Right Before Your Eyes

by Darth Stitch

DISCLAIMER: Big Blue and the rest of the merry Metropolis and Smallville crew belong to DC comics, the gods Spiegel and Schuster and all that jazz. Just borrowing them and will put them back into the toy chest when I'm done.

Notes: Part of The Little Things series although you don't need to read the previous stories to get this one. Again, I am taking the canon ENTIRELY from the new movie so I'm ignoring the rest, mmmkay?

Warnings: Huge spoilers for the movie Superman Returns – consider yourselves warned.

Richard White has always felt a sense of disquiet and uneasiness around Clark Kent.

It's not that Kent has done or said anything that should have tripped off his inner alarms. Kent is almost too good to be true at times – mild-mannered, sweet-natured, unassuming, all born and bred Kansas farmboy.

It's funny that despite the fact that one can almost never find Clark Kent, one could always depend upon finding his work done. In fact, his pieces for the paper are an editor's dream - his prose snappy and precise, his sources impeccable. No wonder Uncle Perry wants Kent partnered with Lois so often – he balances her out, provides a restraint to her headstrong drive while she brings him out a little more out of his shell.

In a way, Kent reminds him of Jason at times, often overlooked, underestimated even invisible at times, in the way kids are. It's always up to Richard to make sure that the little guy doesn't get swept up by all the messy adult matters no child should ever be concerned with. Lois loves their son dearly and she makes sure that she is never too busy to take time out for hugs and kisses but still Richard is Jason's father and he takes pride in the fact that while he may be unable to lift sinking ships out of the water, he can protect his boy from the little ordinary human things the best way he can.

Richard has a vision of Jason all grown up – tall and large of frame, uncomfortable in his own skin, bright blue eyes shining behind thick-rimmed glasses, just like Clark Kent and he is startled to find a certain ache in his heart at that mental image. He knows that Jason will never be like what he was a boy – sturdy, strong and good at sports - but he is a loving father and he will never, ever be disappointed in his son for not being his father's virtual clone. That Jason is alive and happy is quite enough and Richard will never forget how close he came to losing both him and Lois on the wreck of the Gertrude.

Perhaps Richard's disquiet stems from the fact that Clark Kent does bear a resemblance to a certain Man of Steel and that his arrival at the Daily Planet at the same time Superman returned to Metropolis could be taken as more than mere coincidence. He and Lois have made jokes about it, comparing Kent's height, build and features to the superhero, only to be off-put by that goofy, farmboy manner.

And then combined with both Clark Kent's and Superman's obvious love for Lois…

Richard is not blind, he's aware that Clark Kent regards his fiancée with something more than just a friend's regard. He is not comforted by the fact that Kent has never, in word or deed, made any untoward advance towards Lois and that it's more than likely that Kent never would take it that far. It only drives home the point all the more that Clark Kent is a good man, a decent man. Richard knows he can't compete with a virtual god and he doesn't even try while with Kent, the playing field is leveled between them. However, the painful truth is that he, Clark Kent and Superman are all of one mind when it comes to Lois – to respect her choices and her decisions, to want her happiness above all things.

Lately, Lois has been a little more distant, restless and troubled and she tries to make it up to him by being more affectionate, more considerate. That only makes Richard feel that she is in fact, trying to make it up to him for something, only he doesn't know, or perhaps the words should be doesn't want to know what it is.

Richard has never been content with second-best.

With an effort, Richard pulls himself out of his brood and looks around for his son. Jason has been a comfort to him in more ways than one. While Jason too, like the rest of the world, has again fallen in love with Superman, he still thinks that Daddy is the best Daddy in the whole wide world and being lumped right beside the superhero in the pantheon of who Jason wants to be when he's all "growed-up" does a good job of taking away part of the ache that Richard feels. He spares a glance at Jason's artistic creation, that of him and Superman side by side and finds himself smiling.

Then, Richard finally gets himself up from his desk and looks around for his wayward son. Lois has gone out of the office to check up on a lead and that means Jason will only be found at one other place – Clark Kent's desk. Funny how the little boy has taken a shine to Kent as well, deciding all by his little self to take "Mister Clark" under his wing. And Kent seems to openly welcome Jason's company, although there is a certain wistfulness in his expression that prevents Richard from telling him the obvious – that he should think about having a little one of his own soon and that he would make an excellent father. Somehow, Richard just knows that those words would hurt too much.

And then, as Richard spots his son in his usual place at Kent's desk, he stops cold at the scene right before his eyes.

Jason is on Kent's lap, chattering happily away and cleaning those bulky glasses for him on a corner of his t-shirt. Richard takes in the entire scene, of the seemingly incongruous figure of Superman in Clark Kent's conservative business suit and the sudden, startling resemblance between him and Jason - the same untidy dark hair, the same nose, the same eyes, the same chin and the same wide, goofy smile. And all Richard's half-formed and unacknowledged suspicions and feelings finally falling into place.

But what really drives a sliver of ice into Richard's heart is how the other man is looking at the boy Richard has thought of as his son, with that open, unguarded look of love and tenderness on his face.


Author's End Notes: 'Stitch sits back and cackles evilly.