Fake Fan Fiction ❯ The Unexpected II ❯ Prelude To A Wedding ( Chapter 22 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
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“How are you doing, Mother Maria?” Elena called out.
“I hope I'm doing the right thing,” came the reply from the other room. “Are you sure it isn't too much?”
Elena smiled warmly. “I didn't think so when you picked it out.”
“I do not know what possessed me,” Mother replied with a heavy sigh. She stepped out of the room wearing a long ankle length gown in navy blue. The cut of the gown was simple but in a classic sense. It had a high modest neckline, and sleeves to her elbows. “I cannot remember the last time I went shopping for clothes.”
“For yourself,” Elena remarked with a smile. They had this conversation while Mother went to Lady Chantrel to try on dresses. Whenever money allowed, Mother would buys some clothing and toys for the children. The during the first visit to the boutique, the nun gushed on about how much she enjoyed it when Dee and Ryo were along, although she worried when they would add some of their own money to the shopping sprees.
It was the elderly nun who had called her, asking for assistance in buying a gown to wear for her son's wedding. During the phone call, Elena asked her why a gown instead of her habit, which was what Dee was expecting her to wear. Mother's reply was that for one day, she wanted to just be Dee's mom as she walked him down the aisle on his wedding day. She had asked Elena to keep it their secret between them and Lady Chantrel.
As far as Elena was concerned, once the boutique owner heard the nun wanted a dress to wear for the wedding, she had a nice selection of outfits that Mother would feel comfortable in. What impressed Elena the most about Lady Chantrel was she got a good feeling for her customers and never tried to push something that was drastically different. She had a challenge for the wedding, since most of the women in the wedding party normally could not afford the gowns sold out of the boutique. Yet the selection Diana was initially given worked very well, no matter what the final choices were. They were all stylish and yet seemed to fit the personalities of the women wearing them. Diana did a fine job cutting down the selections, and Elena was very proud of Dee and Ryo, who managed to make the final choices.
However, the mother figures for both men got to choose their own outfits for the wedding. Elena went for chic and elegant. Her gown was strapless royal blue silk, the skirt a straight cut. She had a jacket in the same material that buttoned and gathered, hugging the curves she still had at her age. The neckline was not deep plunging, going to the top of the gown, but still enhancing her breasts. She looked maternal, sexy, and very elegant. Her hair was done up, using rhinestone clips to keep it in place.
Aside from being a nun, Mother was older, with a short, round figure. The flowing cut of her gown worked well for her. The nun had her gray hair done in a classic chignon. Elena smiled at her. “You'll be fine. Didn't you say you always told Dee to follow his heart? Well, yours said you wanted to dress today like the proud mama you are.” She removed a long jacket in sheer black organza from a hanger. “Now put this on.”
“I will end up looking so plain comparing to the others from our families,” Mother stated as she took the garment from Elena.
“Nonsense. You already look radiant, Maria. And you have a right.” She smiled brightly. “Today is Dee's wedding day. You get to walk your son down the aisle and give him away.”
Mother could not help matching Elena's smile. “Yes, I am. You have no idea, Elena. Dee was blessed to find his perfect mate and today they are getting married. I have to admit, for a while there after he met Ryo, I feared Dee would end up pining away for someone he could never have. I knew he loved Ryo so strongly, he would never stop loving him, and would wait forever.” Mother had put on the jacket as she spoke.
“Ryo was just being silly,” Elena stated, buttoning the top half of the jacket. From below the bust, the jacket was open and flared out a little. Also after the last button was a band of silver brocade that met in the front like a “V” and went around the jacket. “I thought he was raised knowing better than to be afraid because he liked men too. And to think, he waited until I confronted him when they moved in together. Even then, he was still afraid to face Rick.”
Mother chuckled. “I guess he was wrong about that. Having both of your support means so much to him, Elena. And it means a lot to Dee, too.”
Elena winked at her. “I know I'm just the aunt, but I swear I feel like I'm going to be a grandma soon.”
“In a sense, you are. You're Ryo's surrogate mom.” Mother smiled again, clasping her hands. “I know they believe otherwise, but if not for that baby, who knows when they would have decided to get married.”
“I understand. I know they loved each other enough that a wedding was in their future. Whenever Ryo would stop stressing what others thought. But they were on the right path, since they started to live together. Besides, from talking to them, Dee was all for the hush hush so they could stay partners at work. That meant no wedding because of that too.”
“I wanted to kick Dee about that. Yes, I understand how important it is for him to do his job having someone he trusts as much as Ryo, but they can't get fired for being a couple. So they end up working apart. As long as they can come home to each other and the life they made for themselves outside of the job. Well, they're getting married today, and they're still partners at work. At least they will be the same type of partners they were once Dee returns from baby leave.”
Elena nodded and took Mother's hand. “At least that's all in the past now. Finding out he fathered a child with Dee helped push Ryo past that last hurdle a little sooner than he thought. But by moving in with Dee, he was getting ready to jump it.” She chuckled warmly. “I dare say that this very wedding itself, with everything they picked for it, is Ryo's way of shouting to the world that he's marrying Dee.”
“Yes. It is a very high profile wedding,” Mother agreed.
Elena grinned wickedly at Mother. “Do you bet, Maria?”
“Want to wager that from one of the terraces my nephew will have access to, he'll be yelling that he got married to Dee?”
“No bet. I believe he will,” Mother laughed. “With Dee right there with him, doing the same.” She giggled. “Besides, I heard Ryo already did that this morning at the hotel, from his grandmother's room.”
“Oh yes,” Elena laughed. “That he did. Went out on the balcony and started yelling. And woke everyone who was still sleeping at 6:45 this morning.” She went over to a hat box and took out a navy blue brimmed hat. Going back to Mother, she said. “Let's get this on, and then if we're good to go, maybe we should get you over to your nervous son.”
“Please. At least I think Barry is doing a good job with him, since he hasn't called me yet.” Mother chuckled and looking in the mirror, put on the hat. “Oh my!” she exclaimed, looking at her reflection. “Who is that?”
Elena hugged her, laughing. “That is a very proud mother looking very elegant for her son's wedding. Shall we go? I should have my camera out too. I want a picture of Dee's face when he first sees you.”
“I'd love a copy of that picture, if you don't mind.”
”Mother, you can have copies of any or all the pictures from this wedding day. Just like me.” She winked. “Don't worry about leaving anything, because you plan to come back here when Dee is getting changed.”
“Then let's go.”
# # # # #
“Well, look at you looking all handsome,” Ryo heard Elena's voice call out.
He turned to find his aunt walking into the suite reserved for him to get ready for the wedding. After taking a quick glance over toward the room where his uncle and Eddie were, he stood up. “Aunt Elena, I'm in a robe,” he scolded affectionately, going over to the older woman.
“You still look handsome, sweetheart,” Elena gushed, hugging him. She looked around the suite. “This is a very nice set up you have here. Snacks, champagne. Nice.”
“I feel guilty because I know Dee doesn't have champagne,” Ryo remarked ruefully. “I didn't request all this.”
Elena smirked. “Dee has snacks, including of the dry toast variety in case he has butterflies that could lead to other things. And chilled Martinelli. So don't feel so bad.”
“You didn't, did you?” Ryo asked.
“Not just me. It's also from your grandmother and grandfather, and Maria's family.”
“Shouldn't you be somewhere, like helping the women be ready on time or something?” Ryo asked, a teasing glint in his eyes.
Elena lightly cuffed the side of his head. “I'm here, of course, to take photos. You need before pictures for the wedding album, you know.”
“I know. And that's what I thought the photographer you recommended we hire should be doing.”
Elena chuckled. “John and his wife are fine photographers, but did you really think I was going to completely entrust this day to someone else? Of course, I want to get some pictures myself.” She tugged at his robe. “Now, what are you sitting around waiting for? Rick and Eddie will help you if you need, but you need to dress yourself, as kingly as this set up is.”
“I was just about to. Marcel arrived a few minutes ago, and he's getting everything set up for us, before delivering to Dee.”
“I just came from Dee's suite,” Elena said with a laugh. “Mother Maria was busy assuring the poor darling that she had seen Marcel go to the groomsmen suite.”
“How's he doing otherwise?” Ryo had to ask. He should have been tired considering the 3 phone calls the night before. He had called Dee once, and Dee had called him twice. He was hoping that like himself, Dee had managed to get some decent sleep in between the calls.
“As nervous as a virgin on her wedding night,” Elena stated with a giggle. “I need to go back there when he's halfway dressed for more photos, but I got the most delightful photos of the poor dear having a case of vapors. He's just beside himself with excitement.”
Ryo shook his head. “As Dee said the other night, there's nothing virginal about him, especially with the baby on the way.” He laughed.
“You seem to be holding up well,” Elena observed.
“Good. Then no one will know I'm trembling like a virgin on her wedding night on the inside,” Ryo stated.
Elena laughed and hugged Ryo. “Ah, there's Marcel now,” she exclaimed. “So start getting dressed and I'll get a few pictures, then onto the ladies and men, and back to Dee.”
“Elena…” Ryo remarked softly.
“Go!” Elena pushed him slightly toward the man who came from the other room holding Ryo's tuxedo.
“You are not going to take photos of me in my boxers!” Ryo stated firmly, but could not keep the laugh from his voice. He smiled at Marcel, watching as the man carefully hung the garments on the bar of a luggage rack.
“Of course I am. You don't have to put those pictures on the internet, you know. But yes, I will make sure there are pictures that you and Dee can enjoy going through together.”
“Give it up, boy,” Rick said, entering with Eddie. Both men were in their slacks and shirts. “You know your aunt, and the only thing arguing will do is get you to your wedding late, and she'll still have her photos.”
Ryo sighed, rolling his eyes. “So true. Shoot away,” he said, opening his robe.
Ryo was in his pants and shirts when John showed up. “I got the men. Now time to take over here,” the photographer announced to Elena as he started to set up.
Marcel smiled. “I should take that as my cue to deliver Dee his suit.”
Elena started to put her equipment away. “Timing is perfect so far. I'll go with you and get pictures of Dee now. Joyce is handling the wedding party, isn't she?”
“Yes. And we pulled Karen in to have a camera on the children at all times,” the photographer replied.
“Good. Good. We've got it all covered from start to finish then. When will you start video?”
“The crew should be arriving any minute. They were getting the ceremony area before the guests started to arrive.”
“Great. Okay, I'll leave the rest up to you. Remember now, this is my nephew. There's not a moment I want missed. Understood?”
“Very, Elena. Don't worry. I know you. Now let me stop talking and start taking pictures.”
Elena smiled. “Okay, fellas. I'm heading out now to see Dee again. I'll see you soon.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Ryo quipped.
Rick guffawed, then smiled at Elena.
Elena shook her head, trying to look annoyed. Ryo looked too over the moon to succeed. She smiled and first kissed Ryo on his cheek, then pressed a light kiss to Rick and started for the door.
“Now remember, gentlemen, if anyone needs assistance with their suits, please page me. I have my associates with me, just in case,” Marcel instructed to the three men in the suite.
“I think we know how to handle tuxedos,” Ryo said with a smile. “But thank you for everything, especially the personal detail. It means a lot to me.”
“Our grandmothers go way back. It was important to my grandmother that your wedding was catered to with the finest detailing. After getting to know you and Dee, it definitely became a pleasure to be part of this grand occasion,” Marcel stated, and smiled. He took his leave and left with Elena.
“I'm surprised you didn't ask him if you could take a peek at Dee's,” Rick said to Ryo as he tucked his shirt in his pants.
“Dee and I decided to surprise each other, and I'm sure I'm as curious as he is. I'll wait until I finally see him,” Ryo replied, fussing with the cuffs of his shirt and looking around. “How long do we have anyway?”
“Forty-five minutes,” Eddie replied, noticing Ryo's eyes roaming on the surface of nearby furniture and suppressing a smirk. He carefully nudged Rick.
“Forty-five minutes of freedom, boy,” Rick said, amused. “It's not too late to change your mind.”
“Hell no!” was Ryo's quick respond. “I'm marrying Dee!”
“Just checking.” Rick laughed. “What are you looking for?”
“I swore I had cufflinks out. I know I packed them.” Ryo started for his suitcase that he took with him from the hotel.
“Oh, those old things,” Rick remarked, as the video crew arrived. “Ah look. We're now on candid camera.”
John chuckled. “You do realize that everything you've been doing since Elena left will be held against you with photos.”
“Easy there, dude,” Ryo said. “I'm the police. You're the photographer. Besides, I can bribe big and put it down as a wedding expenditure.”
Rick laughed, slapping Ryo on his back. “You're learning finally, my boy. Good for you. If you're really good, you can make like your aunt and me. Some of the `wedding expenditure' went into good investing that paid off very well for us over the years.”
“You both are crazy!” Ryo stated, looking scandalized.
“You do have a baby on the way,” Eddie pointed out. “And a teenage son.”
“You're crazy too. But I need to find my cufflinks.”
“They're very nice cufflinks, Ryo. Where did you get them from?” Rick asked.
Ryo's head snapped up and he stared at his uncle. “How do you know which ones I…? They were just a pair that Dee got me for some occasion I forgot during our first year together. I thought they'd go well with the tuxedo.”
Rick shook his head. “I hope you weren't getting sentimental over wearing cufflinks Dee gave you. Especially since you're wearing that fine watch he gave you this past Valentine's Day.”
“What?” Ryo simply asked.
Rick went over to his own overnight bag and pulled out a velvet box. “Elena asked if I would take on the honors. We managed to salvage them from that mess over your parents' holdings not long after you moved in with us. Elena decided to keep it a secret until this day came. Frankie had already mentioned several times that he wanted you to wear these on your wedding day. They were a gift from Rayna's family. Akira gave them to Frank on his wedding day. And hopefully you'll want to wear them on yours.” He handed the box to Ryo.
Ryo opened the box, and his eyes filled with tears as he stared at the cufflinks his father had worn on his wedding day. A gift from his grandmother, welcoming his father to her family. He lifted one of the silver and onyx pieces from the box, looking at the kanji character set in the center of the onyx stone. The kanji for love. The silver had a design of tiny cranes, the symbol for happiness and love for Japanese weddings. “Uncle Rick… oh God. Thank you. I'll have to thank Elena too. This is… perfect. Thank you so much.” He wiped his eyes. “Sorry.”
Rick chuckled. “At least when the pictures come back, we can prove Dee wasn't the only one having vapors before the wedding. But it's nothing, son. Your aunt and I, we tried our best to make sure your wedding day would be filled with everything your mom and dad would want for it.”
“You have.” In a quick move, Ryo was on his uncle, hugging him. “This is awesome. Thank you. And… I feel like they're here. Giving us their blessings.”
“You know they would be, Ryo,” Rick replied, hugging him back. “Your parents only wanted you to be happy. They wanted you to find love, to find someone as perfect for you as they were for each other. They didn't care if that person was female or male. Just as long as you both love each other. Believe me. We had discussed this the night of your 16th birthday party. And your parents would have loved Dee something awful.”
Ryo smiled as he pulled away from his uncle. “Of course, I'll wear these. Dee had no idea what jewelry I chose to wear today anyway, and once he knows, he'll be glad too. Does Obasan know they didn't end up in the government's hands?”
Rick nodded. “She knows. We told her right after. And we all agreed to keep it quiet until you got married. She knows I'm giving them to you today. Just as I know she'll be dropping by to see Dee shortly, much like she did with your dad, and offer him a gift to welcome him to the family.”
Ryo wiped his eyes again. “She already did. She wasn't face to face with Dee more than a minute and she welcomed him. Told him he was an Aoki.”
Eddie handed Ryo a hankie. “Here, man. You look like you need this.”
Ryo laughed and quickly wiped his eyes with it. “I'm okay now.” He blew his nose in it and handed it back to Eddie. “Here. Take care of that. Okay, best man?” He winked at his old friend.
Eddie laughed. “Damn. And here I was hoping you forgot about that. Anyway, I guess I can drop the cufflinks you had on the table into your bag now?”
“You?” Ryo laughed.
“Your uncle made me!” Eddie defended.
“That would so not hold up in court, dude. You know that, too.” Ryo laughed again.
Eddie cleared his throat. “Okay, got more. Since there aren't any brides in this wedding, some of us decided that certain traditions should be carried over to both of our grooms. Dee's mom, and both your grandmothers will be making sure Dee is covered. And it has been tasked to me and your uncle to take care of you.”
“Which certain traditions? Because I am NOT walking down the aisle with a bouquet,” Ryo replied, trying to sound stern, and failing miserably. He ended up smiling at his best man and his uncle.
“That old saying, of course,” Rick replied. “I think your cufflinks pass for something old. Something new, well, I think we settled that will be your wedding ring.”
“Which is where, by the way?” Ryo asked, his eyes on Eddie.
Eddie smiled. “It's already in the inside pocket of my jacket in there.”
Ryo nodded. “Good. Nevermind how much we paid for the rings, I don't need to end up empty handed during the ceremony. Dee would have vapors for real.”
Eddie laughed. “We won't do anything to upset Dee. Don't worry. Now for something borrowed.” He chuckled as he pulled out a frilly handkerchief made from kimono silk. “Akemi offered to loan this for the occasion.”
Ryo gingerly took it from Eddie. “I'm not having this stick out of my breast pocket.”
“You don't have to. Keep it in your pants pocket. As long as you have it with you. You don't have to flaunt it, you know.”
“Thank goodness for that,” Ryo sighed.
“And something blue was easy,” Eddie stated, since your vest and tie are blue.”
“We're set then!” Rick exclaimed. “Which means, let's finish getting dressed and make sure this one gets hitched.”
Ryo smiled. “I think we have a game plan.”
+++ +++ +++
“Dee, calm down,” Barry instructed his friend who went to run his hand through his hair and barely managed to stop himself just in time to save his meticulously styled hair from getting messed up.
Dee, dressed in just a robe and socks, stopped his pacing and turned on Barry. “Shouldn't I be getting dressed by now?”
“You will be. Relax. I'm sure Marcel knows what he's doing.”
“I wish we had more time,” Dee muttered.
Barry went over to the table where a bottle of Martinelli was chilling in a silver ice bucket. He took one of the crystal champagne glasses and poured some of the sparking apple juice into the glass. Grabbing a piece of melba toast, he went over to Dee. “Here, And don't say no. It'll help, because right now you're setting yourself up to be sick when you should be getting married. Now sit down, eat and drink up.”
Dee rolled his eyes, but took the offered items and sat down in a chair before a dressing table.
“The reason why you're not getting dressed an hour ago is to make sure you don't end up making a mess out of your suit while waiting the remaining time.”
“Shut up,” Dee muttered, then sipped the apple juice.
There was a knock on the door to the suite. Barry went over to open the door. With a huge grin, he greeted Marcel. “Come in, please, Marcel. Give this one his suit so he could get married. And hopefully shut up for a while too.” He stepped aside to let the other man who carried two garment bags in.
Marcel laughed as he entered. “Two suits ready for wear,” he announced, amused, spotting Dee. “By the way, Dee, I hear the ceremony location is just beautiful. I cannot wait to finally see it.”
Dee smiled brightly, standing up. “Yes,” he replied. “I couldn't believe it when I saw it earlier! It already looked amazing last night during rehearsal. But, oh my God! It turned out better than we expected. Sharon did an awesome job pulling this wedding together in the time she had.”
“It's a good thing there will be two videos going,” Barry stated. “Because I would love to be able to watch the entire processional, with all extras that we're going to miss while we make sure we don't trip over our feet.”
“Yeah. Me too,” Dee agreed. “Now Marcel, produce some wedding wear, please.”
“Are you nervous?” Marcel asked as he went over to a rack. He set the garment bags on the rack and started to unzip the first one.
“Only because I'm afraid I'm going to be late for my wedding because I'm still stuck in a robe,” Dee remarked impatiently, his eyes fixed on the what Marcel was doing.
Another knock came on the door and suddenly Elena was walking in.
“Elena!” Dee exclaimed. “Don't you check first? What if we were stripped down to just underwear or something?”
Elena grinned wickedly. “More of a reason to take photos, my dear.”
Dee rolled his eyes. “Please.”
Barry chuckled. “I say give the lady what she wants.” He winked at Elena.
“Later Barry,” Dee said. “We have a wedding to get ready for.” He went to stand by Marcel, who was removing a suit and pants.
The other man also took out a brocade black vest and white silk shirt. Marcel held out the garments to Barry. “Here you go, sir. Yours to do what you wish after today, from what I was told. If you need any assistance, or something doesn't seem right, give me a shout.”
“Will do, my man,” Barry said, taking the offered garments.
Dee eyed Barry's tuxedo, as if searching for flaws in the same way he would first survey a crime scene upon entering. Dark green eyes went from the suit to the man who provided their clothing for the event. “What do you mean `doesn't seem right'? We were final fitted just the other day,” Dee blurted out.
“Things happen,” Marcel replied smoothly, seemingly unaware of Dee's growing alarm. “It's best to be prepared and have nothing happen, then unprepared and have something happen. I'm prepared.”
“Like what?” Dee demanded.
Barry placed a large hand on Dee's shoulder. “Chill, Groomzilla, or I'll make you put your tee-shirt back on.” He chuckled at Dee's look. “If there is any problem, I'm certain Marcel will quickly tackle it in his usual smooth, efficient style.” The larger man gave the clothier an apologetic smile.
Marcel smiled back. “Even grooms get ruffled feathers on their wedding day. We just manage to keep it quiet, unlike the women.” He winked.
Barry grinned, patting Dee's shoulder in a friendly manner. “Especially grooms who earned the right to have to wear a tee-shirt that says `Groomzilla' while he had breakfast with his family this morning.”
At Barry's prompting, Dee took a deep breath. “Sorry.”
“Not a problem.” Marcel handed Dee the suit, along with shirt he had been removing from the other garment bag. “Now, I'll bet you'll look different in this today than on Thursday. For the better, I hope.” Marcel winked.
Barry eyed Dee's suit, seeing it for the first time. “Dude! Now that is a Wedding Suit! Damn, I already know Ryo won't be able to take his eyes off you today. Now, time to get dressed.”
From a discreet distance, Elena chuckled. No one noticed as she took out her camcorder and was filming them. Even better, she thought, they forgot about her as Barry and Dee started to remove their robes to start dressing. She'll never know how she held back the squeal of sheer delight when she saw Dee's wedding suit. Barry was right. She knew Ryo was going to love what Dee had selected to wear on their special day. She also knew the reverse could be said. Her nephew was going to look especially handsome in the style and cut he had selected.
Holding onto his pants, Dee turned, starting to say something to Barry and his eyes met Elena's through the camera lens.
Being caught, Elena brazenly filmed on, exclaiming to Dee, “Now don't you look all handsome and sweet. Barry, you're pretty yummy too.”
Barry's head swirled in her direction, his pants half on, eyes wide. “Wha? Oh shit!”
“Dammit Elena!” Dee yelped, turning his back to her.
“Oh! Very nice shot of that cute tush of yours, sweetness,” Elena commented, the camera pointed at Dee's back.
Barry hopped into the other room.
“Hey best man!” Dee cried out. “I need a little help here with the crazy lady holding the camera.”
“She's your family, bro. You deal with her,” Barry's voice came from the other room.
Marcel started to laugh at both men. Elena continued to film, capturing Barry's escape and Dee's distraught. It would be perfect material for Ryo and Dee to laugh at years later, Elena thought.
“Elena! Please. Stop filming me in my underwear,” Dee demanded, trying to cover himself with his tuxedo pants that he held.
“Oh please,” Elena giggled. “If I was your mother, I might see what the fuss is. Then again, she did change your diapers once.”
“Shit,” Dee grumbled. “Anyway, last weekend you made it very clear that you're my aunt now. That is almost as bad as my mom. And I don't care if she changed my diapers. That was 30 years ago!”
Elena smiled sweetly at Dee. “So, you'd let Ryo be the only one brave enough to have some before pictures in just his boxers? It will be for just you and him, unless you both decide otherwise.”
Dee turned his head to glance back at the older woman. There was nothing bashful or shy about the look on his face. With a wicked grin, he asked, “Is that so? Let him!” Dee laughed.
“Fine. Just wait until I play this back for him. With you saying that while your boxer clad tushie is posing for the camera.”
She giggled. “You do realize that instead of putting up a fuss and failed attempts to hide, you could have been dressed by now.” She panned the camera from Dee to the doorway leading to the other room. “Isn't that right, Barry?” she asked Dee's best man, who had just walked through the doorway to join them again. Barry had on his pants, shirt and vest.
“Jesus, Dee,” the other man exclaimed, seeing Dee still in his boxers and attempting to use his pants as a shield to hide with. “If you don't want to get dressed, you could have grabbed your robe, instead of using these.” He strode up to Dee and carefully pried the pants out of the nervous groom's grip. He held them out toward Marcel. “If you don't mind, Marcel, can you check these and make sure he didn't do anything to them that he'll be screaming about later?”
Marcel chuckled as he took the offered pants and started to critically survey them for any potential damage, which included other than rips and tears, creases and wrinkles in noticeable places.
Dee sighed heavily as Barry handed Dee his shirt.
“Here. Put this on at least,” Barry said, making his voice gentle.
“Yeah. You're right.” Dee took the offered shirt and went to the table where he had a white sleeveless undershirt waiting. As he started to get dressed, he said, “I'm sorry. I guess I am nervous. I mean, so far everything seems perfect. No problems with anything in set up with the ceremony. Wrong flowers didn't arrive, or ice sculptures not making it, or any of that stuff. Shit, even Sharon had the foresight to have back up downstairs in case of rain or snow. Which is a good thing.”
Elena chuckled. “I heard you had a bit of a fit seeing it snowing when you woke up this morning.”
Dee's slight blush was momentarily hidden as he put on the undershirt. “Well,” he started with a rueful grin. “Panic, more like. I had this vision of a blizzard that would put the city on a total standstill by afternoon. Including guests, vendors, clergy, wedding party… everything.”
“Family would still be here, Dee. And if I know Ryo, as long as there's still the two of you and witnesses, he'd have tracked someone down in the area who could make this marriage legal, and married you today anyway. In the atrium, however it looked, or in the foyer of a judge who could marry you. Relax, sweetness. You will be married tonight. No matter what. Because Ryo wants it that badly too.” She smiled fondly at her soon to be nephew-in-law. “And you both have family that would do anything to help him make it possible, if it came to that.”
Dee looked up from putting on his shirt and smiled at Elena. “I know. I shouldn't get all crazy. Ryo and I will be married by the end of the day.”
“It should be within a couple of hours, which it won't be if you keep flapping your lips and dress as slow as a tortoise,” Barry remarked. “Geez, and this from the man who was having fits because he wanted to be dressed five hours ago.”
Marcel smirked and handed Dee his pants, his eyes looking at Dee's shirt, assuring it fell the right way. He had assigned himself to personally help Dee get ready for the wedding, because his tuxedo was fitted to enhance and compliment his swollen abdomen, rather than hide it. Marcel wanted to make sure that when Dee walked down the center aisle, he would look radiantly pregnant, not fat and wrinkly.
He helped Dee tuck his shirt in pants made to zip below the belly. Unlike all the other men in the wedding party, including Ryo, Dee's suit did not have a vest. Marcel did not think it was necessary considering Dee's condition and Dee's own choice of suits. The jacket and pants along would make all the impression needed. The cut was very classic that it worked with the formal wedding.
“Aww Dee,” Elena sighed, sounding choked up. “You look so handsome and you're not finished dressing yet. In fact, I dare say, you look like a prince. You're going to knock Ryo off his feet.”
“Thank you,” Dee said, grinning. He glanced at himself in the mirror. He had to agree with her. So far, he was more than pleased at the reflection looking back at him.
Which filled him with a tinge of fear. It was all going too perfect, his mind kept reminding him. Even while dressing. Somewhere, somehow, something was going to happen, and when it did, it was going to be horrible. He shivered a little, and fought to banish the traitorous thoughts to the back of his head.
“It's going to be fine, Dee,” Barry assured him, as if reading his mind. He noticed both Elena and Marcel nod their heads in agreement, eyes on him.
“I'm fine,” Dee stated. “I'm okay. I'm just going to put on my cufflinks and…” His eyes went to the table where he thought he had set the box with his cufflinks. They were one of the first gifts Ryo had given him as his lover. The silver cufflinks were simple, yet classic in design. Other than the sentimental value, he thought they would work well with the suit. Not seeing them on the table, he went over to the bag he had his things he bought with him from the hotel and started to go through it, fearing that he might have left the cufflinks back at the hotel.
`Great! This is it,' he groaned, fearing the worse. There he was in this fine, expensive, Italian designed suit on his wedding day with no cufflinks. The shirt he had selected needed cufflinks, or his shirt sleeves would be falling out from his jacket. Then the MacLeans would laugh at him, because the truth would be revealed. He was just a poor boy, who worked hard to make a living, playing dress up as a fine gentleman. He felt a cold sweat break out. He couldn't do that to Ryo. Not on that day - their wedding day. When it all had to be perfect.
He was fighting back tears in his eyes as he faced Barry, who had met him at the hotel and had rode with him in a limo to the building they were in now.
“What's wrong, sweetie?” Elena asked, sounding concerned.
“Barry… the cufflinks. Please tell me I packed them. What did I do with the cufflinks?” Dee's voice rose in panic and dread.
“What cufflinks?” Barry asked innocently.
Perhaps too innocently. Especially for Barry.
It made Dee pause, shaking off his fears as he studied the man who had been a best friend and brother since childhood. “Okay. What's going on?” he demanded.
Barry shrugged. “All I was told was to take your cufflinks away. God, I didn't think you were going to start vapors on us over it. Honestly, Dee. I didn't mean to upset you. I'm sure they didn't either.”
“Ryo's grandmother. The Japanese one,” Barry admitted.
Elena gave Dee a soft smile. “Dee, there have been some ladies waiting outside until you were decent enough for me to let them in. Obasan is one of them. Shall I let them enter now?”
Dee nodded his head, gulping in a deep breath. “Yes. Please.”
Barry gently guided Dee to a chair and made him sit, while Elena went to let the others in. Marcel handed Dee bottle of cold water and a napkin he quickly dabbed in the ice bucket.
Wiping his face with the napkin, Dee looked up to find himself surrounded by Mother, Estelle and Obasan, all who were smiling down at him.
“Um, may I help you ladies with something?” Dee asked, staring up at the three women. Elena was standing behind them, looking on with an amused smile.
“It's more like we are here to help you, Dee,” Estelle replied.
Mother went to stand beside Dee and took his hand in hers, squeezing it. “You look like you had quite a start over something. Are you okay, Dee?”
Dee nodded. “Yeah. I think so. I thought I had left my cufflinks back at the hotel and that….” He stopped himself to take a deep breath. Just the memory of his fears was enough to bring the panic back. “Nevermind. I was being silly and worked myself up over nothing.”
Mother frowned a little, then leaned over to kiss his forehead. “Remember what I told you this morning, Dee. No matter what might happen today, you and Ryo are getting married.” She gestured with the fingers of her other hand. “All this, while it's all very lovely is just icing. The cake is you and Ryo standing before the clergy and taking your vows.” She smiled gently at Dee, pressing her hand to his forehead. “Besides, even if half of what you planned goes wrong, the other half will still be so lovely and so much more than you thought you could have on your wedding day. So, what's the big deal?”
Estelle chuckled. “My dear, the reason to plan big is so no one will notice what does go wrong. If you start with nothing, people will notice. If you start with what you boys have planned, I doubt not even the old hens of my family will notice. They are all quite stunned with the beauty of everything already. Now relax, darling. The one thing that can stop this wedding is if we need to rush you out of here in an ambulance. So take a long deep breath, let it out slowly. And then let us help you with the final touches of your wedding trousseau.”
“Trousseau?” Dee exclaimed, looking scandalized. “But that's for brides and I know I've been running on crazy hormones all day, I'm not a….”
Mother covered his mouth with a finger. “Shush, darling.”
Mother glared at him.
Dee looked back up at his mother and sighed.
Estelle and Obasan were smiling. “He's such a darling, is he not, Estelle?” Obasan asked.
“Yes, he is. I can see why Randy picked him over anyone else he could have had,” Estelle replied and winked at Dee. “Now dearie. There are no brides in this wedding. I must say that you do look truly elegant in that lovely outfit of yours. I can hardly wait to see you with your jacket one.”
“He is quite the handsome one,” Obasan agreed. “But he looks like a prince today.”
“Indeed he does. Now sweetheart, since there are no brides in this wedding, we decided that one tradition that is usually for brides should be passed onto both you and Randy,” Estelle explained. “Randy's Uncle Rick and Eddie will be handling him. However, it is best that it is us women who see that you are prepared in proper traditions.”
“What tradition?” Dee asked, sitting up straighter in his chair.
“Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, of course,” Obasan said in her accent.
“Well, one might say for something old, you have us old bats pestering you before your wedding,” Estelle remarked with a laugh, causing the others in the room to join her.
“I would never call any of you charming ladies an old bat,” Dee remarked with a grin. “Besides, my mother dear here would see to it that I'll have one ear remaining.” He smiled sweetly up at his mother.
Mother tugged on his ear playfully. “You know the drill well, Dee. However, I'm elected to start this off with something old.” She reached into drawstring bag that matched her outfit and pulled out a box. “Here. This is from Jess. You know he was married for a time. On his wedding day, his father gave him this. He asked me to safe keep it for him. He knew his line of work was dangerous and he wanted to make sure that should anything happen to him, that this would be given to you on your wedding day.”
Dee's eyes started to glisten again at the mention of the man he saw as his father. It was just before he left for college that he found out that Jess was married at the time he had found Dee next to a dumpster. Jess had wanted to take Dee home and raise him as their son, since his wife had not conceived yet. Only to find out his wife did not want children after all. Things went downhill from there, especially when Jess would not go right home after work, stopping by the orphanage to spend time with baby Dee. Before Dee's first Finding Day, which they celebrated since they had no date of birth for him, he had moved out of the house he shared with his wife, and got a divorce shortly after. He then told Mother that he could not raise a child alone, especially with his line of work, and it was best for Dee to leave him in the orphanage. But Jess would come by every day, sometimes for a few minutes, other times longer. He still managed to be a father to Dee. Over the years, since his death, Dee would discover that he had given Mother many things he wanted Dee to have at certain times in his life.
The box Dee now held was another. Something from Jess' father, Dee's grandfather in a sense. Slowly he opened the box, and gasped at the contents.
“What do you have there, Dee?” Estelle asked.
“This….” Dee pulled out the antique pocket watch on a chain.
“That is very lovely,” Obasan stated with a smile. “And indeed very old. I'll bet it had been passed down for generations before your grandfather gave it to your father.”
Dee nodded, unable to reply because of the knot in his throat.
Mother rubbed his upper back soothingly. “I know, sweetheart. I know you wish he was here with you. But in a way, through that, he is.”
Dee nodded again. “Yeah. Thank you, Mother. For keeping this safe for him.”
“It looks very expensive,” Estelle noted. “Thought I'm sure the sentimental value is worth much more.”
“Yes. It is,” Dee replied.
“I'm glad you like it, dear,” Mother said. “I know Jess is glad too.”
Dee clenched the watch in his hand, holding it close to his body and looked up. “Thank you, dad,” he whispered hoarsely.
Mother hugged him. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I'm fine. Thank you. Yes, I will have this with me when I walk down the aisle.”
“Are we ready for the next item?” Estelle asked.
Dee nodded, smiling up at Ryo's grandmother. “Yes.”
“That would be me, Dei,” Obasan said, stepping forward and bowing slightly, then held out another jewelry box. “On behalf of the Aoki name, I ask that you accept this, as we accept you as one of us.”
Dee fought to get words past the new lump in his throat. “Domo arigato gozaimus,” he uttered hoarsely. He lifted his eyes, giving her a smile. “And may I say you look beautiful in your kimono.”
“I am glad you like it. I had it custom made especially for today. After all, I could not wear any old thing for my grandson's wedding.” She winked at him.
Dee knew enough about kimonos to know that she had to have spent hundreds of dollars, maybe even close to a thousand for the entire ensemble.
“Please, Dei, open it.”
“Of course.” With a fond smile, he opened the black velvet box. His mouth dropped. “Oh…”
Mother and Estelle laughed. Barry busted out in laughter and Obasan chuckled gracefully.
“Now I understand about the cufflink thing,” Barry remarked, slapping Dee on his shoulder, “Lookie that, bro. You got a nice new set of cufflinks.”
“They're gorgeous,” Dee muttered, his eyes on them. “Love,” he read the kanji in delicate silver over the onyx stones.”
“I had given Frank a pair just like that on his wedding day to my Rayna, to welcome him into our family. Now I give you the same.” In Japanese, she continued, “On behalf of all Aoki, I welcome you, Dei, into our family.”
Barry held out a napkin to Dee, and he took it to wipe his eyes.
“Frankie's cufflinks are Randy's something old,” Estelle added.
“Oh… really? I know he's very pleased about that,” Dee stated. “And…” He gazed up at the elderly woman standing before him looking regal in her colorful kimono with fine silvery threads and beadwork around the obi. “I am honored,” he told her in Japanese, bowing his head.
Obasan smiled. “I am glad. Now let's go back to English before the others will think we're talking about them, Dei.”
Dee laughed and looked up to meet the eyes of this delightful woman that he felt was a grandmother to him within the short time he had met her in person. Her dark eyes were very much like Ryo's. She met his gaze and they both smiled.
“Thank you,” he said in English. “It really is an honor. And I will wear these with pride today.”
Obasan nodded her head and winked at him. “For sure, from now on, I am Obasan to you, nee?”
“Of course. Obasan.”
Obasan patted Dee on his cheek. “My grandson has always had good taste. I am glad to see he also had the same good taste in picking his lifemate.” She backed away from Dee and looked over to Estelle.
“I guess I'm something borrowed,” Estelle said. “You can borrow me as another grandmother anytime, Dee.” She smiled at him.
Mother and Obasan giggled.
“Of course, Grandma MacLean.”
“Nah… none of that MacLean stuff there, young man,” Estelle stated. “After all, when this day is through you will be a MacLean yourself. Your name will carry MacLean.”
“Yes, indeed it will, ma'am.” Dee grinned up at her.
“You are most gracious and charming when you want,” Estelle chuckled. “I heard your friends talk at the party last night, and I believe they have trouble thinking you can be. But you are, and hide it well until you choose otherwise. Now for the real something borrowed.” She held out another jewelry box.
From the shape and size, Dee knew it was a ring. He opened it and looked inside.
“It is a MacLean insignia ring,” Estelle explained. “It's Franklin's. We would both be honored if you would wear it today for your wedding.”
Dee took a deep breath, completely overwhelmed. He knew Estelle and Franklin MacLean both had decided Dee was deserving to marry their grandson, and were looking forward to being great-grandparents by blood. He had no doubt that that Obasan accepted him to be Ryo's husband, and was also looking forward to being a great-grandmother through her deceased daughter's bloodline. Still to find himself being showered with acceptance and love at this moment in his life was overwhelming to him. He covered his eyes with his hand, still holding the box with the ring.
He nodded. “Y-yes… I would be honored to wear it,” he said between sobs.
Mother scooped down to put her arms around his shoulders. “Aw Dee. It's okay.”
Dee nodded. “Yes. It is. You all made it so.” His removed his hand and looked at each woman standing before him. “Each and everyone of you, alone, has made today truly a special day. And I'll never forget this. Really. Thank you.” He smiled up at them. “Your great-grandchild,” his eyes went to Mother, “and grandchild, thanks you too.”
He started to remove the ring from the box. Estelle took the ring from him. “Allow me,” she said, and placed the ring on the forefinger of Dee's right hand.”
“I should finish getting ready,” Dee said, smiling at her.
“May I help you with the cufflinks, Dei?” Obasan asked as Dee started to stand up.
“Of course, Obasan. You can.” He hugged her first, then Estelle, and Mother. He peered beyond the women to find Elena was getting it all on film. With a huge grin, he walked over to her, making sure his face stayed in view as he got closer and then hugged her until she squealed.
“Funny you should go in that direction,” Mother laughed. “Because we still have one more item before you can be truly ready to walk down the aisle.”
“Oh?” Dee asked.
Elena fumbled in her camera bag and produced a blue men's handkerchief. “Here you go. Something blue. And folded the right way, I think it would look wonderful with your suit and behind your boutonnière, don't you agree?” Dee looked down at the royal blue material and noticed the L-M initials embroidered on it.
“I most certainly agree, my dear lady,” Dee replied with a big grin. “Alrighty, I need to get my cufflinks on.” he glanced back at Obasan and smiled. “Then my pocket watch situated.” His look went to Mother. “And finally I need my hankie tucked in once I get my jacket on.” He smiled again at Elena. “Think we can handle that.”
“Yes,” came the reply from the four woman.
Barry laughed. He slapped Dee on the shoulder again. “Dude, I see you're in good hands for now. So I'll take that as my cue to finish dressing as well.”