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Four Weddings and a Funeral

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One: Thayet and Buri

Buri calls Alanna up on a Thursday afternoon and says, "Are you busy?"

Alanna looks at the pile of papers on the kitchen table that she is failing to grade. "Not really. Why?"

"We're downstairs, we need your help with something. It'll be quick, like, an hour, tops. But probably less."

"Sure. Should I bring anything?"

"Thayet says you should wear a tie."

Alanna steals George's only tie, just to be a brat, and knots it around her neck over the Bayern Munich jersey she's wearing. The jersey has a collar. It's totally fancy. Thayet grins. "Perfect," she says. "You look very handsome."

"You too," says Alanna, surprised. Thayet always looks nice, but she's especially put together today. Even George is checking her out, and he's more immune to her than anyone else she's ever met.

Buri is wearing ripped jeans and an old t-shirt and trying very hard to look bored. "Come on, we don't have all day."

"We do," Thayet says. "In point of fact. We'll be back here in an hour or so," she tells George. "And we'll need shots."

George salutes. "Good luck with your evil schemes, ladies."

It's only a short walk to the courthouse from the Dancing Dove, and Alanna figures it out when they're about a block away. "Oh my god, you guys are getting married."

"Yes," says Thayet.

"We needed a witness," says Buri. "We appreciate your help."

That explains Buri's aggressive casualness; she's never been good at genuine displays of emotion. "I'm flattered," she says. "And I'm texting Jon to get a real party set up at the Dove for after."

"We'd like to survive long enough to enjoy being married."

Alanna pauses. "Fine. I'll text Raoul."

*

Buri sniffles through the ceremony, which is about ten minutes in front of the justice of the peace and then they're done. Alanna may tear up a little too. It's sweet, in a Buri and Thayet way. Getting married at a justice of the peace wouldn't be bad.

She tells George as much after a few shots at the wedding party.

"Oh?" he asks, raising his eyebrows.

"Yeah!" she enthuses, gesturing wildly. "You know, none of that--stuff. All the stupid cakes and planning and dresses. In and out and then you're done and you get to start drinking and having sex."

"I always wanted a real weddin'," he says, and there's something in his tone that sobers her up a little. "Probably because Ma always used to talk about how she didn't have one." He flashes her a grin. "Course, she has now. But I'd want something special. Real ceremony with all my friends there."

"Oh," says Alanna. "I guess that would be okay too."

George ruffles her hair. "If I'm gettin' married, I want to celebrate all of it. I'll even wear the dress, if you don't want to."

"You've got the legs for it," she remarks. "But maybe not the chest."

"Not like yours is anything to write home about either," he teases, and she shoves him.

The next morning, he gives her the ring. "Just a coincidence," he says, too casual, just like Buri at the courthouse. "I was waitin' for the right moment. No rush to get married, just liked it. No big deal if you don't--"

Alanna kisses him and puts the ring on. "It's a nice ring," she says, and he sweeps her up for a much longer kiss.

 

Two: Daine and Numair

Daine calls her and asks her to have dinner, which always means something is up. Daine is not good at subterfuge.

"I know you've been engaged longer than we have," she says, poking her milkshake with her straw. "But--you don't have a date in mind, do you? For your wedding."

"No," says Alanna. She and George have been engaged for a year, but she's not in a rush. "Why?"

"Numair and I were thinking--we wanted to set a date. Early in the fall. But I didn't want to steal your thunder."

"Oh. Don't worry about it. You guys should go for it whenever."

"I just didn't want to--"

Alanna smiles. "Seriously. I don't mind. We're not getting married any time soon."

That makes Daine frown. "Why not?"

"We're not in a hurry," she says, and then frowns. "I'm not, anyway."

"Is George?"

George would marry her any time she wanted. All she has to do is pick a day. He doesn't mind not being married, but he's waiting on her, not the other way around. "No, not really, I don't think." She smiles. "We're fine. You certainly shouldn't hold back on our account. Get married."

"If you're sure," Daine says, like she doesn't quite believe she's getting the whole story.

"I'm sure. I'm looking forward to it."

*

Daine has exactly two requirements for her wedding: it will be non-denominational and it will take place at the park.

"I'd say we had to have the reception here at the Dove," she tells George, "but I don't think he'd try to have it anywhere else."

"Cheers," says George, clinking an empty glass he's cleaning against her beer.

"I don't want to have a religious ceremony either," Numair says. "My mother gave up a traditional Muslim wedding when I was in high school. She probably won't come to the wedding because she's afraid of all my friends, but she likes Daine and she's thrilled I've found someone who's willing to marry me."

"Why is she afraid of us?" Alanna asks. "She's never even met us."

"She googled Jon once."

"Well, that's your own fault for telling her Jon's name," Alanna says, waving her hand. "That's a rookie mistake."

"She's not coming?" Daine asks, frowning. "We can do a traditional wedding if she wants. I don't want to scare your ma away from your own wedding."

Numair kisses her temple. "I was joking. I'm sure she'll come. We should just keep Jon out of the wedding party." He clears his throat. "Actually, we did have some thoughts about the wedding party. Alanna, I was hoping you would be my, well, best man. Not that you should feel you have to be Alan, just--well, I'd like you to stand up with me, and that is the proper name for it. If you'd prefer to be my maid of honor I--"

"I could wear a tux," she says, perking up. She glances at George. "Just me?"

"We had something else in mind for George."

*

"Do you, Numair Salmalin, take your underage girlfriend--"

"George!"

George grins at Numair. "You did ask me to officiate. I don't know what you were expectin'."

"She's twenty-three and we're getting married."

Alanna is pretty sure George will not actually say Numair's underage girlfriend in the real ceremony, but they're just finalizing the vows, and Numair really needs to loosen up.

"I don't mind," Daine interjects. "I'll just make whoever marries you call you Alanna's overage boyfriend."

"Fair enough," says George, winking at her. "Now, Numair, do you take your underage girlfriend to be your underage wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?" he makes a face. "Is that all of them? It feels like there's another."

"Richness and poorness," Alanna supplies.

"Hotness and ugliness," adds Rikash. He's Daine's maid of honor, although he's opted not to wear a dress.

"Right, those," says George, jotting down some notes. "Do you do all of that, Numair."

"All of that."

"Perfect. Numair's underage girlfriend, same question, but in reverse."

"Sure," says Daine.

"And then I pronounce you man and underage wife."

"And then I murder you in your sleep."

"I sleep with Alanna," George points out. "I'd like to see you get past her."

*

The actual ceremony is lovely. It's small and fairly private; Jon and Raoul do not drink at all, and Jon cries the whole time, because Jon has never met a wedding he doesn't cry at. George does not refer to Daine as Numair's underage girlfriend anywhere Numair's mother can hear, and Numair does not have a heart attack and die, even when he sees Onua walking Daine down the aisle for the first time. She does look beautiful.

Alanna's best man speech starts, "The first time Numair told me about his underage girlfriend," and she manages to use the phrase an additional eighteen times before Numair drags her down and everyone toasts. Daine and Rikash fall over each other laughing, and Numair gives her a one-armed hug and tells her, very quietly, that her friendship has meant the world to him.

"Yours too," she says. "I'm very happy for both of you."

"I know." He elbows her. "Are you next?"

Alanna shrugs. "Daine didn't throw a bouquet. So I guess we just don't know."

George gets up and starts, "I didn't meet Numair's underage girlfriend until after Alanna did--" and Alanna isn't convinced she believes in soulmates or true loves or any of that stuff, but if they exist, George is definitely hers.

 

Three: Jon and Raoul

"It's a political move," Jon says.

"Uh huh."

"There are some number of people who are comfortable with me being gay but not living in sin, so we might as well get married. It'll improve my polling. And there are some tax breaks involved."

"Uh huh."

"Also, you know, stuff. You're not buying this at all, are you."

Alanna laughs. "You want to marry Raoul because you love him."

"I want to marry Raoul because I love him," he confirms.

"That's very sweet. And the right reason to get married. Are you going to have George do it? He's already ordained."

"We were thinking we'd have a priest do it. At a church."

Alanna's eyebrows shoot up. "Jonathan Conte, are you having a traditional wedding?"

"Shut up," says Jon. "I'm marrying my awesome boyfriend, and I'm going to have a giant church wedding and feel like a fucking princess, okay? It's my special day."

"So does this mean you're expecting me to wear a dress to this one?"

"Dress or tux," Jon says. "Just, you know, something fancy. You're in the wedding party."

"How big is the wedding party?"

"Did you not hear me?" he asks. "I'm a fucking princess."

*

Alanna, Gary, Thayet, and Jon's douchebag cousin Roger are on Jon's side of the wedding party; George, Cythera, Buri, and Alex are on Raoul's side. Jon does not cry literally the entire week before the wedding, but it's pretty close. Alanna should have predicted this; he's bad enough at other people's weddings, his own was obviously going to be a complete disaster.

"Do you regret stopping drinking at times like this?" Alanna asks Raoul at the rehearsal dinner. Jon is sobbing on George about how beautiful the flower arrangements are, which is kind of sweet, in a dumb, Jon way.

"No, because if I were drunk, I'd be crying," says Raoul. He smiles. "He hasn't even tried to give a speech yet."

Jon gave a very touching speech at Thayet and Buri's wedding reception that only referenced his desire for a foursome three times, which was a lot of restraint for Jon. Parts of it were even sweet. At Daine and Numair's wedding, he got up after Numair shut George up and gave a ten-minute speech, at least part of which, Alanna is sure, was directly quoting from Moby Dick, for no reason she could fathom. Jon loves giving incoherent wedding speeches almost as much as he loves weddings.

"I don't think he'll be able to stop crying long enough."

"Let's hope not," says Raoul. "It would be weird if he gave his own best man speech. I think that's on you, by the way," he adds, slanting a look at her. "Thayet won't be bothered, I don't want to know what Gary would say, and Roger is--"

"Kind of an asshole."

"Kind of."

"I know," says Alanna. "We voted. I'm giving the speech. I'm planning to remind everyone that I slept with him first."

Raoul laughs and hugs her around the shoulders. "I would be disappointed if you didn't."

*

Alanna is starting to think she might actually like weddings.

"You don't say," says George. He's wearing a tux, and that might be the best part of weddings. George looks really good in formal wear.

"I just always thought--" she waves her hand. "They're girl stuff."

"Ah."

"But they're not. They're love stuff. And love is awesome."

"Did Jon smuggle in a flask? I thought he wasn't drinkin' in solidarity."

"I smuggled in a flask. He wouldn't stop crying! I thought his non-existent mascara was going to run. It was the only way. And you know his opinions on drinking alone."

"He'll do it any time, any where?"

"Yeah, but it's a terrible idea so you shouldn't let him."

"You know you gotta give a speech in like ten minutes, right?" He sounds amused.

"If Jon isn't going to give a drunken, rambling best man speech at his wedding, someone's got to. I'd be letting him down if I didn't."

"Course."

She smiles and pecks him on the lips. "I'm fine. Really. I'm just--very emotional. It's Jon. And Raoul. And they're married! They're two of my best friends, and they're all grown up and getting married. And I'm so proud of them."

George laughs and kisses her forehead. "Save some of it for the speech, yeah?"

She holds onto his hand when she gets up, raising her drink. Jon is leaning against Raoul's side, still sniffling. Buri is sniffling on Thayet and pretending she's not. Alanna has to smile. "The first time I met Jon Conte, he was at the school library trying to find the raunchiest sex scene he could to win a bet with Gary. He recruited me to help, because he knew I was in the library all the time. I honestly don't know why I kept talking to him after that, but Raoul married him, so I'm not the only one in the world with really bad judgement."

Jon lets out a long sob and disentangles himself from Raoul to come hug her instead, and he stays there against her side the whole time she's talking. Afterward, he kisses her, just once. It's the first time since they slept together, and it feels like goodbye in a strange way.

"I love you," he says, very seriously.

"I love you too," she says. "Congratulations."

He sniffles, and she finds she's getting a little misty too. Raoul started crying halfway through her toast; clearly it's contagious. "That was awesome. I really liked the passage from Moby Dick about the whale penis."

"Nothing but the best for you two."

He lets her go and she goes back to George, wrapping her arms around him. "You okay?" he asks.

"I'm good, yeah. Did I do okay?"

"You were perfect." He twines his fingers in hers. "You thinkin' you might want this sometime?"

"Yeah," says Alanna. "Sometime for sure."

Jon throws the bouquet directly at her; no one else even tries to get it.

 

Four: Alan Trebond

Jon and Raoul are still on their honeymoon when Thom gets the call.

Dad's sick, he texts her. Very sick. Do you want me to get you a plane ticket?

"It's not a trick question," George tells her when she shows him. "You want to go or you don't."

"I don't," she admits. "Does that make me a bad person?"

"You haven't talked to him in, what, six years?"

"Something like that, yeah."

George shrugs. "I don't think you have to go. Maybe he wants to make peace before he dies, but if you don't need closure, then don't go. It's up to you."

"I don't think I do." She looks down. "I wasn't planning to ever see him again. If he dies, that doesn't really change anything for me."

George leans down and kisses her. "That's okay. You don't have to feel bad. He's an asshole, and he told you to get out of his life. Just cause he's dyin' doesn't mean you have to go back in it."

"I don't even know if he asked for me. Thom just offered."

"He probably didn't want to go alone."

Their father dies before Thom's plane lands, and Alanna's pretty sure she doesn't mistake the relief in Thom's voice when he tells her.

*

"Do you want to go?"

Rikash snorts. "I don't want to go. Thom doesn't want me to go. You couldn't pay me enough to go, honestly. I can think of few things that sound less appealing than attending my boyfriend's homophobic father's funeral. Especially when no one who's going but you knows Thom is gay."

"Well, when you put it like that."

"Why do you ask?"

"George. I didn't think the bar could stand to lose both of you, so I wasn't sure I'd take him."

"You have to take him."

She raises her eyebrows. "Oh?"

"If you don't take him, he's going to be here worrying and driving us all crazy. If you don't take him, I'll go just so I don't have to deal with him. He will be insufferable."

Alanna laughs. "Yeah, okay, fair enough. I'll take George off your hands."

*

"I feel like I shouldn't be here," Alanna admits.

"Well, he's dead, so who cares," says Thom. "I set up the funeral and I invited you. It's out of his hands now. I'm the head of the Trebond family. I'm putting you back into the estate, by the way. I don't want all this stupid money of his. You had to put up with him too, you deserve it."

She glances at George, who gives her a thumbs up. "We never say no to money," she says.

"It's your money too." He looks at George. "And yours. You're family."

It's the first time Thom's ever said it, and from the look on his face, George knows it too. Alanna felt no need to cry over her father, but she feels a lump in her throat now.

"Thanks," says George, throat a little rough. He and Thom shake hands.

"So, are we ready for this?" Thom asks.

Alanna nods. "Time to say goodbye."

*

She doesn't cry at the funeral, but she holds George's hand so tight she's worried about his circulation. If he's bothered, he shows no signs.

It's not that she's sad, exactly. She wasn't going to see her father again regardless. She thinks the world is probably better off with him dead. But she still can't exactly be happy about it.

The three of them get dinner after, and she and George go to their hotel, because she couldn't bear to stay in the house that isn't hers anymore. He doesn't push; he never pushes, not when she's made it clear she doesn't want to talk.

They're most of the way through a Pay-Per-View movie when she finally says, "I'm sorry I'm not ready to get married."

George blinks. "That's what you're thinkin'?"

She shrugs. "You're family. I love you. It's--everyone thinks it's stupid. That I haven't married you yet."

"I don't think it's stupid." He turns on his side to look at her. "I don't get it, but I don't think it's stupid."

"I don't really get it either," she admits. She pushes her hand through her hair. It's getting too long. "It's not like I'm not going to. I'm just not ready."

"I don't mind." She gives him a sharp look, and he smiles. "I don't. Really." He squeezes her hand. "You live with me, you love me, you're not goin' anywhere. I'd like to marry you, but I don't have many complaints about my life, darlin'."

Alanna closes her eyes and leans against his side. "I don't either." She bites her lip. "Once I'm done with school, maybe. Or when we're ready to have kids."

"We're havin' kids?"

"Of course we're having kids. You love kids."

George's smile is blinding. "So, we're gonna get married and have kids?"

"And live happily ever after, obviously. Just don't plan on it being soon."

He kisses her. "I can wait."

 

Five: George and Alanna

"So, we could married."

It's not exactly what she was planning to say. George whips his head up so fast she's worried he'll injure himself. "What?"

"I was thinking we could get married."

"Because you're done with school?"

She bites her lip. "That too." She looks down at her hands, not entirely sure she's ready for this conversation. "Also I'm pregnant?" It somehow comes out like a question, even though she's pretty sure. She took like five pregnancy tests, and she hasn't had her period for a while. That is officially the best part of pregnancy.

George stares. "Pregnant?"

"No birth control is 100% effective, and we have sex a lot, so it makes sense that--"

George surged forward and kisses her hard. "Uh, sorry," he says, pulling back and blushing. "Is this good news for you?"

She laughs. "Yeah, I think so. Kind of terrifying. But good, yeah."

"Pregnant," he says again.

"Yeah. And, you know, I don't care if we have bastards, but I'm done with school and we're having kids, so--that's when I said we'd get married, right?"

George can't stop smiling. "You could sound a little more excited," he teases. "Are you okay?"

"I think so," she says again. "It's--overwhelming." Twenty-eight doesn't sound too young to be a mother, not when she says it like that, but that's when she's thinking about some theoretical twenty-eight-year-old mother who isn't her. "I wasn't really expecting this."

"I'm goin' to try not to be too obnoxiously happy about it," he says, which makes her laugh.

"No, you should be. It helps." She lets out a long breath. "We're going to be parents. And I want to get married before I start to show."

"I think I can handle that."

*

"I guess I'm already ordained," says Jon, frowning at the computer. "It says an account exists with this email address." He glances over his shoulder at Raoul. "When did I get ordained?"

"If you don't know, why would I?"

"You stopped drinking."

"Well, you got ordained before I stopped drinking. Just tell it you forgot your password!"

"That's letting it win!"

"Did I mention I'm pregnant?" Alanna asks. Jon and Raoul stop bickering to stare at her, and she grins. "Right, I definitely didn't. I'm pregnant. Please just tell it you forgot your password so you can marry us and my child will have a father."

"You're pregnant!" says Raoul, picking her up and twirling her around.

"Can we be godparents?" asks Jon. "Do we have to fight Daine and Numair? I bet we could take them."

"I know that's not how I should decide this, but I kind of want to see that," Alanna muses.

"Is that why you're getting married?" asks Raoul. "Because you're pregnant?"

"And I love him and stuff," says Alanna. "But yeah. Pregnant made it feel more pressing." She cocks her head at them. "How did you know you were ready to get married?"

"Didn't I talk through this decision with you?" Jon asks.

"All of your reasons were dumb bullshit."

"Right." He shrugs and looks at Raoul. "At some point, I just got tired of not being married."

She asks Daine the same question, and Daine smiles. "Numair wanted to."

"George wanted to too."

Daine looks at her for a long minute and then says, "Alanna. Everyone who's ever been engaged eventually just decides to get married sometime. Like you decide to move in together or say I love you. You just do it whenever you're ready." She pauses. "Unless there's a reason like taxes or green cards or--"

"A baby?" Alanna suggests, with a wry smile. "When did you get so good at giving advice?"

"When I realized you weren't just being modest and you're actually awful at it," she says. "Congratulations."

She ducks her head. "Thanks."

*

The only thing Alanna takes on on her own is the dress. She helps George with whatever he wants help with, but the wedding is something that matters more to him than to her, and he wants to do most of it himself. "It's goin' to be a surprise," he tells her, grinning. "But I promise you'll like it."

"Jon's officiating," Alanna says. "It's going to be a disaster."

"Raoul got ordained too, just in case. If Jon can't perform his duties because he's drunk or cryin' too hard, Raoul's goin' to tag in."

Alanna laughs. "This is going to be the best wedding ever."

"That's my plan."

Alanna's side of the wedding party is almost entirely male, with the exception of Buri, so she borrows Thayet, Rispah, and Daine from George's side and goes dress shopping. Thom comes too, because he thinks Rikash was a wuss not to wear a dress when he was Daine's maid of honor, and he's going to man up.

"I don't know why you wear violet so much," he remarks, looking through the dresses. She and George have told everyone to wear whatever the hell they want, so it's an excursion for everyone's outfits. Alanna prefers that to a bunch of people watching her trying on wedding dress after wedding dress. "It goes well with our eyes, but it's a nightmare with our hair."

"So wear something else," says Alanna, making a face at a gown. They're all so big. "I look nice in purple. But I think blue or green would look nice on you."

Rispah has an eye for this stuff, as it turns out; she finds the perfect dress for everyone who wants one, minus Alanna, in no time. Thayet's the one who finds the dress for Alanna, finally. It's ivory and simple, no giant skirt, no ruffles, no frippery. She doesn't feel like a princess, exactly, but she feels like herself. Which is even better.

*

The wedding is in the garden at Myles and Eleni's new house. It's small, but still larger than Alanna expected. She'd sort of thought most of the guests would be in the wedding party, but there are all the regulars from the Dove, and Liam and Eda and the rest of the staff at the Shang Dojo, all the various Coopers Myles and Eleni adopted, with Kel and Neal following Beka like lost puppies. Old Solom comes out of retirement to cook. Jon's parents and brother and sister even make it. It's like people really want to see her get married.

"Are you ready?" Myles asks her, smiling.

"As I'll ever be."

"I did want to thank you," he says, sounding a little choked up. "It means a great deal to me, that you would ask me to walk you down the aisle."

"No, no, I should be thanking you," she says, quickly. "You've been like a father to me all the years and I don't--" her voice falters, catches, and maybe Myles isn't the only one who's choking up.

All these people here, for her wedding, because they love her.

"Not at all," he says. "It's been my privilege, Alanna. It is my privilege." He offers her his arm, and they walk out into the sunlight together.

The first thing she sees is Jon, looking as grown-up as she's ever seen him in a suit and tie, behind the podium, sniffling just a little. He is handsome. Probably the most handsome man she's ever met.

And then she sees George, who is tall and a little gangly, with a nose that's too big for his face and hair that never does what he wants it to, and she barely remembers Jon is there. George Cooper has the best smile in the entire world, and she's never seen him looking so happy.

She doesn't know exactly what her face is doing, but he doesn't seem to mind.

His hands are shaking a little when she gets to the stage, so she squeezes them, and he squeezes back.

"I'm saving my really long speech for the reception," Jon says. "Get pumped for that. It's ten pages. Single-spaced, double-sided. I've also made a drinking game you can play while you listen to help you get through it." He sniffles. "I'm going to keep this quick, because I am definitely going to start crying soon. It's an honor that George and Alanna have trusted me to perform their wedding, because I wouldn't have trusted myself in their place. But I love them like family, and I couldn't be happier that I get to be involved in their special day." He clears his throat again, choking back a sob, and Alanna smiles. She can feel Raoul getting ready to tag in behind her. "Yeah, we're going right to the vows. No one minds, right? They wrote their own. I bet they're cute. George, go ahead."

George smooths his thumb over Alanna's hand. "I promise to be there for you for the rest of our lives."

There's a pause, and Jon says, "That's it?"

George shrugs. "That's the most important thing, right?"

Alanna swallows hard. She's not going to cry.

"Okay, Alanna, then. If your vows aren't longer, this is going to be the shortest ceremony ever."

"That's fine," she says. Her voice doesn't quite sound like it's hers. She glances up at George and gives him a wry smile. "I don't remember my vows."

"Yeah, you do," he says.

"They're not as good as yours."

He squeezes her hands again. "Don't get all self-conscious at your weddin', darlin'."

She laughs. "I, um." She abortively tries to push her hair back, but Thayet spent forever on it, and she doesn't want to mess it up. "I don't promise to always agree with you. I don't promise to support you no matter what, because you've made some questionable decisions. I don't promise to never lose my temper, or to always be nice." Jon lets out a loud sob, and George smiles. "But--I promise to talk to you about everything, I promise to work things out when we disagree, and I promise to love you."

And then, just like that, they're married.

Alanna is pregnant, so she doesn't drink at the reception, and George is being supportive, so he doesn't drink. Raoul never drinks anymore, so they sit with the kids and watch as Jon gets increasingly shit-faced and tearful and everyone else plays the drinking game he came up with.

"This is actually very moving," Alanna observes.

"He's good at speeches," says Raoul.

She pokes George in the side. "You're quiet."

He leans down and kisses her. "I'm happy. It's the good kind of quiet."

She snuggles a little closer, looking at the plain, silver band on her finger. "Worth the wait?"

"You know I would've waited forever."

She bites her lip. "Yeah. I do know."

"But I knocked you up," he says gravely, putting his hand on her stomach. "Gotta man up, take responsibility, leave this carefree bachelor lifestyle, get a real job, start bringin' home the bacon, slowly grow to resent you and our child--"

Alanna snorts and elbows him, not hard enough to dislodge him. "That sounds just like you."

"Your own fault for marryin' me. You're stuck with me. This is what you get."

Alanna looks out at their friends, taking drinks as Jon says "crossdressing" for what is, by Alanna's count, the eighth time. Thom is rocking his dress, and Rikash is making a snide comment to him. Well, Alanna assumes. She can't hear them, but 95% of what Rikash says is snide comments. Daine is sitting in Numair's lap, laughing, and Thayet and Buri are by Jon with tissues for his frequent crying breaks. There's Myles and Eleni, Liam and Eda, Marek and Rispah, even Corram and Maude, who took care of her and Thom when they were kids.

And Raoul and George on either side of her, warm and close. And there's the firm, steady feeling of George's hand on her stomach.

She covers her hand with his and squeezes, feeling his ring against her finger. "This is what I get."