Auld Lang Syne: Part 3 Lost Legend: Requiem for a Superman:

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Auld Lang Syne: Part 3 Lost Legend: Requiem for a Superman:

Postby Clay Clearbrook on Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:47 am

The Continuum Cafe
© Eldric 2006
Auld Lang Syne: Part 3
Lost Legend: Requiem for a Superman: Part 2

Continuum Cafe


The tour over, Kal searched for Jennie, finding her in a small darkened room, sitting at a small table, sipping the last half of a cup of coffee, the emerald hue of Jade now faded. An old Dr. Who episode played on a small television across the table from her. She reached over to turn it over as he approached.

“Hipkarma, Draco, and Stee like this program,” she explained, turning towards him and gesturing at a chair, “I’m still trying to get the hang of it.” Gazing up towards him, “so, how was the tour?”

“I learned a lot,” Kal sat down in the offered chair, “I didn’t realize what this place was…an intersection of so many worlds.” He leaned towards the table. “Stee is a very good host; he even opened a portal to a world with a yellow sun. It’s done a lot to bring my powers back. I’m feeling a bit stronger.”

“You look much better,” Jennie acknowledged.

“Jennie?”

“Yes?”

“What happened to you?” Kal inquired gently, “…after?”

“After I realized that I was draining the elf?” Jennie waited for his nod, “I realized that I was doing something wrong and that I had to stop. But once I forced myself to reject the power, things got even weirder.”

“How so?”

“Would you like some coffee?” She waited for his head to shake before continuing. “I blanked out. Then I woke up as a ghost in a world between the living and the dead…I had been called by the Thunderbolt to do one specific thing. But once that was done, I was able to remain long enough to channel my father’s power, just long enough to say ‘Goodbye’ to him.” She closed her eyes, sighing, “Dad…I’m so sorry…” Opening her eyes a moment later, she gazed at Kal once more, “then I felt something tearing within me...as if I had left something behind. And then I awoke in this world, but with a difference...”

“You were Jennie again,” Kal surmised, “with your own power…no longer a psychic vampire.”

“Yes,” she stared into her coffee cup, “feeling a full measure of guilt. Cheating on my boyfriend had helped to doom me in the first place. And I had stolen power in this realm to keep going.”

“Stealing power was not your fault…” Kal explained.

“Some of it was…” Jennie admitted, “I arose not far from the Café…” She drew in a breath, “funny…I tried so hard to find the courage to go in to apologize…I thought I was so alone…but I learned much later that I wasn’t.”

“You seem to blend in so easily…”

She laughed sharply.

“I was so afraid…and I am never afraid. I watched visitors go in and out for several days before I found the courage to knock on the door…in the middle of the night. How courageous isn’t that?” She chuckled. “I didn’t realize that I had chosen the time of night when only the elf would be up. He opened the door and I turned to flee…”

“But you didn’t.”

“No,” she gazed at him, “Somehow I didn’t. He invited me in, fed me the worst and best meal I’ve ever had, and found a place for me to stay. Then he offered the one thing I needed the most.”

“Forgiveness?” Kal suggested, questioning.

“Even better!” Jennie smiled warmly, genuinely, “a purpose…a real job, something I could do, and do well! Standing bar, I get to meet all kinds of interesting people and I am useful…I make a real contribution to the place.” She shook her head thoughtfully. “Oh, geez, I was a mess when they took me in…I still am, in a lot of ways…but, finally, I began to feel alive again.”

“That I could hear!” Kal admitted, grinning “you seem to be very well liked.”

“Thank you, Uncle Clark.” Smiling, she stood up, pouring more coffee into her mug. “You have stumbled into a magical place here…the darkness of the surrounding realms can’t penetrate. I’ve seen those realms…run more than a few errands for Stee, some in some pretty nasty places.”

“You don’t fear those places? …what could happen to you there?” Kal stood up, walking towards the counter and leaning against it as she poured her coffee.

“No,” Jennie admitted, “strange, I know, since Stee is one of my ex-boyfriend’s greater fans. But then, he, Faith, Kara, Dylan, and several others were the same ones who watched over me as I struggled to make the decision to enter the Café for the first time. If I were in real trouble, Stee would send help.”

“This little Café isn’t what it seems.” Kal suggested.

“No…” She replied, “it’s not. It’s a place that shouldn’t exist in this ‘OtherRealm’, but it does. One of the few places of hope…a gathering place, sometimes a second chance for souls looking for one. And it’s a place that doesn’t hesitate to make enemies when it has to.”

“Made a few more on my account…” Kal observed.

“No…” Jennie replied, shrugging, “just stirred up a few old ones…also gave us a reason to map some of the under realms and gave our neighbors a reminder to leave us alone.”

“Too much was risked for me…” He stepped back away from the counter, staring at the wall on the other side of the small room, purposely not using his vision powers to see through it. “No reason to bring me back without Lois.”

She put down her coffee, stepping over to hug the ancient warrior. He allowed it, loosely draping his arms around her.

“I am sorry that she isn’t here with you.” Jennie tried to console him, but he neither spoke nor moved. She stepped back, considering her next words. “Uncle Clark? What happened to you after Alex Luthor’s gateway to the Anti-Matter universe closed?”

He closed his eyes with determination, refusing tears.

“I think…” He spoke softly, “I think I would like that cup of coffee now…”



Continuum Cafe


They stepped back onto the floor of Stee’s Gateway system, walking around the perimeter. Kal held a mug of coffee in his hands. Jennie had left hers behind, her hands in the pockets of her old jeans, a simple pink blouse under the jean jacket she wore. They matched the jeans and corduroy shirt he wore. She had remained quiet, allowing him to gather his thoughts.

She knew that Stee had observed them re-entering the main facility, but that he would keep his distance, unless called.

Finally, Kal rewarded Jennie’s silence as they walked.

“Young Clark and I battled the Anti-Monitor to the death while Alex Luthor recovered…”

“I remember,” Jennie confirmed, “we had just rescued the remaining Earth from the antimatter universe and had returned it home…but the three of you did not return with us.”

“The Anti-Monitor was still alive…” Kal explained, “we had to take him out…young Clark and I did our best to take him out…he was weakening when a blast of energy from somewhere helped to further damage him, so that I could kill him…another of my sins…”

“You had no choice…”

“No,” he stopped to look at another recently replaced panel, surrounded by scorch marks…more battle damage. “I guess we really didn’t…and then, with his death, waves of destruction just flooded out of him. We could have tried to outrun it…but Alex said that we wouldn’t be able to make it.”

He ended his inspection of the panel, starting to walk once more.

“Somehow, Alex had managed to save Lois from the merging of the five surviving Earths into a single Earth. As the wall of energy approached, Alex brought her back, and offered an alternative…a gateway into another place…another dimension…where we could be together.” He stopped, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “I didn’t realize Alex had just offered a one-way trip to Hell.”

“Hell, Uncle Clark?” She asked as they began moving once more.

“I had Lois…” Kal admitted, “I figured that as long as we were together, we could overcome any obstacle, any adversity. I didn’t have time to think of anything more than that…we had to go or stay. And, so we went.”

She placed her hand around his upper arm, matching his pace, but barely, listening as he spoke once more.

“We wound up in a very strange place…” Kal explained, “we were cut off from the rest of the universe that we knew…very strange place.” He stopped, facing her. “Imagine a place where you can look out on the world, but you can’t contact it.”

“Kind of like the ghost zone,” Jennie offered, “but without other ghosts.”

“In a way,” Kal agreed, “time did and did not pass in that place…well, it didn’t pass for Clark or I…we did not age, but Lois and Alex both did to some extent. We stayed in the zone for twenty years.”

“That’s quite a bit of time,” Jennie agreed, “were you able to keep busy?”

He began to nod, then shook his head instead.

“Yes…no…we could reform things within the zone into the things we wanted to see…but they weren’t real. That was bad enough. But then, as time passed in the real world, Lois began to fade…obviously dying…although I wouldn’t…couldn’t accept it.”

“Oh, no!”

“Desperation drove me,” Kal gazed at her, pain in his eyes, “I focused on her, and nothing but her, desperate to keep her alive. And, so, I missed the effects of our prison on both Alex and Clark…driving them both over the brink.”

He sighed, starting to walk again, holding her hand on his arm.

“Alex had developed a mad scheme to change the Earth into one that best suited his intentions…his and Clark’s. Then he found a way to power young Clark to shatter the barrier between our universe and the positive matter universe.”

“Did you get to leave with him?”

“No,” he admitted, “we didn’t know they had broken out…had started to take control of events on Earth, had started to precipitate the Crisis. But as they did, Lois got worse…drawing my attention even farther away from their activities.”

They approached another corner of the facility, stopping to look across the gigantic field. She waited while he gathered his thoughts.

“And then…Alex lied to me, told me that Earth had to be changed, or it would be ended…that Earth-2 had to return…” Kal gazed across the field then down at her.

“Our original world,” Jennie replied, “I remember.” He nodded, speaking again.

“Conned me into believing that I could shatter the barrier for the first time…and that I was the only one to do it…I was such a fool, not to realize that Earth-2 and its universe could not return…not without destroying everyone who lived in the existing universe. Worse…Earth-2 could not exist without Earth-1…we were too closely tied.”

“The Starheart,” Jennie recalled, “even though it powered my family, it was in the Earth-1 universe.

“Yes…” Kal explained, “without Earth-1, Earth-2 could not exist…but I was desperate. And I wanted to see Kara again.”

“Power Girl,” Jennie suggested, rocking on her feet, “My friend Karen Starr…I remember…”

“Power Girl…” Kal agreed. “After breaking out, we arrived on Earth and found Kara. Once she met Lois, her memories returned…”

“Kara’s history was always a glitch,” Jennie admitted, “it never made sense. But then, my history and Todd’s had a big glitch…our mother, the Thorn, spent two decades in rehabilitation on a Paradise Island that could never have existed…and no one seemed to consider that odd.”

“More than a bit,” he chuckled, “since your father should have remembered delivering her there…” He shook his head again, starting to march towards another the next corner of the facility. “In your case, a glitch. In Kara’s, it had more severe consequences. Fortunately, when she regained her memories, things made sense for her again.”

“I hope so…” Jennie sympathized as they walked.

“But soon after, Alex began creating the other Earths…” Kal explained, “probably about the same time you were killed…” he waited for her to speak, instead she simply nodded, sighing. “I am so sorry.”

“Not your fault, Uncle Clark…” She gripped his arm tightly, “you couldn’t have known.”

“I should have…” He shook his head sadly, “I wish I had.”

“I wish I had straightened things out with Kyle…” Jennie admitted with regret, “that led to my death more than anything you did…not your fault, Uncle Clark. Now, what was that you said about Alex recreating Earths?

“He didn’t just recreate a few Earths, but many, many, one of which was a duplicate of Earth-2.” He breathed in deeply. “I took Lois there, believing we were home at last. But it was an empty shell, with no people. And as soon as we arrived, Lois…Lois thanked me for bringing her home. And then Lois…Lois…Lois…died…”

She reached for him, holding him and letting him hold her as he battled his grief.

Stee, ever watchful, turned off the cameras in that section of the gateway.



Continuum Cafe


They sat on a bench, Jennie watching Kal as he stared into space.

“The Earths had to be recombined,” Kal explained, “and they did…into a new Earth that was just subtly different from the old one. In the mean time, Alex lost control of young Clark. The Flashes took him out until he escaped…and then he killed Connor Kent, that world’s Superboy. Finally, the reigning Superman and I beat him almost to death, before I…died…”

“I’m sorry…”

“Hell of a legacy, isn’t it?” Kal challenged her. “Here I sit spilling my guts to a young woman who died because I blew it.”

“I died because of the choices I made,” Jennie emphasized, “maybe not all wise, but all mine. I lived the way I wanted to…maybe not perfectly, but it was my life…not yours.” Her eyes narrowed with her strengthening determination. “Uncle Clark, you were not responsible for my death…Alex may have been, but not you.”

“Besides,” she deflected, “we Earth-2 types have to stick together…we’re outgunned enough already!”

“Jennie,” Kal reached for her, holding her gently, “thank you for being you.”

“Thank you for trusting me enough to talk to me.” He could feel her relax in his arms.

Alan, Kal-L considered as he held her, I feel so sorry for you, for the family of the Starheart has lost its heart. And what happens when the Starheart realizes that it has lost the closest thing to a soul it ever had?



Continuum Cafe


Two days later, Kal stood alone in the street in front of the Café; once more in his traditional Superman costume, his restless nature had gotten the best of him. Scanning the vicinity with his super senses, he soon realized that Stee’s Gateway was, indeed, the only easy way in and out of the Café’s little world.

Flying up from the little world, he rose towards the terrasect that served as the Gateway to the OtherRealms beyond. Passing through the little blue cloud, he soon landed on the surface that served as the floor of Stee’s facility.

“Oh,” Stee recognized him immediately, “it’s you, Sir! Is anything wrong?”

“I just need to get out of here for a while,” Kal admitted, “I’m feeling pretty cooped up. I’d like to travel for a bit, get my head cleared. Jennie said that you had errands that needed running. Any that I can help with?”

“I can think of one,” Stee answered quickly…too quickly. “You see that third opening on the right? The bluish one? I’ve been getting some interesting readings from it, and I’d like to have it investigated.”

“I can do that.” Kal assured, “any special equipment I would need?”

“Just the good sense your gods gave you!” Stee replied, smiling.

“Then I’ll be back soon!” Kal launched towards the opening, passing quickly through it.”

This is a job for Superman! Stee observed as the older man passed out of sight.



Continuum Cafe


Kal landed in a strange land…another world of souls…another underworld, he supposed. Scanning, he sensed more than saw the souls that occupied this place.

Not as dark as the realm he had occupied, this was nevertheless a realm of fading, if still troubled souls.

He knew that he would not find Lois in this realm, would not find her in any of these realms. Lois had moved on…happy at the day of her death to be with him, ignorant of the rest of what had occurred.

He did not wish to have her in exile in yet another place, and, in truth, the world she had known, the one in which she had lived, had been long gone.

He ached for her…the pain of her passing still tortured him. But, in a way, there was relief as well, for he had been little more than a caregiver for the last few years of her life…desperate to save her.

And now, he searched for meaning in his life once more…alone. Surrounded by those who appeared so much younger than he…whose experiences were of different places…different times. He knew that there were those at the Café who were older…but he felt older.

As he scanned the place, he reconsidered Stee’s greeting…Stee who had been more than a bit eager to send him on this trip, leaving Kal with the impression that he had been…had.

Kal scanned the region, almost another cavern, dimly lit, and leaped into the sky, landing at a rock shaped almost like a bench. Once more, he thought of his friends…his family…Lois, Kara, and their close friends, the Wayne family.

Bruce had died in his boots just before brain cancer could take him…Helena, his daughter, and Dick Grayson had died at the end of Crisis…they simply did not exist in the re-ordered universe.

Kal felt loneliness in his bones once more. Bruce and Helena who had both been there during his rescue…would not be here, in these realms…neither would Dick Grayson.

Denial, anger, loss…they all seemed mixed up inside him. He closed his eyes, debating whether or not to scream here…here where he could only wake the dead.

Lonely…missing his friends…so many years…Lois, Bruce, Selina…watching Helena grow.

Selina…her life cut short during a blackmail attempt…one of her former cronies had claimed to have proof, proof that did not exist, that she had committed murder in the days before she gave up crime, in the days before she had married Bruce Wayne and given birth to Helena.

Selina had allowed herself to be blackmailed into a robbery. The robbery went wrong when the Batman intervened. She died in Bruce’s arms…leading Bruce to end his career as the Batman…and Helena to begin hers as the Huntress. He focused on Selina once more, recalling her face, her bearing.

“Hello Clark,” he suddenly heard her voice, “you are the last person I would have expected in these realms.”

“Selina?” He opened his eyes, gazing at the image in front of him…a transparent image of a stylish middle-aged woman, still raven-haired, but past the flames of youth. “It’s good to see you…even here.”

Her clothes reflected the year of her death, in the 1970s, but not the costume of the Catwoman in which she had died.

“These are darker realms, Clark…” Selina observed, “and no place for someone like you, someone almost without sin. You belong in the light.”

“It’s all gone, Selina,” Kal stood up, facing her, “everything we knew…our Earth, our friends, our families. Bruce, Helena, and Dick have moved on. But Lois and I were trapped…in a prison.”

“I am sorry…” Selina replied, the dim light of the cavern passing through her. “I had hoped…”

“None of this was your fault…” Kal offered, “had nothing to do with anything you did. If anything…you bought Helena a few more days of life than they would have had otherwise. She took up Bruce’s mantle…she wasn’t on our Earth when it vanished…she died later.”

“All…gone…” Selina stared at him. “just like me…fading into nothingness…someday even I will move on, once and for all…soon I hope.”

She sighed, standing, holding her arms to herself.

“It’s all really gone,” Kal sighed, “and I, in my arrogance, almost ended what replaced it.

“Did you?” Selina challenged immediately. “Or were you just one of the players?”

“What?” Kal asked, surprised by her words.

“The burden of being Superman…” Selina replied, “Bruce used to comment on it…You take the burden of all of the worlds problems as your own…as if you are responsible for everybody and everything. And you aren’t…you never were.”

“I’m not God!” Kal protested.

“But you are used to playing God.” Selina argued, “you have had the power to do the things that most of us could only dream about. You have always felt that mankind is your responsibility. But, Clark, it is not. Humanity will survive or not survive without you…”

“Selina…” Kal argued, turning on his heels, pacing, “it was my JOB to protect them…someone had to!”

“THEY ARE NOT YOUR CHILDREN!” Selina retorted angrily.

“…not anymore…” Kal shook his head sadly, gazing at her, “and I certainly didn’t do much for Lois.”

Anger…unaccustomed anger surged through Selina Kyle Wayne’s ghost.

“We have had these discussions too many times, Clark.” She stepped away from him. “You have never taken me seriously, and you still don’t.”

“Take you…seriously?” Kal sputtered.

“You see things in black and white, Clark, you always have.” Selina paced, her arms crossed, stepping around him. “You and Bruce…either something is right or it’s not…it’s that simple.”

“It is THAT simple!” Kal argued. “Bruce and I differed in our methods, not our beliefs…and you know that!” He gazed at her angrily, no longer able to see through her, her anger still building.

“Damn you, Clark!” Selina cursed, “you don’t get it…and neither did I…I died trying to do what I thought I had to, to protect Bruce and his perfect image of the world…and it wasn’t worth it.”

“I’m sorry, Selina,” Clark replied, “but you brought that on yourself. You should have taken the problem to Bruce. He would have sorted through it…found the lies in it. Everything would have worked out.”

“I didn’t know that…” Selina replied, “and you know it. And you know what the scandal would have done to Bruce…”

“What your death did to Bruce…” His defensive anger grew. “How dare you try to blame any of this on Bruce! He loved you…”

“He loved what he thought I had become!” She shook her head angrily, pacing once more. “And obviously, I wasn’t.”

“You had reformed, Selina.” Kal rebutted. “You were a devoted wife and mother, you just made a mistake at the end!”

“You idiot!” Selina swore, “Sweet, innocent housewife? What planet were you on? I’m not, and never was, anything like that…” The force of her gaze bore right through him. “Miss Sweet and Innocent? I’m a damn supervillian, Clark! I’m the God-Damn CATWOMAN!”



Continuum Cafe


Stee gazed up from his console as Kal flew back through the portal, landing near the console, his face visibly red.

“Anything interesting, Superman?” Stee solicited, innocently.

“Nothing of interest,” Kal almost snarled, “just one impossible woman.”

“Aren’t they all?” Stee suggested.

“Not like this one…” Kal dove back through the portal on the floor, leaving the gateway facility behind.

Chuckling, Stee touched a button on his console.

“Hip, this is Stee. He fell for it. Madder than a hatter.”

“I’ll go find the elf,” the satisfaction in her voice startled even Stee, “we’ll take it from here.”

“How did you know?” He asked, genuinely curious.

“We don’t learn from those who reinforce our thinking, Stee,” her voice replied, “if you want to get someone out of a rut, you have to give them a reason.”

“Must have been one Hell of an argument…” Stee mused, “I didn’t think anything could make him that mad.”

“Well, then…” Hipkarma chuckled, “we’ll just have to clear the decks for Round 2, won’t we Stee?”

“I don’t think even Dr. Who’s TARDIS has a broom that big…and when all is said and done, we may have a mess even the sonic screwdriver can’t fix.”



Continuum Cafe


Sitting quietly in her room, trying to read a book, Kara heard the arguing once more…Carrie had insulted Karen’s intelligence and her lack of focus. Karen replied by informing Carrie that she had no clue of what was truly important, nor had she had taken time to figure it out.

“It’s like your last boyfriend…” Karen snipped, “what was his name?”

“Better than your last one…”

Kara sighed…the Café was in no danger…but the girls would quickly irritate the staff…images of the bartenders sending the girls on a one way trip to nowhere flashed through her mind.

“Ladies,” Kal-L’s thunderous voice of authority commanded with pleasure, “just when I needed some help…how kind of you to volunteer!”

“I…uhhh”

“Uhhh…” Kara heard the front door open and close again. Scanning, she spotted the girls following the elder Superman down the street.

I got Carrie and Karen…but he got Kara Zor-L. I’ll have to remember that…



Continuum Cafe


Another week, another morning, the neighborhood began to show signs of life. Many of the small establishments had already reopened, markets for food and other essentials. Kal stood at the end of the street, inspecting the buildings for damage, ensuring that all of the battle damage from his rescue had indeed been repaired. He scanned the foundations of several buildings, ensuring that his work to shore them up had borne fruit. To his satisfaction, they all held.

He stepped down the street, greeting locals, making pleasant conversation. His visage had become familiar to many of them as he had labored to repair battle damage.

He felt an ache when he thought of Lois…he knew he always would. But, for the first time, he knew he would survive without her. Others had taken over Lois’ task of watching over him, of keeping his mind busy while his heart healed. He strongly suspected that his Guardian Angel would feel just as comfortable on Themyscira as in the Continuum Café kitchen…if not for his Kryptonian metabolism, he would have gained quite a bit of weight in the days since his arrival at the Café.

He just as strongly suspected that was one of the ways that she shared her joy of life…her mothering presence celebrated life by sharing the bounty that she found at the Cafe.

He pondered that he knew nothing about the Amazon’s background…someday, he promised himself, someday. He walked back towards the Café, stopping in front of the door before letting himself in.

“Buy an old acquaintance a drink?” Selina’s Wayne’s voice surprised him.

“Selina?” He asked, turning to his right to face her, “what are you doing here?”

“Clark,” she stepped towards him, placing a hand around his upper arm, “you interrupted MY eternal rest. And you didn’t even have the manners to tell me the rest of my family’s history before you stormed out…what happened to Bruce, Helena, Dick, and Alfred. That was rude.”

“You’re lecturing me on manners?” He laughed at her impudence. “You?”

“Who else would dare to?” Selina challenged him. “I wasn’t afraid of the Batman and I’m not afraid of you. And you owe me my family’s history.”

“All right…” He acquiesced, “I’ll tell you what I know.”

“Just remember two things about me, Clark…”

“And they would be?”

“I will never be a cheap date,” she gazed at him, speaking firmly as they walked towards the Café, “and come Heaven or Hell, I will always be the Catwoman, and I will never apologize for that again!”

Bruce…Help! He guided her in the door.



Continuum Cafe

Epilogue: Two months later


Another evening underway, Kal sat at a small table between the piano and the door, a fresh apple tart in front of him, courtesy of the smiling Amazon, striding back to the kitchen to keep up with the rest of the evening’s orders. He took a bite of the tart, enjoying the talents the Café’s master chef.

Between bites, he kept a surreptitious eye on the bar, watching the young woman serving the evening’s first customers while the elf restocked supplies. Not that either faced any true danger; still his sense of responsibility suggested his presence…a sense of responsibility he made no effort to fight.

Not until approaching footsteps broke his reverie.

“Quiet evening, so far,” Kara Zor-El approached, taking the chair next to his, a cup of coffee in her hand. He stood up, pushing her chair towards the table. “Thank you,” she proffered her appreciation.

“So far…” He sat back down with a contented smile. “One can only hope for a rowdy patron or two…” He chuckled.

“Or three, or four,” she agreed. “Kal, I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to catch up with you lately; the girls have kept me a bit busy.”

“Do they realize yet,” he hinted, “that there is a small school opening on the other end of town?”

“I’ve threatened them with it…” she chuckled. “We’ll see.”

“Floor length dresses and school marms,” Kal grinned. “I would have loved to see their reactions.”

“I wish I had had a camera…” Kara agreed. “Priceless.”

He quietly smiled, taking another bite of his apple tart as she sipped her coffee.

“Kal?” Kara prompted, “I know you’ve been trying to make your mind up what to do next…have you made any decisions?”

“Mostly not to make any decisions,” he admitted. “Every time I think about leaving this place, someone new comes in asking for advice. It’s a different way to serve, but it’s still a way to help.”

“I’ve heard the girls arguing over your advice,” Kara related, “and whether to follow it. They usually complain quite a bit before they do…”

Kal chuckled, glancing over at the bar once more. A friendly wave from the bar rewarded his gaze.

“And you don’t want to leave her…” Kara followed his gaze to the bar, “because you feel responsible for her being here.”

“No,” he offered earnestly, “that’s not it…I might have once thought that was one of the reasons, but it isn’t.”

He turned back to Kara.

“There is life here…and while I can’t go back to the world I once knew, I can make a contribution here. When we were stuck in that zone for so long, there was nothing I could do, no good I could do for anyone.”

“I know how that can feel…” Kara agreed, “I was stuck in limbo for too long, before Dr. Strange and Reed Richards rescued me.”

“I do still miss Lois terribly…” Kal admitted, nodding to acknowledge Kara’s words, “but all I can do is to remember her and be thankful for the times we had. She’s at peace and I’m in a place where I can do some good…I’ll have to live with that.”

“When you’re not arguing with Selina Wayne,” Kara observed, “that woman fears nothing.”

“There is value in that,” Kal considered absently, “I’m here because I didn’t really consider the consequences of my actions…and, near the end, Lois was too sick to force me to do that.” He sighed, strumming his fingers on the table. “I’ve heard it said that the closest some people will ever have to a friend is an old enemy that knows them well. And I’m still not sure how I would classify Selina.”

“Just one more reason for you to stay here,” Kara hinted, “guiding all the younger superheroes who step through that door…my girls, Sam Kent, Kara Gand and her ever growing brood, Kira and young Kal-El of Alterverse, and a few more I can’t remember at the moment.”

“Well…” Kal grinned, “unless there is some place in this Continuum that just can’t do without a very old Superman, I think you’ll find me here for a very long time to come!”

“WHOO HOO!” The Amazon’s voice joyously erupted from the kitchen. “WHOO HOO!” She poked her head through the door, gazing at a roomful of stunned expressions. “Well, what do you know?” She observed, grinning, “I actually got the last word! WHOO HOO!!”
Clay Clearbrook
 
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