A/N: Gah! Don't yell at me! New ideas come flooding and they don't all fit in with the stories I'm already writing and before I know it I've created an entirely new story that needs updating and I'm behind in them all! Oh well. I really like this idea. Figured Clark needs someone to look to at times, too. :)
Disclaimer: Who owns what? Clark: one superman costume and several loud ties. Lex: private helicopter/yacht/houses. Lois: famous byline and rather cute shoes. Perry: Daily Planet and various famous headlines (ok, so he's the editor, but still). DC Comics: Superman concept. Warner Brothers: Anything that is a biproduct of the Superman movies. Me: this plotline. :D
The Planet had pretty much cleared out for the night. It was late, the paper had already been put to bed, and only the diehards remained.
Tonight, that constituted Lois, Clark, Richard, and Jimmy. Perry White was still in his office, but payed little mind to his best employees as he drowned his thoughts in scotch. He and Alice had a fight earlier, and he hadn't planned on going home yet. He wasn't sure that she would let him. Besides, the four were preoccupied with their most recent investigative assignment, and weren't paying too much attention to Jason, who despite the lateness of the hour, was still bustling about. This gave Perry the opportunity to spend some time watching the kid.
It was strange. The more he stared at him, the more he felt like there was something off about the whole situation. Jason would walk up to his parents, to show off a piece of artwork or something or rather, and they would good-naturedly brush him off. Even Jimmy had grown used to the kid's exploits, and merely acknowledged him with a slight smile. But Clark. . . Clark was different. His entire countenance would light up the second the boy came near, and Perry would catch him stealing away glances at the boy discreetly. Strange, he thought, but until tonight he never put two and two together.
Lois had disappeared somewhere, probably to the ladies' room, or knowing Lois, the roof to take a quick drag. Richard had gone into his own office, staring at some files on his computer, and rubbing his eyes tiredly. He was obviously running on fumes. And Jimmy was asleep in his chair next to the conference room, snoring lightly.
Only Clark and Jason were really up and around: Clark, working on typing up some notes, Jason still playing. It seemed to Perry that neither of them must need much sleep, because even the great Perry White was getting bleary eyed- and although he could have blamed it easily on the drink, he knew that he needed rest. An infinite amount of coffee shouldn't have kept Clark going at this ungodly hour.
Suddenly, Perry's attention was arrested from his thoughts as he watched Jason run straight up to Clark and jump into his arms. For a moment, Perry feared he would drop or hurt the child due to his clumsy nature. Much to Perry's shock, however, Clark caught the boy with surprising agility and fluidity, lifting him up and onto his lap as if he were as light as a feather. The kid giggled as he showed the mild-mannered reporter his latest artwork- Perry couldn't see it from here, but he could have sworn that something different flashed across Clark's features as he looked at it, for just a brief moment. It looked like a knee-jerk reaction of. . . fear? Perhaps. Then looking around and confirming that no one else could see it, a broad smile accompanied his features, one the likes of which Perry hadn't seen in a long time, if ever in Clark's face. Not since five years before, when he had pined after Lois. He beamed with something- pride maybe? As he looked into the boy in his arms, there was an unmistakable joy in his eyes.
Perry was mildly amused with this, trying to wrap his very frazzled mind around the possible reason for his sudden joy that he always held for the little boy before him. He continued to watch in interest at the interaction.
It would later be something that he would never forget, though he might try to falsely credit it to an entire bottle of scotch and latenight hours.
Jason smiled a goofy sort of grin up at the reporter before him, matching the look on Clark's face. Something clicked faintly in Perry's dulled mind. Then, keeping the grin on his face, Jason suddenly pulled the thick-rimmed glasses off of Clark's face and placed them on his own, Clark continuing to grin like a. . . well, like a highly amused five year old.
It took everything in Perry to keep his jaw from unhinging and falling on to the floor.
The resemblence was uncanny. He couldn't believe he had never noticed it before. It was spitting image.
It was remarkable how much difference a simple pair of glasses could make.
Suddenly the bottle Perry had been holding in hopes of pouring himself more to drink slipped from his hands and crashed to the floor, shattering and spilling the remains of his favorite scotch. Under any other circumstances, he would have probably swore up and down, mad that anything had gotten his attention so that made him forget his drink. His favorite drink. So what that he had a second bottle in his desk? But all things considered, the only thing he was able to do was slightly croak as he stared at the two of them. The instant the bottle had crashed, both heads snapped up to look his way and determine the source of the noise. Even though his doors had been closed, and it wasn't that loud even to Perry's ears. But in that instant he knew.
Both faces held the same look- a mixture of surprise and sheepish guilt, Jason still holding the oversized glasses up to his face and looking through them innocently. The same dark brown hair. The same mouth. The same bright blue eyes staring up at him.
It was those two pairs of bright, unnaturally blue orbs, shining at him, that finally sealed the deal. He noticed Clark stiffen, and watched as he whispered something to Jason, who nodded and handed back the glasses slowly. Taking them from his son's hands, Clark smiled and placed the dorky frames back on his face, and pushed them up the bridge of his nose with one finger. Setting the boy down, Jason ran off to go back to his toy trucks and crayons.
By the time Clark had reached Perry's office door, the editor-in-chief of the world's most famous newspaper still hadn't managed to pick his chin up off the desk. Clark walked in unannounced, uninvited, and firmly but quietly shut the door behind him. No tripping, no awkwardness, no pretenses anymore in front of his boss. He cleared his throat and fidgeted with his glasses- a nervous habit, no doubt, considering he really didn't need them anymore. By this point, Perry had the presence of mind to shut his mouth out of respect for who was standing in front of him, only to open it again in question.
Clark raised a hand to signal his editor to allow him to speak. "Mr. White, please, I can explain. If you'd just let me-"
"You're Jason's father," Perry blurted.
For a moment, Clark worried he had misinterpretted his boss's shock. His face lit up. "Um, y-yeah, heh, I am." The smile on his face reflected the gleam in his eyes. Perry knew it now. It was the look of fatherly pride.
"And you're Superman."
His face fell from the highly ecstatic expression previously held there by talk of his son at the mention of his alter-ego. "Yes," he stated simply, his voice dipping into the typical timber of the well-loved hero.
There was a slight pause. "I can't believe I never saw it until now. I've know you for, what, almost ten years? Less maybe? And I still couldn't guess that one of my star reporters- Clark Kent, for goodness sakes!- was Superman. After all these years, asking questions and writing stories and wondering about Superman- to have him here under our noses the whole time. Great Cesar's Ghost! I had Superman write his own articles! Do his own interviews!" Perry's expression was that of blank shock. He stared into space, wide-eyed and motionless. This somewhat concerned Clark.
"Sir? Mr. White?" He walked around the desk to see if he was alright and instead stepped in a pile of broken glass.
"Oh, Clark, careful!" he exclaimed with his typical sound of irritation- more out of habit than anything else. Then realization dawned upon him, of who he was warning, and he looked at his second-best reporter with a mixture of awe and undisguised fear.
Clark sighed slightly and, glancing around outside the chief's office to find no one else watching, used his super speed to clean up the mess in a matter of seconds. "There, that should do it." He smiled shyly until he looked up into his boss's face to find his jaw once again hung open. He sighed once more, this time with a bit of a darker, more serious look. "You do understand, Mr. White, sir, that this is not something I want getting out. There's a reason I wear the glasses here at work."
"Which is?" Perry managed to croak, the journalist inside him finally coming to the fore.
He glanced out of the windows in Perry's office and a soft smile illuminated his face as his gaze rested on the little boy playing outside. "To protect everyone I care about."
Perry somehow managed to collect himself as he followed Kent's gaze out to the child currently using Clark's desk edge as a racetrack for his toy truck. "Aw, hell, Kent. I knew that. I know what stories need to be killed in order to protect my sources. And as long as I keep wanting to scoop other papers, I'm not gonna tick off Superman, in any of his guises. I'm not that stupid."
Clark turned back to his boss and smiled at him. "Thank you, chief. I'm glad I can count on you. You don't know what this means to me."
"I do have a couple of questions though."
Clark shrugged and slumped into a chair before Perry White's desk, very un-Superman like, he mused. "Shoot," Clark said, taking off his glasses, no longer seeing the need for them. Besides, the complications were making his head hurt.
"First and foremost: do Lois and Richard know? I mean, it's obvious Jason does."
"Yeah, they do now. Lois got pretty mad at me, but Richard's taken it surprisingly well. Better than I am, I have to admit."
"Who else knows?" Perry continued, deciding to ignore the additional commentary for now to sort out later.
"Uh, no one, really. You, now. I suppose a couple of people back home might know, but for the most part, that's it. I've kept it a really well-guarded secret."
"Yeah, I can see that. What do you mean, back home, though?"
"Smallville." At the blank look Perry gave him, Clark elaborated. "You know, Kansas? Back where I grew up, on the farm. . ."
"I thought you were from Krypton."
Clark sighed. "Lois had a hard time with this at first, too. I wasn't born yesterday, Mr. White, sir. I arrived here when I was three years old, my parents adopted me and took me in, raised me as the child they could never have. Clark Joseph Kent is my real life, sir. Everything you know about my life is, for the most part, true. Clark Kent is not who I disguise myself as- Superman is the disguise."
These words sunk in with Perry White, and he felt as if his whole world had been turned upside down. Superman isn't real? Clark obviously noted the effect that had on his boss, as he began waving his hand in front of his boss's face. "Sir? Mr. White, sir?"
Suddenly he remembered himself. "Great shades of Elvis, Kent- you're Superman! You shouldn't be the one to call me 'sir.' It's like the whole world's gone mad."
Clark suddenly looked sheepish- like normal Clark, Perry noticed- and looked down at his feet. "Sorry, Perry. I know this must be confusing for you right now."
There was another pause, where Perry tried to wrap his incredibly befuddled mind around the situation as Clark continued to look shy and normal. Except for the fact that his glasses weren't on his face. And somehow, that made all the difference. "So. . . what should I call you now?"
Clark laughed at this. "I told you, I am Clark Kent. Not Kal'el. Not Superman. Something in between. What I am on tv or in the office isn't entirely me."
"So. . . you're not the world's biggest klutz?"
Clark's grin widened and a smile could be seen in his eyes. "Well, not as much as I make it appear. But you're forgetting you never get to see Superman just walking around in normal life. You just see him bursting through the walls of burning buildings and windows, never trying to fit his six foot four frame through a revolving door. Not to mention the fact that I wear a second pair of clothes underneath everything- and am constantly running about trying to handle two jobs. No, a lot of that is very real. I just can't use my reflexes in public very well."
"And the dork thing?"
Clark feigned a frown. "What dork thing?" he joked. "Seriously, though. I exaggerate things so it that there's no possible way for people to infer who I really am."
Perry shook his head with a smile lightening his features. "Well it works. You had me fooled for as long as I've known you." Clark smiled, then his eyes shifted down to his feet again. Perry couldn't understand why he always did that. Before it could have just been a method to avoid a gaze that was too intense, too suspicious. It could have just been a nervous Clark-ism, but now there was nothing to worry about. Why did he still look guilty? Perry wasn't upset with him for keeping it a secret- it was a big deal to keep something like this quiet, and announcing it to a newsroom wasn't exactly the way to do that.
Suddenly he thought maybe Clark believed he was mad at him. The man squirmed awkwardly, which did not suit the man of steel, but was very reminiscent of Clark Kent. Perry decided to ease the man's conscience. "Kent, stop your moping. I'm not mad at you. I'm actually kind of glad to have figured it out on my own. It explains a lot, gives me some time to think about it all. If you had just whipped off your glasses on your third week here, said "hey, I'm Superman," and offered me a handshake, I would have been beyond shocked. I appreciate that you take the time to consider your decisions. That's why I hired you in the first place- you're not as fully forward as Mad Dog Lane."
A sad sort of smile crossed his features once again, with a slight amount of relief in his blue eyes, but it was brief. "Thank you, Mr. White. For being so understanding." Unconsciously, Clark turned in his seat to glance towards the elevator.
What is he looking for? Perry thought, and was immediately answered when the elevator doors opened up and Lois Lane trotted out, looking tired but ever determined to get the job done. She went back into the conference room, where Clark noticed as he followed her with his eyes that Jimmy was still asleep and had taken to drooling. He shook his head, as if to clear his mind of everything and returned to the present, where Perry sat staring at him. He looked guiltily down again, feeling bad about getting caught.
"How did you- oh." Stupid question, Perry realized halfway through asking it. For the second time that night, Perry had a revelation. Suddenly everything made sense. Not just the unexplained absences and disappearing act, or the fact that he was never seen with Superman. Everything else fell into place. The random glances you would catch of him staring at you after you had just mentioned his name, as if he could hear you. Staring into nothingness. Staring after Lois, long after she had even left the room. The distracted look he got whenever something terrible seemed to be happening, as if he was listening to it in the distance. The inexplicable always-hot coffee. He could hear anyone's mutterings, and know exactly what to get for them. Particularly, Lois.
Lois. So that was why the guilty looks were there. She found out and she got mad at him? Or maybe she just gave him the cold shoulder- or worse, the raging bulldog side of her- for leaving her for all those years.
No, the whole Clark Kent is Superman thing added up. It added up quite nicely, too. What didn't add up was the situation with Lois. And Jason, he reminded himself.
"Uh, Kent? There's still one thing I don't get. Lois-"
He furrowed his brow and cut off his boss. "I know, chief. Or rather, I don't know. I-I," he paused, struggling for the right words as his features sunk into a deeper frown. "It's just, Lois and I. . . I mean. . ." Clark was having no such luck. He stood up in frustration and ran a hand through his thick, dark hair. He began pacing back and forth before Perry's desk, no longer focusing on the older man before him. "I-It's complicated, chief."
"Forget I asked. I don't mean to go off and pry into other people's lives. It's not my business to know."
Clark smiled wistfully. "Perry, you're the editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet. You're a journalist. It's exactly your business." That made Perry White chuckle. Then the scowl returned to grace Clark's countenance. "And frankly, it kind of feels good to be able to talk to someone about this. I can't exactly vent to Lois, or Richard for that matter. And as much as I love her, my mother seems to be very biased in her opinions- most of which don't agree with mine. And her bias isn't usually with me, either. You're the first real friend I could ever talk to about all this." At this he blushed and returned his gaze to the floor. Perry swelled with pride. Friend. Superman just called him his friend. And the only one he could confide in. Clark was always a very sheltered person, even not as Superman. Perry White was proud to know that he had his ace reporter's full trust.
Perry softened his tone. "You know, Clark, I know you must think I have some biases of my own, what with Richard being my nephew and all, but like your mother, I have other biases as well. But I just want you to know, if you ever want to. . . you know. . . talk, my door's always open. I can only imagine what kind of torture you must be going through right now. I don't want you escaping your problems via an island of kryptonite this time: the world needs you. Your son needs you." He paused to let this sink in. "And even though she'd kill me if she ever heard me say this, even Lois needs you. I don't know to what extent that need reaches, but it's there. Everyone of us needs Superman, if not for his help, for what he stands for. Keep that in mind the next time someone the likes of Luthor shows up."
Throughout his speech, Clark had turned slightly away from his boss and leaned against the wall, using his arm to prop him up. Now, he turned his face fully away, and Perry would be lying to himself if he didn't swear that he was trying to hide the tears in his eyes, discreetly brushing his sleeve against his face. Well, I'll be, Perry mused. He'd made Superman cry.
Finally Clark composed himself, and releasing a slow breath turned back to his boss once more. "Perry?"
Perry felt his pulse quicken as he stared in awe over the fact that Superman knew him by name, and was comfortable using it. "Yes?"
Clark smiled, with just a hint of sadness, but his expression mainly conveying the fact that he was deeply impressed with his boss's wisdom. "Where the hell were you when I ran off five years ago?"
At this Perry White grinned. Though he didn't know if it was because of the compliment or the fact that Superman just used the word 'hell' in a casual question to him. Continuing to grin, he responded. "I was trying to print a paper about the world's greatest hero, not realizing that I had him in front of me the whole time. Besides, they didn't hire me here just because I know how to yodel."
Clark nodded, still smiling, but he closed his eyes in an effort to gain some peace. "Thank you, Perry. You don't know how much I needed that. It's what my father would have said to me, if he were still here."
Suddenly it struck Perry that he had been referencing his father and he didn't know who he was referring to. "Your father. . . as in Superman's father?"
Clark looked at his toes in sadness and shifted his weight. "No. My real father. Jonathan Kent. He died when I was in high school. Heart attack. Even I couldn't save him." There was no mistaking the bitterness in his tone of voice. It must have been frustrating, Perry realized, to have so many abilities and not be able to help everyone, his own father included. Suddenly he saw the wisdom beyond the years in the eyes of the younger man before him. . . and the pain. So much pain. He had suffered alone enough, Perry decided firmly, and swore that he would help Clark Kent through anything if it meant lifting even some of the burden that weighed on the man's shoulders.
"But even Superman's father can't help me now. He's gone too, thanks to Luthor's latest exploits, and even though. . . we had our differences, the A.I. of my father and I. . . it's difficult to think that I'll never have any access to his knowledge anymore. Or hear his voice again. Or my mother's." He sank back into the same chair, this time folding his hands and leaning his face into them. He looked lost. Perry had no idea that Superman, let alone Clark Kent, had all of these problems. Sure, he figured the man took on the problems of the world. But to have such deeply personal problems, to see such pain evident and etched into his finely chiselled features. . . Perry White was at a loss for words.
Then he broke down. Clark Kent, Superman, was sobbing, crying his eyes out in his office. In Perry White's office.
He hadn't thought the man of steel could truly cry.
Perry knew his jaw was hanging open again, but once again he couldn't figure out what to do about it. He awkwardly made his way over to the mild-mannered reporter and placed a hand consolingly on his shoulder. "Um, there, there," he stated shakily, scared to death. What do you do to comfort a man whose personal life was this torn apart, let alone the man of steel? He heard Clark snivel and whimper as he muttered incomprehensible things into his arms that laid on Perry's desk. Of those things he could pick out a few words: something having to do with his mother, lots about death, kryptonite, and mostly, Jason and Lois. The only phrase he could make out clearly was simple, but it gave insight into what was truly on the man's mind. "I can't lose them." He didn't know how many people "them" included, but Perry had a feeling it pertained mostly to Jason and Lois.
Suddenly he noticed the little boy himself standing up outside the doors of his office, concern filling his big blue eyes. He must have heard Clark's sobbing and came to investigate. Looking down at the broken man in front of him, he decided to play it off and leave Jason out of this. Perry knew that the second that boy walked through the door, Clark would fiercely brush away his tears and become stern and strong again, and that wouldn't be good in the long run. He realized the best thing to do would be to let the man let it all pour out. Keeping all of this bottled up inside of him would kill him faster than a blade of kryptonite. Speaking of bottles. . .
Upon this realization, Perry decided to go around his desk and pull open a drawer. He waved Jason off with a smile and thumbs up signal, which the boy took to understand that it was grown up stuff and his Uncle Perry would fix it. Satisfied, the boy walked back to the couch where he had been forced to lie down under a fuzzy red blanket, though not before confirming that he could still see his Uncle Perry helping his daddy.
Perry smiled at the smart boy, and proceeded in undertaking his task at hand. From the file cabinet drawer he pulled out another bottle of scotch and a second tumbler. Clark was seemingly calming himself down, his sobs turning into slight hiccups, which only slightly shook the desk under his head. As he quieted himself, Perry poured two glasses of scotch with a wry smile on his face.
The sound of liquid pouring both soothed Clark and caught his curiosity. As he took a few deep breaths, he finally brushed away the last of his tears and looked up to see his boss leaning on the corner of his desk, holding out a tumbler full of scotch toward him. "Need a drink?" his boss smiled, though still appeared a bit disconcerted.
Clark scoffed at him, but took the glass appreciatively. Giving his boss a slight smile he said with a twinkle in his damp eyes, "You do know it would take about a tankard of this stuff to take the edge off of me?"
Perry laughed aloud, not hiding his mild surprise yet at the same time his previous knowledge of the fact. "Yeah, but scotch is scotch, and when offered, you drink. Even if you have an abnormally high tolerance for it."
Clark smiled genuinely at him, and they clinked their glasses before both drinking.
Jason, satisfied that his dad was no longer sad, finally closed his eyes and tried to sleep.
After finishing off their drinks, Clark looked at the floor again. "Thank you, Perry," he said quietly. "I really needed this. You have no idea how badly I needed someone to talk to about all this."
"No, Kent, I think I do have an idea. I think it's about time you go home and get some rest." That reminded Perry of something. "Oh, and by the way, have you found a place to stay yet?"
The squeamish look on Clark's face gave Perry the answer he needed. "Yes and no," Clark began. "I got the place, but it's not ready yet. The owners are still moving out, high-tailing it out of the city after the whole earthquake ordeal. It should be ready by Thursday."
"That's two more days! Where have you been staying all this time?"
"Around. In the sky, at my mom's, in Metropolis General Hospital. . ."
"Clark. . ." the tone in Perry's voice was that of an admonishing father.
"I know, chief, I know. But the skies are pretty comfortable and I haven't had much time to sleep anyways, what with helping clean up the whole New Krypton ordeal, and I've been staying at my mom's place on the farm much more often than you might think."
"What about Lois? You're the father of her child and she still hasn't asked you to stay over at her place?"
"No no, she has, believe me. I just. . . don't feel that comfortable interfering with their lives all that much right now. I don't want to cause any friction. Jimmy's offered too, but he doesn't know who I am just yet, and uh, I might have to run out and take care of some things, you know what I mean?"
"And I don't want to impose upon anybody else in the office, not that anyone's really cared much anyways."
"After all, I'm just dorky Kent, and-"
The tone in Perry's voice was that of his boss, not his friend and father figure. It was Chief, barking orders across the newsroom. Clark snapped to attention and stopped his rambling. "Yes, sir?"
"You're gonna stay with me for two nights. Alright?"
"Pardon?" If you had whispered in Perry's direction at that moment, he probably would have fallen flat on the floor. Though if it was Superman doing the whispering, he supposed he would be pushed over anyways. What impressed him the most was that Clark Kent was standing up to him. Being assertive. Bravo, he thought silently to himself while the rest of him spoke aloud. "No?"
"I can't impose on you, sir. Not when you're having issues with Alice right now."
Now it was Perry White's turn to stand at attention. "How'd you find out about that?"
Clark looked guiltily downwards and shuffled his feet before gesturing to his ears. "I don't miss much, sir. Hearing, remember?"
Perry sighed. "It's just a small spat. Not a knock down, drag out fight or anything. Nothing Superman would have to step in for. Besides, having a guest around might put some space between me and the missus."
"It's not just that, sir. It's-" then he stopped himself. What could he say without hurting the man's feelings? It's that nobody, not even you, cared about where I was until you found out I was Superman? That sounded harsh after all that his boss had just done for him, even if it did seem like the truth. Clark couldn't do that to the older man before him. It was too bitter. Superman wasn't supposed to get bitter, and Clark Kent wasn't either.
Perry obviously saw the debate going on in Clark's face and instantly knew the issue. "I'm sorry, Kent. I know I should have noticed before. But we were all just as busy- okay, maybe not just as busy as you were, but still. I noticed when you were gone. Those few days, I asked everyone around if they knew where you were, or where I could get ahold of you. I feared the worst had happened- and I'm not gonna lie, my first thought was what the world would do without the infamous Lane-Kent duo? At the time I knew it to be ridiculous, but for some reason my mind jumped to how we would ever get any Superman articles if you got seriously hurt. Now I understand that connection. No one knew where you were, where you were staying- you weren't even listed in the phone book. I even checked the hospital records, but came up empty handed. I didn't know you were already there. And I know Lois was worried too, after Superman ended up okay and you still hadn't returned. She panicked- almost as much as she did with Superman." Clark gave Perry a half-smile. "The point is, it's not just Superman I'm worried about. It's the ace reporter and friend to us all."
Clark's smile widened as relief spread across his brow. "Then thank you again, Mr. White. You're a great man."
Perry arched an eyebrow. "Is that a yes?"
Slowly, Clark nodded. "If that's still what you think is best."
Perry grinned. "Then get your stuff and we'll meet back here before I take off. That is, if everyone else here is done."
"Uh, chief? My stuff kind of is already here." He looked embarrassedly down as he scuffed the floor with the tip of his shoe.
If Perry had any sort of reaction to that statement, he did a good job not showing it. After everything else he'd learned tonight, this really wasn't as much of a shocker. "Alright then. Just, uh, make sure you've got things wrapped up here with Lois and Jimmy."
Clark turned his gaze to the outside surroundings of his office. "Um, chief?"
"What, Kent? For pete's sakes, spit it out already!"
"I don't think bailing is such a bad idea. The only one awake is Lois, and she's barely managing to keep her eyes open to finish that game of solitaire."
This time Perry's shock was visible. Then he settled himself and pointed to Clark's now bespectacled face. "You, uh, can see that?"
Clark, resembling himself much more now that the thick-rimmed frames were once again on his face, grinned from ear to ear. "And hear the snoring," he added. "But we should probably let them all know we're going."
Perry nodded as he grabbed his coat and briefcase, then headed out the door. Kent, as usual, followed. "Oh, and Kent, one last question. Are they. . . you know. . . fakes?" He gestured to his eyes.
Clark gave a soft laugh. "No, they're actual glasses. For a while there when I was younger I did need them- I had horrible vision, and tons of health problems. As my powers developed more fully I got better in every aspect- but by then I realized they were an effective disguise. Besides, I had gotten used to them. Even now sometimes it feels funny flying around without them. The prescription doesn't really effect me anyways though, since I can see through pretty much anything." He grinned at his flabbergasted boss before they continued on their path.
They walked into the conference room, Perry shaking his head good-naturedly at his reporter before turning his attention to Lois. "Lois," Perry began. "Kent and I are headed out. You should be too."
"Clark?" she asked groggily.
"Yeah, he finally took me up on an offer to stay with me and Alice until his place clears out. You take Richard and Jason on home, get some rest." He turned to the snoring, drooling form scrunched into the chair. "Jimmy," Perry said, slightly shaking the kid from his slumber. "Go home, get some sleep. What's wrong with you people?"
Jimmy stirred and managed to stand up without really opening his eyes. Lois finally realized what it was that Perry White had said and was just now processing it. "Clark? You're staying with Perry?" she asked, befuddled.
"Just until Thursday, when my apartment clears out."
Perry caught the look of rage on Mad Dog Lane's face before she quickly brought it back under control. Uh-oh. Perry knew what that look meant. "Fine. See you guys tomorrow." She shut her laptop with a loud click and turned on her heel. "Oh, and Clark?"
Perry pitied the man, who had a look of slight fear spread across his features. He knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of Lois Lane's anger, as did almost everyone in the newsroom. "Y-yes Lois?" Although he knew Superman didn't stutter, Perry suspected that this was one of the few times he did so genuinely.
She smiled sweetly. "Did you enjoy your time with Jason today?"
Clark visibly flinched, as her words obviously struck a chord with him. He looked as though she'd just punched him in the gut, only if she had he wouldn't have been hurt at all. So this was how you really hurt Superman: a five foot five brunette threatening his time with his son. Perry watched him square his jaw firmly, and for a moment was concerned that he might just lose it. Instead, the tall reporter just smiled through the pain. "Always, Lois."
She smirked and walked over to him. Leaning in closely, she whispered, though not so quiet that Perry couldn't catch it if he tried. "Because his window will be locked tonight." And with that, she stalked off to go collect her son and her fiancee and drive them home.
No, Perry corrected himself, this was how you killed Superman. Clark looked as if she had just convinced him to part his lips just enough, in hopes of a kiss- and instead had shoved a chunk of kryptonite down his throat. And he was forced to swallow it.
He didn't even turn to watch her as she walked off, his face reddening, though Perry highly doubted it was a lovestruck blush. Clark kept his eyes fixed on where she had been when she had uttered those words; in fact, he didn't look after them at all until the elevator door opened. As he turned Clark Kent saw his son looking drowsily at him over Richard's shoulder. As they stepped in, his eyes met Lois's in a silent plea, begging her to not do this, not cut him off from his son- even if it was just for two nights. Her eyes did not reflect any such sympathy. As the elevator doors closed, the last thing that could be seen, by Perry anyways, was Jason's tired wave goodbye to his father and Lois slyly but rather obviously fixing her eye makeup using a particular finger meant for Clark. Clark's gaze followed the elevator down with his eyes for a little while, returning the wave despite the fact that the doors were long since closed.
Ouch, Perry thought, wincing in sympathy for the reporter by his side.
Clark in turn sighed and shoved his hands into his coat pockets as he sulked. Perry clapped him on the shoulder in reassurance, nodding to him to signify all would be well. Clark tried to give a smile in return, but it came out looking pathetic.
Then Jimmy spoke up. "What was all that about?"
Clark practically jumped out of his skin and floated above the floor in shock. "Uh, um, what exactly was what about?"
Jimmy appeared confused, but brushed it off as an aspect of his imagination that still wasn't fully functioning. What other reasonable explanation was there that Lois Lane had spoken with Clark about Jason? Or more importantly, had flipped Kent the bird? Maybe he was wrong, maybe it was intended for Perry. He couldn't imagine what CK could have done to tick Lois off that much. "Anyways, I'm going to catch a cab home."
"S-see you Jimmy." Clark stuttered.
He grunted a response and headed towards the elevator. Perry chuckled at the boy as Clark went and dug up his things from the supply closet. The elevator ride down was very quiet between Clark and Perry. Just when he'd thought he had pretty well patched up Clark for the day, Lois came in and tore up all his hard work. Now the man of steel was looking even more depressed.
The cab ride home was very similar to the elevator. Finally, Perry White could no longer handle the silence. "Lois will come around, Clark. You know how her temper swings as well as anyone. Maybe better than anyone. She's not going to make good on her threat. But for your own safety, I would avoid going in her general vicinity for a day- you know, let her cool off."
Clark cringed. "So you heard?"
"Even if I hadn't heard, I would have been able to put two and two together by the reaction she got out of you. You looked like you just ate kryptonite."
Clark gave a small laugh at the comparison. "Yeah, felt like it too."
Back to silence. Then, closer to Perry's place, Clark added, "Are you sure Alice will be alright with this? I mean, I can always, you know, go back to my mom's place and rest up- it'd only take a couple of seconds for me-"
"Clark, you're not getting out of this. Number one, you're still recuperating in more than one way. Number two, Alice loves you anyways. She'd be happy to have you."
"Even at," He checked his watch, "1:47 in the morning?" he asked disbelievingly.
Perry shrugged. "If she realizes you don't have a place anymore."
The driver stopped and the two men pulled out their items, Clark bumbling with his suitcases to put up a good show. He knew the man could have lifted them all with his pinky finger if he'd wanted to. Perry shook his head.
How had he been so easily fooled all these years?
A/N: Yay! I apologize for its length, but I couldn't find a better place to stop. More to come, and I promise I will update my other stories as well!
Review Please! Clark loves hearing positive things about the things he does (though he takes criticism well so long as it is well-deserved). XD