Lois had known that Richard was bringing Ron and Clark from the office, her fiancé being allowed to work until the day of the wedding. The reminder set Lois’ teeth on edge, but knowing that they would have the two weeks following this to themselves did a bit more for her morale. The boys had also picked up the twins from school, and they were currently chasing each other around the huge space, Jason in his Official Ring-Bearer t-shirt and Kala proudly wearing her Flower Girl tracksuit. Ron and Clark were supposed to be outside somewhere, setting up those decorations for tomorrow, although most of the reception decorating would be done the morning of the wedding. Tomorrow, Lois thought, biting her lip.
She forced her attention back to the present, determined to take this moment by moment. Watching Jason and Kala dodge adults gleefully, their mother sighed. All things considered, the two of them had been remarkably well-behaved throughout the last few weeks. And really, could she blame them for their excitement? Every effort had been made to make the twins a part of this event, up to and including a unity candle for both the adults and the children.
Just then, Jason nearly collided with the florist and Lois was forced to put an end to their little game. “All right, enough, you two,” Lois called, crossing the grandly-decorated room to her little balls of energy. “Me and Daddy already told you that you had to behave. No running. C’mere, you two. I swear it’s like I adopted you from the zoo or something…”
“Can Captain Jack be in the wedding?” Kala asked breathlessly as she ran up to her mother and jumped into her arms for a hug. “Betcha they make tuc’cedas for ferrets!”
“Gazeera too!” Jason called, latching on to Lois’ leg. For a moment, Lois staggered at the onslaught of twin before she righted herself. Thank God they hadn’t decided that they both wanted to be held in her arms at once.
If the mere notion of the upcoming wedding made her queasy, this just made it worse. “Hell no, no animal mascots of the apocalypse at the wedding,” Lois said, kissing Kala’s cheek before letting her slide down and kissing Jason on top of his head. Just as the two of them began to fuss about calling their pets that, Lois stopped and seemed to think about it seriously for a moment. “No, wait. Now that I think about it, sure, Kala. I bet everyone would love it if I threw the weasel into the crowd instead of the bouquet. And instead of tossing the garter, Clark could toss the lizard.”
Both twins crossed their arms and frowned up at her, mirroring the stern position that Kal-El used when scolding their mother. So used to them mimicking her, Lois had to laugh at the sight of Kala and Jason both in the ‘Annoyed Superman’ pose. “Mommy! Don’ be mean to Cap’n Jack!” Kala pouted.
Lois just snickered, then caught sight of the person to blame for those godforsaken beasts being in her life in the first place… “Perry! You know one of these days I’m gonna throttle you for buying my kids wild freakin’ animals as pets!”
“What now?” the older man groused as he came toward her, one arm around Loueen’s quite expanded waist. “Did that little bitty lizard nip you again? I swear, Lois, you used to be a tough-as-nails reporter, but the last few months I’ve had more whine from you than Napa Valley produces annually.”
Lois growled incoherently, but not even that could mask her obvious affection. “You realize Loueen saved your life, right, old man? If she hadn’t slipped up and caught pregnant, I wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about strangling you with your own tie. Now the kids want their pets in the wedding. Thanks a freakin’ lot.”
“Slip up, hell,” Perry retorted, tousling Jason’s hair and kissing Kala’s cheek. “She planned this. Didn’t you, you scheming minx?”
“You love it, you crusty old sonofagun,” Loueen teased right back. “Lois, you should’ve seen him with the baby name book the other night – it was actually cute.”
“Woman, I’ve never been cute in my life,” Perry protested just a little too much.
“Sure, Chief, you were born with a cigar in your mouth and a scowl on your face, and your first words were, ‘You call this a maternity ward?’ Riiiight,” Lois snarked, one hand on her hip as she grinned at him skeptically.
“Shut up, soon-to-be Mrs. Kent,” Perry growled.
“Mrs. Lane-Kent, thank you very much,” Lois shot back heatedly, that left eyebrow arching.
Before she and Perry could really get into their usual round of acidic banter, Lana caught her elbow lightly. “Perry, Loueen, thank you both for being here,” she said smoothly. “Unfortunately, we can’t start the rehearsal yet. Ella and Lucy aren’t here; they were having car trouble. Kay’s on her way to get them, but until then, I need to kidnap Lois for a few minutes. May I?”
“Sure,” Perry said with a genuinely fond smile for his niece. “Stab her with a pin for me, will you? Might let out some of the grouchiness.”
Loueen just rolled her eyes. “Oh dear God. If we don’t stop them they’ll grouse at each other all day. Lois, scram.”
“Do I have to?” Lois grumbled as Lana led her away, the twins tagging along.
Lana noticed that Richard was trying to unobtrusively follow them as well. Trying to sneak a glimpse of the dress, which so far they’d managed to keep all the men from seeing. “Hey, Jason, sweetheart? Why don’t you and Richard go check on the caterers for the rehearsal dinner for me?” She gave Richard her most charming smile, and added, “If you could, love, make sure the guest book and the commemorative silver platter are up front. Oh, and check on the place cards…”
“Hey, I thought we eloped so I didn’t have to deal with all of this,” Richard said.
“No, we eloped because you didn’t want to give me the chance to run away to Italy again,” Lana replied. “Besides, you got married without having to worry about all these details. The least you can do is help Clark and Lois – especially considering his other obligations?”
With a grin, Lois added, “Forget it, flyboy. That dress is staying top secret until tomorrow afternoon. Don’t make me call security.”
Sighing, he admitted defeat. “C’mon, Jason. Help your poor Daddy Richard get through this madness.” With hugs and kisses for their mom and Lana, he gladly went with him.
“Nosy devil, isn’t he?” Lana commented, all three of them watching the boys go. “All right, Lois, come on. Looks like the coast is clear. Soonest begun, soonest done.”
They hurried toward what was normally a small conference room, which had been commandeered into the bridal room because it connected to the larger space. Kala had kept hold of her mother’s hand, grinning; only the girls were allowed to see the dress before the actual wedding, and she had been absolutely arrogant about the privilege. “Can I wear my dress?” she pleaded. “It’s so pretty.”
“It is very pretty, but not half so much as the little girl who’s going to wear it tomorrow,” Lana told her. “Wait one more day, sweetheart. We want it to be a surprise, remember?”
“I think Daddy’s gonna like Mommy’s dress,” Kala whispered. “But I think he’s gonna like the first one best.”
“He’d better,” Lois muttered, while Lana chuckled. It had been Kay who absolutely insisted that Lois have two dresses – the first and only L. Lang original bridal gown would not be worn to an outdoor reception. So a second gown had been purchased and altered, something slightly more in line with the mothers’ expectations. On one thing, though, Lois utterly refused to compromise: the reception gown was also ivory, not white.
They were headed for the makeshift bridal room and found the bridesmaids already there. “Figured you might need a lookout,” Cat said. “The boys have been trying awfully hard to see the dress, haven’t they?”
“Thank you,” Lana said as she shepherded Lois and Kala inside. Cat, Tobie, and Maggie followed them in, the Star reporter leaning against the door protectively. “Clark’s been behaving, but Richard acts as though we have the Ark of the Covenant in here or something.”
“It’s driving him nuts that his wife designed a dress for his ex, and he hasn’t seen it,” Maggie told her. “These reporters can’t stand a secret. They’ll risk their lives to find out whatever you tell them they’re not allowed to know.”
“Amen,” Lois, Cat, and Tobie all said at once. Lois gave a snort of laughter, and then caught Lana’s meaningful glance as the redhead carefully unzipped the garment bag containing The Dress. Just seeing it brought the jitters back, although she refused to let the others begin to guess. “All right! Sheesh. Lana, it’s got a corset back – it’s meant to be adjusted. Can’t we leave this ‘til tomorrow?”
“No,” Lana said. “Lois, it’s not that bad. C’mon, hurry up.”
As the raven-haired reporter sighed theatrically and started unbuttoning her blouse, Tobie grinned evilly and said, “Hey, I’ve got a couple twenties in my purse. Want me to wave ‘em at you so you feel more at home?”
The ensuing conversation got Lois out of the dress suit she’d been wearing and into the bridal gown quickly, but even Cat was slightly disturbed by the amount of profanity she knew was only averted for Kala’s sake. “All right, lighten up, you two,” she said at last. “Miss Munchkin there is gonna start thinking that Mommy and Aunt Tobie aren’t really friends.”
“And this innocent Midwestern girl might lose her hearing,” Lana said, adjusting the long, lacy skirt. She moved on to the corset-style back of the dress and commented, “It’s a wonder your children haven’t acquired a taste for soap.”
Kala, who had dismissed the irritated grumbling as business as usual between the rival reporters, piped up to remark, “Both our daddies say not to use Mommy’s driving words. Ever. ‘Cause they’re really, really bad an’ they know we’re not bad kids so we shouldn’t use bad words.”
“Thanks for the news-flash, Kal,” Lois retorted, casting her daughter a sardonic look as she tried to stand ram-rod straight.
Cat grinned and hugged Kala as she misapprehended her mother’s comment and preened. Lois just snorted and shook her head as the blonde woman praised her child. “Sounds perfectly logical to me. Smart girl, listening to your Daddy – both of them. Clark never swears, does he?”
“Never has,” Lana responded, not looking up from her task. “With the possible exception of damnation. Neither do I, as a matter of fact, and you’ll be shocked to learn it’s possible to make yourself understood without cursing.”
“That look on Lois’ face means she’s resisting the urge to bellow something that would set your tender little Kansas ears on fire,” Tobie said drolly, as Kala scuffled her feet and looked reproachfully at her mother. “Some of us just feel the need to blow off steam every now and then, and swearing is better than shooting your boss.”
“Amen. You have no idea how often that’s saved Perry’s life.” Lois heaved a sigh, and that little bit of relaxation made it clear that she had, indeed, lost a pound or two.
She might as well have committed treason from the look the designer gave her. “Didn’t I tell you not to lose weight?” Lana scolded, lacing up the back of the wedding dress more tightly. “Lois, you fret too much.”
It was clear from the uncomfortable look on her face that Lois was aware that she had done it, too. Extreme stress always had that effect on her and this week definitely went into the ‘stressful’ category. “Did you just say ‘fret’ in a sentence that didn’t involve guitars?” Lois snarked back, changing the topic. “What the heck is up with Smallville, anyway? Does the local TV station only run shows from the fifties or something? Next thing you know you’ll be trying to get me to swap recipes or something.”
“Only if I want my kitchen to explode,” Lana told her, grinning. “Although I’d gladly pick up that pumpkin cheesecake recipe if you’re willing to share…”
“Bite me, cheerleader,” Lois retorted.
“You do realize that your only insult is incredibly outdated, right?”
The bridesmaids all snickered at the pair of them. At first, Tobie and Cat hadn’t quite believed that Lois and Lana were really friends. It sounded like a strange way to befriend someone, by marrying their ex, but it seemed to have worked for the two women. Mutual respect and admiration were very much evident, and unlike the rest of Lois’ friendships, the relationship didn’t border on combative. Even Tobie and Cat, her long-term friends, had to admit that Lois’ competitiveness and keenly sarcastic sense of humor could be a little abrasive at times. But Lana seemed able to shrug off Lois’ sharp remarks without needing to respond in kind, and Lois in turn curbed her tongue around the redhead.
Not that Lois didn’t pull her chain, as well. It was just that she didn’t do it so hard. Making a face, she shot back, “Well excuse me if I can’t give a proper comeback to Ms. Oh-So-Virtuous-and-Pure. You could’ve worn a white dress…”
“And did,” Lana returned the volley easily, grinning as she pulled the laces tight. “In spite of the fact that I kissed your husband back in high school.”
“Yeah, and we all know I kissed your husband, too. For the last three years.” Her tone was superior until they saw her flinch, Lana putting a little more pressure on the laces. “Hey, I need to be able to breathe.”
“You need this dress not to fall off halfway through the ceremony. And the funny thing is, Richard’s never complained. Imagine that.” Everyone saw Lana’s little grin and Lois’ unamused glare over her shoulder at her. “Okay, take a deep breath for me.”
“He’s not stupid enough to tell you that,” Lois muttered under her breath to save face, obeying with a heavy sigh. The dress fit just tightly enough through the body, but was not uncomfortable. “Are we done here?”
Lana walked around her, eyeing the dress critically. “Thankfully we won’t have to take in any of the seams. But you listen to me – if you lose another ounce I will be very disappointed in you.”
“Okay, mother,” Lois said, glaring at her. “What am I, six?”
“I am!” Kala said, beaming.
“And amazingly, you’re better behaved than your mom,” Lana said, ruffling Kala’s hair lightly. “Okay, hair down. Let’s get an idea of how the final look of it will be, even if we don’t have the veil with us at the moment.”
“Hey Lois, were you that cute at that age?” Cat asked, sharing a conspiratorial wink with Kala.
“Almost,” Lois replied as she pulled her hair out of the topknot it had been in, shaking the length of it out so it fell around her shoulders. Catching the wistful look of awe her daughter was eyeing the dress with, she smiled fondly at Kala. One of my little miracles, she thought, looking at that small face. “But I think my little girl there far exceeds any record of cuteness I ever set. Love you, baby.”
That caught Kala’s attention, making those hazel eyes meet hers. “Love you, Mommy.” The huge grin that broke over those rosebud lips made Lois momentarily forget about all of this wedding nonsense.
Until suddenly the bridal room door came open, almost knocking Tobie over. She whirled around and grabbed the frame, holding the door nearly shut and also blocking the view of whoever was outside. “Who the hell… Oh. It’s you.”
“Hi,” Richard said. “I’m looking for my wife – the decorators have a question for her. Mind getting out of the doorway, Raines?”
Lois groaned, rolling her eyes. Just when they were almost done… “I knew it was too good to be true. Richard, for the love of God, you can wait five minutes! We’re busy in here!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Tobie purred in her most saccharine voice. “The bridal room is girls-only … Dick. Don’t worry; we’ll be done in a second.” The way she smiled at him was merely an excuse to bare her teeth; Tobie was the only one of Lois’ friends of whom Richard had never approved, and the feeling was definitely mutual.
“Stop it! Stop it right now! Tobie! Richard! It still applies!” Lois yelled.
The Star reporter got her meaning instantly, giving a disgusted sigh, but it took Richard a second longer to remember. “Oh for the love of… Lois, c’mon. No way.”
“You’re saying no way?” Tobie hissed, wrinkling her nose. “Sick.”
“Then knock it off, both of you,” Lois retorted. “This is my wedding rehearsal and I don’t want you two stirring each other up. So can it.”
Richard gave a long-suffering sigh. “Hey, Lana – when you get done here, come back to the Land of the Sane, please? We miss you.”
“Goodbye, Richard,” Lois called in her most firm tone, staring at the half-open door in vexation. “Your wife will be out in a minute and so will we. Close it, Tobie.”
Tobie shut the door on him, muttering, “You don’t even have a summer home in Sane, you psychotic flyboy.”
Lana just arched an eyebrow at her as she helped Lois out of the bridal gown. “That is my husband you’re talking about, Ms. Raines.”
“Oh crap, you used my last name, watch me tremble,” Tobie replied sarcastically. “Look, I’ve never gotten along with the guy – and he started it.”
“Yes, but you could stop it,” Lana pointed out, keeping her voice neutral. “You bait him, Tobie. I’ve watched you do it.”
“Yeah, well…” Tobie began, only to get cut off by Lois.
“Lana, forget it. It’s no use. There’s a sure-fire cure for what ails them both,” the Planet reporter said, with a glare for Tobie. “And they both know what it is and that I have no problems reminding them what it is.”
“In his dreams,” Tobie snapped. “And my nightmares.”
“Enough, girls,” Maggie finally said. “Lana’s got a point, Tobe. You do egg him on, and if you wanted all this nonsense to stop, you could make that happen. And quite frankly, I’d be delighted if you would stop harassing him.”
“Okay, fine,” Tobie said grudgingly. “I’ll try to be civil to him. For your sake, Mags. If it was just Lois I’d drive him nuts just to tick her off.”
Now it was Kala’s turn to utter that long-suffering sigh. Those little arms were crossed again when Lois looked over that her child. “How come everybody’s mean to Daddy Richard?” Kala asked her mother worriedly, her lower lip pouting just a bit.
But it was Lana who answered her. “Aunt Tobie and Daddy Richard have way too much in common for their own good,” she said, ignoring Tobie’s indignant squawk and the knowing chuckles from everyone else. “With that, everyone, it’s time to go out there and rehearse. If Ella and Lucy aren’t here yet, we can at least get started blocking things out.”
That was met by groans from everyone but Kala, who cheered and started looking around for her little flower basket.
“Someone get her a top hat and a whip,” Richard muttered, rearranging the rows of chairs. “I didn’t know I was marrying the ringmaster of this circus…
“I need a little more clearance down the central aisle,” Lana called out. “Thank you, love. Clark, hon, if you’re finished with the podium, give Richard a hand, please?”
“You’re welcome,” Richard called back, and gave Clark a long-suffering look over his shoulder. “I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, you know that?”
“Maybe I’ll autograph your plane,” Clark joked gently, grinning as he set the chairs in the next row back a little farther. “Seriously, though. Thank you.”
“Yeah, well, I still haven’t gotten a look at that damn dress,” Richard groused. “No one else has, either, and the girls won’t say anything except how awesome it is. And none of the groomsmen has any idea – except Maggie, and she won’t tell, either.” Giving Clark a speculative look, he added, “I know you haven’t stolen a look … that doesn’t bother you?”
“Not at all,” Clark said. “I’ll see it tomorrow. In the meantime, I trust Lana’s sense of style. Besides, I’m marrying Lois, not the dress. She may never wear it again, but I’ll see her every day.”
Richard just shook his head. “How the heck can you be so calm? I mean, you’re patient about the dress, you don’t mind being ordered around by my wife and the two moms, and you even get along with Raines. It’s like you’re some kind of Zen god or something.”
“Technically, none of the Buddhist faiths have gods,” Clark informed him. When Richard gave him a speculative look, Clark just smiled. “I studied all the major religions – it was part of the world culture lessons from my father. I couldn’t limit myself to understanding just one society, even if I do spend most of my time here. This planet is my home, not just this country or this city.”
“Heavy,” Richard remarked. “Next time I write an article, I’m gonna call you a citizen of the world.”
“Lois did it eight years ago, shortly after we met. May 11th, page four, third paragraph. That was the fifth interview.”
Richard had to stop and stand up, staring at Clark. “Perfect recall, too?”
“Does she know that?”
“And she still argues with you, knowing you can quote her chapter and verse if she contradicts herself?”
Clark leaned on one of the chairs, chuckling to himself softly. “Nothing stops Lois from something she wants to do. It’s one of the reasons why I love her.”
Richard just stared at him for a few moments longer, shaking his head slowly. “Man, if you weren’t my hero before, you are now. I know Lois, and in some of her moods, wanting to marry her qualifies you for sainthood.”
“Boys, a little less chatting, a little more chair-arranging, please,” Lana called out. “I don’t know about you two, but I’d like to get done so we can all have dinner…”
They both looked at her and shared an amused laugh, redoubling their efforts on the seating. Perry and Ron came to lend a hand, and even the bridesmaids got involved, complaining the entire time. The only person missing was the bride; Lois had taken the twins out for a walk. They hadn’t seen Clark on his way in to help with the interior decorations, and he was starting to miss his fiancée.
Once the aisle was widened to Lana’s specifications, everyone got set up to run through the rehearsal one last time. “I’ll just go find Lois and the kids,” Clark said quickly, shoving his glasses up. He hurried off to the garden to look for them before anyone could stop him, wanting a moment with his family before they all got swept up in the mad rush to get things done.
His family. At last, he and Lois and the twins were finally here; tomorrow they would be a family in fact as well as in the heart. He had legally adopted the twins, at last silencing that little bit of doubt caused by the blank lines on their birth certificates, and both children had elected to take his name – though they didn’t exactly give up being Lanes, either. Kala was hyphenating like her mother, and Jason had taken Lane as his middle name. With tomorrow’s ceremony, they would officially be the Lane-Kents, and it wouldn’t be a moment too soon for Clark.
He found the three of them just outside the doors, Lois sitting on one of the benches in the garden while Kala and Jason chased each other, blowing bubbles with stolen wedding favors. Clark smiled to watch them, remembering the discussion a couple of weeks ago. Lois had blanched when she’d seen the cost of environmentally-friendly dissolvable rice, but Lana had insisted that they would not have a bunch of exploding pigeons to herald their wedding. Lois had completely lost it, laughing so hard at the image that Lana had to thump her on the back, and they had gone with a mixture of bubbles in bell-shaped containers and the bird-safe rice.
Clark must’ve chuckled out loud, because Lois turned to look at him, tossing her hair over her shoulder. She had been a little shy the last few days, the enormous reality of all this crashing down on her, and he half expected her to be coy now. But Lois saw the grin on his face and smiled in return, the bright and open smile she so rarely wore. Seeing that, Clark glanced around for witnesses, and finding none, he rushed to her side and swept her into his arms.
Lois yelped, clutching his neck as he kissed her, and both twins laughed as Daddy spun Mommy around.