Conscious thought broke down at the sight of Lois – his fiancée – in that stunning dress, coming up the aisle toward him. This was real, his most cherished dream coming true at long last. Only the carefully repeated rehearsals of yesterday got him moving.
They met just at the first row, both of their mothers watching them with unabashed tears in their eyes. But the couple had eyes only for each other, as Perry solemnly handed Lois over to Clark. For a moment, he held her hand and gazed into her eyes, and Lois managed a tremulous smile.
Clark tucked Lois’ hand into his elbow as they proceeded up the shallow steps of the dais. He chuckled, very softly, and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. That helped Lois recover her equilibrium enough to whisper, “You may wanna pick your jaw up off the floor…”
Squeezing her hand again, Clark smiled at her, and for a moment the bridal party all understood just how Lois had fallen in love with him. The purity of love between them made them radiant in that moment, and their twins grinned at them in delight. Jason and Kala were excited to be up front with the adults, practically quivering with glee.
Lori smiled at them proudly as they took their places before her. “Friends, we are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses, to join Clark Kent and Lois Lane in matrimony, which is a most exalted union and therefore is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly – but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this hallowed estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If anyone can show just cause why they may not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
She paused for a moment, long enough for Clark to notice his mother dabbing at her eyes, and for Lois to think, If that bald-headed bastard Luthor comes strolling in right now, I’ll kill him with my bare hands. I will not let anything stop me now.
No one spoke; nothing disturbed the ceremony, and Lois let out a tiny sigh of relief as Lori opened the book she carried. “Sonnet 116, by William Shakespeare,” she said, and read in a clear, even voice.
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fixed mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle’s compass come;
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
It had seemed the perfect choice of reading for this ceremony, considering the tempests Lois and Kal-El had weathered. But Lois couldn’t help thinking that having Shakespeare read at her wedding would mark her as a romantic forever.
Lori closed the book and looked out at the guests. “Love – true love – is a precious thing, and marriage is the ultimate expression of that love. The vows made here today are not mere words; these are the promises of the heart, made out of love and respect and the desire to honor one another, and as such the ceremony of marriages deserves its solemnity and grandeur.” She took a deep breath, and gave Clark and Lois both a quick, encouraging smile as she continued. “Two hearts cannot become one, two minds cannot fuse, and two lives cannot merge seamlessly, for two separate people cannot become one without one becoming lost in the other. You are entering into a partnership of equals, one that will compromise and sacrifice from both of you if it is to work.” Hazel eyes met cerulean, and for the moment both of them were thinking the same thing: Lady, you have no idea.
“This ceremony will not grant you an instant happily-ever-after,” Lori cautioned them. “There will be trials ahead of you, as there are in every relationship. But the commitment you make today, the vows you swear to uphold, will hold you together throughout those storms. And then you will find that those oaths, far from being a binding shackle, are the strength that supports you both.” She said the last sentence with a knowing glance at Lois, and after a moment of silence nodded to the pair.
Clark took a deep breath and reached for Lois’ hands. The veil was no barrier to his vision; he could see the tears standing in her lovely hazel eyes. He had been terrified that he’d forget the vows they’d chosen at this crucial moment, but one look at the face of the woman he loved erased all of his anxiety.
“I, Clark Joseph Kent, take you, Lois Joanne Lane, to be my friend, my lover, the mother of my children, and my wife,” he said, his hands trembling and his voice catching slightly on the last word. “I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care for and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity.”
Lois had to take another deep breath, knowing her hands were shaking worse than his, and only looking directly into those amazing blue eyes kept her from panicking. “I, Lois Joanne Lane, take you, Clark Joseph Kent, to be my friend, my lover, the father of my children, and my husband,” she said, managing not to betray her nervousness or the surreal feeling that washed over her. Was she really doing this, really marrying the literal man of her dreams? “I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care for and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity.”
Both of them sighed in relief; they’d done it, neither of them had messed up the words or passed out, and Clark hadn’t been called away by duty. It was all downhill from here…
“And now, the exchange of rings,” Lori prompted. Jason had started to yawn during the first long reading, and Ron had lightly tapped his shoulder. Now, at his cue, he stepped forward and held up the white satin pillow with the two rings tied to it with ribbon. Clark untied the white-gold band reverently; this had been Martha’s ring. The inside was still engraved with ‘Jonathan & Martha’, but there was just enough room for ‘Clark & Lois’ as well. Offering their rings had been a special gesture from Martha, to let Lois know once and for all that she was welcomed into the Kent family.
He took Lois’ left hand and gently slipped the band onto her ring finger, saying softly, “I give this ring as my gift to you and symbol of my love. As this ring is a circle without end, so is my love for you unending. Wear it and think of me and know that I love you, this day and forevermore.”
Lois gulped, biting her lip to keep from crying. This is supposed to be a happy occasion, you twit, she scolded herself. Keep it together. It took her a little longer to untie what had been Jonathan’s ring, but Jason’s broad grin steadied her, and she stroked his hair once before turning to his father. Surprisingly, her voice didn’t shake as she repeated, “I give this ring as my gift to you and symbol of my love. As this ring is a circle without end, so is my love for you unending. Wear it and think of me and know that I love you, this day and forevermore.”
Their hands clasped for a moment, the rings with old and new names touching each other. As Martha and Ella both rose from their seas, each taking a candle from the candelabra at the end of their row, Lori said, “Clark and Lois are going to light their unity candle as a symbol of their marriage. The candles from which they light it represent each of them, with the wisdom and love they have received from their parents.” She paused for a moment, letting the mothers light the tapers beside the central unity candle.
Lois and Clark each took up a taper, and carefully bent them to the wick of the central candle. It was inscribed with both of their names as well as Kala’s and Jason’s full names, and as the new flame sprang up Lori continued with the recitation. “They come into their marriage as individuals and they do not lose their identity. Rather, they create through their commitment the bond of family. Therefore, the three candles remain lighted, one for each of them and one for their united family, as symbols of their commitment to each other and their children, and to a lasting and loving marriage.
“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories?” Lori asked. “From ‘To Be One with Each Other’, by George Eliot. And now, by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” She gave them the blessing of her smile again, and said lovingly, “You may now kiss the bride.”
Clark lifted the veil reverently, seeing Lois on the verge of tears. As many times as they had kissed – once with an audience nearly as large as this, that time when they’d announced their relationship to the office – he was still nervous now. Leaning down slightly, he met her gaze with all of his profound love shining in his eyes. Lois tilted her face up to him, lips curving in a smile just before she closed her eyes.
They kissed, tenderly at first, but this couple had never been able to kiss without putting their hearts into it. Lois’ arms slid up around his neck as he kissed her more deeply, and the entire room broke into thunderous applause as the guests spontaneously rose from their seats.
Lois pulled back slightly, looking up at Clark in amusement. All the nervousness had vanished at the touch of his lips, hearing her friends clapping and the twins giggling. Knowing he would understand, Lois murmured, “Do you think for once they could not interrupt?”
Clark laughed, resting his forehead against hers, and simply luxuriated in having her in his arms at last.
“Food, glorious food,” Jimmy muttered, picking up another cannoli. “Man, they went all out, didn’t they?”
“Four kinds of cheesecake,” Richard informed him, grinning. “I almost forgot what it tastes like.”
“Shoo, I starved for this dress,” Lucy said, elbowing him aside affectionately. “Wasn’t that the loveliest wedding ever?”
“Incredible,” Ron agreed, passing her a pair of strawberries painstakingly dipped into white and dark chocolate. The resulting pattern made the berries look as if they were dressed for a wedding. “What I don’t get, though, is how she managed to get a second dress for the reception.”
“It was more like what the moms wanted,” Cat said, flashing Jimmy her brilliant grin as she snagged the cannoli off his plate. He hadn’t been able to look directly at her since she’d caught the wedding bouquet … and the tossed garter had landed right on him while he wasn’t even trying to catch it. “Besides, the wedding dress is a custom-created L. Lang original. No way are they gonna risk someone pouring wine on it. You should’ve heard Kay howl.”
“Yeah, that dress is worth a down payment on a house,” Tobie said, strolling up to them. “And I don’t know about you all, but I’m damn glad they didn’t do that nonsense of smearing cake all over each other’s faces. I don’t think I could’ve respected Lois anymore. You have tasted the cake, right? It’d be sacrilege.”
“Since when have you ever respected Lois?” Richard asked, and Ron elbowed him hard.
“Flyboy, I knew her before she’d ever heard of you,” Tobie reminded him. “And I do respect her. I respect any woman who, at the age of seventeen, could bankrupt four pool-hustlers older and supposedly wiser than herself.”
“Ancient history,” Cat said. “Besides, Richard, we all love Lois. She and Tobie only fight because they’re too much alike, personality-wise.”
For once, Tobie and Richard were content to let it drop, especially since they heard the announcement being made that the bride and groom were about to have their first dance. The wedding party made their way over to the covered area set aside for dancing, as the band got ready.
The bride and groom had each chosen a song, and Lois’ was to be played first. Almost everyone expected Clark to step on her toes a couple of times; only Jimmy and Perry had seen them dance at the Pulitzers, and both of them were hoping for that same grace to suddenly manifest here.
Lois and Clark took their places, and she looked up at him with a little smirk as the band began to play. Neither of them had told the other which song they picked, and he didn’t recognize the first verse. But the refrain caught his attention, and he grinned as they danced.
There once was love thrown into your room
But you never knew
A calendar of days just for you
But you never knew, never knew, no
And the truth that you’ll find will always be
The truth you hide
So how do you love, how do you love
When your angels can’t sing, and your world is still
Lacking of me
There once were eyes that only saw you
But you never knew
A portrait of a flower in full bloom
But you never knew, never knew no
And the words that you fear will always be
The words you hear
This space where you’ve been living
Has gifts you’ve never given
That’s the face you always show
Ask me for words of wisdom
Tell me of your condition
I don’t know, I don’t
I don’t know
And the truth that you’ll find will always be
The truth you hide…
To everyone’s surprise, Lois and Clark danced well together. They looked simply perfect, with him in the handsomely-tailored suit and her in the reception dress, having kept the tiara but taken off the veil. As Richard beamed at them, he felt a hand tap his arm lightly, and turned to see Lana beside him. He kissed her; no words could express how happy they both were for Lois and Clark, and how that happiness was unexpectedly free from any bitter taint. With his arm around her shoulders and hers around his waist, they watched the dance with unalloyed joy … as Lana quietly stole his cheesecake. Some traditions had to be maintained, after all.
Lois beamed up at Clark; the song spoke of how nearly she’d come to losing him, and the pain of separation they’d both endured. But they both knew how they had survived it, never quite giving up on each other even in the darkest hour. There was a brief pause while the band changed gears for Clark’s song.
The first few bars sent shivers down Lois’ spine, and she stared up at him, tears pooling. He didn’t…
Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams
He did. Lois burst into tears, shocking Clark, and he pulled her off to one side, trying to soothe her. The twins, meanwhile, had heard ‘their’ song being played, and they joyfully took over the dancing area. They were used to the slower, softer lullaby, and this upbeat version of the song gave them a chance to shake loose the pent-up energy of having stood still during the long ceremony. Kala especially had to twirl with every line, her dress flaring out around her.
“Lois, I’m sorry,” Clark whispered, stroking the tears from her eyes.
“It’s okay,” she sniffled, and then laughed. “I just never… This was like my anthem of loneliness, and you just made it a thing of joy.”
“You’re sure?” he asked anxiously.
“Yes,” she replied, and kissed him. “I love you so much…”
“No more than I love you.” He kissed her forehead gently, stroking her raven hair, and whispered, “I’m still almost expecting to wake up… I can hardly believe this is real. We’re really married.”
Tilting her face up for another kiss, Lois murmured, “You’re really mine at last.”
“Mommy!” the twins yelled, Kala adding, “C’mon! You gotta dance!”
“Yeah!” her brother exclaimed. “It’s our song, you gotta!”
“Our keepers bellow,” Lois said, and they returned to the dance pavilion. As it turned out, Clark had actually requested two songs. As soon as You Wildest Dreams ended, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere began, and Lois laughed out loud.
The rest of the reception was everything the wedding party could’ve wished for. Jimmy, once he’d eaten his fill, roamed the hotel gardens with his camera, snapping candid shots of the guests. It seemed as though everyone danced at least once; Lois wound up dancing with Perry as well as the groomsmen and Richard. Jimmy himself had to hand over his camera for his dance with the bride, during which he blushed furiously.
He got some lovely pictures of Richard and Lana dancing together, and when Loueen politely excused herself, he even managed a shot of Perry and Ella dancing. Lois was clearly visible in the background, with her hand over her mouth and a tender expression on her face. The Chief was actually smiling, making that photo one Jimmy would definitely keep.
But the perfect photograph was one of the last. Lois and Clark had gotten away from the revelers for a moment, and they had paused beneath a tree. Jimmy had to zoom to even get them in the frame, and it was still clearly a long-distance shot, but so perfectly composed. Lois’ arms were around Clark’s neck, the two of them standing close and gazing into each other’s eyes, and the shot had even captured a lovely bridge over the pathway in the background.
Not even the fact that Lois had taken off Clark’s glasses and was holding them in one hand could mar the beauty of the picture…
Lois stifled a yawn and tried to stretch surreptitiously; she felt ten pounds heavier thanks to all of the rich food. “Let’s see if we can sneak out,” she whispered.
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Clark replied. “I don’t think anyone’s watching that little gate at the back of the gardens. We can double back and ask the front desk to bring the car around.”
Grinning like a couple of schoolchildren, they eased away from the crowd. No one seemed to notice, and the moment they reached the gate, Lois bolted through, laughing. Clark followed her, catching her hand and pulling her close, both of them chuckling at their own silliness. “Wonder how long it’ll take them to realize we’re gone?” he asked.
“Richard won’t notice ‘til the food’s gone,” Lois said confidently. “I’m sorry we didn’t say goodbye to the twins one more time, though…”
“Me, too,” Clark replied. “But I don’t really want to be pelted with rice.”
“Uh, remind me whose idea – other than Lana’s – it was to buy the expensive-as-heck ecologically-sound rice?” Lois scolded as they continued to run.
They made it around to the front just in time to see a black limousine pull up to the hotel’s port-cochère. They’d known that Richard and Lana were arranging for a rental car to drive them to the hotel in Montreal, since Clark supposedly disliked plane travel. That little story neatly covered for the fact that Superman found it extremely difficult to get off a plane in mid-flight without being noticed, and his dread of being trapped in that situation lent authenticity to his claim that he didn’t like flying. He’d fly if he absolutely had to, but let everyone know that he preferred to drive any reasonable distance rather than take a plane.
But this wasn’t just a rental car, it was a stretch limo, complete with ‘Just Married’ written on the back window and streamers flying from the windows and bumper. “They didn’t,” Lois said, coming to a halt suddenly. “Oh, Richard…”
“We did,” Lana called, just then leaving the front door of the hotel. “The last thing you need on your honeymoon is a long drive, so we got you the car and driver. You two can pick up a rental to drive around the city once you’re up there, but the trip itself should be a chance to relax.”
“And the car’s big enough to stretch out in, if you catch my drift,” Richard added from behind them, sounding just slightly out of breath. Lois and Clark turned around, only to see half the wedding party with Richard, all of them grinning manically.
“You didn’t think you’d get away with sneaking out, did you?” Tobie asked.
“CAUGHT YOU!” Kala yelled. She and Jason came tearing out the front doors of the hotel with the rest of the wedding party and the guests behind them. Lois and Clark literally had nowhere to run, and rice rained down on them as everyone laughed and cheered.
Some of the guests had bubbles instead of rice, and those bright glimpses of iridescence surrounded the couple as they ran for the car. Laughing – and getting in a last handful of rice herself – Lana hugged them both and kissed Clark on the cheek. “You two have fun and don’t worry too much about home,” she admonished.
Ben hugged Clark, beaming with pride. “Your daddy would’ve been very proud of you, Clark. She’s one helluva woman.” Clark returned the hug unreservedly, murmuring his thanks; the remark about Jonathan had touched his heart.
Ella swept Lois into a hug next, whispering, “I’m so proud of you, baby girl,” into her ear. Stifling a sob, Lois hugged her back hard and told her she loved her. Meanwhile, Martha was hugging her son and wishing him well. The twins, over-excited and full of sugary treats, bounced around hugging everyone, but Jason and Kala managed to give extra hugs and kisses to Mommy and Daddy Clark. The rest of the family and close friends managed to squeeze in for hugs, getting pelted equally with bubbles and rice by the rest of the guests.
Richard gave Clark a bear hug, muttering congratulations, while Martha hugged Lois. Then Ella hugged Clark and kissed his cheek, and Richard swept Lois off her feet into a hug, swinging her around while she screamed in surprise. He set her down only to kiss her forehead, grinning at her without a trace of bitterness. “Good luck, you surly caffeine addict,” her former fiancé said.
“I guess it’s true what they say,” Lois replied, looking up at him lovingly. “The journey is worth the destination. We both got off at the right exit, huh?”
“Yeah, babe,” he told her. “I don’t have any regrets about us – it got us both to where we are now. And even if you’re not my wife, I still love you. Always will.”
Lois lifted her chin in spite of tears gleaming in her eyes, and she gave him that trademarked thousand-watt grin. “Right back atcha, Richard. No regrets.”
He hugged her again, adding softly, “And I really do love you more now that I know the real you. Good luck, Lois. Go on, have fun.”
Lana held the door for them both, giving Lois a quick kiss on the cheek as she got in the car. “I’d say don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, but…”
Lois burst out laughing as the door closed, shaking rice out of her hair. Clark caught the back of her neck and pulled her close for a kiss. Lois smiled, hearing their audience whoop as the limo started to pull away, and she glanced back through the rear window for one last look.
The wedding guests had spilled out into the driveway that led under the port-cochère, and everyone was waving: their mothers, Perry, the Daily Planet staff, all of their friends… But right out in front were Jason and Kala, jumping up and waving frantically. “Have fun at Mon Tree Hall!” Jason yelled, just as Richard caught him and held him up. Lana did the same for Kala, and that was Lois’ last view before the car turned the corner.