@keepsmiling7 - I'm thankful you are still reading and enjoying the story, so far! I'm enjoying writing it and I can only hope that shows through. I absolutely adore the cast of Roswell - all of them (except Tess but I adore Emilie so Ava is my go to, so that I can include Emilie) but, my favourites are, of course, Michael and Maria - I just love them both so much!
They won't be doing furniture refurbishing & resales anymore as a source of income but refurbishing might crop up now and again, just as something to do for themselves.
Thanks as always for your support, Carolyn!
Title: Finding Something Better
Author: FidomomDisclaimer: This is a work of fiction. It is only loosely based on characters from the 1999-2002 tv series Roswell as I imagine they could be from different points throughout and beyond the three seasons of the show. I am not affiliated with any of the original creations nor creators from the series. I will make no monetary gains from publishing this work of fiction.
Pairings/Characters/Category: Michael & Maria, Max & Liz, Kyle, Isabel, Ava, CC, UC, AU, w/Aliens
Rating: MatureSummary: This chapter - Michael is full of surprises and the crew has a good time together.
Author's Note: So I looked up some stuff on Google and in 2002, 8 lb laptops were already a thing, wifi was already a thing (but it could experience interference from other devices like walkie talkies, baby monitors, etc.) and video calling could be done with a program called CuSee-Me (whereas skype, msn, yahoo and aim were either not a thing yet or else they were not capable of video calls, at that time).
I don't recall any of that stuff in my own life experiences (my son, who has autism, was 6 years old at that time and so I was a little too busy back then to have use for any of that
) but I'll go ahead and trust Google on these matters, lol.
Now, whether or not those three facts could have actually worked together, I may never know, but for the purposes of this story, they did. This is science fiction, after all and I imagine that our beloved Roswell alien hybrids could have made that all work together, to suit their specific needs.
I put another note at the end of this chapter, because it's spoilerish.
~FM Finding Something Better
Isabel, Ava, Liz, Max and Kyle were having their usual morning coffee while socialising with Lex, when Maria suddenly appeared, obviously headed for the shower. She greeted them all in passing, but then ran back in to kiss Lex, promising him more of her time after her shower.
The crew had barely recovered from seeing Maria, instead of just hearing her, at that time of morning, when Michael joined them. He scooped up Lex from his bouncy seat and carried him around, while he made himself coffee and a huge bowl of a mixture of every cereal they had, and he chit-chatted with Lex, in between addressing the crew, without looking at them. He completely missed their stunned looks.
He kept Lex balanced on his knee, jiggling him, gently, as he talked to the crew between taking spoonfuls of mixed cereal and sometimes he even talked with his mouth full. In conclusion, he asked them, "So? I'm gonna need to know, guys. Can we make this happen, tonight?"
Everyone nodded and Liz asked, "She doesn't suspect?"
Michael smiled smugly and answered, "She doesn't have a clue; I made sure of that, last night. It's better that way, in case something goes wrong. She can't be disappointed, then.,
"So, Prozac, kid? Can Uncle Awesome count on you to keep your Auntie Maria busy today, or what?"
Lex made happy baby noises in Michael's general direction and gummy smiled at him engagingly.
Michael nodded in satisfaction, dropped a kiss on the top of Lex's head, handed him off to Ava, even though Kyle was closer and was holding out his arms to take him, put his dirty dishes in the sink and then Michael announced, "I gotta take off, before she gets out of the shower or she'll ask too many questions. Apparently, I have a tell when I lie to her; so I can't risk it!
I'll show up on time and I've got the rest of my parts at the ready, as well. Later, guys and you know, thanks or whatever."
When he'd been gone for ten seconds, they all looked at each other, in surprised amusement and Isabel giggled, as she asked, "Did any of that actually just happen or did I dream it? Am I dreaming, right now?"
Liz chuckled appreciatively but assured, "Oh, it happened but if I hadn't witnessed it myself, I sure would not have believed it, either! He put his dirty dishes away, even! I've never seen him like this!"
Kyle quipped, "You mean in the morning? Yeah, me neither. I was beginning to think he was only a night spook."
Isabel elbowed him, lightly, even though she was still smiling and she elected herself as the head co-ordinator for Michael's mission, as she asked, "So everyone knows what to do, today?"
A general consensus of head nodding confirmed it and Isabel exclaimed brightly, "Great! This is just what we needed, really, after that visit from Kal, last night! Oh. Should we tell him? Or no?"
Max sighed, then unclenched his jaw to answer, "Normally, I'd vote no, on that, because I don't think we owe him a damned thing, including explanations for how we choose to live, however, in light of the things he's told us, it might be best to tell him, and order him not to interfere, if only so he can't intrude, right in the middle of it and ruin everything. I'll do it."
"Do what, now? What did I miss?", Maria asked as she joined them all, properly, this time.
Isabel supplied a plausible fib that was partially true, "Lex needs a change. Max was offer-"
Maria waved away her words and informed Max, "This boy is all mine, today! Even when he's stinky! Well, except for feeding time, I mean, and you already had your turn, getting him all to yourself, this week, Max!,
"Come on, Auntie's beautiful boy, let's go get you all fresh and clean and then you can tell Auntie Maria all about your week, while I eat breakfast. How does that sound, my sweet little Lex?"
Lex made happy baby noises in Maria's general direction and gummy smiled at her engagingly. She took it as his happy acceptance of her plans, and carted him off to change him.
Once she and Lex had left the room, the others spoke in hushed voices, knowing that running water, the bathroom fan, and the hair dryer, wouldn't distort sound for them, this time.
Kyle lamented, "There isn't much for me to do, now that I'm unemployed and it's Maria's day with Lex. What are we supposed to do, all day?"
Isabel grinned brightly and assured him, "Oh, I have plenty of things for you to do, to keep you busy today! You're going to spend the day helping me pull this off, for those two!"
Max chuckled and gloated at him, "You asked!"
Ava chimed in, teasing, "Oh, I don't think he minds, all that much, Max!"
Kyle blushed and Ava's smile faltered, as she started to apologise, "I didn't mean-"
Kyle shook his head and interrupted her, "I know. Don't worry about it, Ava. It's fine. I'm sure it's not really news to anyone here, by now, anyway."
Max's brows rose and he asked, "Exactly what isn't news?"
Kyle looked over at Isabel briefly before informing Max, "I'm in love with a married woman."
Liz exclaimed softly, "Oh, wow. I knew you two were close but I didn't know that."
Max asked Isabel, solemnly, "Do I need to protect you, from him?"
Isabel smirked and informed Max, "No, little brother, if anything, he needs protection from me. He's being very respectful and patient, while my divorce from Jesse is pending. Me? Not so much!"
Max grinned then and advised her, "Take it easy on him, today or he'll deem himself unworthy to do his part, later."
Isabel fake pouted and agreed, "I never thought of that. Fine!,
"I'll behave myself, today, Kyle, promise!"
Kyle smiled and countered knowingly, "But, my friend, can you say that, again, without crossing your fingers behind your back, this time?"
Isabel smirked, shrugged and without even denying his allegation, she chose to neither answer his challenge nor repeat herself.
Isabel got the most obvious things done while Maria was taking Lex for a slow walk around the block, wearing him strapped to her body, facing out, so she could point out things and tell him about them.
The hardest part of the day, was keeping Maria none the wiser while Lex was napping. They tried to give her busy work, around the house, so she wouldn't catch on, that they were all up to something.
Liz kept her distracted the most effectively, by discussing Kal and his information dump, with her, so that the others could get their things done, without being grilled.
To Michael's credit, he even called Maria to check in, so that she wouldn't worry or start asking questions about where he'd gone off to. He regretfully informed her that he wouldn't be back in time for dinner and asked her to eat lightly so they could eat together when he got home. He claimed he was back-logged on doing random acts of kindness and couldn't handle hanging around the house doing nothing and being off schedule, due to unemployment, especially since it was Maria's day with Lex.
Even his lengthy excuse didn't tip her off, that anything was up. She just chalked it up to him finally maturing, coupled with their recent extra closeness, as the reasons why he was suddenly sharing more of his inner life, and anticipating and respecting her feelings, more than he used to.
Ava suggested a glamour contest between herself and Isabel, with Liz and Maria as the models and then Isabel claimed to feel left out, so she and Ava glamoured each other, as well. Maria was still not suspicious.
The crew ate dinner together a bit later than usual. Afterward, Maria and Isabel got Lex bathed and ready to go down for the night. He was in baby dream land by seven-thirty.
Maria was just about to start cleaning the kitchen, and idly wondered if Michael would be home soon, when her burner phone rang. She delayed what she was about to do, to answer it.
"I'm back but I'm not coming in, yet. I'm in the back yard. Can you do something for me?"
Maria frowned and asked, "Michael, what do you mean you aren't coming inside, yet? Why not? You have to be starving by now? I saved you some dinner. But whatever, okay, so what's going on? What is it you want me to do?"
"I want you to trust me. No matter how weird things seem, just trust me. Can you do that?"
Maria laughed wryly, "Well, duh! Of course I trust you and when aren't things weird? Just tell me already! What weird thing are you about to spring on me, now?"
"Take out the box of Lucky Charms cereal, dump it all into a big bowl and bring the prize you find, out here to me."
Maria shook her head frowning in baffled amusement and she blurted, "Breakfast cereal? What?"
"You said that you trust me."
Maria huffed and relented, "Okay, okay, fine. I did say that. I'll be right out with it, as soon as I find it."
She hung up and got right to it. Isabel asked, "What are doing? Aren't we on kitchen duty together, now?"
Maria waved her hand about as she explained, "Yes, but first I have to do this weird thing for Michael. I don't even know why but then I never do, with him, anyway, so what else is new?"
Kyle, Ava, Max and Liz came into the kitchen, just in time to hear her and Liz asked, "Well, where is he?"
Maria answered, "Back yard, apparently."
Max headed out the back door and Kyle piped up, "I'll just go with him, in case they need a referee.", and he headed out, too.
Ava excused herself, as well and announced she had to go upstairs to get something.
Maria finally found the prize, scooped it up and headed out to the back yard. Liz delayed her briefly, saying, "I thought my husband was coming back, right away. Maybe I'd better go out there with you, in case there's some problem."
Maria beckoned with her chin and said, "Come on then, let's go get our spacemen! There's a show I'd like to watch, later, if I can finish cleaning the kitchen in time. The sooner I indulge my guy in whatever weirdness he is up to, the sooner I can get to work!"
The second that Maria caught sight of the back yard, she knew what was going on, but she couldn't quite process it, as real.
Max nudged a blindfolded Michael and said, "She's here."
Michael spoke, as he held out his closed fist to her, "I'll trade you what's in my hand for that cereal prize."
Maria wordlessly put the prize in his free hand. Max guided Michael's fist to Maria's open palm and Michael released the contents onto it.
Maria saw it, screamed, yanked her hand away and dropped it, immediately lamenting, "I dropped it, Michael! Help me find it! How could you do this to me, with no warning?"
Michael chuckled and appealed to Max, indicating his blindfold, "Obviously, I can't help her find it, would you mind, Maxwell?"
Max made his hand glow and quickly found the dropped item.
He tried to give it to Maria, himself but she refused, "No, he has to give it to me, again."
Max gave it back to Michael and Michael held out his closed fist, and suggested, "Should we try this again, angel?"
She didn't drop it, the second time but she asked in nervous confusion, "What is going on? This is crazy! Michael? Liz? Somebody please tell me what is happening here!"
Michael answered as he reached for, found her hands and deftly slipped the engagement ring onto her left ring finger, "It's exactly what you think, it is, Maria. Please just trust me and let Liz and Isabel help you go get ready. Okay, now you have to take it back off, though and put it on your right ring finger because the wedding ring goes on first. Don't worry, I'll put it back on your left finger, later."
Maria did as he said, even as she argued against the reality, "But, but Michael you're even wearing what I said! How did you do all of this so fast? And I told you, last night, that I want to wear my engagement ring, for at least a little while before we get married; I kind of meant for longer than a minute, you know!"
Isabel startled Maria, by speaking directly behind her, "All will be explained later! Now come on, inside, so you can change into your dress!"
Maria insisted in a panic, "What are you talking about? I don't have a dress, for this!"
Isabel assured her, "Thanks to me, Ava, Liz and even your groom, yes you do! Hurry up, girl!"
Maria looked around in wonder at the lit candles, the randomly placed bunches of white flowers, the starry night time sky, Michael's outfit and she teared up, as she asked, "Oh my God, you guys! How, though? I only told him about this last night! There's no way that all of this is real. There's no way you guys had time to do all of this, in less than twenty-four hours! I don't understand. What even is happening, right now?"
Isabel teased, even as she gently began leading her back toward the house, "Alien super powers, of course! I even dream walked you, silly! Liz filled in details I wasn't sure about and I waved my hand over something that was close to your specifications, Ava resized it to match one of your mini-dresses and we altered your comfiest shoes to go better with your dress! Presto change-o! You've seen Ava and I do this kind of thing, countless times, by now, Maria!
Plus a lot of these details were also provided by your groom, since it's his wedding, too. You are right about the timeline though, it definitely didn't take less than twenty-four hours, to plan and execute this. Michael has actually been planning this, since Max started making wedding arrangements for himself and Liz."
Maria exclaimed indignantly, "That sneaky devil! He told me just last night, that he had no intention of ever marrying me!"
Liz asked gently, "But do you want to marry him, tonight, Maria?"
Maria answered hastily, "Well, yes, of course I do! That's not the point! He lied to me!"
Michael defended himself, "Hey, come on, now! Lies are serious, angel, but that stuff last night, was just a cross between a temporary fib and giving you a chance to save yourself and not marry me! And, besides, since when is surprising the one you love, with their dream wedding, a bad thing?"
Maria back-pedalled, "I never said it was bad! I'm just. I wasn't prepared for this, Michael. Guys, I don't even have any vows written out and oh my God, my Mom is not here! I can't do this, Michael! I cannot get married without my Mom! No matter how perfect all of this is, and it really is so uncannily perfect!"
Maria heard her mother's voice admonishing her and she spun toward the sound, "Maria Elizabeth DeLuca! Don't you dare waste time arguing or you're going to make me have to miss your wedding entirely!"
Ava was holding a fancy, new-fangled computer called a laptop, and on the screen was her mother's image, and through built-in speakers, was her voice, in real time.
Maria's eyes welled up and she exclaimed joyfully, "Mom? Oh my God, Mom! I miss you so much! How is this possible? Is it safe? Oh! You lightened your hair, again!"
Amy patted her slightly longer, lightened hair, smiled even wider, through her own happy tears and responded, "Yes, do you like it? As long as you kids don't take too long with the ceremony, Liz said we should be safe communicating this way! We do only have about an hour before we have to kill the connection, though, so my darling daughter, please go finish getting ready, already! Hurry-up!"
Maria lamented even while smiling, "I really wish you were here in person, Mom! I wish I could get a hug! I love you and I miss you, so much!"
Amy nodded and swiped at her own bittersweet tears, "Me too, baby but this is the next best thing! Quickly, now, okay? I really don't want to miss the ceremony!"
Maria nodded and agreed, "Okay, okay! I don't know if I want to kiss him or kick him in the shin but I'm definitely making him mine for keeps, tonight!"
Michael piped up, "I can hear you, Maria! I definitely vote for kiss!"
Maria commented wryly, "Of course you would. Stay put, spaceboy! I'll be right back!"
Isabel, Liz and Ava, with Amy on screen and in tow, all went inside with Maria. Since the male residents were all outside, Maria was convinced to just change right in the hallway near the back door.
Ava let Isabel know that because they'd had to turn off any devices that might interfere with their connection to Amy, including the baby monitors, that she was periodically checking on Lex with her echo location power, instead. She claimed it helped her to strengthen her skill with it, anyway.
Isabel assumed responsibility for the laptop and making sure that Amy would be involved in her daughter's wedding, as much as possible.
Maria examined the dress, that Isabel had handed to her, and she spoke in awe, "Well, ladies you've really outdone yourselves with this! It's so much prettier than I've imagined! It's perfect. Thank-you, so much guys! Oh! So this is why he's wearing a blindfold!"
Isabel said with a fond chuckle, "Oh, I may be the Christmas Nazi but I've got nothing on that boy when it comes to avoiding any chance, at all, of bad luck! He's been a little panicky, to put it mildly!"
Maria frowned and asked, "Michael? My Michael? Over me? Over me and him? Really?"
Amy piped up, "Oh, Maria, honey, it's all men, not just yours! Love makes them all panic! Now finish getting ready and go reassure him!"
Liz nudged Maria and concurred, "You heard your Mom, don't just stand there, holding your dress! Put it on! Your groom is waiting!"
Maria changed quickly and then she took a turn panicking, "My hair, though! It doesn't match the dream!"
Isabel demanded, "Okay, show me quickly, I'll make it match!"
Isabel touched Maria's temples and then asked, "Well, which one, Maria? Up on the sides or loose?"
Maria froze indecisively, so Ava suggested, "What about, up on one side only?"
Maria started to agree, then specified urgently, "Wait! Whichever side Michael is going to see the most, during the ceremony, can you just leave my hair down on that side, only?"
Isabel nodded and with a wave of her hand, Maria's hair was back to her natural colour, gently curled and up on just one side.
Maria didn't need a mirror because, she trusted her Mom's reaction to seeing the final result. Amy openly cried happy tears and declared, "My beautiful baby girl is getting married! Maybe younger than I would have chosen for you but you know what, sweet girl? You are already leaps and bounds more mature, now, than I was when I had you, so I think you'll be fine!
Besides which, I really think you've got yourself an honest to goodness keeper, sweetheart! Michael is wonderful! I love that boy! Moreso for taking such good care of my baby girl! Oh gosh, I'm blathering on and on! I'll miss the important parts, if we don't get back out there! Hurry, Maria!"
Maria suddenly asked, "Wait! What about the other luck traditions? Old, new, borrowed and blue?"
Liz took off the necklace, which Max had given to her, for her birthday. It was adorned with a solid, sterling silver, star-shaped pendant, that was inlaid with a condensed image of the Whirlwind Galaxy. Liz smugly offered it to Maria, "Here's borrowed!"
Isabel suggested, "Technically, the dress is new and unique!"
Ava changed the colour of the floral decoration on Maria's one hair barrette to dark blue, then changed Maria's nail polish to match it and confirmed, "That takes care of blue. Only thing left is old. Any ideas, anyone?"
Amy spoke up apologetically, "Old is taken care of, but I don't want to spoil anything, so just trust me and go get married, now!"
Maria took a steadying breath and announced, "Okay, I think I'm finally ready!"
Liz hugged her and declared, "You look really beautiful, Maria! Michael won't know what hit him!"
Maria half joked, "Sure he will; I hit him on the regular. Love taps, people! They're always just love taps! Geez!"
They all laughed, Liz handed Maria her wedding bouquet and they headed back out to the back yard.
As they approached Max, Kyle and Michael, who were huddled together, Max nudged Michael and informed him, "Here they come, now. You'd better brace yourself, brother, because your bride is a knockout!"
Michael agreed impatiently, "Yeah, I know. That isn't news. How about you keep your eyes on your wife, and off of Maria, though?"
Max chuckled but he was already doing that, even before Michael ordered him to.
By then, Maria and her wedding entourage, were close enough to have heard the exchange and she said to her crew, "Okay, for that possessive remark, I've decided to kiss him, after all."
Amy scolded teasingly, "But not until Kyle says so, young lady!"
Maria faltered and asked in disappointment, "Wait, hold up! Kyle? Kyle is marrying us? So it's just a fake wedding?"
Isabel defended her bestie, "No, it won't be fake, Maria! Kyle got online certification to legally officiate weddings; he's a Buddhist, remember?"
Maria let out a sigh of relief and said, "Oh, okay, good."
Amy warned, "It had better carry legal weight or your groom will answer to me!"
Michael heard her and assured her, "It will Ms. DeLuca! Promise!"
Amy was placated but further admonished, "After tonight, Mr. Guerin you had better remember to address me as Mom and only Mom, got it?"
Michael was glad the blindfold prevented anyone from seeing his eyes tear up, as he answered her, "Copy that, Ms. DeLuca. Thank-you."
No sooner had he said that, than Max removed Michael's blindfold, and the sight that greeted him looked like his recurring dream, come to life, with only minor differences.
Looking Maria in the eye, he whispered, "Wow. You are beyond beautiful."
Maria smiled softly at him and said, "Keep heaping on the flattery, spaceboy.,
"Yeah, uhh, we're gonna need just a few moments here, to get sorted, before we do this, okay, everyone? Michael and I will let you know when we're ready."
Michael squeezed her free hand, appreciatively, for calling the temporary time out and then he insisted, "That wasn't flattery, angel. Just facts."
Maria smiled, recognizing his familiar claim, and declared "Fine. Now it's my turn to state the facts, then. Oh my God, Michael, you are so flipping hot!"
Michael teased with a straight face, "You sure this is better than a tux? I do have one on standby."
Maria lightly smacked at his arm and scolded, "Don't you dare change out of this! You look perfect. My kind of perfect."
Fighting a full on grin, Michael rubbed at his arm and asked hesitantly, "So, how pissed are you, still, about me keeping all of this from you, until the last minute?"
Maria reassured him, "Relax, spaceboy. I got over it, the second I got to see my Mom and talk to her. Expect much affectionate gratitude, later, for that alone. Where did we get the laptop? Aren't those expensive? For that matter where'd my Mom get one and how did she afford it?
Michael smiled and revealed, "Laurie said she's happy for us. They are our engagement and wedding gifts from her."
Maria smiled warmly, at the mention of Laurie and she declared, "I knew I liked that girl, for a reason! I'd love to thank her, myself, that my Mom gets to, sort of, be here for my wedding! Speaking of my Mom, she said a while ago, now, that there isn't much time left, before we need to kill the connection, so maybe we should go ahead and get started?"
Michael nodded and held his hand out to her, as he agreed, "Absolutely. Give me your hand.,
"Hey, everyone? Kyle? Maria and I are finally ready to do this, now."
Kyle stated somewhat unnecessarily, "We're all gathered here together to witness the matrimonial exchange between Michael Guerin and Maria DeLuca.,
"Michael and Maria, please go ahead and exchange any personal vows, you wish to exchange, and then we'll follow up with the usual, scripted, albeit mildly altered, vows, afterward."
Michael held Maria's left hand in his, as he spoke earnestly and clearly, "Maria, as you know, lately, I've been thinking a lot about my life, my future, you, and us. I once told you, that all I could promise you, is now because my future was too uncertain, then.
More recently, and privately, just to you, I upgraded that, to all of my tomorrows. Right now, tonight, I'm saying it, again, in front of witnesses, this time. I promise you not only now but all of my tomorrows, too, Maria. I can't even fathom a future that excludes you because you mean everything to me and I love you with everything in me.
The way we've been living, until we got here, hasn't felt unsettling to me because you've been with me, practically, the whole time. You make wherever we are, feel like my home, simply by being beside me and loving me. You are more precious to me than I can ever convey in words and my gratitude to you and for you is unlimited.
Thank-you for ... well, for pretty much every second we've ever spent together, so far, from the moment we first met, to now, and you can trust that I'm looking forward to the life we're going to be building together, from this second, and forward, too.
In the interest of time, I'll leave it at that, but I reserve the right to tell you more about what you mean to me, as time goes on."
Kyle prompted Maria, again, "Maria? Is there anything you'd like to say to your groom?"
Maria was swiping at the tears of happiness leaking from her eyes and she sniffled her answer emphatically, "Tons! But I'll just have to go with ditto, for now. Mainly because I'm just too touched, for more than this! I love you so much, Michael Guerin! Like stupid. I'm just completely and utterly stupid in love with you. And this? All of this? So beyond my dream wedding, spaceboy! Better than any dream! You really are my realest deal, ever, do you know that? God, I love you!"
Michael half-smiled, wiped a tear from her cheek with his thumb, even as he fought his own tears and he echoed, "Yeah, I do know, and right back at you, angel."
Kyle cleared his throat, turned aside briefly and muttered, "Got something in my eye. Just a second.,
"Okay. Ahem. Now, Michael, please repeat after me, I, Michael John Guerin, take you, Maria Elizabeth DeLuca, to be my lawfully wedded wife."
"I, Michael John Guerin, take you, Maria Elizabeth DeLuca, to be my lawfully wedded wife."
Kyle continued to lead Michael through the vows, "I hereby vow to love, honour, cherish, respect and occasionally obey, you.", but Kyle interjected to defend awkwardly, "That last bit was Michael's idea, not mine, folks!"
Everyone stifled subdued chuckles during Michael's recital of the altered line,
"I hereby vow to love, honour, cherish, respect and occasionally obey, you."
Michael continued to repeat after Kyle's prompts, "In danger and in safety, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, for richer, for poorer, for spicy and for sweet.",
Kyle smiled tightly and quipped, "Two guesses, who made that change, folks."
Michael finished up his portion of the vows, by solemnly reciting the final line, "In this life and, if space and time are willing, in every life, hereafter, as well."
Kyle addressed Maria, next, "Maria, please repeat after me. I, Maria Elizabeth DeLuca, take you Michael John Guerin."
Maria didn't falter in repeating each of the vows Michael had just made, to her, "I, Maria Elizabeth DeLuca, take you Michael John Guerin, to be my lawfully wedded husband. I hereby vow to love, honour, cherish, respect and nudge you in the right direction, as needed."
Kyle disclaimed again, "Also his idea, not mine, guys!"
Maria continued to repeat after Kyle, while fighting a residual smirk; she definitely liked that particular change to the standard vows, "In danger and in safety, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, for richer, for poorer, for spicy and for sweet, in this life and, if space and time are willing, in every life, hereafter, as well."
Max handed the smaller of two rings to Michael and Kyle directed Michael, "Michael, please place the ring on the fourth finger of Maria's left hand and repeat, after me, may this ring serve to remind us both of our love and commitment to one another, from this day forward."
Michael placed the ring upon Maria's left ring finger and repeated the ring dedication, line by line, after Kyle, "May this ring serve to remind us both of our love and commitment to one another, from this day forward, for it is a perfect circle without an end, and so shall be our love, in this life and in the next. With this ring, I thee wed."
Max gave the larger ring to Liz, who then exchanged it with Maria for Maria's wedding bouquet. Upon Kyle's prompt, Maria placed the bigger ring on Michael's left ring finger and repeated the ring dedication, "May this ring serve to remind us both of our love and commitment to one another, from this day forward, for it is a perfect circle without an end, and so shall be our love, in this life and in the next. With this ring- oh my God, I thought these looked strangely familiar! These are Breepa's and Breema's wedding rings! Mom? How?"
Amy confirmed, "Yes, sweetheart they are! Those are your something old! I'll tell you all about how it was arranged, another time, because we have to cut this connection soon! Please continue the ceremony! You're almost married!"
Maria nodded and stammered, feeling flustered, "Oh, right, sorry, Mom.,
"What's my next line, again, Kyle?"
Kyle consoled her, "Just the last line left, Maria; with this ring, I thee wed."
Maria finished, "With this ring, I thee wed."
Kyle addressed their crew and Maria's Mom, "In as much as Michael and Maria have made a commitment to one another before witnesses, God and the universe itself, and by the power vested in me by the International Golden Buddha online temple, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kis- uhh yeah, that. Exactly."
Kyle waited for them to finish sealing their vows with a long, emotional kiss, before declaring, "Congratulations! I now present to you, one and all, Mr. and Mrs. Michael John DeLuca!"
Maria's jaw fell open but it was Amy who verbalised their shared surprise, "Wait what? DeLuca? Really? My baby girl is keeping the family name going?"
Michael explained to Amy, although his look included Maria in his elaboration, "Guerin doesn't mean anything to me, Ms. DeL- I mean, Mom. It's just some random name that the social workers slapped on me, when they found me wandering around in the desert, when I was a kid.
I want an actual family name, that I know I can be proud of, so I chose yours and Maria's. Do either of you mind?"
Maria squeezed his hand, kissed his cheek, shook her head and whispered, "Opposite of mind. Thank-you, Michael."
Amy concurred, "No, Michael, I don't mind that, at all. Welcome to our family! I have a son, now, too! Yay! Thank-you so much, you sweet, beautiful boy for making it possible, for me, to see my baby girl, get married! I love you crazy kids to the moon and back! No pun intended, ha! You promise that you'll update me as often as you can, still, Michael? Our same codes as usual?"
Maria spoke quietly beside him, "Codes? What is she talking about?"
Michael answered her in a low whisper, "I'll tell you all about that, later, angel.,
"Yes, Mom, I absolutely will keep in touch, same as usual. I promise. I ummm, I love you, too and thanks for letting me marry into your family. I'll go wait in the house, now, to give you two a chance to say your goodbyes privately. I'd like to say goodbye to you, privately, too, but Maria should go first. She really misses you.,
"You've got four minutes, tops, angelwife.", and he kissed Maria's cheek.
Maria laughed in delight at the addition to her nickname and then followed his example, "Ha! Okay, then, thank-you, spacehubby! I love you, so much! I'll call you back out here, when we're done."
Maria smiled at her Mom and said, "I'm really, really happy you didn't miss this part of my life! Actually, you couldn't have because I already told him that I wouldn't get married without your presence. I just never expected it to be this way. On one hand it's really cool but then it also means I can't hug you and that part sucks. I miss you, Mom. How are you doing? Has anyone been harassing you since we left?
Amy teared up and she mirrored Maria's thoughts, "I miss you more than I can even express, but you need to know that I'm also just so damned proud of you! I can tell that you are doing okay and I have to assume it's because you are with people who care for you, a great deal. Especially one particular complicated boy, am I right?"
Maria nodded and Amy continued, "As for me, sweetheart, things are kind of okay. Maybe even better than okay. We haven't been harassed by anyone, and by we, I mean Deputy Valenti and I. We uhh, that is, Jim and I, have decided to try this dating thing again. I really, really like this man, Maria! We have tons in common, too, especially since you kids left us."
Maria inwardly grimaced but forced herself to smile for her Mom, as she asked, "So he's why the lightened hair?"
Amy stammered, blushing, "My hair was naturally close to this when I was younger, when Jim and I first knew each other and he said he thought I was cute back then, so, I thought I had a better shot at getting him to try again, like this."
Maria smiled genuinely and teased, "Mom! Did you chase Jim Valenti, this time?"
Amy objected, "Chase is a strong word, Maria! It's just that I was the one who broke it off and all I did was let him know, I'd changed my mind. I knew he wouldn't disrespect my wishes, and make the first move to try again, you see. A woman has to take matters into her own hands sometimes, you know?"
Maria smirked and said, "As long as you afford me the same courtesy, if things get to an exchange of rings moment, okay? I get to be at your next wedding, if you ever have one, again, whether it's to Jim or someone else. Also, is it fine if I gossip about this, with Kyle?"
Amy laughed and agreed, "Yes, of course, sweetheart! Oh baby girl, it's been so good for this Mom's heart just to have these few minutes with you like this but, Michael also wants to talk and the hour is nearly up, I'm afraid. I love you so much! All the best to you both in your marriage and of course in life. If you need anything, you find a way to let me know and I'll do whatever I can to help, okay?
Maria nodded and started to head toward the house to get Michael but he was already on his way. Maria commented to her Mom, "He told me four minutes but I think we went over that. He knows better than anyone how much I miss you. I think he let me cut into time he meant to have for himself, to talk to you."
Michael greeted Maria with a kiss on the lips and opened with an apology, "I really hate to interrupt you two, but I really do need to talk to your, oh, umm, I mean, I need to talk to Mom, too."
Amy let out a little gasp of delight when he corrected himself before she could.
Maria kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear, "Four minutes, tops, my butt. Thank-you, for that, spaceboy.,
"I'm heading inside now, Mom. Thanks, again for being here, even like this. Love you! Miss you! Hi to Deputy Valenti! Hope we can catch up, again, soon! Bye!", and Maria hurried away before she completely broke down in tears, so as not to worry either her husband or her Mom.
Michael focused on Amy and said contritely, "I'm so sorry there isn't more time, Mom but I'll keep you posted, just like I promised. I just wanted to say thank-you, again for letting me marry your daughter and for letting me take your name, as my own. It means more to me than I have time to tell you about right now. I'll tell you, someday, though. I'm glad you had the foresight to make that video, explaining to her about our wedding rings. I'll make sure she gets it. Probably a lot later. My date with my wife, tonight, isn't over, just yet!"
Amy held her hand over her heart and she exclaimed, "Awww! Marriage already suits you, Michael. I don't think I've ever seen you smile like this before!"
Michael concurred maintaining it, "That's because I never have. Never been this happy before! Ever. Take care of yourself, Mom. I love you. Talk again, soon."
Amy teared up and admitted, "I already like having a son! I love you, too, sweetheart! Take good care of each other. Until next time, then. Bye for now, Michael DeLuca."
Michael's eyes shone with pride and he vowed, "Count on that. Until next time, Mom. Later.", and he killed the connection.
Michael didn't rush back into the house right away. He looked up at the sky glittering with stars and he said, "Whatever is out there, if you had any hand in this, thanks."
He'd barely got inside the door, and set the laptop upon the kitchen island, before Isabel was pulling him to the living room, which had been rearranged to accommodate dancing. She insisted impatiently, "Michael! Hurry up! It's time to dance with your wife! None of the rest of us can, until you two do!"
Maria tried to refute Isabel's claim, "Of course you guys can dance, before we do! And anyway, Isabel, Michael doesn't like dancing, so I'm not going to make him; it's his wedding day, too. He should get to opt out of unpleasant things."
Michael gathered Maria into his arms and said just loudly enough to be heard over the reasonable volume of the music, "I'm ready to dance with my wife, now, if she'll have me. I'm still not great at it but there are definitely worse things than dancing; it's far from unpleasant. May I have this dance, wife?"
Maria smiled at him, in surprised, appreciative delight and accepted, "Well, if you're gonna lay on the charm, that thick, then, yes, absolutely, Mr. DeLuca, I would love to dance with you!"
As they moved together, Michael asked, "So it's really okay with you, too? The name thing?"
Maria nodded and assured him, "Yeah, Michael, it's more than okay. It actually kind of fits you."
Michael looked into her eyes meaningfully and declared with intensity, "You fit me."
She raised one brow, smiled smugly and concurred, "On so many levels, you bet your sweet and spicy loving ass, I do, spaceboy."
Michael asked fighting a smirk, "Hey, now, is that any way to speak to your husband?"
Maria laughed and admonished him, "Oh, don't even pretend that you suddenly don't like me sassing you."
He confirmed her words, "I didn't say I didn't. Damn. You just got sexier, again."
She frowned and demanded, "Again? What do you mean?"
He shrugged and stated, "You just get sexier, every second that passes, since I heard that you're my wife. Dare I hope that we are having an old-fashioned wedding night, tonight?"
Maria laughed and flirted, "Yes, Michael, believe in the love. Dare to your heart's content. Our wedding night is definitely a thing that is happening!"
Michael kissed her neck lingeringly and admitted, "Good. I'm dying to get you naked and make love to you. I want you real bad, wife."
Maria reluctantly pulled away from his seductive mouth on her neck and she reasoned, "Me too, but let's at least try to spend a bit more time with everyone before we sequester ourselves."
Michael let out a sigh and asked, "Sequester? For four nights? Can I go ahead and confirm the hotel reservation that I made for us, in a rare moment of optimism?"
Maria asked in interest, "Four nights? That sounds like a wedding night that morphs into a mini honeymoon. Does the hotel have any kind of spa or maybe a nice eat in restaurant, at least?"
Michael shook his head and answered, "Nope. None of that. It has what I felt we needed and not much else. It has privacy, a bed, a shower, in room coffee maker, room service with a limited menu and a price I could afford. Should I cancel it?"
She shook her head and advised, "No. You knew any other perks would just go to waste. Good call. Thanks for your moment of optimism."
Michael resumed trying to kiss her neck and he exclaimed in an excited whisper, "So it's really gonna happen? I get four straight days of you naked in bed with me and making love over and over and over again?"
Maria gasped in lust and agreed, even as she pulled away slightly, "Oh, yeah, but you have to stop that, Michael. We can't just make out right here and it would be rude to leave our own wedding reception dance."
He groaned in frustration but conceded, "Okay. I'll try to be patient with the socialising but honestly I just want you all to myself, right now."
She caressed his face with empathy and said, "I know. Believe me. I'm feeling what you're feeling. They did put some effort into all of this, for us, tonight, though, so the least we can do, in return, is hang out with them for a bit and appreciate being celebrated. We have a pretty great crew."
He nodded and stipulated, "Just because you're right doesn't make this any easier for me."
She gave him a quick, hard kiss on the lips and concurred, "Me neither. Let's go dance with other people before this gets R rated."
He frowned in what was almost a pout as he argued, "I don't want to let go of you."
Her brow rose warningly and she corrected him, "Uhh you mean temporarily, right? You are not actually ever allowed to let go of me; we promised."
Michael feigned smugness, "Yeah, that's what I meant. That is an order I can obey and I vow to keep, with enthusiasm. But yeah, okay. Let's get this over with, then. Man, I wish I could fast forward to the good part. Give me one more kiss to tide me over."
Maria laughed and kept him at arm's length as she declared, "I'm not falling for that! One? Yeah, right! Ten minutes later you'll try to claim it was just one continuous kiss. Forget it! Go dance with Isabel!"
Michael's shoulder's sagged and he sighed heavily as he complained, "And so the cruelty begins."
Maria scoffed unsympathetically and predicted, "Oh, pffft! You'll live! Besides, I'll, uhh, make it up to you, later and then some."
He glared at her, though he was clearly amused, as he announced, "Fine. In that case, I'm off to go dance with Isabel, now."
Maria grabbed his hand to stall him, so that she could make a request, "After we dance with everyone else, dance with me, again, before we tell them all goodnight, okay? Deal?"
He winked at her and agreed, "Yes, deal. Maria?"
She waited for him to continue and he said earnestly, "Thanks for making me see, last night, that marrying me, doesn't mean that you're doomed to a life of misery. I love you."
She smiled at him, nodded and siad, "Thanks for seeing it my way, spaceboy. I love you, too. So much. More on that later. Promise."
After several seconds of just looking into her eyes without speaking, he finally said, "I'll definitely be collecting on that promise."
Within seconds of Michael cutting in on Isabel and Kyle dancing, Kyle asked Maria, "May I dance with the bride?"
Maria exaggerated in her answer, "You mean your soon to be step-sister? Sure!"
Kyle made a yuck face and asked in horror, "They are doing that, again? Why?"
Maria warned, "That nearly sounds like you don't want to be my step-brother. That could cause one of us to feel hurt."
Kyle grinned then and recanted, "No, that part I'd be totally cool with, it's the thing that would have to happen to make it so, that I would take extreme issue with!"
Maria chuckled and agreed, "Right? Well, on the up side, we don't have to witness things, this time, that might require brain bleach!"
Kyle started to laugh but then he sobered and admitted, "I would tolerate even that, though, if it meant that I could see my Dad, again and talk to him. You and your Mom had a good virtual visit?"
Maria nodded and suggested, "I was led to believe it won't be the last time we get to talk that way, so if they are still ... gag me ... dating, by then, it's probable that you would get to see and talk to your Dad, too, at some point."
Kyle looked anxiously interested as he stated, "I'll put that in the up side column, then. I hope it happens, at least once. Man, I miss him so much more than I even expected to and I mean I knew I'd miss him a lot but this ache just never goes away."
Maria squeezed his waltz hand in sympathy and then Max cut in, "May I?"
Kyle must have been feeling vulnerable and caught off guard because he answered Max, "I thought you'd never ask, good buddy old pal! Sure!"
Max laughed and asked the room, "Alright, who gave Kyle beer? It's henceforth forbidden. It makes him think that he and I are friends!"
Kyle continued the joking, "Oh, it's much worse than that, Max! You saved my life, you beautiful human-alien hybrid! We are bonded forever, now!"
Max said solemnly, "You're right, Kyle; that is much worse."
Michael had moved on to dancing with Ava and Isabel intervened in the Max and Kyle bromance by grasping Kyle's hand and declaring, "I'll just take this away before things get ugly!,
"Come dance with me, some more, Buddha fanboy!"
Michael, who had seemed to not be following along, quipped, "You mean Maxwell fanboy."
Maria and Liz were holding their sides laughing by then and Ava was stifling hers with a fist in her mouth.
Kyle sighed heavily but a stifled smile made his lips twitch. He had sufficiently deflected their attention from his close call with tears over missing his Dad.
Liz decided to take a page out of the boys near miss bromance and insisted on waltzing with Maria. For some reason they didn't get teased about that. They hugged each other fiercely afterward and Maria gushed, "I love you forever, Lizzie!"
Liz echoed it back, "Me, too, Maria! I love you forever, girl! I'm really happy for you and Michael! Mostly you but that can just be between us!"
Maria grinned and said, excusing herself, "I'll take it to my grave! You're the only one my husband hasn't danced with, yet and I need to tinkle, anyway, so go ahead and do that. I promise, I'll rescue you and your dainty little toes, from him, as soon as I'm done, okay?"
Liz smiled appreciatively and agreed, "That would be great! Thanks, Maria!"
When Maria returned, Max had already rescued Liz. Kyle and Ava were dancing and Isabel and Michael were sitting, talking and holding hands comfortably. Isabel saw Maria first and she nudged at Michael, as she let go of his hand, "Your wife is back! Go dance with her!"
Michael asked half-jokingly, "Has anyone ever mentioned that you're kind of bossy?"
Isabel grinned, shook her head and blatantly lied, "No, never!"
Michael lightly poked her head with one finger, laughing as he suggested, "So you're hearing impaired, then?"
Isabel stuck out her tongue at him and they both laughed. Michael turned from Isabel to greet Maria with a full body hug, and a kiss on the neck and then he asked, "Do we get to leave here, soon?"
Maria asked him, "You've danced with everyone?"
Michael smirked and declared, "Look, I'm not dancing with Kyle or Maxwell, okay, not even for you!"
Maria giggled and pretended to lament, "Spoil sport! That would be so entertaining, though!"
Michael kept his smile even though his tone was serious as he insisted, "It's not happening, Maria."
Maria kissed him four times in a row on the lips and assured him, "Good. I think I'm ready for my wedding night, spaceboy!"
Michael heaved a sigh of relief and he exclaimed, "Yes! Finally!,
"Thanks, everyone, for everything and whatever but my wife and I are taking off now! We'll be back either Friday or Saturday. Don't let Prozac forget his Uncle Awesome! I'll do something cool with him on the weekend. Later!"
Their crew sent them off with smiles, good wishes, waves and blatant gratitude that they were taking their usual noise elsewhere, for a few days. If it was intended to embarrass either of them, it failed. Michael only stood taller with pride that he could make Maria very loud and Maria only got impatient to get to the noise making part of their wedding night, as quickly as possible.
Author's Post Script/Disclaimer: Highlight between the * * to read because spoilerish *Some prefer their own imaginations, when it comes to fictional weddings, while some appreciate visual hints. I give you both options, lol.
I wrote the wedding parts first, then went looking for, "Sure that's close enough to what I pictured", so if anyone wants to see the wedding stuff, here's the collage I constructed after writing the wedding.
It's not meant to be art; apologies for hideousness. Also, I am in no way knowledgeable about fashion or jewelry.