Disclaimer & Notices: See Chapter 1.
AN: It has been too long. Enjoy! :)
Started: October 29, 2013
Series 1: Down to Earth, Story #3
by Red Hope
Linda Danvers cradled the sculpture between her hands as she sunk down until she sat on the old stool. Her features were lost, and an ache started in her chest. She ran her thumb over the "S" symbol on the figure's chest. Linda's memories of making the sculpture replayed in her mind like a recording. They were foreign yet fresh under her skin.
For several minutes, Linda stared at the sculpture of Supergirl, who was now half of her. Her mind, emotions, and memories were so scrambled today after the merge. It happened months ago, but Linda and Supergirl had yet to reconcile as one being. Some days she felt more like Supergirl, yet she lived her life mostly as Linda Danvers. After shaking off the confusion, Linda gently set the sculpture on the work bench next to her.
Somehow taking the sculpture to the art show seemed strange to her. Instead, Linda searched through her other pieces and looked for ones to display as well as sell. Or so she hoped to make a small profit at the show. She needed the extra money since she was a poor college student and the bad pay as a superhero.
As Linda gathered the sculptures, memories from each piece came to her. Some made her smile softly while others evoked harder emotions. But when she pulled out one distinct piece, rage instantly erupted in Linda's chest. Unknowingly, blond streaks formed in her normally brown strands, and her muscles bulged against her suddenly tight clothes.
"Fucking Buzz," Linda hissed, a slight rumble under her voice. Her fingers grew longer around the bust sculpture of Buzz, who had attempted to sacrifice her. Ugly memories flooded Linda, and Supergirl's presence boiled closer to the surface under Linda's skin. They both wished to repay Buzz for his crimes. However, Linda was barely less guilty too, and that guilt settled on her shoulders.
The arrival of a vehicle distracted Linda from her anger and upset. She had taken the bus out to her old art studio. Only Maggie knew she had gone to the studio. Linda had left the front door open to get fresh air, and the car door's slam made her realize the person was coming to her. Worriedly, she realized she was partially formed into Supergirl and not fully Linda Danvers. Her nails had dug into Buzz's cheek, which now had a crack.
Linda growled and threw the sculpture across the small studio. Some satisfaction filled her, and it helped her shifted fully into Linda Danvers again. She blew out a breath just as the visitor entered the studio.
Remotely surprised yet happy, Linda returned Kallan's smile. "Hey." She came around the work bench. "What you doing here?"
"I stopped by your apartment," Kallan explained. "I'd texted you awhile ago and didn't hear anything."
"Really?" Linda was confused and dug out her phone. She realized Kallan had contacted her but the ringer was still off. "I'm sorry." She put the phone in her pocket. "I forgot to turn on the ringer this morning."
Kallan shook her head and smiled. "It's okay. Maggie told me you were down here. I thought I'd see if you needed a ride home...?" She hoped her desire to see Linda was hidden behind her offer to help.
Linda smiled, but she knew Kallan's motive. She enjoyed both Kallan's kindness and natural want for Linda. "Yeah that would be great. Thank you."
Kallan let out a relieved yet silent breath. "Anytime." She scanned the small interior. "This is your studio?"
Linda studied the interior of her small, dusty studio. "It is." She oddly studied the studio that she had abandoned awhile ago.
Kallan wanted to ask more, but she sensed her friend's uneasiness. "Can I help?" She looked hopeful.
Linda turned to Kallan and smiled. "Yeah that'd be great." Together, she and Kallan organized the sculptures into crates that Linda only used during travel. Afterwards, they loaded them into Kallan's car. Once done, Linda locked the studio and climbed into the passenger seat.
Kallan was already buckling up and put the car into drive. "Do you want to take them to the art show?"
Linda softened at Kallan's help and thoughtfulness. "Alright. It shouldn't take long."
Kallan returned Linda's smile and hurried down the streets then onto the bypass. She knew the art show tomorrow and Sunday would be busy. She considered how much money Linda's sculptures could make at such an event.
"You're quiet," Kallan pointed out after a long silence.
Linda sighed and peered over at Kallan. "A lot on my mind."
Kallan related, and she glanced at her friend. "Anything I can help with?"
Linda smirked to herself before she grew serious. "You help plenty."
"Do you need help tomorrow at the show?" Kallan read Linda's consideration. She quickly added, "I'm good at math."
Linda laughed and thought more about the offer. "Alright." She canted her head. "I'll give you ten percent of my sales."
Kallan went wide eye then shook her head. "I would rather have another date."
Linda was startled and stumbled over her next words. "Another date date… like the last one?"
Kallan grinned. "A date date."
Linda chuckled, nervously but nodded. "Sounds perfect."
Kallan ignored the excited knot in her stomach. A thought popped into her mind, and she frowned a little. "Although I can't be there first thing." She felt Linda's inquisitive eyes on her. "I'm suppose to have coffee with my cousin."
"Still haven't talked to her again?"
Kallan shook her head. "Hopefully I can talk some sense into her tomorrow." She sighed and added, "But I think Carwen has her brainwashed with all the Red Branch nonsense."
"Maybe not," Linda hoped.
Kallan shrugged and said nothing else about it. She instead talked about their recent exam in English 101. Like Linda, she struggled in English class, probably more than Linda. However, they helped each other study and perform better than if they studied alone. Kallan enjoyed her time with Linda and more so as the days went by. It was obvious that Linda was feeling the same way. However, Kallan still had Supergirl often on her mind despite how it was so unrealistic.
Once at the art show venue, Kallan and Linda put the sculptures away under the tables. Linda kept the crates padlock in case of stealing, but she rarely had a problem. Tomorrow morning, Linda would come down early and organize her tables. Kallan promised to be there about ten o'clock or eleven at the latest.
Afterwards Kallan realized she only had two hours before her shift started at Wal-Mart. She drove Linda home first before she went across town to the Wal-Mart. As much as she despised the super store, she had a paycheck until she could find something better. She spent most her shift behind a register, and her feet ached badly by the time eleven o'clock signaled the end of her shift.
Kallan was relieved to finish work and head out into the cool evening. She noted the parking lot still had a lot of cars since it was a Friday night. She went directly to her Honda Civic, which glowed under the parking lot light in its lonely spot. Kallan approached the car from behind, but a movement of air from behind made her stop. Cautiously, she turned around and nearly jumped after she took in the tall beauty standing inches in front of her.
"Are you going for a Batman entrance or what?" Kallan hissed. She patted her pounding chest and glowered at the superhero.
Supergirl revealed a sly grin. "It's called a sneak entrance."
Kallan took a deep breath and lowered her hand. "No kidding." She curiously peered up at the hero.
Supergirl glanced at the store over her right shoulder. "Are you done?"
"I… am." Kallan still tried gauging why Supergirl found her. "You want to talk again, I can tell."
Supergirl had a serious look as she turned her attention back on Kallan. She pointed at the car. "Mind if I travel with you?"
Kallan stared at the superhero, blinked, and realized it was a question. "Are you serious?"
Supergirl lowered her hand and slowly arched an eyebrow.
Kallan cleared her throat and waved her hand at the car. "Hop in." She went to the driver's side and unlocked the vehicle.
Supergirl slipped into the passenger seat.
Kallan was nervous and nearly dropped her key onto the floor. However, she shakily worked it into the ignition and started the car. After she buckled up, she noted Supergirl had done the same.
"Is this your first time driving a car?" Supergirl teased.
Kallan was dry mouth.
"Because you do not want me to drive," Supergirl added. She smiled, playfully.
Kallan laughed, hesitantly. "You drive fast, I take it."
"I don't speed… I just fly low." Supergirl adjusted the seat to go back since her legs were so long.
Kallan blew out a breath and decided to drive, like normal. She pulled out of the parking spot and checked, "Where to?"
"Your home, if that's where you were headed."
Kallan nodded and drove out of the Wal-Mart. She decided on the back way home so she would have more time with Supergirl. "So… why are you in my car?"
Supergirl canted her head and replied, "To talk."
"About?" Kallan prompted.
"Your cousins." Supergirl lowered the window, which made it easier to hear outside. Her hearing was weaker than Superman's, but she could still hear far and also sensed things. "Have you spoken to your younger cousin yet?"
"Tomorrow I meet up with her." Kallan wondered where Supergirl was going with the conversation. "Why?"
Supergirl considered her next words carefully. She hoped it was the right thing to do. "If you feel comfortable with it…" She looked over at Kallan. "Can you find out more about the Red Branch from your cousin?"
Kallan blew out a breath and weighed the request. "I'm not sure." She glanced at the superhero. "I can try, but… I don't know how much she'll really tell me." A furrow creased her brow. "Anything in particular you want to know?"
"I want to know who Morrigan is," Supergirl answered. She ran her fingers through her long, blond strands that the hair had blown around her face.
"He's the leader," Kallan offered. "That much I do know."
"So do the police." Supergirl bit her lower lip for a moment before she looked at Kallan. "But maybe your cousin will tell you more about him."
Kallan sighed and came to a slow stop at a red light. "You want to confront him?"
"I like to do my homework before I confront him and the Red Branch." Supergirl canted her head when she heard a distant noise, but her internal alarms remained silent.
"They've been in this town a very long time," Kallan mentioned. "Longer than any superhero has been in this country."
Supergirl quietly listened before she softly replied, "How much can I argue against them when I'm not much different?"
"You don't exactly go around killing people like the Red Branch," Kallan answered. She caught the darkness forming across Supergirl's features.
Supergirl internally struggled with the fact that her bad calculations instead cost people their lives, like Linda Danvers. "It's easy to slip into something like that."
Kallan was watching her driving, but she heard Supergirl's soft words. She understood the hero's worries. It was a difficult topic, and she let it go for now. She mentally returned to the original request. "I'll do my best to find out more."
Supergirl nodded and decided it was her only source right now. Once she found out more about Morrigan and the Red Branch, she would hunt down their leader. From that point, she could assess the purpose of the Red Branch and just how dangerous they were to the city.
"Stop up here." Supergirl pointed at the bank's empty parking lot.
Kallan was close to home, and she suspected Supergirl knew it. She pulled into the parking lot, under a light. "Will you find me tomorrow night then?"
Supergirl unbuckled the seat belt. "I will." She looked at Kallan. "Thank you for your help."
Kallan felt silly and shrugged, not really sure what to say.
Supergirl grinned and opened the car door. "Have a goodnight, Kal." She stood out of the car. "And thanks for the ride." She shut the door, which still had the open window.
Kallan was leaning to her right, eyes fixed on the blond beauty. "Anytime."
Supergirl smiled warmly before she took off into the night sky.
Kallan released a low sigh. She was unsure how that car ride just happened between her and Supergirl. Each time they had an encounter, Kallan was always surprised by it. She reached home shortly and sat in her car for awhile, unsure about the time. After a headshake, Kallan put her thoughts aside and went inside before her mother worried about her. It was a restless night in bed as dreams and fears plagued Kallan through the night.
By eight o'clock, Kallan groggily climbed out of bed with messy blond hair. She showered first and changed before joining her parents for breakfast. After explaining her plans for today, she kissed her mom goodbye and hugged her father on the way out the front door. Kallan rushed to her car and checked the directions on her phone to the coffee shop.
The ride to The Caffeine Café was twenty minutes long, but it took Kallan awhile to find a parking spot thanks to the art festival. She hoped that meant that Linda could make a decent amount of money. She knew that finances were tight for Linda. Such thoughts encouraged Kallan to text her friend, who was probably setting up the booth. She looked forward to seeing Linda later. However, her coffee date with her cousin made her nervous, especially thanks to Supergirl's request.
Once in front of coffee shop, Kallan took a deep breath and braced herself for a difficult conversation. As soon as she entered the shop, she spotted her cousin, Caitlin, waiting for her. She greeted her cousin with a soft smile.
Caitlin offered a warm hug and then entered the order line.
"Thanks for catching up with me," Kallan offered after they exchanged pleasantries.
Caitlin gave a small shrug. "No probs." She bumped her shoulder against Kallan's arm. "We hardly see each other anymore."
Kallan wholly agreed with her cousin. "Did Carwen mind?"
After another shrug, Caitlin shyly smiled at Kallan. "I didn't mention it to her." She sighed and explained, "Sometimes she can get overprotective, but I can handle myself."
Kallan laughed and stated, "Spoken like a true O'Connell."
Caitlin rolled her eyes, yet her grin gave her away. She turned her attention to the clerk at the cash register. She and Kallan ordered their drinks and then patiently waited for the steaming lattes.
Kallan loved the smell of fresh coffee. She hummed once the warm cup was in her hands. She and Caitlin found a quiet spot beside a window alongside the street side.
For a minute, Caitlin stirred her drink then put the cap on it again. She curiously studied her cousin. "So what do you want to know about the Red Branch?"
Kallan hesitated from her first sip and peered over the lid. Damn her cousin was perceptive. She cleared her throat and lowered the cup back to the small, wood table.
"I'm almost seventeen… and soon I'll be eighteen, Kal." Caitlin set her cup down too. "I'm not a little kid."
Kallan grumbled and took a sip of coffee so she could put her response together. "Family still worries about you, Cait." She rolled the warm cup between her palms.
"But not Carwen?" Caitlin challenged.
Kallan sighed and stared at the cup. "Carwen has…"
"Given up on her life?" Caitlin tempted. Her eyes dared Kallan to confirm it.
However, Kallan shook her head and finished, "She's made her decisions to stay with the Red Branch." She sighed. "But you can go on a different road than your sister. Soon you'll have the chance to go to college."
"I plan to," Caitlin argued, gently. "Carwen wants me to go."
Kallan silently thanked her older cousin for pushing Caitlin to do so. Perhaps there was a chance after all.
"But it doesn't change my feelings about the Red Branch," Caitlin stated. "If it wasn't for the Reds, Carwen and I would be dead." She drank more of her coffee and then added, "I know Supergirl saved you from that monster last week." Caitlin brushed a strawberry-blond strand from her face. "But it was the Reds that saved us from starving… from being homeless or worse."
"Why didn't anybody say something to us?" Kallan argued. She placed her left hand against her chest, indicating her and her family. "We could have been there for you both."
Caitlin sighed and lowered her eyes to the table. "Carwen is too proud." She remembered how difficult the first year was for them, especially for her big sister. Carwen had dreams about completing college, being a lawyer, and having kids later. Everything changed overnight after their mother died in the hospital. Their mother's lean inheritance only went so far before Carwen found other means to keep them fed, safe, and sane.
"Carwen is too damn proud," Kallan hotly agreed. "You shouldn't follow her path."
"If it wasn't for her strength," Caitlin reminded, "We wouldn't be sitting here and talking together."
Kallan sighed heavily and lowered her head before she tried the latte again. She understood how devoted the sisters were to each other. Carwen would do anything to protect her sister and in return, Caitlin followed her sister's words. At one point, Kallan felt echoes of it when she was closer to her cousins, but she had since grown apart from them.
Caitlin shifted back to the earlier discussion. "The Red Branch isn't so bad, Kal."
Kallan suspiciously studied her cousin. "They're out to do what the police don't, and it's dangerous."
"How's it any different than the superheroes?" Caitlin countered. "Except the Red Branch doesn't just fly off into the night… leaving a mess behind." She considered her cousin's skeptic features. "The Red Branch has been there for me and Carwen. They've fed us, kept us clothed, and protected us from trouble."
Kallan sighed and stared at her coffee cup. She was unsure how to reply other than it was a dangerous lifestyle. However, Carwen certainly accepted that lifestyle, and it seemed like Caitlin thought it was okay too. Kallan carefully composed her next words but first reached out and grasped Caitlin's hand.
Caitlin tensed from her cousin's serious look. She was going to dislike what Kallan had to say to her.
Kallan parted her lips, her next breath caught in her chest as a loud thunder sounded and a tremble hit the building. Virginia was not known for earthquakes, but it felt like one.
Caitlin squealed and grabbed Kallan's hand in return. Her coffee fell over and spilled across the table then onto the floor.
Kallan jumped from her seat, going to her cousin's side. Just as she turned, she caught sight of a humanoid bull charging down the street.
"Oh my god," Caitlin hollered. She was on her feet too, holding onto Kallan.
"My god," Kallan whispered, "Not again." She recognized the brazen Minotaur that had already wreaked havoc on Leesburg over two weeks ago.
"It's that Minotaur again," Caitlin declared over the screams in the coffee shop.
"Yes," Kallan whispered. She considered Supergirl's whereabouts and especially Linda's safety because the Minotaur was headed in that direction. She turned to her cousin and held her. "I have to go check on a friend of mine."
"I'll come with you." Caitlin was already determined to help her cousin.
"Oh no." Kallan squeezed Caitlin's shoulder and insisted, "You need to call Carwen."
Caitlin shook her head several times. "I'm staying with you." She cut off her cousin before anything else was said. "I can fight, unlike you."
Kallan blew out a frustrated breath, but a distant roar pierced her thoughts. She needed to find Linda before it was too late. "Alright." She clutched Caitlin's arm and harshly ordered, "Stay close to me!" She headed out of the coffee shop after pressing through several people. "Carwen is going to kill me," she muttered under her breath.
Once on the sidewalk, Kallan made out bits and pieces from the chaos. She knew the Minotaur was headed towards the art festival. There were thousands of people there, and it made Kallan's heart sink down into her knotted stomach. Slowly pained screams filtered around Kallan, and she knew people had already been hurt by the Minotaur's rampage.
"This is real bad," Caitlin stated. "Worse than last time." She fished out her cell phone and hastily sent a text to her sister.
"We have to keep going this way," Kallan explained. She guided her cousin through the crazed crowd. Cars were everywhere, like the people. Police sirens were increasing in volume. People ran from the threat, but plenty also followed the Minotaur to get a glimpse of the mythological creature.
Kallan was one of few that was seeking somebody in the chaos.
Caitlin held tightly to her cousin's hand. She felt her phone vibrate so she looked at the text message. She cringed at her sister's response, but she looked up at Kallan's tense profile. "Carwen is on her way."
"What?" Kallan was dumbfounded and glanced at Caitlin. "Is she nuts?"
"As nuts as us," Caitlin pointed out.
Kallan nearly replied until a piercing scream caught her ear. She clenched her teeth and turned in time to see somebody beheaded by an axe. She nearly threw up her breakfast, but she had looked away in time.
The Minotaur roared and kicked the headless body several yards away. He picked up the man's head and held it up with the axe in his other hand. He roared even louder as he turned in a full circle. He ignored all the humans that circled him because they were no threat to him.
Kallan and Caitlin were on the edge of the circle. Supergirl's prior warning rang in Kallan's ears so she carefully attempted to move back into the crowd.
Caitlin stayed close, but she was transfixed on the Minotaur.
Kallan growled when nobody would let her back into the crowd. She tried wedging between several people, but they were not interested on being at the inner circle like Kallan or Caitlin. "Goddamn it," she hissed. Her heart rate easily increased after the Minotaur stopped turning and faced her. Kallan prayed she blended in with any other human.
The Minotaur huffed and tossed the head at the humans. Several of them screamed in horror, and he laughed at them.
Caitlin swallowed hard and took a deep breath. "What an animal," she muttered under her breath.
Kallan squeezed her cousin's hand in silent warning to be quiet.
The Minotaur gave another fierce cry, seeming to beckon something or somebody. He turned in the circle, his eyes on the sky. Yet, he hesitated when a scent went under his nose. It was familiar to him and drew him to the right.
Kallan stiffened when the Minotaur looked directly at her.
Caitlin gripped her cousin's hand tighter and muttered, "He's coming towards us."
The Minotaur's lips spread into a dark smile. He spun his axe as he steps grew wider.
"He's coming for me," Kallan realized aloud. She now understood what Supergirl was telling her days ago. Kallan made another attempt to escape the circle. The police's distant orders to clear the area made her feel more panicked by the situation.
"He's comin!" Caitlin snapped. She realized nobody was going to move for them. She growled and suddenly landed a sharp punch to the man in front of her. She nailed him in the chest and followed it with a knee slam between his legs. Caitlin was pleased when collapsed to the ground.
"You, bitch!" the guy yelled.
Caitlin ignored it and prepared to fight anybody else in their way.
Kallan jumped over him and drew her cousin with her. She glanced over her shoulder and saw the Minotaur nearly upon them. She then realized everybody was scattering away from her and Caitlin. "Run!"
Caitlin agreed and took off, thankful that the crowd parted open for them.
Kallan was desperate to flee from the Minotaur that obviously remembered her. She realized he was most likely only after her, and she had a chance to save her cousin. Kallan broke away from Caitlin and yelled, "Keep going!"
Caitlin had gone several yards, yet she halted and spun on her feet. She watched in horror as the Minotaur charged after her cousin in another direction. "Kallan!" Caitlin could tell the beast was going to catch Kallan because he was so much faster.
Kallan felt like the beast's hot breath was on her neck. She barely jumped over a small, smashed car's hood. Seconds later, the car was thrown aside by the Minotaur. He was so close to her. Just as she sent a prayer, a reddish blue streak went of her head. Kallan heard a loud growl shortly followed by a huge boom.
Kallan came to a slow stop, turned around, and took several gulps of air. She gasped in relief at seeing Supergirl's tall figure with her cape floating in the breeze. "Thank… god," she rasped between breaths.
Supergirl started coldly at the Minotaur's slumped figure against the building. She suspected she only had seconds before he charged her again. Despite better judgment, Supergirl hurried to Kallan's side and touched her shoulder.
"Are you alright?" Supergirl checked.
Kallan took a deep breath and hastily replied, "I'm great." She straightened up after trying to catch her breath. "Good timing too."
Supergirl had a concerned look and a deep frown. "I told you-"
"Save it for later," Kallan insisted. She pointed past the superhero. "He's moving."
Supergirl turned her head sidelong and slotted her eyes at the rising Minotaur. "You need to get out of here," she ordered Kallan.
"I'm trying," Kallan grounded out. She flinched when the Minotaur roared at them.
Supergirl understood why Kallan was having trouble. However, her immediate problem was the Minotaur and keeping him away from Kallan.
"I don't think he's in as a playful mood this time," Kallan mentioned. "He's already beheaded one person."
Supergirl cursed and tried withholding her self-anger for being too late. "Stay back from us," she told Kallan. "I'll get you out of here in a minute." She did not wait for Kallan's response and went after the beast.
"Be careful," Kallan whispered.
Supergirl went head on with the charging Minotaur. She ducked under his swinging axe and returned his attack with an uppercut punch. She followed it with a second punch to his side.
The Minotaur absorbed the hits with heavy grunts. He brought his axe around and nearly sliced the hero's arm.
Kallan watched the combat between Supergirl and Minotaur. She blew out a breath but a yell caught her attention.
"Kallan!" Caitlin called again. She pushed through the scattering people.
Kallan turned to her cousin and realized the crowed was breaking apart from the battlezone. She also saw the police and SWAT teams arriving on the streets. She wondered why it took them so long.
Caitlin grabbed her cousin's arm and stated, "This place is about to turn into a warzone." She pulled Kallan. "We need to get out of here."
Kallan gazed back at Supergirl and the Minotaur fighting each other. She knew Supergirl could handle herself, and she was better off being away from the Minotaur so she would not be a target, again.
"I still have to find my friend," Kallan explained to her cousin.
Caitlin considered their chances at finding this friend. She knew Carwen was nearly here or already here, looking for them. She could tell that Kallan would only leave after she found this important friend. She sighed and promised, "I'll help you."
"We better go before they start to open fire," Caitlin suggested. She lost track of how many police officers showed up to help battle the Minotaur. She only knew they could get seriously hurt or worse if they waited any longer. "Come on."
Kallan stole a last glance at Supergirl, who took a blow to her side.
Supergirl clenched her side, not quite expecting the power in the hit. She parried his axe swing and stepped back a few times. She ignored the dull throb to her side and slotted her eyes at the beast.
The Minotaur snorted, darkly at the superhero's surprise. "You're coming with me this time… Linda Danvers."
Supergirl gritted her teeth at the Minotaur's words. She would defeat him this time, no matter what it took from her. Whatever his mission, Supergirl found it worthless, compared to the people's safety and especially to Kallan's life.
"Prepare your arms," the police chief hollered.
Kallan grew wide eye once she realized the police would fire on both the Minotaur and Supergirl. "No," she whispered.
"Time to go!" Caitlin yelled at her cousin. She forced Kallan away from the danger.
"Supergirl!" Kallan hollered to the hero. She prayed that Supergirl would realized what was about to happen any moment. She knew Supergirl was not like Superman, and could be in just as much danger as any human being fired upon by the police.
"She can handle it," Caitlin insisted as she drew her cousin past the police line.
Kallan could only watch and listen to the police chief give the last order to fire upon the Minotaur, at any cost. She closed her eyes and prayed for Supergirl
To be continued.