Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):

    Kal & Lyla

    Part 4

    by DarkMark

Nar-Es didn’t like riding in a hovercab beside Kara when she got that look in her eyes.  

“Karaish,” he said, “you don’t have to handle this yourself.  You don’t gotta handle it at all.”

“Freeze it, Nar,” she said, dressed in a blue jumpsuit and looking straight ahead.  

“The newsers will hear about it,” he persisted.  “This kind of publicity, you don’t need.”

“This kind of publicity, he doesn’t need,” said Kara.  “And if he gets it, maybe he’ll learn from it.”

“Maybe you will, too,” said Nar.  “Seems the only way you learn about things is the hard way.”

She stared at him.  “And you were a great teacher.”

“That’s the problem.  Those kind of lessons, I didn’t teach.”

The cab stopped and lowered to the street in front of a bar.  Kara plugged her credit chip into the slot provided.  “Wait here,” she told the cabbie.

“One last chance, Kara,” said Nar, as she opened the door.  “Forget about it.”

“Come with me if you want,” she said.  “Otherwise, can it and let me do my job.”

She pushed her way through the door, submitted to an eyescan in the vestibule for a cover charge that was automatically deducted from her account, and stomped into the bar as soon as the door opened.  Nar rushed after her but had to submit to the scan as well, and was far behind her by the time the door opened for him.

A few seconds after he entered the place, which strove for a touch of pre-Destruction atmosphere in its nostalgic setup, he heard one man cry out and a number of others making a hubbub.  Nar heard Kara’s voice.   “He’s paid for that drink?”

“Well, yes, tynth.”

“Good.”

Nar rushed in that direction.  Kara was already hauling Van-Ol out by his collar and right arm.  He looked a little less than perambulatory.  Judiciously, Nar got him by the other arm in a fireman’s carry.

“Kara,” said Van, focusing on her.  “Didn’t have to do this.”

“Shut up,” she said.

    -K-

The three of them sidled thru Van’s doorway a little while later.  The lights shifted from dim to bright, gradually, as they entered.  Van moaned, “Lights.  Down.”  

Kara said, “Lights.  Same.”

“I think the newsers are gonna hear about this, Karaish,” said Nar, ruefully.  They were maneuvering their charge towards a couch.

“What’s a picture without a scandal, Nar?”  They plonked the scriptwriter on the couch and stood up.  He rested his chin on his chest and said nothing.

“Kara,” said Nar.  “Do you know how many times I’ve been in a bar like that?  Or in bars a lot less good-looking than that one?”

“Doesn’t matter, Nar,” she singsonged.  “You go get some sleep.  I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Go easy on him, Karaish,” he said.  “He’s just letting off pressure.”

“Nar,” she said, taking him by the arm and steering him towards the doorway.  “Goodbye.”

Nar-Es let himself out.

As soon as the door was closed, Kara spun around, her eyes blazing.  She crossed the room, doing her best impression of a sergeant about to dress down his sloppiest private.  The sounds of her plastic-shoed feet snapping down on the floor echoed throughout the whole room.

Van looked up at her, bleary-eyed, with a look of incomprehension on his face.

She stopped a few feet away from him and sighed.  Then she turned to the north wall of the room.  “Get me a couple of blankets and one sleeping cushion,” she said.

“Acknowledged,” said the house voice.  

Within a minute, hovering, tiny servorobs appeared, six of them in all.  Two apiece held the ends of two blankets and a self-inflating cushion for the floor.  She took one blanket from the servos and, holding it in one hand, used her other to ease Van into a lying position on the couch.  “Wha’s problem?” he said.

She took off his shoes and dumped them on the floor.  The free servos snagged them and buzzed away with them to the cleaning machine.  Glancing at them for a second, Kara turned back to Van and covered him with the blue blanket.  “You’ll find out about it in the morning,” she said.  “Get some sleep.  Now.”

“Script okay?”

“Script’s Sheol-sight better than you are right now,” she said.  Kara took the rolled-up cushion from two of the servos.  She spread it on the floor about ten feet away from the couch, letting it inflate on its own.  Kicking off her own shoes, Kara snatched the brown blanked away from the final two servos.

“Lights.  Out,” she said.  The room went dark.

She looked at Van.  He was already snoring.

Kara lay down on the cushion, spread the blanket over herself, and settled herself in.  True, she wanted to give him the third degree about getting moonfaced in public.  Sure, he was under a hell of a lot of strain.  But so was she.  And juicing wouldn’t do either of them any good.

But she couldn’t stay mad at him.  She just couldn’t.

At least not tonight.  In the morning, it might be a different story.

    -K-

Van awoke to the pain familiar to anyone who’s ever had a hangover.  “Ouch,” he muttered, putting hands to his head.  “House.  Painease.”

A wall-slot flew up and a servo with an airspray gun emerged.  Van heard Kara say, “Cancel order.”

“House.  Overriding her.  I am the owner.  Deliver Painease.”

As the servo zipped nearer, Van saw Kara sitting up on a floor cushion mat.  “You might want to order a bigger dose for what I’m going to do to you,” she said.

“Oh.  Kara,” said Van.  “Are you the reason I’m here?”  He tried smoothing his hair back with both hands.  The servo pressed the nozzle of the airgun to his shoulder and dosed him with an antidote to the hangover.  The throbbing of his cranial caverns began to ease.

“I’m one of them, darling,” said Kara, taking a seat beside Van on the couch.  “Five.”

“Five what?”

“Four.  Three.  Two.  One.  What in Sheol were you doing getting drunk in the middle of a project?

“Quit yelling!”

“I’m not yelling!  You ought to hear me when I start to yell, brother!”

Well, whatever you’re doing, quit!  The Painease hasn’t kicked in all the way yet!”

“All right.  What in the name of Father Rao and Mother Moon were you doing in a bar, when we’ve got a job to do?”

“Kara.”

“When we’re trying to keep a lid on it?  Trying to keep it secret, for R**’s sake?  Any of this gets out, and not only do we lose the surprise factor, another studio could scoop us, Van!”

“Kara.”

“I want to know exactly what you told anyone when you were in there.  From the barkeep to the barflies to the bot in the restroom.  Anything and everything, Van.  ‘Cause if we have to pay off anyone to keep it secret, it’s going to come out of your share.”

Kara...”

“You’d better have a good memory, and you’d better spill it all.  Talk to me.  Did you tell them the name of the show?  Did you tell them what we were doing?  Did you tell them who was in it?  Did you tell them what we’ve filmed?”

“KARA.”

“What?”

“I told them,” he said, “that I thought I was falling in love with you.”

Silence.

Van, a bit of five-o’-clock shadow showing, in rumpled and smelly clothes, definitely looking the day after the night before, did a staring contest against Kara’s open mouth.  At least thirty seconds passed.  “Do you want me to say it again?”

“No!”

“Look, I’m sorry, Karaish.”

“Karavia.”

“All right, Karafrabbingvia.  You got the message?”

“That’s,” Kara started, then started again. “That’s why you went to a bar?”

“Well, that and the pressure, yeah,” he said.  “I’ve been putting in a lot of hours on this one.  Writing work tires you out just like muscle work, only it’s your brain getting tired and telling your body, not the other way a—“

“You told the bartender you were in love with me?”

“Yeah, him and the one guy who stood me to a few.  That’s about it, I think.  Mighta talked something about sports, too.  Yeah, probably did.  For instance...”

“Van.  Shut up.”

“Kara.”  He turned to her and his eyes, though reddened, were ablaze.  “Don’t tell me to shut up.  Not in my house, not anywhere.  I may be in love with you, but I am tired of being patronized.”

“Then quit being worthy of it!”  Kara was face-to-face with him, her eyes just as blazing as his.  “Start acting like a grownup in this endeavor, not a boy wonder who’s lucked his way onto this assignment.”

“Grownup!  At least I don’t have to pretend I’m a dead actress in a bikini.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

“Not in this picture.  If you want to kink up the next one...”

“Please, Van.  Even if I wanted a drag queen, I’d draft somebody better than you.”

“Well!  I am offended.”

Kara turned away and walked barefooted to the archway which led to the kitchen.  But she didn’t go through.

“Kara,” said Van.

She still waited.

“What in Sheol do you want me to say?  I’m not sorry I tied one on.  I had to.  I don’t do it very often.  But...well...maybe you have a point.  Maybe with all the security and all, I should have done it here.  I just needed to get out, that was all.  I needed some time alone, away from the house, away from the movie, even away from you.  A man needs that.”

Kara didn’t say anything.  She kept standing, facing away from him, her arms crossed.

“All right, I’m sorry I got drunk in public,” he said.  “But I’m not a, a boy wonder.  I’m not sloppy seconds here.  I’m a partner.”  He paused, and then walked towards her, stopping a few feet away.  “I see.  You’re mad because I told somebody I was falling for you.  Well, if it makes you feel better, I’m sorry I told somebody that I...”

She whirled on him and clasped his head between her hands.  His mouth hung open and the next word lay frozen in it.

“Van, you idiot,” Kara said, her eyes moist, “don’t you know that’s the one thing you did last night I’m not mad about?”

Her mouth found his and somehow, between the two of them, they made their way back to the couch.

    -K-

“Kara?”

“Uhhmm?”

“How’d we stay on the couch?”

“I’m pretty good at balancing.”

“If you want to call it that, I’d say you are.”

“You remember what I was before I got into the movies, Van?”

“You put enough holds on me already.”

Silence.  Some laughter.

“Van?”

“Hmmm?”

“How’d we end up here?”

“Walked here from the doorway.”

Whack.

“That’s not what I mean!”

“Spell it out for me.”

“I never would have thought of you, as...”

“Yes?”

“...my type.”

“So now you have a type?”

“I suppose I did.”

“So tell me about your type.”

Sigh.  “You want me to tell you about all my exes?”

“Only the ones that were your type.”

“Well...there was Jerro.”
“Who was he?”

“From Atlantis.  On Earth.  Under the sea.”

“Under the sea?”

“Yes.  He was sweet.”

“Your first lover was from Atlantis?”

“Oh, he wasn’t my lover.  Just a boyfriend.  I was 15 years old.”

“I can see that might have made dating kind of troublesome.  Only going out for sea food.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“One of my better points.  So this guy was like Superman’s friend, what did they call him...Aqua?”

“Aquaman?  No.  Aquaman’s a different kind of Atlantean.”

“How different?”

“He had legs.  Jerro had...”

“I don’t wanna know it.”

“Well.  You did want to know.”

“How’s about some of the others?”

“One of them I can’t tell you about.”

“Why not?”

“Hasn’t been born yet.”

Silence.

“Okay.  We’ve gone from a guy under the sea to somebody who hasn’t been born yet.  I’m trying to see a pattern here.”

“Hey.  Even Kal fell for Lori Lemaris once.”

“The mermaid?”

“The very one.”

“And so your Jerro had...”

“Van...”

“...a fish’s tail.”

Giggling, starting slowly and building to full fury.

“Oh, Van, stop it!”

“I can’t, I can’t help it!  I’m trying to imagine...”

“Don’t you dare!”

“...’Come here, my dear, to the spawning ground.’  YIPE!  Har har harrr!”

“Giggle machine, how’re you going to giggle in this headlock?”

“Like this.  Hee hee hee heee...”

“Stop...hee hee hee...Vannn...will you STOP it...heeee hee hee...”

Thump of two bodies tumbling to the floor and uproarious laughter.

“How’d we end up here?”

“I don’t know.”  Kiss.  “Not really concerned.”  Kiss.  “Want to know about more of my exes?”

“Do I dare?”

“There were a few that were important.  Like that underground prince I almost married, and the Hakawee who wanted to marry me so he could rule the universe...Van, don’t even start...and that hot guy who turned out to be from the Phantom Zone.”

“A Zoner?”

“Yup.  Another plot.  I don’t want to go into that, if that’s all right by you.”

“I think I can live without it.”

“And then there was Dick Malverne.”

“Who was he?”

“He used to be Dick Wilson.  He was a guy I knew in the orphanage.  We both got adopted and went to high school together.  Dated him a lot, back then.”

“So you liked him?”

“Yeah.  I liked him.  Thought he looked nice.  But...I didn’t love him.”

“Did he seem dull?  I mean, after all the guys with fins and the ones who hadn’t been born yet?”

“Maybe.  I don’t know.  I guess...maybe I was protecting myself.  I’d lost, or thought I’d lost, my parents, my people, my whole world.  The only one I knew was Kal.  You don’t know how grateful I was for him, Van.  You really have no idea.”

“Oh, I can imagine.”

“Keep doing that to my shoulders.  It feels good.”

“You were saying?”

“I guess I was afraid, underneath it all.  There I was, with all the powers in the world.  I could lift mountains, Van.  I could fly faster than a starship.  I could soar thru space under my own power, Van, and I did.  I really did.  Unless you’ve had powers, you can’t know what that’s like.  But I guess I was afraid to love, all the way, because I...”

Silence.

“Because you lost all the ones you’d loved.”

“Yes.”

“That why you never got married?”

“Maybe.  I don’t know.  Maybe because everyone on Earth was so different from everyone on Argo City.  Jerro, Br...the other guy...they seemed, oh, kind of exotic.  Not like regular Terrans.  But I couldn’t see living in a little bottle all my life, in Kandor.  Then Kal and I enlarged it, finally, and now I’m here.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I’m home.  And maybe I’m not afraid anymore.  At least, not afraid to love.”

“Y’know, Kara...call me a tangent-thinker...but I think I understand how to write this picture.  At least, how to write it better.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. Somebody else wasn’t afraid to love, back then.  When he came home.”

“Oh, dear Rao.”

“You think, well...”

“What?”

“I shouldn’t say it.”

“Tell me, Van.”

“You maybe think that you know...how Lyla felt?”

Silence.

“Maybe I do, Van.  Just a little.  Maybe I do.”

“There’s a real tragedy coming up, Kara.”

“What?”

“I want to have you again.  But you’ve got a meeting with To-Bin in an hour.”

“Oh, frab.  You’re right.  But there’s always tonight.”

“Yeah.  Which is a lot more than Kal and Lyla had.”

“No. They had their nights.  The only difference was, Kal thought he knew just how many they’d have.”

“And it turned out he was wrong, too.  Nobody knows.  Nobody really knows.”

“Help me up, Van.  I think...I know we’re going to make this thing work, now.  I’ve got to get dressed.”

“Okay.”

“And afterward, you can help me get dressed.  In reverse.”

“As long as you give me enough time to bang out some pages, Karavia.”

“Always, Van. Always.”

    (next chapter)

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