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To the Moon and Back

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Lena Luthor never wanted to be a mother. She barely recalled her biological mother, and Lillian Luthor was a textbook case for how not to parent a child. When Lena had learned that she really was Lionel’s daughter, a Luthor by blood, she felt it was probably better for the world at large if she never reproduced, if she was the last of that xenophobic, sociopathic bloodline.

Lena liked kids well enough, but she had always doubted she even had the capacity to love a child the way a mother was meant to love. She was a Luthor, emotionally stunted by default. She didn’t know how to love something, someone with every fiber of her being. She didn’t know she could be willing to give up everything, her wealth, her company, her status, even her life, for another person.

But looking down at the newborn in her arms, Lena knew that none of that was true. She was reminded suddenly of the Grinch from the movie Kara forced her to watch three versions of at Christmas. It felt as if her heart had suddenly grown inside her chest and she could almost burst from the feeling. She knew without a doubt that she would lay down everything, her life included, to ensure the health and happiness of the child in her arms.

She didn’t know she could feel like this. She didn’t know she could love someone this much. But as gray-blue eyes looked up into green, she was sure. She could love, did love, this child, so, so much.

Never in her life would she have imagined she would be where she is now. If someone had told her, six months before, where she would be in this moment, she would’ve called them insane. She never would’ve believed that she would be standing in the middle of the med-bay of the DEO, cradling a child that carried none of her genes, none of her blood, and yet held all of her heart.

Chapter Text

Lena Luthor was achingly familiar with anxiety. She had survived assassination attempts, kidnappings, hostage situations, and alien invasions multiple times. Honestly, growing up a Luthor had probably given her more anxiety than any of those traumatizing situations. She was familiar with sweaty palms, unsteady knees, hitched breathing, and the sound of her heartbeat racing in her ears. So she knew, as she rode the elevator up to her best friend’s apartment, that she was more than a little nervous.

Six weeks had passed since the last time Lena saw Kara. Forty-two days— she was counting. Forty-two days since Lena had modified one of her brother’s inventions and dispersed lead into the atmosphere, causing the Daxamites to flee, ending the latest alien invasion. Forty-two days since Mon-el, the Daxamite Kara loved, also had to leave the planet or be killed by the lead in the atmosphere. Lena hadn’t been the one to press the button to engage the device, but she had created it. And before that, Lena had helped build the transmatter portal that enabled the invasion to happen at all.

So Lena hadn’t been surprised when Kara didn’t contact her after the invasion was over. Heartbroken, yes, but not surprised. She wouldn’t blame Kara if the woman wanted nothing to do with her after all the pain Lena had caused her. Lena had waited, had fought the urge to check in on her friend every single day, instead adding to the tally she kept in her head. She worried that Kara would think she no longer cared, but she also didn’t want to intrude or remind her friend of her pain.

If Lena knew anything better than she knew anxiety, she knew loss.

But she kept tabs on Kara the best she could. For the first couple of weeks it was easy— Supergirl was on the news daily, helping with the rebuilding of National City, stopping any crime so the city’s resources could focus on recovery. Yes, Lena knew Kara was Supergirl, and had known for a while, but she respected her friend’s desire to keep her identity a secret. If Lena was in her shoes, she wouldn’t be jumping for the opportunity to tell a Luthor her real identity either.

If Lena knew anything better than she knew loss, she knew secrets. She knew how to hide skeletons in a closet. She knew how to take her feelings and push them down into little boxes and throw away the key.

But knowing Kara’s secret allowed Lena one way to check up on her, at least for the first few weeks. In the third week after the Daxamite invasion, however, Supergirl had effectively vanished. News reports over the missing superhero had been mixed, questioning why she had disappeared in the middle of her city’s recovery. But then the President herself had made an announcement that Supergirl was undertaking a mission off planet for the United States government and would be away for several months.

That had sent Lena into a panic, until she hacked into CatCo’s human resources department and found that Kara Danvers was still clocking in for work everyday. She had clocked in every day since the President’s announcement. It confused Lena, but it also made her wonder if, in her grief from Mon-el’s departure, Kara was giving up being a hero for a while. It made sense to Lena, and she wouldn’t fault the woman if that was the case.

But it meant that Lena had no way, other than hacking CatCo— which even Lena would admit was a little much— to keep tabs on her friend. She missed her friend— missed their banter over text message, their weekly lunches where Lena tried to convince Kara to try more green vegetables and Kara forced Lena to eat something fried, their occasional movie nights where Kara introduced her to the Disney movies Lena wasn’t allowed to watch in the Luthor household while Kara sang along with every song.

When Kara’s contact had flashed on her phone earlier that afternoon, relief spread through Lena like a cooling breeze. The text was short, giving nothing away, but it gave Lena hope that maybe, just maybe, they would be alright.

KD: Can you come to my place tonight? I need your help with something.

Which was why, three hours later, Lena stood outside Kara’s apartment with bags loaded down with takeout from five different restaurants and six flavors of Ben and Jerry’s. She kept telling herself that it wasn’t apology food— even with Kara’s alien metabolism, there was no amount of food to equal how horrible Lena felt about what had happened. She shuffled the bags in her hands, trying to find a way to knock, only to end up balancing on one stiletto-clad foot and tapping the metal door indelicately with the other.

The door opened on Lena’s second kick and for a split second she froze awkwardly, one foot still in the air, balanced precariously on one high heel, as her eyes fell on her best friend for the first time in forty-two days.

“Lena!” Kara exclaimed, her voice high, her smile wide, but somehow it didn’t reach her eyes.

Lena forced a smile and stepped into the apartment. “Hello, darling.”

Lena had visited Kara’s apartment enough times to know how Kara kept things. She knew Kara was always neat, not obsessively clean like Lena, but tidy.

At the moment, Kara’s apartment was anything but tidy. Her sinks were full of dirty dishes, the trashcan was full of take-out boxes, and the dining room table was covered in what Lena guessed was six weeks worth of mail. Throw blankets were strewn over every piece of living room furniture and the coffee table was stacked with what looked like textbooks, though lena couldn’t make out the titles from where she stood.

It wasn’t like Kara, but then again the woman in front of her didn’t look much like Kara either. Her hair was down— something she never did in front of Lena— and the roots were separated, like she had dragged her fingers through it over and over again. She wasn’t wearing makeup and there were dark circles under her eyes— Lena didn’t know a Kryptonian could look so tired. It was barely six pm and Kara was already dressed in wrinkled polka-dot pajama pants and an oversized NCU t-shirt— and she wasn’t wearing a bra underneath it either.

It was the most disheveled Lena had ever seen her friend, and it caused a pang in her chest. She swallowed down her concern and carried the bags over to the kitchen island.

“I know you didn’t say anything about food but I haven’t eaten and I figured you hadn’t had time to eat dinner either. Plus I didn’t know what you might want, so I may have gone a bit overboard,” Lena rambled— a habit she had picked up from Kara. She popped the icecream into the freezer and began unpacking the rest of the food.

“Lena, you shouldn’t have,” Kara said from behind her.

“You know it’s nothing,” Lena said with a wave of her hand. “I got Italian from Francesca’s, sticky buns from Noonan’s, pad thai from Kin Thai, potstickers from that place on the corner— I can never pronounce their name correctly— and fish tacos from the food truck on Cordova, I know you’re not a fan but they’re my favorite… Kara?”

She turned as she opened the container of tacos and saw Kara’s face go from white to green like some bizarre magic trick. Then Kara moved so fast that Lena felt the rush of air and barely saw a blur. Before Lena could process it all she heard Kara retching in the bathroom and the sound of vomit hitting water.

Lena didn’t even know Kryptonians could get sick.

“Kara, are you alright?” she called, knocking softly at the bedroom door.

“Give me a minute,” Kara replied before she retched again.

“Do you need me to get you something?” Lena asked.

“Um… I don’t think so.” Kara hurled again. “Actually, I hate to ask you this, but could you get rid of the tacos? I can’t stand the smell of fish right now. I’m really sorry, I know you love them but…”

The rest of her sentence was lost into the toilet bowl, along with the contents of her stomach. Lena hurried to the kitchen and tossed the entire container of tacos into the trash bag, then tied the bag shut and hauled it outside to the chute at the end of hall. When she made it back inside she no longer heard the sound of Kara puking. She poured her friend a glass of water and made her way toward the bathroom.

“Is it safe to enter?” she asked from the doorway.

“Yeah, I’m okay now,” Kara replied. She was still in the floor, resting against the side of her bathtub. Lena offered her the glass of water and Kara took it with a weak smile. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Lena said, backing away in case whatever Kara had was contagious. “Do you have a stomach bug or something?”

“Stomach bug,” Kara repeated with a chuckle, as if the term was comical. “No, not a stomach bug.”

Kara downed the water and stood. She reached for her toothbrush and Lena stepped out of the bathroom to give her friend enough room to brush her teeth.

“Food poisoning?” Lena asked, eyes darting around Kara’s bedroom. It wasn’t in much better shape than the rest of the apartment. The bed wasn’t made, and clothes were scattered on the floor and thrown haphazardly across the chair in the corner. An empty glass and a packet of saltine crackers were on one bedside table, and a couple of books rested on the other, one opened like Kara had been reading it before bed.

“No, no food poisoning,” Kara answered between brushing her teeth.

Lena was naturally drawn to the books, curiosity getting the better of her. The title of the closed book glittered in the evening light— Romeo and Juliet— the romantic tragedy both surprised and saddened Lena. She placed a finger inside the other book to hold Kara’s place before flipping it closed so she could see the title.

“K— Kara?”

She looked up to see Kara standing in the bathroom door. Her eyes flickered from her friend’s face to the book on the nightstand, once then twice and then a third time as her brain tried to process the information.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

“Kara, are you pregnant?” Lena asked, and she’s genuinely surprised at how steady her voice sounds while her insides are tied up in knots.

Kara’s face flashed so many emotions so quickly that Lena can barely keep up— fear, and joy, and pain, and hope. Lena knew the answer before Kara even spoke it aloud.

“Yeah, I’m pregnant,” Kara said.

Suddenly Supergirl’s disappearance, her expected absence for the next several months, made perfect sense. The image of a heavily pregnant Supergirl flashed in Lena’s mind and she almost laughed, but the humor was overshadowed as more realities crash into her consciousness.

“Oh,” she said finally, simply.

“Do you wanna eat now?” Kara asked. “I know it’s weird, but now that I’ve thrown up my stomach is empty and I’m absolutely starving.”

Lena nodded, her brain still processing. She followed Kara into the kitchen and somehow managed to fix herself a plate— chicken alfredo, now that her tacos are in the trash— though her mind is elsewhere. A few minutes later she found herself on the sofa beside Kara, mind still catching up with the situation.

“Alex was the same way,” Kara said as she took her first bite of a potsticker. “Mmm, I love these.”

“What do you mean?” Lena asked, swirling her pasta around her fork.

“She was speechless,” Kara told her. “It took her about twenty minutes to actually talk, so you’re actually handling this better so far.”

Lena couldn’t help but grin at the thought of the tough government agent being rendered speechless, although she can definitely relate to the woman’s shock.

“It’s… I wasn’t expecting that,” Lena said.

“I wasn’t either,” Kara admitted. “I mean… I didn’t even know Mon-el and I were genetically compatible. I didn’t realize this was a possibility.”

“So the baby is half-Daxamite and half…” Lena’s voice trailed off. She didn’t know if Kara would tell her now, or if she would be okay with Kara knowing.

Kara sighed, poking at her rice absentmindedly. “Lena, I need to—“

“Half-Kryptonian,” Lena supplied, because she can’t stand to hear Kara stutter it out. She doesn’t want to make Kara search for the words when she already knows.

Kara’s forehead crinkled. “You knew?”

Lena nodded, forking a bite of pasta into her mouth.

“How long?” Kara asked.

“Um, since you came to my office with Superman,” she said simply.

“But I never…” Kara’s eyes widened comically. “You know Clark is…?”

“Kara, darling, I was around Superman and Clark Kent from the time I was a teenager. Just because Lex was blind doesn’t mean I was too,” she said with a frown. “Lex never figured it out. And after he set his mind to killing Superman I wasn’t about to tell him the truth.”

Kara leaned back into the sofa cushions. “You really are the smartest Luthor.”

“You’re damn right I am,” Lena said. She tried to keep a straight face as she chewed her food but after a moment she and Kara both broke out into giggles.

“Oh my god, I’m so glad you know,” Kara sighed. “That makes things so much easier.”

“I’m glad you trust me with this,” Lena said, placing a hand soothingly on Kara’s knee. “Well, with your identity and with… this.

“Yeah, about… this,” Kara sighed. “That’s what I need your help with, actually.”

Lena sat up straighter at that. “Anything, Kara, whatever you need.”

Kara bit her lip. “I, um… I need you to remove the lead from the atmosphere.”

Lena’s eyes widened. Her mind immediately began running calculations and scenarios. “Kara…”

“I know it’s a lot to ask, I do,” Kara said quickly. “But this baby is half-Daxamite. It might have the same weakness to lead and that means… that means…”

“It would die in our atmosphere,” Lena finished softly.

Kara’s blue eyes welled up with tears. One hand moved absentmindedly to rub her lower stomach and Lena felt her heart skip a beat. This was really happening.

“Kara, if we remove the lead from the atmosphere, the Daxamites might come back,” Lena said softly.

Kara’s eyes hardened. “So that means my baby has to die?”

“No!” Lena exclaimed. “I didn’t mean… I didn’t mean that, Kara, I swear, I was just thinking out loud.”

Kara’s face returned to a sad but peaceful expression. She moved her half-eaten plate of food off her lap and sat it on top of a pile of textbooks on the coffee table.

“I know what removing the lead from the atmosphere might mean,” she said softly. “I know it better than anybody. But I can’t… Lena, I can’t…”

“Shh,” Lena said, moving her plate and scooting closer to Kara as the blonde burst into tears. She pulled Kara onto her shoulder and smoothed her fingers through the ends of tangled blonde curls. “I know. Nobody’s asking you to do that, Kara.”

“The government is,” Kara said softly.

“What?” Lena asked.

“I went to them first,” she explained. “After I figured out what my symptoms were, after Alex confirmed that I was pregnant. I went to J’onn, and he ordered that the scientists start figuring out how to remove the lead. But word spread to higher-ups and the president herself ordered him to stop working on it. She said we couldn’t risk the safety of the planet for one life.”

“That bitch!” Lena exclaimed, horrified. “Kara, that’s terrible. That’s absolutely despicable.”

“Well, she is the same president who was willing to destroy the Daxamite ship with you, me, and Mon-El still on board,” Kara said with a shrug. “I’m not sure why I was surprised.”

They both sat quietly for a long while. Lena felt a damp spot growing on the shoulder of her blouse but she refused to move. She had cried on Kara’s shoulder many times before, so she figured it was long past time she repay the favor.

“I didn’t know it was possible,” Kara said after a while. “I mean, I knew Daxamites and Kryptonians were genetically related, but I still figured it was a long-shot that we were actually genetically compatible. And I always thought I was infertile.”

“Really?” Lena asked, curiosity peaked.

“Well, women on Krypton haven’t had children naturally in centuries,” Kara explained. “Pregnancy is physically inconvenient, so they developed something called the Birthing Mattix. It takes genetic material from both parents and creates an embryo. Gestation takes place in the Matrix and infants are effectively born from it. Kal-El— Superman— was the first natural birth in centuries.”

“Why was he a natural birth?” Lena asked.

“My uncle Jor-El was a bit of a scientific rebel,” Kara said with a wry grin. “He believed the Matrix was manipulating Kryptonian DNA too much. Plus, he actually loved his wife. But the pregnancy and birth were difficult on Lara— Kal-El’s mother. I remember thinking that when I had children, I was definitely using the Birthing Matrix.”

“And here you are pregnant,” Lena couldn’t help but tease.

“Twelve-year-old me would be scandalized,” Kara smiled, but it faded just as quickly as it had appeared. “After I came to Earth, I thought I would never have children. I put that desire away. I didn’t know if Kryptonians and humans were genetically compatible, first of all. And then there was the matter of my abilities. My muscles are super-strong, even on the inside. Alex once hypothesized that even if I did manage to conceive, my internal muscles would crush the fetus instead of allowing it to develop naturally.”

“But since the baby’s Kryptonian and Daxamite, it’s strong enough to withstand the pressure,” Lena hypothesized.

“That seems to be the case,” Kara said, looking down and rubbing her belly affectionately. “I waited for weeks, thinking one day I would wake up and my body would’ve… I just wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. But it never happened. Alex says if I’ve made it this far, then I’m probably not going to miscarry.”

“How far along are you?” Lena asked.

“Alex is estimating nine weeks,” Kara replied. “Since I don’t get a period, it’s harder to calculate.”

“No period? Lucky bitch,” Lena joked, and Kara grinned up at her.

“There are some perks to this whole alien thing,” she shrugged.

“Do Kryptonian pregnancies last forty weeks like human pregnancies?” Lena asked. She needed to know when her deadline was for removing the lead from the atmosphere.

Kara grimaced. “I’m not sure. Like I said, Lara was the first Kryptonian woman to have a natural birth in centuries, and I was only twelve. I don’t remember all the details. But Alex modified an ultrasound machine so she can monitor the baby’s growth, and she thinks it’s developing at the same speed as a human pregnancy.”

Lena nodded, doing math in her head. “So you’re due… late January?”

Kara nodded somberly. “I feel… I feel like a ticking timebomb, to be honest. Like, now that I know my body’s not going to crush it, as long as the baby stays inside of me, it’s safe. But once it’s born…”

Tears welled up in Kara’s eyes again, and Lena pulled her back into her embrace.

“I’m going to fix this,” Lena said sternly. “No more crying, Kara Danvers. I’m going to fix this.”

“I keep thinking of my mother,” Kara sobbed. “I keep seeing her face, when she put me into that pod. I’ve always wondered what she must’ve been thinking, in that moment, how desperate she must’ve felt to put her child in a pod and send me away to save me. And now I know.”

“You’re not going to have to do that,” Lena assured her.

“I can’t sleep,” Kara admitted. “I keep having nightmares. At first I just kept replaying putting Mon-El into the pod, but after I found out I was pregnant, it changed. Instead of putting Mon-El into the pod, I was putting our baby into a pod and sending it off into space.”

“Kara—“ Lena began.

“It broke me to put Mon-El in that pod, Lena,” Kara sobbed. “It broke me, but when I found out I still had a part of him, I managed to put myself back together. But if I have to put my child in a pod… Lena, I don’t think I could ever recover from that.”

“Kara, stop!” Lena ordered sternly. She didn’t like having to use that tone with her friend, but she also knew that she couldn’t let Kara continue to spiral. “You are never going to have to make that choice. You will never have to put your baby into a pod and send it away from this planet. I’m going to fix this mess and you’re going to have a beautiful, healthy baby, you’re going to be a wonderful mother, and you’re going to live happily ever after just like those fairytales you made me watch, I promise. Hell, once we remove the lead from the atmosphere, it’ll even be safe for Mon-El to come back. You can be a happy little family.”

Kara shook her head. “Mon-El is gone.”

“I’m sure we can—“ Lena began.

“No, I’ve had Winn tracking the pod since it left Earth,” Kara said. “It disappeared less than twelve hours after leaving the planet. We don’t know what happened, if the Daxamites shot it down, or if another alien species shot it down, or maybe it malfunctioned. But… Mon-El is gone. I put him in that pod to save him and… I killed him.”

“Kara,” Lena said, and now tears are running down her own cheeks. Tears because while she didn’t know Mon-El very well, in all her interactions with him he seemed like a good guy, and tears because Kara had very much been in love with him. “Kara, I’m so sorry.”

“I’ve cried so much, Lena,” Kara told her. “I cried until my eyes couldn’t even make more tears, until they burned from it, and somehow I still cried more. I cried until I’m absolutely sick of crying. I loved Mon-El more than I’ve ever loved anyone, Lena, and I lost him. It was my choice, this planet or Mon-El, and I chose to save the planet. It was a sacrifice I was barely willing to make, but I made it. But now… now it’s the choice between this planet or my baby. This baby is all I have left of him but, even more than that, this baby is mine. It’s my baby, Lena. I’m not willing to make that sacrifice. I’m not. Please…”

“You’ll never have to,” Lena assured her. “Kara, I promise you. I promise that you’re never going to have to make that sacrifice. I’m going to figure this out. I promise you. I promise. I promise.”

She repeated the words over and over into blonde hair, holding Kara against her shoulder, rocking her slightly as they both cried. When finally their tears had all dried off, Lena continued holding Kara in her arms, as if her fragile human body could protect the alien goddess from the world. The sun began to set, casting a red-orange glow through the windows.

“This time of day always reminds me of Krypton,” Kara said finally, her voice soft.

“Will you tell me about it?” Lena asked, both curious about the alien world and eager to change the subject. She wasn’t sure if it was a better subject, talking about the planet Kara had lost, but it was something.

Kara looked up and offered her a brilliant, tear-stained smile. “My favorite place on Krypton was the Fire Falls...”

Chapter Text

Throughout her life, Lena had developed a variety of coping mechanisms, some healthy, some unhealthy, and some that lay somewhere in between. Meditation and breathing exercises: healthy. Her genetic predisposition to alcoholism: unhealthy. Her ability to box up her emotions and tuck them away in the darkest recesses of her mind in order for her to actually get some fucking work done without having a mental breakdown: somewhere in between.

It was a strategy she had developed far earlier in life than she cared to admit. Lena liked to imagine that her mind was a vault full of tiny boxes that she could open and shut at will. Some boxes remained shoved at the back of the vault undisturbed for years, gathering dust. Some she only tucked away temporarily, until the appropriate time to address them. It was a neat little system, and it allowed Lena to function in times of crisis— which, as a CEO and as a Luthor, seemed to be always. There were, however, flaws to the system.

Sometimes boxes overflowed. And they usually overflowed at the most inopportune times. When the healthy coping mechanisms failed, she tended to revert to the unhealthy ones. That was why Lena was pouring herself a second glass of scotch at three-thirty on a Tuesday afternoon.

The box marked Kara Danvers was overflowing.

It was a complicated, chaotic box, though it hadn’t always been. Lena had barely noticed Kara the first time they had met, too focused on the fact that Superman in disguise was in her office. Then Lena had realized exactly who Kara was, and she was intrigued. She wanted to figure out the woman behind the cape, and it had been startling easy. Kara Danvers had carved a place into Lena’s life and heart with ease. Not only was Kara naturally charming and kind, she and Lena’s personalities just seemed to mesh in a way Lena had never experienced with anyone else. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time. For the first time in her life, Lena had a true friend, someone who stood in her corner and believed in her even when everything seemed stacked against her.

Lena had never had friends like Kara. Hell, she’d never had family like Kara. Luthors didn’t have friends, they had minions.

It shouldn’t have surprised Lena, really, when her friendly feelings toward Kara began to evolve into something else. That was her modus operandi when it came to love. Apparently there was a label for her, demisexual—she had Googled it once. Lena could count on one hand the number of times she had been in love— her high school roommate, her college lab partner, Jack Spheer, and now… With all of these people, they had started out as friends, and then she realized that she was attracted to them romantically and, well, sexually. Gender didn’t seem to matter— her roommate was female, her lab partner was male, Jack was a man, and now Kara…

It just complicated things when the feelings weren’t reciprocated. She had learned that from the lab partner. She had worked with him for three semesters when that pesky attraction reared its head and, stupid girl that she was, she decided to act on it. Turns out he wouldn’t have touched a Luthor with a ten-foot pole if it hadn’t been for her brain doing most of the work and earning them both top marks in the class. She still had to work as his partner until the end of the semester, and those were easily the most awkward two months of Lena’s life.

She wasn’t sure when her feelings for Kara began to change, but she knew the exact moment that her conscious mind realized it. It was the night Jack died, the night… She had made a decision, and it was a choice she would make a hundred times over. She had loved Jack, once upon a time. Her life had been entwined in his, both professionally and personally. But when things ended between them she had learned that she could actually live without him. Her life would go on without him in it.

She couldn’t imagine her life without Kara.

So when it came down to a choice, to save Kara or to save Jack… it was simple, really. Even more than the choice itself, the ease with which she made the choice had haunted her for months.

Kara had been dating Mon-El. And even if she hadn’t been, Lena was pretty sure Kara was one hundred percent straight. So Lena had taken any romantic and sexual feelings toward her friend and shoved them roughly into one of her little boxes. Sure, sometimes her words and actions came out a little flirtier than friendly, and sometimes her gaze might get caught on Kara’s biceps or legs for a few seconds longer than was polite, or Kara’s smile would leave Lena flustered and speechless, but other than that Lena thought she had her unrequited affections under control.

That was before. Before Kara was pregnant with a child belonging to her missing-presumed-dead boyfriend. Until that happened, Lena hadn’t realized that she was actually holding out a sliver of hope that she and Kara might someday become something more than best friends. Every logical part of Lena’s brain knew that hope was foolish, and yet, tucked away in one of those little boxes, it festered and grew.

But that hope was dead now, crushed by the overwhelming weight of reality. A child would be a constant reminder of the love Kara had lost, the love Lena had been instrumental in ending. Kara would be a mother— a wonderful mother, of that Lena had no doubt— and Lena had no business being in a relationship with someone who had a child. Lena wasn’t exactly the maternal type. Besides, no parent in their right mind would want a Luthor around their child.

Lena’s ruminations were interrupted by the heavy doors of her opening unexpectedly. She had no more appointments that afternoon, and any unexpected visitors would be fielded and announced by her assistant. But when a lanky redhead charged in, her assistant Jess following breathless on her heels, Lena understood why she didn’t get a warning.

“I’m sorry, Miss Luthor, she just—“ Jess panted and gestured to the other woman.

“It’s fine, Jess,” Lena said evenly. “In fact, Agent Danvers is to have unlimited access to my office and to me, however, I would appreciate it if she would give you time to announce her presence before charging in, unless it is an absolute emergency.”

Lena leveled Alex with a pointed expression as she finished her statement and the Agent gave her the barest of nods in return.

“I’ll be sure to change her security status,” Jess agreed, shooting a curious and slightly-peeved look toward the agent as she left the office. Lena expected the curiosity— the only other person granted unfettered access to her while at work was Kara.

“Agent Danvers, it’s good to see you again,” Lena said, pushing aside her swirling emotions along with her nearly-empty glass of scotch. “What brings you by?”

Alex’s brown eyes were stony as she took a seat across the desk from Lena. “I think you know.”

“Most likely, but I’d like to hear it from you,” Lena replied. “Are you here as Kara’s sister, Supergirl’s handler, or DEO agent?”

Alex sighed. “DEO agent first. I have to deliver these.”

She slid a black folder across Lena’s desk, which Lena promptly opened.

“You can’t be serious!” Lena exclaimed.

“It’s a federal order to cease and desist in your research toward clearing the air of lead particles,” Alex said, although that was obvious.

“You reported me?” Lena hissed furiously.

“Of course not!” Alex hissed in reply, clearly offended by the suggestion. “Director J’onzz and I were the only ones at the DEO who knew Kara had confided in you, and we didn’t tell a soul. It was one of your researchers who reported you. I actually tried to get you the name, but it’s being kept confidential, above my clearance level.”

“Those bastards,” Lena said, slumping back into her chair.

“I think whoever reported it feared that removing the lead from the atmosphere would allow the Daxamite invaders to return,” Alex said, as if that explanation made any difference to Lena.

“I don’t care why they did it or which one of them did it, I’m firing the whole team,” Lena said furiously. “What I’m doing is in no way illegal, so they had no reason to report it, and doing so is a blatant violation of the confidentiality clause of their contracts.”

“It was probably just one person,” Alex interrupted, but Lena waved her hand dismissively.

“I only had a five-person team on the project. I don’t care which of the five was responsible, they’re all out. I guess the old saying is true, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

“Lena, you can’t resume this project yourself either,” Alex cautioned. “If you’re caught even researching how to remove the lead from the atmosphere, you’ll be arrested for defying a federal order.”

“Then what would you have me do, Alex? Tell Kara that her baby is going to die as soon as she delivers?” Lena exclaimed angrily. Alex only raised a brow in response to her outburst. Lena took a deep breath and blinked back hot tears. “My apologies. I shouldn’t take my frustrations out on you. We’re on the same side, after all.”

“I understand, Lena, I do,” Alex said, reaching into her jacket pocket. “Which brings me to the other reason for my visit.”

She pulled a black flashdrive from her pocket and offered it to Lena. The CEO took hold of the opposite end but Alex didn’t automatically release her vice-like grip on the device.

“This drive contains all the information the DEO has collected on Kryptonian and Daxamite biology,” Alex told her, her expression severe. “I don’t have to tell you how classified this information is or how much trouble I would be in if anyone knew I was giving it to you.”

Lena nodded. “I understand. I give you my word that I will be the only person with access to this information.”

Alex nodded and let go of the drive. “I trust you, Lena. Not as a DEO agent, but as Kara Danvers’s sister. If you need anything else that we might have in storage— blood or tissue samples, for example— I will do my best to get it for you. And if you need any help on this project, you have my services when I’m not working for the DEO— I’m not exactly useless in a lab.”

“I’d say you’re the expert on this,” Lena replied. “I appreciate this, Alex, more than you know. I promised Kara that I would fix this. I may be a Luthor, but I do care about her.”

“I know you do,” Alex said, sitting back in her chair and leveling Lena with a look that was far too knowing for Lena’s liking. “Lena, Kara has… Kara’s been through a lot, you know that. I don’t think she can handle anything else… heavy right now.”

Lena raised her brows in an expression that she hoped was far more nonchalant than she felt. “I don’t know what you mean. My only goals with Kara are to ensure the health of her child, once it’s born, and try to be there for her in the meantime— as her friend.”

“Hmm,” Alex hummed, her eyes flickering to Lena’s unfinished glass of scotch. “Well, I’ll leave you to your work. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Of course,” Lena replied as Alex stood. They shook hands as if they had just completed a business transaction, and Lena wondered if the agent was trained to feel her racing pulse through their joined hands.

“Oh, one more thing,” Alex said as she walked toward the door. “Kara’s having a game night tomorrow night at her apartment. She would really like it if you would come.”

Lena bit the side of her tongue at Alex’s words. “She texted me about that last night. I told her I would probably be busy working.”

“Did she tell you that she’s planning to tell the rest of her friends about the baby?” Alex asked, and Lena shook her head. “I figured as much. It would mean a lot to her if you were there, Lena. She needs all the support she can get right now.”

Lena nodded in affirmation. “I’ll rearrange some things. I’ll be there.”

“Thank you,” Alex said sincerely. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

“Tomorrow night,” Lena confirmed with a nod. Once the doors were closed behind the agent, Lena turned and leaned against the cool wood and sighed.

She was so screwed.

 

*******

“Lena! You made it!”

Lena’s eyes widened as Kara pulled her through the door and into a tight hug. Game night was already in full swing in the apartment, if the noise level was any indication.

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” she said as they separated. “I got caught up in the lab and didn’t realize what time it was until my assistant reminded me that I was supposed to leave an hour ago.”

“It’s fine, I’m just glad you’re here,” Kara said, grabbing Lena’s hand and squeezing gently.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Lena assured her.

Kara tugged her through the apartment to the livingroom where her other friends were already gathered around. Lena recognized Alex, of course, and her fiance, Maggie. Then there was Winn Schott from the DEO, and James Olsen from CatCo. A petite woman was perched on the arm of the sofa beside James, and something about her looked familiar to Lena but she couldn’t place her.

“Look who’s here!” Kara announced, pulling Lena down to sit beside her on the opposite end of the sofa from James. “Oh, Lena, you probably haven’t met Lucy. Lena Luthor, meet Lucy Lane. Lucy, this is Lena.”

“Oh, that’s where I know you!” Lena exclaimed. “You’re…”

“Lois’s sister, yeah,” Lucy said with an eye roll. “If you promise not to ever mention it again, I promise to never mention your older sibling, either.”

Lena’s eyes widened. “Sounds like a good deal.”

Lucy nodded and bent down to whisper something to James. Kara took that moment to lean over and whisper in Lena’s ear.

“They were a thing.”

Were?” Lena questioned.

“Exactly,” Kara said, wiggling her eyebrows. “Lucy just moved back to National City from D.C. We’re all kind of plotting to get them back together, but from the looks of things it’s not going to take much.”

Lena nodded in agreement. Her attention was drawn from Kara when a glass of wine appeared in her face. She looked up at Alex, who looked much happier than the last time she had seen her.

“You’re probably gonna need this,” Alex said as Lena accepted the glass. Then her brown eyes narrowed and she looked Lena up and down. “Are those the same clothes you were wearing yesterday?”

Lena felt her cheeks turn pink and she took a big gulp of the wine. She had thought the black slacks and white blouse were commonplace enough, but leave it to the eagle-eyed agent to notice something so trivial.

“I may have pulled an all-nighter at L-Corp dealing with the issues you brought to my attention yesterday, and reviewing the information you gave me,” she said quickly, taking another sip of wine.

Lena had gotten a lot done in the last twenty-six-and-a-half hours at L-Corp. She’d sobered up quickly after Alex left her office and stuffed her emotions back into the appropriate boxes— she had work to do.

After she’d set her human resources department to drafting severance packages to the scientists who had been working on the atmospheric lead project and set her lawyers to picking apart the presidential order for any loopholes, she’d went to work studying the information on the flash drive Alex had given her.

The alien biology was fascinating to Lena because of her very nature, but even more so because it gave her a chance to learn more about Kara. She had spent all night in her office, poring over the information and making notes for later. By the time the sun rose over the National City skyline, Lena had a plan of action. That alone filled her with a mixture of confidence and fear— confidence that she now had a plan, and fear that it could fail in so many ways. As a scientist Lena had failed exponentially more times than she had succeeded. But she couldn’t allow herself to fail this— she couldn’t fail Kara.

When Jess reported to work Lena had her cancel all of her scheduled meetings for the day. She’d spent one hour firing the scientists, and for once she didn’t feel any remorse from firing employees. Then she’d spent another hour in legal dealing with the presidential order. After she was finished there, Lena had spent the rest of her day in the lab.

She was running off caffeine and willpower by the time Jess interrupted her and reminded her of game night at Kara’s. She took just enough time to make sure her lab and office were left in pristine condition before grabbing her things and heading out. She hadn’t even taken time to go by the hotel room she was living out of before heading to Kara’s.

“Lena, you can’t do that,” Kara chided.

“I had very important work to do, Kara,” she replied, glancing down toward Kara’s stomach in what she hoped was a subtle gesture.

“Yes, but you have to take care of yourself, too,” Kara said, reaching up and tucking a stray strand of hair behind Lena’s ear. The motion made Lena’s breath catch, but she tried to not let it show. Before she could comment, Winn was shoving a beat-up fedora filled with bits of paper into Kara’s face.

“Come on, it’s game night, let’s pick a game,” he insisted.

Kara rolled her eyes and pulled a piece of paper from the hat. “Scrabble.”

Alex and Lucy groaned simultaneously. “Seriously?”

“Hey, don’t knock Scrabble,” James said, poking Lucy in the side.

“Okay, but the usual rules apply,” Lucy replied. “No foreign languages,” she pointed at Kara and Maggie, “no medical terminology,” she pointed at Alex before finally turning to Winn, “and no geeky tech lingo.”

“That hardly seems fair,” Winn muttered under his breath.

“I am not spending the majority of the game Googling words to see if they’re actually real words,” Lucy told him. “And I can’t even Google Kryptonian.”

“It’s like you don’t trust us,” Kara said, feigning hurt.

“Not even a little bit, Danvers,” Lucy replied with a huff.

Lena chuckled at their antics but pulled a handful of squares from the bag.

Kara won at Scrabble without breaking any of the rules, much to Lucy’s chagrin. The next game out of the hat was Apples to Apples, which James somehow won in spite of Alex swearing her combinations were the funniest every round. Monopoly was drawn out third, but that idea was quickly nixed because “Is there really any doubt that the actual CEO would kick our asses?” (Lena did in fact have many doubts that she would, as she had never actually played the board game, but she didn’t say that out loud.) They drew again and the card said Poker, which made both Lucy and Maggie jump up from their seats in excitement.

“I’ll get the chips,” Maggie volunteered, heading for the closet.

“I’m getting another drink,” Alex said, and her voice sounded like she thought she was going to need it.

“Yeah, I think a snack break is definitely in order,” James said, moving to stand up from his seat.

“Actually, um, before we do that,” Kara interrupted, “I need to tell you guys something.”

Lena could feel the tension radiating off Kara’s form beside her. She took Kara’s hand between hers and squeezed reassuringly.

“We— I mean, I have an announcement to make,” Kara said softly.

“Oh my God, you and Lena are dating!” Lucy shouted excitedly.

Alex nearly choked on her wine. Lena was glad she hadn’t been drinking anything at the time or she might’ve done the same thing. She yanked her hands away from Kara’s like they were on fire and shuffled away from her as much as she could on the lumpy sofa.

“What?!” she and Kara exclaimed at the same time.

“I mean, you guys are kind of—” Winn chimed in.

“She’s not even gay, you idiots,” James said, smacking both Winn and Lucy in the heads— Winn with much more force than Lucy.

“Ow!” Winn huffed, rubbing his skull.

“Not cool, babe,” Lucy complained.

“That’s not… No, we’re not dating,” Kara stuttered, shooting Lena an apologetic look.

“So, what’s the announcement?” James asked.

“I’m, um… I’m pregnant,” Kara said, her voice barely loud enough to be heard.

Silence. Lena had honestly never heard Kara’s apartment so quiet, particularly on a game night. Lena could see the realization dawn on all of their faces as they put two and two together.

“Like, with a baby?” Winn said finally.

“No, with a pony, dumbass,” Lucy quipped. “Of course she means she’s pregnant with a baby.”

Maybe it was exhaustion, or anxiety, or a little of both, but Lena couldn’t stop herself. She burst into laughter. A moment later Kara was laughing beside her, and after that it was like a dam had burst. The room was filled with laughter again and James pulled Kara from the sofa and into a strong hug.

“Congratulations,” he said, though his voice wasn’t quite as joyful as it might’ve been in another situation. Lena knew why—they all did.

“Thanks, James,” Kara said, hugging him back just as tightly.

“Yeah, congratulations,” Winn said, pulling Kara away from James and into his own hug. Mid-embrace his eyes got huge and he pulled away, much to Kara’s confusion. He looked her up and down, eyes finally settling on her stomach. “Oh my god, you’re pregnant! With a baby! There’s a baby in there!”

“Good to know you passed fifth grade human growth and development class, Winn,” Alex muttered as she returned to her seat with a very full glass of wine.

Kara, on the other hand, was giggling at Winn’s antics. “Yep, Alex did a sonogram today. There’s definitely a baby in there.”

“Oh my god!” Winn bent down until his head was level with Kara’s stomach. “Hi, little guy! Or girl. Are you even a guy or girl yet? Are you a tadpole? Holy crap, what do alien fetuses even look like, Kara?”

“C’mere, Winn, I have pictures,” Alex said, pulling a stack of papers from her purse.

“Ahh! Baby’s first pictures!” Winn exclaimed, making his way over to Alex.

Lucy was much more sedate than the boys. She took Kara’s hands in hers and spoke so quietly Lena almost couldn’t hear her.

“Have you told Clark and Lois?” she asked.

“Yeah, I told them a couple of weeks ago,” Kara replied. “They were… happy. Worried for me, of course, but happy.”

“And are you? Happy, I mean?” Lucy asked.

“Yeah, I am,” Kara sighed. “I mean… It’s not ideal, obviously, doing this without… well, doing this alone. But I’m happy about the baby. I’m happy about being a mom. And I’m not really alone, I guess. I’ve got you guys.”

“You sure do,” Lucy said with a smile. She tugged Kara into a tight hug as well, then went to the kitchen to get another beer.

Kara plopped down beside Lena on the sofa, and they returned to their earlier positions with Lena practically curled into Kara’s side.

“That went well,” Lena said after a moment.

“Yeah, they’re all really great,” Kara said. “I’m sorry about what Lucy said, by the way. I don’t know where she got that idea, honestly.”

Lena, on the other hand, knew exactly where Lucy got that idea, but she wasn’t going to tell Kara that.

“It’s fine,” she said instead.

“I mean, she’s a little crazy,” Kara shrugged. “But she’s a good person.”

Lucy was not a good person when it came to poker. Lena thought she knew the meaning of the word ruthless until she played poker with Lucy Lane and Maggie Sawyer. Alex was almost as bad. Kara, for being the girl of steel, had no poker face, so she was the first one out, followed by Winn. Lena was out shortly behind them, although from an unlucky draw rather than a horrible poker face. Lena settled back into Kara’s side on the sofa and tried to follow along with the game between all the other women trash talking James and each other— but mainly James. The last thing Lena remembered was Lucy gloating victoriously as she took over half of James’s chips in a hand.

*******

“Hey, Lena, wake up.”

Lena pulled herself out of the haze of sleep slowly and unwillingly. She was comfortable, or as comfortable as she could be wearing her work clothes and halfway sitting upright, and warm, so, so warm, and tired, absolutely exhausted.

“Come on, sleepyhead, rise and shine,” Kara said, nudging her awake.

Lena opened her eyes to an empty apartment. Kara was still beside her, grinning. Lena pushed herself up and rubbed her eyes, no doubt smearing what was left of her makeup.

“I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” she said with a yawn. “You should’ve woken me up.”

“You needed to rest,” Kara said sternly. “You’re exhausted.”

“I’ll be fine, just ten more minutes,” Lena said, leaning back against the sofa cushions and closing her eyes again.

“So… Alex told me about the court order,” Kara said softly.

Lena’s eyes shot open at that and she turned to look at Kara. “That’s nothing to worry about.”

“Lena, of course it is!” Kara exclaimed, but Lena just shook her head, wide awake now.

“No, actually, it’s not,” she told her. “Listen, Lex once told me that all legal documents have loopholes, especially those crafted by the government. And in this case, he was right. I’ve read through the legalese three times myself and had my lawyers inspect it as well. The order forbids me or anyone in my employ from attempting to remove the lead from the atmosphere. It doesn’t forbid finding a cure for the lead poisoning itself.”

Kara’s eyes widened. “Seriously?”

Lena nodded. “It’s probably a smarter way to go, now that I think about it. I’ve already started studying exactly how Daxamites react to lead compared to human reactions. It has some similarities but the Daxamite reaction is much faster and more severe. It’s not like your reaction to the Kryptonite radiation at all, those are two completely different physiological processes. It’s really quite fascinating.”

Kara’s forehead crinkled. “Alex told me she gave you information on Kryptonian and Daxamite biology yesterday. You’ve already figured all of this out?”

Lena flushed. “Well, I may have ignored some basic human functions like sleeping and eating in the process, but…”

“Lena!” Kara admonished. “You can’t do that!”

“Kara, I told you that I’m going to solve this problem, and that’s what I’m going to do!” Lena said firmly.

“Yes, and I appreciate that, but I don’t want you to work yourself to death in the process,” Kara told her. “I know you, Lena Luthor. You’re so good, you put everyone else’s needs before your own because you don’t think you deserve to be taken care of. But if you work yourself until you crash, then you’re not going to be any good to anyone. So please, promise me that you’ll get an adequate amount of sleep while you’re working on this. And that you’ll eat regularly. Don’t make Supergirl force feed you your meals. What would your employees think?”

Lena snorted. “You would do that.”

“You betcha,” Kara nodded. “So promise me I won’t have to stoop to such levels.”

Lena sighed. “Okay, I’m not promising perfection. Because there will be nights that I have breakthroughs and spend too long in the lab and maybe even pull some allnighters. But I promise that if I pull an allnighter I will take it easy the next day and will not pull two allnighters in a row. And if I work through mealtime I will at least have a snack. Does that suffice?”

Kara leveled Lena with a stare that would have fit in any boardroom Lena had ever been inside. She held up a hand and Lena thought for a moment that she might demand they shake on it, but instead she held up her pinky finger toward Lena.

“Pinky promise?” she said.

“A what now?” Lena asked, looking at Kara’s hand with confusion. “Is this a Kryptonian thing?”

Kara’s eyes widened. “You— No, it’s not Kryptonian. It’s totally a human thing. Alex and I did this all the time when we were kids, sometimes we still do it. It’s a pinky promise. It’s just… I mean, it’s kind of like shaking hands but… different. How do you not know what a pinky promise is? Surely somebody in that boarding school you went to knew how to do a pinky promise.”

Lena felt her cheeks flush again. “Well, I guess I wasn’t exactly close enough to anyone to make many promises like that.”

Now Kara’s cheeks turned red as she realized what she had said. She nodded and swallowed slowly before raising her pinky again. “Well, then, I’ll be your first pinky promise.”

“Okay,” Lena said, holding up her own pinky and looking at Kara with a wary expression.

Kara looped her finger around Lena’s and moved their hands up and down quickly before releasing her. “There, now it’s binding. No take-backsies.”

Lena grinned at her playfulness. “No take backs.”

Kara nodded and returned Lena’s grin. Then suddenly her eyes widened and she hopped off the sofa so quickly Lena knew she had to be flying a little bit.

“Oh, I almost forgot, I wanted to give you something,” Kara said, crossing the room and digging through her purse. “Alex gave me a sonogram today to check on the baby’s progress.”

“Oh, yeah, is everything alright?” Lena asked.

Kara’s smile as she practically floated back to the sofa was answer enough. She snuggled up to Lena’s side and held out a handful of card-sized, thick paper. A grainy, black and white image was printed on each one.

Oh.

Lena held the sonogram image like something precious in her hands. She had enough experience with medical imaging to know what to look for, and what she saw was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

“I didn’t expect it to look so… human,” Lena murmured.

“Why, because it’s an alien?” Kara asked, her voice confused and maybe a little offended.

“No, not that, just because of how early it is,” Lena said quickly. “I mean you’re only, what, twelve weeks now?”

“As of yesterday,” Kara nodded. “I know, it feels like it’s going so fast.”

“I just kind of envisioned some soft of blob or bean or something,” Lena said. “Not this.”

Kara giggled and rested her head on Lena’s shoulder. “I mean, it is still super tiny. But it’s definitely more than a blob.”

“It already has a face and a nose and everything,” Lena said, running her fingers reverently across the glossy surface of the image. “And it’s… it’s inside you.”

“Yep, snug as a bug,” Kara said, reaching down to stroke at her belly.

Lena laughed as a memory came back to her. “Remember when I asked if you had a stomach bug?”

Kara laughed along with her. “Yeah, a baby bug.” Suddenly her face softened and she looked down at her belly. “Hey, Baby Bug! I like that!”

“Baby Bug?” Lena asked, wrinkling her nose.

“Yeah, as a nickname,” Kara said brightly, and Lena couldn’t argue with her infectious grin even if part of her did think the nickname was a little ridiculous.

“Okay, Baby Bug it is,” Lena declared.

They both collapsed into giggles. Lena reached over and placed a hand on Kara’s stomach.

“Don’t you worry, Baby Bug,” she said softly. “Auntie Lena’s on the case. I’m gonna find a way to make sure this nasty lead doesn’t hurt you once you’re out of your mommy’s belly, I promise. Pinky promise.”

When she looked back up at Kara, her friend’s blue eyes were wet with tears.

“What did I ever do to deserve a friend like you, Lena Luthor?” Kara asked.

“I ask myself the same question about you every day, Kara Danvers. Every single day.”

Chapter Text

Lena hated board meetings with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. Meetings with department heads she loved, small meetings with investors she could handle, but sitting in a group of arrogant old white men, most of whom had been on her brother’s payroll before she ever took over LuthorCorp and renamed it— there was a long list of things she would much rather be doing, the first of which was working in her lab on a way to cure the Daxamite lead poisoning, the last of which was prying her fingernails off one by one.

“As you can see in this graph of projected growth versus projected output,” one of her shareholders was saying, gesturing to an outdated graphic that Lena knew was from at least five years prior. Lena didn’t hear the rest of his words, however, as her attention was drawn to her CFO’s seat near the opposite end of the table. The man was gesticulating wildly and speaking in hushed tones to his assistant, a woman Lena had recently hired personally from another company L-Corp had taken over.

“It won’t happen again,” the woman, Samantha Arias, said in hushed tones.

“It certainly won’t!” Cecil Barrett, her CFO, said with a huff. “You’re excused from your position, Miss Arias. I’ll deal with HR when this meeting is over. Now go!”

The tall young woman stood and hurried from the meeting, drawing everyone’s attention. Lena noted that Sam’s brown eyes were damp as she hurried past. The speaker’s voice droned to a stop as he realized that no one was paying him any mind.

“Well, I think that’s as good a place as any to conclude things this week,” Lena announced, pushing her chair back.

“But, Miss Luthor, I wasn’t quite finished with my slides,” the flustered shareholder objected, even though everyone around the table was following Lena’s lead and standing.

“Yes, I’m aware,” Lena replied. “Mr. Graham, we will begin next week’s meeting with your presentation.” Lena heard at least a couple of barely suppressed groans from around the table. “However, I expect your graphics and data to be updated to recent statistics, say, at least within the last year, or I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to end the presentation again. We cannot make business decisions with outdated material, and I won’t waste another minute of our time reviewing such data. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Luthor,” the man said quickly, clearly flustered at being called out.

“Also, if you find that more recent data does not in fact support your opinion,” Lena added, because she suspected that was the case. “Perhaps you should find a better argument against our investments in alien medical tech?”

Lena hurried from the room, following behind her CFO.

“Mr. Barrett,” she called, and the short, balding man stopped with an impatient huff and turned to her. “I couldn’t help but notice there seemed to be some sort of disagreement between you and Miss Arias. Is everything alright?”

“It wasn’t exactly a disagreement, Miss Luthor,” the man said simply. “It simply seems that Miss Arias is not fully capable of completing her duties as assigned, so I released her from her position as my assistant.”

“You fired her,” Lena summarized. “Mr. Barrett, I placed Miss Arias in that position with utmost confidence that not only could she complete her duties as assigned but that she would grow and develop into a much bigger asset for our company.”

“Are you telling me that I don’t have the authority to fire an employee under my leadership, Miss Luthor?”

Lena bit her tongue. “Not at all. I am simply curious what duties Miss Arias was unable to complete?”

“Well, firstly, there is the issue of the morality clause in her contract,” Mr. Barrett said slowly, as if explaining to a child.

Lena blinked at the man. “And how exactly has she broken the morality clause?”

Mr. Barrett huffed. “She has a child.”

Lena raised her eyebrows. This was news to her. But still… “I fail to see how that relates to the morality clause, Mr. Barrett.”

“She has a child and is unmarried, Miss Luthor,” the man said in a stage whisper, as if this was scandalous information.

Lena was silent for a long moment, unsure of how to handle the situation. Finally, humorless laughter bubbled from her throat.

“We are in the twenty-first century California, not puritanical Massachusetts. A child out of wedlock is hardly anything out of the ordinary in this day and age, and it certainly doesn’t reflect negatively on the company, which is the purpose of the morality clause in our contracts,” Lena told him, her tone firm.

Well,” her CFO sputtered. “Perhaps… perhaps you’re right.” Lena knew she was right, but she let that slide. “But that still does not negate the fact that she is unable to complete her duties as assigned.”

“Which duties has she not completed?” Lena asked.

“There… She has her child here with her,” he replied.

Lena blinked slowly, as if maybe this idiot would disappear while her eyes were closed. “You did not answer my question, Mr. Barrett.”

“We are not a daycare, Miss Luthor!” Mr. Barrett exclaimed.

“Of course,” Lena replied. “But does she bring the child here every day?”

“No.”

“Has she ever brought her child to work before today?”

“No.”

“And did you ask her why she brought her child with her today?”

The CFO’s ears were turning bright red. “No, I did not.”

“And, I ask yet again, which duties has she been unable to complete, Mr. Barrett?” Lena said, her voice even. “Or has Miss Arias, in fact, managed to complete all of her assigned duties while also caring for her child during the work day?” She didn’t wait for the sputtering man to answer the question. “Actually, Mr. Barrett, I believe I have a solution to this problem. Miss Arias is no longer under your leadership, so her performance will no longer be your concern.”

“Eh… Miss Luthor?” the man stammered, confused.

“I will contact HR this afternoon about switching Miss Arias to work directly beneath me,” Lena replied. “Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Barrett.”

She left the man sputtering in the hallway. She didn’t head back to her office or to her lab. Instead she made her way to the small office near the CFO’s larger one, where she found Samantha Arias sitting in her desk chair cradling a small girl in her arms.

“She’s cute,” Lena said, pulling Sam’s attention to her.

“Miss Luthor!” Sam exclaimed. “I’m sorry, I’ll just…”

“No, it’s fine,” Lena said, stepping further into the office. She could see where Sam had several blankets and a pillow on the floor behind her desk, stuffed purple unicorn on top. “How old is she?”

“She’s five,” Sam replied. “Her name is Ruby.”

Lena nodded. The little girl was snoring lightly into Sam’s shoulder. Her brown hair and olive complexion matched Sam’s. Lena had no doubt that when she woke up she would have the same chocolate brown eyes as well.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought her,” Sam said softly. “I normally take her to a summer day-camp at the Y but there was an incident this morning…”

“I saw that,” Lena replied, knowing that Sam was talking about the aliens trying to rob a bank and Superman stopping them only to be thrown into a local YMCA.

“I spent all of my free time this morning calling different sitters, but nobody was available. I thought about calling in, but Mr. Barrett needed me here for the board meeting today, so I just brought her with me,” Sam explained. “I swear, Miss Luthor, she hasn’t disturbed anyone. She won’t… Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter now.”

“Actually, it does,” Lena interrupted. “Er, well… You’re not fired, is what I’m saying.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “Seriously?”

Lena nodded and smiled widely. “Seriously. Actually, I’d like to give you a promotion, if you’re up to it.”

Sam stared at her in shock for a long moment before the little girl in her arms began shifting. Ruby stretched in her mother’s arms, nearly falling out of her grasp as she flung her head backward. She yawned and looked around with bleary eyes that were just as brown as Lena expected.

“Where’s my fluffy corn?” she asked seriously, looking around. Her eyes landed on Lena. “Who’re you?” Her eyes widened comically and she looked down at her belly, then at Sam. “I’m hungry, Mama.”

Sam looked up at Lena with wide eyes.

“How about we talk about it over lunch?” Lena suggested. “You can bring Ruby as well. I know a little diner just around the corner that’s sure to have a kid’s menu.”

Which is how, fifteen minutes later, Lena found herself on one side of a red vinyl booth opposite Sam and her daughter. Ruby was busying herself with a handful of crayons and a coloring sheet the waitress had brought them, and Sam was looking over the menu. Lena couldn’t help but stare at Ruby with fascination.

She had never been around children much, had avoided them really. She didn’t consider herself the maternal type, having no role models to reference. Children were hyper and sticky and definitely not in her life plan. But here was Ruby, and she seemed to be the complete opposite of what Lena had always thought of children. She wondered, for a moment, if Kara’s child would be like this— if so, maybe she could actually handle it.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Sam said, pulling her attention back.

“Oh, um, it’s nothing, I just… I’ve never been around children much. And here I am with you and Ruby, and I just don’t quite know what to do,” Lena shrugged.

“Ah, yeah,” Sam nodded. “Well, good news, Ruby is blessedly low-maintenance. Give her something to color or an iPad and she’s entertained for hours. Just don’t try to tell her how she’s supposed to do something. Right Rubes?”

“Mmhmm,” the little girl mumbled, focus unwavering from her artwork. She stuck her tongue out slightly as she worked, and Lena found her heart warming at the adorable expression.

“So if she’s five then…”

Sam sighed. “I had her when I was nineteen. Freshman year of college, first party of the year, and I got knocked up. My adoptive mother cut me off. Thankfully, my college had some great programs for single parents and I had an advisor that helped me get financial aid. I still managed to go to school full time and hold down a job to support us both.”

“And her father?” Lena asked.

“Not in the picture,” Sam said decisively. “His loss.”

Lena nodded. Ruby didn’t seem fazed by their conversation. She put down her red crayon and studied her picture with a furrowed brow before picking up the blue one.

A waitress came and took their orders, and Lena began explaining her proposition to Sam.

“Ever since I took over as CEO I’ve been trying to clean house, figuratively speaking,” Lena told her. “Many of my employees worked for Lex, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad, a lot of them are just good people who need jobs, but some of them are still loyal to him and his way of thinking. It’s not quite as bad here in National City as it was in Metropolis, but it’s still a problem.”

“Is that why you made me Mr. Barrett’s assistant instead of letting him hire his own?” Sam asked.

Lena grinned— the woman was sharp. “That’s exactly why I did it. There’s something fishy happening with L-Corp’s financials, and Mr. Barrett may not be behind it, but he does seem to be turning a blind eye to it. In time, I had hoped that you would end up finding the source as part of your work with him, but after this morning… Well, I need a new plan. It’s not nearly as subtle, but my proposal is that you review all financial reports and deliver them to me directly. I’m sure if I had the time I could find the discrepancies, but I have so much on my plate that I can’t devote my own time to finding it.”

“And after we find the source of the discrepancies?” Sam asked.

Lena raised a brow. “Well, whoever is at the root of the discrepancies will certainly be out of their job. And I’ll need someone trustworthy to take their place.”

Sam mulled over the proposal as the waitress brought their food and positioned it in front of them. Ruby immediately put down her crayons in favor of chicken strips and French fries. She looked across the table at Lena’s plate and wrinkled her nose.

“What’s those?” she asked, pointing to Lena’s plate.

“What are these?” Lena said, gesturing to the dish Ruby was pointing to. “These are fried pickles. Would you like to try one?”

Ruby nodded but wrinkled her nose. Lena dipped one of the smaller ones into her ranch dressing and held it toward Ruby. Instead of taking it with her hand, the little girl rose over the table and took the bite directly out of Lena’s fingers with her mouth. Lena couldn’t help but chuckle, even as Sam rolled her eyes at her daughter’s antics. Ruby sat back down and chewed thoughtfully before wrinkling her nose and swallowing.

“I ate it, but it’s not good,” Ruby said, reaching for a chicken strip instead.

“It’s an acquired taste,” Lena said with a shrug. “How do you like National City, Ruby?”

Ruby shrugged. “I like it. Our new house is big, and I have a princess bed. Mama says I get to go to school next month, and I’ll have the best teachers in the whole city.”

“The house L-Corp set us up in is more than I could ever imagine,” Sam said quickly. “It’s in a great neighborhood and the elementary school is the best in the city.”

“You’d be able to keep it, with your new position,” Lena promised her.

Sam sighed. “I guess I don’t have much of a choice.”

“You always have a choice,” Lena told her. “You’re very capable, Sam. If you want to look for a different position, I’ll write you a recommendation myself.”

Sam studied her for a moment. “You know, I didn’t expect you to be like this when you stole me away from my old job.”

Lena snorted. “You weren’t that hard to steal, considering your old company was about to go under due to horrible management.”

“True,” Sam replied. “It’s nice to work for someone who actually cares about their employees. I think I’d like to continue that.”

Lena smiled broadly. “We’ll go over the particulars when we get back to the office.”

Sam nodded.

“Miss Lena?” Ruby said, interrupting their conversation. “What’s your favorite color?”

Lena looked back at the little girl and smiled broadly. “My favorite’s blue. What’s yours?”

“Purple,” Ruby replied.

“I like purple, too,” Lena said.

——

“Are you sure this is the right place?”

Lena looked down at her phone, checking the address Kara had sent her for the fifth time in as many minutes, as her driver stopped in front of a run-down apartment building.

“This is the one,” she said, firing off a text to Kara. “It’ll be fine, I’m sure.”

The man looked at her skeptically before parking beside the curb. He got out and opened the door for her, and Lena looked around distastefully. This definitely wasn’t the part of town she usually visited. Trash bags were piled around the bin near the corner, graffiti decorated the sides of the closest buildings, and the windows of the building she was approaching were covered in bars.

“Just call if you need me, Miss Luthor,” her driver said as she stepped away from the car and toward the building.

The building door flew open and Lena was greeted with Kara’s smiling face. It immediately brightened her mood and she hurried toward the building only to be pulled into a tight hug.

“Kara, what exactly are we doing here?” Lena asked as she followed Kara up several narrow flights of stairs. Kara’s text message of I need your help, please come ASAP hadn’t exactly given her much to go by.

“Well, Alex was supposed to meet me to help me check out apartments, but something came up at the DEO,” Kara replied sheepishly. “I shouldn’t have interrupted you at work, but I was kind of freaking out for a second opinion.”

Lena’s eyes widened. “No, it’s fine. So this is, um… This is one of the apartment buildings you’re looking into?”

“Yeah,” Kara nodded. “It’s not as nice as my current building, but my current place doesn’t have a two-bedroom unit available. I’ve been looking at tons of ads for two-bedroom apartments in my price range, and it’s a tough market. There’s plenty outside of my budget, don’t get me wrong, but on a reporter’s salary and buying enough food to nourish a Kryptonian, soon two Kryptonians… Well, things get tight sometimes.”

Lena’s heart pounded in her chest. She had never realized that Kara struggled. She lived on the rent-controlled side of town, sure, but her apartment was nice and warm and safe. She always had a full fridge and offered Lena food and drinks. But her apartment was a studio, though Kara separated the bedroom area from the living area with a huge curtain, and Lena knew rationally that apartments with multiple bedrooms were much more expensive in National City.

They finally came to the sixth floor of the building, and Lena was panting with the effort of climbing six sets of stairs in heels. A rather rotund man was waiting outside one of the rooms, and he gestured for them to enter with a grunt.

“This is Mr. Espino, the building’s superintendent,” Kara introduced the man, and he grunted at Lena in response. “And this is the place.”

Lena tried to see it through Kara’s eyes, because clearly her friend was trying to be her optimistic self. But Lena’s attention was pulled between the stained ceiling tiles, the small windows covered with bars, the chipping paint on the window sills, the badly-patched holes in the Sheetrock walls of the living room. The floor was cheap linoleum, and the tile in the kitchen was a horrendous shade of green. The appliances were aged and had clearly seen better days. Lena followed Kara through the apartment, down a narrow hallway. There was one small bathroom, possibly smaller than the one Kara had now, and that was saying something. There were two bedrooms, one of which had a small closet that smelled… odd.

Finally Mr. Espino began speaking, telling Kara some of the finer points— the laundry was all the way in the basement, seven floors down, the utilities were ridiculously high, in Lena’s opinion, for such a small apartment, the closest bus stop was two blocks away. Lena could feel sweat breaking out on her forehead as a single window unit air conditioning unit struggled to fight off the oppressive July heat.

“What about schools?” Lena asked, interrupting their conversation.

“Hmm?” Mr. Espino asked.

“What’s the closest elementary school?” Lena asked.

“That would be NCPS 14,” Mr. Espino replied.

Lena immediately went to work pulling up the school and other neighborhood data on her phone and shook her head.

“Kara, look at this!” Lena demanded, holding out her phone and clicking her tongue. “This will never do, this school is far behind the city average on test scores, and they’re known for bullying and gang activity! This whole area has a horrible crime rate, Kara, you can’t live here!”

“Lena, you know that stuff doesn’t really bother me,” Kara said, her voice low. She looked away from the superintendent and traced an S over the front of her shirt, as if Lena had forgotten.

“I know it might not bother you, but what about…” Lena trailed off, glancing down at Kara’s lower stomach. “You need to find an apartment in a safer neighborhood, Kara, with better schools.”

“I… Yeah, I guess,” Kara conceded, looking around.

Lena went back to typing into her phone. “Here, look at this! Two bedroom, two bath, newly remodeled and new appliances. A-plus school district.”

Kara looked at Lena’s phone and her eyes widened. “Yeah, Lena, but the price…”

“It’s only…”

“Lena,” Kara said patiently. “That’s my entire month’s salary, and then some.”

“Oh,” Lena said, reality hitting her like a brick wall. “Oh…”

“Yeah,” Kara sighed. “Look, I know you mean well, but I also know that money’s… well, money’s not exactly something you’ve ever had to worry about. So just… trust me, this is actually really good for me.”

Lena stared in shock as Kara went back to Mr. Espino and they began talking about rent and security deposits. She looked around the apartment, trying to imagine Kara here, trying to imagine her here with a baby. It made her stomach turn.

“Kara, wait!” she exclaimed, turning back around. “You can’t stay here!”

“Why not?” Kara asked.

“This paint!” Lena gestured to the chipping paint on the windowsill. “It could be lead based!”

Kara blinked at her slowly, then murmured something to Mr. Espino. The man gave her a business card, which Kara tucked into her pocket, and then she turned to Lena.

“Let’s go,” Kara said brusquely, hurrying from the apartment. Lena was hot on her heels; she couldn’t get out of the building fast enough.

Once they were at ground level, Kara stopped abruptly in front of Lena on the sidewalk. Lena actually ran into her friend’s back as she walked, and she was reminded exactly why they called her the Girl of Steel.

“Kara, what’s… Are you crying?”

“I shouldn’t have called you,” Kara said, looking down at her feet. “I know this isn’t the kind of place you’re used to…”

“Hey, it’s not that!” Lena argued. “I’m not judging the place or the people, Kara, you know me better than that. It’s just… You’re my friend. I want you to be safe, and I want your baby to be safe. I want the best for you, you know that.”

“But I can’t afford the best, Lena,” Kara exclaimed. “I can’t… On my own… I don’t know how…”

Lena stepped toward Kara but she held her hands up defensively.

“Don’t! Just don’t!” Kara exclaimed. “I know you mean well, Lena, but you have to understand reality, and the reality is that I’m going to be a single mom. I have to afford housing and childcare and utilities and transportation and food all on a reporter’s salary. I’m comfortable right now, Lena, but I don’t know… I don’t know…”

“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” Lena assured her, but Kara stepped back.

“You don’t know that!” Kara shouted, drawing the attention of what appeared to be a homeless man. “You don’t know that, Lena! Nothing is okay!”

“Kara, I—“ But before Lena could finish her sentence Kara was walking away in the direction of the nearest bus stop.

“Don’t follow me, Lena,” Kara called over her shoulder.

Lena blinked away tears as her friend disappeared around the corner. A familiar black town car pulled up beside her and her driver hopped out to open the door.

“Should we go pick her up, Miss Luthor?” he asked as he got back in.

“No,” she said softly. “No, but… Take me back to L-Corp. I have work to do.”

Chapter Text

Kara ignored all of her attempts at contact for the next week. Phone calls, text messages, even emails with videos of cute puppies were all ignored. And Lena hated being ignored. She hated being ignored by Kara even more. But even more than that, she hated that it was her own fault that she was being ignored.

None of her points about the apartment were inaccurate, she knew, and her intentions were good. But she also knew that Kara was right. Lena had never struggled for money, barely even acknowledged it beyond the facts and figures of running L-Corp and those numbers ranged in the hundreds of thousands. Ever since she inherited the Luthor estate and all of the accounts attached to it, she had never spared much thought for the amount of money in her bank accounts, she just knew that the money would be there if she made a purchase, whether it was a five dollar coffee or a five million dollar yacht.

That’s not to say she didn’t know what it was like to struggle. When she had left L-Corp to work with Jack, for those few wonderful years of freedom, Lex had frozen most of her assets. But even then, her big brother didn’t hate her enough to let her starve or be homeless. Even when her experiments didn’t bear fruit she had known her accounts would have enough to pay rent on her one-bedroom apartment in the safe side of Metropolis and enough for groceries at the higher-end markets.

But, Lena had to admit, she had never really known what it was like to be normal. She was part of the one percent and she wasn’t ashamed to say that she enjoyed it. Her financial resources didn’t just give her power, they gave her the ability to help the people she cared about.

And she was determined to do just that.

But she knew Kara, and Lena knew that her friend wouldn’t accept a handout, no matter how pure Lena’s intentions. So she would have to be a bit tricky in her delivery. Which, honestly, shouldn’t be that difficult for her.

She was a Luthor, after all.

Once everything was in place, she sent Kara an intentionally vague text message.

LL: I know I messed up, but I think I know how to make it up to you. Meet me at the following address this evening. I’ll bring apology donuts. <3 -L

She hadn’t received a response, but she went to the specified location anyway, two boxes of donuts in hand. She had just taken off her coat and placed the donuts on the kitchen counter when the doorbell rang, sending a nervous chill down her spine.

Kara stood on the front steps with wide eyes and a crinkled brow. Lena offered her a wide smile.

“Kara!” she exclaimed, inviting her in and pulling her into a tight hug. “I missed you!”

“I— I missed you too,” Kara murmured into her shoulder, returning the hug. “I’m sorry I didn’t answer any of your messages, I was just—“

“I know, I upset you, and I’m sorry,” Lena told her, pulling away. “I shouldn’t have said things the way I said them.”

“Well, it’s not like you were wrong,” Kara said, looking down at her feet.

“But still, I didn’t think of it from your side of things, didn’t consider what you must be dealing with, and for that I’m sorry,” Lena acknowledged. “You’re right, I grew up a Luthor, so I’ve never had to think about money the same way you have. So it was a bit of a shock, to really see what you’re having to deal with.”

“Yeah, it’s, um… It’s not always easy,” Kara replied as Lena took her coat.

“Come on, donuts are in the kitchen,” Lena said, tugging her along by the hand.

Kara’s eyes widened as they entered the spacious kitchen, taking in the light wood floors, the huge marble island, and the floor to ceiling windows that showed a large backyard with a lush green lawn. The space opened up to a large dining area with a long table that could seat at least a dozen people, and past that a large living area with a vaulted ceiling, a plush white sectional, and a floor to ceiling stone fireplace.

“Wow, this is gorgeous,” Kara said as Lena opened up one of the pink boxes and offered Kara her favorite variety of donut— the ones with hazelnut filling and sprinkles.

“You like it?” Lena asked.

“Yeah, of course, it’s amazing,” Kara replied, looking at the bronze and glass pendant lights that hung above the dining table.

“Good,” Lena said, clenching her hands anxiously, “because I bought it.”

“You bought it?” Kara exclaimed, eyes widening even further. “Wow! Lena!”

“I know,” Lena nodded. “I’ve been living out of that hotel room for so long, I thought it was about time I actually found a home of my own. I had been looking at apartments and things, but then, well… I decided this might solve both our problems.”

Kara’s head snapped around quickly and she coughed on her donut. “What?”

“Okay, hear me out,” Lena said quickly, trying to put on her best business-proposition face. “The house is huge— five bedroom, four baths, almost six thousand square feet— and it has two master suites. There’s plenty of room for the two of us and the baby when it gets here.”

“You want me to move in with you,” Kara said, browline crinkling again.

“I want you to rent two rooms from me,” Lena replied. “You can pay me whatever your current rent is, so that part of your budget will stay the same, and I’ll cover utilities and things so that part of your budget can go toward childcare.”

“Lena,” Kara sighed. “I don’t want handouts. I already told Eliza that I wasn’t going to depend on her and now…”

“It’s not a handout, Kara, you’d be paying me rent,” Lena corrected.

“Definitely not what the space is worth,” Kara argued.

“I don’t need what the space is worth, Kara, I need you to be safe and taken care of,” Lena told her.

“Why?” Kara asked. “Is this coming from some residual guilt over dispensing lead into the atmosphere? Because we made that decision together, it had to be done, and you’re not responsible—“

“No, it’s not guilt!” Lena exclaimed. “It’s not… It’s just… You’re my friend, Kara. One of the first real, genuine friends I’ve ever had in my entire life. You were the first person who believed in me when I came to National City. You looked past my last name and stood up for me when nobody else would.”

“And you don’t owe me anything for that, Lena,” Kara told her.

“It’s not… It’s not some feeling of guilt or because I think I owe you something,” Lena sighed. “It’s just… You’re my friend. I want to make sure you’re safe and taken care of. And believe me, this house, letting you live here, it’s not like it inconveniences me in the least. I needed a place to live, and it just so happens that you did as well, so why not spend my money on something that can benefit us both?”

Kara bit her lip, and Lena knew she at least had her hooked, now she just had to reel her in.

“You said you like the house, right?” Lena asked.

“I mean, yeah, it’s gorgeous,” Kara replied. “It reminds me of you, it’s so modern, but it’s kind of like…”

“The lighting and the wood reminds me of your apartment,” Lena commented. “That’s part of the reason I fell in love with the place. Let me show you around, okay? Don’t make your mind up until you get a feel for the place.”

Kara followed her through the house, to the first master suite that was on the first level.

“This would be my room,” she said as she opened the door. She had had all the rooms in the house sparsely furnished by an interior designer, and the young man had done a satisfactory job combining her own modern taste with Kara’s warm aesthetic. “This one has a small office attached that I thought would be helpful when I bring my work home with me. The closet is a bit smaller, but I can always store some of my off-season clothes somewhere else.”

Kara didn’t speak, just nodded as they made a brief circuit of the room. Next Lena led her back through the downstairs, toward the stairs that would take them upstairs.

“There’s a study and a home theater down this hall,” Lena told her, gesturing to the small space behind the stairs. “I’m thinking about having a piano moved into the study, and if you think the lighting is right we can put your paint supplies in there as well. And the home theater would be great for game nights.”

Kara made a noncommittal hum as they continued up the stairs. Lena opened the first door and ushered her in.

“And this would be your room,” she said with a sweeping gesture like she was presenting the prize on some sort of game show.

Kara stepped further into the room slowly, like she was afraid something might jump out at her. She looked around, taking in the soft grays and white of the upholstery, the large windows that allowed in plenty of natural sunlight, and the dark blue bedspread Lena had chosen herself.

“It looks a lot like your room,” Kara commented.

“Well, I suppose that’s what happens when you have an interior designer doing most of the work,” Lena chuckled. “But if you don’t like the furniture, if you want to move your own things in here instead, we can definitely do that.”

Kara looked around again. “Lena, I think we could fit my entire apartment in here.”

Lena barked out another laugh. “Well, like I said, it’s a big house.”

“It’s… It’s too much, Lena,” Kara said, but Lena just shook her head.

“I think it’s just right,” she said. “Look, we can even put a bassinet in here for after the baby’s born, so you won’t have to go that far in the first few weeks. Oh, and you haven’t even seen the bathroom yet.”

Lena had to admit, the two master bathrooms and all of the luxurious settings therein had been a big selling point for her. The fact that Kara’s entire bathroom could fit inside one of the subway-tiled showers had almost slipped her mind until the blonde pointed it out.

“Is your bathroom this big?” Kara asked.

“Pretty much,” Lena said with a shrug. “It doesn’t have his and hers sinks, but that’s the only real difference.”

Kara glanced back at the aforementioned sinks with a frown before following Lena back through the bedroom and out into the hallway.

“There are two guest rooms down that way, one of which has its own attached bathroom,” Lena told her. “I thought that would be perfect for Eliza if she wants to stay with you for a while once the baby is born.”

“You’ve really thought of everything, haven’t you?” Kara asked, biting her lip once again.

“There is one more room,” Lena said nervously, hand tightening on the doorknob until her knuckles turned white. “If there’s anything you don’t like we can change it, that’s fine, but… just consider it my gift to you and the baby, okay?”

She opened the door and led Kara into the room. It was the smallest bedroom, and Lena thought it might’ve been intended for another home office or something, but she thought it was the perfect size for a nursery. She had debated leaving it empty and letting Kara pick all of the decor, if she agreed to move in, but then she had found herself perusing nursery decor on her lunch break and suddenly her online shopping cart was full.

Kara’s eyes were wide as she looked around the room. Lena had kept the decor neutral, with pale gray walls and white furniture. A plush carpet covered the light hardwood floors, and thick white and gray striped curtains hung around the window. A plush navy and white glider sat in front of the window, a plush knit blanket already tossed artfully across the back. The crib itself sat between two built-in bookshelves, and above it.

Kara’s breath caught in her throat. “What… Did you…”

“That was the first thing I chose for this room,” Lena told her, looking up at the sign with her. It was a simple thing, not modern like the rest of the decor but rustic, whitewashed wooden boards with handwritten script across it. It was the quote that stood out to Lena.

We love you to the moon and back

Kara made a sound like a squeak and Lena looked at her only to realize she was crying.

“Hey, no, none of that, come here,” Lena ordered, pulling her by the hand. Kara sat down in the glider and Lena perched on the footrest, holding Kara’s hand in her own. “I didn’t mean to make you cry!”

“It happens a lot recently,” Kara said with a forced laugh. “It’s these stupid hormones.”

“What do you need? A tissue, some water? Oh, let me go get you another donut…”

This the laugh that escaped Kara was genuine. She looked up at Lena with wet but mirthful eyes.

“You’re just… perfect, you know that?”

Lena’s heart lodged somewhere in her throat and she looked away quickly as her cheeks flushed. “Hardly, I—“

Kara just laughed again. “I was prepared to say no, darn it. I was going to say no and then you showed me this.” She gestured around the room. “And it’s just… It’s too perfect for me to say no to.”

Lena looked back at her with wide eyes. “So you’ll move in with me?”

Kara smiled, and it was that soft smile that melted Lena’s heart whenever she saw it. “Yes, I’ll move in with you. But I’m going to pay you rent and part of the utilities, and at least the majority of the food bill because we both know I’ll be eating way more food than you.”

“Okay,” Lena said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Okay, wow, okay…”

Kara’s soft smile turned into a mischievous grin. “You were expecting more of an argument, weren’t you?”

“I may or may not have a spreadsheet presentation prepared downstairs,” Lena told her. “I was very thorough.”

“I’m sure you were,” Kara said, looking down. Lena followed her gaze down to where their hands were still joined, resting on Kara’s knee.

Lena cleared her throat and stood, letting go of Kara’s hand. “Well, I also have sparkling grape juice to celebrate, and there are still more donuts.”

“Sparkling grape juice?” Kara asked. “Sure of yourself, were you?”

Lena raised her brow. “What can I say, I have my methods of persuasion.”

Kara coughed. “I’m sure you do.”

They made their way back downstairs, and Kara squealed with laughter when Lena popped the cork on the sparkling grape juice and poured it into champagne flutes. They sat at the massive kitchen island with donuts between them and raised their glasses in a toast.

“To us,” Lena said, trying to control the way her heart fluttered at the words. “You, and me, and Baby Bug. We’re always going to take care of each other, no matter what.”

Kara grinned. “To friendship.”

Lena’s throat constricted at the words. “To best friends.”

They clinked their glasses together and drank. Lena found herself wishing it had actual alcohol. When Kara left, about an hour later, she broke into the cabinet above the sink where she had stored her expensive scotch. She downed one glass quickly, the smooth woody flavor wasted on her current state of emotions.

She was going to live with her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was pregnant and straight and definitely never going to reciprocate her feelings.

Lena poured another glass and made a mental note to order more alcohol, and a childproof cabinet she could lock it away in. She was definitely going to need it.

——

“What’s your plan, Luthor?”

Lena looked up from refilling her glass of punch. She wasn’t sure how Kara had convinced her that they should have a housewarming party— actually, she was pretty sure all Kara had to do was bat her baby blues at her and she would agree to anything— but here she was standing over her kitchen island covered with finger foods, her house full of people she barely knew, some of whom had superpowers and some of whom weren’t even from this universe. She had only invited two people personally— her assistant, Jess, and Samantha Arias and her daughter— the rest of the guest list was made up of Kara’s family and friends.

Which was how she found herself staring across the punch bowl at Clark Kent, Superman himself.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Kent,” she said, schooling her features.

Clark took a sip of his own punch. “Kara likes to see the best in everyone. And usually so do I. But there was a time when I trusted Lex almost as much as she trusts you.”

“I remember,” Lena said evenly. “I was there.”

“Yes, and we both know how that turned out,” Clark said.

“I am not my brother,” Lena hissed.

“No,” he agreed. “You’re much smarter than Lex, I can tell. And harder to read.”

“There’s nothing to read, Mr. Kent,” Lena told him. “I’ve always been honest with you, from the day you and Kara walked into my office, unlike the two of you.”

Clark’s eyes widened in surprise. “Well, you can’t exactly blame us for hiding our identities from a Luthor.”

“No, I don’t,” Lena agreed. “I don’t even blame you for mistrusting my intentions with your cousin. You’re right, she is often far too trusting, wanting to see the best in people. It’s one of her most endearing and annoying qualities, if I’m being honest. But the thing is, she does see the best in me, and it makes me want to live up to it. It makes me value her friendship all the more.”

Clark looked like he was about to say more, but he was interrupted by a flash of auburn hair.

“Hey, you two, stop monopolizing the punch bowl,” Alex said as she stepped between them to refill her cup. “Clark, I think Lois was looking for you.”

The Kryptonian looked from Alex, back to Lena, and finally sighed and went looking for his girlfriend. Alex turned to Lena with a curious expression.

“Thanks for that,” Lena said, leading her away from the island.

“No problem, I know he can be a little intense,” Alex said with a shrug. “What was his issue?”

“He wanted to know what my intentions are with Kara,” Lena replied and Alex snorted into her drink. “Not those kinds of intentions! More like evil plot, murdery intentions.”

“Ah, gotcha,” Alex nodded. “Well, he doesn’t know you like we do. And he should at least trust my judgement even if he doesn’t trust Kara.”

“And what’s your judgement?” Lena asked, sipping her punch.

“I know you don’t have any murdery intentions,” Alex said sagely. “The other kind of intentions though…”

Now it was Lena’s turn to almost choke on her drink. “What?”

Alex looked around the room, so Lena did as well. Kara was busy talking to Eliza and Sam, who Lena had introduced to her earlier. Alex reached up and took Lena by the upper arm and led her out the open doors onto the patio where they could at least get a bit of privacy.

“Don’t what me,” Alex said. “It might’ve taken me until my late twenties to figure out that I’m gay, but even I can recognize a look of gay pining when I see it.”

“I am not… I… I’m bi,” Lena said finally.

“And you like my sister,” Alex said.

Lena sighed. “Alex it’s not…”

“Lena, please don’t lie to me. I’m not going to be upset, I just need to have an honest conversation with you,” Alex pleaded.

Lena stared at the DEO agent’s soft brown eyes and swallowed hard. She walked a few feet away and sat down on one of the patio chairs.

“Okay, fine,” she said. “I’m in love with her.”

Alex’s eyes bulged. “Oh, wow.”

“Seriously, Alex, you’re the one who asked!” Lena exclaimed.

“Yeah, but I just thought you had a little crush on her, not that you were in love with her,” Alex said, sitting on a chair opposite Lena. “Since when are you in love with her?”

“Since around the time Jack Spheer died,” Lena replied softly. “Maybe even before then.”

“Oh,” Alex breathed.

“Yeah,” Lena agreed. “She’s not exactly difficult to love, your sister. More the opposite, it’s like it was impossible not to fall for her, you know?”

“Jesus, Lena, and you asked her to move in with you?”

“I realize it might not have been the smartest idea,” Lena admitted. “But I was really worried about her, Alex. Did you see those apartments she was looking at?”

“Yeah, she took me to a couple real winners,” Alex agreed, voice thick with sarcasm. “But, Lena, seriously, what are you trying to do here? You know she’s straight, right?”

“I’m very aware,” Lena deadpanned. She squinted her eyes against the bright sun, wishing she had her sunglasses. “And I’m not trying to do anything, I swear. I just wanted to help her out, as a friend, Alex, nothing more.”

“Yeah but… Living with someone that you feel this unrequited love for…” Alex whistled through her teeth. “That’s just asking for heartache.”

“I know, trust me, I know,” Lena replied. “But what am I supposed to do? I can’t sit back and just watch Kara struggle when I have the means to help her.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I am glad you’re helping her,” Alex told her. “She refused to accept help from me or mom, you know. But here she is agreeing to live with you.”

Lena didn’t want to think about what that meant. Instead she turned and laid back on the chaise lounge, staring out at the large green yard.

“Have you thought about telling her?” Alex asked after a few moments.

“Telling her what?” Lena asked, feigning ignorance.

“Telling her how you feel, you dumb genius,” Alex huffed.

“Are you insane?” Lena asked. “Of course I’m not going to tell her, Alex.”

“So you’re going to live in the same house as her, help her raise a baby, and you’re just going to keep everything you feel about her to yourself?”

“That’s the plan,” Lena said with a nod. “The thing is, I would rather keep all this to myself and keep Kara in my life as a friend than tell her how I feel and risk losing her. I mean, you said it yourself, she’s straight, and you know her better than anyone. So there’s no point in telling her, it’s not as if my feelings would be reciprocated. It would just make things awkward between us. Believe me, Alex, I can deal with my feelings, but I couldn’t bear to lose Kara from my life for good. Can you understand that?”

Alex sighed, deeply and dramatically. “Yeah, I can understand it. But holy crap does that sound miserable.”

Lena closed her eyes to block out the sun. She couldn’t entirely argue with Alex’s summation. When she really stopped and thought about it, yes, it was fairly horrid, but just as she had said, the thought of losing Kara was even worse.

“Hey, there you two are!”

Lena opened her eyes to see Kara looking down at her, the sun shining in a halo around her face.

“I wondered where you guys got to,” Kara said with a smile. “What are you doing out here?”

“Talking,” Alex said automatically, just as Lena said, “Sunbathing.”

“Sunbathing?” Kara asked. “You two are the palest people here.”

“All the more reason to be sunbathing,” Lena replied. “Did you need anything, Kara?”

“Well, Eliza and Sam wanted to see the nursery so I thought I would ask Alex if she wanted to see it, too, and then I thought maybe you would like to go up with us?”

It took Lena’s brain a moment to make sense of Kara’s run-on sentence, but once it processed she smiled up at her and nodded. “Yes, of course.”

“Yeah, I definitely want to see this,” Alex said.

Kara practically skipped back into the house a few steps ahead of them, heading back over to where Sam and Eliza were waiting at the base of the stairs. As they stepped back into the house, Alex leaned over to whisper into Lena’s ear.

“You might want to work on your poker face, Luthor,” she advised. “Or else everybody except my sister is going to know you’re in love with her.”

Lena froze mid-stride in shock and she frowned deeply at the agent’s retreating back before schooling her features and hurrying to catch up.

Chapter Text

Living with Kara was remarkably easy. She was a model roommate, always respected Lena’s space, always cleaned up after herself, always paid her share of the utilities and grocery bills even though Lena repeatedly insisted that she didn’t have to. They flitted around each other seamlessly in the mornings as Kara prepared Lena’s regular cup of coffee and her own pregnancy-mandated decaf, and the evenings often found them snuggled on the sofa watching sitcom reruns or nature documentaries or baking shows.

It was just so torturously easy, and Lena’s heart couldn’t take it. So she avoided it, instead spending hours working into the night at L-Corp. She poured over reports that she had already asked Sam to look through or worked in her personal lab trying to find a cure for the Daxamite lead poisoning. She wasn’t breaking her promise to Kara, not really. She still made time to eat, or at least tried to. And she still made it home to sleep, though it was usually around midnight and her best friend was safely tucked in bed already. It was a fine line of avoidance, but Lena was used to walking the tightrope by now.

“Crap,” she muttered as the results from her latest trial serum popped up on screen. She kept telling herself that every failure just brought her closer to figuring out a cure, but somehow that didn’t take the sting of it away. She pushed the tablet away in frustration and kicked the side of her desk with a huff.

“What did that desk ever do to you?”

She yelped in surprise as she turned to the source of the voice. Kara stood on her balcony, dressed in her regular clothes, a bag of Big Belly Burger in hand.

“Kara! Get in here!” Lena ordered, pulling the blonde the rest of the way through the door. “Did you fly up here? That’s a stupid question, of course you did, how else would you get on the balcony? I thought you were trying not to use your powers. And what if someone saw you?”

“Calm down, nobody saw me,” Kara said, setting the bag down. “Normal people are asleep at this time of night. And I didn’t use my powers much, so it’s fine. Honestly, I just miss flying so much...”

Lena scowled. “You shouldn’t do that.”

“Yeah, well, the lobby is locked so it’s not like I could use the front door,” Kara replied with a shrug, though her brows were crinkled with concern. “I wanted to see what had you working late on a Friday night.”

Lena’s eyes widened. “Oh, it’s Friday?”

Kara rolled her eyes. “Yes, it’s Friday. And you missed our scheduled movie night.”

“I’m sorry,” Lena said honestly. “I can’t believe I completely forgot what day it is. I just… I’ve had so much to do with the new prosthetics rollout and the biofuel development. And the latest results for the lead poisoning cure were supposed to finish tonight and—-“

“Did they finish yet?” Kara asked, perking up at that last statement.

Lena sighed. “I’m afraid so. That’s what had me kicking my desk in frustration.”

“Oh,” Kara said, face falling.

“Yeah, oh,” Lena agreed glumly.

“Well, you still have time,” Kara assured her, patting her lower stomach. “Baby is snug as a bug in a rug right now and not going anywhere.”

Lena’s eyes grew as she looked where Kara was patting. “Kara! Wha— When did that happen?”

Kara giggled and pressed her hands tight to her belly. It was easy to miss if one wasn’t paying attention, easy to hide with a loose blouse or dress. But when Kara patted her stomach and pressed her shirt tight, Lena could make out the barest hint of a tiny bump there.

“It happened overnight, I swear,” Kara said, looking down at herself. “I noticed it in the shower yesterday morning. I knew it was going to happen soon, you know, but it still surprised me.”

Lena stepped closer, hands going up automatically. She caught herself just inches away and glanced up at Kara.

“May I?”

Kara nodded. “Yeah, go for it.”

Lena pressed her palm against Kara’s pink cashmere sweater, over the tiny bump. It was oddly surreal, as her fingers splayed over the soft fabric.

“Can you feel it?” she asked.

“Not yet,” Kara replied, shaking her head. “But Alex and Yivora say I should be able to feel it move soon.”

“Who?” Lena asked, confused by the unfamiliar name.

“Oh! Yivora. She’s a Parhaxian and she’s my midwife. J’onn and Alex found her through the aliens at Al’s bar. She’s a trained midwife to human standards, but she’s also able to help aliens who want to avoid hospitals have home births discreetly.”

“That’s wonderful, I’m glad—“ The rest of Lena’s sentence was cut off by an alarm sounding. Lena looked up, hand still pressed to Kara’s abdomen, as red lights began flashing around them.

“What’s that?” Kara asked as Lena quickly grabbed the tablet she had just pushed away and pulled up the building’s security feed.

“There are intruders in the building,” Lena replied, holding the tablet up for her to see. Video feed from the building’s main level showed several hooded figures making their way inside, and as one raised his face, or at least what was left of it—

“That’s Hank Henshaw,” Kara said, eyes wide. Suddenly Henshaw raised an electronic device in the air and the video feed went blank. “What was that?”

“Something to block the transmission from the security cameras,” Lena said, putting down the tablet. “Can you call Alex?”

No sooner than the words had left her mouth Kara’s cell phone buzzed in her pocket. She quickly answered and put it on speakerphone.

“Please tell me you decided to let Lena work and didn’t go to L-Corp?” Alex asked.

“Nope, we’re both her right now,” Kara replied. “Cadmus has broken into the main level. And Hank Henshaw is with them.”

“Oh great,” Alex said with a groan. “I’ll have a team there in four minutes.”

“I can hold them off,” Kara assured her.

“Um, no, you can’t, remember?” Alex asked. “You might be super strong and bulletproof but we don’t know if the baby is. Find somewhere safe. Lena?”

“I’ll get her somewhere safe,” Lena assured the agent. “Come with me, okay?”

Kara kept Alex on the line as they made their way through the empty halls of the building and into the elevator. Lena pressed several buttons and a small hidden thumb pad appeared beneath the control panel.

“Whoa,” Kara exclaimed in surprise.

“DNA scan,” Lena explained, pressing her fingertip to the scanner. “My brother gave me the idea.”

The elevator began to move, going down. The numbers above the door descended all the way to one, and then continued.

“Where are you going?” Alex asked.

“Sub-basement 2,” Lena replied. “It’s my personal lab, where I’ve been working on the cure for the Daxamite lead poisoning. It’s also a vault where I keep a lot of Lex’s old things.”

“Lex’s old things?” Kara asked nervously.

“Don’t worry, they’re all secured,” Lena assured her as the elevator stopped and they stepped out. “It’s the most secure place in the building, that’s why I’m taking us there. Alex can let us know when they have everything under control.”

They hurried through the lab space, past the running samples Lena was working on, until they came to another set of massive metal doors with another biometric lock. Lena pressed her palm to it and the doors began to slide open.

The sound of metal rending pulled their attention back in the direction of the elevator. Two hands emerged from the crack between the two doors and pushed them open, revealing a gaping hole in the elevator ceiling beyond. Hank Henshaw stepped out of the wreckage and looked at them curiously.

“Supergirl,” he said, tone colored with surprise, “I thought you were off planet?”

Kara shrugged arrogantly. “I came back for a visit.”

“Kara don’t,” Lena muttered, but it was too late. The Girl of Steel raced across the room and punched the cyborg in the face.

“Lena! Lena, what’s happening?”

Lena looked down to see Kara’s cellphone on the floor at her feet. She grabbed it and hurried into the vault.

“The real Hank Henshaw broke through the top of the elevator and into the lab,” Lena told her. “Kara’s fighting him.”

“Shit!” Alex hissed. “We’re still two minutes out.”

“I may have a way to help her,” Lena told her, opening one of the boxes in the vault. “I hope this thing fits and I hope it still works.”

“Lena what are you—?”

“Ugh!”

Lena turned quickly to see Henshaw throw Kara against the wall. It always hurt Lena’s soul to see Supergirl injured, but to see Kara in her leggings and soft sweater, and knowing her condition, it made Lena’s blood run cold.

“Lena what’s happening? Lena?”

“Engage Lexosuit,” Lena said, and the bits of metal tech began whirring to life and fitting to her body. She took a deep breath as the helmet slid into place over her hair and then charged out of the vault.

Kara cried out again as Henshaw punched her face and then he swung for her stomach.

“Hey!” Lena shouted, drawing his attention. “Pick on someone your own size!”

He dropped Kara just in time to raise his arms in defense as Lena charged him, using the mechanical power of the suit to hurl him away from the Kryptonian. He landed and turned quickly, eyes glowing as he shot artificial heat vision her way. Lena raised her left arm and a forcefield blocked the ray of heat, then raised the right arm and shot a beam of green radioactive energy toward the man. It downed him, but not as severely as it would’ve injured a true Kryptonian. He ducked and upended Lena’s workbench, sending priceless equipment and samples crashing to the floor.

“No!” Lena shouted, racing forward but unable to salvage anything. “You’ve ruined my work, you idiot!”

She ripped the table from his hands and slammed him into the wall. Lena wasn’t a trained fighter like Alex or Kara, but she was a natural brawler and she managed to get several good punches in before her attention was drawn elsewhere.

“Lena!”

Kara’s scream was guttural. Lena held Henshaw by the neck at arm’s length for a moment as she turned and looked. Kara was curled in a ball beside the vault doors, clenching at her stomach as if in pain.

The sound of metal against metal pulled Lena’s attention back to the problem at hand. Henshaw reached up and slid his fingers into the opening at the suit’s elbow, tearing at the weaker components beneath. Lena’s grip on his neck went slack and he fell to the floor.

“Don’t—“ Lena warned, but before she could say anything else Henshaw had taken off back to the elevator and up through the hole he had created before. Lena engaged the suit’s flight feature, hovering for a moment, ready to follow, but then Kara cried out behind her.

“Lena!”

“Lexosuit disengage,” Lena ordered and the suit opened up, releasing her. She hurried across the room to Kara. “What’s wrong?”

“My stomach… It won’t stop,” Kara told her, pulling up her shirt and placing Lena’s hand against bare skin. Lena could feel the muscles tightening beneath Kara’s skin, over the tiny bump.

“Shit,” Lena said, looking around. “I think… I think the hits you took are causing your uterus to contract.”

“What if it crushes it?” Kara asked, eyes widening at the possibility of her worst fear being realized. “Lena—“

“I won’t let that happen,” Lena replied, looking toward the vault and then back to Kara. “Do you trust me?”

“Always,” Kara nodded.

Lena hurried into the vault, looking around frantically. She couldn’t remember where it was…

“Kara!”

A slight feeling of relief flooded Lena’s system when she heard Alex’s voice, but then.

“Oh, shit, you’re bleeding.”

There! Lena hurried to one of the lead boxes and opened it, shifting through the contents until she found a small box with two manacles with gleaming amber orbs embedded on the inside of each one. She grabbed them and hurried back to where Alex was holding Kara.

“Kara, give me your wrists,” Lena ordered, opening one of the cuffs.

“What are those?” Alex demanded as Lena slipped the first cuff around Kara’s wrist and fastened it.

“My brother invented them before he turned the sun red,” Lena replied as she put the second cuff on Kara’s wrist. “He always said a Kryptonian should be in handcuffs, not him.”

Lena clicked the button to engage the bracelets and a slight red glow began to radiate from the orb before the metal shifted and tightened, fastening Kara’s skin.

“It’s red sun radiation in a small form,” Lena explained. “It should suppress her powers so that her muscles aren’t so strong that they crush the baby.”

“Still hurts,” Kara murmured, holding her stomach.

“I’ll get a muscle relaxer,” Lena said, running to a nearby cabinet. She filled a syringe with the medication and then returned to Kara’s side. She pulled up her shirt. “I’m going to inject this right into the muscle, okay?”

The needle— a regular hypodermic needle— passed through Kara’s skin easily. It made Lena oddly uneasy, seeing the Girl of Steel vulnerable to something so small, and apparently it had the same effect on Alex.

“How long have you had these?” Alex demanded.

“Ever since I took over LuthorCorp and all of Lex’s assets,” Lena replied.

“And you kept them?” Alex demanded.

Lena sighed. “Alex, do you remember when Supergirl went off the rails after being exposed to Red Kryptonite? I wasn’t even in National City yet and I read all the headlines.”

“The DEO—“

“The DEO is a government agency that could be ordered to turn on Supergirl at any time,” Lena interrupted. “The President has already ordered you to let her baby die rather than risk another Daxamite invasion. What happens when a Commander in Chief who’s not so alien-friendly takes office? When someone wants the DEO to control Supergirl? If this tech was in the hands of the DEO and something like that happened, she could be reduced to nothing more than a government slave.”

“So you should be in charge of it?” Alex asked.

“I care about her, Alex,” Lena said. “You know me. You know I would never use it to hurt her.”

“She’s right.”

Lena looked down. Kara’s face was no longer a grimace. She looked down at her wrists.

“Not exactly stylish,” she commented. “But Lena has a point, Alex. It’s the same reason Clark didn’t want the DEO to keep Kryptonite. There are only a few people I would trust with something like this, and Lena’s one of them.”

Alex looked back and forth from Kara to Lena and finally sighed. “Okay, you’re right, I know. Lena, I do trust you, please don’t think that I don’t. I just—“

“I know,” Lena said. “When it comes to Kara, you get defensive. You’re a good big sister, Alex.”

Kara shifted and sat up, reaching down to stroked her belly.

“I have a sonogram machine we can use to check the baby’s condition, if it didn’t get obliterated,” Lena said with a huff as they helped Kara to her feet. They led her over to a small padded table and helped her lay pack on it.

“Henshaw got away, knocked out six agents in the process,” Alex told them as Lena prepped the machine. “I’ve got more scouring the city for any trace of him, but he’s slippery as an eel.”

“I don’t know what he came for, but whatever it was, he didn’t get it,” Lena said as she squirted cold gel onto Kara’s stomach. She pressed the transmitter against Kara’s skin over the small bump of her belly and moved it around. “I’m no expert at using these things but it shouldn’t be that hard to… AHA! There we go!”

A clear outline of a face appeared on the screen, and as Lena moved the device slightly she could see the outline of the rest of the body.

“Looks normal to me, what about you?” Lena asked, and Alex nodded.

“No signs of placental abruption, plenty of amniotic fluid,” Alex noted. “Can you check the heartbeat?”

Lena pressed a button and suddenly a rapid thump-thump sounded from the speakers.

“It’s alright,” Kara sighed. “Baby Bug is alright.”

“Yep,” Lena replied. “Maybe in a few weeks we can use this thing to find out the gender, right Alex? Alex?”

The agent’s attention was no longer on the machine’s screen, but across the room. Lena only saw what she picked up a moment before it was in her hand.

“Is that—?”

“It’s his eye,” Alex said, turning around and holding it toward them. Lena quickly turned off the ultrasound machine and hurried over, looking down to inspect the small piece of metal.

“It must’ve come out when I punched him,” she said, looking down. “It’s… Oh God!”

“What?” Kara asked, but Lena was already hurrying across the room to the Lexosuit. She detached one of the arms and slipped it over her own limb.

“Put it on the table,” she told Alex, who complied immediately. She held up the arm and shot the orb with a blast of heat almost as strong as Kara’s heat vision. The metal eyeball melted into the table beneath it, becoming nothing more than a silvery heap.

“What was that?” Kara asked.

“It had a camera,” Lena replied, looking up at her.

“So it was watching us?” Kara asked, beginning to understand.

“And probably transmitting the feed to Henshaw and Cadmus,” Alex said.

Kara’s face paled as realization dawned on her. “So they saw—“

“They saw the ultrasound,” Lena finished for her. “I’d say there’s a very good chance my mother now knows that you’re pregnant.”

——

Lena sighed as she finished organizing the last of her files and looked around. She had bought the house with the intention of someday turning the basement into a private lab, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. But after the Cadmus attack on the L-Corp building, she had felt it necessary to move her research about Kara’s pregnancy and fetus to a more secure location. While most houses would be less secure, her own Luthor-level safety measures actually made the modern mansion on the edge of the suburbs a nondescript fortress in its own right.

Kara seemed happy about the change, in spite of her own anxiety since the attack. To make matters worse, Kara had to continue wearing the red sun bracelets twenty-four-seven. When they tried to remove them, her muscles would begin spamming again, and their enhanced strength risked miscarriage. She was rendered powerless for the first time since she was twelve years old, something that both thrilled and terrified her, but so far she seemed to be coping well.

At least, that was what Lena thought. But when she saw the light on upstairs as she made her way to bed at a little past midnight, it made her pause. She went to her room and changed into her pajamas and tried to tell herself to just leave well enough alone, but that just wasn’t in her nature, especially when it came to Kara. So Lena gathered two glasses of milk and two of the peanut butter cookies Alex had brought them the night before, and headed upstairs.

“Hey,” she said, knocking softly against the door. “Can I come in?”

“Yeah,” Kara called from inside and Lena pushed the door open. Kara was dressed in her own sleepwear, a set of pastel pink button-up pajamas with cupcakes printed all over them, and sitting criss-cross in the center of the bed. The covers were strewn haphazardly, pulled free from the neat hospital-corners the housekeeper retucked every morning. Kara’s hair was in a loose ponytail, one side looser than the other, and her face and eyes were red as if she had been crying.

“I brought you a little midnight snack,” Lena told her, as if that was the only reason she was up there. “Mind if I join you?”

“Sure,” Kara said, scooting to one side and pulling back the covers so Lena could sit on half of the bed. They made themselves comfortable, and while Lena wasn’t a huge fan of eating in bed, she knew that exceptions could be made. As Kara dunked her cookie into her glass of milk and moaned appreciatively after her first bite, Lena knew she had made the right decision.

“Good, huh?” Lena chuckled, breaking her own cookie in half before dunking it.

“So good,” Kara nodded. “I needed this.”

Once Kara finished her cookie, Lena offered her the second half of her own and the blonde took it with a slightly sheepish grin.

“Did you get everything in your lab fixed the way you want it?” Kara asked.

Lena nodded. “I did. Although it did take me until midnight to get all of my files sorted away.” She hesitated before asking, “And what has you up so late?”

Kara’s shoulders tensed and her face pinched. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Nightmare?” Lena asked, her voice soft.

“Yeah,” Kara said, her voice small. “I have them more now. I think it’s these.”

She held up her arm so that her sleeve fell back, revealing the cuff beneath.

“Oh, are they uncomfortable?” Lena asked, her brain already whirling trying to come up with an idea of how to make them more comfortable.

“No, not really,” Kara told her. “I’ve pretty much gotten used to how they feel at this point. It’s more the not-having-powers-thing, specifically not having my super hearing.”

“Ah,” Lena replied. “I would’ve thought that would be easier, personally. Not hearing every little thing.”

Kara shrugged. “The thing is, it’s just so… quiet. It makes me think of the years I spent trapped in my pod in the Phantom Zone.”

“You remember all that?” Lena asked, horrified.

“Sort of,” Kara replied. “I wasn’t… the pod put me into a kind of stasis, but I remember some things. I remember it was cold and dark and just so quiet. My mind goes back there, sometimes, when I’m alone and it’s so still.”

“Maybe we can get you a white noise machine,” Lena suggested. “I’m sure we can find something.”

“Maybe,” Kara said with a shrug.

“I’ll start looking into it first thing tomorrow,” Lena assured her as she set their plates on the nightstand. “Is there anything I can do for now?”

“Could you… I mean… Would you mind staying with me?” Kara asked. “Just for tonight, you know. I think just having someone here would help.”

Lena’s heart lodged somewhere in her throat at the request, and for a moment she couldn’t speak, she just stared at Kara as her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water.

“I’m sorry, I understand if it’s too much,” Kara said.

“No, no, it’s not,” Lena assured her, though there was a voice in the back of her mind— a voice that sounded suspiciously like Alex Danvers— asking her what the hell she thought she was doing. “I’ll stay. It’s no problem. Kind of like a sleepover, I think.”

“You think?” Kara asked as she began straightening out the covers.

“Well, I wasn’t allowed to have sleepovers when I was a girl,” Lena explained, fluffing the pillow behind her back. “So I really don’t know what they’re like to be honest.”

“Hmm, well sleepovers weren’t really a thing on Krypton, and I didn’t have many friends once I came to Earth, so I haven’t had any sleepovers either,” Kara told her as they lay down beside each other.

“Well, aren’t we pathetic,” Lena said, but she neutralized the depreciating comment with a giggle.

“Probably why we get along so well,” Kara said, flipping off the light.

In the darkness Lena truly understood what Kara meant. Even without super hearing, the bedroom was quiet. Lena had grown used to the hubbub of National City, even muffled as it rose up to the penthouse suite of her hotel. Here, far from the City’s lights and sounds, the silence and the darkness was piercing.

Kara shifted beneath the covers, and the sound of linen against linen was jarring.

“I’m going to apologize in advance if I snore or hog the covers,” she said.

Lena chuckled. “Well, I’ve been chronically single for so long that I’ve migrated to the middle of the bed, so I apologize in advance as well.”

She couldn’t see Kara’s grin in the darkness, but Lena was convinced she could feel it. “Goodnight, Lena.”

“Goodnight, Kara.”

Chapter Text

Girls’ night was not a tradition Lena had ever thought she would enjoy. In her experience all-female groups were catty and calculating, with members always trying to cut the others down in an attempt to establish or disrupt some kind of imaginary pecking order but doing so subtly enough that it didn’t upset the entire group. Kara had been nothing like that, breezing into her life like a breath of fresh air that Lena hadn’t known she was missing before.

But the first time Kara had invited Lena to a girls’ night with Alex and Maggie, begging her to come be a buffer so that she didn’t have to be an odd third wheel to her sister’s newfound relationship, Lena had still been anxious that a larger group of women would mean the same kind of saccharine hostility she was used to. And at first there had been some raw moments as they all figured each other out, because Lena was a Luthor and Maggie was naturally suspicious even for a cop and Alex was, well, Alex. But none of it was vicious, and in the end the group had settled and bonded over alcohol and takeout and snacks and embarrassing stories.

The tradition had changed a bit recently. Location, for one, had been relocated to Lena and Kara’s new home. The group had changed as well, expanding to include Lucy and Sam. The food and drink selection had changed as well, only slightly, to accommodate Kara’s pregnancy cravings and Lucy’s tree nut allergy. But the overall feeling of camaraderie was the same, and Lena loved it.

“Okay, okay!” Lena huffed. “But I’m telling you, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.”

“We’ll be the judge of that,” Lucy told her, taking another sip of her hard cider. “Spill, Luthor.”

“Yeah, who was it?” Sam asked.

“So this very handsome world leader, who I shall not name,” Lena began, looking pointedly at Sam, “invites me to dinner at the Baldwin where he’s staying, right? So we get there and he tells me he has this very important question he has to ask me. And I’m thinking, okay, well, he’s going to invite me up to his room. So I’m considering my answer when he turns around and asks me if I was baptized.”

“What?” Kara exclaimed just as Sam said, “No!”

“Yes, yes!” Lena giggled over her glass of wine. ‘So I just burst out laughing and said no but…” Lena shrugged. “Apparently, yeah, he, uh, only sleeps with good Catholics.”

“That’s insane,” Maggie commented as Lena sipped her wine.

“Yeah. Actually I… I found it kind of attractive that he believed in something so, eh, let’s go with that.”

“And what about now?” Lucy asked.

“Hmm?” Lena hummed, mouth full of wine.

“Are you seeing anyone now?” Sam asked.

“Oh, God, no,” Lena replied, trying to ignore the look Alex was shooting her from behind her own glass of wine. “No, I am far too busy to date right now, are you kidding? I’m happily married to my work, thank you very much.”

“Well, that’s just…” Sam began.

“Depressing, that’s what it is,” Lucy finished for her, and Sam just shrugged in agreement.

“Well, what about you?” Lena asked, looking between the two of them.

Lucy just widened her eyes in an Eeek! expression and started guzzling her drink in an attempt to avoid answering. Sam just shrugged.

“It’s not easy dating as a single mom,” she said, then caught herself and looked at Kara. “I mean, it’s not impossible. I’ve gone out a little here and there, met a couple of great guys, but nothing has really stuck.”

“I’m not even thinking about dating, at this point,” Kara assured her.

“Well, I’m just saying, someday, when you’re ready, there are guys out there who aren’t opposed to dating single moms,” Sam told her. “It’s harder, for sure. But not impossible.”

“I need some more wine,” Lena said quickly, rising to her feet, ignoring the fact that her glass was still a third full. “Anybody else need something?”

I chorus of nopes and we’re goods answered her as she made her way to the kitchen island where the drinks were sitting. She filled her glass— a little more than full, to be honest— before grabbing a plate from the cabinet and loading it down with more snacks than she could possibly eat.

It shouldn’t bother her— it shouldn’t. It wasn’t as if Kara was dating anyone now, and she probably wouldn’t date for a long while and that thought shouldn’t fill Lena with so much relief, but it did. But reality hung heavy over her, the reality that someday Kara would meet someone and they would love her because who wouldn’t love Kara Danvers? It wouldn’t matter that Kara was a single mother just like it wouldn’t matter that she was an alien and a superhero. All of those things just made Kara more of who she was and more wonderful and more lovable.

And Lena? Well, Lena was fairly certain that she could tolerate it. She had tolerated Kara’s relationship with Mon-El, after all, because it made Kara happy and as long as Kara was happy then Lena could pretend to be happy too. Even if she was dying a little bit inside, even if she was already dying a little bit inside at the mere thought of Kara being with someone else.

She stiffened her spine and made her way back to the living room. Alex gave her a questioning look, but Lena just shook her head slightly and took her seat beside Kara again.

“Here, I brought some more snacks,” she said.

“Ooo, you’re the best!” Kara exclaimed, grabbing a brownie from the plate.

“Raising a daughter by yourself, that’s incredible,” Alex was saying.

“Yeah,” Maggie agreed.

“I mean, how do you do that?” Alex asked.

“Uh, not very gracefully,” Sam told them. “I’m always behind on something. You guys will see when you have kids.”

Lena wasn’t too caught up in her own heartbreak to see the look that Maggie shot Alex.

“Well, actually, we’re not… We’re not gonna have kids,” Alex said, stuttering over the words.

Kara shot her sister a questioning look, but Alex just shook her head and looked at her lap as Maggie spoke up.

“Yeah, we’ll just be the cool aunts,” Maggie said with a grin.

“Great!” Sam said. “I mean, that would… Ruby would love that. Also I’m sorry for assuming.”

“No,” Maggie shrugged.

“No worries,” Alex said, but her voice was soft and her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. Kara was looking at her with a mixture of curiosity and concern.

“Put me down for another cool aunt,” Lena said, trying to draw attention away from whatever awkwardness was happening.

“Me too!” Lucy added.

Alex shot Lena a grateful look before gesturing to Kara. “Yeah, and the slightly nerdier aunt.”

Kara just giggled as Lucy nodded in agreement.

“Wow, you guys are amazing,” Sam said. “That is very cool.”

“Well, just know, you will also be expected to assume honorary aunt duties for this one when he or she arrives,” Kara told her, patting the barely-there swell of her belly.

“Of course, I would be honored,” Sam replied. “Oh, and since you’re all cool aunts now— Ruby has a dance recital this Saturday. You’re all invited, if you want to come.”

“Of course,” Kara agreed quickly. “Lena?”

“I’ll clear my schedule,” Lena assured her. It was two days away, and on a Saturday, so she was fairly certain that the only thing she had planned was working in her lab.

“James and I are headed to Metropolis for the weekend,” Lucy replied with a frown.

“Really?” Kara exclaimed, but Lucy just ignored her.

“Rain check?”

“It’s alright,” Sam assured her.

“I have a shift,” Maggie said apologetically. “But Alex is free, right, babe?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there,” Alex replied, but there was still something off about her demeanor.

“Great! Ruby will be thrilled,” Sam said, clapping her hands together.

The night wound down and everyone left for their respective homes, leaving Lena and Kara to put away the food and dirty dishes. Kara was loading the dishwasher— because apparently Lena did it wrong which, who knew there was a correct and incorrect way to load a dishwasher?— while Lena put all the leftovers away and corked the remaining wine.

“So what was up with Alex and Maggie?” Lena asked as she closed the refrigerator door.

“Oh thank goodness, you noticed it too!” Kara exclaimed.

“Yeah, it was a little awkward,” Lena replied. “Trouble in paradise?”

“I’m not sure,” Kara said, forehead crinkling. “She hasn’t mentioned anything to me. It’s just weird that suddenly she doesn’t want kids. Alex has always talked about being a mom, ever since we were teenagers.”

“Well, goals can change as we get older,” Lena said, though she wasn’t sure if she believed it. “Maybe she and Maggie have discussed it and Alex decided it wasn’t as important to her as she thought.”

“Maybe,” Kara agreed, but it was clear from her tone that she didn’t entirely believe it. “I’ll talk to her about it. I know she loves Maggie, but…”

“Yeah, I know,” Lena nodded, leaning against the island. “Just don’t be too pushy, alright?”

“What? Me, pushy?” Kara exclaimed. Lena just stared at her drolly. “Okay, maybe I can be a little pushy.”

Lena snorted.

“But Alex knows it’s because I love her,” Kara continued.

“Doesn’t necessarily make it better,” Lena replied and Kara stuck her tongue out at her.

“Fine, I’ll try not to be pushy,” Kara conceded. “So… are you staying with me tonight?”

Lena’s spine stiffened at the request. She hadn’t meant for sharing a bed to become a regular thing, and yet over the past three weeks it had. Whether it was Kara texting her while she was working late in the lab and asking her to come up to her room or seeing the light on in Kara’s bedroom late at night and going up to check on her, more often than not Lena found herself spending the night in bed with her best friend.

It shouldn’t be a problem— it was a big bed, after all— but Lena had a tendency to roll toward the middle of the bed and Kara had a tendency to hog covers and somehow those things combined meant that every time they shared a bed, they ended up cuddled up in the center of the mattress. Sometimes Lena was curled around Kara’s back, an arm wrapped protectively and possessively around the blonde’s midriff, and sometimes Lena was on her back with Kara using her chest as a pillow, with the sound of Lena’s heartbeat in her ear.

The Kryptonian was naturally tactile— Lena guessed it had something to do with years trapped in solitude— so it didn’t really seem to bother her. Lena had grown used to Kara’s need for affectionate touch since they had become friends, relishing the hugs, the shoulder bumps, the evenings spent cuddled beside each other on the sofa sharing a fuzzy blanket and a bowl of popcorn. After her own upbringing with the Luthors— neither Lillian nor Lionel had been particularly touchy-feely— it honestly surprised her how much she loved Kara’s physical affection, how much she had grown to need it to the point of seeking out Kara’s touch like an addict needing a fix. So waking up cuddled together didn’t really bother Lena, either. And perhaps that was the problem.

It was heaven and also her own personal hell. And yet she couldn’t stay away.

Which is how she ended up in Kara’s bed yet again, roused from sleep by some unknown force. One glance at the clock told her it was just after four am, and nothing seemed out of place. Kara was wrapped around her like a koala bear, head resting just above Lena’s breast, one arm thrown over Lena’s waist and one leg draped over Lena’s thighs. It would’ve been easier if Kara was wearing her normal flannel pajamas, but as her pregnancy progressed she started getting overheated in the night, so she had started wearing loose t-shirts and short cotton shorts that left her long legs mostly bare. And Lena, who had always had an aversion to sleeping in long pants, was wearing her own silk sleep shorts, which meant a lot of skin was pressed against a lot of skin.

Kara grunted in her sleep, and snuggled closer, her breath coming in harsh pants against Lena’s neck. Her body shifted, pressing closer, bringing Lena’s attention to a wet heat pressed against her thigh.

Oh.

Oh.

Oh no.

Kara groaned against Lena’s neck and tightened her arm around her waist, pulling her impossibly closer, as her hips began shifting in earnest, grinding against Lena’s leg in her sleep. And Lena… well, Lena really wasn’t sure exactly what to do with herself.

There were options. She could just stay still until Kara… finished… which, honestly, might be a deeper level of hell than she had ever imagined before. She could try to escape from Kara’s vine-like grip, which was definitely preferable to option one, but that would risk waking Kara up and, oh God, that might actually be worse. Because what exactly do you say to someone when they wake up in the middle of riding your thigh to orgasm?

“Mmm,” Kara mumbled and moaned, but her grip on Lena’s waist loosened. Instead her hand trailed over Lena’s chest and squeezed.

Lena squeaked in surprise, her whole body jerking away from Kara’s in her panic. She froze again as cold air flooded the space between them, waiting to see if Kara woke up, but the blonde just let out a frustrated huff in her sleep and continued squirming beneath the covers. Lena slowly eased her body the rest of the way out of Kara’s grip and out of bed, putting the covers down gently before grabbing her cell phone from the nightstand and tiptoeing quickly out the door.

Once in the quiet of the hallway, Lena leaned against the wall and released a long breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Okay, so that just… happened.

“Fuck!”

Lena slapped her hand over her mouth as soon as the curse left her lips, much louder than she meant. But she heard no stirring from the bedroom beside her— she didn’t even hear anymore moaning or heavy breathing.

Lena logged into her phone and pulled up her text messages, finding Kara’s name and clicking on it. She typed out a quick message, a lie about an emergency at L-Corp, before making her way downstairs. She pulled out her clothes for the day before stripping and stepping into her shower.

The hot water brought her focus back to her own body. She was tense with anxiety and between her legs, god she was wet. She shouldn’t have been surprised— she would have to be made of stone not to get turned on with a woman who looked like Kara grinding against her thigh, and add Lena’s preexisting feelings for the woman, well, it was obvious why she was aroused. Lena groaned as she moved a soapy sponge over her breasts, remembering how Kara’s hand had fit over the flesh and squeezed, and before she knew it Lena’s free hand was trailing lower down her belly, toward the waiting heat between her own legs.

She couldn’t help but imagine what might’ve happened if she had stayed in bed with Kara. Maybe she would know the sound the blonde made when she orgasmed, instead of imagining it. Maybe Kara would have woken up, wrapped around Lena. Would she have been appalled? Embarrassed, definitely, this was Kara she was talking about, but after that? If Lena had offered to take care of the arousal that was clearly coursing through the Kryptonian’s body, would she have agreed?

The cold shower tiles hitting her bare back brought Lena’s thoughts back to reality and her entire body shuddered. She pulled her fingers away from her own clit, though she felt just a hair’s breadth from finding release. It wasn’t right, she told herself. It just seemed so wrong to get off to the thought of her best friend, like a breach of the trust she and Kara had built.

As for her other fantasies… Lena felt disgust welling up in her throat bitter and thick. Kara didn’t feel that way about her. Hell, Kara wasn’t even attracted to women, as far as Lena knew. She wasn’t about to ask Lena to help her scratch an itch.

Lena flipped the water from scalding hot to cold and shuddered as the cool droplets cascaded over her from the rain shower head. It didn’t quite quell the heat in her body, but it would have to be enough for now.

She went through her morning routine on autopilot, putting on her makeup and pinning her hair into a tight bun that pulled at her scalp. If she wasn’t careful, she would end up looking more like Lex than she already did. She pulled on her sharpest suit and picked up her phone to call her driver, feeling a bit guilty for calling him so much earlier than normal, but before she could her screen lit up.

KD: Ok, have a great day <3 :D

Lena sighed and looked up the stairs toward the bedroom door, then shook her head and dialed her driver.

“George? There’s an issue at L-Corp. How soon can you be here?”

——

Lena was not having a great day. She had already made two interns cry, had fired one security guard and a low-level secretary from the front desk, and had managed to piss off two board members. And all that before lunch.

“If you can’t get it right this time, I can find another assistant who can,” Lena hissed as Jess left her office. Any lesser woman would be nearly in tears, but Jess’s spine was stiff with anger as she brushed out and another brunette entered.

“Oh, crap, who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?” Sam asked.

“Can I help you, Miss Arias?” Lena demanded.

“Wow, it’s Miss Arias today,” Sam said, nodding. “And last night you were calling yourself my daughter’s honorary aunt. Hmm…”

Lena sighed and slumped back into her chair. “I’m sorry, Sam, I just… I didn’t sleep well and I just…”

“Hey, I’m sure you can make it up to Jess with a nice bonus and maybe some extra paid leave,” Sam assured her. “As for the two people you fired today, they honestly deserved it. The interns, though, you might just want to be nice to them from now on. Maybe send some donuts to that department.”

Lena looked up at her. “I’m a mess.”

“A little bit, yeah,” Sam agreed, taking a seat across from her. “You don’t look hungover, though, just tired. What the hell happened last night after we left?”

Lena could’ve lied. She could’ve made up something and kept Sam at arm’s length. But she didn’t. Instead she spilled her guts, telling Sam about everything from the moment Kara Danvers walked into her life to waking up with her grinding against her thigh the night before.

By the time she was finished, they were halfway through their salads and deli sandwiches— Lena had ordered Jess’s favorite and paid for her assistant’s lunch as a start to making up for her atrocious behavior. Sam was staring at her, mouth agape, as Lena finished her story.

“Holy crap, you’re a mess,” she said finally.

“I know!” Lena exclaimed.

“And you’ve… God, you’ve just made it worse for yourself, you realize that right?” Sam asked.

“Yes, you and Alex have both pointed that out now, thanks for that,” Lena replied.

“Alex knows?” Sam exclaimed, eyebrows raising almost to her hairline.

“Yes, apparently my crush isn’t very subtle,” Lena told her.

“Well, no, it’s not, but I didn’t realize… Wow,” Sam said. “Just wow.”

“Mmhmm,” Lena said, taking another bite of her salad.

“So… Are you going to tell her?”

“Tell who what?” Lena asked, though she already knew.

Sam snorted. “Are you going to tell Kara how you feel about her?”

“Oh, God, no,” Lena replied. “Sam, are you insane? She’s my best friend, the best friend I’ve ever had in my entire life. I can’t tell her that I’m in love with her. Do you have any idea how awkward that would be? I can’t put her on the spot like that, no way.”

“But what if she feels—?”

“Kara is straight,” Lena said, cutting her off. “So she doesn’t. Telling her how I feel wouldn’t benefit either of us, it would just make things awkward, and that’s the best case scenario. Worst case scenario is that it freaks her out and she wants nothing to do with me.”

“Are you sure she’s straight?” Sam asked.

Lena blinked at her. “Sam, I’ve met two of her exes, both men. I’ve talked to her about past relationships, all men. We’ve talked about her gay sister. We’ve even talked about my bisexuality. If she was anything other than straight, I’m pretty sure it would’ve come up.”

“Okay, but… I mean… I just get this vibe between you two,” Sam said, blushing. “It makes me think this crush might not be so one-sided.”

For a fleeting moment, a small bubble of hope inflated in Lena’s chest. But she was quick to pop it, because she knew the truth.

“She doesn’t feel that way about me, Sam, so it’s pointless,” she said, hoping that was the end of the conversation.

Sam sighed. “Well, I still think you should tell her. I mean, I wouldn’t be very happy if my best friend was keeping a big secret like this from me. And it’s bound to come out sooner or later, Lena, especially with you two living together.”

“I’m a Luthor, I’m good at keeping secrets, and even better at hiding my emotions,” Lena said haughtily.

“Oh, like you were hiding your emotions this morning when you called Victoria Baskins a vacuous troll who wouldn’t know innovation if it bit her in the ass?” Sam asked.

Lena groaned. “I— Shit.”

“Yeah, she’s already looking into selling her shares in the company, so I wouldn’t hold my breath on repairing that burned bridge,” Sam told her.

“Well, it’s not like the comparison was inaccurate,” Lena murmured. “I’ll be fine, Sam. I just need to make some space, sleep in my own bed.” She snapped her fingers. “I’m going to order that white noise machine for Kara! That way she’ll be more comfortable sleeping by herself.”

“Mmhmm, you do that,” Sam said with a sigh. “So… I’ll still see you guys at Ruby’s dance recital tomorrow night, yes?”

“Of course, I wouldn’t be a very cool aunt if I missed my honorary niece’s recital,” Lena replied with a grin. “I’ll even bring flowers.”

Sam rolled her eyes. “You’re going to be the aunt that spoils her rotten, I can already tell.”

“Oh, most definitely,” Lena assured her. “And Sam? Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Sam replied with a soft smile. “And, just so you know, Lena, Kara might have been your first best friend, but she doesn’t have to be your only friend. I’m here if you need me.”

Lena smiled and scrunched her nose with affection. “That means a lot to me. Thank you, again.”

“Anytime.”

Chapter Text

“Lena! We’re going to be late!” Kara shouted down the basement steps.

“Alright, just give me one minute to get these samples running,” Lena called back. “And you know I had an intercom system installed. You don’t have to yell.”

“Yeah, but you respond faster if I yell,” Kara said with a shrug. “And George is already here.”

Lena just scowled as she finished putting the test tubes into the centrifuge. “Okay, I’m coming, I’m coming.”

Kara handed her her jacket as she came up the steps, glancing over her outfit. “You know it’s just an elementary school recital, right?”

Lena looked down at her pencil skirt and blouse. “What?”

“Nothing,” Kara said with a grin, shaking her head.

Lena looked over Kara’s navy chinos— the only pants she had that still fit, much to Lena and Alex’s teasing— and floral blouse. “So… too much?”

“Nah, it’s perfect for you,” Kara replied, grabbing her hand. “Let’s go! And don’t forget the flowers!”

They stopped to pick up Alex and then headed to Ruby’s elementary school. Lena got out her phone and texted Sam.

“Okay, we’re a little bit late,” Lena said, ignoring the look Kara shot her at that declaration, “But Sam saved us seats.”

They headed inside just as a group of kindergarteners all dressed in yellow took the stage. They broke into a rendition of You Are My Sunshine as Lena slid into the seat beside Sam with Kara beside her and Alex taking the end seat.

“I’m so glad you guys came!” Sam exclaimed, looking down at the bunch of daisies Lena was holding. “You weren’t kidding.”

“I told you I was going to spoil her,” Lena whispered.

“Just be glad I talked her out of roses,” Kara whispered, leaning across Lena’s lap slightly.

Sam just giggled. “Ruby would love it if you got her a handful of dandelions.”

Lena gasped in mock offense. “As if I would get my honorary niece a bouquet of weeds! I’m a cool aunt, remember?”

“Thank you, Mrs. Brown’s class, for that lovely performance,” the MC said into the microphone. “Next up Mrs. Williamson’s kindergarten class will present a dance to Can’t Stop the Feeling from the movie Trolls.”

“Ooo, they’re about to start!” Sam exclaimed, raising her phone to record. “Check out Ruby’s hair.”

As soon as the children walked out onto the stage all four of them— along with the rest of the audience— burst into laughter. All of the children with long hair had it pulled up in an elaborate style to look like the trolls in the movie. Ruby took her place near the front of the group, fidgeting and squinting as she looked into the audience through the bright lights in an attempt to see them. Then the music started and the kids burst into a semi-coordinated flurry of movement, all led by a middle-aged woman standing near the stage in the front of the auditorium.

“Oh my gosh, they are so cute!” Kara exclaimed in a whisper.

Suddenly Alex stood and hurried from her seat, practically running out the door at the back of the auditorium. Lena stared after her with concern, then looked at Kara. Kara squeezed Lena’s arm in reassurance before standing to follow her sister.

Once the dance was finished, Lena and Sam stood to cheer, and Ruby clearly recognized them if the blush that lit up her cheeks was anything to go by. The children left the stage and another small group took their place.

“This is the last class, after they’re done we can go backstage and find Ruby,” Sam said, tucking her phone away. “What happened with Alex?”

“I’m not sure,” Lena said as another group of kids made their way to the stage to perform. “If they’re not back in a bit, we’ll find them after we get Ruby, yeah?”

After the final class was finished with their rendition of If You’re Happy and You Know It, which included the audience clapping and stomping and jumping up and down at one point, Lena followed Sam to the hallway where the students were all waiting to be picked up by their parents. She followed the taller woman as they weaved through the crowd of waist-high kindergarteners toward the group with matching troll-inspired hairstyles. Before she could find Ruby in the crowd of children, the little girl found them, and she barreled into Lena with more force than Lena thought a five-year-old could possess.

“Auntie Lena!” Ruby exclaimed, wrapping her arms around Lena’s legs. “You came!”

“I did, I did,” Lena chuckled, her chest full at Ruby’s affection and her chosen nickname. “And you did so well up there! I love your hair.”

“Thank you,” Ruby replied shyly, stepping back. She eyed the bouquet in Lena’s hands curiously. “Who got you flowers?”

“Well, actually, these are for you,” Lena said, offering the bouquet to her.

Ruby’s eyes grew big as saucers. “Really?”

“Yes, really,” Lena told her with a laugh and handed them over. “Do you like them?”

“I love them!” she declared, hugging the bouquet to her chest and smooshing some of the flowers. “Can I show my teacher?”

“Yes, but first, what do you say to Auntie Lena?” Sam questioned with a raised brow.

“Thank you!” Ruby replied automatically, but her gratitude was definitely genuine.

“You’re very welcome,” Lena told her.

Ruby took off through the crowd toward her teacher. Lena and Sam watched as she waved her flowers excitedly, then picked one flower from the bunch and handed it to the woman. As she made her way back toward Lena and Sam, she offered flowers to many of the other students in her class.

“I’m sorry, I know you got them for her,” Sam muttered.

“Nonsense, I gave them to her, they’re hers to give away if she wants,” Lena replied. “Next time I’ll get a bigger bouquet.”

Sam looked at her curiously for a moment then smiled. “You really are the best aunt.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell Alex and Kara that you said that,” Lena winked. “She’s such a sweet kid, Sam.”

“Yeah, she definitely is,” Sam agreed. “Speaking of Alex and Kara, I guess we should get Ruby before she runs out of flowers and go find them.”

After a bit of persuading, they managed to pull Ruby away from her friends and headed toward the lobby. They made their way through the crowd of kindergarteners and their families, looking for Alex and Kara. Ruby spotted them first, calling out as they approached. The sisters were sitting on one of the benches in the lobby, and Kara had her arm around Alex’s shoulders. When Alex looked up, Lena could see that her eyes were pink and her face puffy, and she exchanged a look with Sam but didn’t say anything as an excited Ruby led the way toward them.

“Auntie Kara! Auntie Alex!” Ruby exclaimed, standing so close that she bumped knees with the two women. “Did you see my dance?”

“We sure did, kiddo,” Kara replied with a wide smile. “We just headed out here to get some air.”

Ruby looked between Kara and Alex and her brows furrowed. She pulled another daisy from the bunch and held it out toward Alex.

“Auntie Lena got me flowers, but you can have this one,” she said, her tone serious.

“Aww, thank you, Ruby,” Alex told her, voice scratchy. “But I don’t need a flower, sweetie, you can keep it if you want.”

“I want you to have it,” Ruby said resolutely. “You’re sad, and it will make you happy.”

A soft smile pulled at Alex’s lips and she accepted the offering. “Thank you. It does help.”

Ruby stood back and looked at Alex for a moment more before leaning forward and hugging her.

“Hugs help, too,” Ruby mumbled.

“Yeah,” Alex said with a laugh, hugging Ruby back. “Hugs definitely help.”

——

Lena managed to bite her tongue the entire car ride back home. The car was awkwardly silent, but she didn’t want to pry into what seemed like a very private Danvers sisters moment. Alex’s eyes were still puffy, and Kara was watching her sister like she was afraid she would start crying again at any moment, but they made it to Alex’s apartment with no waterworks. Kara hugged her and told her to call if she needed anything, and then it was just Kara and Lena in the back of the town car. Curiosity bubbled in Lena’s throat, but she had had years of Lillian Luthor’s training to hold her tongue. They didn’t speak until they were back in the living room of their shared home, hanging their jackets on the coat rack.

“I’m not going to ask, but if you want to talk about—“

“Alex wants to be a mom and Maggie doesn’t want kids,” Kara said rapidly, then sucked in a breath.

Lena’s eyes widened in surprise. “Oh. And have they—?”

“They’ve talked about it. Repeatedly,” Kara told her. “Maggie’s not gonna change her mind. And Alex tried to let it go but tonight it just hit a boiling point so…”

“I can see how it would,” Lena said, sitting on the sofa. “Wow.”

“Yeah,” Kara agreed with a huff. They sat in silence for several long minutes as they both processed.

“Do you think they’ll—?”

“I don’t know,” Kara replied morosely. “Alex is happy with Maggie, happier than I’ve ever seen her. But this… She has always talked about being a mom, ever since we were teenagers. I don’t even think it’s normal for teenagers to be so certain about wanting kids, but Alex was. I’m honestly surprised it took so long for it to come up between Alex and Maggie.”

“Alex has always seemed the type to know what she wants,” Lena remarked. “I admire that about her.”

“Yeah, the problem is, she wants to be a mom, but she wants Maggie, too,” Kara sighed. “I’m not sure which one she wants more, and either way, she’s going to be hurting.”

Lena nodded. She reached across the sofa and put her hand on Kara’s. “We’ll be there for her. I mean, she’s always had you, but I consider her my friend now as well. So if she needs anything, let her know I’m here.”

“She’ll appreciate that,” Kara nodded. They sat in silence for a moment longer. Suddenly Kara looked at her with a thoughtful expression. “Do you ever want kids?”

“What?” Lena exclaimed.

“I mean, you’ve welcomed me into your home and done so much for my baby and they’re not even born yet.” Kara rubbed her barely-there bump affectionately. “And you’re really good with Ruby. You’d make a great mom, and I just wondered if that’s something you’d want for yourself.”

Lena shifted uncomfortably. “I— I’m not sure, honestly. I mean, I’m a Luthor. It would probably be best for the world in general if I didn’t pass on any Luthor DNA to another generation.”

She said it with a forced laugh, but Kara just frowned at her words. “I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think there’s anything bad in your DNA, or else you wouldn’t be as wonderful as you are.”

Lena blushed. “You think far too highly of me.”

“You don’t think highly enough of yourself,” Kara argued.

“I would probably screw up any child I raised,” Lena said with a frown. “Hell, my only reference for mothering is Lillian Luthor.”

“Just think What would Lillian do? and then do whatever the opposite of that is,” Kara told her with a chuckle. Then her expression turned serious. “What about your birth mother? Do you remember her?”

Lena froze, her breath catching in her lungs. She had talked about a lot of things with Kara, but never about this. She knew Kara wouldn’t press, if she said she didn’t want to talk about it, but before she could form some kind of excuse a memory flashed across Lena’s consciousness.

“I remember she had red hair,” Lena said softly. “And she loved flowers, and we had fresh flowers in our house all the time. We lived near a park with this huge field, and we would go there to play all the time…” The memory swirled, until Lena could remember her mother’s laugh, so much like her own. “She would chase me, and when she would catch me she would twirl me around in her arms until we were both dizzy.”

“She sounds great,” Kara murmured.

“She was wonderful,” Lena agreed, and felt a tear run down her cheek. She wiped her face quickly and looked away, but Kara scooted across the sofa toward her. “Look at me, you’ve made me into a mess. I’m beginning to think you like comforting crying women.”

“I do seem to be making a habit of it tonight,” Kara shrugged. “I just thought…”

“It’s alright, Kara, really,” Lena told her. “I’m glad you brought it up. I don’t think of her often enough, because it does hurt, but it also makes me happy.”

“What was her name?” Kara asked.

“Grace,” Lena replied. “Grace Kieran Donovan.”

“Kieran?” Kara perked up.

“Yes, I have her middle name,” Lena replied. “I guess… If I ever had a daughter, I think I would name her after my mother. I’d include Grace or Kieran in her name somewhere. And Kieran’s actually more of a boy’s name so if I had a son, I suppose I could include Kieran in his name.”

“I think that sounds sweet,” Kara agreed. She yawned suddenly, and stretched languorously against the sofa cushions. “Okay, Baby Bug is zapping my energy again. I think I’m gonna call it a night.”

“Alright, if you need me, I’ll be in the lab,” Lena told her.

“Lena, you’ve been down there all day,” Kara admonished. “What are you gonna do except watch the test tubes spin?”

“I— Clean, maybe?” Lena suggested sheepishly.

“Get some sleep,” Kara said, using the authoritative tone Lena had come to call her Supergirl voice.

“Okay, fine,” Lena sighed. She stood and headed toward her bedroom, only for Kara to cough awkwardly behind her. She turned and raised her brow. “What?”

“Um, I was wondering if you would, um…” Kara stammered.

Lena knew what she was asking before she could finish her question. “I thought the white noise machine was helping?”

“It does!” Kara said quickly. “I mean, it does, but I still wake up a lot and, um… Well, your heartbeat just works better.”

Lena kept her face the picture of neutrality, but inside she cursed. Damn her heart and damn Kara Danvers’s blue eyes and pouty lips.

“Okay, just let me change,” she sighed. “But I’m warning you, if you throw all the covers off me again, I’m going back to my own bed. I know you’re a living furnace, but I need my blanket cocoon to sleep.”

“Deal!” Kara exclaimed excitedly, bouncing off the sofa with far more energy than she should have if she was really tired. “I’ll go get changed.”

A mantra of curses filled her mind as she dressed in her most modest pajamas and made her way upstairs. The memory of the last time she had shared Kara’s bed floated at the periphery of her mind, but she refused to acknowledge it. This was fine, it would be fine, everything was going to be fine.

Everything was going to be fine.

——

Everything was not fine, but not for the reason Lena had anticipated. The day after Ruby’s recital, a tearful Alex had shown up on their doorstep. In a heartbreaking but not-altogether surprising turn of events, she and Maggie had called off their engagement due to their differing desires when it came to children. Lena had flitted in and out of the kitchen and living room for the afternoon, providing snacks and drinks as Kara comforted her sister, trying to offer support but not be overwhelming because she knew Alex mainly just needed Kara. Alex spent the next few nights with Kara as Maggie moved her possessions out of their shared apartment, and then the next weekend, the sisters decided to take a road trip back to Midvale to visit their mother.

“You could come too, you know,” Kara told Lena the morning of the trip, as she rechecked her duffel bag and Lena sipped her morning coffee. “Alex wouldn’t mind, and neither would Eliza.”

“I know Alex wouldn’t mind, Kara, but I think right now she just really needs her sister,” Lena replied. “She knows I’m here for her if she needs anything more, but I think just you two and Eliza would be best. Plus, I still have a company to run and a cure to find for Baby Bug.”

Kara frowned, and Lena could tell something was bothering her. She sat on the stool at the end of the kitchen island and stared at the countertop for a moment before looking back up.

“I want to take you to Midvale,” she said simply. “I know from our conversations that you didn’t exactly have a normal childhood and, well, I didn’t either, but it was… Once I was in Midvale, it was good. I want to take you there someday and show you where I grew up. Take you to the bowling alley, the arcade, play on the beach, that sort of thing.”

Lena raised a brow. “Aren’t we a little old for all that?”

Kara grinned. “You’re only as old as you act, Miss Luthor.”

“Well, in that case, I guess I’m fifty,” Lena replied drolly, and Kara giggled.

“We’ll fix that one of these days,” she said with a wink.

“One of these days,” Lena agreed. “But not today. Today I have to go negotiate a deal with some Japanese investors and you have a sister to take care of. Speaking of, where is she?”

“She was going by to borrow J’onn’s car, so she should be here anytime,” Kara replied.

“J’onn has a car?” Lena asked curiously.

“Well… it’s not exactly a car,” Kara told her with a twist of her lips. “It’s kind of a… spaceship.”

Lena blinked. “I feel like I should be surprised by that.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re getting used to the crazy.”

A honking car horn pulled Kara’s attention from their conversation and her face lit up in excitement. Lena followed her to the front door, and she opened it just as Alex raised her fist to knock.

“Hi!” Kara greeted, pulling Alex into a hug.

“Oh, God, I forgot how much of a morning person you are,” Alex groaned into Kara’s shoulder as her sunglasses smooshed against her nose.

“It’s disgusting, honestly,” Lena agreed. “You okay?”

“I’m hungover,” Alex replied honestly.

“Well, in that case, I’m driving,” Kara declared.

“Keys are in the car,” Alex told her. “Did you pack your prenatal vitamins?”

“Yes, you reminded me last night and Lena reminded me this morning,” Kara huffed. “You realize that I’m technically the oldest one here, right? Like… technically.”

“Technically doesn’t count.” Alex grabbed Kara’s bag for her and they headed out to the driveway. Lena followed behind them, peering curiously at the vehicle in her drive.

“So, a Martian spaceship turns into a ‘52 Chevy Deluxe?” she asked, looking around the car for any indication that it was more than it appeared. “It’s not exactly subtle.”

“More subtle than a spaceship,” Kara shrugged.

“Point taken,” Lena agreed. “Drive safe, and text me when you get there.”

“Yes, mom,” Kara grinned.

“You gonna give her a goodbye kiss, too?” Alex teased and Lena had to bite her tongue and tighten her grip on her coffee mug to keep from cursing or flipping the elder Danvers the bird. Thankfully Kara didn’t catch the double meaning and just laughed the suggestion off.

“We’ll be back on Sunday night,” Kara called as she backed up. “Miss you!”

“Miss you, too,” Lena said softly as they pulled away, hugging her coffee to her chest.

Lena rarely had full weekends off, but she had managed to change most of her routine so that she could at least work from home most Saturdays. She spent the rest of the morning in her office on a conference call with Japanese investors, negotiating a deal for funding and materials on L-Corp’s latest project in prosthetic limbs, and then several hours in her basement lab running more tests. The process of finding a cure for the Daxamite lead poisoning was a lot of hurry up and wait, where she would hypothesize a new treatment, wait days for it to finish synthesizing, then test it on cloned tissue samples and wait hours or longer for the results to run. For every failed test she would then go over the findings searching for clues to what she needed to try next, how she could tweak the formula to get closer and closer to the solution.

When the evening came she had another round of tests coming, and she made her way upstairs into an eerily quiet house. She made herself a quick salad for dinner, something she could rarely do with Kara in the house, and checked her emails and the latest stock market updates as she ate. Even as she busied herself, the quiet of the large house felt almost oppressive, and the fact that Lena felt that way was a surprise in and of itself.

Lena had never been one to naturally enjoy solitude, really. Not that she was an extrovert, by any stretch of the imagination; she still needed quiet moments to herself for self-reflection. Being alone was something entirely different.

As a child, after being taken in by the Luthors, she had sought out connection and comfort from her new family. But Lionel was always gone, and when he was home he would drink to the point of becoming angry and sometimes violent. Lillian was at her best standoffish and at her worst downright cruel. Lex was her only companion, and he was often busy with his own studies and attempts to live up to the Luthor standard. So Lena learned to entertain herself, to find solace in the quiet corners of the Luthor mansion, away from her family.

Boarding school wasn’t so different. Her last name repelled the other students, and so she had few friends. There was Andrea, who she had considered her best friend, and even she had betrayed her in the end.

Lena was unused to being close to people, and yet part of her still yearned for it. It was almost strange, to want something with which she had such little experience, and yet she did want it, so much. Perhaps that was why, in spite of her putting up her thickest, highest walls, she had let Kara in. And now she had let Kara in so deeply that she wasn’t sure she could ever let her go without crumbling completely.

Her phone buzzed as she rinsed her plate, so she quickly dried her hands and checked it. Kara’s name flashed on the screen, and a grin immediately pulled at her lips. Kara had sent her a quick text earlier in the day, letting her know that they had arrived safely in Midvale, but she hadn’t heard from her since.

KD: Alex is being a mean drunk 😔

Lena’s lips twisted into a sad smile as she read the text. She felt plenty of sympathy for Alex, but she could also imagine Kara’s pout as she sent the message.

LL: Be nice to your sister. She’s hurting.

KD: That doesn’t mean she has to hurt ME back 😠😢😤

LL: Do I need to come protect you, Supergirl?

Lena chuckled as she sent the message, then put her phone down so she could dress for bed. Once she was dressed in her pajamas she grabbed her buzzing phone from the counter.

KD: Yes, you can come kick her butt for me! 💪
KD: JK 😂
KD: Not really ☹️
KD: I wish you were here 😞

Lena read the messages as she made her way upstairs and bit her lip as she got under the covers. She could still smell the faintly floral scent of Kara’s shampoo on the pillow, and she pressed her face into the fabric with a fond sigh before replying to the text.

LL: Me, too. Maybe next time.
LL: Goodnight Kara

KD: Goodnight Lena 😴. Baby Bug says goodnight, too

Lena smiled as she typed out one more message.

LL: Goodnight Baby Bug ❤️

She sat her phone on the bedside table and snuggled further into the bed, pulling the plush blanket up around her shoulders. She didn’t realize until the next morning that she hadn’t slept in her room, but in Kara’s.

Chapter Text

There was one good thing about Kara taking a break from being Supergirl, and that was the fact that Lena no longer watched the news while holding her breath, hoping that her best friend would get back up after being punched by an alien twice her size. Sure, most of the dangerous things in National City were harmless to a Kryptonian— bullets, fires, explosions, car crashes, etc.— but occasionally there would be a threat big and bad enough that even Kara had a hard time taking it down.

She had also noticed, as their friendship progressed, that often after one of these big fights, Kara would end up in her office. Back when Kara didn’t know that she knew, she would come by with snacks after she knocked out an alien or put out an apartment fire and spend a few quiet hours at Lena’s side. Those were always the hardest times for Lena to keep her mouth shut. At first she had put it off to Kara not trusting her yet, and then for a while it had hurt because why didn’t she trust her enough, and then she had realized the truth: that after being National City’s hero, sometimes Kara just needed to be Kara for a little while, not Supergirl, and Lena was the only person with whom she could really do that.

So Lena had developed a habit: she would watch Supergirl’s fights on the news with bated breath, and then once the fight was over she would wait for Kara’s arrival. And every single time she still felt that fear in the pit of her stomach that this would be the time Kara didn’t come to her, that this would be the time that she didn’t get back up.

That fear had abated, a bit, over the past few months. Pregnant and without her powers, Kara was more vulnerable than she had ever been, but it also meant that she wasn’t going out and fighting dangerous criminals and aliens on a daily basis. If not for the threat of Cadmus looming over their heads, Lena could almost think that this was what life must be like for normal people, people who weren’t superpowered aliens and people who didn’t come from a family of xenophobic supervillains.

So when she got a text from Kara that said she needed her in the DEO medbay ASAP, her stomach did a flip as her heart took residence somewhere in her throat. She ordered Jess to cancel all her meetings for the rest of the day and hurried from the office, leaving unread and unsigned documents scattered all over her desk. By the time George pulled up to the front of L-Corp, she had at least twenty imagined scenarios running through her head, each one worse than the last. Once she arrived at the nondescript building she had to bite her tongue to keep from cursing at the agent manning the security desk as they put her through the rigmarole to enter the facility. Finally she was escorted upstairs and to the medical bay, only to see Alex standing stiffly outside one of the rooms.

“Alex!” she called drawing the agent’s attention to her.

“Lena, you made it!” Alex said with a smile, but Lena barely heard her.

“Where is she?” she demanded, looking around. “Is she hurt? Is the baby okay? Was it my mother?”

“Whoa, Lena, slow down!” Alex grabbed her gently by the shoulders to stop her from charging ahead. “What’s wrong?”

“Kara sent me a text that said to get to the DEO as soon as possible, that she was in the MedBay,” Lena explained quickly. “What happened?”

Alex looked to the ceiling and Lena could’ve sworn she muttered a curse or two.

“Nothing happened,” she said finally, looking back down. “She has a checkup with her midwife today. She’s doing a sonogram and Kara thought you might like to see.”

Lena stared at Alex for a long moment as the life-threatening scenarios replaying in her brain slowly wound to a halt. “I see.”

“Kara tends to leave out details in text messages,” Alex continued as Lena pulled away and rubbed at her temples.

“I’m aware,” she sighed. “Okay, okay, I’m fine, everything’s fine. Everything is fine, right?”

“Yeah, seems that way,” Alex assured her. “Just a normal pregnancy check up.”

This time it was Lena who looked to the ceiling and let out a centering breath. After a moment she looked back at the agent. “Alright, lead the way. But when we’re done, I’m having a long conversation with your sister about how to not freak someone out with a text message.”

“Yeah, good luck with that, I’ve been trying to teach her that for years,” Alex mumbled as they made their way into the next room.

Kara was already lying on one of the tables, chatting with another woman. As they entered the room, however, her attention turned their way.

“Lena!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air. Lena chuckled and stepped forward, accepting her hug. “You made it.”

“Of course I did,” Lena replied. “After that text message, I was afraid something was wrong.”

“Oh,” Kara said sheepishly. “I guess I should’ve been more specific, huh?”

“It’s fine,” Lena told her, and Alex snorted behind her. “Alex said you’re getting an ultrasound?”

“Yeah, Yivora was just getting ready for that.”

Lena looked up at the midwife and blinked slowly. The woman looked human, but the markings on her face that at a distance had looked like dark freckles were actually geometrically placed and slightly bluish and… was that a tail flickering under her long skirt?

“Hello,” the woman said, and when she blinked Lena could make out a second vertical eyelid beneath the human looking one. “I am Yivora of Parhax.”

“Lena Luthor,” she said reflexively. She was talking to an alien… She shook her head. She lived with an alien, she shouldn’t be this surprised.

Behind her Alex chuckled again and Lena managed to catch her in the ribs with an elbow to shut her up.

“Are we ready to begin now, Lady Zor-El?” Yivora asked, turning back to Kara.

“Yes,” Kara said excitedly, but Lena’s attention was elsewhere.

Lady Zor-El?” she asked as Yivora rolled Kara’s shirt up over her tummy.

“Oh,” Kara blushed. “Yeah, Yivora’s planet traded with Krypton, so she recognizes that I’m from one of the high houses. She addresses me the way I would’ve been addressed on Krypton.”

“Oh, wow, I didn’t realize…” Lena’s voice trailed off as Kara hissed. Yivora had squirted gel onto her stomach, and Lena assumed that it was quite cold. The midwife pressed the device to Kara’s skin and moved it around until an image formed on the screen.

“There is baby,” Yivora announced as the image on the screen cleared.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so cute!” Alex exclaimed from behind Lena, sounding nothing like the professional DEO agent she was currently dressed as.

“They’re moving!” Kara said in awe, and sure enough the baby’s tiny hands were moving to its face.

“Is it—?” Lena began.

“Sucking thumb, yes,” Yivora said, looking at the screen. “Everything appears to be forming nicely. There is heart.”

She pointed to a tiny flutter on the screen in the center of the baby’s chest.

“Can you feel it moving?” Lena asked.

“Sort of,” Kara replied. “I get flutters sometimes.”

“You will feel it on outside very soon,” Yivora told them. “You can try shining flashlight on stomach, baby eyes see light now. Or speaking close to belly, it can hear.”

“Fascinating,” Lena mumbled, and Kara nodded in agreement.

Yivora looked up at them. “Do you wish to know gender?”

Kara bit her lip and looked at Lena and Alex. “What do you think?”

“I vote yes,” Alex said quickly.

“Lena?” Kara asked.

“I— I don’t know,” she replied. “Do you want to know?”

“I’m not sure,” Kara replied. “It’s not like it matters to me one way or another.”

“I think you just want to torture me,” Alex huffed.

“I think you should wait,” Lena said, and Alex snorted behind her. “It’ll be even more of a surprise, then, when they’re born.”

“Ugh, that’s what Mom told her, too,” Alex groaned. “Why am I the only one who’s dying to find out?”

Lena shrugged and Kara looked back at Yivora. “We want to keep it a surprise.”

“Alright, Lady Zor-El,” she said. “You look away from screen while I check development of lower body.”

“Lena, cover Alex’s eyes,” Kara ordered.

“Hey!” Alex shouted as Lena did just that. “It’s like you don’t trust me.”

“Not a bit,” Kara chuckled.

Yivora made a sound like bells tinkling and it took Lena a moment to realize that it was laughter. “You look now you can see feet.”

Alex smacked Lena’s hands away as they all turned to look at the screen. A chorus of awwws filled the room as the image of two tiny feet centered on the screen.

“How are you going to pick a name if you don’t know the gender?” Alex asked, making one last attempt to convince them to look.

“We’ll just have to pick a name for a boy and a name for a girl,” Kara replied. “Or a gender neutral name.”

Alex threw her hands up in surrender as Yivora finished the scan and turned off the machine. She handed over a few printouts of the sonogram images, wiped Kara’s belly clean of the gel, and then set about putting away the equipment. Lena stepped closer to look over Kara’s shoulder at the pictures.

“I’m sorry if my message worried you,” Kara replied.

“I told you, it’s fine,” Lena told her. “Besides, I’m glad I was here. Thank you for that.”

“I want you here for this stuff,” Kara assured her.

“You are lucky to have mate with you through this,” Yivora said as she finished cleaning and putting away the ultrasound machine. “Many cultures do not allow mates to be present during such events.”

It took both women a moment to process what the midwife had said.

“Oh!” Kara exclaimed.

“No, Kara and I aren’t—“ Lena began.

“Lena isn’t my mate,” Kara explained.

Yivora blinked again, confusion clear in her expression. “But you carry her scent, and your body’s response to her when she entered room was like that of woman whose mate has entered the room.”

Kara’s cheeks turned bright red. “Oh, no, um…”

“We’re just friends,” Lena supplied, though her own heart was beating so rapidly in her chest that she thought Kara could probably hear it even without her super hearing.

“And roommates,” Kara added.

“Right,” Lena agreed.

Yivora didn’t look entirely convinced, but she turned back to her work instead. Lena shook her head and tried to change the subject.

“Okay, which picture do I get for my office?” she asked, looking down at the images in Kara’s hands.

“Which one do you want?” Kara asked with a chuckle.

——

Lena had witnessed, first hand, the effects of a Kryptonian metabolism. She had, on more than one occasion, seen Kara consume enough food for four people in just one meal, and that was when she was only eating for one. Now that she was feeding two alien appetites, even with the power-suppressing bracelets, Kara’s caloric intake easily reached quintuple digits.

And, on top of her basic need for and love of food in general, Kara now had pregnancy cravings to deal with.

“Kara, why is there an entire shelf full of pickles in the refrigerator?” Lena asked one evening, looking for a place to store her Greek yogurt.

“Oh, well, I figured at this point I should just stock up,” Kara said with a shrug.

Lena wasn’t sure why this surprised her. Kara hadn’t eaten a meal in the last four months that didn’t include pickles, even eating a few on the side with her breakfast pancakes that very morning. Lena had seen Kara eat a pickle and chase it with coffee, packed a small jar in her lunch box everyday, and two nights before Lena had entered the kitchen at midnight to find Kara spooning rocky road ice cream straight from the carton with one hand and fishing the last pickle from a jar with the other.

Sometimes it made Lena’s stomach turn so violently that she thought she might understand what Kara’s morning sickness had felt like.

“Did you leave any in the store?” Lena asked, lips quirked up in amusement.

“Pshh, of course,” Kara replied, and Lena raised a brow. “I mean… I left like… two jars.”

“Kara, honey, I think you might have a pickle addiction,” Lena said seriously, but she was still fighting a grin.

“I’m not the one with the addiction,” Kara insisted, gesturing to the swell of her belly. “It’s like Baby Bug can’t get enough pickles. Or fried foods. Oh, and ranch dressing, that’s a new one, started yesterday. I swear to Rao, I just wanted to drink an entire bottle of ranch dressing. I felt disgusted at myself.”

“So you’ll drink pickle juice from the jar but not ranch dressing from the bottle?” Lena asked, finally letting herself smirk.

“That was one time and it was a moment of weakness!” Kara exclaimed.

Lena snorted with laughter at Kara’s outburst. She always tried not to laugh at her pregnant friend— she never knew if Kara’s hormones would make her laugh with her or cry instead— but sometimes, like now, she couldn’t help it. Thankfully this time Kara just rolled her eyes indignantly and waited for Lena to pull herself together.

“I’m sorry, Kara,” Lena said finally, but her words came out as more of a snort.

“Yeah, well, just wait, one of these days you’ll be the pregnant one and I’ll be laughing at all your weird cravings,” Kara teased back, turning back toward the television.

Lena frowned at the thought. Somehow, the image Kara presented didn’t seem like much of a possibility in her mind. She shook the thought away and refocused on Kara’s cravings.

“So pickles, fried food, and ranch dressing? Is that basically it?” she asked.

“Those are the top three, yeah,” Kara replied. “I’ve had moments when I crave peanut butter and ice cream, but those are pretty fleeting. But those three are darn near constant.”

“Hmm,” Lena murmured as she finished rearranging the fridge to fit her food around the pickles. “Sounds like you need some fried pickles.”

There was a long moment of near-silence, where all Lena could hear was the television in the background, and she wondered if Kara had even heard her. Then the television switched off and Kara turned toward her with an incredulous expression.

Fried… pickles?

Lena blinked in surprise. “Yeah, fried pickles. Dill pickle chips, breaded and deep fried, and you can dip them in ranch. You’re telling me that Kara-queen-of-unhealthy-foods-Danvers has never had fried pickles?”

“And you’re telling me that Lena-kale-is-a-food-group-Luthor has?”

“Well, yeah, especially sometimes, you know, a certain time of the month,” Lena replied with a blush and a shrug. She closed the refrigerator door decisively. “Come on, we’re going out for dinner.”

“What? But I already took my bra off!” Kara protested. Not that Lena hadn’t noticed that detail. Pregnancy had made Kara’s breasts incredibly sensitive, apparently ,so she could hardly stand to wear a bra. She tolerated it in public but as soon as she was through the door of their home, the offending article was promptly flung aside, sometimes before she even made it to her bedroom. Lena was constantly finding Kara’s bras flung onto the back of the sofa, kitchen chairs, beneath the dining room table… And she had to constantly remind herself not to ogle her best friend’s boobs.

“It’ll be worth it,” Lena told her, waggling her eyebrows enticingly.

“Grr… Fine,” Kara agreed before stomping upstairs to the bedroom to retrieve her brassiere.

Twenty minutes later, Lena led Kara into the small diner near L-Corp where she had taken Sam and Ruby a few months earlier. She was surprised to learn that Kara had never frequented this particular restaurant, and Kara was surprised to know that Lena came there quite frequently. They slid into the red vinyl booth and Kara reached for the menu only for Lena to stop her.

“Trust me?” Lena asked, and Kara nodded her agreement as a waitress stepped up to the table.

“What can I get you ladies?” the waitress asked, holding up a pen and notepad expectantly.

“We’ll take two hotdogs with the works, one order of chili-cheese fries, one order of onion rings with mustard, and two baskets of fried pickles with ranch, please,” Lena said without skipping a beat. “Oh, and two sweet teas.”

The waitress’s eyes were wide as she finished jotting down the order. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, um, two peanut butter bars for dessert,” Lena added. At the waitress’s incredulous expression, Lena gestured to Kara and said, “She’s pregnant.”

Apparently that was enough of an explanation for the waitress because she nodded and her expression turned sympathetic before she turned and headed toward the kitchen. When Lena looked back at Kara, a wide grin on her face, Kara was studying her curiously.

“Okay, who are you and what have you done with Lena Luthor?” Kara teased.

Lena’s grin grew. “I know, I should’ve brought you here a long time ago, but usually you’re the one bringing me food.”

“How long have you been coming here?” Kara asked.

Lena shrugged. “Since I moved to the city, before I ever met you. I brought Sam and Ruby here for lunch shortly after they moved here.”

Kara gasped dramatically. “The betrayal!”

“Oh, stop,” Lena chuckled.

“I see how it is,” Kara continued as the waitress placed their drinks on the table. “I’m being replaced.”

Lena snorted. “Hardly. I doubt I would even have considered calling Sam a friend if I hadn’t already been friends with you.”

“Lena…” Kara began, but she was interrupted as the waitress brought their food to the table. It took the woman two trips, and once it was all out, it covered every inch of the Formica tabletop. Kara’s eyes were wide as saucers as she took it all in and Lena grinned, pushing a basket of deep-fried goodness in front of her.

“Okay, fried pickle moment of truth,” Kara announced as she picked up one of the steaming, batter-coated morsels and dipped it into the ranch dressing. Lena watched with bated breath as she popped it into her mouth.

Nothing could’ve prepared Lena for the downright orgasmic moan that escaped Kara’s throat. It was loud and definitely borderline pornographic, if the dirty looks from the other patrons were any indication. The sound vibrated straight down Lena’s spinal column before settling hotly in her lower abdomen.

Oh my Rao, Lena!” Kara hissed accusatory. “Why did you not tell me about these sooner? They’re amazing, it’s exactly what I’ve been craving and I didn’t even know they existed!”

Lena chuckled. “Well, eat up, just let me have a couple, please, since I was the one to introduce you to them.”

“You’d better claim them now,” Kara warned as she ate another. “This is so good, Lena, but it’s so bad. Now that I’ve tried these, Baby Bug is gonna want them all the time.”

“Well then, it’s a good thing my office is nearby,” Lena declared. “What Baby Bug wants, Baby Bug gets.”

“You’re going to spoil my child, aren’t you?” Kara asked, feigning exasperation.

Lena grinned around a bite of chili-cheese fries. “You bet your ass I am. Did you really think I wouldn’t?”

“No, not really,” Kara shrugged. The two fell silent for a while as they ate, other than the occasional slightly-less-than-pornographic moans of delight from Kara. After the Kryptonian inhaled her hotdog at near-inhuman speed, Lena cut her own in half and pushed one part across the table. That had been her plan all along, and the grateful look Kara gave her for such a simple gesture melted Lena’s heart.

“So, fried pickles,” Kara began as she started in on the second basket. “You said that you found this restaurant specifically for the pickles, but that means you already loved them. I want to know how Lena-I’ll-just-have-a-salad-Luthor developed a love for fried pickles.”

“This is what happens when my best friend is a reporter,” Lena frowned.

Kara stuck out her tongue. “You betcha. Now spill.”

Lena smiled but it faded as she thought through her answer. She poked at the last greasy bite of fries with her fork. “It was Lex, actually.”

She paused and glanced at Kara, but the Kryptonian’s face showed no wariness, only understanding and more than a little curiosity.

“It’s okay, you can tell me,” Kara assured her. She reached across the table and gave Lena’s hand a squeeze. “I want to know.”

Lena looked down at the food, searching for words, before she began. “I was fifteen and I had a chess tournament. Lionel was away on business and Lillian wasn’t coming, obviously. It was a three and a half hour drive from where Lex was studying at MIT, but when I walked off the bus, there he was. He took me out to eat after I won, and instead of some expensive five-star restaurant like our parents would’ve insisted on, we found this little diner kind of like this one.” Lena grinned at the memory. “Neither of us had ever heard of fried pickles, and we thought it sounded disgusting, so of course we ordered some and dared each other to try it. We both ended up loving them, and we ate two whole baskets. From then on, almost every time we would meet up, wherever we were, we would search for a restaurant that served them and eat an unhealthy amount between the two of us. It was kind of our thing…”

She shook her head. She could feel tears at the corners of her eyes— that happened a lot when she talked about the good times with Lex, before everything went to hell.

“Well, thank you for sharing with me,” Kara said sincerely. “And with Baby Bug. I believe you have appeased the craving monster for now, and that is a feat.”

“Don’t tell me you’re full already,” Lena replied, but she knew Kara wasn’t— the stomach of steel really was an amazing thing. “We still have dessert.”

As if on cue the waitress brought over two trays with peanut-butter bars— a cold peanut-butter mixture with chocolate on top.

“Oh my gosh, the cafeteria at Midvale Junior High had these!” Kara exclaimed. She took a bite and sighed. “These are even better than I remember!”

“Really, they had these in your junior high school?” Lena asked with a frown. “Well, the chefs at Mount Helena Boarding School could learn a thing or two from the public school cafeteria workers.”

They ate their dessert in companionable silence. Lena was savoring her last two bites when Kara spoke again.

“You can talk about him with me, you know,” she said softly. “About Lex. If you want.”

Lena froze with her fork halfway to her face and studied Kara. “It doesn’t… I mean… It doesn’t bother you?”

Kara shrugged nonchalantly. “Not really. I mean, he was your brother before, well, everything… I know you loved him, still love him, if we’re being honest.”

Lena wanted badly to deny it, but, though she had lied to herself for years, she couldn’t lie to Kara. Instead she just took another bite.

“I know what it’s like to have people you love do horrible things,” Kara told her, voice still soft. “My mother was complicit in allowing Krypton’s destruction. My father created a virus that would indiscriminately kill any alien life form. My aunt tried to take over this planet. And yet, knowing all that, I’m left with all of these wonderful memories of when I loved them and they loved me. I guess I have this unique experience with separating the bad memories from the good. So if you ever need to talk about those memories, any of them— the good, the bad, the ugly— I’m here to listen.”

Now Lena really had to fight back tears. She tilted her head so that her hair veiled her face and reached up to wipe her eyes. She couldn’t hide the small sniffle that escaped as she took a deep breath.

“Thank you, that…” She swallowed hard and looked up at Kara with glistening eyes. “Thank you.”

Kara nodded and stretched her hand across the table again. Lena thought she was going to give her hand another squeeze of reassurance, but suddenly, almost faster than Lena could see, her fork was plucked from her fingers and Kara was eating her last bite of peanut-butter bar with a satisfied smirk.

Lena’s jaw dropped. “Kara Danvers, you little shit!”

“Shh, it was all for Baby Bug,” Kara admonished, patting her bump fondly. “And like you said, what Baby Bug wants, Baby Bug gets.”

Lena groaned as Kara turned her own words against her. “Please don’t let this child inherit your level of sass. This planet cannot handle two of you.”

Chapter Text

Lena’s favorite time of day in the house was evening. As the sun sank down toward the horizon, it cast a brilliant light through the large back windows and made the entire house look completely different than any other time of the day. Floors gleamed, the white marble looked more like gold than stone. Just before sunset, for a few glorious moments, everything gold shifted to copper orangy-red, and Kara told Lena it was the time of day when Earth most resembled the Krypton in her memory.

That was why Lena tried so hard to make it home before dark, or at least that’s what she told herself. Though she often spent more hours in her basement lab between sunset and going to bed, she tried to be home during that time of day. Kara was usually there, having cut back on her own work hours as her pregnancy progressed and her energy stores went toward growing another life. They would share a dinner, takeout once or twice a week, Lena’s cooking at least once a week, and a meal provided by a private chef Lena had hired on the other nights. Kara told her a private chef was definitely elitist, but Lena didn’t hear her complain as she downed five servings of Irina’s homemade enchiladas, or six servings of chicken piccata.

When she got home from work, Lena reset the security system, making sure everything was up and running before making her way down the hallway. She left her purse and tablet on the table behind the sofa and looked around for Kara. Dinner was simmering on the stove, but Irina was already gone, which meant that Kara was somewhere in the house.

“Kara?”

“In here!” Kara’s voice rang out from down the hallway in the studio.

Lena toed off her heels and made her way down the narrow window-lined hallway at the back of the house. It led to two rooms— the one on the interior of the house was the home-theater, and the one on the exterior was the studio.

Lena was still debating having a piano installed in the room. Lena did genuinely enjoy playing the piano, but the memories were tainted by Lillian’s caustic perfectionism. So the center of the room remained noticeably void, at least for now. One side of the room held Kara’s easels and paints, carefully arranged over a drop cloth to protect the hardwood underneath. Kara’s art was a startling mixture of galactic abstracts and impressionistic landscapes, but in all of them there was something forlorn and distant about the subjects. Lena didn’t ask, but her own years of therapy made her mind wonder about Kara’s paintings and what they said about the effervescent woman’s innermost consciousness. Around the sides of the room, in pots of various shapes and sizes and colors, arranged on mismatched tables and stands, were Kara’s collection of leafy dependents, as she so affectionately referred to them.

That was where she found Kara, already dressed in loose loungewear for the evening, bending over to pluck a few dead leaves away from one of the plants. She hummed softly as she did so, then loosened the potting soil lightly with her fingertips before adding a bit of water from the small watering tin in her other hand.

“Is that the trick?” Lena asked. “You sing to them?”

Kara’s cheeks flushed pink and her humming stopped. “Maybe.”

“You’re going to have to tell me sometime,” Lena teased.

Kara shrugged, though she was careful not to jostle her watering pail too much. “It’s just practice, really. If you’d start working with the plants like I do—“

“You really don’t want me to do that,” Lena told her, leaning against the doorframe. “I’m telling you, Kara, whatever the opposite of a green thumb is, I’ve got it. If you want a plant to die, let me take care of it. It’ll die just to spite me.”

Kara rolled her eyes at her and turned back to the plants. “Whatever you say.”

Lena watched for another moment as Kara watered a few more plants. The glow from the sun seemed to make the Kryptonian’s skin glow, even though the bracelets on her wrist stopped her system from absorbing the radiation.

“Is it because you photosynthesize?”

Kara turned abruptly, gaping at her. “What?”

“Sorry, I guess it’s not exactly photosynthesis,” Lena corrected. “But your cells do process sunlight into energy kind of like a plant so…”

“Lena Luthor, did you just call me a plant?” Kara asked.

“I mean… Maybe a little bit,” Lena shrugged. “Although plants don’t need to eat as well.”

Kara tilted her head thoughtfully. “Maybe I’m a Venus fly trap.”

“I should get you one of those,” Lena said thoughtfully. “They’re fascinating.”

“Hmm, that would be cool,” Kara replied, turning back to her plants. “Eliza had one in her greenhouse.”

“Ha! So that’s the trick!”

“You caught me,” Kara said, and even though Lena couldn’t see her face, she could hear the smile in her voice. “I liked helping Eliza in the greenhouse. I could lift the heavy bags of potting soil for her. She grew a lot of plants that she used to synthesize medical compounds.”

“I didn’t realize that,” Lena commented, walking closer to observe Kara’s work.

“I was fascinated by the plants,” Kara continued. “I’d never seen so many before I came here.”

It took Lena a moment to process Kara’s words. “Krypton… Krypton didn’t have plants?”

“Not anymore,” Kara told her. “There was a conservatory in Argo, but it was mostly closed to the public. They stored certain useful species of plants from Krypton and other planets so they could use the genetic tissue to produce food. They were very careful about visitors, so the plants wouldn’t get infected with any diseases.”

“And the rest of the planet?” Lena asked.

Kara poured the last of the water on a mint plant and sat the pail on a nearby shelf with a sigh. “Krypton was a dying planet in more ways than one, Lena. We had mined our planet’s core for energy until it became unstable, but before that we destroyed the surface. Plant life was the first thing to die, then animals. I think everyone knew that we were next.”

“What about food?”

“We engineered it,” Kara told her. “Like I said, we kept some species so that we had a source of genetic tissue. The only organic food we consumed came from other planets, and Krypton had become so self-isolated in generations that even that was rare.”

“That sounds… horrible,” Lena said, choosing her words carefully. She didn’t want to come across as judgmental, but she wanted to be honest.

“I didn’t realize how horrible it was until I got here,” Kara said sadly. “On Krypton we were taught that it was a good thing. That our minds, our science, had pushed us to the point that we didn’t have to rely on nature for our needs. It was a point of pride for many. But when I got to Earth, I truly realized how much my people were missing out on. Nature wasn’t primitive; it was— is beautiful.”

“Yeah, it is,” Lena agreed. Lena opened her mouth to say something, but as she did she breathed in the acrid smell of smoke. “Do you smell something?”

“Oh, crap! Irina told me to keep an eye on the food!” Kara shouted, running past Lena toward the kitchen so fast that for a moment Lena thought the bracelets might’ve stopped working and given Kara her super speed back.

After a dinner of spaghetti bolognese with slightly-singed breadsticks, and several hours in her lab— mostly spent cursing and reviewing medical files for the hundredth time— Lena made her way upstairs to the bedroom. Sharing a room with Kara had become so normal to her anymore that she didn’t even stop by her own bedroom— her pajamas were tucked away in the upstairs bathroom, and her toothbrush was beside the second sink there as well. Some nights it felt like torture, but most nights, like this one, Lena was simply too exhausted to worry about the emotional repercussions of sharing a bed with her best friend who she happened to be in love with. All she wanted to do was curl up beneath the covers, and cuddle into Kara’s side for warmth and some sort of connection. The thought of her own empty bed was about as appealing as a bed of nails.

Kara was already in bed, watching something on her phone— probably cat videos— as Lena shuffled past her and into the bathroom. She changed into her pajamas, brushed out her hair, and was halfway finished brushing her teeth when she heard it.

“Lena! Lena, get in here!”

Lena sputtered around her toothbrush at Kara’s frantic call. The plastic clattered in the sink as she hurried from the shared bathroom and into the bedroom.

“What? What is it?” she asked, eyes wide in panic.

Kara was leaning back on her pillows against the headboard, t-shirt pulled up over her belly, hand pressed to one side.

“It’s kicking and you can feel it on the outside!” Kara told her. “Come here, come here, hurry!”

Lena was on the bed beside Kara before her mind could completely catch up with her body, the taste of spearmint still tingling in her mouth. She barely had time to catch her balance before Kara was grabbing her hand, making her topple into the pillows momentarily before righting herself again.

“Right… here!” Kara declared, smacking Lena’s hand flat against the skin of her stomach. Lena could smell the cocoa butter lotion Kara used every night, could feel the slightly oily texture of it beneath her palm, and under that the silky smoothness of Kara’s skin. Her mind had a brief moment of panic— I’m touching her!— before something pressed back against the heel of her palm.

“Oh, fuck!” Lena shouted in surprise, and she whipped her hand back like she had been burned.

“Lena!” Kara exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, it was just… weird,” Lena admitted, gingerly placing her hand back in place. “I wasn’t expecting it to be that strong.”

“Me, either,” Kara said honestly. “Still freaks me out a little, too. I should’ve warned you.”

“Oh!” Lena exclaimed, as it fluttered against her hand again. “They did it again!”

“Yeah,” Kara chuckled.

Lena sat transfixed as Kara’s skin moved beneath her hand. It was a tiny flutter, but strong, and she couldn’t seem to make herself move until finally it went still.

“Bedtime, I guess,” Kara sighed. She went to roll down her shirt, but Lena’s hand stayed in place. She looked up in confusion. “Lena… Lena, are you crying?”

“No!” Lena insisted, but her voice cracked even as a tear slipped down her cheek, betraying her. She quickly pulled her hand back and moved away from Kara, reaching up to wipe her eyes. “I’m sorry, it’s just… It makes it more real.”

“Yeah, I can understand that,” Kara nodded.

“And I…” Lena shook her head. “I shouldn’t…”

“You can tell me,” Kara assured her.

“I just… I keep running tests, and I keep getting nowhere,” Lena said dejectedly. “I’m trying so hard, Kara, for you, and for them. And just… I want to fix this.”

“You will,” Kara said, and her voice was strong. “You will. There’s nobody else I would’ve trusted with this, Lena. You’re so smart, I know you’re going to solve it.”

“I have to,” Lena muttered.

Kara’s lips twisted wryly. She turned quickly and adjusted the pillows before pulling back the covers and patting the bed beside her. “C’mon. Bedtime.”

Lena nodded and moved into the space Kara offered. The blonde tucked the covers over her, then turned and switched off the lamp before turning back.

“Can we just—“ Lena began, scooting closer.

“Yeah, tonight’s definitely a cuddle night,” Kara replied, pulling Lena until they were snuggled against each other. The sound of the white noise machine filled the air, but even over it Lena could hear Kara’s breathing, could feel it in the movement of her torso. “Lena?”

“Mmhmm?”

Kara sighed. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Kara.”

——

For a long moment, Lena wasn’t sure what woke her from sleep. Her mind slowly came to consciousness and began connecting to her body. She was warm, no, hot, a thin sheen of sweat on her skin, and wrapped in something heavy.

Suddenly Kara shifted against her, pulling her tighter against her body and flexing her hips against Lena’s and she went from half-awake to completely aware in a millisecond.

Not again.

Kara groaned into Lena’s ear as her hips rocked again, trying to find purchase. Lena tried to wiggle away, but even powerless the Kryptonian’s strong arms were like steel cables wrapped around her, keeping her close. She bit her lip and pushed with a bit more effort, only for Kara to sigh into her ear.

“Lena,” she murmured, shifting even closer.

Wait, what?

Kara whimpered as her hips found what they were searching for, and Lena could feel the seam of the blonde’s shorts pressed tight between her thigh. The fabric was wet, Kara’s skin was hot, and her breath came in frantic little puffs as her lower half ground unconsciously against Lena.

“Yes, Lena,” Kara huffed, her brow furrowed tight, eyes clinched shut. “Lee…”

Kara was dreaming about… Kara was dreaming about her. And it wasn’t just any dream, obviously, it was a sex dream. Kara was having a sex dream about her. The realization crashed into Lena like a wave, knocking her under and turning her over and over until she wasn’t sure which way was up. If Kara was dreaming about her that way, what did that mean? Did that mean…?

“Kara, wake up,” Lena said, pushing away slightly and shaking the blonde’s arm. “Kara, wake up, please wake up.”

Kara grunted and groaned grumpily, and the seeking thrusting of her hips came to a stop. “Lena? Wha—? Wha’s wrong? What time is it?”

“No, um, it’s…” Lena stuttered, but before she could finish her statement Kara’s hips shifted against her leg again and then her whole body froze as realization hit her.

Lena watched as the emotions played out across Kara’s face, shock melting into embarrassment melting into abject terror. She scuttled back across the bed away from Lena so fast that for a moment Lena thought the power-dampening bracelets might’ve malfunctioned.

“Oh, Rao,” Kara muttered, surprising Lena— she’s never seen her so flustered that she said anything in Kryptonese. “Oh Rao, oh crap, oh shit, Lena, I’m so sorry.” And Lena can count on one hand how many times she’s heard Kara actually curse, so this is definitely not good. “I’m so sorry, I’ve just… I’ve been having these dreams and my hormones are just… I can’t…”

“It’s okay,” Lena assured her, but her mind was still whirling as she reached over and switched on the bedside light. All she could think, over and over through her brain, was that Kara was dreaming about her.

“No, I shouldn’t have… I was just dreaming and it was so real and—“

“You… You said my name,” Lena told her.

Kara’s jaw dropped. “I what?”

“You said my name… before,” Lena said, voice raspy. “You said my name in your sleep when you were…”

“Oh. Oh, no,” Kara muttered, looking around the room at anything and everything except Lena. “No, no, I couldn’t have.”

“I thought maybe you were dreaming of me,” Lena told her shyly.

“No!” Kara exclaimed loudly. “No, why would I… We’re friends, Lena, and I’m not… I can’t be…”

“Were you dreaming of me?” Lena asked, unable to hold it in.

“No!” Kara shouted, then pulled herself back together. “I mean… Maybe, but it… I think… Oh, Rao…”

“It’s okay if you were,” Lena told her. “It’s okay, really. I don’t mind.”

“No, it’s not okay!” Kara argued. Lena could see tears welling up in her eyes as she continued to rant, fists tangling in the bedsheets. “I shouldn’t think of you like that, I can’t be… I can’t have dreams like that, I thought it had stopped. I thought I had it under control, but being close to you just brings it all to the surface… You mean so much to me, you’re my best friend, you don’t think of me that way.” She sniffled loudly. “You must be disgusted by me.”

“No, Kara, of course not!” Lena assured her. “I could never be disgusted by you, I—“ She swallowed hard. She could practically hear Sam and Alex’s voices telling her over and over that she should just tell Kara how she felt. Maybe now was the time to put it all on the table. “I love you.”

Kara’s eyes widened. “You what?”

“I love you,” Lena repeated, her voice stronger this time. “I’m in love with you. And I know I should’ve told you before but I didn’t think there was any way you would ever feel anything for me, but—“

“I don’t,” Kara said suddenly, and it was like pouring a bucket of ice water on a flame. Lena physically recoiled from the vehemence in Kara’s tone. “I can’t, Lena…”

”I just thought…”

“I am not gay,” Kara repeated, her tone low and broking no argument.

“Okay,” Lena said, her heart lodged somewhere in her throat. “Okay, I—“

“I can’t be gay!” Kara exclaimed, ignoring her. She stood from the bed, throwing the covers back with unrestrained fury. “I can’t be. It’s a sin and an abomination and it’s wrong.”

Lena felt bile rise in her throat at Kara’s words. “Are you serious?”

Kara froze. “I—“

“What about Alex? What about me?”

Kara’s eyes widened. “No, not for you! And not for Alex! It’s different, you’re human, you’re not…”

Lena blinked. “Kryptonian.”

“Exactly!” Kara exclaimed, relieved. “Kryptonians aren’t gay, Lena, we can’t be.”

Lena stared at her for a moment, dumbfounded. “Kara, honey, I don’t think it works that way.”

Kara’s nostrils flared in frustration as her brow crinkled. “Yes, it does!”

“Then why did you say my name?” Lena demanded.

“That’s not—“ Kara began.

“Why were you dreaming about me like that?” Lena continued, ignoring the way tears welled up in her eyes. “Why is it sometimes you look at me and I think you feel the same way about me that I feel about you?”

“I can’t—“ Kara began.

“Can’t or won’t?” Lena asked. Kara blinked and looked away in response and Lena nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

She kicked the covers back and got up from the bed, her joints popping and muscles protesting as she did so. Her vision blurred as she pulled on her robe and she angrily wiped away the tears before they could run down her cheeks.

“I have to go,” she said, grabbing her phone from the nightstand. “I can’t… I can’t do this.”

“What?” Kara exclaimed. “Lena, wait, I can…”

Lena turned quickly. “Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t feel anything more than friendship for me, Kara Danvers.”

“I— I d—“ Kara stammered.

Lena swallowed hard. “I could do it when I thought you didn’t feel anything. When I thought… But I think we both know that you do, you just won’t admit it. And that… That just… I can’t pretend there’s nothing.”

She turned and made her way toward the door.

“Lena, just wait!” Kara exclaimed.

“Don’t come after me, Kara,” Lena warned her. “Goodnight.”

She charged downstairs, almost tripping as she went, but at least no one was following her. She was almost at the front door when she realized that she had nowhere else to go— this was her home, too.

“Fuck!” she hissed, looking around. She made her way to her bedroom and into the closet, where she grabbed a duffel bag off the shelf and started throwing clothes and toiletries inside. She would find a hotel, somewhere, anywhere but here.

And yet… the thought of being alone was enough to make her stomach turn. For once in her life, Lena didn’t want to break down by herself, and yet the person she had turned to for support in times like this for the last year and a half was the very person she couldn’t stand to be around. There was nobody…

She picked up her phone from the bed and ran through her contacts quickly, finally settling on a number. She pressed call before she could second-guess herself, before she could talk herself out of calling at almost three in the morning.

“Lena? What—?”

“Hey, Sam, I know… I know I’m your boss, and this is totally out of line,” Lena stammered. “Fuck, I just… I need to get out of the house, and I don’t want to be alone at some hotel, and I just—“

“You can stay with me,” Sam said quickly.

Lena froze. “You… really?”

“Yeah, you know, I have this huge house with a guest bedroom that nobody ever uses because my boss is such a generous employer who provided amazing company housing to her employee,” Sam replied. “And Lena, you’re not just my boss. You’re also my friend.”

“Oh.” Lena let out the breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. “I— thank you, Sam. You… I consider you my friend, too. And I don’t have many of those.”

“I know,” Sam replied. “Just text me when you get here. I’ll have tea waiting.”

“You don’t have to—“

“Lena,” Sam said, and her tone struck down the argument in Lena’s throat. “I’ll get the tea going. Be safe.”

“Okay,” Lena replied. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Lena finished tucking her clothes and toiletries into her bag and called her car service, thankful that they were available at any hour. As she headed out the front door, she paused. She didn’t owe Kara any explanation about where she was going, and yet she felt the need to tell her, to let the other woman know where she was going so that she wouldn’t worry. It was… stupid, Lena knew that, and yet…

“I’m going to Sam’s,” she shouted, loud enough that Kara would hear her upstairs even without her super-hearing. She didn’t wait for an answer. She slipped out the door and into the chilly night air and made her way toward the car.

She managed to hold it together on the drive over, and as she made her way up the walk to the suburban home where Sam lived, she had almost convinced herself that she had her emotions under control, that she was fine.

All it took was a soft “Hey,” from Sam and a hug to bring her hastily erected walls crashing down around her.

“Sam,” she murmured between sobs as her knees gave out and she collapsed into the taller woman’s embrace.

“Shh, hey, it’s okay,” Sam cooed, holding her up with surprising ease as they made their way to the sofa. “Just tell me what happened and I’m sure we can work it out.”

Lena shook her head. “I don’t think so, Sam. I think… I think I’ve ruined everything.”