Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4)(4)

Who, me? Clark mouthed to her.

“You’re, like, all over the place today,” she whispered.

More crying. He wondered if Lana could hear it, too. Or…maybe it was coming from somewhere outside the classroom?

Lana motioned toward Paul. “He’s going to be fine,” she whispered. “If it wasn’t for you, he wouldn’t even be here.”

Clark shrugged and turned back to their teacher, trying to focus on Mrs. Sovak’s marathon lecture. She was breaking down the evolution of migratory work in America. “Agricultural migrant work started as far back as the 1600s,” she explained. “These were the indentured servants coming from England. Of course we can never forget the monstrosities of slavery, when African people were brought to this country against their will. And in the 1840s, tens of thousands of Mexican workers began coming across the border to take labor jobs. This particular group, as I mentioned earlier, will be the focus of our final unit….”

It wasn’t that Clark was uninterested. His problem was that he couldn’t stop staring at Paul’s sling. Replaying the incident downtown, thinking about the man with the knife. And now he was also fixated on the subtle crying he kept hearing.

Mrs. Sovak stopped and eyed the class. “I’m not telling you all this for my health, you know. It’ll be on our final.”

Clark sat up straight as her gaze briefly fell upon him.

“I’m sure you’re aware of the protests downtown,” she went on. “This stuff is as relevant as ever. How we choose to address the situation today will significantly impact the future of your town and family farms….”

Clark tried to isolate on the crying sound, but everything else was getting in the way. Jessica Napier was whispering to a friend in the back of the class. “Tommy’s party next weekend is gonna be huge. Everyone’s gonna be there….”

Out in the hallway, a student walked by with headphones, listening to an old country song Clark vaguely recognized.

Clear across campus, Kyle made a joke about bulldozing right over Willie Moore during yesterday’s spring scrimmage. One of Kyle’s cronies snickered loudly, and then a locker slammed shut.

Clark could even hear a small plane somewhere in the sky. A single-engine prop plane, to be exact. He could tell by the whipping sound of the front propeller. The plane was flying somewhere over a neighboring community. Like Noonan, maybe—

No, that was impossible. Noonan was the nearest town, but it was still more than thirty miles away.

Great, now his mind was playing tricks on him.

He rubbed his ears with the heels of his hands and stared at Mrs. Sovak.

It wasn’t just his hearing ability that was changing. All his powers seemed to be getting stronger. Two days ago he’d seen right through a wall, into the classroom next door. He’d watched a freshman girl pass a note to another girl, who laughed without sound. These new abilities both thrilled him and scared him to death.

But it was his hearing that he was focused on now.

Somewhere on campus, a girl was crying.

Her soft sobs sounded so broken and desperate that they eventually drowned out everything else in Clark’s head.

He needed to find out who she was. And why she was so sad.

“Clark,” Lana’s hushed voice interrupted again.

This time Clark waited until Mrs. Sovak was writing on the board to turn to Lana. He found her staring at him, her large green eyes narrowed with concern.

“You’ve been acting really weird lately,” she said. “Even for you.”

Clark shrugged, ignoring the dig. Lana had a sixth sense when it came to reading people. It’s what made her such a good reporter. And it’s what made Clark sometimes feel anxious around her. There was so much he needed to keep hidden.

“Honestly, though, is everything okay? I’m here if you need to talk.”

“Thanks,” he told her. “But I’m good. I just—”

The final bell rang, saving him from having to finish the thought. He smiled at Lana instead, doing his best to look normal. Anyway, it’s not like he could confide in her that he heard someone crying on the other side of campus.

She wouldn’t understand.

Nobody would.

As they filed out of the classroom, Lana reached up to brush something off Clark’s collar, saying, “Oh, get this. The inequity within the athletics department runs even deeper than I first thought. I just found proof of an attempted cover-up last summer.”

“Like, in the accounting?” Clark asked.

“You got it.” Lana was already the editor of the school paper as a junior. She was good at asking questions. And even better at getting answers. “Can you believe something like this could be happening right here under our noses? At Smallville High?”

Lana’s current story centered on how much of the school budget was spent on athletics. More specifically, male athletics. Even more specifically, football.

This was the way it had always worked between Clark and his best friend; whatever story she was currently working on became a big part of their conversations. Lana liked using Clark as a sounding board, and Clark enjoyed being part of her investigative whirlwinds.

“Is Rice cooperating?” Clark asked, referring to their principal.

“Oh, yes, she is.” Lana waved her phone in front of his face. “She’s sent me three emails over the last two periods.”

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