Disclaimer: The recognizable characters and settings in this story are the property of D.C. Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions, and anyone else with a legal right to them. I have no claim on them whatsoever, nor am I profiting by their use, but any of the new characters and situations are mine, and the story belongs to me.
Introduction: This is (obviously) part of the Home series and follows "Home: Family Party". In order to understand the premise for the story, you need to read the vignette "Home", but to summarize, Lori Lyons is the next incarnation of Lois Lane a century from now. Velma Chow and Oliver Brent were supporting characters in several previous Home stories and, after "Home: Vendetta" had their own little story that needed to be addressed.
Home: An Evening to Remember
By Nan Smith
Velma Chow rubbed the back of her neck, wincing at the stiff muscles, and sighed. It had been a long day. For a large part of it she had been in court, testifying for the prosecution in one of the numerous cases regarding the Gaia's Children debacle four months ago. Then she had spent the afternoon dealing with the consequences of a gang riot and the charges and countercharges of the various lawyers representing the gang members and the other group representing the City of Metropolis. It had been an ordinary if eventful day and the headache that she was currently nursing was becoming an all too common problem. Maybe, she thought, she should accept that promotion the Department had offered her twice already. Maybe it was time for a change. On the other hand, if she let them promote her to Captain, she'd just be trading one set of headaches for another.
There was a light rap on the frame of her office door.
Oliver Brent leaned casually against it, a smile on his lips and both hands in his pockets. "Planning on quitting anytime soon?" he inquired. "It's two hours into the evening shift -- or is this another all-nighter?"
"That was only once," she found herself protesting and then nearly kicked her own ankle as he licked a forefinger and chalked up an imaginary point in the air. "Drat you, Oliver!"
He crossed the room to park one hip on her desk. "Touch? I think that puts us back even, Ms. Chow." He grinned sympathetically. "Seriously, though, is there anything urgent going on tonight or are you just killing time?"
Absently, she told her computer to shut down. "I'm out of here," she announced. "I'll deal with the rest of this tomorrow."
"Good choice. And now, since you're officially off-duty --" He leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips.
Velma reciprocated. She still marveled at the fact that four months ago she hadn't met this man. Now she wouldn't willingly let him disappear from her life.
"So," he said, as they headed out into the hall, "where do you want to go tonight?"
"I don't know. Maybe we should just go to my place, hang out and watch football on the vidscreen," she said. "We can always order out."
"If you want to," Oliver agreed. "Or, I could take you to dinner and dancing."
"I haven't danced for fifteen years," Velma said, unable to disguise the faintly wistful tone in her voice.
"In that case," Oliver said, "it's lucky that I happened to make reservations for this evening at the Sky Lounge."
She gaped at him for an instant. "The Sky Lounge?"
"Sure. I have a sports jacket in my briefcase. We have eight o'clock reservations."
Velma glanced at her chronometer. That gave them two hours. "All right. We'll need to drop by my apartment so I can change. Let's hurry a bit so I can fix myself up a little."
"Good idea," he agreed cheerfully. "You might invite comment if you showed up for dinner in a police uniform."
She made a face at him, aware that the knotted muscles in her neck had begun to relax. "In that case, I'll be careful not to."
They paused before the elevator that would deliver them to the Precinct's parking garage. The doors opened and Sergeant Anderson stepped out, nodding pleasantly at Oliver and Velma as he passed them. Chief Inspector Oliver Brent of Houston had become a familiar figure at Metropolis's Twelfth Precinct over the past four months. Velma was aware that speculation about the two of them was a hot topic in the workplace whenever they thought she wasn't around.
Oliver stood back, letting her enter first. It was a habit of his that had always puzzled her. She'd seen Clark Kent treat his wife the same way, and he'd done it with her one or two times. She'd finally decided it was probably some sort of strange family ritual of the supermen. Maybe it was a kind of ancient Kryptonian custom or something. In any case, she found it rather charming.
The elevator deposited them on the sixth level of the parking tier and she led the way to her car.
They took Velma's little car to the Star Tower. Velma was wearing the outfit she had worn to the Policemen's Ball earlier this year, not by coincidence, since it was the only dressy outfit she had. Glancing at Oliver, seated beside her, she couldn't help thinking how handsome and distinguished he looked in his slacks and sports jacket. Their previous dates over the last four months had all been of a more informal nature, and she couldn't help wondering if he had something more in mind tonight than just a simple date. A dinner at the Sky Lounge was definitely in the stratospheric level when it came to haut cuisine.
The Star Tower was lighted brilliantly in the November dusk as Velma turned her car over to a human valet. Oliver escorted her to the entrance, which was opened for them by a uniformed doorman who bade them welcome to the Star Tower.
Velma had been here once before but that had been on business. She hadn't had the time to marvel at the wonders of the incredible space age building. This time they rode the crystal elevator up the soaring, fantastic side of the Tower and she could see the mega-city of Metropolis gradually expanding below her in a sea of lights as they rose to the full dizzy height of the structure. When the crystal doors slid aside, another doorman bowed them into the Sky Lounge on the top floor of the Tower.
They were escorted to a table on the side of the room that gave them a view of the bay and Oliver held her chair for her and then seated himself at right angles to her. Velma found the arrangement more cozy than if she were seated directly across from him. The lights were dim and a candle glowed in the center of the table. In the background the music of a live orchestra played and, below them, the darkness hid the less attractive aspects of the bay. The city glowed spectacularly beneath them. The Bayview Skystream was a moving ribbon of light above the blackness of the bay and looking up, she realized that she could actually see some of the brighter stars. The Tower was tall enough that it soared above even the majority of Metropolis's light pollution.
"I've never eaten here before," she said. "It's a spectacular view."
Oliver smiled. "Yes, it is. I've only been here once before."
"Oh? When was that?"
"That was when my cousin, Henry Olsen, and Lena were married, six years ago. Aaron and Michelle threw a big reception here for them."
"Henry ... You mean Cycl --" She broke off before she completed the name.
Oliver was nodding. "Yeah."
"And I guess you came alone."
"Well, I came with the rest of my family. I didn't have a date. My mother and father had nearly given up on me by the time I met you."
"When are you going to tell me who they are?" Velma asked curiously.
"Soon. There's a lot of explanation that goes along with that particular piece of information."
She cocked her head at him. "Does it have anything to do with the fact that your sisters all look so much younger than you?"
He almost smiled. "Yes. Mom looks a lot younger than I do, too."
"That's what I figured," Velma said prosaically. "I guess that people outside the family don't get introduced to other family members -- at least not with the real relationships."
"Not usually, no. We just tend to call each other by our first names so we don't make mistakes." The corners of Oliver's mouth twitched. "You're kind of a special case, however." He grinned. "My mother is Rhonda Klein."
Although she had expected him to name one of the superwomen, it surprised her, although why it should she didn't really know. "Your mom is Dr. Klein?"
"That's right. My grandparents are Lara Kent and Bill Klein."
"Oh," she said, mentally rearranging several impressions. "And Lara must be the daughter of the original --"
"That's right," he said. "The original Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Bill is the son of Mary and Bernard Klein. You've heard about him, too. He was a scientist."
For a moment she looked blankly at him and then the significance of the name dawned. "The Bernard Klein? The one who --"
"The very same. He was my great-grandfather's personal physician -- the only expert on Clark Kent's unusual physiology that there was at the time."
"Yes, I guess I can understand that," Velma said, still taking in that last piece of information. "You don't seem very worried about what I figured out."
"I'm not." He glanced up and Velma saw that a man in a waiter's uniform was approaching with a computer pad held in one hand. "We'll continue this discussion later, in private, if that's all right with you. I'd rather not be overheard."
"I don't blame you," Velma said. "I've had enough new information to keep me busy for a while, anyway."
The waiter had paused beside their table. "May I take your order for drinks, while you make up your minds?"
Oliver smiled at her. "What would you like?"
Velma considered ordering a beer and then rejected the idea. "A glass of the house wine, I think."
"Red, white or rose?" the man asked.
"Rose," Velma said. The man entered that into his palm computer and turned to Oliver.
"I'll have Scotch on the rocks," Oliver told him. "And I thought we'd try your sampler tray for an appetizer, if that's all right with you, Vel."
"Excellent choice, sir," the man said. "It will be about ten minutes."
After the waiter had departed, Oliver glanced over the menu. "I think I'll have the steak and lobster."
"Don't you ever worry about gaining weight?" Velma asked curiously.
He smiled. "Not much. As long as I work out three times a week I seem to keep my boyish figure without any trouble."
Maybe it had something to do with his Kryptonian ancestry, she speculated. When they had first met, she'd noticed his broad shoulders and the fact that he didn't seem to carry an ounce of extra weight anywhere, even around his middle. "I guess it must," she said, a little enviously. "Don't any of your relatives ever get fat? I don't think I've seen even one with a spare tire -- and if that barbecue was any example, they should!"
He shrugged. "I never thought about it. What would you like?"
Velma glanced at the menu. "I'm not sure. What would you recommend?"
"Do you like lobster?"
She laughed. "On my salary? I think I've eaten lobster about twice in my life."
"Then live a little," he suggested.
"Well...all right," she said.
The waiter was back with their drinks and the appetizers. He transferred them to the table, took their orders and departed again. Oliver got to his feet. "Would you like to dance?"
"If you don't mind if I step on your toes," Velma said. "I haven't danced in years."
"My feet are tough." Oliver took her hand and led her onto the dance floor.
Dancing with Oliver was a different sort of experience. Her previous dance partners hadn't been much better than she was. Oliver, however, was an excellent dancer and she found that it wasn't at all difficult to follow his lead. Being held in his light, firm clasp and guided around the floor in time to the music was a dreamlike experience, and she was almost startled when the music ended and he led her back to the table.
"You're not such a bad dancer," he said. "You didn't step on my toes once."
"I think that's more a testament to you than to me," she said dryly.
He grinned at her and she grinned back. "In that case, I'll have to take you out dancing more often," he said. "Give you a chance to get back in practice."
"I wouldn't mind," she told him, taking her seat once more. "Now, let's see what they have here. I'm starving."
They demolished the tray of appetizers in record time. Velma sat back, taking a sip of her wine, when motion just beyond the glass wall caught her eye and she looked up in time to see Superman glide by. He saw her and waved cheerfully at her. There was a chorus of oohs and aahs from the diners as he did so. Velma watched as he soared past and vanished into the darkness.
Oliver was smiling at her. "I guess my weird family doesn't intimidate you anymore, does it?"
"It never did," Velma said. "I always liked Superman and the others, even when I didn't know nearly as much about them as I do now. Now --" She put out a hand and he reached out to take it in his. "Now, I like them even more because they're your family."
"I'm glad of that," he said. "I'd hate it if they were to scare you off."
"That isn't likely," she said.
"Good," he said. The candle in the middle of the table reflected off the angles and planes of his face, giving him an exotic look. "They're pretty ordinary people, if you discount the extras."
"Well, I wouldn't describe them as ordinary," Velma said, "but I'm glad they're around. We might be able to do without them, but they make police work easier for the regular beat cops. I can't count how many of my men owe their lives to one or another of them."
"I know," he said. "We only have Ultra Woman in Houston, you know. She's well liked by the cops there, too. It used to make my dad jealous."
"Yeah. Eventually he realized he didn't have anything to worry about, though. Here comes our dinner," he added.
The waiter was floating their meal toward them on an anti-grav tray. Velma could smell the delicious aromas of food as he began to transfer the plates from the tray to the table and felt her mouth start to water. Most of the time, her meals consisted of a bowl of dry cereal for breakfast, a hastily grabbed sandwich from the nearest roach coach or a burger from McFeegle's for lunch and a frozen dinner heated in her apartment's tiny kitchen before she went to bed. It wasn't the kind of program that made for much in the way of socializing and she hadn't realized how much she missed the company until Oliver had begun showing up in Metropolis after work for the express purpose of seeing her.
The dinner, as might be expected from a high quality restaurant such as the Sky Lounge, was excellent. The food seemed to melt in her mouth and her choice of dinner companion couldn't have been better. When she and Oliver had started dating a few months before, Velma hadn't been at all sure of this. She was forty years old and had been a cop for twenty of those years. She wasn't particularly pretty, at least in her own view, and it was hard to understand what Oliver Brent saw in her. But as time went on, she found that the hard, cynical shell that she had developed as a cop, to insulate herself from the sometimes really awful aspects of her job, was somehow melting away when she was with him. Now she acknowledged that, silly as it might seem, she had actually managed to fall in love -- something that she'd thought would never happen to her.
She became aware that Oliver was watching her through the ruddy light of the candle glowing in the center of their table, and he was smiling slightly.
"What?" she asked.
"I was just thinking how attractive you look," he said.
"Me?" Velma almost snorted but refrained because of the hallowed premises that they occupied. "I'm not attractive."
He shook his head. "You are to me. I noticed it the day I met you," he said. "I walked into your office and saw you and --" He smiled.
"And realized I hoped that you weren't married," he said. "You were the woman I'd been looking for all my life."
Velma stared at him. She knew what she looked like. She didn't scare dogs and children but she'd never been more than barely passable in the looks department. Plain, was the word that came to mind, and her figure wasn't even worth mentioning. She was thin and angular, and lacked all but the most minimal of feminine curves. But Oliver wasn't lying. Physically, he was tall and slender with broad shoulders and regular features, rendered more distinguished by the faint dusting of silver above his ears. He was the kind of man that women noticed and undoubtedly could have attracted almost any female he wanted, but for some reason he wanted her. That telepathic bond must be a pretty powerful force. There was no other explanation for it.
"It must be pheromones," she said. "I can't understand it otherwise."
He grinned at her, a flash of straight white teeth. "Well, they say love is blind, and I think I've been in love with you since the day we met."
She swallowed the lump that tried to form in her throat. "I may be going crazy," she faltered, "but I...I think I love you too. Do people fall in love for the first time at forty?"
"If they couldn't, there'd be a lot of people in my family who were by themselves," he said. He looked up as the waiter approached to set the dessert menu on the table. Oliver glanced at it and smiled at Velma. "Do you trust me?"
"Absolutely," she told him.
"We'll have two of your signature chocolate mousse desserts," Oliver told the man. He handed the menu back and turned back to Velma. "I had a question I wanted to ask you tonight."
"Yes." He reached for her hand and folded it between both of his. Velma wished for a moment that her hands could look like Lori Lyons' hands -- smooth and pretty instead of brown and leathery from the sun but Oliver didn't seem to care. He lifted it to his lips and kissed the knuckles. "I know I'm no bargain, but I can't imagine not having you in my life now. Would you even consider marrying me?"
She gulped. He was looking at her hopefully and Velma tried to control the butterflies that seemed to be fluttering around in her stomach. She had never heard those words before, at least being spoken to her -- had never thought she would. And yet Oliver Brent, a man who had waited all of his life to find the right woman, was asking her that very thing, and he had made it plain that he meant every word.
"You're sure?" she asked. "I'm no bargain either, you know."
"I'm sure," he said. "Will you?"
She hesitated. "Wouldn't you like to try a six month contract first -- just in case?"
"Is that what you want?"
"I just want you to be certain," she whispered. "I don't think I could stand it if things turned out wrong."
"I don't want a six month contract unless that's what you want," he said. "I've been sure since the day we met, but it's up to you."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She'd never done anything on impulse in her life and didn't intend to start now, but it wasn't impulse that drove her answer. She'd known for months that she wanted him. She'd just never dared to hope that, bond notwithstanding, he would want her enough ask her to marry him. She opened her eyes. "Yes," she said.
The smile that lit his face almost blinded her. From somewhere he had produced a ring box and Velma found herself looking at a diamond engagement ring. He slipped it over her finger and she somehow wasn't surprised to realize that it fit perfectly.
Apparently they missed nothing in the Sky Lounge. The waiter had reappeared with their chocolate mousse and the man was smiling as he set the dishes before them. "Champagne, sir?" he inquired.
"Definitely," Oliver said.
Half an hour later, after finishing dessert and enjoying two more dances, they left the Sky Lounge and waited while one of the parking valets retrieved her car. Velma kept looking at the ring on her finger. It wasn't a large diamond but it was beautiful. The streetlights reflected off the facets in little rainbow flashes of brilliance.
"I keep expecting to wake up and find out I'm dreaming," she told Oliver.
"So do I," he said. "What kind of wedding do you want?"
"I mean, do you want a big fancy one, a little one in front of a magistrate with a couple of witnesses or maybe one with just a few close friends and family?"
"What do you want?"
"I'm open to suggestions. Big weddings aren't my style but my mom will never forgive me if she isn't invited. Of course," he added, with an innocent look, "I can always claim that you didn't want one."
She elbowed him in the side. "Right. That would be a terrific way to start off my relationship with my in-laws. I suppose we could get by with a few friends and family, though. I don't really care for big weddings either."
"Is that what you really want? No white lace and satin?"
"Can you really see me in a getup like that?" she demanded.
He smiled. "Well, maybe. You must have a few relatives you'd like to invite, though."
"Just a few. My mother and father, and my brother's family. And some of my friends at the Precinct."
"That sounds all right. I'd like to invite some friends I work with, too. And my three sisters, my mom and dad, and grandparents on Mom's side. And we should probably invite Clark and Lori."
"I was going to suggest them," Velma said. "But why, specifically?"
"I'll let Clark explain it," Oliver said.
A suspicion was hovering just beneath the surface but she didn't voice it. In the first place it seemed highly unlikely, and, for another, Oliver didn't want to talk about his family in specifics where they might be overheard. "Okay, I'll ask him."
Their car drew up at the curbside and the valet hopped out, leaving the engine running. Oliver tipped him and they got in. Velma drove carefully out of the lot and turned her car in the direction of the apartment house where she lived. "When is your ride picking you up?"
"Anxious to get rid of me?"
"Not a bit."
He glanced at his wrist. "I'm hitching a ride back in about an hour," he said. "I have to work in the morning, unfortunately."
"So do I. I guess we'll have to work on this later."
"Not too much later. I've waited a long time for the right woman. I don't want to wait much longer. Next weekend seems like a good time to get married."
"Oliver Brent! I haven't the foggiest idea how to put together something like this on that kind of notice! I've never planned a social occasion in my life!"
"I think we should fly to Vegas. Clark tells me there's a good wedding service at the Old Wagon Wheel Casino. They can handle the reception, too."
"How would Clark know that?"
"Well -- he and Lori got married in Vegas. He wouldn't recommend the place they went for the ceremony, though."
Velma turned onto Heavenly Avenue where her apartment was located. The area was anything but heavenly but maybe she wouldn't be living there much longer. "That's an idea. We can talk it over tomorrow, after work."
Velma parked the little car and they got out.
"Would you like to come up for coffee?"
"I was hoping you'd ask," Oliver said.
Velma's apartment house was a security apartment, which she had chosen for obvious reasons. Together, they strolled toward the entrance. As they approached the building, two figures rose out of the shadows by the steps that led up to the door and Velma saw the flash of light reflecting from a knife blade in the hand of the man on her left.
Oliver caught her arm and stepped in front of her.
"Give us your purse, lady," a deep voice said.
Velma tossed the purse to the ground.
"And you, mister. Your wallet!"
Oliver's wallet hit the ground as well. "You have everything. Just take it and go."
"Not yet. Let's have that ring, lady!"
Her ring. The ring Oliver had just given her. Instinctively, she took a step back.
One of the dark figures moved forward swiftly and a hand seized her wrist. "Give it here!"
"Give it to him, Vel." Oliver's voice was low and intense. "We can get another one."
Velma hesitated and then started to remove the ring. The mugger, however, shoved his own knife into his belt, seized her hand and wrenched at the ring with the other hand. Velma cried out as he bent her finger backwards.
"Let her alone!" Oliver half-turned instinctively, and the second man was on him, the knife he held flashing upward. Oliver caught the knife hand and the two men went down in a scuffle. The man who held Velma glanced instinctively at them and Velma twisted her imprisoned hand, seized him by the arm and yanked him forward. With her free hand, she reached under his arm and caught his forearm from behind, and an instant later had immobilized her attacker in a punishing armlock. She forced him to the ground on his face and planted a knee in his back, then, delicately removed the knife from his belt.
Oliver had disabled his own attacker and glanced at her. "Help will be here in a minute." As he spoke, there was a whoosh of air and a dark figure in spandex landed on the sidewalk beside them.
"Is everything all right?"
"Yes," Velma began, and then saw that Oliver was clutching his side and something dark was leaking between his fingers. "Oliver!"
In a burst of wind, the spandex-clad figure bound the two muggers, fastened their arms to the railing of the apartment house's steps and bent to scoop Oliver Brent up. "I'll take him to the emergency room," Tan-El said. "You'd better call for backup." In a whoosh of air he was gone.
The thin little man behind the desk looked up to meet Velma Chow's eyes. "Yes?"
"Lieutenant Chow, Metro Police," Velma said. "Tan-El brought in a man with a stab wound about an hour ago. His name is Oliver Brent. Where was he taken?"
The receptionist consulted his computer screen. "Oliver Brent? He's in Recovery. I'm afraid you'll have to wait to speak to him, Officer."
"You don't understand," Velma said. She twisted the diamond on her finger. The ring felt unfamiliar and a little strange. "Inspector Brent is -- is my fiance. How is he?"
"Your fiance?" The receptionist glanced at her uniform and then back at the screen. "He's in Recovery Room 2 on the Fourth floor. That's Surgery. I doubt they'll let you in, but you can go up and wait in the lounge. Looks like his sister's already there." The man looked past her at the next person in line. "Next."
The waiting room on Fourth already had two persons in it. Velma, expecting one of Oliver's sisters, was almost startled at the sight of Rhonda Klein sitting in one of the armchairs. Her husband, Mason -- Oliver's father, Velma thought -- sat in another, a magazine, unopened, in his lap. The superwoman appeared to be staring straight at the wall and it took Velma only a second to realize that Oliver's mother was watching her son in the recovery room, four doors away. Probably listening to whatever was being said there, too. Careful not to make a sound, Velma entered on tiptoe and took a seat on the cracked leather sofa.
Abruptly, Rhonda seemed to become aware of her and turned her head. "Velma! What happened to Oliver?"
"How is he?" Velma asked. "Is he going to be all right?"
Rhonda nodded. "CJ called Mason and me right away. He said Oliver was stabbed in a mugging. He's out of surgery. He's waking up and he looks like he's going to be fine."
Unexpectedly, Velma, who hadn't cried in years, felt the sting of tears in her eyes. She fished in her handbag, produced a crumpled tissue, and defiantly blew her nose. Rhonda moved suddenly to sit beside her. "Are you all right?"
Velma nodded, dabbed at her eyes and lifted her chin. "Sorry. I was worried."
Rhonda reached out a finger and touched the diamond. "He asked you."
Velma nodded. "And then we ran into a pair of thugs with knives that tried to take it."
"What happened?" Rhonda asked.
"How's he doing?" Velma asked. Rhonda glanced back at the wall and narrowed her eyes.
"All right. He's awake and his vitals are good."
Velma closed her eyes. "I was afraid I was going to lose him."
"Oliver's tougher than you might think," Rhonda said. "He's out of danger. You can relax. I gather the muggers are in custody?"
"Yes. As soon as I explained what happened, the guys at the Precinct sent me over here. They're taking care of the paperwork."
"What did happen?"
Velma explained in a few brief sentences the events of the evening. Rhonda continued to look through the wall at the interior of the recovery room and report on Oliver's progress. She had barely finished when Lara and William Klein entered the room, and a few moments later, Clark Kent and Lori, carrying their four-month old daughter, Mary.
"How is he?" Clark asked.
"He's all right," Rhonda Klein said. "I'd say he's not going to be going to work tomorrow, though -- or Velma, either." She touched Velma's arm. "The doctor is coming. I think he's going to tell us one of us can see him."
"Tell him I'm here," Velma said.
Rhonda put an arm around her shoulders. "I'm not going in," she said. "I'm sure he'd much rather see you."
Velma was conscious of a sense of surprise and gratitude. Oliver's mother winked at her. "I want my son to have what's best for him," she said. "That's you."
A man in green scrubs appeared in the doorway. He looked at Rhonda. "Are any of you here for Oliver Brent?"
"We all are," Rhonda said. "How is he?"
"Groggy, but doing well. I'm Dr. Winters, his surgeon. If you would like to see him, I'll allow one person in. But no more than five minutes."
Rhonda gave Velma a nudge. "This is his fiancee. I'm sure he'd rather see her than anyone else."
Dr. Winters smiled. "I'm sure he would." He pointed down the hallway. "Recovery Room 2, Ma'am."
Velma rapped hesitantly on the door, which was opened for her by another man in green scrubs. "I'm Velma Chow -- Mr. Brent's fiancee."
"Oh. All right." The man -- his nametag identified him as G. Duvall, R.N. -- pointed to a partially curtained bed on the right. "Right there, Ms. Chow."
Velma went quickly to the curtained cubicle. Oliver was there, his eyes closed, and an attendant glanced around as she pulled back the curtains. She shook Oliver's shoulder gently. "Mr. Brent, there's someone here to see you!" she said in a raised voice.
Oliver's eyes opened and he looked hazily at her. "Vel?"
She moved forward and took his feebly groping hand in hers. "It's me," she said. "Oh, Oliver! I was afraid you were --"
He smiled drowsily. "You're not getting rid of me that easily, pretty lady. How about we get married as soon as I get out of here?"
She wiped away the tears that were trying to spill down her cheeks. "I'll marry you any time you want!"
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."
Oliver Brent raised the modest veil from her face and kissed her. Velma was distantly aware of the cheers of the spectators, mingled with several whistles of appreciation from a number of the men from her Precinct and Oliver's who were attending the ceremony, so it must, she thought, be a fairly satisfactory kiss. Oliver raised his head, gazed down at her with the smile that always seemed to be in his eyes when he looked at her, and kissed her again.
"I never thought we'd get here," he murmured to her as they turned to face their guests, although quite a few of those guests probably heard him, Velma thought. Every one of the supermen who were residents of Metropolis were present in their civilian identities, as well as Oliver's immediate family. Several cousins and a couple of nieces and nephews had also managed to attend. A glance at Oliver's grandparents in the second row showed her that they were grinning widely as was his cousin, John Olsen. Lori Lyons, seated in the third row beside her husband, lifted a thumb to Velma and winked.
Oliver's mother, the redoubtable Rhonda Klein, had managed to put this thing together in three weeks, much to Velma's relief. Ronnie, as she'd told Velma to call her, was an expert at organization and had managed to plan a brief, straightforward ceremony for them, to be followed by an equally simple reception. Velma had an idea that she was going to like Oliver's family a lot. She still needed to ask Clark Kent that question, but it could wait. Oliver was much more important, and it didn't really matter how "Cousin Clark" fitted into the family tree anyhow. If he'd waited around a hundred years or so for an ordinary Police Captain to ask him if he was really the original Superman, hiding quietly among the rest of his super-family, he could wait a little longer.
As she and her new husband walked back down the aisle, hand in hand, she saw her mother and father smiling, and her mother wiping away tears. Her brother and sister-in-law were seated beside them and Hailie Chow, their teenage daughter, cast an admiring look at Oliver, but Oliver didn't seem to notice. The ushers opened the double doors for them and Oliver and Velma, followed by the wedding party, exited the tiny chapel and spilled out into the sunlight.