These days, Kara didn't feel like she would ever get a break. She was balancing too many things on her plate at once. First, she had to deal with Lex, head of the DEO on this Earth. She watched him like a hawk, waiting for him to slip up and reveal his master plan, but he never did. Then she had to deal with William, reporter with an axe to grind against Lex. He was reckless, and he was going to get himself killed investigating Lex, which is why Kara stuck to his side as much as possible. And then he asked her out, which Kara accepted because she really needed a distraction from her broken relationship with Lena. Her good friend Nia was in pain, heartbroken because Brainy had dumped her without explaining why. She lost her adopted father, Jeremiah. Her sister and her girlfriend were investigating a dangerous trap in Obsidian North’s VR lenses, and Kara wanted to help but she was already spread too thin.
To make matters worse, she hadn’t been sleeping well. She still had nightmares about the destruction of the multiverse, watching her entire Earth and everyone she loved getting wiped from existence by a wave of antimatter night after night. It hurt, and she was starting to wonder where she got the energy from to keep getting up morning after morning.
Right now, it took all her strength to keep her head above the water.
Somehow William had tracked down an old warehouse owned by Obsidian North but not used, or at least that’s what the public thought. William was convinced that Lex was using it for some nefarious purpose. When he called Kara and asked her to tag along, she couldn’t say no because then he would just go by himself and probably die.
Hovering outside the warehouse, William stopped and seriously looked at Kara. “I don’t mean to overstep, but are you sure you’re up for this? We can do this another day.”
“No no, I’m good,” Kara insisted, flashing a smile that she knew wasn’t very convincing and pushing her glasses up further on her face. “Justice waits for no one, right?”
William frowned, but he didn’t question her further. He turned to the door and pushed his way inside. Kara followed after him. She expected the place to be empty, but she could hear footsteps coming from inside. Her anxiety spiked as she imagined all the terrible ways William could die. She stepped forward, prepared to protect him if necessary. What she saw, she was completely unprepared for.
In the middle of the room sat Lena Luthor, cross-legged and hunched over, but still looking as regal as always. She held a handful of papers, and a bunch more were scattered all around her like a detective movie. She looked up, green eyes wide and alarmed, then narrowed her eyes once she saw who it was. “Kara,” she drawled, only glancing at William. Despite everything, she still kept Kara’s identity safe. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“We’re looking for Lex,” William said, much to Kara’s horror. “I don’t suppose he’s with you? Want to tell us what you’re doing here?”
“Hey, ease up,” Kara cut in defensively. “Lena’s not a threat. Just let me talk to her.”
Lena scowled as Kara approached her. Kara was just trying to think her way out of the situation before William or Lena threw a punch. She opened her mouth to talk, but as she got close, a sharp pain ran through her entire body, causing her to gasp instead. The scowl dropped, and Lena looked truly worried for a second. Then, the ground slid out from underneath her, and she went tumbling into the pitch black.
She hit a glass surface, falling onto her side and hitting her head. By the smell of things, something was bleeding. She tried to reach out to grab the wall, but she couldn’t move her arm. Lena had fallen on top of her, pinning her. Above them, she could hear William screaming her name, then a loud crash as the ceiling closed back up over them.
The two women untangled themselves from each other. There wasn’t enough room to stand. They could only crouch. A soft, green glow filled the space. It was kryptonite. Kara knew because her whole body felt like it was on fire. “Lena!” she cried out.
“Hold on, Supergirl,” Lena grumbled.
Blood roared in Kara’s ears. She took a deep breath, but her lungs still felt empty like some great pressure was crushing her. Where was she? It was getting harder to remember. Was it the Phantom Zone? It had to be. She screamed.
“Calm down. I’m trying to think,” Lena complained over Supergirl’s yelling. “This must be Lex’s doing. He set a trap for your bio scan, and I was unlucky enough to get caught up in it too.” The walls glowed with Kryptonite, enough that it had to be hurting Supergirl along with dampening her powers. “But I know my brother. I’ll get us out of here.”
Supergirl muttered something Lena couldn’t understand and started to strike the wall with her hands. It was useless.
“That won’t work in here,” Lena told her, rolling her eyes. The Kryptonian continued hitting the wall as if Lena hadn’t spoken. “Did you hear me? You can’t punch your way out of this one.”
“No no no, I can’t be stuck in here,” Supergirl argued. “Not again.”
Again? “What are you talking about?” Lena asked.
“The Phantom Zone,” Supergirl explained. Then, to Lena’s surprise, she let out a low whimper. “It hurts, Lena. No heartbeat. Can’t breathe. I can’t go back there.”
Cold horror washed over Lena as she watched her ex-best friend curl in on herself and shudder. In her mind’s eye, she remembered Supergirl pleading with her eyes, trapped in the Fortress of Solitude. She never meant to hurt Supergirl. All she wanted was to contain her. Now learning that Supergirl was claustrophobic, she felt sick.
“Supergirl,” Lena started.
“It’s Kara!” she screamed back, her voice growing shrill and shaking. “I am so sick of everyone telling Supergirl what to do, or what not to do, and nobody, nobody cares about Kara.” She strikes out at the wall again. “I have feelings too! Has anyone ever considered that?” Kara turns around, looking Lena dead in the eyes, pupils wide. “No! They haven’t! And you know how I know? Because when they wiped Alex’s memory- when they took my sister away from me- she took one look at me and decided that I was a cold, emotionless robot!”
Lena’s head was reeling as she tried to take in everything Kara was saying. “They... what? They made Alex forget you?”
By now, Kara’s chest was heaving dangerously fast. “No, Alex chose to. We couldn’t have Haley figuring out who Supergirl was, after all. And she had truthseekers.”
The puzzle pieces were quickly clicking into place. “Alex hated you. That wasn’t an act?” Kara wasn’t paying attention anymore, completely swallowed up by her own panic. “I can’t even imagine how much that must have hurt.”
“Maybe it was for the best?” Kara suggested. Her eyes darted back and forth across the cramped space. “At least then she didn’t use me to sneak a Trojan horse into your system that could have killed you. Just like my mother used as bait me to get to my favorite aunt, so I guess you could say this is a recurring theme? And that’s the same woman who let me believe she was dead for years, so hey, what the hell do I know about family?”
It took Lena a couple of seconds to remember what Kara was talking about. “The Trojan horse... you really did just want to talk.”
“And now I’m gonna die in this Kryptonite coffin!” Kara shouted, apparently not finished with her tirade. “Why do you think this stuff scares me so bad? You are literally the only person I’ve known who’s made Kryptonite for any reason that isn’t specifically to hurt me! Even J’onn kept Kryptonite around for a long time in case I got out of control, because nobody trusts me! All I wanted was to help! And in the end I wasn’t even good enough because I still watched the entire multiverse die!”
“Hey, you can’t blame that on yourself,” Lena cut in. “We all failed. And- okay- point taken on the Kryptonite. I should have been more open and understanding about that.”
It didn’t matter what she said. Kara wasn’t paying attention. She scratched at her neck like there was some invisible attacker. “Something is eating my neck,” she grumbled. She pulled something from her skin with her fingertips. In the dim, green light, Lena could barely make out the tiny, dark, squid-like creature before Kara flicked it away.
“That was a truthseeker,” Lena realized. Any lingering doubt she had that Kara was lying was squashed now.
She remembered Kara quickly vacating her office when Morgan Edge came to threaten her, only for Supergirl to appear seconds later to take him away. She remembered talking to Kara on the phone when an attacker pushed her off her balcony, and how Supergirl was there to catch her in a second. She remembered Kara fleeing Mercy’s presence and Supergirl swooping in immediately after despite the building being on lockdown.
“I will always be your friend, and I will always protect you.”
Hurt, betrayal, humiliation- it was all she’d been feeling since Lex had revealed Supergirl’s identity. All she could think about was how her friend lied to her and pretended to be partners and work together but never fully trusted her. Now Lena was starting to wonder how often Kara felt as if she didn’t have a single friend she could count on.
And then how many times did Kara tell Lena that she was the only one she could count on?
Suddenly, it snapped that Kara was there, scared and hurt. Kara, not Supergirl. This was the girl with glasses and ponytails and button ups who smiled at Lena and warmed her cold heart, not the alien superhero the city depended on.
“Kara,” she said. “Oh Kara, I’ve been so blind.” She crawled forward and wrapped the Kryptonian up in a tight hug. “You just wanted somebody to love you, huh? You didn't mean to betray me.” Kara was shaking in her arms. Lena put one hand on her cheek and brought Kara’s head to rest against her shoulder. “I’ve got you now, Kara. I’m going to keep you safe.”
“Lena,” Kara whimpered. “I’m sorry.”
“No,” Lena insisted. “You’ve apologized enough. I’m sorry for hurting you in retaliation. I misjudged you, Kara. I expected you to be like everyone else in my life who says they love me just so I let them walk all over me; like my mother, like Lex, like my mentor Rhea, like my old friend Andrea. I’ve been so used all my life that I didn’t even question it when I found out that you’d been lying to me. But you were always different, Kara. You always genuinely loved me for who I am, and you just wanted that same love in return. Even if you did make mistakes, I can see now how that never changed.”
The Kryptonian started to shake harder in her embrace, tearing up. “I’m sorry I lied to you. I should have trusted you with my identity. It had nothing to do with your family. I was being selfish because I didn’t want to loose your friendship. And I should have never said what I did about the Kryptonite you made to fight Reign. You were in the right. I got scared, and I lashed out.”
“I forgive you, Kara,” Lena said softly. The olive branch had been extended. Now it was time to take a leap of faith. “When we get out of here, I’d like you to be my partner instead of Lex. That is, if your offer is still valid.”
Kara nodded. “I’d like that,” she answered, sniffling.
“Me too,” Lena agreed. “I’m gonna let you go now so I can figure out how to get out of this trap, but I’m still right here, okay? I’m not gonna leave you.”
“Okay,” Kara replied, nodding again. She met Lena’s eyes. There was still fear there, but there was also trust.
Before she got the chance to pull away, the ceiling opened. Lena looked up, shielding her eyes from the light with one hand. With her other hand, she tightened her hold on Kara. On the other side stood Alex, reaching her hand down. Lena took it, and Alex helped her push herself and Kara up to their feet. “Are you alright?” Alex asked. Worry wrinkled her face.
“We’re alright,” Lena answered.
Kelly and William were there too. They helped Lena climb out of the box after she gave Kara the boost needed to climb out first. The kryptonite had shut off thankfully, so Kara’s veins weren’t glowing green anymore and she was able to stand. There was a small cut on the side of her head, but nothing too bad. Alex held onto her while Kelly helped Lena regain her balance.
“How did you know?” Lena asked.
“William found me,” Kelly answered. “He was freaking out after watching you two disappear. So, I called Alex, and we came to investigate.”
“I called Brainy and got him to hack the system remotely,” Alex continued. “Thank God you two are alright.
Thank God indeed, Lena thought as she watched William question if Kara was okay. For once, thank God for nosy reporters.
“Kara, you scared the life out of me!” William exclaimed. As soon as Alex stepped away, he threw his arms around her.
“I need to report this to the DEO,” Alex said, looking worriedly at Kara. “Are you okay now? Really?”
Kara leaned into William’s hug. While it felt warm and kind, it didn’t have the same feeling of home and safety as Lena’s hugs did. “I am, Alex. You should know Lena had nothing to with this. She was just as surprised as I am.” She pulled out of the hug.
Alex nodded. “I know. I saw the paperwork scattered all around the floor when we got here. Kara, she came here to investigate Lex.”
“Really?” Kara smiled wide at her sister, then turned to see Lena. She had already begun cleaning the paperwork off the floor that had scattered when Lex’s trap went off. Lena saw her and smiled back a genuine, surprised smile.
“Hey Kara?” William asked, drawing her attention to him. “I feel like there is something I need to say here. I know that I asked you out, but seeing you now, I can tell that there’s something between you and Lena, and I think you should find out what it is.”
Kara blinked a couple of times in surprise. “Wait, really? You’re being cool about this?”
William smiled and nodded. “Really. You deserve to be happy. And I’m still your friend.”
“Thank you,” Kara said as she smiled back. She turned away and walked over to Lena. The other woman opened her mouth to say something, but Kara cut her off by throwing her arms around Lena’s neck and planting a gentle kiss on her lips.
The effect was immediate. Lena leaned into her, wrapping her arms around Kara’s waist and pushing back into the kiss. The papers she had been holding had fallen back to the floor again, but Lena didn’t seem to care as she nipped hungrily at Kara’s lips.
Kara pulled away first, breathing heavily. “Date me?” she asked.
Lena nodded. “Please,” she said before diving back in for another kiss.