Monday, November 02, 2009

Who You Are

Sullivan Kent, JLA
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Summary: Sully is summoned to the JLA headquarters.

Then from on high, somewhere in the distance
There's a voice that calls: remember who you are
If you lose yourself, your courage soon will follow
So be strong tonight... remember who you are

-"Sound the Bugle," Bryan Adams

Sullivan Kent's heart was pounding like a bass drum, but he squared his shoulders and strode into the JLA's headquarters on the moon anyway. He had little choice in the matter.

When the world's greatest superheroes summoned you, you came.

The JLA had been helping him with the crime wave in Metropolis for the past two months now. He'd worked hard to apprehend criminals, and so had they, and slowly, his city was beginning to settle down. After his father's death, it had gone all to pieces with surprising rapidity. But now the crime rate was almost as low as it had been when the original Superman had patrolled the city.

He knew that the improvement was due in great measure to the JLA's efforts. He'd tried hard, but he was uncomfortably aware that he was only a kid in a costume.

He put one foot in front of the other, focusing on the long walk through the enormous structure. No one had come to let him in. The airlock door had slid open, and he'd simply walked in.

Now he walked down the endless corridors, instead of superspeeding, walking slowly and deliberately, like a man heading to his doom.

The problem was that he didn't know why he was here. It made him nervous to not understand what was going on, or why they'd called him here. Being summoned by authority figures had almost always meant bad news in his life. Being called up on the carpet by the principal, being pulled over by a cop just because he'd been driving thirty miles an hour over the limit, being forced to listen to one of his parents' interminable lectures...

Well, authority figures and Sully Kent just didn't get along.

He paused in front of an enormous set of double doors. He swallowed, then lifted his chin and pulled the door open.

It was a vast chamber, and at the end of it stood the current JLA members. All of them. Living legends such as Batman and Wonder Woman and Hawkman, as well as slightly less well-known figures such as Nightwing and Plastic Man. He picked others out of the crowd-- Martian Manhunter and Black Canary and the Angel of Vengeance, Aquaman and Cyborg. He didn't see his girlfriend Barri Allen, a.k.a. Impulse, but he hadn't expected to, since she wasn't a member of the JLA. He did see her father, the Flash. They were all costumed, as he was, and taken all together, their vivid costumes were practically blinding.

All their eyes were fixed on him, staring unblinkingly at him. He felt the ridiculous, childish urge to turn and flee from this-- whatever this was. But he lifted his head, trying to emulate his father's proud bearing, and marched steadily down the long aisle.

At the front of the chamber, he halted in front of them. They were all seated on a dais above him, studying him, and he had the sudden disturbing impression that he was on trial.

What have I done wrong? he thought frantically. He racked his brains, trying to think of something he might have done to raise the JLA's ire recently, but couldn't. He was no saint, of course, but since he'd put on his father's costume, he'd done his best to be worthy of it.

He knew he wasn't worthy, but he didn't think he'd done anything egregiously awful, either.

There was a long silence. At last Batman rose to his feet.

"Superman 2," he said. Behind the cowl his eyes were barely visible, cold and gray. His mouth was set in a thin slash, and his face unmoving, as if his features were carved out of granite.

Sully lifted his head and stared up at him. "I am here," he answered. "As you requested."

"You stand before the Justice League," Batman intoned, "accused of wearing a costume that does not belong to you, and of using a name that does not belong to you. How do you plead?"

Sully blinked, bewildered. They'd known he was wearing his dad's costume months ago, when they'd agreed to help him save Metropolis. Why exactly were they calling him on it now?

It occurred to him that maybe they'd been waiting till he helped get Metropolis under control. Maybe they'd used him. And now that things were settling down in Metropolis, they wanted to get rid of him, maybe hand it over to another, more experienced superhero.

Fury, white hot and incandescent, flared inside of him. Metropolis was his, damn it. And he wasn't going to let anyone push him aside, or force him to leave his city. Metropolis had been under his father's protection, and now it was under his, and that was damn well how it was going to be, no matter what anyone thought... living legends or no.

"Innocent!" he snapped.

Batman stared down at him, his features as still as if they were carven from stone. "Innocent," he repeated, and Sully thought he heard scorn in the words. "And yet we all know that the suit you wear once belonged to another man. And that the name you use belonged to him as well."

"I didn't choose the name," Sully snapped. "And yes, the costume wasn't mine originally. What of it? How many Flashes have there been? How many Robins?"

"But those names were transferred with permission," Batman said. "You did not have permission. The original Superman was dead when you took his costume and his identity."

Dad, oh, Dad...

Sully felt the prickling of tears at his eyelids. He blinked them back impatiently.

"The original Superman would have been glad to have someone looking after Metropolis," he growled.

"This is undeniable," Batman said. "But the question is, would he have wanted that person to be you?"

Sully hesitated. Into his mind flashed the million and one arguments he'd had with his dad over the years-- you're slacking off too much, Sully, you need to work harder, you're never going to make anything of yourself if you don't apply yourself, for God's sake, can't you try a little harder?-- and his eyes stung worse than before.

He lowered his head, suddenly ashamed.

"No," he whispered. "He wouldn't have wanted me to wear his suit. And I was wrong to ever put it on. I'm not worthy to touch his boots, let alone wear them."

"That's where you are wrong." A new voice, a strong yet feminine alto, rang out. Sully lifted his head to see that Wonder Woman was standing alongside of Batman.

"The original Superman would have been very proud of you," she said gently. "He would be so proud to see how you have helped save Metropolis from itself. Never doubt that."

Sully stared up at her. She was as beautiful as she appeared in photographs, perhaps even more so. The most beautiful woman on the planet, she was called, and with good reason. She was stunning from her tumble of dark hair down to the tips of her red boots, an ageless beauty with a regal bearing that made him want to bow deeply, or maybe drop to his knees in obeisance.

He suppressed the impulse, and swallowed.

"I'm glad you think so," he answered. "But then why am I here?"

She smiled down on him. "Rise," she told him, and lifted her hands.

Obediently, he let himself lift off the ground until he was on a level with the collected JLA. Wonder Woman rose off the dais, and gently drifted toward him. She placed her hands on his shoulders.

"You are hereby inducted into the Justice League," she told him, "as Superman."

He stared at her, his mouth gaping open. At last he found his voice. "You mean Superman 2," he said, numbly.

"Superman," she repeated. "You have earned the name, and henceforth you will be known as Superman, a member of the Justice League."

He stared into her crystal blue eyes, silent with shock. At last he managed to find his voice.

"Thank you," he said, very humbly.

"You have earned this," she said solemnly. "Despite the relatively short time in which you have been working as a superhero, you have done great good, for Metropolis and for the world." She smiled at him, and added for his ears alone, "Your father would be proud of you, Sully."

He blinked, and suddenly remembered a dark-haired scientist who'd dropped to his parents' house every so often. She'd worn glasses, and ordinary clothes, and he hadn't realized...

Diana Prince. Of course she was Wonder Woman. God, he was stupid.

She pulled him to the dais, and as his feet returned to the floor, all the JLA members-- even Batman-- crowded around him, welcoming him, patting him on the back, smiling. He smiled back as best he could, but he felt slightly overwhelmed, even bewildered. He'd only been doing this for four months, and for two of those months he'd pretty much stumbled and blundered his way through every rescue. Surely it was too soon for them to be inducting him into the Justice League, no matter how many people he'd saved.

But he couldn't think it over too carefully, not with so many famous costumed heroes shaking his hand and speaking to him. At any rate, he suddenly realized that at the back of the dais there was a big sheet cake with the words Congratulations Superman! on it.

A man, he thought, accepting a plate, couldn't worry too hard when there was cake to be eaten.


Do you think he believed us?

The Martian Manhunter stood off to the side, observing the brightly attired humans and aliens consuming cake. He made no move to get himself a plate. He had no interest in cake unless it contained Oreos.

I don't know. Wonder Woman's voice spoke inside his head-- telepathy being the only way they could communicate without the risk of Sully overhearing. He had all his father's powers, including superhearing. I think he was initially suspicious, but Batman's ploy helped throw him off balance, and besides, he desperately wants acceptance. I think he is willing to accept this honor without looking deeper.

We must move quickly, the Manhunter said. I am having grave difficulty keeping his mother from realizing Sully is Superman. Despite all my manipulations of her thought processes, she is struggling hard to put the pieces together. Were it not for my interference, she would have reasoned it out months ago.

She cannot know, Wonder Woman answered. She must know nothing of what we are trying to accomplish here. I would not have her hopes raised, only to see them dashed again. Chloe Kent has done too much for the JLA for us to hurt her more than we must.

I am doing my best, Diana. But we cannot avoid hurting her in this situation. You know that.

The needs of the world must come first, J'onn.

I agree. But we must proceed with all haste. Win the boy onto our side quickly, and then we will do what we must.

He is not a boy, J'onn. He is a man. And if we move too quickly, he will grow suspicious. He is no more a fool than Clark was. And we cannot force him into this. He must choose it of his own free will.

I know, the Manhunter answered. And he will. I can read in his mind how much his father meant to him. I know that he understands what Superman meant to the planet. He will gladly embrace the sacrifice that must be made.

Wonder Woman sighed as she looked at the young man, whose smile was so bright that it could have lit a city. Is it absolutely necessary that we...

Do not waver in your resolve, Diana. You know that it is.

She sighed again, and looked at the young man. J'onn could feel her sorrow.

I know, she agreed. We have no choice. And yet... he is a very good young man. He has the potential for greatness. It seems a pity.

It is indeed a pity, Diana. But we have no choice.

Yes, she agreed, and bent her head. We will do what we must.

-The End-


kai said...

wow... great post. but what are they planning? that' snot really the end is it?

Tracey L said...

Yeah, I'm just a teensy bit confused. I re-read a bit to see if maybe it was just me who missed something, but the sinister plot is nowhere to be seen! DUN DUN DUN!!


Elly said...

Yeah, it is. You just can't see it yet:-).

Mariko said...

What? Huh? Evil woman, how can you end it there?!

Ok here's what I think is going on-- I think they are going to somehow use Sully to resurrect Clark. I'm not sure yet how, but whatever it is is risky so that's why they are not letting Chloe know. Maybe it involves Sully dying in place of Clark but I'm not sure that's what Clark or Chloe would want, so hopefully they are cooking up something that would allow both men to live.

Anyway, re: this chapter. Sully, God, I love him. I loved the unexpected wave of grief he felt when they mentioned his dad, and it's so heartbreaking how he seems so sure nothing he could do would make his dad proud. I can't wait for the next chapter.

Anonymous said...

loved it

DeeDee said...

Go Sully! I love this series so much.

I would be squeeing but for the covert op that MM and Diana are discussing. What are they planning, and why don't they wan't Chloe to know? Why wasn't Barri there? Does that mean that Sully's acceptance into the League was all a ruse? I hope not - he's earned that spot, dammit!

*calms self* Great update, Elly. Thanks so much for sharing!

BkWurm1 said...

The plot thickens. Great highs and lows emotionally and I kind of crack up over the image of dozens of Superheroes getting frosting on their spandex.

Ah, but then just when all that lovely pride and acceptance settles in, it's doom and gloom and sacrifice with a side of torture Chloe, but I'm an optimist (outside of Smallville) and can't wait for the agony. Darkest before dawn and all that.

Oh and special thanks for the Martian Manhunter mind manipulation explanation as to why Chloe hadn't figured Sully out.

erika said...

i love your sully stories and this one was just as good as the others.
OMG! evilplot! i have an idea about what it might be but even still i want to know for sure asap.
please update this soon.