Tim : It all started with a text. The sort of text that interrupts some of the most fun moments a girl might have with their boyfriend. The sort that reads of the caller i.d. that identifies with your mother.
Mom: Saw your press conference.
Mom: You up for a little heart to heart?
Mom: Mother, Daughter talk?
Mom: No boys allowed.
Mom: Might reconsider that trip you wanted to come along for.
Mom: My office @ museum.
Mom: Bring. Cheesecake.
Alright, so it’s a series of texts. With Cassie moderately distracted, it allows for the entire discussion to be had without her reply. Leaving her to play catch up. To hop to what her Mom wants, because it’s a rare opportunity to maybe make amends for a situation that she hadn’t caused in the first place.
At the point of arrival though, it’s obvious almost immediately that Mom isn’t in the office. Given the time of night, it’s deserted. But that’s not really unusual. Cassie’s mother works late more often than not. Especially when she’s preparing for a trip. Truth is, she’s probably somewhere in the building for real. She just isn’t the one awaiting Cassie in that office.
Ordinarily (which is a word that applies to situations like this only loosely, and very recently), Cassie might have immediate cause for concern. Though her defenses might be up immediately, the reason for her arrival isn’t there to set a trap. Nor do I happen to be stupid enough to cause her to go in the fight or flight mode before I’ve even said a word. I’m sitting there, defenselessly, in her Mother’s desk chair. Clearly having rifled through the notes and information sitting there. But it’s not the clean cut schoolboy of norm. I’ve made this trip in uniform.
“Wonder Woman. Really? Don’t get me wrong. You’re pretty wonderful, but you don’t even have a driver’s license yet.” That dry wit is rarely mistakable, but even if it isn’t, I only make her wait a moment before I’m brushing the mask off of my face. “I’ve erected a bio-metric holographic overlay of the room. Anyone spying on us, is seeing your average girl next door having a discussion about keeping secrets from and with her mother.”
“Did you mean it?”
Cassie : We’re supposed to be studying. When one of you is smarter than the average bear, and has already had a high school education psi-jacked into your brain, and the other is a smarter than your average everyone girl that could have been teaching these classes rather than taking them, it just is a little hard to stay on task. To my credit, I made sure we got the homework portion done before we started on more important, personal subjects but there’s nothing beyond that we really need to do. Plus my Mom’s not home. At least one of us has a little bit of shame, so this wouldn’t be going on if she were home.
Because that’s just weird. No matter how open, accepting and generally cool your Mother might be.
One little jaunty jangle I ignore, even two because there’s not exactly many people who have my phone number that I jump with any level of excitement to respond to even in my least interesting moments. But when it keeps on going, eventually I have to extricate myself from Conner, and the couch cushions, in order to read them. Messages from the only other person that occupies the ‘drop everything for’ orbit.
“Oh, shoot it’s Mom. I gotta go, Con.”
Holding up a hand as I shove my phone in the back pocket of my jeans, and reach for a sneaker to stave off any sort of emergency reaction by the city’s newest Superman.
“Not an emergency, she just wants to talk. Just the girls. No Conner’s allowed. But she said she wanted cheesecake do you think you could…”
…maybe get one for me while I finish tying my shoes. I don’t get a chance to finish. Not only do I not typically encourage the guy to use his powers (exactly the opposite), but I don’t usually ask him to do things for me. I haven’t even finished tying the first one, and my hair’s not done shifting from the wake of his exit before he’s back. Cheesecake in hand, and looking pretty smugly pleased with himself. I guess I can’t blame him. I am right now, too, even if I am still a little grouchy at him over the Superhero Debut. Maybe that’s why he’s being so complaint…
All in all it takes him much less time to do my errand than it does for me to get out the door. And then for me to get myself to the Metropolis Museum, even though I fly most of the way. It’s dark, and late enough that I take the risk, and I know the area around the place well enough to know where it’s safe enough to land mostly unseen. With. Cheesecake.
I could have gotten there faster, but I’d taken my time just a bit. Agonizing over what I’m going to say, what I need to say, what she might have to tell me about what’s been going on lately. The walk from the parking lot in past the security that waves me through on seeing my face. Mom’s not in her office though, someone else is and I just about use it as the first salvo of a fight. Blue eyes narrowed in on the costumed figure.
“They don’t know that.”
I could have one. I’m old enough. I just haven’t really bothered, we don’t have a spare car, Conner has his own and likes to drive the flashy sporty thing everywhere because of the attention it gets. Oh, and I can fly. When the mask is pushed away from the eyes of the intruder, I look surprised but not surprised enough given what a revelation that should have been. I mean. I’ve talked to Tim on the phone before. I’m more caught off guard that he’s here, in my Mom’s office and that he apparently sent me for cheesecake.
“I feel like I ought to be mad at you for hijacking my Mom’s phone and getting my hopes up. Or for the snooping. Mostly, i’m just going to be huffy right now for accusing me of keeping secrets from my Mom. She knew before I did. I mean. She slept with my Father. She knew who and what he was, she just didn’t bother telling me. So if we’re going to get judgey about… you know what. Not the point.”
Pushing the door closed behind me, I set the cake on the edge of the desk and drop down into the chair on the opposite side that I’ve occupied so many times before. Just not with Red Robin on the other side.
“So. Hi, Tim. Welcome back to Metropolis. I like the cape.”
Shoving a hand through blonde hair puts it more in place, after getting a bit mussed from the flight and then rushing in here for my Mother/Daughter chat. It’s a pretty smooth setup, I suppose. Conner’s got almost zero boundaries and this is one of the few he actually respects, and wouldn’t get curious enough to follow along on. Though I don’t think for a second he’s still at my house right now.
“It. Which…it? The part where I said I’d help you if you needed it last time because, I mean.. I kind of guessed but that’s a kind of sudden hand tip. Or what I said on televison?”
Tim : “They know everything,” comes the counter before she’s even finished the thought.
We just happen to be talking about different people when we use the word ‘they.’ But for the moment that’s a sidenote to the overall situation that has brought me here. If I was here to talk to her about the coming out party or the name that she’s chosen to present herself? I could have done that as mild-mannered chum Tim. I’m here in the costume to make a statement of my own.
In a rather uncharacteristic show of emotions, there’s a legitimate scowl upon my face as she speaks about things. “It doesn’t work that way. If I were talking to Conner, I’d accept that he believes it does, but you’re not Conner. You know better. The world doesn’t work that way. Did your Mother know? Sure. Did she keep it from you? Yep. Was it crummy and did it suck? Uh-huh on both counts.”
“But. She’s your Mother. Protecting your life trumps protecting your feelings. Because that’s her job. Her niche. Her lot in life. It’s so much her job, in fact, that you don’t even really get to whine about it and call yourself a Woman in the same conversation.” Pausing, more so for effect than necessity, before allowing a subtle shift in my features to soften. “You’re definitely right though. This isn’t the point, but the truth is? You should lead with that. Telling her you finally understand that you have no right to be judgey about it. Opening that door for her, is going to let her know you’re ready to heal. Speaking from recent experience? You should do that, before you lose the opportunity too.”
Placing my hands, gloved as they are, down upon her mother’s desk. I make a show of pushing some of the papers aside before opening one of my hands up. People say that I’m a closed book, this is a metaphoric way of opening it, if only momentarily for the girl in front of me. Oh. Erm. Woman, I mean. Psh.
“I’m asking if you meant what you said on television. About being the ‘Leader’ of the next generation?” Again there’s a brief pause, but this time I actually shrug slightly and look away. “Not that it really matters if you did mean it or not. It’s too late. No take backs, so to speak.”
“Listen. I haven’t been completely honest with you, Cassie. The trouble is, I don’t think anyone has. But in my case, I wasn’t being deceptive in a really intentional way. I knew Con had powers. I knew all about him, actually. My … eh.. Father.. erm..-figure, warned me that I’d be on Conner’s radar. Just for different reasons than you. Con’s dad wouldn’t let the chance to make nice with the Wayne’s slip past. What I didn’t know, is that my… Father…eh…-figure, was doing the same with me. Getting me close. Using me to spy on the Luthors. Conner specifically.”
“My …eh… let’s just call him Bruce, okay? Has known about Lex Luthor’s Agenda and the people Connor work for. He’s known for years. I’ve got access to files, data, histories… the works. If you meant what you said on television, I know a few people who might be willing to ….. follow a Leader.”
Cassie : His emphasis hints that he’s not referring to the same ‘they’ as I am, but I don’t try to clarify what I meant. I have a feeling he knows what I meant, just as much as I get what he’s angling for. The more sinister ‘they,’ where I just meant the general populace. As far as they know? I am what I say. Both my costume, and Conner’s, have some subtle imaging of their own built in to mask who we really are. Otherwise the media would be having a flipping field day. Not about me so much as they would over Lex Luthor’s son being a super-powered Superman. Boy.
So I just shrug in response to his comeback before kicking my feet up on the desk. Carefully. In a spot that’s not endangering any of the papers or her precious knickknacks, some of which were gag gifts from me for one birthday or another.
This ‘knowing’ is about Helena Sandsmark and what she did, or didn’t do and her motivations for it. There’s another shrug, accompanying the earnest expression on my features.
“I got over it a while ago. Do I wish she would have maybe found a way to bring it up a little sooner than when long-lost Dad I didn’t want dropped a gift in my lap and my powers kicked in? Oh, yeah, sure. Absolutely. But I get why she didn’t. I should tell her though.”
The truth is I never actually had it out with my Mother over that whole thing. Conner talked me down off my proverbial ledge, while we were up in the literal sky, and made some of the same points. Tim’s just making them a little more eloquently. Maybe she’s picked up on some of it though, she is my Mother, and for sixteen years of my life we basically just had each other. By choice, not out of necessity.
“Bleck though. Really. It’s a stupid name, isn’t it? Wonder Girl would be a lot more appropriate but that was going to lead to the immediate sidekick connotation and…”
Pausing, I bite the corner of my lip and shoot him a half-sheepish look across the desk.
“…not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just don’t want to be Conner’s. Technically he’s the one that said that, not me. About leading, and the next generation and all of that. I just didn’t disagree.”
But subtle as that distinction might be, it doesn’t matter. Not in any important way. I’d been set up to be someone to look at, to look to. Whatever way that is someone wants to look; for guidance, help, heck maybe blame eventually. When it comes down to it I’m a high schooler, and probably not ready for that kind of responsibility but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. Sitting up straight again, I lean against the desk more bodily, fingers starting an absent beat on the edge of it.
“But. If someone has to? I think it can be me. I’m not N.O.W.H.E.R.E.. I’m sure they are waiting for any kind of chance to change that, but I’m not into that koolaid and I owe that to Conner. I’m also… very painfully aware of what it feels like to have something you don’t understand thrust on you. I mean, I know you know, but I don’t know if you know how new this all still is to me. I have the scary feeling that I’m only just scratching the surface of what I can do. So.”
The whole thing hadn’t been my idea. Eventually would I have gotten here? Probably, yes. With or without Conner’s help I think I’ve got it in me. I apparently come from an ancient family that’s predisposed to that sort of thing.
“I don’t know that I know how to lead, but I do know that I won’t try to use them for any sort of agenda. And I’m not going to let anyone else either. Maybe that’s why it’s gotta be me.”
Tim : There is so much to what is said that we could probably discuss all night long. Cassie’s entire situation with her mother for one. I’ve never understood the real drama involved there, because up until recently I only knew Cassie had powers. I wasn’t aware of what they were or where they came from. That had come later.
“When we first met, I thought you were a mark. I thought your boyfriend was playing you. It made me mad. Real mad, actually.” A gesture of the hands around the two of them, to encompass the office. “The baffles that I used before. The technology that is keeping him from spying on us right now. All of that was born out of a desire to be able to save you.”
An admission, but one that I take a step further before she has the time to really work out what I’ve actually said. “I did this in a couple years. Bruce had a couple decades. He knew, Cassie. I’m starting to think he really, really knew everything. And I’m starting to think that’s the major reason he’s gone now.”
When she sets forward, so do I. Except that as we’re mutually leaning over the desk from opposite sides? I’m making the effort to truly make eye contact. To demonstrate a level of openness that I’m not known for as Tim, much less as the person I’m dressed up as before her.
“Wrong. Don’t lie to yourself. You have an Agenda. Or more accurately, if you don’t have one now? You will have one soon enough. Be honest. That’s your gift. Tell people the truth. Lead with honesty. Tell them what you stand for. Tell them what you plan to do. Put your Agenda on the table and let the people who believe in it stand with you. You come from the ancient Gods, Cassie. That radiance from their old, ancient, mythological, world is inside of you. Let people see the truth in you and they’ll follow for the right reasons.”
“In the next couple weeks you’re going to start receiving letters from schools you never applied too. It’ll be dossiers on the people I think you can help, first. If you agree, then make contact. If you don’t, that’s your call too. The first dossier is the only one you don’t get to Veto. She needs your help the most.”
At this I’m starting to rise up from her mother’s chair. Taking my full height leaves me a little short of her, but like most times I’m happy to let the shadows of the room obscure that difference for effect.
“One thing though. Well. Actually two things. First, maybe it’s the detective training that makes me a cynic, but have you noticed that your powers started almost to the day when your mother decided it was time for you to have a ‘Normal Life?’ I don’t believe in coincidence, Cass. Either she knew what was coming or.. she decided to finally allow it to happen.”
“Second thing. Wonder Girl sounds like someone who hasn’t quite made up her mind. I’ve been training to read people since I was nine years old. I figured out who the Batman was, by turning my gameboy original in to a mini-supercomputer and feeding it psychological profiles that I did in my spare time. So if I know one thing about you, in the time we’ve known each other? You’ve already made up your mind. You just haven’t figured out how to make up everyone else’s yet. That makes you about as wondrous as it gets.”
“If you need to contact me, without prying eyes or ears of any kind? You know how to contact me.”
Cassie : There’s a lot of what has been said here that, while interesting and something that might be nice to go into more detail on, has not been at all surprising. The big ‘reveal’ of Tim’s alter ego would have startled me before he went back to Gotham, when I only knew him as Conner’s classmate that knew things. That was why he’d been introduced to me in the first place. But when he’d left, something that he’d said had connected some dots that he, himself, had laid out in that conversation. I don’t know if that had been intentional or not and it’s a distinction that doesn’t really matter to me, either. When one of the talked of Bat Family turned up in my Mom’s office in the middle of Metropolis? I guess I knew. Taking off the mask was confirmation, but why else would he have wanted me to keep Conner out of Gotham? Not just Conner but myself, too.
Wanting to have a chat, subsequently, about the press junket? That makes sense, too. It’d be in his interest to know what’s coming. But what he tells me about when we met, and what he’d though? That surprises me. It also brings up the memory of the three of us jammed into Conner’s sports car with me on Tim’s lap the first time I’d laid eyes on him and that makes my face turn a shade of pink and Mom’s office isn’t nearly dark enough to cover it up. The truth? There was a point where Tim wasn’t even that off, though when I met him I think it wasn’t the case anymore. I also don’t think it’s quite the same type of ‘mark’ that he believed it was either.
What do I say to that? Baww, you’re sweet? Insist that he didn’t need to do that and he doesn’t get Conner at all? Clearly he does. So like I usually do, when I can be anyway, I settle for honest and earnest.
“I appreciate that you were willing to go to the trouble for me, Tim. I really do. It says a lot about you, but it’s telling that you can be counted on to go to an entirely different level for a friend if you’d do that just for some girl.”
This time his clarification/correction, makes my eyes roll slowly as I cant my head to the side like it’s tipped with the effort. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Wording semantics, my expression says, I’m just not coming from the mindset or background where I would ever pair the word ‘Agenda’ with what I want to do with the situation in front of me. There’s a different implication.
“I’m a pretty awful liar, so I’ll just work with what the good God.. either a great saying for me, or just the worst… gave me. I’ll keep an eye out for them and stop pitching the mail sight unseen.”
No question of who, what, where, when or why beyond what he’s told me, because if Tim wanted to tell me right now we’re perfectly well situatied for him to do so. Maybe he’s trying to give me time to let it sink in, to really decide if I’m going to do this or not. If I ‘meant it.’ But it was more or less go time from the moment I got out of that dressing room at the convention. I just hadn’t known it yet. His ‘denial’ of a veto for whatever’s coming might stick in someone else’s craw, but in this case it doesn’t mine. He already knows I want to help, and if it’s someone that really needs it? I’m going to be practically unable to help myself.
“My personal thought is mostly option A. They kicked in on my sixteenth birthday. Like. To the day. I don’t know if it’s some magically significant age to that crowd, or some sort of agreement… I haven’t really asked. I probably should. I just wasn’t in a big hurry to get a handle on all of this. I guess I figured I had time.”
But you never can know if you do, can you? My lips purse, and I’m reminded of just how terribly I feel for Tim and what’s happened in his life. Apparently personal and ‘professional.’ He probably believed he had more of that as well, and here we are. I’m pretty sure none of us are really old enough for the situation at hand, and yet here we are. Fortunately he distracts me from the sadness that’s probably starting to show on my face by his talk of supercomputer hand helds and I let out a low whistle, accompanying a raised eyebrow.
“What is it with boys I know and not sleeping? I’m never going to buy you needing me to tutor you or show you anything ever again you realize.”
I’m smart. I’m very smart actually, and while some people like to tease me about it and how I’ll tell you to your face how clever I am? I don’t typically go into exactly how much smarter I am. I’m gifted in pretty much every sense of the word. Don’t need to be a rocket scientist (or a demi-goddess) to pick up on exactly how much of another level Tim’s on. He’s not even being braggy, so if I correlate that to how I talk about my intellect?
“Smoke signal and a thrift store pager? Laser eyebeam cloud writing? ..yeah I don’t have those still so probably not eyebeam anything. Are you going to join me for this cheesecake you wanted before you…”
I pause, mid-reach for the box I’d brought with me as my eyes sweep the room for some of the utensils that are invariably in here for hastily grabbed meals and snacks, and then purse my lips again. This time in thought as I focus on Tim, and with all the effort of coming here when we’re already secure and in privacy and not giving me the dossier now…
“Huh. Well. That’s crafty and a hair Machiavellian. Next time I see you in person, then.”