By CC Aiken <AikFree@aol.com>
Submitted: January 2004
Summary: What would happen if someone other than HG Wells spoke the trigger word "unspool," which brings back the memories of Lois and Clark's Smallville time travel adventure?
How lame is it to respond to your own fanfic challenge? I don't really know, but everyone was really nice about it!
This is my answer (to my own question) to the "unspool" challenge.
The idea being, what would happen if someone other than HG Wells spoke the trigger word 'unspool', which brings back the memories of Lois and Clark's Smallville time travel adventure?
When Lois meets the older Wells in 'Tempus Anyone', he used this word to remind her they had met before and what had transpired. I wanted to see what would happen if someone else said it. Anyone else, really. And this is what I came up with.
With thanks to ChiefPam, who played along and answered this challenge wonderfully with two stories of her own, and yet was kind enough to look at this.
This is a little fluff-filled and a little silly and is entirely dedicated to the readers of the boards who nagged so cruelly. <g>
"So, what you're saying is, you guys have gotten nowhere on this?"
At Clark's warning glare, Lois tried to end her question in a slightly less belligerent tone. She knew she wasn't the only one who was frustrated here. In addition to Clark and herself, Mayson Drake and her entire department had put in hours of investigative work on this case.
And the sum total of their combined efforts, after weeks and weeks, came to exactly…zilch.
Mayson's withering look let Lois know her late attempt to soften her question hadn't been all that successful.
"Mayson," Clark began, drawing the assistant D.A.'s eyes to him like a magnet to a refrigerator. "Listen, we're all a bit…on edge. Are you sure there isn't *anything* else you could tell us?"
Lois was grateful Clark had been the one to ask that. Had it come from her, Mayson might not have been entirely receptive. Go figure.
With a barely audible sigh, Mayson dropped her antagonistic demeanor.
"No. Honestly…" She included them both in her gaze, shrugging her shoulders. "Shut the door will you?"
Clark leapt to do so, as Mayson moved around in front of her desk, leaning up against it to kick off her shoes.
Now we're getting somewhere, Lois thought, trying to ignore the encouraging smile her partner was flashing at the beautifully rumpled Mayson Drake.
"Go on," Lois prompted, just a shade below rude.
"We thought we had this wrapped up so tight. No holes. No leaks. No shaky sources. For about five minutes there, I felt like I'd actually make D.A. before I was 30."
"More like 35," muttered Lois to herself. It wasn't exactly mean, since nobody could hear her.
"Anyway…" Clark interjected, throwing Lois a reproving glare she was certain she didn't deserve.
"Anyway…" Mayson ran agitated fingers through her entirely too-perfect hair, and it stayed that way. "Yesterday, before my first cup of coffee, the whole thing gave way. Just came completely un…un…" She floundered, at a loss for words.
"Unbuttoned?" Lois offered in her best talk-to-me tone.
"Undone?" overrode Clark, sounding a bit too sympathetic.
"Un…spooled," answered Mayson, looking thoughtfully back at the two wordsmiths.
"Unspooled?" Lois repeated, writing it down. "I like it. It has a certain…"
"…poetic imagery," finished Clark.
"Did you ever think about writing?"
It was Lois' first friendly comment, maybe ever, to Mayson. And she could tell by the surprised silence that it had been noted.
Mayson allowed a small smile in Lois' direction. If it didn't quite make it there, Mayson felt she at least deserved points for the effort.
It had been just a few weeks since her near-miss with the car bomb, but Mayson Drake had made quick work of reassessing her priorities. Having one's eyebrows singed off tended to have that effect on a person. She was trying to make her life about more than just getting the bad guys. The creative writing classes at Metropolis U. provided an outlet for her, giving her a chance to work on something other than legal briefs and depositions. And, if by chance, this new hobby brought her closer to say… another writer… a reporter with eyes a girl could wake up to day after day, then, so be it.
"All I'm saying is—" Mayson shifted back onto her desk, thus displaying a whole lot of leg. "—this case was tightly wound. Like… a ball of yarn." Despite Lois' arched eyebrow, she pushed on. Her professor assured her that similes were her strong point. "And it's like some outside force… a… a… giant cosmic kitten. pounced out of nowhere… batted it away at the last minute, unraveling the entire thing…countless hours of work—"
"You should write," Clark interrupted with enough "wow" in his voice to provoke Mayson's first real smile of the night.
"…Giant Cosmic Kitten." Lois was scribbling intently, her tongue wedged firmly between her teeth.
"…Unspools D.A.'s Air-Tight Case." Clark grinned at her, imagining the headline.
With absolutely no warning, the room dissolved. In a swirl of colors and sounds, Mayson's office and its inhabitants, even the chair Clark was sitting on, disappeared.
And Clark Kent was no longer a mild-mannered reporter on a story. He was… a baby… again.
What? How? What?
His overwhelmed mind tried to ask the right questions, but he couldn't finish a single one.
"A baby," he gasped out, barely hearing the alarmed voices of two women who were far, far away.
"No. It's me," he heard himself say, inexplicably.
He tumbled into the whirlwind of memories, lost completely in them. His hold on his present time and place evaporated.
He was an infant in a spaceship. He was surrounded by kryptonite. Only the baby wasn't truly him. It was, but it wasn't, because he was holding… himself, and flying over Schuster's Field, trying to get his young parent's attention. And Lois was there. Lois had saved the day. Saved the baby. Saved him. Kissed him, even. Known him… fully. Seen him in the Suit and called him.
Yes, she'd called him Clark.
Right, he'd established that.
He heard her frantic voice now, as he swam up from the sea of images.
"Clark, what's happened? Can you hear me? Somebody call 911."
That was Mayson. Much calmer than Lois, who was now pressed up against him, warm and soft, running comforting hands up and down his back.
"Where…?" he asked, this time out loud.
"Mayson's office, Clark," her voice was warm in his ear. "Interviewing her about the giant Space Cat."
"Cosmic Kitten," he corrected her feebly.
"He's ok," Clark heard her say to Mayson. "I'll take him home. He's just tired, or allergic to something, or his blood sugar is… or he's crazy, I don't know."
"Has he done this before?"
"Sometimes Clark is just in a different world."
"Smallville, 1966, to be exact," he ground out, opening his eyes, daring to look right at Lois.
Lois stared back at him, unblinking, something clearly itching at the back of her brain.
"Care to elaborate?" she demanded, removing her soft warmth from him all too quickly.
"Unspool, Lois. Unspool… remember? Or am I crazy, really crazy?"
There had been a man. An odd man. With a time machine. No, that couldn't be right. He would have remembered an odd man with a time machine… and a bowler hat. Right? Especially if his life had been hanging so precariously by a thread. His own young life, needing rescue from a man in shiny clothing. What could he have been thinking? What fresh kryptonite was this.?
"Let the memories unspool," Lois whispered in an uncertain voice, stopping his reeling thoughts cold. "But what… what does it mean…?"
Her voice trailed away, as Clark watched the slow, painfully slow, dawning of recognition in Lois' eyes. He gripped her hands tightly in his own, willing her to see what he'd seen.
Lois, little by little, lowered herself onto the nearest sturdy surface. His lap. Clark was still sitting beside the chair his memories had tossed him out of. He held her close, ignoring Mayson's sputtered questions and exclamations.
"Is it contagious?!"
That was one of them.
"Should I call…a shrink?"
That was another.
Still more, and he really couldn't blame her.
"Do you have to hold her so close?"
That last one a little bitter sounding.
Clark waited for Lois to speak again. Frightened by what she might say in front of witnesses, but also, oddly euphoric. Like the weight of a… of a… giant space cat was off his shoulders.
"Well," Lois said, rather shakily, at last.
"Well?" he echoed back, trying not too successfully to mask the hope in his voice.
"Well!" Lois said again. This time with a bit more vigor. "If there's nothing else you can tell us, Mayson, we'll be leaving."
On a hop she was up and gathering her things. "You know where to reach us if anything changes, right?"
She was gone, pulling Clark in her wake, closing the door on a fish-mouthed Mayson Drake.
They said nothing as they exited the building, crossed the parking lot, approached her Jeep.
At her door Lois fumbled with her keys, as Clark stood quietly behind her; giving her time, space, silence, whatever she needed.
"Clark," her soft voice broke the peace. "Does the name 'Tempus' mean anything to you?"
She kept her back to him, carefully watching his reflection in the car window.
He addressed her window, when he answered, looking Lois' reflection fully in the eyes.
"Yes, just tonight, in Mayson's office, I realized that the name 'Tempus' means.everything to me."
"To us," she breathed, still not turning.
"Us," he answered fervently. "Let's go home. My home. Your home. Anywhere. But let's go, Lois."
"You could…fly us, maybe," she challenged softly.
A small pause drew out between them.
"To the moon, if you'd like," he whispered just behind her ear, "or to the Fudge Castle, if you prefer."
Lois turned into his arms then, getting her first real look at her super partner.
"I call the shots?" She let out the breath she'd been holding.
"You're still the top banana here, Lois," he assured her. "Wherever we go from here is entirely up to you."