Perry and full cast, from "Perry"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the story from the beginning here.
Read Chapter 2 here.
"Two meteor craters," the kid said as he walked into what had once been a movie theater, Perry just behind him. The scent of expensive coffee and muffins filled the air, making Perry's mouth water. "That's it? You don't want to see anything else?"
Perry grinned, then looked around at the decor. Good God, someone had gone seriously overboard with the Egyptian motif. The place was so full of gold paint it practically glittered. His eyes hurt.
Well, he couldn't blame that totally on the decor, he admitted to himself, aware that he was still suffering from yesterday's overindulgence. There was a nagging ache at the base of his skull, his eyes burned, and his mouth still felt full of cotton.
What he needed was a drink. A drink would definitely help cure what ailed him.
"Well," he answered, "blown-out buildings and sinkholes are background, Clark. Now I'm looking for substance. Texture. The human dimension."
He walked toward the bar, even though it looked like all he'd find amidst the glitter was coffee. Good thing he had a flask in his pocket, he thought.
He remembered he'd drained it earlier, and sighed. Damn it. It looked like he was going to have to make do with coffee.
As he approached the bar, a very pretty dark-haired girl stepped out of the swinging doors behind it, her dark green eyes lighting up at the sight of Clark. Perry glanced at Clark, seeing a dorky look of adoration cross the kid's face, along with a big, stupid smile.
It had been a long, long time since Perry had suffered from puppy love, but he was pretty sure that was what he was seeing here. The kid had a crush on this girl. And no wonder. She was remarkably pretty.
She'd look great on camera.
"Clark," the girl said, looking concerned, "is everything all right? Pete waited for you until after ten o'clock last night."
Clark looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet awkwardly, so typically sixteen that Perry could hardly restrain a smile. It had been a long time since he'd been sixteen, too, but he did remember being hopelessly tongue-tied and clumsy around girls, one or two in particular.
"Uh," Clark answered, his usual facility with speech seeming to disappear at the sight of this girl. "Uh, well, it's, uh... a long story."
Perry decided to take pity on Clark and break in, before the kid totally embarrassed himself with all the stammering. "Hi there," he said to the girl, smiling. "Perry White. I'd like a triple cappuccino and a couple of those glazed crullers, and..."
He slapped an old, tattered copy of Time onto the counter. On the cover, a small girl with dark hair and green eyes was crying inconsolably, her mouth open, tears streaking her face.
" ...an interview with Smallville's very own cover girl," he finished.
Lana blinked at the magazine for a moment as if seeing a ghost, then lifted her head and stared at him, wide-eyed with shock.
Clark stepped forward, and he no longer looked awkward and abashed. His posture had totally altered, and something about the way he moved made Perry realize just how big the kid was. His normal amiable expression had been replaced by something protective, almost dangerous, as he loomed over Perry, glaring at him.
"What exactly are you doing?"
Perry refused to let himself be intimidated by the kid's Undertaker act. "It's called getting the story," he answered. He turned to Lana and gave his most ingratiating smile. "Nothing fancy, Miss Lang, just a simple Q & A. You know... how is little Miss Meteor coping, fourteen years after the big bang?"
Lana stared at him. Her big green eyes were beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe this is a joke to you," she said tightly, "but my parents died that day."
"And I'm sorry," Perry answered coolly, "but that makes you newsworthy."
The truth was, he didn't feel too sorry for the girl, not really. He figured she'd lost her parents so long ago she couldn't possibly remember them. But her eyes were swimming with tears now, and she shot a helpless, save-me-from-this-monster look at Clark.
Clark did what she obviously expected him to do. He caught Perry by the arm, none too gently, and yanked him toward the door.
"That's it," he said. "You're leaving."
"Hey!" Perry dug in his heels and looked up at the kid. Way, way up. For the first time, it occurred to him to wonder if it was such a good idea to piss off a kid who was as tall as a pine tree. "You know," he said, "either she talks to me now or she faces the cameras in the morning."
Lana stared at them both, still wearing her helpless damsel in distress face. "Clark," she wailed dramatically, "I can't believe you're with this guy!"
Clark looked dismayed. "Lana..."
She turned off her tears as if they were controlled by a switch, then turned her back on the two of them and swept regally toward the kitchen doors. Over her shoulder, she said, very coldly, "Maybe you should both leave."
Perry watched her disappear through the swinging doors, with the irritated feeling that he'd screwed this one up. He'd come on too strong. Clearly Little Miss Meteor was used to being treated like a princess, the same little princess she'd been on the cover of Time, and he'd obviously offended Her Royal Highness. He'd be lucky to get any sort of interview with her now, damn it.
He looked up at Clark and noticed that the kid's eyes were still blazing. "You didn't tell me Lana was part of your agenda," Clark growled.
Perry shrugged. "You didn't tell me you knew her. Look, kid, I'm sorry if I hurt your girlfriend's feelings, but she's a legitimate source."
"Not any more," Clark said between his teeth, and tugged Perry toward the door.
Perry sighed, and went along with him, because he didn't have a lot of choice in the matter. The kid might be as leggy and rangy as a Thoroughbred colt, but he had muscles like a Clydesdale.
"It doesn't work that way, Clark," he answered, patiently. "I still have to find faces to put on camera."
He pulled a newspaper out of his jacket, and the kid suddenly halted at the sight of the masthead, which read The Torch. "You know," Perry said conversationally, extricating his arm from the kid's iron grip, "your high school paper has developed quite a rep in the bug-eyed monster circles."
A wary expression suddenly settled over Clark's open, honest face. " Why would you say that?"
Perry rolled his eyes. "Because I did like three minutes of research before I came to town. You think the editor would know something about the meteor shower?"
Clark looked even warier. "How would I know?"
Perry could hardly hold back a snort. The kid was a terrible liar. He lifted the newspaper and read from it. "Principal Authorizes New Gym Mats, by Clark Kent." He lowered the newspaper and looked at Clark. "I was riveted. Really."
Clark looked embarrassed by Perry's sarcasm. "Okay," he admitted. "So I sort of know the editor."
"That's what I wanted to hear." Perry grinned. "Introduce us, kid."
"I think we should go," Clark said a little later. He'd brought Perry over to the high school. The editor wasn't in the office, but Perry had become fascinated by something the kid referred to as the Wall of Weird, a large collection of articles about unlikely, improbable and outright impossible events, taped all over one wall of the office.
Clark seemed bored. Well, he'd presumably seen all these articles before many times. But Perry couldn't seem to look away from them. He was intrigued by the mind that had thought all this stuff up.
He really wanted to meet the editor of the Torch.
"Boy," he said softly, almost to himself. "And I thought our stuff was off the wall. This is incredible."
"It's also all true," a new voice said.
Perry turned and found himself facing a blonde girl with bright, inquisitive eyes.
"Chloe," Clark said. Perry noticed he didn't stammer around this girl, and a warm, genuine little smile had curved his mouth. He looked relaxed and comfortable in her presence. And happy. "Mr. White is interested in the meteor shower. I didn't think it would hurt if he had a look."
Chloe-- Chloe Sullivan, Perry remembered from his copy of the Torch-- gave a flashing, bright smile, so impossibly wide that Perry had to wonder if the girl had more than the usual complement of teeth. "I have nothing to hide," she answered.
Perry looked back at the wall. "I think we've already borrowed two or three of your ideas for our show. Do you make it all up yourself, or do you pull in other writers?"
He glanced back at Chloe and saw her lifting her eyebrows haughtily, in an way that said clearly, Didn't I just tell you it's all true, you jerk? "Excuse me?" she said, a little more coldly.
Amused by her annoyance, Perry handed her his business card. "Just professional curiosity," he said airily. "It's not every day that I meet another junk journalist with a penchant for the bizarre."
She looked at his card like he'd handed her a snake, and he saw anger gleaming in her eyes. Clearly she didn't like being labeled a junk journalist. "X-Styles?" she said, reading the card.
She lifted her gaze and glared at him. "I have a penchant for the truth. That's something your freaks and shrieks cable show gave up around episode two."
He noticed she wasn't looking at Clark, but directly at him. This girl didn't rely on Clark to rescue her. She seemed perfectly capable of protecting herself.
Even so, Clark was bristling, and if anything, he looked more protective of this girl than he had of Lana. Perry wasn't sure exactly what Clark's feelings were for this young lady, but he had a suspicion there was more between them than mere puppy love. The two of them obviously worked together, but he had a feeling they had some sort of relationship too. What sort of relationship it was, he wasn't sure.
He doubted if they knew. After all, they were teenagers. Teenagers weren't exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer when it came to relationships.
"That's it," Clark said, grabbing Perry by the arm again. God, he was going to have bruises by the time this day was over. "We're done."
He pulled Perry toward the door, and Perry didn't argue, because he'd seen enough for now. But as they went toward the door, Chloe's voice stopped them.
They turned back to her, and Perry saw the girl staring at him with wide, surprised eyes. "You're the Perry White?" she demanded, waving his business card in the air.
Something inside Perry was touched at the idea that anyone could think of him as the Perry White. It wasn't as if he'd ever been a household name. He'd been pretty well known among the journalism community, though, especially after he won his Pulitzer. Clearly this girl, young though she was, had a serious interest in journalism.
Not that he was a journalist. Not now. Not for quite a while now.
The thought depressed him, and he sighed. He looked at Clark, deliberately refusing to answer her question.
"Thanks for your help, Clark," he said. "I'm going to hoof it back to the motel now. Why don't you young lovers patch things up? Then later on you can swing by and we'll pick up the tour."
He walked out into the hall. But he could still hear the bright, strident tones of Chloe Sullivan's voice.
"Clark, do you have any idea who that was?"
Who I was, Perry thought grimly. But not who I am now.
He remembered Chloe's angry words: I have a penchant for the truth. He really wished he could say the same thing. But he couldn't. Not anymore.
He headed for the exit, his shoulders drooping.
He definitely needed a drink.
Read Chapter 4 here.