Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4)(8)

Jonathan gave his name and shook hands with them.

Clark did the same. The scientist’s handshake was especially aggressive, like he was trying to establish some kind of unspoken dominance. Clark fought the urge to show the guy what a tight grip could really feel like.

“Listen, I’m sorry about your field,” Corey went on. “My father would be happy to pay any damages—”

“No, no, that won’t be necessary,” Clark’s dad said, cutting him off. “Just a bunch of mud and dirt out here. And a barn on its last legs. I’m more concerned about you fellas.” He turned to the scientist. “So…atmospheric measurements.”

“That’s right,” the man said, pushing up his glasses. “My company specializes in agricultural gene editing and environmental strategies.”

“Future of farming,” Corey added. “By tracking weather patterns, we can better predict when to plant, what to plant, and where to plant. It’s like crop disease and pest scouting on a whole new level. The more science we bring to farming, the more efficient we’ll be. And efficiency, as I’m sure you know…It was Mr. Kent, wasn’t it?”

“That’s right.”

“Efficiency, Mr. Kent, brings prices down and production up. Everyone wins.”

Jonathan nodded politely, but Clark could tell his dad was just as skeptical as he was. Corey was a smooth talker. Clark and his dad had never liked people who pretended to have all the answers. No matter how rich they were.

Soon a couple of fire trucks arrived at the scene.

Then an ambulance. And the county deputy sheriff.

Deputy Rogers had a long yellow raincoat on, and he peered out from underneath the oversized hood after each question. Corey did most of the talking, while Clark tried to stay out of it, standing beside his father and occasionally glancing at a dejected-looking Bryan.

EMTs took the three crash victims to the back of the ambulance to check their injuries, and Deputy Rogers followed with a notepad and pen, occasionally barking directions into his crackling radio.

By the time a special flatbed tow truck had arrived, the rain was a full-on downpour. Clark and his dad huddled under a worn-out umbrella Deputy Rogers had given them while the crew worked to load the wrecked helicopter awkwardly onto the truck, Corey insisting they do it according to his special instructions.

Before the truck pulled away, Dr. Wesley climbed up onto the bed and reached into the helicopter cockpit to retrieve some kind of small briefcase. Clark kept expecting Deputy Rogers to ask about that, too, but the rain was so heavy now, everyone seemed focused on finishing things up so they could get back to their vehicles, where it was dry.

Clark pulled Bryan aside. The kid’s arm was now in a sling similar to the one Paul had been wearing at school, and a fresh butterfly bandage covered the cut on his forehead. “You okay?” Clark asked, motioning toward his arm.

“It’s nothing,” Bryan said, forcing a smile. “Just a precaution until they can do X-rays.”

Clark’s eyes widened as he stared at Bryan’s arm. Suddenly, he could see right through the sling. Through the skin and muscle and cartilage. He found himself staring at Bryan Mankins’s bones—as clear as if they were outside his body. Seeing all the stuff inside a human arm didn’t bother him. He was mostly curious. Fortunately, all the bones he saw were intact. There were no cracks or breaks or dislocations of any kind.

“You pulled me out the window before it came down on me,” Bryan said, rubbing the back of his neck. “You’re like…you’re a hero, man. I could’ve been seriously hurt.”

Clark scoffed, adjusting his glasses. “I’m definitely not a hero. Just in the right place at the right time, I guess.”

“Well…” Bryan turned to look at the battered helicopter lying on its side on the truck. “Can’t believe I lost control like that. I’m not even sure what went wrong exactly.”

“Had to be the storm,” Clark told him. “It got bad really fast.”

“But it’s not like the wind was that strong. A little rain shouldn’t have thrown me off like that.” Bryan turned back to Clark, shaking his head. Lightning flashed, illuminating the concerned look on his face.

A powerful roar of thunder followed.

“Bryan!” Corey called out from beside the ambulance. “Come on. Let’s go.”

After Bryan turned to leave, Clark glanced over at his dad.

He’d been watching the entire exchange.

So had Dr. Wesley.

Clark stood in the shower, running through everything that had just happened out near the old barn. How he’d darted clear across the farm in a matter of seconds. How he’d grabbed the plummeting helicopter in his bare hands and somehow wrestled it to the ground without anyone incurring serious injuries. But the part Clark kept circling back to was his conversation with Bryan.

He’d called Clark a hero.

No one had ever done that before.

Clark knew he wasn’t supposed to use his powers in public, yet he couldn’t deny the exhilaration of being referred to as a hero. It made him feel important. It made him want to go out there and save someone else.

As the warm water continued pelting the back of his head, Clark found himself thinking about his rapidly changing powers. As he’d raced toward the falling chopper in the rain, he’d had the sudden urge to just…leap into the sky. To soar up toward the two-ton machine and catch it. In midair. Which was ridiculous, he knew. Humans couldn’t fly. But the instinct had been incredibly powerful.

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