-- Est. Time Remaining: 00:09:41 --
Kairo and Fitz both rose to their feet as the air in the room became heavy laden with static. A bright light-filled vertical line appeared in the middle of the room; the energy coming from it causing the air surrounding it to ripple. Suddenly, the line split open to reveal a portal, and a man in dark clothing fell through.
Seeing his friend on the ground, Fitz rushed to his side to help him stand. Kairo stood with his eye focused on the vortex. When it closed with out delivering any additional travelers, he rounded on the two young men with fire in his eyes.
"Where is the child?" he demanded heatedly.
Xavir felt the wave of nausea pass and brushed the dirt from his pants. "Hello, Father. It's good to see you too."
Kairo narrowed his eyes and rushed to the dark-haired young man, grabbing his shirt in his fist and pulling his face close. "Where is the child, Xavir?"
Xavir met his father's glare with one of his own. "The plan was never to bring him here, Professor."
Fitz's eyes popped at the confession. This was all news to him. "It wasn't?"
Kairo ignored the young scientist. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about your evil plan to take the child of Superman so you could raise him to be your ultimate weapon," Xavir sneered.
Kairo pushed the younger man away in disgust. "You stupid boy," he growled, rushing over to the monitor. The countdown was still running, and on the screen, the wave was dangerously near its folding point. "I should have known you couldn't be counted on for anything."
Fitz and Xavir followed him over to the workstation.
"What have you done?" Kairo asked. "You've just destroyed the world."
Xavir kept his gaze level. The staring contest ended when the Professor spun around and left the room.
When he was gone, Xavir sunk into the waiting chair.
"What happened?" Fitz asked. "I thought you were supposed to bring the baby back."
Xavir looked up at his friend. "Remember when I told you that I had enough Llecom for two round trips?"
Fitz nodded. "Yeah, but the plan was only for one trip, right?"
"No… I needed one of the trips was to take the baby from 2009 to 2057 and the other to get back here."
Fitz's skin couldn't get any paler. "2057? What? Your plan was to make two trips?"
Xavir shook his head. "2057 is when the new Superman was left with the Guardians for safekeeping. That was the plan."
"New Superman? The Guardians?" Fitz shook his head as if trying to clear it. "I don't understand."
An alarm sounded on the monitor and the numbers on the countdown began flashing red.
"Well, there really isn't time to explain…" He pointed to the screen. The future and the past would collide in less than a minute. "… but if we're alive in 30 seconds, I'll tell you everything."
Fitz looked at his friend with wide eyes. "Do you think you just destroyed the world?"
Xavir ran a hand through his hair, watching the final numbers tick away with trepidation. "Right now, I'm really hoping that I saved it."
Lois rolled over and grabbed her cell phone off the side table, flipping it open to silence the ringing. "I told you not to call me."
"I just wanted to see how you were doing."
"How do you think I'm doing, Smallville? I miss my baby."
Clark was quiet for a beat. "It wasn't my idea. If you hadn't sent him away, we'd all be together right now."
Lois tapped her hands on the railing and sighed. She had asked to speak to Xavir alone in the Loft.
"I'm not sure you understand the gravity of what you're asking me to do," he was saying.
Lois turned to face him. "I do. Believe me, I do understand."
Xavir's brow furrowed at her reply. "You said yourself that you don't remember all the details from your dream…"
"I don't, but that's not the point," Lois countered. "It's what I do remember that's important."
"It was just a dream," Xavir offered sympathetically.
Lois shook her head emphatically. "It was a warning."
She took a step in his direction but halted when he flinched. Admittedly, she hadn't been as welcoming as she could have possibly been to Xavir, but he hadn't exactly bearing good news when he showed up.
"Tell me something," she started softly. "Why are you so afraid about us knowing the future?" She needed to get through to him.
Xavir looked at her silently for a moment before responding. "I started all of this," he said, waving a hand in the air absently. "I'm just trying to set things right, and to do that, I have to protect the timeline."
"And you're willing to erase our memories to make that happen?"
"I don't have the capabilities to erase your memories," he objected.
"But those men do," Lois said urgently. She gave up trying to hold her emotion back and moved closer and took his arm. She didn't know why, but she had the distinct feeling that they needed to make a move soon. To her relief, Xavir didn't flinch this time.
"There's no evidence that you had your memories taken. That's a good sign at least," he said weakly.
Lois frowned. "But your history books never said anything about me having a son named Connor, did they?"
Xavir shook his head slowly. She could tell he was still hesitant to tell her anything about the future that she didn't already know.
"But that could just mean that you never told anyone about him – I mean, who would believe that you'd sent your only child to the future for safekeeping?"
Lois had to admit that he had a point there. She sank onto the couch and rubbed her forehead. She had all of these disconnected images in her mind and she knew that Xavir was the only one who could help her put the puzzle together.
Only child, she repeated to herself. Xavir had inadvertently revealed something about her future – and it wasn't really a promising glimpse.
Xavir lowered to sit on the couch as well. "I have to ensure the integrity of the timeline," he said apologetically. "The best we can do now is to make sure we are one step ahead of Merrick and his men."
Xavir gave her a questioning look.
"That's not the best we can do," Lois said. "It can't be."
She shifted on the couch so she could look at him directly. "There has to be a reason for all of this… At this point in my life, I've completely given up on the idea of coincidences." She eyed him seriously. "The reason I had that dream… the reason I had all of those dreams… They mean something. I just need you to fill in the gaps so I can figure it out."
"If I tell you about the choices you make in the future – you might not make those choices again."
Lois smiled. "Is that such a bad thing?" she asked, lightly, trying to bring some humor into the intense conversation. "What person wouldn't want to avoid bad decisions?"
Xavir looked down at his hands.
"What?" Her intention at levity had obviously missed its target.
"I wouldn't get born," he confessed. "Self-survival is a pretty influential motivating factor."
Lois tilted her head and gazed at him through narrowed eyes. "Are you…" She studied his features. "Are you somehow related to me? To CJ?"
"Yes and no," he answered.
Lois waited for a minute before realizing that he wasn't going to expand on that statement. Her shoulders drooped. From each of their standpoints, this was a life and death situation. And if he was related to her – in a way – than she had to believe that he would want the best for her son… right?
She searched his eyes again. "You can't know that for sure."
"That you won't get born – you can't know that for sure."
He scoffed and shook his head.
Lois grabbed his forearm again. "Seriously," she insisted. "I don't believe in coincidences, but I do believe that certain things are supposed to happen… Like destiny, I guess. You coming here… Clark and I going into the future… CJ… It was all meant to happen. Can you see that?"
"Destiny?" Xavir frowned. "Maybe."
Lois gathered momentum with his reluctant agreement. "Well let's just say that it is destiny, and that there are certain events that must happen in order for this destiny to be achieved. If you are part of that path – that order of things – than you will always be a part of it. You said CJ saves the world in the future, right?"
He nodded warily.
"Maybe it wasn't supposed to get to that point. Maybe it was sending him to the future, and the subsequent decisions that we all made from there that made it necessary for him to save the world…" She groaned. It made more sense in her head.
"What I'm trying to say is, everything we're doing… it seems like it's already been done… You can tell me that much, can't you?"
He paused to think about it and nodded again. "You're right about that part. It's how we know that we have to continue with the plan."
Lois shook her head. "Wrong. I think it's how we know we have to do something different."
At his doubtful expression, she pressed on. "It's a circle. Clark and I going to the future, me getting pregnant, and then us coming back to the past. You showing up to take him to the future – only not your future, but to a time before you were even born. Then, Clark and I showing back up in the future, starting the whole thing over again. We're going to continue on that Merry-Go-Round until we break the cycle. There's a reason we're being given this chance…"
She ran a hand distractedly through her hair. "Second chances are setups for second beginnings," she said and sighed. "If I know anything to be true – it's that."
She and Xavir spent a long moment looking into each other's eyes. She was pleading for her life - for her future… at the possible expense of his own.
"Lois," Clark's voice interrupted them from the top of the stairway. He looked from one of them to the other with a perplexed expression. Lois could tell he sensed the tension in the room but didn't know what it was about. "Chloe's hookup to the Talon webcam just showed two Black SUVs going down Main Street heading west."
Lois swallowed and stood up. The game, as the saying went, was afoot. "We should go."
She walked over to Clark and took his hand. Pausing, she turned to face Xavir, who was still sitting silently on the couch. "When Jor-El said that it would come down to a decision to save the world, I thought he was talking about Clark accepting himself, accepting his abilities. Then, when you showed up, I thought that maybe Jor-El's warning was about CJ and us deciding to send him away."
"But now," she said, tightening her hold on Clark's hand. "I think this is it. The decision - Trusting you." She swallowed again, her throat amazingly dry. When she started to speak again, her voice trembled, and she felt Clark wrap his arm around her shoulder, trying to impart some of his strength through his nearness.
She smiled up at him before looking back to Xavir. "We were given the power to save the world… Now, we're giving it to you."
Lois turned into Clark's embrace and pressed her face into his chest. This whole ordeal had been a heightening experience in vulnerability, but she had never felt so helpless as she did at this moment – the moment when she had willingly given her power to someone else.
She didn't want to send her son away, but she knew that Xavir had the power to take him and make it so she wouldn't remember. Essentially, as she had just said, the final decision was his.
"Lois," Clark said again. "Are you there?"
Lois blinked out of her reverie. "What did you say?"
"I said, if you hadn't sent CJ away, we'd all be together right now."
Lois smirked. "Can it, Smallville. It's not like I sent him away. He's at your parents' house for the night - and anyway, there's no way we'd all be together right now. You're not supposed to see the bride before the wedding."
"That rule only counts on the day of the wedding, not the night before," Clark replied.
She smiled as she heard the pout in his voice. "You do have a point …"
"Give me the word and I'll be there in 20 seconds," he interjected, jumping on her acquiescence.
"Not going to happen, Fly Boy. If you look at the time, today has technically become tomorrow," she laughed. "Why aren't you partying? I thought I heard something about a stripper or two…"
The sound of Clark's returning chuckle made her smile even wider. "You had Jimmy scared to death when you threatened him about getting a stripper. I was lucky AC talked him out of the balloon contortionist."
"Aww, you could have invited CJ," she said cheekily. "He loves balloons."
"He loves popping balloons," Clark corrected. "And don't try to change the subject. At least tell me what you're wearing."
Lois arched an eyebrow, still grinning in the darkness of her bedroom. "You mean what I'm wearing later on today?"
"Looiiisss," he whined, sounding a lot like his son.
"Well, I can't tell you what I'm wearing right now, because I'm not wearing anything…" Lois frowned at the sudden silence on the other end of the line. "Clark?"
The knock at her bedroom door made her sit up in shock. "Clark! Is that you?!"
The door cracked open and Chloe peeked her head in. "You're expecting Clark?" Chloe asked with a smirk. "Tsk, tsk. Can't you guys keep it in check for one more night? I can find some calamine lotion for that itch…"
Lois rolled her eyes and threw a pillow at the door, which Chloe caught. She carried it over to the bed and jumped onto it next to Lois.
A chuckle sounded on the other end of the phone. "You shouldn't tease me like that. I can still come over."
"Looiiiiss," Chloe said, trying to pull her attention from the phone call. "This is the last night of your single life, and the girls and I have decided that you are staying up for every minute of it."
"Do you hear this?" Lois asked him. "You will know who to blame if I stumble down the aisle rather than magically glide as planned. They don't understand that I'm a working mother…" She swung the pillow at Chloe again when she caught her cousin sappily miming the playing of a violin.
Chloe grabbed the phone while Lois was in attack mode. "Good night, Clark. I promise Lois will be at the church on time."
After listening for a moment, she rolled her eyes and handed the phone back to Lois. "He wants to say goodbye."
Chloe reached over and pressed a few buttons on the alarm clock. "If you're not out of here in two minutes, I'm returning with backup." Chloe raised both eyebrows to show her sincerity and hopped off the bed. Just before she closed the door, she turned and held up two fingers.
"You wanted to say goodbye," Lois said, still laughing at her cousin's antics.
"Yes," Clark replied.
"So, say goodbye."
"Wait… what are you really wearing?"
Lois grinned again; her cheeks were going to be constantly sore if this was an indication of how the rest of her life with this man was going to be. "Goodnight, Kent."
"Goodnight Mrs Kent."
"Watch it, Smallville. Just because I agreed to marry you doesn't mean you get to edit my byline."
He laughed; the sound sending a chill up her spine. Two words kept her from telling him to come over. The first being 'Honey,' and the second being 'Moon.'
"I love you, and I can't wait to eat cake with you."
Lois laughed again. "Good night, Clark!"
"Say it back."
She sighed. "I love you, Smallville."
"Thank you – but that's not the part I wanted to hear."
Lois rolled her eyes again. "I can't wait to eat cake with you, too," she grumbled. Once the crisis had passed, they had been able to laugh about some of the things that had gone on. Clark wasn't ever going to let her live down the 'cake and eat' incident.
When the line clicked off, Lois narrowed her eyes. "Did he just call me Honey?"
She happily dropped onto her back on the bed and inhaled. Five months ago, she had thought her world was ending. The moment Xavir had disappeared into thin air, her heart had stopped. It wasn't until she turned around to see CJ sitting in Clark's lap that it started again.
They had some serious explaining to do once they landed the chopper on the LuthorCorp landing pad, but that explanation and the one they had given to Oliver when his captives vanished before his eyes were nothing compared to ordeal of re-introducing Connor to his grandfather and aunt.
Over time, her dreams had started to return, and to her surprise, Clark and Chloe began to have dreams as well. Together, they were able to piece together one hell of a story. It would have been unbelievable if they didn't have a lively little boy in their lives as proof of the adventure the dreams painted.
…A hell of a story about a world stuck in a time loop, the creation of a future not-so-bright, and a generational curse of children growing up without their mothers. The key to breaking from that loop – the key to fixing all of it – had been the final decision of what to do with Connor. Jor-El had been right.
They had saved the world… this time.
It turned out that saving the world was not an isolated event. Thankfully, they had avoided some of the trappings that had led to future pain, including the opening of all of their eyes regarding a certain bald billionaire. Lex's love for Chloe might have been true, but his love for truth was not – and that was not a risk Chloe was willing to continue to mitigate.
As for the other stuff – they would just take it one day at a time.
Already, their future had changed and destiny had been steered onto another course by the small shifts they had made. The future was once again unknown.
And that was just the way Lois liked it.
The beeping of the alarm clock made Lois's eyes widen. Just as she reached for the button to silence it, the door to her room burst open to reveal her cousin standing there with the promised backup.
Well, at least everything beyond her immediate future was unknown, Lois amended to herself as the bridal posse entered the room.
She braced for impact. "Crap."
"Sweetie, wake up."
A dark head popped from under the covers and the young man it belonged to sat up in bed with a start. He turned to his mother with wide eyes. "I just had the craziest dream. It was about Superman and the Justice League… I can't even remember half of it, but it was wild."
His mother laughed. "It's probably because of all of the excitement for the Festival. You need to get up, though, Xavi. Fitz is going to be here at nine. You know how he is about getting there early," she warned.
"Fitz!" Xavir exclaimed. "He was in it too! We were working on a space station and I flew a shuttle. We were fighting bad guys to save the world."
The woman sighed and ruffled his hair before stooping to gather stray clothes off of the floor and dumping them in a nearby hamper. "You should write all that down," she suggested. "Maybe you'll turn out to be a writer like your Grandmother someday."
"Maybe," Xavir said frowning. He got out of bed and stretched, narrowing his eyes at a poster on the wall opposite him. It showed all of the members of the Justice League in superhero poses, and to the right, the non-super members of the group: Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan. He walked over to look at it closer, his eyes going from Clark Kent to Superman and back again. There was something…
"Nah." Grinning, he shook his head. "That's insane."
With a laugh, he grabbed some clothes and darted toward the bathroom so he could shower. His best friend would be there any minute and he wanted to be ready. At the bathroom door, he paused, turning to look around his room once more. He had the distinct feeling that something was different.
His eyes settled on the framed photograph of him and his mother and father that was on his desk. It was the one where they had all made funny faces at the camera, and it always made him laugh.
No, he thought to himself, turning to enter the bathroom. Everything was just as it should be.
And it was.
"The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances… When he does so, it is for only one reason: it's a future that was written so as to be altered." – The Alchemist