Kara knew now. She should have listened to Clark.
She’d been hesitant to ask his opinion, initially. Partly because she knew the lecture he would give, but mostly because she knew she was going to do it anyway, despite the many convincing arguments she knew he was going to present her with.
But right then, in that moment, as she stared down into the piercing, blue eyes of Lex Luthor, she was mentally kicking herself.
What had she been thinking?
He was dressed completely in white; his jumpsuit not the blinding orange Kara had been expecting. Even his shoes were white. It made his skin look even more pale in comparison; the combination of his snowy jumpsuit, and the fluorescent, overhead lighting washed him out completely. He had dark circles under his eyes, and the light reflected off his shiny, bald head.
Lex was lying back on his bed when they entered, one arm up behind his head, knee drawn up, and clutching and old, battered copy of “A Series of Unfortunate Events’ in his hand.
“Luthor,’ snapped the guard. The jingle of keys, and the rattle of barred doors clattering shut behind them were almost deafening.
Lex didn’t look up, but his eyebrow quirked over the top of his book, and a soft, crooning voice said, “Bishop, you’re back. I missed you. How’s the arm? All healed, one would presume.”
The guard rubbed his elbow. “‘You’ve got visitors.”
This got Lex’s attention. He sat up when he noticed them, and any fatigue he’d been showing vanished instantly.
He stood up in one, swift moment, and began walking slowly toward the glass that separated them.
“Lena,’ he murmured.
Kara felt Lena’s body stiffen beside her. She didn’t look at her; she didn’t want to take her eyes off Lex for a second.
“Lex,’ Lena replied coolly.
Lex’s eyes dragged away from her, and came to rest on Kara, and his expression twitched. “And Supergirl.”
Kara said nothing, just folded her arms over her chest and tried to look as steely as possible.
Judging from the way Lex’s eyebrows rose just the tiniest fraction, he wasn’t buying it for a second.
“You know,’ he said, pointing between the both of them, ‘I heard you two were best buddies now. What was it I read in the Daily Planet? Oh yes, ‘the friendship that is the glue, repairing the cracks in a tumultuous and historic rivalry’,’ he quoted, miming the flow of the sentence with his left hand.
“I’m surprised you still read the Planet,’ Lena said, ‘considering the awful hatchet job they did on you last time.”
“But did they lie?’ he smirked, and shrugged. ‘I admire a publication that sticks with the truth. Besides, without access to my Netflix account, or YouTube, my forms of entertainment are limited. I’ll take any outlet I can get. And next to CatCo magazine, the Planet is the most hilarious thing I can get my hands on.”
Kara clenched her jaw tighter, resisting the urge to snap at him. She was not here for her own benefit. She was here for Lena, plain and simple.
“So,’ Lex began conversationally, as if he were a television talk show host, about to conduct a fluff interview with some random Hollywood celebrity, ‘what brings you here? Not that I’m mot please to see my baby sister. But after the trial, I didn’t think I would be seeing you again for quite a while. Or until at least my fourth life sentence.”
Lena folded her own arms over her chest, and shifted her weight to one heeled foot. “Don’t play dumb, Lex, you’re anything but.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I’m talking,’ Lena snarled, taking a step toward the glass, ‘about the gang that attacked my office, the car that almost rolled my board members off the Miller River bridge, and the bomb in the L-Corp helicopter. Any of these things ringing a bell?’
Kara suppressed a shiver at the memory. All these incidents had happened on the same day, at the same time, and Kara hadn’t been fast enough to get to them all. Despite Alex, Winn, James, J’onn, and Lena all trying to convince her that the three lives lost weren’t her fault, Kara still felt the weight of it all pressing down on her.
It had been all she could do to smother her own feelings down when Lena had come to her two days earlier, asking her to accompany her to confront her brother. Because as bad as she knew she felt, Kara had been able to see from the set of her jaw and the look in her eye, that Lena felt just as horrible.
Lex seemed thoughtful for a moment, before clicking his fingers in mock realisation. “I knew I forgot something - their checks.”
“I wouldn’t bother,’ Lena retorted. ‘Two are in prison and one is dead.”
“Seems I’ll be saving myself quite a bit of money, then.”
“I know your game,’ Lena said impatiently. ‘Trying to make it look like I’m setting all this up for the insurance. Trying to discredit me, because you think the company will be waiting for you to sit right back down the big chair when I’m in there,’ she pointed at the cell, ‘and you’re out here. Well I have news for you. You’re not as smart as you think you are.”
“Lena,’ Lex crooned in a highly patronizing voice, ‘why on earth would I want to do anything of the sort?”
Lena took a small step forward. “I know you’ve been in touch with Mom.”
Lex shrugged and turned away slightly. “She writes. She used to visit, before you put her in jail. Perhaps I should tell her to write to Dad, tell him not to see you for a while, lest you throw him in prison as well.”
Kara felt Lena tense again, and she couldn’t take it anymore.
“We’re tightening security,’ Kara informed him, taking great care not to let her voice shake. ‘You’re not going to have any contact with the outside world for a very long time. You’re not going to be able to hurt anyone else.”
He blinked when he turned his attention to her, like he’d forgotten she was there. Kara straightened up, hoping the movement disguised the shiver that ran down her spine. She felt Lena shift toward her in a small shuffle, but still didn’t look at her.
“It’s like looking into a mirror,’ Lex finally said. His voice hardened as he glanced between them. ‘Lena, I’ve never said this to you before… but you’re a fool. Putting your trust in her…”
“We are not you and Superman,’ Kara retorted. ‘Lena is not you.”
Lex rushed forward suddenly and slammed his fist into the glass. Lena jumped. Kara recoiled a little, not from the sound, but from the look on his face. He looked murderous.
“You think you know her?’ he snarled. ‘I’m her family. I raised her. I made her into who she is. And you, with your eyes always looking everywhere, and your attention anywhere else but where its meant to be… you think you could know anyone like I know her?’
Anger, pride, and determination pushed Kara forward. She leant right in, matching his steely gaze.
“Lena isn’t you,’ she repeated. ‘And maybe you’ve known her longer, and maybe you did raise her, but Lena is an adult who makes her choices, and those choices are the right choices. She’s smart, and brave, and good… and you don’t know her like I know her.”
Lex’s eyes widened just the tiniest of fraction. He straightened up and looked at both of them in turn.
“Oh, Lena,’ he shook his head, actually looking regretful. ‘This is worse than I thought.”
Kara felt Lena’s hand wrap around her forearm. She finally did look at Lena, then; she was frowning, jaw clenched tightly. Her green eyes were trying to convey something to her, but Kara couldn’t understand what it was, until Lena’s grip tightened, and she pulled gently on her arm, indicating for Kara to take a step back.
“Try and do one good thing with your life, Lex,’ Lena said, turning back to her brother, ‘and leave me and the rest of the world alone. You were right. The world does need saving… but not from someone like you.”
“You were the one good thing I did,’ he looked at Lena sympathetically, casting a quick glance at Kara. ‘At least, I thought I did.”
Lena turned on her heel at this and began to walk from the room. Kara gave Lex one last scathing look, before following in her wake.
She heard Lex call, “I’ll tell Mom you said hi, then, will I?’, just as the heavy, steel doors closed behind them.
Lena didn’t say anything the whole way out through the labyrinth of hallways, through reception and security, and all the way out to the limousine that was waiting for her on the street. Kara was hot on her heels the entire way.
As her driver opened the door for her, Kara put a gentle hand on her shoulder to stop her from getting in.
“Are you alright?’ she finally asked.
Getting the hint, Lena’s driver excused himself and rushed back around to get back in the front seat. When the door had shut on him, Lena put a hand on the roof of the car and looked at Kara. Her eyes were brimming with tears.
“I have to make some phone calls,’ she said, her voice croaky. She cleared her throat before continuing. ‘And I’m sure you need to get back to the DEO.”
“Come by the office later,’ she said flatly, ‘if you have time.”
Kara could do nothing but step aside as Lena slid inside the limo and, without another glance, shut the door in Kara’s face.
She watched the limo drive off down the road, and around the corner out of sight, before shooting off into the sky, sirens and screams already filling her ears.
Lena had read the same sentence fifteen times.
She might as well have been reading Arabic. The letters were all jumbled; upside down gibberish. She couldn’t focus, no matter how hard she tried.
With a huff of impatience, Lena pushed her tablet aside and got to her feet. She wanted to kick her heels off; they were only adding to her irritation. She wanted to be in sweats, bare foot, her hair up in that bun at the nape of her neck in that “I don’t care” ensemble that she could plod around her penthouse in. Her skirt felt like it was strangling her around her waist. Her blouse felt itchy, the silky material tickling her skin, setting her teeth on edge.
Lena crossed to the decanter by the window and poured herself a liberal amount of Gin. She needed a drink. She mused that she actually probably needed several, but she was still at work, and after everything that had happened during the week, she would be damned if she’d let herself be seen as incompetent as CEO. And nothing said incompetent like getting drunk during office hours.
The long mouthful burned on the way down, but it was enough to send a blissful buzz through her, calming her nerves for the first time that day.
Lena paced across the floor, back and forth, taking sips here and there and wrapping her knuckles gently against the glass as she walked. It had been hours since she’d left the prison, and still the look on Lex’s face was burned into her mind’s eye so clearly, it was like he were right there in her office with her.
Thank God Kara had been there. Lena was sure that, if she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t have even been able to get out of the car.
Going to see Lex had been the right thing to do, Lena had known this without Kara’s usual pep-talk on what the right thing was. She’d quickly learned, from Kara’s encouragement, to trust her instincts. That she wasn’t like the rest of her family, and that she could rely on her own heart to lead her down the right path.
Things like that were what was making this crushing feeling in her chest constrict even harder; like her ribcage were closing in, squeezing the air from her lungs and clenching around her heart.
“Excuse me, Miss Luthor?’
Lena turned at the sound of Jess’s voice. Her head was poking through the small opening in the double doors to her office; when she saw she had Lena’s attention, she opened the doors completely inward, and Kara walked in behind her.
“Miss Danvers is here to see you.”
“Thank you, Jess.”
With a quick nod and smile, Jess excused herself. But Lena hardly noticed. She watched as Kara let her handbag drop from her shoulder and dumped it onto the couch. Her jacket was navy blue, her tight business pants were cream, and her hair was up in a simple ponytail. As she adjusted her glasses and made her way over, the knot of worry in her brow was just as prevalent as it had been when Lena had said goodbye to her out the front of the prison.
A sudden, almost overwhelming sense of gratitude enveloped Lena. And before she knew it she was crashing into Kara, meeting her in the middle of the room. She wrapped her arms around Kara’s shoulders and squeezed her tightly with a grip that would have been uncomfortable for anyone else.
Kara’s strong arms held her upright; all the emotion she’d been pushing down in the past few days came pouring out as Lena cried softly into the crook of Kara’s neck.
Lena didn’t know how long they stood there like that for. Was it two seconds? Was it three days? All Lena noticed was the feeling of Kara’s hand rubbing her back, and the way she murmured ‘shh’ and ‘I’ve got you’ softly in her ear.
Finally, Lena pulled back. Kara was ready with a small smile, and thumbs to wipe away the tears still rolling down her cheeks.
“Sorry,’ Lena chuckled, and rubbed the edge of Kara’s collar. ‘I made a mess.”
“Don’t be silly. Are you okay?”
Lena blew air out through her lips, leaving the question unanswered. “Thank you for coming with me.”
Kara kissed her, then. It was a ghost of a caress, almost as if she were afraid Lena could break. Lena felt like she’d learned all of Kara’s kisses.
“I know that was hard,’ Kara said. ‘But you did the right thing. He’s just trying to scare you. You needed to show him you’re not afraid of him.”
“I’m not afraid of him,’ Lena echoed determinedly. She stepped away from Kara then, and resumed her pacing. ‘I’m afraid of what he can do.”
She could feel Kara’s eyes on her as she walked back at forth. It was easier not to look at her, but only slightly.
“What’s wrong?’ Kara asked. ‘What’s happened?”
“What does that mean?”
Lena finally stopped pacing. She put her hands on her hips, and forced herself to speak.
“We can’t do this anymore.”
It had been harder to say that she had imagined, and she had imagined it to be pretty painful.
When Kara didn’t say anything, Lena finally glanced at her. Of course she was still listening, her brow furrowed and her arms folded over her chest, looking confused.
Lena crossed over to her, and took a breath to compose herself.
“I’m so glad you came today. Really, I am. I wouldn’t have been able to face him without you. But it was a mistake. I should have known better. I should have listened to my head instead of my…’
She trailed off, and rubbed her eyes.
“Lena,’ Kara began slowly.
She took a step toward her, but Lena held a hand up, urging her to keep her distance.
“He was right,’ Lena continued. ‘He does know me, probably better than anyone. He knows when I’m scared, or sad, or happy, or… when I have particular feelings…’ she sighed and started pacing again. ‘Seeing us together like that… he’ll know now.”
“Lena, you’re just shaken up. You’re not thinking straight. He can’t,’ Kara reasoned. ‘How could he possibly know?’
“He knows me,’ Lena repeated. ‘And it won’t take him long to come to an inevitable conclusion about us.”
Kara rushed forward and took Lena’s hands in hers, putting a stop to her pacing. “Lena… you’re just shaken up. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. He won’t know…”
“He will,’ Lena insisted. ‘He’s be suspicious now. And all he has is time on his hands, to think and to imagine, and to let his mind warp a momentary glance or a touch of the hand into something bigger. And if he thinks for one second that I’m in danger from a Super… from you… well, you saw what lengths my mother went to in the name of “protecting” me. What do you think he will do?”
“He can’t do anything,’ Kara was trying to sound rational but Lena could hear the waver in her voice. ‘He’s in jail, Lena!’
“And look what he did in maximum security!’
Lena looked out the window, biting her lip to keep from crying again. She wanted Kara to talk her out of it. She wanted her to tell her she was being ridiculous, like she was now. But the more rational part of her mind, the part that had been thinking this over for hours since they’d left the prison, was winning, and she knew she was right. This was the right thing to do, no matter how deeply it hurt.
She blinked the few tears out of her eyes, before looking back at Kara.
Kara was frowning at her. “I won’t let him hurt you. I can protect you.”
“You can’t be everywhere at once,’ Lena reasoned. ‘And I won’t let you sacrifice saving innocent lives for the sake of protecting me. I have personal security for that. Besides, I’m not worried about what he’ll do to me. It’s you I’m worried about.”
“You know what he’s capable of. He almost killed your cousin.”
“When he was free, but…”
“He could find out who you are,’ Lena implored. ‘And he can find other ways to hurt you. And I won’t stand for it, Kara. I won’t.”
Kara was the one who began pacing then. Lena just stood there and listened as she ran through strategies, reasoning’s, arguments and pleas, trying to convince Lena that this whole idea was just paranoia. That this was the wrong thing to do. That they could be together, somehow.
But Lena didn’t give her an inch.
“You think I want this?’ Lena asked finally, when Kara had run out of things to say. ‘You think I want to give up the one thing in my life that…”
Kara stepped back over to her, and took her face in her hands, looking back at her with wide eyes and laboured breath, like she’d just run up ten flights of stairs. Kara’s hands were always so warm. Lena covered Kara’s hands with her own, and gazed into her shining blue eyes.
“Don’t do this,’ Kara whispered. ‘Please. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
“Yes,’ Lena murmured. ‘Yes it does.’
Kara released her. The expression on her face, the look of hurt and defeat, caused Lena’s breath to hitch in her chest. She felt like she’d been punched in the gut.
“I don’t get a say in this, then,’ Kara said flatly.
“No,’ Lena actually smirked, despite herself. ‘Because you’ll talk me out of it. And you and I both know this really is the right thing to do.”
“To give in to fear? That’s no way to live, Lena.”
“It’s the only way I know to keep you safe, Kara. You’ve saved my life so many times. Let me save you for once.”
Kara’s expression cracked. Her bottom lip quivered a moment before she could hide it with a squared jaw and a glance out of the window.
Lena felt disgusting. This really wasn’t at all what she wanted. She wanted to be going home with Kara after a long day at work, to be laughing with Kara, to accept the usual invitation to come back to Kara’s apartment to watch movies and eat pizza, to fall asleep next to her as she listened to the slow intake of Kara’s breath.
After a long moment, Kara nodded and began backing toward the door.
“I should go,’ she whispered.
Lena moved toward her, but Kara was too fast, and just like that she was gone, the door swinging shut dully behind her.
The silence in the office was deafening. Lena grit her teeth, and stomped back to her desk. Without sitting down, she jabbed her finger into the intercom.
“Jess, cancel all my appointments for this afternoon. I’m taking the rest of the day.”
Kara brushed the curtains out of her face as she flew in through the window. She landed more heavily than she meant to; her feet touched the floor with a loud thud that caused a cry of surprise from Alex’s couch.
Alex ducked out from under Maggie’s arm, and grabbed up the remote quickly to shut off the TV.
“Kara,’ she smiled.
“Geez,’ Maggie laughed, putting a hand to her chest, ‘give a girl a heart attack, why don’t you.”
Kara stood at the window, and looked at her feet. Their voices seemed to echo, like they were talking to her down the other end of a long tunnel.
When Alex spoke again, she was closer, and her tone was harder with concern.
“Hey, what’s wrong?’
“Nothing,’ Kara looked up. They were both standing now, looking at her with the same expression on worry. ‘Nothing. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here.”
Kara turned back toward the window, coiled and ready to fly off, when she felt something grab the back of her jacket. When she turned around, she was surprised not to see Alex, but Maggie standing right there, jacket gripped tightly in her fist, holding her back.
“What is it with you two,’ said Maggie, ‘and that ‘walking away from your feelings’ thing? Sit down, Kara.”
Alex pointed at the couch, and Kara flopped down heavily.
Maggie nudged Alex softly in the elbow with her own, and then went to get her jacket.
“I’ll let you two talk,’ she said.
Kara was staring at her knees again. But she heard Maggie kiss Alex quickly.
Her attention snapped back to the present when she saw black boots enter her field of vision. Kara looked up just in time to see Maggie lean over her; she pressed a soft kiss to the crown of her head, and gave her shoulder a squeeze, before walking from Alex’s apartment and shutting the door softly behind her.
Alex sat down beside Kara then, and wasted no time in asking, ‘What is it?’
Kara let her head fall back against the cushions. “It’s over.”
“What is? What’s happened?’
Kara explained. She told her about the visit to Lex Luthor (Kara knew it had taken a lot of Alex to bite her tongue about the fact that she’d been to see him without telling her), and she told her that she’d gone to check in on Lena to make sure she was alright, and she told her what Lena had said and done.
She squared her jaw and put a hand over her eyes, trying to crush the overwhelming sense to cry.
Alex was quiet for a long moment. Even though Kara couldn’t see her, she could feel eyes on her.
Kara wondered if she would finally ask. Alex wasn’t an idiot. And Kara knew she wasn’t the subtlest person in the world. Not to mention, Alex knew her better than anyone on the entire planet.
Her relationship with Lena had gone undefined for a very long time, kept behind closed doors for different reasons. Kara had never really confided in Alex much about it, not to its full extent, but had always suspected that Alex hadn’t needed her to – she’d just known anyway.
When Kara felt Alex wrap her arms around her without another word, Kara knew it for sure.
Kara swiped her glasses from her face and melted into Alex’s embrace, letting her tears flow free for the first time.
Lena tore her eyes away from her computer. Jess’s head was poking in through the gap in the doors, looking extremely apprehensive.
For a moment, Lena felt guilty. She’d been in a foul mood all week, and poor Jess had always been the unfortunate one to get the brunt of it. Lena made a mental note to give her a nice big bonus next quarter, just for putting up with her crap, but that didn’t alter the fact that she was annoyed now at being interrupted.
“What is it?’ Lena snapped.
Jess pressed her lips together before answering, ‘There’s a reporter here to speak to you from CatCo.”
Lena sat up straighter. It couldn’t be.
She had about ten seconds between telling Jess to send her in, and when the doors opened again.
Lena got to her feet, her hands shaking. She hadn’t seen, spoken to, or heard from Kara in over a week. It had been a complete cut off. Cold Turkey. Lena hadn’t realised just how much contact they usually had until it had died out. Kara would always send at least three texts during the day, or an e-mail if she were sitting at her desk. She’d pass by the balcony, of either the office or Lena’s penthouse, on the way to save somebody; she’d either wave as she passed, or come in for a bit if she had time.
There was a constant ache in Lena’s gut from how much she missed her. It was bearable when she could distract herself with work, or numb it with a few glasses of wine at the end of the day. But in odd moments it would creep up on her. She’d see a particular, random word in a business proposition and she would hear it in Kara’s voice. Someone would walk into the office wearing a pale blue tie and she would think of Kara’s eyes…
Lena let out a huff, and adjusted the position of the various items on her desk just as the doors opened again.
Jess walked in, accompanied by a slim, young man with auburn hair.
Lena lifted her chin up, hoping to God her impeccable poker face had not let her down now and given away her disappointment.
“Miss Luthor,’ he stepped forward, hand outstretched. ‘I’m Henry Ford, thank you for seeing me on such short notice.”
She returned the handshake, and gestured for him to sit down. One must always remember their manners.
Of course it wasn’t Kara. She was an idiot. If it had been Kara, Jess would have just said so. In fact, Jess wouldn’t have had to say anything – Kara would have just waltzed right on in.
Lena couldn’t help herself. When she sat, she tried to sound nonchalant when she asked, ‘No Kara Danvers today?”
Henry laughed. “Uh, no. Sorry. Kara’s home sick this week.”
It was a lie, Lena knows this. Kara doesn’t get sick.
Unless something serious had happened? What if she’d been poisoned with Kryptonite? What if Lex had gotten to her after all? It had been all quiet after her visit to him; he’d apparently taken her advice to back off – at least for now. But he could be sneaky if he needed to be. What if he had…
“Excuse me,’ Lena got to her feet suddenly, and grabbed her phone. ‘I’ll just be a minute,’
Henry looked puzzled, but didn’t remark as Lena rushed out to the balcony, sliding the door shut firmly behind her.
It was windy out today, but Lena swiped a stray stand of hair away from her face in annoyance and tried to ignore it. She swiped, scrolled and then found the number. It rang for an excruciatingly long time, and then…
Lena couldn’t help the sigh of relief that passed her lips. She put a hand to her forehead and began pacing again.
“Lena, I know you’re there,’ Kara said again, ‘I can hear your heels clicking.”
“I’m sorry,’ Lena said finally, realizing she hadn’t actually said anything. “I was just…’
Lena looked back inside. Henry was picking up the stationary from her desk and examining it.
‘Someone showed up from CatCo today to interview me, and he said you were off sick, and I didn’t know… I thought maybe…”
She felt extremely stupid. The silence down the phone was not doing anything to slow her heartrate.
“I just needed a few days off.’ Kara finally said. ‘I’m fine.”
Kara didn’t sound mad. Her tone wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t warm either. It was just flat. Lena had never heard her voice this way.
Lena bit her lip so hard she was surprised when she didn’t taste blood.
“I’m sorry,’ she said again. ‘I… have to go.”
There was another long pause, so long that Lena wondered if she should just hang up.
Kara cleared her throat. “It was nice to hear your voice.”
Lena turned away from the window, out toward National City beyond the hard edges of her balcony, and wondered if Kara was standing at her window too, trying to see her across the concrete jungle.
“I’m glad you’re okay,’ she said, and then really did hang up, because she couldn’t stand it a second longer.
Henry Ford’s knee was bouncing up and down when Lena returned inside. He smoothed down his tie and sat up straighter, and clicked his pen into life.
“So, Miss Luthor, is now a good time to ask you some questions about your upcoming benefit for Senator Hamilton?”
It wasn’t a good time.
Lena sat down, put her phone away in her desk drawer, and forced a smile onto her face.
“Ask away, Mr. Ford.”
One of the things Kara loved about being Supergirl, was that if she really wanted some time alone, she could always put herself somewhere that ensured that she would not be bothered.
Her need for some space was what had brought her to New York on that particular night.
Well, that and pizza. There was a place in Queens that made this amazing cheeseburger pizza.
The combination of pizza, and the view from the top of the Chrysler Building was more than enough to help her relax.
She was sitting atop the head of one of the large busts of the eagles that jutted out from the side of the building. With her right knee drawn up to her chest, and her left dangling over the edge, Kara chewed happily on her fourth slice of cheesy excellence as she gazed out at the landscape.
It was late – almost ten, now, surely. The skyline was twinkling with the lights of the city that never slept; cars were zooming down streets, people were coming home to apartments, bars and clubs were opening up for the night. The air was cool up there, probably too cold for anyone else, but Kara was relishing it. She’d just been in Los Angeles, saving some kids stuck on a rollercoaster at Six Flags. The heat had been almost suffocating there, and the night breeze was a welcome relief.
Kara knew she could hear everything that the city had to offer, if she chose to. But she hadn’t come up here for a vantage point, she’d come up here for solace.
So she concentrated on listening to the air rushing in her ears, to the ships fog horns in the harbour, the sound of the ocean that whispered and sang as it rolled back and forth against the docks.
I should have brought Lena here.
The thought invaded her consciousness, out of nowhere, and she flinched.
Luckily she didn’t have too much time to worry about the image of Lena sitting next to her, nervous that they were so high up but looking so beautiful with her face lit up with the soft glow of the city below, and the breeze twisting her long, brown hair around her face, because Kara’s phone buzzed.
Inexplicably, for a split second, Kara thought it was going to be Lena. She hadn’t heard from her at all, except for that one phone call out of nowhere almost three weeks ago, and it had been both a blessing a curse.
When she looked at the phone, seeing the call was from Alex, she was relieved and disappointed.
Kara tolerance for these conflicting feelings had grown in the past few weeks, but it still nagged at her.
“Hey, Alex,’ Kara answered.
“Where are you? You haven’t checked in. Did you get to LA in time?”
“Yes, sorry, I just…’ Kara looked around at her immediate surroundings; at the open soda can beside her, the pizza in her lap, the crumbs dusted across the ‘S’ on her chest, ‘… I stopped for food. I was hungry.”
“We need to you to come in. There’s… a situation.”
Kara straightened up at her tone. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah I’m fine, its…’ she hesitated, and then, ‘… it’s at L-Corp.”
Kara didn’t even shut the pizza box, before leaping from the top of the Eagle.
It only took her two minutes and thirteen seconds to arrive back in National City. Kara was going so fast, she actually had to start slowing down well before entering the city so she could control her direction.
When she arrived at the L-Corp building, there were already plenty of police cars surrounding the block. She could see a few DEO vans as well, and when she focused her vision she could see Alex and Maggie together, but back to back, giving orders to their respective teams.
Kara’s earpiece reactivated now that she was back in range. She could hear Alex chatting away now, but ignored her. She did circles of the building, trying to see inside.
“You’re back!’ says Winn suddenly in her ear.
“Where is she? Did she make it out?’
Winn hesitated. “We lost visual. But one of the employees who got out said she was still inside, trying to get everyone out safely.”
Kara felt a warmth spread through her chest, contrasting against the panic for a glorious moment. Of course she was trying to help. She was so good in a crisis.
“Can’t you see her? Use your x-ray vision.”
Kara tried it, and then let out a cry of frustration. “I can’t. It must be made out of lead. The Luthor’s being paranoid, no doubt.”
Winn said something else, but Kara didn’t hear him. She heard a crash; glass broke somewhere.
And then she watched as Lena fell from the twenty second floor.
Kara swooped. There was a rush of wind in her ears, and the city tilted on its axis as she twisted… and then Lena was in her arms.
Her arms wrapped around Kara’s shoulders instinctively. She gripped tightly, and a short cry of surprise broke free from the back of her throat. It took her a moment to realise what had happened, but when she did, she turned to look right at Kara.
Their faces were excruciatingly close. Kara was sure she’d memorized every inch of Lena’s appearance, but had her eyes always been so green?
“Oh,’ Lena gasped. She swallowed hard. Kara could hear her heart hammering away in her chest, the rhythm matching her own. ‘You’re late.”
Kara couldn’t help it – she laughed.
“Really? I thought I was just in time.”
Sense seemed to come back to her like a whip. Lena blinked out of her stupor and shook Kara’s shoulders.
“Put me down. They’re still inside.”
Kara did as she asked. She set Lena down with Alex, and shot back up into the building through the cracked, jagged glass Lena had been thrown out of.
It didn’t take much to subdue them. They were just four punks with big ambitions and small plans, armed with alien weapons they had bought off the alien black market that they only had half an idea of how to use.
Five minutes later, Kara had them all by the scruff of the neck. When she leapt from the window, they cried out and squirmed in fear, and Kara would be lying if she said their terror hadn’t given her a surge of satisfaction. Karma, as the people earth so eloquently put it, was definitely a bitch.
Kara landed and threw them all down at Lena’s feet.
Lena – hair in a bun at the nape of her neck, pearl necklace, tight dress and heels – folded her arms over her chest, raised an eyebrow and her chin at the same time, and glared down at the thugs. Kara didn’t know what they were feeling, but she knew that for a moment, she was more than intimidated enough for all four of them put together.
Alex grabbed Kara by the elbow then, pulling her attention away just as Maggie and the rest of the NCPD swooped in to cuff wrists and read Miranda rights.
“Are you okay?’
Kara knew it had a double meaning. She nodded just the same.
“Agent Danvers,’ J’onn’s voice spoke sharply in both their ears, ‘is the everything under control?”
“Yes, sir,’ Alex nodded, forgetting J’onn couldn’t see her.
“I need you both to come in, we have another situation.”
Alex responded quickly, already gesturing to her team to pull out of the scene. Kara looked around over her shoulder.
Lena was giving her statement to Maggie. She didn’t look around at Kara.
Kara was glad. If she had, she was sure lifting off the ground again would have been much harder.
Later on, after Kara and Alex and Winn had successfully taken down a gang of Malteins who were trying to steal Plutonium from the nuclear plant, Kara was in the locker room, leaning against her locker and listening as Alex told her that the thugs who had infiltrated L-Corp weren’t actually working for Lex, but were part of a rebel group who were trying to make a statement against Lena’s support of Senator Hamilton.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket, and she pulled it out to read the text.
It was from Lena.
Kara smiled to herself. She imagined Lena, phone cradled in her hands, writing and erasing and re-writing over and over again while trying to decide not just what to send, but whether or not she should send it at all. Because she didn’t want to cross the line, but she always had to use her manners.
Kara wanted to write lots of different things in reply, and she wanted to lock her phone again and write nothing at all. She replied with just a thumbs up emoji, but immediately decided against it.
I will always catch you, she finally wrote. That doesn’t change.
Lena didn’t reply. Kara tried to pretend she didn’t care.
Not many people knew this about her, but Lena loved The Golden Girls.
Like, legitimately loved it.
She’d watched every single episode, of every season, over and over again, and it never failed to make her laugh. She wasn’t entirely sure what it was about it that she loved so much, but it tickled her funny bone like nothing else. It was usually on in the background when she was going over paperwork on her couch. She settled into the cushions with a martini and cheese platter and put it on after a long, hard day.
On this particular night, it was a combination of both.
The cheese platter was sitting on the coffee table, half eaten, amongst an away of papers and folders. Most of it was just business plans, financial statements, and things that needed her signature. But she always insisted on reading everything before she signed it – a habit her father had instilled in her. Aside from that, it was planning details for the upcoming benefit for Senator Hamilton.
It had caused a bit of controversy in certain circles. The attack on her building three weeks ago was evidence of that. It hadn’t been the only incident, but it was (she was glad of, in a weird way, because not many people would feel thankful about anything after being shoved out of a window) the most serious it had gotten. Mostly it was just phone calls which had been screened, and mail which had been collected for evidence as per the instructions of NCPD.
Lena wasn’t surprised by this backlash. Senator Hamilton was pushing some pretty radical policies for the small minded, traditional minds of National City. His bill to support Human-Alien marriage, and his intention to create a school specifically for alien refugees who wanted to learn more about Earth ways in order to fit in, were the two most controversial.
But Lena supported these, and his other movements. He was trying to do the right thing, and so was she – in more than one aspect of her life. So she’d decided to throw him this benefit, to give him another platform to promote himself.
She could only imagine what her mother would have said.
The thought actually amused her. She looked up just in time to see Blanche yell at Rose; she joined in with the audience’s laughter, and decided to get herself another glass of wine.
Lena had decided to take the day off tomorrow. She could afford a third glass.
After pouring another not-so-modest glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Lena started back to the couch, but stopped short when something out the window caught her eye.
She almost dropped her glass.
When she stepped out onto the balcony, Kara didn’t look at her. Her eyes were transfixed on the city beyond. Lena didn’t press her for an answer as to why she was there. She’d seen that expression on her face enough to know what was going on in her head.
“Sorry,’ Kara finally said, and leaned her elbows against the edge of the balcony. ‘I shouldn’t be here.”
Lena let her eyes roam; over the red cape that draped down her back, her blonde hair that fell in soft waves over her shoulders, the hunch in her posture, her hands balled into fists…
“Do you want to talk about it?’ Lena asked.
Kara pursed her lips, and her eyes shifted downward. ‘Alex got hurt.”
Lena’s chest constricted. She was concerned for Alex’s welfare, for Kara’s emotional wellbeing, and all the while resisted the old familiar instinct to just hug her and tell her everything is going to be fine.
“She’s okay,’ Kara elaborated. ‘She’s at the DEO, sleeping it off, but… I wasn’t quick enough, and I didn’t see, and… if anything had happened…”
After another quick sip of her wine, for courage, Lena took another step toward her.
“Do you want to come inside?’ she asked. ‘I still have that box of Oreos you left here.”
Kara looked around at this. “That was almost two months ago.”
Lena shrugged. Kara knew perfectly well that Lena tried to avoid cookies, due to her inability to stop eating them once she’d started. Kara just didn’t know how anyone could let food go uneaten for more than two days.
Kara pursed her lips, and Lena took her silence into her own hands. She opened the door, and gestured inside. Kara sighed, wiped her eyes, and went in.
The box was empty within two minutes. Lena sat on one end of the couch, signing papers with a flourish and writing emails; Kara sat at the other end, cape curled around her like a blanket and red boots kicked off on the floor beside her, sunken into the couch with her head back, giggling very sparingly at the TV.
Lena finished just after 1am, and when she looked over at Kara, the blonde was fast asleep.
She covered her with the mink blanket before setting off to her own bedroom, too tired to think too much about the situation. When she lay down on the bed, she went automatically to the left, because she knew Kara always liked to be on the side closest to the window, in case she needed to get up to work in the middle of the night.
When she woke up the next morning, the space beside her was just as empty as it had been when the night before, and Lena scolded herself for being so much of an idiot as to believe that Kara would have been there when she woke up. Kara was far too polite.
When Lena padded out into the living room, Kara was gone. The blanket was folded neatly at the end of the couch.
“I don’t want to go,’
Snapper looked up at Kara, the scowl already pressing his mouth downward. When he opened his mouth to talk, it only became more prominent.
“You’ll go where I tell you to go, Danvers.”
Kara folded her arms over her chest.
“Ah yes,’ Snapper rolled his eyes and looked back down at his paperwork, ‘and there’s ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ pose. Well you know what? I can tell you what to do. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m your boss. And if you want to go run to Jimmy Olsen to get him to overrule me, go ahead. But I doubt you’re going to come up with a good enough excuse to argue your way out of this.”
“I…’ Kara huffed. ‘It’s not… I don’t…”
“Why don’t you just do us all a favour, and save us a lot of time and effort, and get the hell down to City Hall like I told you.”
Kara felt her eyes heating up. It would be so easy to set the entire contents of his desk on fire.
With one final huff, she turned on her heel and stormed from the office.
“And hurry,’ Snapper called after her. ‘It’s starting soon!”
Great. Just great.
Kara went up to the roof, and leapt. She smothered to temptation to just fly as far away as she could. Maybe Australia? She could pet Koala’s. She could try Vegemite. She could go surfing. Not that she knew how, but she could try.
City Hall was already packed with press when she arrived. News vans, cameras, reporters, paparazzi, were all cramming on the steps, trying to get front and centre. But Kara was skinny and fast enough to be able to slip through all the jostling bodies, and was soon near the front.
She didn’t want to be seen, but she also didn’t want to miss out. As much as she didn’t want to be there, she did actually want to do her job properly.
Kara only just managed to pull her phone out of her bag and open the voice recorder app, when everyone suddenly pushed forward. The large, oak doors to City Hall opened, and everyone was lead indoors to the conference room. There were many seats set up in front of the podium, and there was a mad rush for everyone to get to the front.
Like before, Kara hung back a little, choosing a seat in the fourth row, off to the side where she hoped she could be out of the line of sight.
It didn’t take long for the doors to the adjacent office to open, and then at once everyone suddenly stood up in a rush. The sound of chairs scraping, feet stomping and people stood was almost deafening. Cameras were flashing, illumination Senator Hamilton and the rest of his associates as they walked out onto the stage.
Kara barely saw them. All she could see was Lena.
She was dressed impeccably as always. But there was something about her today. It was her white blouse, that was revealing just the right about of neck and collarbone and cleavage… and her high-waisted skirt, that hugged her hips and the soft swell of her belly… and her calf muscles, that flexed with every straight-backed, confident stride she took in those ridiculous heels… and her lips, looking fuller than usual, painted in that deep red…
Kara swallowed hard. Images of when she’d had those legs wrapped around her, of when she’d gripped those hips tightly with her fingertips, of when she’d had those lips pressed to the base of her throat or the inside of her thigh, suddenly sped through her mind as quickly as the cameras that flashed around her. Kara was glad when they were all told with a firm hand gesture from Senator Hamilton, who had stood up the podium to speak, to sit back down.
It had been a few weeks now since she’d fallen asleep on Lena’s couch. She hadn’t expected to stay the night. And when she’d woken up and realized, she’d of course left straight away. But she’d been lying if she hadn’t hovered by Lena’s closed bedroom door, and had just the tiniest of peeks through the wood. Lena was beautiful awake, and just a beautiful when she slept. But they weren’t together anymore, and it wasn’t appropriate to just walk in and climb into bed beside her like it used to be, so Kara had left.
She hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since.
But she hadn’t seen her, or heard from her, like they had unconsciously agreed would be best, so it had been manageable – until now.
Kara wasn’t sure why it was happening; why her mouth had gone dry, and her stomach clenched. She remembered this feeling, and more than anything it made her annoyed. This was certainly not the time…
She didn’t even get a chance to ask any questions. Snapper was going to kill her, but she didn’t care. She’d told him she did not want this assignment; it really was his own fault. Kara just held her phone up and recorded all the questions put out there by other reporters, and the answer Senator Hamilton and his associates gave. She would write her report later, and that would be the end of it.
The only problem with this, however, was that this method meant that she didn’t really have to listen. So her eyes could wander from the podium.
And they seemed to have only one direction in mind.
Kara tried. She really did. But Lena was standing there, just back from the podium a little, hands clasped in front of her and looking so sure of herself, with a straight back and chin in the air, and it was almost impossible not to look at her.
And when Lena started getting questions from the press, Senator Hamilton beckoned her forward so she could speak into the microphone, and then it definitely became impossible not to look at her.
“Yes,’ Lena answered, ‘this is a cause I believe in.”
“Some might have a hard time believing this,’ a woman countered at the front, her notepad already full of notes.
Lena’s nostrils flared, but she smiled politely down at her. “Because I’m a Luthor?”
“We all know the history of Luthor’s with beings not of this world,’ the woman continued. ‘What, with your brother and his infamous rivalry with Superman, and your mother being the head of CADMUS…”
“They were wrong,’ Lena cut her off firmly. ‘And I am not Lex, nor my mother. I think I have done more than enough in the six months I have lived here, and contributed to this city and its wellbeing, to have earned enough credit.”
“Is this all this is?’ another journalist asked. ‘Your support of Senator Hamilton – is it just a ploy to gain more popularity?’
Lena’s jaw clenched. Kara knew that look. When Lena spoke again, she was impressed at how level her tone was, not betraying her anger at all.
“What’s done is done, and I can’t change it. Believe me, sometimes I really wish I could. All I can do is walk my own path, and be my own person who makes her own choices. All I am interested in, is doing the right thing. And I am supporting Senator Hamilton because it is the right thing to do. His policies, his vision, and the call for change that will take us into a more open, equal and accepting future, are something that I want to support.”
Lena’s eyes roamed the room; she was looking at everyone determined to see that they all understood (and were writing down) every word she said.
Then her eyes fell on Kara, and Kara shivered.
Their gaze lingered for what was probably too long. Kara was the first to look away; she blinked and looked down at her lap. She knew she must have looked ridiculous – blushing with her arm still in the air, recording nothing because the room had gone silent. But when she looked up again, Lena was still looking, and there was a blush to her cheeks that matched the shade Kara knew must have been across her own.
“We all need to do what we think is right,’ Lena finally said, eyes still locked on Kara.
“Do you have any personal stake in these proposed policies?’ the first woman asked.
Lena blinked, and glanced down at the woman, as if she’d forgotten anyone was still in the room.
“I’m sorry, I don’t take your meaning.”
“Well, as famous as the relationship between your brother and Superman is, I think it’s fair to say that most people find your relationship with Supergirl just as intriguing.”
Lena straightened even more, and Kara could see she the anxiety pull at the corners of her mouth as she pursed her lips, taking a moment before answering.
“Supergirl and I have a working, professional relationship. And we are both committed to working together to not just make National City a better place, but to repair the damage our families have inflicted upon one another. And yes, I have gotten to know her over these past few months. She’s everything you think she is – brave, honest, kind, compassionate – and I feel that she should have the same rights as anyone else in this city. She’s done enough to deserve our love and respect. The least we can do is show her that.”
Lena stepped aside then, resuming her place behind the Senator. She didn’t look back at Kara again.
Senator Hamilton stepped up to the podium again. “Any further questions?”
Dozens of hands went in the air, and a dozen more voices cried out.
After the press conference was over, Kara packed her things away and tried to get ahead of the crowd again. She needed to get out of there. She needed to talk to Alex.
But the mass of bodies was packed tight; too many people trying to squeeze out of the exit, all in just as much of a hurry to get back to their respective offices and write their own stories. Kara didn’t want to force her way through, in case she accidentally hurt someone. And she couldn’t speed around them; someone would have seen.
So she had no choice. With a sigh, Kara just stood back, arms folded over her chest, and waited.
Then she caught a whiff of a familiar perfume, and she looked around.
Kara’s whole body tensed. Lena was beside her, looking at her with an expression that suggested she had a stomach ache.
“Sorry,’ Kara said automatically.
Lena said nothing. She just took Kara’s hand, and began leading her back toward the adjacent meeting room she and Senator Hamilton had been in earlier.
“I tried,’ Kara continued, still trailing along behind Lena, ignoring the feeling of her hand in hers. ‘But Snapper… he’s insistent…”
The meeting room was empty; the Senator and the rest of his associates were all out the front, shaking hands and making good with the rest of the press. It was a comfortable room, with luxurious couches and a coffee table laden with half-eaten snacks, empty cups of coffee, and crumpled up napkins. There were tall, handsome bookshelves that housed important looking tomes, paintings of old Mayors going all the way back to when National City was first build, and even a fireplace that was not lit, but when it was alive and crackling must have looked very impressive.
Kara saw all of this only in a moment, before the door shut behind her, and Lena had her pressed up against the wall.
The kiss was almost desperate. Lena’s hands were inside Kara’s jacket instantly, grabbing at her waist, her fingers digging into her hips. The swirling feeling in Kara’s stomach was back tenfold as Lena kissed her, pressed her harder up against the wall, and Kara could do nothing but melt and sigh in relief.
She’d missed this. She’d missed Lena. She’d missed the sweet smell of her perfume, the feel of her against her, the way their bodies fit together; the way Lena’s kisses, even the simplest ones, could make her feel like she was being transformed into molten lava; the way she could never make up her mind where she wanted to put her hands first, so they always seemed to move around everywhere, trying to touch all of Kara at once…
Kara took Lena’s face in her hands, trying to pull her closer. Lena obliged, pressing herself in with enthusiasm, and Kara sighed again into Lena’s mouth. Lena’s breath hitched as Kara’s grip on her tightened ever so slightly.
It was over just as quickly as it had started. Lena broke the kiss with a soft gasp, but did not move away. She pressed her forehead against Kara’s; she was breathing hard. Kara looked down at watched the rise and fall of her chest; glanced at Lena’s bottom lip as she reached up and stroked away the smudged lipstick at the corner of Lena’s mouth.
“I’m sorry,’ Lena said. She kissed the tip of Kara’s thumb on the last syllable.
Kara sighed, feeling momentarily irritated. She was sick of them having to apologize to each other all the time, just for doing what felt so natural.
“You call this,’ Kara finally said, ‘a professional relationship? Makes me wonder just what exactly Jess’s Christmas bonuses have been all this time.”
Lena pinched her playfully. Kara laughed and squirmed, even though they both knew it hadn’t hurt her in the slightest.
“I thought I told you not to wear this shirt around me ever again,’ Lena smirked, tugging on Kara’s sleeve.
Kara looked down at herself. She’d never known what it was about that particular shirt that always got Lena so worked up. It was just a plain, red shirt. Whenever Kara had asked her to explain it in the past, Lena had always been too busy trying to take it off to even get one word out.
“I wasn’t planning on being here.”
Lena’s eyes were always such a beautiful shade of green, especially up close – bright green, like Kryptonite. Kara almost laughed at the irony.
At Kara’s words, Lena leant back a little, but still did not release her.
“No,’ Lena’s gaze ran over Kara’s face, across her chest, down to where their bodies were pressed together, ‘neither was I.”
“You know,’ Kara began lightly, ‘it’s been four months now, and… well, nothing’s actually happened…”
Lena finally stepped away, and Kara was glad she was against the wall – it was the only thing still holding her up.
She was pacing again. “We can’t, Kara.”
Kara stepped in front of Lena, blocking her path, getting her attention back.
“Well I can’t do this,’ Kara insisted, knowing The Crinkle was back but, in her irritation, not caring in the slightest. ‘You can’t just grab me like that and kiss me like that, and then try and shut me back out again two seconds later.”
“It’s not fair.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
Kara exhaled slowly, her nostrils flaring. Lena was looking everywhere but at her.
‘I miss you too much, Lena.’ Kara finally said. ‘It’s like this constant ache in my stomach. And I’ve tried… believe me, I’ve tried… to smother it, to eat it away, to punch it out, but nothing has worked. I can’t keep going on like this.”
“You think I don’t know how it feels?’ Lena asked. ‘I feel it, too. Sometimes I miss you so much I can barely breathe. But its soothed because I know you will be safe. That fact is the only thing that keeps holding me together.”
Kara took her hands. She felt the moment of reluctance from Lena, but her resistance only last for a split second before she linked her fingers through Kara’s.
“This isn’t working. I thought I could stay away from you but I can’t. We need to find some sort of compromise. Can’t we just go back to the way things were before?’ she asked gently. ‘Before… us. Can’t we just try being friends again?’
It took Lena a long time to answer. She just stared down at their linked hands for what seems an eternity, before she finally glances up, and Kara feels relief to see the ghost of a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.
“I would like that,’ she said at last.
After they hugged, and held each other for the longest time, Lena stroked Kara’s face gently and left the room first. The silence she left behind was deafening; Kara could almost hear her own heart banging away behind her rib cage.
Sense came back to her in a rush, and all too soon Kara had her bag slung back over her shoulder and was headed for the roof, ready to fly back across town.
Now she really needed to talk to Alex.
Deciding to be friends again, Lena learned very quickly, was both a blessing and a curse.
It was like finally exhaling, after holding her breath for so long. The relief was immeasurable. It almost felt like the last few months hadn’t even happened; like it had all been a bad dream. Kara and Lena fell easily back into their old routine – the old, old routine, that is; back when “friends” was all they had ever been, and Lena actually began to believe that maybe they could do this after all.
Kara’s generally cheery disposition, her beaming smile, her unwavering faith in in people – including Lena – had been just some of the things that she had dearly missed. She hadn’t truly appreciated just how much on an impact Kara had on her day to day life, until she’d had to give her up. And now that she had it back again, she knew there was no way she would be able to go without it ever again.
The blessing was that she no longer felt that constant ache in her chest. She didn’t feel so alone anymore, just because of the fact that she knew now it was okay to text Kara during the day, or invite her out for a drink after work, or send her random emails at CatCo, asking how her day was going. Lena hadn’t realised how much she’d missed these simple things until now. It felt so good to just have her best friend back.
The curse was that, of course, she wanted Kara back completely.
And ninety percent of the time, this impulse was manageable.
Like when they went out for dinner together, after Lena finally managed to convince Kara that it was fine to take her to the Michelin star restaurant because it was her shout, and Kara didn’t need to worry about a thing; or when Kara began inviting her over to her apartment again for “Pizza, Potsticker and Popcorn nights” with blankets, movies and laughter; or when Kara would land on her balcony (at work or at her penthouse) either on the way to, or home from work, just for a moment to say hello, or to give her a case of beer she’d picked up in Germany, or a handful of rocks she’d found on top of a mountain in the Andes, or a shell or piece of coral she found on the beach in Vanuatu, because she knew Lena loved that stuff.
But there were times, the remaining ten percent, where it was less manageable.
Like when Kara had sat down on the couch next to her and, seemingly without even thinking, put her feet up on Lena’s lap, and Lena just as unconsciously put her hands on Kara’s thigh, and then the next thing they knew Lena had Kara underneath her with lips on her neck and hands in her hair.
Or when Lena had been in her kitchen, opening a bottle of red for them to enjoy with their cheese platter, and Kara had sidled in behind her, saying something about Lena’s biceps as her nose nuzzled her neck, and her hands splayed over her belly, and the next thing Lena knew her back was against the granite benchtop and Kara was everywhere with a touch that walked that delightful line between not too hard but just hard enough, and whispering words that still made Lena blush.
Or like right now, as Lena watched Kara work out.
It wasn’t like any sort of exercise regime she’d ever witnessed. But then, Kara wasn’t like anyone she’d ever known before.
Lena had shown up at Kara’s apartment half an hour earlier with a large bag of chips and a giant bottle of soda, ready to continue their 30 Rock marathon like they had originally planned
Kara had opened the door, already dressed in work out gear and putting her hair up in her high pony.
“You forgot,’ Lena had observed, feeling amused and flustered at the view she was being afforded of Kara’s bare midriff.
“I did,’ Kara had winced. ‘I’m sorry, I had a horrible day, I was just going to let off some steam…”
“Say no more.”
“Unless…’ Kara had called as Lena had begun to leave, ‘you want to come with me?”
Which is how Lena now found herself sitting on the hood of a particularly large range rover, her heels kicked off leaving her barefoot, eating chips and watching Kara bench press a tank.
They were in a warehouse just outside of the city; a building that the DEO apparently owned to store their old cruisers and vans and the like, and other vehicles that needed repairs. They also gave Kara special clearance to go there whenever she wanted and punch the hell out of the old cars they didn’t need anymore.
And so she had. Kara had already strung one car up and used it as a punching bag. She’d also strung two up with very thick chains, and used them to work out her biceps and triceps.
And now she was on her back, pushing this tank up into the air with little grunts and huffs of exhaustion, and Lena tried not to get caught up on the sight of Kara’s muscles flexing, or the sheen of sweat that glistened against her skin, or the way her stomach tightened with every rep.
Lena distracted herself by looking into the bag of chips long enough to hear Kara let out one final grunt, before there was a loud thump. When Lena glanced back up, the tank was back in place on the ground, and Kara had her back to Lena.
She was stretching.
Kara stretched her biceps twisted her hips, reached behind her and pushed down on her elbow, and all the while Lena stared at the tight, corded muscles of her back, feeling dazed.
“Oh,’ Kara let out a long, satisfied sigh. ‘No problem is ever so stressful that it can’t be solved with a good workout. Well, no that’s not anywhere near true, but I do feel loads better. Sometimes you just need to punch something, you know? Hey, have you ever tried Zumba? I know it looks a bit corny but dancing is really fumphhh-….”
Lena could taste sweat on Kara’s lips, but she didn’t care. She could feel the heat coming off Kara’s body as she wrapped her arms around her; she was so warm as their bodies pressed together, it was like stepping inside a sauna.
“Whoa,’ Kara blinked, looking dazed when Lena broke away. ‘Uh, Lena…”
Lena kissed her again, and that was the end of Kara’s argument.
Clearly, Lena mused later, she needed to let off some steam too.
Kara smiled in thanks as Alex slid her her beer across the table.
“Do you want to talk about it?’ Alex asked.
“Talk about what?’
Alex raised her eyebrows.
Kara sighed and rubbed her forehead. She wanted to take her glasses off, and press the heels of her hands into her eyeballs until she saw stars. Somehow that sensation always made her feel a little better. But no-one at the alien bar knew she was Supergirl, and she didn’t fancy them finding out – at least not that way.
She took a long sip of her beer before saying, ‘We’re just friends.”
Alex snorted into her own longneck. “I’ve heard that before.”
“Really, that’s all.”
“Heard that before, too.”
Alex smiled and patted Kara gently on the hand. “I’m just teasing. But I know there’s more to it than that, even if you don’t want to tell me. And you don’t have to tell me, it’s your business and I trust your judgement. I just thought you might like to.”
“We’re friends,’ Kara repeated, knowing it was a complete lie. Friends certainly didn’t do half the things she and Lena had done in the past two weeks. ‘And that’s fine. It’s better than nothing. Anything is better than nothing.”
Alex sniffed in amusement, but didn’t comment beyond this, instead choosing to take a drink instead.
Kara should have told her. She should have told her how good it felt to have Lena back, but how it still wasn’t the same no matter how hard they tried; how she could feel Lena still keeping her at arm’s length, because she still felt like that was the right thing to do, and how could Kara argue with her when she was trying so hard just to do the right thing? Alex would have known the right thing to say to this. She would have said something about feelings, and how Kara’s instincts were usually right, and how maybe she should have been talking about this with Lena instead of her, because nothing was worse for a relationship than not communicating. Or maybe she would have just hugged Kara tightly, in a grip that would have made anyone else feel uncomfortable, and made the whole world disappear.
Kara took another sip of her beer, and resolved to share her feelings with Alex, satisfied to have either potential outcome. But then James showed up, looking sore and tired from whatever shenanigans Guardian had gotten into, with Winn trailing along behind him, and Mon-El appeared with a towel over his shoulder, ready for their drink requests, and the opportunity was lost.
James took his pint of water gratefully, and Alex waited for him to drink his fill before inquiring into how his night had been. James let out a long sigh before clapping Winn hard on the shoulder (who winced, and tried very poorly to hide the fact) and raining praise down on him for “saving my butt from getting pummeled into the pavement”.
“Your shield does all the work,’ Winn muttered into his glass, looking bashful but proud.
“My shield isn’t my second pair of eyes,’ James argued. ‘If you hadn’t told me about that third guy on the roof, I’d be in the emergency room right now instead of him.”
“What did you do to him?’ Alex asked, looking scandalized.
To their surprise, James and Winn laughed.
“He only threw his shield up at him,’ Winn chuckled, ‘and the guy was stupid and tried to catch it, so he fell off the roof.”
Alex put her head in her hands and laughed, her shoulders shaking. Winn snorted, and James just kept taking long sips of his water, unable to hide his smirk.
Kara smiled at all of them, feeling suddenly wistful. She had missed this, too. With everything that had gone on with Lena, she had kind of withdrawn from everyone but Alex. Sitting with them now like the old days, was just as good as one of those all-encompassing hugs from Alex – it made the rest of the world disappear.
But then she looked at the television.
The headline flashed beneath a familiar face, and Kara was on her feet before she even realized what was happening. She heard Alex say her name, but barely realized it was aimed at her. Kara rushed over to the TV, and stood right in front of it, feeling shock flood her body.
Lex Luthor Found Dead.
Kara had her phone out instantly. There was already a text from Lena.
I have to go to the prison.
Her fingers moved so quickly the phone didn’t respond properly, and Kara had to force herself to calm down as she erased and tried again.
Do you need me to come?
Alex was beside her by then, also frowning at the television, her own phone in her hand with J’onn’s number already being dialled.
No, was all Lena’s reply said.
“She’s going to need to later,’ Alex said. ‘Let her sort it out.”
If anyone else had suggested it, Kara wouldn’t have listened. As Alex turned away to talk to J’onn, Kara replied:
Call me if you need me.
It was a media shitstorm.
Lena could barely remember what happened that night. She remembered odd things, like the rings the security guard at the visitor’s entrance wore as he scanned Lena with the metal detector; the way the linoleum felt under her trainers, because she hadn’t had the time or the sense to get dressed properly when she’d received the phone call; the ticking sounds the florescent lighting in the morgue made as it flickered…
Seeing Lex’s body on the slab was one of the most surreal moments of her life. Maybe, she mused later after two large glasses of Vodka, that was why she could only remember bits and pieces of it. It was like her mind had just said no, and that was that. Nothing about it was real, therefore it wasn’t worth retaining.
Lena did remember the way his skin felt as she took his hand, and how he looked so peaceful, even with the seven stab wounds in his chest and gut.
It had been an inside job; the Warden had told her over Lex’s body. He was being moved, and one of the inmates who worked in the max security – who it had now been discovered was apparently an old employee of some company Lex had taken over, and had scores to settle and nothing left to lose – rushed at him with a broom handle he’d snapped in half seconds before. The inmate had never caused any trouble before, he was thought of as a model prisoner, so the guards had been complacent and not reacted quick enough. Lex had bled out right there on the floor.
Lena had felt nothing but rage. Lex Luthor, possibly the brightest mind in the entire world, killed by a broom handle at the hands of some desperate asshole with a grudge?
Even thinking about it now, a week later as she stood by the open grave, Lena’s whole body was shaking.
Her hands were clenched; the funeral program was obliterated in her left fist, while her right hand tapped rapidly against her leg. Even though the rain had held out, the day was cold and miserable; it matched Lena’s mood. There weren’t many people here now. The church had been full of bodies, most of them politicians and reporters. But this was more intimate; the press had finally stopped taking photographs and left her in peace to bury her brother.
The only people left now, here at the cemetery, were people who were there for Lena. Of course they were. No-one was there for Lex.
A few of her employees had stayed behind, including the ever faithful Jess. Lena pushed down her suspicion that they were there just to put on a good face, not because they really cared. They kept glancing at her with those looks – lips caught between teeth, eyebrows knotted together in sympathy, lips pursed – while shuffling around awkwardly on the sidelines, not know what to say, or if it were even appropriate to come up at all.
After the priest finished, and Lena sprinkled her handful of dirt atop the wooden coffin, Lena turned away and didn’t look back. A few people came up to her and shook her hand, offering condolences and words of support, but it was all white noise. Lena nodded and smiled in thanks, not forgetting her manners, but feeling nothing as she did so.
When she began to head back to the car, was when she saw two people she hadn’t seen earlier.
Kara was there, dressed in the respectful black. Next to her, to Lena’s confusion, was Clark Kent.
They were standing back, present but also out of the way. When Kara saw that Lena had finally spotted her, she patted Clark (who had been staring at the grave) on the shoulder, and then made their way over.
Lena felt numb as Kara said nothing, just pulled her in for a hug. It was the first time Lena had felt warm in days.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Luthor,’ Clark said, extending a hand.
Lena shook it. He was just as warm as Kara was.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Kent. I must say I’m surprised to see you here.”
“I hope my presence doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable,’ Clark looked back at Lex’s coffin. ‘I just… wanted to pay my last respects.”
Lena assured him he could do whatever he wanted, in the nicest way possible. And after giving her his condolences once more, he gave Kara’s shoulder a quick squeeze before walking back toward the grave.
“I don’t know what to say,’ Kara admitted.
Lena almost laughed. “What is there to say? He’s gone.”
Kara’s arm twitched, like she wanted to pull Lena back into her arms again. Lena was sure that, if Kara had, she would have put up no resistance. She didn’t have the energy. And after days of feeling hollow, Kara’s warmth was something she could have desperately used.
“I suppose you heard they’re accusing me of killing him,’ Lena said instead.
“Don’t listen to that crap,’ Kara insisted softly. ‘It’s just gossip tripe, looking to make a few quick dollars. Everyone knows you had nothing to do with this.”
Lena’s entire being resisted these words. She’d spent so long wishing for Lex to just be gone, just so she could be with Kara, because life would have been so much easier with him out of the way. And now here she was, fifteen feet away from his grave. It was like she had wished this into being.
Lena felt guilt churn in her stomach.
“Do you want me to come over later?’ Kara asked.
“No,’ Lena began backing away. ‘I… need time. Please.”
She didn’t let Kara get any further than a nod. Lena almost ran back to the limo, and didn’t look back until the door was shut and she was hidden behind the dark tint of the windows.
Kara, who had watched her go, finally turned and walked back over to Clark Kent. He was still standing by the grave, hands in his pockets and broad shoulders hunched. She put a hand on his shoulder, and he covered her hand with his.
As the car pulled away, Lena wished she’d just told Kara yes.
Are you okay?
It was the tenth message like this she’d sent. Kara had kept her distance, like Lena had asked, (even though it killed her) but was resolute to keep asking until she got an answer. She knew how Lena worked. Sending these messages would not be deemed annoying, they would keep Lena present.
Lena had returned to L-Corp after a week of seclusion. That was almost two weeks ago now. The press had finally backed off of her, deeming her period of bereavement to be just the evidence they needed to prove those ridiculous rumours about her paying the inmate at the prison to kill Lex wrong.
It had been almost three weeks since the funeral, since Kara had seen her, and she still hadn’t replied.
But Kara was determined. So that night on her way back from the DEO to her apartment, she made a detour and stopped by the L-Corp building.
She didn’t land on the balcony, but instead kept her distance, hovering a good distance away, and focused her vision. Lena was sitting at her desk, with her back to Kara. Her hair was out today, cascading over her shoulder as she sat hunched over her paperwork.
The few moments after Kara send her text, she saw Lena’s head turn and pick up her phone.
Lena brought it closer to her, and seemed to go still for a very long moment.
“Come on,’ Kara muttered under her breath, ‘just say something. Anything.”
After a while, Lena put her phone aside again and resumed her paperwork.
Kara sighed to herself, and was about to head home, conceding defeat and resolving to try again tomorrow, when…
Kara almost dropped her phone thirty stories in her haste to look at it.
Yes, I’m fine.
It was barely anything, but it was more than she’d had in weeks.
Kara decided to push her luck, and replied:
I went to Russia today, and I got you a bottle of Smirnoff. I remember you ran out.
Lena looked at the text again, and then Kara was delighted when she saw Lena lean back in her chair and type her reply. It came in a few moments later.
The green apple flavour?
Kara smirked, and sent:
Kara didn’t stay hovering at the L-Corp building after that. But when she got home, and changed out of her Supergirl suit, and was lying on the couch in her pyjamas feeling lighter than she had in days, her phone buzzed again.
It still wasn’t much, but it was a start.
Lena knew people would and could say many derogatory things about her, but one thing was for sure – she knew they could never doubt her ability to throw one hell of a party.
Senator Hamilton had been re-elected, by only a small majority, but it was a victory none-the-less. And as a firm and proud advocate of his, Lena had decided to throw him a victory gala.
“Lena,’ the Senator had laughed when she’d told him over the phone, ‘you have already been so generous, what with that benefit and all your generous contributions…”
“I helped get you here,’ Lena smiled, ‘let me help you celebrate.”
“I do love a party,’ the Senator chuckled. ‘But, really, are you sure? I mean, after everything…”
“After everything,’ Lena cut him off kindly, ‘I need a reason to celebrate. This has been a hard few months for both of us, Senator. Let me do this for you.”
And that had been that. A few phone calls and signed checks later, and the Gala was up and running.
Jess had done astounding work, Lena decided as she looked around the event now. Jess had, somehow, managed to book the observatory as the venue. The dome ceiling above them was open to the warm, sparkling night sky. The band was playing soft, slow jazz and classical tunes. The chatter of the guests was loud enough to prove how much everyone was enjoying themselves, but not too loud to drown out the music and cramp the atmosphere.
The guests were a mixture of Human and Alien. Lena had made sure to invite prominent alien figures, as this was as much their victory as it was Senator Hamilton’s, or hers. Everyone was impeccably dressed as they mulled about by the bar, or stared up at the stars through the ceiling, or swayed together on the dance floor.
Lena felt proud of her herself; proud that she could bring happiness to so many people. She didn’t think she’d feel any happier than she did in that moment.
And then Supergirl descended through the roof, and landed on the floor like an angel to a chorus of whispers and gasps of shock around the room, and Lena felt her heart jump into her throat.
Senator Hamilton got to her first. He shook her hand firmly.
“Supergirl, how wonderful it is to see you. Thank you for coming.”
“Congratulations, Senator,’ Kara smiled at him. ‘Thank you for inviting me. I’m looking forward to seeing all the positive changes you can make for the alien population.”
“So am I. Ah, but here’s the girl we all have to thank! Lena, you know Supergirl, of course?”
It seemed like years since Lena had looked into those big, blue eyes. Other than text and short phone calls, Lena hadn’t interacted with Kara at all since the funeral.
Kara seemed to be only barely managing to smother her smile. “Hello, Miss Luthor.”
Lena nodded in acknowledgement, and held her champagne glass up as if to cheers her. “Supergirl.”
“Come,’ Senator Hamilton gestured for Supergirl to lead the way, ‘I’d like to introduce you to Polasith Kane, she’s a Harkon who’s started up a homeless shelter for alien refugees…”
Kara gave Lena one last smile over her shoulder as she followed the Senator to shake hands with a very tall, imposing woman with leathery green skin and long, orange hair.
Of course Lena had invited her. And she knew Kara would come. Not just because she would want to show her support for the Alien populace in National City, but because she knew Lena would be there.
Even now, after everything they had been through, if Lena could feel sure about anything anymore, it would be that Kara would always be there, no matter how much she pushed and pulled at her.
Lena didn’t get much chance to talk to her for a while. People kept whisking Lena aside, to offer condolences about Lex, or to praise her for how beautiful the Gala had turned out, or to ask her what her opinions were on Senator Hamilton’s policies.
But there were moments between conversations, when the guests around her would dissolve into their own conversations for a moment and Lena could gaze across the room.
She always found Kara immediately. And not just because the blue and red of her suit stood out against the more seriously colours of the other guest’s attire. It was like Kara was under a spotlight. Lena’s eyes were instantly drawn to her, wherever she was; if she was talking to people, laughing at their jokes, or at the buffet table, trying to control her urge to eat the entire plate of canapés, or translating for one of the aliens who was trying to have a conversation with the Mayor.
Lena had almost consoled herself to the fact that she wasn’t going to get any time alone with Kara at all, when she took up a spot beside the dance floor and looked out at the couples swaying away together to the gentle sound of the piano.
But then she saw Kara, across the floor, listening politely to the Deputy Mayor as he chatted away in her ear, and Lena decided that that just wasn’t good enough.
Lena threw back the rest of her champagne in one, deep gulp, put her glass down on the table behind her, and weaved her way across the floor, the buzz of alcohol urging her forward.
Kara blinked in surprise, seemingly forgetting the Deputy Mayor beside her, as she watched Lena approach.
“… been saying we should have an annual Supergirl day. After all, Metropolis has an entire park devoted to Superman. I think we can do much-…. Ah, Miss Luthor! I was just telling Supergirl about my plans to instill a public holiday in her honour. What do you think?’
Lena barely heard him. Without a word, she took Kara’s hand and began leading her away.
Kara put up no resistance. When they were back amongst the crowd, Lena took Kara’s right hand in her left, put her other hand on Kara’s shoulder, and stepped in closer. Kara’s hand went to her waist automatically, but she felt Kara stiffen.
“Lena,’ she whispered, looking around cautiously, ‘what are you…”
Lena pressed her temple against Kara’s. She flicked the blonde strands of hair away slightly and began to sway softly on the spot.
She felt Kara’s breath on her neck as Kara sighed; her hands were shaking, but her embrace tightened a little as she gave into the moment, and pulled Lena just a fraction closer.
In the back of her mind, the rational part of Lena knew how this must look. But in that moment, with Kara in her arms and her warmth radiating through her, with the world feeling like nothing but white noise and so very far away, Lena really didn’t care.
“I’m sorry I’ve been distant,’ she said, her voice barely a whisper, but she knew Kara could hear her.
“You don’t have to apologize.’
“I thought I had to punish myself,’ Lena admitted. And now that it was all about to come out, she didn’t want it to stop. ‘I thought that because I wanted to be with you so badly, that the universe tried to give me what I wanted, and that I was responsible for Lex. And I know that’s not what really happened. People make their own choices, and the man that took my brother made his. But the truth is, Lex… my Lex… was gone long before that.”
Lena leaned back a little so she could look Kara in the eye.
“And I pushed myself away from you, because I didn’t feel like I deserved to be with you again. I thought I had to serve penance. For Lex, for how I’ve treated you…”
Kara gave her such a look, it sent a wave of electricity through Lena’s entire body. How were eyes so blue?
“When will you learn to be generous to yourself?’ Kara asked.
“Probably never,’ Lena laughed.
Kara smiled, laughed, shook her head, and Lena suddenly felt more alive than she had in months.
“We’ll just have to work on that,’ Kara murmured.
Lena swallowed back the lump in her throat. People were looking now; she could see them in her peripheral vision. So Lena decided to give them something to really look at.
Lena leaned her forehead against Kara’s.
If Karma was real, and trying to do the right thing brought better things back around to you, surely, Lena thought, this was it.