Clark was folding his laundry when he heard the front door open. He turned around, and smiled to see it was Lois.
"Hey," he called over his shoulder. "I'm almost ready."
"You're taking me flying – you'd better hurry! This girl is impatient to celebrate!" she said, laying that morning's copy of the Daily Planet on top of the pile of laundry.
"'Superman saves the day,'" he read the headline aloud. "Isn't that a little… I don't know—much?"
"Clark, look at me," she said, grabbing him by the shoulders to face her. "You're a hero. The world knows it now – and the best part is, Clark Kent can still be the average guy… you'll see."
"I hope so—still haven't gotten used to the glasses, though. I bought some new ones yesterday—what to do you think?" he asked, reaching into a drawer to pull out a pair of thick, black glasses.
Lois stifled a chuckle. "You're adorable, Clark. No matter what you wear…And Superman," she sighed dreamily, just to tease him. "Well… he told me he's taking me flying—so let's hurry and finish this laundry!"
She reached over to the basket to give him a hand. "Don't expect this kind of treatment every day," she said, gamely helping him sort his clothes. "You DO wear an awful lot of blue and red, though…" she giggled, pulling out a pair of red underwear.
"Hey!" he said, snatching it out of her hand.
"Clark, I think you're blushing!" she teased, reaching back into the laundry basket.
She pulled out a worn black t-shirt, and it gave her sudden pause. There was a large gash through the front of it. Her smile faded as she fingered the rent in the shirt. "Why do you still have this?" she whispered, all levity gone at the memory the shirt brought to mind.
He gently took it from her to fold it. "To remind myself that I am not always invincible."
"Clark, when I saw you that day—" she began hesitantly.
"Wait, you saw me?" he said, his eyes searching hers. "How?"
Lois paused a moment, but then continued. "I—I had just come back. From the future. And you—your future self warned me that you were in danger… I -reappeared on the roof of the Planet—Clark, the longest moment of my life was the space between me arriving back in the present and finding you on the ground. I thought—I thought you were dead."
"Loisss," he said, caressing her name, and pulling her into his embrace. "What did you do?"
She stepped back just enough to look at him, and Clark was surprised by the tears he saw in her eyes. "The only thing I could do – I pulled the stake from your chest."
Again, he drew her to him, kissing her gently at her temple. "Lois—you saved me."
She wiped her eyes, and then they lit up with a smile once more. "It's only fair, Smallville," she said quietly but full of warmth. "You save me on a regular basis… " She suddenly turned back to the laundry basket, shaking off her burst of emotion as she folded his last pair of jeans. "Chores' all done," she said brightly, hefting the basket onto her hip to take upstairs. "So, about that flight?"
Lois stood on the porch in the late afternoon, the prettiest time of day in Smallville, in her opinion. The wheat fields looked golden in the sunlight. The light blue sky beckoned to her – she couldn't wait to fly in Clark's arms into that endless expanse…
Clark joined her on the porch a moment later, carrying an old winter jacket she had left at the Kent's ages ago.
"What's that for?"
"I don't want you to get cold—" he said a little shyly, holding it out for her to step into.
"Just, where are we going, exactly?" she asked as she zipped up the coat.
"Well, you'll see- are you ready?"
She nodded, and he suddenly spun into the Superman suit.
"Looks like we are going in style at least!"
Clark scooped her up in his arms, and they were suddenly taking off to the skies. Flying over the plains of Kansas was almost as spectacular as flying over the spires of Metropolis. Clark held her close. She could hear his cape fluttering behind him; his eyes were fixed on hers and not the direction they were flying, though she trusted with her whole being that he knew exactly where they were going.
After a few moments, he landed them on an old water tower. The sun was about to set in the distance, the fields looking like golden fire on the horizon.
"Nice view, isn't it?" Lois said, suddenly turning to face Clark –Superman. Lois couldn't help her hungry appraisal of how he looked in the suit—the royal blue spandex outlined all of his best features. The memory of his body close to hers during their flight was still warm on her skin...
She watched him as he pulled out from somewhere under his cape a golden ring, threaded through with a long gold chain. His face was ponderous, but when he looked up at her, his eyes seemed to lighten with purpose.
He stepped towards her, his blue eyes searching hers as he gently placed the long chain over her shoulders. "Lois, you have taught me so many things – how to believe in myself, how to be the Blur—even how to become Superman."
She was about to speak, but he raised his fingers gently to her lips. "Wait, let me finish—This ring, is the Legion ring. It is what took you to the future, and what brought you back to me. I want you to keep it safe – as I trust you will keep our future safe…"
He took a step back from her, and sweeping his scarlet cape behind him, he knelt before her, holding out another smaller, silver ring. "As you keep our future safe, I want to ask, in this moment, here and now—would you be my wife? Would you be there for me, as I promise to be there for you? You lift me up Lois, higher than I can fly," he said, gesturing to the sky above them. He suddenly stood, his warm hand reaching for hers, and his voice softened, struggling with great emotion. "And you ground me… You keep me sane in my insane life. I trust you to know parts of me that I don't know of myself… Lois, will you marry me?"
Lois touched the Legion ring he had placed in her possession, understanding the significance of trusting her with it. She cupped his hand that held the silver ring, gently patting the pure diamond that capped it. One silver, one gold – both representing aspects of his heart and his person. He was entrusting her with all of it—with all of him.
"Clark," she started, her other hand going to his jaw, feather light in its touch. "All I have wanted was you. To love you, and for you to trust me… even when I didn't understand why… I want to stand by you, help you- And I'll be there when you need saving, too," she said quietly, thinking of the blue stake she rescued him from. "Of course I'll marry you, Smallville. I wouldn't have it any other way."
His face lit up with a smile. Clark Kent was handsome even when he was brooding. But as an ebullient Superman, he was simply breathtaking.
He took her hand in his, and both of them were surprised that hers was trembling slightly. He kissed her fingers, stilling them on his lips, then slipped the silver ring onto her left hand.
Clark gathered her to him, his eyes searched hers, and joyously found the confirmation of love there. Like magnets seeking home, their lips suddenly met in an explosive kiss. The last and strongest rays of the setting sun seemed to light on them. Lois felt the warmth of it, the warmth of Clark's kiss… and forever after, the warm rays of the sun would always make her think of him.
They landed at the Fortress a short time later. Even a visit to the ice palace didn't dampen Lois' spirit though. Clark set her down inside, but didn't let go of her hand. She took comfort in the solid weight of it in hers, wondering how Jor-El would take their news.
"So, how does one ask for permission to marry on Krypton?" she asked a little nervously.
"The last time Kara was in town, she told me that the head of the House had to approve all life unions."
"Life unions? Will you stop being so romantic?" she teased.
"Kal-El, my son," came a voice from above them, "You have returned."
Clark stepped forward, not letting go of Lois' hand. "Jor-El, I come here today, as a Kryptonian, as a member of your House, and your son," he said clearly, his voice echoing against the ice that surrounded them. "In honor of our home, I'm here to declare my desire to start a life bond with this woman—Lois Lane."
"Lois Lane, have you learned the weight of responsibility that rests on both of your shoulders? Do you understand what it means to unite with my son?"
Lois stepped forward, letting go of Clark's hand for the moment. She didn't want to appear weak to Jor-El, even if she trembled inwardly at the sound of his voice.
"I have learned… I have also seen the future. I understand what it means to love Cl—er, Kal-El. I understand that there may be sacrifice in the future for the greater good – and I also understand that our love will see us through whatever lies ahead," she finished, directing her last words at Clark.
Clark's eyes met hers, confirming her words and convictions.
Clark came forward once again to clasp Lois' hand. "We pledge to stand by each other. And I pledge to honor the House of El, and protect the people of Earth," Clark said, then turning to Lois. "But I can only do so if this woman is by my side."
"Very well…" said the voice above and around them. "Lois Lane, do you truly wish to initiate a life union with my son?"
Lois squeezed Clark's hand, happily preparing herself to say the words that she hoped to say in front of all their family and friends very soon. "I do."
Silence seemed to ring for a moment in the ice cave, as they both waited for a response.
"Your pledge is observed," Jor-El finally responded.
"I think that's as good as 'you may now kiss the bride' as we're going to get," Lois nudged, smiling happily up at Clark.
He grinned back at her, then leaned down to oblige her.
"Wouldn't want to disappoint my new bride," he whispered in her ear as he nuzzled her neck, sending shivers down her spine.
"You could never disappoint, Clark," she answered, her mouth suddenly seeking his.
Even in the cold, alien ice cave, wrapped in Clark's arms, held by his gentle strength, Lois felt for the first time that she had truly come home. Not all of her adventures in the future, though, could have prepared her for this moment, this feeling of belonging. She knew it was the beginning of something extraordinary, something rare and special that they would both protect for as long as they lived.
She felt lighter all of the sudden, and glanced around, seeing that they were floating a few feet above the snow-packed floor. She clung tighter to Clark, her arms coming around his neck to bring him to her for another kiss.
"Looks like we're floating…" she murmured through a smile.
"Don't worry, Lois. I've got you," he said playfully, pulling her in closer.
She settled her head on his chest, enjoying their closeness and their special kind of embrace, imagining that they could stay like this forever. "Never had any doubt, Smallville. Never had any doubt…"