Lewis Walsh was young and ambitious. He had worked his way up the ladder in Metropolis through the gossip circuit going from intern to full time reporter in under a year. He had a good nose for dirt and quick hands with a camera. It was skills that had gotten him a good reputation in his first weeks at Catco on the local news scene. He had some great pictures of Supergirl. But he soon learned that was exactly the problem.
He stood in the design meeting watching the senior photographers push aside pictures focusing on the most ordinary of shots. He had raced in that morning with good shots, ground breaking ones, pictures of Supergirl holding Lena Luthor gently in her arms and smiling at her affection clear on her face and Lena Luthor smiling back.
He’d been excited sure he had something but when he’d shown them to the senior photographer. But his boss had skipped right over those shots and focused on the action ones he had complimenting them and ignoring the ones of the pair. Finally Lewis couldn’t take it any longer as he watched them push aside another photographer’s pictures of the pair kneeling on the ground together. Granted it was slightly blurred but their faces were clear.
“Why don’t we run a story about their romantic relationship?” he asked indicating the picture.
The room fell silent as everyone turned to look at him. He could feel their tension as several of the junior reporters looked away from him to the senior staff. The seniors all exchanged a look and a sigh.
“Uh, Lewis,” one of the senior photographers started softly. “We don’t run stories about Supergirl’s private life. Not in National City.”
“But a Super and a Luthor, that’s a big story. That’s-”
“Private,” the design head said firmly. “We don’t report her private life.”
Lewis looked around the room confused but dropped it. He knew how to spot a lost cause when he found one. But it nagged at him. When he got back to his desk he looked into the archives. Every photo taken with a Catco camera was logged and tagged by the interns. It was part of them learning to recognise important figures, he’d done the job himself at the Daily Planet when he first joined. He begun searching the archive for Supergirl and Lena Luthor, and he found them. Hundreds of photos showing the two smiling at each other, touching each other’s shoulders, Supergirl carrying Luthor away from danger. The affection between them was clear.
He went right to the start flicking through pictures watching them go from flirty to affectionate to cold to angry then to something soft and familiar. The more he saw the more he was convinced. The closer to the present he got he noticed the shots got more sparse as though photographers realising what they might be capturing stopped. He couldn’t understand it. This was the biggest story of the decade. A Super and a Luthor together.
He sat there for a moment trying to work it out. He looked around and spotted Nia Nal. He’d worked with her several times and knew she was at least familiar with the superhero.
She turned with a smile.
“What’s the deal with Supergirl and Lena Luthor?”
Nia’s smile faltered as she looked at him for a long minute. Her eyes flicked to the closed office door of their editor Kara then back to his computer and the open archive.
“How can it be-”
“Just…” Nia sighed turning to face him properly. “Look I know you’re from Metropolis and things are different there, you all speculate about Superman and Lois Lane-Kent and well pretty much any woman Superman spends more than two minutes with. But in National City we… we respect that Supergirl has her own life. Everyone’s got family. We don’t run theories about who she really is or who she’s sleeping with. Think of it like a house rule. You understand? She’s a symbol of hope and we don’t try to find another angle to it. No one calls her perfect but she is our hero.”
Nia nodded as though reassuring herself and stopped seeing his face.
“What about Luthor her family has-”
“Look,” Nia sighed cutting him off. “I’m not saying you’re imagining it, everyone with eyes can see there’s chemistry between the two of them. We’re not blind. But we also don’t poke at it. It took us a few years but we’ve reached a… an understanding about Lena Luthor. We leave her alone. We stick purely to her professional accomplishments. Same with Supergirl.”
“She’s been here for ten years and you never talk about her private life? The woman is a billionaire tech genius running a fortune 500 company.”
“We did in the first few years but not now.”
“Does she pay like hush money or something?” Lewis asked frowning.
“No. We just respect her privacy. Look Lewis I know this is all really new for you still and you started in gossip. You think this is some big story but for the rest of us no, no it’s not. We leave the Luthors alone.”
“There’s more than one?” he asked excited by the slip.
Nia sighed heavily.
“Lewis, no. Just listen to me. It’s a bad idea to try and dig any further into this. You will get a brick wall from every paper and tabloid in this city. If you keep pushing you will lose your job and find it very hard to get another one anywhere in the country. Lena Luthor and Supergirl are friends, nothing more. Lena has a private life that we do not dig into. If you want to write about Supergirl or Lena then you stick to their public actions.”
“Mr Walsh,” a soft voice said from behind him.
Lewis turned to see the editor watching him. He found Ms Danvers to be strangely terrifying. She seemed to be a genuinely sweet and kind woman and at first he thought she was a pushover. That was until he’d seen her in a meeting where she took command with a terrifying efficiency. The impression was somewhat undercut when she looked at her phone and excused herself leaving Nia to take over. No one had questioned it though.
He could understand why, she was certainly an amazing reporter having a Pulitzer and done major stories on Supergirl, Lex Luthor, Maxwell Lord, and Morgan Edge. Her stories had broken up entire criminal gangs and conspiracies in everything from local politics to international arms smuggling. The few times Lewis had interacted with her he’d been nervous despite her friendliness. He supposed it must be the way she moved. So sure, so strong, as though nothing could stop her without her permission. People moved out of her way wherever she went. Maybe because she was so clumsy. The woman despite her confidence seemed to drop something daily.
“I know you’re new and things are different here from what you’re used to and that takes some adjustment. But please understand us when we say that the private life of Supergirl and Lena Luthor are off limits. Lena is a CEO, and we treat her the same as we do any other CEO in this city. If she decides to say something publicly that is newsworthy we report on it, otherwise we leave her be.”
“But she’s a Luthor and they’re-”
Kara held up a hand with a smile.
“And I’m a Danvers. Her last name is of no importance to us. We treat everyone the same here and judge them on their own actions.”
“What if her action is she’s secretly dating Supergirl?” Lewis asked quickly.
Kara’s smile and Nia’s laugh made his cheeks burn as he saw the amusement there.
“Trust me, she’s not dating Supergirl,” Kara said smiling.
“How can you be so sure?” he asked.
Nia laughed harder and he saw Kara’s lips twitch as she tried not to laugh as well.
“Because she’s my best friend, has been for nearly ten years. If she was dating Supergirl believe me I’d know.”
She gave him one more amused smile before she turned to Nia.
“I’ve already told Sienna but I’m just letting you know I’m heading off early today. If anything comes up I’ll have my phone.” Nia nodded and Kara turned back to him. “You’ll work it out Lewis, just think about it for a few minutes.”
Lewis nodded but a part of him still burned to find out more. He was a journalist and a damn good one. He would get to the bottom of this conspiracy because it was clearly a conspiracy. He could smell it.
That afternoon he finished at Catco and got his camera deciding to do something about it. He decided to follow Ms Luthor when she left work that afternoon. He was surprised to find out how easy it was. The woman left L Corp at five thirty with a bag over each shoulder getting into her waiting car. She had a driver but other than that she didn’t seem to have any personal security. At least none he could see.
He kept his distance following the car. He’d learnt to tail people from some of the best in Metropolis during his time with the tabloids. The car stopped in a quiet neighborhood on a tree lined street. He carefully didn’t turn his head as he saw Ms Luthor get out of her car and approach the gate of a property with very high walls and a sophisticated lock.
It took him twenty minutes to circle back to the other side. Using satellite maps he found a way around the back and then found a convenient tree to climb. He knew it wasn’t strictly legal but he had to know. He had to find the truth. Glancing around to make sure no one could see him he made his way up the tree and then crawled out on a limb overlooking the high wall holding his camera so he could look through it into the garden below.
What he saw when he finally got the camera focused surprised him. Children. A pair of twin girls about five years old with light brown hair wearing bright coloured dresses chasing each other around the garden in what looked like a game of tag. For a moment he was confused but then a story started to form in his head. Well that would explain Nia’s slip. He smiled and looked around with his camera searching for Luthor. The back of the house was all glass with a perfect view into the very modern looking kitchen and living room.
He focused the camera seeing Luthor cutting something in the kitchen while looking at a tablet of some kind. She looked out into the garden and then seemed to sigh looking at her watch before picking up a platter and the tablet heading out into the garden.
Lewis watched her call out something as he refocused the camera. The two girls broke away from their game to run over to her as she set the platter of fruit on a table. He smiled despite himself watching the domestic scene. He took a few pictures checking they were in focus. Looking at the pictures he was sure of the familial resemblance. Lena Luthor had two secret children. This was big.
He kept watching as the girls ate Luthor smiling and talking with them while occasionally looking at the tablet she carried with her. The girls ate a ridiculous amount. A whole platter of fruit vanishing in the space of minutes. He took a few more pictures. Then Ms Luthor made a call while the girls returned to their game.
He waited. He’d learnt to be patient, and ten minutes later his patience was rewarded when Supergirl suddenly landed in the backyard. He immediately begun taking picture after picture then he froze wondering if Supergirl was aware of him in the tree. The shutter sound was quiet but still he wondered. Luckily she didn’t seem to notice bending down as the girls raced into her arms. Jumping into her arms. He frowned. Did that… Did those girls just fly into her arms?
His eyes widened and he took more photos as Luthor walked over greeting Supergirl with a kiss. He captured it all the girls, the smiles the familiarity with which Supergirl leaned forwards kissing Luthor. It wasn’t a friendly peck this was a proper right on the mouth no questions they’re together kiss.
He knew he should leave then. He had the proof he needed but something kept him in his place as the girls were put back down by Supergirl and the family —because that’s what they were— spent time together in the garden. Supergirl chasing the girls —girls who ran far too fast to be just human- and covering her eyes to play hide and seek. Luthor answered her phone moving away smiling.
He found himself fumbling to focus his camera again as Supergirl wrapped her arms around Luthor from behind pulling her close and kissing her neck. Luthor finished her call then turned in Supergirl’s arm giving her a kiss. This time deeper. The children must have said something because the couple broke apart turning to address them. Supergirl stuck out her tongue at the girls before she swept Luthor into her arms carrying her behind a hedge. Then Supergirl was kissing Luthor.
He nearly fell out of the tree in his excitement zooming in to make sure he got the money shot of Luthor’s hand on Supergirl’s butt and the way her head fell back as Supergirl kissed a path down her neck. He captured the way Luthor bit her lip as Supergirl’s head moved lower he face disappearing into Luthor’s cleavage, then the smile she had when Supergirl moved back holding her close. The girls ran around the corner and Supergirl started chasing them again as Luthor watched. She returned to her tablet looking at it then she looked up frowning in his direction.
Lewis quickly made his way back down the tree racing for his bike and secured the camera in it’s case. He rode off before Luthor could call Supergirl.
He sped home anxiously listening out for any sign of Supergirl. At every chance he spun his head around trying to see her following him. Back at his building he grabbed the camera case and raced upstairs to his apartment then ran around fumbling for his laptop. Everything located he opened the camera case and found his camera missing. He felt panic rise inside him as he saw what his camera had been replaced with.
A silver L Corp business card. He took it out with a shaking hand.
Lena Luthor CEO of L Corp
On the back was a handwritten note. Tomorrow 12 noon. He knew it was a summons. He dared not disobey as he looked around with shaking hands. He had made a mistake. He should have left with the first pictures. He should have left the moment he got the picture of Supergirl kissing her. He had been greedy. He had gotten too cocky, confident he was hidden from the demigod in the tree. He wold go, he would apologise he would promise never to do it again. Then he would leave and set a camera. He would do it remotely. The pictures might not be as good but he would get them eventually.
He arrived at work the next morning with a large coffee and shaking hands. He had barely slept waking constantly throughout the night convinced someone was sneaking in.
Nia frowned when she saw him.
“You okay?” she asked.
“I- I think I’m coming down with something,” he lied.
“Uh…” Nia leaned away from him. “Maybe go home then.”
“I don’t want to be seen to be neglecting my work I’m really excited to be here,” he said quickly.
Nia quickly shook her head motioning him not to come any closer.
“Nah man, it’s cool. I’ll tell the team you’re sick. You go home and… rest.”
He gave her a grateful smile and left. He went home and paced unable to sit still and he worried about what was to come. At eleven thirty he headed to L Corp arriving with ten minutes to spare. He approached the main reception desk the business card in his hand. He wondered then if this was a trap. Lewis glanced nervously at the security staff nearby and felt his anxiety increase.
“Uh hi, I- I have an appointment with Miss Luthor at twelve.”
He held out the card with a shaking hand. The receptionist smiled at him as she took the card.
“Ah yes, here you are. I’ll have Gregory show you through. No need to worry, she’s very nice.”
The receptionist gave him a warm smile and he tried to return it as best he could as the giant muscled security guy appeared guiding him to the security checkpoint where he was walked through a metal detector then scanned with some kind of wand. Once he was given the all clear he was then shown to the elevators. Gregory swiped a card and rode the elevator up with him. Lewis was sweating profusely now. Gregory smiled at him. The man had a lot of very white teeth. Lewis briefly wondered at the dental care L Corp offered.
“First time meeting the boss?” he asked.
“Uh yes,” Lewis said quickly.
Gregory chuckled as the elevator reached it’s floor and they stepped out.
“Don’t worry she’s actually very nice.”
Gregory nodded to a second security guard by a set of doors and stepped back. Stepping through the doors to the executive level was a strange experience. It was beautifully decorated with art on the walls and a comfortable looking set of couches. A hallway curved to one side and a woman sat alone at a desk in front of a landscape. Everything was designed to look expensive and put him at ease. All it did was amplify his discomfort.
The woman by the desk looked up.
“Mr Walsh, please take a seat Ms Luthor will see you shortly.”
She gave him a smile as Lewis moved to the couches and took a seat waiting. He sat there for six minutes sweating as he pretended to read his emails. Finally the woman rose and with a wave of her hand led him around a wall and opened one half of the double doors.
He walked into the office and found himself surprised. There was a lot of white and steel as expected but there was also bright splashes of orange and red scattered around making the space seem almost warm and inviting. The desk Ms Luthor sat at was a rich mahogany and looked like it weighed a ton. He had a feeling a bomb could go off underneath it and that desk would barely jump. He supposed that may be the point.
A series of screens seemed to be set up on one end with the woman herself behind them. At the other end stacks of papers were neatly piled waiting to be looked over. Sitting atop the papers was a camera. His camera.
He took a shaky breath walking in and taking the only seat opposite Ms Luthor. He couldn’t help noticing the four foot gap between his chair and her desk. She turned away from the screens to smile at him. It was a very nice smile. Lewis was not fooled.
“Good day Mr Walsh,” she said.
That smile was not really a nice smile. It was the smile of a predator. It was the smile of someone who knew they had their prey cornered and was going to take their time killing it. Lewis forced himself not to look away.
“It seems you had an interesting afternoon yesterday. You certainly took a lot of photos.”
She turned one of the screens around to show the pictures he’d taken.
“These ones are my favourites,” she continued.
She brought up two pictures on the screen; one of the two girls smiling at her, and one of Supergirl holding the girls while she kissed Supergirl.
“Oh and of course this one,” she added pulling up a third one.
This one was of her in Supergirl’s arms her head thrown back biting her lip as Supergirl kissed her neck. He gulped as she turned back to him with a smile.
“My wife loved that one.”
He stared at her silent. He hadn’t missed the very deliberate wording there. The door opened and he twisted around to see a familiar figure enter.
“Ms Danvers,” he said confused.
She smiled at him a bag of takeout in her hand and her phone in the other.
She put the food down on the coffee table and walked around the desk greeting Ms Luthor with a kiss. Lewis felt his stomach drop as connections begun to form.
“Hello darling. How has your day been?” Kara asked.
“It’s much improved since you arrived. I was just about to discuss with Mr Walsh here the legal definition of trespass.”
Lewis knew he was on shaky ground there. He’d technically been on public property with the tree until he went out on the branch. That was probably a bit of a gray area. He might get away with it normally but he had a feeling not this time. Not when his boss was sitting on the desk of the woman whose property he had trespassed upon.
“You were warned Lewis. By the senior photographer, Nia Nal, and myself, and yet you thought you still needed to investigate.”
He recognised that tone, a lecture was coming.
“So Lewis, since you are so convinced that this is a story that must be told, do share with us what you think happens if those pictures you took are published.”
“People learn the truth,” he said quickly. “They learn that you two are in a relationship and that a Luthor and a Super have children. Children who can fly.”
He expected some kind of denial, some kind of threat. But neither came. Instead Kara smiled at him and nodded.
“You are correct. That’s exactly what would happen,” Luthor said. “The whole world discovers that Lena Luthor and Kara Danvers, alias Supergirl, have two five year old daughters with superpowers. It quickly becomes the biggest story of the decade and you make a lot of money. Then what do you think happens?”
Lewis hesitated. He hadn’t really thought after that. Well, beyond his paycheck and the notoriety for breaking the biggest story of the decade. Maybe he went after Superman next, found out who he really was.
“I’ll tell you what happens,” Kara said. “There’s a sudden flurry of interest and then Lena suddenly becomes more of a target than she already is. Everyone with a grudge against Supergirl suddenly decides to attack her, so she has to go into hiding. Along with all my friends and many of my close colleagues. Even if you only say Supergirl in the article it’s not hard for people to make the connection from Lena Luthor and Supergirl to Lena Luthor and Kara Danvers. I have to quit my job and go into hiding as well, probably stop being Supergirl for a while.”
Kara sighed picking up the camera.
“As for our daughters, well they’re potential super weapons. Two near invulnerable genius children with the potential to level armies. Every government around the world, including our own, develops a sudden interest in them. If we’re lucky they are able to go into hiding with us and spend the rest of their life in hiding paranoid they’ll be attacked at any moment. At least until they’re adults and able to defend themselves. But even then they will have scars from the experience. If we’re unlucky then they are kidnapped, probably tortured and brainwashed until myself and Superman rescue them, and if we’re very unlucky one day I have to fight my daughters. At which time they’ll likely kill me because I’ll hesitate to hurt them.”
Lewis was quiet. That had never occurred to him.
“I never thought of that,” he whispered.
“I know. Fortunately the rest of National City’s media already worked that out after the death of James Olsen. This is why no one reports on Supergirl’s private life anymore. When we do innocent people die.”
Kara handed the camera back to him.
“Now you know the truth.”
He held the camera awkwardly. It seemed heavier now.
“I hope you do the right thing with it,” Kara said with a final sad smile.
Lewis nodded. He rose slowly and left gripping the camera tightly. He went home and checked the camera. All the photos were gone. He sighed putting it aside.
He looked into the death of James Olsen. He had been killed by a rogue alien after a tabloid published a piece suggesting he was dating Supergirl. The story had shown her hugging him after an attack on Catco. Supergirl had eventually caught the alien but Olsen had still died of his injuries.
Lewis went about his life. As the days passed he found himself nervous around his boss. She was still smiling and bright but the knowledge she could snap him like a twig unnerved him. The smile her wife had given him came to him sometimes in his dreams. That woman would kill him, he knew it without a doubt.
He found himself watching his colleagues wondering how many knew, and how many had been threatened into silence. What would she have done if her didn’t agree to stay quiet? Luthor had said something about trespass but still he wasn’t sure. He thought about those girls, gifted with godlike power on this planet living a life of luxury. They had every possible advantage and two very protective parents. Would they really be taken?
He kept working writing stories and scrounging to get ahead as he raced his colleagues for stories about fires, robberies, and local politicians embezzling campaign funds. Small stories. And every day he would look up and see the biggest story of the decade wandering around in a pastel coloured shirt and blazer. It bugged him and he couldn’t explain why.
He made it to the scene of another Supergirl event. Luthor had been passing and stopped to watch. He had his camera on Supergirl as she landed the rogue alien in one hand and captured the moment she looked up smiling at her wife. He quickly lowered his camera even though Luthor wasn’t in the shot. Because of this he missed the moment the alien punched Supergirl back. He silently cursed his hesitation for costing him the shot. He went home furious.
It was this feeling he blamed five weeks later when he saw the tiny ad on his social media.
Will pay for information about Supergirl.
He clicked it out of curiosity. Then he looked away. He wasn’t a fool. Then he saw the money. He looked around. He started typing half expecting Supergirl to appear and beat him up. But she didn’t. He went to work the next day and nothing happened.
Two days later he sat by a fountain in the park waiting for a meeting. A red haired woman sat beside him with a smile.
“Looks like rain, I hope Supergirl doesn’t mind,” she said.
He nodded and smiled weakly. She held out her hand and he held up his.
“My money first.”
“Check your balance,” she said with a smile.
He looked down at his phone bringing up the app. He blinked as he saw the balance on his account. He handed over the USB without looking up. The woman walked away.
Lewis walked back home in a daze. He had a million dollars. It was… he was rich. He could-
He didn’t see the man waiting in his apartment. He didn’t realise until too late that he’d made a very stupid mistake. Then he didn’t remember at all as his memories of Supergirl, Lena Luthor, and their family were erased along with the last five weeks of his life.
He’d been given his chance, and he wasted it. His things were returned to him from Catco with a letter of termination citing poor attendance. He couldn’t argue because he couldn’t remember what he’d been doing instead. He found it hard to find work after that. Eventually he went back to the tabloids in Metropolis. He went back to celebrity gossip, it was what he was best at even if the work sometimes sucked. It paid well, well it paid okay.
He ran into Ms Luthor once. She was at a Gala fundraiser with Ms Danvers as her plus one. He took a picture of the two of them from a distance. No way they were just friends not when they smiled at each other like that. He took the images back wrote up his story and submitted it. His boss rejected it.
“Listen Walsh, every young cub gossip reporter sees something between those two. Believe me there’s nothing. We dug deep and found nothing. We even ran it once just to try. The we got hit with a giant fucking lawsuit. Trust me, Luthor ain’t worth the hassle.”
Lewis felt a twinge of annoyance but he dropped it. Ever since he left Catco he found work hard to find and he wasn’t about to rock the boat at one of the few places that would hire him.