Chloe and Grant
Season 7 (spoilers for "Persona")
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Screencap from SVfan.
Chloe Sullivan paused just outside her editor's office in surprise. Grant Gabriel, aka Wonder Boy Editor, was seated behind his huge oaken desk, busily throwing things into a box. He looked up, and a humorless smile curved his mouth.
"Yes," he said coolly. "I've been fired."
"I... I'm sorry."
"No, you're not. Don't bother mouthing the polite platitudes, Sullivan. I'm sure you, of all people, are glad to see me go."
She hesitated, because it was true that Grant Gabriel had rubbed her the wrong way since the day he'd walked into the Daily Planet. He was a young, handsome man with a wide smile, but in their very first encounter, he'd called her writing "filler stories" and implied she'd lost her spark for journalism.
From that moment on, he'd irritated the hell out of her.
Even so, she hated to see him packing up, because she knew this was probably just the first round of cutbacks. Lex Luthor recently just purchased the Planet, and he'd likely be remolding it to his satisfaction. And that meant she herself was unlikely to stick around, as her one purpose in life was to take down Lex Luthor, and Lex knew it.
"I'm sorry you lost your job," she said at last. She couldn't say she was sorry he was leaving, because she wasn't.
He smiled wryly, and she knew he understood what she was saying, and what she'd left unsaid.
"I'm the one who should apologize," he said, stuffing photos into the box. "Everything I said to you-- it was a lie."
She blinked in surprise, taking a step into the expansive office. Grant's office was on the top floor, with a view of the entire city. It was very different from her small, cramped desk in the basement. "Excuse me?"
"Your writing isn't filler. It's damn good. Don't let me or anyone else discourage you from your destiny, Sullivan. You're going to do great things, and write great stories."
"Um..." She walked across the office, right to his desk, and frowned down at him. "Why exactly would you have lied about something like that?"
He tossed an award into the box. "Because," he said, "I've been working for Lex Luthor."
Well, that explained a lot. "I see," she said, adopting the neutral tone she used when she wanted to keep a source talking.
"And Lex Luthor," Grant said, sorting rapidly through a pile of what looked like personal correspondence, "wants to keep you down, Sullivan. He's not afraid of your cousin, or anyone else at this paper. But he's afraid of you. He's worried you're going to expose his secrets, so he forced the Planet to hire me. He wanted me to keep an eye on you, and to keep you steered away from writing about him as much as possible. And he wanted me to discourage you."
She stared at him. The idea that Grant Gabriel had been hired to keep her from exposing Lex had never occurred to her. She didn't have that kind of ego. At any rate, it seemed to her that it would have been easier for Lex to just have her fired, if he'd had that kind of pull at the Planet all this time. But then again, Lex always had belonged to the Rube Goldberg school of villainy. He never did anything the simple, straightforward way.
Apparently Lex and Grant had had some sort of falling out, though, or Grant wouldn't be packing all his personal items into boxes. No surprise there, though, since Lex went through minions the way ordinary people went through M&Ms. Although most of his minions wound up dead, so Grant really ought to count himself lucky.
"But now that you're leaving," she said, "you're telling me all this because...?"
He shrugged. "Because you deserve to know that you're a good journalist. Because you, unlike me, are all about truth. And because Lex Luthor doesn't deserve my loyalty."
At the pain in his voice, she couldn't help feeling sorry for him, despite everything he'd done to her over the past few months. He threw a last photo into the box, then stood up and lifted it, holding it against his chest.
And then he put it down again.
"None of it's real," he said softly.
She lifted her eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
"It's not real." There was a thread of sorrow running through his voice she'd never heard before. Ordinarily he was jovial, issuing even insults in a hearty, cheerful tone that made her long to bash his head in with a stapler. But now he sounded almost tragic. "None of this is real. I'm not real."
She wasn't sure what he meant, but she held out a hand, trying instinctively to comfort him, even though Grant Gabriel didn't really deserve her compassion. "Look, Grant," she said gently, dropping the Mr. Gabriel thing, "just because you lost this job doesn't mean you're not--"
"No." He sounded angry. "It has nothing to do with the job. Don't you understand? None of this--" He pointed to his head. "--is real. It's someone else's memories. Some other editor's life."
She shook her head, puzzled. "I don't quite..."
He reached out a hand and sifted through the box. "None of this is real, either. The photos, the awards-- it's not mine. It was never mine."
She still had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, but she couldn't ignore the heartrending note of sorrow in his voice. "Grant," she said, more gently than before. "It'll be all right."
"No." He sounded grim. "Nothing will ever be right again."
He picked up the box again, then hesitated, thinking about it, and put it back onto the desk. He walked slowly toward the door, his hands empty, and then paused, looking down at her.
"Remember what I told you, Sullivan," he said softly. "You're good. Damn good. Don't let Lex or anyone else convince you otherwise."
She hesitated. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me," he said. "I did everything I could to hold you back, and I'm sorry for it." He looked at her, his eyes intense. "Unlike me, you have a life. Make sure you live it."
He turned and left the office, and she stared after him, wondering what the hell that had all been about. He disappeared around the corner, and she looked back at the empty office, thinking about what he'd said.
Grant had been fired, and if Lex was that determined to keep her down, she'd probably be next. But she wouldn't let that stop her from continuing to work on the story that she'd spent most of her time on for the past eight months. She'd keep digging. Sooner or later, she'd find what she needed, and she'd take Lex Luthor down. Even if her story couldn't be printed in the Planet, even if she had to take it to a paper in another city-- she'd get the job done.
She remembered Grant's voice: Don't let me or anyone else discourage you from your destiny, Sullivan. You're going to do great things, and write great stories. You, unlike me, are all about truth.
Squaring her shoulders, she left the huge, empty office, and headed back toward her small, cluttered desk in the basement.
She had a lot of work to do.