A/N: There is no excuse for the lack of updates. Sorry :\ Some lines taken directly out of the Wedding Date's original script.
They had the whole three-hour shuttle ride to talk, plan out their stories, get ideas for little personality traits that would make Holly's family love Root.
In retrospect, they had that time to make up a story about how they'd first met, how far along their relationship was, and a few mortifyingly embarrassing anecdotes like the ones other couples always seemed so keen to share with everyone that they came across.
They had the time to come up with a profession, and even a life story, for Root.
Instead, they spent it in silence.
Well, there were moments of conversation, but most of it was rushed, nervous, or strained. When they'd sat down, Holly had thanked Root for doing this, and grudgingly admitted that he looked nice. He'd said the same of her, agreeing with Vinyaya that the hair was a nice touch.
They'd had a quick conversation about the new LEP equipment that was going to be tested next week after Root had taken a call about something related to it, and around halfway through the flight, he began another.
"So, about that name...."
After a few minutes of trying out different aliases, they decided it would be in both of their best interests to just keep his first name the same- after all, she hardly mentioned the commander to her family, and was certain she never addressed him as anything other than Root. He hated the name with a passion, but was used to responding to it nevertheless, so it seemed it would stick. For a last name they'd decided he would be a distant cousin of Trouble's, so Kelp it was.
Finally, when the pilot announced they had thirty minutes left, Holly sighed. Julius raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. After a moment, she began to speak.
"You know how some people have these absolutely crazy families, but in the end everyone loves each other anyway, because, well, they're family after all?" Root nodded nervously, and Holly continued, "Well mine's not like that. I love my dad, but really he's my step-dad, so he's more like a hostage. Mum is insane. In that way that you had no idea anyone could actually be that crazy. Ivy is...Ivy thinks she's blonde. Then there's crazy Great-Aunt Fran...." Root listened carefully as Holly launched into a tirade of family relations and traits, occasionally asking questions to make sure he'd gotten it all right.
Thirty minutes later, they were both standing in a large room filled with the types of fairies who Julius would associate least with Holly. They were all dressed to the nines, many had dyed and styled hair, and conversation didn't get much deeper than who was dating whom nowadays. Holly was clutching his arm, hard, and he was trying his best to put on a pleasant expression more realistic than her painfully forced smile. To his surprise, he thought as he caught their reflection in one of the many mirrors scattered around the room, it worked.
"Holly! Oh Holly, Holly, Holly, darling!" an older elf appeared from what seemed to be nowhere, wearing not only a skirt-suit but also a large, floppy hat, and Julius was almost certain he saw a pair of gloves peeking out of her pocket. She grabbed Holly's shoulders and gave her a once-over before pulling her tight. Julius suspected that she'd had a few drinks. "Baby, honey, you've finally come to your senses!" she cried, pulling back. "Oh, look at your hair, so gorgeous, though it could stand to be just a little longer- and this dress! Really not the best cut, but never mind, you've bought yourself a dress!" the elf's eyes began to water slightly.
"Er...yes, mum. It's good to see you too," remarked Holly, more than a bit uncertain. Her mother however didn't seem to notice or care, and quickly turned to Root, giving him the same once-over she'd given to Holly.
"And who's this?" Holly opened her mouth, but didn't seem to be able to make any noise. Root took matters into his own hands.
"Julius," he said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. I'm the new guy. It's wonderful to finally meet you." Holly's mother shot her a very conspicuous, exaggerated 'I'm impressed' look, then beamed back at him.
"Well, come along you two, we haven't got any time to waste," she directed, leading them deeper into the crowd before turning back to face Holly. "This is a marathon, not a sprint," she advised sagely. "After welcome cocktails, you've got the hen party. Tomorrow there's a picnic then the rehearsal dinner, and since you've conveniently left no margin for jet lag-" Julius suddenly remembered that the surface was five hours behind time in underground, "well, I need you to hydrate, baby." She pinched one of Holly's cheeks, then gave it two light pats before turning and disappearing, ignoring both fairies' shocked faces.
"Wow," hissed Root, raising his eyebrows and looking down at Holly incredulously.
"Yeah," she nodded, pursing her lips and looking back at him. He shook his head and they both looked around. A tall, slightly portly fairy was walking towards them.
"Dad!" Holly grinned, throwing her arms around him and squeezing. He smiled.
"Hey, kiddo. Good to see you all in one piece. Guess Bunny fell for the disguise?" Root decided Bunny must be Holly's mother, and now would not be a good time to ask about the name. Holly was talking now.
"Dad, meet Julius." She waved at him, again touching his arm, and Julius extended a hand.
"Sir," he said politely. Holly had finally adjusted to the overwhelming party enough to be utterly shocked by his perfect behavior. In a way, it was a bit frightening. She was quickly distracted by the appearance of Ivy in the doorway to their left.
Root looked up as he felt Holly's hand leave his arm and saw a tiny fairy with dyed blonde hair wearing the kind of dress that he couldn't imagine anyone getting on Holly even if she was dead. She had struck a pose, martini in one hand, laughing prettily.
"I'm getting married!" she shrieked, looking like she was about to start jumping up and down. Holly let out a laugh so shrill that it made Root wince in reply. He looked over at Holly's dad, who had introduced himself as Victor, and saw that he was wincing, too.
"I find a good, strong drink helps," he advised, and Root nodded.
"Shall I, er, get you a refill, sir?" the man nodded, watching Holly and Ivy, who were now embracing enthusiastically. Julius carefully sniffed the glass. "Scotch?"
"Over rocks, yes. Good man," said Victor, clapping him on the back.
A smile quipped at the edge of Root's mouth as he caught the look on Holly's face as she talked to Ivy, their hands entwined and faces close together. She at least seemed truly happy to see her sister.
As he headed to the bar, Holly felt a hand on her shoulder and turned slightly to face her stepfather.
"Where'd you find this guy?" he asked appreciatively. Holly laughed.
"Oh, you know...I suppose it was just fate," she shrugged, laughing harder at the idea in her mind. The whole situation was just surreal. Victor laughed, too, knowing Holly's take on what was and wasn't fate.
Suddenly, there was a loud clinking noise coming from the front of the room, where a small raised platform stood. Bunny was standing on top of it, tapping a knife against a champagne flute, cheeks slightly flushed. "Welcome, friends and family!"
She took the thin, wireless mic that someone offered her, and tapped it. A loud, screeching noise filled the room.
"Sweet gods who gave that woman an amp," mourned Holly, face contorted in pain as she rubbed her ears after the echo of the noise subsided.
Bunny seemed to be drunk with happiness, as well as possibly in other ways. "Victor and I would like to specially thank our out-of-town guests, who have come to celebrate with us as we welcome Edward and the Bulbs into our family." She gestured down at an older fairy couple, who, Ivy whispered into, her ear were George and Lydia. George shifted nervously, and Lydia waved at everyone as if they were her subjects.
Root, standing at the bar, was watching a young fairy with very dark auburn hair look around the room, trying to locate someone, and every so often rising up onto the balls of his feet to try to peer over all of the hats and crowd. Finally his gaze settled, and he looked longingly across the room. Root followed his gaze to see Holly, who was rubbing her ears in pain and didn't notice either of the elves who were looking at her. This must be the Nick fellow that Trouble had mentioned.
Bunny was still talking. "It's funny, we always thought we'd marry off Holly first. We came close once, you know, but well that crashed and burned." Nervous laughter rang through the room, and Root saw Holly smile in a way that was clearly covering up a pained or murderous expression (or both), and the fairy staring at her wince before looking around. Julius watched his eyes land on a piano, which he began pushing through the crowd to get to.
"Still, we had reason to hope. She was always one of the more 'active' girls at school, which was saying a lot, really," continued Bunny, oblivious to the embarrassed shuffling happening all around. Suddenly, a loud arpeggio sounded from the piano, interrupting her. Several people laughed as she looked around, then spotted the piano, which Nick was sitting at, hands held over the keys. "Okay, okay. I get the hint," she stated, smiling and completely unabashed. "Well, anyway, imagine our surprise when Eddy moves in next door, and falls in love with....The girl next door, our Ivy." A couple whoops sounded from a group in the corner, who Julius thought looked young enough to be cousins or friends. "Yes, and luckily for us, he had no idea it was an unforgivable cliché." Bunny raised her glass. "A toast to the bride and groom to be. Congratulations, babies!" There was a loud round of applause and the unmistakable sound of several people sighing. Julius looked over at Holly, who was letting out a breath that she hadn't even noticed she was holding, and picked up his and Victor's drinks from the bar before walking back over.
A good while later, Holly found an opportunity to sneak off and use the loo. As she reached the door, Nick stepped out of the one at the other end of the hall. Their eyes met, and Holly fiercely refused to acknowledge the emotions that ware leaving her feeling as if someone had just punched her in the gut. They stared at each other for several seconds before she finally smiled nervously.
"Thanks for the piano...it was...you know...." she quickly pointed to the bathroom door. "I have to pee." She slunk quickly into the loo, really not needing to use it at all but just wanting to be alone and away from all the chaos for a moment. She waited a second, then turned on the tap as if she were washing her hands and looked at her reflection, disgusted by it. She supposed she did look pretty, put it was far too impractical and uncomfortable to do all this makeup and styling and nail-care every day. The hair would be easy, she admitted, but long hair got so insufferably hot.
She reached into her tiny bag and pulled out a tube of lipstick, probably the bit of the entire thing she found most revolting. You would think, she thought, smearing it on, that they could at least make this stuff taste good.
She turned off the tap and exited the tiny room, only to find herself again face to face with Nick. D'Arvit. Be strong, Holly.
"Nick. Hello," she said evenly, smiling very slightly.
"Hey, Holly," he replied, leaning in to kiss her on the cheek. That was not supposed to happen, she thought, letting her eyelids droop and inhaling his scent. "You look...stunning. I miss your hair short, though," he said, stepping back to look at her. She smiled a little wider and was about to reply when suddenly something large and wild with black hair hit her side.
"Holly Short! We live fifty minutes away from each other yet I have to come all the way up to the bloody surface to see you! You haven't visited me ONCE since I moved, and I have gynecologists who call more often than you do!"
Holly stared at her cousin, Tabitha, who had finished tackling her and was now standing in an accusatory pose, hands on her hips. "You have more than one gynecologist?" she asked, disturbed.
"Sure. You've got to play them against each other, or else they think you're easy." She turned to Nick, apparently just realizing he was there. "Hullo, asshole. Since you brutally dumped my cousin here without cause, you won't mind if I steal her away? I have all sorts of interesting things to tell her." She glared at Nick one last time then dragged Holly away.
They walked back into the main room, Tabitha shouting greetings at random people while Holly searched to find Julius. "You didn't have to do that," she said over the hubbub of conversation and tapping glasses.
"I wasn't saving you from him, I was saving you from yourself," she replied, winking at someone Holly had never seen before. "You're too bloody nice with him, odd as you're tough as a nail with anyone else."
"Don't worry, I'm over him," Holly lied. She waited a second, debating the question before asking, "Do you know if he's seeing anyone?" She finally spotted Julius, talking to her mother and surrounded by very old ladies, and tried not to laugh. However, he didn't look uncomfortable at all. In fact, he appeared to be charming the orthopedic shoes and prim nylons off of them.
"Why waste ten more seconds on slimey-limey when you've got Mr. Tie-me-up-Tie-me-down over there?" asked Tabitha, looking appreciatively at Root. Holly tried not to snort, wondering what it would be like if all the people who were so impressed by Julius could have seen him a few short months ago.
Julius stood patiently leaning against the bar, listening to Bunny pouring out her slightly twisted heart.
"After Holly's father died and I married Victor I was so desperate for my little darling to love him. It never occurred to me that she might love him more," she went on, continuing the retelling of her life she'd begun ten minutes ago. Root spotted Holly, who was around 50 feet away, and attempted to give her a suggestive 'come hither look.' It must have worked, because the elf beside her lost all color in her face and looked like she might swoon as she sighed.
"What does he do again?" Tabitha asked dreamily.
"Therapist," answered Holly hastily as they walked towards him, because that was what she was going to need after this.
An hour later, Holly was still standing next to him at the bar. The bartender handed her a drink, which she held without sipping from. A second later, a high voice came from a stool a couple feet away.
"Can I have that?" Root looked down the bar to see Ivy sitting there, smiling dazzlingly. Holly set the drink on the bar, but Ivy couldn't reach it from her stool, despite an exaggerated movement towards it, and whimpered. Holly pushed it sideways a few more inches and she grabbed the edge and dragged it over, sipping through the straw without picking it up. Root raised his eyebrows and looked imploringly at Holly for what must have been the millionth time, but she only shook her head and rolled her eyes.
"You know what I love about all this?" asked Ivy, as the bartender handed Holly something which she downed so quickly that Root couldn't help being impressed.
"There's finally a reason for the whole world to revolve around you?" guessed Holly, setting the glass down and refusing the bartender's offer of another as she sat down next to Ivy.
"Exactly!" she purred. "Today's my day. Tomorrow will be my day. And the day after that? My day." She grinned dreamily as another elf waltzed over.
"How's the future Mrs.?" he asked, as she kissed him heavily on the lips. He was remarkably unaffected by his upper-class family, Holly thought, wondering about with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, hair messed and tie undone.
"Perfect," giggled Ivy, letting go. "All ginny."
"Except it's scotch," Holly pointed out. Root chuckled and squeezed her shoulder. Holly marveled that they were somehow pulling this off without making each other sick.
Ivy ignored them. "But I'm not taking your name! I'm a femanist!" she giggled and almost fell off her stool. Holly looked at her degradingly, though her face revealed amusement recovered her balance and shook her glass. "I need more icy! Get me more icy, Mr. husband-man!" she ordered, still giggling.
"All right, then kiss me," bartered Ed, wrapping an arm around her waist. She did. "Gods, I'm a lucky sod," he said to Holly and Root, winking. "You know, darling, I think you've had enough for now. Come dance with me," he offered, lifting Ivy off the stool.
"You can't dance, Eddy," she slurred as he set her down.
"I very well can," he contradicted, beginning to move oddly before stepping on her foot. "Whoops-sorry!"
"See what happens when you put off dance lessons til two days before the wedding?" Ivy asked, swaying slightly. Holly wasn't sure if it was to the music or due to her sister being incredibly light-weight and the amount of alcohol she'd consumed in the past few hours.
Edward looked to Root for support. "Who's ever heard of dance lessons for a wedding, really?" he asked.
"Just about everyone," admitted Root, laughing.
"You are taking the piss?" he asked, looking to Holly, shocked. She shook her head.
"We'll go with you tomorrow," Julius offered, putting an arm around Holly. That contact was going a little too far, she thought, feeling awkward, but it would be weird to move now. "I suck too, so it should be fun." Holly's thoughts escaped her boss' arm long enough to realize what he was talking about. Oh, gods no!
However, Ivy already looked delighted and gave Root a smooch on the cheek. "I don't even know you, hunky-dunky, and I love you already!"
Holly made an odd choking sound as she tried with all of her might not to give into laughter. Her diaphragm and lungs felt like they were going to burst as she lifted one hand to her throat and used the other to cling to the stool, which she was about to fall off of. Julius absentmindedly thumped her on the back. This just kept getting better and better.
"Dance lessons," Edward muttered to himself, looking crestfallen.
It was only fifteen minutes or so before Root managed to escape, but still it felt like ages in the company of Ivy, who he had no earthly idea how Holly could stand.
Stepping out onto a balcony that looked out to fields of green, he sighed in relief and leaned against the wall behind him, enjoying the fresh air and the view. It was only then that he noticed Nick, leaning against the railing and looking rather forlorn. The man had noticed him, too, and Root nodded politely.
"Hey," said the man. "Crazy in there, eh?"
Root shrugged. "A wedding is a sacrament...a joyous celebration of love and commitment. In Utopia. In the real world, it's an excuse to drink excessively and say things you shouldn't say."
"Oh, a philosopher," observed Nick, rolling his eyes.
"Shrink, actually," he corrected. Holly had told him what profession she'd told her cousin, and as much as he didn't like her choice it was easy enough to fake.
"D'Arvit," sighed the other elf. Julius furrowed his brow.
"What?" he asked. He didn't particularly care, but he thought Julius Kelp probably would, and the man seemed eager to talk anyway.
"Nothing, nothing... It's just, fairies these days, and your therapy, it's great," he paused, looking Julius over, "it's just all a bit too touchy-feely for me." The reason why he was choosing to look into the doors instead of at the uncommon view became apparent as Julius followed the elf's gaze for the third time that day, only to see that he was looking wistfully over at Holly and Ivy before turning back to Julius and, judging by the look on his face, quickly changing his mind about therapy.
"It's just...there's this girl I care for, gods, maybe you could even say I love her, and the bugger is she's here with someone else. D'Arvit!" Root hid his surprise as Nick raised his glass in a silent toast to his own misery. He had just raised his glass to meet the other man's when Holly walked over and wrapped her arm around his.
"Here you are," she smiled up at him. Nick looked horrified, eyes darting back and forth between them.
"Hey, Holly," he managed after a minute, voice strained.
"Hey yourself." She turned her head back to Root. "I see you've met my ex." For a minute, the three all stood there, in a frozen awkward silence. "Did I interrupt something?" Holly finally asked. Nick looked desperately at Julius, who hesitated for a moment, then covered.
"I was just telling Nick here how we met," he lied. Holly shot him a confused look, and he smiled warmly at her. "The cricket game? We both wanted the last hotdog?"
"Oh, right," replied Holly, now smiling back. She turned and spoke pointedly to Nick. "So we split it. You know, as in 'share'. Fairies do that."
"You hate watching sports," Nick pointed out. Holly squeezed Julius' arm adoringly.
"Not when Julius is there to keep me busy during the slow parts," she replied. Thank the gods the look on Nick's face was so entertaining, because she'd be mentally gagging if it wasn't.
"Right. Well, I should be going. Good to meet you. Maybe I'll see you at the stag party?" he asked Root. He turned to Holly. "You know the street." Holly watched him walk back into the room and rejoin the party.
"He looks miserable," she commented, not sounding disturbed at all. "What were you talking about?"
"Love," Root answered, smiling. They were still standing close together, and Holly pondered how weird it was to see him smile without trying to hide it-and the likeliness of her commander having a conversation about love.
Her face was about to split into two from grinning, excitement rushing through her system, as they too rejoined the party. Her hand slipped down to join with Root's as a woman she thought might be an aunt looked critically at them. It wasn't as revolting as she would have thought- his palms didn't sweat and his calluses weren't horrible, anyway.
"He was pretty drunk, but I think he's still crazy about you," Julius continued, squeezing her hand lightly before letting go after they navigated through the crowd. She hardly registered the unnecessary gesture in her giddiness.
"Of course he is," she grinned still wider, "I'm here with my new man." She actually giggled now. She took her alcohol well, but there were still limits to what any elf could handle without getting a little silly. "I love it! Your magic's already working, and who even knew that you HAD that kind of magic-sorry," she hastily covered, but he didn't seem too wounded. "Anyway, let the suffering begin," she cackled.
He touched her arm to stop her, and she looked at him, seeing more than a trace of the stern commander in his eyes now. "The only one suffering here is you. You need to stop worrying about everyone else. God knows you don't do it enough in the LEP."
She grimaced. "Yeah, well in the LEP everyone...almost everyone can actually take care of themselves." He watched her look from Ivy to her mother, now dragging Victor around to meet seemingly random people. She continued to look around, tension creeping back into her figure.
"What did he say exactly? I mean, you don't think he wants me back? You're a guy, you can read into all those...Guyish things, right?" she floundered, becoming insecure. It was odd how much being around her family changed her, he thought.
"I don't know," he shrugged.
She sighed. "Some help you are. What does your gut say?" she continued dramatically, getting silly again.
"You're too good for him," answered Root honestly, looking down at her. She blinked in surprise, then smiled nervously at the unexpected compliment. They stood there, watching the room and its occupants in remarkably companionable silence.
A/N: Hey guys! I missed y'all! So sorry for the wait, I don't have any excuses other than I just...lost interest, I suppose. But here you are, a brand new chapter!
Also, if you're going to review please don't use the time to sit there and bash the Holly/Root ship. What you say about it doesn't at all faze me and just makes you seem rude, immature and more often than not aloof (and not in an impressive way.)