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 3 here.
"Who the hell is Perry White?"
Chloe was already moving across the Torch office and sitting down at a computer. Clark followed her, feeling baffled, because clearly Chloe knew something about Mr. White that he didn't.
"A reporter," she answered. "A very good one. He used to write for the Daily Planet."
Clark frowned as he stopped behind her. He bent down, placing a familiar hand on her shoulder the same way he always did, and studied the computer screen she was working on. She was Googling Perry's name, and a long list of articles had popped up. He gaped.
"Does that say he won a Pulitzer?"
She turned her head and looking at him. Their faces were very close together, and he felt a little tingle run through him at her nearness. He moved back a bit, just as a precaution.
There had been a slight emotional distance between them ever since he came back from his wild summer in Metropolis, and he thought maybe that was for the best. He was almost afraid to let himself get too close to Chloe again, to let himself rebuild their very intimate friendship, because he was afraid that in a weak moment he might tell her everything he'd done wrong. He was afraid he might tell her everything he was.
He was afraid he'd tell her everything, period. And even though she was one of his best friends, he didn't quite dare do that somehow.
He'd always trusted Chloe, and she'd kept his location quiet during the summer. Even so, on some level, he wasn't sure he trusted her quite enough to tell her everything. Keeping her at arm's length seemed safer.
But part of him ached for the warmth and the closeness they'd once shared.
"I told you," she answered. "He was a really well-regarded reporter, Clark."
Clark blinked at the business card that she'd placed on the desk in front of her. "How the hell did he wind up working for X-Styles?"
"I don't know." She sighed, and her forehead wrinkled. "How did you meet him?"
"Um..." Clark judged it prudent to leave out most of the details. "He was driving drunk yesterday. He almost hit me with his car, and when he swerved, he hit a telephone pole instead."
"Hmmm. Maybe that's it."
"Maybe he started drinking too much, and couldn't hold down his job."
"Yeah. Maybe." Clark frowned, because it made sense on the face of it-- God knew Mr. White drank too much-- and yet he had a nagging feeling there was something more to it.
Chloe clicked the mouse and glanced over the article she'd pulled up, an article about corruption in the Metropolis City Council. "I'd like to be this sort of reporter someday," she said softly.
"Drunk and washed up?"
She turned her head and narrowed her eyes at him, and he couldn't help grinning. It was so damn easy to yank Chloe's chain. "No. Devoted to exposing the truth, to protecting the public, but going about it the right way. The ethical way."
"Chlo." His grin faded, and he looked at her seriously. "You already are that sort of reporter."
She stared back at him for a long moment, then her gaze flickered away, almost guiltily. She stared at the computer screen and spoke so softly he could barely hear her.
"I wish," she whispered.
The sound of waves rolled through the Luthor mansion's study, drowning out everything else. Lex Luthor sat listening, his eyes shut, letting peace wash through him with the waves, letting the reassuring, steady sound comfort him, letting it quiet the jungle beast that snarled inside his head.
And then a hand fell onto his shoulder.
Lex reacted instantly. The jungle beast inside him roared, and he grabbed the hand and rose to his feet with the intention of throwing the intruder over his shoulder.
He checked himself the instant he opened his eyes and realized the "intruder" was Lana Lang. She stared at him, looking startled by his overreaction.
"I'm sorry," she said in her soft, gentle voice. "I'm interrupting."
"Not at all," he said with an apologetic smile. He walked over to the CD player on the mahogany shelf and clicked it off, then turned back toward her. She was so beautiful she almost glowed, and he had the fanciful notion the shadows of the old stone mansion had brightened when she walked in.
"You know," he said thoughtfully, "it's strange. When I was trapped on that island I came to hate the roar of the ocean. And yet since coming back... I find it's the only thing that relaxes me."
It really wasn't all that surprising, he supposed. He'd been alone on an island for months. The sound of the ocean had been his only companion.
Well, his only real companion. He didn't like to think about any... delusions... the solitude had produced. He was currently talking with a psychiatrist, not because he wanted to, but because his father had forced him into it. He avoided talking to her about the beast that snarled and ravened inside him, the beast he had to fight to keep chained. He'd struggled to avoid the whole topic of his delusions when he spoke with her, too.
Unfortunately, he'd raved to the fisherman who'd saved him about the other man he'd seen on the island, and so the psychiatrist had some idea that he'd had delusions while trapped there. But when she brought it up, he'd blamed it on malaria dreams. Because he wasn't stupid, and he knew seeing people who weren't there was not considered a good sign, psychologically speaking.
Best to pretend all he'd ever heard on that island was the ocean.
Lana stepped toward him, her pretty green eyes filled with sympathy. "You must think about what happened every day."
He looked at her, and felt the sudden desire to blurt out the whole story, everything he'd done and seen on that island, all the things that were gnawing at him, all the rage that growled inside him. All the things he couldn't bring himself to confess to the psychiatrist.
But he knew that as much as he liked Lana-- and the truth was that he liked her slightly more than he ought to like a sixteen-year-old girl-- there was no way he could load his problems onto her. He didn't want her to think he was crazy, and she certainly would if he foolishly spilled his guts to her.
He couldn't tell Lana. He couldn't tell anyone.
"I'm sure you didn't come all this way to discuss that," he said, his tone cool and dismissive. "What did you want to see me about?"
The sympathy in her eyes vanished instantly, so quickly he had to wonder if it had been genuine. Maybe she didn't care for his tone, or maybe she'd never really been that interested in his problems to begin with.
"This tabloid television reporter came by the Talon today," she said, looking irritated, "and he wanted to do an interview with me about the meteor shower."
Lex couldn't help but smile a little. To the son of a world-famous billionaire, being harassed by the media was an everyday occurrence. But he tried to see it from her point of view, and supposed to someone raised in a small town, it must feel like a shocking invasion of privacy.
"A succinct 'no comment' didn't dissuade him?"
"Not really." She stared at him, her eyes wide and anxious. "He said he was going to come back tomorrow, this time with a camera crew."
"And you don't want that, I suppose."
"I've spent the last fourteen years trying to put that day behind me, and in an instant he brought it all back," she said, her voice quavering. Lex couldn't help smiling at her drama. Lana Lang did drama well. "I know it's a lot to ask, but I was hoping that you might be able to do something."
Lex studied her for a long moment, wondering why she'd come to him. Ordinarily her preferred protector for this sort of thing was Clark Kent. At the thought, something that felt entirely too much like jealousy twisted inside him. He turned away in order to hide any hint of emotion that might show in his eyes, and walked back toward his desk.
"I'm surprised you didn't go to Clark with this," he said.
Lana looked more piqued than ever. "Clark's with him, actually."
Lex sat down at the desk. Intriguing. Lana's white knight was apparently not performing up to her standards, which meant he himself had a chance to impress her.
Not that he was all that interested in impressing a smalltown girl. Lana meant nothing to him, not when he could have any woman he wanted.
He looked up into her dark, lovely green eyes, and knew he was fooling himself. Or trying to.
He lifted an eyebrow. "So you want me to run him out of town?"
"I want him to stop," she answered.
"He must have been very persistent," Lex commented, amused by her clear annoyance. When Lana was annoyed, she pouted like a small child. "What was his name?
The name took Lex by surprise. He stared at her for a long moment, feeling the jungle beast inside him roar and struggle against its bonds. At last he spoke, his voice very cold.
"I'll make sure he never bothers you again."
Read Chapter 5 here.