Alex didn’t even flinch as Kara landed hard behind her. She did look over her shoulder though, and beckoned her over.
“Take a look at this,’ she urged.
Kara almost skipped over, squeezing past DEO agents, muttering an apology as she did so. She knelt down beside her sister, and examined the dead body that was wedged underneath the car.
“Liberian,’ Kara said regretfully. ‘They look at lot like Maxsheens, except for their fins – see?’
Alex reached out with a gloved hand, and ran a finger along the spiky fin protruding from the back of the alien’s head. “I’ll get them to add the species to our catalogue. Although I think after this we’re just going to have to get you to sit down and write down all the species you remember. We need a more comprehensive archive. Then I wouldn’t need to call you out all the time.”
“I don’t mind helping,’ Kara smiled.
“Yeah I know, but didn’t you say you have a meeting today?’
“It’s was just an interview with Lena. I moved it to tomorrow.”
Alex glanced at her quickly, before retuning her attention to the body. It was lying underneath a pick-up truck. It was wearing all black, obviously adhering to the human standard of wearing all leathers when riding a motorcycle. The Ducati was nearby, banged up and dented. It had made Alex’s heart hurt a little to see such a beautiful machine in such a condition.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean for you to reschedule your whole day. I just needed an ID, really. Cause of death is pretty cut and dry but won’t be determined until an autopsy, but we’re still looking into things. If you need to be somewhere else…”
Kara opened her mouth to answer, but her head jerked suddenly to the left, and her expression hardened. Alex wondered what she can hear, but doesn’t ask.
“Go,’ she urged. ‘We’ll handle this.”
“Are you sure?’
Kara lifted off the ground, hovered for a moment to say, ‘Call me if you need anything else,’ and then shot off into the air. Alex blinked against the gust of wind, then turned back to the scene.
Alex spent the next few minutes on all fours, crawling underneath the truck looking for clues, when familiar black boots appeared in her peripheral vision.
“Is now the time to make a joke about how I enjoy seeing you in this position?’
Alex smiled, rolled her eyes and crawled back out from underneath the truck. Maggie was standing over her, arms folded over her chest, with a smirk on her face. Her hair was tied up in her “work” pony, and her too-big-for-her bomber jacket hung off her like a kid wearing her father’s coat.
“Only if you want to have your ass kicked, Sawyer,’ Alex retorted.
Maggie just chuckled, and held out a hand to help Alex to her feet. “So… what have we got?”
Alex gestured for her to follow, and began to explain what had happened; DEO intercepted the call to emergency services (like they did with most calls). The driver of the pick-up had called it in, saying she had hit the alien completely by accident. The woman reported that the alien had come out of no-where, streaming around the corner on its motorbike at top speed, and she’d had no time to stop.
“I saw the skid marks,’ Maggie pointed back down the alley. ‘And I found this…”
From her jacket, Maggie produced a large, plastic evidence bag, containing some sort of metal object that looked something like a controller for a gaming console.
“Thought maybe you’d like to swap?’ Maggie offered Alex the bag. ‘I’ll take the crime scene, you work out what the hell the weird alien device is in your weird alien lab.”
“Sounds like a fair trade.”
Alex held the bag up to eye-level, examining the object inside. It was shiny and chrome, with two little glass plates on either side, just big enough for a thumbprint to be scanned. Alex’s mind was already buzzing over the possibilities of what the object is, when she felt Maggie punch her softly on the arm, bringing her back to reality.
“You’re adorable when you geek out,’ Maggie smirked. ‘See you tonight?’
Not waiting for a response, Maggie slapped Alex on the behind and headed back toward the scene. Alex smiled to herself, until she noticed nearby DEO agents giving her a glance.
She gave them such a death glare that they all cleared their throats and quickly looked away.
Kara flew back into the DEO later that afternoon. She exchanged a few pleasantries with the agents who were darting around here and there, before heading to the central control area and trotting up behind the familiar, hunched shoulders of Winn Schott.
“Another bank saved,’ she beamed, swinging her arms happily.
“Makes you wonder why they even bother anymore,’ Winn leant back in his chair, one hand still typing away on his keyboard. ‘I saw the whole thing on the security footage. Did that one guy really come at you with a crowbar?’
Kara winced. ‘I warned him. I think his arm is still shaking.”
Winn reached up and gently moved the ends of Kara’s hair away from her jaw; the same place she had been struck by the bar. “Should know better than to mess with my girl.”
She laughed and batted his hand away. ‘Is Alex back yet?’
Winn jerked a thumb over his shoulder, and turned back to his computer. “In the lab, doing… lab stuff.”
Giving his shoulder a quick squeeze, Kara flicked her cape out and headed down the familiar path to her sister’s lab. As Winn promised, Alex was bent over a microscope, brown hair falling around her face. Kara quietly amused herself, musing how hilarious it was to watch Alex look into a microscope; she always had this stance, like a runner at the starting line, bent and ready for the starting gun.
“Hey,’ Kara sighed happily, closing the glass door behind her. ‘How did everything go after I left?’
“Maggie showed up,’ Alex didn’t look up from the microscope, but Kara could still see the smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. ‘It’s getting sorted. She’s going to text me if anything comes up.”
Kara curled her tongue around her tooth, and raised her eyebrows. “Uh-huh.”
“How did all your superheroing go?’
She filled Alex in on the bank robbery, as well the bus explosion on the interstate, the crane that got caught in the powerlines, and the tow truck that flipped on the bridge. Alex nodded and hmm’d, and told her not to touch that and “pass the pen”.
“What are you looking at there?’ Kara asked.
Alex finally looked up from the microscope, rubbed her eyes and wrote something down on the notebook beside her. “Recovered from the scene today. It’s got markings on the outside, I was just having a closer look.”
“Need me to translate? I know a little Liberian.”
“I was going to give it to Winn, but if you think you can…’
Alex took the silver, controller-shaped object from under the scope and handed it to Kara.
That’s when it happened.
In the same exact second Kara touched it, the world lost focus. Kara shut her eyes, feeling suddenly so dizzy she felt she might actually be sick. There was a loud roaring in her ears, and a jolt in her stomach like she’d been pitched forward… and then it stopped.
“Ugh,’ Kara groaned. Her head was throbbing’ her brain felt like it was banging around on the inside of her skull, trying to bust out. ‘What the heck… Alex, are you okay?’
“No,’ said a voice that wasn’t Alex. ‘Kara, open your eyes.”
Kara did so.
Then she shut her eyes again, and squeezed them tight, certain she’s seeing things. She rubbed them until there were spots in the blackness, and then opened them again.
Supergirl was standing in front of her, looking scared and confused. And despite Kara’s initial disbelief, it is definitely her; the same face Kara looks at every morning in the mirror. The girl in front of her was staring at Kara, open mouthed, before looking down at herself.
Kara did the same. Except when she looked down she didn’t see a big ‘S’, or a red skirt or boots. She was looking at all black; a utility belt hanging from her hips…
“What - …’ Kara clamped her mouth shut, muffling the voice that isn’t her own. She ran a hand through her hair. It ended just below her ears. She glanced back at the woman in front of her. ‘Alex?’
“Oh no,’ Alex shook her head and waved her hands in denial. ‘No no no…”
It’s disbelief, plain and simple. Kara opened and closed her eyes a few more times, just to convince herself that she wasn’t hallucinating.
“How…’ Kara held her hand up in front of her face. They were the hands that had wiped away tears in the middle of the night. They’re the hands that always gripped her so tightly in the midst of a hug. Hands that had passed her potstickers and pizza across the table; hands that she knew almost as well as her own. ‘Did we just…”
“Stop talking,’ Alex held a finger up, still this time, right in Kara’s face. She was staring right back at her; Kara could see the cogs whirling away inside her head.
Alex knelt down to pick the device up from the floor. As she stood, she almost tripped on the cape trailing behind her. She held the chrome item up for Kara to look at. “Did you touch the little thumb scanner here?’
“Uh… I don’t know.” Kara rubbed her head. Her ears were still ringing. And now that she had noticed that, she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder also.
“That must be what this device does,’ Alex holds the device up to eye-level, one blue eye shut. ‘It… it swapped us.”
Kara laughed flatly. “Gee, you think?’
“It doesn’t matter, give it back,’ Kara gestured, waving her hand impatiently. ‘We can’t stay like this.”
Without argument, Alex held the device out for Kara to take. Like before, and making sure to place her thumb back in the same spot, Kara wrapped her hand around the other end.
“Wait,’ Kara urged, ‘let me try again.”
She let go completely, then took the device in her hand again. And again, nothing happened.
“Rao help us,’ Kara groaned.
Alex put the device down on the bench, quickly – too quickly for Kara to see. Alex stared at Kara with wide eyes. Kara felt for the stool behind her and sat down heavily. Now that the shock was wearing off, she was beginning to noticing how tired she felt. Alex body was exhausted.
“What do we do?’ Kara breathed after a long moment.
Alex didn’t answer. She was staring between the device, and her hands – Kara’s hands.
She blinked, the haze evaporating from her eyes. Alex looked around at her sister – at herself – and straightened up, and squinted, suddenly looking like she was getting a migraine.
“I need you to go get Winn.”
“I’ll explain when he gets here, just go. But don’t tell him what’s happened!”
“Alex, I don’t…”
Kara sighed and got to her feet. Her legs felt wobbly as she headed to the door. She reached out and put a hand on Alex’s shoulder as she passed. She could feel her own shoulders; the texture of the leather of her cape, and the material of her suit, was such a familiar feeling. But Alex shrugged away from her, arms wrapped around herself, and just told her again to go get Winn.
The walk back through the office was a much different experience that it had been only ten minutes ago. Alex’s advice not to tell anyone was fresh on her mind, so Kara tried to act normal. She smiled at people as she passed, trying to seem casual, like everything was fine. But instead of the grins and waves she usually got in return, people’s eyes advert to the ground to avoid her gaze. Agents stood up straighter when she passed, as if they were being caught doing something wrong. Some just looked at her with uninhibited confusion, and it took Kara a long moment to realise why.
She’s Alex. And Alex doesn’t walk around grinning at everyone.
Kara pursed her lips, hoping she was morphing Alex’s face into a neutral expression.
She found Winn exactly where she had left him, still sitting at his desk. From the way he looked up at her as he whirled around in his seat, she was not succeeding in looking nonchalant.
“Hey, whoa,’ he said with a frown. ‘Everything okay?’
What would Alex say? Kara thought, before flatly stating, “I need you to come with me.”
“I didn’t do it, whatever it is…’
“Just be quiet,’ Kara urged, waving a hand, ‘and come. Please?’
Winn frowned, but got to his feet anyway. With a sigh of relief, Kara led him back toward the lab. Luckily, he didn’t ask any questions. Kara didn’t know how she would have answered them anyway.
But when they got back to the lab, she couldn’t see Alex anywhere. Kara felt her panic rise, but instead of letting it spill out, she opened her mouth to call out to her. But she didn’t even get out the first syllable, when she heard a whimper, and the sound of boots crunching on broken glass.
Kara rushed around and saw, on the other side of the bench, her own body couched down on the floor, hands over her ears.
“Kara,’ Winn made to move for her, but Kara grabbed him.
“No, keep back,’ Kara insisted.
Kara ignored him. She dropped down to her knees in front of her sister, and very carefully took her by the wrists.
“Alex,’ she whispered.
Alex flinched, like Kara had shouted. She looked up ever so slightly, her eyes darting around everywhere. Kara didn’t need to ask; she already knew what’s happening.
“I can hear…’ Alex whimpered. ‘… everything…’
“I know, it’s okay,’ Kara took her own face in her hands, ignoring the feeling of how weird the sensation was. Alex eyes, her own eyes, were starting to glow in her panic. ‘I need you to focus on me. Look at me.”
“I can’t…’ her eyes clamped shut. Alex shook her head, blonde curls bouncing everywhere. ‘It hurts…”
“I know, but I need you to focus. Open your eyes, Alex. Look at me.”
“I don’t wanna hurt you…”
“You won’t hurt me. I trust you. You can do this. Open your eyes.”
Alex flinched again. Kara could imagine what she’s hearing: fire engines a mile away, dogs barking on the other side of town, babies screaming and people laughing and bugs crawling along the windowsill…
But slowly, she opened her eyes the tiniest bit. She squinted, and blanched in shock, and Kara was sure she could see right through her, to the tendons in her face muscles.
“Winn, pass me my spare pair of glasses, they’re in the cabinet there.”
Winn was too busy staring at them to answer right away. His eyes were wide open as his mouth as he pointed at them both, putting it all together. “You called her Alex… you’re…
“Right,’ He shook his head of questions and went to rummage through the draws of the cabinet Kara had pointed at.
In no time at all, he was handing her the square-framed spectacles. Kara had spare pairs stashed everywhere, in case she ever needed to change back into Kara at any given moment. But these were different. They were the original pair Jeremiah had given her when she’d first arrived on earth; the frames, like all the pairs she’d owned since, were lined with lead – they had been a godsend when thirteen-year-old Kara had been in his exact same position.
Kara snatched the glasses from Winn, and forced them onto her own face.
“Here,’ she soothed. ‘This will take the edge off.”
It did, almost instantly. When Alex opened her blue eyes again, she let out a little sigh of relief and then opened them completely; the threatening glow of heat vision evaporated.
“Now, focus on me,’ Kara insisted, still holding Alex in place. ‘Ignore everything else. Listen to my voice…”
Alex actually laughed. “My voice.”
“I know it’s hard… this is what I’ve had to listen to for twelve years, I know it hurts…”
Alex laughed again. She threw a hand out to grab onto the bench, but ripped a chunk of it off with a crunch.
As Kara talked to her, saying anything and everything she could think of, slowly, but surely, Alex relaxed. Kara felt her own muscles uncoil, and her breath become more steady, and she kept stroking her hair and murmuring shh under her breath, until finally Alex looked up at her properly. From this, Kara knew she has it under control.
After a long moment, Alex sighed again, looking like she’d just run a marathon. She looked up at Kara in wonder. “You hear that all the time?’
“Not all the time,’ Kara brushed hair out of her face.
“Okay,’ came Winn’s voice. Both sisters looked around at him in surprise; they had forgotten he was there. ‘So… this is really happening, right? You’re Alex? And you’re Kara?’
Alex let Kara help her to her feet. “Winn…’
“This is unbelievable,’ he breathed, looking at both of them in turn with wide eyes.
“Stop oogling us,’ Alex snapped. ‘This is serious.”
“Of course,’ Winn nodded, his expression not changing in the slightest. ‘Completely serious… nothing amazing here…”
Alex clicked her fingers in his face. The force, because of Kara’s uncontrolled strength, made it sound like a whip cracking. Winn and Kara both blinked in shock.
“Sorry,’ Alex muttered, looking down at her hand.
Kara put her hand over her sister’s – over her own – and looked at Winn. “Can you work out what that device does?”
“I think it’s pretty clear what it does, Ale-… er, Kara.”
“We need you,’ Alex said impatiently, ‘to fix it. We need to get back into our own bodies as quickly as possible.”
“Right. Of course. I’ll go run some tests, add the data into the computer… Maybe J’onn can - ...”
“No,’ said Alex firmly. “you can’t tell anyone about this. Not even J’onn.”
Winn looked at them incredulously, then laughed. “You’re not serious.”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?’
“No… and I’ve never seen Kara look like that…’ Winn added, throwing a worried look at Alex’s death glare, ‘but be real! You don’t really think people aren’t going to notice something off about you two?”
“No,’ Alex says flatly, pointing a stern finger, ‘because we’re not leaving this room.”
There was an awkward pause, where Kara and Winn exchanged a glance – and Kara ignored the expression on Winn’s face; he was very clearly still trying to get his head around this, and quell his excitement at the same time – and the same thought passed between them.
Kara reaches out and squeezed Alex’s arm again. The watch, facing inward on her wrist, reflected a glint of fluorescent light into her eye. “Alex, we can’t stay…”
“I can’t go out there,’ Alex insists. Kara reeled at the tone of her own voice, sounding so stern. ‘I cant…’
Alex held her palms up, and frowned down at them, as if they were grotesque.
“But you guys can’t stay in here forever,’ Winn reasoned. ‘People are going to notice when you’ve both gone AWOL.”
She quickly pulled herself together, straightened up and fixed Winn with that look, and Kara can see Alex shining out from underneath her own face.
“I need you,’ she said slowly, steadily, ‘to figure out what the hell happened, and how we can fix this.”
He glanced at both of them again, and then finally Winn nodded, conceding defeat. ‘I can do it. Just… give me some time.” He scooped the device up carefully, as if it were made of glass.
“And for Rao’s sake,’ Kara laughed, ‘don’t hand it to anyone.”
He hurried off, throwing them both one last, excited look over her shoulder.
Kara rolled her eyes, unable to keep the smile from her face. Trust Winn to find something like this so exiting.
Kara turned her attention back to her sister. “He’s right. We can’t just hang out in here forever. What if the DEO needs us? What if there’s an emergency?”
Alex, who’s attention had been elsewhere (probably with the cry of a child or a siren she could hear in the distance) snapped back.
“If you’re suggesting that we send out some sort of company-wide memo explaining this…”
“No,’ Kara shook her head. Alex’s short hair flicked into her eye; she brushed it aside impatiently. ‘We can’t let this get out. We can’t let anyone know that Supergirl… well, isn’t Supergirl.”
Alex’s eyes widened with realization. “Please tell me you’re not suggesting…”
“We can do it!’ Kara insists. ‘Who knows each other better than us? Winn will figure this out, he always does. And until then all we have to do is… is just play the part!”
Kara could already sense it, bubbling under the surface, like a kettle coming to the boil. Alex was biting her lip, already coming up with ten different reasons that explained why this is the most ridiculous thing she’d ever heard.
“Kara,’ Alex groaned in disbelief, ‘no-one is going to buy it. You’re clearly not me, and despite our current situation…’ Alex waved a hand at herself, brandishing the Supergirl costume, ‘… I’m clearly not you. And when I accidently knock a building over…”
“You can do this,’ Kara urges, taking Alex by the shoulders to give her a firm look in the eye. ‘I’ll teach you how. I can show you how to control it.”
Alex pursed her lips. After more words of encouragement, it finally took The Pout to get Alex to laugh. Kara knew it must look weird, seeing The Pout on Alex’s face reflected back at her, but she was pleased to see that its effect was no less diminished. Maybe Alex could see her shining out from underneath too.
“National City still needs Supergirl,’ Kara said finally. ‘And the DEO needs Alex Danvers. We have to play the part until Winn comes through. We have to.”
“Fine,’ Alex finally concedes. ‘But if you’re going to train me, I’m going to train you.”
“What do you mean?’
“Well first of all, stand up straight. You don’t have to hunch… you’re not going to break someone’s arm.”
Kara hadn’t even realised. When she was Kara Danvers: Aspiring Reporter, she always had to try and make herself as minimal as possible. No-one would get too close to Supergirl, but invisible Kara would often get looked over – which was the point, of course, but it also meant that people could accidently get hurt if they bumped into her in the street, or the office.
Kara straightened her shoulders at Alex’s advice, and felt the muscles down her back relax. Alex’s body was clearly used to this posture. Kara already felt better.
Alex grinned at her. “And don’t smile at everyone,’ she adds.
“I don’t smile at everyone...”
“Yes you do, and it’s what makes you such an amazing person… but I’m not like that. I don’t notice every single in the building like you do. I didn’t even know we had a janitor until last week.”
“Harriet is lovely!”
Alex rubbed her eyes. “Why do I always let you talk me into these things? Come on, help me get out of this lab without smashing a window.”