I've been so busy since the finale last week that I haven't really had much time to write... and I'm busy for next few weeks, too. It's annoying, because my muse seems to be working overtime! Anyway, to all the people who keep asking me, I will be updating Just Pretend when I can. Meanwhile, here's a conversation about a different wedding...
The Wedding Planner
It had been a long day. In fact, long day didn't even begin to cover it. The last 24 hours had been crazy, with convergence and then that missing train (thank god the anomaly led to the Palaeolithic, and there hadn't been dinosaurs to contend with as they'd evacuated people back through and destroyed the train) but the weeks and months before it had been crazy enough as well. By rights they should all be catching up on their sleep.
Instead, they were at Jess' flat, seated on the floor around the coffee table having just finished eating three large pizzas. Becker was leaning back against one of Jess' sofas, Jess sitting next to him. Opposite them were Abby and Connor, and Matt and Emily were seated to their right.
They were talking and laughing about everything and nothing, but eventually there was a lull in the conversation. Connor shifted and then sat forward.
"So we're finally going to get off our arses and find our own place," he said.
Becker immediately looked at Jess, so he saw the way her face fell before she hitched a smile into place. "Oh," she said. "Okay."
Abby could obviously see through Jess' forced cheerfulness as easily as Becker could, because she gave her a knowing smile. "Yeah." Abby and Connor exchanged a look, and Becker started to suspect that there was something a bit deeper going on here. Abby reached out and took Connor's hand, and the two of them grinned at the rest of the group.
"You see, we're engaged."
Jess screamed. Literally screamed. It wasn't a squeal or a shriek – it was a full-throated, ear-busting scream. Becker jolted away from her, his hand coming up to protect his ear closest to Jess.
"Oh my god."
Jess threw him a sheepish look. "Sorry," she said. Then she turned back to Connor and Abby, completely ignoring him and his poor ear.
"Oh my god!" She exclaimed, leaning forward across the table to grasp Abby's hand. "Oh, I am so happy! When did this happen? How did it happen? How did you propose?"
Her last question was directed at Connor, who smirked in response. "Actually, Abby proposed to me."
Jess gasped. "Oh my god, how?" She demanded of Abby. "What did you say? Tell me everything!"
But, just as Abby opened her mouth to answer, Jess jumped to her feet and ran out of the room.
The rest of them blinked at each other in surprise before starting to laugh.
"Congratulations," Matt said, not looking all that surprised.
"Yes, congratulations to you both," Emily said with a wide smile.
Becker winked at Abby. "Well done," he said.
Jess chose that moment to run back into the room, a large ringbinder in her hands. She plopped back down next to Becker, and dropped the ringbinder onto the coffee table. It was cream with golden whirls over it, and at least five inches thick. The coffee table shook when the folder landed on top of it.
Connor's eyes widened. "What is that?"
"My sister got married last year – this is my planning folder," Jess said. She flipped open the front cover, slid her hand in between the sheets inside and turned about half of them over. The coffee table shook again. The page she'd opened it on was full of pictures wedding cakes.
Becker stared. Every page in the file was in a separate clear plastic folder, and the page he could see was covered in colour-coded notes in Jess' handwriting – Becker would bet good money that there were notes like that on every page. He also noticed that there was a set of numbers at the bottom of the page – Becker guessed it was some kind of organisational code.
"I have everything you need – dress designs, suit designs, caterers, photographers, venues – my sister got married in a hotel in Sussex, but there was this beautiful manor house in Surrey that I just fell in love with, and I was heartbroken they didn't get married there – promise me you'll consider it, promise me..."
Connor burst out laughing.
Jess bit her lip. "Sorry, too much I know... I just really love weddings..."
Connor shook his head. "No, I just – I've never seen Becker look so terrified!"
Everyone turned to look at him, and Becker tore his eyes away from the folder, blinking. He saw four smirks looking back at him. Jess was the only one who didn't smirk – instead she looked embarrassed. Becker waited for her cheeks to flush, the way they so often did (the way he pretended he didn't love) but instead she looked away, back at her folder. She started flipping through the pages.
"Well, some people are just scared of weddings..." She said airily. The others laughed, and Becker raised his eyebrows.
"I'm not scared of weddings," he protested. "I'm scared of wedding files large enough to stun a dracorex."
"Yeah, we could use a couple of them in the armoury..." Matt said.
Jess gave him and then Becker a Look, but both of them just grinned. Emily swatted Matt on the shoulder and knelt up to have a closer look at the folder.
"This is wonderful, Jess – you'll have to explain to me how all the traditions have changed from my time," she said.
"Ooh, yes! We can compare how everything's changed over the last hundred and fifty years – I've read about it, but you can tell me all about your own wedding..."
Becker looked over the top of Jess' head and caught Abby's eye. She was trying to hide it, but he could see the slight look of panic on her face. He smirked, and she noticed and scowled at him.
Connor noticed the exchange, and shook his head. "You'll have to get used to the planning," he told Becker. "Since you're going to be my best man."
Becker was thrown for a moment, but only for a moment. "I am, am I?" He said.
Connor smirked. "Yep."
Becker stared at him for a moment before shrugging. "Okay then." They smiled at each other.
Jess tutted. "Seriously, that's how you ask him to be the best man at your wedding?" She scoffed. "Men."
Abby grinned. "Well, that's how I was going to ask you to be my maid of honour, but I'll think of something else..."
Becker flung his arms up to protect his head as Jess screamed again, somehow even louder than before. When he lowered his arms he found that Jess had thrown herself across the coffee table to hug Abby, who was laughing as she hugged her back.
"Abby, Connor, when you two get pregnant for the first time, please give me ear plugs before you tell Jess," Becker said.
They all laughed, and Jess stuck her tongue out at Becker as she sat back again.
"Emily, you're a bridesmaid too," Abby said.
"Thank you, Abby," Emily said, grinning. "I'd be delighted."
"Oh, yeah," Connor said. "Matt –you're like, assistant best man. Or co- best man, or something."
Matt chuckled. "Right. Thanks." He looked at Becker and in a split second of silent communication they began planning the stag party. They turned away to hide their evil grins.
"Ooh, let's start by dressing the boys!" Jess exclaimed, flipping through her folder. "Now, I think top hats are a bit over the top unless you have the venue for it, but you have to have morning coats." She opened the folder to a page of men in grey suits. Becker's evil grin was quickly wiped off his face at the sight of the cravats and waistcoats.
"Well, Becker and Matt have to wear their army uniforms, don't they?" Connor asked with a confused frown. He looked at Becker. "That's the rule, right?"
Becker raised an eyebrow. "Well, Matt's no longer in the army, so he doesn't get to wear his uniform to anything," he said, giving Matt a smirk. "And the rule is you wear your uniform to your own wedding, not to your friends'."
"You know, I don't think I've ever seen you in uniform," Abby said thoughtfully.
"Life is cruel," Becker quipped.
Connor grinned. "We'll have to try and get him down the aisle, see how he scrubs up," he said.
Becker rolled his eyes.
Abby laughed. "Yeah, I can just imagine him, red jacket with gold lace..."
"He wouldn't wear a red jacket," Jess chimed in. She was flipping through her wedding folder and hadn't looked up when she spoke. Becker raised his eyebrows – she was right, but after the latest royal wedding most people seemed to think the same as Abby, so he was surprised Jess didn't as well. She had loved the royal wedding.
"Prince William wore a red jacket," Abby said, proving Becker's point.
Jess looked up at her. "Prince William is in the RAF," she said. "Though the jacket he wore was actually the Colonel's uniform of the Irish Guards – he was given an honorary dispensation to wear it. No – Becker is in the SAS, so he'll wear a dark blue jacket and trousers, and the trousers have a light blue stripe on the side, and the same colour blue stable belt. And he'll wear his badges and his SAS wings and all that. Oh, and white gloves and a peaked cap."
It took Jess a few moments to realise that everyone was staring at her in silence. "What?"
"You know an awful lot about what Becker will wear to his wedding," Abby said with a smirk.
Becker watched as Jess' eyes widened. She started to glace at him but her eyes darted elsewhere before she looked at him properly. Becker raised an eyebrow as she started to backpedal. "Well yes, I mean, I don't know because of... I just... I know uniforms."
Abby grinned. "Well, who doesn't love a man in uniform?"
Jess shook her head. "I don't... I mean, yeah – it's... um..."
Becker decided the embarrassed babbling had gone on long enough. "You were almost right," he cut in.
Jess looked at him, as he knew she would. "Almost?" She asked. She hated being wrong.
Becker nodded. "Yep," he said. "I'll also be wearing a ceremonial sabre."
Jess' eyes widened and the blush that had been missing earlier crept into her cheeks. "Oh." She turned away, and in profile Becker could clearly see her swallow.
He looked up and caught Abby's eyes across the table. She shook her head. 'You're so mean' she mouthed at him. Becker smirked.
He sat forward and slid the wedding folder along the table to sit in front of him. "Let's choose the bridesmaid dresses," he said. He looked at Jess. "I think orange."
Jess was still blushing, but she narrowed her eyes at him. "I happen to look amazing in orange," she said. "In fact, the most expensive piece of clothing I own is a burnt orange backless silk evening gown."
Becker's imagination was able to conjure that up for him very nicely and extremely quickly, and all he could do was nod. "Oh," he said, turning back to the folder.
He really hoped Jess didn't notice his ears had gone red.
"To the wedding," Matt said suddenly – Becker looked to see that he had raised his glass. "Whatever we end up wearing, I think it's going to be a memorable one."
They all clinked their glasses, proclaiming the toast. Becker gulped down almost half of his beer, his eyes falling on the page he'd flipped onto in the wedding folder – it was an advert for a photographer, with half a dozen snapshots. He stared at the one of the best man and the maid of honour dancing together.
He had a feeling Matt would be proved right.