Thanks HypnotiqBlueEyes and Whimsy! As always, your comments are much appreciated!Chapter Summary:
Weddings bring both great joy and great aggravation; how do the gang deal with the ups and downs of Liz and Michael's wedding?AN:
So we have come to the end of this verse. I'm a little sad to see it end, but it's just run its course for me and I can't really think of anything I want to add to the universe. Maybe someday, I'll revisit it. Thanks to every one who has read and supported it! Wedding Ceremony words were modeled from the Non-Religion Specific Ceremony at Weddings by Lance, although, I did edit it heavily. Vows were taken from About.com. The beginning of the end blessing comes from the Apache Wedding Blessing. Lyrics to Wishin' and Hopin belong to Hal David and Burt Bacharach.AN2:
I have linked each of the dresses mentioned, the headpiece, the pearls, the rings an Michael's tuxedo if you want to see what Liz is talking about.
Wishin' and Hopin'Wishin’’ and hopin’’
And thinkin’’ and prayin’’
Planning and dreamin’
Each night of his charms.
That won’t get you into his arms
“So, let me see, let me see!” Maria demanded, eliciting a piercing squeal as she grabbed her best friend’s hand, her mouth rounding with surprised admiration as the sparkling bauble glimmered in the dim lighting, shooting off icy stars as it caught the flickering candlelight. Arching a brow, she quirked her lips and shot a sly smirk towards the irritated groom. “I’m impressed, Guerin, who knew you actually had taste.”
“Two words,” Michael huffed as he passed the giggling flock of females, ooing and awwing over his fiancee's ring and cringed internally at the sight of Isabel hustling Liz into a corner as she whipped out her planner, already nose deep in the planning of a yet to be determined wedding date. Shaking his head, he clawed at his brow, watching his remaining free time slip down the drain as the Christmas Nazi morphed into the Wedding Nazi before his very eyes and continued his point with a smirk. “Pearl earrings.”
Maria snorted and rolled her eyes, retorting in kind. “Two words – Isabel. Bumper.”
“Two words,” he tossed back over his shoulder, grimacing as she reminded him of his Christmas folly when they were dating, one only salvaged by his sister’s interference at the last minute. However, he knew he’d get her with this reminder. “Dancing lessons.”
“Alright, I’ll give you that one,” Maria conceded, shrugging reluctantly and turned back to the blushing bride, smiling as Liz flushed and looked up, a slightly panicked frown flitting over her face, incited by a demanding ice princess intent on nailing down shopping excursion dates. “I better rescue your wife-to-be before she kills your sister.”
Michael shook his head as the excitable blonde hurried off, his head throbbing when yet another girlish squeal pierced the air, all the females turning to stare at him with wide eyes and giggling as Liz filled them in on his proposal. Or at least he assumed that was the case given the simpering, and awed faces that continued to watch him with respect and a certain amount of wonder. Waving at the girls gingerly, Michael turned away and strode over to the thankfully open bar; his one insistence when they were planning this surprise engagement party. He knew that between the squeals, fawning and Isabel trying to corner him and Liz, he was definitely going to need a drink.
Not for him, (his alien metabolism didn't allow him to partake), but for everyone else, because if they were busy drinking, laughing and sharing stories, they weren't hounding him with color swatches, brochures and endless questions.
“Congratulations, son,” Jim said, clapping him on the shoulder and startling him out of his thoughts. “You're a lucky man. They don't make them like that anymore.”
“Thanks,” Michael smiled, sharing a brief smile with the man that had become one of his greatest allies and a father figure to an extent. “I still can't believe that she said yes.”
“I'm not surprised,” Jim mused, sipping on his beer as he looked between Liz and Michael, snickering when the lovely bride sent her groom a harassed look and was desperately trying to shake off Isabel, who had latched onto her the moment the words 'we're engaged' spilled from their lips and refused to relinquish her hold. “Even when you and Maria dated, there just seemed to be something more there between the two of you. Not to say that you didn't love Maria, but there was something undefinable between you and Liz even back then.”
“I suppose,” Michael agreed, not wanting to admit to his former girlfriend's step-father that he'd had a bit of a crush on her best friend, but his tone must have given him away, because Jim sent him a wry glance and dropped the subject. “I've always admired her.”
“She is a good one,” Jim agreed quietly, patting him on the shoulder as he caught Amy's eye and smiled, nodding when she waved him over. “I'd better go see what she wants. Although, a word of warning, unless you want to be stuck listening to wedding prattle all night, I'd run while you can. Your sister has that look in her eyes.”
Panicked, Michael turned his head and sure enough Isabel was eying him with that slight manic expression, planner in hand as she listened to Maria and Tess bubble and gush to Liz about whatever it was women got excited about with weddings. Grimacing internally, he exchanged a look with Jim, scowling when the man just laughed at him and clapped him on the shoulder sympathetically, quipping before he left.
“Good luck, son. You're going to need it.”
Michael grimaced in earnest this time, and glanced back over to his far too eager looking sister and shivered when a shark-like grin slid over her face and she crooked her finger, beckoning him over. What was the saying? 'Will you step into my parlor? said the spider to the fly?' Why did he get the distinct impression he was walking straight into his doom? Sighing, he ambled over when Liz shot him a pleading look from behind his sister, shooting her a wry, 'I told you so' look.
“The things I do for love,” he muttered under his breath, wondering if were too late to skip the whole wedding thing and just elope. So if you're looking
For love you can share
All you gotta to is hold him’
And kiss him’ and love him’
And show him that you care.
“Do I even want to know how this happened?” Alex asked suspiciously, a hint of trepidation in his tone as he stared at the melted motherboard in Michael's laptop in disbelief.
“Uh…no,” Michael replied sheepishly, shifting uncomfortably under the other man's probing gaze; a discomfort that didn't come from embarrassment, but rather, because it brought back very...pleasant memories. Ones he couldn't act on because the girls had taken off for the weekend, hunting down some wedding object that Liz just had to have.
“All right,” Alex acquiesced hastily, holding his had up to fend off any unnecessary or, knowing Michael and Liz, deviant explanations and going back to his appraisal of the very singed and dilapidated laptop, which he was about to pronounce DOA. He had asked Michael why he hadn't simply fixed it with his powers, but got a muttered 'alien powers and delicate technology don't mix' for his efforts and hadn't dared to ask more. Really, it was just wiser to remain in the dark about these things. “Please don’t tell me. Especially if it had anything to do with what Kyle has been bitching about over the past few months. One scarred friend is plenty for this group.”
“Wise choice,” Max piped up from behind his magazine, the smirk sliding across his face cementing Alex's prior thoughts and more than explanation enough for him. “We don’t need to hear anymore about their escapades. Frankly, I could happily live the rest of my life never hearing anything about my brother’s far too active sex life.”
“Jealous?” Michael smirked, raising an eyebrow at his brother's shudder and laughed when Max shot him a baleful glare. Michael knew that Max had gotten over his crush on Liz long before, otherwise he would have never made a move on the brunette, but that didn't mean he didn't enjoy twitting him now and then. “Going through a bit of a dry spell there Maxwell?”
“Never said that, did I?” Max leered lasciviously, a secret smile sliding over his face as he averted his gaze from his curious companions. “On the contrary, LA has been very good to me.”
“Do tell,” Kyle invited as he walked into the room, several drinks, bags of chips and other assorted snacks piled in his arms. Max had always been closed mouthed about his life in LA, but they supposed that it was difficult to explain given that what he was doing couldn't be learned in any college or university.
“Nah,” Max denied lazily, once again staving off his friends curiosity about the time he spent with Kal, learning about the culture, history and political system of their home planet, with a wave of his hand and tossed Kyle an evil grin. “Some of us do believe in practicing this thing called discretion.”
“Unlike certain other people, who shall remain nameless?” Alex quipped, catching onto Max's vein of thought and snickering when Kyle turned green and dumped his pile of snacks onto the coffee table, shoving them away with a grimace.
“Ha ha…” Michael deadpanned, frowning at his friends with feigned consternation. “Need I remind you that was Liz’s faux pas, not mine?”
“Fancy words, Goliath,” Alex said, quirking his brow in amusement as he continued to tinker with the computer, shaking his head in exasperation as he pulled out yet another fried bit that he couldn't even recognize. “Besides, I already have a bone to pick with you, wonder boy.”
“What? What did I supposedly do this time?” Michael rejoined warily, making Max and Kyle chuckle at his bemused expression as he watched Alex delving into the depths of his computer, pulling out melted bits of plastic, silicone and metal. “I already told you, the computer was an accident.”
“Not that,” Alex reassured, shaking his head, already knowing there was no way he could salvage anything in the machine, but curious nonetheless at the extent of the damage. He lied earlier; he really did want to know what had caused so much damage, but he had enough self-preservation to not ask. “I’m talking about this whole wedding business.”
“What about it?” Michael queried distractedly, staring at the tuxedo brochure Liz had foisted on him last night, informing him that he better find something he liked because he would be wearing one, even if she had to tie him down and dress him herself; or worse, send Isabel to get the job done.
“You’re making us look bad, man,” Kyle mumbled around a mouthful of chips, his stomach finally calming enough to tackle his mountain of goodies.
“How so?” Michael asked skeptically, looking up from the brochure enough to find two heads nodding emphatically, while the lone single male in their group snickered.
“Do you know how long I had to listen to Tess wax poetic after your engagement party?” Alex begrudged, narrowing his eyes when the tall alien merely snickered and went back to his pamphlet. “Two hours.”
Michael's smug grin deepened and he let out a little, amused chortle at the irritated moue painted on the taller man's face. He had known that his sister was likely to be a little perturbed with their announcement, given the long engagement she and Alex had agreed to, but that was on them. He had no intention of waiting years and giving Liz a chance to escape.
“Two hours of non-stop conversation,” Alex reiterated, dragging another snicker from the other man as he ran an agitated hand through his hair. “And that was just about the ring. That didn’t include the ‘discussion’ we had about how it was funny that, although, we were engaged first, you still managed to beat us to the altar.”
“Sucks to be you,” Michael lofted unsympathetically; really, had they expected him to just sit on his ass and draw things out? They should know by now that patience was not his forte. “Not my fault that you chose to putz around and have a long engagement rather than cart my beloved sibling down the aisle.”
“And Isabel,” Kyle griped, cutting in on the conversation, his fingered clenching the bag of chips in his hand, making the package crackle and rattle as several chips crunched in his vehemence. “My house has turned into a wedding showcase almost overnight. There are magazines and brochures and fabric swatches and…Buddha knows what, spilling over tables and out of drawers…and it’s only been a week! A week, Michael!”
“She does get a bit obsessive,” Max agreed with a slight nod, startling when the man next to him hissed with displeasure.
“A little?” Kyle cried incredulously, staring at Max like he had grown another head. “That’s like saying Mt. Everest is a bit of a hill, or that the Grand Canyon is a bit deep or Mt. Vesuvius was a bit of a rumble. I’m tripping over samplers and invitations and God, I don’t even want to know what is up with all the tulle. I’m appalled that I even know it’s called tulle.”
“What’s tulle?” Max asked, unable to resist teasing Kyle and grinned when Alex and Michael rolled their eyes.
“It’s that netting stuff that you see wrapped around those sickeningly sweet candied almonds everyone insists on giving as wedding favors,” Kyle explained, ignoring the surprised looks on his companions faces that he actually knew the answer. Glaring at the tall alien who had unwittingly unleashed the demon he was currently living with, Kyle continued his rant. “The point is, I should not know this shit! I am not even engaged yet, but you couldn’t tell that from the state of my house.”
“I don’t know what you would have had me do,” Michael shrugged, clearly at a loss to what he could do at this point to ease the situation. Isabel was...well...Isabel; and no one got between her and one of her pet projects unless they were seriously contemplating death.
“A warning would have been nice,” Kyle groused, shoving a small handful of chips into his mouth petulantly, fuming over his predicament. “I know you wanted to surprise her parents and the girls, but bros are supposed to look out for each other; especially in the event that it was going to unleash a wedding-obsessed autocrat upon one’s household.”
Max, Michael and Alex exchanged bemused smiles, all a bit abashed, although greatly amused. They had all been on the other end of Isabel's obsessive need to control her environment, as well as her need to plan every event to death, at one point or another. Kyle himself was no stranger to the blonde alien's quirks, but he was right, a bit of a warning as to the cyclone they were about to unleash would have given him a chance to plan for the resulting deluge.
“Kyle?” Alex pronounced, his tone quiet and placating, as if fearful of inciting another bitter eruption.
“Yes?” Kyle bit out, scowling at the tux brochure now laying limply in Michael's hands, muttering incoherently under his breath, although they did distinctly hear the words 'wedding Nazi' in the mix.
“I promise,” Alex intoned solemnly, raising one hand in mock pledge. “That when Tess and I decide on a date, I’ll warn you ahead of time before we announce it to Isabel.”
“Thank you,” Kyle responded emphatically, missing the amused, and slightly disturbed, glances of his friends as he continued to mutter under his breath. “At least then, I can invest in another place to host wedding central and store all this excess wedding shit. And maybe plan for a very long vacation. Maybe then I’ll get some peace.” Show him that you care’ just for him.
Do the things that he likes to do.
Wear your hair just for him’ ’cause’
You won’t get him’ thinkin’ and a prayin’’
Wishin’ and hopin’.
“So, what are you looking for?” Tess asked, looking at the rows upon rows of white dresses that hung in the shop with just a hint of fear. Liz had to admit that the sight was more than a bit daunting, especially as she really didn't have a concrete visual of her perfect dress in her head.
“I’m not sure exactly,” Liz replied hesitantly, blatantly ignoring Isabel's gasp of dismay at that pronouncement, (really, the woman was far too worried over lists and specifications; she needed to take a chill pill and just let things be occasionally), as Maria pelted off for parts unknown. “It’s almost easier to list what I don’t want.”
“Well then,” Tess broke in, cutting off any commentary from Isabel and sending the blonde a warning glance, ignoring the other girl's huff for her interference. This was Liz's wedding, and while the blonde alien likely had every detail of her own planned to a tee, it wasn't any of her business how others proceeded. Not everyone felt the need to plan their weddings from the moment they understood the concept. “Let’s start with that.”
“No bows, no ribbons, no poofs, no beading…” Liz listed, immediately launching into her dislikes before pausing on the last condition thoughtfully. “Well, okay, a bit of beading is fine, as long as it’s tastefully done. I don’t want to blind people as I walk down the aisle. Same with lace…tasteful is the word.”
“What about this?” Maria bubbled, shoving a monstrosity of a dress under Liz's nose, one that was the antithesis of everything Liz wanted. A cream-colored, princess-style ball gown
with crinolines and yards of material and poofs and rosettes...it was hideous, Exactly what she would expect from a Disney princess or reminiscent of something out of those horrid romance novels Maria was so infatuated with.
remotely like that,” Liz shuddered, staring at the dress with obvious distaste. Honestly, what had Maria been thinking?
“But you’d look gorgeous in it,” Maria protested, pouting prettily when Liz just shook her head.
“No,” Liz replied firmly, still looking at the gown in sheer terror; it looked exactly like something dreamed by Sleeping Beauty's fairy guardian, Meriweather. “I love you, Maria, but no. That is something you’d wear. I want something simple.”
“Didn’t you look at dresses in magazines before you came?” Isabel finally managed to sneak in as Maria shuffled off, obviously disappointed her find was thoroughly shot down.
“I did,” Liz nodded, squaring her shoulders determinedly and heading for the nearest dress rack, her 'helpmates' trailing behind her with the exception of Maria; and Liz dreaded to think about where the blonde had lit off to. “But nothing really stood out. Most of it was so over the top or just way too out there for my tastes.”
“Okay, so we know you want something with minimal decoration,” Tess broke in, intervening before Isabel could turn this excursion into another of her projects. A wedding dress is a personal thing, and they were here for support, not to dictate how and what to find. The bride will know when it was right for her. “What about material?”
“I kinda like the idea of something that floats around me,” Liz smiled dreamily, looking at a dress that had a chiffon overlay. It was too heavy for what she had in mind, being a thick satin underneath and the wedding at the height of summer, but she loved the graceful lines and the way it seemed to float on the air. “Light. Airy. Like silk or maybe something with a chiffon overlay. Nothing too heavy as it is summer in New Mexico and I really don’t want to roast on my wedding day.”
“How about this?” Maria cried enthusiastically, as she drug a strapless dress
behind her, making Liz's eyes pop in dismay. True it was...well...slightly less elaborate, but the skirt...
“No, Maria,” Liz shook her head, her eyes still riveted on the skirt that bubbled and spilled everywhere. “That looks like it has enough material to make two dresses. It’s summer. Heat?”
“Do you have a preference on the silhouette?” Isabel redirected, seeing the opportunity to move things along in the long silence that fell between Tess and Liz as they watched Maria battle the skirt from hell, the dress nearly winning as the blonde trooped away.
“I was thinking either a sheath or an A-line,” Liz responded distractedly, shaking herself out of her wedding dress stupor and continued pouring over the racks, silently noting styles and potential dresses to try on when her appointment came up. “Again, because of the simplicity and lighter fabrics.”
“What about this one,” Maria burbled, still excited despite Liz shooting down two of her offerings. “Isn’t it gorgeous?”
Sighing in resignation, Liz turned and studied the proffered mermaid gown
with a critical eye. Well, it wasn't horrible – the beading and decorations were minimal, and the amount of fabric paired down – but neither was it a hit. In fact, Maria seemed to swing from one extreme in the amount of fabric to the other, and this time it was a bit too form-fitting as she stared at the mermaid silhouette. She'd never feel comfortable in that.
“It's...nice, Maria,” Liz conceded hesitantly, licking her lips as Maria beamed. “Better than the other two, but I’m not overly fond of the shape. I’d feel too self-conscious wearing something that hugged my body so tightly.”
Maria's face fell as Liz made the last statement, shuffling off once more, making Liz feel a bit bad. She knew her friend was a bit...enthusiastic about this wedding, and truly wanted to help; it was just, she seemed to be selecting gowns that were much more suited to her tastes than Liz's.
“Now about the neckline?” Tess prompted, seeing the shadow fall across the brunette's face, wanting to distract her from whatever thoughts were marring her day. Today was supposed to be happy and carefree, not riddled with troubles.
“I was thinking maybe off the shoulders,” Liz smiled, perking up instantly as they got back to her dress. It was difficult to remain gloomy when they were surrounded by so many lovely creations and the equally infectious laughter of other brides looking for their perfect dress for their perfect day. “Or perhaps a strapless gown.”
“Hey Liz…” Maria called, holding up a white, frothy gown
, that while lovely, had an obviously deep neckline that made the brunette nearly choke on the sip of water she'd taken.
“Good God, no, Maria,” Liz said, her voice slightly strangled and eyes widening in horror as she imagined Michael's and her father's reactions. “Just…no.”
“Michael would love it,” Isabel quipped dryly, smirking when Liz just tossed her and exasperated frown.
“Yeah, until some guy commented on it and then he’d likely fry the offender,” Liz shot back, her tone equally as dry as she eyed the gown. It was too bad about the neckline, as the dress was rather pretty; but no, that would be inviting a headache she didn't need. “Not to mention that my dad would have a heart attack.”
“Anything else? Isabel queried, looking down at her planner, in which she had been making copious notes during the conversation of Liz's wants and do nots.
“No,” Liz sighed softly, her expression slightly bewildered as looked at the rows of dresses. “Like I said, nothing I’ve seen has really piqued my interest. I just…I’ll know it when I see it.”
“Liz, Liz…you have to see this one!” Maria exclaimed from another row, making the brunette roll her eyes as she walked around the rack. “I promise you’ll love it.”
“Maria…” Liz huffed in exasperation, already dreading whatever concoction Maria had discovered now, wondering silently if it would be a terrible thing to finish shopping without ones maid of honor present. “That’s…”
Liz paused, really taking a good look at the dress
and released a soft gasp, a small smile of pleasure spilling over her face. The gown fell in layers of chiffon, floating gracefully to the floor and pooled into a chapel-length train. There was some rhinestone detailing at the left hip, as well as gracing the one-shoulder strap it had. She hadn't really considered that style before, but found she actually quite like it. The dress was, quite simply put, breathtaking.
“That’s actually quite perfect,” Liz agreed breathlessly, still fingering the soft folds of fabric, turning it to inspect the corset-back
while Maria beamed and Tess and Isabel nodded their approval. “Really. I love it.”
“Do I know you or what?” Maria gloated, preening under her friend's enchantment.
“Uh…” Liz hedged, exchanging a speaking glance with Isabel and Tess. “Let’s not get too carried away now.”
“Oh!” Maria enthused and flitted away, high on her success as she pulled another gown from the racks. “And saw the perfect dress for us!
Biting her lip, Liz honestly had no words for the...creation before her eyes; the only words that came to mind were 'pink, tiered wedding cake
.' It was everything that the first dress had been, but pink and puffy, like a...well she really couldn't think of a decent description. But where she lacked the vocabulary, Isabel seemed to sum it up quite nicely.
“Oh, hell no! Just no. Liz! She’s your friend; do something!” ’Cause wishin’’ and hopin’’
And thinkin’’ and prayin’’
Planning and dreamin’
His kisses will start.
That won’t get you into his heart!
“So, what’s the plan for today?” Max queried as he entered the rec room in Kyle's house, gingerly making his way through the piles of wedding paraphernalia that Kyle had been bitching about just weeks before, and throwing himself down onto the couch as he watched Kyle and Michael battle it out for supremacy on some game or another.
“What do you mean?” Michael absently asked, crowing with delight when his character took Kyle's character out, sending him back to the starting point. “Oh, owned your ass, midget. Beat that!”
“For the wedding,” Max replied, as if it were obvious; and to him it was. He'd heard plenty from friends who had gone through it themselves as to how much planning a wedding took, and between Liz and Isabel, he couldn't foresee Michael getting off easily. “What do you have to do?”
“Why would I have anything planned?” Michael asked, grumbling when Kyle's character caught up to him and shot a derogatory hand gesture at his sandy-haired cohort.
“Well, I know from Izzy that the girls are out looking at things for the ceremony today,” Max explained slowly, aghast at his brother's indifference, a marked change from a few weeks before. “I just figured you probably were assigned some task or had something you had to oversee.”
“Well, yeah, I suppose,” Michael began before getting sidetracked by the game once more, crying out in annoyance when Kyle snuck up behind him and trounced him soundly. “Dude…what the hell was that? Oh, you are so going down, shorty.”
“In your dreams, Shaggy,” Kyle cackled madly, running on ahead while Michael's character recovered his strength. “You couldn’t beat me even if I had both hands tied behind my back and was blindfolded.”
“So…” Max prompted, trying to get the conversation back on track despite Michael's split attention. He had no intention of ending up on Liz or Isabel's bad sides.
“So what?” Michael inquired obtusely, completely focused on the game and losing track of the previous question.
“The tasks, Michael,” Max sighed in exasperation, shaking his head at the taller man. “What do you have to do?”
“Oh, right,” Michael replied, his memory momentarily jogged by Max's words, but he quickly lost the thread when his character caught up with Kyle's, managing to steal a magical talisman from right under his nose. “Oh yeah! Who’s talking smack now?”
“Whatever,” Kyle grunted, muttering under his breath about cheating aliens as they continued to play. “I’ll get you in the next challenge. Don’t get too cocky.”
“Well, when you have so much natural talent to work with…” Michael smirked lasciviously, purposefully misunderstanding Kyle's meaning, inciting the stocky man to turn green. Teasing him never got old. He really had to thank Liz for her little messenger flub up, because it was just so entertaining to see Kyle flinch in memory. “Anyway, I have no idea. Isabel shoved this list at me yesterday, but I haven’t looked at it yet.”
“What?” Max cried incredulously, cringing internally as he imagined his sister's wrath if she ever found out. “Are you suicidal?”
“Dude, relax,” Kyle waved off Max's concern; obviously he had yet to learn not to tempt the wrath known as Isabel. “The wedding is still a couple of months off. What could be all that pressing?”
“Are you serious?” Max exclaimed, dumbfounded by their utter disregard for timing and all the work inherent to a wedding. “Do you even realize how far in advance…”
“Man, give it up,” Alex piped up for the first time, having wisely remained silent during the entire exchange. He knew trying to explain something like this was pointless when it came to Michael and Kyle. “They’re never going to get it. Best to let them face the wrath of the Wedding Nazi when she realizes nothing has been done. I guarantee they’ll only make that mistake once.”
“Please,” Kyle huffed, missing the way Max and Alex had suddenly quieted as the object of their discussion entered the room, braving the 'testosterone tank' after hearing a part of the discussion. “I’m not scared of her. We all know who wears the pants in this relationship.”
“Do we now?” Isabel queried dryly, smirking when her boyfriend's head snapped around, allowing Michael to kill his character off while he was suitably distracted.
“Baby…um…” Kyle stuttered nervously, fumbling with the controller as he faced his smugly amused girlfriend. “I didn’t see you there…”
“Obviously,” Isabel drawled, her smirk widening as Kyle squirmed uncomfortably beneath her gaze.
“Umm…” Kyle stumbled, wondering how he was going to extract himself from this mess. “Hi?”
“Oh, yes,” Alex snickered from his corner. “That’s showing her.”
Kyle shot the brunet a malevolent glare, huffing indignantly when Alex merely snickered and continued reading, making Isabel snort as she crossed her arms over her chest. Looking down at her nails, she cleared her throat once and flicked a glance at Michael, who was still too involved in his game to sense the danger lurking behind him, but Max and Alex cringed, able to read it loud and clear in her stance.
“So, what’s this about the list?” Isabel asked conversationally, flicking a telling glance at Max and Alex, warning them not to interfere. “I do hope you’ve read about the appointment I listed for today. It was the only one they had available for the next two weeks.”
“Appointment?” Michael asked weakly, pausing the game as he frantically tried to come with a plausible answer that wouldn't give away the fact that he hadn't bothered to look at his list.
“The appointment for the DJ,” Isabel prompted, arching an eyebrow and smirking when Michael looked blank, trying to cover up his error by bluffing his way through the conversation.
“Right, right,” Michael agreed hastily, clawing at his eyebrow as he tried to recall what Liz had told him about the DJ they planned to hire and coming up completely blank. “Of course I did. It’s at…um…where is that paper…at...um…”
“Three,” Isabel supplied, looking pointedly at the clock hanging above the television. “Which is about thirty minutes from now, so you better get moving.”
“Right, of course,” Michael nodded, scrambling to his feet and searching for his keys. “We were…we were just leaving.”
“Don’t you need this?” Isabel called, holding up a piece of paper in her hand as Michael hurried towards the door. “After all, it lists the directions and the music selections, along with yours and Liz’s do not play list.”
“Oh, yeah,” Michael bluffed, smiling benignly at Isabel as if he knew exactly what she was talking about, but really had no clue. “Thanks! Can’t believe I almost forgot that.”
“No problem,” Isabel smiled, exchanging a knowing look with Max and Alex as they continued to lounge, letting Michael and Kyle take the heat and run off on said task. Max had tried to warn him after all. “I’m glad to see you working so diligently.”
Smirking as she heard the front door slam, Isabel pulled out her phone and flipped it open, dialing a number by heart and placing the phone to her ear as she waited for the other girl to pick up.
“So, we don’t have to worry about the DJ appointment this afternoon,” she greeted, an evil smile playing on her lips as she knew the brunette was waiting to be picked up for said appointment. “I pawned it off on Michael. The idiot hadn’t even looked at his list yet.”
Alex and Max broke into peals of laughter as Isabel left the room, heartily amused by the way Isabel had played Michael. Smirking at each other, they knew they'd never tell. After all, it was Michael's own fault for not reading the list in the first place. [So if you’re thinking how great true love is
All you gotta to is hold him’ and kiss him’
And squeeze him’ and love him.
Yeah’ just do it!
And after you do’ you will be his.
Liz was flipping through a magazine, enjoying the peace and quiet for once since all this wedding madness had begun; or, at least she was attempting to enjoy it, but was thus being foiled by tawny-haired aliens who kept muttering to themselves over in the corner, disrupting the generally peaceful atmosphere.
“…Venue has been set; although, why anyone would want to utilize the Crashdown when it’s so tight on space…” Isabel muttered under her breath as she checked off several mysterious items on her trusty and ever expanding wedding list.
“It’s an intimate wedding, Isabel,” Liz reminded the other girl absently, her fingers halting their flipping as she spied a particularly pretty hairpiece
. “There will be less than fifty people if they all attend. Oh, this is pretty.”
“Compacted in…” the blonde mumbled contentiously, making Liz roll her eyes as she nudged Maria in the side and pointed to the magazine.
Maria popped over the brunette’s shoulder, her eyes widening and her mouth rounding as she studied the headband on the page, letting out an appreciative sigh as she nodded and waved over Tess, who had been setting up a ‘manicure station’ for the girls-only spa day.
“Liz, you totally have to get that,” Maria insisted enthusiastically. But then again, when wasn’t Maria enthusiastic about any kind of shopping? “I know you were planning to wear flowers in your hair, but it’s just so you. And it would look fabulous with your dress.”
“Chairs…” Isabel’s voice broke into the conversation, her tone slightly anxious as she riffled through her pages, continuing to check off items that were done and making copious notes on things that had yet to be accomplished. “Where is the information on the blasted chairs?”
“We don’t need them, Isabel,” Liz replied firmly. There was no way she was going to spend nearly three hundred additional dollars for some fancy wedding chair when they already had perfectly serviceable chairs. “We’ll slap a chair jacket on the ones we have and no one will know the difference. And before you ask, the dishes and cutlery are covered. You don’t think the hairband is to much?”
“Not at all, Liz,” Tess piped up, studying the indicated page thoughtfully, a smile spreading across her face as Isabel huffed, her brow pinched in concentration as she went back to her list. “It’s elegant, and as Maria aptly put, completely you.”
“There’s even a matching jewelry set,” Maria pointed out, gesturing to the opposite page. Liz had to admit that the set was lovely, but…
“Jackets?” Isabel queried, sounding slightly harried, her eyes widening as she shuffled her papers once more. “Chair jackets? No one mentioned anything about chair jackets.”
“Not needed,” Liz replied, nodding toward the necklace and earrings, still looking at the headband contemplatively. She really didn’t need it, but she wanted it. “I’m wearing Grandma Claudia’s pearls
…and the jackets are being made by Amy, Isabel.”
“Is that the necklace and earring set you showed me the other day?” Tess asked as she went back over to her set up. Liz smiled and nodded. The set had been passed down bride to bride on her wedding day. Grandma Claudia had worn them at her wedding as her mother had before her and Liz’s mom after. It was only suiting that she continue the tradition.
“Oh, those will work perfectly with the headband,” Tess nodded.
“…Alien mural on the wall…” Isabel grumbled, shoving her hand through her hair in agitation.
“Going to be covered by drapery for the day,” Liz cut off the tirade before it could even get started. “Plus the signs will be taken down or will be covered as well…so that’s a yes on the headband? I do like it.”
“Without a doubt.”
“Flowers…” came the persistent voice from the other side of the room.
“Covered,” Liz replied absently, her mind far from wedding preparations but still engaged enough to provide the necessary answers when prompted. “Ordered them from Victor’s. They’ll be here two days before the ceremony so we can arrange them…yes, I do like it. Okay, it’s a go.”
Liz laughed when Maria and Tess squealed and immediately began making plans for a shopping excursion; once they figured out where to purchase the headband that is.
“Being catered by Chez Pierre. Standard options,” Liz supplied, marking the page with the headband by dog-earring it, then continuing to flip through the magazine as Isabel hastily made notes.
“What about us?” Maria suddenly asked, garnering Liz’s inquisitive gaze. “Jewelry? Do you have something specific in mind that you want us to purchase for the wedding?”
“…Invitations were sent out yesterday,” Isabel murmured, noting something in her planner, before checking something off on the infamous list. Likely the invitations. “No replies yet.”
“I seriously doubt we’ll see any responses until next week at the earliest,” Liz stated before turning to Maria and Tess. “Don’t worry about your jewelry. I already have that covered with your bridesmaid gifts.”
“Michael had better have booked the DJ,” Isabel muttered, her face darkening with annoyance as she remembered finding the boys completely neglecting their wedding duties. “Because if I find them sitting around playing video games again…”
“I can’t take this anymore,” Maria muttered mutinously, flashing the taller blonde a moue of irritation before standing and marching purposefully over to Isabel. “Enough!”
Snagging the list out Isabel’s hands, Maria ripped the pages in half, giggling gleefully, a triumphant smile spreading across her face as Isabel’s eyes widened in horror and the other two girls desperately tried not to laugh.
“This is supposed to be a spa day!” Maria ranted, shuffling the papers together and then ripping them in half again. “No wedding stress allowed!”
Huffing, Isabel pressed her lips together in annoyance, her arms crossed over her chest as she tried to not flinch when Maria continued to shuffle the papers and ripped them in half once more.
“It’s not even your wedding!” Maria groused much to Liz’s amusement and continued ripping the papers into smaller and smaller pieces. “And you’re about to have an aneurism over it!”
Finished with her gleeful and willful destruction of the list from hell, Maria threw the pieces up in the air and watched them flutter to the floor like confetti before placing her hands on her hips and grinning in satisfaction, bearing up admirably under the force of Isabel’s virulent glare.
Grumbling, Isabel flicked the entire room an annoyed glance, haughtily sweeping her hair out of her eyes before she studied her hands. Returning a heated stare to a defiantly smug Maria, she nonchalantly flicked her hand over her nails, smirking when they transformed, leaving them neatly trimmed, buffed and a glittering blood red.
“Happy?” she sniped as she displayed her neatly manicured, and dry, nails at the other girl. Then, without so much as a word to the rest of the room, she leaned over and reached into her bag, pulling out a fresh, duplicate list and began checking items and making more notes.
“Now, we have a fitting next week at 11 a.m. on Thursday,” she said, calmly picking up where she left off as if she hadn’t been so rudely interrupted by Maria’s childish tantrum. “Don’t be late; the seamstress is a bit anal about punctuality.”
Liz and Tess snickered as Maria groaned aloud and threw her hands up in the air in defeat; flinging an arm over her eyes dramatically, she flounced onto her bed, muttering as Isabel smiled smugly.
“I give up.” You gotta show him that you care just for him.
Do the things that he likes to do.
Wear your hair just for him’ ’cause’
You won’t get him’ thinkin’ and a prayin’’
Wishin’ and a hopin’.
Staring at himself in the mirror, suited up in a black tuxedo
, with a snowy white mandarin collar shirt and a midnight blue, brocade vest with silver embroidery, he couldn't help but think that if this didn't prove how much he loved the woman, nothing would. Tugging at the uncomfortably tight collar, he sighed and smoothed his hands over the fabric; he had to admit, he preferred this style to anything else he'd seen so far and if it put a smile on Liz's face, he could live with it for a day.
The shirt was pleated, but not overly ornate and definitely not adorned with those ridiculous ruffles that Alex had pointed out when they first entered the shop, smirking the entire time. If the beanpole thought for a moment that he was going to rook Michael into wearing something like that at his wedding, sister or not, he'd blast him into oblivion. The shirt was closed with onyx buttons, a large one at the hollow of his throat, and the only concession he was willing to make to such frippery. Love the woman or not, there was nothing that could induce him to wear a bow tie, or any tie for that matter. She was lucky he conceded to the tux; he personally would have preferred a simple suit. Or jeans and a t-shirt, really.
But since the wedding was being held at night, she had babbled on about the timing making it a formal event, and because of that, the wedding would be black tie by tradition; and he'd just smiled, nodded and agreed to whatever she said for his own self-preservation. And, well, she had flashed him that damned Liz-smile and the Bambi eyes that always turned him into a puddle of goo. He couldn't say no to those eyes. They were a lethal combination that should definitely be outlawed; or at the very least, come with a warning – contents liable to make grown men turn into simpering saps when properly deployed.
Sighing, Michael turned away from the mirror to get his groomsmen's opinions only to be faced with an argument in progress, one that had brewing since he and Liz had announced their engagement. Praying for patience, he watched as Max and Kyle squared off, with Alex watching the entire proceedings with an air of exasperation. Exchanging a look with the other man, they had apparently been at it for a while judging by the looks from the other patrons and Michael finally tuned in to find out just what they were bitching about this time. Although, he had a pretty good guess.
“I should do it,” Max groused contentiously, as he flipped through a booklet of fabric swatches, although why, when they already knew exactly what they were supposed to be ordering per the Nazi, he had no idea. A frown pinched Max's brow and he was obviously put out with Kyle. Why Max was claiming this honor now, when he'd been gone for two years and knew that in that time Michael had grown closer to Kyle, he couldn't fathom. Likely just to be stubborn. “I’m the one who has known him for two lifetimes; he’s my second in command.”
Point; but that was a lifetime ago and the four of them hadn't held those titles for decades. Plus Max had been the only one of the aliens that even held a remote interest in his past and supposed destiny; the rest of them – Michael, Isabel and Tess – had given that up long ago in favor of the life they were currently happily living.
“Yeah, but who has spent more time with him the past two years?” Kyle retorted, making an excellent point and voicing Michael's own thoughts, although, he had to wince at Kyle's tone and the impact of his next words. “Not Mr. I-need-to-discover-myself-and-explore-my-predetermined-destiny.”
“What are you talking about?” Max snapped, getting irritated by the dismissive tone of Kyle's voice. “I'm following what I believe to be right. Some of us actually plan to make something of themselves outside brutally throwing people to the ground in order to attain an oblong ball.”
Christ, did he have to go there? While Michael acknowledged he had a right to be aggravated, what good would it do to turn this into a personal attack. He thought Kal was supposed to have taught the other man diplomacy. Not to mention that the entire argument was ridiculous; Michael was seriously regretting telling them to work out this issue between the two of them.
“Just because some of us have natural talent,” Kyle shot back hotly, incensed that Max was belittling his equally hard work. “Doesn’t mean we are working any less…”
“Enough!” Alex spat, obviously getting tired of the inane bickering and shot a pointed look at Michael, who was currently being measured by the tailor. “Christ, Michael, will you do something before I kill them both?”
Staring into the three expectant faces, Michael sighed in exasperation before fixing the feuding factions with an evil smile, making them shift uneasily.
“If you two don’t shut up,” he threatened, lifting up his arms as instructed and pinning the men with a smirk as a deliciously devious idea popped into his head. Let them chew on this. “I’m asking Isabel and letting her plan the bachelor party.”
Blissful silence fell over the shop, making Michael grin at his cleverness as Alex and the tailor heaved a sigh of relief, both ecstatic that the bickering had halted as Max and Kyle were far too busy exchanging horrified looks to speak. But he should have realized it was too good to be true and that the peace wouldn't last. Because it didn't. Only this time, Kyle and Max were tripping over themselves in the attempt at being 'agreeable,' hoping to stave off Michael's threat.
“You can do it,” Kyle offered magnanimously, nodding to Max in deference, a pained, tight smile on his face. “You’re his brother and should have the honor.”
“No you can do it,” Max refuted, shaking his head in negation as he too tried to be accommodating despite how it seemed to pain him to concede. “Really I don’t mind.”
Michael sighed inwardly, pressing his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose in an effort to relieve the headache building behind his eyes. Now it seemed as if they were going to argue about who was going to be the bigger person and concede. Honestly, he was tempted to just make Alex his best man; and he would if he didn't fear that Max and Kyle would pout the entire time and Alex and he would never get any peace.
“No, really, I insist…” Kyle began, snapping something in Michael, making him huff and snap at both of them.
“God, help me; I said, shut up,” he hissed, glaring at them both. He should have done this from the very beginning and saved himself the headache. “That’s it! Kyle will be my best man, Max will hold the rings and Alex…Alex will try to help me keep my sanity. And if any of you don’t like it, remember it can always be worse.”
Smiling to himself happily, having sorted out the situation to his satisfaction, knowing that neither could argue with the arrangements now that they'd been set. Everyone knew he was a stubborn bastard, and once his mind was made up, few could move him to change it. Facing the now satisfied men, he opened his mouth to garner the opinion he'd originally sought before having to break up a senseless argument, but was cut off once again, this time by a slightly dry, but annoyed voice.
“Great, Guerin,” Alex groused, a frown on his face. “Leave me with the impossible job. I think it’d be easier maintaining sanity on the girls side…Isabel included.”
Michael groaned aloud and gave up, ignoring the newly grousing man. You couldn't make everyone happy, after all. ’Cause wishin’’ and hopin’’
And thinkin’’ and prayin’’
Planning and dreamin’ his kisses will start.
That won’t get you into his heart!
Liz looked around the room, beaming at the close friends and family that had joined Michael and herself in celebrating their impending nuptials, the rehearsal dinner being cleared away to make way for dessert. It had taken a lot of hard work, effort and constant badgering from a certain blonde alien, who had been threatened with gagging if she even attempted to engage Liz in any wedding talk before the ceremony, but it had paid off and she couldn't wait for tomorrow. She knew that the simplistic plans were far from her friends' tastes, but she really couldn't care less – it was perfect for Michael and herself.
And at the end of the day, that's all that mattered.
Exchanging a sparkling glance with Michael, she squeezed his hand and leaned over, brushing a soft kiss against his mouth, blatantly ignoring the playful gags and sighs that came with it, while Michael silently gave their friends the bird, drawing laughter from everyone involved. Pulling back, she rested her brow against his and smiled at their friends antics, desperately wishing they could just up and leave, but they hadn't quite made it through the toasts, and attendant and family gifts. And the last thing she needed was to hand them more fodder for teasing.
Sighing, she turned away from Michael, watching as her father got to his feet and lightly tapped his fork against his wine glass in an attempt to garner everyone's attention. Smiling at him, Liz waited as the conversations surrounding them swirled to a halt and all eyes were on the head table.
“As we all know,” Jeff began, smiling down at Liz. “My baby girl is getting married tomorrow.
Liz blushed as cheers and catcalls filled the room, several of her friends whispering off color comments at their table, which were thankfully drowned out by the general congratulatory comments from the rest of the room. Sending Tess, Maria and Kyle an admonishing frown, she turned her attention back to her father as he waved his hands, bringing the noise to a lull.
“What a lovely bride she will make, and I am fortunate that Michael will treat my princess exactly as she deserves,” her father continued, making her roll her eyes. “Although, I have to admit, when she and Michael first started hanging around each other, I had my doubts.”
“Doubts?” Jim chortled, making Liz grin and her father turn red. “You were two steps away from filling out a restraining order against him and Max. I mean, I have met protective fathers; am one myself, but you take the cake Jeff.”
“Yes, well,” her father's blush deepening as he smirked at Michael and herself. “I had my reasons. After all, here was this young rebellious boy who reminded me of exactly of myself at that age; like I really wanted my daughter around that.”
The room erupted into laughter, remembering the troubled, defiant boy that her father had been, endlessly getting himself into scrapes and causing general mayhem throughout the town until he met her mother. Once Nancy had moved tot he town, his trouble-making days were over, and he put all that energy into wooing and winning her over.
“But then I got to know him,” her father smiled, nodding and tipping his glass towards Michael. “And I found underneath all those rough edges laid a fine mind, a work ethic unseen in teens his age and a heart of gold; and I couldn't be prouder to call this man son.”
“Hear, hear,” Jim cheered, and Liz's grin broadened, remembering the rocky start that they'd all had with the town sheriff, only to have him become one of their staunchest allies and Michael's greatest champion.
“More, it does my heart good to see just how happy he makes my baby,” her father said, his voice choking up. “And as hard as it is to let her go, I am thankful that she has someone like Michael to watch over her.”
“So without further ado,” her father continued, lifting his glass and clearing his throat, waiting as the assemblage lifted them in turn. “Liz, Michael, may you love long and well; and may you always broaden each other's horizons. To Liz and Michael.”
“To Liz and Michael!” the room toasted.
“Broaden each other's horizons?” Maria snickered under her breath, a smirk flashing across her face as she leered at her friends and murmured only loud enough for their table to hear as her father had, thankfully, turned to speak to Jim. “If they broaden them much further, they could host their own sex club.”
“Maria!” she hissed, kicking her friend in the shin as her friends erupted into laughter, inadvertently bringing them to her parents attention. Squirming uncomfortably under their curious gazes, she glared at the squeaking blonde and whispered frantically. “Not here!”
“She has a point,” Tess chuckled, unable to resist teasing her friend, even as she pat Liz on the hand, laughing when the brunette continued to squirm and flush hotly. “I know I've never look at truffles in quite the same way again.”
“You told them?” Michael hissed as Maria and Isabel tittered behind their hands, all missing the fact that Liz's mother had left the conversation with Jim and her father, and stood just behind Michael. Liz blushed furiously, and sent Michael a sheepish grin as she toyed with the stem of her wine glass.
“Why wouldn’t you look at…” Nancy asked, slightly bemused when eight sets of eyes flew to her in surprise and arched a brow when she noted her daughter's blush deepen and Michael shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. “On second thought, I have a feeling that I don’t want to know the answer to that.”
“Wise,” Liz nodded emphatically, completely mortified that her mother overheard that tidbit, and cringed while Michael coughed quietly and Alex snickered.
“What, you know too?” Michael asked incredulously, glaring at Liz heatedly when the entire group laughed and nodded their heads.
“Tess shared,” Alex smiled wickedly, wiggling his brows in a suggestive manner, eliciting groans from the entire table.
“Way too much information, Beanpole,” Michael groused, cringing as an unwanted visual popped into his head. “My God, she's my sister for Christ sakes.”
“Yeah, well Liz is like my sister,” Alex griped, his mouth twitching slightly in disgust. “And that certainly didn't stop you from filling my head with unwanted images.”
“And on that note, I'm leaving,” Her mother laughed, stroking a hand over Liz's head, which had fallen to the table in absolute embarrassment. “I can tell this is definitely a conversation I want nothing to do with. Besides, I need to speak with Amy and Diane about some details about tomorrow.”
“I'll go with you,” Isabel piped up, all but running after her mother, seeming relieved that she found a release for all the wedding babble building up inside without being lynched.
“I can't believe you guys,” Liz cried, pressing her hands to her flaming cheeks as she lifted her head. “In front of my mother?”
“Oh, please, chica,” Maria snorted into her drink and patting her consolingly, giggling when Liz just shot her an irritated glare, her eyes widening in horror when the blonde continued in a sly tone. “It's not like your mother had any illusions of your innocence at this point. At least, not after that one night we...”
“Maria! You swore you'd never mention that again,” Liz hissed, tossing her laughing maid of honor a quelling glance, her cheeks flushing darker if at all possible as she turned to Michael and smiled weakly when he raised an inquisitive brow.
“All right, all right,” Maria snickered, holding her hands up in mock concession, all the while smirking smugly at a suspicious Michael. “I won't say anything, don't worry. I just wanted to point out that your false modesty isn't going to fool your mother one bit after the things she learned that night.”
“What night was this?” Michael queried, his brows arching again when Liz simply shook her head and took a large gulp of her wine, studiously ignoring her fiance's gaze. She really didn't want to delve into it with him then and there.
It wasn't overly embarrassing by any means, but it did change her mother's view of her supposedly shy, quiet, studious daughter. It had happened one night, not long after her twenty-first birthday, but before Maria's. She and her best friend had decided to have a girls night in, and ended up sitting around, talking with their mothers and sharing a bottle of Peach Schnapps between the two of them and spilled far more information than they ever intended.
They hadn't been so drunk that they hadn't been aware of what they were saying, they'd just been drunk enough not to care. And without going into too much detail, a lot of her mother's illusions had been spectacularly shattered that night.
Shaking off her thoughts, her cheeks finally cooling to their natural happy flush, Liz tuned back into the conversation swirling around her and then wished she hadn't, her cheeks heating immediately once more when Maria leaned over to Michael, a wide, mischievous grin spreading across her face as she stage-whispered.
“You packed the dice, right?”
“Oh, yeah,” Michael smirked, snickering when Liz covered her face with mortification and then sent the blonde a wolfish grin. “No way are we leaving those babies at home. They're already packed with the other assorted goodies.”
“What other...?” Liz asked, trailing off and swallowing thickly when Maria and Michael just shared a sly grin and the rest of their table laughed as she held up a quelling hand. “You know what? I don't even want to know until after tomorrow night.”All you gotta to do is hold him’ and kiss him’
And squeeze him’ and love him.
Yeah’ just do it! And after you do’
You will be his.
Michael stood at the front of the room, a serene smile on his face as Liz's attendants, Isabel, Tess and Maria respectively, walked down the aisle, the notes of Pachelbel's Canon in D, Liz's only nod to traditional wedding music, ringing in his ears as their friends slowly preceded his lovely bride and joined him in the front of the church. He knew Liz hadn't really wanted the full church wedding, but had caved to her mother's desires, and personally he didn't care where they said their vows as long as by the end of the evening she was his in all ways.
Exchanging a warm grin with Maria as she came up the aisle, fighting back a chuckle when she flashed him a thumbs up and winked, before taking her place next to Tess, all three girls resplendent in their v-neck, full-length dresses
, with a thin black ribbon tied at the empire waist and each in a different color, with his sister in ice blue, Maria in teal and Isabel in midnight blue. But as lovely as they were, his eyes were only for one, currently hidden behind heavy, double doors as the music swirled to a halt around them and an expectant hush filled the room during the minute pause in music, before the first strains of Yanni's In the Morning Light began to play, Liz's selection in lieu of the traditional Wedding March, which she hated with a passion that made him chuckle.
The congregation stood, all turning toward the opening doors, and he was blinded for a moment by multi-colored light splashing through the door, a bright prism that shined through the church's stained glass windows and then there was nothing but her.
He'd always thought she was a vision in white, but seeing her there, gliding towards him with a sparkling smile, he had never seen anything or anyone more beautiful. Swallowing thickly, he blinked rapidly as moisture filmed his eyes, he returned the bright, happy smile, completely missing the way Nancy and Amy laughed and whispered behind their handkerchiefs at his absorption, and then dabbed at their eyes as Liz swept past slowly, her arms filled with a bouquet of red and white roses amongst other flora. Inhaling deeply as she and Jeff came to a stop in front of him, he found himself unable to truly express what he was thinking and feeling, but judging by the bright smile and the tears reflected in chocolate eyes, words weren't necessary. Licking his lips, he continued to stare at Liz, utterly dumbstruck until the minster cleared his throat pointedly, startling Michael and sending a light wave of laughter through the congregation.
“Good afternoon!” the minister greeted jovially, smiling when Michael turned to him with a faint flush before he turned to address the congregation at large. “We are gathered here today, not to witness the beginning of what will be, but rather to celebrate what has already bloomed. We did not create this union, for it can only be built and nourished by those standing before us today...”
Michael turned back to the beauty before him, completely losing the thread of what was being said, letting the minister's words fall over him in a comfortable, easy patter. He had already heard this the night before when they had rehearsed the ceremony and honestly the only thing he cared about was the vows that made her his. Allowing his gaze to travel over her figure, he was surprised at the dress selection, as it was far sexier than he thought she'd go for, but he loved her in it.
She was stunning.
Letting his eyes slide back up, he met twinkling, knowing eyes and huffed when she silently admonished him for not paying attention to the ceremony. Grinning unrepentantly, he turned his gaze back to the minister, as he turned to Jeff and asked.
“Who gives Elizabeth away to Michael?” the minister asked looking up from his reading.
“Her mother and I do,” Jeff replied, waiting until the minister acknowledged his answer and then he turned to Liz, pressing a kiss to her cheek before he turned to Michael and shook his hand, tucking Liz's hands into his with complete and utter trust, murmuring for their ears alone. “Take care of her, son.”
Swallowing thickly, he nodded and took Liz's hands, watching as her father stepped away and joined her mother in the front pew, along with Amy and Jim, the Evans and other 'family.' Turning back to Liz, he smiled at her, awed that this was finally happening and wondering just how he could have gotten so lucky to have this woman standing by his side for the rest of his life.
“Before we say any more about the love between Michael and Elizabeth, it is important to first recognize and honor from where this love derives...” the minister continued, addressing the gathered attendees.
Michael's heart fluttered when he saw his own awe and joy shining back at him as the minister continued the ceremony, taking the time to honor their parents and the love that they had bestowed on their children, building the foundations for them to find love themselves. A part of him hurt, knowing he never had that foundation in his so-called home, but what he lacked in parental love, had been made up with the love of the people he now considered his siblings – Max, Isabel and later, Tess, his sister in truth. Shaking his head mentally, he looked up when he felt soft hands squeeze his and met Liz's eyes, smiling shakily when she gave him a gentle smile, knowing exactly what was going through his mind without having said a word.
She always seemed to know exactly what he was thinking without him ever saying a word.
Swallowing thickly, he averted his stinging eyes and met Jim's over his shoulder and smiled weakly at his knowing glance. Well he took part of that back, he did have a bit of parental love and acceptance in his teenage years, when he married Amy and took Michael under his wing since he was then dating his new step-daughter. The guidance this man had provided a sullen, defensive boy was invaluable and he was thankful every day for Jim's interference. If it weren't for him, he might not be standing here now.
Nodding to Jim silently, he turned back and grinned into sparkling chocolate eyes, just barely holding himself back from kissing those curved lips.
“So what do we mean by love?” the minister queried, leaving the words to dangle in the air for a moment for the congregation's contemplation before continuing. “When we love, we see things that others do not see. We see beneath the surface, to the inner beauty, the qualities that make our beloved special, unique. We cherish and take joy in...”
And then there was her.
When she had first crash-landed into his world, he had been resentful, certain that this girl would ruin the only bit of stability in his life, when Max healed her and exposed them to the world. His pseudo brother's obsession with her made him leery and he honestly couldn't imagine what Max had been thinking. And then he had read her journal, and all of a sudden it became readily apparent why Max thought she was worthy of saving. The words he'd found between those pages made him ache, filling him with wonder that someone could know their secret and still look at them with trust, wonder and love.
He couldn't help feeling a bit envious of Max then.
That grudging admiration and respect grew as she saved them, protected them fiercely time and again, never once breathing a word of their secret (well other than to Maria and Alex, but they were worth the trust she placed in them), even when Jim was hounding her at every turn that first year. And finally a true friendship bloomed between them when he began dating Maria, and cemented by her close friendship with his sister, Tess.
He could safely say he had never looked on her as anything more than a friend until long after she broke up with Max and Maria had left to pursue her own dreams. And that had been discovered quite by accident when he had accidentally walked in on her showering at his and Tess' apartment. He had no idea how long he had stood there, utterly dumbstruck, but it was a good thing his sister had come by and startled him out of his trance, otherwise that moment would have been much more embarrassing than it already was with Tess teasing him at every opportunity.
Although, he had to admit that he was thankful to this day, as he would have never known what he'd nearly missed out on due to his oblivion.
“And so as Elizabeth and Michael's friends and family, we are here to share with them this joy and hope.” The minister's words broke into his thoughts again, making him smile sheepishly at his bride who just shook her head at his lack of attention. But he couldn't help thinking on everything that brought them to this moment. He had never thought he would be standing here. “And to see them off on the path they will walk together...”
Because in classic 'Michael-behavior' as Tess would say, instead of pursuing the brunette like any sane man would have, he avoided her, hesitant to push the boundaries of their friendship and destroying one of the best thing in his life. Liz had seen him at his best and his worst, she'd seen his temper, put up with his flaws and faults, and tolerated his impatience, with nothing more than a smile and a well-placed word to put things back into perspective. To lose that... well, he didn't even want to consider it.
And funnily enough, all it took was a night watching her making some damned truffles (plus a few well-placed smacks upside the head by Tess, but he refused to acknowledge those) to burst through his thinly held restraint. Liz and chocolate were a deadly, if extremely delicious and satisfying, combination. Smirking at that thought, he caught Liz's inquisitive gaze and shook his head silently, hoping to head her off, but that never stopped Liz when she wanted to know something.
“What has you grinning like the cat that got into the cream?” she whispered.
“Chocolate,” he replied cryptically.
“What...ohhh...” she replied, her cheeks flushing hotly as it clicked, making Maria snicker and Kyle choke inaudibly.
“Who holds the rings?” The minister asked, cutting into their banter with a small smile, startling Liz and making her flush deepen as the congregation laughed softly.
“I do,” Max spoke up, bringing the heat off him and Liz as he handed the matching wedding bands
over to the minister for blessing and pushing the ceremony forward.
“These rings, a symbol of everlasting love, a perfect circle of continuity,” the minster continued, placing the rings on the Bible he was holding in front of him as he began the blessing. “Will be worn by Elizabeth and Michael for the entirety of their lives, expressing their absolute devotion and fidelity to one another.”
Smiling down on Liz, he figured that it was best that he focus on the rest of the ceremony as it was getting close to the exchange of rings and vows. He had the rest of his life to reflect on how lucky he had gotten when Liz Parker, soon to be Guerin, entered his bleak, dark existence, bringing a ray of light and forcing him to truly live.
“Michael, please place this ring on Elizabeth's finger,” the minister prompted, cuing him to the words that were the first link in binding his and Liz's lives. “Elizabeth and Michael have chosen to write and recite their own vows.”
Taking a deep breath, Michael took the ring from the minister, and slid it half onto Liz's hand, his fingers trembling as he met bright eyes and began to speak from the heart, without any script as he had found it difficult to write them down.
“Liz, I have never been good with words, and I have never been one to express my feelings easily, but the day you entered my life, was the day my life truly began. I had spent my entire youth doubting the concept of love, thinking it to be a pretty lie someone told themselves to justify their actions, but you...you have taught me the true meaning of love with every word, every action and every thought. To say I am blessed to know you and to be the one standing with you today, is an understatement. You have brought so much light to my life, that I have forgotten the meaning of darkness.”
Swallowing thickly, he cleared his throat, oblivious to the tears that were shining not only in his bride’s eyes, but those closest to them, as his were too full of his own.
“I, Michael, take you, Elizabeth, to be my friend, my lover, the mother of my children and my wife. I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health. In times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity.”
Sliding the ring onto Liz's finger, he inhaled deeply and pulled her hand to his lips, placing a small kiss on the ring and gave her a watery smile when her breath hitched, and met glittering eyes, gently wiping away a tear that had escaped the corner of Liz's eye. Staring at her for several breathless minutes, he could only wonder how he had gotten so lucky and promised himself that she would never regret binding her life to his.
“Elizabeth, please place this ring on Michael's finger,” the minister prompted gently, obviously reluctant to break into their moment, but needing to continue the ceremony.
Liz laughed breathlessly and took the proffered ring, sliding it halfway onto Michael's finger, even as she was wiping at the tears that began to fall.
“Michael, when I first met you, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical to say the least, and I thought Maria was completely nuts for dating you,” Liz began, eliciting several appreciative chuckles from the guests and their attendants, and drew a wry grin from him.
“That was, of course, before I got to know you,” she continued with a grin that grew a bit watery around the edges. “And what I found, when you finally lowered your walls, no price can be attached to it. Behind those defensive shields, lays a heart so pure and golden, that it literally takes my breath away. I feel so beloved, protected and wanted when I am with you, and I can only hope that I make you feel as equally cherished. You have come to mean so much to me, first as a friend, then as a lover and now as so much. You bring meaning to my life and I couldn't imagine it without you.”
Clearing her throat, she met his eyes, hers star-bright as she recited the rest of her vows, sliding the ring fully onto his finger as she did so.
“I, Elizabeth, take you, Michael, to be my friend, my lover, the father of my children and my husband. I will be yours in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health. In times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you, for all eternity.”
Repeating his earlier gesture, Liz lifted his hand and placed a kiss on the ring and then gave a watery laugh as Tess handed her a handkerchief.
“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other; now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other...” the minister recited, beginning the ending blessing as he and Liz just stared at each other, his stomach fluttering in anticipation as the ceremony came to a close, and excitement and joy burst through his chest in a messy tangle as Liz giggled, fidgeting impatiently for the end.
“Elizabeth and Michael, remember to treat both yourself, and each other, with respect every day, and take time each day to remind yourselves of the love that brought you together,” the minister reminded them, smiling at their bright, happy grins as he finished his closing remarks. “In as much as you have consented together in this ceremony to live in wedlock, and have sealed your vows in the presence of this company and by the giving of these rings, it gives me great pleasure to pronounce that you are now husband and wife. You may kiss to seal your bond.”
Michael turned to Liz, taking her gently into his arms, and leant down, pressing a soft, sweet kiss to her mouth as their friends and family cheered in the background. Pulling away, he leaned his brow to hers, his smile turning into a smirk as he whispered for her ears only, “We'll save the real kiss for much later.”
Or, so he thought, until the congregation laughed and Kyle and Alex wolf-whistled and he belatedly remembered the microphone standing not more than a few inches from him. Cheeks heating, he gave a low chuckle and shrugged, pulling away and facing their gathered family when the minister called for quiet and chuckling lightly, announced –
“I present to you, for the first time, Mrs. Elizabeth and Mr. Michael Guerin.” You will be his.
You will be his!
~ Dusty Springfield