Two fics in one night! The missing wedding scene from Blame It On the Perfume.
Un-beta'ed, so quibble away.
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I Now Pronounce You Husband and Chess
Holly Black had long ago given up dreams of finishing her graduate degree. She'd put herself through university and the long process of getting a license from the American Humanist Association on scholarship after scholarship. The graduate's degree had been halfway done when the scholarships stopped. Her loving father had stepped in at that point with a job offer. Holly had reluctantly agreed—she'd been aiming for the degree so she could get the heck out of Ochun before she got stuck there for the rest of her life.
What everyone else saw there, she didn't know. Life under a microscope was a lot more interesting anyways.
And yet, here she was: Closing down another boring day at the Black Wedding Chapel, with nothing to show for it. Just about everyone had a wedding chapel in Ochun these days. Back before licenses to operate one had been easy to obtain, Black's had been the busiest one in Ochun. Three generations of her family had run it, throwing together everything from shotgun weddings to elopements to full-scale orchestra-and-real-catering style weddings.
Holly liked the latter the most. The dresses the women wore were gorgeous. She liked the frothy princess ones with lacework the most. Unfortunately they, like her degree in molecular biology, were way out of reach. They were expensive, and she had no reason to wear one anyways.
The twenty-six-year-old looked up when the door opened. She'd been sweeping imaginary dust away just to kill time until nine pm, when the chapel officially closed for the night. (Dad, stubborn old bastard that he was, still refused to let the chapel stay open any later than nine. She was just waiting for the nursing home to declare him senile so she could keep the building open longer. Most customers tended to come when they thought no one was watching.)
"Case in point," Holly muttered. At least this couple was cute. The taller one—marginally speaking, since both of them were both pretty tall—had dark, curly hair. If he cut it any shorter, though, his ears were going to stick out worse than they did. The other guy was blonde, and he had curly hair too.
Why did the blonde guy look familiar? Holly wondered, settling her broom against the pulpit. Oh well. No time for questions! Customers were customers, after all. And she really needed the money.
"Hey," she said cheerfully, fixing her "I love the customers!" smile on her face. "Are you here to get married, or looking for a bar?" Judging by how goofy their smiles were, it was probably a bit of both. Oh well. At least divorces were easier to obtain in Ochun than a marriage license. They could regret their mistake and fix it in the morning.
"Absolutely," the blonde guy replied, smiling. His eyes crinkled at the corners, Holly noticed. She gave herself a mental shake. On top of needing money to finance her degree, she really needed to get laid. Maybe she'd look up Jake Lofgren again after this shift was over…
"Can you fit us in?" the brunette asked, voice quieter and more reserved. Holly automatically dubbed him James Bond. He had a nice accent, and he was really cute up close. Either way, he was still a paying customer.
"Of course I can," Holly replied, smiling. She headed behind the pulpit to dig out the tools of the trade—marriage license, fountain pen, duplicates of the license for the city clerk's office, and half a dozen different religious texts. Just in case the couple wanted to add in a god as a witness to the proceedings, of course. Her work phone joined the pile on the pulpit. No matter how much people wanted to get married, they still needed witnesses. The first six numbers programmed into her phone were for local prostitutes who'd sign as witness in exchange for space to sleep in her apartment for the night, plus five percent from the wedding.
Number seven was Jake Lofgren. He usually only came in to witness if he got kicked out of a casino before he could cheat them out of several million dollars.
"Okay, gentlemen," Holly said, still faking cheerfulness. "I've got everything except a witness. There are seven numbers here; pick the one you want and we can proceed when they get here."
"Do you offer this to everyone?" James Bond-man asked, sounding interested. Maybe they weren't as drunk as she'd first thought, Holly decided. He wasn't slurring, or anything. He did look like he'd rather be screwing his boyfriend into the floor, though. (That would definitely not be happening. She had enough problems without health code violations, thanks.)
"Yes sir. It's all part of the Black Wedding Chapel service."
"Hey, I know that name!" Blondie sounded excited as he perused the list of numbers on her phone. Holly resisted the urge to groan or bury her face in her hands. Great. Blondie was either a pimp or a prostitute. That left the question as to who James Bond-boy was. (She kept repeating the mantra "money is money, and I need it" to keep herself from throwing both of them out. If it was a scam, at least they were drunk enough to be happy enough to ignore it. Money was money, and she really needed it.)
Fifteen minutes later, some of Holly's fears were laid to rest. Jake Lofgren came through the door, looking quite dishabille. He'd probably just been thrown out of a casino, then. As soon as he caught sight of the two men sitting on one of the pews, trying to find each other's tonsils from the sounds they were making, his eyes went comically wide and his mouth dropped open.
"Holly, sweetie," Jake said in an undertone. "I… Do you read the news much?"
Holly nodded, wondering what was going on. "Am I missing something regarding those guys?" she asked. "Please let one of them be a bank robber or a pole dancer. I need something to cheer me up tonight," she added, catching the gambler's look.
"Hols, one of them is supposed to be dead. And the guy doing an exam of his tonsils is Peter Fleming. I think you might have heard of them."
Holly's smile became genuine, and not just a touch evil. Her camera—rarely dragged out, unless the couple getting married paid for pictures—was placed on the small shelf just underneath the podium. She could practically feel the parchment of her graduate diploma in her hands already.
"Shit," Jake muttered. "Just…hold the presses until tomorrow, alright?"
"Anything for you, my dearest bestest friend," Holly said, smiling sweetly at Jake. He'd just made her day. And the tabloids were going to start a bidding war for each picture she took.
Jake managed to get the couple separated from their rather intense game of tonsil hockey after three minutes of explaining that Holly was going to throw them out and they would never get married. Getting Vince—the blonde guy who was supposed to be dead—into better clothing than whatever the hell he was wearing, took less time. Peter Fleming just readjusted his tie with a smug smirk and stood in front of Holly's podium as he waited for his husband-to-be.
Vince Faraday, for a guy who was supposed to be dead, looked pretty damn good in a dark blue suit with a lighter blue button-up shirt. He was still wearing his combat boots, but you couldn't have everything, Holly supposed. As long as he and Peter were happy… Or drunk, she amended mentally.
The service took relatively little time. She had decided, when she'd first started doing the ceremonies, that the opportunity for the audience to object, was never going to be a part of it. Made everything so much easier to organize and get done, in her opinion.
"You have made your vows in front of a witness and half a dozen different gods," Holly said as Peter and Vince finished the vows they'd obviously thought up in about fifteen seconds. "So, by the power vested in me by the American Humanist Association and every judge in Ochun, I now pronounce you married. A kiss to seal the deal."
It definitely wasn't traditional or even acceptable by most couples' standards, but Holly had a feeling that these two weren't going for anything even remotely approaching traditional. And they were drunk, so they wouldn't remember it anyways. The tonsil hockey lasted for nearly a minute before Lofgren reminded them that they needed to sign the license and the copy for the clerk's office, or it wouldn't stick for very long.
After the two men had signed and left with their copy, Holly turned to Jake.
"So what?" he replied, shoving his hands in his pockets. He was wearing a loud Hawaiian t-shirt, tucked into dark blue jeans. He looked bored again, but Holly thought that was normal for the former military man.
"You want to tell me about this over coffee? I'll pay."
Jake smiled at her. "You know, I'm going to want copies of those pictures you took," he said conversationally as Holly turned the lights off in the chapel and locked the doors.
"After the tabloids buy 'em first, babe," Holly replied, tucking her camera into her messenger bag.
She had no idea just how much trouble those pictures were going to cause in twenty-four hours. Either way, she was pretty damn happy with the results. Peter Fleming had left a hell of a lot of money, Jake Lofgren was being friendly, and the tabloids were going to fork over a fortune for the pictures.
What harm could she possibly be doing?
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So, what did you think? Good? Bad? Will Peter sue Holly if he ever remembers just who took pictures at his elopement? Drop a line and let me know!