Dealing with Disappointment
crackfic by Scriviner
All rights belong to owners.
"What is it supposed to be, husband?" She asked in a dubious tone. He had to admit, it didn't look like much. A circular projector from the floor and a panel with touch controls. Not what one expected from a device that could break causality itself.
"I call it my Time Telescope!" He reported proudly.
"That's... well, it's interestingly named, at least, Jor-El." She continued, still dubious.
"What is the matter?" He asked, finding her complete and total lack of awe at his genius... vexing.
"I thought we had discussed about your projects being constructed in the central receiving area as opposed to your laboratory." She paused significantly, before adding pointedly, "Where they are supposed to be."
He made a dismissive gesture which deepened the mild frown on his wife's face. "I could not wait. When inspiration strikes, one must bow to its whims."
"Will you not bow to the whims of the one who orders the robots that make your meals and clean your clothes?" She asked mildly, he knew she would not press the issue, but there was a clear current of distaste in her tone. Jor-El could sort of tell that Lara was annoyed at... something. A couple didn't stay married as long as they did without picking up something of each other's moods, but whatever it was could wait. Science was happening!
The obvious keenness in his voice was one his wife had run into before. The only way he could be eventually pointed into a useful direction was to indulge him. She sighed. "What does it do, oh great science counselor?" she asked with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
"I am glad you asked, my beloved spouse!" He passed his hands over the panel and the projector created a stream of light that stretched from floor to ceiling. "It allows me to see anywhere and anywhen. Past, present, future... all are within my grasp!"
Lara raised an eyebrow. That almost sounded... useful. Which was a distinct change from most of his other projects.
"So how does it work?" she asked playing her role as his captive audience to the hilt. If she didn't do it, he'd try to explain to the robots and that just annoyed them.
He brushed his hands against the panel. "This allows me to set the viewing locus in multiple dimensions! Further, the panel is attuned in such a way that it will accept genetic data coupled with a date to allow us to view a specific individual at any point in time! Observe!"
He tapped a few more light buttons and static began to play across the beam of light.
Long moments passed as the static stubbornly refused to resolve into anything.
"Wow." Lara said dryly. "That is absolutely amazing."
"No! Something is wrong. I was trying to have it observe me in the here and now. Perhaps it is getting interference from being so close to itself." He laughed and made a dismissive gesture, "Probably chrono-spatial feedback. Let me just adjust..." He made a twisting motion that should have shown him a week into his future.
Then two weeks.
Static as far as the eye could see.
He twisted the dial backwards, shooting it back in time to similar results. At his side, Lara had crossed her arms and was staring pointedly at him. "Your son will be waking up from his nap in a few minutes, husband. I need to give his caregiver robots their orders. If that was everything you wanted to show me-?" She was about to dismiss the entire incident from her mind and order one of the housekeeping robots to move the contraption to Jor-El's lab, along with all of his other failures when an image finally flickered onto the screen.
"There! The interference no longer shows beyond six months into the past!" Jor-El declared triumphantly.
Within the beam of light Jor-El paced absentmindedly in a medical office. He poked at a few of the potted plants indifferently before finally wandering back out into the street after a minute.
Lara could only stare incredulously as her husband stared in bafflement at the scene, "Where was I?"
She glared at him. "Six months ago. The birth of Kal-El. The birth of your son. Your first-born son."
"Was it?" He seemed momentarily puzzled but shrugged. "If you say so. In any case, as you can see it works!"
She sighed and gestured at the device, "Well it works in the past. What about the future?"
Taking a chance, Jor-El twisted the dial forward six months. The image resolved itself, but there was nothing but a night sky. "That's odd," He muttered.
Lara rolled her eyes.
He twisted and fiddled with more controls on the panel, sending the image spinning madly around. "That's very strange. It appears to be space... and there's no sign of me, just a lot of rocks and dust."
She gave an exasperated sigh, "Just admit that it doesn't work," She glanced over her shoulder, catching sight of the caregiver robot floating out of the nursery carrying young Kal in his bright blue jumper. Her boy was still drowsy, but fighting it, tiny hands flailed as he tried to roll away from the caretaker's metal arms.
Lara's expression broke into a smile at the one bright spot of her marriage. She made an unspoken gesture and the caretaker robot deposited the squirming bundle of boy into her arms. She snuggled with him delightedly even as her husband grew more and more frustrated with his so-called 'invention'. With any luck, she mused, he would get frustrated enough to not do any more of his alleged science in the house for at least a few more months. She reminded herself that they were going to need to strengthen the force field to his lab, especially once her little boy started walking.
Jor-El made a frustrated sighing-sputtering noise deep in his throat as he turned to Lara, infuriated at her distraction. "Will you give him back to the robot and help me?" He snapped.
Her eyes turned stony, "I will not."
"Look, I just might need another genetic sequence to calibrate against!" He insisted in what he thought of as his 'reasonable' voice, but which Lara recognized as a whine. "It will only take a moment."
"No." She replied with finality, shifting to cradle the still flailing Kal against her hip. "In fact, this is obviously not going to work, so I want you to have the robots move this into-"
There was a faint crackle as the image suddenly shifted on the screen. It was no longer the empty star field, with its dust and rocks. It was Kal... slightly older. She knew immediately. He was a year old in the image, laying half-asleep in a red blanket that Lara recognized. It was one with the gold pattern of the El family crest on it that she'd received from Jor-El's father. The two parents stared in stunned amazement as they realized young Kal had his hand on the panel.
"It works!" Jor-El crowed, causing Kal to start and turn to cling to his mother with a whimper.
Lara cuddled her son closer and looked at the image. It was undoubtedly her boy. She could recognize him anywhere, but the scene where he was was completely unfamiliar. It seemed dark and closed in. Completely unfamiliar. It certainly didn't seem to be his crib or the nursery at all. A sudden, terrifying realization stole upon her. "Jor-El... pull the image back. I want to see where he is," she said faintly.
Jor-El, who was dancing and congratulating himself had to be smacked in the shoulder twice before he could comply. The image drew away, unfocussing from little Kal to reveal the completely enclosed chamber he was in.
"Pull back further," Lara urged. Jor-El, baffled by her behavior complied, until the image had pulled back far enough to reveal a rocket. Their son was on some sort of... space craft. She even recognized it as the unfinished miniature prototype Jor-El kept in his laboratory. He'd had a finished prototype a few months earlier, until he'd tested it by sending the dog into space. Lara still had not forgiven him for that.
What she saw was completely unacceptable.
She pulled Kal away from his father. "You complete monster!" She roared, holding onto her son with one hand and hitting her husband repeatedly on the shoulder.
"I... why would I do that? I wouldn't do that! It makes no sense!" Jor-El said. trying to get out of his wife's reach. "Surely I wouldn't send him away unless there was a good reason!"
She smacked him a few more times, "You consider, 'to see what happens' a good reason!"
Kal meanwhile seemed to find all of this uproariously funny and was clapping his tiny hands delightedly in time with his mother's blows.
She snarled, "That's it. I'm going to my mother's and I'm taking Kal with me. You are obviously going to do something spectacularly stupi-"
Jor-El cut her off by pointing silently at the screen. On it the image had changed once more. The rocket and the stars had vanished, now a grown man, wearing an absurd skin-tight outfit that looked like badly stretched child's play clothes with a blanket for a cape. He stood floating in a clear blue sky, in clear defiance of gravity and all good sense. Despite the strangeness and absurdity, the man was handsome, Lara had to admit. He resembled Jor-El's father and a little of her own father mixed in, but so well-muscled. No one in her family had been so absurdly well-built that she could think of and that tight suit accentuated every bit of taut, corded corded flesh. She took a nervous swallow and glanced down.
She stared incredulously as she realized that Kal had once again lowered his hand to the panel and had twisted the dial forward about thirty years.
"Who-?" Jor-El began to ask
"That's Kal. That's our boy, but what's happened to him?" She asked softly, her earlier anger forgotten. "How is he floating?"
"Why is that sun yellow? That makes no sense! And if that's Kal, why would a grown man be wearing baby clothes?"
Jor-El began manipulating the controls, seeking to pan the image backwards and forwards. Seeking out how the strange image of their son as a grown man dressing as an infant on some strange and savage other world.
"This makes no sense." Jor-El muttered to himself.
"What does not, husband?" Lara asked warily. She continued to hold Kal who had begun to drowse once more against her shoulder.
"Any attempt I make to track myself or you forward shows only the floating dust and debris, once I get past the six month span of interference." He replied, still continuing to adjust the controls. "But attempting to follow Kal always shows him on that... that... primitive planet."
"Perhaps there are some clues there? What happens exactly to him?" She asked.
"Roughly nine months from now the rocket he is in lands on that world. It's... it is a backwards primate populated mess! He gets taken in by some natives."
"Look." Jor-El gestured to the screen showing a farmer and his wife taking him from the rocket. "They... they appear to be some sort of primitive agriculturalists. This entire culture does not even seem to have achieved basic fusion technology, much less protein replication."
Lara stared at these people taking and cradling her son. She ventured, "They seem to be good people at least?"
"They are idiots!" Jor-El snapped. "Look at what the male is doing!"
She looked puzzled. "He's burying what's left of the rocket."
"The technologies in that rocket would be a quantum leap forward for their primitive species!" Jor-El raved, "They're just barely past the level of banging rocks together and this trogloditic muck delver is burying it! No monkey curiosity at all! They could derive basic fusion power from it at least... how could anyone be so stupid?"
"He's also doing it himself," She pointed out, rather enjoying the light sheen of swear developing on the primitive. Who... had... just... taken... his... upper... garment... off. She stifled a gasp. All of the backbreaking labor must be good for shaping all those primitive, muscular bodies, she mused to herself. Those taut, well-muscled, deliciously tanned bodies.
Jor-El made a frustrated grunt, "Their planet only has the barest minimum in terms of robotics. If he wants it done, he has to do it himself."
She sniffed, frowning at her husband's dismissive attitude. She turned back to the caretaker robot and said, "Bring us some chairs. We may be here a while."
"Wha-?" Jor-El looked baffled. She'd never shown any interest in her work before. Truly it was a splendid day for science if even his wife were taking an interest.
"Show me more, my husband. I would like to see how things progress." She said as she settled into the chair that the robot brought. She seated her son in her lap, even as he squirmed and tried his best to crawl down her leg and make a break for the floor.
"I will... but keep in mind that what you may see of this primitive and filthy mud ball may shock and disturb you. I ask only that you steel yourself." Jor-El replied haughtily as he made some more adjustments moving the scene forward in time, but still centered on Kal as he grew.
Jor-El's litany of complaints only grew as they watched his life unfold.
"He couldn't possibly be that strong, that fast or immune to harm!" He groused.
"Do you suppose it's the planet?"
"Yellow solar radiation is an unusual environmental factor. It's possible his body is processing it in some way and it's boosting his natural biophysical aura." Jor-El said distractedly. He looked away from the screen for a moment to make notes.
Lara meanwhile was amused by Kal... her Kal's antics as he learned to walk. It pained her that the Kal on the display was being cared for by strangers, but at least they were good strangers. Kind people, even if they were not Kryptonian, despite looking terrifyingly similar. And that male was certainly delightful to behold.
"See? There! He starts out with leaping, but he's staying up longer and longer!"
"Yes, Jor-El. I can see that he's learned to fly." Lara said in an annoyed tone. They were skipping through months and years at a stretch. She was watching her son grow up in an entirely alien environment. Growing up loved and happy. Meanwhile her husband kept finding more and more things to complain about.
"He is clearly superior to these primates! Why has he not yet imposed his will upon them? They obviously cannot match him!" He exclaimed, gesturing wildly at a scene of Kal allowing another boy to take something from him.
"Because he is only six and is showing remarkable restraint, despite the other boy's bullying." Lara said tightly. Her opinion of the couple that had taken Kal in rose another few notches. It couldn't have been easy to discipline a boy who could not be hurt and who could already lift one of their primitive internal combustion vehicles above his head.
"Surely they must recognize his inherent superiority! Why are they not recognizing it?" Jor-El lamented.
Lara rolled her eyes at her husband's interruption of her thoughts. "It is that attitude that kept you getting beaten up throughout your formative years."
"They eventually recognized my genius!" Jor-El crowed.
"When they got tired of bruising their knuckles upon your face. Now, shush. I wish to see what happens next." She warned. She glanced down. Kal had fallen back asleep, oddly lulled by the scenes of his future.
"Yes, yes... you are right. He's being raised by primitive pre-fusion rural agriculturalists. I must lower my expectations. There is no possible way that they could manage to come even close to our standards-"
"I think he's rather interested in the red-haired girl." Lara interrupted him as they viewed as scene in his early teens. Skipping forward a few more times showed more and more scenes of Kal and the red-headed girl together. "I... it looks like they're courting."
Jor-El snorted. "Primitive courting rituals. It's not even like he's genetically compatible with them. It would be like..." He flailed for a moment, seeking out a sufficiently disgusting metaphor, "Like trying to get into a relationship with a monkey."
"Well, our son seems to be kissing the monkey quite enthusiastically." Lara said smugly.
Jor-El shot to his feet, "What? I forbid it! What is he thinking! He eats with that mouth!"
Lara smiled indulgently at the tender and awkward first kiss the teens were sharing on the display. "I suppose his Earth parents are not making an arranged marriage for him?"
Jor-El sneered as he dropped back into his chair, "I told you they were primitives. This particular culture does not appear to follow that institution, from what we've observed. Instead they allow their children to marry willy-nilly with no control at all. Like animals." He added with finality.
Lara replied thoughtfully, "So our son wouldn't end up being trapped in a sexless, loveless, joyless sham of an arranged marriage? He could marry for love?"
The statement came out far more pointed than she'd intended and Jor-El still managed to miss it. He simply gave an oblivious shrug, "I suppose so. But they're just savage things barely evolved into sentience. He can't breed with them, so why bother? What's the point?"
She stared for a moment before finally answering, "... that statement goes a long way towards explaining many things about our marriage."
"What do you mean?" He asked in confusion.
"Never mind, show me more."
"I do not understand why he is taken with that red-headed monkey anyway." Jor-El groused. "If he truly wished to spend time with something compatible, he should've just made an opposite gender clone of himself. I had already created one when I was his age."
Lara rolled her eyes. "Which was just one of the many reasons you were shunned by your peer group well into adulthood."
They sat in silence for a while, Jor-El continuing to grumble while Lara watched in rapt fascination. She'd handed young Kal off to the caretaker robot so that he could be put back in his crib.
Jor-El suddenly shot to his feet. "That makes even less sense!"
"Why... How is he creating heat from his eyes? Or that freezing breath? Those make even less sense than the rest of his abilities!"
She rolled her eyes then replied with a slightly mocking edge, "You're the scientist. Why do you not figure it out?"
He frowned then gestured for one of the other robots to approach with a hand held data input and display unit. "You are right, beloved wife. I must puzzle this out for myself."
"Good." She murmured, hoping that it was insoluble. The longer he was kept preoccupied, the longer she could enjoy watching her son grow up without his incessant yammering. He was practically an adult now on the screen.
She took over the controls while Jor-El pondered his calculations and simulations and whatever else he might have been doing. She found that she could manually reassign the Time Telescope to follow others as long as they'd shown up on the display at least once. Lara glanced at Jor-El to ensure that he was engrossed in his calculations and she briefly allowed the view to linger on Kal's alien 'father'.
From what she had seen so far the male was a good provider and disciplinarian, but never shied from showing affection towards his mate or Kal. She realized that this creature did do a far better job with her son than Jor-El ever could. Or would. If the future the Time Telescope showed was inviolate, then despite her not being in her son's life, she could take comfort in the fact that he would have a good one. Just one that she was not a part of.
She also found herself enjoying the view when he would shower or when he engaged in his very frequent and enthusiastic coupling with his mate. The comparison with Jor-El was inevitable as much as it was unfavorable. Her husband simply... did not measure up.
As he looked back up to the display, she tapped the control that snapped it back to Kal, who now appeared to be a young adult.
"What is he doing?"
"It looks like he's been traveling the planet and meeting with people." She replied distantly, still distracted by the previous scene that she had been viewing.
"Ah." Jor-El said, "No doubt familiarizing himself with his adopted world to prepare for his inevitable rise to power."
"No, I think he's making friends." She shook her head.
He shrugged, "I think I understand what's happening to him." He gestured vaguely at the screen where Kal seemed to be in the process of pulling people out of a burning building. "The yellow solar radiation is definitely strengthening certain underdeveloped areas in Kryptonian brains. He's warping gravity sub-consciously... that explains the temperature shifting abilities, the sensory anomalies, the- what is he doing?"
"He appears to be defending those people behind him from some hostile beings that are pointing weapons at him." She replied primly. She'd seen him face these weapons down before during the interval while Jor-El was distracted by his calculations. They were some sort of kinetic weapon that hurled metal at high velocities. The little bits of metal all bounced off Kal's skin, but she still worried about him.
"I mean why is he allowing them to do that?" Jor-El asked in confusion.
"Allowing what?" She replied with equal confusion.
"He's just standing there letting them shoot him."
"Yes, he's trying to keep those behind him from being hurt." She explained patiently.
"And... now he's punching the men with the weapons." Jor-El said in a stunned voice.
"It keeps them from shooting." She said, not quite understanding why Jor-El was so upset.
"He is my son. I am one of the most brilliant Science counselors this planet has produced-" he ranted. Lara tried very hard not to laugh in his face. "His body under the yellow son is a veritable marvel of scientific transformation that could rewrite physics as we know it. And. He. Uses. It. To. Hit. Monkeys. With."
She blinked at this and tried very hard not to laugh. "It's certainly direct."
"It's barbaric! He's been raised among these monkeys long enough that he's started thinking and acting like them! So much power and no doubt intelligence and his response is to hit things! How can this be my son?"
She rolled her eyes at that. "Perhaps it was a one time thing-" She began to say, but he interrupted her by taking the control panel back and skipping forward further. Hitting. More hitting. Punching out some sort of gorilla robot thing. Another instance where he knocked out some sort of alien creature with a well-placed kick. Another robot that had an organic brain... again, punched into submission.
"Hitting, hitting, and more hitting! He's like a... a... a hitting thing! His first and primary response to any sort of threat appears to be violence rather than reason!"
"It's not as bad as you paint it." She replied, although she did have to admit there was an awful lot of violence in her son's actions, but it always appeared as though he were doing it with the best of intentions. Couldn't her husband see that? She asked herself. It was behavior she would have encouraged herself if she'd been able to raise him herself.
"No? Look at this! When he's not taking his infantile rage out on everything in his baby outfit, he's pretending to be a human." He pointed to the image of their son. Dressed in human fashion, shrinkingly meek, his hair slicked back, and covering his eyes with a pair of corrective lenses. "I... I think that's supposed to be some sort of disguise. As though he could hide his Kryptonian magnificence with slouching and optical enhancements!"
"It... well, it seems to be working, husband. They treat him as though he were an entirely different person when he is not in his-" she almost bit her tongue, but pressed on, "His play suit."
"Because these monkeys are idiots!" Jor-El snapped harshly, "And being around their under-developed idiot mentalities has affected our son's intellectual capabilities! There is no possible way he could believe that his so-called 'disguise' would work if he were in full command of the awesome intellect he should have inherited!"
"Jor-El, you must calm down." Lara said in what she hoped was a soothing tone, but her irritation was beginning to show through.
"Perhaps your own genes have muddled my brilliance in our son?" He said vaguely.
Her tone was harsher as she pointed to the console, "Show me more." She had to see more. She could not be there for him as he grew up, but she would see as much of it as she could.
"Perhaps the yellow solar radiation provides the physical gifts at the same time that it impacts his intelligence?" Jor-El mumbled to himself.
"Pre-fusion." She prompted, hoping to keep him from another outburst. She had been enjoying the show, but Jor-El seemed absolutely determined to keep interrupting.
"Yes. Lower my expectations... lower them..." His eyes snapped back on screen as Kal once more took on some other violent being. "I wouldn't feel so annoyed by it if he even used some sort of tool. He's using his fists like... like some common laborer!"
"My parents were laborers." Lara replied frostily.
"Yes, yes... but that's not what I meant," Jor-El replied placating, even though she knew that was precisely what he meant. As a Science caste, Jor-El had always held the other castes in contempt. "But look... there! The bald monkey that he keeps ending up in confrontations with."
"What about him?"
"Despite his inherent deficiencies-"
"You mean not being Kryptonian?" She asked drily.
"Yes." He said with no irony at all. "He at least uses his tools and intellect. See how skillfully he manipulates everyone... see the power at his hands and how he uses his mind to improve his standing? A true tool using animal."
She narrowed her eyes, "He's doing all of that to harm our son."
"Yes, but he's fine," He said dismissively. "I mean the bald one is just a human, it's not like he can cause Kal any lasting harm. Nevertheless, this is something that our son should aspire to!"
She shook her head, then said in a slow, flat voice. "He is trying to kill our son and you are cheering him on."
"Not the attempted killing! The style and means that he is using are what impress me!" He tried to explain, but she was having none of it and took the controls back from him, beginning to skip the view back and forth once more.
She sighed, "One thing that worries me. At that age, he does not appear to have found a suitable mate yet."
Jor-El scoffed, "That is what happens when one does not have an arranged marriage."
She gave him another look of annoyance. "In your case an arranged marriage was your only hope. Even then it took a family in a desperate situation to even consider you in the first place."
"What do you mean?" He asked in confusion.
"Never mind. I'm not sure what happened to the red-head, but he does seem awfully fond of the brunette that he works with."
He sniffed, "She seems to be a shrewish, emasculating harpy. I don't like her at all."
She shook her head, "You dislike them all because they are not Kryptonian."
"That does not help their cause, no. It's not like he could breed with them, as I said."
"What about the woman with the eagle bustier?" She asked mildly.
He skipped the controls around, allowing him to rewind the image of the female in the skimpy red, blue and gold outfit. "She is some sort of magic mud woman. I will not have her muddy genes in the line of El, no matter how impressive her frontal development!"
She cocked an eyebrow at that, whereupon he hurriedly continued, "Besides. Look at the culture she is from! Nothing but women on the island. She no doubt would be uninterested in our decidedly male son!"
She frowned at him, but let that comment go, choosing to address his earlier statement, "If your interest is in the ones with 'frontal development', what about the blonde female in the white outfit?"
"She's actually rather interesting," He replied. "She seems to be some sort of Kryptonian offshoot. In fact her genetics seem similar enough to his that they could be cousins."
She looked speculative at the image of the impressively endowed blonde woman as she chatted with her son, "They could breed true, couldn't they?"
"Yes, I suppose so, but he does not seem to have any interest in her." Jor-El shrugged. "Pity. There are probably not enough recessives for it to matter and they could always cull any unfavorable results."
Her frown deepened. How did one deal with a man who could think like that? Unfavorable results, indeed, she huffed silently. They would be grandchildren, defects and all. She would cherish them, however absent she might have been in her son's life.
Her breath caught and she felt a hitch in her chest as a thought that had been in the back of her mind finally presented itself to her conscious attention. Where was she as all this was happening? How could Jor-El have sent him away to this strange world? How could she allow it?
It came to her at once as a sudden thought. There was only one explanation. The only way she would allow such a thing to happen was if she were dead.
Her blood ran cold as she eyed Jor-El. Did he kill her? No one would send her sweet Kal away except over her dead body.
Who else would do it? It would have been Jor-El. Perhaps inadvertently. Perhaps intentionally for her 'interference' in his science? She gripped the chair's armrest and wondered if she could rise to her feet quickly enough to smash it into his head before he could react?
"What about this other redhead?" Jor-El's words snapped her out of her near-murderous speculation.
She turned away from him and looked at the image once more. "That's a male, husband."
"Are you certain? It keeps wearing feminine clothing and looks rather fetching in it... for a monkey." Jor-El allowed. "Granted it's rather reckless and keeps getting into situations where Kal has to pull her out."
"That's not much worse than the shrewish harpy," she replied mildly. She rather thought his brunette co-worker was rather sweet on him, despite her temper.
They settled in to view more, but she perked up as she noticed what her son was doing on the display, "You were complaining about Kal's lack of technical skill earlier? There. He is creating a tool."
Jor-El dialed the view in closer. "Looks like some sort of primitive wrist-mounted sonic device. Perhaps for attracting canines? I wonder what he intends to use it for?"
"See?" She said soothingly, hoping that this would finally quiet her husband's complaints. "He is capable of doing more than hitting."
"What is he... he is giving it to the redhead. I told you she was a female." Jor-El crowed. "Possibly as a courtshi- what is-" Jor-El's face turned livid as he realized what was happening on the display.
Lara winced as her husband shot to his feet and unleashed a stream of profanity that she was not even aware he knew.
"He is giving it to his reckless redheaded monkey! He is giving it to the monkey so that he can be summoned like an eager canine when it's master has put itself, through it's own rampant stupidity, into danger!" He roared. "I have no son! That... that... whoever that is on the screen can not possibly be the fruit of my loins!"
She rose to her own feet and slapped him sharply, unable to stay the impulse. "Sit down."
He dropped back into his chair. Stunned. "What was that for?"
The shock of his declaration had been almost too much for her. She wondered if this was the moment he would decide to kill her. He had never before suspected her of infidelity. To do that one needed to actually have noticed one's spouse.
She had never strayed, but now he had all but accused her of it. Of course, she knew he would never understand why she'd been so offended. He never would. She groped around for some way to make him understand before finally settling on something that would at least make sense to him in context, "What sort of scientist reacts to the data before he has all the necessary information?"
He stared at her then sighed, his cheek reddening with her palm print. "I... you are right, wife. I apologize for losing myself. It was... a shock. I hadn't realized that you understood so much about Science. By all means, let us see more."
She huffed and settled back into her seat as another scene unfolded. Everything about it was unfamiliar, but she knew right away what it was. A wedding. She gave a silent smirk of triumph. She was right. The one her husband referred to as the 'harpy' had won the battle for her son's hand. She eyed her future daughter-in-law thoughtfully. Despite his physical gifts she acted as though she were his equal in every way. A good marriage then. She smiled at that, she envied her son that, even as she thanked Rao that he seemed to be getting a good match.
Jor-El asked curiously, "That is a marriage, correct?"
"It looks like one, yes," she replied.
"Why would he marry the shrewish harpy? The near-Kryptonian with the massive frontal development was much more ideal genetically!" He asked petulantly. "I'm almost certain even the damn dirty magical mud woman would be better!"
She rolled her eyes. She knew he didn't understand. It could not be measured or quantified, but she answered anyway, "He didn't love either of them."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Jor-El asked blankly.
She turned away from him to look at her son and his new wife on the screen. It was that or have to hit Jor-El again. She smiled broadly as she realized that he had taken after his alien father in this regard. Such enthusiasm. Such sweetness.
"What are they doing that for?" he asked finally, unable to puzzle some of their actions. "Is... is he trying to couple with the shrewish monkey?" He asked in indignant horror.
She sighed, "She is his mate now. I think it's sweet that they would spend such time together."
"But... they're genetically compatible!" He complained, "It's..." His jaw dropped and his head twisted to one side as he attempted to follow a complicated maneuver Kal was doing in mid-air. "Why is he doing that? It does nothing to improve his chances of procreating!" He added after a moment's thought, "They have no chances of procreating!"
She rolled her eyes and replied finally, "It's for fun. Your complete ignorance of this explains why we do not couple any more often than once every few months."
He frowned in confusion, but shrugged it off. Turning his attention back to the display as he skipped ahead even more.
Jor-El asked, "What is-?" they stopped dead as they saw a gray-skinned hulking creature with bone spurs growing all over its body. "That looks like the failed Kryptonian doomsday experiment that was sealed in the science vaults."
"What is it doing on this planet?" Lara asked with concern as the creature tore through her son's friends.
"I don't know! There is no way it should have been able to escape!"
"This is one of yours, isn't it?" She asked sharply.
He ignored her question. "It... why is he hitting it? Why does he keep rushing in to hit it? Does he have no weapons?" Jor-El cried out with increasing frustration.
"He is trying to keep it from reaching the city where he has been living in." She said softly. This seemed... different from his other fights. She had seen him confront beings that seemed a match for his power, but never something with such elemental rage. Even here, years in the past, she could practically feel the blows they hammered into each other.
"All he does is hitting! He could have hurled it into orbit! Why is he trying to punch it to death?"
"Shut up." She said sharply, her attention riveted on the display. She could feel it. She could tell. He was weakening. Dying. Her breath caught. There was nothing she could do for him here.
Jor-El pointed at the display, shaking a finger angrily at her son's heroic struggle. "Brainless, thuggish brute! He's displaying as much intellect as the experiment! Why is he doing that?"
Lara knew that to him this was simply an affront to his Kryptonian dignity. He did not care, she knew. He did not care that their son was facing death. When the final, inevitable blows came, the bestial failed experiment fell, Lara wanted to cheer, but she could see her boy. Her son had fallen as well. His mate held him, cradling his body as she cried.
"He died... to that." Jor-El said flatly.
Lara tried to dry her eyes. It had not happened yet. It was years and years away, but she could not help herself. She kept a somber silence as Jor-El skipped ahead bypassing the funerary rights.
He shook his head in disbelief. "That is to be our legacy. A mindless, thuggish brute who died in violence."
"Wait..." she called out sharply, pointing to the display. "What is that?"
Jor-El made a dismissive noise, "Perhaps the monkeys aren't entirely primitive after all. They appear to have managed to create a clone offspring of Kal-El."
She tried to still herself. "A grandchild. We have a grandchild. He is as handsome as his father! Although his haircut is terrible." She added mildly.
Jor-El chortled, "Oh! Even better! He was produced through the use of the bald one's genetic material! The best their race has to offer coupled with the best ou- what is he doing!"
"It appears that he too is hitting things." Lara said with almost vicious satisfaction. "He takes after Kal."
"This cannot be!" He cried, dialing the Time Telescope back. "That does it. I must know how this state of affairs comes to occur! We cannot see past the six months of interference, but we can see around it, I am certain!" He began making adjustments, mumbling and grumbling to himself as the view tilted and whirled crazily on the display.
Lara, shaken and drained rose from her seat and walked into Kal's nursery. It was late and he slept soundly, but she lifted him from his bassinet and cuddled him close, inhaling deeply.
He smelt faintly of sweet milk and his breathing tickled her cheek. He was alive and warm and in her arms. He was not dead on an alien world at the brutal hands of one of Jor-El's failures. He was here and now and she had to remember that. Perhaps there was a way to escape that fate, but she was not certain if she could trust her husband to find it.
After a long moment she put him back down, preparing to change into her night clothes. As she stepped out of the nursery she found Jor-El, now fully dressed, running for the door. She frowned and asked, "Where do you think you are going at this time of night?"
"I need to gather some additional information. I should be back before too long." He said, slapping the door open. "I suspect there may not be much time." He added before allowing it to close.
Of course he would leave, she thought to herself. She could not rely on him for anything else, why should she expect him to give her emotional support for their son's death? Well, it was an impending death. Years in the future. She sighed. She needed... something... someone... some comfort. She stood staring sightlessly at the Time Telescope.
Kal was asleep.
Jor-El was not home.
She had access to the Time Telescope. She placed her hand on the console and pulled the images up once more. She had wanted... no needed... to see some more images of her son's alien father engaged in filthy animal couplings with his mate. It would be therapeutic. It would also let her forget. Her hands betrayed her as they pulled the image of her son's death once more.
It was from another angle, but it was unambiguously that moment. She sighed, preparing to shift the view once more when she noticed something... strange.
It was a man, watching the scene. It was one of Kal's friends. A blonde, well-muscled man who wore blue and gold. He'd been beaten and all but crippled mere minutes ago. The genetic scanner indicated that it was indeed the same man, but now he was fine. His outfit was whole and there was something different in the cast of his features. It was that same man in gold and blue, but he seemed older somehow. More mature. Not physically. She zoomed the image in closer til his eyes filled the image behind their gold goggles.
His eyes were older. Old and infinitely sad. She recognized the look in his eyes. He was mourning for her son. She pulled the image back once more.
The first blonde man was still where he'd fallen, blocks away, bleeding. Broken. The other version of the same man, the older one, was watching Kal's mate cradle his lifeless form. Or he was, until she realized that his attention had been diverted. He was looking right at her.
She frowned, then shifted the Time Telescope's locus of observation. Coincidence, she told herself. As the image refocused, his head swiveled once more. He was looking at her.
Their eyes met and she recognized the look he had. Helplessness. He knew what was happening and could do nothing to change it. The same as her. The same look and he was staring her straight in the face.
She blushed. She knew it was impossible, but his gaze was so... intent. So focused. She whirled the control back, sending the view away from that place. From that moment.
Lara's breath caught as she realized that the view had shifted to the day of her son's nuptials. The man was there again. In blue and gold, with a star on his chest. He was there in two places again. The older was looking at her. Straight at her. She started, whirling the Time Telescope's view away once more.
Now it was a battle. The bald man held her son at bay with a green glowing ring. He looked pained and powerless. On a whim, she panned the view around and... there he was again. Looking frustrated and more annoyed than anything else. The blonde man shook his head, crossing his arms. It was clear that he meant her son no harm. If anything he seemed to be... watching over her Kal. A guardian across time.
She liked how that sounded. She liked how he looked.
She spent the next few hours skipping through time, watching her son's life and in every key moment she found him. Her Gold Star man keeping watch over Kal. Every time their eyes would meet and she would find a new moment to observe. Somehow no one in the scene ever registered his presence. She could only speculate that he must somehow be like her. Keeping watch over him across time. Aware of her son's ultimate fate and unable to change it, but keeping the watch none the less.
Somehow she could take comfort in that. So much comfort that she'd even forgotten to tune in on any filthy animal couplings.
She woke with a start to her husband's voice calling to her. She had fallen asleep in the nursery reclining chair, Kal peacefully resting on her chest. After the time she spent watching the lovely Gold Star man
"Lara! I found it!" Jor-El called once more as he burst into the room. His loud voice startled little Kal awake who gave voice to his displeasure with a loud cry. Her husband at least had the good grace to at least look embarrassed as she soothed and calmed her son.
She rose to her feet, still bouncing Kal in her arms and shot Jor-El an annoyed look. "What is it husband?" She asked sharply. Noting that it was an hour before dawn.
"I found a way to see around the interference." He said. His expression was unsettled and grave. "Silence the child and I will show you."
"He does not come with an off switch." She replied, ignoring him in favor of continuing to calm Kal down. His cries had fallen off to whimpering, his head resting on her shoulder once more as he nuzzled against her.
"It is urgent." He said obviously fighting the urge to drag her out into the receiving area. It was only Kal's presence and the possibility of reawakening the boy that seemed to stop him. "I know what happens. I know why Kal was on that other world and why every attempt to see our future just shows nothing but rocks and dust in space."
"Yes?" She prodded quietly.
"Krypton is going to explode." He said grimly. "I cannot pinpoint it precisely, but sometime within the next few hours to the next few days some sort of chain reaction within Krypton's core will tear our world apart.
She gaped. "Are you certain?"
"Once the Time Telescope was able to provide me a visual reference I was able to requisition seismographic readings for the entire planet. There is no doubt in my mind." He said, pausing for a moment. "Our world is doomed. This also explains why we could not view anything from within a six month span of the explosion. It generates too much interference for the Time Telescope to lock on to. The only other explanation for the interference is much too ludicrous to even consider. It would involve something tearing apart the fabric of time itself." He gave a hollow laugh.
"We must do something, then." She said, holding Kal even closer to her. This made far too much sense. This certainly made more sense than Jor-El, as ineffectual and incapable as he was, murdering her.
"There is nothing to be done." He said with a morose sigh. The usual manic, spastic energy she had come to associate with Jor-El was not present. The knee-jerk reactionary had given way to what? This pale and shaken shell of a man. "Even if I bring this to the Science Council this very moment, they will insist on examining every scrap of evidence I present to them. That will take at least a week and we do not have that much time. There is no time for anything," He finished sadly.
"You have a device that lets you see past and future," She replied. "Your fellow counselors all have secrets they would not wish to be revealed. Use that for leverage."
"But... that would be-"
"Using scientific observations to better the Kryptonian people." She said sharply, finally disgusted by his despair. "It is in your charter as a Science Counselor. Act like it."
He shook his head, "Even with that, even if we could unite all of them behind the truth of what is about to happen... there is nothing we can do. It is too late. In the time that remains to us, we can accomplish nothing, beyond inciting a panic. Better that the rest of Krypton die with dignity."
She glared at him. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps there truly was nothing that could be done. They would die and it would be soon. But not all of them need die. She cradled Kal in her arms and spoke, "The second rocket prototype. Is it complete?"
He looked puzzled for a moment at the sudden question, "No, it is hours away from being functional." Light dawned in his eyes as he realized what she had in mind. This came as a surprise to her, given his general obliviousness. "No! I forbid it!"
"Surely you must see! If we can not save anyone else then we should at least save our son!" Lara argued.
He shook his head over and over pulling at his hair in frustration, "No! Never! I refuse to allow Krypton's final legacy to be a violent, oversexed, barbarian thug! It would shame hundreds of thousands of years of Kryptonian dignity if all we left behind was one blithering punching thing! He must stay here! With us!" His voice turned cajoling, "Wouldn't that be better? We could spend our final moments together... like a family."
"You know nothing of family," She answered coldly.
"You are being unreasonable." He said in his 'reasonable' whine. "He would die anyway! At least if he stays with us, he shall die with dignity! Not being punched to death by Krypton's failures!"
"We all die in the end." She replied, holding her sleeping son up to look at him. "At least this way he will have had a life. He will know love. He will know laughter and joy." She glared at Jor-El, "He will know a life away from you."
"No!" His voice had gone far beyond petulance now. There was an edge to it. He was terrified, he realized. What there was of Jor-El was clinging to his self-control only by the barest of tatters. "You saw what that creature will do to him! Better to spare him that! Better to spare our world the humiliation of his failures! In the end it will make no difference, but at least this way he will die with us."
Her grip on Kal tightened, unable to take anymore of Jor-El's voice. She simply shook her head, unable to speak. She would not deny him his chance at life. The chance she did not... would not have.
"I have spoken." Jor-El said with cold finality. Petulant, arrogant, oblivious and childish though he was, even he managed to make his words ring with gravitas. "I am your husband and the head of this household. I forbid it. He will stay. With us. He will die in the bosom of his family and the dignity of our race will be preserved."
She stared at him uncomprehendingly. She should have known this would be his response. Had she been more subtle, perhaps she could have brought him around to her way of thinking, but he was stubborn and now that he'd picked his position, was not likely to budge. She looked once more upon the angelic, sleeping face of her little Kal and knew there was only one thing she could do to ensure his survival.
She turned to the caretaker robot and said, "Safety override code 31. An intruder has broken into Kal-El's nursery with the intent of harming him."
"What are you doing?" He cried.
"Restrain the intruder!" She said, pointing to Jor-El. The robot sprang into action, tackling him and pinning him to the floor. Her husband struggled weakly, but he had not put on any muscle since the not-so-long ago days when their peers chased him and beat him for his arrogance and presumption. His ineffectual flailings were no match at all for the robot.
Lara stepped around the tangled pair, still holding her son and closed the door and locked it from the outside. Putting another override that Jor-El did not know over the standard security code. He might have been the Science counselor, but she was a housewife. She knew every device in her home like the back of her hand.
Well, she mused, perhaps a housewife no longer. This was as good as a divorce, but if they were to die soon anyway, then she would do it away from Jor-El and his petty arrogance. She had spent her whole life being shaped by Kryptonian society. Dutiful daughter. Faithful wife. Doting mother. That last one she did not mind at all, but she was tired of those roles. There was not much time left, but in the time she had, she would do as she pleased for a change.
She entered his lab. Normally his sanctum, but she came in here anyway to tell his assistant robots to clean up after him or to move his latest experiment into the cluttered area. She locked the door behind her. This would be the final step.
The various robots came to attention as she entered and she spoke to them. "You did work on a small interstellar craft a few months ago. The one that was used to send our dog into space. There was a second prototype in the lab, where is it?"
One of the robots, the oldest who served as a sort of foreman for Jor-El's projects pointed to the rocket dangling by chains from the ceiling. "Estimate time to completion?" She asked.
"If constructed to previous specifications, work will be completed in three hours." It said mechanically.
"As you command."
She sat on one of the numerous benches scattered around the lab and watched. And waited. The first earthquake hit then. A mild tremor, but she knew that it heralded the end.
Kal woke up well after the first hour and she spent the rest of the time waiting for the construction to complete playing with him. He cooed happily at her and reached out tiny hands to pat at her cheeks, while she alternately made faces or blew wet raspberries into his stomach. He loved that.
The play was really as much to distract them both as it was her spending her last moments with him. The quakes had increased in intensity, getting to the point where small unsecured objects around the lab were falling to the floor and rolling around. So they played and Lara tried to forget everything for just a few moments more.
"Ma'am." The foreman robot reported to her side.
"Are you done?" She asked, realizing belatedly that there were tears running down her cheeks. Kal was sitting in her lap extending happy hands out to the robot.
"We have completed as much as we are able to."
"What does that mean?" She asked in confusion.
"There are no prepared navigational crystals. The Master did not program us with the information to complete such a component."
Her blood ran cold. "What would happen if the ship launched without it?"
"It would launch with no difficulties, ma'am, but it would have no programmed destination. It would drift."
She had to get him to that world. How? She had no knowledge of such things. She glanced over her shoulder at the door to the lab. Jor-El would know how. She would need to find a way to coerce him. She rose to her feet, cradling Kal at her hip. Her stride was determined. The door was locked and she was just about to open it when another quake hit. This one even stronger. A massive crack appeared in one wall and she could hear the sounds of the city outside rising in a panicked wail.
She recovered her feet and shook her head. So little time. Jor-El would be stubborn, but she had to be ready to do whatever it took. She steeled herself and grabbed a tool from one bench. She didn't know what it was called, only that it was metal and heavy and would hurt a great deal when swung at someone's knees.
She would save Kal, no matter what. Jor-El had no idea what real violence was.
That was when the noise that was not a noise occurred.
It sounded almost exactly like the Time Telescope's static and yet was absolutely nothing like it. It was coming from behind her. She spun, pulling Kal closer to her and raising her makeshift weapon at the source of the noise.
Before her, stepping out of a distortion in mid-air was a familiar man in blue and gold, with a star featured prominently on his chest. His hair was a bright gold and flowed distractingly. His musculature, which was barely contained by his outfit, was athletic and lean. Beside him floated a small golden... thing. It seemed to be a robot of some sort, but she had never seen one that size sporting anti-gravity. Him. It was him.
He looked surprised to see her and began to say something, but it was in an unfamiliar language. She brandished her tool at him threateningly. He responded by smacking the little robot with the back of his hand and suddenly his words made sense.
"Sorry... you weren't supposed to be here." He said hurriedly. He seemed embarrassed. It was those same eyes. Her son's guardian.
"You're the Gold Star!" She said accusingly.
He seemed taken aback. "I... wait, where did you hear that name?"
"I had to call you something. You were wearing gold and you had a star. I couldn't call you Green Lantern."
He grumbled in an annoyed fashion. "If I had a dollar for every time someone mistook me for the Green La-" He cut himself off when he realized that she had moved in close. Her weapon had been discarded to the floor and her now empty hand was touching his chest. She still had her son cradled in one hand as she touched him.
"You're real. I'm not dreaming." She murmured, pressing closer to him than propriety would normally allow for.
"Er... no. I'm really real. Yep. That's me." He said a little uncomfortably. "How did you recognize me?"
"I've seen you. Watching over my son all his life." She replied. "Guarding him." She ran her hand over his chest.
"How did yo- You were the temporal distortion?" He asked in surprise.
"We'd been wondering what that was." The small floating robot responded.
"You... you could see me?" She asked.
He nodded. "Not all that clearly, but yeah, we could detect when you were there." He gave a roguish grin and winked at her, "If I'd known you were this beautiful though, I wouldn't tried harder to get a clear view."
She blushed prettily and stepped away, "You're just saying that."
"You know, your son would probably kill me if he knew I'd said that." He laughed.
"Booster," The robot said, "We really should get on with it."
Startled out of her thoughts, she turned to the man once more. "You went through a lot of trouble for him, didn't you?"
"He's... he's very important." He replied, taking a step back. "To everyone."
"To you, personally?" She asked, catching hold of his hand.
"I..." He hesitated for a moment before answering, a slight, embarrassed flush on his cheeks that she found adorable. "Yeah. I was a jerk for a long time. He gave me an example. You know? Something to aspire to."
"You looked up to him?" She held Kal up who smiled brightly at the man in gold and reached little hands out to him.
He obliged the child by holding a finger up for Kal to grasp at. "He changed my life." He said softly and she knew that he meant it.
She smiled at him. "You're a good man aren't you?"
He coughed, still blushing. "I'm here to make sure he gets to Earth," he said finally.
She blushed back, cuddling Kal closer. He did have a very nice smile. "How will you do that?" She asked, catching hold of herself.
He proudly held up a crystalline spike in one hand. "Navigation crystal."
"And you just came back here for this? Just to make sure he makes it to your world?" She asked incredulously.
He shrugged with studied nonchalance, "Part of my job is making sure things happen the way they're supposed to." He walked over to the almost completed ship and handed the crystal to the foreman robot who proceeded to install it.
He dusted his hands, then spread them. She found herself enjoying the obvious pleasure he took in everything he did. "All done."
"Is this truly how things are supposed to happen?" She asked him faintly, walking closer to the ship. The hatch was open and the padded chamber where Kal would sleep for his trip was prepared for him.
He shrugged. "Who knows? Time and history work out strangely sometimes."
She couldn't help but smile at them. He had made it possible to save Kal. But now that the moment was arriving, she couldn't bear to part with him.
He winced, patting ineffectually at his skin-tight, deliciously skin-tight, she added to herself. "Aww, I'm sorry. Look, ma'am. Please... don't cry. He'll... he's gonna do really well. The family that take him in is gonna love him and he's-"
The little robot floated up to him somehow having produced a handkerchief. He tried to hand it to her, but she shook her head, "I know that. I know. It's hard." She hugged him close and his little hands tangled with her hair.
She gave him a small, coquettish smile and playfully slapped his chest. "And don't call me ma'am. I'm younger than you are."
"Technically, no." He chuckled.
Another small quake struck and she almost fell, were it not for the blonde man's hand on her shoulder helping hold her up. She recovered her footing, leaning heavily on her son's time traveling friend. "I wish I'd been able to give him something to remember me by." She murmured sadly.
"It's probably not exactly the same, but the Navigation crystal has personal messages from you... and a Jor-El for him," the blonde man said.
"How can that be?"
"Stable time loop," He replied offhandedly. "I'm not even sure where it came from initially, but forty years from now Superm- Kal's home is going to be leveled. One of the things he loses will be the navigation crystal. I find it and bring it back here so that it'll be there again in forty years for me to bring it back here."
"But you say there are messages from me and Jor-El on the crystal?" She frowned.
"Different Lara. Different Jor-El. They're a happy couple." He shrugged, weakly. "I wish I could offer you more than that."
"Skeets," he addressed the little robot, "Do you have a record of what was on the crystal?"
"Indeed, sir. Observe." A small beam shot out from the robot's front, creating a hologram of a woman who could have been Lara's twin. She spoke but Lara was too shocked to truly make out what she was saying.
"Did... does... will he know that I loved him?" She asked finally.
He smiled warmly, "Of that, he never had any doubt."
The foreman robot interrupted them before she could ask anymore, "It is complete. Launch will need to be initiated, as further earthquakes will damage the launch structure.
She nodded mutely, laying Kal in the chamber. She kissed him. She was unable to find anything to say and in the end only murmured, "Be good, Kal-El. I love you."
The blonde man produced the red blanket which should have been in the nursery from thin air. "Here... he's gonna need this." He said, passing it to her.
She tucked Kal in and allowed the foreman robot to close the chamber as another quake struck. She spoke sharply to the robot. "Launch! Launch now!"
She staggered, her footing lost as the entire building shook. The blonde man, pulled her entirely into his arms, such strong, firm arms they were, and held her to him as he floated off the floor.
He held them steady even as everything began to shake itself apart. "I think this is it." She murmured, turning her head to bury her face into his chest. The material of his outfit was slick and metallic, but she could smell a clean masculine musk coming off of him.
"Actually, there'll be another couple of minutes." He said apologetically.
She smiled weakly up at him, "You saved my son's life and I don't even know your name."
"Most people call me Booster. Booster Gold." He said, smiling for her. It lit his face up. "My real name's Michael though." He added.
"My-kal." She said, savoring the unfamiliar syllables, before turning a shy smile up at him, tears were still wet on her cheeks. "I am glad you are here. I do not think I could take this alone."
"At least he will live for a while." She ineffectually wiped at her tears.
"We should probably get going, sir." The robot, Skeets suggested. He stuck close to them. She noticed that he seemed to have some sort of field that was keeping the falling debris from harming them. Jor-El's lab robots rolling around on the floor did not have any such advantages.
"If I am to die anyway, may I have a last selfish wish?" She asked him shyly. The thought had been rattling around her head since she had locked Jor-El in the nursery. She truly was free now. In the last moments of her life she could do as she wished. And she wished to live a little.
"Sure." He replied. "If I can give it to you."
"You most certainly can." She murmured, feeling terribly wicked as she pulled him down for a kiss.
He had a stunned and pleased look to his face. She had managed to muss his hair in the minute or so that they had been kissing and it had been terribly good. She wanted more, but there really was no time anymore.
"Are... you hitting on me?"
She frowned lightly, "That sounds painful. What does that mean?"
He blushed deeper and said, "Um... attempting to... uh... use sexual wiles on... me."
She grinned at him, "Is it working?"
"Maybe?" He said with a weak grin.
"Then yes." She shook her head, "I am sorry if that was terribly forward of me." She murmured.
"Uh... no, feel free."
"It's just been a trying time lately."
"No, I understand. It... um... can't have been easy."
He smiled weakly at her, neither of them quite ready to let go. She said after a moment, pressing her hand against his chest once more, enjoying the feel of the solid muscle beneath his uniform. She finally spoke, "You should go. I... I suppose it is my fate to die here then. There was more I wished to ask you for, but we do not have the time."
"Well..." He said slowly and thoughtfully. "Fate doesn't say it. History says that you die here. On the other hand, history is wrong a lot."
The robot seemed agitated at that, "Sir, I advise against that course of action! This moment is a fixed point in the time line."
He flashed a grin and Lara felt momentarily weak in the knees. Just as well he was carrying her. "Hey, she's supposed to die here... any mention of how old she is when that happens?"
Skeets seemed perplexed by the question, "Uh... the histories are quiet on the subject."
He grinned, "Open up the portal. We need to get out of here."
She brightened and clung tighter to him, "So we will have some time to ourselves after all?"
"All the time in the world." He said grandly sweeping.
"Good. Because I need you to demonstrate upon me the filthy animal coupling that they perform on your planet. You know the sort, correct? That is both enthusiastic and tender and will last longer than a minute."
"Uh... I... I can see what I can do."