by Starsky Hutch 76
A small diner in Smallville, November, 1985:
“Two Denver omelets and a pitcher of orange juice,” the waitress said, setting the food down in front of Clark Kent and Kristin Wells. The two had been meeting regularly for breakfast since Kristin had chosen to stay in the twentieth century just after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. She knew few people in this time, and it was good to have someone to talk to. For Clark, it was good to have someone from Metropolis to talk with who knew his secret — someone he could be completely open and honest with.
“Are you sure you want to stay?” Clark asked her once. “Now that the Crisis is over with, I mean. After everything that’s happened, I’ve come to really appreciate the value of friends and family. It’s got to be hard for you here, separated from everyone you know and love.”
“It was — at first,” Kristin said. “But I’ve had you to help me adjust. And I’m starting to make some friends. Besides, according to my time, I’ve already done it. So it’s not like I’ve got a choice.”
“Where time travel is concerned, I’d like to think we’ve always got a choice,” Clark said. “And that we’re simply incapable of making the wrong ones. You haven’t been at this as long as I have, Kristin. It hasn’t consumed you yet. You still have a chance to go back to a normal life.”
“How can you say that, Clark? Look at what all we’ve just been through!” Kristin exclaimed, thinking back to just last month, when she and the Supergirl from the far future had found Superman in his Fortress of Solitude, suffering from the advanced stages of green kryptonite poisoning.
“Rao willing, there will only be one Crisis,” Clark said. “But you haven’t experienced the worst you can go through. You haven’t faced the worst this business has to offer.”
“I’m a historian, Clark. I’ve studied the cases of all the heroes.”
“Studying history and experiencing it first-hand are two different things,” Clark said, taking a sip of his coffee. “There’s no way of knowing what it’s truly like but to experience it for yourself.”
“Hey, I thought you were trying to talk me out of this,” Kristin said with a grin.
Clark couldn’t help but smile. He remembered being this eager when he first started his career as Superboy.
After Kristin and Clark said their goodbyes, Kristin ducked behind the café and donned her Superwoman costume. As she took to the sky, heading back to nearby Metropolis, the usual sense of elation came over her. She had flown plenty of times using the technology of her time, the twenty-ninth century, but there was something about flying under her own power that no scientific device could duplicate. It was true freedom.
Her reverie was broken as she passed over the city and looked down to see two young boys — one white, one black — fighting on a street in Suicide Slum. She swooped down to break it up. “What’s all this about?” she asked, landing between the two.
“He’s supposed to be my best friend!” the white boy said. “But Lamar took a swing at me!”
“Cause he’s defending that new Supergirl who stole the old one’s ID after she died!” Lamar said. “And she’s just a no-good faker!”
“She’s just as good a hero,” the other boy said. “She saved my cousins when that tornado went through his town and started knocking over all the trailers.”
“There he goes again! You’d better take it back, Tim,” the angry boy said, trying to dodge around her so he could get a shot in. “I bet she made the tornado herself!”
“She wouldn’t do that,” Superwoman said. “She’s one of the good guys.”
“You would say that!” the boy snapped. “You’re just as bad as she is! Calling yourself Superwoman. Supergirl should’ve gotten to call herself that someday, but she died! It’s not fair!”
Superwoman was alarmed at the amount of hurt in his eyes. He wasn’t just some kid talking about a childish infatuation of his favorite hero on TV. To him it was more. Would she ever have that sort of impact on people?
“You’re right. It’s not fair,” Kristin said. “It’s not fair at all. She died much too soon. She made about the biggest sacrifice a hero can make. She sacrificed herself so that her cousin, Superman, could live.”
“I know that,” he said sadly. “I heard about it on TV.”
“As for the new Supergirl, she didn’t steal the name. It was just her name, too,” Superwoman said.
“Yeah, right,” Lamar said. “Her momma didn’t name her Supergirl.”
“No,” Superwoman said, sitting down on the steps to their apartment building and patting either side of her for them to sit down. “It’s a long story, but she and I both come from the future. In her time, she was the only Supergirl. She’s a descendant.”
“What’s that?” Tim asked.
“It means she’s like her granddaughter or something.”
“Her great, great granddaughter?” Tim asked.
“More than that,” Superwoman said. “She’s from wa-a-ay into the future. Even further than me.”
“Wow,” Lamar said. “Her great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great…” He paused to get his breath. “…great, great, great, great granddaughter?”
“Something like that,” Superwoman laughed.
“But why do you and her live here now?” Tim asked.
“Well, I have to,” Superwoman said. “In my time, Superwoman is already a part of history. So if I didn’t stay, I’d change everything, and then who knows what would happen?” She put her hands around their shoulders, hugged them to her, and said, “Plus, I wouldn’t meet people like you!” This raised a giggle from both of them.
“OK, you have to stay, but why does she?” Lamar said, not sure if he was ready to accept the new person with his hero’s name.
“Well, in her time, the cities floated above seas of lava. When the Crisis hit her century, all the cities fell into the lava seas and were destroyed. So there was nothing left for her there.”
“That’s sad,” Tim said.
“Yeah,” Lamar agreed.
“And it’s a good thing she was here,” Superwoman said. “If not, we might not have been able to help Superman when he was sick and dying.”
Lamar and Tim were suddenly at full, wide-eyed attention. “What happened?” they asked simultaneously.
“Well, remember last month when Mr. Mxyzptlk dropped Argo City on Metropolis, leaving a whole lot of kryptonite everywhere?” she began, then proceeding to tell them the story of how Superman had been fatally poisoned by the kryptonite and had retired to the Fortress of Solitude to spend his final days in sickness and grief, and of how she and the new Supergirl had gone on a quest for the fabled Sword of Superman to cure him, fighting off the villainous King Kosmos in the process and keeping him from using the sword for his own evil purposes. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman Family: Recovery.]
“Wow,” Tim said. “That was cool!”
“Even when you didn’t have no weapons, you kept on trying to fight,” Lamar said. “You could’a run away and didn’t.”
“That’s what friends do,” Superwoman said. “Superman was my friend. So was Supergirl. I had to do what I could. I couldn’t let anything happen to either one of them.”
“Hold on a minute,” Lamar said. He ran to the door and said, “Don’t go nowhere!” He then ran inside, and through the crack of the door she could see him run upstairs.
“Do you know what he’s doing?” Superwoman asked Tim.
“I think so,” Tim said.
Lamar ran back downstairs, completely out of breath, held up a Polaroid camera, and said, “Pictures… please?”
“Sure,” Superwoman said with a delighted smile. She flagged down a passing stranger and had him snap two pictures of her with the boys. She borrowed a pen and signed them, To my new friends, Lamar and Tim.
From a nearby window, she heard a radio announce a monsoon hitting an island in the Caribbean, so she had to leave. Lamar and Tim waved as she disappeared into the sky.