Note: Written for: Iseult Variante in the Yuletide 2006 Challenge. Pinch hit in a fandom I'd never considered before, but the prompt just gave me ideas. 🙂 Many thanks to Alanna for the beta!

He wasn't quite sure how he'd ended up in this position.

The story with him and Lois had of course started years ago, ended rather abruptly when he left for Krypton, and taken a slightly bizarre turn after he came back. He hadn't even been sure he'd be able to have children with a human woman, but the little boy was the living, breathing, and maybe soon flying, proof that he really was human, underneath everything else. It made him wonder how things might have turned out if he'd given Lois the chance to get to know him as Clark. It had always irked him, the onesidedness of his relationship with Lois, but, superpowers aside, he seemed helpless when it came to her and the look of utter worship and adoration in her eyes when she looked at Superman. Which was of course how their child had come into existence - and how it was possible that he let Lois kiss him again, when he confronted her about Jason. On the contrary, he kissed her back and felt them start to float again, the way it always happened with them - she seemed to make him lose the ground beneath his feet.

He kissed her back and did not remind her of Richard.

Neither did he remind Richard of Lois - and that was a completely different can of worms, because the story with him and Richard was new, and not something he had ever expected. But Richard wasÉ Richard. A good man, and someone who really deserved better than a woman with another man's son and another man's name in her heart, albeit not in her life - or her planet. Until he came back and was both again, almost by default. He had felt sorry for Richard, and guilty for being part of the reason why he worked late so many nights, staying as long as Lois did, trying not to let anyone see that he'd much rather be at home with his fiancŽe, but that she quite obviously preferred the office. At least that was something he had no influence over - Lois had always been a workaholic. Still, she also spent too much time on the terrace, her eyes scanning the sky, and he couldn't help but drop by every now and then. She was Lois, after all.

To make up for all of this, he had offered Richard a smile in passing, had started small conversations over coffee, and been surprised when his smiles turned genuine and the small talk into discussions about everything and nothing. Soon they sought each other out, made time together, and he discovered that he could work almost as well with Richard as with Lois - but that Richard also seemed to enjoy Clark's company outside their jobs. It was much too easy to become friends with Richard, and almost as easy to notice how Richard's face lit up when he smiled, really smiled, something that had become much too rare lately.

Kissing Richard had been easy, too, although Richard had appeared almost as surprised as he had felt, despite being the one to initiate the kiss, one evening after they had watched the sun set over the ocean and Richard had looked open and soft, and impossible to resist. However, surprise had faded very quickly, and Richard's breathless "ClarkÉ" had been the only word spoken before hesitant exploration had turned into something fiercer, something deeper, and his grip on Richard was almost too hard. There was something about Richard that grounded him, kept him anchored to this planet that he loved so much.

The original plan had been to find a time to tell Lois about who he was, maybe get her to look at Clark the way she looked at Superman, become a family - admittedly one with secrets, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. However, lately, after Richard's kisses and Richard taking him fishing with Jason, a perfect afternoon of companionship and feeling so utterly right and almost normal, he had come to feel rather ambivalent about going through with it.

Floating over the Earth, he experienced something rather new to him - doubt and insecurity about what the right course of action was. His emotional compass seemed out of whack, torn between the two people in the house he was in orbit over, led by the desire to be close to them even when they didn't know it. Neither one of them would be able to accept both his sides, he felt quite sure. Lois loved Superman, almost worshipped him, completely separate from her family, but to her Clark was only a co-worker, someone she felt rather superior to. Richard had discovered something valuable in Clark, but to him Superman was a rival, an intruder that threatened his family.

The best course of action would be to extract himself from all three lives, Jason's included, leave them to find their way back together, become a true family. However, he found himself not only unwilling but unable to do so, because following through would only leave Richard in the same unfortunate position as before. Lois' eyes would still scan the skies for a red-and-blue figure, but Richard wouldn't have the comfort he had found in Clark. It would only end up hurting all three of them.

Unable to resist, he shot a glance into the house below him, catching sight of the three of them having dinner together. This sight reminded him why the other option he had considered was not acceptable either: Leaving Lois and asking Richard for a commitment to Clark. It would hurt him to do so, because she was Lois, but also because it would probably make it impossible to ever have a real relationship with his son. Still, Richard would be there, his solid presence, his warm touch, his calm smiles. But what about Jason? Jason loved Richard and knew nothing of his real father, and that might be a blessing, granting him the kind of carefree childhood Martha and Jonathan had given their little alien foundling. Giving up both Lois and Jason, and taking away the only family Jason had ever known, was not a solution.

Closing his eyes wearily, he came to realize that the whole situation made him feel more human than anything else ever had: He loved two people, with all his being, and was facing an impossible dilemma, one that he felt underequipped to deal with, despite all his powers. He didn't care for the sensation at all. But there he was, in the middle of it - hovering between the sky and the earth.

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