By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com>
Submitted September 2000
Summary: It's Lois and Clark's wedding day, at last. Everything is just perfect; nothing can go wrong… or can it?
Wendy: I think I've now come to the conclusion that *nothing* is too difficult for Tank to resolve in a few pages! I've tried several serious WHAMs now in an effort to test him to the limit of his abilities, and he's escaped from every dilemma. Faster than a speeding bullet, more smoothly than a flying Superman, Tank rushes to the rescue and gives our heroes a happy ending. Whether it's a near-fatal car accident, a kidnapped child and Kryptonite, or the crisis in this story, he is never at a loss for a solution. Though I must confess that I'm grateful that his inventive mind didn't take the hint in my title and send Lois and Clark off on the same paths as Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester! Now, that would have been angst-filled all right, wouldn't it…? Hmmm… Nice one, Tank, and again it's been a pleasure working with you!
Tank: I'm assuming that any gentle reader who is looking this story over is familiar with the incredible works of Wendy Richards. And one of the things all the gentle readers know about Wendy is that she likes to write loooooong stories. It's some sort of disease she has, coupled with an ability to type really fast, you can understand her unbelievable output. With this latest challenge Wendy thought she'd be sneaky and write me into a corner where she figured I wouldn't be able to get out quickly. Once I saw it I realized if I couldn't come up with some sort of quick solution, I'd be stuck with a long drawn-out angst-filled conclusion that I would never be able to complete in one instalment. I think you can guess what Wendy wanted and what I wanted. After she completed her set-up, I immediately went away for the weekend. By allowing the story to percolate for a few days I was able to come up with something that I thought would work. Something that would answer the 'little problem' she posed, yet would allow me to escape without composing a mini-epic. Once again, gentle readers, it's up to you to determine if I was successful. Read on… if you dare.
Comments more than welcome at either or both of the addresses below. All characters are copyright their respective rights- holders, and no infringement is intended by their use in this story.
Minor editorial comment: for any eagle-eyed readers who notice spelling differences between Tank's part and Wendy's, that's because he writes in US English and she writes in UK English. And since there was (intentionally) no collaboration in the writing of this story, we have decided not to harmonise our spellings.
Reader, I Married Him
A Wendy and Tank Challenge Fic
Lois drew the eyebrow pencil across her brow in one final delicate sweep, then stepped away from the mirror; her mother and sister helped her to step into the beautiful raw silk wedding dress in which, today, at last, she was going to marry Clark.
Clark Kent, the man she loved more than anything else in the world, who was quite simply essential to her heart and her life; the man she'd never thought she would find. She loved him quite desperately, and he was equally in love with her. He was her partner at work, her best friend, and in a few hours' time he would also be her husband.
And *then,* a few hours after that, they would finally make love.
They'd waited, and at times it had been sheer torture for both of them; Lois's frustration had only been made bearable by the knowledge that Clark was equally frustrated and longing to make love with her. They were both nervous; not just because it would be their first time and, as with all first times, there were expectations neither was sure they could live up to. But Clark was additionally nervous because, as he'd told her a few months ago, he'd never gone that far with a woman. He'd wanted to wait for someone special; he was glad that he had, but she knew it made him nervous because, although he knew all the theory, he was scared that he might not come up to scratch in practice.
And, conversely, she was nervous *because* it was not the first time for her; all her previous sexual encounters — not that they were all that numerous — had been 'federal disasters.'
But there was one other big reason why both of them were nervous about taking this final step, and that was that Clark was not only Clark Kent, farmer's son from Kansas. He was also Superman, the strongest being on the planet. He was an alien from Krypton, and although physically he was built identically to a human male, neither of them knew in what ways he might be different. He didn't think that he functioned any differently in that respect, but how could they be sure?
Still, Lois mused as her mother fussed at her hair, they intended to have a lot of fun finding out.
It had taken them a long time, lots of misunderstandings, one failed attempt at getting married, and a separation which they'd feared could be permanent, before getting to this point. Now, finally, they were on the verge of being husband and wife.
She removed her engagement ring, sliding it onto her right hand as was the custom until after the wedding ceremony, at which point it could join her wedding ring. The solitaire diamond glittered, catching her gaze and her attention, and she remembered again the exact moment when she'd let Clark put it on her finger. It had been after she'd had his powers transferred to her, and for a few days she'd been thrown in at the deep end, having to play a Super-hero. It wasn't a life she would want for herself, and she knew that, even if a means could be found to give her permanent Super-powers to match Clark's, she wouldn't want them.
What the experience had given her, though, was an understanding of what it felt like to be on the receiving end of every cry for help, every disaster call and every shriek of agony. She'd learned how Clark felt when he didn't manage to save someone; the despair and self-doubt he felt when even all his powers were not enough. She'd understood the pressure of being needed in several places at once, and how hard it was to prioritise. And most important, she'd learned the importance of a support structure: a loving, understanding partner who was there to comfort and love her when she needed it. Clark had done that for her when she was UltraWoman, and she had every intention of doing that for him for the rest of their lives together.
Her father called from downstairs to say that the cars had arrived. This was it; in under half an hour she would be walking down the aisle towards Clark. Her best friend, her husband-to-be, and her Super man.
"Clark, stop pacing or you'll wear a hole in the floor!" Martha Kent exclaimed in exasperation as she watched her son stride back and forth across the living-room of his apartment. Her caution was no exaggeration; Clark Kent, also known to a very select number of people as Superman, could indeed have that effect on the solid floor.
Her son ran a hand through his hair, disturbing the effect he had created earlier when getting dressed. "Sorry, Mom. It's just… oh, I can't help feeling nervous about this!"
"Not having second thoughts, are you, son?" Jonathan asked, concerned.
"What?! Oh no! Dad, I love Lois, and there's nothing I want more than to have her as my wife!" Clark insisted. "No, it's not that. It's just that… well, I've been through this before, and then I found I'd married — someone who wasn't Lois. That was a horrible experience. I still can't believe it took me so long to figure it out!"
Martha smiled encouragingly. "Clark, honey, we know how awful that was for you. But, this time, everything will be fine. You know this time it'll be Lois walking down the aisle to you. And the two of you will have a wonderful wedding and a very happy life together."
She was right, Clark knew. He had to get over this sense of impending doom; it wasn't doing him any good. Lois was fine. She'd called him only a couple of hours ago, sounding cheerful and very much looking forward to their wedding. And it *had* been Lois. He'd been unable to resist asking her a couple of questions only she'd know the answer to, just to convince himself; she'd seen right through his strategy, but had been very understanding of his irrational fears.
He loved Lois. Loved her so much, and he just couldn't wait to be married to her. And to take advantage of being married, he thought now with a slow smile. They'd decided to wait until they were married before making love. It hadn't initially been a conscious decision; it had just sort of happened, and it had been some time before they'd actually discussed it. Clark knew he'd been nervous, which was one reason why he hadn't pushed anything, but he'd suspected that Lois was nervous too. She had certainly seemed to be holding back. When they'd finally discussed it, he'd been relieved that she'd admitted to skittishness, since that had made it much easier for him to admit to the reason for his own anxiety on that score. She'd been… surprised, but very quickly that had turned to regret that he would not be her first lover. Not that *that* mattered to him — in fact, in a way he was glad that at least one of them would have some knowledge of the practicalities. But tonight he was determined to prove to her that they made the perfect couple in every way possible.
Clark smiled at the thought. By tonight, he and Lois would be married, and he just couldn't wait.
She sat in front of the dressing-table mirror, checking the state of her make-up; on this very important day, it was imperative that she look her best. Yes, everything was as it should be; no hair out of place, her eye-shadow and blusher and lipstick all used to create the perfect look. The expensive designer suit, with shoes to match.
She was going to be the most beautiful woman at today's event; and since she planned to upstage the bride, that was just as it should be.
It would teach Clark Kent to ignore her and treat her the way he had, that was for sure. He deserved to be taught a very sharp lesson — and he certainly would be today. He had treated her abominably! He'd trampled all over her feelings for him, and behaved as if she was a person of no account. And yet she'd loved him, and would have stayed with him and made him happy had he shown any sign of caring for her in return. But he'd abandoned her; turned his back on her and sacrificed her for that Lane woman.
Didn't he realise how much harm she could have done him, had she chosen? After all, she was one of the very few people who knew his secret: that he was Superman. Had she chosen to do so, she could have sold her story to any one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of tabloids and TV programmes which were always desperate for news of Superman. She could have destroyed his life, and that of his so-called fiancee along with it.
But she'd kept his secret. And how had he repaid her? By abandoning her, dumping her for another woman, ignoring her existence. And now he was planning to *marry* that Lois Lane!
Well, that was one wedding ceremony which was not going to happen.
She got to her feet, smiling in satisfaction. This was going to be a just *wonderful* day.
The organ swelled, and Clark turned his head; his instincts had been right. He'd thought he heard Lois arriving a couple of minutes ago, had felt sure he'd heard her heartbeat. She was here.
And she looked beautiful. Her dress was sheer perfection, the expression on her face making her look even more radiantly beautiful than usual. And she was walking down the aisle to *him*. Lucy walked in front of her, and Sam Lane beside her, but Clark only saw Lois.
She turned to smile at him as she came to a halt beside him, causing his heart to skip a beat. *How* he loved her! And she loved him; she'd shown him in so many ways how much she loved him. He was going to spend the rest of his life making her happy.
Clark barely heard the wedding service advancing, making his responses to the minister automatically. Although he looked ahead, all of his concentration was focused on the woman standing to his left: hearing her breathing and heartbeat, watching her out of the corner of his eye, revelling in the smell of her, that unique fragrance which was Lois; just delighting in her nearness and the fact that, within minutes, they would be married.
The minister moved on with the ceremony. "…if any person here present knows of any just cause or impediment why these two should not lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak or henceforth forever hold their silence."
Clark turned his head slightly towards Lois, grinning in response to her automatic smile. This part of the ceremony gave them a short breathing space, a chance to connect, before the minister moved on to the exchange of vows.
But suddenly there was a rustle of movement, and footsteps sounded in the aisle. Frowning, Clark turned just as the minister asked, in a critical tone, "Is there something you want to say, miss?"
A voice Clark never imagined he would hear again replied, "This wedding can't go ahead."
Clark heard Lois's shocked gasp, to him louder than the collective gasps of the congregation, as the minister demanded, "Why not?"
"Because," the woman drawled, coming closer to the chancel steps and now clearly recognisable as the double of Lois Lane, the clone who he'd named Clois, "Clark Kent is already married. To me."
"Clark Kent is already married to me."
Silence, like a shroud, descended on the congregation. Lois stared, aghast, at the slender woman smirking at her from the aisle of the church. Lois watched as she calmly approached the altar. She was impeccably dressed in an outfit that Lois could easily envy. Her hair was a little longer than Lois', and she wore a hat with a brim that partially obscured her face, but there was no doubt in Lois' mind as to who it was. It was the clone. The woman who had substituted for her at that other aborted wedding. A genetic copy of herself, grown by Luthor, as one last strike back at her, Clark, and Superman. A woman who, in the end, had done the right thing and had sacrificed herself to save Clark. A woman who was supposed to be dead!
"Young woman, what is the meaning of this?" The minister seemed quite flustered. "What do you mean, Clark is already married to you?"
Lois tore her gaze away from the clone who had been, after the fact, dubbed Clois, and turned it on her partner. "Clark?" She noticed that he continued to stare at the woman as if in shock. "Clark!" Lois gave him a nudge.
He seemed to come back to reality, quickly looking at Lois, then the clone, then back to Lois. He looked out at the congregation as the undercurrent of muttering and whispers began to grow. He saw the perplexed look on the face of the minister. He opened his mouth, closed it again, then after a second opened it again.
"Ah — could you excuse us for a moment, pastor." Clark grabbed Lois' and Clois' arms. "You don't mind if we borrow your vestry for a moment, do you? Thanks ever so much."
Clark steered the two ladies into the small room to the left of the altar and closed the door behind him. He purposely tuned out the hubbub of confused conversation taking place outside the door. He released the arms of the women and stepped back to look at the clone, who had taken her wide-brimmed hat off. From the slight gasp next to him, Clark could tell that Lois was seeing the same thing as he was.
The clone was striking. She wore her hair differently, but she was the absolute image of Lois Lane. He cursed his traitorous body for reacting to the sight of her as he would his own dear Lois. He felt Lois sidle up next to him and slide her arm through his, which helped relieve some of the tension.
Clark took a deep, calming breath. "Okay, what's the meaning of all this? Why are you here?" He shrugged helplessly. "How are you here?"
Clois leaned back against a small table that occupied one corner of the tiny room. "What, why am I here trying to upstage your wedding? Or why am I not dead?"
"You and Luthor died in that cave-in." The words came hesitantly from Lois' mouth, as she couldn't help but think that if one had survived…
Clois slowly shook her head, letting the longer locks swing in front of her face. She raised her head and there was a fire in her eyes. "No, I didn't die, no thanks to you." Her words were quiet, yet laced with a venom that Clark could almost feel as they were directed at him.
"But I saw you die." Clark struggled with his words. "You died in my arms."
Clois' laugh was ugly. "I passed out in your arms. You never bothered to check to see if I was actually dead!" Clois stood and pointed an accusing finger at Lois. "You were in too much of a hurry to fight with Luthor over her!"
Clois calmed herself and sat back on the table top. "I came to just in time to drag myself out of the way of the falling masonry and stone. I saw you carrying your precious Lois out. I lay there for a time thinking that you'd come back for me, that you wouldn't just leave me there — to die. But you never came back."
Clois stopped her speech for a few moments as she studied the pair in front of her. Clark was having trouble meeting her eyes; he obviously was feeling some guilt. But Lois was studying her as much as she was Lois. It made Clois smile.
"In a way, I guess you saved my life," Clois continued. "I might have been ready to give up if your abandonment of me hadn't fueled my desire to live. I had to have my vengeance. I risked my life to help you, and I was repaid by being cast off like some old piece of used furniture that no longer matched your tastes."
Clark was shaking his head the whole time. "No, I'm sorry, I didn't know, I thought you were dead." He met her eyes, his own bright with unshed tears. "I truly thought you had died."
Lois stepped in front of Clark and stared hard at Clois, as if looking for some flaw, some defect that would prove that this woman wasn't a perfect physical clone of her. "The struggle with the special gun, and the cave-in aside, how is it you have survived this long? I thought that…"
"What — that I was a second rate clone? One designed to live for only two weeks?" Clois saw Lois' slow nod. "Well, I guess the joke was on good ol' Lex there. It seems one of the assistants had sort of a crush on me, and substituted the special nutrients for the A-class clones into my growth chamber. As a result, I'm one of the hundred-year clones.
"I finally managed to escape the cave-in, and spent a long painful time recovering from my injuries, which, by the way, included a broken ankle." Clois looked directly at Lois when she said that and smiled when it was clear that Lois understood the implication. "And all during that time I healed, and I matured."
"You do seem different from how Clark described you," Lois acknowledged.
Clois laughed. "Well, it seems that Lex was a little premature in his planning. He was too much in a hurry. Once the physical aspect had reached its proper growth he pulled me out and put me to work." Clois smiled a crooked sardonic smile. "I realize that my actions were immature, and somewhat out of character for the Lois everyone knew." She chuckled. "I'm surprised Clark took so long to realize it wasn't you he married. I guess the old libido even strikes someone as *super* as Clark."
Lois frowned at the reminder that the clone knew that Clark was Superman. "So why are you here now? Why disrupt our wedding, except maybe to cause us some extra hassles?"
"You still don't get it, do you?" Clois reached over and stroked Clark's chest. "I want what's rightfully mine." She glanced at Lois but twined her fingers in Clark's shirt. "I want my husband back."
Clark stepped back, but was stopped by the closeness of the wall. "Surely you can't think that I…?"
"Would what? Honor your vows? Be faithful to your bride?" Clois released Clark's shirt and met his eyes with hers. "I have a legally binding marriage certificate that says you and I are married."
"But… but… you were presumed dead," Clark sputtered.
"But I'm not dead, am I?"
Lois stepped back between the angry Clois and the retreating Clark. "Wait just a minute. The world knows that marriage was just a hoax. That you were a clone used to substitute for me. That invalidates everything."
Lois was confused by the clone's confidence. "Yes, that marriage certificate is for Clark Kent and Lois Lane."
"Exactly, and who do you think I am, Lois?"
Lois knew that she was being led, but couldn't help but go where the conversation was leading. "You are a clone of me."
"That's right, Lois, and what is a clone precisely?"
"A copy, in this case, of a person."
"No, an exact copy, Lois. Let's face some facts here. By every standard that is used to identify people in this world, I am you. I am Lois Lane. Would you care to compare fingerprints, DNA, retinal scans, even voice prints? I may be your clone, but the bottom line is that I'm still Lois Lane."
Clois stood and faced Lois directly. "All those months ago, Clark Kent married Lois Lane, but it was this Lois Lane," Clois stuck her thumb at her chest, "who said the vows, and it was this Lois Lane who was pronounced as the wife at the end of the ceremony." Clois went back to the table looking pleased with herself. "I'm the Lois Lane who is married to Clark Kent."
Lois sputtered a bit before gathering her wits about her. "Yeah, but, you're a clone. You're not me. Legally the marriage didn't take place since it was a clone Lois Lane and not the real Lois Lane that stood next to Clark at the altar."
"Maybe you're right, maybe not. I don't think there have been many laws written covering clones yet, do you?" Clois' smile softened just enough to make it almost look real. "And I don't think Clark would lie, and say that it wasn't me that he exchanged vows with that day, do you?"
Lois bit her lip in frustration. This was getting away from her. "Clark?"
Clark looked back and forth between the two women. He ran his hand through his hair a couple of times as he sighed. He focused on Clois.
"I am truly glad that you are alive. You really were a great help to me at the end there. I doubt that I would have been able to find either Lois or my mother without your assistance." Clark sighed again. "But you can't honestly think that I will just go away with you just because we might technically be married.
"I am fond of you, and I think you have the potential to become a terrific person." Clark chuckled. "How can you not? You are a lot like the woman I love." Clark allowed his sad smile to slip into a frown. "But you are not the woman I love." He reached out and drew Lois in close to him. "She is."
"But you could learn to love me." Clois voice had a pleading quality to it. "I didn't ask to be brought into this world, but I'm here. You were the only one who ever treated me like a real human being." A few tears slid from the corners of her eyes. "I deserve a life, and I'm not giving this up."
"You can have a life." Lois spoke in her best soothing tone. "We'll help you. You can get a life of your own."
Clois wiped away the few stray tears. "Nope, I've decided that I want yours. I may lose in the end, but I want my husband back, and I'm going to fight to get him." Steel entered the voice of Clois. "As long as I can prove that Clark and I are married, *you*," she pointed at Lois, "are never going to get that privilege."
"What — 'If I can't have him, no one can'?" Lois' voice dripped with sarcasm. "Is that what you're saying?"
Clois sniffed back the last tear. "If I must."
"What in the Sam Hill is going on in here? Do you know you have a church full of people out there and…"
The three people turned as one as Perry White poked his head into the small vestry. His rant was quickly cut off as he noticed that there were two Loises in the small room. He shook his head a couple of times, but each time he looked there were still two Loises. The setting must have given him his clue.
"Is that who I think it is?" He asked hesitantly. "You know, the clone of Lois?"
Lois sighed exasperatedly. "Yes, Perry, it is." Lois put her hand on his arm. "And she is determined to spoil our wedding just because she says that Clark is already married to her."
It was Clark's turn to sigh. "Yes, she is. You should know that as well as anyone, Perry, you performed the ceremony."
Perry nodded in response to Clark's words, then suddenly burst out laughing. He was laughing so hard that he had to sit down in the lone chair the room contained. The other three looked at him as if he'd lost his mind. It took several moments for Perry to settle down.
"Is that what this is all about?" he asked, wiping at the tears of laughter.
"Perry, I don't see what's so funny about this!" Lois was letting her frustration creep over into a bit of Lane anger. "This is a very difficult situation here!"
Perry patted Lois on the shoulder. "I'm sorry, honey. I know you think that, but I believe I can clear this up for all of you." Perry grabbed the hands of Clois and gave them a squeeze. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to burst your bubble, darling, but you see that marriage was never legal."
"I knew it!"
"I have the marriage certificate, and…"
"No, you don't understand. It seems that in order to stay an ordained minister of the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance, one has to pay a renewal fee every year." Perry paused for dramatic effect. He had them all in the palm of his hand. "Unfortunately, I never paid that fee, so at the time of the wedding I presided over, I was no longer officially ordained."
Lois was giggling, but Clark was still perplexed. "That's good news, Perry, but why didn't you ever tell us?"
Perry cocked his head and looked at the three of them in turn, ending up on Clark. "Well, I only discovered it a few months ago, and since the clone was supposedly dead, and everything about that previous marriage was forgotten, I decided there was no point in bringing it up."
Clois was standing over to one side, her fists clenched at her side. She had an ugly look on her face. "No, no, no, this can't be happening. I can't lose everything in such a stupid way." She glared up at Perry. "Damn you anyhow!"
Clois pushed by Perry and nearly knocked Lois over as she fled through the door, muttering imprecations and curses all the way. Perry shrugged, and left a few moments later.
Clark pulled Lois into his arms, leaning his chin on her head as she leaned back against his chest. She placed her hands over his, which were clasped across her stomach.
Lois sighed. "Clark, do you think we've seen the last of her?" She could feel the shake of his head against her hair.
"No, I don't think so." He turned Lois around so they were facing each other. "But I think we just might have time to sneak a wedding in before she thinks of something else to make our lives complicated."
Clark leaned down, and Lois rose up to meet his lips. The kiss was long and full of promise of a long a happy future.
"What do you say we go back out there and finish what we started?"
Lois grinned. "Sounds like a plan to me."
They both stared into each other's eyes until once again their lips met in a passionate kiss. The guests had waited this long, they could wait a bit longer.