By Joseph Barrow <email@example.com>
Submitted August 1998
Summary: Clark Kent agonizes over a decision about a promotion. What does he tell Perry … and why?
Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, stared at the closed doors of the elevator. It was making its ascent to the newsroom, but as always, it seemed to be so slow. "Snail's pace" would be charitable, but he welcomed the opportunity to think, and to examine the decision he'd come to last night.
His boss, Perry White, had offered him a promotion to assistant editor a few days ago, and given him a week to think it over. This was his first day off, but he was at work because he wanted to tell Perry about his decision. He had thought it over, agonized even, and realized that it would interfere with his activities as Superman. If he had been completely human, he would have talked it over with Lois and probably had the answer for his boss the next day. He'd decided not to take the position. Lois and his parents supported him fully, since they knew his reasons.
Perry might not understand why, so after more agonizing, Clark decided that it was time for Perry to know the Secret. So it was with feelings of apprehension and concern, and a ball of molten lead in his stomach, he was headed to the Editor's office.
The doors to the elevator opened, finally, and he stepped through. Looking around for Perry on the floor, he spotted him standing by the copier. Clark stepped that way, and tapped the man on the shoulder. Perry turned.
"Clark! This is your day off, son, what are you doing here?" Perry looked at Clark's face and noted the minute tenseness there.
"Chief, I wanted to talk to you. I didn't want to do it over the phone, and this can't wait until I come back."
"Son, is this about the assistant position I offered you?" Perry was concerned.
"Yes, sir, but not exactly the way you think." Clark almost choked over the words. Perry was interested, now. Without a word, he led the way into his office, and closed the door behind Clark. Clark spoke as soon as the latch clicked, "I really think this should be a private discussion." As he spoke, he gestured to the windows.
Perry was really intrigued. He began to lower the blinds, which took but a few seconds. The editor sat in his chair, noticing as he did so that the younger man had remained standing. He looked again at Clark, who seemed to have lost something precious.
"Son, what's wrong? Is it Lois?" He hoped not.
"No. Everything's fine. She wanted me to say hello to you."
"But that's not what you came to see me about." Perry was leading the conversation, but then again, he had a good idea what Clark wanted.
"No, sir. I've… decided not to take the job as assistant editor. It isn't a good idea for me, right now."
Perry sat forward. "I thought that was it, or… at least part of it. Clark, are you sure?"
Clark looked into the older man's eyes. "Yes, Chief. I'm sure."
Perry sat back, with a disappointed sigh. "Well, Clark, I'm not going to say I'm disappointed. You would have been a hell of an assistant. You're a hell of a reporter." He let that hang in the air for a few minutes, and spoke again. "There's something else isn't there, son?" This was delivered gently, and it seemed to bolster the young man's resolve.
With a sigh, Clark stood. "Chief, I know you wanted me in that job. But I wanted you to know why I turned it down." At Perry's nod, he went on. "You see, I don't just go home like everyone else, when the day's over. I have more responsibilities than the usual, and other things that I do. I… Well, I… It's just that…"
Perry broke in, with a gesture toward the young man. "It's just that Superman needs more time to do what he has to do."
Clark collapsed into the chair. He was more shocked than he ever remembered being. His mouth opened and closed a few times, obviously trying to shape words into a question, but quite unable to perform that simple action.
"Son. Son, relax. I figured it out a long time ago. I didn't say anything to you, or to anyone else for that matter, because it was your choice about who knew. I know it's a shock, but don't worry."
"But… But, *how*?"
Perry smiled, a little thinly. "When Jimmy showed me that stuff about the holograms, and that mess with Diana Stride came up, and various things throughout the years. I just put all of that together. When I drew the obvious conclusion, I started watching you a little more closely."
"I… I don't know what to say, Chief."
"Just don't worry about it, son. I didn't think you would take the assistant's job, but I had to offer it. Clark, I worry about you, and Lois, and Jimmy a lot. Especially you, when you have to face off against some maniac. I know Lois worries a lot, too, along with Jonathan and Martha."
Clark was shocked again. He really shouldn't have been too surprised, but the earlier shock just left him unprotected.
Perry continued. "Look up above my doorframe, dead center."
Clark turned and looked. Right there was his shield. He grinned, and Perry spoke again. "Tell me what's behind it." Clark lowered his glasses and focused his X-ray vision. Behind it was a red dot, about three inches wide, which the shield covered.
"Perry, there's a red dot."
Perry grinned. "That's right. What others do you see?"
Clark looked again, and saw under the red dot, a white one, and then a blue one. He said so, interested in why Perry White had those dots under his shield.
"Well, Clark, I put those dots there for a reason. I knew that someday you'd come to me and tell me what you told me. Now I want to tell you why I have that there. But first, take this piece of paneling and replace that piece with it. It's loose up there, you'll have no problem."
Clark was really wondering now, but did as ordered. He sat down, with his shield and the hidden dots now in his hands.
"Son, I know you get discouraged sometimes. Some things don't always go like you want. I made that little plaque for you, and I want to explain it a little. Your shield, well that's self-explanatory. The colors are what I want to talk about. Red, white, and blue. Other than the patriotic significance, this is how I view Superman. Red for courage, white for purity, and blue for integrity. I don't think I need to say anything else, do I?"
Clark was truly touched. His eyes were shining, when he offered a hand to his boss. "Thank you. Chief, this means a lot to me."
"I know, son. Now go on home to Lois, and take the rest of your time off. I'll see you on Monday."
Clark stood. "I will, but Chief… you deserve a *real* confirmation."
"What do you mean, Clark?"
Clark didn't speak, just moved the chair out of the way and set the plaque down on the desk. Then, taking his glasses off, he grinned at the editor, and spun. When he stopped, Superman was standing there.
Perry White was speechless. He had been right, and the knowledge and that spin was amazing. He knew that Clark trusted him to keep the secret, and also knew this was his way of saying so. There was only one thing to be said, really.
"Thank you, Clark."
Superman beamed, then spun back into Clark, picked up his plaque, and left.
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