Spoilers: Superman Returns, Superman II (references to the movie)
Disclaimer: Not mine, unless you want to count all the Superman DVDs I own and the Superman action figure I got hanging in my car.
Richard closed down his computer. He glanced out of his office window into the now empty work room of the Daily Planet--or almost empty room. Clark Kent was still working at his desk. He stood up and stretched his tense muscles. No, he realized as he studied Kent, the man wasn't working. He was staring at something in his hands. From his view, it looked like it could be a photograph. Richard checked his pant's pocket for his keys before picking up his jacket and briefcase. He quietly locked up his office and made his way towards the newly returned reporter.
"Kent," he greeted the man, stopping several yards away from his desk. He carefully set his briefcase down at his feet.
Clark glanced up startled. He shoved the picture into his shirt pocket. "Richard."
"I didn't mean to scare you."
"You didn't. I thought you left with Lois."
Richard shook his head. "No, I still had a couple more things I had to work on." He leaned back on the desk behind him. He hadn't known this man for a long time, less then a month actually, but he had noticed Clark Kent hadn't been his usual self for the last couple weeks. He had made a comment to Lois, but she had been busy dealing with Superman's return to noticed if Kent was depressed. "I know we don't really know each other all that well, but if you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm here."
Confusion covered Clark's face. "What--what do you mean?"
"You seem depressed," he stated honestly. "I thought if you need to talk to someone about your problems, I'm willing to listen. You probably don't have that many friends around here, besides the ones you had worked with five years ago."
"I don't know."
Richard smiled. "Come on. It'll help. It's always better to get our problems off our chest sooner or later. My mother always told me that I'll feel better after talking to someone about my problems."
Clark smiled. "My mother says the same thing."
"See? You should listen to her advice. Maybe I can help."
Clark closed his eyes in defeat. He reached for his pencil to give his hands something to do while he talked. "I recently learned I'm a father."
He shook his head. "It happened five years ago right before I left on my journey. There were…certain circumstances forcing us to halt our future together."
"Did you love this woman?"
"Yes. And she loved me."
Clark studied the tip of his pencil. "I…told her to forget about me and move on with her life. I wanted her to happy, even if certain circumstances stood in our way and we couldn't be together."
Richard rubbed a hand through his hair as he saw where the story was heading. "And you helped her to forget you by going away."
Clark nodded. "She was part of the reason why I had to leave. I couldn't stand watching her and knowing that we couldn't be together."
"And when you came back, you saw this woman again?"
"Yes. She later told me that I fathered a son." Clark stared into Richard's eyes. "If I had known before I left, I never would have left her. I would have stood by her side and we could have tried harder to overcome the thing that was keeping us apart. I could be raising my son right now, teaching him everything I could. I would have been there for his first word, his first step, took him to school on his first day of school… I've missed so much from my son's life."
"I'm sorry, Clark."
"Don't be. I'm the only one to blame." Bitterness poisoned his words.
"Did this woman try to contact you at all?"
Clark gave a sad smile. "How could she? She didn't even know where I went."
"I'm sure you kept in contact with your mother. Surely she could have tried her."
"She never met my mother. I doubt she knew how to reach her."
"You missed the first four/five years of you son's life, but you still have a lot of years left to be this boy's father."
Clark shook his head. "He has a father. A good father. How could I interrupt the family they've made for themselves? He has two loving parents. He doesn't need me in his life."
"Clark, any boy would be happy to have you as a father. I've seen the way you interact with Jason. I'm sure there's a way for the four of you to exist as a family." Richard reached up to loosen his tie and unbutton the top two buttons of his shirt. "Did you know that I'm not Jason's biological father? I met Lois puking up her lunch on the top of the building--morning sickness," he explained. "She just thought it was something she ate. I noticed she was sick all week so I finally convinced her to go to the doctors. She refused to go, but I forced her in a cab with me and took her to the emergency room. The doctors were really thrilled with their test results. She wasn't dying from food poisoning as she had suspected," he said with a grin. "I helped her throughout her whole pregnancy." He glanced up at the ceiling. "Lois told me a little about the guy. She thought if the man knew, he would be in Jason's life--that he wouldn't abandon them.
"It's funny, Clark. Lois and I were discussing just last week what we would do if Jason's biological father shows up. Would we tell Jason? How would he fit this other man into our lives and in our family? Do you know what I told Lois?"
Clark shook his head. He stared intently at Richard, waiting for the man's answer. It was as if Richard's answers held the key to the secrets of the universe.
"I told Lois that if this man wanted to be involved in Jason's life, then he should. I will always be Jason's father. But there might be some things about Jason that only his biological father could help him with. The doctors believe that most of Jason's medical needs were inherited by his father. It would be really nice to know the man's medical history. Anyway, Jason would be a very lucky boy to have three parents who really love him and care about him. It might be hard on me to see Jason with this guy and even harder to hear him call this man 'daddy', but I'll survive. I'll do anything to keep that little boy happy and safe. I'm sure if the three of you got together and talk, you'll find a way to be a father to your son." Richard stared at him, a soft smile playing on his lips. "I'm positive that you'll find a way to fit into your son's life."
Clark dropped the pencil on his desk. It rolled slightly until it hit a stack of papers. "You would want Jason's biological father in your family's lives?"
Richard ran a hand through his hair. "It's not that I necessary want the man in my life, but he is and will always be a part of Lois and Jason's lives. I can't deny that. And I don't want to deny Jason the right to know his biological father. I know how it is not to know one of my parents. My parents divorced when I was little, couple years older then Jason. My dad gained full custody of me. In the beginning, I was allowed to see my mom at least once a week. Then my dad married another woman. She wanted nothing to do with my mom, and my visits to see my mom slowed down until eventually I wasn't allow to see her. We weren't even able to talk to each other on the phone. I resented both my stepmother and my father for denying me access to my mother. I even started to resent my mom because I didn't feel that she tried hard enough to see me. I rebelled against all of them. I was fifteen when my dad sent me to spend the summer with Uncle Perry. He helped to straighten me out. He offered to take me in, and my father said yes because he didn't know how to handle me. I only started to talk to my mother again about ten years ago, and to my father about eight years ago. I never want Jason to go through what I did. I don't want him to grow up hating me for denying him his real father."
Clark nodded. "Thank you."
He pushed off the desk and retrieved his briefcase. "You're welcome, Clark. Try everything to become a part of your son's life. Don't let him grow up thinking you never wanted to be a part of his life. I hated my mom for years because I thought she didn't care enough about me to try harder to stay in contact with me."
"I will," he forced out between the emotions blocking his throat. "Thanks, again."
"No problem. My office is always open." Richard took several steps away from the man before he smiled over his shoulder and said, "And go home, Kent. Get some sleep. You look like you need it."
Clark pushed up his glasses and he sat straighter in his chair. "I will as soon as I finish copying my notes to my computer."
Richard laughed as he walked away. He heard the same excuses from Lois to many times to know that the man would likely be at the office for several more hours doing research. He would go home several hours before the sun comes up and get three, maybe four, hours of sleep before coming back here to catch the early morning reporters and staff. He shook his head. He didn't know how Kent and Lois functioned with very little sleep and filled with caffeine.
He pressed the down button on the elevator. It was just his luck that he didn't have long to wait for the car to reach this level.
He reached out his hand to stop the doors from closing. Clark Kent stood in front of him, fiddling with his glasses.
"You won't tell Lois about this, will you?"
"Lois?" He frowned. "You don't want her to know about it?"
He shook his head. "I haven't even told my mom about him. I'm still trying to adjust to this new change." Clark smiled. "And you know Lois, always sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. I need time to come with terms with everything without someone trying to pry into it all."
Richard nodded. "Sure. I won't mention anything to Lois. But you might want to tell your mom soon. And when you're ready, both Lois and I could try to help you sort out your situation."
"Thanks. Goodnight, Richard."
"Night, Clark." Richard dropped his hand and the doors were finally allowed to close.
Author's Note: This is part one of three. Next up: Superman decides to act after listening to Richard, and talks to Lois and Richard about their situation.