Flamebird

Kara Kent sat up in her bed and looked at her alarm clock. The room around her was dark, and the red numbers gave off the only light. 3:00 am. The sound had been unmistakable, though. Music, the song Kara had assigned to Bruce when organizing Clark's cell phone seemed to echo through the empty house. Stepping over Krypto, who had grown from small puppy to lanky adolescent in record time, Kara made her way downstairs on bare feet. The dog grunted, his sleep barely disturbed. Her steps were silent, a trick taught to her by Bruce Wayne, and Kara slipped down the stairs undetected. Clark was sitting at the kitchen table, head in his hands in a pool of light that spilled from the lamp above him. His cell phone sat on the table, and it rang again, and Kara heard the unmistakable sound again. It was Bruce's ring. Clark answered, rising from the chair and moving outside, seemingly unaware of Kara's presence. Intrigued, Kara made her way to the screen door. It was a fact that she could listen to Clark's conversation and not leave her room, but Kara leaned against the door, waiting for Clark to speak.

"I understand." He said, and Kara could see her cousin looking up at the stars in the sky above him. "Is he in any danger?" Kara squinted, straining to hear the voice on the other end of the conversation.

"As of this minute? No, he's not in any danger. The culprit was perfectly content to leave things as they are, for now. He's hurt, though, broken arm, fractured ribs. Alfred has made him at home here at the mansion while I investigate." Kara smiled to herself, thinking of Bruce's very unwelcome houseguest. Bruce didn't sound happy. "Have you told her yet?"

Kara watched as Clark shook his head. "No, Bruce I haven't. I didn't want to until you were sure. She's sleeping…or supposed to be sleeping." Clark turned, and saw his cousin standing in the kitchen doorway, a long shadow in blue pajamas and wild white blonde hair. "Kara is here, Bruce. I'll talk to her and call you back." He said protectively, and Kara sighed. Here we go again, she thought, watching Clark as he seemed to take the measure of her, as if unsure she was old enough to talk to Bruce on the phone by herself.

"I'll do it, Clark. Just put her on the phone." Bruce said, and Kara felt a cold shudder travel up her back. Clark walked up to Kara and opened the screen door, handing her the phone and then going to sit down on the porch swing. Kara put the phone to her ear, pushing her hair away from her face as the early summer wind blew it in her eyes.

"Listen Boss, there's a situation and I need your help." Bruce's voice was clipped and serious. "It's about Dick. His family was killed tonight during their farewell performance at the Gotham Arena."

"NO." Kara gasped, her long legs giving way as she slid down the doorframe to sit on the floor. "Bruce, no…."

"Yes, Kara. Now listen. Dick's staying with me for now, and he's in pretty bad shape. I already talked to Martha and she said you could stay with me in Gotham City for the summer. I'm sending the plane for you in the morning, so you, Clark and Chloe can get here. . Lois is flying out from Wichita tomorrow, too. Do you hear me, Kara?"

"I hear you." Kara replied. "Can I talk to Dick?"

"The pain medication the doctor prescribed knocked him out. Dick's out cold right now. He needs the rest, Kara. But you can help him. He trusts you, and Dick needs everyone he can trust around him right now." Bruce's voice caught, and Kara wanted to hug him.

"I'm not waiting for the morning. Clark and Chloe can bring my things. I will be there immediately." She scrambled to her feet. "Bruce?"

"Yes, Boss?"

"Thank you for telling me yourself." Kara said simply, handing the phone back to Clark. She glared at Clark and moved away to her room, throwing things a backpack. She heard Clark make his way up the steps, and felt his blue green eyes watching her."You might as well say what you are thinking."

"I'm thinking you should wait until morning, when Chloe and I can go with you." Clark said, watching Kara stuff belongings into the backpack. "I'm thinking you don't even know where Gotham City is. And, I'm thinking whatever you are thinking about me is wrong." She looked up at him, and felt her anger at Clark vanish. He was right, he always was, Kara sighed.

"You just treat me like a baby." Kara said quietly. "I'm older than you. It doesn't look that way, and I know that it isn't that way anymore, but it's true." She turned and looked at Clark. "I can go to Gotham City on my own."

"Kara…" Clark started to say something and then stopped. He sighed, and nodded before he spoke again. "Chloe and I will still leave in the morning. If you want to go, go ahead."

She crossed the room and kissed Clark's cheek. "Thank you, Clark. I knew you'd understand." Kara went to her wall of maps and took down the one that she'd marked Dick's tour locations on. A huge gold star marked Gotham, and Clark smiled as she folded the map and put it in her pocket. She'd not need the map now, of course, but her having it made Clark feel better.

By 5:30 am, Kara was gone, flying east toward the rising sun. Clark sat down alone on the porch, soon to be joined by Shelby and a yawning Krypto. He'd called Chloe and she trudged over from her parents house in her pajamas, a large mug of coffee in her hand. It had been a whole new world for them, being neighbors this way.

"Hey." She said, blinking at him sleepily. "Did Kara go?"

"Just now." Clark rose and kissed the top of Chloe's head. "We have to be ready soon too."

"I can't believe it. Clark, who would do such a thing?" Chloe asked, looking up at Clark sadly. "Poor Dick."

"I know. Maybe we can help Bruce figure it out. He's been out all night, trying to pick up a trail." Clark and Chloe walked back to the porch steps and sat down. "Dick is with him at Wayne Manor." Clark sighed.

"Well that's something anyway." Chloe said. "If anyone is after Dick, they won't dare try anything at Bruce's house."

Flying. Kara had only just discovered the power but she adored it, feeling the air as it blew her hair back. The sun was being born in the East, and from here, she could see it shining on the ocean. The cool mist that made up Earth's clouds brushed against her cheeks like a million kisses, and Kara was thrilled, in spite of the miserable circumstances surrounding her independent flight. Kara took mental inventory of her knapsack. She had plenty to hold her until Chloe arrived. She saw the spires of Gotham City and turned north, following the bay until she found the solitary manor on the rocky hill. Wayne Manor overlooked Gotham Bay majestically dwarfing other grand homes that tried to be its neighbors. Kara's first impression was that the place seemed a little sad, a lot gloomy and very serious, much like it's owner. She landed in the rose garden, and stooped to sniff at a newly opened yellow rose, closing her eyes joyfully. The rose garden hinted at joy hidden inside the somber Bruce Wayne, and Kara adored it.

"Miss Kara?" A clipped British accent made her look up and Kara smiled brightly. Alfred Pennyworth stood there, holding garden snippers and a flat basket, and wearing as surprised expression as his reserved demeanor would allow. "Master Bruce informed us that you would be here this morning. Where is Master Clark?"

"He'll be here later, Mr. Alfred." She said politely, and Alfred nodded.

"Please, miss, I'm Alfred. Not 'Mr' Alfred. And you can go right in. Cook has arrived and is making breakfast for young Master Dick. Why don't you go in and make yourself comfortable? I'll take you to your room when I get done out here."

Kara nodded, and made her way into the house, through the kitchen door. Dick sat at the table, a long, well scrubbed pine table that was as old as the house itself, his dark hair a birds nest and his face hollowed and pale. Kara dropped her backpack and Dick looked up. He didn't speak, but nodded, great fat tears leaking from his inky blue eyes. A small smile flickered across his lips, and Dick looked back at Kara, a flush brightening his cheeks.

"What kept you, Kara?" He whispered, standing. She crossed the kitchen and hugged him gently, thinking of the ribs and broken arm. Dick sagged a little in her arms, not at all afraid to let her bear his weight. He'd known her secret since the beginning, practically, just before his family left on their tour, Kara had taken him to the Fortress of Solitude and showed him her home world. It had explained a lot, Dick had thought at the time, but now, just the smell of her, softly floral and spicy made him feel calmer and more together.

"I came as fast as I could." Kara said, looking up into his face. "Clark almost made me fly on the plane with him."

Dick pulled her closer with his good arm. "I'm glad you didn't do what he wanted, Kara. It's all so strange. Just yesterday, I was in my mom's kitchen, eating potatoes and eggs and worried about Tina not making her jump in time. Crazy, right?"

"No…" Kara said, "The day I last saw my parents, it was my Dedication day. I fought with my mother about my dress, and the boy I was dedicated to smelled of rotten griknar." Dick frowned at her, and she waved a hand. 'Griknar is a kind of marine lifeform that throws itself on land when it's ready to die. The shores of Krypton are, well, were, polluted with them at the right seasons."

Dick laughed and kissed Kara quickly. "I'm glad you're here, Kara. I don't think I could have gotten through this without you."

"I'll always be there for you, no matter what." Kara said, resting her cheek on his shoulder.