Thunder crashed outside the Metropolis headquarters of S.T.A.R. Labs, as lightning illuminated the surrounding cityscape with enough frequency and brightness to seen almost like daylight, in spite of the late hour. Rain poured from the skies, streaming across the advanced research facility’s parking lot, making it seem more of a small, shallow creek.
Dr. Emil Hamilton was working late this particular evening. A couple of friends of Superman, Charlie Lewis and Linda Danvers, as well as a woman named Sharon Holmes, had brought in an Essence. An Essence was essentially a cybernetic human – a living machine – melded with a human brain from a long-dead host. But this particular Essence had been deactivated, it’s circuit control system removed.
He knew that the mind trapped in the immobilized body in his lab was slowly dying, slowly going insane. Unable to control its environment, it felt trapped in a perpetual dream state – where it would remain after a short time, even if the body were re-activated later. Her brain would essentially just give up and die.
Emil sat on a stool in front of a counter, next to a small halogen lamp, a magnifying glass suspended in front of him by a band around his head. His hand held a soldering iron, as he delicately touched it to a tiny circuit board. A couple more solder points and…
“This is it”, he said as he removed the magnifying glass headband and tossed it to the counter in front of him. He blew gently on the small circuit board to cool it, before sliding off of the stool. “The moment of truth.”
The lights flickered in his lab as a bright flash of lightning through the windows illuminated him from behind, followed by a loud crash of thunder. He approached the Essence. He pulled aside her hair to find a slot the size of a quarter on the back of her neck. His hands shook a little as he took the circuit board he just made, snapping it into the slot with an audible click.
Lightning flashed again, as the lab went dark. A loud crash of thunder sounded as the eyes of the Essence opened suddenly. Emil smiled as he watched her raise her arms and begin to sit up slowly.
“I did it–“, Emil yelled, the sound of his voice bouncing off the dark walls of his lab, “She’s alive! She’s alive!”
Emil’s enthusiasm was cut short abruptly as the Essence raised an arm quickly, grabbing him by the throat. She slid off of the table, protected from the elements only by a soft white gown. Another flash of lightning, another crash of thunder as she lifted Emil off the ground by his throat. Another flash of lightning illuminated her eyes – they showed anger.
“Please…I…I saved your life.”
The Essence reached behind her to feel the small slot on the back of her neck with her finger. It had closed, as it was designed to when a control circuit was in place. Her eyes turned sad as she dropped him to the ground gently and let go of his throat. “Th-thank you.”
With another flash of lightning, the Essence hugged Emil with the gentleness of a child. He smiled, content that he had made a friend, not an enemy that day – and that he had triumphed over all odds.
“I’m Sam.” Sam looked down at her white gown and gave Emil a shy smile. “Do you have anything a little less–”
“Breezy?” Emil nodded and headed toward lockers placed against one wall of the lab. The place didn’t have much in terms of fashionable clothing, but he could lend her one of Star Labs’ blue uniforms. He chose one which seemed to be the right size for Sam, and handed it to her. “I hope this fits. It’s all I have at the moment.”
Sam nodded, eyeing Emil as she headed toward the single restroom near the lab’s entrance. She seemingly appeared behind him only seconds later as he was examining some equipment with a flashlight. “Okay. Now what?”
Emil jumped as another flash of lightning and thunder crash punctuated Sam’s sudden appearance. He leaned over the counter, trying to catch his breath. “God, you scared me. I need to do a few tests on you. Nothing invasive, just x-rays and CAT scans. It could take a while.”
Sam shrugged. “Okay. But I want to talk to Charlie afterward.”
As Emil walked over to a panel to engage the lab’s emergency generator, he nodded. “Anything, Sam. For what I think I will discover…anything.”
Lex Luthor sat in his darkened office, shades drawn and lights turned off in an effort to soothe his aching head and muscles. He thought about seeing a doctor…but quickly dismissed that as he convinced himself that doctors robbed him of his dignity.
As he closed his eyes for just a moment, a horrid scene replayed itself in his mind. He heard an explosion, a roar, and crashing glass above him. He looked up for just a second, confident that whatever had happened couldn’t directly affect him – yet it did.
He was facing an avalanche of concrete, steel, and glass. He had just enough time to follow his instincts, crumpling to the sidewalk and guarding his neck with his hands quickly. He felt pain radiating from every extremity as the concrete chunks began pelting him, as the glass shards left cuts on his exposed skin. He saw flashes of light as a few chunks hit his head…he felt dizzy. The next thing he remembered was being rescued by two of his security people.
Luthor realized that for the first time in his life…he had almost been killed by an accident. Not by a worthy adversary, or someone who had the mind to out-think and out-strategize him. Simple luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He would have died there, lacking the dignity of a true battle.
Sitting in that dark office, alone, he began to worry about how many people would rejoice, rather then mourn, at his death. Superman, while publicly showing remorse, would be relieved. Every muck-raking reporter in town would descend like vultures, looking to rip apart what was left of his reputation. And Lexcorp…would become nothing.
A deep sigh from Luthor went unheard as he came to a single conclusion. It was time for a change in his life. It was time for Metropolis to meet it’s true hero.
Linda pounded on Charlie’s hotel room door mercilessly as he raced across his room to open it. It sounded like she was trying to break it down, and he had no idea why.
“Charlie, what the hell is this?” Linda marched right through Charlie’s hotel room, shoving a rolled-up newspaper against his chest before sitting down, arms folded, in one of the chairs around the table in his room.
Looking confused, Charlie slowly unrolled the ruffled copy of The Daily Planet and read the headline. It said ‘Lex Luthor To Repair Damage From Explosion’. He stared at the headline for a moment before responding. “Looks like he’s trying for publicity.”
“Read the rest of the article.”
He chuckled as he began to read the first part of the article, a miniature interview of Lex Luthor explaining how a near-death experience during a building collapse after the explosion gave him a new look on life. And how he now believed that all life was…sacred? “What the hell…?”
“That’s what I said.” Linda leaned back and put her feet on Charlie’s table. “Lex is losing it. Since when does he think of anything but himself as sacred?”
Charlie laughed, tossing the newspaper aside as he sat at the table next to Linda. He glanced at her shoes for a moment, noting that she was wearing new sneakers. Now that she lived in a big city and lived half of her life as a super-hero, her usual footwear proved to be inadequate. “It’s probably just some carefully rehearsed speech of his.”
“Oh, you think so?” Linda tossed an opened envelope across the table at Charlie. He removed the letter inside quickly, leaning back in his chair to read it.
“Dear Linda and Charlie”, he read aloud, “I have performed many deeds in my life which I now regret fully. One of which was attempting to cheat and alienate you, and potentially destroying your fledgling business by taking your services without payment. Please accept this check for a $100,000, it should cover what I owe you and more. I hope it can begin to heal any animosity between us.”
Charlie turned the envelope upside down, which didn’t reveal any check. He frowned and looked at Linda. “He did send a check, didn’t he? Do you have it?”
“I burned it.” Linda snatched the letter from Charlie quickly, crumpling it into a ball and tossing it effortlessly into the garbage can across the room. “I don’t want any of his blood money.”
“Linda–” Charlie stood quickly and paced the room once, a look of worry on his face. “We need that money. We haven’t had any paying clients since we got here. We can’t keep living off of Clark and Lois in this hotel forever–”
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll pay for the hotel rooms.” Linda stood up and leaned over the table. Her eyes looked angry. “Just as long as Lex doesn’t. I don’t want to be indebted to him for a single penny. I won’t let you, either.”
“Did you ever hear that old saying about looking a gift horse in the mouth, Linda?”
“This gift, Charlie–” She walked around the table quickly, standing in front of Charlie to look him in the eye. “–Is no gift at all. Trust me…Lex Luthor always collects on his favors. Always.”
“What if he’s serious, Linda?” Charlie paced across the room again, giving away that he didn’t feel sure of his words. “When a man nearly has a building fall on him, it can change his outlook drastically.”
“Yeah, right.” Linda headed into Charlie’s kitchenette, rifling through his refrigerator as he continued talking.
“You trust everyone else implicitly, Linda. Just make sure you’ve thought about this, and it’s not the experiences of Matrix you’re drawing on.”
She visibly cringed as those words left Charlie’s mouth. She put a block of cheese she was thinking of eating some of back into the refrigerator – all of a sudden, she lost her appetite. “I can think for myself just fine, thank you very much!”
“Linda, wait.” Charlie struggled to catch up to Linda as she slammed the refrigerator shut and headed toward the door quickly. “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to dredge up any ugly memories. Forget about the money. You’re right…if it’s going to come between us, I don’t want any of it. I’ll survive.”
Linda had already stepped into the hallway, she was prepared to slam the door behind her – but Charlie’s words suddenly caused all of the anger to drain out of her body. She couldn’t believe she was going to hurt Charlie’s feelings over anger she felt toward Lex Luthor…she couldn’t let that happen.
“Here.” She slipped her hand into the pocket of her jeans, pulling out a crumpled check with a Lexcorp logo, pressing it into Charlie’s palm gently. “It’s yours, you do need the money. And I’m…sorry I bit your head off.”
Turning and heading back into the hallway, Linda was intent on retreating in shame back to her room – but she froze as she heard tearing paper, followed by confetti raining down over her head. She turned around to face Charlie, her eyes widening as she realized what he was tearing up. “What are you doing?”
“Your friendship is more valuable to me then all of Luthor’s money.” He tossed a remaining few fragments of paper in the air, smiling as he watched them land on Linda’s head. “It’s an act of solidarity. If you don’t want any part of him…I don’t either.”
Linda rushed through the doorway of Charlie’s hotel room in a blur, hugging him tightly. He returned the hug quickly, only to notice a second later that she had tears in her eyes. “I can’t believe you gave up all of that money just because of me.”
“Money is fleeting, Linda. Friendship is forever.”
“Graves. Please, call me Mercy.” Mercy stood at the entrance of Emil Hamilton’s laboratory a thick wad of cash in her hand. She towered over the doctor as she waved the money at him slowly. Her hand held more cash then he made in a year.
“Sam is not for sale. Technology or no, she’s a living–”
Purposely intimidating Dr. Hamilton, Mercy moved closer to him, casting a shadow over him as she gripped the wad of cash tightly, evidence of her impatience. “Look, little man…She’s Lexcorp property. I can just take her and leave if you prefer, but I would rather have a happy ending for both of us. Take the money.”
A door behind Mercy opened quickly as a tall man with a bald head and a self-satisfied smile entered the lab. That man was none other then Lex Luthor himself. “Stand down, Mercy. I’m sure we can work all of this out.”
Luthor walked across the lab, urging a nervous Dr. Hamilton to follow him as he leaned against one of the solid steel counters against one wall. “Dr. Hamilton, I have a proposition to offer you.”
“I told you–”
“Hear me out, please.” Luthor held up a hand to stop Emil from speaking, continuing to talk to prevent further interruption. “I will fund all of your research into the Essence, Dr. Hamilton. Anything you learn from her is yours to exploit…provided that you share any findings with me, as well.”
Emil shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry, Mr. Luthor. I can’t accept bribes–”
“Not something as crude as a bribe.” Luthor smiled and placed one hand on Emil’s shoulder, almost as if her were a politician courting a special interest group. “This is an investment. You are supplied the capital you need for supplies, equipment, and staff. I get information in return. I will not even interfere in your work.”
“I…I don’t know what to say.” Emil looked at Luthor, then at a now smiling Mercy. “Thank you.”
“No, thank you”, Luthor said, “Helping a fellow researcher is worth the price.”
Emil stood, frozen, as he watched Luthor and Mercy quietly left the lab. He was so shocked at Luthor’s behavior, he didn’t even notice Sam walk up behind him.
“He sure is acting strange, isn’t he?”
“Huh?” Dr. Hamilton jumped at the sound of Sam’s voice, before calming himself quickly. “Oh. Yes, he is. But his bodyguard seems the same as ever.”
Sam laughed. “I like her. She’s cute.”
Buzz sat behind the counter at Sci-Fi Universe, eyeing the pack of cigarettes in the shirt pocket of the teen speaking to him. It had been a while since he had a cigarette – Linda made him quit smoking after the hotel manager threatened to toss him out for nearly setting a couch on fire.
“No, you can’t. Bug off.”
“Why not? Don’t you work here?”
“Because, you git–” Buzz leaned forward across the counter, close enough to snatch the pack of cigarettes from the teen’s shirt pocket. “You didn’t say the bloody magic word.”
“Wrong.” He held the cigarette pack just out of the teen’s reach. “The magic word is commission. I’ve got to make a living too, y’know.”
“That’s it”, the teen fumed, “I want to talk to the manager!”
“Fat chance in hell of that.” Buzz leaned back, putting his feet on the counter as he lit up one of the cigarettes, blowing smoke in the face of the next customer. He felt satisfied with himself – there was no way Linda would ever know–
“Buzz, what the hell are you doing?”
He looked across the counter quickly, to see an angry Linda standing in front of him. He removed the cigarette from his mouth quickly, squashing it against the glass countertop. “I wasn’t smoking–”
“I meant with that kid!” Linda leaned over the counter as Buzz tried his best to snuff out a few smoldering embers which trailed across the counter. “You can’t treat customers like that, you’re going to get fired again!”
Buzz shrugged. “Treat customers like what?”
Linda looked over at a large man who had just entered the store from the back room. He walked along the counter, his gaze fixed on Linda, until he finally paused in front of her and leaned over the counter.
“This aint a library. Buy something or get out!”
“Let me guess”, Linda asked as she gave the man an amused smile, “You’re the manager?”
“I’m the owner. You have a problem with that?”
“No…no problem at all.” Linda tried her best not to laugh as she raced out of the comic shop, finally losing control as she met Charlie outside.
Charlie smiled, but did his best not to laugh. “What?”
Linda took a deep breath to try and calm herself, urging Charlie to start walking with her. “I never thought I’d see Buzz find the perfect job…but I think this is it.”
While turning to look back at the comic store, Linda found herself crashing right into Charlie. He had stopped walking. She was about to ask why when the reason became apparent – he was reading a large banner across the street announcing a homeless shelter opening courtesy of Lex Luthor. But it wasn’t just any shelter – it was a building filled with nice one bedroom apartments!
“What’s going on around here, Charlie?” She stood behind Charlie, frozen, just staring at the banner. He did the same…and after several seconds of silence from Charlie, she realized that he didn’t have an answer for her. He was just as stumped as she was.
“Come on, Linda.” Charlie pointed across the street toward a small glass storefront. “We have to get to Dave’s Deli to meet Clark and Lois.”
Linda nodded, following Charlie across the street and into the deli. The place was a favorite among Metropolis residents because of it’s familiarity – it was one of the few places that the frightening, brand new Metropolis technology didn’t rule. In fact, if not for the touch-screen cash register, the place was positively dated. But that, in Linda’s opinion, is what gave the place its character – the fact that it remained the same in spite of the changes surrounding it.
She watched an older homeless man in layers of torn clothes enter the deli as she followed Charlie to a table. Linda cringed silently – Metropolis, in some ways, was as bad as Gotham. To keep it’s polished image as the city of the future, it’s residents had become as intolerant of the homeless as people in Gotham, though for another reason – because during the ‘upgrade’, most people prospered. The homeless and poor were therefore outcasts, thought to be defective.
Linda was pleasantly surprised when the owner of the deli – his name tag read David something-or-other – stepped through the double swinging doors leading to the back of the store, hands full of two brown bags full of bread and various food items. The homeless man tried to refuse, but didn’t get the chance before David dumped both bags in the man’s arms, and shook his hand quickly. It was an outpouring of genuine love – not for a city, but for its people.
Charlie saw it too. As she turned to look at him, he was eyeing a homeless woman in torn clothing who came in to help the man carry the bag. Then yet another homeless person – a teenager, lost to the streets. Linda took a quick look around the store, expecting to see horrified patrons. There were a few, but the regulars took it in stride – this deli was a neighborhood joint, a place where people took care of each other.
As Linda remembered the sign outside trumpeting Luthor’s big entry into the world of aiding the homeless, it made her angry. Luthor wasn’t satisfied any more with just being the biggest businessman in town. He wanted his finger in everything, his name plastered on every corner of Metropolis. He would never be happy with simple world domination – he wanted the world to truly be his own.
“What’s the matter, Linda?”
She could feel the anger in her eyes as she turned to face Charlie, not even realizing how upset she was with Luthor until she saw her own emotions reflected in his eyes. She asked herself why she was so angry – was Charlie right? Was she drawing on memories from Matrix’ past? “Charlie…what’s the matter with me? Why can’t I let go of this hate I have for Lex?”
“Once bitten, twice shy, Linda.” Charlie smiled at her as they both sat down at their table. “To tell you the truth, I don’t trust him much either. But every man deserves a second chance…maybe he’s genuine this time. Sometimes it pays just to sit by quietly and wait.”
Linda nodded quietly as she watched Clark and Lois approach from the entrance door. Following them was the teenage Kara Kent. Linda had to smile, watching the three – it looked almost like Lois and Clark had adopted her.
“What would you guys like?” Charlie leaned back, reading the menu as Clark, Lois, and Kara sat down.
“Tomato soup. And tuna.” Kara returned the stares of Charlie and Clark as she blurted out her preferred order. “What? I’m hungry.”
Linda covered her mouth to laugh as Charlie attempted to get the attention of one of a nearby waitress. Once the waitress approached, she watched as Clark and Lois each ordered their lunches with the smoothness and precision that only a regular customer of the place would be able to. They didn’t even consult the menu as Charlie and Linda had to.
“What would you like, Linda?”
Suddenly pulled back to reality, Linda tried to skim the menu quickly. She let her mind wander, totally forgetting that sooner or later, her turn would come up. She glanced across the table at Kara, smiling to herself as she remembered why Kara ordered what she did – because she probably ate it often enough at the Kents’ home in Smallville. “You know…I think I’ll have what she’s having.”
The waitress nodded. “Okay…that’s two tomato soup and tuna’s, one roast beef on whole wheat, and two bologna and cheese, no mustard.”
A round of nods confirmed that the order was correct, sending the waitress back toward the kitchen.
Linda continued staring across the table at Kara as Charlie, Lois, and Clark began a discussion on obtaining evidence in an investigation. She enjoyed being a private investigator for the action, and to help people – such detailed discussions bored her.
What interested her more was how quiet Kara remained…and what she was doing to pass the time. Since Kara sat down, she had been playing with something small in one hand, seemingly kneading it with her fingers. At first, Linda assumed it was some sort of modeling clay – interesting her even more, at the possibility of Kara being a fellow artist – but soon she discovered that it was something even more interesting. In her palm, Kara was molding a small figurine made out of pure glass. She was using soft heating from her eyes, and the pressure of her fingers to gently yield the glass to her touch.
“Can I see that?” Linda extended her hand across the table to Kara. And when Kara looked up, a light of hope filled her eyes, a look of joy at seeing someone willing to share her interests.
“It’s a dog”, Kara explained softly as she dropped the still-hot molded glass figurine into Linda’s palm. “It looks like Rupert, doesn’t it?”
Linda smiled and nodded as she held the small glass dog up to the light to get a closer look. Kara was right, it looked just like Rupert. “How long did this take you?”
Kara shrugged. “A few days. I did it a little at a time.”
“It’s beautiful.” Linda began staring at the glass figure again when she overheard a new subject being discussed by Charlie, Clark and Lois – sending Kara to school. “What? You’re sending her to high school?”
“Why not?” Clark folded his arms and leaned back. “It was good enough for me, and for Lois. Look how we turned out.”
Linda shook her head. “I don’t exactly have fond memories of high school, Clark. And it’s not the 40’s anymore, schools are different now.”
Charlie did his best not to snicker at Linda’s obvious insult as he offered an alternative solution. “How about home schooling?”
“I don’t know.” Lois wrinkled her nose. “I mean…sure it’s becoming popular, but what kind of education will Kara get?”
“Well…Considering the state of public schools these days…” Charlie laughed.
“Besides”, Lois interrupted, “Who can we trust to home-school Kara?”
Linda watched Kara sigh as everyone at the table talked about her fate. She bowed her head to concentrate on another glass figurine, her long blonde hair obscuring her eyes as she did her best to shut out the world. It made Linda sad to see her do that – to just quietly withdraw from reality instead of asserting herself.
“What does Kara want to do?” Lois, Clark, and Charlie all stared at Linda as soon as she blurted out that seemingly revolutionary idea. Even Kara looked up to see what was going on. “I mean…Does she even want to go to school, or does the idea of it terrify her? Does she even need school? She seems pretty smart to me. And if she wants, Charlie and I can even find her some work to do.”
Kara glanced around the table before smiling at Linda. “I am terrified. But I’ll go.”
“Are you sure?” Linda leaned across the table, ignoring the disapproving looks from Lois and Clark. “It’ll be tough on you. Not the lessons…people.”
“I can deal with it.”
Linda walked into her and Charlie’s office, carrying a small plastic bag. The office work bored her – so she volunteered to go out for office supplies. Plus the fact that her credit card, unlike Charlie’s was empty – she knew that Charlie was in much bigger financial trouble then he would admit to her. Linda was glad to help him out as much as she could without robbing him of his dignity.
She paused in the doorway of the office, watching silently as two people walked into the office ahead of her – Dr. Emil Hamilton and the Essence named Sam she remembered helping Sharon Holmes and Charlie dig up after Lex Luthor buried her.
“Hello, young lady.” Dr. Hamilton leaned over Kara, who sat on the floor re-organizing files at her own suggestion. She was eager to do the work when Charlie casually mentioned that the files were a mess. “Can we talk to Charlie Lewis?”
Kara looked up at Dr. Hamilton and frowned. “I’m not a kid, you know. I’m not a secretary, either.”
In spite of Kara’s protest, she pointed toward one of the rooms of the office. Dr. Hamilton and Sam walked into the room.
“If I were a super-hero too…would I get more respect?”
Linda smiled at Kara’s question as she sat down on the floor next to her, placing the plastic bag she held carefully on the floor nearby. “You know…I often ask myself the same question. So I guess that means the answer’s no.”
Kara sighed loudly. “Why am I treated like a kid? I’m not even from this planet. I might be an adult from–”
“Wait, wait…who told you you’re not from this planet?”
“It’s obvious”, Kara scoffed. “Clark’s not from this planet, and I can do most of what he can do.”
Linda placed a hand on Kara’s shoulder as she watched her own words begin to upset her. “I’m from this planet, Kara. How do you explain what I can do?”
Kara shrugged, her eyes telling Linda that she longed for an explanation too. Yet the silence between them confirmed that neither had the answer to the question. “What do you think I should do?”
“Do what you enjoy, Kara.” Linda stood up quickly, reaching for the bag of office supplies. “The rest will come to you…eventually.”
“Are you leaving again?”
Linda nodded. “I have one more errand to take care of.”
“Sam? Emil? What brings you two here?” Charlie stood up quickly, allowing his desk chair to roll away until it came to a stop against the back wall. He walked around the desk, shaking Emil’s hand as he stared at Sam. “Sam…you’re alive…again.”
Sam laughed. “I guess it takes more then Lex Luthor to kill me.”
Charlie smiled and looked at Dr. Hamilton, then back at Sam. “So you two are working together now?”
Dr. Hamilton nodded, looking back at a smiling Sam. “We’re trying to discover how she works. She was actually developed by Tatsuo Takamura, who has recently turned up missing.”
“Missing?” Charlie picked up a business card laying on his desk, handing it to Dr. Hamilton. “If someone wants him found, you know–”
“That’s one of two reasons I’m here.” Dr. Hamilton sat down in one of Charlie’s office chairs, prompting Sam to do the same. Charlie pulled his rolling chair away from the wall and sat down as well. “Sam wanted to see you…but I would also like to talk to Mr. Takamura about his designs.”
“Given enough information, I think Linda and I can find him.” Charlie nodded slowly, looking across the desk at Sam. “Do you either have any clues?”
Emil shook his head ‘no’. “I’m afraid he had simply vanished without a trace. No evidence, no trail…nothing.”
“Hmm.” Charlie paused in thought for a moment before finally gaining the courage to ask his next question. “I do have to charge a fee, you know. Is that going to be a problem?”
“No, I have an unlimited research grant from a certain benefactor in town. Money isn’t a problem.”
“Great.” Charlie stood up quickly, reaching across the desk to shake Emil’s hand. “It’s a deal, then. Linda and I will look for Mr. Takamura…and if we don’t find him, you don’t pay.”
As Sam and Dr. Hamilton left the office quickly, Charlie looked through the office quickly, eager to find Linda and tell her the news – that they have a paying client! When he couldn’t find her, he paused to talk to Kara. “Have you seen Linda?”
Kara shrugged. “She left. Something about an errand.”
Charlie looked at a plastic bag sitting on a table nearby, filled with office supplies. He remembered sending her to get a few office supplies – but if she finished that errand…
“I think she’s going to visit Lex Luthor.” Kara stared up at Charlie, smiling at his confused look.
“Oh, hell.” Charlie looked at the main entrance of the office, briefly thinking about following Linda, but quickly decided against it. He knew she could take care of herself…he just hoped she wouldn’t do anything too destructive to Luthor. He smiled back at Kara. “You’re quite the detective.”
“Ah, Supergirl. Long time, no see.”
Lex Luthor didn’t even bother looking up from the journal he was writing as Linda entered his office through the balcony, in costume as Supergirl. She decided it would be easier to enter through there rather then have to fight her way up from the lobby.
Supergirl looked around her office, noticing one big difference from the last time she visited – in spite of his office being surrounded by bullet-proof glass, Lex Luthor most often kept the venetian blinds closed to retain a certain air in his office, one of darkness and mystery. But this time, all of the blinds were pulled up, letting bright sunlight permeate every corner of the room.
“The darkness made it seem that I had something to hide.” Luthor closed his journal and stood, making yet another uncharacteristic move – he walked around to the other side of his desk. “But now, on a personal level…I have nothing to hide. My triumphs, my troubles, are out in the open for the world to see.”
“I know what you’re up to, Lex”, Supergirl said in a soft voice. Her eyes were filled with anger, but she did her best to control it in her voice, and her actions.
Luthor shook his head and smiled. “I’m not sure what you mean, Supergirl. I’m not ‘up to’ anything. I’ve been give a second chance at life…and this time I’m not going to–”
“Yeah, right.” Supergirl folded her arms, watching Luthor intently as he crossed the room to pour himself a drink. “It’s just a new strategy in an old game, Lex. You know it, and I know it. I’m not stupid.”
Luthor took a sip of brandy and laughed. “I would expect this kind of behavior from Superman, but not you. I always thought you to be more intelligent, trusting, and compassionate then he is. One day his inherent distrust toward me is going the cost him.”
Luthor suddenly felt Supergirl’s white gloved hand wrap around his throat, her warm fingers gripping his jaw tightly as his feet left the floor suddenly. He looked down to see the fine crystal shot glass slip from his fingers, slowly falling to the carpet, bouncing once as the brandy it contained became reduced to a dark stain on the rug.
He could hear his heart beating in his ears as his breathing began to constrict – and two haunting blue eyes burned the anger they contained right through him, sending a quick shiver of fear through his mind. For the first time since he had known this Supergirl, in a white tee-shirt and blue skirt, he found her to be unpredictable…a thought that terrified him.
His sight began to dim as the lack of oxygen to his brain began his transition out of consciousness. His voice was not muted, but he would never beg for his life – he found that to be undignified. No, he would face her, and count on the fact that she was opposed to killing him…or was she? The anger he saw in those eyes…it seemed to him that it had no bounds.
“I’ll be watching you.”
Those whispered words were all Supergirl said before she suddenly released Luthor, watching him collapse to the carpet before she launched herself through the balcony doors with one powerful leap. A passing shadow and a gust of wind…she was gone.