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Monster in the Mirror

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You are a genius, she reminded herself for the tenth time that hour. You are Lena Luthor.

She needed to figure this out. Lives were at stake. A hospital full of children depended on her and on L-Corp. And more cases were pouring in every hour.

But even though she was a genius she felt so stupid sometimes as she did now as she stared at CDC reports and lead readings in the atmosphere. Too many times in her life the answer had been right in front of her and she had failed to see it. Like she should have known she was a real Luthor. The signs were there. The odds of her being adopted by a random family where each member also had such a high level of intelligence were slim. Add that to the fact that Lillian had not wanted to adopt Lena and no agency would have let a couple adopt a child if one of the potential parents was so vehemently against it. She even had the same nose slope as Lionel and Lex. No, the signs had been there that she was Lionel’s child and she had missed them.

She shook her head and tried to focus on her computer screen. Now was not the time to question her heritage. Again. Being a Luthor was complicated at best but this did not feel like it was directly related to her name or her family.

No, Edge was doing this just to spite her. Her name simply made people believe his lies with greater ease.

Edge was vile and greedy. As if that wasn’t enough he also harbored a deep unrelenting hate for strong women, and Lena had become one of the strongest in National City. Not Supergirl strong but strong in the public’s eye. She had done so much through L-Corp to make her name mean something above how Lex and Lillian had previously tarnished it. And Edge was trying to undo it all. Defaming her and her company in the press, pointing the finger at her when anything in the city went wrong. And now he was leading the crusade against her once again, only this time there would be collateral damage.

“Lena?” Kara’s voice was worried and Lena realized that this must not have been the first time Kara had called out her name.

“Hey, Kara, I’m sorry.” Despite her situation, no matter how bad it all seemed, Kara’s presence made everything better, and Lena felt her heart stutter pleasantly at the sight of Kara standing in the doorway of her office at CatCo in a well-coordinated blue outfit. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail, a stray strand framing her face. Kara always had a special smile for her, one she never gave to anyone else. And Lena knew that for a fact. She had studied Kara’s smile so much she could write a dissertation on it. So when Kara gave it to her now she fell just a little more in love with her best friend, and it amazed her how she could feel anymore love than she already did for Kara. Unrequited love but love nonetheless, something she never thought she would feel again. “I didn’t hear you come in. Between Edge, the lead poisoning cases, being shot at, and the break-in at L-Corp, I’m a little distracted.”

“I can tell. You’re not letting him get to you, are you?” Kara asked, nodding to the television screens behind Lena’s desk where Edge’s press conference from that morning at the children’s hospital was replaying on the evening news.

“I’m trying not to but when you’ve heard how evil you are this many times in your life one does start to wonder.”

“No, Lena,” Kara insisted as she dropped to her knees next Lena’s chair and took her hand. She wanted more than anything to take her into her arms and kiss away the stress and anxiety that was written on Lena’s face. But no matter how high that desire was things were too complicated between them, at least on Kara’s end. Two years of pining and she still couldn’t love this woman the way she wanted to. Two years and her superhero identity still stood firmly in their way. Would there ever be a time that she would be able to confess her love? Not that she expected someone like Lena to ever love her back. “You are nothing like what Edge is making you out to be. You saved the city and the world with that lead bomb and the people of National City are grateful.”

“Until it started poisoning their children.” Lena could hear Edge’s words repeat in her mind. I’m not the monster that poisoned children. That was all you, Lena.

“We don’t know if it was the lead bomb. There has to be another explanation.” Kara shook her head because in her heart and in her gut she knew this wasn’t Lena’s fault. She wasn’t sure what other explanation it could be but she knew that she trusted Lena and Winn and the tech they had modified for the bomb, even if it had originally been designed by Lex as James unceremoniously reminded her that afternoon.

Lena scoffed. “What else could it have been?”

“I don’t know but even if it was the bomb, Supergirl is just as much to blame. Maybe even more to blame than you. But still, you both saved the city and we can figure out how to fix this.”

“Maybe it’s my fate. Maybe I’m supposed to be another villainous Luthor. I’m the monster that poisoned children. Even Lex didn’t do that,” Lena said as the tears started to build. She had held it in all day but now her body felt like it couldn’t do it anymore.

Kara brought Lena’s hand to her lips and pressed a gentle kiss to the top of it. This simple act of love would have to do for now. “You are good, Lena. You are so good and nothing will ever change that.”

Lena smiled through the tears as two finally tumbled down her cheek. “You know, when you say it I almost believe it. I know you would never lie to me.”

Kara’s eyes fluttered closed. This lie, this secret identity, was going to consume her. Eat her whole and ruin everything they had built. She needed to come clean but it was too late to do so now without major ramifications. When she opened again and looked into Lena’s trusting eyes, she felt the bile of guilt surge up and it took everything in her power to swallow it back down and return the smile to the woman she loved. She quickly dropped Lena’s hand and stood. “I should let you get back to work.”

“Thank you, Kara. For believing in me. It does mean a lot to know I have at least one person on my side.”

When Kara reached the elevator, her head thumping against the back wall as the doors slid shut, she tried to get in control of her guilt but the voice in her ears was taunting her. The cold sneer played over and over again, and sometimes, just like now, she could have sworn Lillian was right next to her, hissing in her ear. Eventually she’ll find out on her own. Find out you’ve been lying to her all this time. And when she does, she’ll hate you for it.

************************************************************************************

I didn’t do this. It wasn’t me.

Lena gripped the steering wheel tighter as she tried to convince herself to do this, though with the wine coursing through her veins it didn’t take much to do that. Edge Technologies loomed above her and the car, most of its lights were out as its employees had left for the evening. But his light was still on. He was still there and most likely alone. The ideal situation for her.

She pulled the gun out of the middle console of her car. It was too heavy in her hands and she felt clumsy with it. Checking to make sure the safety was on, she opened the car door and tucked the gun in the back of her pants, pulling her jacket over it so no one would see it was there.

It wasn’t me, she told herself again as she slammed the car door shut and walked across the parking lot.

The relief and happiness that she had felt when Kara had called to report that her and Sam had found out it was a chemical in the water at a local pool that had poisoned the children was short lived. It lasted all of ten seconds before the rage set in. Rage at the innocent lives caught in the middle of their feud, rage at yet another attempt to drag her through the mud. She knew the company that made the chemical. She had seen it on the list of his subsidiaries in his portfolio. At times her genius may have failed her but rarely did her memory. It was on the list; she didn’t need to check it to confirm that.

It wasn’t me. She repeated this with every step she took and before she knew it she found herself at his door. The rage was now a tidal wave that couldn’t be stopped and for a brief second she wondered if this was how Lex had felt. Was this what it was like to be consumed by darkness? If it was, then she could almost sympathize with him. Almost.

“Jesus, Lena, you look like shit. Are the poor children actually pulling at the cold Luthor heartstrings?” She was on his turf and he knew he had the upper hand on her. He was always two steps ahead of her and that thrilled him to no end. So much for her being one of the world’s smartest. This game of cat and mouse was getting to be too easy, really.

She pulled the pistol from her back and aimed it right at his face. Her hand was steady and everything felt clear for the first time in so long. This answer wasn’t hiding from her. No, this answer was clear. Killing him would solve everything.

“I thought I was the monster, but really it’s you. You’re the monster and you will always be.” Her voice dripped in disdain. In any other situation she would have been shocked sounding so much like her adoptive mother in this moment. But if she was honest to herself, this felt natural to her. Hating with such a passion that it consumed her every thought.

Edge stood from his chair and put his hands casually in his pockets as if he was about to take a light stroll rather than a bullet to the head. “You don’t have to be an actual monster for people to think it. Granted you seem to destroy everything you touch. And whether you like it or not, Lena, no one will ever trust you. No one will ever believe a Luthor. You may have Supergirl in your back pocket, saving you left and right, but no one really trusts you. How much did that cost you by the way? Hiring a cape to save your ass every time you do something stupid. Or is it Supergirl’s way of keeping a close eye on you, faking an alliance with you and waiting for the moment you really do screw up.”

Every interaction between her and Supergirl now flashed through her mind. Could he be right? Was Supergirl keeping tabs on her? If she was also to blame for the lead bomb why was she letting Lena take the fall? Why wasn’t she on the news giving the public a different perspective? The gun shook slightly in her hand now as she questioned everything. “You’re a coward and a pig,” she spat at him, try to focus on the task at hand. She would have to deal with these Supergirl thoughts later.  

“Maybe so. But none of that will matter when you’re behind bars.”

“It’s funny that you think I am the one that is going to jail.” An evil sneer took hold of her face, her confidence coming back to her. “But I have you now. Acre Lee.”

“What about Acre Lee?”

“It’s a company you own. One that manufactures the synthetic compound that was dumped into that pool that mimicks lead poisoning.”

“Not anymore. In fact, I sold it a little over two years ago.”

“Convenient but that doesn’t matter. I know it was you. And you deserve to die. No trial. No jury.”

Edge laughed at her. He looked too calm and collected as he sat on his own desk, his arrogant face radiating pride for his actions. “You won’t kill me and you have no proof. But I do. The police will have all the proof they need to send you to prison after the lead bomb goes off from the top of L-Corp. The exact design as the first bomb that you rigged to send the Daxamites away in fact. Everything will be traced back to you.”

Lena’s blood ran cold. “You...you’re the one who broke into the L-Corp labs...”

Edge gave her a victorious smile. “Well, not me personally. In less than half an hour,” he looked down at his watch, “National City will have a thousand more lead poisoning cases all tied back to you. Good thing Edge Technologies already has the antidote.” He picked up a small medicine bottle and tossed it between his hands. “I’ll come out looking like the hero and, of course, will gain a nice profit from it.”

The gun shook even more in her hand this time. He was going to do it again. Pit the city against her and ruin her. And he would get away with it.

Do it. Shoot him.

But she had to stop the bomb.

Her arm lowered. No matter how much every fiber in her being told her to end him, the safety of the people of National City was too important.

He laughed at her again. “See? So weak. Your brother would have shot me by now. Your mother too. How does it feel to be the weakest Luthor?”

She spun from him and hurried from the office, his laughs echoing down the hallway after her. Eventually she’d get him and put an end to his terror on her and this city. Eventually.

“You’ll never make it in time, Lena,” he shouted after her as another sinister round of laughter took over him.

The drive to L-Corp was a blur. When she pulled into her designated parking space she wasn’t actually sure how she had gotten there. Her mind had been so fixed on the bomb, on what Edge had said about no one trusting her, that her instincts must have taken over to get her safely to L-Corp. The elevator ride to the top floor and then the climb of the roof’s access stairs also didn’t register to her. It wasn’t until she stepped out in the crisp air, the wind howling across the roof, that she realized where she was.

She looked over the roof for any sign of the bomb. She checked behind air conditioner units and utility panels, in the storage room that held some maintenance equipment. Nothing. With her hand on her hips in frustration she slowly turned and re-evaluated the roof again. She was running out of time. It had to be here somewhere.

Then she looked to the top of the crane that was secured to the roof. It had been there for weeks used by the construction crew tasked at fixing the parts of L-Corp that were damaged in the Daxamite invasion. And there, in the middle of the crane’s jib, was the bomb, its metal gleaming in the moonlight.

************************************************************************************

Kara called Winn as she pulled away from the curb in front of Sam’s house. She had dropped Sam back off to sit with Lena and told her she’d come back in the morning to take up her shift of Lena watching so Sam could go to work. It felt nice having someone else helping her care for Lena. It made her happy knowing that Lena had people she could rely on and who cared about her well-being. Lena had always talked about how lonely she had been when she first came to National City but now that her and Kara had become closer and Sam had moved here to help with L-Corp Lena finally had a family.

She selected Winn’s contact on her phone and put him on speaker. “What can you tell me about the chemical?”

“Not much else from what I told you when you sent me the sample. It’s synthetic and when combined with water it can cause similar symptoms as lead poisoning for anyone who comes in contact with it.”

“Rao, and these kids were swimming in it...” She felt her hatred for Edge grow. She should have dumped him in the ocean, not on that ship the last time she saw him.

“It’s pretty fucked up,” Winn said in agreement. “I bet that the kids who are the sickest are the ones who were actually in the pool. Some of the lighter cases, the kids who are already being sent home, probably just got it from indirect contact like touching a bleacher that had the pool’s water on it.”

“So we need to be checking water. Pools, ponds, lakes–”

“J’onn has sent a DEO team to the water supply reservoir and NCPD is helping us check out all the local public pools and parks.”

Kara sighed in relief. “Okay, good.”

“But that leaves us with the problem of atmospheric dispersion.”

“What do you mean?”

“If someone put this in a bomb like we used against the Daxamites or leaked it out of an airplane over the city, any of it getting into the air, then it would coat the whole city in this stuff.”

“But you said it only activates when mixes with water.”

“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.”

Kara’s stomach knotted. “If it got out and then rained it would...”

Winn whistled as she finally understood what he was trying to say. “There would be no stopping it. Even if people stayed out of the rain, the rain water would drain into all of the sewers, the bay, the creeks...everything would be contaminated.”

“I need you to,” the buzzing of her phone stopped her and her eyes narrowed at the phone when she saw that it was Sam, “I need you to run a scan of the city, see if you can pick up any trace of a large stockpile of this stuff. Text me if you find anything.”

She clicked over to Sam’s incoming call and heard frantic breathing and Sam calling out Lena’s name.

“Sam? What’s–”

“Lena isn’t here. I’ve looked everywhere and she’s gone.”

“What?!”

“Kara, I walked in and she wasn’t on the couch but the bathroom door was closed and the light was on so I thought she was in there. But then she didn’t answer my knock and after a few minutes I went in and she’s not here.” Kara could hear Sam tearing from room to room in search of Lena. “There’s no note. Nothing. And she isn’t answering her phone. You don’t think Edge...” She didn’t want to finish that sentence, didn’t want the horrific possibilities to register in her head.

Kara pulled her car over to the side of the road and braked hard. Breathe, she told herself. You can find her.

“Sam, can you go check her apartment? Maybe she wanted to be in her own place and is asleep and that’s why she isn’t answering her phone. I’ll go check L-Corp. She might be there trying to work on the antidote for the lead poisoning.”

She did a U-turn as she hung up and sped as fast as she could to L-Corp. Every few seconds she pressed Lena’s contact but got no answer like Sam had said. Just four or five rings until Lena’s voicemail picked up.

A wave of relief rushed over her as she pulled into L-Corp’s parking garage and saw Lena’s car sitting in its place but she knew she’d feel even better having visual contact of Lena. She needed to see with her own eyes that she was safe. Pull her into her arms and never let her go.

She willed the elevator to move faster as it crept up to the CEO’s office on the top floor. At one point she debated bursting up through the elevator on her own but she had already destroyed one elevator this year and had trouble explaining it so instead she watched the digital floor numbers change with irritation. When the doors at last opened, she let herself move quicker than normal to Lena’s office knowing that Jess would not be here at this hour and therefore she’d have no witnesses. But she found Lena’s office empty, the soft glow of the desk light the only thing of interest in the empty space. Her heart pounded and she now understood Sam’s frantic behavior earlier, sympathizing with the dread that Lena’s absence brought.

Calm down. Breathe. Focus on Lena.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The sounds of the cleaning staff met her ears and then the sound of cars outside the building. The more she focused the more she picked up on the intricate noises. The gurgle of pipes in the walls and the hum of the electronics throughout the building. But then she found it. The heartbeat that would always be like music to her ears. It was beating too fast. Lena was close but something was not right.

Kara pulled her glasses down and scanned the building, not seeing Lena at all. She didn’t know what made her look up, some sort of sixth sense for Lena, but she did and what she saw made her mouth run dry and her heart plummet.

************************************************************************************

The metal of the crane’s base was cold under her bare feet. She had kicked off her heels before climbing up on to it knowing she’d never make it to the top with them on. Every step up the crane’s mast made her uneasy. She wasn’t scared of heights but the wind that whipped at her face was like an omen that this was too dangerous for her. But the thought of even more sick people and the fact that she would be blamed and Edge would get away with it again washed away all her nerves, and that determination to stop him kept her climbing.

Her muscles ached in protest as she continued to climb but at last she was finally within arms reach of the bomb. From what she could tell she would have to remove it from the crane. That would be the only way to stop it because she wouldn’t be able to disarm it in its current position.

“Lena?! What are you doing?!”

Lena looked below her and saw Kara standing on the roof underneath the crane. Now she definitely needed to get to the bomb. If Edge’s more potent chemical would make people as sick as he was anticipating she couldn’t risk Kara being exposed and taking the brunt of the substance being this close to the bomb. She had to keep Kara safe, and the rest of the city too. “I have to stop it. I–”

The entire device lit up. An electronic hum filled Lena’s ears and lights shone from around the container.  

No, no, no!

The device was just out of reach. She leaned as far as she could. Her arm wrapped around the crane’s rigging was all that was keeping her from the hundred foot drop to L-Corp’s roof. Her fingers grazed the back of the bomb right where it was connected to the crane.

Just a little further…

The blast of compressed air as the device initiated its explosion sequence startled her. Her hand slipped on the crane’s rigging and she tried desperately to gain some grip on the device or the crane. But her feet, too, lost hold as her upper body was no longer supported by her arm.

And then there was nothing beneath her. Nothing but air and the disappointment that she had failed as she fell.

A loud umpf! escaped her mouth as something collided with her mid-air. She opened her eyes to blonde hair blowing in her face and smiled. It would all be okay now. Kara had gotten Supergirl and everything would be okay.

They landed hard but in controlled fashion. The relief Lena felt in Supergirl’s arms doubled as her feet met solid ground.

“Supergirl! The bomb it’s–”

She looked to the hero’s hands and saw that she already had it. She must have grabbed it before catching her, or while catching her. It didn’t matter though because they had it and could stop it. But it wasn’t the sight of the bomb that stopped her in her tracks. It was the blue flats that matched blue pants. It was the light blue polo and the blue plaid jacket that held her attention before windswept blonde hair and glasses rendered her silent.

The device shook and whizzed in Kara’s hands. Blue lights flashed from its corners and another round of compressed air burst from the sides. Ignoring Lena’s face full of hurt and distrust, she asked, “Lena, how do I stop it?!”

Lena looked away from Kara’s face down to the bomb. Edge had stolen Lex’s original design and had replicated it with considerable accuracy. “You...you need to jam the dispersion door.”

Kara spun the bomb in her hands until she saw what Lena was referring to. She pushed her glasses up onto her forehead and let the heat spill from her eyes, welding the door shut so that it would not open. The bomb shook violently one more time followed by a loud pop, but then it fizzed out there in her hands and finally became silent. None of the chemical escaped. She dropped the bomb to the gravel roof top and took a step toward Lena. She went to cup Lena’s face, grateful that she wasn’t hurt, that Edge hadn’t taken her and that she had been there in time to stop her fall. “Lena, are you okay?”

But Lena slapped her hands away. For every step Kara took forward she took two backward. God, it had happened again. She had missed the signs. The strange absences and leaving lunch and meetings in a rush and how Kara always knew what Supergirl thought or did. Kara Danvers sent me...I was getting coffee with Kara Danvers . She was so stupid and had missed every indication that her best friend was Supergirl. “Don’t! You’ve been lying to me this entire time!”

“Lena, let me explain.” She grabbed one of Lena’s hands, trying to comfort her in anyway she could.

But Lena ripped her hand away as if she had been grabbed by fire. “No! Edge was right...No one will ever trust me...Not even my best friend!”

“That’s not why. Please just let me explain!” Kara tried once more to keep the distance between them close but Lena kept backing away from her with her hands outstretched in a defensive stance.

Edge’s words rung out in Lena’s mind. Or is it Supergirl’s way of keeping a close eye on you? “Stay away from me!” Everything was a lie. Everything over the last two years was a lie .

“Lena–” Kara started when the sound of the DEO stomping up the roof access stairs stopped her.

The roof access door opened and a group of agents, led by Alex, emerged, guns pointed and ready for action.

“Kara? Is everything alright?” Alex’s eyes flashed between the two of them. It felt like she had stepped into the line of fire. The air was tight with tension even forty stories high.

“Yes. We stopped a bomb.”

Lena acted like Alex wasn’t there. Her eyes were trained on Kara’s face, still oozing distrust. “How did you even know I was here? Are you following me?”

“No!”

“And I’m supposed to believe that, Supergirl?” The superhero’s moniker was spoken with venom.

Alex stepped between the two of them. “How did you know the bomb was here?” she asked Lena, ignoring for now the fact that Kara’s superhero identity had been exposed.

“I went and confronted Edge and he told me he planted it here.”

“Why would Edge tell you about the bomb?” Alex shook her head as she tried to understand the day’s events. “Why give you a chance to stop it?”

“Maybe he knew she’d come here alone and risk her life to stop it,” Kara spat. She was so angry at Lena, all her previous worry for her had seeped away quickly. She could have died. She was so stupid sometimes. She didn’t even think what losing her would do to her or her friends or her company. “How’d you know we’d be here?”

“You told Winn to scan the city for large traces of the chemical and L-Corp popped up so we came to investigate. I didn’t know either of you would be here.”

“Winn? The guy who helped me with the first lead bomb?” Lena asked in frustration. “So let me guess he works for you,” she pointed to Alex, “and I’m guessing you don’t really work for the FBI?”

Alex only bit her lip in response.

Lena let out a irritated laugh. “This is just great. Everyone I know is a liar.”

“Alex?” Winn’s voice rang from the COMS. “The scan is picking up a really large chemical signature.”

Alex turned from Lena and Kara and cupped her fingers around her ear so that she could hear him over the wind on the roof. “Where?”

“A small airstrip. North end, right outside of city limits.”

“Send a team and we’ll meet you there.”

“What? What is it?” Lena asked in confusion, not being part of the COMS transmission herself.

“We think we found more of Edge’s chemical,” Alex reported.

Lena slipped on her heels and straightened her jacket. “I’m going with you. I’m not letting him get away with this.”

“No, Lena!” Kara crossed her arms and stepped in front of her, obstructing her path to the access door.

“You don’t get to tell me what to do. Not after,” she gestured at Kara and then around at the roof as she brushed past Kara and Alex, “not after all of this.”

Alex grabbed Kara’s shoulder and pulled her back from pursuing Lena. “Lena knows the design of the bombs and she knows more about lead dispersion since she made the first one. She can help us disable anymore possible bombs that Edge might have made.”

“Alex!” She spun on her sister in disbelief. “She almost killed herself stopping this one!”

But Alex gave her a sharp look and which silenced the protest. “Let it go. She may be able to help us stop Edge. Then you two can deal with whatever this is.”

************************************************************************************

The airstrip was quiet when they pulled up to the security gate. A small aircraft raced down a runway in the distance, the whirl of its engine soft as it echoed off the hangars, before its nose tipped up and its wheels left the ground. Other than the plane’s takeoff nothing else seemed to be moving across the facility. Alex spoke with the security advisor on call and they were given permission to search the hangars though they were assured nothing was out of the ordinary.

Lena had been silent the entire ride over. She had watched with a distant look on her face as the Kara Danvers persona was shed and Supergirl emerged in the seat next to her. Kara had tried several times to start a conversation with her, most likely to continue their argument from L-Corp’s roof, but Lena kept her silence, refusing to be a participant in a battle that she didn’t quite know how to fight yet. In her silence she analyzed and then reanalyzed every situation, every interaction between her and Kara and her and Supergirl. How had she never noticed how Kara barely missed Supergirl everytime, like at the gala for the children’s hospital? Why did she not suspect something when Kara would look up at a television screen, see a disaster, and then excuse herself? I flew here on a bus. Lena cringed at herself and her stupidity. Her genius had failed her yet again.

The truck came to a stop and the agents who had sat in awkward silence, their eyes darting between the two women, jumped at the chance to leave the tension behind. The truck’s back door was thrown open and they all piled out onto the airport’s parking lot.

“Will you please stay in the truck?” Supergirl asked softly as she stood to exit the vehicle. “We don’t know what we’ll find here and I don’t want you hurt.”

But Lena ignored the plea and pushed past Supergirl as she climbed out. This was more about stopping Edge rather than proving a point to Kara, though that was definitely a piece of it. She had a mission to stop and Edge and she wasn’t going to let Supergirl get in her way.

Alex came around from the front of the truck and then ghosted behind Lena as she received instructions from Winn. She watched as another small airplane took off on the runway before turning her attention to what Winn was trying to describe.

“It should be in the hanger right in front of you,” he said.

“There are four hangars in front of us, Winn.”

“This scanning system isn’t perfect, Alex. You are in the general vicinity, that’s all I can see from here.”

“Alright, we’ll keep you updated.” Alex turned to Supergirl and the rest of the DEO team. “The chemicals should be somewhere around these four hangars. Break off in twos, stay alert, and report any suspicious activity. Supergirl, can you take to the air and give us some cover?”

Supergirl had already taken a few steps toward Lena, intending to pair with her to keep her safe. And when she went to argue, Alex shook her head.

“I’ve got her,” Alex assured her. “You, up please.”

Though the disappointment radiated from her, Supergirl took off as she was told and circled the airport.

Alex checked her plasma pistol and rolled her shoulders. When she was ready she turned to Lena and instructed, “Stay close to me.”

Lena did as she was told and crept along the side of the hanger with Alex right in front of her.

“So who do you work for exactly?” Lena asked as her and Alex looked through the hanger windows.

“The Department of Extranormal Operations or the DEO. You’ll be briefed now that you know Kara’s identity.”

“Are you sure the DEO wants to brief a Luthor?” Lena sneered.

Alex put her arm on Lena’s and stopped her. “Lena, please give her a chance to explain herself. Kara’s secret is complicated. Much more than Superman’s. She wasn’t a baby when she got here. She was thirteen, she was already her own person. She has struggled juggling Kara Danvers and Kara Zor-El,” Alex let out a laugh of irritation, like the answer to all their problems laid in that reason alone, “and she’s still dealing with that duality. Her becoming Supergirl only made it worse. Just let her explain. I don’t even fully know her reasons for keeping this from you for so long but I know she has them and that she never meant to hurt you.”

Lena nodded. She didn’t make Alex a promise to do so but she knew that she was right. Kara deserved the chance to explain herself even if Lena didn’t like the answer. They were adults and they were friends. One way or another they could get past this. But it was the possibility that losing Kara out of her life was going to be the price she would have to pay in knowing the reason. If Kara hadn’t told her because she didn’t trust her then how could they ever make their friendship work?

“Thank you,” Alex said. She ran her hand up and down Lena’s shoulder and was happy that Lena didn’t pull away from her. “Will you stay right here? I’m going to go in and do a perimeter check.”

“Yeah. I’ll stay right here,” Lena affirmed. She stepped back from the hanger door and let Alex disappear through it.

Minutes went by and Lena eventually turned and evaluated the airport. The cargo plane on the tarmac a hundred yards away soon caught her attention though. The logo on the side of the plane was dirty but it looked like the Acre Lee symbol. She slowly made her way toward the plane and the closer she got the more sure she was that it was that symbol. Her fingers wiped at some of the dirt and soot and the logo was now clear. She was right, it was an Acre Lee plane. She turned and looked back to the row of hangars and didn’t see any of the agents or Alex. She didn’t want to cause alarm if this was nothing and decided to check the inside first before she went and got Alex.

The door to the plane was unlocked and she heaved herself up the steep siding to enter it. Inside she found the chemicals. There were at least a dozen barrels of the compound and if it was a potent as she thought it could be it would be a devastating blow to any water source that people relied on.  Other than the barrels, the plane appeared empty. She made her way to the cockpit and still found no one. But just as her eyes started to register what was in front of her, the automatic controls that enabled this plane to fly without a pilot, the plane turned on and its engines rumbled. Before she could do anything it lurched forward and she fell back against the cockpit wall.

Alex stepped out of the hanger and rounded the corner to where she left Lena. “It looks clear but...Lena?” She looked all around but saw no sign of her. All the other teams had radioed in that everything was clear, meaning that the chemical that Winn’s scan had picked up on was not in the hangars but somewhere else in the airport. “Winn, there is nothing here.”

She heard the clicking of Winn’s keyboard on the COMS and then his expletives. “What? What is it?”

“Alex, the chemicals are on the move. They are leaving the airport!”

She spun and looked for a truck but didn’t see any but that is when she saw the cargo plane lift off the runway, headed straight for the reservoir. “Kara? The plane...the chemicals are on the plane,” she looked around once more for Lena and then made a correction assumption, “and I think Lena is too.”

Supergirl had tried to stay out of the airspace where the planes were taking off and landing, not wanting to disrupt the airports business. But at Alex’s frantic report she spun in the air and flattened herself, hitting some of her fastest speed in pursuit of the plane.

On the plane, Lena had made her way back to the cargo holding when her mayday call went unanswered. She prayed that Alex or Supergirl would realize what happened before it was too late. But when the cargo door opened and the pallet of chemicals slid as the payload was released, those thoughts were quick to leave. She’d have to stop this on her own right now. She grabbed a metal rod from the plane’s siding and jammed it in the releasing device. With all of her strength she tried to hold on to the rod but she knew she wasn’t strong enough to keep it in place for very long.

That didn’t matter, though, because Supergirl flew into the plane through the open cargo door and past her, a blur of red and blue. She grabbed the lever for the cargo door and flipped it. Lena was able to keep the rod in place long enough for the door to shut.

Lena whipped around to Supergirl. “It’s Edge. These tubs have to be filled with the same–” Before she could finish, the plane tipped forward and she fell into the hero who kept her from completely falling to the plane's bottom.

“They’re going to crash the plane!” Supergirl shouted. “Lena, strap in! I’m going to try to blow the engines!”

Lena tried to do as she was told but before she could fasten the seatbelt, the sharp sound of metal ripping distracted her. The pressure Supergirl was putting to keep the plane up was compromising the hull and it was splitting in two. Within a second the plane did break in half. Lena felt her body slide sideways off the bench. Her hands tried to find something to hold on to but they easily slipped through the cargo netting. She fell the short distance to the wall that separated the cockpit from the rest of the plane, it now serving as the floor as Supergirl struggled to keep that half of the plane in the air now that it had fold down.

“I can’t hold both!” Supergirl screamed down at Lena. She looked between the two pieces of the plane, one with Lena and the other with chemicals, and realized that she’d have to ditch one. It wasn’t that they were too heavy but that the two pieces were too awkward to keep up like this. She could feel her fingertips slipping through the metal and knew that one side would have to go so that she could get a better grip on the other. If only they weren’t over the reservoir. If they were over a random field she’d dump the chemicals and have Alex send in a hazmat crew. But that wasn’t the case. The universe was making her choose between the city she vowed to protect and the woman she loved. And she refused to let it force her to pick one over the other.

Lena, though, tried to make that choice for her. “Save the chemicals. Drop me!”

Supergirl shook her head and pulled both sides up a little higher, trying to get a better grip. “No!”

“Just do it, Kara!”

“I’m not losing you! Now climb! Climb up to me, please!”

The anguish on Supergirl’s face, the fear of the situation, made Lena collect herself. In that moment she knew that they deserved to work this out. She didn’t want to lose Kara and didn’t want Kara to have to lose her too. With every step she climbed up toward Kara, she felt more determined to get out of this situation and make Edge pay for it all. She got nearly to the top but ran out of space to climb. There no more netting and no more ridges in this part of the plane for her to use.

Supergirl realized this too and knew they would only have one chance to do this. “You have to jump. You can do it, Lena! NOW!”

Lena didn’t even hesitate. On Supergirl’s command she used all of her strength to propel herself upward as far as could. For the second time that night she felt nothing beneath her and for the second time her hero caught her. She looked up and saw relief on Supergirl’s face.

“I’m going to need you to climb up some more so I can get us down safely,” Supergirl shouted over the wind. She curled her arm to help Lena get higher and then wrapped her arm around Lena’s waist once Lena had wrapped her own arms around Kara’s neck and shoulder. Only then did she start the slow descent across the reservoir to the open fields.

The half of the plane with the chemicals groaned as it hit the ground. Supergirl pulled Lena closer as she flew them in a lateral direction so that the rest of the plane would slump on the ground. Lena’s feet finally touched grass and her head fell forward, resting on Supergirl’s shoulder as a sigh of relief escaped her lips. They had done it.

Supergirl went to wrap her other arm around Lena but at the sound of the sirens rushing toward them in the field Lena backed away from her.

“Lena?” Supergirl’s voice was full of hurt and it took everything for Lena not to turn and rush back to her arms. But she needed a moment to figure this all out and kept on her path toward the flashing red and blue lights, leaving the hero alone in the field.  

************************************************************************************

Lena leaned against one of the governmental trucks. Her presence all of a sudden went unnoticed. A medical unit had checked her over and deemed that she was fine but now agents flitted past her without a single thought to her. Everyone had a job and a purpose. Everyone but her. So she stood and waited. She wasn’t sure quite yet what she was waiting for, though.

A half an hour later Supergirl slowly made her way to the truck Lena had adopted as her home in this chaotic scene. “The chemicals are secure and we have teams confiscating it from every plant that Acre Lee uses. We’re going to get it all before Edge poisons anyone else.”

“And what about Edge?”

Supergirl’s eyes went to the ground and she shook her head. “We don’t have enough to charge him. He cleaned his tracks pretty well.”

Lena pushed herself off the truck and crossed her arms. She knew that this wasn’t Supergirl’s fault but it felt good to have a target at this moment for her anger. “So he’s going to get away with it again?!”

“We will get him. I promise you that. I promise you I will do everything in my power to bring him down.”

Lena scoffed but her features softened. Despite the valley she felt between them now she was relieved to know Kara was still firmly in her corner in that regard. “Will you just fly me home? Please?”

When Supergirl offered her arm, this position becoming all too familiar to them, she took it without hesitation. But she could feel the gaze of the federal agents around them as they moved closer to one another. What did they think of this? Did they all think like Edge? There goes Lena Luthor with her superhero-for-hire.

She slid into Supergirl’s arms, feeling her feet lift from the ground as Supergirl tucked her in close. She stared over the hero’s shoulder, past the agents and the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles. “Thank you,” she whispered, “for stopping the bomb and saving my life. Twice.”

Supergirl nodded. “You know I’d do anything for you.”

Lena wanted to tell her not to say things like that, things that made her want to love her more than she already did. The lies hurt but the love was still there. She loved her more than she had loved anything else in the world. She wanted to be angry. She wanted to scream and yell, and beg for an explanation for all of the lies. But it was Kara in Supergirl’s uniform. It was soft and sweet Kara, the Kara who had saved her more times than Supergirl ever had and in many more ways than the hero ever could. They would have to deal with this and it would most likely strain their relationship but she couldn’t lose Kara; she needed her in her life.

“You came too close tonight, Lena. You almost died. Twice.”

Lena felt the involuntary smile pull at the corner of her lips at Kara’s light mimicking of her. The conversation, this conversation they needed to have desperately, would be so serious but she was happy to see that somewhere underneath all of that was still them at their core. “Believe me, I wasn’t trying to.”

“You shouldn’t have gone to stop that bomb by yourself. You should have called me.”

“Called you or Kara Danvers?”

“I...I...” Supergirl stuttered before clamping her mouth shut as she thought of a response. “I never meant to hurt you.”

“You did, though. I understand it. A Luthor can never be trusted, or be worthy of being in the good graces of a Super.”

Supergirl said nothing as she took off from the ground. She remained silent the entire flight, her lips pursed tightly in guilt. Neither spoke until they had landed on Lena’s balcony a few minutes later.

“Let me check the place out first,” Supergirl instructed as she held out her arm to stop Lena’s progress into the loft. “Wait here.”

Lena pulled her jacket around her tightly and sat down on one of the balcony chairs. When she twisted her right wrist she felt a sharp pain. She slowly pulled up her jacket sleeve and when she did so the deep red impression of Supergirl’s handprint was revealed. She ran her fingers over it delicately and winced when she applied even the smallest amount of pressure. This was going to be a deep bruise.

“I’m sorry.”

Lena started, and turned to find Supergirl watching her.

“I never meant to hurt you,” Supergirl continued as she dropped to her knees beside the chair and lightly took Lena’s arm and scanned it for broken bones. Lena knew that that statement was both about her arm and about the lying. “Nothing is broken but...I’m so sorry, Lena”

When Supergirl’s lips lightly pressed against the top of her injured hand Lena felt the wave of deja vu hit her. They had done this hours ago. God, it felt like weeks had passed but it was just earlier that evening that Kara had knelt beside her and promised her that everything would be okay and that she was a good person.

“I didn’t realize I had gripped you so hard.” Supergirl’s voice was quiet with a hint of a tremble. “I’ve never been more scared in my life and I wasn’t thinking of how hard I had you.”

“Why did you do it?” Lena’s question was barely more than a whisper and a part of her wondered if she really wanted the answer while the other part of her craved to understand. “Why did you keep this from me?”

“I don’t know anymore. I...” She looked away from Lena, into the loft as if she would find the answer there. “I didn’t tell you at first because you were a Luthor and I was a Super. I’ll admit that. Those first few weeks I saw so much goodness in you but also confusion and I didn’t know where you stood with your mother’s plans especially when you refused to believe she was leading Cadmus.”

Lena swallowed hard. That confusion was still there somewhat but the time Supergirl was referring to was one of the hardest in her life. Taking over L-Corp, moving to a new city, fighting for people to see her as Lena and not a Luthor, Lillian and her manipulating...It was, still was, overwhelming.

“Then when I finally got to know you,” Supergirl continued, “it became more about protecting you. You were always in enough danger as it was. I couldn’t stand to possibly put you in the crossfire. My enemies have used Alex against me before...I didn’t ever want you to be in that situation. And when you saved me over Jack I assumed a part of you would always hate Supergirl and I didn’t want you to hate me.”

“I don’t know if I could ever hate you. Be pissed beyond reason, well that’s a different story.”

Supergirl gave a somber nod in agreement though a small smile of relief in knowing Lena didn’t hate her crept through the façade. “Eventually I think it became more that I actually liked you not knowing. Not that I enjoyed lying to you or anything but...” she sighed as she tried to find the words, “it was kind of nice having someone who only saw me as Kara. It was a relief to not have to be a hero all the time. You make me feel normal and I feel more human when I’m with you than anyone else.”

Though Lena wanted to, she couldn’t really fault Kara. What would she had done if Kara had revealed herself earlier? Could she have handled it on top of everything her mother had done? Would she had hated Supergirl and therefore Kara because of Jack’s death? She realized that she too needed Kara Danvers and Supergirl to be separate. Her life had needed them each in different ways and it had probably been better to have that separation. It had kept them together, ironically, and safe.

She tucked a few loose strands of Supergirl’s hair back behind her ear. What little anger she still had melted when Supergirl nuzzled her face into her palm and leaned into her body. As her lips met Supergirl’s forehead, between the kisses of forgiveness, she whispered, “Don’t ever lie to me like this again.”

“I promise I’ll never lie to you again.”

And with that promise, Supergirl’s lips found her own. Lena should have resisted but she had never really had any self-control when it came to this woman she loved. And for too long she had wanted to find refuge in these arms and the warmth of this kiss. She wanted more. She wanted a life with her, she wanted happiness. This was crazy, though; this would never, could never work. What if Edge was right? What if everything she touched left destruction? What right did she have to corrupt such goodness, to destroy the hero in her arms? There was too much between them. As her hands slid across Supergirl’s chest and the rough Kryptonian symbol met her fingertips, physical proof of all that separated them, she let the doubt consume her.

Supergirl broke the kiss when she felt Lena tense up in her arms and looked down to Lena’s fingers. She covered her hands with her own before bringing them up to her lips and pressing a kiss on each of Lena’s fingertips. “I love you, Lena Luthor. And I will love you to the furthest end of the universe and back.”

And with that Lena felt the doubt fade away. “I love you too,” she whispered before she pushed herself back up into her hero and kissed her again.

They kissed their way from the balcony into her loft, stumbling awkwardly as they tried to adjust to one another in this way. For two years they had been circling this moment. Every interaction between them, Lena and Kara or CEO and Supergirl, had led them to these urgent and unsure kisses. She knew Kara’s heart, and Kara knew her’s despite how much she had tried to hide it.

Lena pulled away, ending their kisses, and smiled at the sound of Supergirl’s whine. “As much as I enjoy kissing you, Supergirl, I must admit something.” She saw blue eyes fill with worry so she gave one more quick kiss of assurance. “I’d rather be kissing Kara Danvers...no offense.”

Supergirl laughed. “Yeah, okay,” she said. She disappeared through Lena’s bedroom doorway, unbuckling her cape as she went. She always kept a pair of pajamas in Lena’s guest bedroom for late movie nights and she sought them out quickly as she shed the red and blue.

Lena, too, made to change and wash the grime of the night’s events from herself. The physical and emotional exhaustion was quickly catching up to her and she was amazed that she didn’t fall asleep right there in her closet. When she gathered enough energy to make it back to the bedroom she found Kara, sans the glasses, sitting in the middle of her bed.

There was the woman she loved and it felt so good to climb into her arms. As lips explored neck lines and faces, and hands wandered, caressing and pulling, all the uncertainty dissipated. There was no love making, they each knew the desire and passion would be there after this newness wore off. But the intense intimacy is what moved them both. They were two touch starved individuals who had pined for years for one another and it felt so good to just finally be with one another, free of secrets and the pressures that seemed to always surround them.

At some point, it could have been minutes or hours to Lena’s tired brain, she found herself with her back to Kara, both of Kara’s strong arms wrapped around her and their bodies leaving no space in between them. She felt Kara’s nose trace a path back and forth across the curve between her neck and shoulder, each pass punctuated by a soft kiss before Kara started a new path.

And in that moment Lena felt safe. She felt loved. For the first time she didn’t feel like the monster everyone wanted her to be. As sleep began to take her away, she heard one more murmured ‘I love you’ from Kara and she knew that together they’d overcome anything the universe put in their way. More than ever she felt hope, a strange feeling for a Luthor but one she let herself get lost in.