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 15 here.
The headline read, GUILTY. Nothing else. But it was enough. It was more than enough.
Perry looked at his article, the product of many years' worth of research, and a feeling he hadn't felt in a long, long time rippled through him.
Pride, and satisfaction in a job well done.
He and Lex had put aside their enmity after that last conversation at the Luthor mansion, and he'd provided Lex with a lot of the information his lawyers used against Lionel at the trial. And eyewitness testimony had been provided by the young editor of the Torch Perry remembered from his trip to Smallville. Together, they'd given Lex what he needed to put the elder Luthor behind bars... where he damn well belonged.
He'd had quite a few conversations with Lex over the summer. He knew that Lionel had tried to kill young Ms. Sullivan, but that Lex had saved her, while letting it appear that she'd died so that Lionel wouldn't come after her again. But a couple of days ago, Lionel had apparently caught on, and sent an assassin after her-- an assassin who'd been foiled by the Kent kid and Sullivan's cousin.
Kent again. He smiled wryly, remembering his words of a year ago. Smallville's own hero on deck.
He'd seen them all at the trial. Young Kent had grown, impossible though that might seem, and was bigger and sturdier than ever. He'd matured into a mountain. His lady editor was still a little thing, but with a fierce and determined glint in her eye. And her much taller cousin had the very same glint. Must be a family trait, Perry thought.
He'd wanted to say hi to the kid, to see how he was faring, to find out if he was still writing about gym mats or if he'd moved on to something a little more challenging, but he had the most important story of his career to file, so he'd left directly after the trial. But he was very relieved to know all of them had come through it okay. When you took on Lionel Luthor, you were taking your life in your hands. He knew that better than anyone.
He looked back down at the article he'd written-- a continuation of the article he'd started long, long ago. The fear that he'd lived with for so long had drained away, leaving a satisfied feeling of accomplishment in its place.
He'd done what he should have done years ago. He'd slain his dragon, or at least put it behind bars.
He'd never be afraid to write a story again.
It was late when Clark walked into the Daily Planet. He'd come here at night on many occasions when Chloe had worked here. But she wasn't here any longer, having been fired by Lex Luthor not too long before, and he felt kind of weird about coming into the place at this hour.
He headed to the basement, where Chloe had worked, and where her cousin Lois Lane worked now. There was a new floor editor, Lois had told him. An old fogey, one of the Old Guard, but one who was looking for fresh talent, not the same old same old. She knew Clark had always wanted to be a journalist, and she suggested he might as well give it a try. She'd said brightly, He might start you in the mail room, Smallville, but it's better than shoveling crap, isn't it?
He had to admit it probably was. So he'd filled out the application, rolling his eyes at his own presumption at the idea that someone with his lack of qualifications could write for the Daily Planet, and supersped to Metropolis, because Lois had told him the guy always worked till midnight. He walked down the wide staircase, past the statue of Atlas with the planet on his shoulders, and headed for the big corner office.
At the door, he stopped, blinking in surprise.
The sign on the door read Perry White, Editor.
Memories came flooding back, and all of a sudden he had the distinct feeling he'd been set up somehow. He remembered a voice saying, If you ever make it to Metropolis, look me up. I owe you one.
He knocked, and a voice he remembered called, "Come in."
He pushed the door open, and there behind the desk sat Perry White.
He was a little grayer, a little more weathered, but the bright, inquisitive eyes were unchanged. He looked healthier, Clark thought, despite the years that had passed. He had a feeling Perry had stayed off the booze, and the thought pleased him.
"Mr. White," he said, in some confusion. "I, uh, well, I brought..."
"Articulate as always, huh, kid?" Perry gestured to a chair. "Sit down."
Clark sat. Diffidently, he offered the application he'd filled out. Perry waved it away.
"We both know you're not qualified, kid. Not by the usual standards, anyway."
Clark stiffened his spine and squared his shoulders. "I'm sorry to have wasted your time," he said, as coolly as he could manage. "If you'll excuse me..."
He started to stand up, but Perry made an imperious gesture, and he dropped back into his chair.
"Check your ego at the door, Kent. You're here because I asked Lane to reel you in."
Clark blinked. "What?"
"I've been following your lady editor's career with some interest, Mr. Kent. She turned out some really interesting stories in her regrettably brief time at the Planet. Since I was promoted to floor editor, I've been trying to get her back, but she says she won't work at a Luthor publication, even if Lex Luthor himself is out of the picture. Hardheaded, stiffnecked little thing, your Ms. Sullivan."
Clark swallowed back a grin. "Yes, sir. She is."
"But here's the thing. Ms. Sullivan did inform me that you had done a significant amount of the research on many of her stories. She also tells me you write for the Smallville Ledger under a pen name."
"She told you--? Grrr. I swear I'm going to--"
"Oh, shut up, Kent. We both know you don't have the balls to take on Sullivan. I checked out some of your stories, and they're not half bad. I'm happy to see you've improved your ability to write a lead."
"Thank you, sir."
"So I told Lane to get you in here. I was wondering if you wanted to take me up on that favor I owe you."
Clark thought about that for a moment. "I wonder," he said slowly, "who's doing who the favor here."
"Ignoring the egregious grammar in that sentence-- what the hell are you talking about, Kent?"
"I mean," Clark said, "you're gone through a lot of trouble to get me here. I don't buy this is all about my saving you years ago, or about repaying something you think you owe me. I think something else is going on here."
Perry scowled. "Fine, kid. You got me. Here's the deal. Luthor fired most of my good journalists. Your friend Sullivan isn't the only one, trust me. Most of my best journalists are gone with the wind. Same with the ones upstairs. I only got spared the ax because of something I did for Lex, once upon a time. So here I am, trying to run this department with a bunch of kids who can't string a sentence together."
"Can't you hire some new journalists? Real ones? This is the Daily Planet, after all, not..." Clark spread his hands and grinned. "X-Styles."
"Shut up, kid. The thing is, no one wants to work for LuthorCorp. Just like your lady editor, most serious journalists are just too damn stiff-necked to work here when LuthorCorp is pulling the strings."
"Are they pulling the strings?"
"Of course they are. You ever met a Luthor who didn't have an ulterior motive? Lex bought this paper so he could turn it into a LuthorCorp promotional rag, and I'm pretty sure the new boss wants the same thing."
"And you're okay with this?"
Perry snorted with contempt. "Hardly. But this is the Daily Planet. I'm not letting it go without a fight, damn it, and I'm trying to fix things from inside. I'm trying to get the Planet back to being the Planet. Not easy to do from the basement, but... well, it's a place to start. You understand me, kid?"
Clark nodded, feeling a spark of respect for the man. He was beginning to understand how Perry had earned the nickname Pitbull. "Yes, sir."
"So here I am, in charge of a bunch of kids who can't put five words into a coherent sentence." He sighed. "You're right, Kent. I'm the one who needs a favor. Technically, you're not qualified to work here. But I know you can write, and you come highly recommended by a young journalist I respect."
"Thank you, sir," Clark said, and meant it. Coming from Perry White, "you can write" was a pretty damn big compliment.
"So," Perry said. "Want a job?"
Read the conclusion here.