The next day Clark was busy hauling trash out to the dumpster at the back of Bearcat when his phone vibrated. It was Arthur.
You need help moving your stuff to the boat?
Clark smiled. If stuff you mean my one and only duffel bag. I’m good. Thanks.
Cool. So, how’s your day? Weaver being an ass?
Not bad. When is Weaver not an ass.
But of course, he spoke too soon. There was a convoy from the Army Corps of Engineers that came around noon, all very hungry and very thirsty. It was nonstop for about 2 hours of serving and bussing tables. When they were all gone, Clark had barely hauled all the trash to the dumpster then it was time to get ready for the trucker dinner crowd. The Bearcat was right next to a truck stop, so this was a given. Then there were the times he had to run out suddenly since it was a particularly icy day. His hearing had picked up 5 near accidents on 5 different highways thus stopping what could have easily been 20 multi vehicle crashes. His text alert had vibrated several times. There were the usual messages from his Mom. He quickly responded to his Mom, so she won’t worry with a promise to call her soon. A message from Arthur with the last one asking if he knew when he would end his shift for the day. Clark responded with a shrug emoji. Arthur in return sent him a video of a dog wrestling with a water hose, Clark wasn’t sure what he meant with that if anything, but it sure was a funny video. And maybe it made the day a little less miserable in Clark’s opinion.
When Clark finally walked up to the boat around oh dark thirty, it was just a relief to take a nice hot shower and eat a hot dinner that didn’t come from the bar. It didn’t also hurt that the houseboat was not only well heated, it had everything inside it had the comforts of a small apartment, more than he ever had at Weaver’s place. Clark had been in far worse conditions when out in the road. It would take a lot for him to feel truly uncomfortable, yet he wasn’t really against creature comforts after living rough for a while. He just finished putting away the dishes when the phone pinged.
How’s the boat? Figured you’d be there already. Arthur texted.
Well, everything’s great. Thanks. I’m going to bed now.
Clark could picture Arthur smirking already. Wish I was there. When are you off?
Monday.Clark texted back. As soon as he pressed sent, his phone rang. One guess who that would be. Clark couldn’t help his smile.
“Good. I should be back from the Australia then. If you don’t have plans, we could ummm… hang out?” Arthur said quietly over the line.
Clark settled on the comfortable bed before answering. He could hear movement on Arthur’s side, water gently lapping on rocks. Arthur running his fingers through his hair before he answered. “Tell me about the island you’re on, it’s small right?” Clark asked.
“One of the Whitsunday Islands. Yup, this one’s one of the smallest, basically just a piece of rock jutting out of the ocean. Wait… how did you know I was on an island.”
“I wasn’t sure. This will sound weird but I’m practicing my hearing… the sound of the air around you… how the water hits the rocks…” Clark didn’t mean to be vague but if he was hard pressed to explain it a lot of it had to do with his eidetic memory, how his mind processed and catalogued what he heard, felt and saw, so he was secretly happy he was right.
“That’s cool. But, remember water’s my territory,” Arthur said in mock affront, then he shifted to a nasally voice using one of the tackiest, plummy British accents Clark had ever heard “The islands have the whitest sand, like strewn diamonds, the most gorgeous sunsets in this side of the world. You can explore this paradise, personally escorted by yours truly,” he added dramatically.
Clark rolled his eyes and laughed. “And you have a phone?” He knew that he was really sidestepping Arthur’s flirty comment? Offer?
“Yup. I have my ways.” Arthur chuckled softly. “So, just say the word, I’ll pick you up.”
“I can’t I’m sorry.” Clark said regrettably. To be out there in Australia with Arthur was very tempting.
“Oh, good!” Arthur breathed out immediately in mock relief. “I was worried you might actually take me up on that offer, then I have to really come there and get you.”
“Wow, you’re just… I don’t even know what you are.”
“Look I get it. You have shit to do. Unless you’re just playing hard to get.”
“Does this really work? You’re very subtle.” Clark said, another smile tugging at his lips.
“Well, you tell me. I’ll cook, and I’ll bring you somewhere not too far from your precious North.”
“I’ll see you in three days, Arthur.” Clark said. They talked for a couple more minutes. Clark listened to what Arthur had been doing since he left the Bering Sea. There were pirates in the Indian Ocean, he said. There was that opportunistic algae problem in the Great Barrier Reef, made worse by global warming, that he had been dealing with.
“Need help?” Clark asked.
“You do miss me…”
Clark couldn’t help another grin as he said bye to Arthur.
That week, in between flirty one-liners and come-ons were late night phone calls where they would just talk. It was mostly Arthur doing the talking which Clark didn’t mind, in a short span of time they had settled into a comfortable rhythm in their conversations. Arthur had also gotten into the habit of just texting him at random times during the day even just sending him silly, stupid things that would make him laugh. Arthur didn’t seem to mind that Clark sometimes could not text him back, which Clark appreciated. Even with all the travelling he did, Clark wasn’t a big texter, his Mom preferred talking to him. The only other person who would text him was Pete. They would text each other now and then so he’d get updates about Smallville. Pete Ross was far from being the bully in that bus, a thousand years ago. He was now a teacher in the local middle school; he had promised Clark he’ll keep an eye out for Martha.
The only problem with Arthur texting is that Clark began to look forward to those texts, and that he liked texting Arthur. And not only that the late night conversations had started becoming a pleasant way to unwind after a long hard day. Clark had known Arthur for a week, yet Arthur had suddenly become a part of his day. He honestly did not quite know what to do with that realization. Also he was very aware that he was looking forward to seeing Arthur again.
Try to guess where I am? Arthur texted at one point.
You’re near water.
Very funny. Anyway, I’m close -- came Arthur’s reply punctuated with a wink emoji.
It was another day in the Bearcat, Weaver was busy showing the new waitress around, some relative who agreed to help for the season, probably why Weaver was in a pretty good mood lately. Weaver had also hired another kid to be a waiter/busboy/kitchen hand. The kid was a hard worker; he was now living in the backroom that was vacated by Clark. Around 3pm, Weaver finally noticed that Clark didn’t even take lunch yet. “Joe, take a break.” Wow, Weaver must be really in a good mood. Clark said a quick thanks as he made his hasty escape, before Weaver had a chance to change his mind. He grabbed his beanie and anorak. Clark decided to take a walk by the shoreline, away from the noise of the Weaver’s heavy metal music and the constant traffic and chaos of the truck stop. He ducked into a deserted alley making sure no one could see him use his speed. He headed towards the same beach that he came out of after the oil rig accident. It felt so long ago, even though only two weeks had just passed. He extended his sight a couple hundred miles more and noticed that different clean-up crews and barges trying to get the rig operational again. He almost did not notice someone else was standing next to him.
“This is sweet, you came back to the place where we first met.”
“Hey Arthur! I thought you weren’t coming back till tomorrow?” Clark turned, and Arthur hugged him, and he hugged back somewhat awkwardly. Arthur was expecting something perhaps a little more sociable, a kiss kinda sociable. Kansas still so shy.
Arthur half shrugged. “Well, I wanted to be here, sooner to keep an eye on that little operation just to make sure they clean up their mess quickly and properly... how you’ve been?”
“Not bad, nothing changed much since we texted this morning,” Clark lightly teased.
Arthur chuckled. “Here I brought you something from Australia.” Arthur handed Clark a brown paper bag.
“You shouldn’t have, thanks.” Clark said. Although he was puzzled, it was the size of a takeaway bag and it still felt warm all the way from Australia and it smelled slightly of… fish?
Arthur must have sensed the question in his head. “They have this travel box that keeps it warm, and sorry about the fish smell. One carried it for me.”
“What? How… do whales carry things? Arthur… was this inside her?”
“They’re great burgers.” Arthur replied, sidestepping the question.
“Burgers…” Clark said with a flash of confusion on his face.
“Man, not just any burgers, kangaroo burgers. It’s great with Cooper’s extra stout, which I also have.”
“Kangaroo… burgers and... beer?”
The look of confusion morphed into deep thought, but to Arthur it was almost like he was studying the bag way too intensely. Jesus, this sucked, Arthur knew he should have asked his dad for advice. But the burgers were really good and Australian, and Clark liked food. And the beer — big, bold and hearty like Australia itself. They were really great together. Like they could be great together, preferably with fewer clothes. Wasn’t that the thing people did, when they like someone, bring them stuff from wherever they travelled? Clark was still holding the bag, and a frown replaced the confused look. He tilted his head his expression distracted. Arthur had an awful feeling that he would lose any chance of future sex with hot alien guy because he gave him beer and kangaroo burgers.
“I’m sorry—” Arthur started to say.
Clark’s head jerked back and up, “Do you hear that?” Arthur had a feeling this wasn’t about the burgers anymore. “Screams… from the highway…”
Before Arthur could even think of an answer, Clark was gone. Arthur had a sense of being slammed by a gale force wind and Clark was just gone. The bright yellow anorak that Clark was wearing was now a rapidly disappearing yellow dot as he rushed down the shoreline. Arthur whistled, a seagull briefly circled above him then shot up, angled in the direction to where Clark sped away. Something’s going on. He needed eyes up there, so he can track Clark. He swam faster, but a seagull’s eyesight was far superior with long distances out here. Arthur lost no time and shucked off his shirt and jacket, then dove into the water. It didn’t take long; the scouting seagull had spotted Clark. Arthur was there in no time, his whales following him closely.
It was the bridge. The McKenzie Bridge spanned the wide channel between the eastern mainland side with the city’s more remote communities to the west of Yellowknife. Arthur could not believe the sight that greeted him. A large chunk of the bridge’s guardrail had been blown off, leaving a gaping maw of gnarled singed metal about twenty feet across. The source of the damage was now in the waters of the channel. The tractor trailer was carrying something that blew out of its cargo hold. It was an oxygen tank company, Arthur had figured from the name on the side of the trailer. Its driver and passenger could have easily drowned into the deep and below freezing water if it wasn’t for Clark. Clark had pulled out the driver and passenger of the truck and they were already sitting on dry land covered in mylar blankets. One of them was already on his phone, no doubt calling emergency services.
There was a screech of breaks above them followed by more screams. A Greyhound bus had skidded trying to avoid the burning debris on the road. The 18-ton bus full of passengers was now hanging precariously over the damaged bridge. A hundred-foot drop to the water below. From the bank of the channel, Clark gave Arthur a look.
“Go, I got this.” Arthur yelled, and Clark went. Arthur wasn’t really sure what he’s “got” now, but he was confident he can deal with it.
The bus tilted more to towards the water. Eighteen tons of metal groaned under the strain of its front end as it hung midair. There were more screams.
Something snapped. A steel girder from the bridge, the gnarled piece of metal that was keeping the bus on the bridge, fell. The bus lurched towards the water. And it started to fall.
Arthur braced himself, considered all the possible options he had to save as much people as he possibly can. Not quite sure how---
Then, impossibly, the bus was not falling anymore. Its fatal descent was halted, as if it was held up by an invisible thread, it began to right itself. Then slowly, carefully pushed back to the safety of the roadway by seemingly by large invisible hands. There was no doubt in Arthur’s mind it was Clark. How the hell was he doing this? He wasn’t pulling the bus from the back, that would cause too much strain, the front end was too heavy since most of the bus had slid off the bridge. And then he saw it, a figure in a yellow anorak. Clark was floating. Under the bus. Moving the bus with his bare hands, easing it back to safety, midair.
Arthur could only imagine the sighs of relief inside the bus. These people have no idea…
A squeal of breaks followed by an explosive sound interrupted Arthur’s thoughts. Clark was still holding onto the bus. A van had smashed through the weakened section of guardrail, its momentum carried it over the warped metal. It was in a freefall dive into the water.
Arthur shot out of the water. I have to fucking catch the damn thing. I need some help. He saw the large shape of Two, all of 40 tons, the bigger of the whales, beneath him.
And there he had the van! On the way down, he broke through the water feet first. The van tilted dangerously as Arthur held it up above him. He adjusted his grip until he the got the van settled on Two’s back as he surfaced. Arthur knew if he even stopped to think about the physics of his actions it would give him a headache for days. Maybe a lot of it was dumb luck. Well, whatever it was, it worked. He caught the van. He caught a van with four passengers. Two caught him and the van. Simple. No sweat.
After he settled the van on Two’s back. He checked on the passengers. They were fine. Maybe a little wide eyed and terrified with his trident sticking out through the hood. He might have improvised. He used his trident to catch the van. Maybe spear is a better word. The trident went clean through the engine, but everyone was nice and dry, and all in one piece. Thank you very much.
“Kansas, I know you can hear me,” he muttered under his breath. “Finish whatever you’re doing. Let’s get the hell out of here. I’m not doing this all day.” As an answer to his “request,” he heard the cheers of the people from the bus. The bus was safe. People were waving at him from the bridge. Traffic was controlled, and no one was falling off the bridge anymore.
Shortly thereafter, a rescue helicopter arrived on scene ready to airlift both the van and the people off Two. He could see the news camera guy, hanging off the rescue chopper aimed at him and the whale. This is going to be interesting, he thought wryly. His scouting seagull circled above him and relayed a message: There’s no sign of Clark.
In the corner of his eye, he saw something yellow floating on the water. Quickly, he swam after it, fearing the worst. But it was only Clark’s anorak. He must’ve abandoned it, Arthur thought.
Arthur swam back to the beach where he had last seen Clark. The takeaway bag with the burgers was gone. He was worried, he knew he shouldn’t be worried—the man was fireproof and apparently could fly. He put his shirt on and his coat. Somehow, he had the sense to drop it by the rocks away from the waters’ edge. He sat next to a large outcrop of rocks and thought about all that chaos on the bridge and what he and Clark had just done. Sighing, he decided he was done thinking for now. He felt a sudden breeze hit him.
“Sorry for that,” Clark said as he closed the distance between them. “… and sorry I had to leave, I didn’t want Weaver to think I took an extended lunch.” Arthur noticed he had on a different shirt and jacket. An unexpected pang hit Arthur’s chest at how Clark was always so careful about keeping his secret.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, it’s good it’s kinda dead at the bar right now, it will be for hours what with the traffic being rerouted because of the damaged bridge. I didn’t want to just leave and not thank you for the stuff you brought from Australia.”
Arthur perked up, “Did you get to try them?”
“I didn’t get a chance yet. I’m sure they’re great. And you know what I can’t believe you speared that van, and the thing with the whales.” Clark flashed him a shy smile that made his eyes shine.
Oh, wow, he dug the burgers! Arthur thought, then said, “Catching vehicles in midair is not my gig. We worked well together.” Arthur felt something release inside him, he was just so relieved, relieved that he didn’t fuck up saving those people, didn’t fuck up with the burgers (well the jury was still out with that) but Clark’s here so… “I’ve never done that before with anybody. And you were awesome,” Fuck, get a hold of yourself… “I can’t believe you could do that ---“
Arthur didn't get any further, because Clark's too blue eyes are now focused on him. Clark leaned up to him then took Arthur's face in his hands, pulled him down and kissed him.