Time After Time (Season 5, Episode 2)

By Peace Everett <peace9@worldnet.att.net> Rated PG

Original Air Date: October 5, 1997

Summary: Lois and Clark race through time to defeat Tempus and save their future family. But with one Clark Kent already dead 82 years in the future, will they be in time? Or run out of it? Part 2 of 2. Episode 2 of S5.

By Peace Everett (with plotting help from Barb)


Previously on Lois and Clark:

As Lois and Clark Kent deal with the exciting and frightening prospect of the baby dropped unexpected in their laps, 82 years in the future, Lori and Clark Kent have two new additions to their lives, a new baby, CJ, and a new friend and chess partner, Jeremiah.

{Jeremiah searched the board for his next move, intent on making the proper defense. Reaching into his pocket, he slowly pulled a small chess piece from its case and placed it on the board.

Immediately, Clark felt a piercing pain shoot through his body and started to gasp for air, unable to discern the cause. Looking at the board, he saw the new chess piece's bright green glow. As he slowly sank from the chair onto the floor, he could hear Jeremiah's final words.

"No, Clark, checkmate."}


Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 9 p.m.

Jeremiah stared down at the still form before him. He glanced briefly at the antique pocket watch in his hand.

"Ten minutes since you last moved," he muttered. "I'd say the final credits have rolled for you, Clark Kent." He laughed an ugly, open-mouthed laugh, brushed an unruly lock of silver hair out of his eyes, and pocketed the Kryptonite chess piece which had ended his last game with the fallen superhero. He started to leave the room, then turned back to watch a minute longer, to ensure that Superman would not revive once the Kryptonite was put away in its small lead-lined case.

"Twenty years I've waited for this day," he mused as he waited. "Twenty years sitting in prison, watching reruns of bad sitcoms. Twenty years of making nice for the parole board — for all the good *that* did me."

Finally convinced that Clark was really dead, he turned and headed upstairs to get the baby. The baby, after all, was the whole point of this — well, perhaps not the *whole* point, watching Superman die had been fun — but the baby represented power. Just imagine, a superchild, his to raise as he saw fit, who would call him Papa and do his bidding and be ever faithful to him.

He hurried down the hall, checking the various rooms for the baby. He finally found the nursery at the far end, but the bassinet was empty. He retraced his steps to the master bedroom — would she have put the baby down for a nap on their bed? No, apparently not.

Before he had time to do more than purse his lips in frustration, he heard a sound from the living room. He hurried downstairs, pulling the Kryptonite case from his pocket, just in case Superman was reviving after all. At the door, he paused and peered inside cautiously, just in time to see a vision from his own past: H.G. Wells and Clark Kent arriving in the time machine.

'Damn!' Jeremiah swore to himself. 'Killed the sequel and the original comes back to haunt me! And H.G. must have taken the baby — Damn him!' He watched silently, peeking around the door, as they got out of the time machine and bent over the body on the floor.

"Oh, dear," he heard H.G. Wells sigh. "Well, my boy, it appears we've arrived a bit late. We'll have to-"

Snatching at the first plan that formed in his mind, Jeremiah flung open the door and strode into the room. "Who are you people," he demanded, "and what have you done to my friend?" Before they could answer, he felt for a pulse on the body slumped on the floor by the table, and gasped loudly. "He's dead — you killed him!" He rushed from the room, shouting for help.

Luckily for him and his plan, that was the moment Lori returned from the store with her cards. Her mother-in-law had arrived for a quick visit and was walking in the door with her. Jeremiah grabbed Lori's arm and hurried her toward the living room. "Something's wrong with Clark!" he wheezed dramatically. He turned to Elaine Kent. "Call the police," he commanded. "These men have hurt Clark!"

Lori rushed into the living room in time to see Clark and H.G. Wells climbing into the time machine. "Clark? Where are you going?" A second later she was close enough to get a better look at him. "You're not Clark! Who are you? What have you-?"

At that instant, she caught sight of her husband, lying motionless on the floor. "CLARK!!!" she screamed. She rushed to his side, desperate to touch him yet afraid to move him. "What's wrong with him?"

Jeremiah stepped forward, pointing a shaking finger at H.G. Wells. "He did it," he announced. "I saw him kill your husband."

Lori shook her head in disbelief. "No … It can't be," she whispered. She touched her husband's arm, and found the skin cool and clammy to her hand. Her body shaking in panic, she frantically dug her fingers against his neck, searching for a pulse. "No!" she sobbed.

Meanwhile, H.G. Wells was also shaking his head. "Sir, you are mistaken. When my companion and I arrived, Mr. Kent was already … well … oh, dear … "

*Metropolis, June 16, 1997, 10 a.m.*

"Oh, dear! Oh, CJ, please stop crying!" Lois paced the bedroom floor, bouncing the wailing baby in her arms. She tried once again to feed him, but he twisted away from the bottle, crying louder still. "Aw, come on, CJ! You're fed, you're dry, you've got my complete attention — what more could you want out of life?!"

CJ's only answer was another wail.

"Oh, Martha, what's taking you so long?" Tears of frustration welled up in Lois' eyes. "What kind of mother am I gonna be if I can't take care of a baby by myself for half an hour?" She settled into the rocker, trying to calm herself against the baby's screams. "Well, you may not have superpowers yet, but you've sure got super lungs, don't you?" Her shaky laugh was not a strong defense against CJ's wails, and in another moment Lois would have burst into tears if the door hadn't opened just then.

"My, my, what a temper!" Martha exclaimed.

"Martha, I fed him, I changed his diaper, I've rocked him until my arms are about to break, and he won't stop crying, and my mother had to go to a meeting, and Daddy had to go to the lab, and I don't know what to do!!"

Martha patted Lois on the shoulder a moment before taking the baby from her. "Sh-sh, okay, we'll take care of this, it'll be all right … " She put CJ up against her shoulder and spanked him once sharply (but not too hard) on his well-padded bottom, then held him up where she could see him. "Now settle down," she commanded. Startled, CJ stared at her for a moment, suddenly silent, then burped loudly and, with a sigh, promptly went to sleep.

Settling him in the bassinet, Martha turned to face Lois, who was still staring at her mother-in-law in shock.

"You hit him!"

Martha nodded matter-of-factly. "Learned it from Jonathan, who said he learned it from his grandfather. He said sometimes babies get started crying and forget how to stop. It's like a person having hysterics — sometimes you have to do something unexpected to snap them out of it." Lois was still shaking her head, unconvinced, but Martha pressed on. "You know I'm not advocating hitting kids. You know me better than that. Did you see where I spanked him? On his bottom, where he's got a lot of natural padding and a nice thick diaper as well. And I spanked him just hard enough to get his attention. My goodness, I bet the doctor slapped him harder than that when he was born!"

Lois sighed, staring down at the baby now sleeping peacefully in the bassinet. "Well, it worked … but I don't think I could ever … " Her lips began to quiver, and then the tears she had been struggling to hold back fell in earnest. "Oh, Martha! I don't know how to be a mother! I know I told you just a few days ago that I was ready, but I'm not! And … and … Clark said we would do it together, but he's not here — he's never here — it's just like my nightmare, babies all over the place and Clark thinks having babies is a piece of cake, but I'm the one that has to eat it and the queen had to hold two of the babies and the pope held two and there were at least ten of them and — " her voice rose in a wail to match CJ's of a few minutes before. "I watched Three Men And A Baby *twice* — if Tom Selleck can do this, why can't I?"

Chuckling, Martha gathered Lois into her arms not even trying to follow all of the babbling. "Oh, honey, because that's a movie! And as I remember, Tom Selleck had to go a few rounds with a screaming baby, too." She gave Lois a few motherly pats on the back, letting her cry it out. When she heard Lois sniff, then chuckle a bit as well, Martha nodded approvingly. "Besides, I don't think anyone is ready to have a baby land in their living room!"

"I know, you said that before."

Martha nodded, pulling away a little so she could hand Lois a tissue. "And I'll keep saying it until you believe me! I think that's part of the reason you spend nine months being pregnant — to give the mother a chance to get ready for the baby, too." She grinned. "You just wait — when you have a baby of your own, and I'm quite sure you will, you'll do just fine!"

"Oh that's right — I didn't get the chance to tell you before because my mother was here!" Lois' eyes grew wide with delight. She was a reporter, after all — she loved telling people the news.

"Tell me what, dear?" asked Martha curiously. "And where is Clark, anyway — out being Superman?"

"In a manner of speaking." Finally in her element, Lois led Martha over to the sofa. "Where's Jonathan? We should tell him, too."

Martha grimaced. "Jonathan made me come on back here alone — said he had one more place to stop on and — " a knock on the door interrupted her. "That must be him now." She opened the door to admit a beaming Jonathan and stared in mock-disapproval at the package in his hands. "Oh, Jonathan, you didn't!"

"It's never too soon," Jonathan insisted.

"For what?" Lois asked, craning her neck to see around Martha.

Jonathan held up a tiny baseball glove, bat, cap, and MetroU jersey, setting Lois off into peals of laughter.

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 10 p.m.*

Clark stared in shock as the policemen took H.G. Wells away in handcuffs. He couldn't understand why this old man had made the accusation that resulted in Wells' arrest, nor why the accusation was not extended to himself. The coroner had come and taken away the body of the young man who bore such a strong resemblance to him — 'My great-grandson!' Clark thought in baffled grief — and Elaine Kent, weeping, had led her grief-stricken daughter-in-law Lori to the bedroom. The police had quickly scanned the room with devices that Clark didn't recognize and then, much to his surprise, removed the 'crime scene' tape from the area. Jeremiah had assured the police that the sleigh-like contraption in the middle of the living room floor would be kept locked up until it could be impounded.

Finally, Clark found himself alone in the room with Jeremiah. There was something strangely familiar about the man's eyes, a look of evil that Clark suddenly recognized. The face was different — not just older but different — but no amount of plastic surgery could disguise the evil in the eyes. "Tempus."

"Duh!" The man looked at him in contempt.

"You know that H.G. Wells didn't kill … that young man," Clark stated firmly, unwilling to reveal his descendant's identity on the off-chance that Tempus didn't already know.

"No, Superman." Tempus smirked. "I killed that young man. What are you gonna do about it?" Before Clark could react to the man's brazen confession, Tempus once again produced the Kryptonite chess piece, watching with satisfaction as Clark crumpled to the floor. "You know, I had to call in a lot of favors to get my hands on this — do you have any idea how hard it is to find Kryptonite these days? You and that meddler at STAR Labs did a good job of getting rid of it — your great-grandson had no idea even what it was that killed him." He hefted the glowing rock in his hand as he advanced on Clark. "I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to do this a second time. Makes me feel like I've gotten my money's worth, you know?"

As Clark lapsed into unconsciousness, Tempus glanced at his watch. "Well, much as I'm enjoying watching you die, Superman, I do want to go get the baby before they come back for the time machine." He set the Kryptonite chess piece on the floor, carefully just out of Clark's reach lest he regain consciousness, locked the living room door, and climbed aboard the sleigh. "Nice thing about 20th century prisons — they try so hard to reform you. It's amazing how much one can learn in prison, including how to operate machinery." He took one last look at Clark. "Bye, Clark. I'll tell Lois you're dead!"

*Metropolis, June 16, 1997, 10:20 a.m.*

"He's your great-great-grandson?! Oh, my goodness, that makes him our great-great-great — I'm losing count here!" Martha laughed out loud with the sheer delight of knowing her son's fondest wish (after marrying Lois) would become reality. Then she clapped her hand over her mouth, stifling her laughter to avoid disturbing CJ. That young man, however, worn out from 20 minutes of screaming, slept on, oblivious to the three sets of bright eyes that turned his way.

Lois got up and walked over to the bassinet, watching CJ sleep. She lightly stroked the downy fuzz covering his head. A long, shaky breath later, she turned to Martha and Jonathan. "When Clark told me we couldn't have children, that Dr. Klein's tests said we were biologically incompatible, I thought my heart would break. Not just because Clark wants children so much, even though that's part of it — I want him to be happy — " she sniffed, struggling to retain her composure — "but for myself, too. I was ready, I was psyched up for it, being locked up with those kids turned on my maternal instincts or something, and it was like something inside me died.

"Then we got Daddy in on it, and I really wanted to believe that he would be able to fix it — if anyone could fix it, it should have been him." She shook her head. "But he couldn't find anything wrong with STAR Labs' data — Clark and I were talking about that when he heard CJ down in the living room. Clark said we live the impossible, and that if having a baby depended on love," her eyes began to shine with tears at the memory, "then that above all else should be possible for us. I wanted so much to believe him, but I guess I didn't — not really. And now all of the sudden we have proof, right here in this bed, that we can have kids — that we *will* have kids — and I'm so scared … "

"Oh, honey!" Martha rushed across the room to her, with Jonathan close behind. "You've got to learn to trust yourself — *and* Clark."

"Having kids isn't easy," Jonathan chimed in. "It's scary for anybody that faces it. But we'll be here for you, as long as you need us, and so will your parents. And Clark will-"

"Clark will go where he's needed," Lois said, trying to exude a calmness she didn't feel. "I knew that when I married him."

And for once, Martha and Jonathan didn't have words of reassurance for her.

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 10:10 p.m.*

"Lori, you shouldn't go in there!" Elaine Kent tried to stop her, but Lori pushed past her determinedly. Moments before, when they had discovered CJ was gone, Lori had been wild with grief. But then abruptly, she had dried her face and made her way downstairs.

"My husband is dead and my baby is missing — I have to figure out why and where he is, and I'm not going to do that sitting up in my bedroom crying. Why is the living room door locked?" She struggled with it a moment, then gave a short sigh of frustration and headed for the kitchen. A few minutes of digging through a small 'junk box' in the pantry yielded a ring of keys, one of which fortunately opened the living room door — Lori felt herself on the verge of trying to rip it off its hinges.

"But, dear, shouldn't you wait for Clark's grandfather? He's a reporter — he knows so much more about investigating than you do," Elaine protested. Pops had been there earlier, of course, then had dealt with his grief in the best way he knew how — by going to the Daily Planet to write and file the story of his grandson's death. When Lori and Elaine had discovered the empty crib, they'd called thePlanet, but Pops was away from his desk — they'd had to leave a message on his voicemail.

"I'm going to call him again," announced Elaine. She went into the kitchen, less willing than her daughter-in-law to enter the living room where her son had died.

"He'll be here as soon as he gets the message," said Lori, "but I'm not going to sit around waiting for him." Lori hesitated a moment in the doorway, then clenched her teeth and walked in. 'Steady, Lori,' she thought. 'They've already taken him away, all you have to do is look for clues — anything the police missed. What would kill Superman?' She moved cautiously into the room, although she could not have explained why the need for caution. It was not cold in the room, but she took her husband's coat off the coat rack, the heavy one his grandfather had given him, and wrapped herself in it, needing to feel him wrapped around her, keeping her safe.

A glowing green object in the middle of the floor caught her eye. "What's this — " Suddenly she tripped over the extended foot of the body sprawled the floor by the glowing chess piece … her husband … his face contorted with pain … his glasses knocked askew … his breath coming in shallow gasps … "No," she whimpered. "He's gone — they took him — you're not real!" Then the emotions of the day got the better of her, and she crumpled unconscious to the floor, landing in a heap beside her late husband's great-great-grandfather, oblivious to the breathing beside her which suddenly eased.

*Metropolis, June 17, 1997, 2 p.m.*

Lois sat at her computer, her shoulders hunched and aching, as she scanned AP reports for a report of a missing child. She knew where the child came from, but she had to put on a good show for Perry. Besides, being at the Planet gave her a much needed break from her child care activities. 'Let Martha handle him for a while,' she thought, unrepentant. 'That's what grandmothers are for!'

She had checked a parenting guide to help her determine CJ's probable age, based on his size and apparent abilities, and used that to determine how far back she should search — he was probably around six to eight weeks old, so she needn't search missing children reports further back than about mid-April. She had considered checking discreetly with Metropolis law enforcement and welfare agencies, but decided against it — the last thing she needed was for one of them to decide to take CJ away and put him in foster care.

"Ms. Lane?"

Lois looked up at the woman next to her desk, automatically hitting the clear screen macro on her computer. "Yes, how can I help you."

"Nancy LeClaire, Social Services. I understand you've got a foundling."

"Excuse me?" Lois knew what the woman meant, but at that moment playing dumb seemed like the smartest thing she could do.

"A foundling. A child left on your doorstep? You do know, of course, that legally any such child must be reported to our agency and placed in appropriate foster care until the parents can be found or other permanent arrangements can be made." Ms. LeClaire's smile belied the determination in her eyes.

Lois had been a reporter for too long to be fooled by the pleasant tone and apparently relaxed manner. She pushed down the feelings of panic, and spoke as calmly as she could. "Ms. LeClaire, there is a child staying at my house, but I can assure you he's not a foundling. He's-" Who? My great-great- grandson? She'll never buy that! "-my sister's baby."

"I see," said Ms. LeClaire, apparently not buying that either. Lois wondered if she'd heard the hesitation.

"Lucy got involved with … well, she's always getting involved with the wrong type of men … and this time she ended up pregnant, and she couldn't deal with it — like I can — Ha! — and she had to get back to the University for summer school, and so she left CJ with me, not that I mind, but of course I have a career too, my husband and I are busy people, so my husband's parents are staying with us for a while to help take care of CJ, until Lucy gets her act together and comes to get him."

"Well, it would appear, then, that we were misinformed," Ms. LeClaire said smoothly. She was rising to leave when Lois' phone rang.

Lois picked it up gladly. 'Maybe it'll be a real story! and maybe it'll get this person to leave!' "Lois Lane," she announced in her best I'm-a-busy-reporter-don't-waste-my-time voice.


"Hi, Martha — oh, wait, don't tell me you're calling *me* for help with CJ!" Lois quipped. In spite of her concern over her unexpected visitor, it was amazing what a few hours back at her 'real life' had done for her spirits and self-confidence. Now all she needed was a villain to expose and a Kerth-level story to tell, and she would be in seventh heaven.

"Lois, you need to come home right now!" Martha whispered urgently into the phone.

"Martha, you're the baby expert, what — "

"LOIS! Now! There's a man here who says he's come to take CJ away. He won't say who he is, but I don't like the look in his eyes."

Slamming down the phone, Lois whirled on the woman beside her. "Since when does Social Services snatch babies?" she demanded furiously. Without waiting for an answer, she grabbed her purse, shrugged off Nancy LeClaire's attempt to detain her, and raced for the door.

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 10:11 p.m.*

Clark shook his head, trying to clear it, as his consciousness slowly returned. In the last seconds before he had passed out, he had been sure he was going to die. What had saved him? He turned his head slowly, painfully, and saw a young woman lying unconscious on the floor beside him. He couldn't see the Kryptonite, but without its draining effect, he felt his strength returning rapidly.

As soon as he felt able, he sat up and tried to lift the young woman, thinking to put her on the sofa where she would be more comfortable. But the instant he raised her off the floor, the pain hit him again and he couldn't hold on to her. And then the pain was gone again.

Clark sat still a moment, regathering his wits and strength. Was she lying on top of the Kryptonite? But why would that stop it from hurting him? Unless there was something else over it which he had dislodged in lifting her … He tried his X-ray vision, expecting to see the floor under her and a blank spot that would be a lead lined package or box. Instead, he found he couldn't see through her at all.

Perhaps he was more injured that he realized. He began checking the other powers. Floating. No problem, although he didn't feel up to flying just then. Hearing. Yes, he could hear someone in the next room on the phone, whispering in urgent tones about someone named Lori. Strength. He lifted the couch briefly then set it back down. Breath. Blowing something over didn't seem like a good idea in here, but he could try freezing something. He searched the room, then spotted a glass on the table half full of water that had probably been ice, hours before. A quick puff of his breath and it was ice again. Okay, everything else is working; back to the eyes. Heat vision. He melted the ice he'd just frozen, carefully, so as to not melt the glass too. X-ray vision, one more time. He looked at and then through the wall, relieved to see an older woman, presumably the person he'd heard a moment before, talking on the phone.

He floated into a more comfortable position just above the floor and considered. The X-ray vision was working, so why couldn't he X-ray through her? He tried X-raying her foot and had no trouble going right through it to the floor, and through that to the plumbing below the foundation. Next her calves. Again, no problem. But at her knees, he ran into the hem of the greatcoat she wore and suddenly realized that was what he couldn't see through. 'A lead-lined coat? Hmm … '

Well, he couldn't help the young woman alone — someone else would have to help. The woman in the next room presumably was either a friend or a relative — he would call her. He eased to his feet and moved slowly, still a little unsteadily, across the room. At the door, he spoke quietly to the woman in the kitchen, who was still on the phone, hoping to not startle her. "Ma'am?"

"Clark!" she cried. She stared at him a moment, dazed, then turned back to the phone and the voice that buzzed soothingly in her ear. "I gotta go, Pops, Clark's back."

Ignoring the shocked, "What?!?", which Clark could hear even without superhearing, she dropped the phone and rushed across the room to fling her arms around his neck.

"Oh, my sweet boy! We thought you were dead!" She pulled away to drink in her son's beloved face, then her eyes narrowed suspiciously, and she pulled away from him altogether. "You're not my son!"

"No, ma'am, I'm not," he said gently, reaching out to steady her, as she threatened to collapse.

"Who are you?" she demanded, rallying. "Why do you look like my son?"

Before he could answer, there was a whoosh at the window — a sound Clark knew he made when he arrived somewhere in the suit, but hadn't heard since the day he met his alternate world self. An unfamiliar figure in a familiar suit dropped lightly to the ground.

"Pops!" the woman whispered, exasperation overriding her other emotions for the moment. "I thought you'd given up the suit!" She tried to pitch her voice low, but of course Clark heard her clearly. "You were the one who said, 'Superman doesn't age, just the men behind him.'"

"Well, Elaine, under the circumstances, it seemed appropriate." He turned to Clark, intending to demand an explanation, but the words died on his lips. After a moment, he sat down at the table, clearly shocked.

"He looks almost exactly like Clark, but he can't be!" said Elaine.

"He looks *exactly* like-" Superman shook his head. "That's even less possible," he muttered.

Finally Clark managed to shake out of his own shock at seeing someone else in his suit, of realizing who this man must be, and dragged his attention back to the most pressing issue at hand.

"Ma'am, sir," he broke in. "Who I am is going to take a little explaining, but it's more important right now that you help the young lady-" and he gestured toward the living room.

"Oh my! Lori!" Elaine gasped. She rushed to the living room and struggled to lift her daughter-in-law, who was slowly beginning to come to. "Well, don't just stand there," she commanded. "Help me lift her!"

Clark looked uncomfortable. "I can't, ma'am."

Superman looked at him with a mixture of disappointment and disapproval. "Well, I can."

Clark stopped him at the doorway. "There's Kryptonite in there."

Superman looked more baffled than ever. At that moment, Elaine helped Lori sit up, and the effects of the Kryptonite hit both men at once.

"The coat is lead-lined — put it in the coat," Clark gasped.

"What? Put what in the coat?" asked Elaine.

"Green — glowing — put it in the coat!" rasped Superman. "Hurry!" Beside him, Clark crashed to the floor, succumbing more quickly because of his previous exposure just minutes before.

*Metropolis, June 17, 1997, 2:20 p.m.*

The man was hardly adverse to killing people who hindered his plans, but he was very adverse to carrying around a poopy baby, and CJ had pooped at just the right moment.

Martha had managed to make enough of a production of the diaper changing, throwing in a bath for good measure, to give Lois time to get home. Lois rushed to the house, but at the last minute, instinct told her to tread softly. She eased in the front door and tiptoed down the hallway to the bedroom. Peeking around the door frame, she saw Martha grimly refusing to give CJ to a man with a gun.

The man had had enough of this. "Give me the baby," he demanded, "or I'll kill him in your arms."

Horrified, Martha handed over the baby, who immediately began to wail in the stranger's arm. Infuriated by the noise, the man raised his hand to whip the child into silence.

A sudden shriek, "Hi-YA!", drowned out even CJ's cries, and Lois' foot connected with the man's gun-hand. The gun went off, the bullet embedding itself harmlessly in the ceiling, then the gun clattered to the floor, where Martha scooped it up. She pointed itat the man.

The stranger ignored the gun, shaking his injured hand as he glared at the new arrival. "Lois. So nice to see you again — NOT!"

"Give me back my baby," Lois said.

"Oh, but it's not your baby, is it?" sneered the man.

"No, he's better — he's a promise of things to come!" Lois held her head up, determined not to let this man, whoever he was, see her fears.

"No doubts, Lois? No fears about your mothering abilities?" he taunted her. "You wouldn't want to raise him by yourself, would you? being so recently widowed and all … "

The blood drained from Lois' face as the implication of his statement hit her. Across the room, Martha gasped, "No! Oh, no!"

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 10:16 p.m.*

Elaine stared skeptically at the glowing chess piece in her hand. She considered asking why wrapping it in the coat was suddenly so desperately important — it seemed like a rather silly thing to do, actually. But the sight of her father-in-law staggering back to topple slowly over the table convinced her. She stuffed the chess piece in the coat pocket. "Better?" she asked. Neither man responded. Suddenly panicked, she tore the coat off Lori and rolled it tightly around the chess piece. Then she wrapped the coat in a plastic bag and taped it shut, to keep the bundle from unrolling.

The men slowly roused, shaking their heads.

"Oh, man, that hurt," groaned Clark.

Superman pulled himself up stiffly onto a chair, and contemplated the apparently younger man lying on the floor. "Who are you," he whispered, "and why do you look so much like my father?"

Clark sat up, then levered himself painfully up into a chair opposite Superman, considering how best to explain. "If you are … let's see … CJ's great-grandfather? then I *am* — will be — your father."

Superman gave a short, disbelieving laugh, and Elaine said, "Young man, do you have any idea how nuts that sounds?"

Clark grinned over at her. "What? to be looking at a man old enough to be my grandfather — "

"Gee, thanks," muttered Superman.

" — and saying he's my son? Very nuts, especially considering Lois and I have just been told we can't have kids. Speaking of which," he turned to Lori, "you must be CJ's mother — is he missing yet?"

"Excuse me?"

"I'm sorry — that's not a very tactful way of asking it, but it's important: Is your son upstairs or is he missing?"

"He's missing," Lori admitted reluctantly. "Do you know where he is?"

"He's with Lois," he assured her.

"With Lois," Elaine interjected, more skeptical than ever. "*Mamaw* Lois, who died 20 years ago while Clark was still practically a baby?"

Clark chewed on his lower lip a moment. Now was not the time to get stressed about the rate-of-aging issue, although he wasn't exactly a baby even now … no, wait, they must be talking about Lori's husband, who was apparently also named Clark.

"Mamaw Lois is dead — are you telling me my baby is dead?" Lori's voice rose hysterically, interrupting his thoughts. "Is that what you're telling me? My baby — "

"No-no-no — he's fine," Clark broke in desperately. "He's fine — please don't cry!" He raked his hands through his hair, frustrated. "I'm not doing a good job of explaining this. Ma'am, CJ is fine, we'll get him back to you as soon as we can."

Lori choked down her tears and Elaine bit her tongue, each struggling to understand this stranger who looked so achingly familiar and spoke in such confusing terms. Superman stared at the stranger and said, "Okay, explain this to us. Let's go back to the beginning — who are you?"

"I'm Clark Kent — " he heard Lori sob at the name, but pushed on — "son of Jonathan and Martha Kent — well, they adopted me. My birth parents were Jor-El and Lara, of the planet Krypton."

Superman was shaking his head. "Not possible — my father died years ago. How could you be him?"

"H.G. Wells brought me from the past to correct something that's gone wrong — "

"H.G. Wells?" asked Elaine.


"The writer."


"Who *died* over a hundred years ago — again with the dead people — what is it with you and dead people?!?"

"Elaine — let him finish," Superman said sharply.

"Pops, he's talking nonsense!" she protested.


Elaine fumed silently, then her eyes widened as Clark rose off the chair, folding his legs beneath him as he floated across the room towards her.

"Please let me help," he asked simply.

Through all this, Lori's eyes were darting about unseeing as she searched her mind for a memory. "You're the prince!" she suddenly exclaimed. "You're here to save my Clark!"

Clark blinked. "Excuse me?"

Lori began to laugh. "I don't believe it — the story was true and it's about Clark and me!"

Now all three of the others were staring at her. "I'm sorry, you lost me there," said Clark finally.

"My husband Clark says his great-grandfather, Papaw Clark, used to tell him a story about a wicked time traveler and a good time traveler, and the prince and princess who traveled through time to save a baby named CJ. That's part of the reason we called our baby CJ, because Clark always loved that story so much — but we always thought it was just a story."

Once upon a time, there was a mommy and a daddy who had a brand new baby that they loved very, very much. They had wanted a baby very badly, and they were *so* happy to have him. They named him CJ.

One day, a wicked time traveler came to their house when the mommy was away, and he tried to hurt the daddy, because he wanted to steal Baby CJ. But then a good time traveler rescued Baby CJ. He took Baby CJ to the prince and princess for them to take care of him.

But the prince and princess didn't just take care of Baby CJ. They came with the good time traveler and rescued the daddy, too. Then they killed the wicked time traveler and gave Baby CJ back to his mommy and daddy, and they lived happily ever after.

"My dad was a great storyteller," grinned Superman. He looked over at Clark who, during Lori's story, had put his legs down and stood next to her. "You're really him, aren't you?" Superman stood and walked slowly over, unaccustomed tears forming in his eyes. "Dad — I never thought I'd see you again!"

Clark let out a shaky laugh, still a little overwhelmed at seeing this old man who was — would be — his son. The men embraced gruffly, then Clark pulled back a bit. "I'm not yet accustomed to being called 'Dad'," he chuckled, shaking his head.

"I can't imagine calling you anything else," warned Superman, "so I hope you're not fixing to say 'Call me Clark'."

"Okay." Clark grinned.

"And my name is — "

"Stop! Don't say it! If you don't mind … well … I think I'd rather call you Pops, like they do." Clark nodded toward the two women. He shrugged a little sheepishly at Superman's puzzled look. "There's something kinda special about choosing a name for your kid — I don't want to miss that!"

Pops chuckled. "You used to call me Pops sometimes when I was a kid — now I know why!"

Finally Elaine relaxed. "I remember you telling me that." She smiled, then turned to Clark. "I'm sorry for not believing you before — it's great to see you again, Papaw."

Clark grimaced. "*Papaw*? Now that's a name I'm gonna *have* to nip in the bud. Can you call me Clark? or- or- CK? That's what Jimmy calls me."

Elaine smiled again and nodded, but before she could say anything, Lori broke in. "CK, you said my baby is with Mamaw Lois … um … LL?"

Clark grinned, making a 'whatever' gesture with his hand, and Lori continued, her voice dropping to a whisper. "And in the story, the prince saved CJ's daddy — but he's already dead." She struggled to keep her voice steady on the words that broke her heart to say.

Clark X-rayed into the living room briefly to confirm what he already knew. "Tempus has taken the time machine — "

"Tempus?!" exclaimed Pops. "What's he got to do with this?"

"He's the 'wicked time traveler'," explained Clark. He turned to Lori. "He's the one that killed your husband and accused H.G. Wells — I think you called him Jeremiah?"

"That's impossible — Jeremiah is the sweetest- What am I saying?! *You* are impossible, but you're here." She began to pace, wringing her hands. "He was my friend — I invited him here — this is all my fault! Clark's dead and it's all my fault!"

As Elaine rushed to comfort Lori, Pops turned to Clark. "You said he took the time machine," he said grimly, "which means you're stuck here and he's-?"

Clark started to shrug helplessly, but then his eyes widened in realization. "He's in my time, with Lois," he whispered.

*Metropolis, June 17, 1997, 2:25 p.m.*

Lois stared woodenly at the man. "No," she whispered. Then she looked at the baby he held, and suddenly began to laugh. "'No' is right," she stated firmly. "My husband is *not* dead."

"Well, they say hope springs eternal, especially in the galactically stupid-" began the man.

"In which case, you should be springing leaks," declared Lois. "If my husband were dead, that baby would have disappeared — Duh! You're really not up on time travel paradoxes, are you? So now who's galactically stupid?" And with that, she launched herself at him, pummelling his unoccupied shoulder. Meanwhile, Martha, who had put down the gun and sneaked up behind him into Lois' line of sight, relieved him of the baby.

With his arms suddenly free, the man was on the verge of overwhelming Lois when she abruptly boxed his ears and brought her knee up into his groin, and he went down with a gasp.

As she sat on him, looking around wildly for something to tie him up with, a time window opened up and a familiar figure stepped through.


"Yes, Ms. Lane. I am flattered you remember me."

"Hasn't exactly been *that* long." The stranger started to squirm under her, trying to get away, and she bounced on him, knocking the wind out of him again. "Be still!" she commanded.

"Hmm … no, I suppose for you it has not," Andrus said placidly. "I am glad to see that you've managed to subdue Tempus." He produced a length of rope and helped her tie the man up.

"This is Tempus?" Lois asked in disbelief. "Well, I knew he wasn't Social Services, not with that gun." She grabbed her captive by the hair, ignoring his protests, and turned his head so she could see his face. "Doesn't look like Tempus," she decided, dropping his head with a thump back on the floor. "Besides, Tempus is still in jail — that was the first thing I checked when all this started.

"Yes, well, this is a future version of Tempus. Against the advice of some less informed members of the Time Council, he was allowed to serve out his sentence in this time, carefully monitored for any attempts at escape. Soon after his release in 2027, we picked him up and returned him to the proper time, fully aware that he had not been rehabilitated, but needing to let history run its course."

"Yadda, yadda, yadda," complained Tempus. "Enough with the exposition … can we get *on* with this?"

"Hmm … well, we've got some things to set right before completing the extradition process."

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 10:25 p.m.*

"What makes you think Tempus is in your time?" asked Pops.

Clark turned to Lori. "In the story, you said the prince *and* princess traveled through time?"

"Yes … ?" Lori sounded puzzled.

"Then Lois should be arriving here in the time machine any minute — " the floor started to shimmer — "now."

A second later, a bizarre rippling effect washed across the living room floor, and the time machine shimmered into existence. Clark and Pops watched through the wall as Lois climbed out, followed by Andrus.

"Out here, Lois," Clark called.

Lois whirled at the sound of his voice and rushed to the kitchen. "Clark!" she cried, flinging herself into his arms. "Tempus tried to tell me you were dead," she gasped between kisses, "but I knew it couldn't be true — I just knew it!"

"He tried," Clark started to respond, but a soft sob interrupted him.

"I want *my* husband!" Lori wept against Elaine's shoulder.

Lois turned at the sound and crossed the room with quick steps. "You must be CJ's mother," she said softly.

The other woman nodded. "Is he all right?" she asked tearfully.

"He's fine," Lois assured her. "I left him with Clark's parents — he's a handful!!"

Despite herself, Lori grinned a little at that. "He can really yell, too, when he gets in the mood."

"Tell me about it," responded Lois dryly.

Before she could continue, an uncharacteristically timid touch on her shoulder attracted her attention. She faced the man in the supersuit, gasping a little as she realized who he must be.

"Mom?" he asked.

She laughed suddenly. "Boy, there's a mind-blowing question if I ever heard one!" Her infectious laughter broke the ice, and everyone relaxed a little. She reached up to stroke a recalcitrant lock of hair off his forehead, feeling as if she knew him even though they had just met. "I have a feeling I'm going to love being your mom."

Overcome with emotion, Pops swept her into his arms. "Oh, Mom, I've missed you!"

After a moment, Lois pulled away patting his arm as she scrubbed briefly at her own eyes. "Enough of that," she said a little gruffly. "We've got work to do." She reached down and took his hand, holding it up for her inspection.

"Lois, what are you doing?" asked Clark in amazement.

"Counting his fingers. I'm going for the toes next." She grinned impishly. "Isn't that what new mothers do?"

"Mom!" Pops protested, laughing.

"Okay, okay, I'll stop. Besides since I've been told I dangle like an hors d'oeuvre over the jaws of death," she grimaced at the unwelcome description, "this may be my one chance to get to know you — especially you," she added, nodded to Lori. "No point wasting time on silliness."

Andrus had been watching all this quietly from the living room door. He kept a hand firmly on the rope tying Tempus' hands, preventing him from working himself loose. Now he cleared his throat and spoke up. "Best not to say too much," he warned. "You wouldn't want to alter your future by knowing too much about their past. Or is it your … past … no … ?" and he trailed off, frowning, confused.

Lois rolled her eyes. "The man makes me wonder sometimes," she muttered.

Pops patted her arm, grinning. "Actually, he's probably right, at least about the not telling too much. Dad's already said he doesn't want to know my name, so you and he can enjoy naming me yourselves. I just have to trust that you'll get it right … " he sighed in mock-despair. As Lois chuckled, he continued, "And you'll have plenty of time to get to know me, anyway. You stopped 'dangling' — oh, a good twenty years before you- well, before you and Dad … died." He looked away, staring at a photo on the wall.

As Lois followed his gaze, Elaine piped up. "Boy, now that was a blow," she said. "Losing both of you like that, barely a week apart."

Lois walked slowly over to the photo, recognizing herself and her husband in the elegant, elderly couple pictured. She turned to him now, her eyes wet with tears even as she smiled, and he crossed the room quickly to hold her.

"So much for that worry," he whispered against her hair. "Virtually identical lifespans, aging at the same rate." He was suddenly aware of the others staring at them, puzzled, and waved a hand, dismissively. "Just something we'd … wondered about," he said vaguely, and Lois hugged him a little harder, glad he didn't feel the need to elaborate.

And yet … she turned to Andrus, drawing him out of his reverie. "Actually, though, I'm kind of surprised you aren't saying, 'no, don't tell them that!' You stopped the conversation before when it got … well … too revealing."

Andrus smiled gently. "The future is a fragile thing, Ms. Lane," he commented. "Always shifting, always changing."

Clark nodded. "Tempus could just as easily have succeeded in killing me earlier … uh … I mean, later … or-" He sighed. "You know what I mean."

"So you're saying we're seeing one version of the future?" asked Lois. "That this is not necessarily the way things are going to happen?"

"Something like that," agreed Andrus.

"Well, this is certainly the version I prefer," she said firmly.

"I wish I could have gotten a hold of Charlie and the others at the Conference," Elaine fretted. "They would have loved to see you."

"Charlie?" asked Lois.

"My husband," said Elaine, smiling. "Your grandson."

Andrus, apparently giving up trying to sort out the vagaries of time travel paradoxes, spoke up again, interrupting what was developing into a serious family reunion. "I understand that H.G. Wells was imprisoned for the crime committed by Tempus. We can start by arranging for him to be released. Then we'll need to hop back in time a few hours and find some way to prevent this murder from happening in the first place."

"You can do that?" breathed Lori, barely daring to hope.

"Oh, yes," Andrus assured her. "Indeed, it is absolutely critical, although-"

"Actually," Lois interjected smoothly, "I have an idea for how to handle things once we get there." She outlined her plan and everyone agreed that it was a good one. Everyone, that is, except Lori.

"Oh, it's a good plan," Lori admitted. "But I'm going with you."

"Lori, we don't know if this will work-" Clark ignored his wife's mock-outraged poke in the side and continued, "It would be tough on you to watch your husband die if we can't prevent it."

"CK, this is my husband we're talking about here — my life." Lori stepped closer, looking firmly from Clark to Lois and back. "I have to go — I have to help — I can't just sit here!"

"Give it up, honey," Lois chuckled. "Seems our great-grandson married a girl as-"


"I was going to say *strong-willed* as I am." Lois poked her husband again.

"Yes, dear." Clark winked at Pops, then stage-whispered, "The two most important words for a married man to know — 'yes, dear'."

"You behave yourself, or I'll leave you here," Lois threatened, reaching up and kissing him lest anyone think she was serious. "Then where would you be, huh?"

"Lonely," declared Clark, kissing her back. "I'll behave!"

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 8:45 p.m.*

Returning to the chess board after talking on the phone with Pops, Clark couldn't seem to shake a feeling of dread. After a few minutes of watching Clark stare blankly at the chess board, Jeremiah broke the silence.

"Everything okay?"

Not wanting to mention his concerns about Eva until necessary, Clark looked up and politely smiled. "Yes, everything's fine." Moving his queen to threaten Jeremiah's king, he announced, "Check."

Jeremiah searched the board for his next move, intent on making the proper defense. He was reaching for his pocket when Lori suddenly stepped into the room. "Looking for this, Jeremiah?" she asked coldly, holding up the little carrying case she had retrieved from the future Tempus. Its deadly contents had been removed and disposed of before they traveled in time.

Jeremiah stared at her in shock, then reached for his pocket again, only to find it empty.

"Or maybe for this, *Tempus*?" Lois spat from behind, holding up the carrying case she had picked from his pocket a few seconds before.

Tempus whirled around, struggling to maintain his charade as his plan crumbled around him. "I- I- I can't imagine what you're talking about," he stammered. "I have no idea-"

"Drop the act, Tempus," said Clark (the original) walking into the room. "It's over."

Clark (the great-grandson) stood up, looking in confusion at the new arrivals. He finally focussed on his wife, who was struggling to hold back her tears as she gazed at him. "Lori, what's going on? What's wrong?" He hurried to her side and wrapped his arms around her. "Sh-sh, don't cry, sweet."

He turned to the others. Andrus and H.G. Wells had entered the room and were tying up Tempus. "Would someone please tell me what's going on? Lori, who are these people? Why are they tying up Jeremiah?"

Before anyone could answer him, Tempus looked straight at Clark and shouted, "Superman! Help me! I think they intend to kill me!"

Clark tensed, trying to find a way to help his friend, and in that instant of hesitation, CK spun into Superman and moved to Clark's side.

"Well, well," Superman drawled. "The man who devoted his life to destroying Superman suddenly needs his help." He turned to Clark, dropping the sarcastic tone and speaking earnestly. "Look at him," he commanded. "Look into his eyes and tell me what you see."

For a long moment, Clark stared, almost uncomprehending, at Superman. Then he turned to face his chess partner and seemed to compare what he'd seen in Superman's eyes to what he found in Tempus'. As Tempus began to squirm under the unrelenting gaze, Clark started to turn away. Tempus began to struggle wildly, seeming determined to make a break for it. Clark, being slightly closer, helped hold him as Andrus administered a sedating shot.

The last bits of Tempus' mask of civility and innocence melted away. In its place was a look of pure rage. "NO!!" he shouted, and then the sedative took effect and he slumped to the floor.

Clark turned again to Superman. "I don't think I can describe it, but he's not what or who I thought he was. I don't know how I know, but he's not … a friend. I had thought it was just the competition, the chess game, but it's more than that. It's something … evil … like I said — hard to describe."

As he said those words, Lori faded to nothing in his arms. "Lori? Lori!" he cried. He whirled toward Superman. "Where did she go? What happened to my wife?!?!"

"That was Lori from the future," H.G. Wells answered. "Lori your widow, from a future in which Jeremiah, or Tempus, which is his real name, succeeded in killing you. Once you recognized that he was a danger to you, the possibility of him killing you, at least for now, vanished, and so that Lori ceased to exist."

Superman looked at and through the front of the house. "*Your* Lori, on the other hand, who doesn't know that anything happened, is standing out on the front sidewalk. With your mother," he added, grimacing, "which means I'll have to convince her all over again."

"And you? Who are you?"

Superman thought a moment, then said with a wry smile, "I'm the, uh, prince who traveled through time to rescue you and keep Baby CJ safe."

Clark's eyes widened. "The story was true?"

"The story was true. Did I do a good job of telling it to you when you were a little boy?"

This was one revelation too many for Clark, and he staggered, clutching a chair for support. "Papaw?" he whispered. And then, "Papaw!!" he shouted, flinging his arms around the other man's neck. Then just as abruptly, he pulled back. "But you're dead!" he exclaimed. "Am I dead, too?"

"You don't sound dead to me," said Lori, as she walked into the room with Elaine close on her heels. Seeing her husband standing next to Superman, she stopped in her tracks and gasped. After a moment, she moved closer, hesitantly, looking quickly back and forth between the two men. Blinking, she finally focussed on her husband and hazarded a guess: "You have a twin brother you just … forgot to tell me about?"

"None that I know of," snapped Elaine. She stood, arms akimbo, staring at Superman. "So who are you?" she demanded.

"He's Papaw," said Clark, before Superman could respond. "Did Mamaw come, too?" he asked, an almost child-like delight shining in his eyes.

Superman gestured to Lois.

"Papaw? Mamaw?" asked Elaine. "What are you talking about?"

"Mamaw," Clark breathed, crossing the room to Lois.

"Are you starting to feel ancient?" Lois asked Superman, as she returned Clark's hug.

"I'm starting to feel that we're going to have a wonderfully happy family." He grinned at her.

Meanwhile, Lori had noticed Tempus on the floor and hurried to his side. "What's wrong with Jeremiah?" she asked. She looked at Andrus and H.G. Wells, who stood on either side of him. "Who are you people? Why aren't you helping him? He's hurt — " Then she suddenly realized, " — and tied up! What's going on?"

Elaine was getting tired of being ignored. "Clark Kent, you come over here right now and explain to me what's going on here." Lori almost grinned at seeing her husband being ordered about by his mother like a rebellious 10 year old, but she was still too perturbed by the sight of 'Jeremiah' tied up on the floor, apparently being guarded by two strangers, to be truly amused.

Superman had started to respond to what was, after all, his name too, then caught himself. "While you explain it to them, I'm going to get comfortable," he announced. "Excuse me." And he whirled out of the suit and back into the jeans and T-shirt he had been wearing earlier. A moment later, when he put on his glasses, he was almost indistinguishable from his great-grandson. But even as the women in the room marveled over this fact, both supermen were tilting their heads, listening. As one, they flew to the living room window — one opened it and the other collared the startled photographer hiding in the bushes outside.

Clark Kent (Lois couldn't tell at first which one) hauled the young man up and held him a few inches off the ground. "Who sent you?" he demanded in his fiercest tone. And, remembering a similar scene from early in their relationship, Lois knew that was her husband talking.

"N-n-nobody," stammered the photographer, frightened.

"Hey — I know you," the other Clark exclaimed. "You're that new kid at the Daily Planet that Pops was telling me about. Put him down, Papaw, it's all right. What's your name, again?"

"Tommy," answered the young man, still shaking a little as his feet touched the ground.

"What were you doing outside the window?" growled his assailant.

"Getting the story." Tommy seemed to be regaining his confidence. "My grandfather was the best photographer the Daily Planet ever had, and he got a note — told me if I came here tonight, I would get the story of a lifetime — and I did — wow!!!"

CK turned to his great-grandson. "You'll have to get Pops to kill that," he whispered urgently.

The younger Clark looked thoughtful. "Oh, I don't know. The world has changed a lot, Papaw. Maybe it's time for people to meet the man — or men — behind Superman."

"WHAT?!?" exclaimed Lois. "You can't do that! You'll make your wife and child a target for every villain out there!"

"Not that many villains out there anymore, Mamaw," said Lori softly, moving to her husband's side. "Superman's had a good effect on the people of Metropolis and the world."

"A president from your time once called for a 'kinder, gentler' America," said Clark, wrapping an arm around Lori's shoulders. "In a lot of ways, we live in a kinder, gentler *world*. I can't imagine what life would be like for you, constantly dealing with … " He looked over and down at Tempus, and suddenly realized that, even somewhat sedated and securely tied, the man was trying to crawl to the door.

CK sighed noisily. "Boy, you never give up, do you?" In a blur of motion, he stood in front of the man, blocking his way. CK reached down and grabbed the back of Tempus' belt, hefting him like a piece of luggage. "I envy you," he said to Clark, ignoring Lois' giggle at the way he held on to Tempus. "Must be nice to deal just with- what? Natural disasters? Kittens in trees?"

Clark chuckled. "Well, we do still have some crime," he admitted. "But most of it is non-violent crime — fraud, uh … electronic theft … The sort of thing Pops fights at the Daily Planet more readily than I can in the suit."

Lori looked fondly up at her husband. "You know this would solve the problem of your running for office," she commented.

"What was the problem?" asked Lois.

"People had started suggesting Superman should run for President," said Clark, grinning but a little embarrassed.

"Oh, it was wild!" broke in Elaine. "There were buttons and stickers everywhere you looked — "SUPERMAN FOR PRESIDENT!" — he would have won by a landslide."

"But the Constitution says the President has to have been born in the U.S., and everyone knows Superman is from Krypton … " finished Clark.

"But you're not from Krypton, *I* am," protested CK.

"Yeah, but they don't know that. And Dr. Clark Kent, professor at MetroU, doesn't have the national recognizability that Superman does to get elected."

Tommy had been quietly writing all this down. "So where were you born?" he asked.

Clark turned, startled — he momentarily forgotten about their visitor. "I was born in Smallville, Kansas," he said. "I'm a third generation American." He thought a second then chuckled. "Make that Krypto-American!"

CK turned to Lois, grinning. "Well, honey, how do you feel about going to Kansas to have our baby?"

"It's something we'll have to talk about, *honey*," she retorted. "As soon as we figure out how to actually *have* a baby."

Clark looked from one to the other. "Haven't pinned down your cycle yet, huh?" he asked in a commiserating tone. "It took Lori and me ages-"

"*Cycle*?" asked CK. "*I* have a cycle?"

As Clark nodded, a little confused, Andrus broke in. "I'm sorry — I really must insist that you not say anything more on that subject, Mr. Kent," he said firmly. "I'm afraid any further revelations will alter the time stream, rather than just putting it back on course."

"Excuse me?" exclaimed Lois. "What happened to 'the future is a fragile thing, Ms. Lane'?"

"You did say this is the future you would prefer, didn't you?" Andrus asked, the gleam in his eye belying the severity of his tone.

"Well … yes … " said Lois.

"In any case," said H.G. Wells, "the decision of where 'Pops' is to be born is not one you'll have to make for a while — he is, after all, the youngest of your children." His eyes twinkled mischievously.

"The *youngest*?" echoed Lois incredulously.

"Of our *children* — plural?" asked CK, delighted.

"How many children?" asked Lois suspiciously.

H.G. waggled a finger at them. "No, no, no, that would be telling! But you're right about one thing, Mr. Kent." He beamed. "You're going to have a wonderfully happy family." As they reached over to hug each other, H.G. took out a pocket watch and looked at. "Well, I believe it's time now for us to go and get CJ," he said.

"Get CJ?" asked Lori, suddenly suspicious. "What are you talking about? Clark, what are they talking about?"

"Sh-sh," Clark soothed her. "You were asking before about Jeremiah."

"I don't-"

"Jeremiah was going to try to steal CJ."


"It's okay — they stopped him." Clark started to gesture to Andrus and H.G. Wells, then said, "Well, actually it was Mamaw and-" he broke off, unwilling to tell her about the murder which had been averted — why hurt her with that knowledge?

"Your wife deserves to know the whole story," said his great- grandfather quietly.

Clark stared at CK a moment, then nodded. "You're right," he acquiesced.

"*After* I go check on CJ," Lori insisted, turning toward the door. A hand on her arm stopped her.

"He's not up there," said Lois. "H.G. Wells took him back to our time for safekeeping. That's what he meant when he said it was time to go get him."

"But you're here — who's taking care of him?"

"The best parents in the world," said CK, smiling. "*Mine*."

Lori stared at CK a moment, and then something seemed to click into place. "You're the prince and princess," she looked over at her husband, "from the story we named CJ for." Clark nodded in confirmation. She turned then to H.G. Wells. "And you're the good time traveler — wow! H.G. Wells!"

He smiled and bowed slightly. "At your service, madam."

Lori looked finally at 'Jeremiah'. "Which leaves you in the role of the wicked time traveler, I guess. I trusted you — invited you into my home — " Words failed her then and she walked back to her husband's arms, laying her head on his shoulder. Then suddenly she jerked upright again. "Eva!" she exclaimed. "He took Eva's place — did he-?" The look in her husband's face confirmed her worst fears for her friend. "Oh, no … no!" She crumpled back into his arms, sobbing.

"I'm sorry, sweet," he whispered. "I just found out this evening." A thought suddenly struck him and he turned to H.G. Wells. "Can you go back and save her, too?" he asked.

Lori looked up, hope dawning in her eyes as H.G. Wells nodded, then fading as Andrus shook his head.

"He could," Andrus said, "but it would do no good. This was the one thing that Tempus didn't alter much — if he had left her alone, she would have been killed a few moments later when she was struck by a car — she apparently crossed the street without looking and walked right in front of it."

"Oh, Eva," Lori wept, burying her face in her husband's shoulder.

The others watched in silence as the young couple grieved for their friend. After a moment, Andrus activated his time window, and CK helped him put Tempus through it, still securely tied. "Eva's murder will go unsolved for a few years, but fortunately, even in our time, there is no statute of limitations on murder. He will be tried and kept where we can keep very close tabs on him from now on." He shook hands all around and departed.

H.G. Wells tapped CK's shoulder. "Perhaps if we were to get CJ now, it would help ease their pain a bit," he murmured, and CK agreed.

*Metropolis, June 17, 1997, 4:00 p.m.*

"We checked with Lucy Lane, and she insists she has no children," said Nancy LeClaire. She tried to move around Jonathan Kent, who stood firmly between her and Martha, who held CJ. "Since he is obviously not who Mrs. Kent said-"

"Her name is Lane, not Kent, and you are not taking this baby!" declared Martha.

Just then the floor began to shimmer.

"What the-?" Nancy's eyes widened as the time machine quivered into existance before her.

Lois popped up off Clark's lap and virtually bounced over to Martha, holding out her arms to take CJ. "Hello, baby," she cooed. "Are you ready to go home to your mommy?"

Taking advantage of the others' distraction, Nancy tried to step in and take the child as he was transferring from Martha's arms to Lois'. "Lying to Social Services is a federal offense, Ms. *Lane*," she said, grabbing CJ's arm.

Lois tried to slap the woman's hand away. "You! What are you doing here?"

"Doing my job," Nancy insisted. "This is not your sister's child, and this is not an approved foster home — I have a temporary restraining order making this child a ward of the state until such time as he can be returned to his parents."

"Which is what we're in the process of doing." A long arm in blue Spandex gently but firmly moved Nancy away from her tug-of- war with Lois.

"Superman!" she gasped.

"We have identified the baby's parents," he assured her kindly, "and are in the process of returning him right now." He led her to the door. "I really appreciate your dedication to your job," he said, smiling warmly.

Nancy melted, giddy, blushing like a schoolgirl at his praise. "I- I- thanks-" she stammered.

"I'm sure you'll have a lot of paperwork to deal with getting the restraining order cancelled," he continued smoothly. "If you would be willing to let me, I'll see to it that the baby gets back to his parents, and that will save you a bit of trouble."

She nodded, blinking, trying to regain some semblance of professional demeanor. "Of course — thank you, Superman. If you don't mind-?"

He shook his head, still smiling. "No, problem — I'll be glad to help out."

"I'll take care of the paperwork this afternoon, then." She started out the door, then turned back. "Superman, are you by any chance free for dinner?"

*Metropolis, April 6, 2079, 9:00 p.m.*

"The nerve of her," Lois was saying as they popped back into existence in the future. "Standing in *my* living room, propositioning my husband!"

CK grinned up at her as she sat on his lap with the baby in hers. "Yeah, she was almost as persistent as you were!"

"CJ!" squealed Lori, rushing to the time machine. She almost snatched her baby out of Lois' arms.

Lois looked slightly discomfited as her great-grandson helped her alight. She rolled her shoulders a little, trying not to be bothered about returning the baby. Sensing her change in mood, CK moved quickly behind her, wrapping his arms around her.

"Ready to go home?" he asked.

"Yeah," she whispered back, her voice a little ragged. She walked over to where Elaine and Lori were cooing over CJ. "You take good care of him," she said, her eyes filling with tears.

Lori shifted CJ around to free one arm, unwilling to turn him loose altogether. "Thank you, Mamaw," she said, hugging Lois. "Thanks for keeping my baby safe."

"My pleasure," said Lois, hugging Lori back. She stroked CJ's downy head, watching him drift off to sleep in the security of his mother's arm. "It was nice meeting you, CJ," she whispered, leaning down to kiss his cheek. "I'm gonna miss you."

Elaine stood back, looking at her. "I'm still not sure who you are," she said finally, "but I guess I should thank you for- hell's bells, I don't even know what I should thank you for!"

Lois laughed. "Clark will explain it all once we're gone," she said. "It was nice to meet you, Elaine. I'm glad to know my … descendants — Ha! — have a taste for feisty women! It's not easy being Superman's wife, is it?"

Elaine softened a little under the other woman's compassionate gaze. "It gets easier," she said, "especially once he passes the suit on to the next generation."

"I guess I've still got that to look forward to," said Lois, smiling. She reached out tentatively and hugged Elaine, who returned the hug just as cautiously. Finally Lois turned to Clark, who was shaking his look-alike great-grandfather's hand.

"Mamaw, it was so great to see you again," he said, pulling her into a bear hug.

For once, Lois was at a loss for words. She hugged her great- grandson fiercely, then turned to watch CK take his leave of the others.

CK was too choked up to talk. He gathered Lori and the baby up in a gentle hug, kissed Elaine on the cheek, then hugged Clark. "You're a good man, Clark Kent," he finally managed.

"I had good role models," said Clark simply.

A flash from the photographer's camera grabbed everyone's attention. "Can I get a group shot before you have to go?" Tommy begged.

Laughing, they posed for him, and he snapped several shots. Suddenly Lois said, "Wait a minute — how did you say you knew to come here tonight?"

"My grandfather told me," Tommy replied. He dug into his camera bag and pulled out a yellowed envelope with the words "Jimmy Olsen — do not deliver before April 6, 2079" written in Superman's clear lettering.

CK took it looking at it for a moment, then grinned at his wife as he returned it. "Well," he said, "I guess if *Superman* gives it to the Daily Planet mailroom, we can be reasonably certain it won't get get delivered or read early."

He got into the time machine, pulling Lois into his lap, and H.G. Wells climbed in beside him. As the machine powered up, Lois and Clark took one final look at their descendants, waving and calling, "Goodbye! Take care!"

*Metropolis, June 17, 1997, 4:05 p.m.*

"So what happens to them now?" Once again Lois was talking as they traveled through time.

"Now Tommy writes his story, and Utopia begins," answered H.G. Wells. "Ironic, isn't it? Tempus served as a catalyst to create the very thing he was trying to destroy."

"What do you mean?" asked Clark, helping Lois up off his lap.

"Well, if Tempus hadn't tried to kill Clark … the other Clark … you wouldn't have needed to go forward in time, and there would have been nothing for the photographer to see. They might have carried on as they were indefinitely. But now-" he reached into his inside coat pocket and pulled out a newspaper. The headline screamed, "SUPERMAN REVEALED", and below it were photographs of Superman spinning back into Clark.

"So does he get elected president?" asked Lois.

"Who?" asked Martha.

H.G. just smiled, took the paper back, and settled back into his seat in the time machine. "Goodbye, Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent." He nodded to Martha and Jonathan. "Mr. and Mrs. Kent." He tipped his hat, and was gone in a shimmer of light.

Lois a short huff, then turned to her husband, the annoyance in her eyes giving way to a twinkle. "A cycle, huh?"

He grinned back at her. "That's what he said."

Lois looked over at her parents-in-law. "Martha, Jonathan, would you excuse us for a bit? Clark and I have some … research to do."


Characters in this episode are copyrighted by DC Comics, December 3rd Production and Warner Brothers. No infringement is intended in any part by the author or the Season 5 group, however, the ideas expressed within this episode are copyrighted (c) 1997 to the author.