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17 Hours

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At seventeen hours before their wedding, Galo and Lio sit in separate rooms. It’s sort of a farce at this point to spend the night before the wedding apart seeing as that’s a tradition leftover from days long past when it was considered inappropriate for couples to live together before marriage, much less be having sex. Galo and Lio already live together. And they’ve certainly already had sex. 

 

Still, they thought it would be cute and fun to keep things a surprise. What does Galo’s suit look like? What color corsage did Lio choose to accent his eyes? Did Galo even remember he’s supposed to wear a suit? Did Lio pick shoes that made him a little taller or is he fine being that much shorter than his husband-to-be? Is Galo going to show up in a nice t-shirt and slacks because he forgot about the tuxedo? Lio is really caught up on the suit thing. He truly doesn’t believe Galo remembered to bring a suit.

 

Seventeen hours before the wedding, Gueira and Meis burst into their rooms - Gueira to Galo’s and Meis to Lio’s - and both shout something about the ring bearer. “He had an accident,” says Meis. “He shit his britches!” says Gueira. Lio screws up his face in disdain as Galo gut laughs and doesn’t answer. Lio has to rise from his seat alone in his hotel room and come downstairs to the lobby, talk to the kid’s mother and fail to understand what the big deal is, really. He’s nine and Galo’s relative. Why isn’t Galo the one down here dealing with it and does it really matter? He didn’t soil his wedding outfit and that’s all Lio cares about. But he only had an accident because apparently he’s sick and now there’s no ring bearer for tomorrow, unless they want to risk it. Lio sighs and rubs his temples. No, he doesn’t want to risk, and what’s more, he can’t be the guy who made a sick nine-year-old participate in a wedding so he tells Galo’s - he’s not sure what she is to Galo, but he doesn’t really have immediate family, so she’s not his sister, even though they keep calling this child his nephew - that she can just go back to her son and let Lio figure this out.

 

He asks Meis if there are any other kids here. Meis already checked and no, there’s not even a teenager. This boy was the only child and Lio rolls his eyes. 

 

“Alright, then our ring bearer will be an adult,” he says. “It’s not a big deal.”

 

“Who will it be?”

 

“Whoever wants to do it,” Lio shrugs. “Whoever isn’t already in the wedding.” That takes out both Gueira and Meis and all of Burning Rescue. Galo decided his half of the wedding was going to be his “coworkers,” since he didn’t have any family to put in it. Lio’s side is just Gueira and Meis because he didn’t have any family he wanted to invite. 

 

“I’m on it, boss,” Meis says. Lio was planning on helping, but Meis dashes off and Lio watches him leave. He blinks once and then goes back to his room.

 

Sixteen hours before the wedding, Lio decides to turn off his phone and go to bed. He’s not getting pulled into another debacle. Galo can handle that.

 

Fifteen hours before the wedding, Galo has his first drink.

 

Gueira is a fun forcer, that’s all there is to it. And Galo isn’t much of a drinker but he’s susceptible to peer pressure if only because he doesn’t realize it’s peer pressure. He can’t see that Gueira is trying to talk him into something he doesn’t particularly want to do until he’s six shots in and there are twelve people in his room. A lot of them are Lio’s friends. Ex-Burnish. So it’s a little awkward at first to try to navigate a room of people who he would’ve arrested two years ago, but the alcohol helps with that. They’re all best friends in about an hour. And Gueira is using Galo’s bed sheet as a cape. He can’t actually fly. But that’s not going to stop him.

 

“Don’t you have to like, I don’t know, get married tomorrow?” Meis asks. He’s always been the more level-headed one but he’s also holding a beer in his hand as he asks it. Galo points at the bottle and he shrugs. “I’m not the one getting married.”

 

“You’re in the wedding.”

 

“So?” Meis asks, taking a sip. “I don’t have to do anything.”

 

Okay, he’s not always level-headed. He’s just more level-headed than Gueira. Or Galo. Which isn’t a good thing.

 

Galo ends up staring at the clock slightly tipsy at two a.m., willing himself to go to sleep without waking up hungover.

 

“It’ll be fine,” Guiera says, handing him a bottle of pills. “Take one of these.”

 

“What is this?”

 

“Vitamin C,” he says. “And then drink a bottle of water.”

 

“If I drink right before bed I’ll wake up and pee all night,” Galo says, taking a vitamin without questioning him further. He swallows it. 

 

“Did you just take that without anything to drink?”

 

“What?”

 

“I said did you just swallow that pill whole with no water?”

 

“Yeah,” Galo says. “What?”

 

“That’s impressive.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Just that you can do it without a drink.”

 

“Are you supposed to use a drink?”

 

Gueira stares at Galo and Galo suddenly feels self-conscious. This is one of those things he was supposed to know already, wasn’t it? Gueira doesn’t say anything else. He just hands Galo a bottle of water and then turns over in the bed. Galo wonders if it’s strange for him to be sharing a bed with two other men the night before his wedding. Especially since neither of the two men are his fiancé. Also, don’t Gueira and Meis have their own room? Just a little bit down the hall? Why do they have to stay here?

 

Ten hours before the wedding, Galo is finally falling asleep.

 

Nine hours before the wedding, he’s waking up. Gueira is throwing up in the bathroom and Meis is rubbing his back. It’s three a.m. The ceremony starts at noon because Galo wanted a break between that and the reception but he also wanted an early reception so the party could last for a long time. He’s cursing his decision now - and Lio for going along with it.

 

Six hours before the wedding, Lio is awake. He’s texting Galo who isn’t answering and it’s starting to worry him. He texts Gueira and Meis, who also don’t answer. It isn’t until he finds Aina in the hotel lobby alone that he discovers they were up partying and he doesn’t know why he’s surprised.

 

“I’ll make sure he’s fine,” Aina says. “Oh, by the way, the florist is going to be late.”

 

“How late?”

 

“Not sure,” she says. “They’ll be here before it starts but it could be cutting it close.”

 

“How close?”

 

“Not sure.”

 

Lio sighs. 

 

“If you see Meis, ask him to text me who the new ring bearer is.”

 

“There’s a new ring bearer?”

 

“The kid got sick last night,” Lio mutters as he turns to go back to his room. “I gotta get ready.”

 

He and Aina have always been a little prickly towards each other. It’s hard not to be when Lio can’t forget that her sister used her unbelievable genius for unbelievable evil. But Aina holds her ground and never bends to him, which Lio can respect. So when she asks if he needs help since Guiera and Meis are passed out in the bathroom in Galo’s room, Lio pauses in surprise.

 

“Sure,” he says. He doesn’t really need help. But he doesn’t know what else to say. And he could probably do with some self-esteem boosting, not that Aina will necessarily do that. 

 

Five and a half hours before the wedding, Lio and Aina are in his room drinking mimosas. She’s in a bathrobe and her dress hangs on the front door. Lio is in a bathrobe, too.

 

“What else?” she’s asking herself, a big grin on her face. Lio isn’t even trying to suppress his. He’s happy. He’s having a good time. “Oh, he asked why we can’t just burn trash.”

 

“What?”

 

“He asked why we can’t just throw trash in like, a heater and burn it for heat. So it gets rid of the trash and gives us warmth.”

 

“A great idea until you throw an aerosol can in there.”

 

“Yeah, Galo doesn’t understand aerosol cans, either,” she says. “I think he almost gave himself frostbite once playing with one of those keyboard cleaner ones. The tip of two of his fingers were blue for like, a month.”

 

“That sounds like Galo.”

 

“Oh!” she shouts. “The best thing he ever said! He thought maybe we could survive the sun exploding if it exploded the other way.”

 

“What?”

 

“If it exploded in the direction away from Earth,” she says. She’s trying to hold back giggles but she can’t. “Maybe we could live through it.”

 

“No,” Lio says. “I’m not marrying a man who said that.”

 

“You sure are. You’re also marrying a man whose idea to stop severe weather was to line everyone in the country up along the border, give everyone a guitar and an amp, and have everyone play, ‘Here I am, rock you like a hurricane’ at once and maybe the vibrations would push the storm back out to sea.”

 

Lio isn’t laughing anymore.

 

“How old was he when he said this?”

 

“Too old,” she chortles. “I mean, it was a while ago at this point, but still. Too old to be saying these things.”

 

“It’s not a bad idea,” Lio shrugs. Aina can’t stop laughing.

 

Four hours before the wedding, Galo is waking up with a dry mouth and a heavy head. It’s not exactly a headache, per se, but he doesn’t feel great. He’s all alone too. He groans when he lifts his upper body up to crane his neck to find his suit. It’s pressed and neat in the open closet and the thought of getting into it is daunting. And not just because he hates wearing clothes. He can’t fathom the idea of doing things today.

 

But then he remembers what he’s doing and the sheer adrenaline that hits him is enough to power his entire body. He sits up and goes to his bag, rummages around for some painkillers and takes them with a sip of water. It is so much easier than doing it dry.

 

His phone is inundated with texts from Lio, each one getting more and more dire - and a little bit angrier. Lio can get an attitude, that’s for sure. He cringes as he realizes Lio knows what he did last night though he isn’t sure who sold him out. He texts back, “I’m awake. Don’t go to the lobby, I’m going to get breakfast.”

 

A few seconds later, Lio texts back a photo of himself and Aina in bathrobes, sipping something orange from champagne glasses.

 

“Hey!” Galo shouts angrily to himself. “At least I drank the night before .”

 

Three and a half hours to the wedding, Galo is sitting in the hotel lobby eating breakfast to try to cure his semi-hangover. He doesn’t feel that bad but it would be nice to be one-hundred percent on the day of his wedding. He’s fine until Lucia approaches him.

 

“Galo,” she whines. “The caterer called and had to cancel.”

 

Galo nearly spits out his food.

 

“What?”

 

“He said he has a friend who can take over but they’ll be late,” she says boredly. “And the menu will have to be changed slightly.”

 

“What are you talking about?” he asks. “They can’t cancel on the day of a wedding.”

 

“Well, they did,” she says. She’s saying something else as Ignis runs up behind her. He stops just a few feet short and Galo stares at him.

 

“The minister is late.”

 

Galo takes a deep breath. Lio is in his room with Aina - since when do they get along? - blissfully unaware of all these problems. Galo whips out his phone to text him.

 

“I can do it,” Ignis says. “I can do the wedding.”

 

“You can?” Lucia asks.

 

“I’m ordained.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell us that when we were looking for someone?” Galo asks. Ignis might be looking away but Galo can’t tell through his sunglasses.

 

“I didn’t really want to do it,” he says honestly. Galo can’t help but laugh.

 

“Why not?”

 

“It felt strange to me.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Lucia interjects. “What do you want me to tell the new caterer?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The menu has to be changed,” she reminds him. “Is that okay?”

 

“I mean, do we have any other choice?”

 

“Nope!” Lucia cackles, turning away and leaving with far too much pep in her step. Ignis takes his leave too and Galo turns back to cold eggs and open phone. He texts Lio, “There’s a new caterer. New menu. Ignis is marrying us now.”

 

“What?” is all Lio texts back. Galo ignores it and finishes his orange juice.

 

Three hours before the wedding, Lio is tipsy. Not to a point that matters, but he definitely feels lighter in his head when he stands up. He’s also been laughing with Aina for about an hour, which isn’t usual. It’s unfortunate that her sister had to be so - whatever - because he’s found he actually likes Aina a lot. She’s fun. And she clearly used to take care of Galo before Lio showed up to do it. He’s grateful to her for that because God knows with the stories she told him, Galo would’ve died without someone watching out for him. If Aina hadn’t told him not to use bleach to clean off cat pee, he might be dead from noxious fume poisoning.

 

“Do you want me to go see what Galo meant?” she’s asking as Lio looks at the suit in his closet. It’s still a little early to get dressed but he kind of wants to make sure he looks okay. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell that Lio is a little self-conscious. 

 

“Sure,” he says. “I’m going to order breakfast to the room. Do you want anything?”

 

“Nah,” she says, waving her hand. “I’ll get something in the lobby. See you soon.”

 

She leaves Lio alone to his thoughts, which are currently swimming around the fact that he has to wear a suit. It’s not that he has low self-esteem or anything, but he remembers how small he is when he’s next to big people and Galo may not be as huge as some, but he’s definitely bigger than Lio. It’s not that he cares about it physically. It’s just that he’s always felt so small. Like the insignificant kind of small. Things changed after the Promare disappeared but he’s found that without his Burnish label, he only feels worse some days.

 

It was what he had. He was Burnish and he was proud of it. But he reminds himself he achieved his goal. Maybe the Burnish don’t exist anymore, but he destroyed Kray Foresight too. It doesn’t matter. He shouldn’t be thinking like this right now. He has a really important event coming up. And actually, remembering that makes him feel a little warmer, especially in his chest. He may be small, but when he’s around Galo, he does feel a lot bigger.

 

Two hours before the wedding, the first storm cloud rolls by. 

 

Galo is at the ceremony venue. He’s talking to Ignis about where to stand and what to do. He and Lio are coming in separately but alone. They’re leaving together, just the two of them, and the wedding parties are staying where they are until they get into the car. The car is taking them back to the hotel and they’re taking a nap before the party. Reception, he means. Ignis nods in understanding the whole time. Galo feels secure enough - Ignis is no idiot - but he’s a little stressed. Everything is apparently being taken care of, but the fact that things need to be taken care of is -

 

“Was that thunder?” Ignis asks.

 

Galo looks at the window. A bolt of lightning streaks across the sky.

 

“Isn’t the reception outside?”

 

Galo takes a deep breath. The sound of heavy rainfall hits the roof and he tips his head upwards. It’s not like they didn’t plan for bad weather but Galo knows setting up tarps is going to be a hassle. Plus, if it’s as bad as it sounds, tarps will be no match for it. It sounds like a firehose. 

 

“This is turning into a disaster,” Galo says. “Almost like some higher power doesn’t want us to get married.”

 

Ignis steps forward and puts a gentle hand on Galo’s shoulder. He turns slightly in surprise and casts his eyes back towards his boss.

 

“It seems that way,” he says, “but I can’t imagine a better partner for you.” Galo is sort of shocked. Ignis rarely speaks like that. He has, on occasion, warmed up and told Galo he was proud of him. So it’s not completely out of character, but Galo wasn’t expecting it right now. “I watched you two figure each other out. What happens today is irrelevant. You two found each other and that’s all that matters.”

 

Two hours before the wedding, Galo is crying in Ignis’ reluctant arms like a baby.

 

One and a half hours before the wedding, Lio is sitting on the edge of his bed in the hotel room, still alone, still pondering what it means to be alive. What a terrible time to feel existential. But it’s foreign to Lio, the concept of simply letting things roll off his shoulder. That sort of thing comes so easily to Galo, but too much of LIo’s life has been a matter of life or death for him not to overthink every single thing that happens. 

 

He always worried that if he ever got married, he’d disappoint his spouse. He’s sort of who he is and it doesn’t change. He isn’t different when you get to know him. At least, he doesn’t think so. He worries it isn’t enough for Galo, though he isn’t sure why. Galo doesn’t have the capacity to care about that. Galo loves very openly. If he didn’t love Lio, Lio would know. And he definitely loves Lio.

 

In fact, the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes Galo is exactly the person he needs. He loves him and that’s all there is to it. There’s no but - no however - no except. He just loves him. It’s that simple.

 

One and a half hours before the wedding, Lio is crying in his hotel room alone like a baby.

 

One hour before the wedding, they’re both in their wedding day attire. Nice black suits and ties, Galo’s wide-shouldered like him and Lio’s a little flared and fancy, just like the outfit he wore the first day he met Galo. One hour before the wedding, they’re standing alone in their own hotel rooms, staring at the mirror as a storm rages outside. Their phones go off. Tornado warning. A funnel cloud was spotted a half a mile away and everyone is urged to seek shelter. One hour before the wedding, a hotel worker is knocking on their separate doors, telling them to come to the hotel’s basement. They both nod in understanding but need a few more minutes on their own.

 

One hour before the wedding, the wedding is canceled. 

 

Aina grabs some grass and a maid steals some of the carnations from just outside the lobby to make a little bouquet. Remi is helping the sick ring bearer down to the basement and Varys ushers people towards folding chairs. Gueira and Meis loudly argue while fumbling with the speaker which barely fills the room with whatever’s on Gueira’s phone. It’s something dubstep and the bass drops every two minutes. Lio isn’t surprised that he’s walking down a makeshift aisle to some techno song from twenty years ago. He’s a little surprised that Galo doesn’t start breakdancing when he follows suit, though. Ignis doesn’t really need to do much, he has a booming voice without a microphone. Lucia is the one who pops up at their sides with the rings. It’s fitting, Galo says, because she’s tiny, like a child. She steps on his foot and he yelps in pain just before saying his vows.

 

They get married right on time. It’s the one thing that goes according to plan.