By JDG <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October, 2007
Summary: Was there more to Cat Grant than we gave her credit for?
The noise of the party was overwhelming. Clark had never seen so many people packed into so small a space. The entire city, it seemed, had turned out for Cat Grant's farewell party. It was so close, so confined in the restaurant, that Clark ducked outside, stepping out onto the patio for a breath of fresh air and a chance to clear his head.
There were people on the patio, too, but they were far fewer and he was able to find a quiet corner. Below him the Hobbs River flowed to the sea, distorting the lights from above in its dark current. He heard the tip-tap of high heels behind him and then a feminine voice said, "We never did have that dinner. If you're ever in New York, I hope you'll call me."
Clark tensed automatically. Of all the places he didn't want to be cornered by Cat, this potentially romantic locale would top the list. He half-turned his head to acknowledge her and politely said, "Sure. I'll do that."
Cat came alongside him, resting her elbows on the deck rail near his. "No, you won't," she said matter-of-factly. "We both know you won't."
Clark flushed and looked at the water below them.
"I'm trying not to take it personally," Cat went on. "It's been obvious to me since day one who you really wanted."
He didn't answer. There was no point in denying that one.
"You should tell Lois the truth," Cat said softly.
"The truth?" Clark shook his head at the futility of trying to explain just how complicated the truth really was to Cat. And yet, he couldn't stop himself from adding, "I did tell her the truth. And the next day she agreed to marry Luthor."
"Which truth did you tell her, Clark?"
"I'm sorry?" He turned his head and was caught off-guard by how different Cat looked. Gone was her usual predatory expression. She looked years younger and almost sad as she gave him a smile.
"Do you know what the most essential part of being a gossip columnist is?" she asked.
"Good sources?" he guessed.
"Discretion," she answered. "You have to know what's worth telling and what should never be repeated to a single soul. Would you believe that I don't write over half of the things that I learn about people?"
He didn't say a word, just watched her curiously.
"I knew about you," she said quietly. "And I'll bet you never realized it."
"Knew — about me?' He blinked, feeling the blood run cold in his veins.
"You know." Cat gestured with a nod at the starry sky above them. "That."
Clark shook his head, hoping that she didn't mean what it sounded like she meant.
"I saw you, a few months ago. I was just coming out of a building and I saw you go into the alley. And then, whoosh, he came flying out of there. I went into the alley to talk to you but all I found were your clothes." She shrugged and gave him a shy smile. "After that, I didn't know what to say to you. So I didn't say anything."
Clark stood up straight, suddenly completely uncertain what to say next. "I, uh—"
"I don't know how you do it. There have been a few times when I wanted to tell her, just to take her down a notch or two. You're an extraordinary guy, Clark. And not just because of —." Cat gestured at the sky above them again.
"Cat," he whispered. "I—"
"You should tell her." Cat looked over her shoulder at the party inside. "The whole truth. She's probably going to be madder than hell at you for a while, but I hope you'll let me know what happens with you two. That's my fee, Clark, for sitting on the juiciest bit of gossip ever and not saying a word."
Her hands came to his shoulders, lightly bracing herself there as she leaned closer and pressed her lips to his cheek. Then she took a step back, her hands affectionately patting his shoulders before she released him. "I should get back inside now. Just don't leave tonight without saying good-bye, will you?"
Clark shook his head, watching mutely as she went back to the party.
As they stood in line to leave, Clark wondered how to say good-bye. All those months, all that time that she had known and no one, not even him, had been the wiser. There were so many things about Cat that didn't make sense to him. In her own way she was as mercurial as Lois and he wondered if things might have been different if they had been — different, somehow.
The line moved and she was there, giving a lingering hug to one of the Planet's ad execs. How many other secrets did she know? Clark couldn't help but wonder just how many people owed her as much as he did.
"So long, Cat," Lois said and barely slowed down as she passed her.
"Bye." Cat gave Lois a breezy wave and turned her attention to Clark. Their eyes met and she gave him a genuine smile.
"I'm going to miss you," she told him. For the first time her words didn't sound at all suggestive.
"I'm going to miss you, too," he answered truthfully. "Thanks for being such a great friend."
"Always," she said lightly and gave him a wink.
Clark bent and kissed her cheek, then lingered to whisper. "The next time I'm in New York, I'll call you. We can catch up."
Her hand rose to brush across his cheek and then she pulled away from him. "Sure," she said with a smile.
"That was friendly," Lois commented snidely as she signaled for a cab.
"She's a better person than you give her credit for, Lois."
"Oh please. Are you trying to tell me that there's more to Cat than her lack of morals?"
"There is, you know. There's a lot more to her than what you see on the surface. Actually that's true of everyone."
"Whatever, Clark. I thought you'd finally seen her for what she really is."
"I have," he told her and glanced back at the restaurant. "I definitely have."
For those wondering about the title, "apologia" is a written defense of one's motives, convictions or acts.