Title: Playing with a Stacked Deck

Summary: When Superman re-enters her life, Lois is forced to choose between the only two men she's ever loved. Complicating her decision, however, is that despite Superman's attempts to make her forget, she remembers who Clark Kent really is. While, for Jason's sake, she is able to make peace with Superman, she finds herself unable to contain her hurt and anger while he's masquerading as Clark. Who is she going to choose? Post SR. References to SII and Smallville.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. This is just for fun.

Chapter 1: The Decision

Lois stood out on her back porch, feeling the warm summer breeze blow through her hair. Richard's seaplane bobbed slightly to the rhythm of the waves. She closed her eyes. Her life had become insanely more complicated since Superman returned only two weeks ago. She had long ago convinced herself that she would never see him again. The fury of those days had consumed her, and she poured every ounce of it into her Pulitzer Prize-winning article, "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." Even thinking about it now the anger threatened to well up inside her, but she pushed it aside. On a certain level, she understood his reason for leaving. He wanted to see Krypton, his real home, and discover if there was anyone else left alive like him in the universe.

It didn't make her feel any better. Because when it came right down to it, he had abandoned her. Not even a word, goodbye. What was so hard about saying goodbye? Thinking about it now she's not sure what she would have said to him. Would she have let him go? Or maybe asked to come along? The logistics didn't matter, only the option to make a choice, and he had stripped her of the right to do so.

Now her life was a mess. In the early weeks following his disappearance, she adamantly refused to believe that he had left her. Then weeks morphed into months, and she knew in her heart that he had left for good. So riddled with anger, she didn't notice the changes in her body. How she often felt weak and tired, how her energy level would short circuit by mid afternoon. That's when she realized that she had a bigger problem. She was pregnant.

Now her anger was replaced with a gamut of fears. Would the child survive? Or would the pregnancy kill her? Would her doctor discover an anomaly and put two and two together? Would the whole world see through her? No one knew the extent of her relationship with Superman, and in that ignorance they made a lot of assumptions. Correct assumptions. Such as, did she sleep with him? Would the world believe that she was carrying his child? What would they do to her child, or herself for that matter, if they did? She was overwhelmed with the new responsibility, to protect his secret that had now become hers, and it terrified her. Yes, for the first time in her life, Lois Lane was petrified.

She knew she couldn't let anyone discover the truth. Like Superman, she now needed a disguise of her own. One that no one, not even those closest to her, would be able to see through. When she met Richard, she never had any intention of dating him. But then one evening he asked her to dinner. His dedication and devotion instantly enamored her, and she was amazed how much he was like the man she loved.

At first she only appreciated his company. He was someone to talk to, get her mind off her loneliness and anger. He made her laugh when the pain in her heart and body manifested themselves into cruel words. Her diatribes were responded to with kindness and patience. She couldn't deny that his mannerisms, behavior, even his appearance, reminded her so much of what she had lost, and made her feel just a miniscule less lonely. When she realized that he was falling for her, she knew she couldn't deceive him, or allow him get close without knowing the truth. So on their third date, risking him turning away, she confessed to him that she was three months pregnant.

Of course she didn't tell him who the father was. She concocted a story about how she had been deeply in love with a man who had one day up and left her, without saying why or if he'd be back. And that the man never knew that he was going to be a father. Her story, she reasoned, was devoid of all lies but one, a lie of omission.

Then Richard saved her from asking the impossible. Would he be willing to raise her child as his own? Through the months of her pregnancy he was there for her in every fashion, never asking for more than she was ready to give. His words comforted her even in moments when her body writhed in agony. She wondered how this man could see goodness in a heart shattered in so many pieces. And when Jason was born he was there by her side, ready to love the both of them. Everyone just assumed that Richard was the father, and soon her lie wasn't a lie anymore. Richard was her son's father in every way that mattered.

It was a few months after Jason was born that they first made love. His body brought back passionate memories, and his touch was achingly familiar. But at the same time, she felt a sense of serenity. She understood him, through and through. She realized, afterwards, as she lay with him, that for all the time she spent with Superman, for all the memories of love and wanting, she didn't really know him. But she could know Richard. And she could learn to love him. Only one deep, powerful secret stood between them, and she vowed at that moment it would stay hidden forever.

But forever came sooner than she had ever predicted. She knew she had to tell Richard the truth, the whole truth. Her son, Jason, was over at his Uncle Perry's and wouldn't return for another hour. She needed to keep her confession from him, at least for the immediate future.

Richard's car pulled in the driveway, and she listened quietly to the sound of gravel crunching beneath the tires. She went inside the house and sat down at the kitchen table, pulled a cigarette from her purse and lit it. Her fingers trembled slightly as she pulled it away from her mouth, waiting for the nicotine to calm her nerves long enough to get through the next twenty minutes.

She heard the car door slam and the sound of footsteps along the driveway and up the wooden stairs. Thud. Thud. Thud. Each step ignited like a firecracker in her mind, an omen to heed, asking her not to destroy the perfect life she had spent the last five years constructing. The front door opened and Richard froze in the doorway, shocked at the sight before him. Lois exhaled a puff of smoke, calming her shaking hands. She composed herself, summoning the inner strength that had made her such a dynamite reporter. Richard moved quickly and knelt beside her, placing his right hand on her cheek. Tears formed in her eyes, but she willed none of them to fall.

Richard put his other hand on her shoulder and asked her what was wrong.

It was a few moments before Lois could speak, but somehow her lips managed to form the words. "Richard, there's something I need to tell you."