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Banners by the lovely and talented wallflower, of course!

Best Man

When they ask him, he says yes, of course. G may be socially inept, but even he knows it’s an honor to be asked.

He shows up on the appointed day, wearing jeans and boots but also his nicest button-down shirt, neatly pressed. He drew the line at wearing a tie, though, mostly because he doesn’t own one.

He could have borrowed a more formal outfit—tie and all—from OSP, but they’re trying to keep this on the down low. Neither agency is happy about their operatives entering into a relationship while on a case, which is one reason this wedding is so hasty. They want to get hitched before the agencies take steps to separate them.

The other reason is that they’re both so in love they can’t see straight.

Everyone in the room can sense it—the happiness pouring off them in waves. Even the justice of the peace is smiling, and that guy presides over hundreds of weddings every year, which is enough to make anyone cynical.

But this is real thing.

Hearts and flowers.

True love.

G tells himself he’s happy for Sam. And he is. Sam is the best man G knows, and he deserves to be head over heels in love and have someone head over heels in love with him.

Plus, Sam was built for this. Built for marriage and family and commitment and the long haul—all those things that G can’t even imagine having in his life.

And Quinn? Well, she kicks ass. G can relax, knowing that she’s got Sam’s back. That she’ll be there for him, no matter what.

Hell, she took a bullet for him. She’s still wearing the cast and sling over her prim ivory dress, while Sam’s sporting several bruises under his crisp white shirt and navy suit.

The op went south during the final weapons buy. G’s heart stopped when he heard the shots over the com.

He should have known not to worry.

The first thing he saw when he burst through the door were the buyer’s thugs dead, neat bullet holes in their foreheads, and Sam kneeling on the floor, cradling Quinn’s body in his arms and begging her to live.

G drags his mind back to the present and tries to focus on what the JP is saying. It’s not easy—the only times G’s been in the presence of a judge were during sentencing. His palms started sweating the minute he walked in the building.

G tightens his grip on the ring box in his hand. He’s got one job to do, once chance to get this right. Fortunately, when Sam gives him the nod, he’s able to step forward and hand him the box. His hands are shaking, but then, so are Sam’s.

His heart breaks a little when Sam slides the ring on Quinn’s finger.

The rest of the short ceremony is a blur. G snaps pictures with his phone, signs the register, and escorts the happy couple to their car. He’d put a “Just Married” sign on the back, because he knows that’s the sort of thing a best man is supposed to do. But he didn’t tie any cans to the bumper because Quinn threatened to shoot him if he did, and he believes her.

The car drives off, Sam honking the horn. Quinn blows G kisses, then tosses him her bouquet. It was her one extravagance for the ceremony—two hundred dollars worth of stunning white magnolias. She said the scent reminded her of her grandmother. She wore a single blossom in her hair, too, like Lady Day.

G fingers the glossy green leaves and takes a cautious sniff, but the heady fragrance holds no memories for him.

He gives the bouquet to a couple waiting in line to be married. The bride is a Goth girl wearing a black velvet dress and spike-heeled boots. She’s carrying a clutch of dead roses, which G figures is supposed to be ironic. But she drops them immediately when G offers her the magnolias, crushing the fresh flowers to her breast. Tears flow from her eyes, streaking her heavy black eyeliner down her chalk-white face.

Her groom, a skinny hipster kid wearing jeans, a cardigan, and a narrow knitted tie (vintage), looks stunned at her unexpected display of emotion. G gives him a hearty clap on the back.

“Good luck,” he says cheerfully, then goes home and gets blind drunk.

He’s crashing in Santa Monica this month. The place is a dump, but if G opens the windows at night, he can hear the faint crash of surf on the shore, while colored lights from the carnival rides at the pier play across the darkened ceiling.

He’s watching them now, hours later, while sprawled out on the floor. He thinks about where Sam is now. G had laid a false trail, in case anyone from the agencies decided to tail Sam or Quinn. He’d planned the perfect honeymoon in Napa Valley, using Sam’s credit card. He booked honeymoon suites in quaint bed-and-breakfasts, signed up for wine tastings and sunrise hot-air balloon rides, and carefully registered the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. Sam Hanna.”

Instead, Sam and Quinn are safely at the other end of the state, in a private yacht off Catalina Island. G imagines them cuddling in post-coital bliss, on the deck with the stars arching overhead or snug in the cabin while the boat gently sways beneath them. Kind of like the floor is swaying beneath G right now.

G raises his head and gives it several thumps against the floor, trying to drive the image from his mind.

Once upon a time, he’d thought…no, he’d hoped, that Sam felt differently about him. Felt for G the things he felt for Sam.

G’s a realist right down to his bones. He’s not one to see things that aren’t there. But he swore—he swore—that sometimes, every once in a while, he caught a glimpse of something in Sam’s eyes when he looked at G. Or heard something in his voice when he said his name. Or felt something in his touch when he—

G thumps his head on the floor again, and when that doesn’t work, clocks himself in the eye several times with his fist. The pain makes the memories fade, but not the feelings.

Well, he’ll just have to get over those feelings, he decides, with the resilient optimism of a drunk. Thank God he’d never acted on them, never said a word to Sam, never had to live through that one final rejection. So at least G still has his pride. It’s cold comfort, but it’s comfort, and he’ll take it.

He drifts off to sleep, lulled by the dancing lights overhead and the distant screams and laughter from the pier as the Ferris Wheel spins endlessly into the night.

Eight weeks later, Sam and Quinn invite G out for drinks. He notices that Quinn orders sparkling water instead of champagne, so he’s not really surprised when they tell him about the pregnancy.

Still, his heart breaks a little more at the news. (So much for getting over those feelings.)

But when they ask him to be the baby’s godfather, he says yes, of course.

Because he knows it’s an honor to be asked.

The End