This was perhaps one of the dumbest things Nia Nal had ever done.
Going behind the DEO’s back was one thing, but choosing not to inform any members of the Justice League either could blow up in her face...but she couldn’t take any chances. Hell, Kara was the only one who knew any of the details, and even then, Nia hadn’t disclosed what she was about to do.
It had started four weeks ago. An anonymous tape had arrived in a fed-ex package outside Nia’s apartment with a note that said ‘For Dreamer’. The fact that someone was aware of her alter-ego was a disturbing revelation, prompting her to check every nook and cranny of her apartment for potential bugs.
Not that it mattered, because once she had played the tape and saw Homelander flying into a rage over an innocent blue blanket, the identity of the tape-sender, as well as them knowing she was Dreamer, was the last thing on her mind.
Everyone knew Vought, and by extension The Seven, were shady as hell. Ever since the beginning, the entire company and their celebrity heroes with their godawful merchandise and movies irked everyone in the League. Hell, when Oliver was still alive, Kara and Barry had to talk him out of breaking into Vought’s HQ. More than once.
But none of the Seven unnerved the League more than Homelander. Sure, he was popular, friendly enough, and - to some of Nia’s shame - quite the looker. But there was something in his eyes that painted a much darker picture. Only problem was there was no proof to back up their hunches.
That was, until the tape that was now in Nia’s possession.
Finding out where the documentary was filmed was easy enough. Getting people to talk was an entirely different matter. But Nia pressed on as any good reporter would. It was just about finding the right leak.
And it was that tenacity that found Nia on the doorstep of former Vought scientist Jonah Vogelbaum.
At first he had tried to get her to leave, even threatening to call the cops on her to no avail. “Just you being here , even if I say nothing, puts you in danger. Do you understand that, miss? Not just from Vought...if he finds out anyone came here, he’d kill us both. And any family we have.”
It was known among their circles that Homelander had taken human life before, but the frank desperation to which Jonah spoke almost caught Nia off-guard. But she pressed on.
“I’m prepared to face the consequences of my actions...Vought and Homelander need to face theirs... please help me .”
Nearly an hour had passed before the wheelchair-bound man cracked. Other than his word, he only had a few pieces of physical evidence. A pair of video and audio diaries, paperwork concerning Homelander’s blood, and a photo of a small blonde-haired boy, sleeping on the cold floor of a sterile cell, clutching a very familiar blue blanket.
When she saw that photo, her stomach dropped, but she forced it to the side as she focused on interviewing Jonah. She had to push on convincing him, but thankfully, by then the doctor had learned the hard-way that keeping quiet about Vought did not protect him from Homelander...or rather, John.
Kara was understandably horrified when Nia came to her with the full report she had put together, and had told her to publish it. But to be ready for the blowout, and make sure everything was air-tight because the second the news broke, all hell was going to break loose.
What she didn’t tell Kara, however, was that before the story would be officially published, she had to talk to one more person. This was dangerous, and definitely a little stupid, but she just couldn’t publish the story without letting him know.
She’d already placed a contingency in case things went south...didn’t make this any less risky.
* * * * * * * * * *
When she’d showed up at Vought, asking to speak with Homelander, Vought had nearly kicked her out in half a second. As fate would have it though, the man in question was there in the lobby of the building, and had agreed to talk with her. Perhaps he was pissed at Vought for whatever reason and was inflicting some form of petty payback.
His curiosity had definitely grown when she asked to speak to him in private. And now here they were, in his ‘office’; a room he clearly didn’t use much, if ever.
“I was sent something very curious a couple of weeks ago. I don't know who sent it. They told me not to come looking for them, but that Vought was hiding things." Pulling her phone out, she pressed play and tilted the screen, showing John the footage from the documentary.
As soon as the blanket appeared, John went blank-faced. Almost cold in his demeanor, with a subtle jaw twitch that Nia had seen him use before. But after a moment, he just shrugged rather nonchalantly, and jokingly replied, "I don't even know why they put it in there. It doesn't match anything in the room."
"No, it really doesn't." Nia swallowed, closing her eyes as she closed the video before flipping over to a piece of audio. "But it did get me thinking. And then I did some digging, and…”
This was it, once she played this audio there was no turning back. But as she looked over at John, and the way his blue eyes seemed to pierce right through her, she knew that ship had already sailed. There was a good chance she wouldn’t get out of this room, let alone the building unscathed.
But too much was at stake. She hit play.
“My name is Jonah Vogelbaum, and I was a scientist at Vought for-”
The phone exploded in a spray of plastic and metal, with such abrupt force that Nia could not stop the cry of surprise that escaped her. She jumped up out of reflex, but John was already out of his chair and on her side of the desk.
"Can I ask you something?" John didn’t give Nia the chance to finish. In the blink of an eye, she was slammed against the wall, his hand over her mouth, muffling the slight shout of pain and fear that escaped her.
He leaned in close, and Nia flinched as she took in his face. His eyes burned with a true rage that she had never seen before. Not even Kara at her most furious matched up to the trembling man who pinned her to the wall.
And then, red overtaking his eyes, he hissed, "Who the fuck do you think you are?!" Nia flinched, eyes closing for a moment as she struggled to keep from panicking, and then she bit into his hand, more out of desperation than anything else. That action might have saved her life, as the red from Jon’s eyes faded, and he gave her an incredulous look. “...seriously?”
It worked though, and he finally released her, but that didn’t lessen the venom in his voice as he spoke again. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't bury you in the ocean."
Nia’s reply was swift, the one thing she’d rehearsed in her head on the way here. "Because if I don't cancel it, a package will reach Kara Danvers’ desk tomorrow morning with everything. Everything I found, the video sent to me, all the evidence Vogelbaum gave me. I told her and several others I was coming here. And we both know you won’t be able to just fly to National City and take anything from Kara without getting your ass kicked."
John almost flinched at that, pacing slightly, his body almost shaking as the weight of what she said bore down on him. It was true, and while they still hadn’t figured out how or when John had discovered Supergirl’s alter-ego, in this situation, it helped hammer home the fact that Homelander was out of luck, and out of time.
"...what do you want?" He finally asked, voice cracking in a way that almost threw Nia off. But she persisted nonetheless.
She paused, eyes closing and taking a breath to try and calm herself. “Come forward...tell your story the way it should be told, and not told for you. I have to go forward with this.” Her resolve growing, she took a step towards John, and his gaze met hers in turn.
For a moment, she thought about backing out. Seeing him like this was, unnerving. Somewhere between a caged animal and a lost boy. It almost made her heart ache.
“You’ve done horrible things, John...but what Vought has done, including to you, is unforgivable.” For a moment she paused, and then, her voice quieter than intended, "I came here because I wanted to give you a chance to have some control...because I know what it's like to have part of your life secret for your own safety."
With that, she turned and headed for the door, her bravado finally starting to slip, but as she reached the door, she looked back at him one more time. “The story is being published in three days. I really hope you come to me before that, because despite what you’ve done, you’re a victim too, and deserve to have your story heard.”
And then she was out the door, leaving Homelander alone as the full weight of the situation came crashing down on him like a brick house.
Vought had been aware of the identities of several members of the League, including Dreamer. John had even skimmed her file once, and had tossed it aside. She didn’t pose a threat to him, how could she? She wasn’t on Supergirl or Superman’s level. No, she was nothing to him.
Oh, how wrong he had been.