6 Justice League Family Affairs

Note: This is the 8th part of an ongoing series. The preceding installments are Justice League New Beginnings: DCAU Series Part 1; Justice League Second Strike: DCAU Series part 2; Justice League Past Imperfect: DCAU Series Part 3; Justice League Nuptials: DCAU Series Part 4; Justice League Cardinal Sin: DCAU Series Part 5; Justice League Twice Shy: DCAU series Part 6; and Justice League Darkness: DCAU Series Part 7. Events and personal developments from these installments will be referenced with little warning or back story given. If Part 8 raises any questions, I suggest you read the previous stories or private message me and I'll do my best to explain.

Additional Note: Reviewers are highly appreciated. I need to know what I'm doing right and/or wrong so I can either do it again or not do it at all the next time `round.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Justice League concepts, actualization, characters, or depictions thereof (such as the DCAU). All such intellectual and actual rights are properties of DC Comics and Warner Bros Animation which are both owned by Time Warner. I'm not making any money off of this. Hopefully I'm entertaining a few folks, but that's it. Do not sue me!

Once touched by pain

You're not the same

But time can heal your

Heart again

So let the clouds

That bring you down

Just fade away

-Aldo Nova, David Stenmar

"You must first embrace the reality of the darkness within you. Every person has the capacity for great evil but they also have a capacity for the greater good. To deny the darkness makes it a master over you since you cannot control it." Black Adam instructed Mary Marvel, "To embrace it is not an excuse to foster it or encourage its growth. Rather to be intimate with the knowledge of its existence makes you aware of what you, and others, are fully capable of."

"But what if you embrace it and it takes control of you?" Mary asked.

"You face that choice every moment of every day." Adam clarified, "You choose to do good. It does not come naturally. Naturally, we are selfish and desire to only look after our own interests. Selflessness is a choice, whether it's conscious or not. We master our baser instincts and choose to be counted amongst the forces of light rather than of the darkness."

Mary carefully considered this. Over the last week, Black Adam had shown her the course of history from the eyes of a crusader. He'd been ruler, peace officer, judge, jury, and executioner during his time as a Black Marvel. It gave him a much broader perspective on good and evil than she got at Catholic school or from the Justice League.

"But what if…?" Mary faltered.

"Mary, you can defeat the darkness." Adam was insistent, "All it takes is that first decision not to follow its desires. Each step after that grows easier."

"Is that what happened to you? You fell to the darkness and then dragged yourself out of it?" she wondered.

Adam grew grave, "I faltered and lost my way. The wizard sealed me in a tomb for 4000 years and I went mad but then I found my way. I discovered the Path of Absolute Justice and it has guided me ever since. It is, as you are learning, a difficult path."

Black Adam continued, "You must set yourself apart, above the ills of humanity, if you will. But in counterbalance, you cannot lose sight of that humanity. Once you do, you become the monster that you are trying to defeat. I elevated myself above my fellow man and I proclaimed myself to be a god. As a Marvel you are an instrument of the gods and ultimately of God Himself. You must never forget that. You are a champion of all that is right. Unfortunately, right and wrong are not always absolutes. You will learn to navigate the murky shades of gray in order to bring the light out of them."

"I don't know if I can embrace the darkness." Mary confessed, "I just want to destroy it."

"My dear child, the darkness is part of you. It cannot be destroyed. Darkseid seared your heart but all he did was unleash what was already within you. Your pain only let's that evil grow within you. Let go of the hate and the anger. Seek out those that love you and love them in return. That will give you strength enough to keep from stumbling." Adam implored her.

"But you didn't have anyone you…" Mary paused as a realization struck her, "The Crimson Queen."

"Your insight does you credit but keep this truth to yourself." Adam advised, "Its revelation could only harm me."

"But you betrayed her." Mary quietly pointed out.

"The Path is an unforgiving taskmaster. The Queen went mad. She desired the end of all things and had to be stopped. There was no other way." Adam sadly admitted.

"I'm so sorry." Mary sought to comfort him.

"I know." He replied, "I am whole though."

Mary wondered. He was violating his own advice. How long would it be before he stumbled?

Mary flew back to the Justice League Women's Dorm located in a penthouse along Manhattan's 5th Avenue. The space had been a gift from Bruce Wayne and the women that resided there had no complaints about the lodgings. It was the crack of dawn and Mary had just enough time to sneak back in her room.

She landed on the balcony, said the wizard's name and was transformed back into 17 year old Mary Batson. Punching the security code into the alarm keypad, she released the sliding glass door. It was dark and silent. Perfect for getting to her room before being spotted.

"So you're back." Kara In-Ze said from the darkened kitchen. Mary jumped and Kara turned on the light. Being Supergirl, Kara's enhanced vision let her pretty much see in the low light conditions but she wanted light to be able to fully see Mary's reactions as she confronted her.

Although outwardly calm, Mary was near panic. Kara's enhanced hearing would be able to hear her heart pound and her sharp eyes would see Mary sweat. Her secret was blown. Kara would never understand her reasons for finally accepting Black Adam's tutelage. Kara knew about her struggles since encountering Darkseid but the Argoan couldn't see past the Black Marvel's past enough to believe he had anything good to offer Mary.

"So what have you and Ray been up to?" Kara crossly asked.

Ray? Mary was almost giddy with relief. Ray, of course, was Ray Terra also known as the Ray. He was a superhero, a fellow member of the Justice League Unlimited, and Mary's boyfriend. Kara thought she was fooling around with Ray. Perfect!

Mary acted contrite, "We haven't been doing anything. We're just helping each other out with our homework."

"All night?" Kara didn't believe her. It just got better as the conversation continued.

"Haven't you ever heard of an all-nighter?" Mary countered.

"Yes." Kara replied, "But what kind of all-nighter is it?"

"First off, I would never do what you're thinking. I'm chaste and I'm gonna stay that way until I'm married! Second of all, you're not my mother or my adopted mother. You have no say in what I do or not do. Last, why can't you trust me? You're supposed to be my friend!" Mary practically yelled.

"What the hell is the noise all about?" Beatriz and Shayera said in stereo as each of them burst forth from their rooms. They took a moment to stare at one another. Finally, Bea broke the spell by saying, "Jinx."

Shayera's glare intensified. Beatriz merely smirked and blew her a kiss. Tora emerged from the master bedroom as well, "Is there a problem?"

"Yes, there is." Bea and Shayera managed a repeat performance. This time Bea immediately said, "Jinx."

"Would you stop saying that?" an exasperate Shay asked/demanded, "It's annoying. What the hell does it mean?"

"Well, when someone…" Bea was interrupted by Kara, "I just caught Mary sneaking in. She's been with Ray all night."

"Good for you." Bea beamed, "I've taught you well."

"Beatriz?" Tora asked.

"When I was charge of 'Sociability' class while we homeschooled Mary and Courtney. Mary was always a little slow. I'm proud of you girl!" Bea enthused.

"You woke us up for that?" Shayera crankily asked, "She's old enough to make up her own mind. It's none of our business."

"She isn't legally old enough." Kara rebutted the argument.

"So call a lawyer and a judge. It's not like the courts aren't clogged enough with frivolous cases." Shayera retorted, "Now, since it's only the butt crack of dawn, I'm going back to bed."

"Why do you need sleep? Got a hot date with John?" Bea wondered.

Shayera weighed in on being annoyed with Beatriz. She settled on sighing. The other woman just couldn't help it, "I'm flying out to Central City today. Wally wants to show me the bar where his Rogues hang out."

"Will they be there?" Tora asked.

"He doubts it. They haven't been spotted since nine weeks ago in Islamabad." Shayera said, "However, one can always hope."

"Tell him to be careful." Tora requested.

"Tora! He dumped you. Don't be nice to him." Bea scolded.

"He didn't dump me. We went out on one date. The whole thing just made him uncomfortable. He said so." She defended him, "We're still friends. That's enough for me."

"He just wanted to chase that floozy reporter." Bea huffed.

"Linda Park is no floozy." Shayera informed her, "I met her once on a mission to Central City. She's a very nice girl. She was a little too hung up on the Flash but now she's hung up on Wally so we're going to support him and her and hope for a them. Got it?"

"Fine." Bea half-heartedly replied. Seeing Shayera's razor sharp stare, she surrendered; "Fine!"

"Now, of all our problems are solved, I'm going to bed." Shayera moved off to her bedroom. Beatriz shuffled Tora back into their bedroom, "Go back to bed. We've got monitor duty in four hours."

Tora tentatively laid down on her bed while Beatriz stretched out on hers, "Don't wake me until Armageddon arrives."

As soon as Bea was asleep, Tora got back up. Kara was making coffee. Mary also stayed up. The two weren't talking and the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife. Tora sat down at the kitchen table with Mary, "So, you had fun?"

"Not really. It's a lot of work. I'm learning a lot about things I never knew about before. Some of it confuses me." Mary honestly replied.

"Maybe we can help." Tora cheerfully suggested.

Mary was leery, "I don't think so. I think this stuff is something I need to work out on my own."

"But you seem so sad about it. Are you sure we can't help? I'll do anything that I can." Tora offered.

Mary smiled and squeezed Tora's hand, "Thanks. It means a lot."

"Are you sure there's no one you can talk to?" Tora asked.

Mary suddenly had an idea of someone she could confide in. She brightly smiled at Tora, "Yeah, I think there is. Thank you for reminding me of her."

"You're welcome." Tora smiled in return, "What did I do?"

Mary's laughter bubbled out of her.

After the flat had emptied itself of occupants, Mary reached for her phone. Kara was going to L.A. to spend time with Kyle. That meant that she'd query Ray and find out that Mary hadn't been with him. She needed advice and she needed it fast!

She dialed Barbara Gordon's mobile phone. Barb saw the Caller ID and immediately answered, "Mary! What a surprise. You haven't called since the Daxamite invasion hit."

"I know. I'm sorry `bout that but I've been really busy. In fact, that's why I called. I need some advice." Mary gushed.

"Regarding Ray?" Barb grinned.

"No." Mary said cautiously and then she took the plunge, "Regarding Black Adam. I'm his student now. I really need some help wrapping my head around some of his lessons."

Barb was very still before asking, "And Kara and the others don't know about this?"

"No. Only Galatea knows." Mary answered.

There's a fount of good advice, Barb sarcastically thought before speaking again, "I have the day off. Why don't you come over to my place and we'll talk. Hopefully I can offer some insights into what Black Adam is teaching you."

"Anything would help." Mary confided, "I'll be there in ten minutes."

They hung up then. Knowing that Mary would be taking her time to make it 10 minutes, she began to pick up her place. After all, how long did it really take for a Marvel or a Super to fly from Manhattan to Jersey?

Dawn found Clark and Diana inside the Fortress of Solitude. Diana was preparing breakfast. They'd brought cases of food with them even though they would only be there for the weekend. Clark was feeding the animals while she tended to the meal.

Alarms began to sound. Clark proceeded to the situation room at super speed. Diana flew in to join him a few minutes later, "What's the situation?"

"We've had a space cruiser land on the Fortress. Not just any cruiser, mind you, but Maxima's personal yacht." He whimsically announced.

"Maxima?" Diana asked uncertainly.

"We'd best meet her on the roof." Clark said.

Diana followed him as he flew out of the main entrance and landed in front of the yacht's boarding ramp. Maxima stood at the bottom of it looking as regal as ever. Clark landed in front of her, "You haven't forgotten how to make an entrance, Maxima."

She smiled, "I see you are out of uniform Kal-El and you have a woman with you. Is this Lois?"

"No. Lois is dead." Clark said with equanimity, "This is Diana. Your record tapes would label her as 'Wonder Woman'. She's my fiancée."

"So, you have found your equal. Congratulations! I have not been so lucky but I too have a consort. And of course I have the treasure you bestowed upon me." Maxima beamed and she turned towards the bowels of the ship, "It's all right you can come out now. This is your father."

Clark was stunned as a young teenager, maybe thirteen Earth years of age, stepped out of the ship. She had auburn hair and her mother's blue eyes. She met Maxima at the bottom of the ramp. Maxima wrapped an arm around her daughter, "Kal-El of Krypton and Earth, meet Kalea-El, Crown Princess of the Almeracian Empire."