A/N: This and any subsequent stories I write are based upon the cool 1988-1992 live-action television series, 'The Adventures of Superboy.' The story takes place directly preceding the final scene in 'Rites of Passage', the series finale in season 4. It begins with Lana Lang just seconds away from discovering that Clark Kent may indeed be the 'Boy of Steel.' It's a fact she had tried to prove all along with limited success throughout the 2-part episode, set in Lana and Clark's hometown of Smallville, Kansas.
The Adventures of Superboy: Forces of Nature
Clark felt the needle graze his slacks and distinctly heard the snap and a loud gasp from Lana. It was probably the most deafening sound his super-hearing had ever picked up. He quickly slid to the other side of the car and diverted his attention out the window to the local shops on the street.
Matt Ritter and and Dennis Jackson, their co-worker and boss from the Bureau of Extra Normal Matters, had no idea what just occurred and heckled over the radio. They finally called a truce on a station playing Patsy Cline's greatest hits. As Lana slowly climbed in, Clark could feel her crystal blue gaze penetrating him, but he couldn't meet it. He would have rather fallen into a vat of liquid Kryptonite. A wave of pity washed over him. Poor Lana was terribly confused and she had every right to be. Clark, dressed in his Superboy garb, had regained his powers when he returned the purple Kryptonian crystal to its rightful place amongst the others from the space ship. He felt more powerful than ever before, and his mind seemed to have developed a heightened sense of awareness. It was a moment that could only be described as an epiphany. After the surge, he suddenly felt wiser beyond his twenty-one years.
Lana was snooping around as usual and when he found her she stuck him with that stupid knitting needle. Lana demanded proof that Clark Kent and Superboy were one and the same man. When the needle bent totally out of shape, so did her composure. Superboy had to control his laughter. She looked so earnestly beautiful and he decided to give her proof…with a tender kiss. Superboy reasoned that Clark Kent had never quite stepped over that boundary, but he was a different story.
Clark forced himself to look at Lana and was surprised to see her cheeks reddened and her eyes filled to the brim with tears. He didn't sense anger, only hurt and betrayal.
If there was a lifetime achievement award for a monumental fool, Lana felt she would be the recipient. After practically making Clark Swiss cheese with her knitting needle, he had gotten very angry with her and they had a small argument. Fights with Clark Kent were as infrequent as leap years. He was her best friend and she felt wretched for the entire day until she met up with Superboy in the woods. In his ever kind but firm manner he all but told her she needed the funny farm and that she had to leave Clark alone. She had been duped again.
Right now she wanted Clark to feel the weight of her accusatory stare more powerfully than a blast of Kryptonite from Metallo's body armor. But her expression softened and she turned away defeated. She couldn't do it. She couldn't be mad at the young man who saved her life a million and one times over and whom she loved more than life itself. That was Superboy.
Then there was Clark Kent, her best friend in the entire world. Clark had always been there for her on an emotional level that Superboy couldn't match. Lana had trouble seeing Superboy lounging on a porch swing with lemonade and Ma Kent's chocolate chip cookies, while playing board games and cards during the lazy days of Smallville summer. Nor could she envision him when they were imaginative children on stormy nights, up in the tree house that Pa Kent had built, and scaring each other with flashlights and spooky stories.
Lana stole another peek at Clark. She finally saw the stark resemblance to Superboy in his handsome features, despite the thick glasses that veiled his long-lashes and soft, dark-blue eyes. It wasn't a resemblance; it had been Superboy's face all along. She was the blindest person in the world. The intense love she coveted and divided between Clark and Superboy collided. Every doubt now made perfect sense and all her conflicted emotions twisted into one absolute yearning.
She wiped her tears and a deep laugh bubbled up within her that she couldn't control from escaping. Lana imagined the last four years at Shuster University and how Clark endured nonstop ridicule, not to mention all the embarrassment he caused her and their friends. Clark went over the top with his engaging, geeky performance. She rattled off the list from his playbook in her mind–Sandals with athletic socks at the pool, never going swimming. He often wore cardigan sweaters and bulky plaid shirts to hide his chiseled frame, bragged incessantly about his infamous bug and encyclopedia collections, and engaged in numerous pratfalls. He perfected a ridiculously stilted walk that always reminded her of a subdued Jerry Lewis, especially with his choice of high-water slacks, white socks and black shoes. Clark Kent had pulled a fast one on the entire world. Who knew Superboy could have such a sly sense of humor.
Jackson stopped singing abruptly. "Am I amusing you, Lana? I didn't think my rendition of 'Walking after midnight' was half bad."
"No, it's half worse." Matt remarked, thankful for the interruption.
"I could fire you for that, Ritter."
"Nah, you love me too much."
Lana stifled her giggles when she saw how oddly Clark looked at her. She patted her boss's shoulder. "I'm sorry Mr. Jackson, it wasn't you at all. I was just thinking of…stupid stuff from college."
As she said this, she and Clark finally locked gazes and he self-consciously pushed the glasses up his nose. It was no doubt all the stupid stuff he did.
"Clark would know." She added.
Matt shook his head. "College is eighty-five percent stupidity. I couldn't wait to finish."
"I thought you got your Journalism degree by mail order." Jackson quipped.
"Signed by Sally Struthers herself, thank you." Matt fired back with his usual wit.
That garnered a laugh from everyone. They were fifteen minutes into the drive to the Smallville airport when the music was cut off.
"We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a severe weather announcement currently in effect for the entire state of Kansas. An F5 scale tornado watch has been issued and all local authorities are urging people to find shelter in underground cellars…"
Matt stopped the car and they all listened intently as the reporter prattled on about precautionary measures and then finally ended it by saying that all flights to and from Kansas had been canceled or suspended until further notice. Matt clicked off the radio.
"Of all the times! F5's are the worst, right? What can we do?"
"My parents have a solid underground storm shelter. We should all head back to the farm." Clark offered. "Lana, we can drop off and pick up your mother and…"
"My mother's not here, she's off in China with my father. I found her note on the table." She replied with traces of bitterness. Her mother was apt to leave her with little notice; she adored traveling and being a woman of the world. Lana occasionally felt neglected by her, but it had been going on that way since she was a child. That was a big reason she endeared herself to the Kent family, they treated her as one of their own.
She stared out the car window, noting the gray clouds gathering in the far distance. "Matt, you better step on it, there's no telling where a tornado will drop."
Matt didn't need to be told twice, even though Jackson suggested they could just drive as far as possible away from Smallville before it hit.
"I don't think that's a good idea, sir. The reports didn't specifically list counties or cities; it was for the entire state. Tornadoes are no joke, they can stretch out for miles and sometimes…well, with Kansas being in the heart of Tornado Valley, we can wind up getting more than one at a time." Clark said. "Do you mind if I call my parents, in case they didn't hear this?"
Jackson grumbled an affirmative and handed him the car phone. "I'm only listening to you, Kent and Lang, because we're on your home turf and I for one do not want to be transported to the Land of Oz…though I wouldn't be surprised if it existed with what we come across at the Bureau."
Matt picked up speed and covered over his agitation with humor. "I don't know boss, you might look good in a pair of ruby slippers, a blue and white gingham dress, basket…"
"Just keep it up, Ritter."
Clark did not miss Lana's trembling, nor the way her fingers groped for the seat in a panic, as if to hold on for dear life to something grounded. Her chest rose up and down and he could almost see the fear grip around her heart. He grimaced. This wasn't a spur of the moment reaction for her. Lana was truly frightened by the possibility of a childhood trauma happening again. When they were thirteen-years-old, Lana survived being sucked into a tornado…and Clark was right with her. It was a tumultuous experience for both of them, because it was at that crucial moment when Clark learned he had the power of flight.
Clark understood that it was this saving act, which thankfully Lana remembered little of, that sealed their friendship for life. Although it often appeared that Clark followed Lana around like a lost puppy, it was a two-sided deal. Clark never wanted her to come to harm and Lana sought him out to be her emotional crag. When the time came for College, Lana couldn't bear to see Clark go all the way to Shuster University without her. By then Clark was desperately in love with her, but also knew that with his desire to create Superboy, his identity had to be protected.
His deceptive cover was mostly amusing when he played the geek role to the hilt, but it was also a humbling experience. By the time he started internship at the Bureau, Clark toned it all down. The act grew wearisome, especially hiding it from Lana and other friends. If he went too far into geekdom, it would have cost him a job he loved. It was a job that brought Superboy closer to the threats of the world, helped him to understand their motives, and hopefully vanquish them. That was usually all in a week's work.
Clark hung up the phone. His parents were well aware of the situation and had begun making preparations for all of them. He sat back and stared at Lana again. Her face had turned ashen and beads of sweat broke out on her forehead. She was still riveted on the clouds. Clark cautiously reached over and grasped her hand, gently prying her fingers off the leather until they were clasped through his. He listened closely as her heartbeat quickened.
"Clark, I'm really scared. I don't know why…but out of everything that's ever happened to me, this terrifies me the most."
"We both know why. It's a force of nature, unpredictable, uncontrollable, unlike my…I mean…Superboy's enemies." Clark's grip tightened and he shifted closer.
Lana unexpectedly nestled her head against his shoulder and he kissed her soft, red hair. He smiled. Despite his deception, she had not lost trust in him…at least not yet. He also imagined when everything blew over then so would her temper and there would be mounds of questions.
"It will be okay, Lana. I'm here. I promise I won't let anything happen to you."
Her heart skipped a beat and the fear subsided.