Conner: When Cassie called, I was in the middle of flying back to Metropolis. There had been only momentary hesitation before answering. After all, I’d been very close to Gotham! Somehow Cassie knew, that quickly! Am I in trouble? Wait-a-minute. Why would I be in trouble? She’s the one hiding stuff. Including a whole city that she’s been micro-managing me out of. There are very few times in my short life when I knew for certainty that -I- am not the one who should be in trouble. So I’d answered that call. In what was, I have to assume retroactively, one of the most defensive voices that I’ve ever had.
“I wasn’t doing anything! She was in danger, so I was flying her home. That’s it, honestly…wait-what?”
It happens to be a little strange, once I take the time to think about it but… I’d actually forgotten that I was in the process of spying on Cassie when the original distraction happened. She’d been out of town, on what had at the time sounded like another trip to a boring city for another tour of a college she wouldn’t end up selecting. At least, that’s what I had assumed she was doing once she started to explain where she was heading. Fawcett City? The only reason I’ve even ever heard of it, is because of my first case out of the cloning cylinder…
This looks like a job for Superman! Because I’m sure not showing up any other way right now. Calling it in as ‘Work’ also, at least temporarily, gets me off the hook for the situation in Metropolis. Which is to say, I’m not looking forward in to going back and explaining to Doc Fairchild what happened there. Not the real version. Nor the makeshift cover story. All of it is going to be a hard sell, but if I show up with presents? Hey, maybe she overlooks my not bringing in a low-level Meta like the curvaceous Dinah Lance. She might even be in the mood to accept that I’m intending to see Dinah again, which is why I’m not indoctrinating her in to N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
As much as I normally like to make an entrance as the President’s Son, I’m growing to enjoy -this- entrance as well. ‘Look, up in the sky.’ ‘Oh, shut up Betsy, that’s just a bird.’ ‘That ain’t no man, it’s a plane. You need yer glasses checked, Festus.’ Nope. Wrong on all counts, as Cassie can attest once I come down to a landing atop the county courthouse. She’s made some friends it would seem. Is that a Sheriff standing with her?
“Sorry it took so long,” all of about three minutes, give or take a minute for the time change. Which is roughly ten million times the time investment needed to check Cassie out in her uniform. “When I got your call, I was on my way back to Metropolis. I must have been out of my cell network, because it sounded like you said you needed me to send someone to pick up a crocodile.”
Cassie: Guilty conscience. It’s as much a saying as it is an accusation as it is an actual thing. None of them are something that I have ever, and I mean ever attributed to Conner Luthor, despite the thing that he’s done an awful lot of things that most people would probably feel at least a little bit of remorse over. It would also have to imply that he has a conscience. Besides me, that is. Okay, so that’s a tad harsh because it’s not that he’s totally lacking, he just has a skewed sense of a lot of things. You can blame his upbringing for that. No, not the simulated corn-fed variety but what was actually going on at the time. We’re working on it. He’s getting better. Still. I’m utterly unprepared for the stream of words that come out once I’ve had a minute to get Freddy to safety, work out a meeting for later, and then de-sewer myself.
Maybe the stunned silence on the other end had come off like angry fuming since he doesn’t have the ability to pair a facial expression with it. Or at least, I hope he doesn’t because that would mean he had in fact been following me. Blue eyes had gotten progressively narrower the longer he’d gone on though. She? Who’s she and where was he taking her that he feels the need to excuse himself over it? Conner doesn’t excuse or explain himself. Conner just does what Conner wants to do, typically. And that may just have to be a conversation for a later time because there’s something a great deal more pressing going on here.
Apparently these suits are self-cleaning. Very handy. And something I didn’t know before now. I’m sure the Sheriff would have attempted to be very polite if I’d still reeked of sewage and waste, and I’m also sure Conner would have had comments to make were I naked, but since neither of those would have made for very dignified introductions for the local law enforcement to Wonder Woman? Lets just go with ‘it’s a very good thing I have the suit.’ You know what’s also great? That being able to fly means I can make the short trip upwards to hover on the roof in front of him without removing either of my hands from my hips at any point.
The attitude is maybe a little ruined by the fact that I’m trying very hard not to smile. Maybe no one else would pick it out, or even know, but I happen to love flying. It’s the best part of my powers. It’s also the part I get to use the very least, and here I am. Plain view of any of the loiterers that had stuck around afterwards to sate their curiosity about what had happened at the bank, or for me. And I like it.
“Back from where?” So maybe it won’t wait that long before I have to ask. “And you only partially heard me wrong. I need you to pick up some Crocodile Men. Almost a whole pack of them, actually. They seem to have decided today was a good day to pick up bank robbing.”
Conner: “Gotham,” there might just be a hint of guilt in the admission, but I don’t lie to Cassie and I’ve got nothing to hide! Okay. Maybe a little to hide. “Long story. Cliff notes: A very, very, very attractive lead singer, tried to solicit Superman for her audience. It didn’t go well, but for once? Not my fault, and I actually mean it. I had big plans to tell you how you should be proud of me. I was getting so laid, like I would have needed to redefine what it even means to get laid like you were going to lay me.”
Oh. Right. This isn’t a discussion between Cassie Sandsmark and Connor Luthor, we’re supposed to be someone else. Some thing else, entirely, point in fact. I normally do a better job at hiding my proclivities, but it’s been a very long day. Headed in to a very long night. I’m barely comforting myself by looking through Cassie’s costume as it is. I better not do something else stupid right now. So I just sigh out the rest of the ‘short version’ of events, while taking stock of my girlfriend from top to bottom. Then bottom to top.
“She ended up being a Meta. I tried to offer her a way to avoid … them, since she gave herself away in the middle of Metropolis. Turns out she’s part of some sort of Underground, in Gotham. I think she was trying to recruit me with sex. Or maybe she was distracting me, so that her Underground friends could do something. Distract me, with sex. Anyway, she blew my ear drums out. So I threatened to kill her and everyone who ‘witnessed’ the event, unless she let me save her. She gave in. So I dropped her off in Gotham and came here. Gotham Harbor, just outside of the City.”
Ahem. Well that’s my side of the events. Truth is, I never got really question the ‘Why’ of everything. Nor did I get to really follow up on it like I’d been planning. What with the call to come here and help with. “Uh. Crocodile Men? You got to fight Bank Robbing Crocodile Men and I almost got fucked by a good looking super-spy? I love this job!”
My excitement is only moderately restrained, if that, by the fact that my eyes finally shift from her breasts to the large bruise along one forearm. This isn’t the first time that Cassie has seen my eyes begin to glow faintly with a red hue. No small amount of anger surges through me over her being hurt. Though, I’ll be the first to say it. This ‘Job’ is dangerous. We’ve talked about it before. I haven’t done this for the last few years without my own share of bumps and bruises. Some of our foes have strength on par with our’s. It’s only natural that we’ll get hurt in the process. What infuriates me isn’t even that she got hurt. Someone left a mark on my perfect Goddess.
“We’ve encountered a crocodile man before. One in Gotham actually,” stepping in, allowing the cape to cloak the two of us from prying eyes for a moment, while I take her hand in inspection of the bruise. “Why didn’t you call me sooner?”
Cassie: “You. Were in Gotham.”
It’s not a question. I heard him the first time. I don’t even especially need confirmation, because why would he have said it if that wasn’t what happened. He could have said he was literally anywhere else, and that means he’s not lying about it. He was in Gotham, literally the only place I’ve ever tried to keep him out of. I maybe should be disappointed in him, or even mad, but it wasn’t like I didn’t expect it would happen eventually. I was only doing it as a favor to our friend, and it’s kind of a miracle it’s worked as long as it did. He actually manages to sound contrite about it, and I was on my way to deciding to just let it go for the time being in that instant. Then he continues with his story.
“…I should be proud of you because you were going to get laid?!”
I, also, have forgotten where we are and who we’re supposed to be for the moment, and the fact that sound is going to carry even better from this vantage to the area around us, so I clear my throat. Purse my lips together, unclench my fists and lower my voice an octave or two. I’m not sure if I’m regretting our open and honest policy right now, or if I want to be infuriated that he’s talking about sleeping with someone else while he’s doing what he’s doing with his eyes. Yes. I know what he’s doing. I ignore it most of the time. What happens, after that start of an outburst, is an almost comical series of emotions playing across my face, shifting almost as quickly as he relays his Very Trying Evening. Confusion about this underground in Gotham, curiosity if he actually has figured it out entirely. Puzzling over whether or not I should correct him, and if I could even do so without giving away a secret that’s not mine to tell. Actual concern over whether she really blew his eardrums out, and a moment of checking Conner over, until I cycle right back into disbelief.
“…you did what?! Of course she gave in! That’s what sane people…”
You know what. More bait I’m not rising to. Or not rising the rest of the way to, because it’s not intentional on his part. He’s telling me about his day! It just sounds an awful lot like one of my first times meeting Conner Luthor, and apparently it was with a super attractive other blonde. I’m not normally prone to jealousy, and that’s not really even what this is right now. I’m frustrated. Already was before he got here, and now I just need to focus on the matter at hand. Instead of bickering with my boyfriend while the Sheriff and whomever else watches. Pinching the bridge of my nose, there’s an audible sound of teeth grinding for a moment before I continue.
“Crocodile Men. With clown masks. In suits. Saved as many hostages as I could, but some of them had been eaten before I got there and…”
I’m leaving Freddy out of the conversation entirely. See. We don’t have to talk about other blondes to relate the tale of the night! I’m also not ready for him to be brought to anyone‘s attention yet, or rather I don’t think he’s ready. I’d honestly forgotten entirely about the very obvious line of bruises across both front and back of my arm, at least during out little chit chat here. I remember them when I see the obvious sign of anger in his glowing eyes, and follow where they’re angled. Oh. I wince slightly when he takes my arm to inspect the injury. Not because he’s making it worse, it’s just… gotten easy to forget what it feels like to be physically hurt sometimes.
“I’m not sure that there’s a connection, there. The whole situation was reading a whole lot more Nile than River Monchant.”
Because I didn’t -need- you, is the thought that flashes unbidden and definitely unwanted into my head and the second wince is for my own mind rather than my arm, as I lay my other hand on top of the one holding my injured appendage. Why I’m wanting to comfort -him- when he’s excited about some other chick wanting to do him, and he’s going where I told him not to…
“Because it went from thinking the hostages were deluded, to realizing that they were honest to Goodness Crocomaggia robbing the place, and between getting dogpiled and all the rest there just wasn’t time. I’m okay. It’s done. They just…obviously don’t really have a suitable detention facility in Fawcett city for. Well. Monsters.”
Conner: “Not so much in as on the outskirts, where I dropped her off. After we had a heart to heart. Maybe that’s not the right word choice….”
Okay. So Cassie is not reacting with the amount of grateful pride that I was anticipating when originally planning out how I would regale her with this Tale. Let’s me review what I’ve said to her, so as to better re-state why she shouldn’t be mad at me. Hold on. Did I say that I threatened to kill everyone? Probably another poor choice in wording. Damnit, I said I was giving the Cliff Notes! She’s judging me on the Cliff Notes without reading the book! It’s just like I do at school. When the text books lack the answer to the quizzes! They’re not worth reading.
By the point of her voice raising an octave, I’ve put my hand out to forestall getting lambasted, “Wait. Hold on. She did give in! I was testing her. I didn’t know if she was worth saving or if she was really some sort of Meta-Spy sent to attack the President’s Son. You know what I mean? It could have all been a trap. I didn’t know who she was working for, so I needed to know if she would save lives if they were on the line or not. So, I caused a localized earthquake…”
“Wait. Hold on. So it was more like a tremor. Very small. Barely a risk of bringing down the auditorium. And I did it after she attacked me with this super-sonic voice of her’s, that ruptured my ear drums. Limited my choices at that point, y’know?” How did I lose control of all of this so quickly? I know it too. When it’s out of control. A couple of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Proctors could question me for days and I’d barely lift an eyebrow at this. Cassie? Has me stumbling over things I don’t even feel guilty about. “You were going to be proud of me, because she offered to have sex right there on the roof. I turned her down. I even offered to introduce her to some people that might be able to train her. She turned me down, so I went in out of costume to try to approach her incognito. Figured if I could get her on the Luthor record label, she wouldn’t disappear for having a super-wolf whistle.”
“Did I mention how hot this girl was? And that I turned her down? Or that I was trying to help her? Or that she attacked me? Or that she was from Gotham?” You see I’m not having any of this side-tracking. Not yet, at least. I want it stated. For the record. That I should still be getting laid. Because I did everything, just the way Cassie would have wanted me too.
Okay. Maybe not the threat to kill everyone. But. Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. “Well, they only managed to bruise your soft-tissue. It doesn’t look like there’s very much penetration. A couple more bites or some gnawing action though, might have done some real damage.”
This? This is a talk that I can handle without fumbling or screwing up my words. This is the job. Not the one with the Cape. Though as Cassie fills me in on just what she was dealing with? As absurd as it sounds, I don’t even question it. In turn that should clue her in to exactly what strange things I’ve dealt with in my short life-span as an Agent of the Project. While she speaks, I let my eyes grace over the bruises once more, before letting them settle upon those big bright eyes of her’s.
“There’s a facility. I can put them there, but there’s going to be questions. I’ll need to have Megan come too. Especially, if you’ve found another stray to hide in Gotham.”
Cassie: “Did she attack you before or after you threatened her? Because that’s probably a decent indicator of whether she was there to attack Conner Luthor on purpose, or if she didn’t find the Man of Steel as charming and doable anymore.”
He didn’t say he’d threatened this woman in quite so many words, but I know the schpeal. I heard it myself once. I also know Conner’s methods of convincing people to go along with the way he thinks they should be going. He’s getting better! Really! Just apparently not in his recruitment speech. I would actually bring up the fact that I’m betting she knew who he was. Not the President’s son, but Superman, both in and out of costume, because it seems awful suspicious to me. Except maybe I only think that way because of her methods of distracting him, because I knew there would be a distraction just not what kind, and that I’m putting a puzzle together I have more clues for than he does.
My mouth opens to protest the ‘localized earthquake’ but he keeps interrupting, rephrasing, and I’m really not entirely sure if he’s digging himself out of a hole, or making it deeper. Somehow I believe he’s managed to simultaneously do both. I let out a tremendous sigh, and push my free hand back through my hair. Mostly to stop from pinching the bridge of my nose again. Okay, Cassie. Lets stick to the important facts as he seems them and not just what he actually did because… he thinks he did a good thing, or he was trying to, and frankly I don’t want him to decide that’s too much effort in the future. Especially since apparently he’s starting to love this ‘job.’ Because chicks are throwing themselves at him.
“You did mention that. A couple times. I’m sure you made a very good effort. It shattered all his teeth when he chomped my arm. So there wasn’t much biting after that fortunately.”
We’ll leave out where I was fairly sure I was going to be a Croco-amputee and that I was pretty startled I wasn’t at the time. Don’t need to add any drama-trauma and make him that much more excited to be sure and be with me next time. Though that really isn’t fair. I actually like doing this with him. It was the only reason I’d started it in the first place. Then I started to realize, and had it pointed out to me, that I could also do something else and more with it. Over all, it’s boiled down into a clearly very weird day for me, and his weird day is connected to mine though he just doesn’t actually realize how. I’m nodding my head in acceptance, even agreement of what he’s saying. I assumed there’d be a place. Of course there’d be questions. It isn’t until he gets to the part about Megan than I purse my lips and wrinkle my nose.
“I’m not actually hiding anyone in Gotham, Superman. Meta or otherwise.”
Conner: “Before. Like waaay before. I mean she blew my ear drums out after I offered her a contract, with no terms. Just to connect herself with Luthor’s name, to save herself from them. Here I am. Offering mega-bucks with no payoff, I’d already told her that I didn’t want to sleep with her by that point. There wasn’t any catch. So she whammied me. Just for spite, I think. Since it turns out that she’s actually not some Agent of Evil Meta-Humans seeking nefarious whatevers.”
“She’s just some well-trained hot chick. Her Grammy was the original Black Canary. She’s got a legacy of Hot Chick DNA.” Even now. When I know that I’ve lost any hope of the pay off that I was actually after, I’m still working the magic. Siiigh. Sometimes, I should really just shut up. It’s better that way. “Seriously. Mega-Hot-Chick. Turned down. Completely. Shot down. Not because I didn’t want her. Oh-no. You’d have to be blind, deaf, and more than a little retarded. I’m talking Corky from Wonder Years retarded. To not want this girl. She was wearing this little number that I didn’t even need to X-Ray to see through.”
“Didn’t even give her my number, Cassie. I’m a one Woman sort of guy. Especially when my Woman is wonderful. Grade A Goddess.”
Sigh. So. Okay then. Crocodile Men. That’s my night now. No sexy blonde singer. Apparently no Grade-A Goddess ass. It’s hard being Superman. Really hard. With that sigh, I’m visibly slumping. Even I can admit that there comes a point when you’ve just got to accept that you’re not digging yourself out of the hole you’ve dug. Not without a scapegoat. That’s what I’m missing. A scapegoat. One prime suspect, to whom all other blame could be assigned.
This is why I’m okay with her putting together a team. More people to take the blame. “You’ve been keeping me out of Gotham for weeks and I just so happen to get attacked by a meta-human. Who says the only place she can think of that’ll be safe from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is Gotham. It’s alright, Wonder Woman. You keep your secrets, I’ll keep mine.”
“Just remember that the next time you find out that I’ve got to cause an Earthquake to keep the Girls off of me. I won’t even bother you with explaining how I tried to save a Meta instead of throwing them to the wolves. Or how Faithful I was in the face of overwhelming beauty and a siren’s voice.”
With that? I step off the roof, to leave her with those glistening words of my rebuke. See how she likes it! Hah. Why then, do I feel as though, she really doesn’t see how good I was? Ugh. Time to go deal with Crocodile Men. The least confusing part of my whole night.
Cassie: “Okay, okay. But were you doing the thing? You know. The thing you do where you lean in a little and emphasize certain words to make sure someone knows you really mean something else?”
He’s trying really hard. It isn’t that I’m not giving him credit for that part, I’m just not giving him out loud credit for it. It’d be easy to say he’s making up excuses, but there’s a difference in the behavior. I know him. I’ve really only seen him so worked up and flustered one other time, and that was when he tricked me into becoming Wonder Woman in the first place. He hadn’t understood why I was mad, or at least he’d assumed the wrong reason. He thought he was doing good, and what I wanted him to do. I’d just been surprised and taken unaware by the whole thing. It wasn’t what I’d wanted then, but he wasn’t doing a bad thing. Tonight? Well. Frankly it sounds like maybe he did do a bad thing, but he was trying to do something good. And clearly was anticipating an entirely different reaction from me. Except maybe about the part where he was in or around Gotham when I’d told him not to.
“That was probably smart of you. And it’s not what you…”
Think. I could keep talking, despite the fact that he’s just turned his back and dropped off the roof. He’d still hear me, loud and clear, even if I decided to carry on the rest of the conversation in a whisper. The reason a meta would probably feel safe from NOWHERE in Gotham is because there are no metas in Gotham. That fact should probably have been suspicious before since they can possibly crop up anywhere. For there to be such a dead zone for powered people. NOWHERE doesn’t look for metas in Gotham because meta people don’t live there. Only crazy people do, and that’s a perfectly normal and acceptable state of being in this world, apparently.
I’d let him explain poorly. Then re-explain. And explain it again and I don’t even get the chance? I press my bruised arm against my stomach for a moment, like the twinge of the bruises are going to distract me from the way the frustration and unfairness seems to churn and gnaw at me and turn my face skyward for a moment alone with myself, and my grumbling before I push backwards in the air, turning to land once again near the surprisingly calm Sheriff I’d excused myself from for Conner’s arrival.