Chapter 48

"Always towards the Horizon"

Space

The Javelin elegantly moved through the unending silence towards its destination, Earth. They were still a few days out.

Happy.

Clark Kent was a happy man. If you had told him a year ago he would be married to Zatanna and at his wedding would be a singing whale, witches, several pigs, other assorted fairy tale characters, Tsaritsa, the Queen of Fables and a whole boat load of alien royalty, he would have asked you what universe were you talking about.

It turned out it was this one.

It was late.

He smiled down at his sleeping bride sprawled all over him and the bed. Zatanna Zatara Kent, he loved the sound of it.

The whole journey to this point had been rather surreal, but he wasn't complaining. He'd left on this mission confused and unsure of his future. He was returning happy and looking forward to whatever might come.

Hope.

It sometimes seemed funny him that so many saw him as a symbol of hope. Many called him the Man of Tomorrow. Yet in his most private moments, he had begun to doubt what the future would hold for him. Before they left on this trip he was feeling more and more cut off from his adopted world and its people. He was even starting to think perhaps his future lay somewhere else, out here among the stars.

He'd found his hope again in the unlikeliest of places, the beautiful young woman in his arms. On the journey to Illyria she'd reminded him of who he used to be, that kid growing up in Kansas. He'd almost forgotten what it was like to just be Clark Kent. Just sitting around and laughing, tell stories and even being a little silly with friends. Those little ordinary things that we all take for granted seemed so precious when you think you've lost them.

She showed him he hadn't lost them. They were still there just waiting for the right person to bring them out again. That was a gift Zatanna had given him almost as special as her love. They were moments he would always cherish, sitting around playing cards, telling ghost stories and wearing balloon hats. Others would look at them and think they were all nonsense, but to him they had started the process of pulling him back towards his humanity.

He leaned down and lightly kissed her forehead and then shifted her over on the bed. Silently he got up to check on the ship and their course. Clark stopped at the doorway and just looked at her, feeling like the luckiest man in the universe. Perhaps all newlyweds feel that way, wondering how they got so lucky to find the one person just for them.

Reluctantly he turned and started for the pilot's chair. He had to smile at the trail of baby powder and melting ice that led to Wally's room. It seemed Princess Sabine had outdone herself in saying goodbye. Clark had to bite his lower lip as he remembered Wally staggering into the ship muttering 'she broke it' over and over.

Rest well, my friend and dream of races yet to be run.

A quick check of the instruments showed that everything was running smoothly and they were right on coarse. Clark stood looking out at the stars and his thoughts turned to those departed. Jor-El and Lara, Jonathan and Martha Kent were no longer alive but they were always with him. He liked to think they were all somewhere smiling down on him, knowing their boy was happy.

Some might say it was destiny that he ends up with Zatanna. Privately, Clark wasn't sure he still believed in destiny. Looking out at the stars, he'd begun to believe that most of the time we're just stumbling blindly forward and when we look back it seems to make sense. There is such randomness to life. The mind has a need to find patterns even if they aren't there, to give us a sense of purpose and meaning. Maybe there isn't an overall meaning to it, just the momentary sensations of living when it gets right down to it.

Clark used to try and make some meaning out of his life. He looked at the events as if they were leading him towards some ultimate goal. He thought when he finally arrived; he would understand what his life was really about. Superman. That seemed for a time like the inevitable outcome of what his life had been building towards. Before leaving on this mission he'd begun to ask himself is this all there is? Was his destiny just to become Superman completely?

Once that doubt was there, others followed. He began to think about his life in a different way. There must have been other children born on Krypton at the same time he was. They had all the promise and potential abilities he did. The only difference was his parents came from privilege. They had the private resources to build a rocket to carrying their only child to safety. Who can say there weren't other parents just as desperate to save their children, they just didn't have the means to do it.

Was it destiny that his parents were rich and others were poor? Was it as simple a thing as money that decided that he got to have a future and a destiny and others didn't?

Jonathan and Martha Kent weren't rich, yet they had played just as important a role in his life. They were simple people, yet they had raised him with love as their own. He would always be grateful to them for that, but Clark knew he wasn't the only child whose parents loved him.

Maybe it wasn't destiny at all, but the people we meet in our life that help shape us. Maybe something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or Zatanna coming on this mission instead of Dr. Fate or Diana changes what we believe is our destiny. It might be as simple as a choice we make.

Clark thought about Lois. Part of him was still in love with her and maybe always would. When he had finally told her who he really was, he'd thought that would solve so many problems. The opposite turned out to be true. In the end he had been forced to erase those memories from her mind to protect her. Once he made that decision, he knew there was no going back. To continue to be with her and face the real possibility that he would tell her and then have to take that knowledge away again didn't seem like love to him, it was cruelty.

If he truly cared for her, he had to let her go.

The past slips away and the future is always just beyond our grasp. There is only now, this moment.

With Zatanna there was that same urge to protect her, but if she'd made anything clear to him, it was she wouldn't stand for that. The second night of their ongoing honeymoon they were in each other's arms and talking about the future. She said her eyes were open and she knew there would be dangers, but she would face them. She had talked with Tsaritsa and was just starting to realize how powerful she might be. If he loved her and wanted to see her reach that potential, he would have to let her struggle and grow on her own.

Besides, she told him, he had married her for better and for worse. Magic was one of his weaknesses and if he tried shielding and protecting her like that, he would quickly learned what the worse could be from his new magical wife. It was the first time he had said the words 'yes dear' but somehow he knew it wouldn't be the last.

His wife.

Zatanna Kent, he just liked saying it. When they got back to Earth, he would probably end up being called Mr. Zatanna more often than her being called Mrs. Kent. While he had built a small reputation in Metropolis as a reporter, she was a famous magician. Well, he thought, there are worse things than being Superman and Zatanna's husband.

It seemed like a blink of an eye had passed since Zatanna had called the Watchtower and told everyone they were getting married. It was like they were caught in the whirlwind, images and thoughts flashing by one after another.

The Wedding.

Clark remembered sitting with Zatanna, surrounded by Wally, Sabine, the other royals, Tsaritsa and the fairy tale characters. They both had a stunned look on their face as the preparations for their wedding were discussed. Like many things on Illyria, their traditional wedding ceremony was best described as unusual. How pole vaulting figured into it, Clark still wasn't sure.

King Alexander seemed genuinely surprised when Clark told him "Rawhide" wasn't really Earth's theme song. Wally had suggested "The Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance. That got him kicked off the music selection committee and a smack from Zatanna.

Clark learned the one truism of being a groom. Other than showing up, he wasn't really involved. For the most part he just sat there nodding in agreement with whatever Zatanna and the other women picked out. He was more than a little lost in the discussion of taffeta versus pure silk. In the end, Tsaritsa and the three witches served as unofficial wedding coordinators for the event.

When Clark had asked Wally to be his best man, there were actual tears in Wally's eyes. He was disappointed Clark wouldn't let him throw him a bachelor party. Snowball and Punch offered to help, but Clark had declined. Wally almost didn't make it to the wedding from the look Zatanna gave him when he joked about how she must be kidding wearing white. The whole room had gotten very quiet and both Wally and Clark gulped in fear waiting for her reacting. Don't joke with a bride about her wedding day they would both remember for as long as they lived.

For the most part, the rest of the day and most of the wedding was a blur to Clark. There was one moment though, one special magical moment. He was standing nervously on the low stage in the great hall of Magi, wearing Illyria's version of a black tux. Wally was next to him and the ceremony had started. He remembered looking around, the whole scene something out of Alice in Wonderland. There was a huge crowd, as the Illyrians really liked weddings, any weddings. The head Mage stood stoically facing Clark, waiting to perform the ceremony.

Willy the whale came out and the orchestra began to play. It wasn't the wedding march, but Nessun Dorma sung by Willy. It reminded Clark of the time he'd seen Pavarotti sing it. Princess Sabine was the first bridesmaid. Streamers and confetti begin to fall, swirling in the air throughout the great hall. Willy the whale's powerful voice was pure and resonated throughout the building.

"che tremano d'amoree di speranza"

(watch the stars, that tremble with love and with hope)

Clark felt his breath catch in his throat as Zatanna appeared. She was a vision. As Willy hit a high note, she started down the central aisle. A long white, form-fitting gown with train, along with veil adorned her. She carried a simple bouquet of wild flowers. To those attending or watching the broadcast around Illyria it must have seemed like grand theatre or opera. Zee looked every bit a fairy tale Princess.

It was that one moment, just seeing her and any remaining doubts or worries vanished.

Tsaritsa had coordinated it perfectly, Willy finished the song just as Zee stepped to Clark's side. He slowly lifted her veil and she smiled at him. He knew he was more than a little bias, but she was the most beautiful woman in the world to him in that moment.

What followed next snapped them both back into just how surreal this all was. Bowing to Illyrian tradition, there was a brief period where several attendees did some pole vaulting around the main stage. Clark was sort of sure it meant good luck, but that was really just a guess. Wally got so caught up in the moment he gave it a go. Seeing him and Princess Sabine go flying by wasn't something Clark or Zatanna would soon forget. Nor would Wally crashing into the first few rows and sending royals and fairy tale characters head over heels.

It a strange way it made some sort of sense, but Clark guessed you had to be there.

The actually vows were rather streamlined in the Illyrian tradition.

"I pledge to love you and do everything in my power to make you happy."

They both said it and then the rings were put in each other's finger.

It wasn't necessary, but Punch and Judy felt compelled to shouted out,' kiss her you fool!'

"I got this covered, guys,' Clark told them and then took Zatanna in is arms and gave her a passionate kiss. More streamers, confetti, balloons and glitter drifted down from the ceiling, as the entire gathering stood and cheered. After a rather long and scorching kiss, the new husband and wife made their way down the main aisle through the well wishers.

Steve the ogre was waiting at the bottom of the steps with a glittering horse drawn carriage. Ushering Zatanna inside, they made their way through the packed streets of cheering spectators to the palace where the reception was to be held.

One thing about the Illyrians, they know how to throw a party. Clark lost count of the toasts at forty-seven. An amazing seven-course dinner was served and then there was dancing.

Willy the whale showed his range shifting into some popular standards. The third witch surprised everyone by having a beautiful voice and doing some contemporary upbeat country songs. Wally shouted for the 'Chicken Dance Song' but thankfully no one else seemed to know it.

Clark and Zatanna danced several slow songs. The rest of the party seemed to fade away when they were in each other's arms.

The liquor was flowing freely and everyone seemed in very high spirits. Of course, at Wally's urging, the tempo of the music picked up. Clark remembered blushing a little as Princess Sabine showed an almost eerie knack for working the pole during one dance. He hated to judge anyone, but boy she really did seem like a nympho.

Clark and Zatanna stayed till almost midnight. By that time everyone was feeling no pain and in very high spirits. Zee had tossed the bouquet and Tsaritsa had caught it. There was more poll vaulting and the dancing just got wilder and wilder. As they were leaving, they could see Wally and Sabine take to the center of the dance floor. Wally had indulged in quite a bit of champagne by that point and flung his jacket into the crowd and shouted they were going to do 'the Lambada, the Forbidden Dance!'

What they actually did, Clark wasn't sure. He did think it would probably be illegal in several states back home.

Just as they were heading out the door, Zee stopped Clark and pointed to the side. He turned to see Tsaritsa and King Alexander dancing quietly together. Next to them King Rudolf and his wife, Queen Flavia were dancing as well. This brought a smile to both Clark and Zatanna's faces. They slipped out, knowing the party would be going on for several more hours.

They didn't need the carriage any more. Clark took Zatanna in is arms and slowly floated up from the palace and flew them out of the city. The two kings had graciously offered a summer cottage on the other side of the lake for their honeymoon. It was very isolated and they had the whole place to themselves.

Standing at the front of the Javelin, looking out at the stars, Clark had to sigh and smile as he remembered their wedding night. He had carried her over the threshold just like you see in the movies. Zatanna whispered in his ear what Tsaritsa had told her about being a Magi and how they weren't going to need the magic red light from now on. Clark had been nervous about this the first time, but was more than happy to find out it was true.

They spent three glorious days together in that cottage and probably could have spent more. They finally both decided it was time to go home. As amazing as the wedding was, they both wished their friends had been there. That was where their lives were and they were eager to get back.

It took awhile to get in contact with Wally. The first few times Clark tried he only got static, crying and screaming. When they finally did reach him, he sounded a little delirious but thanked them over and over.

There was the business of saying their goodbyes to all the new friends they had made. The Kings and Queens, along with Sabine and the fairy tale characters wished them well and hoped they returned. There were hugs all around. Clark could feel Zatanna's disapproving eyes on him as Princess Sabine gave him a rather length and suggestive hug. She followed this by giving Zee the same thing and then moved on to Wally.

Clark had the good manners not to listen to what she whispered in Wally's ear as she hugged him, but from the sobs coming from Wally, Clark had a pretty good idea.

Everyone followed them out to the Javelin to watch them depart. They were just about to go, when Tsaritsa came up to them. There were tears in her eyes as she thanked Clark and Zatanna for what they had given her back. She wished them well and hoped they found happiness in their life together. They all exchanged hugs and then it was time to leave.

Clark and Zatanna had to help Wally onto the Javelin. As Clark fired up the engines and started the take off, Zee helped Wally into the portable bathtub and with a wave of her hand filled it with ice. Wally managed to say 'bless you' before he surrendered to sleep.

That was over a week ago. Wally was still in his own world recovering and Clark and Zatanna had been enjoying their honeymoon. Marriage for them just got better and better with each passing day.

They had discussed what would happen when they got back to Earth. They would need to have another wedding, hopefully something smaller, less formal with just their friends. There were still all the questions that come after getting married. The practical things like where they would live and such, but there were also other issues.

When Zatanna had told everyone they were getting married, Bruce had left a rather grim message that when Clark got back he wanted to have a man-to-man talk with him about the marriage. Clark had the distinct feeling Bruce was going to act like Zee's big brother and threaten him if he didn't make her happy. Well, the whole thing has been surreal up till now, why should things change?

There was also Diana. That she's passed out on hearing the news was a surprise. Clark would have to talk to her and see if she was okay. On the bright side, she would probably forget how angry she was about him letting her win and it would finally put an end to the rumors about the two of them sleeping together on missions.

Clark still couldn't figure out how that got started. It had only been one mission, they were both bored and she was in the mood to find out what it was like. He had been wise enough to keep his mouth shut and just go with it. Frankly she didn't seem to enjoy it that much the first time, but after that she really got in the spirit of it. It was her idea that it was just a one-time thing and they would never tell anyone about it.

"Clark? Are you coming back to bed?'

He turned to see Zatanna, his wife, he just loved saying that, standing with a sheet wrapped around her looking spectacular.

"Yes, I just wanted to check on everything out here,' he replied. "I'll be right in."

"Don't keep your wife waiting Clark,' she said with a teasing smile. "She's awake and in the mood."

"Yes dear."

She laughed and went back into the room. Clark did a quick check off everything and than started back.

The future will get here soon enough, he thought. If there really is only this moment, than this is a fairy tale.

We'll live happily ever after.

(A/N - That's where it ends. Thank you to everyone that read it and a special thank you to those that read and reviewed it. I read them all and appreciate it. Until next time.)