“Near my school,” Lara replied. “It’s just off of fifth and Compton.” Clara turned to look at her, her brows furrowed behind the large glasses.
“You go to school here, in Metropolis?” Clara asked.
“I just liked the school, all right?” Lara huffed. “I like the way they do things.”
“I’m…I’m just surprised. And well, Batman hadn’t told me you started going to school. How long have you been going?”
“Since after winter break,” Lara said. “I was getting bored with homeschool, and Black Canary and I didn’t really agree about what to study, so once he created a paper trail for me, Batman told me to start looking at schools.”
“And why was he so eager to create a paper trail for you?” Clara asked.
“So I could get a library card,” Lara said with a shrug. “I read too much, and he was getting tired of giving me money to buy books.” Clara laughed.
“Trust me, Batman can buy a lot more books than you would think.” Lara suspected that Superwoman knew Batman’s secret identity, but said nothing about it. The elevator staid quiet as the numbers clicked down. Finally the door opened to the first floor, and Clara strode out, Lara almost struggling to keep up with her. When they were out of the building, Lara followed Clara onto the street, not sure what the woman was planning as her eyes darted from one side of the street to the other.
“Why did your boss get mad at you?” Lara finally asked. Clara pursed her lips and glanced sideways at the girl.
“He saw the resemblance between us,” Clara said. “Perry‘s a pretty observant man when he wants to be. He thinks I had you when I was young and we’re having trouble reconnecting.” Lara scrunched up her face.
“I don’t think I understand.” Superwoman sighed,
“Do you know what when women have babies at a young age, they might give them up for adoption?”
“Yes,” Lara replied.
“I would have had you when I was just finishing up high school,” Clara explained. “Perry thinks that I gave you up for adoption and that you found me somehow and wanted to talk to me. I tried telling him that it was more complicated than it seemed, but he just made me take more time off to work it out with you.”
“You don’t look so old,” Lara told her. Superwoman snorted and smiled.
“Thanks. Oh, here we go.” Clara pulled her off into an alley way. “I’ll want to be in costume for when we go to Mt. Justice anyway, but if I’m going to speed us to this teleporter, it’s a good idea too. Speaking of costumes, how did you know who I was?” In a flash, she was in her Superwoman costume, her other clothes nowhere to be seen.
“Oh, well, Batman said my family name was Kent, and then Robin and the others put the pieces together later,” Lara said. “Black Canary never said anything when I asked her, but she looked shocked enough that I thought I was right, and then when I looked up your picture.” Superwoman tucked a piece of Lara’s hair behind her ear.
“We do look enough alike, even without the glasses. Ready?” Superwoman held her tight, and when Lara nodded, she speed off and a moment later they were in front of the phone booth that served as the transporter. “Do you have your costume on you?”
“Batman doesn’t like it when I bring it to school,” Lara said. “He’s afraid I’ll slip up, or go running off if I get the opportunity.” She slid open the booth’s door and hit five eight eight four two three.
“Justice,” Clara said.
“It was Robin and KF’s idea,” Lara explained. “They said they got it from Harry Potter.”
“Welcome, recognized user, S1, Kryptongirl. Welcome recognized user, A1, Superwoman.”
“Teleport,” Lara commanded.
“Teleporting, recognized user, S1 Kryptongirl.” Lara walked into the portal and came out on the other end at Mt. Justice.
“You’re late,” Batman told her, not even looking up from the console where he was working.
“Teleporting recognized user, A1, Superwoman.” That did make Batman look up as Superwoman stepped through the transporter.
“We need to talk,” Superwoman said. Batman narrowed his eyes.
“Don’t get angry with her. Kryptongirl received a visitor at school today, and was told to take a message to me. Luthor contacted her directly, Batman.” Batman made no visible facial adjustments, but turned to Lara.
“You’ve debriefed Superwoman.”
“Yes, Batman,” Lara replied.
“Go and get changed and start your homework,” Batman ordered. Lara trudged off without really thinking, leaving Batman and Superwoman to talk. She slunk into her room, knocking over a stack of books as she went. Lara huffed, but she could pick them up later. She slid out of her blouse and knee length skirt, flinging her glasses onto her dressing table and pulled on her tee-shirt emblazoned with the s-shield, a pair of jeans, and her boots. She had just finished lacing them up when there came a knock at the door.
“Come in!” she called. Kaldur entered and crossed his arms at her. “What?”
“I assume you would know why Superwoman is here at Mt. Justice, when she hardly ever comes?” Kaldur said. Lara huffed at him, and Kaldur shrank at his words. “I did not mean anything by it, Lara, I was simply curious.”
“I received a visit from Lex Luthor at school today. I communicated with Superwoman accordingly, and she is now discussing the situation with Batman,” Lara reported, as she began unpinning her hair.
“Lara, I have observed that you…do not care for Superwoman’s company,” Kaldur began as he watched her, sitting at her dressing table. “Why did you go to her, instead of Black Canary, or Batman?” Lara’s shoulders slumped.
“It was something Luthor said to me,” Lara admitted.
“He told you speak with Superwoman?”
“No,” Lara said, running a brush through her hair. She reached for her make up remover, and poured some onto a rag. “He said to ask my mother who my father was. And even though Superwoman doesn’t want to be my mother, she’s the closest thing I’ve got to one, so I figured I should ask her. And Luthor is her nemesis after all.” Lara finished removing the light makeup from her face and looked to Kaldur.
“Luthor is the nemesis to all, it would seem,” he replied. “Do you believe you did right?”
“Then I shall not question your choices. Not even why you should choose to paint your face.” Lara smiled.
“I didn’t like it at first either, but most all of the female supers do when they aren’t in costume.”
“I like you the way you are,” Kaldur said, brushing a piece of hair behind her ear. Lara smiled at him, but batted his hand away. “How are your studies?”
“Well. Speaking of them, Batman wanted me to get started on my homework.”
“Do you wish me to leave?” Kaldur asked.
“No, you can stay. You don’t distract me like the others do sometimes.” That made Kaldur smile a little at her, and he settled on her rumpled, but made bed, and selected a book from one of her large piles to read, while Lara pulled out some of her text books and began to do the same. She had finished reading the chapter for economics, and had begun answering the questions, when Superwoman appeared in her still open doorway. She wrapped against the frame to get their attention, and both looked up at her.
“Aqualad, would you excuse us? I need to speak to Kryptongirl alone.”
“That would depend on what Kryptongirl wants, Superwoman,” Kaldur replied.
“It’s all right, Kaldur’ahm, I’ll be fine.” Kaldur nodded and held up his book.
“May I take this with me?”
“Yes, you may,” Lara replied. He nodded, and looked Superwoman in the eye one last time before he exited the room and closed the door behind him.
“He cares for you and respects you a great deal,” Superwoman observed.
“It’s why he leads the team,” Lara said. “Because he cares for us. And because he is the most levelheaded and rounded of the group.”
“I think he cares for you in another way, Kryptongirl,” Superwoman replied, softly.
“You can sit down if you want,” Lara told her with a shrug. “And, you don’t have to call me Kryptongirl when we’re at Mt. Justice. You may call me by my civilian name.” Superwoman settled on the bed, where Kaldur had been a moment before, and Lara noticed her face looked softer. More how she looked after a crisis had been averted, or when she was living as Clara Kent.
“And what name did you pick for yourself?” she asked.
“Lara,” she replied. Superwoman started.
“What?” she asked.
“It’s short for Larisa, but I go by Lara,” Lara explained. “I picked Martha as my middle name, because Batman said it was the name of your Earth mother. Did I do something wrong?”
“Oh, now, Kryptongirl, Lara it’s just…” Superwoman looked down at the floor for a moment and then back to her. “Not many no this, not even Batman, but Lara was the name of my Kryptonian mother. And you picked Martha too, it’s just…You have so much of me in you, and I’ve been a terrible mother, haven’t I?”
“I probably don’t make it easy,” Lara replied softly.
“I didn’t make it easy for my parents sometimes, but they were still wonderful to me,” she said. “I think they’ll be ashamed of me when I tell them what I’ve done. Oh Lara…could I give you a hug?” Lara had not been hugged that many times before (except, perhaps by Eureka, who had a penchant for giving hugs when she would not see you for more than twelve hours, and when you returned after such a length), but she saw something in Superwoman’s eyes that man her hot and cold at the same time on the inside, and so she reached out her arms. Superwoman took her, and half embraced and half cradled her in her arms. And they staid like that for a time, until Superwoman started again, and Batman was in the door way.
“I take it this means that you haven’t told her the plan?” he asked.
“I…I was getting to it,” Superwoman retorted. Batman gave a sharper inhalation of air, which Lara had come to interpret as his way of snorting. “Lara, Batman and I have discussed what Luthor’s visit to you might mean, and we think it might be best if we pull you out of school for an early spring break.”
“It’s only Tuesday,” Lara replied blinking.
“Yes, we know, but Batman says you’re doing really well in school, and where I’m taking you, I think you’ll have plenty of time to study and get your homework done.”
“When would we come back?” Lara asked.
“Probably next week around this time, if there’s an all clear and Lex doesn’t show any more special interest in you,” Superwoman replied. “But only if that. Why?”
“My friend Eureka wanted me to drive to New York with her for a day trip,” Lara explained. “I hadn’t been able to talk to Batman yet, but Canary said it should be all right as long as there weren’t any missions. She was thinking about doing it Thursday or Friday next week.” Superwoman and Batman exchanged a look. “She’s a perfectly nice girl with nothing suspicious about her!”
“What’s her full name?” Batman asked.
“Eureka Avalon Jones. Her dads are Col. Samuel Jones and Dr. Abraham Jones. She has a brother her age named Maverick, and they live in Metropolis. Col. Jones does government work that they can’t talk about and Dr. Jones teaches American history at Met U,” Lara reported.