The Others

"When you can't let it go."

Nothing happens in a vacuum. In each of our lives it sometimes feels as if the world stops until we decide what we are going to do. It doesn't. We are but one pebble in the pond and the ripples we created continue out meeting and overlapping others. Independent of what we are doing others have their own lives and concerns. Each comes with their own agenda, desires and wants. Sometimes they sync with ours, but in most cases they don't. Things we thought we'd put in the past aren't always the past for others. They see the world differently then we do and respond accordingly.


Los Angeles

The third smartest man in the world would be quite an accomplishment for most people. For Michael Holt it was meaningless. Being a former athlete he certainly understood the concept of rankings and the desire to find out who was number one, but that stage of his life was behind him. Personal tragedy had tempered much of his desire for accolades and now he was really interested in only one thing, knowing.

It was a hunger for knowledge; to know how things worked and why they were that fueled him. Perhaps it always had and was the real reason he was the third smartest man in the world. Maybe that is the real secret for why some people are intelligent while others are just smart. Smart people can do well on a test, because they memorize the material. Intelligent people want to know why those answers are what they are. A smart person can become very successful focusing on one thing and mastering it. An intelligent person can become successful at many things, because they don't limit themselves and want to know more than just their narrow field.

Michael Holt was successful because he was brilliant, but behind all that was a need to know. If something eventually had practical implications that's was wonderful, but that didn't stop him from wanting to find out. If the only one it would benefit was him, then that was okay, because he couldn't let it go until he did.

Karen Starr was one of the things he couldn't let go. It wasn't their personal relationship and its ending that bothered him. He'd had his successes and failures before. What he couldn't let go of was why and how? The Quantum Tunneler was really a highly theoretical piece of equipment and while it fascinated him with it's possibilities, he knew it had no practical business implications. So why did she risk everything just to see his research?

The second question was how had she done it? He knew his security hadn't been breached, so the only way she could have duplicated the plans was from memory. He had only shown them to her for a few minutes, five at the most, yet she somehow seemed to have been able to replicate most of it with a few modifications. As complicated as the machine was, even Michael wasn't sure he could do that, so how had she?

He hadn't brought the police into it, because frankly he couldn't really prove anything. His model was just that, a model. With no obvious financial gain there seemed to be no motive for stealing it. It made no sense in any normal way and this is what intrigued Michael. Karen Starr was a fantastically successful young businesswoman. She seemed to have everything, looks, money, youth and success, so why would she be interested in the Quantum Tunneler of all things? That question nagged at him and he couldn't let it go.

Michael had monitored her progress from afar. The events in Japan only added to his interested. The young woman that was being calling Power Girl by the media certainly fit Karen's description. It was too much of a coincidence for them to be separate people. So if Karen had meta-powers, where did the Tunneler come in? He'd been rolling the problem over in his mind for months before an accident happened and he thought he might have a clue.

Michael had been to Earth 2.

It had been an unforeseen side effect of an experiment, but he managed to travel between dimensions. It was a world in chaos, fighting for it's very existence. The alien armies had the entire planet at their mercy. Beings that called themselves New Gods were the leaders and Earth's greatest heroes couldn't seem to stand against them. It was on Earth 2 that Michael first saw what everyone over there called a Boom Tube. A transdimensional gateway that seemed to open out of nowhere and transported the alien army to that world. It made him think of the Quantum Tunneler. Suddenly the machine had a practical use.

He had managed to return to this Earth, but wasn't sure he could duplicate the trip. Now back home, his thoughts turned to Karen Starr more and more. Could she be trying to duplicate one of those Boom Tubes and for what purpose? Was she trying to get to that world or bring something from there to here? Could she actually be from that world and somehow managed to travel to this one? Which side in the fight over there was she on? Did she pose a threat to this world?

Question after question came to his mind and he needed to know the answers. After witnessing first hand the devastation over there, he knew he couldn't allow that to get to this world. If she was as powerful as those New Gods he'd seen on the other Earth, how did he stop her? Was that even the reason she was working so hard on the Tunneler? Karen Starr might be a beautiful young woman, but also might be a grave threat to this world. Until he found the answers, Michael knew he couldn't let it go. He had to find out for sure before he did anything.

He needed a lure to catch her and the day's paper provided it for him. Researchers at CERN had just announced a breakthrough in something similar to the Quantum Tunneler. It was still in the highly unstable stage, but it showed promise. Michael had a feeling Karen Starr would soon be visiting and he planned on being there too.


Gotham

Damian Wayne was a young boy soon to be a young man. He was the product of both his parents and vestiges of them emerged at different times. As strange as his upbringing was, Damian was a child of a broken home. Like many such children he had a secret wish that one day his parents would be together again and they would be a family. On the surface it would seemed to make no sense, but these were his parents after all. What child of divorce hasn't at least once ideally wished for their parents to get back together?

In Damian's case, this seemed like a long shot, but again he was a child for all practical purposes. A child thinks if it wants something intensely enough it would eventually get it. Add to this the lessons Damian had already learned in his young life and this made for a volatile mix. For if his father showed interested in another woman, then his fantasy began to crumble. He would do anything in his power to make sure that didn't happen. Given who his parents and teachers were, that made young Damian a very dangerous boy.

There was also the issue of fathers and sons. Most crave attention and acceptance from their fathers. Damian was no different. If his father showed interested in another woman besides his mother, then Damian lost out on his father's attention. His mother had taught him well to allow no rivals in anything. She taught him to always be alert to possible threats and he took this to heart.

Helena.

Damian hadn't been blind to his father's interested in the young woman. Yes she was pretty, he would admit, but not as pretty as his mother. Now she was in Gotham and his father was already running over to her hotel to meet her. Damian didn't like it and didn't like her. She thought she was so cute using Pennyworth as a last name. She must have known it would get his father's attention and after watching them together he knew that's what she wanted. She wanted to take his father away from his mother and him.

Damian wasn't going to allow that to happen. His father might not like it, but his mother would understand. You protect the family, at all costs. That's what Damian planned to do, protect his family from this Helena woman.


The Watchtower

Hal Jordan stood at one of the windows looking out at the stars. They had always beckoned him even when he was a kid. Becoming a pilot like his old man seemed like the closest he would ever get to them, until he became a Green Lantern. Suddenly the stars were within reach. With each new mission and discovery the siren's song to be out there grew louder. Yet he couldn't seem to let Earth go. It was his home, his world, yet there was so much more out there now.

There were still times he felt like the same Hal Jordan, the wisecracking flyboy and lady-killer who enjoyed hanging out with his friend Barry and being part of the Justice League. Being part of what was known, as Earth's Greatest Heroes was such a rush, yet now he understood that there were so many worlds out there. Each needed his protection, the protection only a Lantern could provide. Their mission was so much larger than just one world and now it was Hal's mission too.

His time on Earth had become secondary. He would never admit it, but the Justice League could do just as well without him. Of course they were so much cooler and better with him, but that really wasn't the point. Hal knew he needed to pull back, to devote more of his time and energy to the Corps, but he continued to hesitate. Earth was such a part of him; he couldn't seem to let it go. He couldn't figure a graceful exit, one where he got to play the hero one more time on Earth before turning to galaxy that needed him. Maybe fate would help, but he wasn't counting on it.


Washington D.C.

Steve Trevor was having another miserable day. Between the endless meetings with Congress and the reporters hounding him with questions, it seemed everyone wanted to rub it in that Wonder Woman had dumped him. Each time he would politely tell them they didn't know what they were talking about, but in his mind he was saying something much simpler, "Fuck Off!" Of course he never said that, he was a professional. Steve had a job to do. In his mind he was protecting the Justice League and Diana.

He'd told everyone that so many times he even believed it himself. It wasn't personal; he was just doing his job. The problem was everything about Diana was personal for Steve. He was in love with her. He probably had been from the moment he met her. He'd certainly had his share of break ups in the past, some his doing and some not but he'd always accepted it and moved on. He couldn't seem to do that this time. He couldn't let it go.

When you find someone so perfect, so right, how can you just walk away? Deep down he still believed they had a chance. He just needed to give her more time to see how right they were for each other. If he tried moving on, he would just be comparing any new woman to her and they were bound to come up lacking. So he stayed in contact, doing his job to protect her from all the threats he knew were out there.

She had been so young when he first met her, 18. He was the first man she'd ever seen and she was so naïve about the world. She was also the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. At first he'd tried to tell himself he was just looking out for her. He was in his thirties and had more than his share of experience in this world, so like a big brother he wanted to help her. Soon though, he realized his feelings towards her weren't those of brotherly love.

He could still vividly remember the moment he told her he loved her. Her silence as she struggled with what to say seemed like an eternity. He actually cursed her for being unable to lie to him, to tell him she shared his feelings. She said she cared for him, just not in the way he cared for her. She probably didn't even realize what a gut punch that was. He told himself he accepted it, but he couldn't let it go. He couldn't let her go. He was still in love, desperately in love with her.

At his core, Steve was a good man. He was a soldier and hero saving lives many times over. The situation he found himself in was so different than anything he'd gone through before. He didn't want to be the creepy ex-boyfriend that couldn't accept it was over, but that was the role he was being cast in. He clung to the idea that he was doing the job not just for her, but for the whole League and that it was important work. The problem was he really didn't like or care for the other members, just Diana. There was also the irony that he was good at his job, he made a great advocate for the Justice League. It was just slowly killing him inside to see her and not be with her.

He just couldn't seem to let it go.


Gotham

Selina Kyle had come to the old hotel because rich people stayed at the old hotel. Rich people meant money and jewels, two things she liked very much. Always the curious sort, she found it interesting when Bruce Wayne of all people arrived at the hotel. Her interest increased when she saw the young woman he was meeting. Selina remembered seeing her at the trade show in New York. What she was doing in Gotham held a mild interest for Selina, but what really got her interested was when she noticed young Robin doing surveillance on the same young woman.

Robin meant Batman and Selina was always captivated by anything that had to do with him. She knew Robin hated her, some sort of mommy issues she thought, but why would he be tailing the young woman? Searching her memory, Selina came up with the name Helena, but didn't remember the last name. Was Helena somehow connected with Bruce Wayne or Batman, Selina couldn't help wondering? If it was Batman, Selina wanted to know how.

The more she thought about it the more she didn't like the idea. There were already rumors about him with Talia al Ghul, so Selina figured she had enough competition. Let this Helena play with Bruce Wayne if she wanted, but stay away from Batman. As this thought went through Selina's mind she found she didn't like the idea of Helena with Bruce Wayne either. It just felt wrong somehow, but she couldn't put a finger on why.

Maybe she'd do some investigating of her own into this Helena woman. At least she wanted to find out why that little prick Robin was so interested in her. Selina glanced at the old hotel and knew the wise thing was to forget about Helena and just do what she'd come to do. Let Robin and whoever worry about the young woman, it wasn't Selina's concern. The only problem with that was her curiosity was peaked and once that happened Selina always had trouble letting it go. It might be the wise thing to do, but she just couldn't let it go.


Washington

There is always a learning curve. Diana knew this when she arrived in the outside world, but had embraced it. Floating effortlessly over the city, she realized how far she had come and how far she still had to go. She had no illusions about how difficult it would be. Diana felt ready for all the challenges she would face except one, Steve. She saw him earlier on the television being ambushed outside a store by reporters. The questions of course involved her. She hated he had to deal with that.

Steve was a good and decent man, yet he was killing himself with this job. Diana cared for him deeply, just not the way he wanted her to. That was the agony of it; once the words were spoken she could never take them back. He said he understood, but it seemed he couldn't let it go. She knew seeing her and having to talk about her in his job was just twisting the knife. She'd never wanted that, but now she understood you couldn't make someone understand what he or she didn't want to understand.

Silently landing on one of the great monuments, Diana sat down and watched the people below. They were strangers, but now that seemed to be all she had. Hera's wrath against her mother and sisters meant Diana was truly alone in the world. She had no one to ask about what she should do. The closest people to her she realized were her teammates in the Justice League, yet most of them seemed to want to let her handle the situation with Steve on her own. She suspected they knew of the break up, yet they had never mentioned it to her.

She had liked the idea of joining a team at the beginning. Being new to the world, she thought it would help with her transition. Five years in she realized they had become her friends, but not her close friends. She didn't even know who two of them were behind the uniforms they wore. It would have been nice to be able to turn to one of them and ask their opinion or advice, but it seemed that wasn't part of the deal. She watched the way Barry and Hal were together and had to admit a bit of envy at their friendship. She would have liked to have that, but when she worked with those two she always felt like the outsider. If Hal wasn't hitting on her, he didn't seem to know what to say and Barry always seemed to bit intimidated by her.

Arthur and Batman always seemed consumed with worries about their own kingdoms to really become close with. They were the oldest of the group and in many ways their concerns seemed different from the rest. Victor was the opposite, the youngest but closer to Diana's age of twenty-three. She sensed they shared confusion with how they fit into this world, but he was still struggling so hard with his own issues, she didn't have the heart to burden him with hers.

That left the member she had the fewest dealings with, Superman. Diana couldn't help noticing him always floating around the edges, never the center. It seemed strange to her that of all her teammates he was the one she felt the most alike. He was as different as she was, maybe even more so. At the beginning she would have thought it would be Arthur because of their shared royal heritage and coming from a world inside, yet outside this one. Those it turned out were just the surface facts and at their core they were just as different as she was from the others.

In battle it was always Superman she felt the most comfortable fighting next to. He rarely spoke, but she always felt he had her back. She realized recently he had all of their backs, not just hers. Still she felt closer to him than the others. It didn't really make sense, but when she thought about the few conversations they'd had, Diana had been able to open up with him more than with the others. She really knew nothing about him, except he was a reporter in his other life. She didn't know his actual name, although he had told her his Kryptonian name, Kal-El. Still she couldn't help wonder if maybe he was the one to talk to about all of this. Maybe he would understand better than anyone else.


Smallville

Then there was the one at the center of the ripples, Karen. She came back here the next day just to see it one more time. He had cleaned everything up and the trailer was gone. Why she came back when she couldn't the day before, she didn't know, she just had to somehow. As much as she wanted to, she just couldn't seem to let it go.