By Sara Kraft <email@example.com>
Rating: G Submitted September 18, 1997
Summary: What might have happened if Perry had found the letter from Alice in time in "Ultra Woman"? A third in a trilogy started by Shawn V. with "Ghost Arrival" and "The Ghost and Kirshner."
Author's Note: This is kind of a spin-off of a little world created by a fellow author, Shawn V. (and yes, he kindly gave me permission to borrow his ideas). While reading his stories, "Ghost Arrival" and "The Ghost and Kirshner," one scene in particular grabbed my attention, took hold of my creative mind, and demanded to be written further. To fully understand the basis of my story, you should probably read Shawn V.'s first…and besides they're pretty darn good. Although it is not in my usual repetoire to write about characters other than L&C, this story is primarily about Perry. The first scene is wholly stolen from 'The Ghost and Kirshner', not to mention little bits and pieces from 'UW', but the rest of it is mine. Well okay…so the characters aren't mine, but I won't tell if you won't <g>. Last but not least, comments, criticism, and the like are always welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirshner's Ghost (for lack of a title that has anything to do with the story<g>)
They walked into his office. He was on the phone. "I don't care what— Well, change it, then!" He slammed the phone down. "Judas Priest! Do I have to do everything around here?"
"Chief, we need to talk to you," Lois said.
"I'm listening." Perry sensed that there was trouble in Lois and Clark Land. "What's the problem?"
Lois and Clark launched into the Reader's Digest version of their story, omitting little details that would reveal Clark's secret identity.
When they were finished, Perry's jaw nearly touched the floor. "That is the most incredible story I have ever heard!" he exclaimed. "But somehow I believe it. Go ahead and do what you need to do with Paul. I'll give you both an extended leave. But when you come back, I'll expect a whole series of articles. 'On the Road With Paul'."
"Thanks, Perry," Lois said, as they turned and walked out of his office.
"You're welcome, Sweetie. You two are really engaged in the future?"
"Hard to believe, huh? But this Farmboy managed to win my heart, try as I might to keep him from doing it."
Lois and Clark walked out of the door, and Clark added, "And Chief? On November 12, 1995, check your jacket pocket before 5 o'clock."
"Just trust me."
"All right." **
The old editor watched his best reporting team leave his office. I wonder what in Elvis' name is going to happen on the twelfth? Far be it from me to predict the future. He jotted the note down on a small piece of paper and tacked it to his ever- cluttered bulletin board.
"Chief, call for you, line two." Perry sighed towards the note and picked up the phone, the note forgotten for some time to come.
-November 12, 1995-
The sun had yet to show its face, and Perry White had once again beat it to the Planet. He donned the usual casual business suit with a flavorful tie, one of Alice's gifts. Man, what a hectic week it had been! It seemed he'd been coming in early and staying late more often than usual, even for an editor-in- chief. Thank Elvis he'd gotten his best reporting team back from the devious Lakes, not to mention a great story too. He looked out his office window and smiled as he saw Clark gazing at Lois. Why, he remembered having that very same look on his face some thirty-one odd years ago. Alice sure wasn't appreciating all these late nights at the office. Trying to bring his marriage back to a blissful state, he'd even gone so far as to risk humiliation in the news room, wearing those ridiculous ties from Alice. He looked down at his latest venture at fashion and sighed, hoping he'd be able to get home early tonight.
Breaking his thoughts, Jimmy called out, "Chief, there's a kid trapped in the wishing well in Metropolis Park."
"Lois, Clark." "On it."
"Oh, and your wife called."
"Call her back for me, tell her it'll probably be another late one," Perry bellowed. Oh boy, Alice is not going to like that one. I should give her a call later on, he thought, making a mental note of it.
"Olsen, where's that letter from the mayor I got yesterday?"
"I put it on your bulletin board, Chief."
Of all the places, it was right here in front of my nose. He took the tack from the letter and replaced it while he re-read the document. A small piece of paper fluttering to the ground caught his eye. Judas Priest, I've got to get a bigger message board, he muttered under his breath as he bent down to pick up the scrap. He read it and read it again, not sure where it came from. Then it all came rushing back to him. Flashing over to his coat, he checked one pocket, then the other, eager to find out what Kent had meant that day. It was an envelope, from Alice.
Jimmy walked in, "Hey, Chief, that the mayor's letter?"
"No, it's from Alice." He began to read, "Uh, oh. She left me!"
"Alice?" Clark overheard as he walked in.
"No, no, wait a minute. 'Call me by five and we'll talk. Otherwise, don't bother. Ever.'"
"Chief, it's after 4:30, you still have half an hour left," Jimmy pointed out with a hint of urgency in his voice.
A nervous and anxious editor grabbed his coat and barked out orders as he rushed to the elevator, "Clark, hold down the fort. And Jimmy, put the paper to bed. I gotta go find Alice." The elevator doors closed on a smiling Clark and a wide-mouthed Jimmy.
Perry sped out of the building and, once in his car, used the same speed to drive home. Within five minutes, the worried husband pulled up to an ornate building. Hurrying up the flights of stairs to their third story penthouse, he opened the door to find Alice in the bedroom, packing the last of her many bags. "Alice, honey, don't go. I know we can work this out. Just give me a chance and we'll talk," he pleaded, ending his words with open arms.
She looked over at him, hurt in her eyes. "Perry, you have no idea what you're asking, but I'll give you one more chance."
This was it. One screw-up and he would never see her again. So he chose his words carefully. "Sweetheart, I know that sometimes it's hard for you, with the Planet and all. And I know that I've been spending a lot of time there, when I should have been spending more with you."
"Perry, you *don't* know what it's like. Every morning, you go off to your work, and leave me here. You don't come home until late, ever so long after most people have gone to bed. You don't take any days off when you can avoid it. You've been spending your life at the paper!"
Perry hung his head in shame. She was right. He lived and breathed the Daily Planet. And had been doing so for years. "Look, Alice. There's not much I can say to you except I'm sorry. I'd like to say that I'm going to stop being that way, but I don't think that I can. I can say, however, that I love you. Alice, you are more important to me than the paper. And if you want me to leave it, I will."
Alice looked into his eyes. She saw that, although it would hurt him, he'd do as he said, if she wanted him to. He would give up the Daily Planet, give up everything he'd worked so hard for. Give up his dreams, his hopes. Just for her. For a second, she thought that that was what she wanted. For him to stop being "Perry White, Editor of the Daily Planet" and to start being just her husband. But she knew that she was being selfish. And she knew that she couldn't hurt Perry like that. The Planet was part of him, and it would kill him to leave it. "Darling, I couldn't ask you to do that. I know what that paper means to you. I just want to know that I mean something to you, too."
"Alice, you mean everything to me. I couldn't live without you," Perry started.
"I know, I know," she interrupted. "I guess I just needed to hear it from you again. Perry, I love you, but I can't…I just can't…" she broke off.
Perry held her for a moment. "Alice, you don't have to anymore. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he whispered.
Tears started to fall down Alice's face, unbidden. "I know, Perry."
"I'll spend more time with you, I promise. I'll never make the mistake of letting you slip away again."
"Perry, don't promise you'll spend more time with me. I know that you'd try, but you'd just go back to the paper. What I want to know is that you love me, and that you'll be here for me when I need you. That was one of the things that upset me, you know. Always, when I'd call, I'd be put on hold, or the call would be cut short. I never got to talk to you. I mean, really talk. Even when we were alone, your mind would be on the paper. And all I ever wanted was to spend some time with you, when we were a couple. The paper made us a trio, and it's not the same."
Perry made a silent vow that his time with Alice would be his time with Alice. Not the time he used to think about the paper. "Alice, sweetheart, I promise that I will never hurt you like this again. I'm so sorry," he said, for what seemed like the millionth time that evening.
"Perry, I love you, and I never wanted to leave you. Second fiddle is not my favorite position to play, but maybe half of a duet…"
"Alice, you'll always be first fiddle with me, no matter what it looks like," Perry said.
Alice smiled at him. "Thank you," she whispered. "Now, get back to work! You know what'll happen to the paper without you!"
Perry's heart rejoiced. She understood. She understood him so well. He smiled a thank you to her and left for the Planet building.
Perry White, for the first time in his long career, walked into an already busy news room, whistling. He ignored the staring, the questioning looks, and even the cheering (Jimmy, Lois, and Clark, for the most part) and walked into to his office with a smile.
The buzz of the news room returned to normal with the exception of three extremely happy friends. "I'm glad things worked out for the Chief. Things just weren't the same for a while there. Everything's back to normal," Jimmy sighed as he returned to his desk.
Lois and Clark looked at each other, both silently agreeing with their young friend. But he only knew the half of it, Jimmy had yet to fall in love. Not just lust or caring, but that one great love that can survive anything and everything. Clark took that love in his arms and brought her to his lips for a soft kiss. "I hope we can last as long as Perry and Alice have," Lois breathed wistfully.
"We will, my love, we will."
A booming southern voice interrupted them, "Lois, Clark, git in my office pronto! Have I got a story for you…"
The couple glanced once more at each other. Yep, things were certainly back to normal.