By Allison K. Forbes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November 2002
Summary: The big day has finally arrived. Will Lois and Clark live happily ever after, or will Lois's fears drive Clark to sacrifice everything?
My thanks to everyone who commented on this story. I hadn't written anything for months, so it was nice to know I still had 'it'!
Disclaimers: 1) This is not a death-fic; no one will die here! 2) These are not my characters; I'm not making any money here, just having fun.
Lois stood in front of the full-length mirror, nervously smoothing down the folds of her dress. Her mother fussed behind her, making sure her veil was properly in place. Today was the day. She was finally marrying Clark, her best friend, her soulmate. They'd come so far, gone through so much to be together, and today, it was happening. Suppressing a giddy giggle, she leaned forward to check her makeup, then straightened to find her mother looking at her over her shoulder
"Oh, Lois," Ellen sighed, looking at her daughter in the mirror. "You make the most beautiful bride!"
"Thanks, Mom," Lois smiled. She fiddled with the ends of her sleeves, and bit her lip nervously, hoping Clark would agree with her mother. As if reading her thoughts, Ellen continued.
"Clark is a very lucky young man. And I know for a fact that he adores you. Trust me, sweetie, the minute he sees you walking down that aisle, he's going to forget there's anyone else there." With that, Ellen squeezed her daughter's shoulders, and gave her a small kiss on the cheek. Just then there was a knock at the door.
"It's Martha, may I come in?" Clark's mom asked, poking her head in the door.
"Of course, Martha," Lois replied with a smile, seeing her future mother-in-law.
"Well, everyone's ready downstairs," Martha said, then looked at her future daughter-in-law. "Oh, honey, you look radiant!"
"I keep telling her; Clark would think she was beautiful if she wore a potato sack to the wedding," Ellen said knowingly, then leaned closer to Martha, and whispered in her ear.
"Martha, she's getting a bit nervous. Would you talk to her?"
"Sure, but…" Martha began, somewhat confused.
"I just think she'd respond to you a little better, since you're closer to her than me," Ellen explained, without malice. Martha nodded in motherly understanding.
"Lois," Ellen said. "I'll see you downstairs in a few minutes, ok?"
"Okay, Mom," Lois said, her voice slightly shaky. Ellen turned and quietly left the room. Lois sighed, then turned back to the mirror. Martha came to stand beside her.
"Are you all right, honey?"
"I'm fine, Martha, fine. Just a little jittery, that's all."
"Oh, well, that's perfectly normal. I can't tell you how nervous I was the day I married Jonathan."
"Really?" Lois asked, amazed.
"Sure! I was so nervous I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the ceremony," Martha laughed. Lois smiled weakly, grateful that Martha understood. "But as soon as I saw him standing there at the altar, all my fears just seemed to vanish, and I knew it would be alright."
"That's a relief. I'm sure I'll have the same reaction when I see Clark," she said with certainty, but when she continued, her voice wavered, and she began to babble. "This is only my third wedding; the third one's the charm, right? I mean, my first wedding ended in a suicide by the groom, only he wasn't really dead, and my second wedding ended in disaster when that presumed-dead groom kidnapped me and replaced me with a clone. No, I'm just a little nervous about this one, hope nothing goes wrong…" she trailed off as if she couldn't stop.
"Lois, Lois!" Martha exclaimed, trying to keep up with the younger woman's tangent. Now she understood what Clark was always talking about. "Everything is going to be just fine. I promise. You're ready for this, and Clark loves you with all his heart. Nothing's going to go wrong!" she finished laughingly. She gently grasped Lois by the shoulders, turning her so she could look her in the eye. "I don't know why those bad things happened in the past. But that's what they are; in the past. What's important is today. You and Clark are going to get married, and spend the rest of your lives together," she finished confidently, smiling.
Lois nodded. "You're right, Martha, I know. Clark loves me and I love him. Today is going to be perfect!" Martha nodded. "Could you give me a minute alone, please? I just want to make sure I'm ready."
"Sure, sweetie. I'll meet you downstairs," Martha said, then left, closing the door behind her.
"So, CK, you ready to join the 'Old Married Guys' Club?" Jimmy Olsen asked his friend and mentor.
Clark chuckled. "Absolutely, Jimmy. I've been ready for this day for a very long time." 'About four years', Clark thought to himself.
"Man, I can't see myself ever putting on that ring and tying myself to one girl. There's just too many out there to shackle myself to one!"
"Believe me, Jimmy, someday you'll understand. You may even want to try on the title of 'Old Married Guy' yourself."
"I don't think so, CK," Jimmy responded.
Clark smiled at his young friend. Jimmy was still enjoying exploring the dating realm, but Clark was more than ready to 'tie himself' to one woman for the rest of his life. He'd known it the moment he'd first seen her, and his certainty had never wavered. It had taken a great deal of effort, and patience on his part, but he'd finally won the woman of his dreams. She was everything he'd ever wanted, and more. She was bright, funny, independent, radiant, fiercely loyal, and she had a mind like a steel trap. He smiled every time he thought about her, and her beauty stole his breath every time he looked at her. She was simply, the love, the light of his life. He couldn't imagine life without her.
Just then his mother came up the aisle to take her place at the altar.
"Lois is on her way, sweetie," she said. "She just wants to make sure she looks perfect for you."
Clark smiled ruefully. "Aw, Mom, she doesn't have to go to any effort."
"I know that, but it's a woman thing. Just give her a few minutes, ok?"
Clark nodded, albeit a bit reluctantly, and began to unconsciously rock on his heels. He checked his watch; just a few more minutes, and she'd be walking down the aisle to him.
Lois had asked Martha to give her some time by herself so she could finish getting ready. Now she stood before the mirror, about to walk down the aisle to Clark. She loved him so much. He'd started out as her best friend, confidante, but somewhere along the line, he'd become so much more. She trusted him in a way she'd never trusted anyone, both with her deepest secrets and desires, and then with her heart. And he'd never let her down.
"Well, except that one time," she heard. Startled, she looked up and saw her own reflection speaking to her from the full-length mirror.
"No, not even then, not really," she replied defensively to her mirror image.
"Really?" her reflection retorted. "When we almost married Lex, he'd been very angry with us, and had even in so many words insulted our intelligence." Her reflection then screwed up her face and imitated Clark, 'You're an investigative reporter, Lois. Investigate!' she sneered. "You remember how much his words had stung, and yet we didn't investigate Lex."
"I know. I do remember," Lois replied sadly. She hadn't wanted to see the truth. So when she discovered, on her wedding day of all days, that Clark had been right all along, her confidence and self-esteem had been severely shaken. "But Clark did not abandon me, he didn't turn me away. When I learned the truth, he was right there, waiting for me with open arms," she reminded herself, and found herself remembering Clark's chivalry during one of their most difficult times.
When Lex kidnapped her from her first wedding to Clark, Clark had moved heaven and earth to find her. And when she, in her amnesiac and confused state, had rejected him, he'd still fought tooth and nail to bring her back. So there was no question in her mind of Clark's love for her, or her love for him. She knew she wanted to be with him, to be his wife. She wanted it more than anything!
So why, all of a sudden, did everything feel so wrong? She took a deep breath to steady her nerves, and her reflection took the opportunity to speak up again.
"You're getting nervous again, aren't you?"
Lois nodded, biting her lower lip.
"Well, no wonder!" her reflection exclaimed. "Look at you! How many weddings will it take before you get it right? Okay, we're glad the wedding to Lex didn't happen. But look at your first wedding to Clark!" her reflection persisted.
"Those events were out of our control!" Lois responded angrily. "We thought Lex was in prison! We didn't know he was going to kidnap me!"
"Is it really worth the effort, Lois?" her reflection asked her calmly after a moment. "Do you really want to tempt Fate by doing this again?"
Lois was about to snap a retort, but something stopped her. In fact, she found herself wondering if her reflection was right, if she and Clark were asking for trouble with this second wedding. Glancing nervously down at herself, she turned and sat down heavily on the couch, trying to sort out her jumbled thoughts.
'Maybe this isn't such a good idea,' she thought, beginning to mentally babble. 'Everything was fine the way it was, before we started talking about marriage…maybe we shouldn't get married. We'll always be best friends, no matter what…he even said so himself. Oh, but he'll be so disappointed. I know how much he wants this. I want this. But maybe someone's trying to tell us something; that this isn't right, that we shouldn't…"
"Oh, what am I going to do?" she moaned, leaning forward to lay her head in her hands.
Clark was beginning to get nervous. He checked his watch again. Eight minutes. She'd been up there for eight minutes after his mother and Ellen had left her alone. He knew she wanted to look perfect for him, but…
"What is taking her so long?" Ellen voiced his thought aloud. Martha looked at her, then at Clark, who, though he tried to hide it, was beginning to fidget. She'd seen him check his watch three times in the last ten minutes, and he kept craning his head to look down the aisle to see if she was coming.
"I'll go check," Martha offered, and headed up the aisle to the stairs.
Martha walked up to the door of the bride's room and knocked.
"Lois?" There was no answer. "Lois? Are you ready? We're waiting for you, dear."
Again, there was no answer, but Martha thought she heard a soft gasp. Opening the door, she poked her head inside, and saw Lois sitting on the couch, hunched over, her face in her hands. Immediately, she closed the door behind her, then went and knelt in front of the younger woman, placing a light hand on her shoulder.
"Lois, what's wrong?" she asked gently.
Upon hearing the concern in Martha's voice, Lois lifted her head to reveal flushed cheeks and eyes shining with tears.
"Oh, Martha! I can't do it. I just can't…" she said, tears choking her voice.
"Can't what?" Martha asked.
"I can't go through with the wedding. I can't marry Clark!" she replied brokenly, and began to sob.
"Oh my!" Martha murmured quietly, then stood and sat next to Lois on the sofa, wrapping her arm around her shoulder. "Honey, what brought this on?"
"Nothing really," Lois hedged, not looking Martha in the eye. "I'm just too afraid of what might happen."
"Oh, sweetie, you've just got a little case of the jitters," Martha soothed. "All new brides get them."
"No, Martha, that's not it," Lois replied, looking up. Wiping her tears from her cheeks, she rose from the sofa and faced Martha. "Well, actually, in a way that's exactly it," she began and started to pace, wringing her hands. "I don't have new bride jitters because I'm not a…what I mean is…I'm so sorry, Martha," Lois said quietly, not able to face the older woman. "I know how much you and everyone were looking forward to…I know Clark's gonna be disappointed, but…" Lois trailed off and took a deep, shuddering breath. After a moment, she turned to face Clark's mother. "Would you please tell Clark that I'm sorry?"
Slightly disoriented from trying to keep up with Lois's disjointed speech, Martha shook her head to clear it, and then stood up. She placed her hands lightly on Lois's shoulders and squeezed. "Lois, I'm not sure I understand what you meant by all that but…"
"Hmmph, join the club," Lois muttered miserably.
"Listen, I'm going downstairs for a minute. I want you to sit here, take a few deep breaths, and try to relax. I'll be right back, ok? Don't go anywhere," she said gently, but firmly. Lois just sniffed and nodded numbly. Martha sighed, observing the forlorn creature on the couch. She turned the knob on the door and exited quietly. Hurrying downstairs, she whispered worriedly to herself, "Oh, dear, this is a job for…"
Clark heard footsteps coming up behind him, and turned to see his mother, her usual calm demeanor replaced by a slightly anxious expression.
"Mom? Where's Lois?"
"Clark, honey, I need you to come with me," she said conversationally.
"Is everything all right?" asked Ellen.
"Yes, everything's fine," Martha said, pulling her mouth into a smile. "I just need to borrow my son for a minute. Be right back!"
Without another word, she grasped his arm and guided him out of the sanctuary into the hallway.
"Mom! What's going on? The wedding's about to start."
Once they were alone, she stopped, and turned to face him, looking him directly in the eyes. "Clark, you're needed upstairs."
At his perplexed look, she sighed and explained.
"I didn't want to say anything in front of everyone, especially her parents, but we have a small problem." She paused. "Lois has gotten cold feet. She says she can't go through with the wedding."
Immediately, all the blood drained from his face, and his mouth fell open.
"What?" he rasped.
"I know she didn't mean it, Clark. She's just nervous. That's why I came and got you. You need to talk to her, to reassure her. When I went upstairs to check on her, well, most of what she said made no sense, but one thing she said caught my attention."
"I said all new brides get pre-wedding jitters. She said she couldn't get them," Martha said, and paused for a minute. "Then she just started going on about disappointing you and her parents, and then she just broke down, poor thing. I really think you should talk to her, Clark."
"I'll do anything," he said, his tone desperate.
"Good. Come on!" she said, and together they headed upstairs.
As they approached the bride room door, both could hear the soft sound of Lois's sobs coming from inside. Clark's enhanced hearing could also pick up her overly rapid heartbeat.
"Mom, she's crying," he said, his own heart breaking at the sound. Not even the pain of kryptonite exposure hurt as much as hearing the woman he loved cry.
"I know," Martha said worriedly. She stepped up to the door and knocked. "Lois? It's Martha. May I come in?" She tried to open the door, but the knob wouldn't turn. She looked at Clark. "She's locked herself in." She knocked again. "Lois, honey, open the door, please." The only response was more sobbing.
"Let me try," Clark asked, and Martha took a step behind him. He knocked lightly. "Lois? Honey, it's Clark. Open the door, please?" He knocked again. "Lois?"
For a long moment, nothing happened. The sobbing grew softer and eventually stopped, so both Martha and Clark waited, but the door remained closed.
Clark leaned his head close to the door. "Lois?" he called softly. Finally, he heard the sound of her dress rustling as she came to the door.
"Lois?" he exclaimed, sighing with relief. "Sweetheart, talk to me. Mom said you won't come down, that you…can't marry…me." Even as he said the words, he felt a terrible pain in his chest.
"Oh, Clark," she said, her voice sounding muffled through the door. "It's not that I don't want to marry you. I do, it's just…" she trailed off, and he could hear her sniffling.
"What, honey?" he asked gently. Then he remembered something his mother had said to him when she'd first come to get him. "Mom said you were upset about disappointing me and your parents? And that you couldn't get pre-wedding jitters? What was that all about?"
Again, silence. Clark looked helplessly at his mother, who called to Lois through the door.
"Lois, it's Martha. May I come in?"
Lois's small voice came through the door. "It's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding."
Clark and Martha smiled ruefully at each other. "Trust Lois to try and be logical even when her logic doesn't make any sense," he said softly.
"Well, Lois," Martha answered reasonably. "You said you couldn't go through with it, so what's the harm in letting us in?" A few seconds ticked by. Then the door opened a crack, just enough to allow Martha in. Martha stepped in, and closed the door behind her, leaving a worried Clark in the hallway to wait.
"Lois, Clark's outside. He really wants to see you," Martha began.
"I know, but I can't face him. Not just yet."
"Would you like to talk about what you said to me earlier?"
Lois nodded, and gestured to the sofa. The two women sat down, and once again, Martha put her arm around Lois. "Now, why have you gone and broken my son's heart?" she asked, but when Lois looked up, she saw the playful smile on her face.
Lois smiled at Martha's attempt at humor, but her tone was serious. "When you first came in here, you said all first time brides get nervous."
"That's right; all brides get that way before the wedding."
"Well, that's part of the reason why I got scared. I started wondering, 'Are we doing the right thing?' and 'Everything's so perfect, something's going to ruin it…'"
"Oh," Martha murmured in understanding. "So that's what you and Ellen were talking about when she asked me to talk to you. You were worried that something horrible was going to happen to ruin the wedding."
"Yes. But that's only part of it," Lois replied, then became silent. Martha simply waited until she was ready to speak again, giving her a reassuring squeeze.
"The main reason I got upset is because, Martha," Lois looked at the older woman, and the tears began to prick at her eyes again. "I'm not a first time bride. This is my third wedding! Look at how the first two ended; in tragedy and confusion. Maybe I'm just not meant to be married," she whispered, and laid her head on Martha's shoulder. Her slight frame began to tremble as she sobbed. Martha brought her other hand up to cup her dark head, remaining quiet as she saw her son stealthily enter the room. He brought his finger to his lips to signal her not to alert Lois to his presence. Martha nodded, then hid a smile as an idea came to her.
"Lois, let me ask you this. Do you think Clark would ever do anything to hurt you?"
As if shocked by the mere suggestion, Lois gasped. "Of course not, Martha! Clark is the kindest, gentlest, most caring man I've ever known. He'd never hurt me; he'd never hurt anyone if he could help it."
Martha saw over Lois's head Clark nod. "And you love him?" she prodded, keeping her eyes on Clark, whose expression tensed for an instant.
Lois lifted her teary face to Martha's, but didn't answer right away. "Yes, I do love him," she replied, bringing a relieved look to Clark's face. "More than I thought I could ever love anyone. I love him more with each passing day."
Upon hearing that, Clark finally spoke.
"And, I love you, sweetheart," he said softly, eliciting a surprised gasp from Lois, who turned to find him kneeling before her.
Martha took this opportunity to discreetly exit, leaving the young couple to sort it out.
"So," he said softly, bringing a hand up to gently brush the hair from her face. "What's all this 'you can't marry me' stuff, huh?" he asked.
Hearing his voice, and feeling his touch on her face, she broke. "Of course I want to marry you, Clark!" she confessed, forgetting what she had said about seeing the bride before the wedding. "But look at everything we've been through to get here. What if someone is trying to tell us something?" Then she remembered what her own reflection had said. "What if we're just tempting Fate again?" She shook her head. "I just don't know if I can handle another tragedy," she explained, panting from her outburst, and sank into the sofa, covering her eyes with her hands so he couldn't see her tears.
It was then that Clark really understood. 'She's not afraid to marry me', he thought with happy relief. But then, it came to him with heart-breaking clarity why she was so upset. He gazed at her, his total love for her filling his heart, and wished that with all his powers, he could just snap his fingers and make her fears vanish into thin air.
She flinched when he sat down beside her and gathered her into his arms, but didn't pull away. He lifted his hand to the back of her head, pulling her against his chest. He didn't say anything, but simply held her close, rubbing her back with his other hand, letting her cry against him until her tears were spent. He knew she needed this; to let go of her fears and doubts, but he hated to see her cry. It felt like someone was stabbing him in the heart with a kryptonite knife.
"I'm so sorry," he said softly, then brushed a kiss against her hair. "I had no idea it had affected you so much," he murmured, then mentally shook himself for being so insensitive. Of course she would be feeling this way! When he thought about it, she did not have the best luck with weddings. He'd just been so preoccupied with his own joy at finally marrying the woman he loved, he never gave a thought to the fact that she'd been down this road before, and both with disastrous results.
"I've been so selfish," he murmured, shaking his head. "All I've been thinking about was me, how happy I was going to be when we were married. I never thought…" he began, then dismissed whatever he was going to say, simply saying, "I didn't think. I'm so sorry, Lois." He closed his eyes as he continued to rub her back. Her sobs against his chest eventually lessened. It was killing him to see her like this, especially on their wedding day, which should have been the happiest day of their lives. With that in mind, he made his decision. But when he opened his mouth to speak, the words nearly choked him. But, he reminded himself, all that mattered to him was her happiness.
"Lois, honey," he said, measuring his words. "If you're that afraid of something going wrong, then we don't have to do this, we don't have to get married," he said, already feeling a lump form in his throat and tears pricking at his eyes. It couldn't have come to this; he couldn't lose her now.
She lifted her head to look at him; her eyes were red and swollen, and her mascara had begun to smear.
"You'd really do that for me?" she asked, amazed at his selflessness. Here she was, her monstrous insecurities telling her that this was wrong, scaring her out of her own wedding, and he was simply doing what she wanted, without regard to his own feelings.
"Of course I would, Lois," he said softly. "I'd do anything for you, even if it meant…" he forced a weak smile as he struggled with the words, "calling…off…the wedding," he finished, feeling his stomach twist into knots with every word.
She looked deeply into his eyes, so kind and deep, stunned that he'd do that for her, and suddenly, she knew, with remarkable certainty, that that was definitely not what she wanted. She stood and slowly walked back over to the mirror, where her doubting, skeptical reflection once again looked back at her.
"Well, Lois? What's it gonna be? Are you gonna listen to your head, and walk away from all this before it becomes another failed debacle? Or are you going to ignore the voice of reason, and take a once in a lifetime chance that all your dreams might come true? Hmmm? It's time to make a decision," her reflection taunted, her arms crossed over her chest.
She looked past to see Clark sitting on the sofa behind her, waiting patiently as always, and smiled, knowing what her choice had been all along. At that moment, she faced all her demons and doubts, like a soldier facing the enemy in battle. Only this time, instead of letting them take her prisoner, she defeated them, vanquishing them, finally breaking their paralyzing hold on her.
"You've had a grip on me for so long," she said to the mirror. "So tight I could hardly breath. For two years, even when I wanted to be with Clark you wouldn't let me, always hardening my heart, reminding me of the mistakes of my past. Well I won't let you anymore! I love Clark with all my heart, and he loves me. He would never hurt me like the others did. I trust him with my heart and my happiness. You will not hold me back anymore; you hear me? I won't let you!"
"Lois?" Clark said when she had been silent for several moments. He'd watched her carefully when she'd moved to the mirror, and now she appeared to be fighting some internal battle, from the way she was staring at herself.
She turned from the mirror, and looked into Clark's eyes, those warm eyes so filled with love that wanted only her happiness, even at the loss of his own. Her heart melted at what he'd been willing to sacrifice, and it served to strengthen her will.
"No," she murmured, gazing lovingly into those wonderful, chocolate eyes.
"No?" he repeated, uncertain as to what she meant, but terrified that she'd say they couldn't continue the wedding. He could already feel his world start to fall apart around him.
"No," she said again, her voice soft and apologetic. "That's not what I want."
His eyes bored into her in a hopeful, almost desperate question.
"I don't want to call off the wedding, Clark. I do want to marry you. That is," she said, her voice becoming unsure again, "if you still want to marry me," she continued, starting to babble. "I can understand you might not want a bride who can't make up her mind, right? Who would want a fickle wife…she continued, oblivious to the expression on Clark's face.
Clark couldn't stop smiling. A mere few minutes ago, he thought his life, or his happiness as he knew it, was gone. The woman he loved was still haunted by memories sooner forgotten, and for good reason was afraid of something ruining their wedding. So much so that she'd wanted to call the whole thing off. He'd meant it when he said they could, if that's what she wanted, even though it would utterly destroy him. He'd waited not just a few months, but really years to make her his wife, and the mere thought of that not happening sent a pain worse than kryptonite through him.
But he would have done it, if it would make her happy. And now she was babbling uncontrollably in true Lois fashion, telling him everything was now okay, that she wasn't afraid anymore. It was the 'if you still want to' that penetrated his thoughts and spurred him to action.
"…would be perfectly understandable, after what I put you through, so," she rattled on as he stood and slowly approached her, still smiling goofily. "Oh, Clark, just say something! The suspense is killing m…" her words halted abruptly when he captured her lips in a firm, yet tender kiss. Sighing, she leaned into him, savoring the feel of his arms holding her close.
After a long, long moment, he pulled away gently, touching his forehead to hers. "Does that answer your question?"
Her brown eyes, now slightly glazed, looked into his. "Uh- huh," she responded breathily.
He released her, and brought his hands up to frame her face. "Let's go get married, Lois," he said simply. She brought her hands up to cover his.
"Okay," she agreed, and giggled self-consciously. "You go downstairs, tell everyone I'll be down in just a minute. I want to freshen up."
He nodded, and leaned forward to kiss her again. "I love you, so much Lois," he whispered against her lips.
"I love you too, Clark."
He pulled away, and headed for the door. "I'll meet you downstairs, okay?"
"I'll see you there," she said.
With one last smile, he turned and closed the door. Leaning against it, he let out a long, slow breath, and then headed downstairs.
Martha turned as Clark came up behind her.
"Is everything alright?" she asked anxiously.
Clark grinned happily at his mother. "Everything's fine, mom." Martha grinned at the Glow in her son's eyes.
"Well? Is Lois coming down or not? I'd like at least one wedding of hers to end happily!" Ellen started to grouse. Clark was about to answer, but the soft strains of Pachelbel's "Canon" filled the air, and all eyes focused on the back of the sanctuary.
The double doors opened, and Clark had to catch his breath. She floated slowly down the aisle, a glorious vision in white silk and lace. Her beautiful face glowed with happiness; not a trace remained of the tears she had shed. She met Clark at the altar, taking his offered arm.
"You look…beautiful," he whispered low enough so only she could hear.
"Thank you," she blushed. "So do you."
He smiled, and together they faced the minister.
"Dearly beloved, we gather here today…"