Part 11 For the Rest of Her Life

Her entire world crowded in on her at the precise moment when the doctor looked up at the clock gracing the CCU, perhaps for this very purpose, and called in the time of death. Just a few days ago, she and her husband had been celebrating a new chapter in their lives. A few days ago she had no idea of the past she left behind, and the truths that Lucas had helped her forget at a time when she should not have been deciding.

Even for a nightmare this was all too real.

Out in the waiting room she looked up to find Lex Luthor standing there, waiting for her again. He did not move an inch or ask her how she felt. It was only too obvious what a wife would feel when her husband passed away before her eyes.

"Why did he apologize to you?" He shook his head. "Does it have to do with my dreams?"

Lex held out his hand and asked her silently to take it. Chloe did, and they sat down on the hard plastic chairs. She rested her head on her shoulder, drained by the overload of emotions and half-baked information. "If I give you my version of the truth now, it won't be fair to my brother."

"Is it fair to me?" Chloe released a heavy sigh. "What about the se flashes of memories? What am I going to do with them if you refuse to tell me what's right and what's not?"

"What your heart chooses to remember, I'll help you clarify."

She took her ring from her pocket and teased the gold with her fingertips. "What about this, Lex?"

Upon seeing the ring again, Lex was filled with warring emotions of rage that Lucas had the guts to gift her with her own engagement ring and gratitude that in that other part of her life, his brother made certain to keep this symbol included. He closed his hand over the ring and her fingers. "In time, Chloe. When you feel like you've remembered what's important."

It was not until years later, around six, that that time arrived for her. It sneaked up on her on a moment she least expected, this realization. Chloe was sitting at home in the living room, plopped on the couch leaning against Lex Luthor as she flipped through pages of nostalgia that he had brought her from when he visited his father's bedside in Smallville. Lionel Luthor had been confined to his room by paralysis and despite the old man's wishes to see his granddaughter even once, Lex had not allowed even a picture of little Lucy Luthor to make its way into Lionel's hands. Whenever Lex would come to Smallville, he would insist on leaving Chloe and her daughter in Manila even though he had no problem taking them with him to other destinations. Rather than expose the two to the unwanted attention if they ever came to Kansas, Lex would bring pieces of 'home' to Chloe. This time, it was the yearbook from Chloe's graduation year.

"Do you remember this?" Lex pointed to a picture of Chloe and her friends standing in full graduation costume, waving their diplomas proudly at the camera.

Chloe did not move her head from its comfortable position on his chest. She pointed to each one of the faces on the black and white print. "Well I don't remember the day this was taken," she said. "But you've called Clark over to visit Lucy and me. I remember him. Huge guy. Not very talkative."

"He was in shock," Lex interjected. "He hasn't seen you in years."

"I gathered from the very tight hug he gave me. And it was sweet the way he carried on with Lucy. It was like he was almost scared to hold her."

"You were his best friend. You have to understand how he's trying to deal."

She sighed and looped an arm around his neck before turning in her seat so she can face him. In the background, she heard the television change channels, and Chloe thought about asking her daughter to go to bed already. But Lex had already promised her that she could stay up since it was Saturday the next day. He even told her that they were going to go elephant bareback riding tomorrow. "I'm just sorry I still can't remember being his best friend."

"Clark understands that."

"Everybody seems to understand. Lana and Pete said they did, even though they still haven't come to see us." The other two friends in the picture had planned every year to fly out but their trips were always postponed due to Lana's annual pregnancy. For someone who can't fly because of "delicate" terms, Lana certainly did not take a lot of precautions with Pete.

"Have you remembered anything about them yet?"

"Other than how they look?" Chloe shook her head. "And I pretty much recognize them because you make me watch their video letters."

"You'll remember more in time." Lex brushed a kiss on her forehead and smiled down at her. "And anyway, the memory meetings are fun, aren't they? Not very helpful but fun."

Chloe nodded eagerly and moved away from Lex's embrace. She glanced at Lucy, who still remained in a sitting position in front of the television. She fished for a small item from her pocket and placed it on the coffee table. When Lex saw the jewelry, he looked at Chloe askance. He had not seen that engagement ring since the day Lucas died. He had started to think that it was buried along with the rest of the bad memories.

"Chloe, what's-"

She grabbed his hands and held it on her lap. "It's been so long, Lex. And even if I remember some things, it seems like my memories of my life before Lucas will never entirely come back to me."

"We can still try, Chloe."

Chloe shook her head and tightened her grip on Lex's fingers. "I'm tired."

"What do you remember?" he asked, scared that she was giving up when he hadn't helped her uncover her memories about how happy they were together before he found out about Lionel.

"From our life together?" Chloe shrugged. "I remember kissing you. I remember loving you so much and then just having it all explode on me. I guess," she paused for a minute for the most painful memory, "our baby paid the price of the two of us having such a big, wild connection when we were keeping things from each other. At least I was keeping a huge thing from you. I don't blame you for what happened. You were angry at me. And it was an accident."

"That's all you remember?"

"I have dreams, Lex. But I don't remember every moment you would want me to."

"You don't want us to spend our Friday nights trying to get back those days you lost?"

"It's futile. And it's dragging us both down." She glanced back at the ring winking at her from its place an arm's length away from both of them. "I want to make a decision. And I want to consult you on it."

"Make a decision with only those memories guiding you?"

"Lex, I don't need to remember everything I lost to move on with my life."

Lex swallowed hard. He had enjoyed every moment he spent here with Chloe, remembering days he had treasured when she was away. It reaffirmed everything he believed about how he and Chloe were perfectly suited to each other. From the moment they buried Lucas, he had been effectively the closest person in the world to her. He had been the one who took the brunt of her swearing when Lucy was born. And even when he was afraid that he would always remember betrayal when he saw Lucy, the moment that the doctor placed the baby in his arms, he could swear that in his heart, he was Lucy's father. "I just don't want you to rush."

"I'm not. I know everything I need to know to make this decision." Once again, her hands on his tightened, and he grew even more nervous. Lex looked straight into her eyes, hoping that she would not throw him out of her and Lucy's life when they were facing each other like this. "I don't need to know how much we loved each other then, although I have a pretty good idea." Her lips curved into a soft smile. "But I do know now, and this is what's important, is that I love you now. You can say it's for the second time around. But that's what matters to me, not the fact that I don't remember yesterday. I do know I love you today and I'll love you tomorrow. Lucy feels the same way. So if you're okay with it, I want you to pick up the ring on the coffee table and propose to me again. At least I'll have that proposal in my brain apart from the cut scenes from my dreams."

Lex blinked at her as he digested her instructions. His eyes flew to the ring on the table, and then to the kid who turned away from the tv and was now watching them. He stuttered the only words he knew to, "Lucy knows about this?"

"Mommy talked to me first, Uncle Lex. I gave her my permission," the five- year-old piped up from the floor.

Lex nodded at the beaming girl. He glanced up at Chloe, who seemed to be waiting for something. He racked his brain for a clue about what he was supposed to do now. And then he snatched the ring from the coffee table and faced her. "Are you sure about this?" he asked, because there would be nothing more painful than to roll around on Cloud 9 then to have that cloud condense into rain.

"You haven't even asked me," Chloe prodded.

He looked down at the ring he held, remembering the day he bought it for Professor Sullivan. It seemed so long ago now. They were both so young and he felt that it was the beginning of paradise. There were no complications in their life then, all the darkness was hidden in shadows. Now the nightmares were clear and they have passed through the obstacles. It was not as picture perfect as he had hoped all those years ago. There was a little girl sitting there watching as proof of that, because she was not biologically his. Lex looked at Lucy again. Even if she was not part of the original plan, in that manuscript he had written once, she was the most beautiful aberration he never outlined.

Lucy was just once more evidence that he and Chloe would not be entering the same relationship that they did as the young, professional and insane lovers they were when they first bumped into each other then. Lex held out his hand for the girl, who scampered onto her knees and rushed over to him.

"Luce."

"Yes, uncle Lex?"

"Do you think you can call me daddy?"

The girl grinned at him. She threw her arms around his neck and pressed tiny kisses all over his face. "Sure thing, uncle Lex!"

"We'll have to train you," he said hoarsely, overcome with emotion at being accepted so vocally and openly by Chloe's gem.

Lex loosened his embrace on Lucy and turned to Chloe, who was watching them fondly with an expression only a proud mother could have. He held out the ring to Chloe and picked up her hand. "I have Lucy's seal of approval," he told her needlessly. "Now I can do this without fear of reprisal. After everything, Chloe, will you be my wife?"

It showed him how much she changed too, when she held out her hand and allowed him to slip the ring back into her finger where it belonged. "Of course," she answered. Chloe leaned close and they pressed their lips together. They didn't devour each other this time. That would come behind closed doors, at another time, when Lucy was safe asleep in bed. Lex closed his eyes when they parted, and he could not resist a small kiss on her forehead. They stayed melted onto each other afterwards.

"Hey uncle Lex, you got summin in your eye?"

Lex chuckled and pulled the girl onto his lap so she can join in. And then he flicked away the moisture in his eye.

fin