Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):
Kal & Lyla
“Kara. Get your ass out of bed.”
“Don’t want to.”
Her face still buried in the pillow, Kara said, “Van. Have you
forgotten what I used to do before I became an actress?”
“Kara. Have you forgotten how much money they’re paying you to
finish this picture?”
“Frab.” Kara turned over in bed. Van, fully dressed, was
standing beside it. “Give me a few minutes.”
“I’ll give you ten. After that, I order the bed to throw you
out. I’ll take my chances with your fighting prowess.”
She sat up. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“I’d love it.”
“Won’t give you the pleasure.” She swung her legs over the edge
of the bed and got up. “But I’m nerved, Van.”
“Understood. So’s Van-Zee, but he’ll be glad to wrap this and his
final scenes.” Van took her hand. “Want a nerve pill,
She shook her head. “No. This may give me an edge.
Just walk me to the dining room and then get me dressed and into the
car. Please, Van?”
For answer, he kissed the side of her neck. Kara closed her
eyes. “Don’t. I’ll never get to work if you start that.”
“Yeah. I just want you to remember what you’ve got coming after
work is finished.”
“That’s a motivator.” Kara spoke to the CompUnit. The
closet door retracted into the wall and a hover-rob brought her a robe
from within it. She slipped it over her nightdress. “This
must be like giving birth. You’re glad the thing’s going to be
over, but you’re scared about it ending.”
“Uh huh,” said Van.
She looked at him. He wasn’t smiling at all.
Nar-Es, pulling on his own pants without benefit of robots, noted that
his wife Hira always managed to get up before he did. But at
least she didn’t wake him up. He found his headband, clasped it
on, combed what was left of his hair, went to the john, smeared shaving
solvent on his face and wiped it off along with his beard, washed his
face, regarded himself in the mirror, and sighed.
A voice from the speaker beside the mirror interrupted him.
“Sorry, dear, but we have a visitor. Should I let her in?”
“Who in Sheol is it?”
“Miss Jara,” said Hira.
Nar’s eyebrows rose. Jara? Lady Jasmine? The little
minx who’d been one of Kara’s deadliest foes in the wrestling ring and
taken her title, until Kara won it back and they became friends?
“What does she want?”
Hira sounded griped. “I think it’s obvious she just wants to talk
to us, Nar. Can I show her in?”
“Yeah, yeah, show her in. Just let me finish up here first.”
“Of course, dear.” From her tone, Nar noted that he’d better
cadge dinner from a restaurant tonight. He didn’t know what was
under her skin, but sometimes it was best to let her work it out
A few minutes later, Nar entered his living room to find Hira and Jara
sitting around the breakfast table. The tableau caused him to
stop and take time to process the visual information. After all,
the dark-skinned brunette in the rather demure purple dress before him
was the same woman who, not long ago, had made unwanted advances
towards Kara Zor-El and, being rebuffed, beat her badly in the ring and
even joined forces with Zora Vi-Lar, a former and present Zoner and one
of Supergirl’s deadly enemies.
But Jara, aka Lady Jasmine, had seen the light in a showdown match with
Kara, broken her connection with Zora, and fought clean. Kara
ultimately won the fight, her last before becoming an actress, and Jara
became her friend. Since then, they hadn’t seen that much of each
other, though Jara had won the title Kara relinquished.
Still, Nar remembered what grief this woman had caused him and Kara,
and he had his reservations. “Well, Jasmine,” he said, “what
brings you to our house?”
“Blessings on it,” said Jara, with a smile. “And on you,
Narior. I just came by to ask a favor, if I could.”
“Depends,” said Nar. Hira, he noted, was keeping her peace.
Jara, one knee on top of the other and her hands around a hot mug of
juice, said, “It’s been a long time since I had a chance to talk with
Kara. I’ve heard she’s in production of a movie now, is that
right? And if it’s true, I wanted to know if I could see her
“Oh,” said Nar. “Well, hate to say it, Jara, but the production’s
under tight security. Bottle-tight, know what I mean?”
The woman’s face fell a bit. “Sorry to hear that. I mean,
I’m not that way about Kara now. I have somebody in my
life. But would there be a chance I could talk to her?”
Nar shrugged. “Always a chance. I’ll tell her, then it’s up to
her. But she’s working hard now, Jara, and she’s got somebody in
her life, too.”
Looking serious, Jara nodded. “I know. Hope she’s very
happy with him. It is a him, right?”
She sat the mug of juice down on the table, uncrossed her legs (the
fineness of which Nar noted, and noted Hira noting him noting that),
and stood up. “Thank you, Nar. I’d really appreciate
that. Tell her that I’m not...you know...towards her
anymore. I just want to be a friend.”
“I’m sure she understands that, dear,” said Hira,
sympathetically. “Blessings on your house.”
“And yours, again,” said Jara. “Thank you. I wish I had
more to say, but...”
“It’s okay, Jasmine,” said Nar. “I’ll walk you to the door.”
On the way, when they were out of Hira’s earshot, Jara said, “Do you
forgive me, Nar?”
“What?” He stopped, looking at her. She wore one of the
most distressed expressions he’d seen since...well, since Kara was
trying to figure out a way to keep Ar-Rom from cutting her movie.
“Do you forgive me? I know I hurt Kara, I...did what I did in the
ring...but I didn’t do what Zora wanted me to. I couldn’t do
“If you had, you wouldn’t be here today,” said Nar. “You’d be in
“Yeah,” said Jara. “Probably. But...oh, Narior, I’m just
kind of lonely. Even though I have a lover, I want to know that
she’s still my friend. Kara’s gone onto a higher thing now.
I could never reach her. But if we could just talk, if we could
just do a friend thing...that’d mean a lot. It really would.”
For a long moment, Nar was silent. Then he said, “I can talk to
her. But, Jara, even though I can forgive what you did, I can’t
“Then...it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to, uh, show up here anymore?”
He slowly shook his head.
Sadly, Jara offered her hand. “Thank you for this much,
Nar. And blessings...”
He took her hand and escorted her out the door. “Blessings on
yours, too. But let our houses be separate.”
On the set, the first one to see Kara and Van seemed to be
Gro-Nas. “Oh, it’s you!” he barked. “Glad something’s going
right today. If it is.”
The cast and crew around them seemed to know enough not to interrupt
the director as the two made their way towards Gro. “What
happened?” asked Kara, still not in costume or makeup. “Uh...is
my cousin Van around here?”
“That’s what’s not going right,” groused Gro. “Can’t get in
character. Absolutely crap in the run-through. Went to his
dressing room. I’m about at the point of putting destructomite
under the door.”
“That’d ruin a perfectly good dressing room, Gro,” said Van.
“What’s the problem with Van-Zee anyway?”
Tera For-Don, who was hanging around as an extra, answered. “He
was just out of it. Just stopped right in the middle of the line,
yelled something like, ‘It’s not worth it!’, and stomped off to his
“And nobody tried to stop him?” asked Kara.
“Hey,” said Tera, “would you want to try?”
She guessed not. Van-Zee was a physically powerful man.
“He’s still in his room?”
“Where do you think?” said Gro.
“I’ll talk to him,” she said.
“Be my guest.” Gro pointed the way.
Van-Ol looked at her. “So Supergirl gets to save the world again,
With a look that would have frozen the Fire Falls, Kara stepped past
him and went to the building that housed the dressing quarters.
She helloed the various folks between her and her quarry, went to
Van-Zee’s door, and rapped on it. “Van, talk to me.”
“Not now, Kara,” came Van’s voice from inside. He sounded tired,
She set her hands on her hips. “You’re holding up production and
costing us money. You’re also acting like a little kid, if you
ask my opinion.”
“I’m generous that way! Van, open up.”
“So keep talking to me, then.”
“Can’t stop you. But I don’t want to talk.”
“You want me to go get Sylvia and have her talk some sense into you?”
“This isn’t about sense. This whole thing doesn’t make sense.”
Kara sighed. “Van, what is the frabbing matter with you?”
A long pause. Might be making progress, she thought. “I’m
not going away, Van. I’ll just get somebody to spell me if I have
to go to the bathroom or sleep. I can have meals brought
“WILL YOU STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME INTO SOMETHING I’M NOT?”
Kara’s mouth was stopped in mid-sentence. Slowly, she closed it
and waited. Van’s voice returned.
“I never wanted to be a damned actor. Only did it for you, as a
favor. I’m tired, Kara.”
She leaned against the door. “I understand, Van. I’m pretty
“You don’t understand, Kara. This isn’t me. I am...a
scientist...I am...an El. But I am not an actor.”
“For someone who says he isn’t, Van, you sure as Sheol are doing a
great job of fooling the most professional guys in the holo business,”
said Kara, sincerely. “Including me. You have done really,
really well, Van. Nobody...nobody could have played Kal as well
as you. Honestly.”
“I am not Kal-El.” Van sounded as if he’d plowed a field for an
afternoon, dragging the plow himself.
“No, you’re not,” said Kara. “And I’m not Lyla Lerrol. But
we’re playing them in a picture, and we need to finish. Please,
Van? For me?”
“That’s the problem. I don’t want to see the finish.”
Kara stared at the door. Then she put her back to it, slid down
to a sitting position, hugged her knees, and went, “Oh, frab.”
“It’s been too long. It’s been too hard on me, Kara, on
my...” He didn’t finish the sentence.
“On your...feelings, Van?”
“Don’t ‘perhaps’ me. You know. Yes, or no?”
She shifted her position against the door. “I understand,
Van. Believe me, it plays merry hell with my feelings, too.
Having to pretend to be a woman who was dead before I was born, having
to go through the Destruction in proxy, having to keep that little bit
of me in control to separate me from her, and not letting it show...it
“No,” he said. “It’s not.”
“But I know you, Van. I don’t think you’re gonna go this far, and
not finish things. You’re not that kind of man. You’re a
lot tougher than you let most people know. Even Kal I don’t think
“I’m tired of pretending to be in love with you. I want to go
back to my wife, Sylvia.”
“You’ve never been in love with me, Van, and I’ve never been in love
with you. Sylvia’s right there for you. We’re just making
believe. Do you want me to go get her? Could she help you
by talking to you?”
“Haven’t you already done enough?”
“Not quite. Apparently,” she said. “We’ve got work to
do. Are you really gutless enough to hide behind a door and not
“Quit trying to psych me.”
“Well, somebody needs to! This is work, Van. This is a
job. You don’t leave a job unfinished, for R**’s sake. You
can’t build a house and leave the ceiling and the floor undone.
What do you want me to do?”
Another voice said, “Let me do something, Kara.”
She knew that voice. Kara turned her head to the left and saw
another familiar face. Ak-Var. Van-Zee’s partner, fellow
lab worker, and best friend. A former Zoner who had reformed and
was now one of the El clan by marriage. Outside of Sylvia, she
was probably the best hope they had, right now.
Kara got up. “Think you can, Ak?”
He smiled, tightly. “If I can’t, ram the door down. Give me
some time alone here, okay? And I do mean alone.”
She shrugged and shook his hand. “Do your best.”
Resolutely, she walked towards the klatch of studio people standing
nearby. Kara lifted both hands, palms up. “Back off,
everyone. Give Ak-Var room to work.”
The others retreated to as far as she indicated. Kara took her
place among them, watching Ak-Var at the door. They saw him say
something, heard Van-Zee yell, “What? You!”. Then the
conversation on both sides of the door was more subdued. They
watched and waited.
Van-Ol seemed to materialize beside her. “Seems like he’s doing
some good,” he said, sotto voce.
“Did you have something to do with this?” whispered Kara.
He smiled. “We could’ve called Sylvia, but I thought that would
have gotten him into hot water at home. Then I remembered hearing
you talk about his buddy Ak. I got hold of him through your dad,
and he was pretty prompt getting here. Don’t you think?”
“Don’t know what I think. I just hope it works.”
“Just keep watching, Kara. And praying.”
She shook her head. “Why? Why does this thing have to be so
hard to do? I find out secrets about Lyla’s background, I go to
Earth, I get two bad guys to irrigate our crops and bring back Argo
City, and now Van-Zee wants to act like a dummy. Why, Van?”
He gave her an appraising look. “Didn’t you hear what he yelled,
Kara? You’re asking him to be something he isn’t.”
“You’ve been an actress since before you came to Rokyn, Kara.
This is Van’s first job as an actor. He’s never been prepared for
it. He doesn’t have the degree of control that lets him separate
himself from his part. We’ve thrown him into a big-budget
spectacular, one that depends a Sheol of a lot on his
performance. So what’s the big mystery?”
Kara stayed silent.
“We’re just about down to the end of it,” said Van-Ol. “It’s like
graduating from the learning center. You’re scared about the next
step you’ll take, scared of losing the friends you’ve made, not knowing
what your life will be like. He’ll go back to his lab, all
right. But after that holo comes out, Van’s life is going to be
“I’m sorry,” she said, barely above a breath.
“There isn’t time for sorry anymore, hon. There’s just the rest
of the picture to do. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?
She didn’t answer, or look at him.
Within another five seconds, the door opened.
Kara caught her breath. From what she saw of him, Van-Zee looked
haggard. He was wearing only the pants of the Superman outfit;
Van was bare-chested and sweating. Ak-Var hugged him, a masculine
thing that implied only friendship and brotherhood. Van hugged
him back. Finally, Ak turned his friend towards the crowd.
Van seemed to have the expression of a hurricane survivor.
“I think he’ll be ready to go back to work in just a bit,” said Ak-Var.
The studio crowd broke into a cheer. And no one cheered louder
An hour later, both Van-Zee and Kara were in costume and makeup and
ready to go. She found herself as nervous as she’d been before
her high school prom in Midvale. Fight it down, Kara, fight it
down, she told herself. You’ve gone against Mongul, Darkseid, and
the Anti-Monitor. One little movie shoot isn’t going to make you
run away screaming.
Then she looked at Van-Zee and knew he was feeling it, too.
“Van,” she said. “We’re not playing this as you and me,
now. We’re Kal and Lyla.”
“I appreciate that,” he said, sardonically.
She smiled. “The nerves we’re feeling, they’re the nerves of two
people who’ve decided to get married. Wed three years before the
Destruction. We both know it’s going to happen. We know
you’re going to be born in a short time. We don’t know what’s
going to become of you when the baby version of you gets born.”
Van-Zee drew a deep breath and let it out. He listened.
“We can make this work, if you keep control. If you have a small
part of the real you on the bridge, knowing you’re manipulating
it. This is the most important scene in the movie, Van. If
we can sell this...we’ve sold the picture.”
“What about me? What do I do after this?”
“You don’t have to make a single other holo. You’ll have a
zillion credits in your account, and a bunch of cameras in your face
for interviews for about a year. But that’ll die away, and you’ll
go back to being your own self after that. I know it’s hard for
you to pretend you’re somebody else, Van. I learned about that
when I pretended to be Linda Danvers.”
The look he gave her reeked of deepest irony. But she plowed
“That was my first acting training. It really served me well when
I had to be an actress, in a couple of movies when I was in school, and
later on that TV show on Earth. But you...holy Rao, Van, you’ve
picked all this up in such a short time, if you wanted a career, you
could have it.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“Don’t thank me. Thank yourself. I couldn’t have made this
work without you. Now...shall we go in there and make it work one
He smiled. “Lead the way.”
(SCENE: The set of The Space
Explorers, on the last day of the shoot. [Prop men, get this
right. We’ll have seen the original movie several dozen times by
the time we shoot this, and you should be able to dress this set in
your sleep. Get anything wrong, and I promise you won’t sleep for
a week. –Van.] We’ll holofake a Flame Dog in the scene. Kal
and Lyla are in costume, standing around with the guy playing Ex-Tor
playing Captain Varm and the ones who play the rest of the crew.
Kal, as one of Varm’s crew, will be helping set things up for the
takeoff from the planet. Lyla would be coming for one last kiss
and a farewell towards the end of the scene. But, as we know,
that didn’t get played with Kal. The crew is milling
around. Director is acting like Gro-Na...excuse me, like a
tyrant. Take it from there.)
DIRECTOR: On your marks in ten, people. Give us a performance we
can believe in, for once. Am I dealing with a bunch of
LYLA (in half-mocked anger): I’m a Rozzite!
DIRECTOR (turns to her): Yes? Point being?
(Lyla turns away in a huff as the others snicker. She makes her
way over to Kal, who has on a half-smile.)
KAL: You’ve just got a few more days to put up with that.
LYLA: And I’m going to put a picture of him on my dresser and hate it
every single day. If I’m lucky, he’ll get sick and be replaced.
KAL: It’s just work, Lyla. Just finishing a job.
LYLA: Anybody that believes that should never consider being an actor.
KAL: Or, maybe, a lover.
(Lyla looks at him in new appraisal. Kal remains steady.
She closes on him, slowly.)
KAL: You’d do this for a lowly extra?
LYLA: I’d do this and a lot more.
(The two embrace and kiss for a long time. We hear the crew
clapping long before they break.)
DIRECTOR: Kal, Lyla. Save that for the scene, okay?
Rehearsal is over.
KAL AND LYLA: Yes, Ravior.
DIRECTOR: Okay. And one last thing, people. See that
beastie over there? (He points.)
(Cut to: a trainer with a Flame Dog on an electroleash. It has a
muzzle on, but it’s still growling. We get a sense of ominousness
from the sight of it. [And if we don’t, somebody’s going to lose his
DIRECTOR: This is a real Flame Dog. We will have him unmuzzled
for only a very short time. He is dangerous, and I want you to
obey that trainer even better than you obey me. Which shouldn’t
be hard, the way it’s been going. But this isn’t a joke.
Don’t do what he tells you, and you could end up burned to death.
Let’s hear a big, ‘Yes, Ravior’ on that.
CAST AND CREW: Yes, Ravior.
DIRECTOR: All right. Places, everybody. (Long enough pause
for them to get situated.)
(Cut to: Scene of Kal and Lyla holding hands and looking into each
other’s eyes. Then we pull back to see the movie set, and Lyla
reluctantly lets go and moves away to the periphery. Kal waves,
briefly. She gives him a look of love and wonderment. We
see the trainer with the flame dog, close enough to be within the
scene. We pull back to see the set as a whole.
(Cut to: The Director, assessing the scene. Finally, he speaks.)