ShaViva's Stargate Fan ... Stuff

Inconceivable!

Best Bachelor

Author: ShaViva

Rating: K

Content Warning: nothing really – maybe some mild swearing

Season: Set in January to March of 2000, just over three years before Enemy Mine.

Summary: What do you do when faced with the prospect of having to escort your sister down the aisle? In Evan Lorne's case pretty much anything she asks! Mostly fluff with just the barest hints of plot needed to bridge the gap between the end of Grand Tour and the beginning of the next story. Again, pure Lorne, AU background piece.

Classifications: Romance/General

Pairings: OC/OC

Spoilers for: None

Acknowledgements: Just my undying love of the internet, Wikipedia, Google, Google Maps, and the entire Stargate universe!

Disclaimer: The Stargate characters, storylines, etc aren’t mine. I am unfortunately not associated in any way with the creators, owners, or producers of Stargate or any of its media franchises – if I was Lorne would have been in A LOT more episodes. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, equipment, etc are the property of whoever owns them. The original characters and plot and anything else I made up are the property of me, the author. No copyright infringement is intended.

Copyright (c) 2009 ShaViva

Authors Note:

This story starts in January 2000 ... only 6 months after the end of Grand Tour.

oOo

Chapter 1: The lead up

Late January – two months to go ...

“I can’t believe I’m getting married,” Drew said.

Evan had heard the same words more than once over the last four weeks, enough to dull the edges of his own surprise. Not that he should have been surprised – he’d spent enough time with the couple in question since they’d gotten together to see which way the wind was blowing.

“I can’t believe you’re gonna make me dance,” he shot back. They were in the changing area of a popular clothing hire company in down town San Francisco – Evan was sitting in the seats reserved for ‘support cast’ while Drew tried on another suit.

“Don’t blame me for that one buddy,” his friend returned with a laugh, his voice muffled by the enclosed space of his cubicle. “That was all your sister's doing.”

“Yeah, but you went along with it,” Lorne pointed out.

“You know weddings ... they’re not for the groom,” Drew pulled back the curtain and stepped out, wearing a dark blue suit. “What about this one?”

“Don’t ask me!” Evan grimaced. “This is painful – you know that right?”

“Part of your job,” Drew said unrepentantly.

“Hey, I looked it up – nowhere does it say the best man will give advice on anything fashion related,” Lorne retorted. “Stag party, wedding day speech ... that’s the sum total of my involvement.

“I’m putting all of this under the category of ‘reassure the groom’,” Drew replied. “And don’t tell me that wasn’t listed as one of your jobs. Besides, you’re not just the best man ... you’re Elaine’s maid of honour too. I’m pretty sure fashion advice is number one on that list.”

“I’m NOT her maid of honour!” Evan protested, his face reddening slightly. “I’m her ... bachelor of honour ... and only because Sally can’t make it out here until the day before the wedding. What else could I do but agree to stand in?”

“Of course,” Drew grinned, amused.

It had been a month since Drew and Elaine had announced their engagement and asked Evan to play an important part. A month of Drew teasing his friend about his role as attendant to Elaine. And while Evan kept insisting it was only because Elaine’s best friend from school, Sally Conner, lived on the other side of the country and couldn’t get away, Drew knew better. Evan was right up there in Elaine’s most important people list ... she’d wanted her brother to stand with her regardless of the availability of any friends she had waiting in the wings to do the service. Drew couldn’t imagine standing up to get married without Evan beside him either. Rather than compete over who ‘got’ Evan the couple had agreed the only thing to do was have him stand up for both of them. It wasn’t traditional but it was what was in their hearts, and on one of the most important days of their lives that was the only thing that mattered.

“One thing’s for sure - you’re gonna be busy on the day,” Drew added. "Got lots of little tasks for you to do," he promised, dark eyes full of mirth.

“You're enjoying this too much,” Evan retorted. "You know that right?" He might be protesting but he didn’t mind all that much. Being a part of his sister’s joy, seeing his friend so happy, was worth any sacrifice to his manly image. He wouldn’t admit that to Drew of course, sure the other man was already exploiting his readiness to assist as much as he could.

“So – what do you think?” Drew stood back, holding out his arms as he looked at himself in the full length mirror.

“You’re a picture of male perfection,” Lorne said straight faced. “If you weren’t already engaged to my sister I’d want to jump you myself.”

“You’re full of shit,” Drew gave a bark of laughter after a second of stunned silence.

“The suit’s fine,” Evan got back to business. “But so were the four other versions you tried on. Tell me again why you can’t just wear your dress blues? Elaine said they didn’t match her colour scheme which I know was bullshit.”

“Elaine didn’t want to upset your Mom,” Drew admitted reluctantly, his eyes meeting Lorne’s in the mirror before he looked away.

Ah,” Evan nodded, understanding immediately. “I wondered. I don’t think she’d mind you know ... she still has wedding pictures up at home. I think you should talk to her about it.”

“Elaine dug her heels in – said it didn’t matter,” Drew shrugged. “I don’t mind wearing something else ... as long as I get to marry her it’s all good.”

“Okay, no need to get all touchy feely,” Evan smirked when it was Drew’s turn to redden in embarrassment. He looked at Drew dressed in the civilian suit and frowned, shaking his head. “This isn’t gonna work – it’s not you.”

"It's fine," Drew insisted.

Lorne sighed, rolling his eyes, knowing what he had to do. “Okay – I’ll talk to my Mom. You are so gonna owe me for all of this.”

“I know - thanks man,” Drew moved away from the mirror, slapping a hand to Evan’s shoulder before disappearing back into the cubicle.

As he did, Evan sat back, eyes suddenly narrowed.

Unbelievable!

He’d just been played ... by his sister and his best friend! Damn! Elaine has lost the ability to manipulate him – unless he let her – a long time ago, Drew too. But together they were an unknown quantity Lorne was still learning to deal with. Lesson number one clearly being to beware them separate teaming him using their concern for each other!

oOo

Drew was still stationed at Cold Lake, almost 3000 miles away from San Francisco. Elaine hadn’t moved there yet so their relationship had been conducted long distance and involved a lot of time spent on planes.

Evan was back on US soil ... he’d taken a position with Air Combat Command, headquartered at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia a month after returning from his trip around Europe. Langley was across the country even further away than Cold Lake but luckily for Evan, since the beginning of the year he’d been on loan to the Air Force Flight Test Centre at Edwards AFB. It was a three month project that couldn’t have come at a better time because it placed him only an hours flight away from his sister right when she most needed him easily available.

After a weekend spent on wedding crap – Evan’s words and only used when Elaine was out of the room – Drew returned to Canada. When it got closer to the date he’d be back more often but in the meantime it was up to Elaine, with Evan’s help, to keep everything progressing.

Evan waited a couple of days before realising he wasn’t going to get out of that difficult conversation he’d offered to have. He called his Mom, worked out pretty quickly that a phone conversation wasn’t going to cut it, and switched tack, inviting himself to dinner the following weekend. Of course that had his Mom suspicious before he’d even set foot in the house he’d lived in until he’s left for the academy.

“Not that I’m not thrilled to have my only son fly in for a visit two weekends in a row,” Grace Lorne began as soon as he sat down on the couch, “but this is an interesting surprise.”

“Ah ... I know,” Evan shifted uncomfortably, shot his Mom a quick glance and then looked away. That’s when his eyes lighted on the framed photo on the mantel. Jonathon Lorne, in full dress uniform standing with a proud smile beside a young Grace in a long, slim line wedding dress. “You looked good together,” Evan commented softly.

Turning to look where her son was looking Grace smiled, pleased that he’d volunteered a rare comment about his father. “We did,” she said simply.

Even after all these years her oldest child was too sensitive about the loss – protecting himself as well as her she knew. It had hit him hard at an age when he’d needed a fathers support and encouragement to pursue the life he’d chosen. Grace knew she’d let Evan down in that regard – failed to provide what Jonathon would have had he been around, to the point that Evan had long since given up on telling her about his career beyond where he was being posted next. Everything he’d achieved he’d done himself and that made her prouder than she’d ever told him.

Evan looked at the picture for a moment more before meeting his mother’s eyes. “Elaine and Drew look good together too,” he said casually.

Grace looked at the photo again and then back to Evan with a frown. “Is that why you’re here ... to talk about what they’re wearing?”

“In a way,” Evan admitted, sitting forward and taking his mother’s hands. “Elaine has Drew dressed up in a suit. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll still look great together but ...,” he trailed off, waiting for her to make the connection.

“But it’s not him,” Grace concluded.

If there was one thing that had surprised her it had been seeing her daughter falling for an air force officer. Evan took after his father one hundred percent - always had. As she’d watched Elaine making that journey towards the man she’d end up spending her life with Grace had realised for the first time how like herself Elaine was. Perhaps that was why her children got on so well together ... because the aspects of their personalities that had made Grace and Jonathon such a well matched couple also made Evan and Elaine’s sibling relationship strong. She saw it all the time but never more than at times like this, when Evan was forcing down his natural reticence in talking about his father to do something for his sister.

“No, it’s not,” Evan agreed. “He’s not a civilian and no matter how much we might still wish that Elaine had chosen an easier match he’s never going to be. Their wedding day should reflect who they both are.”

“Elaine thought it would upset me?” Grace asked, genuinely surprised. Where Evan had been a stone wall of non communication, Elaine had been a fountain, wanting to know everything about her father and Grace’s relationship with him. Elaine should have known Grace would be comfortable seeing her future son-in-law in his dress uniform.

“That’s what Drew said,” Evan narrowed his eyes again, not missing his mother’s genuine surprise as he let go of her hands. “Damn it!” he muttered, quickly looking up at his mother apologetically. “Sorry,” he said, shaking his head.

“What is it?” Grace asked curiously.

“She played me even better than I realised,” Evan admitted. “Her and Drew both did – she knew I’d come talk to you for her long before I’d ever do it for myself. Sneaky little -.”

Evan Lorne,” Grace warned before he could complete that sentence. He had the good sense to look a little contrite but the expression in his eyes made it clear Elaine had better beware his revenge. Grace sighed, knowing Elaine’s reasons applied to her just as much as they did to her son. “Elaine wanted us to talk,” she concluded.

“I guess,” Evan nodded. “We could not and tell her we did,” he suggested with a sudden grin. ‘If we refuse to give her the details it’ll drive her crazy.”

“Evan,” Grace’s tone had him looking apologetic again. “Elaine got you here because there are things we don’t talk about. Don’t you think that’s gone on long enough?”

“You’re actually gonna make me do this?” Evan struggled to keep the whining edge out of his voice.

“You’re 29,” Grace returned pointedly. “It’s been at least a decade since I could make you do anything.” She waited for a moment and then admitted “but I would like to say something, if you’re ready to listen.”

“Okay,” Evan met his mother’s eyes, trying to read the expression in them.

“I’m proud of you,” Grace began.

That wasn’t what he’d been expecting her to open with and it threw him. Those four words were like a direct conduit to the heart of him for so many reasons. For all the times he’d missed out on hearing them from a father who wasn’t there. For the times he’d spared his mother the requirement to be there for the milestone events in his life and then missed her presence desperately. For all the disappointments he’d dealt wth on his own – failing to get into NASA, John’s death, another NASA failure straight after. It surprised the hell out of him when his vision misted suddenly and he had to look away, swallowing back emotions too strong for the circumstances.

“I can see that I should have told you that a long time,” Grace said gently.

“It’s okay,” Evan said roughly. Clearing his throat he looked at the floor, frowning down at the familiar pattern in the carpet. How many times had he sat in exactly the same chair in his teens, listening to his mother urging him to pursue other things along with his flying lessons? She'd never told him not to fly, not to join up ... in fact his Mom had always encouraged him to go after what he wanted ... but always in general terms. It had been understood that she'd longed for him to pursue his art - to follow in her footsteps instead of his Dad's. Evan had always regretted disappointing her even though he couldn't have done anything else.

“It’s not!” Grace said firmly. “You’ve turned into such a strong and capable man I hardly recognise you sometimes. I know now that I let my need to keep you safe cloud my vision – if I’d looked at you with the same eyes I used on Elaine I’d have realised something a long time ago. You’re doing exactly what you were meant to do. I’m proud of you,” she said again, firmly. “And your father would have been too. He wanted nothing more than for you to love flying as much as he did. I know it because he talked about his dreams for you while you were still in the womb.”

“God Mom,” Evan protested, finally looking up. The emotions he was struggling to contain made the blue of his eyes stand out intensely. “What are you trying to do to me? I’m okay with all of this – I don’t need you to -,”

“You might not think you do,” Grace protested, “and that’s my failure as well. I’m sorry I made you feel like you had to keep part of yourself separate from me. I don’t want you to do that anymore ... I want to get to know my son again, all of him.”

Evan swallowed hard, closer to losing it than he’d been in a long time ... since the night Elaine had joined him in St Petersburg. He didn’t say anything ... he couldn’t ... he just looked his Mom, his eyes tortured.

But he didn’t need to. Grace took his hands and he let himself be pulled towards her. On his knees, with his mother’s arms around him, he rested his head on her shoulder and let himself shed tears in front of her for the first time since he was ten.

It wasn’t for long, only a few moments before he remembered he was a grown man and too manly masculine to be weeping on anyone’s shoulder, let alone his mother’s. Sitting back on his heels he rubbed hands roughly over his face, taking the evidence away. “Enough,” he said firmly, rocking back to his feet and retaking his seat.

“It’ll be enough when you agree to stop protecting me,” Grace insisted firmly. “It’s been a long time Evan. I’ll never forget your father ... never stop worrying about the dangerous job you’ve signed up for ... but you don’t need to hide all things military from me anymore.”

“Okay – I get it,” Evan replied impatiently. “I’ll stop filtering all the military references ... hell, I’ll even wear my uniform home occasionally if it makes you happy. Okay?”

“There’s no need to get smart with me young man,” Grace’s tone wiped away the mature man facade and had him feeling like he had as a child when he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have.

“Sorry,” he muttered apologetically.

“That’s better,” Grace held her smile in with difficulty. “Now, when are you going to find yourself a nice girl and settle down?”

Mom!”

oOo

“Did you talk to Mom?” Elaine asked when he met her for lunch the next day.

“Yeah,” Evan put a hesitant look on. “Listen, about that ... I really tried Sis but Mom was pretty clear. It looks like Drew will have to stick with the suit.”

“What?” Elaine’s eyes bulged she was so surprised. “I thought ...,” she trailed off awkwardly.

“I know exactly what you thought!” Evan abruptly shifted moods. “You used your future husband to manipulate me and Mom because you decided you knew better than we did what we needed!”

“You’re angry,” Elaine said in a small voice.

“You're damn right I'm angry ... or at least I was,” Evan relented. “Until I realised you were right.”

What?” for once Elaine couldn’t keep up with the twists and turns of her brother’s mind. “Can you repeat that because I thought you said I was right?”

“I did – you were right,” Evan repeated. “Don’t let it go to your head though. If you ever try something like that again I’ll put you over my knee and spank you like Mom should have done years ago.”

“Drew wouldn’t let you,” Elaine was smiling now, pleased with herself.

“Hah,” Evan scoffed. “He might be bigger but I’m meaner ... I just hide it better than he does.”

“So – you and Mom talked?” Elaine ignored his implied threat.

“We did,” Evan admitted. “She surprised the hell out of me Lainee ... said she was proud of me of all things.”

“I’ve told you she felt that way plenty of times,” Elaine reminded him.

“Yeah but it’s a lot different coming straight from her,” Evan sighed. “She thinks she failed me somehow ... how do I convince her I don’t feel the same way?”

“You can’t,” Elaine said evenly. “These are her demons Evan, just like you have yours. Now you’re each aware of them, in time they won’t seem as important.”

“Look at you, suddenly all wise and mature – must be Drew’s influence,” Evan smiled at her affronted expression.

“Hey!” she protested. “He’s almost as big a kid as you are!”

“For that I’m not helping you pick out shoes,” Evan said, folding his arms across his chest mutinously.

“Yes you are,” Elaine opened her diary, pulling out a single sheet. Putting it in front of him she pointed to a highlighted line.

The maid of honour will help the bride choose her attire for the big day, including dress, shoes and accessories,” Evan read aloud. “I can’t believe you had this prepared ... and for the last time, I’m not your maid of honour,” he said irritably.

“Well I couldn’t find a list of duties for a bachelor of honour so this is what I’m working to,” Elaine smiled smugly. “You agreed which means you’re stuck ... unless you’re going to renege?”

“You know I’m not,” Evan sighed, his expression long suffering.

“We’re only doing shoes and accessories anyway,” Elaine pointed out. “Mom and I are going dress shopping later in the week.”

“Lucky me,” Evan muttered. “Okay, fine ... but you get two shops max. If you don’t find something you like I’m choosing everything for you. I think we can both agree that that would be a bad idea.”

“Deal,” Elaine got up, moving to hug her brother close, kissing his cheek repeatedly.

“All right, all right,” he laughed, trying to fend her off. “I already said I’d do it didn’t I? Don’t make me regret that.”

Elaine laughed too, giving him one more kiss and then deliberately mussing his hair. Inside she was just so happy ... that her two favourite people, after Drew of course, were finally talking about the important things, and just because Evan was her brother and she couldn’t be more thankful for that fact.

oOo

Late February – one month to go ...

“Did you find a date yet?” Drew asked, his hand over Elaine’s as they sat in the restaurant they’d be using for the wedding rehearsal dinner. Evan had arranged it for them and the three were trying it out, just to make sure the happy couple approved his choice.

“You make it sound like I’m going to stumble across one on the way to work,” Evan joked.

“At the rate you’re going you better hope you do,” Drew shot back.

“At date isn’t mandatory,” Evan pointed out a little impatiently ... it wasn’t the first conversation they’d had about the subject. “And I’m already locked into at least one dance,” he added, referring to the traditional bridal party dance that would take place at the beginning of the reception festivities. He’d be dancing with Sally Connor before thankfully handing her over to her husband for the remainder of the event.

“A wedding isn’t the place to go stag,” Drew looked to Elaine to get her agreement.

“Drew’s right,” Elaine dutifully pipped up. “I don’t want you feeling lonely or left out on my big day.”

“I won’t,” Evan insisted. “According to the lists you’ve both been giving me I won’t have time to feel anything other than rushed. I really should have thought harder before agreeing to ‘be there’ for both of you.”

“I’m glad you didn’t,” Elaine said. “I couldn’t imagine doing this any other way.”

“We just want you to be as happy as we are,” Drew smiled down at Elaine.

“Oh please, you’re killing me here,” Evan laughed when Drew shot him a warning look. “I’m not bringing anyone and that’s final. Now shut up and enjoy your practice rehearsal dinner.”

“Did you know Steph Riley was in town?” Drew dropped what he thought was a bombshell into the resulting silence.

“As a matter of fact I did,” Evan said complacently. “I had lunch with her yesterday ... her and her fiancé. You’re gonna have to do much better than that if you want to catch me off guard buddy.”

“You kept in touch,” Drew concluded, surprised that Evan knew more about the situation than he did.

“Yeah ... when I got back from Spain I called her,” Evan admitted. “We talked ... agreed we’d done the right thing ... ended up being friends. She’s happy Drew ... and not carrying a torch for me, despite what you were hoping.”

“What about you?” Drew asked quietly.

“Am I carrying a torch for her?” Evan clarified. Drew nodded silently. “Maybe I was for a while there,” Evan admitted, “which is ridiculous given I was the one who ended it. But seeing her yesterday I realised its all good. So you can stop worrying about me ... and stop trying to hook me up.”

“Fine,” Drew looked at Elaine and shrugged.

“We still think you should consider bringing someone to the wedding,” Elaine admitted.

“Unless I stumble across Ms Right on the way to the church it's not gonna happen,” Evan said sarcastically. “Can we drop it now, please? Because talking about my love life with my sister and former best friend soon to be brother-in-law is seriously disturbing!”

“What, I can’t be a best friend and brother as well?” Drew frowned, surprised.

“Not if it turns you into a gossipy girl,” Evan retorted, laughing and noting that Elaine looked close to laughing herself.

“What, you’re ganging up on me now?” Drew mock glared at his future wife.

“Of course not dear,” Elaine said loyally while Evan continued to laugh.

oOo

Late March – 24 hours to go ...

Evan hadn’t been closely involved in the wedding process before ... after being submerged up to his eyeballs in his sister’s big day the thing that most surprised him was the nature of time. When they’d announced their wedding date – March 25th – Lorne had wondered why they needed so long. Those almost three months had seemed endless at the beginning.

But then something curious had happened. Time had actually sped up, Evan was sure of it. It was some kind of space time continuity thing like he’d seen on Star Trek. He thought he had plenty of time for that list of duties they’d insisted he must do but the weeks passed rapidly and in the end he was rushing to organise a stag night, bachelorette party (which he'd flat out refused to attend on the grounds that it would scar him for life) and all the other minor but seemingly crucial details Elaine and Drew considered essential.

In the end he was looking forward to the wedding day just because it meant the day after he could put his feet up and get his own life back.

The night before the wedding, rehearsals and preparations all complete, Elaine insisted that Evan had to stay at their family home with her and their Mom. Drew was primarily getting his services as best man the following morning so Elaine had firmly claimed him for the night before.

Evan had a week’s leave from Edwards AFB so there was no reason for him not to grant her wish. It was strange though, the three of them together again after so many years. As he stretched out on one of the couches in his Mom’s living room late in the evening he admitted to himself, deep down, that it was nice.

“This is nice,” Elaine echoed his thoughts. She was sitting on the adjacent couch with their Mom, her feet tucked up under her, hot chocolate in hand, her face lit by the fire burning brightly in the fireplace.

“It does bring back memories,” Grace agreed with a smile. The two women looked over at Evan with matching looks.

“What?” he demanded, frowning.

“Nothing dear,” Grace replied gently.

“You’re the one who left,” Elaine pointed out. “Apart from college the first time this is the only place I’ve lived.”

“The air force isn’t the job for someone who wants to stay at home,” Evan reminded her. “But you already know that right?”

“Yes, and every day Drew’s away from home I’ll be there, making sure he has something to come back to,” Elaine said complacently.

“Then he’s a lucky guy,” Evan returned simply.

“You could be too,” Elaine said, her eyes meeting her mother’s gaze before returning to him. “If you considered it a possibility you could have someone waiting for you.”

“This is your night Lainee,” Evan said evenly. “Let’s not talk about me, okay?”

“No, it’s not okay,” Elaine would have stamped her foot if she’d been standing. “It’s not okay for you to close yourself off from relationships Evan. You told Drew that you wanted more for me than a life spent waiting for him to come home. I want more for you than a life where you don’t even have a home!”

“The air force is my home, first and foremost,” Evan sat up, leaning forward, his eyes intent. It was the one thing he’d learned above all others on his trek across Europe. He’d forgotten their mother was there too, listening quietly, so intent was he on getting his point across to his sister. “I don’t expect you to understand that Elaine ... you’re a woman, it’s different for you.”

“What, because I’m not ‘the provider’?” Elaine asked sarcastically. “That’s just an excuse ... it’s all an excuse Evan. I’m not saying you’re not worried about leaving a family behind if something happens to you but it’s more than that. You’re scared of loving someone and losing them just as much as you are of them losing you. You've been that way for so long now you don't even know you're doing it anymore!”

"Now isn't the time for conversations like this,” Evan said, getting up abruptly. “I’m going to bed,” he offered lightly, leaning down to kiss his Mom and then Elaine. “Don’t stay up too late,” he cautioned before taking his leave.

Elaine watched him disappear, her expression troubled.

“He’s not ready,” Grace told her daughter, accepting what she knew to be true.

“No,” Elaine agreed sadly. “At this rate he never will be and that worries me Mom. He gives a good act but Evan’s not the type to be alone like this. He needs someone who’ll understand him.”

“And maybe one day he’ll work that out for himself and be lucky enough to find it,” Grace agreed. “And maybe he won’t. It’s his life Elaine ... and he’s been running it his way for a very long time.”

“I know,” Elaine shifted, dropping her head to her Mother’s shoulder. “Do you ever wonder what things would be like if Dad were still here?” she asked quietly.

“All the time,” Grace replied, stroking a light hand over her daughter's hair, “but especially at times like this.”

“Me too,” Elaine sighed. “Me too.” She sat for a few moments and then got up too. “I’m going to call Drew,” she announced, pressing a kiss to her mother's cheek before grabbing her phone and disappearing down the hallway.

Grace Lorne sat for a time, watching the fire burn down to embers, lost in her thoughts.

“How did we produce two such strong willed children?” she spoke softly into the quiet, her eyes on the photo of Jonathon Lorne that still held centre place above the fireplace.

Deciding she might as well go to bed too, Grace got up and moved to stand in front of that picture, reaching out a finger to trace the familiar outline, so similar to her son’s. “I still miss you,” she said, not sadly but rather accepting it as a fact of life that would never change. Standing for another moment, Grace Lorne smiled as she turned to leave the room, switching the lights off as she went.

 

Chapter 2: The Big Day

Saturday, March 25th ...

The complicated logistics of being both best man and bachelor of honour when neither bride nor groom was allowed in the other’s presence until the main event wasn’t lost on Evan. He spent the morning of the wedding in hour long chunks, staying with Drew but checking in regularly with his sister. Elaine had their Mom and her friends helping her get ready, a fact that sent relief coursing through Evan. His job was simply to make sure everything around her was moving smoothly and that she had everything she needed. He did make a couple trips between venues ... glad that he’d insisted Drew find somewhere close by to spend his last night as an unmarried man just to cut down on travel time.

Finally it was time to proceed to the church, Evan riding with Drew while his Mom made the journey with the bride and the rest of the bridal party.

oOo

“You ready for this?” Evan asked, standing at the altar next to his friend. Both were wearing their dress blues and made an impressive picture that had more than one matron in the audience sighing wistfully. Drew as 'the groom' was a surprise to Lorne ... the other man unsettled in a way that Evan didn't think he'd ever seen before. It wasn't nerves or cold feet or anything like that ... Drew's core of confidence, the surety he always projected was there in spades. If Evan were asked to put a label on the other man's emotions he'd have to go with impatient ... Drew was looking forward to getting married but at the same time he really wanted it to be done and dusted.

“I am so ready you have no idea,” Drew replied. “If you ever decide to go down this road, elope,” he added. “Much easier on the nerves, not to mention a hell of a lot faster.”

“You’ll be fine,” Evan went into ‘reassure the groom’ mode with an amused half smile.

“Have you got everything?” Drew double checked.

“For the tenth time yes,” Evan returned impatiently. “If I ever lose my mind and decide to get married and I start acting like you are you have full permission to put me out of my misery.”

“I hope to God one day I get to make you eat those words buddy,” Drew shot back with a laugh.

The sound of the horn honking from outside the church was Evan’s cue to move things along. “Okay – I gotta go do the escort thing,” he told his friend. Holding out a hand the two friends shook hands, Evan slapping a hand to Drew’s back fondly. “Remember what I said,” he told Drew seriously, stepping back.

“What was that?” Drew frowned, confused.

“Be good to my sister,” Evan replied, a hint of mischief in his eyes as he continued. “Because if you ever hurt her I’ll hunt you down and make you regret it for the rest of your life.”

“Oh right ... that,” Drew laughed. “She’s safe with me,” he said simply.

“I know,” Evan turned to see his Mom waiting impatiently down at the end of the aisle. “Gotta go,” he said again. “Don’t go anywhere.”

Laughing, Drew watched his friend striding down the aisle oblivious to all the looks he was getting. Taking a deep breath, he kept his eyes locked on that spot, waiting for his first sight of Elaine.

oOo

The ceremony itself passed in a blur ... only key moments standing out in Evan’s mind.

The walk down the aisle beside his sister ... the place a father would have taken. His sister’s radiant smile when she saw the look on Drew’s face as she walked closer. How the two looked together ... both dark haired, Drew's height making Elaine look almost fragile, the sheen of tears darkening her brown eyes to match his.

The look on his mother’s face and the tears in her eyes ... joyful tears ... wistful too as she probably recalled when it had been her walking down the aisle to the side of a man in uniform.

The priest asking who was giving away the bride and Evan’s sudden irrational irritation at the wording ... ‘giving away’ suggested a careless disregard in his eyes, like they were glad to be rid of her. He almost understood the concept of a bride price - if it could reflect how much Elaine meant to him he’d see Drew paying a record price to marry his sister.

When the priest proclaimed the two a married couple Evan was hit with the knowledge that Elaine had gone from being his sister to being Drew’s wife. He didn't have time to reflect on that though ... all the moments of his sister's wedding ceremony moving steadily forward so that before Evan knew it he was following Drew and Elaine back down the aisle with Sally Connor at his side, amidst a sea of well wishers eager to congratulate the newlyweds.

And that was the most lasting memory of all ... watching Elaine and Drew greet the world proudly, openly thrilled that they were husband and wife. Elaine glanced back at Evan, beaming happiness, eager to share that feeling with her brother. He smiled back, nodding to the man beside her, his unspoken words clear. It was time for her to put her focus on her chosen path – just as Evan had always put his focus on his.

oOo

“When Drew and Elaine asked me to fulfil a dual role at their wedding they sold the deal by telling me it would be mostly turning up on the day and saying a few words.” Evan was standing beside his sister at the bridal table, giving his best man/bachelor of honour combined speech to a crowd of 100 friends and family. Elaine and Drew had decided to break tradition there as well ... perhaps because there was no father of the bride present to open the formal portion of the reception. Evan was giving his speech first. Drew would then finish with anything Evan couldn’t cover.

“Turns out it was a hell of a lot more involved than that. One word ... shopping,” Evan mock shuddered, sending the male half and a fair number of the female half of the guests into laughter. He waited a moment and then continued. “But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The chance to see both sides of the story ... the easy way my sister pulled Drew into her various plots – him going the extra mile to make sure every minute detail was exactly as she wanted it ... how effortlessly this entire thing came together ...,” he grinned down at Elaine. “If I wasn’t already convinced Drew and Elaine belong together that would have done the trick.”

There was a smattering of clapping and ‘here here’s before Evan continued. “This is the part where the best man would normally pull out an embarrassing story about the groom ... but I’m not gonna do that. I get the feeling I’ll need all the ‘material’ I can get in the years to come. For those of you who don’t know my sister, Elaine has very definite opinions and she’d not shy in expressing them. Drew’s a bit more subtle but I can already see her influence on him.”

“I can’t help it if you’re too stubborn to know what’s good for you,” Elaine piped up teasingly.

“But you will,” Evan smirked slightly as he looked at her, “otherwise I’ll tell everyone here, including your new husband, about your junior prom.” He waited for her to gulp back a protest, grinning the whole while, before turning to face the room again. “See – I need all the help I can get!”

More laughter followed before Evan returned to the task at hand. “Elaine and Drew know the high regard I hold them both in. I don’t think an occasion like this is about telling them that ... but it is about showing it through what I’m willing to say in front of a hundred people.” He turned to Elaine. “I have so many memories of you as a scrawny little girl with plaits and too much interest in what your big brother was up to that it's hard sometimes to see you for the beautiful, accomplished, confident woman you are. You’ve got the best qualities of both Mom and Dad ... that genuine caring for everyone around you, the guts to admit when you’re wrong and the determination to stick with it when you’re right. Bucket loads of talent too, along with the need to use it, to show everyone what you can do. You’re not afraid to face the hard stuff head on ... but you never made me feel bad all the times when I was ... when I still am. I’m proud of you ... proud to be your brother.”

Elaine’s eyes swam with tears as she listened to Evan speak, sparing Drew a trembling smile when he put a hand over hers as if silently agreeing with everything her brother was saying.

“Drew ...,” Evan looked at his friend with a grin. “Our friendship clicked from that first day at fighter school. I don’t know if that was because of all the things we have in common or the fact that I felt sorry for you because of your deluded view on the relative merits of Canada versus the U.S.” He chuckled when Drew rolled his eyes before turning serious. “You don’t pull your punches either ... you give everything you do one hundred percent of your focus ... you’re scary capable, and I couldn’t imagine a situation where you wouldn’t succeed at something you wanted. You’ve had me facing my demons but you’ve also been there before I even knew I needed you. I could say I’ve gained a brother today but we both know you’ve been that for a long time. I know I’ve joked about it, but it is easy to trust my sister’s future happiness to you.”

Drew glanced at Elaine and then back to Evan with a nod, silently reaffirming that trust as being warranted.

“I don’t need to say this either but I will,” Evan concluded. “I love you both ... if there’s ever a time in the future when the two of you together isn’t enough to get you where you need to be, I’m there.” He turned back to the room. “And so I’d like to ask you all to raise your glasses,” Evan held his own glass up, waiting for the room to settle again as everyone followed suit. “To Elaine and Drew ... the best example of the adage that together we can be stronger than the sum of our parts.”

He took a swallow from his glass and then sat down, happy to have another official duty completed.

“Evan,” he looked up to see Elaine holding out her glass expectantly. Smiling, Evan clinked his glass lightly to hers, doing the same with Drew as well. The three drank ... it was a strangely formal moment that seemed to signify the feeling of the occasion for all of them.

“My turn,” Drew stood, the action alone enough to have the room falling silent again. After thanking Evan for his words and toast, Drew quickly moved through the formalities – thank you’s to his Mom and Dad and Elaine’s Mom, and then to all their guests, especially his side who’d travelled from all over Canada to get there, and finally telegrams from people who hadn’t been able to attend. He did the obligatory thank you to their bridal party too, thanking Elaine’s friend Sally and Evan again for being a part of their day.

“Finally, I have to thank Elaine,” Drew began. “Getting married is a commitment with far reaching consequences, particularly when you add in children as we intend to. Its serious stuff no matter who you marry, but I think even more so when you agree to mesh your life with someone in military service. You do that and you’re signing up for a front row seat for every military conflict in the world – it’s not a comfortable seat either. You’ll know more than you want to but not enough when it comes to your loved one. There’ll be months of separation and times when you won’t even know where your partner is, let alone if they’re okay. Elaine understands the risks, more than most. I don’t have the words to express how it feels to know that she’s fully committed to us under those circumstances.” Turning to his wife he held up his glass, his eyes solemn and serious as he toasted her. “To Elaine ...,” he said simply, taking a drink.

Evan took a drink too, his eyes on his sister as she drank some of her champagne before jumping up. His grinned when she threw her arms around her husband, kissing him soundly as everyone cheered. When she didn’t sit down, whispering something in Drew's ear that had him nodding and taking his seat, Evan’s eyes narrowed with interest. Clearly she was going to say something herself – that hadn’t been in the plan.

“I wasn’t going to get up,” Elaine began, “but what else can a girl do in the face of so many compliments but return the favour?” She grinned, looking first at her brother. “I admit when Evan agreed to be my maid of honour -,”

Bachelor!” Evan insisted loudly.

“Right, bachelor of honour,” Elaine corrected teasingly. “When Evan agreed I did exploit it just a little – the chance to see my usually unflappable big brother plastering a tolerant look on his face while I tried on every shoe in the shop was just too much to resist. He didn’t protest ... in fact he made the time when Drew was in Canada these past three months easier to bear. I think everyone here would agree I’m lucky to have him.” She reached over and ruffled Evan’s hair before he ducked away, flushing slightly.

“What I really wanted to say is in response to my husband’s words,” she paused, doing a little excited wiggle. "My husband – that’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?” Around the room people were smiling, drawn into her enthusiasm and honestly shared emotions. “Where was I? Oh right, my husband’s words. He might feel lucky, grateful, whatever word you want to use ... he might feel that way to have me but the feeling is more than mutual. Sure, being a military wife isn’t going to be easy ... I know there’ll be times when I’ll just want to sit down and cry because Drew isn’t with me – but that sacrifice is worth it.” She looked at both Drew and Evan then, her expression earnest.

“These men are dedicated, loyal, special because of who they are and what they’ve chosen to dedicate their lives to. They’ve got purpose ... what they do is important to every person in this room, even though most of us will never know the services performed on our behalf. They deserve to have something to fight for – a home, family, people who love them,” her eyes met Evan’s for a moment before she looked away. “The fact that I can be all that for Drew, that he sees a place for me makes me so happy I know it will carry us forward into the distant future ... together. So, in keeping with the toasts so far, I’d just like to raise my glass ... to all the service men and women, but especially to my brother Evan, and to my husband Drew.” She smiled, taking a sip from her glass and then sitting down again.

There was a moment of silence as the rest of the room did the same. Drew then called out in a loud voice for everyone to enjoy desserts before they moved on to the dancing portion of the evening. The noise level picked up again, creating an oasis of privacy at the wedding table.

“Nice speech Sis,” Evan said after the newlyweds had expressed their appreciation of the others words with a too blatant in his opinion public display of affection. Sally nodded, smiling as she murmured something to Elaine before getting up to sit with her husband at a nearby table.

“You both deserve it,” Elaine said simply. “That was really sweet too – what you said,” she leaned in closer, taking Evan’s arm. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it,” Evan retorted uncomfortably. “It’s a once only deal.”

“Right,” Elaine laughed. “You can’t fool me big brother ... beneath that serious facade is the heart of a romantic ... and now everyone in this room knows it too.”

“She’s right,” Drew added before Evan could reply. “Get ready to be in demand buddy ... if you had a dance card they’d be lining up to fill it right now.”

“Oh you’ve gotta be kidding me!” Evan looked from Elaine to Drew and back again. “You’re serious?”

“We really need to sit him down and explain the facts of life,” Drew told Elaine conversationally.

“We do,” Elaine agreed, hiding a smile. “Then he’d know that a good looking air force pilot in dress uniform who can talk like he did is a hot commodity – anywhere but particularly at a wedding where every single woman in the room is busy imagining her own wedding.”

“That’s just plain cruel,” Evan told them both, his expression pained.

“It’s the truth,” Elaine said sincerely.

“Maybe,” Evan shrugged modestly. “Doesn’t matter either way. You’ve spoiled my fun now ... even if I wanted to dance with someone I won’t be able to approach any of the women here without thinking about their ‘intentions’!”

“See – you should have brought a date,” Drew’s face had ‘I told you so!’ written all over it. “Then you wouldn’t have a problem.” He looked up, seeing his cousin Anna approaching their table. “Here comes the first candidate now,” he gestured forward with his head.

Evan looked up and then quickly away. “I’ll just ...,” he got up, leaning down to kiss Elaine’s cheek before quickly moving away, heading in the direction of where his Mom was sitting.

“That was cruel,” Elaine told Drew. “Especially since Anna’s already married."

“I know,” Drew’s eyebrow rose as he looked at his new wife. “Pretty funny though,” he added, the twinkling mischief in his eyes drawing a reluctant laugh from Elaine.

oOo

“Are you hiding back here?” Marcus Price asked curiously.

Evan had been sitting at what he’d dubbed ‘the rookie’ table for fifteen minutes so far, content to watch the proceedings from the relatively secluded location.

“Not exactly,” he told Marcus. “Elaine said something ... embarrassing enough I’m not repeating it ... that had me thinking a little distance from the eye of the storm was the smart thing to do. Besides, it feels like ages since we've all been together like this.”

“What, you mean since last week?” Neil joked. The boys had all attended Drew’s stag night at a club near Cold Lake air force base – Evan deciding it made more sense for him to fly over to Canada than have everyone come to the States early. They’d all flown in for the wedding of course, Drew deciding himself that since Elaine was moving to Canada after the wedding the event itself should be held on her home soil.

“No,” Lorne rolled his eyes. “I meant since we had a chance to catch up ... without people yelling and music blaring. It’s been almost a year.”

Evan didn’t have to remind everyone of what had drawn them together that time. John’s funeral. Their absent friend was on everyone’s minds, like an empty place at the table that couldn’t be filled. As he looked around at the friends he’d made during fighter pilot training, Evan marvelled again at the changes in some of them.

Marcus being the biggest of them all. He’d done what he’d threatened to do back at Cold Lake when he’d announced he was leaving the training program early – gotten a commercial pilot’s licence. He’d turned into a responsible, settled man – with a predictable job for a major airline, a wife and a baby on the way. He was flying solo for Drew’s wedding only because his wife was too close to her delivery date to travel by plane.

Cade Boston was another surprise ... Evan had been sure the youngest of their group would need to be pried from the cockpit of an active fighting wing but instead he’d ended up back in Cold Lake – training new pilots to do what he’d done for two years. That he’d made the change after John’s accident was a fact not lost on Evan. Something like that did make you re-evaluate your priorities.

Paul Merlin had never been given that second chance at fighter pilot school ... still with the Canadian air force he’d specialised in search and rescue – another fact that had John’s influence stamped all over it. He too had married in the two years since Cold Lake, his wife Kate accompanying him to the wedding, her expression one of enlightenment, like she was busily putting faces into all the stories Paul had told her.

In fact the only one of them, apart from Drew himself, to still hold a permanent seat in a fighting wing was Neil Somerton. And that was a surprise in itself – that the sunniest of them all was the one to still be doing the grimmest of jobs. Or maybe not – maybe it was Neil’s positive attitude that made the difference, that gave him what he needed to keep going up there, knowing the risks, the importance and the consequences. Neil’s girlfriend Sarah and Paul’s wife had hit it off straight away, the two quickly doing that female clique thing. Right then they were up at the bridal table talking with Elaine, the three women laughing too often, casting frequent glances back at the pilot’s table and laughing even more. Evan had no wish to know what they were talking about ... in fact he was pretty sure he was better off not knowing.

It did leave the boys free to reminisce without an audience ... and to catch up on the details of what they’d each been doing for the previous ten months, the stuff you didn't put in an email or talk about over the phone.

“What about you Evan?” Neil asked curiously after everyone else had given their update and answered the resulting questions. “I always meant to ask if you ever reapplied to NASA.”

“I did,” Evan shrugged. “That’s a ship that’s sailed without me.”

“Sorry man,” Paul said sympathetically. “They don’t know what they’re missing.”

“Thanks,” Evan smiled at the show of loyalty. “It’s okay ... ,”

“So, what have they got you doing these days?” Marcus asked curiously.

“More aircraft testing,” Evan replied. “After NASA knocked me back again I had to re-evaluate my career plan. Decided if I couldn’t go up in space I’d go for being in charge of something instead. That's why I transferred to Langley late last year ... to get a posting with Air Combat Command at Langley - strategic air defence deployment – while I do some more study.”

“You never mentioned that,” Neil looked interested. “What are you studying?”

“Geology,” Evan shrugged when the others looked surprised. “Doesn’t really matter what I study as long as I get a Masters in something. Without it there’s little chance I’ll get promoted high enough to get command of anything interesting.”

"I thought you hated exams?" Paul commented with a chuckle, remembering back to the first months at fighter school.

"I do!" Evan laughed. "Seems like I can't avoid it though."

“Why geology?” Marcus queried curiously.

“You get a different view of the world from the air," Evan began, getting a few nods of understanding at his words. "I don't know why but the ground ... the neatness, the structure of it, what made it look that way ... it interests me. Plus I like drawing which is an advantage, at least it has been in the first three months. Mix in a little military history, some command classes ... should be enough to get me over the line, on paper anyway. It’s gonna take probably eighteen months to finish but it’ll be worth it – hopefully.”

“I like it,” Neil smiled. “You said you were doing aircraft testing though?”

“Yeah, at Edwards AFB this time,” Evan nodded. “When NASA calls you personally and asks you to help them test upgrades for the F-18 you don’t say no. Not that I’d want to – flying like that is brilliant – not as good as a strafing run on an enemy tank but pretty close. Got another few weeks of that before I head back to Virginia.”

“You think you’ll go back to active fighter duty?” Cade asked.

“If they ask me to, sure,” Evan agreed. “Of course if they do it’ll mean something serious is going down somewhere. It’d be bad form to hope for something like that to happen.”

“True,” Cade agreed.

“You?” Evan returned the question.

“If they need me I’m there,” Cade said simply. “But like you I hope they don’t.”

“You’d get plenty of time in the air,” Neil said to Cade. “Probably more than most of us.”

“Especially Lorne,” Paul nodded to Evan. “Aren’t you in the wrong branch of the military to be an F-18 pilot?”

“Pretty much,” Evan replied ruefully. “Navy fly the F-18 almost exclusively, at least on U.S. soil during peace time. That’s next on my list – I’m doing a transitional training program for the F-16 later in the year – so I can reintegrate into the standard deployment strategy for the air force.”

“Sounds like you’re gonna be pretty busy then,” Marcus said easily. “When do you find time for a social life in that?”

“I don’t,” Evan grinned over at Cade. “We’re upholding the bachelor ideal here buddy. It’s a crappy job but someone has to do it, right?”

“Yeah,” Cade laughed when the other's booed them. “That it is.”

“How did the last batch of recruits do?” Evan asked Cade once the others had stopped ribbing them.

“No one’s beaten your record,” Cade grinned, referring to Evan’s combined strafing and bombing score – the one that had earned him the top gun award for their course. “Not even close!”

“I wasn’t worried about that,” Evan laughed when Cade put on a disbelieving look.

“Sure you weren’t,” Cade returned with just the right amount of scepticism.

Evan probably would have been in for more ribbing but for the return of Sarah and Kate with the news that Elaine and Drew were ready to do the cake. After that the seated portion of the reception would be over, meaning the bridal dance was fast approaching. Bidding his friends farewell Evan went back to his best man bachelor of honour duties.

oOo

It wasn’t that bad in the end. Evan had complained about having to do a formal dance but that wasn’t because he couldn’t dance. While still under his mother’s roof she’d insisted on lessons, citing it as part of a well rounded education. Evan had been so stubborn about flying lessons, going as far as paying for them with whatever part time jobs he could get, that those dance lessons had seemed like an acceptable trade off. Do that for her while he did the flying for himself and make everybody happy. It hadn't achieved that but his mother had been right – Evan had never felt nervous at the various formal events he’d had to attend at the academy and after. It was also a kick to get that surprised look from a partner when they realised that not only could you dance but that you were actually pretty good at it.

No, he didn’t object to dancing as a general rule. He just wasn’t that keen on doing it with a room full of people watching and a partner not of his choosing. Luckily Sally was a gracious and good natured woman who made it easy for Evan to navigate his way through the one dance required of them. As soon as it was over he thanked Sally and moved to ask Drew’s mother to dance while Drew danced with his Mom and Elaine danced with Drew’s father, the floor quickly filling with other couples as well.

Elaine and Drew then reunited while Evan held out a hand to his Mom, pulling her close and then twirling her out with a flourish that had her laughing with delight.

They danced in silence for a while before Evan spoke, his voice low but easily heard. “Why didn’t you ever remarry?” he asked as he guided his mother around the outskirts of the dance floor.

“I never met the right person,” Grace replied. She sighed and then spoke again. “No – that’s not true. I wasn’t open to meeting anyone for a long time ... by the time I was ready to even consider it that part of my life had passed me by.”

“I’m sorry,” Evan hugged her closer for a moment, refraining from pointing out that she was still an attractive woman, that it was never too late, knowing she'd tell him not to be so ridiculous.

“Don’t be,” Grace insisted. “Just don’t make the same mistakes I made Evan ... time isn’t a limitless commodity. You’re not a man who should spend his whole life alone.”

Mom,” Evan protested, frowning down at her.

“Just promise me you’ll think about it,” Grace persisted, “allow for the possibility at least.”

“Fine – I’ll think about it,” Evan agreed reluctantly. “Happy now?”

“I’m getting there,” Grace said, her eyes on Elaine and Drew dancing close by, oblivious to anything but each other.

oOo

“Was it what you hoped for?” Evan asked Elaine, the siblings dancing together while Drew danced with their Mom.

 

“More than,” Elaine said simply. “A dream ... the kind you cry to wake up from.”

“I’m glad,” Evan said simply, hugging her tight.

"I'm sorry about last night," Elaine said softly a few moments later. "You were right - it wasn't the time to talk about that."

"It's okay," Evan excused lightly. "I know you're so overflowingly happy right now that you want to spread it around. There's nothing wrong with that Elaine ... it's just not what I need right now."

"I know," Elaine acknowledged. "I knew as soon as I said it that I should have just let it rest. I just ....," she trailed off, took a deep breath and then continued. "I just want my big brother to be as happy as I am."

"I don't think anyone could top that Sis," Evan smiled teasingly. "But I'm happy enough ... just trust me on that, okay?"

"Okay," Elaine agreed. "But if you ever change your mind I know -,"

"No way are you ever fixing me up with anyone," Evan interrupted. "When .. if I decide I'm interested in meeting someone I'll take care of it myself."

"Fine, spoil my fun," Elaine tried to pout but ended up laughing instead.

They danced in silence for a while before Evan spoke again. “I’ll miss you, you know.”

“You’ll still see me,” Elaine pointed out.

“Won’t be the same,” Evan shrugged as he pulled away a little to look down at her. “That’s not a bad thing – it’s just the way it is. I’m happy for you Sis ... just promise not to go all Canadian on me.” He laughed when Elaine whacked his arm. Turning serious again he looked at her intently, his eyes locked to hers, the sincerity shining through. “I’ll know when Drew’s away from home – you call me if you need me okay? Any time. Even if you just want to talk.”

Wordlessly Elaine stretched up and kissed his cheek sweetly, her eyes bright.

“What was that for?” Evan asked in surprise.

“You’re a good man Evan Lorne,” she said simply. “I couldn’t love you any more if I tried.”

“And you’re a good woman ... Elaine Rider,” Evan returned, her new name flowing off his tongue easier than he would have expected. “Back at you.”

“Evan!” Elaine whacked his arm again.

“What?” Evan ducked away with a laugh. “What do you want from me? I told you I loved you in front of a room full of people – isn’t that enough for one day?”

“Are you hassling my wife?” Drew appeared at Evan’s shoulder, interrupting them before Elaine could deliver a retort.

“Hey, she hit me!” Evan protested. Twirling Elaine forward he delivered her into her husband’s arms. “She’s all yours buddy.”

“I know,” Drew smiled lovingly down at Elaine, the two of them brimming with satisfaction.

“Oh please,” Evan rolled his eyes at another public display of marital bliss. “That’s it – I’m officially declaring my best man bachelor of honour job to be finished. You guys are on your own.”

Of course they hardly noticed, too wrapped up in each other. Evan laughed ruefully, watching them for a moment before turning and heading back to the rookie table. His sister was married and in the arms of someone who’d stop at nothing to protect her. There could be no better result as far as Evan was concerned.

The End!

 

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