Who wants to be a Super Billionaire?
Bureau of Extra-Normal Matters/Current Dimension
Lana glumly tapped her pen against her lip and stared at the large clock on the wall. It was getting very close to lunch hour and Clark had not arrived to work, nor had he gotten in contact with her. She shuffled some papers around, trying to look busy every time Mr. Jackson puttered by. Her heart was not in stamping and checking off the giant pile left over for her. Matt was busy taking phone calls and counseling spaced-out visitors at the front desk area. Lana eventually went upstairs to the library and gazed out the window, hoping to see Superboy flying overhead. She struggled not to cry. Clark would always need her to be strong for him. She had resisted calling Professor Peterson, he was very busy and she didn't want to wake him or his family in the middle of the night.
Lana caught a whiff of a pleasant, familiar scent. She looked down and saw a bushel of colorful wildflowers. They were the same ones she often picked as a young girl in Smallville. She used them to make Queen and King crowns for her and Clark. Lana beamed at the reflection in the window.
"I know you were waiting but I had to make a little pit stop." Clark said gently and turned her around. "I needed to talk to my parents too."
"I understand. They're beautiful. Are you all right? You look worn out. Is Kal gonna be okay?"
"Things got sort of rough, but we handled it. Kal's is getting back in his groove. He has a lot of messes to clean up. They're messes that he's somewhat responsible for, but he's willing to take it all on. He'll be just fine."
"I knew you could help him, Clark."
Clark shook his head. "It wasn't me that set him straight, Lana. It was you. Seeing you alive and reminding him of what he was capable of, of who he was made the difference. It reinforced his decisions to be Superboy again…or, well…Superman."
Lana raised an eyebrow. "Superman? I think…I think that's perfect for you too!"
"Do you really think I'm ready for that title? Kal is a little older."
"You look like a man to me…and you're more mature than any man I've ever met." She whispered and stroked his jaw.
Lana put the flowers to her nose and inhaled. When she opened her eyes, Clark grasped her face delicately.
"I love you, Lana."
Lana wrapped her arms over his neck "I love you, Clark."
There was so much more he wanted to tell her about what happened with Kal, but at the moment there was no room for words. Clark kissed her. They were soon locked in a warm embrace and oblivious to both Matt and Jackson's presence at the head of the stairwell. The men gaped at the scene and Jackson cleared his throat. Clark quickly broke off the kiss and turned to attention with Lana, she wiped her mouth and smiled embarrassed. Jackson frowned, but there was a twinkle in his eye. Matt's smile was contagious and he gave them a thumb up.
"I take it you didn't find that Big Foot trail you were looking for this morning, Kent? But maybe you found cupid!" Jackson asked.
Clark coughed slightly as Lana nudged him. "Uh, no I didn't sir, it turned out to be a footprint from a large, weird-shaped boot."
"Of course it was! I could have told you that! You think with all his fur that Big Foot wants to hide out in the steamy Everglades? Ahh, never mind. As much as I hate to break this secret rendezvous up, I have another case for you. We got a report from some beachcombers about a meteor that crashed into the ocean. There are too many eyewitnesses to discount it. Kent, I want you to go down and talk to whomever you can find that saw it."
"What about the meteor itself? Should I get a boat and…"
"What? We're not the Navy! Whatever it was that crashed must be at the bottom of the ocean right now."
Clark nodded grim. "Okay, Mr. Jackson, I'm on it. Maybe I can contact Superboy and he can look for it."
"Good idea, Kent! I'm really glad he doesn't want to be on the payroll."
"With all the work he puts in helping us, he should be making top dollar." Matt commented and Jackson grunted.
Lana glanced at Clark, the pride in her eyes crystal clear. She looked at her boss. "Mr. Jackson, I finished up the last of my paperwork and I really don't have much going on, do you think I could…"
"Lang!" Jackson tossed his hands up. "What the hell! It's a slow day today, but don't take too long. It's not a fun-filled day at the beach, not for you two, anyway."
Lana thanked him and raced down the steps to get her purse and camera before he could change his mind. As Clark was about to go down, Jackson grabbed his arm. "And you listen to me, Kent! Don't think you're gonna use this time to drive off to the chapel of love either. You left single, you'll come back single. Enjoy it while it lasts!"
"And lasts…and lasts…and lasts." Matt sighed.
Jackson glared at him. "Is that supposed to be funny, Ritter?"
"Nope. I'm just thinking of my own love life right now. Way to go, Clark. I always knew you had it in you."
"Yeah, I guess I did. Umm, I'll give you a call as soon as I find out anything, sir." Clark said to Jackson.
"Only if its an emergency, I'm swamped. Now get outta here."
Clark hurried downstairs after Lana. Matt glanced at his boss. "So, is that a real sighting or just a Mickey Mouse case?"
"Hard to tell. I can't play around with Kent much anymore now that he's bumped to a G9 investigator. For our sakes let's hope its not some alien spawn like Godzilla."
Matt laughed and patted his back. "You had a late night watching the marathons too, huh?"
Jackson shrugged. "Those are some of my favorites!"
Clark and Lana decided to take her black jeep for the ride. As they went to the parking garage Lana stopped Clark abruptly.
"Wait a minute! Remember what happened the last time you encountered a meteor? That green sludge attacked you, it drained the life out of you! And now you'll be at the bottom of the ocean. What if it's the same thing? What if it's something even more powerful? What if it's Kryptonite? Oh Clark, that could kill you down there!"
Clark grasped her shoulders. "What if it's a piece of luggage fallen out of a passing airplane? What if it's just a plain old meteorite rock with no properties? What if it was a flare from a ship or boat that needs help? Lana, I'm not afraid. Somebody has to check it out and if it is something otherworldly… it's best I go, isn't it?"
Lana gripped the edges of her jeep and let out a deep breath. "You're right, Clark, I'm sorry. I know your secret for one day and I'm already flipping out and trying to keep you from doing what Superboy needs to do. That's not right."
Clark held her close. "It will be okay, Lana. You'll get to used to it in time."
"I hope so. We better go now. I'll do the investigating and Superboy can extract the meteor."
Clark smiled at her and clasped her hand. "Sounds like a plan, but I should ask a few questions myself first."
A half hour later Clark sat near the shoreline and dumped the sand from his loafers, while Lana crouched next to him and stared wistfully at the oncoming waves.
"Well, everyone that saw it has the same story, it wasn't that big, and it kinda looked like a bright bottle rocket and just zoomed straight down in the water." She said, drawing circles in the sand.
"Could that be what it was? A big firework?"
"I thought so too, but nobody was lighting them at the time. Besides, fireworks shoot up first, not down. And I think the glare from the sun would have lessened the brightness of it, don't you?" Lana asked.
Making sure no one was around. Clark removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He stood up and shook the sand from his clothes. "You're right. It's time for me to go down there. I got the coordinates from some boaters." He helped Lana to her feet.
"I'll be waiting right here, Clark."
"Lana I don't want you…"
"No. I can't go back to the Bureau without you. I'll be okay. Look, I'll get myself a drink and a hot dog and wait by the amusement park on the boardwalk over there."
"Okay…but I don't expect to be that long."
"Yeah, I know. I'm just getting hungry. It's lunchtime." She grinned.
"Well in that case, get me one too!" Clark took off to find a place to change into Superboy. "Oh, and Lana!"
"Don't pick up any strange seashells!"
Lana laughed and threw a handful of sand at him. "I'll leave the shell collecting to you, poindexter! I learned my lesson."
A few minutes later Superboy and hovered over the area where the meteor fell. He used his x-ray vision to scan into the depths. There was definitely something down there, and it emitted a faint silvery-blue glow that wouldn't have been noticeable to human eyes. He gazed at the shore and saw Lana standing, the water lapping at her bare feet and the expression on her face was pensive. She looked absolutely radiant. He waved at her and she jumped and waved back.
'I'm getting very water-logged these last few days.' He thought. 'Here goes nothing.'
Taking a deep breath, Superboy dove into the water and swam with hyper speed down to the bottom. The glow pulsed stronger and a peculiar feeling enveloped him. It was as if the energy was pulling him closer, but not in a way to cause him harm. The attraction was so strong he was able to stand upon the sea floor as if he were on land.
He scanned the area and found the source of the light a few feet away. He swam up to it and yanked it out of the sand. He studied it quizzically. It was a long, clear crystal with pointed ends and extremely strong, given the force he needed to pull it out. The glowing light seemed to respond to his presence and it illuminated on the gorgeous undersea creatures that swam past. Superboy noticed two more sticking up, one a deep, emerald green and the other a pale blue tone. They were all the same in length but each was chiseled differently.
A strong emotion tugged at him. These crystals somehow belonged to him and he was meant to find them. Keeping a tight hold on the set, Superboy leisurely swam up to the surface, taking a few moments to enjoy the multihued surroundings. He thought of Lana, this was something she would love. Although he had no need for any breathing gear, he would gladly mention to her about taking a scuba diving tour with Clark. He could rent a private boat and sail them out where they weren't bound to run into others. That way he could keep his glasses off, and they could enjoy a fine lunch on board and some fishing, plain old swimming and…He felt the crystals warm up in his hand and they glowed again. Superboy broke the surface and held them up toward the sunlight. The effect was dazzling.
"Okay, okay, even a set of crystals won't just let me imagine a normal life with the woman I love." He said aloud and splashed the water disgruntled.
Superboy returned to dry land and after a quick shower he changed into his Clark clothes and met Lana by the benches. She calmly sipped her drink and looked at her watch amazed.
"Have you ever timed yourself under water? That had to be about twenty minutes! I'm probably ready to drown by three or four." Lana admitted.
Clark sat down beside her and grabbed the hot dog she bought for him. "Most people are. Thanks, I'm pretty hungry now. It didn't even feel that long. I'd say I can probably do up to an hour or two…as much as a full tank of oxygen at least. Speaking of that, I had a great idea for us this weekend. We can rent a boat and some gear and then go sailing out…"
Lana rummaged through his knapsack and pulled out the crystals. "Clark! Is this what you found? They're gorgeous! What is it? I mean, I can tell they're crystals but I've never seen anything like it!"
Clark noticed the crystals did not glow while Lana held them. He put his hand over the pale blue one and a light emanated from beneath his palm. Lana gasped and clung to his arm.
"Don't be scared, Lana. They won't hurt us."
"That only lit up because you touched it. Does this have anything to do with your home planet? The green one reminds me a little of Kryptonite."
Clark felt a confidence in his origins he never had before. "I think it does and that's why I can't bring these back to the Bureau. Not until I find out what their purpose is or if they even have one."
Lana placed them carefully in his bag. "I understand, Clark, but Jackson is gonna be pretty disappointed we didn't come across anything."
"Will he? He's usually smug about these things because he always wants to shoot down new discoveries. But anyway, who says Superboy didn't find anything? Look again."
Lana stared at him confused and dug deeper into his bag, she pulled out a jagged piece of black and brown rock and laughed.
"So Superboy found an old meteor. As simple as that."
"Exactly, no harm, no foul, just a little piece of space that sank in the ocean. The end."
Lana and Clark finished off their lunch and went to the jeep. As they buckled in, Lana looked at Clark's profile and grazed his cheek with a kiss.
"What special thing did you have planned for us this weekend?"
Clark stared at her wide-eyed. "You actually heard me?"
"Clark, believe it or not, I'm always listening. The word sailing sounded intriguing."
Lana glowed as much as the crystals in anticipation of going on a boating date. Clark refused to have her get involved with any of the details. This was his surprise for her and he would obtain the boat and anything else they needed. Lana strolled into the building, flushed with excitement. Matt hurried over.
"So, what happened? What did you find? The real explanation for the Bermuda Triangle? Jimmy Hoffa? The haunted Mary Celeste? Wooohhhh." He wiggled his fingers over Lana teasingly.
Clark laughed and walked over, tossing the meteor hand to hand. "Nope! Superboy pulled out this little rock, nothing more or less. It was just one of those things. If Jackson doesn't want a new paperweight, I'll go file it away under 'Junk.' "
The alarm clock read two-am and Clark tossed and turned in his bed. Stunning images of a palatial crystal dwelling invaded his mind. He could hear a male voice–authoritative, yet gentle and comforting and felt a strong hand stroke his infant hair.
"It's going to be fine, my son. You will live and thrive in this new world. I am assured of it. I know you will be an immense force for good on this planet called Earth. I have a deep faith in you."
Clark sensed a sudden calm, and he saw his infant self pressed tightly against a beautiful woman's breast as she hurriedly swaddled him in a red piece of cloth with a yellow 'S' emblazoned on it.
"Hush now, my little Kal-El. Hush. I love you, my baby. One day you will come to know how much so. May the God of the Universe be with you, my son."
He heard the infant crying as the grand structures shook and collapsed around them. Screams echoed in the distance and fierce alarms resounded. He saw a flash of light and an image of the man and woman who tenderly placed him in the tiny ship–A tall, handsome man with silvered-black hair, striking blue eyes and a strong, celestial visage. The woman was tall too, with long, dark tresses that cascaded past her shoulders and teary, gentle blue eyes set amongst round, pretty features. They wore silvery-white outfits that harbored an unearthly glow. Emblazoned across their chests were the Kryptonian crests. They stood silent and brave, holding and comforting one another amongst the dire calamity. Clark felt a shaking and a burst of energy that seemed to propel him into the depths of space…
He awoke in a cold sweat. He rubbed his eyes, dissipating the last of the vision. He had seen his true parents. He heard a low clicking from his knapsack that grew louder and louder. Soon, objects around his apartment shook, pictures of Lana, his family, and friends rattled upon his walls. He saw the glow again, trying to force its way out through any orifice in the fabric. He ran up to it and transformed himself into Superboy. When he clutched the crystals, the shaking stopped and the light dimmed. It was unsafe to leave these crystals out of his sight.
Kal told him where he needed to go. He needed to make his way to the Arctic and learn about his true purpose. He would need that solitude.
Clark gazed out the window, he would have to call Lana and explain to her what he must do and that he would be gone for a while. He would have to tell his parents and that he needed them to conjure up a family emergency he could tell his boss. He reflected on the words of his older self from the Utopian dimension he once visited. He felt it in his heart that the time had come, the time when he wouldn't be known as 'Superboy' any longer.