Lara eyed the electronic board in her economics class as her professor added onto his notes on the screen, giving them example of the principle they were studying. She scribbled down the addendums in her binder, looking up with the rest of the class as the bell rang.
“Remember to read chapter five, summarize, define and answer the chapter questions and come with your own!” he reminded them as they packed up. “Also consider what you want to write your end of term paper on, the clock is ticking.” Lara shouldered her bag, and began walking toward the door. “Oh Lara, I finished your test,” the teacher said, handing it to her. Lara smiled at the “A” written in red ink at the top.
“Thanks Mr. Murdoch,” she said.
“Thank yourself, it was an excellent test,” he replied, taking a sip of coffee. “You better get to your next class.”
“All right, I’ll see you Thursday,” she said with a smile as she walked out of the room. She walked leisurely from the math and science part of the building towards the music and arts part of the building. This class hour was devoted every day to her piano practice, so she could afford to be a minute or two late, and then stay a minute or two into her lunch break. Still she hurried along as the teachers urged them to rush to their classes. The practice rooms were nearly full by the time she made it to the music building, with other students practicing their own instruments, but the music teacher nodded toward the auditorium.
“Go ahead, no one’s using the grand,” she said.
“Thanks Dr. Keller!” Lara exclaimed. Lara jogged up to the stage, and dropped her bag right in the center of it, rushing into the wings, to push the grand piano out to center stage. She hit its breaks to keep it from rolling anymore and then carried a stool in front of it so that she could properly sit while she played. After laying out the music on the piano’s stand, Lara braced her fingers against the keys and began to play.
Lara loved the piano. She loved the way the glossy keys felt against her fingers, she loved the range, the tone; everything about pianos made her giddy inside. When she had started teaching herself to play, she became mystified with getting better and better until she could play almost anything by ear. When she had started the school and chosen to go on the music track and the school told her she had to play for an hour a day, she couldn’t believe it was some kind of requirement to make her play more.
As she continued to play though, she felt a pair of eyes move onto her, watching her as her fingers spread themselves over the keys, to the point where she couldn’t focus anymore. As Mozart slipped away from her fingers, Lara looked up to see a man sitting in the audience. He was tall, clean shaven, and wore a nice suit and tie. He was also bald and looked very familiar.
“You know, most people might find that one difficult, but you play it flawlessly,” he told her. “Please, though don’t let me stop you.”
“I’m not sure you’re supposed to be in here, sir,” she replied. “Visitors are supposed to wear their passes at all times and—”
“Oh this ugly thing?” he asked holding up the yellow sticker visitors were made to wear to identify them to security. “I did not want to ruin an Armani; most people know who I am anyway. You seem to be a little baffled, however.”
“It seems a little inappropriate,” Lara said, crossing her arms. “An older man and a younger woman alone together. It gives me the chills.” She wasn’t lying about that. Something about this guy, something about the way he moved and talked something simultaneously made her shake with fear and anger.
“I suppose you are right to be afraid of me,” he said as he stood and walked the aisle, climbing onto the stage. Lara stood to greet him, more out mistrust than anything else. “Lex Luthor,” he said holding out his hand. “Please to meet you, Miss…?”
“Kent,” she replied, shaking his hand firmly. “Lara Kent.”
“Any relation to the reporter?” Luthor asked. It was a normal thing that people asked all the time once they heard her name. But the way he smirked when he asked it was like he already knew.
“Some,” she said. “It’s a little complicated.” His smile broadened a little bit at her flat tone.
“You don’t like me. Fair enough, it’s usually the bad eggs that do, so I’ll do what I came here to do and leave.”
“And what’s that?” Lara asked.
“When you get to talking to your mother, ask her who your father is,” Luthor said. “I’m sure you’ll be surprised. Have a pleasant day, Miss Kent.” Lara watched him walk all the way back up the aisle and out the auditorium doors.
“Lara are you in here?” The voice came from the green room entrance and Lara called back,
“On the stage, Reka,” she called back. Lara checked her watch as her friend Eureka bounded into the room. She had been practicing for almost the full hour before Luthor interrupted her. Ah how time flies.
“You ready for lunch?” Eureka asked.
“Yeah, sure, just grab the bench and follow me,” she said, kicking off all of the breaks on the piano’s wheels and rolling it back into the wings.
“You all right?” Eureka asked, following her with the bench.
“I’m not sure,” Lara said. “I feel a little sick to my stomach.” That was honest enough.
“Well, let’s get something light in there, and see how you do with it,” Eureka said linking arms with her. “And if you don’t puke, we’ll feed you more.” Lara pulled out her brightest smile for her friend as they strolled to the cafeteria. But the sinking feeling in her stomach did not go away with the food, or during her last two class periods of the day. And it only mounted as she debated the possibility of speeding into Metropolis, rather than taking the teleporter back to Mount Justice like she knew she should have. But somehow it felt right.
Making up the excuse of running an errand to Eureka (who noticed everything, and knew that was not the way home for Lara); she jogged to the nearest underground station and took the train to the stop that came closest to the Daily Planet. She walked into the building, trying to look discrete and less like she was sneaking in somewhere. There was a marque that told her where exactly she needed to look to find Clara Kent, and so she began climbing the steps to the top floor of the building. Then she realized there were probably too many, and went for the elevator.
When she made it to the top floor, the reporters bustled around everywhere, running to make copies, sending other people to do things for them. Lara wondered if she looked as lost as she felt. She moved forward into the building slowly, trying to avoid all of the people rushing by as she worked her way through the floor. She did not make it though as she bumped into a young man carrying photographs before she made it fifty feet from the elevator.
“Sorry!” she exclaimed, kneeling to help him pick them up.
“It’s all right, I wasn’t looking,” he said, shuffling the pictures together. She handed him the ones she had collected and when he looked up at her he stopped and stared at her.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“You look exactly like…” he trailed off, as if saying what he was thinking would hurt her. Instead he pointed through an open doorway toward the back of the room.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Yeah, is she in? I need to talk to her. It’s kind of an emergency.”
“Uh yeah,” he sputtered. “She’s in!”
“Thanks.” Lara smiled at him, and this time dodged quickly around everyone bustling through the newsroom. The door labeled “Clara Kent,” was open, and she heard a gruff voice nearly yelling,
“It was good Kent, but there was so much more you could have written on.”
“You told me to put a lid on it, Perry,” a much softer voice replied. “So I did.”
“Humph, next time, don’t follow my advice so closely. Follow up, and on your next assignment should be better, Kent.”
“Yes, sir,” the soft voice said. A man with peppery white hair strode from the office, and only took a minute to notice her.
“You an intern?” he asked.
“Not exactly,” she replied.
“Applications are down with reception,” he retorted.
“Um, sure, thanks,” she said. He glared at her, as if he was waiting for her to walk away. “I actually need to talk to her.” Lara pointed at Clara’s door.
“Well, time is money. Talk fast,” he replied waving at her. Lara entered the office, and almost slammed the door behind her.
“Perry I already told you—” Clara looked up to see Lara standing there and nearly lost her composure. “What are you doing here?” Superwoman hissed.
“I know you don’t want to see me,” Lara retorted. “I know that, but I need to tell you something really important.”
“Then tell me! But, has anyone seen you, recognized you?”
“Um, a boy holding some photographs, and the man outside,” Lara said. Clara’s eyes widened and she went to the door. Perry was still standing outside. She closed it, the glass reverberating in the pane. Clara took Lara by the hand and dragged her into the corner of the office.
“What is it you needed to tell me?” she asked, her voice still sotto.
“Lex Luthor came to my school today and talked to me,” Lara told her.
“What?” Clara asked. “Why on earth…never mind, you won’t know. What did he say?”
“Well, he tried to get me to like him at first. He complimented me on playing the piano and everything, and when realized I wasn’t going to fall for it, he asked me to ask you who my father was,” Lara said. “But I haven’t got a father. I’m you’re clone.” Clara’s face contorted into a frown.
“I have a feeling Lex is up to something,” she said. “We need to get you back to Mt. Justice and have Batman look over you.” She pursed her lips a few times before she said. “I’ll take you, it’ll be faster.” She took a coat from the hook in the corner and shoulder bag, similar to the one Lara had. She strode through the door, still bearing some of her Superwoman confidence, but in a much more mild form. Lara was amazed to watch her go from so powerful to meek and mild. “Perry, I need to take off a little early today, family emergency,” she said to the pepper haired man while digging in her bag.
“Uh huh. In my office before you go, Kent. I see your emergency loud and clear.” Clara looked up as Perry strode off like she had not quite been expecting that.
“Wait here,” she said to Lara. She entered an office further down the hall, closing the door behind her. The newsroom suddenly went a little quieter as the voices in the office raised up, mostly on Perry’s side, but still Lara had never heard Superwoman get angry before. It rattled her a little. The elevator dinged and out stepped a brunette in a crisp purple suit. She looked up from the paper she was reading and said,
“Who died?” It was as if everyone took a giant blink, before they went back to their own business. The door to the office opened, and Clara stormed out, taking Lara by the hand, and pulling her towards the elevator.
“Did…did I get you fired?” Lara asked.
“No, but you got me two weeks’ vacation,” Clara murmured. She sighed. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“Smallville,” the brunette woman called. “Just the woman I needed to see.”
“Not now, Lois,” Clara replied, as she and Lara entered the elevator. Clara pressed one of the buttons, only for Lois to press her hand up against the door to keep them from closing.
“It’ll take two seconds.”
“I’m on vacation: not now,” Clara replied. Lois huffed.
“All right, fine. Enjoy your time off, Smallville, and we’ll see who the paper belongs to when you get back.” As soon as the doors closed, Clara all but growled.
“That woman gets on my nerves sometimes.”