Disclaimers: anything that doesn't belong to me belongs to someone else.

This is an AU picking up right after Mac proposes to Tessa ignoring that stupid physic girl and all that crazy death stuff...

The Nuptials

"So," Richie asked as the three sat on the catwalk above the store, sipping on champaign. "Is this going to be a traditional wedding or what?"

"What do you mean?" Duncan asked.

"I was kinda hoping you would ask me to be your best man," Richie oh-so-subtly hinted.

Duncan smiled at him. "Of course; wouldn't have it any other way, partner." Duncan leaned across Tessa to clink their glasses together.

Richie smiled, pleased to be included in such an important role.

That night Duncan took his fiancé out for a romantic candle-light dinner. Suddenly, the long time lovers were swept back into the grasps of young love. Few words were spoken over dinner and eye contact was rarely broken. After dinner, they sat on the sea wall, just holding each other.

"What took you so long?" Tessa whispered.

"It never felt necessary, I suppose. And it didn't seem like it was such a big deal to you."

"I didn't think it was either, until you proposed." She rested her head on his chest, a few stray stands of hair tickling his chin.

"I'm glad you said yes," he admitted.

"After twelve years, you thought I'd say no?"

"One never knows for sure."

"I would never say no to you, Duncan MacLeod."

"I'm glad, Mrs. MacLeod."

She looked up at him. "I like the sound of that."

"Me, too." He leaned down and kissed her softly. "I love you."

The sun ascended from the horizon some hours later finding the engaged lovers still entangled on the sea wall. Tessa sighed and squinted into the light. Duncan wrapped his arms around her, warding off the cool ocean breeze as it chilled their skin.

"Do we have to go back?" she asked, feeling him beginning to shift her weight off of him.

"Not if you don't mind Richie burning the house down trying to make himself breakfast."

"We can always move," she snuggled back into his chest.

They remained a few more hours before finally making the decision to return home, if for no other reason to make sure Richie was ready to take care of the store. They found the teen in the kitchen, heating up left over pizza for breakfast.

"And where have you two kids been all night?" he demanded with a grin.

"You're just jealous," Duncan told him. "We're going to bed. Take care of the store for me."

With a shrug, Richie took his breakfast and went down stairs mumbling about double standards.

"How about breakfast?" Tessa offered.

"I have a better idea." With a not so innocent smile, he took her hand and started toward their room.

"Mac," she giggled.

"Mrs. MacLeod," he returned.

"I'm not your wife yet."

He opened the door and sat on the bed and pulled her on top of him. "I think we should consummate the engagement."

"I thought we were going to get some sleep?"

"I'm not tired. Are you?"

"Not really."

"Then let's have a little fun."

"But there is so much to plan…" she protested.

"We have plenty of time." He pulled her close and nibbled on her ear.

"So many arrangements to make, lists to make, people to invite…" she gasped and pulled away.

"What?" He jumped back, afraid he had hurt her.

"Oh…" she moaned and began pacing. "Oh no…"

"Okay, I give up. What's wrong?"

She shook her head and continued to pace, beginning to mumble to herself. Duncan watched, confused, not able to decipher her jumbled mix of muttered English and French.

"Tess?..." She continued to pace. "Tessa…Tess!" He stepped into her path. "What's wrong?" He grasped her shoulders and ducked his head so they were eye to eye.

"My parents."

"Oh…right." He dropped his hands and paced on his own. "Well," he said coming to a stop. "It's up to you. You've waited twelve years for me. I'll do this however you want to."

"You're part of this, too."

"There are a few traditions I want, and I'm more than happy to help plan, but this is something that is completely up to you," he told her. "As long as I am the groom in the wedding, I'm happy."

"Can you take Richie out?" she asked him after a minute of thinking. "I want to be alone when I call them."

"How long do you want us gone?"

"How long can you stay gone?"

"I'll see what I can do." Half an hour later, Duncan called Richie up from the store after calling the ticket counter at the football stadium. "I'm taking him to lunch and the game," he told Tessa kissing her cheek before he left. "That should give you plenty of time."

He kissed her again as Richie rushed out of his room and darted out to the car shouting "Bye, Tessa!" over his shoulder.

Duncan smiled. "I think he's excited."

"Thank you," Tessa replied, squeezing his hand.

He smiled and kissed her again, before going out to the car to yell at Richie for honking the horn so incessantly.

Once they had left, it took Tessa an hour to pick up the phone and dial the familiar combination of numbers. Her voice caught in her throat for a moment when the line was picked up.

"Bonjour?" her mother's voice answered.

Tessa was sitting on the couch going through her day planner when Duncan and Richie returned from the game.

"C'mon, Mac, it'd be fun!" Richie was arguing good naturedly as they ascended the stairs. "Besides, it's tradition; even you don't have the power to break a tradition as sacred at this one!"

"Richie, it is not a sacred tradition," Duncan argued back with a grin. "No. The answer is no." Duncan laughed when the young man bit his lip in concentration, trying to come up with a counter. "You won't believe this guy," Duncan told Tessa, pulling Richie into a head lock. "He wants to throw me a bachelor party so he can get into a strip club. He won't take no for an answer."

"Well, can I throw a party in your honor and take my friends?" Richie asked, trying to break free of the grip.

"No!" Duncan cuffed him in the ear.

"Why not?"

"I'll tell you what, you can go… the next time I go, I'll let you know."

"So that's a never."

"Exactly." Duncan looked up and got a good look at Tessa's face. She had her "of course this is cute" grin on her face. Which meant that something was wrong. "Rich…why don't you go on to bed?" He gave the teen a gentle shove toward the bedrooms.

"I'm not even tired!" he protested.

"Then go watch a movie, just go." Duncan inclined his head in Tessa's direction, Richie took the hint and left. "What's wrong?" Duncan asked, taking a seat next to her and putting his arm around her.

"I talked to my mother."

"How did it go?"

"As Richie would say, it was ferociously wicked."

"Wow, resorting to Richie-English. What happened?"

"We went round and round about if it was even appropriate."

"I thought your parents would be happy I was making an honest woman out of you," Duncan tried to joke.

"But it's still you," she told him. "They don't like you."

"So, do you still want to do this?" he asked. "It's up to you."

"You don't want to marry me?" she asked, her eyes tearing, the stress of the day catching up with her.

"Of course I do!" He hugged her close and kissed her forehead. "I do, more than anything. I just don't want to pressure you into anything. I want this to be perfect for you. I want you to have everything you want, exactly like you want it. Just tell me what you want, and it's yours."

"I want to go to my parents and talk to them in person," she said. "I think I can smooth things over that way. I really want to get married in our church at home."

"Then we need to get you to Paris," he told her. "Tell me when you want to leave and I'll get you the tickets. Do you want me to go?"

"I think I should at least start out alone."

"Then tell me what you want me to do."

She sighed. "Can you call the airline and see when the first flight out is?"

"Don't you want to talk to your parents first, tell them you're coming?"

"Just call the airline."

"Alright, how soon do you want to go?"

"Tomorrow, if possible. I don't want to stay engaged forever."

"I'm on the phone now." He got up and went towards the kitchen. "Richie!" he yelled over his shoulder.

"Sup?" the teen stuck his head out into the hall.

"Get Tessa's luggage out of the crawl space. She'll tell you which ones she wants."

"Sure…" Richie looked a little confused but went to clear a path to the small door in the back of the closet. "Where ya goin'?" he asked Tessa getting on his hands and knees and half disappearing into the small, dark, hole.


"Home? Ow!" Richie hit his head on his way out, tugging on a suitcase.


"So….are your parents excited? I bet your mom's already starting to make….oh…sorry." He cut himself off when he saw the odd, sad look on her face. "I know, I got a big mouth."

"Are you excited?" she asked him as he straightened up.

He shrugged. "Your wedding." She waited and then his face broke out into a wide grin. "Okay, fine, I give. I've never actually been part of one before, alright?" Then: "Okay! I've never been to a wedding, you happy?"

"The truth isn't so hard, is it?" she teased. Her truth was, she just liked that someone was excited besides her and Duncan. Her parents' reaction had been less than flattering. She hoped that by going home, she could at the very least get their approval. "Can you get my carry on, too please?"

"Sure." He fumbled in the dark the extracted the requested luggage. "How long you gonna be gone?" he asked, carrying the empty bags to her room.

"I'm not sure. I'm not even sure when I'm leaving."

"Tomorrow afternoon at four," Duncan announced coming into the room with a pad of paper. "Here's your confirmation number."

"You going, too?" Richie asked, straining to look at the reservation information.

"No." Before Richie could comment, he added. "Someone has to keep an eye on this kid that hangs around a lot and has a pesky little habit of getting into trouble."

"I can take care of myself," he protested.

"That has yet to be proven."

"You don't ever give me a chance!"

"Because I don't believe you."

Tessa smiled as the two bickered back and forth, slowly turning the 'argument' into a shoving match that turned into an all out wrestling free for all. Sighing, she thought about the things her mother had said on the phone about the two men she loved most in the world. Duncan was looking for nothing but a romantic plaything and was only showing interest in her because of her sexual appeal, that he had no real feelings for her. That any man who would stay with a woman out of wedlock for twelve years, wasn't worth her time or effort. A man that took a woman so far from her family only had deceit in mind. And Richie, a common thief not fit to live with such an accomplished, well bred woman, much less be her friend. Orphans didn't know the first thing about how to behave or interact with other people. They should just be given jobs that kept them out of sight. They weren't like the rest of "us". Richie was just a good example of what one would become if not properly handled.

They liked Duncan at first; he was a sweet gentleman caller. He impressed them with his charm and wit. It was when they announced they were going to America that the tables had turned. Suddenly, he wasn't the young man with the witty anecdotes, he was the traitor that was stealing their daughter. Their impression of Richie, unfortunately, was her fault, she feared. She had spoken to her mother about the late night incident a year ago when a young thief had broken in. Then she vented her frustration about him moving in, in a letter that she had regretted before it even made it to France. She had no doubt that if she introduced the pair in different circumstances, her parents would love them. But it was too late for first introductions, now all she could do was damage control.