It takes a few days for Lena to stop reliving the moment of Kara’s near-death in the Music Meister’s world, but she manages. A significant portion of those days are filled at L Corp where she can bury herself in work for the day, but when free moments come, she searches for anything to avoid just sitting around stewing in her own paranoia.
Any task that sufficiently distracts her will suffice - continuing to search for Lex’s vaults with Lana, working with Winn at the DEO on a tracking program to detect magical and interdimensional activity, tinkering around on plans for upgrading Kara’s suit. The last task is particularly helpful as she at least feels like she’s doing something constructive, something aimed at protecting Kara from things beyond their control.
It helps too that with Kara’s continuing unemployment and lack of anything DEO-related to do, she’s at home most of the time or nearby. There have been more than a few times that Lena’s caught Supergirl flying by L Corp in the middle of the day and has invited Kara inside with a soft, fond sigh and a murmured, “Are you coming in or not?”
Kara will often land on her balcony, cape fluttering behind her as she sheepishly strides inside. “I didn’t want to bother you.”
It’s the same every time, just as Lena’s answer is: “You’re never a bother, darling.”
Some afternoons, when the distractions aren’t enough at L Corp, she’ll finish her workday at Kara’s apartment. On one such afternoon in which Kara’s been attempting to bake something for the past few hours (and failing), she gets a phone call from a contact that makes her heart skip just the slightest.
“Jack?” she greets after connecting the call. Her eyes wander to where Kara’s back noticeably stiffens from her hunched position over the oven. “Hi.”
“Hi,” he returns, the calm tone of his voice making Lena smile.
“How are you doing?
“Great,” he replies, a little too enthusiastically. “You?”
“Great,” Lena says, though she mocks his enthusiasm as much as she can. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
He laughs softly. “I saw you got my invitation to the event,” he says.
“Yes, the mysterious new unveiling,” she replies, nearly rolling her eyes, but catching Kara’s sudden interest in the conversation. It’s clear Kara’s going for casual with the way she keeps fiddling with utensils on the kitchen counter, but Lena can pick up the signs of Kara using her superhearing a mile away.
“And a plus one as well,” he says, this time his tone much more curious. Lena had forgotten that she’d told Jess to RSVP for Kara and she looks up again to see Kara turning to face her, brow quirked in question. Lena quirks one back.
“Yes, I’ll be bringing someone,” she says, gaze connected with Kara’s. “A reporter I know. I thought you’d appreciate the extra press.”
“A reporter,” he replies, sounding all too knowing in that way he has. “Can I assume it’s the infamous Kara Danvers the papers have been linking you to recently?”
She thinks about denying it – an instinctive defensive reaction more than anything else – but the truth comes out before she can even process the impulse. “It is,” she says, deciding not to fully answer the unspoken question. “She’s one of the best reporters in National City.”
“Ah,” he says and Lena can picture his amused expression. Can see his tiny office at Spheerical and the way he’s probably rocking back and forth in his office chair. “Well, I look forward to meeting her then.”
Turning away from the quizzical look in Kara’s eyes, Lena goes for a change in subject. “Are you going to let me in on this new IP of yours?”
“And ruin the surprise?”
“Tell me it’s the nanobots,” Lena says, curiosity getting the better of her. The nanotech had been something she and Jack had worked on together for ages, but they’d never quite finished it and Lena’d left before they really had a chance. It’s the only logical thing Spheerical could be rolling out.
Jack tsks disapprovingly down the line. “You were never one for patience, were you?”
“I just think I have a right to know,” she replies airily, but laughing at the end of it. “And I think you enjoy jerking me around.”
His laugh is warm and bright. “It’s certainly an added benefit.”
“Is that why you called?”
Another laugh. “No, I was just hoping we could connect while I’m in town. Perhaps dinner after the event? It’s been an age.”
The thought of having dinner with Jack after so long feels a bit nerve-wracking. So many things have changed about her life since last they saw each other. Kara clearly tunes into the way Lena’s heartbeat picks up, taking a step further toward the living room where Lena’s settled, and Lena hopes Kara isn’t misinterpreting the reason.
“I’ll check my schedule,” is the only answer Lena thinks to give.
Thankfully, Jack doesn’t seem like he’s going to push her. “Very well.”
“I look forward to the press conference,” Lena says softly and when Jack returns a, “Me too,” she can hear his smile.
“Have a good night, Jack.” And with that, Lena hangs the call up and turns back to the laptop she has set on the coffee table, ignoring the way Kara’s staring at her.
As she returns to an e-mail from her legal team about a new patent filing, she wonders how long Kara will be able to stave off her curiosity and stay silent.
The answer is barely a minute. Kara ends up plopping down next to her on the couch and propping her feet on the coffee table, going for casual and failing with the way her eyes train on Lena.
“That was Jack?” Kara asks and Lena shoots her an amused look.
“Have you run out of baked goods to burn?”
Kara flushes attractively, an offended push to her lips. “Rude,” she mumbles, before staying on subject. “What did Jack want?”
Lena laughs. “I know you heard every word.”
Holding her hands up defensively, Kara tries to look innocent. “I wasn’t trying to.”
“Jack’s coming to town this week,” Lena tells her despite knowing full well Kara heard the entire phone call. There’s something endearing about the warmth in her cheeks, the honest expression on her face that Lena’s always felt so weak to.
“We’re going to his press conference?” Kara asks, brow arching inquisitively. “Both of us?”
This time it’s Lena’s turn to feel sheepish. She’d entirely forgotten to clue Kara into the event. “It’s for some new IP of his. He’d sent me an invite a while back and I’d RSVP’d.”
“For both of us,” Kara adds with a curious inflection.
“I thought you might want to go,” she replies. “I was offered a plus one and I think it’d make a great story. You can blob about it. You’ve been trying to find a good story for awhile now.”
Though Kara’d still been mostly put out by her firing from CatCo, she’d started to take Lena’s advice and continue with her blog. It’d been mostly posts about things happening in the alien activist community, but a few of her articles detailed whatever leaks Lena could afford to give her about L Corp’s activities. It was a questionable blurring of personal and professional lines, but if it put a smile on Kara’s face, Lena was willing to make the sacrifice.
Kara nods slowly, making an affirmative sounding noise through her lips and looking like she’s thinking really hard about the suggestion.
Smothering a smile at the look of conflict on Kara’s face, Lena reaches out to tug at the bracelet on Kara’s wrist. “Unless you don’t want to,” Lena offers and Kara’s blush goes a little deeper.
“No, no, no, it sounds fun.”
“It should certainly be interesting. If I know Jack, he’s somehow completed the nanobot project,” Lena says, abandoning her laptop once again in favor of moving closer to Kara on the couch. “I’m pretty curious to see how he did it myself.”
“Nanobots?” Kara asks, but her eyes track the motion of Lena’s hands as they get closer and attach themselves to Kara’s body, their limbs shifting easily around each other until they’re all but cuddled on the couch.
It’s been almost a week since the incident on Earth-1, but Lena still finds herself needing physical connection with Kara just to reassure herself they’re both alive and together.
“It was a biotech project Jack and I had been working on a for a few years until I left Metropolis to come here,” Lena informs her. “We never quite got the algorithm correct for the swarm. I’m…surprised he was able to crack it.”
“And mad he did it without you,” Kara adds softly, a knowing twist to her lips.
Lena quirks a brow but doesn’t deny it. “It’s more that…I hate that I don’t know the answer,” she says. “And he does.”
Kara nods understandingly, her fingers finding Lena’s and twisting together. “Was there some big thing that you couldn’t figure out?”
Thinking back on the project brings back so many memories, Lena doesn’t really know where to begin. She shrugs, shuffling through the various roadblocks they’d come across. “There were a lot of things,” she says. “The nano swarm had serious side effects. All of the rats during trials…their brain chemistry was forever altered.”
“What do you mean?”
“They had no control,” Lena explains. “We could make them do whatever we wanted.”
“And that wasn’t the point?” Kara asks.
Lena laughs, idly playing with the bracelet around Kara’s wrist. “No. Not at all. Think about how dangerous that could be with humans. That kind of power in the wrong hands.”
What she doesn’t say - who she doesn’t mention - is still obvious in the silence that follows. There are about five people off the top of her head she’d never want to know about the potential of the nano swarm. Two of them are related to her. Kara makes a small noise. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Yeah,” Lena says with a soft chuckle that comes out more like a sigh. “But if Jack’s marketing it like this he must have found a way around all that.”
“Well, at least you’ll get a chance to ask him,” Kara points out and Lena agrees with a conceding shrug of her shoulder.
“True,” she says softly, letting her body drift further into Kara’s.
“Will it be weird to see him again?”
Lena gives the question consideration even though the little drop in her stomach is answer enough. “Yes,” she answers simply.
Kara’s quiet for a moment, her thumb stroking over Lena’s hand in a soothing motion. “You know, you never really told me why you guys broke up.”
Absurdly, it makes Lena laugh. “I was moving to National City,” Lena says as if that explains anything.
“And so you broke up with him?”
Lena thinks on that, recalls the memory of her last moments with Jack - informing him of her new title in the company, packing up her apartment, driving to the airport. “I suppose I never technically broke up with him,” she muses.
Seeing Kara’s horrified expression, Lena laughs again, settles a hand on Kara’s forearm to clarify, “I did, we just never really had the conversation explicitly.”
“What do you mean?”
“I told him I was taking over at Luthor Corp, that I was renaming the company and moving it to National City and then I just kind of...never implied he should follow. Or that we’d stay together. I just said goodbye to him at the airport and that was it.”
“That’s…” Kara trails off into an introspective sounding hum.
“Yeah, I know,” Lena says, rolling her eyes mostly at myself. “I have a certain style, don’t I?”
“That’s not what I was going to say,” Kara replies, putting a hand to her chest as if offended.
“Still true,” Lena says with a wry twist to her lips.
“I was going to say why didn’t you tell him to follow you? Why’d you have to break up just because you were moving?” The look on her face must be amusing because Kara laughs at her. “I’m serious.”
In all honesty, Lena hadn’t really considered that option. Once she knew she was moving to National City, it had never occured to Lena to take Jack with her even though she knew he would if she’d only ask. “It seemed like the right thing to do,” is all Lena can think to say. “Jack and I were...we were heading that direction anyway.”
Not entirely the truth - Lena’s fairly certain if she’d stayed in Metropolis, if Lex had never gone crazy, if she’d never run into Kara again, she’d have spent the rest of her life with Jack. Lived out a halfway normal, though incredibly boring, existence with a man who loved her. And she had loved him, too, in her own way.
There was just something about deciding to go to National City that meant Jack wouldn’t follow.
“Good thing, I suppose,” Kara says and Lena can hear the tease in her tone. “I don’t know what I would have done if you’d showed up here with a boyfriend in tow.”
Lena’d imagined it, actually. Or something of the sort. Of what she’d have done if Kara had shown up randomly in Metropolis one day. Or they’d run into each other on one of the many business trips she’d taken with Jack. “That would have been awkward,” she jokes, wincing a bit at the idea.
“Totally,” Kara agrees with exaggeration. “I mean, for you to just drop him like a bad habit the second you saw me again. I feel bad for the guy.”
Kara barely gets through the sentence without laughing and it makes Lena laugh as well though she tries for a glare, pulling back enough to face Kara, but failing to keep the expression up. She shoves at Kara anyway, though it carries no strength and Kara merely captures her wrists and pulls her forward until they’re kissing.
It relaxes all the muscles in Lena’s body and she lets herself get pushed back onto the couch, the solid weight of Kara pressing down on her making her feel grounded and warm. Their conversation is forgotten as Lena relishes in the strong pull of Kara’s fingers and the confident path her lips take as they work their way down Lena’s body.
It isn’t until a loud beeping sound interrupts them that Lena registers the pungent smell of something burning. Kara’s head shoots up from where it’s perched near Lena’s hipbone and Lena looks to the kitchen. “Did you leave the oven on?”
Letting out a curse word, Kara vaults over the back of the couch and Lena slumps back onto the cushions, her palms covering her face as an exasperated laugh leaves her mouth. “Try not to break anything,” she instructs even as she hears the sound Kara’s frost breath and the distinct noise of glass breaking.
Apart from the Spheerical event towards the end of the week, there isn’t anything too pressing on Lena’s docket. For the first time in a while it feels like things at L Corp are settling down and finding some kind of rhythm.
As has become habit, she spends more time with Winn working on their little side-project concerning Kara’s suit.
It’s gone pretty well so far. Winn is easy to work with and has an enthusiasm for the endeavor that warms Lena’s heart. They’ve gotten pretty far in modifying Kara’s suit to add a bit more armor plating and mobility. It’s finally at a point where they can start making prototypes and have Kara test them out.
“Kara will be safe from pretty much anything,” Winn says with a satisfied little smile. He shrugs a shoulder, his smile dipping only slightly. “Except good old-fashioned Kryptonite, I guess.”
It’s an absentminded statement and maybe if Lena hadn’t already been swimming in a kind of shaky paranoia about Kara being hurt or killed she might have laughed it off. As it is, however, her brain starts moving quickly with the truth of it. The suit is great, it’ll protect Kara from most anything that could come its way. But a sliver of Kryptonite is all anyone would need to destroy its defenses.
“You’re right,” Lena murmurs, a frustration starting to clench in her jaw. Winn must take note of it because he sits up, his brow a little furrowed.
“It’s a good suit, Lena. Definitely an improvement over my first model.”
But her brain can’t stop the spiraling thoughts, the terrifying image of Kara with a green glow in her veins.
She has to try.
“Does the DEO still have Kryptonite in their inventory?”
The suddenness of her question is likely what makes his face go tense and he hesitates a moment before shaking his head with a smile too forced looking to really pull off casual.
“Superman put up a big stink with J’onn about the DEO storing Kryptonite. We destroyed it all last year.”
It’s a lie. Of that Lena’s fairly certain – Kara had mentioned herself that they’d kept just enough around for things like the Kryptonite walls in the training room – something she’s seen with her own eyes. She’s just not certain why Winn might be lying and tries not to run to the usual knee-jerk conclusion her brain supplies.
“Is that so?” The arch of her eyebrow makes his eyes flirt to the side.
“Yup,” Winn says with a pop of his lips. They regard each other for a long moment and Lena doesn’t resist the steely gaze that takes over her face – the kind of expression she levels on board members she needs to rein back into line. It works on Winn in seconds and his entire being deflates.
“Okay, we might have kept a little,” he admits, blowing out a breath like the five second charade’s exhausted him. “It’s crazy top secret.”
“I’ve been in that Kryptonite training room,” Lena says dryly, declining to mention Kara’d said as much as well. Winn makes a face with a soft drawn out right. “Have you run any tests on it? Are there records?”
“Me personally? With the Kryptonite?” Winn says, pointing to himself and laughing. “No.”
“Do you think we could acquire a sample?” Lena asks, hearing how absurd the question is, but going for it nonetheless.
Winn’s jaw drops open wordlessly, his finger still pointed square at his chest for a few beats before he shakes himself out of it and adopts a look of pure incredulity. “Lena…Kryptonite is like…you’re talking about…I mean I can’t just –”
“You’re right,” Lena says and it’s clear he thinks she’s talking about how crazy it sounds to want to get her hands on some Kryptonite. “This suit is good, but it’s not going to be any good to Kara against the tiniest amount of Kryptonite. I can’t know how to protect her from it if I don’t even understand the element myself.”
Winn blinks at her, clearly confronted by the truth in what she’s saying, but a mixture of resistance and impossibility plays over his face. A few silent seconds pass before he speaks. “Nothing good has ever come from anyone having Kryptonite,” Winn says, slowly as if he’s trying to be careful about all his words. “Even in the hands of the good guys.”
Lena can see she’s not going to get through to him. At least not right now. His eyes are darting over her face, judging her reaction and she lets a little conceding smile grace her lips. “I just want to do whatever I can to protect her,” she says softly and his shoulders droop, his smile warm.
“I know you do,” he says, putting a hand out to briefly touch her shoulder. “But we’d be better off trying to destroy what’s left of that stuff.”
“Yeah,” she replies, but her brain’s already searching for another avenue to her goal. “You’re right.”
“I mean, think about it. Your mom tried to replicate it and it was so unstable it blew up an entire storehouse,” he says, turning back to the screen in front of him with the specs for the suit. “Max Lord tried to make some once too and could only make a red version of the element that completely messed with Kara’s mind.”
If Winn thinks he’s dissuading Lena from investigating Kryptonite, he’s surely doing the opposite. A distant memory surfaces of Kara mentioning the red Kryptonite all those months ago on Earth-1.
“Kara’d mentioned she was exposed to red Kryptonite,” Lena says, turning towards a prototype sitting on the table of the wrist bracers they’re thinking of adding to the suit. She goes for casual as she continues. “Said it destroys inhibitions.”
“Yeah,” Winn says with a laugh blown out on a heavy breath. “That’s one way to put it.”
“What’s another way?”
Winn shrugs a shoulder, punching in a set of numbers on his screen and glancing at her. “Well she basically carved a path of destruction through downtown. She broke Alex’s arm, threw Cat Grant off a building, messed with James and Lucy’s relationship, and was about seconds from going off to Metropolis for whatever reason when we finally stopped her.”
The mention of heading to Metropolis sends a cold shiver down her spine. Winn might not realize the reason, but Lena can see it clear as day – wonders for a second what she would have done if a red Kryptonite affected Supergirl had shown up on her balcony in Metropolis years ago. “How did you finally stop her?” Lena asks, swallowing the lump in her throat.
“Max gave us an antidote for it and Alex had to shoot her with it. Broken arm and all,” Winn says, a twist to his lips betraying how upsetting the whole ordeal must have been. “It wasn’t good. Kara and Alex were a mess for a long time after that. From what I heard Kara said some things to Alex while under the influence that kind of…tipped everything on its side.”
It aches across Lena’s chest to think about. Kara had certainly glossed over a few details when she’d relayed the story all that time ago.
“That’s…” Lena can’t find the right words.
“Yeah,” Winn agrees with a sad sounding laugh. “Like I said, Kryptonite just never goes well around here. Even Alex’s Kryptonite armor and sword got destroyed after the whole killing Astra, controlled by Non and fighting Kara thing happened.”
The air in the room feels like it goes suddenly thin, pulling quickly out of Lena’s throat as she processes. “The what thing happened?”
Lena has just enough knowledge of Kara’s family tree to recognize the name, the shock of what Winn’s saying – as offhanded as he said it – runs down her spine.
It must occur to Winn quickly that this is new information for Lena. His eyes go wide as he turns to her, his cheeks visibly paling. “I mean, Kara told you about Myriad and all that stuff, right?”
Myriad. Myriad. Lena’s brain shuffles around to try and understand the word and it occurs to her suddenly that in all their time reconciling their own pasts they haven’t talked much in depth about their time apart. They’d covered some things, of course. But from one small conversation with Winn it feels like she’s missed so much of what’s happened to Kara.
A memory finally surfaces, and she remembers a news story about National City on lockdown – about a mind-controlling substance that was turning the city population into something like zombies.
“Refresh my memory,” Lena says softly, trying to keep her voice from sounding too firm.
Winn squirms in his chair, clearly uncomfortable. “Look, this really feels like something Kara should tell you about. It was her family and all that stuff.”
“Astra was her aunt, right?” Lena says, trying to put all the pieces together. Vague memories of Kara explaining her family tree during late nights in their field flit across her consciousness.
“That’s right,” Winn says after a beat.
“And Alex killed her?”
Winn doesn’t answer right away, his lips twisted and pressed together. “Like I said,” he starts, his expression pleading with her to let him off the hook. “Nothing good has ever come from Kryptonite. Even in the hands of the good guys.”
It makes her think of Lex, of his vaults and of the warsuit they’d once built. If Max Lord was here in National City creating Kryptonite, if her own mother was using Cadmus to do the same, it’s likely almost unavoidable that Lex was likely working on it as well.
They’d already found one stockpile of Cadmus-created Kryptonite. Who knows how many more are out there – if her mother already has her hands on it. Though she’s had similar thoughts before, they seem to come with added intensity now, the paranoia of having almost lost Kara mere days ago making her skin crawl.
She had told Kara once - if I can protect you, I will. She doesn’t feel any different now. If anything, the fervent need to do everything in her power to shield Kara from danger feels overwhelming.
“Right,” Lena says, trying for a smile that will pacify the concerned look on Winn’s face. The agreement sounds about as empty as it could in her ears, but the furrow in Winn’s brow smooths and he seems to buy it.
As he changes the subject to an upgrade on his newest battle bot, Lena’s thoughts continue to wander and seem incapable of focusing on anything other than the new issues in front of her.
Kara comes and finds her long after Winn’s left. Lena’d stayed in her office unable to get her brain to quiet down. Between thinking about Alex possibly killing Kara’s favorite aunt and the problem of trying to find a way to guard Kara against Kryptonite, Lena’s sure she’s going to have to be sedated in order to sleep tonight.
“Hey,” Kara says, knocking on the door softly and stepping inside. “I went to your apartment, but you weren’t there.”
“Sorry,” Lena says, closing her laptop on a detailed newspaper article titled National City Turned to Zombies by Myriad Attack. “I’ve had a lot of work. Did you need something?”
Kara stops abruptly, halfway across the carpet to Lena’s desk. “Do I need to need something to want to see you?”
That shakes Lena out of her mood and she stands, running her fingers through the hair she’d let down sometime after she’d finished working in the lab. “Of course not, I’m sorry. It’s just been a long day.”
“You okay?” Kara asks, resuming her walk forward and circling the desk until she’s close enough to pull Lena into a hug.
“Yeah,” Lena breathes, already feeling better just being next to Kara, feeling her solid and certain beneath her finger tips and smelling the lingering tropical scent of her shampoo. “How was your day?”
“Fine,” Kara replies, her fingers kneading into Lena’s back in such an efficient way that Lena nearly moans at the feeling. “I came to see if you wanted to come with me to the bar. I think Alex and James and maybe Lucy are meeting up there.”
The thought of socializing right now starts the ghost of a headache in the back of her brain and Lena sags a bit into Kara’s embrace. “If that’s what you want,” she says quietly.
Kara’s fingers move up into her hair, scratching at her scalp and Lena presses her face into Kara’s sternum feeling languid. “What I want is to be with you, so if just going home sounds better, I’m all for it.”
“I hate to keep you from your friends,” Lena says, the words muffled by Kara’s shirt.
Kara tsks. “You’re not,” she says and before Lena can continue half-hearted protests, she continues. “Why don’t you and I go back to your place, draw a bath in that huge jacuzzi tub you never use and open up a bottle of wine that I won’t appreciate?”
It makes Lena chuckle, but it also sounds so heavenly that the laugh turns into a grateful sounding groan. “You’re my favorite,” Lena says, trying to let the dark and complicated thoughts she’d been swirling in earlier fade away. At least for the moment.
Without much movement, Kara manages to curl an arm around Lena’s waist and pick her up off the ground, one hand still rubbing circles at the top of her neck and onto her shoulders. “You got everything you need?” Kara asks, clearly indicating she’s about to fly them both out the balcony – probably irresponsible considering Kara’s in her street clothes, but Lena feels almost too tired to care.
“You should change before you fly us anywhere,” Lena says, tugging at the back of Kara’s shirt, but not moving away.
“Nah,” Kara says. “I’m sneaky.”
Lena laughs. “No, you’re not.”
Kara feigns offense. “I can be if I want to,” she defends.
“Come on,” Lena says, picking her head up off Kara’s chest to look at her. “I’ll call my driver. With our luck someone will see us fly off the balcony and it’ll be all over the TV in the morning.”
“Cars take forever,” Kara whines, but she puts Lena back on the ground and allows herself to be led downstairs all the same.
As promised, Kara draws them a warm bath and pulls out a bottle of wine from a vineyard she can barely pronounce. She tries, in a terribly affected French accent, twirling an invisible mustache, and it nearly succeeds in pushing away the thoughts in Lena’s head.
Nearly. It seems impossible to really stop thinking about it all. If she could get her hands on the records about Kryptonite and how it affects Kryptonians on a cellular level, she could use what she knows of Kara’s biology to work backwards, she could engineer fabrics and plating that would protect Kara, and even Superman. It swirls around in her brain as she sips her wine and watches Kara settle into the warm bath.
They sit at opposite ends of the tub, their legs sliding together and facing each other, Kara putting on some soft music and sitting in relatively calm silence for a few minutes.
“Are you going to tell me what’s weighing so heavy up there?” Kara asks eventually, pointing with her glass to Lena’s head. Lena eyes her, unsure how to unleash the cavalcade of thoughts twisting through her head. She decides against bringing up the Kryptonite issue and instead settles on something no less complicated, but much more accessible.
“Winn told me an interesting story today,” Lena says, wary of her approach, but wanting to breach the subject regardless. “It made me realize how little we’ve really talked about our time apart.”
“We’ve talked about it,” Kara protests, her brow crinkling in a way that has Lena leaning forward to rub her thumb across it. Kara’s face smooths over momentarily in response, her hand landing on Lena’s knee.
“Not really,” she murmurs, still leaned in close. “Not about everything.”
“What did Winn tell you?” Kara asks, a wary look in her eye.
“Just some details about the red Kryptonite incident you might have glossed over and a bit about Myriad,” Lena answers.
Kara’s reaction is immediate. Her face goes hard and closes off. “Myriad?”
“Yes,” Lena says slowly, trying to judge Kara’s response.
“I’m sure it made news in Metropolis,” Kara says, her eyes intent on Lena’s for a moment as if searching for something.
“It did,” Lena replies, still feeling a sting of shame that she hadn’t really paid much attention to it. It was often like that. Metropolis had its own problems and National City was so far away. She remembers the snippets of Supergirl’s speech that they ran on the nightly news “But from what Winn mentioned, it was more personal for you than the news might have made it out to be.”
Impossibly, Kara’s face pulls tighter. “Which part? The part where my own people tried to mind control the entirety of National City or the part where my aunt died in my arms?”
Kara’s failure to mention Alex’s part in Astra’s death beats something heavy into Lena’s chest that has nothing to do with the angry cut of Kara’s jaw.
Undeterred by the steel in Kara’s voice, Lena lets her leg press into Kara’s. “Both, I’d imagine,” she says simply and it seems to loosen some of Kara’s expression.
“Why was Winn even talking about that?”
“He thought I knew,” Lena says with a pointed arch of her brow. “Which is when it occurred to me how much we hadn’t talked about.”
Suddenly, and far more athletically than Lena expects, Kara vaults herself out of the tub and onto the bathroom tile, reaching for a nearby towel and leaving Lena to flinch away from the small wake of water. “He shouldn’t be talking about that stuff with you.”
“What are you doing?” Lena asks, irritated by Kara’s abrupt departure. “Get back in the tub.”
“I’m going to go tell Winn to mind his business,” Kara says, swiping a towel down her torso and then throwing it back on a hook. Lena tries not to get distracted by Kara’s stark naked form just standing there in front of her, but her brain already felt like mush earlier and this certainly isn’t helping.
“Kara, come back here please,” Lena entreats, holding a hand out towards her in invitation. Her tone must be pitiful enough because Kara’s face softens, and she does as Lena asks, stepping back into the tub slowly.
“Here,” Lena adds when Kara moves as if to retreat to the side opposite her. Instead, Lena tugs at her forearm until Kara’s turning and backing up between Lena’s legs, her back resting against Lena’s chest and head falling to Lena’s shoulder.
It’s a reversal of their usual position, but it feels nice to be the one cradling Kara for a change, wrapping her arms over Kara’s chest and placing a comforting kiss to her temple. “Sorry I brought it up,” Lena murmurs.
Sagging further against Lena’s body and into the warm water, Lena sighs. “No, you’re right. We haven’t really talked about that kind of stuff. Mostly because I just don’t like to,” Kara admits, craning her neck to the side and letting it loll on Lena’s shoulder. “Some of it’s just too hard, I think.”
“I get that,” Lena says, knowing it’s one of the reasons she still can’t talk about Lex. Not really.
“How did that even come up with you guys?”
Lena considers her answer a moment. “We were talking about Kryptonite, I guess,” she says. “And he was illustrating how dangerous it can be.”
Kara hums affirmatively, her fingers capturing Lena’s and playing with them in the water. “So that’s how Maxwell Lord and his famous red Kryptonite came up?”
“When you mentioned it on Earth-1, you left out a few details,” Lena comments softly, not trying to push Kara, but wanting to know nonetheless.
“What did Winn tell you?” Kara asks, voice equally soft. Her shoulders are still a little tense where they rest against Lena’s chest and she tightens her hold the slightest in an effort to soften them.
“We don’t actually have to talk about it,” Lena says, aching at the unnaturally quiet tone of Kara’s voice. “I just want you to know that you can talk to me if you want. I feel like I’ve missed so much.”
“No, it’s -” Kara sighs, her shoulders finally deflating, head turning until her temple bumps softly against Lena’s chin. “I should talk about it. If only because you should probably know about the time your girlfriend turned into an awful power hungry supervillain for a day.”
“The red Kryptonite seems like it does a lot more than just destroy inhibitions,” Lena mentions, remembering Kara’s depiction of events when they’d spoken about it on Earth-1.
Kara makes a noise in her throat, punctuate it with a bitter chuckle. “The things I said to Alex...I could barely look at her after that. It took weeks until we felt close to normal again.”
“That must have been really hard,” Lena says, unable to stop her thoughts from wandering towards Lex, towards all the fractures in their relationship. Little fissures she’s sure will never truly be healed.
“Yeah,” Kara admits in a small voice. “The whole city lost faith in me - in Supergirl.”
“You’ve clearly earned back their trust,” Lena points out and Kara makes a noise of agreement, but offers nothing more. They’re silent a bit until Lena speaks again. “Do you want to talk about Astra?”
Kara freezes up for a second before sighing the tension away. “What do you want to know?”
“Anything you want to tell me,” Lena says. “I just - had no idea that she was even alive, let alone that she had died.”
“It was a fun surprise,” Kara says, blandly, her fingers tracing the skin of Lena’s thighs. “Apparently, my pod pulled a whole Phantom Zone prison with it, and Astra and Non were on it. So they show up, try to eliminate humanity with Myriad, and then I - I was fighting Non, and Alex and J’onn were fighting Astra, and I was - distracted. It was right after the Black Mercy thing, and I was so angry and so focused on making him hurt the way he had hurt me...I didn’t even realize she’d been stabbed until it was too late. I didn’t even hear it happen.”
Lena doesn’t know what to say apart from a sincere, “I’m sorry.”
“J’onn took the blame for Alex for a bit,” Kara adds. “I’m not sure why I bought it. Maybe wishful thinking. But Astra was stabbed by a Kryptonite sword we had at the DEO and I’d only ever really seen Alex be the one to use it.”
The mention of the sword brings Lena back to the thoughts that’d been brewing since the conversation with Winn earlier that afternoon. “I didn’t realize the DEO had Kryptonite weaponry,” she says, trying to remain casual.
“They don’t,” Kara says, a bit of a scoff forming. “Not anymore.”
“Nope,” Kara answers, popping the word on her lips and tapping her fingers against Lena’s legs. “The only Kryptonite at the DEO anymore is used to power the training room.”
“Because of what happened to Astra?”
“Partly,” Kara answers. “But also because Clark basically froze J’onn out over the issue and frankly I agreed with him. Nothing good comes from having Kryptonite around. Max Lord tries to make it, it turns me evil. Cadmus tries to give a guy a Kryptonite heart and it blows up a mountain. Alex gets a Kryptonite suit and she gets mind controlled and attacks me.”
It’s a mirror of Winn’s comments and Lena’s not sure if she has the energy to push the issue. The itch to get her hands on some Kryptonite to study it feels all the more nagging in the back of her mind, but she can tell there’s nothing to be gained from talking about with Kara at present.
“It sounds like a lot happened in our time apart,” Lena says, not knowing what else to say.
Kara answers with a soft sounding laugh, her head sliding over Lena’s shoulder. “Yeah and to top it all off, I spent a lot of time pining after some girl that left me in an airport years ago.”
It takes a second for Lena to register the comment, but when she does she makes an offended noise, reaching into the water to splash it into Kara’s laughing face.
“Hey,” Kara protests, indignantly shielding herself from Lena’s attack. “Unnecessary.”
Without much warning, Kara lifts up in the tub and turns around until she’s hovered over Lena, the water splashing violently around them and making Lena sputter into her laughter. “Are we done talking about sad stuff, yet?” Kara asks, floating above Lena’s body, half in the water and half out.
“Better idea?” Lena asks, brow arched pointedly and chin lifted in slight defiance.
Kara’s smile makes Lena’s body feel warm in the tepid water, heat increasing as Kara’s face moves in closer to her own. A beat of silence. “Have you ever seen the show Dogs with Jobs?” Kara asks, the comment so random Lena can only blink at her a moment.
“You want to go watch television?” Lena asks and Kara’s smirk does things to Lena’s stomach that has her brain feeling fuzzy.
“For now,” is the only answer Kara gives before sliding an arm under Lena’s waist and lifting them both out of the tub.
Lena can barely catch her breath. She feels like she just ran a marathon and then some. The air feels thin and hot and her entire body feels limp like it might pull straight through the mattress. Kara shuffles beside her, but Lena’s barely aware of the movement.
“That was...uh…” Lena feels at a loss for words and Kara chuckles, the sound a little self-conscious as she returns back to the sheets.
“Yeah?” Kara asks, running a hand over Lena’s stomach. The motion flutters something across the ache between Lena’s legs and lord if her body would only comply, she’d go again. Honestly, she’s not so sure her body won’t just comply anyway.
“Yeah,” Lena laughs, shifting over to press a kiss to Kara’s swollen lips. “Happy Valentine’s Day. Glad I bought that last minute gift.”
Kara returns the sound happily. “I like this holiday, it’s one of the good ones here.”
“I’m sure,” Lena says, her voice feeling thick and languid.
They hover near each other, Lena soaking in Kara’s warmth and feeling like if she closed her eyes she might sleep for a week.
Just as she’s about to drift off, she feels Kara move again, reaching for something nearby and when she opens her eyes, Kara’s sitting up in bed and scribbling something on a notepad.
“Kara?” Lena asks, reaching out to run her fingers across the play of muscles at Kara’s back. “What are you doing?”
“Sorry, I just have to get this down,” Kara mumbles, still writing.
Curiosity brings Lena to a sitting position and she peers over Kara’s shoulder at the paper. “Get what down?”
“I had an idea for an article and I don’t want to forget it.”
“An article?” Lena asks, unsure if her inability to follow this conversation is for lack of context or because Kara’d so effectively worked her over that her brain no longer operates at peak efficiency.
Kara hums, still focused on pen and paper. “I’m trying to write onto the school paper for next year.”
“Oh,” Lena says, the first she’s hearing of it. Curiosity satisfied, she falls back against her pillow. “That’s cool.”
A twinge of sadness twists in her gut at the reminder that Kara will be here at school next year and Lena...will not. But reporter seems like a good enough interest for Kara, who finds something to be curious about every day and has very little patience for meanness or lies. And it seems about right considering how many days her mother calls and mentions that pesky Clark Kent or Lois Lane beating down her door.
“Yeah, I have a bunch of good ideas,” Kara says, finally seeming to finish and throw her notepad back on the nearby desk.
“Yeah?” Lena asks, arching her brow. “Don’t tell me that’s what you were thinking about when we were…”
Lena makes a gesture between them as Kara turn backs toward her, and Kara looks so offended by the suggestion Lena nearly laughs.
“No, of course not,” Kara says, sliding until she’s half on top of Lena again. “Trust me, you had my full attention.”
Lena hooks her knee up to bracket Kara’s hip and bring them closer together. The damp, warm slide of their bodies giving her a renewed sense of energy. “Good to hear.”
“You need me to prove it to you?” Kara says, a hint of challenge in her voice that turns like liquid in Lena’s stomach.
“I wouldn’t be opposed,” she murmurs seconds before Kara captures her lips and robs her of any further thought.
The Spheerical event falls on a Thursday just before lunch and Kara meets her at L Corp so they can walk over together. The press credentials Lena’d acquired for Kara hang from a lanyard around her neck and she’s already holding a pad of paper in her hand scribbled with questions.
“Let me see that,” Lena says, trying to snatch it from Kara’s hands, but Kara’s much too quick and avoids the move.
“Hey, journalist working here,” Kara protests, stumbling exaggeratedly when Lena swats at her.
“I could probably help you with that,” Lena points out, but Kara shakes her head.
“You’re a biased party.”
“And you’re not?”
“I don’t even know Jack,” Kara grumbles, scratching something across the page in a hurried scribble that Lena can’t quite make out.
“That’s not what I meant.”
Kara shoots her an unimpressed look before flipping the cover of her notepad over to close it. “I’m a professional,” she mutters, and Lena is hopelessly endeared to the flush in her cheeks.
“Much more so than I am at the moment,” Lena admits, remembering again what they’re doing there – that she’s going to see Jack again after leaving him on a private runway in Metropolis over a year ago.
“Nervous?” Kara asks, softly and with an open expression that beats against Lena’s heart.
“I haven’t seen him in some time. And the last time I did, I was basically breaking up with him and getting on a plane to come here,” Lena says, and Kara snakes an arm around her waist, their bodies coming together warmly.
“He wouldn’t have invited you if he felt any kind of ill will or whatever,” Kara comments and Lena can hear the probability of that.
“It’s still weird.”
“Yeah,” Kara says, and then laughs. “But as someone that’s had experience in this exact situation on Jack’s side of things…”
As she realizes what Kara’s referring to, Lena stops walking. Suddenly enough that Kara stumbles with the effort to avoid yanking Lena forward and comes to a stop in front of her. “That’s different,” Lena says, crossing her arms and shooting Kara a pointed look.
Kara’s smile however is teasing, wide and playful. “How?”
Rolling her eyes, Lena can’t help but laugh at Kara’s expression, grateful for the way the exchange is at least calming her. “You know how.”
“Sure,” Kara replies with a shrug of her shoulder. “But you can say it anyway.”
“Yes, I could,” Lena says, moving to walk around Kara and continue down the path. “But I’m not going to.”
“You’re no fun,” Kara pouts, turning to catch up and walk in stride.
Lena scoffs, but a laugh curls around the sound. “You need to hear yet again how nothing in my life has ever compared to the way I feel about you?”
“Honestly?” Kara says, sounding suddenly more serious than before. Lena turns to look at her, heart beating solidly at Kara’s unwavering stare. “I could hear it every day and it probably wouldn’t be enough.”
It stops Lena again and she studies the blue of Kara’s eyes a moment. “Kara,” she breathes out.
“Life’s short, right?” Kara says, and Lena thinks that’s a ridiculous thing for a near-immortal to say, but there’s a lingering image of blood seeping from Kara’s stomach that has Lena’s throat tightening. “I want to make sure you know every day that I love you more than anyone.”
“I know that,” Lena says softly, wanting to reach out and touch Kara’s face, but mindful of the people milling about them on their way down the sidewalk. No one pays that much attention to them, but Lena’s self-conscious to a fault.
“Good,” Kara says, a satisfied nod at the answer.
Lena chews at her bottom lip. “Do you too?”
“Do I what too?”
“Know that I love you more than anyone,” Lena supplies, and Kara’s eyes take on a shade of blue that makes Lena want to press in close and skip this event all together.
“I do,” Kara says softly, her voice thick and smooth across Lena’s skin.
“Good,” Lena replies, and they share a smile for a long moment.
“You ready to go in now?” Kara asks, gesturing with a nod of her head towards the entrance plaza to the convention center they’d been heading too. Lena hadn’t realized just how close they’d gotten.
She laughs and nods, but before they turn to walk in she reaches out and circles Kara’s wrist with her hand, the metal of Kara’s bracelet bleeding into her palm. “Thanks,” she says quietly though she’s not even sure herself for what.
“For coming with you?” Kara suggests, putting her own hand over Lena’s and squeezing it warmly. “What are friends for?”
It makes Lena laugh again before she tugs Kara forward towards the double doored entrance.
The lobby is moderately busy, but they get checked in and through security easily enough. The invite list seems to have been kept small, only about half the seating available is filling up. Kara leads them down towards the front in search of seating, pulling her notebook out again in preparation.
As they’re scooting down a row to take two open seats, Kara stops abruptly. So suddenly, that Lena nearly goes colliding into her and only stops with a steadying hand on Kara’s forearm. “Kara, what the –”
“Wow,” she hears from just around Kara’s shoulder, and she turns her attention to see Snapper Carr taking a seat in front of them, a look of detached distaste so clearly written across his scowl. “They really let anyone into these things, don’t they?”
Lena recovers more quickly than Kara, and her gaze goes frosty. “She’s here with me,” she tells him, but his look of disdain only deepens when he looks over to her.
“I suppose trophy wife is certainly better than the implication that blogging qualifies for a press pass,” he says, his voice the kind of gravelly and unimpressed that makes Lena want to buy CatCo just to fire him.
“Excuse me?” Lena says, her spine straightening and venom pooling on her tongue before Kara’s hand on her wrist restrains her.
“Just let it go,” Kara says softly. “He’s not worth it.”
Lena’s not so sure of that. She’d like to have a few words with Kara’s arrogant former boss, but the lights start to dim in the auditorium and she doesn’t have a chance. They take a seat just as dramatic sounding music starts to play and a light show emanates from center stage.
A shadowy figure starts to stalk forward, and Lena can tell by the cadence of his walk that it’s Jack coming out under the giant projection screen. It makes her laugh a little under her breath – the drama of it all.
“Jeez, Jack,” she says quietly to herself, but she feels Kara’s shoulder shake in a shared chuckle.
“Do you think we’re allowed to look him in the eye?” Kara jokes out of the corner of her mouth and Lena smiles even as she elbows Kara softly.
Jack looks almost exactly like Lena remembers. His beard is a bit fuller than it had been and his suit a bit more shiny as if an indication of Spheerical’s recent successes, but the confident way he strides out onto the stage is familiar and his smile when he notices Lena in the crowd makes her throat feel thick.
His presentation starts simply enough. It’s oddly reminiscent of an early draft they’d made together – fantasizing about a day when the nanobots would be ready for a public unveiling. If she hadn’t already suspected that was what this entire event was for before, she’d certainly know now.
A wave of nostalgia crosses over her as he continues with his speech, boasting about how Spheerical Industries is propelling themselves into the future of medicine.
A woman begins to walk onto stage from Jack’s right and he turns to gesture towards her. “This is Beth Breen,” he introduces. “Our CFO.”
Beth holds a small sphere in her hands and she stands next to a small podium with a stage-smile. She’s unfamiliar to Lena, but she looks at Jack with an expression just one shade beyond professional. Idly, Lena wonders if this is a new flame of Jack’s and can’t help the way her stomach twists just the slightest at the thought.
“Now,” Jack says, as if to himself as he moves to the podium and picks up a knife sitting there. Lena’s brow furrows as she watches the video feed on the large screen and realizes what he’s about to do seconds before he’s sliding the knife across the surface of his hand.
The trail of blood is visible in the massive high def screen that hangs behind him and Lena’s a bit shocked his demonstration involves cutting himself open. It certainly serves for dramatic effect if anything.
Jack nods to Beth who opens the silver sphere in her hands and Lena watches as the nanobots she’d spent sleepless nights trying to perfect herself, fly out of the device and towards the open wound in Jack’s hand. The cut is healed flawlessly and the nanobots leave no evidence behind. Jack smiles to the crowd and shows his palm.
“What you’ve just witnessed,” he says, enunciating the words out to a captivated audience. “Is the fourth medical miracle…Biomax.”
Lena can’t help but feel both awed and impressed as Jack goes through his spiel. He catches her eye during it, his smile widening noticeably in a knowing sort of way that makes Lena press her lips together and shake her head.
She can’t believe he did it.
And without her.
Kara wasn’t wrong about that bit. It’s probably what’s striking her the most.
Something uncomfortable spikes up her spine – jealousy maybe? Regret? It’s hard to define, but it must be noticeable because Kara’s hand finds its way to her thigh and she’s got a questioning arch to her brow.
With a soft shake of her head and a smile she manages to divert Kara’s attention back to the stage and take back the reins of her emotions.
As Jack finishes his speech and the crowd erupts into applause he shares a smile with Lena and then his CFO, Beth who’s still standing to his side before putting his hands out in invitation to his audience. “I’m happy to answer any questions.”
To her surprise, Kara’s hand shoots up in the air so enthusiastically that even Jack looks a little taken aback. It’s likely the fact that he’d already been looking in Lena’s direction that makes his gaze stick to Kara, but whatever it is he sends a questioning look to Lena before calling on Kara.
“Hi, yes, Kara Danvers from um…” Kara stutters a glance towards Snapper, adjusts her glasses and Lena moves the toe of her shoe to tap against Kara’s – not sure if Kara can feel it, but it seems to settle her. “Kara Danvers dot com.”
Jack nods, his smile encouraging even if he still looks a bit baffled by Kara.
“Metropolis is Spheerical Industries’ principal place of business, and you’ve done the initial research and development of Biomax on that side of the country. What was your reasoning in launching the product here in National City?”
Lena doesn’t miss the way Jack’s eyes go back to Lena again before answering. “We’re a global company, Miss Danvers. And National City serves as a highly competitive area of technology and medicine. Many of the industry’s leaders are located here and we’d be foolish not to be a part of that.”
At the end of his answer, a chorus of his name resounds out around them as hands outstretch in hopes they can ask a question, but Kara stands where she is, undeterred.
“Yes, sorry, follow up, Jack,” Kara says firmly, stretching her hand out and silencing the other journalists around her. “You didn’t find the obstacle of FDA regulations for drug distribution across state lines to be cost ineffective?”
Jack manages to maintain his smile, even laughs softly. “FDA regulations aren’t an obstacle Miss Danvers. They’re the pillars of maintaining safety in our industry and here at Spheerical we are sure to abide by each and every one of them. We always factor in that cost regarding all of our products and the benefits of launching this product in this city were too numerous to ignore.”
“But why leave Metropolis where you’d have what some people might call a hometown advantage?” Kara continues, and Lena can’t decide if she’s proud of how professional and prepared Kara sounds or irked that her current girlfriend is very clearly grilling her former boyfriend in a public setting.
“Expansion sometimes requires risks,” Jack says, succinctly and before Kara can ask another question he very obviously turns his attention to another reporter and Lena reaches up to tug Kara back to her seat with a finger in the belt loop of her pants.
Obeying the pull, Kara settles back down as a journalist down the row starts to ask about distribution plans and pricing structures. Lena sends Kara a look, her smile a tad amused as Kara scribbles something down in her notebook. Kara looks at her a moment, returns the smile and shrugs a shoulder.
“He seems nice,” Kara murmurs, still smiling as she turns away.
Lena kicks at her leg just hard enough for Kara to maybe notice, but not so hard she breaks her toe.
After the presentation is concluded, they idle outside the auditorium for a bit and Kara scans over the notes she’s written down in her notebook. “How do you spell cauterize?” Kara murmurs as she scribbles something down and just as Lena opens her mouth to tell her, a voice rings out clear as day.
“Lena!” They both turn to see Jack approaching and Lena can’t help the way her stomach flips over in anticipation of seeing him, really seeing him, for the first time since she left him in that airport in Metropolis.
The irony of having Kara next to her does not escape her.
He runs a hand through his hair as he steps towards them and adjusts the button of his suit jacket. His smile never falters in that stalwart way he’d always had, the kind of unflappable demeanor that’d won Lena’s trust so early on in their relationship.
“Hi,” Lena breathes, returning his smile.
His eyes dart to Kara and then back to her. Kara, for her part, stays silent, though when Lena glances over she sees the critical look in Kara’s eyes.
“I’m so glad you came,” Jack says, pulling Lena’s attention.
“Of course,” she says, waving him off. “I wouldn’t have missed it.”
He gives her a little laugh that has her heart warming and next she knows he’s wrapping her up in a tight hug. When they come out of it, his eyes go obviously towards Kara in a way that has Lena shifting closer to her.
“Jack, this is Kara Danvers,” Lena introduces and considers how to qualify a moment before adding, “She’s one of the best reporters in National City.”
Jack’s smile is charming and only slightly practiced looking as he takes the hand Kara’s extended towards him. “Yes, I think I’d remember the reporter that grilled me during my one shining moment.”
Kara laughs, a little too loudly to sound real and Lena shoots her a look that smothers the sound slightly. “Just doing my due diligence,” Kara says, and Jack looks at least appeased by that.
The two of them do a fairly bad job of hiding the fact that they’re sizing each other up. Their handshake goes on a touch too long and Lena can tell by the way Jack’s forehead creases that Kara’s likely squeezing too hard.
It compels Lena to step forward a bit towards Jack and draw his attention.
“The presentation was great, Jack,” she says.
“Thank you,” Jack says, his hands drifting into his pockets and a small smile on his face. “I know it’s not quite your flavor, all the drama.”
“Cutting yourself open did seem a bit much,” Lena says, laughing a little.
“I think it all went perfectly,” Jack says. “No matter what my majority shareholder thinks. What about you, Miss Danvers? What’d you think?”
Before she can answer, Kara starts fumbling abruptly, shoving her notepad under one arm and digging in her bag until she’s pulling out her phone and looking at it with a crinkle in her brow.
“Sorry,” Kara says, glancing at them. “I have to take this.”
Without another word, she steps away and presses the phone to her ear. Lena follows her with her eyes for a moment before Jack’s drawing her attention back to him. “So you liked it?”
She smiles, resists the urge to keep looking at Kara. “I did.”
“Actually,” Jack says, with insistence.
“I actually liked it,” Lena says, rolling her eyes.
“Not the way your mother said she liked Hamilton,” Jack says.
“I found it enjoyable,” Lena says, in a slow, careful drawl meant to imitate her mother’s tepid response. Jack laughs loudly, and Lena can’t help but join him. A comfortable silence sinks in for a few moments as they regard each other, before a thought breaks in.
“So, tell me,” Lena says, crossing her arms over and all but glaring at Jack. “How did you finally crack it? The nano swarm.”
A crooked smile graces his lips, the kind that always felt just shy of ominous. “I’ll tell you at dinner,” he says, and she sighs, glances to where Kara’s talking on her phone off to the side.
“Jack,” she starts, but he interrupts, shifting closer.
“It’s been a long time, Lena,” he says, voice soft and warm. “I just want to catch up. The way we left things…”
They regard each other a moment, but before Lena can answer, Kara’s walking back up to them, pocketing her phone. “Hey, I have to go,” she says, brows pulling down and general expression making Lena forget almost entirely about Jack.
“What is it? Are you okay?” Lena says, arms uncrossing as she turns to face Kara.
“Yeah, no, it’s fine,” Kara says, her palm smoothing down Lena’s back and eyes darting to Jack. “Just – it’s Alex.”
That’s not the truth, Lena can tell that much, but she hears what Kara’s not saying. It’s likely Jack’s presence that requires the subterfuge. “Do you need me to –”
“No,” Kara says before Lena can finish. “You stay here, catch up. I’ll call you later.”
“Miss Danvers, it was nice to meet you,” Jack says, extending his hand for Kara to shake.
“Yeah,” Kara says, taking his hand with a smile that doesn’t quite meet her eyes. “Likewise.”
Concern has her circling her fingers over Kara’s wrist, but when Kara turns to her, her smile stretches into something much more genuine, soothing across Lena’s chest. “It’s fine,” Kara says subvocally. “I’ll see you later.”
“Be careful,” Lena murmurs when Kara darts forward to press a warm solid kiss to the corner of her mouth.
Kara nods, whispers a phrase in Kryptonian that makes Lena’s heart clench before she’s turning to pace away from them and Lena’s left with Jack.
Jack’s eyes are on Kara’s retreating form and she can see the inquisition in his expression, but she’s saved from any further conversation by another woman approaching to touch Jack at his elbow – Beth Breen, the CFO that had helped him on stage.
“Jack,” she says, with an irritatingly fake smile for Lena. “You should really spend some time with the investors.”
Lena arches a brow, is ready to inform this woman that technically he’s doing just that, but Jack must sense she’s gearing up for a fight because he steps between them with a smile for Lena.
“Duty calls,” he says. She waves him off, eyeing Beth as she follows after him like a lost puppy. Lena can remember the numerous times she had been the one at Jack’s side as they talked to investors and friends. It hadn’t even been that long ago, really.
Outside the giant glass windows of the conference center, Lena spots a familiar trail of blue and red fly by, zooming through downtown. It seems Kara’s sudden departure was Supergirl-related and Lena can’t help but feel worry thread its way up her spine.
With a final glance to where Jack is charming an older couple and they’re laughing, delighted, Lena turns to walk out the building marveling at how much her life has changed in the span of several months.
Lena leaves L Corp early that afternoon with a message for Jess that she’ll take calls from her home office and to forward her anything urgent that might come up. Kara hasn’t messaged her in a few hours, but Lena heads over to Kara’s anyway, content to soak in the comfortable atmosphere of the apartment after a strange day.
The only person who texts her over the next few hours, in fact, is Mon-El, who seems to be participating in some sort of trivia contest that he is woefully unprepared for.
She’s in the middle of answering his newest jumbled question - who is taxi driver and why - when Kara lands in the open balcony door with a little less finesse than usual.
“Hey,” Kara says, her voice soft. She looks tired, but she still smiles when she sees Lena ensconced on her couch.
“Hello,” Lena says, getting up from her seat and working her way around the couch. Kara kisses her hello, lifts her up into her arms. It’s a calm centering force that she needs, and she sinks into it. When she ducks her head into Kara’s shoulder though, she notices something a little off.
“Why do you smell like burnt fabric?” Lena asks, picking her head up, her fingertips running over the line of Kara’s jaw as her eyes search for the source of the smell.
“Did you fly through a fire?”
Kara’s hand captures Lena’s wandering one and holds it steady, but the laugh she lets out is anything but. “Oh, yeah, no biggie.” At Lena’s arched brow, Kara adds. “Just a warehouse fire over on Halmond.”
Blue eyes dart around so suspiciously it’s almost comical and Lena opens her palm to press it against Kara’s chest firmly enough to draw all of Kara’s attention. “Are you okay?”
“Of course,” Kara dismisses, looking squarely at Lena finally. “I’m Supergirl.”
It does nothing to assuage the small knot forming in her gut, but Lena decides not to press. Kara’s always been a little slower about processing things that upset her. Sometimes, those things are small, like how she could never quite nail questions on symbolism in her English classes. They’ve already talked about enough hard things this week, anyway.
Kara smiles, kisses her swiftly before murmuring, “One sec,” and speeding towards the bedroom. With a quick gust of air, she’s walking back towards Lena, changed into soft pajama pants and a loose sweater, her hair pulled back into a ponytail.
“Busy night?” Lena asks. “I was just about to order food.”
“Oh, thank Rao, I’m starving,” Kara says, reaching into her fridge for a water bottle. “And yeah. National City is safe and sound though.”
“My hero,” Lena says. Kara’s lips quirk up in a small smile, but it drifts away just as soon as it appeared as Kara sets her water down.
“Hey, do you think Jack would let me interview him?”
It’s a somewhat unnerving question, one that Lena can’t quite track. But she considers it anyway.
“I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to ask,” Lena replies, observing Kara critically. “Why?”
Kara shrugs. “I think you were right. Biomax could make a good story for my blog.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah,” Kara says, sliding onto a stool at the kitchen counter and pulling her phone out. “What are we ordering for dinner?”
There’s something off about Kara’s demeanor that Lena can’t decipher, but she tries to dismiss it for the moment. “I’m fine with whatever,” she answers. Kara seems to settle down once they get on the couch and press up against each other, watching some more of Dogs With Jobs. But Lena can’t help but feel like she’s missing something anyway, even after they head to bed.
Lena has barely settled in at her desk the next morning before Lana is bursting through the doors to her office.
“I’ve got something,” Lana says, carrying a tablet and a very large cup of coffee in her other hand. “Do you have time?”
“Not many people are interested in meeting at seven in the morning,” Lena says, eyeing Lana as she drops into the seat across from Lena. “Which cup is that this morning?”
“Morning is relative,” Lana says, waving away the concern, before she drops the tablet on Lena’s side of the desk.
Lana’s got a spreadsheet open on one tab and clicks to a map on another. “So, I’ve got a lead on one of Lex’s vaults. An old trainyard Luthor Corp used to own forever ago before we started shipping in our own jets.”
“Do we still own it?” Lena asks, looking at the information on her screen and trying to remember the property.
“Not technically. It was sold about five years ago to another corporation.” Lana reaches forward to bring up an image of the bill of sale.
It’s apparent immediately what’s caught Lana’s attention. The buyer listed reads Ignatius Inc.
“Could be a coincidence,” Lana says, and Lena’s lips go thin. “But I thought I remember Lex once mentioning -”
“I’d like to say my brother isn’t dumb enough to name a shell corporation after his childhood pet, but he’s surprised me with his idiocy before,” Lena says dryly, handing the tablet back to Lena.
“It’s worth further investigation at least,” Lana says, and Lena agrees with a nod. She thinks for a second that she wants to go right now - to abandon her workday and track it down, to see if there are any weapons that she can pull apart and learn how to counter. A secret stash of Kryptonite or at least the same formula Cadmus had been using to create their own.
Lana is looking crazed enough in the eyes that she might agree.
“I’ll look it over,” Lena says, slowly, trying to talk herself off the ledge. Lana nods easily enough.
“Maybe we can patch Supergirl in, since you two are best buds,” Lana says, sipping at her coffee. “I’m sure she’d like to take a look.”
“I’m sure she would,” Lena says, knowing perfectly well that she’d die sooner than let Kara anywhere near another of Lex’s vaults. They’re surely somehow booby trapped against any Kryptonians entering. The memory of Kara in agony from one of Lex’s grenades spikes through her mind.
“Well I’m happy to go over there, get a team together or something,” Lana says, the hyper look in her eye doing wonders to calm Lena’s own exhilaration.
“I’ll look it over,” Lena repeats, this time slow and forceful enough that Lana backs off.
“Right, yeah, of course, boss,” she says, taking a maniacal looking sip of her coffee. “Just here if you need me.”
“I appreciate the help, Lana,” Lena says, reaching across to slap at the fingers Lana’s start to tap rapidly against her desk. “When’s the last time you slept?”
“I sleep,” Lana defends, the lie so loud Lena laughs.
“Do I need to order you to go home and get some rest?”
Lana glares at her. “And to think I was going to share my coffee with you.”
Lena eyes the cup in her hand skeptically. “Is there even any left in there?”
“There could be,” Lana retorts, indignant for a moment before they both share a laugh.
As if summoned by their conversation, one of her junior assistants, Hector, opens the door to her office and upon being waved forward by Lena, deposits her own coffee order on her desk. “Thank you, Hector,” she murmurs, taking the cup gratefully.
Lana smiles at him as he goes, leaning against Lena’s desk and waiting until the doors close again to speak.
“So, in other news, I saw that fancy press conference Spheer had for his nanobots,” Lana says, casual as can be. Lena glances up to find her still primly sipping coffee. But she knows Lana knows about her and Jack. “Weird that he filed the IP here.”
“Maybe Metropolis is no longer the City of Tomorrow,” Lena says. Lana snorts.
“Or maybe he wanted to chase down his ex-girlfriend completely unaware of how she’s moved on,” Lana says. “We’ve all been there.”
“You should go sleep that off,” Lena says, gesturing at Lana’s cup of coffee. “It’s seven in the morning and you’re already saying absurd things.”
“I’m not sure it’d even be safe for me to sleep,” Lana says, but she stands up anyway. “Keep me updated about the vaults. And good luck getting Spheer off your tail.”
“Thanks,” Lena says, and she even sort of means it.
Hours later, the door to her office opens gently – she’s only aware of it in her periphery as she stays focused on the report in front of her. In her distraction, she assumes it’s Hector again, likely seeking out her lunch order or informing her of a change in her schedule. “Hector, can you move my afternoon appointments to the morning and cancel my dinner plans?”
“That’s disappointing.” The low calm tone of Jacks’ voice tugs her attention upward and she can’t help the way her lips turn upward at the image of him sauntering into her office. His hands have traveled to his pockets and his expression is nothing short of teasing.
“You’re not my assistant,” she points out and he laughs a bit.
“Can’t get anything past you, can I?”
“And you don’t have an appointment,” she adds, already sighing at her busy day getting even more derailed.
“Too true,” he says, taking his time crossing the floor towards her desk. He lingers by her cabinet, inspects the tulips there. Kara had dropped them off a few days ago, talking about how she had bought them off a farmer in the Netherlands. “But I was hoping to get one.”
Lena’s eyes narrow. “How did you get past Hector?”
He turns to her, shrugs a shoulder. “No one’s beyond a snack break,” he says simply, and she can’t help but smile.
“I’m not trying to be rude, Jack. I really am very busy. It’s not a brush off.”
“I know, I know,” he says with his hands up as takes a seat at her desk chair. “I won’t be long.”
It’s clearly just as futile at deterring Jack on a mission as it was before, so she closes her laptop and sits back in her chair, gesturing with a hand for him to get on with it.
“I think you should have dinner with me,” he says. It whisks a brief memory of their early friendship through her chest. But it also settles unease in her stomach. “I keep asking, but you keep managing not to answer.”
“I told you I needed to - ”
“Check your schedule, yeah, yeah,” he says, waving the excuse off. “I think you should make room for the occasion.”
“And why is that?” Lena asks, only slightly wary of his intentions. Maybe it’s Lana’s implication he’s here to chase after her that has her so suspicious.
“I think we should talk,” Jack says. Lena sighs, flipping some papers around on her desk before glancing up at him again.
“I don’t like how things ended with us,” Jack says, matter-of-fact. It drops something in Lena’s stomach that has her sitting up a bit straighter.
“I’m sorry,” is all she can think to say and it’s not insincere. Their parting was abrupt in some ways, and lacked any kind of real closure. Lena picked up and moved to National City and that was that. And Lena knows that the separation was decidedly different for her than for him, but all the same - it was what it was. All she has left for Jack are apologies.
“Then have dinner with me,” he entreats, a smile on his face that Lena’d always found insufferably charming.
“And talk about the details of our breakup?” Lena asks. Jack rolls his eyes, grin firmly on his face.
“No, of course not,” Jack says. “I would never expect you to talk about your feelings. I want to mend things. Nothing nefarious.”
She really isn’t quite sure she believes him, with the way he’s still smiling.
“I really am very busy, Jack,” Lena says with an apologetic lilt to her tone.
“Certainly not so busy you’re skipping meals again.”
Lena laughs, thinks of late nights in the Metropolis labs when Jack would show up with take-out. She can feel her resistance slipping away under the weight of Jack’s charm. “I suppose not.”
“The concierge at my hotel recommended a great place not too far away,” he says and Lena waves off the rest of his invitation.
“Fine, fine, dinner tonight, just text me the address.”
His smile widens and makes Lena want to throw her phone at his head – affectionately.
They’re out to dinner a restaurant they’ve frequented in their years of knowing each other. It’s situated almost exactly midway between Luthor Tower and Spheerical’s downtown offices which has always made it a perfect meeting spot for late night drinks or quick dinners.
Jack’s excitedly talking about some breakthrough he’s had that day in the labs, but Lena’s hardly paying attention. All she can think about is the decision she’d made earlier that day - the board meeting that had finalized Luthor Corp’s big move to National City and the first step in a new rebranding tour.
She has to tell Jack. She doesn’t want him to read about it in the morning or hear it from anyone else. She has to tell Jack, but when faced with the reality of doing so, of knowing she’s going to take that happy smile right off his face, she finds herself reticent.
“Lena, are you alright, love?” Jack asks, clearly having picked up on her mood. He’s leaned over the table towards her, concern etched into his dark features.
Lena blinks at him, brought back to the present moment and her words drop out of her unceremoniously. “I’m moving.”
Jack looks...not surprised...but still a tad taken aback. His smile feels fragile. “I’m sorry?”
“I’m moving,” she repeats, clearing her throat and reaching for her wine. “To National City.”
“You’re moving to National City,” Jack states.
He looks unsure of what to say. “Why?”
“It’s the right thing to do,” Lena says. “For Luthor Corp. I’m thinking of renaming it actually. Having a fresh start in a new city.”
“So you’re moving headquarters?” Jack asks, confusion on his brow. “And you’re moving?”
“The CEO generally moves with the headquarters, yes,” Lena says. “Or at least, that’s what I’ve gathered.”
“You accepted the position?” Jack asks. “Why?”
“It’s not as if I had much choice,” Lena says.
“You have a choice,” Jack says. “You’ve always had choices. And now - I hadn’t realized moving the company was even on the table.”
“The board met this morning to discuss it,” Lena says. “It’s certainly not ideal - we’ll have to outfit the Luthor Corp building in National City with new labs and new meeting rooms, transition leadership here into new roles. And rebranding will certainly cost millions in logo reprints.”
Jack eyes her through the whole list, his eyes somewhat sad. His fingers swirl the base of his wine glass as he considers her.
“And you’ll be moving,” Jack says, and then leans back in his seat. “What about your involvement with Spheerical?”
It feels like a more loaded question than it sounds. Lena picks through her answer.
“Well, I’ll obviously have to scale back,” Lena says. “But we knew that anyway, right? I was going to be picking up a higher workload no matter what.”
“What about me?” Jack asks, his voice quiet. Lena has almost no response for that. In all her thoughts about telling Jack, she had never thought about next steps - she had thought she would tell him, and that would be that.
“What do you mean?” Lena asks. Jack sighs, reaching for his wine glass and looking up at the ceiling.
“Right,” Jack says. His voice cracks. “You’ve thought about changing the letterhead but not about your personal life. It’s very like you.”
“Jack,” Lena says, reaching out to touch his shoulder. He flinches visibly enough that Lena pulls her hand back almost immediately.
“You always had one foot out the door anyway,” he says, a mixture of sadness and something bitter in the tone. It curls a thread of guilt around her ribcage. It was one of those things they didn’t talk about, and here it was in front of them.
“What does that mean?” Lena asks, glancing around them.
“I would venture that you know what it means,” Jack says. “You’re a genius.”
“Jack - ”
“When do you leave?” He asks, a smile on his face she can tell is forced, but the way he takes a deep breath and tries for it swells an affection for him that Lena doesn’t tries to quell. “Need any help packing?”
It’s been mostly radio silence from Kara that afternoon – something Lena’s trying not to take personally. It’s unusual for Kara not to check in near constantly even if it’s to text Lena some odd picture of a dog she’d seen that day or whatever she’s eating for lunch. Lena’d become almost dependent on the frivolous texting throughout her day though she’d never admit it.
A part of her that’s hard to quell drags her brain to the worst scenarios first – Kara’s in another dimension again, fighting some unstoppable evil, unconscious as the result of some new alien threat. Anxiety spikes on the heels of her spiraling thoughts until she knows she won’t be able to focus on anything if she doesn’t talk to Kara.
It takes no more than two rings before Kara’s answering her call with a breathless sounding, “Hey.”
“Hi,” Lena says, calming considerably just from hearing Kara’s voice, but feeling suddenly foolish at the desperation she’d felt before. “What are you doing?”
“Uh,” Kara says, sounding oddly suspicious out of nowhere. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” Lena asks, skeptical.
“Supergirl stuff,” she clarifies as if that means anything.
“Okay,” Lena draws out, part out of confusion and part out of scrambling for a good sounding reason for this call. “Well, I just wanted you to know that Jack asked me to dinner tonight.”
The line is silent for a beat before she adds, “And that I’m going to go.”
“Why?” Kara asks immediately, almost sounding strained.
“To catch up,” Lena says, feeling herself get defensive at the tone in Kara’s voice. “We haven’t seen each other in a long time and he’s an old friend.”
There must be something in the way she says it because she can almost hear Kara wincing across the line. “I know, I know, sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”
“You okay?” Lena asks, a sense of unease wafting down the line that’s hard to ignore.
“Yeah, just…” Kara’s pause does nothing to sooth Lena’s apprehension. “Sorry, I’m just distracted. I’ve been investigating something and it hasn’t been going well.”
“Investigating what?” Lena asks, curious that it’s the first she’s heard of it.
Kara’s quiet again. “I can’t really tell you yet,” she says and Lena stamps down a wave of indignation. Enough to resist insisting Kara tell her regardless. Something grates at her at being kept in the dark.
“Okay,” Lena says instead, a displeased line to her lips. Kara’s allowed her secrets, same as she.
Silence stretches and Lena forces herself to change moods. “Anything I can help you with?”
“I’ll definitely let you know if you can,” Kara says in a soft affectionate voice that assuages some of Lena’s anxiety. “So, you’re going to dinner with Jack.”
“Where are you going?”
“Why, trying to crash my date?” Lena jokes and Kara makes a sputtering sounding scoff that makes Lena smile.
“No, of course not. I’m just wondering.”
“I’m not sure. Jack picked the place and he hasn’t told me yet.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
Lena laughs. “I don’t think that’s what Jack has in mind.”
“Well I’m not sure I love what Jack might have in mind,” Kara says, a bit grumbly. It’s petty and a tad childish, but Lena feels an inappropriate flutter under her ribs.
“He’s harmless,” Lena tells her and Kara makes a noise that sounds like she disagrees, but has no other further comment.
“Text me where you’re going just in case?” Kara asks.
“Of course,” Lena says, conceding to the gentle pleading in Kara’s voice. “I love you. Good luck with all your Supergirl stuff.”
“Thanks, I love you too,” Kara says, the words warm and rich across Lena’s ears. “Have fun. But not too much fun. A medium amount of fun.”
The restaurant Jack picks isn’t far from where Lena lives - which makes it easier to refuse Jack’s insistence on picking her up or sending a car over. Instead, she has her own driver take her the few blocks over and meets Jack in the front entryway only a minute early.
“You look lovely,” he greets in a soft murmur, pressing forward for a swift, friendly kiss to her cheek.
She smiles at him, and moves a more respectable distance away from him and allows him to take the lead with the host.
They’re escorted to a table towards the back and Lena feels a wave of nostalgia as Jack pulls her chair out for her and smoothly orders a bottle of wine when the server greets them. They share a smile and exchange pleasantries until the wine arrives.
It’s familiar and warm to be back with Jack after so long. Lena had always considered him a friend even before they ever became romantically entangled and she’s missed him, truth be told. He’s funny and smart and he understands some of her work in a way few others ever have.
“This is nice,” Jack comments, pouring more wine into Lena’s glass.
“Are you trying to get me to say this was a good idea?” Lena teases, knowing she’s caught him fishing for just that.
“Still hard to admit when I’m right, isn’t it?”
She takes a sip of her wine, but shakes her head at him with a laugh that’s half exasperated, half fond. “I’ll admit it’s good to see you. It’s been a long time.”
“It has,” Jack agrees. His drift down her body a moment - not too far to be suggestive, but Lena straightens under the scrutiny nonetheless. “You look great,” he says. “Have I already said that?” He has, of course, but she allows the compliment regardless. The dress she’s wearing is an old one she hasn’t worn since Metropolis and she can’t deny the slightest twinge of satisfaction knowing she can still rock it.
“You look the same,” Lena replies in an overly dry fashion she know will make him smile. Her brow lifts at the end of it and she can’t stop her lips from quirking up. It makes him laugh.
“I suppose you’re still the same Lena I remember as well,” he adds, picking his glass up and sitting back in his chair. His brow quirks. “Though you’ve gone all corporate now.”
“As if you’re one to talk,” Lena replies, taking a sip of her wine.
“I was already very corporate when you met me. I wasn’t the one that hibernated in her lab for weeks at a time mocking anyone that would dare pick a cushy tower office job.”
“It’s not as if I picked this job,” she points out. Jack had been there, after all, the day Lex was arrested. As well as the day Lena’d decided to assume her position in Luthor Corp. She imagines it’d be hard for Jack to forget that day - it was the same one she’d decided to change the name of her family’s company, to move it across the country and to leave Jack in Metropolis. She can still hear his shocked you’re taking the position clear as day.
“You’re always saying that,” Jack says, voice soft. “Listen, Lena - ”
Jack’s attention gets drawn away by a laugh at the front door that Lena finds herself recognizing a second before she turns to take in the sight of Kara and Mon-El arm in arm strolling towards them with the fakest look of innocence she’s ever seen.
“Whoa, Lena, hey,” Mon-El says, sounding like Kara’d coached him to say that. “Are you guys eating here?!”
Kara laughs through an exclaimed, “Oh my God, so random, we’re eating here.” It’s so ridiculous sounding that Lena almost laughs.
“We are,” Mon-El adds emphatically and Lena doesn’t know what to do apart from blink at the two of them. When she’d suggested Kara was planning on crashing her dinner she’d been joking.
“What a complete and utter coincidence,” she says through her teeth, tilting her head at Kara in as much of a what the fuck as she can muster.
At the very least, Kara reacts to that, her smile faltering for just a moment before Jack pulls her attention with, “Miss Danvers, so nice to see you again.”
“Oh, call me Kara,” she says, adjusting her glasses before taking his hand. “And this is my friend Mike,” she adds, careful emphasis on the name as if trying to remind Mon-El of his moniker.
Mon-El steps forward on the cue and takes Jack’s hand. “Yes, Mike, I am Mike.”
Jack, for his part, doesn’t seem jolted by the sudden interruption, just smiles charmingly at Mon-El and makes an exaggerated tsk sound. “You know, I explicitly asked that I be the handsomest guy in the restaurant tonight.”
Mon-El laughs loudly, a pleased smile as he turns to Lena and points at Jack. “I like this guy.”
Before Lena can say anything, Kara’s coming around to her side, her hand brushing over Lena’s shoulder as she pulls out a seat next to her. “You don’t mind if we join you, do you?”
“Oh yeah,” Mon-El says, releasing Jack’s hand and mimicking Kara’s movements to pull out an open chair. “I’ll sit here.”
Lena furrows her brow and attempts to deliver a glare at both of them, but it doesn’t seem to work as Kara takes her seat and leans to the side to press a quick kiss to Lena’s cheek.
“What are you doing?” Lena whispers through thin lips the moment Kara comes close to her.
“Kissing you hello?” Kara answers, equally as soft. It doesn’t fool Lena one bit, but her cheek warms the slightest. From the corner of her eye, she sees Jack eyeing them with interest.
“Oh, sorry, should I have done the kiss too?” Mon-El asks, scrambling up from his seat. Kara pulls him back down hard enough that Mon-El yelps.
At least Jack looks semi-amused by the whole thing, his eyes bouncing from Lena to Kara to Mon-El. He was never disturbed by much, really. It was one of the things that had made him likeable to Lena.
“Can I look at the menu?” Mon-El asks. Lena rolls her eyes and hands him her menu, but Kara is already sitting about as far forward in her chair as one can without falling off it, her eyes trained on Jack.
“So, Jack, how’s the Biomax rollout going?” Kara asks, sitting forward at the table.
Jack’s leaned back in his chair, his fingers twisting together casually. “Trying to get me in your crosshairs?”
“A reporter’s job is never done,” Kara replies with a cheeky looking smile that has Lena pressing her toe against Kara’s calf in warning.
“I can respect that,” Jack says with a friendly chuckle. He reaches for his wine. “It’s going wonderfully so far, but surely there are more interesting things to talk about.”
“I disagree,” Kara says, the amicable curve to her voice dipping slightly. “I’m so curious as to how you knew it was ready. Did you do any trials? Human trials, maybe?”
“Kara,” Lena censures softly, her brow dipping at this sudden accusation she can sense in Kara’s line of questioning.
“It’s all public record if you’re really that curious,” Jack answers, shrugging and amused tilt to the corner of his mouth when he glances at Lena.
The curiosity Lena feels is undeniable, though it’s seemingly very different from the angle Kara’s approaching from. It feels like her brain has been idly attempting to figure out how Jack solved the nanobot problem ever since she realized he did. “How did you solve it?” she asks, unable to help herself.
“Is that why you agreed to have dinner with me?” Jack asks, brow arched.
Lena observes him a moment, lips thin as she truthfully admits, “Not entirely.”
He accepts that with a soft amused sound. “Well, I suppose you deserve some answer,” he says, and she lifts her chin with a smile. “A few months after you left, I stayed up all night just…thinking. And when the sun came up, I saw a flock of starlings fly by. In perfect harmony, completely in sync.”
His eyes go soft at this part and Lena feels her throat go thick, her heart tight at the look on Jack’s face and the feeling of Kara shifting beside her. “I had a realization in that moment,” he continues, his eyes darting to Kara for a brief second. “We’d been modeling the nano swarm after the wrong animal. Bees need a base, a queen to revolve around. We’d been trying to make a nanobot into a queen by programming a protective algorithm, but…”
It hits Lena in an instant as he’s talking and she can’t help but sit forward with the joy of something clicking perfectly in her head. “Oh my god, murmuration.”
Jack’s smile goes wide and he sits up towards her. A connection between them that’d always been there goes taut. “Yeah,” he replies, nodding in an encouraging manner.
“The nano swarm, it migrates,” she says, somehow not believing she couldn’t see this years ago. “It’s linked AI sentience.”
“It’s all controlled through the Spheerical lab mainframe,” he says, and they’ve shifted so close their feet bump into each other. It jolts Lena back a bit, but she can’t fight the breathless feeling of solving a problem she’d long thought unsolvable. “I would never have gotten there if…”
The end of that seems obvious, it hangs in the air between them and pushes Lena back into her chair, a flush creeping up her neck.
“Well,” Kara says, pulling her completely out of the moment and Lena doesn’t know what to feel at that point. “That’s a great story.”
“Thank you,” Jack says with a humble nod of his head. “But I didn’t come here to talk business.”
It’s delivered with a look for Lena that makes her take a breath as Kara sits forward.
“What did you come here for?” Kara asks, frosty enough that Lena’s hand travels to Kara’s thigh.
Jack’s smile is warm but reserved and his eyes glide to Lena with a shrug of his shoulder. “To reconnect with an old friend, I suppose.”
“Interesting,” Mon-El says, his tone so cold that even Kara is surprised by it, her face sinking into a frown as she looks over at him. He seems to be affecting his heaviest glare at Jack. “Have you ever tried boxing?”
Lena decides to distract Jack from whatever that line of questioning is before Mon-El can get going on it.
“I’m just…so impressed that you finally solved it,” Lena says, with as friendly a smile as possible.
“And pissed I did it without you,” Jack adds with the same knowing tease Kara had in her voice when she’d said the same thing.
Lena laughs, acknowledges the truth again with a shrug of her shoulder and reaches for her wine glass, taking a sip.
“We should probably go,” Kara says, standing so abruptly that Lena jerks back a bit in response.
Jack sends Lena a quizzical look before turning it to Kara and standing with her. “You haven’t even ordered,” he points out, but Kara waves him off.
“I just remembered that I hate everything on the menu here,” she says as if that’s believable, but before Lena can interject, Mon-El is standing too and pulling Jack into a tight hug with little preamble.
“Kara, what the hell?” Lena says under her breath as Mon-El speaks to Jack. Kara comes close and presses a kiss to Lena’s cheek, her palm warm on Lena’s arm.
“Sorry, sorry, I’ll explain later, I promise,” Kara says, gripping briefly at the watch on Lena’s wrist. “I promise.”
“You better,” Lena says, before Kara is turning to shake Jack’s hand. Mon-El wraps his arms around her tightly, muttering something about the dueling conventions that she barely tracks, before they’re both off and away, out the door of the restaurant. Lena sees for a second, Mon-El turning and saying something heated to Kara and Kara waving it away, and then Jack distracts her.
“That was something,” Jack says, eyebrows raised.
“Sorry,” she says. “I’m not sure what that was.”
Jack’s lips thin with amusement. “I can venture a guess," he says. "You and Kara are…”
“Yes, we are,” she answers simply even though she knows he doesn't really need an answer. It's obvious enough, she's sure. Jack barely reacts to her confirmation nor to the fact that she's unable to stop the way her face reacts when she says it, her slight smile echoing the pleasant warmth she feels in her chest.
A look of consideration sits on Jack’s face a moment. “She’s the college ex, isn’t she? The one you’d never talk about.”
It still goes against instincts to confirm that. Lena’s not sure why, but she feels protective over the knowledge. Nonetheless, a small part of her feels she owes Jack this much. “She is,” she says softly, adjusting the napkin on her lap and fiddling with her watch. “What gave it away?”
“Your face,” Jack tells her and before she can unpack what he means, the waiter is back to take their dinner orders.
The rest of the dinner is uneventful. They discuss the nanobots again, Jack goes in deeper as to what makes them tick and how the mainframe works in controlling them. He talks about marketing strategies and large scale plans for distribution. Lena offers her two cents when appropriate and it almost feels like they’d never separated.
It’s friendly and warm and Lena’s suddenly very grateful she’d decided to take Jack up on his offer for dinner.
As they pay the check - Jack arguing with her over paying the bill for a good five minutes before she relents - and polish off the wine, Jack observes her a moment. “Well, we’ve had dinner and wine,” he says. “Surely post-dinner drinks are in order.”
Lena pauses, remembering how their routine used to go. Jack would pour them scotch at her apartment and they’d break down their days, eventually falling asleep together. It’s clear enough that Jack is remembering the same thing.
“I’m sure I have something aged and expensive in my office,” Lena offers, feeling more comfortable with that setting than her home.
Jack laughs and takes the change of venue in stride. “Spoken like a true Luthor,” he says and Lena can’t help but smile.
L Corp is thankfully empty when they arrive and they’re able to get to Lena’s office with little fanfare. She walks over to the small wet bar she keeps there and pours them both two fingers of brandy. It reminds her of late night celebrations in the Metropolis office when she and Jack would sneak into Lex’s office and drink his liquor.
“I forgot to mention how nice this office is when I was here last,” Jack says and Lena can hear a hint of mockery in Jack’s voice. “So fresh. So clean.”
“I’m sorry that it’s not quite the pigsty you’re used to,” Lena says, rolling her eyes. Jack laughs.
“You even have a balcony! Where do you keep the blowtorches?” Jack asks.
“You’ll find out if you keep on this track,” Lena says, and Jack laughs even harder, taking a sip of his brandy and glancing outside. Silence slips over them, comfortable and warm. But Jack interrupts it after a few moments.
“I must confess, I haven’t been completely honest with you,” Jack says, setting his glass down before his hands retreat to his pockets.
Setting her own drink down as well, Lena crosses her arms over her chest defensively, a spike of fear at what Jack could possibly be referring to. He must notice her reaction because he pulls his hands out of his pockets and puts them up as if asserting his innocence.
“Nothing bad,” he clarifies. “Just…” He laughs. “I suppose I haven’t been clear about my intentions as to dinner and after seeing the lovely Miss Danvers show up so suddenly, I feel it’s only right to come clean.”
It occurs to her quite easily what he’s trying to say and while she absolutely could have seen this coming, she’d been hoping it never would. “Jack,” she sighs, dropping her arms, but moving behind her desk just to put something between them and stop the obvious path he was about to take towards her.
“Hear me out,” he pleads, stepping forward nonetheless to prop his hands on the edge of her desk across from her.
There’s nothing he could really say to her that she’d find persuasive, but she supposes she owes him this much. A conversation she never allowed him to have when she was breaking up with him.
“Fine,” she says, clipping the word with a raise of her chin.
“I came to National City because I want you back,” he says plainly and though she’d been expecting it, it still hits into her chest like a shock. “And I think you should consider it.”
She lets silence extend between them for a moment, gives the words some gravity as she observes him before letting out a long exhale. “Is that all you have to say?”
A look of discouragement flashes on Jack’s face, but he straightens and finds some determination from somewhere. “If distance is the problem,” he starts and she scoffs.
“That’s clearly not the problem,” she says, wondering if maybe he’s hit his head and forgotten the girlfriend he’s met now twice.
“But it was,” he argues. “Before Kara became part of the picture.”
She’s not sure how to tell him that Kara was always part of the picture and that breaking up with him wasn’t so much about distance and more about...things she’s not sure she wants to tell him. How she had tried very hard to love him and it had never been anything close to what she felt for a girl she hadn’t seen in years. How being with him had been more like a performance with a friend instead of a relationship.
“All the same,” Lena says, letting him get by with whatever he wants to think. “She is a part of the picture.”
“Yes, and she’s lovely,” Jack says, his hands raised in a wait-wait-don’t shoot pose. “But a bit scattered. And, well, a bit rude.”
“Are you really going to attempt to argue your way into breaking up my relationship?” Lena asks, reaching up to rub the bridge of her nose, feeling a headache coming on.
“I let you go once, and I’ve regretted it every day since,” Jack says, and she can hear how serious he is. “I love you, Lena. I have to try.”
Lena lets out a soft breath, is unsure how to avoid hurting him. “And so you have,” she says quietly, chewing her bottom lip when he winces.
“Look, I understand why you had to leave Metropolis, why you had to come and take on this company and do it on your own. I might not have understood it then, but I get it now.”
“I’m glad,” she says, hoping that’s the end of it, but from the look on his face she knows it’s not.
“I don’t want you to have to do this alone anymore.”
She barely stops the incredulous laugh that wants to bark out of her. “I’m not alone,” she tells him, marveling at how true she realizes that is.
“I get that you two have history,” Jack starts and Lena halts his words with a raise of her hand.
“Don’t talk about something you know nothing about,” she tells him, voice cold.
He reacts to that, straightening. “Fine,” he says, clearly set on arguing his point. “I’ll tell you what I do know. I know Kara Danvers got fired a month ago from CatCo Worldwide for breach of contract. I know that she’s been leaking L Corp information on her blog. I know she’s now disappeared twice, quite randomly, in my presence and if you ask me, seems flaky...at best.”
Setting aside the fact that Jack seems to know a lot more about Kara than he’s let on, Lena puts as much anger into her expression as she can. “You don’t know the first thing about her,” she says.
Jack doesn't so much as flinch under her glare and Lena shouldn’t be surprised - he’d never really cowed to her moods, angry or otherwise. “I just think you should weigh your options here, Lena. We’re both at different places in our lives and I think I’m due some consideration.”
What she’d like to do is throw her computer at his face, but she squashes the urge and tries to end this conversation as gracefully as possible. “I’m going to tell you this once and that needs to be the end of it,” she says, locking eyes with him. “As long as Kara is in my life, there is nothing else to consider. Period.”
He looks as if to argue further and she stops him again, palm outstretched. “Please stop,” she says, soft and pleading. “Before there’s nothing left here to salvage between us.”
That finally stops him, his posture leaking of fervor. “So it’s really that serious,” he says softly.
“You’d throw away all we had, all we could have, for some college girlfriend you hadn’t seen in four years?”
“You don’t understand,” she says, shaking her head and wondering if she should just press the button on her watch. Maybe Kara’d do a better job at explaining this. Internally, Lena winces at the thought. Kara would probably just punch first, ask questions later.
“I understand that you’re throwing away a chance at something real for a girl that can barely stick around for dinner, much less -”
“Jack, we’re practically married,” Lena finally says, seemingly incapable of finding a better way of saying it.
Shock crosses Jack’s face and his eyes dart so obviously to Lena’s left hand that she clenches it in a fist. “You’re what?”
“It’s a long story,” she says, kicking herself for saying it like that - no matter how true it feels.
A long silence stretches between them before he speaks again. “Well,” he says, a bitter sounding laugh dropping out of him. “I see things are a lot different than I expected.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” she says, knowing it comes out sounding insincere, but not correcting it. She’s not really sorry, more irritated at the direction the night had taken.
He looks at her, a sad expression that ebbs some of her anger away. “Can I just ask you why? Why her and not me?”
“I don’t owe you an explanation,” Lena says, voice tight. The audacity of him forcing her to defend Kara and their relationship from attack has made her feel irrational - like maybe she’s finally understanding why Mon-El constantly blabbers on about dueling conventions and mating rights.
“You don’t,” Jack agrees, all his earlier bluster gone from his voice and body language. “But I’m asking nonetheless. Consider it a selfish request from an old friend.”
Lena sighs, tries to find the parts of her that do truly love this man - who has done nothing wrong but fall in love with someone that’s cosmically unavailable. “I love you, Jack,” she starts, but it doesn’t seem to give him any hope, his frown dipping further. “I’m not going to pretend otherwise.”
He nods slowly, listening.
“It’s just...it’s not the same,” she says. “I can’t give you what you want. I couldn’t when we were in Metropolis and I certainly can’t now. It’s Kara. That’s just...how it is.”
He sighs, his face soft and resigned. “Well,” he says, hands at his hips as he makes a show of puffing his chest out. “I feel quite the fool.”
“I don’t want to lose your friendship,” she says suddenly, feeling foolish for saying it herself.
He laughs a little, smiles at her though the expression falls short of genuine. There’s a hint of anger in his face. “I have to be honest, Lena. It might take me a bit to get there.”
She nods, understanding. “I get that.”
For a moment it looks as if he’s about to say more, one last try for it, but as if reconsidering in a nanosecond, his face freezes, eyes going far away. When he says nothing else, Lena bows her head to get a better look at him. “Jack?”
“Sorry,” he says, shaking his head and looking miles away from their present conversation. “I have to go.”
“Oh,” she says, taken aback by the sudden change in his tone. It’s as if all the emotion was sucked out of him and she wonders if it’s some kind of coping mechanism. “Okay.”
“Yeah, sorry,” he says again before turning abruptly on his heel and pacing quickly out of her office.
She watches him go with a mixture of confusion and relief.
“Oh shit,” Jack says, just before the thing he’s working on explodes in the partitioned area they’ve set aside for their more volatile experiments. It blows the glass partition back by a solid three feet, and Jack lands on his back. Lena barely musters the interest to turn around.
“You alright?” she asks, focused on the bit of Nth metal she’s attempting to machine into micro pieces.
“You’re so caring,” Jack says, sitting up. Lena glances back to see him reaching up to adjust his goggles. “The little buggers ran into each other again.”
The steel door to their lab opens then, and Lex steps through gingerly, eyeing the smoke curling up from behind the glass with a small smile.
“You know, this building monitors sudden shifts in air pressure,” Lex says, displaying his phone where an alert is indeed showing. “Your little explosions are only fun for a short time.”
“Sorry,” Lena says, finishing off the cut she’s been working for the last few minutes while Jack scrambles up from the floor.
“It’s fine,” Lex says, coming over to sit in the lab chair next to Lena. “Gives me an excuse to ditch a board meeting. Mother was going on and on about how we need to make further steps into weapons contracting, blah blah. You’d think a doctor wouldn’t be so interested in murdering people.”
“Sounds like mother,” Lena says, slipping the nanobot hulls under her microscope to take a glance at them.
“What have you two been blowing up in my building this time?” Lex asks, leaning over her shoulder to look at the digital display. “Fancy little metal bugs?”
“Nanobots, for healing injuries and illnesses at a micro level,” Jack says. “Or at least, that’s what it’s supposed to be.”
“That’s what it will be,” Lena corrects, turning around and showing Jack the display. He grins back at her with a happy satisfaction and she laughs at the way his hair’s been blown into disarray by the earlier explosion.
Lex picks a tablet up from the desk near Lena’s elbow and eyes the information with some interest, his curiosity clearly piqued.
“Interesting,” Lex says. “Applications?”
“Medical, largely,” Lena says. “Probably worth exploration in engineering fields as well. They could work to both fix tissue and hold off infections if they were outfitted with the right information and tools.”
“What are they made out of?” Lex asks, tapping at the display. “Your special metal?”
“Nth metal,” Jack says, proudly. Lex turns and looks at him with appraising eyes that make Lena roll her eyes at her brother.
“You’ve got enough funding to be purchasing Nth metal?” Lex asks, before whistling. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” Jack says, the grin on his face betraying his happiness at Lex’s approval.
“Let’s have dinner tonight, yes?” Lex asks, looking from Jack to Lena. “Mother is not invited.”
“Sounds good,” Lena says, leaning into her brother’s loose arm around her shoulders in a hug.
“Please don’t blow up my building,” Lex says, a grin on his face as he makes his way back to the door. “It’s expensive.”
Kara is pacing the floor of her apartment when Lena gets back home and for a nanosecond she feels a pull of irrational guilt. As if she’s done something wrong and Kara’s found her out. Which isn’t the case at all, but her head is still reeling from her conversation with Jack and the look on Kara’s face is starting to concern her.
“Kara,” Lena says, dropping her purse on a sidetable and striding forward quickly. Kara startles as if she didn’t know Lena was there, which only further deepens Lena’s concern.
“Hey, hi,” Kara says, moving towards her, then stopping short. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing important,” Lena dismisses, feeling exhausted at the idea of rehashing her conversation with Jack.
“Tell me anyway,” Kara says, opening her arms for Lena to fall forward into her body.
Lena sighs, feels a renewed energy at the first press of Kara’s hands to her back. “Jack gave me a long-winded speech about why I should break up with you and get back together with him.”
Kara’s entire body goes rigid. So much so that Lena straightens to look at her. “I said no,” Lena adds as if that’s what has Kara so concerned - laughable as it may seem.
“I knew he was up to no good, but I didn’t think he’d go that far.”
The comment is odd enough to pique Lena’s curiosity and when she pulls back to look at Kara’s face she can tell her exhaustion is about to get worst.
“What do you mean you knew he was up to no good?” Lena asks and as if suddenly caught doing something wrong, Kara’s gaze turns from concerned to sheepish.
“I have to tell you something,” Kara starts, and Lena’s gaze goes narrow. This is the second time she’s had to hear this kind of confession and honestly she’s probably going to need another glass of alcohol to deal with all this. She didn’t even get to drink her brandy back at the office.
“Okay,” she says in a slow drawl, backing away slightly while her arms crossing over chest defensively.
Kara winces a bit, hesitation obvious in the way she fiddles with her fingers. “I’ve been investigating Jack,” she says, and Lena nearly barks out a laugh. Her irritation with Kara for her restaurant hijinks comes seeping back in.
“Uh, yeah,” she replies. “That’s no secret. Don’t think we won’t be talking about that stunt you pulled at dinner.”
“No, I mean,” Kara looks around as if searching for words somewhere in the room. “I’ve been investigating him like…a lot. That’s why Mon-El and I crashed your dinner.”
Lena has no idea what distinction Kara is trying to make and feels impatience start to get the best of her as she sighs, “Can we find the point here, darling?”
Kara takes a breath. “Lena, Biomax is dangerous and Jack’s covering it up.”
It’s not necessarily surprising to hear Kara say that – it’d been the angle Lena’d suspected Kara had been after this whole time – but instinctively she gets defensive. Biomax was a project she’d worked on for a long time after all, and Jack is, if anything, an old friend. Despite their last conversation, she still feels protective of what they once had - professionally if nothing else. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“It’s true,” Kara retorts emphatically.
“You can’t know that,” Lena insists. “Jack wouldn’t–”
“He’s killed two people, Lena,” Kara says and at that, Lena nearly laughs.
“Jack would never hurt anyone,” she says, flabbergasted at the very idea of it.
“I’m not lying.”
“I don’t think you’re lying,” Lena says, standing up and moving over to the decanter of scotch on her counter. “I think you’re mistaken.”
“I’m not. During my investigation two whistleblowers were killed by a swarm of mechanical…somethings.”
“Kara, you don’t know what you’re saying.”
“Yes, I do,” Kara insists. “I was there when it happened. I saw the swarm - it was the same thing we saw at the press conference when he cut his hand.”
Lena’s brain starts to feel jumbled, her heart rate increasing by the second and she finds herself stammering to defend Jack despite how much she trusts Kara’s judgement. “That doesn’t mean it was Jack,” she starts and Kara huffs impatiently.
“You’re just defending him because he’s Jack.”
“Of course, I am,” Lena snaps, feeling her headache worsen and an instinctive desire to avoid any kind of reality at the moment. “You’re accusing him of something serious when he’s not even here to defend himself.”
“Because he’s dangerous, Lena.”
“You’re talking about a man that told me he cried when he had to dissect a frog in the sixth grade,” she says, almost laughing at the idea of Jack being dangerous. “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“He’s not eleven anymore,” Kara insists. “And before this week, you hadn’t spoken to him in nearly a year.”
Lena turns and leans back against the counter to regard Kara with an arched brow. “And I’m supposed to think that a year’s absence has made him such a completely different man than the one I knew for nearly three?”
The room feels frosty, so much so that Lena pulls her sweater sleeves over her arms and keeps them close across her chest. Kara’s jaw is tight, her blue eyes focused and intent in a way that tugs something heavy and ominous in Lena’s gut.
Without another word, Kara pulls her phone out of her pocket and walks closer to Lena, holding it out as if in offering.
“My phone,” Kara answers.
“Yes, I see that. Why are you giving it to me?”
“Watch the video I have pulled up.”
Wordlessly, Lena takes the phone from Kara’s hands and does as instructed, her brow pulling down severely as an image of Jack starts to play on the small screen. “Biomax version 38,” Jack is saying from a seat at his desk. Lena takes in the injection gun in front of him with dread. “Human trial one.”
It’s heartstopping to watch Jack pick up the injection gun and hold out his own arm, to watch as he winces and pushes the syringe into his skin and then for his entire being to transform into the nano swarm. Her mouth goes dry and she doesn’t know what to do aside from hold her mouth in horror and blink up at Kara.
There’s a grim expression on Kara’s face along with a hint of worry around her eyes. “He faked the human trials – the ones on public record. That was what the first whistleblower approached me about and that’s what I’ve been trying to track down. Jack was the only human trial and he knew the nano swarm was dangerous from the beginning.”
All Lena can think is that she wants to talk to Jack, wants answers, wants to know why he did the one thing they agreed over and over again they’d never do.
“I need to talk to him.”
“Lena’s he’s killed two people,” Kara says, but Lena can’t believe that. It’s too hard to reconcile the accusation with what she knows of Jack.
“What do you mean he’s killed two people?”
“I said I’ve been investigating him,” Kara starts and before Lena can interrupt she puts a hand up to stop her. “A whistleblower approached me telling me the human trials on public record were being faked. The car we were meeting in blew up before he could tell me the entire story.”
“What?” Lena says, startled even though Kara had mentioned this just moments before.
“Then a second lead I followed led me to a guy that was supposed to have been one of the people in the actual trial. Snapper went to interview him and a huge swarm of nanobots ate him alive. I barely got Snapper out of there in time.”
There’s a bubbling indignation in the back of her throat as she tries to piece together why this is the first she’s hearing of all this. She ignores that in favor of focusing on the problem at hand. The easy connection here that Jack’s controlling the nanoswarm and that he’s used it to kill two people.
“Who else has seen this?” Lena asks, indicating the video on Kara’s phone.
Kara shakes her head, her hands on her hips. “Just us,” she says and then as if reading Lena’s mind adds, “but you cannot go talk to him until we get to the bottom of this.”
Ignoring that for the moment, Lena continues with simple questions hoping at least those will have simple answers. “How did you get it?”
Kara’s lips thin. “From his office. There aren’t any records of human trials like the ones filed in the official records. Just this video.”
Lena blinks, still trying to process as quickly as she can. “You broke into his office?!”
“Not technically,” Kara says, hands up defensively.
“What do you mean, not technically? I can’t imagine Jack just gave this to you.”
Sheepish looking, Kara’s eyes dart away. “Mon-El swiped his keycard when we were at dinner. That’s why we left so suddenly. I wanted to get to his office while I knew he was otherwise occupied.”
Pinching the bride of her nose, Lena shakes her head, exasperated. “Kara,” she sighs.
“I didn’t want to tell you anything until I knew for sure,” Kara says, shifting close enough that Lena can feels her warmth. “I know what he means to you. It’s part of why I wasn’t worried about leaving you alone with him - it’s pretty clear how he feels.”
Lena makes a short noise of surprise. Frankly, if that was so clear even to Kara in the few minutes she’d met him, Lena would have liked a little more heads up so as not to be so blindsided by his sudden confession at his office.
Nonetheless, that’s so far from what’s important now. “Then you know I have to talk to him,” Lena says. “At the very least maybe he’ll confess to me and then we’ll actually having something more substantial to go on.”
“I can’t let you do that,” Kara says quietly, her voice more like a plea than anything else. Lena feels her jaw go tight, bristling visibly enough that Kara backs off in the slightest. “Not without me.”
“You can wait outside, in earshot,” Lena concedes, knowing it’s the quickest way to get what she wants. A bit ridiculous considering in earshot likely means anywhere in the entirety of the city for Kara.
Lena expects a fight, expects Kara to protest and insist she stay home where it’s safe, but instead Kara nods, drops her hands from where they were perched against her hips. “Okay, yeah.”
“What?” Lena says before she can stop herself. “Just like that?”
“You’re right,” Kara says. “Maybe you can get him to confess.”
“You don’t want to encase me in bubble wrap first?” Lena asks. Kara sighs, looking down at the ground between them before she reaches hesitantly for Lena’s hand, where her watch rests.
“We agreed that we would take risks together, right?” Kara says. “Not apart. I mean, preferably no risks at all, but - it seems like we’re having trouble avoiding them.”
“Fair,” Lena says, watching Kara finger the face of her watch.
“There are laws, you know, about what being a mate means,” Kara says, softly. “It means you don’t have to be alone. Always, no matter what. You’re determined to talk to him, so I’ll be there.”
It makes Lena’s exhaustion flow away from her like water and a warm strength take hold of her limbs. “You don’t have to be alone either,” Lena tells her, locking on to soft blue eyes. “You should have told me about the whistleblower, about what you were doing. Even if it would have hurt me. I trust you.”
“I know,” Kara admits. “I’ll do better next time.”
“Good,” Lena says, feeling something fundamental click into place between them. It makes her feel like she could take on anything.
Kara takes a deep breath. “Okay. If you can narrow his location down, we’ll go when we’re ready.”
Lena nods in agreement, but when Kara makes to walk away she just steps closer and tugs her back into a tight hug, holds the embrace for long moments until letting her go.
Locating Jack is fairly easy. There’s a Spheerical owned lab on the outskirts of town that Lena’d heard Jack talk about before. After ruling out his offices and his hotel, it’s the next logical step. Kara flies them there swiftly and lands discreetly next to a back door into the large structure.
“Listen to me,” Lena insists, as stern as she can be as she rechecks the small device behind her ear that will record her conversations. “You do not come in there unless I’m in actual, real danger.”
“You’re already in danger just walking in there,” Kara points out, eyes like steel, her acceptance clearly coming up against the weight of her fear. It makes Lena want to press into her until both of them soften, but she takes a deep breath and focuses.
“You know what I mean,” she says, reaching out to circle her fingers around Kara’s wrist, the fabric of her suit feeling rough against her palm. The strength of her bracelet still presses up against her palm underneath it. “Let me get it all out of him before you get in there. We don’t have nearly enough information and if you come busting in there it might just lead to a fight.”
Kara looks determined to argue with her until Lena adds a soft, “Please. This is Jack. Let me just talk to him. I’ll let you know when I need a rescue.”
“Be careful,” Kara says, pulling Lena in close and kissing her firmly.
“Promise you won’t come in unless I absolutely need you to?”
Kara takes a breath, nods. “Promise,” she says before whispering I love you in Kryptonian.
Jack’s looking through a microscope at something when she approaches and she calls his name out until he turns, a surprised look on his face. He’s clearly come straight here after their conversation, judging by the glass of whisky set out on the counter next to him and the frown on his face.
“Lena, what are you doing here?” He asks, looking behind her, a confused furrow in his brow. “How did you get in here?”
Declining to answer his question, she goes straight for the heart of it. “I know about the nanobots,” she says.
He looks taken aback, even more confused. “What about the nanobots?”
“The human trials,” she clarifies. “I know they’re faked.”
“What do you mean they’re faked?” Jack asks, looking offended now. “No. They’re not.”
“They are,” Lena retorts. “You’ve been trying to cover it up, but there weren’t any human trials. Not really.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, but Lena feels all the accusations come bursting out of her, incapable of stopping the stream of words.
“You injected that stuff into yourself,” she tells him. “How many times did we say we’d never do that? How many times did we talk about how dangerous this project was, how it could be used to control people? We agreed, Jack. I can’t -”
“Lena,” he interrupts, in a firm, desperate voice. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Jack’s expression hardly changes as he enunciates each word forcefully and the open look of innocence and confusion on his face is far too genuine for Lena not to believe him. “Oh my god,” she says, breathless as the truth starts to become more and more apparent. If Jack’s in the dark, that means someone else is controlling the nanoswarm. “You’re telling the truth.”
The second she says it, his face goes dead, a kind of lifelessness behind his eyes that terrifies her and a voice echoes behind her that has her fist clenching. “Miss Luthor,” it says and behind Jack steps Beth Breen, whom she recognizes immediately from the press conference, a glowing earpiece tucked on one side of her head and a smarmy look on her face Lena feels drawn to punch off her.
Her eyes dart back to Jack, to the blank look on his face as more and more dots connect.
“He can’t hear you,” she tells Lena.
“It’s been you the whole time,” she says for lack of anything better to say. Her brain starts scrambling around so quickly she can barely keep up.
“Keen observation,” Beth says dryly, coming to stand next to Jack’s stiff body. There’s a glowing blue earpiece in her ear that Lena’s seen before but is only now realizing the purpose of. It makes her want to kick herself.
“You killed those people,” Lena accuses her directly, wondering how long Kara’s going to wait before busting through a wall. A flash of blue appears in her peripheral, idling outside the large windows of the warehouse and Lena makes a motion with her hand as subtly as possible, hoping it staves Kara off just a bit.
“I didn’t kill those people,” Beth says with a quick tsk. “Jack did. He might not have chosen to, nor does he remember doing it, but…he did.” At the end of it, she touches her earpiece as if Lena can’t fucking see that’s what’s controlling the swarm. The skin of Jack’s face ripples with evidence of what he’s become and Lena feels like her heart might crack out of her chest.
“You’ve been controlling him this whole time,” she says, waiting for the opportunity to punch this bitch in the face.
“Well, not the whole time,” Beth admits, shrugging. “The bits where he was all moony-eyed over you were all him. Figured I’d let him make his shot. But now that you’re here, I can control you as well. Two massive titans of industry under my thumb.”
The skin on Jack’s face ripples with the nanoswarm’s presence as if sensing Beth’s intent. That’s probably exactly what’s happening, Lena thinks as she searches for a solution to her current predicament.
“And to think,” Beth continues, clearly committed to the whole supervillian monologue thing. God, it reminds her of Lex. “Poor sweet boy wanted to scrap the whole thing. All because of a pesky little side effect that removes free will. Said it wasn’t perfect yet.”
“Jack was right.”
“Jack lacks vision,” Beth corrects in a snap. “We’re about to make billions with Biomax in every home, hospital, school. Think of the military contracts. Only an idiot would turn down the possibilities.”
Beth looks Jack up and down, walks around him and runs a hand down his arm. It makes Lena’s skin crawl.
“You know it’s true what they say,” Beth starts with a smirk. “Behind every great man is a strong woman.”
“Oh I wouldn’t know,” Lena retorts, a snarky look on her face she’s sure. “I’ve never stood behind a man.”
“No,” Beth says, “You just clean up after your brother.”
The comment hits a bit, but Lena’s careful not to let that show.
“You’re an idiot,” Beth continues. “You walked away from the breakthrough of a century.”
“It doesn’t work,” Lena replies, mentally calculating all her options. Shut off the swarm, maim Beth, control the swarm, have Kara arrest Beth...
“See, I think it works beautifully. I have a brilliant figurehead that will do whatever I want, completely under my control.”
Beth laughs. “You’re certainly one to talk.”
Arching a brow, Lena crosses her arms, feels the cool metal of her watch slide under her bicep. All she has to do is keep Beth talking until she can figure out how to save Jack. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“As if the world isn’t watching while you’re trying to get Supergirl under your thumb.”
It surprises Lena, and the shock must show on her face because Beth laughs again.
“I haven’t the faintest what you’re trying to say,” Lena says even as she can feel her heart start to race.
“Oh, please,” Beth says, condescension dripping off her. “Maybe other people can’t see it, but it’s almost pathetic the way you suck up to Supergirl to make up for the sins of your brother.”
The absurdity of it almost makes Lena laugh. She’d never once considered that angle before - that she’d work with Supergirl to improve a public image tarnished by Lex’s vendetta against Superman.
“I don’t suck up to Supergirl,” Lena says, amused despite the situation. It clearly irritates Beth, her lips pushing together in an angry line.
“Clearly not well enough or your little protector would be here right now,” Beth points out with a smirk.
Lena chuckles, unable to help herself.
“What’s funny?” Beth asks, brow furrowing.
“You know what they say,” Lena says, smiling and glancing towards the wall where Kara’s waiting, sure Kara can see and hear her clear as day. “Speak of the devil and all that.” As if on cue, a burst of breaking glass precedes Kara’s entrance to the warehouse and suddenly she’s next to Lena and slightly in front of her, hovering over the ground and hands at her hips.
It makes Beth flinch backward, cowering at Kara’s sudden presence and a wide-eyed look in her eye.
“Oh come on,” Lena taunts, knowing she needs to keep Beth – and the nanoswarm – occupied until she can find a way to deactivate it. “I showed you mine,” she says, nodding to where Kara’s hovered, a dangerous glow to her eyes. “Now you show me yours.”
Beth continues to level a steely gaze her way for a moment longer before tapping at her earpiece once. Jack’s hands move to his side, his chin lifted as a swarm of nanobots ascend out of his body.
“Keep them occupied,” Lena whispers for Kara’s ears only and though Kara turns to her as if to protest, she wisely says nothing else before zooming in front of the swarm and then away, leading them on a chase across the warehouse.
As soon as they’re away, Beth’s eyes glued to the chase, Lena makes for Jack’s body. She’s so intent on it, she doesn’t notice that Beth’s spotted the movement. It isn’t until she’s receiving a painful kick to her gut that she knows she’s been caught. It knocks the air out of her so hard she almost falls over, but she knows she can’t afford to. Especially not as Beth is mocking her with a, “Did I mention I’m a black belt?”
Lex was the first person to ever teach her how to throw a punch and so when she clenches her first and rears back up to smack Beth across the face, she can’t help but reply, “Did I mention I was a Luthor?”
The hit knocks the earpiece out of Beth’s ear and it skitters across the floor away from them. Lena doesn’t pause, just smacks Beth as hard as she can until the other woman is slumping to the floor with a painful sounding thud.
Before she can do anything else – like maybe kick the woman in the face – Kara is zooming past them, the swarm hot on her tail until Lena can only watch, horrified, as the swarm catches up to Kara and pins her to a nearby structure.
Kara’s name nearly chokes out of Lena’s throat, a strangled, “Supergirl!” thankfully comes out instead.
For a heartstopping second, she freezes, her eyes caught on the way the swarm is enveloping Kara. The image mixes with that of Kara bleeding out under her palms and anxiety feels like it might take all the air out of her throat.
“Lena!” Kara yells out, snapping her out of her thoughts. It spurs her back into action.
A glance to Jack shows he’s still completely out of control of his body and likely his mind. Just behind him she spots a computer terminal and rushes towards it. Maybe if she can get into Spheerical’s mainframe she can try to override the nanobots.
Mentally crossing her fingers, she uses her old admin codes to login and can’t help but smile. “You should really change your passwords, Jack,” she murmurs to herself.
Just as she’s combing through the terminal, she hears shuffling behind her and turns to spot Beth, groaning in pain as she tries to move. Her aim is clear, and Lena nearly kicks herself for being so stupid. The earpiece lays dormant on the ground and just before Beth and can reach for it, Lena scoops it up.
Beth falls back to the floor, defeated, but stays looking at Lena. “You can’t override the nanobots,” she tells her, as if knowing Lena’s aim. “It will destroy them, and it’ll kill Jack.”
Kara draws her attention away with a painful sounding noise, muffled by the swarm climbing up her face. “You don’t know that,” Lena says, scrambling for a way to save everyone.
“They’ve merged,” Beth says, pushing herself up to stand as if she’s regained the upper hand. “You kill them, you kill him.”
Lena’s fist clenches painfully on the earpiece in her hand and with lack of something better to do, she punches Beth in the face yet again, satisfied when it drives the woman back down the ground, blood coming out of her nose. Her knuckles ache with abuse, but she doesn’t care.
Looking back at Kara and then at Jack, Lena’s not sure what to do, but she knows she’s running out of options. Beth might not be trustworthy, but Lena knows enough about the technology to know she’s probably right. A full override of the nanobots might kill Jack.
A choice between Kara and Jack is painfully easy to make, but Lena doesn’t want to have to make it all.
So, she does the only other thing she can think to do. Her understanding of the nanobots may be outdated, but she and Jack got far enough for her to have an idea of how this earpiece might work.
It’s worth a shot at least.
As soon as the piece slides into her ear it feels like her brain goes impossibly tight, stretching in on itself so quickly that she has to shut her eyes and rub her temples against discomfort.
A beeping sound resonates from the terminal by her side and she turns to look at a pop up window just as her brain feels like it unclenches.
Authorized User Detected it reads and she inhales sharply to see her own name written under it. “God, I love you, Jack,” she exhales, turning towards the nanoswarm holding Kara and needing only to think get the fuck away from her before they’re zipping off her body and rushing back towards Jack.
They hit into him so hard that he slumps to the ground, coughing with the force of it and gasping for air, his eyes going wide as he comes back to it.
“Jack,” she exclaims, falling to her knees next to him and gripping his cheeks. “Are you okay? You in there?”
His eyes are unfocused a moment before they stop on her and he grips one of her wrists where her hand is on his face. “I’m good,” he says even though he’s wincing and making a sound of pain as he sits up.
“You okay?” Kara’s voice comes from behind her and Lena shoots up, turns to rake her eyes over Kara’s form and check the same for herself.
“You?” Lena says softly, moving closer than she normally would when Kara’s Supergirl, but mindful of the anxiety still thrumming across her skin over Kara’s wellbeing.
“All good,” Kara replies, equally soft as she reaches out to squeeze Lena’s wrist quickly. It’s a fast touch before Kara’s turning towards Jack and reaching out a hand to help him stand.
“Thanks,” he says, but it’s clear he’s having trouble supporting himself. Lena darts forward when it looks like he might fall and drapes his arm over her shoulders to keep him upright.
“I can take him,” Kara says, moving forward as if to take Jack from Lena, but Lena stops her with a jerk of her head towards the prone body nearby.
“Get her, we need to get them both to the DEO,” Lena says.
Kara’s eyes dart back and forth a moment, indecisive, before she finally agrees with a nod, scooping Beth up and without any preamble zooming out of the broken window she’d entered through before.
“I think I’m okay,” Jack says, moving his weight off of her and leaning against the table behind him. “Just winded.”
“Sorry,” Lena says, scanning him with her eyes.
“Don’t be,” he replies, but his eyes go wide as he observes the scene and seems to start putting things together. “Christ, what’s happened?”
“Beth has been controlling the nano swarm,” Lena tells him, mindful of the shaky way he seems to be holding himself together. "She's been using it to control you."
Jack starts to blink at an alarming pace, his breath starting to quicken. “I killed people,” he says and Lena wonders if having control over the swarm herself has started to give Jack some of his memories.
“No,” she tells him, reaching out to touch his arm. “That was Beth.”
“It was me,” Jack says, his eyes wide and an all-consuming guilt covering his face. “I can see it happen. I can see myself doing it.”
“It was Beth,” Lena reiterates, shaking his arm to bring his attention to her. “Don’t think for a second otherwise.”
There’s a look on her face that Lena understands acutely - it makes her think of Lex and his warsuit, of knowing she’s had a hand in something terrible even if she didn’t orchestrate it.
“Jack,” she says softly, as soothingly as she can, but before she can say anything else, Kara’s zooming back into the building to land at Lena’s side.
“Ready?” Kara asks, looking to Lena.
“Yeah,” she tells her quietly and Jack makes a groaning sound.
“I don’t feel so great,” he admits and Lena can only watch as his eyes roll back into his head and he starts to slump forward.
Kara catches him before he falls over completely and hefts his body over his shoulder deftly. “Let’s go,” she says to Lena, holding her free arm out.
Adrenaline is starting to leave her body and Lena’s feeling like she might faint right along with Jack. Kara must notice because she doesn’t wait for Lena to step forward. Instead, she moves herself, scooping Lena solidly into her side and looking down at her.
“You’re okay,” Kara says, kissing her forehead. “You did great.”
“Thanks,” Lena murmurs, allowing Kara to take all of her weight and grateful for the way she can sag against Kara’s body. “Let’s go.”
And with a slight bend of Kara’s knee, they’re up and off into the night.
They put Jack in one of the many medbays across the downtown DEO base. Alex and Winn meet them there, with Lena explaining the basics of what’s happened - the nanobots, their basic function, her ideas on how to solve the problem. Kara doesn’t stray too far from her side as she runs through simulation after simulation with Winn - and it takes hours, but they finally come to an agreement on their first steps.
She’s tasked with explaining their plans to Jack, who sits gamely through mentions of brain surgery and time under twenty-four hour watch and rehab before he glances to the window of his room, where Supergirl is standing. When Lena sets eyes on Kara, she disappears down the hallway with a small wave. Jack laughs a little.
“She’s Supergirl, isn’t she?”
Something heavy pulls in Lena’s stomach. “What? Who?”
Jack smiles, shakes his head. “Kara,” he clarifies. “She’s Supergirl.”
Doing her best to school her expression, Lena furrows her brow and tries for a quizzical smile. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
A moment passes, and Jack just stares at her, his smile knowing. “You should work on your poker face.”
“My poker face is fully operational, thank you very much,” Lena replies without thinking twice and Jack laughs, though it comes out sad.
“Not about her, it’s not,” he says, and Lena’s chest feels oppressively tight. “At least I know you’re throwing me over for the most powerful being on the planet.”
“Jack,” she starts, soft and worried, but he waves her off.
“The secret is safe with me,” he says, shrugging a shoulder. “Not that you’ve really confirmed it or anything.”
“She’s not – I don’t –”
“Honestly, Lena. I mean neither of you any harm, I’m just trying to inform you that you might want to practice a bit more neutrality when it comes to Supergirl lest people start to connect the dots.”
A certain kind of creeping anxiety starts to make its way up the back of her neck and it must show on her face because Jack puts his hand on her shoulder, warm and sure. “It’s okay,” he says in a low voice. “I’m sure it’s only because I know you so well.”
Her eyes go back to the window Kara’d just left and she tries to think of something to say. He laughs softly.
“It might also be because I’m especially sensitive to the way you look at other people,” he admits and she lets out a soft breath, but lets a tiny smile grace her lips. “I’m sorry about the way I acted before. I was hurt, but that’s not an excuse.”
Lena can read the sincerity there, feels closure on an important chapter on her life as a new one seems to open. “I’m willing to put it behind us,” she says quietly and he grins.
“I’m amenable to that,” he says. “Especially considering what you could do to me if I step out of line.” He gestures to the piece of tech she still has in her ear. She’d refused to take it off at the DEO lest it leave her sight and put Jack under someone else’s control. If anything, he was her responsibility now.
“Don’t forget it,” she jokes and he puts his hands up as if in surrender.
“Oh I won’t,” he replies mirthfully.
Their laughter ebbs into silence as the control bug in her ear hums and Jack’s heart rate monitor pumps along.
“There’s something else I should tell you,” Jack says, the smile fading from his face. “About Biomax.”
Lena isn’t sure what could possibly be worse than her friend being permanently merged with a swarm of nanobots and her currently being in control of it, and she isn’t sure she really wants to find out.
“What about it?”
“If you look at our books, you’ll see numerous amounts of donations from various benefactors,” he says. “We had a lot of interest in the project.”
There’s nothing odd about that, but Lena can see something ominous forming in Jack’s expression. “I can imagine.”
“Yeah,” Jack acknowledges wryly. “The thing about it is...some of those donations never felt quite right.”
“What do you mean?”
Jack shakes his head. “I can’t really explain it. Just a gut feeling maybe, but I always thought…”
“There were big donations, Lena. Right after you left for National City, I suddenly had a mysterious benefactor. For a bit there, I thought it might actually be you.”
Lena starts to sense what feels so off to Jack, feels it coming like it’s in slow motion.
“I always felt a little off about Beth. Right from the beginning. I don’t know if you remember her, but I poached her from Luthor Corp.”
Lena has no memory of such a thing, but then again, Lena never really paid much attention to the company at large back then. “I didn’t know that.”
“When Lex was arrested and then when the company was moved, there were a lot of people that either wanted to stay in Metropolis or were looking for a change. Beth was doing low-level risk-analysis at Luthor Corp so when we offered her a promotion at Spheerical she jumped at the chance.”
“What are you saying here, Jack?” Lena says though she can see it plain as day.
“Those donations? Lately, I’ve started to think they might be from someone we both know.”
Silence for a moment before Lena takes a breath. “Lex is in prison.”
“I know,” Jack says and it does nothing to make either of them feel better, Lena can tell.
A headache spikes between her eyes and Lena pinches the bridge of her nose against it. “Great,” she breathes out.
“Something to think about is all,” Jack says quietly and Lena almost laughs. She’s sure it’s the only thing she’s going to think about for the near future.
It’s likely Jack will spend the better part of the next month at the DEO. Once she’s assured herself that he’s settled and under good care, she allows Kara to fly them both back to her apartment. Exhaustion has taken an even stronger grip on her brain and she almost weeps when she see the clock on her microwave glow a taunting 5:37 AM.
“Let’s go to bed,” Kara says, coming up behind her and pressing strong fingers into the tense muscles at her shoulder.
“Go to bed?” Lena jokes, sinking into the feel of Kara’s expertly working fingers. “I have to be at the office soon.”
“No,” Kara says, sounding firm as her hands retreat from Lena’s shoulders only to scoop her up and off the ground. “Neither of us are going to work tomorrow. We’re taking sick days.”
“I don’t believe in sick days,” Lena points out, her arms circling Kara’s neck on instinct.
“I know you don’t. That’s what you have me for.”
“Ah,” Lena says, feeling sleep pull heavily at her brain. “I knew it was for something.”
Despite a very real insistence on not playing hooky from work tomorrow, Lena succumbs to the fatigue clambering all over her body. “Set my alarm,” she manages to say before truly giving in and just as everything goes black around her she thinks she hears Kara laugh.
The next morning, she wakes up hours past her usual alarm and only spends about five minutes berating Kara for contacting Jess without her approval to clear Lena’s schedule before giving into the desire to spend a lazy morning in bed, recovering.
By the time she makes it out of bed and into the kitchen, Kara’s already zipped off to get them donuts from a place they used to frequent on campus - a perfectly made bear claw is waiting for her next to a steaming cup of coffee.
It’s quiet and calm and rejuvenating to sit in the kitchen with Kara and let time pass by them. Kara idly discusses her plans for a blog post regarding Biomax - what to divulge and what to keep secret. It reminds Lena to check in with Winn and see how Jack is holding up at the DEO.
Eventually, she gets restless enough that she has to break away from the calm and actually do something.
“I might not be going into the office, but I still have work to do,” she tells Kara, taking a new cup of coffee into her office and sitting at her desk.
“Okay, well, I’m going to watch Netflix, so just let me know if you want to chill,” Kara calls out, poking her head into Lena’s office for a quick second.
“I will,” Lena says on a laugh, waving Kara off lest she get distracted.
With a deep breath, Lena opens up her laptop and starts to work on her inbox. The first e-mail she has gives her pause. It’s from Lana and it’s seemingly benign, but Lena can read through the bland language.
It’s about the lead they have on the vault. Lana’s clearly uncovered something new and is eager to talk about it. That much can be gleaned from the fact that Lana’s sent her an e-mail at all.
It makes her think about what Jack had said. About the possibility of Lex having financed part of Biomax.
Her head starts to swim with what that could mean - with the implication that Lex is far more involved in her life than she’d ever realized. And just that thought alone sparks another memory that has her eyes drawing to the bottom drawer of her desk on the left side.
After a moment of hesitation, she stands up and walks to a bookshelf on the side of her office, looking for the right book and pulling it out to find a key she’d hidden within the pages.
The key unlocks the drawer and she maneuvers around until the false bottom pulls out.
There’s not much there, but the clean white envelope she’d put there months ago stands out starkly. After she’d taken it from the vault her mother had taken her to after abducting her, Lena’d mostly forgotten about it. Set it aside as a problem for another day.
As she turns it over in her hands, a creeping sensation pulses up her spine. The kind she’d gotten looking at Lex’s warsuit that day, or watching her mother throw a grenade at Kara that’d incapacitated her. It’s almost as if she can still see the radiating glow of John Corben’s Kryptonite heart.
It isn’t until Kara’s knocking softly on the open door that Lena realizes just how heavily her heart is beating.
“You okay?” Kara asks quietly, eyes darting to the envelope in Lena’s hand.
“I don’t know,” Lena admits, not sure what she’s about to find out - if she’s even about to find anything out. When it comes to Lex, she’s come to expect the unpredictable.
Kara seems to understand what she means, her face sympathetic as she leans against the door and keeps her eyes steady. “I’m here if you need me,” she says and Lena lets that simple statement steady the rapid thud of her heart.
Without any other discussion, she flips open the envelope to peer at what’s inside. When she finally gets a glance at its contents, she can’t help but think, oh Lex.
She pulls out the blank sheet of paper and laughs.