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This story is No. 2 in the series "New World". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Daughter of Kandor. Son of Sunnydale. No home between them. Where do you go when you can't go home again? Caught between three worlds, Karen and Kara's journey continues...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Xander-Centered
DC Universe > Power Girl
WiseFR1815122,2503323071,91311 Oct 114 May 14Yes

Mercury Falling

Earth 616
Sanctum Sanctorum
New York, New York

“It’s been over a day since you brought me back! Where is she, Doctor?”

“I don’t know.”

“How come I think you do?”

Those words, so very similar to others spoken months before: Hawkeye, returned to life, asking after the location of the Scarlet Witch.

But this wasn’t chaos magic. Despite the lingering scent of chaos which clung to Karen and Kara both, refusing to fade no matter the time or distance from the event which had joined them together three months previous, this wasn’t that. This was something... older. Older than Order and Chaos. Older, perhaps, than magic. The portal had flared green at the end.

He looked upon Kara Zor-L, beheld the traces of chaos magic which clung to her. He understood all at once. Kara and Karen. They were connected still. They inhabited separate bodies, but each could still function as a sympathetic link to the other. A link he could use.

“I don’t know where she is, but with your help, I believe I can find her.”

Kara nodded. “Anything I can do,” she replied. “Just bring her back.”

This had gone on too long. He had other responsibilities. Too much time was being devoted to this. “Please be seated. This may take a few hours.”

It took six. Six hours of chanting. Of searching. Of focusing. Of trying very hard to ignore the twenty students from the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning chatting in the foyer. Why they ALL wanted to be here was beyond him. … Six exhausting hours, but it paid off in the end. The portal opened, and Karen returned. There was a... resistance. A difficulty locking on. But then, the light of the portal was fading, and Doctor Strange felt as though he had just run three back to back marathons.

Karen was home.

Kara smiled, rising to her feet and moving forward to welcome her fellow Kryptonian. “Welcome back,” she said. A beat passed, her smile faded, and she raised an eyebrow. “Are you wearing a dress?”

Destination Unknown
by P.H. Wise
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover fanfic

Chapter 2: Mercury Falling

Disclaimer: The DC Universe and its associated characters is the property of DC comics. The Marvel Universe and its associated characters is the property of Marvel Entertainment LLC. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon's baby. This chapter contains some dialogue from New X-Men #33 and #34. Marvel owns those, too.

“Are you wearing a dress?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Karen said as she and Kara walked out into the foyer. Immediately, Karen stopped short, staring at the sight of no less than twenty students from the Xavier Institute there to meet her. And it was true: Karen had arrived in a red plaid pattern halter dress. And fishnets. And makeup. And hair extensions that brought her hair down to her shoulders. And sneakers. And she looked gorgeous. And for all that the outfit was actually pretty comfortable, she felt like a fool wearing it.

“Hey Karen,” Cessily called.

“See?” one student whispered to another. “She does wear dresses, sometimes!”

“Woah,” another student whispered, “She really DID end up in that other body.”

“I’ve still got $20 on her being like a Skrull imposter or something,” whispered a fourth.

“We like your new look, Karen,” the Cuckoos said in unison.

“Thanks,” Karen replied. She met Irma’s gaze, then, and smiled. “Still not talking about it.”

Santo came walking in from another room. “Holy crap, guys,” he began, “Did you know there were Young Freaking Avengers running around?!" A pause. “Oh, hey Karen.”

“Rockslide,” Karen replied.

Cessily rolled her eyes. "Everyone knows that, Santo."

Then it occurred to Karen exactly what Santo had referenced, and she blinked. “Young Avengers? We have those in this world?"

“Everyone except Karen knows that, Santo,” Cessily revised.

"And you never told me?! This ‘Wiccan’ guy is in the other room waiting to see Doctor Strange! How do I not know about them until I run into a dude with a chick’s code name?! We should go beat them up! Like, for no other reason than that they're the Young Avengers, and we're the New X-Men! It'll be awesome! Who's their strong guy?"

“Hey, there are plenty of male Wiccans,” Laurie said.

“How would you know? You ever met any?”

Karen couldn’t help but laugh. It was good to be home. She exchanged glances with Kara, who gave a look that said, ‘go talk to your friends.’ “I’ll meet you back at the school,” Kara said. “I have a few things to do.”

“What’s it like?” Laurie asked as Kara walked out the front doors, shutting them carefully behind her.

Karen raised an eyebrow. “What’s what like?”

“Being in that new body,” Laurie said. “Kara told us what happened. The teachers said it was true, too. Is it weird?”

Karen shrugged. “It’s... weird. The same and different. And not just hair colour.” She gestured to her stomach. “I don’t have a belly button anymore.”

“Really?” Laurie asked.

Karen smiled. “No, not really. Honestly, it’s... mostly the same. It only bugs me when I actually think about it. Or look in a mirror.”

“So all that time, you were two people in the same body...” Cessily said. “That must have been...”

“Weird?” Karen asked with a lopsided smile.

The others laughed.

“Students,” a new voice called out, piercing the din of conversation. It was Wong. He was standing at the entrance to Doctor Strange’s study. “The master is weary. He is retiring for the evening. He asks that I relay his request that you each find your way home.”

Twenty one students glanced his way, exchanged looks, and began to file out the front, where their O*N*E escort of six armed guards were waiting. No one particularly liked that. Not the students, not the guards.

As they walked from Doctor Strange’s home to the Bleecker street subway station, Karen glanced at her friends. “So I never got a chance to ask,” she said, “Did anything happen while I was unconscious for six days?”

Noriko, Julian, David, Laurie, and Cessily exchanged ominous looks.

Karen frowned. “What? What does that mean?”

“Oh... not a whole lot,” Cessily said. Noriko nodded in agreement.

An awkward silence.

“... OK,” Laurie said, “Let’s see... Psylocke’s crazy brother came back and temporarily turned off all the Sentinels, and then he, Psylocke and Nightcrawler and a few others saved the world from the First Fallen.”

Karen’s eyes widened. “What, the Devil?”

“No idea,” Julian said. “They didn’t say.”

Laurie went on. “Professor Xavier left for Shi’ar space with Marvel Girl, Havoc, Darwin, and a few others...”

“The Professor was here?” Karen asked, her surprise obvious. “And I missed him?”

Cessily shrugged.

Laurie marked out a third finger. "Then Noriko’s team went to Denver to fight these HYDRA agents that wanted to kidnap Forge, and crashed one of the Blackbirds...”

“... Denver, HYDRA, Blackbirds, Forge...” Karen repeated.

Laurie marked out a fourth finger, “Then Apocalypse showed up and attacked the school trying to get us all to drink his blood, and turned Polaris into Pestilence and Gambit into Death..."

And now Karen was giving Laurie an incredulous look. "Are you just making things up?" she asked suspiciously.

David looked a little uncomfortable. “To be honest? The reason almost ALL the remaining students came to see you back?” A beat passed. “Most of them figured that Doctor Strange’s sanctum was probably less likely to get randomly attacked.”

Karen was at a loss for words. “I... see...” she managed.

Irma spoke up, then. She and her sisters had been walking a short ways behind the others. “Tell her about Northstar and Aurora setting fire to the school and almost killing Iceman,” she said.

“How do you people not all have ridiculous levels of PTSD?” Karen asked.

“Powerful telepaths,” Laurie replied matter-of-factly.

Karen’s left eye began to twitch.

They arrived at the station a few minutes later.

The students had already worked out a plan: those who could fly would fly. Those who could carry others would carry others. The rest took the subway from Bleecker street to the 125th street station, where they caught the Harlem rail line to Purdy’s. A bus from the school was waiting there to take them all home. Everyone pitched in to cover the cost. Well, everyone except Karen, who hadn’t brought any money with her, and wound up feeling a little bit like a tool for all that she was told it was fine.

“... the hell is that?” a voice asked from further back in the bus as it approached the gates to the Xavier Institute.

Karen turned to look. Stared.

“Is that what I think it is?” Santo asked.

“Depends,” Karen said, her tone somewhat dazed. “Do you think it’s a flying ocean liner? ‘Cause that’s what I think it is.”

“Looks more like a cargo ship to me,” David said.

“... Can we all take a moment away from arguing over what kind of flying ship it is that’s floating above the school and just deal with the fact that there’s a flying ship floating above the school?” Laurie asked.

“Definitely not the sort of thing you see every day,” Julian said. Then he smirked. “Unless you’re us.”

The bus went through the gates. Pulled up in front of the school. The students emerged under heavy guard. Too heavy. Though she knew they couldn’t hurt her, Karen became uncomfortably aware of the sheer number of guns pointed her way.

An X-Man was approaching. Guy with a body made of ice. Drake something.

Karen stared up at the flying ship.

“You like it?” Drake-ice-guy asked with a smirk. “We were thinking of getting a matched pair.”

“You people are sick,” came a voice from off to the left. The speaker, a middle-aged man in full uniform, came stalking up, accompanied by three more soldiers. “I don’t care what kind of telepathic leash you’ve got her on, you sent DIVINE out to New York city in the company of your students?! What part of ‘EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, to be kept in cryo-stasis until further notice’ did you not understand?!”

Karen blinked. Looked at the ice-guy, then at the officer. “I’m not...” she began. That was when it occurred to her that she could kill every single soldier on the grounds in the span of a few seconds if she wanted to. And then she gave a mental ‘what the hell was that?’ at the weird thought, pushing it aside. “I’m not Divine,” she said. Emma and Scott were approaching now. They’d emerged from the mansion only a few moments after the ice-guy. … Iceman, right. Irma had mentioned the name a minute ago, but Karen had been thinking of Top Gun when she said it, and... OK, yeah, that wasn’t really a good excuse, and she knew it, but thinking about that was better than dwelling on the sick sense of terror she felt at the thought of being held accountable for Divine’s crimes.

The soldier barked a laugh. “The hell you aren’t.”

“Major Greystone,” Emma said, “Ms. Cooper has been appraised of the situation. You have your orders. Be a good soldier and refrain from harassing my students.”

Greystone glared at Emma. “First you monsters murder the Sentry, now this? This is beyond the pale, Frost.”

“We did nothing of the kind,” Emma replied. “The Sentry attacked the school, caused extensive property damage, nearly caused a diplomatic incident by seriously injuring the King of Atlantis on American soil, killed a full thirteen of the so-called ‘198,’ killed at least twice as many of your soldiers, and then disintegrated for reasons unknown, possibly related to his madness.”

Greystone held Emma’s gaze a moment longer. “This isn’t over,” he said. Then he looked Karen’s way. “Not by a long shot.” With those words, he stormed off.

Kara was in the room when she got in. It was late afternoon, now. Kara was lying on the bed, reading a book. And that was when it occurred to Karen that she didn’t have her own room. “Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” Kara replied.

Karen went over to the sink in the bathroom.

“You want to talk about it?” Kara asked. She was standing at the door, now.

“No,” Karen replied, taking a long look at her reflection in the mirror.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Kara asked.

Karen didn’t reply.

“Being in Divine’s body. But you’re lucky. Your friends understand what happened. And hey, you have friends who understand that kind of thing.”

Karen said nothing.

“You experienced any flashes of her memories yet?” Kara asked.

Karen looked up. “Is that going to happen?” she asked, alarmed.

“It might,” Kara said. “Emma said that most of it’s gone, but you might get a little bit. A few flashes. She said that she’d prefer to let your subconscious deal with it naturally, but if you really can’t stand it, you should go and see her.”

Karen sighed. “... When we stepped into the portal, I got diverted to this other world,” she said all at once. “You guys all came back. I was stuck for a day in this … weird other place that combined this world with home.”

When Kara didn’t reply, Karen went on. “Their version of Buffy had a little sister. Pretty sure she’s the reason I wound up there.” She took a breath. “There was another me there, too.”

Kara raised an eyebrow. “What were you like?” she asked. A beat passed. “Was he like,” she corrected.

“Would you believe married to three gorgeous psychopathic nymphomaniacs?” Karen asked.

Kara gave Karen a dubious look. “No, seriously.”

“... He was OK, I guess. Male. Older. Like, mid-twenties. Had an eye-patch. The eye behind it was gone. He seemed happy, though.”

“How’d you end up like that?” Kara asked, gesturing to Karen's current attire.

Karen looked down at herself and grimaced. “Hell hath no fury like a shopper scorned,” she intoned gravely. “Long story short, they were girls with superpowers, I got mouth-molested by someone who wasn’t Cordelia, and they …” she trailed off, shrugged, stared at the girl in the mirror with the dark makeup and the hair extensions and the goth look for a long moment, regarding her as she would a stranger.

“Is that supposed to be me?” Karen asked. She looked to Kara. “The girls I met in that other world seemed to think I needed... I don't know. They took me out. Had me made over. Made a whole new me. … I get that I need clothes that fit me and everything, but I don’t really do makeup, I still get the crawling horrors at the idea of wearing a skirt, and I couldn’t act like a girl to save my life...”

Kara gave Karen a dubious look. “Act like a girl? When you were Xander, how much effort did you put into being male?”

Karen frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Did you find yourself worrying about whether or not you were being manly?”

“Only when Buffy totally broke the guy code, and...”

Kara interrupted. “But how much of your day did normally you spent worrying about whether you were acting male enough?” she asked.

“I... well, none.”

“Why not?” Kara asked.

“... because that would be silly?”

Kara nodded. “You don’t have to be anyone else’s idea of what a girl is. Be yourself. Your body will do what it’s going to do, and you need to take care of it, but beyond that... If you want to wear makeup, wear makeup. If you want to wear a dress and fishnets, wear a dress and fishnets. If not, then don’t.”

“But what about...?”

“What other people are going to think if you don’t act or present yourself like what they think a girl should be like? They’re not the ones who have to live your life. Only you can do that.”

Karen stared at the face in the mirror. At the differences. The highlights. The way it made her look darkly beautiful. The way it emphasized some features, concealed others. Then she took a washcloth, wet it in the sink, and began to wipe it all away.

"Bullshit,” Julian said. He and Santo were in a rec room, trying to set up a game of pool. Santo kept knocking the balls out of place when he tried to place them, and after a moment, Julian started waving his hands away every time he reached over to try to help. Cessily and Laurie were on the couch in front of the TV. Laura - X-23 - was over by the window, looking out at the outline of Sentinels against the westering sun.

Karen came walking in, feeling much better now that she’d scrubbed off the black makeup and changed into something more normal: same sneakers, but now a simple blue jeans and off-white blouse combo. With the extensions out, her hair was back to shortish and shaggy as hell, which was annoying, but she was dealing.

"I'm not kidding,” Santo said. “Look at this face." He gestured to his literally rocky, craggy face. "Does this look like the face of a guy that's kidding?"

“Hey,” Karen called.

“Hey Karen,” Cessily replied.
“Hey!” Laurie said.

"You're just saying this because you're still pissed that nobody told you there was a Young Avengers team,” Julian said. “I'm not falling for it."

"It's the truth!" Santo reached for the eight ball, scooped it up before Julian could get to it, and gingerly dropped it into the center of the ball-formation.

"Bullshit, Santo. There's no organization with the acronym, 'H.A.T.E.'."

Karen blinked. “... What are they talking about?”

"It stands for Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort!" Santo insisted.

“Santo’s still bitter,” Cessily replied. She looked over her shoulder. “Nice try, Santo,” she said.

Laurie giggled. "Next he'll be trying to convince us that the Duck Man of Cleveland is real."

Santo glared.

“... Anyone seen Irma?” Karen asked.

Cessily shrugged. “Nope,” Laurie said. Santo and Julian continued arguing.

Karen hmmed. “Laura, you seen Irma anywhere?” she asked.

“Cerebra,” Laura replied.

Karen blinked. “Ah. Thanks.”

Laura didn’t reply.

A group of soldiers stood at attention before a large holographic projector in the middle of a large warehouse. There were perhaps thirty of them, each in body armor, listening as their commanding officer briefed them on the threats they were likely to face.

“Next is Sooraya Qadir,” the officer said, and a hologram of Sooraya appeared above the projector. “This one transforms into sand, and can project herself with enough velocity to flay the skin off you. Concussion grenades and liquid are both effective against her. Again, these are the mutants the target is most likely to be with at any given time. Each of them is under constant O*N*E surveillance, and we’ve tapped into those systems for real-time tracking.”

He clicked a handheld remote, and the image changed again. “Santo Vaccaro, codename: Rockslide. Superhuman strength, nearly invulnerable skin density, and can use his appendages like projectiles, firing them with level five force. Go for the eyes and mouth.” Another click. The image of Power Girl in her old borrowed uniform. “And this one. Karen Starr, codename: Power Girl. Pay attention, lads. O*N*E classes the others as code red threats. This girl is code omega. O*N*E lacks a full accounting of her powers, but those confirmed so far include Superhuman strength, effectively invulnerable skin, flight, superhuman speed, and some kind of eye-lasers.”

“... Eye-lasers, sir?” One of the soldiers asked.

“You heard me,” the officer said. “This bitch is on the level of Thor or The Sentry. Rumor has it she killed the latter. If she’s with the target, do not engage under any circumstances.”

Another click. “And this is Divine. Real name unknown. Also code omega. Abilities apparently identical to Power Girl’s. The X-Men are supposed to be keeping her in cryo, but after the Sentry incident, she’s been recovering in their medical facility, and is apparently now loyal to the X-Men. We have reason to suspect she’s now under their telepathic control. I don’t think I need to remind you men of what happened in Stamford. Do not engage under any circumstances.”

He went through the remaining New X-Men, giving a brief description of each of their abilities, and then, “Once a window of opportunity presents itself, we take the target and get out. Neither the X-Men nor the O*N*E Sentinels are to be engaged, if at all possible. You’ve seen the files. I don’t need to remind you how dangerous these mutants can be.” He grinned. “Excessive force is highly recommended.”

Xavier Institute
Danger Room

It was all so different now that she had control of her own body again. Now that she wasn’t feeling constantly suffocated in her own skin. Now that she wasn’t helplessly watching another person puppet her limbs with no outside contact outside of what was facilitated by telepathy. That omnipresent sense of claustrophobic helplessness that had been Kara Zor-L’s entire world for the last three months had been lifting little by little for the last seven days. And she’d taken the time to get a few things done.

Beast frowned. "What you are suggesting, young lady, is absurd,” he said. “Light is light. Light from a red sun may have a smaller occurrence of high frequencies than light from a yellow sun, tending towards the infrared, but there is no possible mechanism by which you could draw power from yellow sunlight, and have this power temporarily disrupted by red."

Kara gave him a long-suffering look from where she floated in mid-air in the center of the danger room. "Please don’t argue with me, Hank, and don’t ask me to explain the science. I just need to duplicate the light of a red star."

Beast shook his head and began to adjust the danger room controls to modulate the frequencies of light being generated. “If this works, I shall eat my hat." He gestured to the black cap he wore with a large circled X blazoned in the center of it.

Kara waited.

“Program ready,” Beast announced, and then hit the switch to activate it. All at once, the danger room became Central Park, save only that instead of the yellow star which had burned in Earth’s skies since time immemorial, now burned there a great red sun.

The sensors began to ping, and he stared at them incredulously as Kara’s powers slowly began to wane. She began to drift down towards the ground. It took about a minute before she could no longer hover.

Beast looked at Kara, looked at his readings, took off his hat, took a large bite, chewed, swallowed.

“I know it doesn’t need to be said just how much I’m trusting you by giving you this knowledge,” Kara said, “But I’m saying it anyways. If Karen and I are going to be working with the X-Men even short term, you need *something* that you can use against us if we end up compromised. What happened with Divine can’t ever happen again.”

"Mphhmphmpehmpmhpph,” Beast replied.

Kara gave Beast a look.

Beast finished chewing, swallowed the last bit of his hat, and then nodded. “I understand,” he said gravely. “Believe me when I say, I will not betray your trust.”

Kara nodded.

A beat passed. “... Have you considered the offer from the Avengers?” Beast asked.

“You heard about that?” Kara asked.

Beast smiled, and it looked strange on his leonine face. “The X-Men are nothing if not incorrigible gossips.”

Kara grinned. “I know how that can be. Did I ever tell you about my team back home?”

“I don’t believe you did.”

“Justice Society of America,” Kara said. “The Flash. Green Lantern. Wildcat. Mr. Terrific. Doctor Fate. Doctor Mid-Nite, Stargirl, Lightning. Good people. I’m the chairperson at the moment.” She frowned. “Or I was, before this.”

“You must know that Reed Richards and Tony Stark both are seeking a way to return you to your home,” Beast said. “You will see your friends again.”

Kara nodded. “I know I will. I’m just worried about what happens to Karen when that happens. … and I don’t exactly approve of them making me joining their team as reserve member a condition of their lobbying to have the charges against her dropped.” She made a face. “Justice shouldn’t be about political deals.”

“Such is the world we live in,” Beast said, not without regret.

“It doesn’t have to be,” Kara replied, and there was conviction in her voice. She wasn’t talking about going home to her own universe.

Beast nodded. “It doesn’t have to be,” he conceded. “The arc of the moral universe is long,” he quoted, ”But it bends towards justice. And sometimes it needs a little help along the way.” A beat passed, and Beast changed the subject. “If she chooses not to accompany you,” he said, “She’ll manage. Whatever else she may be, she is among friends here.”

Kara smiled. “Thanks.” She glanced up at the clock, then to Beast. “Better get going,” she said. “Kitty, Peter and I were going to catch this new slasher movie I heard about.”

Beast blinked. “Slasher movie?”

Kara nodded. “It’s called Hostel. It’s supposed to be pretty bloody. Not one of those watered down teen audience ones.”

“...Ah,” Beast said, not entirely sure how to react. Peter and Kitty had never shown any interest in slasher films as far as he knew. He wondered, did they know what they were in for? He turned to ask the question aloud.

Kara was gone.

One of the annoying things about super-hearing was having to pretend you couldn’t hear everything said by anyone nearby. Karen had gotten pretty good at it over the last few months. She walked along the corridor that led to the Cerebra chamber, pretending away that she hadn’t heard Cessily’s discovery of Laura’s crush on Julian, pretending she couldn’t hear Kitty and Peter’s makeout session, pretending she couldn’t hear the sound of construction going on in the cargo ship floating above the mansion, pretending a lot of things.

The door opened as she approached it. Irma, Phoebe, and Celeste were within, each wearing one of the specialized helmets that helped to connect a telepath to the Cerebra system.

Karen walked into the chamber and stood behind the girls, watching the display for a few moments. It was showing... points of light scattered across the globe. Some in large clusters. Some in small clusters. Some isolated. Karen counted two hundred and fifty six thousand three hundred and one blips on the display, and it still kind of made her giggle that she could determine that in less than a second.

“Hello, Karen,” Irma said, turning to look over her shoulder. She made a disappointed noise. “You changed,” she said.

“Yeah,” Karen said. “Dress, fishnets, makeup? Not really me.”

“We liked it,” all three girls said in unison.

Irma winked. “It made you look hot.”

“What’re you looking at?” Karen asked.

“Mutants,” Celeste said. “All of them,” Phoebe said.

Karen looked at the display of the planet Earth, at the scattering of lights. “Why?”

“We wanted to see if there had been any new mutant births, any new mutant awakenings since M-Day,” Irma said.

“Have there?”

“No,” the girls said in unison. "Nine in ten mutants lost their powers," Celeste said. "And no new mutants since then," Phoebe finished.

“Oh.” A pause. “When was M-Day, anyways? I keep hearing about it, but nobody’s ever said...”

“June 30th,” Irma said.

Karen blinked at that. June 30th. It had been October 31st in her universe when she left, but she was pretty sure that the date here when she arrived had been June 30th... huh.

“You’re not going to throw away the dress, are you?” Irma asked.

Karen blinked. “I was thinking about it,” she said.

Irma made a disappointed sound, looking Karen’s way once more. “You should keep it. I liked it on you.”

Karen blushed. “I... er...” Brain in danger of shut down. And not because of telepathic influence. "I'm not comfortable wearing something like that," she managed.

Irma nodded. "I figured."

Karen blinked. "... You were messing with me." she said.

"Little bit. Though it DID look good on you."

Karen tried to screw up her courage. She’d wanted to ask Irma out for a long time now, but she hadn’t... first there was going home, then six days unconscious, then actually going home but to say goodbye, then...

Her courage failed her. “Hey, I’ll see you around,” she said.

Irma looked disappointed, but nodded.

Karen turned to go. She stopped at the doorway. Turned around. “Do you want to go out with me?” she blurted out. “I, er, as... you know, two people, and going to a... food...” she trailed off, blushing heavily, thinking to herself, ‘smooth, Karen. Real smooth.’

Irma laughed. “When?” she asked.

“Tomorrow? Dinner in town? Maybe go to … whatever the local equivalent of the Bronze is?”

“Sure. Will you wear that dress?”

“... uh,” she said.

"Kidding," Irma lied.

The other two Cuckoos gave Irma and Karen disapproving looks, but Karen didn't notice. She felt as though her heart were carrying her whole body up into the air. She smiled like a fool. Whatever else was going on, things were definitely looking up.

That was when the sound of an explosion reached her Kryptonian ears, followed by the sounds of gunfire, and of Cessily’s distant screams.

End Chapter 02

Author’s note:
I know that the official date for M-Day is November 2. That made no sense to me, given that the Civil War event is described as having taken place ‘over the summer.’ Which would mean that either M-Day happened *after* the Civil War, or there was almost a year between M-Day and the Civil War, which the comics portrayed as taking place while the X-Men were more or less still dealing with the aftermath of the Decimation. So I changed the date.
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