Fandom: Superman Returns
Word Count: 3,785 words
Summary: When Clark agrees to babysit Jason, he finally gets some bonding time with his son - and a whole lot more.
Notes: Written for aldebaran8423 for help_japan. She asked to see the events described in Déjà Vu, Chapter 22 from Clark’s point of view. It actually covers what was going on with Clark and Jason from the end of chapter 19 through chapter 20. However, knowing the original story is not required.
Jason stood in the open doorway, his parents flanking him. Clark gave everyone his best goofy Kent wave. Never before had it seemed so hard to keep up a cheerful façade. But the smile that grew once he lowered his gaze to Jason wasn’t faked at all.
Richard stepped closer to clap Clark on the shoulder and give him a handshake. “Thanks, buddy. I appreciate you doing this on such short notice.”
“Sure, it’s no problem at all.” In fact, Clark had hardly dreamed that he would be able to spend an entire evening of uninterrupted time with his biological son. He just wished it were under different circumstances. “But I—I’m sure Jason and I can find something to do.”
Jason, who had been bouncing on his toes, giggled with excitement.
Lois, who hadn’t spoken yet, responded, “I’m sure you can.” She gave Clark a significant glance. He nodded ever so slightly – and inwardly relaxed. Lois may not have known Clark was going to be the babysitter during her date with Richard, but she was obviously going to roll with it.
“Are you sure it’s all right for him to stay overnight with you?” Richard added.
Lois looked between Clark and Richard sharply and arched an eyebrow in surprise.
Clark pretended he hadn’t noticed her reaction. “Yes, it’s fine,” Clark assured him. It was more than fine. He wanted to make the most of these moments while he had the chance.
Jason simply beamed, and hitched his backpack on his shoulder in preparation to leave. Lois shook her head slightly, disapprovingly, but she stayed silent. Richard had wanted his evening with Lois to be a surprise. He’d asked Clark to keep it a secret, never knowing of Clark’s feelings for Lois.
Since Lois had rediscovered his secret, Clark had tried to respect her feelings for Richard and stay out of the way. But Clark had almost kissed Lois this afternoon. He had to make it up to Richard in some way, even if the other man would never know all the layers behind his offer of babysitting.
Lois knelt down beside Jason. “Have fun with Mister Clark, and be good, okay?” At Jason’s nod she turned to look up at Richard. “Does he have everything? His medication, his inhaler, two changes of clothes…?”
“Yes, Mommy,” Richard replied indulgently. “But before I forget, Clark, we need to get your home phone number and address. I’ll go get a notepad and a pen…”
As Richard slipped away toward the kitchen, Lois looked past Clark to see the waiting taxi. He could tell that she wanted to say something to him. Probably to remind him not to overstep his bounds, to remember that he was only the biological father of this beautiful boy, that she was going to marry the man who was actually raising him.
All of this flew over Jason’s head, who was growing more impatient by the second. He really seemed anxious to go. And Clark wanted away from this reminder of his failed relationship with Lois so badly that super–speed wouldn’t be fast enough.
“Here you go, Clark,” Richard said, handing the paper and pen over. Clark quickly wrote his information down and handed it back.
Lois gave Jason a quick hug and kiss. “See you tomorrow, honey.”
“Okay, Mommy. Bye, Daddy.” He waved at his parents and started walking toward the taxi. Clark followed him quickly.
“Bye, sport. We’ll be over to pick you up for school in the morning, okay?”
Clark held open the rear door to let Jason crawl in. “Okay,” Jason called back. Clark slipped in beside him and shut the door.
“Where to next?” the cab driver asked.
“Back to Metropolis Towers, please.” The car pulled away from the curb.
Before the car had even turned the corner, Clark picked up Lois’ soft laugh and whisper with his enhanced hearing. “Make the most of it, Super–Dad.”
Believe me, Lois, I will. He turned to Jason with a bright smile. “So. What would you like to do tonight?”
“I dunno,” Jason said. “What do you like to do?”
“Me?” Clark was surprised that he wanted to know. Most kids his age rarely thought beyond themselves. “Oh, I’m just a boring old guy. I usually read a book, watch the news…”
Jason just gave him an incredulous look. “You?”
Clark laughed, “Yes, me. After a long day at work, it’s my favorite activity.”
“Huh,” he said, sounding a little disappointed. “That’s what my parents do, too.”
“I’m not surprised. Being a reporter wears you out.”
Jason was back to being surprised. “Even you get worn out, Mister Clark?”
“Even me,” he answered, frowning. Of course, Clark’s body did not tire the same as a human’s body, but his mind and soul needed a rest after all the pain and suffering he was forced to witness during both of his jobs.
But why would that seem odd to Jason? Clark supposed that kids must think their parents boring compared to other adults.
Luckily, they didn’t dwell on that topic of conversation long. Soon Jason was telling Clark all about his favorite books, about the things he was learning about science (mostly on his own, through reading) and the new song he was learning to play on the piano. Time passed quickly, and the taxi was pulling up to Clark’s building. “Here we are,” Clark said, gesturing out the window.
“Here?” Jason asked, puzzled.
“Yes,” Clark said. “It’s no house on the river, but I have a great view from the balcony.” Clark paid the cab driver and grabbed Jason’s things from the backseat.
For a few moments, Jason stood on the sidewalk, looking up at the high–rise apartment building. “Do you live on the top floor?”
“The penthouse? Oh, no. I don’t make that much money.”
“But pretty high, I bet.”
“The twenty–second floor.”
Jason nodded as if he were satisfied. “Okay.”
He walked toward the entrance, nodding a good evening to one of the tenants as he passed. He had punched in his security code and was opening the door before he realized Jason hadn’t followed. “Are you coming?”
Jason frowned again, but came toward him. Clark wanted to ask him just what he was thinking. It couldn’t be the size of the building – the Daily Planet was far more impressive. Maybe he had just forgotten what kids were like – it had been a long time since he’d watched Mrs. Watson’s boys from church after all.
Even using the elevator earned Clark a strange look from Jason. When the doors closed, and it was just the two of them, Jason spoke again. “Why do you use the elevator?”
“Because it’s faster than the stairs. Your mom likes to use them, but I think it’s so she can save money at the gym–”
“No,” Jason interrupted. “Why don’t you…?” He made a whoosh–ing gesture with his hand. “Isn’t that a lot faster?”
Clark was stunned. Had Lois told him? Is that why she let Jason go so easily tonight? But surely she wouldn’t tell their son without discussing it with him? Maybe he was misreading the situation. “What do you mean…?” Clark imitated Jason’s whoosh–ing gesture.
Jason took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “Are you Superman?”
Time seemed to slow, and without even thinking, he was reaching for the stop button on the elevator controls. The car came to a halt between floor fifteen and sixteen. “Whe–Where did you get that idea?” Clark stammered.
“You look exactly the same, just different glasses and different clothes,” he explained, growing more excited by the word. “But I don’t understand… why does everybody else think you’re just Clark? And Mommy told me Superman saved you – how can you save yourself?”
Clark closed his eyes. With absolutely no preconceptions, Jason had seen right through his work persona. Exhaling heavily, Clark opened his eyes and restarted the elevator. This was not the place to have such a momentous conversation. “Jason, let’s go to my apartment and get you settled. We can talk about this there.”
“Okay,” he said easily. Then he dropped his voice, “Don’t worry, Mister Clark. I know it’s a secret.”
Clark could only nod.
Once he and Jason were safely inside, Clark sat down on the sofa, patting the cushion beside him. The boy sat, bouncing lightly. “So…” Clark began.
“Are you Superman?”
Clark looked into Jason’s eyes deeply, searching for any sign, any reason to deny it. But the ties of blood, his hopes for a true father–son relationship, pushed any thought of prevarication away. “Yes, I am.”
Jason smiled, clearly relieved to have the truth, and Clark had to admit he felt the same. Then Jason’s eyebrows drew down, and he asked, “Then why don’t you wear the Superman suit all the time?”
“Well…” How to answer this so that a five–year–old boy would understand? “Being Superman is sort of like… my other job. When I’m out saving people, I wear it. When I’m reporting the news, I don’t. Do you think that policemen wear their uniforms when they’re at home?”
“I guess… not.”
“People wouldn’t understand if I wore my Superman suit all the time. Different clothes for different jobs. Plus…” Clark leaned down and whispered the next part as if he were telling Jason a deep, dark secret, “…I really like being Mister Clark.”
Jason tilted his head. “Really?”
“Really. I like being Clark and having a more normal life. It’s how I grew up. Wearing the tights all the time would get old after a while.”
“Huh.” He pressed his lips together in thought. “I think I understand.”
“Jason.” Clark leaned in close and filled his voice with as much sincerity as he could muster. “You can’t tell anyone about who I am. There are dangerous people out there who would hurt the people I love if they knew.”
Jason’s eyes got wide. Clark could see the wheels turning in his mind. Was he remembering those terrible moments on Lex Luthor’s yacht?
Clark placed a light hand on his son’s arm. “You know, maybe better than anyone, what I mean.”
Clark hated that he had to place such a heavy burden on these small shoulders. This was the reason he had wanted to wait. But since Jason had figured it out on his own, the sooner Clark made the importance of the secret clear, the better. He had to admit that he was deeply proud of how smart Jason already seemed to be.
“Only a few people know – and they are the only people you can talk to about it. Other than you and me, my mother Martha knows…” Clark swallowed. “…and your mother knows.”
“My mommy knows?” Jason asked with astonishment. “But she never said…”
“Exactly.” Clark let that word rest in the air for a long minute. “You can never say it, either. Not to your friends, not to your teacher, not to…” This was hard to say – he tried to keep his emotions in check as he added, “…your dad.”
“Not even Daddy?”
Clark simply shook his head.
“Not e—” Clark stopped himself. If Lois would allow him to be involved in Jason’s life, if Richard would share the duties of fatherhood with him… he had to know the full truth. That was the only decent thing to do. “Not yet.”
“Okay.” Jason seemed to accept this, even if he didn’t like it. “I won’t tell anyone.”
“Thank you.” And now was the time to, as Lois had put it, ‘make the most of it.’ “Jason, it’s only fair to tell you – I know your secret, too.”
“That I’m really strong, like you?”
“Yes.” Would Jason ever stop surprising him?
“Mommy said you could help me. Can you?”
“I will help you as much as you need. I know how tough it is.” Clark took Jason’s hand in his own, squeezing it gently. ”When I was a little boy, I didn’t understand why I was different. Why I could do things no one else could. But my mom and dad told me I was special… and that they loved me very much.”
“Mommy told me the same thing.”
Clark’s heart felt ready to burst. How lucky he was that Lois was his child’s mother. “She’s right. You are special, Jason.”
My mom and dad did everything they could to help me, even thought they were regular human beings, like your mom.”
“But I have you, don’t I?”
“Yes,” Clark answered, tears springing to his eyes at last. “You’ll always have me.”
Jason threw his arms around Clark, squeezing him with all his half–Kryptonian might. Clark hugged him back, not worrying about crushing him, just letting the tears flow down his face and into Jason’s hair.
After several precious minutes, Jason released him. “When can we start?”
Clark laughed, thrilled at Jason’s enthusiasm. “There isn’t much we can do now, on a school night!” He had been thinking about this a lot lately, and he was nearly as excited, though it was tempered with fatherly worry. “Maybe in a couple weeks or so, we can go someplace out in the country and test your strength, practice controlling it.” That is, as long as I can get Lois on board with training him regularly.
He slumped, disappointed. “Is there anything we can do tonight?”
“Well...” Clark stood and moved to the kitchen. “I have been wanting to test a theory...” Jason followed him, and seated himself on a bar stool.
Clark took several items out of the pantry and refrigerator – peanut butter, wheat bread, eggs, chocolate milk – and whatever else Lois had listed on Jason’s DO NOT EAT list.
“Um...” Jason began.
“I know, I know. You can’t eat this stuff.” Clark spooned out a few dollops of peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat bread. “But what if you can?”
“I...” Jason made a face at the snack. “I got really sick last time I accidentally had nuts in a cookie.”
Clark calmly spread the peanut butter across the bread evenly. “Have you gotten sick from eating anything since the day on the yacht?”
Jason screwed up his face in thought. “I... don’t think so... but Mommy is really careful.”
“Then here.” He placed the slices on a small plate and slid it toward Jason. “Try this.”
Jason looked at it as if it would bite him.
“I promise you’ll be okay. But even if you’re not,” Clark prayed he was right about this but he was a careful man, “I can use my X–ray vision to monitor your reactions, I have your EpiPen, and I can move faster than a speeding bullet, remember?”
Jason reached out slowly and slid a slice of bread off the plate. Opening his mouth just a fraction, he nibbled the corner.
Pulse good, no swelling... “Try a little bit more,” Clark encouraged.
Jason opened his mouth a smidge further. He bit off a quarter–sized chunk.
Again, they waited.
Still, nothing, except a little gurgling in Jason’s stomach .
Jason took another bite without prompting, and it was larger. He began to smile as well. “Mmph, peanut butter is good,” he said, crumbs falling from the sides of his mouth. “But it sticks..!”
Clark clapped his hands in triumph. “Experiment one: a success!” Clark gestured across the food items on the counter. “What do you want to try next?”
“I dunno,” Jason said, mouth still full. “Ice cream?”
“Dessert before dinner?” Clark looked in his freezer. “Sorry, champ. I don’t have any.”
“But... what flavor would you like to try? Chocolate? Vanilla?”
“Rocky Road? My friend J.J. loves it.”
“Hang on.” With a rush of superspeed, Clark zipped to the local grocery store, snagged a pint, left some cash and a note beside one of the registers and was back in seconds. He bowed like a French waiter. “Voilà, one Rocky Road to order, Monsieur.”
Jason giggled. He took to the second experiment faster than before. They shared it between them and once started, the ice cream was devoured almost as fast as it had taken Clark to acquire it.
Jason nodded happily. “Hamburgers next!”
“You’re allergic to hamburgers?” Clark asked, disbelieving. He wondered if Jason was pulling a fast one on his babysitter.
“To the buns. And the mayonnaise.”
“Okay.” Clark zipped off to his favorite greasy spoon and was unwrapping a double with cheese moments later.
“Spaghetti! Chicken nuggets! Fritos!”
Most things went down with gusto. But after trying tempura shrimp, Jason looked ill. Clark immediately scanned him to see what was wrong. “Jason, spit it out. Are you okay?”
He wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. “Blech! That’s yucky.”
The counter was covered in so much takeout Clark could no longer see the tile pattern. “I... think that’s enough for the evening.”
“Aw... I always wanted to try pancakes. Blueberry pancakes.”
“And I make a mean stack. But let’s save some surprises for breakfast, okay?” Clark scanned the weather outside. There were storm clouds approaching from the west, but they wouldn’t arrive for at least a few more hours. “I have a better idea.” With a wink, Clark whirled into his Superman costume, striking a silly pose. “Would you like to go flying?”
Jason bounced off the stool and nearly into his arms. “Would I!”
Clark lifted Jason gently. “I’ve often carried your mom just like this. Hold on tight,” he said gently. “And don’t make a sound... yet. We don’t want anyone to notice us.” Then he slid open the sliding door to the balcony and lifted off.
Clark put as much distance as he could between the two of them and his apartment. He was normally very careful about his comings and goings – either changing back to civilian clothes before entering the building, or coming and going faster than the human eye could detect. Tonight, he slowed down once they were well away from anyone who might see. He hoped that no one caught them on video – he supposed he could explain it away as a rescue flight for a lost child...
Jason’s expression of wonder helped him put his worries aside. “There she is,” Clark said as they rose high enough to see the whole city below them. “My Metropolis.”
“Wow,” Jason breathed. “It’s so pretty.”
“I agree. I like it even better up close.” Clark soared downward then, the wind whistling through their hair. He buzzed by radio towers and streaked up the sides of buildings gone dark for the night. He flew below the bridges and past the Daily Planet’s globe.
Jason was trying very hard to stay quiet – every once in a while, a squeal of delight would escape his lips, and he would cover his mouth apologetically.
“Let’s go somewhere where you can really let go, okay?”
Jason nodded happily.
With a burst of speed, Clark headed east and out to sea. It was still beautiful ahead of the storm, the moon lighting the waves as they crested with foam. They hovered above the water for a while, watching the ocean roll beneath them. Then Clark turned to his son. “Do you like roller coasters?”
“Yes! But Mom won’t let me ride the really tall ones, yet.”
“This is better than the tallest roller coaster.” When Jason looked worried, Clark added, “I won’t drop you, I promise. Besides, your mom will kill me if I let you fall.”
“Okay, let’s do it!”
Clark made an upwards arc, flying so high that the lights of Metropolis weren’t even pinpricks in the distance. Then without warning, he dropped straight down. Jason screamed, but not with terror, with excitement. Even Clark let out a “Woo hoo!” as he made a sharp turn upward, just above the water. Foam sprayed them both and Jason screeched with laughter. Clark found himself unable to keep from laughing just as hard.
“Again, again!” Jason pleaded, and he couldn’t say no. For every drop, twist, loop–de–loop and spin, Clark kept a close ear on Jason’s heartbeat, but other than a normal quickening of his pulse, everything was fine.
As much as he wanted to spend the whole night flying with Jason, Clark knew they had to get back. The storm would be here soon and Jason did have school in the morning, after all. “It’s almost bedtime...”
“I know, I’m having fun, too. But we can always do this again. Let’s take a quick detour through the hills and get back home.”
They dipped and dived around the tall conifers north of the city, and sailed through a few misty clouds before alighting back on the balcony. “Do I really have to go to bed now?” Jason asked.
Clark wanted to say, No, you can stay up as late as you want, every moment we spent together will never be enough to make up for the time I missed with you… But instead he said, “Yes, Mom’s orders. Besides, the quicker you fall asleep, the quicker breakfast will come. Remember? Scrambled eggs, French toast…”
“Yes. Any kind of pancakes you want!”
“Blueberry.” He nodded firmly. And then he tried to stifle a yawn, the huge meal and surge of adrenaline finally getting the better of his half-alien constitution.
“They’ll be ready as soon as you wake.” Clark ruffled Jason’s hair. Jason grimaced but didn’t complain. “Now, wash up and into your pajamas. The bed in the guest room’s already made up for you.”
With Jason finally in bed, Clark was alone with his thoughts. For a brief moment, he wondered how Richard and Lois’ evening was going… but he quickly put that aside. It wouldn’t do to dwell on what he could never have – his mother had taught him that, and she was the wisest person he knew.
Clark wouldn’t have traded this time with his son for anything. Honestly, tonight was the best night he’d had since returning to Earth a few months back. From his own bed, Clark turned and peeked through the wall. Jason was curled around the teddy bear left there for him, Clark’s own from his boyhood. He wondered if Jason might like to take it home. Clark let the image go, and focused on his son’s heartbeat to soothe himself to sleep…
Another heartbeat suddenly close by, so well known to him that it overpowered that sound completely, made him sit bolt-upright in bed. His vision targeted the front entrance; he could hardly believe what he saw. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper. “Lois?”
How could I not end it with a cliffie? ;) But this ending goes directly into Déjà Vu, Chapter 21, if you’re interested. ♥