I am officially giving away this immune system. What the hell is it in Florida the last few months that we are getting every damn virus and bug in the world and it's ALL being passed through retail? UGH. That said, sorry this is late, all. Anissa and I both have sore throats and some sort of stomach bug. I don't even. Healthy, what is that? Some sort of promised land? *headdesk*
That said, sorry this is late, all. Anissa and I both have sore throats and some sort of stomach bug. I don't even. Healthy, what is that? Some sort of promised land? *headdesk*
Mad Dog Lane was back. Lois had spent the morning sweating various sources by phone, and part of the afternoon doing research in the Hall of Records. Kal-El had finessed some of his sources too, and tagged along for the records search. His speed-reading ability was immensely useful there, especially combined with his ability to look straight through a stack of files, reading each one along the way.
Lastly, they went to see Inspector Sawyer—or Lois did. Kal-El got one of those emergency calls, but it wasn't like she needed a super-powered protector to see an old friend. At least, not when she arrived bearing scotch.
Maggie opened the door to see Lois' smiling face and a bottle of Glenmorangie The Nector d'Or. Her response was less than welcoming. "What do you want, Lane?"
"Is that any way to talk to your best friend in the Fourth Estate?" Lois asked.
At that, Maggie actually guffawed. "I think Tobie might be my actual best friend in journalism, Lois."
"She's your wife. There's a difference."
"Says the girl who married her best buddy from around the office."
"What can I say? Clark makes a mean cup of coffee."
"Yeah, he also makes a damn good set of twins," Maggie shot back, her glacial blue eyes dancing with amusement.
"Don't get any ideas, Mags," Lois taunted with a smirk, and Maggie laughed back at her.
The banter back and forth was just a warm-up. Arriving with scotch meant Lois was on the hunt for a story, and Maggie really disliked being a source. But hell, they were both after the same thing: justice. Neither of them liked it when scumbags managed to evade punishment for their crimes, but Maggie was inhibited by due process and the search and seizure laws. She couldn't investigate based on a hunch.
She could investigate based on a meticulously-researched front-page article published in the city's biggest newspaper, though, and that would convince her to play ball. Raines would howl, of course. Tobie had told Lois more than once to marry her own damn cop and stop stealing hers.
Lois had repeated that remark to Kal-El once, and he had smiled. "Not a cop. I never forget that I operate without official sanction, although I'm on the same team with the police. Sometimes I think of myself as a hall monitor of sorts, though." And that remark was pure Clark Kent, through and through. Lois had rolled her eyes.
Maggie finally sighed and stepped out of Lois' way. "You're lucky to catch me at home, y'know."
"Yeah, well, I called the office first," Lois replied, setting down the scotch and taking a seat at Maggie's kitchen table.
"And they actually told you I was home? That's a breach of procedure." Despite the hour, Maggie poured them each a cup of coffee. Reporters and cops drank the stuff twenty-four hours a day.
Lois took her coffee and sipped it. Milder than the newsroom brew, but then, Maggie actually cleaned out her coffee maker at home instead of letting it develop a patina of pure caffeine. "No, they told me you were unavailable, and I didn't hear anything from my source in the D.A.'s office that would lead me to think you were there, so I took a chance that you might be home early. Must be nice, being one of the big wigs." She smiled to show that the teasing was just that.
Maggie had the throaty laugh of a long-term smoker, and sat down with her own coffee. "Says the assistant editor of the Daily Planet."
"Not this week." And even then, even when she knew Perry meant it as much as a way of letting her blow off steam as a reprimand, Lois still seethed a little.
"You got demoted?" Maggie arched a blonde brow.
"I ran away from a boring conference, and now the Chief is smacking my hand to teach me better," Lois said drolly. "But, I am still the best damn reporter under that roof, and I've got my teeth in a story. Actually it was my up-and-comer who found it first, but this one's big."
"This is the banking scandal in Chinatown, right?" Maggie said.
"So there is an investigation," Lois said, her eyes alight. "Oh, and I didn't bring a tape recorder, and you're totally off the record, Mags."
"There's really not much to tell." The blonde sighed, looking at the scotch as if there were answers in the golden liquor.
Lois just leaned forward, one elbow on the table, and propped her chin on her hand. Maybe it was time to wheedle. "Tell me anyway?"
"The whole doe-eyes thing doesn't work when I know damn well there's more Cujo than Bambi in your DNA, Lo," Maggie informed her.
Well, they always got around to straight talk eventually. No amount of bribery, threats, or begging would move Inspector Sawyer, but it was just possible that she might impart some information if there was a good reason for it. And to Lois' mind, there was always a good reason, or she wouldn't be there in the first place.
She sighed and ran a hand through her hair, organizing her thoughts. "Mags, I think Joeng Oi-Kan has got his fingers in a whole lot of pies, and none of them are legal and above-board. We're talking big. Like, everything from insider trading to illegal immigrants being outright sold to massage parlors to some kind of banking scandal. Oh, and just possibly espionage, but I don't think I can find proof of that. And I have a week to run it down before Perry drags me back into that office by the scruff of my neck and makes me a damn administrator again. And then there's also Suen and Lei and a couple others, but Joeng is the one I want to reel in."
Maggie stared at her a moment, and finally said, "All right. Informants tell us that there was a run on Suen's bank during the worst of the recession. That's when Joeng turned up on the scene. Apparently Joeng bailed him out."
"Wait. Joeng has that kinda money, he bailed out an entire bank?" That boggled Lois' mind. It was bad enough dealing with Lana, also known as Mama Warbucks, and her tendency to pick up expenses if she wasn't stopped—oh, and casually drop trust funds on the kids. Picturing someone with enough money to bail out a bank was quite frankly scary.
The blonde shrugged. "He does, or his friends do. And when certain people hear that Joeng has deposited fifty million in a bank, they think it's probably gonna last a while."
"So tell me about Joeng's friends," Lois asked.
That earned her a bitter smile. "Look, we know Joeng has been a very, very bad boy, but he's made of freakin' Teflon. Everything slides right off him. Every case we've tried to bring, the D.A. won't let it go to trial for lack of evidence. And he's right. If we swing and miss, he'll just run home, and then we won't be able to extradite him for any other crimes we find. But he likes this country, the way a fat man likes a big juicy steak, so he'll stay as long as he can. Probably laughing at us the whole time, thinking we're too stupid to catch him."
Lois chewed her lip thoughtfully. "You just need something to nail him with that he can't wiggle off of."
"All we need is solid evidence connecting Joeng to organized crime, or to the brothels, or to Lei and military secrets. But Lois—don't get too close. These people don't play."
"Are you trying to tell me it's too hot for me?" Lois shot back, outraged. "You think the boys at Stryker's Island play? How about the mob? Or that senator who was so deep in misuse of campaign funds he thought it'd be a good idea to throw me off a train? Huh, Mags? Or how about Lex fucking Luthor, hmm? Also known as the reason I shoot with the other hand now."
Her furious voice had all the finality of a door slamming shut on a tomb, and Maggie sat back, staring at her. "Lo, listen. I can't ask you to go breaking and entering and running around playing spy versus spy with these guys. The last informant we had got made, and we found him floating in the bay minus several important bits—and that was before the fish started on him. It's not that I think there's anyone in this whole city who can put one over on Mad Dog Lane. It's just … I'm getting to a point in my life where I really, really can't stand to zip any more friends into body bags."
"Don't worry about me, Mags," Lois said, reaching out to cover the blonde's hand with hers. "I've got the brains and the guts and more years of reporting experience than I'll ever admit to, but I also have one thing that trumps all of that."
"Oh yeah?" Maggie said, clearly amused by her gumption.
Lois made sure to enunciate clearly, her eyebrows darting up. "Three magic little words I like to call: close air support."
At that, Maggie laughed. "All right. Take your superhero and go find yourself a story, and find me something to nail this sonofabitch with. Just be careful, dammit!"
As Lois left, she knew she was immediately going to go against that. Kal-El really hated to be part of anything that involved breaking and entering, and she only had a couple hours when she could be reasonably sure Suen's office would be unoccupied. Maybe her wonderful yet law-abiding husband would stay preoccupied just long enough.
Then all she had to do was break into a bank.
It had been toward the end of the set for their performance at Thee Imperial when Kala felt a goose walk over her grave. Something was wrong; panic tightened her heart for a minute. For a moment, her voice nearly went out with the wave of fear, but she got it under control. Only Sebast seemed to notice, though he let it go when she winked at him.
The feeling didn't stop, just lingered enough to feel electric on her skin, made her feel edgy. Only one thing ate at her like this, nagged and didn't let go. It was Jason. It had to be something wrong with Jason.
Kala held on until after their opening set was over, hoping and praying that it wasn't something immediate. God, wouldn't it just figure that he'd need her when she was in a far-too-public place? Once they were offstage, she pulled out her phone and sighed with relief to see that whatever was wrong, he'd had time to text her. Although the news she found there didn't make her feel any better. This merited a lot more than a phone call. And now she knew exactly why her twin had to have been freaking out.
Backstage, Kala made some excuses to the guys and headed out. Good thing Sebast had been wiped out or he would have volunteered to come with her. It was only around ten when they had wrapped. Really, it would've been simpler to tell the truth—she was going to see her brother, after all—but Dustin was Jason's best friend and would be curious. Too curious. Especially since it was the middle of the school week. As it was, volunteering to pick up some meds while she was out did the trick.
Now all she had to do was to get out there and hope that what Jase was worried about wasn't as big deal as she thought it was. Her twin hadn't been forthcoming in his texts, but the fact that he was asking her to take him for a power-up spoke volumes. Kala found him in his dorm, unaware that Tim had insisted he get some studying done while he was waiting for his sister.
Blurring past campus security and into the dorm, she slowed as she entered the floor where Jason was staying. Her presence got a couple of looks from people in the hall; Kala hadn't bothered to change out of her stage outfit, and Goth rockers were rare enough at Johns Hopkins to cause comment. Not that Kala noticed. She was comfortable in her own skin, velvet, and cat-eye liner. Right now, her main priority was her dorky hero brother.
"Hey, Kal," he said, opening the door and shaking his head at the sight of her. "Or should I say Elvira?"
"C'mon, Lizardboy." Not a good sign, his looking this mournful. And tired. What the hell had he been fighting this time? But what he needed now more than concern was reassurance. And she needed to know what was going on. "Let's get this show on the road. Or the roof, as the case may be."
He followed her to the stairs, and once they were on the rooftop, Kala said, "Scope out anyone watching."
After an embarrassed pause, Jason muttered. "I can't."
Kala raised an eyebrow. There was that cemetery goose again. "What do you mean, you can't? You ran yourself down that low, you don't even have telescopic vision anymore? What the hell have you been up to today?"
"Something like that," he agreed. Jason's innocent face fooled most other people, but Kala had always seen through him. She crossed her arms and stared until he sighed and gave up. "Kal … I was in a fight earlier today, and I got hit with some magic, and … my powers are gone."
Her spine turned to ice at that. "Gone?" Kala whispered. "You mean, all of them? Completely gone?"
By way of answer, he tilted his head and showed her the abraded skin on his jaw. "I tried to jump back to HQ, and fell flat on my face. This was hours ago, Kal."
The deep chill taking residence in her soul wanted her to flee. Such a small injury, but the fact that it hadn't healed spoke of many more dark possibilities. If this could happen to him, it could happen to her, too, and what would she do without flight to soothe her heart and quiet her mind? To hover in the sunlight was her personal form of meditation, the only perfect stress relief available to her. Flying, and singing her heart out on stage, let Kala feel completely like herself.
But this was her twin, he needed her to be the strong one, and Kala could no more turn her back on him than she could abandon her own right hand. It was hard to imagine now exactly what he must be going through with this. Kala flung her arms around him and squeezed him in a hug that said everything she couldn't express. "It's gonna be okay. We're going to figure this out, I promise."
"That's usually my line," he mumbled, hugging her back.
"Yeah, well, now it's my turn," Kala said. "So you think we need to jump-start the powers?"
Jason nodded. "I went to the Fortress and got Jor-El to scan me. He says everything is fine, just dormant. He couldn't boost me up with what the Fortress has stored, though. So I'm thinking, a concentrated dose of sunlight might do the trick."
"I can do that," Kala said confidently, and shifted her grip so she was holding her brother's forearms. "Hang on tight—next stop, the sun-drenched skies of Midway Island." It was earlier in the day there, and the tropical sunlight would be at full blast.
Jason frowned. "Isn't that way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Kala, I don't know…."
"Gotta go where the sun is," she said cheerfully, and took off.
Kala moved fast enough that those who looked up at Jason's trailing-off yelp of terror saw nothing amiss in the sky above them.
There were certain things Lois Lane always kept in her purse and would never be without: a couple of pens for writing down information, a hairbrush for taming her mane, some cash for a quick bribe or cab fare, a couple of credit cards in case of emergency and also to loid certain locks. The bank was going to take a lot more than an old AmEx card to get into, however, which was why she had a set of lock picks sewn into the lining of said purse. Not the cheap ones you could get out of a catalog that sold aluminum sword replicas and fake World War II memorabilia, either. These picks would've gotten her arrested in a heartbeat, just for having them. Maggie knew, but she pretended not to.
In any case, there was a whole lot more security at the bank's corporate office than just locks. Guards patrolled outside and in, though she noticed that they seemed to move more smartly around the ground floor. She didn't want to tangle with them. Lois had her Ladysmith, in case the security here was more like hired thugs, but she wouldn't use that except in the most extreme circumstance.
Casing the place, she could see only one plausible way in: the rooftop door. Unlike the ground-floor entrances, which had keycard locks, it had a padlock she could pick. That meant Lois had to get to the roof first, though, and Kal-El could've come in handy there. Not that he would help her, of course. Breaking and entering were against his rules, so it was just as well he was distracted at the moment.
In the end, Lois managed to climb one fire escape that had been carelessly left down, get from that building's roof to the one next door by simply stepping over a parapet, since they were built right up against each other, and then come to the bank office. Here she had a problem. The corporate office was a little distance away from the building she was on, just enough to give the workers a view of brick walls through their windows. Five or six feet.
Lois knew she was physically capable of jumping that. She also knew that trying to do so, with a five-story drop below and her history of bad luck with heights, was stupid. There was nothing up here she could use to bridge her way across, either. Not without giving herself away to the guards patrolling below. And she couldn't call Kal-El for help. He'd pull her away and berate her.
She blew an irritated breath out from her nostrils. Twenty years ago, Lois would've jumped it. Back in those days she'd been reckless and wild, and something like this wouldn't even faze her. But now … now she couldn't help thinking of the finality of the fall. Sure, Kal-El would rescue her. If he could get here in time.
That kind of thinking disgusted her, and Lois turned away, retracing her steps. She ended up on the side street behind the bank's corporate office, and finally her luck turned.
A woman was leaving the office, wearing smart red suit and carrying a briefcase. And Lois was in the perfect position to see through the smoked-glass door as the woman opened it, noting that the guard's desk was presently unoccupied. So the only thing standing between Lois and easy access to the building was a keycard.
Just like the one the woman had carelessly dropped into her open purse as she took out her phone and made a call.
Pickpocketing is a lesser offense than burglary, anyway, Lois thought, and walked on staring down at her phone as if reading a text. Just as she reached the woman, who stepped to the left to avoid her, Lois looked up as if startled and stepped to her right. They crashed into each other, both phones hitting the ground and both women apologizing for the impact. "Sorry, you know how it is," Lois said with a charming smile as she knelt to pick up the other woman's phone.
"I know," the woman chuckled, getting Lois' phone and handing it over. Lois grinned and thanked her.
A professional could've done it more smoothly, sure, but the woman certainly didn't notice her badge and keycard had made their way into Lois' purse at some point during the incident, and that was all that mattered.
Kala was trying to be nice, flying slower and more smoothly than usual, but all Jason's brain could comprehend was the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Dotted here and there with atolls, it seemed a never-ending expanse of blue, and the only thing keeping him safe and dry was his sister's hold on him. Knowing he didn't like heights, or the thought of being stranded out here, she wasn't complaining about the grip he had on her elbows.
The sun drenched him, and Jason felt nervous sweat prickle at the nape of his neck. By the time it beaded on his forehead, he realized it wasn't just from anxiety, it was also from the heat. Something he hadn't experienced since he was a little kid. Jason groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. "Kal, it's not working."
"Give it time," she insisted.
So they waited, Jason swallowing nervously and looking down at the water only a few dozen feet below. "Do we have to be so low?" he asked.
"Well, I'm hoping the light reflecting off the water will bounce back up for an extra boost," Kala said. "Also I'm watching for sharks."
"Sharks?" Jason was shocked to hear his own voice sound so weak. Under normal circumstances he had nothing to fear from a shark. Heck, he and Kala had pummeled Bizarro around the North Atlantic not that long ago, and not once had he worried about what might lurk under the waves. But right now, his invulnerability was gone, and he couldn't help thinking that to a shark he was just another meaty snack.
Kala replied obliviously, "Yeah, you know that shark-tagging program I was watching last summer? Where they catch the great whites alive and put a tag on them to see what they're doing? Some of them come out this way, but no one's quite sure why. I always kind of hope I'll see one in the wild."
Jason groaned. That was his sister—if there was a weird, potentially dangerous, generally freaky animal, she liked it. "Could we maybe not see one today? You know, with your not-so-invulnerable brother hanging around?"
"Jase." Kala looked at him, and pulled him close for a hug. "I won't drop you. And if any shark did try to take a chunk out of my brother, they'd find themselves pretty personally endangered."
"You always did fight my battles for me." He smiled sadly, thinking of all the times in grade school he'd refused to raise a hand to a bully—only to see Kala run up screaming and flailing. Seeing her pile in like that, even to someone who made a career out of picking on littler kids, almost made him feel sympathy for the poor unsuspecting bully. Even more so once she'd learned what 'kick 'em in the jools!' really meant.
"Yeah, well, someone had to look after you." Kala smooched his cheek, leaving a smear of dark lipstick.
Jason scrubbed at it. "Don't they make lipstick now that doesn't come off all over the place?"
"Not in my colors," Kala said proudly.
While they waited for the sun to charge him up, they fell to discussing mundane things: the other students in his classes, the guys in her band, what mutual friends were up to. The only one they didn't discuss was Elise. "Oh, and Kristin wants pink streaks now, in time for Valentine's day," Kala added.
Rolling his eyes, Jason just said, "Lana's gonna kill you."
"Nah. I bought Kristin the clip-ins in five colors. Among other things. What're you getting her for her birthday?"
"Never you mind," Jason said haughtily. He'd already bought Kristin a decent telescope, so they could look at the stars together, but he also needed a slightly more girly gift and was having trouble choosing one. He'd probably have to enlist Cassie … if she was still speaking to him.
"Whoa, brother mine. You seriously just looked like someone stole your iguana. What's up?" Kala's worried brow looked exactly like their Mom's, and he couldn't help responding the same way.
"It's Cassie. I … I was kind of a jerk to her. She wanted me to tell Dad, and … I don't want to go running to him with this. I mean, I'm supposed to be one of the unofficial leaders of the Titans. What kind of hero am I if I have to run to Daddy all the time? This is my problem, I'll handle it."
His twin stared at him for a long moment, and then let go with one hand just so she could smack him upside the head. "One, you're a dork. Two, flowers, chocolate, abject apology, foot rub. Trust me. Three, you're the kind of hero who has some frikkin' sense, Jase. The whole reason you guys have teams is so you can support each other, so you're not all flying blind like Daddy and Diana and Bruce and Ollie and everyone else were back when they started out. Don't you remember all the arguments Mom and Daddy had over him trying to do everything himself? Four, if this doesn't work, Jason, we're going to Daddy, and that's that. I'll fly you to HQ myself, and you know damn well you can't just let go or anything."
He had to hang his head. Kala was right, and there was no denying it.
There was also no denying the fact that he didn't feel any better after hovering in the sun this long, and in fact, Jason thought he was starting to get a sunburn. "All right, Kal. Let's go back," he murmured, defeated.
Kal-El had been busy dealing with a freak storm that had caused an airplane to crash into the ocean, but when the message came through on his comm that he was needed at Titans Tower, he wrapped things up as quickly as he could. He arrived to find most of the current Titans roster hanging around conspicuously, and once he walked into the comm room, both of his children sitting there looking despondent—along with a very nervous Cassie Sandsmark and a very serious Tim Drake. "What's going on?" he asked.
"Hi, Dad," Jason said wanly. "I, um … well, what happened was…." He squirmed miserably, and for one horrible moment the worst possibilities flashed through Kal-El's mind. Off the top of his head he could only think of two things that could make Jason this ashamed of himself, and he hadn't heard about any civilians or even villains getting injured lately, so could it be…? Please tell me Cassie's not….
"Lizardboy got punched by a sorcerer," Kala put in, looking just as grim as Jason sounded. "And now he's powerless. I tried taking him for a sun-boost, but zilch."
"All right," Kal-El said, his mind racing. That was worse than the possibilities he'd had in mind. He knew what it was to lose his powers, how it felt to be suddenly human after a lifetime of being Super. And it was probably worse for Jason. Kal-El had never truly been human, showing powers from the day he arrived. His son remembered what it meant to be vulnerable to every virus and allergy and everything else.
Kal-El stepped forward, placing his hand on his son's shoulder and looking into his eyes seriously. "We're gonna get through this, son. First, let's get to the Fortress and have Jor-El check you out."
"Already did that," Jason said in a small voice.
He blinked. "You went to the Fortress?" It wasn't that Jason wasn't allowed; the Fortress was for all the sons and daughters of Krypton here on Earth. But without his powers, how had Jason managed that? Kala must've flown him.
Cassie winced at the mention of the Fortress, but Kal-El wasn't paying much attention to her or Tim at the moment. Meanwhile Jason nodded slowly. "Jor-El says there's nothing wrong with me. The kryptonelles are just … dormant. He did a full scan and tried to boost my powers, but he can't charge me up the way he did you without wrecking the place again."
"Well, we don't want that," Kal-El said with a small smile. All four kids were looking up at Kal-El then, obviously expecting him to have a solution. That was what Superman did, right? Swoop in, save the day, fly off with a wave. If only it were that easy now, when his son was the one in danger. "Okay. Let's get this straightened out. Jason, tell me exactly how it happened."
Jason sighed mournfully. "Dad, I'm not even sure what happened. All I remember is Cassie hitting the sorcerer, him blocking it, me wading in after the guy and grabbing him, and then he punched me in the head. Next thing I knew I was flat on the ground, waking up."
"And you didn't block the punch, because it's been a while since you had to," Kal-El mused.
His son looked ashamed. "I should've. I was trained to. Bad habit to get out of."
Kal-El put a hand on his shoulder. "It's not your fault, son. Invulnerability means we can concentrate on disarming an opponent instead of having to defend."
Tim spoke up then. "The sorcerer claims he bought his gear—probably stole it, since it's quite a bit better than what he's actually capable of—and all he knows is there's an enchantment on them that protects him from harm. Raven examined the gauntlets and said the spell also turns an attacker's force back on them. But she can't figure out how that managed to negate Jason's powers, or how to turn them back on."
And Raven was pretty much the magic specialist for the current group of Titans. Kal-El sighed. He knew the kids were expecting him to make it all better, but maybe it was time they learned that no one had all the answers. "Well, Jason, you've pretty much done exactly what I would've suggested already. So now we have to go find someone who knows more than either of us do about magic."
Jason didn't look precisely relieved, but he looked less miserable and more hopeful, and that was good enough for his father. "Who?"
"Zatanna," Kal-El replied. "Just let me run a request through the JLA and get an appointment to go see her. In the meantime, Tim, we'll have to pull Jason off the roster."
"Already done," Tim said. Jason looked wounded at that, and Tim turned to him seriously. "I know you were trained to operate with your powers at low ebb, but we can't risk it. You've had years of fighting with super-strength and invulnerability, and those create habits that can be lethal in the wrong kind of fight. We need you too much to run that kind of risk."
And that news was too clearly a crushing disappointment. Kal-El put his arm around his son's shoulders. "We'll work this out, Jason. One way or another. Now come on, let me get you back to school, and I start working on a meeting with Zee. Kala?"
"I've still got some time. I'll fly along with you," she said, and gave a light punch to Jason's arm. "C'mon, Dopey."
"Wait," Jason said, and shrugged away from both of them, turning back to his friends, holding his hands out to Wonder Girl. "Cassie? Cassie, I'm sorry. I freaked out, I was a jackass to you, and you were right. I'm sorry."
"No, Jason, I'm sorry," she said, and dove into his arms for a long hug. "I didn't know, and I didn't bother to think why this would be a bigger deal for you than it is for me. If anyone's a jackass it's me."
"No, you're not," he murmured, hugging her tight.
Kala turned to Tim and grinned. "So he's seen sense and made up with his girlfriend? I think I deserve a high-five for that, don't you?"
Tim just rolled his eyes and slapped her five. Kal-El took advantage of the moment to send a coded text to Oracle, who would pass on the information for him. Also that way he didn't have to see Cassie kiss his son, who blushed scarlet at the fact that she'd done so in front of his dad.
"Just do me a favor," Kala said, ignoring the pair. "When you do take Jason to see Zatanna, can I come along?"
"Why?" Kal-El asked her. Kala had made it very plain that she was staying out of the hero game.
"I wanna ask where she gets those fishnets," Kala said, and Jason broke away from Cassie to groan at her. Kal-El couldn't help laughing; trust Kala to find a way to lighten the moment.
"All right, let's go," Jason finally said, rumpling his sister's hair to her annoyance. "Cassie, Tim, I'll see you around soon. I promise."
Of course, given the choice, Jason flew with his father, Kala doing lazy loops around them. "I thought you might be mad at me for being careless," Jason said abashedly on the way back.
"If I did that, I'd be a hypocrite," Kal-El admitted. "Don't worry, son. We'll get this figured out. And I'll even tell Mom for you."
"Yeah, I was dreading that." Jason chuckled.
Kal-El smiled. Lois would not be pleased that her son had gotten hurt—she was famously protective of both twins—and the culprit might need protective custody. "I left her in the middle of an investigation, so her attention ought to be fairly caught up with that. As a matter of fact…."
He slowed in midair, listening to Lois' heartbeat, which was slightly elevated. And also not where she'd been the last time he spoke to her. He really hoped she hadn't done something drastic without him there to talk sense to her. Kal-El frowned, tuning his hearing in that direction, and then heard his wife whisper, "Gotcha."