A few days after Nevada, muffled noises from Kala’s room woke me up in the middle of the night. I thought it was a nightmare – hers had gotten worse and more often than ever. When I opened the door, though, she was sitting up at her desk watching something on the computer. When I looked over her shoulder, I was surprised to see the old news footage of General Zod. It sent a chill down my spine to hear his voice again. “Why’re you watching that?”
“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” she told me softly.
I didn’t know what to say, so I just hugged her. She leaned against me, and I whispered, “I love you – and your big head.”
That old joke got a smirk, and Kala bumped her forehead against mine. “I love you too, big brother.” That moment told me everything was gonna be okay; we were back in sync the way we’d always been. No matter what happens, no matter where she goes or what she does or how weird she is, Kala will always be my twin.
It’s a good thing, too, because circumstances have turned the whole house upside down. Uncle Perry made Mom take time off until she finished her physical therapy, and she grumbled around the house like a bad storm until Grandma and Grandpa Ben came to visit. Everybody but Mom knows the new puppy was a gift to help her keep her mind off things; even Dr. Marrin commented on how neatly they arranged that.
School has been … well, interesting. Sebast and I put a stop to the rumors about Kala pretty quickly. No one gets in fights at Stalmaster, but I don’t usually have to raise a hand to someone anyway. All I have to do is stand all the way up and glare like Dad. Sebast, meanwhile, threatens to use his Latino rage like it’s some kind of superpower. I think he still feels guilty for having believed Giselle.
Giselle … I finally pestered Aunt Maggie into giving me the truth. Giselle was murdered in prison. Luthor had her poisoned to keep her from talking. After everything that happened, I still pity her. She wasn’t a good person – she was a liar, a cheat, and a con artist – but she wasn’t evil, not of Luthor’s caliber anyway. She’d never taken a life; she didn’t deserve to die for what she’d done. I think that’s what I hate most about Luthor, that he sweeps other people up in his madness and corrupts them. I still remember the one guy on the yacht, Stanford. He seemed like a decent enough person, but he never tried to help us because he was too afraid of Luthor. And Miss Katherine, still running for her life ten years later, looking over her shoulder because she defied Luthor. How many others could’ve paid their dues and straightened out their lives, but instead they’re spiraling further down because of him?
Thinking about that just makes me more determined to do my part. Heroes like Dad and the League exist to protect people and to show them a way out of the darkness people like Luthor spread everywhere they go. It’s time I took my place in that battle. Why else would I have these powers if not to use them? I was meant for this. There’s no good reason why Kryptonians and humans should be able to hybridize, but it happened, and the result is me and Kala. Of course we’re meant to carry on Dad’s legacy.
I just wish Kala was coming with me to Gotham this summer. She’s being cool about it, but I can’t help realizing that the kidnapping was the longest we’ve ever been apart. We’ve spent our whole lives together – sure, we’re only sixteen, but the point remains. I can’t even really imagine what it’ll be like not to see her every day. We’ve got our phones so we can call or text, and there’s always the computer with video chat, but I have no idea how I’ll cope with not being able to hug Kala and reassure myself she’s still there. And no matter how casual she’s being about it, I know she’s worried too. I can always tell; she might be fooling Mom and Dad, she might even be fooling herself, but I know the truth.
It doesn’t help that I’ll be missing Elise too. The funny thing about us getting back together is that everyone at school was completely unsurprised. I swear, five different people told us something along the lines of, “Oh, I knew you’d get back with her. You two are totally soul mates.” Elise finally lost her temper when one of her friends said it, and snapped back, “Well why didn’t anyone tell me? You could’ve saved all of us a lot of time!” I admit it, I laughed, and she smacked me in the shoulder for it.
I’m a lot more careful now about Elise. I don’t want to scare her off again, even if I know in my soul that she’s The One. I guess I understand how having someone pretty much start naming your kids together can be creepy, especially if you weren’t raised by the epic star-crossed romance of the century. But I don’t want to lose her again. She knows the whole truth, and she’s fascinated by it. I was always secretly afraid that she’d be scared once she knew. I mean, I’m half alien, and never mind that the alien half is from Superman. Elise is a self-confessed science geek, so she can’t escape the knowledge that half my DNA comes from another galaxy. Yet she isn’t afraid of me or my powers, and I know how precious that is. To have someone who knows you that completely is rare enough for the average person, but for me it seemed almost impossible. I sometimes joke that I’m lucky to have a girl who understands me on a molecular level, and Elise just laughs. She knows what I mean.
Now if only Kala could get her act together. She’s never been good with relationships, breaking up after a week or two, but I think this thing with Nick is courting disaster. I don’t trust him at all. He’s in college, what can he possibly want from a sixteen-year-old girl except the obvious? And supposedly he’s going to be just friends with her for as long as he has to, wait around until she’s ready to date? That sounds weird to me. But I didn’t get to vote in the parental council that decided whether or not she gets to hang out with him, or he wouldn’t be allowed within a hundred yards of her. At least they’re not dating; they’re not allowed to go off alone anywhere, since New Year’s Eve proved they’re not trustworthy without supervision.
Kala doesn’t need to be dating right now, anyway. She’s still seeing Dr. Marrin twice a week, giving him a carefully edited version of the truth. I’ve heard a lot of technical terms tossed around lately: Stockholm syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, the kind of stuff you really shouldn’t Google if it’s related to your twin sister.
She’s getting better every day, more confident and self-assured even than before, but I can see that she’s still fragile even if she hides it from everyone else. Kala’s nerves are still pretty sensitive, so I try to stick by her, just in case she needs me. The first day back at school one of her friends grabbed her arm from behind, and Kala almost decked the poor girl. Sometimes I worry that she’ll accidentally break out superpowers in an incident like that. Jor-El thinks she has it under enough control to be running around in public, but I worry about her. I always have, and always will. It’s part of being a big brother, I guess.
What definitely isn’t part of being a big brother is joining her on the stage. Yeah, I’m doing it anyway. Kala still wants to be a rock star, even after all of this, and tonight she gets a chance to perform with her favorite local band. She got them to agree to have Sebast perform with her. So she weaseled me into helping her in spite of myself. It’s not stage fright – I’ve done recitals, and I don’t have issues with playing in front of a crowd. I’m just gradually discovering that the piano is something I prefer to do alone. It’s like meditation or something, a place I can disappear into where stress can’t find me. I love music, and I’ll never stop playing; I just don’t have Kala’s need to perform in front of an audience.
The song she chose opens with a bit of piano, though, and the Flying Foxes don’t have a keyboardist. I’ve heard the lyrics and even though it’s not my kind of music, I see why she chose it. It’s haunting, and it seems to speak to our legacy. So I’ll play the opening on a borrowed keyboard for her, and I even wore all black so I don’t stand out as the only normal person this side of the stage.
I draw the line at the clothes. No matter how much I love my sister or how many other guys are doing it, I’m not wearing eyeliner in public.
For all of the plans we’ve made,
There isn’t a flag I’d wave,
Don’t care if we bend,
I’d sink us to swim
We’re marching on,
(We’re marching on)
(We’re marching on).
We’ll have the days we break,
And we’ll have the scars to prove it,
We’ll have the bonds that we save,
But we’ll have the heart not to lose it.
For all of the times we’ve stopped,
For all of the things I’m not.
Walking back into my pre-kidnapping life wasn’t easy, but I expected that. It’s not like taking off a coat and putting it back on again; it’s more like Gazeera shedding his skin. There’s no point trying to gather up the shreds and paste them back on, you have to grow a new skin from the inside out.
School rumors sucked, of course, but with Giselle gone and Elise, Sebast, and Jason all on my side, we could spin it however we wanted to. It helped that my friends finally met Nick, and he stopped being this shadowy figure lurking in everyone’s imagination. Poor guy’s been getting hell though, hanging out with a pack of high school brats like us. At least my crowd is pretty mature for our age.
I’ve been putting off meeting his friends, because I know they’re going to razz him when they find out I’m sixteen. Problems like that make me very glad that we didn’t go any further than necking on New Year’s Eve. I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for having been kidnapped and everything, but it did teach me a lot about myself: what I’m not ready for, and what I’m long overdue in doing.
I’m not really ready to go out and save the world; there’s too much chance I could screw it all up. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and I know that better than most people do now. Those few days in Nevada forced me to take a good long look at my own soul, and Superman’s daughter or not, I have a streak of darkness in me. Mom and Dr. Marrin both say that everyone has that, and he goes on to talk about Jungian archetypes and how confronting the shadow-self is an important part of self-acceptance. The point is, I came pretty close to killing that one guard just because he was in my way. I didn’t do it in the end, but I thought about it a little too much for my own comfort. So I need to wait a little longer, make sure my powers are absolutely under control, and learn more about the ethical side of things. The hero gig isn’t all swooping in to put out forest fires with a single breath or grabbing bank robbers off of boats. Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.
I’m lucky in that I have the same resources Dad had when he started this: Mom and Jor-El. Now that he’s speaking to me on matters relating to the cape – not that I gave him much choice – Jor-El is proving very knowledgeable and likes discussing theoretical problems at length. And of course Mom is extremely practical without ever compromising her principles, as well as being really good at playing Devil’s advocate.
You know, I reread my diary, and a lot of it is complaining. I can’t believe how much I bitched about Mom and her rules. Yeah, some of them are pretty lame, but they’re small stuff compared to what I just went through. I’ll happily comply with her “all shirts must have sleeves” rule for the next few years. And whenever we get too snappy, we both remember what it was like to almost lose each other. I’ve heard from everyone how distraught Mom was when I came up missing, and that was even before they realized I’d been kidnapped. As for me, I remember seeing Mom’s blood staining the locket. I’d have killed Luthor after that, shot him and walked away without a single regret. We may drive each other nuts, but she’s my mom, and I’ll defend her to the death: Luthor’s death. If he’s smart he’ll stay far, far away from us. Yeah, I have a shadow in my soul, a streak of ruthlessness that comes directly from Mom, and if I ever come face to face with Luthor again I might tell him he’s the reason I know it so well – I might even thank him. Posthumously.
I’m still a little jumpy, and I know it, thoughts like that creeping back at the most inopportune times. I almost punched Melissa the first day of school, but nobody knew yet that it was a bad idea to startle me. Jason and I decided not to tell the whole story, since we knew people would badger me for information. It’s getting better though. I have Jason and Sebast and Elise to rely on, and I was right about going back being the best idea. It’s hard to obsess about how you killed someone when your algebra teacher decides to show you a bit of pre-calculus, “just for fun”. Yeah, thanks a lot.
If there was ever a day when I knew, absolutely and completely, that things really were going to turn out okay, it was the day I walked back into Fuel and Brandon told me three different bands wanted to talk to me. And one of them was the Flying Foxes. I now know what it feels like to almost faint.
See, ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had these two dreams of what I wanted my life to be. The Lost Princess of Krypton is out of the question; that dream died when Zod showed me what it really was and I realized who I really am. The only Krypton I’ll ever know is the legacy Jason and I bear. But my other dream – Rock Star Kala – that’s sane and sensible by comparison. And all of a sudden it even looks achievable.
The Foxes actually wanted me to sing with them when they played Fuel next. I agreed on two conditions: I get to pick the first song, and Sebast sings with me. It’s my little way of proving I’ve forgiven him for doubting me. I had to wheedle for him; the Foxes have heard me sing, they know I have stage presence, but he’s an unknown quantity. Once they heard his voice, and even better, heard us in a duet, they were all for it. Sebast’s voice compliments mine really well, which he sometimes teases is the whole reason we’re friends. It’s actually more about the fact that no one else except Jason knows me as well as he does, and I can trust him absolutely. He knows it, too. Boyfriends come and go, but Kala and Sebast are best friends for life.
That’s why he’s here backstage with me, keeping me from going crazy with nerves. Just about everyone we know is packed into Fuel tonight. Even the family, as many of them could make it. And boy, are they gonna get a surprise. I don’t think anyone in the immediate family has really heard me sing in a while. Nick tells me I have a powerful voice, and I believe him after New Year’s Eve. No matter what happened afterward, I still made a club full of Goth kids dance to Britney Spears. That’s power, the kind I can safely use, the kind with no darkness to fear. This is my gift, the thing that’s mine alone, and when I sing I feel the most like myself.
It’s time. Jason’s getting ready to play the intro, and I can feel the butterflies in my stomach subsiding. I hope it’s always like this, I hope I never get bored, I hope I can do a thousand concerts and always be nervous right up until the moment I walk onstage.
We walk out, and the applause starts before the first note. My friends and fans are in the audience clapping just because I’m here. Wait ‘til I unleash my voice on them. Everyone I love the most is here to listen. I hope that Nana can hear me, I hope that she’s proud of me.
I am Ella Tremaine’s granddaughter. I am the child of Lois Lane. I am Jason’s twin and Kristin’s big sister. I am the child of two worlds, carrying the legacy of both. I thrive in sunlight even though I dress in midnight. And I am my father’s daughter, no matter what else I am. Nothing can change any of it, and I’d have it no other way.
I’m ready, my voice is warmed up. Jason plays the first few notes, a song everyone here knows, but only a few people are going to know how appropriate these lyrics are for me. The first verse is mine, the second is Sebast’s, and then the Foxes come in. I have to hold these first lines alone, my voice supported only by the keyboard, but I can do it.
I am a singer, I am a hero in the making, and I am gonna rock this stage tonight!
When I was a young girl,
My father took me into the city
To see a marching band
He said, “Girl, when you grow up, will you be the savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned?”
He said, “Will you defeat them, your demons, and all the non-believers, the plans that they have made?
Because one day, I’ll leave you, a phantom, to lead you in the summer, to join the black parade.”
When I was a young boy
My father took me into the city
To see a marching band
He said, “Son, when you grow up, will you be the savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned?”
Adrenaline roars through my veins as Sebast and I repeat the first two verses and I turn to grin at Dopey, both of us thinking the same thing. Sharing the same smile. For all the pain and glory, whatever the future brings to us, we are the heirs to the House of El. And there’s nothing else either of us would rather be.
We put one foot in front of the other,
We move like we ain’t got no other,
We go when we go,
We’re marching on.
There’s so many wars we fought,
There’s so many things we’re not,
But with what we have,
I promise you that,
We’re marching on,
(We’re marching on)
(We’re marching on).
Right, right, right, right left right,
Right, right, right, left, right,
We’re marching on.