“Some men were here last night, Clark…”
Clark Kent spent hours tossing and turning in his bed as his mom’s voice echoed in his head over and over again. He finally gave up, opting instead to climb out of bed and stare out the window. As a Kryptonian, Clark never really needed as much sleep as he got – he slept mostly out of habit, and because it was so lonely at night with no one else around. He envied Bruce Wayne a little – at least he had something to do at night.
“Clark?” Lois sat up in the bed, squinting to see Clark standing in front of the open window. She sighed. “I knew that phone call was bad news. Spill it.”
“You remember Kara…that teenager Linda named–” Clark turned around and leaned against the windowsill, his head hanging as if it held the weight of the world on top of it. “Someone reported her. The adoption authorities visited Ma and Pa, asking where she came from. They want to take her away from them, Lois. Pa asked them to leave.”
“Oh, Clark.” Lois hugged him tightly. He returned the hug as best as he could without crushing her.
“It’s not fair, Lois.” Clark closed his eyes and sighed deeply, emotion weighing heavily in the sound of his breath. “Every day, I see reports of abusive parents, kids who are neglected. Ma and Pa are model parents…and the authorities want to take Kara away from them.”
Lois shook her head slowly as she stood next to Clark, staring out the window toward the city. “I wish I had some answers for you, Smallville. I wish I did.”
“Linda? Isn’t it a little chilly up here?” Charlie walked up behind Linda as she stood high atop the hotel’s roof, braving a stiff, icy early evening wind. He tossed a jacket over her shoulders.
“I was just thinking.” Linda sighed as she squinted toward the sun on the horizon. “Thinking about how little world of ours seems so small all of a sudden. And about how helpless I was on Otherverse Earth.”
“Everything turned out well, didn’t it?”
“It’s not that.” Linda walked over to the edge of the roof to look over the edge, to watch the cars driving by far below. “I used to be invaluable to them…unique. But this last time I was just kind of…there.”
“That’s what I do most of the time. I’m just sort of…there.” Charlie smiled as he watched Linda turn around to face him slowly. “But I’m happy just to be there, Linda. I know that you enjoy having me along.”
Linda laughed a little over the irony of what Charlie had just said. She had gone from a leader of sorts to more of a support role…but then again, Charlie was an excellent leader in his own right – even with no special talents at all.
“Let’s go inside where it’s warmer.” Charlie placed his left hand on Linda’s shoulder and led her toward the stairway. “I’ve always wanted to be a hero, Linda…but it has always seemed a goal unattainable by someone like me. Your current situation sort of…gives me hope.”
“I’m glad it gives someone hope.” Linda sighed as she opened her hotel room door. “For me it’s just…depressing.”
“They didn’t send you home, did they?”
Linda shook her head as she sat down in a chair next to the kitchenette, while Charlie dug through the refrigerator. “But I didn’t do much to help them, either.”
“Ah.” Charlie leaned against the kitchenette counter, waving a piece of French bread at Linda. She didn’t remember buying it, but she decided to reserve that question for later. “So it’s not the fact that you couldn’t help that bothers you. It’s the fact that you didn’t.”
“I–” Linda suddenly found herself speechless as she watched Charlie smile and begin piling cold cuts – which she also didn’t remember buying – into the French bread.
“I’m right, aren’t I?” Charlie leaned against the counter behind him and nodded as he took a bite out of the huge sandwich he had just created. He then reached back into the small refrigerator to remove a canned soft drink.
“Charlie…where did all of this food come from, anyway?”
“Oh.” Charlie laughed and opened the refrigerator wide to show Linda that it was stuffed full of food. “I picked up a few things while you were…out of town.”
Linda folded her arms. “And why didn’t you put them in your own refrigerator?”
“I did. These are things that wouldn’t fit in mine.”
“Oookay.” Linda slouched in her chair and rolled her eyes. She wisely decided not to ask any more questions about the food.
“Listen, Linda.” Charlie walked out of the kitchenette, and sat in another chair across from Linda. “Batman has been to places we can only imagine, right alongside Superman. But he’s no Superman…he’s just like me, only with more toys and better training. You, on the other hand–”
“I think I get the point, Charlie.” Linda stared at Charlie’s sandwich as he continued eating. “It’s just not easy going from being a big fish in Otherverse to a nobody–”
“Are you hungry, Linda? You keep staring at my sandwich.”
Linda laughed. “I guess I forgot to eat dinner. It does look good.”
“Let me make you one.” Charlie stood up and headed toward the kitchenette before Linda had time to do little more then open her mouth to protest. “And you’re weren’t a nobody in Otherverse, or they would have sent you home. The fact that they didn’t shows that they trusted in your abilities.”
“Even Sharon Holmes helped more then I did.” Linda leaned back in her chair again and sighed. “I should be more like her.”
“Do you think we should call Clark? Or Linda?” Martha Kent wrung her hands nervously as she stood on the sidewalk, her eyes looking up to the roof of the house. Sitting on the roof was the teen-aged Kara. She overheard Jonathan’s conversation with the Sheriff moments earlier – and learned that the Kents were in danger of going to jail over her. She had been sitting on the roof, head hanging, since then.
Jonathan shook his head slowly. “No, not yet. Let her work this out. She’s been through a lot.”
“This makes me sick, Jonathan. Just sick.” Martha took a deep breath to calm herself. “You’re right. She has been through a lot. And yet, these…state folks want to put her through more! They want to take her away, send her to another strange place.”
Jonathan stared into Martha’s eyes for several seconds before smiling softly. “We’ll do what we can, Martha. We’ll give her a home as long as we’re able. Then…she’s in God’s hands.”
Kara stared down from the roof as she watched Martha rest her head on Jonathan’s shoulder and begin sobbing. They were like parents to her, the only ones she could remember. They cared for her, gave her food and love…and all she brought them was pain and suffering. She was smart enough to know that sooner or later, the state would win. Authorities would come in the middle of the night to take her away.
She stood up as she thought about…Clark. He was so much more powerful then Jonathan, Martha…probably the entire town combined. Kara knew that she could fly – she found that out by accident. But could she…do more?
As Martha and Jonathan entered the house, Kara decided to test her theory. She dropped to the ground quickly, and began looking around. Her target became obvious – the car parked in the driveway. She reached under the driver’s side of the car with both hands, and took a deep breath – and before she knew it, she had lifted the entire car over her head, effortlessly. Unfortunately, she had to lower it quickly – since the car was still much larger then herself, it was too difficult to maintain balance.
Kara took a couple of steps back and began breathing faster as she stared at the car. She nearly lifted it over her head! And without even damaging it! “I must tell Ma and Pa–”
She raced in through the front door, and hugged Martha and Jonathan tightly as they stood in the kitchen. She was talking fast, almost too fast for the two of them to understand, as she explained her feat of lifting the car. She hypothesized that perhaps she was as strong as Clark. But the last sentence from her mouth was the one which concerned the Kents most – “They can never take me away now.”
As Kara left the room, Martha stared at Jonathan with a serious, worried expression. Jonathan sighed. He knew what she was thinking – the same thing he was. “It’s time to call Clark.”
“Hey, Linda…I have a paying gig–” Charlie had left quickly to ‘run an errand’ for a short time after feeding Linda a sandwich – an errand which he knew would surprise her when he returned. He froze as soon as he entered Linda’s kitchen, holding an envelope. Buzz was sitting at her kitchen table, slowly drinking a root beer. “Uh…Linda?”
“She’s in the loo.” Buzz answered without bothering to look behind him at the doorway to the dining room. Unfortunately, Linda was standing there – and she promptly swatted the back of his head.
“He was fired this morning…again.” Linda led Charlie into the living room and sat down on the couch. “That’s three jobs so far. He just can’t learn to keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble.”
“What kind of jobs?” Charlie tossed the folder he was holding in his hand onto the coffee table and sat down next to Linda.
“First job, at one of those mailbox and packing places. He wraps a rambunctious five year old boy in a cardboard box, and labels it ‘Abu Dhabi’.”
Charlie’s attempt at stifling his laughter was failing miserably, earning him a quick frown from Linda. “That is sort of funny.”
“I guess it is…kind of. But the poor kid ended up in the back of a delivery truck before they realized what happened.”
Charlie laughed out loud this time, struggling to calm himself down so he could hear the rest. “What was the second job?”
“He tried working in an office store warehouse. Only he felt that staging accidents was more fun then doing work. He called them ‘practical jokes’.”
“No…That’s not really funny.” Charlie shook his head. “Sometimes Buzz has a sense of humor, but then he just goes too far.”
“Wait till you hear the third one.” Linda smiled and leaned back as she reached for a small piece of paper on the side table and handed it to Charlie. “Lexcorp tour guide. He called Lex Luthor ‘Uncle Fester’ on the first day. This letter says that–”
“He’s not allowed to set foot on Lexcorp property.” Charlie chuckled a little as he stared at the letter. “I would have given anything to see Lex Luthor’s face. What’s he doing here, anyway?”
“Looking for food. Same as you always do.” Linda reached toward the folder sitting on the coffee table. “So…what’s this?”
Charlie smiled. “A little something from Lex Luthor’s office. It details his plans to sell advanced weapons to that other Earth you visited. He wants to profit from the constant war zone.”
“He wouldn’t.” Linda shook her head slowly. “He…can’t. They’d annihilate each other.”
“That’s why Luthor’s planning to sell to both sides.” Charlie slipped a single piece of paper out of the folder and handed it to Linda. “He wants the balance of power to stay equal, but for both sides to start building their armament…which would–”
“Make him a lot of money, I know.” Linda sighed loudly and stood up to begin pacing the room. “But how is this…investigation a paying job?”
“Luthor has a habit of leaving skeletons in his closet.” Charlie stood up to intercept Linda in the middle of the living room and hand her another piece of paper. “This skeleton is named Tatsuo Takamura. Ring a bell?”
Linda nodded and smiled as she began reading the letter Charlie handed her. “The Pocket Protector guy. Luthor put him in a wheelchair.”
“And he wants revenge. He wants to finally discredit Luthor.” Charlie took back the pieces of paper and stuffed them back into the envelope. “He offered us money to find the evidence for him.”
“Okay…But I’d like to offer a suggestion.” Linda reached behind her to snatch a newspaper’s classified ads left on the couch, handing it to Charlie quickly. “Can we get an office, so Luthor’s henchmen don’t blow up this nice hotel to scare us?”
“Good idea…But we would have no one to take phone–”
Charlie suddenly paused as an idea dawned on him, about the same time as it dawned on Linda. They both turned to face the kitchen doorway, where Buzz sat at the table munching on pretzels. They kept staring until Buzz turned around to look at them.
“I…don’t know.” Clark sighed and slowly sat down at the kitchen table. “She seems to be maturing…and learning…faster then I anticipated. But she doesn’t seem too dangerous–”
“Until she tries to defend us, Clark.” Jonathan stood up and began pacing around the room slowly. “Then people could be hurt. Even if she simply resists them. And Martha and I could be–”
“I know, Pa. I know.” Clark sighed and looked down at the table as his fingers began unconsciously playing with the salt shaker. “Did you…talk to her?”
Jonathan nodded. “I did. Martha did as well. But she’s determined to help. She means well, Clark…but sometimes, even the most well-meaning gestures–”
“Pa, I think it’s time I took her to Metropolis. It’ll be tough on Lois and I, but I think she’ll learn a lot.” Clark stood up and held out his hand to stop Jonathan as soon as he opened his mouth to speak. “And I don’t even have to ask Lois…it was her idea. She said she wished she could help more. She has no idea how much she has.”
Clark and Jonathan stared at each other for a few seconds as they stared at each other, their faces dropping from the weight of the moment. As Clark gripped his Pa’s fragile hand, a realization came over him – his Ma and Pa, always law abiding citizens, were willing to risk jail to protect a young stranger. They were the parents he grew up with…always on the side of right. And to this day, he was a better person for it.
The handshake slowed, quickly changing to a hug as another realization took hold – the realization that the world wasn’t at all appreciative of people who had such a strong sense of what’s right. That, specifically in this case…the right had become a wrong. And that in itself, Clark noted, was a tragedy.
“You could do better in a bloody rubbish heap.” Buzz kicked an empty plastic pencil canister lying on the floor of an empty office as he entered ahead of Linda and Charlie. The office seemed smaller then the ad depicted, and needed some cleaning.
“Buzz…you have no imagination whatsoever.” Linda shook her head as she peeked into each of the two small rooms off of the main one. The third-floor office consisted of three rooms – a larger room next to the entrance, and two smaller rooms side by side to the rear. Each one of the rooms had a single window, and a small closet was on one wall of the largest room. “I…think I can work with this.”
“I hope so.” Charlie snapped a tape measure off of his belt and started measuring the rooms quickly. “Because it’s the only office we can afford that actually features a lift in the building.”
Linda stood and watched as Charlie measured the length, then the width, and height of each room. He noted them on a piece of paper, and even noted the location and size of the windows. “What are you doing, anyway?”
“I need a floor plan, so I can order furniture.”
Buzz sat down on the floor and leaned against the outside wall, below the window. “As long as you’re ordering it. I’ve seen Linda’s furniture–”
“Don’t even think about finishing that sentence!” Linda pointed a finger at Buzz angrily as she watched a grin form on his face. She knew he said that on purpose just to upset her.
Linda turned as she heard the sound of footsteps in the hallway outside the left-open door of the office. She headed toward the door just in time to see Clark Kent – and with him was a shorter, blond teenager…the one Linda remembered calling ‘Kara’.
“What’s going on, Clark? I thought she was supposed to be in Smallville?” Linda watched Clark’s expression change to a frown as the words left her mouth. And his eyes…they were holding back pain and sadness. “What’s wrong?”
Clark motioned for Linda to follow him as he stepped into one of the two rear rooms of the office, leaving Kara in the care of Charlie and Buzz. He closed the door behind him quietly, pausing for a few seconds as if to emphasize the importance of what he was about to say. “Linda…the state adoption authorities found out about Kara. They visited Ma and Pa–”
“Oh my God–” Linda bit her lip and turned to look out the window. Her heart was beating quickly – what would they do with Kara? They couldn’t keep her in Smallville, and Linda knew she was ill-prepared to look after a teenager. “What are you going to do?”
“I–” Clark hung his head as the guilt of what he had done began to weigh on him heavily. He remembered his short phone call to Bruce Wayne, the discussion about certain ‘paperwork’. He remembered Bruce’s voice at the other end, reassuring him that everything would be ‘taken care of’. But it was little reassurance to Clark – Superman, the one person who taught respect for the law and justice, had to break those very laws to save one teenager. “I talked to Bruce. He’s going to…help.”
“Clark–” Linda stood for several seconds, watching Clark hang his head in shame at the sound of his own words. A smile began to creep onto her face – through and through, Clark was still a simple farm boy, expecting to be punished for associating with ‘the bad kid’ – Bruce. She walked closer to him, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder gently. “You did the right thing. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Clark sighed loudly. “Pa and Lois told me the same thing…but I just feel so guilty.”
“You were adopted too, Clark. Wouldn’t you have wanted your Ma and Pa to do the same for you? You didn’t do this for yourself, you did it for Kara, for your Ma and Pa…even Lois. You’ve put yourself at risk to help someone else. It’s what you do best, Clark. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.”
Clark nodded slowly and smiled at Linda. “You really should consider motivational speaking, Linda.”
Linda laughed as her eyes watched the door behind Clark open slowly. A head peeked around the corner slowly – it was Kara. “Is Buzz bothering you?”
“Not anymore.” Kara smiled mischievously as Linda quickly followed her into the entry room of the office, wondering exactly what she had done to Buzz.
Buzz was sitting on the floor, wrapped in scotch tape from his stomach up to his neck. He looked like some sort a transparent mummy. Linda couldn’t help but laugh as she saw him sitting there with a frown on his face.
“Looks like Kara missed her ‘mummy’.” Charlie folded his arms and smiled at his own joke as Linda, Kara, and even Clark began laughing out loud.
“Could you hyenas let me out of this?” Buzz squirmed as Linda began unwrapping him slowly, trying to suppress her urge to laugh at him some more.
“No…Let me.” Kara stepped toward Buzz, as her eyes began to glow red-orange. A look of dread appeared on Buzz’ face briefly before a thin line suddenly melted across the strips of tape, releasing him. She giggled a little bit at Buzz’ display of fear as Linda helped him to his feet.
Clark grabbed Kara’s arm and turned her around quickly. “Kara, you shouldn’t–”
“I like her already.” Charlie interrupted Clark, handing Kara the tape measure as he paused to write down more measurements on his piece of paper. “Did anyone give her a last name yet? We can’t just have everyone call her ‘Kara’. She’s not really famous enough not to have a last name.”
“Kent. In honor of Ma and Pa taking her in, and everything they went through for it.” Clark looked around the room. He spoke impulsively from his heart, unsure if anyone else would agree – but as he looked from one person to the next, he saw nods from everyone…except Buzz. Clark turned to Kara and looked down at her. “Kara Kent. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”
“It sounds a little like ‘Lois Lane’…but it’s all good.” Kara smiled as Clark turned to Linda and frowned at her briefly. Linda just shrugged – just about confirming to him that she was responsible for teaching Kara a few things.
“What do you think of the office, Kara?” Charlie reached his hand out as Kara handed him his tape measure back. He looked over at Clark, who had already started to roll his eyes in anticipation of more slang – he knew very well that Charlie was prompting it on purpose.
Lex Luthor leaned back in his desk chair, eagerly anticipating the entrance of a man who had once sworn revenge against him. But like all great businessmen, he had accepted Luthor as his superior and decided to move past any petty need for revenge. The door slid open as the man rolled into the room in a wheelchair – it was Tatsao Takamura.
“Have a seat, Mr. Takamura.” Luthor smiled, well aware that his humor was in bad taste – but it also served as a reminder to Takamura what happened the last time he crossed Luthor’s path. “Our little…joint venture is working nicely, isn’t it?”
Takamura sighed. “I just wish we had taken away her sense of self determination. To this moment, we still can’t find her.”
“Nonsense. That’s part of her charm.” Luthor stood up and stepped over to his office window, looking high above the sparkling city of Metropolis. “In time we will find her. When we do, we will simply…remind her that her body is my property.”
“Hm.” Luthor walked back to his desk and sat down in the chair, leaning back once again. “I assume hers is the only body your researchers produced?”
Takamura nodded. “Essence projects are expensive, Mr. Luthor. We only develop it when we have a donor to work with. Brains don’t grow on trees, you know.”
“Very good.” Luthor rotated his chair to stare outside through the window again. “See yourself out, Mr. Takamura. We’ll meet again at the usual time.”
Takamura paused for several seconds before sighing and rolling his wheelchair toward the door. The sigh was meant for Luthor to hear, an expression of his displeasure at Luthor treating him, a peer in the business world, like yet another employee or servant. But the painful truth, he realized as he left Luthor’s office, was that Luthor simply didn’t care.
“Ever heard of a bloody taxi?” Buzz grumbled to himself as he followed Clark, Linda, Charlie, and the teenage Kara along the sidewalk to the Daily Planet. None of them realized that Clark and Kara had walked the distance between his workplace and Linda and Charlie’s new office – they assumed he had driven or taken a cab.
“Walking is refreshing. Helps work out stress.” Clark smiled as he turned to see Buzz’ reaction – but Buzz wasn’t looking at him, he stopped to look at a storefront.
Charlie stopped to see where Buzz was staring. It was a small comic book store with a ‘help wanted’ sign in the window. “A comic shop? You can’t be serious.”
“No…it’s a great idea.” Linda leaned against the window to get a look through the window. “I mean, where else can Buzz be as rude as he wants without getting fired–”
“Linda?” Clark froze suddenly as his peripheral vision caught Linda and Buzz turn and head into the comic store. He followed quickly as Kara and Charlie waited outside. “Linda, why are we stopping here?”
Without a word, Linda pointed to a blonde woman in a super-hero costume and cape sitting behind a table. Her eyes were a glasslike color, her costume was mostly black with a white diamond shape across the chest and white stripes along the arms, legs, and boots. Linda had entered the store after seeing the woman through the front window – she remembered her from her visit to Otherverse Earth. It was Lara Night…in Metropolis?
As Linda approached the table slowly, watching a line of people standing in front of it, she began to realize that she can’t simply start talking to Lara. If Lara was famous somehow, she wouldn’t be able to explain how she knew her. Luckily, the problem seemed to solve itself.
“Linda!” Lara smiled as her strange, transparent-looking eyes turned toward Linda. She raised her hand and waved Linda over to the table as she pulled a nearby chair closer. Linda reluctantly accepted the offer, eyeing the crowd waiting on the other side of the table as she sat down.
“Uh…you’re here on business?”
Lara laughed. “You always wondered what I do with my civilian life, didn’t you? Well…sometimes I make personal appearances, sign autographs.”
“And…people know you?”
“Usually, no.” Lara shook her head and smiled. “But when these guys see a woman signing autographs in a super-hero costume…they tend not to ask too many questions.”
“Who’re you supposed to be? Batgirl?” One of the store customers, a slightly nervous-looking man holding a stack of comics, leaned over the table to take a closer look at Linda.
Linda stared angrily at the man, trying to stifle a laugh. “Uh…no. Not even close.”
“Wonder Girl? Troia? No, wait…don’t tell me…Black Canary!”
Lara laughed as Linda rolled her eyes and turned away from the man. “What is the matter with these people?”
“Give them a break, Linda.” Lara shrugged as she took one of the man’s comics and signed it quickly. “Some of these people think comic books are their life. For a few them, the lines between reality and fiction have blurred to the point where they don’t know who’s real and who’s not. But as long as it gives them happiness–”
“I understand.” Linda nodded. “You enjoy making people happy.”
“Exactly.” Lara stared at the nervous man as he continued to stand over the table, as if he were waiting for something else. “Yes?”
The man stood wringing his hands nervously for a few seconds, squinting as if his mind were searching for the right words, or maybe some courage. “If you really want to make me happy…how about dinner?”
“Sorry.” Lara tried her best to keep a straight face as she answered. But Linda was far less controlled – she began laughing out loud. “It wouldn’t be fair to the other customers.”
The man seemed genuinely hurt as he sighed and turned away from the table, shuffling slowly toward the cash register. Linda watched as he placed his comics on the counter and removed his wallet, glancing back at her and Lara sadly as he removed a credit card.
Linda began to feel sorry for the guy. She put herself in his place for a moment – she remembered all of the times she had been laughed at by the citizens of Metropolis when she first appeared as Supergirl in her new costume. Her own spirit wouldn’t die…and yet she so readily crushed someone else’s.
“I know what you’re thinking.” Lara smiled knowingly as she watched Linda’s expression become serious. For a change, she didn’t have to be a mind reader to understand Linda’s thoughts – her sudden look of guilt and nervous shifting gave it away. “Go ahead. Make his day.”
A breeze blew through the comic store, ruffling a few of the magazine displays – an event which was slightly unusual, but went virtually unnoticed by the crowd, interested only in purchasing comics and talking to Lara. A breeze that, if anyone would have paid attention, was a subtle announcement of a visitor from their wildest dreams come alive.
The man buying comics at the counter turned around briefly as he felt the sudden gust of wind move past him – he was curious to be sure, but completely unaware of who he was about to meet. As a dream of his suddenly took form before him, he let his wallet slip through his fingers to the floor. “My God. S-Supergirl. Wow.”
“I pronounce it with only one ‘S’, but that’s close enough.” Linda smiled a little as she watched the man’s eyes move along her white tee-shirt and blue skirt toward her red boots, then back to her face. It made her feel a little nervous about her new costume every time somebody did that. “And your name is?”
“Kevin.” The man began fidgeting nervously as he completely ignored the cashier trying to hand him back his credit card. His smile was a mixture of elation and confusion – he was happy, but still unsure if he was dreaming. “I’m…uh…in town for a convention.”
“Pleased to meet you, Kevin.” Linda gripped his hand quickly with her gloved hand and shook it, careful to demonstrate her strength to him without hurting him. “Would you like me to sign something for…?”
Before Linda could finish her sentence, the man produced a black permanent marker from his pocket and handed it to her with one of the comics he had just bought. She took the book and paused looked at it before signing, noting the nervous look from Kevin as she did. She too was a little shocked at what she saw – and yet somehow, she expected it.
“Cute.” Linda signed quickly, flashing Kevin another smile before handing the book back to him. “Just don’t believe everything you read.”
“Thank you so much. You have no idea how big a fan I am.” Kevin shook Linda’s hand again before picking up his comics and wallet, and raced out of the store. Linda waved as he left, guessing that he was in a hurry to tell his friends what happened to him that day.
“Did you see the book he handed me?”
Lara began nodding before Linda even finished her sentence. “What did you expect?”
Linda turned around as she felt a tap on her shoulder – it was Buzz. “Let me guess…this place is giving you the creeps, and you want to leave?”
Buzz shook his head no. “They’ve hired me. I start tomorrow.”
“You, luv.” Buzz smiled and walked past Linda toward the door. “I told them that I know you.”
“This is inexcusable, Mercy.” Luthor stood up from his desk chair calmly – almost too calmly – and stepped over to the window of his office. Mercy immediately recognized that as a sign of Luthor’s hidden anger. “How could you simply allow her to vanish?”
Mercy simply bowed her head sadly in response. She knew that any answer she could give Luthor would just sound like an excuse to him. He was never willing to listen – he gave orders, made other people’s fates. He never accepted it when fate touched him in turn.
“So far…we know that Power Girl rescued the girl in Metropolis. She abruptly left the hospital, and we were unable to track her until she turned up…in Smallville Kansas?”
After taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, Mercy finally decided to volunteer a little information. “I know it seems strange, Lex. But there has to be a reason. There has to be–”
“A connection. Yes, I know. But what is it? Where was she sighted in Smallville?”
“She was spotted by a neighbor of–” Mercy gasped as she suddenly made a connection. “Oh my God. The Kents! That means…Clark Kent?”
“No.” Luthor shook his head and paced around his office slowly. “He’s not cunning enough. But his wife, on the other hand…”
“Lois Lane. Of course.” Mercy clenched her fists, causing the leather gloves she wore to creak a little. “Want me to…have a little chat with her?”
“That won’t be necessary. She’s a reporter, spilling information is in her nature.” Luthor turned away from the window and leaned over his desk, a confident smile on his face. He looked like a man who had just solved the mysteries of the universe in his mind. “We’re wasting our time searching for the girl. We need her to come to us.”
“And how do we do that, Lex?”
Luthor removed a large wad of cash from his desk drawer, tossing it at Mercy almost carelessly. “Visit the Kents. See that they tell you everything they know.”
With those words, Luthor sat down at his desk and began working as usual – his way of signalling that the conversation had come to an end. Mercy looked down at the wad of cash in her hands. Visit the Kents? She began to worry about just how far she was supposed to go in obtaining information from them.
As she turned to leave the office, she closed her eyes for a second, remembering the red folder she once handed to Charlie – a little insurance. Those words sent a chill down her spine as a thought occurred to her…she may actually need it.