Sequel to 'Cerulean'
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. They are the property of DC Comics, Time Warner, etc.
"Welcome back to 'Kaleidoscope.' I'm speaking with Iris West Allen, author of the new book The Life Story of the Flash. Thank you for staying on another segment, Mrs. Allen."
"Iris, Clark. I'm not that old."
The audience laughed.
"Iris, you write in your book about Barry Allen the hero. What was he like as a man? As a husband?"
"He was a man who tried his best to do the right thing everyday. He was a genuinely considerate and compassionate man. He loved his fellow citizen and had the utmost respect for the law."
"You have written in-depth about the infamous 'Zoom' trial in which he was accused-later acquitted-- of murder. What was that time like for him?"
"Well...it was terrible for him and our family. Unfortunately, I wasn't around for the bulk of it-"
"--your time travel experiences-"
"Yes...I've had the opportunity to 'bounce' around a bit in time and space. Not always by choice...I think the point, Clark, is that no matter the situation or trial, Barry faced his problems and dealt with them. He did not shy from his responsibilities. He had a destiny and he fulfilled it. How many of us can say the same?"
"I've been speaking with Iris West Allen about her new book. We'll be right back after this short commercial break."
The stage lights eased a bit and Iris stood, clasping Clark's hand... "You're doing fine."
Clark wasn't so certain. He was worried he might look 'green' on-air. He didn't want to look like an idiot. It was important to him that he performed well. Mr. Scott had high expectations for the show.
"Barry would've liked you. Maybe you can come down to Keystone City sometime for dinner? My nephew Wally and his wife Linda are great cooks."
"Thank you for the invitation, Iris. I will definitely think about it. I do need to meet new people. That's very kind of you."
"Alan made a good choice, Clark. Make this show as great as you can. And don't look so sad...you're an attractive, successful young man. Enjoy life. Make it work for you. There's always time for new beginnings. Always."
Clark sat in the studio cafeteria and listened to the chatter around him. He wasn't social like he once was and large crowds now made him somewhat uneasy.
Lex had adored crowds.
"Great show, Kent. Fabulous! You're gonna be a star!"
Snapper Carr was head publicist for the network and a complete fake. Air kisses and endless gossip. But that was his job. Clark just grinned painfully and begged out of conversation, heading to the washroom.
He stood in front of the mirror for a long while, staring at his reflection. He wasn't aging; the body still perfect, the face unlined, the tan still rich and dark. He wished his could age. Age brought a sense of comfort and maturity.
Age brought weakness, it introduced physical limits, and boundaries. His powers were more pronounced now than ever. That was one of the reasons he generally refused to use them.
The state of the world was not his responsibility.
He used his gifts now only to help his mother out. To drive new fence posts or plow the few remaining fields at the farm. To paint the barn or repair the plumbing at Kent's-On-The-Green.
Martha Kent would smile and bring him lemonade. They would talk at length about nothing important; the latest movie or a pair of shoes she had bought.
He liked the way his mother looked on her porch, her rapidly graying hair swept to the side, her wrinkled hands turning the pages of a book. Her eyes wistful and glad to have seen such a full life. She still missed his father, of course.
He thought about his father every minute.
"You were great with Clark, Iris."
"He's a good kid, Alan. Very professional. Where's Molly?"
"She's at happy hour with Mayor Gordon. She should be back in a bit. I know she wants to catch up with you. Drink?"
He handed his old friend a cup of tea. Iris walked over, standing near the windows.
"Iris...is everything alright?"
"He was there, Alan. Jay thinks so, too. One minute we're up on stage about to cut the ribbon for the museum addition and the next thing we know, the power has gone out-"
"It could've been the Rogues-"
"No, Alan. There was no cash on hand. It had to have been someone with immense power. All of the sudden people were frozen in place. Everything faded and shadowed. Jay tried to vibrate himself around to free them but to no avail. Then, in the darkness, we saw the cosmic treadmill come on...Alan, someone was trying to go back in time. You know I hate to say this but it probably was Todd."
Alan Scott put his head in his hands.
"We heard a voice, Alan. It was very quiet at first, then louder. Kept talking about saving the Thorn, standing up to Jim...defending himself. The voice broke down into sobs, Alan. Body wracking kind of sobs. And the room got so cold. It was horrible."
"Thorn...Jim...damn...and then what," Alan asked wearily...
"He obviously couldn't get the treadmill to work. Only Barry knew how to operate it correctly. Jay, Joan & I distinctly heard a voice say 'I'm so sorry' just before the lights came back up."
"I apologize, Iris."
"Apologize? It's not your fault. If it is Todd then we all have to figure a way to pull him out of this darkness. What about Jennie-Lynn? They have always been so close."
"She hasn't heard from him. Their bond has been severed. She's very upset."
"Damn, Alan. You tell her to keep her chin up. We'll figure something out...if I have to call in every favor from Star City to Themyscira, I will.
"I really appreciate your help, seriously."
"Todd's part of the next generation. I don't want to see any of the children of my friends in pain. You've got to have hope, Alan. One thing I have learned in all my different timelines and bodies and experiences is that everything does have a way of righting itself. I've seen the future-you must keep fighting to make things right."
The day he died the sky had been a shade of red Clark had only seen in his visions, in the memories imprinted upon him by the ship. Red like blood, orange like lava, layered and deep. Alive.
Alive, like his father wasn't.
Clark tried not to get stuck in these thoughts. He had a great new job and apartment. A view of the river and a balcony to watch stars from. He was seemingly immortal. Healthy and handsome. He should've been happy.
At night though, when the sun vanished and the wind settled and he slept alone, the tears would fall onto the linen. He would often reach for the body he knew wasn't there, and often he found himself calling out his name.
There would be no reply. Ever.
This night Clark decided to sleep out on the balcony. It was chilly out but the cold didn't affect him and the sky was clear. Brubaker Lane was still, only a cat out hunting for scraps. He'd chosen the apartment in part because of the serene, tree-lined street and family atmosphere. It seemed a happy, stable place; an urban sort of Smallville.
He thought of how Lex would kiss him for hours, lying in the bed. The smell of faded cologne and mint and the lightest hint of sweat. They would make love on the floor, by the door, after four in the morning with the TV on and Lex crowing like a rooster. Clark remembered guiding Lex past the bad nights, the long ones, too much liquor or a repressed idea or memory. Memories of Lionel and sadness.
Clark would always get him through. Up until....
There wasn't much point in thinking about that.
He closed his eyes and hoped for a dreamless sleep.
"How was Barbara?"
"It was great to see Iris. She looks great. Showed me a picture of Bart-that boy is taller than she is! " Molly laughs, then turns serious, rubbing Alan's back "....honey, she told me about the mess at the Flash Museum."
"We've got to do something."
Alan pulled her into a tight embrace, then kissed her lightly on the forehead.
"I made a call, Molly. We're about to do something right now."
As Molly spoke, a portal opened on the bedroom wall. Out from it walked an impeccably dressed figure with a top hat, ruffled collar, and polished cane.
"Ah, Alan & Molly Scott. You requested an audience?"
"Shade....all we want to know is where Todd is. If you've seen him..."
"Jack said your son had vanished once more. If my sources are correct he's drifting in the dark, Green Lantern. It shall take much more than your much lauded 'willpower' to pull him back."
"All I want for him is to be safe."
"Alan, I don't believe he's in any danger. Physical danger, that is..."
The air was frozen and he had a hard time breathing. Clark seemed to be floating but couldn't move.
You are as empty as I am. You just have a better poker face.
Clark couldn't see anything. It felt like a nightmare; he could feel the biting wind in the nothingness burning his skin. The prickling sensation was strangely erotic...
The pressure shifted and Clark found it easier to breathe. He could move but there seemed nowhere to move to.
You don't remember me? Look into my eyes.
Suddenly a pair of dazzling, haunted eyes was inches away from his and Clark stumbled back. He recalled every nightmare he'd ever had. In ten seconds he witnessed Krypton explode and Jor-El praying and Lara screaming and Lex die and Jonathan's final words and the picture on Alan Scott's desk--
"Who are you?!? What do you want from me?"
I am forgotten. I am pain. I am yesterday's hopes....all I feel is regret. Albert tried-
--Al tried. To understand me. He tried to be what I needed. When he kissed me, I thought it was real. But it was only pity. My sister as well. They could never see how deep it goes. How pervasive the shadows are. I am so lonely....most people can't relate. He could. Your guy could. I knew Lex.
Clark reeled at this admission-
"What do you mean you knew him? Did you hurt him? Who the fuck are you?"
There's no need to get upset, Clark. Calm yourself. This dimension will devour you if you allow it. And Lex is beyond any sort of hurt. All he knows is joy now. As for me, I am the Lord of Shadows; this is my realm. I see people's inner fear and anger. Their pain flows through my body. Your lover had many fears and overwhelming anger. Never towards you, of course. Towards his father, himself, even at times, his mother. But never you. I could relate to Lex. I've had issues with fathers myself.
The picture on the desk. The eyes. He knew who this must be. "You're Alan's--"
A man materialized from the dark veil; the brown eyes now framed by a proud, sculpted face. Wavy gold brown hair fell below the ears. A stubborn chin and an elegant neck; his strong, rippling body sheathed in some sort of leather-like navy material, accented here and there with sparkling round gems. Even more handsome than his father.
He drew up close to Clark, whispering in his ear. He smelt of ozone and ice and fresh clay.
"My name is Obsidian. Welcome to the Shadowlands."
Post-story notes: Obsidian is Todd Rice, son of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. Alan did not meet Todd until he was 18, due to manipulations by Alan's first wife, the psychotic Thorn. After Alan was reunited with Todd (and his twin sister Jennie-Lynn), Thorn reappeared in their lives. She killed herself in front of them. Todd has serious emotional issues, which is why I am using him in this story. His adoptive dad, Jim Rice, physically abused him. He has always had a rather ambiguous sexual identity. For those who are interested, check out any issue of "Infinity, Inc." comic series for more on Todd. The Shade is an awesome old-school DC villain/anti-hero; he enjoyed a great role in the "Starman" series of the late-90s/early-2000s.