It was her fault, she knew it was, she knows better than to use her powers. It was her fault and yet somehow Alex is the one getting lectured, Alex is the one being reprimanded, being chastised. Kara knows it's unfair, back on krypton there's no way someone who's already had their day of naming would be able to blame another for their actions. Even someone who is “responsible for them” wouldn't be to blame, because once your receive the name of your soulmate you are considered old enough to decide things for yourself. You are ready to join your guild, to do Rao’s work. Alex compared it to having a “bar mitzvah” where jewish children celebrate becoming adults. So by all accounts Kara should be the one in trouble right now. Especially because she’s the one who wanted to go flying. Alex didn’t want them to go at all but they weren’t going to allow her to go alone.
Kara paces her bedroom, her eyes scrunched closed because if she opens them she might use her heat vision, she’s that mad. Mad because if Jeremiah doesn't come home, doesn't make it back from wherever those scary agents took him, she will be to blame. They took him because they, ‘needed his help’ sure but they wouldn't have found him if Kara and Alex hadn't been seen flying. The agents showed up, threatening to take Kara away if Jeremiah didn't help them, so he left, it's been days and still no word about when he's returning. So fearing for Jeremiah and wanting to let off steam Kara asked Alex to go flying again, what they didn't expect was how mad Eliza would be when they got caught. Worse Kara thought for sure she would be the one yelled at, for once, but instead she was simply sent to her room, Alex is the one enduring the telling off that has lasted nearly an hour already. It contained words like, disappointed, reckless, failing, and stupid. Kara really didn't like that last one, Alex is far from stupid, they are a genius, and Eliza knows it.
“Why do they always do this,” she mutters pacing in a circle around her room. Alex never blames Kara, never points out that all they do is protect her. Kara listen as the lecture seems to be at the tail end, “Rao Alex just tell her it's my fault, please.” she sobs into her hands.
The two of them had been bonding lately, it's been weeks since Kara got Alex in any trouble, so she figured they were moving towards really being siblings, or being friends at least. Last night during their sibling night Alex came out to her, told her that sometimes they feel wrong in their skin, Kara nodded, understanding exactly what that’s like. They also told her how, sometimes they feel like they aren't her sister, that scared Kara a bit because she knew, deep down, that Alex didn't see her as their little sister, but they squashed that thought quickly. “Not like that, like sometimes I feel like your older brother, sometimes just your older sibling” they explained, reading Kara’s expression for signs of disappointment, or loathing.
Knowing what her sibling needed Kara pulled them in, whispering, “Alex I love you, always, thanks for telling me this, and if there is anyway I can help make this easier for you, let me know.” They stayed close, hugging, cuddling, for hours as they talked about what it means for Alex to be “non-binary,” a word Kara found on tumblr that seemed to explain what Alex was feeling.
They bonded that night, but now, Kara is sure Alex hates her again. Good little sisters don't constantly make their older siblings cry, and after a lecture like this Alex will go out on their surfboard and cry, like usual. Kara isn’t sure they know this but, Kara will listen, she always listens, because lately when Alex goes out to surf angry, they get reckless. Kara listens waiting for the moment they don’t resurface after a bad wipeout. She listens until she hears them come back inside the house, safe from themselves, at least for the moment.
But before Eliza can finish her tirade the phone rings, telling Alex they aren't done she rushes downstairs to pick it up. Kara knows she isn't supposed to eavesdrop, it's “rude” and not very fair to the person who thinks they are having a private conversation, but when she hears Eliza choke back a sob she decides to ignore the rules.
Lying down, her ear pressed to the floor, she listens to her adopted mother pace while on the phone. There's a decent amount of static but she hears words like, critical condition, and multiple lacerations and she shudders. Then it gets worse, she hears Eliza, the strongest woman she knows, one of the few people on this planet that doesn't treat her like a freak, sob, and hang up the phone. Kara stands quickly, knowing Eliza will come to her room first. She slides into bed, a book propped up on the pillow, the picture of innocence as she pretends to read, listening to the slow shuffle Eliza makes toward her door.
“Kara, sweetie, may I come in?” she murmurs, she always asks Kara’s permission to enter, strange since she never does that with Alex.
“Sure,” she calls hoping her voice doesn't betray the fact that she was listening in.
Eliza walks in, her eyes watery but her face determined. “Hey little one, I have to go out for a bit, Jeremiah is at the doctors and I am going to be with him for a while. Can you stay here with Alex?” She speaks softly, her eyes pleading even as she controls her voice.
“Of course,” she exclaims, hoping her voice is just the right amount of bubbly. Giggling when Eliza leans in to kiss her forehead.
“Okay Kara, I am going to talk with Alexandra some more, I'll also leave her some money for pizza and potstickers, how’s that?” she smiled not noticing the way Kara’s face scrunches up when she calls Alex, ‘she.’
Forgetting her worry for a second Kara lights up, “both? Yes!” her face a ray of sunshine at the thought of eating both her favorite foods. Though she settles down when she remembers Jeremiah is hurt, badly if those words mean what she thinks they mean.
Watching Eliza leave her room Kara decides to listen in, knowing Alex will get more information than she did. Sliding over to the wall that she and Alex share, she listens to their brief exchange.
She was right of course, Alex is privy to more information. Jeremiah was hurt saving his partner on a mission, he is in the ICU of Midvale Hospital. Alex is to watch over Kara tonight and if all is well they can visit their dad tomorrow. Kara holds herself tightly when she hears Alex cry, they never let people see them cry. Kara may not have a complete mastery of english yet but she knows if Alex is reacting this way then Jeremiah is in serious danger.
She wants to got to them immediately but instead she waits till Eliza leaves. Listening hard for the sound of the car exiting the neighborhood. Finally sure that she and Alex are alone she gets up from the bed, grabbing her fleece blanket to snuggle with Alex.
Just as she is about to leave the room she hears a strange sound, almost like someone punched metal. Pausing she listens hard, unsure where the sound is coming from. It repeats twice more, accompanied by a wet gasp, a gasp she knows is from Alex.
“Someone is hurting them” she whispers, her body tense with worry, super speeding her way into their room she freezes. Staring at her sibling, her eyes wide, she watches as Alex punches their bed frame twice more, two jabs in quick succession.
She’s heard of this, people who cause themselves pain. It was rare on Krypton but not unheard of. Those people were usually considered defective. Rao’s light having abandoned them, they struggle through the darkness. Kara shakes her head, it must be different here, Alex shines to brightly, there is no way Rao has abandoned them, it’s unfathomable.
Realizing Alex must know she’s here by now she whispers, “Alex?” Walking over slowly, unsure if her presence is welcome. “Alex why, why are you doing this? Doesn't it hurt?” she slides to the floor next to her sibling, her protector, pulling them in for a hug.
“Kara you can’t tell anyone about this, not a single person okay,” they whisper, their voice colder than Kara has ever heard it, though she can hear the fear as well. “Kara if anyone finds out I don’t think I could take it, please, swear to me.” they turn to her, their eyes filled with tears, more vulnerable than Kara has ever seen them.
“Okay, okay Alex, I swear, I won’t tell,” she pulls them in for a hug as they sob into her chest. She can’t help feeling like maybe she did the wrong thing, but Alex needed this she reminds herself. Alex always protects her, even when they don’t even like her. The least she can do is keep their secret.
After a few minutes of cuddling Kara’s stomach growls making Alex giggle tightly. Standing and tugging Kara up with them they offer to order dinner, telling Kara to go and pick out a movie for them to watch while they bandage their hand.
As Alex makes the order Kara heads downstairs to set things up for siblings night. Knowing that Alex likes to fluff the pillows she tosses a few of them to the side as she makes a blanket fort, ensuring the TV is viewable from anywhere inside it. Smiling at her sibling when they see the fort the two of them settle in for a relaxing sibling night.
It’s hours later, their bellies full and both Danvers children cuddled under fleece blankets, half asleep. Kara hears it first, of course, the shrill ring of the phone.
“Alex, make it stop,” she whines, pushing her sibling a little too hard in her sleepiness.
They smile at her as they go to pick up the phone, laughing as she snuggles farther under the blankets, so that only a mop of blonde hair is visible.
Sighing with relief when Alex picks up the phone, ending the ringing, Kara rolls over, planning to fall back asleep. As she drifts off her blood runs cold, Alex is crying again. They are trying to keep quiet but Kara can hear their pulse racing and their body heaving with silent sobbing.
Taking a deep breath she exits the fort, walking over to where Alex has dropped the phone in their shock. “Alex?” she whimpers, unsure what is wrong, what could possibly have happened. Fearing that whatever happened is too much for Alex to take, she stops directly in front of them, her face concerned as she meets their eyes.
“I need to go out, stay here, don’t burn the house down,” they say stiffly. Kara has never heard them sound quite like this, their voice is almost robotic. She wishes she had listened better to whoever was on the other end of the phone.
“Where are you going?” she asks, knowing they won’t tell her but worried anyway.
“I need time to think,” they turn to her with a glare. She steps back, sure, for a moment, that Alex was about to use heat vision, “don’t follow me,” they whisper grabbing their surfboard and walking out the front door.
Kara watches them leave, listening as they run all the way to the beach. She didn't realize it when they left but they went barefoot, in pajamas. She's just glad that it's not “winter” apparently winter is very cold, she knows that cold and water is a bad mixture.
She hears them crying again and she worries, groaning softly Kara listens harder, knowing she won't sleep until they make it home safely.
Thankfully they make it to the beach without incident. Kara can't hear any people near Alex so she lies down, snuggling under Alex’s blanket and nuzzling their pillow. With Alex’s scent around her and the sound of their heartbeat in her ears she lies down tears filling her eyes.
She isn't sure why she's crying, Alex is safe for now the waves sound very calm, barely strong enough to surf on. She is home, safe, and Eliza is with Jeremiah, and yet she can't shake off this sinking feeling. Something is wrong, it started when Alex hung up the phone and it's been worsening for the past hour.
Turning over in the fort she listens for the sound of Alex surfing, and doesn't hear it.
Sitting up she listens harder, listens for the heartbeat she would recognize no matter what. And she hears it, weak, racing, but so weak. Springing out of the fort she runs to the porch, shaking she considers calling Eliza, something is wrong and she doesn't know the rules for this.
Hesitating for only a moment longer she shakes her head and takes flight. Heading to the beach faster than she's ever flown.
When she lands no one is around, the ocean is as black as oil, oddly calm under the full 2am moon. “Alex,” she calls listening hard for her siblings voice, their heartbeat.
Taking off again she calls for them, flying up and down the beach, the heartbeats of all the sea creatures, the pounding of the ocean, all distractions from her goal.
She's sobbing now, realizing she could lose them. They are the only reason she feels at home on this planet, they always protect her, look out for her, love her, even when she doesn't deserve it. They need her right now and for all her superpowers she can't find the one thing, the only thing that matters.
And then it hits her, it's dark out, the ocean looks like ink, but she has xray vision. Cursing her stupidity she scans the ocean till she sees them. They are pretty far from the beach, if she had been listening better she would have known just how far out they went. But now isn't the time now she needs to save her older sibling.
Plucking them out of the ocean is easy, they weigh almost nothing to her. The hard part is seeing their blue lips, realizing their heartbeat is scarily sluggish, that they aren't breathing. If not for the shivering she might think them dead already.
She lays them on the beach, thinking hard about what she has to do. She can't fly them to the hospital, it will raise to many questions, and she isn’t sure they will make it that far. So she stands over them, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves she gives them cpr like she's seen the lifeguards do. She's careful, knowing she could break their sternum if she isn't in perfect control.
After what feels like hours Alex coughs up the water, more water than Kara thought their small body could hold. As they take shaky breaths, their body pale and shivering, Kara pulls them close. Picking them up she whispers, “I'm going to fly us home,” accepting what she thinks is a nod, they are shaking to much for her to be sure,she takes off for home.
They are still shivering, even with the blankets she gave them. Their heartbeat is so much weaker than normal, and their breathing is slow, shallow, like they can't fill their lungs. She is scared for them, they seem so sleepy but are fighting it for some reason. So she paces, considering their options, “Alex I am calling 911” she decides as they lay on the couch, the 3 fleece blankets not seeming to help at all.
“K-k,” they stop frowning at the inability to get her name out, “K-kara, n-no, I, I b-be fine” they slur that short sentence sapping even more of their energy.
“Dammit Alex!” she yells tears falling from her eyes, “let me help you! Let me save you, because I refuse to stand here and watch you die,” she chokes back a sob, looking at Alex, who is avoiding her gaze. taking a deep breath she continues, her voice icy like she learned from them. “You may not give a damn if you live or die, but you know what Alex, I care. I care about you so much, enough to save you even when you don't want to be saved.” she glares smiling cruelly as they shirk under her gaze.
Turning from her sibling she call for an ambulance, happy that Eliza made sure one of the first things she learned was their address. Telling them that her older sibling arrived home shaking, and wet after surfing she waits, hoping she explained the situation properly.
Seeing that the blankets aren't helping their shivering she pulls them into her lap, wrapping them up in her arms she sings a kryptonian lullaby, telling them to sing with her to keep them awake since every time she tells them to sleep they shake their head.
It feels like ages before the emts arrive, pulling Alex from her arms and loading them onto a stretcher. She hears them whisper, “acute hypothermia,” and she doesn't know what that is but it makes her shake.
They ask her if anyone is home and she shakes her head, hoping the tears in her eyes will convey to them that she has to go with them. Nodding to his partner one of the emts walks over to her. He has a really kind face she thinks before realizing he is asking her a question. “what are your names?” he asks as his partner loads Alex into the ambulance.
“I-I’m Kara and that's Alex, where are you taking them?” she whispers glaring at the idea that they would take Alex alone, they need her.
“I am taking you both to Midvale Emergency Hospital Center,” he says gesturing for her to slide into the seat in the back of the ambulance. Nodding solemnly she walks over and sits down, glad they can watch over Alex.
She is glad the hospital is close, the ride over only taking a few moments. though it worries her when they tell her she can't be with Alex right now. Her “sister,” she frowns when the paramedics call them that, is going to be taken care of, right now she needs to call her parents. A nurse leads her over to a chair, offering her cell phone to use as Kara shakes slightly, she left her glasses at home and the hospital is over stimulating.
After a couple tries she gets Eliza on the phone, turns out this hospital is connected to the ICU where she is, though it's a huge building so it could take a while to find her. She tells Kara to sit tight and she will get to them as soon as she can.
Thanking the nurse Kara pulls her knees up to her body, her heels on the front of the chair as she cries. Alex was hurt, dying and she’s the one who let them go out surfing. It was dark, dangerous, why didn't she stop them, she thinks, tears dropping onto her still damp pjs. She had changed Alex’s cloths but not her own.
About twenty minutes later a nurse with a kind face walks over to her. “”Hi little one, is your name Kara?” she asks smiling sweetly when she nods. “Alex is looking for you, want to see them?” she asks smiling as Kara jumps up from the chair. “okay follow me.”
They walk into a room that has a few beds, though each bed has a curtain around it. It takes only half a second for her to hear Alex’s heartbeat, though she waits until the nurse steers her over to the last bed.
She opens the curtain and sees Alex smiling up at them, “you saved me, you have no clue what to do in case of hypothermia, but you saved me!” Alex smiles up at her.
“Alex you could have died!” she whispers, her voice hard. “Why are you so reckless?” she asks, her blue eyes watery.
“But I didn't, you came after me, even after I told you not to.” they look down, eyes filling with tears. “When I was underwater, when I knew I was to weak, to tired to pull myself up I thought of you Kara. I didn't think you'd come, that you finally gave up on me. I push you away over and over and you still show up. Even when I want to give up, to quit you-” they sob, avoiding looking into her eyes.
“Alex,” she waits until they look up at her. “Alex no matter what, nothing you do or say will make me not come after you. I will save you, always.” she whispers her voice full of conviction.
“Even if I got dad killed?”
She freezes, unsure she heard them right but from the look in their eyes she is sure she did. “Alex” she whispers her voice full of questions, and worry, and a twinge of fear.
“Alexandra!” they both flinch at the name as Eliza comes barreling into the room, her face a mask of worry, though the anger is clear in her eyes when she sees Alex lying in the bed. “Alexandra I can't believe you left her th-”
“No,” Kara slides in between her earth mom and her sibling, the glare in her eyes so hard she is afraid her eyes might be glowing with heat vision, but she doesn't care at the moment.
“Kara?” Eliza whispers, confusion taking over the anger,“wh-”
“No!” she turns back to Alex, grasping their hand. Making her voice as hard, as cold as she can she speaks, glaring at Eliza as she grasps her siblings hand, channeling all the fury she’s ever seen them wield. “Let them rest! They nearly died tonight, I know that was you on the phone, I don't know what you said to them but I know you won't be speaking to them now.” she glances back at Alex hoping this is okay, barely registering the slight squeeze of their hand. “You want to yell at someone, yell at me, you blame Alex for everything, put so much on their shoulders they can barely breath. They nearly drowned tonight just trying to find the space, the time to catch their breath.”
“A good older sister wouldn't have-”
She feels the squeeze hears the skipping of their heart when Eliza says sister, but she continues glaring. “Alex is the best older sibling on the planet, no in the entire universe! They give so much, and time and time again and you never seem to think they give enough, well I am drawing the line. They are not well, they need rest, let them be!” she glares knowing her eyes are glowing now as Alex tugs on her hand.
“Kara, it's okay” they whisper knowing she can hear them, even this mad, she always hears them.
Turning back to Alex she mutters, “It's not Alex, I could have lost you tonight, your my best friend, my only friend, I can't lose you.” she sobs staring into their eyes.
Alex looks up at Eliza, she’s watching them, her face confused, but also happy. She whispers to Alex, walking over to rub Kara’s back briefly, “You two will be okay here while I talk to the doctors?” she looks between them as Kara sits up, her eyes still full of tears.
“Of course we will, Kara will watch over me, she's my best friend too” Alex mutters, reaching for Kara’s hand again. Kara simply nods to Eliza turning all her attention towards watching Alex fall asleep.