by Talya Firedancer

"What do you want for dinner?" Richard asks as they wait for the elevator.

Clark takes the question a step beyond intention, wistfully considering a table that includes Lois and Jason, then consigns it to oblivion with a shake of the head. Maybe some day, he thinks, but it's too soon for Richard and Lois, who are civil but still awkward, or for him and Lois, because she still smirks whenever she meets his eyes for more than a moment or two.

"You like spicy food?" Richard is asking, commanding his attention.

"Oh," Clark replies, "I like it just fine." They board the elevator, and Richard leans against him briefly, too conscious of propriety to start anything in the office place but a dozen different signals expressing the desire.

"What, you're not sure?" Richard prompts, raising his brows in mock astonishment. "Thai food, Mexican, Indian and curry..."

"Well," Clark says, giving the question some consideration. "I've never been sure if what I taste is the same as everyone else's understanding of what something tastes like."

There is a brief beat of silence, then Richard says, "Because you're not human?"

A nod.

Richard hooks a companionable arm through his. "I think you're human enough, Mr. Kent," he says.

Clark simply looks at him, conveying the question with a quirk of his mouth.

"There's Jason," is all Richard says, and the doors open and Clark is being drawn along across the lobby, onto the street sidewalk, through the press of people all around him. Through the beat of it all is the steady pulse of the heart that reminds him just because he can hear it all doesn't mean he is not a part of it.