Neighbors in the North
December 14, 2006, somewhere in the Artic
On the vast, white wastes of the Artic, there was nothing to been seen for miles, especially not now as the winter night descended. Breaking the horizon was a large structure, apparently made entirely out of crystal. The inside was equally vast, with large rooms made of crystal. The entire structure seemed abandoned, except for one person.
He was a teenage boy, with black hair and vibrant blue eyes. Despite the environment, he wore a plaid button-up shirt and black t-shirt, with a pair of worn jeans and sneakers. He looked forlornly around as he walked through the halls of the building.
"Fortress of Solitude indeed," he mumbled to himself.
"Computer? What date is it?" he asked, seemingly to no one.
Suddenly a series of red symbols appeared in front of him. He looked at them with confusion before sighing in irritation.
"The Earth date, computer," he said with a note of annoyance in his voice.
The symbols quickly changed, displaying the date.
"Almost Christmas," Clark noted with a sigh, "Spending Christmas by yourself this year, Clark. What are you going to do?"
Clark stood for a few moments, lost in thought. Then his eyes lit up as a thought came to him.
"Computer, can you find a piece of Earth media called, "It's a Wonderful Life?"" Clark asked with a hopeful expression.
Outside what could be considered the front of Clark's fortress, silence sat on the air for miles, broken only by the sound of the wind sweeping the artic plains. Suddenly, the sound of jingling bells could be heard as quick flashes of white light happened near the large door.
"Whoa!" a high pitched voice whispered, "look at the size of it!"
"Is it made out of ice?" another voice, strangely similar, asked.
"No," a third, feminine sounding voice replied, "It's crystal!"
"Crystal?" the first voice questioned, "Who could make a building like this out of crystal?"
"Maybe it's an evil witch intent on enslaving us!" the second voice guessed, fear in his voice.
"Or maybe it's aliens who will do horrible experiments on us!" The first added, his voice quaking.
"Or maybe you two slush-for-brains are just a bunch of chickens!" the girl voice snapped, followed by the sound of two heads slamming together and a duet of painful cries.
"Now, you two know what our jobs are so let's get in there and do it!" she ordered.
"But how do we get it?" the first voice asked.
"Yeah, it doesn't look like there's a door," the second voice observed, "Let alone a chimney."
"Well you ninnymungins, how did we get here in the first place?" the female voice asked.
"Magic," the first two voices replied simultaneously, a note of embarrassment in their voices.
"That's right, now come on!" the female voice ordered before there was another flash of light and the ringing of bells.
Inside, the dark halls were illuminated by a bright flash, before darkening again.
"Wow," the first voice said in wonder, "This place is huge!"
"Shush!" the female voice whispered harshly, "Do you hear that?"
The sounds of people talking floated down the hall. Slowly, the three figures snuck down the crystal corridor in the direction of the voices. Eventually, they came to a door way where light spilled out into the hallway. The three figures slowly snuck up and peaked in.
Inside the room was a man sitting on some kind of crystal chair that was hovering a few feet off the ground. He was watching a holographic projection a few feet in front of him.
"What is it you want, Mary? What do you want?" They heard a voice say, "You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary."
"He's watching 'It's a Wonderful Life,"" the female voice said, looking at the projection.
"Hey, where did he go?" the second voice asked. They all looked at the chair and were surprised to see it was empty.
"Um, hello?" a voice said from behind them. They all let out a shriek of fright and jumped forward, whirling around to face Clark.
Clark examined the three people in front of him. At least he thought they were people. They were only about three feet tall and had heads that seemed slightly too large for their bodies. One was a girl, while the other two were boys who looked very similar to each other. They each had large eyes, the girl's were blue while the boys had brown ones. The girl had short, straight blond hair while the two boys had short, curly brown hair. They had pale skin, small pointy noses and large, pointed ears. The boys had small, pointed, green hats that ended in bells. The girl had a similar one, though colored blue. The two boys wore long green shirts while the girl wore a blue dress. They each wore similarly colored tights, and matching pointed shoes that also ended in bells.
"Um, who are you guys?" Clark asked in confusion, "For that matter, what are you guys?"
"We're elves?" the girl suggested.
Clark just stared at her with a surprised expression.
"You know what elves are right?" she asked, "You know make toys, live at the North Pole?"
"Yes, I know what elves are," Clark replied, "I've just never met one before."
"Well I guess we should introduce ourselves," the girl said, "I'm Holly, and these two are the twins, Jingle and Jangle. So what's your name?"
"I'm Clark Kent," Clark introduced himself, "So…what are you guys doing here?"
"Basically, trying to figure out what you're doing here," Holly answered.
"Me?" Clark asked.
"Yeah, you didn't think that Santa wouldn't wonder why a castle made of crystal just appeared out of nowhere?" Holly asked.
"Well I guess I didn't think anyone would mind," Clark replied with embarrassment.
"Why's that?" Holly questioned with suspicion.
"I guess…I didn't really believe you guys existed," Clark admitted.
The elves let out gasps as they looked at Clark with shock.
"Sorry," Clark said, scratching his head in embarrassment. Holly let out a humph while crossing her arms and looking away.
"So what are you doing here, Clark?" Jingle asked.
"I guess I'm here to figure out who I am," Clark answered.
"Who you are?" Jangle asked, "You're Clark Kent, you just told us."
"Well, that's true, but that's not all that I am," Clark responded.
"What do you mean?" Holly questioned.
"Well, I'm not exactly human," Clark explained.
"What does that mean?" Jingle asked.
"I'm an alien. A Kryptonian in fact," Clark stated.
"An alien?" Holly said in amazement.
"Oh no!" Jangle exclaimed, "I told you it was an alien! Now he's going to perform unspeakable experiments on us!"
"You dunderhead!" Holly exclaimed, hitting Jangle on the head, "You think he would be standing here talking to us if he was going to do that?"
"Yeah, I guess," Jangle admitted, rubbing his head.
"Besides you don't look like an alien," Jingle observed.
"Yeah, shouldn't you be green at the very least?" Holly asked.
"Heh, you'd think so, wouldn't you?" Clark replied, "Turns out Kryptonians looked a lot like humans. A great big cosmic coincidence. It's the reason why I was sent here though, so I could fit in better."
"Why were you sent here?" Holly asked.
Clark became silent as he ran a hand through his hair.
"A number of years ago, while I was still a baby, Krypton was attacked," Clark began.
"What happened?" Jangle asked with a worried expression.
"It was…destroyed," Clark answered with a hint of sadness in his voice.
The elves let out gasps of shock, Holly covering her mouth while the twins hugged each other.
"My father was a scientist. He built a small rocket ship that he sent me here in, right before the planet was destroyed," Clark continued.
"That's so sad," Holly said, her large eyes watering, "So are you…?"
"The last of my kind? I think so," Clark answered.
"Wow," Jingle said in amazement.
"It's not all bad though. My parents…well my adopted parents, found me when I crashed here and took care of me," Clark explained.
"So how did you build this place?" Holly asked.
"My father created this crystal and sent it with me. It expanded into this," Clark explained, holding his hands above his head while floating into the air.
"Wow, it's like magic," Jingle commented before looking at Clark, "Sweet Christmas, you're flying!"
"Oh," Clark said, glancing down to make sure that he was indeed flying, "Yeah, I can do that, among other things. Another advantage to being an alien I guess."
"Wow," the elves said collectively.
"So now I think I'll ask some questions," Clark said as he landed, "How did you guys get in here?"
"Easy, we used our magic," Holly explained, before demonstrating by disappearing then reappearing next to Clark in a flash of light and a jingle of bells.
"Magic, huh?" Clark questioned.
The elves nodded in affirmation.
"I guess Kryptonians never dealt with a lot of magic," Clark summarized, before turning back to the elves, "So now what?"
The elves looked at each other, searching for an answer, before turning back to Clark and shrugging.
"I guess we should take you to meet the boss," Holly suggested.
"You want me to meet Santa Claus?" Clark asked.
"Sure why not?" Holly said with a shrug, "I'm sure he'd love to meet you."
"Alright," Clark agreed, "So how do we get there?"
"Just leave that to us," Holly replied with a smirk.
Suddenly, there was another bright flash of light, this one blinding Clark as bells jingled in his ears.
Suddenly, Clark found himself outside. Looking around, he saw he was standing on a road leading to a large city. The city loomed above him, located on a gently rising hill. All the buildings were made of brick, and looked like early twentieth century architecture. At the top of the hill was a large factory. Before them stood an open gateway, above which was written "Christmas Town."
"Wow," Clark said with wonder as he took the sight in.
"Come on," Jingle said as he waved Clark on.
"We'll show you around!" Jangle added.
The elves quickly rushed forward and Clark followed. Looking around, Clark saw that the streets were lit with old fashioned streetlamps. Looking at some of the buildings, he saw that they were homes and were sized appropriately for the elves. The snow shone with the reflected lights from the various sources, giving the place an unnatural shine that Clark found beautiful.
They continued to walk up what Clark noticed was a cobblestone road. A large dinging noise caught their attention as a train gate descended in front of them. Looking down, Clark saw that a set of tracks cross the road in front of them. Looking to his left, Clark saw a tunnel while to his right the tracks continued onwards between some buildings. A train horn sounded, before a steam locomotive flew by, pulling some passenger cars behind it. Clark saw that across the side of locomotive was the name "Polar Express." Clark continued to watch it go, before the gate raised and the elves dragged him along.
They continued along the road, and Clark began to see more activity. Other elves were bustling about, carrying items between the buildings. Some stopped and stared at Clark as he walked by, whispering between themselves.
"Don't worry about it," Holly whispered, "We just don't get many big people around here, so seeing a new one will cause quite a stir."
They continued to walk as they moved towards the center of the city. Elves scurried around them, carrying tools and supplies while others pulled sleighs of toys. There were also some even larger sleighs being pulled by reindeer. Clark smiled as he took in all the sights around him.
"Merry Christmas!" a loud voice declared.
Looking down the street, he saw a man walking his way. He was an older man, with a hunched posture. He was skinny, with a long hooked nose and straggly white hair. He dressed in what looked like clothing from the nineteenth century, with a top hat and red scarf wrapped around his neck. He walked jauntily down the street, using a simple cane to support him.
"Who is that?" Clark asked.
"That's Mr. Scrooge," Jingle answered.
"Scrooge?" Clark questioned, "As in Ebenezer Scrooge?"
"You've heard of him?" Jangle asked. Holly rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Yes, I've heard of him," Clark replied, "I'm just surprised to see him here."
"Well, he's part of the Christmas legend, isn't he?" Holly suggested.
"I suppose he is," Clark agreed with a shrug.
As they walked along, Clark saw another sleigh coming in from another street. It was bigger than the others with a large, almost teetering pile of presents on it. Clark also noted that the sleigh was being pulled by a single donkey. Suddenly, the donkey came to a halt. The elf who was manning the sleigh quickly hopped of the sleigh and tried to urge the donkey onwards.
"Come on, Dominic!" the elf shouted as he tried to drag the donkey along, "Don't do this to me now!"
As the elf tried to get the donkey to move, there was a loud crash from the direction the sleigh had come from.
"Oops!" another voice yelled, before another crash came right behind the sleigh. As Clark watched, the pile of presents began to teeter and fall, right towards where Scrooge was walking.
"Look out!" another elf yelled catching Scrooge's attention. Looking up, he shouted in fear as the presents fell at him. Suddenly, Clark appeared besides him in a blur of motion, and held up his hands, easily catching the falling packages. Easily hoisting the packages above his head, he turned to the older man.
"Are you alright, Mr. Scrooge?" Clark asked, looking down at Scrooge.
"Yes, my boy," Scrooge answered, "Thanks to you."
"That's good to hear," Clark replied as he adjusted the things he was carrying.
"By Jove, boy," Scrooge said with amazement, "You must have the strength of Hercules!"
Clark smiled as he set the packages down. Looking over, he saw the elf who was driving the sleigh starting to pick up the packages.
"Watch where you're going next time, Buddy!" he shouted down the street.
"Sorry!" an unseen voice replied.
"Let me help you with that," Clark offered before darting around at super speed. In a blur of motion and snow, he had gathered up the packages and placed them in a pile back on the sleigh.
"And the speed of Mercury to boot!" Scrooge shouted with delight.
"Thanks, Mr. Scrooge," Clark replied, scratching the back of his head with one hand as he rested the other on the donkey's hindquarters. This seemed to stir the donkey into moving and it began to slowly pull the sleigh again.
"Oh, now you move!" the elf said in frustration before hopping back on the sleigh and taking the reins, continuing on his way.
After traveling for a bit longer, Clark and the elves arrived at the top of the hill. Passing through an arched gateway, they found themselves in a large courtyard. Clark looked in amazement at the large building before him. It was made mostly of brick, with two wings on either side of the main part, forming a U shape around the courtyard. The middle section had large doors leading into it, in addition to a large clock tower situated at its middle. In the middle of the courtyard was the largest fir tree Clark had ever seen, decorated from top to bottom with various Christmas lights and ornaments.
"This is the main factory," Holly explained, "This is where all the big stuff gets done. This is also where the boss takes off for his Christmas flight."
"Wow," Clark said in amazement.
"Yeah," Jingle agreed.
"It's pretty cool," Jangle added.
"Come on, let's go introduce you to the boss," Holly said, motioning them to follow her as they crossed the courtyard. They went through another, smaller door. It led to a more open area, with a small path cutting through the snow to a cozy, wooden house. They walked down the path until they reached the door and Holly knocked.
After a few moments, the door opened, revealing a woman. She seemed to be along in years, with white hair and a few wrinkles. However, Clark was struck by how beautiful she was, with a slim build and a graceful look to her. She had brilliant blue eyes with no pupils, and her hair was tied up in a long braid that ran down her back. Clark also noticed that her ears had a point to them. She wore a long green dress with red trimming that hung off her shoulders.
"It appears we have visitors," she observed, giving a small smile.
"Good evening, Mrs. Claus," the elves greeted in unison.
"Hello Holly, Jingle, Jangle," she greeted in return, before turning her eyes to Clark, "It seems you've brought someone new."
"Uh, yes," Clark spoke up, still slightly caught off guard, "I'm Clark Kent."
"He lives in the big crystal castle that Santa wanted us to check out," Jingle explained.
"I see," Mrs. Claus said, nodding in understanding, "Well please come in, Clark. You three can come as well."
"Thanks Mrs. Claus, but I think we better get back to work," Holly explained.
"Very well," Mrs. Claus replied.
"It's been great to meet you, Clark," Holly said with a smile.
"I hope we get to see you again," Jingle added.
"Count on it," Clark responded.
The three elves waved goodbye before disappearing in a flash of light and the jingling of bells.
"Come in Clark, I'm sure my husband is eager to meet you," Mrs. Claus said while beckoning Clark inside. Clark nodded his head and went inside. Looking around, Clark saw that the house was big, but still cozy. The building was made of wood, and had many wooden and wicker furnishings. A chandelier made of antlers hung in the hallway, and a small fire blazed in the fire place of the living room to his right. Mrs. Claus beckoned him into the living room while she walked into it herself.
"Have a seat, Clark," she said, indicating to a beautifully crafted wooden chair, "I'll go fetch my husband."
Clark took the seat as Mrs. Claus left the room. A few moments later she returned with a very recognizable man in tow. He stood almost as tall as Clark and had a very wide, stout build. He had white hair and a bushy white beard. His eyes where blue and twinkled with warmth and he wore a small pair of glasses over them. He wore a simple, white t-shirt and red pants, with suspenders pulled over his shoulders. He also wore a pair of black boots. His hands were slightly dirty and Clark guessed that he had been working on something.
"Ah, Clark!" he greeted, acting like Clark was an old friend, "It's good to finally meet you in person."
He walked over and held out his hand, which Clark gladly shook.
"You know who I am?" Clark asked.
"Of course! I'm Santa Claus," Santa explained.
"I guess that makes sense," Clark relented.
"So, you're the one that lives in that crystal castle next door?" Santa asked as he sat down in a wooden rocking chair, his wife sitting in one next to it.
"Yes, I am," Clark answered.
"How did you make it? Why are you here?" Santa asked, stroking his beard.
"It's a long story," Clark replied.
"I've got the time," Santa responded.
"Alright," Clark relented. He told Santa everything, growing up on the farm, his interactions with the M.I.B., fighting Sinestro and the death of D. Finally he told him what the Green Lantern had told him about his people and discovery the pod that he had come here in and the crystals inside, before finishing with telling them about his journey to the north and the creation of the Fortress.
"Oh my," Mrs. Claus said, her voice full of sympathy, "You poor boy."
"That's a lot to handle, son," Santa said with a look of concern, "You have my sympathies."
"Thanks," Clark replied, feeling more comforted then he thought he would.
"So, can I ask you some questions?" Clark asked.
"Of course!" Santa replied happily.
"Why are you here?" Clark asked, before rephrasing, "I mean how did you come to be here?"
"Well that is also a long story, perhaps for another time. But I can tell you why I'm here, at the North Pole."
"What do you mean?" Clark asked.
"I'll go get us something to eat," Mrs. Claus said, patting Santa on his knee. He smiled at her in return.
"First, I should explain something to you, Clark," Santa began, "I'm not exactly human."
"What do you mean?" Clark asked confused.
"I'm what is called a Fable," Santa stated.
"What is a Fable?" Clark questioned.
"A Fable is a fictional character. A person created in the imagination of another person," Santa explained.
"So you're…not real?" Clark asked, clearly confused.
"Well of course I am," Santa laughed, "What's different is where I came from."
"Where did you come from?" Clark asked.
"I came from a realm in a place known as the Dreaming," Santa explained.
"The Dreaming?" Clark questioned.
"Yes, it is a place where all the combined thoughts and dreams of the human race, perhaps even more, are collected. There, everything that could be imaginary, is real."
"Wow," Clark said, stunned, "How did you get here?"
"Well, that is a sad story," Santa answered, his face falling, "A few centuries ago, a conqueror the likes that had never been seen rose up. He swept across the various realms, defeating and subjugating all who stood in his way. We called him the Adversary. Some Fables were able to escape here to the real world through various portals. That's how me and my family came to live here. As far as I know, he now controls all of the realms of the European Fables."
"Wow," Clark said in amazement, "He sounds like a pretty bad guy."
"Yes he is," Santa answered, "But you shouldn't trouble yourself with it. We're safe here, and that's what matters."
"Still, I wish I could help," Clark replied.
"The sincerity in your voice helps a great deal Clark," Santa said sincerely.
"Now, that's enough of this depressing talk," Mrs. Claus said as she walked back into the room, "How about some refreshments?"
"Ho ho!" Santa laughed happily, "Milk and cookies, my favorite!"
Clark just smiled as Mrs. Claus offered him some snacks.
Clark stepped out onto the Claus' front porch, with the two owners following him out.
"Well, it's been nice to meet you," Clark said with a smile.
"It was nice to meet you too, Clark," Mrs. Claus replied.
"Now, don't be a stranger, Clark," Santa said, shacking Clark's hand, "We're neighbors now."
"Sure thing," Clark replied.
"Do you need one of the elves to bring you back to your home?" Mrs. Claus asked.
"No, I think I can manage," Clark answered before rising into the air.
"Have a good night!" he called before flying off into the cloudy Artic sky.
"Amazing," Santa said in wonder.
"I don't think you'll be able to get him to pull your sleigh, dear," Mrs. Claus teased.
Santa smiled at his wife, before he turned and followed her back into their house.
The Fortress of Solitude was dark and quiet, the only sound being the wind blowing outside. Suddenly, within the central chamber, a gust of wind sprung up. It flowed in a circle, kicking up flecks of previously unseen snow. Eventually, the wind died down, revealing Santa Claus, now in his full suit, standing in its wake.
Santa looked around, taking in the sight of the room around him with a look of amazement of his face. Hefting his sack over his shoulder, he continued through the Fortress. Eventually, he came to the room where Clark was sleeping. Sneaking inside, he opened his sack and retrieved a present, before placing it at the foot of Clark's bed.
Sneaking back out of the room, Santa made his way back to the chamber from which he had arrived. He prepared to leave, when a sense of curiosity came over him. He walked over to the large control panel. He looked at it in confusion for a few moments, before waving his hand over it, causing a snow-like substance to fall over it. Instantly, the crystal computer sprang to life. As Santa watched in amazement, the holographic image of what could only be Clark's father appeared and began to speak to him.
"Hello, my son. I am Jor-El, of the planet Krypton and I am your father. By the time you hear this, I will be long dead. Krypton, our world, has been beset by a great evil, a being known as Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds – our world is doomed. To save you from our fate, your mother – Lara – and I have sent you to Earth. There, you will have power that no human can match, as your Kryptonian body draws strength from Earth's yellow sun. I have designed this structure, this Fortress of Solitude, to teach you of your heritage, your abilities...and my hopes for you, Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton. They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. And for this reason above all others, their capacity for good, I have sent them a light...for I have sent them you, my only son. Live among them, Kal-El, and find where your great power is most needed. You must never directly interfere in their natural development; that is forbidden by our highest laws. Instead, lead by example, my son; show them that there is a better way, through your actions. There may be those on Earth who will fear and hate you for what you can do, my son. Do not be disheartened, for no matter what happens...your mother and I love you. Be happy, my beloved son. Farewell."
The image slowly dimmed before disappearing completely. Santa sighed before waving his hand over the consul again, causing it to shut down.
"Now, I don't know where Kryptonians go when they die," Santa said as he looked up at the ceiling, "But if you can hear me up there, Mr. Jor-El, I'd like you know that your son is doing alright here. I also wanted to thank you. I think you've sent us a great gift. And I know a thing or two about gifts. You're son's going to do great things, I can feel it."
Santa smiled as he hefted his sack back onto his shoulder. Looking back in the direction that Clark's room was, his smile grew.
"Merry Christmas, Kal-El," he said with a smile, before disappearing in a gust of air and a cloud of snow.
A/N: Well better late than never, here's a little Christmas special I decided to put in. Took a bit longer to write then I thought it would but oh well. Before you guys ask and if I didn't make it obvious, this is canon with my other stories. Don't expect it to have a huge impact, but I figured since I already showed that Santa exists in this world, I might as well have a scenario where he investigates the Fortress of Solitude. I hope you guys liked it and bonus points for those who notice the various Christmas references I made. Hope you guys liked it and a belated happy holidays to everyone!