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It’s almost time to go, he has more or less fifteen more minutes to get ready before he has to leave and he still looks nothing like he wanted to.

Marc’s been fiddling with the button on the shirt’s right cuff for at least a minute now, trying to put it in the right place, to get it to hold the material over his wrist properly, but the little plastic isn’t cooperating. It slips from his fingers, turning, not going through the hole. He’s only getting the shirt crumpled, the white fabric getting more and more wrinkles; if it goes on like this, it will be unwearable soon.

“Here.” Alex takes mercy on him, buttoning the cuff, doing the same with the other one right away to avoid seeing his struggle for the second time.

Muttering a quiet thanks, Marc looks back at the mirror, scrutinizing himself. He can’t tell how many hours he spent on choosing the right suit and shirt, trying on billions of them, with laughable results. Nothing seemed right, appropriate for the occasion, every material itching his skin and looking unflattering, colours either too bright or just faded, never the right shade. To make matters worse, the shoes are a bit too small. They were supposed to adjust, to fit his feet snugly, but comfortably, that’s what that lady at the store was saying, but her words don’t find the confirmation in reality.

Having Alex with him, helping him choose the suit, was what kept him from losing sanity. Marc’s gratitude towards him for enduring all of that, giving advice on every piece of clothing Marc tried on patiently, not complaining (too much), is enormous. How Alex made it without murdering anyone (Marc) in the process is beyond him.

They visited probably every shop within fifty kilometres, going from one to another in search of something that didn’t seem to be there. There was nothing that fit his vision of the perfect outfit, not one piece of clothing.

On this day Marc wanted to look flawless. Or as close as he could get to it.

“Is this okay?” Marc questions, tugging on the ends of the black bow-tie. No matter how much he tries to adjust it, untying and then tying again, multiple times, one end is always lower than the other. It gives him a sloppy look, like he doesn’t care where he’s going, something absolutely not acceptable for the occasion. Perhaps he should’ve worn another bow-tie or just go for a regular tie, less problems, but he doesn’t have much time. It’s too late to change it now.

He’s gonna look horrible during the wedding.

It’s not how he imagined it, not at all. This is a disaster waiting to happen, he will be the disaster, he’ll make Dani’s day a disaster. Disaster, disaster, disaster.

Swatting Marc’s hands away from the bow-tie, Alex smooths the material on his shoulders, looks at him from head to toe. “You look really good. Really, you don’t have to worry.” And it’s the truth, Marc looks just as good as he always does. Alex doubts his brother’s ever had even something similar to a bad hair day. It doesn’t look bad even after a race, there must be some sorcery involved. He’s always been a little jealous of Marc’s good looks, him being more handsome and sought after, and even if Marc complained about his short stature, it didn’t change a thing.

Those words don’t manage to ease Marc’s running mind, they’re not a reassurance Alex tried to make them be. Marc’s hair is a mess, his head is a mess and he himself is a mess, too. He’s always cared about his looks, tried to look presentable, find the clothes that flattered his figure (He won’t admit googling ‘what clothes to wear to look taller’, never, not happening.), but today it’s all wrong. He sights, slowly resigning to his fate.

He wonders how Dani will look. Stunning, definitely, like he always does, having taken Marc’s breath away on multiple occasions. But seeing him in a suit is always something different, leaving Marc in awe at how the material clings to his body in all the right places. How he’s unable to avert his gaze when Dani’s dressed in formal clothes. Marc can’t understand the fact that Dani doesn't see himself in that way, having heard more than once the short, disproportionate figure, and he wanted to scream at Dani for the words even leaving his mouth. Why don’t you see how beautiful you are? Why don’t you see yourself like I see you?

The tap on his shoulder brings Marc back to reality, Alex’s concerned face, marred with worry, now his main view. Marc wants to laugh it off, deem it as his brother being overprotective, but the words die in his throat.

Then, he remembers the most important thing.

Marc starts searching through the pockets of his pants, then the jacket, rummaging through them thoroughly and turning them outside. They’re nowhere to be found, not in sight, vanished into thin air where he could’ve sworn he had them not two hours ago. Everything couldn’t get any worse.

“Oh fuck!”

“Marc. Marc, calm down.” Alex’s voice barely reaches his ears, muted by the panic rapidly spreading in his mind. “I have the rings.” Alex takes the small box out of his pocket, opens it to reveal two gold bands. They glisten in the light, one only slightly smaller than the other, the gold reflecting the rays of the sun.

He takes the little box from Alex, holding one of the rings, as relief floods his mind. “Oh, thank God.” For a second, he considers trying one of the bands on, checking how it would fit around his finger, but Marc disregards it quickly.

The what ifs, what would’ve happened if he actually lost the rings, flash through his mind in a flurry of disappointed stares and the vision of getting killed by Dani, most likely with his own bare hands. A long and painful death. Well deserved.

He needs a bit of time to calm down, his racing heart to slow and breathing to go back to its regular rhythm. Alex’s observing him, throwing worried glances, bites on his bottom lips; he isn’t sure if he can let Marc leave like that, the shaking of his shoulders, though now slightly weaker, but still there and his fingers flexing repeatedly. He wasn’t convinced by the idea since the very beginning, the moment Marc told him, but Alex knew better than to voice those thoughts. Marc would do whatever he wanted, regardless of anyone’s opinion.

“Can you really go there? Are you okay?” Alex asks, the pity in his voice not helping at all. Marc doesn’t want it, doesn’t want it from Alex, doesn’t want it from anyone else, never wanted it from anyone. He’d prefer if someone kicked him in the ass and told him to get over it rather than people treating him as if he already got kicked. He hates this.

After taking a deep breath in another futile attempt to calm himself down, Marc responds. “No,” he answers truthfully, the words tasting bitter on his tongue. “But one day I’ll be. I hope, at least.”

Grabbing the little box where the bands are hidden and the car keys, Marc takes the last look at the clock as he closes the door behind himself with a soft thud. He has to leave asap, has just enough time to get to the place punctually, checks if he has everything he needs once again. The soft humming of the engine is his only company as he finally disappears from the driveway onto one of the roads, driving a few kilometres above the speed limit.

I can’t be late to Dani’s and his fiancée's wedding, after all.