It’s five-thirty when she gets up. The shrill incessant noise of her alarm jolting her to wakefulness. The beep, beep, beep in sync with the beats of a pounding headache.
It was still dark outside, she notices. Quiet. Early. Way too early to feel as desolate as she is as of the moment. Mornings are a lonely affair now. Most people wouldn’t even consider it morning. Then again, it doesn’t really matter if every part of the day is a lonely affair.
Way too early, Lena. Way too fucking early.
She stretches and immediately regrets doing so. Her limbs protest at every motion; muscles screaming at her to get back to bed. It would probably be a good idea. Heading to L-Corp with a pounding headache and sore... everything, probably is a not-so-good idea.
She contemplates burying herself in her covers once more. Maybe if she thinks about it hard enough the mattress would just swallow her whole. Swallow everything up. Make everything disappear; the hurt, the bad decisions, the words said, words unsaid, the regrets.
The fucking never-ending list of regrets.
Last night was bad, she knows. Really bad. The kind of bad that Lena should really be used to by now. But isn’t. It still feels as shameful and as guilt-churning as all the other times she did something bad. Hell, she feels shameful and guilty every time something bad happens, even when it wasn’t even her doing.
She should apologize to Jess. The thought crosses her mind, mid-sip, her usual black mug on hand. She should apologize to Jess and maybe finally make her pour every bottle of alcohol in Lena’s office, down the drain.
Jess would love that.
It's a fitting apology, she thinks.
“Thank you, Jess.”
The usual ‘You’re welcome, Miss Luthor.’ doesn’t come through. Oh, this was beyond bad.
“Jess, could you come in here, for a minute?”
When Jess enters, Lena was hunched about by the liquor cabinet and trying to balance three bottles in her arms at once.
“Dispose of these, will you?”
For a moment, Jess just stares at her, as if gauging Lena’s true intention. Lena raises a full eyebrow. Jess takes the bottles into her arms without another word. Lena sighs a breath of relief. As her assistant turns her back and swiftly makes for the door of Lena’s private restroom. In the next few minutes all that can be heard is the sploshing of liquid against the sink echoing through the open door and unto the office.
Lena settles back in her chair, closes her eyes, leans her elbows on the desk and rubs both her hands at her temples. It was only 7 am and her day is already gloomier than the clouds outside.
Lena looks up the moment she hears Jess come out and slam the door shut.
“I didn’t pry. I didn’t push. I didn’t question anything. Because I know you. You would only retreat further until even I couldn’t reach you. But Lena- God, last night? You were one glass away from alcohol intoxication. You shouldn’t even be here right now.”
“I know- I wanted to-”
“I’m not done.” That immediately silences her. Stunned would be an understatement.
“I may not know what the hell happened and that’s okay, it’s none of my business anyway. , But it has been months, Lena. Months. I’ve tried to keep my distance. Tried to let you fall into your coping mechanisms again,” She sees Jess mouth twitch as she pauses, as if holding back. When she speaks again, it was softer this time, but still as loaded.
“You better get your shit together, because Lena I will not be here forever. I’m your assistant and as your assistant I have an obligation to serve you and keep you safe and-” she pauses again and Lena doesn’t move a muscle just fixes her with a gaze, that they both know is more than just a poker face.
“And I was fortunate enough to become more than that. At some point you stopped being just my boss. I became a friend, but goddamnit , I won’t be here forever. You have to take care of you, Lena.”
Well, that’s where it all boiled down to in the end isn’t it? It would be easy to do what her friend is asking of her but self-care is the one thing that—unsurprisingly—Lena Luthor is awful at.
“You have to be good to yourself. Because someday, all you’re gonna have is you. And the 'you' that's going to keep you company? She's supposed to be the best 'you'.”
When Jess doesn’t continue after a few beats of silence, Lena takes it as her cue.
“I- I don’t know what to say,” she admits, truthfully.
“Just-” Jess takes a step closer to her, “Say, ‘Thank you, Jess.’”
“Thank you, Jess.”
“You’re welcome, Miss Luthor.”
The TV shuts off with a casual flick of her hand. Right, she’s forgotten about the reason she doesn’t watch the news, anymore.
After that morning showdown with Jess, Lena thinks it a great idea to take a breather, go on a walk, mayhaps. She looks outside and sure enough National City seems to be in the same spirits as her.
The thing about angering your assistant is that you don’t get your usual caffeine fix in the morning. So, Lena if she were to go on a walk, it only makes sense that she takes it upon herself to go to the little coffee shop that popped up a couple of months ago, a little ways down Cordova Street.
It’s the perfect opportunity for a walk and a breather and caffeine.
The air was cool once she stepped out. That usual cold whiff when you know rain is going to pour some time soon. It did wonders for Lena’s headache.
Her mind goes to the confrontation with Jess. She knew she had fucked-up by being found by her assistant passed-out on the floor; an empty scotch bottle rolling about. She knew she had fucked-up the moment, she screamed at Jess to get out and leave her alone when she was only trying to help.
She fucked-up, but she was not expecting Jess’s speech.
She wasn’t expecting the heavy truth of everything Jess had told her.
“It’s been a year, Jess. Not a few months. A year. Well, it would officially be a year on Friday.”
She had wanted to say, she had wanted to say so many things. Had wanted to tell. Had wanted to confide and confess to a friend, but she couldn't. She couldn't get the words out. There was something about saying something, that makes it real. And yes, it has been a year but that doesn't mean Lena wants to make it real.
“I didn’t pry. I didn’t push. I didn’t question anything. Because I know you-”
That , was also true. Jess didn’t say anything when Lena arrived that one morning with bloodshot eyes. Jess didn’t ask why suddenly Lena was back to taking her lunches alone or rather, skipping lunches altogether. Didn’t question it when Lena had her revise the list of people allowed past security.
They just...let it be. Lena had just let it be. Let the one person who she thought would never disappear, disappear.
She’s really regretting having Jess pour all the bottles out.
Kara was stuck.
She was stuck with a stupid assignment from Snapper because she had made the mistake of talking back to him after he made a particular nasty jab about…Le- well, the why doesn’t really matter.
Not when presently Kara is chasing some social media influencer halfway across the city, who feels as though being late is a cute quirk
And the fact that every criminal in National City had seemingly decided to take a day-off today, didn’t help matters either. There were no cries of help, no kittens to save, no big bad aliens to fight off.
So, Kara was stuck interviewing a vapid girl about her ‘content’ and all the other more boring details about it. But after a gruelling session of trying to liven up a bland interview and an hour of Kara chanting, ‘ I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.’ internally, she was finally free.
The moment Kara stepped out, the skies decided that now would be a good idea to unleash torrential downpour. Not that Kara minds a little rain. After all, rainy is what everyday feels like lately, anyway.
Everything was dull, nowadays, especially this week. Kara doesn’t really want to get into detail about how this week seems duller than all the others, but this morning, Alex insisted they talk.
So, they talked. Or at least, Alex did, while she sat there numb and blank-eyed as her sister went on and berated her on recklessness, insubordination and arrogance among other things.
“Kara what is up with you? Because I have been trying. I have been trying for months to reach you and you’re not letting me. I’m asking you one more time and you’re gonna tell me and we’ll fix it together or you shut me out again and-”
“You should go.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, Alex you should go.”
And that was that. She was aware that this is not her. She’s not herself. She hasn’t been ever since-
Ever since almost a year ago.
It would be a year ago on Friday.
If she were herself she would have let Alex in, cried till there were no more tears left, and asked her sister to stay till the morning. But she wasn’t herself and she didn’t know how to get back to that.
She could, however, push everyone away. She was doing a great job with that lately.
Nia was particularly persistent though, always sending invites and trying to coax Kara out of her.. self-imposed exile —for lack of a better term. Sometimes, she agrees and lets Nia do her thing and they both pretend it helps, other times she’d bury herself in Supergirl work, that way she has a valid excuse for not answering anybody.
LIke she said, she wasn’t herself.
It’s hard to be yourself when the person who you fucking moulded your life around, was gone.
Kara was stuck, she was stuck in a self-imposed exile she desperately wants to crawl out of but cannot, stuck with a pain greater than heartbreak, stuck in trying to relive a time when there was a them.
The one thing she likes about Supergirl is that she isn’t selfish.
The Girl of Steel would sacrifice even her own life just to save those of others. Always the giver never the one for taking. Always the one to help, never the one to ask for help.
But lately, that hasn’t been the case. Well, according to the hushed lectures from Alex, anyway...and J’onn and Eliza.
The last one she really isn’t expecting. But her mom had called and well, things never go well when your adopted Kryptonian daughter is going through heartbreak and you call only to find out in the worst possible way that calling may have been a bad idea, after all.
But, Kara isn’t selfish. She wasn’t. She never was.
Bar this one time. Just once, Kara finds herself being selfish.
Not because she wants to be, but because being selfish is the one thing she can do to get a dose of Lena.
See, since a year ago, Kara has been keeping track of Lena. In the most discreet way possible.In a way all other exes find themselves doing after their lovers has left them.
Being an ex means she isn’t allowed many things. Means forbidden to see Lena, to listen to her heartbeat and even to visit L-Corp without having to set an appointment, it would seem.
But that doesn’t mean she won’t get her hands on any and every unprinted and printed article that CatCo or any other publication might have. Doesn’t mean she won’t be replaying the 40 minute TedTalk on the L-Corp initiative about integrating alien technology into human advancements, every other night. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t collect magazines with a mention of Lena Luthor in them under her bed.
It was selfish she knows. Selfish to keep on taking and taking and taking, instead of letting go. It was selfish to shadow the cub reporter sent to L-Corp last week, to wait till the rogue Draaga had reached Cordova before subduing it with her lasers, just so she can be near enough to listen to a familiar thump-thump-thump without feeling like she’s invaded her privacy .
She never was one for selfishness but people change.
Most specially, heroes whose hearts aren’t what they once used to be.
It’s that narrative that loops in her head as she finds herself taking shelter in a newspaper stand. A certain magazine cover catching her eye.
Forbes. “The Genius Behind L-Corp.” Bold black letters. Black and white power suit accentuating intelligent eyes.
It was raining. It was lonely. It was selfish.
“No, that one please, the one with Lena Luthor on the cover?” The man reaches for the copy Kara had been eyeing, “Yeah, that one. Thanks.”
Turns out, going outside for a walk and telling your driver to take the lunch off was a bad idea.
At the time, at least, Lena thought it was the worst idea.
As she is forced to do that awkward mini-jog people do to the nearest shelter when the heavens open up on them.
No, wait, telling her driver to have the lunch off wasn’t the worst idea, it was not bringing an umbrella or a coat, that was worse.
She was cold and wet and frankly, she really isn’t sorry for the 5 missed calls she’s fired to her driver just now.
Today, really fucking sucked. It seems like everyone was against her. Her mind treacherously went back to this morning which automatically transitioned to the horrors of last night which would then naturally fall to the heartbreak of this year.
The wind was harsher than she thought and what seemed like a casual rain day for National City, quickly became a full-blown storm in the 5 minutes that she has been standing in this…
Lena takes a look around and realizes she was stranded under a news stand?
A car passes by and luckily it was only her heels who take the major damage, prompting her to move a bit further in before whipping her phone again to finally-
“No, that one please, the one with Lena Luthor on the cover?” Lena freezes, she would know that voice anywhere, “Yeah, that one. Thanks.”
She slowly turns around and there, Kara Danvers clad in a beige coat, cheeks flushed from the cold chill of rain and such sad, sad, sad eyes.
She drinks Kara in slowly, admires the wet wisps of blonde hair, traces the angles of her profile, she almost misses Kara’s words only realizing she’s speaking because now, Lena’s eyes are tracking the movement of her lips.
“You know her?” A gruff voice asks, probably curious from the way Kara’s holding the magazine almost reverently, akin to how an archaeologist would after dusting sacred scriptures.
“Yeah, I do.” Voice accompanies the still moving lips, “I knew her. Once. She’s…”
And then, Kara looks up.
The man hands her the copy of the magazine.
She hands over the $9.99 without looking up. Already memorizing the way the lighting in this cover photo highlights Lena’s jaw.
“You know her?” The man asks and in her periphery she sees a woman amidst the heavy downpour.
“Yeah I do,” Kara answers, “I knew her. Once. She’s…” she pauses, because how does one explain to a stranger the absolute marvel that is Lena Luthor? How does a stranger get across that this woman right here is Kara’s miracle and hero and salvation and... home.
In the end she settles for, “—good.” instead, it was her most favorite way of describing Lena anyway.
But then, her thoughts are slowly being overridden by this sound. Such a familiar sound. A sound intimately acquainted to Kara’s ears.
That was Lena’s heartbeat. A heartbeat almost three steps away from her ever growing louder and faster and it is drowning—
Kara looks up.
Kara breathes her name out and Lena feels her heart.
She hasn’t felt her heart in a very long time. But now here it is making itself known, as if eager to burst out of her chest and make its way to Kara’s.
“I-” Lena starts and is effectively cut off by her phone.
There’s this moment. Where everything is in slow-mo. Where she looks at the screen of her phone, flashing with her driver’s name and back at Kara framed by the rain and it is like she can see the drops fall one by one as they splash on the pavement, like if she takes the step and not the call, Kara’s eyes would do her in.
Lena takes the call. The moment ends. The car arrives.
Kara calls and Lena stops and feels a hand on her wrist, stilling on the car door.
Lena’s eyes stubbornly stay on her reflection on the car window, rapid droplets of rain blurring the image of a frozen woman and a desperate lover stopping her.
“The cover should’ve been in color, not in black and white.”
It was the most absurd choice of words that Kara could’ve gone with.
She realizes that now. Why hadn’t she gone for “I still love you.” or maybe even the more obvious one, “Can we talk?”
But no, she goes for telling her how the cover of a magazine should’ve been better in color.
Lena finally knows what it feels like when people say, whiplash.
It may have been the most absurd sentence to say but it did do the trick.
Lena’s hands were now off the car door and her sole focus and entire attention is now turned to Kara.
“The c-cover, it would’ve looked better in color. You—” Kara hurries to clarify, “Y-you would’ve looked better in color. Your eyes, people should, uh people should see them.”
She won a Pulitzer.
Would be Alex’s favorite retort when Kara finally tells her sister the story.
She won a Pulitzer and that’s the best arrangement of words her mind chooses to do at the moment.
What do you say to the ex you clearly haven’t moved on from when you run into her buying a magazine with your face on it and she tells you people should see your eyes?
“I should go,” she says and she goes as far as opening the door when she stops herself.
“You know if you wanted to read an article about me that bad, why don’t you just come and interview me yourself?”
“I— I’ll give Jess a call, Ms. Luthor.”
“See you on Friday, Ms. Danvers.”