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Duty Calls

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“Okay, quiet down, please,” the teacher calls, to little effect. “Does anyone have any questions before we begin?”

Twenty small hands shoot up into the air at once, pulling chuckles from the line of adults in the room. Kara stands sandwiched between a fireman and a psychiatrist, feeling more than a little nervous about giving a speech in front of these impressionable young minds.

I still don’t understand why Supergirl would be asked to attend a career day. It’s not as if any of them can follow in your footsteps, ” says a voice in her ear.

Alex had, for some reason, thought it necessary for Kara to be on comms for this event, just in case. In case of what, exactly, Kara isn’t sure. She’s fairly certain she won’t be needing DEO backup against a room of twelve- to thirteen-year-olds.

More than likely, Alex had just wanted something to laugh at.

Kara turns slightly to shield herself from curious eyes. “It’s a favor for Ms. Grant,” she replies in a whisper. “She couldn’t make it herself and Carter got really excited when she told him she’d try to ask me instead. I couldn’t let him down.”

She hears a rush of air over the comm link as Alex sighs. “Of course not. ” Her softened tone sounds more resigned than exasperated, and Kara smiles as she turns back to face the class.

The teacher, a short, greying woman named Mrs. Karam whom Kara had liked instantly, waves the hands down and points to a girl seated near the front. “Go ahead, Mariana.”

Mariana beams and sits up straighter in her chair. “Can I ask Supergirl a question?”

Smiling, Mrs. Karam shakes her head. “All of our speakers will get a chance to tell you about their jobs before we take any specific questions, all right? Now, to clarify, does anyone have any general questions about Career Day?”

No hands raise this time, and Mrs. Karam nods astutely. “Okay, then. Is anyone missing their reflection worksheet? Remember you’ll need to take notes on at least three of our presenters.”

Again, there’s no response from the children, so Mrs. Karam moves to take a seat behind her desk and gestures to the woman at the far end of the room. “We’ll start with Dr. Martin,” she announces, and all the other Career Day guests take their seats in the green plastic chairs that had been set up for them at the front of the room as the doctor steps up to the small podium.

They work their way down the line after that, each person giving a five-minute presentation describing their careers, Alex providing commentary in her ear every so often, which Kara pointedly ignores.

It’s all standard Career Day stuff, not that Kara knows much about that. She’d never experienced any such events at school back in Midvale, her closest approximation being a career fair in college that she had only attended for class credit, and that’s altogether pretty different from this small gathering of parents and family friends in a middle school classroom.

By the time Kara’s turn is reached, some of the kids are looking bored, which doesn’t instill much confidence in her as she takes up the position at the podium just vacated by the psychiatrist. She needn’t have worried, however, because the moment she clears her throat to dispel the nerves, even the kids who had been diligently focused on note taking spring to attention.

Honestly, it makes Kara feel a little bit bad for the few presenters like the woman before her who had gone largely ignored. These kids are far from needing to choose a career, but still, some of them could stand to be a little more respectful, she thinks.

“Hi, everyone,” Kara starts, voice bright, but still with the attention-commanding tone of Supergirl. “All these presenters have been pretty impressive, huh? I don’t know how I’m supposed to follow them. You guys probably already know what I do. Stop bad guys, help people when they’re in trouble.”

“And catch planes,” a boy at the back chimes in.

Kara laughs. “Yeah, that too.” She focuses on Carter then, sitting almost directly in front of the podium and looking as awed by her as the first day she met him. “So what can I tell you that you haven’t already read about or seen in the news?”

She directs the question to the whole class, but inwardly Kara hopes that Carter will take the chance to speak up if he wants to. She can’t help but have a soft spot for the kid.

After a moment Carter does speak, a little hesitant, but eyes intensely curious. “Could you tell us about your process? How you monitor the city for accidents or crimes? Do you have a police scanner, or do you just… listen for trouble?”

Kara smiles. “That’s a great question. It’s actually a little bit of both,” she explains. “I don’t have a police scanner, but I do have friends who can let me know when people are in danger. And sometimes I will just listen and keep an eye out.”

Unsure what else to say about that without revealing too much, Kara adds, “I’m sure a lot you guys think my job is special, that there’s no way you could ever be like me, but I want you to know that you’re all capable of being heroes.” She gestures to the people sitting behind her. “Every one of my fellow presenters is a hero themself, because you don’t need a cape or superpowers, and you don’t have to take on the world. You just need the will to help and inspire however many people you can. And it’s okay if sometimes, that can only be yourself.”

After that brief motivational speech, Kara continues for only another minute, lightening the mood by describing some of her most recent rescues, and then steps down so the last two presenters can finish off. When Mrs. Karam opens the room up for questions, all hands go up once again, and she calls on students one by one.

“Supergirl, how fast can you fly?”

“Well, I think I reached Mach 2 once.”

“Supergirl, how do you make money?”

“Well, I actually have another job outside of being Supergirl.”

Careful, Kara.

“But I can’t tell you what it is, sorry.”

“Supergirl, could you beat Superman in a fight?”

Mrs. Karam steps forward and winces, looking rather overwhelmed. “Doesn’t anyone have any questions for our other guests?”

Kara shuffles backward awkwardly, trying to remove herself from the spotlight. She’s almost relieved when Alex comes over the comms again.

Supergirl, we need you down at the shipyard. There’s a fire, suspected alien involvement.

“Got it,” she responds. Then to the class, “Sorry, everyone, but I have to go.” She smiles, apologetic, and walks over to the window to open it, figuring she can at least show off a bit for them as she leaves. “It was really nice to meet you all,” Kara says, and with a quick wave, she sails out the window in a blur of red and blue.

“Good evening, Ms. Grant.” Kara floats down onto the balcony, giving Cat a soft smile as she settles into one of the chairs there.

“Supergirl,” Cat greets. She rolls her empty glass between her palms and eyes Kara for a quiet moment. Eventually, she says, “Thank you, for attending Career Day in my place today. Carter was very pleased, as were his classmates. Although I’m not sure how much occupational guidance you could have provided them.”

Kara chuckles. “My- Someone else told me the same thing. I’m just glad the kids enjoyed it,” she replies. “And even though they can’t become superheroes, I tried to encourage them to become their own heroes. I’m not sure how effective I was, but…”

“I’m sure you did very well.”

Kara’s eyes crinkle with her answering grin. “I did learn from the best,” she says, staring at Cat pointedly, and Cat hums, one corner of her mouth quirking upward in a small smile, pleased yet humble.

“Of course.”