Rating: PG (K+)
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 wasn't sure why he was still nervous around this man. It had been a week since they had sat down and figured out how they were going to make this family work. Superman had visited twice since then, both at night right before Jason's bedtime. Twenty minutes to half an hour was all the time the man received with his son.
He barely spoke to Lois on those visits except a very impersonal greeting. Lois was always disappointed and angry when he did that. He didn't know what to tell her. He knew the two of them needed time to sit down and talk to each other about all of this. Just the two of them. Lois had mentioned that she had tried two days ago but he never came to her call. Superman was avoiding her.
"They should be here soon," he said to fill in the silence.
"I actually wanted to talk to you."
Richard raised an eyebrow. "Oh?" He watched as the hero fidget on the couch.
"It's about something you said last week." He ran a hand through his slick back hair. "It's hard to find time as Superman to visit my son. I can't come during the day, and there's never enough time to see him at night. I want more time. I want to be able to take him to the park or the zoo. I can't do that as Superman."
Superman allowed his head to drop to the back of the couch. "But I can't allow Lois to know my secret identity."
He lifted his head up and stared into Richard's eyes. "Has Lois talked to you about our relationship? Why I left?"
"No," Richard said with a hint of bitterness and jealously. "She won't talk about it, and frankly, I don't ask about it."
A small smile curved on his lips. That's actually how he felt when people talk about Lois and Richard's engagement and their great office romance. The smile disappeared as his thoughts went back to the demise of his relationship with Lois. "You heard about General Zod and the trouble he brought five years ago? I was with Lois during those days that Superman was missing. I brought her to the Fortress, and it was there that my father forced me to choose between my powers and having a life with Lois."
"And you chose your powers over Lois?"
"No." Anguish filled that one syllable. "I gladly gave up my powers to be with her." A haunted look creped over Superman's face. "I would do anything to make her happy."
"But you have your powers now."
Superman laugh bitterly at the confusion Richard was showing him. "Yes. I wasn't the man she fell in love with anymore. I was just an ordinary man who couldn't even protect her. I left her and went back to the Fortress to regain my powers and to defeat General Zod. But when I came back to Lois…" He scrubbed his face. "God, she was so torn up. She couldn't handle knowing who I was. She had to share me with the world and she didn't know how to do that. I couldn't stand to see Lois in pain--pain over me. So I took away all the painful memories of us. No more pain, no more indecisions. She was free to live her life as normal as it was before she discovered who I was."
He stood up and walked towards the fireplace. He picked up one of the pictures proudly being display on the mantle. The picture showed a happy family celebrating their son's first birthday. A huge number one candle was lit on the cake and waiting to be blown out.
"Lois doesn't remember anything."
Superman was pulled away from the picture, but he didn't turn around to answer the man. "No. Or I don't think so. She shouldn't be able to remember. I don't want her to remember. It's better that she feels the pain of my betrayal then the pain she felt five years ago."
Richard didn't know what to say. The man was a complete idiot if he thought Lois Lane couldn't handle the truth. The woman could handle many things. Sure, Lois may have felt overwhelm directly after learning Superman's secrets. Who wouldn't? But if he had allowed her time to get through it all, the two of them could have been together. And he wouldn't be here. Richard's heart skipped a beat at that thought. He would never have had the chance to love Lois Lane as he did. He wouldn't be Jason's father. He needed to pull away from these thoughts and back to the topic on hand: Superman's identity.
"Are you going to tell me who you really are?"
Superman stumbled slightly as he turned around to face him. "I--"
"Daddy!" A small blue streak flew into the room and headed straight to his father for a hug.
"Hey, munchkin," Richard greeted him. If he held on to the boy a little longer then normal, it wasn't because of his talk with Superman. Jason squirmed, forcing him to release the boy.
Jason turned to smile at Superman. "Superman, you're early! Are you going to have dinner with us?"
"Hello, Jason." He smiled down at the boy. "I was hoping your mother will allow me to take you flying before the sun goes down."
Jason's eyes widen. He ran back to his mother. "Can I? Please, mommy, can I?"
Lois reached down and moved his hair out of his face. "I don't know, munchkin. It's getting late."
"Let him," Richard said, stepping in. He gave a small nod to the grateful smile Superman aimed at him. "It might be awhile before Jason can get another chance."
Her eyes narrowed as she studied the two men. What had they been talking about before they arrived? A tug on her shirt had her glancing down. Bright blue eyes stared up at her pleading for her to agree. She sighed. "Alright. But," she said swinging her eyes back to the caped hero, "don't stay out too long. I want him back and cleaned up before dinner."
"Thank you, Lois."
Jason wrapped his arms around her waist. "Thank you, mommy!" The hug lasted only a second before he flew across the room towards Superman.
"No running in the house," Lois reminded her son.
He only stopped because he had reached his destination. He lifted his arms up to Superman so that he could be held.
Superman reached down awkwardly and drew him into his arms. Jason wrapped his arms around his neck. This was the first time he held his son. Superman wanted to savor it. Unfortunately, his son was of the opinion that they needed to move.
"Let's go," Jason said tugging on the red cape.
He smiled at him. "Let's go," he repeated softly.
S U P E R M A N
High heels clicked on the marble floor. A few heads turned to watch the tall woman walk by. Her long legs went on forever, and the shortness of her leopard print dress only reinforced the idea.
A catcall was followed by "Hey Cat!" The woman gave the man a wink and a quick wave. Catherine "Cat" Grant, the Daily Planet's society columnist, was back from her three week vacation. And it felt great to be back, she thought. She scanned the workroom noticing all the familiar faces. Jimmy Olsen was busy running around, probably on the orders of Perry White. Sharon Dunn was busy typing on her computer. Logan Adler was away from his desk, and if she cared to look, she knew she would find him over near the coffee machine.
"Well, hello there," she said as her eyes fell on a newcomer. Dark hair flopped down on the man's face as he leaned forward to scribble something down into a small notebook.
Lois Lane glanced up. Cat was staring at Clark. She could practically see the woman putting her claws into Clark Kent. There was no way she was going to allow the man-eater to have her way with the mild-manner reporter.
"Don't think about it," she told her.
"Who is he?"
"That's Clark Kent, and you are to stay away from him."
Cat grinned down at Lois. "So, that's the famous Clark Kent Jimmy keeps mentioning. Why didn't anyone mention how hot the man was?"
"Clark? Hot?" Lois snorted slightly. "He's a small town farm boy, Cat. Just stay away from him, okay?"
"Lois, honey, the man is well-traveled. He's spent the last five years traveling around the world. I'm sure he'll be able to handle anything I can dish out to him." And with those final words, Cat Grant walked towards her newest prey.
Lois sighed. She hoped Clark would be able to avoid Cat's sharp claws. She didn't have time to go and moderate the woman. She promised her sister, Lucy, that she would be at her house with Jason in ten minutes. It was going to take her about ten minutes to pick her son up from school and another five or so to get to Lucy's house. She quickly gathered her things and headed out. She briefly waved goodbye to Richard who was just coming out of his office.
Clark dropped his pencil on his desk and glanced up at the newcomer. He quickly stood up, knocking over his chair in the process.
"Uh, sorry," he muttered as he bent down and righted the chair. "I-I'm Clark Kent." He pushed up his glasses before sticking out his hand for a shake.
Cat found the man's nervousness cute. She smiled as she took his hand. "I'm Cat Grant. I write the society column, Cat's Corner."
"Yes, I know." She winked. "You're famous around here if you listen to Jimmy talk. The kid really idolizes you."
She had a problem resisting touching the men she spoke with, and Clark Kent was no different. She subconsciously reached out and grabbed his tie. The man's eyes widen at the gestured, informing her of her habit. Oh, well. She stepped closer to him, running her hands farther up his tie. "A lot must have changed since the last time you were here."
He nodded. "Yeah, lots of changes."
"Hmm. I'll gladly help show you the new sights around the city."
Clark tried to back away from her, but her hold on his tie forced him to stay put. "Uh…"
She grinned. "It's a date."
A bewildered expression covered his face. He started to shake his head. "Wha--?"
Cat released his tie and gave his chest a pat. "We're set up a time and date later. I need to inform Perry I'm back. Later, Clark."
Clark opened his mouth, but quickly shut it. What was he going to say? No? Cat Grant was just trying to be nice and it might hurt her feelings if he turned her down flat. Anyway, she was the first person who offered to help him familiarized himself with the new Metropolis. It might be helpful to take the woman up on her offer.
Clark glanced to his left. Richard was smiling at him. He smiled back. "Mr. White."
"Richard," he corrected. "Have you found a place, yet? A friend of mine mentioned that there's an opening in his building. I can get you the information if you're interested."
"Thanks," Clark said, shifting his body weight from foot to foot. "But I got a place. The previous owners were worried about another earthquake and decided to move out. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the apartment opened up."
"Good for you. Do you need any help moving in?"
"I'm fine," he started to say, but he closed his mouth before the words could form on his lips. This could be his chance to get Richard alone so they could talk. "Actually, I could use some help."
Richard glanced down at his watch. "Lois took Jason over to her sister's house. They're going to be there for another hour or so. I can only stay until then."
"Is now not a good time?"
Clark shook his head. "N-no. Now's good."
S U P E R M A N
Richard paused on the top of the landing to view Clark's new apartment. The apartment looked huge with its high ceiling and wide open spaces. None of the rooms were enclosed, although the apartment was split down the middle by a support beam that spouted two arches. Beyond the arches, he could see the edge of a bed. There were two large floor-to-ceiling windows--one to his left behind the kitchen table, and another just beyond the arches and into the bedroom. It was a great apartment. Clark was lucky to have found it.
And Clark didn't need help moving in. There were only a few boxes sitting around, waiting to be unpacked.
Clark brushed passed him. At the bottom of the steps, he turned around to ask, "Do you want something to drink? I went shopping this morning. Coke? Juice? Water?"
"Water would be fine."
"Water it is."
Richard followed him half way to the kitchen. He paused in front of the TV near the support beam. There was a picture sitting on top of the TV. He picked it up to get a closer look at it. It was a picture of Jason sitting on top of Clark's shoulders with the Daily Planet as a background.
"Jimmy took that," Clark said coming up behind him with two glasses of water.
Richard took the offered glass from him. "So," he said after taking a sip. "Why did you really bring me here? It doesn't look like you need any help moving in."
He watched the reporter straighten from his slouch. The meek and mild-manner expression was wiped off his face being replaced with a strong and confident look. He looked like a completely different person. Clark reached up to his glasses; and in a flash, Richard painted a red and blue suit on the man. The glasses came off and he tucked them into his coat pocket. Richard stared into his unearthly blue eyes--Superman's eyes. Superman stood in front of him wearing Clark Kent's clothing.
"Yes, I'm Superman," a deeper voice came out of Clark's mouth, yet it was a softer voice then the one Superman used. Upon closer inspection, he noticed the man in front of him stood slightly different then both Clark Kent and Superman. It was more of a mix of both of those characters. Clark Kent slouched, Superman stood straight and narrow while this man held a more relax pose.
Richard found the leather armchair and sat down heavily. Clark was Superman. Superman was Clark Kent. Superman was Jason's father, Clark was Jason's father. It was all a little hard to take in.
"The story you told me--about making the woman you love, Lois, forget you--you literally meant that, didn't you? Lois doesn't remember being with Superman--you--except for a few flashes in her dreams." He angrily ran his hand through his hair. "Did she know who you were when you slept with her? Did she? Or did you take advantage of her, knowing she had feelings for Superman?"
Clark frowned. "She knew who I was when we made love. I would never take advantage of Lois. Never. I would never hurt her like that."
Richard stood up. He never expected this. Yes, he always suspected that Superman had a secret identity. If he ever met that man, he thought he wouldn't be friends with him. He thought he was only going to be able tolerate the man, see him only a few times when he came to see Jason. He wasn't prepared for this situation, being so close to the man who had a large hold on his family. Clark Kent had made a place for himself into his family's lives already. Jason adored Clark and worshipped Superman. Lois and Clark used to make a great team, and Perry was hoping to set the two of them together soon for an assignment. Clark was already heavily involved with this family without the add bonus of being Superman and Jason's biological father.
He always thought Superman was out of reach for Lois. But now… Now Superman was in her reach as Clark Kent. She could make a life with Superman. Superman could become the best father in the world. Clark could easily step in a take everything he had worked so hard to make for himself and Lois. Clark and Superman could push him out of his family and make it his own. He wouldn't be needed anymore.
"Why are you telling me this?" Richard demanded harshly. This was one secret he wished he had no knowledge of. He kept imagining Clark taking over his life and family. As Superman, Richard never felt threaten by him; but as Clark Kent, he was very threaten by the hero.
Clark perched himself on the arm of the couch. He crossed his arms and his legs. "I love Jason. I want to spend more time with him. Superman can't do that, but Clark can. I need your help to do that."
"Why can't you just tell Lois yourself?"
"I told you two days ago. Lois can't know. It'll cause her more pain to know the truth. It's better to leave Superman and Clark Kent separate for her." Clark searched Richard's face. "I know it's not an easy secret to keep, and I understand if you don't want to help me. But Jason is as much of my son as he is yours. I want to know him better, to understand him better. I want him to know I love him, and that I'll always be there for him. And Jason needs me in his life. He'll receive abilities that only I could help him with. I know exactly how he'll feel when he develops his abilities, and unlike me, he doesn't have to go through this alone."
All of the raging fire blew out inside of Richard. Clark was not going to take Lois from him. All the man wanted was to be a bigger part of his son's life and nothing else. He already given up the fight for Lois, and felt he couldn't (or shouldn't) try to get her back. This was all about Jason. He sighed. He needed to let go of his insecurities and focus on Jason.
"I'll help you."
Clark smiled. "Thank you."
"Tomorrow's Saturday. We were planning to bring Jason to the Planet for a few hours before dropping him over at his Aunt Lucy's house for lunch. Would you want to watch him until two o'clock? Lois should be through with her interview by then and can take him home so she could work on the article there."
"It wouldn't be interrupting your work?"
Clark shook his head. "No. It doesn't take me long to type things up." He used his hands to demonstrate typing. "Super speed comes in handy."
Richard smiled. "I bet it does." He leaned closer to the superhero. "So, about that x-ray vision…"
To be continued in "Keeping Secrets" (the sequel).