By Chris Carr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: December 2005
Summary: Perry reacts to Clark's death in the episode "That Old Gang of Mine."
INTRODUCTION: I blame Wendy and David for this one. There I was, hanging around on IRC, complaining about being a procrastinator and suffering from a severe case of writer's block, when Wendy happened to mention that she hadn't been able to get her latest co-authored masterpiece beta-read.
"I'll do it," I said. It was a spur of the moment thing. And, hey, who is going to turn down a chance to get an advance look at a Wendy and David story? ("The Ghost Of Christmas Past" is wonderful, by the way. Go check it out. Now. Seriously. Go and read that one instead of this. It's much better. And longer.)
Anyway… In the process of beta-reading their story, I found myself inspired to write this.
Many thanks to Wendy for beta-reading and GEing.
DISCLAIMER: This story has been written for fun, not for profit. No attempt is being made to infringe any existing copyrights held by December 3rd Productions, Warner Bros, D C Comics, or any other copyright holders.
Because He Can Yodel
Chris's First Ever TOGOM Story
Perry White had been so sure.
Just as he knew that the sun would rise every morning and set every evening, just as he knew that Elvis was alive and well and living incognito with a tribe in the Amazon basin, just as he knew that the Metropolis Oaks were the worst baseball team in the country, and just as he knew that no reporter should ever go into Suicide Slum without back-up, Perry White had known that Clark Kent was Superman. There were few certainties in the world, but that had been one of them.
When Clark's death had been broadcast over the police frequencies, Perry had taken the news with a spadeful of salt. Someone had made a mistake. No doubt about it.
Then, when the news crews had shown up at the scene and interviewed the first eyewitnesses, he'd known Clark's death for what it was: a ruse. It had to be.
Perry had watched seven eye-witness accounts dispassionately, letting the stunned reactions of the rest of the newsroom staff wash over him. Give it five minutes… ten minutes… an hour… two hours tops… and Clark would step out of the elevator, looking just the same as ever, armed with a semi-convincing story to explain away his miraculous escape from certain death.
Clark would convince everyone.
Except Perry, because Perry knew better.
Perry had seen the police report. He'd spoken to Inspector Henderson. And neither had been enough to persuade him that Clark had been shot to death in a squalid little gambling den on the wrong side of town.
It was impossible. How could Clark be dead when he was invulnerable?
Perry knew Clark must have been pretending, wanting to keep the secret of his other identity intact. He would probably have done just the same, if he were in Clark's shoes.
Perry had been so *sure*!
And he'd been wrong. Completely and utterly wrong.
Lois's dishevelled and distracted state as she stumbled out of the elevator and across the newsroom, oblivious to everyone and everything around her, had convinced him of that.
He'd gone over to talk to her. Had a closer look at her. Had been shocked at what he'd seen.
Her hair was a mess, her blood-shot eyes were rimmed with red. Her skin was pale and pasty, and her lips twisted and trembled as she tried to keep the tremors out of her voice.
No-one could fake grief like that.
And Clark Kent would never have allowed her to hurt that much if it had been within his power to stop it. He'd loved her.
Perry knew that. It was another one of life's few certainties.
Perry had seen Clark's love in the way Clark looked at Lois and in the way he'd admired her brilliance and her beauty. Perry had seen it in the way Clark had tolerated her bad temper and her idiosyncrasies. Perry had watched the way Clark had worked with Lois. Worked to become her friend, her *best* friend.
And Perry had watched as Lois, in return, had begun to tolerate Clark. Then come to like him. To admire him. To value him in both her personal and professional lives.
Perry'd watched the way Clark had waited patiently, hoping for something more to develop between them, and Perry had found himself hoping for that something, too.
Now it seemed that Lois had been just about ready to take the big, scary next step. But it was too late for both of them. Because Clark was dead, and Lois…
Lois was a mess. Devastated. Broken.
Clark would have given his life for her in a heartbeat.
Perry swallowed painfully.
Clark *had* given his life for her. In one lousy, rotten heartbeat.
The eye-witnesses — Lois included — had been clear on that point.
Ergo, Clark Kent was not — never had been — Superman.
Perry knew that now.
Suddenly, sitting in the privacy of his office, the shock and anguish he had failed to feel earlier hit him full-force. They were closely followed by more nebulous emotions — a confused blend of grief and sadness and confusion and… embarrassment.
Clark Kent's death hit Perry White like a fist, shattering his confidence as nothing else had done since he was a rookie reporter, stomping the streets and trying to get his first toe- hold on the journalistic career ladder.
If he'd been wrong about Superman, what else had he been wrong about?
Perry rubbed a weary hand across his face and around his neck, trying to massage away his fatigue and tension. Then he stared back down at the story he was trying to edit.
He couldn't see the words.
All he could think about was Clark.
Why had he been so sure that Clark Kent was Superman, anyway? It wasn't as though he'd had any definite proof, was it?
All he'd had was a ridiculous hunch, backed up by a few observations.
He remembered the strength of Clark's handshake the first time they'd met. The way Clark would dodge out of the office on the feeblest of pretexts and return shortly afterwards with some Superman exclusive or another. The way Superman always seemed to get involved with Lois and Clark's stories. The way Clark had better access to the superhero than anyone else.
Perry had put all the memories together and come to the grand- daddy of wrong conclusions.
Coincidences. That was all his pieces of evidence had been. He'd added two and two together and produced an answer of three thousand and twenty-one.
Perry sighed so deeply, it was almost a groan.
Clark Kent had been a good man. Bright, honourable, hard-working and kind. A loving and dutiful son. He'd been popular, easily making friends out of his colleagues. He'd brightened up the office with his ready grins and friendly banter. He'd even cracked open the cynical shell of one of the most single-minded and contrary women it had ever been Perry's pleasure to work with.
And Perry White hadn't known him at all. He couldn't have, because Clark Kent wasn't the man Perry had thought him to be.
Clark Kent wasn't Superman.
And, no matter how much Perry might wish otherwise, Clark wasn't going to walk, miraculously unscathed, into the newsroom.