Different City

Gotham

Her name was Dinah Laurel Lance aka Black Canary. So far in her young life, she'd been a daughter of crime fighters, mercenary, government agent, wife and accused murderer. There's an old saying about living in interesting times and for someone in her twenties, Dinah had certainly done that.

Those interesting times had come at a cost. The murder she was accused of was her husband's, Kurt. Her time working along side him in a secret government team had taught her all about duplicity, lies and the shadow world of government black ops. The toll was something she was still dealing with. She'd lost her innocence, the man she loved and much of her faith in the institutions the rest of us take for granted. On top of everything else it seemed she had the Meta gene. Control wasn't something she'd managed yet and the guilt over the part her cry had played in Kurt's death wasn't helping.

She was wounded, but they were the type of wounds where the scars weren't easily visible from the outside. A fugitive, she'd returned home to Gotham City to try and reassemble the fragments of her ruined life. Her personal side had shut down, but years of training and a sense of responsibility drilled into her from an early age by her parents meant she couldn't stand by and do nothing. What she found when she got home was that the city was better and worse. New heroes had emerged to fight the violence and corruption, but Gotham had a long history of resisting those sorts of efforts. If anything the criminals had gotten worse and were now part of the global community. If there was a dollar, yen or Euro to be made anywhere in the world on arms, drugs, terror or any other illegal activity, Gotham's criminals had a hand in it.

Dinah's parents had fought all their lives against this and now that she was home, she took up their mantle. She might be a fugitive from the government, the intelligence community and law enforcement, but that wasn't going to stop her from doing what she had to do. Some might call her a vigilante, but Black Canary was going to let her voice be heard.


Gotham Bus Station

The old streamline bus pulled into the rundown station. It was late, almost two in the morning and this part of town wasn't somewhere you wanted to loiter. The tired, fearful passengers emerged, glancing nervously around at the huge dark city, which seemed so ominous this time of night. They had all heard of the city's reputation, but for one reason or another they still came. They quickly rushed into the waiting room hoping their transportation was already waiting or would soon arrive.

The last passenger to get off the bus was different. A tall, lean, rather handsome young man, he stopped on the bottom step and looked at the huge city all around him. He smiled. At 22, he had just graduated college and was here to start his career. It had been a toss up whether to take the job as a stringer for the Daily Planet in Metropolis or the one at an Internet startup here in Gotham. Both would allow him to be a reporter, but this job wouldn't limit him to just covering one city. He'd been torn, as working for the Planet was rather prestigious, but the long-term outlook for newspapers wasn't good.

The decision had come down to one rather simple factor, money. He wasn't rich, so he had to take out a few loans and work his way through college. Now that he was finished with school that money was due. He'd been raised to pay what he owed, so he took the job that paid more. Hopefully he could clear his debt quickly and then his options would be open. The experience he got working here would help if and when the time came he wanted to move on. So while all the other passengers saw a forbidding city, he saw the opportunity to get free from all his obligations.

His name was Clark Kent and there was something else that made him different from all the other passengers. Clark had a secret. He wasn't originally from this planet. In all practical ways he thought of himself as a human and this was his home, but with each passing day he was reminded he was something more.

From what he'd been able to piece together from the ship that brought him to Earth and the records contained in it, he was born on a planet called Krypton. His biological parents, Lara and Jor-El had wanted to save him from the destruction of their world. He arrived in Kansas and was found by Martha and Jonathan Kent. They had raised him as their own. For most of his life he was like everyone else, oh, perhaps a bit stronger and healthier, but essentially the same.

From what the construct/hologram of Jor-El had told him he should have gained amazing powers by being on the lower gravity, yellow sun planet, but for most of his life that hadn't happened. The older he got Clark couldn't help wondering why it hadn't happened. Digging deeper into the records he thought he found the answer. When Krypton blew apart, fragments of it must have been caught up in the wake of his tiny ship. They arrived a few months after he did. People of Smallville still talk about the meteor showers to this day. The best explanation Clark could come up with was that something in those fragments had interrupted what Jor-El thought would happen.

Given the variables, it wasn't hard to see that so much of what had happened to Clark was fortune or by accident. He was sent to Earth, but where he would land was up to chance. Fractions of seconds or trajectories could have changed everything. So it wasn't that hard to imagine that things hadn't worked out exactly the way Lara and Jor-El had imagined they would.

It was Martha and Jonathan Kent that put it in perspective for Clark. They told him he didn't need special powers to make a difference in the world, just the desire and the will. If he were only a little stronger and healthier than everyone else, that would have to be enough. What he did with his life could still be important. He just had to find a different way then Lara and Jor-El had imagined.

He'd been more than a little disappointed. Who wouldn't be? Eventually he accepted that despite his origins, he was just like everyone else. He made his peace with it and moved on with his young life. He couldn't miss something he'd never had.

It was in the summer between his junior and senior years that the first changes happened. Long, hot days in the brutal Kansas sun seemed to energize him, where everyone else withered. They were only small changes at first; his senses seemed heightened, while he got stronger and faster. The only people he confided this to were his parents. They suggested that perhaps whatever was in those meteors wasn't permanent. Maybe Lara and Jor-El's theory about him on Earth had only been delayed.

He had to keep quiet about his growing abilities. A young man from out of nowhere suddenly being faster and stronger than everyone else raised a lot of eyebrows and questions. The Kents weren't wealthy people. They had done their best to cover up who Clark really was, but their best efforts couldn't stand up against the kind of scrutiny that might come. Their greatest fear was that one-day someone from the government or the military would come and take Clark away. They would never see him again and probably face charges themselves. For all their safety, the best course of action was to not draw attention.

They got to watch him graduate and there were no prouder parents at the ceremony. Things were tight, but they had been saving for his college. Clark took a year off to work and save some additional money. It was during that year that he lost both his parents. It was still the saddest day of his life, but he'd made a promise to them he'd go to college and finish. He kept this promise.

His college years flew by. He'd rented out the land around the house, but that didn't cover much. He always had odd jobs during the school year and then full time jobs in the summer. In some ways he was your typical college student, always poor yet always on the go. Quietly he continued to get stronger and faster. His skin felt the same, but somehow harder, denser. He was now stronger than just about any normal human on the planet. What he would do with these new gifts, he still hadn't worked out.

As he stood in front of the bus terminal, Clark knew his adventure was just starting. He hardly looked like anyone special, dressed in jeans, work boots, leather jacket and a tee shirt with the logo of his Kryptonian family on it. It had been a gift from Ma and Pa Kent on his graduation. It was to honor his origins and remind him how far he'd come. Clark liked it and wore it as a tribute to both his families, the one he'd never known and the one that raised him and gave him the shirt as a gift.

Grabbing his bags, Clark started walking away from the bus terminal. He began work tomorrow and had rented a small room in East Gotham. Until his first paycheck things were going to be a little tight. No use wasting money on a taxi when he could walk the mile or so to his new place. A smile on his face, Clark headed out into the night.


Gotham

A robbery gone wrong had turned into a high-speed chase through the city. The thieves had more firepower than brains and were creating havoc in their wake. Several police cars had already been disable and there looked like a chance the robbers might actually get away. They almost started congratulating themselves until they saw the gorgeous blond on the motorcycle behind them.

Dinah had heard the report of the chase. It was moving her way. She was going to make sure it ended as she jumped on her bike and headed out. Now she had them in her sights. They were driving wildly, but heading towards East Gotham, the worst part of town, hoping to get away. She veered through the nighttime traffic, dodging bullets, cars and pedestrians. In the distance behind her she could hear the sirens, but they were falling behind.

Dinah knew she needed to herd the robbers away from the main street. Gunning the motor she shot ahead, dodging in and out of traffic and then using a ramp to fly into the air. She landed next to the car with a jolt and nearly lost her balance. The robbers had been so shocked by her jump they hesitated. As they started to bring their weapons around and train them on her, Dinah veered into the car, banging her bike against its side. She grabbed the nearest gun and yanked it from the man's hands, elbowing him in the face as she did.

She hit the brakes, just as a trail of bullets slashed in front of her. Raising the gun, Dinah squeezed the trigger chewing up the pavement next to the car until they made the turn she wanted them to make. With a smile she headed after them.


Clark heard the sirens and the gunfire in the distance. There weren't many people out of the street, just a few standing around a kiosk having coffee and chatting. A car suddenly burst around the corner going at an insane speed. It was up on two wheels and Clark could see it wasn't going to make the turn. It crashed into the park cars and then rolled over onto its roof. He was stunned just like everyone else.

Two things brought him and everyone else out of their paralysis. First the people in the car managed to get out and begin firing guns wildly. The second made even a stronger impression on Clark. A young, beautiful blond woman in a skintight outfit that showed off every one of her spectacular curves came around the same corner, flying through the air on a motorcycle. She was heading directly towards the gunmen. Clark was a little shock that this seemed to be her crazy plan the whole time. In midair she executed a back flip, as the motorcycle crashed into the disabled car. The gunmen scattered, wild eyed and desperate.

The other people on the street wisely scattered. Most of them had lived in Gotham their whole lives so this wasn't a first for them. Clark found himself moving towards the mayhem, not away. He was a bit transfixed by the blond as she attacked the gunmen, using some form of martial arts. It seemed effortless how she moved, avoiding the gunfire and countering. Two of the gunmen were down before they even knew it. The third opened fire; pouring every bullet he had left at her. The last gunman wasn't so heroic. He started running. He seemed to spot an older woman trying to get away and must have thought he had a hostage.

Clark made a decision and reacted.


Dinah dodged the hail of bullets, using the cover of the wreckage. She lamented her bike had taken so damage, but she was reasonably sure it would still work. What made this robber the most difficult was he was shooting blind, at everything and anything. She needed to take him out before he caused more damage. Feinting one way, she moved quickly over the wreckage and in one smooth move landed a perfect kick to the man's jaw. He went down immediately. There was one more and as Dinah turned and scanned the street she saw he was going towards a civilian. He was too far away for her to reach him before he got to the old lady. Damn it, I'm getting sloppy she chided herself.

"No!" Dinah shouted, hoping to distract him and perhaps delay him.

"I'll kill her!" the man shouted back, lowering his weapon and aiming at the old lady. Dinah started running, hoping against hope she would reach him in time, even though she knew she wouldn't.

Then something happened.

A tall young man wearing an S tee shirt and jeans was suddenly standing in front of the robber. Where the hell did he come from, Dinah wondered? Before she could process this, he grabbed the gun even as the robbery pulled the trigger. The bullets went flying, but now they were aimed away from the old woman. In the next moment the young man landed a left hook to the robber's jaw. He went down, the gun slipping from his hands. He didn't get up.

Dinah stopped ten feet away from the stranger. He was tall, almost a foot or more taller than her 5 foot 4. He was lean and she couldn't help noticing rather good-looking. Still he had been foolish to get involved.

"What the hell do you think you were doing?' She shouted at him.

"Helping." He replied.

"Why?"

"Because I could."

She wanted to ask him more questions, but the sirens were getting closer. She was still a fugitive. She looked back at the corner and then at the young man. He was smiling at her of all things. Dinah found herself returning it.

"Um, well, thank you," she finally said.

"You're welcome."

She kept looking at him, even though the sirens were very close now. Finally she snapped out of it.

"Okay, bye!" She said, and then started running back to her motorcycle. She pulled it up and started it. She gunned it and started down the street but stopped when she got along side him.

"Don't do anything like that again, you could have been killed!" She shouted. "Don't be a hero!"

"Isn't that what you were doing?" He replied, still smiling at her.

That damn smile is so distracting, Dinah chided herself, and those blue eyes don't help either. She needed to go.

"Just-Just be careful, whoever you are, okay?"

"Okay."

The first of several police cars came barreling around the corner. It was time to go, Dinah told herself. She gunned the bike again and headed off into the night.