By RL <email@example.com>
Submitted: December 2003
Summary: When Tempus goes back in time to destroy Utopia, an unexpected event changes his perspective.
This story was written for Elena's and LauraU's birthday. It was inspired by a certain thread on the messageboard (http://www.lcficmbs.com/)for the Tank Ending for Wendy's "When Larry Met Charlie". Note that this story does NOT have a Tank Ending. The setting is in honor of Laura's successful achievement of her MS degree. Congratulations! Without further ado…
Nate stumbled into the alley and sat down heavily under the fire escape ladder. He eagerly pulled the bottle of Night Train out of the paper bag and brought the bottle to his lips. After roughly half the bottle was gone, he wiped his lips with his sleeve. Just then a flash of light caught his attention. A bright, multi-colored light was shining in the middle of the alley, slowly forming into a large ten-foot tall rectangle a mere ten feet away from him.
Nate gawked at the scene before him. While he watched, a man came through the rectangle. The man was tall, with brown hair and a beard, and he wore a shiny, silver outfit with blue sleeves. At Nate's gasp of surprise, the man turned his head to look him right in the eyes. Nate shivered, seeing the most evil expression he had ever witnessed, instilling a sense of fear within him. "Well, well. Whom do we have here?" the strange man said with what seemed to be a British accent. "A street derelict, getting drunk in a blind alley. Failed by society, and most likely turned to crime to scrape out enough money to buy his alcohol and drugs. God, I love this time period!"
Pointing at his bottle, the strange man asked him, "May I have some of that?" Too afraid to say no, he nodded and raised the hand holding the bottle. Nate was surprised to feel his hand grabbed and his body falling forward. With a shout, Nate found himself falling into the bright light. A sharp pain exploded in his skull, and he never knew anything ever again.
Tempus pocketed the time window's control device and smiled at the now-vanished frame. "That was fun. There's nothing like a little senseless killing first thing in the morning." He walked out of the alley and attempted to get his bearing. Noticing the newspaper stand bearing the logo of the hated Daily Planet, he glanced at the date at the top of the paper. "Perfect. Right on schedule," he said to himself. "This time, Superman, there's nothing you can do to stop me."
An hour later, Tempus, now dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans taken off another person unfortunate enough to have encountered him, found himself sitting under a tree just outside of Grover Cleveland Hall watching the book-laden students walk past him. He whistled tunelessly to himself, biding his time and waiting for the bane of his existence to pass by. If he were right, the most infuriating person he had ever met would be along within the next few minutes. Then he would put his plan into action.
Just on time, Lois Lane came around the corner, laughing and chatting with the two women with her. Tempus stood up and headed in her direction. Passing by, he brushed up against her deliberately, knocking the books out of her arms. "Hey watch it!" shouted an irritated Lois Lane, who bent down to retrieve her scattered books.
"I'm sorry, Miss," lied Tempus. He picked up several of the books and her purse and handed them back, saying, "Here, let me give you a hand." He apologized again and turned to go on his way.
"Well, just don't let it happen again," Lois said turning back to her companions.
While Tempus was heading away, he heard one of her friends say, "Lois, I think he's pretty cute. I think you should go after him."
"Now Alicia, you know he's not my type."
"Besides," said her other companion, "she's only got eyes for Paul. Personally, though, I think that one's just a pipe dream."
"Laura! How could you? You said you'd never tell," Tempus heard as he walked out of earshot.
<She'll never get the chance anyway,> Tempus thought with satisfaction. <By this time next week, I'll never have to worry about her again.>
Lois woke up to the persistent sound of her alarm clock telling her adamantly that she had an eight o'clock class in just one hour. She groaned as she hit the snooze button. She felt absolutely awful. Her head hurt, and she felt nauseous. She didn't quite understand why. It almost felt like a bad hangover, but she hadn't had a drink in years, scared off by her mother's alcoholism. Last night she had started to feel a bit queasy, but passed it off as a consequence of having had bad Mexican food for dinner. Now she wasn't so sure. She couldn't afford to get sick. Final exams were starting today.
"Wake up sleepy head," she heard from the other side of the room. "We've got an exam in an hour."
Lois groaned. "Molly, I just don't feel well. In fact, I think I'm going to throw up," she said to her roommate, running for the bathroom. After several minutes of emptying the contents of her stomach, she weakly came back into the room.
"Geez, Lois. You look terrible. Your face is green. You're in no shape to take any exams today. Maybe you should go to the doctor so you can get a written excuse to postpone your exam?"
"You're kidding, right? I'd have to be dead for Professor Zanetti to let me off the hook. You know how hardheaded she is about missing class. I'll just have to muddle through. Don't have much choice," Lois said with dismay, dreading the thought of spending the next three hours locked in an auditorium taking her Advanced Writing exam.
Tempus leaned back in his poolside recliner. Ah, this was the life. In a few days, Lois Lane would be out of his hair. He looked forward to that day greatly. Coming back to a point in time when Lois was still a college sophomore had been pure genius on his part. At that very moment, Clark Kent was just starting out on his world travels, having never heard of a college student named Lois Lane and could therefore never rescue her from her fate. Right at that moment, he was probably 8,000 miles away, helping Africans somewhere. Typical Boy Scout, he thought with scorn. This way, they would never meet and Utopia would be no more.
He wondered briefly why he was still there. All he had to do was to activate the time window and he'd be back to the paradise of his own making. He realized at that moment that the thrill of the kill was just too irresistible. He had to stay to see the fruits of his own dirty work. He just hoped it was over soon, since he was looking forward to seeing how things changed in the future.
It was such a simple plan. He'd had to come up with a common lady's item always carried in a purse. That had been easy enough. Being from the future had its advantages. With the sickening attention given to Lois Lane in the future, he had been able to find out exactly what items she carried in her purse.
With his skill, it had been child's play to plant the lipstick in Lois' purse when he had brushed by her the other day. The radiation in the lipstick was so potent that she didn't have to use the lipstick for his plan to succeed. Repeated exposure to the tube of radioactive material just from carrying the purse would be enough to do the job. If she did use it, she'd be dead within two days. Even if by some miracle she survived, she would be sterile. And Superman would never have any descendants to corrupt the future.
Tempus reminded himself to go check on Lois Lane tomorrow. With any luck, she'd also be failing her classes, being too sick during exam week. That would just be frosting on the cake. What was murder without a little torture included? Life was good.
Lois pulled the covers up to her chin, still shivering. Whatever it was she had, she wasn't getting any better. She'd done horribly on her exam yesterday and had another one tomorrow afternoon. If she didn't pass that one, she would have to repeat the class. That would look very bad on her record. If she ever hoped to work for the Daily Planet, she couldn't afford to have such a blemish on her transcript. Perry White only hired the best and would never accept excuses for failure.
"Lois?" her roommate quietly queried. "Are you awake?"
"Yeah, Molly. I can't seem to sleep."
"Lois. I have to go out tonight. I was wondering if I could borrow your red lipstick? I think I lost mine."
"Tonight? Don't you have exams tomorrow, too?"
"Of course I do, but I'm ready for them. Besides I won't be out long."
"Right. You're seeing Ryan again, aren't you? I tell you he's no good for you. You deserve better."
"Don't start, Lois," Molly reprimanded. "I like him, and he's good to me. Besides, it's my life."
Lois gave up. They'd argued about Ryan many times, and Lois just wasn't up for another argument.
"So? Where's the lipstick?"
Lois sighed. "It's in my purse. Could you get it yourself? I just don't feel well enough to get out of bed."
Molly went over to Lois' desk and picked up her purse. Digging through it for a minute, her face lit up as she pulled out the tube. "This'll knock him dead," she said with confidence.
Tempus watched Lois as she approached her professor's office. Her complexion was still off, but curiously she looked healthier than she did the day before. That couldn't be. Something was wrong. If Lois somehow had misplaced the deadly tube, he'd have to make sure he slipped her a second one. She wouldn't have been exposed long enough for any permanent damage. He patted the lead box in his pocket. He'd wait for her to come out, and then he'd check using the thumb-sized Geiger counter he'd brought with him from the future.
He watched as Lois knocked on the door of the office and was then granted entrance. The door closed, forcing Tempus to wait. He hated waiting. He sat down in a chair in the professor's outer office and took a book out of his pocket to pass the time. Now this was a great story about how a villain in the old west took over a town and forced the daughter of the richest man in town to marry him. Hopefully this book didn't disappoint like the last one where the hero rode in at the last minute to save the heroine.
If nothing else, though, thank goodness they had real books in this time period. In the million-laughs-a- minute time period he came from, all the eBooks seemed to be about Superman or Lois Lane or other equally dull subjects like romance. Talk about a boring existence. How could anyone stand it?
Right in the middle of an engrossing chapter where the villain was about to set off explosives to kill the heroine's parents, the door to the professor's office opened. He heard Lois' voice saying, "Thanks, Professor. I appreciate the opportunity to retake the test. I was so sick yesterday, I'm surprised I wrote my name on the paper correctly."
Then another melodious voice chimed in. "Lois, you've been my best student over this last year, and I can't in good conscience not give you a second chance since you were so sick. I know you would have passed with flying colors, otherwise."
Tempus looked up and stared hard. His heart stopped. Before him was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. She was about five foot six with shoulder length brown hair with the most gorgeous eyes he had ever seen. He was entranced.
Apparently, the professor had noticed him as well. Interrupting her conversation with Lois, she broke him out of his reverie by saying, "Hello there. Is there something I can help you with, Mr…?"
"Uh, Tempus, dear lady. My name is Tempus," he managed to stammer out. Trying to think fast, he said, "I was, uh, looking for you because I'd heard about your reputation. I'm likely going to be taking a sabbatical here next semester. So I was looking for an opportunity to discuss your class topics with you." Tempus inwardly winced at the lame excuse he had come up with because his brain had switched off the second he had laid eyes on the professor. Maybe he'd been reading too many bad Clark Kent biographies for him to come up with a story like that.
He was suddenly aware that the professor was glancing at him with her eyes slightly wide. He had a sudden surge of glee for some reason as he became aware of her attraction to him as well. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Professor Tempus, is it? I'm Elena Zanetti. I'm in the middle of a meeting with a student right now, but perhaps we can talk a bit later, say 5:00?"
"That's okay, professor. I think we're done here. Thank you again, and I'll see you tomorrow for my makeup exam," said Lois, hurrying out the door.
Tempus watched as Elena gave him a million-dollar smile and said, "I guess I'm free. Why don't you come in, Professor Tempus?" Tempus returned the smile and entered her office, Lois Lane completely forgotten.
Lois opened the door of her room and walked in. It had been a tiring day. She had taken one test and had spent the remainder of the day studying in the library, not counting the time she had spent in Professor Zanetti's office. At least she felt better than she did yesterday. She tossed her keys on the desk and kicked off her shoes.
"Molly, you here?" she called out. Hearing nothing, she headed for the bathroom to wash up. Opening the door, she received the fright of her life.
"Molly!" she cried. Sprawled on the floor of the bathroom was her roommate. She quickly knelt down beside her and felt for a pulse. It was thready but still there. Racing to the phone, she dialed 911. The next ten minutes were agony as she sat beside her friend, holding her hand and feeling completely helpless.
Shortly, a knock sounded on her door. She called for the paramedics to come in. Two paramedics with a stretcher came in and took charge. They took some quick vital signs and then bundled her onto the stretcher.
Later that night, Lois paced back and forth in the hospital waiting room. She'd been there for hours, waiting for the bad news. Finally a doctor came out to greet her.
"Miss Lane?" At her nod, the doctor continued, "We finally managed to stabilize her. It's a good thing you called us when you did or she wouldn't have made it."
"What was it, doctor?" Lois asked.
"As near as we can tell, she's suffering from all the classic symptoms of radiation poisoning, so we started treating it as such. She seems to be responding. It's still a bit early, but we're optimistic she'll pull through. My big question is how did she get exposed to radiation? And if she did, what was the source? You said that she's your roommate. I suggest you get yourself tested right away in case you were exposed, too. With radiation, we can't take any chances."
Lois nodded, relieved that Molly would likely pull through. Her mind started to wander. Her developing reporter's instinct was tingling. There was a story here, a really big story. If she could break this case and write a fantastic story, there was no way Perry White would say no to her.
Tempus leaned in, completely stunned. Elena kissed him gently and then pulled him in for an even deeper kiss. Nothing had prepared him for such an eventuality. Before he had met Elena, he had never been interested in any woman or getting into any relationship. Now he found his mind wandering into places he'd never dreamed of and felt absolutely wonderful. He'd scoffed at those who talked about love at first sight. Now he was a believer.
Apparently, she was as taken with him as he was with her. After briefly talking to each other about nothing of importance, the attraction between the two took over, leading them to their present state of near undress.
Briefly, he thought of Lois Lane and found he simply didn't care any more. Lois and Superman could have the future. He had the past, or present, rather, and hoped Elena would be a part of it for a long time to come. Perhaps if he had the time, and assuming Elena was okay with it, he could destroy Utopia later. But for now, he had far more important things to do.