Clark hasn't thought about how much he wants someone to touch him until after Richard's lips have seared him, and then they can't. Can't touch, that is - not around Jason, not in the house that still belongs to Lois, most not especially not at the Planet and he'd be driven to any reasonable alternative if he weren't so aware of Jason's heartbeat always within earshot of Richard's. Now he thinks of Richard's mouth and often.
He looks at Richard's hands on the steering wheel on the drive to work, and it's not much of a stretch to visualize those hands on him. He watches Richard's fingers, long and fine-boned, twirling pens at his desk or during meetings and he can still remember the imprint of those fingers at his nape, brushing over his stomach, closing over his hand as they reach for something in tandem. His eyes drift toward that wide, full mouth whether there's a wall between them or not and if something doesn't happen soon, Clark thinks, matters will soon reach critical mass.
He could handle it when there had been only nothing, for such a long time; now he goes about through the day with the press of Richard's lips in mind, and bumps into things unnecessarily. More than usual.
There is no blocking time in between dropping Jason at his school in the morning and stopping for drinks before work and the long haul, eight- to ten-hour days with Richard picking Jason up two thirds of the way through, then returning home. And all the while, their eyes lock and they haven't discussed how both of them are far too professional for backseats or rooftops or the handicapped stall of the lavatory and Clark tries not to think about it anyhow, because the first time calls for a bed. A big comfortable armchair bare minimum.
He pours his energy into the ten-part international feature articles that Richard conceived of and he has been working on, one every two days of fleshing out those postcards his mother sent to Jimmy during the five years he was gone. When Richard first pitched it to him the enthusiasm was contagious and he found himself saying 'yes' before he had even finished. He supplements his knowledge of far-off locales with spot visits in the evenings to brush up and sometimes comes back with stories better than Martha made up to begin with.
He's just glad Richard didn't pick the llama race.
As he settles down at his workstation after the second interruption of the day -- the first one a Brazilian mudslide, the second a tsunami in the Phillipines, and he filed copy on both -- he glances at the clock across the room. Richard is picking up Jason and they'd already planned to make an early night of it, barring crises, and Clark is wondering if just once they can't get a sitter for the night but how to plausibly slip in the suggestion is the thing of it.
"--who, Clark?" he hears from across the room, and Clark turns his head, looking through his monitor toward what he has heard Lois refer to often and disparagingly as 'the water-cooler club.'
"Are you sure? I mean, Clark just doesn't have that kinda vibe, you know?"
"Trust me, honey, I've been here longer than any of the kids here," says Agnes from Copy in her raspy, smoke-roughened voice. "And Clark has never been seen with a woman besides Lois and she hardly counts, you know what I'm saying?"
The four women laugh and Clark thinks regretfully that burning a hole through the water keg with his laser-vision is far too petty a use of his powers and it would only relocate their gossip, not quench it.
"Well, Richard's not gay," the red-lipsticked blonde Carrie argues, bringing a pen to her lips and holding it there as if it's a cigarette. "He was with Lois for five years, they have a kid..."
"He sure is coming in every day with Clark now," Amy from Lifestyle sniggers. "They're awfully, uh, tight now, if you know what I mean...now Clark gets moved to plum assignments in Richard White's section, and you think something's not going on?"
"Someone should ask Jimmy, he knows everything about his personal hero, Clark Kent..."
Clark stands up and knocks over his empty coffee cup. Oh, no. No, no. The last thing he wants is for the office pool to notice him, let alone do any sleuthing into his life...he turns around and Jason is there, hopping on his toes and holding his arms up as if he'll take flight. "Hey there, sport!" He scoops Jason up off the floor and into the air, clearing his head and settling the boy onto his shoulders while Jason whoops with delight.
"Yay, you're so strong, Mr. Clark!" Jason cheers, holding onto his hands. He's been asking for piggyback rides every time he sees him now, middle of the work-day or not.
Clark grins and turns again and Richard is there, jacket tucked under his arm, shaking his head a bit with that amazing smile turning up his mouth. "You'll spoil him," Richard informs him.
"I'm spoiling me," Clark replies. "You know he'll outgrow it some day."
Richard quirks his eyebrows. "Point," he concedes, grin widening. "Hey, little guy, think you could run over and ask Jimmy if he's got any workbooks for you? I'd like to talk to Mr. Clark."
"Sure," Jason says placidly, and Clark lifts the boy down with a twinge of reluctance.
"My office?" Richard says, casting a look over his shoulder as he begins to move that he probably doesn't realize is that alluring...or maybe he does, and Clark is following, part of him regretting that Perry had all the glass replaced after the temblors with more glass and not something nice and opaque.
"The water-cooler club has been saying some things," Clark begins uncomfortably once he has the door closed behind him, though he knows it would take hearing like his to eavesdrop.
Richard waves a dismissive hand. "Ignore 'em. Well, tune them out."
"Y-You've heard?" It shouldn't bother him that people are speculating about his private business; he's heard people gossip all the time, about everything under the sun, but it's never been about him before and there lies the crucial difference.
"They're always talking. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. It's just gossip," Richard says. "If we try to do anything about it, that just makes the rumors look true." He bends a rueful look on Clark.
"I see your point," Clark says with a frown, but he's not sure he does, after all. Even if it is true, if you hear something that isn't true, you try to do something about it, right? He casts a glance around, uncomfortably aware all of a sudden that the women are still clustered around the cooler and they're trying to peer into the office. "You, um, wanted to see me?"
Richard leans on the edge of his desk and folds his arms. "It's been a long couple of days, hmm?"
"Incredibly so," Clark sighs, dragging his gaze up again from Richard's hands to mouth to eyes. "I mean, uh, not that it's not great in other ways, and--"
"Relax, Clark," Richard says with a small laugh. "More than anything I know how it is to love spending time with Jason but want a break every now and then. So. I was thinking about getting a sitter tonight."
Clark perks. "Really? I was just--"
"Yeah, and then I think we should have our first real date. We've showed a lot of self-restraint this week." A smile tugs at Richard's mouth and it's a good thing he's said what he just did otherwise Clark would be seriously contemplating dragging Richard off to one of his changing spots and showing him just how much self-restraint he has. Lots.
"That sounds good," Clark says softly, and has to look away. It's that or fabricate an emergency of some kind to get him out of Richard's office. "Well, I should..."
"Yeah, I should let you get back to work, I want to see that copy on my desk well before the end of the day," Richard says more briskly, shifting to authoritative work mode. "I want to have it proofed and set up to print before we put the paper to bed." He's already turned for his desk by the time Clark reaches the door, hesitating with his hand on the knob.
"Richard...if I kiss you, you should probably know, next time we kiss I don't think I'm going to be able to stop."
He glances over his shoulder to gauge the effect of this bit of news.
Richard's head lifts, and a slow smile takes hold of his expression. "Well, Clark, I think you read my mind."
He adds just before Clark shuts the door behind him on the way out, "Why do you think I engaged the sitter?"