Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Pitbull, Chapter 17

Perry and full cast, from "Perry"
Season 3 and later
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the story from the beginning here.
Read Chapter 16 here.

The Watchtower was gone.

Chloe Sullivan sipped morosely at her coffee, barely tasting it. Everything she'd worked for in the past year was gone, just like that.

You should always back up your data, she thought glumly. She'd known that, of course. But Ollie and Clark had insisted she couldn't back up her databanks, that the information they contained was too sensitive, too earthshaking, and she'd let them win that particular argument.

Foolishly, as it turned out.

She should never have let Ollie and Clark have a say in the matter, even if Ollie's money was footing the bills. She'd let Ollie upgrade the Watchtower, too, and look what had happened. The safeguards had been inadequate, and as a result she'd almost been killed.

She didn't doubt that Ollie and Clark were heroes, but that didn't mean they had brains.

She sighed, wondering what she was going to do next. She'd known for a while that being Watchtower wasn't for her. Working with heroes was a great destiny... but it wasn't her destiny. It wasn't what she most wanted to do. At least not like this, barricaded in a huge stone tower, hiding from everyone and everything. For a while, the Watchtower had been her refuge, but she'd gotten past the traumas of the past year, and she no longer wanted refuge.

She wanted to rejoin the world.

Don't be stupid, Watchtower, Ollie had said earlier today, when she'd brought the subject up. What would we do without you?

Not a problem, she'd answered. I have a replacement all lined up.

A replacement? Are you kidding me? Who the hell else can do what you do? Who could we trust that much?

She'd smiled a little. She's a friend of mine. And believe me, she's the most trustworthy person you'll ever meet. Her name is Barbara Gordon...

No, Watchtower wasn't for her, not any longer. Maybe it never had been, really. But what was for her? That was the big question. She sipped her coffee thoughtfully, remembering something her father used to say: As one door closes, another opens.

But where was her open door?

As if in answer to her question, an older man sat down at her table. Chloe blinked, startled by the intrusion into her privacy. She glanced at the man, and her eyes widened.

"Ms. Sullivan," he said.

"Mr. White," she answered.

Perry White lifted a mug of coffee to his lips and took a long swig, then put the mug on the table with a thunk. "A little birdie told me you were looking for a job," he said with his roguish smile.

Clark, Chloe deduced. Or possibly Ollie, who co-owned the Daily Planet. She bristled slightly.

"I'm currently unemployed," she said, "but I'm still weighing my options."

"Of course," Perry answered. "I'm sure after over two years out of journalism, offers from newspapers are just flying into your inbox."

"Why would you think I'd be looking for a job in journalism?"

He snorted. "I do know something about you, Ms. Sullivan. I know you've wanted to work at the Daily Planet since you were eight years old. I know that you managed to win an internship there in your freshman year of high school, and that you even managed to talk old Kahn into hiring you your first year of college. What else would you want to do?"

"The Daily Planet," Chloe said between her teeth, "is just a promotional rag for LuthorCorp now, and everyone knows it."

"Ow. You wound me, Ms. Sullivan. I've been doing my best to turn the Planet around."

"Which explains the gushing puff piece on LuthorCorp's pharmaceutical division last week. That was a long ways from fair and balanced journalism, Mr. White. It's obvious the Planet is still LuthorCorp's lapdog."

Perry sighed, and the humor left his eyes. "Okay, kid. Let me lay my cards on the table. I'm doing everything I can to get the Planet's reputation back..."

"You've been trying to do that for a year and a half, Mr. White. The Planet is still producing crap."

Perry looked like he might be grinding his molars together. "Here's the thing. Since the LuthorCorp CEO went missing, the stockholders have been in an uproar. I don't know all the wheeling and dealing that's gone on behind the scenes, but the upshot of it is that LuthorCorp's half of the Planet is being sold to some big corporation in Gotham."

Her eyebrows shot up. Ollie, you jerk, why didn't you mention any of this to me? "Gotham?"

"Yeah, Gotham. Wayne Industries. And from what I've heard, the company isn't looking to make the Planet its bitch. The CEO is genuinely interested in serious, old school journalism. In short..." Perry fixed her with a mournful stare. "This is our big chance to finally make a difference, kid. But you can't make a difference if you're sitting in coffee houses sipping lattes, instead of chasing down stories."

Chloe picked up her spoon and began idly stirring her coffee. Her heart was thumping in her chest, but she strove to conceal her sudden excitement. "I don't get why you would need me."

"You do know why. When I hired your friend Kent, I'd lost all my best journalists. Anyone with the ability to write a coherent sentence packed up and fled for greener pastures the minute Lex Luthor bought the Planet. And I still don't have enough real reporters. I'm training up all these kids, but it's slow going, let me tell you. I need all the journalists who can write I can get."

She shrugged. "I haven't written in two years, Mr. White. So again I ask, why me?"

He looked at her for a long moment. The corners of his mouth curved up slightly, but his eyes were solemn.

"Because," he answered, "you were once the kind of reporter I would like to be."

She stared back at him, struck dumb. For Perry White, Pulitzer winner and renowned journalist, to utter those words to her... well, she couldn't imagine a greater compliment. It left her at a loss for words. At last she lifted the mug to her lips and took a long sip of coffee. She noticed her hand was trembling-- whether with fear or excitement or both, she wasn't certain.

"I'll think about it," she said.

*****

"Welcome to the bullpen, kid."

Clark tried not to gape foolishly as he looked around at the vast Art Deco space, with brightly colored Tiffany lamps hanging overhead. He tried to look cool, as if this wasn't the biggest damn moment of his life. But inside he felt like a kid on Christmas.

Wow, he thought. Wow. Just... wow.

He'd never really dared to imagine he'd get promoted out of the basement, let alone up here where the big boys worked. Chloe had worked here for almost three years, and never gotten promoted. But of course things had been different then. Back then the Daily Planet had been a well-respected paper with some of the best journalists in the world writing for it. And now...

Well, maybe now that the management had changed hands, things would improve. He hoped so. He'd been visiting the Planet for years, but since he'd started working here, he'd grown to love the newspaper and its great history as much as Chloe had. He wanted to help it win back its former glory.

Still, he thought to himself that it was a pity Chloe wouldn't come back to work here. The thought of working beside her under the Tiffany lamps gave him an odd twinge of longing. It felt like the logical extension of the two of them working together in high school. Ever since he'd started working here, he'd imagined her sitting at the desk next to him, and thought how right it would feel to be her partner again.

He sighed. Some things just weren't meant to be, he told himself, and headed for his desk, his box of personal belongings clutched in his arms.

"Oh, just a couple of things, kid," Perry said behind him. "First of all, you're not partnered with Lane any more. The two of you fought more than you wrote, and anyway, she's wasted on the city beat. That piece she did on the Mexican uprising last year was terrific. I've put her on the foreign desk."

Clark considered that, and nodded. It was a nice step up for Lois, and she'd always been kind of bored with the city beat anyway. The occasional big stories got her fired up, but she wasn't enthused about turning out the duller, everyday stuff, and tended to foist it off on him. He figured the foreign desk meant she'd be traveling overseas a lot, which she'd probably love. She'd grown up a military brat, and she'd never quite lost the wanderlust.

Even so, he'd miss Lois. She was a lot of fun to be around, when she wasn't snarking at him and irritating the hell out of him. He hadn't minded having her as a partner, though he did have to admit the two of them had squabbled more or less constantly.

He wondered who Perry was partnering him with. Anyone was fine, so long as it wasn't Parsons. The guy had serious gas issues, and the odors he produced caused Clark's sensitive nose genuine anguish. He went toward his desk, thinking, Anyone but Parsons, anyone but Parsons...

He saw Parsons' nameplate on the desk next to his, and groaned inwardly.

"I'll be working with Parsons, huh?" he said over his shoulder, trying to sound enthusiastic.

"No," Perry answered. "You'll be working with someone new."

Clark glanced at the desk on the other side of him. Whoever the newbie was, they hadn't gotten their nameplate up yet. He looked over the neatly arrayed items, seeing a coffee mug, a small stack of books, a Smallville High sticker on a binder...

Smallville High.

He blinked, and looked back at the coffee mug. He'd seen it before, many, many times. It was a small green alien head with slanty black eyes, and it had sat on Chloe's desk at the Torch for years, and on her desk in the basement of the Planet as well. He gaped at it, barely daring to hope.

"You're in the way," a familiar voice said behind him. "Move over."

He turned around and saw Chloe Sullivan pushing by him, a box of stuff in her arms. He stared as she walked by, and he felt a big stupid grin spread over his face. She looked up at him, and he saw a twinkle in her eyes, a twinkle he hadn't seen in a long, long time. For the first time in a long while, she looked happy. And no wonder.

She was finally back where she belonged.

He looked at his desk, right next to hers, and smiled even more broadly.

He was right where he belonged, too.

*****

Perry stood back and watched as Kent tried very, very hard not to grin too broadly at the sight of his 'lady editor." He liked Kent. He had to admit he'd hired the kid at least partly out of curiosity about any abilities he might have, but after a year and a half of observation, it was clear that Kent had no special powers. He was just an ordinary young man, but he did have a surprising way with words.

Kent had confessed more than once that he was still going to Chloe Sullivan for help on running down stories quite frequently. Apparently you could take the girl out of the Daily Planet, but you couldn't take the Daily Planet out of the girl. Perry felt a bit pleased with himself for finally managing to bring Ms. Penchant for the Truth back into the fold. If the new management really wanted the Planet to turn itself around-- and so far, it seemed that they did-- he still needed good journalists. He couldn't run a paper by himself.

And Kent, Sullivan, and Lane might be youngsters, but they had a hell of a lot of potential.

He remembered his meeting yesterday with the Planet's co-owners, Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne. "You're the Editor in Chief now," Queen had said, his words filling Perry with a joy he had to fight hard not to show. "We're counting on you to get the Planet back to its glory days."

"Congratulations," Wayne had added. "You have a great opportunity here, White."

And he did. He knew that. He had the opportunity to give the grand old lady of Metropolis her dignity and reputation back. And even more importantly, he had the opportunity to do some real, serious journalism. For the first time in almost two years, there was nothing fettering him, no one dragging him down, no superior trying to stop him from reporting on what really mattered.

He did have an opportunity here, and by God, he was going to take it.

He glanced at Kent and Sullivan, both industriously setting up their desks and conspicuously not chatting, even though he knew perfectly well they were both bursting with things to say to each other. The future of the Daily Planet, he knew, rode on them and the other youngsters that filled the room... but it rode on him, too. He might be old and gray, but he still had the wisdom and the experience and the sheer grit necessary to turn the Planet around. And Kent and Sullivan, along with the rest of his young staff, had the youth and the fire and the boundless energy that the task would require.

He looked at the bustling bullpen-- his bullpen-- once more, and then turned and headed into his office to plot out his strategy. He had a hell of a lot of work to do, but he didn't doubt for a moment that he could do it.

The Daily Planet was damn well once again going to be the world's greatest newspaper... or his name wasn't Perry "the Pitbull" White.

-The End-

5 comments:

chloista4ever said...

fantastic ending Elly! love our girl is back in the planet, yay!!! Love the part when Perry threw back her works at him. I love it!

iluvaqt said...

What and end!
//She was finally back where she belonged.//
This is when everything starts out right in the world again.
And all I can say is you navigated that parting minefield brilliantly but avoiding any talk of it altogether. And you're absolutely right, Lois is perfect for the foregin desk and ingenius having Ollie and Bruce team up to put the Planet back on track. It did get bought by Wayne after Luthor had it. He kept it for awhile and then had to sell... can't remember why. How can I complain about The Switch still waiting to be updated when I have old Smallville charm like this to read? You've set a high benchmark for Perry's return in Hostage now. :P Even if he is being considered for Editor at the DP, something tells me Chloe's not going back :( Loved your version of Perry's comeback and our favorite scoobying pair.

BkWurm1 said...

A simply terrific ending!!

I got the biggest burst of happiness when Perry told her she was once the kind of journalist he wanted to be. Lois on the foreign beat makes perfect sense.

Feeling a little giddy picturing the huge restrained smiles on Clark and Chloe's faces. (Feel bad that Parson's still sits too close to Clark and his supernose)

That was a great redemption story, of both Perry and the Planet (and Chloe's reporter heart)

Excellent!

Elly said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys!

Karel_Jones said...

Who let the Dogs Out?! WOOF WOOF Woof woof woof. CCP