By Mary Scibetta <Meg4076@aol.com>
Submitted July 2000
Summary: Lois and Clark have to deal with the realities of the Vietnam War when Jonathon falls ill.
I have been asked by several people to submit this to the archive. I have tried to tone it down a bit from its original format but have left all the war scenes intact for historical purposes. I wrote it with the understanding that it would enlighten some FOLCs to Vietnam realities.
"Clark Kent here. Sure. Thank you, Dr. Klein." Clark hung up the phone and walked over to his wife's desk. "That was Dr. Klein; he said that he would run another set of tests on that transmitter we found. What do you have?" Lois leaned in closer to her husband and slightly pulled on his tie. He smiled and did it up tighter.
"Well, seems that the Newtrich sisters have a little brother that was just picked up by the police — some car painting incident, nothing they need Superman for." Clark looked at the copy that Lois was printing out for the evening edition when he heard a scream from across town. "Go." Clark smiled and started off when his phone rang. "I'll get it." Lois walked over to get the phone and nearly dropped it before Clark ever got away.
"What is it, Lois?" Clark looked worried and seemed to forget about the person hollering for help. Lois handed him the phone and turned white as she sat him down. Clark took the phone carefully, still looking at Lois.
"Mom…what's wrong?" Clark sat silent listening on the phone to his mother for several minutes, turning more white with every word. Lois pulled her chair over and sat next to him. She attempted to not show pain at Clark's squeezing her hand. The rest of the newsroom by now had stopped; Perry stood in the doorway of the office waiting for the worst. "Ok, I'll be there as soon as I can." Clark hung up the phone and sat at his desk.
"Clark…honey. You're scaring me — what's happening." Lois turned him to face her.
"My father's ill. Not just sick; they don't know what it is. He's in the hospital, but they don't know what's going to happen. Lois…my dad," Clark let go of her hand and picked up his keys.
"Clark…wait…" Lois ran over to her desk and gathered her things and took a quick glance over at Perry, who said nothing. Lois caught up with Clark, who was all out of sorts. Around the corner of the Planet, Lois stopped him. "Don't you think we should…you know.." She signaled for them to fly. "It would be faster."
Clark stopped and leaned against the wall, looking up in the sky. "I have always been able to save all these people…Metropolis…Earth…New Krypton, but I can't do anything for my father. Mom said they think it's something that has been slowly bothering him over the last few years. He never wanted to tell me; he was worried I wouldn't leave him. The doctors think it's something from the war."
Lois looked at her husband, "You never told me that your father was in the military." Lois pulled him along, trying to get them to the car. Once in the car, Clark completely broke. Lois had never seen her husband this way before — this was beyond anything superpowers could do for them. Clark leaned up against the window and undid his tie. At that moment, he could care less who he really was and if anyone knew. He covered his face with his hands and kept saying no, no, no to himself. Lois pulled his hands away and to feel them wet with tears. She put her arms around him as he continued to stare out the window and mumble to himself. Lois tried everything not to butt in and help out.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not really. It's really not something I even understand." Clark wiped his face again.
"Ok." Lois stared back at the road and tried to concentrate on other things. She felt Clark shift in the seat and sigh harder.
"He was on the list. The country at the time was under the impression that the mission was nothing like a war. They had been promised that Korea would not happen again. They decided that he was good to go on the mission since it would be back in the same time his time was up. Besides the preparation to get there and what the return trip was like, they had never told me any details of the plight my father had."
Both Lois and Clark had studied about it in college but never had been so close to the situation. Now Clark wished that his parents had been more honest with him when he was younger.
Getting out of the car, Clark patted his now year-old daughter on the head. Lois followed close behind and watched Clark walk up the stairs to their room. "Ms. Fairchild, we have a family emergency that we need to go out of town for. Will you be okay here alone with Kelly?" The nanny shook her head yes and Lois ran upstairs after Clark. When she got in the bedroom, he was already stuffing things into a suitcase, still crying and mumbling to himself. "The nanny is staying here with Kelly; she just left to take her to the park while we get ready." Clark looked up and took off downstairs. Lois ran to the window and saw Clark stop Ms. Fairchild and Kelly. Clark had become the most protective father she had ever seen and more human every day. Lois started crying finally after seeing him pick up Kelly and kiss her gently. Little did she know what was tearing her father apart at that same time. Next time Lois looked down, Ms. Fairchild was heading down to the park and Clark was back in the room, continuing to pack.
"Are you going with me?" Clark didn't look up but continued to put things together.
"Of course, why would you ask that?" Lois had been packing since he had left but was a bit behind. She held his shoulders as he looked over her into space.
Arriving at the hospital in Smallville, Clark was still not speaking to Lois. The whole trip, short as it was, seemed to take forever. The last time he had been this silent was when they fought over her editor's position. She followed Clark into the hospital and up to the front desk.
"Jonathon Kent's room please." The nurse walked around the corner of the desk and asked them to follow her. They went through doors that said personnel only. Clark and Lois both knew that could be a bad sign. The nurse stopped outside an ICU room and then pushed the door open.
"Your mother has not gone home for three days, Mr. Kent. She needs some rest." Clark nodded and followed Lois into the room. Lois quickly turned into Clark's chest when she saw his father. Clark stood in the doorway and stared at his father. Hooked up to every machine possible, his father was struggling just to breath regularly.
"Mom…is it any better?" Clark walked over to his mother who had faded into sleep.
"Clark, I don't know…they won't tell my anything. Everything's so secretive when the military is involved." Martha was having a hard time speaking about anything herself. For so long, the Kents had never been in danger with Clark being Superman but couldn't avoid what was happening. Lois just leaned against the opposite wall from his father and cried. She looked over and couldn't hear what Clark and Martha were talking about.
"I need some air, Clark," Lois said quietly. Clark shook his head and watched as Lois left. She walked around the ICU area until she got to a waiting room. She sat down next to a little gentleman that seemed to be intrigued in Lois.
"It's hard to imagine that bad things can happen when everything is going so smoothly for so long." Lois just glanced at the man and turned back to the magazine she was reading. "Lois, you now need to be the strong one, for Clark's thoughts are clouded. He has never had to endure such pain." Lois looked back at the man and started shifting in her seat.
"Who are you?" Lois moved further away.
"Lois my dear, I felt after all the good work you and Clark have done for the future, I could repay you. I just wish the circumstances could be better. H.G. Wells." Lois suddenly beamed with a smile.
"Where's the garb you usually wear? Why are you here? I mean, it's nice to see a friendly face, but this isn't the time really to be yanking us away from here."
"I improved the time traveler. I am able to change to look presentable in whatever time. As for you and Clark, I am here to help you — there is no Tempus, no Lex, no villains this time dear. I am here for Clark, for Clark's father." Lois' mouth dropped open and looked keenly interested. "You see. I have become something of your guardian angel and the guardian of the status of Utopia. Martha at this exact time is telling Clark about your father's illness and how they have known of it for some time. Jonathon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Clark can change…Lois?"
"Just a minute." Lois rushed across to the room and barged in on Clark and Martha. "Clark, can I speak you?" Clark looked at his mother and followed Lois back over to the waiting room. "Clark, sit down here and talk to this man." Clark looked at Lois puzzled.
"I'm not really in the mood for games." Clark tried to get up but the little man stood in his way.
"H.G.Wells, Clark, you do remember me." By the look that Lois got, Clark remembered. "Now, Clark…you have important mission that Lois and I think you can take."
"Please, I have enough to worry about here. Please, no changing history or saving the world right now." Clark stood up and started off when Wells took him by the arm.
"What if it would save your father? I have a solution." Clark turned and looked at Lois and then at the little man. "It does have quite a risk involved but I think we may be able to pull it off." Seeing that Clark was interested, H.G. went on. They sat together and spoke for almost an hour before they broke for a break.
"I need to speak with Lois." H.G. excused himself and went over to talk to the nurses on their break. "Lois, this is a huge chance. I could keep my father from here." Lois could tell he was ready to go.
"Clark, you heard him though. He doesn't know if you would be able to come back if you were to be wounded or killed. You won't have any of your powers — you'll be like all the other men that went to Vietnam. Powerless." Clark hugged Lois when she started crying.
"I know, but there's a chance that even if I was wounded, I could get back to this time before history changed. I would come back to you, I promise. The only difference here from me leaving for New Krypton is it's a different war."
Lois suddenly got angry, "No…it's different. We weren't married. You weren't leaving your daughter and I high and dry. And what happens if he dies?" Lois pointed at Mr. Wells, who of course, stated he would have to go with Clark. "You would never get back then. Mr. Wells…come here." He returned at Lois' request. Clark was just waiting to get started. "If you died, could Clark get back?"
"I suppose I could teach Clark to use the controls also. But in all cases, it would be better if I just stay alive. As for your daughter and Lois, if you were to not come back, Kelly would simply not exist and no one would have heard of Clark or Superman unless he appeared at the Planet the next time he came back. Clark, you would have to remember to return to the Daily Planet because Lois would remember everything."
"I would remember him but we would have to start over?" Lois was scared and Clark knew she didn't want him to go.
"In a sense, yes. You would have to find each other again. Shall we be going?" Mr. Wells looked at Clark who hugged Lois.
"Don't do it. Clark, your parents can't live forever." While Lois continued pleading for Clark to listen to reason, he kissed Lois gently on the mouth and rubbed his hand down her face.
"But this isn't the way. I can save him. I want to see Kelly when I return. I love you, Lois." Clark started walking away with Mr. Wells.
"Clark…" But they had already disappeared into the hospital walls.
Lois stood there in the waiting room entrance with a blank look on her face, not seeing Martha walking up to her. "Where's Clark ? Jonathon is awake for a few minutes and can talk to him."
"Martha, please come sit down. I have something real difficult to explain to you." Lois had Martha sit down with her in the waiting room and began telling her about all the meetings with H.G. Wells. Through the stories, Martha looked more and more confused but could believe anything after what Lois and Clark had been through in the past.
"So, Lois, this Mr. Wells took Clark with him to save Jonathon? Lois, we have no idea really when Jonathon became ill." Martha was not crying, not doing anything, just staring into space while talking to Lois.
"Martha, I'm pretty sure that if Clark can find him and get him out of his situation that when they return, you won't even be here in the hospital. Every other time this has happened, we usually end up reliving the same few moments again." Lois held onto Martha's hand and prayed together as both hoped that Clark would be successful, but more, just to return.
In another time, Clark and Mr. Wells arrived at the beginning of their journey into the unknown.
"Now, you cannot be Clark Kent, so when we arrive, we can decide on a new name for you. You may keep Clark but the last name must change." Clark shook his head in affirmation and gave a name as he watched the lights around them slow to a stop.
He and his Mr. Wells looked around and suddenly felt the sensation of sinking. Looking down, Clark saw his new name on already wet fatigues, Jorel. It wasn't spelled the way he had hoped but would do. Looking down at his feet, he could see that it had been raining for awhile wherever they happened to be at that moment.
"Mr. Wells? Where did you go?"
"I am right here but I need to go back to Lois. I am much too old to be here for any length of time, but I have put you in the same platoon as your father. Just do not slip and call him father. I will return to you later tonight. You will be on duty alone and that will be the best time." Before Clark could say anything, the little man had disappeared again.
Looking around, Clark noticed that he was standing now between several other young men in this swamp. Then he noticed an officer standing in front of him. Clark looked around, it appeared he was at some sort of airbase. There were about five helicopters behind him.
"We're waiting on you. Do you need a written invite?" The officer looked at Clark and asked again, "Jorel, Private Jorel."
Clark stood up straighter, "Jorel, sir." Clark responded, surprised someone knows his name, 'Mr. Wells is good.' The officer looked at him again funny as the rest of the kids standing next to him tried not to snicker.
"Jorel, grab that ruck sack and get your green little ass on Chopper three." Clark grabbed the large green backpack at his feet and threw it on his back, almost falling over. Without his powers suddenly little things seem to hurt as he ran over to the third chopper and got handed a M16 and four magazines of ammo.
"Here's your new girlfriend, kid," the sergeant said to him. Taking the piece of steel in his hands, Clark's mind wandered past the word 'girlfriend.'
"Lois," he mumbled to himself as he got in the chopper.
"Already gotta a name for her already. You're going to be just fine here," the sergeant patted him on the back as the other two people in the chopper looked on. Before leaving, Clark and the other men waited until another three people joined them on the chopper. None talked to each other, most likely nervous about what was going on.
Clark noticed that everyone on the chopper had one stripe on their sleeve except for the man setting up the machine gun on a post in the doorway.
Sitting in the middle of the chopper, Clark could see out the open door. He watched as the first and second chopper took off and instinctively took hold of the metal seat before their chopper began to lift off. Clark, still not used to not trusting his own flight, did not look out the windows to see around him. He noticed the other men also sat straightforward and did not look around, and no one spoke. The only man that was speaking was the machine gunner that was leaning out the door. After several minutes of flight, the pilot stuck his finger up and waved his arm to the left. The men on the chopper looked over at the gunner as he stood up and pulled the lever on the gun, which made a loud sound. After a few more seconds, Clark got the courage to look out the doorway and saw them barely missing the treetops with the chopper base. Looking out the other doorway, he saw something more horrific. Clark saw a puff of black smoke coming out the rear of chopper 1 and then saw the chopper fall through the trees in a blaze. Breathing hard, Clark sat back, holding his head. Suddenly grabbing the seat, the chopper pulled a hard right as the machine gunner started shooting into the trees. The sound was deafening as Clark strained to not look and put his hands over his ears.
Clark looked around, still covering his ears and heard firing coming up to the chopper. Suddenly he saw the man across from him grab his foot and start yelling. Next to him, the man looked as if he was slumped over asleep on the man with the foot that was gone. With the sharp turn toward the left by the driver, the pool of blood from the man's foot ran down next to Clark's boot. Looking out the doorway, Clark could now see straight to the ground.
"ARRGG." The gunner instantly screamed, clutching his chest as he leaned over and fell out of the door. Clark stared in horror, unable to move. Looking around the chopper, Clark saw the splatter of blood from the gunner and noticed three holes the size of nickels in the steel wall. The last hole was some six inches from Clark's head.
Once in a clearing, Clark could feel the chopper coming down to the ground. The canopy opened up on the side that had been shot and saw several men with stretchers running out to the chopper. Pushing past Clark, the medics pulled out the man with the injured foot and put him on the stretcher. The other man slumped over was thrown on another stretcher and carried off. As the men were removed, Clark noticed the seat across from him was covered red. Clark shook his head as he got out of the chopper and threw his gear on the ground.
"Hey Jorel!" Clark heard someone call his name and looked around. Looking across the landing strip, he saw a man with a black bar on his uniform. Trying to think back to the Operation Blackout, he saluted the officer as the man headed over to him. "Private Jorel reporting, sir."
Grabbing Clark's wrist hard, he yanked his arm down and got in his face. "I would really hate to die today, so don't you be saluting an officer in the field. Ever."
"Yes, sir," Clark answered.
"Ok, I'm Lt. Patterson — your platoon leader. Welcome to Bravo Company, 3rd Platoon. Where you from kid?"
"Kansas, sir," Clark responded as he walked with Patterson. Clark tried to hide the pain of the rucksack and other equipment he had to carry.
"Well, you ain't in Kansas anymore, Dorothy."
"I can see that." Clark dropped his gear outside the tent the lieutenant entered.
"Hey, Dorothy, you seem like a pretty big guy — you going to be my new 60 gunner." Lt. Patterson handed him a large machine gun like the one in the chopper and two green metal boxes. "These are yours, let me have the 16 and that ammo." Clark handed him the other gun he had been handed earlier. "Come on, get your stuff and I'll show you the squads tent. "
"Your group." Lt. Patterson walked in and Clark saw all the men in the tent stand. "Guys, this is your new man. Private Jorel — meet the guys. He's from Kansas boys." Clark started to say hi and instead was answered first.
"Dorothy!" The men all yelled in unison.
"Well, I'm sure that Sergeant Kent is gonna love you. Quiet and big." Lt. Patterson started to turn and leave.
"Who's Sergeant Kent?"
"He's your Platoon Sergeant, you'll meet him tonight before ya'll leave. Guys — you make sure you're gone from here by 2300 where you get some rest before tomorrow." The lieutenant left, and the other men started gathering around Clark. He noticed that as they introduced themselves, many of them had better nicknames than he did.
"What's up with your nicknames?"
"Dorothy, that's your green name. You want something better — earn it, like trying not to get shot," Snake answered. Clark found his cot and decided to lie down as the other men went back to talking. After putting the overweight machine gun down, he suddenly felt dead. Lying down, the voices in the tent seemed to disappear as he fell asleep.
The next feeling that Clark felt was the cot he was on being tipped and his head hitting the ground. He looked around and saw a bunch of the men in his squad looking at him, laughing. The man in five stripes looked down at Clark, holding his cot in his hand. Clark looked up at the man whose nametag said 'KENT.' Clark looked at his face as he rose. He could remember from the pictures that it was his dad, but he had a much colder yet excited look in his eyes. "You Dorothy?" Kent asked.
"Yes, " Clark responded.
"Glad to know you, I'm Sergeant Kent." He leaned over and gave Clark his hand to pull him up. The other men had since gone back to packing up. "The Lt. tells me that you're my new 60 gunner," he said as Kent pointed to the machine gun at his feet.
"I guess so, " Clark replied, still trying to gain his balance.
"Well, I hope you last longer than the last gunner. Two weeks in the field and the idiot set off a Bouncing Betty and lost his legs. Well, anyway, welcome to the bad Bravo."
"HOOAHH," all the men shouted as they grabbed their gear and started walking out.
"Get your gear and get with them; we have some trails to clear," Kent seemed to yell at Clark as he walked out of the tent. Clark picked up his gear and followed his father out of the tent. "We're expected on the hill in 30, so get anything you need up there together. You might want to take a meal — we'll miss dinner. I just hope we see some action tonight — the last two months have been horribly boring. I'm so tired of digging trenches and filling bags. You ok?"
Looking up at his father and then back at his things, Clark wondered what he had gotten himself into. He looked through his sack, sighing, pulling out a bagged meal, some repellant, and his can of a hat. "I'm ready. Why don't we just go."
"Umm. Kid, you might want that." Jonathon pointed over to the corner where Clark had laid M-60 before. He looked in his sack again and found a full clip of ammunition, hoping he wouldn't have to use it. Seeing Jonathon smile in anticipation, Clark followed him out the tent and started the trudge in the mud and waist deep grass up to the lookout point for the area.
"Most nights I've been here there isn't anything to do, so I usually write to my wife. How about you uhh.."
"Clark, I'm married too. I hear that a lot of the kids are barely dating that get sent here." Clark kept feeling of the heavy gun that he had to lug up the hill for apparently no reason.
"Well, you got to be careful with these kids. They'll warn you before your first time on leave, but the Viet women here incredibly pushy. And the other guys; I try not to stick out but it's really hard on the weekends. Needless to say, some of the things that you do here shouldn't be shared with wives." Clark could feel his heart drop as he thought of what his father was saying; that he could have cheated on his mother and to think that it went with the war. Clark began thinking that the whole world he knew had betrayed him on some topics.
"Well, I don't think I'll be writing to mine. She's kind of out of touch."
"I here ya there, boy. Well, I'm gonna you know…" Jonathon slithered off as Clark sat back against the mud wall and started pulling grub looking lizards off of his legs. He could see nothing, hear nothing. He decided that writing to Lois, even in a different time, would at least tell her he was still all right. He borrowed some paper and a scrappy pencil from his father's things and started to write, hoping the rain would stop long enough to get something down.
Lois sat in the room with Martha and Jonathon, waiting for better signs of recovery. If Jonathon could recover then Clark could return and now all three of them knew that.
Pushing the door open, Ms. Fairchild was at the door. Lois ran over to the door and walked back out with the nanny. "Thank you for coming so quickly."
"I had figured as much, Mrs. Kent, so I had packed us up before you even called. How are the Kents holding up?" Ms. Fairchild took Kelly from the carrier and handed her to Lois as they sat down in the waiting room.
"Not any better. And our nerves have just about had all they can take. Were there any messages at home for us?" Lois sat Kelly up on her lap and bounced her gently to try to wiggle a smile out of her daughter.
"These were on the machine that afternoon when I returned to the house. Perry called again and said that you take all the time that you need and then some. You seem to have a lovely boss." Lois smiled as she continued to play with Kelly Elizabeth. Lois thought back at the strange things that always happened to her and Clark. Then the child entered their lives and for six months they had been almost normal. But now a normal life was being taken from them, but they were in the position to save it. Lois looked down at Kelly, who started yawning again.
"Ms. Fairchild, here is the house key. Take her to the Kents and both of you get some rest. I'll be along sometime." Lois handed her baby back to the nanny and quietly went back toward the room where Martha and Jonathon were. But was stopped suddenly by the short little man dressed normally this time.
"Mr. Wells, where's Clark?" Lois looked panicked.
"Dear, he's in Nam. I can't very well be there at my age. My dear, he's fine and I will be checking on him soon enough. How's Jonathon holding out?"
"I think ok, but I hope you put Clark close enough in time. We can't wait around for months."
"Lois, I put him within a couple of weeks of the first blast. It will be alright." Lois started to shiver.
"Blast? What blast?"
"These blinding blasts that I have only read about. Not at all like the Utopia you and Clark represent."
"Mr. Wells, are you talking about the same blasts that the Congress is now denying was killing of vets? The story was that LNN didn't research the story enough and discredited themselves." Lois started turning redder in anger about working in the same media world that was reporting painful news that could be true.
"That is the problem my dear. There are many imperfections in this world and one is that governments many times work for their benefit. That is the change in Utopia." Lois, running her hands through her hair, started walking in circles.
"Look, just get Clark out of there or placed closer to whatever he has to go through. There's too many things at risk here." Lois was almost in tears. She had seen pictures and read about it, but never envisioned having to worry about it. "I want you to get my husband back as soon as you can. He is not invincible there and you're scaring me."
"I have an idea Mrs. Kent, but you must be patient. I must go now, and you are being paged." Mr. Wells disappeared as fast as he came, pointing all the while in the direction of Clark's mother. She looked over sadly, not to see her son with Lois.
"I see that you are alone." Clark almost jumped out of his pants when the little man appeared. He had not been there more than a day yet but already was grabbing for the M-16 next to him.
"Don't do that and hurry, my father is on watch with me." Clark calmed down.
"That's excellent. I think I have thought of a way for Lois to be here."
"That's great. I have some kind of leave next weekend. They're sending all of us to Singapore from what I heard. Could you take this to her for me? And get out of here." Mr. Wells looked at Clark differently. The man who was Superman suddenly came across very rough.
"I will. And I will see you soon." Mr. Wells faded into the background as Clark sat back. As he sat still, he had never felt so much pain run through his body. From the waist down he felt completely numb. Looking over he could see the sun coming up in the East.
"What are you sighing about?" Jonathon returned, sitting down and lighting up a cigarette. Clark was taken aback by his father smoking but figured it was part of the war.
"Just tired of staring into the dark. It's boring," Clark answered as another man came and sat down across from them and lit a cigarette. The three sat silent for a few seconds until **CRACCKK** was heard nearby. Looking over, Clark and Jonathon saw right after the gunshot, their other man's head seemed to explode and his lifeless body fell to the ground. Everybody in the vicinity hit the ground and began to open fire. All Clark could do was say a quick prayer and be happy he didn't have superhearing. Suddenly, Jonathon jumped and ran.
"Village half a click ahead that way. Go.!" Following behind, the group brought up the rear where his father was leading through the trail. "Dorothy, get up here!" Clark heard and started running up to the front and hit the ground by his dad. "Dorothy. B Team flank left. See that stump — you lie there and wait for my signal to mow that hut down. A Team — come with me." The squad leader took the others further up the trail, and Clark got down to aim at the hut. Clark waited for a little longer, wondering what his signal was.
As if on cue, an explosion went off right next to two people behind the sandbags. Looking over, he could see one that was blown in two. Then, gunfire erupted all around him and saw people running through the camp, firing into the bushes around them. He noticed the people had no uniforms and were shooting at random. He saw a few fall to the ground and cry out in gibberish. Things around him seemed to move in slow motion as he saw A Team up ahead aiming toward the hut he was aimed at.
*** CRACK CRACK CRACK***
Clark looked up and saw three people in the A Team fall, including his father. "NO!!!" Clark screamed as he sat up and took aim at the hut and started firing the machine gun randomly. The world seemed to fall silent as a feeling Clark had never known before ran through his body. Clark approached the hut and with his regained power and kicked the door wide open. Not comprehending his actions, he suddenly filled the hut with machine gun fire. Turning around, he could hear the gibberish of the enemy. Firing in the direction of the voices, he saw three men dressed in black pajamas fall to the ground. Running out of the hut, he saw four others were on fire and other men were leaving the area. Pointing the gun in their direction, he released another round of bullets and watched the men fall one by one. Before finishing the last one off, he dropped the hot empty gun and started running. Jumping on the man, he drew his knife from his side and slammed it into the man's back. Turning the man over, the little Viet Cong pulled a machete and threw it against Clark. Cutting Clark in the upper arm, Clark pulled the knife out and drove it into the man's neck. Pulling out the knife for the last time, Clark wiped it down, hit the man one last time, and then stopped cold, hearing "Cease Fire." Looking around, he saw men in green emerge from the bush and walk back toward the little fire ravaged village. Putting the knife back in its case, he headed to the hut to pick up his gun. There in the hut, he saw four black dressed men, three women and four children, one with a gun in his hand. He kicked the men around a little to look over their bloodied, riddled bodies lying on the floor. Leaving the hut, he turned and stared and headed toward the rest of the group.
"Oh my God! I have never seen anything like that!" One of the squad boys yelled. "That was incredible!"
Clark suddenly noticed he was the attention of everyone as they headed his direction. Approaching him, Snake gave him a tight punch in the shoulder, "and the way you took that Cong down. It was like you were some Super human or something."
Clark looked at Snake strangely as Sgt. Kent approached. "Look there, I guess you made it, huh, man?!" Clark looked at his father at his hand and even bloodier shoulder. Clark suddenly snapped back to reality and realized that was the scar his father never talked about. Slapping Clark on the back, Kent announced to his group, "Well, I think Dorothy has earned his new name. By the powers invested in me by Uncle Sam, I now christen thee Superman — Destroyer of Huts."
"HOOHAAH!!" The men shouted again.
"You better get that arm looked at, you're still not invincible." Clark looked at his arm to see a cut in his uniform that was tinted red. "But my powers," Clark thought to himself, confused. Walking back to their equipment, Clark heard the distinctive sound of the US Army choppers approaching.
"Gather up the stuff; our rides are on the way. That was some show private," Jonathon commented to Clark, "You'll make your momma proud; let's get you back and cleaned up."
Lois walked out of the room again to see Mr. Wells back. "He said to give this to you." He handed Lois the dirty envelope as she sat down in the in the waiting room. He tried to stay back while she read.
Dearest Lois, I've been here almost six hours now, sitting in the mud and hoping it would stop raining. I have come to the conclusion that my father was a completely different person before I knew him and I think I may even change some. That scares me. How is my father there? He seemed so interested in this damn war, beating the Viet cong. I never pictured my parents going through any sort of ordeal like this. And I thought I was hard to live with. I miss you desperately, and Kelly. Please kiss her every night for me. You should see me Lois; no bright colors anymore — even my face is painted an awful green and black. This place is more awful than the media was ever able to make it. In six hours, it's rained 5. I had this bizarre lunch in plastic a couple of hours ago. We did have a small attack here though, lasted only a few minutes. Some guy in the lookout heard a shot fired and it turned into the tennis match with bullets. I've never shot a gun before; it was strange. It blew me back against the bunker wall the first time and now my shoulder hurts. Anyway, you could see where the bullets were leaving the guns for a few minutes until cease-fire was called. We were shooting at other Americans, and we could have killed them. This is the weirdest thing I have ever been through. At least the only thing blown to bits was the grass above our heads. I'm ok though. Just been inducted into real life I suppose. Well, my watch is almost over and I get to sleep a bit. Tell everyone I'm ok. Lois, I love you and I'll get out of here and back to you as soon as I can. Kiss Kelly and my parents for me. See you soon Honey. Love Always, Clark
"Oh god. He sounds miserable. I want to see him." Lois turned to Mr. Wells with tears in her eyes as Martha watched from across the ICU.
"You will, in good time. He has a leave coming up soon dear, but he will be very busy until that day next week. You must trust that he is doing what he thinks is right for you, Kelly, and his family." Lois continued to cry as Mr. Wells tried to convince her that everything was for the best.
"Clark, wake up. We have the later breakfast and got to be there in five." Clark rolled over to see his father staring at him and feeling he was still drenched. If it wasn't his luck that their tent had sprung a leak the night before.
"I'm freezing." Clark sat up and looked for his coat.
"You won't be when you get out in the sun. Let's go." Clark stood up, trying to focus better and followed his father and several other men to the chow hall. Sitting down, Clark suddenly woke up when he looked at the meal. All white, no color in the food at all.
"Hey Jorel…you never see Army food before? How'd the hell you get here anyway?"
"Long story. I just thought it would be different, Briggs." Clark was surprised he remembered anyone's name. It was hard for him to eat; his right arm was still pulsating with the pain from the firefight the day before. The group of kids that had volunteered to throw themselves in this situation sat around Clark as they tried to swallow what was on the plate. Suddenly, yelling began from outside the chow tent.
A cook came around the kitchen and ran out the door. "We've got incoming. Let's go." The whole group woke up and started for the door as a whizzing sound came over their head. Clark had heard that sound before and grabbed Jonathon.
"DON'T MOVE!! STAY HERE!!" Clark hollered over the noise at the other guys that had been sitting with him as his father even tried to pull away. "GET DOWN!!" The other guys didn't listen and ran out the back door toward the bunkers while Clark held Jonathon down inside the tent. Seconds later the blast came with their faces in the dirt inside the tent.
"What are you doing, Jorel?" Jonathon sounded angry that he was missing the fight.
"Shut up." Clark was mad that his father couldn't see he was being saved.
"Let go of me, Jorel. You are in direct violation. That may have been my time — those were my men!" Jonathon pushed Clark off of him and moved across the ground toward the tent opening. Clark hurried behind him trying to stay out of his way. When the attacks stopped, Clark and Jonathon could hear cries coming from the direction the guys had run before. Moving toward the door, an officer stopped them.
"Are you sure you want to go out this way. The medics are doing the best they can to remove the bodies. We need help relocating the main communications and barracks areas. And new trenches need to be dug." The officer decided that during his speech that Jonathon and Clark deserved a peek. Clark lost his footing for a moment after seeing the carnage. Jonathon turned to Clark.
"What the hell was that act of bravery? Those are my men out there lying dead and with any brave bone in my body, I would have died with them. You may be super but do not ever violate orders of a superior again. You got it?" Clark stopped short and quickly answered.
Seeing Clark's face, Kent softened, "You can't save everyone. Now get out and start preparing more trenches for the next mortar attack. I'll see you later." Clark saw his father walk away angry, cussing as he walked through the canopy with the officer that had walked in. Clark started out of the tent and saw someone point at his leg.
"Man, you asking for your leg to fall off where you can leave this place or sumthin'?"
Clark looked down where the captain had been pointing. He had been hit also; he finally started to feel the pain. He continued over to the medical tent and leaned against the door pole.
"I was told to come here before working the trenches." A young blond woman pointed to a cot and put gloves on. Smiling at him, Clark could see she was laying him down on the table with unusual care.
"What is it?" Clark winced as she dug around in the gash for any traces of metal. She could see him in pain and tried to smile as he grabbed the cot harder. Sitting up, he bit his lip.
"Part of a plate. Shrapnel. Nothing serious — you were lucky. VC got three kills out of that one." She could feel Clark twitch as she pulled the metal out, leaving a deep cut in the back of his thigh. "Here, just lie down on your stomach." Clark did as he was told and wondered what was coming next.
"What's wrong?" he asked almost frightened.
"Nothing, we just have to sew it up where it won't be infected." The little nurse gave him something to bite on and proceeded to stitch his leg up. "Now, try not to stretch it out much. Wrap it up good while you're working in the trenches. Keep pressure on it where it'll stop bleeding." She threw him a bandage and ran back toward the operating room. Clark sat up and felt the gash in his leg and followed the nurse's orders. He returned to his tent to see his first pair of fatigues ruined. He quickly changed, making sure to wrap his wound, and headed to the trenches.
Lois had since gone back to the farm with Martha to pick up some other things and to rest some finally. Martha went into her and Jonathon's bedroom and laid down. She hadn't slept more than three hours in the last three days. Lois made sure that she would get some rest before returning to the hospital.
"Mrs. Kent, Kelly is down for a nap. I was hoping I could drive into town for a little break."
"I'm sorry. Of course; we're staying around here for a little bit if time to rest, so you go on." Lois walked over to Kelly's crib and tucked her in tighter and then laid down on the bed. In plain clothes, Mr. Wells had volunteered to watch over Jonathon for any changes while they went to the house. Lois quickly fell asleep thinking about Clark. Just a week earlier, he had been helping Kelly sit up on her own and letting her chew on his hand to cut her teeth. Lois was not upset about missing that part of the parental duties.
"Honey, Kelly's asleep."
"Clark, but you know not for long."
"But I think we need some time for each other right about now." Clark led her away from the nursery and into the bedroom, where he carried her to the bed. He could feel Lois smile as he put her down and leaned over her.
"It's been awhile." Clark gently pressed a finger over Lois' mouth to tell her to stay quiet as he undid her shirt. Lois trembled, not remembering the feeling of being touched. She closed her eyes as he kissed her down inside her neck and down as the shirt was undone. She felt him shake when she touched him; the feeling was still there after two years. "I can't…" Clark and Lois erupted in quiet laughter when Lois got caught on Clark's belt but recovered when Clark pulled his clothes off without any worries. Lois giggled but was interrupted by his kiss locking to her lips.
"Do you want, you know…Clark?" Lois was serious but Clark wasn't paying attention. Looking up from her chest, he gave her a definite stare.
"Not this time; there's only one way to prove a doctor wrong." He moved her hands around and pulled the sheets up. Lois closed her eyes again and felt her heart race. She felt Clark's back and was almost thrown that he was sweating this time. More human everyday, she thought to herself before he pulled her back in. She could hear herself gasp in surprise and Clark slowing down and then speeding up again.
"Don't ever leave me. I love you," she whispered as he looked at her, smiling. Putting his hand on the back of her head, he brushed her hair out of her face.
"I love you, Lois. Never again."
Reaching up to touch Clark's face, he vanished. Lois woke up sweating.
"It was a dream. He's gone. Oh god. He's gone." Lois couldn't hear herself but Martha raced in to calm her down. "He's gone. He left me."
"But he's doing something no one else could." Lois stood up and looked at Martha.
"YEAH AND FOR WHAT? WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE SOMEDAY. I COULD DIE TOMORROW AND HE WOULDN'T KNOW BECAUSE HE'S TOO WORRIED ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED YEARS AGO! I AM TIRED OF ALL THIS..THIS…'I HAVE TO BE A SUPERHERO IN EVERY TIME.' I WANT MY HUSBAND BACK HERE!!!" Lois stormed out of the bedroom and past Kelly, who was now crying for anyone. Martha picked up Kelly and bounced her quietly.
"I want him back too, Lois; he's also my son." Martha said to herself.
Clark sat down for a quick drink after digging the trenches for the last several hours. Jonathon had since joined him in the last few minutes but was quickly replaced by a younger kid. It was still raining and hot. Clark had never understood why people were so bothered by the heat but was beginning to understand more and more everyday.
"You new?" The young man next to him asked.
"Yesterday new. My name's Clark, how about you?"
"Ben, I came in last month. This place is almost ridiculous. Auughh, and the bugs." The young man picked another slimy something off his chest.
"They're actually anoles, but after seeing hundreds, they can get annoying." The two men traded smiles and continued digging. Clark took his rest and moved back into a tent to eat his latest no taste meal.
"Sorry to disturb your dinner." Clark jumped when he noticed it was Mr. Wells. "Lois wanted me to give this to you. She caught me at the hospital and told me it was important." Clark looked at the envelope as Mr. Wells disappeared again. He started reading the note written, he could tell, by shaky hands.
Clark, I have really tried to calm down and tried to be patient writing to you, but I can't. I can't handle the fact that you have put your life on the line and have ignored everything sacred to you. I am your wife. You have a daughter. And still you go off and try to solve a problem that has naturally occurred to thousands of soldiers. You could die. I don't want to hear about your stupid rains and any more mess about lizards and food and violence. Just come home. I beg you. I am a strong woman, Clark, but I can't continue to stare at our daughter and not cry. I'm going back to work next week. The doctors told your mother that your father has just about two weeks left, if he takes the life support. She said there was no need to stay and submit Kelly to this. So, if you plan on seeing your father before his death and me before I leave, come back home. Your wife
Clark sat back and stared at the letter for a moment. He was confused like never before. Reading it again, he wondered what was really happening back in the present day. He felt good about himself that he was helping out the country at the same time getting to know his father from the past but at a loss for Lois. He whispered to himself the last line of the letter over and over. Was Lois leaving him over this? Clark thought back and realized he had never really heard Lois out. Maybe she was serious. He looked back at the letter that was now smudged. With the sudden realization she could be telling him it was the end, Clark started crying. And the rain kept falling.
Clark woke up to gunshots and immediately grabbed for his gun, but it stopped before he was set up. He looked over and saw his father next to him. "It's horrible today…" Clark nodded. "I didn't want to wake you, but we have a form up in ten." Jonathon struck him on the back and took back off to the barracks. Clark figured he could change; the sun had come out again and the mud had turned to crust all over his second uniform. Laundry was going to be a major task on his R&R trip to Singapore. He remembered he had to pick up his pass too.
"Private Jorel, follow me." Clark stopped and nodded.
"But I need to clean up a little and…" He knew that he shouldn't speak with the stare he got back from the other private.
"Stand here." Clark stood where he was told and watched the other little man leave. A few minutes later, all the camp seemed to arrive and Clark saw the officers of the camp approach him. Clark took a deep breath.
"Private Jorel, I am Lt. Casper. I heard what you did yesterday during the mess and although Kent is somewhat miffed at his chance to gain something, I feel you had the courage to see when something was going wrong. I think you ought to have a few days of no labor before things get bad. We're sending you to Singapore, yes, but you will be returning to another group." Clark's head was spinning but he followed the man into his tent, which was neatly arranged with all the equipment. The man scurried around and handed Clark several things. "Here's your map, your codes, and ammunition chart. Take these and learn these over the weekend while in Singapore. And your pass." Clark looked at the pass.
"What group would that be?" Clark took all the things that the officer was handing him.
"A Team — I know Kent will get used to the idea that you move up — he's just getting on and doesn't know his time here is almost up. You are being briefed for his spot. He leaves in three weeks, you'll be in his place."
"It's a good wise position. You watch his moves, his thoughts — you'll get the idea. Now, have a nice trip. The chopper is waiting for you. Get your gear together and take off." Clark smiled and took off to his tent. When he got there his father was packing his clean laundry up.
"Have a good time; now that you're one of us, kiss the trips goodbye." Clark smiled. He was still hurt by Lois and his father feeling betrayed by him. Either way, Clark felt he was still in the right place.
"I'll see you Tuesday. You stay safe." Clark patted him on the back as his father nodded back to him.
At the same time, Lois was back at the farm again. Mr. Wells was with here.
"Lois dear, you must stop this packing right now. I have an idea. I read your letter and I think you may be taking this the wrong way, dear. Ms. Fairchild is a fine nanny and can be trusted. I think you should come with me. Take this." H.G. handed her a key and pressed the controls to the time machine before she could speak. Lois was screaming as she floated through the empty space. Moments later, she landed on her feet; or so she thought.
"Where are we; It's all wet." Mr. Wells nodded affirmatively.
"We are here. Clark will be here in a few hours, and you, you are the call girl that his buddies in his group have arranged. You see the way in this frightful place is for the boys to have fun during R&R, whether they are married or not. I arranged that you would be his fun." Lois looked down at herself. Dressed in a tight brown dress cut to the thigh, Lois huffed.
"Get me out of here."
"No my dear, it's for the best." H.G. guided Lois to a dingy little room with an almost bare bed and dresser. "Lois, you need to give him a chance. I understand your anger but you must see what he is going through. He would do the same for you — he has done the same for you." And with that, the little man left Lois in the dark room and took the key. Lois walked around and sat down on the bed carefully. Little did she know that a chopper was landing on the other side of the city.
"Hi, Clark Jorel. I was told to check in here." Clark looked around at the bar that doubled as a hotel check in. The man across the bar handed him a beer and pointed another man out that had a key in his hand.
"You are the luckiest SOB alive. Have a good weekend." Clark looked at the man funny and went on to his room, not thinking anything of it. Opening the door, he heard a slight shudder and voice in the corner.
"Who's there?" He saw someone light a match and walk toward him.
"They said that you soldier boys enjoy company." Lois stayed in the dark to hide herself and her voice. She hoped that he wouldn't take the bait.
"I think they were wrong. I'm married." Clark sat his bags and the beer down and headed toward the woman. He squinted to see when the woman blew out the match, and she rubbed her fingers across his neck. Clark grabbed her wrist and spun her around, "I said I was married."
"Ouch. I know you are." Clark felt the woman pull away and turn on the light. "You're married to me."
Clark turned and saw Lois standing in front of him.
"Lois, I thought you…" Clark was speechless looking at Lois all decked out like a common call girl, more so because of the irony of her visiting after the letter.
"I haven't changed my mind yet. This was you know who's idea. This Utopia thing keeps putting us together regardless of whatever is in the way. I'm still mad at you." Ignoring Lois, he took her in his arms. Evidently, Lois and Wells never discussed the letter she had sent to him.
"I'm sorry, Lois. I love you." Ignoring him, Lois pulled away from Clark's sudden grasp of her. Clark could tell her visit was forced and she had no intention on forgiving him that easily.
"We might as well light these and try to get something nice going here before we rip into each other." Lois pulled out another match and lit the red candle. She suddenly saw the candle fly across the room as Clark grabbed the wick and screamed. "What did you do that for?" Lois was confused.
Clark went and picked up the candle and put it up to the window light. Cracking the candle open, he poured out the black powder on the floor. "Talk about us having a blow up? Here's a new definition. Lois, it's gunpowder — enough to blow us into the next block. Try the white one instead." Lois was shocked by how abrasive Clark had become in a few days, but was pleased that he had learned how to use his senses without his powers. Lois lit the candle and sat it on the bare dresser that was across the room from the bed. The rooms at the motel were definitely made up for seedy pleasures and had no intention to be used for family outings.
"How are my parents? My father?" Clark ran his fingers along the dresser in the room.
"You're father is still hurting. I hope whatever is wrong you can fix soon." Lois got more quiet as she finished the sentence. Clark could tell she wasn't there to talk about his family. "Are you ok?" Lois looked over at Clark pacing on the floor, looking at his hand. Without answering, he shook his head and waved her off. He sat down in the chair and looked across at her.
"You've changed." She glanced at Clark from across the room. He was sitting comfortably in the chair near the window. The candle gave enough light off for Lois to tell he was upset. Rarely had they ever stood so far apart.
"Have I? Do tell; I'm very interested in what you think. I'm listening." Clark continued to sit stone like with his arms crossed. Lois knew when she pulled away after him saying he loved her set him off. She moved slowly toward her husband.
"You're more serious. Cold." She pulled the other chair up to the opposite of the little table between them. Clark sat and watched, with no emotion. "You've never been quite like this. The last time you looked at me like that was when I had the editor's job."
With pursed lips, Clark folded his arms in front of him, "Maybe that's the last time I felt like this." Lois thought he had just scored one for himself.
"OK, maybe I shouldn't have said that; we weren't going to talk about that." She reached across the table for Clark. He decided the picture above the bed was a better fixation. "I think we need to talk."
"So talk. You moved out yet?" Not changing his stare, Clark played the game along side Lois.
Lois stood up and stood in front of Clark. "That hurt. You don't have to be so callous." She saw Clark's eyes move around to her direction, his lips still tightly pressed together.
"Me? Me? Callous? I don't recall being the one who wrote the Dear John letter and sent it without any warning!" Clark stood up throwing the chair back against the wall and put his hand under the table. Lois nearly jumped out of her skin when the little table between them suddenly flew across the room. "What in the hell gives you the right to think I'm the one treating you cold?!"
Lois turned her cheek to the side, waiting for a physical response. Clark had never raised his voice at her before, much less a hand, but now Lois wasn't so sure. Softly she whispered, not looking at him, "You're hurting me."
Clark looked down at his grip on Lois' wrist and immediately let go and collapsed on the floor in tears. "What have I done?" He could feel Lois kneel down next to him and take his hands. He looked at her wrist that had turned red. He rubbed his fingers across it as she pulled it away.
"I'm ok. It doesn't hurt, really."
Clark quickly turned to face her, "I wouldn't have hit you; I'm sorry."
"I know; we just need to talk about some things. Let's just set up the table and chairs again and sit down." Clark shook his head and started across the room to pick up the table. Glancing over at Lois, she was still rubbing her wrist. He wished he could tell if he had really hurt her. "Sit down Clark." Sitting down, he couldn't look at anything but her wrist. "Clark, I'll be ok. But I'm worried about you, us. I wrote that letter after a real disturbing dream I had. It was a fit of rage and I should have never sent it."
"No, I'm glad I know how you really feel… And I have changed, I can even tell. Let me see this." Lois carefully held out her arm and let him gently feel for what was wrong. "I think I sprained it." He let go her and slid his hands in his lap.
"I am worried about your time here though. Wells never discussed how the emotional strain here would figure in to your return. But more importantly, I'm worried about us and Kelly." Clark looked up in a panic. "She's ok, but I can tell she misses you. She doesn't eat for Ms. Fairchild or me like she did for you. She doesn't sleep through the night. I can't exactly rock the entire bed like you do."
She looked over at Clark who had his head turned with his eyes closed. Lois reached for him and he turned, his face once again filled with tears. "And what about you," Clark asked in an almost inaudible whisper.
"I'm going out of my mind. The bed is cold every night; the nights that I can even get to bed. Mostly, I sit in the living room of your parents' house and stare at the pictures, when I'm not at the hospital. You father is getting worse by the days. He shakes all the time now. They had to stop the oral feedings because it has become too messy. Clark, his time is close."
"Well, at this end of things, I lost control yesterday. Someone took a shot at dad. Lois, I killed a person." Clark covered his face with his hands and waited for an answer from Lois.
"It's the war. Wells said it could change you."
"But I killed ten or so. It's frightening. I'm scared of myself. I want to go home." Lois and Clark met in stares across the table.
"But," Lois knew it was coming.
"It's only a few more days; we're so close. I promise I'll be back after that." Lois nodded and decided that she could take a backseat a few more days. For the next few moments, the silence could have been cut. Both looked opposite direction, still knowing the large rift between them. "I love you Lois; I really do."
Still not looking in his direction, Lois whispered, "I know." Clark waited to hear more but nothing came.
"Do you still love me, Lois?" Clark waited for a moment and then turned toward her. "Lois?"
"It's just really hard; after all we've been through, I…"
"Don't finish that sentence." Clark flashed a look at the ceiling, wishing he could fly away. He touched her good hand. "Make love to me, Lois. I need you."
"It won't solve our problems." Lois looked over at her husband, still in his army issues, and halfway smiled. "But it might make us feel better." For the first time that day, Clark cracked a small smile, just so slight and kissed her hand. She pulled away and walked over to a bag that had accidentally ended up in the time transfer. "I remember that this was with me. It's something new that we both would like." Clark watched curiously as she reached over and locked the door, took a box out of the bag, and disappeared with the bag into bathroom.
Clark pulled the covers off the bed and made sure there were no traps in it. Removing his boots, socks, and jacket, he threw them on the table and looked at the box on the dresser, turning it on. He laughed when he remembered that Lois would never go anywhere without her player now. Turning around, Lois stood in the doorway of the dingy bathroom in the silk nightgown he had gotten her on their two year anniversary just a few weeks ago. Clark moved toward Lois speechless and placed his hands on her chest and moved them along her hips.
"It amazing all the things that I packed when I was going to leave you. I guess it's hard to let go of people you care about so much." Her words stopped when his lips touched hers. He could feel the tears start as he picked her up. Carefully, Clark lifted her arm around his neck and put her gently on the bed and moved in beside her.
"Clark, what happened?" Lois ran her hand along the scar on his arm and leg as he put his arms around her.
"It doesn't hurt, don't think about that."
Clark pulled the shoulders down on the gown and kissed her shoulders. He had learned over the last year that Lois truly loved his lips there, while his hands worked on rubbing her chest. Looking up, he could see she had stopped crying and had found grips on the bed rail. He shook his head after seeing her wrist still swelling but continued and felt her tighten her grip of her legs around his hips. Never having done it without his powers, he had never felt so much ecstasy. Now he knew how Lois felt.
Lying down beside Lois, Clark wiped his face with the sheet. Drenched in sweat, Lois rubbed his wet head. "So how's it different being human?" She felt a hand rub down the side of her face like so many times before.
"More tiring and much more exhilarating." He turned toward her. "I love you, Lois." He brushed her hair out of her face as she fell asleep. Wrapping her tighter in his arms, he listened to the music and fell asleep next to her.
Lois and Clark spent much of the next two days in bed, resting. Lois had evidently been very worn from the lack of sleep the last few weeks and the same for Clark. But each with the other's company proved worthwhile for rest.
"You sure you have to go back now?" Lois asked reverently as Clark came out of the shower and changed to return to work. Clark moved closer to kiss her on the shoulder as she continued to pack her things.
"Look, the sooner I get back — the better off I'll be — we'll be." Clark threw his sacks next to the door and took Lois in his arms. "A week or so more — that's it."
"Take me with you."
"No way — not out there. Lois, this is NOTHING like you have ever seen in your life—aliens, interplanetary war, clones—this beats it all. I would rather have everything we went through for the last five years to happen again instead of taking you out there." He put Lois down and headed out the door with her following behind. "You meet back up with Wells, go home and take care of Kelly. Give me a little more time. I think we have patched up things for good right now. I just need faith right now." He could see Lois stop in her tracks and set her bags down.
"I'll wait for you." Clark went back quickly and kissed his wife. "I love you, Clark."
Walking away, he smiled back at her. Looking down, she could feel her feet sinking and wondered if she was leaving too. Looking back up, she saw Clark running through the people in the street, headed who knew where. Lois waited for a few moments and noticed nothing was happening to her as she waited for Mr. Wells to show up.
Looking around, Clark could feel the wind get harder as the chopper came down on the small patch of grass after a few minutes. Several other men met up with Clark at the landing pad, waiting for the same transport.
"Man, you look like you got a lot of rest." Clark turned and looked at the little boy who seemed laughing at Clark. "And you smell good; she must have been good."
"Yeah," Clark halfway remarked as he threw his gear in the chopper. The young man looked upset as Clark blew him off and sat as far as he could away from the kid. Looking out the side of the chopper, Clark could barely see where he had left Lois and tried to picture her still standing there and sighed.
Meanwhile, Lois decided to check out this little foreign town she had been stuck in. Mr. Wells seemed to always find them in the past regardless; she figured he would again. Walking around town, women kept approaching, speaking in gibberish and showing her strange pieces of cloth. Waving them off, Lois continued with her bags through town. Stopping suddenly, she saw something that she thought was familiar BNN: the beginnings of LNN.
"Hey!! Are you the new correspondent? We have been looking for you all over town!! Come on, our flight is about to leave. Harry will get your bags we're supposed to be gone right now." The little white haired man pushed Lois in the direction of a rickety looking plane.
"You expect me to get on that?! Wait, I'm not the correspondent." Lois protested as they pushed her into the plane and threw her things into the back.
"Look, Ms. Harper, I know this assignment sucks, especially with the military hating us already, but you got assigned. You get a lot of awards for this later anyway- or die trying. Buckle up." Lois' head was swimming with thoughts of stories and chances and then remembered she wasn't supposed to be there.
"Look, how about oldy there go." Lois pointed at he old man that pushed her on the plane.
"Harold, he got Korea they want youngins in the field." Lois gasped.
"Youngins in the field?"
"You know people that can take the in-the-middle-of-battle interviews. Live gruesome TV the new thing and in color this war!! By the way, I'm Frank the cameraman." Lois shook his hand and smiled nervously.
"Frank, you have a bag or something?" Lois leaned against the edge of the seat.
"Huh? Oh, here. Don't fly in these much?" Lois gave Frank a dirty look.
"How about never," Lois replied before losing all the breakfast that she and Clark had a few hours earlier.
"Sit back and get some rest, Ms. Harper, the next few days is going to be hell." Lois leaned back and closed her eyes. 'I already thought I was there when I got to this hole,' she thought as she continued to block out the feeling of the plane and yelling of the other passengers.
Clark woke abruptly when the chopper made another hard landing, but this time the chopper was shut down. Looking around, he followed suit with unloading the gear from the chopper and following the other soldiers into a tall patch of grass. There were no trees near to the sight and the ground was incredibly dry in comparison to the places he had been. Seeing all the other troops stopping, he threw the equipment down and laid on the ground. After lying down, the pain of having to move again hit him hard in the legs, causing him to stumble. It seemed hours before they arrived at what he thought was supposed to be a new base. He had arrived at Khanh Duong.
Other soldiers had already arrived and the Lt. Casper from the last base ran out to meet him. "Your ride ok?"
"Yeah, just a little shaky," Clark replied as he followed Casper to a small tent that had been set up.
"This is yours. You have the ammunition and this file for your reading. We're walking tomorrow, so have your troops ready to go." This man was serious; he was in charge. Clark had no idea how or what to do.
"I…have no idea what to do here," Clark shakily replied as he leafed through the reading material.
"None of us do. That's the fun part. Survey team is here and is going to try to turn this weed patch into a base. Get your sunscreen on and come help us. You have time to read that tonight." Clark rubbed his hands through his hair and squeezed his head. As he left the tent, a thought crossed his mind, where was his father?
Returning to the hospital, Mr. Wells felt somewhat worried about the news he had. Running into Martha in the cafeteria, he became more nervous. Sitting down across from her, he took a deep breath.
"Mrs. Kent, I may have myself in a bit of a spot." Martha looked up at him.
"What are you going to say now?" Martha had become more restless and more tense than she had been in the past. The once soft woman seemed to make nervous, smart remarks. "I'm sorry, what happened?"
"Clark is in the place he needs to be, but I seemed to have lost Lois. She seems to have taken off. I am afraid she was mistaken for a female reporter that is going into the bush. The good news is that she will be with Clark by next week. Albeit a surprise for him." Mr. Wells looked at Martha to see what her reaction would be.
"Sounds like the perfect end to this whole mess. Jonathon isn't getting any better and now my children are both trapped in another world that neither one of them has ever known before. I've heard of tough places to be in, but me being a mother and a wife right now." Martha sat quiet for a moment before looking across the table at Mr. Wells. Taking his hand in hers, she spoke softly, "You bring them back."
Martha got up from the table and walked back into the waiting room and onto Jonathon's room. Mr. Wells followed her quietly and watched as Martha went and sat down by her husband.
She spoke quietly to Jonathon as Mr. Wells watched. "Jonathon, Clark is fine and Lois is going to be with him. It's almost over. They are going to find out what happened to put you here. Everything is going to be reversed where we won't remember that we were here." Jonathon squeezed her hand slightly where she knew he understood. To him, the details were sketchy but he knew something was happening to help him get better. Martha was somewhat happy that Jonathon was not to worried.
Mr. Wells decided it was time to find the two that always seem to hide from him in the other worlds.
Lois tried to tighten her seatbelt tighter as she cringed at the kid named Frank and the little Vietnamese man that was to be the translator. She couldn't imagine the story that Frank had told her earlier on their ride. She was to be one of the first journalists going into the action. Lois Lane as another person rubbing shoulders with Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather. They may be from other networks that seem a world away from Metropolis, but they were famous.
"Ms. Harper, we're here. You might want to try those boots over there. Just put them over your own shoes. When we set up, we'll get you in some better clothes for the field. We're joining up with a group from the Khanh Duong." Lois looked at Frank strangely while jumping out of the chopper.
'This place is completely different than the other place,' Lois thought to herself. Even with the neck high weeds, she still could feel sand biting at her legs and blowing in the wind. She faded back to hear Frank still prattling on about the camp.
"This is the shower. You get a bottle from here and attach it like so — like an IV bag. You get one a day so plan on it at the end. That's the ration tent. You eat there. But this is only until the troops meet up with us. They're working up to Nah Trang. We're packing up and going with them."
"Excuse me, Frank. Just a minute. You're telling me that we are in the middle of nowhere having to fight for our own lives right now and then we're supposed to meet up with a bunch of guys…"
"Grunts, they're called grunts."
"Grunts, ok, we're supposed to meet them here and march to the next place that they will be building camp?" She was having to run to just keep up with Frank, who disappeared into another tent and pushed her out.
"Yes, now go back to your tent and change where you won't die of heat stroke. By the way, don't disturb our South Vietnam friends helping us — they could turn on us." He couldn't see but Frank could almost feel the dirty looks and mocking he was getting from his prim and proper newswoman.
Walking out to the meeting area, Clark met up with his group and noticed his dad seemed distant. It hurt him that he had changed history. His father had never won any medals and never even mentioned that he led a squadron. Taking a big breath, Clark looked around, "I am Sgt. Jorel and been put in charge of this squadron. Our job has been laid out to clear mines and burn villages to Nah Trang. We start tomorrow, so get packed up tonight and have all your defenses cleaned and ready to go."
The group started to disperse and Clark headed to his tent behind Lt. Casper. Casper seemed to have been pleased with Clark's apparent grasp of giving orders although Clark wasn't so sure of himself. More tired than he had been in days, Clark went in to sleep. Three hours wouldn't be much but something.
Within hours, he was up again packing up the camp he had just arrived at. The platoon trudged slowly through the rice patties and weeds until sun up. The VC obviously liked to fight in the daylight. Hitting the ground, both waves of the platoon pulled guns and waited for the count. Clark closed his eyes and directed one wave northeast and the other to hang back. From the Southern edge whirring fire from AK47's started right above the weeds they laid in. Clark felt more scared than ever. This was the largest group he had come in contact with, this VC was out for blood.
"GIVE ME THAT!!" Clark grabbed his shadows phone and called back, "WE NEED RAIN…I SAID RAIN!!! OUR COORDINATES ARE …" Clark handed the phone back to the shadow as he read their coordinates. He signaled two of the grenadiers to cut off escape routes into the jungle as he moved up to the front line. He felt he belonged there with his dad in case this was the moment one of them would be killed. Clark fell deeper into the ground as the first grenade went off with blinding power and then another and another. After a few minutes the bullets seemed to silence as the VC were seen running into the trees. Calling them back up, Clark led his platoon into a barrage of gunfire, shooting randomly into the trees. Clark noticed bodies dropping in the woods and called the shooting off, but the men were angry. Most ran to the VC dead and collected their ears or dragged them back to camp for interrogation.
The rest of the week's walk tended to be calmer. Everyone was so tired of walking by the end of the week, Clark wondered if he could somehow keep their enthusiasm up. News from the front at Nah Trang was the media had arrived, and they were the group to be on TV. Announcing this, the men got excited that wives and girlfriends would see them.
"May I come in?" Jonathon stood outside Clark's crude tent.
"Sure. What's up?" He couldn't believe that his father was afraid to speak to him as a person.
"I just wanted to tell you that you made some wise decisions and I'm glad that you took over my post. I think I would have lost my cool. I noticed though, you didn't collect any VC prizes."
"I understand killing the enemy, but defacing them is past cruel." Jonathon looked at Clark weird and couldn't believe that this man was considered a good fighter.
"It was a courageous effort though. I was told at the last camp that NahTrang was my last fight before I go home. I feel sorry for the boys that have to stay but it's been a hell of a fight. I just gotta tell you. I really can't believe that a sweet guy like you would leave a Mrs. and come out to a damned place like this."
"If I had known about this place more in depth, I may have skipped out. Actually, I am really here looking for someone.." Jonathon looked at him strangely. "I was told about someone before I came that I was to watch out for. It's personal."
"Well, in that case I'll back off. I hope you find whatever you are looking for." Jonathon left Clark's tent and went back to his tent to sleep.
The next morning was quiet. All the platoon woke to a bright day but humid, almost wet. The men quickly packed up and started off again northeast. Clark had calculated the night before with the navigator that they were within six hours of the destination.
"When the troops arrive, they must immediately set up shop here for a day before we get in their faces. But when we are introduced at chow that night, you all need something prepared and dress like grunts dress. Anything that sticks out could attract enemy fire. We want to see some action but not when we're not prepared."
Lois raised her hand, "So, we're following them into enemy territory because isn't this the heavy artillery group that is joining up to Duc Pho. That's practically crossing the border."
"Yes, and we are going to be there." Lois sat back in her chair stunned. At least Clark was able to defend his life — he had a gun.
Crawling into bed that night, Lois started fearing for her life.
"You are to unpack at the sites saved for our platoon. There is not going to be much space so you must place tent to tent. There you will have the chance to take a brief shower before the meeting the press. Reporter Sharen Harper is covering the story on our Platoon. So, I order you to be gentlemen." Clark heard them all seem to lick their lips at the thought of seeing a woman again. Clark knew this was going to be asking for trouble.
Hours later, the little band turned over the last hill and saw the camp as the men jumped out of formation and ran for the camp. Watching the woods carefully, Clark saw no reason that they could drop guard and take shelter. Throwing up his tent, he visited briefly with the Lieutenant and planned the next day's moves around the media that was assigned to them. The good news was she was a writer and wouldn't be putting them on TV. The troops would be disappointed. Walking back to his tent in the dark, he caught a glimpse of a shadow of a woman. She had her hair tied up in a knot like Lois would do after a shower. With that vision in mind, he felt calm enough to rest, to sleep again after three days.
The next evening came quickly, Clark stuck his head out to see preparations were being made for the introductions of the new media people. Clark gathered to eat with his men at one of the tables before forming up for the introductions.
About an hour later, all the men gathered around a little podium waiting for the anxious glance of a woman. "Gentlemen, we have a treat for you. She doesn't sing or dance, but she is a great writer and a better listener. May I introduce you to Sharen Harper." Clark watched the guys get excited and then heard a lull when a woman came out dressed in fatigues too big for her. Clark looked up and noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
"I am very excited about joining this platoon to cover your activity over the next few weeks. It's such a privilege to get a position like this. I know we will have a lot to share with each other." Clark listened closer and then saw it. The sun hit her face just right, and Clark realized that it was Lois. Clark closed his eyes in anger and shook his head. He couldn't believe the lengths she went to in order to be with him. As she started off stage, he dodged soldiers to get to the stairs.
Grabbing her arm, he calmly remarked, "So, Ms. Harper, how do like your new life here in the weeds?" Lois was about to answer until she looked up.
"Clark? I swear I didn't plan this. I was waiting for Mr. Wells and this guy grabbed me thinking that I was a reporter. Well, I am a reporter, but not this kind of reporter. Anyway, I thought if he's not picking me up I might as well get to see something I haven't." Clark dragged her into the kitchen tent.
"You are way over your head here. This is serious business. I have been at my wits and bodily end on a daily basis. I'm sure whoever you are supposed to be has probably at least read and trained for some of the situations we come to. I know I have told you this stuff before, but this time I AM NOT LYING. YOU GO HOME."
"I can't. I can't blow our entire cover. 'Sorry, I really am not Sharen but someone from the future who came back for my hubby from the future who is really an alien and Kent's son.' They would believe that." Clark started pacing inside the tent with his hands on his head.
Stopping in front of Lois, he took her hands, "I love you. I fear for you being here, but you got in this so we have to stick with it. You just can't let anything about us slip. Anything. And there may be things that happen that are out of the ordinary, but I am here as a soldier and a leader. If you don't like watching it, then don't watch." Lois nodded her head like an obedient child. From the way Clark was talking, things could be really bad. She wanted to hug and caress him, she couldn't compromise their lives. Besides, he smelled like a jungle. Lois watched as he left to get the troops under control and went to her tent, not to reappear until the camp was ready to pack up and move on.
As the sun started coming up, Clark already had risen to join the lieutenant in the mess tent.
"So, what do you think of that Harper woman?" Clark sat down across from him to start eating.
"She's fascinating. I saw her work the last few years and she can really move readers with some of her writing. Why you ask?"
"You think she has seen any action, you know what I mean?" Clark looked at Casper and smiled.
"I have a feeling she has her own action. But I doubt she flew across the ocean to get some action from you, sir." Casper looked up at Clark and acted like the rest of his chow would end up in his lap.
"Jorel, if I didn't know that you had such a good chance at a military career, I would just ignore what you said and let the little lady decide. But you seem to be protective of anything but VC so I'm gonna obey your wishes even though I outrank you, man." Casper got up and slapped Clark on the back before dumping the rest of the food away. Clark watched him as he walked out of the tent and passed Lois coming through the door. Casper winked at Clark and planted his hand right on her ass. Clark saw Lois shoot the man a look from hell as Clark laughed and threw his biscuit across the camp at him. Lois sat down across from Clark and watched as the other news crew filtered in behind her.
"Friendly people you work with." Lois resisted reaching out for Clark's hand.
"Well, they haven't seen much of a woman in several months. Some of them for years."
"Still," Lois replied while trying to eat, "that was a nice way of being told good morning." Clark just laughed and started to leave the table.
"You have about thirty minutes before we start moving on. Get your guys and pack up. I'll be around to get you in the lead group before we start off. Make sure you pack where you can reach your boots and socks in minutes." Clark turned and started out the tent before Lois could put a word out. Clark knew if he had stayed any longer with her something very wrong could have happened between them.
The sun had fully risen in the sky when the troops were completely packed and ready to move on to An Khe. Clark knew to pull his father up close to him in the command row along with Lois. Casper agreed, for no other reason than to have Ms. Harper able to see all the action. Clark worried about the vision of her seeing everything and being involved. Within hours of starting off toward the new camp, Clark stopped the platoon for a rest and read over Lois' shoulder. He could see her face, which usually alive with excitement and wanting the next big story, was clammy and almost a white as she wrote. 'The pain she feels. Why did she do this to herself?' he thought as he read.
'All the way along the highway are little villages and temples, thatched huts. It is forty miles of pure poverty — garbage and other material lying on the streets mixing with thick mud and leftover Vietnamese drinks. It produces a stench not comprehendible to the normal man. Everywhere we walk, little brown kids seem to appear around the equipment wanting food or water, begging with their little hands. Most are naked or have only the use of raingear as their clothing. The children are there running alongside mothers and little bent women who had to balance giant bundles of grass or food. They too were deep in the mud. We never saw any men. Those were reserved for the only other jobs available at the time. Either death or the army. This is real.'
"Sounds good. I mean the best it can considering it's the truth." Lois smiled at her husband, who at this point, had not given one word or thought to being kind to her in the way he usually was. But Lois was starting to understand now what he had been through.
"Thank you. It's hard writing something objective out here. You feel so sorry for some and hatred toward others."
Clark moved away from her and toward Casper and the other troops guarding the press people. "You may learn to hate more than you think. Don't get emotionally involved." Lois looked down at what she wrote and over at Clark as he settled in next to Casper and his father.
"So, what are we doing, this is wasting our valuable time."
"Look, Jorel. This is one of the trickiest roads that have formed since we started this damn war effort for something I really don't get. But I'm an LT. So, I simply follow the orders in front of me. Now the thinking is that good groups of VC are coming up over the ridge for tomorrow and we have the wonderful press to deal with. Jorel, just keep them busy. Let her write her stories of the sad little people. Kent'll keep the ammo loaded to the grunts and we'll get out of this soon. Then back to digging trenches." Clark listened to Casper continue to his mindless orders and understood he was taking Clark away from his father and putting him on the press.
"Look, I think the press can take care of themselves. They volunteered to stick themselves here. I want the troops." Clark looked right at Casper and then over at his father, who shook his head in agreement.
"Anyway, Kent is out of here as soon as we get there. Putting him in charge might confuse matters when we get there." Casper sat back and pulled out a wad of paper stuffed in his pocket.
"Happy trails, Jorel." Casper got up and signed for the troops to continue walking forward. Jorel took his father and the gear and started behind the second sector of the platoon.
Pacing in the waiting room, Martha waited for news from Mr. Wells, who had promised to return with any news. Coming around the corner, she almost ran right into him.
"Mrs. Kent, I have news. Clark and Lois are together. She became mixed up in a horrible accident of mistaken identity. She and Clark are on their way to An Khe. I have really no idea what that means to you or Jonathon, but things are very worrisome now."
Martha looked frighteningly at Mr. Wells who had suddenly become a blank for kind and justly pronounced words. He followed her into Jonathon's room silently. She walked over, put her drink down, and held onto her husband's hand. Jonathon had somehow become better in the last few days that the two had been gone but was not out of the woods.
"Jonathon, where do you believe the accident happened? The one that is causing this pain."
Jonathon seemed to strain and look in the direction of Mr. Wells, knowing he was the one that should be asking. He breathed deeply and whispered something to Martha. She turned around and was about to tell Mr. Wells when Jonathon continued. Mr. Wells waited outside the room until Martha came back almost a half hour later.
"He says An Khe or something like that. He says it's something with his last attack. He's never talked about it, even to me. The last fight before they returned him home to me was evidently something he never wanted to remember. Where is my son?"
Mr. Wells dipped his head and tried to mutter the same name of the village. Martha watched him intently and could read his lips. Suddenly, she felt that of all the times she had been in peril, this time she couldn't take it.
She looked Mr. Wells in the eyes, "You bring my son back with his bride whether you save my husband or not. I can accept the loss of my husband. We have had some great years together, but I will not accept the loss of my son to something like this. This is insane." Martha let go of the little man and walked back into the room with her husband, who had begun coughing again.
Mr. Wells felt compelled to now to finally end the charade that he had voluntarily started. Finally, he had learned that regardless of fantastic books and Utopia, time travel was not the answer to any of the world's questions. Walking down the hall of the hospital, he disappeared suddenly.
"What's going on?" Lois crouched next to Clark as he sat back in a hole waiting for something to break. The camp had only been able to manage half the miles they had planned for the day with the press along. Clark could tell that Lois now was understanding what she was in for.
"The platoon is dying for a good buzz and the village has reams of good Vietnamese drinking water. Daybreak, it's ours." Clark continued cleaning the rifle in front of him and watching over the hill at the other men standing post for the village.
"Do they know we're here?" Lois was intrigued, which worried Clark but not like it would have if she had spoken of danger in Metropolis. She could see that Clark spoke without feeling more and more since she had arrived. She wasn't sure if it was an act or he really felt differently about her now. "What is going to happen?"
"We're burning them. And all runners, anyone that moves. All the browns, all the VC, they're all enemies. You kill them all." Clark stood up and grabbed his gear. Turning around, he pointed the barrel of the rifle toward the village. "Do they know we're here waiting?" He looked at Lois and pointed the gun at her. Lois stopped breathing, she never remembered Clark so callous.
"They know — they know you are here, and that in itself gives them the advantage. So, Sharen Harper, are you ready to die? Because, this time no comic book hero is going to sweep you up to safety." Lois started crying as Clark walked away and into his tent. Later that night, Clark awoke to a whining in a tent near to him. Waking in a sweat, he had been dreaming about his first night with Lois as his wife. He remembered how he had treated her earlier that night and realized he had gone over the line and that after all was said and done, he would return home to Metropolis as Lois' husband. He felt Lois was owed an apology.
Clark went over and over in his mind what exactly he wanted to say as he walked to her tent. He could still hear her whimpering. He moved to open the flap of the tent and stopped.
"So, there's nothing I can do for you? I know this must be hard to be sent out here with all these men and no one to protect you. Jorel has been fairly friendly but pointing a gun at you in order to say goodnight seems out of line." Clark peeked in the tent and saw Casper sitting on the ground next to Lois.
"I'm fine, I just got a little frazzled. I've actually been through worse."
Casper laughed, "I can't really imagine that being possible." Clark caught a glance of Casper's hand pulling her hair back out of her face and handing her a washcloth. Clark filled with rage.
"I have been. I have been chased by mobsters and tracked by assassins. I really have an interesting life."
Clark could hear Casper and Lois both laughing and decided to head back to the tent. He didn't know whether to race in and take on his Lieutenant or let his wife take care of herself. For some reason, he felt that he shouldn't leave. Squatting down outside the tent, he decided to wait. Sitting quietly, he heard the noise die down in the tent.
"You must be really hot in that outfit. I know they told you to dress for the weather."
Lois giggled, "I know, but I always have to try the odds. But I believe you." Standing up, Lois started remove her jacket and boots.
"Let me help you with that. I can be pretty good with getting off a pair of sweaty boots without ripping off the top layer of skin."
"That feels really good. Are you a regular in the foot masseuse." Clark cringed when he heard Lois' moaning at Casper's touching her feet. Clark knew he had to stay in control not to blow either one of their covers. He could barely hear the sounds of more likely Casper kissing Lois, where he didn't want to know. The thing that steamed Clark the most was that Lois didn't sound like she was fighting it.
"No, I know that it is physically hard, especially on a woman, to walk miles and miles in any shoes. That better?"
"Thank you. I think now I just want to crawl into bed and sleep. It's been a very long and strange day." Lois started crawling into the cot and dropping clothes on the floor from underneath the covers. Casper continued to sit on the ground and watch as Lois settled in for the night.
"Well, I guess I should say goodnight and do a little of that myself." Casper reached over and rubbed his hand down Lois' face on more time. Standing up, Casper reached over and wrapped his hand around Lois' head to kiss her.
Suddenly, Clark heard a scream come from the tent and ran inside the tent. Without caring, he grabbed Casper, who had wrapped his legs around her cot to press her down. Casper turned around and hit Clark across the face.
"You are out of line, Jorel."
"Me? When was the last time you allowed any of your men to do this even with the women in the villages. Get the hell out of here and the leave the woman alone."
Casper pulled his shirt back in order and grabbed his hat. "You have a lot of nerve. Now I know who really wants to get in her pants. You're a dead man, Jorel and your career is over here." Casper left the tent bleeding from his nose. Clark turned around and saw Lois sitting up in bed scared out of her mind. Lois immediately got out of bed and headed for the towel hanging on the edge of the portable table.
"You're bleeding," Lois whispered as she touched Clark's lip with the towel.
"I'm really sorry. I knew that I should have been watching better for that." Clark lowered Lois' hand and looked deeply at her. "Also, I am really sorry about earlier tonight. I just got caught up in the whole thing and started talking to you like you were anyone else."
Lois crawled back into bed as Clark held the corner of the towel to his face. "Clark, don't apologize about anything. We're almost done here I think. I have a feeling and we're going to be fine as soon as we get back to our time. This whole thing has been strange for all of us. We just will need a long break after we get back and take care of ourselves."
Clark sat down by her bedside and cradled her in his arms and cried. Lois continued to talk about how much better things would be after they returned until Clark and her both fell asleep.
The next time Lois saw Clark was from a distance as they were still trudging to the next destination. To Lois, she just wanted to be in An Khe because that was to be the end. For her, she just wanted to get out of it alive. Listening to the talk in the morning at chow and during some early interviews in the field, she could tell where the end was definitely going to be the hardest part of the whole tour, even for Clark.
A light rain had just stopped falling and the sun came out again as Lois continued to walk several meters behind Clark. The platoon had slowed up a little knowing that enemy territory was in reach. A crack of AK47 rifles shrieked out of nowhere as Lois hit the ground faster than anyone. Another soldier landed on top of her and pushed her face further into the dirt and screamed for her not to move. She could feel him move away but she never moved.
Machine gun fire ripped through the air as Clark looked around at the men in his platoon. Casper was still not talking to him on a personal basis but was waving off orders for Clark to carry them another direction. Lois could see all the movements of the different men and wondered if she would be left alone. Clark was at the southwest corner of the meeting zone and wondering what had happened. Clark knew what happened the moment the green tracer bullets started streaking through the sky. Clark began slithering across the ground the direction he was pointed. Two Charlies began running out of the woods nearby but were taken down quickly by two of his own. Seeing two of the Charlies down, another dozen started running for the woods. Looking over at Casper, Clark pointed the troops toward the woods.
Clark followed the platoon through the grasses trying to desperately catch up with the leftover VC that must be downed before they sent for help. Not remembering anything about this being the final fight that could possibly be the reason for his father's illness, he ran instinctively after the Charlies without thinking. He looked back and saw his father running ahead. He pulled his father back and pushed forward then felt intense pain hit him.
Lois heard the bullets stop flying and looked up over the grass but still crouched to the ground. Looking out toward the woods, she saw Clark stop and pull his father back and then fall in the grass. Getting up to run, she felt something tug on her leg.
"Don't. He'll be fine." The man from last night that had been so horrible to her was now telling her that she could die if she went for him.
"Clark?" He could hear his name being called but couldn't fathom the person calling to him. Grabbing his leg, Clark could only feel the white-hot flash of pain from the poisoned prong on the punji stake he ran into.
"Take over dammit. I got hit by the stake," Clark pushed his father off of him and told him to keep going.
"No, you go with me. Five other soldiers are off in the direction. We need to get you back to the road where medic can look at you." Clark wrapped his arms around his father as they limped back toward the road. Lois ran out to the grass area and helped Clark and his father back to the medic.
"Clark, are you ok?" Lois leaned over him as Jonathon pulled her away. The medic came over and started to look over him. The rest of the men started returning to the road with news that the gooks were dead and proved it by the number of ears they had collected.
"He'll be ok, Ms. Harper. You need to move away." Lois stepped further back and watched as Clark's eyes started to close. Clark started humming as if he was falling into unconsciousness and could feel himself being slapped harder and harder. Looking up, he could Casper standing over him.
"Being a hero again, sir. Stepped on it without even knowing it. Stupid cherry move." Clark winced in pain as the medic did his best to take the pant leg off and start stitching the wound closed. Lois put her head into Kent's chest, not bearing the blood that seemed to start puddling around her husband's leg. "Get the troops ready to move again. If we don't make the landing strip, all this is for naught."
"Well, you gotta walk for a few more miles. We gonna take a rest here for the moment but we are real close to the objective." Clark shook his head some in affirmation. Lois sat wondering if this was the mistake that might be costing Clark's father's life.
Lois went over and sat down near the grass where it looked like a line of trees had been cut down for it. She had seen everything she wanted to see right there. She didn't need anymore. Her husband was dying from a stupid piece of wood with poison ripping through his leg in a lifetime he shouldn't even had come to.
The day was starting to get darker and Clark's wound was still bleeding bad, but he was now convinced he would walk around in order to get ready for the rest of the night walk. Looking over at Lois, he could see the concern on her face as she sat by herself on the log. A hollowed out log.
"Lois, did you ask anyone if you could sit there?" Lois looked up at him in surprise to hear his voice.
Nodding her head, she smiled, "No, it just looked better than the ground. Why?" She started looking around at her arrangements and realized it wasn't a tree stump she had found. "Clark, what is it?" She started to cry profusely as Clark tried to clam her down.
"Casper, check her out please."
The Lieutenant walked around Lois and then carefully looked in the log's hollowed out space beneath her legs. Looking back at Clark, he shook his head. "She got herself a hot one here."
"What do you mean exactly?"
"Sharen, don't move at all."
"Ok, what is it?"
"It's a cluster bomb. Goes off once the weight is removed. This one is badly placed because we might be able to undo it." Casper called over the two ammunitions experts.
"What happens if it can't be diffused?"
"Then you and one of my munitions experts won't feel any pain of death and the rest of us will get to go back to the US without all of our limbs. Thanks for the great reporting." Casper left the munitions expert there to watch Lois if she moved and smiled at Clark as he passed. "Looks like I should have done her last night. It would have been her last screw. Unless you fit the bill after I left that is."
Clark just looked back at Lois and the white face she was staring back at him with. "Can she try to stand up without moving it?"
The munitions expert looked back at Clark and gave him the dumbest look. "I guess she can try. It's tucked back pretty good, she might not touch it off." The ammunitions man moved farther back than Clark and the medic moved Clark away.
Clark called across the road to Lois, "Listen to me. Stand up very slowly and carefully. Just don't nudge the stump or the bomb when you walk away." Lois started breathing harder. "Sharen, slowly get up. Trust me. Walk toward me, slowly."
Lois swallowed hard as she moved off the mouth of the open stump of a log. Seeing herself away from the stump by several feet, she ran for Clark and fell into his arms.
Lois couldn't come up with words to explain her relief, but Clark could tell she truly was happy to be in his arms and alive.
The platoon continued into the little town of An Khe that night before the platoon would stop for Clark's wound. He had now bled through three sets of his pants and several miles of gauze. The lightheadedness started getting to him as he could now see more than one Lois walking down the road next to him. Reaching the newly arranged American camp, Lois followed the medic and Clark into the hospital tent.
"He was hit about five hours ago. He lost a lot of blood and some other men we know have died already from this loss of blood. This guy is made of steel." Clark looked at Lois and could see her smiling at the thought of the man of steel, if they only knew. Lois saw that Clark needed some time to be worked on and waved to him before she left the tent.
"He'll be ok. He's been tough from the beginning," Jonathon remarked as he put his arm around her. "You seem to have sort of bond with him none of the men in the platoon understand. He's going to be upset that you're leaving." Lois looked up at him.
"Yeah, the chopper over there is waiting to take you out to Singapore and back to the states. The week was all you were supposed to get. I get on one of those tomorrow and head to Hawaii. I'm going back to Kansas. It'll be nice going home to my girl for Christmas. I plan on asking her to marry me. She said no three other times, but now I'm a war hero." Lois smiled as Jonathon walked her to the chopper and realized that she was going somewhere else besides back to the present. But Jonathon already had her on the chopper.
"I have to go back now. I'm not supposed to leave yet." Lois started to panic and looked at the little man sitting next to her.
"Ms. Harper, it's time to return to Metropolis. Clark will follow if the time is right." Mr. Wells was pressing buttons on some new gadget she hadn't seen yet.
"What do you mean if the time is right?"
"Be patient." Lois could see that Clark was coming out of the hospital tent and talking to Jonathon. Suddenly the small body of Clark started dragging his leg across to the chopper's landing site and screaming. She started waving out the chopper door when light flashed near the chopper and it tipped.
Lois grabbed the handrail inside as the chopper leaned further to the right and headed for the ground. Mr. Wells smiled at her from across the way, why she didn't know.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want Maketh me lie down in green pastures, he restored my soul…"
On the ground, all that Clark and Jonathon could see was the chopper heading into a ball of flames several miles from the camp. They both jumped into jeeps headed in the same direction of the downed chopper. Clark was already in tears knowing that even if Lois died in this life, it would be forever before he could find her again. Arriving at the chopper, snipers from the woods had arrived to take out any other help that was arriving to help.
Clark hunkered down in the jeep floor and waited for most of the firing to stop. Jonathon was already out shooting like a madman. Clark wobbled out of the jeep to take a look around. The other men had already pulled the bodies from the wreckage but no woman. At the same time Clark knelt, he felt something pierce him in the chest. He saw that he was bleeding again from his chest this time. It was perfect, he and his wife would both die in a time they weren't even supposed to be in. Maybe he really wanted to die. In order to meet up with Lois. Clark thought, 'But if I die now, I'll never come back.' Clark gave up and lied back in the grass. From making the march faster than the other leader and getting through the city and to the landing zone before the Army sprayed for Charlies, he saved his father but cost Lois and him eternal happiness.
"Clark. Clark. Clark, did you have a rough night last night? I know that crime is up but I thought I heard you come in at two and that's not out of the ordinary. Perry's going to have your hide if we don't get to work on time. Kelly's up. Get out of bed." Lois pushed Clark onto the floor before he floated back up into a standing position. She smiled and walked back into the bathroom. "For once, I wish I could cause you a little pain."
Clark got out bed and met his wife downstairs to go into work.
Later at work, Clark was leaning back in the seat at his desk talking on the phone and smiling at his wife. "Sure. Thank you Dr. Klein." Clark hung up the phone and walked over to his wife's desk. "That was Dr. Klein; he said that he would run another set of tests on that transmitter we found. What do you have?" Lois leaned in closer to her husband and slightly pulled on his tie. He smiled and did it up tighter.
"Well, seems that the Newtrich sisters have a little brother that was just picked up by the police — some car painting incident, nothing they need Superman for." Clark looked at the copy that Lois was printing out for the evening edition when he heard a scream from across town. "Go." Clark smiled and started off when his phone rang. "I'll get it." Lois walked over to get the phone.
"What is it?"
"It's for you." Clark forgot about the call for help and took the phone.
"Really, that is incredible. Of course, we would love to. We'll meet you at the airport this weekend to go." Clark hung up the phone.
"What was that about?"
"My father is meeting a bunch of his old war buddies in Washington and asked if we would want to go. It's some special date for them and my dad wants me to see my namesake. I said we could go." Lois smiled and took Clark's arm as he went back to his seat.
"Clark, do you have a feeling about this trip, something special." Lois looked at Clark as he started to stare into space. "I mean I could swear I remember being in a helicopter in Vietnam but I was barely one."
Lois and Clark both went into the conference room and closed the door. They started hashing out details of something they weren't quite sure of and remembered that this was the day that Clark's father had fallen ill from before.
"Wells, he must have put us back earlier thinking we wouldn't remember." Clark turned white remembering things that he and Lois had gone through and the fights they had while he was there. "Do you see me any different at all now. After we have returned."
"No, what is it Clark? You seem to take our priorities a little more seriously and aren't dashing off as much as before. Lately, some the people you have picked up haven't been quite as kind when speaking of you. But nothing much different. And you have been less romantic in some ways, but it's been a busy week."
Clark started to pace, "Wells said this could happen. I don't even really remember and it comes back to haunt me — change my ways." Lois wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed his neck.
"We'll make it through this. Maybe write it down like a historical fiction. Your dad might like that. Now, look out there to the two empty desks and the mad editor, we better get back to work." Lois to Clark's hand as they walked back to desks. Clark sat down, unable to think of anything else, and started to type.
"The Vietnam apparition, so heavy with the bones of countless bodies, had forced upon me an awareness of the fragility of the body and soul; had made me stare terror into the vulnerability of my life, of all life; had drained the youthful arrogance of assumed immortality from my veins. Death, which we had kept at a distance in the bush because it was always so close, now hovered and hid in every peaceful corner. Vietnam had made death as intimate and imminent as life. I had journeyed to Vietnam under the sails of an obsession, a glory lust that compelled me to trace the boundaries of my manhood in the exploding terrain. I found that I had to trade pieces of my soul for the silver of my decorations for valor; that I must have to barter my integrity away to satiate my passion for glory."
Clark, Lois and their daughter arrived in Washington at the hotel a little after his parents. All three of them were wet from the rain that had been pouring the entire trip. His dad handed him an old jacket that looked vaguely familiar. It had Jonel on the front. "You look like you need this. I'll take this and go check in for us." Jonathon grabbed up his granddaughter and walked back over to the counter where his mother was. Lois smiled over at Clark as she paid for their room. Clark slipped the jacket on and got stuck with something. Pulling something out of the pocket, he noticed it was his medal of honor he would have received if he had not gotten killed the last few moments in that horrible time travel trip. Stunned he held it up for Lois.
"Dad, who was this?"
"Your namesake. He died in the war in front of me but he was my best friend I made out there. He spoke of a wife but they never found any family so gave all his things to me." Looking over at the girl in his arms, he headed down the hall in the hotel for their rooms. "Come on. Let's put her down for right now and go out and talk later."
"I never thought I would get to show you this, Clark. See, here it is." Jonathon rubbed his hand along a name that Clark thought he knew. "His name was Clark Jonel, I swore to Martha it was something else. But his uniform was so bloody at his death at the chopper, the recorder messed up the 'r' and made it into an 'n.'" Clark rubbed his fingers across it and could almost feel the pain of being shot that last time.
Since the revelation he and Lois had, he had written a book and remembered in minute detail all the experiences he had. Lois had become worried that he was going to start with the nightmares like the real vets do. But nothing that bad had occurred.
"It's just too bad that the nice woman reporter was never found. You know the US government still has her listed as missing in action? I almost felt glad that Clark died there in front of the chopper — he was in love with Sharen Harper from the beginning and would have done anything for her. Almost like you two." Jonathon looked down at Clark before he sat up from the wall.
"We better get ready. You have that speech to give, remember?" Clark nodded as the family turned toward the parking lot and the Washington Monument.
About an hour later, Superman appeared in front of about 300 vets that had gathered for the special day.
"I was asked to come and speak today on the behalf of peace. I have been lucky enough to live in a time where peace has been relatively easy to keep. But in the last few weeks, the world has watched while a certain small country drives further and further into a smaller province. Now I can do a lot of things as Superman, but fending off a war that brews for centuries is not something I can do. The fright remains that massive weapons will start playing a role in these new fights. The destiny of the human race and the planet on which we live demands we never use these weapons. The tragedy of the humankind is that our fate lies now in our own hands. Unfortunately, the history of our violent past offers us little hope for the future. I am hoping though through meetings and conferences like this, we can convince countries to do otherwise."
Superman stepped down and disappeared behind the stage and reappeared a few minutes later as Clark, and was met by his parents and Lois. "Are you ok?"
"I am fine for the first time since before all this mess started. I just want to take my wife home and love her." His parents laughed as Lois blushed.
Walking to the car after changing, Clark took Lois in his arms, "We're going to be fine. I think we're finally going to be fine."
"I'm glad, but there is something that is left over from our trip to Nam. I wanted to tell you before but you seemed so bothered by everything." Clark looked at her worried and wondered what she was talking about.
"What's wrong?" Clark looked worried as his parents followed up behind him.
"Well, remember something you told me after that night in the motel — about how you felt after we…" Lois stopped since his parents seemed intent on listening. "Use some of that Supertouching now." Lois took his hand and moved it to her belly.
Clark could feel it and a smile cracked on his face.