By Shayne Terry <firstname.lastname@example.org >
Submitted: November 2005
Summary: While on a school trip to Scotland, sixteen-year-old Lois Lane discovers the truth behind a childhood legend and learns to fly.
Visiting Scotland wasn't everything Lois had thought it would be. She'd hoped to find traces of the real culture, to get a feel of history and the personality of the people. Instead, she was staying in a tourist trap.
Every town in Scotland had a couple of places claiming to be the home of the original Wendy Darling, and this place, more decrepit than the others, was no different. It wasn't even the hometown of J.M. Barrie; Kirriemuir was a good forty miles away.
The guide had even talked about periodic Peter Pan sightings, as though Lois and her classmates were ten instead of fully grown sixteen year olds.
She was taking a two week vacation before the beginning of the school term; she was looking forward to her exchange program in Ireland. Visiting England first seemed only fair; after all, she had the next three or four months to explore the green isles.
All the other girls were thrilled with the "authentic" décor, made up to look as though they were stepping back in time. Lois wasn't as thrilled. There were places she'd hoped to see during her two weeks rather than a forgotten town in the middle of nowhere.
Her bad temper had earned her the only single room, when all the other girls were doubling up. She'd have been happier if it was also the only room that didn't seem to have central heating. Luckily, the quilts on the bed were heavy, but she'd been almost grateful for the old fashioned sleepwear provided by the staff. She'd have frozen in her usual T-shirt and panties or light pajamas. She really hadn't packed for a Scottish winter, much less an Irish autumn.
Still, the countryside was beautiful, and the day had been long, and there were a couple of places she was looking forward to seeing a couple of days along in the trip.
Lois lay back and stared at the ceiling, waiting for her thoughts to finally wind down.
"Be sure and keep the window locked, dear." The proprietress had winked at her and said, "You wouldn't want Peter to confuse you with his Wendy. This IS the room where he first met her."
Lois would have been more impressed if she hadn't heard the same story in the last three places they'd stayed. Apparently the tour guide was a J.M. Barrie groupie.
Out of spite, she'd left the window unlocked. She was on the third floor, and nothing could get to her. There was another floor above her, and anyone trying to drop in from the roof would have a very slick and unpleasant climb.
Yet somehow, she couldn't sleep. Maybe it was the silence, the lack of the noises that had become part and parcel of her life since her family had finally moved back to Metropolis. The first two nights had been spent in Edinburgh, where the noises had been comfortingly familiar, even if it was somewhat quieter than back home.
Maybe it was worry about her family. Her mother was drinking again, and her father was simply lost in his work.
It certainly wasn't a longing to meet a character that she'd quit believing in since she was eleven.
Eventually, she relaxed and drifted off to sleep.
He peered in window after window, wondering. Time had no meaning for him; life had been an everlasting dream since she'd given him the Kiss. He still had it; a jeweled stone gleaming red in the darkness. He didn't often take it off his neck these days; when he did he was overwhelmed by feelings that were painful, by memories that didn't seem to bother him when he was wearing it.
The Kiss was the greatest gift the Wendy had ever given him, and yet he always seemed to return, looking to return it, driven by something that he could not understand. She'd welcomed his visits at first, but she'd seemed more and more distant with each passing year. Eventually, she'd stopped coming.
He kept coming faithfully, however, and sometimes he even checked buildings in other towns, just to see if she might have been hiding.
That his yearly visits were never successful didn't perturb him. There were more than enough adventures to keep him busy throughout the year. There was no future, there was no past, there was only an endless now, an eternal summer.
He mostly kept away from the adults, of course, except when an irrepressible urge for mischief overwhelmed him. However, this was getting harder and harder with each passing year. Even the darkest jungles of Africa and South America weren't proof against visitors.
There had even been times that he'd thought that they were going to discover the others, boys who were lost and alone that he'd chosen as his playmates. They never lasted long; in what seemed like the passing of a season they were grown up and gone.
And the years passed, and whatever changes there were in his own body were glacially slow and unnoticed by him. In time, he'd stopped taking any playmates; he too was finally looking older, and the others wouldn't approach him as easily.
But as long as he had his Kiss, he was unperturbed. It's glowing radiation soothed him, made him forget, kept the pain of grief, loss, and guilt forever at bay. Memory became transient, and life was an eternal adventure.
He floated quietly over the roof of the house, sure at last that everyone inside was asleep. His hearing was exceptional, something that it had taken him a long time to realize that was not shared by the others. That he could see through things was as natural to him as breathing. He did it now, as he did every year.
And for the first time in as long as he could remember, she was there, sleeping as she'd been the first time, as though she'd been reborn.
Lois woke with a start when she heard the window creak open. She'd always been a light sleeper; it was a survival trait in some of the places her father had dragged them to before finally settling down.
She shifted slightly, as though in her sleep, and opened her eyes to bare slits.
At first she could see nothing; neither the silhouette against the window that she expected, or a form closer into the room. After a moment, however, she realized that there was a red glow coming from the ceiling. She blinked, and she could barely make out the outline of something crouched in the corner of the ceiling.
She stiffened in horror as she realized that it was a humanoid shape. Before she could cry out or move to fight her way free of the heavy blankets, it was flying through the air and it was on her.
His hand was on her mouth, and though she struggled for a moment, she finally became still and waited to see what he was going to do.
"Come back with me," he said. "Come play like we used to."
He slowly moved his hand from her mouth, and a moment later he was floating above her bed.
It was then that Lois realized that she was dreaming. Fifteen year old boys didn't float in the air and have glowing red lights around their necks. She'd let the Peter Pan nonsense get to her, and this was what had come of it.
Of course, now that she could see his face in the slight glow from his chest, she realized that he was actually cute.
There were worse dreams she could have, she supposed. So she allowed him to draw her out from under the covers and take her hand.
She was curiously warm the moment he touched her, proof that this was just a dream. She floated beside him, and he turned to her as they reached the window. He blinked at her for a moment, seeming confused.
"Wendy?" He asked quietly, uncertainly.
She nodded. This was her dream, and she could be anyone she wanted. Might as well live it up.
A moment later, they were floating through the sky, the city below them shrinking, and looking like nothing so much as a ride she'd once taken in Disneyland as a child.
There was a dreamlike quality to all of it. He held her, and though they seemed to be moving quickly, the wind did not seem to blow. She was warm, and the boy, though a trifle young, was beautiful.
She'd never realized that there were so many stars.
It wasn't until they landed and she stepped on a rock that the dreamlike quality came to an end.
She stepped back, pulling away from him and crouched down. The pain was jarring, and for the first time she almost felt awake.
They were in a forest, with a tree house standing above them. It was old and worn, and not at all what she would have expected.
"Where are the Lost boys?" she asked.
He shrugged, watching her silently.
She frowned. 'Captain Hook? A crocodile with an alarm clock in it? Pirates?"
Grinning, he leapt into the air and flipped, landing on the branch above. "Tell me a story. The boys will…"
His smile faltered. He pulled the glowing thing from within his shirt and fingered it for a moment, and his smile brightened again.
He flipped back again and landed before her. "A story, pray tell, My Princess." He bowed deeply and glanced to the side.
A pile of wood beside her burst into flame, and Lois jumped slightly. Score yet another point for the idea that she was still dreaming. Yet she could feel the heat through the heavy cloth of her gown, and her foot still throbbed.
She'd never had a dream this realistic.
"Why don't you tell me a story?" she asked.
He frowned again, and shook his head. "That's not how it's supposed to go. The Wendy always tells the stories. That's why I bring her here."
"And you've brought me here a lot, then?"
He looked confused for a moment, and vaguely upset, and again he fingered the bauble around his neck. His expression smoothed once more.
"A story it is then. Which one do you want? The one about me fighting the Germans? How about the time I pulled Al Capone's beard?" His voice had an enthusiasm that was unfeigned. "And then when I tell my story, you'll have some more to tell me."
Lois frowned. "Al Capone didn't have a beard…"
He grinned again, "Well, he didn't have one after I was done with him! How about when I met the queen? She caught me eating fruit out of her sitting room and threatened to have me shot."
"Which Queen was that?" Lois asked.
He shook his head, frowning slightly. "It doesn't matter." His touching of the pendent around his neck had become almost constant now.
"What is that you have around your neck?" Lois asked.
"It's my Kiss," He said proudly. "You gave it to me."
"Can I see it?" she asked.
He hesitated, then handed it over to her. "I've been waiting to give you my Kiss."
She stared down at it. She'd almost expected it to be a thimble, in keeping with the story. Instead, it was a single crystal, glowing from within with an eerie reddish glow.
Standing close to her, it was almost as though he was afraid to be out of it's light. On a sudden impulse, Lois said, "I'm hungry. Won't you get me something to eat?"
He stared down at the glowing crystal almost hungrily, then slowly turned and began to float into the air.
At a hundred yards away he fell from the sky and collapsed with a muffled thud.
Lois dropped the stone and rushed toward him.
The only sounds she could hear from him were muffled sobs.
"My name is Clark Kent, and as a baby I was found on a shooting star," he began. "In Kansas, in the year 1867, my parents found me. My Pa, he was the Sheriff of a little town called Smallville. My ma owned a saloon."
He was silent for a moment, seemingly caught up in his memories. "They gave it all up for me. They bought a small farm and I grew up there."
"So when did the fairies teach you to fly?" Somehow the question didn't feel as sarcastic as Lois would have expected.
"There were never any fairies," Clark said quietly. "I think my life would have been easier if there were. There have been pirates a few times, and I found my way to having some Lost Boys, but there was never a Captain Hook."
"So…" Lois said.
"So I was always different from everybody else, but nobody knew it until I was run over by a bull at the age of six and it didn't hurt me. Also, I was really strong and I kept getting stronger."
"What happened to your parents?"
"I found my Kiss." Clark said slowly. "And suddenly I could fly, and I didn't care anymore."
"You've never taken it off?"
His hands trembled. "As long as I was wearing it, I had no conscience. I didn't know grief, or loss or pain. I could see others experience it, but it never touched me. I was never lonely."
"You didn't answer the question."
"I tried to leave it behind when Wendy died. Somehow, I'd started to believe that she'd given it to me and that it was hers…and how I felt then…how I feel now…it was unbearable." He shuddered.
Lois grabbed his hand and he sighed.
"I went back to spy on my parents once. They had a new baby, but they seemed so sad…it didn't touch me at all. But once I took the Kiss off…"
"So you took it back."
"And I teased gangsters and Nazis and communists and truant officers. And…" His face blanched. "There were things I could have stopped…mass killings, wars…"
"So you can fly. How could you have-?"
"I can do a lot more than that," he said. He shuddered. "My parents would be so ashamed."
He was weeping again, and Lois found herself gathering him in her arms and holding him like she would a child. He wept for a long time, unabashedly. It was as though he felt no shame to be crying in front of her; of course, he'd had the mind of a child for longer than she'd been alive. Even if that wasn't who he was now, there was still a quality of innocence about him.
"You have to take it away from me," he said finally. "If you don't, I'll go back to it, and I'll never grow up."
Standing, he walked to the tree and shoved.
The entire tree fell with a resounding crash. Beneath it was a cave, with a collection of childish knick knacks, toys from every era for a century.
And in the center was an ornate gray box, gilded.
"I stole this from the queen," he said. "It was when I put my Kiss in that I found out…"
He reached in and pulled it out and handed it to her.
"Take it, and close it, and don't give it back to me, no matter what I say."
Lois took the box, and she was surprised at how heavy it was. She walked back across the clearing, reached down and grabbed the stone. She wondered for a moment whether it would let her fly in the same way it had him, but one glance backward, at his slumped for convinced her.
She closed the box with a resounding thud.
He was behind her before she knew it, and he said, "It's time to go home."
On the threshold, he pulled her to him, and said, "I'd like to give you a thimble before I go. I think I can remember how to do it."
And before she could protest, he was kissing her.
It didn't feel awkward or unnatural as it had when she'd made her first fumbling attempts with other boys. This felt right, somehow, even though by appearances he was a year younger than she was, and by age, he was a hundred years older.
And then he was gone.
The cold returned with a vengeance, and she reluctantly latched her window.
Sleep came quicker than she would have thought, and she'd have thought it was all a dream the next morning except for the muddied footprints on the ceiling and the heavy gray box with the glowing crystal in bed beside her.
He flew over the horizon and into the dawn. He had a lot of catching up to do, and a lot of grieving for what he'd lost. Wendy had taught him to read, and he remembered everything he'd ever read.
It'd take time, but he'd grow up, and when he did, he'd return to her.
And this time, he'd stay.