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Exclusive, Mutually

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“You realize they’re only even having a wedding for the attention, right?” Michael asked.

Lindsay looked at him quizzically. “Well, yeah, why else?” she said, and went back to touching up her mascara.

Michael, in an impressive display of self-control, did not roll his eyes. Lindsay had gotten married just to piss off their parents once, too, and look how that had turned out. In an even more impressive display of self-control, Michael kept that thought to himself.

Lindsay brushed her bangs out of her eyes – her hair was starting to get long again, almost down to her shoulders – and levelled Michael with a cool gaze. “You’re still upset about being a regular groomsman.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Michael stated. So what if Tony’s brother was going to be his and Gob’s best man? This wedding was going to be a disaster anyway. Michael had half considered not even going, but the thought of his parents watching Gob marry a man was too amazing to pass up.

He had managed to get out of the bachelor party, at least, by pretending to have had a crippling attack of food poisoning. The thought of being at a party full of magicians was almost enough to turn his stomach for real.

Actually, the part that worried him the most was that there hadn’t been a rehearsal. Gob and Tony were planning something and they wanted to keep it a surprise, even from the wedding party. Michael took a measure of consolation from the fact that the staff at the Gothic Castle was prepared to handle a variety of performance mishaps; the stage caught fire there at least once a month. Maybe it was for the best that they’d decided to get married in the place they’d met rather than in a church.

Gay magician weddings weren’t exactly beholden to typical wedding conventions, and there was an uneven number of men and women in the party, which meant they weren’t going to be matched up during the processional but rather simply walk in a line. Which was fine with Michael – just as well he wouldn’t have to walk arm in arm with his own sister, or one of Tony’s weird cousins, or Sally Sitwell. (Michael still wasn’t quite clear on how she and Tony knew each other. She looked gorgeous in her dark purple sleeveless dress, and Michael ventured a smile at her across the crowded dressing room where the wedding party was waiting, which she returned.) Their instructions were simple: walk down the aisle when the music started, line up across the back of the stage, and don’t move no matter what happened. Yeah, that wasn’t ominous at all.

A man with an earpiece and clipboard poked his head into the room. “Okay, folks, showtime,” he said. Michael was pretty sure he was a stage manager and not a magician, judging from his understated plain black suit. “You remember your order?”

Michael was second in line, right behind Tony’s brother Greg. Which was completely fine. The music started, and the procession made its way into the room.

It took a second for Michael to realize that the string quartet was playing an arrangement of The Final Countdown. He almost started laughing, but – actually, it sounded kind of nice. There was a bright white curtain across the back of the stage, and a banner that said Love Each Other in elegant script. It was less ostentatious than Michael had expected. Classy, even.

Michael took his place along the back of the stage and let his eyes wander out to the audience. His parents had actually shown up, his father looking vaguely bored and his mother’s lips pursed harder than he’d ever seen. Beside them in the outside aisle was a screen and camera where Buster watched from jail, where he was waiting for his appeal. Michael’s stomach lurched when he spotted George Michael and Maeby; his son had barely spoken to him in months. And there was Tobias – Michael was surprised he’d bothered to show up without having a role in the wedding.

Actually, he was surprised any of them had shown up. Since when had everyone supported Gob so much?

Michael suddenly felt warm in his tuxedo, under the bright stage lighting, and did his best not to fidget. He really hoped this wouldn’t take very long. Then he could duck out of the reception as early as possible, go home, and dive into a solitary Netflix binge, maybe finally start House of Cards.

Just get through this, he told himself. All you have to do is stand here. Let Gob deal with his mistakes on his own.

The string quartet fell silent, and the official stepped forward. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Friends, family, loved ones, fellow magicians. We gather here today to celebrate the joining of two men in holy matrimony.”

“But wait!” Tobias shouted, jumping to his feet. “Wherever are the grooms?” he asked dramatically.

“Here we go,” Michael muttered. Lindsay gave him a swift kick in the shin.

The official feigned surprise. “What a keen observation! I wonder where they could be?”

“Did somebody say ‘wonder’?” Tony’s voice suddenly echoed throughout the room. The string quartet struck up a spirited, upbeat melody, and white spotlights sprang on, circling back and forth across the crowd.

“We’re here!” Gob’s voice said from somewhere unseen.

“We’re queer!” said Tony.

There was a sudden flash onstage and a blast of smoke. Michael, since he was onstage with them, could half-see through the haze a trap door in the floor open, but he supposed to the audience it would have been invisible.

“And we’re getting married!” they said together. Gob and Tony were wearing matching purple tuxedoes, and stood basking in the applause for a moment. Their backs were to Michael, but as they turned to face the wedding official, Michael was suddenly caught off guard by how genuinely happy Gob looked.

The actual ceremony itself was blessedly short, and Michael completely zoned out at the words, instead staring at the way Gob was staring at Tony. He had a big dumb grin on his face and his eyes were bright, and Tony – Tony was looking back at Gob the same way.

“You may now kiss the--” the official stated, then caught himself. “Oh, I’m sorry, just a habit. You may now kiss.”

They leaned forward to do so, and Michael sought his mother’s face in the crowd, eager to see whether she would outright faint at watching her oldest son kissing a man in semi-public.

“I pronounce you Mr. Gob and Tony Wonder-Bluth,” the official said.

“Bluth-Wonder,” Gob corrected quickly in a half-whisper.

“No, we decided on Wonder-Bluth,” Tony shot back.

A flock of doves swept from the back of the stage out over the audience, who gasped in delight. Whatever argument Gob and Tony were about to work up to was cut short when one of the doves made a sudden and unexpected dive for the stage.

“Look out!” Gob said, grabbing Tony and pushing him to the ground. Someone in the audience screamed; in seconds a Gothic Castle employee was on the stage with a long-handled net, wrangling the unruly animal out of the room.

“Are you all right?” Gob asked, pulling Tony to his feet.

“Fine,” he said. “Gobie, you’re bleeding!”

The dove had apparently grazed his forehead with its beak, but Gob shrugged it off. “As long as you’re fine, I’m fine,” he said, and then, “Oh, hey, we’re married now.” He grabbed Tony’s hand, grinning, and held it up, turning toward the audience and yelling, “We’re married now!”

“Oh my God,” Michael muttered. “They actually are in love, aren’t they.”

“You’re really slow on the uptake lately, Michael,” Lindsay said. “I mean, it was pretty obvious way back at the engagement party.”

“Hang on,” Michael said, unheard over the crowd’s applause. “Just a little while ago you agreed that they were only doing this for attention.”

“I agreed they were only having a wedding for the attention. They’re getting married because they’re in love. Love and attention aren’t mutually exclusive, Michael, that’s how the whole wedding industry stays in business.”

Michael made it a point to find Tony later, as the guests mingled in the Gothic Castle’s lobby sipping champagne and eating canapes, to shake his hand and congratulate him. “Take care of my brother,” he said. “He can be a little emotionally unstable, though I guess you probably know that by now.”

“Funny,” Tony said, “He said the same thing about you.”

Michael was a little miffed but, he thought, he was not so petty as to let something like that ruin the evening, not when he was seeing the brother he (mostly, a lot of the time) cared about finally happy. So he stuck around, leaving House of Cards for a later date, which meant that he was still there to witness the moment when the wedding cake exploded.

All in all the wedding was not nearly as big a disaster as he’d anticipated.