Somewhere in Tempus

By Anne P.

Summary: Tempus works to foil the "future perfect" world of Utopia, and for once it doesn't involve trying to kill Superman. The plan is more insidious than that, and it hinges on the next generation.

Thanks to Mark Graham, Sheila Kaminsky, Sarah Murray, Cindy Pike and rocci for their comments and suggestions. Thank you, especially, to Sandy McDermin, who spent a great deal of time editing and keeping me honest.


{Metropolis, 2015}

Late in the afternoon in a Metropolis high school classroom, a tenth-grade literature class was discussing the myth of Icarus. They had been learning about ancient Greek mythology for the past few weeks, and the topic appeared to the students to be a favorite of their instructor.

Mr. Chronos explained to his class that, during their escape from Minos, Icarus had been given wax wings by his father, Daedalus. However, he had ignored his father's warning and flew too close to the sun. His wings melted, and Icarus fell to his death. Chronos asked his class what moral they drew from the story. One student suggested that Icarus should have listened to his father, who had had more experience and probably knew better.

"Perhaps," Chronos simply and unenthusiastically replied. As soon as he saw Rose's hand go up, however, the teacher focused on her with an unusual intensity, "Yes, Rose, what is your theory?"

The young woman posited, "Well, I think that Icarus should have recognized his limitations."

"Very good," her teacher responded, but could go no further. As soon as he spoke, the bell rang, and the students arose and left. All except Rose.

Although he tried to appear as if his attention were focused elsewhere, Chronos kept his attention on Rose and hoped that she would remain. If only his plan did not take so long to execute. Patience was the only way to succeed, however. He had tried other methods, but he was always the one coming up short. "Oh well," he thought to himself, "No pain … no pain."

{Metropolis, 1998}

Lois had never been so nervous in her life. Well, except maybe for the day she was supposed to marry Clark and then got kidnapped by Lex, and Clark married a clone and … Well, it was a long story. But she just had to come out and say it. She thought she knew how he would react, but this was big — really big. These thoughts ran through her mind, as she brushed her dark hair, but she was interrupted by her husband coming out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around him. The sight of him never ceased to amaze her, and, as he walked to their closet to find a suit, she eyed him in the mirror. His muscular body was still somewhat damp from the shower, and his skin glistened.

As Clark chose a suit and turned, he noticed Lois' eyes on him. He said, as a coy smile crept up his face, "What are you looking at?"

"You, Mr. Kent. I'm looking at you."

"And do you like what you see," he asked, playing along.

If he was lucky, he could persuade Lois to be a little bit late for work. But she didn't need persuading. Not this morning. She had forgotten her anxiety over her news and, instead, focused on Clark. Despite the fact that it was he that was making her anxious, indirectly anyway, he also calmed her. And excited her. She walked past him and responded to his question without words. She strutted to the bathroom, stopped in the doorway and gave him a look that indicated only one thing — she wanted company. Without hesitation, Clark dropped the suit in his hand, followed her, and tugged at her robe. As it fell off of her sleek frame, Clark admired his wife for a brief moment, then threw off his towel and joined her in the shower.

As the hot water hit their bodies, they barely felt it. Even after two years of marriage, all that they felt was each other. They moved together, each in synch with the other, as it had been since the first time they made love, and each felt sorry for the others in the world who would never find the person they were meant to be with.

This thought stayed with Lois as she began to dress for work. She had to tell him. She braced herself and turned, but, before she could speak, she was interrupted by that familiar look on Clark's face. Someone was in trouble. He kissed Lois deeply, grateful for the perfect morning they had had, and said, "I love you."

Lois whispered, "I love you too, Superman."

With that to get him through whatever atrocity he faced, he zipped over to the closet, and, in a red and blue streak, he was gone.

Lois sighed. She was used to being interrupted by the crises that drew her husband away so often. Nonetheless, why did they always have to be interrupted at *the* most inopportune moments, she pondered. She hurriedly finished dressing and headed to the office. This morning, however, she made sure to grab a bagel before she left.

{Metropolis 2015}

"Mr. Chronos, I hope you don't mind my staying a little over to continue our discussions."

Chronos smiled. "Of course not, Rose. I'm always here to listen. You know how much I enjoy our chats." As he heard the words come out of his mouth, he realized how sickening the whole thing sounded.

Rose bubbled, "I really enjoyed the story of Icarus."

"I thought you would. In fact, I chose it with you in mind."

"You did?" The young woman was flattered.

"Yes, I did. Just like Icarus, I sense that you have certain abilities … powers, shall we say."

At the use of that word, Rose squirmed, but Chronos continued, aware of her every movement. "You said in class that Icarus should have recognized his limitations. But, what if Icarus hadn't had limitations?"

"I'm not following you, Mr. Chronos," Rose admitted with a quizzical look on her bright face.

Rose never admitted to anyone that she didn't understand anything, which was an inherited trait. With Mr. Chronos, however, it was different. She looked up to him and thought he was one of the most intelligent and sensitive people she had ever met.

With a learned tone in his voice, Chronos explained, "You see, Icarus failed to do what he wished because he had limitations, as you said. But what if he had had wings that weren't made of wax but were made of … steel, for instance?" The instructor raised one eyebrow slightly at the mention of that particular metal and continued, "Then Icarus' wings wouldn't have melted. Instead, he would have soared."

"I suppose he would have," Rose said with a nod.

"Don't you see, Rose, there is nothing wrong with doing things for yourself, so long as you have the ability to do them."

Rose pondered this for a brief moment. "Sure. But what about helping others?"

"Well, of course," Chronos said, thinking all the while that there was no hope if she continued to reason like this. He went on. "But, why shouldn't someone with abilities use them to her advantage?"

"No reason, I guess." Rose paused.

Over these several months, Rose had grown very attached to Mr. Chronos, but not in the way that school girls often admire their teachers. She didn't have a crush on him. Instead, she believed that he treated her as his equal, which meant more to her than she would ever let on to anyone but Mr. Chronos himself. He listened to her ideas. He read her stories. They discussed literature, philosophy, and life in general. He encouraged her to excel to her full potential. Or, so she thought.

Chronos drew her in further and asked, "Rose, do you ever feel that there are limitations put on you even though you know you can do something?"

Rose grew wide-eyed. "Yes! How did you know?"

Pretending as if he were extremely insightful, Chronos posited, "It's just something I sense in you. What is holding you back do you think?"

Rose thought for a moment. "My parents," she reluctantly stated, as if she were betraying them with her very words.

"What do they do that holds you back?"

"Well," Rose hesitated. "They know that I can do certain things, but they won't let me do them because they are afraid."

"What are they afraid of?"

Rose shifted. "People."

"People?" Chronos asked quizzically.

Rose was uneasy about going any further with the conversation, even with her beloved teacher. "Mr. Chronos, could we maybe talk about this some other time? I've got to get home."

"Of course, Rose. Just remember that people who have special abilities should not be held back. They need to soar. More importantly, use those abilities to go after the things you want … whatever they are."

Rose considered this. "Thanks. See you tomorrow."

Chronos smiled a knowing smile and said to himself, "Oh, you are quite welcome, my dear." Perhaps he really would change things this time.

{Metropolis 1998}

As Lois was entering the Daily Planet building, she felt a familiar presence rush up to her. "Hi, honey, just a fire. No one was hurt," Clark whispered. He looked at his watch and noted, "Good, we're not *too* late." They had purposely begun getting up a little early during the first year they were married, after several mornings of being *very* late to work. You never knew what was going to happen in the Lane/Kent household, even putting aside Clark's extra duties as Superman.

As they approached their desks, Lois asked, "Clark, can we have a quiet evening alone tonight?"

"I don't know, can we?" Clark replied.

But, Lois did not appreciate his flippant attitude, and she shot him a sharp look. "Not funny."

Clark knew something was out of the ordinary. "I'm sorry. Lois, what is it?" he responded, as he put his hand on her shoulder.

"There's something that we need to talk about," Lois said matter-of-factly.

Clark was bewildered. "Is there something wrong, Lois? Because I thought this morning …

Lois quickly interrupted and tried to explain, "No, no, no. There's nothing wrong. At least I don't think so."

Now he was really curious. "What is it?"

"It's something that we should discuss somewhere more private," she uttered nervously.

Clark put his hand on her lower back and suggested, "Well, let's go into a conference room."

"No, I want this to …," but, before she could finish, they were interrupted.

"Excuse me, Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, but I …" Lois and Clark both turned and gazed at the small, bespectacled man before them. Lois knew immediately who it was. "Mr. Wells," she said, touching his shoulder, pleased to see the gentle old man.

Clark shook Wells' hand. "Nice to see you again … I think. You're not here to interrupt our, um, marital relations again, are you?"

Wells smiled. "No, Mr. Kent, I'm not."

Realizing that he would not just stop by for a visit, however, Lois quickly inquired, "What's happened, Mr. Wells?"

Wells was cautious. "Perhaps we could talk more privately."

"Of course, right this way." Clark indicated the way to the conference room.

Somewhat abashedly, Wells explained, "No, Mr. Kent, I was hoping to talk to Lois alone for a few moments."

Taken aback, Clark said, "Sure."

Lois followed Wells toward the conference room and then turned back to look at Clark and shrugged her shoulders. She shut the conference room door, and Wells turned to face her.

"Ms. Lane, forgive the indelicacy of this question, but, are you expecting?"

In shock, Lois blurted out, "How did you know?"

"My dear, I have been to the future. I know when your first child was born, so I know that you are with child now. I just didn't know if you knew for certain yet."

"I found out yesterday." Realizing, however, that she hadn't revealed her news, she grabbed him and implored, "But, you can't say anything, Mr. Wells. I haven't gotten up the nerve to tell Clark yet." With some embarrassment, she added, "You see, we hadn't really planned this."

"I understand," he said with compassion, "but I'm going to have to ask you to trust me."

"I do trust you," Lois assured him.

He explained further, "You, of course remember our friend, Tempus?"

"Yes," Lois snorted.

"Well, Ms. Lane, you will recall that he was arrested for bank robbery."

"Uh, huh."

"But, he managed to escape several months ago. It took me this long to hear about it and find him."

Lois recollected that there was news of a breakout in the federal penitentiary upstate, but she didn't recall the details.

"Well, Tempus, as you know, has a kind of bizarre fascination with destroying Superman .

"What's he done now," Lois asked, clearly concerned but exasperated nonetheless.

"Well, he's traveled to the future, and he is attempting to influence your daughter."

"This baby is a girl," Lois replied instantly, as she touched herself just below her stomach and smiled.

"Yes." Wells smiled, as well, as he watched Lois becoming more enamored with the idea of being a mother.

"My dear," he continued, "I would like you and Clark to come with me to stop Tempus, or you and your family might be in danger."

"Of course, Mr. Wells. Let's go." Lois was always quick to react and started toward the door, but Wells gently touched her arm to stop her.

"Don't you think you should tell Clark about the baby? He will find out when we get to the future. He will simply do the math."

"But, Mr. Wells, I wanted to tell him when we were alone, at home. I wanted it to be sort of special," Lois said, attempting to find a way around this but, at the same time, knowing, by the look in Wells' eyes, that she couldn't. "Okay," she resigned herself. "But, do you mind if I tell Clark in private?"

"Of course not. I'll send him in."

Wells exited, and Clark came in soon thereafter. With concern on his face, he asked, "Lois, what's wrong?"

"Clark, please close the door."

"Oh, god, this is bad news, isn't it?" Clark questioned, closing the door as he spoke.

"Yes and no." She paused for a brief moment and then, in the only way she knew how to tell him, she just blurted out her news. "Clark, I'm pregnant."

For half a second, Clark was stunned, but, immediately thereafter, he rushed over to Lois, gently took her face in his hands and kissed her. She responded in kind, and, as their lips slowly came apart, they hugged each other with all of the depth of feeling an embrace can express.

Clark spoke first. "Lois, honey, thank you."

"You mean you're okay with this? I mean, I knew you wanted kids, but …"

As their eyes met, Clark interrupted, "Okay? I'm thrilled. I know we didn't plan this, but I'd love any baby we made." He smiled as he said this and brought his forehead to touch Lois'.

"Oh, Clark, you don't know how relieved I am," and she hugged him again.

He held her close, then picked her up and gazed into her eyes.

Wells watched this scene through the glass door to the conference room. To see these two young people who cared so much for each other warmed his heart. He only hoped that they could stop Tempus from his assuredly evil vendetta, but he just couldn't bring himself to interrupt them. They, at least, deserved this time alone to enjoy the moment.

Aloft in Clark's arms, Lois suddenly remembered why she had to tell Clark her news at this moment. "Oh, Clark, we've got to get going?"

"Where, sweetheart?" Clark asked gently, still basking in the idea of fatherhood, as he softly set her down.

"To the future. Our daughter is in trouble."

"Our daughter?"

Lois grinned, touched her stomach and looked at Clark. He covered her hand with his, however, there was some urgency in the situation. "Tempus is trying to influence her in some way. We've got to go with Mr. Wells and stop him," she said, regretfully interrupting the moment.

Clark reacted as the superhero he was. He grabbed Lois' hand, and they rushed out of the conference room to Wells. If Clark gave his all to save anyone in trouble, he redoubled his efforts when someone he loved was in danger. Usually, it was Lois, but this time it was the daughter he was yet to meet.

The reporters went with Wells to his time machine, and he programmed it for January 31, 2015. As they prepared for their journey, Lois and Clark held hands and gripped tightly, as joyful thoughts of parenthood danced in their heads and fearful thoughts that they might lose their future to a madman ripped through their hearts.

{Metropolis 2015}

It was early morning when the three travelers arrived in the Metropolis of 2015. After ensuring that the time machine was well concealed, they ventured out into the city. Wells led them to a quaint brownstone. "This is where you live," Wells said, indicating the house across the street. Lois and Clark looked at each other and partially smiled.

Wells suggested, "We'd better stay behind this truck so no one sees us." The three crouched down, and, as they did, a beautiful, dark-haired teenager came out of the brownstone.

Lois and Clark both gasped. Clark asked slowly, still agape at what he was seeing, "Is that our daughter?"

Wells smiled, and put his hand on Clark's shoulder. "Yes, Clark, it is." Clark looked at Lois with awe and with love, and she returned the look with the same wonderment in her eyes. Wells softly said, "Her name is Rose."

"My mother's maiden name," Lois uttered, still in a dazed state. Clark wrapped his arm around Lois as they watched their offspring get into the car.

A moment later, however, they were brought out of their trance by her shout. "Lane, come on, we'll be late."

Two seconds later, a twelve-year-old boy ran out of the house. "Hold on, I'm coming. But I'd better not get in trouble."

Lois and Clark looked at each other again, realizing who this young man must be.

Rose started the car, but, before she could back it up, a loud, female voice called out, "Rose Martha Kent, there is no way that you are driving."

Barreling out of the house came an older Lois Lane, still as beautiful and energetic as ever but with a few more character lines on her face.

Rose got out of the car and said, "Mom, I'm sixteen now. I should be able to drive."

"Rose, we've been over this and over this. You just learned. We want you to practice some more first."

"But, I'm ready now. I've been ready for months."

Rose said this, and the younger Lois remarked, as she watched this scene unfold, "God help her, she's just like me." Lois smiled and looked at Clark, who was mesmerized by the future he and Lois had created.

Rose was angry, and she let her mother know it. "You and dad don't need the car. You could just *fly* to work."

"Keep your voice down. Do you want the whole neighborhood to hear you?"

"I really don't care, mother. You are always holding me back!" With these words, Rose slammed herself into the back seat.

Her mother tried to explain. "We are not holding you back. We just don't want you to hurt yourself."

"Mother, that is highly unlikely given the circumstances," Rose quickly and sarcastically replied.

Her mother, however, was equally quick-witted. "Okay, fine. We don't want you to hurt anyone else."

Rose was silent.

Looking into the car, the older Lois said to her son, "Lane, I assume you were in on this?"

The handsome young man got out of the car and said, "Yes, mom."

He looked down at the ground as his mother scolded him, "You shouldn't go along with all of your sister's harebrained schemes, Lane." She touched him on the top of his dark head to let him know that he was forgiven. "Now get back in the car."

Lois climbed into the driver's seat, as an older Clark emerged from the house. He got into the car with the rest of his family, and they headed toward the children's schools.

The Lois and Clark of the present were stunned as they watched their future unfold before their eyes. Neither could take their gaze off of the car as it pulled away, but their mezmerization was interrupted by the gentle, yet concerned, voice of Wells. "Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, we should get ourselves to the Planet to head off … well, you."

Still in shock, Clark and Lois nodded, as Wells hailed a cab. On the way over, Lois asked why he had brought them to 2015 when Rose's parents, that is, *they* were already here. Wells explained, "I didn't want to take any chances. I knew that Tempus was spending a great deal of time with Rose, so I figured that I'd need all of the reinforcements I could muster. Besides, teenagers have a tendency not to listen very well to what their parents are trying to get through to them."

Clark inquired further, "Why us? Why the us of 1998?"

Wells said, "I thought that seeing her parents when they were younger and filled with the hopes and dreams of impending parenthood might bring the point home to Rose more vividly."

The cab pulled up just past the Daily Planet building. Wells did not want to risk Lois and Clark running into anyone they might know, thus, while they remained at a distance, and after the Lois and Clark of the future had arrived, Wells went into the building.

He entered the newsroom unsure of how to approach the couple, but he figured that he would just tell them the truth, as he had in the past. As he stepped down into the pit, he was interested to see the changes since the last time he had been there. He saw Lois and Clark speaking with Jimmy Olsen, who was now a full-fledged reporter and photographer on the City beat and who, by this time, had become nearly as well-known as his mentors. Before the small group noticed his approach, Wells overheard them discussing the latest scandal in the Mayor's office. "Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, may I have a word?" he interrupted.

Lois recognized him but wanted to avoid introducing him to Jimmy, who gave Clark a quizzical look at sight of Wells' antique outfit. "Uh, sure. Clark," Lois said, indicating the empty conference room. She rushed them off before Jimmy could get a word in.

"What is it, Mr. Wells?" Lois quickly inquired.

"There are some people I'd like to introduce you to. Actually, you've met them before, but …" He didn't know how to continue. "In any case, please come with me. It involves your daughter."

"Rose? What about her," Clark instantly queried.

"Mr. Kent, I will explain it all very shortly. Please trust me," Wells replied.

Lois and Clark both nodded and exited the conference room with him. On their way out, they all heard the still gruff voice of Perry White bellowing out, "Olsen, how many times do I have to force you to get every detail before submitting a story to me. Geez, you're as rambunctious as Lois." On a day when they weren't being whisked off by a time traveler, Lois might have taken offense at that remark, but she didn't have time at the moment.

As they waited for their future selves to arrive, Lois and Clark paced. Finally, to take his mind off of his fear as best he could, Clark asked Lois, "How are you feeling?"

"Fine, so far," she quietly responded.

He put his hands on her shoulders and massaged them gently. Appreciating the effort and knowing exactly how upset he was, Lois reached up with her right hand and squeezed his. He gripped her hand and took her in his arms, as she turned toward him and wrapped her arms around his waist. They held each other for a moment until Clark noticed that Wells was approaching with their counterparts.

They watched as this future Lois and Clark looked over in awe at their younger selves. The three of them — Wells, Lois2 and Clark2 — crossed the street and approached. Wells knew that this must be a bit unnerving for all of them, so he took the initiative, but he didn't quite know how to introduce them, so he simply said, "Lois Lane and Clark Kent this is, uh, … Lois Lane and Clark Kent."

They slowly and awkwardly nodded to each other and then stared. Finally, Wells suggested that they find somewhere private to talk. Clark2 proposed that they all fly over to their house. Instinctively, Clark uttered, "I'll take Mr. Wells too since I'm younger." But he quickly blushed over what he had said.

Clark2 slapped him on the back with a grin and agreed. "That's okay. You're right."

They all walked into a nearby alley, and the Clarks spun into their suits, secured their passengers and took off.

All five entered the house, and Lois and Clark's attention immediately drifted to the pictures which were spread throughout. They saw baby pictures of Rose and Lane. They saw pictures of their fifteenth wedding anniversary. They saw the lives that they had not yet lived in front of their eyes. All the while, Lois2 and Clark2's gaze was directed on them. They watched them examine the pictures. They watched them look at each other with wonder. They watched them and recognized the people they once were.

Once everyone settled in, Wells took charge, since he was the only one who had an inkling of what was happening. "I know that this is strange for you, but all of your futures are at stake. Tempus is here in Metropolis, 2015." He said, nodding toward Lois2 and Clark2. "You haven't seen him, but your daughter has, and he has been spending a good deal of time with her."

Both Loises arose, shouting in unison, "What! If he touches one hair on her head…" They looked at each other quizzically, regained their collective calm, and sat back down.

"I know that all of this is upsetting, but you all have to listen carefully so that we can prevent Tempus from executing whatever dastardly plan lies in his twisted mind," Wells cautioned.

"Please continue Mr. Wells," Clark2 said.

Wells explained further. "You see, Tempus, is teaching at Rose's school."

"What?" Lois2 gasped.

"Has she mentioned a Mr. Chronos, her English teacher?" the time traveler asked.

"Yes. Oh, I get it — Tempus, Chronos, time," Clark2 said, with a dawning awareness.

"I've always attempted to keep tabs on Mr. Tempus. When he escaped, it took quite awhile, but I found him teaching at Rose's school. When I heard that she was in his class, I knew he was up to something. I just didn't know what, and I still don't," Wells said.

"Rose *has* been talking a great deal over the past few months about this English teacher and how excited she was about his ideas. When he learned that she was interested in writing, he offered to help her out and read her stories. She's been staying after school sometimes to talk with him," Lois2 added, as the pieces unraveled.

"It sounded to us like this teacher was just trying to encourage Rose to explore her talents," her husband added.

Wells continued, "I don't know his plan, but I have had the displeasure of looking into his eyes and seeing the hatred and the sick pleasure he gets out of trying to destroy you. I wouldn't have brought all of you together if I didn't believe that Tempus was out to ruin you again."

"We appreciate that, Mr. Wells, but what can we do?" the older Lois asked.

Lois arose angrily. "We can go over there and grab this sicko."

"And do what with him?" Clark arose as well and tried to soothe her. "Honey, please don't get riled up — the baby."

Lois shot him a glare.

Lois2 and Clark2 looked at each other and smiled. "I forgot how we were when I was pregnant," Lois2 said. Don't worry, Lois, he drove me nuts too. But you'll be glad when you have late night cravings for authentic Chinese food. It's pretty handy to have a husband who can fly around the world in a few minutes." Lois relented and smiled at Clark as she sat back down.

Wells suggested that the Clarks head over to the school to listen in on Tempus to see if he revealed anything about his plan, while he and the Loises would attempt to find out as much as they could on the computer about Tempus and his life in 2015.

Throughout the day, Lois was amazed at the new technology and the speed at which one could obtain information. They learned that Tempus, or Gregor Chronos, had rented an apartment not far from their brownstone. They also learned that he had obtained a position as an English teacher at Rose's school very soon after they figured that he had arrived in the future. However, because Chronos didn't really have a past in this dimension of time, there was little information to discover.

The Clarks were having even less success. They had been standing around, or hovering around, the school grounds all day and, thus far, only heard Tempus discussing Shakespeare, Keats, and dangling participles. He had had no contact with Rose as yet.

Finally, at the end of the day, Rose arrived in Tempus' class. They were discussing Greek myths once again, including the myths about Atlas. From their reading, the more participatory students related that Atlas was forced to hold up the heavens as punishment for siding against Zeus in his war against Zeus' father. In another version, Atlas once refused hospitality to Hercules, who then showed him the head of the monster Medusa, causing Atlas to be turned into a North African mountain range. The class discussed the various characters and what they symbolized.

As is typical, whether in 1998 or 2015, a few students did most of the participating, and the rest sat back and occupied their minds, primarily with anything other than Greek mythology. Rose was one of the participants. She was well aware that many of her classmates thought that she was too driven and cared too much about school. Most of the time, however, she didn't pay attention to what they thought. She *was* driven, and she *did* care. She had inherited both of her parents' determination, intelligence, insight and, especially, her mother's thirst for information. If her classmates didn't like it, that was their problem. Nonetheless, at times, she felt out of place, but it was more than about participating in class or normal teenage angst. It had to do with fitting in, with a sense of belonging. This she inherited from her father.

After class, Rose again remained, much to Tempus' delight. He knew that he had her in his grips — it was only a matter of time — then Superman and his perfect little family wouldn't be so perfect anymore. Tempus smiled as Rose approached. "Well, Rose, you were pretty quiet today in class."

"Yes, well, I was trying to think … the way you taught me." Rose explained.

Tempus took great delight in that last phrase. "That's what I've been counting on, superbrat," he thought, before redirecting himself to his mission.

"And what have you come up with?"

"I know Atlas was punished for being insolent or disrespectful or whatever, but who is Zeus or Hercules to tell him what to do? He was just kind of dumb to go up against someone more powerful than he was," Rose posited.

"Couldn't have said it better myself, Rose. You've really gotten the point of all this."

"Thanks, Mr. Chronos. I've just been expanding on the theme of recognizing one's potential, using it wisely, and using it to the benefit of oneself."

Tempus only nodded, becoming increasingly confident with each phrase the teenager spoke.

"Atlas was a really strong guy, right?" Rose continued. "He could have kicked most people's butts and gotten away with a lot, right? He just didn't know his limits. His limits being that there were those who were more powerful than he was."

Tempus was delighted. Each passing moment brought greater enjoyment.

Neither of the Clarks had felt comfortable eavesdropping on Rose, but, under the circumstances, they felt that they had no other choice. They overheard every word and couldn't believe Rose was saying the things she was saying. Now they understood a little better. Tempus had undone a great deal of what Rose's parents had strived to teach her over the past 16 years.

"Well, what do you think we should do?" Clark asked.

Clark2 replied, "We'd better get back to the house and talk to our wives and Wells before Rose gets back." In a split second, both were gone.

"Why didn't you grab that son of a …" Lois blurted out after the Clarks had related what they just had heard.

Clark quickly cut her off. "Well, we wanted to talk it over with all of you first before we confronted Tempus."

"Besides, we didn't want to tip him off and let him know that we were onto him," Clark2 added.

Wells decided that it was time for him to step in. "I agree that he is up to something, or I wouldn't have brought you here. It is clear that he is trying to influence Rose and has already succeeded to some degree. Now, you have to decide how you want to handle it."

Meanwhile, Rose was on her way home. Only, today, she decided to take a different route, a route she had never really taken before — an airborne one. Over the past year, she had begun to develop powers. She was already stronger and faster than any young person her age, or any age for that matter, except for her father, that is. After her discussions with Mr. Chronos, Rose decided that she too needed to soar, both literally and figuratively. Her parents had discouraged it, but why shouldn't she? She had the power. Why not use it? Her parents were always so cautious when it came to letting her do anything. As she flew through the clear, Metropolis sky on that sunny afternoon, Rose felt free, because, in her mind, she was doing solely what she wanted.

Back at the house, Wells had asked the Lanes and the Kents to make a decision about how they wished to handle Tempus, but Lois had already made up her mind. "It's simple. We've just got to prevent Rose from seeing Tempus."

Clark2 knew better. "You haven't met Rose yet," he said with amusement in his eyes.

His wife knew what he was driving at. "It's true, Lois, Rose is as pig-headed as her father is," she added, with a twinkle in her tone and an impish look toward her husband.

Clark2 laughed, all the while looking at his wife, "That's right. You both know how, when *someone* gets something into their head, there is no stopping *that person,* no matter what obstacles stand in *that person's* way."

"Well, do you think we should confront Tempus?" Clark inquired.

"I have an idea about how to stop Tempus for good," Wells responded, "but he has already interfered with Rose's life, and you've got to correct that first. Rose will never understand why Tempus' views are so warped if we suddenly snatch him. If I may suggest, I think it best that Tempus just go on thinking that his plan is working. He might get sloppy if he gets arrogant."

They all nodded. Lois2 looked at her watch. "Ohmigod, we've got to go get the kids."

"We'd better get out of here then," her younger self offered. "We'll check into the Metropolis Hilton if you need to reach us. We'll also try to track down Tempus."

Everyone was heading out of the house, when, out of the sky, landed Rose. "Hi, mom. Hi, dad. What …," she uttered, stopping in mid-question. She couldn't believe her eyes — right in front of her were her parents, looking many years younger, but they were her parents, without a doubt.

As he looked around to see if anyone else was watching, Wells suggested, "Why don't we all go back inside."

Everyone quickly followed.

Once inside, Rose's curiosity burst forth. "What is going on? Who are these people?"

Wells took the initiative. "Miss Kent, I'm H. G. Wells."

"Sure, and Santa Claus really puts those packages under the tree," Rose dryly responded, displaying more than a glimmer of her mother's skepticism.

Lois2 came up behind Rose and rested her hands on her daughter's shoulders. "It's true, honey. This *is* H. G. Wells."

"And these people are us … sixteen years ago," her father finished.

Lois and Clark watched Rose, as she looked them over.

"How?" was all Rose could manage.

Clark2 checked his watch. "While you are explaining it, I'd better call my parents and ask them to pick up Lane and keep him overnight."

"My parents moved to Metropolis?" Clark asked with surprise.

"Yeah. The farm was getting to be too much, and they said that they wanted to watch their grandchildren grow up," Clark2 explained.

"They're the perfect babysitters and saved us so many times when we were in a jam," Lois2 added.

Clark2 left to make the call, but Rose would not and could not drop the inquiry. "No one has answered my question," she insisted.

Without giving too much away, Wells explained. "You see, I *am* H. G. Wells and Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent and I came here in a time machine which I built."

Rose nodded slowly but still had a million questions. "Why are you here?"

Before anyone could offer an explanation, her father returned, giving his wife the opening she needed. "We'll answer that later. First, let's address what you were doing just now."

"What do you mean? The flying?"

"*Yes,* the flying. And you just landed in the middle of our yard. What if someone had seen you?" Her mother said in a loud and angry tone.

"So what if they had?"

"What do you mean, Rose?" Clark2 asked, in disbelief.

"I mean, dad, that why should we hide our powers? You and I have such abilities, and someday Lane might too. Why should we pretend that we don't?"

"I thought you understood, honey. When your mother and I told you that I was Superman and that you might begin to develop some of the same powers, we explained why that had to be kept a secret. There are people in this world who would use that information to hurt people we love — your grandparents, your mother, even your friends," Clark2 explained.

Rose was defiant nonetheless. "I've heard you say that a million times, but we can stop them. We could show them that, if they messed with us, there would be consequences. We could rule the world if we wanted to."

"What!" Lois shouted. She could not believe what she was hearing. "Rose, you don't know what you are saying."

"Great. It's bad enough I've got two parents telling me what to do. I don't need two more."

"Rose!" Lois2 scolded.

"Well, it's true. Getting back to the point, we could have anything we wanted."

"It's Tempus. He's got her thinking this way," Clark2 said.

"Who?" Rose queried.

"Tempus," Clark answered. "You know him as Mr. Chronos."

"What do you know about Mr. Chronos? He's the only one who understands how I feel."

"No, Rose, he doesn't. He's just trying to hurt you," Lois responded.

"Hurt me!" Rose shouted. "You don't know what you're talking about. Why don't you two just go back in time where you belong."

Rose stormed out of the house and flew off, with her parents screaming at her.

"Should we go after her?" Clark asked.

"No," Clark responded. "Let's just let her be for now, but we've got to think of some way to make her see what Tempus really is. He is teaching her the wrong message from stories she should be learning good lessons from."

Lois interrupted. "Lois and I were talking earlier about how we could get Rose to see Tempus' true colors. We thought that you two should confront Tempus, and Lois and I would get Rose to overhear the conversation. He is sure to demonstrate his hatred at some point during the confrontation."

"*But* you have to be careful not to be the ones who control the exchange," Rose's mother added. "You have to let Tempus make admissions on his own, or Rose will think that you're bullying him."

"Okay. Now we've just got to get the timing right," Clark stated.

Clark2 proposed the solution. "Why doesn't Clark go to find Tempus and take him to his apartment, if he isn't there already? I'll go try to find Rose, although I'll try not to let her see me. Once she gets back here, you three have the tough job — you have to convince Rose to come to Tempus' apartment. When I see you nearing the apartment, Clark and I will confront Tempus. Rose will have to use her super-hearing."

For once, everyone was in agreement.

Rose raced through the sky faster than she had ever flown before. How dare they! How dare all of them! How could they accuse Mr. Chronos of corrupting her. He was the only one who understood. And who were these younger parents of hers? What were they doing hanging around?

She was flying so furiously that she never noticed her father behind her, albeit he was very far away. Clark2 watched her and knew how angry and hurt she felt. He wished that he could help her. It was killing him to watch her suffer, but he knew that she needed to work this out on her own. He just hoped that, in giving Tempus his due, they weren't going to destroy Rose's self-confidence in the process.

Despite her preoccupation with her anger, Rose overheard something below. It sounded like a bank robbery in progress. She lowered her altitude and used her enhanced visual powers to look into the bank. She saw two men, armed and masked, holding the patrons and bank employees hostage. Immediately she darted in and, at super-speed, wrapped up the criminals with some rope the bank had in the storage closet. She flew fast enough so that no one could see her and hid herself near the vault, which the tellers had opened to accede to the robbers' demands.

From a distance, Clark2 watched. His first instinct had been to dash into the bank and take care of it himself, but his daughter had beaten him to the punch, and, now, he wanted to see how she would handle herself. As he saw her stop the robbery cold, his heart swelled with pride. Maybe his and Lois' parenting had paid off. He continued to watch in case Rose needed his assistance. He just hoped that she wouldn't be seen. The world didn't yet need to know that there was more than one person with superpowers in it.

Rose continued to hide while the patrons and bank employees recovered from their shock. They had no idea what had just happened, but their lives may just have been saved. As Rose heard police sirens in the distance, she noticed the open vault and the money inside. She checked carefully to see if anyone was watching, but the others were too preoccupied. She walked into the vault and eyed the crisp bills before her. They were hers for the taking, if she wanted them, and she didn't need to put any lives in danger to get it. No one would ever know. She had the speed to dash back out without anyone being the wiser. She slowly picked up a wad of bills packed together and put it in her jacket.

When Clark2 saw what his daughter was doing, his muscles contracted in hatred, and he growled, "Tempus." He wanted with all of his heart to fly down there and stop Rose from making this mistake, but he utilized all of his will to overcome the desire. He knew that she had to make her own decision. If she made the wrong one, he and Lois would be there for her to help her straighten it out, but she had to choose on her own because forcing her to choose the right course would have no meaning otherwise.

However, as Rose was about to walk out of the vault, she stopped. She just couldn't do it. It was wrong, plain and simple. This wasn't her money and, just because she had the power to take it, didn't mean she should. If everyone went around disobeying the law, even if they had the ability to get away with it, society would fall apart. "Damn," she thought to herself, hating to admit it, "My parents were right." After returning the money, Rose zipped out of the bank and up into the sky. As her father followed her home, he wiped a lone tear from his cheek, a tear borne of the love and pride only a parent can feel and only his child can produce.

Meanwhile, the younger Clark had seen to it that Tempus wasn't going anywhere. Tempus had been at his apartment and was preparing his dinner, when Clark knocked at the door. He was a bit surprised when he saw Superman before him, but he didn't let on. "Well, Superman, what a nice surprise. But what happened? You look a bit younger. Wait, it's Geritol and Grecian formula, right?"

"Cut the sarcasm, Tempus," Clark snarled as he forced his way into the apartment.

"So, to what do I owe the honor of your presence?"

"A friend and I want to talk to you."

"Well, where is he, Superman?" Tempus asked, looking around. "By the way, don't you know it's rude to stop over without calling first?"

Clark glared at Tempus. "He's on his way, and, in the meantime, I drew villain-sitting duty."

Tempus couldn't help himself. The barbs rolled off of his tongue instinctively. "Why, Superman, such unkind words. And, after all we've meant to each other."

"That'll be enough out of you. Just sit down and don't say a word. And, don't even think of trying to leave," Clark added, sternly.

"Or you'll what? Hit me? Tie me up? Kill me?"

"You know that's not my style, but I have nonviolent ways of keeping you here."

Tempus sighed. "Yes, I suppose you do, but, you know, you are so predictable. Show a little spunk sometime. Do something wrong once in awhile."

Clark just sat down and ignored Tempus, but Tempus went on. "You know, I'm surprised Lois has stayed with you as long as she has. I would have thought you would have bored her to death by now. Oh, but I suppose there are *some* things you are just super at. Lois *is* a very passionate woman."

That was it. Without thinking, Clark arose and grabbed Tempus. "You say one more word about Lois and I'll …"

"You'll what, super-nerd?" Tempus challenged him.

At super-speed, Clark tore out of the apartment and was back in just a few seconds. Tempus, at last, was quiet. "Now if only that duct tape holds," Clark thought to himself.

Rose landed less conspicuously this time, checking to make sure no one was around. She entered the house, leery of the reaction she would get. As she walked in, her mother, Lois and Wells all rose.

"Honey, come sit down. There's something we need to ask of you."

Rose thought she must have been dreaming. Her mother seemed calmer than she ever could have hoped for after her abrupt exit the last time they were together.

Lois2 began, as Rose sat down. "We need you to come with us somewhere."


"To Temp… Mr. Chronos' apartment."

"Mom, just let it go. Mr. Chronos may not be right about everything, but he's a good guy. He means well."

Lois jumped in. "No, Rose, he doesn't. Do you think Clark and I would have traveled all this way if we didn't truly believe that Tempus was up to something?"

"Look, Lois, I'm sure you thought you were doing the right thing, but Mr. Chronos hasn't done anything to me. I'm perfectly fine. See."

"You may well be, but you have to know that Tempus was trying to get you to reject everything your parents have taught you about right and wrong."

"Oh, Lois, I don't know about that. He may be a little off on his interpretation of Greek mythology, but …"

Lois could stand it no longer. "Rose, do you know why Mr. Wells brought me here?" she asked, interrupting her future daughter.

"To try and stop Tempus, blah, blah, blah."

"Sure, but the me of 1998?"


Lois paused for a brief moment. "I'm pregnant … with you."

Rose's eyes grew wide. "Really?"


"Cool. Too bad you're not further along. I could feel myself kicking."

Everyone smiled at Rose's remark, but Lois couldn't let herself get lost in the romance of the moment. "Rose, Clark and I didn't plan to have you so soon." She hesitated but decided to forge ahead any way. "It just sort of happened, but, in the short time we've had to adjust to the idea, and, after seeing you and Lane, we want you so much that we would do anything to make sure it happens and that you are okay."

Rose didn't know what to say. She saw the depth of passion with which Lois spoke and felt the love and power behind her words.

"Please just trust us and come with us. You need to see the truth." Lois pleaded. "Will you come?"

Rose couldn't refuse. "Okay. If it means that much to you, I'll go."

Hovering above, Clark2 heard these words, and he headed towards Tempus'. He entered the apartment and found his younger counterpart sitting and watching television, while Tempus sat next to him, rope tying his wrists, and quiet as a church mouse … with tape over his mouth. Tempus' eyes grew wide as the second Superman entered and ripped the tape off.

"Ow!" Tempus yelled, "That hurt!"

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Clark2 said mockingly, as he winked at Clark.

Recognition stole across Tempus' face. "Now I get it, you're from the past," he uttered, pointing at Clark.

Clark2 said, "Very good."

"So, what do you two want?"

"We'll tell you in a minute. I have to talk to Clark first." He pulled the younger man aside and whispered, "They're not here yet, but they should be here any second. Let's just stall until they arrive, which we both should be able to hear."

"Don't tell me you actually have a plan," Tempus shouted sarcastically.

Both Clarks turned and glared.

Not longer than a minute afterward, Rose, her mothers, and Wells approached. They stood outside Tempus's apartment building, and Lois2 said to Rose, "You're going to have to use your super-hearing. And, even if you never listen to another word I say, please listen to the whole conversation. Trust your father."

Rose nodded and began to concentrate.

The Clarks heard their approach, and they neared Tempus, who watched these men of steel approach and wondered what they had been cooking up.

"So, we hear you've been doing some teaching," Clark said.

"Yes, I have. It's one of my many talents," Tempus sneered.

"What have you been teaching my daughter?" Clark2 sternly asked.

"Greek mythology. Any laws against that," Tempus replied.

"We know what you're trying to do," Clark answered.

Tempus, in his best attempt at innocence, and finally realizing that someone might be listening, said, "I truly don't know what you are talking about. Your daughter is a very bright young woman. We just discussed Greek myths."

"Cut the act. We overheard one of your conversations with Rose," Clark2 snarled. He was beginning to lose his patience.

"Yes, and it was about Greek mythology, wasn't it?"

"Don't lie! You were trying to get her to change, to do something wrong," Rose's father shouted.

"This is a waste of time," Rose said to her mothers, after listening for a few minutes. "I told you Mr. Chronos wasn't a bad guy. They've got him tied up in there."

"Please, honey, just listen a little longer," Lois2 said.

Rose sighed.

Both Clarks paused to consider what to do next. Tempus simply wasn't acting like his usual, obnoxious self. Suddenly, Clark2 had an idea. He grabbed Tempus by the collar and lifted him to his feet. "That's it. I've had enough of your lies!"

"What *are* you talking about?"

"You know damn well what I'm talking about!" Clark2 shouted. "You have interfered in my life too many times, Tempus. I've tried the nonviolent way, but nothing seems to get through to you. So, I see I'm going to have to try *other* methods." As he spoke, his eyes fixated on Tempus', the veins on his neck and forehead bulging.

Clark attempted to step in. "No, he's not worth it. Don't let him ruin what we've worked so hard for."

Clark2 only glared back. "Stay out of this! I have to do something, and this is the only way to stop him for good. I won't let him hurt my family anymore. I won't!" he snapped.

The younger man backed off.

At that moment, Rose turned to her mother. "Mom, I've got to go in there. Dad is going to hurt him."

Lois2 reached out to her daughter. Resting her hands on her shoulders, she looked her straight in the eye. "Rose, we both know that, physically, I can't stop you from going in there. But, I know your father as well as I know myself. I don't know what you're seeing and hearing, but he will *not* hurt Tempus, no matter what you think is going on. Please be patient. I, of all people, know that's tough for you, but do it just this once."

Rose nodded, overwhelmed by the conviction behind her mother's words. She focused her attention back inside the apartment.

Clark2 pulled Tempus in close to him. "You barely exist in this time, so I don't think too many people are going to miss you! Hope you aren't afraid of heights, because it's a long way down from the Borough Bridge," he growled.

Tempus swallowed and, as calmly as he could muster, stated, "You're not going to kill me. You're Superman."

Clark2 lifted him up further and squeezed his throat. "You're right, I am Superman, but you've never threatened my daughter before. I'd sooner let you corrupt me than my children, and, if that's the only way to stop you for good, I'll do it."

Clark2 began to carry Tempus to the door. Tempus' eyes grew wide with fear — real fear. However, his survival instinct returned in a flash. "Aha," he croaked, Clark2's hand still around his throat. "So, I *have* won. I was trying to affect Rose, but, now, I've got you. Ha! Finally! How the mighty have fallen."

Clark2 put him down, releasing his grip only slightly. Tempus continued, attempting to prolong his death sentence and trying to think of a way out while trying to maintain his "dignity." "I thought that, if your children didn't turn out so perfect, the rest of your descendants wouldn't be so perfect either, and, then, Utopia would be mine. But now I've done even better. I pushed the great one himself to want to kill."

Clark2 released him.

At that moment, a gust of wind blew the door open, and, in a flash, Rose grabbed Tempus in the same way her father had. "Why you son of a bitch!" she snarled.

Both Clarks leapt forward. "Rose, put him down … And watch your language," her father ordered.

Rose set Tempus down and shoved him into Clark's hands, as the Loises and Wells came running in.

"What happened," they all inquired.

Rose was quick to provide an answer. "This lowlife, scum sucking, Myth reading, baaas .. bad guy tried to get me to turn against everything I'd been taught."

"He was trying to make you act out of hubris, my dear," Wells said.

Rose nodded. "That's right, Mr. Wells."

At the puzzled look of the others, she explained. "Hubris is the Greek word for an overwhelming pride or arrogance."

"Fortunately, it didn't work," Wells said, directing his attention to Tempus. "Your evil couldn't triumph over who Rose is and what her parents instilled in her."

Tempus rolled his eyes. "Does anyone mind if I gag? Herb, can't you mix it up a little? You're beginning to bore me."

Clark2 stepped in. "That'll be enough from you. And, just for your information, I wasn't going to kill you."

"Well, duh," Tempus said, clearly annoyed with himself. "I should have known you were too cowardly to do something like that."

Rose responded immediately and got in his face. "No, *you're* the coward. It takes great strength of character for my father and Clark to live their lives the way they do and for my mother and Lois too. I only hope that I can demonstrate that same strength some day."

"On that very wise note," Wells said, turning his attention to the two Clarks, "Will one of you grab Mr. Tempus here and take him to the time machine?"

As Clark started forward, his future daughter cut in front of him and lifted Tempus off the ground by his shirt. "Allow me."

Her parents looked at each other in agreement, while Lois and Clark snickered.

"So, what are we going to do with this guy?" the teenager asked, grinning.

This was Wells' cue. "As I told your parents, Rose, I do have a plan which I should have executed long ago. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm galactically stupid."

"What is it?" Rose queried.

"I think Mr. Tempus should go back home. That is the worst punishment of all for him, apparently," Wells stated.

"But how can you keep him there?" Rose asked.

Wells, somewhat abashedly responded, "I'm going to take him back to a time before I met him, and I'm going to warn myself so that I do not take Tempus back in time with me in the first place. That's what began this whole mess."

"You can't do that!" Tempus shouted.

With the glaring eyes of everyone upon him, Tempus knew that he'd finally been beaten.

"Shall we, my dear," Wells said to Rose.

"Gladly," she replied, lifting Tempus again rather roughly.

"I'll be back to pick you up and take you back to where you belong," Wells said to Lois and Clark as he exited, acknowledging their nods.

Once Wells and Rose had Tempus secured and after Rose watched with wonder as the time machine disappeared into the future, everyone headed back to the house. Upon their arrival, Lois2 called the Kents, who soon brought Lane back. The three newcomers then heard the story of the time travelers and of Tempus' last stand. Lane, however, was disappointed. "I wish I'd have been in on it."

Jonathan put a hand on his shoulder and said, "I think that you'll have plenty of excitement in the future, if the rest of your family's lives are any indication. Just be patient."

Lane looked at his beloved grandfather. "I guess," he uttered reluctantly.

Clark was still pondering the amazing fact that his parents had moved to Metropolis. "So, tell me again how you came to move to the city, Dad, … uh, Mr. Kent …"

"Dad is fine, Clark."

"Okay, Dad. You always said you'd never live in Metropolis."

"That was before he saw his grandchildren," Martha answered, with a wide smile, looking all the while at Lane and Rose. "You and Lois had such busy schedules that you had problems finding babysitters. Besides, once the kids got older, you didn't want them to know about Superman yet, so that cut down on the visits to Smallville."

Jonathan chimed in. "Even I will admit that the farm work was getting to be a bit much. You offered to help out, but it just wasn't the same. We're not getting any younger, I suppose."

"That's for sure," Martha agreed. "But you two look so youthful," she said to Lois and Clark.

"Thanks, Mom," Lois2 laughed.

"I'm sorry, honey. You still look fantastic," she hurriedly reassured. "It's just that seeing the comparison makes me realize how much we've all changed. I'm just glad I don't have to see myself from sixteen years ago."

"Mom, I don't think you're helping," Clark2 said.

Martha sheepishly shrugged her shoulders.

While they waited for Wells to return, the group split up. "Uh, … Lois, can I ask you something?" Lois queried.

"Sure," her counterpart replied.

"How did I … you … we adjust to being a mother?"

Lois2 watched her.

"I mean, before Clark, I never really thought about ever having kids. But when I fell in love with him, it just seemed right … possible, you know?"

Lois2 nodded.

"But I don't really know *how* to be a mother."

Lois2 smiled. "Lois, what I've learned is that no one *knows* how to be a mother. You just do it, and you try real hard to do what you think is best for your children. You make mistakes, hope that you don't damage their psyches too much, and attempt to learn as time goes on. In all due humbleness, we make a pretty good mother."

Both women smiled.

"Thank you. You've … we've, done a wonderful job with Rose and Lane. They're very special children."

"Yes, they are. They've got to face a great many responsibilities other children never do, but they've got a good role model." Lois2 looked over to the Clarks, and Lois followed her gaze.

"Yes, they do," she agreed.

Clark was also concerned with his parenting skills and took the opportunity which presented itself to allay his fears. He asked his counterpart, "How have you handled it, having to leave your family so often?"

"It's not easy, even now. I have missed some things that I would never have missed otherwise — birthday parties, little league games. You should see Rose play shortstop," he said with a grin on his face. "But, I *was* there when both Rose and Lane were born. I was there for most of my wedding anniversaries. Although, let me give you some advice. On your tenth anniversary, don't forget to pick up some candy or something on your way back from that volcano eruption in Hawaii." Clark2 winced. "Lois was none too pleased when I returned with no chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. You know, the ones she ate so many of on that trip we took about six months after we were married after … Well, you know."

Clark grinned. He knew.

"Anyway, you know already that Superman can't be everywhere, can't answer every cry for help."

Clark nodded.

"Clark, what I've learned is that you have to let Superman be a man. Let him be Clark Kent. And, when you look into Lois' eyes, or read one of Rose's stories, or watch Lane run into the house with the latest bug for his collection, you know that you can't help but let Superman be Clark. It's what makes life worth living.

"Superman's not much good to the world if the world doesn't mean anything to him," he continued. "Lois and Rose and Lane make it mean something. One man can make a difference, but no one man, even Superman, can make *all* the difference."

"Thank you," Clark responded quietly.

"You're welcome," Clark2 replied, "Now let's go see what our wives have been saying about us."

Clark2 patted him on the back, and, in that instant, Clark's fears were put to rest.

They had been saying a great deal. "So, how is it being married for almost nineteen years?" Lois asked.

Lois2 grinned. "It's wonderful. Don't get me wrong; it hasn't always been a picnic. We've had our problems, some serious, some not-so-serious," she said, with a side glance. "You know how Clark always has to fly off somewhere, but I couldn't imagine my life without him. In spite of all of the problems associated with being married to Superman, if you asked me if it was worth it, I'd answer yes' without thinking."

"You would?"

"In a heartbeat. Wouldn't you?"

Lois blushed. "Yes, but I guess I thought it might be different after so much time."

Lois2 smiled. "Not really. Clark was the most thoughtful, loving, honest, sexy man I'd ever met on the day we got married, and he still is. Oh, and, by the way, you remember how incredible the honeymoon was, and how it just got better after that?"

Lois nodded.

"It gets even better."

Lois' eyes widened. "It does?"

"Uh, huh." Lois2 smiled like the cat who swallowed the canary.

"How, um, I mean, … in what way?"

Lois2 laughed. "No, no, no. You have to have something to look forward to. I can't give away all of the secrets."

As she finished speaking, the Clarks approached. "I hope you two haven't been eavesdropping," Lois 2 said, smiling as they neared.

Clark2 responded, "No. We made a pact to try to tune you two out. But, what secrets are you not telling Lois?"

Lois quickly arose. "Oh nothing," she said, as she grabbed Clark's arm and grinned. He wondered what secrets she *did* learn. The look on her face indicated without a doubt that she had learned something quite interesting.

"I guess we had better get back to where we belong so that we can start on building this life," Lois said as she looked around her. She gazed over at Wells, who had returned, and the children, and then back at Lois2 and Clark2. The Loises hugged; the Clarks shook hands; Lois2 hugged Clark; and Lois hugged Clark2.

"Thank you both for helping to stop Tempus," Clark2 said.

"How could we do anything but," Lois responded. Smiling softly, she continued. "She's our daughter too — in a way."

Lois2 said, "You're right."

Clark spoke the last words. "Well, in our own strange way, I guess we'll all be meeting again in the future."

The rest all nodded.

Lois and Clark walked to the time machine. They couldn't wait to return to their lives. They were glad to go back, for it was the journey to get to this place that would make them the people they saw and would bring them the family they both now wanted so much. While they envied their older counterparts, they wanted to experience all of the things along the way.

Lois2 and Clark2 felt similarly. While one often longs for the days of his or her youth, it is not so much a longing to be that person again but to feel a certain way. They obtained this through seeing these younger versions of themselves. They could feel again what it was like when they first discovered that Lois was pregnant with Rose; however, they would never give up what they now had. They had lived through the past, and, while the future is always uncertain, as far as they could tell, it was a bright one.

Lois and Clark then said their good-byes, though, in this case, not final ones, to Lane and Rose. "It was great to meet the two of you. We will see you again someday, although you may not recognize us," Clark said.

Lois laughed. "That's right. You'll think of us only as your old parents. But try to remember us just once like this."

"We'll try," Rose replied. "And, thank you for helping me out. I'm sorry I wasn't more polite when we met."

"That's okay. You take after your mother," Clark said.

Lois elbowed him in the stomach playfully. "Hey!"

"I'm sorry," he replied with a smile, as he feigned injury.

"It was nice to meet you," Lane said.

Both Clark and Lois replied, "You too."

With that, they kissed their children goodbye and boarded the time machine, as Wells looked on. As the machine started, Lois and Clark looked back wistfully, but they knew that someday they would see these beautiful young people again.

{Metropolis 1998}

As Lois was entering the Daily Planet building, she felt a familiar presence rush up to her. "Hi, honey, just a fire. No one was hurt," Clark whispered. He looked at his watch and noted, "Good, we're not *too* late." They had purposely begun getting up a little early during the first year they were married, after several mornings of being *very* late to work. You never knew what was going to happen in the Lane/Kent household, even putting aside Clark's extra duties as Superman.

As they approached their desks, Lois asked, "Clark, can we have a quiet evening alone tonight?"

"I don't know, can we?" Clark replied.

But, Lois did not appreciate his flippant attitude, and she shot him a sharp look. "Not funny."

Clark knew something was out of the ordinary. "I'm sorry. Lois, what is it?" he responded, as he put his hand on her shoulder.

"There's something that we need to talk about," Lois said matter-of-factly.

Clark was bewildered. "Is there something wrong, Lois, because I thought this morning …

Lois quickly interrupted and tried to explain, "No, no, no. There's nothing wrong. At least I don't think so."

Now he was really curious. "What is it?"

"It's something that we should discuss somewhere more private," she uttered nervously.

Clark put his hand on her lower back and suggested, "Well, let's go into a conference room."

"No, I want this to …," as she tried to finish her words, however, an impulse came over her. Actually it was more of a need, but no longer a need born of anxiety. It was born of assuredness and calm. She didn't know what came over her, but she took Clark's hand, picked up her purse, and led him toward the elevator.

Clark was perplexed. "Where are we going, Lois?"




"God, this must be serious. What did I do, honey?"

Lois smiled. "Just relax, Kent. I think you'll be pleased with what you did."

She looked up at him, radiating her warmth in his direction as the elevator door closed.

Wells watched the scene from the corner. He took out his pocket watch and gazed at it, as the couple went off to begin their lives again, now that the future had been secured.