PART #: Part 5/12
ALL DISCLAIMERS etc in Part 1
I worked on the outline, using much of the information Bruce gave me to give the article new information and at 4.45pm I crept up the stairs to Perry's office and knocked on the door more boldly than I felt. I'll admit that this guy kinda scared me, though in a very different way to how Principal Snyder did, the nasty little troll that he was. I think the fear Perry inspired was something like hero-worship. I'd come to want to be like him. So respected for his work. He'd accomplished so much and worked so hard and loved what he did. I was beginning to love this work too as compared to just liking it. It was busy and interesting and I was good at it. That always makes a difference to the way you look at something.
"What?" Perry barked.
It was when I tried to step away that I realised Lois and Clark had followed me. Feeling supported and stronger I opened the door and walked in. "Mr. White, I have that draft outline you wanted to see." I handed it to him and continued speaking, "I've begun to write some coherent thoughts in line with the draft outline."
I stopped speaking when I felt Clarks reassuring hand on my shoulder and waited for Perry to finish reading. He was nodding, which was a good sign. I hope.
"Good work. I want a first draft by tomorrow," he said handing the page back to me.
"Perry we wanted to discuss some potential work Buffy could write for the paper," Lois said as I turned and tried to leave.
"What is it?" he said looking up at us, trying not to be annoyed by the interruption and trying to be interested at the same time.
"Buffy has been a student of mythology and has unique experience in the field. We thought that perhaps she could put that to good use by writing a short article each week on mythology and its place in today's society."
"I have access to obscure texts and materials so it would all be referenced," I said, sounding calmer than I felt.
"What sort of mythology?" he asked, his interest piqued.
"Vampires, demons, witches, mystical energies."
"Vampires like Dracula?" he asked dryly. "I won't have superstition in my newspaper."
"Superman is a superstition to some Perry," Clark interjected.
I spoke quickly. "Dracula is a highly over-rated character Mr. White, and an extreme misrepresentation. I have sources that prove he isn't anything like Bram Stoker reported in his novel..."
"Write an introductory article, about 400 words and bring it to me. We'll talk about it then."
"Uh... thank you Mr. White."
He grunted and turned back to what he was doing before we entered. I hurried out and back to my seat.
"That wasn't so bad was it?" Lois asked.
"He kinda scares me but mostly I don't want to disappoint him."
"Fair enough, though I doubt he'd be rude about it if you did. He'd make suggestions for improvement though."
"Oh I know. I just don't want that in the first place."
"Makes sense," Clark said, going back to his desk.
"Is it home time yet?"
"Another ten minutes Buffy."
"Oh good... I can get some more done on my introduction." Vampires, demons and werewolves oh my! Hmmm...
Too many thoughts and my fingers don't type fast enough. It's frustrating but I manage to get all the ideas onto the screen in coherent and intelligible sentences. I stretch back in my seat and realise Dick is standing a few feet away to my left. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough. Didn't want to disturb your thoughts. You looked like you had something to write."
"I did and it's writ," I grinned. "What time is it?"
"Twenty past five."
"No wonder I'm ready to go home. Have Lois and..."
"Already gone. They did say goodbye but you didn't seem to hear them. Lois said it wasn't unusual to get the same reaction from her when she had a good idea and was trying to convert it into print."
"Oh," I said then shrugged. "Is Alfred waiting?"
"No. We can walk if you want or we can get a taxi..."
"Can we walk? I'd like to relax a bit." He smiled and helped me put my coat on before taking my hand and walking beside me.
We didn't talk much on the way home, just enjoyed the walk and the companionable silence. He did tell me that Babs and Cass had been invited for dinner and that Bruce had had word that Willow could be expected into Metropolis at about ten that night.
The apartment was far from quiet when we finally arrived. Barbara and Cassandra had arrived at the apartment by the time we arrive and they stayed late. Alfred and I picked Willow up at the airport around ten. I took her to the room we'd be sharing, my room with the two single beds.
On my bed was a thin square box about eight by eight inches, a squat, rectangular box about the same length as the square on and a note. In Alfred's careful and elegant print I read: 'Here are the photos Miss, and the photo album with all the necessary items to put the photos into it. Master Bruce will be going out late on business this evening. Alfred.'
"What's that?" Willow asked.
I looked over at the door and went to close it before answering her with a smile. "It will be Bruce's Christmas present. Just a moment." I opened the door a crack and called out, "Alfred? Could we beg your assistance a moment?"
"Of course Miss," echoed the reply in a tone that suggested I was silly to think I could not have his help.
I raised the cover on the photo album box and gasped in awe. A leather cover with what I assumed to be the Wayne family emblem pressed into it.
"Wow!" Willow said. "This is for Bruce?"
"Alfred found these photos and I thought we could gather some of us all together." A gentle tap on the door followed by Alfred's entrance turned our attention away from the beautiful soon-to-be gift. "Miss?"
"Alfred, I don't know how you did it but it's beautiful."
"I am pleased to be of service Miss."
I returned his smile. "Could you make sure everyone knows to stay until after Bruce leaves?"
"Certainly Miss. He is preparing now."
"Thank you Alfred." The gentleman left. I sat on my bed and pulled the box of photos onto my lap. "Wanna see?" I asked Willow.
She giggled. "You bet."
I was about to open the box but was interrupted by a bold, non-Alfred-type knock. I quickly grabbed a stray sweater and hid the two boxes under it. "'sopen."
Bruce opened the door. "I'm just going out for a few hours. I'll see you both at breakfast."
"Ok Bruce. Have fun," I smiled.
"Uh... bye," Willow said. After the door closed she asked, "Why is he going out now?"
"Maybe something happened at the office," I shrugged. I would have to have a chat to him about telling Willow. I noticed her necklace. "That's a beautiful necklace you know."
She blushed, taking the pendant between her thumb and forefinger and rubbing it gently. "Yeah."
I chuckled. "Come on. It's time to put this album together." Holding the photo album box, with Willow behind me carrying the photo box, I tiptoed down the hall and made sure I couldn't see Bruce before tiptoeing into the kitchen were everyone was sitting around the table drinking coffee.
"Alfred tells us you have had a good idea for a Christmas present from all of us to Bruce, the man who is impossible to buy for," Barbara said as we came in.
"And with Alfred's conspiratorial help, and yours I think we can do it. Mum told me Bruce has refused her offer to spend Christmas with us in Sunnydale so we'll have to have dinner together again to give it to him."
"So what's the idea?" Tim asked impatiently.
"This," I said placing the album box on the table.
Babs opened it. "It's beautiful. I'll assume you have photos to put in this." Willow put her box on the table.
"Miss, I added some more recent photos to the box in Gotham."
"Oh? Were you planning to give him this as a present yourself Alfred? Because if you were we can come with something else."
"No Miss. I hadn't had the opportunity to give them to Master Bruce and was planning to do so here in Metropolis."
"Ok," I smiled. We moved the album out of the way and began to go through the photos, putting them in a chronological order, preparing them for the album.
Barbara and Cassandra went home at twp the next morning. At the same time Willow, Tim, Dick and I crawled into our beds. I woke up much later, grumpy and still tired and took my bad mood to the office.
Day two in the office. More research. More paper cuts. More disgusting coffee. It was raining, and I was working a late shift with Lois. We started at eleven. At twelve I took the first draft, a very rough draft, of the mythology article to Perry and from that time on I worked solidly on my follow-up article until four when Lois suggested we take break. I sighed and stretched in the chair.
"That means moving away from the desk huh?" She nodded. "I can't be bothered. besides it's too late for lunch and too early for dinner."
"We normally have a bagel and a soda about this time of day. How about that?"
"Sounds good." I stood up and grabbed my purse from my bag as I followed her out of the office.
Dick met us in the foyer. "I was wondering if you'd like some company."
Lois spoke, "We were just going to take an extended coffee break at the café. Want to join us?"
I barely heard their conversation as we sat at the table. My brain was turning words and ideas over trying to write two different articles. I noticed their silence and looked at them. "What?" I asked, mildly confused.
"Still writing?" Lois asked, amused.
"Yeah," I sighed. "I'm sorry I haven't been a better conversationalist."
"We don't mind, do we Lois?"
"No. It's just good to get you out of the office. You have to remember that dedication is good but you need to take a break sometimes."
"That's interesting advice coming from a woman who has to be dragged away from her computer most days," Clark said sitting beside Lois. "Perry wanted to know where you two were."
"Oh. We were just about to come back," Lois said, standing up.
I sighed and followed her example. Dick said farewell at the elevators and I returned to my computer to type out all the ideas that had been consuming my mind.