“Which is why I would like to have an interview with Supergirl. Unsupervised.”
Carter finishes his speech with a sharp nod of his head and Cat suppresses the flutter of pride at seeing him standing there in front of her, resolute and strong. True, she is his mother and he isn’t shy around her. Also true, he makes excellent points and he has a strong, clear voice and a wealth of determination.
Not everyone in this world is Cat Grant.
Not everyone is as sharp and clever and witty and wise and understanding and compassionate as she is. And, she admits to herself, what may be more important is that not everyone is Carter’s mother.
So she fixes him with a calculating look and waits for a moment and then a moment longer, turning his proposal over in her mind. Cat Grant is many things and a pushover isn’t one of them. There is a way to turn this in her favour—there are many ways to turn this in her favour, but she isn’t about to steal all of Carter’s glory and excitement, she just wants to make it clear to him that if he is making this a business transaction then there is a price to pay and a game to play.
Besides, she has a reputation to keep and no one, not even her son, is going to swindle her out of the relationship she’s fostered between CatCo and her hero.
“And what would I get in return?” she asks him finally and Carter looks up from where he’s fixed his eyes on edge of her table and meets her look quickly, obviously surprised.
“You? In return?” he falters.
“Of course. You don’t think that I would give up my exclusive rights to National City’s hero—Catco’s hero—for,” she waves her hand at him, down to his school bag, to emphasis her point, “just any old school project, do you?”
Carter frowns heavily for a moment, thinking through. Then, he says slowly, “First of all, you can be assured of the utmost privacy. As you have said, it’s a school project and if the work of a minor were to be published against their will that would open the school up to a serious lawsuit, which I’m sure you would be happy to head to protect your hero and your son.” Cat’s lips quirk up the tiniest amount in a smile—he really is her son. She gives him an encouraging nod when he glances up again and he sets his shoulders, swallows hard, and presses on. “Second, it’s not just any old school project, Mom. It’s worth forty per cent of my final grade for the class.”
“Forty per cent? When did you get this project?” she asks, eyes narrowing. If this is his way of rushing it at the last minute…
“Today, mom. I want to get a head start on it.” He breaks into a smile when her glare doesn't lessen up at all. “You’re right mom, I’m lying, I got it a month ago and I’m abusing my relationship with the best reporter in America so that I won’t fail.”
“Mom. I’m kidding.”
“Oh Carter. Carter, that was a joke.” It always surprises her. Delights her.
“I think it’s called sarcasm, yeah.” He brings her back to the topic at hand, switching back to their old conversation. “The earlier I start, the more likely I’ll have time for a follow up interview if I need it.”
Cat leans back in her chair, touches a hand to her chin thoughtfully. “That’s true. Were those your only points?”
Carter gives her the tiniest smile and his eyes flash with triumph. Triumph. Well, that was a new look on him. She lifts her eyebrows.
“If Supergirl agrees, I’m willing to let you have access to the transcript of our interview.”
“And all subsequent interviews?”
Carter purses his lips but nods. “Alright.”
Cat hesitates—it is, admittedly, a very good offer. Carter has all the smarts and charm to get her to let her guard down and Cat has no doubt that he’ll dig up something interesting when she does—and that hesitation is all Carter needs.
He whips a folder out of his bag and rushes around to her side of the desk, placing it in front of her.
“Here,” he says. “Our contract.”
“A contract?” She’s played right into his hands, she realises with a sudden sharp pride. “I’ll have to have my general counsel have a look at this,” she sniffs, but she gives it a quick once over and moves her glass of mnm’s so they’re within his reach too. She takes a photo of the single page and sends it to Lane. Lane’s answer comes back two minutes later, confirming what Cat thought. It’s a good deal.
When she signs the paper—it really is very simple. She’ll provide him access to her girl and he will give her access to whatever information he digs up, so long as she’ll attest to the fact that the work was all his if his teacher should ask—his eyes light up.
“What else did you bring? May I?”
She gestures to the rest of the pages in the folder and he nods. A copy of the project plan and criteria, some initial questions. The assignment looks straight forward enough—interview people whom you admire, write a piece on them, blah blah blah, it was more or less the same nonsense she had to do when she was in his grade. A permission slip for the field trip to the zoo next week he had forgotten to give her—she signs that one immediately—and she picks out a few other projects Carter’s been working on and he tells her they’re all under control and flops into the chair opposite.
“When can I see her?”
“See whom?” Carter rolls his eyes and she points a pen in his direction. “Roll them like that again, Carter, and they’ll roll right out of your head.”
“I think his super orbital ridges are a little too developed to let that happen, Miss Grant,” Kara says as she swans her way into Cat’s office without so much as a knock. “Hi, Carter.”
“Kara!” Carter is out of his chair and by her side in the blink of an eye. “Did you hear? I’m going to see Supergirl again!”
“I did,” Kara says, wrapping an arm around his shoulders with a fond smile. She coughs a tad and hurries on. “Not. I did not hear that, couldn’t possibly have heard that Carter, you’ve only told your mom so far. I couldn’t have overhead—” She stops herself, clears her throat. Reaches up to adjust her glasses. “That’s very exciting,” she says, and reaches down to squeeze his shoulder, giving him a bright smile.
Carter’s very slight frown disappears. “It’s going to be amazing. I’m going to interview her for my writing project.”
“Well, you’re very talented, I’m sure you’ll write a great essay,” Kara says, and it’s a little more demure than she wants it to be because she’s caught her boss’s look—that very clearly reminds her of exactly what her position is—and she takes her hand off Carter’s shoulder and steps away. She fixes her eyes on the tablet in her hands and closes the distance to the desk. “The layouts you asked for, Miss Grant.”
“Would you like me to ask James Olsen to get in touch with Supergirl?”
“Yes. Have him set the interview for tomorrow evening, after school lets out. Carter finishes chess—”
“At four thirty,” Kara finishes for her, and though her face whitens when she registers that she interrupted Cat—when the woman has been so clear about what they are now to each other—she doesn’t apologise. She just types on the tablet for a moment. “I’ll let Mr Olsen know right away. Is there anything else?”
Cat doesn’t bother to speak, just waves her hand, and Kara leaves.
Carter has to leave at five. He has homework to do, Cat reminds him, and she has a tragic mess of a sports section to edit before the weekend—and Kara—Kiera—messages her when Carter gets into the town car she called for him, and then again when the driver tells her that Carter arrived home safely. Cat gets a message from Carter a few minutes later to confirm and only then does she actually settle to get work done.
She doesn’t notice when a glass of water is placed by her side, or two aspirin in a small clear dish, and she doesn’t really notice when the edited layouts are taken down to the art department. It all happens so quickly and quietly and when enough of the work is done that Cat can justify going home, she leans back in her chair to check the time—8:22—and sighs.
Kiera is still out there, pouring over some document or another.
Cat switches over to message on her computer, but doesn’t send anything. She taps a long finger against the glass. She should let it be. She should let it go.
But she’s irritated that the girl just. won’t. leave.
I don’t pay you overtime, Karla
Kara looks up, jerking slightly, when the message pings onto her screen and Cat ignores the way her assistant’s face falls after reading it.
There were some issues with Bodley’s column, Miss Grant.
Minor errors. I’m almost done proof reading it.
Cat sighs and rubs at her forehead. Ka—Kiera is at her desk when she opens her eyes and she holds out a single aspirin.
“Wonderful, Karla, just what I need. An ineffectual dose in the hands of an ineffectual assistant.”
Kara ignores the comment and Cat narrows her eyes. “You had two an hour ago, Miss Grant. Even one extra is pushing the recommended dosage.”
“They’re exceedingly mild and hardly worth paying for. Oh my, just like you.” She layers her voice with as much derision as she can muster and again, Kara doesn’t so much as blink. Her hand is steady holding the dish and she just looks at Cat until the woman snatches it out of her hand. “Water.” Her glass is pressed into her hand in the next second. “Thank you,” she says before she can stop the words. She blames it on the late hour and the thumping behind her eyes. “For your mediocrity,” she tacks on.
“I’m sorry, Miss Grant?”
“I don’t see that I should be paying overtime for you to slack. If you cannot complete your work within the hours you are set, well. Perhaps you aren’t the right fit for Catco.” It’s the closest she’s come to threatening Kara’s job yet and Kara hears it. Loud and clear. “The editing,” she says when Kara frowns, and Kara’s eyes clear when she understands what Cat means.
She waits a moment, taking the glass from Cat before she answers her. When she does speak, her voice is steady and quiet and utterly unaffected. “Mr Bodley’s column is complete. I’ve sent the revised column to your email along with Mr Olsen’s selections for the images. If there’s nothing else, Miss Grant, I’ll leave for tonight.”
Cat reads through the column—the submitted column and then Kara's revision. It's excellent. Kara's, that is. The original is sloppy and has several mistakes that Kara noted for her and she sets a reminder for Kara to find out the following morning exactly what it would cost for his severance.