Cassie : “Congratulations, I think you may actually pass World History this semester.”

Feet kicked up on the coffee table in the living room, like I wouldn’t dare to do if we were in the kitchen and it was that table because A. Manners, and B. Mom would murder me where I sat. The tone is a lilting bit of sarcasm, because he didn’t fail the last one either and the implication that he might at all is a little silly. It’s a matter of whether or not he puts in the effort, not intelligence. He’s already done all this, after all, or at least he has the memories to tell him that he did. Force fed into his developing brain by scientists, or put there by actual educators the result is the same. I mean, I imagine it would be anyway. Especially if, unlike Conner, you weren’t aware there was a difference at all.

He doesn’t need me to do this. The tutoring. We both know it. I knew it before we even started, but it was an excuse. An alibi. At this point it’s almost ritual more than education, some sort of barrier that we create for ourselves before we get to move on with what we really want to do for the evening… no. Not that.

“I think we’re going to need a little more dedication if you want to manage early release from the awful prison of private school.”

He’s technically a junior to my senior, but with my late birthday we’re not all that far apart age wise. If you go by how old Conner Luthor is supposed to be, at least. If we go by actual time on Earth? Well. That’d probably put me beyond pedophile status and into something that man doesn’t even have a full definition for yet. Tossing my obnoxious red marker down on top of the pile of our assorted textbooks, I trade it out for the soda cup that had come with the takeout we’d ordered in. Even though we could have picked it up faster than it took them to get in the car and drive it over here, either one of us. We’re playing at normal, after all.

School work and studying has always been something I’ve made certain we do, but today? I’m dedicating a little more effort than usual. Call it deadlines from the school year that are out of my control, and definitely not my farewell visit with Tim Drake.

Conner : The little creatures who’s psionic training I had endured while in that cloning tank were very thorough. Not only do I have all the memories of a life that supposedly ran the course of fifteen years, at that time, but I’ve also got the emotions of it. The trouble for them, and frankly everyone else, is that my teachers under-estimated their creation. It had always a world of layers. Much like the real world. The virtual reality, psionic impression, whatever. As my Kryptonian side began to display itself, I was able to begin picking things up that didn’t make sense. Sounds, impressions, sights, that went beyond the scope of the training scenario.

Eventually, I’d begun to test the boundaries of the world I found myself in. Surprisingly, the boundaries had surrendered pretty easily. I could ‘cheat’ in the training room. Enhanced Vision could peer through the illusions. Enhanced hearing could hear my trainers discussing the potential results. At that point it became a game to me. What could I accomplish to please. How could I fail that would merit punishment. Could they force me to take part in their tests?

Unfortunately for the real world, the true results were that I came out of that cloning vat with a lot of knowledge but almost no emotional connection to anything. At the time, I just didn’t care about anything. There was as little sympathy for the bad guys that my handlers sent me after, as there was for a kitty in a tree. Meaning to say, none at all.

I’m pretty sure that’s why N.O.W.H.E.R.E. originally fostered my connections to Cassandra Sandsmark. That too had, in a way, backfired. While they believed themselves able to use her against me, they hadn’t realized that my lack of fear meant that I wasn’t easily controlled. Over all, I think we had come to a stalemate of sorts. Until my Father stepped in. Seeing the opportunity to use Cassie as the carrot, upon the stick to directing me in to keeping his popularity soaring.

“It was already a lock,” there’s a dimple in the smirk she’s affixed with. “We have a game next week. Coach took care of it for me.”

There was a time when I might not have told Cassie of this. She’s not one for the cheating. More over she seems to hate it when I invoke privilege. Whether it be my father’s name or something like my Coach insuring his star player makes it to the next game. But, I’ve also learned that Cassie is starting to realize that this is all a charade in the first place. I’m pretending to be a student. In fact, I’m pretending to be a bad student and an awful person, because it is the role I’m cast in. My ‘secret identity,’ happens to be that I’m the son of Lex Luthor. President of the United States. Metropolis’ first Son.

“Cass, if I get any more dedicated I’m going to have to buy a pocket protector. This is all just silly stuff anyway. We all know the Victor writes the history. So in a couple years I’m going to have to re-learn all of this in Chinese anyway.”

While the studying isn’t my gig? Take out food is one of the few loves in my life. One does not jest about Delivery Pizza, or in this case Delivery Indian food. “Let’s talk about something really important. Like what the … &^%$… is this red chickeny goodness?! My tastebuds are overloaded with spices. I don’t know whether to heat vision it all out of existence, ask you to kiss it better or eat more…”

“You. Really. Should. Kiss it all better. I mean.”

Cassie : Rolling my head to the side, the purse lipped look Conner gets is plainly my going through the thoughts of ‘haha, really?’ to ‘no, you’re kidding,’ to remembering that yes, I absolutely believe that could have happened, and therefor ‘nope, you’re not kidding,’ onto ‘ugh, Conner…’ I’d like to say it’s much harder for me to believe that than it actually is. But the combination of who he’s supposed to be, with who he really is, means I just happen to know better.

“He shouldn’t have done that, you’re totally capable of doing this.”

Capable and motivate are different things. Here’s a fundamental difference between the pair of us though. It would really bother me to get a failing grade, hell even a C, even though I’ve had about exactly the same amount of exposure to ‘actual’ school as he has. Before last year, I was ‘home’ schooled, just a global never in the same place sort of home. With different teachers sometimes, but usually just my Mom or some self-motivated studying. Conner is smart enough to do this, he probably knows the information already. He just doesn’t have to try because someone else will try for him.

In this case, someone went to the effort, to reward him for/make use of his half-assed effort on the basketball court and this is a game that works for my boyfriend. Anyone who plays into his ‘player’ reputation frankly has no idea how deep the game goes. But then, why should they?

“You will not, you don’t even have a pocket in the right place to need one.”

The sigh of frustration is much more at his selection for winning country than his general attitude towards our high school level educations.

“China? Not likely. Not unless we magically end up in Asia. Then it might be more of a threat. Unless you mean Economically instead of on the Military front.”

Plucking the carton in question out of his hands lets me peer into it, to double check the contents before fishing out a nibble of it myself. It’s a riot of spices, but not in a way that threatens to overwhelm me. My globe trotting upbringing with Mom meant I was introduced to a lot of different types of food, and none really ever became default normal for me. I am not actually much of a fan of many ‘American’ classics, because I find them bland. But, I also don’t have quite the same level of heightened senses as Conner does.

“What, the tandoori? Cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne… baby need some yogurt?”

It’s not the term of endearment version of the word ‘baby’ so much as my teasing him as I put on a look of overdone sympathy for him and his poor tongue. I may be rolling blue eyes at him, but I leave off licking the chicken’s coating off my fingers to lean over and give him that requested kiss anyway. At least for his lips. The rest of his mouth is just going to have to deal.

Conner : “Listen, Cassie, he wanted to do this for me. I didn’t want to do the test. When our wants align, we become Captain Planet. So we made it so.”

If the nonchalance with cheating was one thing, then casual manner in which I’m blowing the whole thing off? Is sure to make the girl next to me twitch in all the right ways. Or wrong ones. Depending upon your vantage point. But the deeper side of this all? Is that Cassie really has to wonder about it all. Am I blowing it off? Do I know the information? Could it be that I’m abusing my Name or is this really about playing the role. The answer might be any of those, but since she loves to manage the person I am? I take a great deal of pleasure in making her work for it.

“Pocket Protector. Right here. Maybe some glasses. Actually, I bet that I look even better with glasses. Have you ever noticed that any time there’s Hotness, you just add glasses and it dials it up ten percent. Why don’t they ever do math problems like that? If you take one hot Cheerleader. Add blonde hair, but subtract a Bra, while supplying her with glasses and a libido. Does she Rule the World?”

The kiss is taken, appreciated for what it was and eye narrowing accusation for what it was not, before I’m on to drowning the spices out with sweet tea. Sweet Tea and little bit of a snort over her for the baby comment.

“Everyone knows China is going to rule the world in the next ten to fifteen years. It’s inevitable. Just look at this growth. In economical and financial merit alone, they’re the only threat to the American Way of Life. If they weren’t my Father wouldn’t spend so much time having his PCTSA devising plans for the ‘China Solution.’ So far they’ve come up with something a lot like your Ancestors employed. Salt the Earth, I think your Father called it.”

Snatching Cassie’s hands in an effort to lick away residue. Either to prove that I’m not a baby or to tease her, maybe both. “So. Wanna put on the costumes and go out for a Fly? I hear Gotham is nice this time of year.”

Cassie : “Uh huh. Which one are you? Full of wind, and Coach is Heart?”

In this case, I think it’s some of all of the above. Most people don’t like taking tests, your average jock probably wants to even less and for Conner it’s a pointless exercise to show that he knows something he doesn’t need to know, coupled right along side with it being perfectly normal and expected for him to not do it at all. Maybe if the teachers couldn’t tell that he’s smart they’d try harder, or maybe if his father wasn’t Lex Luthor…

That’s not a string I get to pull. I mean, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. Maybe that’s a good thing, since in the grand cosmic scheme of things when you’re looking at influence, and power, my father may actually be one of the only people that could outstrip his in the first place. But if I started demanding my math teacher let me out of a calculus test because the God of the Gods decreed it so, they’d just send me to the nurse’s office thinking I was having a psychotic break.

“No, she doesn’t. Because she’s responsible with no world-conquering desires. She might flex that nerd cred to wrap some unsuspecting meathead around her little finger though.”

I ignore the lewder part of that comment, because fussing or commenting on it would just make him latch onto it even more. Besides. The commentary on China is enough confirmation that he does actually pay attention to things outside of what’s just going on in the ten feet around him. I know he does. It’s why I don’t get as upset as I could about the whole test situation. I get it. I do. I also know he’s putting in way more effort for my benefit than he actually needs to.

“Scorching to precede the salt? Maybe a little Patricide as a warm-up?”

Another point towards the argument that he pays attention outside of the immediate area, and further reason to internally grouse and grump at Tim’s methods when a phone call would probably have been more likely to escape Conner’s notice. I let myself be distracted for just a moment by what he’s doing, and not focusing on what he’s saying even though I heard perfectly clear. The attention leaves me clearing my throat softly, feeling my cheeks get a hair warm.

“Where’d you hear that, and was it Opposite Day when you heard it? Gotham is awful.”

He’s never expressed even the slightest interest in Gotham. Like ever. While logically I know that not everything we hear on the news sums up the city, and that it likely has its bright spots? Here in Metropolis you just don’t really hear about them unless you’re hunting. Whereas this boy very likely put a two and two together of his friend wandering off to ‘somewhere’ in connection with other things and now is curious about the whys. But you don’t tell him no without offering an alternative. You just don’t. People like the Luthors don’t get told no without it tripping their ego/power switch.

“But I do want to go flying.”

Leaning more into Conner’s side than into the back of the sofa, I nuzzle my nose along his shoulder and hip his neck. It could probably be more overt flirting, but if I oversell the snuggling he’s just going to know I’m trying to pull a fast one. Or at the very least distract him.

“We could go get some legit kulfi? They didn’t have them at this place. It’s like the best Popsicle you could ever have.”

Conner: “Isn’t that cute? It’s like you haven’t even ever met me before. I couldn’t be one of those jerks. I wouldn’t combine my power with someone else. I’d just handle the problem. By myself. It’s what I do. Coach is all heart though. You should have seen the way he was grousing about my spending all my time with my tutor, but not learning anything but how to ogle my girlfriend.”

“Lookit you thar, being all smarmy and egotistical all at once. Who said anything about you being the nerdy cheerleader, ruling the world?” Clearly having it not occur to him that she might be suggesting he were that meathead. “Besides which. If you think about it. You would do such a good job at it. You’ve spent your whole life learning about all the Historical things that the world should never repeat.”

“Plus. I mean. Have you considered how much you’d enjoy taking this whole high road, holier than thou routine on the road? You’d have the whole world to boss around, sass and correct whenever they do anything wrong.”

If I were smirking before it’s grown by a factor of ten now. Not only do I like teasing her, but I love it when she makes it easy for me. Sure, I’ve got to deal with being teased about my burning tongue to get there, but once we make it I get the payoff of watching her flush. Sometimes she even sputters. But if the worst case happens and Cassie gets mad at being teased? Well then the makeup activities usually more than makeup for everything else anyway.

For more than a few moments I’m really concerned about getting every last bit of spices off of her fingers. One at a time. Focused, in fact. To the point of letting the conversation take it’s own course, with Cassie turning aside my ideas about Gotham. Then as she is making her own round about counter-idea? I let my touch wander up her arm, skimming across clothing to the side of her neck. I’m just about to sneak a kiss from her, when I settle back rather suddenly and give her the one thing I know she isn’t counting on.

“Okay. But. Only if you let book the night at the Marari.” A fingertip lightly taps her upon the nose, then trails down across her lips, silencing her immediate acceptance of the terms. “And. Pack your bags.”

You see. There are consequences to managing your boyfriend. Especially when he knows you’re doing it. This is merely a question of negotiation now. How important is denying me access to Gotham. What can I get out of it and will Cassie make it worth not pursuing what I’m really interested in? No matter how she responds to this, I’ve gotten information -or- I’ve gotten a large payoff. The only thing I know for sure, is that she’s not going to call my bluff. Because she knows I don’t actually bluff. My complete lack of shame, patience or material attachment affords me no reason to actually bluff.

“What. Haven’t you seen the news? They’re having so much fun over there! All those crazy costumes. Criminals in every corner. It looks like a job for Superman… just the sort of thing you’ve been wanting me to do with my powers.”

Oh, yeah. That’s right. Add a side of her words against her. Push the angle of doing the right thing. I’m going to India tonight, folks. I don’t win these very often. So when there’s opportunity? I’m letting the smirk out in full two-dimple force. The kind of smirk that says I’ve already packed her bag, I just can’t wait for her to unpack it.

Cassie : “Hah. If you’ve ever said a more true thing than that, I don’t know what it is…”

He’s not joking, and while he’s teasing and answering my banter, it is precisely what I said. True. When you’re a Super and a Luthor there’s not much that’s outside your ability to grab and/or do, so why do you need to share or lean on anyone else? I guess it’s fortunate for me that I fill a niche that he can’t just get for himself or we probably wouldn’t be together. And the fact that I’m not much in for being used makes this a bit different than most other relationships with people he’s got right now. I’ve got my own powers, I don’t care about the influence of the money.

“I would probably make a pretty great Benevolent Overlord. History just also says that never really ends well for anyone. So I’ll just settle for bossing around my very own Superboy.”

All through this, I’ve gotten a little more progressively pink in the face, up until I’m to the point of attempting to reclaim my fingers from him, but when it comes down to it Conner is stronger than me. For now. And the amount of struggle I’d have to put up to win that mini-battle isn’t worth it. So I’m pretty grateful for the moving on to kissing again, for a whole variety of reasons. You know. Up until he just stops. Leaving me huffing in disappointment, and narrowing my eyes at him. That was too quick an agreement, so I purse my lips, blue eyes flicking towards the cellphone that is all that had stopped my marker from rolling onto the floor. I don’t know the name. That makes me want to stoop to Google before I agree to anything here.

Turnabout is not fair play and no one that’s ever experienced it would ever say so. This is a big circle of flipped ideas we’ve got going here, from turning the Gotham trip to India, to where we are now.

“Uh huh… it is…”

I don’t even try to hide my suspicions as to what he’s up to. He’s probably up to many things right now, and the number of dimples is exponentially related to how much trouble I’m going to be in. But if there’s no trip to the other side of the world tonight? We’re going to Gotham. This probably should be a no-brainer. I should just text Tim and say ‘sorry, pal I tried, really I did’ and just go with it. But he’s not the only one I want using their powers for good, and I really do actually like a great Indian dessert. Especially when you get it in India.

“Fine. But you have to call my Mom.”

Conner : “You’d make an excellent ‘Benevolent Overlord,'” there’s seemingly no teasing about it, it was after all my idea. “Think about it. Between the pedigree you’ve got and the chops you’ve earned from bossin me around? You’d be a natural.”

Alas, we both know the discussion about her being the Overlord has passed. What with the kissing, the exploring, the moment when we were about to take our playfulness from smooching to make out session. Complete with more than a little bit of blushing from one of the two of us. Only for the entire thing to be denied in the face of her having this entire thing turned around on her.

It doesn’t happen often. Me winning at something like this. Not to say that I don’t win, because I do. Fairly often even. This is just the exception to the rule, that says Cassie always wins when she’s the one employing the tactics of seemingly giving me what I want, while getting what she wants. This must be a bitter medicine, in a way. Especially once she recognizes it for what it happens to be. That’s the worst for me too. When I realize she’s gamed me. I like that she has Game, I just don’t like it put forth upon me.

At the moment, the exact moment, of agreement? I’m swooping in to sneak a kiss. A real kiss. Soft at first, but putting coal upon the fire of the heat in her cheeks that was only beginning before. There’s something more to all of this. Not only did I buy in too quickly, but I’ve not let up upon getting what I want. If anything the kiss is as much celebratory as anything.

“No worries, Brighteyes. I talked to Mom earlier and told her we were taking a ‘cultural road trip.’ She was worried about it being a school night,” flashing that charming smile, which involves more than a little batting of the eyes. “But I promised to talk to you about not forgetting the ‘Potential of Schools Abroad,’ too.”

“I’ll grab our swim suits from California. Put a couple things in there to keep us busy on the flight over…” Fwooosh! Cassie’s hair rustles in the displaced wind from my speeding away.

Cassie : “Maybe I’ll work up to that. Do Overlords have Consorts, because I think that title would fit you pretty well. You know. Unless you keep teasing me…”

It’s all rather rhetorical though. The teasing and banter results in a lot of those questions, and in many cases goes until one or the other of us has to shut the other up in creative, affectionate ways. Well, usually they’re affectionate. I was all ready for it to continue in that direction, too, up until Conner put on the brakes to frustrate me and capitalize on a moment when things were decidedly in his favor. Very like him, really. Damn it all.


I’d say that the kiss is my reward for going along with what was maybe his plan all along, and in part? Maybe it is. But it’s also about throwing me off. Keeping me off balance until the moment where there’s simply no getting my footing back at all. I wasn’t ready for the kissing to resume. Into it enough that once again, I’m not ready for it to stop, so that once again I’m letting out a soft complaint. But there’s no denying Conner’s pleased. Too pleased, for this to just have happened to go his way and that concerns me. A lot.

“How nice of you. Always thinking about my future…”

My tone is dry, and a little bit exasperated. He’s already talked to my Mom? Definitely up to something, and I’m replaying the day to see at what point I started tip toeing into this trap, and wondering how obvious it was before the moment it sprung closed on me.

“On the flight over? We’ll be flying on the flight… hey!

Double damn it.

With a much louder noise of frustration, I toe his textbook cover closed, the rest of the pages had flipped in his passing and lost our place as it was. My stomping of displeasure as I go upstairs in a normal, teenage girl sort of antic. I just have to make sure to stomp gently, but quite loud enough that he’s going to hear it just the same.