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the heiress, the girl of steel, and the man who fell to earth

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Lena Luthor is curled up on her couch with a book propped up on her legs when a fiery orange blaze splits the sky in two. Not that she sees it, because she’s just about dozing off, glasses sitting askew on her nose, cheek smooshed up against the palm of her hand—but she does hear the thunderous crash coming from her backyard, and she certainly feels the way the entire house shakes from the impact.

She sits bolt upright, clenching onto the couch cushion, not even daring to breathe until her surroundings settle, the sound of glasses in her liquor cabinet tinkling into quiet stillness. After a few seconds of silence with no further disturbances, she springs up from the couch, pads over to her window to peer into the yard.

It’s completely dark. She can barely make out the familiar shapes of her garden through the inky blackness. Everything is still, except for an odd shape at the base of the huge oak tree in the far corner of the yard, which is on fire.

Lena lets out a gasp and sprints down the stairs into her basement, narrowly avoiding tripping over her own dressing gown during her descent, and retrieves her fire extinguisher (very useful for dealing with any unfortunate accidents in her at-home laboratory), and shoves an assortment of tools into a carry bag. With her supplies in hand, she races back upstairs and bursts outside, pulling her robe tightly around her as she’s hit with the chill of night.

When she approaches the tree and the fiery object, she throws her bag down on the ground and lets loose with the fire extinguisher, dousing the flames until they die out. She pants and wipes at her brow, dropping the empty extinguisher onto the grass.

The smoke and haze from the extinguisher gradually clear, revealing what looks to be some sort of space pod, all sleek and shiny metal, flawless in its design, emitting gently pulsing blue lights from beneath ornate wings, and Lena breathes a reverent gasp because she’s never seen anything like it before.

She approaches it slowly, extends a hand to press against the metal of the ship—then curses as she snaps her hand back upon discovering it’s very hot. Keeping more of a safe distance, she approaches the capsule’s glass lid where, presumably, a passenger would sit. She tries to peer through, but the glass is opaque, either by design or from the fire, she can’t be sure.

The pod emits a strange sound and Lena freezes, watching it closely for any sign that the glass lid might be opening, or that the whole thing itself is going to explode, but the sound settles and the pod is still once again. Lena breathes again, but doesn’t fully relax, and decisively grabs her carry bag, taking it with her to the rear of the pod, where she crouches down on the grass.

“Let’s see what we’re working with here,” she murmurs quietly. She retrieves a her trusty screwdriver from her bag, as well as a flashlight, which she clicks on and holds in her mouth.

She manages to jimmy open what she correctly guesses is the control panel, and it’s definitely not in English, or any other human language for that matter, but computers tend to speak the same language on some level, so it doesn't take Lena long to figure out how to talk to it. She pushes her glasses up her nose, swipes her dark hair away from her face as she works.

Her hand hovers over the keypad just as she’s about to execute the directive she’s eighty percent sure will open the pod, hesitation entering her mind for the first time. She removes the flashlight from her mouth, withdraws her hand slightly, then frowns and punches the final key, stepping back as the pod clicks open and the glass lifts away with a mechanical hiss.

Lena grips tightly onto her flashlight as she approaches the side of the pod again, and peers inside to see the pod’s occupant. It’s a man: young, chestnut brown hair, traces of facial hair at his chin and jawline. By all accounts he looks completely human, but judging by the specifically alien circumstances of his arrival, he decidedly is not.

And then, his eyes are open as he draws in a shuddering breath, and he’s launched himself out of the pod and his hand is gripping at Lena’s throat and, oh gosh, he’s strong—he’s really strong—and Lena can feel her windpipe constricting, can see stars spotting at the edges of her vision, can only just hear the strangled ‘please’ she manages to push past her lips.

He drops her, staggers back, and Lena crumples to the ground, oxygen reintroducing itself to her lungs through heaving, jagged breaths. The earth is cool beneath her palms, and when she looks up at her attacker, his face is twisted in confusion, and he won’t look away from his trembling hands. He looks up at her, then back down to his hands, takes a few steps back, looks like he’s about to bolt.

“Wait!” Lena gasps, voice ragged as she shakily pushes herself to her feet.

There’s a creaking from behind them, and the old oak tree the pod crashed into cracks straight down the middle, groaning as half of the trunk splinters off and succumbs to gravity. Lena braces herself for the impact, arms reaching up over her head, and screws her eyes shut tight.

When she opens them, she’s not dead, or crushed, or harmed in any way.

In fact, she’s on her roof, impossibly cradled in the arms of the man who had his hand around her throat not seconds ago. She blinks at him in shock—then flicks her eyes back to the now half-standing oak tree, performing some rough calculations factoring in time and distance travelled and comes to the conclusion that he is also really fast.

“It seems not even you know whether you want to hurt me or not,” she manages, surprising even herself by how casual she sounds.

He stares at her a moment, brow furrowed and jaw tense. “I don’t…I don’t want…” his words fall somewhat clumsily from his lips, but at least now Lena knows he can speak English. As he trails off, his eyes fixate on something just over Lena’s shoulder. Lena has barely craned her neck to see that he’s looking at her satellite dish when she’s dropped onto the roof, spun around and pulled against the man’s chest, his arm wrapped around her neck once again.

Lena grimaces, knowing that if he squeezes the stars will reappear in her vision, and she really didn’t enjoy that sensation the first time. “I guess we’re going with ‘hurt me’,” she winces.

“Help me.” His words come out strained, pleading, and he quickly clears his throat. “You will help me.” It’s more of a commanding growl this time.

“Whatever you need,” Lena says placatingly, hands reaching up to the arm across her throat in preparation to put up some sort of fight if he does decide to squeeze. “I can’t do much from up here, though. Let’s just get down, and we can discuss things calmly. Ok?”

The man pauses, seems to think for a moment, before he loosens his grip. As soon as she is able, Lena twists away, rubbing gingerly at her throat, which she knows is going to bruise. She meets his wary eyes, tries to convey nothing but sincerity in her own as she holds her palms up in surrender.

“Thank you. Now, let’s just get down and we can talk about how I’m going to help you.” She glances around at her feet for some way to climb down, but before she makes any progress, she finds herself scooped up by the stranger and they’re in the air, soaring high in the sky before slamming back down to the ground, both of them screaming the entire way.

Lena drops out of his arms shakily, crouching down on the grass for a few moments before she stands up to her full height, which is still considerably shorter than the stranger’s. “Well,” she clears her throat, strives for the calm tone she had somehow managed earlier. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but I suppose we did get down.”

The mysterious alien pats himself down, clenching his fists open and shut. “What’s happening to me?” he asks, and looks up at Lena with desperation she knows she isn't capable of handling, at least not on her own, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try.

“I don’t know,” she answers truthfully, “but you do need to stay calm. Please.” She swallows, does her best to become a model of calm for him, in case that’s what he needs. Her experience with aliens is, admittedly, limited to one, and she is certainly more well-adjusted than the one before her, so it’s no wonder Lena is feeling more than a little out of her depth.

Nonetheless, she draws in a breath, does her best to make her lavender purple dressing gown appear respectable. “Let’s try this again. You’re on Earth, where you’ve crash landed in my backyard, and that’s all I can tell you about your current situation. As for me, my name is Lena.” She tentatively holds a hand out in the space between them, which he eyes sceptically, one eyebrow cocked.

“It’s a handshake,” Lena explains quickly, “you just…you know what, never mind,” she sighs and drops her hand back down by her side. “Can you tell me your name? Where you’re from?” she tries instead.

He holds her gaze for a long time before he sighs, tucking his hands beneath his armpits. “Mon El. My name is Mon El. I’m from Daxam.”

Lena nods slowly, even though half of those words mean nothing to her. “Ok. That’s good. It’s nice to meet you, Mon El of Daxam,” she says, and Mon El seems to appreciate the greeting, as he tips his head favourably. “Now. What is it that I can do for you?” she asks, eyebrows arched inquisitively.

Mon El lets his mouth hang open for a moment, searching for the words, then he points up to the satellite dish on the roof. “That thing, up there. It’s some sort of…communication device, isn't it? I need to send a signal to my people. They need to know where I am, they could—I don't know. I just need to send out a distress call.”

Lena follows his finger up to the old satellite dish on her roof, then back down to Mon El with a frown, crossing her arms and tapping at her chin. “I’m afraid that old dish can barely catch basic cable, let alone send a message across space. However…” a grin spreads across her lips, and a twinkle sparks in her eyes, “you certainly are lucky to have crash landed in my backyard, Mon El of Daxam. I’ll get your message out.”

Without another word, she strides back over to the pod, Mon El jogging a few steps behind her, and stops short as she finds the pod has been covered by the fallen tree. “Do you think you could…” she gestures vaguely to the massive oak tree, eyebrows arched expectantly.

“What?” Mon El glances around. “Me? Lift that?”

Lena shrugs. “Why not? I’ve seen someone else like you lift a lot more. It’s worth a try, if you really want to get that distress call out.”

Mon El’s face slides into one of determination, and he grips one of the oak tree’s thick branches. Grunting with the effort, he lifts the tree off of the pod, giving a cry as he throws it away, managing to shift the entire fallen portion of the tree about ten metres away. He pants as he turns back to Lena, wearing a look somewhere between disbelief and self-satisfaction.

Lena gives a nod, which she hopes covers up the shiver running down her spine. “Not bad.” Her flashlight is still on the ground where she’d dropped it, and she picks it up as she returns to the pod. She rolls onto her back and shimmies herself underneath, flashlight firmly back in her mouth as she examines the underside.

Mon El approaches and bends over, looking at her upside down. “What are you doing?”

“Looking for the nav system,” is what Lena tries to say, but the words are obstructed by the flashlight and don’t come out in any way that makes sense.

“What?”

Lena sighs and extricates the flashlight from her mouth. “The navigation system. To send a message, I need a destination. Coordinates. The nav system will have a flight path, which will give me coordinates. Hand me the wrench from my bag, will you? The long metal thing with a claw on the end,” Lena elaborates upon seeing Mon El’s puzzled look.

She hears Mon El rummaging around in her bag, then he slides next to her and hands her the wrench. “Thanks. Hold this,” She passes Mon El the flashlight, and he dutifully shines the light in the space where Lena works. A crease forms in Lena’s brow as she wrestles with the machinery, letting out a small grunt as she finally removes one of the nuts securing the component she needs.

“What if I…” Mon El interjects and reaches up into the space, gives the component a sharp tug and breaks it off easily.

“Hm. Well that’s one way to do it,” Lena hums, and Mon El looks quite pleased with himself. They shuffle out from under the pod, Mon El helping Lena to her feet, and Lena brushes some leaves off of her dressing gown. “Right. Lets get to work.”

Lena shucks her dressing gown when she sets up in her basement slash workshop. The navigation system is now hooked up to her laptop via a complicated highway of cables and adaptors, and she types away speedily while Mon El paces back and forth in the background.

“You know,” she says breezily as she works, “you really hit the jackpot, crashing into my backyard. Not only do I have access to one of the world’s most extensive satellite networks…I’m also a certified genius.” She presses a button on her laptop and spins around to face Mon El, a smug grin on her face. “All yours, Mon El of Daxam. Record your distress call.”

Mon El eyes the microphone, hesitating momentarily, before he approaches it and draws in a breath, clearing his throat.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Lena says. Mon El nods, and Lena hits record.

“This is a distress call from Mon El, son of King Lar Grand and Queen Rhea, Prince of Daxam.” Lena’s eyes widen at this new information, but she stays quiet, carefully monitoring the levels of the recording. “I have crash landed on a planet called Earth. I am, at present, safe. If you are hearing this message and have any information about Daxam, or any survivors, please respond. Please…please find me.” His voice falters and he indicates for Lena to finish the recording, which she does.

“There we go,” she says, “now we just run it through a program to translate that into a range of frequencies, and…presto. Pretty soon, your message will be transmitted all through deep space. Easy as that,” she said with a grin.

(It’s not that easy—it’s actually really complicated; Lena just relishes in making highly complicated processes look easy.)

Mon El sighs and leans back on the counter, rubbing his hands on his face. “And now what?”

“Well…now, we wait,” Lena says with a shrug, and she’s suddenly all too aware of the somewhat awkward silence that falls around them. “So…” she says after a long pause. “Prince, huh? If I’d known I was going to be in the company of royalty, I would have made myself more presentable,” she says, aiming for levity as she gestures to her striped pyjama pants and old Weezer t-shirt.

Mon El cringes visibly at the words and shakes his head. “Not anymore. I just—my message will get more attention if I mention that part. And I’m unfamiliar with earth fashion, so what you’re wearing is,” he gives her an evaluative look up and down, “fine.”

“Right,” Lena says with a small frown. She retrieves her dressing gown from the hook on the wall and wraps it around herself, somewhat self consciously. She stifles a yawn—it has been an incredibly long night already, and she knows it’s still far from over. “I don’t know about you, but if I had travelled millions of miles through space, I’d be dying for a shower.”

Mon El doesn’t react, but he doesn’t disagree either, which is enough for Lena.

“Follow me,” she instructs, and leads him back upstairs to the main house. She leads him down the hallway and into the room that Lex used to sleep in when they stayed here, in their second home in the quiet acres just outside of National City. Now it has become Lena’s actual home, where she stays mostly on weekends and whenever she can. It’s peaceful here. Quiet. Lena doesn’t have another neighbour for miles—when she’s here, sometimes she can pretend she’s the last woman on earth. Which is nice, for a while, until she feels the weight of loneliness pressing on her chest, at which point she is glad to return to the city.

Lena rummages through the drawers, looking for something that might fit the broad-shouldered Daxamite with little luck. Lex was always on the tall, slender side, and his clothes are the same. She eventually finds a pair of sweats that should stretch to fit, and a larger shirt Lex got for completing a charity run. It’s blue, and in red letters it reads “METROPOLIS RUNS FOR CHANGE 2013”, and on the back it says “FINISHER”. Lex never really liked this shirt.

She gives the clothes to Mon El and directs him to the shower. “Left tap is for hot water, right is for cold,” she calls after him as he closes the door.

Finally alone, Lena pads her way out of Lex’s old room and closes the door behind her. She leans against the wall and slides down to the floor, hugging her knees to her chest as she takes in a few deep breaths. She presses the backs of her palms to her forehead, closes her eyes, and concentrates on the cool feeling of her skin in an effort to calm her.

After perhaps a few minutes like this, Lena finally lifts her chin and pushes her glasses atop her head to rub at her tired eyes with the heels of her palms. She retrieves her phone from the pocket of her dressing gown, deliberates with herself for only a few seconds before she calls, catching her bottom lip between her teeth as the phone rings. It rings four times before Kara Danvers answers, voice thick with sleep.

“Lena?”

The clenching feeling in Lena’s chest eases as soon as she hears Kara’s voice on the other line. She can imagine her so clearly: sleep-tousled Kara, blinking wearily as she sits up in bed, rubbing sleep from her eyes as she pushes a mass of blonde hair back out of her face.

“Kara, hey. I’m sorry to wake you, I know it’s ridiculously late. I just, I seem to have a bit of a situation on my hands.”

“What is it?”  Kara's voice is still croaky, but she sounds more awake this time, alert. “Are you safe?”

“Yes. Yes, I’m okay—sorry, I probably should have led with that, shouldn’t I?” she gives an unconvincing laugh. “I need your help—Supergirl’s help. I seem to have somewhat of an, um, alien visitor.”

“You what?!”

“It’s okay—he’s not going to hurt me, I think,” Lena says quickly, detecting the rising levels of panic in Kara’s voice. She can hear the sounds of movement on the other end of the line: padding footsteps, quiet cursing as Kara presumably bumps into something, rustling as Kara changes out of her pyjamas (Lena tries her best not to become too distracted thinking about Kara in various stages of undress).

“I’ll be right over. Just stay put and try not to engage with him any further.” Kara’s tone is commanding, all Supergirl, and Lena subconsciously pulls her knees closer to her chest.

“Kara, wait—“ she says quickly, remembering an important detail. “I…I’m not at my apartment.”

There’s a pause, then: “Where are you?”

“I’m at my house.”

“You have a house?”

“Yes. I—I’ll text you the address. And another thing,” she adds, “don’t bring anyone else. I just want you.”

Another pause. “Fine. I’ll be there soon.”

Lena sighs as she hangs up and clutches her phone to her chest once she has sent Kara her address. She lets her head fall back against the wall, closing her eyes as she listens to the sound of running water coming from the shower. When she opens her eyes again, it’s because the door next to her has opened, and Mon El is staring down at her with a frown.

“Did you fall?” he asks.

“No.” Lena pushes herself up from the wall and slips her glasses back down over her eyes. “Come on,” she says tiredly. “I think we’ve earned ourselves a cup of tea.”

Mon El sits on a stool at her counter, hands gripping at his elbows as Lena sets a kettle on the stove to boil. There’s silence, pierced only by the shrill whistle of the kettle, which peters out as Lena removes it from the burner and pours its contents into two mugs, one of which she slides over to Mon El. He eyes the mug apprehensively, tugging at the string of the teabag.

“Leave it in for a few minutes. Then you can take it out and drink it,” Lena says. She sighs and leans back on the counter.

“I called someone,” she says finally. “Someone who can help.” Mon El looks sharply up at her, something like anger and fear flashing in his eyes, reminding Lena that whatever trust they have managed to build between them in this short space of time is tenuous at best.

“She’s an alien, like you,” she continues quickly. “She crash landed on Earth, just like you did. She’ll know what to do. I trust her with my life,” Lena says calmly, eyes locked with Mon El’s, like she can convince him with a look alone.

He still looks uncertain, opens his mouth perhaps to voice his concerns, but there’s a knocking at the door that cuts him off.

“That’ll be her. Just…stay here. You can take your teabag out now—drink,” Lena insists, giving him a short nod before she pushes herself off the counter and pads down the hallway to the front door.

Kara is in full Supergirl regalia when Lena opens the door, hands on hips and crinkle in brow. Lena notices Kara’s eyes wandering over her, like she’s performing some sort of mental calculations, and it occurs to her that she’s never seen her like this: spectacled, hair in a loose bun, wearing her slippers and dressing gown.

“What’s the matter?” she gives her a teasing smirk, shifts her weight to one hip. “Can’t recognise me with my glasses on?”

“Ha.”

Lena shuffles to the side to allow Kara entry, then leads her down the hallway. She notices the way Kara looks around her home, like she’s searching for pieces of a puzzle to put together.

“Thank you for coming. I’m sorry again for the late hour,” Lena says as they walk.

“Always, Lena.”

And Lena can’t help but give a small smile at those two words, because she knows what they mean. Kara will always be there for her when she needs it, no matter what.

She pauses just before entering the kitchen, eyes lingering on her slippers before she flicks them up to meet Kara’s. “Yes, well. Tonight has been a very strange night for me, to say the least. I’m glad you’re here.” Kara gives her a smile, but it doesn’t quite make it to her concerned eyes, and Lena takes a nervous breath. “Okay. No sense in putting it off. Let’s meet my visitor.”

They round the corner into the kitchen, where Mon El sits perched on his stool, sipping at his tea. As soon as they enter the room, Mon El sets his mug down and just stares at Kara.

Lena sees the way Mon El’s eyes fixate on the crest emblazoned on Kara’s chest. His nostrils flare, and Lena is briefly reminded of the way she looked at that crest the first time she saw it—like it was a thorned rose, or a loaded gun. Kara just stares back, but Lena doesn’t miss the way she shifts ever so slightly, putting herself between Lena and Mon El.

“Supergirl…this is Mon El, of Daxam.” Lena watches as Kara’s eyes widen briefly, then rearrange into a glare, her fists clenched by her side.

“That’s Prince of Daxam to you, Kryptonian,” Mon El sneers, chest inflating with what Lena recognises as artificial pride as he stands up from the stool.

“What are you doing here, Daxamite?” Kara seethes, her voice taking on a menacing quality Lena has only heard a few times before, only when she’s really angry.

“I can assure you, I’m not here by choice. No offence, Lena,” he adds, nodding in Lena’s direction.

“None taken,” Lena shrugs. “You’re not exactly the glass of wine I had been expecting to be my company for the night either.”

Kara looks between Mon El and Lena, eyes bulging. “Are you two—are you friends?”

Lena shifts, frowning slightly. “Well, I wouldn't say that, exactly. He crash landed in my backyard, and I helped him send out a distress call, that’s all.”

Kara’s hands plant themselves on her hips. “You helped him with a distress call?!”

“He’s in distress!” Lena exclaims, heaves an exasperated sigh and pinches the bridge of her nose. “Could I have a word with you, Supergirl?” She doesn’t wait for an answer before taking Kara by the elbow into the other room, Kara’s eyes maintaining their filthy glare until Mon El is out of her sight.

Lena folds her arms, stares at Kara with a frown.

“What is the matter with you?” she hisses.

“Me? I can’t believe you brought a Daxamite into your house! And the prince of them, no less!” Kara huffs.

“Earth to Kara: you’re forgetting I’m only human. Those words mean absolutely nothing to me.”

Kara exhales, running a hand through her hair. “Daxamites are bad news, ok? They’re selfish, hedonistic, violent jerks—and the prince is the worst of them. Do you know what he was known as? The frat boy of the Universe! And now he’s here, in your house!” Kara paces back and forth, gesticulating wildly before she fixes Lena with a look that’s somewhat accusing.

Lena shakes her head incredulously, taking a few small steps back. “Wow. Who would have thought that we’d ever see a Luthor, telling a Super to watch their prejudices. You’ve barely said a word to him, and you’ve already made your mind up about him.”

Kara scowls, crossing her arms over her chest. She looks back up at Lena and freezes, eyes going wide.

“He—he hurt you,” Kara’s voice turns low, dangerous, and her eyes are fixed on Lena’s throat, where angry purple bruises that clearly denote a handprint have formed.

Lena shifts, curling into herself as she pulls her robe closer around her in an effort to cover up her neck. Kara steps forward, however, and slips her hand beneath the material. Her fingertips graze her skin so gently, like she’s made of glass. Lena doesn't dare breathe, and looks up into stormy blue eyes.

“I’m gonna,” Kara growls, not even finishing her sentence before she’s stalking off to head into the other room, but Lena darts a hand out, catching her by the wrist and halting her in her tracks.

“Kara don’t,” she says quietly. Her whole body sags and she drops her head against Kara’s back, right between her shoulder blades. “Just don’t.” 

Kara releases a slow, drawn out breath, forcibly pushing the air from her lungs until there’s nothing left, and drops her chin down to her chest. Lena brings her other hand up to grip Kara’s arm, slides it down until she reaches a fist, which slowly unclenches and relaxes.

“Okay,” Kara whispers, eyes shut tight.

“Okay?”

“Okay.”

Lena finally releases her grip on Kara’s wrist and steps back, shoulders rising and falling with a sigh. Kara turns around slowly, and her eyes won’t leave the marks on her neck. “This,” she says softly, reaching back up to trace the bruises, “is not okay.”

Lena takes Kara’s hand in her own, holds it against her chest. “He was scared.”

“That’s no excuse.”

“You must have been terrified when you first got out of your pod. But you had Kal. He—he just has me, Lena Luthor, of all people,” she laughs weakly. “And you, I suppose, now that I’ve dragged you into this.”

Kara’s mouth is set in a firm line. “You should have called me sooner. I would have protected you.”

“I know. But, what’s done is done, and I’m fine,” Lena urges, trying to instil some calm in the tumultuous oceans of Kara’s eyes. “I’ve done what I can for him, but he needs your help now. Please.”

Kara’s head drops and Lena gives a small smile because she knows it means she’s brought Kara back around to her corner. “Alright, Lena,” she says quietly, and Lena gives her hand a squeeze before letting go.

Kara sighs and straightens, running her hands over her face. Lena can tell that she’s tired, despite how well her Supergirl outfit distracts from the fact. They head back into the kitchen, where Mon El is back on his stool, glare back on his face as soon as Kara enters the room.

“Alright, Daxamite. I’m bringing you in,” Kara says, and Lena can tell she’s trying her best to keep the edge out of her voice, for her sake, but she still doesn't quite pull it off.

Mon El’s mouth drops open and his eyes dart wildly between Kara and Lena. “No. No way. I’m not going anywhere with you, Kryptonian. Lena, please,” he begs, turning to her, and Lena feels her breath catch in her throat because he’s looking at her with that same desperation again, like she is his only lifeline on Earth. Which, in a way, she is.

“Your arrival on this planet is completely unauthorised,” Kara says sternly, crossing her arms. “There are rules, not that you Daxamites pay much attention to them.”

“I’m not going,” Mon El says stubbornly.

“I didn’t say you had a choice—“ Kara growls, but falls silent when Lena gently lays a hand on her arm.

“He’ll stay with me.” She speaks softly, yet both arguing aliens turn to look at her—one with relief, the other with disbelief.

“He’s dangerous, Lena. I won’t leave you alone with him.”

“Then stay,” Lena proposes firmly, then softens, allowing some of the exhaustion she feels to show on her face. “It’s late, we’re all tired. We should all get some rest, and we can deal with this in the morning,” she decided. “Supergirl, since it seems you’ll be staying too, would you like to borrow something more comfortable?”

Kara wears a frown before she plants herself on the couch, arms folded across her chest. “No thank you, Lena. I won’t be sleeping.”

Lena lifts a brow, sighs, shrugs. “Suit yourself. Mon El, you can sleep in the room where you had a shower. If you need anything, just let me know.” Mon El holds her gaze for a long moment, then eyes Kara for even longer, before he nods slowly and takes his leave.

He pauses at the door to Lex’s old room, and looks up to say “goodnight, Lena,” before disappearing inside and closing the door behind him.

Lena sighs and flops down on the couch beside Kara, allowing her head to drop down onto her shoulder. Kara remains rigid, no doubt looking through the wall to make sure Lena’s guest is, indeed, going to sleep. After a minute, Kara exhales and seems to relax, just that little bit.

“I’ll have to bring him in tomorrow. You know that,” she says.

“I know. Just, let him have tonight. He’s been through a lot.” She barely stifles a yawn with her hand, and rubs at the tears forming in her eyes. “And so have I.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologising,” Lena commands, bumping Kara’s shoulder gently. “Are you sure you don’t want something to change into? I think I have some pyjama pants with donuts on them tucked away somewhere,” she says, flashing a lopsided grin.

Kara shakes her head no. “I meant what I said. I won’t be sleeping.” She gets up from the couch and pushes it effortlessly, Lena giving a small squeak and she holds onto the cushion. Kara slides the couch so it is right in front of the hallway, giving her full view of the doors to both Lena and Mon El’s rooms.

Lena cocks an eyebrow at her. “Is this really necessary?”

Kara sits down beside her once more, a sentry taking up her post. “Absolutely.”

Lena sighs, resigned by her friend’s stubbornness, and leans against Kara, resting her cheek on her shoulder. They sit there for a short while, and Lena is halfway through convincing herself to just stay there and sleep, but she gives her head a quick shake to dispel the tempting thoughts.

“Goodnight, Kara. Please, try to get some sleep,” she murmurs before she draws herself up from the couch stretching her arms up over her head. Just before she closes the door to her room, she hears Kara whisper a goodnight back into the dark.

Chapter Text

The pod’s trajectory has left an open wound running straight through Lena’s garden. The remains of roses, lavender, geraniums, and hydrangeas lay decimated in the wake of the gouged earth, a massacre of coloured petals and green stems. Lena frowns slightly as she catalogues the damage and calculates the time and effort required to restore the garden to its former state, rubbing at her arms in the chilly morning air.

“I’m sorry about your garden.”

Lena straightens as Mon El appears beside her, his eyes also fixed on the ruined garden before them. “It’s ok,” she says, her breath puffing out in a small cloud. “I mean, it’s not…” she lifts into a one-shouldered shrug. “But you can help me replant.” Lena gives a small laugh when Mon El makes a face, scrunching his nose up. “Don’t be like that. A bit of manual labour never hurt anyone, your highness.” She supplements the joke with a soft bump to his shoulder.

Mon El’s smile, however, fades into a sad frown, eyes casting downwards as he scuffs his boot in the earth. “Please don’t.”

Lena tilts her head to the side. “Don’t what?”

“Don’t…call me that. Your highness. I don’t. I don’t want it.” He huffs a sigh and stretches his arms out in front of him, then pulls them back and scratches at his chin with his thumb.

Lena watches him closely, considers saying something about not getting to choose who we are, or where we come from, but she refrains, holds herself back. As far as fresh starts go, crashing onto an entirely new planet is about as fresh as it gets, so who is she to deny him the chance that she herself so desperately wanted but could never have.

“Okay. Just Mon El it is then,” she says, and returns his small smile as it settles back onto his lips.

A sigh from beside them has them both angling their heads to see Kara crouched down trying to fix a lop-sided orange rose. She’s risen from where Lena found her this morning, slumped sideways on the couch, cape thrown over her as an improvised blanket, evidently having succumbed to sleep throughout the night.

“Typical Daxamites,” Kara laments, “destroying yet another beautiful thing.” Her frown deepens as the rose refuses to straighten, sagging stubbornly despite her efforts.

Mon El’s expression darkens, and he directs it straight at Kara. “At least we have beautiful things on Daxam. If you stuck up Kryptonians had it your way, everything would be dark, and neat, and boring,” he snaps.

Kara flashes indignance, her mouth open no doubt to fire back some retort about Daxam, but Lena holds up two silencing hands between them. “Can you two cut it out for just five minutes? I haven't even had my coffee yet and you’re driving me up the wall—both of you,” she shoots pointed looks at the pair of them, who mirror each other as they scowl at the ground in a huff.

Lena sighs, rubs at her temple where she can already feel a headache coming on. “Thank you. Now,” she says, straightening up, “are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

Lena can’t help but chuckle as they both glare at each other when they speak at the same time.

“It seems we’ve found one thing you two have in common,” she muses, tapping at her chin with her index finger. “Mon El, go inside to the kitchen and get some things out for breakfast. Eggs, bread, cheese—whatever you like. You’ll find everything we need in the fridge.”

Mon El looks confused for a second. “The fridge…” he repeats slowly.

“The big, metal rectangle in the middle of the kitchen. It’ll be cold when you open it,” Kara says impatiently with an accompanying eye roll.

“Oh. Right.”

Lena gives him an assuring smile and nods him towards the house. Once he is inside, Lena sighs and fixes Kara with a frown.

“What?” Kara asks, rocking back on her heels, refusing to meet her eyes.

“You know what,” Lena says sternly. “I asked you here to help him, not jump down his throat at every opportunity.”

“He started it,” Kara grumbles, toeing at a rock on the ground.

“He just crash landed on earth, Kara. You’ve been here much longer than he has—you should know better.”

Kara juts her chin stubbornly, to which Lena arches a stern brow, and Kara sighs, shoulders slumping in resignation. “I hate it when you’re right,” she mumbles.

Lena softens, steps closer to her friend, and loops her arm through Kara’s. “Shame it happens so often, isn't it?” Kara hums her agreement, gives Lena’s arm a gentle squeeze and leans into her side. “Gosh,” Lena breathes thoughtfully. “Do you think we were ever this bad, Supergirl?”

“I don’t know, you tell me, Luthor,” Kara quips back with a small grin, and Lena laughs because Kara never says her name with the sting wielded by others. She only ever says it with affection, with kindness, and when Kara says it, it feels like it’s actually her name.

Lena chews on the inside of her cheek, running her eyes along the scar in the earth that digs through her garden, across the lawn, and ends at the pod and the splintered oak tree.

“I don’t claim to know or understand this interplanetary feud you two have going on, but he’s here, and he won’t say it, but he’s scared. And we have to help him. There’s only so much I can do, Kara, he…he has powers. He’s very strong, and I’m not sure if he can fly, but he managed to jump me up to the roof pretty easily,”

“He jumped you up to the roof?” Kara interjects, eyebrows shooting up towards her hairline.

Lena blinks back, nods. “Yes. He saved me, actually—from that.” She indicates the fallen tree and Kara pales, swallows hard, tenses beneath Lena’s arm.

“I see.” 

“He needs you, Kara,” Lena urges gently, pressing on as Kara wrinkles her nose. “I know you don't want to see it, but you’re alike. You’ve been through what he’s going through right now—you can help him.”

There’s the sound of shattering glass from inside the house, and a following yelp that startles the pair to attention. “Yeah,” Kara mutters, “He definitely needs help.”

They find Mon El scrubbing at the back of his neck apologetically, the shattered remains of a jar of pickles scattered across the kitchen floor.

“I wanted to try one of those weird looking green things and I just—I guess I don’t know my strength,” he says with a frustrated sigh.

There’s a flash in Kara’s eyes then—recognition, empathy perhaps—but it’s quickly replaced with irritation as she bends down to clean up the mess, grumbling something about how he should learn to be more careful.

Lena winces as Kara scoops the shards of glass into her bare hands. She knows it won’t hurt her, but she looks away regardless. Once the glass and fallen pickles are in the trash and Lena has mopped up the pickle juice with a tea towel, she sighs and places her hands on her hips.

“Okay, let’s try this over. Mon El, you help me with breakfast. Kara, you’re on coffee duty,” she instructs.

“You do love my coffee,” Kara says with a fond smile as she takes up her post by Lena’s coffee machine. When the barista at Noonan’s went on holiday for two weeks, Miss Grant had made Kara study under him in order to be able to replicate her daily latte to perfection. Since then, Kara could make a mean cup of coffee, and Lena took advantage of this whenever she could.

“I really, really do.”

Lena sets Mon El up with the task of chopping spring onions, which in hindsight, probably wasn’t the best idea, as he cuts himself pretty much instantly.

“Ow!” he yelps, jerking back and dropping the knife.

“Are you alright?” Lena asks, concerned as she peers over his shoulder to the chopping board, expecting to see blood at the very least, but there’s nothing there.

“I’m…I’m fine, I just—that should have hurt me.” He’s wearing the same expression he wore when he dropped Lena after choking her, sheer confusion as he inspects his finger for the cut that should be there, but isn’t.

“Invulnerability,” Kara says flatly from the coffee machine. “Looks like that’s another thing you’ve got here. Welcome to earth.”

“Maybe you should just whisk the eggs. Here.” Lena presses a bowl into Mon El’s hands and takes up his former position at the chopping board.

They get through cooking breakfast without any further incidents, and soon enough, Lena is piling heaping servings onto two plates for the ravenous aliens. She herself takes the coffee Kara made her and a bowl of fruit, leaning up against the counter as she watches the two of them shovel forkfuls of eggs into their mouths.

“Cute,” she notes with a small smile upon seeing the milky heart floating in her coffee.

Kara grins proudly back between mouthfuls. “Pretty good, right? I’ve been practicing. Aren't you going to eat?”

Lena shakes her head. “I prefer a light breakfast. Besides, you two seem to be working through that on your own just fine. Your appetites really are…” the corner of her mouth twitches into a wry grin, “out of this world.”

Kara groans enduringly, whereas Mon El snorts into his eggs. “That’s funny,” he observes, pointing with his fork. “Because we’re from space—out of this world. Very humorous, Lena.”

Kara rolls her eyes. “On Earth we don’t explain jokes, especially not terrible ones: we just laugh, or in this case, groan.”

“Oh.” Mon El falls silent again and prods at his eggs for a few moments before looking up at Lena. “Did anyone respond to our distress call?” he asks, eyebrows arched hopefully.

Lena shakes her head. “Not yet, but I’ll keep checking. It looks like you’re sticking around, for the time being.”

Mon El says nothing, but his fork folds in half in his clenched fist. Kara sighs and plucks the fork from his grip, bending it back into its original shape. (Lena suddenly feels incredibly weak, thinking vaguely about the microscope back in the L-Corp lab she often struggles to lift).

“Earth has a yellow sun,” Kara explains formally, “which charges aliens who come from planets with a red sun. Planets like Krypton and—regrettably—Daxam. That’s why you’re stronger here, and faster too. If you’re going to stay here, you need to learn to control your powers.”

Mon El watches Kara closely, seemingly hanging onto her every word. “How?” he asks. “How do I do that?”

Kara crosses her arms, juts her chin in the air. “Practice. And lots of hard work, which would be a novel concept for you, your majesty,” she drawls.

Mon El frowns deeply. “I want to work hard for this. I want to control what’s happening to me, I,” he turns sheepish and looks down at his plate, “I don’t want to keep breaking Lena’s things.” He looks up at Lena with a strained smile. “I broke one of the taps in the bathroom.”

Kara fixes him with an incredulous look. “Wait a second, you think you’re staying here? With Lena? You are sorely mistaken, Daxamite. You’re coming with me to the DEO, where you’ll stay until you learn to control your powers and can be a productive member of human society—which, judging by what I’ve seen from you so far, will be a long time. I’m sure we’ll find you a nice cell to live in, the other inmates tell me they’re very comfortable. Can’t say the same about the food, though. Because I’m feeling generous, I’ll even get you a TV.”

“Kara.” Lena’s voice is firm, and she fixes Kara with a stern look over the lip of her mug.

“What? Don’t tell me…”

“He can stay here.” She sets her mug down and smoothes the front of her dressing gown. It’s much easier to be commanding in a pencil skirt and designer blazer but she manages it in pyjamas anyway. She is a Luthor, after all. “If he’s going to learn to be a human, living with one would be the best way to do it, don’t you think?”

Kara’s head drops to one side, a pained expression on her face. “Does it have to be you? It’s going to be be like taking care of a child—a super-strong, super fast extraterrestrial child. Don’t you already have enough on your plate? What with L-Corp, and this secret house you apparently disappear to half the time?”

Kara gestures her arms to their surroundings, the crinkle taking up its position in the centre of her brow, and Lena’s expression softens somewhat. She knows she’s going to have to apologise to Kara about keeping this from her—they’d promised a long time ago not to keep secrets from one another. But this house was hard to let go of: it was one of the only things that was hers, and hers alone.

“I can handle it, Kara. If someone answers his distress call, I can help him communicate with his people. It just makes sense this way. Besides…” she retrieves her coffee, takes a long sip. “He owes me a new garden. And a new tap, apparently.”

Kara sighs, pinches her nose, mutters something about Luthors and their stubbornness, which only causes Lena to grin into her mug. “Fine,” she finally resigns (as if she had a choice). “But, I’m not leaving him with you unsupervised. If I can’t be here, I’ll have agents posted to your location. Agreed?”

Lena’s brows twitch into the beginnings of a frown, but she knows it’s in her best interest to compromise, so she nods, albeit reluctantly.

Mon El looks up at them hopefully. “So I can stay?” A smile spreads on his lips as Lena tells him yes. “Thank you, so much Lena, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am—“

“Don’t thank me just yet,” Lena says, a wicked grin taking hold of her lips and a twinkle sparking in her eye. “You won’t be staying here for free. You see, this house is very old, and there are a lot of jobs that need to be done which your particular skills make you perfect for. We can start, with that.” She points out the window, where the splintered oak tree is clearly visible.

Lena plucks both of the alien’s plates from in front of them and places them in the sink. “Go on, no time to waste,” she urges gleefully, and Mon El slips off the stool and heads outside.

Kara is blinking at her in an open mouthed stare. “Did you just…did you just wrangle free labour out of this arrangement?”

“I did,” Lena grins smugly. “What can I say? I’m a Luthor: I see an opportunity, I take it. Come on, he’ll need help.”

Lena slips her hand through the crook of Kara’s arm and leads her outside, laughing as she catches Kara murmuring ‘unbelievable’ under her breath.

Together, the two aliens manage to piece the fallen half of the oak tree back into position (bickering the entire time, of course), and Kara flies around and around the trunk with a long cable she finds, securing the tree tightly back together.

Lena stands between the Daxamite and the Kryptonian, one arm looped through each of them, and smiles as she admires the final product. “Good as new,” she says happily. “Amazing what a bit of teamwork can do.”

“I mean, I did most of it, but sure…teamwork,” Kara remarks flatly.

Lena ignores it and gives both of their arms a squeeze, pulling them closer to either side of her. She won’t say anything, but it’s freezing out here, and Kara always runs hot—Mon El is no different—so it’s like having her own personal space heaters, which is nice.

“This tree means a lot to me,” Lena says softly. “Lex and I would spend hours underneath it, reading, playing chess, talking. Before…well, before.” Her voice falters and her gaze tips down to her feet.

“I’m happy we could fix it for you, Lena,” Mon El says.

Kara wordlessly traces her thumb across Lena’s knuckles, gradually easing the tightness in her chest until she feels like she can breathe easily again. Kara knows all about Lena’s feelings about Lex, through words whispered to her huddled under blankets in Kara’s small apartment. She knows all about how Lex was Lena’s guardian angel—her hero—before he went mad and terrified the world. She knows how Lena still misses him, even when she wakes up in the middle of the night, dreaming of cruel laughter and flashing grey eyes.

Lena looks up to Kara’s face, and notices she won’t look away from the pod, which is in full view now that the tree is back together.

“It’s Kryptonian, isn't it?” Lena asks quietly. Kara nods, mouth set in a grim line.

Lena exhales, looks from the pod to Mon El, and has to remind herself that despite her gut feeling that he is trustworthy, she still knows very little about him. She shifts slightly, squeezes Kara’s arm, and leans her head on her shoulder as the breeze rustles the oak tree’s leaves.

Chapter Text

“Why do I feel like I’m dropping my kid off at his first day of school?” Lena murmurs, and it’s mostly to herself, but of course Kara hears.

“Maybe it has something to do with the way he’s staring like he’s never seen a billboard before.”

Lena’s eyes flick up to the rear view mirror where she sees Mon El sitting in the back seat, his forehead pressed up against the glass as he gazes at the world outside, completely slack-jawed.

“Hey Lena?” he asks, without even pulling his eyes away. “What is ‘Coke’ and why do I really want some all of a sudden?”

Lena laughs, eyes back on the road, though she doesn’t miss Kara’s eye roll. She’s quiet for a moment, thumbs the steering wheel until she reaches a red light and turns to look at Kara.

“Kara…” she says, and Kara grimaces in the way she does when she feels a lecture coming on. “This will be a whole lot easier if you just try and remember what it was like for you when you first got here. You can understand what he’s going through, you can relate to him.”

“I don’t want to relate to him. He’s a Dax—“

“Daxamite. I know.” Lena sighs wearily, gripping at the steering wheel. “You know, this whole Daxamite/Kryptonian routine is really getting old. It’s like all the times my potential business partners, or even your gang of friends, if I recall correctly, wouldn’t trust me because ‘I’m a Luthor’,” she says, rolling her eyes as she says the last words in a mocking tone.

Kara frowns, crossing her arms over her chest. “That’s different.”

“How, exactly?”

“Because you’re…” Kara stares up at the roof of the car, huffing a frustrated sigh, “well, you’re you.”

Lena quirks an eyebrow, because what on earth is that supposed to mean, but says nothing, and concentrates on driving. Kara is silent for a while, wearing a stubborn frown as she slumps down in her seat and looks out the window. When Lena glances back at her, the frown has faded somewhat, a more pensive look sliding in its place.

“Birds,” Kara says quietly, after a long silence. Lena arches an eyebrow, shows she’s listening, and Kara shifts in her seat, fiddling with the sleeves of her suit. “I thought birds were the strangest thing when I arrived here. We didn’t have anything like them on Krypton. I couldn’t stop staring at them—Alex thought I was the weirdest person on earth…which, I suppose, I was...She was so embarrassed of me.” Kara frowns slightly, glances back at Mon El, and worries at her bottom lip.

Lena reaches her hand across the console where she finds Kara’s, takes it in her own, and strokes her thumb across the back of her palm. She doesn’t let go until they reach their destination, when she cuts the engine and twists around in her seat to look at Mon El.

“Okay, here we are. The first day of the rest of your life,” she says, smiling broadly. Mon El just looks confused, and a little intimidated, and Lena scratches her head apologetically. “Sorry. I was going for inspiring, but I guess it just came out kind of ominous, like you’re stuck here forever or something—“

“I think now would be a good time for you to stop talking, Lena,” Kara interjects gently, which is a good call, as Mon El’s eyes were getting wider with every word.

“Right. Right, sorry. Anyway…good luck—both of you,” she says, directing a smile at each of her passengers.

“You sure you don’t want to come in? Winn is always so happy to see you.”

Lena shakes her head. “I’d better not. Last time I got locked in conversation with Winn, we spent two hours debating the finer points of electromagnetic conductivity—which, while fascinating, wasn't great for my productivity. I have work to do.”

Kara laughs, affection lighting up her eyes. “Guess that’s what I should expect from my two favourite nerds.”

“Come by my office at the end of the day?”

“Sure,” Kara nods, quirks a sceptic brow. “You know, for normal people ‘the end of the day’ is around five, right?”

“I know that,” Lena protests indignantly. “I’ll make sure I have everything done so I can finish early today.”

“On time, you mean,” Kara corrects, and Lena just shrugs, making a dismissive motion with her hand. Kara grins and unclips her seatbelt. “Okay, enough dilly-dallying. Come on Daxam—” she cuts herself short upon seeing Lena’s pointed look and sighs. “Mon El.”

Mon El grins and, takes a few attempts before he releases himself from his seatbelt. “My name sounds nice when you say it, Krypto—” Lena fixes him with the same look and it’s his turn to look sheepish. “Kara.”

Lena grins to herself as Kara hops out of her car, then looks over her shoulder to see Mon El leaning forwards through the middle, entering her personal space. “Yes?”

Mon El stares sceptically at the impatiently waiting Kara and the building they’re parked in front of (which, of course, looks like any normal building and not at all like a secret government agency full of alien technology and some of the galaxy’s most dangerous aliens).

“You’re sure about this? She’s not going to lock me up as soon as I walk in there?” he asks, and Lena detects the apprehension in his voice.

Lena softens and places a reassuring hand on Mon El’s shoulder. “This is the best thing for you—you said you wanted to learn to control your powers, right? Kara will help you do that. I know she comes off a little, ah, strong, but you can trust her to do the right thing. I trust her with everything, Mon El, so you can at least trust me on that. Besides…if anything happens to you, they’ll have me to answer to. I know you’ve really only seen me in pyjamas, but don’t let that fool you: I can be pretty scary when I want to be,” she says with a wink, flashing him a grin that is backed by memories of her taking down piggish men in investor meetings only just her words and a well-timed eyebrow raise. Good times.

Mon El takes a moment to look at her, searching her eyes for any misgivings. Finding none, he sighs and nods once. “Okay. If you think it’s a good idea.” Lena hopes her smile reinforces the fact that she does, and Mon El joins Kara on the sidewalk.

“Play nice, you two!” Lena calls out of the lowered window before pulling away, watching the two of them in the rear view mirror before they disappear into the building.

 

 

Lena spends most of the day staring at the clock. She can’t get lost in her work like she normally does: her mind is on a constant loop featuring extraterrestrial space pods, a splintered oak tree, Kryptonians and Daxamites, and the signal currently bouncing around in space, just waiting for someone to answer the call.

For the first time in probably forever, Lena Luthor’s mind is, quite literally, stuck in space.

The whoosh she's been anticipating all day finally arrives at around half past five (she left her balcony door open so she wouldn't miss it), and she spins hurriedly in her chair just in time to see Kara floating down to the ground, Mon El dangling from where she’s holding him by the scruff of his neck. He doesn’t seem to mind; in fact, his eyes and mouth are open in complete wonder.

“That was awesome,” he exclaims reverently. “Do you get to do that all the time?”

“Yep, pretty much,” Kara answers shortly, dropping him unceremoniously a metre from the ground before she touches down gracefully beside him, then strides into Lena’s office.

Mon El brushes himself off and jogs to catch up, face lighting up as soon as he sees Lena. “Did you see that?” he grins.

“Yes, Mon El,” Lena laughs.

“I hope I get to fly. If I can fly, I’ll never walk anywhere again,” he says, practically vibrating with energy.

“Didn’t your people just carry you everywhere anyway?” Kara asks dryly.

“No,” Mon El shoots back crossly, then mumbles, “only during royal ceremonies.”

Kara wrinkles her nose and shakes her head, turning instead to Lena. “Do you mind if I change? I’ve been wearing the suit for way too long,” she says, tugging agitatedly at the neckline.

“Of course. Use my office, we’ll wait out here.”

Lena takes Mon El back outside to the balcony, leaning against the railing with a contented sigh. “So,” she says, turning to look at him. “Tell me all about your first day.”

Mon El launches into an in depth recounting of his day. About how he met Agent Danvers, who was just a little scary, and Winn, who spoke far too quickly for him to catch anything meaningful, and Director J’onzz, who didn’t seem to like him all that much, but it was nice to know there were more aliens wandering about. About how he was pricked and prodded with needles, but nothing pierced his skin, which still freaks him out by the way. About how Kara tested his powers, and he can punch through solid blocks of concrete without even breaking a sweat.

“It’s so cool, Lena,” he says animatedly, “almost makes being stuck on an unknown planet worth it.” His broad smile fades as soon as he’s said the words, and his head drops down to look at his clasped hands. He clears his throat, scratches at his chin. “Any response to the distress call?” he asks, staring out at the city.

“Nothing yet,” Lena says gently. “As soon as we get anything, you’ll be the first to know. I promise.”

Mon El looks up at her, searching her eyes for something--reassurance, hope, perhaps--and nods slowly.

Lena holds his gaze for a moment, then looks away, nipping lightly at her bottom lip. “I got something for you,” she says. “Wait here.” Mon El’s eyebrows arch curiously as Lena ducks back inside, where Kara is now dressed and fixing her hair, and retrieves her surprise from her mini fridge. She pops back out and holds it out to Mon El with a grin.

His face lights up as soon as he sees the red and white can. “Coke!” he exclaims, taking it from her. “Open happiness!” he says, seeming pleased with himself for remembering the advertisement.

Lena chuckles. “Wow, Mon El. You sure are an advertiser’s wet dream.”

“A wet what?”

Lena grimaces. “Never mind. Go on, try it.”

Mon El pulls the tab, eyebrows arching in surprise at the ensuing crack and hiss, then takes a tentative swallow. He falls silent for a moment, then makes a face. “Argh! This is not what I imagined happiness would taste like. Why are tiny bubbles attacking my throat?” He screws up his face and rubs at his neck while Lena laughs.

“If you shake it before you open it, it explodes,” she notes with a grin.

Mon El shakes his head in disbelief. “This certainly is a strange planet.”

“You don’t have to finish it if you don’t like it.”

Mon El looks at Lena, then back at his coke can, and holds it protectively close to his chest. “No. I like it,” he says and takes a long demonstrative gulp.

The door to Lena’s office clicks open and shut behind them and Kara is standing there, having swapped her Supergirl suit for a fitted grey skirt, a pale pink button up, and a green cardigan, her glasses firmly in position.

Mon El gazes at Kara very strangely, looking at her over with his mouth slightly open, until he seems to remember himself and brightens up with a smile. “Hello, friend of Lena!” he says warmly. “It’s nice to meet you, my name is Mon El.”

Kara blinks incredulously between Mon El and Lena. “Is he serious right now? Mon El, it’s me. Kara. You just saw me leave.”

“Oh you can’t possibly be her, the Kara I know is much less attractive,” Mon El says confidently.

“What the hell, man!” Kara cries and stamps her foot, turning a furious shade of red. It’s more than enough to send Lena into hysterics, and she nearly doubles over with laughter.

“On the positive,” Lena manages, wiping at a tear in her eye, “your so-called disguise seems to be working.”

Kara scowls, stalks over to Mon El and punches him in the shoulder, causing him to wince and rub at the affected area.

“Yep, that feels familiar. Very strong. Hello Kara.” He looks her up and down, nodding approvingly. “Nice disguise. Ooh, do I get a disguise?”

“You’re not a superhero, so no,” Kara says firmly.

“Although…” Lena hums thoughtfully. “Mon El is a bit of an off-kilter name. Maybe we should think about coming up with a new one? One that’s more, ah, human?”

Mon El frowns slightly. “I like my name. Why should I change it to be more human?”

Lena bites her lip. “Humans can be…a difficult species. I know better than most how their close-mindedness can harm. For now, it’s for the best that you lay low—at least while we’re still figuring things out. So…how about Mike?”

“Mike.” Mon El says it slowly, thoughtfully, getting a feel for it in his mouth. “I can do Mike.”

“Kara? Thoughts on the name Mike?”

“Hm?” Kara looks up from where she has been picking at a stray piece of fluff from her cardigan. “Oh, Mike. Yeah, Mike is good. Very human, very bland. Suits you,” she says with a smirk, and Lena shoots her a chastising look, but it’s compromised by the smile that is uncontrollably present when she’s around Kara Danvers.

“Alright then,” she claps her hands together. “Mike it is. When we’re around other humans who don't know about you, at least. Otherwise, you can just be Mon El with us,” she says and Mon El nods agreeably. “Another thing,” Lena continues, looking Mon El up and down. He’s still wearing Lex’s old shirt. “We’re going to need to get you some clothes.”

They head to a department store, where Lena loads both Kara and Mon El up with a full wardrobe for Mon El, complete with every day wear, exercise gear, pyjamas, formal wear, and winter gear.

(“You know he doesn’t get cold, right?”

“Oh yeah, because wearing a t-shirt in the freezing cold just screams human.”)

They shove him into a changing room to try on his new clothes and sit on a couch, nodding or shaking their heads in approval or disapproval when he occasionally pops out in a new outfit. As the time ticks by, Kara sighs and slumps down on the couch, resting her head on Lena’s shoulder.  They start playing scrabble on Kara’s phone, passing it back and forth between each other.

“You’re really going all out with this whole ‘adopt an alien’ thing, aren't you?” Kara asks after Mon El disappears back inside the changing room for the eighth or ninth time.

Lena shrugs. “I suppose, if that’s what you want to call it. He landed in my backyard, Kara. I feel…I don’t know, responsible for him? I don’t believe in luck or destiny or anything like that, but I do believe in statistics, and the statistical probability of him landing in that exact spot where I just happened to be is just…” she pauses, searching for the right words, lands on “beyond calculation. There has to be a reason. Besides…it’s kind of nice to be needed,” she admits.

“Hey,” Kara pouts, “I need you plenty.”

Lena scoffs. “Sure you do, Supergirl.”

Kara angles her head to look up at Lena, a slight frown marking her brow. “I might have super strength, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need you to be strong. I do, Lena.”

Lena swallows because Kara is speaking so intimately, like her words are a gift for her ears alone, in that way that makes her heart drum in her chest, so hard she’s sure Kara would be able to hear it even without super hearing. “I know,” she says. She loops her arm through Kara’s, giving it a squeeze. “I need you too.”

Mon El bursts out from the change room, clad in dark jeans and a cool looking leather jacket, turning as he admires his reflection from multiple angles. “I have to say, Earth fashion is—what did Winn say today?— crushing it!”

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, you look great," Kara says, fidgeting irritably in her seat. "Are you done yet?" 

"I still have my pyjamas to try on," Mon El says happily, and disappears back inside the changing room before Kara can raise the point that pyjamas really don't need to be tried out. 

She groans and flops back into the couch, taking her phone back from Lena. Her eyes flash furiously when she looks at the screen. "Are you kidding me?! You got a triple word score on the word QUARTZ? That's, like, a hundred points in one go!" she cries, eyes bulging, making Lena cackle mercilessly. "That's it, I'm not playing anymore."

"Aw, come on, Kara, it was just getting good," Lena pouts.

"Only because you were crushing me. This game is rigged, I only had crappy vowels and an X anyway," Kara grumbles, crossing her arms over her chest. 

Lena laughs and puts an arm around Kara's shoulders, squeezing the world's grumpiest alien until she finally softens and curls into her side. 

Chapter Text

Mon El gets better as the days go by. He breaks fewer things as he acclimates to his powers, and learns more about humans and living on earth. His days are spent training with agents at the DEO as well as Kara, while his nights are usually spent with Lena at her National City apartment, reading books or watching TV to learn more about human culture and history when Lena is too busy with work to talk.

Staying true to her word, when Kara finishes with her Supergirl duties, she swoops in through Lena’s window and relieves the DEO agent she has posted at Lena’s door. She spends every night on the couch, watching the doors to Lena and Mon El’s respective rooms until she finally allows herself to fall asleep.

On more than one occasion, Lena wakes in the middle of the night to find Kara slumped over—not quite sitting, not quite lying down—fast asleep. Her heart clenches when she sees her like this, and the feeling is exacerbated even further by the small noise Kara makes as she gently guides her to lie down and covers her with a blanket. Lena crouches in front of her a few moments, listening to the sleeping hero’s soft breaths, and tucks her hair behind her ear before returning to her own bed.

Every morning and evening, Mon El asks if there has been any response to the distress call, and every time, Lena has to say no. After a week of nothing, she begins to worry. Surely, someone, somewhere in the universe is looking for Daxam’s prince?

Lena seeks out the help of Winn, who tells her he can get some satellite readings from where Daxam should be, but that it will take a few days to get the data back. Lena is between meetings when she finally gets a text from Winn.

Winn Schott [1.18pm] Got the readings back. You should come in, if you can. Kara is here already.

Lena Luthor [1.19pm] I’m on my way.

Lena tells Jess to cancel her afternoon meetings and within minutes, she’s in her car headed for the DEO. When she arrives, she finds J’onn, Alex, Winn, and Kara all sitting in the briefing room, all wearing matching solemn looks. Kara, especially, looks like she’s just been told she’s gluten intolerant, or some other tragedy of similar magnitude.

“What’s going on?” Lena asks, setting her handbag down. “Where’s Mon El?”

“Training with Vasquez,” Alex answers.

“We thought you should have some input on how to handle the situation,” J’onn says stiffly.

Lena raises an eyebrow, vaguely wondering when exactly she became Mon El’s unofficial handler (probably somewhere between when she opened his pod and he accidentally ended up moving in with her). “Okay…what’s going on?” she turns to Winn. “What did you find?”

Winn twists his fingers in his cardigan, fidgeting before he picks up some papers and shuffles through them. “The scans and readings we got from Daxam…there’s nothing there. The debris from Krypton destroyed everything, the whole planet’s been wiped out. It’s gone.”

Lena falters, leaning against the desk for support. “Are you sure?” she asks.

“Positive. The data confirms it.”

“God,” Lena breathes, rubbing at her temple. “He’s going to be devastated.” There’s silence for a long time, all of them staring at the floor, the weight of another lost world weighing heavy on the group. Kara is the one to break the silence.

“It’s for the best,” she says quietly, eyes trained on the ground. “The planet was built on the backs of slaves, and the people were selfish and thought of nothing but themselves. Krypton never should have colonised there.” She speaks coldly, unfeelingly, her hands clenched in fists with her arms crossed.

“Kara…”  Lena swallows and looks at Kara, and it’s like she can barely recognise her. “It was still his home. His people.” Kara closes her eyes and says nothing, and Lena gets the feeling that she’s very, very far away. “We have to tell him,” Lena says.

“No,” Kara says sharply, finally looking at Lena, but Lena almost wishes she hadn’t because the fire that blazes in her eyes is something that makes her withdraw, which is something she never thought she’d do when Kara was concerned.

Lena frowns, forcing herself to stand tall, elongating at the neck just like her mother taught her. “What do you mean? He has to know.”

Kara shakes her head firmly. “It’s too dangerous. We don’t know how he’ll react.”

Lena groans, “not this again. He’s not going to hurt anyone, Kara. How can you not trust him yet?”

“I’m not saying he’ll do it intentionally,” Kara says, and it’s almost clinical. “He doesn’t have control over his powers yet. This will be a huge shock—there could be consequences we can’t predict.”

“I’m with Supergirl on this one,” J’onn says, his voice heavy. “We should wait until we know for sure that Mon El is not a threat, whether he means to be or not.”

Lena stares incredulously at the faces around her, wondering if everyone has gone mad, but they’re all wearing the same solemn, resigned expressions. She looks at Kara the longest, wondering what on earth could be going through her head right now.

“We’ll give you two a moment,” J’onn says, clearly picking up on Lena’s distress. He leads Winn and Alex out of the room, Alex’s worried eyes lingering on Kara for a moment before she leaves the two of them alone.

There’s quiet for a long while, during which Kara practically bores a hole in the ground with her stare and Lena just watches her closely. After almost a few minutes, Lena takes tentative steps towards Kara.

“This feels wrong,” Lena all but whispers, her voice cutting through the silence.

Kara finally drags her eyes from the floor and they settle on Lena. Lena recognises what she sees swirling in their blue depths now: pain, and fear. “Until we can be sure he won’t hurt you, we have no choice.”

Lena shakes her head vigorously. “If this is all for my sake, I don’t want it. You don’t have to protect me all the time, Kara. I know I’m only a fragile human, but I can handle myself,” she says sharply.

Kara softens just a bit and reaches out for Lena’s arm. “I know you can, Lena. You’re one of the strongest humans I know, but I still have to protect you. I promised, remember? Always.”

Lena sighs, because she’s pretty sure that word from Kara can get her to do just about anything. Kara gives her arm the slightest tug and she gives in, all to easily, folding herself into Kara’s arms, her own slipping underneath her cape to circle around her waist.

“It’s not just for your sake,” Kara murmurs. “Finding this out…it will change his whole world. If I could have just one more day thinking Krypton was still alive, safe, I would take it in a heartbeat. We can give him that, Lena.”

Lena is quiet, but she tucks her head under Kara’s chin and presses her ear to her chest, listening to her heartbeat. It’s strong, steady, and everything she doesn’t feel at this moment. Still, she finds herself whispering an “okay” into the fabric of Kara’s suit.

 

 

When the weekend finally comes, the three of them journey back to Lena’s house, where Mon El spends all of Saturday jumping up and down from Lena’s roof, cleaning gutters and fixing broken tiles while Lena drinks wine and reads a book, and Kara works on a story for Snapper. Kara has been more stressed and irritable than Lena has ever seen her recently, so they don’t talk much. 

After Lena has spent a few hours lazing in the cool autumn sun, Mon El lands hard on the ground next to the two, causing Kara to use her super speed to catch Lena’s wine glass before it topples off the table.

“Watch it,” Kara frowns as she hands the glass back to Lena.

“Not a drop spilled,” Lena remarks, gives a wry twitch of her brow. “My hero.”

Not even that manages to draw a smile from Kara, so Lena sighs and puts her book down. She reaches into the cooler by their sun chairs and retrieves a coke (Mon El’s new favourite drink) for Mon El.

Mon El accepts it gratefully and takes a long drink, wiping at the sweat that has formed on his brow. “Thanks. This is slave labour, honestly Lena.”

He says it lightly, but Lena notices the twitch in Kara’s mouth, and also the far less subtle way the space bar cracks under her thumb. 

“Yes, well…you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you, Daxamite?” Kara says coolly, not even looking up from her laptop as she continues to type.

Mon El frowns as he finishes the can and crushes it in his hand. Lena shrinks back in her chair, feeling the electricity crackling between the two aliens. Things have been tense between the pair recently—more tense than usual, at least—and Lena thinks it’s no coincidence that the spike of tension occurred right after Kara found out the truth about Daxam. Mon El, meanwhile, became more agitated each day, when Lena told him there had still been no response to his distress call (a response which, she now knew, would never come).

Mon El folds his arms across his chest, juts his chin out with a scowl. “If you’re talking about the servants we had on Daxam, I’ll have you know, we treated them very well, and they were grateful to serve us,” he says stubbornly. “They had a much better fate than if they had gone to Krypton to become test subjects for your whacko experiments.”

Kara looks up from her laptop now, eyes flashing dangerously. “Excuse me?”

“You heard what I said,” Mon El counters, standing his ground. “Your people were so blinded by your thirst for knowledge and discovery, you’d crush any individual or civilisation in the name of progress. And for what? You ended up destroying your own planet, oh, great job Kryptonians,” he drawls and claps his hands slowly. “And not only did you destroy yourselves, you over-achievers went ahead and inflicted your destruction upon Daxam too! It’ll take decades for my people to rebuild what we had.”

“Ha! Try forever.”

Kara must instantly regret the way she bites the words out, because she clamps her mouth shut as soon as they have escaped her lips, and the rage that had filled her expression and shoulders disappears, deep regret sliding into place instead.

Mon-El’s eyes narrow. “What do you mean?” He catches the way Lena and Kara exchange concerned looks, squares his shoulders and directs his attention at Lena. “Lena, what is she talking about?”

Lena swallows hard around the lump that has taken up residence in her throat, her heart cracking already as she looks at Mon El’s face, which is so strained, it’s like he already knows what is coming.

“Mon El…I’m so sorry, we were going to tell you, we just didn’t know how.” Lena doesn’t miss the way Kara tenses, readying herself to get between Mon El and Lena at the slightest indication of danger. She takes a deep breath before continuing. “Daxam…is destroyed. It’s gone. Nothing survived the debris…except you, as far as we know.”

Mon El’s entire body tenses up as Lena delivers the blows. His face is unreadable, twitching occasionally at the mouth and eyes, like he’s trying to say something, but can’t find the words. And his eyes, usually so bright and alert, are just filled with pain like Lena has only seen in one other person before.

Lena chances a glance at Kara, who is just staring at her hands, shoulders bowed with guilt. “You should go, Kara,” Lena says quietly, but Mon El raises a silencing hand. Kara’s head snaps up at his sudden motion, fists clenched at the ready.

“No,” Mon El says, his voice cracking as he drops his arm. “I’ll go.” Without another word, he tears away down the road, moving faster than Lena has ever seen him run.

Lena pulls her knees up to her chest and drops her head down onto them. “That…did not go well,” she mumbles into the crevasse of her legs. She lifts her chin to rest on her knees, rubs at her eyes underneath her black-rimmed glasses. “That wasn’f fair, Kara. He shouldn’t have found out like that.”

Kara scrubs the back of her neck, brow furrowed as she fixates on the distant cloud of dust Mon El leaves in his wake. “Lena…” she says, finally looking back at her. “Why do you care so much about him? You don’t have to do this—protect him, I mean. You don’t owe him anything. If anything, he owes you.”

Lena pushes her glasses up on top of her head, hugs her knees closer and frowns quietly to herself. “I suppose…” she says after a moment’s pause, “he reminds me of Lex. Of the brother I had—the one I lost. Of course, he and Lex couldn’t be more different, but when I look at him—I feel the same. I can’t quite explain it, but it’s there. I just…don’t want to lose that. Not again.”

Kara nods slowly, picks at a loose thread on her sun chair. She looks like she almost reaches out for Lena, but she changes her mind halfway and withdraws. Then, she stands abruptly.

“I should go talk to him.”

Lena darts a hand out and grips onto Kara’s own before she can dash off (the aliens in Lena’s life seem to have a habit of tearing off before she’s finished talking—it can be frustrating, to say the least).

“Be kind, Kara,” Lena says. “He’s just lost his entire world.”

Kara nods, runs her fingers through her hair. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you, Lena,” she says softly, looking at Lena with heavy blue eyes. “You were right. If anyone’s going to understand him, it’s me."

 

The sun has long set and Lena is busy cooking when Kara and Mon El return. She’s not even sure if they’ll want to eat, but she is able to lose herself in the spices and smells of her favourite curry, so it’s a more than welcome distraction.

Mon El foregoes dinner and heads straight to his room, but Kara eats triple portions, which Lena feels is partly for her sake, though she appreciates it nonetheless. Kara doesn’t say much as she eats, other than that Mon El is processing everything, and he will be for some time, but that he’s not a danger to himself or the people around him as a result of the news.

Lena notices Kara is covered in a light coating of dust, and she raises an inquisitive eyebrow as she picks some rubble out of the blonde’s hair.

“Oh, that. We spent about an hour punching a cliff face,” Kara explains with a shrug.

“Huh!” Lena's eyebrows arch curiously at Kara's idea of a heart-to-heart.

“It was actually a great stress reliever, we worked through a lot of tension. You should try it sometime.”

Lena shakes her head. “I think I’ll stick with yoga and wine, thank you.”

Lena clears Kara’s plate once she has finished and pushes her sleeves up to her elbows as she starts washing the dishes in the sink. “Are you okay, Kara?” she asks over the running water. “I know we’ve been focused on Mon El, but this whole thing must have stirred up some things for you, too. We can talk about it, if you like…” Lena falters towards the end of her sentence as Kara appears beside her and turns the water off.

“I’m okay, Lena,” Kara says.

“You promise?”

Lena tilts her head up to look into Kara’s crystalline eyes, and swallows as she becomes very much aware of how close they are together—close enough to stir the butterflies in her stomach she thought she had trained into stillness, but stubbornly break rank whenever Kara gets this close while she’s looking at her like that.

“Promise.”

Lena nods, her hands absently scrubbing over a bowl that is definitely clean by this point. She sets the bowl down in the sink and flicks her hands off, casting her eyes around vainly for a tea towel, which Kara ends up producing seemingly out of thin air, without even having to look away. Lena dries her hands, continues gripping onto the towel.

“And what about us?” she asks, with some trepidation. “Are we okay? We’ve been disagreeing a lot lately…”

The corner of Kara’s mouth pulls up into a lopsided smile, and Lena’s heart aches with how much she’s missed seeing that smile on those lips.

“Now how is that any different to what we’re usually like? Let’s not forget the great kale debate of last month.”

“It really is good for you, Kara, and you really should be eating more vegetables,” Lena says flatly. “How you manage to subsist entirely on pizza and processed carbs and still have the energy to save the world while also having abs of steel is, quite frankly, beyond me.”

“Kryptonian physiology, baby,” Kara grins. “Also, kale tastes like Winn’s socks took a bath in Hellgrammite drool after he’s spent all weekend in his man cave watching Star Wars and eating Cheetos. Nothing you ever do or say will convince me otherwise.” 

Lena wrinkles her nose at Kara’s vivid description. “That’s…specific.” She lets out a short laugh that causes her shoulders to drop all the tension she has been carrying. “We’re okay,” she says, relieved. She allows herself to slump forwards into Kara’s chest, and eases in the feeling of Kara’s arms wrapping around her, giving her a short squeeze.

“We’re okay,” Kara affirms. “Always.”

Lena smiles into Kara’s cardigan, breathing in honey and a strange yet not at all unwelcome hint of popcorn, and twists the material in her fingertips. They stay there for a while, until Kara pulls back and touches her forehead to Lena’s.

“Let me take care of the dishes. You already made dinner, and I need to do—something.”

Lena sighs as she straightens up, handing Kara the tea towel. “Okay, they’re all yours. Just, make sure you don’t break anything.”

Kara pouts. “That was one time!”

Lena grins and flicks some water from the sink at Kara. “Yeah, and it was my favourite bowl, so I’m not letting you forget it.”

While Kara does the washing up, Lena finds Mon El sitting on the roof above her veranda. All she can see are his legs dangling down as she steps outside.

“Mon El…are you okay?” She asks, craning her head out over the veranda to try and look up at him, but the rest of him is obscured by the roof.

After a pause, his voice floats down. “Is it alright if I say no?”

“Of course it is. I’d be a little worried if you said yes, to be honest…Can I join you?”

Mon El’s legs disappear from view and are replaced by his arm, which Lena grips onto. She closes her eyes, suffering through the lurching of her stomach as she is pulled up onto the roof with ease. Mon El shuffles back from the edge and brings his knees up to his chest. Lena sits beside him, mirroring his position.

Mon El pulls his eyes from the stars above to look Lena up and down. “I see the dressing gown has made a reappearance,” he observes.

Lena pulls the lapels of the gown closer around her, tucking her chin down in the plush material. “It’s comfy. I could get you one, if you like.”

“I don’t think I could pull it off like you can, Lena.”

Lena sighs wistfully. “You’re probably right, it is a strong look.” The corner of Mon El’s lips twitches into something that’s almost a smile, before dropping once again. “Do you want to talk about it?” Lena asks.

Mon El drops his head. “I don’t know what to say. One day I’m stranded here waiting for my people to rescue me, and the next, not only am I waiting for a rescue that will never come, I’m also the last of my species, probably.”

“I can’t even imagine what you must be going through,” Lena says quietly, twisting at the tie of her dressing gown.

It’s not for a lack of trying. Ever since Kara told her she was Supergirl, she took every opportunity she could to get an understanding of what Kara had experienced. Kara didn’t talk about it much, but when she did, Lena drank in every word, trying her best to catch and memorise every shift in expression as Kara spoke.

Lena has even bent Alex’s ear to find out whatever she could from the older Danvers. She knows about the way Kara’s senses overloaded during her first few months on earth. She knows about the dreams that still have her waking up in the middle of the night, shaking and crying over a burning planet.

Lena has amassed an entire database of knowledge about what Kara went through, but she still can’t begin to fathom what it’s like to live bearing the weight of an entire planet, an entire culture, on one’s shoulders. The fact that Kara isn’t crushed by it all is astounding to her. And now, Mon El is going through the same thing, and all Lena can do is sit, and try her best to listen.

“Do you want to know the worst part?” Mon El asks, and Lena tilts her head. He clasps his hands together over his knees, rubbing at his thumbs.

“I spent every day I was there, hating it,” he admits , his voice tight. “I wanted nothing more than to get away, and leave it all behind. But…I was the prince. I had to stay, to one day fulfil my destiny and lead my people to glory and prosperity, or whatever. But I didn’t want it. I thought about running away, but I was too cowardly. I was too cowardly to even run away, Lena,” he shakes his head disbelievingly. “Well. I suppose I got what I wanted,” a bitter edge enters his voice.

He angles himself towards her, places a hand over his chest, closing a fist around the material of his sweater as he speaks.  “There’s all this pain inside of me…but I feel like I don’t even deserve it, because of how much I hated being the prince. Like it’s not mine to feel.”

Lena feels a stabbing sensation shooting through her chest because that, that she can relate to. She feels it when she thinks of how she misses her family, in this wrong and uncomfortable way—especially since she ultimately played a hand in catching Lillian and taking down CADMUS.

“Mon El…” Lena closes her eyes, hands falling loosely in her lap. “Your pain is yours, and it is real, and it is valid. Feeling it doesn’t make you weak.”

What Mon El doesn’t know is that this is a mantra Kara has repeated to her over and over, whispered in her ear when she thought she would never feel anything but pain again throughout her mother’s entire trial. She did, eventually, and she grew, and slowly she replaced pain with beautiful things—like books and game nights with Kara’s friends and long work breaks for brunch and cooking and her garden and Kara Danvers’ smile.

She opens her eyes gives what she hopes is a comforting smile when she finds Mon El looking right back at her. “Thanks, Lena. I…I needed to hear that.”

Lena pushes a lungful of air from her lips and rocks backwards on the heels of her palms, head tipped up to the sky. “So did I, some time ago,” she murmurs.

Mon El heaves a sigh, and everything about it feels heavy. “I have to believe I survived for a reason, like Kara,” he says. “She…she’s made something of herself, despite, and maybe even because of what happened to her.” He clenches his hand, his mouth set in a determined line. “I’m the last Prince of Daxam. I have to make that mean something. Right?”

Lena fixes Mon El with a look and places a hand on his arm, giving him a squeeze. “You will, Mon El.”

There’s a disturbance in the air currents around them, and then Kara floats up from below. “Room for one more?” she asks, head tilted to the side. Kara’s eyes linger on Lena’s hand on Mon El’s arm for a moment before flicking back to her face.

Lena nods her assent and Kara touches down in front of her, settling down onto the roof. She tips her head back indicatively, and Lena scoots back a little, so Kara can lay down with her head in her lap. Lena can’t help but smile fondly when she sneaks a glance at the blonde to catch her blue eyes wandering the skies. Lena takes the fluffy end of her robe’s tie and trails it lightly across Kara’s cheekbones, exchanging a small conspiring grin with Mon El as Kara screws up her nose and bats it away.

“You know,” Kara muses, her voice the only rupture in the still night, “on a clear night like tonight, we can see Rao.”

Lena tilts her head curiously. “Really?”

“Yeah. It took me a couple of months to get the math right, but I figured it out a few years after coming  to earth.” Kara cranes her neck, arching her eyebrows to look back at Mon El. “Want me to show you?”

Mon El scratches at his head as he looks up at the stars. “I…I don’t think I’m ready for it, at least not yet. I’ll let you know when I am. But knowing Rao is there, watching over us even though we’re not in his light…it’s comforting. Thank you, Kara.”

Kara’s eyes linger on Mon El for a little while, considering him. “Yeah. I thought that too,” she says quietly. She catches her bottom lip in her teeth and lifts her eyes skywards once more, absently reaching up for Lena’s hand.

Lena strokes her thumb across the back of Kara’s palm and rests her head on Mon El’s shoulder. The weight of an entire planet must be impossible to bear alone, even for a person with super strength. She squeezes Kara’s hand and closes her eyes tight, hoping that both of them know her shoulders are there at the ready to take some of the weight.

Chapter Text

Mon El’s brow is furrowed, his tongue caught between his teeth as he stares intently down at the black and white squares of the chess board.

“This makes no sense, Lena,” he says. “Why can my horse jump over your guys, but my castle can’t? That doesn’t seem fair.”

“It’s the knight and the rook, and those are the rules,” Lena answers bluntly. “Besides, have you ever seen a castle jump in a real life? It does too make sense.”

Mon El huffs a sigh and slumps back in his chair. “I know you love this game, but it’s making my brain hurt. Can you teach me something else?”

Lena finds herself chuckling, because Mon El is about as opposite to Lex as a person could get. “Sure. I think I have a deck of cards hiding somewhere.”

While Lena rummages around in her bookshelf, Mon El slips off his chair and scoots closer to the TV, hugging his knees to his chest as he stares intently at the screen.

Lena sits down next to him, and sets about dealing out cards for Go Fish. Mon El is watching the National Geographic channel in wrapt attention. For the past few weeks, particularly since he found out about Daxam, he’s watched practically nothing else apart from travel shows, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel.

Lena has the feeling that if he could fly, he’d be zooming off to all corners of the earth in a flash. She’s not sure how to feel about that; she’s gotten quite used to having him around. There’s a small part of her she doesn’t want to acknowledge that is glad he can’t fly.

A small reverent sound escapes Mon El’s lips. “Wow…Can we go there, Lena?”

Lena looks from the cards to see an aerial shot of the Grand Canyon, its earthy reds and oranges spreading out infinitely across the landscape. She thinks for a moment, watching Mon El’s face, his eyes wide with wonder. He does this a lot, when he sees somewhere he wants to go on the TV. But usually it’s on the other side of the world, and Lena is just too busy for those kinds of trips.

The Grand Canyon, though. That’s not too far.

“Maybe,” Lena answers, reluctant to fully commit to anything.

Mon El breathes a heavy sigh, a forlorn look taking hold of his face. “I feel like a change of location will really help me process the whole ‘being the last of my kind’ and ‘having my planet destroyed’ thing. The moustachioed Doctor on the TV called it ‘the geographical cure’.”

Lena laughs out a groan. The ‘last prince of Daxam’ is a trump card, and Mon El knows how to play it almost as well as Kara.

“Next time I’m able to get a weekend off, we’ll see,” she relents.

Mon El beams and turns back to the TV, then pouts as the picture suddenly changes. “Hey!” he exclaims indignantly.

“Kara,” Lena breathes, sitting forward on her knees.

On the screen, is an interrupting newscast showing a shot of downtown National City, where a giant, purple alien is causing thousands of dollars worth of property damage while also kicking Supergirl’s ass. The alien has her clutched in its fist and slams her down to the ground, causing a gasp to escape Lena’s lips as she startles from the impact.

“I’ve got to help her,” Mon El declares, already up on his feet.

“Wait!” Lena quickly hops up and runs to her hall closet, rummaging through some boxes until she finds what she’s after. She sprints back and jams the half ski mask over Mon El’s head, pushing his hair back as it pops out. “Every hero needs a disguise,” she says, giving him a quick look over before hurriedly telling him to go.

Mon El nods and heads for Lena’s balcony, Lena’s stomach swooping unpleasantly as he just leaps off the edge. Lena scurries back to the TV, dropping down to her knees in front of it, her breath caught in her chest as she watches.

“Come on, come on, come on,” Lena begs under her breath, her hands curled into fists atop her thighs.

The alien lifts its fist high into the air, about to bring it crashing down onto Kara, who is already lying in a crater in the middle of the road. And then—Mon El streaks in out of nowhere, and his fist connects with the alien’s middle, the combined force of his speed and strength sending it flying back into the water fountain.

Lena lets out a squealed “Yes!” and leans even further forwards, watching as Kara grasps onto Mon El’s offered arm and he pulls her to her feet. They both turn their eyes to the alien and go in at him together, swirling around in a dizzying flurry of punches and attacks.

Lena’s nails dig into the flesh of her palms as she tries to follow the action, wincing when she catches Mon El taking a few painful looking blows. Together, they manage to fell the alien fully into the fountain, where Kara flies up and seals the it in with her freeze breath.

The people in the square cheer, but Kara doesn’t smile and wave like she usually does. Instead, she flies over to Mon El, who is on his knees, clutching at his side. Lena swallows hard, and watches as Kara scoops him up and carries him into the sky. The newscast returns to the anchors, who congratulate Supergirl on saving the day yet again and speculate about her mysterious sidekick, and then, the TV switches back to the Grand Canyon.

Lena sits there, in the middle of her living room for a moment, chewing on the inside of her cheek. Then, she gets up and strides out to her balcony, pressing right up to the railing as she scans the sky. It’s not long before she sees the figure she’s waiting for, and Kara lowers herself onto Lena’s balcony, carrying Mon El bridal style in her arms.

“I told you this is unnecessary, Kara, not to mention completely undignified, I am a prince for goodness’ sake—” Mon El’s protest dissolves into a strangled cry of pain as Kara jerks him in her arms (which Lena doubts was an accident).

“A prince with a broken rib, it would appear,” Kara deadpans.

“Oh, Kara, get him inside,” Lena says hurriedly, holding the door open for Kara and Mon El. She leads them down the hallway to her room, where Kara sets Mon El down on Lena’s king size bed.

“Damn, Lena. Got enough cushions?” Mon El remarks when Lena’s wall of cushions very nearly inundates him as Kara sets him down onto the bed.

“I like to be comfortable,” Lena says with a shrug. That, and she hates the feeling of an empty bed.

Mon El lets out another groan, his eyes going wide. “What’s happening to me? I thought I couldn’t get hurt on this planet,” he gasps.

“It’s hard, but it’s still possible,” Kara explains, a frown marring her brow. “Your body accelerates the healing process, but it can be,” Mon El groans again, “unpleasant.”

“Is there something I can do? I’ll get some water,” Lena decides and heads into the kitchen. She grabs two bottles of water from her fridge and returns to her room, hesitating at the door when she hears Kara speaking.

“You know, I could have handled it myself. I would have been fine,” Kara says quietly.

“If this is your way of saying thank you, you’re welcome,” Mon El returns through a grimace.

Kara laughs shortly, and runs a hand wearily over her face. “You…you were good, Mon El. Thank you.”

Mon El pushes himself up slightly from the bed so he can look closely at her. “I want you to know you can rely on me. I’ve got your back, Kara.”

Kara holds his gaze for a long moment, before she reaches a hand out to his shoulder and gently eases him back down. “You need to rest.”

Lena clears her throat as she enters the room, pretending not to notice the way Kara quickly pulls her hand away from Mon El and tucks it behind her back. She cracks open one of the water bottles and crouches by Mon El’s side, presses it into his hand and helps him drink so he doesn’t make a mess. She hands the other to Kara, who manages to drink just fine on her own.

“Thanks, Lena,” Mon El says, swallowing gratefully. “Wow I am in a lot of pain. If it’s all the same to you two, I think I’m going to pass out now.”

Lena gives him a small nod and covers him with a blanket as he closes his eyes. As soon as Mon El’s breaths start coming out even and steady with sleep, Kara allows herself to reveal how exhausted she truly is. Her back slumps and she leans against the wall behind her, tipping her head back with her eyes closed.

“Are you alright, Kara?” Lena asks, her voice low in the dark.

Kara makes a humming sound that Lena presumes indicates something in the affirmative.

“Do you mind if I stay here, Lena?” Kara asks softly. “I feel like I might fall out of the sky if I try to fly home now.”

“Of course, Kara. Let me get something for you to change into. Meet me in Mon El’s room.”

Lena does her best to silently search through her closet for something for Kara to wear, eventually pulling out a  pair of polka-dotted pyjama pants and a blue t-shirt, one of the softest shirts she owns. When she enters Mon El’s room—formerly the empty guest bedroom—Kara has unclipped her cape and is attempting to reach over her shoulder with little success, an uncomfortable look on her face.

“Lena,” she gasps, with an awkward sort of relief. “Do you mind? I think I threw my back out…”

Lena tilts her head to the side and approaches Kara as she spins around. Her face instantly grows hot as she realises what Kara is asking of her. She looks the hero’s back up and down, searching for some kind of zipper or fastening mechanism, but the back is completely smooth.

“Umm…”

“My left shoulder. There’s a hidden seam, it’s just under there.”

“Right.”

Lena eventually finds the seam and closes her fingers around the secret zipper. She sucks in a breath and tugs it downwards, consciously averting her eyes so she doesn't become distracted by the muscular back she knows is under there.

“I always wondered…” she finds herself mumbling, without quite meaning to.

“Always wondered what?” Kara asks, angling her chin to glance over her shoulder.

“Nothing.”

“Always wondered what, Lena?” Kara presses.

Lena blushes, dipping her head down in an effort to avoid Kara’s questioning eyes. “Where Supergirl’s hidden zipper was.”

Kara flashes a grin. “Did you now? Well, now you know, so do what you will with that information,” she says, wiggling her eyebrows up and down in the most infuriatingly teasing way. Lena rolls her eyes and steps back, thrusting Kara’s pyjamas out to her. “Thanks,” Kara says and takes them into the small bathroom.

When Lena comes back after turning the lights out in the apartment and locking the balcony, Kara is tucked under the covers, her Supergirl suit and boots draped neatly over a chair in the corner.

“Scoot,” Lena commands gently. “Mon El kind of took my bed—I thought it would be more comfortable for him.”

Kara does as she is told and shuffles over, making room for Lena to slide in. Kara lays on her back, eyes closed as she breathes in deeply. Lena rolls onto her side, folding her hands beneath her cheek. She takes a moment to watch Kara’s face glowing softly in the orange lamp light, and watches her chest rise and fall with a few breaths.

“I was watching you,” she finally says quietly. “Before. On the TV.”

Kara cracks an eye open. “You were? Did you see the part where I got my butt kicked?”

“Yep,” Lena says, popping the ‘p’. “I also saw the part where you and Mon El made a pretty good team.”

Kara sighs and rolls onto her side. “The ski mask was a nice touch. Your idea?" she asks, and Lena nods. "Yes, I suppose he was…helpful,” she admits reluctantly.

“He saved your life, Kara.”

“Oh please,” Kara protests stubbornly. “I would have managed somehow, I always do, don’t I?”

Lena bites at her lip. “I don’t know. You had me worried.”

Kara tilts her head, giving a lopsided grin. “Aw, you worry about me? Cute.”

“You know I do,” Lena scowls. Kara just beams and shuffles closer. Her hand wanders across the chasm between their bodies, fingers coming to rest on Lena’s hip where she twists them into the fabric of her shirt.

Shortly into their friendship, Lena came to learn that Kara Danvers is a very tactile friend. She communicates a lot through touch, seeks and offers comfort through it, but only to those she is close with: J’onn, Winn, James, Alex, and it didn’t take long for Lena to become part of that circle.

The way Kara is so giving with her affection had taken some time for Lena to adjust to—she’d never had a friend like that before (hell, she’d never had family like that before. The closest thing to a hug she’d ever gotten from Lillian was an awkwardly forced one-armed thing when Lionel died). But once she’d accustomed to the easy touches—the hand holding, the arm looping, the comforting hugs—she found she couldn’t imagine their friendship without it. In a way, she came to rely on it.

But now, Lena’s breath catches in her throat because it’s this kind of touching that makes her want to pull Kara towards her and tangle her hands in her wonderful blonde hair, crashing their lips together to finally answer the question of whether or not her lips are really as soft as they look—because that’s definitely not how she should be thinking about the woman who is supposed to be one of her only friends in National City (right?).

“What are you doing?” Lena asks, voice coming out in a faint whisper.

“Seeing if your shirt is as soft as mine,” Kara whispers back. “For science,” she grins.

Lena closes her eyes, trying her very best not to imagine ripping that shirt off of Kara’s body with very little regard for how soft it is, and searches her mind for something—anything—else to say.

“He wants to go to the Grand Canyon,” is what she ends up going with.

Kara stills her hand and draws it back, tucking it into her chest. Lena breathes out, slowly, imagining herself uncoiling like a spring. 

“Sure, we could do that,” Kara says calmly, completely oblivious to Lena’s gradual unravelling. “We could be there and back in an afternoon if we wanted to.”

Lena gives Kara a pointed look. “Need I remind you of my policy on flying?”

Kara sighs. “No flying unless you’re in immediate mortal peril or traffic increases ordinary travel time by at least ninety percent,” she recites, and Lena mouths the words as she does so.

“That’s right,” she says with a nod. She rolls over and turns the light. Resisting Kara is much easier to do in the dark, when she can’t see her stupidly perfect face. “We’ll drive. Goodnight Kara.”

 

//

 

The six hour drive to the Grand Canyon is spent debating the merits of flying vs driving as a mode of transportation (Kara argues that flying is both faster and statistically safer, while Lena contends that driving is much more comfortable, and doesn’t result in her hair looking like a birds’ nest upon arrival. Mon El ultimately sides with Kara, saying flying is significantly cooler and far more fun.) They sing along to the radio, and Kara teaches Mon El and Lena car games she learned on road trips with the Danvers.

(“You’ve never played I Spy? What kind of childhood did you ha—oh, wait, a terrible one, I’m so sorry Lena.”)

The Grand Canyon is every bit as remarkable as Lena had always imagined, and then some. She stands there in awe, taking a moment to take in the way the canyon winds its way across the landscape like a snake, it’s vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows dancing like flames in the afternoon sun.

Mon El and Kara have already gone right up to the edge of the canyon, and are sitting on a ledge with their legs dangling off the side. Lena approaches them and sits a couple of feet behind them, her stomach jittering uncomfortably even at this distance. Mon El kicks his heels against the canyon wall in his excitement, causing a piece of rock to break off and clatter loudly as it plummets towards the ground.

“Mon El. Watch your strength,” Kara reminds him out of the corner of her mouth, casting her eyes around to the canyon’s other visitors, who luckily seem too swept up in the beauty of the thing to pay much notice.

“Sorry,” Mon El says, still smiling broadly. “Thank you for bringing me here,” he glances back at Lena. “If earth is going to be my new home, I want to see as much of it as I can. And this—this, is amazing. Like, just look at it! Who the heck put that there?” he asks, gesturing incredulously to the vast expanse before him.

“Earth did,” Lena answers knowledgeably. “Thousands of years of geological processes all combined to create what we see here today.”

“Incredible,” Mon El says, shaking his head as he continues taking in the view. “This place…it kind of reminds me of Daxam.” Lena notices the way Mon El pressingly rubs his thumb across the back of his hand, but his voice doesn’t break on the name of his former planet anymore, which is a good sign. “These colours are the same as the mountains around the capital,” he says and tilts his head towards Kara. “Did you ever go to Daxam?”

Kara shakes her head. “No. No, like most Kryptonians, I never did. My parents only really ever took me to the nice planets,” Kara teases, bumping Mon El’s shoulder gently and Mon El gives a quick laugh. “Like Sedenach, we used to spend the solstices there.”

Mon El’s face lights up with recognition and he nods. “Yeah, to the Bismuth mountains?”

Kara looks surprised for a moment, then laughs. “Yeah…yeah, they had those crystal staircases that would grow right underneath your feet, lifting you up. It was so beautiful…” her expression turns thoughtful, though—for perhaps the first time in Lena’s experience—it’s devoid of the pain that’s usually present whenever Kara thinks about her past. “I haven’t thought about Sedenach in a long time,” she muses quietly.

There’s a pause, during which Kara just smiles at Mon El—it’s small, but she genuinely smiles—and Mon El smiles back, as they both seem to bask in this memory they share together.

“I’ve been to Australia,” Lena blurts out lamely, shattering whatever moment they were having as they both turn to her with puzzled looks. “Um…it’s very, uh, brown, in the dessert parts at least, and there are kangaroos everywhere, they can jump, like…really far.” Her hand stalls in mid-air, halfway through making some sort of hopping motion, and she drops it into her lap, where she stares at it with eyes bulging from embarrassment.

Kara looks at her with what almost looks like pity? And Lena wants to hate it, but it’s so kind at the same time that she just can’t. “That’s…that’s great, Lena,” Kara says gently.

Lena stands abruptly, brushing the dirt from the back of her jeans. “I’m gonna go…um. Check out the view. Over there.”

Lena shuffles over to another part of the ridge, pulling her oversized wool cardigan closer around her, bracing herself against the wind.  She bites at the pad of her thumb as she watches Mon El and Kara continue talking, probably bonding over how great it felt to be in Rao’s light, or something along those lines…

Lena sharply pulls her eyes away, silently chastising herself.

Kara and Mon El are getting along. They’re relating to each other.

This is a good thing.

This is what she wants.

Right?

She stares down into the canyon, running some quick numbers in her head. If she threw herself down there, there would be about a ninety-eight percent Kara would catch her before she hit the bottom. A two percent chance of certain death in order to be swept up in those strong Kryptonian arms? Lena would be lying if she said there isn’t a part of her that is sorely tempted by those odds.

There’s a warm touch at her wrist, tugging her back gently, yet insistently.

“Not so close,” a soft voice comes from behind her.

Lena looks down and gasps when she realises she’s come very close to the edge, takes a few short steps back until she hits Kara’s front. Kara wraps an arm bracingly across Lena’s chest, her chin appearing over her right shoulder.

“You okay?” she asks, and she’s so close her face goes out of focus when Lena tries to make eye contact, so she just looks straight ahead instead.

“Yes. Um. Just a bit cold,” she lies.

Kara smiles warmly and gives her a squeeze, stepping closer so her front is pressed flush against Lena’s back. “Better?” she asks.

Lena swallows. Nods. The wind is cold and sharp against her cheeks, but there’s a fire that has been ignited in her belly that warms her from the inside out. She reaches her hands up, closing them around Kara’s arm and swipes her thumbs back and forth. One breath. Two breaths.

“You’d catch me, right?” she asks, making sure to keep her tone light.

Kara chuckles, the sound vibrating against Lena’s back. “Of course I would. Although, that would risk exposing me to the world as Supergirl, so…” Kara trails off and shuffles a few steps back, bringing Lena with her and holding her securely to her chest, and Lena just smiles and settles into the feeling, for just a moment.

Three breaths. Four breaths.

 

They spend the night in a nearby hotel, planning on driving back to National City in the morning. However, Lena is roused from a dream, vaguely thinking someone is saying her name.

“Lena,” Kara whispers again, and this time Lena hears it. She blinks through sleep, rubbing at her eyes.

“What is it?” she mumbles groggily.

“Supergirl emergency. An alien is rampaging Chinatown—I’ve got to go.”

Lena nods, slowly finding herself more awake. “Go, Kara. Before it destroys your favourite restaurant.”

Kara’s eyes narrow. “Not on my watch. I’m taking Mon El too. I—I could use his help.”

Lena arches an eyebrow. “I thought Supergirl worked alone.”

“Not when there’s potstickers involved,” Kara says gravely, eliciting a soft laugh from Lena. “But seriously, people could get hurt.”

“Go save the city, Kara. Look after each other. I’ll be fine, I’ll drive back in the morning. Just text me to let me know you’re both safe.”

“I will.”

Lena settles back down in the pillows, suddenly wide awake. She hears Kara shaking Mon El awake, who makes a confused grumbling sound as she gives him all of ten seconds to get himself together before slinging him over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes and taking off through the open window.

The room feels crushingly empty now that she is alone, and Lena tosses and turns through the rest of the night, not even finding sleep when Kara texts her to tell her National City’s potstickers are safe and sound.

 

//

 

Kara Danvers has fantastic arms. This, is a fact that is all too often hidden from the world by boxy sweaters and chunky cardigans, but Lena knows.

Oh, she knows.

And this fact is significantly harder to ignore when Kara is wearing only a singlet, arms out on full display as she lifts trees and bags of soil in Lena’s garden.

Lena stares, open mouthed, her secateurs opening and closing around nothing in mid air, as Kara lifts an entire poplar tree with one hand and sets it down in the hole she has dug, the muscles in her back rippling extraordinarily with the motion. Lena’s eyes bulge even further when the veins in her biceps start popping gloriously as she shovels soil into the hole, and it is to her complete mortification that her body is flooded with hot, heady yearning, and, even worse, the feeling is accompanied by a completely indecent and lust-filled groan treacherously escaping her lips.

Kara whips her head around at the sound, and Lena immediately busies herself pruning the rose bush she is crouched beside.

“Did you say something, Lena?” Kara calls out across the garden.

“Nope!” Lena shouts back, her voice pitched significantly higher than she would have liked. “Just, um, good work with the tree! Looks great!” The furious blush on her cheeks matches the colour of the roses surrounding her as she continues aggressively pruning, silently cursing herself under her breath.

When Lena eventually quells her embarrassment, she manages to look back up at Kara again, only to find the Kryptonian is wearing an expression not dissimilar to the one she had been wearing earlier: eyes glazed, lips slightly parted. Lena follows her line of sight, and her stomach bottoms out in response to what she sees.

Mon El, carting a wheelbarrow overflowing with earth towards the trench running through Lena’s yard from his space pod’s crash. He tips the wheelbarrow, shaking it back and forth to get all the dirt out. With a sigh of effort, he sets the wheelbarrow down, and then—and then—he grasps the back of his shirt and slips it up and over his head, giving his head a small shake as it pops out.

Lena returns her gaze back to Kara, who is full on staring at Mon El like he’s an all you can eat buffet, mouth unabashedly hanging open. And sure, Lena might consider Mon El somewhat attractive, if she was into that sort of thing—which she decidedly is not—but the way Kara is ogling him right now instantly turns the previously desire-driven flame in her belly into a roaring forest fire fuelled by what can only be full-blown jealousy.

“Kara!” she squeaks out without thinking, and the blonde blinks herself out of her daze, returning Lena’s call with a questioning look. “I…uh…I…” Lena glances around vaguely for a minute before she spots a glistening thorn on one of the rose stems. She takes a sharp intake of breath and impulsively jabs her hand against the thorn. “I pricked myself!” she declares, thrusting her hand into the air, where a single pinprick on her index finger is shining with blood.

Kara’s eyes zero in on Lena’s finger for only a second, before she zooms into the house and is back in a flash, crouching in front of her with a damp cloth and a bandaid.

“There you go,” Kara says as she carefully dabs at Lena’s finger and applies the bandaid. “Good as new. Maybe think about wearing gloves, Lena,” she says gently.

“My hero,” Lena mumbles, staring dumbly at her dully throbbing finger, feeling quite the fool. Kara beams brightly at her, but the twisting feeling stubbornly refuses to leave Lena’s stomach.

 

//

 

Lena is at the DEO as soon as Alex texts her about the incident on Slaver’s Moon. On the drive over, she calls Alex and finds out about how Kara and Mon El leapt into a portal that transported them to a planet where they had no powers. About how they fought their way out anyway, saving a whole group of young humans from a life of intergalactic slavery. Her hands curl around the steering wheel when she finds out Veronica Sinclair was involved, and she mentally adds another item to the already long list of reasons she despises the woman.

She strides into the med bay, Alex following closely behind, and sees Mon El and Kara lying in matching beds under yellow sun lamps. She drops her handbag and coat in a nearby chair and watches them both with a worried frown.

“Of all the planets they could have gone to, they had to go to one where they have no powers,” she mutters.

Alex squeezes her shoulder gently. “They saved a lot of people today, Lena. They’ll be fine after some rest.” She turns to her with a sly grin. “I got a new gun, want to see it? It’s from space,” she reports proudly, wiggling her eyebrows up and down.

“Uh…” Lena’s mouth hangs open until she hears her name being spoken by Kara, and she gives Alex a somewhat strained grin. “Maybe some other time, Alex.”

“I’ll hold you to that, Luthor. It’s pretty bad ass.”

“I don’t doubt that.”

As much as Lena loves Alex, there’s something about Alex and her being in the same room as a gun that makes her unspeakably nervous. Come to think of it, it might have something to do with a few of the dreams she’s been having recently starring the youngest Danvers and her fantastic biceps.

Kara says her name again, and Lena gives Alex an apologetic smile before she approaches Kara’s bedside and takes a seat.

“Hey,” she says.

“Hi,” Kara replies.

“You brought him back,” Lena observes, nodding to Mon El. “A couple months ago, you probably would have left him there.”

Kara laughs and gazes at Mon El, something Lena can’t quite place stirring in the depths of her blue eyes.

“He was actually really brave,” she says thoughtfully. “He leaned into his whole prince of Daxam thing and stopped some guards from shooting us. He saved us,” she murmurs, eyes lingering on Mon El for a bit before she turns back to Lena with a grin. “And then I totally kicked ass, of course. Alex had this yellow sun grenade, it was so cool, you should have seen it,” she says animatedly and Lena laughs softly.

“Well, next time you go into space, don’t leave me behind.”

Kara looks up at Lena with a twinkle in her eyes as she reaches for Lena’s hand, runs her thumb over her knuckles in that way that makes Lena’s skin tingle at every point of contact.

“I’ll show you the stars one day, Lena.”

All Lena can think is that she’s already been to the stars; she goes there every time Kara looks at her like that, but she bites her lip and swallows hard.

“I’d like that.”

And Lena smiles, but on the inside she’s completely terrified because, oh Rao, Kara Danvers could absolutely break her heart.

 

//

 

Lena wakes in the middle of the night. It takes her a minute to figure out why—she hadn’t been dreaming, which is what usually wakes her, and she didn’t have to pee, so…then she realises it was a sound. A scream.

She sits up in bed, holding her breath as she listens for the sound again, but the house is still and silent. Still, she’s sure she heard something. She swings her legs over the side of her bed, sliding her feet into the awaiting slippers on the floor and pads softly down the hallway.

First, she checks the room that is now Kara’s whenever she occasionally stays over at her house on the weekends. The room is empty, the bedcovers thrown back and left in messy disarray. Lena swallows at a lump in her throat and tiptoes further down the hall, towards Mon El’s room. She hears sounds now, hushed whispering. Kara’s voice.

Lena peers around the doorframe, her breath catching in her throat at what she sees. Kara is sitting on Mon El’s bed, her back straight against the headboard, and she’s gently carding her fingers through Mon El’s hair as his head rests in her lap. She is murmuring softly to him, words Lena doesn’t understand. Kryptonian, she soon realises.

Lena pulls her head back and lets it fall against the wall, closing her eyes as she slowly sinks to the floor. She holds her head in her hands, digging the heels of her palms into her eyes. After a minute or two, Kara’s hushed voice fades into silence, and everything is quiet once again.

“Lena?”

Kara’s voice floats out from the room, causing Lena to give a start. She freezes, holds her breath.

“I can hear your heartbeat. And I can see you.”

Foolish of her to think she could hide from a woman with X-ray vision and super hearing.

Lena grimaces and pokes her head from around the doorframe to see Kara staring straight back at her. With a sigh, Lena pushes herself up and shuffles sheepishly into the room. Kara just smiles gently at her while her fingers continue to thread through Mon El’s hair. Lena keeps her eyes focused on Kara, trying not to think about how nice it feels when Kara does that to her, but she still sees the motion out of her peripherals, and it kills her.

“I had these dreams all the time when I first arrived,” Kara says softly, a faraway look in her eyes. “I watched my planet burn over, and over, and over. It was…horrible. I still have them, sometimes, but it’s better. I can handle them now.” She blinks back into the room and looks at Lena, a slight frown appearing on her face. “What’s wrong?”

Lena shifts, looks down at her hands, chewing on the inside of her cheek.

“Nothing. It’s…it’s nothing. Stupid.”

“Lena.”

Lena pushes a lungful of air past her lips, twisting at the tie of her pyjama bottoms.

“I’ll never know what it was like to go through what you both went through.” she whispers, finally looking up at Kara with shimmering eyes, a pained smile on her lips. “I’ll never understand you like he can, will I?”

Kara’s eyes darken, her hand stilling in Mon El’s hair. “I don’t want you to. You’ve been through more than enough yourself, Lena. I don’t want you to know what this feels like, ever.”

Lena flinches at the sting of Kara’s words. Deep down, she knows Kara only wants to protect her from pain, like she always does, but right now it can only feel like Kara is pushing her away, keeping her at arm’s distance.

“I’m glad you’ve found each other,” she says, just managing to keep her voice from trembling. “I’m glad you’re not alone anymore.”

“Lena—”

“Goodnight, Kara.”

 

They don’t speak about that night again, but Lena doesn't forget. She doesn’t forget the way Kara ran her fingers through Mon El’s hair, speaking so tenderly to him, so caring, or the way her own stomach tossed and roiled in response. She doesn't forget the way Kara pushed her away.

But, life goes on, and Lena does her best to reenact the normalcies of their friendship. She jokes, and laughs, and chides appropriately, and squeezes Kara’s hand back when she reaches for it.

We’re okay.

Always.

We have to be.

Because maybe Lena briefly forgot the boundaries of their friendship—the boundaries she desperately wants to push past, but knows she can’t, should she risk losing what they have. And maybe she forgot that while she and Kara have a close friendship, maybe she imagined it was something more special than it really is. Maybe she forgot there are parts of Kara that she can’t ever understand, parts that exist just beyond the parameters of their friendship.

And that’s fine.

Really.

Lena is happy to exist within the boundaries if it means she can keep Kara like this.

It’s fine.

Chapter Text

“He needs to get a job,” Kara groans one afternoon as she paces back and forth in Lena’s office wringing her hands. “Whenever we’re not training, or out on the field operations I let him tag along for, he just hangs around me, bugging me. I’m losing my mind here, Lena. Not to mention I have articles to write.”

Lena glances at Kara over the top of her laptop, eyebrow raised sceptically. “Really? I thought he was growing on you. You two seem to really be getting along…”

Kara whips around with her arms crossed and a stubborn frown. Lena notices the tips of her ears have turned pink.

“Just because I tolerate him now and laugh at some of his dumb jokes, doesn’t mean he’s growing on me. He is not growing on me. He is annoying me. Hence, why he needs a job. Besides, it’ll be good for him. Character building,” she affirms, nodding in agreement in herself.

“Mmhmm,” Lena hums, refraining from quoting that line from Shakespeare about ladies protesting too much.

Lena leans onto her elbows, perfect eyebrow arched and a manicured nail at her chin. “He’s an alien with no work experience, employment history, or marketable skills. Who do you think is going to hire him?”

Lena rocks backwards onto her heels, a sugary sweet smile spreading on her lips. “Well…it just so happens that I’m best friends with the beautiful, intelligent, and altogether wonderful CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, so I thought maybe…”

“Now that is just offensive,” Lena scoffs, folding her arms. “I have graduates from Harvard and MIT clambering over each other for L-Corp jobs. I’m not going to give Mon El a job just because you smile and bat your eyelashes at me like that—wait, Kara, what are you doing, oh no, not the pout—” Lena moans and brings a hand to her forehead as her shoulders crumple in defeat. “Fine.”

“Yes!” Kara cheers and punches the air triumphantly.

“You owe me, Kara Danvers. Big time,” Lena says, waving her pen pointedly in Kara’s direction.

“I’m sure you’ll think of some way for me to make it up to you.” Kara shifts her weight onto one hip and bites at her fingertip, eyebrow raised at Lena in a way she’s almost certain is meant to be teasing.

“Hmm.” Lena matches Kara’s raised brow, until she breaks and looks back at her laptop, seemingly unaffected. “Yes, actually.  You can start with some of those donuts I like. You know, the ones from Paris,” she says casually.

In a flash that rustles the papers on Lena’s desk, Kara is suddenly standing in her super suit in the middle of Lena’s office, striking a pose. “Parisian donuts, coming right up! Au revoir, mon amie!”

Lena laughs and sits back in her chair, a smile lingering on her lips long after the breeze of Kara’s flurrying exit is gone from her office.

 

 

Jess doesn’t seem at all impressed with the idea that she is going to have an assistant. She eyes Mon El up and down, scrutinising his perfectly pressed shirt and fitted tie, his sharp brown shoes, his charming grin, and his sleek leather briefcase (which, unbeknownst to the young assistant, is completely empty).

“But, Miss Luthor…” Jess says uncertainly, “I’m already your assistant. Why do I need an assistant too?” She casts her eyes downwards, touching her index fingers together. “Am I not doing a good enough job?” she asks, voice small.

“Oh God, Jess, no,” Lena insists vehemently, throwing her hands up. “I’d be completely lost without you, you know that. I just, I know I put a lot on your plate so I thought Mike could help lighten the load a little. He could do the more menial tasks that take up your time. Like filing, photocopying, digging through years of accounting archives when I ask you to on a whim, getting my lunch—which, as I’ve told you many times, isn’t part of your job, but I do appreciate it anyway,” Lena finishes with a genial smile.

“But I like doing those things,” Jess mumbles, wearing a tight frown.

Lena smiles warmly at her assistant. “Jess. If you’re going to move up in the company, I need you to have your hands free to take on more responsibility. Do you understand where I’m going with this?” she asks, arching her eyebrows when she mouths the word ‘promotion’.

Jess seems to brighten up at this, and promptly takes Mon El back to her desk, saying something about teaching him the intricacies of her extremely elaborate, yet efficient, filing system.

By the end of the day, however, it is an intensely frazzled Jess that circles back and forth in her office, gesticulating wildly as she rattles off a long list of Mon-El related complaints. Lena sighs, rubbing wearily at her temple.

“Thank you for bringing these concerns to me, Jess. Please, send Mike in, will you?” Jess nods dutifully and leaves the room, closely followed by a sheepish Mon El shuffling into her office. Lena indicates for him to close the door, which he does, and hangs his head.

“I’d say I’m angry at you, but really I’m just impressed you managed to break not one, not two, but four copiers. Those are top of the line, too,” Lena remarks, arching a brow.

“I’m sorry, Lena,” Mon El apologises glumly. “I just, maybe I’m not cut out for this whole ‘work’ thing,” he says, complete with air quotes.

Lena gives him a stern look. “Humans work, Mon El. But…perhaps, corporate life isn’t for you.” She reaches for his tie, the perfect Windsor she’d knotted for him that morning, loosens it and undoes the top button of his shirt. Released from the prison of his wardrobe, Mon El relaxes with a huge sigh. “That’s better.”

“Much,” he nods in agreement. “It reminded me of these horrible outfits I had to wear to royal ceremonies—they had ruffles up to my chin and were the absolute worst.”

Lena lets out a giggle at that mental picture, even though she’s supposed to be in serious boss mode right now.

She clears her throat and sits back down at her desk. “We need to work this out. You need a job. What do you want to do?” She rummages around until she finds a notepad and pen, clicks it at the ready. “What skills do you have?”

Mon El sits across from her, raps his fists on his knees. “Uh, well my training is really coming along. I’m great at punching, and my kicks are getting there too—ooh! And I’m jumping higher every day,” he announces proudly. “Maybe I could do what Supergirl does, full time. You know, fighting crime, kicking bad guys.” He gives a few demonstrative punches from his chair.

“That’s not a real job,” Lena says, then catches herself and grimaces. “Don’t tell Kara I said that. It’s a real job, it’s a very important job, I just mean—humans have jobs. Normal jobs. Even Kara has a human job.”

“Oh! Then maybe I could do what Kara does,” he says cheerfully, and Lena looks sceptical.

“What? Be a reporter? You’d spend hours talking to people, following leads, gruelling over tiny details and the finer points of english grammar and sentence structure…” Lena trails off as Mon El wrinkles his nose in distaste at the idea. “Didn’t think so. What are you good at? Besides punching. What did you do on Daxam?”

“Well,” Mon El leans back in his chair, clasping his hands behind his head. “As the Prince of Daxam, I had many, ah, princely duties.”

“Such as?” Lena arches an inquisitive brow, pen poised over the notepad.

“Such as…” his eyes circle somewhere above his own head, then he grins as he seemingly plucks an answer from the air. “such as the organising, preparing and hosting of significant events and festivities,” he says, nodding with self satisfaction.

Lena nods as she writes, then pauses and sets her pen down, meeting Mon El’s eyes once again. “You mean, throwing parties?”

Mon El shifts in his chair. “Well, when you say it like that, it sounds so…trivial,” he grumbles, then raises his eyebrows with a grin. “‘Trivial’. That’s a good word, isn't it? I learned it in this book I’m reading—”

“Mon El,” Lena says quickly, raising a hand. “Focus.”

“Right. Right. What was I saying? Oh yeah, parties. I threw plenty of parties on Daxam—but I was really good at it, like, I was the best. I managed to get my great uncle’s eightieth birthday to make front page news! The whole capital was talking about it for weeks.” He smiles fondly, “good times.”

“Well…that is a skill, I suppose. Demonstrates resourcefulness, organisation, social competence,” Lena hums thoughtfully, catching her pen between her teeth. “So tell me, Mon El—how do we turn that into something you can do? Remember what you said to me? About how you wanted to make your life on earth mean something?”

Mon El scratches at his chin, his brow furrowed in thought. Lena watches him, waiting expectantly.

“I’ve been thinking—about the whole hero thing,” he says, leaning his elbows forwards on his knees. “Don’t get me wrong, Kara is great at it, she’s amazing. The world needs Supergirl. But the things she does…stopping bad guys, saving the world, it’s all about taking evil out, right? Maybe I want to work on the other side of the equation. Maybe I want to put good in to the world. I spent my whole life as the Prince of Daxam just taking, and taking, and taking. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to give back, here, on earth…my new home.”

Lena pauses her scribbling and looks up at Mon El, a slow smile spreading across her face. “I think I know just the thing.”

 

//

 

“You’re all looking at L-Corp’s newest fundraising officer and events coordinator,” Mon El announces proudly later that night at the alien bar.

Junior fundraising officer and events coordinator,” Lena reminds him. She might have given an unproven, unqualified alien a position in her company, but she’s not completely irresponsible.

“Right,” Mon El grins widely, holding up his beer. “I get to plan parties and help people.” He sighs contentedly. “I think I’ve found my true calling.” He takes a drink and throws an arm around Lena’s shoulder. “I won’t let you down, boss. I promise.”

“You certainly won’t, if you know what’s good for you. Just, try to stay away from any copy machines,” she says, leaning into his side as she gives Kara a look that says ‘don’t ask’.

They drink and talk and naturally end up around the pool table in another instalment of the ongoing tournament between Lena and Winn against Maggie and Alex (or, as Maggie likes to call it, the nerds vs the cool people).

Lena sighs and straightens up as her shot just misses its mark, chuckling as Alex declares “We’re still in this Sawyer! Don’t mess this up for me.” She steps away from the table and leans back against the wall, where Kara stands, sipping at a club soda.

“You’re welcome, by the way,” Lena says.

Kara tilts her head. “What for? Is my office full of flowers again?”

“No, but that reminds me, your birthday is coming up,” Lena quips.

“What am I thanking you for, then?”

“I got Mon El out of your hair. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” Lena asks, carefully watching Kara’s expression.

“Hm.”

Lena’s face falls, not exactly getting the reaction she’d been hoping for. “What? What’s wrong?”

Kara sighs, twisting her hands in her sweater. “Nothing, it’s just—it was really quiet at the DEO today. Like, I actually got a lot of work on my article done and it was kind of nice, but after that wore off…I don’t know. It was weird.”

Lena stares, eyes wide, at her friend. “Oh my god. You missed him!”

“I did not!” Kara protests, but the blush on her cheeks betrays her words.

Lena rolls her eyes. “There’s no making you happy, is there Kara Danvers? Well, I don’t mind where he gets his work done, as long as it’s done. You can still have him for the occasional alien hunt or whatever highly classified world-saving shenanigans you get up to. Lucky for you, Mon El’s boss is much cooler than yours,” she says with a wink.

“Hmm, and  much nicer to look at too. I’m kind of jealous,” Kara says matter-of-factly, completely oblivious to the way Lena coughs into her drink at the rush of heat spreading across her cheeks.

“Luthor, your shot!” Maggie holds out the pool cue for Lena, a challenging smirk on her lips. “This one’s for all the marbles.”

Lena shakes her head of the dizzying feeling occupying it moments before, taking a breath to ground herself for the shot. It’s a complex one to take the win—she’s going to have to bounce the cue ball off the back wall in order to avoid Maggie and Alex’s last ball and sink the eight ball in the corner pocket. Lena narrows her eyes, performing some quick basic trigonometry and physics calculations in her head before she leans her body over the pool table.

In theory, the shot is perfect. The execution, however, is just lacking in power. The eight ball rolls towards the corner pocket, wobbling just on the edge before growing still. It remains stationary for almost a full second, before the whole table seems to lift just the slightest inch and the ball tips in.

Winn erupts in a cheer and pulls Lena into a tight hug, while Lena shoots an accusatory look at Kara over his shoulder, who innocently steps back from the table. She grins at Lena and holds up her pinkie finger, giving it a conspiring wiggle. Lena laughs as Winn releases her and leans against her pool cue, shaking her head. Luckily, Maggie and Alex are too busy attacking each other’s faces in commiseration of their defeat to notice the foul play or complain about alien intervention.

“Nice shot,” Kara smirks, clearly pleased with herself.

“That, was cheating,” Lena says as she walks back over to Kara. “Really doesn’t help the whole ‘clean up the Luthor name’ thing I’m going for, you know.”

“I have no idea what you could possibly be referring to,” Kara says, feigning innocence. “Besides, you know what really would do wonders for the Luthor name?”

“What?”

“Buying National City’s favourite hero a drink.”

Lena quirks an eyebrow. “Supergirl? Well, I would, but I don’t see her anywhere…” Lena raises a hand to her forehead, narrowing her eyes as she scans the room. When she looks back at Kara, she has whipped her glasses off and is grinning broadly with her hands on her hips.

“Supergirl, there you are!” Lena gasps dramatically. “Now what are you doing here? Is the city in peril? Should we be fearing for our lives?”

“Everything is safe, Miss Luthor, but my dear friend, the incredibly talented, smart, and funny Kara Danvers told me you wanted to buy me a drink.”

“Is that so? Well, your sources are correct, Supergirl. Now where is the incredibly talented, smart, and funny Kara Danvers? I swear she was here just a second ago. Strange coincidence how you two are never in the same room…” Lena glances over her shoulder, giving Kara a chance to smoothly replace her glasses.

“Oh! Hello, Kara. Funny, you just missed Supergirl…” a wry smirk appears on Lena’s lips.

“Eh, she had to go punch an alien or save a burning orphanage, or something,” Kara says with a dismissive hand wave. “She did leave a message though.”

Lena quirks an eyebrow, “Oh yeah? What’s that?”

Kara leans down, her lips brushing close to Lena’s ear, and Lena grips onto her pool cue for support as her knees wobble pathetically and threaten to give out.

“Supergirl wanted me to tell you she thinks you’re incredible.”

Kara lingers close, as her words ghost around the shell of Lena’s ear. Her heart quickens, and she’s sure Kara must know the effect she has on her, because she can feel the curve of a grin press up against her cheek, but why why why is she doing this? She remembers herself, all of a sudden, and steps back, rolling her eyes as her cheeks grow hot.

“You’re ridiculous, Kara Danvers,” she says steadily, smoothing out the front of her blouse. “Are you sure that’s just club soda you’ve been drinking?” she arches her eyebrows indicatively.

Kara simply shrugs, her eyes doing that stupid twinkling thing which Lena finds incredibly frustrating. Lena turns on her heel and heads for the bar, feeling like she should maybe order a bucket of water to dump over her own head, and then a second one for Kara, because what the hell kind of game is she playing at?

When Lena returns with drinks in hand, Kara isn’t in the same spot she left her. Instead, she finds her on the other side of the bar, completely consumed in a game of pinball. With Mon El. Deflated, Lena flops down into a booth, sets Kara’s club soda on the table.

“So,” Maggie’s voice sounds over her shoulder as she drops down into the booth next to her. “When are you going to tell her?”

Lena side eyes the detective apprehensively. “Tell her what?”

Maggie drops an arm around Lena’s shoulders. “That you’re in love with her.” Maggie gives her a squeeze as Lena tenses under her arm, rolling her head to the side to fix her with a lopsided dimpled grin. “Come on, Luthor, I’ve been gay for a while. I’d recognise the ‘I’m in love with my best friend’ look anywhere.”

Lena takes a sip from her drink, watching over the rim as Mon El pounds the pinball machine furiously, Kara laughing as she watches with increasing enthusiasm. Mon El slams one of the buttons much too hard, and his hand ends up going straight through the machine. Kara and Mon El exchange panic-stricken looks, before Mon El’s face rearranges into a grin and he tells her to “go, go, go!”, and they run out of the bar together, laughing their happy little alien heads off.

“Probably never,” Lena mumbles.

It feels strange, to acknowledge it out loud, to another person. She is in love with Kara Danvers. She thought saying it would be freeing, like maybe it would loosen the hold this secret has over her entire existence, but instead, the reality of it just makes her feel more trapped than ever. She downs her drink.

Maggie watches Mon El and Kara leave the bar, eyes lingering on the swinging door of their exit before she looks pointedly back at Lena. “I see. You think those two…” she trails off, letting her raised eyebrows finish the sentence.

“If it hasn't already, it’s only a matter of time,” Lena says glumly and traces a finger over the rim of her glass. “They’re good for each other,” she says, resigned. “They understand each other in a way that I…I never can.” She sighs, furrowing her brow. “But Kara. She just acts so…strangely towards me, sometimes. It almost makes me believe in impossible things.”

Maggie angles herself towards, Lena, fingers clasped in a pyramid underneath her chin. “Let me give you some free advice, from one Danvers lover to another. Don’t ever pretend to know what’s going on in a Danvers’ head, because you’ll just end up hopelessly confused. At some point, you’ve just got to level with them and straight up ask them what the deal is.”

Lena lets out a huff of air. “You make it sound so easy, Maggie, but it’s not. It’s…complicated.”

Maggie smiles kindly. “It’s only as complicated as you make it. Trust me.”

“Hm,” Lena hums. “Thanks, Maggie. I’ll keep that in mind.” Lena’s own drink is empty, so she reaches for the orphaned club soda instead, wrinkling her nose at the definitely-lacking-in-alcohol taste.

How on earth does she drink this?

She sets the drink down and pushes it away, doing her best not to pay any mind to her imagination, which is coming up with all sorts of scenarios of what Kara and Mon El are getting up to right now, each one twisting at her stomach more harshly than the last.

Chapter Text

The secret to cooking, Lena has discovered, is not in following a recipe precisely step by step, measuring ingredients out to the gram and timing things to the minute. The secret is in tapping into one’s senses, drawing on them to respond to ingredients and flavours throughout the cooking processes.

The sight of onions gradually becoming translucent in the pan signals that it’s time to add in carrots, bell peppers, a splash of vinegar. A subtle change in the intensity of the steak’s sizzling sound tells Lena it’s time to turn it over. In a few minutes, she will press into the meat to determine it as a perfect medium rare. Lena can smell when something is missing in a sauce, and when she sucks on the end of her pinkie finger, her suspicions are confirmed. Needs more red wine.

“Hey Lena?”

“Hm?” Lena’s pinkie is still in her mouth as she looks up to Mon El, who leans fully over the counter, staring in rapt attention.

“Can you teach me how to do that?”

“Teach you how to do what?”

“The thing you’re doing. The preparation and presentation of food.”

“Oh. You mean, cook?” She cranes her neck away from the steam rising from a pot as she removes her green beans from the steamer and tips them into a bowl of ice water.

“Yeah!”

“Um…ok, sure I guess. Tomorrow night.” She gives the sauce a final stir before drizzling it over the steak she has for Mon El and the large portobello mushroom she has for herself, then looks up at him with a bright smile. “Come ready to learn.”

The next night, Lena answers the door to see Mon El standing there, wearing a wide grin and holding two aprons.

“Really, Mon El?” Lena laughs when she unfurls her apron to see the words “Kitchen BOSS” stamped on the front.

“Check out mine,” Mon El grins, tying his apron around his waist, which declares “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING”.

“That’s very appropriate,” Lena chuckles.

“So, what are we making?” Mon El asks.

Lena rounds the island in her kitchen and rummages around in the cupboard underneath, from which she pulls a bulky pasta machine, which she lugs on top of the counter with a heavy thunk.

“Is that some sort of medieval torture device, or…?” Mon EL asks, eying the contraption suspiciously as Lena winds the clamp shut around the edge of the counter.

“This, is one of the greatest gift the Italians have bestowed upon the culinary world,” she explains with reverence and straightens up with a grin. “We’re making pasta.”

Lena sets up their workstation for making the dough, tipping a small mountain of flour onto the counter. She creates a well in the flour, into which she cracks eggs. She lets Mon El crack a couple, and is glad she made him crack them into a seperate bowl before adding them to the flour, as his first egg ends up full of shell. Adding a pinch of salt, she uses a fork to mix the ingredients until they’ve combined into a workable consistency, at which point, Lena pushes her sleeves up and uses her hands.

Lena proceeds to show Mon El how to knead the dough, skilfully manipulating the mixture back and forth with the heels of her palms. She steps back to allow Mon El to try, reminding him to be mindful of his strength.

“This countertop is marble,” she says, only slightly nervous about relinquishing control, to an alien with super strength no less. 

“Like this?” Mon El asks, glancing over his shoulder as he delicately kneads the dough.

“That’s good,” Lena nods. “You can add a bit more force,” she relents, and Mon El becomes more confident in his movements. “Perfect,” she appraises.

“Would you say I’m a natural?”

“I wouldn’t go that far, my young apprentice.”

Mon El smirks and uses a burst of super speed to achieve a finished product that should have taken ten minutes in about twenty seconds. He holds the dough up proudly.

“How’s this?”

Lena inspects the dough critically. “This, is disrespectful to the process,” she says, shaking her head in disapproval. “But it’s perfect, you pest.” Lena flicks a pinch of flour in Mon El’s face, and he wrinkles his nose as the cloud puffs all around him.

Lena takes the dough from him and wraps it tightly in cling film, setting it down on the counter, telling Mon El they need to let the dough rest for a while.

Mon El pouts. “We have to wait? That’s not very exciting. What do we do now?”

Lena’s lips lift into a grin. “This is my favourite part. It’s wine time.”

She reaches up into her cabinets for two wine glasses, which are soon filled with velvety red wine. “Salute,” Lena says, holding her glass up in the air.

Mon El tilts his head to the side as he clinks his glass against Lena’s. “Salwhatty?”

Lena just laughs, shaking her head as she makes her way to her computer, leaning over as she loads up a playlist of her favourites: Stevie Wonder, James Brown, The Supremes, Sam Cooke.

Lena was fourteen when she first heard this kind of music. She’d been in the change room of some boutique store when ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King played over the sound system and she just stopped, halfway through struggling against the straps of some overly complicated dress Lillian had picked out for her. Because, all of a sudden, she remembered.

She remembered being hoisted up on a hip, swayed back and forth while a sweet voice that lived at the edges of her memory sang softly in her ear, and when Lena had looked at herself in the mirror, her eyes were shining and she barely recognised herself. She’d quickly swiped at her eyes and poked her head out of the changing room, sweetly asking Lillian if she could possibly try on the red dress she had originally refused to go anywhere near.

While Lillian busied herself with abusing the poor sales girl, Lena shucked the dress to the ground, pulled her jeans and jumper back on and slipped out of the shop, making a beeline for the nearest CD store. She grabbed the attention of the skinny boy working there and must have looked like a complete lunatic as she frantically hummed the melody to ‘Stand By Me’ and demanded he show her where she could find that song.

She ended up buying an entire collection of CDs from the same section: Ray Charles, Etta James, The Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin—whatever she could get her hands on. She kept them in a box under her bed and listened to them in secret on her walkman late at night or early in the morning, before anyone else was awake. Music was one of the things on Lillian's extremely long list of frivolous things she didn't approve of. Most of the songs she didn’t recognise, not with that same shock of memory she’d had in the dress shop, but she found she loved them anyway.

Because every time she listened to those songs, the voice in her memory got just that little bit clearer, and she could hold onto it for just a few seconds longer.

Lena spent her formative years listening to her secret stash of CDs, allowing them to transport her to another time, another place, another family. And as much as she pretends to know all about NSYNC and JT and Britney, she literally had no idea until Kara mentioned her love for them and she spent an entire night in a Google deep dive, firmly plugged into Spotify to educate herself.

And now, she bops her own hips gently in time to ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’, a small smile on her face, because the memory of her mother is faint, but it’s hers, to cherish and to keep.

They sip wine and dance and laugh while Lena teaches Mon El how to properly slice onions and garlic, moving the knife across the cutting board with practiced skill. Mon El’s eyes water from the onions, and Lena hands him a tea towel before making him finish the job. Mon El watches in awe as she finely chops some fresh parsley, the knife moving in a blur against the cutting board.

“Are you sure you don’t have super speed?” Mon El asks, and Lena just shrugs with a satisfied smile.

When the dough is ready, Lena sets about flattening it out with a rolling pin, turning it occasionally. Lena then shows Mon El how to run it through the pasta machine, producing long, silky sheets of pasta. It takes a few tries, but it’s not long until they have dainty nests of fettuccine strands lining the counter.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Lena sighs and Mon El examines the product of their work closely.

“I’m not sure if you’re aware, Lena, but you know you can buy this at the store right? I’ve seen it in cardboard boxes, ready to be cooked. It’s much more convenient.”

Lena frowns deeply, almost offended Mon El would suggest such a thing. “I would only use the boxed stuff in case of an extreme emergency. You just can’t beat freshly made pasta. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll see what I mean,” she says knowingly.

Mon El taps his finger to his chin. “Hm. So this is what Winn meant when he said you were ‘extra’.”

Lena’s right eyebrow shoots up. “I’m not going to pretend to know what that means, but whatever it is, I’m sure he wouldn’t have said it if he knew any of the vast number ways I could make his life completely miserable,” she says coolly.

Mon El’s eyes widen and he raises his hands, shaking them back and forth. “It’s a good thing, he meant it as a compliment I think,” he insists. “Please don’t hurt him.”

Lena narrows her eyes dangerously, fixing her stare on Mon El for a few seconds before she breaks into laughter. “I’m kidding, Mon El,” she says, checking his hip.

Mon El breathes a sigh of relief, wiping at his forehead. “Has anyone ever told you you can be very scary when you want to be?”

“Good to know I’ve still got it. Okay, let’s get cooking,” Lena says, rubbing her hands together.

Mon El raises an eyebrow, wondering what they’ve been doing for the past hour, if not cooking, but he stands and watches anyway.

Lena places their freshly made pasta into a pot of boiling water, adding in a pinch of salt. She turns to a pan of golden olive oil, flicked onto a medium heat, into which she tips the sliced garlic and onions, smiling as they sizzle delightfully and release their sweet aroma into the air. Lena nudges the pan back and forth, stirring the onions deftly with a wooden spoon. She sprinkles in red chilli flakes and cracks some Himalayan rock salt into the pan, delighting at the smooth crunch of the wooden grinder.

When she thinks the pasta is cooked, she removes a strand from the water and bites down on it to check, giving a piece to Mon El to show him what perfectly cooked pasta should feel like. They drain the pasta, and Lena adds it to the pan, stirring to combine all the ingredients. She takes the pan off the heat and squeezes in the juice of half a lemon, parsing the juice through her fingers to prevent any seeds from falling in, before tossing in the chopped parsley and stirring a final time.

It is with a stab of guilt and longing that Lena finds herself wishing she was doing this with Kara instead of Mon El. She imagines the way the muscles in Kara’s forearms would tense and flex splendidly while kneading the dough, her brow knitted adorably together in concentration. She imagines Kara standing behind her while she stirs the sauce, arms snaking securely around her waist, lips coming in close to kiss away a drop of sauce that may have flicked up onto her cheek…

But the way Mon El beams proudly at the dish they created before them is so genuine, she finds she is still glad she could have shared this with him anyway, despite her impossible fantasies.

Lena twists the pasta around a serving fork and piles it artistically into a bowl, admiring the final product: a neat mound of shining pasta, dotted ornately with smatterings of red and green from the chilli flakes and parsley, sitting in a shallow pool of liquid gold from the dripping sauce. To finish, she slices some plump cherry tomatoes in half, arranging them carefully around the plate, and grates a sprinkling of parmesan over the top.

She slides the plate to Mon El, who stares with bulging eyes, his mouth watering. Lena makes up a plate for herself and smiles across the counter at Mon El.

Bon appetit,” she says, clinking her glass of wine against his.

She watches as Mon El winds some pasta around his fork and takes a bite. He sighs, clutching his fist to his chest with his first swallow. “This is so good,” he whispers. “You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Lena.”

“Couldn’t have done it without my sous chef,” Lena grins back.

“Liar,” Mon El chuckles. Lena takes a bite herself and sighs contentedly, wondering vaguely if there’s any problem that a good meal can’t fix. “You really love doing this, don’t you?” Mon El asks as he slurps in another mouthful.

Lena shrugs, dabbing at her lips with a napkin. “Cooking is where art and science meet. I find it both beautiful and relaxing. Plus, having you and Kara around has really made it much more rewarding. Cooking for yourself is fun, but it’s much better when shared with people you care about. That, and the pair of you are incredibly validating,” Lena says, smirking secretly to herself as she thinks of the lewd guttural moans Kara made when she ate her mushroom risotto the week before.

A thoughtful look takes hold of Mon El’s expression. “I’d like to make something like this for Kara.”

Lena’s fork freezes on its journey from the bowl to her mouth. “Oh. You mean. For Kara?” Lena asks, eyebrows raised.

Mon El’s cheeks colour and he scrubs at the back of his neck. “Yeah. Do you think that’s a bad idea? It’s a bad idea, I should just forget it.”

“No, no. It’s…it’s good. I think she’d love it,” Lena says softly, setting her fork back down in the bowl. “Just…make sure you’re really generous with the cheese, that girl loves her cheese.” The all too familiar hollow feeling in her stomach is back, and Lena is suddenly not very hungry.

“Noted. Thank you, Lena.”

“So…the two of you, hm?” Lena asks, trying not to appear too interested.

“Nothing’s happened between us.” Sigh of relief. “It’s kind of funny, I think she hated me when we first met—”

“Oh, she did.”

“Right. But we’ve been working well together and I—I really care about her, Lena. Like, a lot. I’ve never felt this way about a girl before.” He’s speaking with such wonder and awe in his voice and Lena just drinks deeply from her glass. “She’s strong, and brave, and kind, and just so smart, and, Rao, she’s got those eyes, they’re like…”

“Comets,” Lena slips out. Mon El blinks back into the room and looks at Lena for a moment in a way that makes her feel much too exposed. Lena averts her eyes down into her bowl, poking absently at a cherry tomato while the beast in her belly has its tantrum.

“Right,” Mon El says slowly, eying her closely before his face breaks out into its usual grin. “Comets. That’s good, Lena. I was going to say blueberries, because her eyes are blue, but…yeah. Comets. That’s a really good way to put it.”

And then, with a familiar whooshing sound, Kara herself swoops down onto Lena’s balcony and lets herself in. Lena watches as Kara’s eyes take in the scene, scanning the  pots and pans, the dishes in front of them, Mon El and herself in their aprons, a quizzical sort of smile on the Kryptonian’s face.

“What’s this?” Kara asks curiously, head tilting to the side.

“Cooking lessons,” Mon El answers cheerfully.

“I see…” Kara comes in close, looking over Lena’s shoulder at the plate in front of her. “This is cute,” she observes, tugging lightly at Lena’s apron strings, and Lena swats her away.

“Mon El got them for us.”

“Oh yeah? Where’s mine?” Kara grins.

“The day you’re allowed anywhere near my kitchen will be the day Lex Luthor declares his undying love for Superman and allows him to fly him off into the sunset, Kara Danvers,” Lena teases, a wry smile behind her threat.

Kara tosses her head back with a laugh that makes Lena’s heart swoop. “Rude,” she says gently. “So. You made this?” she asks, arching an eyebrow at Mon El.

“Well, Lena did most of it. I helped. Try some.” Mon El winds some pasta around his fork and leans over the counter. Lena clenches her own fork in a vice grip as Kara leans forward and takes Mon El’s fork in her mouth, licking her lips as she straightens back up.

“Wow. This is ridiculously good, guys.”

“I was thinking of you while we were cooking,” Mon El blurts out, then grimaces, scratching bashfully at his head. “I mean…I hoped you’d like it.”

Kara laughs and reaches out to brush some flour off of Mon El’s forehead. “I’m sure I will. Did you save some for me?”

“Yeah, there’s some left,” Mon El says and sets about fixing up a third plate.

Lena suddenly feels like she would rather be anywhere else on earth, or in the galaxy, right at this moment.

“I just remembered, I um, I have some work to do at the office. Big meeting tomorrow, I need to prepare.”

Lena slips off her stool, fusses with the strings of her apron until she finally manages to untangle them, and folds it neatly on the counter. She gathers up her keys and her handbag, unable to get to the door fast enough. She hesitates at the handle, glancing over her shoulder to offer the closest thing she can manage to a smile.

“I hope you enjoy the meal. Clean up after yourselves. The dishes, I mean. I’ll be late. Um. Don’t wait up for me.”

She smiles thinly again and disappears out of the door, leaving a very puzzled Kara and Mon El behind in her apartment. She barely makes it down the hallway before she hears Kara calling her name. She pretends not to hear, swallows sharply, jabs the button for the elevator.

“Lena!” Kara says her name again, more insistently this time, and the voice is accompanied by striding footsteps and then Kara is right next to her, a deep crinkle in her brow. “What are you doing?”

Lena stares at the elevator button, silently willing it to come faster. “Nothing, Kara. I have work to take care of. Just, go back and enjoy dinner with Mon El,” she says numbly.

Kara crosses her arms over her chest, chin jutting out stubbornly. “I don’t want to do that.”

“Then go home, Kara,” Lena says with an exasperated sigh. “Do whatever you want, like you always do. But I have a company to run, which you all seem to have forgotten, I don’t have time to just play house with Supergirl and the prince of Daxam for goodness’ sake!” She must be angrier than even she realises, the words coming out sharp and biting, and Lena doesn’t miss the way Kara flinches and snaps her mouth shut.

The ensuing silence that hangs over them is broken by the impotent dinging of the elevator, and Lena slips in before the doors are even fully open. Lena finally meets Kara’s eyes as the doors begin to slide shut—they’re glaciers now, cold and watery, and it makes Lena’s chest clench uncomfortably.

Lena catches the doors with her arm just before Kara’s face disappears, and they shudder open in protest.

“I’m sorry, Kara, that wasn’t fair of me. I’m just stressed, you know, with—”

“Work stuff. I understand,” Kara says, but the frown she’s wearing tells Lena otherwise.

“Right. Please, Kara,” Lena sighs, leaning against the elevator door. “Go have dinner with Mon El. He…he worked really hard on it.” She purses her lips into a smile. “I’m okay. We’re okay. Okay?”

“Okay,” Kara mumbles, eyes dropped to the floor.

Kara looks small, unlike Lena has ever seen her in her Supergirl outfit, and the sight of it makes her heart splinter and crack and before she knows it she’s surged forward, wrapping her arms around Kara’s neck and burying her head into blonde curls. Kara’s arms find their way around her waist, an automatic response, and Lena can feel some of the tension leave the hero’s back as she drops her head against her shoulder and lets out a long sigh, her breath skating across the skin of Lena’s neck.

Kara squeezes tight, in that controlled, restrained way she always does, because they both know she could break Lena all too easily if she pushed too hard. But sometimes Lena wishes she wasn’t so restrained. Sometimes she wishes Kara would hold her so tight, so close, that there’s nothing in between them, and they can just be one. And, of course, Lena knows that scientifically this isn’t possible—that two atoms can never truly touch—but her fingers curl into the fabric of Kara’s cape and her eyes clench shut with the force of this desire anyway.

Lena could stay there all night, completely wrapped up in Kara in the middle of her hallway, but she gradually relinquishes her grip and steps back, smoothing down the front of her now-crushed blouse as she does so.

She swallows and manages to look up at Kara with a smile. “Okay?” she asks again, eyebrows raised pointedly.

Kara laughs shortly, rolling her eyes, but her lips curve up at the edges. “Okay, Lena,” she says, and it’s much more convincing this time.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Lena promises, catching Kara’s curt nod and the glimpse of a small smile before the doors close on her.

When she’s alone in the elevator, Lena pushes a lungful of air past her lips and sags against the wall, head tilted to the ceiling, as though calling on some higher power to save her from the complete disaster of her own yearnings.

Chapter Text

One night, Lena comes home to find Mon El staring at himself in the hallway mirror, fussing at his clothes with a deep frown on his face.

“Lena, thank Rao you’re here,” he says, relieved. “Does this outfit say ‘successful first date’ to you?” Lena freezes, halfway through dropping her keys in the bowl at the entrance. Mon El turns to her, eyebrows arched expectantly.

“Um…” Lena coughs, blinking out of her trance and she comes forward, looking Mon El up and down. “I’d go with the blue shirt you have. You know, the collared one with the white dots?”

Mon El zips in and out of his room, changed in an instant. “Good call, Lena,” he says as he does up his top button.

Lena spins him towards her and reaches up to undo the button. “There you go,” she says with a small smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “It says ‘I’m sharp, but I can be fun too’.”

“That’s what I’m going for.” He takes in a breath, rubbing his palms together. “I know I see her every day, but I’m still nervous as hell.”

Lena pats him on the back, swallowing at a stubborn lump in her throat. “Don’t be. You’re good for each other, just…just be yourself.”

 

Mon El and Kara spend more time together, and Lena finds more excuses not to come home at night. It’s hard enough to come home to Mon El and Kara watching a movie together on the couch or eating stupid amounts of food together, but what is worse is when she comes home to an empty apartment, because that means they’re either out somewhere, maybe saving the world together or on a date, or Mon El is at Kara’s place. Both alternatives make her feel as empty as her apartment. So, she throws herself into her job, taking on more projects, more work, until she’s almost drowning in it, and then she can finally breathe. 

Mon El is more cheerful than Lena has ever seen him, which is saying something. He’s up early in the morning, humming songs Lena doesn’t recognise while he makes eggs (the only dish he has managed to become somewhat good at, despite Lena’s tutelage), and it’s good to see him happy like this, she tells herself. He deserves happiness, after all that has happened to him.

And Kara seems happy too, from what she can gather, but Lena really wouldn’t know for sure because she hardly ever sees her anymore, and that’s mostly a product of her own doing. Kara texts her every so often asking to see her, even offering to go to Lena’s favourite health food spot and promising that she’ll eat kale, but Lena just writes back no, apologising, but she’s too busy with work and she’ll have to take a rain check.

 

One afternoon, Supergirl drops into her office with a bag of sushi and a determined expression. “If you won’t come out for lunch, lunch is coming to you,” she announces as she strides inside.

“Kara…” Lena protests without much gusto, frowning slightly over her laptop.

“Lena…” Kara says back, imitating Lena’s tone. She sets the bag down on Lena’s desk, a self-satisfied grin tugging its way up her cheeks. “It’s from your favourite place.”

Lena flicks sceptical eyes from Kara, then to the bag, then back to Kara. “You didn’t.”

Kara’s grin spreads impossibly wider, and she pulls something from a secret pocket of her suit and tosses it onto Lena’s desk. Lena picks it up: it’s a keychain that says ‘I heart Tokyo’. 

“I did.”

Lena lunges forward with inhuman speed and rips into the bag, making Kara scrunch her nose up with a giggle as Lena’s eyes go wide at the sight of delicate pieces of sushi lined up next to each other in the container, each piece bearing a different vibrantly coloured piece of fish. Lena’s mouth waters and her stomach joins in too, making the fact that she hasn’t eaten since her coffee and fruit at six in the morning known audibly.

“So beautiful,” she whispers, mentally planning which order she should eat them in. She chooses a tuna nigiri to start, picking it up gingerly before she pops it into her mouth. She chews slowly with her eyes closed, the fish melting deliciously on her tongue, and lets out a satisfied moan with a smile.

“There it is,” Kara says softly from where she stands across the desk. Lena’s eyes fly open and she gives a start, honestly having completely forgotten Kara was even there as she indulged in a moment of pure sushi-fuelled bliss.

Lena swallows and dabs at her lips with a napkin. “There what is?” she asks.

“Your smile. I haven’t seen it in a while, I was wondering if it was still there. But…there it is. I missed it.” Kara says, eyes soft and warm, but a little sad at the edges.

Lena sighs, her back slumping as she rubs a hand over her chin and averts her eyes. “I’m sorry, Kara. I’ve been a little out of sorts lately. There’s just…a lot on my mind,” she murmurs, catching a pen between her teeth as she stares at a spot just over Kara’s shoulder.

Kara studies her face a moment, then softens, her entire demeanour filled with realisation. “Of course, Lena, of course. How could I not have seen? I totally understand,” she says, rounding Lena’s desk where she leans back on it and looks down at Lena with kind eyes.

Lena swivels in her chair to glance up at Kara, eyebrow arched in confusion. “You…you do?” she asks, twisting nervously at the pen as her heart picks up and her stomach flips in apprehension.

Kara smiles warmly and covers Lena’s hand with her own, swiping her thumb across the soft skin. “Of course I do. I know this time of year is hard for you.”

Lena blinks back, completely not following. “It is?”

“Yeah,” Kara says gently. “It’s coming up on five years, isn’t it? Since Lex went to prison?”

Lena stares for a moment before her eyes go wide. “Oh. Right. Yeah. That. Yeah…that’s what’s got me all messed up.” She sighs, twisting the napkin in her hands before she looks back up, feeling slightly guilty at letting Kara believe that was what was really bothering her. “Thank you for understanding, Kara.”

“Hey,” Kara says, and places a finger under Lena’s chin, tilting it up slightly. “I’m here for you. Always.” Kara presses her thumb to the corner of Lena’s mouth, and it takes everything Lena has in her to not just melt into her touch, but she remains firm, a statue. “There,” Kara murmurs. “That’s where your smile hides. I hope it comes back soon.”

“I hope so too, Kara,” Lena says quietly. She is able to flick Kara a quick smile before she eases her chin away, focusing her attention back on her sushi. “Around the world trips for my favourite foods definitely might help,” she notes wryly, eliciting an adorable giggle from Kara as she takes a second piece.

 

Lena can’t help but notice that when she comes home from work to find Kara and Mon El sitting together on the couch, Kara shuffles away from him, out from under whatever blanket they have procured, and takes special care to talk to her. Sometimes she leaves Mon El on the couch entirely, sitting upon one of the stools, elbows on the kitchen counter while Lena heats up some dinner or pours herself a glass of wine. She asks Lena about her day, chatting animatedly until Lena feigns a headache with a forced smile and takes herself to bed.

Lena knows Kara is just being kind, trying to make her feel included as the dynamic between the three of them shifts irrevocably.

But it tastes all too much like pity, and there’s nothing a Luthor despises more than pity.

So Lena would rather stay away. She spends longer hours at the office, coming home later and later so she minimises the time she has to spend around the two of them. She hates being this person: the sad woman wearing a painted on smile around the two most important people in her life who have found each other—who have found happiness. It’s pathetic, and Lena doesn’t know how much longer she can do it.

 

The last straw comes when Lena walks in to her apartment one night after work, and hears a series of distinct grunts and heavy breathing coming from the lounge room. Her stomach churns, a hundred different gut-wrenching scenarios flashing through her mind as she rounds the corner to see—

Kara and Mon El in the middle of the living room floor, Mon El with his shirt off and Kara in a tank top, facing each other as they do pushups.

“What the hell are you two doing?” she asks incredulously, as a wave equal parts surprise and relief she hadn’t walked in on something else washes over her.

“Pushup competition,” Kara answers gruffly as she comes up, and Lena can see every single muscle in her gloriously toned arms literally glistening with the sheen of sweat on her body. She subconsciously lists them in her head—deltoid, trapezius, triceps, biceps, forearm flexors…triceps…triceps…sweet mother of triceps—and feels her mouth go dry.

“One-thousand and twenty-five, one-thousand and twenty-six…” Mon El grunts, a bead of sweat dripping down the side of his head.

“Lena, get on my back, let’s up this game,” Kara suggests, her eyes locked in on Mon El’s with fierce determination.

Lena just squeaks, mumbling something about having forgotten her phone (which is in her hand) in the car and turns on her heel, darting out of the apartment, thinking about how impossible it’s going to be to get that image out of her head, and decides this has to come to an end.

 

***

 

“Mon El, the time has come for you to move out.”

Mon El blinks up at her, a confused frown on his face. “You want me to leave?” he asks, and Lena ignores the feeling that she’s just kicked a puppy.

“Yes,” Lena answers, realising once the word is out that it was a bit too sharp. “It’s part of being an adult, Mon El. Independence. I’ve taught you what I can about being human, now you need to experience the world on your own. Time to leave the nest and fly, little bird.”

Mon El sighs, scrubbing at the back of his neck. “I guess…” he says uncertainly. “Where am I supposed to go?” he asks.

“I’m not throwing you out on the street, Mon El, don’t be so dramatic. That’s my thing,” she says with a wry grin. “I’ll help you find a place. Or maybe you could move in with Kara,” she suggests without really thinking, and Mon El makes a face.

“I don’t know, Lena. We’ve only been dating a few weeks. I’ve watched enough romantic comedies to know that that would just be way too much too soon.”

“Right, of course,” Lena says with a nod, and secretly she’s relieved that Mon El and Kara won't be shacking up together. Even though she’s the one who accidentally suggested it, the thought just makes her skin crawl. “We’ll find your own place then.”

Mon El scratches at his chin, worry at his brow. “Will I still get to see you?”

Lena lets the words hang in the air and she’s transported back to when she was sixteen and Lex left for college and she stood in his doorway, watching as he packed, silently dreading the emptiness he would leave behind in his absence.

“Of course you will, Mon El. We work in the same building, remember?” 

“I know, but…it won’t be the same,” he mumbles, shifting on the couch.

Lena gives him an amused look. “You can still come around for cooking lessons, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Mon El chuckles, slightly more at ease. “I certainly will miss your cooking. Okay. I’m moving out.” He sucks in a nervous breath, holding it at the top. “Gosh that’s terrifying. I’ve never lived on my own.”

Lena smiles softly and loops her arm through Mon El’s. “You’ll be just fine. It’s for the best.”

 

Mon El moves out on a Saturday, into a quaint flat near the office Jess managed to track down. He doesn’t have many things, aside from the three suitcases worth of clothes Lena bought for him when he first arrived, a small collection of books and a few board games. He hosts Kara and Lena for his first night in his apartment, and they sit on the floor eating pizza with napkins, as Mon El owns neither chairs nor plates.

“You definitely need to make a trip to Ikea,” Kara remarks, looking around the bare apartment.

“Mon El…” Lena frowns, “where are you going to sleep?”

Mon El’s face falls slowly as the realisation that he doesn’t yet own a bed dawns on him. “Uh…” he turns on a charming grin, “can I crash with one of you guys?”

Lena rolls her eyes and stands, smoothing out her skirt. “Absolutely not. I just got rid of you. Kara, you take this one,” she says. Kara turns bright red, her jaw tensing, but Lena just shrugs and grins in response. “What? He’s your boyfriend, and therefore your responsibility now,” she says casually, ignoring sour taste using the word ‘boyfriend’ to describe Mon El in relation to Kara leaves on her tongue.

But Lena certainly doesn’t miss the way Kara holds up a finger in what looks like protest, her mouth open with words that don’t come out, her brow set in a definite crinkle. She also catches the awkward glance Mon El and Kara seem to share before quickly averting their eyes from each other, and the CEO inside her jots that strange occurrence down before she tosses her handbag over her shoulder.

(She will go on to replay that moment over and over in her head, analysing it into infinity.)

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a bubble bath and an entire apartment waiting for me. Congratulations on the new place Mon El, please do have us over again when you own chairs. Ciao!” she calls breezily over her shoulder as she leaves, her smile slipping as soon as she shuts the door behind her.

Her apartment is still, and silent, when she returns. Her footsteps echo over-loudly against the walls as she walks around, feeling the emptiness pressing all around her.

This is the right thing, for all of them, she reminds herself. Space is definitely what she needs to kick this life-ruining crush and just get on with things.

Right?

Right.

Lena sighs and tips her head back against the porcelain bathtub, blowing out bubbles as she submerges her head underwater.

 

***

 

Mon El’s first event as L-Corp’s Junior fundraising officer and events coordinator goes off without a hitch. In fact, it’s an absolute success. The tickets for the gala completely sold out, and it seems all of National City’s finest have put on their Sunday best for the occasion, Kara Danvers and the Superfriends included.

Lena is by no means a stranger to the spotlight, having been more or less thrust into it since puberty, when Lillian decided she was out of her ugly duckling phase and could have the privilege of attending countless events with the family (in all honesty, Lena sometimes wished she’d stayed ugly). Despite this, she’s never felt like more of a rockstar than when she walks down the red carpet flanked by Kara, Mon El and their cast of attractive friends.

James and Winn are both looking sharp in outfits they must have coordinated in advance: Winn is wearing a black shirt with a grey blazer, while James’ outfit is the inverse: a grey shirt and black blazer. They refuse to take pictures without standing directly next to each other. Kara rolls her eyes, saying she loves them, but their bromance is gross and seriously getting out of hand.

Maggie and Alex both turn up in dresses that make onlookers’ jaws drop and inextricably link their hands throughout the night, clearly going for the ‘hottest couple of the night’ award (which Lena reminds them multiple times doesn’t exist, only to be told by Alex that if there were one, they would definitely win).

Even J’onn has gone all out for the occasion, switching his tight, black short-sleeved button-down for a tight, black, long-sleeved button-down.

Mon El even held still long enough for Lena to secure a bow-tie around his neck. Lena, herself, has gone for a figure-hugging red dress, halter-necked, with an intricate web of red cords splayed  across the otherwise open back. She’s left her hair down parted to the side where it falls in loose waves.

Lena had told herself she’d been imagining the way Kara’s lips parted open upon seeing her when she’d walked into her apartment before the event.

“Lena, you look…” she’d begun to say, but whatever composure Kara may or may not have lost quickly reassembled into a dimple-bearing grin on the blonde’s face when Mon El came out, tugging at the sleeves of his blue suit.

“Come on, guys. Tell me this wasn’t planned,” she’d said, gesturing between Lena and Mon El.

Lena raised a questioning eyebrow.

“The red, the blue…” Kara elaborated, now using both hands. “You guys are wearing my colours!”

Lena and Mon El had looked each other up and down. Mon El was the first to start laughing, and Lena joined in soon after, bringing her hand to her forehead, and she was all too aware of the irony of the situation.

As Lena straightened up, she’d grasped the chance to look at Kara properly—she’d opted for a simple, classic black dress with a slit across her lower abdomen, a strip of skin unfairly showing through. To her, Kara was the sun, and she felt the weight of the crush she thought she could sweep under the rug with space and time drop down on her again like a comical anvil from an old-timey cartoon.

(Besides, who was she even kidding? She’d blown straight past ‘crush’ status a long time ago).

Lena had opened her mouth, maybe even to say something to that effect if she dared, but Mon El cut in front, his hands open and his eyes wide.

“Kara…wow. I don’t have the word in English, but you’re—”

Lena didn’t understand what came out of Mon El’s mouth next, but Kara must have, because laughed and shook her head, calling Mon El a flatterer before insisting they hurry up because she was already starving.

Now, Lena wonders if she’s imagining the way her hair blows dramatically in the wind as she walks in to the venue, until she sees the giant fan by the doorway.

“That was my idea,” Mon El whispers proudly in her ear.

Kara tosses her hair theatrically as she walks in behind them, and it’s meant to be a joke, but Lena has to actively remind herself to keep her eyes from falling out of her head.

Mon El had kept what the events team had been planning for the night relatively away from Lena’s curious eyes, so Lena doesn’t know what to expect. She has to admit, he’s done a terrific job. National City’s gallery of Modern Art is hardly recognisable underneath the elaborate decorations and L-Corp promotional material.

A DJ plays music off to one side, and there is no shortage servers milling about the crowd laden down with mouth-watering looking canapés and flutes of champagne. Lena briefly wonders if Mon El was thinking of his own stomach or of Kara’s when he organised the catering. Judging by the sheer amount, probably Kara’s.

Mon El touches a hand to his earpiece and frowns. “You’re kidding? How hard is it to—yes, I know. Ok, I’ll be right there.” He sighs wearily and shakes his head. “Excuse me, ladies, I’ve got to go handle a situation. The ice swan is missing a head, this is a disaster,” he mutters as he strides off.

Lena and Kara exchange a look and dissolve into laughter.

“He’s dedicated, you’ve got to give him that,” Kara chuckles.

“Or, he’s just afraid of his boss,” Lena counters.

“Rumour has it, L-Corp’s CEO is a real hardass,” Kara murmurs conspiringly, and Lena quirks a brow.

“You’d better watch it, or you’ll find out if those rumours are true.”

Kara makes a face back and loops her arm through Lena’s, leading her further into the venue. “So, what should we do? There’s a bar for you, food for me, we could have a dance, or there’s a photo booth thing over there that looks pretty fun, or we could try and spot some celebrities…” Kara says, trailing off as she sees Lena’s apologetic expression.

“I’m sorry, Kara, but there are some people here I really should mingle with,” Lena says, gently withdrawing her arm. “I’ll catch up with you later, okay?”

“Oh…okay, sure, yeah of course! You’re the CEO, go be important and, uh…CEO-ey,” Kara says with a thin smile.

Lena glances around the room until she finds what she’s looking for and leans into Kara’s side. “I think that server has those canapés you love.”

Kara perks up, scanning the room with wide eyes. “Those little shrimp things with the cream cheese?”

“The very same.”

Kara’s eyes lock onto where Lena is indicating, darkening with determination. “You know I love those,” Kara says, a hungry growl entering her voice. “If you’ll excuse me, I have business of my own to attend to…”

Lena sighs fondly, watching as Kara strides purposefully after an innocent-looking waiter who has absolutely no idea what he’s in for. She pinches her shoulders back as she turns to scan the room with intent. Unlike Kara and the Superfriends, who are wasting no time in goofing off and consuming as much free food and booze as they can, she and Mon El have an actual job to do.

It’s time to do what Lena Luthor does best: get money out of rich people.

Lena spends the next couple of hours working the room, charming wealthy business people and socialites, convincing them to write healthy cheques for the L-Corp foundation. Mon El appears by her side while she’s dealing with a curmudgeonly old gentleman, linking his arm with hers and flashing a winning smile.

“Yes, but I hear you’ve aligned with Supergirl,” the old man says, lowering his voice on the word. “She’s an alien, did you know that Miss Luthor?”

“Yes. I, like everyone, am aware that the flying, extra-fast, extra-strong hero of the city is an extra-terrestrial,” Lena says flatly, unable to keep the irritated frown from twitching at her expression.

“Well. I hope you’re not forgetting where your loyalties should lie. You are, after all, only human,” he huffs, and the frown really takes over Lena now.

Mon El cuts in, all smiles. “Aren’t we all only human, Mr. Williams? You know who is really working to benefit all people of this fine planet? The L-Corp foundation. Please, let me tell you about some of the work we’re doing…” Mon El says then launches into the sales pitch, flashing Lena a grin and a thumbs up behind the man’s back as he walks away with him.

A few minutes later, he trots back over, the promise of a large sum of money being donated to the foundation inflating his chest. “Am I good or what?” he asks proudly.

Lena rolls her eyes and pats his arm. “Thanks for the save save back there. Maybe you are good at this.”

Mon El shrugs casually. “What can I say? Rich people who think they’re better than everyone are kind of my crowd.” He perks up as he hears a song come on. “Hey, I know this song! Lena, we’ve worked enough, you have to dance with me.”

Before Lena can say anything, she is being pulled haphazardly onto the dance floor. He stands close to her, one arm around her waist, so the dancing they’re doing isn’t much more than swaying to the rhythm in each other’s space, which Lena is glad for. Dancing ridiculously around in her kitchen is one thing, but doing it in heels, in front of people who are supposed to view her as a serious CEO…that’s another thing entirely.

“How do you know this song while I don’t?” Lena asks. “I thought you were supposed to be the alien here.”

“As it turns out, Lena, most humans listen to music from this century,” Mon El teases. “Kara gave me an ipod. It’s this tiny device that can hold millions of songs—”

“I know what an ipod is, Mon El,” Lena laughs. “And it’s probably more like thousands, if you get one with decent storage.”

Mon El shrugs. “Doesn’t really matter. I stream everything through Spotify over the DEO’s wifi anyway.”

Lena quirks an amused eyebrow. “Well look at you, all hip with human technology.”

Mon El chuckles. “I feel like I’m getting the hang of things. Every day, it feels a little less strange to call this place my home. I still feel sad about Daxam, but…I don’t miss my life there. And then I feel guilty about that, but at the same time, I’m glad I landed on this planet. It’s a strange feeling. Kara would understand.”

Lena frowns slightly because no, Kara wouldn’t understand that. Lena knows that Kara misses Krypton every day, and she would give anything to have it back. She’d give up her powers, even meeting Alex and everyone she knew on earth, if it meant Krypton never died. Kara would never say this out loud, but Lena knows it’s true. She sees it in her eyes on the rare occasion that she talks about Krypton, hears it in the slight waver in her voice.

Still, she smiles anyway, giving the hand Mon El has in hers a squeeze.

“Well, you’ve done a great job with the event tonight. You’re doing some real good on this planet, and I feel like this is only the beginning.”

“Thanks, Lena. That means a lot to me. But…as much as I’d like to take all of the credit, it was a team effort,” he says, albeit somewhat reluctantly. “There are some great people in the department. Although, I will take sole credit for the fan idea. That was all Mon El—or, should I say, Mike,” he says with a wink. “Can I say something?”

“Go ahead.”

“I”m really glad you found me. You’ve been nothing but kind and helpful to me from the moment I got here—even though I kind of tried to kill you at first,” he gives an apologetic grimace, which Lena just waves off easily. “You helped me get my message out into space, you gave me a home when I had nowhere to go, you were patient with me when I couldn’t control my powers—you made me feel like I fit in, like I could belong here. You gave me this job, and I have a real purpose now. And you introduced me to Kara,” he says, and the fond smile that lights up his eyes at the mention of her name is a thorn in Lena’s side. He draws his focus back to Lena, and she quickly smiles it off in the well-practiced way she has down to a science. “I owe you everything, Lena. If there’s anything I can ever give you—anything at all—just say the word, and it’s yours. I mean it,” he says earnestly.

Lena nips at her bottom lip as he speaks. There’s one thing she can think of that he can give her—but she quickly shuts down that notion before it can fully fathom itself into existence. Kara isn’t a prize to be won, or a commodity to be traded, bartered for, fought over. She is not his to give; the only person who can make that call is Kara, and she seems to have decided. Not that Lena ever even properly entered the ring anyway.

Lena considers his eyes a moment—they’re sincere, and genial, and feel like the dressing gown he often had at the ready to slip around her shoulders when she came home from a strenuous work day while they were living together. Lena finds herself sighing, and leaning her head on his shoulder, finding it easier to look at the skin of his neck than his eyes.

“I’m glad I found you, too, Mon El. Having you in my life…you’ve reminded me what it’s like to have family.” she says quietly. She tilts her head up, a slight smirk playing at her lips. “And you should be glad I’m the one who found you—I’m probably one of the few people on earth smart enough to get you out of that pod. If you’d landed in someone else’s backyard, you’d more than likely still be in there.”

Mon El chuckles. “True. And if you hadn’t been there, I feel like Kara would have lasered me on sight.”

Lena arches her eyebrows, and doesn’t disagree with that.

“How are things? Between you and Kara,” she asks slowly, part of her terrified of the answer, while most of her just needs to know.

“Good! They’re good, really good. Everything’s just fine and dandy,” he says quickly.

Lena’s brow shoots up at that. “Well that sounds fake,” she deadpans.

Mon El breathes a laugh, shaking his head. “I can’t keep anything from you, can I?” He sighs, taking a moment to find his words. Lena pulls her head back so she can see him better, waiting with bated breath. “It’s just…I’ve told her a few times how I feel about her—and Rao I just like her so much, Lena—but she’s always so…vague in response. She still hasn’t called me her boyfriend,” he admits.

And Lena swallows, perhaps in an attempt to douse the flame that is crackling to life in the centre of her chest, because it feels all too much like hope—and hoping that Kara maybe doesn’t feel as strongly about Mon El as she thought not only makes her foolish, it also makes her a horrible person.

“Which is fine, of course,” Mon El continues quickly, “I don’t want to pressure her into saying anything she’s not ready to say or expect her to feel a certain way but…” he trails off with a nervous, forced laugh. “I guess I just have no idea where I stand, and I’m not used to that.”

Lena gives a short laugh. “Let me guess, you’re accustomed to women throwing themselves at the prince of Daxam without you having to do so much as lift a finger?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

Lena sighs, dropping her head back down. “Well…Kara’s not like that,” she says, just loud enough for Mon El to hear. “She’s special. She has an enormous heart, but between saving the world, her job at CatCo, and sharing herself between the people she cares about, she’s a very busy woman. You have to be worth her time.”

Lena feels Mon El’s jaw clench, then relax as he clears his throat. “Well I’d like to think that I am, but…I guess that’s up to her, isn’t it? I wish mind reading was one of my powers on this planet, because that sure would come in handy right about now,” he jokes, but it’s weighted down, not filled with its usual levity. “You know, she always makes time for you, Lena,” he adds thoughtfully.

Guilt clenches at her chest at the thought that she most certainly hasn’t been returning that kindness as of late. “She’s a good person like that. Much better than I deserve,” she mumbles.

Lena feels a tapping on her shoulder and turns around to see Kara herself standing there, lips quirked into a smile, hands clasped behind her back, and it’s quite enough to rob the air from her lungs.

“Mind if I cut in?” Kara asks.

The music changes to a slow song and Lena swallows, cheeks burning already as she stands away from Mon El. “Not at all. I was actually just about to get a drink. He’s all yours, Kara.”

Lena gives the pair a quick smile before making a brisk exit from the dance floor. She doesn’t see the way Kara’s eyes linger on her, mouth slightly open, until Mon El catches her in his arms and spins her around.

Lena makes her way to the bar and leans against it as she orders a drink. She watches over the rim of a martini glass at Mon El and Kara dancing together. Mon El’s hand is low on Kara’s waist, and her arm is draped loosely over his shoulder and she’s laughing at something he’s saying, his mouth close to her ear. Lena drains the rest of her drink, wondering if perhaps she can drown the beast that is thrashing around in her stomach, but to no avail.

She sighs, deciding standing here and watching really isn’t the best thing for her. She orders another drink and finds her way outside, breathing the cool night air deep into her lungs, glad to find somewhere somewhat private to collect herself.

Lena rests her elbows against the railing, tips her chin up to the sky. She thinks back to the night they sat on her roof, how Kara said Rao could be seen from earth and spends a few minutes scanning the heavens. She’s not really sure what she should be looking for, maybe a star with a reddish hue, but she eventually gives up and fiddles with the toothpick that skewers the olive in her martini instead.

“There you are!” The familiar voice comes from over her shoulder and is soon joined by the warmth that usually accompanies it as Kara appears next to her, her bare arm brushing against Lena’s own as she leans against the balcony railing. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“You have?” Lena asks, pushing to keep her voice neutral.

“Of course. I’ve barely seen you all night.”

“Well, you seem to have managed to keep yourself busy.”

“You’re right. Those canapés weren’t going to eat themselves.”

“I didn’t mean…never mind,” Lena sighs, shaking her head. “You and Mon El seem like you’re doing well,” she observes, doing her best to sound casual, entirely removed from the situation.

Kara gives a noncommittal shrug. “We make a good team. He’s a good guy, really sweet, and charming. He really—he really cares for me…” she trails off, catching her bottom lip in the way Lena knows means there’s something she’s not saying. “I’m glad you didn’t let me beat him up when we first met,” she moves on quickly, giving a light chuckle. The chuckle dies out and she carefully looks at Lena with a slight crease in her brow. “Lena, can I ask you something?” she asks, somewhat apprehensively. “Were you…interested in Mon El?”

Lena glances at Kara out of the side of her eye before staring back out at the view. “No. I’m not interested in people like him,” she simply says.

“What? Aliens?” Kara’s eyes flash hurt for the briefest of moments—it’s so fast, Lena almost misses it.

Lena blinks back at Kara. “No, Kara. Men. You know that.”

“Oh.” Kara flushes and shifts as she scrubs at the back of her neck. “Yeah—I know. I know that. But you said so yourself that you see sexuality as fluid, so I just thought, maybe…”

Lena sighs, softening at her edges, and shakes her head. “I’m not interested in Mon El. He’s like a brother to me, that would be…so bizarre.”

“Oh. Okay then.” Kara is quiet for a moment, eyes cast down to her fidgeting hands. “Then…if you’re not interested in Mon El, why do I feel like I’ve done something wrong?”

The way Kara looks at her, like she’s burning with a question only she can answer, makes Lena look down at her glass, and she can feel the ice walls she’s built around herself cracking and melting beneath Kara’s gaze.

“You haven’t, Kara,” she says quietly, drawing in a long breath. “It’s me.” She turns to her, a sad smile settling at the corners of her mouth. “It’s just—up until now, you were my special friend. And I guess Mon El was my special man who fell from the sky—which sounds silly saying it out loud, but…I don’t know. Luthors aren’t very good at sharing, I suppose,” she says, shoulders lifting into a shrug. “But it’s fine, Kara. You and Mon El are good for each other. I’m happy for you, really.”

Kara makes a strange sputtering sound Lena has never heard from her before. It’s somewhere between a barked laugh and a strangled cry, and she quickly covers her mouth with a trembling hand. And Lena really looks at Kara for the first time and her heart drops into her stomach when she sees just how incredibly sad she looks with her cheeks blooming blotchy red patches and her eyes shimmering blue with tears she keeps at bay through sheer force of will.

Lena’s brows pull together as she fixes Kara with a look of concern. “Kara—Kara, what’s wrong?”

Kara swallows, squeezing her eyes shut tight as she shakes her head. “Nothing,” she says, tries for a smile—fails. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t you start that with me, Kara Danvers,” Lena says firmly. “Please, talk to me. I know I haven’t been a very good friend lately, but—I’m here,” she implores, gentler this time.

Kara lets out a long shuddering breath, lowering both hands to the barrier where she presses her palms down. Hairline fractures in the concrete crack beneath her hands as her lungs run out of air to push past her lips. She’s quiet for a moment before she angles her head towards Lena with shining eyes, the flesh of her cheek pulled in between her teeth, voice shaky as she speaks.

“Have you ever wanted something, or thought you wanted something, and then when you got it—it just wasn’t what you expected? Or didn’t feel like you thought it should? And then, maybe you just don’t want it anymore. And maybe you never wanted it in the first place, maybe you were just trying to distract yourself or fill something up inside of you, but now you have it and you’re still missing something, you’re still not whole, you’re still just so—” she inhales sharply and whispers, fists clenched tight, “empty, and more alone than ever.”

Lena watches Kara closely as the waterfall of words tumbles from her mouth, trying to follow the tangled threads of Kara’s scrambled thoughts. She places her hand on top of Kara’s, and Kara immediately turns it over, her fingers closing around Lena’s palm.

“Kara…” Lena says slowly, like she’s ti-toeing across eggshells to close the distance between them. “is this about Mon El?”

Kara closes her eyes again, nods. Her hand grips tightly around Lena’s, just to the point where it starts to hurt, but Lena squeezes back insistently regardless.

“Yes,” Kara breathes. “Yes and no. It’s about me, too. And it’s about you, it’s about all of us. I’m not blind, Lena. I can see you’re upset.” Kara’s eyes fall on Lena’s, a sadness swimming in their depths that makes Lena look away, down to their conjoined hands instead. She carefully eases her hand away, bringing it back to fold on top of the other.

“Please don’t worry about me, Kara. I’m—I’m fine.”

Kara huffs a frustrated sigh, bringing her hand up to press at her brow. “Can we just stop saying we’re fine when we’re not? Honestly, it’s offensive, because I know you, Lena. I know how you feel without even having to listen to your heartbeat.”

Lena gives a small start at that—at the reminder that Kara has an unfair advantage and can read exactly how she’s feeling at any point— and her eyes flick up to lock in on Kara’s darkened blues.

Kara shifts so she’s facing her and presses her forehead down to hers, her fingers tracing feather-light up and down her arms, leaving a burning trail across pale skin in their wake that makes Lena’s breath hitch in her throat.

“But right now…it’s telling me everything I need to know,” Kara mumbles low in her ear, spreading goosebumps across her entire being, and Lena has never been more aware of the way her heart drums in her chest: strong, fast, and insistent.

“Kara.” Lena breathes through a tight jaw, raising her hands to lay them flat on Kara’s chest, pushing her back only a fraction. “That’s not fair.”

Kara huffs a short laugh, lets her hands drop down by her sides. “I know. I’m sorry,” she says, pulling her forehead away as she wraps her arms around herself instead. “I just…no matter what I do, there’s no way out without someone I care about getting hurt. I’m so…I’m so lost, Lena. I’m not good at this.”

The way Kara is looking at her is like she's asking for help, but Lena is adrift, floating in this murky fog Kara has just unloaded before her. Lena tips her head up to look at Kara, vaguely thinking about how their height difference is usually made up by her heels, but now that Kara, too, is in heels, she’s got about half a head on her.

“Kara…”

“Please help me,” Kara says, shifting close again, close enough to be completely intoxicating, and she brings her hands up to either side of her face, thumbs swiping at her cheeks. With a pained smile, Kara says, “just—tell me how you feel, so at least I’ll know if I’m imagining things or not.”

Lena’s blood pounds at her temples, head foggy with the way Kara is so close she can see individual lashes fluttering open and shut over her wanting eyes throat clogged with all the things she could say, all the things she wants to say. “Kara, I—”

“Lena!”

The sound of her name coming from a voice that certainly doesn’t belong to Kara has her springing back, while Kara’s hands remain hovering in midair where her face had been just moments ago.

“Good news!” Mon El’s voice becomes louder as he jogs closer to them, and he’s beaming widely. Lena runs shaky hands down her front, burning in the aftershocks of having Kara so close, of very nearly letting go of everything that was holding her back. By the time Mon El reaches them, she’s steadied her hands and reassembled a look of calm composure on her face, the product of years of practice under Lillian’s watchful eye.

“We’ve raised enough money to build the new ward in the children’s hospital,” Mon El announces with a broad grin.

“That’s—that’s so good to hear, Mon El,” Lena says steadily.

Mon El pauses, eying them and the purposeful foot of space between them critically. “Am I interrupting something?” he asks slowly, glancing between Kara and Lena.

“No,” Kara says with a short smile. “No, we were just talking.”

Lena can’t help but be taken aback by how quickly Kara reassembles herself into smiling, sunny Danvers, a lingering flush at her throat and tight swallow the only remaining evidence of her former distress. But really, Lena thinks, she shouldn't be all that surprised. Kara knows more than most people about masks, disguises, and putting up a front.

“Right,” Mon El says. “Well, I’m glad I found you guys. The gala is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the party is. I have a little surprise planned for all of us at the alien bar,” he says, rubbing his hands together gleefully.

Lena purses her lips and swallows thickly past the words she had been about to say to Kara, the words that could change everything between them, realising with a shock of guilt that for a moment, she’d forgotten completely about Mon El, who would be the collateral damage of those words.

“I’m going to have to call it a night, Mon El,” she says, rubbing at her temple. “I’ve got a bit of a headache, I think I’m going to head home.”

Mon El shakes his head firmly. “No way, Lena. You taught me how to cook, you almost taught me chess, and you taught me how to be a somewhat successful human person. Now I’m going to teach you how to have fun,” he says with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Hey,” Lena frowns indignantly. “I’m fun.”

Mon El chuckles and takes hold of both of Lena’s hands, tugging her after him. “I’m going to show you how to really have fun. Daxam style.”

Lena casts a glance over her shoulder at Kara as she is pulled inside, the air between them thick with unanswered questions, and Lena knows this is far from over.

Chapter Text

They round up the rest of the group and pile into a few cars waiting outside, trading in the glamour and twinkling lights of the party for the warm, comfortable familiarity of their favourite hangout.

Kara sits in the middle on the drive over. Mon El has his arm slung around her shoulders while he talks animatedly about the party, recounting some humorous story or another, but all Lena can focus on is the way Kara’s fingers brush just above her knee in a way that can only be intentional. Kara’s eyes are fixed straight ahead, her face not giving anything away, while Lena burns quietly in her seat, equal parts heady yearning and twisting guilt fighting for dominance in the chasm of her belly.

When they finally arrive, Lena is both surprised and relieved that Mon El has provided them with a change of clothing.

“As lovely as you ladies look, it’s time to get out of this stiff attire and get our party suits on,” he says with a grin as he hands them each a bag.

Kara opens her bag and pulls out a striped button-down, then fixes Mon El with an incredulous look. “I’ve been looking everywhere for this shirt! Where did you get this?”

“Your locker at work, and Lena I got those from your closet,” he answers proudly. Lena and Kara exchange a look.

“I think we need to revisit our conversation on boundaries, Mon El,” Lena says carefully.

“Sure, whatever, but right now, it’s party time. Go on, get changed,” he urges.

Lena’s initial fears about what Mon El has picked out for her are assuaged when she finds a simple pair of snug jeans and black sweater, which she gladly exchanges for her red dress in the alien bar’s back room. With everyone in more relaxed outfits, they all gather around Mon El as he stands   on a chair by the bar.

“Thank you, thank you everyone for coming tonight, it really meant a lot to me that you were all there. I hope you enjoyed the party, though judging by Alex’s red face, I think it’s safe to say you did,” he says.

“You sold me at ‘open bar’,” Alex remarks loosely as she leans against her girlfriend for support with a giddy grin.

Mon El chuckles and presses his hands together. “I have one more surprise for tonight,” he says and directs his smile at Kara. “I know your Kryptonian metabolism makes Earth alcohol have no effect on you, so I tracked down something special.” He reaches his hand behind the bar (tossing a charming grin in response to the bartender’s scathing look) and pulls out a bottle of light amber liquid. A label fashioned out of masking tape has been slapped onto the side, the words ‘Kara’s giggle juice’ are scrawled across it in sharpie.

Kara raises a brow. “Mon El…what is that?”

“A spirit all the way from Starhaven. It’s basically tequila for Kryptonians,” he grins proudly, then adds, “don’t ask me what I had to do to get this. I just thought you might like to join in on the fun for once. You know, loosen up a little.” He hands the bottle out to Kara, eyebrows arched hopefully.

Kara eyes the bottle for a moment before she takes it, studying it critically as she turns it over in her hands. “I've always said I don’t need to drink to have fun…” she says, a slight frown creasing her forehead.

“Kara,” Lena says, “you don’t have to drink it if you don’t want to.”

Kara has told her before that she has little interest in knowing what it’s like to be drunk: the thought of losing control of her powers scares her, and Lena can see traces of that fear in her eyes as she stares at the bottle.

Kara looks back at her and her expression slides into one of determination, like her mind is now made up. “I want to,” she says firmly, and it’s like she’s convincing herself too.

With that, Kara tips the bottle up and drinks…and keeps on drinking. Lena’s eyes widen as a good third of the bottle disappears down Kara’s throat before she pulls it away from her lips, eyes clenched shut as her cheeks steadily flush red. Everyone is staring at her in shock when she opens her eyes, and she blinks back at them.

“What? Was that a lot?” she asks obliviously, and lets out a loud hiccup. “Oops,” she chuckles, covering her mouth.

“Nice!” Mon El cheers, giving her a high five (which Kara all but misses). The rest of the group laugh, James and Winn even give her a round of applause, before dispersing to their usual spots around the bar—Alex and Maggie gravitating naturally to the pool table, while Winn, James, and J’onn settle into a booth nearby.

Kara turns around from the bar with a shot glass in each hand, which she holds out to Mon El and Lena.

“Catch up, you two.”

Mon El gives Lena an amused look before taking his and tossing it back easily. Lena is a little more  apprehensive, eying Kara closely, but her expression is unreadable, aside from the insistent nod she gives towards Lena’s glass. With a sigh, Lena swallows the liquid down, wincing slightly as it burns its way down her throat. She's already feeling a little buzzed from the drinks at the gala, and as the aftereffects of the shot tickle pleasantly at her brain, she feels some of the weight of her and Kara’s last interaction lifting from her shoulders, at least temporarily.

“Better?” Kara asks, head tilted curiously to the side.

Lena frowns slightly and gestures to the bartender to give her another round. “I will be.”

“Come on,” Mon El says excitedly, tugging on Kara’s arm, “Winn and I have so many drinking games we want to play with you.”

Lena finds herself alone with two shots in front of her as Mon El and Kara disappear from her side. With a resigned shrug, she tosses them both back in quick succession.

Two more gin and tonics later, Lena manages to finally get Maggie alone when Alex gets into a heated argument with James about sports or something and drags her by the elbow out into the alleyway where she paces back and forth, hands wringing agitatedly.

“Damn, Lena, you’re stronger than you look,” Maggie remarks, rubbing gingerly at her arm. She then takes in Lena’s body language and goes into detective mode, cocking her head to the side. “What’s going on?”

Lena stops abruptly and spins on her heel, clenching her fists by her sides. “I think she likes me back,” she blurts out, cheeks flushing with colour at the risk she is taking by saying that loud—by even making that assumption.

Maggie stares back for a moment, her mind working to put things together. “Who? Kara?” she asks, and Lena nods vigorously. “How do you know?”

Lena steps closer to Maggie, rubbing her hands up and down her arms as she folds them around herself.

“She told me—sort of. She said—she said that she’s unhappy with Mon El I think? Like being with him isn’t what she expected and maybe it’s not what she wanted at all like maybe she was confused about—about me I guess? But that can’t be right and oh God she listened to my heartbeat and there’s no way she doesn’t know how I feel about her now but she wanted me to say it anyway because maybe she just loves watching me be pathetic god she makes me so mad sometimes—!”

She says all of this very fast, voice rising in pitch as she goes on, and has Maggie shushing her gently and putting an arm around her shoulders before she implodes. Lena pushes out a huffed breath and lets herself be somewhat calmed down by Maggie, her fingernails still digging into the flesh of her palms as Maggie rubs her arm up and down.

“Wow. That’s…a lot,” Maggie eventually says.

“You’re telling me!”

“What are you going to do?”

Lena groans, dropping her face into her hands. “I don’t know.” She peeks over at Maggie through her fingers. “Is fleeing to Tibet an option?”

Maggie chuckles kindly. “No. Only if you’re a coward. Are you a coward?”

“Luthors aren’t cowards,” Lena mumbles back, reciting one of the many things Lillian maintained Luthors were or weren’t throughout her upbringing.

“That’s what I thought,” Maggie nods.

Lena sighs, tipping her head up to take in the dizzying array of stars above them. “This is all just so messed up. It would be fine if we could only hurt each other—well, not fine, but not as bad—but…there’s Mon El. There’s no way he doesn’t get caught up in this, it’s not fair to him.”

“Lena. I know you’re the one who found him and you want to protect him, but you’re not responsible for him or his feelings,” Maggie says gently.

“Maybe,” Lena frowns. “But—I could have stopped all this from happening, if I’d just been honest with Kara a long time ago. Maybe I am a coward,” she huffs glumly.

Maggie gives her a kind smile and squeezes her into her side. “There’s no point going over and over what could have been now, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. Whatever is going on between Kara and Mon El—that’s between them. Kara seems to have some shit of her own to figure out, all you can do is be honest about your own shit and maybe this whole situation will be less…shit.”

Lena manages a weak laugh and leans her head on Maggie’s shoulder.

“God, this is awful,” Lena moans, eyes shut tight. “It’s just…there’s something between us, Maggie. Sometimes—it’s like gravity,” she whispers, her words materialising in front of her in the crisp night air.

Maggie squeezes Lena into her side. “Yep. I, of course, could see it from a mile away, that’s my gay superpower. Also, I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a pretty great detective.”

Lena laughs a bit, nudging Maggie gently, and breathes in deeply as a shiver from the chill of night runs across her body.

“I tell you what, Maggie. I am just…so tired of fighting it,” she murmurs, unable to stop a wet laugh from gurgling past her lips as that realisation alone lifts some of the weight pressing down on her right off her chest.

Maggie smiles kindly back at her. “Then don’t.”

“Hm,” Lena hums, resting her head against Maggie’s shoulder. “I need another drink,” she decides after a minute, eyes snapping open.

“Now that we can do. This one’s on me, Luthor. You’ve earned it,” Maggie chuckles as she takes Lena back inside.

Lena can’t be sure if it’s intentional or not, but Lena manages to avoid being alone with Kara throughout the night. This is probably for the best, as the more of ‘Kara’s giggle juice’ she drinks, the less sense she makes—and she didn't make much sense sober anyway. Kara’s friends sit around her, all delighting in the novelty of the drunk Kryptonian, trying to get her to pronounce difficult words through her syrupy speech and laughing at the ludicrous things she ends up saying.

Lena watches from the booth as Kara giggles into Alex’s shoulder, who herself is howling with laughter while Winn slumps in his seat, wearing a scowl like he’s just been been on the receiving end of a Danvers sisters’ roasting. Lena’s own brain swims in the murky soup of the collection of alcohols she’s consumed, but it feels better than actually feeling right now, so she finishes her drink.

“Lena?” Mon El says loosely some time—and many drinks—later as they sit side by side in the booth, his head lolling onto Lena’s shoulder.

“Yes, Mon El?” Lena asks, her own tongue feeling heavy and awkward in her mouth.

“Are you sad?” He tips his head up and Lena glances down where she meets his unfocused eyes. “You have such sad eyes sometimes…I just want to make it go away,” he mumbles, and Lena bites loosely at her lip, letting his words fade out into nothing and hang in the air as he tiredly drops his head back down.

“Yo, Luthor!” Maggie calls, and Lena slowly turns her head in the direction of the sound. Maggie approaches the booth, with a half-asleep Alex draped over her shoulders. “I’m taking this Danvers home,” she informs them. “And I think it’s quitting time for Little Danvers too,” she adds, glancing to the other side of the bar, where Kara is busy carrying out a spirited conversation with a coat stand. “Good luck with that one,” Maggie says, aiming a double-meaning smile at Lena.

“Hm,” Lena hums as she looks over at Kara. “Definitely time to go. Thanks, Maggie, get home safe.” With a slight sway in her step, she extricates herself from the booth, helps pull Mon El up behind her, and heads over to Kara.

“Kara? It’s time to go,” she says, tugging on Kara’s elbow.

Kara blinks slowly back at her. “Lena?” She asks, then, with recognition, “Lena! I was just telling my new friend about you. What did I tell you, mister? Isn’t she beautiful?” Kara slurs to the coat rack, her words punctuated by hiccups and giggles.

“She sure is. Pleasure to meet you, sir, but we really must be going.” Mon El laughs, clearly finding this hilarious, and makes a hat-tipping motion to the coat stand as he guides Kara away.

Lena’s apartment is just a short walk from the bar, but the journey is made considerably more difficult by the fact that Kara keeps trying to fly away. The first time, she crashes into a lamp post and slides down to the ground, landing in a pile of gasping giggles. The second time, Mon El is just able to jump high enough to catch onto her legs and bring her down. Lena glances worriedly down the street as they touch clumsily back down to the ground—fortunately, it is completely empty and no one would have seen.

“I have an idea,” Mon El declares. “Forgive me, Lena,” he says, and before Lena can say or do anything about it, she is being scooped up from under her armpits and finds herself placed on Kara’s back.

Kara lets out a surprised “oof!” at the sudden additional weight, staggers a few steps, but maintains her balance. Her hands slide under Lena’s knees for support and Lena shoots Mon El a filthy look as she slips her arms around Kara’s neck and holds on tight.

“What?” Mon El asks innocently. “I fixed it—she knows the rules.”

“Mhmm,” Kara hums with a dutiful nod, shifting Lena into a more secure position. “No flying with precious cargo.”

“Let the record show, I had no say in this,” Lena mutters, grumpily accepting her fate.

The ups and downs of Kara’s footsteps put Lena’s head into a dizzying spin, so she lets out a small groan and drops her face down into the crook of Kara’s neck, burying it into the blonde waves that fall there.

For just a moment, she lives in her body instead of her brain. Concentrates on the press of her front against Kara’s back: strong, steady, and dependable. Breathes in the honey-vanilla scent of her hair that surrounds her. Focuses on the pulse point in Kara’s neck thrumming against the back of her hand.

For a moment, the physical reality of Kara is all she knows, and she revels in it without the added weight of everything still hanging over them—at least, until they reach Lena’s apartment and Kara gently allows her to slip off of her back. Unaccustomed to having to use her own legs, Lena leans against Kara, who is stuffed in the corner of the lift. Kara sighs and rests her head against her own, making a small nonsensical sound as she does.

“You two are my favourite.” Mon El smiles affectionately at them both from the opposite corner.

Lena just looks back, something inside her stirring with the feeling that something’s not right about this. He certainly wouldn't be saying that if he knew that all Lena wanted to do once they got out of this elevator was pull Kara out after her, fall into bed next to her and tell her all the things her sober mouth couldn’t find the words for—and maybe, when the words ran out, she’d find something else for her mouth to do.

Now that thought stirs a rush of pooling warmth in her belly, and it’s enough to make herself stand up straight as the elevator dings at her floor. Kara stumbles slightly with a frown as she steps out of her space to find Lena’s steadying hand there, guiding her towards Mon El.

“Help her get to bed, will you?”

Mon El nods and secures an arm around her back while Lena unlocks the door, fumbling over her keys twice before she succeeds and pushes her way into the apartment. Mon El breathes in deeply as he and Kara step inside, looking around when Lena finds the light switch with a fond smile.

“Couch,” Kara all but grunts and flops down into it with a long sigh, bringing a limp hand to her forehead. “My brain hurts.”

Mon El crouches in front of her, tenderly taking her hands in his own and pressing his lips to her fingers. Lena swallows and wants to look away from the intimate gesture, but can’t. Kara just stares at her over the top of Mon El’s head, like she’s trying to read Lena, but Lena remains staunch, unreadable.

“You did really good, for a beginner,” Mon El teases lightly. “Did you have fun?” Kara nods, grimacing at the pain in her head, causing Mon El to chuckle.

“Yeah…it’s nice to be able to forget yourself. At least for a little bit,” she says languidly.

Mon El arches an eyebrow. “Not exactly the cheerful response I was hoping for—but I’ll take it I guess?”

Lena hands Mon El a full glass of water. “Make sure she drinks this before she goes to sleep. It’ll help with the hangover. Do Kryptonians even get hangovers?” she wonders aloud, and it takes her a full ten seconds to realise she’s been silently thinking about Kryptonian biology while holding the glass just out of Mon El’s reach. She blinks back into reality and extends her arm the rest of the way.

Mon El chuckles a bit as he accepts the glass. “I suppose we’ll find out,” he answers. “Okay, Supergirl. Time to sleep this thing off.”

Holding the water in one hand, he loops his free arm around Kara’s waist and lifts her easily off the couch. Kara hooks her legs around his waist and leans her cheek on his shoulder as he carries her down the hallway, but her eyes remain fixed on Lena.

“Wait,” Kara mumbles, causing Mon El to halt in his tracks. “Lena…” she extends a hand out towards Lena behind Mon El’s back.

Mon El angles his head over his shoulder, eyebrows arched inquisitively. “Fancy a sleepover?”

Lena glances around, as though there could be anyone else in the apartment, before she shrugs and nods. A tiny voice sounds through her alcohol-addled brain, telling her this is really not a good idea, but ignoring it isn’t difficult as she follows Mon El and Kara into her bedroom.

Mon El sets Kara down and Lena leads her into her walk in closet, where she rummages around in her drawers for something for Kara to wear. When she turns around, Kara is fumbling with her buttons, her fingers slipping clumsily over the plastic.

“Here, let me help,” Lena says, reaching out just as Kara huffs in frustration and rips her shirt open, sending buttons shooting off in every direction—one of which hits Lena squarely in the forehead, eliciting a yelp of surprise.

“Oh crud, oh golly, oh gosh, did I hurt you?” Kara gasps, eyes flying wide as she shuffles in close, thumb smoothing over the small red mark left behind above her brow.

Lena looks up at Kara’s worried face, lip caught in her teeth until she finds herself snorting, and all of a sudden, she’s full on giggling, unable to stop herself. It’s not long before Kara is chortling too, taking Lena’s weight as she doubles over against her, and she’s repeating “I’m so sorry” over and over between her laughter. For a moment, Lena’s chest is full to bursting, because it just feels so good to laugh with Kara again—she’d almost forgotten how good—how much she’s missed the joyful timbre of her laugh, the way her own heart swells in response to the sound.

Kara manages to get a grip first, a few residual laughs bubbling out past her lips as she straightens up. “I’m sorry, Lena. You’re not hurt, are you?”

“No, I’m fine,” Lena says, shaking her head as she swipes a tear from her eye.

“Good.” Kara leans back into the wall of Lena’s coats and jackets, her entire demeanour taking on a more sombre quality. “I don’t ever want to hurt you.”

Lena swallows, and it’s now that she realises Kara is standing right in front of her, shirt open, toned torso out on display. She forces herself to drag her eyes up to her face instead before she becomes too distracted, which is a very real danger.

“I…I know.”

“But I have. Haven't I?” Kara asks, expression pained.

“Kara,” Lena says, gently laying a hand on her forearm. “We don’t have to do this now.”

Kara sighs and nods, rubbing her hands over her face. Lena passes her a pair of pyjamas, and they turn around to change (Kara struggles a bit with the pants, but she manages eventually). When they walk out of the closet, Mon El is sprawled, star-fished on the bed, snoring softly.

Kara rolls her eyes. “He always takes up all the room,” she mutters, and Lena quirks an eyebrow, but doesn’t say anything. Kara slips a hand into her own and tugs her down the hallway into what used to be Mon El’s room, where she collapses into the bed, face down, with a long sigh. Silently, Lena is relieved—there’s really nothing worse she could imagine than sharing a bed with both Mon El and Kara right now.

Lena slips in next to her, curling onto her side, hands folded under her head as her eyes trace over the blonde’s form, watching her back rise and fall for a few breaths. After a minute or so, Kara shifts slightly, angling her head to face Lena, and Lena can’t forget the pain and sadness she saw in them just a few hours before.

“Are you okay?” Lena asks through the quiet dark.

“Mhmm.” Kara nods, her cheek smooshed endearingly against the pillow.

Lena knows this answer is probably not true,  but she decides not to press it. Not for now, at least.

Lena inches closer, and she’s able to reach out and touch Kara. She feels bold. Her fingers start toying at the hem of her t-shirt, then she tentatively lays her hand more fully at the curve of her hip. She catches the way Kara’s breath hitches in her throat, then releases slowly, and she takes this as an encouraging sign, begins stroking back and forth with her thumb.

“Are we okay?” she continues, flicking her eyes up to meet Kara’s.

“Mhmm. Always,” Kara whispers.

Something flashes through Lena then—it’s hot, and irate, and gone in an instant, but its residual energy makes her shake her head.

“No.” Lena says firmly, and Kara blinks back at her in surprise. “Not always. Always is easy. Always is a bandaid. Always keeps us together, but maybe we need to break apart.” Lena speaks boldly, finding that this candid honesty is both as addictive as the woman before her and as uninhibiting as the alcohol in her system. “Right now, we’re not ok. We’re broken. But—we can put ourselves back together. Make ourselves into something different, something better. Can’t we?”

Kara turns Lena’s words over in her mind, and nods slowly. Lena can feel her breath skating across her cheeks.

“What do you think we’re going to be when we do?”

“I’m not sure,” Lena says quietly. Their noses are practically touching now. “But I’m tired of not knowing.”

Kara swallows, and Lena can hear it in her throat, can see the tendons in her neck contracting and relaxing with the motion as she looks at her with darkened eyes. Kara is the sun, and the pull to her is overwhelming.

“Me too.”

Lena gives in to gravity.

She gives in to gravity, and when she kisses Kara, she’s kissing the whole galaxy. She’s kissing stars and nebulas and distant suns and burning planets and infinite space, and it’s slow and it’s tender and even though her mouth bears the unexpected lingering taste of this strange alien alcohol, it’s beyond anything Lena has ever imagined (and she’s imagined this more times than she cares to admit).

Slowly at first, and then all at once, Kara’s mouth becomes more urgent, more heated, both hands reaching up to cup Lena’s face, holding her in position.

Lena can barely breathe—breathing becomes secondary in importance to capturing Kara’s lips, over and over—and Lena takes and takes and takes all that Kara gives, hungry for it. She lets out a small gasp as Kara licks into her mouth, and can barely keep track of Kara’s hands exploring her body, forging a wandering yet purposeful path over the small of her back, the curve of her hip, her breast, her ass.

She’s vaguely aware of an ache at her thigh, which she tries to ignore, but it becomes more insistent and pressing, and she winces as she realises it’s Kara, hands digging into her flesh as she pulls her close. Lena breaks the kiss to gasp a reminder, and Kara blinks back at her with fearful eyes, hands pulling away sharply. Lena whimpers at the loss of contact and brings Kara’s hands back, placing them on her body, kissing Kara gently all over her face and neck as she pleads for her not to stop.

Slowly and carefully, Kara catches Lena’s mouth again. It’s much too careful for Lena’s liking, and this time she’s the one to urge for more, her hands finding their way into Kara’s hair, where her fingers tangle themselves into the blonde tresses. Gradually, Kara finds her confidence back, managing to keep her strength in check as her hands roam Lena’s body again.

It’s only when Kara’s fingertips skirt the waistband of her shorts, sparking a fresh wave of liquid heat coursing through Lena’s veins that congregates at her centre, that Lena thinks to stop, to slow down, to think for a minute.

“Wait,” Lena whispers, grasping a staying hand around Kara’s wrist. Kara stills, her eyes wide as her chest rises and falls with laboured breaths. “Wait, wait, wait,” Lena murmurs over and over, speaking as much as to herself as she is to Kara.

“I’m sorry,” Kara pants, swallowing. “Is this not okay?”

Lena shakes her head, lays her hands flat against Kara’s heaving chest. “Not like this. I want this—god, you have no idea how much,” she hisses, fists closing around the fabric of Kara’s shirt, “just—not like this. It’s not right.”

“You’re right. You’re right.” Kara lets out a long exhale, and Lena can feel her muscles contracting and releasing beside her. “I can go.” Kara makes a motion to move, but Lena just clutches tighter to her shirt.

“No, don’t. Stay. Please. Just…let’s just sleep. Okay?”

Kara eyes her closely for a moment, before she nods, easing back down on the bed. “Okay.”

Lena bites at her lip, tucks a strand of hair behind Kara’s ear. Kara’s skin burns against her fingertips as she slowly traces them across her cheekbones, down the side of her jaw.

“Lena,” Kara breathes, jaw tight.

“Hm?”

“You’re only making me want to kiss you again.”

Lena leaves her long fingers suspended at Kara’s jawline, eyes flitting down to her lips for just a moment before she drifts forward and meets them with her own. Kara sighs audibly against her mouth, and tips dumbly forward into the space created when Lena eases back, all too soon.

Lena presses a thumb to the centre of Kara’s lips, giving her a small, bittersweet smile before she slowly rolls over, settling her back against Kara’s front as strong arms tentatively find their way around her. She closes her eyes as she settles into the feeling of being held like this—something that she’s only imagined and even now it still feels like a dream. However, her dreams aren't tempered with this unique blend of confusion, lust, and guilt doing battle inside of her. 

“What a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into,” Lena murmurs quietly, absentmindedly tracing her fingers along Kara’s forearm.

“We’ve gotten our way out of worse, surely,” Kara says, brow slightly furrowed. “I can’t think of any right now, but…”

“We’ll talk tomorrow,” Lena decides with a sigh.

“Great,” Kara says, and Lena doesn’t miss the hint of sarcasm.

 

***

The tears come slowly at first, but once they start, they don’t stop. They sting at her eyes, burning as one tracks a path down her cheek.

“God damn sons of bitches,” Lena mutters under her breath.

She grabs a tea towel and dabs at her eyes, then returns to her cutting board where she hurriedly finishes chopping up the rest of the onions. She blinks her eyes of the remaining tears and swipes at her nose, slightly glad for the distraction from the residual throbbing ache of unresolved arousal between her legs that woke her up much earlier than the others.

It wasn’t the first time Lena had woken up to Kara Danvers’ sleeping face just inches from her own, but it certainly was the first time she’d woken up to Kara Danvers with her arm slung low across her hips, accompanied by the memories of kissing Kara Danvers flooding her brain the second she opened her eyes. Lena had touched a hand to her lips, the burn of Kara’s kiss still fresh upon them, and mentally backtracked over the night’s events.

Kara wanted her. They had kissed. They had kissed, and Kara wanted her.

Lena tips the onions into the frying pan, but their sizzling doesn’t relax her like they usually do. Ignoring that, she pulls a head of kale from the crisper and busies herself tearing the leaves from their stalks with considerably less finesse than usual. Soon, they join the onions in the pan along with some balsamic vinegar, and Lena sets about cracking eggs into a bowl.

“Crap,” she groans as some shell goes in. With a sigh, she fishes it out with her fingers and runs her hand under some water, realising with a small frown that she’s wearing the apron Mon El got for her as she dries her hand off on her front. She resumes whisking the eggs, seasons them, and tips the egg mixture into the pan. She watches absently as they bubble gently, and is so wrapped up in her thoughts she practically jumps out of her skin when Kara’s chin appears over her shoulder.

“Jesus, Kara,” she hisses, gripping her spatula tightly.

“Is that kale?” Kara asks, seemingly unperturbed (and, annoyingly, without a hangover).

“Yes.”

“Gross.”

“You don’t have to eat it.”

“But I’m hungry,” Kara pouts.

“Well, I’m hungover, and I want to eat my kale and goat’s cheese frittata, so that’s what I’m making. Take it or leave it,” Lena says, somewhat snappily.

“Ooh, goat’s cheese. I’m back on board.” Kara steps back with a grin, like she’s enjoying winding her up.

Lena sighs and turns around, leaning against the counter with her arms crossed. “How are you feeling?”

“Honestly?” Kara frowns a bit and glances down the hallway to where Mon El sleeps in Lena’s room. “Like an asshole.”

“Oh.” Lena stares down at her slippered feet, biting on the inside of her cheek. “Yes, so do I.”

“I don’t regret it though,” Kara adds quietly, and Lena looks up at her.

“Me either.”

“Does that make us even bigger assholes?”

“Probably.”

Kara’s eyes start to wander, down her neck and torso, but they freeze and widen when they come to her legs.

“Lena…was that—was that me?”

Lena glances down to her thigh, where a large, bruise spreads, angry and purple, and quickly shifts around so it’s blocked from view.

“It’s fine, really, it was an accident,” she insists, shaking her head. “Could you…could you get my dressing gown please?”

Kara zips into her room and is standing in front of her, holding the gown up for Lena to slip into. “Thank you,” she says as she wraps it around herself, and before she can do so, Kara reaches for the tie and slowly does up the knot.

“I’m sorry, Lena,” she says, looking down at her hands as she works. “I’ll get better at controlling myself—if that’s something you’d like, of course,” she amends quickly.

Lena swallows, the reality that Kara wants her even more difficult to believe in the clear light of day. But here she is, standing in front of her, and Lena almost reaches for her but the sound of her door opening and closing down the hallway stops her, and she turns away to the stove instead.

“Morning, you two,” Mon El yawns, stretching his arms over his head as he walks into the kitchen. “I don’t know about you, but I slept like a log. I hope my snoring didn’t keep you up.”

Lena busies herself over the frying pan while Kara gives a small shrug and strained smile.

“It wasn’t a problem,” Kara says.

Out of the corner of her eye, Lena sees Mon El slip his arms low around Kara’s waist and press a kiss to her cheek. Kara stiffens in his embrace, but does her best to smile and act normal anyway. It’s unconvincing.

“Kara, could you make us some coffee?” Lena asks quickly, and Kara twists out of Mon El’s hold, overly glad for something else to do.

Lena’s frittata isn’t as good as it usually is—too much salt, she silently reprimands herself—or maybe it’s the guilt manifesting in her mouth that spoils the taste. Whatever the reason, she doesn’t enjoy it.

“So, what are we going to do today?” Mon El asks, breaking the silence previously filled only by the clinking of forks against plates. “It’s been so long since we’ve all hung out together,” he says, looking between Kara and Lena with a small smile.

“Actually, Mon El…” Kara says slowly, poking at some remaining eggs on her plate. “Lena and I wanted to spend some time together. Alone.”

“Oh.” Mon El sets his fork down, eyes sliding between Lena and Kara as his brow inches up his forehead. “Is everything okay?”

Lena clenches her fist, fingernails digging into the flesh of her palms as she gives him a painted on smile. “Everything is fine,” she manages. “Just, you know…need some girl time,” she says lamely.

Mon El’s lip twitches and he gives Lena a long look before getting up from the counter. “If you say so. Okay, I’ll get out of your hair. I have some things to do anyway, I’m a very busy guy.”

Lena starts cleaning up while Mon El gets his things together. She hears him press a kiss to Kara’s forehead before making for the door.

“Call me if you need anything?” he asks.

Kara nods, promises to catch up with him later, and Lena stares down at the suds in the sink as the door opens and shuts behind him. Kara lets out a groan and drops her head down to the counter.

“I hate this,” she mumbles.

Lena sighs and dries her hand off, lightly touching Kara’s shoulder as she passes her. “Come on,” she says and leads Kara over to the couch. Lena sits at the opposite end of the couch, crossing her legs and grabbing onto a cushion, keeping a purposeful distance between them.

“Okay,” she says, drawing in a steadying breath. She imagines she’s in the conference room, about to arrange some complicated negotiation, but it doesn’t quite work, because this is Kara, and they’re negotiating feelings, not trade deals.

“A few ground rules. First off, no listening to my heartbeat. I didn’t like that—don’t do it again,” she says with a slight frown.

Kara hangs her head apologetically. “I’m sorry, it won't happen again.”

“Secondly, and this is goes for me too. No lying. Just pure, unadulterated honesty. Even if it hurts. Can we agree to that?”

Kara nods eagerly. “Rao, yes, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“Okay then. So, last night…you asked me to tell you what I want.”

“I did.”

“Well, Kara.” Lena rubs at her palm with her thumb, the weight of the words she’s wanted to say to Kara for so long pressing heavier on her chest now with the knowledge that it’s about to be cast off. “I want you. I’ve wanted you for a long time, I’m not sure how long, but long enough to know I’ve never wanted anything more in my life.”

Kara lets out a short laugh, equal parts relief and disbelief, as she runs a hand over her face, resting her chin upon it as she looks back at Lena.

“There it is,” she sighs, and Lena quirks an eyebrow, unimpressed by her somewhat amused tone. “Why didn’t you say anything?” she asks, more gently now.

Lena’s frown deepens. “Our friendship is everything to me. I didn’t want to risk ruining it by pushing for something more—something you didn’t want.”

Kara tilts her head to the side. “How are you so sure I didn’t want it?” she asks, then shakes her head. “I suppose I can’t blame you for not knowing what a strictly platonic friendship looks like, you really haven’t had that many friends—” Kara’s words are cut off by a cushion to the face deftly launched by a disgruntled Lena. “What?” Kara protests indignantly. “You said to be honest, even if it hurts.”

“I meant ourselves, not each other,” Lena grumbles as she shuffles ever so slightly closer to retrieve her cushion and hug it back to her chest.

Kara just shrugs with a small smile. “As I was saying. I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’ve always been the one chasing after you—you’re the one who kept leaving me alone with Mon El. It was weird, I thought you were trying to push us together so I’d back off or something. What was I supposed to think?”

Lena huffs defensively, cheeks flushing pink. “Would that be so wrong? You, and him, you’re alike, you should be good together. Logically, it just makes sense.”

“Why? Because we’re both aliens? I hate to say it, Lena, but that’s kind of offensive.”

Lena falters slightly, blinking as she’s called out, and quickly presses on with a shake of her head. “No, not because of that—I mean, I won’t deny it’s part of it, but. He lost his world, too. He knows your pain, you understand each other. Isn't that what you want?”

Kara sighs, settling back into the couch. She’s quiet for a moment before looking back up at Lena.

“It is what I want. I want to be understood. I’ll admit, for a moment I thought the same thing about him too, so I gave it a chance. But…what I’ve realised is that Mon El doesn’t understand me. Not like I would need him to. Sure, he’s lost his world like I did, but even in that respect he doesn’t understand me. He hated Daxam. I loved—love—Krypton, and I watched it burn. Even he doesn’t know what that’s like. I think…I think I have to accept that I’m going to be alone on that front, forever. Kal was too young to remember, Mon El didn’t love his planet like I did, and Earth isn’t going anywhere if Lena Luthor has anything to say about it,” she slips in a small twinkling smile at that. “I’m alone, and that’s okay, I promise you I can take it,” she insists upon seeing Lena’s face fall into a pained expression.

“But that’s not it,” Kara continues with a sigh. “Mon El…he doesn’t know what it’s like to really fight for something. And that’s not his fault, not really. As the prince, he had everything handed to him—literally—on a silver platter. And then he came here, and the sun gave him his powers, and you gave him everything: a place to live, food, clothes, a job. Don’t get me wrong, he’s trying and he’s doing great things, but it’s not the same. He hasn’t had to fight for what he has, not like I have, and certainly not like you have. You’ve fought every day to change the Luthor name from something evil into something good. Despite who you had as a mother, despite who you lost as a brother, you’re still here, still fighting, still making the world a better place. I admire you, Lena, I really do. I’m not sure if I say that enough.”

Lena bites her lip and shifts under Kara’s gaze, and it’s so sincere and full of adoration, she almost doesn’t know what to do with it. “Kara…you don’t have to say those things, I already told you I have feelings for you.”

Kara breathes a short laugh, shaking her head. “Why is it so hard for you to believe you deserve to be happy?” Her voice drops low, and it’s slightly teasing but not unkind. “Is it because you’re a Luthor?”

“What? No, I just—I never thought you would see me like that…” Lena balls her fists as the words she’s kept inside protest stubbornly on their way out. “I’m just me and you’re so—god, you’re everything, Kara. You’re a woman who can fly for goodness’ sake.”

Kara puts up her hands in a silencing gesture. “Stop right there. What do you mean, 'just you'? 'Just you' is incredible.  And don’t you dare put me on a pedestal like that; I get enough of it from Mon El and from the rest of the world. But you’re different, Lena. You see me. When I’m with you, I don’t feel like I have the weight of two worlds on my shoulders. I’m not Kara Zor-El, the last daughter of Krypton, and I’m not Supergirl, hero of Earth. I’m just—just Kara. And that’s enough for you.”

At some point during their conversation, they’d shifted closer together, their knees touching on the couch. Lena reaches her hand across the space to meet Kara’s in the middle, twining their fingers together.

“Kara…you’re so much more than enough.”

Kara squeezes her hand back as she gives her a small smile, the kind that pulls at the apples of her cheeks and makes Lena want to lay down her life for a woman who is literally bulletproof.

“I’d really like to kiss you now, Lena. Would that be okay?”

By way of responding, Lena balls the neck of Kara’s shirt in her fists and pulls her towards herself, catching her lips easily as they crash together, and it’s different now, in the clear light of day with the sun streaming through Lena’s window that seems to fill Kara with a glow that radiates from her to Lena, filling the darkest corners of herself with light.

“So are you sufficiently convinced that I want to be with you?” Kara hums against against her mouth.

“You might have to remind me again,” Lena murmurs, and Kara is more than happy to do so, her fingers winding their way into the hair at the base of her neck as she meets her lips once again. And Lena wants to give in to this, with absolutely everything she is, but something stops her, makes her pull back and place a staying hand flat on Kara’s chest, green eyes flicking up to meet blue.

“You need to talk to Mon El,” she sighs. “He really cares about you, it’s not fair on him if we just do…whatever it is we’re doing.”

Kara exhales fully, head dropping into the sensitive skin between Lena’s neck and shoulder. “I know. I care about him too, just…not in the same way. Not like this.”

Lena sighs, leaning back into the couch where she cards her fingers through Kara’s hair.

“I’m going back to my house for the rest of the weekend,” she says after a minute. “Take whatever time you need to figure things out with Mon El, or to figure things out with yourself if you need that too. But you know where to find me.”

“Okay,” Kara says, humming low in her throat as Lena scratches gently at her scalp. “Just…five more minutes.”

 

***

 

Lena is sipping a cup of tea, sitting on her balcony that overlooks her garden and the splintered oak tree two aliens put back together when Supergirl touches down on the ground next to her. When she does, she feels the knots loosen in her stomach, only somewhat, and she sets her mug down, drawing up to full height.

“Kara,” she breathes, and she can hear the shift in their relationship on the syllables of her name, like she’s saying it anew.

“Hey,” Kara says, and her voice is shaky as she folds her arms around herself.

“How did he take it?” Lena asks the question that’s been sitting on her chest ever since Kara left her apartment that morning.

Kara pushes a lungful of air past her lips. “It could have been better. Could have been worse too,” she answers cryptically. Seeing Lena’s questioning look, she answers more plainly, “he’s upset. But I think he understands. He just needs some space right now.”

Lena nods slowly, biting at the pad of her thumb. “Okay. That’s…that’s good, I suppose. As good as it can be. And what about you? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m okay. Telling a guy you don’t feel the same about him and that you’re actually falling for his best friend is never going to be the easiest conversation to have."

Lena settles into her hip, eyebrow raised. “You’re falling for me now?”

Kara gives her an unamused look. “Lena. Didn't your mother ever tell you it’s rude to ask questions you already know the answer to?”

“Yes, actually, among many other things,” Lena says with a slight frown. She softens when Kara moves to stand in front of her, her hands reaching down for her own, and Lena looks up at her and she’s smiling—until she’s not. “What? What is it?” she asks as the furrow in Kara’s brow deepens.

“Do you hear that?”

Lena freezes for a moment, but all she can hear is the breeze rustling through the trees in the yard. “No, but I don’t have super hearing, remember.”

“It’s coming from inside.”

Lena follows behind as Kara tugs her inside, down the stairs until they reach the door to Lena’s basement, and now she can hear it: an ongoing, insistent beeping, and Lena’s eyes fly wide open and she lets out a gasp.

“It can’t be,” she whispers. She pushes past Kara and flies down the steps, nearly tripping down in her haste, skidding to a halt at the bottom, where she sees the navigational system from Mon El’s space pod, lighting up like a Christmas tree.

Chapter Text

The beeping doesn’t stop until Lena huddles around her computer and silences the alarm as her fingers fly over the keys.

“What is it? What’s going on?” Kara asks, standing at her back as she peers over her shoulder.

“It’s the message we sent out. Someone…someone’s responding,” Lena answers through a tight jaw, her eyes flicking over the monitor.

“The Daxamites,” Kara says with a frown. “They escaped?”

“Maybe. Or it could be anyone else in the galaxy, but at this rate we’ll never know, because the signal isn’t strong enough,” Lena groans in exasperation. “I’m trying to piggyback the signal off of L-Corp’s satellite network, but we need something more powerful. Right now, I’m just a lady and a laptop.”

Lena angles her chin over her shoulder where she finds Kara is giving her an amused look.

“I love it when you talk nerdy to me.”

Lena’s lips twitch into a smile before she gives her head a quick shake. “Not now, Kara,” she says firmly.

“Right,” Kara coughs, all business. “So you’re saying we need something to boost the signal.”

“Yes, and fast. We have no way of knowing how long they’re going to be trying to get through on the other side, or how long the connection will hold up.”

Kara folds her arms, finger poised thoughtfully at her chin. “The DEO should have access to that sort of tech.” A wry grin spreads Kara’s lips, her eyebrow lifting delightfully skywards. “And you say we have to get there fast?”

Lena straightens and juts out her bottom lip as she shakes her head vehemently, because she knows exactly what that look means.

“No. No, no, no. Oh no, Kara. No.”

Kara’s smirk only widens.

“Yes, Lena. Oh, yes.”

 

 

Lena’s stomach lurches when they depart solid ground and the cool night air hits her face like a wall of ice, buffeting her hair and making her think woefully to the hair tie currently sitting uselessly on her bedside table. Kara’s cackling laugh reverberates around her once the sound of her own scream has been pushed back down her throat by the sheer force of Kara breaking gravity’s ever tenuous hold.

Lena clenches her fists tightly around the lapels of Kara’s cape, holding on for dear life. Kara squeezes the arms she has wrapped around her person demonstratively, tipping her head down so her breath ghosts the shell of her ear.

“Don’t worry, Lena. I’ve got you,” she says gently, and it helps a little, but not a whole lot.

Lena eventually adjusts to the feeling enough to let go with one hand and wriggle her phone out from the pocket of her jeans.

“I’m calling Mon El,” she explains as she taps his name and cradles the phone to her ear. She’s not sure if he’ll pick up—honestly, she wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t after everything—

“Lena? Now isn’t really a good time. I kind of wanted to be alone.” He pauses a beat. “Are you in trouble?”

“Mon El!” Lena gasps, her own voice battling against the force of the wind. “It’s Daxam! The distress call, the signal—someone’s answering!”

“That’s…that’s not possible. You said everything was destroyed.”

“Maybe we were wrong—we don’t know. Mon El, please, get down to the DEO and we’ll find out what’s going on—” Lena lets out a sharp squeak and digs her nails into the skin of Kara’s neck as Kara makes a much-too-sharp turn in the air. Kara gives a small grunt and scrunches up her nose—mostly in surprise rather than pain.

“Lena? Are you flying?” Mon El’s voice crackles on the other end.

“Regrettably, yes,” Lena answers tersely. “That’s how you know I’m serious.”

There’s silence on the other end, and Lena briefly checks her phone screen to see if the call has been disconnected.

“I’ll see you there,” Mon El finally says, and Lena sighs as she stuffs her phone back in her pocket. At least that’s one less thing to worry about.

Her stomach swoops uncomfortably again as Kara surges upwards and then suddenly drops in altitude—and the shit eating grin plastered all over her face gives Lena the distinct feeling it wasn’t exactly a necessary manoeuvre.

“Kara, I’m tying really hard not to throw up all over your suit right now. Will you cut it out?” she mutters through grit teeth.

“This is the greatest day of my life,” Kara reports gleefully.

Lena groans, burrowing her head as deep as she can into Kara’s shoulder. “Tell me when it’s over.”

 

Mon El is standing at the bridge when they arrive—thankfully, Kara makes the landing as smooth as she can, touching down feather-light on the DEO balcony. He’s looking at them over his shoulder when they land, but Lena catches him quickly looking away as she slips out of Kara’s arms, eyes focused straight ahead on the monitors that aren’t displaying anything particularly relevant.

Lena makes a beeline for Winn and his computer station, Kara in tow as she carries the heavy bag containing the beacon and signal transmitter from Lena’s house.

“What do you need?” Winn asks as Kara thunks the bag down on the desk, and Lena immediately sets about hooking the beacon up to Winn’s computer.

“Everything you’ve got,” Lena answers, her mouth set in a determined line as Winn grins back at her. The pair hunch over the beacon and computers, working together until the crackling sound from the transmitter becomes clearer and clearer until suddenly—

“Come in, come in. Is anybody out there? Prince Mon El? Are you alive? Please be alive.”

The voice cuts in over a large amount of static. It’s female, and it’s scared. Mon El lurches over right where Lena is standing, hands making indentations in the desk as he grips on tight and bends over the microphone.

Kara only just manages to pull Lena out of the way before Mon El comes barrelling forwards, holding her close to her chest as she eyes Mon El over the top of her head with a wary frown. Lena subconsciously curls her fingers into the material of Kara’s cape.

“Hello?” Mon El responds urgently. “This is Prince Mon El of Daxam, do you read me?”

“Mon El? Mon El!”

Mon El’s face lights up with recognition, his shoulders tightly coiled.  “Damara? Is that you?”

“It’s me! You’re alive!”

Mon El’s face breaks out into a grin and he casts a look over his shoulder. “It’s my cousin—she survived!” He frowns slightly, thinking to himself. “She survived?” He returns back to the microphone, and Lena watches as he swallows thickly. “You survived? How many of you? Where are you?”

Lena eases herself out of Kara’s hold, giving her a small nod to assure she’s okay, and slips into the seat next to where Mon El stands. She checks the connection, which is tenuous, but holding for now. Really, she takes a moment to study Mon El. His hand grips onto the desk still and she can see the way he aches to stretch across the universe to reach this disembodied voice he seems to know. She sees it in the flex of his forearm, the tension in his jaw, the yearning in his eyes.

Her gaze flicks over his shoulder to Kara, who stands back, arms crossed over her chest, her face set in the stoic Supergirl mask she has cultivated so well over the years. But it’s cracked. And through the cracks, Lena can see the girl who lost everything she ever knew in an instant, the girl who makes a daily choice between hope and anger, and chooses hope every time. Some days, she knows, that choice is more difficult to make, and it looks like today might be one of those days.

From Mon El’s conversation with Damara, they learn that the Daxamites who managed to escape are stranded in space, floating adrift on a ship that wasn’t exactly built for long term space travel.

“We rarely travelled too far from Daxam,” Mon El explains. “‘Why go anywhere else when we have everything we need right here?’ as my mother would say,” he remarks dryly with a shake of his head.

“Some would say you were closed-minded,” Kara contributes, less than helpfully, and Mon El shoots her a dark frown.

“Anyway…aside from partying and great food, Daxam was known for its transmatter technology. We didn’t use ships to get from place to place, we set up warp points on planets we frequented for trade and vacations, and the like.”

 

“Like Slaver’s Moon?” Kara asks, eyebrow arched as Mon El puffs out a breath and flicks his eyes at her. They hold each other’s gaze for a long moment, so much hanging in thickly the air between them Lena can feel it, until Kara huffs and breaks from eye contact. “If I remember correctly, the Daxamites weren’t too eager to share their technology,” she mutters.

“So you Kryptonians could have a direct link to Daxam any time you wanted? I don’t think so,” Mon El scoffs.

“Guys,” Lena interjects firmly, before they can start bickering again like they used to when they first met. Kara pushes a lungful of air past her lips, her squared shoulders softening in resignation under Lena’s pointed look, and instead becomes intensely busy with fiddling at a nonexistent thread from her suit.

Lena spins in her chair, fingers clasped at her chin as she glances up at Mon El. “So explain to me how this worked. Your transmatter technology,” she prompts.

Mon El grimaces, scrubbing at the back of his neck. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t really get too caught up in how it worked. You just chose a warp point, pressed a button on your space ship, and…poof,” he says lamely through a forced grin.

Kara can’t seem to resist rolling her eyes, muttering ‘poof’ bitterly under her breath.

Lena ignores it, catching the pad of her thumb between her teeth as she thinks for a moment. “So basically you needed a warp-technology enabled ship and a portal to make it work. Correct?”

“Right.”

Lena curls her fingers into her fist, looks fiercely up at Mon El. “What if I could build one? A portal. Here on Earth.”

Mon El blinks back at her. “You could do that?”

“Perhaps. I’m assuming the Daxamite ship has some sort of schematics of the technology on board. If I could access those, I could mimic the design and make one here. With some help, of course.”

Winn piques up from behind Lena’s chair. “Oh, pick me! I’m help,” he says with a grin.

Lena stands, places a hand on Mon El’s forearm. “I can help you. Let me do this. I owe you that much,” she says quietly, eyes flicking over to Kara for a moment before locking back onto the grim expression Mon El wears.

“Lena, you don’t owe me—”

“I do,” Lena interjects, firm as she looks up at him.

He nods slowly after a moment. “I want your help, Lena. But not because you think you owe me.” He pulls his gaze away before Lena can say anything else and returns to the microphone.

 

Winn is able to set up a data transfer channel between the ship and the DEO and it’s not long before Lena has the schematics to some of the most fascinating technology she could even conceive of right there in front of her.

Staring up at the monitor in the DEO office she has claimed for her work, Lena can’t help but think it’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen: concepts and ideas that are decades, centuries, ahead of where science is on Earth. A small voice in the back of her mind tells her this could be the solution to all the world’s ills, should she unlock its secrets: climate change, famine, the list goes on. But, frustratingly, she finds half of the words and numbers in front of her don’t make any sense: there are terms she’s never even heard of, and they seem to use a completely unfamiliar unit of measurement in the calculations that she can’t get her head around.

After several hours of fruitless labour, the only results of which being a throbbing headache just at Lena’s temples and a painful crick in her neck, Kara walks in with coffee and donuts in hand.

“My hero,” Lena murmurs as she takes a long sip without looking up from her papers, and of course it’s exactly the way she likes it.

Kara’s lips twitch up at the corners before she settles into a chair beside Lena, spinning a little back and forth as her eyes gloss over the organised chaos that is Lena’s workstation. She’s changed back into her civilian clothes, a grey sweater over a white collared shirt, her hair pinned back ornately in that way that makes Lena want to spend a good fifteen minutes taking out every bobby pin before running her fingers through those blonde tresses.

“Having fun?” Kara asks.

Lena sighs wearily and rubs at her sore neck with a grimace. Kara notices her discomfort and hops up to stand behind her, wordlessly sweeping Lena’s hair over one shoulder.

“Oh Kara, you don’t have to—” Lena begins to say, but is cut off by the guttural groan that slips out as soon as Kara’s hands are on her, strong thumbs pressing on her tight muscles with just the right amount of force.

“You were saying?” Kara asks, voice low and soft as it floats down from above her.

“Don’t you dare stop, Kara Zor-El,” she breathes, neck arching into the sensation. “Just a little to the left—there. Right there,” Lena moans and hisses slightly as Kara hits a tender spot, and Kara is chuckling at her but she doesn’t even care.

“How’s the science going?” Kara asks while she kneads, and Lena huffs as she’s reminded of her current frustrations.

“It’s much more complicated than I anticipated. I thought numbers were supposed to be a universal language, but turns out that doesn’t apply across planets. I can’t make head or tail of this, Kara,” she admits glumly.

“Let me see?” Kara cranes her neck over Lena’s shoulder at the pages in front of her. “Oh! I recognise this stuff. I…I haven’t seen these figures in a very long time,” she says, a quiet wonder and sorrow colouring her voice.

“You know all this stuff?”

“Well—sort of. I can convert things into Earth terms for you, but interpreting what they mean—that’ll have to be left to you. I was only twelve when I was sent away, but my father was a scientist, so yeah, I picked up a few things that might help,” she says with a nonchalant shrug that just makes Lena’s eyes bulge.

“Sit your ass down,” Lena commands firmly. “You’re in serious trouble for keeping your apparently genius brain a secret, but we’ll get to that later.”

Kara’s eyebrow quirks slyly. “Trouble, huh?”

Lena holds a pencil out to her. “Get converting.”

They work in silence, but Kara is thinking so loud, Lena can barely concentrate. Her brows are cinched tightly together, her grinding teeth are almost audible, and she’s broken three pencils in half already. It is, quite frankly, very distracting, and it’s painfully clear that something is bothering her.

When Kara slides over a piece of paper with more converted figures, Lena catches her hand on its path, and Kara tilts her head to her, eyebrows peaked in a question.

“You’re sulking,” Lena observes plainly, and Kara scrunches up her nose.

“Am not.”

“You’re brooding then,” Lena amends, and this time Kara tips her head in reluctant acquiescence with a one-shouldered shrug. “Why?”

Kara huffs out a breath through her nostrils, brows pulling together as she folds her arms across her chest, fingers drumming rapidly on her bicep.

“I should be better than this,” she says after a quiet moment.

Lena’s reaches out a hesitant hand to tuck a strand of loose blonde hair behind Kara’s ear. Then, she allows herself to let it linger there, thumbing the apple of her cheek while her fingers nestle into the hair at the base of her neck. Her pulse quickens in response to this new way of touching, something she never imagined she’d be able to have with Kara—but here she is, anyway.

Kara softens somewhat in response to her touch, eyes drifting shut as some of the tension departs her forehead and shoulders, and Lena finds herself pleased that it seems she can have this effect on her.

“What do you mean?” she probes further.

Kara lifts her lids open to slide her gaze over to Lena’s, and Lena is struck by the way her eyes are darker than she remembers them. “I’m…” she says, lips twisting as she searches for the right words, “I’m jealous.”

Lena frowns, cocks her head. “Jealous?”

Kara nods once. Lena arches an eyebrow, clearly wanting her to elaborate, and Kara resigns under it.

“I’m jealous that Mon El might be with his people again. There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they survived—of course I am—but,” she sucks in a breath and says in a small voice, “I never got that chance, and I’m…I’m jealous of him.” Kara casts her eyes downwards as she taps her pencil against the desk.

“It’s not just that,” she continues. “I guess, being alone was what bonded us together. It was what helped me see him as more than just a Daxamite—I saw him as Mon El. Not the Prince, not the fratboy of the Universe. Just Mon El—my friend. If he’s not alone too, what does that make him? What does that make me?”

Lena gives Kara a long look, swallowing thickly.

“Kara…it hurts me when you talk like that. When you say you’re alone,” she says quietly. “Can’t you see that you’re surrounded by people who love you? Your family, your friends…me? I know you’ve lost so much, and nothing you find here will take that loss away from you—I know that. But you’re not as alone as you think. I wish you would just see it.”

Kara frowns down at the desk, looking like she might shoot lasers at it at any moment until she finally whispers, “I’m sorry, Lena.”

“It’s fine. I mean, it’s not. Not really,” Lena gives a small shrug. “But…let’s just concentrate on the portal. Explain to me how polyatomic anions work in Kryptonian terms.”

 

**

 

She doesn’t mean to snap at Kara like that, she really doesn’t.

Over something so silly too, she was just asking if she’d had dinner (the answer, of course, is no), and Lena just bit back, words like barbs hurled at the person she cares about most in this world. The hurt look that flashes across Kara’s face is quickly reassembled into one of resolute steadfastness, but Lena sees it, and instantly regrets her tone. Her chest clenches, fully expecting Kara to take off straight back out the window.

But, Kara stays. She always stays.

“You need sleep,” Kara states, folding her arms over her chest.

Lena sighs wearily, pinching at the bridge of her nose. “No, Kara. I need to work. It’s been a week and the Daxamites are still out there, and Mon El is counting on me, and I’m so close to cracking this. I need to make this work.”

Kara doesn’t budge, and Lena can feel her eyes tracing over her with clinical attention. Kara has never needed x-ray vision to see exactly what Lena is feeling and what she needs.

“You’re slouching, you haven’t bothered to put your contacts in, your fingernails are chewed to the quick, and—” Kara rounds her desk, giving Lena’s work a quick scan, “—you forgot to carry the two there,” she observes, jabbing a finger to the offending miscalculation.

“What?” Lena gasps, hurriedly checks over her work, and releases a groan when she finds Kara is right. “Shoot.”

“Yeah.”

Kara spins Lena’s chair gently to face her and drops down to her knees, nudging herself between her legs where she lays her hands flat on her thighs. Lena feels herself sag as soon as Kara’s hands are on her, the facade she’s been uselessly expending energy to maintain instantly crumbling. She sinks forwards, placing her hands on the tops of Kara’s shoulders, thumbs skating up and down the columns of Kara’s neck.

“Hey,” she sighs, and finally allows her voice to betray her complete and utter exhaustion.

“Hey yourself,” Kara breathes back, looking up at her with warmth in her eyes that washes over Lena like a salve. She lets out a small giggle, squirming a little away from Lena’s thumbs. “That tickles.”

Lena quirks an eyebrow, and she shifts her hands to bury her fingers in Kara’s hair instead. “Kara Danvers, ticklish? That’s very interesting,” she muses, files that little piece of information away. A yawn takes her over and she drops her head down to rest on top of Kara’s, sighing as Kara’s hands slide up to her hips. “I need sleep,” she finally admits, resigned.

“Let me take you home.”

Lena thinks about protesting like she usually would, but her body fights her, so she just nods slowly against Kara’s head. Kara chuckles and leans back, looking up at her with a bright smile.

“What? No protesting about how you’ll mess up your hair?”

Lena narrows her eyes dangerously.  “Just take me home, Supergirl.”

 

Kara flies blissfully smoothly, arms wrapped securely around Lena, her body heat keeping her warm as they drift across the night sky. Lena tucks her head into Kara’s shoulder for the duration of the flight, almost falling asleep when Kara brings her lips down to her ear.

“Think you could get used to this?” She asks.

“In your dreams,” Lena answers, presses a kiss to Kara’s cheek.

“Worth a try,” Kara chuckles, and soon enough they alight down on Lena’s balcony.

Lena manages to shower and change into her pyjamas before tumbling face first into the mountain of pillows she calls a bed, Kara chuckling softly as she sits down next to her. Lena angles her head to peak over at her out of one eye, and notices she’s helped herself to a pair of pyjama pants and a t-shirt.

“Bit presumptuous, don't you think?” she asks, a teasing lilt in her voice.

Kara cocks an eyebrow, makes as if she intends to leave. “I didn’t mean to presume you’d want me to stay, I can go if you want to be alone.”

Lena can’t help the soft laugh that bubbles out as she hurriedly reaches out for Kara’s wrist and tugs her downwards. She doesn’t move initially, so Lena tugs again, more insistently, until Kara gets it and allows herself to be pulled down beside her, laying on her back as Lena shuffles in close.

Lena glances up at her briefly, displaying the slightest hesitation, which Kara picks up on and rearranges herself so her arm is around Lena, pulling her in to her side. Lena sighs and lays her head down on Kara’s shoulder, shifting into this closeness that is still new to them before she settles into the feeling and lays her arm across Kara’s middle.

“I like that you presumed,” she admits quietly, and Kara responds with a pleased sounding hum.

Lena feels Kara’s fingers begin to thread through her hair, gently pulling through tangles that are the product of a few days’ worth of messy buns haphazardly tossed up on top of her head. She sighs into the feeling, allows it to become everything she is concerned with.

It takes her a moment to realise Kara has said something, the vibrations of her chest against her cheek alerting her to this rather than the sound of her voice itself.

“Hm? What was that?” Lena tips her head up to see Kara glancing back inquisitively.

““I asked about Mon El. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? You feel guilty about what happened with us and him, and now you’re killing yourself to get this to work.”

Lena shifts her head back down, and busies her hand with fiddling with the material of Kara’s shirt, balling it up and releasing it repeatedly.

“I want him to be with his people again. I want him to be happy,” she says tightly. Kara is quiet, and Lena can sense she’s expecting more and won’t talk until she gives her what she’s waiting for. “And I feel guilty,” she admits with a sigh. “I know you two were never anything official, but I knew how he felt about you, Kara. I knew how much he cared about you, and he trusted me enough to tell me. And then I just…” she trails off, brow furrowing as the words elude her.

“Did what your heart was telling you to do?” Kara supplies, and it’s not exactly what Lena was thinking, but that doesn’t make it less true.

“Yes, perhaps, and completely ignoring his feelings in the process.” she huffs out a breath. “I wouldn’t blame him if he doesn’t forgive me. But getting this work, bringing him back together with his people—that’s something I can do. That’s a broken thing I can fix.”

“Have you tried talking to him?” Kara asks, and Lena scoffs.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course not.”

“Lena,” Kara says, her tone just this side of chastising. “Not talking about how you feel is how we got into this mess in the first place.”

Lena releases the material of Kara’s shirt slowly, catching the flesh of her cheek between her teeth. “You’re right,” she resigns. “I’ll…I’ll talk to him.”

“Good. I know how much he means to you.”

Lena makes a humming sound and allows her hand to find Kara’s which rests on her stomach, and she distracts herself with running her fingertips over it, this hand with astounding strength that still manages to reserve only the gentlest of touches for her.

Lena wonders how difficult it must be for Kara to keep her strength in check, how she doesn’t go through the world accidentally breaking fragile things. She’s seen Kara slip before, when she’s angry, or upset, or frustrated, or even excited—the victims being stationery, cutlery, the odd table or chair, and Kara has gone through more phones than anyone she knows.

“I wish I wasn’t so fragile,” she finds herself saying. “You wouldn’t have had to worry about accidentally breaking or hurting Mon El.”

“Lena…don’t.”

“Sorry. It’s true though, isn’t it?”

Kara sighs and when Lena tips her head to look up at her, she’s staring straight up at the ceiling, tension clear in her jaw.

“It doesn’t matter. We can figure out how this is going to work together. You’re who I want to be with, Lena. Just you. Okay?”

Lena shifts onto her stomach, clasping her hands beneath her chin on Kara’s chest as she meets Kara’s eyes, finds them burning with sincerity and the desire to make her believe, and she does. She nods once. “Okay.”

Kara’s mouth lifts into a small smile and her arms slide around Lena’s waist, making Lena’s stomach swoop  as she’s pressed flush against her body.

“I thought about what you said—about not being alone as I think. And I think…right here, with you, I’m not alone. I don’t feel like a complete alien. I’m just Kara, and you’re with me, and you know me, and I’m not alone.”

Lena’s heart flutters in her chest, a faint blush dusting her cheeks as she lightly traces her fingertips over Kara’s features, smiling slightly when Kara presses a kiss to her thumb as it skates across her lips.

“We can just be us now, if you’d like,” she proposes softly. “No Daxamites, no Kryptonians, no spaceships, no crazy portals. Just Kara and Lena. Just for now.”

Kara smiles broadly and nods. “I’d like that very much.”

Kara tightens her embrace ever so slightly, shifting her up easily towards her, and Lena is smiling even before their lips are pressed together.

And they are all there is, at least, just for now.

Chapter Text

Mon El looks surprised to see Lena on his doorstep, which makes sense. It is, after all, past ten o’clock at night, but Lena hasn’t been keeping anything close to regular person hours, and it was somewhere between her fourth and fifth espresso of the night and a text message from Kara that she had allowed her promise to talk to Mon El to consume her and compel her to action.

So, here she is, standing in Mon El’s doorway, fiddling at the straps of her bag while Mon El blinks back at her in confusion.

“Hey,” she manages, eyes flitting around before she forces herself to look straight at him.

And then, he does something unexpected—he pulls her into a hug, smiling broadly on the word “Lena!”

Lena stiffens at the sudden contact, breath hitched in her throat, because this is not the reaction she had been expecting. She had fully worked herself up to ply him, to treat him gingerly, to brace herself for a cold shoulder at least, but here he is, hugging her with such warmth like she is the one who’d had her heart broken, reminding her yet again that he is her family, but he is nothing like Lex.

A strangled laugh gurgles past Lena’s lips and she allows herself to sink into his embrace, arms hinging upwards at the elbows to grip onto his shoulders at a somewhat awkward angle, but she doesn’t care. She buries her head into his shoulder, fingers curling into the fabric of his sweater. Feels herself being lifted off the ground slightly before she’s set back down and steps back. She feels the hot flush that surely blotches her cheeks and sniffs her nose quickly.

“Sorry,” Mon El says hurriedly, scratching at the back of his neck. “I know I should have asked but I just—I missed you.”

Lena shakes her head vigorously. “It’s more than okay, Mon El. I…I wasn’t expecting it, is all.” She huffs out a breath, smoothes down her blouse before looking back up at him. “Can I come in?”

“Of course.” He steps aside and Lena passes him into the apartment, which is now considerably more furnished. It’s simple, and tidy, which comes as a bit of a surprise to Lena. While they were living together, she’d gotten somewhat annoyed at him on more than a few occasions for leaving his things wherever he happened to set them down only to promptly forget about them.

“I like what you’ve done with the place,” she comments, looking around as she sets her handbag down on the kitchen counter. “It’s very…clean. I’d been expecting more of a pigsty, if I’m honest,” she teases, and Mon El shrugs, tucking his hands beneath his arms.

“Cleaning keeps me busy. I can’t do much at the moment besides sit around and wait, so.” He purses his lips together, and Lena can tell he’s not trying to sound too hopeful, but it doesn’t work very well. “How is it going? Are you getting anywhere with the portal?”

Lena gives him what she hopes is a reassuring smile, places a hand on his forearm. “We’ll get there. Winn and I won’t give up until we get it, I promise.” She says firmly. Doesn’t mention the fact that all the simulations they’ve been running end up in a critical overload at best, and at worst, a nuclear explosion. The algorithm is flawed at a base level, and Lena is afraid she is going to have to start all over again—but that’s not what she is here for.

Mon El gives her small but kind smile, laying his hand over hers. “I know you will. Just—make sure you’re looking after yourself, okay? You look…” his eyes rake over her person—her messy bun, her un-made face, her skewed glasses over her tired eyes— “you’ve looked better,” he states plainly.

“Thanks,” Lena returns dryly, tucking a loose wisp of hair behind her ear.

“So,” Mon El breaks the somewhat awkward silence that had settled around them, “you’ve finally decided to stop avoiding me?”

Lena balks, clears her throat. “Avoiding you? I wasn’t—me? That’s not—” she stammers evasively, but Mon El just raises an eyebrow and she sighs, slumping in resignation. “Okay. Maybe I’ve been avoiding you just the tiniest bit. Maybe the Daxamite portal has provided the perfect distraction. Maybe I feel terrible about everything that happened and…can we talk? Can we just talk?”

Mon El leans back on the counter, a somewhat amused expression playing on his face at Lena’s rambling. “Please. Take a seat, before you hurt yourself.”

Lena huffs out a lungful of air, and Mon El bumps her lightly as he leads her to the couch, offering her one end of a red throw blanket, which Lena accepts and pulls over her lap, tucking the edges in under her.

“So,” Mon El says as he settles himself under the other half of the blanket. “You and Kara, huh?”

“Yes,” Lena affirms with a formal sort of nod. “Me and Kara. Or, Kara and I, I should say,” she amends, and she is powerless against the stupid smile that pulls her lips higher on her cheeks at the way it sounds to hear someone else putting her and Kara’s names together like they mean something important.

The sound of Mon El chuckling has Lena snapping her eyes up from the blanket.

“Rao, Lena. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before. Look at you, you’re practically radiating. I suppose I was blinded by my own Kara-vision, wasn't I?” he muses.

Lena breathes a short, pained laugh. “She does have that effect on people, I suppose.”

“And us lowly peasants are simply powerless to resist,” he says theatrically, and his levity encourages a genuine laugh from Lena, her shoulders loosening as she reaches out to put her hands on top of his, and his fingers close around her own.

“Mon El…” she begins, her voice sombre, and his smile slips into a more serious expression to match it. “I’m sorry for taking Kara away like I did. I knew how you felt and I just…it just happened. I can’t help how I feel. I tried to ignore my heart, believe me, I really did. Honestly, I had signed myself up for a life of pining, and that would have been just fine, I would have been happy for you—”

“Lena, Lena, Lena,” Mon El says hurriedly, breaking Lena’s rant by shifting closer and holding more tightly onto her hands. “Stop. Just stop.”  Lena swallows, forcing herself to take a few breaths before she meets his eyes.

“See, I’ve been thinking,” he says, “and I think that’s what upset me most about this whole thing. The fact that you let me believe that everything was fine while you were hurting so deeply inside. I felt like I was this self-centred jackass because I should have known better and seen my friend was upset and that the girl I wanted to be with, well, she wanted to be with someone else. That’s the kind of person I was on Daxam, and that’s exactly who I don’t want to be on earth.”

“You’re not a self-centred jackass,” Lena insists hurriedly. “You were only following your heart, and I’m just too good at hiding my feelings. Or maybe I’m not good enough at it, if you want to look at it that way,” she adds with a slight frown that has Mon El shaking his head.

“I’m not mad at you for falling for Kara,” he says. He gently draws his hands back, clasping them behind his head as he fixes Lena with a look. “I am mad at you though.”

“Oh?” Lena asks, eyebrows arching towards her hairline.

“Yeah, you heard me right. I’m mad at the fact that you were so ready to give up on something that would make you happy,” he says, and he is gentle in his accusation and pokes lightly at Lena’s ribs, making her squirm a bit. “I mean, seriously Lena? Ever since I got here, you’ve encouraged me to fight for the things I want. You’ve told me that every day, I can choose to do things that will bring me closer to being the person I want to be and to having the life I want to have. Why don’t those lessons apply to you, hm? Why aren’t you allowed to want things? Why aren’t you allowed to fight for those things?”

Lena stares down at the blanket, playing with a loose thread. Her thoughts immediately turn to Lex, as they often do, to him flinging his arm around her shoulders on her graduation day, telling her she could have everything she’s ever wanted, and she’s going to do great things for the Luthor name. She’d smiled and believed him, completely oblivious to the dirt and blood she’d spend most of her adult life trying to expunge from the very same name she had once wanted to elevate.

“The only person who has ever told me I should fight for what I want, went insane and is now in prison. I can’t—I won’t be like that,” she says tightly, balling the blanket up in her fingers.

Mon El sighs and takes her hands in his, gently easing the blanket from her grip. “Don’t look to Lex for permission, or to anyone else for that matter,” he says. “The only person who can give you permission to be happy, is yourself.”

Heat prickles behind Lena’s eyes and she quickly rubs at them to plug the impending leak. “Gosh, Mon El, have you been mainlining Oprah or something?” she jokes weakly.

Mon El chuckles and shifts closer to her, easily drawing her under his arm. “Oprah Winfrey is a visionary of earth’s people. Also I don’t know how to change the channel on my TV, please help me.” A wet laugh bubbles past Lena’s lips at that, and she sighs into his shoulder, curling her knees up towards her chest.

“I know she wouldn’t have been happy with me,” Mon El says quietly, his voice more serious now. “I may have had my Kara goggles on, but I’m not blind. I’ve seen the way she looks at you. Like I only wish she would have looked at me.”

“Mon El…”

“It’s okay, Lena. I have my people to think about now,” Mon El presses on. “When they get here, they’ll need someone to lead them. They’ll need their prince.”

“I thought you didn’t want to be the prince.”

Mon El shrugs. “I didn’t. But some things are bigger than ourselves. Watching Kara be a hero and fighting alongside her taught me that. Watching how you run L-Corp and how you care so deeply about people, even me, an alien who tried to kill you upon first meeting you, taught me that too.”

“Well look at you,” Lena hums, a small smile on her face. “All ready to take responsibility.”

Mon El barks a short laugh. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.” He sighs and squeezes Lena close to him. “I just want us to be friends again, okay? All of us. I need you, and Kara both, and I like to think you need me too. In a way, we balance out each other’s particular breed of crazy.”

Lena chuckles for a moment, then it tapers off and her eyes go wide. “What did you just say?”

“That we’re all crazy?”

“No, no,” Lena says, straightening up from him as she shakes her head vigorously, her mind running at lightening speed. “Balance…that’s it. Mon El, you’re a genius!” She exclaims, grabs Mon El’s face and presses a kiss to his cheek before she stands abruptly.

“Uh, thanks? Lena, what’s going on?”

“I can’t believe I didn’t see this myself,” Lena says, shaking her head as she strides over to pick up her bag and begins pacing back and forth. “All this time, I was so focused on giving the portal more power, but of course it was overloading, I just needed to increase the anion input without overloading the energy output, all while maintaining the element’s synthesis rate as a constant. Balance, not power!” She speaks hurriedly, the excitement bubbling in her chest almost causing her to trip over her words, and meets Mon El’s bewildered look with a broad grin.

“Um…yay science?” Mon El says with a weak grin, and Lena just laughs.

“I have to go. Thank you, Mon El. You’ll be with your people again soon. I…” she falters slightly, twists at the strap of her bag. “I’m glad I haven’t lost you.”

Mon El shakes his head, an amused smile on his lips. “Oh, Lena. You’re going to have to try a lot harder than that to get rid of me.”

 

 

**

 

“Lena, you’re a genius.”

Winn grins at Lena over his shoulder while she watches the monitor intently, waiting for the seemingly inevitable critical error message…but it doesn’t come. Instead, the simulation with Lena’s revised algorithm indicates that the impossible is now possible: the key to trans-matter technology has been unlocked.

“It’s going to work,” she breathes, equal parts awe struck and exhausted from endless nights at work.

Winn beams and spins around in his chair. “Hell yeah it is! Now we just have to build the thing,” he announces happily. “Hey, if you could teleport anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?” he asks, his voice dipping in and out as he completes a few dizzying revolutions.

Lena smiles quietly to herself, clutching her tablet close to her as a new sense of relief uncurls in her chest. If she could teleport anywhere right now, it would be to her own bed, completely wrapped up in Kara Danvers, where she could touch her face and feel her arms wrapped around her while they passed lazy, long overdue kisses back and forth, with little regard to the world outside, if only for one night.

And while Lena can’t teleport, Kara can definitely fly, which is pretty much the next best thing.

 

**

 

Lena strides purposefully down the halls of the DEO, eyes fixed firmly on her tablet, when she is stopped in her tracks by something very tall, and very solid. She lets out a small surprised squeak and finds herself face-to-face with Alex Danvers, who looks down a straight-line nose at her with critical brown eyes.

“A-agent Danvers!” Lena stammers, then clears her throat as she recovers from her shock and reassembles herself into what she hopes is stoic composure.

The corner of Alex’s lips twitch upwards into an amused smirk. “Lena, please. I think we’ve known each other long enough to be past the formalities by now. Besides, we’re practically family now, aren’t we?”

Lena eyes Alex warily, getting the sense that there are covert implications behind her words and tight-lipped grin. Lena is well aware that Kara tells Alex everything, so she must be aware of their recent transition from friends to…more than friends, but apart from that, she’s not sure how much Alex knows.

She manages to keep her face from flushing with a short nod, and busies her hands with straightening out her blouse. “Very well then, Alex. What can I do for you?” she asks calmly.

“More like what can I do for you?” Alex grins. “With the Daxamites arriving any day now, I feel it’s appropriate that you know how to defend yourself in the event that they turn out to be less than friendly—yes, I know, you trust Mon El and, by extension, his people implicitly for whatever reason, like you were separated at birth or something,” Alex interrupts when Lena opens her mouth to protest, raising a silencing hand. “But regardless of that, being a part of Kara’s life comes with its own set of risks. I’d feel better, and I’m sure Kara would too, if you learned a few things from me,” she says, her tone gentler now, almost…caring?

Lena arches her eyebrow uncertainly, but the bundle of clothes Alex thrusts towards her seems to indicate that she doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

That’s how Lena finds herself in one of the DEO’s training rooms, dressed in a black DEO issued t-shirt and sweatpants that are a little too long on her, rolled up at the ankles. Alex stands across from her, fitted out with boxing gloves, pads and a wicked grin that tells Lena she’s going to enjoy whatever she has in store for her.

“Okay, Luthor. Show me what you’ve got,” Alex prompts, tossing the mitts over to Lena.

Lena paces slowly around the perimeter of the ring in the middle of the room, eying Alex as she slips her hands into the gloves.

“I’m not completely helpless, you know. Lex taught me how to box, and I took self defence classes during boarding school.”

Alex snorts. “Yes, well, you’re not at the academy anymore,” she drawls. “This is the real world. Put ‘em up!”

Lena rolls her eyes and assumes a fighting stance, shoulders squared, right foot slightly forward. Alex holds her pads up and instructs her to perform a combination, which Lena has  to reach back into her memory to remember, but she manages confidently enough anyway.

“Not bad,” Alex hums as Lena finishes the combination with a jab. “But don’t drop your elbow like that, keep your guard up. And is that really the hardest you can hit?”

After warming up a bit on the pads, Alex takes her over to a punching bag, where she demonstrates how to punch hard, fast, and accurately, correcting her form with firm taps to her arms and legs, shifting them into position. Lena takes her instruction on easily—she’s always been a quick learner—and more than that, she wants to impress Alex, or at least, meet her expectations.

They move back to the ring in the middle of the room, where Alex puts the pads back on and puts Lena through more combinations of punches, dodging and weaving. And it’s going well, until—

“So, are you my sister’s girlfriend or what?” Alex asks pointedly between swings.

Lena chokes on her own spit and fails to duck under Alex’s swipe, causing the pad to catch her in the side of the head.

“Focus, Luthor!” Alex chastises, clicking her tongue.

Lena scowls and puts some extra power behind the next combination, which, infuriatingly, only seems to please the eldest Danvers.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Alex reiterates, eyebrows arched expectantly.

Lena puffs out a breath that blows the loose strands of hair out of her eyes, tripping only slightly over her own feet as she mirrors Alex’s side steps.

“I don’t know how to,” she huffs, words punctuated by jabs and crosses. “Saying she’s my girlfriend—that’s just a title, that doesn’t feel like enough. Kara…Kara is everything to me.” Lena lets out a grunt as she finishes the combination with a powerful uppercut. The significance of what she’s said doesn’t hit her until the words are out and Alex is staring back at her with a peculiar expression. Lena straightens up, takes a few steps back, chest heaving as she wipes the sweat off her brow with her forearm. “She’s…she’s my everything,” she repeats, and the truth rings absolute in her own ears.

There’s a long moment during which Alex just watches her before nodding slowly. “Good answer.”

Alex slips her pads off, which Lena takes as a sign to shuck her own gloves and collapse to the floor, body trembling with exertion as she flops down onto her back. Alex’s head appears in her vision over her, her auburn hair eclipsing the lamplight from above.

“She’s everything to me, too,” Alex says.

“I know,” Lena pants, eyes fluttering shut as she swallows between heavy breaths.

“So you understand that I will end you if you ever hurt her. Right?”

There it is.

Lena cracks one eye open and nods, solemn. “I’d expect nothing less, Agent Danvers.”

“Good. We have an understanding, then.” Alex folds her arms while Lena catches her breath for a moment longer, then she grins. “Did you think we were finished?”

“Aren’t we?”

Alex cackles and shakes her head. “Keep dreaming, Luthor. Come on. Up you get.”

Lena whimpers, but eventually accepts Alex’s proffered arm, allowing herself to be pulled back to her feet. Alex keeps her in her grasp when she’s back up, gripping her elbow to keep her in her personal space.

“I’m glad it’s you, Lena,” she says, a curt smile cracking through. “For a second there, I was worried Mon El would be the one. I mean, he’s a nice guy and all, but—I don’t know. My sister senses just tell me he’s not right for her. But you…you make each other better. You bring her peace. Just—keep her happy, okay?”

Lena regards Alex for a moment, feels how much she cares for her sister, how much it means for her to put taking care of Kara’s happiness in her hands.

“I will, Alex,” she promises. “For as long as she’ll let me, I will.”

Lena feels Alex searching her eyes for even a trace of insincerity, and she must turn up empty, because she nods slowly. “Good,” she murmurs, and then Lena’s whole world disappears from beneath her feet when they are swept out from under her, and she finds herself blinking up at the ceiling as her lungs are rudely and abruptly emptied of breath.

“Rule number one, Luthor. Keep your guard up,” Alex smirks from above her, offering her arm out again. Lena scowls indignantly and chooses instead to push herself up from the floor. “You learn fast,” Alex chuckles, nodding approvingly. “Now. Let’s learn some takedowns.”

Lena spends a significant portion of the next twenty minutes flat on her ass as Alex ‘helpfully’ demonstrates how to use an opponent’s own body weight against them in a confrontation. Despite the padded floor, Lena is aching all over. Though, in a way, it feels good—good to use her body like this after spending nights on end spent hunched over a computer. It feels good to sweat and feel her lungs expanding and contracting, good to feel her muscles aching with effort. In fact, it’s even kind of…fun.

Lena gasps for breath between giggles as she and Alex end up locked in a tangle of arms, both trying to get a leg in between the other’s in an attempt to destabilise the other.

“I definitely did not teach you this technique!” Alex laughs in protest as Lena manages to pin her arms to her sides in an improvised bear hug.

“Aw, hey guys, where was my invitation?”

Lena snaps her head up at the sound of Kara’s voice floating in like sunlight through an open window, and the sight of her makes her mouth go dry and saps the already minimal amount of strength from her muscles.

Because Kara is wearing tights that make her butt look like a perfectly ripe peach and a tank top that leaves her arms and shoulders out on full display, and no matter how many times Lena is embraced by them, held by them, lifted and carried around by them, the sheer sight of those tight, rippling anacondas leaves her completely unable to function. In fact, knowing exactly what those arms are capable of might have made it even worse—

And she’s on the ground again.

Lena groans and pushes herself up from the mat just in time to see Alex saunter over to her sister sporting a wide grin.

“She’s all yours, sis,” Alex says, patting Kara on the arm. “Lena, show her what you’ve learned.”

Lena groans, scrubbing the back of her neck. It’s slick with sweat. “You do know she’s Supergirl, right?”

Alex rolls her eyes and accesses a control panel on the side of the wall that makes the lamps overhead glow green, and Lena catches Kara grimace with discomfort.

“That should level the playing field…somewhat. Make me proud.” Alex flashes Lena a parting grin before leaving her and Kara alone in the green room.

Lena casts a critical eye up towards the glowing lamps, then down at Kara, who clenches and unclenches her fists experimentally, shakes her arms out and hops from one foot to another, like she’s settling into her own body.

“Are those what I think they are?” Lena asks.

“Kryptonite emitters,” Kara answers as she approaches the raised platform in the middle of the room. “Not enough to hurt me, aside from a bit of a headache, but enough to weaken me. But don’t worry. I could still totally bench press you,” Kara smirks, resting her elbows on the platform, one of her hands wandering over to toy with Lena’s shoelaces.

“I don’t—that’s not…I’m not worried about that,” Lena insists stubbornly, nudging Kara’s fiddling hand off of her shoe with a flick of her toe.

“Sure you’re not,” Kara chuckles and pushes herself up onto the platform. Lena allows Kara to pull her to her feet, paying little attention to how loudly her muscles scream in protest and ache with fatigue. “So. Why don’t you show me what Alex stole you away to teach you? Go on, hit me,” Kara says, tapping her shoulder indicatively.

Lena shakes her head. “I’m not going to hit you, Kara.” 

“Oh come on. Just think of all the times I’ve driven you crazy, annoyed you, gotten you to fly against your will, said mean things about kale—oof!” Kara gasps as Lena catches her with a right cross to the shoulder. “Good…that’s good, Lena,” Kara wheezes, and it’s oddly satisfying, to see Supergirl take a couple steps back as a result of her own strength. “I almost felt that,” Kara teases, recovering with a grin.

“Gosh, Kara, you’re like a wall,” Lena rolls her eyes, shaking out her now aching hand.

Kara simply shrugs with a chuckle. “What else did you learn?”

Lena bites her lip and shifts herself towards Kara. “Alex did show me this one move. You just put your hands here, and I go here…” Lena explains, moving to grip Kara’s arms, “and then I do this and—whoa!” Lena moves to sweep Kara’s legs out from under her, and it would have been a perfect execution, had she not tumbled down with her, and she winds Kara when she lands on top of her with a thud.

“Nice move, Lena,” Kara winces, “except for one thing.”

Lena lifts her head from where it had dropped nose-first into Kara’s chest, taking a moment to admire the woman beneath her—the halo of blonde hair splayed out on the mat, the pretty flush dusting her cheeks, the plush lips curling up into a grin that makes her heartbeat thrum in her chest.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

Kara’s sapphire eyes flash as she beams up at her. “I’ve got you in my clutches now.”

Lena lets out a delighted squeal as Kara’s arms wrap around her and she squeezes her tightly against her, laughing as she rolls them onto their sides and squeezes tighter still.

“Maybe that was my plan all along,” Lena murmurs and nuzzles into Kara’s neck.

It gradually occurs to her that, for once, Kara isn’t holding back—she is holding her with all her strength—and Lena lets her, and clutches her back just as tight. Their embrace quickly changes from slightly silly to more serious. Lena digs her nails into the flesh of Kara’s shoulders—Kara hisses at the sensation, quickly assures her it’s fine, and Lena wants to kiss her so desperately but when she pulls her head back she can’t see past the grimace that twists Kara’s lips and furrows her brow. Lena sighs, and it’s a sharp, shuddering thing, and slowly relaxes her hands.

“Let go, Kara,” she says softly, running a gentle hand through Kara’s hair.

“I don’t want to.” Kara stubbornly maintains her grip, and her brow furrows deeper. Lena exhales slowly and continues carding her fingers through Kara’s blonde tresses, for just a few moments longer, until Kara makes a small noise of discomfort.

“Kara. The Kryptonite. It’s hurting you.” 

Kara sighs exasperation and loosens her grip, avoiding Lena’s eyes when she pulls back to look at her. Lena presses a soft kiss to her forehead before she eases herself from Kara’s arms, rolls to the edge of the platform and hops down. When Lena turns the Kryptonite emitters off, Kara lets out a sigh of relief and pushes herself up into a sitting position, her legs dangling off the edge.

The top of the platform comes to just under Lena’s ribcage, and Lena fits herself between Kara’s knees, tipping her chin up to look at Kara as she hangs her head. “You okay?” she asks.

Kara draws in a shaky breath and shakes her head. “I’m sorry. I just…forgot myself for a second there. That felt…really good, to hold you like that. Even if it hurt,” she confesses.

Lena bites her lip. “Don’t be sorry, Kara. This…” she traces her fingertips up Kara’s arms, stopping at her biceps where she grips them firmly. “This is a part of you. So it’s a part of us, and I—I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean that.”

Lena tilts her head up and catches a glimpse of Kara’s throat bobbing as she swallows and nods. Kara’s hands come up under her her arms and Lena is lifted up off the ground. She winds her arms around Kara’s neck once she is brought level with her, while Kara’s arms wrap securely around her waist, holding her close. They’re nose to nose, sharing air, and Lena kisses her slowly, sweetly, tenderly.

Lena pulls back slightly to look down at the ground, almost a metre below her dangling feet, and a smile quirks her lips.

“Besides. How many other people can say their girlfriend can lift them up like gravity means nothing?”

Kara’s grin lights up her face, and Lena can feel it against her lips as she presses them back together.

And sure, ‘girlfriend’ is just a title, but boy does it feel pretty damn good to say it.

 

**

 

The wind is insistent, and carries a crisp chill that makes Lena pull her coat tighter around her. DEO agents surround her, all on guard with an anticipatory tension that hangs thick in the air. The portal to bring the Daxamites to Earth looms large before them, an impressive circular structure that casts a shadow over the DEO camp that has been set up a short distance away. Lena runs some final checks on the algorithm, mostly out of needing something to occupy her mind—she is confident this will work, a thought that instills a buzzing excitement in her belly.

“I still don’t know why you had to have it built in your own backyard.”

Kara appears by her side, mouth set in a firm line as she looks up at the metallic structure with a wary frown.

Lena chuckles softly, gives a small shrug. She casts her eye back to the oak tree in her backyard that can be seen off in the distance. The same oak tree Mon El crashed into all those months ago before subsequently irrevocably changing her life.

“It felt right to be here. Call me theatrical, but this is where it all started.”

“Always so dramatic, Lena,” Kara murmurs with an affectionate sort of smile.

“Also,” Lena adds, tapping a final note on her tablet before tucking it away, “My property is completely secure, protected from satellite imaging and surveillance thanks to dear old Lex, and, most importantly, miles away from any civilian dwellings. It makes sense.”

“Logical too,” Kara hums, tipping her head lightly. She huffs a sigh and shakes her limbs out, fingers twisting into her cape in that agitated way Lena has come to recognise all too well.  “All this waiting around has me on edge. How long until we do this thing?”

Lena glances over to where Winn is buzzing around his workstation, getting everything in order with that chaotic energy that seems to fuel him.

“Not long,” Lena answers. “Winn will give us the go ahead and then…we’ll be welcoming Mon El’s family, if all goes according to plan.” Kara’s face is difficult to read as she gives a curt nod, but softens when Lena reaches for her, interlocking their fingers. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Kara nods, trying for a smile. “I just…don’t know what to expect. Mon El was one of them, but a whole ship? They’re a stubborn people, Lena. This might not be as easy as we hope.”

“Mon El is their prince, Kara. I trust we can follow his lead,” Lena says, giving Kara’s hand an assuring squeeze. “Besides, whatever comes through that portal will be no match against a prince, the Girl of Steel, and a genius,” she adds with a grin.

Kara breathes a laugh, and slips her arm behind Lena’s back, drawing her close. “If you say so. Wait, so who is the genius?” she teases, nose crinkling adorably as Lena shoots her a glare.

“Definitely not you,” Lena mutters, easing up as Kara presses her lips to her forehead. She sighs and leans into Kara’s side, listening to the rhythm of her breathing.

Crunching footfalls announce Mon El’s presence shortly before he is at Lena’s other side, puffing out a breath as his eyes are similarly transfixed on the portal.

“Excited, Mon El?” Lena asks.

“Yeah,” Mon El nods, rubbing at his arms. “Nervous, too. Kinda scared. Is that normal?”

“Nervous to have your people teleported through an untested portal after you thought your whole planet had been destroyed?” Kara deadpans, giving Mon El a sideways look that cracks into a smile. “I think nerves are appropriate for the situation.”

Mon El swallows. “Thanks, Kara. Very helpful,” he says uncertainly.

Lena sighs and loops her free arm around Mon El’s waist, pulling her into her other side. She feels the tension leave his back as he places his arm around her shoulder, dropping his head down to rest against hers as they gaze at the now dormant portal across the field. As the three of them stand there in silence, Lena finds that she is instilled with an undeniable sense of calm: she is not afraid—not of failure, nor of whatever comes through that portal. Not with these two by her side.

She isn’t given much time to settle into the feeling, however, as Winn is calling them over and telling them it’s time.

 

No number of times Lena had run the simulation could have prepared her for the feeling of watching the portal whirring to life—for the energy that crackles in the air around them as a brilliant purple ball of light brews in the centre and then expands to fill the metal frame.

Lena barely hears Winn’s cry’s of “it’s working!” over the portal’s electric hum. The air is completely still, like everyone is holding their breath, their eyes completely focused ahead. DEO agents grip their weapons. Mon El grinds his teeth. Kara clutches tightly to Lena’s hand.

For perhaps the longest minute in Lena’s life, everything was still.

And then, the roar of a spaceship’s thrusters fills their ears, and Lena’s eyes bulge as a behemoth of a spaceship bursts forth from the portal and crawls across the sky towards them, slow and imposing. It comes to a halt right overhead, thrusting them in shadow and whipping the air around them, making Lena’s eyes water.

“That is one big ship,” Winn breathes.

Kara steps in front of Lena but maintains her hold on her hand, though the tension in her legs suggests she is torn between staying on the ground and shooting up into the sky towards the ship. Luckily, she doesn’t have to leave, as there is a green shimmering light and the next thing they know, a small group of people have materialised before them.

The DEO agents tense up, following Alex’s lead as she points her favourite gun at them. There are what appear to be six guards, all shining metal and helmets and staff-like weapons which they hold up in response. There is another figure there, a young girl with dark brown hair, wearing an elegant dress and a wary expression as her eyes wander over their faces before lighting up with recognition when she sees Mon El.

“Mon El!” she cries.

“Damara!” Mon El exclaims, and despite J’onn’s protests, he breaks rank and sprints over to the girl, picking her up and twirling her around in a hug.

Lena feels Kara tense up, her breath catching as she watches Mon El being reunited with his cousin. Lena touches her shoulder gently and Kara glances over her shoulder with a bittersweet sort of smile and gives her a nod to assure that she’s okay.

Lena turns her attention back to Mon El, who has now set Damara down and is facing the guards with a firm look.

“Stand down,” he commands, and Lena is almost taken aback by the authoritative weight in his voice. This is certainly a different man to the one who almost walked out of a restaurant when they only had Pepsi instead of Coke.

The guards lower their weapons and bend at the waist in reverent bows, and when Mon El looks back over his shoulder it’s with a wide grin.

“It’s okay! You can put the guns down!”

Alex looks uncertain for a moment, before she sighs and lowers her gun, instructing the other agents to follow suit.

There’s silence for a moment, and then, another flash of green, and another figure appears in front of Mon El.

It’s a woman, tall and slender, in a form-fitting dress and a crown perched on her head. A foreboding smirk curls her lips as she looks at Mon El, an almost predatory hunger in her eyes.

“Hello, Mon El. Mother’s home.”

Mon El cringes and looks back at Lena over his shoulder.

“Oh Rao,” he groans, a pained expression on his face. “Can we send them back?”

Chapter Text

Mon El stumbles a few steps away from the Daxamites, back towards Lena and Kara. Lena catches him by the sleeve once he is in her radius, pulling him back the rest of the way. She spins him around and the three of them huddle together, heads pressed against each other’s.

“Who is that?” Lena whispers, popping her head out to eye the strange, ethereal looking woman warily before ducking her head back down.

That would be my mother. Queen Rhea.”

Kara’a eyes narrow suspiciously. “Your cousin said the whole royal family was dead.”

“She must have forced her to lie,” Mon El hisses. His face is pale and washed out, like he’s just seen a ghost—which, in a way, he has. “She’s conniving like that.”

“I know a thing or two about bad mothers,” Lena says, striving for calm, maybe even optimism. “Is she really that bad, Mon El?”

“Oh you have no idea, Lena,” Mon El says, scrunching his nose up. “You know how your mother had that whole evil overlord, taking over the world thing going on? You know, before you turned her in and she went to prison?”

“How could I forget?”

“Yeah. Well. Same here. Except my mother actually was the overlord of Daxam.” He glances over his shoulder to where his mother stands. She has picked a wildflower, and is staring at in disgust as she crushes the petals between her fingertips. “I don’t think she’ll adjust too well to the whole ‘democracy’ thing the free world has going on,” he says, swallowing at a lump at his throat.

“What’s she going to do?” Kara snaps. “Subdue us with her tacky tiara? This is our home. There’s nothing she can do that will take that away, not if I have anything to say about it. I’m Supergirl, for goodness’ sake,” Kara grumbles, eyes flashing with that dangerous determination that made her so incredibly alluring to Lena as Supergirl, even before she figured out her true identity.

“We still don’t know what she really wants,” Lena says hurriedly, sensing Kara’s agitation. “Sure, she lied about being alive which is pretty suspicious, but you’re her son, Mon El. You can talk to her, right?”

“I suppose we don’t have a choice.”

A chilled breeze hitting her cheek alerts Lena to the fact that one side of their huddled triangle is missing.

“Kara? Kara!”

Lena pops her head up to see Kara striding towards Rhea, hands firmly on her hips, cape snapping in the wind. Heaving an enduring sigh, she catches Mon El’s hand and pulls him along with her to catch up with Kara as she faces up against the imposing Daxamite queen. They hang back slightly, watching cautiously to see what Kara will do.

“Queen Rhea,” Kara booms, her voice exuding command and authority. “You and your people have come to Earth to seek refuge after suffering a terrible tragedy. We are more than prepared to welcome you; however, be warned. If you intend to bring violence to this planet, it will not be tolerated. If you choose to fight us, you will lose.”

Kara’s words hang suspended in the air between them, her eyes steely blue as she squares her jaw with its challenge. Rhea’s eyes trace over Kara, lingering on every edge and curve to her person, wearing a smirk that makes Lena’s skin crawl.

“Well,” Rhea laughs haughtily, “I knew Kryptonians weren’t exactly famous for their hospitality, but this certainly is a frosty welcome. How unfortunate for your race, that you should be the one to represent them. You wear that sigil like it means something…” Rhea zeros in on the crest emblazoned on Kara’s chest, tuts her tongue behind her teeth. “The ‘great House of El’…how the mighty fall.” she drawls, voice thick with ice.

“You watch how you speak to her.”

The words are hissed from Lena’s mouth before she even realises she has spoken—before she even realises she’s spoken to an alien who could probably snap her like a twig if she wanted to—an alien who is now looking at her like she is gum on her stiletto. But Lena doesn’t care. She tips her stubborn jaw forwards, shuffling to stand beside Kara while Rhea fixes Mon El with an incredulous look.

“Is this really the company you’ve been keeping since the destruction of our glorious planet?” she scoffs, incredulous. “An unmannered Kryptonian and a…who are you supposed to be, exactly?”

Lena falters only slightly under her pointed stare, clearing her throat as she stands tall. “Lena. Lena Luthor.”

And Rhea wouldn't know what the Luthor name means, so for once Lena can pretend it’s not associated with hatred and evil. Maybe it can be what it once was, what she is striving to bring it back to: something to be respected, maybe even revered. That’s what she’s going for, anyway

“She built the portal, Mother,” Mon El says. “She’s the reason you’re here.”

Rhea’s icy expression melts instantly at that piece of information, and she eyes Lena in a way that’s not dissimilar to the way Kara eyes Chinese food.

You are the brilliant mind that made this portal a reality?” she asks, eyebrow steadily arching upwards.

Lena shifts from one foot to another, gripping her tablet in front of her chest. “Oh, well, I wouldn’t say brilliant, I mean all it took was a bit of advanced physics the likes of which this planet has never seen before so maybe the term ‘genius’ is more fitting, but sure, let’s go with brilliant—” Lena says, stopping abruptly when Kara nudges her side.

“Focus, Lena,” Kara mutters out of the corner of her mouth.

Rhea, meanwhile, nods in approval as a smile curls her lips, and her voice is suddenly warmer, dripping honeyed words.

“Well, Lena Luthor. If your genius is what brought us here, surely you must be the best of Earth. Rest assured, you will be rewarded handsomely in the dawn of this new era. ‘New Daxam’ has a nice ring to it, don’t you think Mon El?” she asks, white teeth flashing. “It’s settled then,” she announces happily, clapping her hands together. “Lena Luthor, you shall marry my son, and the union between earth’s people and Daxam’s prince will usher in an era of prosperity and glory on New Daxam.”

Mon El reels back, mortification twisting his features. Lena’s eyes bulge incredulously and her jaw drops open and Kara…Kara’s fury rises like a red tide, fists clenching at her sides as a crimson flush gradually spreads up her neck and face.

“Um. I think the hell not!” Kara barks, nostrils flaring. (Lena makes a mental note to both tease and reward Kara for her fierce protectiveness later).

“There’s absolutely no way that is happening,” Mon El adds, but Rhea only chuckles, stepping towards them.

“Oh, my sweet son,” she hums, amused. “Did I say you had a choice?” Rhea calmly draws closer, and Lena’s breath stills in her throat as the woman enters her personal space. Lena takes a good look at her now that she’s right in front of her. Queen Rhea’s lithe frame is infused with regality, from her straight-backed posture to her scrutinising eyes and thin-lipped smile, and she’s looking at her with this twisted sort of desire Lena knows all too well. It’s the same look Lillian gave her, when she knew she had something she wanted.

“My my,” Rhea murmurs, and Lena flinches at the feeling of Rhea’s fingertips tracing up her arm. “You certainly are a fine specimen. I am positive that you will produce a worthy heir.”

Lena feels Kara move beside her as Rhea’s nails scratch a path up to her neck, but for once, Lena is faster, and before she knows it she has pulled her fist back and it has connected with Rhea’s jaw. The impact sends the Queen stumbling back a few steps as well as shooting pain through Lena’s fingers and up to her elbow, and she shakes her arm out gingerly while Rhea recovers and glares filthily back at her.

(Somewhere behind them, Alex murmurs ‘atta girl’ under her breath, as she stares through the scope of a rifle at the confrontation.)

Lena hears Kara suck in a sharp breath. When she glances over, she sees Kara has her bottom lip firmly trapped between her teeth, eyes bulging stupidly out of her head as she stares at Lena with this intense sort of desire that makes Lena preen just a bit as she glares back at Rhea.

“Please don’t touch me,” Lena says cooly, and her calm voice masks the rush of nerves and adrenaline coursing through her system. "And if you think this human will be producing any sort of heir for you, you are sorely mistaken."

Rhea rubs a hand over her chin, looking more amused than anything, a smirk spreading as the guards raise their weapons, the ends of their staffs buzzing with electricity.

“You have made a grave mistake, human. What was that you said about violence being met with violence, Kryptonian?”

Kara steps forwards, placing herself between Lena and Rhea, while the DEO agents behind them aim their weapons accordingly.

“I was willing to talk things out with you, but you lost your chance as soon as you threatened her,” Kara growls.

The air is tense, eerily quiet, the only sounds the crackling sparks from the Daxamites’ weapons, and Lena grips her tablet bracingly, expecting the worst until—

“Stop!” Mon El bellows, and steps in front of Kara with his hands up. “Stop, all of you! Put your weapons down. As your prince, I command you!” When the guards remain motionless, he turns to his mother instead, a pleading look in his eyes. “As your son, I beg you. Please. I’ll do whatever you want, I’ll be your prince, just—just don’t hurt them.”

Rhea fixes Mon El with a long look, which he meets resolutely, before she sighs and nods her head, and the guards stand down.

“As you wish, my son.” She places her hands on his shoulders, thumbs rubbing back and forth as a sad smile pulls at her lips. “I have scoured the galaxy searching for you, Mon El” she murmurs quietly. “I thought I had lost you, like I lost your father, like I lost everything we had. Our home. Our people. All of it…burning in the wake of Krypton’s destruction.”

“Mother…” Mon El chokes, swallowing hard.

Rhea sighs heavily and shakes away the brief moment of vulnerability.

“We won’t live in the past, Mon El. We must think of our future now. Our destiny. We can have everything we once had, but better. The entire first fleet of the Daxamite armada survived the destruction. They are only waiting for my signal to take this planet. Once Earth is ours, we can rebuild, and restore our people to greatness once again,” she proclaims, her eyes shining bright with the vision she paints.

“I’ll destroy the portal before that happens,” Kara says firmly, ready to take off and do her laser vision thing, probably.

Or,” Lena interjects quickly, holding up her tablet demonstratively, “I could just shut it off, instead of destroying my life’s most important scientific work.”

Kara looks sceptical, then shrugs, resigned.

“There has to be another way, Mother,” Mon El insists, balling his fists up.

Rhea looks down at him, nose wrinkled like she’s just stepped in something disgusting. “Why do you want to protect these humans?” She asks. “We’ve been watching from above, ever since we made contact.” She paces slowly back and forth, hands clasped in a prism in front of her as she speaks.

“The people of earth are selfish, and cruel. They wage wars, and kill each other in cold blood, they ravage the planet for its resources, and the rich sit on their golden thrones while the poor are crushed beneath their over-large feet. Don’t you see, Mon El? They’re not so different from us. In fact, we’d be doing them a favour by conquering them. They certainly would benefit from a little structure, a little benevolent dictating, don’t you think?” She finishes her speech with a twisted smile, but Mon El just shakes his head.

“You’re wrong,” he says. “You don’t see them like I do. Humans are…they’re complicated, and difficult, and confusing, and they hurt each other, but…” He turns towards Kara and Lena, flicking them both quick smiles as he takes their hands and joins them together.

Lena glances down at their conjoined hands as Kara twines their fingers together and gives her hand a squeeze, and when she looks up at her face, Kara is looking back with such warmth, such adoration, such love that Lena can’t help but smile back and forget, if only for a moment, the potential alien invasion they are currently dealing with.

Mon El turns back to his mother, stands by Lena’s side and takes her other hand. “But they also love so fiercely and that—that is their salvation.”

Rhea tuts her tongue, looking at Mon El with distaste. “You always were far too soft and sentimental, Mon El.”

Kara speaks up now, not letting go of Lena’s hand. “Following your heart isn’t weakness—it’s strength.”

“She’s right, mother,” Mon El nods. “I’ve had to travel across the galaxy and lose everything I know to learn that, but…I know it now. And I want to lead our people to be better.” He drops Lena’s hand and addresses the guards directly now, standing in front of them with their buzzing staffs.

“Everything we ever knew and loved was taken from us, but that doesn’t mean we have to do the same thing to someone else. We have to learn what it means to be Daxamites again. Right now, we can be whatever we want to be—whoever we want to be. And we have to choose right.”

Rhea laughs haughtily, crossing her arms. “The people of Daxam will never follow you, Mon El, if that’s your pathetic excuse for a strategy.”

But that doesn’t seem to be true, because the Daxamites are lowering their weapons, something changing in their postures as they to do so.

“She’s wrong,” Lena whispers, and Kara nods beside her.

Mon El’s cousin steps forward. “I will follow you. You are my prince, Mon El. The people of Daxam—we are ready for a new way, if you will show it to us,” she says, a soft smile at her lips, which Mon El returns gratefully.

“Traitor,” Rhea hisses.

“I am tired, Aunt Rhea. We are all tired. Please, let us leave this place and let Mon El lead us down a new path,” she implores, reaching out to touch Rhea’s shoulder.

Rhea’s eyes dart wildly, from the resigned and weary faces of the Daxamites, to Mon El standing tall among them, to Kara and Lena, stone-faced and cautious before her. Seeing she has lost the support of her guards, she glares filthily and lets out an animalistic cry.

“If you won’t listen to reason, perhaps violence is the only language you will understand."

Rhea unsheathes a knife from a belt around her waist and charges, with alarming speed, straight towards Lena.

And Lena is only human, so her reflexes barely register the fact that Kara has disappeared from her side until Kara has collided with Rhea and taken her up, high in to the air. Kara and Rhea are two dots spinning above the earth. There’s a short struggle, and then Kara seems to get the upper hand as she rockets back down towards the ground, sending shockwaves through the earth as she slams Rhea down into it.

Lena’s stomach bottoms out and she races across the field towards them, crying out Kara’s name. Mon El gets there first, drops to his knees beside his mother, where her own knife protrudes from her gut as she gasps for air.

Rao Kara. What did you do?” Mon El gasps. He hurriedly shucks his jacket and presses it against the wound.

Lena stops abruptly next to Kara, touches a hand to her arm hesitantly. Kara flinches slightly, but doesn’t pull away.

“The knife didn’t hit any vital organs. She’ll live,” Kara reports, only a slight tremor in her otherwise dispassionate voice.

“You Kryptonian brat!” Rhea spits furiously, voice distorted by pain. “It still hurts like a—” what follows is a string of expletives in an alien tongue that Lena doesn’t understand, but has both Mon El and Kara grimacing.

Damara crouches at Rhea’s other side, her face pale. “We have to get her back to the ship. She needs medical attention, my Prince.”

Mon El nods, decisive. “Get the transporters ready.”

Lena’s mind is spinning with the commotion around her, yet she slowly comes to the realisation that—

“Mon El? You’re—you’re leaving?” her voice is small, yet cuts through the chaos as she drops to her knees beside him. He instructs for Damara to take over holding his jacket against Rhea’s abdomen, and shifts on his knees to face Lena, taking her hands in his.

“My people need me, Lena. Rao, even my mother is…what’s the phrase you have here? Koo-koo bananas? Batshit? Yeah. She’s that. But she’s still family, and she needs me too.”

Lena shakes her head, swallows, holding back tears. She understands, she really does, but this is all going much too fast, she thinks as she grips on to the sleeves of his shirt. “What about us? What about me? Aren’t we family too?”

“Yes, Lena,” Mon El says, a faint smile on his lips as he nods. “You’ve made me a part of your family, this family you’ve built for yourself even after your own real family abandoned you—and I’ll never forget that. But I’m not Lex. I won’t leave you, ever.”

Lena frowns a bit. “You literally are though. Leaving.”

Mon El gives a small, sad laugh. “Maybe geographically. But…I’ll always be here.” He places a hand over her heart, or, at least, he tries to.

“Mon El…human hearts are on the left.”

“Oh. Right. Here,” he shifts his hand over and looks up at Lena with a gentle smile, a smile Lena has come to rely on more than she knows.

“Mon El,” Damara urges from behind him. “We must go, quickly.”

“Right. Okay.” He turns back to Lena, clenching and unclenching his fists as he draws in a nervous breath. “Lena I just want to say thank you for all that you’ve done for me, ever since I got here, you’ve helped me become this person I never thought I could be—” Mon El is cut off as Lena launches herself forwards, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her head into his shoulder.

“You’ve always been that person. You’re going to do great things for your people. I believe in you,” she whispers, smiling despite the tears she can feel threatening to spill over. She clutches tightly onto him, fingers digging into his shoulders, until she feels Kara place an insistent hand on her back and she lets go, albeit reluctantly. Mon El stands, helps Lena to her feet, and faces Kara.

Kara fixes him with a long look, shoulders square, before she exhales, deflating slightly, looking more Kara Danvers than Supergirl if only for a moment.

“I know we didn’t get along at the start—”

“An understatement,” Mon El grins, and Kara laughs a bit.

“But…damnit, you grew on me. Helped me see that I don’t have to be so alone in this home I didn’t choose for myself. And, in a way, you helped me see that—that the best thing in my life was standing right in front of me.” Kara lets her eyes flick across to Lena, where her features take on a brief warm glow.

Mon El tilts his head to the side with a wry smirk. “I’m so glad the very idea of being with me repulsed you enough to discover your feelings for Lena,” he teases, and Kara shoves him.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.”

Mon El grins and pulls Kara to him in a crushing hug. And Kara holds onto him with everything she has. Lena can see it in the flex of her forearm, in the grip of her fingers. She grips Mon El, and Mon El doesn’t break. And Lena can’t help but think that Kara needs this—to be able to hold someone like this--and she suddenly feels so fragile in comparison.

“Take care of her, okay?” Mon El says to Kara when they eventually part, then glances over at Lena and chuckles a bit. “Heck, take care of each other. Rao knows, you both need it,” he teases lightly.

“As touching as this whole display is, Mon El, please don’t forget your mother is slowly dying here,” Rhea rasps, managing to pull off biting melodrama despite the flowing wound in her abdomen.

“We’ll see each other again soon,” Mon El promises, a sad smile pulling at his features. “You basically discovered teleportation on earth, Lena. This infinite universe may have gotten a whole lot smaller for humanity, thanks to you.”

“I suppose I did,” Lena laughs, shakes her head a little with disbelief. “Of course, really only half the work has been done. Building the portal was one thing, but developing the technology to execute the teleportation could take years to perfect theoretically, perhaps even longer to execute—” Lena’s rambling is cut off by a dramatic wail of pain from Rhea, and Mon El grimaces.

“You should probably go,” Kara says, a slight look of concern affecting her features.

Mon El draws in a steeling breath, squares his shoulders with a nod. He crouches down by his mother, looking up at Lena with a sad smile as they prepare to be transported up to the ship. “I’ll be back soon,” he promises.

Lena swallows thickly and nods, heat prickling behind her eyes. She feels Kara step beside her, her arm slipping around her back, and Lena curls into her side, hand gripping loosely onto the lapel of her cape.

They stand there, together, as Mon El shimmers before their eyes and disappears into thin air. Lena sucks in a breath, the feeling of loss instantaneous and shattering in her chest.

And she holds onto Kara like a lifeline as the Daxamite ship’s thrusters whip the winds around them, propelling it back into the portal where it disappears. She holds onto Kara, and onto the promise that they will see Mon El again.

 

7 months later…

 

One of Lena’s favourite things about cooking, is cooking with wine. Not necessarily in the food, just in her hand is fine.

A large stock pot sits on the centre burner of her stove, sizzling with seasoned pieces of lamb, browning off in some oil. Music plays in the background and Lena hums to herself as she roughly chops up some onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, sporadically sipping from her glass of Shiraz.

The stew is bubbling happily on the stove by the time Kara bursts into the apartment carrying far too many grocery bags on for a human on each arm (“I refuse to make more than one trip”), a half-eaten pretzel dangling from her mouth as she kicks the door shut with a heel.

“That, smells so good, Lena,” she moans as she sets the bags down on the counter in a heap. She appears by Lena’s side, one hand on her hip, and takes the pretzel out of her mouth to press a quick kiss to her cheek. Lena melts a little, but focuses her attention on stirring the pot.

“Did you get the cheese? The brand with the creepy smiling cow on it that Winn likes?” she asks as Kara sorts through the grocery bags, putting things away in cupboards and the fridge..

“Yes, I got one of each type, and about six different types of crackers to go with it,” Kara responds with a dutiful nod.

“And that bottle of scotch? The one Alex tried at my office the other week and won’t stop asking about?”

“The ridiculously expensive one? Yep.”

“And what about ice cream?”

“I got chocolate chip, cookie dough, an extra pint just for me, and soy ice cream for Maggie,” Kara says into the freezer as she puts the ice cream away.

“Did you remember—” Lena begins, but she’s cut off by Kara putting the rest of the groceries away with a burst of superspeed before she appears at her back, arms snaking around her waist.

“Relax, would you?” she hums, the words tickling against the shell of her ear.

“This is a big deal, Kara,” Lena pouts, squirming a little, but doesn’t really get anywhere. In fact, it just makes Kara hold her tighter, pressing her front flush against Lena’s back. “It’s our first gathering at our new place. Tonight sets a precedent for all future entertainment endeavours, it needs to go perfectly,” she insists as she gives the stew a final stir.

Kara chuckles and presses her lips to the top of Lena’s shoulder. Lena can feel her smiling into the skin.

“It will,” Kara says, and she’s so confident and assured that Lena can’t help but believe her. “Especially if this tastes as good as it smells,” she adds, and sneakily plucks a piece of carrot from the stew.

“Kara! It’s not ready yet,” Lena chides as Kara munches triumphantly.

“Still tastes pretty good to me,” she grins, and Lena shoots her a playful glare over her shoulder as she lids the pot.

“It needs to go in the oven now. Would you?”

Kara lifts the heavy pot off of the stove as easily as if it were filled with feathers and slides it into the awaiting oven, where Lena shuts it with a contented sigh.

“Teamwork!” Kara cheers, and Lena bites down the urge to point out the fact that she really did all the work. “How long until we get to eat?” Kara asks, bouncing a little on the balls of her feet as she tips forwards to stare into the oven eagerly.

Lena smiles, leaning into her hip and takes a moment to appreciate the way Kara’s wide-eyed grin is illuminated by the golden glow of the oven light. Her life has been filled with small moments like this over the past months. Small moments to pause and consider the small, unspoken features that constitute Kara Danvers, the woman she loves.

“Two hours,” she responds after a beat, “and there’s plenty to do between now and then to get everything ready,” she adds, moving to put dishes in the sink. She turns back around, but finds herself faced with Kara’s person and a quiet smirk instead.

“Or…I can think of a few other things we could do to pass the time,” Kara says, and the way her eyes spark and her hands find their way to her hips, lightly twisting the material of her blouse into her fingers, give a pretty good indication as to exactly what Kara has on her mind.

“Kara…” Lena protests, but there isn’t much fight in her voice, and her own hand toys with one of the buttons on Kara’s shirt, completely of its own accord. “We have so many things to do.”

Kara scoffs with a light shake of her head. “You’re forgetting I have super speed.”

Lena laughs, and that’s all the go-ahead Kara needs to tip her head down and meet Lena’s lips with a grin. Lena kisses her back, and it’s light, and it’s easy, until Kara backs her up against the counter, and Lena knows she’s in the best kind of trouble now.

The girl of steel’s mouth pushes against the Luthor heiress’ uninhibited. Lena winds her arms around Kara’s neck, letting Kara draw kisses from her as she pleases.

“I missed you,” Kara hums in one of the brief moments their lips aren’t together when she repositions her head slightly.

“You were only gone an hour,” Lena replies, and it comes out a little breathless as Kara’s mouth finds her neck.

“May as well have been an eternity in the phantom zone,” Kara murmurs, and the way the words tickle against Lena’s skin makes her breath hitch in her throat and she subconsciously rolls her hips against Kara’s. The motion makes Kara bring her mouth back up to Lena’s, and Lena’s hands work with the buttons of Kara’s shirt, dextrous yet shaking and eager with each button she slips free.

Kara’s skin is warm against Lena’s hands, palms pressed flat against the smooth skin of her back. She loses concentration and kisses Kara clumsily when she becomes aware that Kara has undone the button of her jeans, and her hand is dipping low to where her pulse throbs insistently. Lena gasps, hands fisting in Kara’s hair as Kara’s hand finds her wet and wanting and—

 

CRACK.

 

 

Learning to love a super-strong Kryptonian has certainly been an exercise in patience, for the both of them.

Finding out each other’s limits, how much Kara can handle, discovering where the line between fun pain and actual pain is for Lena, is an ongoing process that takes work.

And while Kara is very good at keeping Lena safe, the same can’t be said for bed frames, counter tops, couches, tables, and half of Lena’s wardrobe. Most of the time, Lena takes it as a compliment. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. She sees the way Kara reacts: frustrated, disappointed, even a little ashamed, no matter how well Lena coaxes her back into herself on the occasion that she slips up.

They both stare down at the marble counter top, specifically at the deep crack running a jagged line down its centre.

“Well,” Lena says after a moment, “I suppose that’s one way to break in the new kitchen.”

Kara chokes out a laugh, and it’s a hollow, one-note thing, but it manages to ease the flex in her fist anyway as she sighs and drops her forehead onto Lena’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Lena,” she says, lifting a heavy sigh.

Lena smiles a bit and runs one hand through Kara’s hair. The other traces over the grooves of the new crack in the marble, and she’s still a little awestruck by both Kara’s power and the strength it must take to control it.

“It’s okay, Kara,” she murmurs, nudges a kiss to Kara’s forehead. She lets out a sigh, slightly shuddering, and the apex of her legs throbs irritatingly, demanding. She ignores it best as she can, but the way Kara’s fingers absently trace feather-light patterns on the small of her back make that an increasingly difficult task. She clears her throat, pressing her legs together a bit. “Do you think we could…” she lets her sentence hang, arching her eyebrows as Kara looks up at her questioningly.

“You sure?” Her eyes flick back to the crack in the counter, and she looks worried, but Lena tips her chin back to look at her and kisses her in assurance.

“I’m sure if you are. Don’t worry about the counter, I hear the distressed look is in these days,” she says with a kind smile, and Kara laughs as Lena brushes some loose strands of blonde hair away from her face. “Besides, I think I might break something if we don’t finish what we started,” Lena admits casually, grinning to herself as Kara seems to choke on nothing.

Lena takes Kara’s hands and places them back on her hips, her own hands lacing behind Kara’s neck as she pulls her in for a kiss. “Let me…just follow my lead, okay?” she asks, and Kara nods.

Lena draws Kara close, kissing her with intention. She guides Kara’s hands where she wants them, swiping a thumb over the knuckles and running steadying hands down Kara’s arms when she feels Kara tense up.

Eventually, carefully, slowly, they work their way back to where they were and Kara is doing so incredibly well, and Lena tells her as much, gasped words brushed against her ear, and Lena is so incredibly close, she can feel the buildup, the promise of release fast approaching, and Lena’s really only expecting one thing to happen in the following few seconds—she’s counting on it, really.

But what she really isn’t expecting is for an alien to land on their balcony which such force that the whole apartment shakes, followed by said alien striding into the apartment, happily bellowing “the owl has landed! Wait a second, that sounds wrong—the eagle has landed! Mon El is back on earth—AAAH!”

Mon El’s scream fades in volume as Kara zooms over to him and catches him by the collar, dragging him back out to the balcony with a burst of speed.

Lena sighs, legs weak as she leans back against the counter and grinds her teeth together. She takes a sip of her wine, takes a moment to savour the rich and slightly peppery undertones before swallowing. Once she feels she has regained some semblance of composure, she smoothes down her blouse, re-buttons her jeans and takes herself and her wine glass out to the balcony.

Here, she finds Kara standing at the edge with her arm outstretched, and Mon El dangles over the city upside-down as she holds him up by the ankle. Her expression is livid. Her shirt is still unbuttoned, offering Lena glimpses of Kara’s toned torso and a grey sports bra when the wind occasionally flutters it open. It does little to quell the tight coil of frustration that has taken up residence in her belly. She takes a deep sip of her wine.

“Kara! Kara, please! I thought you'd be happy to see me!” Mon El lets out a strangled cry as he tries to twist in Kara’s grip to look up at her with pleading eyes. He’s holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand, and watches with terror as a single flower slips out of the arrangement and floats down to earth, incredibly slowly. “Did I—did I come at a bad time?”

“The worst,” Kara growls, the sound low and dangerous in her throat. She loosens her grip ever so slightly, and Mon El drops a few centimetres with a yelp, but she tightens her hand again before he falls.

Lena has half a mind to leave him dangling there for a little while longer, but decides against it and lays a hand on Kara’s shoulder.

“Let him go, Kara,” she says with a weary sigh.

Kara quirks an eyebrow at her, confused and a little intrigued. “Let him go? All right, if you say so…”

“No!” Lena quickly shouts and pinches at the bridge of her nose with a huff. “I didn’t mean—I meant put him down, on solid ground,” she specifies irritably.

Kara pouts a bit then shrugs with a reluctant “fine.” She drops Mon El in a heap on the floor, and Lena struts back inside. She needs more wine.

Mon El follows them in, sheepish and shaken, and he straightens out his jacket and attempts to neaten up the bouquet of flowers.

“I see everything went fine with the portal,” Lena notes as she fills her glass. She speaks calmly, like she’s discussing stock prices in a board meeting, not at all like an alien has just interrupted her and her alien girlfriend during sex and wasn’t just dangling from their top-floor balcony.

“He would have lived, you know,” Kara mutters. She takes a bottle of Coke from the fridge, which she drinks from with a straw.

Mon El’s face lights up when he sees the drink. “Oh Rao, you have no idea how much I’ve missed that stuff! Can I have some?”

In response, Kara drains the entire bottle with alarming speed, and a high-pitched vacuous slurping noise echoes around the empty glass. She doesn’t break eye contact with Mon El the whole time.

“Sorry,” she gulps, “that was the last one.” Her words are punctuated by a small burp, and it would be gross if she wasn’t so annoyingly attractive. Mon El makes a face like a kid being told Santa isn’t real, and Kara just smirks, vindicated, as she drops the bottle in the recycling bin.

Lena can’t help but laugh at the two of them, the frustrated knot in her stomach gradually being replaced by a happy sort of warmth at the three of them being together again, like no time at all has passed.

“Kara,” she tuts, chiding, but she’s smiling nonetheless. She approaches her grumpy alien and carefully buttons her shirt, straightening out her collar as she fixes the top one. “Why don’t you go back to the store for more drinks and Mon El can help me get things ready here?”

Kara sighs, the tension in her brow easing somewhat. “Fine. I’ll do a sweep of the city while I’m out.” She gives Lena a light kiss and stops in front of Mon El as she passes, rolling her eyes a bit as she pulls him into a quick hug before heading out.

Mon El turns to Lena, looking happy and bewildered and altogether confused as they share a laugh and Lena crosses over to him, folding herself into his arms.

“Your timing could have been better, Mon El, but I am glad to see you. And so is Kara, despite what her face may tell you.”

Mon El is grinning broadly when Lena pulls back to look up at him. “It’s good to see you’re both doing well. I’ve missed you so much, Lena, and I have so many stories!” he says, bouncing a little in excitement.

Lena laughs and pats his chest. “Save it for the party,” she insists, “I’m sure everyone will want to hear what you’ve been up to out in space. Here, let me get a vase for those. Help me set the table.”

The flowers end up in the centre of the table, a bit crumpled and disheveled from Kara’s little outburst, but beautiful nonetheless.

“What even are these?” Lena wonders, lightly smoothing out one of the petals of an exquisitely bright yellow and orange flower. “I’ve never seen anything like them before.”

“You wouldn’t have,” Mon El says proudly, “they’re from a tiny planet in the Pylos system. It’s beautiful, only some of the plants will eat you if you get too close,” he says, and Lena retracts her hand. “Not those ones,” he adds quickly, “I think.”

Lena sighs and wraps her arms around herself, smiling contentedly. “I can’t believe all the wild adventures you’re having. All the things you get to see. Which reminds me…did you manage to find that, ah, thing I asked you about?”

Mon El tilts his head to the side. “Thing? What thing?”

Lena frowns, a little irritated. “You know, Mon El. The thing,” she says through grit teeth, glancing over her shoulder.

Oh, you mean that thing you haven’t been bugging me about non-stop for the past few months?” he asks, a cheeky grin that makes Lena give him a shove spreading across his lips. “Yeah, I got it. You wouldn’t believe what I had to do for it by the way. You owe me.”

“Hm, yes, I owe you,” Lena says, pursing her lips as she taps her chin thoughtfully. “Let’s see, I released you from your pod, protected you from Kara’s wrath multiple times, clothed and fed you for several months, gave you a job, taught you how to make pasta and built a portal that brought you back together with your people, so…what exactly is it that I owe you?” She asks, a single perfectly sculpted brow arched in a challenge.

“Let’s just consider it a gift between friends,” Mon El amends, flashing a sheepish grin.

“That’s what I thought. You think it will work?”

Mon El shrugs. “I don’t know, you’re the science person. I’m just the go-get-the-things-for-the-science person. I don’t see why it shouldn’t work, though. I really hope it does.”

Lena sighs, biting at the pad of her thumb. “Me too. Don’t tell anyone about it, by the way.” Mon El grimaces, and Lena levels him with a look. “Who have you told?”

“Alex,” Mon El says, guilty as he scrubs the back of his neck. “It just slipped out.”

Lena sighs, rubbing a hand over her face as her cheeks flush. “So that’s why she’s been looking at me weird lately,” she mutters, shaking her head. “Well, make sure you don’t tell anyone else. Especially not Kara.”

“Of course! I want it to be a surprise as much as you,” Mon El insists, and falters when Lena quirks her eyebrow at him. “Well, not exactly as much as you, of course. I’m just excited. For the both of you. Not me, I won’t be there, I’ll be, ah, somewhere else. Far away, very far away—”

Lena raises a hand, shaking her head. “Mon El, just stop. Please, before you hurt yourself. Just bring it by tomorrow afternoon while Kara is at work, okay?”

“Yes, boss,” Mon El says.

**

Family has always been a vague concept to Lena.

There’s the family that exists only in the faintest of her memories—her mother—who smelled of lemongrass and citrus and hummed Etta James while making pancakes on a Sunday morning. Sometimes, like when Lena is cooking or listening to music or standing outside on her balcony just as the sun rises, those memories become stronger, like she could reach out and touch them if she only tried hard enough. But they’re still abstract at best, like they happened in a dream, or to someone else entirely.

Then there are the Luthors. Lionel, who only occasionally directed a smile her way and died when she was far too young. Lillian, who would never be proud of her, no matter how many achievements she had or trophies she won, not when she compared everything she did to Lex—the golden boy. Lillian, who avoided touching her like she carried the plague. And Lex. Lex, who was her guardian and protector in the cold, empty hallways of the Luthor mansion. Who taught her that her greatest weapon was her mind, and she could use it to outthink any opponent, to design incredible things, to come up with impossible solutions when everyone else saw only problems. And then, of course, he lost his mind and destroyed both the Luthor name and Lena’s life in one fell swoop.

So no, family has never meant much to Lena. At least, not in the way people say they would do anything for their family, not in the way people say they would die for their family, not in the way people say family is the most important thing on earth.

That is, at least, until she met Kara Danvers.

Kara Danvers, who brought a warm smile and donuts and a shoulder to lean on in her darkest times. Who brought comforting words and an unwavering belief in Lena’s goodness and strength, even when she couldn’t see it herself, and a heart that was weighed down with even greater pain and loss than Lena could imagine, yet still managed to beat freely despite the shackles of grief and anger that could so easily corrupt it. Kara Danvers, who means absolutely everything.

And with her, Kara brought Alex, who Lena now spars with once a week, followed by drinks at the bar down the street from the DEO. Kara has had to fly both of them home on more than one occasion after these excursions, despite Lena’s protests.

With Alex came Maggie, who taught Lena how to shoot, and who actually enjoys venturing out to interesting little cafes and restaurants to try the newest organic kale-based dish or ancient grain bowl. Enticed by the promise of Korean bibimbap, James had even joined them, and now they make up somewhat of a food club of National City. Sometimes Kara joins them on their lunch outings, but usually leaves halfway through and comes back with a pizza or a hotdog (or three).

Kara brought Eliza, who is more of a mother to Lena than Lillian ever was. Who Lena was incredibly nervous to meet for the first time, but wrapped her up in a hug she definitely wasn’t expecting as soon as she walked in the door, telling her it was so good to finally meet the woman Kara just would not stop talking about.

Kara brought Winn, who Lena could spend hours with talking science and computers and inventions. They’d feed off of each other’s energy, spouting off ideas and theories, and some of L-Corp’s most successful projects started off as the product of the pair of them talking animatedly over board games and beers.

And then the Universe brought Mon El, who literally fell out of the stars, to be Lena’s brother but in a way Lex could never be. Who is goofy, and warm, and needs Lena as much as she needs him.

And now, sitting with everyone around the dinner table Lena and Kara picked out together, Lena can safely say she would do anything for these people. She would die for these people. This family she has haphazardly fallen into is the most important thing on Earth.

This thought hits her as everyone tucks into the stew, all moaning and singing her praises endlessly. Kara sits by her side, catching her eye every now and then to share a private grin, her hand resting in its place on her thigh once the meal is finished.

It hits her when she curls up into Kara’s side as they all sit on the couch around Mon El, who gesticulates wildly as he tells them all about what he’s been doing since he left Earth. Since their displacement, the Daxamites have become somewhat of a nomadic people. They traverse the galaxy, establishing portals to facilitate trade and migration between planets. Mon El, himself, has stumbled into becoming a “diplomat slash explorer guy”, as he calls it, and helps set up better relations between the Daxamites and these ‘portal planets’.

As for Rhea, she opted to settle on a planet that is just one huge beach, where she spends her days being fanned by the former general of the Daxamite army, whining about a certain blonde Kryptonian and a nonexistent pain in her gut.

It hits her again as she fixes a drink for herself in the kitchen, and she looks over to see the group crowded around the TV, where Kara and Alex are yelling and half out of their seats as they race each other down Rainbow Road. Maggie makes her way over, holding up her own empty glass, and Lena smiles as she fills it with the scotch she bought for Alex.

“Great party, Luthor,” Maggie says, nodding her head in approval as she looks around the apartment. “This is a nice life you and Little Danvers have got going for yourselves. I knew you could do it, once you managed to get your heads out of your asses, that is,” she teases, and Lena rolls her eyes with a small smile.

“I should be the one saying that to you. Congratulations on the engagement, by the way,” Lena says, and Maggie beams into her glass, cheeks turning a little pink.

“I mean, a proposal wasn’t exactly what I was expecting as we were skydiving over the Hawaiian islands, but I suppose, it’s Alex Danvers, so maybe I should have been expecting it, shouldn’t I?”

“You kind of have been trying to outdo each other with the romantic gestures ever since the whole Valentines Day thing,” Lena points out.

Maggie chuckles a bit, her eyes resting fondly on Alex who is yelling “NO POWERS, THAT’S CHEATING” as Kara blows a gust of ice breath over her hands, making them lock up and Alex's Luigi falls right off the track.

“Yeah, well…she’s worth it,” Maggie murmurs, complete adoration in her voice.

Lena watches with a similar sort of expression as Kara cackles triumphantly when she crosses the finish line in first place. “Definitely,” she hums in agreement and sips her drink.

“Just look at us,” Maggie laughs, shaking her head. “We’re helpless, aren’t we? To loving a Danvers sister?” She tilts her head to the side, dimples prominent as she grins and lifts her glass.

“I’ll drink to that,” Lena chuckles and clinks their glasses together.

“Are we drinking?” Alex asks, kissing Maggie on the cheek as she trots over. She slides her hand over the small of Maggie’s back, making the detective yelp and jump away.

Babe, your hands are freezing!”

“Blame the cheater over there,” Alex mutters, shooting Kara a glare as she pours a drink for herself. “Lena, tell your girlfriend we do not condone such behaviour in this house.”

“Who am I to disparage a woman for going after what she wants?” Lena shrugs, smiling as Kara wraps her arms around her from behind, and she can feel her grinning impishly against her cheek.

“It’s working out pretty well for me so far” Kara says, pressing a kiss to the spot just below Lena’s ear, and Alex just wrinkles her nose.

Mon El sighs wistfully. “So I guess you guys just got way cuter while I’ve been gone, huh?”

“More like way grosser,” Alex grimaces, and Kara pulls a face at her. “I need a drink. What are we drinking to?” she asks, looking at Lena and Maggie. 

They both exchange a glance, cheeks turning a bit pink, and Lena quickly clears her throat and thinks of something else that won’t inflate Kara’s ego or disgust Alex quite as much.

“To family,” Lena says, looking at Maggie, Alex, Winn, James, Mon El, and finally at Kara, who looks back at her like she put the stars in the sky. “To the family we choose.”

 

***

 

Lena eyes the object Mon El has pulled from his bag critically. It’s a sleek, onyx black cylinder, and it sits upright on the table at the end of her and Kara’s bed.

“You’re sure this is the right thing?” Lena asks, arching an eyebrow at Mon El.

Mon El shrugs as he shuts the blackout blinds Lena had installed in their room. Lena blinks in the sudden darkness, taking a moment to let her eyes adjust.

“I got it from a very reputable merchant, but there's only one way to find out for sure,” Mon El says. “I’ll let you do the honours. Just open it.”

Lena draws in a breath and approaches the cylinder, rolling it in her hands before she pulls one end out. The clear glass tube slides out, and inside is a floating bright red light. Once the tube is fully extended, the room is cast in a deep red glow that makes Mon El let out a low whistle.

“Is it working?” Lena asks, looking around in wonder.

“I…I’m not sure.”

“Do you feel different?”

“Kind of? I can’t tell. Wait! I know.” Mon El drops to the floor and attempts to do pushups, and he is spent and exhausted after five. “Yep, it’s working,” he says from the ground.

Lena frowns at the device. “Does this thing make you even weaker than normal?” she asks, and Mon El shakes his head as he pushes himself up.

“No, I’m actually just really weak. What? I spent most of my life as a prince, I didn’t exactly ‘lift’ things.”

Lena rolls her eyes and crouches down, examining the glowing red orb that floats suspended in the cylinder. “A piece of a red sun,” she murmurs softly. “This will make Kara feel like she’s at home again…thank you, Mon El. You don’t know what this means.”

Mon El waves a dismissive hand and grins. “Anything to help you guys and your sex lives.”

Lena stands abruptly, blushing furiously. “We’re not—I don’t—that’s not what it’s for!” She protests, indignant until Mon El gives her a knowing look and she sighs. “That’s not all it’s for,” she mutters. “I just…want to be able to give Kara a little piece of home, whenever she needs it. I bet Alex will want to try too. Kara’s never been able to hug her properly, unless she’s affected by Kryptonite, which makes her sick, or she’s solar flared, which is pretty traumatic for her.”

“You’re so…good, Lena,” Mon El says. He steps forward and wraps her up in his arms, and Lena can feel him squeezing tighter than he ever could as he lets out a contented sound. “Yep, that’s the stuff,” he says and Lena laughs as she hugs him back. “Kara’s going to love it.”

 

***

 

“What’s going on?” Kara laughs, a little confused, when Lena wordlessly pulls her by the hand towards their bedroom as soon as she walks in the door.

Lena stops once they’re in the room, positioning Kara in the middle and giving her a quick, slightly nervous smile. “I have a surprise for you.”

“Oh?” Kara quirks an eyebrow as Lena shuts the blinds, completely blocking out the late afternoon sun. Lena feels her way back over, bumping a bit into the bed, and when she finds Kara’s hand reaching out for her in the dark, she grips onto it and draws herself in close.

“What is it?” Kara asks, voice soft and intrigued. Lena can just imagine the curious smile on her face, and her heart swells. “Is this the part where it turns out this whole relationship was a trap to catch Supergirl in your clutches? I knew you couldn’t fight your Luthor ways,” she teases and Lena rolls her eyes, giving her a shove.

“You’re ridiculous,” Lena says, shaking her hand. Kara chuckles but it dissipates quickly into an anticipatory silence that falls over them. Lena holds onto Kara’s hands, thumbs tracing across the backs of her palms before she presses up on her toes and kisses her. Kara kisses back, and it’s in that measured, controlled way she has pretty much perfected.

Kara hovers close when Lena pulls back, quiet for a moment. “Is…that the surprise?” she asks softly, the breath of her words skimming over Lena’s lips.

“No,” Lena says. She reaches back and picks up the black cylinder, then presses it into Kara’s hands. “Here. This is…this is a little piece of home. It’s not much, but…just open it.”

Lena can just make out the quizzical expression Kara wears—the way her brows pull together a bit, the slight tilt of her head, the upwards curve to one side of her mouth. And then her face is bathed in red light as she slides the tube open and she looks up at Lena with her lips parted in a silent gasp.

“Lena, is this…”

“It’s a piece of a red sun,” Lena supplies when Kara trails off. “It’s not Rao,” she continues, easing the tube from her hands, “but it should have the same radiation signature. Mon El found it for me, in a system that also has a red sun.”

Kara draws in a shaky breath, settling into her body as she flexes her hands and rolls her shoulders experimentally. “It feels the same,” she says, voice only just keeping from breaking.

“Is it—is it good?” Lena asks cautiously.

Kara swallows and nods, rubbing her face with her hands. Her glasses come askew as she rubs her eyes, and Lena gently slips them off, folding them carefully on the end table. Kara’s eyes are wet and shining when she brings her hands down, but she smiles nonetheless.

“It’s good. I haven’t felt like this in a very long time,” she says, and shakes her hands out like she’s not quite sure what to do with them. Lena smiles and folds her arms across herself, giving Kara time to acclimate and to process.

Kara closes her eyes, breathing in deep. “It’s almost like I’m there, Lena,” she murmurs, completely filled with awe and wonder and grief. Lena picks up on it and takes Kara’s hands in her own. Kara opens her eyes and drops her forehead down to Lena’s.

Lena smiles. She smiles, and notices that Kara is still so, so delicate with her. It’s more noticeable just how careful she is, now that she doesn’t have her strength to counteract. How she doesn’t trust her own hands not to crush Lena’s in her grasp, how she cricks her neck to keep her head from pressing down too hard.

“It’s okay, Kara,” Lena whispers, “I won’t break.”

She slides her hands up to lace behind Kara’s neck, and stays there, waiting for Kara to move. Slowly, Kara slips her arms around Lena’s waist and pulls her close, bodies pressing flush together. And there’s pressure, real pressure, as Kara tightens her arms and squeezes. A wet laugh bubbles out past Kara’s lips and she buries her head into the crook of Lena’s neck, and Lena can feel warm moisture on her skin.

“This feels so good, Lena,” Kara whispers. “I don’t want to move.”

Lena laughs, and it’s equal parts soft and sad and happy as Kara holds her tight. “We don’t have to.”

Kara spends a few minutes testing out sensation in the red room. She hugs Lena around her waist, squeezing and releasing before she runs her hands down Lena’s arms, interlocking their fingers together, squeezing and releasing again. It’s cautious, scientific even, like Kara still doesn’t trust her own body. But every time she pulls back with wonder that Lena isn’t hurt, isn’t in pain, is in fact still there, Kara becomes a little more assured.

Eventually she even admits that she’s always wanted to have a thumb war, but never could for fear of breaking her opponent’s thumb. So they do. Lena wins.

And Lena watches as Kara’s smile spreads across her face, stretching almost comically wide when Lena traps her thumb beneath hers, and their eyes lock while they’re wearing matching grins, and Kara pulls her forward, crashing their lips together in a way that is completely uncalculated for the first time.

Kara laughs a little, saying something along the lines of “ow, my nose!”, but Lena quickly brings them back together again, delighting in the satisfying press of Kara’s lips against hers, strong and solid and there.

And when they collapse into bed together, Lena delights in the way the press of her hands and the light scratch of her nails leave marks that don’t fade away instantly, in the way Kara actually has to pause for breath between kisses, in the way she falls asleep pressed up against Kara’s front, wrapped up so tight in her arms.

 

***

Lena settles back against Kara as she sits in between her legs, head tipped up towards the sky. They’re both on one of the deck chairs of their balcony while Mon El takes up the other one. Lena’s head buzzes pleasantly with the few glasses of wine she’s had over the course of the night, and she’s tucked up in a warm blanket Kara brought out from inside, so she is perfectly content.

“So, Mon El,” Kara says, “had any adventures of the romantic sort out there across the galaxy?”

Mon El chuckles, scratching at the back of his head. “I’ve been so busy handling everything with my people that I haven’t really had time to think about it. Why? You jealous?” he asks, with a wry smirk.

Kara scoffs, rolling her eyes. “You wish, Mon El.” She gives Lena a light squeeze, tucking her chin against her shoulder. “You wish,” she murmurs again, and Lena turns her head to the side to glance a kiss off Kara’s cheek.

They settle into a comfortable silence, gazing up at the dizzying array of stars above them. Kara’s fingers trace lightly across the skin of Lena’s abdomen under her shirt, making her wriggle a little against her and they share a soft private laugh. Lena stills Kara’s hands with her own, interlacing their fingers together with a happy sigh.

“Hey Kara?” Mon El asks after a little while.

“Yeah?”

“I think…I think I’m ready to see Rao now.”

Kara turns her head to the side, studying him curiously for a moment. “You sure?” Mon El nods. “Okay then.”

Lena feels Kara draw in a steadying breath, her chest expanding and contracting at her back, and she gives her hand a squeeze. Kara spends a few moments searching the sky until she finds it, and points up towards the heavens. It takes a little while for Lena to find the exact star Kara is pointing out, but when she does, she feels even closer to Kara than she was before.

“It’s beautiful,” Mon El whispers into the night.

“It really is,” Lena agrees quietly.

Lena feels Kara smiling against her cheek, and while she and Mon El are looking up at Rao, Kara is looking at her, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.

“It is,” Kara murmurs. “I may have lost Krypton, but…I’ve built my home here now, with my family, with you, and that won’t change. You know that, right?”

Lena shifts slightly, twisting around so she can look at Kara, see the infinite skies reflected in her eyes. “I know.” She feels Kara smile into her kiss, and she certainly does the same.

Lena rests her head back on Kara’s shoulder, looking up at Rao and all the stars in the galaxy above.

Lena doesn’t believe in luck. Or fate. Or destiny.

But she does believe in statistics, in probability.

And the odds that an heiress, a girl of steel, and a man who fell to earth would somehow find each other in this infinite universe and make each other better is just beyond calculation—seemingly all but impossible.

But the way Kara holds her close, like an anchor in an ocean of stars, makes Lena believe in impossible things.