.
And now, she needed some level of control again.
She latched onto not crying, believing that if she could just stop herself from crying, could prevent the tears from falling, she could prove that she was in control, that she was the one making the decisions and then, by extension, she wasn’t helpless… she wasn’t the same lost little girl…
She didn’t cry.
It was a victory, but it felt hollow. Unbearably hollow. All it did was prevent the cathartic release she so desperately needed, bottling it up and amplifying the stored pain inside.
Kara eventually managed to pull herself to her feet and stagger to the couch which she lay down on, pulling the mottled blanket laying across the back of it around herself. She knew she should get up, have something to eat and reach out to her sister to prevent her regression back to the unhealthy coping habits she had formed in her first few days following the aftermath of the red K but…
She just didn’t have it in herself.
She just felt numb and utterly disconnected not just from the world but from herself. Her body and mind no longer felt like her own and she just couldn’t bring herself to feel, let alone react, to the pangs of hunger and need for comfort.
It was with a detached interest that Kara turned on the television, listlessly flicking through the available channels. She would watch something for five, maybe ten, minutes before switching it to something else that she found as equally un-captivating. Kara was barely aware of the passage time, one minute her apartment was bright and lit up by the light of the day, the next it was darker and the only illumination provided was from the too bright pixels of the television screen.
“This is National City News, Caroline Stuart with the headlines.”
Kara placed the remote back down, settling down to watch another five minutes before changing to the car makeover show she knew would be on one channel up.
The news anchor, Caroline, was older than most news presenters but she was highly reputed and had an air of such dignity and seriousness that whenever she spoke just about everyone straightened up slightly to ensure they were giving her their full attention. Kara had always liked her and admired her work, using a lot of her exemplary investigative pieces as inspiration when Kara was trying to find her feet as a reporter in her early days.
Kara winced at the reminder of her job. She’d barely given it a second thought over the last couple of months, unable to summon the will or the needed enthusiasm to return to the job she loved so dearly. Alex had let her know, on one of their evening get togethers, as casually as she could that Kara’s job was still hers once she felt upto returning to it (yet another Lena intervention, Kara assumed).
She wasn’t ready to deal with the constant reminders of her failing career on top of everything else, prompting her to snatch up the remote, intent on changing the channel after less than a handful of seconds when-
“Headline tonight; L-Corp’s CEO, Lena Luthor, assures share-holders and the public that the ZEUS energy source - which is set to provide clean energy to the entire city in the next few years is under heightened security after it was identified as a potential high priority target in the wake of a string of high tech robberies over the last few months.”
Kara immediately froze as the screen shifted to show Lena at a podium, clearly from earlier that day, dressed in her familiar business attire: tight red skirt, silky white shirt and red, form-fitting blazer. Her hair was up and pulled tight, her expression sharp and authoritative as she stared down the camera.
“ZEUS, is one of the most powerful energy sources on this side of the country.” Lena revealed, a challenging smirk playing at the edges of her lips. “I have been advised by the joint law enforcement task force investigating the robbery of Lord Technologies and Wayne Enterprises that ZEUS is a high potential target due to its high energy output and compact size.”
It was at that point, the camera zoomed out to reveal the uniformed police officers flanking Lena on either side as well as… Alex and other black-uniformed DEO agents. Kara jolted up on the sofa, on instant alert as she slowly realised what Lena was doing and what the DEO had planned.
“With this in mind, balanced with the needs of not delaying ZEUS’ development which intends to provide cheap, clean energy to the city, the decision has been made to transport ZEUS to a secure L-Corp lab outside the city with heightened security. This should secure National City’s future without detriment to when that future will occur.” Lena nodded her head to indicate that she had finished her report, and made to hand over the questions and any further briefings to the taskforce lead.
The report cutaway at that point, returning to Caroline in the studio, who provided a quick review of the history of ZEUS’ development and the thieves’ past crimes before bringing on a former detective and a technical expert to provide analysis of this recent development.
Kara, however, didn’t really hear any of this; she was already rushing to the kitchen counter where she had left her bag from earlier and digging through it to find her phone. She had two messages from Alex checking in on her and asking if she would like company either today or tomorrow. Kara ignored both messages, hitting dial instead.
Alex picked up on the second ring, her voice quiet and curious, clearly surprised by her sister calling when she had avidly avoided doing such over the last few months, “Hello?”
“You’re using her as bait!” Kara practically shouted down the phone, not bothering with any form of greeting, earning her a wince from Alex on the other end.
“I don’t-” Alex began, clearly intent on playing dumb or denying it.
“Don’t!” Kara interjected, before her sister could even finish her first thought. “I saw the news. Lena practically said ‘take me on’ and you were there backing her up.” Kara breathed heavily, her teeth audibly grinding as she focused on keeping her adrenaline low and her emotions under control.
There was silence on the other end of the phone as Alex presumably decided on the best course of action, obviously aware of Kara’s distress and the need to handle the situation carefully.
“We’re not using her as bait.” Alex said after a thoughtful pause.
“Bullshit!” Kara snapped back.
Another long silence followed, her sister stunned by Kara’s flippant and easy swear word usage.
“It’s not bullshit, Kara.” Alex murmured, keeping her voice steady and neutral (Kara fleeting wondered if Kelly had prepped her for a moment like this or if her sister’s girlfriend was next to her giving her guidance). “We are using ZEUS as bait, yes. But not Lena.” Alex explained.
“And where will they go to find out where ZEUS is, huh?” Kara argued in return. “National City’s number one kidnap victim. Why the hell would you think this was a good idea?!”
“They won’t go after Lena, Kara, I promise.” Alex reassured softly, yet firmly.
“How can you know that? They always go for her and this time, I’m not-” Kara’s words halted in her throat leaving a strangled gasp in their wake.
Alex’s sigh in response was so sympathetic it was the audible equivalent of a hug. “Kara, I swear she’s safe.” Alex reaffirmed, before dropping her volume to highlight that she was revealing classified information. “We have a pretty good idea about who the thieves are and we know that they are working on something pretty heavy duty. Brainy worked out they would need a pretty powerful energy supply. Hence, ZEUS. We’ve given them a way to get the information they need without having to go through Lena.” Alex promised, her tone utterly sincere. “I wouldn’t put her in danger. Not only do I know how much she means to you but… she’s my friend too.”
Kara’s jaw clenched and un-clenched as the fear in the pit of her stomach roiled on and on despite Alex’s assurances. “Then why use anything to do with L-Corp in the first place?” Kara questioned.
Another heavy sigh from her sister, this one of resignation. “She offered…” Alex confessed.
“Of course, she did.” Kara muttered despondently before hanging up, grabbing her bag and leaving her apartment.
Kara stood outside Lena’s house, shifting nervously from foot to foot, uncertain whether she would be welcome.
Lena’s home could only be described as suburban. The only thing it needed was a white picket fence and children playing in the front yard to fully encapsulate the american dream.
Lena hadn’t always lived here. For the first year after moving to National City and as her friendship with Kara grew and blossomed, Lena lived in the penthouse suite of one of the most luxurious apartment buildings in the city. It had been decorated in the exact way you would expect the CEO of the largest technological empire to decorate it. White lines, shiny surfaces, large open spaces and the sense that you had stepped into a model home from the future. The thing about model homes though is that they are too polished and too perfect to ever feel like someone actually lived there.
It was about nine months into their first year of friendship, (best friendship by this point), Lena had started to spend the majority of her time when not at work at Kara’s apartment, insisting whenever they had movie nights or sleepovers that they have them at Kara’s apartment. Kara had originally misinterpreted this as Lena not wanting Kara in her home, but it steadily became apparent that Lena simply preferred Kara’s home to her own.
Lena eventually revealed that her penthouse apartment had been a Luthor asset that she had moved into because it was easy and she hadn’t intended to spend much time at home anyway after moving her company. It hadn’t been the home she picked for herself, it was yet another leftover Luthor memento that she was having to live with and, due to her intensive work hours, had never taken the time to stamp her own mark on it.
It was with encouragement and support from Kara that Lena went house-hunting. At first Lena (with Kara by her side) viewed other penthouses and apartments trying to conform to expectations. Kara, eventually, made Lena describe what her ideal home would be. The very first thing on the list was a garden, a quiet place for her to relax and read outside without scrutiny from others.
Listings for apartments and penthouses went into the bin and Kara helped Lena create a shortlist of homes.
The second they turned up to view what would become Lena’s future home, Kara knew it was the one. She watched as Lena instantly relaxed and settled into herself. It was a two-storey house at the very end of a cul-de-sac, meaning the neighbours on either side couldn’t look into the garden, there was also a large oak tree in the back that provided shade and the tall hedgerows provided even more privacy. It also came with a sizable garage that Lena converted into a workshop to tinker with her collection of classic cars on rotation on the weekend. It even had a stereotypical front porch and a classic ‘Welcome’ mat.
It was the epitome of a family home and as such encapsulated everything Lena had ever wanted.
Lena moved in within a week, all of the Superfriends insisting on helping her decorate it the exact way she wanted it. Light blues and greys covered the walls making the house even brighter.
After Lena moved, the time the two best friends spent together shifted from Kara’s apartment in favour of Lena’s new home. It practically became Kara’s second home, who loved being surrounded by everything that was Lena (and obviously Lena, herself).
Now, she was standing outside looking in trying to build up the courage to approach the security team parked out front to ask if she was okay to knock on the front door. Before everything, Kara wouldn’t have doubted that her name would be on the list of permitted guests but now… now, after everything, why would Lena trust her with entrance into her home?
She could have flown into the garden or onto the front porch as she used to do, but she still lacked confidence in her flight and if she was already doubting if she was welcome via the standard entrance there was no way she would try to sneak in and in any way force her presence on Lena.
Taking a deep breath and readying herself for rejection, Kara approached the house, causing one of the security guards in all black to step out of the car, a hand hovering close to his right side indicating a concealed weapon.
“Everything alright, ma’am?” He called out loud and clear, to prevent misunderstanding.
Kara stood still, her hands twitching nervously by her sides as she stuttered out a timid reply that sounded more like a question than an answer. “Um...I… I wanted to visit my friend, Lena?”
The steely-eyed guard looked her up and down with an assessing stare, “Name?”
“Um… Kara Z- Uh… Danvers. Kara Danvers.” Kara answered, clearing her throat to inject some form of confidence into it.
The guard nodded once, “One second.” He dipped down to whisper to his compatriot through the open window of the car keeping one eye on her at all times. The other guard in the car then spoke into a walkie-talkie, relaying what he had been told to a command centre.
Kara shifted uneasily from foot to foot, tempted to listen into the guards conversations but aware that it would require her to remove the earpieces she had slipped in place to make the journey to Lena’s home easier.
Kara’s head snapped up to discover Lena opening the front gate of her home and peering over at her under the watchful gazes of the security guards. She was dressed down in grey sweatpants and one of Kara’s old high school jumpers. She was without her cane, having clearly left it behind in her rush upon hearing that Kara was outside, and was leaning heavily on one leg looking only slightly unstable. Her hair was no longer tightly pulled back but in a much looser ponytail and her green eyes were soft and curious as she took in Kara’s person.
Kara merely stared back uncertainly.
“Umm… Please, come inside.” Lena invited, taking a step back and holding the gate open for Kara to pass through whilst also giving the two guards stationed outside a reassuring nod. Kara approached slowly, keeping her gaze to the floor as her and Lena walked up to the house. The front door was slightly ajar due to the speed of Lena’s exit, and when they reached the two steps up to the porch, Kara couldn’t stop herself from reaching out to cup Lena’s elbow to support her up them. Lena flashed her a grateful smile that made Kara’s cheeks redden and her heart skip a happy beat in her chest.
Once they were inside, Lena slowly closed the front door facing away from Kara for a couple of seconds longer than necessary to gather herself before turning back to the blonde who was trying to make sense of how she felt equal parts safe and secure in Lena’s home as well as uncomfortable.
“What are you doing here?” Lena asked gently, her voice quiet so as not to overwhelm Kara who was fidgeting with her glasses.
“I…” Kara began, “I saw the news and I wanted to….” She trailed off, not quite sure how to say that she wanted to simply make sure that Lena was safe.
Lena waited for her to finish her sentence, but when no further words were forthcoming, she gestured to the doorway that led to the living room. “Do you want to sit down?” The raven-haired woman offered.
Yes, Kara wanted to sit down. She also wanted to curl up with Lena, hold her close, feel her heartbeat, listen to her complain about her day. She wanted so much. She wanted everything with Lena. And she knew the first step would be to simply say yes, to let her guard down a little but that would mean revealing her vulnerabilities, her broken parts and weaknesses.
“Uh… I…” Kara’s mouth opened and closed, suspended in a no man’s land of her own design.
“Okay, we can stay here.” Lena assured, upon seeing how deeply Kara’s brow furrowed at the choice presented to her. Lena sighed, stepping forward and tilting her head to the side as she watched Kara closely.
For one euphoric second Kara was back in Lena’s house after their first date, standing in the foyer faced with the future she had always wanted and Lena looking at her as if she had hung the stars themselves.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Lena inquired, unwittingly pulling Kara back to the cruel reality where she had hurt the woman she loved and no longer trusted her ability to decide her own future.
Kara exhaled deeply before straightening up and meeting Lena’s gaze head on, channeling her best ‘Supergirl’ voice and mannerisms. “You need to stay safe. You can’t be taking stupid risks.”
Lena’s mouth dropped open momentarily in surprise at the sharpness of Kara’s tone before her green eyes hardened for the first time. “I’m not taking stupid risks, Kara.” Lena responded, her tone cold yet polite.
Kara’s jaw clenched as the fear that had been simmering inside of her ratcheted up a few degrees and converted itself into something akin to anger. “You practically dared them to come after you!” Kara accused.
“No, I didn’t. I dared them to go after ZEUS.” Lena refuted, crossing her arms over her chest as she lifted her chin in defiance. “And I have put all the security that I require in place.”
“What two reject cops in a car is security ?” Kara scoffed derisively.
Lena merely arched an eyebrow in return, her voice calm and steady as she corrected Kara and counted off her points on her fingers, “Two DEO agents trained by Alex, a state of the art electronic security system and a emergency line on my phone to the DEO.”
Kara shook her head bitterly, “But-”
“I don’t need Supergirl to keep me safe.”
It was like everything went still. Like the whole world froze over for Kara in that moment.
Lena hadn’t just seen through Kara’s bluster and accusations as manifestations of her fear, she had identified that fear for exactly what it was and cut through it with a simple few words.
Kara felt like she had been cut to her very soul. Leaving her open and raw, her broken parts bare and jagged for Lena to easily see.
“I...I…” Kara whispered, her voice breaking as the sturdy walls she had built turned to rubble, “I don’t know who I am if I can’t protect you…” Kara gasped out, bringing her hands up to cover her face and sinking to her knees in shame, as the tears she had stopped from falling earlier started to cascade down her cheeks, “I don’t know who I am if I’m not your hero… I don’t have anything else to offer.” Kara sobbed, curling in on herself in the vain hope of hiding her failings from Lena’s intense and earnest green eyes.
There was a long pause that followed as Kara wrapped her arms tightly around herself and tried to take up as little room as feasibly possible. The silence was broken by the sound of Lena uneasily sinking to the ground beside Kara, ever so gradually to avoid causing Kara to retreat further into herself. A warm hand was pressed to Kara’s back, the touch light and comforting,
“Kara…” Lena breathed, heartbreakingly soft. “That is not true. That is so not true.” She affirmed, her voice cracking ever so slightly at how fervent she was trying to be; her hand stroking continuously up and down Kara’s curved spine in controlled motion leaving a wake of warmth and affection.
“It is…” Kara murmured, her breathing ragged, “I mean why else would people want me around. I save people, if I don’t do that then…”
“No.” Lena cut in, and it was obvious from the hiccup sound that followed that she was also crying too now. “Oh, Kara, no.” Lena repeated, shifting a little closer so that her body was pressed against the side of Kara’s curled up form, providing the blonde shelter to weather the storm inside of herself. “You are so much more than that. You don’t need to save people to deserve love.” Lena promised, leaning down to press her forehead to one of Kara’s hunched over shoulders, her breath and words just lightly caressing Kara’s cheek. “I don’t love you because you're a hero.” Lena confessed, sounding so sure and certain, “I love you because you’re kind. I love your sense of humour, I love that when you get excited you flap your hands by your sides. I love that when you smile your eyes scrunch up. I love that you always listen to other people’s point of view even when you don’t agree. I love how you hug me.” Lena paused, nudging her head forward so that her nose brushed the edge of Kara’s cheek fleetingly before she pulled back to whisper. “I love how you kiss me. I love so much about you. You not being a hero doesn’t change any of that. You don’t need to protect me for me to love you.” Lena assured, and for a moment Kara almost believed her. “I love you, Kara. That doesn’t change if you need to be taken care of. If you need to be protected.”
Lena nuzzled her cheek once more and Kara couldn’t stop herself from turning towards the affection Lena offered her so freely, like a flower seeking out the light of the sun.
Scared blue eyes blinked up at watery, but loving, green, “I don’t-” Kara croaked trying desperately to find the words to describe everything she was feeling.
How much she loved Lena.
How grateful she was for Lena’s kindness and her love.
How unworthy she felt of her.
Instead of anything deep or poetic, Kara said simply, “I don’t want to be a burden.” Which conveyed everything Lena needed to know about what was at the centre of Kara’s very being.
Green eyes sharpened, becoming resolute and unfaltering, “Never. You hear me, Kara Zor-El? You will never be a burden.” Lena affirmed, before reaching out slowly to cradle Kara’s face, “You are a gift . The single greatest gift in my life.” Lena’s thumbs on either side of Kara’s face tenderly wiped away the falling tears as Lena inhaled a shaky breath and asked Kara for the entire world. “Let me protect you now, let me take care of you, please?”
I get the impression you all really liked the last chapter. Thank you for all the lovely comments and I'm glad you're enjoying this story. :) xx
Kara hadn’t responded to Lena’s request to let her take care of her; she hadn’t said anything, in fact, since admitting to her fear of being a burden. Lena had accepted Kara’s shift into silence without complaint, offering soft touches and murmured words of comfort here and there.
Eventually, though, the pain of keeping her recovering leg at an awkward angle prompted Lena to shuffle in place; Kara instinctively reached out to the raven haired woman, irrationally afraid that if she moved too far away Kara would lose her forever. Lena instantly whispered reassurances to the blonde, promising to stay close; Kara let herself be easily guided by Lena’s gentle hands until they were sat with their backs to the wall, Lena’s arm around her shoulders and Kara’s head tucked into the crook of Lena’s neck just breathing her in.
“Have you had anything to eat for dinner?” Lena asked after what could have been ten minutes or two hours.
“No.” Kara admitted, her voice rough from the earlier expended emotion; her answer was then immediately reinforced by a loud grumble from her stomach that earned her a light chuckle in response. The raven haired woman got to her feet slowly, careful of her injured leg and tugged Kara to her feet before leading her into the kitchen. Once Lena was sure Kara was settled on one of the kitchen bar stools, Lena’s voice began to fill the air, talking about everything and nothing. Lena was seemingly unbothered by Kara’s limited responses; offering her different options for dinner (accepting single words and minor gestures as answer enough) and narrating whatever she was doing if she had to take so much as two steps away from Kara.
Lena ordered three large pizzas, heated up tater tots for Kara to eat whilst they waited for food to arrive and gave her a large glass of water to drink from. Kara hesitated, only digging in once Lena stole a bite from her plate and nudged her encouragingly in the side. The food arrived quickly, handed to Lena by the security guards who inspected the delivery, Lena insisted the guards take one of the pizzas for themselves before returning to Kara with the food. Again, Kara waited for Lena to take a slice for herself before having her fill.
“Done?” Lena asked once both boxes and the glass was empty.
“Yes, thank you.” Kara nodded shyly, keeping her gaze low to avoid staring into green eyes which had seen too much.
“Do you want anything for dessert?” Lena inquired, reaching out to stroke Kara’s back as she had taken to doing every couple of minutes, knowing intuitively that it was helping to keep Kara grounded.
“No.” Kara replied with a slight shake of her head.
“How are you feeling?” Lena inquired curiously.
Kara merely shrugged, her shoulders hunching up with tension at the question, unable to explain how she felt numb but also overwhelmed, safe but scared, vulnerable but protected.
“Hmm…” Lena hummed thoughtfully, her hand transferring from Kara’s back to lightly massage her shoulders easing away the tension gathered there with a soothing touch. “I have an idea…” Lena murmured, her hand moving to caress Kara’s cheek resulting in the blonde finally making eye contact with affectionate green. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes.” Kara answered without delay.
Lena positively beamed in genuine surprise at the immediacy of the response causing Kara’s throat to tighten and nausea to swirl in the pit of her stomach because Lena should never doubt Kara’s trust in her, and should never be surprised that Kara trusted her so assuredly. Kara’s decision to hide away from Lena was never about her faith or trust in Lena being shaken but her trust in herself.
Kara momentarily considered the possibility that Lena… maybe would have preferred to have this broken version of herself rather than no Kara at all… it would at least have spared Lena from forming incorrect assumptions.
Kara, however, pushed that fleeting thought aside, unwilling to think everything through too deeply, choosing to instead (just this once) let herself indulge in the unconditional love and care being offered to herself without considering whether or not she deserved it.
Lena intertwined their fingers to guide her around once more with the lightest of touches. They approached the stairs, the raven-haired woman accepting the support Kara offered her in the form of a sturdy shoulder to lean on. Lena paused on the landing, sending Kara a reassuring smile and squeezing their joined hands before tugging her into her bedroom.
(Kara wondered if the smile and hand squeeze was for her benefit or Lena’s.)
The last time they had been in Lena’s bedroom, their relationship had forever changed. It had been the best night of Kara’s life followed by the worst month of her life. Kara’s gaze upon seeing the immaculately made bed was equal parts fond and longing.
If Kara could just go back… she would never have left Lena’s bed that morning. She wouldn’t have tried to play it cool by giving Lena space, she would have curled around Lena’s body, holding her close, whispering love in her ear and asking if she could stay forever like she had wanted to.
Lena directed Kara to sit on the edge of the bed, caressing her cheek once more, green eyes sadder than they had been before and Kara knew, without a doubt, that Lena was having the same ‘what if’ thoughts as her.
It was a comfort to know it wasn’t just her but it also hurt to see that Lena was suffering - especially for the same reason as her. Both were grieving the loss of what should have been the first few days of their newly discovered romance. A romance that should have been filled with brunches, late night dinners, picnics in the park, kisses that increased until they could no longer be counted and sweet gestures of affection.
Lena leaned down and kissed Kara’s cheek, her lips stopping a tear rolling down that Kara hadn’t even been aware had fallen.
“I’ll be right back.” Lena murmured, squeezing their hands once more before letting go and disappearing into the ensuite.
Once Kara was alone, she shuffled up the bed and laid down, resting her head on the pillow she knew was regularly used by Lena, only slightly ashamed by how she greedily inhaled the remnant scent of Lena’s presence in the fabric of the pillow cover.
Lena returned a few minutes later and Kara didn’t even attempt to hide how she was now cradling Lena’s pillow in her arms.
“Come here.” Lena requested, holding out a hand for Kara to take causing her body to move instinctually; compelled to follow wherever Lena asked her to go.
Lena brought her inside the ensuite, where a handful of candles were lit and the large tub was filled with lightly fragrant, warm water, working together to create a relaxing atmosphere.
“I thought…” Lena coughed, suddenly shy, her cheeks flushing a pretty pink, “that it might help you… relax, that is.”
Kara blinked at the thoughtfulness and consideration of the gesture, her heart swelling in size as it tried to take in all of the love Lena was offering her. “Thank you.” Kara whispered, just as shy and so grateful.
“Right…” Lena said slowly, before taking a respectful step back, ready to give Kara her privacy. “I’ll… um… leave you to it…”
“Or…” Kara began, swallowing thickly as her heart began to pound against her chest as if trying to escape and throw itself into Lena’s hands. “You could stay…?”
Lena’s brow furrowed and she frowned uncertainly, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I don’t want to overstep.” Lena explained, “I want you to feel safe, cared for… there’s no…” Lena bit her lip as she struggled to find the right word, “ expectations in return…”
Kara’s breath stuttered in her lungs at what Lena was saying, the verbal reinforcement that Lena’s love and kindness was unconditional .
“I meant…” Kara exhaled deeply as she tentatively reached out for Lena’s hand, initiating affectionate contact between them for the first time in months , and causing Lena to gasp in pleasant shock. “Can you just... “ Kara licked her lips as she used up every ounce of courage that she had left to ask, “...stay? Keep me company?” Kara winced as she added, almost barely audible, “I don’t want to be alone.”
“Okay.” Lena acquiesced, her voice shaky. “Okay.”
Kara’s hand trembled noticeably as she started to strip, so much so that Lena was eventually compelled to move forward to help her. There was nothing sexual about it, Lena taking off her clothes, even though it probably should have been. It was too tender and too goal-oriented for that.
Once Kara was settled in the water, Lena sat on the closed toilet seat nearby, stretching her leg out in front of her.
“Talk to me.” Kara requested into the stillness of the room.
“What about?” Lena clarified.
Lena proceeded to tell her about: L-Corp’s new headquarters (currently under construction and designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible), her latest technical projects, her last few board meetings, Jess who was now pregnant (Lena was already terrified of having to cope without her when she went on maternity leave), and her latest philanthropic endeavours.
Kara hadn’t truly realised until that moment, how much she had simply missed Lena’s voice - it was just as, if not more, comforting than the warm water she was soaking in.
It was only once the water had begun to turn tepid and Lena’s voice had started to get rough from overuse, that Lena helped Kara out of the tub, wrapping her up in the fluffiest towels imaginable before handing her a pair of Kara’s own pyjamas that she must have left behind months ago and now smelled of Lena (Kara tried not to think too much about why that might be the case).
At last, the two of them settled under the duvet of Lena’s bed, both keeping to their respective sides but their hands interlinked in the space between.
It was when she was surrounded by Lena’s scent, in the place she felt truly safe and with the woman she loved watching over her so tenderly that Kara felt the sheer exhaustion of the last few months catch up with her in one big wave. She yawned loudly, her eyelids drooping with sleep as she felt herself burrow even further into the comfy bed, unconsciously inching closer to Lena’s warmth at the same time.
“Sleep, Kara.” Lena whispered to her, leaning forward to kiss away the barest hint of a crease between Kara’s eyebrows.
“You won’t leave me?” Kara breathed, as she was tugged slowly but steadily towards sleep.
“Never.” Lena promised, brushing her nose against Kara’s before pulling back slightly. “Sleep, Kara.”
And Kara did.
“And…?” Percy prompted after Kara had trailed off into silence, her gaze faraway as she recounted the memory.
“I… never slept better.” Kara eventually replied, her tone soft even as her brow furrowed to better clarify her own words “I mean… I haven’t slept that well in months.”
“You were in an environment you felt safe in.” Percy summarised tactfully - aware that Kara would know what/who he truly meant when he referred to ‘an environment’.
“Yeah… I guess.” Kara shrugged half-heartedly, fiddling with the edges of her cardigan in her lap.
“And…?” Percy questioned, arching an eyebrow at her.
Kara’s eyes scrunched up and she pursed her lips, “What makes you think there’s an ‘and’?”
Percy smiled sadly yet knowingly at her in response. “Because you haven’t made eye contact with me since you walked in and you wince every time you say her name.”
A red flush descended down Kara’s cheeks and neck, as she went stiff in her seat. “No, I-I-... d-don’t.” Kara scoffed dismissively, though there was a noticeable stutter to her tone that revealed how she had failed to convince even herself with that answer. Her lie wasn’t further helped by the fact that her eyes darted around the place and weren’t able to settle on Percy for even the slightest of seconds.
“Then say it.” Percy challenged, with a lift of his chin.
“Le-...” Kara began, cutting off the second she heard the audible wince that accompanied it. Kara growled in frustration, her fingers curling into fists in her lap.
She breathed heavily. In and out for a long few minutes, clearly gathering herself and ordering her body back under her conscious control.
Finally, she lifted her head and met Percy’s patient stare full-on and said as confidently as she could muster, “Lena.”
Percy, immediately, straightened up in his chair, lifted his notepad off his knee and dropped it onto the coffee table with a light clatter. Kara eyed the notepad warily where it laid discarded recognising that it meant a shift in tone of her therapy session.
Percy was now giving her his absolute attention, which meant they were going to be digging into a wound today. Cleaning it up and readying it to heal better.
“What happened, Kara?” Percy questioned, his tone calm and his eyes far too assessing.
Kara’s jaw clenched, and her gaze narrowed but she didn’t shy away from the truth this time. “I left.” There was an almost imperceptible wobble to Kara’s bottom lip as she attempted to keep her tone emotionless and disinterested. “I left before she woke up. I didn’t even say goodbye.”
Kara swallowed thickly, blinking rapidly to dispel the growing moisture as she muttered quietly, “If I knew why, I wouldn’t need therapy now, would I?”
“Incorrect.” Percy declared, accompanying it with the ‘EH ENNNG’ sound of a buzzer, causing Kara to jolt in her seat and pull Kara out of her spiraling thoughts effectively, ensuring he had her full attention. “Therapy doesn’t generate the answers.” Percy revealed with a shrug, “It gives you the tools to interpret your thoughts and feelings to help you find the answers yourself. Therapists just look like they have all the answers because they can read between the lines of what someone is saying or not saying. We can make pretty good educated guesses but the only person with the answers here is you.”
Kara rolled her eyes at the explanation, but shot the doctor a teasing smile, “ Do you have an ‘educated guess’?”
Percy smirked, putting on an air of mysticism, “I have an educated guess about a lot of things.”
Kara sighed, leaning back to rest her head on the back of the sofa, gazing forlornly up at the ceiling as she let out a despondent sigh. “Why did I leave?” Kara asked of the universe at large.
“You can figure that one out yourself.” Percy stated confidently.
“Clearly, I can’t.” Kara huffed out childishly.
“Yes, you can.” Percy rebuked sharply causing Kara to look up at him in surprise and apprehension. “When you woke up in the morning, how did you feel?” Percy prompted, forcing Kara to work it through, “When you woke up after the best sleep you’ve had in months, how did you feel? When you woke up with the woman you loved next to you, how did you feel?”
Kara shook her head, appearing for all intents and purposes like she was on the precipice of refusing to answer.
Percy just remained quiet, leaving it up to Kara to decide whether she was ready to get the answers she so desperately wanted or not.
“Happy. Loved.” Kara whispered weakly, bowing her head forward, her hair making a curtain to hide her face as she added, “Cared for.”
“And then?” Percy inquired softly, “What came next?”
“Fear.” Kara muttered, and despite the golden hair barrier Percy could see the red flush of shame warming her cheeks.
“And then?” Percy pushed again.
Kara went still, lifting her head up a little to make eye contact, the familiar crease between her brows was back, “There was nothing else.”
Percy shook his head in exasperation, “Yes, there was.” He planted his feet firmly on the floor, and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he ducked his head to better see wary blue. “You didn’t just feel fear.” Percy murmured, his tone steely, “Come on, Kara, you can do this. You want to see the big picture? Then this is the big picture. I will help you get there but you have to do the heavy lifting.” Kara flinched back at the firmness of his words but Percy didn’t retreat, “Why were you afraid?”
“Because…” Kara began before trailing off, her gaze turning distant and reflective. “It made me think of the last time I had felt like that.”
“Where was that?” Percy asked, already knowing the answer.
“On Krypton.” Kara muttered.
“Why did that make you scared?”
Kara breathed in and out deeply, going through the exercises that Percy had taught her, before answering, a noticeable croak to her words, “Because it reminded me that I could lose it all again.”
Percy clasped his hands in front of him, “What came next?”
Kara shook her head belligerently, affirming, “That’s it.”
Percy frowned, refusing to accept the lie, “No, it’s not. What came next?”
Kara began to tremble her face going pale but Percy didn’t let up, continuing his interrogation. Not to hurt Kara and definitely not to push her past her means.
But to help her see what she herself was hiding from and pretending not to see.
To help her find the single biggest wound she had. The one that had never healed. Would probably never heal.
Kara had allowed it to continue to ache and throb day in and day out, dictating her life without her full knowledge and consent. Percy couldn’t let that happen any longer, not when it was preventing Kara from accepting the happiness and support she so greatly deserved.
“What made you run?” Percy repeated, his gaze drilling relentlessly into Kara’s scared blue eyes. “What made you put on the suit in the first place? What makes you so desperate to get in the suit again? What drives nearly every single decision you make?” Percy exhaled slowly and emphasised his next three words so that they filled the space between the two of them to such a degree that Kara simply couldn’t ignore them. “What. Came. Next?”
Kara was crying again, her expression tortured and agonised.
“Guilt.” She gasped out unable to stop herself. “Guilt, came next.”
Percy felt the tension that had been thrumming through him ease up, making it easier to breathe as Kara broke through the wall and saw to the very root of her entire being.
“I didn’t lose everything, billions of others did…” Kara cried, her fingers digging painfully into her biceps as she curled her arms around herself protectively. “I got to survive... I got to keep on going... I got a chance when they all got nothing. My survival was purely due to my parents’ selfishness. They decided I deserved to live more than anyone else did. I got to grow up when no other child did. I got to fall in love. I got to be happy !”Kara choked on the word, her own body rejecting the concept with so much loathing as she began to viciously shake her head and spit out, “It’s not fair. None of it is fair.”
Kara looked up to meet Percy’s sympathetic gaze exposing blue eyes that personified total anguish .
Finally, finally, finally… Kara had found the wound.
“Their loss has to mean something.” Kara declared as tears continued to fall down her cheeks unabated. “ I need to be worth that… worth them.”
Percy smiled sadly at her in understanding as he brought it all full circle. “And how can anyone who has to be taken care of or protected be worth such a large sacrifice?”
Kara merely hung her head in shame, not denying the question.
They both knew it was true.
Percy got up from his chair and moved to sit beside the distraught woman who had suffered too much loss far too young. He tentatively wrapped an arm around her shoulder as she continued to put her actions into perspective for her. “Why do you get to fall in love and be with the woman you love when none of them do? How can you be worthy of their sacrifice when you destroy things and hurt people under the influence of red K?”
Kara didn’t say anything for a long few minutes, taking the time to react and accept this new reality she now found herself in, where it was never the red K that was her main problem. The red K merely cut right through a larger wound that Kara had valiantly tried to ignore. Now, she was having to reevaluate her entire life from this new perspective.
Then, out of nowhere, Kara let out a wet, disbelieving laugh causing Percy to raise an eyebrow at her in confusion.
“You were right… in our very first session.” Kara said, “You knew even then…” She turned to face him more fully, there was a twisted smile on her face that just didn’t fit there but she was trying so hard to put it on that Percy couldn’t help the small smile he felt compelled to give her in return. “Survivor’s guilt, right?”
“I had a very good educated guess in our first session.” Percy admitted, earning another dark chuckle from the blonde. Percy sighed, giving Kara’s shoulder a squeeze as his voice turned serious, “I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to believe for a long time… are you ready?”
Kara pursed her lips, clearly fearing another emotional overhaul, before nodding hesitantly.
Percy took a deep breath and stated, “You don’t owe them anything. Your life is your own. It is not beholden to anyone else. You don’t need to save this planet and all its inhabitants to make up for not saving Krypton. You deserve love. You deserve to be taken care of. You deserve to live your life however you want. Not how you think anyone else would want you to.”
Kara shook her head in despair, “How do I convince myself of all that?”
“Remember what I said about old wounds?” Percy encouraged, “Time and effort. There are no shortcuts here.”
Kara rested the back of her head on the back of the sofa again, staring dejectedly up at the ceiling as she attempted to bargain with some unknown being, “Why can’t there be? Just once?”
Percy smiled ruefully at her profile, “Because nothing truly worth having is earned in a day.” He squeezed her shoulder once more causing her to loll her head in his general direction, “But I’ll be here with you every step of the way and I think… that there are plenty of other people that would be too, if you let them in.”
General question for people (to try and lift the heavy mood after this chapter) how do people imagine Percy?
I've always imagined him as looking like President Bartlett from the 'The West Wing' but that's just me.
It changed things.
In a far more drastic way than the red K revelation. The red K was a single event, admittedly spanning a significant time frame but it was still a rare occurrence. It was a single unique experience that may or may not happen again.
It could simply be a one-off, a single traumatic event, she would have to reconcile with.
It didn’t make it any less devastating but there was a clear divide, a before, an after and another after (following recovery).
Survivor’s guilt - Kara forced herself to acknowledge, forced herself to mutter under her breath with a disgusted scowl.
This was a bomb in comparison to the bullet that was the red K.
This was the tragedy hiding behind a minor loss.
Knowing it was there, an infected, cruel wound on her psyche that had been influencing her ever since the loss of her planet unconsciously, or consciously as the case may be, was… simply put… a total shift in perspective.. Life-altering… Devastating.
Kara found herself looking back over all of the key choices in her life and re-evaluating them…
Did she choose to do that for herself because it was what she wanted or did she do it for billions of lost souls because she thought that was what they would want?
Did she stop praying to Rao because she had a crisis of faith or because she thought it was unfair to seek comfort from a god that had abandoned so many others?
Did she become Supergirl because she enjoyed being a hero and using her powers to help others or in a desperate attempt to even out the scales (every soul she saved on Earth equalling a soul she had failed on Krypton)?
Did she become a reporter because she loved the work, the challenge and valued its importance or because if she could find and share the truth she could make up for the deceit on Krypton?
Did she stay as Lena’s friend for so long because she truly doubted that Lena reciprocated her feelings (despite sharing a bed on numerous occasions and Lena’s overt physical affection displayed with long hugs and lingering touches) or did she think she didn’t deserve love if those lost wouldn’t get to experience it?
Everything had changed.
Now Kara, at last, understood why, when she looked in the mirror, she was never quite certain who was staring back at her.
The red K made her fully lose her consent to her darker cravings, however, Kara was now forced to wonder if she ever really had it to begin with?
That was probably the bitterest pill to swallow.
She knew getting past the red K would be difficult but she had gone in with blinders on. She was aware that Percy was interested, or better yet concerned , about her past but she had indulged his interest assuming that they had been mere influencing factors which had exacerbated her red K trauma. Now she realised it was the other way around.
The red K had exacerbated her much larger trauma.
The loss of Krypton.
Kara was astute enough to know that that trauma would not be fixed anywhere near as quick and easy if it had been the other way around.
She was now facing a far more daunting task and Kara was… tired .
Physically, mentally and emotionally tired.
Why couldn’t it all be fixed quickly?
Why couldn’t she just get under some sun-lamps for a few hours, heck even a few days, and be back to her normal sunny self?
After everything… didn’t she deserve something easy…
Kara pushed the dark thoughts aside as she shifted the bag in her hands to the crook of one elbow, freeing herself up to knock on the door in front of her. After her session, Kara hadn't wanted to return home, she needed to be around something she was certain of and could never doubt.
That was why she was standing outside her sister’s apartment with a bag of chinese food for the first time in what felt like forever.
“Coming, one second!” Alex yelled from the other side of the door preceding heavy footsteps. The door swung open, revealing Alex in an apron, tomato sauce smeared on her cheek and looking rather harried before her expression morphed to one of shock then joy at the sight of her sister.
“Hi…” Kara greeted timidly, shifting from foot to foot. “I hope this isn’t a bad time?”
Alex jolted at the question, aware that she was blocking the doorway, she quickly and excitedly moved to one side, “No! Not at all… It’s… It’s great to see you.” Alex assured as Kara stepped inside only hesitating for a couple of seconds before reaching to properly hug her sister.
Alex was stiff for a moment before sinking into it, her arms wrapping tightly around Kara in response.
“I missed this.” Alex whispered wistfully, causing Kara to bury her face into her sister's shoulder seeking out the comfort she had long denied herself.
“Me too.” Kara confessed. The hug lasted for a long time, as if to make up for all those they had missed out on over the last few months. They only pulled away when a loud beeping alarm from Alex’s phone rang out.
“Oh, shit-...” Alex muttered, rushing away to deal with two pans (one boiling over and the other producing a rather intense burning smell). Kara followed behind, watching as Alex turned off the gas on the hob and let out a defeated sigh before turning back to Kara, her gaze settling on the paper bag marked with the name of their favourite chinese restaurant on the side. “Please tell me that’s for both of us.” Alex pleaded.
Kara nodded eagerly earning her a beaming smile as Alex quickly pulled out some plates and cutlery for the both of them.
“Sorry for ruining your dinner.” Kara apologised as they began to dish out the food.
“Eh, don’t worry about it. It was already turning into a catastrophe before you turned up.” Alex assured with a wave of her hand before adding, slightly shyly, “I was actually practicing.”
“Oh, really?” Kara asked, keen to simply listen to her sister and be in her space (with the added bonus of ignoring her own problems).
“Uh huh…” Alex hummed as she unevenly distributed the potstickers, heavily in Kara’s favour. “It’s nearly my one year anniversary with Kelly. She’s out for drinks with work tonight and I figured I would use the opportunity to try and practice making her favourite.” Alex winced as she glanced back at the mess she had made across the counters and stove. “It wasn’t going as well as I had hoped.”
“I can see that.” Kara teased.
Alex merely rolled her eyes in return as they both took their plates over to the sofa to settle and start digging in. Kara inquired about what else Alex had planned for their anniversary and happily listened to all the details. Alex admitted that she was considering proposing but wasn’t sure if after everything with Maggie that she was ready to take that next step without being absolutely certain that they both wanted the same thing. Kara listened attentively and gave support and advice where she felt comfortable. She mostly just suggested that Alex sit down with Kelly and start a conversation about what they both wanted in the future. Alex seemed to take the suggestion to heart and started to plan out how best to bring it up.
Kara found it nice, after being the one with all the dilemmas, unknowns and constantly requiring guidance, to see that she could still provide something in return when it came to her relationships.
It was only a small thing. Providing a listening ear and simply being a good sister but it helped her feel connected to herself when she needed it most. It reminded her of what Percy had said in the park all those weeks ago when she had made a little girl laugh after falling over, about the difference she could make just by being her.
Once the food was finished, Kara gathered her courage and cleared her throat, “Alex, I… uh…”
Alex arched a curious eyebrow at her, waiting patiently for Kara to get whatever it was off her chest (yet again Kara realised how good Kelly’s influence was on her sister).
“I’m sorry.” Kara eventually managed to say; instantly Alex’s brow furrowed and she opened her mouth to reject what she presumed was another unnecessary apology for her red K actions. “Not for the red K.” Kara hastily clarified, “I know that’s not my-” Kara shook her head, still not quite fully ready to admit her lack of culpability despite knowing it to be true. “I’m sorry for how I spoke to you on the phone, a couple of days ago. I was rude and dismissive. I should’ve listened and trusted you.”
Alex blinked once in surprise before smiling warmly at her in response, “That’s okay, sis.”
“No, it’s not.” Kara refuted, shaking her head as she twisted in place to face Alex directly. “You…” Kara took a deep breath as she struggled to work out how best to say everything on her mind. “You were there for me when I needed you. You never gave up on me.”
“We’re sisters, Kara.” Alex declared as if that explained everything. “Of course, I’ll never give up on you.”
“Even though… Thank you.” Kara said sincerely. “Thank you for being my sister. For never letting me recede too much into the darkness. You… you made sure I never felt truly alone. You didn’t deserve how I spoke to you on the phone after all that.”
Alex’s mouth opened and closed; Kara didn’t doubt she wanted to push back against the gratitude and apology once more but was forcing herself to think it through. Eventually, she nodded and said simply, “Okay.”
“Okay.” Kara repeated with a soft smile.
“Can I ask you a question?” Alex, suddenly timid.
“Of course.” Kara assured.
“I know we don’t talk about it… but therapy is… it’s helping right?” Alex stuttered out, her brown eyes wide and anxious.
“It’s helping…” Kara replied slowly, her heart sinking in her chest. She’d been enjoying forgetting about everything she had learnt and its implications for her recovery. “Um… I think…” Kara licked her lips, as she shifted away from her sister and turned to look elsewhere unable to meet her sister’s affectionate gaze.
Would Alex think less of her when she knew?
When she found out Kara had been fundamentally broken this entire time?
“I… I…” The words felt lodged in her throat, choking her from the inside out. “I think I…”
“You don’t have to tell me anything that you don’t want to.” Alex assured, reaching out to tentatively place a comforting hand on her forearm.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to be the same again.” Kara confessed, the truth so sharp and painful that she would have traded it for a thousand honeyed lies any day.
Alex breathed in sharply at that and Kara didn’t need to look at her to know her sister had no idea how to respond.
“Why did this have to happen to me?” Kara asked darkly, not even bothering to hide the bitterness of her words. “I just… I wish I didn’t know…”
“Didn’t know what?” Alex prompted, her tone uneasy, just as her phone began to ring noisily on the coffee table nearby. Alex didn’t hesitate to reach out and decline the call from Brainy sending it straight to voicemail.
Kara’s hands clenched into fists and her nostrils flared. “That I was already broken to begin with.”
“ Kara… ” Alex gasped in shock. “That’s not… No!” Alex practically shouted in total disagreement just as her phone began to ring incessantly for the second time.
Again Alex declined the call.
“Ever since Krypton.” Kara muttered, completely blind to her sister’s pained expression. “I stopped being truly me, the second I lost my planet. And it wasn’t until the red K that I… even started to realise that I was never really in control to begin with. If it wasn’t for that… fucking red K…” Kara seethed, before letting out a cruel laugh. “I finally get it now. Why they didn’t tell anyone on Krypton what was going to happen…”
“Kara…” Alex repeated, sounding something akin to distraught.
“Ignorance is bliss.” Kara stated, her tone cold and detached.
A heavy silence followed that was only disrupted by the third phone-call in the space of thirty seconds.
“You better get that.” Kara muttered, jerking her chin at the device on the table.
Alex growled in frustration, clearly wanting to only focus on Kara but knowing that if they were phoning her this constantly that it must be important. “We’re not finished, okay?” Alex told her before picking up her phone, aggressively swiping across the screen to accept the call and barking out, “What?!”
Kara couldn’t help but listen into the conversation, her hearing out of control and honing in on Brainy’s voice on the other side to somewhat blank out the background noise of the rest of the world threatening to overwhelm her.
“They managed to get away with ZEUS.” Brainy replied, not bothering with pleasantries.
“How the fu-” Alex fumed, getting cut off before she could fully unleash her displeasure.
“We thought there were only four of them, turns out there were five.” Brainy explained succinctly. “An inside man. We didn’t consider him because Almarians and Odhoths are well documented enemies. It was deemed highly improbable for them to be working together.”
“Clearly they found a unifying goal.” Alex snapped, before shooting Kara an apologetic glance.
“Clearly.” Brainy repeated, not quite picking up on the harshness and inherent sarcasm of her tone.
“Do we know where they are going?” Alex questioned, massaging her forehead in the hopes of preventing an oncoming headache,
“Yes.” Brainy replied, “A warehouse off Ocean Plaza. The Odhoth has been renting it for the last few months, clearly subsidising it by selling any materials from their heists that they didn’t require for what they are building.”
“Have we figured out what they are building yet?” Alex inquired as she bit the inside of her cheek and Kara could see her mind whirring away with strategies for the tactical response required for the warehouse.
“Ah… yes…” Brainy coughed, suddenly awkward.
“And?” Alex prompted.
“Lena - on a hunch - compared the materials they’ve acquired so far with the specification of the Legion’s cruiser and found a number of matches including the energy source. The Legion’s cruiser uses an advanced version of ZEUS further developed by L-Corp in the future.” Brainy rattled off.
“So they’re building a spaceship?” Alex checked, tapping her fingers on her knee in an erratic rhythm as she tried to slot this new information into place.
“No, they seem to be trying to recreate the legion cruiser’s ability to…” Brainy winced before muttering, “time travel.”
“Shit.” Alex breathed out, getting to her feet to pace the space of her open plan apartment, her gaze faraway. “Okay, is Lena with you?”
“Yes.” Brainy confirmed.
“Right. Get J’onn and Nia to lead a tactical team, cover all exits of the warehouse. Reach out to Gutierrez at NCPD, he can provide a suitable SWAT team as back up, organise blockades around the surrounding streets and ensure civilians stay inside. We want this to be a team effort, we are trying to build better working relationships.” Alex justified unnecessarily.
It had been one of the largest changes she brought to the DEO upon stepping up as Director: taking the organisation out of the shadows and working with other law enforcement agencies, rather than kicking them to the curb when it suited. It had meant better intel due to more willing sharing of information and also provided Alex with more options than her standard cloak and dagger methods when needed. It was her first big change and she desperately wanted it to go well, Kara had given her support and encouragement when Alex had suggested it, providing her a much needed confidence boost.
“You and Lena come with the tactical team, but keep a distance. They’ll need you on hand if anything goes wrong with what the thieves have been building.” Alex finished off letting out a deep breath once she’d rattled out her orders.
“Understood.” Brainy acknowledged, not needing anything repeated. “Will you not be joining us?”
“No,” Alex answered quickly, “I… need to be here, Kara-”
At that point, Alex turned back around to face the sofa, expecting to see her sister sitting exactly where she had left her. Instead there was merely an empty space.
“Fuck…” Alex whispered in utter dismay, a sinking feeling in her stomach that told her she knew exactly where Kara was going.
Kara knew it wasn’t a rational decision, more importantly, she knew it wasn’t the right decision.
But Kara had been making the right decision all her life. She had kept quiet, hid herself away and tried to lock up her kryptonian tendencies for her new family and to keep Kal-El at ease. She had gone on dates with people who didn’t make her heart skip a beat to fit in. She had distrusted Lena for so unnecessarily long, kept secrets upon secrets from the woman who owned her heart because she was told over and over and over again that a Super didn’t trust a Luthor. She dated Mon-El because it was expected, because he asked and he tried which meant she had to in return.
She had conformed again and again and again.
And where did it get her?
Unable to recognise herself in the mirror. Facing months, most likely years (perhaps decades) of therapy. Unable to accept the love and support offered to her so freely by others.
That’s what doing the right thing had gotten her.
Because it hadn’t been the right thing - it had been the right thing. The right thing is what everyone told her was right , what society, trauma and people who simply weren’t her told her was the right thing.
The right thing, the real right thing, was what she should have done in line with her own beliefs, morals and feelings.
She should have continued to pray to Rao because it always helped her to settle at the end of a day and would have saved her from many a sleepless night.
She should have held onto her kryptonian traditions and ignored Kal-El’s discomfort, she was thirteen and holding onto the remnants of her home - she should have been the priority, not a grown man (that she still sometimes saw as her baby cousin) who disliked any reminder of his own inhumanness.
She should have said no to those dates she didn’t want to go on instead of trying to change herself to like what she was told she should.
She should have let Lena in when she wanted, not when she had the semi-agreement from a shadow enforcement agency that cared little for her friendships and emotional well-being.
She shouldn’t have gone out with Mon-El because he vaguely reminded her of home and smiled at her longer than he did other women - she should have asked out Lena, the woman who made her heart skip a beat whilst also giving her a sense of peace that she hadn’t had for years.
There was so much she should and shouldn’t have done.
So much lost, so much missed out on.
It wasn’t fair.
And now, after everything she had been through and with the stark realisation of what had happened to her…
In that moment… in all honesty… she just didn’t care anymore about doing the right or right thing…
She wanted the easy way… just once… was that too much to ask?
And then, it was as if Rao was listening and decided to serve it up to her on a silver platter.
A time machine.
She could stop it from happening.
She could head her past self off, make her return to Lena’s side that day.
She remembered it so well, she had left Lena’s and gone back to her apartment, she had finished her article in under thirty minutes, intent on finishing so that there was nothing delaying her from returning to Lena later that day. She had whiled away the time in between, happily skipping around her apartment, counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until she thought it was justifiable to go back to see Lena.
Yet again, she had told herself to slow down because that was what was expected of her. To limit her own happiness. To not overindulge because she should be grateful for whatever she was given.
When Alex had phoned just past midday asking her to help out with a rogue alien, she had jumped at the invitation. The DEO hadn’t even needed her help, they could have handled it on their own easily but they always phoned Supergirl because why wouldn’t they? They had a seemingly indestructible weapon at their beck and call.
Their very own shortcut.
Why wouldn’t they use it at every opportunity?
Kara hadn’t needed to be there, hadn’t wanted to really be there… but she had been eager to distract herself.
That’s where she got exposed. Needlessly exposed.
That’s what Kara would stop.
She would go back and tell herself to return to Lena’s side the second she had finished her article - that way when the DEO came calling, Alex would have insisted that Kara enjoy her time with Lena. She wouldn’t have even asked in the first place.
It wasn’t the most well-thought through plan; not that Kara could see that in her current state.
She was simply reacting to pure, turbulent emotion; logic flew out the window at the same time she shot out of Alex’s apartment.
Finding the warehouse had been easy, she had flown directly from Alex’s apartment, hovered above Ocean Plaza and let her uncontrolled hearing have free reign. The noise of machinery and heated discussions between the five thieves stood out amongst the deserted warehouses and domestic sounds from the surrounding apartments.
Kara didn’t bother with a disguise.
If it all worked out it wouldn’t matter and more importantly, Kara had been steadily re-learning her limits over the last couple of months. She knew how fast she was. Under her full control, she might even have been faster than the Flash.
In the space of a handful of seconds, Kara had rounded up the five thieves (consisting of two humans and three aliens) and barricaded them into a storage closet at the back of the building. Kara ignored their confused exclamations which turned to indignant rage and finally desperate pleas.
It was like she had blinders on.
She had settled on an action, a way forward and everything else merely faded away into nothingness around it.
The time machine was a portal akin to something Kara had seen in one of Winn’s favourite television shows - Stargate, the thought came and then vanished less than a second later due to its irrelevancy. The portal, atop a raised stage with stairs leading up to it at the front, was currently dormant. In front of the portal and taking centre stage was a wired up black box glowing an ethereal yellow, with the stenciled word ‘ZEUS’, big and bold, along the side. At the foot of the stage was a number of monitors and hardware as well as some detailed and scribbled over blueprints.
Kara sped through the information available on the screens and papers.
It was obvious that the thieves were completing final calibrations and testing, that they had been mere minutes away from actually activating it and going back in time. Kara acknowledged that they wouldn’t have gone after ZEUS until they were absolutely certain that they were ready to go, knowing that the DEO and NCPD task force would be hot on their heels.
Kara set to work immediately, working efficiently through the final tests and resetting the date and time inputted as the destination, from what she recognised to be the day of the Daxamite invasion, to the day after her first date with Lena.
The energy supplied by ZEUS would only allow for the portal to be open for a minute maximum since it required an extraordinary amount of power to create the necessary warp in time.
Kara was on the final set of calibrations, ZEUS was starting to glow brighter and an encouraging whirring sound was coming from the portal when she heard the click-clack of approaching footsteps. There was a noticeable tap that preceded every other step that made the person’s gait distinct and instantly recognisable.
Kara merely hunched her shoulders and kept tapping away at the keyboard, eyes glued to the percentage loading bar which indicated when the portal would be ready - now at 47% complete.
Lena didn’t run or rush to her side, there was no haste, she walked with her usual sense of purpose, supported by her silver handled cane that she didn’t have to put as much weight on as she used to.
“Kara?” Lena called out curiously, as if she hadn’t just caught Kara trying to undo the universe as they know it but had simply found her frowning over a too-confusing book.
Kara refused to look at her, refused to meet soft green eyes that she was so undeserving of.
Lena let out a sigh of resignation, as she came to lean against the edge of the table, her back to the portal and her head turned to the side, gaze scrutinising Kara’s profile intensely.
“Fancy seeing you here…”, Lena drawled seductively with no small amount of amusement, causing Kara’s jaw to clench even further. The blonde knew that if she glanced at the raven-haired woman she would see that particular smirk that always succeeded at sending a shiver down her spine.
“Alex sent you?” Kara asked tersely, back rigid and eyes glued to the loading bar, now at 62%.
“We flipped a coin, I won.” Lena replied with a dismissive shrug before she leaned towards Kara and whispered conspiratorially into her ear. “Don’t tell her, but it was a double-headed coin. It was always going to be me.”
Kara swallowed thickly, her heart sinking in her chest as she mumbled under her breath. “I know.”
Lena merely hummed in response to Kara’s barely audible admission. She’d always been able to hear Kara.
“So, this is the plan?” Lena inquired as she looked over her shoulder at the portal that was steadily coming to life, with a bored expression. “Change the past?” She clicked out causing Kara to flinch unconsciously. Lena’s head turned back around; instantly Kara felt the return of her intense green-eyed stare. “Do you really think this is the right thing to do?”
Kara’s fingers froze at the question as it cut her to the very wick. When she spoke next her voice was quiet… cold… hollow… “I don’t know what the right thing is anymore.”
“Yes, you do.” Lena said softly as a pale hand reached out to tenderly tuck a loose strand of blonde hair behind Kara’s ear. “It’s one of the things I love about you. You might not always do the right thing straight away, but... given enough time, you always get there in the end.”
Kara, finally, spun round to face Lena, misty blue eyes seeking out and finding affectionate and forgiving green. “But I can make it so I did the right thing back then!” Kara shouted, gesticulating wildly at the portal that was now emitting an ethereal blue light, utterly desperate for Lena to understand so that she could… what?
“When it really mattered!” Kara added, her voice rising in volume and pitch.
Lena didn’t react even slightly, her expression remaining blank and neutral. “That time is gone, Kara.” Lena stated simply. Factually. Like it was inarguable. “The only thing that matters is doing the right thing now and for the future.” Lena said slowly, her tone shifting to sympathetic, as her fingers reached out carefully to stroke Kara’s left hand that was clenched into a fist at her side with the hope of soothing the tension.
Kara’s hands fingers steadily began to uncurl at Lena’s first tentative touch, and she first herself being pulled into Lena’s welcoming gravity when-
The light from the portal intensified, the humming of the machine elevated into a continuous buzz and an alarm began to sound.
Instantly, Kara jerked away from Lena, her gaze switching to focus on the portal upon which she had built all her hopes for providing the shortcut to a second chance that she so greatly desired. Kara started moving towards it without conscious thought. She was halfway up the stairs of the stage when she felt a hand wrap around her elbow and try to tug her back.
Kara whirled around to find Lena, unbalanced from having abandoned her cane in her rush to chase after her, with a panicked expression and scared green eyes. Kara watched as Lena’s mouth opened, on the precipice of… of… asking, begging, arguing… Kara couldn’t be sure, but whatever it was it would be for the sole purpose of convincing her to stop.
“No! You don’t get it! I can fix it! I can fix it all! I can fix us, Lena!” Kara yelled, needing Lena to understand…
Needing her to see her. Needing her to hear her.
Of course she did. She knew Kara better than anyone else. She saw her when no one else did.
Kara could see the realisation light up her green eyes which suddenly shone with a light far brighter than the one emanating from the portal behind her.
“Oh, Kara…” Lena breathed in understanding as her free hand that wasn’t holding tightly onto Kara’s elbow lifted up to gently cup Kara’s face before she declared firmly. “There is nothing broken about us.”
Kara’s breath faltered as the world went truly quiet for the first time ever.
For nearly all her life Kara had always felt like she was in a bubble. Separated from the rest of the world.
She was so different from those that were around her that it was like there was a physical barrier between her and everyone else. She had always felt a disconnect like she was merely occupying the same space as other people but not actually living with them.
But in that moment...
That moment when Lena stepped further into her space, pressing their foreheads together so that their breath intermingled and Kara couldn’t look away from Lena even if she wanted to….
The bubble vanished.
That’s when Lena murmured the exact thing Kara needed to hear.
The exact thing she had wanted to hear from the very start.
Not just a few months ago.
But years ago,
Lena said exactly what Kara had been needing to hear since she was thirteen years old.
“And there especially isn’t anything broken about you .”
The portal closed with a single quiet hum, leaving the two women together in sudden, yet comforting darkness.
Alex was waiting for them outside, leaning against a black SUV and running her hands nervously through her hair, only stilling when Kara and Lena emerged hand in hand through the backdoor of the warehouse.
“Alex-” Kara began, the apology on the tip of her tongue, when she was stopped from speaking further by Alex practically leaping towards her and pulling her into the tightest hug imaginable.
“We can talk about it later.” Alex justified as Kara wrapped her free arm, not connected to Lena, around Alex’s back to reciprocate the hug.
It was a short embrace, but it conveyed everything Alex wanted to say - I’m here for you, and I love you .
“We have to go.” Alex murmured apologetically as she pulled away shooting Lena a beyond grateful smile, before she added, “Quickly.”
Alex held open the back door of the car, Lena clambered in first with Kara’s support and Kara followed immediately after, unable to bear the idea of disconnecting their joined hands. Satisfied that her passengers were safely inside, Alex gave their surroundings a final furtive sweep before climbing into the driver’s seat, the car setting off at a rapid speed only a few seconds later.
Once they were a few streets away from the warehouse, Alex tapped her ear-piece, “Brainy, we’re clear. Move the tactical squad forward. Let me know when it's all secure and we have the device in custody.”
Kara didn’t hear the reply, her attention was solely fixated on watching Lena’s thumb tenderly stroke the back of her knuckles continuously, but Alex tapped her ear-piece after only a couple of seconds indicating that her orders had been accepted without question.
“So, where to?” Alex asked the two women, brown eyes seeking out blue and green in the rear-view mirror.
“Kara?” Lena prompted gently, shifting the question and therefore the choice to her.
Kara took a moment to consider it, after everything she just wanted to rest, to feel safe and not be alone. “Home.” Kara requested.
“Okay.” Alex replied with a nod taking the next left.
It took Kara a minute or so to realise that they were heading to Kara’s apartment, “No.” Kara muttered, earning her concerned and curious looks from the two most important people in the world to her.
“No?” Lena’s brow furrowed.
Kara exhaled shakily, “Not my apartment.”
“But you said…” Lena said slowly.
“Home,” Kara agreed, shrinking into herself as she eyed Lena timidly and added in an almost imperceptible whisper, “not my apartment.”
It took a couple of seconds, but the lines wrinkling Lena’s brow steadily disappeared to be replaced with surprised wide eyes and a slightly open mouthed ‘oh’. Lena then smiled at her reassuringly before turning back to the front of the car, “Hey Alex, can you take us to my house instead?”
“Sure.” Alex replied, and Kara even her shy state could see the way the corners of Alex’s lips tugged upwards slightly at the request before she performed a U-turn.
The rest of the drive was silent. Kara was exhausted and completely not in the right state of mind for deep conversation or discussion and it was clear Alex and Lena were aware of that. They weren’t pushing but both offered their own support non-verbally.
It was dark and the majority of lights in the neighbouring houses on Lena’s street were off, their occupants having retreated to their own beds. Lena squeezed their hands once more to get Kara’s attention.
“Talk to your sister.” Lena muttered before pressing a kiss to Kara’s cheek, “I’ll meet you inside.” She promised, before releasing Kara, opening the car door and scooting outside.
Kara watched her go longingly, not quite comfortable being separated from the raven-haired woman but confident that Lena was not far away, waiting for her like always. Alex was sat tensely in the driver’s seat, her hands skirting nervously around the steering wheel before she took a deep breath and decisively turned off the car engine.
Kara gathered her own courage in kind and slid to the side so that she was diagonal to her sister in the front meaning that Alex didn’t have such an awkward angle to turn to see her.
“I’m sorry.” Kara said simply once the two sisters were facing each other.
Alex pursed her lips and unlike all the other times when Kara had apologised, Alex didn’t say it wasn’t necessary or that she wasn’t to blame. Instead Alex replied, “I know and I forgive you.”
The nerves in Kara’s stomach settled at that. Alex acknowledging that Kara had been in the wrong and giving her forgiveness provided credence to whenever Alex had said it wasn’t Kara’s fault in the past. Kara still didn’t fully believe that everything she did whilst under red K wasn’t her fault but this helped, the light at the end of the tunnel just got infinitesimally bigger.
“Don’t do that again.” Alex pleaded, ducking her head to hide the pained and scared expression.
“I won’t.” Kara promised without hesitation.
The sigh of relief from Alex revealed just how much tension she had been carrying but was trying not to show. “Look after each other, please...” Alex requested.
Kara felt the corner of her mouth uptick at just the indirect reference to the woman waiting inside the house for her. “We will.”
“Good.” Alex murmured, nodding her head and turning back in her seat, hand moving to restart the engine. “Go on inside and get some sleep, you look like you need it.” Alex teased flashing Kara a cheeky smirk that reminded Kara that no matter what trials, tribulations, traumas and tragedies might occur in her life that there would always be one thing she could count on.
Her sister was her strong foundation that would always be there to stop her from hitting rock bottom.
“Yeah, yeah.” Kara chuckled in amusement which caused Alex to positively beam at the achievement of having pulled a sound of such simple joy from her sister. Kara stepped out of the car and moved round to the driver’s door, Alex wound down the window and looked at her curiously with a raised eyebrow. “I love you.” Kara said simply.
“I love you too, sis.” Alex assured, brown eyes wide with affection.
“Can we-” Kara began cutting off shyly before shaking her head and forcing herself to ask for what she wanted. “Are you free tomorrow?”
“I can be.” Alex replied eagerly.
“Do you want to meet for lunch?” Kara suggested, “We could have a go at that meal you were trying to make for Kelly.” Kara’s nose scrunched up as she added with a wry grin, “I can’t promise that it won’t be another disaster though…”
“That sounds wonderful.” Alex breathed out with something akin to awe as her eyes teared up. “See you tomorrow, then.”
“See you tomorrow.” Kara promised before leaning forward so that her sister could kiss her forehead.
Kara stepped back, smiling as she watched her sister pull away and drive off into the night. Once she could no longer make out the tail lights, Kara headed up the path to Lena’s front door. She shut down the door behind herself and went in search of the other woman.
She found Lena in the kitchen filling two glasses of water for the two of them.
“Hey.” Kara called out softly as she approached, not wanting to spook the CEO.
Lena looked over her shoulder and smiled at Kara, encouraging her to come closer by holding out one of the glasses for her to take. “Hey.” Lena responded in kind as she sipped from her own glass, her green eyes sweeping up and down Kara’s body to check her over - presumably to make sure she was physically okay, but Kara still found herself flushing under Lena’s gaze.
“Is this okay?” Kara inquired, shifting her weight nervously from foot to foot, aware that she had invited herself into Lena’s home.
“Yes.” Lena declared, and Kara could hear everything that went with that single word.
Yes, you’re welcome here.
Yes, I want you here.
Yes, this is your home too.
“What do you need, Kara?” Lena questioned, tilting her head to the side curiously and offering Kara the same thing she had only a few nights ago.
“Just you.” Kara answered without even thinking about it.
Lena’s cheeks flushed a bright red at the response and Kara couldn’t stop the pleased smirk or how her chest puffed out with pride at flustering the seemingly unflappable CEO. After everything, it gave her a much needed confidence boost to know she still had such an effect on her best friend.
“Well… umm…. I- I-...” Lena stuttered before huffing out an annoyed breath and rolling her eyes at her own lack of composure which simply made Kara smile wider. “Shut up.” Lena tsked, reaching out to playfully cover Kara’s beaming grin with her hand, resulting in Kara’s blue eyes crinkling even further to illustrate her joy. “You already have me.” Lena confessed, her hand moving back to tenderly trace the edges of Kara’s smile instead of covering it up.
“I do?” Kara whispered, needing that certainty.
“You do.” Lena hummed in confirmation, her hand settling to cup Kara’s cheek as she returned to the original question. “What else do you need?”
Instantly Kara yawned, unable to hold it back.
“Mmmhmmm…” Kara hummed, only minorly embarrassed as she reached out to pull Lena closer, ducking down to rest her forehead on Lena’s shoulder, her entire body curling towards the proffered warmth of the other woman. “Sleepy…”
Lena chuckled, her hand moving from Kara’s cheek to the nape of her neck to tenderly hold her in place. “Well, that just won’t do.” Lena murmured as her fingers intermittently combed through Kara’s hair. “Let’s get you to bed.” Lena suggested before pressing a fleeting kiss to the side of Kara’s head.
“Your bed?” Kara checked, her voice muffled from burying her face in Lena’s shoulder.
Lena tensed in her arms at the question and Kara barely resisted flinching back but she forced herself to remain still, placing her trust in Lena to communicate. To tell her if that was not something she was comfortable with. To tell her if she wanted space.
Slowly, Lena’s tension eked away, and she melted back into Kara’s embrace, “Will you…” Lena began shyly before trailing off.
“Will I, what?” Kara encouraged, nuzzling her nose into the warm skin of Lena’s neck.
Kara could feel Lena swallow thickly, “Will you be there… in the morning this time?”
Kara stilled at the question and the underlying embarrassment and fear in Lena’s voice. She pulled back gradually to find downcast green eyes. “Yes. I will be here in the morning. I won’t run.” Kara assured but was honest enough with herself and Lena to add, “At least not tonight.”
If Percy had taught her anything - reinforced anything to her over and over again - it was that her recovery would never just finish . It was a process. She would have good days and bad days. The hope, and main aim, was simply to reduce the bad days until they were as negligible as they could be compared to the good days. She didn’t want to run tonight. She wanted to curl up in Lena’s arms and wake up with her in the morning.
She didn’t want to run and had no intention of running.
But she couldn’t and therefore wouldn’t promise that there weren’t going to be bad days where she did.
Lena lifted her gaze back up at that, and Kara felt all the air rush out of her lungs at how pleased and proud Lena was looking at her. “Okay, then.” Lena breathed, “Shall we go to bed?”
They trailed up the stairs together, Lena choosing to forego her cane to instead lean on Kara. Lena rooted around for a spare pair of pyjamas and yet again managed to find an old, forgotten pair of Kara’s that now smelt suspiciously like Lena. They both changed and settled side by side in bed again.
Kara shuffled on her side trying to work out how to ask for closeness when Lena beat her to the punch by shifting towards her, a pale arm wrapping around Kara’s waist and raven hair tucking under her chin as Lena rested her head on Kara’s shoulder.
“Is this okay?” Lena checked.
“Yeah…” Kara exhaled, the exhaustion she had been holding back washing over her as she placed one hand atop Lena’s arm, that was around her waist, to keep it secure whilst her other hand moved to rest on Lena’s hip, her fingers dipping under Lena’s pyjama shirt to brush against soft, cool skin. “This is… everything…” Kara murmured before her eyes slipped closed and she felt the welcoming tug of peaceful sleep.
Kara wasn’t sure how long she slept for but when she woke up the sun streaming through a gap in the curtains was high in the sky indicating late morning. There was a beyond pleasant weight on her chest and her hand was flat against the small of Lena’s back underneath her slightly rucked up pyjama shirt.
“Morning.” Lena greeted as Kara blinked open her eyes, adjusting to the light and still feeling sleep heavy from getting what was probably the best rest she’d had in months.
Kara would like to be romantic and say her deep, comfortable sleep was solely due to Lena but she was trying to be honest with herself so that she could better understand herself and her own needs to progress her own recovery.
There was no doubt Lena’s presence was a major contributing factor.
As was being in Lena’s house and bed which she viewed as a safe environment.
But it was also largely due to her accepting herself. Accepting that she wasn’t broken as she had always secretly believed. Accepting that she had a long road of therapy and hard work ahead of her. Accepting that she was willing to put in the effort. Accepting that she could and would get better.
Acceptance had meant she was no longer constantly fighting against herself and with that came an inner peace which made sleep far easier.
“Morning.” Kara replied, smiling warmly at the raven-haired woman, her hand immediately starting to stroke up and down Lena’s back causing Lena to hum appreciatively. “We…” Kara started, wincing awkwardly, “should probably talk.”
“Probably.” Lena agreed somewhat noncommittally, leaving it up to Kara to begin.
“I’m sorry.” Kara began, already sick of how nearly every conversation she started seemed to include those two words. Lena merely arched an eyebrow at her, awaiting clarification and context. “For last night and… for leaving in the morning... “
Lena nodded in understanding, “You were scared.”
“That doesn’t excuse it.” Kara murmured earnestly as she used her free hand to sweep dark hair out of Lena’s face so she could have an unimpeded view of her favourite green. “I… I want to be better than that and I’m going to work towards being better.”
“That’s all anyone can ask of someone.” Lena asserted, “Thank you, for apologising. And thank you for staying.”
Kara lifted her head to press a grateful kiss to Lena’s forehead at her words. “I’m not going to get better as quickly as I thought I would.” Kara admitted, turning her gaze to the motes of dust dancing in the beam of light through the curtain. “I thought… I wanted…” Kara’s jaw clenched in frustration as she struggled to find the words. “I wanted to be good enough for you before I came back to you.”
“What do you mean?” Lena inquired, reaching out to gently guide Kara’s chin so that Kara could see the perplexed furrow to her brow.
“I… I wanted to get better first.” Kara tried to explain her previous disjointed thoughts and logic. “I thought… I thought I was broken.” Lena instantly frowned at the term, visibly biting down on her tongue to prevent herself from interrupting. “And that if I was broken I wasn’t good enough… so I kept my distance. I mean, at first, it was the guilt. I thought that me hurting you was… that I was fully responsible and I couldn’t… I didn’t want to hurt you ever again.” Kara’s throat felt raw and scratchy as the dark emotions from those days rushed back in, she pushed hard against them to keep them out.
“It’s okay, it’s okay.” Lena soothed, helping Kara win the battle and push forward.
“And then… then I started to realise that I had bigger… problems.” The word felt wrong in her mouth but she couldn’t think of another one. She made a mental note to speak to Percy about terminology and words that she could use to help relate and explain what she was going through. “And I saw myself as broken… and I… I didn’t think a broken version of myself was good enough for you or could give you the relationship you deserved. And…” Kara blinked quickly to dispel the building tears, “I want to give you everything. The best. I want to make you happy.”
“Oh, Kara…” Lena muttered sympathetically, moving up in the bed so that their foreheads were pressed tightly together and they were nose to nose. “You make me happy.”
“I still don’t know if I can give you a real relationship.” Kara confessed, her heart breaking at the truth of her own words.
She wasn’t ready for dates out at a restaurant, holding hands in public and weekend getaways.
She still regularly had days where she was so depressed and lost that she could only just make it from her bed to the sofa.
She had days where the thought of social interaction made her freeze with fear and hide under her bed.
She was still eating rather erratically, different portion sizes at random time-frames as her hunger fluctuated.
“That’s okay.” Lena said simply, “I can wait.”
Kara frowned at that causing Lena to pull back and settle her head on the same pillow so that they were eye to eye. “I can’t ask you to do that.”
“I know you can’t, and you’re not.” Lena replied, her tone not accepting of any argument on this matter. “I want to wait. I meant it, Kara. I am yours. I’m not going anywhere. I want you to focus on getting better and I wish to be there every step of the way in whatever way you want me.” Kara’s breath caught at the seriousness of Lena’s words. “I am choosing to wait because I want you… but only when you feel ready and comfortable.”
Kara desperately wanted to accept Lena’s commitment without complaint but she felt uneasy with what she deemed to be the unfairness of the situation she was putting Lena in. “Lena, you could be waiting a long time and I can’t-”
“How long would you wait for me?” Lena interrupted, her expression open and curious.”How long would you wait for me if I was in your place?”
The question threw Kara for a moment, not expecting it, her mouth opened and closed a few times before she flushed a deep red and muttered honestly, “Forever and a day.”
“Then…” Lena whispered, leaning forward to brush their noses together, “believe me when I say… I would wait forever and two days for you, Kara Zor-El.”
Kara could feel whatever was left of her heart leave her chest and transfer fully into Lena’s possession at the same time as a bubble of laughter escaped. “Forever and two days?”
Lena smirked proudly, “Everyone knows that Luthor is a synonym for competitive.”
“Rao, I love you.” Kara breathed out because at that moment in time she was simply happy and she felt no desire to censor herself.
Green eyes lit up and shone at the declaration, “I love you, too.”
Kara’s gaze dropped to Lena’s lips involuntarily. “It’s not going to be easy… everything that comes next.”
“If I’ve learned anything during my life… nothing worth having is easy.” Lena replied.
Kara chuckled, “You sound like my therapist.” Lena practically preened at the statement. “Can I…” Kara began, licking her now dry lips.
“Ask me, Kara.” Lena ordered.
“Can I kiss you?” Kara asked in a single rushed breath. “I know that might not be fair, but I thought it might… give us incentive but if you don’t-”
Kara’s rapidly increasing ramble was cut off by Lena’s lips pressing impossibly softly against her own.
This wasn’t just an incentive.
This was everything.
This was the end-goal.
Being ensconced in Lena’s arms, in her bed, in her home, kissing the woman she loved on a lazy morning with plans to see her sister later.
Living life for herself.
This was worth working for.
Worth taking the long way round for.
“Okay, I’ll be honest…” Percy admitted after listening to Kara recount the events that had occurred in the day between their therapy sessions, “time travel… not something I have ever had to take into consideration before.”
Kara squirmed on the sofa opposite as she shot Percy an apologetic grimace, “Yeah… it wasn’t my finest moment.”
Percy shook his head, deciding to put the mechanics and implications of time travel into a far flung corner that he would try his utmost to avoid from here on out and returned his focus to his patient. “That may be true.” Percy agreed, “But I wouldn’t expect anyone going through what you currently are to be handling it flawlessly. If you were, I’d probably be more concerned.”
Kara quirked a curious eyebrow at him, “More concerned? Why?”
“I would be more than a little worried that they were suppressing their emotions and trying to ignore their reaction to what they were going through.” Percy explained. He knew some therapists avoided giving out their ‘trade secrets’ but Percy always strived to share his knowledge where possible as he hoped it helped his patients to understand themselves and others better. “Pushing that down could lead to a larger…” Percy paused as he struggled to find the right term, “for lack of a better word, breakdown. It could reset their progress considerably.”
“So…” Kara began, dragging out the single word, as a rare mischievous twinkle appeared in her blue eyes. “What you are saying is that me nearly time travelling and breaking the laws of the universe is a good sign?”
Percy laughed, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
Kara pouted but the light in her eyes didn’t diminish.
Percy took a moment to look over his patient. She wasn’t dressed in her standard pastel ensemble, instead she was in jeans, a white t-shirt and light blue blazer. Kara had explained shyly (when Percy had complimented her outfit) that her sister had given her a lift to her session today and had helped her get ready. Lena was picking her up after today’s session and she had wanted to dress up a bit so had sought her sister’s advice.
If there was one sign that showed that Kara was improving it was the clear evidence provided by Kara’s simple answer that she was leaning on and involving her support system. (Kara had tried not to blush when Percy had positively beamed with pride at her mumbled explanation).
“Can I ask you something?” Kara murmured, once Percy’s laughter had died down, her expression hesitant.
“It’s your session, Kara.” Percy reminded her encouragingly. “Ask away.”
Kara bit her bottom lip before asking all in one rushed expulsion of air, “Do you think I’ll ever be Supergirl again?”
Percy blinked in surprise at the question, not expecting it at that moment despite knowing she would have inevitably asked it one day, “Do you want to be Supergirl again?” Percy prompted.
“Trust a therapist to answer a question with another question.” Kara joked, earning her a helpless shrug from the doctor, before dropping her gaze to the floor as she took time to consider her response. “I did at the start of all this - when I first came to see you. More than anything.” She confessed with a whimsical smile. “But I realise now that I wanted it for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to... atone, I guess?” Kara tried to explain, carefully unpicking her earlier thoughts and reasons. “Get back to normal, or at least what I considered normal. And… I think more than anything…” Kara’s brow furrowed thoughtfully, “I didn’t know who I was without Supergirl, if that makes sense?”
“It does.” Percy reassured, giving his patient the support to keep going.
“I don’t really know when it truly happened but… I stopped being one person. I’d split myself in two and when I gave up Supergirl… I lost an important part of myself.” Kara said emphasising her final point with a shaky breath. “I was desperate to get that back because if I didn’t… if I didn’t…” She trailed off, her expression lost.
“You would need to work out who you really are.” Percy finished for her with a sympathetic smile.
“Was it wrong that I was so scared of doing that?” Kara questioned, fidgeting with the cuffs of her jacket.
“No.” Percy replied without hesitation. “I think most people are scared to find out who they really are. Your task is especially daunting because you were trying to shape yourself to suit so many people’s expectations.” Percy waited until he was making direct eye contact with Kara before saying seriously, “You are never going to make everyone happy.”
“Yeah, I know.” Kara sighed acceptingly and with no small amount of disappointment. “I did… do?... enjoy being Supergirl.” Kara added, “I liked being able to use my powers freely, not hiding that part of myself. But, overall... I just like helping people and not just because it alleviated my warped sense of guilt.”
“I know that. I saw it firsthand.” Percy responded, “When you helped that little girl in the park. It’s in your nature to help others, to want to understand and support them. That’s not a bad thing and it's not due to the survivor’s guilt.” Percy revealed, “The only danger of it is when you put saving people above your own mental health, your own needs and your own happiness.”
“You don’t think I’m ready yet?” Kara guessed, astutely reading between the lines.
Percy pursed his lips, trying to decide how forthcoming he should be. He didn’t like to make decisions for his patients, he liked to give them a balanced view and the right tools to assess so they could make their own responsible choices for themselves. But there were times when he couldn’t avoid giving an outright opinion, he just hoped his patients never felt like he was putting his will on them.
“No, I don’t.” Percy eventually admitted. “You are still discovering who you are, learning better coping mechanisms and you’ve only just started to rely on your support system. I fear bringing back Supergirl at this stage would cause you to regress. You would use that role as a crutch, meaning that when you had bad days and slip-ups, I believe you would use Supergirl as a way to hide it or atone for any mistakes you might make along the way.”
Percy fell quiet providing Kara time to disagree with his assessment.
She did not.
She actually looked… at peace. Not happy, but also not angry or surprised at his view. There was an edge of disappointment to her frown but it wasn’t intense, more long settled; like going to a restaurant that you knew served mediocre food at best and getting something just below average. It was disappointing but not earth-shattering.
“Fair.” Kara said, succinctly summarising her opinion of what the doctor had said.
“ But. ..” Percy declared, “in answer to your original question… yes.” Kara jerked up to look at him, minorly taken aback, “I think you could be Supergirl again, but you have to want it for the right reasons.”
Kara hummed appreciatively at the answer. “You know, what my favourite part of being Supergirl was?”
“What?” Percy encouraged.
“I liked making people’s days better. I liked making people feel safe, protected and cared for.” Blue eyes shimmered with hope and memories as Kara smiled knowingly as if she was about to reveal a secret to the doctor. “I liked being the hero I would have wanted to save me when I was thirteen.”
“Are you saying you’re not anymore?” Percy pressed, tilting his head to the side.
Kara shrugged noncommittally.
“I mean… I don’t know, please correct me if I’m wrong… but a young girl who has just lost her planet doesn’t need a hero who can lift cars and stop bullets.” Percy rationalised, his familiar professor and storyteller voice sweeping into action. “She needs a hero that understands loss and heartbreak and knows - because she’s done it - how to keep moving forward with hope and love in her heart. A scared little girl wants someone who can make her laugh, who can bring her joy when she feels like there is none left in the universe.” Percy leaned forward in his chair and smiled warmly at the blonde woman across from him. “Can you honestly tell me that you are not the exact hero that little girl would have wanted?”
Kara opened and closed her mouth, before breathing out slowly as she admitted, “No, I can’t.”
Just the epilogue left now. I hope you are all looking after yourselves (physically and mentally) and keeping safe where you can. :) xx
Two Years Later
“Chocolate and caramel scoop with a flake?” Abraham, the ice cream vendor, checked already making up the cone for the well-dressed older man.
“Yes, please. Thank you, Abe.” Percy confirmed with a grin to his old friend before he used his handkerchief to wipe a bit of dust, leftover from the desert, from his brow. “So tell me… what strange concoction are you indulging in today?” The doctor inquired, turning to his young, blonde companion with an amused eyebrow raise.
The blonde in question was dressed in comfy jeans and a grey t-shirt splattered with dried paint. Her golden hair was down and curling loosely past her shoulders. She stood tall, shoulders back but with a casual posture, hands in the back of her pockets and occasionally rolling her weight to the balls of her feet, that gave her an approachable demeanour.
“I’m feeling mint choc chip and… uh…” Kara hemmed and hawed as she leaned over the selection, her eyes sweeping over the available flavours studiously despite having memorised the selection well over a year ago, “oooh, honeycomb, please?”
Percy rolled his eyes whilst Abe beamed, utterly endeared by the young woman, “Coming up.” Abe promised, preparing their cones and handing them over. Kara insisted on paying, declaring it to be her turn since Percy had bought her a vanilla-iced latte the last time they had met up - Percy didn’t bother arguing, he knew better than most how stubborn the kryptonian was when she set her mind to something, though she would claim ‘determined’ was a more accurate descriptor.
They had agreed to disagree.
Ice creams in hand, the pair headed towards what they both designated their bench to enjoy the warm summer weather.
They hadn’t been to their bench for quite some time, but that was to be expected as Kara required his support less and less.
His and Kara’s sessions had started out as being twice a week, both early afternoons on weekdays. Those sessions had eventually switched to be either at lunchtimes or early evenings to support Kara’s return to work. After about six months or so, their sessions reduced to once a week, and then eighteen months after Kara had turned up to her first session, they now only ever saw each other once a fortnight (for therapy sessions anyway, they had formed their own little book club and met up regularly for coffee to discuss their book of the week).
Percy was beyond proud of the young woman and the progress she had made. She had re-taken control of her life and set down a path of her own choosing. Her career had started to take-off, Percy had read all of her articles with no small amount of awe and heard the whispers of a pulitzer for her recent investigative piece looking into Lord Technology and their attempted cover-up of ineffective medical devices.
Her relationships were also flourishing. She had been maid of honour at her sister’s wedding a year ago and had recently helped her sister decorate a nursery for the impending arrival of her niece in the next couple of months. She had restored her links with her friends, Brainy, Nia and J’onn, and was back to hosting weekly game nights for all of them. She was also getting better at reaching out to Eliza for support and had spent the last two Christmases in Midvale with Lena, Alex and Kelly.
Then, there was Lena, which brought Percy to the question he had been dying to ask all day.
“Can I see it?” Percy requested eagerly, once Kara had finished her ice cream and was not in any danger of spilling it all over herself (which she had managed to do on at least two separate occasions in the past).
“See what?” Kara prompted, attempting to play dumb but the excited twinkle in her blue eyes gave her away.
“You know what.” Percy tsked, turning on the bench so he was more directly facing the woman. “Annie hasn’t stopped talking about it since you showed her it at the barbecue.”
“Aw… jealous? You know I only showed her because you were providing a good distraction for Lena at the time.” Kara teased though she didn’t hesitate to reach into the back-pack she was carrying with her to pull out a large square velvet box, the corners of which were already worn from where it was obvious Kara had been nervously playing with it.
The friendship the therapist and his patient had struck up wasn’t typical and probably fell into a grey area ethically speaking. Their unusual relationship probably had something to do with Kara saving his wife all those years ago, creating a bond between them that already crossed some sort of line. And it probably had even more to do with Percy reaching the twilight days of his career, knowing he was slowing down and wanting to still be on hand to support Kara when he would eventually have to step back from his position permanently.
He’d also become rather embroiled in the Hero community as a whole due to having his very own Super recommending his services to all her costumed friends.
He had, however, only taken on a couple of patients. Oliver Queen was currently taking up more than his fair share of Percy’s time with all of the trauma that comes with five years of survival and trauma followed by continued betrayal and violence. Percy was also having to finally face that far flung corner where he had dumped time travel to understand Ava Sharpe’s job and better support her attempts at reconciling with being a clone.
Despite all these changes, the old doctor was still managing to find the similarities between the people that made his work all the more enjoyable and possible - he was just now also invited to barbecues alongside Superman and the Flash.
“So… what do you think?” Kara inquired as she clicked open the box’s lid to reveal a platinum bracelet with alternating sapphires and emeralds embedded into an interlacing band with kryptonian characters etched into it. Above the bracelet on the cushion was a ring fitted with a solitary emerald to match the bracelet. “Do you think she’ll like it? I was going to just go with the standard human engagement ring but Lena has been so insistent that I bring Kryptonian culture into our relationship as much as I want… and well… we use bracelets not rings. But I wanted to honour both of our cultures and you know… both parts of me. Is it too much? It might be too much.” Kara rambled on, her face blushing profusely.
“Kara,” Percy said slowly, reaching out to squeeze Kara’s shoulder reassuringly, “I think it’s wonderful. Lena will adore it.”
“Yeah?” Kara checked, hope sparkling in her eyes.
“Without a doubt.” He reassured.
“I just… I really want it to be perfect because…” Kara started to explain before trailing off as she watched the children play nearby. “Lena is working on a way for us to have children.” Kara confessed quietly.
“Really?” Percy murmured though he wasn’t surprised. From what he knew of the youngest Luthor, her heart was nearly as big as her mind and there was no doubt that when those two parts of her were working together (usually for Kara) that was when magic truly happened.
“Mmhmm… for a Luthor she’s not as sneaky as she thinks she is.” Kara chuckled causing Percy to raise a curious eyebrow at her. “Lead-lined labs, hidden files and code-name projects, she did it all to keep it a secret.” Kara explained, before rushing to clarify less than a second later, “Not because she was trying to keep it a secret-secret. I think she partly doesn’t want to get my hopes by telling me before she’s figured it out... but I think she mostly just wants to make it a surprise. But anyway…” Kara huffed out a breath and waved a dismissive hand, “All of that effort and she forgot that she talks in her sleep. She’s been muttering about flying babies for the last month…” Kara revealed causing the old doctor to laugh heartily. “Didn’t take long after that clue to figure out what she’s been working on.”
Once his laughter had sufficiently died down, Percy asked the all important question, “How do you feel about that? Children with Lena?”
Kara bit her bottom lip shyly as she whispered, “Happy. Really happy. It’s something I’ve always wanted for myself.”
Percy beamed at her, proud of her for acknowledging her joy, her wants and her dreams. It showed just how far Kara had come.
It hadn’t always been easy.
There had been dark days, turbulent weeks and a bleak month somewhere in the middle but Kara had always come through the other side. She learnt to rely on her friends and family; she steadily came to trust that Lena wouldn’t abandon her at the first sign of trouble and just six months ago… Supergirl had returned.
The hero wasn’t the same as she once was.
Long gone was the red skirt and high boots to be replaced with an outfit more akin to Kryptonian armour. It had been designed by Lena, Alex and Brainy incorporating anti-kryptonite defence mechanisms, a cooling system when handling fires and a number of other useful gadgets like beacons Supergirl could put in place to help direct NCPD during rescue operations.
Supergirl was no longer the first line of defence. The NCPD and DEO had proven that they didn’t need a Super to handle everyday crime and run of the mill costume villains. Supergirl was now the last line, the emergency emergency service as she had been dubbed by the media. She helped people first and foremost but stayed out of the way of crimes.
Fires, car crashes, natural disasters, cats stuck up trees and the occasional world-ending super-villain were the only events that the superheroine stepped in for.
The woman behind the cape had her own life and she was far more protective of her own time than she had been before.
“You’ll be a wonderful mother.” Percy said earnestly, breaking the peaceful silence that had settled between them.
“You think so?” Kara asked, eyes wide with wonder.
“I know so.” Percy confirmed with a resolute nod of the head.
“I sometimes still don’t believe it.” Kara whispered.
“Believe what?” Percy prompted.
“That this is my life.” Kara admitted, “When I think back to that very first day I met you in your office… all I wanted was for my life to return to what it once was.”
“And has it? Returned to what it was before?” Percy questioned, frowning at the way Kara’s gaze went distant.
Eventually, Kara shook her head, “No, it hasn’t.”
“Oh…” Percy muttered with no small amount of disappointment.
It was then that Kara turned back to face him, revealing warm blue eyes and a soft smile, “It got better.”
I wrote this story because I had seen so many fics deal with the topic of Lena going to therapy or Kara and Lena together going to therapy, but never just Kara. And I found that so bizarre. I also wanted to push myself to explore her characterisation more and think through where certain personality traits and decisions with regards to Kara could stem from. I came up with my other fic (Happier) at the same time as this one and that is going to heavily focus on developing both Lena and Kara as individuals, but the first part of that one is all Lena and I kind of fancied writing about Kara hence this fic taking precedence.
I learned a lot from this story about characterisation, though my next challenge is to bring that same level of characterisation to all the characters in the story. I am aware that Lena is a little bit Mary-Sue in this story but I knew that going in. I wanted Kara to be the focus and as such had to make Lena a little more perfect than normal to not stretch the story too thin.
With that in mind, I cut a lot of ideas/concepts from this story to make it more coherent and I thought you might like to know a few head-canons that I couldn't explore in more depth:
1) Kara's excessive fidgeting is a result of her time in the phantom zone. She moves when she's nervous to remind herself she's not trapped like she was before.
2) Kara steadily shared more and more of kryptonian culture with Lena as they restarted their romance. One night Lena revealed that she had spent the last few years learning to speak kryptonese but hadn't told Kara because she was embarrassed of her poor accent. Kara had cried when Lena had spoken Kryptonese to her for the first time, that night was the first night they slept together since their first date.
3) The single biggest argument that Kara and Lena had was when Kara realised she had practically moved in with Lena without realising it. She panicked and pulled away, fearful that was overstepping. It took a long time but Lena eventually explained that she wanted to live with Kara but because they were moving at Kara's pace, she hadn't made it official. They moved in officially a week later.
4) Percy's grand-daughter would always be Supergirl's biggest fan - especially since the hero stopped by her birthday party.
5) Kara and Lena attended Percy and Annie's 35th wedding anniversary.
6) Percy and Annie attended Kara and Lena's wedding.
Stay safe out there everyone. Look after your physical and mental health. :) xx