Join the Club

a Supergirl fan fiction by

Douglas Neman

"Kira!"

Cat silently counted to five. Her assistant did not appear. She grit her teeth and felt her blood start to boil.

She could stand there and passive-aggressively shout Kara's name repeatedly until she returned, but she'd done that a couple of weeks ago. No, it was time for something a little more harsh.

Keeping her fury tightly bottled up, Cat left her office and strode quickly to the floor receptionist, whose name plate read "Joanne."

"Jody, have you seen Kira?"

"Who?"

"My assistant!" she snapped. "Blonde, glasses, ditzy?"

"Oh, Kara. You know, she, James and Winn have been spending a lot of time in the basement, lately. She might be down there."

"Why?"

"I don't know, Miss Grant."

Now shaking with the effort of controlling her rage, Cat went straight to the elevator and jabbed the button, and was forced to stand there. Every second she spent waiting for the elevator, she felt another 1.5 million dollars in revenue slip through her grasp.

A young man, an intern, joined her in waiting for the elevator. "Good morning, Miss Grant!" he said cheerily.

The young man was fortunate Cat did not have heat vision. Even so, the look Cat gave him left him shriveled. When the elevator arrived, he allowed his boss to have it all to herself.

As soon as Cat emerged into the basement, she stood listening, and heard faint voices which sounded like James and Kara. Although she couldn't make out the words, there was something about them which sounded suspicious. They were talking excitedly.

Cat's years of journalism instinct kicked in. She slipped off her shoes and padded quietly down the empty corridor. In her mind, she began composing the beautiful blast of fury which would leave her assistant a smoking cinder. She wondered how many people she was about to fire.

She arrived in the doorway of a partly-renovated office full of advanced machinery she did not recognize. On the right, the cardigan hobbit sat at a computer terminal, his back to her. James and Kara stood very close to him on either side, looking over his shoulders at the screen. Their conversation was so animated that none of them knew she was there.

Winn said, "Look, Kara, all I'm saying is that in order for Myst to become vapor, she has to use a colossal amount of energy to separate her molecules, just like water has to have heat in order to become steam. It's the same principle."

"Is that why it feels cold around her when she rematerializes into human form?" Kara asked.

"Could be," Winn replied.

"All right, but how does that help Kara?" James asked.

"I don't know, yet," Winn said, a little exasperated. "I'm still working on that. Right now, I'm just laying out all our facts." He snapped his fingers. "Wait a minute. Steam. I'm so stupid. Of course. There has to be some kind of force field, or energy boundary, which permeates and surrounds Myst when she's in vapor form! Otherwise, she would never be able to keep herself together, move, control her actions, or reform; she would just disperse into the air."

"So basically, you're saying that even when Myst is in her vapor form, she's still a single entity," Kara said.

"A single contiguous entity," Winn said. "Imagine for a moment you could somehow separate her while she's in vapor form, like trapping half of her in an airlock or something. She might not be able to reform without injuring herself."

"Do we have an airlock lying around?" James asked.

"Nope," Kara said dejectedly. "And it would have to be something like that, because she can get through even the tiniest opening. She robbed that jewelry store just by going through the keyhole."

"So we're back to square one," James said.

"This kind of reminds me of when I fought Livewire," Kara said. "She could turn herself into energy instead of mist, but it was basically the same problem."

"Why not just let the DEO help you with this?" Winn said. "They have cooler toys."

"The DEO has their hands full with my aunt Astra, and Hank and Alex have both asked me to stay away from that situation because I'm too close to it. They're afraid I won't think straight because the enemy is my family, and they may be right. So while they're dealing with the Kryptonian threat, I want to take care of Myst without burdening my sister even more."

"Did you try your heat vision when you fought Myst?" Winn asked.

"Yes, but it just went right through her."

"What about your freeze breath?" James asked.

Kara shrugged. "Well, I guess I could try that. But I think all it will do is blow her five miles downwind without hurting her, and then I wouldn't be able to find her again."

"Livewire," Winn muttered, then snapped his fingers. "Energy! You defeated Livewire with water, right?"

"Just like the Wicked Witch of the West."

"What if you did the reverse to Myst?" Winn asked. "What if you zapped her with the end of a live power cable? Or, heck, even a taser, for that matter. If I'm right, and if her vaporous body is held together by an energy field, then the electricity should go through all of her and mess her right up!"

James nodded. "It could work."

"I'm willing to try anything at this point," Kara said, then heaved a sigh of relief. "All right, we have a plan!" She grinned, clapped her hands together, opened her mouth to say something else, and turned to find her boss standing in the doorway, holding her shoes, arms folded, patiently watching them.

Kara's world came to a screeching halt.

"Hello, Miss Grant," she squeaked.

James and Winn whipped around. The looks on their faces, Cat thought, were priceless.

"Am I interrupting something?" Cat asked softly.

She was rewarded with the perfect looks of three deer caught in headlights. Six eyeballs darted back and forth as they searched for an answer.

"No," James said after a few seconds. "No interruption at all. What can we do for you, Miss Grant?"

Cat calmly set her shoes on the floor, stepped into them, and walked to the sofa. She frowned at it, brushed some dust and lint off a spot, and sat down.

"When I was a child, I read a series of books about a group of neighborhood children who solved mysteries and had adventures," Cat said. "Their base of operations was a treehouse in one of the kids' back yards. They even had a smart, cute little terrier who helped them out by warning them of danger and running for help. Tell me, do you have a dog, or is it just the three of you?"

"Uh, Miss Grant," Kara stammered, adjusting her glasses. "We're...we're rehearsing a little play we wrote about Supergirl. We were going to perform it at this year's Christmas party."

James slowly turned to stare at Kara with a What-did-you-just-say? look on his face.

"Please stop, Kara," Winn muttered. "She's...she's not going to fall for that. Let's try to face this with dignity, okay?"

"Indeed," Cat said icily, glaring at Kara.

Kara sighed. "And the day was going so well," she said. "Normally, I would have heard you approach, but I was so deep in conversation that I wasn't paying attention."

"First question," Cat snapped. "How did you appear in my office as two separate people?"

Kara shrugged and resigned herself to the inevitable. "I have a friend who's a shapechanger," she said softly.

James and Winn both looked at her in surprise. "Really?" Winn asked. "Who's that?"

Kara closed her eyes, raised her hands, and shook her head frantically. "Never mind."

"Clever," Cat said. "Remaining questions: what is the DEO and who is Aunt Astra?"

James sighed. Kara groaned. Winn closed his eyes.

"It's a long story, Miss Grant," Kara said.

"I'll clear my calendar."

The computer beeped. Winn punched a few keys, then sighed. "NCPD just sent out an alert. Another jewelry store robbed five minutes ago. Witnesses report a woman who somehow turned into a gray mist. She's already gone."

"Where?" Kara asked eagerly, Cat's intrusion suddenly forgotten.

Winn sent an image to the main monitor on the far wall, and everyone turned to look. It was a map of National City with four glowing dots at various points. "Oswego Drive and 189th street," Winn said. "Fourth burglary in two days."

"Is there a pattern here?" Kara asked.

"Yeah," James said. "Jewelry stores."

"I mean besides that!"

"Not that I can see," Winn said.

"We have a plan to stop Myst, but it's no good if I can't find her!" Kara said.

"Kara, go over your fight with her again," Winn said. "But this time, tell me about every second. Every tiny detail."

"Uh, okay. I heard alarms and people screaming, and I could tell it was coming from a jewelry store. As I landed in the street, this gray mist came out of the doorway and materialized into a woman. She wore jeans and a T-shirt, and she had a backpack over one shoulder."

"Like a school backpack?" Winn asked.

"Yes. She looked at me and took off running. I grabbed her backpack, and when she twisted to try to get away, it ripped open and that stuff fell out." She indicated a small collection of objects on the desk next to James. "Then she turned into mist, and I had nothing to hold onto."

"Her clothes and her backpack also turned into mist?" Winn asked.

"Yes, but not the things which had already fallen out. I used my heat vision, but it had no effect. She went into the sewer. I tried to follow her with my X-ray vision, but she's hard to see that way, so I lost her. I didn't want to rip up the street just to return some stolen jewelry, and by the time I found a way into the sewer myself, she was long gone."

"And this stuff here is all that fell out of her backpack?" Winn asked, indicating the pile of objects.

"That and a couple of diamond rings, which I returned to the jewelry store."

Cat stood and joined them, and they looked over the objects: an ordinary economics college textbook; a tube of lipstick; the left half of a spiral notebook which had been ripped down the middle; and the ripped-off upper left corner of what might have been a business card.

Winn thumbed through the notebook. "Every page is blank," he said.

"And there's nothing in the textbook which could identify its owner," James said. "I looked over all of it this morning."

Kara picked up the card fragment. It only contained the left half of a symbol. "Is this a company logo?" she asked.

"I ran it through reverse image lookup, but I didn't find anything," Winn said.

"It's the logo of Cantwell & Percy," Cat said. "They're a law firm."

"Here in National City?" James asked.

Cat nodded, and looked at Winn. It took Winn a couple of seconds to realize that Cat was expecting him to pull up the company's web site. Nervously, he did so. Sure enough, the company's logo matched the card fragment.

"Well, it's not much to go on, but it's all we have for the moment," Kara said. "Thank you, Miss Grant."

Cat turned dramatically, took a couple of paces, and turned back just as dramatically. "So. Does this mean I've earned inclusion into your little club?"

She was greeted with stunned silence as six eyeballs once again darted back and forth in search of an answer.

"Yeah, sure," Kara nodded. "I..." Her voice trailed off as she couldn't put into words what she wanted to say.

"It's just going to be a really weird dynamic, with you being our boss, and all," Winn said meekly.

Winn gulped at the glare Cat gave him. "Weirder than the lives you're already leading?" she asked.

They thought about this, and had to concede that she had a point.

"Does your little club even have a name?" Cat asked.

Winn spoke up. "Well, I'm partial to Superfriends-"

"We're still not calling ourselves that," Kara said quickly. "So, no...no, we...don't have a name."

"Hmm," Cat said. "Well, Kira, at least now I know why you were so keen not to get fired. But really, you could have said something. If you had just told me you were using CatCo as a base of operations, I would have been fine with that."

Kara's jaw worked up and down for a moment. She needed her job because of the stability it gave her, but she knew Cat would never understand that in a million years. "Yeah!" she finally said. "Yeah, that's...that's it." She smiled.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well...uh...because you want to own Supergirl's narrative," Kara said. "You want to slap CatCo's logo on my side like I'm NASCAR. I don't want either of those things, and I'm afraid you'll take advantage of your position to force that on me.

"But mostly, it's because you're a journalist, Miss Grant. Beneath the businesswoman, beneath the civic leader, in your deepest heart, you're a born journalist, and I didn't know what you would do with my secret. A secret I desperately need kept hidden."

"Kira, I have more secrets in my head than you've had hot dinners. You're right, I am a journalist first, last and always. And one of the hallmarks of a great journalist is knowing when to speak and when to remain silent. Only hacks blab everything they know. That's why they never get anywhere. I'm a professional. Do give me some credit.

"And I'll create a new job and transfer you to it. Security consultant, something like that. I'm rich enough to give Supergirl a paycheck as she saves the city. I won't have you wasting your time on me any more."

"Uh...whoa, whoa," Kara said. Dammit! she thought. Even though she won't understand, I have to convince her, anyway! "I...I need my job for more than just cover, Miss Grant. I need a life. I need friends. I need interaction with people. I need normalcy."

"Like I told you before, every second you waste in here is another second someone out there is not getting saved."

"You could say the same thing about every second I'm asleep, or every second I eat, or every second I go see a movie with my sister."

"All the more reason not to waste any of your time on a job that is so far beneath you it might as well be microscopic. Fetching coffee is for mortals. You have a higher calling."

"I don't care how high a calling I have, I'm still a person, first."

"A super person. I refuse to believe it's the same thing."

"How much money are you worth, Miss Grant?"

"Thirteen point two four billion dollars as of eight o'clock this morning."

"With that money, you could rescue every starving child in Africa."

"Excuse me, I give a lot of money to many worthy causes!"

"And I save a lot of people."

They stared at each other for a long moment.

"No, Kira," Cat said softly. "It's not the same thing."

Kara looked down and sighed, trying to find the words.

Then she looked up and said, "Someone once told me that people fear me and my cousin, but it's not politically correct for them to say so out loud. He told me they fear us because of what either of us might do if we ever lost control and flew into a rage. And the first time I heard that, I scoffed. I was offended and disgusted that someone could ever think that.

"But after being Supergirl for just a few months, now I know better. Now I know how hard it is to be a superhero, and it's a lot harder than people think. Now I know how narrow the line I have to walk is. And there was a moment just a few days ago, in this room, when I crossed that line. I was so enraged, I was going rip someone apart, and I didn't care about collateral damage. If I had done it, I would have regretted it forever, and everyone's fear of me and my cousin would have been justified, and my career as Supergirl would have been over! But do you know who stopped me?"

Kara motioned to the men on either side of her. "These two."

Cat stared, transfixed, as two tears drifted down Kara's face.

"They keep me safe. They keep me grounded. They keep me human, Miss Grant. I know you think you'd be doing mankind a favor by forcing me to wear the suit every waking moment, but I'm not a machine. I'm a person. I have feelings, I have needs. I need people. I need my friends. And I need you to trust me that I'm not a child, that I know what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and when not to do it. Trust me that I know how to be the best Supergirl I can be."

Silence filled the room for a long time. Cat and Kara stared at each other. No one moved.

"That's why I didn't want to lose my job, Miss Grant," Kara whispered.

Cat gave a small smile, acceptance on her face at last. "Well," she said. "I suppose if I can't trust Supergirl, whom can I trust?"

Kara gave her a small smile in return.

"And you don't need to worry," Cat said. "I will not abuse my position of authority over you to force you to do anything you don't want to do. But I demand a couple of things."

"What?"

"A second exclusive interview. In the comfort of my office; no need for theatrics."

"No sexist questions this time?"

Cat rolled her eyes. "No sexist questions."

"Okay."

"And the answers to the questions I asked earlier. If I'm going to join the club, I want the inside scoop."

"That's really why you want to join the club," Kara said. "You want to be in the inner circle."

"Doesn't everyone?"

Kara smiled at her warmly. "Deal!"

Cat smiled just as warmly, then turned on her heel and headed for the door. "Come see me when you get through down here. And bring me a chicken salad...Supergirl."

With that, she was gone.

Kara, James and Winn were silent for a few moments, absorbing what had just happened to them.

Finally, Winn asked, "Does...does this mean we should ask Miss Grant to game night?"

"No!" the other two declared.

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