Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Image from Andreas@LJ.
She's a beautiful bride.
He isn't supposed to be looking at her, of course. His mom would whack him upside the head with a chunk of kryptonite if she caught him at it. Smart and sophisticated as his mom is, she still has a touch of superstition in her, and she earnestly believes that the groom seeing the bride before the wedding constitutes bad luck.
But he doesn't believe it. Chloe will only be a bride for one day, after all, and he intends to drink in the sight of her as much as possible. So he's surreptitiously watching her through the walls of the old barn. She's beautiful, dressed in a white gown that sweeps the floor, holding a bouquet, while her cousin Lois puts the finishing touches on her hair.
She's perfect. And she's finally his.
There were so many times he doubted it would ever happen.
"I'm not leaving Jimmy."
He goggles at her. "But... you don't love him, Chlo. You said so."
She lifts her chin, looking stubborn. "He needs me to stand by him right now, Clark."
"But... but..." He sputters, unable to come up with a coherent argument. Chloe and Jimmy are simply not right for each other. He knows that. He's always known it.
Yes, he'd been willing to support her when he thought this was what she really wanted, no matter how much it hurt. But now he knows she married Jimmy simply because she'd had a computer inside her brain, dictating her every move. He doesn't want her to pay the price for what that computer did. He doesn't want her feeling that she has to atone for what she was forced to do.
"I said yes, Clark. I agreed to marry him, in front of all our friends. It's done."
"No!" He finally finds words. "It wasn't you, Chloe! It was Brainiac!"
"Jimmy didn't know that."
"So what?" He grabs her by the arms, looking down into her face with desperate intensity, fighting to make her understand that she can't sacrifice her life, just because an alien influence has screwed it up. "You can't stay married to Jimmy! You weren't in your right mind when you said yes, and we both know it!"
She stiffens. "Regardless, Jimmy doesn't deserve--"
"What about what you deserve?" He's yelling now, right up in her face. He doesn't get mad at her often, but she's being stubborn and stupid, and he's not going to let her ruin her life because of her overdeveloped sense of loyalty. "Don't you deserve to be happy? Don't you deserve to marry someone you actually love?"
"No!" Her voice lifts, too. "I don't deserve anything, Clark! I've done so much evil over the past months. I killed a man-- I helped a monster hurt people-- Jimmy almost died--"
"That wasn't you, damn it!"
"Then why do I remember it all?" Her voice breaks. "Clark, I remember every bit of it. All the terrible things I did..."
"Chlo." He wraps his arms around her, gathering her against his chest, and lowers his voice, desperate to comfort her, to drive away the pain he can hear in her voice. "That wasn't you. Even if you remember it all, it wasn't you. Stop trying to punish yourself for it."
"It's just..." Her voice quavers. "Jimmy loves me, Clark."
His arms tighten around her.
"Not the way I do," he whispers.
It took him a long time to convince her he meant it. But she'd divorced Jimmy, and the two of them had slowly, cautiously started into a relationship.
He remembers their first date as if it was yesterday. He'd cooked her a romantic dinner, and they'd wound up making out on the sofa. But she hadn't let him get past second base.
He'd understood that she was scarred by everything that had happened over the past year, and he hadn't pressed her for more. They'd kept dating, but she'd kept a certain distance between them.
Two months later, some of the distance melted away.
"I don't believe you." She's laughing, collapsing in giggles against his chest, and he grins. He hasn't seen her this amused in a long time, and the sound of her laughter makes him ridiculously happy.
"It was just a little song."
"Just a little song?" She's giggling harder. "You sang 'Accidentally in Love' to me, right in the middle of downtown Metropolis. Very, very loudly."
He's glad to have made her laugh, but he affects a wounded look. "I didn't think my singing was that funny."
"Oh, my God." She chortles. "Everyone was staring. Especially when you sang Come on, come on, jump a little higher and jumped like four feet in the air. You better watch out, farmboy-- some NBA team is going to try to recruit you if you keep that up."
"I was just acting out the lyrics."
"Yeah, what with the jumping and the spinning and the crazy dancing, I got that. So did everyone else."
"I wanted everyone to get it. I wanted you to get it. I'm in love with you, Chlo, and I want everyone to know it."
She giggles helplessly against his chest. "I think everyone knows now."
"Well, good." He squeezes her gently. "I want the whole world to know we belong together."
"Clark..." She sighs, and he can feel her mood change. He knows her well enough to read every shift in mood, every expression, every change in posture. "I'm glad you feel that way, but we both know I haven't been able to quite commit myself to you. After everything that happened..."
"I'm willing to wait," he says softly, holding her against his chest. "For as long as necessary."
"Thank you," she whispers. "I really do love you, Clark."
It's the first time she's uttered those words to him, and his heart lifts.
Just like in the song he sang her, suddenly the world's a little brighter.
He watches her through the rough-planked wall now, watching as she puts on her veil. She'll wear it over her face down the aisle, symbolizing a distance between them that doesn't really exist. He already knows her better than anyone else on the planet. He's known her since eighth grade. He's loved her as a friend since middle school, and as a lover for the past two years. They've been living together for a year. In his heart, he's already married to her.
But once they speak their vows, he'll draw back her veil and kiss her. And then, later...
He can hardly wait. The image of making love to her for the first time as a married couple keeps dancing around in his mind. He can't quite tamp down his happy excitement, even though he knows it's ridiculous to be this thrilled about it. After all, it's not like they haven't made love before.
The memory of their first time drifts through his mind, making him smile.
"Are you sure about this, Chloe?"
She's peeling his clothes off. She seems pretty damn certain, actually. But he's doing his best to be responsible, to make sure that she really, really wants this.
"I'm sure," she whispers against his throat. "I've been waiting for this moment for six months, Clark."
It's on the tip of his tongue to retort that she could have had him any time in those six months, that he's the one who's been waiting, but he holds back the comment. He doesn't want to start an argument. Not when she's tossing his t-shirt aside and running her hands all over his back.
He knows that he shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, as his dad always said, but he can't quite let this go. "What's changed?" he mumbles into her hair.
"Me," she whispers.
He frowns, even though he knows she can't see it. "I don't understand."
"I don't either. Not really. But I woke up this morning, and for the first time I felt like the past... was in the past. Does that make sense?"
Happiness floods him, and he envelops her in a bear hug. That's exactly what he's been waiting for-- for her to realize that the past is in the past.
For her to realize that the here and now is what matters.
"It makes perfect sense," he answers, and kisses her.
Now she's moving toward the staircase, Lois holding the train of her dress off the wooden planks of the floor. He remembers her wedding to Jimmy. He'd escorted her down the very same staircase, and she and Jimmy had been married in the barn.
But a barn is not Clark's idea of a romantic place to hold a wedding. Chloe deserves better than that. So they're going to be married in the lawn behind the house, surrounded by his mom's rosebushes.
Fortunately the weather has cooperated, and it's a beautiful early summer day. The perfect day for a wedding.
Not that he's too worried about the weather. If it hadn't turned out to be a perfect day, he would simply have blown the clouds away.
He's done it for her before, after all.
"I'm tired of clouds," she complains. "It's been cloudy the whole time we've been here."
He laughs as they climb up a steep, rocky path. It's easy walking for him-- all physical exercise is easy for him-- but she's huffing and puffing. "It's the mountains, Chlo. It's cloudy about ninety-five percent of the time."
"Still." She pouts. "You could do something about it."
He grins at her. "I don't like to blow the clouds away too often. It messes up the weather patterns."
"But it's our vacation."
She sounds whiny, as if the two-mile hike up steep terrain is starting to get to her. He considers sweeping her up in his armsand superspeeding the rest of the way, but decides against it. There are some things in this world worth hiking to.
The roar of water grows louder. They come around a corner, and there are the Cascades, tumbling over the edge of a cliff.
She pauses, staring. "Wow," she says in a reverent whisper, barely audible over the roar.
He's glad she likes it. It's not Niagara Falls, but in its own way it's just as beautiful. He came across this waterfall in one of his superspeed rambles across the country, and it's still one of his favorite spots.
But the water looks dull and gray, and he realizes she's right. The clouds have to go.
He looks around. It's early, and there aren't many people around-- none in their immediate vicinity. He tilts his head back, sucks in a deep breath, and blows.
The thick cloud cover disappears on the sudden wind, and a miraculous blue sky stretches out above them.
The Cascades gleam like a spray of diamonds now. They hike toward it, stopping to stare and admire, then make their way up to the observation deck near the top. They stand there, holding hands.
"It's beautiful," she whispers.
"It is," he agrees. "This is the main reason I brought you to Virginia. This is one of my favorite places."
She turns her head and smiles wryly. "I suppose you've seen a lot of beautiful places."
"I have. And I want to show them all to you."
"I'd like that," she says softly. "But it might take a while, even with superspeed."
"I don't care if it takes a lifetime," he says. He takes her hand, and drops down onto his knees, despite the fact that the observation deck is damp. "I want to be with you forever, Chlo." Her eyes go wide, and he blurts out the rest in a rush. "Will you marry me?"
She smiles and nods, and when he slips a diamond onto her finger that glitters just like the cascading water, he sees a tear slide down one of her cheeks.
He's pretty sure he's crying, too, but he hopes she'll think it's just a drop of spray.
She's almost out of the barn now. He stops staring at her through the old barn walls, and hustles around to the back of the house. He walks down the aisle, through two hundred people, family and friends and coworkers, trying his best to look calm. But he knows there's a goofily happy grin on his face. He's been waiting for this day a long, long time, and he can't stop himself from smiling.
He takes his place at the altar and waits. Handel's Water Music, played on a portable keyboard rather than an organ, plays, and moments later Chloe appears at the end of the aisle.
Suddenly the world seems a little brighter. She's radiantly lovely, the most beautiful bride he's ever seen. His smile widens despite himself, and she smiles back at him.
And then she walks down the aisle and stands by his side.
Right where she belongs.