When she wakes up, the first thing she sees is the face of her mother, brown hair falling down around her shoulders as she leans over Kara.
“You’re awake,” her mother’s voice says, and it freezes Kara to the bed in shock.
Suddenly, a new face joins her mother’s and she nearly gasps when she sees her father. As it is, her throat closes up a bit and she chokes on air. “How are you feeling, honey?”
Silence stretches over them as her brain tries to process what exactly is happening. Her parents. Together. Smiling over her like everything's normal again.
“Am I dead?” is the first thing she can think of to ask and her father genuinely laughs in reaction while her mother’s brow furrows.
“No, sweetheart,” her mother says, running a palm over her forehead, stroking back her hair. “But you gave us quite a scare.”
Her memories feel all jumbled together and incomprehensible. A quick glance around them indicates she’s in some kind of hospital room. “I did?”
It’s her father that hums agreement, his smile wry when he nods. “You probably have some groveling to do with Lena.”
The name shocks her even further, especially hearing it fall out of her father’s mouth, and she feels her chest pull inward as she tries to ask, “L-L-Lena?”
Her parents wear matching expressions of confusion and her mother reaches out to touch the back of her hand to Kara’s forehead. “Are you suffering from some form of amnesia?”
The door to the room suddenly opens and Kara’s heart squeezes abruptly when a perfect looking Lena Luthor strides into the room. Lena’s face breaks into a wide, easy smile when she sees Kara and her pace quickens to get to Kara’s bedside.
“Lena?” Kara asks again in a breathy, disbelieving whisper.
Lena’s brow pulls down, but her smile doesn’t falter as she comes to sit at Kara’s side. “The nurse told me you were waking up,” Lena says and this time it’s Lena who presses the back of her hand to Kara’s head as if checking for fever. “How are you feeling?”
It’s way too overwhelming for Kara to properly process. Her gaze gets caught on staring at a face she hasn’t seen in person in nearly three years. Lena looks perfect and just the way she remembers her - her hair loose around her shoulders, legs clad in dark wash jeans, and a dark long sleeved soft looking shirt across her chest.
“Lena,” is all she manages to say in a reverent tone, and just like that the familiar sound of a heartbeat thuds against her ear drums so loudly her eyes widen in reaction.
Lena’s smile starts to pull down and she glances over to where Kara’s parents are watching them from the side of the room. “Is she okay?”
Her mother responds, but Kara can’t hear it. It feels like her head is drowning in the feeling of seeing her parents again and of having Lena so close to her and wearing a smile.
Unable to really believe this isn’t all some kind of weird mirage, Kara reaches out slowly until she’s fingering a small strand of Lena’s hair just to see if it’s real. “It’s really you,” she says. Lena’s hair is soft, and she looks so beautiful. Kara hears her father laugh.
“Maybe I should get the doctor.”
Confusion still feels like it’s leading the race in her head and she turns to where her parents are standing. “What happened? I don’t understand.”
“You flew a thermobaric bomb into the inner atmosphere and the explosion knocked you out,” Lena explains in a steely voice that Kara reacts to, sitting up a bit. “You’ve been unconscious for nearly a week.”
That doesn’t explain all of the questions in her head and she finds her eyes ping-ponging back and forth between her parents and Lena. “How are you here?” is the question she settles on, gaze landing on her parents.
With a quizzical tilt to her head, her mother responds, “As soon as Lena called us we got on the first flight out here.”
Kara blinks. “But you died,” she says. “On Krypton.”
Her father steps forward with a familiar crinkle in his brow. “Kara, what are you talking about? We made it off Krypton.”
As he says it Kara’s brain twists around conflicting memories. The last image of her mother’s face before her pod launched off Krypton, an unfamiliar image of her parents settling in similar pods next to her. The real and the fake seem indistinct for a moment.
Lena’s hand slides over the bed until it’s gripping at Kara’s and the soft warmth of it distracts Kara so thoroughly that she forgets to respond for a moment.
“Your head just needs some time to recover,” her mother says as she moves forward and presses a soft kiss to Kara’s temple. “We’ll leave you two for now.”
When her mother pulls away, her father takes her place and repeats the gesture.
All Kara can do is watch as her mother walks over to where Lena’s standing up next to the bed and the two women hug like people that have known each other for years.
“You know where we’re staying,” her mother is saying to Lena and Lena nods, kissing Allura on the cheek. “Hug my grandbabies for me.”
“I will,” Lena says warmly before moving to hug Zor-El and Kara feels her throat go dry at the word grandbabies and what it implies.
Just the sight of Lena hugging her parents - a sight she was positive she’d never ever see outside her dreams - is doing something to her insides. Is this the first time she’s seen this? Or has she seen it a multitude of times? Her brain shuffles through images so rapidly that she can barely make sense of it.
Kara doesn't know what to say. What’s real and what’s not?
But then Lena turns to her with smiling eyes and her hand reaching out. It glints in the sunlight coming in through the window and Kara’s eyes zone in on the familiar watch around Lena’s wrist. The light catches something else next that makes Kara’s heart feel like it stutters in her chest.
There’s a ring on Lena’s finger. A ring Kara’s never seen before. Her eyes stare at it for long enough that Lena moves her hand forward. “Ready to go home?” She asks and when Kara extends her hand slowly outward she sees a matching ring on her own finger.
It’s a dream. It has to be.
It’s not like she hasn’t had this dream before. The one where Lena’s still there and they’re married and happy and-
When she slides her palm over Lena’s it feels too real to be a dream, but even if it is, Kara feels like she no longer cares.
The apartment Lena takes them to is completely foreign to Kara, but when she walks, in it’s clear they live there. Kara’s supersuit is draped casually over the back of the couch, a pair of black heels she knows she doesn’t own are kicked off near the door and there’s an empty coffee cup next to a laptop sitting on the kitchen counter.
Lena drops her bag off on a kitchen stool and walks towards the fridge. “Are you hungry? I’m sure we have something.”
Before Kara can respond, a soft pattering of footsteps interrupts them and Kara turns to see a small child running and giggling and heading straight for them. His hair is jet black and a little wild around his face. Kara jumps back in surprise which gets a strange look from Lena, but it passes the minute the child hits Lena’s legs.
From the exasperated look on Lena’s face and the exaggerated way she bounces backward, the child is familiar to her.
It doesn’t take long for Kara to start to connect the dots. Her mother’s voice saying grandbabies rings in her head and suddenly the small boy, whom Lena has lifted into her arms, is calling Lena ieiu in perfectly pronounced Kryptonian.
Kara can only stare at them as the sound of the child babbling away in her native language pierces into her ears. Lena is smiling indulgently at him, nodding along with whatever he’s saying. Kara can’t even process any of it because Lena is holding a child and every single thing she’s seeing is screaming that this is their son.
As if on cue the boy turns in Lena’s arms and spots Kara, his face brightening considerably and his small arms reaching out and squirming in her direction.
“Take your son, Kara,” Lena orders with a teasing laugh. “Before he breaks my arm.”
Kara’s body reacts to that even if her eyes go wide with fear and surprise. The boy all but leaps from Lena into Kara’s arms and settles against her body like he’s done it hundreds of times before. His little hands clutching around her neck and his head nestling against her shoulder.
Memories come to her then. Or at least she thinks they’re memories, but it feels more like watching a movie of her own life than revisiting something she’s actually experienced. This is her son. Her and Lena’s son. The memory of his birth, his first steps, his first words, teaching him the language of her home planet, watching-
Another voice comes from down the hallway and Kara nearly jumps out of her skin.
“Liam!” Winn’s voice all but shouts out, but he’s smiling as he staggers into the room. He looks immediately to where Lena is now opening a bottle of wine and sends her an apologetic laugh. “Your kid is squirmy.”
“We all know who he gets that from,” Lena says wryly as she pulls the cork out of the bottle and starts to pour some in a nearby glass.
Kara’s struck between the child now sleeping against her shoulder and the way Winn drops into a kitchen chair and takes a glass of wine when Lena offers it.
“Laura’s asleep,” he says, “But I couldn’t get that one into bed until he saw you guys.” He grins at Kara over his glass. “Glad to see you’re back with the rest of us, Supergirl.”
The bewilderment must show on her face because Winn’s smile fades into a confused frown and he looks back at Lena. “She okay?” He asks her out of the side of her mouth.
Lena sets her own glass down and with a slight look of concern walks over to Kara. “Here,” she murmurs, putting her hand outs. “Let me put him in bed.”
The boy - Liam, Kara remembers - is snoring softly against the skin of her neck and Lena transfers him over to her own arms with the kind of ease that indicates familiarity with the motion. Kara wonders idly how often they’ve done this.
Lena walks out of the kitchen then, whispering softly in Kryptonian when Liam shuffles a bit in her arms.
That leaves her alone in the kitchen with Winn and all she can think to do is move towards Lena’s abandoned glass of wine and take a large gulp. It won’t do anything to calm her nerves, but it feels like something to do at least.
Winn watches her silently for a moment. “You okay?” He asks, fingers playing with the stem of his glass. “When Lena texted, she said you had some gaps in your memory?”
The gaps are still there, but they feel like they’re slowly beginning to fade. For whatever reason, Kara feels like she doesn’t care as much about the fact that she doesn’t recognize this apartment and she apparently has children she’s struggling to remember.
“I think it’s coming back,” she tells him, because it does feel like she’s remembering some things.
“Well that’s good,” Winn says and he takes a sip of his wine, smiling.
Lena reenters the kitchen and Kara feels incapable of doing anything aside from stare at her. It feels less shocking than when she first woke up, but it’s still startling to see Lena this close again. It’s been almost three - has it been three years? Or did she see her just yesterday? The timeline is all jumbled in Kara’s head.
“Are you okay, darling?” Lena asks striding straight to Kara’s side and twisting an arm around her waist. Her palm slides over the small of Kara’s back and settles at her hip and it feels so warm and good that Kara just gives into it. Pushes thoughts of figuring all this out to the side.
“Yeah,” she says and her body does what’s natural. She presses a warm kiss to Lena’s temple and hugs her back.
“Well, now that you two are home, I’m off,” Winn says, throwing back the rest of his wine and standing.
“Thank you, Winn,” Lena says with a warm smile and Kara lets the comforting feeling of being surrounding by people she loves settle over her.
Winn exits - or did he just stop being there - Kara feels like her brain hasn’t caught up to a normal processing speed, but Lena distracts her from concern over that when she twists in her arms and puts a hand at Kara’s cheek.
“Tired?” Lena asks, her thumb stroking under Kara’s eye.
It’s starting to feel more routine to be this close to Lena again, to be in this apartment that she’s also starting to recognize, and so she pushes forward and kisses her - her - this is her wife. The girl who proposed to her a week out of college with a ring she bought on her first paycheck from Luthor Corp, who told her to go out there and stop the plane. The love of her life.
With the kind of ease bred from familiarity, she feels Lena’s arms come around her neck and Kara wraps her own around her waist and picks her up into the kiss. Lena’s smiling and Kara’s chest feels warm and content and everything is perfect.
She doesn’t get lost on the way to the bedroom. Her body knows exactly where it is, and she walks them that way through the apartment. It stops feeling so confusing when Lena’s hands dance on a path down Kara’s chest, pulling fabric away from skin and undressing her deftly.
“Hey,” Lena says softly, when Kara pushes them onto their bed. “I love you.”
It thrums belonging over Kara’s skin and all of her earlier confusion just washes away in a swift rush. Everything is fine, her mind whispers to her. Everything is right.
The next morning, when she wakes up, it’s nothing like it was the day before. There’s no shock when Lena’s hand runs across her abdomen, the warm metal of her wedding ring marking a path across it, or her foot curls around Kara’s thigh.
It’s not even surprising when she hears the noise of their son through the walls of their apartment and then their daughter from the sound of it. Three heartbeats singing into her ears as familiar to her as her own.
Her hearing stretches out towards it all as her body wakes up and Lena presses in closer to her. “Our minions awake?” Lena mumbles into the skin of Kara’s neck and she laughs.
“I thought I wasn’t allowed to call them that,” Kara teases and she rolls to her side until she’s facing her wife.
“You’re not,” Lena says with a smile. “But those rules don’t apply to me.”
“And why is that?” Kara asks, enjoying the way the sunlight streams into the bedroom, plays over Lena’s hair and catches on her watch when Lena raises her hand to stroke fingers over Kara’s brow playfully.
“Luthors are above rules,” Lena says and Kara grins.
“Aren’t I a Luthor too?”
It makes Lena laugh - this brilliant, joyful sound that pounds against Kara’s heart. “On a technicality,” she replies.
“The best technicality,” Kara says feeling like if she never left this bedroom she’d live out the rest of her life ridiculously happy. Lena smiles at that, her heartbeat skipping along when she shuffles closer and presses a warm kiss to Kara’s lips. The feeling of Lena’s skin against hers is as incredible as it’s ever been, and she’s so happy.
The sound of their children catches in her ears again, breaking through the warm experience of waking up with her wife and Lena sighs - recognizing the slight quirk of Kara’s body as she registers the noise.
“I’ll go take care of that,” Lena says with a pat to Kara’s hip as she rolls out of bed. “You go make coffee.”
“On it, boss,” Kara jokes as she vaults off the mattress and super speeds some clothing back on.
Lena laughs as she plucks her own pair of shorts and a t-shirt out of a nearby dresser. “See, that’s why you’re all my minions,” Lena teases before pressing a kiss to Kara’s lips and striding out of the room.
Kara heads to the kitchen, finds the coffee in the fridge and starts to boil water as she listens to Lena softly talking to their son and then their daughter. The morning feels like a million other mornings, but despite the routine nature of it, Kara’s chest feels light and happy and she just wants to stay in it forever.
Lena comes into the kitchen just as Kara’s stirring water into the french press and she’s holding a tiny bundle in her arms. Laura, her memory supplies, just as Liam comes scampering around Lena’s legs and bumps into Kara with a happy giggle.
“Morning, little man,” Kara says, setting the coffee down to bend and pick him up. He’s murmuring in an incomprehensible mix of English and Kryptonian and Kara nods along as if she can follow any of it. His eyes are bright blue and he grabs for her wrist, his small fingers plucking at the metal bracelet wrapped around it.
“I told your mother we’d have lunch with them today,” Lena tells her as she moves through the kitchen, Laura settled in the crook of her elbow.
“Sounds great,” Kara says, happy at the prospect of seeing her parents again. It’s been nearly three weeks since - has it been three weeks or has it been longer? It goes hazy for a second in her head until she shakes it off.
Lena’s pulling food out of the cabinet as a cell phone rings on the counter. “Will you get that, darling?”
Still bouncing Liam on her hip, Kara moves to the phone and sees who’s calling. “It’s Lex,” she tells Lena, picking it up and answering. “Hey Lex.”
“Hey, Kara,” and the sound of his voice spikes something in her brain - like she should be remembering something significant, but can’t quite draw it into her consciousness. “Good to hear your voice. We were all worried.”
“Thanks,” she says. “Just a little bump on the head.”
It feels - wrong - somehow, but the words come out anyway. That’s what happened, right? She fell out of the sky and went into a healing coma? Or something.
“Well, Lena didn’t think so. We watched you take care of the bomb from Luthor Tower. She was out of her mind.”
Kara looks over to where Lena’s cooing at the baby in her arms as she goes about fixing breakfast. “She worries too much.”
“It’s a family trait I’m afraid,” he replies with an exaggerated sigh.
“How do you explain your mother then?” Kara jokes and Lex laughs.
“Is my lovely sister there?”
“She is, but she’s preoccupied at the moment,” Kara says and Liam tries to grab for the phone against her ear. It requires some artful dodging to avoid his hands - he’s much stronger than Kara had realized - but she manages.
Lex laughs. “Is my nephew giving you trouble?”
“As always,” Kara says with a smile as she sets the squirming child in her arms down and he just clings to her leg, hands clutching at the fabric of her sweatpants as he smiles up at her.
“Well, tell my sister that the parts she ordered for her new bot came in and they’re at the office whenever she decides to grace us with her presence again.”
“I will,” Kara says as Liam abandons Kara’s leg in favor of scrambling over to Lena with a happy ieiu bursting from his mouth in repeated little pops.
“Thanks. Good to hear you up and about, Kara,” Lex says and with that the call disconnects.
Setting the phone down on the counter, Kara returns to the now finished coffee and opens a nearby cabinet to pull out a set of mugs.
Lena’s laughing, their children are laughing and it makes Kara start laughing as she pours her wife a cup of coffee and slides it to her across the counter. “Thanks,” Lena murmurs, pressing a grateful kiss to Kara’s lips. Their son bouncing between them and their daughter still cradled in Lena’s arms.
Kara pushes in closer just because she can, enjoying the feel of Lena’s smile against her lips, before she moves away to pour her own cup of coffee.
A second before it happens, Kara’s hearing picks up the disturbance in the happy sound of her home and she zooms to put her body between the front door and her family as the entryway bangs open so abruptly that she feels Lena jump behind her.
A woman comes walking into the apartment, gun drawn and she knows who this is. She knows but the information feels out of reach, like she’s trying to fly through kryptonite fog.
“Kara!” The newcomer explains and she has a gun drawn forward. A threat, Kara’s mind registers milliseconds before Alex bursts forth into her mind.
“Alex?” Kara asks and just like that the contentment of earlier is replaced by confusion.
“Kara, we have to get out of here,” Alex is saying and Kara can’t figure out why Alex has a weapon and looks scared standing in the entryway of her apartment. Alex’s eyes are darting around, looking at Lena warily, like she doesn’t recognize her, and everything feels like too much.
“Get out of here?” Kara asks incredulously, and she feels Lena’s fingers grip into the fabric at her back just as Liam bumps his little body against the backs of her legs.
“None of this is real,” Alex says emphatically and Kara’s temple starts to bloom in pain.
“What are you talking about?” Lena says from behind Kara and her voice is strong, laced with steel. Kara turns enough to catch the angry shadow over Lena’s face.
Alex doesn’t react to Lena, just keeps her eyes trained on Kara and her gun halfway raised in front of her. “Kara, you’re suffering from the effects of a creature called the black mercy,” Alex says and Kara keeps her arm out to shield Lena when she feels her wife shift to the side. “It’s created this illusion to incapacitate you.”
“Incapacitate me?” Kara asks and there’s something that wants to make itself known in her mind, something telling her that everything isn’t as perfect as she previously thought, but she fights against it. Lena’s heartbeat is loud in her ears, and so are Liam and Laura’s.
“Kara,” Alex says lowly, and this time her eyes do dart to where Lena’s standing, a pained expression on her face. “I’ve come to take you home.”
The word threads tension up Kara’s spine. “I am home,” she responds.
“You have to reject the fantasy,” Alex tells her and when Lena shifts again this time Alex draws her weapon up fully, trains it on Lena and Kara just reacts . Instinctual more than anything.
The gun is in her hands and pointed towards Alex in a heartbeat and she tells Lena to, “Get the kids to the bedroom.”
Lena does as instructed, ushers Liam out of the kitchen with a, “Let Mama take care of it.”
“Kara, listen to me,” Alex says, hands up defensively and within seconds - eerily - fast, Lena is back in the kitchen. It’s so abrupt that it startles Kara when she speaks.
“Don’t listen to her, Kara. I don’t know what’s wrong with your sister, but something isn’t right.”
It’s a logical explanation for why Alex burst into the apartment with a weapon and her brain accepts it without protest, but Alex takes a step back and says, “It doesn’t want you to listen to me because it’s afraid of what I have to say.”
“She’s lying,” Lena snaps and it no longer sounds entirely like Lena anymore. Confusion takes its grip back on Kara’s mind and she pinches the bridge of her nose. “Kara, take care of her before she hurts herself or any of us.”
The order is so foreign that Kara just blinks at Lena for a second.
“This isn’t real,” Alex repeats. “I wish it were, but it’s not. Lena left, remember?”
“She’s lying,” Lena says. “I never left you. We got married after college and moved to National City-”
“Kara, listen to me,” Alex interrupts and Kara’s brain feels like a million different strings are pulling at it in different directions.
Suddenly the voices of her parents ring out from behind her and she twirls to see them standing together on the other side of the kitchen. It’s strange...or is it? Were her parents there the whole time? “Something’s wrong with Alex,” her mother says. “We should take her into a doctor.”
A desperate look is on Alex’s face when Kara turns back. “I’m sorry, Kara, I’m sorry,” she’s saying. “This isn’t real. You lost your parents when Krypton exploded-”
“She’s lying,” her father interrupts this time and Kara looks to Lena for some kind of guidance, but her wife is just standing with her arms crossed watching the exchange.
“I know it’s hard,” Alex says. “I know you miss them.”
“I’ll call J’onn,” her mother says. “We’ll get a team over here and take Alex in.”
“Kara!” Alex shouts even as her mother holds a phone to her ear and starts talking. “You have to remember.”
Kara’s eyes stay locked on Lena who uncrosses her arms and paces forward to take Kara’s hand. “Let’s get Alex some help and then everything will be fine,” she says in a calm, soothing voice that Kara can’t help but respond to.
“I need you to remember,” Alex is pleading and Kara tears her eyes away from Lena to look back at Alex. Everything feels so hard, like her head is swimming. “I need you to remember our life. It’s not perfect and it’s hard and you’ve lost so much but I need you to remember.”
The memories in her head gets jumbled and the image of Lena in front of her starts to crossfade with the way she looked at the airport in college when they last said goodbye.
They said goodbye. Didn’t they?
“Kara,” Lena’s voice is saying, trying to pull her back in, but Kara finds herself fighting it.
The apartment feels like it starts to shake and a picture frame across the room falls off the wall and shatters.
“Remember, Kara,” Alex says again, emphatically, and the gun in Kara’s hand starts to lower away from her sister slowly. “If you don’t reject this illusion we will be in here forever until the black mercy kills us.”
A pained, pinched expression goes over Lena’s face and Kara doesn’t know what to do. Can’t decide what to do.
Her parents come up to flank her and her father sets a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s get Alex some help.”
“J’onn is on his way,” her mother says and just like that a team of DEO soldiers enter the apartment and immediately grab for Alex who struggles against their hold.
“Kara, no!” Alex screams and Kara is fairly certain her head is going to explode. Her eyes feel hot with pain and everyone in the room is looking at her expectantly. Her gaze floats back to Alex and the room shakes again, a bookshelf overturns, glassware in the cabinets fall over.
Lena’s hand is still holding hers, their fingers tangled and she looks down to stare at the watch on her wrist, the ring on her finger. Her chest tightens painfully.
“I know it’s hard,” Alex says and when Kara looks up she’s still fighting against the team of agents trying to hold her back. “I know how much you want this. And I wish so much that I could give it to you, but it’s not real. The world needs Supergirl to come home.”
The last bit causes both of her parents to sway back a step with a look of pain on their expression and Kara feels helpless.
“I need my sister,” Alex continues and Kara looks back at Lena, studies the way her eyes look and her hair, the steady sound of her heartbeat echoing in Kara’s ears. “ I need my sister.”
Tears pool up in her eyes as the memories start to shift into order, as she remembers the last time she got to see Lena like this, the last time they kissed. It’s like reliving it all over again, and she drops the gun she’d been holding to take Lena’s cheeks in both of her hands. “I’m sorry.”
“No,” Lena says, shaking her head with tears of her own in her eyes, and Kara’s heart wants to take care of her so badly that it’s a struggle to remember that it’s not real. Lena’s hands wind into Kara’s hair, their foreheads resting against each other. “Stay with me. Don’t leave.”
“I’m sorry. I love you,” Kara says, the words thick as the rest of the apartment starts to physically fall apart around them. “I love you so much.”
She looks around a moment to where her parents are watching her. “All of you,” she adds. “I don’t want to leave, but I have to.”
“Kara,” all three of them say in unison and Kara knows she can’t wait any longer - she doesn’t have the strength for it.
“I love you,” she murmurs once more before kissing Lena swiftly, just because she still can. Lena pushes into her so sweetly that it aches somewhere deep in her chest and Kara can taste tears in the kiss and it feels so real even though it isn’t.
“We’ll see each other again,” she says with a conviction she’s forced herself to believe in for years.
“We can’t let you leave, Kara,” her father says in a dark, commanding voice and when she turns his eyes are black. A look at her mother shows that hers have gone the same and she doesn’t dare look at Lena. Doesn’t want to see that on her face.
A massive tremor resonates throughout the entire room and it breaks her away from Lena just in time for Alex to push free of the men keeping her in place. This time Kara doesn’t hesitate, knows she can’t afford to, and she scrambles towards her sister.
They’re inches apart when the world goes white around them and reality snaps back into existence.
Winn is the first face she sees as the bright lights of the DEO medical bay blur into focus, but she can’t think about anything except the cold void in her chest making itself known once again. She rips the mask off her face and sits up on the bed to see the creature - the black mercy - shriveling on the floor.
Her eyes are hot with emotion, her whole body humming with the agony of re-experiencing the greatest losses in her life.
It’s a dark, angry need for vengeance that bubbles up in her chest so violently that she’s barely able to stamp down the glow of her eyes when she turns towards the room. “Who did this to me?”
Alex, who doesn’t look much better than Kara feels, is the one to answer. “Non.”
There’s only one thing she can think of doing so her next question is obvious. “Where is he?”
It feels satisfying to hear Non’s face crunch under the weight of her fists as she pounds him into the ground and shakes him with a rage she’s never felt so acutely.
“You made me lose them again,” she bites out as her fist cocks back and swings at him. “My parents, Lena, everything.”
He’s no match for the hot white anger that’s powering her movements and even the pained sounds he makes as she hits him in the chest, the stomach, the jaw, doesn’t relax any of the tension. Not even when she throws him across the space and he thuds against the ground. She’s sure that even killing him won’t make the pain go away.
“You’ll pay for that,” she tells him darkly as she stalks towards him and kicks him hard enough that he flies a few feet in the air. “And if you think I’m going to roll over and let you take Earth too…” she laughs incredulously. “You’ve got another thing coming.”
He’s on his side, clutching at his ribs and looking at her with scorn. “You have the hubris of the great House of El,” he says, spitting the words out like they’re dirty. “Humanity is a disease. Myriad is the cure.”
It stops her for just long enough that he’s able to fire off his heat vision and Kara turns to see the massive satellite dish not too far from them break off its base and start to fall. She has no choice but to abandon Non in favor of preventing its fall.
Non escapes, but she doesn’t have time to deal with that because Alex’s worried voice comes over the comms and she knows instinctively that her pain isn’t over tonight as soon as Alex utters, “It’s Astra.”
Her aunt dies in her arms, with tears in her eyes and hands on her cheeks and Kara thought the ache of loss couldn’t get any worse, but it does as Astra’s body goes limp. She listens as her heartbeat fades to nothingness.
It reminds her, unbidden, of sitting in the regional airport three years ago, listening as Lena’s heartbeat drifted further and further away until it disappeared.
It drains every ounce of strength out of her and she feels her heart shatter so entirely that she’s positive it will never get put back together.
Alex refuses to let Kara be alone - and James and Winn agree with her - so they all accompany her back to her apartment. She’s exhausted. Her hands ache, and she feels - nothing.
James orders food on the way there and Winn makes them stop to get ice cream and Alex’s hand in her own is the only thing keeping her from crying again.
It feels like she can’t look at James and she doesn’t want to acknowledge why.
It’s not much better to see Winn because all she can think about is the way he sat at her fantasy kitchen counter and drank a glass of wine Lena poured him. Or the way he casually spoke to Lena like they’d been friends forever and the way he apparently babysat their children.
The fantasy still feels too real even as she steps into her actual apartment and watches as James walks to the fridge to pull out a six pack of beer and Winn throws the ice cream in the freezer. If she closed her eyes, she could picture Lena rounding the corner, her parents knocking on the door.
“You okay?” Alex asks softly as they stand in the kitchen and the boys head to the living room to pick a movie out.
“Yeah,” Kara says softly, and it’s a lie, but Alex looks like she doesn’t know if she should push back.
“Hey, guys, come on,” Winn says from his spot on the couch. “James has terrible taste in movies and I need your help.”
Alex rolls her eyes and it makes Kara laugh.
“You sure?” Alex asks on a deep inhale and a squeeze to Kara’s fingers.
“Yeah,” Kara nods, squeezing back. “I’ll be even more okay as soon as a potsticker is in my mouth.”
It makes Alex smile and she concedes with a laugh as she turns to join the rest of their friends on the couch. Kara watches them a moment and can’t help the way her hearing wanders, reaching out across the cacophony of city noise.
It stretches away from the apartment, directionless in the absence of that one familiar heartbeat, and falls short with nothing to cling to. She gives a half a second to her imagination, knowing the softness with which Lena would take care of her now, after Astra...
Kara closes her eyes for just a moment to shake the feeling off her body and walks towards the couch with a practiced smile. She hopes it’s convincing.
That night, after Alex and Winn and James leave after multiple assurances that she would be fine alone, she sits on her bed and stares outside at the sky for long minutes before she ventures into her closet seeking an object she hasn’t seen in over a year.
It’s in a box in the very back.
Most of the things that remind her of Lena aren’t hidden. There’s a picture of their favorite bench from college in the living room, a blanket that used to occupy Lena’s bed thrown over a chair, and a stack of books Lena had left in her dorm years ago sit on her shelf. Lena hasn’t been absent from that part of Kara’s life, but this box - this box holds the few things that Kara can’t stand to look at or think about for too long.
Not if she wants to go about functioning like a normal person.
It’s tucked away, wrapped in a worn red t-shirt and on top of a tattered copy of Brave New World.
Having not picked it up in over a year, the weight of the small metal bracelet is somehow surprising in her hands, but it feels just as significant as it always had.
It’s cold, but warms up the moment Kara touches it and she closes the box to bring it back out into the bedroom.
The memories are still there. The fantasy ones.
The ones that include a proposal that never happened, a wedding, children, her mother hugging Lena warmly. She twists the bracelet in her hands, lets the moonlight catch against the metal.
The sight of Lena’s smile in the morning dances across her vision and the sound of her laughter rings cruelly into her ears.
Her hearing stretches out again into nothing.
When she pulls at it, her fingers hooked in its ring on both sides, it only gives the slightest bit. She can see the molecules, nearly breaking and forming again, bonding back together. Stronger together.
Years later and it's still unbreakable.
It makes Kara smile despite herself even as hot tears start to well in her eyes.
“I miss you,” she says to no one, the words soft in the emptiness of her apartment.
Instead of putting the bracelet back in its box, she sets it on the bedside table, watches it for a long few minutes when she lies down.
When she falls asleep, she wills herself not to dream.
On the other side of the country, Lena Luthor shifts in the middle of her sleep.
A dream plays across her eyelids. A familiar one. The kind of dream she hates to wake up from.
Kara is laughing, whispering in her ear, lifting her off the ground and into a kiss. “I love you,” Kara will murmur into her lips and Lena will smile.
When she wakes up, her hand is already halfway across the bed, reaching for someone who isn’t there, hasn’t been there for years. The bare skin of her wrist mocks her where it sits against the mattress, fingers stretched out over the sheets.
The silence of her bedroom pushes in on her head and she blinks against the sudden threat of tears in her eyes. The restraint of it clenches her hand in the sheets and she picks herself up out of the bed, twisting her hair up off her head and scraping her palms over her face to wipe away the emotion.
If she can’t sleep, she’ll just work.