author's note: this is shameless self-indulgence. that is all.
[two turtle doves]
by Tenshi no Korin
GRRRNN GRRRRNN GRRRNNN CLANGCLANGCLANGCLANG GRRRRRN GRRRRNNN
"Loose flange cap in the motivator housing." Jesiah B. Black said, after a moment's consideration.
The chest cage of the melef popped open, and Miguel frowned doubtfully down. "You sure? I'm up against Maxwell in the tournament next month, and if he creams me I'll never hear the end of it."
"Keep your armor on, I'm looking." Jessie stuck his head in the back access hatch of the melef, and hmmed thoughtfully. "Yep. Thought so. Hop down here and hand me one of those circuit converters, willya?" He squinted at the booted ankles that had appeared on the platform, and stuck out a hand. "Oh, good. It's one of the green jiggers, got a hookey thing on one end."
"I need to speak with you," said a voice that was most assuredly not Miguel.
Jessie slithered out on his back and gave a quick assessment of the owner of the ankles. "Oh, it's you." He sniffed. "I don't suppose you could hand me that circuit converter, could you?"
"I haven't the slightest what that is," Grissom huffed, looking like he most devoutly wished to be elsewhere. "And besides, I need to have words with you."
"So have ‘em," Jessie said, hanging upside down as he fussed with a particularly obstinate bolt. "I ain't usin' ‘em anyway."
Grissom scowled. "Look I realize you detest me but this is serious. Do you think you could at least stand up?"
Jessie shot him a look that was full of intense skepticism, even inverted and with his hair sticking up. "Spill it, Stiff. I'm too busy to listen to one of your flowery speeches." He disappeared back into the melef. "Miguel! Where's that circuit converter?"
"I've come to ask your permission to marry William."
There was a moment of silence from inside the mech, and Jessie slowly stuck his head out again. "You what?"
Grissom appeared to be suffering from intense stomach pain. "I have come," he repeated, through clenched teeth, "To ask your permission to marry William."
Jessie clambered out onto the access platform. "Billy Lee? You're asking permission to marry my kid?"
Grissom let out his breath, impatient. "Look, I hate this as much as you do but I was brought up to respect decorum and by Iocus that means asking permission before I marry your son so can we have your blessing or not?"
Jessie did the only thing possible in such a predicament. He burst into laughter. He chuckled, he guffawed, he downright chortled until he had to hold onto Grissom's shoulder for support, while the priest looked as quietly mortified as only an acutely self aware Knight of the Rose can possibly look.
"Whenever you're through," he snapped, as Jessie wiped his eyes on his sleeve. "I'd like an answer. We've got invitations to send out, to say nothing of the caterers. I would appreciate it if we could get this little formality over with, thank you."
Jessie's eyes narrowed, sharp and blue in his tanned face. "Seems like you're going to do what you like no matter what I say."
Grissom narrowed his eyes right back, and for a moment, in their steely expressions, they looked a great deal alike. "You, sir, are the father of the man I love and therefore I would like your blessing before we wed. However," and his crimson boots went toe to toe with Jessie's scuffed ones, "I have been through death and hell and back for love of William and your say or no, I'd bloody well like to see you try to keep me from marrying him."
Jessie raised pale eyebrows. "Really?" he said softly. "Well, I'll say that sounds a bit like a challenge."
"It is only the truth." Grissom held out his hands, entreating. "Jesiah, William loves you, though he may not say it. It would mean a lot to him."
Jessie shook his head. "Thought you two were gonna live in sin like the rest of us heathens."
Grissom looked shocked. "Certainly not!" he tossed his hair. "Although I'm not surprised you would think so."
Jessie grinned. "Hey, I married his mama." He sighed, and considered the ceiling of the gear hangar. "How old are you anyway?"
Grissom cocked his head, not expecting such a question. "I have a score or so of years in me." He paused at Jessie's blank look. "Thirty two," he elaborated.
Jessie made a noise not unlike the one he used while assessing gears. "Well, at least you aren't older than me... barely. All right. All right." He waved his hand. "Go on, marry him if you want, he seems happy enough."
Grissom bowed, albeit a little stiffly. "Thank you, Sir."
"Yeah, yeah." Jessie was climbing back in Miguel's melef. "I expect grandkids, dammit. And it ain't my problem to figure out how you're gonna come up with ‘em."
Grissom's cheeks tinged faintly with blood. "Yes, well. That can be considered later. In any case, I'll tell Myhn to expect you in a few hours."
"Myhn?" Jessie puzzled. "That's that OC doll maker, isn't it? Tseng's mom? Why would she be expecting me?"
Grissom blinked. "Well, we have to get you fitted, naturally." Grissom gave a long look of disdain to the smear of gear-grease down Jessie's front. "Or did you plan to wear that in the ceremony?"
"Ceremony?!" Jessie spluttered.
"You gave your word, Jesiah," Grissom sang, looking insufferably smug as he strolled out of the gear hangar. "No going back."
Jessie stared after him for a moment, and then attacked the interior of Miguel's gear with a vengeance. "I'm gonna regret this," he muttered. "I just know I'm gonna regret this."
"Well?" Billy Lee vaulted up over the common room couch, scattering a small herd of bunnies, their ears tied up with tinsel. "Well, what did he say?"
Grissom brushed Billy's forehead with his lips, and smiled. "We have his permission, love."
"Pay up," Draco said, and Zax, scowling, dug around in his pockets for gil.
"Last time I make a bet with a wizard."
"What's going on in here?" Grissom asked, once Billy was firmly lodged in his armpit. "What's the tree for?"
"Christmas decorations," Harry explained, lifting the tops off the crates stacked around the common room and peering inside. "I know I saw some lights in here someplace, ugh, whose bunny is this?"
Sydney took a step back from the massive fir tree and considered for a moment, before reaching out with his fingers and snipping one miniscule twig from the perfectly shaped branches. "Right," he said, satisfied. "Let's see about some globes, apprentice."
Draco obligingly got out his wand and started conjuring up faintly glowing baubles, and Harry countered with some floating colored bubbles. Draco, not to be outdone, produced ropes of silk and velvet and within two minutes the decorating had become a fierce competition, and there were live silver snakes with emerald eyes and fluttering golden snitches fighting it out for prime positions in the branches.
"You did ask Dad about getting fitted, right?" Billy sidestepped as a flight of fairies zipped by his head, trailing mistletoe as they went. "For the ceremony?"
Grissom nodded. "I did. And I sent in your requests to Gremio with regards to the cake. Is there anything we've forgotten?"
Billy rummaged in his pocket for the list, and skimmed his finger down it. "Right, that's the food and Zidane said his bunch would do the decorations, and Irvine's managing the bar and the music--"
"Who's doing the music, love?" Grissom asked, brushing away some of the sparkling snow that had stared to drift from the ceiling. The decoration war was getting worse.
"Weiß." Billy checked something on his list. "I figured karaoke was a bad idea."
"Not to intrude on your plans," Sydney said, lolling over the sofa and apparently engrossed with the miniature ballet dancers pirouetting their way to the tree, "but who, exactly, is performing this ceremony?"
Billy and Grissom stared at Sydney. Then they stared at each other.
They didn't even notice the sudden appearance of the troupe of very bad Victorian carolers, whom Harry was trying desperately to stuff back in his wand while Draco unhelpfully howled with laughter on the floor.
"E-7," Remus said, sounding bored.
The red queen obligingly got up, walked four squares, and bludgeoned the white pawn, sending him rolling off the chessboard. Mathiu blinked. "Bit violent, aren't they?"
"No more than your average war stratagem, my dear Mr. Silverberg." Krelian said, from a particularly squashy leather armchair by the fire. He turned a page in the thick tome he was reading. "Although it takes getting used to, having your pieces walk about."
"I should say so." Mathiu coaxed his bishop into the spot Remus' queen was occupying, and watched as the piece whacked her a good one with his miter. One of the discarded knights gallantly got up to help her off the board.
"You needn't give me such a look," Remus told the queen. "You were happy enough to dish it out."
"Your move," Mathiu prompted.
Remus had just opened his mouth to respond when the library doors burst open, making the fire gutter in the grate.
"Good heavens, Billy Lee." Mathiu stood. "Are you quite all right?"
"Got... to ask you... something," Billy panted, hanging on the ornate brass door handle for support. "Wedding... day after tomorrow. Don't have... anyone to officiate."
"You're kidding." Remus shook his head. "You didn't think of this earlier?"
Billy shot the werewolf an irritated look. "We've been a bit busy, you think? Weddings and holiday fic and God knows what all, we've only just started to get the chapel decorated. Now I know one of you can do it, or you know someone who does, so cough it up."
"I'm afraid I'm not qualified," Krelian stood up and shook out his robes. "And it would no doubt be awkward for you. Did Mr. Wolfwood decline?"
Billy nodded. "Grissom just went to ask him, but he says he's not really a priest, so he can't do it. He just wants out, if you ask me." Billy had caught his breath enough to stand up all the way. "So you think any of you can help us out?" He gestured to the three floors of books in the massive library. "Maybe?"
Krelian closed his book thoughtfully. "Well, go ask the librarian."
"Religious Officials," Giles pushed up his glasses and peered down the list. "Justices of the Peace, Tribal Chiefs, Military commanders--"
Billy lifted his head from the pile of tomes he'd been dozing off in. "What? What was that last one?"
"Military Commanders." Giles double checked the list. "It wouldn't be a religious ceremony, but... Billy Lee?"
But he was already gone, the door swinging crazily behind him.
Billy Lee looked pained. "Squall, it's not like I'm asking you to perform brain surgery. Just say ten words, tell him to kiss me, that's it. We're even doing our own vows, and you've already got a dress uniform."
Squall put down his mug of coffee, looking pained over his laptop. "I said no. Find somebody else, kid. And don't start with me, Zell."
Zell, about to protest, quietly went back to the punching bag in the corner of their room.
Billy put his palms flat on Squall's desk. "There is nobody else. It's you or nothing."
Squall appeared to be fighting off a very bad headache. "I find that hard to believe, in this crowd of people. Now go on, I've got stuff to do." He glanced up, and into the barrel of a pistol, ten inches from his head. "Billy--"
"Either you perform this ceremony," Billy growled, gun unwavering, "Or that scar is gonna look like a sperm, got it?"
"You are not helping," Squall snapped.
"Listen, what's gonna upset your schedule more, three hours in the chapel with us, or the twenty four it's gonna take you to recover from fatality?"
"Sometimes you are just like your father," Squall said darkly, but he had already closed his laptop. "Fine, fine, I'll do it. But only because I'll never hear the end of it if I don't."
"It'd be a real help," Billy said, sweetly.
"Pride?" Quistis asked.
Irvine checked his list. "Uh, in the balcony? You think? I disabled the nul-magic field for the balcony so they'd be conformable, and besides, if they blow it up, it's not the entire chapel."
Quistis made a scribble on her seating chart. "Right. Rose's Squall and Laguna?"
"Hrrm." Irvine chewed at the end of his pencil. "Left-hand side? Near the front? They need good seats... You should see the set of embroidered sheets they sent. Put ‘em next to Sarah's Arslan crew."
"Sounds good. The entire cast of Final fantasy VI?"
Irvine blinked. "ALL of them? Where the hell'd they come from?"
"Aster's," Quistis explained. "And they sent an airship as a wedding present, so put them someplace nice."
"Sweet Jesus." Irvine scowled at his paper. "I haven't got a bunch of seats that close together, Rose's crew is taking up the entire left side of the chapel. Where can we put them?"
"Who's in section 5?"
"Ummmm..." Irvine scanned down his legal pad. "Creed's. Reno and Grissom."
"Would they mind the company?"
"I doubt it." Irvine grinned. "Did you see what they sent? I've never seen so many studs and buckles on so little leather."
Quistis looked aghast. "As a wedding present? Didn't they check the registry?"
"It was ON the registry." Irvine cracked his knuckles. "Full-body rood-shaped chain and leather harness. And don't look so surprised, Quisty."
Quistis looked like she was fighting off a migraine, or a t-rex. "Good god, how did I get roped into doing this?"
"Billy batted his eyelashes at you, same as me. Now move your elbow. I've got to find a place for Thea's VS crew; I really don't want a whole line of Sydneys sitting next to each other."
Billy fumbled one of the pearl toggles on his tunic, and blew at his bangs in frustration. "What do you think?"
"Here, let me." Zidane's fingers deftly fastened the line of pearls, all the way up to the high embroidered collar. "It's easier to have someone else do it if you're tense. Just like backstage. There."
"Thanks." Billy smoothed his hand down the white velvet. "Don't know why I'm all worked up."
Zidane lifted the delicate wreath of mistletoe off the dresser, and brushed at the shimmery leaves. "Hey, it's totally understandable, you know. There's a big crowd out there."
"I know." Billy fidgeted with his sleeve lacings. "I heard Reno bellowing in his headset, something about not handling livestock."
"Yeah, well." Zidane carefully placed the leafy circlet on Billy's head. "I think someone sent you a dragon egg, and it was unwrapping itself early. Kain and Futch went in to take care of it."
Billy looked, for an instant, as if elopement was a solid option. "I don't even know half these people. There's going to be some of me watching me get married, isn't that sort of odd?"
Zidane shrugged, grinning. "Dunno, hardly anybody has a Zidane muse, so I don't run into copies of myself all over. You and Grissom--"
"I know." Billy adjusted his crown of mistletoe leaves, which had been strung with silver berries. "At least we're usually together."
"Oh, yeah." Zidane dug in his pocket. "Almost forgot. "You know the wedding verse, right? The something old something new, thing?"
"I know it. That better not be a garter," Billy said, suspicious. "I already had to chew Zax out for that one."
Zidane laughed. "Nah, nah, nothing like that. But why they gave it to me I dunno, maybe cos the FFX guys aren't here yet." And into Billy's hand he placed a single, sparkling crystal. "Here. Call it a present from the Final Fantasy wing."
Billy blinked down at the stone, which seemed to glow from the inside. "What is it?"
"Something old, Billy Lee. Something old."
"You look fantastic," Zell said, trying to be helpful.
"Shuttup," Squall muttered, tugging at his collar. "These things always make me feel like I'm being strangled, and I'm not sure I like how Rose's Laguna was looking at me." He checked his watch, and glanced back into the cathedral, which Reeve had whipped up just for the occasion. It was usually a small and unassuming chapel, but that wouldn't have fit a fraction of the guests. "What's keeping them? The Turks escorted the last guests though the jump point five minutes ago."
"Sephiroth was patrolling the halls for stragglers, and Vance said the last mechs are in the hangar. They had to tag three different Deathscythes to keep them from getting mixed up. It's what we get for valet parking the gundams." Zell bounced on the heels of his dress boots, and looked down the hall. "Once we get the all clear we go in, and then they'll come in through the honor guard." He frowned. "Where the hell is Irvine?"
"Here, I'm here, we're almost set." Irvine tugged at the hem of his uniform top, and ruffled fingers through his hair. "Grissom's ready to go, I saw him just down the corridor. We should be starting any minute."
As if on cue, Elena turned the corner of the corridor to give them the signal. "Showtime, guys! Go on in, I've got to keep some of the refreshments from eating each other." Elena never looked better than when she was neck deep in chaos. "Wizards, you know. We already had to chase half a platter of truffle bunnies across the ballroom." She paused long enough for a quick admiring glance at the Garden Commander in full dress regalia, and then hurried off, her headset bleeping. "Yes, sir! I'll get right on it."
"Told you you looked good," Zell said.
The cathedral, at first glance, might have been mistaken for a garden, hung as it was with hundreds of roses of deepest crimson, giant blossoms flowering over every surface. Dotted among them were small, tattered-petal sweet william flowers, unassuming and shy. Rose petals drifted down from the high vaulted ceiling in a velvet rain, scattering over the floor like carpet.
The petals Primera scattered down the aisle were white, like snow on the sea of red. There was a hush as the music changed, and then a thunder as everyone got to their feet.
Six arches of crossed steel formed an honor guard over the cathedral doors, as the affianced couple made their way separately up the two main aisles, and met at the front of the cathedral where Squall waited, looking like he performed marriages every day. Grissom was wearing holly leaves on his hair in answer to Billy's crown of mistletoe, and their cloaks made a long train behind them, two swirls of red and white velvet, sparkling with gold embroidery. Squall took a step forward, his black uniform an appealing contrast, and brushed a stray rose petal off his shoulder.
"Friends, peers, noble enemies," he said, as an introduction, voice carrying clearly in the hushed room. "Today we put aside our differences in origin, in experiences, in authors. Today we are here to bear witness to the union of Billy Lee Black and Commander Grissom, two people I think more worthy of a happy union than many who cross the Gates of our world."
Billy was trying not to stare at Squall as he and Grissom stood after the introduction, though it was clear that Billy hadn't expected Squall to be eloquent. It was, after all, hit or miss when you rustled in the wedding party at gunpoint. Zell, from Squall's elbow, gave Billy a wink. He knew his commander better than any of them.
"Who stands as witness for Billy Lee?"
"I do," Jessie said, his hand on a grinning Prim's shoulder. "With my blessing."
Squall nodded. "Who stands as witness for Grissom?"
"I do," Sydney said quietly, from Grissom's right. His smile was faint, bemused, but vaguely flattered. "Odd as that may seem."
Billy blinked. He hadn't asked Grissom who his second was.
Squall acknowledged the witnesses with a nod. "...Know then that this marriage is a rarity in our existence, but as such it is to be all the more treasured." Squall directly avoided looking at Zell, but Irvine was smirking over his shoulder at the martial artist. "An oath, however, is still as binding here as in any of our own realities. As such, they are binding, in honor and faith. Billy Lee, your vows."
Billy seemed to have forgotten the crowd, his eyes on Grissom. And he said:
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
o no! it is an ever-fixed mark
that looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle's compass come:
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
"I love thee with my life." The ring was polished gold, and flashed in his hand as he slid it on Grissom's finger. "So I thee wed."
"William." Grissom reached up to touch Billy's hair, an unrehearsed move, and spoke as if no one were watching, no one at all. And he said:
"When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
and look upon myself, and curse my fate,
wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
featured like him, like him with friends possest,
desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
with what I most enjoy contented least;
yet in these thoughts myself almost despising—
haply I think on thee: and then my state,
like to the Lark at break of day arising
from sullen earth, sings hymns at Heaven's gate;
for thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
that then I scorn to change my state with Kings.
"I love thee with my life." Billy closed his eyes and Grissom placed the ring on his hand. "So I thee wed."
Squall was smiling, but he must not have noticed. "If there be any who protest this marriage, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace." Squall arched an eyebrow. "And might I add that Vincent has his sights targeted on the audience, and any smartass will be promptly disposed of."
There was not a peep from the congregation.
"Good call, Leonhart," Irvine muttered.
Squall didn't bat an eyelash. "God, the best maker of all marriages, combine your hearts in one, your realms in one."
"Like it isn't practically already." Jessie said, under his breath. Sydney arched an eyebrow.
Billy and Grissom were gazing raptly at each other. Squall cleared his throat. "Gentlemen, we could get this over with if you'd oblige us by kissing."
They were more than happy to do so, much to the delight of the audience, as neither one was about to skimp on the wedding kiss. White doves burst for the heavens in soaring flocks, sailing through the roof that had compliantly vanished for the occasion, and the crowd burst into applause.
Irvine had to lean over to hear Jesiah over the crowd, the beating wings, and the swelling music. "Yeah?"
"You, ah, you got some refreshments for this party?"
Irvine grinned. "Yes sir. Galbadian black label. Best there is."
"Good." Jessie nodded. "Because I think I need a stiff drink."
Loreena McKennitt-- Dante's Prayer
Enya-- Only Time
October Project-- One Dream
and Selections from Squaresoft
(original soundtrack available from kekkai records)
Grissom & Billy Lee's wardrobe
with special commissions by Gladrags Wizardwear, London, Paris, Hogsmeade
provided by J. Black, S. Harcourt, and C. Uzuki, of Rose's Mansion
Doves courtesy of Gwynt, of Larathia's Pride
by Gremio with the assistance of the Hogwarts house elves
Cathedral Set Design
Nicholas Ashton, H. Reeve, J. Hardin
Samantha, E. Le Beau, Q. Trepe, and H. Granger
provided by Kitty in the House, 6-12-5 Shigawa, Tokyo, Japan
Lighting and Magic Effects
courtesy R. Majere, P. Majere, D. Malfoy, H. Potter, S. Losstarot, D. the Dark
provided by TURKS, Inc, and ShinRa LTD, Nibleheim
provided by Lord Joshua and the Dragons Den
courtesy Wm. Shakespeare
Muses appear courtesy of their authors, all rights reserved.
Filmed on Location in Balamb, Lea Monde, Nisan, and Soundstage five, Musespace.
This fic made possible with the gracious support of bishink readers.
A bishonenink production in Skywalker Surround Sound.
twelve days of christmas
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