By Emily M. Hanson <email@example.com>
Submitted: December 2001
Summary: Twenty-five years after Superman's first appearance, Clark decides he's tired of keeping his secret. But will his decision to come out of the closet meet with interference?
About the title: It was inspired by the second part of the Lois & Clark series premiere, in which Perry White catches Clark Kent in the supply closet, about to fly through the window, and asks him when he's coming out. This is *not* a sequel to Purple Chaos.
Disclaimers: I do not own the characters that are recognizable from Lois & Clark.
It had been 25 years since Superman first made his appearance by saving space station Prometheus. Most cities across the world had extremely low crime rates — some areas had virtually non-existent crime, which the news reports connected directly to the red-and-blue-clad hero. The mayor of Metropolis was being interviewed on a morning news show by a tall blonde woman.
"Several years ago, Superman was quoted as saying that Metropolis was like a second home to him. How does that make you feel?"
"I'm very honored. I don't know why he chose Metropolis, as opposed to a more international city like London or Paris, or even New York. But he did, so we're going all out."
"Beginning today, Metropolis is having one of the largest anniversary celebrations around the world. Tell me, what is Metropolis doing differently from other cities?"
"Starting at 7:00 pm, most of the movie theaters in town will be showing historic news footage and interviews of Superman until 10:00 pm. One hundred percent of the proceeds from concessions will be going to charity. We're also having a charity ball and an auction, with proceeds going to the Red Cross. Superman is expected to make an appearance later in the evening at the auction. He donated an extra cape, which I've been told could go for as much as one hundred million dollars."
"Wow. That's incredible." The interviewer looked at her watch. "I'm sorry to say that we're out of time. Thank you very much for coming, Mayor Smith."
He smiled. "My pleasure."
Lois Lane exchanged glances with her husband, Clark Kent. They'd been watching TV during breakfast. "One hundred million dollars for a cape?"
"Not just any cape, Lois," he reminded her. "I'm going to model it for them, so it will actually have been worn by Superman."
"Have you told Martha yet? I'm sure she'll be thrilled."
"She will be," Clark said as the phone rang. "Hello? Hi, Mom."
"Hi, honey," Martha said. "We just saw the morning show."
"So, Mom, how do you feel about being a hundred-million- dollar clothing designer?"
Martha laughed. "Thrilled, but I'm happy for you. It's your party, Clark." She whispered conspiringly, "Even if no one else knows it is."
Clark chuckled. "Yeah. I want to talk to you and Dad about that."
"I think it's time for me to stop hiding." Clark had talked about the idea with Lois for hours the previous night. He knew that she would be supportive. The only question was, how would his parents feel? They would also be affected if he 'came out of the closet,' so to speak. Their lives would be changed forever.
"Are you sure, Clark? We've talked about this before," Martha said.
"Yeah. I've been doing a lot of thinking," Clark replied. "I'm tired of lying to my friends, and I'm tired of pretending to be someone I'm not."
"Honey, you'll never have any privacy again. News reporters will camp outside your front door 24 hours a day. Your phone will ring off the hook. Your picture will plastered on every newspaper from here to Tibet. Thousands of people on the internet will make fan sites. Okay, there are plenty of Superman web sites, but they'll be devoted to your real identity as well. People will recognize you everywhere in the world. You'd be giving up a lot, Clark."
"It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."
"What about Lois?" Martha asked.
"I'm fine with it," she said, having overheard.
"Lois says that she's fine with it. Do you want me to come home so we can talk?"
"Do you have time?"
"Lois and I took the day off. I have plenty of time, Mom."
"All right. I'll tell Jonathan that you're coming."
"Thanks. I should be there in a few minutes." Clark hung up the phone and looked at Lois. "Honey, are you really okay?"
"Of course. Okay, I'm a little apprehensive. I mean, what if some psychos like Trask show up at the door? But, if you think the world is ready, then so am I."
They kissed, then he grabbed his black leather jacket. "See you in a little while." Clark opened the bedroom window and flew out.
Jonathan Kent sat at the table with Martha. They were both drinking coffee. Jonathan had to do some convincing, but his wife finally agreed to pour a cup after lecturing him about caffeine's negative effects. Jonathan couldn't really argue, but he still wanted the coffee. Footsteps outside meant that Clark had arrived. The front door swung open.
"Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad," Clark said, taking off his jacket.
"Hello, son," Jonathan said. "Happy anniversary."
"Your mother tells me you've been thinking about telling the world that you're really Superman."
"Yes, I'm considering it."
"Are you really sure about this, Clark?" Jonathan inquired.
"All of Superman's arch-enemies are either in maximum security prisons or, like Lex Luthor, they're dead. I'm tired of not being the real me — the Clark Kent who's also Superman, whom you know and Lois knows, but no one else does. I'm tired of lying to my closest friends, and having to make excuses all the time whenever I have to go and save someone. I'm tired of carrying this secret around. It's like a ten-ton weight around my neck, and it's getting heavier every day."
"Have you thought about how you're going to do this?" Martha asked.
Clark nodded. "I'm supposed to be at the charity auction tonight as Superman. I can tell everyone then."
"Well," Jonathan said, "if that's what you really want to do, I think you should go ahead."
"It's your decision to make," Martha added.
"I really want to do this," Clark replied.
"No matter what happens, we'll support you," Jonathan said.
"Thanks, Dad. You guys are the best."
Martha stood up and hugged her son. "So are you."
At 8:00 pm, Lois and Clark arrived at the charity ball. Lois looked stunning in a sparkly black dress and Clark was very handsome in a tuxedo. Jimmy Olsen came with his wife, Lucy. Perry was even there, but since Alice had passed away recently, he came alone. Lois spotted Catherine "Cat" Grant on the dance floor with her fiance, a very good- looking man from England. Even Ralph was there, dancing with a woman in her thirties who could have been his daughter.
"Hi," Jimmy said. "Lois, you look great, as always."
"Jimmy, Lois and I would like to talk to you and Lucy," Clark said. "And Perry, and Cat. Can you meet us outside in the parking lot in five minutes?"
"Sure, CK. What's up?"
"You'll find out soon enough."
After recruiting their other friends from the Daily Planet, Clark and Lois headed outside. Noticing that Lois had a few goose bumps, Clark took off his suit jacket and handed it to her without a word.
"Clark, you are so good," she remarked, giving him a kiss.
"I try," he replied.
"What's this about?" Perry asked. "Are you going to tell us, or are we going to freeze our buns off?"
"In a minute, Chief," Clark said. "I'm waiting for Cat."
Perry White had been retired from the Daily Planet for eight years, but most of his former employees still called him Chief. Jimmy Olsen was the editor-in-chief now, and doing an excellent job, too. "All right, but don't wait too long," he replied.
Catherine Grant walked outside. She wore a black fur coat over a red glittery dress and didn't look a day over thirty.
"I hope I'm not late," Cat said.
"You're just in time," Clark answered. "Now, here's the reason I asked you all to come outside. I'm going to make an announcement at the charity auction, but I wanted my closest friends to know about it first."
"What kind of announcement are you going to make, CK?" Jimmy asked.
"Well…you know how I'm always running off and making excuses?"
"Kent, you're the king of excuses," Perry remarked. "But I always figured you had a good reason for them."
"I do, Chief. Do you remember the first week when I started working at the Planet?"
"How could I forget? You were hired exactly 25 years ago, to the day."
Clark nodded and saw Jimmy's look of sudden comprehension. "Remember when you found me in the supply closet?"
"Yes! You were so nervous. I also remember that the window was open, and I couldn't think of why anyone would be standing in the supply closet." Perry had a hunch what Clark was trying to tell them. "That was also the same day Superman made his first appearance."
"On space station Prometheus," Jimmy added.
"Right," Perry said. "Years later, it occurred to me that Kent was frequently spotted coming in and out of that supply closet, usually just after he'd made some excuse. Now, why would he need an excuse to go into the closet…unless he had something to hide?"
"You know," Clark realized.
"It took me nearly nine years to piece together all the evidence I had," Perry responded. "I'm not certain, but I think Jimmy also figured it out."
"Figured what out?" Lucy inquired.
Clark took a deep breath. "That I'm Superman."
Cat's eyes widened. It wasn't a complete surprise — she'd had her hunches before…but she hadn't expected the confirmation of something so astounding.
Lucy gasped. "All this time it was you?"
"Jimmy, why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I didn't have any hard evidence, and besides, it wasn't my secret to tell. Why are you telling us?"
"I think it's time. Besides, I also have an idea." It was crazy, he had to admit, but sometimes the craziest ideas were the best ones. The plan had been niggling at him the last few days, so much that Clark believed it was meant to be. Lois was a little more skeptical when he told her during one sleepless night, but she would support him.
Lois sighed as Clark turned over for the sixth time in the past two minutes, taking more than his share of the blanket with him. "Clark, what's wrong?"
"I can't sleep," he admitted.
"Well, at least give me the blanket. I'm cold."
Clark obligingly untangled it. "Sorry, Lois."
"Aren't you going to tell me why you can't sleep?" She asked, looking at him pointedly.
"I can't get this idea out of my mind."
"It's nothing. Go back to sleep, honey."
"So, nothing is keeping us both awake?"
Lois had a point. "It's crazy. Completely crazy." Clark shook his head as if to emphasize.
"You're going to tell me, aren't you?"
Clark sighed. "All right. I was just thinking…what if we had a society in which there was no crime, where people could leave their doors unlocked and walk at night in the city without fear? What if it were possible?"
"If it were possible, it would've happened by now," she said.
"I'm sure you're right," he replied. "But I just can't stop thinking about it."
"Utopia is nothing more than a dream, Clark. Go back to sleep." Lois kissed him.
But Clark couldn't sleep. He lay awake thinking the whole night. When morning came, Lois turned over and saw that he was starting at the ceiling.
"Have you been awake all night?" She asked.
Lois sighed. She could tell that her husband was seriously considering the idea. Sleepless nights were nothing new to him — he was Superman, after all. But they usually weren't caused by crazy ideas. Maybe, she conceded to herself, Utopia could be possible. Clark obviously thought so. "I'm not going to be able to talk you out of this?"
"Well then, I guess if you can't beat 'em, joining 'em is the next best option." She leaned over and kissed him.
"What kind of idea?" Perry asked.
"Well…" Clark hesitated. "You'll think I'm crazy."
"Kent, if you had told me 25 years ago that you could fly and eat bombs, I'd have said you were crazy. Now that I've seen it, I believe just about anything is possible."
"Anything, huh? Okay, how about a place where no crime exists, where everyone can feel safe, and even Superman can reveal his secret identity without worrying about whether or not his family and friends will be targeted by criminals."
"Utopia?" Cat Grant remarked. "That would be incredible, Clark, but it's impossible."
"Because you can't get rid of greed. Someone, somewhere, will always want something that they don't have."
"But what if people can have everything they need?"
"It's not what people don't need," Cat said, "it's what they want. Wanting and needing things are two different things. Does a thief need everything that he steals to survive, physically? Something makes those people want things they don't have, and it's not common sense. It's greed."
"You have a good point," Clark admitted, "but it's society that makes people want things. It's the pressure to keep up with the Joneses…or even to surpass them. There are cultures where everything is owned by the community. Historically in many Native American cultures, people didn't own things, the entire tribe did. Why can't we do something similar?"
"You'd have to completely change Western culture," Jimmy remarked. "That wouldn't be an easy thing to do. Lots of people are set in their ways."
"True, but we can start with Metropolis."
"Do you really think this will work, Kent?" Perry asked.
"I don't know, Chief. But I have to try."
Perry nodded. Clark's plans usually had a way of working out, especially when Lois supported them. "Have you talked to your folks about this? What did they say?"
"Well, I haven't really told them about my plan yet. I was going to take it kind of slow, since the media's going to be wrapped up in finding out Superman's secret identity, anyhow."
"Aren't you putting the chicken before the egg? I mean, if there's still a chance for crime, there's still a chance that your folks could become targets. It would be better to do it the other way around."
"You think so, Chief?"
"I have a strong hunch about this. And you know something about my hunches, son—they're usually right."
Clark looked at his wristwatch. "Looks like there's half an hour until the auction starts. I'm going to call my folks, Lois, and then I'll meet you inside."
They shared a brief kiss.
HG Wells checked the chronometer as his time machine landed in an alley nearby. "Thirty minutes," he said to nobody in particular. "There's plenty of time left." Herb patted the stun weapon in his pocket to make sure it was still there, then went to find Clark Kent and Lois Lane. They needed to be warned about Tempus' escape, since he was almost certainly coming to stop them.
Clark used the speed-dial on his cell phone to get in touch with his parents. Their picture appeared on the small video display.
"Hi, honey," Martha said. "How's everything going?"
"Great, Mom. I need to talk to you and Dad again. How's Lara?"
Lara was Lois and Clark's 14-year-old daughter. She and her 11-year-old brother, Johnny, were staying with their grandparents for the night.
"She's just fine. She and Johnny are both playing computer games."
"How are you?" Jonathan asked.
"Fine. There's something else I need to tell you."
"Really," said a familiar voice behind him.
"Who's that?" Martha asked.
Clark turned around. His jaw dropped as he saw who was standing behind him. "Tempus! Mom, Dad, I'll call you back later."
Martha and Jonathan exchanged worried glances. Their son had dealt with the time-traveling villain, Tempus, over 20 years ago. "Be careful," Martha said, then the screen went black.
"You see," Tempus continued, "I have a plan. It involves stopping you and Lois Lane from founding Utopia. That will never happen in this time line, or any other."
"No!" HG Wells exclaimed. He'd just caught sight of them, and took out the stun weapon. "I'm afraid you'll have to change your plans, Tempus."
"You're so predictable, Herb. I knew you'd show up."
As HG Wells fired the stun weapon, Tempus took a small shiny device from his pocket and pressed a button. The energy beam hit him…but it was completely dissipated by the force field's effects. Then, Tempus took something that looked like a laser pen out of his pocket, and he fired a green burst at Clark.
"You won't get away with this," Clark gasped as he collapsed from the effects of the Kryptonite ray.
Tempus laughed. "In your dreams, Superman."
HG Wells bravely swung a punch, realizing that the stun weapons he'd brought would be ineffective against the shield.
"You're not going to stop me. You don't have what it takes." Tempus ducked, then he took out another laser and fired it. There was a bright blast of red, and HG Wells was out. "Au revoire, so long, farewell, Herb. Until we meet again." Tempus picked up the unconscious body of Clark Kent, pressed a button on his wristwatch, and vanished into a shimmering portal.
With this new technology he'd gotten from the 26th century, Tempus no longer needed a time machine. Herb had qualms about borrowing technology from the future, and he couldn't think creatively enough to invent it himself. That was why Tempus wouldn't fail. He couldn't. Not when the future— his future—depended upon him stopping the foundation of Utopia. He had to reverse the direction of this timeline, or Herb would go after him again. There was only one place to go…the past.
In the ballroom, Lois wondered where her husband was. "Clark should be here by now. The auction starts in five minutes."
"Relax, Lois," Jimmy said. "I'm sure that CK's fine."
"Yeah. You're probably right. I'm going to look for him, anyway. Just in case."
"I'm going with you."
They found HG Wells in the parking lot, unconscious. Lois recognized him, but Jimmy didn't. Lois tried to wake him up. "Herb! Are you all right? What are you doing here?"
Startled, he sat up. "Lois Lane? Jimmy Olsen?"
"How do you know our names?" Jimmy asked.
"It's a long story. I'm afraid I have some bad news. Clark has been captured by Tempus."
"Oh, no!" Lois exclaimed. They hadn't expected him, but it made sense in a twisted way. He'd always been trying to stop Superman, and this was the night Clark had planned to make his announcement.
"Who's Tempus?" Jimmy asked.
"A time traveler, like HG Wells here. He's been trying for years to stop Superman from creating Utopia. I thought he was in prison," Lois said.
"He escaped, I'm sorry to say," Herb replied.
Jimmy was gaping in astonishment at the older man. "You're HG Wells? I'm a huge fan. I loved your stuff when I was younger."
"Thank you. I'm afraid I don't have time to discuss books, however. I must find Superman and Tempus."
"Let me help," Lois said.
"Yeah," Jimmy added. "I didn't know that CK was Superman until today, but we've always been friends. We'll help you."
"The time line might be contaminated even more than it already has been. I can't risk it."
"Good luck, Mr. Wells," Jimmy said.
Herb went back to the alley where he'd parked the time machine. By using a tracking device he'd installed after Tempus escaped, he was able to locate his rival. Suddenly, he realized what Tempus' plan must be. It was downright devious. His opponent had to be stopped as soon as possible. As HG Wells turned a key, the time machine came to life and vanished into the past.
Perry White took a sip of steaming coffee that one of his employees had just gotten for him. "Thanks."
The young man turned to go, but hesitated. "Chief?"
"What is it, son?"
"I just happened to walk by the supply closet. Normally I mind my own business, but I thought it was kind of funny that someone's been in there for so long. I thought you should know."
"Who's in the closet?"
"Clark Kent. I saw him go in. It's been over five minutes, and he hasn't come out yet."
"Is he in there with anyone else?" Perry had seen Cat's advances toward the new hire, although he suspected that Kent was more attracted to Lois Lane.
"Cat and Lois are both at their desks, so he's probably not with anyone."
"Thanks. I'll check it out."
Clark had just opened the window and was about to change into his Superman suit, when a shimmering portal appeared and a man stepped through. The stranger was carrying someone unconscious, who looked suspiciously like a 50- year-old Clark Kent.
"Who are you? What's going on here?"
"I'm Tempus," he said and fired the Kryptonite ray at the younger Clark. "I am a time traveler from the future. I came here to prevent you from becoming Superman."
Tempus knew about the supply closet from reading Clark Kent's autobiography. This was where Clark frequently went, usually after making the most ridiculously unbelievable excuses Tempus had ever heard in his life. Clark could quickly change clothes, lock the door, and fly out the window as Superman. When he returned, dressed as Clark, no one would guess that he had just been rescuing the inept citizens of Metropolis from whatever had befallen them.
Clark gasped as he fell with a thud, feeling more pain than he'd ever felt in his life. He didn't recognize the name Superman, but he felt a powerful connection with it. Had using his unique powers led to Clark becoming some sort of super criminal? Was that why Tempus was trying to stop him? Or was Tempus the criminal?
Realizing that someone was listening outside, Tempus responded, "I'm sure once the Daily Planet learns that their newest reporter is really an alien with super human powers, they'll want to print it on the front page."
Suddenly, Perry White opened the closet door. He glared at the supposed time traveler. "Stop, or I'll call security! Kent, are you all right?"
Tempus used his stun ray on Perry, then pressed a button on his watch and disappeared. As he vanished, Clark's future self also faded away.
HG Wells entered the Editor in Chief's office and was surprised to see that Perry wasn't there. Clark hadn't been at his desk, either. Glancing around, HG Wells spotted someone at the copy machine. Surely that young man would know.
"Excuse me," Herb began. "Do you know where I can find Clark Kent or Perry White? It's urgent."
"I saw them go into the supply closet. Do you know them?"
"Yes. Thank you." He went to the closet and opened the door. "No," he then gasped, realizing that Tempus had already been here.
Perry White mumbled something, but it was so soft that Herb couldn't catch it.
"What was that?"
"There was a nasty fellow here just a minute ago. He had a stun gun…must've used it on Kent, too. He said his name was Tempus." Perry sat up.
"Ah. Do you know where he went?"
"No. He just vanished." Perry turned and tried to wake up the younger man, but it was no use. The young man was completely out. His face was pale and his glasses had fallen off. They were on the floor next to him. "Kent, wake up!"
"It's no use," Herb said. "Tempus had a kryptonite ray gun, too."
"What's kryptonite? Does it have something to do with Superman…or Clark?" Perry added.
"Yes." Suddenly, Herb looked more closely at Perry. "How exactly do you know about Superman?"
"I was looking for Clark, and I just happened to hear the argument he was having with Tempus." Perry glanced at his newest hire, who was still unconscious. "Should I call 911?"
"No. The hospital won't know what to do with him, and his secret might be exposed."
"What do you know about Clark Kent?" Perry asked. "Mr. Wells…if that's who you really are, why don't you tell us?"
"Because the future could be ruined. I'm taking Clark with me. We're going to stop Tempus."
"Now, hold on just a minute," Perry said. "You're not taking that man anywhere."
"Lois," Clark mumbled.
"What's that?" Perry asked.
"Lois is in trouble." Clark lifted his head and realized that his glasses were off. He also had a pounding headache.
"Where do you think she is?" HG Wells asked.
Clark sat up slowly and put his glasses back on. "Who are you?"
"A friend. Can you tell me where Lois is?"
"We're investigating a story about the space station Prometheus. I think she went back to EPRAD to find some evidence."
"I haven't seen Olsen around lately. He must be with Lois," Perry said.
"I have to find them." As Clark struggled to get up, HG Wells gave him a hand.
"Now wait just a minute. You've been injured. Don't tell me you're thinking of going after them," Perry remarked.
"If I don't, who will?"
"That's awfully brave, but you need to see a doctor."
Clark shook his head. "No doctors, Chief. Please."
Perry started to say something else, then stopped. Was his newest hire really an alien? No, he couldn't be. That was impossible…wasn't it? "All right, Kent. Good luck."
Perry headed back to his office.
"I believe Tempus means to stop you from rescuing Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. The kryptonite ray has disrupted your abilities, so you won't be able to travel your usual way," Herb said.
Clark's jaw dropped. "How do you know about that?"
"I've been to the future. Now, let's go. We don't have any more time to waste."
Meanwhile, at EPRAD, Jimmy and Lois had just been caught snooping around, and were tied up by Dr. Baines and her associates.
"Everyone knows where I am. You'll never get away with this," Lois said. Her confident tone masked the apprehension she felt. What if nobody at the Planet knew where she and Jimmy were? Lois and Jimmy had left on the spur of the moment. Clark was intelligent enough to figure out where they were, but would he realize it in time?
Suddenly, Tempus appeared out of nowhere. "Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. We meet again."
"What are you talking about?" Lois replied. "I don't have any idea who you are."
"Oh, but you will." Dr. Baines' henchmen aimed their guns at Tempus, but he stunned them all except for Baines. "Dr. Baines, I presume."
"And you are…?"
"Tempus. We're on the same side. Lex Luthor and I want the same thing…he just doesn't know it yet. But he will."
She blinked in surprise. "How did you know about Lex?"
"I'm from the future. You can choose whether or not to believe me, I really don't care at the moment. The point is, soon your plans will be thwarted by these reporters and a stranger from another planet called Superman. Supes and Luthor are going to be archenemies. Lex will spend the rest of his days plotting Superman's downfall, but he'll only realize in the very end what Superman's real Achilles heel is."
"His secret identity, known only to his adoptive parents from Kansas, and eventually his wife. But that's not my point. You see, I'm going to give you a hand. If I get rid of these two and reveal Superman's identity early, history will be forever changed. Supes will be so busy fending off the paparazzi, he won't have time to use his powers to save the world."
"I've never heard of Superman," Lois remarked, her curiosity getting the best of her. If she was going to die, she might as well learn a few things. "Who is he? What does he have to do with me and Jimmy?"
"Everything, Lois," Tempus replied. "Superman has everything to do with you and the Daily Planet. I might as well tell you, since you're not going to live much longer. Superman is really Clark Kent."
Lois forced herself to laugh. "My partner is an alien? You have got to be kidding."
"I'd suggest asking him yourself, but under the circumstances, you're not going anywhere…except to your grave."
"I don't think so," said a familiar voice.
"Clark!" Lois exclaimed. "I've never been so happy to see you in my life. Oh, watch out, this guy is a raving lunatic. He claims to be from the future and that you're an alien. Honestly, I've never heard anything more ridiculous."
"Give up, Tempus," Clark said. "I'm more than a match for you."
Tempus laughed. "Yeah, right. You and whose army, Superman?" As he aimed the kryptonite laser, HG Wells took out a weapon that resembled a remote control and fired it. Tempus' energy shield flickered, then vanished. "How'd you do that?"
"I went to the future and borrowed this device from myself. You'll find that all of your energy weapons have been rendered ineffective," Herb replied. "Oh, and I also had time to give Clark an anti-kryptonite radiation pill."
Tempus' eyes widened. How could Herb have outsmarted him? It just wasn't possible. "I don't believe it!" He took the kryptonite laser from his pocket and fired it.
"Nice try," Clark said. In the blink of an eye, he took the weapon from Tempus' hand, then disarmed Baines. He crumpled the gun like a piece of paper and dropped it.
Lois stared in amazement. She couldn't believe what Clark just did. It should have been impossible. "How did you do that? Jimmy, wake up. You're missing everything. Wake up!" She elbowed the unconscious young man behind her.
Jimmy groaned. "Ow, my head. Lois, are you okay?"
HG Wells grabbed Tempus' arm and placed a pair of glowing handcuffs around his wrists. "You're coming back to the future with me."
"What about Dr. Baines?" Lois asked.
Clark untied Lois and Jimmy, then used the same rope to tie Dr. Baines. "The police will be here soon. Lois, I know we have a lot to talk about, but…"
"It can wait. We need to get back to the Planet. Perry's waiting for my story."
"Right." He wondered just how much was going to be in the story. Would Lois print his secret on the front page?
As they left the building, Jimmy exclaimed, "Look!" A helicopter rose into the air, but exploded without warning. Flaming pieces of plastic and metal fell from the sky all around them. A shiver ran down Lois' spine as she wondered if Dr. Baines had somehow managed to escape, and had been on the helicopter.
At the Daily Planet the next day, everyone was celebrating the exclusive story. Jimmy was excitedly telling a group of young women about his role. Perry noticed that Lois and Clark weren't mingling very much. In fact, it seemed as though they only had eyes for each other, just like he and Alice did when they were a lot younger.
"Lois," Clark said softly. "We really should talk about what happened yesterday." He had been relieved to see that nothing about him being an alien, or the time travelers, had made it into the paper.
She met his gaze. "You saved my life and Jimmy Olsen's. I don't think there's much else to discuss."
She leaned over and whispered into his ear, "I don't care if you are from outer space, either." Before he could reply, Lois grinned. "Try and have fun, Clark. I know a lot's happened, but this is my scoop we're celebrating here."
He raised an eyebrow. "Your scoop? Don't you mean our scoop?"
"Clark, the only reason I let you have the byline was because I'm grateful for the rescue."
"Uh-huh." He folded his arms. "And what about all the other work I did?"
"I'm grateful for that, too."
Clark nodded. "Sure, Lois." Some things never changed.
That night, Clark went home to visit his parents. He had an idea brewing, which he'd gotten from Lois' remark about having a change of clothes after saving someone who had fallen down a manhole. He'd been concocting the plan even before Tempus had said he knew about Superman's secret identity. That only cinched it.
Martha was more than happy to give it a try. She sewed costume after costume, and finally Clark decided on one that was bright red and blue. "I don't know about the cape, Mom."
"I like the cape. It'll look great when you're flying. But there's something missing." She reached under the bed and took out a box. "This was your old baby blanket. We found you in it." Also in the box was a piece of cloth with an "S" inside a geometric shape. "This was there, too." She held it up to the costume. "Perfect."
"Superman," Clark muttered.
"That's what Tempus called me."
"Well, it fits. Do you think he really was from the future?"
"He knew a lot about me, Mom."
"Come on, let's go show Jonathan."
In the living room, Jonathan Kent was watching the launch on the news. It was on nearly every channel. "This is truly a historic occasion," he said as Martha and Clark entered the room. "Clark, remember watching the first moon landing when you were a kid? Clark?" He turned around and gaped at the outlandish costume his son was wearing.
"What do you think, Dad?" Clark turned around slowly.
"That's my boy." Jonathan grinned with a father's pride.
"Oh, no. What if someone recognizes you?" Martha asked.
"They're not going to recognize me, Mom, because it won't be me," Clark replied. He took his glasses off and put them back on again.
"Hmm," Martha said thoughtfully. "I think it'll work. You might have to do something about your voice, but it could work."
On TV, the launch countdown was getting close to the end.
Lois Lane entered the launch vehicle, wearing a space suit, and glanced around to find a likely hiding place. When the shuttle docked, she could interview the colonists. She found a small room nearby and closed the door. As the countdown continued, Lois took another look around. Suddenly, she noticed a suspicious device attached to the wall with glowing red numbers. As she examined it more closely, Lois realized it was a bomb.
"Oh, my God!" She exclaimed. "It's a bomb!" Unfortunately, no one was going to hear her over the engines. Lois pried open a panel nearby and grabbed a pair of pliers. She was no explosives expert, but if she could cut some wires elsewhere, maybe someone would realize that something was wrong. As the launch was halted due to mechanical failure, Lois nervously waited. The bomb's countdown continued.
As Clark entered the shuttle, he saw Lois Lane inside, staring in fear at a small beeping box.
"Are you crazy?" Lois demanded, not recognizing Clark as he picked up the box. "That's a bomb!"
"Cross your fingers," he told her, and swallowed it.
Lois gaped. This guy was totally insane. He had to be. There was no other possible explanation. Tears streamed down her face as she realized they were going to die. The bomb exploded, and the man in the bizarre outfit burped.
"Excuse me," Clark said, grinning.
Lois' jaw dropped. She was alive. They were both alive. "How…?" Then she recognized Clark. It could only be him. As her eyes widened, Clark held a finger to his lips and pointed at the security screen overhead. Lois nodded. She couldn't announce his name, not when the whole world was watching them. So she followed him outside, where the crowd waited.
"He…he ate a bomb," Lois said, still shaky from her experience.
"I like your costume," said a little girl in a wheelchair.
"Thank you," Clark said. "My mother made it for me. What's your name?"
"Amy Platt. Can you show me how to fly?"
"No, but once this space station is functional, you may eventually walk."
"The launch has been scrubbed," one of the colonists said, obviously disappointed.
"Why? The vehicle hasn't been damaged. It's only the engines that aren't working. I can get you up there."
The colonists exchanged wary glances. "How?" someone else asked.
"I'll just give you a boost."
After the colonists were in place, Clark lifted the space shuttle up. Lois stared in astonishment as he flew, pushing the rocket higher. It was incredibly amazing. No wonder her partner wanted to keep his identity secret. The press would be all over this, if they knew.
Twenty-five years later, Superman stood on the auction floor as his spare cape was auctioned off for charity. HG Wells watched from the back of the room, and suddenly noticed Lois standing nearby.
"HG Wells," she whispered in sudden recognition. "What are you doing here?"
"I never tire of watching this momentous occasion. It's always a pleasure, Lois. How are you and Clark?"
"Just fine." She smiled.
Superman's cape went for $125 million dollars, which was even more than anticipated. "And now," the mayor of Metropolis said, "Superman has an important announcement to make." Handing his microphone to the Man of Steel, the mayor stepped aside.
"Thank you, everyone, for coming together to celebrate this anniversary," Superman said. "The past 25 years have been wonderful. America now has the lowest crime rate in history, and other countries are also enjoying a new era of peace and security. We still have poverty, though, and people who sacrifice their education so they can get jobs in order to feed their families. The crime rate hasn't reached zero yet. More needs to be done. I have an idea, and it may sound a little crazy. But, I know that if you read history books, you'll see that many crazy ideas have worked in the past."
Superman took a deep breath. "My plan is to create a completely safe haven where there is no crime and no poverty. Everyone will receive enough food and shelter. You'll be able to do whatever you want, as long as no laws are broken. I know it sounds impossible, but I have a plan. I've spoken to the mayor of Metropolis, and he's agreed to work with me on this. I know that we can do this. Nothing is impossible, as long as you believe it can be done."
The audience gave him a standing ovation. Superman handed the microphone back to the mayor. "I'll be having a press conference tomorrow at 9 am sharp. I'm sure there will be lots of questions," said the mayor. "Superman, thanks for coming tonight. Happy anniversary."
"Thank you," Superman said and flew off.
"The future is right on track," HG Wells remarked, looking at his watch. "And I have to be going. Goodbye, Lois, and good luck."
"Well, how'd I do?" Clark asked, sitting in Herb's empty seat.
"Wonderful. You missed HG Wells, though."
"Oh. Was he here?"
"Yes. He wished us luck."
"That's great. I think we're going to need a lot of it." Clark gave his wife a kiss, then relaxed to watch the rest of the charity auction.
Coming out of the Closet — Tank Ending
(This is my first attempt at a Tank ending, so please be nice and don't flame me.)
Previously in part one:
"It took me nearly nine years to piece together all the evidence I had," Perry responded. "I'm not certain, but I think Jimmy also figured it out."
"Figured what out?" Lucy inquired.
Clark took a deep breath. "That I'm Superman."
Suddenly, a meteor shower came from out of nowhere. Unfortunately, the meteors were kryptonite. Poor Clark was struck by one on the noggin, and passed out. His death was quite gentle compared to the others. At the same time, there was an earthquake that had to be at least 6.0 on the Richter scale. Since Superman was dead, no one else really had a chance. The Earth literally swallowed them up.