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Multiple crossover; DC Movieverse / NCIS / West Wing / probably more to come. See the first chapter for disclaimers etc.
by Marcus L. Rowland
Long Beach, California, Monday 6.15 PM PST
Dressed as Karen, Kara jogged into the boarding house, heard the murmur of a TV from the landlady’s office, and ducked in to ask “Hi! Any letters for me, Mrs. Grady?” She wasn’t expecting anything, but it was something a normal person might do.
The landlady checked a rack of pigeon-holes, “No, no mail,” and went on “You’ve been here five days, and I don’t think you’ve eaten more than two breakfasts. That’s good food going to waste.”
“Sorry about that, things are just crazy right now. Gotta dash!” Kara ran for the stairs, keeping her speed down to human norms.
Behind her Mrs. Grady shouted “Don’t expect a refund!” and turned back to the TV.
Upstairs she shook her hair loose, took a quick shower, changed to clothes that fitted her ‘Kryptonian who doesn’t quite understand human fashions’ look, scanned the house to make sure that nobody was in a position to see her, and ran down and out again, shutting the door loudly enough to ensure that nobody could possibly think she’d flown off. There was a blind spot a few yards down the road, concealed from view by trees, a wall, and an advertising sign, and she used it to blur to super-speed and get into the air. Within five minutes of her arrival she was far out over the Pacific, curving east then north towards the Fortress, made a quick stop there, then headed south again towards Washington.
Washington, 9.28 PM EST
Abby opened the door and said “Oh! Oh, you came.” There was an odd note to her voice.
“I said I would if I could. Is something wrong?”
“It’s stupid,” said Abby.
“Have I done something to upset you?”
“It’s just… are you in love with Tony?”
“Am I…? No, I don’t think so. Why?”
“It’s really stupid… I said that I thought there might be a little spark between the two of you, and Gibbs said that if there was Tony might not be able to keep his job because you’re not an American citizen, and Tony really loves working here so I got worried that it might be…”
“Don’t worry,” said Kara. “It’s not going to happen.”
“So what’s wrong with Tony?” Abby asked sharply.
“I don’t know enough about him to know if there’s anything wrong. I’ve been around him for about five hours, how should I know?”
“Okay, forget it then, I’m just being silly. Come inside.”
“Thank you. Is there anyone here I don’t know?”
“There’s Ducky, he’s our pathologist, and Tim McGee, he’s a computer geek and used to be on our team, Gibbs is with a marine, I think you know her, she’s heading back to the Seahawk too, and Jimmy Palmer who works with Ducky, and Butch.”
“Tim’s dog, you’ll love him. Leave your coat on the hook.”
“Do they all know who I am?”
“Only the ones you’ve met, but the others will probably guess.”
“Okay. Can we pretend I’m just your friend Kara, and ignore the rest? It’s Tony’s party; I don’t want to disrupt it.”
“Oh, and Kal-El said it’s customary to bring gifts. I hope that this is all right?” She held up an oddly-shaped small bottle of clear liquid.
“Oh wow, what is that?”
“It’s a Kryptonian drink; the best replica the Fortress can make anyway. The name doesn’t translate well. Originally it was made from crushed seed pods, fermented then distilled. It should be safe for you to drink.”
“What does it taste like?”
“I don’t have anything to compare it to,” said Kara, shrugging, “I was too young to drink alcohol the last time I was here so I don’t know what Earth drinks are like. I tried a little sip when I lived in Argo City, it was nice but it made me giggly.”
“Come inside and mingle,” said Abby, “or everyone will be wondering where I’ve got to.”
“Everyone,” shouted Abby, as they went inside, “It’s Kara.” Tony seemed surprised, Gibbs less so. As Kara had half-expected, Gibbs’ date was Corpsman Cook. She smiled as she recognised Kara. At the back of the room two men Kara didn’t recognize, presumably McGee and Palmer, were playing some sort of computer game on a big-screen TV. There seemed to be a lot of guns and explosions involved.
“I knew a girl called Tara once,” said an elderly man who was sitting on one of the couches, holding a glass of wine and patting a German shepherd. “She was double jointed, wanted to be an escapologist but never quite got the knack of picking locks. I’m Ducky and this is Butch, would you care to join us, my dear?”
“In a moment.” She smiled at Tony and said “A small present for your journey.” She turned to Cook and added “I’m sorry; I didn’t know you would be here, or I would have bought a present for you. Perhaps Tony will share with you?”
“That’s really nice of you,” said Cook, “but we can’t take alcohol back to the ship.”
“Why don’t we have some now?” suggested Tony. He looked at the bottle a little dubiously. “Will there be enough for everyone?”
“It’s quite strong,” said Kara. She picked up a shot glass. “My father used to drink about half this amount.”
“It must pack a hell of a kick then.” He studied the bottle again. “How do I open it?”
“Twist the cap – sorry, clockwise.” As Tony did so there was a sudden aroma of something a little like jasmine.
“Smells nice,” said Tony, pouring several glasses.
“You might want to sip just a little first; I’m not sure if it tastes nice if you aren’t used to it.”
“Okay.” Everyone, apart from the video-game players, watched expectantly as Tony tried some. His eyes widened, and he inhaled sharply. “That’s… holy crap, that’s good, but it must be more than ninety percent alcohol.”
“About ninety-seven, I think.”
“Okay! Here’s to all of us! Cheers!” Tony tossed his glass back and began spluttering, the others drank more cautiously while Gibbs slapped his back, then the back of his head.
Abby said “Whoa!” and slammed her empty glass down on the table, then began to giggle. “That’s beautiful, it’s like my head is full of flowers.”
“Uh-oh,” said Kara, “I was like that the first time I tried it. You’d better leave it a while before you have more.”
“This is extraordinary,” said Ducky. “Where on Earth did you get it?”
“The… would I be right to think I misheard your name?” Kara smiled and nodded. “Then you must think me an awful fool, Abby told me about your visit, but it slipped my mind momentarily.”
“That’s okay,” said Kara, kneeling to pet Butch. The dog licked her face enthusiastically. “He likes me!”
“What’s not to like?” said Abby. “You’re smart, and you’re pretty, and you can fly…” She began to hiccup, and Corpsman Cook took her arm and helped her to a couch.
“Okay,” said Gibbs. “I guess we know Abby’s limit.”
“It should wear off soon. One of the other ingredients is… I think you would call it a tailored molecule. It makes sure that it does no harm, and reduces blood alcohol levels if they become too high. It should work on anything else you’ve drunk tonight.”
“That’s a neat trick,” said Tony. “What does it do about hangovers?”
“What’s a hangover?”
“Umm… When you’ve drunk too much and the next morning you have a headache and feel like death.”
“I really don’t know, I never had one… and it’s too late now, of course.”
“What on Earth do you mean?” asked Ducky.
“Alcohol doesn’t affect me any more. I like the taste, but my body breaks it down as fast as I drink it.”
“Oh my dear girl; how sad for you!”
“Not really. I could drink concentrated sulphuric acid and that wouldn’t affect me at all, I think the… um… trade-off is worth it.”
“That makes you the most sober person in the room,” said Tony. “Kara, do you want to make the next toast?”
“Well, you brought the wonder-booze, and there’s just about enough for another round.”
“Okay then.” She waited while Tony poured more glasses, and when everyone was ready said “Shokh, Tahrao, chao Urkynon!”
“I think we might need a translation.”
“Sorry. Truth, Justice and Altruism; they’re three of the Girod, the eleven cardinal virtues.”
“What about the American Way?” asked Abby.
“So,” asked Ducky, “what are the other eight virtues…?”
Kara stayed for another hour then invented an emergency as an excuse to leave. As she said “good night” she was uneasily aware that the only people who’d been behaving normally were the two men playing computer games, who’d hardly been aware of her presence.
Smallville, Kansas, Tuesday 7.15 AM CST
“Is the rest of my life going to be like that?” asked Kara. “Clark warned me, but it felt so odd.”
“It’s one of the reasons why Clark invented Superman,” said Martha Kent, kneading pastry. “Would you be a dear and peel those apples, then chop them into thin slices… no, leave out the pips and stalks… that’s right, thank you. What was I saying… oh yes, Clark knew that what he can do… what you can do… is so strange that people can’t react to it normally. If he’d come out into the open, tried to live his whole life with everyone knowing what he could do, it would have been like living in a goldfish bowl. He would have been constantly watched and pestered. I doubt he would have been able to work, and he does so love journalism, and anything like marriage would have been impossible.”
“I understand that, of course,” said Kara. “It’s why we’re establishing my Linda Lee identity.”
“I think that may be part of the problem,” said Martha. “Clark wears Superman as a disguise; you seem to be thinking of Linda as the disguise. Linda needs to be the real you, not Supergirl. Supergirl is what you can do, not who you are. As for the other identities… well, it feels like you’re going about this the wrong way.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I think that you like being Karen. And why not; there's a lot of you in her. People act naturally around her, she’s enjoying herself in the sun, she doesn’t have many responsibilities, and you can walk away from her if it all goes horribly wrong and eventually become Linda.”
“That’s right, of course.”
“Karen is playtime; Linda is going to be your adult life. But most people gradually grow into their adult roles, and can't easily walk away if things go wrong. They have friends who remember them as children and teenagers. We can’t quite do that, but I can’t help but think that it would be a good deal easier for you if you became Linda now, and did the playtime things as her.”
“I don’t think I understand.”
“Well, nobody knows what grown-up Linda looks like yet… why shouldn’t she be more like Karen? If you’ve already made some friends as Karen, and want to keep them, tell them in strictest confidence that you’ve been hiding from… oh, from a stalker, say… and that your real name is Linda. Once you’re happy with yourself as Linda, you shouldn’t be so worried about the way people respond to you when you’re being Supergirl, and that will let you enjoy the fun parts of it.”
“You might be right,” said Kara. “We all liked the Karen idea, but…” She trailed off into silence
“Think about it, and talk to Lois and Clark, but I think it might be the best answer. Now, if you could just give the pie a little warmth with your heat vision… yes, that’s right… keep that up for another thirty seconds or so, then it will be ready.”
Long Beach, California, 7.50 AM PST
“You were out early,” said Mrs. Grady, as Kara came into the dining room. The other residents watched or ignored her with varying degrees of indifference.
“I went out to meet my aunt, she was just passing through on her way to the airport; hope I’m not too late for breakfast.”
“No, there’s still plenty left. Mmm, something smells nice.”
“My aunt brought me a home-baked apple pie; want a piece?”
Arkham Asylum, Gotham City, 11.30 PM
Working as quietly as he could, the man who thought of himself as Lex Luthor waited for the last guard patrol of the evening to pass, then prepared his escape...
To be continued
Note: The version of Martha Kent in this chapter is based partly on Superman Returns and partly on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Comments please before I post to archives.
Some changes made (Thursday PM) mostly in the Smallville section.