Author: Sue Denim (excelaunt on LiveJournal)
Pairing: Original Pairing and Chlark
Short summary: This story is set about twenty-five years into the future. It's a story about how Clark and Chloe's daughter Caryn has fallen in love is will be married to Mark Slouka. As Mark learns more about the Kents we see how Mark and Caryn's wedding also remembers Clark and Chloe's devotion and love.
Mark had left the house without his coat. Caryn took it from the closet. It was a good excuse to interrupt his pacing as he processed the revelation. It was below freezing and he had to be uncomfortable. She exited the house despite her father's insistence that she let him come back to her.
Mark saw her coming and stopped pacing, granting her access as she approached. They stared wordlessly at each other and then Caryn held up his coat to suggest he put it on. He looked from his garment back to her eyes and Caryn saw him recognize that his past gestures as her knight were all in vain.
"Jesus, Caryn." The timbre of Mark's voice sounded more like him. "I can't believe that just happened."
"I should have said something sooner. I didn't know how. It's not the easiest conversation to have, and it affects everyone that I love. I get that I messed up and I don't blame you for taking off."
"I just had to step away."
"I understand. It's a lot to take in all at once."
"It is," Mark agreed as he took his coat. "I wish you would have told me. All this time, you didn't trust me?"
"That's not fair Mark," Caryn defended. "There are people out there that want my Dad dead and I'd be next to go if they knew I existed. Do you really think it's a great idea to tell every friend I have what I am?"
"Of course not."
"At what point should I have said something? Because with you the only thing I know is that I love you. And...I kept hoping that you'd ask the right questions. There's a reason why I like astronomy, why I can travel to your gigs two hundred miles away without much effort, and why I don't get cold. You loved me without knowing those things, so now that you know, it's bound to change how you feel about me. And now you have a reason not to love me anymore if you don't think I trust you."
Caryn threw her hands up over her face and started crying.
"Oh God, Caryn," Mark said. He grabbed her elbows and then pulled her to his chest. "I'm sorry. Don't talk crazy. I could never stop loving you. Never."
Caryn kept her face pressed to his chest and Mark felt how warm Caryn was compared to him. Once Caryn had calmed down, Mark tried to make light of the situation.
"All this time and I never knew." Mark shook his head in disgust. "It never even occurred to me and now it's obvious."
"It's the glasses," Caryn said. "It's Dad's secret in maintaining our privacy. Normal glasses skew the wearer's view of the world. Those glasses skew the world's view of the wearer. Please don't be mad. People can't know that Superman has a family."
"I'm not mad. I'm...stupefied. How can I know you and your dad as long as I have and not see it?"
"It's the glasses."
"No, no." Mark continued. "I'm being rhetorical. I'm sure your Dad hates me now because I acted like a jackass in there."
"No," Caryn shook her head. "He feels bad that our plan didn't work. Finding out is hard. He's more embarrassed than you ever could be."
"Do you think he's listening to us?"
"I hope not. Not deliberately anyway." Caryn shook her head again. "When you're tuned into something so far away, you pick up so much background noise it's quite intense and painful. I don't do it for kicks and giggles. Dad doesn't either, but he might be hearing involuntarily, I don't know. I don't ask."
"So, um...I guess that means, you have powers, too?"
"Can you fly?"
Mark could see Caryn give off a half-smile. "I can't do everything Dad does, but I can fly."
Mark looked like he was trying to work up the courage to ask her to show him flight, but Caryn instead reached her hand to his cheek.
"Mark Slouka, will you fly with me then?"
Chloe watched Clark's face closely as he attempted to casually eat the rest of his supper. Clark had always insisted that he didn't eavesdrop with his super-hearing. Chloe knew her husband better than that. She knew that this is something Clark wouldn't be able to help not hear. Caryn had left frantic. Clark's distraction was noticeable, as even Lois gave Chloe a questioning stare. After about ten minutes of tension filled silence, Chloe saw Clark's eyes ever so slightly lift and his chest relax.
Chloe wrapped her hand around Clark's wrist.
"I take it that was a good sigh?"
"He really loves her," Clark said. "It's going to be okay."
"Don't tell me you were worried?" Lois snorted.
"What Martha? I'm just saying this Mark guy reminds me so much of Clark when he realized he loved Chloe. He's so gone on Caryn he doesn't know what to do about it. Nah, give them twenty more minutes and they'll be back for dessert."
Clark picked up his glasses and grinned to no one in particular. He pulled his napkin off his lap and dabbed his mouth and wiped his hands.
"Clark, I wouldn't interrupt them," Martha said as he moved to stand. "Let them come back on their own."
"Don't worry, Mom." Clark answered. "I'll be back before you know it."
Caryn slipped one hand into Mark's and wrapped her other arm around his hips. She took the lead and walked backwards and upwards. He gasped as he surrendered himself to her power.
"Just look at me," Caryn said.
"Caryn, we have so much to talk about."
They were already quite high up in the air. Below him, he could see the trail of twinkly Christmas lights they had spent the afternoon stringing up along the Kent's fence. Over Caryn's shoulder, he could see Smallville's neon lights. He felt the air move against them as Caryn took him higher.
"Just relax," Caryn said. "I've got you."
Mark stared into Caryn's face as his hands and arms engulfed her torso. She was so beautiful to him, but now she was angelic. Her hair blew softly forward, creating whispering strings of hair along her jaw line. The worry in her face fell away and she looked ageless to him.
"You didn't give me a chance to answer your question," Mark said. His check was pressed against hers now.
"This is like a dream come true for me." Caryn confessed. "A forbidden dream, sharing my secret."
"I do want to make your dreams come true. I'm going to be your husband."
"And you understand what that means?"
Mark nodded. "I get it now."
"Good. Should we go back?"
"Maybe," Mark said. He kissed her. "This floating thing is sort of a turn-on."
Caryn brought her dominant arm around Mark and he locked his arms around her chest. Caryn brought other arm over her head and they shot into the sky together.
Chloe brought out the blackberry and strawberry pie Martha had baked earlier in the day. She set it before Lois and Martha. She took her knife and started to mark lines into the crusts.
"We don't have to share, do we?" Lois complained.
"Lois, I made this pie for Mark and Caryn," Martha said. "And it smells delicious."
"Of course it does Martha," Chloe answered. She looked away from her cutting to ask Lois for her plate.
"I think I got the pieces pretty even-steven." She placed a slice on to the dinner plate where Lois's pork chop had once been. "Here you go."
Chloe served Martha next before tacking half a slice herself.
Lois chewed softly, watching her cousin take a bite of her portion. "I don't know how to bring this up, but Chloe--you should say yes to Perry's offer."
Chloe's mouth was full and she started to frantically chew so she could swallow and respond.
"I haven't said anything to Clark about it and I hope the next words out of your mouth aren't, ‘I told him.'"
Martha set down her fork too. "What's going on at the Planet?"
"Perry wants more Lois Lanes," Lois said. "He wants more people covering Superman and Chloe's name was on the short list."
"Um-hmm," Chloe said interrupting her. "Perry wants me to ghost write for Lois. Well, not for Lois. It would be more like me writing as Lois. The ones by real Lois are the public Superman sightings, the ones by me will be more investigative in nature. I'm not sure... I think there might be someone better for this."
"You're the only person I'll share my name with. The Superman beat is too busy anymore. You're a million times better doing the investigative and library records stuff."
"I want my own byline. Chloe Sullivan-Kent."
Lois frowned. "That's not going to happen and you know it."
"I deserve it." Chloe said.
"Chloe, calm down." Martha interrupted. "This sounds like a good opportunity to come out of your shell."
"Martha, I'm sick of ghost writing. The deal is that I have to write under Lois's name."
"Chloe, just take Perry's offer," Lois begged. "You can't publish under your own name. You're blacklisted still."
"God, when will Lex die?" Chloe asked. "I don't want to talk about it until I talk with Clark." Chloe took another bite of her pie. She let the flavors roll around in her mouth a little as she tried to calm down. Clark would understand.
"Maybe we should start planning the wedding." Martha suggested reasonably. "We've only got ten days to do it."
"Nine," Chloe corrected. "Mark wants to be married on Christmas morning."
"Lois, why don't you go check the barn for Caryn and Mark. We can make all the plans in the world, but without them, it might be an exercise in futility."
In Lois's wake, Martha started to consul her daughter-in-law.
"Chloe, I've known you for a very long time. When you were young, you loved journalism and writing and being the editor of the Torch. You were more than good at it, you were fantastic and ahead of your time. But part of you died a long time ago with you left the Planet. Maybe you can't write under your own name, but why be particular here? You'll be writing and you'll be working next to Clark and you'll be continuing your hero work too. Everyone important in your life will know what's going on. Is it really so important that it be your byline when using your own name comes with a price that cannot ever be paid.
"The Planet was a childhood dream," Chloe answered. "I did it on my own and I lost it. It's gone."
"No dear," Martha soothed. "It was only put on pause because you and Clark fell in love"
"So, do I really know everything now?" Mark asked as they landed in the barn loft. Caryn smiled slyly as she took Mark towards the couch.
"What's this?" He inquired about Caryn's direction and eyeing the soft horizontal surface of the couch.
"Superman's my dad," Caryn reminded him.
Right. I better not get too frisky lest I lose my arm or something. "So he is."
Caryn walked over to the trunk that was used as a footstool. It was locked, but Caryn crushed it with her fist in a display of supernatural power that sort of took the male vibrato out of him. Caryn then knelt and removed the blanket that cushioned the contents of the truck and protected the items from dust.
"Doesn't it get expensive to replace locks?" Mark asked.
"Blame Dad. He heat-visioned the lock so it would melt and make the key useless. He wants to know when someone's been poking around in his stuff. That includes me."
Mark knelt down next to Caryn and was surprised to see that Superman's foot locker contained the same sort of things he kept in his. At the top was a beat up red jacket. Caryn removed it and set it aside.
"Have you ever heard of the Red-Blue-Blur?"
Showing her dimples and stifling a chuckle she replied. "Good."
A simple file folder was pulled out next. Inside were aged press clippings from the Daily Planet. Mark noted the dates and vaguely recalled his modern U.S. history class and a scandal around the Planet about the same time.
"What are we looking for?"
"I don't know exactly," Caryn said. "Dad says the stuff in this truck is important, I guess I'm making sure there's no other secrets in here."
"But your Dad will know you've been poking around."
"I'm pretty sure he'll let it go. He'll be in guilt mode." Caryn took a bundle of photographs that had been printed but never placed in an album. She and Mark took a seat on the couch as she shared them.
"Oh my God!" Caryn said clutching a photograph.
"Mom said they didn't allow pictures at their wedding."
Caryn handed over to Mark the photograph of her parents. Caryn's mom was in a wedding dress and her father was in a tailored suit. They were standing not a foot away from where they were now.
"Why would they want to keep this under lock and key?"
"Well, I don't know," Mark answered. "They're surprising people. Why were they married in a barn?"
Caryn took the photo back and stared at it uncertainly.
"Yeah, I just don't get it."
"It doesn't really matter though, where they got married. Your folks really do love one another." Mark said. "You can see your Dad's pride right there."
Caryn forced herself to return the photograph to the trunk. "Dad says he knew Mom was special the day they met in eighth grade."
She continued to put away the items, one by one, rushing as she tucked the blanket back into the corner crevasses. She shut the trunk and sat on top of it in a hurried fashioned. It was then Mark heard footsteps coming up the stairs that he realized that Caryn had heard their intruder coming long before him.
No wonder they were never caught making out.
The voice was feminine and raspy and unfamiliar. Mark was glad it was Lois and not either of the Kents coming up the stairs to the loft's main level.
"Is it safe?" Lois rounded the turn that brought her to the chairs and sofa.
"It's safe." Mark said.
"Sure." Mark answered. Lois smiled softly and took a spot on the couch. She propped her feet up on the trunk next to where Caryn sat.
"Martha makes a wicked pie. You should go have some and stop moping around here."
"Ooh, I dunno Lois." Mark answered. "I'm not sure I'm really ready for talking with...
Mark frowned at Lois's laugh. "It's going to take a while for me to get used to it."
"Actually, when Clark's got the suit on, he's really not very talkative. Superman's a bore, he has no sense of humor." Lois said. "I mean, sure. He's amazing with what he can do. I can say that, I'm his unofficial press agent, along with Clark. But..."
"Superman and Dad are two different people, almost." Caryn said. "Superman is his job. Clark Kent is the person he is." Caryn added.
"What Caryn just said." Lois stood up. "So now that I know you're fine and that you know you're fine, you might as well come back inside for dessert. Besides, I like you. I'm no longer the new kid on the block."
Lois slugged his arm and then shouted in pain.
"Hey! That hurt."
"Oh god, I'm sorry. I've been hanging out with Clark too much." Lois put her hand between her legs to pressure out the pain.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. So, will I see you inside?"
"Just give us a few minutes."
Once alone again with his girl Mark hugged Caryn and kissed her check in such an affectionate way, it surprised her.
"What was that for?"
"For tonight," Mark answered. "And I'm glad I can still hold you like this. That's what I like the most."
Clark was somewhat amused the next day when Caryn went off to shop for a wedding dress that Chloe suddenly decided she had a cold. Clark didn't know who she was trying to fool. She never got sick and was healthy as a horse because of her meteor power. Sure, she got a little cranky once a month like most women, but Chloe didn't catch colds or flues. Maybe saying "I'm coming down with a cold" was Chloe code for "I have cramps". Clark wasn't going to question his wife directly about this at all. He assumed it was either that or Chloe was feigning. Either way, she had decided she didn't want to go shopping for a wedding dress with her daughter which seemed beyond weird.
Clark also knew that Chloe's stubbornness was stronger than Kent super-strength. There was no way he was going to persuade Chloe to go anyway which made his day slightly harder. He was counting on Lois, Chloe and Caryn to shop for the day. He had asked Mark to stop by so they could talk things out. He didn't want Caryn to influence his conversation with Mark nor did he want Chloe present.
Clark built up his agenda with Mark as he sipped his coffee. Mark's reaction to the news, that he was Superman, still concerned him. Clark felt a particular need to apologize. He regretted not having told Caryn just to be honest and tell Mark in private where Mark felt most comfortable. That certainly wasn't at the Kent family dinner table between the main course and dessert. Mark had been eased into the secret with all the subtlety of a streaker at an airport terminal.
Clark hoped that Mark and Caryn would consider living in the farmhouse with them. It was much larger now as Clark had doubled the size of the house over the last ten years to help out several family members. The rooms were empty now and Clark didn't think it made any sense for Caryn and Mark to rent.
Chloe had spent the night explaining to Clark how she had been invited back to the Daily Planet albeit in a very odd way. Clark wanted to get Chloe back to the Planet. Their marriage had been partnership of raising Caryn, farming (to keep up appearances) and then taking care of his mom. That really wasn't the life Clark had wanted to give Chloe. He was sad to see Chloe talk without the gusto and enthusiasm she used to have about reporting. He didn't want to see Chloe settled, he wanted her back up again, ready to take on the world and he thought he found a bright side to Caryn's wedding that would help.
He just needed to convince Mark.
"Ooh!" Lois said as Caryn stepped out from behind the screen. Caryn was in a traditional white hoop skirt, with delicate lace and tiny, tiny buttons holding together the fitted bodice.
"I can't say I like wearing a corset." Caryn massaged her ribs showing Lois where the pinch was.
Lois came to Caryn's side and helped her onto a small box. The hem of her dress was elevated off the floor and it was easier to drape the skirt over the hoops and adjust the train. Lois would have died first before wearing something so, "Gone with the Wind" but Caryn liked it and it was classic style for a young bride.
"Are you sure you like it?" Lois asked.
"I like how my waist looks so tiny."
"Yeah, it's more flattering than some empire waist thing." Lois agreed.
Lois took a few steps away and used her camera to send images to Chloe's handheld computer.
"Smile Caryn, you looked bummed."
"I can't believe Mom didn't come." Caryn complained. "I'd be happy wearing her wedding dress, but I know it would never fit me."
Caryn clutched the front of the dress to move the skirt. The store attendants rushed over and stopped her.
"Oh sorry," Caryn said. "I know better than that. I'm not used to all this bulk."
"Maybe you would like something less formal?" A clerk suggested, "Arianna, why don't you get the new Von Mur." With that, a very tiny Japanese woman turned around and headed towards a heavily beaded, knee length dress as two other employees started to unbutton Caryn.
"I don't recall Chloe and Clark getting married in anything formal. It was all very casual. Heck, if I remember right, Chloe wore jeans."
"Aunt Lois, I saw the wedding picture last night."
"Clark and Chloe didn't take pictures." Lois answered. "You've got me confused. What did you see?"
Caryn was in mid conversation with the employees. "This dress is very beautiful, but I suppose it would be a bit ridiculous given that I'm getting married in a country church in Kansas. Something soft and simple would probably work just fine."
"Time and setting matters," the store owner said. "What sort of theme are you having?"
"No theme. We just want simple." Caryn said. She was standing in just her bra and panties. "Like my mom's. It was antique white, and the veil was long, and I think... She didn't have sleeves. It's hard to tell."
"Oh," Lois sighed. "I know what dress you're talking about." She sat on the plush green couch in the fancy dressing room and patted the empty space next to her.
"I think we might have something like that," the owner smiled back. "Let me step up front and take a look."
"Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this, if you don't know," Lois started. "That picture you saw, I have one just like it. I have hidden in a place Chloe doesn't know about. It was from your Mom's first marriage."
Caryn swallowed to Lois's revelation.
"You didn't know?"
"No. My dad and mom love each other, like, a whole lot." Caryn said. "It never occurred to me." But then she shook her head thinking about the picture she saw of both her mom and her dad together. "That can't be right. Dad was in a suit standing right next to her."
"Where they standing at the top of the stairs to the loft?"
"Clark was Chloe's escort because your Grandpa couldn't do it." Lois said. "Clark gave her away."
"My Dad could never do that."
"I don't think it was easy for either of us to watch actually." Lois said between sips of ice water. "Those were in my pre-secret days, but, I think that wedding started your parents down the path of emotional honesty. Lots of things changed after. They were the best of friends, and then, they were more. A lot like another two people I know." Lois winked.
"Ah, best friends first and then lovers," the owner sighed. "I love going to those weddings. I see the happiest bridegrooms there." She held up a strapless gown that seemed to be borrowed from the 1950's with matching cape. "Why not give this one a try?"
Even though Mark had visited the Kent household more the once over the course of four years, he had never been shown everything on the farm. His visits isolated him mostly to the house or to the barn. Sometimes Mark and Caryn would walk the property line along Hickory Lane back and forth in a very long pace. Caryn had pointed out the landmarks of the property during the walks. Yet he had never ventured into the recesses of the cornfields or pastures with her. Following Clark Kent around as gave him a better appreciation of the size of the property.
Clark was taking him to the back edge. Looking around caused the landmarks Caryn had shown him over the years to coalesced in a brand new way. The line of trees to the North separated the corn fields from the pastures. The trees were watered by a river. Mark saw that the Kent property was blessed to have a small stream that cut through the field where they stood.
"My father was the first organic farmer in the family," Clark said, "but we're lucky." Clark pointed out the line of trees and the road, "This is really the field that gets it done. It's naturally irrigated most summers, except in severe droughts. This farm is too small to afford the irrigation machines, unless..." Clark motioned with his eyes to a field of prairie grass nearby.
"Unless some brave Kent wanted to break that land." Clark pointed. "The back forty. Virgin prairie."
Clark turned to face Mark. Clark smiled, waiting to see Mark's reaction to Clark's idea.
"I have no idea how to farm." Mark stated matter-of-factly.
"Caryn does. It's not hard: It's just a lot of labor. My father wanted me to take the back forty, and to be honest, I never really wanted to do it." Clark paused. "Mark, you and Caryn farming this land... I'd give it to you. You'd have roots for the first time. A place that will remember you. It's a good home, for when you have your own family."
Mark shoved his hands into his winter coat and took a couple of steps away from Clark. This was not the conversation he was expecting to have with Caryn's father--not after all the excitement from last night. All morning long he had been worried that Superman would scrutinize him because he wanted to marry his little girl.
Mark had been expecting some sort of warning from him--a lecture or a history? Maybe an inside scoop to the life of an alien. He didn't know what to expect, but he wasn't expecting Clark to suggest he become a farmer.
"It's a fine idea but Caryn's a model. She has a career. I'm a drummer in three bands." Mark said. "I don't know where we'd have time." Mark wanted to go on and add a statement like, I don't have super-speed. He thought mentioning the alien thing might be rude so he kept quiet.
"Caryn has to give up modeling. It was a short time thing and she knew it when she signed her contract. Now that she's well known as a model, it's too high profile. Lois can do only so much with misdirection within the media. If you said yes, you'd have a home. It would be a place no one could take away."
Mark thought about how much he hated his transient childhood and never having a home to call his own. He even hated traveling with the band. Part of the reason he fell in love with Caryn was because she had managed to always show up to watch him play. Caryn was his roots, his foundation. Mark's eyes clouded over at the thought. He didn't hate it the offer, he just never considered himself to be the 4H type.
"Well, it's just an idea." Clark added, "I want Chloe and I to move to Metropolis where we'd be closer to the Daily Planet. I can't bear to sell the place, and even being as fast as I am, I can't manage a farming operation and work as a reporter. We still rent the fields out. So, my reasons for suggesting this aren't entirely unselfish."
"You forget saving the world. You'd have more time for that." Mark started to close the distance between himself and his future father-in-law. "I'm not great with words. I'm sorry about last night. I was a real jerk."
"We all make mistakes." Clark shrugged. "We might have told you sooner. I do feel guilty, but really, it's on the need to know basis. You need to know what you're getting into, son."
Mark shivered at Clark's endearment. "Okay, this isn't personal, but please don't call me son. I've been called son by nearly every Tom, Dick and Harry in the state of Kansas growing up. The only person that gets to call me that is my actual father, whoever he might be."
"Yeah, I get it," Clark said. "You and I are more alike than you'd think though." Clark perked up his head. "We can talk about this more later. I hear my mother waking up from her nap, we better turn around."
Clark started to turn and trace back their steps. Mark followed suit.
"Your hearing's that good?"
"Caryn's is better. They say when one sense goes another becomes more sensitive. You may not know this about her, but Caryn was born blind. She didn't develop sight until she was three months or so. And even then, it wasn't great sight. She had cataracts and Chloe and I pulled every resource we had to find an optometrist we could trust to work with her."
"Caryn never told me that. I really thought I knew everything about her when I asked her to marry me."
Clark laughed. "Chloe and I have known each other for over twenty-five years and there's still stuff I learn about her. Caryn's a lot more like Chloe when it comes to secrets."
"The blindness, it's not because of the half and half thing?"
"We don't know for certain. She grew out of it. The yellow sun does wonders for our bodies. Now she sees like any other human, but not like I can."
"So, Caryn can't do x-ray or heat vision?"
"No. Honestly, Chloe and I didn't care if Caryn manifested all our powers or none of them. We were so happy to have her."
"She told me once she was premature."
"Yeah, she was. She was like four pounds. Chloe hovered over her constantly. I was afraid too. We were afraid of losing her, like we lost her older sister during childbirth."
"I'm sorry." Mark felt his forehead crinkle up in concern and sympathy. Now that the secret was out in the open, Mark was a little surprised how chatty Caryn's father was.
"You guys might have a hard time, like Chloe and I did. I just don't know. After Elaina died, Chloe finally believed that I loved her more than anything. When Caryn brought you by the house the first time, I saw the same more-than-friends spark Chloe and I share in the two of you. I'm glad you're not an intergalactic dummy. Marrying a friend is a powerful thing."
They walked in silence for a few more minutes. Mark had always believed, the way Lois Lane reported him in the Daily Planet, that Superman couldn't be touched by anything. He was an alien with cosmic powers. He harvested bad guys and made the world safe. He had compassion but not anxiousness or worry. The idea that the guy next to him, crawling between the rails of the Christmas lit, post-n-notch wooden fence, could be touched by so much sadness, removed Superman's façade more than Clark taking off his glasses.
Yes, Mark knew that Superman had been raised by undisclosed humans, but he didn't know that Superman was a human too. It must have been terribly lonely for him.
"I think you're right, sir." Mark said, following Clark's steps up the drive and to the porch of the house. "We are a lot alike."
Clark wrapped his arms around his wife's waist as he joined her in bed. Chloe's hand reached around and found his cheek. Her fingers tapped his ear as he returned her kiss.
"Are you feeling better?" Clark whispered as he pinned her down lovingly with his leg. She was almost completely absorbed against his body.
"Um-hmm," Chloe said. "I know what you're thinking there Clark."
"Sometimes I'm not very subtle, am I?"
"Sometimes you are, but this, isn't one of those times," Chloe bantered back.
Chloe turned to face him and between kisses they discussed Caryn's wedding.
"I made a few calls while you and Mark were talking." Chloe said, stopping Clark's advance on her. "You know that St. Luke's always have a Christmas morning service, so the main sanctuary isn't going to be available, but there's a small prayer chapel on the other side of the parking lot that's available for Mark and Caryn to exchange vows. It holds about fifty people comfortably, and has some lovely stained glass. It's available if we want to rent it."
"I though Caryn wanted a service in the church?"
"It's not the main church, but it is a church. It's just a very small structure, but there's an altar, and pews and a piano. And it helps that your Mom's a member of the congregation too."
"Don't they have to go through premarital counseling first? Isn't that the norm?"
"That's been thought of already." Chloe chuckled. "Your mom pulled some strings. I'm not sure how she managed, but I think she out maneuvered the elders. Plus, she got the man that officiated your father's funeral to vouch, so... I guess all is good. She'll have a church wedding."
Clark attempted to seduce Chloe again and this time, she didn't bring up Caryn. She kissed him back instead.
"I'm sorry Clark." Chloe said as she stroked his biceps. "We should have had a church wedding too, instead of exchanging vows on New Year's Day in your living room before a judge."
"Judge Ross," Clark reminded. He poked her ribs. "She's a family friend."
"I know. At that time I just couldn't bear the idea of having another wedding. Not when my wedding with Jimmy ended so disastrously."
Clark gave up trying to seduce his wife and rolled on to his back.
"It's okay Chloe. Please stop apologizing for something that I've never regretted in the first place. I wanted to marry you, even if it meant cutting to the chase and skipping all the ceremony."
"If I had a choice I'd go back and give you something more traditional. The last five days I've been really jealous of Caryn. She's doing it the right way. She has her entire family here in Smallville plus all their friends. They really can have a very nice ceremony even in such short time. She can have the wedding we never did."
"Chloe, I love our wedding."
"You surprised me."
"You wouldn't set a date."
"Because I couldn't bring myself to make the calls and start planning."
"And I understand."
"You deserved something better. A real service, not just us in the living room with Lois and Pete and Judge Ross."
"I sort of see why you didn't want to go wedding dress shopping with Caryn now." Clark was trying to understand. "It brings up bad memories about ... that day."
Chloe nodded. "Yeah, terrifying ones. I was wrong not to have a bigger gathering. I'm sorry."
"If it's important to you, we can always have a church service. We can talk to the minister about it after Caryn's and plan for something for ourselves."
Chloe shook her head. "No, I'm just fussy because of Caryn. I never even worried about it until Caryn started to share her ideas. I never thought I'd regret that day, but you got sold short."
"Well, the honeymoon was fantastic," Clark said.
"Yeah, it was." Chloe smiled. "It really was."
His hand slid down the curve of her hip.
She captured his lips with hers. "I'm all yours."
"Mark," Caryn said talking between sips hot chocolate, flavored with Bailey's Irish Crème. Mark and Caryn were hunkered down in front of a blazing fire. Mark had his arm over her shoulders and one leg propped up in front of him.
"That picture we saw from Dad's trunk. It wasn't from their wedding day. It was from my mom's first marriage. I never knew that mom was married before. I can't believe they never told me."
"Surprises like that aren't good." Mark said straight, but Caryn picked up on his sarcasm too. "How'd you find this out?"
"Aunt Lois told me enough." Caryn paused to take another sip of drink. "I can't believe I knew nothing about it. My parents love each so much, I always assumed that they had a big honkin' wedding like all great lovers do. Instead that got married in this room and there were only two witnesses. Lois and Pete Ross."
Mark poured another shot of the alcohol into Caryn's mug.
"You're so bad," Caryn said.
"You need it," Mark said. "I can actually feel you get worked up."
Caryn laughed. "Alcohol has no effect on me whatsoever."
"Pretty much." Caryn said.
"But, I've seen you get drunk," Mark said.
"Um, no, you haven't. I let you think I was drunk, so you could be a gentleman and protect me...And a... So I can fawn all over you and it be okay." Caryn confessed. "You're hot and I'm not at all shallow."
"So, Lincoln?" Mark asked referring to a certain concert in Nebraska that involved a party where they made out for hours in a drunk stupor.
"Yeah, I faked my insobriety, but, I was in love with you by then and it was lots of fun."
Mark pulled Caryn into a hug and he kissed the crown of her head. "God, I'm so glad we figured this out and didn't waffle around like..."
"I wasn't going to say them," Mark said, trying to be polite. "But they do come to mind."
"Mom says when you love someone as much as she loves Dad, it can be rather frightening to embrace. She admits she hedged. Now Dad, he says one day he was minding his own business when someone named George asked him about mom. Then he realized that he was in love with Mom. He told her how he felt before George made a move. George didn't stand a chance. They got married a month after they started to date."
"And they say we rush."
"I know, hypocrites."
"I think your parents are fantastic. I always have. They really do love and respect each other. It's a little sad that no one saw them get married, save Lois and Pete."
The congregation smiled and whispered to each other as Mark lifted the white, frilly veil that obscured Caryn's face. He leaned quickly down and Caryn's arms came right up to grab his head at his ear. They kept their kiss closed mouth, but it was held long enough to make the crowd awh and ooh. Mark took Caryn's left hand and twirled her gently around under his arm so that she stood facing the witnesses.
Caryn giggled as she heard Lois in the background whistle excitedly. Everyone stood up, a few were clapping. Mark, still holding Caryn's hand, raised it up, making a canopy for the minister to walk under. Then the minister lifted his voice and Mark and Caryn walked formally away from another, taking positions at the alter where once the maid-of-honor and best man had stood.
A low rumble went through the small, tiny prayer house. The attendees were confused having never seen a wedding end with the bride and bridegroom taking positions on either side of the altar.
Chloe grabbed Clark's hand and hoped for Caryn to make eye contact with her. Caryn didn't, she stayed fixed on her husband several feet away.
"Please take your seats," the minister implored.
Chloe tried to sit down but Clark looked into her confused eyes and encouraged Chloe to stand up next to him.
"It's okay Chlo'," he whispered. "I know what's going on."
"Would the parents of the bride come met with me for a moment?" He gestured for them to stand before the alter steps. Clark and Chloe slowly approached the man of the cloth.
In a low voice and a wide smile he explained to them what was happening. "As a gift to you, Mark and Caryn would like to share their service. If you want, you could be married a little more formally."
Chloe turned around and glanced through the small chapel. She saw her father in her pew keeping Martha company. In the back she saw Pete, Oliver and Bart. Her entire family of relatives and friends were there in attendance. Lucy had even popped out of hiding to see Caryn get hitched. Chloe looked back to Clark as he went to his bended knew.
"Chloe Anne Sullivan-Kent, would you do me the honor of marrying me all over?"
"Oh, Clark," Chloe said with a youthfulness she hadn't felt in years. "Of course."
Clapping his hands together, the minister announced. "If I could have a few more minutes of your time, Clark and Chloe have agreed to accept Caryn and Mark's gift to them. They will also be exchanging wedding vows today in your presence."
Chloe hardly had anytime to gush as Caryn delicately placed a sheer, lacy veil over Chloe head. She secured it with some old butterfly hairpins from Chloe's keepsake chest. Clark felt Mark place a velvet covered box into his hand.
Together Clark and Chloe walked up the steps to stand together at the altar.
"Clark, face your bride and repeat after me."
Clark turned and faced Chloe, his eyes feel to the hem of the lace veil. He was unable to look directly into her eyes. He felt oddly lost for a moment. She squeezed his hand and he focused on that as he started to hear himself say.
"I, Clark Jerome Kent, take you Chloe Anne Sullivan to be my wife, my partner in life and my one true love."
His other hand found Chloe's free one as the minister gave him the words, one by one.
"I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live."
Chloe turned to face Clark, and repeated the vows back to him. Clark felt a little silly inside hearing something that he believed with every fiber of his being was true. Since the day they had met, Clark was sure that they always had each other. He was sure that they loved and trusted each other to a point that would make the most durable of unions faint with weakness. Yet, hearing these words, he felt the depth of his affection for Chloe all over again. Chloe's heart had always made him weak.
Clark lifted the lace hiding her smile, and gently draped it back over her head. He kissed her before he was given the cue. Stopping when the minister laughed that now he could kiss the bride.
Clark watched Mark and Caryn step forward and into the aisle when he heard the celebratory music. The bride and groom were shaking the hands of their guests. Not wanting to interrupt glad tidings for his son-in-law and daughter Clark continued to hang back with Chloe and the minister.
He heard the man say, "It was a very thoughtful gift Mark wanted you to have."
Chloe turned his head to stare at the gray haired man with curiosity. "Mark? This was Mark's idea?"
"He admires your relationship. I think it surprised him that you two never had a real service in front of all your family and friends. He and Caryn talked about it with me, and, well, it didn't take much to convince me you should have a wedding too."
Chloe raised her eyebrow, "Does this mean we'll have to pay you twice as much."
"No," he shooed away the thought. "Marrying you two is a bullet on my résumé. It's like being asked to marry Adam and Eve. I hope God forgives my pride."
Clark chuckled and hung his arm over Chloe's shoulders. She let herself be nudged into his side.
Clark led Chloe into the pool of friends and family, joining his daughter and his son-in-law in celebration. His heart felt like it was going to burst with pride, as he watched Mark and Caryn stand together, adoring each other and not letting each other out of their sights or touch. Clark reflected not for the first time, how much luckier Mark was. He had figured out who he was suited for long time ago.