By Kermtzu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: May 2008
Summary: A follow-up to the author's "Show Off." Clark's celestial celebration at the birth of his daughter Lara, as seen through the eyes of others.
Thanks to BJ for beta reading and spotting some doozies of mistakes. This story came about from an idea she mentioned when I posted "Show Off." Both are very much appreciated! Carolm had some good advice as well; thanks! Thanks to Rona for GE work!
Note: I don't like the New Kryptonians and never did. Ergo, they never happened in this nor ever will in any of my stories. Sorry, Lord Nor. Now if you had been General Zod, maybe we could've negotiated. "Kneel before Zod, son of Jor-El!" Wicked.
Words in asterisks denote emphasis.
Jonathan and Martha Kent sat on a bale of straw with their backs up against the barn. A large jug of pink lemonade between them, they were enjoying the drink along with the spectacular lightshow provided by their son. Between the Aurora, fireworks, and the gentle glow of fireflies in the wheat fields, the sight was the best Jonathan Kent could remember in all his years on the farm.
"You know, Martha," said Jonathan, "I think this is the first time I've ever really seen Clark hot-dogging it. He used to juggle fieldstones for fun, but I've never really seen him like this."
"That's just because he's combining his love for Lois and that little girl with his love for flying. He's doing what every proud Papa does, just doing it Clark style," smiled Martha.
"I wish we'd been there, Martha. We should have known Lara would show up early, what with her father always itching to travel and see the world from a young age. I can hardly wait for that flight to Metropolis tomorrow."
With the ease and contentment of lifelong friends with love shared between them, Clark's parents watched the Aurora and fireworks, both marveling how incredibly their lives had changed in thirty years: the horrible day when they'd learned they could not have children, the discovery of their miraculous boy, and now the addition of their beloved Lois and birth of their first grandchild.
"We did all right, didn't we, Jonathan?"
He reached over and squeezed her hand. "We sure did, Martha. We sure did."
Perry leaned back, enjoying a puff of what looked and tasted suspiciously to him like a Cuban cigar, but he knew Clark was too honest a person to bring one into the United States. He pretended to ignore Jimmy, who had lit his, inhaled, whitened and then turned green all in about five seconds. Perry wasn't a fan of smoking, but figured just one cigar wasn't going to hurt him unless Alice smelled it on his clothes. The two men sat on a bench in Centennial Park, with a terrific view of the sky. Superman's aerial display had quickly been named Aurora Kryptonis, and thanks to a tip earlier from Clark, Jimmy had been set up for night photography and taken dozens of quality photographs of the Aurora for the Planet's morning edition. Jimmy and Perry were now free to just sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
Using a cough to try and cover a tobacco choke, Jimmy wheezed out, "He's really putting on a show, Chief. For such a quiet guy, Clark can really get going."
Perry smiled at his protégé. "Son, you forget that we almost always see him with Lois. He could have a purple tail and breath fire and we wouldn't notice him if Lois was hot on the trail of a story. I think that's when I had my first suspicions about Clark -- there was no way anyone human could keep up with Lois Lane."
"I can't believe you figured it out, Chief. I'm just glad he opened up that one night during our poker game, or I'd still be in the dark. Here Clark says that he's tired of lying to us, that he's Superman, and it turns out you already knew! It's really weird being in on the biggest secret in the world."
Perry drawled off into one of his 'you don't get to be editor by not knowing things' stories, or maybe it was a bit of Elvis wisdom; Jimmy wasn't sure. He just wanted to enjoy the show and get the horrible taste of tobacco out of his mouth.
Lex Luthor stood impassively in the center of the New Troy Rehabilitation Center. The warden had allowed the prisoners out to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime show, and while the guards were fully alert for any indication of trouble, the general population was as enthralled as everyone else on the planet. Every prisoner, that is, except for Lex Luthor. He stood immobile in the center of the recreation area, his arms folded behind his back. There was a fair deal of crowding in the yard with all inmates out at once, but every felon in the Center knew well enough to keep their distance. Luthor did nothing, said nothing, yet no one stood within several feet of him. Had he spoken aloud for a bottle of water, one would be handed to him within a matter of seconds. Even as a prisoner, Lex Luthor was the most important person in the entire structure, and all knew it.
His thoughts were awhirl. What was the alien doing? This was nothing at all like his normal behavior. Superman would normally appear at some need, quietly yet impressively perform whatever was necessary, then fly away. The only time that Luthor had ever seen him appear to boast or brag was when he had mangled the Macedonian sword of Alexander the Great by twisting it like a pretzel. Superman had been angry about the series of tests to determine his abilities; Luthor still wondered how Superman had learned of his involvement. Well, that was a thought for another time, when he was free again to run his city. Also for another time was that same sword of Alexander's, which Luthor had had painstakingly repaired and then improved a bit with a light glazing of Kryptonite. The greenish-tinged light would be the last thing the alien would ever see, the sting of the blade the last thing he ever felt. Luthor had a showcase already prepared to display the suit.
Leo Nunk sat at his desk trying to work an angle. His near-death by electrocution had convinced him to avoid actual reporting and stick to what he did best: making things up. His usual method of doing this was to use three boxes: the first containing names of celebrities; the second, sensational verbs or activities; and the third, diseases and vices. Pulling a slip from each and tossing them together for a scandal salad just wasn't going to work this time. He couldn't just make something up when everyone was actually seeing it for themselves. It was easy to embroider a story about a reclusive Superman; who would know if the story were true or not? Much harder to make up a story about a superhero who'd been on public display for hours.
And why was Superman zipping here and there, being so splashy? Why expend so much energy?
That was it! The hook he needed. He booted up his word processing program and began to type.
'SUPERMAN'S POWER OUT OF CONTROL -- SCIENTISTS SAY HE WILL EXPLODE IN A MATTER OF DAYS!'
Colonel Haskins stood still behind the operators at computers and banks of detection equipment. He was impatient for their findings, but unlike his predecessor, he would allow them to do their jobs and not berate his hand-picked men and women. He wanted accurate information, not something forced out under duress. From time to time information would be provided by various technicians:
"Compilation of speed data almost complete. He accelerates to a significant fraction of light speed once outside the Earth's atmosphere, and slows upon return. We're having some difficulty following him at his fastest speeds."
"Colonel, we've pinpointed the coordinates he visits on the far side of the Moon. We're working to divert an EPRAD probe into position. We've gotten into their system, and our MIS division is working on the viral rider programming."
"Sir, we've overridden launch codes for three missiles already, and should have another five within the hour. Our people are in place in another two bunkers for manual launch as well."
"Our computer simulation is projecting that light from the Aurora has already traveled almost a half billion miles, and is now calculating resolution loss and magnification ability needed to observe it from outside our solar system."
That last bit of information was what concerned Colonel Haskins. The alien was obviously signaling his compatriots while distracting humanity with the fireworks, but why do it now and what was the meaning given by the Aurora? To attack? Hold off? Send reinforcements? Haskins was certain the Nightfall asteroid had been aimed at Earth by Superman's fellows, and only blind luck had prevented Superman from using the asteroid to smash the Earth and weaken humanity's defenses. Was this a signal for a secondary attack? Damn that Trask for his impulsivity! Whatever he had learned about the alien's abilities and weaknesses had died with him. Haskins and his covert division of the military were all standing between the Earth and alien invasion. Haskins did know one thing for certain amongst all the data streaming in: Superman was certain to slip up somehow in this very public display, and when he did, Bureau 39 would be ready.
Lois sat up in her bed. She and the baby were still in the hospital for observation after Lara's three-week early arrival, but a healthier baby could hardly be imagined. Lois looked down at her child, who was steadily gazing up at her mother.
At *her*. Lois. A wife and mother. Two concepts that seemed impossible singly, let alone combined, to the woman she had been a few short years ago: career-driven and trusting no one. Why trust? Everyone had some angle, everyone held a secret. Good thing for her that Clark's angle had been to pursue her patiently for no reason other than his love, and his secret was that the most powerful man in the world was also the kindest and most gentle soul she knew.
She gestured toward the window, as the privacy curtain had been pulled aside. "That's your Daddy, Lara. He's the nice man that's been holding you ever since *I* did all the work, lived through the pain and labored to bring you into the world, while *he* just stood there being invulnerable."
Lois knew that Lara couldn't see her Daddy, of course. From what she and Clark had read, babies couldn't even focus their eyes right away, so of course Superman was out of focus to the infant.
Still, the books had also said that the baby's eyes would be blue or gray at first and nothing like Lara's, a bright shamrock green. Looking again at her daughter, Lois would swear she saw her smile upwards at the heavens.
(until Shown Off, coming soon to a fanfic site near you!)