Old Reporters Never Die
By Laura Picken
Hi everyone! This is my first Lois and Clark story...yes, really. I started it a long time ago, and only recently found it as I was transferring all of my old fan fiction to my author page here on . And after I read it, it occurred to me that in all the incarnations of Superman I've ever seen, I *still* have yet to see this particular version of a revelation story. So I polished it off, finished it up and here you have it. Enjoy! :-)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Lois and Clark. Really. I just wanted to give Perry and Jimmy a little long-overdue respect... Timeline would place it just after the season 2 premiere.
He had his life back. Sometimes Perry could hardly believe it – the whole thing had gone down so fast. First Lex had taken his paper, then the explosion, shutting down – the wedding…and now the paper was back. Under new ownership and looking like it's going to come back better than ever. Perry looked out the replaced glass – Plexiglas, now, courtesy of Mr. Stern – of his office window and sipped slowly on his coffee, watching Lois and Clark interact with each other. He had to admit, Kent's instincts about Luthor were right on the money from day one. If he had let Kent follow up on it when he had first hired that boy, none of this would have happened – and it was only because Clark Kent refused to give up on his surrogate daughter Lois Lane that he had been given this second chance at all.
Yes, he owed everything to Kent; which made what he was about to do all that much harder. He pulled out a bottle of champagne and three glasses and set them on top of a thick manila folder on his desk labeled "Kent, Clark – CONFIDENTIAL". Perry then went to his door.
"Kent! Jimmy! My office!"
Jimmy followed Clark into the office. And while both men simply sat down on the couch, Perry couldn't help but notice the slightly surprised – and was that pleased? – smile on Jimmy's face when the young man recognized the folder on which the champagne sat. Perry couldn't help but comment, "I take it you recognize this, Jimmy?"
"Yes sir, chief – I think it's about time."
Clark's eyes darted back and forth between the two men, wondering what was going on between *them* that apparently no one else seemed to know about. And why they were letting him in on it. Finally he settled on asking the man in charge. "Chief? What's going on here?"
No sense beating around the bush, thought Perry. Closing the door to his office, he began. "Clark, I want to thank you for everything you've done for the Planet over the past few weeks. If you hadn't been so persistent about taking down Lex Luthor, I might still be out on some lake somewhere, fishing and trying to convince myself to enjoy my 'retirement'." Perry silenced Clark before Clark could open his mouth to reply. "Before you say anything, I just wanted you to know that because I'm so grateful that you gave me this part of my life back, I think it's high time I gave part of yours back to you."
Now Clark was really confused. "What's this about, Chief?"
Perry went back to his desk and cleared the champagne off the folder. "When new reporters are hired here at the Daily Planet, we do a thorough background check. We have to, so you can be listed under our insurance policy." Clark nodded. "Well son, when the information in your background check came back, a lot of things just plain didn't add up. You have no criminal record, no history of anything bad happening in your past *ever*, and yet after high school you moved around every few months like you were running from something. So, since I couldn't start handing you longer assignments without knowing if you'd be around to complete them or not, I had Jimmy here start following you."
Clark drew in a sharp breath, not liking where this was headed. Perry noted the younger man's concern with compassionate understanding. He'll thank me for this later, I'm sure. Still, the editor pressed on. Picking up the folder, he handed it to Clark with a solemn dignity. "I think you already know what's in here, son."
Clark took the folder to the couch and sat down, opening it slowly so the contents wouldn't fall out as he flipped through them. It was everything he suspected it was: photo after photo of him, followed by a photo of Superman showing up in the same location. One or two could have been shrugged off, but there were *dozens*. Far too many for anyone to pass off as mere coincidence. The evidence was overwhelming, and not in his favor.
Jimmy finally spoke up at Clark was about to flip to the last photo in the folder. "This one's my favorite," the young photographer admitted with a cat-who-swallowed-the-canary grin on his face. The photo was a composite of two copies of his Daily Planet ID photo: one left as is...
...and one where most of his glasses had been removed from the photograph using digital editing software.
The last photo erased any doubts from Clark's mind. Knowing that no one other than the two men in the room would be able to see him from the spot where he was sitting, Clark removed his glasses.
Jimmy couldn't help but gasp. "CK, wow...I mean, after following you around for so long, I knew it in my head, but to see it in person...it's...it's really you. Wow..."
Clark didn't know what to feel. It was hard for him to look either man in the eye. "Mr. White, how long have you known?"
"A while," Perry stated matter-of-factly. "Let's just leave it at that."
Clark closed the folder, making sure none of its contents we're visible before finally getting the courage to look the older man in the eye.
Perry didn't back down for a second. "Hell's bells, Clark. I didn't get this desk because of my pretty face. I'm a *reporter*. Asking questions is what I *do*."
"You do understand how dangerous this file is, sir?"
Perry nodded. "I do."
"If these ever got into the wrong hands..." Clark's voice trailed off, and Perry swore that he could have heard the younger man's breath catch right at the end of that sentence. Superman, the "Man of Steel", the greatest hero Metropolis will probably ever know, had just revealed to *him* his greatest fear.
Perry finally allowed himself a small smile. "Well, then let's take care of that right now, shall we?" He took the file from the younger man's hands, then being careful to face the dangerous images toward his desk, shredded every picture, one by one, watching as the destruction of each page seemed to take a incremental amount weight off of the hero's shoulders. After finally shredding the folder itself, Perry reached behind the desk and pulled out another envelope. Turning to the third man in the room, he never took his eyes off Clark as he asked, "Jimmy, are these all the negatives for the photos that were in that folder?"
"Yes, sir. As you requested," Jimmy replied, never losing his smile.
"You're not keeping copies for yourself, are you, son?"
"Not a single one, sir."
Perry then shredded the negatives. Sitting down in his chair behind the desk, Perry spoke firmly, but directly. "Son, I owe you my life. So does everyone in this building, everyone in this city...hell, everyone on this planet probably owes you their lives in some way or another. But I owe you my life in a way that's more special than anybody else does. I owe my life to both Superman *and* Clark Kent. I want you to rest assured that all of...this is a secret I will take to my grave. I swear it on the music of the King himself."
"Here here," echoed Jimmy, losing the smile just long enough to show how much value he placed in keeping the secret himself.
Clark finally allowed himself to relax just the tiniest bit, until he remembered the one person who wasn't in the room. The one that Perry loved like a daughter. "You won't tell Lois?"
"No son, that's between you and her. Although if you ask me, I think you underestimate her ability to handle this information. Still, it's your secret to tell, not mine."
"So what did you call me in here for, sir?" asked Clark, confused.
Perry leaned across his desk like he was about to tell...like he was about to tell Clark's secret. "Son...I want you, once and for all...to stop using those damn excuses."
Clark blinked twice, sure he wasn't hearing things correctly. "Excuse me, sir?"
Perry finally allowed himself a hearty chuckle that Jimmy quickly joined him in. "Clark, for someone who lives his life in a disguise all day you are probably the worst liar I've ever met. When you leave here in a high-falootin' hurry, it's because Superman's needed somewhere, right?" When Clark nodded, Perry continued on, "Then boy, from this point on just *go*. If anyone asks any questions, Jimmy or I will cover for you."
Clark finally let out a true sigh of relief. "That's it?"
"That's it," replied Perry with a broad smile. "Son, what you do for this city every day...sometimes I'm just glad this old houndog's stayed alive long enough to witness it. And since you have never once disappointed me as a reporter, then once I learned about this I only felt it fair to let you know that *this* comes first. Clark, you know I love Lois as if she were my own daughter. Well, I want you to know I care about you like I would my own son. If that means having to lie for you on occasion, then so be it."
Jimmy squeezed his friend's rock-hard shoulder in support. "Same here, CK, same here."
Clark was finally able to allow himself to relax and smile. As he put his glasses back on, he asked his boss, "So what's the champagne for, chief?"
Perry got up from his chair and move around until he could reach the bottle. "This is to celebrate the resurrection of the Daily Planet, and to thank the men who made it all possible." The editor removed the foil and wire cage, then tried to pull out the cork...and failed miserably. "It's days like this where I wish they made good screwtop champagnes..." lamented Perry as he caught his breath. Giving up, he handed the bottle over to Clark. "Son, would you mind...?"
Clark grabbed the bottle, turning it away from prying eyes, then uncorked it effortlessly...the foam erupting out of the bottle and right into the waste basket that held the shredded remains of the 'evidence' Perry and Jimmy had collected.
Handing the bottle back to Perry, the editor poured three glasses, giving one to each of the younger men while keeping the third for himself. Raising the glass, he kept his toast simple. "To the Daily Planet. May she always be around to tell people the truth."
"Here here," the two other men chimed in in unison, clinking their glasses. Clark took a sip and his eyebrows raised in surprise. "Chief, this isn't champagne, is it? It's beer!"
"Do I look like a champagne man to you, boy?" Perry joked, taking the glasses away from the two men as they laughed right along with him. "Of course it's beer, now get back to work!"
Well? What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments!