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The Marriage Project

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The Marriage Project

"I want a new mother."

Tim lifted his head and glanced over at Conner. "What?"

Conner idly levitated a few feet off the ground and crossed his legs. "I want a new mother. Only I've never had a mother before, so it wouldn't be a new mother so much as a mother, period." He sighed, "Everybody else gets to have two parents in their lives, and I've got one. Clark wasn't even there himself for the longest time."

"That's because he was dead!"

Kon waved his hand, dismissing that. "Whatever. Point is, I don't have parents. Not real parents. Everybody else gets to have parents but me. And Clark's kind of lonesome. I mean, he goes moping around all the time and periodically whines about Lois, but you know that's never going to work in a million years -- she bullies him as Clark and worships him as Superman and they're constantly getting together and breaking apart and it's just destroying Dad every time that happens. He's got to get over her and go out and find a real partner, somebody who can accept both sides of him." In a lower voice, Conner added, "Somebody who will accept me."

Tim grimaced. It was true enough that Lois refused to think of Conner as Clark's son. The way they'd been thrown together back when Kon was supposed to be Superman's replacement when Superman was dead hadn't helped, especially when Superman returned. Even though she knew better, Lois tended to look upon Kon more as an imposter and interloper rather than a son and a vital part of Superman's life.

"So," Tim cleared his throat. "Who did you have in mind?" He wasn't going along with this mad scheme, no, he wasn't. He was just... listening. Being a friend and listening. Yeah, that was it.

"Well, I was thinking maybe Batman."

If Tim had been eating, he would have choked. As it was, he couldn't make anything but strangled sounds for awhile. When he could finally speak, the first thing he said was, "I thought you wanted a mother!"

Kon shrugged, stretching out his legs and rotating in the air until he was lounging sideways, still a few feet off the ground. "Mother, father, whatever. Those are just words, anyhow. The sexes don't have that much different between them except the boobs – the boobs are very nice."

Conner's gaze grew distant and Tim was sure he was thinking of Cassie as he licked his lips and made a slight squeezing motion with his hands. Tim rolled his eyes.

"But as far as practicality goes, either would work fine for another parent, and Clark and Bruce get along really well."

"Are you insane?"

"No, really – they go out crime-fighting together all the time, their cities are fairly close, within an easy flying range, and they totally respect each other. Plus, if they got married, you and I could be brothers."

As if Tim wanted to be brothers with the insane idiot next to him. Brothers was not what he wanted. It might, however, be all he could get, especially if Kon was so focused on the boobs.

"What? What's that look for? What'd I do this time?"

With a sigh, Tim reluctantly agreed to work on Batman if Conner could get Superman to go along.

... ... ...

Bruce lifted the spoon to his lips and sipped the orange liquid delicately. "The gazpacho is delicious tonight, is it not?"

"Er, lovely," Clark poked at the cold vegetable soup and wondered if it was supposed to be cold. He presumed it was, though he wouldn't put it past the waiters to serve Bruce Wayne something warm and delicious while leaving the intruding low-class reporter with something cold and disgusting just to show him up as the philistine he was.

"So, um, how was your day?" Clark was determined to bring some sort of normalcy to this 'date', no matter how it had come about.

Bruce's dark eyebrows rose elegantly (they wouldn't dare to do anything less), and he practically purred his reply, "My day was only in limbo, waiting for this evening when I could be with you."

The purr washed over Clark, making him shiver. He coughed and reached for his water glass, forgetting until it was too late that there wasn't anything but the wine. That didn't make anything better. "Do you do that to all your dates?" He winced as he heard his words but didn't bother to fumble for a correction.

Bruce sighed and signaled to the waiter for the next course to be brought over.

They ate the fancy shrimp something-or-another in silence for awhile after that. Well, Bruce ate and Clark mostly shoved the obnoxious thing around on his plate. He wondered if Bruce ordered for all his dates. Probably.

Clark had eaten with millionaires before, but Ollie had always come down to Clark's level, eating in the cheaper restaurants and enjoying it. Lex... Lex had taken him out to fancy places, and yes, sometimes had ordered for Clark, but almost everything Lex had ordered, Clark had liked. It had made him feel grateful, not awkward.

In a desperate attempt to return things to normal, Clark blurted out, "I spent most of today tracking down the connections between some crime lords for a story we're working on."

Bruce's fork froze on the way to his mouth. Then he finished the trip, chewed, swallowed, and said, "That's nice." His eyes, however, were perfecting their death glare and said very clearly, "YOU IDIOT, NOT HERE!"

Clark winced and took another gulp of the wine. Well, at least he could get drunk. Oh, no, he couldn't even do that thanks to his alien metabolism. Instead, he sighed and didn't bother to keep it under his breath.

At last, the indeterminately long dinner was finally over and Bruce was escorting Clark out. Clark looked around to make sure nobody was within hearing range, then whispered, "So you want to go out crime fighting tonight?"

A grin quirked Bruce's face, rendering it more likable than all the false smiles of the evening. "I thought you'd never ask."

... ... ..

"Okay, so maybe not Batman." Conner slumped to the floor, actually touching the ground for once. "There must be somebody..."

... ... ...

Diana's tinkling laugh made Clark grin as he whirled her around on the dance floor. He wasn't a slouch at dancing, remembering all those lessons Lex had given him when they were younger, before they were enemies. He lost his grin with the thought, though his feet still moved automatically in the right patterns.

"Deep thoughts," Diana lightly said, her rich brown eyes sympathetic on his.

"Conner wants me to get married," Clark sighed, turning the thought to the other depressing thing in his life at the moment.

"That's obvious," Diana snorted, "considering how much work he went to maneuver us together tonight." She shook her head. "Has he even thought about the fact that Steve and I are already engaged?"

"Uh..." Clark tended to forget about it himself. Diana's soldier boyfriend was quiet and unpretentious. A hero, but content to live in peace now after the war, leaving the wild adventures to his Amazon warrior.

Diana grinned at him, recognizing the lapse and forgiving it. "We like it that way. Unnoticed means Steve isn't dragged into Justice League matters, and I'm only forced to rescue him from my personal enemies, not the super villains."

"Lex wouldn't do that," Clark automatically defended his ex-friend. Though Lord knew Lex kidnapped Lois often enough.

Diana threw back her head and laughed long and hard. "Oh, Clark. There's a reason you're still single."

... ... ...

"Clark, I've waited so long for this!" Oliver's eyes shone brightly as they walked into the movie theater together.

"It's a movie," Clark muttered. How the hell had he managed to let Conner talk him into this? It had taken Clark years to make Ollie realize that Clark only wanted to be friends. He hadn't realized when they'd first met just how hard the other superhero had fallen for him. The attention and devotion Ollie had shown, Clark had assumed was normal for friends. Chloe, Lex, Lana... Not Pete, thank the Lord, but then, Clark wasn't really friends with Pete anymore. Of course he also wasn't with Lex or Lana or Chloe, or... God, Clark sucked at this.

"A dark theater, where we can get seats in the back together, move the armrest up from between us, and ..." Oliver trailed off suggestively.

"Oh God," Clark said blankly, recognizing impending doom.

"Clark?" Ollie looked at him curiously.

"Emergency," Clark choked out. "Have to go."

He shoved the popcorn into Ollie's hands and super-speeded away. He was sure he could find an emergency somewhere in the world to assist at.

... ... ...

"He won't go out with any of them anymore!" Conner moaned. "I thought for sure Oliver would do the trick."

"You hate Green Arrow," Tim pointed out, not looking up from his laptop.

"Yeah, that's why he wasn't my first choice. But he really likes Clark and would do anything to make Clark happy."

"Except leave him alone."

Conner sighed. "Okay, the alternating deliveries of a dozen red roses and white tulips every day for a week after the failed date were a little overboard. You think if I did that to Cassie, she'd react the same?"

"Send them all to hospitals and refuse to come out of her room?" Tim finally looked up. "No, I think she'd throw them in the ocean and storm off in a snit. She's not a maiden in a romance novel."

"Yeah." Conner pondered.

"Maybe one or two, in her favorite colors, then leave it alone and see what the next move is," Tim suggested. "Flowers aren't bad in and of themselves, it's the excess and the assumption that goes with them."

"The annual Super Villains and Superheroes Ball is coming up," Conner announced, ignoring Tim's suggestion. "Clark has to go to that – it's a requirement for all top Justice League members. Maybe we can find him somebody there that he doesn't normally hang out with."

"What's this 'we' stuff?" Tim wondered. "And don't those balls always end in disaster when one pair or another starts fighting in the middle of it?"

"Well, yeah," Conner acknowledged, "but there's usually at least an hour or so of dancing first. And Clark likes dancing." He also ignored Tim's rebuttal of the 'we'.

Tim sensed impending disaster of a different kind.

... ... ...

Clark breathed in the faintly perfumed air of the ballroom. It was meant to mask the various scents the occasional unwashed heroes and villains brought in with them, and to neutralize any poisons or chemical controls anybody tried to release in the room.

Conner hadn't tried to force Clark into any more dates for the last few weeks. Clark would be thankful... yet he was also suspicious and worried. He didn't want to be distrustful of his only son, yet everything he knew about said son said it wasn't like Kon to give up that easily. Okay, Ollie had nearly been a disaster, but even so, Conner was stubborn, and he wanted Clark to marry.

With a forlorn sigh, Clark wandered around the ballroom, forcing a smile and a nod for his friends and enemies, yet with his heart not really in it. He admitted to himself that he was lonely. Lois and he were just never going to work out, as much as they wanted it to. They were too different, and neither one really saw or liked the other for who they were, ignoring the faults for the good things, until the faults came up and smacked them both in the face. But if not Lois, then who?

Clark's double-life left his acquaintances thin and far between. There were a lot of his fellow heroes who managed to date and marry normal people... and there were even more who failed. Dating other heroes was fun and exciting, partly for the relief that they could be themselves, yet that had its own set of problems. Each of them were tied to the areas they had sworn to protect, and if one seriously got involved... who would be the one to move, to abandon their people for a new set, moving into another hero's territory where their skills were perhaps not needed as they were in their own homes? No, there were some pretty huge obstacles to anything more than a casual date for heroes.

Not, apparently, as if it stopped Conner from trying. Clark blinked as Zatanna bowed with a flourish in front of him and asked him for a dance with good humor and a wink in Conner's direction.

At least Zatanna was a good dancer.

After her, there came a parade of heroes, major and minor. Even J'onn took a turn, as awkward as it was to see the Martian trying with his solemn way to figure out the dance steps. Clark took pity on him and pulled him to one side to show him some of the simpler forms, remembering with a bit of heartache how Lex had once taught him the same.

Reminded, Clark looked out across the ballroom, searching for his greatest enemy. Lex Luthor never missed the ball. None of the top villains did, but Lex, as always, did it with elegance and charisma. Making his late entrance and charming the masses, villain and hero alike. It was a night, after all, for dancing, not warring.

There he was. On the other side. Clark smiled briefly in acknowledgement as Lex tilted his glass towards him, each ignoring the distance between for a moment before they returned to their companions.

... ... ...

Lex turned back to Poison Ivy, careful to treat her with the respect somebody so deadly and so man-hating deserved. "I'm sorry, Pamela, what were you saying?"

Poison Ivy looked the same direction Lex had been, then she smiled with a twisted humor. "I should have known. Only Superman would have drawn your attention so completely."

"He is," Lex said smoothly, not showing his annoyance, "after all, my nemesis."

"Riiiight," Poison Ivy said, nodding in a way that both said "yes" and "there's more to it than that".

If it wasn't so gauche, Lex would have rolled his eyes. The rumors about he and Superman had persisted long past their youth when they were friends and there was, perhaps, some possibility to them. These years, though, there was nothing between him and Superman except hate. Nothing.

"Oh, I just heard the most delicious thing," Catwoman prowled up to them and inserted herself at Poison Ivy's side, rubbing up against her while reaching out to draw a long-nailed claw lightly along Lex's hand. She didn't draw blood, yet Lex could feel the tingling in his skin where she had passed.

Mentally, he reviewed all the anti-toxins he'd taken before coming to the ball, hoping that he'd used that particular one. His own healing was usually enough, but having to fight off the multiple poisons that would be used here was annoying. Villains tried it on everybody at the mixed ball, themselves and the heroes alike. It was, after all, all for fun.

"Really?" Poison Ivy asked, her normal blasé manner falling briefly away as her plants climbed out of her dress and twisted around before she called them back.

Lex had missed something while he was reviewing poisons. He hoped it wasn't that important.

Catwoman nodded and pointed a curved claw across the room. "See, there goes another one."

Turning to look, Lex didn't see anything unusual immediately, but then he saw Wonder Girl bowing in front of Superman and holding her hand out. Lex's eyebrows almost rose off his head as an expression of resignation crossed Superman's face and he lead the younger heroine out to the dance floor.

"Superman is on the prowl," Catwoman purred. "It's so delicious!"

Lex abruptly put his drink on a nearby tray. "Selina, my dear. Would you join me for this dance?"

Both women turned to look at him in surprise, but Catwoman readily agreed, holding her hand out for his. They moved into the smooth steps of the dance, blending in with the crowd and sliding gracefully together. There was something to be said for dancing with a partner of cat-like reflexes and grace. One only had to be careful of the sharp claws and mind.

They drew near to where Cassie and Clark were dancing and could hear Cassie laughing.

"Oh come on, Supes," Cassie said, still with the laugh in her voice. "I think it would be fun!"

"Marriage isn't supposed to be about fun," Clark said in the ponderous manner he had. "And what about Conner?"

"Threesome," Cassie replied with a grin.

Clark shuddered.

Lex stifled his laughter but Selina didn't bother to. "I think I like that Amazon," she purred.

Cassie looked over and winked at them. "Wanna join us?"

The two couples moved closer to each other on the dance and then Selina and Cassie broke off and started a rather sexy dance together. There were some gasps from the hero/villain pairing, but most people recognized it as not serious and there were more indulgent grins.

After a brief pause, Clark and Lex walked off together. "I can't take much more of this," Clark said very quietly.

"I heard you're on the prowl?" Lex replied just as quietly yet with his amusement threading through the words.

"Not me, Conner!"

Lex looked back at Cassie and Selina and raised an eyebrow.

"God, no," Clark moaned. "Please let that thought be washed right out of my brain and don't put it back in again. Ew."

Lex snickered. "He wants you to marry?"

"Yes," Clark sighed.

"But why?"

"God only knows." Clark reached out and snagged a glass of wine and gulped it down. "He says he wants a mother. Or a father. Or anything."

"I don't think he wants Cassie as a mother," Lex said dryly.

"Somewhere along the line, it became simply "get Clark a mate, any mate, just find somebody!"" Clark grabbed another glass. "I wish I could get drunk."

"I have some kryptonite dust if you want to mix it in," Lex offered.

For a moment, Clark almost looked like he'd accept. Then he stiffened in horror, looking over Lex's shoulder. "Oh, no..."

There wasn't anything immediately reflective that Lex could see behind him with. He raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Superman," an emotionless voice drifted by. "May I have this dance?"

The look on Clark's face was wiped to a complete and total blankness, covering the misery within.

Lex shook his head at Clark's complete inability to say 'no'. He half-turned and said, "I'm sorry, Dr. Fate, Superman is mine." He let the sentence stand for a moment, then added, "For this dance."

He held his hand out to Clark and numbly, Clark put his own in. Lex drew him to the dance floor, leaving Dr. Fate behind. Along the way, he also plucked the wine glass out of Clark's other hand and handed it to a minor villain they passed by.

The song was a slow song, the strains somewhat reminiscent of a waltz. Lex arranged their arms and hands accordingly and swung Clark into a smooth waltz. Clark followed along as if his lessons in dancing had been yesterday and not twelve years ago.

They danced for a minute with silence between them, letting the swell of the sound of the audience ebb and rise as they noticed who was dancing and gave it more notice than they had to Selina and Cassie. Superman and Lex Luthor in an intimate waltz was a little more note-worthy than girls just having fun. One was more sexy and fantasy-inducing, the other was news and on the list of impossible things one never thought to see outside of mind control or magic.

Clark finally met Lex's eyes with some recognition of what was happening and a glint of laughter in his eye. "Why, whenever we dance, am I the one who's in the girl's position?"

Lex grinned. Back in Smallville, he hadn't told Clark for the first several dance lessons that there was a specific role to the holds. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

With a snort, Clark switched their hands around and smoothly slid into the lead role. Lex let him.

It felt comfortable and natural, being in Clark's arms. As Lex would not with any other, he relaxed in Clark's arms, leaning back and letting himself be guided by Clark's lead, automatically adjusting his steps but otherwise letting the control be Clark's.

"It's been a really long time since we've done this," Clark mused, his gaze intent upon Lex.

"It has," Lex agreed with some measure of hurt behind the words. He came out of the turn and took control again, switching their hands and reveling in the feel of Clark leaning back into his grasp.

With a spin, Lex turned the level of dancing up, going into steps and moves that Clark had never learned. As long as one trusted their partner and knew how to follow, the waltz could be a fun exhilarating dance even for an unpracticed partner. Clark laughed at Lex and let himself be guided into the spins and twirls, coming out of them somewhat breathless but always putting himself back in Lex's arms for the next.

As the music came to an end, Lex felt a reluctance to let Clark go. This had only been a temporary rescue, however, and the world would always have the largest claim on Superman.

With a last caress of the hands as they drew slowly apart, Lex bowed to Clark. "Thank you for the dance, Superman."

The look Clark gave him back was full of longing and hopeless memories. But he replied steadily enough, "Thank you for accepting, Lex Luthor." They parted mutually, sweeping out in opposite directions and causing the talk to silence in columns as they moved away.

Lex got another glass of wine and meandered over to where the Cheetah was sipping water.

"No, I'm not dancing with you," she promptly said.

"That's all right, Barbara," Lex tilted his glass in salute. "I'd rather sit this one out, to be honest. All that whirling about on the floor... it's a dance for the younger crowd."

The Cheetah snorted. "Tell that to all the octogenarians in fancy hotel ballrooms."

Lex shuddered.

"You two did look good out there, though," the villainess gave credit where credit was due.

"Thank you," Lex said dryly, and turned the talk to Egyptian deities and the current state of underground cults.

After Lex had had discussions with three more arch-villains and done his duty by dancing with two of them, he thought it might be time for another rescue.

If he wasn't mistaken, and he didn't think he was, Clark had escaped out the veranda doors some few minutes back, evading yet another unwanted dance suitor. Lex wondered if Clark had forgotten he had super-speed and didn't need to use stealth. Of course, with all the defenses in place at the ball, a use of super-speed might set off alarms rather than being the unobtrusive thing it normally was.

Clark escaping wasn't a problem. However, the Green Arrow following him most definitely was.

Lex had never been so mad years ago as to when he'd found out who Clark had replaced him with. He accepted Chloe, he was okay with Bart, he thought Arthur was a pain in the rear but admitted that the underwater hero held to hero-codes rigorously. Oliver, though... To this day, Lex remembered with pain being beaten up by Oliver and his cronies, taunted un-mercilessly, driven to the brink of a break-down until he'd reacted the way he always reacted to his father – doing what they said, and having it all blow up in his face. For that person, of all people, to be the one that Clark had turned to, that he gave his smiles to, his laughter, his trust, his secrets, his protection... Lex couldn't stand it.

Clark had eventually grown away from Oliver, yet it seemed that Oliver had never grown away from Clark. Ironic that. Yet Lex retained some extent of fondness for Clark, especially after their dance, and he didn't care to see Oliver win Clark's hand by default.

With a causal detour to a side hall first, Lex slipped out through one of the other side doors where nobody could see him directly. The gardens weren't completely empty, both villains and heroes alike taking their air from the crowded ballroom. There were, however, enough private areas to find for those so inclined.

Knowing Clark, Lex turned towards the maze, not going inside of it, but around one of the side corners to where they usually had some private niches.

Sure enough, there was Clark... and there also was the Green Arrow, upon bended knee, making an impassioned declaration of love and devotion and wanting above all to spend his life with Superman. Lex sighed, vexed with himself for bothering to take the discreet longer route. He didn't trust Clark to say "no" right now. Clark had been hounded near to death already and he was a spectacular sell for a sob story. He probably thought, and wouldn't necessarily be wrong, that he would break Oliver's heart if he said no.

Therefore, that part would have to be provided by Lex.

"Sorry, Oliver," Lex said, striding forward so he could look at both of them and they could see him. "You can't marry Clark. He's already married."

Both of them turned identical looks of WTF on Lex. Lex let his most evil grin cross his face. "To me."

Oliver's expression turned to one of horror while Clark's slid into puzzlement and then amusement, though he managed to clear his face before Oliver turned to him in protest.

"Clark!"

"Sorry, Ollie," and Clark's voice couldn't quite keep out the relief, though he certainly gave it a good try. "It's true."

Well. Lex hadn't expected that. He'd thought just to confuse the issue enough to draw Green Arrow's rage upon him (not a hard thing) and forget about the proposal. He gave Clark a questioning look while making sure Oliver couldn't see it.

"I would know!" Oliver yelled, loud enough to be heard across the gardens. Lex winced at the volume. "Clark is not married and most certainly not to YOU!" The words dripped with venom and loathing. Lex glanced at the ground under the supposed hero to see if it was smoking from any acid drops.

Not having gotten any direction from Clark, Lex shrugged and winged it. "We were young. Too young, probably, though legal. Clark, however, was living with his parents and we needed to hide it from them. So we got married but kept it a secret. When we drifted apart," Lex couldn't help the true note of regret in his voice, "we just never brought it up again. Technically, we're still married."

"I don't believe you." Oliver was standing now, facing Lex with his fists balled and murder in his eyes.

There were, unfortunately, also a lot more people around now. Lex could see Conner and Tim in the background looking almost as horrified as Oliver.

"We were in love, Ollie," Clark put in. "Young people in love do crazy things like try and hide their love. We shouldn't have, though – we should have been open about it to my parents, our parents, and we should have tried harder to work things through instead of letting it fall apart."

Lex blinked. "No we shouldn't've." At Clark's betrayed look, Lex quickly clarified, "Told your parents. Or mine." He shuddered. "Your father had a shotgun."

Clark's grin was blinding and reminiscent of that which he'd had in those long ago days. "Mom was the better shot."

"Oh, that makes me feel so much better."

"I DON'T BELIEVE YOU!" Perhaps Oliver thought the capital letters in his shout would have some effect that his other protest had not.

Green Lantern (a much more reasonable person despite the resemblance in names) interjected, "You've been married five times."

Lex barked a laugh. "Two were before Clark. The other three... Oh well. They lived in sin for the few days between our false marriages and the days they tried to kill me. I'm certainly not losing any sleep over it."

"Their lawyers would have found out," Oliver's millionaire background came to the fore and he narrowed his eyes. "It's a lie."

"What part of "secret marriage" don't you understand?" Lex was starting to get annoyed. This was getting a lot more serious than he'd intended and it looked like half the ballroom was out surrounding them now. "I can produce the certificate, if you like." He had a lot of people who could make such a thing easily.

Half the audience laughed at that, knowing the same.

Lex sighed in annoyance. So much for good deeds. It was true that they never went unpunished.

"We'll get married again," Clark suddenly put in. He reached out and took Lex's hand. "Right here, right now. In front of everybody. If you like." The last was said to Lex instead of Oliver.

Lex couldn't quite breathe and couldn’t answer immediately for the lack of breath.

The swell of voices in the crowd grew loud and then cut out, waiting for Lex's reply.

"You would do that?" Lex asked Clark. "It's been so long..."

"Sometimes, one never gets over their first love," Clark said, holding Lex's hand tightly. "And we didn't try hard enough back then. I'd like to try now. I think we can do it."

Lex felt like he might fly. He turned his hand so he was clasping Clark's equally. "I don't know if we can," he replied truthfully, "but I'd like to try."

It was like being blinded by the sun. And then he was flying, with Clark's arms wrapped around him, his lips pressed against Lex's, and them hovering off the ground. Lex didn't look down to see how far off the ground they were, concentrating instead on returning the embrace and kiss, years of pent up longing and old dreams suddenly made new again making this the best kiss he'd ever experienced.

... ... ...

"Oh my GOD!" Conner shrieked. "I don't believe this."

Tim watched as Superman and Lex Luthor spiraled up into the air, locked together in a kiss every bit as passionate as... well, more passionate than any he'd ever seen before live. "They look happy."

"It's LEX LUTHOR!" Conner gibbered. "My dad can't marry Lex Luthor!"

"Isn't he your other father anyhow?"

"Genetically! Not.... oh you know what I mean! He's a villain!"

"Lose the exclamation points," Tim suggested. "They're starting to come back to Earth." He was feeling a little wistful, seeing how much joy was in both their faces. He wondered if he'd ever experience anything like that himself.

"But, but, but, but...." Conner sputtered. "He's tried to kill my dad!"

"Several times," Luthor's dry voice interjected itself into the conversation.

Superman snorted. "If Lex had wanted me dead, I'd be dead. He is a genius, you know." The look he turned on Lex was both fond and amused, and there had been a touch of pride in his voice as well.

The assembled group of heroes and villains muttered about this truth to themselves, none of them quite sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing or what it meant for Luthor's villain-hood status.

Interrupting the murmurings, Wonder Woman on one side and Poison Ivy on the other pushed their way through. Poison Ivy shoved a banquet of what looked like newly grown jungle flowers into Luthor's arms, and Wonder Woman handed Clark something small and metallic. As they clinked, Tim realized they were rings.

Luthor and Superman looked at each other for a moment, then exchanged what they were holding so that Superman had the flowers and Luthor the rings. They both had amused grins on their faces, but one could also tell that it was real.

"No!" was heard faintly from one side, but there was a ball of green light around the Green Arrow and nothing substantial could be heard. They could see him beating his fists against the light but unable to get out. Zatanna stood next to it, also keeping a careful eye in case he somehow broke through the Green Lantern's bubble.

"Best men or women or other?" Wonder Woman queried the group at large.

Batman emerged from the crowd, a darkened figure who strode confidently to Superman's side.

There was a brief hesitation as people looked at each other, before both Toyman and Livewire came out on the other and stood near, though not too near, to Luthor.

Luthor's mouth twitched as he expressed his thanks. So did Clark's.

"For all of us gathered here today, I am a Priestess of Aphrodite and Athena, with Hera watching over us all," Wonder Woman proclaimed. "I have the authority here to join these two in a pairing for life and beyond, bonds unbreakable by mortals or deities."

"Already have that," Luthor murmured quietly.

Beside him, Superman quietly snickered. "Stuff of Legends."

Wonder Woman gave them both a glare and continued with her ceremony, mixing what looked to be an extremely ancient rite with the trappings of the weddings of modern times.

When she was done, the Cheetah stepped forward and proclaimed her right to marry them based upon her Priestess-hood as well.

All in all, Superman and Luthor were married seven times that night. Neither of them looked like they wanted to complain, particularly since they got to kiss after each one.

By the end of it, Conner was more-or-less resigned to having Luthor as a father and had even started calling him "Lex". Tim thought it wouldn't be too long before he also became another "Dad."

And so, for the first time in known history, the Annual Superheroes and Super Villains Ball did not end in fighting, but in rejoicing, with all members attending in stunned disbelief but a willingness to watch and see what happened next.

Tim went home that night tired, but really happy. He hadn't liked the original plan of Conner's, but he had to admit that it had worked out okay in the end.

As he got ready for bed, he paused. There on his pillow was a single blue rose, of a hue that was Tim's favorite color. With a gasp, he picked it up, then looked out the window.

A figure in jeans and a tight t-shirt hovered some feet away. When their eyes met, the other raised his hand in a "for you" gesture, then flew away. There was a small sonic boom outside the window.

With a smile, Tim went to get a vase for his flower.




END