Supergirl (Kara of Rokyn):

    Kal & Lyla

    Part 12

    by DarkMark

“Kara.  Get your ass out of bed.”

“Don’t want to.”  

“I said...”

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, Karaish?”

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?  That Jara?

“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 herself.

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 working.”

“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 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 that.”

“If you had, you wouldn’t be here today,” said Nar.  “You’d be in jail.”

“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 forget 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.  “ 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 dressing room.”

“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, huh?”

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, but angered.

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 didn’t.”

“I’m generous that way!  Van, open up.”

“I won’t.”

“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 in.  I...”


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 lagged, myself.”

“You don’t understand, Kara.  This isn’t me.  I am...a scientist...I 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 isn’t easy.”

“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 knows it.”

“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 do it?”

“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.”

“Yes, but...”

“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 changed forevermore.”

“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?  Well?”

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 than Kara.


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 forward.

“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 last time?”

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 half-educated Rozzites?

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 job.  –Van.])

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.)


   (next chapter)