20. The Unveiling ("I'm not Jewish, but...")
Eastgate Non-Denomination Church
The dressing room door opened, and a church assistant leaned in. "It's time, Mr. Hodge," he said. "You should take your place. Everyone is seated."
William continued to fidget with his tie. "I've never worn a bow tie before," he said, adjusting. "I can't get it to sit just right."
"Let me take a look," the assistant offered. He touched it here and there, then stepped back. "It looks fine, Mr. Hodge."
William ran the lint roller over his tuxedo again, and took one last turn to the mirror. His tall frame was perfect for the classic long-tail black tux he chose. The fronts of the lapels were covered in silver silk, with a thin stripe at the end of each sleeve, and down the seam of the pants.
William then turned to the assistant, spreading his arms for presentation. "Am I ready?"
"I'd say you are," replied the assistant. "I'm especially likin' the cufflinks."
William wore his father's cufflinks - each a six-sided emerald set in a square base made of pearl. They were only worn once - on the day when William's father and mother were wed. "They match her eyes," he said.
William gave the sleeves of his tux one last reassuring tug. "I'm confused now about the weding night," he said. "I'm not sure if the intensity is from passion or from finally getting out of this monkey suit."
The assistant couldn't help but laugh. "I'd say you're more than ready, Mr. Hodge." He took the doorknob, motioning his other hand. "Shall we?"
William walked through the doorway of the anteroom into the chapel. If the whole concept of getting married at all, much less to the woman from inside the box was still a bit surreal for him, this scene certainly added to it. The room was enormous, nearly as wide as it was long. William thought for a moment about Kim being brought to the altar on a cart. The walls themselves were over 20 feet tall, gray and alternated with large tapestries on a background of royal blue, and intricate lead glass windows in a rainbow of colors. The ceiling was a deep peach color, soaring to over 60 feet above the floor, with huge beams every 20 feet or so. The floor was covered in a rich carpet to match the tapestries, and the altar itself looked as if it had been carved from a single huge piece of cherry wood. It seemed that there were candles on every horizontal surface, which gave the entire front of the chapel its own quiet mystical glow.
An organ from the upper deck softly wafted through the room, adding to the expansive ambience.
Even with over 300 people, the pews were barely half-filled. The entire staff from his department had attended, along with some of the admins, and the entire Board of Regents sat along the front row. Marcy had come through with her promise of "help and support" - William had made a deal to forego his stock options for three years, and just gave Marcy the reins in setting up the wedding preparations. Her level of "help" had gone off the scale, he thought. The only points Marcy questioned at all were the fact that there were no preparations for a best man or bridal procession - it was to be just he and Kim before the minister. William had hoped Marcy would understand why shortly.
As he walked along the front railing, he noticed a small white sphere at the end of one of the rows of candles. This was the only stipulation Kim had set forth as part of the arrangements; a webcam to broadcast the ceremony to a network Wade had set up, so the entire Celler community could witness the event.
William walked to the front of the chapel, just off right-center of the aisle and took his place to await his bride. He turned to the minister, who almost reminded William of James Earl Jones with a beard. Darius Edwards had a soothing presence, which proved useful when he became the only other Flesher besides William to meet Kim, coming to their apartment to go over details of the ceremony. He gave a reassuring smile to William, who was still taking in the detail of the setting, letting himself be immersed in it. He stood with one hand clasped over the other.
The hall was suddenly filled with a rich flourish of tones as the organ's volume increased, singing out the first notes of the Wedding March. The throng of guests rose, and turned to face the tall double doors at the back of the hall.
As the organ caroled the announcement of Kim's entrance, the attendants reached for the handles of the doors. "That's your cue," one of them said.
"Just onnnne second," Kim wavered nervously. Even after the talk with the minister, Kim was still full of butterflies over this manner of "unveiling" to the Flesher world. William didn't do much to calm her fears, as he told her of the tradition that it would be bad luck if the groom were to see the bride before the wedding, and stayed at the local YMCA that night. He had even arranged that a separate car be called to take her to the church. Her teasing response was to keep her choice of wedding dress secret from William until the day of their ceremony, even ordering it online and being careful to cover her tracks to the site. She finally set her resolve and told William that she didn't care if the guests were on fire - that she would walk through it to stand beside him at the other end. Kim had worn her veil since leaving the apartment for the ride.
She checked herself from head to toe, sure that she saw many more wrinkles in her dress than anyone else would; she smoothed her veil one last time. "Okay," she nodded. The attendants pulled the doors open wide.
Kim instantly praised her decision on a light salad for lunch. The anticipation before meeting with the minister was apprehension enough; now there were over 300 pair of eyes focused on her every move. She steeled her gaze to the floor a few feet in front of her and took a deep breath. "Here we go, Kim," she said under her breath, taking the first halting step, "Straight up the middle."
William was transfixed on his bride-to-be as she seemed to float slowly down the aisle. She wore a flowing gown of a silvery satin which was drawn in at her waist, blossoming to nearly six feet in diameter as it reached her feet. It was graced throughout with streams of white lace and chiffon. Her veil was lined with the same lace, and her tiara was intertwined with the gold strings from the box and scroll.
William made out her face as she neared the front of the aisle, and she didn't lift her eyes until she was standing next to him. "Hi," she whispered, her expression lightening a bit. "I'm glad you're here."
"I wouldn't miss this for the world," replied Wiliam, taking her arm. They walked the last few steps to stand in front of the minister. There was a microphone over their heads, so all could hear. Minister Edwards opened his book, and began to speak to the guests in a soft but authoritative voice.
"Good afternoon! We are gathered here today, not to witness the beginning of what will be, but rather what already is! We do not create this marriage, because we cannot. We can and do, however, celebrate with William and Kimberly and their friends the wondrous and joyful occurrence that has already taken place in their lives. So let the ceremony begin!" He looked at the couple. "William and Kimberly, would you please join hands and face me?"
William could feel the added warmth of Kim's emotion as she slipped her hands into his, and they clasped. The minister smiled slightly; then looked to the guests again and continued.
"Marriage is a supreme sharing of experience, and an adventure in the most intimate of human relationships. It is the joyous union of two people whose comradeship and mutual understanding have flowered in romance. Today, William and Kimberly proclaim their love and commitment to the world, and we gather here to rejoice, with and for them, in the new life they now undertake together. The joy we feel now is a solemn joy, because the act of marriage has many consequences, both social and personal. Marriage requires 'love,' a word we often use with vagueness and sentimentality. We may assume that love is some rare and mystical event, when in fact it is our natural state of being."
"So what do we mean by 'love'? When we love, we see things other people do not see. We see beneath the surface, to the qualities which make our beloved special and unique. To see with loving eyes, is to know inner beauty . And to be loved is to be seen, and known, as we are known to no other. One who loves us, gives us a unique gift; a piece of ourselves, but a piece that only they could give us. We who love, can look at each other's life and say, 'I touched his life,' or, 'I touched her life,' just as an artist might say, 'I touched this canvas.' 'Those brushstrokes in the comer of this magnificent mural, those are mine. I was a part of this life, and it is a part of me.' Marriage is to belong to each other through a unique and diverse collaboration, like two threads crossing in different directions, yet weaving one tapestry together."
Kim looked to William as the minister spoke. He looked at her as well - and the combination of Minister Edwards' voice, and William's warm eyes started to act as a calming effect. Her hand now barely trembled in William's as the minister continued with the ceremony.
"Through this co-operation, we give ourselves, our lives and love. into the hands of the one we love. We do so trustingly and generously. And so, each of us receives a gift; the life and love of the other. We receive this gift, not only from the one we love, but also from the parents who brought us into the world, and from our friends and families as well. And so as William and Kimberly's friends and family, we are here to share with them this joy and hope, and to see them off on the path they will walk together. May it be a path of blessedness, bright with flowers of prosperity and spiritual awakening; a path of ever deepening, ever broadening love that they will travel, arm in arm. throughout eternity."
"William and Kimberly, this celebration is the outward token of your sacred and inward union of hearts, which the church and temple may bless, and the state make legal, but which neither state nor church can create nor annul. It is a union created by your loving purpose and kept by your abiding will. It is in this spirit and for this purpose that you have come here to be joined together."
William could feel Kim's grip tighten somewhat as the minister turned to William, beginning to recite the vows.
"William, will you have this woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together in marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, and honor her, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"
William slipped his fingers between Kim's to interlock them, as if to further show his commitment. He looked into her eyes, thinking of all his dreams realized - the miracle that came through his mirror and became his gift of life - and said, "I will."
The minister then turned to Kim. "Kimberly, will you have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together in marriage? Will you love him, comfort him. and honor him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?"
Kim looked into the eyes of the man whom she had Crossed to - the man who had taken her to places - and to emotional highs - that she had never even dreamed could even be within her reach - and now she was living them with the man whom she loved - and so deeply loved her. She squeezed William's hand and said, "I soooo will." There was a hush of laughter from the guests at this.
The minister spoke. "William and Kimberly have chosen their own added vows, to further proclaim and affirm to us all their love for one another. They have chosen the words to a song, 'Anything is Possible,' by Will Young." With this, Kim and William faced each other, hands still warmly locked, and recited, alternating, each with their eyes locked to the other's;
Kim: "I never thought I could be feeling this way...Standing here in front of you this perfect day...It's hard to imagine where tomorrow will lead...I'll keep this memory in my heart for eternity."
William: "Even through the rain I kept my faith...The will to follow through...And I never lost the strength within...And it's all because of you."
Kim: "I'm flying high like the wind...Reaching the impossible, I'll never doubt again...I'm flying high, because your love has made me see that anything is possible - possible because you believe in me."
William: "In a world full of strangers, you were my saving grace...You showed me I was not alone - alone in this place...I never believed it that a dream can come true, but If anyone has changed my mind then surely it is you."
They spoke the last together. "I'm flying high like the wind, reaching the impossible...I'll never doubt again...I'm flying high, because your love has made me see that anything is possible - possible - because you believe in me."
The minister reached to his pocket and produced a box containing their wedding bands side-by-side, platinum to match Kim's engagement ring. He spoke as he offered the box, and each took their respective bands. "Traditionally, the passage to the status of husband and wife is marked by the exchange of rings. These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end, no giver and no receiver for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken."
Kim took William's hand first, sliding the band onto his finger, then looking into his eyes, her own showing just the beginning of pooling. The next step, she thought...together. "With this ring, I thee wed."
William turned Kim's hand, gliding her band onto her finger until it nestled into place next to her other ring. The next step, he thought...and you and I took it together. "With this ring, I thee wed."
"William and Kimberly," the minister continued, "Remember to treat both yourself and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together."
"Forever" crossed both of their minds.
The minister now spoke in a louder, more authoritative tone. "Inasmuch as you have consented together in this ceremony to live in wedlock and have sealed your vows in the presence of this company and by the giving of these rings, it gives me great pleasure to pronounce that you are Husband and Wife. William, you may now kiss your new bride."
William could feel Kim tense as he slipped his hands from hers, a mix of joy and apprehension taking over. He captured a corner of her veil between two fingers of each hand, and lifted it slowly to drape over her tiara.
A hushed gasp rippled through the hall as people got a first look at Kim's face. Kim's expression immediately turned to one of worry as a buzz of whispers began to flow. Kim tried to form her mouth to say "William" as a tear escaped to her cheek. William took her face into his hands, trying to reassure her against whatever might happen. "So not, Kim," he said as he sent the tear away with his thumb, and slowly pressed his lips to hers.
Minister Edwards added to that reassurance as they parted, placing a hand warmly on each of their shoulders and turning them to the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privilege to be the first to present Mr. William Allen Hodge and Mrs. Kimberly Ann Hodge."
The silence that greeted them only lasted a couple of seconds - then was broken by a singular applause--
She slowly rose to her feet, continuing to clap. Hers was joined by another from near the back of the crowd. Then another. And another. The applause grew steadily, building as more and more people stood.
William looked at Kim, whose expression was spreading into a warm smile, her eyes now beginning to sparkle. "I think we're a hit," he said, again finding her hand.
"I just can't put into words how much I love you, Mr. Hodge."
"Well, you have the rest of your life to do it...Mrs. Hodge," replied William.
Minister Edwards tried to announce above the din of the applause, "There is a short reception ceremony in the basement of the church...if we can get the happy couple on their way." He smiled at them, giving a slight "shoo" motion with his hands. He then gave the "rolling along" motion to the upper deck, and the organ rang out with traditional recessional music.
"I think this is our theme song," said William. "Shall we?"
"Yeah," Kim responded as they took the short steps from the altar.
They proceeded down the aisle as people continued to applaud. One man from the department who had worked with William for over a year raised his hand to greet him as they passed by. "Attaboy, William," he said, meeting William's hand with a loud slap. A woman from Kim's side of the aisle called to her, "Good catch, Kim!" and winked. Kim turned to William and laughed, throwing her arms around his waist.
A glint caught William's eye. He called Kim's attention to the upper deck. A blurry figure was waving to them.
She was doing the "Cabbage Patch" dance, swinging her arms. She then shot them the "OK" sign and winked, pointing at them both.
Kim and William looked at each other for a second - then nodded. They hurried down the aisle and through the doors.
They burst through the doors to the reception hall. Kim suddenly leaped on William's back, shouting, "I did it! We did it!"
William laughed, grabbing one of her legs and steadying himself. "Wasn't quite as bad as you thought, huh?"
"I was worried at first," she said, dropping back to her feet. "When those doors opened, I was like, oh my GOD, look at all these PEOPLE! I almost felt like sprinting down that aisle so I could hold you! And after you lifted that veil, I could have died!"
"Boy, that would have been awkward," William laughed.
Kim slipped the tiara from her hair, shaking out her crimson mane. "William, we're married!" she said, sliding into his arms. "We've made history! And it was on the webcam! Bonnie is going NUTS right now!"
William suddenly took on a look of mock disgust. "Well I hope THAT'S not the reason you married me."
Kim pulled him closer. "Soooooo NOT, Mr. Hodge," she said, leaning up for a kiss.
"Hey hey, you two...you'll have plenty of time for that on the honeymoon." Marcy quickly walked toward them, giving William a hug. "That was beautiful," she said. "Just beautiful." She turned to Kim, giving her a hug as well. "Kim, I can just tell that you two will be so happy." She slid back, offering her hand. "I'm Marcy Alvarez."
Kim took her hand warmly, shaking with both of hers. "You're William's former boss. I've heard nothing but good about you from him."
"And you're Kim Possible," said Marcy. "I know you from your show, but I never thought...well...you know...that I'd get to meet you."
"Well, you have the first part right," Kim replied, pointing at William. She and Marcy both laughed and hugged again.
"Kim, don't you leave without seeing me first," said Marcy, who turned and started for the refreshment table as more guests began to filter in.
"Wonder what that was about," commented William.
Kim didn't get much chance to reply. A woman walked up, introducing herself. "Hi Kim. I'm Mary Drexel. I work with William. Is it...okay if I ask you a question?"
A couple other people came over, wanting to hear the answer. Others came by originally intending to offer their congratulations, but stayed for the conversation.
William leaned to Kim. "Looks like you might have a new fan club," he said. "I'll stay close in case it gets too intense."
"Good idea," said Kim. "I feel okay with it right now, but I might need you for rescue."
William felt a hand pulling at his arm. He turned around.
David Morris had flown in for the wedding. He shook William's hand firmly. "Hi William. Congrats, buddy."
"Thanks," replied William, trying to remain gracious while still keeping an eye on his bride, who was starting to look like a press secretary.
"William, you weren't kidding when you said she looks as good as she sounds," continued David, pulling William's attention back to him. "She looks pretty good, but...I have to ask...err...what...is she?"
William thought for a moment, not in the mood for a string of questions from the slick salesman, feeling much more at ease after his departure from the office. He wanted to give an answer that would disarm him. William looked him in the eye. "She's my wife, David," he responded. "Surely someone as comprehensive as yourself can see that."
David was caught off-guard for a moment by his answer. "She's...unique," he said. "Tell me this...is she Asian? She has an...interesting face."
William was beginning to grow an instant disdain for where this line of questioning might go. He then remembered how many of the cels for the shows were colored by sending them to studios in the Far East. "Yeah...partly," he answered.
William felt himself being pulled in another direction to face Michael Hawkins, who was shaking his hand. "William, that was a wonderful ceremony," he said. "I wish you luck and good fortune in your new venture. She's a beautiful woman. You make such a wonderful couple."
William could only manage a "Thank you," continuing to shake Michael's hand. "Excuse me a moment," Michael said. "I want to get something for the toast." He started to make his way to the wet bar.
William turned to continue his verbal swordfight with David. He had apparently had his fill, having gone to the other side of the room.
William then turned to Kim as he heard Marcy's voice. "People, please. I'm sure Kim has enough on her plate without getting the third degree. Give her a break," she smiled, taking Kim's hand and leading her out of the gathering. Kim mouthed the words "Thank you" to Marcy, and looked back to William, waving her hand in front of her face and hanging her tongue out a bit. Thank you Marcy, he thought. He started through the crowd for the refreshment table to find something for them to drink.
He turned around with two glasses in hand as Kim rushed up to him, nearly breathless. "William, you're not going to believe this." William offered her one of the glasses as she spoke. "After Marcy saved me from the Q-A session, we started to talk. She believes, William! We got to talking about Cellers, and she said she would love to meet one!"
"Wow," said William. "Guess we can check the list for her name, too."
"I asked her innocently that if she had the chance, who she might want to meet. Get this," she said, starting to giggle. "Race Bannon from Jonny Quest."
William chuckled. "Might make a cute couple."
"That's just half of it," started Kim, but was cut short by a loud voice.
"May I have your attention," Michael shouted from the center of the room, motioning Kim and William toward him. "Everyone get a drink." They joined Michael as he raised his glass. "I wish to be the first to propose a toast to the happy couple. May their journey be long and full of wonderment and surprise."
Kim and William caught each other starting the phrase, "You have no earthly idea." They both laughed at this as a wave of "Cheers" circulated through the guests. Kim looked at her glass for a moment, then at William. "Sparkling apple juice," he said. "Drink up."
Kim's expression spread into a warm smile as they joined in the toast. "Thank you, Mr. Hawkins," she said. "I--we really app- appre- nnn-ngkkk."
About 25 people around them said "Bless you" simultaneously - then laughed. Kim looked at William, blushing as she held her finger under her nose.
William smiled at her. "Did I mention the apple juice was carbonated?" he smirked. Then, "What did you start to tell me before?"
Kim reached into the strap of her dress and pulled out a business card. "Check this out," she started to say rather excitedly. "Marcy gave me her card. She wants me to come to Meridian after the honeymoon for a skills test. She offered me a job, William!"
"That's great! She must really like you," said William. Then he got a rather devilish grin. "Kim? Have you ever heard the term, 'nooner'?"
Kim slapped his arm, laughing. "Don't you turn evil on me, Mr. Hodge."
"Not me," he replied. "Mrs. Hodge."
Kim melted into a wide smile, slipping her arms around his neck. "William," she started, "this has gone way better than I thought it would...but all this attention is wearing me out. Shouldn't we be leaving soon?"
"Sure," he said, taking her hand. "We're supposed to 'escape' at some point anyway."
"I like that idea," said Kim. "Lead the way."
They walked out of the doors to the church. One of the attendants said, "Congratulations again, Mr. and Mrs. Hodge. Your car is waiting."
"Mmmm, I like the sound of that," William said. Kim nodded in agreement, her face now aglow. Then, "A car?"
"Must have been sent by the company," the attendant pointed to the street. A gleaming silver stretch limousine sat at the curb. They both mouthed the word "Wow" and started for the vehicle.
William stopped about halfway down the walk. "Ohhh man, I almost forgot," he said. Kim looked at him with a "Hm?"
William dug into the pocket of his tux. "I'm not Jewish," he said, "but this is the most important part of the ceremony." He pulled his hand out of his pocket, turning his palm up.
The vial. Without the cap.
Kim gasped. "You're gonna--" she stammered.
"As per Wade's instructions from his report," said William, smiling widely. Kim held her hands to her mouth as William placed the vial on the ground. "Just like the rings," he started, "Just like my love for you, Kim...this is just part of Forever."
Kim nodded quickly, a tear appearing.
"Welcome to Forever, Kim," he said, bringing his foot down on the crystal, shattering it under his shoe.
Kim threw her arms around him. "YES!" she shouted. They continued to the limousine and got inside as an attendant held open the door.
As the door slammed shut, the privacy screen lowered. A short brunette in a driver's cap turned around toward the couple. "Where to, you two?" she grinned.
"MISTY!!!" Kim screamed, and leaped forward from the seat, hugging her tightly.
"How are ya, Kiddo?" Misty said. "That was quite the ceremony. I loved it."
"I wasn't expecting you here! I'm so glad!" Kim said excitedly, continuing to embrace the woman. She turned back to William. "William, I'd like you to meet Misty Visione'. She's another Cross Agent."
Misty slipped an arm from around Kim and shook his hand. "William, it's my pleasure," she said. "This whole thing has been quite a ride. We never thought something like this would ever happen...and we couldn't be happier that it did. Everyone is so happy for you and for Kim-- err," She stopped for a second. "What do I call you now, Kim? Kim Hodge-Possible? Kim Possible-Hodge?"
"Hodge-Podge" smirked William.
Both women erupted into laughter. "Is he always like this?" said Misty.
"Mostly," Kim replied with an open smile. "But most of all when it counts."
"Excellent," Misty said. "You rock, William."
"See?" Kim broke in. "That's what I said!" They all laughed.
"Well, I'm here to take you two anywhere you want to go." Misty said, turning the key to the car. The throaty V-8 jumped to life.
"The airport," said William. "I have an espresso to finish."
Kim looked at William rather strangely. "Surely you could find a better place than the airport to have an espresso."
William shook his head slowly, smiling, and reaching into the inside pocket of his tuxedo. He pulled out some papers.
Round-trip tickets to Paris - and a two-week stay - at the Eden Hotel in Nice, on the French Riviera.
Kim screamed again and jumped into William's arms. "You rock with subwoofers, Mr. Hodge!" she exclaimed.
"And you're the reason," added William. He then pointed forward. "Drive on, Misty," he said. "We have a honeymoon to get to."
"Yes, SIR," Misty grinned, hitting the button to raise the privacy screen.
The limousine pulled from the curb, a large "JUST MARRIED" sign on the back. A string of cans trailed from the bumper - and one pair of 100,000-mile tennis shoes.
The license plate was also silver. It read, in dark green letters - "CELLER 1"
(roll end credits)
(start closing music)
One more compromise I won't be making
One more easy way out I won't be taking
So many chances don't come twice
So many eyes are made of ice
One more cheating hand I won't be shaking
One more substitute I won't be trying
One more piece of the rock that I'm not buying
So many times we stand and fight
So many reasons can't be right
One more simple truth I'm not denying
Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many lonely nights in the real world
Too many fools who don't think twice
Too many ways to pay the price
Don't wanna live my life in the real world
One more sacrifice I won't be making
One more golden rule I won't be breaking
No one to let me state my case
No one to tell me to my face
One more sweet suprise I won't be faking
Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many lonely nights in the real world
Too many bridges you can burn
Too many tables you can't turn
Don't wanna live my life in the real world
Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many lonely nights in the real world
Too many games that I can't play
Too many windmills in my way
Don't wanna live in the real world
"In The Real World"
- The Alan Parsons Project - "Stereotomy"