By Anne Spear <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted March 1999
Summary: Tempus has two tricks up his sleeve in this delightful adventure: an alternate world for Lois (or is it Teri?) and a special bomb for Superman. How will they sort this one out?
This story is loosely based on an old Star Trek story. It got stuck in my head and wouldn't let me get to sleep until I started writing it. I want to thank both of my editors, Craig (at home) and Emily (online). As always, feedback is welcome.
It was almost 8:30 am by the time Lois Lane stepped out of the house and rushed toward her Jeep. She realized how unseasonably warm it was for late September. When she reached the car, she slipped out of her coat and tossed it onto the backseat of the vehicle. Once behind the wheel, she rushed off to work. Usually, her husband and partner, Clark Kent, would carpool with her, but he'd heard a cry for help around 7:00 and hadn't returned yet. As she stopped at the first red light, she started to go over possible reasons why Clark was not with her, if anyone asked. Since he'd been gone over an hour already, there was a good chance he'd meet her there.
When she reached the Daily Planet, she was surprised to find a parking spot right near the front door. She turned the car off and reached for her briefcase and purse while opening the car door. Suddenly, she felt a nudge at her side and heard a familiar, threatening voice, "Please leave those and step out slowly, Lois."
Turning, she recognized her assailant immediately. "Tempus," she stated, much calmer than she actually felt. "How did you escape THIS time?"
Does that really matter?" he asked. "Suffice it to say, I did and I'm back with another plan to rid the world of that do-gooder in blue. Now, out, if you please … or even if you don't please." Tempus laughed at his own joke. Lois stepped cautiously from the car, looking all around for some possible help. "Oh, don't bother looking for hubby. He'll be quite busy for a while with the bomb that I placed in the Federal Building. It went off at exactly 7:00 this morning, and, according to the latest news report, Superman is still helping to get survivors out of the wreckage."
"You are a twisted human being," Lois accused him.
"Definitely. This way, please." Tempus gestured toward the alley with his left hand, which was not holding the gun. He followed Lois as she headed for the alley. Once inside, she saw exactly what she expected to, another time machine. "You know the drill," Tempus said.
As she stepped up onto the platform, Lois's curiosity won. "Why me, Tempus? The last time we took this trip, you needed me to create that dimension's Superman and it backfired, so you couldn't possibly expect something like that again."
"Why Lois, maybe you're not as galactically stupid as I thought. No, you are not part of my plan, but you do have an annoying habit of getting in my way. So this time, I've decided to simply drop you someplace where you'll be out of my hair when my real plan to kill Mr. Goody-Two-Boots gets underway." Just then, Tempus started the machine, and the disorienting effect made it very difficult to think, much less talk.
The next thing she knew, Lois was in a parking lot of what appeared to be a movie studio. She wasn't sure where to go next, but she thought, <If I can just find a newspaper or something, maybe I can find out where and when I am.> As she started walking, she saw a newspaper machine up against one of the buildings. She rushed over to it and realized that she'd left her purse in the car when Tempus grabbed her. Well, at least she could see the front page through the window. The headline read 'Latest in Presidential Scandal' and the date was Wednesday, September 30, 1998. <Good,> she thought, <at least I don't have to worry about the time period being different.> She didn't recognize the by-line on the scandal story, though, and she thought she knew all of the staff writers for the L.A. Times.
As she was straightening up, she felt someone's arms go around her waist. Thinking that Clark had somehow found her, she turned with a huge smile on her face which promptly fell again. "Ching! What are you doing here? Where's Zara?"
"Very funny, Teri. That's the last time I ever do a guest spot on one of your shows. Is this a new outfit? I don't recognize it."
"Teri? Who's Teri?" Lois asked.
"You are, hon. Teri Lynn Hatcher, my wife of four years, mother of my child …"
Lois was speechless. All she could do was stare at this man whom she knew perfectly well was Lt. Ching from New Krypton, consort and protector of Lady Zara, Clark's first wife. <But he's insisting that I'm married to him?!?> Suddenly, she realized that he still had his hands on her hips. She grabbed his hands and pushed him away. "Let go of me," she demanded, finally finding her voice again. "What are you talking about? You know damn well my name is Lois."
"All right, sweetie. A joke is one thing, but this one's gone on far enough." He looked at her face and realized that she wasn't kidding. "Teri, it's me, Jon. Your husband. Don't you recognize me?"
"I am REALLY starting to get a headache," was all she could say. "Wait, did you say 'mother of your CHILD?'"
"Yes," Ching answered, cautiously. "Emerson Rose. She's 10 months old. Don't you remember any of this?"
"Should I?" Lois asked.
"C'mon," Ching said, taking her arm and leading her toward some parked cars. "I'm taking you to Dr. Kelley and get you checked out. Maybe this is some kind of delayed post-partum thing."
Lois didn't know what else to do, so she went along. He stopped at the passenger side of a red sports car and opened the door for her. She sat down, leaned her head back and closed her eyes. <Maybe this is all a dream,> she thought. <And now that I've realized it is, I'll wake up.> When she opened her eyes, Ching was turning the key to start the engine. <Okay, scratch the dream idea,> she thought, fastening her seat belt.
At the doctor's office, they only had to wait a short time before the nurse called, "Ms. Hatcher." Lois, of course, did not respond. Ching had to nudge her before she realized the call was for her. She went through the door which the nurse was holding open for her and followed the instructions to wait in the third room on the left. Once inside, she hopped up on the examining table and waited. After a few minutes, a middle aged man in a white lab coat came in.
"So, how are we feeling today?" he asked.
"I don't know about you, but I'm fine," Lois answered.
The doctor snickered. "Glad to see you still have your sense of humor. Now, what seems to be the problem?"
"I'm not having a problem," she answered, "but that man out in the waiting room keeps calling me by a different name and says we're married. If that's true, then why don't I remember it?"
"Do you remember the man?" the doctor asked while making a note on her chart.
"Yes, but he says that HIS name is different than I remember, too."
"I see. What was the last thing you do remember?"
"Getting out of my car at the Daily Planet, where I work." Lois decided to omit the part about Tempus. The rest of this was bad enough. Mentioning a time machine was sure to get her a private rubber room.
"Stay right here for a moment, please. I'd like to get another doctor to help me consult on your case," Dr. Kelley explained.
"What case?" Lois asked. "I feel fine!"
"I know, but I'd still like to get her opinion."
Dr. Kelley came back shortly with a slightly younger woman. "Teri, this is Dr. McFadden. She'd like to ask you a few questions," he explained.
"Please, don't call me that," Lois requested.
"What should we call you?" Dr. McFadden asked as Dr. Kelley left the room.
"My name is Lois, Lois Lane-Kent. My husband is Clark Kent, not that man out there. I live in Metropolis and I'm a reporter at the Daily Planet," Lois answered, letting out an exasperated sigh.
"I understand," Dr. McFadden said. "How long have you and Mr. Kent been married?"
"Just under two years. Next week is our anniversary."
"Congratulations," the doctor answered, pulling a chair out from under a desk. "The first two years are the hardest to get past."
"Really, I hadn't noticed," Lois said sarcastically.
"Do you have any children?"
"Well, according to Ching …"
"Don't tell me what you've been told," Dr. McFadden interrupted. "Only tell me what you know."
"In that case, no. We don't have any children. We're not sure if we even can."
Dr. McFadden made another note on her pad. "And how long have you worked for the Daily Planet?"
"Eight years," was Lois's answer.
"I see. Now, Ms. Lane, do you remember any recent injuries? A bump on the head or anything like that?"
"No. It's been very quiet lately."
"I guess your life is a little hectic," Dr. McFadden surmised.
"Usually, which is why I shouldn't be surprised by this craziness," Lois answered. "I just wish I knew what's happening."
The doctor rose and reached for the door. "I just need to check on something. Please wait here and I'll be right back."
After about twenty minutes, Dr. McFadden returned followed by Ching, and behind him was …
"Clark!" Lois cried, jumping off the table and wrapping her arms around his neck. "I knew you'd find me. I just knew it!!"
He sighed and peeled her arms off. "Please, Teri, there are no cameras running in here."
Lois was shocked. "What is it? What's wrong?"
Dr. McFadden stepped toward Lois. "You've had some sort of trauma, either physical or emotional, which has caused you to escape into the Lois Lane character …" she started.
"No," Lois shook her head. "I AM Lois Lane."
"Lois Lane is a comic book character which you played on TV," Ching explained. "The show lasted for four years, then it was cancelled, and you've gone on with your life."
"No," Lois refused to accept this. "Clark, tell them," she pleaded.
"I'm not Clark. My name is Dean. I played Clark and Superman, but it's over now. I even brought a copy of the cast list. C'mon, Teri. You know all of this," he answered, handing her a sheet of paper.
Lois stared at the paper in her hand. <This can't be happening,> kept going through her head.
Dr. McFadden took Lois's arm and turned her so that Lois was facing her. "I realize that this is painful, Teri. But you can't 'hide' as Lois forever. You have your own life and family to get back to …"
"No!" Lois screamed, pulling away from the doctor. She ran from the room crying. As she raced down the hall, she could hear Ching calling to her to come back, but she ignored him. She just had to get away from this place. Once outside, she continued to run, although she had no idea where she was going. Finally, she stopped and leaned against a building. She realized that she was still holding the list that Clark had given her. She started to read it but only knew half of the names on it.
Clark Kent/Superman…Dean Cain
Lois Lane…Teri Hatcher
Perry White…Lane Smith
Jimmy Olsen…Justin Whalin
She finished reading the entire list then angrily crumpled it up and tossed it at the nearest trash can. She stood up straight and started to walk again. She still didn't know what to do next. Somehow, she had to get back to her world and her Clark. <This is Tempus' doing,> she thought. <He chose this place because he knew that it would drive me crazy.> The sound of someone clearing his throat behind her broke into her thoughts. She stopped walking and turned around.
She recognized the man immediately. "Excuse me …" he started.
"I know," she interrupted him, putting her hands up, palms toward the man. "You're not really Mr. Wells. You're name is Terry Kiser and you just played him on television. I should just forget all this nonsense and get on with my life. Don't worry; I've already heard it."
"Well, actually, Miss Lane, I am H.G. Wells. When I realized that Tempus escaped again, I rushed to warn you, but arrived just in time to see you enter the alley behind the Daily Planet with him. I traced your patterns as quickly as I could."
"You're real!" Lois cried, hugging him. "You don't know how happy I am to see you!"
"Yes, well …" Mr. Wells started, slightly embarrassed. He disengaged Lois's embrace and directed her down an alley. "We need to get you back as soon as possible. My machine is this way." As they walked, he added, "I apologize that I didn't find you sooner. I wish you never had to see this dimension."
"I still don't understand why everything is so different. In that other world, Clark was still Clark, even though he wasn't Superman yet, and I was still me, lost in the Congo."
"Apparently, in this world, your lives were the subject of a television show, and your counterparts have different names. It was fate or coincidence that Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain, who look just like you and Mr. Kent, were chosen to play those roles."
"You knew about this world already?" Lois asked.
"Well, yes. After our trips through history, I decided to see what other versions existed. I also found a dimension where Superman gave up being Clark Kent and turned to crime. It was not a pretty sight."
"I really don't want to know," Lois admitted.
When they arrived at the time machine, Lois was all too eager to jump into the passenger seat while Mr. Wells explained that he would bring her back to seconds after she had left.
Back in Metropolis, Lois thanked Mr. Wells again and rushed to her Jeep. As she broke most speed limits to get to the Federal Building, she turned on the all-news radio station to get an update. Just as Tempus had said, the report told that Superman was still getting survivors out of the wreckage.
At the bomb site, Lois parked and ran toward the building. It looked like only Superman was going into the danger zone. Each trip, he would bring out as many victims as he could carry and hand them to rescue workers and firemen. Lois tried to move closer and get his attention, but she was stopped by a policeman. She tried to tell him who she was and that she had information for Superman, but he refused to listen. Finally, there was a gust of wind and Superman told the officer it was okay to let Lois pass. The policeman just shrugged and left to stop some photographers from getting in the way of the rescue workers.
Lois indicated the building. "Are all the survivors safe?" she asked.
"Yes, finally," he answered. "Now I need to see if there are any bomb fragments in order to see who did this."
"It was Tempus."
"What? How do you know?"
"He couldn't help but gloat when he tried to kidnap me this morning," Lois answered. "He set this as a diversion. But he also said that he has a plan to kill you."
"Knowing Tempus, he'll probably try to expose me while I'm in my other clothes," Superman whispered. "Right now, I have more important things to worry about. Why don't you go on to work and I'll catch up with you later."
"Fine," Lois answered, "but please be careful. We have no idea what his plan is, but it's sure to involve Kryptonite."
Just then, there was a cry from the wreckage as two members of the Special Crimes Unit Bomb Squad emerged. "We found another bomb and it's about to go off!" one yelled. Without a second thought, Superman flew into the building and out the other side with the bomb. He shot straight up into the sky, intending to get high enough to toss the bomb out of range. At about 200 feet, the bomb exploded in his arms. Luckily, it wasn't very powerful, so no other damage was caused. Unfortunately, it was filled with Kryptonite. Superman clutched his chest in pain and fell toward earth, unable to control his flight. He landed in Centennial Park, knocking down a tree or two in the process.
From the Federal Building, Lois saw the explosion as a flash of green light. Next, she realized that the spec falling back to earth was her husband. She rushed to her car and raced in the direction that he was falling. She tried to keep him in sight as she drove, but soon he was too low.
As she approached Centennial Park, she heard a commotion and, on a hunch, decided to check it out. Sure enough, she found Superman unconscious, surrounded by on-lookers.
One young man recognized Lois and explained that he'd already called for an ambulance. She thanked him and kneeled down next to Superman.
He looked like he was just asleep, but the "S" from his suit was completely gone from the explosion and there seemed to be pieces of green stone embedded in his chest and arms.
Lois fought to keep from crying. She never even heard the siren when the ambulance workers arrived with the stretcher. She got back into her Jeep and followed the ambulance to Metropolis General Hospital.
In the ER, it was very quiet. Most of the bomb victims had been sent to St. Clare's on the other side of town. Two doctors began working on Superman, while a third approached Lois. "Ms. Lane, I'm Doctor Alexander. We're going to need permission to operate. Does Superman have ANY family at all?"
Lois suddenly found it hard to talk. "No," she whispered. She cleared her throat before continuing in a normal voice. "My husband and I are the closest thing to family that he has. He and Clark are … like brothers."
"Well, perhaps your husband could sign the release form. Where is he?" the doctor asked.
"There's no way for me to contact him right now. I can sign it. Believe me, Superman is not going to sue your hospital," Lois answered.
"Fine. Please see the admitting nurse for the paperwork. I need to make sure an operating room is ready."
At the nurse's station, Lois filled out all the forms, but she left social security number and insurance carrier blank. As she handed it back to the nurse, she tried to explain that Superman doesn't have insurance but that she and Clark would be able to make payments, but the nurse wouldn't let her finish. "Don't worry about the cost. My sister works down in billing, and Superman saved her son when his school caught on fire last year. I can guarantee that invoice will mysteriously disappear."
Lois thanked her and went to sit in the waiting room. She suddenly realized that she still hadn't checked in with work yet. She called Perry and told him that Clark was still at the bomb site and she was at the hospital waiting for Superman to get out of surgery. She promised to call back as soon as they had any news.
Forty-five minutes later, Doctor Alexander returned and asked Lois to follow him. In the elevator, he explained that Superman was well enough to leave, but he had to take it easy for a few days.
Lois couldn't believe it. "He can leave already? An hour ago he was unconscious."
"I know," the doctor answered. "It was the most incredible thing anyone here has ever seen. As the surgeon removed each piece of shrapnel, it was placed in a lead-lined container. Suddenly, the wounds started to heal themselves! First the arms, which were not as severe, and then his chest just closed up … not even a scar! He has the most amazing healing abilities."
"The bomb never would have caused any damage to him if it hadn't been for the Kryptonite. Once the radiation was gone, his body repaired itself," Lois explained.
"Well, I'm just glad I was there to see it, because I would never have believed it otherwise."
Once the elevator opened, Doctor Alexander showed Lois to a door marked 'Recovery Room 2.' "You can see him while I draw up his release papers."
Lois opened the door slowly, not sure what to expect. Instead of lying weakly on a hospital bed, Superman was standing in the middle of the room with his back to her. When he heard the door close, he turned to see who had come in and his face broke into a huge grin when he realized it was Lois. He lifted a tattered edge of his suit and joked, "Mom's gonna kill me for ruining another one."
She burst into tears and ran into his arms. He put his arms around her and just held her quietly while she cried. He just knew that she'd been holding all this inside of her ever since the explosion. She was the type to remain strong and in charge during any crisis, but now that she'd seen that he was all right, all the flood gates opened. Soon, she stopped crying and backed away a step. "The doctor just went to get your release papers," she informed him. "You'll be able to leave soon."
"Good," he answered. "I'm starting to go stir crazy in here."
Later that same day, after Clark had gone home to change his clothes, and he and Lois were on their way to the Daily Planet. "I really wish you'd stayed home today," Lois argued. "I realize I'm being a nag, but Dr. Alexander DID say you should take it easy for a while."
"Compared to this morning, going to work WILL be taking it easy," Clark answered. "Besides, you already told Perry that I was at the bomb site, so now I have to write the story."
"You could have written the story on your laptop and e-mailed it to Perry from home."
"And what reason would I give for not going in today? I promise, no exertion for the rest of the day. Now, can we please just drop it?"
"Fine," Lois gave in for once. "What about Tempus?"
"Near as I can figure, he set the second bomb, thinking that I would still be in the building when it went off. The building would have collapsed further and I'd have been buried with the Kryptonite. By the time rescue workers could get to me, the radiation would have killed me."
"So, he doesn't want to expose you anymore," she decided. "I hate it when the bad guy's motivation changes …"
"Well, until he makes another appearance, there really isn't anything I can do," Clark pointed out.
Soon, they arrived at the Daily Planet and headed for the building. Clark stopped when his super-hearing picked up a familiar voice. As he held the door for Lois, he explained that he'd be right back. In a blur that no one even seemed to notice, he was gone. Moments later, Superman landed softly, holding Tempus by the back of his collar.
Lois came over to them, ready to attack Tempus for everything he'd done to them, but Superman stopped her. "It's not worth it," he said to her. To Tempus, he warned, "You're just lucky I don't drop you into an active volcano for what you did today. There were women and children in that Federal Building this morning. Instead, I think the FBI will be very happy to hear your confession."
Before Tempus could answer, Superman rose back into the air and flew off toward the nearest police station. Lois just shook her head and muttered, "Everything's back to normal," as she headed into the building. From the alley, H. G. Wells watched her go, checked his pocket watch, smiled and turned to walk away.