Lex seemed not to get the idea that Batman might not want her to talk to him either, because he came around the very next day. When he did, he chose possibly the worst day that he could, because Batman assigned Kaldur to shadow her at school. And of course, Kaldur acting like he did, Lex was bound to get the wrong impression.

“Would you stop hovering?” Lara asked. Kaldur had not stopped looking over her shoulder, and had gone so far as to hold her hand in the halls and carry her books. “People are going to start asking questions.” As if to prove her point, Eureka came out of nowhere and grabbed Lara’s arm.

“If you’ll excuse us for a minute,” Eureka said, and before either of them could object, she dragged Lara into the girl’s room. “All right, I know that there are certain things in your life that are secrets. I respect that, I have secrets of my own. But really? Couldn’t you tell me that you had a boyfriend?”

“Kaldur’s not my boyfriend,” Lara replied. At Eureka’s raised eyebrow, she protested, “He’s not! He’s just a friend—”

“A gorgeous friend whom you ogle when he’s not looking,” Eureka pointed out. “A friend, who after a creepy visit from Lex Luthor comes to school to watch your back and hold your books and your hand, and he stares at you an awful lot, honey. Are you sure there’s nothing there?”

“I didn’t say there wasn’t anything there,” Lara replied. “He’s just not my boyfriend, and I doubt that he could be, all right, so drop it for now.” Eureka nodded, though with a frown plastered to her face. “And how do you know that I have secrets?”

“Shady background, you disappear from school for a couple of days every now and again, you look just like Kryptongirl without your glasses.” Eureka smiled and placed a hand over Lara’s open mouth. “Look, you can’t tell me, at least not yet, I get that. Just know that I’m here for you if you need girl talk away from the capes. You know, heavily veiled, coded girl talk, I am down with that.” Lara reached out and hugged her best friend. Eureka braced her arms around her squeezing comfortingly. Lara pulled back after a moment and eyed her friend.

“Wait, then what secrets do you have?”

“Fair play dear, I figured you out on my own, you have to figure me. Now let’s not keep grey eyes waiting. I’d hate to see a boy like that in a conniption.” Eureka led Lara out much the same way she led her in, by dragging. Though the second she left the bathroom, Kaldur grabbed her.

“She knows your identity!” he hissed.

“Yeah, and I trust her,” Lara said.

“How could you trust someone you barely know?” Kaldur asked.

“I trusted you, didn’t I?” Lara said, taking his hand. Kaldur stiffened slightly, before he relaxed into her grip. “Trust me, Eureka has good vibes. She won’t betray my secrets.”

“If you trust her,” Kaldur replied reluctantly.

“I do. Now come on, I don’t want to be late to chemistry,” Lara said pulling him along. Kaldur let himself be pulled only for a moment, before he stopped dead in his tracks. “What?” Lara asked, following Kaldur’s gaze to where Lex Luthor stood talking to the principle, his faithful bodyguard Mercy standing just behind him. “Great…just what I needed. Come on Kaldur.”

“We should radio Batman,” Kaldur said.

“In a moment,” she said. “The hall is too crowded. Drop me off at chemistry and then say you have to use the bathroom and let Batman know what’s going on, all right?”

“I don’t want to leave you alone with him,” Kaldur said.

“I was along with him yesterday, and he had plenty of time to make a move,” Lara said, as they walked into the classroom.

“Miss Kent, I was told that you would have a shadow,” her chemistry professor said. “Kaldur Amon, yes?”

“Yes sir,” Lara and Kaldur replied as one.

“Well, Mr. Cooper has already informed me that he will be out today, so why don’t you two partner up for today’s assignment?”

“Sounds good,” Lara replied taking her seat. Kaldur laid her things next to her, and then cleared his throat in the direction of the professor.

“Excuse me sir, I uh, need to use the rest room before class.”

“You might want to make it quick,” the professor said. “Though I’m sure Lara can fill you in on any part of the lecture you miss during lab.” Kaldur nodded and darted out of the room, just barely missing the principal as he walked in escorting Lex and Mercy.

“Class, Dr. Leitner, this is as I am sure many of you know, Mr. Luthor. He wanted to observe some of the classes today, so please be on your best behavior. Mr. Luthor I’ll leave you to observe.”

“Thank you Dr. Krause,” Lex said. “Where would you prefer me, Dr. Leitner?”

“Perhaps in the back would be best for observation.” Dr. Leitner led Lex to the back of the classroom, where he procured two chairs for Lex and Mercy. The CEO and his body guard took their seats rather gracefully, not that Lara was watching, just as Kaldur slipped back into the room. “Now, if everyone will turn to the assigned reading, and pass forward their homework, we’ll get started with today’s lecture.” Lara pulled out her assignment; avoiding Kaldur’s pointed looks as she collected the homework from those behind her and passed it all forward. She turned her book to the assigned reading and pushed it between the two of them, placing her notebook off to her side as Dr. Leitner began to lecture.

Kaldur apparently sense that he would have gotten in trouble for talking, and did not let it slip until they began working with the actual chemicals that Batman could arrange for her to be picked up if she could fake sick.

“I don’t think that’s going to work,” Lara whispered back, measuring out water in a test tube. “These are perceptive people. They know that I don’t get sick, not really. We’re going to have to make up some kind of emergency, I think.”

“But we need to get you away from him before he has time to engage you again,” Kaldur whispered. “Could you not at least try?”

“I don’t know what being sick is like, so probably not,” Lara said. “Look, I have piano practice next. Just stick it out and we can radio Batman back.” Kaldur grumbled, but assisted with the experiment. For the whole class, Lex observed quietly from the back, not even taking special note of her. Though, she did notice a few times he seemed to be glaring holes in the back of Kaldur’s head, for reasons that she could only believe he assumed the same thing that Eureka did and believed Kaldur to be her boyfriend. She had a feeling this was not going to go over very well.

When they left chemistry, Kaldur rushing ahead of everyone a little, they headed straight for the auditorium, where Lara practiced piano every single day. She noticed, though, that Kaldur seemed to fidget as he walked and then when he sat down to watch her. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

“It is nothing.”

“Kaldur, something is wrong. Tell me.”

“I merely feel the need to relieve myself,” Kaldur told her. “It can wait until you are secure.”

“Go to the bathroom before you give yourself some kind of infection,” Lara ordered. “I will be fine for a few minutes on my own.”

“I cannot leave you alone,” Kaldur said.

“Then pee fast,” Lara retorted.

“Could you not come with me?” he asked.

“Yeah, into a high school boy’s room, that would go over astonishingly well, I think,” Lara said. “Just go, Kaldur, I’ll be right here when you get back, and I will be fine.” Kaldur looked like he was debating it for a minute, before he rushed off stage toward the nearest bathroom.

“I thought he’d never leave,” came a voice from the wings.

“You know, that was kind of creepy, on a number of different levels, even for you,” Lara said as Lex walked out of the shadows, holding a cigar.

“You didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend,” Lex retorted.

“I don’t,” Lara replied, coolly. “Kaldur is just my friend. One who would be greatly missed if you tried to do anything to him.”

“Pity,” Lex remarked. “Are you sure that you would not prefer someone with a little more social status? I here Alexander Xanatos is yet unoccupied, and he’s bound to inherit billions.”

“Okay, I’m going to pretend that we aren’t having this conversation, because Kaldur is not my boyfriend,” Lara said, brushing the hair from her face and bracing her fingers against the keys.

“But you are interested,” Lex told her, waving the cigar around. “And from the looks he gives you, he’s interested in you as well. I just want to make sure you are making the right decision.”

“This has to be some strange food influenced nightmare I am having,” Lara remarked. “Stop it now, or I swear I will start playing Lady Gaga.” Lex scoffed and dabbed out his cigar before placing it back inside his suit pocket. He sat down at the bench, and began playing the chords for Poker Face. “Oh god, now I know I’m dreaming. Stop that!” she said, hitting his hands. “Everyone knows that song, especially after Glee.”

“I’m sorry, what is this Glee of which you speak?” Lex asked. “And if you’ve got something better, than please, show me.” Lara cleared her throat and sat up properly. She pounded out the first few notes to the song, until the chords came in singing along to the lyrics of “Dance in the Dark.”

“Impressive, did you arrange that yourself?” Lex asked.

“Yes,” Lara said. “It wasn’t so hard, though. Playing piano is something I’m really good at. I can’t say if it’s because they injected it into me at Cadmus , or if I’m just naturally like this, but I like it.” Lara felt her hands fall limp against the keys. “You know, it’s funny, but super powers and villainy aside, I think I have more in common with you than him.”

“Is that a bad thing?” Lex asked. “If super powers and villainy are aside.”

“I’m not sure. But it kind of scares me,” Lara said. “I mean, what if, just what if, they were trying to create a copy of Superman, but with the genius and cunning of Lex Luthor. And you are part of this elaborate plan to get me to take over the world?” That made Lex laugh.

“Lara, I doubt I could talk you in to taking over the world. And take a little heart in this. Your father is a man of facts, I am a man of science, and you are an artist. That already says a lot about the path you want to strike out on, and how you can make your own decisions. And if anything, I think Batman’s been the best father to you so far of the three of us. He’s watching us right now, after all, to make sure your safe and well tended to.”

“Yeah, but you could argue that I am a pretty valuable commodity,” Lara said.

“They’re the heroes, Lara, they don’t see people as commodities, just people,” Lex said. He checked his watch and stood. “I should be going. But as soon as the Bat allows, call me.” He handed her a small manila card with a phone number written on it. “We can have dinner or something paternal. And you can let me know where to drop off that Ferrari.”

“Mustang,” she reminded him.

“You’ll get what I give you, and you will enjoy it,” Lex retorted, walking up the aisle of the auditorium. He gave a slight wave, and though he could not see her, Lara waved back.
 Lara starts spending time with her dad. Only it’s not the dad you think.

Lara tried to focus on the piece in front of her. She made her fingers trill along the piano keys even though she really did not want to. In fact, she wanted to be anywhere but here right now. Batman had warned her as such, as had all of her teammates, that she would not like school and that she would not be able to shirk it whenever she felt like. But mostly, she liked school. Lara liked going and learning new things about the world, and there was an entire hour every day when they let her go and practice piano. It was not school that bothered her. It was Superman.

Thoughts of the arrogant, outrageous man gushed up inside of her, and she banged on the keys in her frustration.

“Oh and you were so close to the end!” Lara looked to see the man she had noticed out of the corner of her eye a page ago. “I really thought you might finish before you boiled over in rage. I would take it again, from the Adagio, and work your way back through.”

“Are you a piano instructor?” she asked.

“I could be,” he replied, moving his shoulders in something far more dignified than a shrug.

“Well, Mr. Luthor, I had heard you were a man of many talents, but I never pegged piano as one of them,” Lara replied, turning back to her music book. She flipped the page back to where the Adagio was, as she heard him softly snorting, and making his way toward the stage.

“You’ve done your research?” he asked, as she began to play again.

“I would be a fool not to,” she replied. “Considering you are the primary shareholder in Cadmus Labs and you were funding their underground projects. And you hate Superman, and well, I thought that would be enough.”

“Enough for me to want to kill you?” he asked. “I would rather do something much more useful, like convert you.”

“The dark side is a religion now?” Lara asked, turning her eyes back to the book. She had been observing him for a moment, and wished she could do more as he laughed. He was different from Superman, even though he stood tall and proud just like the man of steel. Superman always had this air of importance, and a tenseness in his body because he bore the weight of the word on his shoulders. Lex Luthor stood very calm and relaxed as he lit up a cigar, like he was watching the world burn.

“I wonder, then, if you have done your research, you know why I’m here?” he inquired. Lara’s fingers paused up above the keys for a moment, before she continued to play out the song, passing the point where she had exploded before.

“I looked at all of the research, the stuff that Batman recovered, and some of the stuff that he didn’t,” Lara confessed. “It confused me that they couldn’t make a stable clone for years, and then suddenly, they had a solution.” Her fingers rolled against the keys as she finished the song and she looked up at him. “They added your DNA to his. And what a combination, Lex Luthor and Superman. And it would be stupid to think that you haven’t been watching me when you get the chances, especially now that I’ve started school, and I have an identity now.” She narrowed her eyes. “What do you want?”

“I have to want something?” he asked.

“You’re Lex Luthor, you always want something.” He laughed again.

“You really have done your research, haven’t you?” He pulled a chair from the wings and sat down forming a triangle between her and the edge of the piano. “I authorized that anything be done to complete your project. I did not know at first that it meant my DNA would be used. When I found out I was furious, and began to have you monitored, when I could find you. You actually remind me much of me when I was your age and the more I observed you, the more I realized that.” He leaned back, dabbing his cigar against the edge of the plastic chair. “There is one line I vowed never to cross, Lara, and that like was becoming my father. I thought I would solve that by never having children. But here you are, and you cannot be ignored.”

“Try telling that to Superman,” Lara said, brushing a stray hair out of her face. Luthor laughed again.

“Ah, yes, he is a stubborn one isn’t he? But Clark always was. He’ll realize he’s wrong soon enough and start paying attention to you. Maybe he’ll even go so far as to dote, especially if I’m around. He’ll want to prove that he’s the better father.”

“And what exactly will you do to prove you are the better father?” Lara asked.

“And what makes you think I will?” Luthor asked.

“You already said you’re going to get involved, and you love pissing Superman off, especially if there’s nothing he can do about it, and I would guess that you’re willing to go as far as genetic testing to make sure that he can’t,” Lara replied.

“You think like a villain.”

“I am half and half after all.”

“Does the rest of your team know about this?”

“Yes, and I left the files out for Batman to see. I imagine he’s told Canary and some of the other league by now. But probably not Superman.” Lara shrugged. “At least, I don’t think he’s told Superman yet. I imagine there would be a much bigger fit pitched and we all would have heard about it.”

“How do you like your school?” Luthor asked.

“I picked it out,” Lara said. “So, no, I don’t want to change.”

“And what about college?”

“Batman said he would cover anything that went above a 2000 on my SATs,” Lara replied. “He hasn’t offered to buy me a car yet though.”

“Why would you need a car?” Lex asked.

“To look like a well-adjusted normal teenager.”

“You’re asking a lot from a vehicle, but if Batman says you can, I have an old Ferrari I’ve been meaning to get rid of.”

“Are you sure you don’t have a Mustang?”

“Do I look cheap to you?”

“Mustangs are not cheap, trust me, I’ve looked.”

“Maybe if you’ve done something evil by the time your birthday rolls around,” Lex told her. “By the way—”

“July fourth,” she said. He almost rolled his eyes, but stopped like he remembered he was too good for it. “It was the day they woke me up.”

“How about pretty things, how do you feel about those?”

“I lean toward silver, lapis and moonstones,” Lara replied. “And I was planning on going shopping with a few of my friends this weekend if you are feeling particularly generous.” Lex pulled out his wallet and handed her a handful of one hundred dollar bills.

“Anything else?”

“I play piano, I’m sixteen. My hero is Tori Amos; I enjoy the works of Florence + the Machine, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and H.P. Lovecraft. My best friend is Eureka Jones, and you are not allowed to touch her no matter how mad you get at me. She’s convincing me to make and record my own music, though I think I still need to write and compose more. I think I want to do something with art, but I’m backing it up with business savy. My favorite food is sushi and I like elephants. I leave the rest for you to figure out if you really care.”

“Lara! Allie, allie, all come free!” Eureka called as she entered the stage from the green room. “And hello?”

“Hello,” Luthor replied. “I believe you must be Miss Jones.” He held out his hand to her and she accepted, shaking it firmly.

“You are Lex Luthor,” Eureka observed, letting go of his hand.

“Indeed. Well, Lara, it looks as if I’ve kept you. I’ll take my leave and contact you another time.”

“Sure thing, Lex,” Lara replied, waving to him as he strode off stage. Eureka patiently waited for Lara to collect her things, before she attached herself to the other girl’s arm.

“How exactly do you know Lex Luthor?” Eureka asked.

“It’s complicated.”

“It would seem my friend, that everything about you is complicated,” Eureka observed. “One of these days I’ll have to figure out your secrets so that way you can tell me everything.”

“So, Lex Luthor visited me at school today.” It took a moment probably due to her casual tone, but everyone froze in place.

“Could you repeat that?” Kid Flash asked. “I thought you just said that Lex Luthor came to see you at school today.”

“He did. He was quite…amiable. He really had me going for a while, especially about this part where he told me he didn’t want to become his father. And he wants to buy me things.”

“It’s a trap,” Robin said.

“Of course it’s a trap,” Lara replied. “I’ve been expecting it since I found out that he’s my second donor. He takes a personal interest in me and then does some crazy midwarp to make me evil. He even admitted that he wanted to convert me today.”

“I believe we should tell Batman,” Kaldur said.

“Oh, Batman knows. He’s listening,” Lara informed them. “I also think I’m getting some kind of super hearing.”

“Nice,” Artemis told her. “So, you’re completely aware that you are walking right into a trap.”

“Yep,” Lara replied.

“Lara are you doing this just to make Superman angry?” M’gann inquired.

“No, I am only doing it in part to make Superman angry,” Lara answered. “The other part is finding out what exactly Luthor has planned for me, and why he wanted a clone of Superman in the first place. Aside from, you know being able to destroy the world and all that.”

“Also, we could probably get that control device that’ll make you evil,” Robin pointed out.

“Absolutely not.” They had not noticed that Batman had entered the room until he spoke. “You will rebuff Luthor and come to me if he does not cease and desist.”

“Then he’ll get custody of me, and then where would we be?” Lara asked. “I do share half his DNA and it’s not like the other half is going to claim me any time soon. Not even if you try and make him.”

“You should not attempt to elicit his attentions,” Batman warned her.

“I’m not,” Lara said. “He is eliciting mine. I piqued his interest today, I could tell. He says that I remind me of him, or something like that. While it may not be the best sentiment in the long run, he’s interested, and I don’t think that interest is going away. I might as well try and find out what exactly he has planned, because whatever he’s going to do to me is going to affect the whole team. I’m trying to think in advanced.”

“The plan does have merit,” Kaldur pointed out. “If we know that Luthor will attempt to lure Lara into a false sense of security, than perhaps we can be more watchful of both of them. There are of course…flaws, but we can work them out.”

Batman stayed silent, thinking for a moment before he said,

“You will not speak with him until we have decided a course of action and you will accept no further monetary gifts from him. You will begin to wear your comm link to school, and when you arrive at a situation you cannot handle on your own, you will contact me, immediately. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Batman,” Lara replied. Batman turned on his heel and left the room.

“You should listen to him, K-girl,” Robin said. “I think he doesn’t want to see you get hurt.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to get hurt either,” Lara agreed. “That would kind of suck.”
Felt bored, so I did something different. 

Take 2 )



January 2017

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