By Jana L. Officer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: December 2003
Summary: A strange day at the office leads Clark to reconsider his clothing choices.
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, I am merely borrowing them for a few minutes of fun.
Author's Note: This is a birthday fic for a very special friend of mine who lives half a world away. Happy birthday, Sas. I know I said I wouldn't have anything written in time, and I wasn't kidding. I really thought I wouldn't. With classes weighing me down lately, I haven't even really had a chance to keep up with e-mails (sorry Carol and Sas), let alone fic writing. But I spent my down time on Wednesday writing and this is what happened… I apologize because I intended to write something waffy for your birthday, but waffy takes me so much more time. I hope you enjoy it anyway. Have a very happy birthday, Sas, and many more to come! A special thanks to Carol Malo for being my unofficial BR for this fic. <g>
"Help me! Please help me!" The scream came from a voice somewhere across the city. Clark sighed as the voice permeated his hearing. He was still in a shirt and boxers and had just heated himself bacon and eggs. It wasn't the first time a call for help had come at an inconvenient time, but still… There should be some sort of restriction on calls for help or something. Well, okay, maybe not, he amended to himself. He didn't always have to enjoy it though. "Oh well," he muttered to no one in particular. A quick spin and he was suited and on his way to the person in need of help.
Clark chomped on his second doughnut as he rode the elevator in the Daily Planet building. He hoped no one would notice he was late. The voice calling for help had been at a multi-vehicle pile up. Fortunately, there had been no serious injuries, but the police on site had asked for Superman's help in clearing the roadway. Saying no had never crossed his mind. Oh well, he told himself, if anyone asks I can say I was covering the accident. It wouldn't even be too much of a lie. It was one of those excuses that didn't make his skin crawl.
The elevator doors slid open and Clark stepped out. He shook his arms briefly, trying to warm himself. It was a little cooler than normal. Other than that, it seemed to be the usual busy hum of the newsroom. As he walked to his desk, he couldn't help but hear conversations pause and feel people stare. Strange.
"Good morning, Lois." He offered her a smile as he paused at her desk. Seeing Lois Lane was definitely the highlight of every morning.
"'Morning, Clar—" She stopped as she lifted her eyes to look at him. "Um, Clark, is there something you need to tell me?"
"Lois, I know I was late, but I can explain—"
She waved a hand to stop him. "Not that. Clark, are you feeling okay?"
"I'm fine, Lois. Are *you* feeling okay?"
She had a puzzled expression on her face. "To be perfectly honest, Clark, I'm not sure. I need to talk to Perry." She stood up abruptly and walked toward Perry's office.
Clark couldn't help but wonder if Lois had not slept well the night before. Maybe he could train his superhearing in on her conversation with Perry to figure out what was going on.
Clark jumped a mile. With his superhearing turned up, Jimmy saying his name sounded like a freight train lumbering by. "What do you need, Jimmy?"
"Well, I was about to ask you that. I mean, I wanted to ask you if everything is okay?"
Now Jimmy too. "Why?"
"Well, you know…"
"No, I don't, Jimmy."
Jimmy gave him a look that Clark couldn't quite read. "All right, CK, if you feel like talking, you know where you can find me."
"Sure. Thanks, Jimmy."
Clark walked the final few steps to his desk. Something was definitely fishy here. And he could still feel everyone's eyes on him. He felt oddly exposed. "This is practically as bad as that dream I used to have about showing up to school naked," he mumbled to himself. Had something happened while he was away earlier this morning?
Oh, this morning. He should probably get started on that story about the accident. Clark began pouring himself into the story. Within moments, the stares were forgotten. It was one reason he loved writing, because he could escape into it. He had needed an escape often in the past, and writing had always provided it.
"Clark, could you come here for a minute?" Perry's voice told him this was a serious matter. He saved the story on his computer and hurried to his Editor in Chief's office.
"What is it, Perry?"
"Son, I have a, well, a personal question for you."
Clark felt surprise register. "Okay…" He only hoped that Perry's question would shed some light on why everyone was acting so strangely today.
"This is a big story, you understand."
"No, not really."
"I think you do. And I want the Planet to break it. How would you feel about that?"
Clark was beyond confused, there wasn't even a word for what he was feeling. "Perry, my loyalties have always been with the Planet. If there's a good story, I definitely want us to break it first."
Perry nodded, but gave him a questioning glance. "Even with what that would mean for you?"
"What?" He apparently wasn't following this whole conversation very well.
"Clark, it would be life changing for you. I mean, we break the Clark Kent is Superman story and—"
What? "Whoa, Perry! Wait a minute! The who is what story?"
"The story that you are Superman, Clark. What did you think I was talking about?"
"Not this!" Clark needed a second alone with his thoughts to regain perspective. "Chief, I don't get it. Why would you think that?"
"Clark, it's obvious. Frankly, I should have seen it a long time ago." Perry looked at him thoughtfully before continuing, "You need some time to think about this. Go home. We'll talk tomorrow. Come with an open mind, okay?"
Clark was too in shock to speak, he just nodded.
"And Clark?" He met Perry's eyes. "I really want to be the one to break this if you decide to go that way. Let's keep it under wraps for now. Put a coat on or something."
At Perry's words, Clark looked down. His chest was covered, no red S showing. It took him only another moment to realize the problem. There wasn't a red S showing on his chest, just a gray T-shirt with his plaid boxers at his waist. The blue spandex from his suit showed below his knees and past his elbows. How…?
Clark woke with a start, feeling the breeze from the open window. He shook his head hard to clear it of the crazy dream. He had to start wearing more to bed than just boxers and a T-shirt!