The Daily Planet – Monday Morning:
“I’m sorry – did I say it was optional?”
Sarcasm was wasted on Lois and her Editor-In-Chief was well aware of that fact, so she simply placed her hands on her hips and glared at him, “If you land me with some wet-behind-the-ears newbie it’ll slow me down.”
“I sincerely hope so,” Perry leaned back in his chair, the leather creaking as he rocked it from side to side, “You need someone to be the voice of reason Lois – every time you get in over your head and end up hurt it takes you out of action. And the last time was one time too many. You need someone to watch your back.”
“I had Jimmy to watch my back.”
“Yes and look how well that turned out. You may as well have taken Bambi on assignment with you.” With a deep sigh he rocked forwards, folding his arms on the desk and fixing her with a direct stare that said he meant business, “This paper sells on its headlines Lois and with you out of action I lose headlines. It’s business. And as your boss I call the shots – so you’re getting a partner whether you like it or not.”
Lois knew when Perry used the tone of voice he’d just used on her there was no way she was getting out of it. Oh, she could fight – she could kick and scream and reason with him and threaten to leave – but it was pointless. So she’d just have to prove her point,
“Three strikes and he’s out – you have my word on that. But I tell ya Lois, from what I’ve see of this guy’s work, he’s got a superhuman nose for a story before anyone else gets to it.”
Three strikes could be arranged she felt. If nothing else, one of the joys of being a bone-fide General’s daughter was a gal learnt about strategy. She gave the newbie a week, tops. After all, she’d made her way onto The Planet’s payroll by being a tiger – and tiger’s didn’t play well with kittens. Lois had yet to meet a newbie who wasn’t a kitten…
“Well he better be somethin’ if he’s gonna keep up with me.”
“I can give it a try.”
Lois’s hands dropped from her hips when she heard the deep voice behind her – it couldn’t be. But she could already feel a sense of impending doom settling in the air as she slowly turned on her heel to look at him.
It couldn’t be, but it was.
His eyes sparkled behind the lenses of unfamiliar glasses, a hint of a smile on his mouth. And Lois hated him for looking so pleased at her surprise. Hating him even more when he merely inclined his head a little – lifting a large hand to push his glasses back up his nose as he replied with a calm,
She made a cursory glance down his large body and then turned to look over her shoulder at Perry while pointing a finger forwards, “You hired him?”
Monday mornings officially sucked. With a scowl at Perry for good measure she turned her ire on the person she now blamed entirely for her predicament, lifting her chin as she walked towards him, “If you already got the job you didn’t need to dress like you’re heading to an interview. And just so you know; new guy gets the coffee.”
The smirk she gave him was immediately replaced with another scowl when he raised a hand, “Black, four sweet n’ low.”
“See Lois – already doing his research…”
Snatching the coffee from his hand Lois lowered her voice as she walked through the narrow space left in the doorway, “Way to go at kissing ass on your first day.”
Oh he had a nerve just walking in after disappearing off the face of the earth for so long. Not that she hadn’t noticed the features that appeared from varying locations around the globe the last couple of years with his name on them - some of them had actually been good – not great, but not bad either. And it wasn’t that she was ticked off he hadn’t stayed in contact with her specifically, it wasn’t like they’d been that close to begin with. But she’d thought when her Cuz -
She pursed her lips as she walked across the buzzing floor to her desk – phones ringing, voices calling across the room, the sound of printers and the barely perceptible clack of keyboards all clamouring together into a kind of weird lullaby that soothed her soul. The Planet was home, the one constant left in her life and if Smallville thought he could just walk in here and make like he hadn’t deserted everyone and everything –
Well, he could just think again.
“Pull up a chair
Clark controlled the smile that had been on his face since Lois left the office with her nose in the air, reaching a hand across the desk to shake Perry’s hand as he sat down, “Mr. White – just in case I haven’t already said it; I really appreciate the chance t-“
“It’s not a free ride
Had she ever? “I’m sure th-“
“And she’s gonna do her best to trip you up so she can get rid of you, make no mistake about that. She prefers to go it alone. I had to fight like hell to get her to take a photographer with her,” Perry frowned across the wide desk, “Can write a story with the best of them but can’t take a picture worth a crap. You take your own pictures, right?”
“Well I’ve taken a fe-“
“That’ll help. We’ll give you something small you can carry with you. How’s your spelling?”
“It’s good. I’ve never-“
Perry nodded, “Make sure you read everything through before it goes to copy editing then. Save me a full time member of staff to check for that language only Lois understands.”
The glasses he was still struggling to get used to made their way a little down the bridge of his nose again, forcing him to raise a hand to push them back into place. He still didn’t see why he needed to wear them – it wasn’t the biggest stroke of genius his Mom had had when they brainstormed ‘disguises’. But it was more about the little things that would make people second guess their suspicions she had reasoned. The guy that preferred to wear reading glasses rather than contacts was hardly likely to be the same guy who would fly through the air and catch falling planes. And look-a-likes for celebrities were a dime a dozen, so if anyone ever put two and two together he could laugh it off, suggest he might make money pretending to be someone he wasn’t and then do something clumsy to prove his point if he had to, right? Well. Time would tell.
He just needed to make sure no-one ever got close enough to see through him. A lesson he’d learned the hard way in Smallville.
“Marsha will show you were you’re working and get you a press pass.”
“Glad I was able to repay that favour I owed you Kent. Might not have been here if it wasn’t for that little stopover in Smallville. Don’t let me down.”
He turned and left the office, his smile growing as he looked around the busy bullpen. This was the beginning; finally. Because he knew his place in the world now, didn’t he? Or at least what he wanted it to be.
‘There’s a whole world of people out there who need us…. You can’t wait for them to come to you.’
That’s what a friend had said to him once, before they were even friends. And he’d been right.