I jolted awake and shot up arming myself with my pen in alarm. I looked around and saw there was no intruder. I looked on the ground and saw my notebook and textbook on the ground. I leaned over and picked them up, tossing them onto the coffee table. I rubbed my face and got up making my way to the kitchen. I grabbed the coffee pot and made a cup of coffee. I should have figured it was bad, I didn't remember when I had made it. I took a sip and made a face of disgust. I poured the cup down the drain and did the same to the pot. I leaned against the kitchen counter before letting out a huff and looked at the time. Three in the morning, I huffed and grabbed a wine glass and grabbed a bottle of wine. I poured myself a small glass and sipped at it gently. "It's five o'clock somewhere." I took my glass and the bottle and made my way back to my spot on the couch. I looked at my research and groaned thinking why I was doing this. Who the hell drinks wine at three in the morning?
"Someone who clearly has a case of depression," a voice said. I turned to see Cassie leaning against the entrance to the living room.
"I didn't hear you come in," I said as I stared down at my wine.
"You don't pay attention to a lot of things anymore," she said defensively. I slightly winced at her tone.
"How was your night?" I asked.
"It was fine. The Team took down Clayface and discovered that one of congressmen was actually and alien who was wanted by an intergalactic bounty hunter," she said with a shrug of her shoulder, "It was very eventful for a New Year's."
"You were kept busy," I agreed, "No civilians got hurt?"
She shook her head, "No injuries." She came over and sat down on the coffee table, "Sis, what the hell are you doing?"
"Trying to finish my research, I have to pres—"
"Yeah, I know you present to the committee in a week," she said cutting me off. "I'm not talking about that, I am talking about you. When was the last time you went out? You're 21 years old shouldn't you be partying every weekend or something?"
I snorted, "Oh yeah, I'm such the party animal," I say sarcastically.
"Okay, that was a stupid question," she said cracking a smile which vanished quickly. "Connor misses you, he's concerned. Everyone on the Team is concerned. Artemis keeps texting me to see how you are doing because you stopped answering hers."
I shrugged, "I turned my phone off."
I shrugged, "Sometime last week."
"Carter, you need interaction," she said, "Social interaction and not with the people in your lab. We all miss you, ever since he left and apparently took you with him, you haven't been yourself. You are just surviving not living and it scares me."
"Cassie, I'm trying."
"Drinking wine at three in the morning IS NOT trying, Carter," she yelled, "It's pathetic."
"Well I'm sorry I'm not as resilient as you, Cassie," I snapped slamming my wine glass to the coffee table shattering it. "I'm sorry I can't handle stress like you. I'm sorry I don't handle responsibilities like you. I'm sorry I couldn't make it through to the Justice League like everyone else expected me too. I'm sorry I am failing everyone. I'm just fucking sorry okay?"
She looked at me with sorrow and looked at my hands. With blurry eyes I looked at them and saw I cut my right hand when I slammed the wine glass onto the table. I got up and went to the kitchen, grabbing a rag and the trash can to clean up the mess.
"Carter, let me—"
"I've got it," I said whipping my eyes, "It's my mess, I need to clean it up." I began to clean up the mess and cut myself on the piece of glass. "Damn it! Why can't I do anything right?"
I broke out into tears and after a minute I felt arms wrap around me. "It is okay, Carter, let it out," she said running her fingers through my hair. After a while I calmed down. I pulled away and got up.
"I'm going to go wrap this up and get ready for work," I said not meeting her eyes as I briskly walked out of the room and up the stairs to my bedroom. I laid out clothes and went to the bathroom to take a shower.
I got to my lab and got to work. The best work I'm able to do is when I am alone there…and no one is there at five in the morning. I set some specimens up for staining and further testing when I heard a knock on the door. "Come in."
The door opened and the figure stood at the door, "How long have you been here?"
"About two hours," I said placing a glass slide onto the platform of the microscope. "Please don't start, Wally," I pleaded, "I can literally feel your judgment."
"No, it needs to be started," he said walking toward me as he closed the door. "Look I know you are having a hard time dealing with Kaldur leaving and Jason's death but it's not worth destroying yourself, Car."
I sighed, "I know, but it's hard Wally. The stress is killing me. My presentation is Friday and then I have a meeting for my grant renewal next week and Jackson got another deployment." I rub my face and look at Wally, "He is going to Bialiya, Wally, Queen B's territory! Luthor…he can just get him assassinated so easily there. I don't know if I can deal with another death. Especially, his death again."
"Wow," he said rubbing the back of his head. "I didn't know all of that. Does Cassie know? About Jackson?"
I shook my head, "He doesn't know how to break it to her. I mean she got upset at his first deployment but that was just to Australia. This is Bialiya, the danger zone. She is just getting better and that's because of the Team if something happens to him…I don't know how she'll take it."
He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and rubbed it comfortingly. "You need to talk to somebody, Car, we're friends….scratch that, we're family. Family doesn't let family go through things alone."
I nodded, "I'll call Artemis tonight. I'll turn my cell phone on when I get a chance. I'll try…just give me time."
"That's all we ask."
He left to go to his lab the he aids in and I got back to my work. Then once I left there I head for a zeta tube and arrive on the Watch Tower. I walked to the elevator and arrived on my floor and walked to the lab. Barry and Icon who has told me to call him Augustus.
"Carter!" Barry exclaimed, "It's good to see you again. You look….well."
I rolled my eyes as I pulled on my lab coat and placed my hair in a ponytail. "It's okay, Barry, I know I look like crap. It's been a long couple of weeks."
"How is you research going?" Augustus asked looking up from his work.
"Wonderfully, thank you for asking," I said with a smile, "I just hope the committee likes my work and allows me to continue."
"Well, from what you have told us about it, they'd be stupid not too," Barry said.
I set to work on my task. A couple weeks after Jason died and I sort of just slowly dropped out of the Team, Batman and Dinah approached me and wondered if I'd be interested in coming help out with the forensics and testing of items that the Team and the League collects. I accepted because you can't argue with the head bat….or my adoptive mother. So I come every couple of days or when their work load gets too heavy. I left a couple hours later and went back to my home to rest for the night.
I hate to say this but I need Barry Allen's incredibly stupid and cheesy humor right now. My day sucked, one of my …adorable coworkers decided to screw up some of my slides and possibly disprove my work….almost shot him. I arrived via zeta tube and sub consciously began to make my way to the elevator.
"Carter," a familiar female voice called. I turned to see a familiar green face smiling at me. They were having a meeting and I was interrupting.
"Miss M," I greeted with a smile. "Sorry for the interruption. I was just making my way to the lab." I looked up at the screen, "Why is there a Krolotean crawling out of the chest of Secretary- General Tseng?"
"You know about Kroloteans?" John Stewart asked me skeptically.
"The Dark Circle believes that all organisms are creations of any of the thirteen rings. My teacher gave me readings on some of the aliens races, Kroloteans were one of them. Suspected of being created by a sorcerer in the Third ring. Pack travelers, main attributes are thievery and ability to mock other creatures," I said approaching them. "I've read and heard some of their language very odd a series of odd clicking very jumbled."
"You mean you can understand them?" Batman said.
I shook my head, "Unfortunately, I do not. I couldn't understand the language because my teacher was not well educated in the species. She was from the Sixth ring."
"You…you are Carter Callahan." I turned to the voice and saw a blonde haired man dressed in a lab coat.
"And you would be….?" I trailed off the question.
"Adam Strange," he said.
"Sorry, I have never heard of you," I said politely, "Though I don't hear of much currently with my work, which I need to get back too." I gave a slight nod at the group, "Sorry for the intrusion."
"Carter," I turned to the voice, Connor. "Can we talk after?"
I gave him a small smile. "Of course, Brother, just give me a com."
I turned away from the group and walked to the elevator. I turned to them, "Don't under estimate them. Thought they seem like small harmless creatures, their way of thinking is not primitive."
Connor showed up at the door of the lab about thirty minutes later. "Put a mask on please," I requested, "And don't give that look, Mr. Indestructible."
"Yes, Mom," he said under his breath as he put on his mask. I turned to him with a test tube and beaker in each hand and gave him a look. He just shrugged at me and approached me, stopping at my side.
"What's up?" I asked as I poured the test tube empty.
"You haven't been around a lot," he pointed out.
I sighed, "It's been hard," I said, "with everything going on."
"Yeah, Jackson told me about his deployment," he said, "Did he finally tell Cassie?"
I nodded my head, "She took it hard and with the threats she made I can of feel bad for Luthor and Queen B if they do anything bad," I snorted. "Okay not that bad but she was very creative."
He nodded, "I bet."
"So what else did you need to tell me?" I asked as I put the beaker on the warmer.
"I'm going on mission," he informed me, "Off world."
I paused what I was doing and looked at him, "Is it dangerous?"
He shrugged, "Who knows, we are going to investigate Kroloteans stealing tech from Strange's friend."
"Who is we?" I asked with a raised eyebrow already having an idea.
"Beast Boy," he answered but the air said more.
"And Miss Martian?" I asked. "Look I know what she did was—"
"Don't start," he said his fists clenched.
I looked down at the counter with a huff, "Just promise me you'll be careful, please," I beg as I look at him.
He nods his head, "Always," he smirked. "So you have an admirer huh?"
"Oh, who? Strange?" I asked sarcastically. "Everyone knows your name when you're the child protégé adopted by a billionaire."