Perry White never quite minded his own business. Everyone else’s was so much more obviously in need of experienced minding. At the moment, he was peacefully monitoring what his employees thought were private emails … in spite of the notice in the handbook that said all emails sent to and from the company server were subject to managerial review.
Grinning at some of the less than savory descriptions of himself – wouldn’t they be surprised when he casually remarked on the inaccuracies – he was completely unprepared for Richard to burst into the office. Perry raised a grizzled eyebrow and looked skeptically at his brother’s son.
At least Richard let the door shut completely behind him. “What the hell happened at the Pulitzers, Perry?” he demanded immediately.
The editor sat back in his chair, for once in his life stunned. Ah, shit. I knew this was coming. I just hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. “What’re you talking about, Richard? And don’t take that tone with me.”
“I’m talking about my fiancée and
“What about your fiancée and
“Oh, come off it,” Richard scoffed. “Stop screwing around and tell me what the hell you know about Kent and Lois making out at the Pulitzers.”
“Making out? Are you smoking something?” Perry was relieved to be on safe ground here. “I don’t know who you were talking to, but they don’t have their facts straight.”
“So what really happened?”
The editor hesitated, then plunged on. “Dammit, you told her there’d be an open bar. You practically told her to drink.”
“So she got plastered?”
“She didn’t get drunk, she got a little bit tipsy. I chased them out onto the dance floor so she could finally talk to Kent – which is what we all wanted, so they’d quit fighting all the damn time – and it worked. They were bickering like they used to. Problem is, she almost kissed him at the end of a slow dance.”
“She kissed him?” Richard hissed.
“Almost,” Perry growled. “Stop calling yourself a reporter if you can’t quote a source accurately! She quit and pulled back well before she actually kissed him, though.”
“And you weren’t gonna tell me?!”
“Of course not!” Perry barked. “You’d just make an ass of yourself, like you’re doing right now!”
“Yes, really! She’d had a few and she was dancing with the guy. So she almost kissed him. There’s a shrink in Chelsea who did a whole lot more than kiss her a couple years before you showed up, if you want to be a jerk to someone who deserves it.”
“Well, I have good reason to believe she did a whole lot more than kiss
“What?” Perry stared at him incredulously. “Richard, son, you have completely and utterly lost your mind. Clark
“I’m serious,” Richard said, regaining a little of his composure. “Look, Uncle Perry. You sent them to
“So you’re saying they met in
“Yes, and thanks so very much for telling me that when I first met her,” Richard replied sharply. “Anyway, she was in
“Okay, okay, it’s plausible. But what about Garen what’s-his-name?”
“No such person,” Richard retorted. “I checked. The name Garen never appeared in a Quotidienne byline, as first, middle, or last. The only Garen who ever worked in the area had a stationery shop across the street, and his boyfriend didn’t appreciate me calling.”
“Furthermore, of the four guys who worked there at the same time as Lois and who claim to have slept with her – none named Garen – none of them actually have. At least, none of them have ever seen her naked.”
“What? How the hell do you know that?”
“Because they can all describe, in detail, a birthmark she doesn’t have,” Richard told him.
Perry stared. Slowly, he said, “If she ever finds out you’ve been investigating her, Richard, she’ll kick your ass. I mean she will literally beat the daylights out of you.”
“Yes, well, this is what happens when you lie and evade to the point where someone doesn’t trust you to answer a direct question,” Richard replied hotly.
“Perry, look me in the eyes and tell me you think I’m wrong,” the younger man demanded. “It’s the only explanation that makes sense. He was gone,
Perry sighed, dropping his face into his hands. For a moment, just a moment, he looked his age, careworn and tired. His voice was low and resigned as he said, “Richard, listen to me for once in your life. Which do you want, the truth – or Lois? Because you’re gonna lose her if you keep this up.”
His nephew leaned forward, eyes intense. “What if she was never mine to begin with, Perry? Just answer me.”
“Fine, shoot yourself in the foot if you want to,” Perry barked, some of the old fire coming back. “I didn’t want you to get hurt, but I can’t stop you if you’re this determined. Yeah, I think it makes sense. I don’t one hundred percent believe you’ve hit on the truth, but it’s plausible. If you’re happy now, do me a favor.”
“Don’t talk to
“Why … not that I’m gonna, but why not, Perry?”
The editor glared. “Because if you’re wrong and he never slept with her, you’ll probably kill him by suggesting he did.”
Richard rolled his eyes, got up, and left the office without a further word. A few moments later, Perry saw the switchboard monitoring program on his computer pick up a call from Richard’s cell phone to Troupe in International. At least the boy’s figured out he better let someone know when he leaves this office, the older man thought, sitting back in his chair with a troubled glance into Lois’ office. She and Kent had both just barely missed meeting Richard, and Perry was damned glad they had. That was not a scene he cared to witness.
Lois arrived back at the office after Richard had shown up and left again. Perry was giving her a strange look, but he didn’t call her into his office, so she ignored him for the moment.
Richard stayed gone, and
By lunch time, she’d given up in disgust. I’m going to have to talk to an actual geologist. Lovely. Forget this, I’m going to go get something to eat. And no breakroom vending machine for me today, please. She waved to Jimmy on her way out, and he smiled at her, instantly lightening her mood.
Ten minutes later she was back, her heels striking the carpet sharply, and Jimmy looked up questioningly but knew better than to ask what was wrong. Lois headed to her office without a word and called her car insurance company. “Hi, this is
The man started going through what was clearly a checklist, and Lois replied impatiently. “Right, I tried that… Uh-huh. Nope, it has fuel, I checked the distributor cap, spark plugs are tight.
She hung up the phone, sighing in disgust, and then called in an order of pizza. After that she dialed Barbara, “You’ll definitely be picking them up today, hon.”
“Really? What happened?” Someone was practicing the piano in the background, probably one of her adult students.
“My stupid car died. I have a $450 a month lease and the bloody thing just won’t start. I love that car, but right now I could just kick the hell out of it.”
“It’s no problem, really. I’ll get them. You just be glad the car didn’t break down while you were driving it, Lo.”
“Very true,” Lois chuckled. “Thanks, hon. No, really. Thank you. I guess I’d better get back to work…
The student hit a blatantly sour note, and Lois envisioned Barbara flinching as the woman sighed. “Yeah, me too. See you later.”
“See you. Bye.” Lois hung up and dropped back into her chair, glaring out the windows. Just another lovely day in the life of
Things in the office had seemed unusually tense that morning, and Jimmy wisely chose to spend it in the darkroom, away from everyone’s line of fire. He came up in the afternoon with justification for his pay, plus a couple more pictures from the recent fires to run with an article on the arsonist.
Jimmy was at his desk, keeping a weather eye out for Perry and Richard. One of the other photographers had muttered something to him about a very intense discussion between those two. Sarah Olsen hadn’t raised any fools; the way things had been lately, the discussion could only be about Lois, and Jimmy didn’t want to be interrogated again.
The coast looked clear, though Perry and Lois were in their offices. Richard had been gone for a while, though
Still, Jimmy kept an eye on Lois. Anything that went wrong around here would either center on her or drag her into it, always had. Lois was a magnet for controversy.
Her office door was partly open; it wouldn’t close all the way unless you tugged it, which Lois blamed on damp weather and Perry blamed on her slamming it. So Jimmy heard her phone ring, and having finished setting up the photos for tomorrow’s article, he glanced her way with mild interest.
The raven-haired reporter smiled at first, but then that pleasant expression fell from her face and shattered, like fine china falling from the shelf with a splintering smash. Jimmy sat up, worried, and watched as Lois’ expression went from shock, to fear, to absolute terror. And then rage swarmed up to join the horror, and Lois dropped the phone. It swung beneath her desk from its cord, smacking the wood, while she snatched up her purse and bolted for the door.
Uh-oh, Jimmy thought, panicking. He’d never seen her look like this; even when the Kryptonians threatened them and hurt Perry, she’d been furious, but not this frightened. And again, he’d seen her scared, but not simultaneously so wrathful.
As Lois stormed past his desk, her eyes glazed and fixed on the door, Jimmy yelled for help. “Chief!
Perry was already out of his office, calling her name, but Lois didn’t turn around. No one else seemed willing to get in her way, and Jimmy started to follow her as well. Someone’s got to stop her; there’s no telling what she’ll do when she’s like this, Jimmy thought. Where the heck is
As he and Perry reached the still-swinging doors, they saw
“Get out of my way now,
She tried to shove him aside, but he caught her arm. “Lois, you can’t do this. You can’t run headlong…”
Even if the newsroom doors hadn’t still been swinging back and forth after she slammed them open, they would’ve heard her voice suddenly rise almost to a shriek. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do! Luthor has my twins! And I’ll do whatever I have to do! Now get the hell out of my way!”
She sits in her corner
Singing herself to sleep
Wrapped in all of the promises
That no one seems to keep
She no longer cries to herself
No tears left to wash away
Just diaries of empty pages
Feelings gone astray
But she will sing
Til everything burns
While everyone screams
Burning their lies
Burning my dreams
All of this hate
And all of this pain
I'll burn it all down
As my anger reigns
Til everything burns
Watching it all fade away...
-Ben Moody and Anastacia, "Everything Burns"