The second migraine-inducing thing to happen to Cat Grant, Fortune 500 CEO this Monday morning is when she picks up on the office gossip that an important visitor is coming up to visit. The third is when her private elevator dings, and the tension in the office becomes silent and palpable.
Curious, but valiantly maintaining a mask of irritation for the sake of her elevator-hogging reputation, Cat stalks over to the waiting mass of employees about to greet the guest. Cat assures herself that it doesn’t matter how important this person is, she can handle it, and most importantly not even the president should use her elevator without permission.
Casually, she notices that Kara has deigned to join them on the main floor, and appears to be leading the pack of nervous lemmings. Kara doesn’t seem to have noticed Cat stopping behind the group, but the tech geek (Winn, she knows, but it helps to keep the illusion, even in her head) sure does. Before he can badger Kara like a lovesick puppy about the appearance of her boss, the elevator opens and none other than Clark Kent walks out.
Yes, it’s true he’s still the Daily Planet’s head reporter, but he’s not that important. Even worse, he’s a competitor! And and old friend, sure, but Cat’s not going to let anything slip through until they’re alone. She may trust him with her life, but not with her secrets. He’s the most honest person she knows, and that makes him very dangerous. Why wasn’t she warned?
Cat prepares to give him a knowing look and a brief hug, but before she can step forward Clark makes eye contact with someone else in front of him and his face just - it just lights up completely. Cat hasn’t seen him smile like that since her final days at the Daily Planet, when he and Lois finally gave into the sexual tension.
“Kara!” He bellows. The two smiling idiots run to each other out of something in a Nicholas Sparks movie, and Clark brings Cat’s favorite ex-assistant into a bone-crushing hug.
“Clark!” Kara smiles back with her perfect megawatt grin Cat has seen, maybe three or four times.
“What are are you doing here? I mean, I know what you’re doing here , I just mean why aren’t you in Metropolis? Don’t you-”
“Kara, whoa, slow down. Hey, I get it,” Clark says quietly, patiently, like he knows how to deal with Kara’s puppy dog enthusiasm. He’s still holding her by the arms, “I asked for the week off. We haven’t had any time in years to just be with each other, and I got someone to cover for me at the Planet.”
And okay, Clark is the most innocent man on earth, despite being practically engaged to Lois for years by this point. Maybe he doesn’t know how that sounds.
And then, the fucker winks.
“Kent!” Cat cuts in, and if her cut-a-bitch smile isn’t perfect, Clark can at least guess why, “So nice of you to drop by. Well, my employees need to get back to work. Next time if you need an appointment you should schedule it with my assistant.” She tries to hold his gaze with a glare, but by the knowing look on his face, she fails.
“Nice to see you too, Cat. Would you like a hug?” Clark finally lets go of Kara, and stalks over so that he looms over Cat, even in her favorite heels. The rat bastard. She tries to make the hug as brief as possible, but he grips her tight and whispers, “Dinner friday? We need to talk.” When he finally lets her go, what was probably only a moment later, he has an expectant look on his face. Cat resigns herself to the whims of an old friend, and gives an aborted nod. It doesn’t matter what she has scheduled Friday, she needs to know what Clark’s relationship to Kara is.
For business reasons, of course. It wouldn’t do to have her new senior manager be giving trade secrets to the Planet all because of a previous fling. Not that Kara and Clark actually had a fling.
Oh, who is Cat kidding. They totally dated. The question is when, and what went down after.
“-Carter?” Cat tunes back into the conversation to notice Winn, James, Kara, and Clark all staring at her. Clark must have asked about Carter.
“He’s fine, still stuck in his little turtle shell. But someday, who knows. Now, come on, everybody! Back to work! The Planet’s down a man, let’s find us a scoop!”
“Miss Grant,” Kara interrupts, as Cat turns back to her office.
“I’m going on my lunch break, would you like me to bring you something?” And just like that, even when Cat’s at her snappiest, and when Clark is right there, Kara is always so kind. That’s going to hurt her, someday. Though not if Cat can help it.
“You’re not my assistant anymore, Kara. Go, enjoy your lunch.” Cat has only a moment to absorb Clark’s surprised face - though from the lack of demands or the promotion, Cat can’t tell - before she turns back to her office and closes the glass doors to not-contemplate this new development in solace.
(“She called you Kara,” Clark says, as the four of them descend in Cat’s elevator.
“I know,” Kara says excitedly, “I think she’s finally noticing all the work I do.”
Clark and James make knowing eye contact over her head.)
Wednesday morning, Cat finds a latte on her desk that was clearly not brought by her newest incompetent assistant. By noon, Cat notices Kara and Clark pass her door no less than 3 times. The fourth time, she decides she doesn’t want to deal with seeing those two follow each other like baby ducks.
“Keira!” Cat says, maybe a little too loudly, because out of the corner of her eye she notices half the office freeze, “Just take the rest of the day off. Please. Your pacing is draining my energy.”
“A-Are you sure, Miss Grant? I don’t mean to-”
“Yes, please, just go. And take your lost puppy reporter with you. I’ll see you tomorrow. Or not. Whatever.”
“O-okay. Winn, can you-”
“Yeah, yeah, Kara, I got it.”
On their way out, Cat catches the little confused stares Clark sends her way. She also notices that Kara pressed the UP button on the staff elevator.
Cat enters the already buzzing office late on Thursday morning because she was in the office until 11pm dealing with the final cut of the Superman-Supergirl team up from yesterday. And when she got home, Carter was still awake when he should have been sleeping and they had a minor screaming match.
This is her third cup of coffee.
There’s a note on her desk from James asking for a meeting on prints for the follow-up article on the Kryptonian brainwashing attack from earlier in the year. Nevermind that the article hasn’t even been proofed yet. Cat checks her calendar and sees that the meeting has already been scheduled for 1 in the afternoon. Swipes to the next day, and sees that dinner with Clark has a 4 hour block starting at 5pm.
Who eats dinner at 5pm?
Cat has a sneaking suspicion that Winn told Kara about Cat’s incompetent new assistant, who only handles errands currently, and so the ever-perfect blonde people-pleaser did Cat’s calendar for her. Instead of sending an email, as would be polite, Cat grabs her coffee and marches to the elevator. Takes it down to the Management floor. And clicks her way into Kara’s new office (it’s not that new, it still just feels new to Cat).
“Kiera,” Cat begins, not even looking at Kara, “what did I tell you just Monday about-” Cat looks up at the obvious sound of a thump and notices for the first time that Kara is not alone in her office. Clark is there.
And his hair is very much sex-mussed.
Kara looks office-appropriate, but flustered, like she was just caught-
You’ve got to be kidding me.
“Clark, what you do in your own time is your own business, but since Kara is my employee and on my time you should take care to realize that this is a public space and act accordingly.” Cat looks over at Kara, who’s still staring at the floor. “Also, I need a better assistant. See to it that one is appointed by the end of the week.”
Cat gracefully turns out of the room, and closes the door behind her.
(“What the heck was that about?”
“I don’t care, I’m just glad she didn’t see us hovering four feet off the ground, or we would have had a much worse problem on our hands.”
“Yeah, but did you see how angry she looked?”
“She wasn’t that angry, Kara, you haven’t seen Cat Grant angry.”
“Wanna bet, flyboy?”)
By Friday Cat has realized that Kara and Clark would be disgustingly good for one another. They’re both exceedingly honest, loyal to a fault, and have strangely similar quirks (including constantly adjusting their glasses. Why?). But it just rubs Cat the wrong way. For starters, Clark is in quite the committed relationship, if the society column of CatCo’s Tribune is anything to go by. Not to mention that Kara already has two male admirers following her around.
But then again, Cat hasn’t seen Kara that committed to anyone. The girl even skipped out on a date with Adam, despite her son’s assurances that they seemed to have chemistry. The only people Cat sees Kara sticking with are Winn, James, and, well, Cat.
And now Clark.
The two clearly have some history that hopefully Cat is able to clear up over dinner. Not because it’s her problem, but she’s curious.
She almost feels bad for Lois, the hag. She might be a vindictive bitch, but even she knows that the Daily Planet reporter getting dumped for a blonde twenty-something will hurt a lot. Lois and Clark have been dating for too many years to not have considered marriage. Cat wants to see Lois disgraced, but not like that.
Point being, Cat will not be happy if Kara and Clark get it together.
Because it will hurt Lois, and that’s bad. No other reason.
At 5 on the dot, there’s a knock on the glass, even though her door is wide open.
“Dinner date, Ms. Grant?” Clark asks.
Cat shuts off her computer and grabs her purse. By the time she’s looked over, Clark already grabbed her coat from the couch.
“You better have booked us somewhere important, Mr. Head Reporter.”
“Oh? I thought that was your job, Ms. CEO.” Cat looks back at Clark, the cheeky bastard. He’s smiling wide, and they’re bantering like nothing has changed. Say what you want about Perry, or the Planet, but that first team? They were family. Cat, Perry, Jimmy, Clark and Lois- they did almost everything together. But after Lois and Clark started dating, they got quiet. Cat left for bigger and better things, sure. But. It was also hard, finding that the few people you always cared about were drifting slowly away from you.
Cat’s not sure Clark ever really noticed when she started drawing back in turn.
“Let’s grab something to go.” Cat states boldly, happy with her decision. This meeting is about catching up with an old friend, and she’s not going to let some dumb office romance, misplaced jealousy, or old scars get in the way. This isn’t a conversation over dinner.
Like the old days, Clark immediately knows what she’s thinking. “You sure?”
“I’m sure. I don’t have Carter tonight, and you haven’t seen the new penthouse. I’m thinking Indian from the food truck on 15th.”
It takes Clark a few more seconds to search Cat’s face for an agenda, and for once, she’s not hiding anything. He must notice, because the guarded world-renowned reporter mask drops from his face, and Cat lets him guide her coat over her shoulders.
They take Cat’s elevator in silence to the ground floor.
They’re several glasses of wine into reminiscing before the topic really comes up.
“So, Kara and I went to go see-”
“Don’t what, Cat?”
“Don’t take Kara on any more dates.” Cat says, apropos of nothing, and maybe she has had too much wine.
“I know she’s cute, I know you had, ~something~ , back in the day, but she’s more or less spoken for here, or whatever, and you’d break Lois’ heart! Don’t you know that! I mean, not that the cold bitch doesn’t deserve- but no one deserves to be dropped like a hot potato for the younger model.”
“Cat, woah, where is this coming from? I’m not dumping Lois. We’re getting engaged, or did you not hear the last 20 minutes of this conversation. And dates? What dates? We’re just friends! Good friends!”
“We’re good friends,” Cat says quietly.
“You never hug me like that.”
“Cat, ” Clark says, and oh, there’s the heartbroken voice he uses when he cares so damn much. Never rid himself of that particular vulnerable trait. Just like Kara.
“Good friends don’t spend the whole day in the office together, Clark. Good friends don’t get flustered when someone walks in on them in a public space. Good friends don’t wink at each other like-”
“No, you’re right.” And isn’t that just what Cat wanted to hear. But didn’t. At all. “Kara and I aren’t good friends. We’re family.”
What? “What?” Cat repeats out loud.
“I should have told you. Heck, Kara should have told you. I’m sorry we didn’t say anything earlier.”
“Kara never mentioned any living family. She said she was adopted. Her parents died young.”
“She was. They did.”
“It’s complicated. It doesn’t matter. Just know that we’re only friends, and we never meant to deceive you. Okay?”
Cat looks up and Clark is so close she can see the smudges on his glasses. They look watery.
Oh. Maybe that’s just her.
“Cat, I-” Clark cuts himself off. At this distance, she can see his eyes unfocus, like he’s just realizing something completely unrelated.
“Turn on the news,” Clark says seriously, already back in Reporter-mode. Cat grabs the remote they were using to watch Office reruns and switches the TV to CatCo 1.
There’s what looks like a serious fire going in the waterfront, and smoke streaming out of a nearby club.
Incredulously, Cat asks, “How did you-”
“I heard the sirens,” Clark replies, still staring at the TV. Cat seriously doubts that he heard the fire trucks from here, but this wouldn’t be the first time Clark has done something seriously weird. She forgot how used to his brand of quirky she used to be. It was always better to let sleeping dogs lie.
Her phone rings. Probably the office.
Walking to the kitchen to grab the phone, Cat almost doesn’t hear Clark when he says “Kara’s there.” Cat freezes.
“What? Kara has the night off, she should be at home, she’s nowhere near the waterfront zone-”
“Cat, trust me, she told me she was going out with her sister. I have to go.”
Cat puts her hand on her hip, not letting her friend get himself into trouble so easily. She shoves down the immediate worry that comes from hearing Kara’s in danger. “What are you going to do when you get there, huh? Other than scoop me.”
“I’m not on the clock, Cat, neither are you.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m not working,” Cat shakes the ringing phone at him.
“I have to go, Cat,” Clark says, so earnestly and seriously that she can’t help but believe him. Despite how flimsy of a reason he gives her. She gets it. Family. It if was Carter, or Adam...
Best not to think about that.
“Well, alright. But don’t be a stranger, Kansas boy.”
Clark’s already halfway out the door when he stops and turns back to look at Cat. Holds her gaze.
“Cat,” he says, “you are a good friend. A great friend. To me, and to Kara. I’m sorry about this week, but we just-” He pauses and shakes his head, “no, no excuses. We should have told you upfront how we knew each other. And I’m sorry Lois and I haven’t kept in touch very well. You’re so important to me. So don’t you become a stranger, Ms. CEO. I’ll come to the office tomorrow to say goodbye before I head to the airport, okay?”
Clark actually waits for her to respond. “Okay,” Cat says, the meekest she’s felt in a long time, but also somehow loved.
“Okay. See you tomorrow,” Clark says as he closes the door.
He’s already probably halfway down the hallway before Cat realizes something.
“I don’t work Saturdays!” Cat yells.
Hears nothing back but distant sirens.
She opens the door, and finds no one in the hallway. The window is open.
Believe it or not, the Friday night fire was actually an alien attack, so it’s all hands on deck Saturday morning for the afternoon paper and live coverage of the aftermath.
Cat calls a meeting of upper management so she can see if Kara is unharmed. She’s not worried, just thorough. And lo and behold, Kara walks into the meeting five minutes late with three coffees and Clark in tow. Drops one of the coffee’s on Cat's desk and hands one to Clark.
“Thank you Keira,” Cat adds, in the middle of a tirade about the formatting on the website homepage not lending to the best readability for a single ongoing story. Makes brief eye contact with Clark.
“Uh,” An assistant manager from HR breaks the conversation, and adds, “maybe it’s not my place, but shouldn’t a confidential meeting on CatCo’s business strategy not involve a Planet reporter listening in?”
Another glance at Clark’s sheepish face proves that he did not intend to be stealing trade secrets today. “Well given that all of the errors we’re discussing are clearly below my standards there really isn’t anything for him to overhear worth knowing, hm? Fix it. Now go.” Cat waves her hand to dismiss the group, staring at her email, and hoping that she won’t have to remind Kara to stay behind.
She takes a quick glance up and notices that Clark has his hand on Kara’s arm, silently gesturing her to stay. Cat doesn’t know how she missed it. Those two are very much in sync, but they’re not romantically in love. Clark has always been touchy-feely; Kara has always been overtly enthusiastic and trusting. With Lois, Clark was bold, aggressive, tit-for-tat. With Kara he’s bumbling and relaxed.
“Miss Grant, I wanted to apologize for any-”
“Save it, Keira, it’s none of my business anyway.”
“Well, still, I-”
“Are you alright?”
“What?” Kara asks, surprised and confused.
“She’s fine, not as close to the attack as I thought,” Clark says in her stead, while Kara is clearly not catching on. She looks up at Clark, who adds, “I told Cat last night that you were out with your sister on the waterfront. I left early to come find you, remember?”
“Oh, yes, yep, that, that happened. You were worried I was caught in the alien attack while drunk and came to get me. Not that I was drunk, not that i can get drunk. I mean I can I just-”
“Kara, stop,” Cat says as Clark says “Okay! Great, yeah, glad we’ve established this.”
There’s a quiet awkward silence where Cat knows they’re not telling her everything, and they know that Cat knows this, but no one is going to call anyone out on their bullshit, least of all Queen of bullshit-to-hide-my-feelings Ms. Grant.
She can be a self aware woman sometimes.
“I’ll just... give you two a moment,” Kara says quietly, and steps outside the office.
“Cat,” Clark starts, “I’m sorry for running out on you like that, I was really worried-”
“Oh save it, Clark, it’s not like I don’t remember working for the Planet and you running off every ten minutes with some dumb excuse. It’s just how you are.”
He’s clearly surprised to hear that someone noticed. “Wow. It sounds really bad when you say it like that.”
“Nope,” Cat says, and smiles, “that’s all you, Kansas boy. Thank you for talking with me.” And for once, the sincere thanks is not like pulling teeth.
“Thank you for sharing.”
There’s a brief moment when Cat feels unsure, but then Clark moves for a hug. And just like last time, before she can pull away, he whispers, “and if I were you, I’d take a long hard look at the week you just spend worrying about my relationship with Kara. You might figure something out about yourself.”
Which is cryptic bullshit, but that’s better than lying bullshit. Cat makes a mental note to ponder his words later. Clark finally lets her out of the hug, and after a brief returned smile, Cat replaces her carefully crafted mask.
“Get out of here, you secret stealing monster. You have a plane to catch. Chop chop.”
“Always a pleasure, Cat Grant.”
“Hm, don’t get any smart ideas, Kent.”
He waves goodbye, and that’s that. One more friend gone from her life. Only this time, with a much more sincere promise to keep in touch. She’ll have to return the favor when she’s in Metropolis, next time.
Kara passes by the open office on her way back to the main elevators, clearly having eavesdropped on the whole conversation.
Kara smiles at her, and it’s brighter than even Clark’s sincere grin. Cat smiles back.