Clark, Perry futurefic.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to the Purple series (years later).
Screencap from Smallville Dedication.
"We have a problem, Clark."
"Oh, good morning, Mr. White. What's the problem?"
"Cat Grant is out on maternity leave."
"Um... she writes all those entertainment articles, right? I'm sorry to hear that, sir, but..."
"But you figure it's my problem, not ours, since you and Grant are in completely different departments."
"Uh, something like that, sir."
"That's where you're wrong, Kent. Because you just hit the entertainment beat."
"And even better, you'll be covering the Best Boys concert tonight."
"The--! Sir. I'm an investigative reporter. I don't write entertainment fluff pieces. Besides, that's a boy band, and the fans are--"
"A terrifying horde of screaming young girls. Yes, I know. I need someone who's in touch with his feminine side. You're absolutely perfect."
"Gosh, thanks so much, sir. But wouldn't Chloe be a better--"
"Sullivan would rip out my intestines and feed them to me for breakfast if I suggested she write this article, and we both know it."
"Yes, sir. I suppose she would. But listen, I'm not in touch with my feminine side. I spend the weekends watching the Sharks and mowing the lawn. I'm a man's man. Really. And besides, screaming preteen girls give me hives."
"Can it, Kent. I know your secret identity."
"My... secret identity, sir?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Kent. I know perfectly well you're Martha Johns, author of the national bestseller These Purple Hearts and its three sequels, the so-called genius who singlehandedly created the retro romance genre."
"Sir. You are not suggesting that I...!"
"Kent. I've edited your work for the past five years. I know your style. And I also remember reading a spectacularly bad piece of purple fiction written by you, back years ago, when I was teaching at Met U. Do you really think I'd fail to put the pieces together?"
"You... remember that, sir?"
"Oh, yes. The appalling reek of that story still hangs in my nostrils, all these years later. And yet I hired you anyway. You should feel flattered."
"Anyway, that's neither here nor there, Kent. I'm not asking you to write... what is it Time called your dismayingly purple prose?... epic, sweeping love stories set against spectacular historical backdrops, and peopled with strong, courageous women and alpha males?"
"Something like that, sir. "
"The point is, Kent, that you understand entertainment. You have a grasp of the zeitgeist like no one else at this newspaper. You get what makes the American public tick. You're the perfect fill-in for Grant."
"Um... listen, Mr. White... I sort of try not to publicize my, uh, other little career. Is there any chance we can kind of keep this whole secret identity thing just between us?"
"Of course we can."
"Thanks so much, sir. I really appreciate that. You can't imagine how much I--"
"On one condition."
"Sir. Please. Have mercy."
"...The condition that you get your ass over to the Metropolis Coliseum tonight and write me a gripping article on the Best Boys, and then you keep writing this crap-- I mean, contributing to this very important section of the paper-- while Grant's out having puppies. You do that, and your secret is safe with me."
"And if I don't..."
"Then you can expect me to bring a copy of These Purple Hearts into the bullpen and read it out loud. And I'll be happy to tell everyone we have a celebrity romance novelist in our midst."
"You wouldn't. You wouldn't.... would you?"
"Kent, you've known me for a decade or more. What do you think?"
"Uh... I think you totally would."
"Smart boy. So we have a deal?"
"Mr. White. I am shocked. No, appalled. This is blackmail."
"I prefer to think of it as a peaceful negotiation necessary to achieve a desired end. It's better than having my intestines fed to me, anyway."
"Yes, sir. I suppose it is."
"Look, kid, I'm in a jam and I really need someone good to step in here. You do this for me, and you'll deserve a medal."
"What, a Purple Heart? Look, Mr. White, we both know I'm not getting a medal even if I'm trampled to death by all those screaming girls. But could I at least get a raise?"
"You've been working for me for how long?"
"Fine. No raise. It's so nice to be appreciated."
"Can the sarcasm and get back to work, Kent. And if I catch you writing one of those epic love stories on company time, I'll kick your ass till its purple. Got it?"
"Yes, sir. Got it. And I'm really looking forward to this new assignment. Really. I mean that ever so sincerely."
"Yeah, I can tell. Kid, sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger, and sometimes you're the ball. Today just happens to be your day to get clobbered by Babe Ruth."
"That explains why I feel so bruised."
"Purple's a good look on you, Kent. Now quit whining, and make sure you're over at the Coliseum and fighting your way through all those screaming teenyboppers by seven tonight."
"Yes, sir. I really can't wait, sir."
"Good boy. I'm glad we had this little discussion."
"Oh, me too, sir. Really. I'm just all thrilled to pieces about it. Look, Mr. White... is there really no way at all I can get out of this?"
"None at all, Kent. Not unless you let Sullivan knock you up so you can have maternity leave."
"That's a terrifying thought."
"I'm going to tell Sullivan you said that."
"I meant the pregnant part, not... the other part. Fine. I'll attend your stupid concert and write your stupid article. Sir."
"Good boy. I'm looking forward to seeing it in my inbox before midnight."
"Sir, I can't possibly get it done that fast--"
"Did I mention the copy of These Purple Hearts in my desk?"
"Grrrr. Midnight it is, Mr. White."