Wedding Bells Are Ringing

Two wingmates take their first step in a new life together after the war.

Warning: This story contains spoilers for Ticonderoga - Volume IV.

Location: Earth Union Naval Academy at Ganymede, Ganymede, Jovian Sphere
Date: Sat 13 Feb 124
Time: UST 1654

Lydia looked at herself in the mirror. She was all decked out in her dress whites, for the first time since the awards ceremony at the end of the war. The awards ceremony marked the end of her life as she knew it and today would mark the beginning of her new life. Was she up to the task?
There was a knock at the door. Her dad stuck his head in and said, "Honey, it's time."
Apparently he hadn't learned a damn thing since her rocky teenage years, but at least she was fully dressed now. Things had mellowed out between them quite a bit since then, but their relationship was still an awkward one. They were putting all that aside for today, though.
Her dad stepped in, looked at her appreciatively, and said, "You look good, Commander."
Lydia managed a wry grin and replied, "Thanks, Colonel."
Her dad then leaned back into the wall and crossed his arms.
"You know," he said, "I didn't think this day would come."
"Didn't think I could catch me a man, huh?"
"Didn't think you would."
"I ain't no damn lezzy."
Her dad shook his head.
"No, it ain't that. I just never thought you'd let anyone get close enough. You always kept everyone at a distance, ever since you were a kid."
Lydia didn't say anything at first. It wasn't something she wanted to think about. To hell with the past.
"Cav's different," she said in a low voice.
"I reckon he'd have to be."
Yes, Cav was different. He saved her life in more ways than one, so many times over. She would've destroyed herself a long time ago if not for him. In a rare moment of honesty with herself, she acknowledged how much she needed him. With no more Shellies to hunt, she didn't have any reason to keep going, but if she had him, maybe she could find a way.
"I wish your mom could be here to see this," her dad said.
"It'd be nice," Lydia said. "Sis too."
"I didn't get to be at Leia's wedding," her dad said. "Lil' punk just went an' eloped."
Mentioning her sister's marriage made Lydia remember Jean-Paul. The bile rose in her throat, but she forced it back down. Not today. She wasn't going to think about that rotten bastard today.
"Sis didn't have the best taste in men," Lydia said, trying her best to suppress her contempt. "The only knock I've got 'gainst her."
"We all make mistakes," her dad said.
An uncomfortable silence passed. Lydia couldn't help but think about all her baggage. Was it fair of her to be bringing all that and dumping it on the one person she really trusted? She knew it wasn't.
"This won't be one of 'em," her dad said, trying to reassure her.
"Maybe not for me," Lydia said, "but I don't know if it's the best thing for him."
"From what I've seen, I think he can handle it."
Could he? Yes, she knew he could. He would sacrifice everything for her, make a big, stupid martyr of himself. For someone like her? It wasn't right. She knew it wasn't. Even so, she couldn't let go. She'd drag him all the way down to hell with her and he'd never once say a damn word of complaint.
"Come on, honey," her dad said. "Let's go."

* * *

When the Ticonderoga launched, Matt did not own a mess dress uniform, but after becoming a Hero of the Union and being promoted to colonel, he had no more excuse. He needed it for when he handed over his squadron back in August to take Colonel Williams' slot as vice wing commander and he would be needing again when he handed off his command next month to take another tour as an instructor at the Academy. Of course, it was nice to wear the mess dress today as well.
Speaking of the Academy, the Naval Academy at Ganymede--Lydia's alma mater--was chosen as a compromise. The only family that came was Lydia's father and for the military attendees, Ganymede was the most convenient midpoint between the various posts the people on the guest list were stationed at.
While Matt was wearing his mess dress, it was agreed that mess dress would not be required for any of the military attendees. Only high-rankers like Admiral Mfume, Commodore Frazier and General Pfeiffer wore mess dress. For everyone else, it was service dress for Air Force, dress whites for Navy, dress blues for Army, and dress A's for Marines. Most of the pilots in the 421st and VF-313 were there as well as a few others, a lot of the Ticonderoga's command staff. It seemed more like a matter of professional obligation than a gathering of friends and family, but there would only have been a handful of people there otherwise.
It was funny. Matt found himself thinking of command assignments, uniforms and obligations so much that he did not have time to be nervous about the ceremony. Was this really the right thing to do? Yes, they wanted to be together and the most practical way to make that happen was to get married, but was it really right for them to be joined as husband and wife? Indeed, there was a strong bond between them, but was it the kind of bond that connects man and woman or was it just the bond of comrades in arms, wingmates who had flown dozens of missions together, been through all manner of trials and troubles? He had never confessed his doubts to Lydia. Should he have? She was a tough woman, but ever since their ordeal last year, she seemed more vulnerable than ever. He wanted to do what he could for her, and if this was what it took, then so be it.
"Ya gonna be alright there, Cav?" Sean asked.
Sean was Matt's best man, which meant he was standing right behind him. If Matt's uncertainty was showing, he would be the one to see it.
"Don't choke on us, Hero," Lieutenant Trifkovic--Lydia's maid of honor--said from the other side of the altar. "If anyone's gonna screw this up, it's gotta be her."
"I'm fine," Matt said, but he was not sure if anyone believed him.
Chaplain Edwards, who was officiating the ceremony, said, "You've been as close to Hell as anyone can get this side of Eternity, Colonel. Surely you can handle something as simple as a wedding."
Matt would do his part. He had to. He had to do it for her. He could bury his doubts and do his duty. Duty? Surely that was not how he was supposed to think of it, but that was how he felt. Surely he loved her, maybe not romantic love--he was not sure that he ever felt romantic love before--but some kind of love. That would be enough.
The processional music started playing and in walked Lydia and her father arm in arm. Matt had only spoken to Lydia's father a few times. Colonel Han was a grizzled Army veteran, a former Green Beret and a fellow Hero of the Union. If it were not for Matt's exploits during the Battle of Mars and the subsequent accolades he received, Colonel Han may never have accepted an Air Force man as the potential husband for his daughter. Those same accolades did not spare him a rather intense grilling to determine his intentions. Apparently he passed the test or Lydia's father would have likely broke him in half and shot the remains out an airlock.
In some wedding ceremonies, the minister asks who is giving away the bride, but that was not part of the liturgy they were using, so when Lydia and her father reached the altar, he simply gave her a kiss on the cheek and then took his seat in the front pew. Lydia then went up the altar and took her place next to Matt and they held hands. Though Matt was not particularly superstitious, he abided by the custom of not seeing the bride before the ceremony.
Though he wanted to preserve the solemnity of the ceremony, he nevertheless found himself whispering to her, "You could've worn a dress, you know."
"I'm still wearin' white," Lydia replied. "Don't complain."
Chaplain Edwards raised his arms and said, "Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God to witness and bless the joining together of Colonel Matthias Harold and Lieutenant Commander Lydia Han in Christian marriage.
"The covenant of marriage was established by God, who created us male and female for each other. With His presence and power Jesus graced a wedding at Cana of Galilee, and in His sacrificial love gave us the example for the love of husband and wife.
"Matthias and Lydia come to give themselves to one another in this holy covenant."
He then said to Matt and Lydia, "I ask you now, in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into union with each other through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls you into union with Himself as acknowledged in your baptism."
To Lydia, he said, "Lydia Natalya Han, will you have Matthias, to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"
"I, ah, I will."
Lydia was not one for oaths except for the profane variety. She stumbled a bit during rehearsal as well. Was this a sign that she was having doubts too? Should they back out now before it was too late? They had 90 days to cancel their registration without penalty. Would that be the right thing to do?
While he was wondering about this, Chaplain Edwards asked him, "Matthias Caleb Harold, will you have Lydia, to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?"
"I will," Matt replied reflexively, more quickly and crisply than he would have thought.
Although Lydia's father was the only family member in attendance, Chaplain Edwards made it sound like he was addressing a larger group when he said, "The marriage of Matthias and Lydia unites their families and creates a new one. Do you who represent their families rejoice in their union and pray God's blessing upon them?"
Besides Lydia's father, Sean, Lieutenant Trifkovic and a couple of the older members of Matt's squadron joined in saying, "We do."
The Chaplain then addressed the attendees at large, saying, "Will all of you, by God's grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage?"
"We will," the assembly replied.
Bowing his head and folding his hands over his heart, the Chaplain said, "Let us pray."
Matt bowed his head, closed his eyes and folded Lydia's hands into his own.
"God of all peoples, You are the true light illumining everyone. You show us the way, the truth, and the life. You love us even when we are disobedient. You sustain us with Your Holy Spirit. We rejoice in Your life in the midst of our lives. We praise You for Your presence with us, and especially in this act of solemn covenant; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
"Amen," everyone replied.
The Chaplain's assistant handed him an old leather-bound Bible, which he then opened and said, "We begin our reading of Scripture with the Thirty-third Psalm, beginning the first verse..."

* * *

Chaplain said the sermon was going to be short, but it sure felt like a long damn time. Lydia thought she was going to fall asleep. Matt had to give her hands a squeeze once or twice to keep her from falling out. Apparently the sermon was over because the Chaplain called them to pray again.
"Eternal God, Creator and preserver of all life, Author of salvation, Giver of all grace: Bless and sanctify with Your Holy Spirit Matthias, and Lydia, who come now to join in marriage. Grant that they may give their vows to each other in the strength of Your steadfast love. Enable them to grow in love and peace with You and with one another all their days, that they may reach out in concern and service to the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
"Amen," Lydia mumbled.
It wasn't that she believed any of it, but she knew Matt did and she didn't want to make trouble for him. She was raised Orthodox, fell away, came back and then fell away again. Her dogtags still said 'Greek Orthodox', but the closest thing to a service she'd been to in years was her sister's funeral. Matt didn't push her on the subject, never did, so she wasn't going to bother him either. She could play along, say the words if it made everyone happy.
They'd been holding hands the whole time, but now Matt took her right hand in both of his hands as the Chaplain said, "Colonel Harold, repeat after me: 'In the Name of God'..."
"In the Name of God," Matt replied.
"...'I, Matthias Caleb Harold'...."
"I, Matthias Caleb Harold."
"'Take you, Lydia Natalya Han'..."
"'Take you, Lydia Natalya Han."
"...'To be my wife'..."
"To be my wife."
"...'To have and to hold'..."
"To have and to hold."
"...'From this day forward'..."
"From this day forward."
"...'For better, for worse'..."
"For better, for worse."
"...'For richer, for poorer'..."
"For richer, for poorer."
"...'In sickness and in health'..."
"In sickness and in health."
"...'To love and to cherish'..."
"To love and to cherish."
"...'Until we are parted by death.'"
"Until we are parted by death."
"...'This is my solemn vow.'"
"This is my solemn vow."
Now it was Lydia's turn. She took Matt's hand as the Chaplain said, "Now, Commander Han, repeat after me: 'In the Name of God'..."
Lydia was staring into Matt's eyes. Though his eyes showed that he was nervous and uncertain, all the words came without hesitation, with precision. How did he do it? Was he really so committed to going ahead with this no matter the consequences for him? Of course he was. This was his responsibility. He'd pile on responsibility until his back broke and still try to take on more. Why was she putting him through this?
"...'This is my solemn vow,'" the Chaplain said.
"This is my solemn vow," Lydia replied, without even realizing it. Somehow she went through all the vows and apparently didn't screw it up or she'd have gotten looks for it.
The Chaplain's assistant handed him the pillow with the rings. He then held up the pillow and said, "These rings are the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of Matthias and Lydia in holy marriage."
Still holding up the pillow, he bowed his head and said, "Let us pray."
Prayer time again. Bow head. Close eyes and don't just stare at shoes.
"Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings, that they who wear them may live in Your peace and continue in Your favor all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
This was the one part the Chaplain wasn't supposed to walk them through. Could she remember all the words? Matt went first anyway. It should help refresh her memory.
Holding her left hand Matt put the platinum band on her finger as he said, "Lydia Natalya Han, I give you this ring as a sign of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Lydia just stood there staring at the ring on her finger. It took the Chaplain nudging the pillow toward her to remind her what she was supposed to be doing.
As she was putting the ring on his finger, she fumbled through the words, "Ca--er, I mean, Matthias Caye...leb Harold, I, ah, I give ya this ring as a, as a sign a' my vow, an' that all... all that I am, and, uh... all that I, all that I go, er, have, I honor ya... in the, in the name a' the Father, an' the Son, an' the Holy Ghos'."
Dammit. It was supposed to be 'Spirit' instead of 'Ghost', wasn't it? Did it make any difference? Lydia couldn't remember.
Apparently it wasn't that much of a problem, because the Chaplain continued the service, stepping to the side and saying, "This unity candle is a representation of the union of Matthias and Lydia, not merely a union of the flesh but also of heart and of spirit."
The Chaplains assistant handed Matt and Lydia each a long match, about twenty senches. They then stepped up to the single candle in the center of the altar, right behind where the Chaplain had been standing. Thankfully, it lit without a hitch, the two little flames becoming one.
Once the candle was lit, the Chaplain's assistant took the matches away and extinguished them. The Chaplain continued to stand to the side of the candle so that everybody could see it. He put his hand on Matt and Lydia's and said, "You have declared your consent and vows before God and this congregation. May God confirm your covenant and fill you both with grace.
"Now that Matthias and Lydia have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands, the giving and receiving of rings, and the lighting of the unity candle, I announce to you that they are husband and wife; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder. Amen."
There was supposed to be a song, but no songs was one of the few things Lydia insisted on. She didn't like singing unless she was drunk and the service was long enough as it was.
The Chaplain continued, "Most Gracious God, we give You thanks for Your tender love in making us a covenant people through our Savior Jesus Christ and for consecrating in His name the marriage covenant of Matthias and Lydia. Grant that their love for each other may reflect the love of Christ for us and grow from strength to strength as they faithfully serve You in the world. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their heads.
"Bless them in their working and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their lives and in their deaths. Finally, by Your grace, bring them and all of us to that table where Your saints feast forever in Your Heavenly home; Through Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen."
Lydia almost forgot that the Lord's Prayer came next. Prayers and prayers and more prayers. Once that was over, the Chaplain then said, "God the Eternal keep you in love with each other, so that the peace of Christ may abide in your home. Go to serve God and your neighbor in all that you do."
Lydia thought about all that she did and didn't think it served much of anyone, but best to keep that to herself.
The Chaplain then told the assembly, "Bear witness to the love of God in this world, so that those to whom love is a stranger will find in you generous friends. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."
The Chaplain held up his right hand and said, "The peace of the Lord be with you always. You may kiss."
They looked at each other awkwardly. Maybe they should've actually practiced this first before they had to do it in public. Yes, it was ridiculous, a couple that hadn't even kissed yet before the wedding, but it probably wasn't even the most ridiculous thing about their pairing.
As far as the government was concerned, they didn't need to be married per se. Pretty much any two people can file as domestic partners and that would be enough to keep them together. Matt was old-fashioned, though. He didn't think a man and a woman ought to be under one roof unless they were married. It didn't mean a thing in the eyes of the law, but it meant something to him, so why the hell not?
Actually, now that she thought about it, Matt being old-fashioned made it easy for her. All she needed to do was close her eyes and pooch out her lips a bit. It was a bit selfish of her, but the whole deal was kinda selfish on her part, so why stop now?
She closed her eyes and let Matt do the work. He took hold of her arms and then she felt his lips on hers. It was a brief, clumsy sort of kiss, but Lydia was no expert on the subject herself. It felt weird. This whole thing felt weird, but there was a tiny little corner of her heart that jumped a bit and made her think that maybe it wouldn't be so bad if they did a little practice later.
Once the kiss was over, the Chaplain closed, saying, "Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Matthias Harold."
That probably sounded better than something like 'Colonel and Commander Matthias Harold', not that Lydia was taking Matt's name. It was one of the few practices of her Chinese heritage that she kept.
So that was it. The ceremony was over. The worst was past, right?
Usually the wedding party follows the bride and groom out, but because they were pulling double duty as the honor guard, they went first, around the outside aisles and took up positions by the exit of the chapel. What Lydia couldn't figure out was why the Air Force lined up on her side and the Navy on Matt's.
As they made their way down the aisle, just before reaching the honor guard, the head usher announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you Colonel and Commander Matthias Harold."
Lydia struggled to stifle a laugh. It sounded weird as she thought. She wasn't expecting anyone to actually use it, though.
From his place at the end of line, the mick--that is, Captain McCormick--called out, "Officers, de-raw swords."
The two ranks drew their swords and crossed the blades. This was one tradition she could go for. The only problem was that she forgot about what followed. Just as they got to the end and were about to go through the door, that damned mick swatted her on the ass with his sword.
"Welcome ta the Air Force, hellcat," he said with a grin.
In the interest of equality, Trifkovic got Matt too, telling him,"Good luck, Hero."
So that was why they got on opposite sides, damn them.

* * *

Location: New Guangzhou, Ganymede, Jovian Sphere
Date: Sat 13 Feb 124
Time: UST 1914

The reception dinner was nothing special: a buffet line with baked chicken, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls. It was not much, but it was not like they had a lot of guests to feed anyway. They had about an hour to eat before Sean stood up and tapped his fork on his glass to get the room's attention.
"Alright, people, ya know it's that time," he said. Gesturing to his wife sitting next to him, he continued, "Now, me an' my wifey didn't have a full-blown shindig like this, so I didn't have a best man ta embarrass me in front a' e'er'body, but, by God, I'm gonna see that Cav an' his lil' hellcat get the full experience."
Sean guffawed and Matt shifted uncomfortably in his seat. However, once he stopped laughing, Sean spoke in a sincere, measured tone.
"Twelve years ago, you'd've never convinced me that I'd be the best man for this green butter bar right outta the Academy. Or that he'd end up outrankin' me, bein' a Hero a' the Union and ever'thin' else. Cav's a damn good flier, a damn good airman, an officer an' a gen'leman an' an all-around damn good person. So I gotta ask ya, Cav, what the hell are ya thinkin' throwin' your life away on this hellraiser?"
Sean laughed again, but quickly added, "Naw, naw, I'm only kiddin'. I first met the hellcat several months inta our cruise on the Tico. Even back then, I saw the Red String a' Fate stranglin' those two. It just took a trip through sev'ral circles a' Hell ta make 'em realize it. Nyx, you're one crazy-ass bitch, but if ya stick with mah boy here, ya might jus' manage ta stay outta the loony bin." His impish grin softened and he said, "Seriously, though, I wish you two all the best an' ever' blessin' ya can get. Cheers!"
He raised his glass and downed it in a single gulp. The clinking of glasses could be heard all around and once things quieted down again, it was Lieutenant Trifkovic's turn to stand up. Unlike Sean, whose booming voice needed no assistance, she made a point to get the mic before she spoke.
"Ah, testing, one, two..."
A screech of feedback pierced everyone's ears, but quickly subsided.
"Sorry about that," she said. "I can't say I'm especially comfortable with giving speeches, but seeing as how Nyx asked me of all people to be her maid of honor, I guess I ought to say something. Living and working with her has been difficult and I can't imagine Colonel Harold is going to have a much easier time of it, but he's been at it long enough that he must know the trick to it. I sure hope to God he's got something up his sleeve.
"Not all wingmates grow into genuine friends and I certainly didn't think that was going to be the case with Nyx when I first met her, or even a good while after that, but here I am today. If she can somehow turn things around and become a good friend for me, then I think there's a chance she can become a good wife for you, sir. I wish you both the best." She raised her glass and said, "Cheers."
There was another round of glasses clinking. Lydia's father was offered the mic, but he declined.
"That's enough for the speeches," he said. "I've already said what I need to say to my little girl."
With no more speeches to be had, the DJ announced, "Let's get the bride and groom on the floor for the first dance of the evening. We'll have a couple rounds and then break for cake and presents."
Matt was no dancer and neither was Lydia, but they were obliged to have their dance. They stepped out onto the dance floor and looked to each other uncertainly.
"Cav, whadda we do?" Lydia asked.
"I'm not really sure," Matt said. "Think about slow dances in the movies." Awkwardly, he tried to get into position, narrating as he went. "Let's see, we hold hands with the right and then your left hand goes on my shoulder, and my left hand, um..."
He placed his hand on her side, right at the bend of her uniform jacket.
"Isn't it s'pposed ta be down on my hip or somethin'?" Lydia asked.
"It's fine," Matt said hastily, flushing a little.
"What're the steps?"
"I think we just kinda sway to the music."
"I can do that."
And so this two of them clumsily swayed back and forth, not really matching the beat of the song or anything. Matt tried not to think about what they looked like to everyone who was watching.
"This is really weird," Lydia said.
"No, it's not you. It's just... I ain't never done anythin' like this before."
"Me neither," Matt admitted.
Never a social butterfly, Matt did not attend any of the formal dances in pre-sec or secondary, nor did he have any friends to go to parties with. He did not go out clubbing and was an adamant wallflower at any function during his time in the service that might have called for dancing, of which there were thankfully few.
"Hopefully we don't hafta make a habit a' this," Lydia said.
"I think this is the only time it's obligatory."
As the song changed, the DJ said, "Okay, let's get some more couples out on the floor. Show these newlyweds how it's done."
There were not too many couples at the reception, but before they knew it, Sean and his wife sidled up to them.
"Your dance card full, hellcat?" Sean asked Lydia.
"I think I've had enough dancin' fer one evenin'," she said.
"The wife an' me insist," Sean replied. "Like the man said, we gotta show you two how it's done."
No protest either Matt or Lydia could raise would stop Mr. and Mrs. McCormick from cutting in. While Lydia was not that small of a woman, she was rather markedly dwarfed by Sean. At least his wife Betty was not some Amazonian giantess to match, though she was as tall as Matt.
"This ain't a damn pre-sec winner dance," Sean said to both of them. "Ya gotta get nice'n close, like so."
He pulled in Lydia so close that may as well have been glued together. This clearly alarmed her, but she seemed like she was too much in shock to react to it. Betty responded in kind. Matt could not help but notice her rather generous endowments pressing into his chest. He blushed, which made her giggle at his embarrassment.
"It's alright," she told him. "You don't have to leave room for the Holy Spirit. Husband and wife are one flesh. There's no need to be shy."
Sean watched them critically and said, "Yeah, but don't be gettin' all one flesh wit' my wing buddy there, babe."
"This is all for demonstration purposes, Sean-bear," Betty replied, eyeing him and Lydia, "or else I'd say the same to you."
Sean laughed and then continued his lecture, waving his left hand to draw attention to it, then placing it on Lydia's back.
"The guy's hand should only be up on the gal's back if he's dancin' with his grandma," he said. He then brought his hand down, saying, "Right there on the waist. Any further south an' it's a ten-meter penalty."
To demonstrate he lowered his hand further and gave Lydia's buttocks a squeeze for effect. Lydia's knee shot up to nail him in the groin, but he deftly sidestepped and she only succeeded in clipping his leg.
"Watch it now!" he said with a laugh. "I'm jus' teasin' ya, hellcat. Though, I see ya still got the ACS."
"Assless Chink Syndrome."
"Enough 'bout my damn ass," Lydia growled, looking over at Betty. "Can't ever'one have curves like that wife a' yours."
Though Betty had been fighting with Matt to keep his hand down on her waist without it migrating back up, her husband having the opposite problem did not escape her notice.
"Try something like that again, Sean-bear," she warned, "and you won't having any third kid."
"Aw, now, I was jus'... Third kid?"
Betty put her free hand over her mouth.
"Oops. I didn't want to steal their thunder and here I go and say it."
Drawing up Lydia's arm and spinning her away from him, Sean said, "Alrighty, time ta swap partners. The mother a' my children deserves this next dance."
Betty guided Matt to spin her into Sean's waiting arms. While they went into a dance with surprising elegance, Lydia was still clumsily trying to get her bearings, looking annoyed at the whole ordeal.
"I need a drink, dammit," she muttered.

* * *

They were on the last dance of the night, another slow one. As Lydia got some alcohol into her, she found herself able to get into a few of the more energetic dances set to pop songs and stuff, but dancing with other people, especially these slow dances, remained awkward.
She had a good buzz going and things were just starting to get fuzzy for her. Either because she was half-drunk or because of the McCormick's little dancing lesson, she was now leaning into Matt as they danced and he'd found the courage to have his hand all the way at the very top of her hip.
"You shouldn't drink anymore tonight, Nyx," Matt said.
"Why not?" she asked. "Bad form t'let free booze go ta waste, ya know?"
"It's not free, Nyx."
"Yeah, well, they ain't chargin' us as we go. We already paid."
Before he could pester her about her drinking anymore, her dad showed up and said, "Mind if I cut in?"
Her dad had refused previous offers by the DJ to get out on the dance floor with her, but apparently he changed his mind about not dancing here at the very end. Or maybe this was his plan all along.
Matt stepped away from her, careful that she didn't just topple over, nodded to her dad, saying only, "Colonel."
"Colonel," he dad said in reply. Guys and their conversation skills.
Her dad swept her up in a single smooth motion, showing more of a knack for dancing than she would've ever expected. The quick movement made her stomach churn a little. Maybe Matt was right about he having had enough to drink.
"You're a real class act, hon," he said. "Gettin' sloshed on your weddin' day."
"Leas' I waited till after the cer'mony."
"I guess so," he admitted. "Well, you did it, Mrs. Harold. Or are you not gonna take his name?"
"Nah," she said, her throat hitching from quick convulsion of her stomach. "He's old-fashioned, but I kinda like bein' Lydia Han."
"What about the kids?"
"Yeah, you know, children, offspring. It's somethin' married people tend ta have, you know."
Lydia felt dumb for not really thinking about the possibility of having kids. That was something married people did, wasn't it? Hell, there were plenty of people who weren't married who got in on the action.
"I ain't really thought 'bout it," she said. "I'd be a shitty mom."
Her dad glanced over Matt and asked, "What about him?"
"Cav could hannle it, I bet. Maybe even make up fer me, but... ah, I dunno."
"Haven't you talked about it?"
"Not really."
"Well, I recommend you start talkin' 'bout it, 'cause I'm pretty sure he's been thinkin' 'bout it."
She looked up at her dad and asked, "Ya think?"
Her dad rolled his eyes.
"Kids these days... I suppose you've got time to work things out, but my advice is this. Don't hold out on him an' don't let him hold out on you. The more open an' honest you are with each other, the healthier your relationship'll be."
"Wuzzat how it was wit' you an' Mom?"
The memory of her mom seemed to make him smile.
"She kept me on the straight an' narra," he said. "Maybe your boy'll do the same for you."
"The music's stopped."
Her dad looked around. So much for situational awareness, Mr. Green Beret Hero of the Union.
"So it has," he said. He stood her up straight and gave her shoulders a squeeze. "Think 'bout what I said, honey."
If she was going to deal with shit like that, she needed a few more drinks in her first. Her, a mom? God help them all.

* * *

Location: Mikhailgrad, Ganymede, Jovian Sphere
Date: Sun 14 Feb 124
Time: UST 0134

The half-hour taxi ride to the hotel was not enough for Lydia to come back around. Matt knew the open bar was a bad idea. Fortunately, Sean and his wife accompanied them to help out. Betty stayed behind to hold the taxi while Sean helped Matt carry Lydia up to the room. It was a good thing they had checked in before the ceremony. It would have been impossible to do so now with her passed out. As it was, they got some funny looks from the front desk when they went in.
When they got to the door, they propped Lydia up against the wall while Matt fished out the keycard from his pocket.
As he was swiping the card, he looked to Sean and said, "Thanks for the help, Kodiak."
"You're gonna hafta start hittin' th' gym if she keeps this up," he replied. "You're th' man now, an' ya gots ta step it up."
Matt held the door open with his foot while he reached over to hold Lydia under the arms. Sean took hold of her legs and they carried her into the room. They did not spring for anything elaborate, just a simple double room with a queen-sized bed.
"Let's get her to the bed," Matt said.
Once they laid her down on the bed, Sean took a moment to look at her before saying, "Well, this'll make fer some hella weddin' night. I guess she don't gotta be conscious fer it."
Sean laughed. '"I'm jus' kiddin', man. That'd be terr'ble. If ya both ain't enjoyin' it, it ain't no fun."
Matt could feel his ears burning, but he tried his best not to be flustered by Sean's innuendos.
"Thanks for your help, Kodiak," he said.
Taking this as his cue to leave, Sean said, "Yeah, yeah, three's a crowd. But four's a party, ya know. If the hellcat's cool with it, the wifey'd be game."
Not doubt Matt went red as a beet because Sean guffawed even harder this time.
"Ha ha ha! Kiddin' 'gain, man!" He gave Matt a hearty slap on the back. "I ain't sharin' my wifey's sweet jubblies wit' no man. An' no woman neither. I seen the way the hellcat's been starin'."
Seeing Matt's discomfiture, Sean took hold of him by the shoulders and gave him a good shake.
"Still kiddin', Cav. Ya gotta loosen up, man. Married life'll kill ya otherwise. G'night, wing buddy, an' congratulations, man."
Matt smiled. As awkward as Sean made things for him, Matt was truly grateful for everything he did.
"Thanks, Kodiak."
Sean waved as he went out the door, leaving the two newlyweds alone together. Matt simply stood there for a moment trying to figure out what exactly he should do.
Matt unbuttoned Lydia's jacket and slid it off her. After draping the jacket over a chair, he then took off her shoes. He hesitated for a moment before deciding to take off her shirt and pants as well. There was no point in her ruining her dress whites if she threw up everywhere. Also, they were husband and wife now. It should not be so awkward.
Matt was a little annoyed at himself for breaking into a sweat as he started unbuttoning her shirt. His hands even started to shake a bit as he undid her belt. Lydia was wearing a StatSuit under her clothes, so it was not like he was stripping her naked or anything, but it almost felt that way.
Once her clothes were off, Matt rolled Lydia onto her side and moved the trashcan to the bedside just in case. He then took a moment to look at his new wife lying there, passed out drunk. So this was how his married life began.
He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.
"Sleep well, Nyx. We can figure stuff out tomorrow."