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 5 here.
A Porsche was a really nice car, a hell of a lot nicer than his old piece of crap, even before he'd smashed it into a telephone pole. Perry could have enjoyed riding in the Porsche, listening to the smooth purr of its engine, sitting in its leather-upholstered seats, if the driver hadn't been emanating hostility and anger. Everything about Lex suggested a whole lot of pent-up bad temper, from his posture to the way he gripped the steering wheel.
Lex was pissed.
"You know," Perry said mildly, "this get out of Dodge routine is pretty heavy-handed, even for a Luthor."
Lex turned sharply, pulling the car onto a dirt road. He stopped it and got out. Perry's finely honed journalistic instincts told him his ride in the Porsche was at an end, so he shoved the door open and stood up, too.
"So is ambushing a teenage girl for a sound bite," Lex answered, his tone cold. "Of course, using people always came easy to you."
Perry blinked at the icy venom in Lex's voice. Yeah, he could be a pain in the ass when he was on the trail of a story, but he hardly thought he'd scarred Little Miss Meteor for life. Lex seemed to be overreacting pretty seriously, and that made Perry wonder exactly what Lana Lang meant to him.
"You know," he said, probing cautiously for information, "our one and only encounter was years ago."
Lex fixed him with a glacial stare. "Even in boarding school, I was good at sniffing out reporters," he said. "But you played the just a friendly conversation card remarkably well. As I recall it was a full 10 minutes before I told you to go to hell."
Ah, Perry thought. So this isn't about the lovely Miss Lang at all. It's about Lex.
"I was just doing my job," he answered, keeping his voice level. "And you were a legitimate source."
"I was sixteen, and you were scrounging for dirt on my father."
Sixteen wasn't that young, Perry thought. Lana Lang was sixteen. So was Clark Kent. Perry wouldn't hesitate to use either of them for a source if he needed to. And Lex Luthor had been a very grown-up sixteen.
Besides, Lex's father was a revolting human being, and Perry didn't regret in the least trying to take him down. All he regretted was that he'd failed, and had his life screwed over in the process.
He recalled his bitter words to Clark: I made exactly two mistakes in my life, kid. The first was getting into journalism. The second was thinking it mattered.
Back then, he'd wanted to protect the people from men like Lionel Luthor, from men who thought they were above the law just because of their money. But he'd failed, and Lionel had destroyed his life without the slightest hesitation. If not for foresight on his part, Perry was pretty sure he'd have been bumped off.
Lionel Luthor was scum, and the fact that Lex hadn't realized that, and was still angry that Perry had tried to use him to bring down his father, didn't do much to endear Lex to him.
Luthors, Perry thought with an eyeroll. "That's what this is really about, isn't it? Your father's secrets."
Lex fixed him with a dark stare. "If you really had anything on him, it would have come out then."
Perry gave a short, bitter laugh. "If you actually believe that, I almost feel sorry for you."
Lex looked like he wanted to say more, a whole hell of a lot more, but he managed to restrain himself. "Just make sure you're on the four o'clock bus," he said tersely.
He yanked Perry's suitcase out of the car and threw it into the dirt with elaborate contempt, then climbed back in the car and took off down the dirt road, leaving a cloud of dust behind him.
Perry found himself standing on a dirt road between two corn fields. The middle of nowhere again, he thought with a sigh.
Then again, that pretty much described his life nowadays, no matter where he was. Whether he was in Littleville, or downtown Metropolis, his life wasn't going anywhere.
He sighed again at the thought, and pulled his trusty flask out of his jacket.
"So much for not drinking before five," he grumbled.
Clark ambled under the wooden sign that read Kent Farm and walked up the dirt driveway toward the farmhouse, admiring the familiar view of home-- the house, painted a cheerful, bright yellow that glowed in the sunlight; the tall sunflowers bobbing along the white picket fence; the old red barn where he spent a lot of his time; the cows grazing in the wide fields.
He spotted his dad in one of the fields near the house, working on the old tractor. The tractor was ancient, and it required constant tinkering to keep the thing running. But they couldn't afford a new one, so tinkering was what they did.
"Hey, Dad," he said as he approached.
Jonathan looked up. "Oh, hey, Clark. I wasn't expecting you till later. Where's your friend Mr. White?"
"He left." Clark still wasn't sure why Lex had practically dragged Mr. White out of the bar, or why he'd looked so pissed. All he could figure was that Lex and Mr. White had crossed paths at some point. It was obvious Lex didn't like the guy. Oddly, Clark liked Mr. White pretty well despite his obvious character flaws, but he couldn't deny that having a reporter following him around town was not the best situation.
Clark smiled a little, remembering Lex dragging Perry out of the bar. "I think he realized that Smallville wasn't quite as friendly as he first thought."
Jonathan gave an amused chuckle. "Well, I'm glad you're here. I've been trying to wrestle this monstrosity up on a block for about an hour. You want to give me a hand?"
Clark opened his mouth to gripe at his dad for even trying to get the tractor up on a block without him. He had superstrength, for crying out loud. But he cut off the words, reminding himself that his parents weren't helpless without him.
"Sure," he said instead, and stepped to the side of the tractor. He got a good grip on it and tried to lift it, the same as he always did.
It wouldn't budge.
He frowned at it, bewildered. It was like the thing suddenly weighed a hundred times more than usual. He bent his knees and put his back into it, grunting with effort, but it still wouldn't move.
His inability to lift the tractor was a lot like a human suddenly not being able to pick up a penny-- weird and inexplicable, and decidedly disturbing. He stood there frowning at the machine, feeling like someone was playing a strange practical joke on him.
Jonathan's forehead wrinkled, too. "What's the matter, son?"
"I don't know." Clark let go of the tractor and looked at his own hands with puzzlement. He felt weird, weak and tired and drained of power. All of a sudden, he just wanted to go inside, flop on the couch, and rest. "It's like... it's like I've lost all my strength or something."
The furrows in Jonathan's forehead deepened, but Clark could sense him trying to remain calm, trying not to panic or jump to conclusions. "Why don't you give it one more try?"
Clark nodded. Bending his knees, he got a really solid grip on the machine. Suddenly he felt power flowing through him like an electrical current, invigorating him. Ah, that's better, he thought, and lifted the tractor.
The tractor shot up into the air. And not just a little way up. Clark stared at it, his mouth hanging open, as it rocketed upward.
It sailed gracefully into the sky and out of sight. Blinking in shock, Clark stood stupidly, watching it disappear.
"Son," Jonathan said, looking just as shocked as he felt. "The tractor is, uh... flying."
"Yeah," Clark answered. "That's not so good."
Suddenly it dawned on him that when it finally landed, it might squash something, or someone. He shot an apologetic look at his dad and shot into superspeed, following the tractor's trajectory.
Perry raised the flask to his lips. On some level, he knew that drinking yet more wasn't going to solve anything. But really, who the hell cared? He was already plastered. A little more alcohol wasn't going to hurt him. It wasn't like drinking was going to ruin his life or anything. His life was already ruined.
Suddenly a tractor fell out of the sky.
Perry's mouth fell open as the machine crashed onto the blacktop right in front of him, slamming into the asphalt hard enough to crack the road. Pieces of machinery flew everywhere, and a second later, what had once been a tractor was a mangled heap of metal.
What the hell?
Perry blinked incredulously at the metal, then poured the contents of the flask out. That's enough for you, he thought, and stared up into the sky, trying to make some sense out of whatever had just happened.
Tractor. Sky. Those two words just didn't add up.
He squinted upward, thinking maybe there was an airplane or something overhead, but he saw nothing but the clear blue Kansas sky. The tractor had just come out of nowhere. Which was crazy. Perry wondered if he'd fallen down a rabbit hole, and had just been too drunk to notice.
When he looked back down, Clark Kent was standing there, looking at the tractor with a frown on his face.
Perry stared at him, almost as shocked by Clark's sudden appearance as he'd been by the tractor falling in front of him. He'd been all alone out here, the only person around for miles. He'd have bet his life on it.
And yet here Clark was. He'd just... popped into existence somehow.
Perry gaped at Clark in shock, and Clark turned his head, as if he'd just noticed Perry. A worried expression filled his expressive green eyes, but he inclined his head with his usual courtesy. The ordinary, everyday gesture felt strangely out of place, almost artificial, as if Clark were struggling to convince him that tractors falling out of the sky and teenagers appearing out of nowhere were perfectly normal occurrences.
"Uh," he said. "Hi, Mr. White."
Read Chapter 7 here.