1 - “It is June. I am tired of being brave.”
The crash landing of a second Kryptonian in Smallville is perhaps not the beginning of the end for Clark and Lex, but it is perhaps the the push, shove and tumble past the point of no return; the shattering of illusions that let them ignore the alien-shaped-elephant in the room of their fraying relationship.
They were good at pretending. Pretending Clark wasn’t a terrible liar, that he hadn’t driven Lex insane, and that Lex didn’t know the truth about Clark, and probably better than Clark did himself. But even they couldn’t pretend not to see the girl who climbed out of a spaceship from another planet wearing Superman’s crest.
A shivering, crying, screaming blonde thirteen year old is a hell of a lot harder to ignore than a metaphorical elephant.
This is the day that Lex wakes up in the middle of the night thinking of. Not the day Clark saved him, as he did for years, which is now more of a found memory, not days with Mercy, not his father, not the day Clark left for college or the day Lois Lane coined the name Superman. The day Clark and Lex had to give up their pretenses and pretending - the day Kara Zor-El crashed into earth and their lives is the day that makes him walk up in cold sweat and screams in his throat, wondering if Clark can hear them, and if he cares. He wonders how long they could have pretended and how far it could have taken them, and how long Clark can live with his own guilt and denial. He wonders how many of Clark’s messes he’s going to have to clean up just because Clark doesn’t notice that in his quest to fix humanity, he might also break it a little.
2 - “In another country people die.”
Krypton hangs like a ghost over Kara’s head, breathing down her neck. She hears the dying screams of her people in her sleep - some real, some imagined, all horrifying. She awakes to the all too current screams of humans. Far off and far flung, some being helped, some who she hears take their last breaths. Some as close as Midvale, nightmares and disputes in other homes. Some in far off countries Kara cannot yet name, speaking tongues Kara cannot translate, though grief and fear are universal enough to understand.
This is a truth Kara knows too well - people die. And there is no one to notice, not always anyway.
It is these times she envies her cousin. He has spent long enough on Earth to have suppressed the worst of their hearing. He has to strain to hear as far as she can. He has honed his hearing, developed the ability not to be cut to the marrow for every helpless scream he cannot help - by helping those who he can. Kara has no such outlet for the pain of what she hears. And her ears are far more sensitive - a problem Kal-El has not dealt with since infancy.
He grew up with this yellow sun and odd gravity. His powers will be more muted, but more malleable. He will learn easier, quicker than she will - but she will forever be stronger. She may never control it as well as he can - but she could not be stopped by him. A small piece of kryptonite can fell him, but where the gravity of this planet still knocks her over unexpectedly, she can hold pieces in her teeth. Holds them tight to feel them cutting into her palms, to feel anything at all.
Kara looks at the stars - knows when some will burn out from Earth’s sky, because she has seen them disappear from hers. She wants to find Krypton, but fears watching its burning, fading light from a foreign sky.
What is it that humans say?
You can ' t go home again .
You can ' t recover the past.
Maybe Krypton is better off where it is; Kara is sure that if she has to watch her home’s destruction twice, she might just snap. She might just tear down the world her cousin is so bent on protecting.
He might not not realize it, but Kara does. She has seen planets die before, studied their histories and their downfalls. Earth will not last another millenium. It is an impossible task, saving humans from themselves.
Sometimes, Kara thinks she’ll just speed them along. Collapse a few bridges. Burn out some major power systems. Rage against the yellow sun, and gravity and tear down anything and everything she can grab. Make earthquakes and tsunamis. Set the world on fire. Scream, rant, rage and destroy until there is nothing left for her cousin to save.
Until the survivors know how she feels. Until her cousin has no choice but to accept their heritage.
Until the earth is no more.
The feelings always pass eventually, but one day, she worries her conscious will not be enough to stop her.
Lex gives her, or sends her really, kryptonite rocks and pebbles. It is not a threat, though she knows Kal-El and the Danvers would see it as such. It is solidarity perhaps. He keeps Lana Lang’s locket to remember, and to feel safe, though Clark would never really hurt him. It is security, as unnecessary as it may be. She fears herself more than he could ever fear them.
She keeps the kryptonite in a lead-lined box under the bed. When she wants to destroy everything, she holds them in her palms, until she feels almost approximately human in strength. Until she cannot shoot lasers from her eyes. Until her fingers ache and bleed, and the feeling of ending everything passes.
3 - “Men kill for this, or for as much.”
Lex wakes up screaming from nightmares - what ifs, what might have been, what might still come.
Kara wakes up screaming from memories - Krypton burning, learning she is twenty five years too late, her cousin’s awful accents, his retreating back in the sky from Midvale.
Lex screams hoping against hope Clark will hear him
Kara swallows her screams, hoping he won’t.
Here are truths Kara has learned on earth: people die always, but people only care sometimes. In another country, people die - a pity, not a tragedy. People don’t feel what they do not experience.
More than that, people kill. They set fires, bomb building, invade cities and kill innocents. For money, for power, for fame. They poison rivers and send smoke fumes into the air and fell trees for their own game, and no one bats an eye.
Men kill for this, this second chance she has.
She will not be like them.