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As soon as Timmy saw the woman barreling up the steps of the State House hollering "Strachey," he stepped in front of Donald and put up his hands. "Yes, yes, before you start, I know. He's an asshole. But he's my asshole and today is our wedding day, so I'd really appreciate if you could hold off on slugging him for now. I'd prefer he didn't have a black eye in our wedding photos."

Donald tried to step out from behind Timmy, but Timmy blocked his attempt. "Timmy."

Timmy continued to stand between Donald and the woman, the palm of his hand flat against Donald's stomach but his eyes watched the woman carefully. "No Donald. I probably shouldn't mention that it's not really your fault that you caught her cheating on her husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, whichever. I can understand why she's upset, but that doesn't mean she has to ruin our big day."

Donald stepped forward, sliding his hands around Timmy's waist and hooking his chin on his shoulder. "Sweetheart."

Timmy turned around and cupped Donald's cheek in his hand. "I just want everything to be perfect. Is it too much to ask for your beautiful face to go unmarred for one day?"

Donald turned his head into the palm of Timmy's hand and kissed it. "Timothy. This is Lisa. She's the photographer I told you about."

"Oh." Timmy turned to Lisa and narrowed his eyes like he still didn't quite believe it. "So you're not here to slap Donald around?"

Lisa shook her head. "No, not today anyway."

Timmy's expression turned mortified as extended his hand to Lisa. "I am so sorry."

Lisa took Timmy's hand in both of hers, patting it. "No problem. With this one," she motioned to Donald with her head. "It's an easy mistake to make."

Donald smiled at that. "Thanks for coming. Here's the map and directions to the site."

Lisa took the directions from Donald's hand. "Glad to do it. I brought Joyce with me in case you want video as well." She turned her attention to Timmy. "And I promise she won't hit him either. Hit on him, maybe."

Timmy looked scandalized. "On our wedding day?"

Both Donald and Lisa laughed. Donald took Timmy's hand in his. "She's contrary like that. Video would be great Lisa. Thank Joyce for me. That way Timmy's mother won't be added to the list of women who want to hit me."

"Okay then. We'll head on up there and set up. See you in a couple of hours."

After Lisa left, Timmy turned and looked at Donald. "We're really doing this, aren't we?"

The awe in Timmy's voice made Donald chuckle. He let his hand cup around the back of Timmy's neck. "Yes, sweetheart, we are. The limo's waiting for us."

The smile that Timmy gave him was so bright and full of love, he almost tripped down the stairs.

"What did I say about keeping you unmarred today," Timmy said, steadying him.

Donald took Timmy's hand in his. "What can I say, honey. You've always made me a little weak in the knees."

Timmy flushed at that like he always did when Donald made such declarations. Donald knew that it wasn't as if Timmy didn't know Donald loved him beyond measure. It was just that hearing it out loud infused him with such joy that he couldn't keep it contained. Donald had vowed long ago to make sure he continued to remind Timmy just how much he adored him. "Yes well... Let's at least try and be careful, shall we."

~*~*~*~*~

The fall foliage was in full bloom for the drive up to Vermont, not that Donald was really taking in the view. His attention was focused on Timmy who seemed to be fidgeting more than normal in his excitement. Donald was surprised at how calm he felt. He was excited but it was like something had clicked into perfect place.

They had technically made it all legal years ago with power of attorneys and medical proxies. Soon after they had moved in together, Donald got hurt on a case. He ended up unconscious in the hospital for three days. And during that time, no one would let Timmy see him. And when he woke up and asked for Timmy and Timmy rushed into the room, Donald was quite sure his lover looked worse than he did. He hadn't shaved and from the look of him, he hadn't slept at all either. He kept touching Donald's face as if to make sure he was really all right. He couldn't imagine how horrible it must have been for Timmy to have to sit there with no news, wondering if Donald was going to make it. It would have killed him if the roles were reversed. So while he couldn't promise never to get hurt, he made damn sure that Timmy would have access to him if and when it did happen again.

So this trip to Vermont wasn't about legality, it was about ritual. Their union wouldn't be recognized in New York, but Donald found he didn't care about that either. He just wanted to stand before a Justice of the Peace and promise to love Timmy forever. He wanted to say the words, and he wanted to slip a ring onto Timmy's finger and have Timmy slip one onto his. He wanted the weight of that ring to be a constant, steadfast reminder of what he had waiting for him at home. Sometimes, many times, he let himself get bogged down by the bleakness of one case or another. He couldn't count the number of times Timmy had saved him from himself, how many times Timmy reminded him that yes, there was a lot of darkness in the world, but there was also light and joy and love.

So much love.

Most people wouldn't peg him as a romantic and he couldn't say they were wrong. But from the moment they met, Timmy brought that out in him, just like he brought out the idealist and the do-gooder. Timmy made him want to be a better person and Donald knew that having the other man in his life did just that. Timmy gave him a focus and a purpose that he'd never had before. And Donald hoped that he provided Timmy with just a little of the same. From the way Timmy was looking at him as the limo pulled into the Inn, Donald was pretty sure he did. He took Timmy's hand and squeezed. "Let's go get hitched, sweetheart."

The sun was just setting on the horizon as they stood in front of the Officiant, the mountains a brilliant blaze of red, orange and gold leaves behind them. When Donald took Timmy's hands in his, he'd never felt more in love than he did in that moment. He looked into Timmy's eyes and smiled.

"Timothy, you know I'm not a man of words. That's your forte not mine, but for you I'm going to try." Donald reached up with one hand and stroked his thumb across Timmy's chin before taking Timmy's hand in his once more. He knew his eyes were bright and he had to swallow hard to continue.

"If I have any joy in my life it's because of you. I want to grow old with you. I want to wake up next to you each morning and go to sleep beside you every night. You are my partner and my best friend. I know I don't deserve you, but I promise to love and cherish you for as long as you'll have me."

Timmy brought Donald's hands up to his face and kissed them both. Taking off his glasses, he wiped his eyes before settling the glasses back in place. He took Donald's hands in his once more. "Donald... My sweet Donald. You were unexpected. You barreled your way into my life, quite literally." They both laughed at that. "But I thank God every day for bringing you to me because my life is so much richer with you in it." Timmy leaned in to kiss Donald's temple. "You are not easy."

Donald raised an eyebrow at that declaration and they both grinned sillily at each other.

"You challenge me and I need that. I'm stronger because I have you by my side. You are the love of my life. You are my partner and my best friend and my greatest desire is to grow old with you and take care of you for all the rest of our days."

Donald was quite sure he'd never smiled as wide as he was doing at that moment.

The Officiant looked from Donald to Timmy and brought forth his Bible with their rings on top of it. "Now that you have pledged your love for one another, it is time for the exchanging of rings."

Donald picked up Timmy's ring and slid it onto Timmy's finger. He hoped he could remember the verse they had picked out. One look at his ring on Timmy's hand brought it right back to him. He rubbed his thumb across the ring on Timmy's finger and looked up into Timmy's eyes, which were brimming with love. "Timothy, I give you this ring as a symbol of our love. With it I wed you, and give you my body, soul, and heart."

Timmy picked up Donald's ring and slid it on his finger. He brought Donald's hand to his mouth and kissed the ring. "Donald, I give you this ring as a symbol of our love. With it I wed you, and give you my body, soul, and heart."

Donald's pretty sure the Officiant said something more at that point, but he'd have to check the video to be sure because Timmy was in his arms and they were kissing, and laughing and crying and hugging each other so tight that the world had narrowed down to just the two of them.

And really, he wasn't surprised at all by that. It's been that way since the day they met.

—FIN—