Season 7 (some plot, dialogue and wording from the pilot episode of "Lois and Clark")
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the previous chapter here.
Read the story from the beginning here.
Clark directed his heat vision toward the bulldozer for a split second, and its engine promptly died. The crowd cheered, and the driver got out, shaking his head. Clark made his way through the crowd, heading for the theater.
The interior of the theater was dark and quiet. As he'd already observed, the old woman-- Beatrice-- was onstage, barely visible in the dim light. Her voice was cracked and brittle, but it rang out clearly as she spoke.
"Oh, you are a devil. You can twist the heart in a girl as easy as some could twist her arms to hurt her. Mrs. Pearce warned me. Time and again she has wanted to leave you; and you always got round her at the last minute. And you don't care a bit for her. And you don't care a bit for me."
She paused, as if waiting for an answer, and Clark spoke in return.
"I care for life, for humanity; and you are a part of it that has come my way and been built into my house. What more can you or anyone ask?"
Beatrice blinked in confusion and squinted into the darkness of the theater. "Who's there?"
Clark stepped forward. "My name is Clark Kent," he said, gently. "That's Pygmalion, isn't it?"
"Yes. I performed it here once, a long time ago." She tilted her head on one side in a birdlike gesture. "You know it well. Are you an actor?"
"No, ma'am," he answered with the careful courtesy for his elders that had been drilled into him by his parents. "We read it in my senior English class."
"You must have liked it, or you wouldn't have memorized it."
He didn't bother to try to explain that he memorized everything he read, from the phone book to Shakespeare, without any effort at all. There was no point in getting into that. At any rate, he'd liked Shaw's play pretty well.
"Mind if I watch?" he asked.
"It will be a while," she warned him. "I'm not leaving until I finish this scene."
"That's all right." He glanced straight through the wall, seeing the bulldozer operator still trying to figure out what was wrong with his machine. "We have some time."
"They just don't understand." Her voice was plaintive, and its strength faded. Suddenly she sounded frail and old. "A theater... it's more than bricks and mortar. It's drama, passion, mystery... life." She uttered a long sigh that sounded like the whisper of a gentle breeze and glanced around at the dim interior of the building. Even in the semidarkness, he could see the sorrow in her eyes. "Don't make me go. Not quite yet."
"Okay," Clark said gently. "Finish the scene."
She looked at him. "Do you understand why I'm here?"
"I understand," he answered. "You're just not quite ready to let this all go."
Her face creased with wrinkles as she smiled at him. Even through the abundant lines that crisscrossed her dry skin, he could see she must have once been a very pretty woman, with fine-boned, piquant features.
He imagined her, much younger, up on stage, performing in front of a packed theater, and words began to form in his head. Suddenly he knew exactly how he wanted to rewrite his article.
He frowned as Jimmy's words ran through his mind, a reflection of his own doubts and insecurities: You're not a writer. You're just a file clerk. You might as well go back to the farm.
With an effort, he shrugged those words away. There was nothing wrong with being a farmer or a file clerk, he reminded himself. But being a reporter was his future. He felt certain of that.
It was hard to see himself as a reporter, particularly one who wrote for the Daily Planet. That was setting his sights very high, and he knew it. But he had to have faith that he could do it.
Sometimes it was hard to let go of the past, to let go of what he'd once been and embrace what he was becoming. Sometimes it was hard to take risks and try new things. But he had to try.
A smile curved his lips as he remembered Chloe's simple words: You're a reporter.
Chloe, at least, recognized his potential, and reminded him of it every day. She believed in him, in a way no one else did. He was grateful for his best friend, who'd encouraged him to turn away from the past, and to work toward the future.
The old woman smiled down at him. "You do understand," she said.
He sat down in one of the old chairs, which creaked ominously under his weight, and nodded.
"Yes, ma'am," he said. "I do. Sometimes it can be really hard to say goodbye to the past. But sooner or later... you have to let it go."
The next morning, he put the Daily Planet's B section down on Chloe's desk. She took one look at the article he pointed to, then squealed.
"Perry bought it!"
She jumped to her feet and flung her arms around his neck, and he hugged her so hard her feet came right off the ground. He found himself laughing out loud at her exuberance, and he swung her around, right in the middle of the bullpen.
He saw several people grinning at them, but abruptly he realized Jimmy wasn't one of them. Jimmy's mild blue eyes were blazing. He looked like he wanted to kill.
There had been a time when he and Jimmy had been on halfway decent terms, but their uneasy friendship had skidded to an abrupt halt when Clark had begun to work here, and suddenly Clark understood why.
As he became more and more a part of the Planet, he was beginning to intrude on Jimmy's turf. As a visitor at the Planet, even a frequent one, he'd been an outsider. But he'd become a Planet employee, and now he was a journalist, or at least a freelancer. And since Chloe worked here, that meant he was moving into Chloe's life in yet another way.
Judging from the look in Jimmy's eyes, he was seriously threatened by that. It was obvious that Jimmy saw him as competition, both professionally and romantically.
And really, the fact that he and Chloe were wrapped around one another in public couldn't be helping matters.
Clark cleared his throat and lowered Chloe to the ground, his cheeks suddenly flaming. "Um," he said, suddenly very uncomfortable, because it had abruptly dawned on him that hugging another guy's girlfriend in public was sort of bad form. He could sympathize with Jimmy's dark glower pretty well. "Anyway. I just wanted to show you..."
Chloe was oblivious to his embarrassment, or Jimmy's anger. She'd already picked up the paper and was scanning his article with interest.
"She came to say goodbye," she read out loud. "Goodbye to a young girl in a gossamer dress, goodbye to the players, long dead, goodbye to the spirit of the theater, so strong that nothing, not even a wrecking ball, could destroy it. She came to say goodbye, as we all must, to the past, and to a life and a place that soon would exist only in a bittersweet memory."
She put the paper down on her desk and looked up at him with bright eyes. "Wow, that's really well written, Clark. I have to admit, though, I didn't know you had such a poetic side. I don't remember you ever waxing so poetic at the Torch."
He shrugged uncomfortably and offered her a faint smile. "It's hard to wax poetic about gym mats, Chlo."
She laughed, a happy sound that made him want to smile more broadly. "Congratulations on your first Planet byline, Clark. Now you can say goodbye to the past, too. I think we both know where you're headed."
Clark glanced uncomfortably at Jimmy, who still looked really irritated. "Right now," he said, turning around and speaking over his shoulder, "I'm headed for the file room."
Even though he was walking away from her, he heard her comment clearly, even without using his superhearing.
"Trust me," she said. "You're headed for a lot bigger places than the file room."
He couldn't stop a big, stupid grin from spreading over his face as he headed for the stairs. He really hoped Chloe was right. A little human interest story might not be major or earth-shattering, but it felt like the first step toward his future. He was a real writer now, with a byline in the best newspaper in the world.
He'd write more articles, and suddenly he felt confident that he'd manage to sell them to Perry, too. And eventually, maybe Perry would offer him a job as a real journalist.
He wasn't going to stop trying for that, at any rate. He couldn't let anything get in his way-- not his own self-doubts, not the angry words of a guy who was threatened by the closeness between him and Chloe, and not even Perry's efforts to discourage him, which he now realized were a way of challenging him, of tossing down a gauntlet and seeing if he'd pick it up.
He truly wanted to be a reporter, and he was going to fight to become one.
And maybe, he thought, just maybe, there were other things in his life he ought to fight for a little harder, too. He remembered the feel of Chloe's arms around his neck, the feel of her soft body against his. She'd felt so right in his arms that it hadn't even occurred to him that holding another guy's girlfriend publicly might be wrong.
For the first time Clark admitted to himself that Jimmy was right to be suspicious and angry and bitter, because his feelings for Chloe weren't nearly as platonic as he tried to pretend.
And maybe it was time he did something about that, too. Maybe it was time he took another risk, made another effort to change things.
But right now, he had work to do.
He walked into the file room in the basement, squared his shoulders, and looked ruefully at the massive piles of paper that had somehow accumulated since yesterday. He had a lot of work to do.
Before he began, though, he carefully cut out his article and pinned it up on the wall, where he could see it as he worked. He pinned it up as a reminder to himself of what he'd accomplished, and a reminder of what he really was.
And a reminder of what he was going to be.