Richard had never had the opportunity to meet Superman before the hero's sabbatical. Which was not to say he hadn't seen the red and blue blur fly through the air. You could never quite be sure what you'd seen... but you always knew it was Superman.

Which isn't to say he hasn't been in the thick of things, more then once. Making the Daily Planet internationally relevant occasionally meant more then crunching numbers in a corner office. News had a habit of following reporters... much as a more naive Richard might have thought the other way around. And it was usually news of the screaming, exploding, bullet ridden variety.

Superman, as often as not, arrived on the scene. But Richard was often rather low on the list of those in need of saving. A combination of Pluck and Luck, as Uncle Perry had proudly described him. Although, to himself, Richard wondered how much pluck really had to do with it. As quickly as he was on the scene, the man of tomorrow was gone again. Richard really couldn't claim to have ever seen more then a crimson flash of fabric.

Of course, there were the pictures. Iconic, memorable things. But newsprint really didn't do him justice. Even those few times The Planet had broke with tradition and run a few in color, you never really got a feel for the man.

Then, just as the world seemed to have found it's primary-colored savior, he was gone.

Richard met Superman on the most frightening day of his life. Terrorist, anarchist and civil unrest couldn't compare to the terror of not knowing where his son was, where his... where Lois was.

And then to find them, and to fail them. Pushing vainly against the weight of the ocean as the world sunk away. He wasn't fast enough, too late. Not strong enough...

And then, someone showed up who was.

The sinking stopped, reversed, and soon Richard could see the sky again through the pantry window. Then the door was ripped away, and Richard had his first introduction to the man of steel.

"Take my hand." He said. Richard wasn't quite sure what, if anything, he believed in. But he knew in that moment why so many found it so easy to believe in this costumed wonder. There seemed an aura of honesty about him, of calm assurance. You had to trust him, it wasn't even a choice.

So Richard didn't panic when, as he let go of the doomed ship, he sank for a moment beneath the water. It was only an instant, and then he was clasped with a grip strong, but not painful.

"Have you got them?" And he had. His heart clutched tightly to him, and his world hanging around his neck. But Lois was never heavy, and Jason had always had a strong grip. He had them, and Superman had him, and they were going to be ok.

As the broken half of the yacht fell away, Richard looked up at earths greatest hero, and realized something.

He had never meant the man, but he had seen those eyes before...

It wasn't long before the world noticed. Religious zealots aside, no one claimed to know the moment he left. The world didn't feel his absence so much as saw the effect. The planes crashed, the bullets hit home, the fires raged.

People looked to the sky.

But the sky was empty.

Richard White was just back from the far corners of wherever, and God but it was good to see the Metropolis skyline again. The world was in mourning, but the somber feeling couldn't quite reach Richard. Superman was missing, lost, gone... but he was home.

Then he met her.

He knew, some part of him knew, that their relationship was moving too rapidly. Unnaturally rapidly. The word 'Rebound' danced in the back of his mind, but he ignored it, and no one was uncouth enough to mention it to him directly. Although the gossip raged, heedless of his presence.

Jimmy Olsen was impossibly young. And it was with the care-free obliviousness of youth that he decided to impart what Richard was sure the photographer thought important information.

"She was His girl, you know." The boy waggled his eyebrows in comical suggestion.

Richard hadn't known. It's amazing what you miss, dodging bullets in third world countries. He wonders where he was when "I Spent the Night with Superman" went to print. He wondered, ideally, if he had skimmed over it and forgotten.

Cat Grant, the gossip columnist, worked overtime with story after story of the ways in which Lois had apparently 'persuaded' a reluctant source to give an interview. Richard made a point of avoiding Miss Grant.

Whispers chased around the office about the abrupt departure of her writing partner. Abrupt and unexplained, he didn't even give notice.

Richard loved her. He loved her and he didn't want this to be about quick and meaningless physical consolation. He wanted to be more then a warm body to help her forget. He tried to slow down, to slow her down.

Lois slows down for no one. In the same brutally honest fashion that she challenges dictators and senators and crime lords without blinking an eye, she made it very clear to Richard that he could keep up with her, or get lost.

In a few weeks, she became less demanding, their meetings less frantic. Anyone else would say the relationship had merely lost the magic, but even through the haze of his infatuation, Richard knew it hadn't been magic. He was just grateful that, when whatever drove her urgency had faded, Lois still seemed intent on making what they had last.

Lois didn't need him. She made that very clear. She did not need anyone. Although he occasionally proved useful.

"Your uncle is giving me hell about this article. Could you work some of your family magic?" That smile. The slightly strained, what would the world do without me smile.

"Again?" But he's smiling too. He couldn't help it, lovesick idiot that he was.

"Again." She quirks a perfectly shaped eyebrow. She doesn't need him... but it would be a particularly nice gesture on his part.

"Again." He had already agreed, before she'd even had to ask.

As the months went on, Richard was the first to notice. Suddenly, the timing of their early relationship made sense. The fact the baby wasn't his didn't sting half as much as the fact she thought she needed to lie to him. As though he wouldn't care if he didn't think he was the father.

Jason came too early even to pretend he was premature. Sweat soaking her face, Lois had looked up at him, sleeping miracle in her arms. "Our Baby." Her voice held only the appropriate motherly pride, but her eyes... her eyes had been more open, more vulnerable then he had ever seen the fearless Lois Lane.

They seemed to scream at him, plead with him. Believe me. Please believe me.

"You're a father, Richard." And even her voice seemed to strain.

She didn't need to plead. He knew. They may not share genetics, but Richard swore to himself that day, taking the precious bundle into his arms, that in ever other way... he would be a father. In every way but blood. In every way that mattered.

She smiled at him, relieved, and fell asleep.

He held Jason. Jason, his son. His baby boy. His Jason. He cradled the soft, still forming head, and waited for the softly sighing bundle to wake up.

Uncle Perry had stopped by. For once, the hardened bull pin veteran seemed to be at a loss for words. Jimmy came a little later, all shuffling feet and awkward sympathy in his eyes that Richard tried to smile away. There was no need to worry. He had Lois, and he had Jason, and they were going to be ok.

When Lois woke again, she was back to her usual self. All traces of the slightly uncertain girl gone. The ball busting career woman was already vying to be released when Jason leisurely yawned and creaked his weary little eyes open.

That was the first time Richard had seen those eyes.

He sits in his office, Lois's desk frame in his lap. It holds a picture of the three of them. Him, Lois and Jason. The glass is cracked. He's not sure why it bothers him... it probably just fell.

He's brooding. He knows. It's not healthy. Uncle Perry would probably have something to say about not paying him to have a family crisis. So much for the perks of nepotism.

Of course, he had wondered. Ideally, with no real importance attached to it. Jason's eyes were a type of blue at times both darker and brighter then he had ever seen before. Almost inhuman.

But then, as Jason grew into a child allergic to everything and afraid of the dark, Richard had merely laughed at his own silly notion. After all, no one even knew if humans and... whatever Superman was, were even compatible.

He stares harder at the picture.

But Jason's eyes still stare back, unchanged. Refusing to dull their otherworldly intensity, even to please his father.

His father. The clock moves too slowly. Two hours still until he can sweep Jason out of school and hold him tight, grateful to who knows for the fact that he still had his son, that no one had flown in and spirited him away.

Richard wonders if he could keep Jason home tomorrow. Call in to work, call the school. Please excuse my son's absence, I'm trying to spend as much with him as possible before Superman takes him away.

Jason has a right to know. Richard tells himself that's up to Lois. Richard tells himself that to avoid the fact that he's a fucking coward. He doesn't want Jason to know. What little kid wouldn't want Superman as a father? What mortal dad could compare? Richard has always known Jason would fly someday. He had hoped to be the one to teach him.

It seems such a silly idea now.

Outside his darkened office, Clark Kent is following Lois around like a puppy. In all the commotion of yesterday, everyone had simply forgotten about him. He had stumbled in this morning, none the worse for wear, complaining about having been trapped under an overturned hotdog kiosk.

Richard felt a little guilty no one had noticed their newest reporter missing. Clark seemed, if possible, even more awkward and accident prone then Jimmy. Richard felt the odd need to keep an eye on both of them.

Paternal instinct, his Uncle had declared it, in a voice so authoritative that it almost masked the fact that Uncle Perry had never been very good with children.

Clark is at his door now, fumbling with the handle in a seemingly epic struggle. Richard bites his lip to keep from laughing. He has to remind himself he doesn't know Clark that well yet, and it's a little early in their friendship to affectionately mock his lack of co-ordination.

Finally, the door is open, and Clark hasn't even smudged the glass. With an effort, Richard doesn't clap.

"Mr. White... I-I mean the other Mr. White, the chief... h-he wants to see you."

But Richard isn't listening. He's look at the enormous frames of Clark's glasses. Or rather, what those frames did an admirable job of obscuring. In the dark of the office, Clark's eyes almost seemed to glow.

Those eyes.

Richard had seen those eyes before.