can you write a lil bit, like head canons, or whatever form takes your fancy, on autistic kara?
eliza doesn’t know what she’s facing here, other than a small alien girl who clings to her cousins hand.
her cousin, who didn’t even stay to help her settle in.
he had called ahead, asked them to take her and as soon as the girl - kara, the only word she responds to - had taken a step toward them, toward the house, he had flown away.
eliza understands, in a way. but her understanding is only a very small part of her, and the rest is so angry on kara’s behalf. because kara never gets angry. she just stares around with wide, solemn eyes and accepts whatever happens next. sit here, stay there, move here, don’t do that…she just nods and follows the directions and eliza is afraid to push because this girl witnessed something that eliza cannot fathom. but something clark said had stuck and eliza can’t help but want to figure it out.
“it wasn’t supposed to be this hard,” he had said over the phone. he sounded exhausted, upset yes but so exhausted. “it wasn’t - she’s not like me. it wasn’t like this for me, i don’t know how to help her. i don’t know how to reach her, make her understand. please, will you help me?”
help, at some point, evolved into “take her” and then she’s sitting at the end of the bed they squeezed into alex’s room, hands folded on her lap, bag at her feet.
he hadn’t even come inside.
she flinches every time someone takes a step and when jeremiah pushes open the window, the hinges screech and kara is gone. she’s so fast that eliza stands dazed until she thinks to look for her and they find her on the opposite end of the house, pressed into the corner, hands balled over her ears.
“ah jeez,” jeremiah sighs, and eliza leans back into his warm side, stares across at her. “what are we going to do?”
“whatever we can.”
he nods after a moment, wraps an arm around her waist. “introductions first?”
kara has eased her hands down and she stares at eliza’s feet when she steps forward. when eliza crouches in front of her, she stares at her own feet.
“kara.” she rocks back on her feet. eliza quietens her voice as much as she can. “my name is eliza. do you understand?” she waits, and waits, and when the floorboards creak under her husbands feet, she shakes her head and he doesn’t say whatever he was going to say. they wait a little more and then, finally, kara meets her eyes.
her voice is thin. a whisper, but if a whisper had less heft.
eliza counts the introductions as a victory, again when kara says “alex” without prompting when she walks into the room, and they celebrate with cookies because eliza doesn’t know any thirteen year olds who don’t like chocolate chip cookies.
“alex,” kara says when she steps into the room, and alex rolls her eyes.
“still haven’t broken that habit, mom,” she calls out, and eliza looks up from the dining table, pages strewn across it, and nods. “are we going to work on that or what? time to deprogram the bug.”
“while i am very pleased to see you’re learning something useful at school, kara is not a robot, alex, so be nice.”
“she’s kind of a robot. follows specific orders, organises stuff, talks weird.”
“if you can’t be helpful, alexandra, you can go to your room.”
alex falls silent. eliza returns to her work. jeremiah steps into the room and kara says “jeremiah”, and eliza looks up to meet her daughters rather insistent ‘i told you so’ eyes.
“i don’t know what to tell you, dear,” martha says. there’s a cow mooing in the background. eliza stares out at the beach and reminds herself, even when one daughter can crumble the beach rocks to sand with a too strong sneeze and the other has taken to moods and glowers, that things could be worse and she could live on a farm. with those plastic boots. and cows. “clark was never like that. oh that poor dear, i can’t imagine…”
“but his powers, he didn’t get them until he was older,”
“he was always strong and remarkably resilient. always good for a new mother,” martha chuckles. “but around, oh, ten? he lifted the tractor up for his pop and things haven’t been the same since.”
“do you think she’s having trouble because it’s so new?”
“it’s possible. she did lose her family too, dear,” martha reminds her. “trauma like that does funny things to a person. but clark took to it all so easily, ‘cept for a few broken windows and scares. all this with your kara…i’m sorry it’s so hard, what with dealing with her little quirks,”
“sorry, martha,” eliza cuts her off. “i have to go - alex is using kara to weed the garden, this can’t end well.”
it doesn’t end as badly as she feared, but one of the bigger trees has been uprooted too, alex is grounded, and kara…kara doesn’t look upset at the idea that she did something wrong. she looks terrified. and she disappears, slowly, into the basement and curls her hands around her ears and it’s a very long time before she even seems to hear eliza, let alone listen to her.
she thinks about martha’s words when her knees click and the basement floor turns freezing and promptly ignores them. it’s no harder raising kara than it is with alex, just different. and she doesn’t want to speak ill about the other woman, clark is a good man, but he’s also a man who abandons his little cousin at a strangers house.
eliza wraps her arm around kara’s shoulder when she is allowed to, and presses a kiss to her head.
“they called it uwe wegh,” kara says softly to eliza one afternoon. alex is at a summer school - it involves a lot of dissection and playing with chemicals and alex comes home smelling of sanitizer even to eliza’s nose. she hopes it’s not why alex does it, but kara keeps her distance from alex when she smells so strongly.
“what was that, dear? pass me the bread tin.”
kara’s hand hovers over the baking tin and, when eliza nods, she passes it over.
“uwe wegh.” she looks very serious and the words are clearly kryptonian so eliza lays her spoon down on the counter and turns to face her. kara sucks in a breath. “it means…to have a brain that,” she frowns down at the recipe book. slides her finger down the page, runs her thumb over the side so the paper ruffles. “is a different brain.” the worried wrinkle appears and she looks over at eliza. “thats not right. it was more…doctor sounding.”
“like a diagnosis?”
“it’s not a disease.”
“i didn’t say that, sweetheart,” eliza soothes. not that kara sounded angry, she never really does. just reserved. “did you, have that?” she asks, a little awkwardly.
kara nods. “they followed me around for two days and then told my father. they asked a lot of questions.”
she shrugs. “what i like to eat. and wear, and listen. what i like to do. my favourite toys to play with.”
“what did you tell them?”
she shrugs again. something she learned from alex. eliza doesn’t mind: she would stand out more if she didn’t shrug or roll her eyes. “i was little. i don’t remember.”
“okay.” eliza picks up her spoon. “thank you for telling me, sweetheart.”
when eliza scoops the batter into the tin, she gives kara the bowl and the spoon to lick.
“i thought you should know. because i’m not like clark. and it’s harder with my quirks,” she says, which means she definitely heard the things eliza didn’t want her hearing. “and it’s not,” she touches her ear and then her glasses nervously, doesn’t even try to say anything about her powers. “it’s just me. it’s my brain.”
“thank you for telling me,” eliza says again. “would you lay the table?”
they have to have a proper discussion about it but it had to wait for later because what kara told her finally clicked a few pieces into place and eliza does three days worth of research before she carries a large book to the dining room table and calls kara softly to join her.
she scoots their chairs close together, wraps an arm around her shoulder.
“autism, the autism spectrum,” she says, and kara leans forward to read. when she’s done, she’s stiff and quiet, and then she leans into eliza’s side and looks up at her when eliza brushes the hair out of her face. “i think this fits, sweetie. what do you think?”
“it doesn’t have to mean anything, but it can’t hurt to know a little more. and it’s given me some ideas about how we can work on making you more comfortable.”
“i’m fine, eliza,”
“alright.” she hands over the notes she made, and kara folds the pages three times and hides them in between her hands. “you read them for me, okay? and we can talk about it whenever you like. now it’s your turn to pick dinner,”
“noodles,” kara says immediately, unsurprisingly. it’s the same dinner she’d picked four times in a row and eliza nods. same foods. she’d read that somewhere.
“noodles it is.”