Actions

Work Header

The Gift

Chapter Text

The week before Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, perhaps a little stressful, but definitely not miserable. Not for most people, anyway. No, for most people, it’s the most thrilling time of year. It’s a time for family, for love, for giving. A celebration for even the least religious families. Kids send lists out for Santa, and parents rush around to spend extra money to receive none of the credit.

Stuffy offices have parties, half-hearted at best, but still enjoyed by their overworked employees. Store fronts are decorated, almost gaudy in appearance, and lights hang along even the quietest of streets. People pray for snow, even when they know it will fuck up their commutes to work at an already busy time of year, and sniff the air in anticipation, yelling to their counterparts that it’s definitely about to happen.

Unfortunately, Lena Luthor isn’t most people. Sometimes that works for her, but mostly it does not. Christmas is her least favorite time of year. It’s not the time of year that reminds her of everything she has, but merely a brightly lit reminder of everything she has lost. It’s been that way for as long as Lena can remember.

Sure, there’s been times when Lena has plastered on a grin, yelled out the appropriate proclamations, and faked her way through the holiday for the benefit of others. It always ends the same, though. With Lena, miserable and with only a bottle of scotch for company, longing for the things she does not have.

Lena had accepted years ago that she and Kara were only ever going to be friends, best friends. She’d long since lost the notion that Kara would ever return her true feelings were Lena to announce them, but now Lena doesn’t even have the friendship. Lena knows, deep down, that the offer is still there, but she’s not sure if she wants it.

Kara had lied. No matter how good her reasons were, she had lied . She’d used Lena’s own insecurities against her to elevate her facade, only to appear moments later as Kara - a friend and confidant. Lena doesn’t know much about friendships, but she’s pretty sure that’s not how they’re supposed to go.

As much as she craves having Kara back in her life, Lena can’t subject herself to the possibility of that much pain again. Not now that she’s finally accepted her true feelings for Kara. Lena no longer has the strength to only be her friend again. She won’t do it.

Lena will work, then drink, then sleep. She won’t even acknowledge that it’s Christmas, merely follow her simple plan until it’s safe to peek out of her stupor again. Even if it means subjecting herself to some questionable establishments.

The floor is sticky beneath her feet, the tables filthy, and the bartender creepy. Even the twinkling Christmas lights are half assed, every other bulb flickering and threatening to die. It’s the last place anyone would ever expect to see the CEO of a fortune 500 company, and that’s exactly why Lena chose it. She’s in no mood for young women fawning over her, telling her she inspired them to go to college and battle it out in a male dominated field. 

Lena can’t bear to hear that tonight, not when she’s never felt less like the hero they claim her to be. She sits in a corner booth, drinking until the glass feels heavy in her hand and her movements grow sluggish. A man with greasy hair approaches her, but Lena sends him on his way with what she hopes is a relatively clear tone.

He gets the message, leaving Lena alone with her scotch and misery. A man at the next table, however, doesn’t seem to take the hint. Lena curses when he joins her, sliding into the booth and watching her from across the table. Unfocused eyes glare at him, no longer carrying the sting that they usually would.

“You’re a hard woman to find, Lena Luthor. Even for me.” Lena pauses, knuckles popping white as she tightens her grip on her glass, ready to use it as a weapon if she’s forced to. “Kara is a hard person to forget. Trust me, I know all about that,” the man sighs. Lena frowns, deep creases etched across her forehead.

“Let me guess, you’re the new member of the super friends,” Lena sneers, her drunken slur stealing all of the bite from her retort. “If you’re here to beg for forgiveness on her behalf, you’re wasting your time.” The man frowns, animatedly gesturing as she shakes his head.

“No, no, no. I’m here for your benefit only,” he states. “I’m paying my dues to mankind,” he adds, wiggling his fingers before steepling them together.” He pouts sympathetically, “why so sad? Surely a woman such as yourself should be thrilled at this time of year. A whole week left until Christmas, still plenty of time for your overly expensive products to fly off the shelves and land underneath some schmuck’s tree.” 

“My tech is worth every penny,” Lena scowls. She fishes around in her purse and slaps money down on the table, swaying ever so slightly as she stands. “Thanks for ruining my night even more,” she grumbles. Lena makes her way outside, the cold air like a brick wall to her face. Tears sting the corners of her eyes as she texts her driver, but she swipes them away with a trembling hand.

“I’m sorry.” Lena rolls her eyes when the man follows her outside, warily watching him as he perches on a bench usually reserved for smokers. “You’re right, of course. You could easily charge more for your products. Although, it does surprise me that you haven’t gone ahead and released the alien detection device. If I had a friend who turned out to secretly be a superhero, I think that would be the perfect revenge, no?”

“Things change,” Lena shrugs, leaning heavily against the brick wall of the bar. “My brother and Ben Lockwood made sure of that,” she adds, bitterly. “Those devices would get someone killed, and I won’t be responsible for another death. I can’t carry another one.”

The man smiles at her, eyes wide and delighted.

“A truly good Luthor,” he crows, rubbing his hands together. “Oh I do love a surprise twist.” Lena rolls her eyes again, back teeth grinding together as she sets her jaw.

“Who are you, exactly? What do you want?” Lena demands. If this is another assassination attempt, then at least it’s more interesting than the last, she thinks to herself. She pushes away from the wall, wincing as the world spins around her.

“Tell me, Lena. When was the last time you truly enjoyed Christmas?” the man asks, completely ignoring Lena’s questions. “Wait, wait,” he holds up a finger, “I think I know this one.” He taps his chin, evidently lost in thought. “1997, yes?” He gasps, “has it really been that long?” Lena glares at him, wishing she currently had the strength and coordination required to punch him in his stupid face.

“Go to hell,” she hisses. The man’s hand flies to his chest, feigning shock. “I don’t know who you are and, quite frankly, I don’t care,” Lena snaps. “You’re clearly a half assed journalist trying to dig into my past. Poor Lena Luthor, right? You obviously know about my mother. If you want more information, you’ll have to find it yourself!”

Her driver arrives at the perfect moment, rolling the beemer to a stop directly in front of her. Lena wrenches the door open just as the stranger yells for her to wait. She doesn’t know why, but Lena pauses, her back to him as she expectantly waits for more bullshit to fall from his mouth.

“You don’t have one good memory of Christmas since then?” Lena sighs heavily at the question, glancing over her shoulder as she shakes her head. “Not even with the Arias woman?” Lena hesitates, thinking back to the Christmas period ruined by Supergirl’s brush with death and the discovery of Sam’s Kryptonian half. Her own battling emotions had made sure that particular Christmas sucked.

“No,” she murmurs. “Believe me, I wish I did.” Lena slides into the car with surprising grace and slams the door closed. The man watches the car glide off into traffic, a sad smile on his lips and his eyes trained on the car until it disappears into the distance. He frowns thoughtfully, rubbing his chin.

“A wish, huh? I’ll see what I can do.”

---------

Kara’s hair whips behind her as she speeds across the sky, her cape flapping wildly behind her and the cold wind stinging her eyes until they water. The city below her is peaceful and uneventful, not even a kitten trapped in a tree, and Kara is struggling to believe her luck. She might actually make it to game night early for once, rather than rushing in with a blur of apologies.

Her lap around the city brings her to L-Corp, her heart thud-thudding against her ribs at the thought of seeing Lena. She hovers near the balcony, staring into the dark office with a myriad of emotions. Kara’s thrilled, of course, that Lena doesn’t seem to be working herself to exhaustion tonight, but there’s a lingering disappointment within her chest.

Sometimes seeing Lena, healthy and safe, is the only thing that allows her to rest peacefully at night. She’d promised Lena that she’d never have to see her again unless she chose to do so, but that doesn’t mean Kara doesn’t secretly check up on her every evening. It’s not against the rules for her to see Lena, right?

Her heart sinks when her gaze zeros in on the abandoned decanter of scotch tucked against the corner of Lena’s desk. It had been full last night, but it looks decidedly less so this evening. If it was still her place to do so, Kara would plead with Lena to find a healthier coping method, but she knows the advice would be cruelly rebuffed these days.

With a sigh, Kara pushes off into the night, deciding to check on Lena before going home. She’ll relax once she sees Lena safe and sound in her apartment, albeit with a belly full of liquor. Kara flies a little faster than she’s supposed to, Alex hates when she gets close to breaking the sound barrier, but the desire to see Lena overwhelms every other thought in her head.

Lena’s apartment is in darkness save for a lamp in the bedroom, usually a sign that Lena is home, but Kara can’t single out the heartbeat that she’s had memorized for years. She listens carefully, frowning when she catches the pitter-pattering of a small, terrified heart thumping inside a tiny chest. Kara pauses for a moment, hating that she’s about to violate Lena’s privacy, but worried enough to activate her x-ray vision anyway.

Her gaze slowly roams through the apartment, finding nothing out of the ordinary until her eyes sweep across Lena’s large walk-in closet. There’s a girl, one that Kara has never seen before, huddled in the corner and crying. At the risk of making Lena hate her more than she already does, Kara pulls her cell from her boot and speed dials the familiar number.

Her hearing easily picks up the vibrations of Lena’s cell, the iphone left abandoned on the sofa beside Lena’s purse. Alright, now she’s concerned for sure. She has no option but to check on the child because, no matter what some people think of her, Lena would never leave a young girl alone and upset in her apartment. Not unless there is something seriously wrong.

She lands gently on the balcony and frowns when she realizes the french doors are locked. Sadness clings to her, Kara knowing Lena now locks the doors because of her. A sign that Supergirl is no longer welcome.

“Forgive me for this, Lena,” Kara murmurs, easily breaking the glass with her elbow. She knows Lena well enough to be convinced that she’s just tripped some type of silent alarm, and Kara uses her comms to request back-up. The DEO can at least intervene with any local authorities that get involved.

Quietly, Kara makes her way towards Lena’s bedroom, hating herself for violating Lena’s privacy like this. She’s been in Lena’s bedroom a million times, usually to borrow comfortable clothes during a movie night, or to crash with Lena during one of their many sleepovers, but Kara has never been inside Lena’s sacred space without explicit permission.

Kara hears the scared gasp from the closet when she opens the bedroom door, not missing the way the girl’s pulse quickens.

“It’s okay,” Kara calls out. “It’s Supergirl, I’m here to help you.” Kara gently opens the closet door and kneels down on her haunches as she studies the little girl.

The child is clearly terrified, emerald eyes wide behind a curtain of dark, messy hair. She scoots backwards, forcing herself further into the corner in an attempt to put as much space between her and Kara as possible. Tiny hands tremble, wringing together in such a familiar way that it gives Kara pause. Her brows furrow, arms dropping down to her sides as she carefully watches the little girl.

The eyes, the hair, even the tiny scar beside the girl’s eye, all remind her of Lena. But that’s not possible. Lena is a twenty seven year old woman, her former best friend who has hated her since finding out her secret. She’s not a child who is obviously petrified of the superhero in front of her. The girl’s hands fly to her face, covering her eyes as she whimpers.

“Hey, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you,” Kara murmurs. “I’m just here to make sure you’re alright. Can you tell me your name, sweetheart?” Kara carefully scoots a little closer, holding her hands up to ensure the girl can see she means no harm. The kid doesn’t respond, merely peeks through her fingers at the stranger in front of her.

“Are you a friend of Lena’s?” Kara questions. “Do you know where she is?” The girl falters, her hands dropping as she scowls at Kara. One little brow arches, green eyes severe.

“I’m Lena,” the girl mumbles. Her eyes dart around the closet, tiny fingers picking at a loose thread on the sweater which drowns her. It’s only then that Kara notices that the child is wearing Lena’s old college sweatshirt, a pair of oversized leggings abandoned by her feet. “Where am I?”

Kara pauses, eyes wide as she slumps down onto her backside. She stares at the girl in front of her, stunned into silence. This can’t be Lena. It just can’t be. It doesn’t make sense and yet it makes all the sense in the world. The girl looks like Lena, even down to her mannerisms. Her name is Lena, she’s dressed, sort of, in Lena’s clothes and is locked away in Lena’s apartment.

“Where’s my mother?” the girl, Lena , asks. “She’ll be mad.” Kara swallows thickly, her breath caught in her throat and her heart pounding erratically in her chest. “She’ll send Lex to find me,” Lena adds, glaring at Kara as though blaming her for not being where she’s supposed to be.

“I- I don’t know,” Kara dumbly responds, unable to tear her gaze from this tiny version of Lena. Lena watches her, eyes wide and distrustful, as though ready to bolt if Kara makes any sudden movements. They sit there in silence for several long moments, each trying to suss the other out, until Kara hears a crash from the living room.

Lena lets out a small cry, burrowing her face in her hands again and pressing herself further against the closet wall. Kara hears Alex’s voice seconds before the bedroom door flies open, and she holds her hand up. Alex pauses in the doorway, eyes wild as they dart around the bedroom, looking for signs of danger.

“Stand down,” Kara states. “You’ll scare her.”

“Scare who? ” Alex marches across the room, gun drawn as she pauses behind Kara. “Oh.” Alex signals to the agents behind her to back off, shooing them into the living room. “What’s going on, Kara?” Alex allows her hand to drop down to her side, but she doesn’t holster her gun.

“This is Lena,” Kara murmurs, almost in a daze. “ Our Lena.” Alex frowns, side-eyeing her sister. She looks around the room, seeing nobody else save the timid child in the corner of the closet.

“That’s Lena?” Alex stares at Kara as though she’s grown an extra head, something she’s definitely seen an alien do before. “Lena Luthor?” she questions slowly, as though the words are too foreign to easily leave her mouth. “The CEO of L-Corp? Lena, who came to game nights and kicked all of our asses at Scrabble?”

“Yes,” Kara nods, throwing her arms up. “I don’t know how else to say it, Alex. That’s Lena .” Dark eyes flit between Kara and Lena, narrowing in disbelief. She scoffs, shaking her head and mumbling to herself that she’s being punked even as she steps a little closer to Lena.

“I knew she was short, but not that short,” Alex mumbles, defense mechanism in the form of humor kicking in at the most inappropriate time. She stares at the tiny version of their former friend, convinced that Kara is mistaken, but not knowing how that’s possible. She kneels down, “hey, kiddo. You wanna come out of the closet?” Alex keeps her tone low, gentle, and she finally puts her gun away.

Lena vehemently shakes her head, glaring at the newcomer who she most definitely does not trust. Alex sighs, glancing around her again. There’s not much she can do with the child out of reach, but she doesn’t want to scar her for life by manhandling her out of the closet.

“It can’t be her,” Alex says, glancing at Kara. “It’s just a relative we don’t know about. There’s a lot of crazies out of there who found Lex attractive.” Alex pauses to grimace, bile rising in her throat. “He probably got one of his groupies pregnant.”

“No,” Kara shakes her head, “Lena would tell us.”

“Not anymore,” Alex argues, gently. “Maybe we should call Andrea. They’re close, right? Maybe she knows where Lena is.” Kara sighs heavily, growing impatient.

“We know where she is,” Kara hisses. “She’s right here.” Kara notices Lena startle out of the corner of her eye, the harsh tone frightening her. “I’m sorry,” Kara says, wincing apologetically. “You’re alright, Lena. No-one here is going to hurt you. This is Alex, my sister. She’s going to help keep you safe.”

“I want Lex,” Lena demands, tiny hands dropping from her face and balling into fists. “Where is he?” The glare aimed at them may be a watered down version, but there’s no mistaking that this is, in fact, Lena Luthor. “I want Lex,” she repeats. Little brows furrow, tiny train track lines forming between them.

“Let’s uh, let’s get you somewhere safe first, huh?” Alex suggests, nervously glancing towards Kara. There’s not many situations that stump the director of the DEO, but it seems there is indeed a first time for everything. “I can run some tests,” she adds, for Kara’s ears only.

Lena sinks further against the wall, emerald eyes pinning Alex with a piercing, distrustful stare. She may not understand a single thing going on, but one thing she does know is she isn’t going anywhere with these women. At least, not without a fight.

Chapter Text

If Kara thought the normal version of Lena was stubborn, then it’s nothing compared to the tiny version in front of her now. Young features are contorted with utter rage, small hands balled into fists that have already been pummelled into Alex’s thigh. As hilarious as that should have been, Kara is more than aware that the situation has worsened.

With Lena prepared to physically fight them off, and Alex nursing a sore spot that will most likely blossom into a colorful bruise, Kara is left with no choice but to remove Lena from the closet herself. It’s easy, of course, for the Kryptonian to maneuver the screaming, kicking child towards the bed, but that doesn’t mean Kara’s heart doesn’t shatter in the process.

“Hey now,” Kara frowns. She kneels in front of Lena, gently holding her tiny hands. Lena scowls and swipes at Kara with all of her might, howling in pain when her foot connects with a solid body. “You’ll hurt yourself, Lena.” Kara attempts to be stern, but Lena’s wide, wet stare destroys the attempt. “We’re just going to take you somewhere safe, and then we can try to find your family,” Kara states.

Lena pauses her attack, breathing heavily as she stares at the suspiciously strong lady holding onto her. A little brow lifts, Lena’s arms folding across her chest as she stares Kara down. Kara bites her lip to smother the smile that, despite the situation, threatens to erupt. Perhaps it’s because she’s immune to her kicks and punches, but Kara can’t help but notice how cute this version of her former friend is.

Alex, however, is pretty disgruntled. She keeps her distance, glaring at any agent that dares to show their amusement at the situation. Dark eyes flash with irritation and her jaw muscles work furiously, her desire to get this over with pretty clear to everyone in the apartment.

“You promise?” Lena asks after a long while. “You’ll find Lex?” She glances warily at all of the adults around her, pouting when she can’t pick out a clear escape route.

“I promise that I’ll do everything I can to help you,” Kara clarifies, unwilling to make a promise she can’t keep. She watches out of the corner of her eye as Alex catches another agent laughing at her, and sends them to buy children’s clothes as punishment. “Do you think you could come with us without fighting?” Kara asks, eyes falling back to Lena.

Emerald eyes dart around the room again, as though praying she’ll find some way to escape, before tiny shoulders slump in defeat. Lena nods, bottom lip poking out in a way that cracks Kara’s heart wide open, sadness seeping into the cracks. Kara offers her hand, but Lena tucks both hands safely behind her back with an adamant shake of her head.

“Alright.” Kara straightens up, “how about you just walk beside me,” she suggests. “We’re gonna take you somewhere safe, and we’re gonna drive there, but I’ll give you as much space as I possibly can,” she reassures her. She watches as the tiny glare is once again turned on Alex, “don’t worry. Alex will be driving so she’ll be in the front of the car.”

Kara walks slowly as they make their way out of the apartment building, allowing Lena to set the pace and ensuring she’s as comfortable as she can be considering the situation. Kara feels bad when Lena, dressed only in the massive hoodie, shivers violently. 

Kara makes a split second decision and, caring more about Lena’s physical well being than her possible reaction, scoops the little one into her arms. Lena instantly protests, her little fists pounding at Kara, which serves to do nothing but hurt her own hands.

“I’m sorry, but it’s very cold outside and I need to get you into the warm car as quickly as I can,” Kara states, walking briskly towards Alex’s SUV. She briefly considers using her super speed, but Kara doesn’t want to traumatize Lena any further. Kara lets go of the squirming child as soon as they reach the car, gently ushering her inside.

Her heart clenches painfully as Lena scuttles to the furthest side of the backseat, tucking herself into the corner in a desperate attempt to put as much space between herself and Kara as possible. One look at the terrified little girl tells Kara that joining her in the back of the car would be a bad idea.

There’s no point scaring Lena anymore than she already has, so Kara slides into the front passenger seat and actively ignores Alex’s questioning gaze. Tears burn at the corners of her eyes, but she wills them away and swears to herself that she’ll hold it together. She pretends it’s for Lena’s benefit, but really, if Kara starts crying she might never stop.

“Mom reckons we should take her to your place,” Alex murmurs. “She’s at the DEO working on something with Brainy and she says it’s a little rowdy down there. A Hellgramite tried to escape, which apparently nobody felt like they should inform the Director about,” she mutters, disgruntled. “Mom and Nia will meet us there.”

“Sure,” Kara shrugs, not sure what else there is to say. Truthfully, Kara would much prefer to have Lena with her instead of being poked and prodded at the DEO, but she’s not about to openly admit her lingering distrust of the organization to Alex. It’s improved, sure, but there’s still enough doubt in her mind that it’s hard to ignore.

“How could this have happened?” Kara whispers, “it doesn’t make any sense for there to be a rogue alien running around turning CEOs into children. What would that achieve?” Kara’s shoulder slump, her head tipping back against the headrest. 

“We’ll fix this, Kara, I promise.” Alex is firm and any other time, Kara would believe her. This time, though, it feels impossible. 

-----------

Eliza and Nia are already waiting for them at Kara’s apartment when they arrive. Nia looks like she’s about to burst when her dark eyes land on Lena, a million questions on the tip of her tongue as she bounces on the balls of her feet. Eliza, god bless her, calms her with a warm hand to her shoulder, quietly pointing out how utterly terrified Lena seems to be.

“One of your agents dropped some clothes off,” Eliza tells Alex, her warm eyes drifting towards Lena. She kneels down and rests on her haunches, “hey there.” Lena frowns, her little hands twisting into the thick material of her hoodie. “I’m Eliza, what’s your name?”

Lena frantically looks around, eyes wide and scared as she urgently crawls underneath the kitchen table. Nia awwws, pouting sympathetically as she sidles a little further away from Lena, attempting to give the child some space.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Eliza murmurs. “You don’t have to be scared of me, I’m not going to hurt you.” Eliza glances up at her daughters for a moment, her brows pinching together. “I’m Alex and Kara’s mom and I’m only here to help you.” The soft tone seems to mollify Lena, but her eyes darken when they land on Alex.

“Make her go away,” Lena whispers. “She’s mean.” Eliza chuckles quietly, tucking her legs underneath her as she settles fully on the floor.

“Don’t worry, I’ll give Alex a stern talking to and make sure she doesn’t bother you again,” Eliza says. “Does that sound alright?” Lena purses her lips, her nose wrinkling as she studies the older woman in front of her. “I tell you what, honey. You can stay underneath the table for as long as you need to, and I’m going to sit right here and keep you company. How does that sound?”

Kara watches, amazed, as Lena timidly nods. She allows Alex to coax her and Nia towards the bedroom, giving Eliza some space to work her magic. She slumps down on the edge of her bed, avoiding two sets of concerned eyes as she stares down at her feet. Kara stays where she is, silently listening to Eliza speak to Lena.

“You’re only five?!” Eliza exclaims, “but you look like such a big girl,” she gasps. A small smile tugs at Kara’s lips when she hears Lena adamantly explain that she is most definitely five years old, the little one growing more confident with Eliza.

“Is this your house?” Lena’s little voice filters through to the bedroom.

“No, sweetheart. This is Kara’s apartment. I live in a little town called Midvale.” Kara’s gaze lifts to meet Alex, smiling softly at the mention of home. “I’m just visiting for Christmas.” The three of them patiently wait in the bedroom as Eliza continues to gently coax Lena out of her shell, Nia eventually sneaking towards the door to catch a glimpse of Lena again.

“I hate to say it, but Lena is adorable,” Nia grins, brown eyes sparkling as she watches Lena tentatively accept a sandwich from Eliza. “I’ll totally deny it if you ever tell her that,” she quickly adds. Alex rolls her eyes and leans against the doorframe of Kara’s bedroom, arms folded across her chest and eyes trained on Lena.

“I always found it hard to imagine her at this age,” Alex murmurs. “I was almost convinced she came out of the womb in a designer suit.” Nia laughs behind her hand, worried that she’ll startle the timid little one. “I wonder how much she remembers of her life. Do you think she knows that she made something of herself?” Alex asks. 

“I hope so,” Nia sighs. “At least she doesn’t seem to hate us right now, that’s a nice change.”

“I prefer that to terror,” Alex shakes her head. “Can you imagine suddenly being surrounded by strangers? One of whom is wearing a cape, and not as a joke? It’s the stuff of nightmares for someone so young.” Alex sighs through her nose and glances behind her, watching as Kara sets up a makeshift bed on the floor. “Kara? What are you doing?” Kara looks up, frowning.

“I’m gonna take the floor and ask Eliza to take the couch,” she says. “I think it’s best if Lena takes the bed. She’s been through a lot and it’ll be easier to keep an eye on her this way.”

Alex shoots Nia a look, silently communicating with her. She waits until Nia disappears further into the living room before making her way towards Kara, her bottom lip caught between her teeth.

“Kara, I’m not sure that Lena staying here is a good idea,” Alex murmurs, gently.

“What else do you suggest? It’s not like finding Lillian and handing Lena over would be a good idea,” Kara scoffs. “No, she’s safer with us, surrounded by people who actually care about her.” Kara narrows her eyes, easily reading the trepidation etched across her sister’s features. “She’s safer with us,” Kara repeats. She straightens up and plants her hands on her hips, more than prepared to argue her point.

“I just think Lena, actual Lena, wouldn’t choose to stay with us,” Alex shrugs. “She’s been avoiding us for months, do you really think we would be her first choice?”

“We’re her only choice, Alex!” Kara sighs heavily, watching Lena through the wall.

“What about Andrea? Lena’s certainly on friendlier terms with her than us. I get that you want to protect her, but she doesn’t want to be around us anymore, Kar.” Alex frowns, hating herself for making the lines across Kara’s forehead deepen. “I know you love her, but Lena made her choice.”

“Do you hear yourself right now, Alex?! She’s five years old and you want to kick her out because she’s mad at us?” Anger flashes through blue eyes, Kara’s jaw stubbornly setting. 

“That’s not what I’m saying and you damn well know it,” Alex fires back, growing frustrated. “I think Lena would be more comfortable with Andrea, the person she’s actually friends with.” Alex sighs, softening at Kara’s expression. “I miss her, too. Lena is important to all of us, which is why we should do whatever is best for her. Even if it’s upsetting for us.”

Kara deflates, slumping heavily back onto the bed and messing up the blankets. She buries her face in her hands, a muffled sob escaping. Alex winces, instantly joining Kara on the bed and wrapping her in a comforting hug.

“I’m sorry,” Alex murmurs. “This is all so messed up, I’m just trying to do the right thing. I don’t have much experience in dealing with our friends turning into children.” Kara laughs wetly, her hands sliding from her face. “I don’t know what else to do. Her whole family is either dead or a murderer,” Alex sighs.

“We used to be her family, too.” Kara worries her lip with her teeth, her gaze once again flicking towards Lena. “Lena doesn’t know Andrea right now. She doesn’t know any of us. Is there even a right option right now?”

“I think, in the unlikely event that Lena suddenly ages up, she'd be more comfortable with Andrea than any of us,” Alex murmurs, “So, if we don’t know how to do right by little Lena, we should at least try and do right by her adult self.”

“I don’t like it,” Kara sighs, “but it makes sense. You should probably send someone over there, though. It’ll sound like a prank call.” She purses her lips and pushes herself to her feet, wandering towards her bedroom door and watching as Lena preens at the attention from Eliza. She’s aware of Alex ordering one of her agents to head to Catco, plagued by the mere thought of Andrea being closer to Lena than she is.

Her heart shatters, for what feels like the millionth time today, when Lena shoots her a wary look from the floor, the girl still safely tucked underneath the table. Kara smiles at her, but it feels more like a grimace, especially when Lena scowls at her with furrowed brows.

With a sigh, Kara leaves Eliza and Nia to entertain the tiny version of her former friend, realizing her presence is nothing but a hindrance. She can feel Alex watching her as she leans against the dresser picking at invisible lint on her suit.

“Don’t be offended,” Alex murmurs, moving to stand beside her and bumping Kara with her shoulder. “There’s just something comforting about having a mom around, even if it’s not her own.”

Kara shrugs, unable to say what she’s really feeling. Kara knows better than most just how easy it is to feel drawn to her adopted mother’s comforting presence, but Kara can’t help but feel jealous. She is the one who knows Lena best. She is the one who should be taking care of her right now, not a woman who’s only met Lena a handful of times. Even if they did hit off at Thanksgiving last year.

“This isn’t about you,” Alex says, gently. “Just remember that. It’s not about any of us.” Kara nods her agreement, the lump in her throat restricting her ability to speak. “Let’s just focus on finding out what the hell happened and fixing it.”

“What if this can’t be fixed?” Kara finally asks, voicing the concern that everyone else had been avoiding. “What if Lena is stuck like this? She’s already lost so much, Alex.” Her voice drops to a whisper, cracking painfully beneath her emotions. “This isn’t fair!” Kara clenches her fists, the dresser splintering in her grasp.

“It can be fixed,” Alex says firmly, “and it will be fixed. If it’s possible to do this, then logically, it’s possible to undo it.

“Is sending her to stay with Andrea really a good idea?” Kara tries again, unable to meet Alex’s gaze with her red rimmed eyes. “Eliza seems to have made some progress with her, maybe Lena would prefer to be with her.” Alex sighs, her arms folding across her chest.

“Okay,” she begins, slowly drawing the word out, “then why don’t we give Lena a choice.” Kara opens her mouth to respond, but is interrupted by an annoyingly familiar static in the air. Alex gapes at the man suddenly standing in Kara’s bedroom, her hand flying to her gun. “Who the hell are you?”

The man sheepishly grins at them, seemingly unfazed by the gun pointed at his face. Kara sighs heavily, instantly recognizing the imp who had made her life hell with his inability to understand what no means. He may wear a different face, but there’s no mistaking it.

“Mxyzptlk,” Kara sighs.

“At your service,” Mxyzptlk bows dramatically. He frowns as he gazes between the two sisters, “unfortunately, I may have made a teeny, tiny error.” Kara groans, her hands once again finding her hips. “But hey,” Mxyzptlk says, craning his neck to get a good look at Lena, “at least it was an adorable error.”

“Explain. Now.”

Chapter Text

“Wait, this is your all powerful, fifth dimensional stalker?” Alex eyes Mxy, frowning at the middle aged man in front of them. “Are you sure?”

“He looks a little different, but it’s him,” Kara sighs. “Let’s get this over with, what do you need? What is it gonna take to turn Lena back into an adult, huh? What do you gain from turning my best friend into a five year old?” Kara waits with bated breath, expecting a ridiculous demand that doesn’t come.

“Your former best friend, no?” Mxy wiggles his eyebrows, wincing exaggeratedly. “I believe Lena thinks she’s your enemy now. How sad.” Mxy sighs, wistfully. “You know, technically , I’m breaking the rules right now. I’m not supposed to just come in anymore, I need to be invited, but now that I’m here….” he trails off, once again glancing behind them, “I come with a built-in insurance policy.” He produces a tape recorder from his pocket and hands it to Kara, “this is a recording of me saying my name backwards. “Do you have any herbal tea?”

Kara advances on him, hands planted on her hips as she stares him down, the tape recorder in danger of being crushed in her grasp. Mxy holds his hands up placatingly, taking a few steps back from the woman who could so easily throw him out of the window if she chose to. Going by the  steel look in her eyes, it’s definitely an option she has considered.

“Alright, alright,” Mxy sighs. “I’m only supposed to use my powers to help people whom I have wronged now, and it went a little bit awry. I didn’t intend for your friend to become a pint sized version of herself. I was merely trying to ensure her wish came true, and I guess the universe decided that this way would be more fun,” he shrugs.

“Lena asked you for a wish?” Alex jumps in, sceptical. 

“Hmmm, technically ,” Mxy grins. “I kind of encouraged her, but my intentions were good. I promise you that. I was merely trying to guide Lena and Kara back together. My way of saying sorry for trying to force Kara into marrying me,” he says, casually, as though discussing something complete mundane. “Lena wished to have one good memory of Christmas, I thought having one would help,” he shrugs

“Yeah, that really worked out great,” Alex snarks, completely missing Kara’s heartbroken expression.

“You need to fix this, Mxy,” Kara says. “You need to bring Lena back now . This is the opposite of helpful. All you’ve done is make things a million times worse, and this will screw up Lena’s life if you don’t fix it as soon as possible. You do know how to fix this, don’t you?”

“Therein lies the problem. This isn’t the way I intended the wish to play out so…. I have no idea.” Mxy takes another step back, anticipating the reaction from Kara. He watches as her eye twitches, her lips pursing together. “ But ,” he holds up one finger, stalling before Kara decides to throw him into the sun, “I can help you work it out.”

“Wait, no,” Alex steps forward. She stands between Kara and Mxy which, in hindsight, will seem ridiculous. Alex jabs her finger against his chest, not giving a damn about how powerful he is, “you’ll help us? You did this,” Alex snaps. She glances behind her when Nia appears in the doorway, prepared to fight but hanging back until she’s given the go ahead.

“This is ridiculous.” Kara clicks the tape recorder, the garbled Kltpzyxm causing a look of mild betrayal to cross Mxy’s features before he pops out of sight. “Of course he’s involved. Of course he is!” Kara slumps down on the bed, scrubbing her face in her hands.

“Who the hell was that?!” Nia steps further into the bedroom, cautiously peering around, as though expecting him to jump out from somewhere. Alex shares a look with Kara, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Mxyzptlk,” Alex sighs. “He’s a fifth dimensional being who tried to force Kara into marrying him a few years ago. He did this to Lena.” Nia balks, utterly confused.

“You were engaged ?” Kara shoots Nia a withering look. “No, clearly you weren’t engaged. I just...what?” Nia blinks, her mouth opening and closing a couple of times before snapping closed.

“He said Lena made some kind of wish and it backfired,” Alex states. She sighs heavily and looks out into the living area, watching as her mom slowly coaxes Lena out from underneath the table. “You probably shouldn’t have done that,” she adds, glancing warily in Kara’s direction.

“He’ll be back,” Kara grumbles. “He wouldn’t have given me the recording if he didn’t have a way back. There’s always a catch.” Kara stares down at her feet, tears welling in her eyes. “Lena doesn’t have a single good memory of Christmas? Do you really think that’s true?”

Alex meets Nia’s horrified gaze and smiles sadly, gently jerking her head towards the bedroom door. Nia hesitates, still not entirely convinced that their visitor isn’t still hanging around. Alex gestures again, a little more impatiently this time.

“Yell if you need me,” Nia murmurs. Alex nods, waiting until they’re alone before she approaches her sister. She kneels down, her hands resting on Kara’s knees as she softly encourages her to look at her.

“She seemed so happy whenever she had Christmas with us,” Kara whispers, swiping at the tear trickling down her cheek. “How can she not have one good memory?” Alex bites her lip, staring sadly into devastated blue eyes. “Lena was miserable and I didn’t even notice,” Kara mutters, bitterly. “I was too busy pretending to be two different people.”

“Hey,” Alex shakes her head. “You can never really know what people are dealing with behind closed doors. “Lena keeps a lot of things to herself, and I don’t blame her, but you can’t be expected to guess when something is going on. You have to trust that people will ask for help when they need it,” she explains, gently.

“I know,” Kara sighs, her hands dropping to her lap, “I just hate that she was suffering alone. She still is,” she laughs humorlessly. “How the hell do we fix this, Alex? I don’t trust Mxy, but he might be the only help we’ll get. We have to bring him back.”

“Okay,” Alex nods, slowly, “how?”

There’s a crash from the kitchen, and Kara is gone before Alex can even blink, the small gust of wind mussing her hair. She quickly follows, reaching the kitchen just in time to see Mxy crawling out of Kara’s refrigerator. Lena is suddenly back underneath the table, eyes wide with terror and all of Eliza’s progress destroyed. 

"Your milk is expired, just so you know." Mxy vaults himself up to sit on the table, Lena warily watching his swinging legs. "Now, where were we?" Mxy taps his chin, "ah yes, your former best friend has never enjoyed Christmas and now she's a child. That's a doozy," he states, wide eyed and serious.

"Kara, who is this gentleman who came out of your refrigerator?" Eliza questions, her eyes darting down to check on Lena.

"This is Mxyzptlk," Alex grumbles. "Kara's former stalker, and current pain in our ass. He's just about to tell us how to undo this ," she gestures towards Lena.

"Um no, I said I would help . I have no idea how to fix this." Mxy sounds bored, seemingly much more interested in the food Eliza had been preparing. "It sounds pretty simple, though. Just give Thumbelina here a nice Christmas and the wish should be fulfilled." He's not brave enough to voice his duh , but it's very much implied.

"Why didn't we think of that?" Alex drawls, sarcasm dripping from each syllable. "She's too scared of us to come out from underneath the damn table, but I'm sure it'll be easy to make sure she enjoys herself."

"You could start by not yelling," Mxy suggests with a shrug. Alex fumes, glancing towards Eliza for some much needed support, but one raised brow tells her she's looking in the wrong place.

"I hate to admit it, but he has a point, honey." Alex looks a little betrayed, but she doesn't argue, merely shrugging. "Why don't you call Kelly," Eliza suggests. "She may have some helpful tips."

“She’s not home until tomorrow,” Alex shakes her head. “I don’t want to interrupt her trip.” Kara frowns as she watches each interaction, her arms folded across her puffed out chest. Her head cocks to one side when she hears an extremely recognizable voice downstairs, her frown deepening.

“I thought your agent was taking Andrea to the DEO?”

“He is, I gave him explicit orders,” Alex nods.

“She’s outside right now,” Kara sighs. “Why would she come here?” Kara chews her lip, her brow crinkling even as Eliza soothingly rubs her arm.

“You and Lena are friends, she probably wants to make sure that you know about it. That’s all,” Eliza reassures her. “Go change, as far as Andrea is concerned Supergirl decided it’d be best to leave Lena with you for now.” They barely notice that Kara has left when she suddenly returns, dressed in casual clothes and her glasses. 

Lena whimpers, hiding her face in her hands, and Kara instantly feels bad for scaring her yet again.

“Hey, Lena,” she murmurs, crouching in front of the table and pushing Mxy’s legs away from her face. “It’s alright, I promise. We’re going to make sure that you’re well taken care of, and you have no reason to be scared of anyone.” Kara smiles softly, praying to Rao that Lena will believe her.

“Where’s Lex?” Lena demands, scowling. Kara sighs softly.

“We can’t find him, but you’re gonna be okay. Andrea is coming to see you, do you remember Andrea?” Kara asks, hopeful. Lena urgently shakes her head, her scowl deepening. “Andrea is a friend and she’s going to take good care of you. I think she’ll buy you lots of candy if you ask her to,” Kara adds, winking conspiratorially.

There’s a loud knock at the door, Andrea impatiently waiting outside, and it sends Lena scuttling towards Eliza. Kara is hit by another surge of jealousy, wishing she was the one Lena looked to for protection. There's not really time for her to pout, though, as the door flies open.

It's a shock to absolutely no-one that Andrea strolls inside as though she owns the place, slamming the door behind her. Andrea glares at Kara, her acidic tongue clearly ready to run wild, but she falters. Her eyes widen as her gaze lands on Lena, her jaw dropping open in an almost hilarious manner.

"It's really her," Andrea whispers. Her purse is dumped on the table and she leans heavily against the edge, brows furrowing deeply. "What the hell happened?" Steel eyes flick back to Kara, her features hardening. Mxy pulls a face and hops down from the table, passing by Kara on his way to the refrigerator.

“She sounds mean,” he whispers behind Kara, flinching when Andrea’s ire is turned on him.

“Who the hell are you, little man?” Mxy clutches his chest, shooting Kara an expectant look, as though waiting for her to confirm that his height is fine. Kara rolls her eyes and shoos him away like an irritating fly.

“Why did you come here?” Alex asks, “my agent was supposed to take you elsewhere.”

“Yeah, there is zero chance in hell that I’m going to willingly go to some secret government black site,” Andrea snarks. “I knew Lena would be with Kara,” she adds, as though it’s obvious. “But, I understand you and Lena were having some issues so I’m glad you called. I have a spare bedroom.”

Andrea holds out her hand to Lena and motions her forward, sighing when Lena cowers behind Eliza’s legs. Andrea glances around at the others before moving closer and kneeling down, balancing precariously on her designer heels.

“You don’t remember me?” Andrea asks, forcing herself to smile and use a soft tone. She’s never been any good with kids and pretending she is, is hard to do when she’s surrounded by her employee and her family. People she does not want to let her guard down around. “You looked a lot different when I last saw you,” Andrea jokes weakly, only gaining a laugh from Mxy as he stuffs leftover pizza into his mouth.

“Go away,” Lena mumbles, clinging to Eliza’s legs. Andrea watches as Eliza strokes her hair and murmurs softly to her. “I wanna stay with you. You’ll find Lex?” Lena stares up at Eliza with wide, pleading eyes, the adults in the room falling into an uncomfortable silence.

“I think that settles it,” Kara states, turning to Alex. “We said we’d give her a choice. She’s made one. Thanks for coming, Andrea.” Kara has a feeling that she’ll be made to regret dismissing her boss so easily, but right now, she doesn’t care.

“I don’t think so.” Andrea straightens up and frowns at Kara. She’s vaguely aware of the others making themselves scarce, but the strange little man eating Kara out of house and home stays right where he is. “Look, I can handle rogue aliens trying to destroy the city every other week, but I draw the line at leaving Lena here whilst she’s so vulnerable. I need to protect her. The rent controlled side of town seems to take a lot of hits,” she snaps.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mxy remarks with a grimace. Andrea and Kara both shoot him withering glares and he takes a step back, holding his hands up. “Oh? Private moment? Gotcha.” Mxy, much to Kara’s annoyance, goes back to raiding her fridge, but she has much bigger fish to fry right now. 

“She doesn’t want to go with you,” Kara turns her attention back towards Andrea. “I’m not going to force her, she’s been through enough.” Andrea rolls her eyes, running out of patience with her employee.

“Lena doesn’t seem to be all that thrilled with your company either,” Andrea points out. “There’s a reason you called me here, and I plan on taking Lena back to my apartment. I have a personal security team who will keep her safe until she’s herself again. You may be the girl of steel, but that doesn’t mean you’re the only person who can protect her.”

Kara freezes, gaping at her comically.

“Lena told you?” she asks, betrayal seeping into the cracks of her broken heart.

“Please, you think glasses and a ponytail are enough to hide who you are?” Andrea scoffs, “Lena may have been blinded by those heart eyes you seem to have around her, but I assure you that I can see you very clearly.”

"Should I expect to read about it on Catco's front page?" Kara asks, her nerves stealing all of the bite from her tone.

"No. Believe or not, I think the city is safer as it is. Revealing your identity would stop you from helping," Andrea sighs. "Do you really think Lena should stay with you and your family? You call me over here, you offer no explanations, and then you try to send me on my merry away. Nothing about that screams emotional stability." Andrea enjoys her barb for a long moment, staring at Kara with raised brows.

"It's my fault, actually," Mxy pipes up from behind them. "I'll explain everything. Supergirl here can make us some herbal tea whilst we have a little girl talk," he grins. Andrea frowns at him before turning her attention back to Kara.

"How much do you want to throw him into space right now?" 

Kara responds by clicking the tape recorder again, watching smugly as she sends him on his way for the second time. Andrea hides her shock well, but Kara still catches it.

"He'll be back, unfortunately. I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

Chapter Text

Andrea stares down at the floor, dropping all pretence of nonchalance as Kara finishes explaining. Her heart aches, breaks , for the woman she’s known since boarding school, unease settling deep in the pit of her stomach. She’d known Lena’s life was difficult, but Andrea can’t even imagine feeling so alone and miserable at Christmas each year.

Andrea can feel tears stinging the corners of her eyes and, unwilling to be so vulnerable around Kara, walks towards the window. She wraps her arms around herself, silently watching as inky darkness seeps across the sky. She’s aware of Kara awkwardly hovering somewhere behind her, and catches her fidgeting with her glasses her peripheral, but Andrea has absolutely no idea what to say to her.

The sky is almost black by the time their tense silence is broken, time passing too quickly for their thoughts to keep up. Kara sighs heavily, the weight of the world on her shoulders as she steps closer.

“It’s impossible,” Kara murmurs, blue eyes shining with emotion as she gazes out at the city. “She’s terrified of us and I don’t blame her, but how do we fulfill the wish if Lena is too scared to enjoy herself?” Kara glances at Andrea, surprised to see a crack in the usually stoic features.

“She doesn’t seem all that scared of your mother,” Andrea notes, briefly glancing towards her. “If anything, Lena believes she’s safest with her.” Kara sucks her bottom lip into her mouth, nodding slowly. 

“I guess she’s kinda latched on to the only parent in the room,” Kara murmurs. “Eliza has a history of comforting strays,” she chuckles, dryly. “You should have seen Lena when my sister tried to help her, though. She kicked and punched her way out of that one.” Andrea blows out a huff of laughter, shaking her head in amusement.

“That’s our girl.” Andrea pulls a face, “if she’d rather be around your mom then I won’t fight you. Not that I’d win, anway,” she adds, rolling her eyes. Kara grins weakly, nodding her approval.

They both turn when they hear movement behind them, Alex wincing apologetically as she and Nia head out of the bedroom. They’re walking in a manner, all tip-toes and exaggerated movements, that tells Kara Lena has fallen asleep. Andrea awkwardly clears her throat and grabs her purse.

“I should get going,” Andrea murmurs. “I’d like to see Lena tomorrow, if that's alright with you." Kara has a feeling that Andrea would turn up even if she said no, not that she would, but she nods again anyway.

“Of course, drop by whenever you’d like,” Kara says. She feels bad for her. Kara may not know much about Andrea’s relationship with Lena, but she knows how far back it goes, and Kara can only imagine how awful she feels right now. “I can bring he-.”

"I'll need to drop by your office tomorrow," Alex interrupts. "There's an NDA with your name on it." Andrea raises a brow, impressed with her audacity.

"I'm more than happy for you to drop it off, but I'll need some time to read through it," Andrea states, firmly. Alex frowns, ready to argue, but is cut off before she can even form a single word. "Unless, of course, you'd prefer I have my lawyers read it for me."

"I'll drop it off tomorrow," Alex relents, grinding her back teeth into dust. "Do you need a ride home?" she asks after a pointed look from Kara.

"That won't be necessary, my driver is downstairs."

"Wait, you left him there all evening?" Nia balks, eyebrows almost disappearing into her hairline.

"That is his job," Andrea snarks, "but don't worry, I cracked a window.” Her gaze sweeps the room before settling back on Nia, “I’ll still expect you at work tomorrow, I think there’s enough people here for Lena.” With that, Andrea stalks from the apartment, head held high.

“She seems delightful ,” Alex scoffs, shaking her head. Despite everything, Kara laughs. She can read people well enough to know that Andrea’s core is softer than a kitten’s belly, but that hard outer shell is really something. “Are you and mom going to be okay?” Alex asks, “I promised Kelly I’d be home before she went to bed, but I can come check on you guys tomorrow.”

“We'll be fine,” Kara murmurs, smiling softly. “Go home to your girl. You go home, too, Nia. Andrea will be pissed if you don’t turn up well rested and ready to work,” she adds. “Eliza and I have got this. We’ll call if we need anything, don’t worry.”

Kara walks them out and closes the door behind them, her forehead resting on the cool wood. She sighs, exhausted and more than ready for this nightmare to be over. Tears threaten to leak from her tired eyes, but Kara blinks them away, telling herself that crying won’t help.

Her legs feel like they’re encased in lead as she walks to her bedroom, her body sluggish and yelling at her to get some rest. Kara smiles at the sight that greets her, gazing softly at Lena’s sleeping form, the little one tucked around one of Kara’s stuffed toys. Eliza’s perched on the edge of the bed, a book in her hands but her gaze pinned on Lena.

“I could always see how vulnerable Lena was, but it makes it so much harder to see her like this,” Eliza murmurs. “How could Lillian look at this sweet face and offer only cruelty? This girl right here deserves love and protection, it breaks my heart to look at her and know she hasn’t enjoyed one single holiday in her life.” 

Kara doesn’t have an answer, none that makes sense or won’t make Eliza feel worse, anyway. She carefully sits next to her, allowing her adoptive mother to wrap one arm around her shoulders. Kara sighs deeply, her eyes flicking back towards Lena, sadness tugging at her gut.

“If the only way to get our Lena back is to give this Lena a Christmas she’ll never forget, then that’s what we’ll do,” Eliza states. She stares at Kara with steely determination in her gaze, and Kara can’t help but smile. Once Eliza decides to do something, there’s no stopping her. “We’ll pull out all of the stops. Each and every tradition,” Eliza nods. “We’re going to give this little girl a wonderful Christmas if it’s the last thing we do.”

“You’re pretty incredible,” Kara murmurs, “you know that, right?” Eliza smiles warmly and places a tender kiss to Kara’s temple. Kara leans against her, accepting the comfort offered to her. 

“If you don’t mind, I’m going to take the bed you made up in here,” Eliza says, quietly. Kara wants to argue, to tell her that the couch would be more comfortable, but she knows if Lena had a choice she would prefer Eliza to be here instead of her. A thought that makes the pieces of her shattered heart drift further apart.

“It’s alright,” Kara nods. “Do you think she’ll be okay?” Eliza sighs heavily and gazes over her shoulder at the sleeping child, silently watching her for a long moment.

“I think so, but we need to get our Lena back and help her heal, too.”

----------

Kara finds herself feeling a little out of place in her own damn apartment. She doesn’t want to scare Lena, or overcrowd her, but she can’t find it in her heart to leave the area altogether. The doorframe is cool against her shoulder as she leans against it, Kara watching as Andrea sits on the floor to talk to Lena.

Lena seems calmer this morning, and there’s been no attempts to take refuge under the table, but Kara can still sense how nervous she is. She remains there, watching, never joining in, for a long while. Even once Andrea leaves for work, with a promise to be back later, Kara stays away. 

Lena is clearly content with Eliza, and is even allowing Kelly to talk to her, and Kara is terrified of ruining the progress her friend and mother are making. She hears Lena ask for Lex, and she frowns when Kelly promises that Lex will come to see her soon. The response draws a smile from Lena, but it feels like a shoddy, temporary fix. A bandaid for a bullet wound.

Kara doesn’t outwardly question it, though. She trusts that Kelly knows what she’s doing so, instead, Kara waits for Kelly to join her before quietly asking about it. Kelly instantly pulls a face, as though fearful that she’s put her foot in her mouth by mentioning it already.

“Alex asked J’onn to shapeshift into Lex,” Kelly murmurs. “I don’t think he was thrilled about it, but he cares about Lena. He wants to help her just as much as the rest of us do.” Kara’s brow crinkles, mentally berating herself for not thinking of that sooner. Kelly easily spots her distress, “don’t be so hard on yourself. I can’t even imagine how you’re feeling right now.”

“Does she remember anything? Any of us?” Kara asks, easily reading the answer on Kelly’s features.

“The last thing she remembers is Lillian sending her to bed early for staining her new dress.” The response makes Kara’s heart ache, sadness clinging to every ounce of her being. “She’s a piece of work, huh?”

“You have no idea,” Kara mumbles. She sucks in a deep breath, “Mxy pretty much emptied my refrigerator, I’m gonna go to the store.” It’s not a complete lie, but Kara’s desire to escape the apartment for a few minutes is her main motivation. “Let Alex know I’ll be home soon if she gets here before I come back?”

“You got it,” Kelly nods. Kara offers her a small smile, and avoids eye contact with Eliza as she makes her way out of the apartment. She takes her time buying the groceries, walking there and back without bothering to use any of her super speed. Her thoughts are plagued with Lena the entire time.

Kara can’t get their last real interaction out of her mind. The look on Lena’s face when Kara finally told her the truth, and the way Kara’s gut twisted when Lena told her she already knew. The betrayal, the agony, the anger simmering in those emerald eyes - Kara doesn’t think she’ll ever forget it.

By the time Kara gets back she can smell the gingerbread wafting from her apartment, her mouth watering at the thought of Eliza’s Christmas specialty. She’s careful with her movements, wary of scaring Lena again , and steps further inside the apartment.

Kara places the bags on the counter and heads towards Alex in the living room, hanging back and watching sadly as Kelly and Eliza help Lena with her gingerbread house. She sighs and slumps down onto the sofa, her eyes fixed on the tiny version of her friend. 

Lena seems to be slowly becoming more comfortable around everyone, but still actively avoids her. Even Andrea received a tentative hug when she dropped by this morning with some toys, but little features always become wary whenever Lena so much as looks at Kara.

“You’re going to drive yourself crazy,” Alex murmurs from beside her. “Lena will come around. Hell, she even likes me now. There’s no way that Sunshine Danvers won’t grow on her,” Alex teases, nudging Kara in the ribs. “At least she’s stopped scowling at you now.” The joke misses its mark, and Alex frowns as she takes in her sister’s heartbroken expression.

“I think there’s some lingering resentment from before,” Kara whispers, biting her lip. “Kelly said Lena doesn’t remember anything from before, but it feels like she at least remembers hating me.” Kara sighs and folds her arms across her chest.

“I don’t think Lena ever hated you, Kara. She was hurting, and felt betrayed, and she built those damn walls back up, but I think it’s impossible for her to hate you,” Alex states, gently. Kara scoffs.

“You’re not making me feel any better,” she grouses.

“I’m not trying to,” Alex shrugs. “I’m your sister, I’ll always say it how it is. Maybe you just need to make more of an effort with her right now,” she suggests. “You’re always hanging back, always just watching . Try taking part and actually showing Lena that she can trust you, that she’s safe with you. Right now, you’re just the lady who brought her here and sometimes moves a little too fast.”

Kara rolls her eyes, but doesn’t argue. She can see where Alex is coming from, but the fear of rejection, even from a 5 year old Lena, makes it hard to even try. Months of being ignored by her best friend, after breaking her heart, has taken a toll. Kara doesn’t think her heart could handle being turned away yet again.

“If you want your Lena back, then you need to connect with this one,” Alex murmurs. “Just try , Kara, otherwise you might regret it.” Kara nods, swallowing thickly as Alex leaves her to join in with the gingerbread fun.

Kara hangs back for another few minutes, her bottom lip gnawed raw. She doesn’t miss the way little emerald eyes flick towards her as she steps forward, Lena watching her every move with a wrinkled brow. Kara smiles as she drops down to one knee, slowly holding her hand out for a piece of gingerbread. 

Lena’s eyes narrow suspiciously, her little brow furrowing deeper. Kara can feel rejection hurtling towards her like a steam train, but she keeps her hand out and forces a playful pout to her lips.

“Gingerbread is my favorite,” Kara murmurs. Lena softens, quickly dumping a piece into the palm of Kara’s hand before darting back to her hiding spot behind Eliza’s legs. “Have you ever made a gingerbread house before?” Lena shakes her head, shly watching the stranger in front of her. “Well, I haven’t made one in a long time,” Kara states. “Do you think you could help me? Maybe we could do it together?”

Kara holds her breath, feeling her heart clench as Lena gazes up at Eliza. The small, encouraging nod she receives seems to be enough for her, and Lena timidly steps forward. Her tiny hand shoots out, offering a sweet olive branch as she dumps another piece of gingerbread into Kara’s hand. The kryptonian’s heart soars, eagerly accepting the treat.

“Can we make a big one?” Lena asks, her voice barely above a whisper and still laced with distrust, but it’s more than enough for Kara. She grins, nodding.

“Our one will be the biggest and the best.”

Chapter Text

Of all the clothes and toys that Lena quickly accumulated, there seems to be a few important items missing. There’s warm clothes, including an adorably tiny coat and gloves, but neither Kara or Eliza can find a hat or scarf. Perhaps they’re being a little highly strung, but the thought of Lena not being warm enough, on top of every other issue, sets them both on edge.

Eliza offers to run to the store, Kara immediately arguing that she’ll be faster, both women missing the fact that Lena is already decked out in Alex’s wool hat. It’s too big, as is the multicolored scarf Alex found in Kara’s bedroom, but it’s almost too adorable to swap for better fitted versions. Alex exaggeratedly rolls her eyes at Lena, jerking her head in the direction of the bickering women.

Lena giggles, drawing their attention.

“Oh,” Eliza breathes out, her features softening as she coos over Lena. “I guess that settles it then,” she chuckles. She kneels down and folds the bottom of the beanie upwards, “much better. Now we get to see your pretty eyes.” Lena blushes, preening at the attention as she wrings her little hands together.

Kara grins, making a show of dressing warmly despite having no real need to do so. She grabs some leftover gingerbread and tucks it into her coat, throwing Lena a conspiratorial wink as she pats her full pocket. Lena giggles, accidentally giving their secret away, but Kara doesn’t mind. She’s just thrilled that Lena is finally warming up to her.

“Now, remember,” Eliza begins. “You have to stick close to us when we’re outside. It’s okay if you’re not comfortable holding our hands, but you can’t leave our side.” Eliza is gentle, but firm. “Andrea is going to meet us at the park, but you can’t go near any other grown-up unless we say it’s okay. Do you understand?” she asks, kindly.

“Yes,” Lena murmurs, eyes wide and serious. Eliza softens, eyes shining as she grins at the child.

“Good girl. Are you ready to have some fun?” Lena beams at the praise and nods enthusiastically, thrilled about all of the positive attention. Her little hand latches onto Eliza’s before they even leave the apartment, Lena all but bouncing on the spot as she waits for everyone to finish getting ready.

Kara watches the interaction with warm eyes, trailing behind them as they all leave her apartment. She keeps an eye out for even the slightest hint of danger, and her ears tune in to the conversations of each passerby. Her blue gaze turns steel whenever someone so much as glances at Lena, not at all caring if their interest is innocent or not.

“Relax,” Alex murmurs, nudging her with her elbow. “Lena’s fine. Not everyone in National City is a dangerous criminal.” Kara sighs, nodding. She watches as Lena happily crunches through the fresh blanket of snow.

“I know. I’m just…” she sighs again, “she’s been through enough, you know?”

“She has, but we’re all going to help her. We’re going to bring our Lena back and we’re going to remind her how much we love her,” Alex promises. “She’s not alone, and she never will be again.” Alex sounds so determined, severe, that Kara instantly believes her. “It’s time for her to stop thinking that we’re just your friends and family. Lena is one of us, whether she likes or not.”

Kara smiles softly, still lingering behind them as they reach the park. She spots Andrea sitting on one of the benches and opts to join her as Eliza and Alex show Lena the swings. If Andrea is irritated by her company, she doesn’t show it. They sit in silence for several moments, watching as Eliza pushes Lena on the swing whilst Alex balances on the one next to her.

“How are you doing with all of this?” Kara finally asks, glancing sideways at Andrea. She’s surprised by the scoff she receives in response.

“How am I doing?” Andrea splutters, “how are you doing? I can’t even imagine how you must feel right now. The break up had to be hard enough without having a pint sized version of your ex stealing your bed,” Andrea states. “I don’t know if I could do it.”

“Wait, what?” Kara turns, resting on her hip as she stares at Andrea. “Lena and I aren’t - We’re not - what?” Kara snaps her mouth closed, her brows scrunched together. “Lena and I didn’t date,” she adds, weakly.

“You didn’t ?” Andrea looks downright confused, perhaps for the first time since Kara met her. “The way Lena talks about you….” Andrea pauses, frowning. “Really? You guys were just friends?” Kara slowly nods, growing more and more confused with each passing second. “I literally caught her staring at a picture of you both, drinking herself into oblivion. That’s…. quite a friendship.” Andrea blows out a low whistle, pulling a you could have fooled me face.

“We’re best friends,” Kara murmurs, shaking her head. “Or, we used to be at least.” Her confusion grows when Andrea smirks at her, seemingly enjoying a joke with herself. “Did she say something?”

“I mean, I’ve known Lena for a long time, but she’s never looked at me the way she looks at you,” Andrea says. 

“How does she look at me?”

“The same way you look at her,” Andrea shrugs. “If you guys aren’t an item, then you should really tell your face that. Would she really be so heartbroken if she wasn’t in love with you?” Andrea shoots her one last incredulous look before pulling her phone from her pocket and immersing herself in work emails, seemingly done with their conversation. 

The dismissal is abrupt, but Kara is too dumbstruck to be offended.

Kara leaves her boss and walks across the park, standing close to Eliza as Lena abandons her swing in order to follow Alex. She tries to ignore Andrea’s assumption and the way it caused her heart to flutter, reminding herself that it’s way off base. Lena is Kara’s friend, her best friend. It’s not weird for them to be so broken up by the end of a friendship, is it?

“Look,” Eliza murmurs, nudging Kara with her elbow and dragging her from her conflicted thoughts.

Kara grins when Alex drops to her knees and shows Lena how to roll a snowball, a sly smile tugging on her lips. Lena looks utterly appalled when Alex tells her to throw it at someone, the little one vehemently shaking her head. Alex explains that it’s not mean or bad, just a little bit of fun, and she points towards one of the many benches at the park.

Kara’s eyes follow her finger, her gaze landing on Andrea as she types furiously into her phone. It seems that not even a trip to the park is enough to help her boss relax for a couple of hours. Andrea doesn’t even look up from her phone until a snowball weakly lands in her lap, thrown by a nervous Lena at Alex’s suggestion.

Holding her breath, Kara waits for Andrea to explode, to maybe yell at Lena, or at the very least scowl to keep up her tough facade. She’s pleasantly surprised, though, when Andrea laughs and points a playful finger in Lena’s direction. Andrea leans down and scoops some snow into her hands, slowly rising to her feet and raising the snowball in the air.

Lena squeals and rushes across to Eliza and Kara, hiding behind the older woman’s legs. Kara is hit with an aggressive wave of jealousy as she watches Lena cling to Eliza, wishing she’d been able to win over Lena’s trust as quickly as her adoptive mother has. She’s so focused on the tiny version of her friend, that even Kara’s super senses aren’t aware of the snowball flying towards her until it hits her squarely in the face.

Andrea looks smug, cocky even, but Kara can’t bring herself to be irritated when she hears Lena’s giggle. Lena looks positively delighted as she peeks out from behind Eliza’s legs, her little face completely lighting up. Lena doesn’t even look away this time when Kara looks down at her, something that feels a lot like hope fluttering in her chest.

An all out snowball war breaks out, one that doesn’t stop until Lena is red in the face and panting from exertion. Lena flops down onto her back, giggling wildly, the melodic sound so infectious that even Andrea has to surreptitiously wipe a tear from her eye from laughing so hard. Alex collapses into the snow beside Lena, poking her in the ribs and eliciting another loud giggle.

“She’s going to be a wonderful mother some day.” Eliza is suddenly behind Kara, a gentle smile on her lips as she watches her oldest daughter play with Lena. Kara wraps one arm around her adoptive mother’s shoulders, hugging her close.

"She is," Kara agrees, watching as Alex teaches Lena how to create a snow angel. She can’t take her eyes off Lena, her brain overloaded with everything Andrea said. It’s not possible, right? There’s no way Lena, her Lena could be in love with her.

“Alex called Sam this morning,” Eliza murmurs. “She’s going to run things from Metropolis as best as she can. At least this way Lena will have a company to go back to when she’s ready.” Eliza sighs softly, “I think I’m going to stay here for a while if that’s alright with you. I can get a hotel room if you need me to, but I don’t want to go home until I know Lena is okay.”

“Don’t be silly,” Kara says. “You’re more than welcome to stay with me as long as you need to. You always are.” Kara kisses Eliza’s cheek and tightens her arm around her shoulders, squeezing gently. “I like having you around. We all do.” Kara smiles when her gaze lands on Lena, the little one throwing herself into a pile of snow. “I don’t think we could have handled this without you,” Kara admits.

“I disagree,” Eliza shakes her head. “I’ve never known you to back down from a challenge. I didn’t miss the way you used to watch Lena, I know you’d do anything for her,” Eliza murmurs, gently. She shoots Kara a knowing look, her mouth opening to speak again, but snapping closed when there’s a yell from Lena.

Lena sprints across the park as fast as her little legs can carry her, sobbing as she throws herself into Lex’s arms. It’s disconcerting to see a young Lex Luthor standing in the middle of National City and, even though she knows it’s J’onn, it still causes the hair on the back of Kara’s neck to stand up.

Kara glances across at Alex, sharing a sad look as they listen to Lena cry in the arms of her ‘brother.’ Lena babbles, near incoherent, as she demands to know where he has been and pleads with him to take her home.

“Poor baby,” Eliza whispers, pale blue eyes shining with unshed tears. “This must be so hard for her. Torn away from the only family she knows and left with strangers, I can’t even imagine what’s going on inside that little head.” Kara swallows thickly, forced to nod as the lump in her throat steals her ability to speak.

J’onn sets Lena back on her feet and kneels down in front of her, the little one desperately clinging to his hand. Kara listens, heartbroken for her friend, as he explains that he has some things to take care of and can only stay for a little while.

“I need you to be a good girl and stay with them,” Lex, J’onn, murmurs. “They’ll take good care of you, I promise.” Lena vehemently shakes her head, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. “It’s not forever, Lena. It’s just for a little while.” 

Kara squeezes her eyes closed, tears threatening to fall as Lena hiccups and begs for Lex to stay.

“I’m very proud of you, Lena, and I love you very much. I’ll come back for you. We’ll go somewhere far away from Lillian, just you and I.” Lena dissolves into bitter sobs, her little knees landing in the soft snow. “I’ll be back before you know it. Be good, Lena.”

Kara speeds forward, scooping Lena into her arms and giving J’onn a grateful nod. Lena fights her, octupussing in Kara’s arms and screaming for her to let her go. Kara is left with no choice but to set her down, and she brokenly watches as Lena wildly looks around for her brother, but he’s already gone.

“Honey, it’s okay. Everything will be okay,” Kara murmurs, reaching for Lena again. The little one wrenches herself out of Kara’s reach and runs to Eliza, the others sadly looking on as she throws herself into her arms and sobs into the crook of her neck. Kara is silent, chewing on her lip, as Andrea approaches and awkwardly clears her throat.

“It may not feel that way now, and I don’t know how you did it, but it was a kindness,” Andrea softly states. “She needed to see him and I think the truth would have destroyed her.” Kara nods, tears blurring her gaze as Andrea briefly touches her arm. “You’re protecting our friend, and I don’t think she’ll ever forget what you’re doing for her.”

Tears slip from Kara’s eyes and Andrea gives her arm a gentle squeeze before removing her hand altogether. Kara can’t bring herself to respond, and she’s grateful when Andrea steps away, her heart aching inside her chest as she watches Eliza attempt to comfort Lena.

It takes hours for Lena to fully calm down, her bitter tears still flowing once they’re safely back in the warmth of Kara’s apartment. Eliza takes her to the bedroom, rocking her and tenderly hushing her until Lena falls asleep in her arms. Even the return of Mxy doesn’t lessen the thick sadness in the air, Kara barely noticing as he rakes through her belongings.

“I’m curious,” Mxy murmurs, appearing at her side whilst wearing one of her sweatshirts, “do you think crying is the sign of a good Christmas?” Kara clenches her jaw, ignoring Alex’s subtle head shake. She rounds on him, heat building behind her eyes as she corners Mxy in the kitchen.

“If I don’t get Lena back, I will hold you personally responsible,” Kara states, her voice low and dangerous. “You did this to her and if you don’t help me fix this, I will follow you across every universe, every dimension , until I’ve made you pay for this.” Mxy gulps, his eyes wide as he shoots Alex a pleading look. He receives only a scoff in response.

“In my defence, I was trying to help her.”

“Well you didn’t!” Kara snaps. “She’s five years old and heartbroken because her family is nowhere to be found.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to have the martian impersonate Lex,” Mxy reasons. “It didn’t seem to help her very much. In fact, you made it worse.” Kara takes a threatening step forward, and Mxy holds his hands up.

“We were trying to convince her that her brother didn’t abandon her,” Kara snarls. “At least now she thinks he’s coming back for her, and that he trusts us to take care of her.” Mxy rolls his eyes.

“Ten points for effort, but your execution needs work.” Kara sees red, her fist closing around Mxy’s shirt as she pushes him against the wall. “Alright, alright, I’m sorry!” Mxy snaps his fingers, ecstatic giggles suddenly coming from Kara’s bedroom. “Consider it my Christmas gift to you,” he grins.

Kara drops his collar, receiving a rush of satisfaction when Mxy stumbles. She steps back from him just in time for Lena to come barrelling into the room, quickly followed by a confused Eliza. 

“She was asleep, then she just,” Eliza gestures towards Lena, “changed.” Eliza shrugs, warily watching as Mxy smoothes out his clothes. They watch, nonplussed, as Lena slaps her little hand against Alex’s thigh.

“You’re it!” she yells, before rushing to hide behind the couch. Alex pauses, her features creasing as she stares blankly at her mother.

“You’re supposed to chase her now,” Mxy unhelpfully supplies. “I think the rules might be online if you -.”

“Stop talking,” Kara grinds out, pointing a stern finger in his direction. “Snap your fingers and bring her back. Bring our Lena back.” Mxy sighs and dramatically drops his head, a ridiculous pout tugging on his bottom lip.

“It doesn’t work that way,” he shrugs. “The wish has to come true if you want your friend back. It’s the only way.” He gestures towards a gleeful Lena as she peeks over the edge of the couch, “that is the best I can do, I’m afraid. The rest is up to you.” Mxy snaps his fingers again, disappearing before Kara can grab him.

“I’m gonna kill him,” Kara groans. Eliza soothingly rubs her back, chuckling softly as Lena calls out for Alex.

“I guess I’m it,” Alex shrugs. Kara waits for her to join Lena before she turns to face Eliza, her brow deeply furrowed and her bottom lip caught between her teeth. No words are required, and Eliza draws her into her arms for a comforting hug. Kara lets go of everything for a moment, allowing herself to simply be held.

“We’ll fix this,” Eliza whispers. “We’re doing everything right, we just have to keep going. I promise we’ll bring our Lena back. I won’t quit until we do.” Kara doesn’t respond, merely snuggling deeper into Eliza’s arms, well aware that they’re running out of time to bring their Lena back.

--------------------

Christmas Eve arrives much too quickly for Kara’s liking, and brings an impressive blizzard with it. Lena seems transfixed by the fresh blanket of snow covering the city, emerald eyes wide and shining as she stares out of the window. She’s been ready to leave since dawn, her little features lighting up whenever one of the adults walks by the vicinity of the apartment door.

Eliza had warned Kara that telling Lena about their trip to Santa’s village in advance would be a bad idea, and Kara is starting to accept that she was wrong. Thanks to her super hearing, she’s been awake since the moment Lena’s eyes open, and even kryptonians need a lie in every now and then.

“Now?” Lena asks, watching excitedly as Kara slips her coat on. “We can go?”

“Soon,” Kara reassures her. “We just gotta wait for Eliza to finish dressing, and then we can leave. I promise.” Lena’s shoulders slump, and her bottom lip juts out in an adorable pout. “Hey, it’s okay,” Kara smiles. “Santa’s not going anywhere. I heard that he’s very excited to meet you.”

“Is Alex coming?” Kara knows she’s being ridiculous, but another rush of jealousy flows through her at the question. She forces it down for Lena’s sake, and drops to one knee in front of her. Kara pulls a face and tucks a few stray hairs back under Lena’s hat.

“Not today, but she’ll be here later. She and Kelly are going to hang out with us tonight,” Kara explains. “We’re gonna play some games, have some hot chocolate, and then maybe watch a movie before Santa brings all of your presents.” She doesn’t miss the way Lena’s entire face lights up with excitement, making her own grin widen. 

“He knows I’m here?” Lena asks, anxious that Santa may forget and leave her presents at the Luther mansion.

“Yep,” Kara nods. “Eliza sent him a letter and made sure he knew to bring it here, and we can remind him today. How does that sound?” Lena stares at her with wide eyes before launching herself forward, her little arms wrapping around Kara’s neck. Kara’s breath catches in her throat, tears springing to her eyes as she hugs Lena close. 

It’s been months since her best friend hugged her and, whilst this isn’t the same, it’s still damn near perfect. Kara stands, sitting Lena on her hip as she carries her towards the tree. She almost feels bad for decorating her tree several days before any of this happened, imagining how Lena’s eyes would have lit up when she placed the star on top.

“Here, it can be our little secret,” Kara murmurs, plucking a candy cane from one of the branches and slipping it into Lena’s hand. She winks at Lena, laughing when the little one’s attempt to return it ends up being nothing more than an exaggerated blink. Kara carries her towards the bedroom to check on Eliza, grinning when Lena lets out a cheer when she notices Eliza is wearing her coat.

“I see someone has you wrapped around your little finger,” Eliza comments, her eyes falling to the candy cane clutched in Lena’s fist.

“It’s Christmas,” Kara shrugs. Lena nods seriously, her eyes wide as she tightens her grip on the treat. Eliza playfully rolls her eyes, realizing she has been well and truly outnumbered. “Are you ready to go? I can think of one good girl who would really like to see Santa now,” Kara smiles. She playfully jiggles the little body in her arms, drawing a laugh from Lena.

“Alright, I know, Christmas waits for no man,” Eliza teases. “Let’s go see Santa, shall we?”

Chapter Text

As it turns out, Santa is terrifying. At least, that’s what Lena seems to think. One booming ho ho ho sends her scuttling back towards Eliza, grabby hands held to the sky in a silent demand to be picked up. Even once safely situated in her new caretaker’s arms, Lena doesn’t fully relax. Little features contort, vivid green eyes narrowed as she glares at the man in the red suit.

Kara feels her heart sink. She was determined to give Lena a Christmas she’d never forget, an experience that every child should have, but it seems that the more they try, the more it seems to backfire. It never even occurred to her that a kid could be scared of Santa Claus. Nervous, perhaps, but not left in tears.

Kara shares a panicked look with Eliza, unsure of how to fix this, and more than aware of the growing line of excited children behind them. Eliza shrugs helplessly, jiggling Lena on her hip to reassure her. Kara sighs, gnawing on her bottom lip as she looks between the mall Santa and her tiny best friend. An idea hits her, a slow grin spreading across her lips.

“Hey, Lena,” Kara murmurs, “how about you and I go talk to Santa together. I’ll stick right by your side and we’ll make sure he knows what to bring you.” Kara watches Lena have some kind of internal debate with herself, small features scrunching adorably. “I won’t leave you,” Kara adds.

“You promise?” Lena looks unsure, but less terrified.

“I promise,” Kara nods. She holds her arms out to Lena, smiling warmly at the child when she allows herself to be transferred to Kara’s hip. Kara kisses her temple and gives Lena a gentle squeeze, “we’ll do it together, alright? Just you and me.”

Lena stares up at her, emerald eyes filled with so much trust within them that it feels like a band-aid to Kara’s broken heart. Kara kisses her again and offers a reassuring smile, slowly walking them towards Santa. Lena nervously clings to Kara’s shoulders, little fingers buried into her sweater, but she silently allows the superhero to carry her closer.

“Well, well, well, who do we have here?” Kara violently rolls her eyes when she recognizes Mxy’s voice from behind the white beard. “Oh, if it isn’t Kara Danvers and my favorite little girl, Lena Luthor!” he crows, playing the part eerily well. Lena blushes and shyly hides her face in Kara’s neck.

“It’s okay, honey,” Kara murmurs, jiggling her a little. “It’s just Santa, and didn’t you hear? You’re his favorite.” Lena peeks out from her hiding place to eye Mxy carefully, her little lip caught between her teeth.

“I’m your favorite?”

“Absolutely! But shhh!” Mxy dramatically pushes his finger to his lips, “don’t tell the others.” Despite her overwhelming desire to fling Mxy into the sun, Kara can’t help but smile at his antics. Especially when Lena’s entire face lights up, her little body desperately wriggling to get down from Kara’s arms.

Lena still sticks close by Kara once she’s on her feet, her fingers firmly buried in the thick material of Kara’s jeans, but she watches ‘Santa’ curiously - no longer scared. She takes a tentative step forward as she releases her death grip on Kara, glancing behind her to ensure she’s still there.

“Why don’t you come and tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas,” Mxy kindly states, gesturing to a spot behind him. Lena glances over her shoulder again, Kara shooting her a reassuring smile, before stepping a little closer. She still keeps a healthy distance between them, but Lena allows herself to relax enough to speak to him.

“It’s a secret?” Lena whispers, nervously glancing behind her.

“It’s between you, me, and the elves,” Mxy solemnly nods. He snaps his fingers, causing Kara to frown. When Lena whispers her request into his ear, Kara can’t hear a single word. No matter how hard she tries. “It’s a secret,” Mxy says, shooting Kara a pointed look. Kara fumes, but keeps her mouth firmly closed. As much as Mxy pisses her off, nothing is worth upsetting Lena.

“Thanks, Santa,” Lena murmurs, rushing back towards Kara now that her secret has been shared.

“You’re welcome, Lena. It’s our little secret,” Mxy grins, tapping his nose. “Be a good girl and all of your wishes will come true,” he promises. Kara glares at him as she scoops Lena back into her arms, silently promising to kill him if hurts Lena any more than he already has. She carries her back to Eliza and they share a wary look.

“Was that -?”

“Yup.”

Lena finally decides to walk again as they wander through the mall, stopping by several toy stores as they go. Despite having several presents already wrapped and placed under the tree, neither Kara or Eliza have the heart to say no when Lena begs them for the teddy bear she spots in the window. 

Lena hugs it close to her chest as soon as it’s paid for, declaring it looks like the one that Lex keeps safely hidden for her at home. Kara doesn’t need to question why it would need to be hidden, and her hatred towards Lillian Luthor grows exponentially.

“Well, you just keep a good eye on Miss Pizzly and make sure she’s a good girl,” Kara hears Eliza murmur to Lena. “Perhaps Santa will bring her a friend.” Kara struggles to stifle her smile, well aware of just how many stuffed toys are under the Christmas tree. They’ve well and truly spoiled her, but neither could think of anyone who deserves it more than Lena.

Her early morning start and the excitement of Santa starts to take its toll on Lena, and her eyes flutter closed mere moments after she’s once again tucked into Kara’s arms. Kara smiles and tenderly kisses the top of her head, cradling the little warm body as close to her chest as is physically possible.

Nia is waiting for them when they make it back to the apartment, and she almost wakes Lena when she loudly declares that she’s the most adorable thing she’s ever seen. Eliza shushes her, the Danvers matriarch well aware of the repercussions of a disturbed nap. Nia looks suitably chastised and offers to help Eliza unpack their bags as Kara carries Lena to the bedroom.

Lena briefly stirs when Kara lays her on the bed, but only to tighten her grip around Miss Pizzly’s paw and tug her closer. With a tender smile, Kara sits on the edge of the bed and smooths Lena’s hair back from her forehead, silently watching her best friend sleep. Her heart aches at the loss of their Lena, but this little version makes it a little easier to bear. 

“I’ll bring you back, Lena. I promise,” Kara murmurs. “You won’t ever feel so alone again. I’ll do better. We all will.” Kara stares down at the sleeping child, her eyes burning with unshed tears. “You’ll never have to question how much I love you ever again.” Kara rubs her back, sucking her lip into her mouth as Lena curls further around the teddy bear. “When you’re ready to come back to us, I’ll be right here.”

-------------------

“NO! Nuh uh, no way. That’s cheating! ” Eliza rolls her eyes as Alex’s loud voice carries across to the kitchen, her eldest daughter entirely unimpressed when she catches Nia whispering the answer to Lena.

“She’s five , Alex,” comes Kelly’s exasperated scold. “You can’t tell me that you were a trivial pursuit pro when you were five.” Eliza swallows her laugh as she grabs the tray of cookies and hot chocolate, carrying them back to the rambunctious scenes in the living room.

“It’s the kids version,” Alex counters, as though convinced that would solidify her argument. “It was a question about the movie we watched tonight .” Eliza rolls her eyes again as she places the tray on the coffee table, handing a cookie and hot chocolate to Lena with a warm smile. She leaves the others to help themselves and sits on the couch, watching the drama unfold.

“She’s only little,” Nia reminds her friend.

“Yeah! I’m only little!” Lena joins in, emboldened by the horrifying amount of sugar in her system. “ You’re cheating,” she adds. Alex gapes at her, eyes wide and wildy gesturing with her arms.

How am I cheating?” Alex asks. Lena shrugs, not actually caring if her accusation holds any weight or not. “That’s - no, I am not cheating.” Alex, in all her fully grown adult glory, turns to her mother for backup.

“Play nicely, dear,” Eliza murmurs, placatingly patting her arm. “Why don’t you switch and team up with Lena, that way you can keep each other honest,” she suggests, blue eyes twinkling with amusement. Neither one looks overly thrilled about it, but Lena dutifully moves to the couch and squeezes in between Alex and Eliza.

It turns out that Alex isn’t entirely opposed to cheating now that Lena is on her team, and Eliza shares an amused grin with Kara when Alex whispers the next answer into Lena’s ear. Lena proudly proclaims herself and Alex as the winners, giggling wildly when Alex encourages her to join in with her victory dance.

Kara excuses herself in the middle of it, seeking refuge in the kitchen and leaning heavily against the counter. Anxiety sits heavily in her chest, attempting to hold each breath hostage and Kara struggles to hold it together. She drowns in the desire to make tomorrow perfect, her skin crawling with unease, fear creeping into her veins at the mere thought of screwing it up.

One hitch, and their effort has been for nothing. One hitch, and Lena’s wish may not come true. The pressure feels like it’s crushing her from the inside out, and Kara has absolutely no idea what she’ll do if they fail. They’ll continue to care for the tiny version of her best friend, and they’ll love her, but Kara can’t imagine what life would be like if she were to lose her Lena completely.

She needs her Lena back. The soft, longing eyes, the snark reserved for old white men. The selfless, charitable Lena who never leaves anyone out in the cold, who carries cash purely to give it to the homeless on the street. The Lena who seems to love Kara so much that her secret broke her heart into pieces. The Lena who Kara thinks she might be in love with.

It makes no sense, and yet somehow makes all of the sense in the world. Kara would drop everything to answer Lena’s texts, even the non urgent ones. She’d ensure they spoke every single day, and would take Lena food whenever she seemed to be utterly lost in her work. She’d worry about her all night until she heard Lena’s heartbeat settle down into sleep. Kara’s first thought every morning, and her last each night, is Lena.

“Kara?” Blue eyes flick upwards to land on Kelly, so lost in thought that she didn’t even hear her approaching. “Are you alright?” A gentle hand is placed on Kara’s forearm and she stares down at it, unsure of what to say. Honestly, no, she’s not alright. Not even close.

“I’m fine,” Kara murmurs, the lie leaving a sour taste on her tongue. Kelly eyes her critically, not even pretending to believe her for a second. Kara sighs, scratching her brow as she stares across at Lena. “Okay, I’m not, but does anyone really expect me to be?”

“No,” Kelly states with a sad smile, “but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to help you as much as we can.” Kelly glances behind her, sighing softly. “Even after we get her back, I’m here for you. You can talk to me whenever you’re ready.”

Kara swallows thickly, starting at Kelly with wet eyes. She knows what she’s saying. Kelly knows how she feels about Lena, but she’s not going to take Kara’s choice away from her. She’s the only person who has a right to voice it, and Kelly will wait as long as she needs to hear it.

“Thank you,” Kara murmurs. “I - thank you.” She’s surprised when Kelly suddenly hugs her, surprisingly strong arms squeezing and offering much needed support.

“Don’t just sit on your own,” Kelly suggests. “Come be with your family, Lena included. They want to be there for you, but you have to let them,” she murmurs. Kelly pulls back and stares deep into Kara’s eyes, “let us help you through this, Kara.”

Kara blows out a shaky breath, nodding as Kelly’s soft hand slips into her own and gently tugs her towards the living room. Eliza and Alex watch her as she joins them around the coffee table, concerned and annoying understanding. Kara, it seems, is the last one to realize her own feelings.

She barely pays any attention to the rest of game night, her eyes fixed on Lena as the night goes on. Kara smiles at her Christmas tree pajamas, no longer jealous as she watches Lena clamber into Eliza’s lap. Lena finally has a mother figure who will hold her when she’s tired, who’ll smile whenever Lena gazes up at her, freely offering affection. It’s been a long time coming.

Lena rests against Eliza, hot chocolate still clutched precariously in her hands as she desperately tries to stay awake. The little one loses the battle against her exhaustion during the second game of Jenga, her eyes slipping closed as the hot chocolate is eased out of her grip. She doesn’t even stir when Eliza lifts her and carries her to Kara’s bedroom, everyone promising to keep the noise down.

Kara can’t bring herself to follow, her energy focused on keeping stinging tears at bay. She’ll miss the little one when she has to go, but Kara prays silently to Rao that this is the last night the child will be present.

--------------------

Kara wakes to the sound of little feet pitter pattering across the hardwood floor, and the gentle nudging of a tiny hand against her shoulder. She cracks her eyes open to find Lena mere inches from her face, green eyes gleaming with excitement as she all but vibrates on the spot.

"He came!" Lena exclaims, just a tad too loud for Kara's sensitive ears this early in the morning. "Santa left presents!" she crows, as though surprised it actually happened. Kara grins tiredly and reaches out to poke Lena's belly, eliciting a squeal from the little one.

"I told you he'd come!" Kara forces herself to sit up and swings her legs over the edge of the couch. Lena grabs her hand, excitedly tugging her towards the Christmas tree. The little one kneels down, shining eyes filled with awe and longing, tiny hands shaking from the excitement of Christmas morning.

Eliza shuffles from the bedroom, yawning loudly as she ties her robe. She smiles fondly at them both and heads straight to the kitchen, the older woman in dire need of caffeine for her first Christmas with a child in many years.

“Go ahead,” Kara urges. “These are all for you,” she adds, gesturing to the pile that dwarfs the others. Lena stares up her, emerald eyes wide and shimmering with unshed tears. Kara drops to her knees and slips one arm around Lena’s waist, her hand resting on a little tummy. “Take all the time you need,” Kara murmurs.

“There’s so many,” Lena whispers, completely overwhelmed. She leans heavily against Kara, chewing on her lip.

“Would you like me to help you?” Kara asks, sitting all the way down and gently pulling Lena into her lap. Lena nods and allows Kara to shuffle them both a little closer to the tree, watching as Eliza sits on the floor and slides one wrapped gift towards them. “One at a time,” Kara murmurs, squeezing the little one in her arms.

“We have all the time in the world,” Eliza chimes in, smiling warmly. She remembers Kara’s first Christmas. She may have been older, but the insecurities were the same. It must be so strange to suddenly be handed several gifts for no reason that truly makes sense to you.

“Mama had a tree, too,” Lena murmurs. It takes the adults a few seconds to realize that Lena is talking about her birth mother, and they watch her sadly. “It had red decorations,” Lena quietly adds. Kara feels tears burn her eyes as she holds her close. She too lost her mother, briefly, but she can’t imagine going through that at such a young age. Kara had at least been old enough to understand why.

“Is red your favorite color?” Eliza asks.

“And blue,” Lena nods, seriously. Eliza grins, her eyes flicking upwards to shoot Kara a knowing look.

“Red and blue, huh?”

Chapter Text

The apartment is a mess of shredded wrapping paper and gift bags, the little whirlwind finally accepting that it’s okay to let herself be spoiled on Christmas. Eliza had long given up on trying to follow Lena around with a garbage bag, instead just allowing the mess to accumulate and deciding to have Kara speed clean later.

With the promise of more gifts when the others arrive, Eliza faces her toughest challenge yet - wrangling Lena into the tub whilst she’s still vibrating with excitement. Kara grins to herself as she listens to Eliza’s attempts to calm her down enough to wash her hair, thrilled that she’s not the one helping her. 

Even Supergirl would meet her match in the form of an ecstatic child on Christmas morning.

They’re still in the bathroom when Kara hears the loud staccato of Andrea’s heels downstairs, and she quickly shoves all of the paper into a trash bag and dumps it in the corner. There’s just something about Andrea Rojas that makes Kara nervous about having even the smallest of messes in her apartment. It’s probably related to the fact that Andrea purses her lips whenever she catches sight of Kara’s untidy desk.

Kara thinks it would be pretty funny to take Lena into Catco purely to set her loose in Andrea’s immaculate office. The look on Andrea’s face alone would make any repercussions worth it. Kara’s still smirking to herself when she swings the apartment door open to let Andrea inside.

“What’s so funny?” Andrea shoots her a weird look as she hangs her coat up, one arm loaded with presents that have clearly been professionally wrapped in the store. It doesn't surprise her in the slightest.

“Nothing, just listening to Eliza attempt to calm Lena down,” Kara recovers smoothly. Andrea smiles, her eyes drifting towards the bathroom as she drops the pile of presents onto the kitchen table.

“She’s excited, huh?”

“Yeah,” Kara nods, automatically starting the coffee machine. “I mean, it took her a little while. I don’t think she was really expecting to find a ton of presents underneath the tree.” Kara pulls a face, “she was a little hesitant. She mentioned her mother, her birth one I mean.” Kara sighs heavily as she grabs a few mugs from the cupboard. “As much as I miss her, at least this is one Christmas that she won’t be stuck with Lillian.”

Andrea hums her agreement, her eyes suspiciously damp as they dart around the room. It’s only then that Kara notices how utterly lost and exhausted she looks. Her, no doubt expensive, concealer does little to hide the dark circles beneath her eyes, and Kara feels a pang of sorrow hit her squarely in the chest.

She can’t imagine how much harder all of this must be for Andrea. She at least gets to be with Lena every hour of the day, and can see for herself that she’s doing alright. Kara thinks she’d lose her damn mind if she were in Andrea’s position, relying on updates from an employee she barely knows, and only seeing Lena every so often.

“I’m sorry,” Kara murmurs. Andrea’s gaze finally swings back to her, perfect brows crinkling in confusion. “We should have involved you more. You’ve known Lena longer than all of us, I should’ve realized how hard this would be on you, too.” Andrea softens for a moment, surprised by the kindness, but the vulnerability is only visible for a moment before her walls fly back into place.

“Yeah, well,” Andrea awkwardly clears her throat, “I can’t imagine it’s been a walk in the park for you, either. Lena is the most stubborn person I’ve ever met and I dread to think how stubborn she is at this age,” Andrea chuckles lightly. She leans against the table, folding her arms across her chest. “Isn’t this killing you?”

Kara chews her lip, listening as Lena is ushered into the bedroom. Truthfully, yes, this is killing her. It had been hard before, when Lena refused to speak to her for months, but this is strangely harder. She has Lena’s trust now, but it’s not real. Not really. It’ll disappear again as soon as Lena returns to her normal self.

“Yes,” Kara finally admits, "but what else can we do? Our Lena isn't here, and the only way to bring her back is to ensure she has a good childhood memory of the holidays. I can't fix my relationship with her until we do that," Kara shrugs. She's not sure why she's being so open with Andrea, her boss, who didn't even wish her a Merry Christmas before strolling into her apartment.

Perhaps it's because Andrea is the closest thing she has to her best friend right now. Maybe she's just as lost as she is, or the only person who seems to truly understand how she feels right now. She opens her mouth to speak, to offer some kind of companionship, when Lena rushes into the room dressed in a little robe that Kara didn't even know they’d bought.

“Andy!” Lena all but flies into Andrea’s arms, the woman only just throwing her arms out to catch her in time. “Santa came!” Andrea chuckles at her exuberance, playfully bouncing Lena in her arms.

“So I see. You must have been a really good girl this year, huh?" Andrea grins. Kara thinks Eliza may beg to differ as she emerges from the bathroom, looking a little worse for wear. “Why don’t we go get you into some clothes and then you can show me what he brought you,” Andrea suggests. “And maybe Kara will finally be finished making coffee,” she adds, shooting Kara a wry grin.

Kara nods, shaking her head in amusement as she watches Andrea carry Lena towards the bedroom. She automatically grabs another mug for Eliza, correctly assuming the older woman will need a hit of caffeine after their bath time adventures.

“Did we interrupt something?” Eliza asks, leaning against the counter. Kara shrugs, her eyes trained in front of her.

“Not really, we were just talking about,” Kara gestures around the apartment, “all of this.” She can feel Eliza watching her as she finishes preparing the coffee, but Kara can’t bring herself to make eye contact. Her chest is tight with emotion and if she focuses on anything other than the task at hand, the dam may very well burst.

“Kara,” Eliza sighs softly. Kara doesn’t realize her hand is shaking until Eliza reaches out to steady it. “You don’t have to keep holding it together for the rest of us. You’re allowed to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling,” Eliza murmurs. She gently nudges Kara out of her way and takes over pouring the coffees. “I hope you know by now that you can talk to me about anything .”

“I do,” Kara nods, blue eyes darting towards the bedroom when they hear Lena laugh. Eliza hums thoughtfully, her gaze burning into the side of Kara’s head. “I’m fine, Eliza. Really.” She’s well aware that Eliza doesn’t believe her, but Kara appreciates that she seems willing to drop it. At least for now.

Kara allows herself to be distracted by the magnitude of the day, finding it easier to pretend that she's okay once Alex and Kelly arrive with even more gifts. She relaxes a little whenever she hears Lena laugh or yell out her excitement, praying that it means they’ve done enough to get their friend back. At least, when all of this is said and done, the children’s hospital will receive a ton of donations. Their little family of misfits have clearly spent a lot of time in toy stores recently.

Strangely, Kara feels like she’s mourning. Especially when Lena plants herself on her lap during the exquisite meal Eliza had prepared. After tonight Lena will go back to hating her, to being unwilling to trust her, to choosing to be alone instead of being with her found family. Kara can see the sadness mirrored in the eyes around the table, most of them silent as they spend most of the meal watching Lena.

Even Nia, who had spent the week buzzing around every room she entered, seems subdued as she leans into Brainy. Lena had brought them all together again, completed their family, and it’ll break everyone’s heart when they inevitably lose her again.

“Alright, enough moping.” Eliza claps her hands together, “we can clear everything later, but right now I want to see butts in the living room. Lena got a few new board games that I’m sure she won’t mind sharing with us. It’s time for us to have fun.” Eliza sounds exasperated, her eyes flashing in a way that tells everyone not to argue with her. "It's Christmas for goodness sake!"

“You heard the lady,” Alex grins, “but I’m on Lena’s team.”

“Oh I see, you’re perfectly alright with cheating if it benefits you,” Brainy remarks. “Very wise, Director Danvers.” Kara stifles a grin as she allows herself to be ushered towards the living room, rolling her eyes at the bickering his remark sets off.

“But I want to be on Kara’s team,” she hears Lena complain, a whine edging into her tone. Kara’s chest tightens. Lena’s attached to her now ? She wants to be near her on what’s supposed to be her last day here? It’s like the universal is pulling one last trick on her. 

“But she can fly!” Kara hears her respond to whatever Alex says, and it makes her lips twitch with a small smile. Kara’s pretty sure her ability to fly won’t help during pictionary, but she’s not about to break that to Lena.

“I love pictionary!” Kara startles when Mxy suddenly appears, gleefully rubbing his hands together. “I consider myself to be a bit of an artist in my spare time. I won’t tell you who took full credit for my work, but it rhymes with Smichaelangelo,” he adds, smugly. Kara sets her jaw and violently rolls her eyes, but she doesn’t cause a scene. As much as Kara would enjoy throwing him out of her apartment, preferably via the window, she doesn’t think witnessing that would be enjoyable for Lena.

“Why are you here?” Kara demands, her brow crinkling. Mxy gasps and holds a hand to his chest, feigning insult.

“Well Merry Christmas to you, too, Supergirl,” he drawls. “You should really work on your hospitality, people might actually think they’re unwelcome!” Mxy pulls a face in Lena’s direction, beaming at the giggle it draws from the little one. “Now there’s a nice welcome.”

“I believe he’s being sarcastic,” Brainy murmurs to Kara, nodding seriously. Kara sighs heavily, forcing a smile to her lips as she quietly thanks Brainy for his ‘help’ and decides to actively ignore Mxy. If he insists on being here, then there’s nothing she can do that won’t scar Lena for life, but that doesn’t mean Kara needs to be a good host.

Mxy ends up watching, almost transfixed, as they delve into a loud game of pictionary, whispering useless clues to anyone who will listen. Which, turns out, is none of them. That doesn't seem to stop him, though, and Kara soon grows irate with his meddling. He lets out a yelp as she grabs his arm and drags him towards the bedroom, the imp loudly complaining the whole time.

“Do you know how hard it is to get creases out of this suit?!” Mxy frantically straightens the expensive material out, pouting like a child. Kara gnashes her teeth together and plants her hands on her hips, staring him down.

“What the hell are you doing? If you ruin today, we won’t get her back,” Kara fumes. “It’s bad enough that you caused this, what do you get out of stopping us fix it?” she demands. Mxy stifles a yawn, looking decidedly unimpressed with her tone and not afraid to voice it. Something inside Kara snaps, heat building behind her eyes as she advances on him.

She freezes, though, when Mxy brandishes the tape recorder in front of her. He looks smug, and Kara barely resists the urge to throw him into the sun.

“You stole it back. What are you doing, Mxy? What’s your big plan, hmm? Is this what you wanted all along?” A wave of genuine hurt crosses his features, but disappears just as quickly.

“Don’t you think Lena should have changed back by now? Haven’t you given her an incredible Christmas so far. Think about it, Supergirl. You’re missing something,” he says. “She’s still in there somewhere. Watching you drop everything to take care of her, but one thing hasn’t changed.” Kara frowns, faltering as she takes a step back from him.

“What are you talking about?”

“What’s the number one reason Lena stopped being your friend?” Mxy asks, shooting her a knowing look. Kara’s aware of the small crowd of her family gathering behind them, but she forces herself to focus only on Mxy. “Why doesn’t your best friend trust you anymore?”

“You know why,” Kara whispers. Her chin trembles, tears gathering in her eyes and chasing away the furious heat.

“Mhm, because you lied to her. You hid who you really were for years. You were a good friend as Kara, but you treated her like a villain whenever you put that cape around your shoulders.” It sounds strangely like a reprimand, but Kara doesn’t argue. She deserves it, perhaps not from him, but she’s earned it all the same.

“I can’t change that now,” she murmurs. Mxy shrugs, shaking his head in disappointment.

“She may see that you’re taking care of her, but you haven’t shown Lena that you’ve changed. You’re still lying to her, still manipulating her. You had your martian friend, who isn’t even here by the way - what’s up with that? - pretend to be Lex instead of just being honest with her.” Mxy rubs his chin, genuinely confused.

“He went to Mars,” Kara mumbles, unable to truly process, or perhaps accept, the rest of what Mxy said. He’s making sense, and Kara feels her heart fracture inside her chest. Did they ruin it? Have they already stopped the wish from coming true? No, they can’t have.

“No,” Kara whispers, swiping at hot tears as they cascade down her cheeks. “You said we had to give her a good memory of Christmas, and we did that,” Kara argues, attempting to convince herself as much as Mxy. “She needed to see Lex, she needed to know he didn’t just abandon her…” Kara trails off, the realisation like a slap to the face.

Their intentions were good, just as they always were, but Mxy is right. Kara allowed herself and the others to do the one thing Lena had essentially begged them not to do for years - lie to her. Just like before, Kara had told herself that they were lying for Lena’s benefit, that they had her best interests at heart. Mxy as Santa was one thing, all mall Santas are fake anyway, but pretending to be Lex was an entirely different kettle of fish.

“Somewhere, deep down, is your Lena, and she knows that you haven’t changed,” Mxy states, softly. “This Christmas isn’t any different than any other,” he shrugs. “I hoped it wouldn’t make a difference, that you’d pull it together, but it seems like you failed, Supergirl.”

“I’ll tell her the truth,” Kara straightens her shoulders, conveying a confidence that she doesn’t truly feel.

“We all will.” Andrea steps further into the room, her and Alex flanking Kara. “We’ll make sure Lena knows how much we all love her and want the best for her, and we’ll be honest with her. We won’t let this happen.” Andrea speaks mostly to Kara, her voice wavering with the emotions she’s struggling to keep at bay.

“You have to tell her everything ,” Mxy warns. “She’ll ask where Lex really is. You’re going to tell a five year old what really happened?” Mxy looks both wary and impressed, but he shrugs. “Well, have fun with that one. My money is not on a happy ending.”

He disappears, leaving nothing but a distraught silence in his wake. Eliza keeps Lena busy in the other room, allowing the rest an opportunity to plan their next move, but nobody speaks. They barely even breath. Andrea paces, reddened eyes trained on her own feet as she processes. Kara isn’t faring much better, anxiety sitting heavily in her chest as she slumps onto the bed. She hugs Miss Pizzly close to her, inhaling the faint scent of Lena’s shampoo as she wills herself to hold it together.

“I believe there is an 89% chance that telling Lena the truth will change the outcome,” Brainy murmurs. Several pairs of eyes flick towards him, “but the risk of extra trauma is also extremely high. I don’t believe there is a definitive answer.” Brainy’s shoulders sag, the rare defeat adding a ton weight.

“If we don’t tell her, she may never come back,” Kara finally breaks her silence.

“She’s still here,” Nia murmurs. “In some way, we still have her. Maybe this is the universe’s way of making it up to her. Maybe this is her chance at a better childhood, ma-”

“No!” Kara abruptly stands, cutting her off. “Lena needs to come back. This isn’t fair to her. She wouldn’t want this. Lena has worked too damn hard to have her life snatched from her, and I will not let it happen.” She gazes across at Andrea, buoyed by the determination that stares back at her. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”

--------------------------------

They pass it off as a horrifying bedtime story, one that has Lena crying and clinging to Eliza. It’s too much, even for Andrea who has to briefly excuse herself, and guilt tugs at Kara’s gut with it’s white hot fingers. It’s vague enough to stop the five year old piecing it together, but it still leaves her sobbing brutal tears that causes her little body to shake.

Lena tucks herself firmly into Eliza’s arms, pleading with Kara to tell her a happy story instead. Still, they plow onwards. Kara’s voice trembles as she reaches the part where the hero kills her own brother to save the world, feeling Andrea’s warm hand squeezing her shoulder. It’s dark and twisted, too much for a five year old to listen to, but Kara won’t take the risk that comes with staying silent.

Lena cries herself to sleep once it’s done, too scared to even allow them to leave or shut the light off. Kara perches on the edge of the bed, her face buried in her hands as tears leave warm tracks on her skin. She and Andrea wait, even once Eliza has fallen asleep next to them, poised by the bed and waiting for Lena’s return.

Even when her eyes itch with exhaustion, Kara waits, ready to welcome Lena back with a thousand apologies and a quick explanation that she hopes she can fit in before Lena freaks out. Lena will undoubtedly have a lot of questions, and Kara has a few of her own, too. 

Will Lena remember everything? Will she know that they stepped up and took care of her? Will she hate them for lying to her once again?

“Why is the martian not here?” Andrea’s scratchy voice breaks through her internal beratement. “The truth, please. I have as much to lose as you do.” Kara nods, clamping her teeth down on her bottom lip in a weak effort to stop it from trembling.

“There’s a belief amongst martians that there’s some kind of stone,” Kara mumbles. “One that will allow him access to our Lena’s thoughts. He enlisted a friend’s help and they’re looking for it now.” Kara sighs heavily, glancing back at Lena. “There’s some kind of block stopping him from reaching her, and he thinks breaking through that will help.”

“Do you think it will?” Andrea is blunt, straight to the point.

“I’m willing to try anything at this point.”

Chapter Text

Kara jerks awake when she feels a small, gentle hand tapping against her shoulder. She winces against the bright early morning light, startled by the little face mere inches from her own. Her nose wrinkles, catching a hint of chocolate milk on Lena’s breath. Kara glances around at the otherwise empty bedroom, realizing she must have crawled into the bed at some point during the night. She frowns, sighing deeply through her nose.

“You snored last night,” Lena states, the little one looking thoroughly unimpressed. “Andy said I couldn’t wake you, though.” Despite everything, Kara chuckles. The little furrowed brow, and the intense scowl, has Kara convinced that she could dress Lena in a suit and the board members at L-Corp would never know the difference.

“I’m sorry about that,” Kara murmurs. Her voice is thick, scratchy from sleep, and it takes a few seconds for her to wake up properly.

“You were mean last night.” Lena folds her arms across her chest, her bottom lip sticking out so far that Kara is worried Lena might actually trip over it.

“I’m sorry about that, too.” Truly, she is. The last thing Kara ever wants to do is upset Lena, no matter what age she is, and she doesn’t think she’ll ever forget the look of betrayal on her little features last night. The apology seems to be enough for Lena and she slumps down next to her, using Kara’s head as a pillow.

“Eliza is bringing cookies home,” Lena states, fiddling with a loose thread on Kara’s shirt.

“Oh yeah? Where did she go?” Kara asks.

“To buy cookies,” Lena states, the duh very much implied. Kara laughs, rolling her eyes good naturedly. “Andy’s here and said you were lazy,” Lena adds. Small shoulders guiltily hike upwards when Andrea clears her throat from the doorway.

“I also sent you to get Kara out of bed,” Andrea teases. She shoots Kara an awkward nod, “there’s pancakes if you’re hungry. Come on,” she adds, turning back to Lena, “your food will get cold.” Lena grumbles, clearly comfortable and unwilling to move. Andrea and Kara share an amused glance. “Okay,” Andrea sighs dramatically, “but I guess that means you can’t eat any of the cookies.”

Lena lifts her head, eyes wide with horror as she scrambles to get off of the bed and follow Andrea towards the kitchen. Kara listens as the little one promises Andrea the world in exchange for cookies, something tugging in her chest that she can’t quite make sense of.

She grabs the first sweatshirt she can find and throws it on, yawning loudly as she makes her way out of the bedroom. Kara smiles softly as she watches Andrea cut Lena’s pancakes into bite size pieces for her, Lena’s little legs swinging idly as she perches on one of the stools at the breakfast table.

Kara sits next to Lena, quietly thanking Andrea for making food. Their newfound friendship, or whatever it is, is a little awkward, but Kara’s relieved to at least have someone else in their corner. Even if it is her new boss. They eat in silence, Andrea seated opposite them, and Kara is happy to just have a quiet moment during an otherwise stressful week. Sharing an apartment with an excited five year old has proven to be a test of patience for the one with super sensitive hearing.

“What happened to the lady?” Lena asks around a mouthful of pancakes.

“What lady?” Kara glances at her distractedly, taking an uncomfortably long moment to realize what Lena is asking them.

“The lady in the story. Is she still sad?” Lena stares up at her, little brows furrowed and green eyes wide. Kara winces as she swallows too much food at once, glancing across at Andrea who seems just as wary to answer as she is. “Is she happy now?” Kara chews on her lip, blinking away sudden tears.

“She’s very, very loved,” Andrea murmurs, saving Kara from her attempts to form a coherent sentence. “She has a lot of people who care deeply for her, and will do anything to ensure she’s happy.” Her throat bobs as Andrea struggles to rein in her emotions, blinking a little more than usual. “Sometimes bad things happen to good people who don’t deserve it, but I promise you that the lady has people who will always help her through it.”

It seems to be enough for Lena, who returns to her breakfast, completely unaware of the emotions brewing between the two women sharing the table with her. They’re both silent, swallowing roughly around the lumps in their throats, the air thick with sorrowful tension.

It’s clear that Eliza senses it when she returns, but she’s wise enough not to question it. They’re holding it together with a prayer and not much else, and she knows neither wishes to fall apart in front of Lena. Instead, she offers the promised cookies and busies herself with putting the rest of the groceries away, battling with her own fears and blossoming tears.

Eliza promises herself she’ll remain strong for her family, to be able to pick up the pieces when the rest of them inevitably shatter. She’ll be the glue sticking them together, the welcoming party for the new members, the one standing by their side no matter what is thrown at them next.

"Can we go to the park again?" Lena asks, suddenly beside Eliza and staring up at her with wide, innocent eyes. Eliza smiles and reaches down to smooth her soft hair, tucking the loose strands behind Lena's ear.

"We absolutely can," Eliza nods. "Perhaps we can build a snowman." Lena nods eagerly, bouncing on her toes. Eliza watches as rushes to the couch to eat her cookie in front of the TV. As much as she’s desperate for Lena to return to them, Eliza would be lying to herself if she said she wasn’t going to miss having a little one around again.

Things take a turn for the weird when they make it to the park or, at least, weird for their current predicament. Lena refuses to speak to either Kara or Andrea, choosing to only communicate with Eliza. Kara attempted to hold her hand as they crossed the street to the park, only to have it harshly ripped from her gentle grasp. Andrea hadn’t fared much better

“No! You lied to me!” Kara freezes, halfway to her knees to gather some snow. She swallows thickly, staring into angry green eyes that seem to flash with something unrecognizable in a child’s face. For a moment, an agonizing and all too brief moment, Kara is convinced that it’s her former best friend staring back at her.

The look is gone before Kara can point it out, and a little lip protrudes and quivers. Fat, confused tears roll down Lena’s cheeks as she holds her arms out to Kara. She seems to relax as soon as she’s perched on Kara’s hip, her head resting on a strong shoulder and little fingers idly playing with Kara’s hair.

“Is everything okay?” Eliza approaches, concern etched into each line of her face. Kara sighs, craning her neck to look down at Lena.

“I don’t know.” Kara glances across at Andrea, shrugging helplessly. Andrea doesn’t meet her gaze, piercing eyes fixed on the child as her brows settle into a deep, troubled frown. “Maybe we should go home,” Kara suggests.

“No! I wanna play!” Lena wriggles out of Kara’s arms and clings to her hand, confused about why any of them want to leave. “Can you help me make a snowman? Please ?” The wide eyed, pleading stare is hard to say no to, and Kara finds herself nodding despite everything.

It’s like the outburst never happened, Lena humming a happy little song as they build the snowman, oblivious to the baffled adults surrounding her. When Lena requests help to add the head, three sets of willing hands shoot forward, but the outburst still sits heavily within their minds. Something is changing. They can all feel it, but nobody knows just what it is.

-----------------------------------

The week between Christmas and New Year is always a weird one, a sort of hazy limbo that descends between celebrations. It’s the time of year where most people rarely know what day it is, spending it overeating and making the most of the gifts they received at Christmas. Kara usually enjoys it. Crime always seems to be a little lower at this time of year, and it’s a welcome break from the two jobs she usually has to juggle.

This time, though, Kara longs for the stress of normality. She spends her days forcing a smile to her lips that doesn’t reach her eyes, and her nights watching over Lena until she finally succumbs to her own exhaustion. With each day that passes with no news from J’onn, Kara feels her chest tighten with panic. The old adage of no news is good news just doesn’t sit right with her in the slightest.

They’re running out of time on an already extended deadline, and the thought of never getting their Lena back fills Kara with nausea. Lena’s happy, thriving , but it’s not real. It’s not the life Lena worked so hard to build for herself. She’s not the Lena who would buy a whole company just for her friend, or someone who would build a kryptonite suit to protect someone she’s barely on speaking terms with.

This isn’t the life Lena would choose for herself, and it’s sickening to think that she might be stuck with it.

It’s becoming harder and harder to keep up the act, to pretend everything is okay around an oblivious Lena. Every hug is appreciated, every small giggle heartwarming, but Kara longs to have her best friend back, or to at least have the opportunity to rebuild the friendship. She craves their impromptu lunches, the warm hugs, the glances that linger for just a moment too long. The longer Kara is without her, the more she realizes Lena isn’t a person she wants to live without.

Kara sighs, scrubbing at her tired eyes as she quietly joins Eliza outside of the bedroom. They share a broken look, listening in as Lena demands another story about the ‘lady’ she’s slowly becoming obsessed with. Andrea, of course, indulges her, and softly tells Lena about the time the lady became friends with a superhero.

“Andy? Why am I here?!” Lena panics, sitting up in bed and frowning around the bedroom. Miss Pizzly is dropped from her hands as though the teddy bear burns her skin, and emerald eyes fill with tears as she stares down at it. “What’s going on?” Lena glances back around the room again, a dark frown spilling across her young features when she spots Kara. “Why is she here? Wait, no.” Lena scrambles to her feet with the dexterity that a young child shouldn’t have, “why are you both here?!”

“Lena,” Eliza murmurs, stepping forward. “It’s alright. You’re safe with us-.”

“No!” Lena jumps back, holding her hand up. “Stay the hell away from me!” Kara freezes, panic tightening it’s cruel grip around her chest, unable to move or even breathe. Lena meets her gaze, horrified as she backs herself into the corner of the bedroom.

"It's okay, please don't be scared." Andrea slips from the bed and kneels in front of Lena, her heart shattering when she pushes herself further in the corner. The betrayal in green eyes matches that of so many years ago, a broken expression that Andrea doesn't think she'll ever forget.

When Mxy appears, he's silent, his features wrinkled as he takes in the terrified youngster. There's no snarky comment, no badly timed joke, just sadness. When Lena blinks, timidly looking around the room with childlike innocence, he's the first person to be blamed. Mxy barely reacts when Kara rounds on him.

"She's fighting to the surface," he murmurs. "I - I don't understand." Mxy's frown deepens, thick brows furrowing. A whimper from Lena has Eliza springing forward to scoop the confused little one into her arms, gently hushing her as she carries Lena from the bedroom. “It’s like her mind is trying to come back, but her body is stuck,” Mxy states. “There’s a block of some kind. Fear, maybe?”

“How the hell do we fix that ?” It’s Andrea who approaches him, glaring severely at the person responsible for this whole fucking mess. “Of course she’s scared. You stole her own damn life from her, and now she’s stuck in her own mind!” Guilt flashes across Mxy’s features, perhaps for the first time, but it’s Kara he looks at.

“Is this the first time?” he asks, weakly. Kara shakes her head, her lips set in a thin line as she glances out of the bedroom door. She can hear Eliza softly whispering to Lena, and can hear Lena’s confused questions. A disorientated child terrified of the gaps appearing in her memory.

“No. It’s happened before. It’s like our Lena is back, but only for a few seconds.” Kara blows out a long sigh, her puffed cheeks slowly deflating. “There’s so much anger . She remembers, I think, and she seems to hate us still.”

“Perhaps changing her younger memories are having an adverse effect,” Mxy states, lowly. “If things change too much, maybe it’ll damage the current Lena.”

“You mention this now?! ” Andrea slams her hand against the wall, ignoring the ache that spreads through her palm to her wrist. “You told us to give her a better memory, and that is the things that’s fucking hurting her? What are we supposed to do? This is your fault. We did everything you asked us to, and it’s making things worse. So, tell me, what do we do now ?”

Mxy grimaces, showing a weakness that Kara has never noticed before. Her questions catch her in her throat, her voice swallowed by the burgeoning lump as the imp shrugs.

“I don’t know.”

Chapter Text

Andrea clearly remembers the very first New Year’s Eve she and Lena spent together, underage and drunk on scotch that they were much too young to be drinking. Their parents had been too busy to spend the evening with them, but neither of them had minded too much, happy to at least have each other. They even had their very first kiss that night, instantly regretting it out of fear of destroying their friendship.

Her plans for this year had been to spend it alone in her apartment, wine drunk and fast asleep long before midnight. She really hadn’t been expecting to spend it babysitting the five year old version of her oldest friend whilst the others experimented on an ancient, magical stone from fucking Mars. It’s enough to make her head spin, and the bottle of wine waiting for her at home sure is tempting.

She disentangles herself from a clingy Lena and makes her way to the kitchen, looking through all of the cupboards until she finds Kara’s mugs. Andrea is used to much fancier coffee than is available to her, but beggars can’t be choosers. There’s no way she can get through this without caffeine.

Andrea is aware of Lena lingering a few steps behind her, the little one clearly in no mood to be left alone today. She watches Lena out of the corner of her eye as she prepares herself a coffee, easily spotting the hesitation on young features. Little fingers tug on her bear’s ear, taking out any fears or frustrations on poor Miss Pizzly.

“Are you okay, kiddo? Do you need something?” Andrea leaves her mug on the counter and steps a little closer to her, frowning when green eyes glare back at her. The anger is only visible for a second, but it’s like a solid punch to Andrea’s gut. Little brows remained furrowed even once the rage filters from her gaze, Lena stomping her foot in frustration.

“She won’t get out of my head.” 

Andrea has enough younger cousins to know that kids can come out with the most random, sometimes creepy, things, but nothing has ever chilled her to the bone as much as those seven words. As she looks down into innocent green eyes, Andrea finds her herself at a complete loss of how to respond. It’s funny, really, that even at this tender age, Lena is the only person who can render her speechless.

Lena continues to stare up at her, clearly waiting for some kind of response, but Andrea doesn’t have one. Instead, she scoops the child into her arms and hugs her close, her fingernails lightly scratching the back of Lena’s neck. It seems to be enough for Lena, who relaxes against her and rests her head on Andrea’s shoulder.

“Let’s order some food for the others coming home, hmm? I’m sure they’re all starving by now,” Andrea murmurs. She roots around inside the drawer filled with takeout menus, realizing she doesn’t really know the others well enough to order for them.

“Pizza please?” Lena asks, stifling a yawn. Andrea chuckles softly, giving the top of Lena’s head a quick peck. “And potstickers?” The little hopeful voice is hard to say no to, especially today, and Andrea accepts that she’s ordering from two different restaurants with a small smile. She can only hope that Kara’s influence on her food preferences will disappear once Lena is herself again. Andrea will not be joining Lena for dinner if that is what's on the menu all the time.

She’s not entirely sure who’s coming back to Kara’s apartment, so Andrea orders more than enough for all of them. She assumes Kara will easily finish any leftovers with minimal encouragement, anyway. Lena seems more content now, the thought of a full stomach enough to rid her of her lingering frustrations. As much as Andrea finds the pouting adorable, it’s a lot easier to babysit when the child is happy.

When Kelly arrives from work, bringing absolutely no news, Andrea feels anxiety crawl into her chest and squeezes with all it’s might. The old adage of no news is good news only riles her, Andrea much preferring activity to passively waiting around. She’s never had much patience, and when it comes to the safety of someone she cares about, Andrea has even less.

Andrea hides in the bathroom, clawing at her chest as she attempts to suck in a deep breath. Her senses feel dulled, muted, and she sinks down to the floor with a thump. Tears burn her eyes, cascading down her cheeks faster than her hands can swipe at them. Andrea tucks her knees against her chest and sobs into them, the pent up anxieties overwhelming her entirely.

She’s tried so hard to be the strong one, to hold it together for Lena’s sake, but it’s too much. It’s too hard . The possibility of losing her oldest friend so soon after getting her back is like a knife stuck in the very fabric of her being, the blade piercing her soul and leaving Andrea to helplessly watch as it seeps away.

The quiet knock on the bathroom door startles her, but Andrea doesn’t move, doesn’t even speak. Even when it creaks open, she remains sitting on the floor with her chin resting on her knees. Kara doesn’t touch her, nor speak to her, merely choosing to sit down opposite Andrea and wait for her to speak.

Several minutes pass in silence, save for the small hiccups and sniffles from Andrea. Kara watches her sadly, chewing on the inside of her cheek and wishing they were close enough for her to comfort Andrea without it feeling awkward. If it were Lena, or Alex, Kara would wrap her arms around them, hugging them tight until the tension slips from their body. She doesn’t think Andrea would be comfortable with that, though, and Kara truly has no idea how to help her.

“Did it work?” Andrea finally breaks their silence, congested from crying. Kara offers a small smile that doesn’t quite reach tired eyes.

“We think so,” Kara murmurs. “We even tried the DEO’s psychic inhibitors, and J’onn was still able to break through it. It may not help Lena, but it’s worth trying to get through to her. She’s still in there somewhere. Our Lena can still come back to us as long as we don’t give up.”

Andrea finally meets her gaze and spots something in Kara’s steel blue eyes that she hasn’t seen in days; hope. It’s careful, refrained, but it’s there, and Andrea feels her chest loosen just a little. The simple act of breathing feels less of a chore, her lungs flooding with more oxygen than Andrea is convinced she has inhaled for several days.

“She’s pretty pissed at us,” Andrea states. “That’s only gonna worsen once we get her back.”

“At least Lena will be herself. She can feel her own feelings, take a bath by herself, and cut up her own food.” Kara sighs heavily, leaning back on her hands as she stretches her legs out in front of her. “She gets her life back. I can handle her hating me if it means she hasn’t lost everything she worked so hard for.” Kara frowns, picking at a loose thread on the bottom of her shirt. “Are you okay?” she asks.

“No,” Andrea scoffs, chuckling softly. “I don’t think either of us are, and we won’t be until Lena’s back.” Kara shrugs, a weak attempt to hide her shattered heart. Andrea sobers, “does the imp think it will work?” Just mentioning Mxy leaves a sour taste on Andrea’s tongue, her resentment evident by her scrunched up features.

“He was no help,” Kara sighs, rolling her eyes. She pushes herself to her feet with a groan that comes from years of pretense rather than necessity. “Come on, let’s get our Lena back so we can feel free to throw Mxy into the sun.” Kara holds her hand out to Andrea, hauling her to her feet. “I think Lena deserves for us to stop moping, don’t you?”

Andrea flushes pink, but nods her agreement. Now isn’t the time for falling apart, not when they have a chance to bring their friend back. She can do that later, hating herself whilst lost in the bottom of a bottle of scotch. The wine won't be enough.

Lena attempts to rush towards them when they step into the living room, but Eliza gently holds her back, murmuring soft reassurances into her ear. Alex stands off to the side with Kelly and Nia, her brows furrowed and dark eyes unblinking. Concern is etched across her features, her lip caught between her teeth as she stares across at Lena.

J’onn seems to be the only calm one, or he’s at least a better actor, and his smile is kind as he approaches Lena and Eliza. Lena looks unsure, nervous even, little brows pinched together as she tucks herself a little closer to Eliza’s legs. Green eyes stare pleadingly at Andrea, who immediately steps forward, only to be gently pulled back.

Kara shakes her head, subtly jerking her head in the direction of the kitchen. Andrea frowns, but seemingly trusts that Kara knows what she’s doing as she follows her, despite Lena’s protests from behind them. Kara’s heart is a jackhammer behind her ribs, her mouth dry and her palms sweaty as she watches J’onn approach Lena.

Lena looks downright terrified when J’onn kneels down in front of her, his movements slow as he gently presses the stone to her temple. Kara gnaws her bottom lip raw as she listens to him calmly explain what he’s doing, unable to meet Andrea’s gaze even as she feels it burning into the side of her face. Her heart sits in her throat, fear and hope mixing a confusing concoction brewing inside of her.

“Alright, I’m going to try and speak to big girl Lena now,” J’onn murmurs. “It won’t hurt you at all, but you might feel a little confused afterwards. We’re all right here and you’re completely safe, I promise.” He waits until Lena silently nods, her bottom lip trembling, before he continues.

Kara holds her breath, watching as J’onn puts his free hand to his own temple, his eyes squeezing closed as he desperately tries to make a connection. Lena stares across at Kara, terrified emerald eyes pleading with her, but interrupting J’onn now would put Lena further in harm's way. Kara can only pray that Lena will understand, and forgive, her distance later.

She feels Andrea’s hand slip into hers, clinging to her tightly. Kara gently squeezes, glancing at Andrea for a short moment. She sees her own fears mirrored in Andrea’s steely eyes, and can almost feel the tension that settles across slim shoulders. Kara gives her a determined nod, silently promising to never give up, a nod which is returned with a set jaw.

“She’s trying,” J’onn mutters, his gaze still firmly trained on Lena. “She’s been trying to come back this whole time, but it’s too hard. She’s confused, says her memories are changing and it’s hard to focus. “J’onn’s frown deepens, “Lena says the little one isn’t letting go.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Andrea steps forward, deep lines settling across her forehead. “Why isn’t she letting go?”

“Because she’s happy.” It’s Kara who speaks, blue eyes drowning in unshed tears as she wraps her arms around herself. “We gave her what she wanted. We gave her happy memories, and she doesn’t want to leave.” Kara swallows audibly, unable to meet anyone’s gaze. “All she knows is pain and heartbreak. Her mother died in front of her and she was left with a family who manipulated her for their own personal gain.” She finally looks at Andrea, “would you want to go back to that?”

“She’s not going back,” Andrea shrugs, helplessly. “Not really. She’s not even really here, she’s just a memory brought to life.” Mxy grumbles under his breath, making the mistake of reminding Andrea of his presence. “And you, you are completely responsible for this. If Lena is stuck like this, then Kara will be the least of your problems.” Andrea steps forward, her nostrils flaring as she invades his personal space.

“You know, you’re really pretty when you’re mad,” Mxy comments, “but I’m beginning to understand why so many people hate having you as their boss.”

Kara steps forward to gently grasp Andrea’s upper arm, stopping her from attempting to remove Mxy’s head from his shoulders. 

A gasp ripples through the room as J’onn is thrown backwards, the stone skittering across the floor until it hits the bottom of Kara’s TV stand. He seems dazed, but otherwise word, his heavy brow furrowing as he watches Lena clamber into Eliza’s arms. His eyes never leave Lena as Alex helps him to his feet, the room struck with a tense, confused silence.

The setting sun casts eerie shadows across the room, flickering like a looming deadline. Lena sniffles into Eliza’s shoulder, her little body shaking with fearful sobs. J’onn steps forward to collect the stone and moves towards them, but Eliza sends him away with a sharp look. Lena’s had enough, that much is clear. If her fear is strong enough to break the connection, then she needs a break and Eliza won’t have the little one terrorized any further.

“What the fuck do we do now?” Alex asks, ignoring the sharp look her mother sends her for the coarse language. “She’s five , how the hell is she stronger than the stone?” Alex throws her arms in the air, looking around the room for answers.

“It’s like the mean one said,” Mxy murmurs. “This Lena is essentially a memory. A lifetime of memories, even, and very few of them are happy. The stone can help you communicate with your friend, but only for as long as the little one allows it. She means no harm, but she’s scared and she doesn’t know that things do get better.”

“What are you saying?” Kara stares at him with wet, red rimmed eyes.

“I’m saying that I don’t think it’s as simple as fulfilling adult Lena’s wish.” Mxy’s gaze drops to his shifting feet. “I think little Lena needs some help to let go, otherwise your friend is stuck.” He looks up, uncharacteristic guilt weighing heavily on him as he notices the pain etched on several faces. “I’ll give you some time.” He glances at Kara, “let me know if you need me.”

His exit is less flamboyant this time, disappearing with a pathetic pop that fits the mood in the living room. Eliza is silent as she carries Lena towards the bedroom, shooting J’onn a look that tells him it would be unwise to follow them. Kara sighs and leans heavily against the counter, Andrea’s clammy hand still firmly wrapped around her own.

She listens as Eliza comforts Lena, the child asking questions that Eliza doesn’t have the answer to. That none of them have the answers to, really. They’re left with an impossible task, to encourage a scared child to give up a life that she deserves, one that Kara wishes Lena had all along. It seems cruel that the only kindness the universe wants to offer is in exchange for everything Lena has worked so hard for.

“Am I the lady from the story?” Kara freezes, heart lodged in her throat as it attempts to beat right out of her body. She uses her x-ray vision to watch them, chewing on her lip as Eliza kneels in front of a timid Lena.

“Yes, honey.” Eliza is reluctant, her voice strained and tired. Kara’s chin trembles, her sight blurred by fresh tears as she listens to Eliza explain. The little one doesn’t question her, trusting every syllable that leaves her beloved Eliza’s mouth.

“Is that why you want me to leave? Do you not wa-.”

“No,” Eliza cuts her off, drawing Lena into her arms and holding her tight. “No, sweetheart. That’s not it. That’s not it at all. You and the lady mean so much to us, you’re one and the same.” Kara stifles a sob, ignoring the questioning looks from around her. “When you’re ready, you’ll still be our Lena. You’ll still be our family, I promise.”

“You’ll still love me?” Lena’s voice wavers, unsure, terrified of rejection.

“We will always love you, Lena." Eliza kisses her cheek. "We are your family and no matter what, you'll never be alone again. I can't promise you that everything will be okay, but I can promise we'll be right by your side."

Kara doesn't even realize she's sobbing until she finds herself safely tucked in Andrea's arms, her tears soaking into her shoulder. The pieces of her shattered heart seem to drift further apart, only held together by a string of hope. It's hard to admit it, even to herself, but Kara will be forever lost if her Lena doesn't return.

The Lena she is irrevocably in love with.

---- ---- ----

Kara stares mindlessly at the TV from her place by the window, arms folded across her chest. She can hear the numerous New Year’s Eve parties going on around them, but Kara can see no reason for her to celebrate. Her gaze drifts to Lena, sandwiched between Andrea and Eliza on the couch and animatedly talking about the cartoon on TV. She catches the others out of the corner of her eye, the small group gathered in the kitchen as they eat the food Andrea ordered.

Kara, though, has no appetite. Just the thought of eating, of pretending things are normal for even a second, causes acidic bile to rise in her throat. Her eyes flick back to the window, silently watching as drunken revellers move from bar to bar, drunk on excitement and booze. She’s jealous. Angry that everyone else gets to enjoy their celebrations whilst they’re stuck in a loop of misery.

Kara doesn’t blame the others when they leave, knowing there’s nothing anyone can do tonight. She’s not at all surprised when Andrea declines their offer of a ride home, well aware that she has a new houseguest until Lena returns, whether she likes it or not. The little one seems to be comforted by her presence, as though sensing the connection they had in the past.

Lena naps against Andrea intermittently, determined to stay up until Midnight. None of them have the heart to send her to bed, not after the trauma she’s been dealt today, and every other day. It's more than one person could ever deserve in one lifetime.

The little one lets out an adorable grunt as she shimmies off the couch, sleepily making her way towards Kara and leaning heavily against her thigh.

Green eyes shine as they stare down at the partying below them, Lena fascinated by the laugher and cheering. Her little fingers hook around the material of Kara’s sweatpants, her other hand leaving a clammy imprint on the window. She whines when Kara attempts to pick her up, grumpily claiming that she’s not tired. The little foot stomping against the floor disagrees, but Kara leaves her be.

Eliza joins them as it creeps closer to midnight, gesturing towards a sleeping Andrea with a tender smile. Eliza, it seems, has adopted another stray in need of a family. They gather around the window, Lena between them as she switches her attention to Eliza and wraps her arm around the older woman's leg.

The ball drops on the TV behind them, bright fireworks erupting around the skies of National City a few seconds later. Kara glances around the darkened room, her eyes lingering on Andrea as she sleeps on the sofa. Guilt bubbles within her as she easily makes out the dark circles beneath Andrea’s eyes, her broken promise sitting heavily in her chest.

“Let’s get you to bed, hmm?” Eliza scoops Lena into her arms, the little one yawning loudly as she finally gives in to her exhaustion. She seems entirely unmoved by the celebrations now, the whole thing a little anticlimactic to her young mind. Kara watches sadly as they disappear into her bedroom, curling her hands into fists and allowing her nails to painfully cut into her palms. Tears blur her gaze, threatening to fall even as she stubbornly wills them away.

Tears are no use. They won’t fix this, giving in to her raw emotions won’t bring Lena back, and Kara isn’t ready to give up. Not yet.

She slumps into the armchair, glaring at the muted TV and cursing the celebrations playing out on the screen. Kara stays there long after the bedroom falls silent and the late night infomercials start, eerily unmoving, statue-like, as she loses herself in her busy thoughts. Andrea stirs briefly, but only to turn over, and Kara is jealous of her ability to sleep.

Eliza moving around in the bedroom draws her attention, Kara frowning when she checks the time. She’d been so sure that Eliza had fallen asleep but, unable to sleep herself, Kara doesn’t think too much of it. It’s not until a loud, frantic heartbeat hits her ears that Kara reacts, springing to her feet.

She knows that heartbeat. Kara would recognize it anywhere, and she bursts across the room in a blur. There, in the doorway, is Lena. Their Lena, dressed haphazardly in Kara’s clothes and panicking as she stumbles from Kara’s bedroom. Lena freezes when she notices her and Kara can hear her pulse quicken.

Kara huffs out a sob, relieved tears streaming down her face as Lena stares back at her, humiliated and horrified. Emerald eyes dart around the room, Lena drowning in Kara’s much too big clothes, and tears streaming down her cheeks. Kara’s vaguely aware of the others stirring, and it seems to shock Lena into action.

“Just- just stay away from me,” Lena warns, eyes wild as she points at Kara with a trembling finger. She all but sprints from Kara’s apartment, the door slamming closed behind her. Kara’s knees buckle, giving out completely as she lands on the floor with a sickening thud. Eliza and Andrea are beside her, loud and panicked, but Kara can barely hear them.

All she focuses on is Lena’s erratic, pounding heart, tracking her all the way down the block.

Chapter Text

Lena slams her apartment door closed and leans heavily against it, breathing in short, sharp bursts that does nothing to appease her aching lungs. Panic grips her chest as she slides down the door, her knees tucked close to her body as she sniffles into them. Her mind seems to be at war with itself, new memories slamming into old ones and struggling to shift into place. Her brain feels muddled, like a jigsaw piece lodged somewhere it doesn’t belong.

A migraine settles behind her eyes, the early morning sun much too bright as it filters through the blinds. Standing up to close them is a monumental task for her exhausted mind and body, and Lena braces herself against the furniture as she walks. She feels like she’s been hit by a truck, not unsimilar to her worst hangover, but without the initial pleasure of indulgence.

Lena closes the blinds and hits the couch like a rock, tucking herself into a ball as fresh tears leak from her eyes. The new memories are jarring, confusing. It all happened just last night, but her mind pretends it was years ago, and Lena struggles to make any sense of it. Her childhood was awful. Lena knows that, she remembers that. When she was five years old she’d had her worst Christmas ever, and yet the details are gone from her mind, replaced by a new version. A happy version.

Hugs, presents, a trip to see Santa, it all fits inside her mind so perfectly, but it doesn’t belong there. Anger from her alcoholic father is replaced with candy canes sneakily gifted by Kara, the formal party the Luthors always hosted erased by a game night with hot chocolate and laughter. Her first happy Christmas, something she always craved , and yet Lena is mortified.

 The thought of her former best friend and her family taking care of her makes Lena never want to leave her apartment again. They all promised her that they’d love her forever, that she’d be their family no matter what, but Lena struggles to believe it. It’s easy to make those promises to a child, cute and innocent with no baggage dragging behind her.

She sniffles and wipes her nose on the back of her hand, forcing herself back to her feet. Everything in the apartment is how she left it, but it’s been cleaned recently. There’s a strong scent of pine in the air, not what the cleaning company she hires would usually use, and Lena realizes that it was most likely Eliza. It makes her heart pinch, and Lena leans heavily against her kitchen counter with her eyes squeezed closed.

Lena likes Eliza, everyone does, but the strong, almost overwhelming attachment she has to her is new. Her hand twitches with the urge to call her, to thank her for everything, to even just hear her voice, but Lena won’t do it. She can’t do it. Eliza could so easily have changed her mind, could have been lying to her little self to comfort her, and Lena can’t risk the rejection.

She’s holding on by a thread that’s already stretched thin, being turned away now would surely cause it to snap.

Lena sighs, slapping her hand against the counter and ignoring the ache it leaves in her palm. She grabs her untouched scotch and pours herself a generous measure. Lena takes a deep pull, draining the glass in one go before refilling it. It does nothing to numb the pain and confusion, but, then again, it rarely does these days.

She grabs the glass and heads out to her balcony, sullenly staring down at the people below. Lena’s jealous, bitterly so, as she watches them all live their lives, happy and laughing. She swallows thickly, her vision blurring with fresh tears as a young child passes down below, hand in hand with her parents and skipping along between them.

The scotch doesn’t even begin to take the edge off as Lena sips at it, forearms resting on the balcony wall as she clutches it in both hands. The pain she can handle, the embarrassment, too, but the longing is too much. The longing for a family that isn’t even hers, the aching need to rush straight back to Kara’s apartment, her heart pleading to back amongst them all - it’s too much.

“You seemed to prefer cookies and milk the last time I saw you.”

The sudden voice startles her, the glass slipping from her hands and free falling twenty floors to the ground. Mxy winces, leaning over the balcony to get a better look at the potential damage.

“Good news, you didn’t hurt anyone. Bad news, that looked like an expensive vintage. Oopsie,” Mxy pulls a face, hopping up to sit on the balcony wall. He tilts his head curiously, “you look sad.” Lena scoffs, but otherwise ignores the imp. She has nothing to say to him that isn’t an expletive, and Lena is in no mood for his antics.

She steps back inside, slamming the balcony doors closed behind her, and curses loudly when she finds Mxy suddenly perched on her coffee table. Lena sets her jaw, her nostrils flaring as she finds herself a new glass and fills it with scotch again. She can feel him watching her and it makes her skin crawl, itching with unease and a desire to be left well alone.

“I’m confused,” Mxy frowns. “Why aren’t you happy? You got exactly what you wished for, a happy memory of Christmas.” He steeples his fingers, peering up at Lena with an all too innocent expression. If he bats his eyelashes, Lena might just pour the scotch over his irritating head. “You were cute, too. A lot nicer than you are right now.”

“Why are you here?” Lena demands, slamming her glass down on the counter as she glares across at him. “Haven’t you done enough?!” Lena squeezes her eyes closed, praying that the one who caused all this damage would just leave her alone. “I didn’t ask for this,” she grinds out. “I didn’t make a wish. You tricked me into this.” Lena chokes on a sob, wet eyes popping open. “You made everything worse.”

“In my defense, this wasn’t the plan,” Mxy shrugs. “You weren’t supposed to turn into a teeny, tiny tot. You were supposed to be happy with Supergirl, as your normal self. I figured you’d give in at some point,” another shrug, “just accept your feelings for her.” It hits Lena square in the chest, threatening to dislodge her meticulously packed boxes.

“I don’t have feelings for Supergirl. She lied to me, treated me like everyone else did. We’re not even friends anymore.” Lena shakes her head, “she’s not who I thought she was, and there’s no unresolved feelings,” she states, her tone scathing. The lie makes her chest tighten, constricts her throat, but Lena washes it down with burning scotch.

“Supergirl is a big old dummy, but her feelings for you are very much real.” Mxy’s words cause her to freeze, her glass paused on its way to her lips. “She was very protective of you, borderline mean ,” he continues, “not as mean as your friend from boarding school, though. Boy, she is a delight.”

A bubble of laughter slips from Lena’s mouth before she can drag it backwards, images of Andrea threatening Mxy flooding her mind. Their rekindled friendship may still be raw, not entirely reformed, but Lena isn’t at all surprised by how quickly Andrea stepped up. She’d always been Lena’s bodyguard of sorts, someone who had her back no matter what. It’s why her betrayal had hurt so damn much.

“Are we going to pretend that you don’t feel the same way?” Mxy asks. Lena glares at him, and he placatingly holds his hands up. “Hey, no judgement, I just want to know how much I should lie right now.” Another glare, but this time watered down, has Mxy sighing. “I think everyone knows how you and she feel about each other. Hiding it seems a little pointless, don’t you think?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Lena whispers, staring down at her hands. “She betrayed me, I can’t trust her ever again.” She blinks back fresh tears, frustrated by her lack of control over her own emotions.

“I know, I know,” Mxy sighs. “She treated you differently when she put that ugly cape around her shoulders, even I called her out on that one.” He stands and moves across the room, reaching for the bottle of scotch and frowning when Lena slaps his hand away. “Rude.” Mxy sighs and rests his chin in his hands, elbows propped on the counter. 

“Perhaps she’s proven herself now, though?” Mxy questions. “It would have been so easy to just hand you off to the DEO, or to avoid you, and yet she took you to her apartment. Kara and her mother, who makes exceptional pancakes by the way, took care of you. I find it hard to believe that those are the actions of someone who doesn’t love you.”

“A five year old is easy to love,” Lena retorts, bitterly. She curls her fingers inwards, watching as her nails scrape across the countertop. 

“So why’d they work so hard to bring you back?” Mxy tilts his head again, an annoying habit that relentlessly pokes at Lena’s remaining nerve. “You were cute,” he shrugs. “Easy to love, as you said, and yet they wanted you back. Your mean friend and your super friend even worked as a team. Even I didn’t see that one coming. I mean, they were pretty useless, clearly , but they tried nonetheless.”

“Please stop.” Lena buries her face in her hands, her heart aching inside her chest. “Stop,” she whimpers. It’s too much. It’s too hard . A matter of hours ago she had everything she’d ever wanted. A family who loved her, who hugged her whenever she needed one, who smiled when they looked at her, who wanted her. Now what? Now, she’s alone in her apartment with a bottle of overpriced alcohol and a fifth dimensional imp who won’t leave her alone.

“You’re alone because you choose to be,” Mxy states, knowingly, as though reading her thoughts. There’s a whole bunch of people across town who want to be with you, one more than the others,

and you’ve decided to lock yourself in your apartment and mope. At this point, Lena, I have to ask, who are you trying to punish? Because, if it’s yourself, you’re doing a great job.”

Something inside of Lena snaps, her hand launching the glass across the room before she even realizes she’s picked it back up. Mxy pops safely out of sight, and she glares at the amber liquid seeping down her otherwise pristine wall. Lena sobs, her chest heaving as she squeezes her hands into fists. Anger fuels her, keeping her upright, stopping her from collapsing inwards on herself.

The knock at her apartment door has her gritting her teeth, Lena ready to physically fight Mxy if she has to. She storms across the apartment and rips the door open, instantly deflating as she finds Eliza waiting in the hallway. Her breath catches in her throat, a sudden lump stealing her ability to speak as Lena stares at the woman in front of her.

“I brought you some things,” Eliza murmurs, holding up a duffel bag that Lena knows belongs to Kara. “I thought maybe you could use some company, too.” Lena remains silent for a long moment, her gaze trained on the wall behind Eliza. She steps aside to allow her inside, her eyes finally tracking upwards.

One look into Eliza’s kind eyes and Lena has to force herself to take another step back, to stop herself from crashing into the woman’s arms. Fresh tears spring to her eyes, stinging the raw skin, and Lena is mortified to feel her bottom lip tremble. All she can think of is Eliza’s kindness, how she’d softly sing to her before bed each night, and how she’d hold Lena for as long as she needed her to.

Lena remembers trusting her first, easily recognizing that she would be safe with Eliza. There’d been a moment where Lena had been convinced Eliza would reject her, would pass her off to Kara or Andrea, but Eliza didn’t hesitate for a second.  She’d been there for Lena like Lillian should have been all those years ago, had helped her deal with the new surroundings with zero judgement.

Lena watches, frozen - dumbstruck, as Eliza closes the door behind her. The woman studies her, softly clicking her tongue when she catches sight of the broken glass. Eliza instantly ushers Lena towards the couch and sets about cleaning the mess, ignoring the soft protests from Lena. The Danvers matriarch isn’t interested in help, nor in apologies - Lena has nothing to apologise for, and she hums a gentle tune to herself as she tips the broken glass into the trash.

From her place on the couch, Lena is nervous, her eyes wet and wary as she watches Eliza move around her apartment, preparing the teapot and heating something in the microwave that she must have brought with her.

“The others have been trying to call you,” Eliza finally speaks, glancing across at Lena in concern. “When you didn’t answer I was hoping you’d be sleeping, but I guess rest isn’t coming all too easily, hmm?” Lena shakes her head, unsure of what to say as she stares down at her wringing hands. “That’s alright, perhaps some food will help.”

“Please don’t ask me to speak to Kara,” Lena blurts out, her cheeks immediately pinkening. “I will, but just… not yet. I’m not ready to see her. I understand why she hid her identity, kinda, but then I remember how she treated me as Supergirl and it crushes me all over again.” Lena drops her head, willing away tears that relentlessly threaten to fall.

Eliza’s arms are around her before Lena can even register the movement, strong and warm, offering a comfort that Lena will only accept from her for now. Her desire to be left alone seems to seep from her, replaced by an overwhelming urge to please the older woman. To allow Eliza to take care of her, to just simply be.

“I’m here for you , Lena,” Eliza murmurs, her lips finding Lena’s temple. “I meant what I said to you before, you’re my family and I love you.” Eliza’s finger tilts Lena’s chin upwards, warm blue eyes gazing deeply into Lena’s, as though forcing the love and acceptance into Lena’s mind. “I’m not here to force you into anything, I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

Eliza reaches into the duffel back and pulls Miss Pizzly out. It’s ridiculous, Lena thinks, how quickly she snatches the stuffed bear into her arms, holding it close to her chest as she buries her face in the soft fur.

Lena leans into Eliza’s side, allowing herself to be held, comforted, accepted for who she is. There’s no expectations, no demands on her time, just love. A love that Lena has prayed for since she was a little girl, a love that she deserves, a love that she finally has.

Chapter Text

Lena isn’t sure how long she slept for, only having a vague memory of being helped into bed by Eliza. It’s dark outside, she notices, and Lena sighs as she realizes she’s slept the whole day. She blinks heavily, blindly reaching out to the lamp and wincing when it brightly lights up her bedroom. Miss Pizzly remains tucked up to her side, and Lena is torn between feeling comforted and mortified at the same time.

She’s a grown woman for God’s sake, she shouldn’t need a stuffed animal. Yet, Lena can’t quite bring herself to shove it off the bed. She stares at it, the memory of buying it so vivid in her mind. Lena can remember how it felt in her little hands, how she gripped it so tightly out of fear that someone may take it away from her. She remembers the fear dissipating around the people who were strangers at the time, replaced by the warmth of acceptance.

They wanted her to be happy. They’d bought the bear purely because Lena had wanted it, there was no bargaining, no arguments, just a happy moment that’s now embedded in the muddled memories of her childhood.

Lena strokes the soft fur, staring down at the gift with watery eyes. She’d been so easy to please, a little love and attention was all that was required, and Lena can’t understand why she needed a re-do to receive that. She’d been right there in front of Lillian, so eager to please, so desperate to be loved. A simple hug every now and then would have changed her whole childhood, and yet even that had been too much to ask for.

She tucks Miss Pizzly into her arms as she slides her legs over the edge of the bed, still groggy as she makes her way out to the living room. Lena smiles softly when she finds Eliza on the couch, quietly reading in the lamplight and seemingly waiting for her. The smile is returned, warm and tender, gentle blue eyes almost relieved to see the dishevelled young woman.

“You must have been exhausted,” Eliza murmurs, setting the book aside as she stands from the couch. There’s no judgement, no sarcastic comments about sleeping the whole day away. “There’s some takeout in the microwave if you’re hungry,” she adds. Lena glances towards the kitchen, but doesn’t move, her throat jerking with a nervous swallow.

“Maybe once I’m more awake,” Lena states, her voice wavering. Eliza smiles at her, gentle and sad, and she stands to take Lena into her arms, Miss Pizzly squashed between them. Lena doesn’t even realize she’s crying until the hiccups take over, mortified by the way her body jolts with each one. Eliza holds her until the hiccups stop, her thumbs wiping away each stray tear that leaks from Lena’s eyes.

“I think, perhaps, we should find you someone to talk to,” Eliza murmurs. “A professional,” she clarifies. “You’ve been holding on to so much pain, honey. I think it still eats away at you.” Eliza pulls back, attempting to smooth Lena’s bed head. “If it’s something you’d like to try, Kelly can recommend someone, but there’s no pressure. The decision is yours, and yours alone and I’ll fully support whatever you decide.

Eliza holds her at arms length, gently rubbing her shoulders. Lena sucks her lips inwards, squeezing her eyes closed as she wills away fresh tears. She nods, reluctantly agreeing to seek the help she’s needed for so long.

“I think — I think that’s a good idea,” Lena whispers. “It’s just… a lot. This last week feels like years ago, and it feels like it doesn’t belong there, but I want it to. I want that to be my past because the alternative makes it hard to breathe. It always has.” Lena drops her head, brows deeply furrowed. “Thank you for everything you did for me. I won’t ever forget that.”

“Honey,” Eliza gently tips Lena’s chin upwards with one finger, “that’s what families do. I’ve got your back, Lena. We all do.”

“You’re gonna make me cry again,” Lena grumbles, swiping at her cheeks. Eliza chuckles, drawing Lena inwards for another hug. The arms around her are fierce, tight, yet so gentle, as though Lena is made of glass and may shatter at any moment. But Lena is strong, though, the bulletproof kind of glass. Lena may splinter, she may falter, but she will never break.

“When you’re ready, we will get in touch with Kelly,” Eliza murmurs. “You just let me know when that is.” The we is not lost on Lena, and it wraps around her heart with the warmth of several suns. The thought of never being alone again, of having people around who want to be there, is overwhelming. She’s exhausted, the feelings, new and old, far too much for her to deal with right now, but going back to sleep makes Lena feel like she’d be missing out on something.

“Why don’t you get comfortable on the couch whilst I run to the store,” Eliza suggests. “Then we’ll have some of that chinese food when I get back.”

“You don’t have to —”

“I know,” Eliza cuts her off, smiling kindly. “You’re more than capable of restocking your fridge all by yourself, but you need to rest, and it’s driving me crazy to see the utter lack of food in this apartment.” Lena blushes, the light scold barely even noticeable, but hitting its mark all the same. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”

Eliza leans forward to tenderly kiss Lena’s forehead, chuckling softly as she notices her blush spreading to the very tips of her ears. Kara was very much the same when she first joined their family. Lena watches her leave, her chest tightening with a familiar fear, wondering if Eliza will truly come back. She sighs, attempting to ignore the deeply ingrained habit of thinking the worst.

Eliza already did come back for her, and she stayed when she didn’t have to. It’s not the same as when she was a five year old in her care, there’s no requirement, no necessity , to take care of her. Eliza chose to come here, to help her, to ensure Lena knew she was loved. That Lena can believe, at the very least.

She grabs the nearest blanket and cocoons herself inside it, soft fleece tickling her chin as she sits on the couch and snuggles into the cushions. The TV is still on, replaying a minor emergency that Supergirl dealt with whilst Lena slept. Lena’s eyes burn with more unshed tears, her bottom lip trembling as she watches Kara joke around with the news reporter, not missing the fact that Kara’s smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes.

The only thing capable of dragging Lena’s eyes from the screen is the knock at the apartment door. Lena frowns, wondering why Eliza would be back so soon and debating whether or not she should just give the older woman a key. She still has the one she made Kara give back to her all those months ago, after all. 

One look through the peephole is enough to send Lena’s heart hurtling into her throat. It’s Andrea, and she’s staring straight into the hole with a knowing look. Out of everyone Lena knows, her childhood friend is the most stubborn of them all, and any attempt to send her away would be pointless. Lena winces and swings the door open, leaning against the frame in a weak attempt to block Andrea from entering.

Andrea either doesn’t notice Lena’s reluctance to invite her inside, or she simply chooses to ignore it as she pushes past her in the doorway. It’s most likely the latter, Lena realizes, and she rolls her eyes. Andrea makes herself at home, settling in the space on the couch that Lena had been sitting and crossing one leg over the other. She eyes Lena critically, her lips pushed into a thin line.

“One day you’re giving someone a bath, and the next they won’t even answer your calls,” Andrea remarks, dry and unimpressed. Lena blushes, her cheeks warmer than a dragon's breath as she refuses to even meet Andrea’s gaze. She perches on the opposite end of the couch, keeping as much space between them as she possibly can whilst staring down at her fidgeting fingers.

“Kara told me Eliza came over here, so I at least know you’ve been eating and resting,” Andrea states. “Which is good to know, but I’d rather have heard it from you.” Andrea sighs, and Lena can feel her eyes boring into the side of her head. 

There’s a part of her that’s relieved she wasn’t left alone with her own thoughts for too long, but there’s another part, much larger, which has no idea of how to act or what to say. She remembers very clearly how involved Andrea was, how she even fought Kara in the beginning, convinced that she should be the one to take care of her.

“Have you at least talked to Sam?” Andrea tries.

“Yeah,” Lena murmurs. “I emailed her to let her know I’m going back to L-Corp tomorrow.” Andrea’s brows spring upwards and she clenches her jaw, her eyes narrowing as she studies Lena carefully.

“Do you think you’re ready for that?” Andrea asks, bluntly. “It’s been 24 hours since you put your shoes on the wrong feet and needed my help to tie them, don’t you think you need a little more time?” Lena’s cheeks redden further and emerald eyes dart around the apartment, a response trapped behind the lump in her throat that she just can’t swallow down.

Andrea sighs and scoots closer, Lena surprising even herself when she allows Andrea’s arm to wrap around her shoulders. She leans heavily against her, Lena’s head tucked beneath Andrea’s chin.

"That imp isn't around here is he?" Andrea asks, warily checking the darkened corners of Lena's apartment, as though expecting Mxy to jump out on them. Lena lets out a puff of amusement, a small smile tugging at one corner of her mouth.

"I made it clear that he wasn't welcome," Lena murmurs. "He had a lot to say."

"I think we all do," Andrea notes. She sighs, "I wish I hadn't made you feel like you couldn't come to me. It's my own fault, I know, but I would have been there every Christmas. I will be here from now on."

"Wish isn't the best word to use right now. I don't think I have the energy to relive another part of my life,” Lena jokes, weakly. Andrea chuckles, humming in agreement.

“Yeah, you’re right.” She tolds Lena a little tighter, swallowing thickly. “I — I hope,” Andrea hesitates, frowning, “out of everything that happened, I hope you felt how loved you are. You deserve that, Lena. You deserve to feel that, and be treated with kindness. I hate the thought of you ever being alone, and I promise you that’s never gonna happen again.”

“I know. I just — I do know that in my heart, but it’s gonna take my mind a while to catch up, I think.” Lena blows out a shaky breath, “the doubts are always there. They kinda pounce when I least expect it.” Her eyes drift upwards just in time to catch Kara on TV again, the hero shooting into the sky to roaring applause. “I don’t know what to do about… that.”

“The big question is, do you want to do anything? There’s no rush, Lena. Kara just wants what’s best for you like we all do, she’s not going to pressure you. Hell, she’s too scared to even come over here,” Andrea states, pulling back so she can look Lena in the eye.

“She is?” Lena sounds timid, small, unsure of what she should even say — what she should even do.

“She’s flown by here a million times, of course. If it were anyone else, I’d find it pretty creepy that they were checking out your heartbeat so much.” Andrea sighs heavily, the exhaustion of the last week showing on her pretty features. “You just do whatever you want, whenever you choose.”

“It’s not that easy,” Lena murmurs.

“The important stuff never is.” Andrea stands with a groan, “I can smell food and Eliza keeps telling me to eat, so I hope you don’t mind.” Lena shakes her head, eyes shining with amusement as she gestures for Andrea to help herself. 

She watches Andrea move around her kitchen in silence, her mind working overtime as Lena attempts to work out a problem that’s been lingering since she first met Kara. If her feelings are truly reciprocated, then it should be easy for her to just go to Kara and tell her everything, confess that she’s been in love with her for years, no matter how much Lena has tried to tell herself that isn’t true.

Whether she wants to be or not, though, Lena can no longer lie to herself. She’s completely, and utterly, in love with her best friend. The one who lied to her for years, who had her back whilst pressing a knife into it at the same time, even if Kara truly didn’t mean for that to happen. All Lena knows is she can’t go on like this. 

“I have pictures, just so you know.” Lena’s head whips upwards, a scowl darkening her features when she spots Andrea’s shit-eating grin. “Once you get over your embarrassment, which is unnecessary by the way, we should pick a couple out to frame.” Lena waits for more teasing, but nothing comes. “What’s the point in having better memories if you’re not going to enjoy them?”

Lena wants to flip her off, to curse at her, or something , but the earnestness in Andrea’s eyes gives her pause.

“Look, as terrifying as I’m sure it was, you were given a second chance, Lena,” Andrea shrugs. “You should embrace that. The imp still deserves a swift kick to the crotch, but he accidentally gave you something you never really have. You should hold onto it.”

Lena drops her gaze with a sigh, leaning forward with her elbows resting on her knees. Annoyingly, Andrea’s right and they’re both well aware of it. It was a gift she didn’t ask for and despite the fallout that followed, Lena doesn’t want to return it. Not in a million years.

---- ---- ---- 

Her office, with it’s high ceilings and wide windows, somehow feels stifling and Lena immediately feels caged in. She’d been dying to return to work, to force things into returning to normal, but it’s suddenly the last place Lena wants to be. Sam had ensured she didn’t have a mountain of work to return to, had run the company too well from Metropolis, leaving Lena with very little work to bury herself in.

Everyone else will be pleased, Lena knows, that she can’t overwork herself until she’s ready to drop, but she needs a distraction. She needs to not think about Kara, to not focus on the overwhelming feelings that will no longer stay tightly packed away in their boxes. The shadow that is suddenly cast across her desk dissolves any ideas that Lena may have had about that, though.

She meets Kara’s gaze through the window, a lump forming in her throat and a tremor in her hands forcing Lena to put her briefcase down. Lena stands there, almost frozen, as her heart screams at her to let Kara in. To listen to her, to at least try to understand why Kara didn’t tell her.

Kara looks hesitant, nervous, a strange look for someone wearing a cape and hovering over twenty floors from the ground below. Lena feels her heart squeeze inside her chest, skipping a beat as she stares at the woman who seems so unwilling to land on her balcony without permission. Lena sucks in a deep breath and takes a hesitant step forward, her hand braced on the doorframe as she shoots Kara an almost imperceptible nod.

It’s odd, unnerving, Lena thinks, to catch the way Kara seems to almost deflate with her relief. Kara has saved the world more times than Lena can count, has fought in many battles that one person has no right to succeed in, and yet Lena has never seen her look so worried. It’s as though the fear of rejection was the only thing keeping Kara in the air.

She lands heavily, wincing against the echoing thump. Her hands grab at each other, fingers twining and untwining as the superhero awkwardly shifts on her feet. Lena would find it adorable if she weren’t so damn uncomfortable.

“Thank you,” Kara murmurs, blue eyes shyly trained on her own boots. “I’ve been meaning to visit, but I didn’t think you’d want to see me,” she admits. Nervous eyes finally track upwards, meeting intense green as she seems to silently plead with Lena.

“I didn’t,” Lena whispers, hating the agony that flashes across Kara’s features. “Not at first,” she quickly amends, cursing herself. “Why did you take care of me?” Lena has to ask — she has to know. “You took me to your home . You could have dumped me with anyone else and still given me the chance of a happy Christmas.” 

“Lena…” Kara frowns, hurt and surprised at the same time. “I would never just pawn you off on someone. We wanted to take care of you. You’re our family, and that’s what family does. Besides, it was hilarious when you kept kicking Alex.” Kara opts for an attempt at humour, desperately hoping to ease the awkward tension between them.

Lena blushes furiously, suddenly unable to hold eye contact, embarrassed by the memory. She’s unaware of Kara moving forward until she’s suddenly in front of her, Kara’s hand momentarily hovering between them before it’s snatched back.

“Lillian,” Kara murmurs, bringing a confused scowl to Lena’s face. “She’s what made it impossible to tell you I was Supergirl,” Kara clarifies. “I wanted to tell you so many times, and I came close to it more than once, but all I could hear was Lillian.” Kara’s voice cracks painfully, and she drops her head to hide the tears glistening in her eyes. “She was at the back of my mind,” she whispers. “I just heard her voice telling me again, and again, that you’d hate me for it. I couldn’t lose you, Lena. It’s selfish, I know, but I just couldn’t.”

Kara blows out a shaky breath, lifting her gaze to meet surprisingly soft green.

“After Kaznia, I was gonna tell you. We were on your plane and I was ready to do it, and then you kept talking about how I was the only person you could trust.” Kara sniffles, swiping at the stray tear that tickles her nose. “It took me so long to work up the courage again, and by that time you already knew. I’m so sorry that I didn’t tell you, and I’m sorry that I treated you differently as Supergirl.”

She gazes into Lena’s eyes, encouraged by the way Lena stands stock still and allows her to say her piece. It’s more progress than Lena has allowed in a long time, and Kara’s chest swells with hope.

“I get scared, too,” Kara murmurs. “It doesn’t make sense. I get scared when I fight against the attacks, but I still do it. I can still force myself to step into battle and get it done, but when it comes to you , it was too much.” Tears flow freely now, salty tracks of regret dripping from her chin. “Losing you scared me more than any of that. I —”

“I know,” Lena whispers, her voice thick as she forces it around the lump in her throat. “I get it, I do,” she nods. She sucks her lips inwards, tears shining in her eyes as they dart around the balcony. “It hurt. It hurt so much, but I get it.” Lena swallows, “I know better than anyone how easy it is to be sucked in by Lillian. She’s used my mind as a summer home since I was four years old,” she jokes, weakly.

Lena hesitates, her chin trembling as her emotions threaten to consume her.

“You did more for me in a week than Lillian has in over twenty years,” she whispers. “Lillian provided food and clothes, a place to live, but she never did… that. She never treated me like I belonged, like she loved me or wanted me, and you all did.” Her features crumple, Lena’s arms wrapping around herself.

“That’s because we do love you, Lena. I love you. So, so much.” Kara takes a deep breath, her chest heaving. “I think — I think I love you more than I should.”

Lena freezes, her heart suddenly hammering erratically. A tear slips from her eyes, tracking down her cheek until Kara reaches out to catch it with her thumb. Blue meets green, electrifying, blanketed in fear, but the hope still peeks through. Lena swallows, her throat bobbing, and she takes a step forward to close the already minute gap between them.

“What — what do you mean by that?” Lena already knows, she’s already convinced that Kara is meaning what she so badly wants her to mean, but she has to be sure. She has to hear it, has to hear those words from those lips. Kara cups Lena’s face in her hands, her touch achingly gentle as her thumbs stroke the soft skin.

“I love you, Lena. I’m in love with you.”

Chapter Text

“You — you’re in love with me?” Lena’s voice wavers, buckling under the weight of her hope. Her breath catches in her throat, lodged there, as though fearful that the minute movement of her chest rising would ruin the moment. Lena waits, frozen, her entire being silently pleading for this to be real, to not be some kind of warped trick. She thinks it would blow her heart to pieces, the fragments spread too far to ever become whole again.

“I am,” Kara nods. “I think I have been for a long time, but it seemed unfair to admit it, even to myself.” Kara swallows, her throat bobbing. “I — If I couldn’t be honest with you about who I was, then I couldn’t expect you to love me back. Not the whole me, the real me, but I think — I think you do love me back.”

It hangs in the air between them — a spark, a flame that smolders and smokes, that pleads to be nurtured amidst the threat of being snuffed out entirely.

In truth, Lena thinks she’s loved Kara for as long as she’s known her. She doesn’t think it was the numerous times Kara saved her life, or perhaps even the positive articles she wrote about her, but their lunch dates. The random ones, when Kara would just appear one day with her arms loaded with food, murmuring disapprovingly about Lena working herself to death.

They’d sit in her office, eating and talking, just allowing the world to go on without them for an hour or so. Lena didn’t really notice it at the time, perhaps blinded by the kind smiles and attention, but Kara’s excuses to leave were always flimsy. There was always a poor reason for her abrupt exits, and Lena knows now it was always due to a Supergirl emergency.

It’s something she grew to resent after finding out the truth about Kara, but perhaps Lena isn’t looking at the full picture. Kara’s lies, and poor excuses, were needed for one important reason. She needed to leave in the first place because she was there . Kara was spending what little free time she had with her . If she didn’t truly care then the lunches would never have happened, and Lena would never have known about how often Kara had to rush off.

When Kara steps forward again, close enough for Lena to feel her breath on her cheek, it’s like the world stops. Lena’s tongue darts out to wet her impossibly dry lips, and she doesn’t miss the way Kara’s eyes briefly dart down to them.

It shouldn’t be this easy. It can't be this easy. Nothing in Lena’s life up to now had even hinted at something this wonderful, this special, happening to her. She’s always been a Luthor, a pariah, someone people would normally make friends with purely to gain something. Her real friendships are few and far between — Andrea, Sam, Kara, and the friendships she made through extension.

No-one else ever seemed to have the patience, the genuine desire, to actually get to know the person behind the carefully built wall. Lena was always Lex Luthor’s younger sister, someone to be wary of, to stay clear of. She’d learned a long time ago to never expect the kindness that others are shown, to always be the outsider looking in, her breath fogging up at the glass as others went out and grabbed the lives they wanted.

So, no, it shouldn’t be this easy, but when Kara’s soft lips capture her own, Lena doesn’t have the desire to push her away. She melts into it, their bodies moulding together in a way that soothes Lena and gives her strength at the same time. The air around them seems to crackle and block out everything else, Lena only able to focus on warm lips and the gentle hands around her waist. 

She expects Kara to jump back as soon as it ends, and Lena braces herself for the pain of realization and rejection. What she doesn’t expect is for Kara’s forehead to rest against her own, blue eyes staring so deeply into green that Lena is convinced Kara is gazing right into her soul. It’s surreal, unexpected, and she’s too scared to even breath in case it shocks Kara out of her trance.

“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time,” Kara murmurs, timid and pleading. It seems, Lena realizes, that Kara is just as terrified as she is. Fearful of the rejection that she’s already had to face several times since Lena found out her true identity, unable to truly imagine being able to survive another one.

“No more lies, Kara,” Lena whispers. “All in, or not at all. If you can’t have me in the inner circle, then leave, because I can’t be on the outside anymore. I can’t keep looking in, Kara. I think it would break my heart if things stayed the same.”

“It won’t,” Kara states, firm. “I promise you it won’t. I’m all in, too. You’ll know everything, Lena. No more secrets, I don’t want to hide from you anymore.” She sighs softly, her arms tightening around Lena as she pulls her closer. A smile plays on her lips when Lena rests her head against her shoulder, not missing the deep, relieved exhale that tickles her neck. “We’ll go slow, okay? There’s no rush and no expectations — not from me.”

“I don’t know,” Lena huffs out her amusement, “I think Andrea is ready to knock our heads together at this point.”

“Don’t worry, I think I can take her.” Kara sweetly pecks Lena’s temple, “come to my place on Friday for game night. The others are dying to see you, but they didn’t want to intrude. Please?” Kara sounds so small, so desperate, that Lena can’t find it in her heart to say no. “We won’t talk about it unless you want to. We just want to spend some time with you, and even Andrea has somehow been targeted in Eliza’s sights.”

“Your Mom seems determined to single handedly save all of the strays in National City,” Lena notes, but with no malice in her tone. “I don’t know where she finds the energy to do so.” 

“She just has a lot of love to give,” Kara chuckles. “She always has, and she’s like a dog with a bone once she finds someone to give it to, so you should probably get used to that. You should get used to all of us. You’re ours now, Lena, and we’re gonna look out for you whether you like it or not.”

Kara winces at the shrill beeping in her ears, her eyes slipping closed as she huffs out her frustration. Her arms loosen around Lena and she pulls back, her hands still lingering on her hips.

“There’s an emergency,” Lena mumbles, resigned.

“I’m sorry, I —”

“It’s okay,” Lena gently interrupts. “It’s alright, Kara. I understand.” Her hand shakily reaches out to cup Kara’s cheek, her thumb softly stroking the soft skin. “We have all the time in the world to talk about it. We’ll get there,” she murmurs. “Go save the day, Supergirl.” Lena doesn’t miss the way Kara lights up, her smile brighter than the sun that powers her. 

Kara lingers for only a second more, blue eyes shining as she finally jets herself into the sky. Lena watches her go, hair fluttering in the breeze left in Kara’s wake. Watery eyes track the red and blue figure across the skies until Kara is out of sight, Lena’s heart pounding against her ribs as she tightly grips to the balcony wall.

When she closes her eyes, Lena can still feel Kara’s hands around her waist and her lips gently brushing hers. It’s as though her body is reassuring her that Kara will be fine, that she’ll come back to her — that she always will.

She sighs, pushing away from the wall and forcing herself to step back into her office. Her eyes flit towards the decanter of scotch, but Lena purses her lips and shakes her head. She doesn’t need it. Constantly searching for the bottom of a bottle was her father’s life, it’s not going to be hers. 

Lena already has the love her father was searching for.

---- ---- ---- 

Her plans to throw herself into work are thwarted by her newfound family, and Lena can’t even bring herself to be irritated by it. Her heart swells whenever her phone rings, or her secretary announces a lunchtime visitor, and it pounds erratically whenever she hears the tell-tale thump of boots landing on her balcony.

They’re careful, though, unwilling to overwhelm her. Visits and calls are saved for Lunch breaks and late dinners when Lena eventually takes her work home with her. Most of them check in with her beforehand, with only Eliza and Kara feeling comfortable enough with just dropping by. Even Andrea, who has never in her life once considered that Lena might be busy, texts beforehand, albeit usually whilst she’s already on her way over.

It’s strange, really. Lena always thought she would find Kara’s close knit family to be smothering, to be overwhelming and too much entirely, but she feels herself thriving beneath the attention. There’s even a part of her that worries it won’t last, that the novelty will wear off, but Kara had laughed when Lena mentioned it, and even offered a semi-sarcastic good luck .

It’s why now, standing outside of Kara’s apartment building, Lena doesn’t understand the sudden rush of anxiety that tickles the hair on the nape of her neck. She longs to step inside, to ride the elevator and see the people waiting for her, but there’s a nagging at the back of her brain that gives her pause.

She’s not that five year old anymore. She’s not the cute child who struggled to tie her shoelaces and believed in Santa. She’s a twenty seven year woman with enough baggage to sink even the strongest ship. That’s not cute — not lovable. What happens when she goes up there and they remember her months of silence? When they can’t stop thinking about how Lena cut them off after learning the truth about Kara?

“Lena!” She frowns at the exasperated yell from above, wincing against the low sun as she searches for the owner. It’s Nia, hanging out of Kara’s open window whilst an irritated Alex grasps the back of her shirt. “Would you move your ass please?” Nia calls down, frowning as she glances behind her. “What? I said please.” Lena blushes when Nia looks back down at her, feeling like a complete idiot for just hanging around on the sidewalk.

“I’ll be right there,” Lena yells back, waving her hand. She’s left with no choice but to just go up there, and perhaps that’s for the best. As she steps inside the building, Lena runs out of time to overthink it, to let her mind run wild with unlikely possibilities.

Lena checks her appearance in the mirrored elevator, her hand trembling as she pushes her hair behind her ears. It’s unnecessary, ridiculous even, to be so nervous. These people have seen Lena at her absolute worst, and they still want her to be there. It’s something Lena will have to keep reminding herself until it sticks, which might be a while, but she has a feeling they'll give her all the time she needs.

When she steps out of the elevator, Lena finds Andrea hanging around in the hallway outside Kara’s apartment. Andrea pretends to be doing something on her phone, but Lena knows better. Lena knows because it’s something she used to do in boarding school — wait outside the cool kid’s secret party until Andrea got there, someone who would have her back.

“Hey,” Andrea awkwardly clears her throat, the act of nonchalance failing to hit its mark. “I was just finishing up and…” she trails off, a blush coloring her cheeks. “Eliza told me she’s leaving tomorrow and I just — I don’t want to talk about it,” Andrea mumbles. Lena takes pity on her, and doesn’t remind her that Kara’s super hearing means she’s known that Andrea has been there all along.

“I know it's pretty overwhelming, but she’ll be back soon,” Lena notes, her features scrunching sympathetically. “I think I’ll struggle with her not being here in person, too.” Andrea doesn’t respond, merely shrugs and pretends it doesn’t bother her. “We don’t have to go in yet if you need a minute,” she offers. Andrea meets her gaze for a long moment, her cheeks puffed out as she holds her breath, and Lena wonders if she’ll even go inside at all.

“Nah,” Andrea says after a moment, blowing out the stream of air. “You jump, I jump, right?”

“Right,” Lena nods, “always.” She reaches out to grasp Andrea’s hand in hers, squeezing reassuringly as she knocks on the apartment door. It’s Nia who lets them in, the younger woman thrilled to see Lena and even somewhat happy to see her boss with her.

“I’m with Lena!” Nia calls out, to no-one in particular, as she leads them inside. 

“No you’re not.” Kara steps out of the kitchen area, her eyes shining as they land on Lena. “Lena’s on my team. My house, my rules.” Kara sticks her tongue out at Nia and gently grasps Lena’s hand, pulling her away from Andrea and towards the couch. “She already has Brainy,” Kara murmurs conspiratorially, “she’s not getting you , too.”

Lena blushes profusely, unable to even make eye contact with anyone else as she gazes down at the hand wrapped around hers. Even seated, Kara doesn’t let go, and Lena doesn’t want her to. The touch keeps her grounded, makes it easier for Lena to deal with all of the attention from those around her. 

She feels a little bad for Andrea, though, but Eliza claims her for her team and doesn’t seem to be taking no for an answer. It’s so odd to be back here for another games night, this time as a grown woman — baggage and all, and tears sting at the corners of Lena’s eyes. It’s so simple. It's just a Friday night with a fun group of people, playing games and eating too much food, and yet it’s so much more.

It’s acceptance. It’s love. It’s being part of a family. It’s… everything Lena has ever wanted. People smile at her when she walks in the room, they offer her food when they’re going to the kitchen, they’re interested in what she has to say. It’s new, and it’s overwhelming, and she can see it mirrored in Andrea’s eyes whenever she looks over at her.

“You should go talk to her,” Kara murmurs into her ear. “She looks a little lost over there, and I think you’re the person she most needs right now.” Lena turns to look at her, surprised by how small the gap between them is. “I’ll keep your space warm,” Kara adds, a small smile curling her lips upwards as baby blue eyes dart down to Lena’s lips.

For a long moment, Lena is convinced that Kara is going to kiss her again, but the moment is shattered by a loud yell from an overexcited Nia. Lena smiles wryly, apologizing with her eyes as she pushes herself to her feet. She catches Andrea’s gaze and gestures towards the kitchen, surprised by how quickly Andrea jumps up to follow her.

It’s only been a couple of hours, but Lena isn’t surprised when Andrea tells her she’s almost ready to call it a night.

“Are you alright?” Lena asks. “I can go with you if you’d like?” Andrea’s smile is warm, touched by the offer, but she shakes her head.

“I’ve had a nice night, but it’s a lot,” Andrea murmurs. “I’m not really used to all of this, you know?” Lena smiles sadly, indeed knowing exactly what her friend means. For so long it was just the two of them against the world and everyone in it, and whilst Lena eventually found a new circle after their falling out, Andrea never seemed to.

“How about we have lunch tomorrow then?” Lena asks. “I can bring some overly expensive sushi to Catco and you can complain about your employees,” she teases. It works, bringing a smile to Andrea’s features.

“Are you sure you don’t just need an excuse to see Kara?” She’s gloating now, never a person to hide how much she enjoys being right about something. “I knew there was something there, I just figured you guys were aware of it, too.” Lena pulls a face, well aware of Kara, and her super hearing, just across the apartment from them.

“I — I don’t think I need an excuse anymore,” Lena admits. She nibbles on her bottom lip, glancing across at Kara as she battles Nia in a game that Lena hasn’t even seen before, never mind played. “We’re taking it slow,” she adds. “There’s no rush and there’s still some things to work out, but we’re getting there.”

“Good.” Andrea places her hand on Lena’s forearm, smiling gently. “I’m really happy for you, Lena. I mean it, you deserve this and Kara is…. Well, she’s a pain in my ass, but she’s a good person. They all are. I'm glad you have this support system around you, Lena."

"You do, too, you know." Eliza sidles up to them, concerned by the women hiding in the kitchen and whispering together. "You were here when it mattered, and that's the ticket into our family. One way trip, I'm afraid," Eliza smiles. Andrea drops her head, embarrassed, focusing on ordering herself an Uber instead of embracing the attention. 

"Hey," Lena frowns, lightly kicking Andrea. "You always yell at me for moping." She raises a brow, unsurprised by the challenging stare sent in her direction. 

" Nobody should be moping," Eliza murmurs. "Anyone would think you girls were happier closing yourself off to everyone,” she sighs. “I tell you what, if you stay in touch and look after yourself, I won’t bug you so much,” she says, stern eyes fixed on Andrea. “But only if you stop building that wall around you. We’re planning a weekly skype chat, you’re free on Sundays?”

Lena stifles a grin as she watches Andrea stutter and stumble over her words, thrilled beyond belief that there’s finally someone around that won’t hesitate to call her out. The blush that bleeds across Andrea’s features is a delightful added bonus, and Lena doesn’t bother to hide her amusement this time. Eliza may be kind and gentle, but she sure seems more stubborn than she and Andrea put together.

“I don’t care how much money you have, it can’t replace human contact,” Eliza continues. “I’ll be expecting to see you on the call, or on a private one beforehand. It’s your choice.” Eliza glances down at the alert on Andrea’s phone, sighing softly. “Alright, if you don’t leave now your cab is going to leave without you.” She steps forward and draws Andrea into her arms, “I mean it. Keep in touch or I’ll fly back out here much sooner than planned.” It’s honestly not much of a threat, but Andrea gives Eliza the meek nod she’s looking for.

“Got it,” Andrea murmurs, contrite. “I’ll speak to you soon.” Eliza pulls back and holds her at arm's length, scrutinizing her with a look that only a mother can bear. “I promise,” Andrea adds, attempting to appease the woman who would most definitely fly back just to scold her. Eliza softens, her eyes crinkling as she smiles at Andrea.

“Good, and perhaps bring back the free donuts at Catco? I think it broke Nia’s heart when she had to start taking her own snacks to work.”

“I can do that,” Andrea chuckles, rolling her eyes when she hears Nia cheer from somewhere behind them. Little eavesdropper. She glances towards Lena, “walk me out?”

Andrea is uncharacteristically quiet as they head downstairs and Lena watches as her jaw works furiously, and her eyes blink more than usual. She knows Andrea is struggling, so unused to having a mother figure to look out for her. Lena gets it, of course she does, but it's different. Andrea didn't get the opportunity to experience it as full on as she did, and Lena starts to realize that it truly was a gift.

An unwanted gift, one that was forced on Lena without her consent, but a gift all the same.

"She's right, you know," Lena eventually murmurs. "Eliza, I mean. You do deserve all of this." Andrea laughs wetly, leaning against the elevator wall.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to it," she admits. "It's just so….. strange. Everything about this has been, and I can barely wrap my head around it." Andrea pauses, rolling her eyes. "Look who I'm talking to," she sighs. "You know better than anyone how crazy this has been." She steps out of the elevator and heads to the main exit, pausing with her hand on the door. “I love you, Lena. You know that, right?”

“Of course I do, Andy,” Lena smiles, emerald eyes soft. “I love you, too.” They step outside, the cold air hitting them like a wall, and Lena instantly regrets not bringing her sweater.

“I hate how soft you make me,” Andrea scoffs, surreptitiously swiping at a stray tear. Lena lets her have the jab — she needs it. “I’ll see you at lunch?” Andrea sounds small, as though offering Lena an out that she’s terrified she’ll take.

“Definitely,” Lena murmurs. “I’ll bring the food, and you bring the gossip. Just like old times,” she grins, teasing. “Go on, get in the car and text me when you’re home safe and sound.” They share a tender look, memories flooding through their eyes, and Lena is surprised when Andrea engulfs her in a short, but oh so tight, hug, before rushing to her ride without so much as a backwards glance.

Andrea never did like anyone to see her cry.

Lena shivers as she watches the car disappear into traffic, startling when a warm coat is draped around her shoulders. She knows it’s Kara without even turning around, and she leans into the strong body pressed up against her own. They’re silent, content in each other’s company and alone for the first time this evening. 

Lena blushes when she feels Kara’s lips brush against her temple and, with a sudden rush of courage, spins around to face her. Their breath comes out in puffs of white clouds in the night air, their eyes meeting and screaming the words they’ve longed to say to each other. Lena feels her heart jump when Kara leans forward, gently bringing their lips together in a tender kiss.

Kara’s arms are tight around her, protecting Lena from whatever the universe wants to throw at her next. They’re so focused on each other, so lost in the moment, that neither of them notice Mxy watching them from across the street. He smiles, self satisfied and smug.

“I told them it would work,” he mutters, turning to walk down the block and hopping upwards to click his heels together. “Now, who’s next?”