By ML Thompson <email@example.com>
Submitted: April 2007
Summary: Lois and Clark leap into their past — a perfect chance to make things right. There's only one little problem: if they change anything, Utopia could be destroyed. Will they figure things out in time or is this the end of Lois and Clark?
This is a fanfic based on the television show, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm borrowing these characters for a little fun and not for any profit. For a complete disclaimer, go to: http://www.thompsonlawoffice.ca/Disclaimer.htm
Let me tell you how this story came about. A few years ago, Gerry and I tossed ideas back and forth with the intention of possibly writing another story together. However, that never came about. So a couple months ago, I thought of the idea again and couldn't resist writing up the story. When I sent it to Gerry, she not only beta read the story for me but she also encouraged me to post it. So, thanks, Gerry.
Also, my special thanks to Carol Malo for her beta reading skills. She was great, helping me find mistakes and plot holes and answering many, many emails about how I could fix the problems in this story in order to keep the reader from getting too confused.
Once we were finished, I figured it might be helpful to get some fresh eyes to take a look at it and Erin and Em graciously agreed.
So thanks to all of you for all your suggestions and comments and for helping me try to ensure that the story was understandable. Without your suggestions, I'm sure that a lot of people would be scratching their heads, wondering what the hell was going on.
And thanks to Paul-Gabriel Wiener for editing this story for the archives.
Finally, thanks to the people on the fanfic message boards who gave me even more suggestions to make this story better.
QUESTION: Did you ever wonder what happened when Lois and Clark were in the Daily Planet elevator after their honeymoon that caused Lois to end up holding Clark's coffee and Clark to end up holding Lois' donut? This story answers that question.
Herbert George Wells sat nervously in the hallway, waiting to be summoned in front of the council. As he waited, he absently fiddled with his soul tracker. He couldn't believe how long the council was taking to reach a decision. He also didn't know what its decision would be.
He'd presented his arguments. After all, if Tempus escaped again, he would need to go back and help out again. Surely they must be able to see that.
On the other hand, these were good people. They lacked Tempus' flare for unbridled evil. And given that, was it possible they wouldn't realize that Herb was the only thing standing between Tempus' evil plots and the destruction of Utopia? No, the council would decide in Herb's favor. They had to. After all, he was the only one qualified to stop Tempus.
Clark kept his eyes on the elevator lights as he stood next to Lois, watching the elevator ascend to the newsroom. Still, not looking at her didn't mean he couldn't smell her shampoo or feel the heat from her body as her arm brushed against his. In point of fact, at that moment, every inch of him knew he was standing next to Lois Lane.
He was aware of her in a way he only thought he had been before their honeymoon. How was he ever going to make it through the work day when all he seemed able to think about was how her body fit against his, the sounds of her arousal, the touch of her hands, the passion in her eyes as she lay beneath him? Fathomless pools. Darker than he'd have believed possible. At that moment, he understood how a poet could write an ode to a person's eyes. And that was only the beginning. There were her arms, her legs, her…
He had to make a conscious effort not to crush the fragile coffee cup clasped in his suddenly too-tight hand. 'Don't go there, Kent,' he silently warned himself.
He could tell that Lois was stealing little looks at him and wondered if her memories were as all-consuming as his. His eyes settled on Lois' hand, where she was holding her donut just a little bit too tight. Yep. She was thinking about the same thing he was. It was a good thing they weren't alone in the elevator because if they had been…
The doors to the elevator opened and the only other passenger stepped off.
The doors had barely closed again when Lois was suddenly in Clark's arms, kissing him. Or was he kissing her? Who had moved first? He didn't know. And… Oh god. Her body moved against his and suddenly he no longer cared.
"How are we going to get through the day?" Lois asked breathlessly when she finally managed to end the kiss.
"I don't know," Clark answered honestly, even as he contemplated flying them through the emergency panel in the ceiling of the elevator and back to the bed in his apartment. Would Perry fire them for being late — or, well, more late than they currently were?
"You'd think after two weeks…"
"We waited a lot longer than two weeks," Clark said, unable to resist going back in for another kiss.
"So… it was worth it then? The wait, I mean."
"Lois, it was perfect. Better than perfect."
Satisfied with his answer, she pulled him closer, kissing him passionately. Clark was the one to break the kiss this time.
"At least… it was for me."
A smile made its way onto Lois' face. "Clark, it was super."
Clark laughed at her emphasis of the final word before the need to kiss her overwhelmed him once again. How was he going to be able to concentrate on anything but the number of minutes until he could get her back in bed?
His arms pulled her closer and he was rewarded and possibly punished when she wrapped an ankle around his leg, rubbing her body even more seductively against his as the kiss continued.
When the elevator finally dinged, and he was forced to break his hold on Lois, Clark felt more than a little dazed. In fact, the world seemed to spin around him and he felt downright dizzy as he stood, eyes facing firmly forward, and watched the elevator door open. After taking a moment to regain his balance, he stepped into the busy newsroom.
He turned to look at Lois but she was gone. But… He gave his head a shake when he saw her back only for a moment before she disappeared into the conference room. He must have been more out of it than he'd thought. It was a wonder that everyone wasn't staring at him, given how long he must have been standing there, staring off into space.
"Hey, C.K." Jimmy said, rushing past to board the elevator.
"Hey, Jimmy," Clark said, his mind most definitely not on his young friend even as some part of him wondered if Jimmy had changed his hair color.
He smiled as he considered how he was going to make Lois pay for leaving him standing there, all hot and bothered. She must have noticed how distracted she'd made him. He could just imagine her sneaking away with a giggle, wondering how long it would take for him to regain his equilibrium. Well, fine. Maybe he'd just show her how quickly he could get her into the storage room where he could exact a little… revenge.
He smiled as he headed after her.
Clark blinked when Cat suddenly appeared out of nowhere. "Cat?" he asked. When had she come back? She hadn't worked at the Daily Planet for more than two years. Before he could enquire, she spoke.
"I've asked you to have dinner with me two times," Cat pouted, raising her hands to his chest to play with his tie.
"Huh?" He stepped back from her, rescuing his tie.
"That's two times more than I've ever had to ask any man to do anything."
"Cat, it's nice to see you. Really. But… I'm married," Clark said. Surely she'd have heard.
"Oh, well. That's not an immoveable obstacle. I'm sure we can find some way to work around it." She took a step towards him.
He took another step back. "Look, Lois and I…"
"Poor Lois. All work and no personality."
"Okay, that's enough!" Clark said with enough force to finally get Cat's full attention. In fact, he was fairly certain he now had the attention of half the newsroom. "I will never cheat on my wife. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to talk to Lois."
Leaving a speechless Cat and a silent newsroom behind, he headed towards the conference room, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. It might have been nice to see Cat. He might have asked her what she was doing back. But after her behavior and her comment about Lois, Clark was fuming.
"Cat-napping?" Lois asked.
He let out a breath. From the tone in Lois' voice, she must have seen at least part of the exchange between him and Cat. And she was upset. He couldn't blame her. He was upset, too. Still, what he couldn't quite tell was whether she was upset with him or with Cat. Or if it even mattered. She was upset. That was enough.
"Lois," he said softly, walking over and taking the seat next to her at the table. "Don't let her upset you."
"Huh?" Lois asked, her scowl turning to confusion.
"I mean, I wouldn't blame you if you were upset. After all, I'm upset. But…" He took Lois' hands in his own. "…Lois, honey, she just isn't worth it."
Lois jerked her hands out of his.
"Honey, you know I love you," Clark rushed to continue. "You know I'd never do anything to jeopardize what we…"
"Clark, have you lost your mind?" Lois demanded, springing to her feet and taking a few steps back to put some distance between them.
Lois gave her head a shake, and then stumbled slightly as a wave of dizziness passed over her. When the lightheadedness receded, she finally looked around.
It was night. It was night? No. This wasn't right. It had been morning only a few minutes ago. Or… had it? Had she somehow lost a part of a day? It wouldn't be the first time.
She placed her hand against a nearby building as she came to a complete stop on the sidewalk. Okay, Lois, think. What was the last thing she remembered? She'd been kissing Clark in the elevator as they'd headed to the newsroom. A blush rose in her cheeks. Actually, they'd been doing a little bit more than just kissing. Another few seconds and the heat they'd been generating would likely have caused the control panels to short out. And then… trapped alone in an elevator. Lois didn't have a single illusion about what would have happened then.
But instead, she found herself standing alone on a street in the dark. She looked around, taking in her surroundings for the first time.
Well, at least she knew where she was. This was Clinton Street.
Okay, so maybe she couldn't remember the last few hours. But at least she knew where home was. She smiled. Home. It was amazing how easy it was to think of Clark's apartment as home.
Well, whatever had happened to the day, her first step was to get home. She would find Clark and together they would figure it out. If, of course, it was even the same day. What if a week had passed? Or a month? What if Clark was worried frantically about her disappearance?
Her pace increased until she found herself jogging, desperate to get home as quickly as possible and find Clark. After that… everything would be all right just as long as she could get to Clark.
'Please let him be home,' her mind silently begged. However, even if he wasn't, this was one time she would have no hesitation yelling, 'Help, Superman,' at the top of her lungs when she wasn't in life-threatening peril. She knew that seeing him and being swept into his arms was the only thing that could banish the fear that had taken a grip on her soul as a result of her memory loss. After all, together, they could conquer anything.
She let out a breath of relief when she turned the corner and saw light coming from inside the apartment. She dug in her pockets, but, although she could find her old apartment keys, she couldn't find her keys to Clark's apartment. She must have lost them. She climbed the steps quickly and had raised her hand to knock when something inside caused her to stop in mid-motion.
Clark was kissing… Mayson Drake! Without another thought, Lois grabbed the door handle and turned. The door, which Clark must have left unlocked, swung open under the force of her anger.
Mayson and Clark jumped apart at the unexpected sound of Lois' entry.
"What the hell is going on here?" Lois hissed, her eyes burning holes into Clark.
"Lois, I…" Clark began, only to be interrupted by Mayson.
"I would have thought that was obvious," Mayson said.
But Lois didn't take her eyes off of Clark. "I'd like to talk to Clark. Alone. I think you better leave, Mayson."
She saw a look of confusion cross Clark's face. She snarled at him in response. How dare he look so innocent? She knew what she had seen!
"I think you're the one who should leave," Mayson said. "I'm here at Clark's invitation. And unless he tells me to leave…"
"Mayson," Clark interrupted, not breaking eye contact with Lois. "I'll give you a call later."
"We'll see about that," Lois growled under her breath, increasing the furrow of confusion that was lining Clark's brow.
"But, Clark, she…"
Clark finally broke eye contact with Lois to look at Mayson. "Please, Mayson," he said softly.
Lois felt her anger increase at the gentle tone in Clark's voice. He and Mayson had been caught in the act, and yet he seemed to be trying to protect her feelings. Mayson was as guilty in this as he was. Wait a minute? Mayson Drake? But… "You're dead," Lois said in confusion, her eyes leaving Clark to settle on Mayson fully for the first time.
Mayson's eyes flashed. "I don't respond well to threats. And if Clark wants to kiss me, I don't see how that is any of your business."
The anger returned. "Get out," Lois responded.
Mayson looked back at Clark who nodded, a look of apology on his face.
Lois' eyes again focused on Clark as her ears told her that Mayson had left the apartment.
"Look, Lois, I'm not sure what you have against Mayson, but…"
"What I have against Mayson?" Lois asked in disbelief. "Nothing, until I saw her kissing my husband. Okay, well, maybe she was never my favorite person in the world. And I never really liked the way she was always throwing herself at you. And she did have some questionable friendships… Bill Church, for instance. But since I almost married Lex Luthor, I guess I'm not one to judge…"
"Husband?" Clark interrupted, his eyes widening in surprise. "Lois, when did you get married?"
Clark Kent had lost his mind. There was no other possible explanation for it.
Oh, she'd noticed the way Cat had been all over him. Not that it mattered to her, of course. No. Not at all. What Clark Kent did on his own time was his business. And she couldn't care less if he wanted to make a fool of himself with that floozy. Just as long as he kept his hands off her copy!
But then he'd made his grand announcement about having a wife and that he'd never cheat on her. That revelation had come as a bit of a shock. Somehow, she hadn't thought that Kent was married. Still, why shouldn't he be? And. just to be clear, she couldn't have cared less about that either!
But when he'd come into the conference room, taking her hands, telling her not to let Cat upset her and calling her honey… The man was a stark-raving lunatic! Was it any wonder she liked to work alone?
"Lois, what's wrong?"
Her eyebrows rose.
"Look, Lois, just talk to me. Tell me what's wrong. I promise that…" Suddenly, his voice trailed off and she watched his eyebrows knit together in confusion. "What did you do to your hair?" he asked out of nowhere.
Her eyebrows rose. What was going to happen next? Should she call for help? Did Perry have any idea what a whack-job Kent was when he'd hired him?
"What are you…"
His voice trailed off again as he suddenly seemed to be struck by another thought. She watched suspiciously as he rushed over to the papers she had been studying earlier, flipping them to the side as he appeared to speed-read them faster than she would have believed possible. Of course, he obviously wasn't reading. But when he started dropping papers on the floor as he attempted to look at them all, she finally stepped forward.
"Hey! What do you think you're…"
"EPRAD? Prometheus Space Station? Messenger explosion?" He looked up at her. "What day is it?"
"Friday," she responded in confusion.
"No! The date!"
"May fourteenth." When he continued to look at her expectantly, she continued. "1993."
"Oh, god," Clark breathed before slumping into a chair and burying his head in his hands.
Married? When had Lois gotten married? Or more importantly… "Who?"
"What are you talking about, Clark?"
"Who did you marry?"
"Who do you think I…" She suddenly seemed distracted, looking around at his apartment in confusion. "Where's my stuff?"
"What stuff?" Clark asked, having problems understanding the leaps she seemed to be making. As far as he knew, Lois hadn't been seeing anyone since Luthor. He supposed that to an outside observer, one might wonder if she was involved with Superman. At least, enough criminals seemed to think of her as Superman's girlfriend. But he wasn't a casual observer. He was Superman — so that ruled out Superman.
"My stuff!" Lois insisted. "Come on, Clark. This isn't funny. After the day I've had, the last thing I need is for you to be making jokes. My stuff. Where's…" She suddenly stopped, as if another thought had occurred to her. "Wait a minute! Why isn't Mayson dead?"
Clark's eyebrows rose. "Lois, are you feeling all right?"
"No! Obviously! Clark, what's going on here? Why were you kissing Mayson?"
"Actually, and not that it's any of your business, but she was kissing me."
"Right! And you were what? Just some innocent victim, I suppose?" She folded her arms across her chest, unconsciously mirroring Superman's stance.
"Look, Lois, I'm not sure why you're acting like this. But if you have a problem with me kissing Mayson…"
"Of course I have a problem with you kissing Mayson!" Lois exclaimed. "What the hell do you think has me so upset?" She glanced around his apartment again. "Other than the fact that all my stuff is missing and that Mayson is even alive and that I can't remember anything about what happened today since we were in the elevator."
She was no longer looking at him, appearing lost in her own thoughts.
"Lois, maybe you should sit down," Clark said, taking her arm and leading her over to the couch.
"Mayson's alive," she said thoughtfully. "Yet we saw her…" Suddenly, she spun around to face him. "Clark, what day is it?" she demanded.
"No! The date."
"October twenty-seventh." When she continued to look at him expectantly, he continued. "1994."
"Oh, god," Lois said, stumbling down the few remaining steps into his living room and collapsing onto the couch before burying her head in her hands. Her groan deepened when her hands told her even more clearly that she wasn't in her own time. Her hair was long — meaning that not only was she in the past, but she'd leapt into her past body.
Lois stepped cautiously forward. She really didn't have a lot of experience dealing with these types of mental problems — this full break Clark seemed to be having with reality. Still, he was obviously in distress.
"There, there," she said, awkwardly patting him on the back. "Listen, I'm probably not the right person to help you at the moment. But I know a really good psychologist. I'm sure she…"
"No!" Clark's head snapped up. "Don't you see? No one can know. Until I can figure out how this happened, I have to prevent anyone else from knowing."
"I'm sure you feel that way now, Clark. But it's nothing to be embarrassed about. Once you get some help, I'm sure you'll be fine. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of." She glanced towards the door to the conference room, trying to figure out how long it would take her to get Perry.
"No, Lois, you don't understand." He spun out of his chair.
She felt her blood pressure rise when he unconsciously situated himself between her and the door. Her eyes shot to the door and back to him. Her escape route was cut off.
God, why hadn't she seen it before? When she'd met Clark Kent a few days before, she'd thought he was just a harmless hack from Nowheresville. But looking at him now, she suddenly realized just how big and muscular he was. And he was standing between her and freedom.
"I do understand, Clark," she said in her most placating voice.
"Don't patronize me, Lois!"
"Okay, okay. No patronizing," she said, hoping that statement didn't sound as patronizing to him as it did to her.
Clark ran a hand through his hair, obviously agitated.
"Look, Lois. Please. I… Okay so this might sound a little bit crazy…" He ran his hand through his hair again.
"I don't think you should use that word, Clark. It's not crazy. You're just having a little… break from reality. It doesn't make you crazy."
She fell silent, again contemplating whether she could make it past him and out the door to where she would find the safety of her colleagues. She at least wished the blinds were up on the conference room windows. Still, surely if she got into real trouble and screamed, someone would come to her rescue.
"I'm from the future, Lois. Three and a half years, to be precise."
"Oh, well, that certainly explains it."
"Look, I told you it would sound crazy, but it's true." He growled. "Why couldn't I have leapt into myself sometime after we first met H.G. Wells?" he muttered.
"The writer? Didn't he die?"
"Only in this time."
"So in the future he comes back to life?"
"No, but… Lois, H.G. Wells invented a time machine."
"He wrote a book about inventing a time machine, Clark. You're just confused about…"
"No! Lois, he actually invented a time machine. Now, I don't know exactly what is happening, but I need your help to get back."
"Back to the future?"
"Exactly. You see there's this man from the future — Tempus — and he is constantly trying to destroy Utopia, and to do that, he thinks…" Clark was suddenly hit by a wave of dizziness and he grabbed onto the back of a chair as the world began to spin. "Lois…" he cried out as the world faded around him.
"Lois, what is going on here?" Clark asked.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Lois mumbled without looking up. "Why couldn't I have jumped in after we met Herb?"
Clark sat down next to her. "Try me, Lois," he said softly.
She finally looked up at him. "I'm not supposed to be here."
"Here? As in my apartment? I don't…"
"No! Here — as in 1994."
"Clark, I'm from the future. See I knew you wouldn't believe me," she said, obviously seeing something on his face.
"No, no, it's not… Okay, so maybe it is. Lois, you've got to admit, it's a little… far-fetched. Are you sure you're feeling okay?"
She laughed without humor. "Oh, fine. Just dandy." She looked over at him. "Clark, I know you're finding this hard to believe but… can you just suspend your disbelief for a moment? I've got to find a way home and… I need your help."
"What if I told you that future me knows that you're Superman?" she asked, struck by a sudden inspiration.
"What… how…" He suddenly looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
"I told you, I'm from the future. Trust me, the me of this time doesn't have a clue. So… do you believe me now?"
He looked at her for a long moment, silently debating her startling revelation. But this was Lois, so… "Where do you want to start?" he asked.
She finally gave him a smile. It was the type of smile he would do almost anything to see — even if it meant helping her supposedly get back to the future. "Okay, well, I'm not really sure. One minute I was…" She hesitated slightly. "…in the elevator at the Daily Planet. The next I was practically standing outside your door."
"So what makes you think that this is a different time? Maybe you… I don't know, just got so lost in thought that you can't remember your trip to my place?"
She raised her eyebrow. "And found myself in 1994?"
"So where were you expecting to be?"
"In…" Her voice trailed off. "I'm not sure how much I should tell you."
"What if something I tell you changes the future?"
He let out a breath. "Well, it's going to be difficult to help you without your being able to talk to me."
"I know, I know. It's just…"
"But you have told me some things already," Clark continued. "Lois, you said you're married?"
"Yes," she answered cautiously.
A grin appeared momentarily at one corner of her mouth. "I have a feeling that's exactly the type of thing I can't tell you."
"Okay, fair enough. I guess I should have known that."
"I suspect you did know that," Lois said. "After all, how would knowing that help me get home?"
"Just tell me this… Are you happy?"
Her face relaxed into a smile. "Very."
"Clark," she warned, knowing exactly what he was doing. After all, from what she now knew, he had always loved her. So in his mind, if she told him that she was married and he was happy, then there would be only one possible conclusion.
"Okay, fine. But… I really think I need to know how far in the future you're from."
She studied him for a long moment. "Can we just leave that for the moment? It might become necessary, but… well, until we come up with a plan, I think it might be best to keep that to myself."
Clark nodded. "So you mentioned something about someone named Herb… Wait! Mayson is dead in the future? What happened to her?"
"I can't tell you that, Clark. It could change the past — or well, I guess the future. But… you know what I mean."
He nodded. "Besides, given that you won't tell me how far in the future you come from, she might have died in her late seventies. Except… Well, you don't look any different. So I'd have to guess that you're not from very far in the future."
"Looks can be deceiving," Lois mumbled, running a hand through her suddenly too-long hair.
"So… What does that mean?"
"It appears that I leapt into my past body. I wonder where my past self is," she muttered to herself.
"So… then Mayson could have died in her late seventies?"
"She might have," Lois said before hesitating. If she told him what happened, Clark would undoubtedly change the future. After all, Mayson's death was only weeks away. And if anything could change the future, it would be having someone not die when they were supposed to. Not only that, there was always the question of how Mayson might have changed Lois' private past. Still, how could she not tell him when it was in her hands to save Mayson's life? If only she could ask Clark what he thought she should do? But then… why couldn't she? After all, it was his past, too.
"Clark, I need to ask you something."
"You can ask me anything."
"If I know that something bad is going to happen, and I know that by telling you, you will feel compelled to change it and thereby change the future…"
"Should you tell me anyway?"
"How bad is it?"
"And there is no way you can change it in the future?"
She shook her head.
"And you really think that telling me might change your past?"
She hesitated. She and Clark had just been starting out when Mayson died. If Mayson and Dan had both been alive at the same time, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that Clark might have turned to Mayson when she had turned to Dan. No. No. She would never have turned to Dan if Clark hadn't been so distracted after Mayson's death that he had made her believe that she was yesterday's news.
She flinched slightly. No, that wasn't exactly true. There was also the issue of Clark's continual disappearing act — which had made her unsure of Clark's feelings. She may well have still turned to Dan. And if Clark had turned to Mayson when she turned to Dan… Well, who knew what might have happened then?
She suspected it probably wouldn't have hurt their relationship in the long run, but… could she be absolutely certain about that?
"It could devastate it," she finally admitted.
He nodded slowly before turning his thoughts inward for a moment. "I've never been in your situation," he said. "So I really can't tell you what to do. But I've always believed that you do what is right and leave the consequences to tend to themselves. But, Lois, as I said, I've never been in your situation before."
She chewed on her lower lip as she thought about his comment. She could save Mayson's life. One word to Clark would do that. But what if it destroyed her future with Clark? Still, how could she ever be happy if she went back to the future knowing that she'd let Mayson die just so she could be with Clark?
"Clark, Mayson will be killed by a car bomb."
"What? How do I go about preventing…"
"Okay, look, I need you just to listen, okay? You can't tell her this."
"She'd write me off as crazy, for one thing."
"Exactly. But… I'm not sure how much I should tell you."
"Then how do I stop it? Lois, what am I supposed to do? Follow her around, maybe for years, until I locate a bomb in her car?"
She let out a slow breath, debating. How much should she tell him? She had to tell him something — obviously. But if she told him the time and date of Mayson's death, was she going to change how he had dealt with everything that had happened that day? After all, there had been things about that day that she definitely did not want to change. "What I will tell you is this… The day after our first date, we kiss."
His eyebrows rose.
"Not our almost first date, you understand. But our first date. While we are kissing, Mayson will be killed by a bomb in her car."
"So instead of kissing you, I should be…"
"No! Clark, that kiss…" She hesitated, torn. That kiss had been the beginning. After slamming the door in his face the night before, she'd honestly believed she'd blown everything. That kiss had set them back on track.
"Lois, what are you saying I should do?"
"We took a long time getting out of the Daily Planet that night — putting our story to bed. We were on our way over to give our statements to Mayson when it happened. Just… get us out of the Daily Planet a little earlier. Please, Clark. That kiss… it's important. But…" Tears came to her eyes. "…I guess if it comes down to a choice between saving Mayson and… You have to save Mayson. But…"
"You want to make sure I kiss you, too."
She shrugged. "Maybe it's crazy, but I think it's kind of important."
His hand came up to cup her cheek. "I happen to think that any time I can kiss you is kind of important. But knowing that Mayson is in danger… You said she was killed by a bomb in her own car?"
"Then I can probably just dart out for coffee or something earlier in the evening and dismantle the bomb."
Her expression lightened. "Just remember to come back to walk over to the D.A.'s office with me?"
"I promise, Lois."
She let out a breath. "Thank you, Cl…" Her voice trailed off as a wave of dizziness came upon her.
"What's wrong, Lois?"
Lois didn't answer as she watched the world began to spin and fade around her.
Men and women in long, flowing, colorful robes sat in what appeared to be a modern version of a Greek amphitheater, tensely watching the scene play out in front of them on the large virtual screen.
Laddy was the one to speak first — which was to be expected. The most outspoken member of the council, he was an unusual thing in Utopia — a pessimist. "If Lois thinks Clark's crazy…"
"…she might actually manage to get herself reassigned," Andrus completed, from his position next to the screen. Not a member of the council himself, Andrus had been instructed to inform the council the moment it had become apparent that somehow the past was being changed. Suddenly, he looked somewhat embarrassed, realizing that he had overstepped his bounds by doing more than transfering the information from the Past Watcher's Department to the council. He was relieved when no one seemed to notice, being too concerned with the information they were being given.
"Well, she tried not to be partnered with Clark in the original history, and Perry White still continued to assign them stories together. So we may yet be all right," William, also known as William the Wise, said, injecting a note of reason into the nervous atmosphere. There was a reason he was Chief of the Council.
"There will still be a time quake," Laddy said.
"We've survived those before," William responded.
"What's a time quake?" Remi asked, looking around at the rest of the group. Remi's small size was no barrier to the amount of respect she generated among the other members of the council, both as a descendant of Lois and Clark, but also for her own sensible outlook.
"Oh, right," William said. "You weren't part of the council when Tempus was wreaking havoc in the past last time, were you?"
Remi shook her head.
"Well, when something is changed in the past, it causes a ripple in time. That ripple manifests itself as an… earthquake, I guess — as any changes made to the past have to catch up and change our current realities. Little changes aren't that bad. But, at least in theory, the very foundation of Utopia could be destroyed by one of these quakes."
"Is there any way we can find out how bad this one might be?" Remi asked, horrified by the explanation.
"All we need to do is to run this history a little further forward," Andrus said before proceeding to do just that. "It seems we have something here," he said, stopping on a place in the history that was flashing — indicating that a change had taken place. The time stamp identified it as later the same day that Clark had had what Lois had termed his 'breakdown.'
They all fell silent as they watched the scene play out before them.
"Perry, come on. I've tried working with Kent. I really have. But this… Perry, he's seriously wacko."
"Lois, settle down. He was obviously just funning with you."
"He wasn't joking, Perry. He really thought he was from the future." She rose out of her chair and began pacing Perry White's office. "Now, you know I'm as much of a team player as the next reporter, but… Okay, okay. Maybe not. But still… you can't really expect me to work with him after this."
"Great shades of Elvis, honey. He was joking."
She stopped in front of his desk, placing both hands on its surface so that she could glare at her boss. "No, he wasn't."
"Isn't it possible that it's been so long since someone has actually had the nerve to joke with you that you don't know when they're doing it anymore?" When she still didn't back off, he sighed. "Fine. I'll talk to him. But if he says he was just joking, I'll expect you to keep working with him. I will tell him, however, that he should not joke like that with you again."
"Perry…" Lois began to object.
"That's the best I can do. Now, have you figured out why the Messenger exploded yet?"
"This isn't over, Perry," she said, straightening up and heading for the door to his office.
As she left, the council heard Perry mutter, "Great shades of Elvis," before rising to his feet and following Lois into the newsroom. "Kent, in my office," he said before returning to his chair.
"Yes, sir?" Clark said, stepping into the office.
"Close the door, son."
Clark did so, and then, following Perry's gesture, took the indicated chair.
Perry ran a hand through his hair as if not entirely certain where to begin. Finally, he just took a fortifying breath and plunged into the deep end. "You don't really think you're from the future, do you?"
"Of course not. Why would you even ask that?"
"According to Lois, you made that claim earlier this morning. I trust you remember?"
"Maybe," Clark said, looking slightly confused.
"So I take it you were just funning with Lois?"
"Well, if I said I'm from the future, I certainly wasn't serious," Clark responded carefully.
"Well, you should know that Lois isn't really too familiar with people joking around with her. Just stick to getting the story until the two of you get to know each other better. And, please, no more talk about being from the future."
Perry let out a breath. "Fine. Then git. Tell Lois you were just joking and get me the story on the Messenger explosion."
"Yes, sir," Clark said, rising to his feet and heading out of the office.
Andrus held a hand up to his ear to hear the report coming in from his office. After a moment, he let out a sigh of relief and turned to address the council. "I've got one further piece of good news. My team has come across an entry in Clark Kent's journal about the incident. Apparently, he wrote the whole thing off to some strange mood. He never did have a clear memory of the event, so he didn't make a connection to future interference. He said it was more like some sort of bizarre dream. And since it never happened again, it didn't seriously compromise their future relationship."
William let out a breath of relief. "Okay, then. We should still brace for a time quake. But it shouldn't be that bad. We've managed to dodge the bullet on that one."
"Never quite understood what that expression meant," Laddy muttered under his breath. "Back when there were bullets, could people actually dodge them?"
"So do we know yet what caused Clark to leap back in time?" William asked, ignoring Laddy's comment.
"Our people are still checking it out," Andrus said.
"Fine. Then when you know…" William's voice trailed off when Andrus raised his hand to his ear again.
"What?" Laddy demanded when he watched all the color drain from Andrus' face.
"We've got another time quake coming in. This one is even more substantial."
"No. This one was caused by Lois. Apparently, she also leapt back in time and gave Past Clark some information that enabled him to prevent Mayson Drake's death."
"Who's Mayson Drake?" William asked.
"Isn't she the woman who became interested in Clark when Lois was still vacillating about her feelings?" Remi asked.
"This could be a disaster," Laddy said, maintaining his tradition of being the voice of gloom and doom. "At the very least, if Mayson goes on to have children, the time quake will significantly change the structure of our society — by possibly creating a whole line of people who should never have been born. At the worst, if she and Clark get together, then Utopia itself could be in danger of collapsing."
In spite of his overly-negative prediction, no one disagreed. Instead, they all looked towards Andrus, who was listening intently to his ear piece.
"When will we know?" Remi asked.
"They are just searching the records now. We should know…" Andrus' voice trailed off as he again listened to something only he could hear.
Everyone seemed to hold his breath as he waited.
As if one, they all let out their own breaths when Andrus sighed in relief.
"What?" William immediately demanded.
"It seems…" Andrus fell silent again as he listened once more to his earpiece. "Okay," Andrus said with a smile, addressing the council again. "It seems we're all right. Mayson Drake didn't get in the way of the Lois/Clark courtship."
"So Utopia survives," Laddy said. "But what about children?"
"Well, she did marry," Andrus continued. "In fact, after Lois told Dan Scardino that she wasn't interested, Scardino got involved with Mayson Drake."
"Daniel Scardino married Mayson Drake?" Remi asked.
"What about children?"
"Apparently, they never had children."
"Oh, thank god," William breathed. "So what's causing this?" he asked once everyone calmed down again.
"We're working on that, sir. But as of yet… The only thing we know is that on the day they returned to work from their honeymoon, Lois and Clark seem to have leapt back time. It seems they have each only leapt once, but well… when they left their past… I'm afraid we don't know if they leapt back into their correct time or not."
"So we have no idea if there will be other time quakes," Laddy said. "And we have no idea if they are back in their correct times or what might be causing this?"
"That about sums it up, I'm sorry to say," Andrus informed the suddenly silent council.
"Brace for incoming time quake," said a voice over the intercom.
Everyone braced as a small earthquake shook the foundations of the building. Everyone let out a sigh of relief when, after it stopped, it appeared that everything was still pretty much intact. The first quake was followed by a second, more powerful quake. Once it was over, everyone looked around to see that they had all, once again, survived, even if the color paint used on the walls had changed.
Lois gave her head a shake as the dizziness receded. Where was she now? Or, maybe more importantly, *when* was she? Because she knew where she was. She was also pretty sure what had happened. She'd leapt into an entirely different time in her life. But past or future?
She glanced around, trying to orient herself. She was sitting on a park bench in Centennial Park. Clark was standing nearby. It was a beautiful spring day. Clark looked young to her. And his suits… It was before he'd started dressing more G.Q. It suddenly occurred to her that that particular change had taken place at about the same time as they had started dating. The new glasses. The new clothes. A small smile played at the corners of her mouth. He'd been trying to impress her. Well, it must have worked. After all, she'd married him, hadn't she? Not for the clothing, of course. But because he was Clark — sloppy suits and loud ties notwithstanding.
She forced her mind back on track. So… when was it? Sometime in the first year they had known each other, perhaps?
She silently studied Clark's face as he stared beyond her. He looked devastated. She could remember that look, but when?
"You should probably be getting back to work," Clark said. "I doubt your boss at LNN is as tolerant as Perry."
He had turned and begun to walk away when it finally struck her when she was. She was working at LNN. She and Clark were in a park. He was looking devastated. It was the day when Clark had finally told her he loved her. This was her chance to do things differently. She'd hurt him so badly that day, compounding the pain when she'd immediately asked him to tell Superman she was looking for him. How many times had she wished she'd handled things differently that day?
"Clark!" she yelled after him.
He didn't turn. Didn't acknowledge that he even heard her — although she knew he must have.
"Clark, come back." She jumped to her feet but found the residual dizziness from her leap forced her to grab onto the back of the park bench for support. "We need to talk," she yelled at his quickly retreating figure.
He was already halfway across the park, and he was moving at a pace that would make it impossible for her to catch him — especially when it was obvious he didn't want to be caught.
She let out a breath. She'd jumped in too late. She'd already told him she didn't love him. What was the point of leaping into the past if one couldn't change those things that mattered? Not that she'd seen any point to this random leaping so far.
So… what to do? An idea struck her, and a slow smile lit up her face.
Oh, god. No. No. Anywhere but here! Clark would rather be lying in Luthor's kryptonite cage listening to the Wedding March play on the loud speakers than right here, right now. At least he knew that had a happy ending — or, well, sort of. But this… How could this be anything but a disaster?
He groaned as he watched Lois remove the first blue veil and begin dancing closer, looking at him through a slit in the material.
It had been hard enough resisting her the first time. In fact, even then he'd almost given in. But now that he knew the taste of her body, the smell of her skin when she was aroused; now that he knew those intoxicating little sounds she made when he touched her; now that he knew what it felt like to be inside her; now that he knew what it was like to make love to Lois Lane, how was he supposed to resist her now?
"Lois," he began even as his body reacted violently to her sensuous movements, "you don't know how much I want to do this… but it's not real. What you're feeling isn't real. It's the pheromone compound Miranda sprayed everyone with. It made the whole newsroom drunk… on love. Please, please. I'm begging you here. I don't know if I can resist you this time. Please… stop."
Ignoring his pleas, she continued to glide and swirl her way towards him, dancing with the veil between them, staring deeply into his eyes. "You know, it's remarkable. I never noticed it before. You look a lot like Superman."
Clark groaned. "Lois, every woman in love thinks her man looks like Superman."
"See, Clark, that just proves it. My feelings are real. I'm in love with you." She draped the first veil over his shoulder and proceeded to untie the second veil, dancing with it backwards, away from him again. "Crazily, hopelessly, dizzyingly, eternally in love." She spun around, showing exactly how dizzying it was.
Clark groaned when the action gave him tantalizing glimpses of the body beneath the remaining veils.
She tossed the second veil in his direction and began removing a third. He felt a further burst of passion when her action exposed even more of the body Clark had come to know so well in the past two weeks. He took an unconscious step towards her.
"Come to me, my darling. Take me. I'm yours."
Her comment brought his unexpected movement to a halt. The last time she'd performed this dance he'd been in part aroused, but another part of him had been embarrassed. It had been that part as much as anything else that had kept him from acting on her offers. But now… without that embarrassment brought about by his lack of sexual experience… how was he supposed to resist now?
"What is stopping you, my darling?" she asked, dancing her way back over to him so that she could flip the third veil around his neck and pull him into her dance.
"Look, Lois, I want to. You have no idea how much I want to…"
"Then do," Lois purred, brushing her body against his, bringing every part she touched to life.
"But I can't. I don't know why I'm back here. Or how to get home. But something tells me that I can't do anything that would drastically change my past. And trust me, this would definitely change my past."
"And your future," she purred, swirling her tongue around his Adam's apple.
"You're going to wake up tomorrow and then…"
"I'll be basking in the afterglow." She finally let go of the thin material that was holding him to her and began undoing a fourth veil.
He groaned as his body grew even harder. Maybe she was right. Maybe it wouldn't hurt anything if he took her up on what she was so freely offering. He was a newlywed, after all. And she was his wife. Maybe it would be okay if he just… let it happen.
She nipped on his earlobe and suddenly something inside Clark snapped. He pulled her into his arms as his lips descended on hers. He wrapped one arm around her body, pulling her tight against him, while the other made its way into her hair. His tongue coaxed her mouth open, exploring every inch. Her moan sent another rush of blood south, and her outfit did nothing to keep him from feeling every inch of her body.
Lois sat on her couch, a romance novel open in front of her as she waited for Superman. She'd recreated that night as best she could. Not that it had been easy. But looking through her nightgowns, she'd found a red one that she thought might be the same one as she'd worn that night so long ago. Spaghetti straps. Long, flowing. A tad too revealing. But honestly, she really hadn't been expecting Superman. After all, she hadn't seen him that afternoon. And she hadn't known whether or not Clark had spoken to him.
As for standing on the rooftop yelling, 'Help, Superman!' she had rejected that idea almost the moment it had come to her. She knew he would come if she yelled for him. He always came when she was in jeopardy. But if she started using it when she wasn't in danger, she feared that he wouldn't think it was an emergency when she did need him. The story of the little boy who cried wolf came to mind.
Knowing what she knew now, of course, she would have expected Superman to appear that evening. After all, she had told Clark that she needed him. Then… then she'd been completely clueless.
She felt somewhat vulnerable in the nightgown. But it was probably best to create things as closely to that past as she could. At least that way, she would know what to expect.
Besides, she wasn't entirely sure how much of the past she should be trying to change. In that sense, it might have been just as well that she'd leaped into this time frame when she had. If she had confessed her feelings to Clark in the park, at a time before she'd been ready to make that type of declaration, they might not be where they were now — crazy in love and just back from their honeymoon.
After all, months later, when Clark had finally worked up the nerve to ask her out, she'd been so skittish she'd actually slammed the door in his face after their first date. Now… No, she wouldn't have been ready. And if her first leap into the past had taught her anything, it was that she had no real idea how long she might be there. No. Every step in their relationship, even the painful ones — maybe especially the painful ones — had brought them to the position of trust they shared today.
But there was one thing she could do, or at least, she hoped so, without doing any major damage to their history — and yet saving both herself and Clark a lot of unnecessary grief. She could handle her meeting with Superman differently this time than she had before.
A gust of wind coming from the direction of her window told her that it was time for the show. She took a deep breath, set down her book and stood up, turning towards the man now standing in her living room.
"Superman," Lois breathed. God, this was going to be harder than she'd imagined. What she really wanted to do right now was strip every last piece of that suit off his body and have her way with him. She was a newlywed, after all. It should be her right. And this was the first time she'd seen him in that all-too-revealing suit since they had finally become intimate.
"I heard you wanted to see me," Superman said, his voice void of emotion.
She frowned, studying his face. Why hadn't she seen it the first time? He was so emotionless — even more so than Superman usually was — as if he would rather be anywhere but her apartment. Yet she'd been too head-over-heels crazy about him to even notice and had plunged in with declarations of love that had pushed him even further away.
And yet, even now, it was all she could do not to throw herself at him again — this time perhaps even using a full-press physical attack to wear down his resistance. Still, she pushed those thoughts away. Not here. Not now. "Yes," she said, trying to remember what came next. The robe. Right. "Please come in. I'll just put on a robe."
"Unless it's lead-lined, Lois, it's a waste of time."
She crinkled her eyebrows, remembering how foolish his comment had made her feel at the time. On the other hand… "So what are you saying?" she asked. "Are you saying that you normally x-ray my clothes?"
"No, of course not."
"Then why would I have to line them with lead?" she demanded, folding her arms across her chest.
"I just meant…"
"What did you mean, Cl… Superman? After all, it sounded to me like you were saying that if I put on a robe, you would just x-ray it anyway." She tapped her foot on the ground, waiting for a response.
"I just… I meant… I…"
She raised an eyebrow as she watched him flounder. Finally, she decided to put him out of his misery. "I think I'll just put on that robe now," she said, turning and, without waiting for his response, heading to her bedroom.
Okay, good. She had him off balance. "Now to change things," she whispered to herself as she closed her bedroom door.
"No! No!" Andrus exclaimed. "She is planning to change things! We have to stop her! And with Clark kissing Lois… Did you see how passionate that kiss is? He's out of control! He'll never be able to stop now! We have to…" Each sentence was louder and higher than the one before it.
"Andrus!" William exclaimed. "Get ahold of yourself, man. We need to stay focused. And we need your help. You can fall apart later, I promise." He considered slapping Andrus to snap him out of his panic. And, god help him, if Andrus didn't get a grip on himself, that was exactly what he was going to have to do. Panic like that could be contagious. He knew that. Still, the very thought terrified William. After all, when was the last time anyone had inflicted violence in Utopia? And to have the person who finally did be the head of the council… would that, in itself, not be enough to radically alter their society?
He let out a breath of relief when Andrus seemed to get control — if one could call it that.
"Help, right. Fall apart later, right," Andrus said, turning back to the problem at hand. As long as he could fall apart later, he'd be all right.
Lois found her most shlumpy but comfortable robe and slipped it on before heading back into her living room. No point tempting fate — or her libido. After all, she wasn't sure whom she didn't trust more — him or her. Actually, that wasn't really a question. She didn't trust herself. After all, when he'd made his lead-lined crack, she'd almost been tempted to say, 'Well, if you are x-raying my clothes anyway…' before slipping out of her nightgown. And that was definitely not the way to handle this situation.
When she arrived back in her living room, she saw Superman still standing where she had left him earlier, looking like a lost little boy. Her heart went out to him. She knew he was hurting. She had to play this right or she was going to inflict even more hurt. That very thought killed her rampaging hormones. Still, it didn't end her desire to wrap her arms around him and tell him that it would all be okay in the end.
But Clark wouldn't take that as comfort. Not now. That left only one option. As she'd told Clark when they had been held in separate cages by the Lakes, 'You can touch me with your words.' She took a deep breath. "Why don't you have a seat?"
"Whatever you needed to see me about, you should probably just tell me. I never know when I'll be needed."
Lois gave a brief nod. He obviously wanted to get out of there to… knowing Clark, he was probably planning on going somewhere and punching out an iceberg or something similar. Well, maybe she could change his immediate plans. "Fine. I assume since the only one I told that I needed to talk to you was Clark that you spoke to him."
"That's right," Superman said cautiously.
"Did he tell you that Lex Luthor proposed to me?"
"I'm aware of that," he answered carefully.
She fought the urge to smile. Clark really was such a boy scout — always trying to avoid, as much as possible, telling an outright lie. "Did he also tell you about our… talk earlier today?"
"I know what you talked about."
"That's why I need your help."
"My help?" Superman asked, obviously confused.
Lois let out a breath. "Are you sure you don't have a moment to sit down? This might take a little while and I've been on my feet all day."
"Uhh, yes. The new job."
She shot him a pointed look at the bitter tone in his voice. "Well, a paycheck is a paycheck. And some of us do need to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table."
"But I thought you loved the new job?" Superman asked, suddenly sounding much more like Clark.
Still, as far as he knew, she wasn't aware that they were one and the same. She tried to think back to what she had felt at the time. "Nothing will ever replace the Daily Planet. It's been more than a work place for me. It's the closest thing I've ever had to a family. But what do you expect me to do? Sit around, crying into my coffee about how it was destroyed?"
"No, of course not."
She let out a breath. "It doesn't matter. That's not what I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to talk to you about Clark."
"Clark?" Superman asked cautiously.
Since Clark still wasn't sitting down, she decided to go ahead and take a seat. Maybe once she got started, he'd join her. If not… well, at least he was listening.
"Well, Clark and Lex actually," she said. "But let's start with Clark."
"What about him?"
"Well, if you're aware of our talk today, then I assume you know that he told me he's in love with me."
"That's why I can't talk to him about Lex."
"I don't understand," Superman said, finally taking a seat.
"Look, if this is going to make any sense at all, I'm going to have to explain about Clark and me."
"Clark is my best friend. In fact, I'm probably closer to him than I am to anyone else in the world. I'm not entirely sure how it happened. I had so many barriers up when I first met him. You see, I had this belief that if I didn't let anyone get close, then no one could hurt me." She glanced up from where she'd been looking at her hands to see that she now had Clark's full attention. She knew she couldn't tell Clark she loved him. That would leave the younger her in a very awkward position when she leapt again — assuming she did leap — and in all likelihood ruin their future relationship. After all, at this particular point in time, she hadn't realized that what she felt for Clark was, indeed, love. On the other hand, she could make Clark understand just how special he was to her. Admit those things that she had felt at this point in their relationship.
"In fact, I don't think anyone means more to me than Clark does. When I think about the future, Clark's there. His laugh. His strength. His friendship."
"Friendship," Superman said, a touch of irony in his voice.
"For me, that's a lot. The thought of losing him… No. I could take almost anything but that." She let out a breath.
"Wait a minute," Superman said. "Clark means more to you than Luthor does? Then why are you marrying Luthor?"
Okay, here was where it got tricky. A tightrope she was going to have to walk that wouldn't get her former self in trouble in the future. "I never said that I was marrying Lex. I don't know what I'm going to do about Lex. What I do know is that Clark has made a number of… vague insinuations about Lex and I need to know what is true and what is just… jealousy."
"Vague insinuations?" Superman asked cautiously, and Lois instantly knew she'd hit her mark.
It was the one thing about the whole Lex Luthor fiasco that had always bothered her. Comments like, 'Be careful with Luthor. You don't know him like I do,' had always sounded more like jealousy-induced rants than evidence of wrongdoing. "Vague insinuations," she repeated. "If Clark had something on Lex, he'd tell me. But since he sticks to throwing out these little insults, what am I supposed to think except that he is jealous of Lex?"
"Maybe he can't prove anything."
"I'm not asking for proof," Lois said in exasperation. "How about one decent concrete theory? One small piece of damaging information? He hasn't given me anything except insinuations. What am I supposed to think except that he's jealous? I mean, after all, you seem to like Lex. You've appeared with him at a lot of charity functions. I've seen you share the same stage with him. I've seen the two of you shake hands. You don't have any reservations about Lex, so why does Clark? If he had anything, he'd tell me. And we'd investigate it together. It's what we do. Otherwise, I have to conclude he is just jealous of Lex."
She watched the astonishment grow in Superman's eyes with every expression. Good. It was something that had troubled her for months after her almost-marriage to Lex. Why hadn't Clark told her exactly what he suspected? For that matter, why hadn't Superman? Comments like, 'Go ahead and get into bed with the devil,' although colorful, had done nothing more than to convince her of Clark's jealousy. Why hadn't Clark told her about Lex's comment about 'seizing the high ground' — which corresponded with Antonette Baines' similar comment? Why hadn't Superman told her about the tests that Lex had practically admitted to being behind? Why hadn't he given her something, anything to make her actually doubt Lex?
"Would you excuse me, Lois?" Superman suddenly said, rising to his feet. "I think… I have to go." Without waiting for her response, Superman disappeared in a gust of wind.
"Ten, nine, eight," Lois began. "Seven, six, five…"
There was a knock at the door.
"A little early," she muttered as she rose to her feet and went to answer. She smiled when she looked through the peephole and saw Clark standing outside holding a large file folder. Just as she opened the door, the world began to spin around her and she felt herself beginning to fade.
He knew her taste; he knew her smell; he knew her body. She met his hunger with her own even as her arms slipped around his neck. His hand ran down her back and over her buttocks until he reached her leg, pulling it around his.
She groaned, a sound which sent his blood pounding through his ears. Seeming to realize the effect she was having on him, she rubbed her body even more purposefully against him.
"Do you have any idea what you're doing to me?" Clark groaned, finally breaking their kiss in order to catch his breath.
The sensual smile she gave him in return told him she knew exactly what she was doing to him.
"God, you are a vixen, woman," Clark growled before his lips began traveling over her neck.
She tilted her head back, giving him maximum access. Her hands tangled in his hair, trying to direct his head lower. He nibbled his way down her delectable neck and over her practically bare shoulder before heading down to explore her cleavage. Given how revealing the outfit already was, the remaining material didn't prevent much exploration. Still, Clark wasn't ready for it when her hands left his head to pull at one of the shoulder straps, causing the right side of her outfit to slither down her body.
"Oh, god," Clark breathed, his mouth instinctively heading towards the revealed skin. "No!" he suddenly exclaimed when he realized exactly what he was doing. He was seconds away from violating her trust in the worst way possible. No matter how much he wanted her, no matter how badly his body ached for her, he couldn't do this.
"Clark," she groaned in protest, her hands trying to pull his head to her.
"No," Clark said, ignoring the blood pounding in his ears. He had to do something, anything, before… His eyes drifted lower and he felt himself being drawn back in.
Quicker than she could see, he disentangled himself from her and disappeared, reappearing less than a fraction of a second later. It was a risk, but given that he'd moved faster than the human eye could follow, he believed she would not even notice that he was gone. What she would notice, however…
"Clark, what are you doing?" she asked, even as he wrapped the blanket he was now holding around her body.
"Surviving. I can't do this, Lois. I love you too much to betray your trust like this," he said, wishing with all his heart that it wasn't the truth. But if he gave in now, if he followed the desires of his body, he knew without a doubt that she would never be able to forgive him. Not at this stage in their relationship. And he wanted so much more from her than some trashy one night stand. And if he betrayed her trust, he had no doubt that was all it would ever be.
Suddenly, and much to his relief, the world began to fade around him.
Every member of the council breathed a sigh of relief.
"Looks as if we got through that leap without incident," William said.
"Well, not completely," Laddy said. "After all, Lois never accepted Luthor's proposal once she heard what Clark really suspected about Luthor."
"True," William responded. "But then, she didn't marry Luthor in the original time line, anyway. And it didn't create any major changes by having them working together to bring him down."
"And since Luthor blamed Superman when Lois turned him down," Remi continued, "and thus trapped Superman in that kryptonite cage so that Superman couldn't save Luthor when he leapt off Lex Towers, it seems we are still okay."
"Actually, I'm more worried about how close Clark came to changing history," Laddy said. "If he had broken Lois' trust that way… How much longer can this go on before one of them does something that destroys the very fabric of our society? If we can't stop this soon, it won't matter how many times our past isn't destroyed."
The conference room fell silent as the councilors all remembered the seriousness of the situation.
"Brace for incoming time quake," said the voice over the intercom.
Everyone waited, but, as predicted, it wasn't bad. And, very quickly, it passed, leaving Utopia essentially intact.
Lois looked around as the dizziness receded. When the hell was she now? She glanced down at her jeans and denim shirt. What? She hadn't owned a denim shirt since she'd been fifteen. So where… unless… Oh god no! She was on the camping trip from hell! She'd somehow jumped back to the weekend when her parents had decided they could save their marriage by sleeping in a tent and using an outhouse.
She turned slowly when she heard voices behind her.
"That's poison ivy!" Ellen exclaimed. "You pitched our tent in a poison ivy patch."
"That's not poison ivy, Ellen," Sam said. "This is a legitimate camping space. There is no way there would be poison ivy here."
"Look at those leaves. That is definitely poison ivy."
"How would you know? Where have you ever even seen poison ivy?"
"And what makes you the expert here?"
"Ellen, they aren't going to have poison ivy in a campsite. It's ludicrous."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Believe me, Dad. It's poison ivy," she muttered as she turned and headed down a nearby path. She had no idea why she might have leapt here, but there was no way she intended to stay around and listen to the non-stop arguments that had taken place that weekend… or was that this weekend? Whatever!
She didn't care. Last time she'd spent the entire weekend trying to keep the peace between her mother and father. Not that it had done any good. By the time they'd finally headed back to the city, her mother's entire body had been covered with calamine lotion. Yet there had been nothing wrong with her tongue. Her father, on the other hand, hadn't said a word the entire trip. Lucy had pretended that nothing was happening, spending her entire time coloring in a coloring book — until she finally threw up. Oh, yeah, a really great weekend had been had by all. Lois hadn't wanted anything to do with camping since.
It was getting dark as Lois wandered down the path, past various campsites. She spotted a family with three children sitting around a campfire. The children were younger than she had been… was. She stopped just out of sight, watching the rapt attention on the children's faces as their father held a flashlight under his chin. It shined up onto his face as he told them a ghost story. The mother was watching with definite affection on her face for the man entertaining his children.
She sighed. Why couldn't her family have been a little more like that?
Heading further down the path, she spotted a group of men sitting around a fire, drinking beer. They had quite obviously been drinking for quite some time.
"Hey, what have we here?" one of the men asked, spotting her.
She quickened her pace. She really didn't need this right now.
"Hey, where you going, doll? Come join us."
As if. Please. She might be in a fifteen-year-old body, but she still had an almost thirty-year-old mind. And there was no way she intended to get anywhere near that particular crowd.
As the men yelling to her from behind faded into the background, she heard what sounded like music — a couple of guitars accompanying singing voices. Some of the voices weren't that great, but together they weren't all that bad. At least it sounded as if they were having fun.
She stepped closer until she could see them through the trees. A group of high school students or perhaps young college students were sitting around a camp fire engaging in the time-honored tradition of singing around an open fire. Well, at least some were singing. Some were just roasting marshmallows. There were even a couple of couples who were more intent on each other than the general merriment around them.
Maybe if that had been her first exposure to camping instead of the trip from hell, she'd have fond memories of the great outdoors. She wished she had the nerve to go join them, but really, they were kids and although her body might be fifteen, her mind was still in its late twenties.
She could vaguely remember a group of teens from her last time here, but she'd never had the nerve to introduce herself. But she could still remember envying them even then. She supposed she still did. She sighed.
Her sigh seemed to attract the attention of one of the group. A young man. Maybe seventeen or eighteen. He looked up, an almost shocked expression on his face as his eyes unerringly found hers though the darkness.
She stood frozen to the spot as she stared back at him. She watched in stunned disbelief as her name formed on his lips in a silent prayer.
"Clark," she whispered, taking in the young man's somewhat familiar appearance and his all-too-familiar eyes. And if he knew her…
"Hey, babe. So this is where you took off to in such a hurry," said a man behind her even as a hand grabbed her arm, spinning her towards the obviously drunk man. "Come back and join the party."
Caught off guard, her mind still reeling with the unexpected encounter with Clark and the possible implications of him knowing her name — or was she sure it was her name? — she hardly reacted to her captor. Until, of course, his lips descended to hers.
"No!" she gasped, trying to pull away from the man's strong grip.
Before she could do more than protest, she felt the man being pulled off her and tossed to the ground, and between them stood…
"Clark," she whispered in relief.
"I suggest you get out of here now," Clark said to the man on the ground. "Before I set her loose on you. And trust me when I say I'm the lesser of two evils."
She closed her eyes. Although she'd been with Clark for at least part of every leap, for some reason knowing that the boy with her now had the mind and memories of her husband — at least that was the only explanation she could come up with for his apparent knowledge of her — brought tears to her eyes. She stepped up close behind him, slipping her arms around his waist and leaning against his back while he continued to face down her would-be Romeo. His only concession to her move was to place a hand over her arms where they slipped around in front of him — telling her that he welcomed her touch.
"Go on now," Clark said to the man.
The man stared at the two of them for a moment more before scrambling to his feet and staggering away.
"You've changed your aftershave," Lois breathed into Clark's neck, still pressed up against his back.
"Lois…" Clark whispered, finally turning towards her and gathering her against his chest. "And you've changed your shampoo."
The feel of his body was different. His height was a little different, although he was still taller than she. His smell had changed. But the moment his lips found hers, everything was the same. His kiss was the same and it still had the power to make her weak in the knees.
She tangled her hands in his hair as she took her time, slowly exploring his mouth while he did the same to her. His taste. The feel of his lips. The rumble deep in his chest that told her he approved of what she was doing. The way he kissed. She'd know it anywhere. She'd know him anywhere — no matter how he looked or dressed. She could feel his spirit, bonded to hers, drawing her, as always, closer to him.
A high pitched female voice caused Lois and Clark to draw apart. Lois knew that voice. The voice was followed by the appearance of a teenage Lana Lang.
"Who's this?" Lana asked.
Clark gave Lois an apologetic look before releasing her to turn towards Lana. "This is a friend of mine from Metropolis."
"Really?" Lana said, her eyes quickly sizing Lois up. "How good a friend?"
"A very good friend," Lois couldn't help but respond, even as she reached over, slipping her hand in the back pocket of Clark's jeans in a blatant show of ownership.
Clark shot her a warning look, but Lois didn't care. All she wanted right now was some time alone with her husband, time to figure out what was going on and maybe even… something a little more. After all, who knew how long it would be before they would leap again — always assuming, of course, that Clark hadn't been in this particular time all along. The last thing she needed was to deal with Lana's possessiveness. It had been hard enough to tolerate in the alternate universe, but here, with Lois' own Clark, only two weeks after their wedding, it was unendurable.
"Clark?" Lana asked, her tone of voice definitely conveying her displeasure with the current situation.
Clark quickly turned towards Lois, removing her hand from his pocket as he did so, but still keeping her hand clasped firmly in his. "Just give me a minute to talk to Lana," he said, his eyes pleading with her.
She narrowed her eyes, silently telling him that anything longer than sixty seconds would not be tolerated — and that he'd better have a good explanation ready when he did return as to why he wasn't just telling Lana to get lost.
He gave her a nod, indicating he'd understood the message before releasing her hand and making his way over to where Lana was standing.
"Clark, what are you doing with that… that… girl?" Lois heard Lana hiss. "How do you even know her?"
"First, I already told you, she's someone I met from Metropolis. And second… aren't you the one who told me a couple of weeks ago when Bobby 'Oh, He's So Delicious' Barnes asked you to go to the ball game that we aren't exclusive?"
Lois tried, quite unsuccessfully, to fight back a snort of laughter. She knew she'd failed when Lana shot her a look that could easily kill.
"But you're here with me," Lana whined, lowering her voice and turning both herself and Clark slightly away from Lois.
"Look, I didn't plan to run into her," Clark said, not following Lana's lead of keeping his voice down. "But now that I have, I'm going to spend some time talking to her. Go back to the campfire, Lana. I'll see you later."
Then, leaving a speechless Lana behind him, he turned back to Lois. "Ready?" he asked, holding a hand out to her.
Lois smiled and nodded, slipping her hand into Clark's. Holding hands, they left a still speechless Lana behind them as they headed down the path.
"Do you really think you should have done that, Clark?" Lois asked when they were far enough away that she knew Lana couldn't overhear her.
He shot Lois a curious look.
"Don't get me wrong, I adore you for it, but… well, couldn't it affect your past?"
Clark shook his head. "I doubt it. After all, Lana will dump me permanently next week when the college kids come back and Stan makes a play for her. Besides, I always wished I had broken up with Lana before she broke up with me."
"Well, glad I could be of assistance, farmboy," she said, giving him a shy smile.
Clark pulled them to a stop the moment they were out of sight of Lana. "Besides, I needed to be alone with you."
She let out a jagged breath. "I need to be alone with you, too." She quickly found herself being pulled into his arms. "Oh, Clark. I've missed you so much," she said against his chest.
He buried his face in her hair, sighing deeply. "I missed you, too."
She pulled back far enough to look into his eyes. "You know, it's funny. I've been with you… well, almost constantly since… I last saw you, but…"
"It's not the same," Clark finished for her, lowering his mouth back to hers.
The sound of drunken chatter coming from down the path soon forced them apart.
"So… where can a couple go to get some privacy around here?" Lois asked breathlessly. "We need to… talk."
A sudden flash of fire appeared in his eyes for a moment at her stumbled last word, before disappearing once again. After all, they did need to talk — desperately. "I know just the place," he said, taking her hand and leading her quickly in the appropriate direction. Finally coming to a rock-cut along the shore, he placed his hands on Lois' waist, lifting her up to so that she could sit on the top before releasing her to hop up beside her. When he helped her to her feet, Lois looked at him quizzically.
"I'm only seventeen," he said. "I didn't fly until I was eighteen."
She smiled. "Well, at least you sure can leap."
"Yep. I suspect I could leap tall buildings in a single bound — although in Kansas…"
"There aren't a lot of buildings to practice on?"
"Something like that. Still, there are silos and water towers."
"Oh, well that's good to know. Who needs hundred-story buildings when you have silos and water towers?"
"Come on," Clark said, smiling as he took her hand.
He led her along the rock-cut for a while before directing her down to a small alcove along the shore. Once inside, Lois found herself standing on soft sand, surrounded on three sides by uncut ridges of rock and on the fourth by the lake, gentle waves washing up onto the sandy shore. In this position, they were protected not only from the wind and the noise from the campground, but also from prying eyes.
"You wouldn't be trying to get me alone to take advantage of me, would you, farmboy?" Lois asked, even as she wrapped her arms around his neck, the light words belying the seriousness of the situation. Still, at the moment, before they got down to business, what Lois needed most was the reassurance of his presence, the feel of his touch, the safety of his arms.
"Mmm… always," he responded, pulling her closer, seeming to understand her unspoken plea — perhaps because he shared it.
"Clark, what's going on here?" Lois asked after a long moment, still not releasing him.
"I don't know. Have… have you been here this whole time?"
"I was wondering the same thing about you. How long have you been here? In fact, why are you here?"
"Here as in… in this time? Or here as in… in this place?"
"A bunch of us came up to New Troy State Park for a weekend at the end of my junior year of high school. That's actually when I came across this particular place," Clark said, waving his arm to indicate their isolated cove.
He pulled back to look into her eyes. "When I was out exploring when I was here at seventeen. As far as how long I've been here… I just arrived… maybe fifteen minutes before I saw you."
"That's about how long I've been here. So then… how many other times have you been to?"
"Two — well, other than this one."
"Me too. So…"
"We are probably jumping at the same time. But that still doesn't tell us what's going on."
"It's got to be Tempus. After all, who else do we know who's into time travel?"
"Not to mention trying to ruin our lives. But… have you seen him at all since you started leaping?"
She shook her head.
"So… any idea how we stop this?"
He let out his breath, finally releasing her and leading her over closer to the beach. He sat down on the still sun-warmed sand. She joined him there.
"I have no idea," Clark said, watching as she removed her shoes and socks to bury her feet in the soft sand. "God, you're so sexy," he breathed, causing her to look up at him. "A little younger maybe. But still…" He drew in a breath through his teeth.
"Even with my Charlie's Angels' hair?"
He smiled. "I think it sort of works — especially when it's surrounding that beautiful face and with that…" He ran his eyes over her body. "…gorgeous body. At least… it's certainly working for me at the moment," Clark said, before his voice took on a teasing quality. "Of course, I might be slightly biased. After all, I'd think you were beautiful if all your hair fell out and you were covered with warts — just as long as you were still Lois."
The husky texture his voice had taken on throughout his comments caused tears to come to her eyes. She'd missed him so much. There might still be a lot to talk about, but just being here with him, things suddenly seemed a lot more manageable. They were together. And what she needed most at the moment was him.
She moved closer, sitting next to him on the sand facing him before reaching up and stroking his cheek. "You look so young," she said softly, her eyes focused firmly on his. Then a smile lit up her sad face. "It almost feels as if I'm cheating with the pool boy."
"A fantasy of yours, perhaps?" he asked in an obvious attempt to lighten the tense atmosphere.
"Only if you're the pool boy," she whispered.
Unable to resist, he leaned in to kiss her.
She giggled, pulling back suddenly. He looked at her in confusion.
"I got a tip for you, poolboy."
He smiled. "And what's that?"
"Laser vision shaving."
He laughed, his hand going up to his face. "I'd already learned that trick by this point. Or are you saying I need a shave?"
She ran her hand gently over his cheek. "I'll take you any way I can get you." She sighed. "I'm just glad you're here."
He pulled her back to him, kissing her again, this time much more passionately, purposefully. She felt heat spark into flame in her belly as she pushed him back into the sand so that she could lean over him, never breaking contact with his lips. With one hand, she held herself above him even as the other worked frantically on the buttons of his flannel shirt.
The instant the shirt was open, she slipped her hand inside, running it over his pectoral muscles, learning the newness of him even as the heat that began to grow in her stomach informed her that she'd spent the past two weeks exploring every inch of his body. It had changed somewhat, but, even at seventeen it still was pretty magnificent. Yes, she had known every inch of him — before Tempus had forced them apart.
The thought of Tempus doused the heat. Pulling back, she looked into Clark's dark, passion-filled eyes.
"What?" he asked.
"We don't know how long we have here. We've got to talk about Tempus."
He closed his eyes, clearly fighting the same battle she was — the need to talk conflicting with the need to reaffirm their love in a ritual as old as time. Was it possible that their teenage hormones were actually intensifying their need for each other? It was almost inconceivable to think that their passion could be any stronger than it had been during their honeymoon. But right now, it seemed even more intense. More unmanageable.
"What about him?" Clark finally asked without opening his eyes.
She snuggled down against him, her fingers still lightly tracing the muscles of his chest. His hand came up to cover hers, stilling her motion.
"Well, okay, I'm not entirely sure where to start here. Maybe I should tell you when I've been and what's been happening. And you could do the same."
Clark let out a breath. "Well, I've been trying not to change too much about our past, mostly. I'm afraid that if we aren't careful, we could damage our current relationship — no matter how good our intentions are."
"I had the same idea. However…"
She fidgeted nervously. "First, can I ask you a question?"
"Well, when you say you always loved me…"
"Lois, what did you do?"
"Just… Clark, I need to know… if Mayson had lived, would you still have chosen me over her?"
"Every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Lois, what's this abo… You saved Mayson's life?"
"How… not exactly?"
Not sure if he was upset with her or not, she continued anxiously. "I sort of told past you how to save Mayson's life. But it was your idea."
"I asked you if I should tell you something that might… prevent something bad from happening even if it would change my past, and you told me to do what was right and let the future take care of itself."
"Well, I'm an idiot," Clark said, only half joking. "Besides, when did you ever listen to me before?"
"You were right, Clark. I couldn't not say anything and just let her die. I'd always wonder if I did it just because I was jealous of her."
Clark raised himself on his arms so that she was forced to turn and look into his eyes. "You were jealous of her?"
"Are you kidding?" Lois responded. "I was absolutely, insanely jealous of her. When she interrupted our dance at the Church party, I wanted to rip her eyes out."
A slow smile spread across Clark's face.
"I should have known you'd like that," she muttered, snuggling back down against his chest even as he pulled her closer. "So… you're not upset with me for telling past you about Mayson?"
"How could I be mad, Lois? You're right. It was the right thing to do. We'll deal with any consequences of your actions. I promise. After all, even before Mayson died, I realized that no matter how much she seemed to love the Clark part of me, I was completely in love with you. And at least you had a good reason for changing the past."
Lois looked up into his eyes again. "What did you do?" she asked cautiously.
"Well, I didn't. At least, not in the end, but… It's what I almost did."
"Only you, Clark Kent, would be worried about what you almost did. So… what did you almost do?"
"Do you remember the Dance of the Seven Veils?"
She groaned, burying her face in his chest. "How could I possibly forget?"
"Well, during one of my jumps, I was back there."
"Why was it so much easier to resist you the first time around?"
"Because neither of us knew what we were missing," Lois said.
"You mean, I didn't."
"Neither of us," she repeated, holding his gaze. "Clark, if I had known what it was like to make love to you, trust me on this… We never would have made it to our wedding night. But… Oh, Clark, you didn't?"
"No, no. I… well, okay, there were a couple of passionate kisses that I didn't indulge in last time. But when you… undid the strap holding up the top part of your dress… You have no idea how close I came, Lois. And if I had broken your trust like that… that early in our relationship…"
"I'd have had a really hard time getting past it," Lois confirmed.
"So what finally stopped you?"
"The realization that I wanted what we have — a life long commitment, not some instant gratification."
She smiled. "Well, you've got that, poolboy. Although, was my poor baby left frustrated?"
He captured her smile in a brief kiss. "So we're agreed?"
"That until we work this out, we have to avoid, at least to the extent we are able, making any major changes to our pasts?"
Her eyebrows crinkled for a moment. "Except…"
"Well, I don't think it will change the past, because I never actually married Lex, but…"
"Well, when you came to see me as Superman, after I'd rejected you in the park, I sort of… I couldn't exactly hurt you the way I did last time. So instead I spent my time telling you, without letting you know I was from the future, exactly how much I cared about Clark and… I sort of gave you some hints about how you might have been able to stop me from accepting Lex's proposal."
"Lois, that's exactly the type of thing we need to avoid doing! Even if we hurt each other… we can't change our past!"
"Okay, okay. I get that. It's just a lot easier to do in theory than it is in practice. But… Well, other than the Dance of the Seven Veils, when were you?"
"Oh right. I jumped back into our investigation of the Messenger explosion. At first I didn't realize I was in the past and… well, by the time I jumped, I'm pretty sure that past you thought I was nuts."
"Well, that shouldn't cause much of a problem. I already thought you were nuts," she said, leaning over to give him a kiss to let him know she was kidding. "Of course, I also thought you were incredibly cute — which also translated as extremely dangerous."
He chuckled. "Still… we're agreed then? No more changing the past? The past is what it is. No matter what."
She nodded. "So how do we stop this — get back to our own time?"
He let out a breath. "I have no idea — at least not unless we come across Tempus or Herb. You?"
"I don't know. I mean, I guess you could build a time machine. After all, you did it before."
"And how would that help? We don't need to travel in time. We need our souls to travel in time. After all, can you imagine Perry's face if we turned up at work looking like this?" He gestured to their teenage bodies.
"So we need Herb's soul tracker."
"And that is something I have no idea how to make."
They fell silent for a moment, both lost in thought. Suddenly, Lois turned, shifting her leg between the two of his so that she could lay against his chest as she leaned in for a kiss. "Make love to me, Clark," she whispered against his lips.
"But, Lois, Tempus, H.G. Wells…"
"I don't have any idea how to get back right now, Clark. And I need… I need… Make love to me," she whispered again.
"Okay," William said. "I think we've seen enough."
"Wait," Remi said. "We need to find out if they… After all, if Lois gets pregnant as a teenager…"
"History would be drastically altered," Laddy finished for her.
"Now, we don't know that history would have been altered," William said.
"No?" Laddy said. "Well, I can think of a hundred different ways things might change. What if Ellen Lane insisted that Lois give up the child? What if that child — which we all know would have had superpowers — was raised by someone without Lois and Clark's ethics? Or what if having a child had changed Lois' priorities? What if she had placed a greater priority on getting married when she was younger — before she ever met Clark? Or what if she did keep the child, but as a result, she hadn't been able to fast track through university and there hadn't been any openings at the Daily Planet when she graduated. Or…"
"Okay," William interrupted. "I think we all get the idea. But there is hardly any point in outlining all the worst possible scenarios. I think we have to focus on what is… not what might be."
"Well, I hate to bring this up, but… what about the curse?" asked Remi. "You know, the curse where Lois will die if they consummate," she continued when everyone looked at her blankly.
"Oh, I think we're okay with that part," William said. "We did a study on it the first time that Tempus started messing with history — especially given how… amorous… Lois and Clark were in the early years of their marriage…"
"Early years?" Laddy said dryly. "Try always."
"…and we discovered that, given that Lois and Clark have already broken the curse, it is as if the curse had never been cast. So if they go back in time and make love, it won't affect them."
"I don't understand the science, but that is one thing we don't have to worry about, fortunately."
"One of the few things," Laddy muttered.
"Anyway," William said, shooting a dark look at Laddy, "right now we need to concern ourselves with trying to figure out how much of what is happening between Lois and Clark we need to watch."
"Maybe we could just… you know, instruct the computer to tag those items that change the past — show them to us? That way we could skip… things that we don't need to see," Remi suggested.
There was general agreement among the council, many of whom were certainly not relishing the idea of seeing the founders of their society in… a compromising position. It would be hard enough knowing those things they needed to know to minimize any damage done to the past.
Although, what exactly they could do, none of them had any idea.
Clark groaned, gathering his wife into his arms and rolling them over so that he could quickly get her shirt open. Without breaking the kiss, he reached around behind her back, searching for the clasp on her bra.
"Front," she gasped before meeting his tongue in a sensual duel.
His hand quickly shifted position, flicking open the clasp before finally breaking the kiss. Looking down, he pushed the material to the side, looking hungrily at the sight before him. "This is what I wanted to do so badly during my last leap," he groaned before pouncing.
"Yes, Clark," Lois breathed, tangling her hands in his hair, holding him to her, silently urging him on. She'd wanted him so badly, needed him so desperately. When exactly had Lois Lane changed from a force of one to part of a team of two — independent and yet dependent on another for her happiness? Not that at this moment she particularly cared. In fact, the only thing she cared about was the way the activities of his lips and teeth were shooting fire into her belly. "Oh, my love," she whispered.
He explored her, not leaving one molecule of skin left unattended, as his hand slid down her body, touching each rib and down over her stomach until he reached the edge of her jeans.
She pushed his shirt back, off his shoulders, running her hands over the hard muscles. God, she loved the feel of him. Even at seventeen, the power of his body could be sensed in every move, every change in his position. Such power and such gentleness — for he made love in much the same way as he was. Strength, always tempered with tenderness.
Never had she known such love for another person. Tears accumulated in her eyes as the force of her emotions overpowered her. It seemed she loved him more with each passing day, each passing hour, each passing second. Never had she known that any emotion could be this powerful.
His lips left her body even as his eyes returned to her face. She looked down at him, noting his expression of wonder. Unable to resist, she reached down, cupping his face in her hands.
"I love you, Clark," she whispered, feeling the truth of that statement in every atom in her body.
He moved up her body so that he could kiss her. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close, trying to fuse them into one body.
She rolled them over before beginning to pull on the button of his tight jeans.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," Clark suddenly said, pulling away from Lois.
"What?" Lois panted.
"We can't… do this," Clark said, trying to catch his breath.
"Clark, what is this? Some weird thing about our being underage? Only our bodies are underage. Our minds, which are the important part, I would think, are not only fully consenting adults, but are actually married. I could see if maybe you were twenty years older than me or something it might seem weird, but we're less than two years apart. Besides, I did a story before you arrived at the Planet about children having sex, and did you know that fourteen is the age of consent in New Troy? So we're both of age to consent to have sex here.
"Or is because I'm a virgin, because I have to tell you the idea of having you be my first, even if I won't remember it, is… really hot. And women have accidents all the time that have nothing to do with sex so it's not as if I would suddenly be wondering who stole my virginity without my knowing about it. I might not even find out. After all, doctors don't usually mention it one way or another. Okay, so maybe sometimes they do, but not always. And then there is no way they could actually know that I…"
"Wait, Lois. Slow down, please. I'm having a hard enough time just dealing with…" He glanced down at his obviously frustrated state. "Without you throwing about five million scenarios at me. No, Lois. I promise you it's nothing like… We've got to stop because… Lois, I don't have any protection. I assume you don't either. And if you get pregnant… Lois, that would definitely change the past and we agreed that we had to do everything we could to keep our pasts the same."
"But surely one of your buddies back at the camp…? Or you can run pretty fast. What if you took a run around camp? It's the early eighties. They must have something around here."
"Even if there were… Lois, no form of protection is a hundred percent. Do we really want to take that risk?"
For a long moment, Lois looked at him, battling between need and the truth of what he was saying. "No!!!!!!!!" she suddenly yelled at the heavens, rolling away from him to stare up at the emerging stars. Scrambling into a sitting position, she pulled her legs up to her chest so that her shirt enfolded her in its heavy fabric.
Once she felt a bit more in control, she looked over at Clark. Although he was the one who had called a halt, her heart went out to him when she saw him, eyes closed, eyelids scrunched tightly together as he struggled for control. But then, this was the second leap that he'd had to battle with his need for her. On the other hand…
Lois moved towards Clark on her hands and knees. He was lying on his back so it was easy enough for her to lean over and kiss his chest.
"Lois, please…" Clark begged without opening his eyes.
"Relax, Clark," she said, her hand trailing lower.
"How am I supposed to relax with you doing that?" he asked, his hand grabbing hers. For a moment, he continued holding it against him and then, with what sounded like a grunt of pain, pulled it away.
She wiggled her hand out of his. "No, Clark, let me. I can… And I promise you we won't have to worry about getting pregnant. Just let me…" Her hand ran down his chest one more time. She leaned over him, informing him of what she intended by kissing his stomach just above the waistband of his jeans even as her hands struggled with the button and zipper.
"Lois," he groaned, pulling her up head up so that he could look into her eyes. "I want you to… God, you have no idea how much I want you to. But what if…"
"What if what?"
"What if we leap? I mean, if our past selves found ourselves in this position… If we leap, we have to make sure we're not even together. Otherwise, we have our past selves meeting each other far too early."
"So? Haven't we already changed that?"
"I don't really know, but… I suspect that our past selves won't remember what we did when we were occupying them… or at least I hope not. Because otherwise, we've already changed the past by our previous conversation. So before we leap, we have to be… apart. Otherwise, we will meet too early and the past will likely change."
"Am I the only one getting a headache?"
He smiled, bringing her hand up and softly kissing it. "Still, I think we have to be apart when we leap this time. Other times, it hasn't really mattered since we were together anyway."
"What are you talking about, Clark?"
Clark let out a breath as he ran a hand through his hair in frustration as he struggled to explain his thoughts. "Okay, when you jumped after you told past me about Mayson Drake, where were you?"
"I was in your apartment."
"But you were often in my apartment, so it wouldn't seem unusual to you when you found yourself standing in my apartment. You might be confused about what you were doing there, but it wouldn't be unusual for you to be there."
"Okay, I get that."
"But if you leapt now and past you suddenly found herself in this secluded spot with some boy she hasn't met yet… especially if at the moment you regained consciousness, you were…" He gestured down his body.
Her eyes suddenly lit up in understanding. "Okay, so we can't be… you know… when we leap. Can't even be in this spot. Or be together since we haven't even met yet."
"Exactly. You have to be back in your campsite and I have to be in mine."
"I can feel that I'm being pulled away before an actual leap. Can't you?"
"Yeah, I suppose so."
"And… how fast can you move?"
"Almost as fast as I can in our time."
"So then if either of us start to feel… then you just move into overdrive. Get us both decent. Then you can go back to your friends after dropping me off at the campsite from hell. At least, I assume you can do that by carrying me and running — even if you can't actually fly."
Clark let out a breath before nodding.
"Good, then why don't you just lean back while I…" She didn't say another word, choosing instead to express her intentions through actions.
It was sometime later and Lois was watching in amazement as Clark slowly regained awareness of his surroundings, his eyes finally focusing and then coming to rest on her. He let out a breath and shook his head, wonder on his face. "Come here," he finally breathed.
Lois scampered up his chest. When she was level with him, he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her, slowly, deeply. Once he finally broke the kiss, he looked into her eyes. "What do you say I return the favor?" he asked.
Her pulse leapt and then a familiar tug began pulling at the corners of her mind. "Clark!" she yelped before the world became a blur around her and then…
She was fully dressed, standing listening to her parents argue about how to store their food during the night. And then the world spun and faded around her.
Lois shook her head, trying to banish the weird images suddenly assaulting her. The cute, dark-haired boy that she'd… A blush rose in her cheeks. What had even brought on that wicked thought? She could never do that. Not even if he were her boyfriend or husband. It was just too… icky.
Still, she couldn't keep the small, delicious daydream of having her dream lover completely at her mercy from playing in the back of her mind as she headed over, hoping to moderate her parents' current fight. After all, if they could just get along this weekend, maybe her father would move back home.
Clark looked around in confusion when he suddenly snapped out of his daydream. He let his hair fall over his forehead, hoping no one would notice the blush in his cheeks as he stared at the fire. For a few minutes there, he had really been out of it — lost in the most erotic daydream he'd ever had.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Lana scowling in his direction. But then, when didn't she scowl at him these days? Besides, she wasn't the girl in his daydream. No, the girl had been a chestnut-haired beauty. He sighed, wondering if he would ever be lucky enough to meet a girl who could make him feel even half of what his fantasy girl had.
What had brought on the fantasy? Was it because he was reasonably certain that Lana was planning to seduce him this weekend? Well, he hadn't been prepared to take their relationship to that level before his fantasy. Now… well, now he knew that was never going to happen. No, there was more out there than what Lana had to offer. He just knew it. All he had to do was to find that girl.
Lois fought back the dizziness, trying to see through the darkness before realizing that the low lighting was a result of being seated in a restaurant.
"Lois, are you okay?"
She blinked, focusing on her dinner companion. What was Dan doing here? Her eyes widened when she realized when she was. Frustrated by what she had seen as Clark's inability to commit, she had gone out with Dan.
Why, of all places, did she have to jump into the middle of a date with Dan Scardino? She was a married woman. She shouldn't be here. She shouldn't be doing this. She couldn't. But… what about the future? Or was that the past?
She turned her tormented eyes on Dan.
"Are you okay?" he repeated.
She tried to give him a smile, but she knew it was wobbly.
"I thought we were having a good time. If I've said something to upset you…"
"No, Dan. It's not…" Her voice trailed off.
"Look, if you want to call it a night and head home early…"
She didn't answer, looking down at the half-eaten food on her plate. She and Clark had agreed not to do anything to change the past. But was a date with Dan what Clark had in mind? She doubted it.
Still, if she hadn't decided to date Dan, would she and Clark have continued dancing around each other for months, years even? After all, dating Dan had shown her just how much she wanted to be with Clark. And she suspected that her dating Dan had made Clark realize just how easily he could lose her. He had proposed almost immediately after she'd ended her relationship with Dan. Would he have done that if Dan had never been in the picture?
"No, Dan. I'm fine. I just…" She noticed the dance floor. Maybe dancing would be easier than talking at the moment. She wasn't exactly comfortable with the thought of being in Dan's arms — especially while memories of her recent interlude with Clark were so close to the surface. Still, if she had to find something to say right now, the jig would be up. "Would you like to dance?"
Clark was suddenly aware that he was in his Superman suit, carrying an unconscious woman in his arms. Lois! But what… Fighting against the dizziness of the leap, he tightened his grip on Lois, afraid of dropping her, and headed at full speed towards Metropolis General Hospital as he tried to figure out when he was. Studying the gash on her forehead, he suddenly remembered. Bob Fences had tried to blackmail foreign countries into paying him large quantities of money to compensate him for what Fences claimed were unfair trade barriers.
For the past week, Lois had, because of brainwashing by Fences, been putting herself in dangerous situations every time Fences wanted to pull a heist — thereby effectively neutralizing Superman. When Lois and Clark had finally figured it out, and Superman had destroyed Fences' weapon, Lois had been hurt.
Oh, yes, he could still remember the last time. The cold fear in his heart when he thought his cocky actions in melting the weapon had seriously injured Lois. Not that a head wound was ever something to fool around with. But at least this time he knew Lois would be fine.
His flying suddenly faltered when he remembered what had happened next. He'd broken up with Lois 'for her own good,' breaking her heart in the process. Well, that wouldn't happen this time. He'd learned his lesson. And since they had gotten back together again, it wasn't as if there would be any consequences if he didn't break up with her this time. He'd only be saving them both a whole lot of unnecessary grief.
The decision made, he flew quickly towards Metropolis General.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat as necessary.
Lois forced herself to relax in Dan's arms as he moved them around the dance floor. It was just a dance. It meant nothing. And, really, she had no one to blame but herself for finding herself in this position now. She'd chosen to date Dan of her own free will.
Okay, so he'd been exciting and attentive at a time when Clark had been pushing her away. But even then, she'd known what she wanted, and it hadn't been Dan.
Still, she was here now — again. And she had to play this out, take it where it had gone the last time. She froze slightly when she remembered the passionate kiss Dan had given her when he'd taken her home that night. It had made her somewhat uncomfortable, even then. What was she supposed to do this time?
She forced herself to relax when she realized that she had tensed up again with that final thought.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat as necessary.
Clark allowed the air currents to carry him as he flew his patrol over the city. After the hospital had released Lois, he'd taken her home, kissing her passionately outside the door before turning her over to Star's care so that he could go out and fly his patrol. He would return later.
He could still hardly believe his faulty reasoning the last time he'd been at this particular point in time. Breaking up with Lois for her own good — to keep people from using her to get to Superman. And yet, in truth, her involvement with Clark Kent put a natural barrier between her and Superman — at least in people's minds. Why would she be dating Clark Kent, maybe even marrying Clark Kent, if she and Superman were an item? Breaking up with her would, in all likelihood, make her more of a target, not less.
He grinned, taking another sweep around the city, more for the pleasure of flying than for any need to check on the city once more. The city was quiet tonight. And, unlike the last time, he planned on spending a pleasant evening cuddling with Lois.
Last time, she had asked him what was wrong when he'd left her after her trip to the hospital. He could still remember how sulky and withdrawn he had been that night. He'd been obsessing. It would feel so good to do things differently this time. Not to hurt her — first with his silence, then with his speech. Not this time.
Patrick Sullivan. The name came unbidden to Clark's mind. If he hadn't broken up with Lois, she never would have gone out with Patrick Sullivan. But… that was a good thing, wasn't it? After all, Sullivan had tried to kill her.
But… that was how they had stopped Sullivan's terror spree. How many women had he sacrificed to his gods before Lois? Weren't the deaths of a number of women the reason he and Lois had started their investigation in the first place? And how many more would he have killed if they hadn't stopped him?
Clark stopped dead in the sky as another, infinitely more terrifying, thought struck him. If Lois hadn't agreed to go out with Sullivan, would that have stopped the man from targeting her? After all, his old nursemaid had told Clark that Sullivan believed he loved Lois and so had to sacrifice her to the ancient gods. The way things had played out, Clark had gotten to Lois just in time. If they changed the circumstances, would they be as lucky the next time? Even a change of a couple minutes would have made him too late.
He closed his eyes. He might get away with this small change to history. But… could he really be sure that he wasn't sparring Lois' feelings only to sacrifice her life? He never should have broken up with her in the first place. But now that he had, did he dare change things?
Still, how could he break her heart again? He suddenly understood Lois' comment about how much easier it was to keep the past the same… in theory. In practice, he knew it was going to tear him apart.
"So…" Lois said as she unlocked the door to her apartment and turned towards Dan.
"So…" he responded, leaning against the doorframe. "I had a good time tonight, Lois."
She smiled. "I did, too, Dan." And after she finally managing to relax, she had enjoyed herself. Dan was still a lot of fun to be around.
Not that she'd appreciated his flirting as much this time. And doing such things as holding hands had often made her uncomfortable. Still, Dan had been a lively dinner companion — more than holding up his end when she had faltered. Yes, she still liked Dan. In fact, he only had one fault: he simply wasn't Clark.
When he moved closer, she placed a hand on his chest.
"Good night, Dan," she said, leaning closer to give him a peck on the cheek before turning and heading into her apartment.
Once she closed the door on his baffled face, she leaned against it and let out a long, slow breath. She could only hope she'd been charming enough and the kiss had been enough to keep him pursuing her a little bit longer. Okay, so maybe she had had to kiss him. She had last time, after all. But… if he was hoping for something more than a chaste kiss on the cheek… No. No matter how much she needed to keep from changing the past, she simply was not able to contemplate anything more. And the passionate kiss he'd given her on this night in the past… No. No matter the cause, she couldn't betray Clark by letting Dan kiss her like that now.
Clark landed in Lois' living room, decked out in the Superman suit, only to find that Perry, Jimmy and Star were still there.
"Can I speak to Lois alone?" Superman asked.
Perry made a comment about needing to get to the gym anyway as he, Jimmy and Star headed towards the door, but Clark's mind was already focused on Lois — on what he had to do. He had to break her heart.
Taking a deep breath to steady his nerves, reminding himself that they had survived it before and would do so again, he headed into Lois' bedroom.
"Lois, I feel horrible about this," Clark said, gesturing to the bandage on her forehead.
"Clark, it wasn't your fault. You saved my life." He saw a slightly shy look on her face at the final comment and wondered if this was the first time he'd saved her life since she'd found out about his connection to Superman. No. He'd caught her after she'd jumped from the helicopter and when she'd walked in front of a car. Still, she'd been in a daze then. Maybe the fact that she remembered this time was what was making her slightly shy now.
Still, she was wrong in thinking he was the hero in this story. "No. I got… careless. I was overconfident. No matter how bad the situation is, I always think I'm strong enough or fast enough to fix it."
"And you are," Lois insisted. "You saved a whole city full of people from being microwaved like popcorn."
"But you… still got hurt. I'm used to saving people, not getting them injured."
"You can't control everything. You can't protect everybody all the time, Clark. It's impossible."
He gave her a sad smile. She sounded so much like his parents. Still… he focused his eyes on the floor, wishing he could think of another way to handle this situation.
"But we can handle it," Lois continued. She pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "In fact, Clark, there's something I want to tell you."
"There's something I need to tell you, too."
"I know this isn't the best time, or the most romantic, but…"
Oh god, she was going to accept his proposal. He hadn't realized that last time. He couldn't let that happen. Not now. So he rushed to interrupt her. "Lois, I love you too much to ever let something like this happen to you again. I know I can't control everything, but I can control people not using you to get to me. That's why I came. To tell you…" His voice cracked. This hurt as much this time as it had the last time. "I don't think this is going to work out. I'm sorry."
Hearing a cry for help which might or might not require his immediate attention, he looked back at Lois — but seeing it as a perfect way to extradite himself from the current situation, he seized onto it. "I gotta go," he said before disappearing in a gust of wind.
"Clark," she breathed after him and he could hear the hurt and confusion in her voice. The sound tore his heart apart.
Lois was dreading work. This had been such a difficult time in her relationship with Clark. Still, she headed towards the Daily Planet. It was a work day, after all.
She turned towards the sound of the familiar voice as she waited for her coffee and smiled when she saw Clark. Then, remembering that they weren't exactly getting along, she broke eye contact and turned back to the vendor.
"So how was your date with Agent Scardino?" Clark asked with the same amount of contempt she always heard in his voice when he said the man's name.
"Now there's my favorite sight in the whole world," Lois said. "The truck that delivers our payroll checks."
"Okay, if you don't want to talk about it, I understand."
Lois finally turned towards him and whatever good intentions she'd had to maintain her distance from Clark vanished in the light of the pain she could see in his eyes. Without thinking, she grabbed his tie, pulling him to her so that she could give him the very kiss she'd avoided giving Dan the night before, telling him without words how she felt about him.
Suddenly, what she was doing struck her and she forced herself to break the kiss, breathing heavily. Damn! How could she have done that? Hadn't she and Clark decided that, no matter what, they wouldn't do anything to change the past?
"Lois…" Clark began.
The yelled words interrupted whatever comment Clark had been about to make — a comment which, Lois feared, could have changed the past. As a result, she was almost relieved when she saw the men robbing the payroll truck.
"I'll call the cops!" Clark said before disappearing into the Daily Planet.
A moment later, Superman showed up.
Lois smiled. Why had she never seen it? It was so painfully obvious to her now. And if she recalled correctly, Superman was about to get his first exposure to red kryptonite, which meant that in a moment, he wouldn't likely care about her kissing him any more than he had cared about anything else. Who would have thought she could be grateful for red kryptonite?
He couldn't stand it. He honestly couldn't stand it. Last time he'd been too caught up in feeling noble, not to mention his own pain, to think much about Lois.
This time, he found himself sitting on top of her apartment building, trying mentally to send her comfort. How he ended up standing in front of the door to her apartment, he was entirely uncertain. But once there, he knew what he had to do. He was still her best friend. And he had once promised her that no matter what else changed between them, that wouldn't.
And right now she needed her best friend.
He raised his hand and knocked. A minute or so later, he heard her unlocking the door. When she swung it open, he could see the tear stains on her cheeks.
"Clark," she breathed softly, even as new tears welled up in her eyes.
He stepped into her apartment immediately, closing the door before sweeping her into his arms, holding her as she silently cried against him.
"I can't take back what I said, Lois," he said softly, lest he give her the wrong idea and increased her pain.
"But, Clark…" she said, pulling back.
She fell silent when he placed a finger over her lips.
"Not tonight, Lois. Please, don't try to talk me out of it tonight. I can't change my mind on this."
"Then why are you here?"
"I promised you once that no matter what happened, I'd always be your friend. And I figured tonight…" He shrugged.
The corner of her mouth pulled down. "Don't take this the wrong way," she said, not able to hold eye contact as the tears started again to flow. "But right now, if you're not here to tell me you were wrong and beg me to take you back, I don't want you here."
He pulled in a sharp breath as tears came to his own eyes. "Lois," he breathed.
But she was already stepping around him to open the door. "Please leave," she said softly, keeping her eyes firmly fixed on the floor outside her door.
He hesitated a moment, wanting more than anything to recant everything he had said to her, to tell her he loved her and that he couldn't let her go. But he couldn't. Knowing that, he reluctantly stepped out into the hall. He turned back towards her, hoping for one last chance to convince her to let him stay, but she had already closed the door.
Lowering his glasses, he looked through the door just in time to see her sink to the floor, her back to the door, and drop her head into her hands as sobs shook her body.
He was just about to raise his hand again when he felt the world around him beginning to spin and fade.
"Lois, you know there is such a thing as individual responsibility," Clark said as they rode the elevator to the newsroom.
"What does that mean?" Lois asked, glad that this new, apathetic Clark hadn't mentioned the kiss since returning after his Superman appearance.
"The payroll company is responsible for the safety of the cheques, not Superman. Let them take care of it."
"What about the responsibility of the individual to the society as a whole?" Lois asked, needing to keep Clark focused on this rather than their kiss. "The social contract that obligates one person to help others for the betterment of everyone?"
"If that's what you feel, great," Clark said as the elevator doors opened and they stepped out together. "Otherwise, I say kick back. Enjoy. Do your own thing."
But Lois was no longer listening because as she and Clark stepped into the newsroom, she saw Dan and Mayson, both looking like kids who had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, jump apart slightly when they saw her and Clark.
Mayson Drake. She was alive. Lois supposed that was the good news. And if Mayson and Dan were… nah. That was crazy.
She grabbed onto the banister as the world around her began to spin and fade. She let out a breath of relief. Anywhere would be better than here.
"Well!" William asked when Andrus returned. "Do we know what's causing this?"
"Not exactly," Andrus said, looking around at the council nervously.
"What does 'not exactly' mean?" Laddy demanded. "Do you know or don't you?"
"It means… Well, we know that Tempus is still in his cozy jail cell — acting as sarcastic as ever. We questioned him, but… I'm afraid the art of interrogation has been lost over the years. He seemed to enjoy giving us vague and often contradictory answers. And we can't know for sure if he didn't…" Andrus' voice trailed off and he ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "Our time watchers think that he might have done this in the past — before we caught him — and that this is only catching up with us now. Or that it's something he will do in the future and…"
"Am I the only one getting a headache?" Laddy asked.
"It's all very complicated and… I can't say I really understand it myself."
"So the time watchers still think that Tempus is our most likely suspect?" William asked.
"That seems to be the consensus. So…" He looked up at the time monitor. "How's it going here?"
"Well, so far we seem to have managed to avoid any serious disasters. Although we can expect a few minor time quakes," William said.
"But it's just a matter of time before they do change something. And when that happens…" Laddy said, not bothering to elaborate further.
"Well, why doesn't someone go back and fix this?" Andrus asked.
"Until we know why it's happening, how are we supposed to stop it? It's not as if there is some way we can tie down their souls so they don't leap," William said. "That's why it's so important that we find out why this is happening. Only then do we have a chance of stopping it."
"What about going back and talking to Lois and Clark?" Andrus asked hopefully.
"And say what?" asked Laddy. "For all we know, anything we would say to them would end up doing more damage."
Andrus let out a breath of frustration, suddenly understanding the problem.
Clark was looking into the eyes of John H. Dillinger as he again regained cognizance of his surroundings.
There was no time to do anything but pretend to be shot when Dillinger fired his gun at Clark. Grasping his chest, Clark stumbled slightly, falling, as if in slow motion, to the floor.
"Clark," Lois gasped, reaching out and grabbing at him as if trying to stop the inevitable from happening.
He heard her pain. He hadn't last time. Last time, he'd only known one sensation. Shock. He'd been shot — or rather, Clark had — at point blank range. There was nothing to do but pretend to be dead.
This time, he heard Lois' pain. He felt her hands on him as she gently touched his face and chest.
"You moron," Capone said. "What did you do that for?"
Clark heard Lois' heavy breathing and knew that she was doing an unsuccessful job at fighting off tears. He wanted more than anything to reassure her. But he couldn't. He couldn't do anything that might change the past — and it was sheer torture.
For some reason, he hadn't realized at the time how deeply his death would affect Lois. He still wasn't sure how he could have been so insensitive. Of course Lois would be devastated. Even without his current knowledge that she had been falling in love with him, having her best friend shot in front of her would have been devastating.
Why hadn't he told her he wasn't really dead the moment she was safely back at her apartment? Hadn't he trusted her enough to tell her his secret? Hadn't he cared enough about how badly she was hurting to ease her pain?
"Let's get out of here," Capone continued. "And take the stiff. I can't afford to be linked to a murder."
Clark remained limp as hands grabbed him roughly and began pulling him away.
Clark heard Lois' anguished cry as he was pulled from her. In fact, he heard her sobs the entire time he was in the back of the gangster's car until, finally, they dumped his body off in an alley and he was able to outfly the sound of her tears.
An hour or so later, Clark was pacing the floor of the old farmhouse impatiently, waiting for his mother to get off the phone. Not that it made any difference. There was still nothing he could do.
"That was Mr. White," Martha said as she hung up. "He was very nice. Wanted to know if there was anything he could do for us."
"Did he say anything about Lois?"
"Just that she was taking it pretty hard."
Clark pulled in a long, slow breath. He could remember the last time. Had he actually found some comfort in that fact? How callous could he have been?
If he had it to do over again, he would have gone to Lois and told her everything. It would have been the right thing to do. But he'd been so obsessed with the idea that she had to love Clark rather than Superman. Selfish. Selfish. Selfish. Selfish.
It wouldn't have brought Clark back — at least until he figured out the idea of pretending to use Dr. Hamilton's machine. But he could have saved her so much heartache.
And it wasn't as if he hadn't trusted her. After all, she had been his best friend for over a year. He'd known she'd never use it against him or write the story for the front page of the paper — no matter how many awards she could have gotten for it. But still, he'd refused to even consider the possibility of telling her the truth. And he'd put her through hell because of it.
Given the amount of pain he'd inflicted, he could hardly believe she hadn't dumped him the moment she'd found out he was Superman.
Still, he couldn't do anything to change it now. After all, Lois finding out that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same at this juncture would definitely change the past.
Or… was there something else he could do? He couldn't tell her that he was Superman, but… this time he knew how to bring Clark back into the land of the living. Maybe he could bring Clark back sooner. Maybe he didn't have to make her grieve for so long, not knowing that her best friend wasn't really dead. Before he could put those ideas into practice, he felt the world begin to fade around him. He felt a gulty sense of relief when he realized that he would soon be out of there. After all, anywhere had to be better than here.
Lois was still trying to figure out when she was. She knew where she was, of course. She was in the Daily Planet, talking to Jimmy. Or… well, listening to him talk.
He held up a file. "Carter Clavens. Rich, powerful, healthy, dead. Fell thirty stories. Plop."
Lois crinkled her eyebrows. None of that meant anything to her. "Suicide?" she asked, trying to put the pieces together.
"Exercycle. Bike went right out a window. With him on it."
Her eyebrows shot up. Surely she would have remembered something like that. "How?"
"By itself. As in…" She gestured with her hands.
"Cops said it's like the bike had a mind of its own or something."
Nope. Nothing. Not ringing a single bell. Was this before Clark or after? She spotted Clark making his way across the newsroom, her eyes automatically going to his left hand. He was wearing a wedding ring, but… well, could she be sure it was hers? After all, maybe either she or Clark had done something to change the past and… No! She was not going there.
She redirected her attention to his face. He looked serious. "Clark?" she asked, forgetting about the exercise bike's unusual activity and her concerns about their marital status in the light of his expression. Something was wrong.
"Could we talk?" Clark asked. "Privately?"
It was only moments later when Lois found herself leaning against the conference table, watching Clark close the blinds in the conference room. She was now reasonably certain that either something had happened that had changed their past — after all, she'd seen Mayson Drake during her last leap — or that she was actually in their future.
"I just came from Star Labs," Clark finally said, turning towards her.
"Okay," she said cautiously, feeling as if she was treading on quick sand. Still, by the expression on Clark's face it was obvious… "This isn't good news, is it?"
Clark seemed to struggle to find words. "Honey, Dr. Klein ran every test he could. The poor guy could hardly face me. But he said Superman's biology and an Earth woman's are… incompatible for reproduction."
She didn't even have to pretend to be stunned. This must be what every person in a time-travel television show or movie had ever meant when they said it wasn't good to know too much about one's own future.
Tears unexpectedly welled up in Lois' eyes. She hadn't thought much about having children. Wasn't even sure she wanted children. In fact, if anybody had asked her before she'd met Clark, she'd have said she wasn't the type of person to want children. But to have the very option taken away from her so quickly, so unexpectedly…
She bent over, suddenly struggling to catch her breath. It felt as if she'd just been kicked in the gut, leaving her fighting for air. If only she'd had some warning, if only she'd known that he'd gone for tests, maybe she would have had time to prepare herself for the news. Her entire world narrowed down to one simple task — trying to get air into her lungs.
"Lois…" Clark's voice sounded very far away.
She felt hands moving her into a chair. Of all the things Clark could have said, this was the least expected. She lowered her head until it was between her knees.
"Lois, please… honey, are you okay?"
She'd heard someone say once that although not every woman wanted kids, every woman wanted to be able to have kids. She'd never understood that comment until now. God, if only she could get a real breath into her lungs.
She suddenly felt a paper bag being thrust into her hands.
"Breath into it," Clark said directing the paper bag up to cover her face. Her hands trembled as she took the bag, gasping breaths into it until finally it felt as if air was making its way into her body. She closed her eyes as she again got control.
She finally looked up into Clark's concerned eyes. His devastated eyes.
That fact brought her back to the present and she knew in an instant that Clark's heart was breaking, too. It put her own pain into perspective. He was struggling, fighting to hold it together for her sake. And she wasn't making this any easier for him.
That realization brought tears to her eyes. How long had they been trying to get pregnant? Had each stumbling block been devastating for him? For her? Her hand came up to gently stroke his cheek, even as she felt begin slipping down her own.
A sense of loss permeated her being. Incompatible. Longing for Clark to hold her, to tell her that they would get through this, that their love would be enough, she leaned forward, practically falling against her husband of the future.
"I told myself I'd never make you cry," Clark said, gently putting his arms around her. "I'm sorry."
She let herself hold onto him and wept against him until the world began to spin and fade around her.
"This could be disastrous," Laddy said as he stared in horror at the scene in the conference room. "So far, we've been able to keep the two of them from… making a huge mistake because of their belief that getting pregnant would change the past. But now…"
"Nothing happened — or at least nothing happened that didn't happen in the original history," Andrus said. "So how did this leap change the past?"
"Nothing happened?" Laddy asked in disbelief. "How about the fact that Lois now thinks she knows something that she didn't know before? She now believes that she and Clark can't get pregnant. Given her new knowledge, how long do you think it's going to be before she and Clark… do something that could get her pregnant? They could unwittingly destroy Utopia."
He looked at the surrounding faces as they all stared back at him with dawning comprehension. Bad had just gotten a whole lot worse.
"Your life is so strange."
Lois' voice cut through the dizziness as Clark looked around him, trying to figure out when he was. He was in a cabin. It was night. Lois was lying in bed. And he was… lying on his side in the air near the foot of the bed. But…
He crashed to the floor when he realized when he was, just getting his feet under him in time to prevent him from damaging the floor.
"Clark, are you all right?"
"Uhh… yeah. Fine." The Larry Smiley investigation. Larry Smiley was the relationship councilor who thought he was Noah. Building an ark and creating a machine to destroy the world with water, saving only those couples he deemed 'worthy.'
So what now? Right. This was the night where they began to heal the rift in their relationship that he had caused by his stupid 'breaking up with Lois for her own good' move.
Lois sat up in bed, looking at him curiously. "Clark, are you sure nothing is wrong?"
"No. No. Why would you think something is wrong? I…" His voice trailed off. Although they had worked through a number of things that night and the following day, the exact details of what they had discussed were kind of a blur to him. So… where did he even begin?
"Then aren't you supposed to be saying something about how although floating is easy for you, this relationship stuff is new?" Lois asked.
He looked over at her in shock. "Lois?" he finally asked, somewhat tentatively. After all, she was obviously Lois, but… was she his Lois?
"Clark?" she asked back, also sounding tentative.
He let out a breath of relief, dropping the facade. "Lois," he said, not even trying to disguise the longing in his voice.
Lois was out of bed and already halfway to him. He opened his arms as she launched herself into them.
"Oh, god, Clark. I missed you," she said, planting kisses over every available inch of his face. Suddenly, she stopped, pulling back to look at him as if unsure.
"My wife," Clark breathed.
Her eyes welled up with tears as the kissing resumed, this time on both their parts. First, they were sinking to the their knees onto the floor. The next thing he knew, they were lying on the floor, both hands and mouths roaming wildly.
"Wait, wait, wait," Clark said, breaking contact. Kneeling above her, he panted. "We can't… pregnancy… changing…"
Her fingers on his lips stopped his disjointed explanation.
"Clark…" She whispered softly, moisture again accumulating in her eyes.
"Lois, what's wrong?"
She pulled herself out from under him and went to sit on the bed, patting the spot beside her to indicate that he should join her there. He did, sitting silently as he waited for her to speak.
Although Lois had never been sure that she wanted children, there was one thing about which she had no doubt — Clark did. If she hadn't known it before, the look of devastation in his eyes when he'd told her about not being able to give her children made that simple fact abundantly clear.
Part of her didn't want to tell him. After all, they obviously didn't find out about this for… at least a little while after they had gotten married. But there was no way Lois could have this knowledge and not tell Clark. It would hang over their relationship. And if there was one thing that they had promised each other, even before they had gotten married, it was that there would be no more secrets between them.
"Clark…" she began, taking hold of his hand and watching it closely while she played with it.
"Hey, honey, what is it?" Clark asked softly. "You know you can tell me anything."
She let out a jagged breath.
"Did… did something happen on one of your leaps?"
"Sort of. Well, not really, I just… I guess I learned something I probably shouldn't know yet."
"What?" Clark asked, sounding confused.
"Clark, we haven't talked a lot about having children. Just… that discussion when I got the application for the Winki-Tink preschool in the mail and… I guess a little bit afterwards when you were obsessing about whether you'd make a good father."
"I wasn't obsessing."
She looked up at him, meeting his teasing smile with a slightly sad smile of her own. "You were obsessing," she said definitively before looking back at their intertwined hands.
"Apparently, at some point in the future, you go to see Dr. Klein to find out if we can have children together and…" Her voice trailed off. "I don't know why you went. I don't know if we were having problems conceiving or… I don't know."
"I leapt into a point in the future just after you got the results." Her grip on his hand tightened and she looked directly into his eyes, desperately trying to give him strength. "Apparently, Superman can't reproduce with an Earth woman," she said gently.
He pulled in a jagged breath.
"Oh, Clark. I'm so sorry," she said, pulling him into her arms. She found it slightly ironic that Clark had been the one comforting her in the future while she was the one comforting Clark now. "I know how much having children means to you," she whispered before kissing the side of his neck, his ear, his cheek. She just wanted to make it all better.
She felt his body tremble and heard his breathing become labored as he kept his face buried in her shoulder. "Oh, my love," she whispered against his hair even as she felt the dampness of his tears on her shoulder. In the future, he must have dealt with his own pain before coming to tell her — trying to make sure he could comfort her without having to deal with his grief. That was just so Clark — and she loved him for it. She closed her eyes and held him, wishing she knew how to make this easier for him, wishing she could take his pain into her body and thus free him of it.
She had no idea how long she held him like that. It could have been an eternity. It could have been a matter of minutes. But finally, his labored breathing stopped. She breathed a sigh of relief, hugging him tightly to her.
"I'm sorry, Lois. I'm so sorry."
She heard his jagged whisper and felt her heart constrict. Pulling back from him, she cupped his large face in her small hands.
"Look at me, Clark," she said when he still refused to make eye contact.
It seemed to take him a moment, but finally he forced himself to look at her. "I'm sorry, Lois. I never should have asked you to marry me before finding out if I could even give you…"
"Stop it, Clark! Stop it right now!" When she saw the look on his face, she instantly softened her voice. "You listen to me, poolboy. I didn't marry you because I wanted super babies or any babies at all for that matter. I married you because I have never loved anyone the way I love you. And no one has ever loved me the way you do. I don't even know if I want children, but I know you do. And I would give them to you in a heartbeat if it would make your pain go away. But don't you ever… ever… suggest that you shouldn't have asked me to marry you! Marrying you is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me and I will not… What?" she demanded, noticing with irritation the almost amused look that had appeared on his face.
"I love you, Lois Lane," he said softly, looking at her with a kind of awe.
"Oh, well, that's okay then," she said, provoking a smile from him.
He leaned in and she met him halfway as they reaffirmed their love for each other with a kiss that seemed to go on forever.
Neither said it. Neither dared. But the sudden knowledge that they couldn't get pregnant was in the back of their minds as hands began to roam this time. Lois moaned as Clark's hands slipped under the over-sized grey t-shirt Clark had given her to sleep in. She followed suit, running one hand under his black t-shirt while the other pushed him back on the bed.
Tonight they needed each other. They needed to reaffirm their love, their commitment. They both needed the comfort only being lost in each other could give them.
Clark's hands continued their quest, skimming up her sides, taking the t-shirt with them. She pulled back, raising her hands over her head so that he could slip it off her.
"It seems to me I owe you something," Clark said.
"Clark," she breathed, before laying back down on the bed to allow herself to simply feel, let him pleasure her the way she had him in the campground when they had been teenagers. And it felt… good. So good. Just to let go of the pain, to simply get lost in the pleasure he was giving her so willingly until he made the world disappear around her.
When she again regained awareness of her surroundings, she lifted her head, looking down into the eyes of her smiling husband.
"You look pretty pleased with yourself," she couldn't resist saying, taking note of the husky texture of her voice. His smile widened.
She sat up then, watching as he pulled off his black muscle shirt. Before joining her back on the bed, he took her into his arms as his mouth again found hers. Hands began to wander until soon they were moving as one, neither knowing where one ended and the other began until the damn burst, carrying both of them along on its powerful wave.
Exhausted, Lois collapsed back on the bed, looking up at her floating lover. He leaned in and softly kissed her before floating back off the bed and landing on his feet.
"What are you doing?" Lois asked, propping herself up on her arms as she watched Clark gathering up their discarded clothing.
"I just think we should get dressed again…"
She cocked her head to the side in question.
"…in case we leap."
"But only our souls are leaping, so why would it matter if we…" She gestured down at herself.
"Because we wouldn't want our past selves to wake up and wonder…"
"…what happened," Lois completed for him. "Right. I almost forgot about that." She took her clothes from him and dressed quickly before crawling under the covers and straightening the bed around her.
He followed suit, slipping back into his clothes before returning to a floating position beside the bed — this time, however, lying right next to her so that he could hold her hand.
Lois smiled at him, pulling his floating body in for a gentle kiss. "I guess we need to talk, too," she said when she broke the kiss. And they did. In fact, they probably should have started talking about what each might have discovered as soon as they leapt in here, but after imparting to Clark the information she had obtained on the last leap, somehow the only thing on her mind had been the need to be there for him, to comfort him — and to let him comfort her.
"I guess we should," Clark responded, but, before he could say another, word the world began to spin and fade around them.
"Any sign of her being pregnant?" Remi asked anxiously.
Andrus stood at the front, hand over his ear as he listened intently to his earpiece.
"Well?" Laddy demanded when Andrus still didn't speak.
The expression on Andrus' face changed from intense concentration to relief. "No. Apparently, she didn't get pregnant. And in their respective journals, they both pass their memories of the night in the cabin off to a pretty intense dream."
The members of the council gave a collective sigh of relief.
Clark found himself standing outside Lois' apartment, hand raised as if to knock. He lowered his hand and snorted. He'd knocked on Lois' door millions of times. So how was he supposed to figure out when he was from that?
He looked down at himself, hoping it would give him a clue. He even searched his pockets and looked at his watch. Still, nothing told him what he needed to know. That left only one option.
He lowered his glasses and looked through the door. Lois was furiously scrubbing the grout on her kitchen counter with a toothbrush. And… she was quite definitely mad.
Okay, but Lois got mad a lot. At him. At Perry. At the bad guys. At the person who forgot to put the cream back in the fridge. So what had her upset this time?
Her hair was long so it was sometime during the first two years of their acquaintance. Not that Lois being mad during the first couple years they had known each other was much help in telling him when he was.
There was really only one thing to do. Raising his hand, he knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" Lois yelled, not letting up on her task.
"Lois, it's me," Clark responded. That seemed safe enough.
He watched as Lois stormed over and unlocked the door before, without opening it, returning to her task of cleaning her grout as if it would save her soul. He suddenly had a pretty good idea when he was. He took a deep breath before opening the door and walking in.
"I was only gone a few minutes," he said, cautiously testing the waters.
"I'm a busy person. I have things to do. I have to…"
"… scrub your grout?" Clark asked. Okay, he must be right. At least she hadn't questioned his comment about only being gone a few minutes. "You're really letting this woman get to you."
She stopped scrubbing, spinning around to face him, waving the toothbrush in his face.
"Get to me?" she demanded before suddenly seeming to hesitate. "This does not leave the room, understand?"
Clark nodded, even though he knew what was coming next.
"Okay. Linda and I were best friends. But it was very competitive. You may not believe this, but there was a time when I had to be the best at everything."
Just like he had all those years ago, Clark fought the urge to respond. It was just such a great opening.
"Anyway," she continued, somewhat sheepishly, as if she too had picked up on the irony of what she'd just said, "there was this editor I was trying to impress. Paul." Her voice softened in remembrance. "He was a senior and things were… happening. So when I found out some of the school's football players weren't taking their own exams, I thought, this is it. This is the story that's going to make Paul feel for me the way I feel for him."
"Did it?" Clark asked when she hesitated.
"No," Lois said, more than a trace of bitterness in her voice at the memory. "Somehow Linda stole my story and wrote it under her name. Of course, he fell for her and she continued to impress him in ways I won't go into. Needless to say, that was the end of our friendship."
"So… she stole a story and she stole a guy and now you think she's trying to do it again?"
Her eyes flashed in denial of the implications. "Don't flatter yourself."
"Hey, don't take this out on me."
"Why not? You say 'yes' to her party, 'yes' to her lunch, 'yes' to walking her home. You're behaving like her indentured servant."
Clark was about to respond, remembering that at this point in the conversation, he had deliberately provoked her, escalating the argument so that he could seem legitimate when he handed in his resignation. But… why not trust Lois with everything now? There really was no reason to keep her out of this investigation. After all, she had figured it out eventually.
"Lois, the reason I seem to be catering to Linda is that… I think something fishy is going on over at the Star — something that is getting them all those scoops."
Her anger faded immediately. "Really?"
He nodded. "I was coming here to talk to you and then… I'm going to go talk to Perry. I was thinking… since Linda seems… interested in me, I might have a way to take advantage of that to get us the story."
"Go on," she said cautiously.
"She suggested tonight that if I wanted to work for the Star, she would help me get a job there."
"No one would ever believe that you left the Planet to work at the Star."
"They might if you and I pretend that we had a big fight."
She studied him for a long moment. "You really think there's something going on at the Star?"
"Okay, fine. I guess your plan makes sense. Just… watch out for Linda. She'll do anything to get what she wants."
"Lois, I promise you. I'm not interested in Linda."
"Well, okay then," Lois said as disinterestedly as she could manage before turning on the water and holding the toothbrush underneath to clean the Ajax off it. "I don't really care, after all. I just don't want…" She hesitated slightly, as if not entirely certain what to say next. Then her expression cleared. "It's just that you're a little naive and I don't want you to get hurt."
Clark smiled, recognizing this time her jealousy for what it was. She was desperately trying not to develop feelings for him — but it seemed obvious to Clark, with the benefit of hindsight, that it was already a losing battle. And he had to admit, now that he was no longer insecure about her feelings for him, it was a little bit flattering.
"So when did you say that you're going to meet with Perry?" Lois asked in a deliberate attempt to change the subject.
"I was going to head over there now."
"Great! I'll come, too."
"Lois, no. After all, we're supposed to be fighting."
"Oh, right. Yeah. Well then… what are you waiting for?" she asked, shooing him towards the door.
He smiled as the world began to spin and fade around him.
Lois wasn't sure why she was at the Lexor Hotel. She'd been there a number of times in the past. Still… what were all the Secret Service men doing on this floor? She glanced up and down the hall, spotting an open door at the end. She could see a swirl of red and blue and then…
Ignoring the Secret Service detail, she headed at full steam towards the open door. She'd known it. He was behind this. And she was going to force him to tell her what he'd done so that she could finally end all this horrible leaping. Okay, so maybe there had been a few good moments — thoughts of her last leap came instantly to mind. However, she would much prefer doing… what she had been doing with Clark in the comfort of their apartment, in the comfort of their bed, knowing that they were both safe in their own time.
She picked up the pace until she was running. She made it as far as the door when she was unexpectedly tackled by the Secret Service men.
"No, I want Tempus," she said, wondering why they were even there. Was Tempus supposed to be meeting with the President? Was Superman? Obviously, she was in the future. When, she had no idea. But still, Tempus was here and she was determined to confront him.
She heard someone yell something from inside the room, but couldn't seem to break free of the grasp the Secret Service men had on her. Still, she struggled, determined to confront Tempus.
"Superman!" she yelled when she saw Clark standing inside some very strange, floating window, holding on to Tempus. What was going on here? Was that her Clark? Was that future Clark? And what was that window all about?
"Lois! Get out! Get out now!" Clark yelled.
"No. Let her through."
Lois blinked in confusion when she saw a second Tempus heading towards the window just as the Tempus inside the window vanished. What was going on here?
In response to Tempus' yell, the Secret Service agents released her. "She should see this," Tempus said.
Lois stumbled into the room, trying to get her legs beneath her after the unexpected release. She watched as Tempus shoved another man aside as he marched towards the window in which Lois could see Superman.
"No!" the man who had been pushed aside yelled. "If he touches the window, Superman is doomed!"
"Superman!" Lois yelled as Tempus placed his hand on the frame of the window.
"Lois!" Clark yelled as the window suddenly began to shatter.
She reached out her hand but it was already too late. "Clark," she said in a strangled whisper. She spun around to face the stranger who had warned what would happen if Tempus touched the window. "Where's Superman? What happened to him?" she demanded.
"He was caught in the time window when it exploded. I'm afraid he's gone," the stranger said as the world began to fade around her.
"No!" Lois was still yelling when she found herself standing in an unfamiliar shower stall.
"Lois, honey, are you all right?" Clark asked, rushing into the room and throwing aside the shower curtain.
"You're okay," Lois said, ignoring both her current lack of attire and the fact that she had no idea when she was to throw her arms around Clark.
"I'm okay," Clark said, holding her close. "Although, given the way you screamed, I almost had a heart attack." He pulled back. "What happened?"
"Oh… ahh…" She glanced around at her environment. Clark was standing there, seeming not particularly uncomfortable with the fact that she was completely naked. So she must be in the future with Future Clark. She ran her hand down his arms, which were still around her, and over his hand to where she could feel his wedding ring. Yep, definitely the future. After all, she and Clark hadn't made it out of the apartment since their wedding — except for their excursion into the past with Wells. And there were certainly no grungy motel rooms there. And given the peeling paint and the cracked linoleum and the fact that none of their stuff seemed to be here — none of the stuff that normally cluttered up her bathroom — she could only conclude they were in some very cheap motel room.
She supposed this Clark could be married to someone other than her, but give the fact that he was still holding her, she couldn't imagine it. No. That was impossible. She couldn't believe that Clark would ever cheat on his wife — even with her. No, he was much too comfortable with her current lack of clothing to be anything but her husband.
He was looking at her funny and she suddenly realized she had not yet answered his question. Now… what was the question? Right. What had made her scream? "I saw a bug," she finally said. Okay, so it was lame, but it was better than the truth which was…
Oh, god. Had she really seen Clark's death? Her hands came up to his face, cupping it in her hands. There was no way for her to know. Suddenly, she felt so cold inside. "Make love to me, Clark," she whispered. She was reasonably certain that the man before her was future Clark. Still, no matter what time frame she was in, he was her husband. And right now, what she needed was her husband. She needed him to drive the images she'd seen in the future from her mind. She needed him to make it all go away.
Clark's face lit up in a slow smile as he pulled her from the shower, drying her with his heat vision before swinging her up in his arms and carrying her into an adjoining room, and over to a large bed. "Your wish," he said, planting a kiss on her nose, "is definitely my command."
Her expression softened. She still didn't know what she had witnessed in the future. But there was nothing she could do about that at the moment… except soak up every bit of comfort Clark had to offer. She reached for him, pulling him into her arms.
Clark blinked when he found himself standing in the newsroom, facing a very strangely dressed man who was floating a couple of feet off the floor. What was going on here? Was this a New Kryptonian he hadn't met before? Was he back to that time?
A loud noise, like a book falling, sounded behind him in the too-quiet newsroom causing him to look over his shoulder at Lois, who was glaring at the floating man, a familiar fire in her eyes.
"You heard him, gnome! Blow!"
Gnome? Clark looked back at the floating man in shock. Surely Lois must mean that figuratively. "Lois…"
"How'd she do that?" the gnome asked. "You're supposed to be frozen!"
"Yeah, well, I thawed out. And Clark's not going anywhere, Mazeltov!"
"Mxyzptlk! Mister Mxyzptlk! Fine! Have it your way!"
Suddenly, the newsroom was again a fount of activity. Clark spun around, watching in horror as his father dropped to his knees in agony.
Clark blinked when the elevator door opened and he and Lois stepped out into the newsroom. Where was he? Had he leapt? If so, why wasn't he feeling dizzy this time?
A drunken Ralph threw himself at Clark. "Merry…" Ralph broke down in tears. "Oh, god," he blubbered.
Lois peeled Ralph off Clark before grabbing Clark's hand and leading him to the conference room.
"Lois?" Clark began once they were safely inside.
"I remember, Clark."
"The time loop." She stepped up to the window. "War's breaking out," she said, pointing to the television. "Perry sprung for the Christmas tree himself. That's Jimmy's new girlfriend. Brenda. Your parents took an earlier flight and then a cab from the airport. I remember, Clark. I remember everything."
Clark stared at her for a long moment before finding his voice. "Then… maybe you better fill me in because I seem to have some blanks."
Clark was taking too long. He was slowly exploring her body with his mouth and hands, but what Lois needed after witnessing… what she had witnessed during her last leap — she couldn't even voice the thought to herself — was to merge herself with Clark as quickly and as completely as possible.
She squirmed out from under him, pushing him back onto the bed so that she could crawl on top of him.
"Lois?" Clark whispered, obviously sensing the desperation in her.
She ignored his whisper. After all, how could she possibly explain that she was from the past? Or that she had been even further in the future and had just witnessed his death? Instead, she silenced his protest by leaning over and kissing him, quickly pushing both of them to the point of no return so that she could be joined with him in a frantic, desperate attempt to banish the images, to assure herself that he was alive, that he wasn't lost to her forever.
She closed her eyes and threw her head back when they finally came together. "God, you have no idea how much I needed this," she whispered. Finally releasing her fears, her horrors at watching that time window explode, she plunged into the abyss even as the world began to fade around her.
Clark took a deep breath. Lois had told him the whole story about this Mxyzptlk, and the longer she'd spoken about his creation of a time loop, the more Clark had become convinced of two things. First, that he wasn't in the past — he was in the future. And second, that Mxyzptlk must be responsible for their leaping around in time.
"But how is it that you don't know any of this?" Lois asked.
He took her hands, leading her over to the conference table. Once they were seated, he kept hold of her hands and began to speak. "Lois, do you remember just after we were first married how…" He let out a breath. "I'm not sure exactly how it was done, but… We were sent back in time — or, I guess, forward in time, too. We leapt into past and future incarnations of ourselves — not knowing why or how to stop it. Sometimes we leapt together, sometimes not." Seeing her befuddled expression, he continued. "Does this mean anything to you?"
"Well… now that you mention it," she began slowly. "I mean… not really… except… well, it sounds like a dream I had once, but… Clark, what are you saying?"
"I'm not your Clark. I mean, I am. I'm just… from the past. When all this craziness started for me, we were in the elevator, coming to work for the first day after our honeymoon. And… well, things were getting pretty… intense."
She smiled. "Okay, now that I remember."
"That's when the leaping started. We've been trying to figure it out. We've been thinking it was Tempus, but now… after what you told me about Mxyzptlk, I'm beginning to think it may be him. Lois, I need your help to stop this. Do you know anything about Mxyzptlk that might be of use?"
"Uhh… yeah." She was looking at him as if she was still not sure what to make of his comments, but had learned to trust him enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. "Okay, according to mythology, in order to send him back to his own dimension, you have to get him to say his name backwards."
"I can barely say it forwards."
"You don't have to say it backwards. You have to get him to. But first… Clark, whether you're the Clark from my time or not, I need your help here, too. You have to help me get rid of Mxyzptlk in my time. Then I'll do whatever I can to help you get rid of him in yours. Deal?" She offered him her pinky finger.
"Deal," he said, linking his pinky finger with hers even as the world began to fade around him.
H.G. Wells looked down at the carpet that had replaced the marble floors following the latest time quake. What was taking the council so long to summon him? After all, it was obvious that Tempus was, once again, playing with the past. He continued nervously to fiddle with his soul tracker as he looked in frustration at the large doors leading to the council chambers, silently wishing they would open up and allow him admission.
Clark felt frustrated when he found himself standing in a back alley by himself. He had been so close. Mxyzptlk! He had to be behind this whole thing. And yet when Clark had been in a time where he might have been able to confront the imp, he'd failed to do so. And Lois… Future Lois had been prepared to help him.
He took a deep, steadying breath as he looked around him, trying to figure out when he was now. Suddenly, the back door of one of the buildings opened and he watched in stunned silence as Lois rushed outside and got into a car. He was just about to go to her when he saw Lex Luthor follow her out.
Lois and Luthor?
Had Luthor kidnapped Lois? Maybe, but… she looked as if she was with him willingly, as if they were trying to escape from someone else. But when… He saw Luthor start the car and put the car in gear before Clark realized that he had to act or risk losing them. Spinning into his Superman suit, he rushed over and picked up the rear of the car so that the spinning tires didn't touch the ground, keeping Luthor there until he could figure out what was going on.
Suddenly it hit him. It was after Luthor had kidnapped Lois from her first almost-marriage to Clark. After Lois had lost her memory. After Luthor had used him to find Lois and escape with her.
Great! He'd always wanted to change this moment in his life and now that he had the chance…
Damn! He couldn't change this moment.
The tires stopped spinning and he set the car down. Changing back into Clark, he situated himself in front of the car, arms folded across his chest as he struggled between his need to change the past and his commitment to leaving the past the same. Why hadn't he just grabbed Luthor and taken him to the police? After all, Luthor was an escaped felon. If Lois decided she didn't want to come with him, he still wasn't certain he could force her, but he could have neutralized Luthor's effect on her. And he could have followed her, seen where she went so that he could get… someone to help her. Perry. His mother. Even her mother.
Instead, he'd simply let Lois drive off with Luthor.
Making his way to the driver's door, he yanked it open and pulled Luthor out of the car.
"I should take you directly to the cops," Clark hissed.
"I was only trying to protect her…" Luthor glanced over at Lois. "Clark."
"Clark…" Lois said, jumping out of the passenger's seat and hurrying over.
"Are you all right?" Clark asked, dumping Luthor unceremoniously on the ground to embrace Lois.
"Clark, we have to talk."
"Let's just get you safe," Clark responded, hoping that this time she would take him up on his offer, even if it did change the past. How was he supposed to do this? How was he supposed to just stand by and let her drive off with Luthor a second time?
"I'm safe now… With Lex."
Clark didn't respond as his mind struggled with what to do.
"Clark, we've been saved from a horrible mistake. I had doubts. I was afraid to disappoint you… our parents… I couldn't even face you. That's why I hid out here… pretending to be Wanda. The truth is, I'm not made for marriage. I need to go away and sort things out."
"Wherever Lex takes me. Seeing him again brought back all my old feelings. I love him."
"Lois, you don't mean this," Clark said, knowing this time that he was speaking the truth. Had he really believed her last time? How could he have been so stupid as to not to realize that this was all a trick? Even without knowing that she'd lost her memory, he should have realized that Lois would never be saying these things. After all, she hadn't even been able to say that she loved Luthor before her almost-marriage to the man.
"I don't love you," Lois continued. "I'm leaving, Clark. And if you love me as much as you say you do, you'll let me go." Turning, she headed back to the passenger's side of the car.
"Tough break, old man," Luthor said, heading back to the driver's side. "I hope you handle it with dignity."
Clark grabbed Luthor's arm before he could get back into the car.
"If you hurt her," Clark said, unable to remember exactly what warning he'd given Luthor at the time, but fairly certain he must have at least given Luthor a warning, "you'll answer to me."
Luthor wrenched himself free.
"Why, that sounds like a threat, Clark. My woman doesn't take kindly to threats."
Smiling, Luthor got into the car and put it in gear. Clark stood watching as the car took off down the street.
God, had he really been this stupid? Letting Lois take off with an escaped felon? Even if she had been in her right mind, he should never have let that happen.
Still… surely this time he didn't really have to stand there, feeling sorry for himself. Even if he couldn't do anything to stop it, what would it hurt to at least see where they went? After all, it wouldn't change anything for him to know — especially if he did nothing to change things.
Spinning into the Superman suit, he took to the air, following Luthor's car as it took Lois away from him. As he did, he watched Lois slide across the seat to snuggle up next to Luthor and felt bile rise in his throat.
"My dear," he heard Luthor say, "you were magnificent."
"I tall ya," Lois said with something of a New York accent, "I coulda been an actress. Who's this Lois, anyway?"
Luthor smiled. "Someone better off forgotten."
Clark's hands clenched into fists as he heard Luthor's final words. The desire to smash through the roof of the car and do that man great physical harm was almost overpowering.
Still, he maintained his distance, watching as the car pulled into an underground parking facility and Lois and Luthor got out. He followed them with his x-ray vision as they disappeared through a door and then down into a hiding place below the city.
The smell was remarkable, to say the least. Lois glanced down at her stocking-covered legs. Well, her stocking-and-mud-covered legs. What had ever possessed her all those years ago to wear a skirt on this particular venture?
For she knew instantly where she was. She was at the Metropolis Sewage Reclamation Facility.
Lois groaned. Of all the paces to leap, why did it have to be here? Why couldn't she have leapt into her first date with Clark? That would have been nice. She would enjoy reliving that.
Still, this trip had been important. No, she hadn't found Superman. But what she had learned had been just as valuable. In the long run, maybe even more so. After all, she'd learned that Clark wasn't the country hayseed she'd pegged him to be. She'd learned that she couldn't simply push him around and not expect him to push back. It had been the beginning of her friendship with Clark.
Still, she'd already learned this lesson. So why, oh why, couldn't she have leapt into a time when she and Clark had been cuddled up on his couch, necking while ignoring a video playing on his television?
She glanced around. Well, she might as well get on with it. Now… where exactly had she found that stupid Godzilla doll with the Superman symbol painted on its chest?
She took a step forward, cringing when she felt the slime squish in her shoes. Another step and she tripped, falling on one knee, her hand coming out to prevent a face first landing into the… whatever it was covering the ground.
She gagged, fighting against the bile that rose in her throat as she got an up-close smell of the ground. After taking a moment to collect herself, she forced herself again to her feet. She carefully wiped the slime from her arm with the edge of her jacket. If she recalled correctly, this had been the last time she had worn this suit. The dry cleaner had pronounced it beyond repair, telling her that nothing would ever get the smell out.
Still, since she was here, there was only one choice — to find that stupid Godzilla doll and get back to the Daily Planet.
Clark sat on the roof of a nearby building watching Lois sleep. He might not be able to help, but he didn't seem able to leave her, either. Besides, this shouldn't change history. After all, all he had done the last time was to sit on the top of an old church and feel sorry for himself. At least here, he could watch over Lois.
Lois had always been a little foggy about her time as Wanda Detroit. And Clark's greatest fear had always been that Luthor had… hurt her in some way. This time he could at least… what? Know if something had happened to her?
God, what if something had happened? Did happen? Could he really just sit here and let history run its course?
No! No, that was taking it one step too far. After all, Lois had interfered for the sake of Mayson Drake — he wondered how that had turned out. If Lois could do it for Mayson, he would do it for Lois.
His body tensed as he watched Luthor enter Lois' room. Lois' eyes suddenly snapped open with a startled gasp.
Was she remembering? Did she need his help? One word from her. One breath of his name on her lips and he would be there.
"Wanda, are you all right?" Luthor asked.
"Yeah. Yeah. I'm… Jeez, what a crazy dream."
Clark leaned forward. Had she been dreaming about him? Had she been dreaming about them?
"Tell me, my darling," Luthor said.
"No. I hate when people tell me their dreams." She hesitated, looking slightly confused. "Least I think I do. But… y'know, I can't remember anybody who ever told me their dreams, so how come I say I hate it?"
"You're tired. We both are. These last few days have been a nightmare. Hunted, hiding like rats. But all that is about to end. I have a plan that will free us forever from Clark and his evil factotum, Superman."
"Kent, why is this happening to us?"
"We're simply too good for this world, Wanda."
Clark rolled his eyes, following by a tensing of his entire being when Luthor leaned over and kissed Lois.
Suddenly, the world began to spin and fade as Clark felt himself, once again, being pulled away. Still, until the last possible moment, he kept his eyes on Lois, unable to let go of his need to protect her.
Lois limped into the Daily Planet, covered with mud and… things she'd prefer not to identify. In one hand she held the heel of her broken shoe and, in the other, she held a garbage bag.
She glared at people as they stepped back in revulsion, cutting a wide path for her as she made her way to the elevator. Stepping inside, she hit the button to the newsroom. Suddenly, a hand reached out, stopping the elevator door before it could close and, as if of one mind, all the elevator's occupants except her stepped off the car.
"Cowards," she yelled after them even as the elevator doors closed.
Still, her eyes watered at the stench coming off her in waves as she endured being in the confined space on her way to the newsroom.
"Where's the dirt?" she heard Cat say as she headed down the ramp into the bullpen.
"I think that's coming in right now," she heard Clark respond.
She glared at him as he, Cat and Jimmy all turned to look in her direction. That search hadn't been any more fun this time than it had when she had originally gone through it. When she got back to Clark… or, well, her Clark, she was going to make him take her to some deluxe spa in France for forcing her to go through that again! Oh, yes, Clark Kent was certainly going to pay!
Okay, so maybe she had deserved his little trick. After all, she had stolen a story from him only days before — something which still made her blush in shame whenever she thought about it. But he'd already gotten his revenge. And they'd moved past it, so why, oh why, did she have to suffer through this humiliation again?
"Lois, what happened?" Jimmy asked.
"Nothing. Nothing at all. Oh, you're referring to my… appearance. Well, after hours of tramping through the mud and filth and frogs and… things… I think I have a perfect right to be a bit… disheveled.
"By the way," she continued, waving the broken heel on her shoe in their direction, "did you know it's possible to get completely lost at the Metropolis Sewage Reclamation Facility? And did you know that there are billions of mosquitoes there? I do! I met them!"
She pulled down on the neck of her blouse to show them the angry welts. "Of course, my little trip to hell wasn't a total failure. I did find this."
She pulled a plastic Godzilla doll out of the garbage bag. Marching, with as much dignity as she could muster, over to Clark's desk, she dumped the doll on top of it before pulling out the map he had sent her.
"You wouldn't happen to know who sent me this, would you?"
He simply shrugged. It was then that she noticed the newspaper on his desk.
"You got the story?" she asked, although she knew full well he had gotten the story. After all, all he'd had to do was to sit down and interview himself.
She felt a flash of anger. In addition to that spa, he owed her a personal back massage! No, make that a full body massage!
"Yep." He got up and lightly tapped her cheek. "Consider this a life lesson, Lois. No charge."
"Uh, huh," she said. And a bottle of wine. A really expensive bottle of wine. She'd decide later if she'd let him share it.
She turned, heading towards the locker rooms. If she recalled correctly, she'd taken a shower now. And if she hadn't, well that was just too bad. She was going to have a shower. And that was just about the only thing good she could say about this leap so far. Clark had just better appreciate what she was willing to do to keep their past from changing.
She dumped the ruined suit into the trash. She had a change of clothes in her locker, after all. If her past self felt the need to dig it out and take it to get it cleaned, fine! But she couldn't see how that would change the past. Finally, and with a breath of relief, she stepped into the shower.
As she stood there, the mud of the night finally having been washed away, she felt the world begin to fade around her. Thank god. She couldn't get out of this time fast enough.
"No!" William exclaimed. "No, this can't happen!"
"What's wrong?" Remi asked. "They both kept history pretty much the same."
"Yes, except… that lesson… the one Lois was supposed to learn during her search of the Metropolis Sewage Reclamation Facility… her only memory of that was that of a bad dream. As far as she's concerned, she'd fallen asleep at home and dreamed about Clark setting her up. As a result, her opinion about Clark didn't change for a few more months."
"I don't understand," Remi said.
"When Lois and Clark leap out, the Lois and Clark they leave behind only have a vague memory of what had happened. As if they've been dreaming or drugged. Remember when we found the entry in Clark's journal about how he had no clear recollection of telling Lois he was from the future… Or when Lois and Clark thought their interlude at the campsite when they were teenagers was just… an overly vivid daydream?"
"Well, in those cases, the fact that they didn't remember saved Utopia. In this case, the lesson Lois was supposed to learn from tramping around at the Metropolis Sewage Reclamation Facility was lost on her. It took her a lot more time to come to the realization that she couldn't push Clark around without expecting him to push back."
"But… that did change? She did learn that lesson eventually?" Remi asked.
"Then surely Utopia is still intact?"
"I hope so. But, still, that's not nearly as bad as what Clark did."
"He didn't do anything different."
"No? When he left his former self, he was x-raying the building where Lois and Luthor were hiding out. Superman busted in immediately, rescued Lois and took Luthor to jail. Luthor didn't die in that collapsed building. A few years later, he escaped from prison and many more people died at his hands as he continued his criminal endeavors."
"We have to brace for this quake. It's going to be huge. By the time it's over, some of us might not be here — especially if any of us have ancestors who Luthor killed when he continued his terror spree."
"Where's Andrus?" Laddy asked. "Has he figured out the problem yet? We've got to stop this before any more damage is done."
"I'm right here," Andrus said, rushing into the room, waving a piece of paper in his hands.
"So what do we know?" William asked.
"Well, it seems that the problem is originating here. In this time. I've got… Well, we've even got a theory."
"Well, for god's sake, man. Don't just stand there. Tell us."
Instead of speaking, Andrus handed out a printout to each of the council members as the ground beneath them began to tremble from the time quake.
"Get that man in here," William hissed, sending Andrus scrambling to do as commanded.
When Clark realized he was lying on a bed kissing Lois, he put his full concentration into the task. After all, if something was worth doing, it was worth doing right. Deepening the kiss, he released the grip he had on her hands, allowing him to explore her body. He didn't particularly care where or when he was, just as long as he was allowed to keep kissing Lois.
"More towels. Yeah? Oops. Sorry."
The woman's unfamiliar voice intruded on the moment, followed by the closing of a door as the woman left the room.
What was it about that comment that sounded familiar? And did it really matter when he was kissing Lois?
He felt her hands wind their way through his hair as they continued kissing. He slipped his arm around her waist, pulling her body even harder against him.
Oh, yeah. Now this was heaven. He heard her moan her agreement.
Suddenly, he realized where he'd heard that comment before. The honeymoon suite — but it was most definitely not their honeymoon. He and Lois hadn't even known each other all that long when they'd been assigned this stakeout in the honeymoon suite of the Lexor Hotel. And he'd kissed Lois as a cover.
Oh, god. He was supposed to have broken the kiss when the maid left the room. What would Lois think? But… wait a minute! She was still kissing him, too. And her kisses were just as enthusiastic as his were. Maybe even more so. Could she…
He pulled back, looking into Lois' dazed eyes.
"What are you stopping for?" Lois objected, pulling him back to her.
He seemed unable to resist as she found his mouth again, this time invading it with her tongue as one of her legs hooked itself around his as if to hold him in position. Is this what would have happened if he hadn't pulled back when the maid had left all those years ago? Or…
He broke the kiss again. "Lois?" he asked.
She blinked and then seemed to look around in growing horror. "Oh, uhh…" She seemed to be searching for something to say. "Uhh.. right… uhh… doesn't anybody knock around here — or something like that?"
Clark smiled. She was trying to remember what she had said when he'd pulled back all those years ago. And she wasn't doing a very good job of it. Not that he could blame her. He felt more than a little… flustered himself.
"Lois, is that… you?" He stressed the final word to emphasize it. If it was past Lois, if he was reading the signs wrong, then she would dismiss the comment — probably with some sort of sarcastic remark. But if she was his Lois…
"Clark?" she asked cautiously.
He let out a breath of relief.
"Oh god, Clark," she breathed, pulling him back to her and kissing him again.
He smiled against her mouth. He'd always wanted to know what it would have been like to have his turn at sharing the bed. It seemed he was about to find out.
"Wait, Clark. I should let you know something before this goes any further."
"I sort of made love to future you."
"Oh, you did, did you?" Clark asked, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"You're not mad? Because I didn't even stop to think that maybe you would consider it… I don't know… as a betrayal or something."
"Why would I consider it a betrayal for you to make love to me?"
"Because you can't remember it?"
His smile widened. "But I will. Besides, I shared some pretty intense kisses with past you that you can't remember during your dance of the seven veils. Do you consider that a betrayal?"
"No, of course not."
"Besides," Clark continued, "if you made love to future me, I'm pretty much guaranteed to get lucky at least once in the future."
"You're pretty much guaranteed to get lucky right now," she growled before pulling him back into the kiss.
"They want to see you now."
Herbert George Wells let out a breath of relief. Finally!
Tempus. It had to be. And who besides him was the expert on stopping Tempus? They never should have left him sitting out there by himself when he could have been helping.
Still, it didn't matter now. He was ready and eager to find out what they might know and get to work.
"Wait, wait, wait," Lois panted, breaking the kiss again.
"What?" Clark panted.
"Well, we don't know how much time we have here. I just think before things get too… hot…" She fanned herself to emphasize her point. "…we should catch each other up. Talk. We didn't talk during the last leap when we ended up together. Have you had any luck at finding out what is going on?"
Clark nodded, closing his eyes as he fought to get himself back under control.
"By the way," Lois said while he regained his composure, "I sort of like this."
"What? Leaping through time?"
"No, lunkhead. I sort of like discussing an investigation this way. Do you think Perry could arrange to have a bed set up in the conference room?"
Clark laughed before leaning over to kiss the tip of her nose. "Something tells me we wouldn't get a lot of work done."
Clark chuckled again. "Although, I would sort of like to see Perry's face when you raise the idea."
She swatted his arm, her smile matching his.
"So…" she said as she ran the heel of her foot up and down the back of his calf.
"So," he responded, taking that as his signal to get them back on track. "I think I might have found something."
"During one leap, I jumped into my future self. You and I were in the middle of some sort of time loop created by an imp known as Mxyzptlk."
Lois' eyebrows rose. "An imp?"
Clark shrugged. "Well, that's what your future self told me. Unless… Lois, do you think maybe your future self is crazy?"
She swatted his arm again. "Watch it there, poolboy, or I may just have to go back to future you."
"So… you think that it might be this Measles person?"
"It makes sense. If he can put time in a loop, why couldn't he jump us around in it? Oh, and future you told me that to get rid of him, we have to get him to say his name backwards."
"That necessitates actually meeting him. Did you tell my future self what was going on?"
Clark nodded. "I figured that couldn't change our past."
"Good point. So what did she… I say?"
"You said that you had a vague recollection of leaping around in time."
"Vague recollection? I can't imagine forgetting searching the Metropolis Sewage Reclamation Facility twice in one lifetime."
Clark smiled. "No. I suppose one wouldn't forget that. Did you still find the Godzilla doll?"
"Yes. And you and I are going to have a serious talk later about how you are going to make that up to me. In the meantime, what else did my future self say?"
"Oh, right. You commented that it seemed like a dream to you."
"Well, that makes sense. Do you remember the first time we went back in time? I thought afterwards that I had dreamed it."
"Me, too. But didn't Wells do something to us that time — to make us forget?"
"Maybe he does something similar again."
"I hate that."
"I'm not so sure, Clark. Maybe it's best that we don't remember — especially our future."
She squirmed uncomfortably beneath him. He rolled over onto his side, allowing her to escape.
"I think…" She pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them as she sat against the headboard. "I think I might have seen your death."
"I'm serious, Clark. And… I didn't like it."
"Can't say the idea particularly appeals to me, either. But… are you sure, Lois?"
"No, I'm not. But there was this time window and… Look, I really don't want to talk about this."
"Time window?" Clark asked, sitting up. "Lois, do you think that is connected with this? Was Mxyzptlk there?"
"No. But Tempus was."
"Tempus? Did you have a chance to talk to him?"
She let out a breath. "I was sort of distracted by you being trapped in the time window, Clark. And I wasn't there very long." She turned thoughtful then. "When you were talking to my future self, did you ask me if this turned out all right in my dream?"
"No, I didn't."
"But if you were still there and I was still there…"
"We must figure it out somehow."
"But in the meantime…" Clark reached out, pulling Lois back into his arms. "I have some serious catching up to do with my wife."
Lois giggled. "Oh, you do, do you?"
"Yeah. I'm a newlywed, you know," he said as he began planting kisses down the side of her throat. "Besides… I seem to recall a guarantee that I was going to get lucky tonight."
Wells looked around at the council members as he was escorted to the front of the room, noting that some of the members had changed since he'd addressed the council earlier in the day. Consequences of one of the time quakes, no doubt. At least there was still a council.
"I take it you're about to ask for my help in stopping Tempus before he can do any further damage," Wells said when he was finally standing in front of the leaders of Utopia.
"Not exactly," William said, fixing Wells with a firm stare as he handed him a single sheet of paper.
"Oh my," Wells responded as he read the words.
"Lois?" Clark asked when he suddenly realized that Lois had gone still. "What's wrong?"
She gave her head a shake as if trying to tell him it was nothing, but the slight sheen of moisture in her eyes told a different story.
"Lois…?" he asked again.
"It's just… I guess I'm sort of feeling guilty."
"Guilty? For what? I already told you I'm not upset about you having sex with me in the future," he said with a smile. "In fact, I'd rather encourage it. I'm actually hoping you're planning to have lots of sex with me in the future."
"No, not for that. For…"
"It's just that I've done a lot of things over the years that have hurt you," Lois said softly. "Reliving so many of my mistakes… I guess I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry."
Clark rolled off her, propping himself up on an arm so that he could look at her. "Lois…?"
"No, Clark, let me finish. That day in the park when you told me you loved me. Stealing your story. Going out with Dan. Accepting Lex's…"
His finger on her lips cut her off.
"And I suppose it didn't cause you any pain when I broke up with you for your own good or let you leave with Luthor when you had amnesia or…" He hesitated before confessing what he saw as his greatest offence. "…or letting you believe I was dead after Dillinger shot me rather than trusting you with the truth about Superman."
At some point during his confession, Lois had reached over and started stroking his cheek. "How did we ever end up together after all that?" she asked gently.
"Well," Clark began thoughtfully, "it might have something to do with the fact that I'm head-over-heels, crazy in love with you."
A slow smile spread across Lois' face. "I suppose that might have something to do with it," Lois responded before leaning over to give him a kiss. "And I suppose, somewhere, buried incredibly deep inside me, might be some eensy weensy, microcosmic although highly unlikely possibility that I could feel some sort of unmotivated and completely unrealistic attraction to you, to… Eek!" she yelped when Clark flipped her over and began tickling her.
"Uncle! Uncle!" she gasped between laughter as she struggled to fight off his hands.
"Say it, Lois," he said, still continuing to tickle her.
"All right. All right. Maybe I sort of like you, too." Her laughter increased when the movement of his hands sped up. "All right. All right. I love you, too."
He stopped tickling her.
The smile slowly faded from her face. "I love you, too," she repeated, this time whispering the words. "I love you so much that I think it would kill me to ever stop."
His eyes softened and he leaned in to kiss her once again, this time much more slowly, putting all the love he felt for her into a single kiss. Suddenly, Clark ended the kiss and unexpectedly rose from the bed.
"Where are you going?" Lois asked.
"I just want to be sure there are no more interruptions," Clark said, heading out of the bedroom.
Lois smiled. Trust Clark. No one had interrupted them for the remainder of the evening when they had been in the honeymoon suite the last time. Still, he had undoubtedly gone to turn the deadbolt on the door, ensuring no one could enter.
She sighed as she lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling as her mind drifted back to time spent in the honeymoon suite years before. Suddenly, she sat up as one particular memory struck her. The jacuzzi.
Jumping up, she headed into the bathroom and turned on the water, adjusting the temperature until it was just right. She was still bent over the tub when Clark joined her.
"Have a fantasy or two you're wanting to fulfill?" he asked, wrapping his arms around her from behind and kissing her neck.
"In your dreams, farmboy! Or, did we decide you're the poolboy now?"
He laughed, releasing her. "Well, if we're playing out your fantasy, maybe we could play out one or two of mine, as well."
She turned and looked at him as he retreated from the bathroom.
Turning back to her task, she smiled when she heard soft, romantic music coming from the next room. She added bubble bath and closed the blinds just before the lights went down. A gust of wind later, and candles had been set up around the room.
She turned to watch as Clark began lighting each one in turn with his laser vision. Taking advantage of the moment, she quickly slipped out of her clothes and into the warm water, and then watched as Clark stripped to join her.
She leaned her head against the back of the tub and idly surveyed the play of the muscles of his powerful body as he took his time undressing. Although he wasn't looking at her, she suspected he realized she was enjoying the show and was taking his time as a result.
Finally, he looked at her, slowly walking towards the swirling water. Oh, yeah. This was definitely what had been missing during their last trip to this room. The view was certainly better.
She smiled as he finally slipped into the water on the far side of the oversized tub.
"What are you doing all the way over there?" she asked, her voice husky.
Growling, he made his way towards her, pushing through the water, his eyes never leaving hers. She felt her pulse rate rise as the blood began pumping quickly through her veins. God, she'd been with him so many times during this adventure — not to mention the two weeks before. So how was it she could still want him so desperately? Given the way this was all playing out, she couldn't imagine how they could ever have managed to get through their first day back at the paper after their honeymoon without one of them dragging the other into the storage room for a little hanky-panky.
His hands came to rest on the edge of the tub on either side of her body, trapping her between his strong arms. She raised her hands, slowly tracing the muscles of his arms.
She was so beautiful, and smart, and sexy, and… his. Clark felt his love for this woman swell inside him as he looked into her eyes. Beautiful eyes. He could stare into those eyes all day and never tire of seeing them. How was it that she could hold such sway over the responses of his body without doing more than touching his arms?
Her fingers slowly traced the muscles of his arms before they found their way down his chest, as if seeking to learn every contour of his body. Still, in spite of the movement of her hands, her eyes stayed on his — as if seeking to see into his soul the way he was seeing into hers.
"I got the surveillance equipment set up," he said and watched a smile spread across her face. "So… we have hours before we have to do anything to keep the past the same."
"Always the boy scout," she responded. "Always…" Her hands slipped below the surface of the water. "…prepared."
He closed his eyes momentarily. "Lois, what you do to me…" He leaned in, finally giving in to the desire to kiss her.
The kiss was slow… and incredibly sexy, as if both were holding back, holding themselves in check, wanting this moment, this interlude to last forever.
"Why can I never seem to get enough of you?" she whispered, finally breaking the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck and bringing her body flush against his.
He groaned. If there was a heaven, surely it couldn't be better than this moment, with this woman. His hands ran up and down her back, pulling her ever closer. If he could have, he would have found a way to crawl inside her skin, to become part of her in every way possible.
He pulled back just far enough to capture her mouth with his, plunging his tongue in and pulling it out several times before planting kisses over her face — her lips, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose — before leaving her face to find her ear.
As he swirled his tongue around the ridge of her ear, the feeling that they could simply stay like this forever seemed to end for Clark. He wanted her. He wanted to be one with her. And he wanted it now.
Clark was completely satiated as he swept Lois up in his arms and carried her out of the jacuzzi. She seemed hardly able to keep her eyes open. But then… he was having the same problem.
Carrying her sleepy body towards the bed, he used his heat vision to dry both of them — or at least, mostly dry them. He was simply too exhausted to stop long enough to do a proper job. With one hand, he pulled back the covers before slipping her inside and tucking the soft bedclothes gently around her.
"Stay here. Stay with me for just a little bit longer," Lois said, her sleepy eyes pleading with him. "I just want…"
He didn't make her finish. Flipping back the covers of the bed, he crawled in next to her. She snuggled up in his arms and a few minutes later, both of them were sound asleep.
Wells stood, staring in horror at the violent, hellish dystopia around him. Gone were the clean streets. Gone was the council. Gone was… everything. And in its place was a Metropolis devastated by the ravages of war.
Well, this wouldn't do at all. Now that he knew what the problem was, he had to stop it. He had to stop it now before anything else could go wrong. Always assuming, of course, that was even possible.
He quickly ducked down when bullets began firing in his direction. Of course, in order to save the future, first he had to make it out of here alive.
Lois woke up to the feel of a warm body next to her. "Mmm…" she moaned, running her hand over the hairy chest.
Her eyes snapped open and she looked in horror at the sight of a naked Dan in bed next to her. She quickly grabbed the sheet, pulling it around her body. When the hell was she? And what the hell was she doing in bed with Dan?
Before she could completely panic, she felt this world begin to fade around her.
Clark stared in confusion at the unfamiliar surroundings. He was in an apartment. And judging from the pictures and other trinkets around him, it was his apartment, but… He'd never seen this place before. And considering the moist heat in the air and the different sounds of the city outside, he knew he was no longer even in Metropolis. So where or when was he?
Before he could make that determination, the world began to fade around him.
"Lois?" Clark asked cautiously when his dizziness receded.
"Clark?" Lois asked with equal caution.
"Is that really…"
They both let out identical breaths of relief. They were in Clark's apartment. In Clark's bed. And they were together.
"Oh, thank god," Lois said. "I had this horrible leap where I thought I'd lost you."
"I had a pretty confusing leap, myself. I was living… somewhere else," Clark said. "It was nowhere that I recognized. But…"
"…where are we now? Other than the obvious, of course."
She pulled herself out of bed and Clark watched appreciatively as she walked over to the television and flicked it on. She picked up the remote on top and started flipping through channels, finally stopping on the Weather Channel.
"Lois?" Clark asked before it sank in what she was looking at. The date.
"Clark, this is the last morning before our honeymoon ends. It's the day…"
"…we started leaping."
"So what do you think this means? Are we back, or…"
"…is this just another leap?"
An unexpected knock on the door startled both of them. That hadn't happened last time.
Clark quickly lowered his glasses before the anxious look on his face was replaced with a grimace of annoyance.
"If it's Dan, tell him I'm not here."
"What?" Clark asked.
"Nothing. It's just… nothing. Who is it?"
"You better get a robe, Lois. It looks as if we're about to have company."
A sheepish-looking Wells stepped silently into Lois and Clark's apartment.
"I suppose you're here to tell us what the hell is going on," Lois said, folding her arms across her chest.
"Uhh… yes… quite," Wells said, moving a little further away from Lois and closer to Clark. "Well, I see you're back in your right time now. So I suppose the only thing left to do is to stop the two of you from leaping in the first place."
"Did Tempus do this?" Clark asked.
"Well, no. Not exactly," Wells said, making his way over to the couch. "Do you suppose I could have a spot of tea? This is going to take a while and I'm quite parched."
Lois rolled her eyes, even as Clark headed into the kitchen.
"So I'm given to understand you two have been on quite an adventure," Wells said as he took a seat.
"You could call it that," Lois said, sitting in a chair across from the still very nervous looking man on the couch.
"Yes, quite. Well, all's well that ends well, I always say."
"Are you saying it's over?" Clark asked from the kitchen even as he made the tea.
"Yes, yes. It's over. We just have to prevent it from ever happening. But that shouldn't be too difficult, I imagine. Just a matter of getting you out of the elevator and into the newsroom without leaping."
"Okay, so it's over. But I'm reasonably certain we're no closer to knowing what happened now than we were before. And since you say it wasn't Tempus…"
"…was it Myxzpltk?" Clark made his way over to Wells, handing him the tea before taking a seat on the arm of his wife's chair.
"Who? Oh, no. So you've met the little imp, have you? Terrible creature. Just terrible."
"Mr. Wells!" Lois interrupted. "Tell us what happened. This leaping has been sheer hell. And I assure you, someone is going to pay."
Wells choked slightly on his tea. "Well, honestly…" he began, setting his cup down on the coffee table. "I guess that would be me."
"You!" Lois and Clark gasped in unison.
"Yes, quite. It was… an accident, you see."
"An accident?" Lois asked. Clark's hand on her shoulder told her just how much fury her words had conveyed.
"Yes, yes. Sort of an… oops."
"An oops?" Clark asked. Lois' hand on his knee told him that he, too, was reaching the boiling point.
"Well, maybe I should start at the beginning."
"Maybe you should," Lois responded, through clenched teeth.
"When I was here before your honeymoon, you may recall that I brought with me a soul tracking device I picked up in the future." He held it up so that they could see it. "I locked your souls in this device so that I could take you back in time — to Sir Charles and Lady Loisette."
"When I left you here in your own time, I forgot to… unlock your souls. And then I was playing with the device and…" He shrugged sheepishly.
"You forgot to unlock our souls?" Lois asked in disbelief. "You mean, I went through hell and back because you 'forgot to unlock our souls'?"
"Oops," Wells said again, looking slightly sheepish, and more than a little nervous as his eyes darted to Lois.
"Lois," Clark said, trying desperately to calm her down so that he could get his next question answered before Lois tore Wells apart with her bare hands. "But that last leap… Where was I? Was that the future or…"
He felt Lois still as if she, too, was anxious to know the answer.
"Neither. It was… an alternate version of how things would have gone if we had left all the changes you made in the past unattended. Changes which ultimately resulted in the destruction of Utopia itself. It didn't affect me because I'm from the past. But… Utopia was destroyed."
"Changes? But we were very careful not to make any changes," Clark said.
"We did stop Mayson Drake from dying," Lois corrected. "I saw her on a later leap. Was that what…?"
"Oh, goodness no. It would take a lot more than that to destroy your relationship. In fact, none of the changes you made right up until the end were capable of destroying your relationship. Your relationship is too strong to be thrown off by the little things. Everyone knows that." Herb let out a breath. "Okay, let me go back for a moment. I was in Utopia while you were leaping through time. The council was discussing whether or not I should be allowed to continue my time explorations. Anyway, while I was there, a series of time quakes went through. I imagine Mayson Drake not dying caused of one of them, but it wasn't what destroyed Utopia."
"It's the ripple effect that happens when a change is made to the past. A quake goes through as things in the future have to correct themselves to adjust to a new set of past realities."
"And Mayson living caused one of these quakes?"
"Quite. But since she went on to marry Dan Scardino and they didn't have any children, the majority of the changes they made to the past dissipated over time — leaving only minor changes to the future."
"But if one of these time quakes went through, wouldn't it affect the memories of everyone in the future?" Clark asked seeming fascinated by the logistics of how this all worked.
"Well, the council has quake dampeners on the building. So… although they can't stop the effects of the quake, they continue to retain their memories for a period of time. Of course, were someone to step outside of the building, their memories would be completely altered. But at least it gives them time to… correct the problem."
"So… what destroyed Utopia?" Lois asked in an attempt to get them back on track.
"What destroyed Utopia was you and Clark…" He cleared his throat, looking slightly embarrassed as he continued. "…making love in the honeymoon suite of the Lexor Hotel."
"What?" Lois exclaimed, jumping to her feet. "Were you watching us in the honeymoon suite?"
"No. I assure you, I did no such thing!" Wells objected, looking aghast that they could even think such a thing.
"Okay," said Clark, slipping into the chair Lois had vacated and pulling her down to sit on his knee where he could hold onto her if Wells said something worse. "Then tell us how our making love in the honeymoon suite destroyed Utopia. Because we know that Lois and I can't have children, so once we leapt…"
"But that's where you're wrong. Dr. Klein's test results were incorrect. The problem was that Dr. Klein didn't realize that just like Earth women have a cycle, times of the month where they can… conceive, Kryptonian males also have a cycle."
"So there are only certain times of the month when Clark can get me pregnant?"
"Quite so. But when Clark went for testing, Dr. Klein didn't know that. And Clark wasn't there at the appropriate… time of the month. So…"
"He got the results wrong," Lois concluded.
"So Lois and I can…"
"Yes. Quite definitely. But then, I told you that when we first met. I told you Utopia was founded by Superman's descendants."
"So then, we destroyed Utopia by…" Lois glanced over at Clark. "…getting pregnant? How is that possible, since you said that our descendants will found Utopia?"
"By you becoming with child when you did," Wells corrected. "Tell me, when you leapt that time, where were you?"
"We…" Clark's face finally registered understanding. "We were asleep…"
"…in bed together," Lois completed for him. "So our former selves woke up and discovered that we were in bed together…"
"…and panicked. And then you find out that you're pregnant… But that doesn't explain how that destroyed Utopia. After all, I'm sure that if I found out I was going to be a father, I'd have asked Lois to marry me and…"
"What makes you think I'd have said yes at that point?" Lois asked. "Think about it. I find us together in bed with little or no memory of how I got there… Given what I thought of the male of the species at the time, what would my logical conclusion have been?"
"That I drugged you and… what? Raped you? I would never…"
"I know that," Lois said, leaning in to give him a brief kiss.
"And you tried to believe that at the time, too, Ms. Lane," Wells said. "You accepted his word that he had been drugged, too. And that he had no memory of what had happened. And thus, that nothing had, until…"
"…she discovered she was pregnant."
"And when paternity testing proved that Clark was the father…"
"I became convinced that he'd lied to me about drugging and raping me. After all, how could he be the father if he was too drugged to know what was happening?"
"Precisely — especially when you had some pretty erotic, albeit hazy — and, you believed, drug-induced — images from that night. Everything you knew, everything you remembered, pointed to the idea that Clark had raped you. However, you didn't bring charges because you still had doubts — especially with Clark protesting his innocence in the loudest terms possible. But it did destroy your faith in him.
"Although you never told anyone what had happened," Wells continued, "you made it clear to Perry White that if he assigned you and Clark on a story together again, you would quit. You were simply too scared of Clark to work with him. When Mr. White realized you were serious, he quit assigning you and Clark the same stories."
"And the baby?" Clark asked.
"Lois lost the baby as a result of all the stress around the whole situation. And never again did she allow herself to be in any situation where she was alone with you. Eventually, you came to the conclusion that your continued presence at the Daily Planet was just causing her pain and you left. After a long time, she got on with her life, but, Clark, you never really did. Superman still continued to patrol the skies, but you never married, were never able to get past Lois — and what you knew in your heart was meant to be."
"Does anyone else have a headache?" Lois asked.
"But now that we're back…" Clark said.
"All we have to do is to have you get out of the elevator and into the newsroom at precisely nine twelve and… assuming you're still together, everything will correct itself. Leaping you to this point took some tricky maneuvering on my part. I had to go into the past and make… some not-so-pleasant changes myself."
"Believe me, it's better that you don't know," Wells said, not entirely sure how they would react to knowing that Wells had secretly slipped the morning after pill into Lois' coffee the day after their night in the honeymoon suite. "All that matters is that you're here now and that none of the changes any of us made to the past will have ever occurred when you get into the newsroom the way you should have in the first place."
"Okay, my headache is getting worse," Lois said. "So… all we need to know is that we go up in the elevator, exiting at nine twelve, and everything will correct itself?"
"Yes, my dear."
"I still have a couple more questions," Clark said. "When I leapt into the future, Lois' future self didn't exactly… remember all of this. So…"
"Well, going back through the point of the first leap will likely… How did they say it in that charming television series in the early nineties? Quantum Leap? Yes, I believe that was the name of the show. I especially liked the episode where Sam meets a young woman who, once he changes the past, becomes his wife. I thought she was an amazing actress."
"Mr. Wells!" Lois said, not caring much about amazing actresses.
"Oh, right. Sorry. Just as in Quantum Leap, your brain will be… sort of Swiss cheesed. You might remember bits and pieces of your leaps, but nothing more than that — as if you'd been dreaming."
Lois sighed. "I hate that part."
"But if we changed the past… our past during our leaping, why didn't it change our memories of events?" Clark asked.
"Your minds were not affected, even though you could see the changes you made — Lois seeing Ms. Drake, for example — because you were outside of time. If you were left in those time periods with the changed pasts long enough, your memory of the way things really were would have faded, leaving the altered memories in their place. Fortunately, you were never in one place long enough."
"So where did you go on your last leap when I was in some dingy apartment far away from Metropolis?" Clark asked, looking at Lois.
Lois shifted uncomfortably. "I guess I was sort of with Dan."
"Dan?" Clark asked incredibly. "Scardino? You were with Scardino? How could you possibly get involved with Scardino?"
"Hey, don't take this out on me! You're the one who left me."
"Well, I didn't think I had a choice. You were scared of me."
Wells clearing his throat brought them both back to reality. They looked at each other sheepishly. Arguing about something that they hadn't done — at least in this time line — was more than a little bit crazy. On the other hand, after the past few days, they both already felt a little bit crazy.
"Sorry," Lois said. "I didn't like it any better than you do. Trust me, leaping back to you was a relief."
"But I don't understand," Clark said after a moment. "I thought Scardino married Mayson."
Both Lois and Clark turned to look at Wells, awaiting an explanation.
"Uhh… yes. Well, that's one of the fascinating things about leaping through time changing the past."
"I can think of different words to describe it," Lois mumbled under her breath.
"Lois, when you leapt back and told Clark how to prevent Mayson's death, she survived — and went on to marry Dan Scardino. But then the two of you leapt back to an earlier time and changed things again. As a result, Clark left Metropolis. So he wasn't around when Mayson was killed so he could hardly save her."
Lois and Clark stared at him for a long moment.
"I definitely need some aspirin," Lois said, rising to his feet and heading towards the bedroom. "Well, if we're going to do this, I guess I need to have my shower and get dressed. Not all of us can get ready in five seconds." She was just about to step through the door before she spun back around.
"Mr. Wells, before I have my brain Swiss cheesed, there's something I have to know. During one of the leaps, I jumped into a future time where… Clark was trapped in a time window and I watched it explode. Did Clark…" Her voice trailed off as she found herself unable to put her fears into words.
"Oh no, my dear. Clark survived."
She let out a breath as tears accumulated in her eyes. "Thank you," she breathed as she headed off to the shower.
"Are you ready?" Clark asked, taking her hand.
"I don't know why I'm so nervous. All we have to do is take the elevator to the newsroom."
Clark gave her a smile which told her that he was nervous, too. After all, the task might be simple, but so much was riding on it.
"By the way," Lois continued, "why did you insist on buying that coffee and donut?"
"We had coffee and a donut when we went up the last time." To her raised eyebrows, he continued. "I just thought that it would be best to keep things as close as possible to the way they were."
Lois nodded. "Didn't I have anything?"
"Oh, right. I think you had the coffee," he said, handing her the cup.
They were about to step into one of the elevators when Lois noticed a man approaching.
"Wait! Clark, isn't that the man we rode up in the elevator with last time?"
"Yeah, it is," Clark said, waiting so that they could be sure to get into the same elevator with their former traveling companion. They punched in the number and waited.
The man with them stepped off the elevator.
Lois turned to Clark as the elevator doors closed, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him close to kiss him. "For luck," she said as she broke the kiss.
"I need more luck than that," Clark responded, pulling her back in and kissing her properly.
The ding of the elevator finally propelled them apart and they stepped, somewhat dazed and confused, into the newsroom.
"Well, that was…"
Lois shook her head, trying to figure out why she was so happy to be back at work this morning. After all, that honeymoon had been… wow!
She glanced down at the coffee in her hand. This wasn't right. She'd had a donut. Giving her head a slight shake, she quickly exchanged her coffee for Clark's donut. How on Earth had that happened? That kiss in the elevator must have been more intense than she'd realized. Although…
"Well, look who's back! The happy couple," Perry said.
"Lois! C.K.! How was Hawaii?" Jimmy asked.
"Are you kidding?" Perry said before Lois had to explain that they'd never actually made it to Hawaii. "These two got the very same look Alice and I had after our honeymoon at Graceland. Of course, we all know how that turned out…"
Lois and Clark shared a look: relief, happiness… confusion? Before shaking the thought off and heading into the newsroom, happy to be starting their first day of work as husband and wife.
A man in a bowler hat, checking his pocket watch, looked on in satisfaction before disappearing into the stairway.
June 16, 1997
"You can have all the money in the world, but when your time's up, it's up," Jimmy said, coming over to Lois' desk.
"Chinese fortune cookie?" Lois asked.
Jimmy held up a file. "Carter Clavens. Rich, powerful, healthy, dead. Fell thirty stories. Plop."
"Exercycle. Bike went right out a window. With him on it."
"By itself," Lois repeated, suddenly lost in thought.
"Cops said it's like the bike had a mind of its own or something."
Lois watched as Clark approached. "That's what the guard said to Superman about the prison gate, isn't it?" she asked Clark. "Jimmy, see if there's any other link between the two deaths." She watched Jimmy walk away before turning to Clark. "Curious, don't you think?"
"Um… sort of?"
"Could we talk?" Clark asked. "Privately?"
"Sure," Lois said before following him into the conference room, leaning against the table as she watched him close the door and pull the blinds.
"I just came from Star Labs," Clark said when he was finished.
"Really? You coulda just called me. What did Dr. Klein say? Wait! You couldn't call, could you? The news… The news isn't good."
"Honey, Dr. Klein ran every test he could. The poor guy could hardly face me." He came over to stand in front of her. "He said Superman's biology and an Earth woman's are… incompatible for reproduction."
Lois blinked. There was something just so… deja vu about this moment. As if she'd been here before, heard all this before.
"Clark, he's wrong."
"Clark, think about this… what if… what if Superman's biology is on some sort of… I don't know… cycle, maybe. Maybe there are only times of the month when he's fertile. I mean, we know so little about Superman's biology."
"You really think that might be it?"
"I don't know but… doesn't something sound… right about that?"
Clark cocked his head to the side as he thought about her words. "Yeah, it somehow does."
"We don't give up — no matter what Dr. Klein might tell us." She cupped his face in her hands. "I want you to listen to me, Clark. I mean, really listen. You and I are going to have babies together. I promise."
He smiled, leaning in to kiss her. "Whatever you say, Lois. Whatever you say."
Lois laughed. "At least you've got that right, poolboy."
Clark pulled back, looking at her curiously. "What did you just call me?" he asked as a minor time quake rippled through Utopia.
Credits: I got the idea for time quakes from a movie I saw a long time ago staring Chris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd called Millennium.