"Your vitals are back," Alex sweeps into the MedBay, black leather boots scuffing the shiny floors. She shifts her weight to the side, a stack of files balanced in one hand. "Everything seems fine."
"Phew," Kara says out loud, kicking her feet back and forth on one of the gurneys under a solar array. "No infections? No cancer? No blood-eating fungi?"
"Nope," Alex pops the 'p.' "It still bothers me, though. The pollen spray was obviously a defensive measure, and in one of the interrogation rooms no less. It doesn't make sense that it wouldn't do anything."
Alex bites at her pen cap, quickly thumbing through the thick file one more time.
"Maybe I'm resistant," Kara shrugs. "At least everyone's not clawing to have sex with me."
Alex's eyes lance up from the file.
Did Kara just say that out loud?
"Yeah…" Alex answers slowly, watching her sister skeptically. "Crisis averted…"
But Kara doesn't get the sense she's nearly in the clear. She attempts a quick escape, anyway.
"So, I can head home?"
"Hold on a minute," Alex places the file on a nearby, silver medical tray. "You feeling okay?"
"A little bored," Kara answers without thinking, glancing around the barren black rock of the underground headquarters. "I hate being here."
"At the DEO?"
"Yeah," she shrugs. "I only come here for you, and I want to go home. I don't know what I'm going to wear yet when I see Lena for lunch, it always takes me forever to choose, and—"
Kara slams her jaw shut so hard there's an audible click of teeth. Jeez, she knows what she was about to say, but why had she almost said it out loud?!
Alex takes a step closer with the kind of parceling, intense scrutiny she typically dedicates to their holiday 1000-piece puzzles.
"I don't like how you're looking at me," Kara swallows.
"Well, we haven't done a full neurological check."
Alex tilts her head to the side.
"An interrogation room…" she says, thinking aloud. "Can you just answer a few easy questions for me?"
"Your name? Your birthdate?"
"My name is Kara Zor-El. My birthdate is 21 Ogtal 10,031."
Alex gazes at her a little strangely. "That's not your earth birthdate."
"The Earth calendar isn't as accurate as the Kryptonian measurement of time," Kara rattles off, and, wow, she hasn't heard herself sound that intellectually superior in awhile.
"But it's convertible."
"Not precisely," she continues, though she's not sure why. "Your scientists haven't even discovered a thrib. In fact, your entire system is flawed."
"Just tell me your earth birthday." Alex says with a long suffering sigh.
Alex stares at her, gets that look in her eye.
"Tell me your earth birthdate, damn it," she demands.
Kara wants to comply, and she knows what it is. She can even think the date. The rough translation of her birthday is October 4th, 1988. She opens her mouth to say it even, to breathe the words into existence, but nothing happens.
Alex waits. And waits. She narrows her eyes.
"My leather jacket, the one I let you borrow in high school, did you—?"
"Yes, it was me," Kara doesn't even let her finish.
She slaps her own hand over her mouth.
"I knew it!" Alex shouts. "And you said it was Kenny!"
Kara doesn't trust herself to remove her hand.
Alex throws her another dirty look before she begins pacing the room, hands on her hips.
"The release was in the entry-way, you went in first. It's probably some kind of aerosol truth serum meant for prisoners," she mutters.
Kara takes her hands from her mouth.
"How long will it last?"
"I have no idea. But just to double check… tell me a lie."
Alex picks up her pen.
"Tell me this pen is blue," she hands it to Kara.
Kara takes it. It's just a pen. This should be easy.
"The pen is—" she starts, but she can't finish. She laughs at the absurdity of it, trying again.
"The pen is—" she once more attempts but goes red in the face with the effort of trying to proclaim it's blue (IT'S NOT! IT'S BLACK!) Then, before she can so much as utter one more word, she snaps the pen in two with her super strength, and ink goes everywhere. She also goes crashing down from the gurney into a giant heap on the floor.
"That answers that question," Alex snorts with laughter. Kara slaps her palm to her foreheand, back against the ground.
"Rao! What am I going to do? I can’t take sick time. I was gone for a whole month already. Pulitzer Prize winner or not, Snapper will fire me."
"And you can’t tell people about Supergirl, obviously, " Alex reminds her. "All the work you do here—the number of NDA's you've signed…"
Kara curses again before steeling herself, gripping the gurney leg until she hears the metal whine. She quickly balls her fists into her lap and takes a breath as she sits up, cross-legged.
"No. I can do this. I can be careful with my words."
Alex considers her.
"Well, that must be true if you just said it."
"Right?" Kara says, suddenly filled with a kind of manic optimism. "I can do this."
She jumps up onto her feeet, taking two steps to leave.
"Wait—" they both say at the same time.
"I shouldn't be around Lena," Kara finishes.
Alex shakes her head like that's the last of their concerns.
"What? Why? She knows about Supergirl."
"I—" Kara struggles. "I don’t want to say," she finishes delicately.
"You’re keeping a secret from her?"
Kara closes her eyes, trying to focus.
"Alex," she warns.
"Come on, you can tell me."
"Alex!" Kara yells more sharply, eyes open. "Please just leave it alone. I don’t want to tell you, please don't make me. It isn’t fair. It’s not consent."
Alex looks crestfallen.
"You're right. I'm sorry. I'll try to play interference with you two. Is there anyone else I should keep you away from?"
Kara pauses for a moment before guiltily shaking her head.
"You know, it's going to be hard now that she's part of the team. She's probably already read these results," Alex indicates the file with the point of a finger. "I'm pretty sure she set up some sort of backdoor trigger alert for any information related to you."
"She's too smart, and—"
She nearly slaps herself to stop the next flow of words.
"I mean—yes, you're right. I'll just pretend to be busy!"
"How are you going to do that when you can't lie?"
"I DON'T KNOW!"
Kara cancels that day's lunch with Lena. It takes quite the acrobatic maneuver of linguistics via text message to avoid outright lying, but after twenty minutes and a lot of shouting at her traitorous, honest fingers, she gets it done.
After that, her night continues without incident (if you don't include her commenting "I hate that" while she pointed to her neighbor's new anti-alien, political sign), but she's feeling mostly positive by the next morning when she has to go to work.
It's fine. She can do this. It's fine. It's fine.
"How are you doing, Kara?" Mark from accounting greets her first thing as they step into the golden CatCo elevators. She'd hoped coming in early enough would mean no encounters with overly friendly, well-meaning colleagues, but oh well. Kara dons her trademark, thousand watt smile.
Fine, fine, fine, she thinks.
"Oh, I've been better," her mouth says instead.
Mark from accounting threads his eyebrows, a portrait of appropriate inner-office workplace concern.
"Oh, is everything okay?"
Just tell him I'm fine!!!
"Not really!" she continues with radiant brightness. She hates herself.
After that, she glues her teeth together, and Mark has the social grace to look politely befuddled as more people enter the elevator, and by the grace of Rao, their conversation drops. She thinks she's in the clear. Until…
Those four breakfast street tacos she'd jammed into her mouth this morning don't sit quite right. She's Supergirl and all, but she still has bodily functions. She can't hold it in. And oh… the smell is foul.
The kind Alex might've described as 'yellow' or 'practically a solid.' Karen from HR makes a discrete attempt to bury her face in the armpit of her sweater.
"It was me!" Kara yells as she exits the elevator, scurrying into the lobby of her floor.
She was wrong. This is going to be a nightmare. This was all a huge mistake. It's all she can think about as she walks with near superspeed towards the bullpen.
No. No, she encourages herself. She just has to keep her mouth shut. She just has to NOT TALK. FOR ONCE.
But, still, she absolutely cannot be around Lena.
She hasn't told anyone about it. Especially not Alex. Rao, she can barely think about it. But it's just the matter of the babiest, tiniest crush she has on her best friend. It's the matter of how every time she so much as glances at Lena, her mind starts cataloguing a rigorous, thoroughly detailed flowchart of the tone of her body: the curve of her waist, the subtle round of her claves, the harsh line of her jaw, the thick, parceling scrunch of her eyebrows, those pouty lips—STOP.
See, that's the kind of thing she can't let her traitorous mouth give voice to. On top of the fact that if Alex knew, it would make her sister practically insufferable. Look at William. There's a whiff of romantic interest with some guy (who had been quite mean to her at the beginning, but who listens to Kara) and it's all, 'go on that date with him' 'he likes you because he knows your coffee order' 'you vibe so well when you sing' and 'when's the wedding?' comments. Honestly, Alex is worse than mom. If Alex knew about Lena, she'd never let it go.
Then, like Kara's summoned him purely from the strength of her desire to avoid him, William Dey appears directly in her line of sight, holding two coffees.
"Kara!" he greets her enthusiastically. He offers her one of the drinks.
"Oh no," she finds herself saying, shuffling past, without so much as a tendril of control over her mouth. "I’m not interested."
He pauses, arm still extended.
"In the coffee?"
"Both—I mean, all, I mean—"
She rushes away from him.
"I have—" she tries to say 'to go.' But finds she can't. Double crap. "I want to leave—I mean! I am going to walk to my desk."
When Kara huddles into her desk, she bows below the visible cuble line and she puts both hands over her eyes. She grumbles. Loudly.
Is that really how she feels? She'd gone on two dates with William. She's not interested? At all?
She thought she was. She thought she could be.
"How's it going?" Nia singsongs, and Kara realizes her friend has wondered over at some point while she was still trying to peel her face off with her fingers.
"Did Alex tell you?" Kara asks, dropping her hands from her face.
Nia nods with sympathy.
"This is hard," she hisses. "I lie a lot. About everything. Little things. Big things! Oh no, am I a liar, Nia? Am I? Is my whole life a lie?"
"Please don't have a breakdown at work, Kara," Nia reaches forward to squeeze her shoulder. "You can do this, buddy! I'll try to talk for you when I can today."
"Okay, thank you, you're the best."
"Aw!" Nia replies, hand to her chest. "I know that's true now!"
Kara smiles back at her weakly.
Fortunately, Nia is able to speak for Kara for the most part throughout the day. Until a team meeting when Andrea assigns Kara a new, hardhitting piece on the city's efforts to rebalance the police department.
"Only the best for our Pulitzer Prize winner," Andrea says with that ingratiating smile, and there's a round of light applause.
"Oh, I’m not a good writer," Kara finds herself answering in reply. "I just have inside knowledge—I mean, I'm usually there."
Andrea's eyebrows kink. Nia elbows Kara.
"What Kara means to say is that she has excellent sources."
"I see," Andrea's lips quirk. "It's good to be honest about one's work. We can always improve…"
But that's when Kara hears it. An explosion. She turns quickly to leave the room.
"Kara?" Andrea calls after her in that typical, condescending tone. "Surely there's not something more pressing than a team meeting with your team. And boss?"
"Oh, this is is way more important!" Kara chirps back, and Andrea shoots her a look that could liquify. Meanwhile, Kara's already out of the room and changing into her Super Suit.
It is way more important. From what she can hear, it's some sort of attack at L-Corp. She doesn't even think twice before she's in the air, and there, landing on Lena's balcony. She sweeps into her office. Lena is standing, hand near her panic button.
"Is everything okay?"
Lena startles, turning sharply to look at her. Once she realizes who it is, she smiles softly, the kind that's only reserved for Kara. The kind that makes her thinks that sometimes, maybe—no, Lena didn't feel that way. If she did, she definitely didn't after Kara told her the truth about her secret identity.
"Nothing my security can't handle," Lena answers. "They think it's a handmade pipe bomb that went off in the parking garage. No one's hurt."
"That's good," Kara breathes a sigh of relief. "I don’t know what I would do without you. Also, you look great. Those heels, that skirt—I mean, how are you?”
Lena's eyes widen slightly, but she's still smiling, red lips pressed together.
Crap. This is why Kara wasn't supposed to come here! She instantly tenses up, and Lena senses the subtle change, moving closer, beautiful green eyes sweeping over her in dissecting concern. Kara takes a moment to register her brilliant blue, silky tucked in blouse. The black, high waisted pencil skirt. The pointed toe Louboutin heels.
"Are you alright?" Lena asks, and Kara can smell her expensive, intoxicating perfume.
"Physically speaking," is all Kara can say.
"I saw the DEO report. You were sprayed with an unknown substance during your mission on that alien ship?"
"And you're fine?"
Kara closes her mouth, resorts to a shrug.
"But you couldn't come to lunch after?" Kara can hear the thin trace of hurt, of question in Lena's tone.
"Are you busy?" Lena seems to be testing. Kara wouldn't be surprised if she's going through some sort of check list in her mind. "Do you want lunch now? After this incident, of course."
"You're not avoiding me, are you?" she asks with a self-deprecating smile.
It's an easy answer. No, she wills herself to say.
"Uh…" Kara says instead in a higher pitch.
It hasn't even been a full twenty-four hours, but Lena had sent a few texts that Kara hadn't replied to. Of course she knows something is off. She's too damn smart.
And this is important. Lying about this, lying now, she needs to do it. Kara wouldn't call it a fresh wound necessarily, but she and Lena have only been copascetic for a few months. And she can see the way Lena registers the desire to lie on Kara's face, the disappointment in her thinned lips as she turns back to her desk, hand splayed on the always too-white surface.
"I thought we promised no more lies," she says without making eye contact, feigning interest in invisible dust that isn't there on her desk.
"I'm not—" Kara means to say, 'I'm not lying,' but the last part won't deliver.
But she isn't! Not right now, at least!
Lena looks up at her then, expression vulnerable. Kara can just make out the rounded line of her pale collar bone disppearing under her blouse. Her lips are parted, blush pink.
"We're supposed to be a team. I thought you trusted me."
Kara experiences such a concentrated desire to comfort Lena, to lay her unfounded fears to rest, that she can't help the next few words out of her mouth.
"We are a team. I haven't been avoiding you because of that."
"But you have been avoiding me?"
Kara nearly barks out a frustrated laugh, directing her eyes to the ceiling instead.
"I know this is really rude," she pushes a hand through her hair, sighing heavily. "And I know I promised not to do it unless I had to, but… I have to."
She super speeds from the room.
Kara stews in her apartment for a few hours. She ignores several pointedly, passive-aggressive emails from Andrea. She briefly checks in with Alex to tell her, yes, the stupid truth pollen is still in her system. Lena doesn't text her.
The cold, calculated part of her knows it's too late. This has the kind of finality to it that telling Lena her secret identity four years after the fact had. But, like that, it can't be avoided. Not any more. The bear trap has sprung, and it's piercing, bone-deep.
With resignation, she flies to Lena's apartment, the cold night air a balm, a whip against her face. She lands on Lena's balcony, at the top of the tower, a lighthouse in the night. Lena is already waiting there with a full glass of wine.
She still smiles at Kara when she sees her. That same one. Although, it's a little rueful.
"Hey, stranger," she says. She's dressed in a soft, cashmere grey sweater. She's in jeans. Kara wonders if she was waiting for her or if she was waiting for someone else…
"You're—are you waiting for someone?" Kara asks nervously.
Lena shakes her head no, still smiling, and tastes her wine. It leaves a dark red stain on her lips, her trademark lipstick worn off this late in the day.
Kara steels herself.
"Something did happen. At the alien ship."
Lena sits up a little straighter, looking focused.
"It was an aerosol truth serum, when we entered the interrogation chambers."
Lena nods once, faster certainly than she or Alex had been at reaching conclusions.
"So, you can't lie," she states factually. "And you're hiding something from me?"
Kara nods, reaching out to grip the cold metal banister. Lena's leaned against it, back to the city, and if Kara were imaginative it's almost like putting her arm around her. Almost.
What a bad friend she is.
"You deserve so much more. Than this," she motions to herself. "Than me. You know that, right?"
Lena's thick, sculpted eyebrows pinch.
"You really believe that?"
"Obviously. I can’t lie."
Lena considers her. "That's a subjective truth. It may be true to you, but that doesn't mean it is true. And it definitely isn't. Not to my, anyway."
Kara takes a breath. Now or never.
"I watched the finale of Bake-off without you."
Lena blinks. Then she laughs, musically.
"You didn't," she swats at Kara. "That's why you weren't surprised Rahul won."
"I had to know. Also, it was me, I ate all the rice when we went to Chef Chu's. And your leftover birthday cake."
Lena continues laughing.
"Well, those things I knew."
"I also can’t stand Dancing with the Stars," Kara barrels on. "I only watch it because it makes you laugh, and sometimes you grab my arm on the couch. You’re really pretty after one glass of wine and your cheeks blush. You smell so good. I’ve seen you naked—
Lena sobers up at that. "What?"
"On accident! I used my laser vision to check for injuries when you fell, and I saw—a lot! I’m sorry! What’s with the tattoo—nevermind!"
Lena makes a 'wrap it up' hand motion.
"Okay, okay," Kara continues. "I listen to your heartbeat all the time. I spend a lot of time above L-Corp, just making sure you’re okay. When we weren't speaking, one time I heard you listening to I Can't Make You Love by Bonnie Rait and crying, so I had your favorite food delivered."
"That was you? I thought it was Jess."
"It was me," Kara nods. "You act like you're not hungry, but I know you are. Kind of like the way you dress. So sharp and hard at work, but at home," Kara indicates her body. "Your soft clothes are so—" she takes a deep calming breath, "sexy."
Lena takes a big drink of her wine, but Kara's barely looking at her, willing herself to go on.
"I nearly screamed the first time I saw you in glasses. You’re naturally blonde. We all know it but we no one talks about it."
"I'm not blo—" Lena balks.
"And it scares me how far I would go for you. 'There is no line in the universe I wouldn't cross to keep you safe,' I heard you say it in the hallway to James, and I agreed with you."
Lena's mouth is still half open in denial, but she freezes solid at that, eyes glistening and unblinking.
"I acted fine with you dating him, but I wasn't. Not really. I was terrified he'd propose. Or you would. I was so relieved when you broke up. I don't want you to be alone, or unhappy, but I don't want you to be—"
Kara takes a pause here, she's getting to the meat of the point of all this and is suddenly feeling acutely afraid, hand trembling by her side.
Lena consider this.
"And anyone else?"
Kara shakes her head. "Not them either."
"Four years," Lena says slowly. "You never said anything."
"I couldn't—my pain, my fear. Supergirl isn't supposed to be those things. So, I always keep it on the inside. Everything I say, everything I do, it comes through a filter. How could I tell you? I’ve been so scared that—you don’t feel the same way. Or that you did have feelings for Kara, but not for Supergirl. Or that if you ever felt anything, it was killed and buried by my confession, by the fact that I lied to you."
Kara finds her voice breaking, her eyes watering, but Lena doesn't say anything to this.
"The truth is… I'm an alien. I’m a killer. Hollywood horror movies are about creatures like me."
"No, let me finish. People think I’m not Red Daughter or the red kryptonite version of me, but they are me. They're pieces of me. I'm flawed and faulty, just like my parents, just like my unstable planet. I could be a monster. And I'm not good enough for you, Lena Luthor…"
Lena takes a deep breath, clearly repressing an unknown frustration, wine all but forgotten. A gust of wind pushes a black strand of hair across her face, but before she can reach to fix it, Kara tucks it back into place for her, fingers lingering on her ear and cheek. She's moved closer at some point, eyes locked, and Lena goes still once more.
"But when I try to imagine my future, I don’t see myself with anyone but you. I want to kiss you. I've wanted to kiss you since the first time I saw you. And I’ve never told anyone."
She lets her hand drop. She takes a step back again.
"Nothing needs to change, I just—didn't want you to think I was lying to you. Or that I don't trust you. Or love you."
Lena doesn't speak for a long time, long enough that Kara starts to say,
"I can go—"
"So, that's what it took?" Lena interrupts her. "A truth pollen?"
"Technically, an aerosol spray—"
But Kara can't finish because Lena's smashed their faces together, lips warm and hands soft behind both sides of her jaw.
After a few seconds (or all five seasons of Breaking Bad, for all Kara knows), they pull apart.
"I stole your MIT sweater," Kara breathes onto her mouth, still staring at her mouth. "I wear it in my apartment when no one's around."
Lena rubs the pad of her thumb over Kara's lips.
"Please be quiet and come inside."
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