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A day later, after receiving a leave of absence and assuring Perry that he could make flight arrangements on his own, Clark was led by Officer Petty through the winding corridors of the police station, clutching his briefcase to his chest and trying to avoid the numerous officers and lawmen passing them. “It sure is busy around here today, isn’t it?”

Doug turned to face him while moving through another busy hallway. “Today? This is life in the police station, Mr. Kent. Surely with all your experience at the newspaper you’d know that.”

Clark briefly jumped back when two officers suddenly ran past him. He adjusted his glasses. “Well, I can’t say that I’ve spent a lot of time around here, so…”

Doug chuckled. “Oh, that’s right. That would be Lois more than you, wouldn’t it? She always was the one to dig a bit deeper than people were willing to go.”

Finally finding a clear hallway to walk down, Clark breathed a small sigh of relief and slightly rolled his eyes. “Y—Yes, I know that very well.”
   
Several hallways later found Clark inside Doug’s office. It was obvious that the officer had been doing all he could since Clark had last been there – cabinets were opened with a few files peeping out from their iron cage. Sitting on the desk before them, surrounded by photos of the seaplane and the repair shop wreckage, were two manila folders. The file sitting on top had four different black and white photographs of fingerprints. Doug rounded his desk and pointed to the top folder. “I think this one is going to get your attention the most, Mr. Kent. It took me a while to find this man in particular, but I knew you’d want to see this when I found it.”

Clark took the folder that Doug offered him, staring intently at the fingerprints and committing their unique design to memory. The top four were obviously older, the photocopies not only dated several years ago, but worn at the corners and barely faded. The newer pair looked crisp and clean, yet awkward. Clark figured they must have been from the smudging of the prints on the seaplane; identifiable, yes, but certainly not as professional as they could be.
   
“The second set were harder to obtain since the fingerprints were smudged,” Doug was saying, confirming Clark’s thoughts. “But you can see that thanks to modern technology we’ve been able to confirm that these fingerprints are one and the same.”
   
Clark adjusted his glasses and read the name printed at the top of the paper. “Tony Anderson?”
   
“I actually had to search through police databases all around the world before I found him.” He chuckled a bit. “I guess I should say we’re lucky he had a report filed. If he didn’t have a record, this would have taken much longer than it should have.”
   
Clark took the other folder Doug offered him and flipped through its pages. He stopped and stared at a page. “He was charged for robbery?”
   
Foiled robbery – he was caught twenty minutes later hiding in an abandoned warehouse. He would have escaped, too, if he hadn’t dropped a bag of chips on his getaway.”
   
“Uh, I—I’m sorry… He dropped a bag of chips?”
   
“Fell out of his duffle bag, according to witnesses.”
   
Clark continued to flip through papers, super-speeding through every paragraph, but taking his time to memorize the files. “And this happened in…” He stopped, blinking at the printed ink. “London?”
   
“That was going to be my next point. I received these files by fax through a police station in London. Would you consider heading over there to dig a little deeper?”
   
Clark threw him a small grin. “I’ve considered it. A source led me in the same direction. I’ll give you any information I can find, but there’s a chance a lot of it might not mean anything. It’s only the Planet’s affiliate.”
   
“Information is information at this point, Mr. Kent.” Doug reached forward and took the files from Clark. “I’ll tell a few friends of mine overseas to be expecting you. It isn’t Scotland Yard, but they’re a good group of people who would be willing to help you out. Would you like me to arrange for them to meet you at the airport?”
   
Clark adjusted his glasses. “Ah, no. I’ll uh… I’ll find them. Just give me a name and I’ll know who to look for.”
   
Doug grinned. “You seem pretty confident in yourself. Have you been around London much, Mr. Kent?”
   
“Oh… a few times, a long time ago. I didn’t have a problem navigating before, so… I think I’ll be okay.”

---
  
High above the atmosphere hours later, Superman stared at the far reaches of the globe, from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to the top of the Canadian border, and branched his hearing out as far as it would go. He heard airplanes, motorcycles, conversations, babies, children, parents, crowds, farm machinery… the very heartbeat of his home country, nothing to suggest that anyone was in any certain trouble.
   
Not at the moment, anyway, he corrected himself. People always need someone to look after – and someone to look after them. I’d better continue to keep an ear out for Lois and Jason. Lucy, too, though she might be a little harder to keep track of.
   
Shifting his hearing, he allowed all other voices and commotion to slowly fade, ultimately dying in the even, smooth pulse of Lois’ heartbeat. Even more comforting was Jason’s, nearby and active. The knowledge of their safety was such a precious comfort, a balm to his torrent emotions, allowing him a moment of peace. There was nothing more revealing than the pace of one’s heartbeat; the hardest thing to control, whether it be for the truth or a lie. And each beat was so unique, so different from the other…
   
Sighing deeply, Superman turned his head to his right, just catching the shoreline of England with the slight use of his super-vision. Yes, each heartbeat was unique… and it was very hard to differentiate which was which, especially if the heart was one he wasn’t too familiar with. He hadn’t known Richard that long, and he knew it was more than his father that prevented him from finding Richard with hearing alone. Closing his eyes, he concentrated harder than he recalled ever doing. He heard crowds, individual people, and their activities before the sounds slowly dulled out. The low drumming of heartbeats invaded his hearing. Fast, slow, even, newborn, children, adults… but only a handful of them with a name. Perry, Jimmy, his mother… Jason and Lois.
   
No Richard. He had no clue which of the millions of heartbeats belonged to Richard White.
   
Discontent, he opened his eyes. He was wasting time. Listening for Richard was pointless if he couldn’t recognize the heartbeat.
   
Gathering strength, he propelled himself forward, shooting himself through the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean headed toward England. The clouds gave way to the ocean below, the waves tossing and turning, the sunlight filtering through open gaps… and suddenly he noticed he was starting to sink closer to the glassy sea. His strength, achingly slowly, began to leave him. Staying level was suddenly a small challenge. Nothing too worrisome, but certainly unusual considering he wasn’t over any…
   
He stopped. Frantically looking at the ocean, he used all his might to rocket himself to the nearest break in the clouds, desperate for the reviving rays of the sunlight. As he finally broke through the atmosphere, back where he started, reveling in the unfiltered glory of the sun, he intently focused where he had just come from. The clouds dissolved into drops of moisture, the ocean became as clear as the blue sky… and sitting scattered on the sands of the ocean bed were massive chunks of rock. Unnatural rock that, upon more intense inspection, just barely glowed green.
   
Kryptonite. From New Krypton. But it’s stable – it looks like it stopped growing a long time ago.
   
Continuing to look at the kryptonite, he estimated the scale of the collected crystals, wondering where else they could be and how far off they could be scattered. They stretched from one corner of the ocean to the other, mapping out where he had lifted New Krypton in his final, desperate attempt to rid the world of the continent that would ultimately destroy it. Obviously, they were still so rich in kryptonite that he could faintly feel the affects even from above the ocean. He intensified his gaze one more time over the ocean, so much so that he was able to see through the kryptonite itself. Just to make sure there aren’t any other pieces I’m miss—
   
What on earth…?

   
His brow furrowed. When he focused that strongly, he could not only see through the kryptonite, but he could see through the ocean floor. There were at least two large grooves winding their way deep inside the ocean floor, stretching from the States to Europe. Any other detail was too difficult to see without sunlight, but he could tell that one of the two paths led to somewhere in Europe.
   
More specifically, somewhere near England.
   
Making a mental note to investigate later, Superman turned in the direction of England and rocketed through the atmosphere. Though he felt more confident in his newfound knowledge in the investigation, he couldn’t ignore the foreboding rising deep within him.


Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
jenna_knight
Jul. 16th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
Oooh, good chapter. I love that you manage to interweave even more intrigue into the already complex plot. Very impressive. And frustrating since I'm still waiting for some answers about Richard. I'm wondering what the clues will mean.

Great job and keep writing the next chapter!!!
sean_montgomery
Jul. 16th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
News about Richard? Richard might pop up soon. Doesn't mean that he'll see any answers. ;)

I love that you manage to interweave even more intrigue into the already complex plot. Very impressive.

It hasn't been easy! A LOT of thought has been going into these last couple of chapters, so I'm glad the effort is paying off. Trust me, if it's hard on you as the reader, it's been hard as the writer to keep it all together!
elliania
Jul. 19th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
Uh oh!! Another big problem ahead!! '~' I love the way you explain how Superman listen for the heartbeats of the people he cares for and the way he can't get concentred on Richard's only! I understand it more! :) Nice chapter!! 100% Clark/Superman, I enjoyed it a lot!!! ♥ Your story is really enthralling, Ab! I'm addicted!
sean_montgomery
Jul. 19th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
I love the way you explain how Superman listen for the heartbeats of the people he cares for and the way he can't get concentred on Richard's only! I understand it more!

Thank God! *slumps in her chair* This was a really important issue that I was hoping to be able to clear up in this chapter. Really, you've hit the nail on the head, which makes me confident that other readers will understand it, too. Yay! :)

Thanks a lot, Kat! I'm glad you enjoyed this one!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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