Author's Note: This series is being written based on the prompts of the LiveJournal community fanfic100. So every subheading in these chapters will be a prompt from the challenge. There are 100 word prompts and the fics I write based on the prompts must be 100 words long. I'm going to attempt to write every chapter using a number of the prompts.

Now when I say AU of Superman Returns, I do mean AU. I will be changing things in the canon to fit my storyline, which is still in development, but the one thing I do know is that it will not be following the movie all that closely. I really want to take the chance to explore different potential stories in this timeline.

Hope that the formatting of this isn't too offputting, and if it is, please just let me know and I'll try to come up with something better. :)


001. Beginnings

He watched the light fade from the crystals, dimming the Fortress so gradually that it felt like night falling. Looking around, he seemed to be searching for something, maybe someone—but after making a revolution to take in the totality of his surroundings, he just sighed and looked skyward. The set of his shoulders was low, further accentuated by the skin-tight gray material that hugged his frame.

He flew from the fortress to a place of even greater solitude, barreling through the sky, no lingering to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of his surroundings.

Shutting himself into the place that would be his home for countless miles, he entered into hibernation with a slight frown marring his face.

It was a beginning, but it felt like an end.

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He nearly dropped the tower of file folders when his cell phone vibrated in his pocket.

"Shit," he said under his breath, dumping all the folders on his desk in exasperation, snapping open the phone perfunctorily when he saw who was calling. "Yes?"

"Richard. It's about time you got out of that dump."

Richard sighed. "I like it just fine here, Perry."

"You won't make any kind of name for yourself at that toilet paper factory they're trying to pass off as a newspaper."

"It's not like you've made me a better offer," Richard checked his watch, wondering whether he in for the full lecture today or the abbreviated version.

"Well, boy, consider today your lucky one, because I'm about to."

002. Middles

The dreams were fragmented, disjointed—images of his mother whacking the farm over with a wooden spoon, Lois yelling at the Earth to spin slower and let her catch up, Jimmy sitting atop a pile of newspapers like a king on his throne, his crown falling down his head.

His craft hurdled on, heedless of its passenger; it didn't hear or acknowledge his low whispers, his fitful tossing and turning.

Passing some of the most spectacular sights of the galaxy had to offer, mere flashes of color at speed, he slept.

He was suspended not only in time, but life.

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They were getting to the stage where they needed to "shape up or ship out," as Perry would say. Jason was going to be two years old next week and Richard's old apartment had just been signed out for a new lease. He hadn't lived there for a year but Lois had been adamant that he not sell the place.

She never used the word "insurance," but she didn't have to.

He looked at the ring, unable to see the difference between getting stuck and making a new beginning, because they looked exactly the same from where he was sitting.

003. Ends

He stared with an intensity that could burn through metal, turn water to vapor; there was a palpable hardness in his gaze, the very same that had sent thousands of criminals cowering to their knees before him. It demanded surrender.

Fixated on the vision before him with such determination and force of will, it was a surprise the jagged rocks didn't shudder beneath him. His eyes burned with the brightness and destruction of a nova birthing a star.

But even the strength of his gaze could not resurrect what was gone.

Now he knew what an ending really felt like.

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"We haven't set a date yet!" Lois stormed out of the room, slamming her glass down on the countertop and fleeing up the stairs.

Richard wanted to fill the awkward silence that pulled taut like a rubber band in the room, but he was stifled by the force of her reaction. He held up his a glass like he was making a toast, nodded, and walked quickly towards the back porch, aware that every eye in the room was on him.

The date, apparently, was the least of their problems. Looking upward, he stared right into the sun without blinking.

004. Insides

He closed his eyes, shutting out the interior of the craft from his vision. The walls, blank, left far too much room for him to remember, white space filling with the vision of his tragedy.

The craft began to move as it had been commanded to, launching down to the very second. Yet he ignored the mild command to hibernation, instead beating his fists against every available surface, using enough force to tear it open from the inside out.

And he'd thought being in here, away from the vast emptiness, would be easier.

But it was just as empty inside.

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Stars faded into being on the darkening dusk; Richard watched, impassive, let the sea breeze play over him, caressing chills from his exposed skin, soaking him with the faint undertone of salt and foam. The bedroom light above his head had snapped on hours ago.

"Daddy?" Jason's voice was small behind him.

Richard turned, ran swiftly to the backdoor, crouching in front of his three year old son, not even taking time to wonder how he could have opened the heavy glass door all on his own.

"Coming in?" Jason asked, eyes plaintive.

He smiled. "Of course, son. Of course."

005. Outsides

He stumbled, dazed, balance thrown off because he'd burst forth from the craft like a man freed from a life sentence.

His pupils shrunk into focus he saw the cornfields.

"Home?" He whispered hoarsely, stretching a hand forward, trembling.

Collapsing to his knees just as his mother came around the bend, he emitted a low growl that grew into a sonic boom; it forced her to put her hands over her ears until he had quieted and she could approach him.

She helped him walk to the house when he refused, in no uncertain terms, to get in the truck.

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He slid the door open and came up behind her, said nothing. It was colder up here on the balcony, lonelier.

"I'm sorry," she said, sounded for all the world like she was.

"I know."

Neither of them had to explain.

"It won't happen again." Her fingers fidgeted, wanting a cigarette.

He leaned against the railing, looked to the lights of the city. "You didn't have to say yes," he added; his voice was even but the undertones were fractured.

She nodded, too quick. "I know." Worried at a hangnail. "I wanted to."

Richard's thought was inexpressibly sad.

I know.