Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
This is how you remind me
Of what I really am
-Nickelback, "How You Remind Me"
It was Chloe's fault, really. She'd looked up at him as he stood in front of her desk at the Daily Planet, for the fifth time that week, smiled, and said, "You know, you're here so often you might as well work here."
The idea rolled around in Clark's head. It was crazy, but it wouldn't go away. Chloe had always wanted to be a journalist, practically since the time she was a toddler. Clark, on the other hand-- well, he'd worked on the student newspaper in high school, and when people asked what his major would be in college, he'd always said "journalism." But he didn't live and breathe journalism, the way Chloe did.
He'd taken a year off college after his dad died. But when he'd finally gotten back to college this year, he'd found himself signing up for a journalism course on a whim.
And wonder of wonders, he liked it.
He'd published some articles in the school newspaper, and a few in the Smallville Ledger. After a semester, he'd gotten a little portfolio of his best work together and diffidently approached Perry White.
He'd saved Perry's life once, and Perry had told him to look him up if he ever got to Metropolis, that he owed him one. But Perry had moved up in the world since then, rising from reporter to the Planet's Editor-in-Chief. And from everything Clark had heard, he wasn't the kind of guy who'd hire a reporter who couldn't write, no matter what. The Planet meant too much to him.
Sure enough, Perry had scowled as he looked over Clark's articles.
"You've got some talent, kid," he said, thumbing through the papers. "But you also have a long way to go."
"Um..." Clark shifted in his chair, feeling awkward, because he knew perfectly well that shooting for the Daily Planet was a pipe dream. He was a sophomore in college, and he'd hardly done any professional work. He was clearly crazy to have even stepped into Perry's office. "I realize that, sir. And I'm happy to start at the bottom. I just want a job here. Any job."
"Any job," Perry said, and Clark saw a little glint of amusement in his eyes. "Okay, kid. I have a job for you, then."
Which was how Clark wound up in the file room, sorting the vast amount of paper that came through the Planet every day-- and there was a hell of a lot of paper, considering they'd gone "paper free" about five years ago-- filing it, and delivering files where they needed to go.
The good thing about his job was that he got to see Chloe every day. She'd recently been promoted out of the basement, and she was working upstairs now. He often stopped to chat with her, longer than he really should, and wound up superspeeding his way down empty halls to make up for it later.
The bad thing about his job was that he got to see Jimmy Olsen every day. Jimmy was still dating Chloe, and he'd always seen Clark as some sort of threat for some reason. He seemed greatly amused to see Clark working as a file clerk, and he didn't hesitate to let Clark know about his amusement. Seeing Jimmy sneer at him every day, knowing he was probably dissing him to Chloe behind Clark's back, irritated the crap out of him.
The truth was, being a file clerk pricked Clark's ego a little. He knew he was very likely the strongest man on Earth, capable of miraculous feats. And here he was working as a file clerk-- and getting sneered at for it.
Doing menial labor didn't really bother him, because he'd grown up on a farm. But being sneered at for it, day after day, right in front of the girl he liked better than anyone else in the world, was really starting to grate on his nerves.
But he put up with it, because he knew he'd better get used to it. It wasn't like he could go out and save people and get recognized for it. If anyone knew what he could do, beyond his very limited circle of secretkeepers, he'd wind up in a government lab somewhere, being experimented on until the day he died-- and since he was probably immortal, that could be a hell of a long time. His abilities had to stay secret, and that meant he could never hope to be known as anything other than plain old Clark Kent.
He might as well get used to being seen as less than what he really was.
More to come...