You can never leave pain behind without abandoning some of the more positive experiences you’ve had. That’s why moving is such a bittersweet experience. You remember the good times you’ve had, all of the friends you’ve made – but none of the horrible experiences.
Linda looked at her empty former apartment one last time as she took a deep breath and closed the door behind her. Bygones. It was time to move on. Her smashed sculptures were little more then a bitter, distant memory easily pushed aside by visions of the people she cared about…the same people she was about to leave behind.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Linda?”
Linda smiled sheepishly, trying to do her best to cheer up Mattie, her lifelong best friend. She then nodded slowly. “Business is too slow in Leesburg. My chances will be better where I’m going.”
“I understand.” Mattie smiled as well, though her eyes told her that she was far from cheerful. “I constantly think about moving to the big city and starting my own practice.”
“So…why don’t you?”
Mattie’s immediate response was to laugh – but Linda’s eyes told her that she was dead serious. “You think I should go to Metropolis?”
“No…No, not Metropolis in particular.” Linda sighed as she began dragging a small baggage cart packed with boxes strapped to it. She remembered when she could carry the whole cart downstairs with one finger. “I dunno. I guess I just want to see you–”
“Happy?” Mattie followed Linda down the stairway quickly, snatching small items that fell off of Linda’s baggage cart as she went. “I’m very happy, Linda.”
“Really?” Linda stopped and turned around to face Mattie. She had a look of quiet desperation in her eyes – she had already lost so much…she hated to lose track of Mattie as well.
“Really, Linda. And there’s this invention called the telephone. We can call each other. And I could even visit occasionally–”
Mattie didn’t even get to finish her sentence as Linda suddenly hugged her tightly. “Thanks, Mattie.”
“Linda…your cart’s sliding away.” Mattie tried to stifle a laugh as she pointed at the cart – it was slowly sliding down the stairs by itself.
“Big deal. It would worry me more–” Linda grabbed the handle of the cart tightly and pulled it back toward her. “–if you were.”
Mattie helped Linda load the small cart into the back of her car, taking note of Buzz, sleeping in the back seat. “What are you going to do with him?”
Linda shrugged. “I dunno. He’s all alone in the world, he has no money. I can’t just abandon him somewhere.”
“He’s not a dog, Linda. You can’t just adopt him.” Mattie looked a little closer at the window, to make sure Buzz was asleep. “He can get a job, like everyone else.”
“I’ll remember you said that, Mattie.” Linda smiled a waved a finger at her. “Next time that hospital you work in has an opening–”
“Oh, no.” Mattie shook her head quickly as she and Linda climbed into the car. “No you don’t.”
Silence prevailed in the car all the way to the airport. It was as if Linda and Mattie both were afraid to say goodbye. Afraid, almost, that if they did, it would be the last words they would say to each other.
Linda was headed to the airport to meet an old friend…only to leave again to go to Metropolis. It was a tough decision she made, and was both for economic and personal reasons. She wasn’t making as much as she thought she could as an artist in such a small market. And it seemed that everywhere she went in Leesburg, she was haunted by memories of villains who had attacked her there – and fears that they may some day return. Fears that this time, in her condition, they would destroy the town she loves.
“We’re here, Linda.” Mattie looked sympathetically at Linda as she opened the passenger side door and pulled her cart from the trunk.
“Come on, Buzz. Wake up, we have to go.”
As Linda headed toward the entrance to the airport with a half-asleep Buzz in tow, she waved at Mattie silently. There would be no goodbye’s. She would see Mattie again.
Linda was shaking uncontrollably as she sat in the arrivals terminal at the airport. She tried to fold her arms and lean forward to brace herself – but it was no use.
Charlie had been gone for weeks without even calling. Then, suddenly, he called, saying that he would be coming back. She had so much to tell him…so much had happened to her during that time.
She fidgeted with a soft drink can she had set down on the table beside the chair she sat in. Just as when Charlie left, she could easily reduce that can to scrap metal – but she used to be able to do the same to the entire airport terminal, if she so wished. Not anymore. Her strength was much reduced, and she had to depend on help from others more then she ever has before. It made her a little sad, to have lost a little of her independence.
“Is the bloody plane here yet?”
“No, Buzz. Why don’t you go for a walk?”
Linda watched Buzz walk away from her, down the concourse toward the shopping area. She felt a little sorry for him as well. He was mortal now, without any powers at all. He depended on her for nearly everything – and she was a little sick of it. She wanted him to be a little more independent for a change. She hoped that he felt the same way.
She felt a burst of excitement suddenly as she watched a plane approaching the gate slowly. Too slowly.
Watching the airplane pull into it’s space was agonizing. From Linda’s point of view, it appeared to move in slow motion. In reality, it took only minutes – in Linda’s mind, days passed as she watched the nose of the plane approach the large glass window, and finally come to a stop. The hallway extending toward the plane took even longer – imaginary weeks were passing before it finally connected the plane with the airport terminal.
Linda’s eyes remained fixed on the doorway from the plane as people began streaming out of it slowly. Her heart began to speed up as she rose to her feet and onto her toes – she had to make herself tall enough to see over the heads of the herd of people moving toward her.
“Looking for someone, Linda?”
Charlie’s voice was instantly familiar to Linda. But Charlie himself was different – gone was the long trenchcoat and ironed slacks she remembered seeing him in all too often. He wore jeans, and had a pair of sunglasses stuck out of his shirt pocket.
No words were spoken as she turned around, and Charlie wrapped his arms around her tightly to hug her. It was a hug that was so familiar, and yet so strange somehow. It seemed it was a hug that Charlie really…meant.
Linda instinctively closed her eyes as she felt Charlie’s face move closer to hers – yet she didn’t expect what happened next. She nearly jumped back when she realized that Charlie’s lips had just touched hers gently, just a brush of a friendly kiss. But he’d never done anything like that before…ever.
“Sorry.” Charlie laughed a little. “I became used to that travelling around Europe.”
Smiling again, Linda returned his hug. “That’s okay. I just…missed you.”
“So what’s with the luggage?”
Linda looked down at her cart piled with bags. She then looked behind her to see Buzz approaching – and was a little amused that Charlie’s comment could apply to either one. “I’m…uh…moving to Metropolis. For a while, at least. Business has been terrible here in Leesburg. I had to close up the detective business…and my sculptures–”
Charlie nodded. “I understand. I’ll go with you.”
“Are you sure?” Linda looked behind her again to see Buzz sit down in one of the chairs and sigh loudly. “I mean–”
“I have no reason to stay here if you’re leaving, Linda.” Charlie smiled. “You’re the reason I came back here.”
Buzz groaned out loud as Linda hugged Charlie again, prompting her to glare at him out of the corner of her eye.
“What’s the deal with him?” Charlie pointed a thumb at Buzz, who was now eating a sandwich.
“It’s a long story, Charlie. I’ll tell you on the way.” Linda stood over Buzz, her expression turning angry as she watched him eating a sandwich – which he somehow got without any money. “You stole that, didn’t you, Buzz?”
“No, I had this with me the whole time.”
“Excuse me for a minute, Charlie.” Linda snatched Buzz by the back of his shirt and started dragging him back toward the food court.
A man holding his four year old daughter’s hand tightly for safety smiled as he glanced around at several other people waiting at the bus stop on a busy corner of downtown Metropolis. The street was jammed full with taxicabs, cars, and buses, and tall buildings surrounded the street on both sides.
The people at the bus stop were snickering as the man’s daughter looked and pointed up toward the sky. “Myra, what did I say to you about telling fibs?”
“No! Daddy, I’m not lying! Look!”
“I never should have told her the Chicken Little story.” The man looked around at the people waiting at the bus stop again, several of which were turning away from him to hide their laughter. He frowned and kneeled down next to his daughter. “Myra, please stop it. Just stand here and wait quietly–”
A loud crash, and the sound of crumbling concrete, paired with squealing tires suddenly filled the street as the man turned around quickly. He, as well as the other people waiting at the bus stop missed what had happened – but they could see that the street now had a large hole in it, and a cloud of concrete dust began rising to completely fill the area between the buildings. There was almost no visibility on the street at all.
Light wind blowing down the street cleared the large concrete dust cloud quickly, leaving a gaping hole in the street in full view. By that time, the scream of sirens from distant police cars and fire engines began filling downtown Metropolis, the sound bouncing off the sculpted glass facings of the city’s buildings.
“Daddy…I told you. I wasn’t lying.”
The man began to realize just how close his daughter had come to being killed by whatever caused the gaping hole in the street. He wrapped his arms around his daughter tightly, holding her head close to him, keeping her safe. “I’ll never doubt you again, Myra.”
“Once we get to Metropolis, Linda, Buzz has to get a job. We can’t let him become a deadbeat.” Charlie leaned back his airplane seat and snatched a magazine from his carry-on bag. “And why exactly are we taking an airplane, again?”
“Because she’s been a bad girl, and God took her powers away.” Buzz leaned back and smiled smugly as Linda hit him in the side of the head with a rolled-up magazine.
“That’s not true, Charlie. I can do some things–”
“–And wait till you see her new costume.” Buzz ducked too late, only to be hit again by Linda’s magazine.
“Buzz! Keep your mouth shut, or so help me–” Linda shook a fist at Buzz before turning back toward Charlie. “My abilities are…different now. I had to learn to do certain things all over again, Charlie. That’s all. I don’t feel comfortable flying long distances just yet, especially carrying luggage and a passenger.”
Charlie just smiled. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Linda.”
“You haven’t seem the costume–” Buzz slumped down in his seat, with just an angry look from Linda. He put on earphones and closed his eyes, pretending not to listen.
“What have you been up to, Charlie? You mentioned something about travelling around Europe.”
“I figured since I was already overseas, I might as well have a look around.” Charlie lifted up his carry-on bag and shook it a little bit. “I have plenty of pictures for you to see, once they’re developed.”
Linda smiled. “I can’t believe it, Charlie. You’ve been gone for weeks, and here we are talking like you never left. I have so much to tell you…But I don’t know where to start.”
Charlie turned his head to look at Linda. “How about if I start?”
Linda nodded. “Okay.”
“I started off by going to London, Linda. I wanted to see old friends, to try to capture what I left behind in my life, from a time when I was happy–” Charlie suddenly paused and shook his head as he looked away from Linda for a moment.
“And–” Charlie leaned forward, looking at Linda again. “I learned that no matter how much you would like to, you can never go back, Linda. I had about a half-dozen very close friends at one time. Half of them left London without a forwarding address. One wanted nothing to do with me anymore. And the last–”
Linda shifted in her seat as she saw a momentary wave of sadness sweep across Charlie’s face. She saw him take a deep breath, to keep his emotions in check.
“–The last died, Linda. Of cancer.” Charlie blinked hard as he spoke those words, as if the sound of them hurt him deeply. “She was a close friend since childhood. I was at her wedding, I saw her first child…I should have been there, Linda. I never had the chance to say goodbye.”
At a lose for words, Linda simply sat there watching Charlie turn to look out the window for a minute or so. She knew he was trying his best not to cry. He was torturing himself over his friend’s death, he was blaming himself. Linda began to reconsider telling him what happened to her while he was gone. She worried that he might blame himself for that, too.
“I needed some time to think.” Charlie continued staring out the window as he continued in an unsteady voice. “So I travelled around Europe for a while. I was trying to find some kind of…inner peace.”
“Did you find it?”
“For a moment, yes.” Charlie looked at Linda again, trying his best to form a weak smile. “On a beach, in Italy. During a storm. I sat there for hours as the rain pounded me. It felt a little like God was sympathizing with me.”
Buzz suddenly laughed. “God? Sympathizing? You’ve got to be kidding.”
Linda frowned and turned up the volume on Buzz’ earphones as high as it would go. She watched him return the frown and lower the volume quickly. He got the idea.
“So what have you been up to while I’ve been gone, Linda?”
Linda smiled and squeezed Charlie’s shoulder gently. “Charlie, I think it would be best for both of us if you learned that as we go.”
“How should I know?” Power Girl stood in the middle of a closed street in downtown Metropolis. She happened to be passing by, and noticed the emergency vehicles – only to be asked by a Metropolis Special Crimes Unit detective if she knew anything about objects falling from the sky. “I don’t own the skies, I just use them.”
“I just thought you might have seen something up there–”
“Clouds. Lots of clouds.” Power Girl looked down through the hole, squinting into the darkness. The firefighters on scene hadn’t gone down there yet – they were afraid the street might collapse, and elected to brace it with hydraulic jacks before they did any work down there. She could swear that she saw something…a hand?
“Out of my way.” Power Girl casually pushed aside a police officer guarding the edge of the hole, and jumped straight down. A loud roar filled the streets as she began moving chunks of concrete around. Minutes later, she floated up to the road surface, carrying a dust-covered teenager with blonde hair. The girl was unconscious, with shallow breathing – but otherwise, she didn’t have a scratch on her. Power Girl quickly leapt into a ambulance which was standing by for possible casualties, and placed the girl on the steel cart inside.
The paramedic on duty, acting completely on training now, didn’t seem to acknowledge Power Girl as she placed an oxygen mask on the girl’s face and hooked up a heart monitor. After quickly checking the monitor, the paramedic pounded on the wall separating the driver’s compartment from the rear. “Let’s go. She’s stable.”
Power Girl took a deep breath as she slammed the ambulance doors shut and watched it drive away quickly, lights flashing and sirens blaring. She reminded herself that she would have to visit the teen later on in the hospital.
“Oh, God in heaven.” Power Girl turned and started walking away from the scene quickly as she spotted Lois Lane. Lois made eye contact with her immediately – meaning that at any second, she would be heading right for Power Girl.
“Can you describe the girl you just fished out of the hole?”
Trying to smile politely, Power Girl wondered if Lois Lane’s super-power was the power to annoy anyone on the planet. “She was blonde.”
Lois frowned. “Why do you always have to be so difficult, Power Girl? Superman is cooperative. Heck, even Supergirl is.”
“Why does everyone insist on comparing me to Supergirl?” Power Girl rolled her eyes and started walking away again. As she did, she began to feel a little bad for Lois – she worked for the number one newspaper in Metropolis, and was probably under a lot of pressure to keep it that way. Power Girl understood such pressure – she turned around and walked back to Lois, as she decided to give in to her conscience. “Look…I’m only going to do this once, so listen carefully. You want the real story? Find out where that ambulance took the girl.”
“But–” Lois found her next sentence but off as Power Girl took to the air, flying away from the scene quickly. She couldn’t figure out why, but Power Girl was trying to help her. And Lois Lane wasn’t a reporter willing to let a tip like that slip by.
“Oh my God, this airport’s a nightmare!” Charlie stopped to read a sign posted a few yards from the gate in Metropolis Airport as Linda and Buzz followed closely. “Baggage claim is all the way across the airport. What is this, a new terminal? I don’t remember the airport looking at all like this–”
“The whole city’s like this, Charlie. High-tech.” Linda dropped eight quarters into a machine to rent a luggage cart. The machine actually loaded their carry-on bags onto the cart for her as she stood there. “It’s part of some kind of transformation the city went through a year ago.”
“I heard about it.” Charlie stopped to stare out a large plate glass window surrounding the walkway they were crossing. The planes were no different from those at any other airport – but the baggage handling and fueling were virtually automated processes. The people involved were doing nothing more then supervising – union rules, no doubt. “I just had no idea it was this–”
“Involved?” Linda smiled as she handed the luggage cart over to Charlie. “It’s self-powered.”
Charlie laughed as he began pushing the cart through the walkway with two fingers. It had no switch, it seemed to just start moving when someone touched the steel handle. “Buzz sure has been quiet since we landed. What’s the matter with him?”
“I hate this bloody town, is what.” Buzz scoffed as he watched an older woman pass by, spilling her purse all over the floor as she went. “So much chaos…and I have nothing to do with any of it.”
“Have you ever been to London, Buzz?” Charlie’s question went unanswered as the three of them stepped onto an inclined moving walkway, which carried them down to the floor below – home of the baggage claim.
“Wow.” As soon as Charlie entered the baggage claim area, he stopped to stare for a minute or so at the most efficient baggage claim system he had ever seen in his life. Gone were the days of standing and waiting around a circular belt for your bags to appear. Instead, a line was formed ahead of a large machine with a single slot. The machine scanned each person’s ticket, and simply dispensed any luggage with tags to match. “Linda, how long until this is in every airport in the country?”
Linda shrugged. “You’d have to ask Lex Luthor, he owns the technology patents. I’ll get the luggage, Charlie, go outside and hail a cab for us.”
Charlie figured that he has the easier of the two jobs. Hailing a cab was something he had done hundreds of times in large cities including New York and London. But he wasn’t at all prepared for what he saw as he stepped outside.
He recognized the cabs immediately by their color, style, and ‘taxi’ signs on the roof. But the vehicles themselves were alien to him – they were nearly silent, and floated a foot off the ground – there were no wheels at all!
“Uh…taxi?” Charlie approached a silver colored, older looking floating taxicab, hoping that the old taxi hail would still work in such a strange city. Luckily, it did – and just in time, as Linda was just rolling the luggage cart outside.
“So where are you two headed?” The taxi driver was an older man with long, white hair. However, age didn’t seem to be much of an impediment to him – he wore brightly colored clothing, and was very energetic. He spoke quickly, in a gravelly voice.
“Three.” Charlie pointed at Buzz. He could immediately tell that the taxi driver misunderstood from the dirty look the man gave him as he began loading the luggage into the front of the car – apparently the engine was in the rear. Charlie smiled to himself as he recognized the car – he wondered why the taxi driver decided to fix up an old Delorean from the nineteen eighties instead of buying a newer car.
“Three? All right.” The man slammed the hood shut and opened the passenger side door, leaning back the passenger seat for Buzz and Linda to enter. Charlie sat in the front passenger seat. “Where do you want to go? And make it quick, I gotta pick up Marty an hour ago!”
Linda glanced at the taxi driver’s license stuck to the dashboard – it didn’t look too permanent. The name on it read ‘E. Brown’. Charlie saw it too, and looked at Linda. They both shook their heads in disbelief.
“Daily Planet.” The car was already moving quickly before Charlie finished announcing his destination. It rose up high above the street, quickly enough to feel like a fast-moving elevator as it cut off two other drivers and made an illegal u-turn.
“Daily Planet, eh? Are you guys reporters or something?” Charlie clung tightly to his seat as the flying taxi bobbed and weaved through traffic floating over the streets of Metropolis.
“Something like that.” Linda shoved Buzz hard as she watched him trying to pry open the glued-shut ashtray on the side wall of the back.
“So you guys heard about that girl who fell from the sky earlier today, right?” The taxi driver turned around to look at Linda and then Charlie. He saw nothing but confused looks. “I guess not. Well, you’ll hear about it. Metropolis may be a big city…but word gets around!”
Linda and Charlie were stunned as they stepped out of the taxi in front of the Daily Planet building. Girl who fell from the sky? As they headed into the lobby with Buzz in tow, they both knew that they had a lot of questions for Clark – starting with where exactly their hotel was.
Power Girl was dressed in civilian clothing as she entered the hospital, rather then her costume. She knew the rules – that only friends and family would be allowed to visit the girl who fell from the sky…assuming they found any family or friends. But something drove her to see the girl again – the fact that she had been uninjured, though unconscious, even after tons of concrete had fallen on her.
She peeked through a windowed door labeled ‘Staff Lounge’, and spotted just what she needed to get into the patient area of the hospital – a long, white coat and a stethoscope. Sure, it was a little stereotypical to wear those items, but she figured that following the example of television shows like ER was close enough.
Walking out of the lounge confidently was the key. She knew that she would have to be less stealthy and more obvious to get where she wanted to go. Sneaking around would actually attract more attention then simply playing the part.
“Excuse me, Dr–”
“Not now.” Power Girl walked right past a dark-haired resident dressed in blue cotton from head to toe, dismissing the woman as she passed by. It was the best way she could think of to avoid getting into any sticky situations – just pretend to be very busy.
“Hey, wait a minute…aren’t you–”
Power Girl stopped and turned around suddenly as she recognized the voice – it was Lois Lane! Lois seemed to be everywhere she was, and it was starting to get on her nerves. “You! What are you doing here?”
“You sent me here, remember?” Lois folded her arms, suddenly becoming silent as a couple of doctors working in the hospital walked by. “Well…we might as well help each other out. What do I call you?”
“Doctor.” Power Girl walked ahead of Lois, continuing on her path toward the patient areas. She seemed to just be walking aimlessly, like she had no idea where she was going.
“Try checking the nurses’ station.” Lois smiled smugly as Power Girl turned around to give her an angry look.
“Excuse me.” As soon as Power Girl reached the nurses’ station, she could tell that no one behind that desk was going to do any work. Two of them sat in chairs, reading quietly, a small TV blaring from behind the counter. “I need the chart for the Jane Doe who was brought in a half hour ago.”
One of the nurses looked up from her book, without moving anything but her eyes. “Who in God’s name are you? I’ve never seen you here before.”
“I’m a doctor. That’s all you need to know.” Power Girl was beginning to get into the part now. She would have these two straightened out in no time. “One trip downstairs, and I can have you both fired. Now where’s that chart?”
The second nurse handed Power Girl the chart quickly, prompting her to wave a finger at Lois and continue down the hall with Lois close behind. As she headed toward the room of the girl who fell from the sky, Power Girl could swear she heard one of the two nurses say, ‘She’s a doctor, all right.’
“What do you think?” Clark Kent stood in the doorway of what could be described only as a cavernous hotel room. He pointed into the room as Linda slowly walked in and dropped her duffel bag on the floor.
“This is too much, Clark. You can’t afford–”
Clark held up his hands and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Linda. Perry knows the manager well, he helped me reserve three of these rooms at a huge discount. Besides, this place is a block away from the Planet. It will make it easier for you and Charlie to settle in.”
“–Or for you to keep an eye on them.” Lois Lane walked right past Clark into the hotel room, and sat down on the edge of a table located in the room’s center.
“Lois, that’s not why–”
“Relax, Clark. I was just kidding.” Lois laughed. “I came here to talk to you and Linda, actually. We…I mean Power Girl and I…found this teenager today who seems to have fallen from the sky.”
“Fallen from the sky?” Linda smiled. “I did that once or twice.”
Lois frowned at Linda and continued. “She doesn’t have a scratch on her. She woke up about an hour ago, and has no idea who or where she is. And Clark…they can’t put an I.V. on her. The needle won’t go through her skin.”
Clark seemed to turn pale as Linda and Lois both stared at him. Even Charlie was staring at him, even though Charlie had just entered the room in the middle of the conversation. “You think she–”
“We don’t know anything yet.” Lois slid off of the table, and walked over to Clark. “Not until the folks at Star Labs get a look at her. At this time, she doesn’t even have a name. We can’t keep calling her ‘hey you’.”
“How about ‘Kara’?” Linda smiled as both Clark and Lois suddenly turned to look at her. “I always liked that name.”
“So do I.” Charlie smiled, proud of his interruption of the conversation.
Lois shrugged and looked back at Clark. “I guess it makes sense…since Power Girl found her first.”
Clark rubbed his chin as he stared at Lois for a few seconds, before turning his gaze to a smiling Linda. “So long as we agree. ‘Kara’ it is.”
As Clark and Lois left Linda’s room, closing the door behind them, they recognized Buzz leaning against the doorway of an adjacent room. He was staring as they walked past.
“It’s not polite to eavesdrop.” Clark stopped as he talked to Buzz, straightening his glasses a little.
“That name has meant nothing but trouble for Linda, you know.” Buzz turned to walk into his room, pausing at the last second to stare at Clark. “Trust me…it will again.”