The wedding was set for that Saturday, but due to a storm that unexpectedly blew through the area they postponed it to Sunday. Sunday turned out to be the perfect day, the previous day's rain had cooled the normally arid atmosphere and the sun hung brightly in the sky as if to celebrate the occasion.
The wedding was to take place on a bluff overlooking a lake, an arch was set up near the edge so that through it the water and horizon could be seen. The arch was white oak decorated with flowers on vines running down each spire to the base. Strung around the site were tents, some to be used as changing rooms, others as kitchens for the caterers, and one huge open tent in the center for the reception. Many tables and chairs sat under the tent, more chairs than were, in fact, required. The guest list wasn't that large. Rows of chairs were arranged in front of the stage for the guests to sit, leaving an aisle straight from the bride's tent to the arch.
The bride's tent had been reserved for Claire and Vanille, Fang was relegated to the groom's tent, much to her chagrin. Vanille was changing into her dress when Serah knocked on the flap before opening it. "Hey, are you almost ready? The guests have started to show up already."
A line of cars traveled slowly down the only road towards the makeshift pavilion. Amongst the guests were the entire Rangers team, many of Vanille's co-workers and most of the neighborhood families. They took up space under the reception tent, drank from the already filled wine glasses that had been set out by the caterer and waited for the main event. Some mingled but most kept to themselves.
Lined up on the stage in front of the arch were Vanille's bridesmaids, most of them co-workers and Fang standing as maid of honor looking awkward. As was apparently tradition, the bridesmaid's outfits were god awful, Fang didn't need to wonder if tangerine orange was her color. It wasn't. Hope looked ecstatic in his suit and tie with his men of honor lined up behind him, including several members of the Rangers. His mother and father sat in the crowd, all smiles.
The guests were all chatting amongst themselves before the bridal music started playing. All conversation stopped and all eyes turned to the bride's tent when Vanille began her walk down the aisle, followed closely by Serah. She wore a smile as broad as her belly, which stuck out noticeably as she approached and took her place across from Hope. Serah took her place amongst the bridesmaids in their hideous dresses. The preacher spoke in a deep voice that rolled across the gathered. "Who is giving away the bride?"
"That would be me." Fang stepped up to Vanille and pulled the veil down over her face. She whispered, "I think this is the happiest I've seen you since leaving Oerba." She gave her a quick kiss on the forehead before turning to face Hope. "Now you be good to her," she punched her hand to add emphasis to her words, "or else." Hope nodded, his smile never faded, and Allie came up the aisle holding a pillow with two rings on it. Hope and Vanille took their rings and thanked her before she turned around and headed back for the tent.
All gathered returned their attention to the minister, who began with a prayer. The gathering was deathly quiet save for his voice. "Do you, Hope Estheim, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
"I do." He slid the ring on Vanille's finger and waited for his turn.
"And do you, Oerba Dia Vanille," the minister had a hard time pronouncing her name and a few in the crowd chuckled, "take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
"I do." She slid the ring onto his finger, binding them together.
"If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace." No voice rose up. "Then, by the power invested in me by the state of Texas, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Hope lifted the veil over Vanille's face and kissed her, a more subdued kiss than he would have liked, and the crowd cheered. Afterwards they walked hand in hand down the aisle and back to the tent. The minister excused himself, he refused to take part in Claire and Fang's ceremony on moral grounds, so a justice of the peace was nearby to take over for the second half.
Fang was more than happy to be rid of the tangerine orange outfit and was noticeably nervous as she put on a close fitting blue dress that she had decided on, it was tasteful but not showy, and made her way back out to the stage. Most of her former, and now current, teammates waved, or shook her hand if they sat close enough, and she took her place standing alone before the archway. She didn't wait long.
Claire stepped out of the tent wearing her new wedding dress and the crowd grew silent yet again. She walked slowly feeling all the eyes of those gathered upon her and, for once, enjoying it. Her smile was apparently infectious as Fang's face turned up in a smile even as her eyes turned down to admire her soon to be wife's dress. Allie walked slowly behind her carrying their wedding rings on another pillow, her smile just as wide as her parents. She had practically begged to be the ring bearer and her parents were happy to approve.
Claire stood in front of the altar and Fang took her hands into her own. "You look beautiful, love. That dress is amazing."
Claire smiled, "I'm glad you like it." She leaned in close and whispered, "It was expensive, so you're not tearing it off of me tonight."
They took the rings from Allie and turned to the presiding justice. She smiled at them, "You sure picked a lovely day for this, and you both look stunning." She had spoken just to them, but now she spoke so that everyone could hear her. "We are gathered here to join Claire Farron and Oerba Yun Fang in matrimony. If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace." No voice rose in objection, the justice waited for an appropriate amount of time before continuing. "Do you, Claire Farron, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
Claire looked into Fang's eyes, "I do." She slid the ring onto Fang's finger.
"And do you, Oerba Yun Fang, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
Fang returned the look. "I do." She slid the ring onto Claire's finger.
"Then, by the power invested in me by the great state of Texas, I now pronounce you married. You may now kiss each other."
Fang, showing an uncharacteristic amount of restraint, placed a soft kiss on the lips of her, now, wife. A cheer swept through the crowd, most were happy to see the new couple, but plenty were just happy that it was over so they could get to the reception and the open bar. Fang didn't care as she walked hand in hand with her wife back to the pavilion, she was happy to be with the woman she loved.
After changing into more casual clothing, Fang and Claire checked out the food table and were swept up in conversation until the music changed and all attention turned to the dance floor where Vanille and Hope would share their traditional first dance. The live band, paid for by Fang who had refused to have a dj play at her wedding, played a Tchaikovsky ballad while Hope and Vanille spun around each other on the floor. Since her belly protruded Vanille's equilibrium was off and she almost tripped on a few occasions, but Hope held her until the number was over and the gathered applauded the new couple.
Claire noticed while she was clapping that her sister was looking straight at her. That's never a good thing. "Fang, can I talk to you over here for a minute?"
She pulled her wife along with her away from the dance floor, Fang slowly followed her. "Why? What's wrong?"
"Nothing, I just..." The spotlight found them and she realized that no one was around to shield them from it, by walking away she had made it easier for Serah to single them out. She had played right into her sister's hand. "Fuck."
Serah approached, her 'I win' smile plastered across her face. "You didn't think you were going to get away, did you? It's your turn now, sis."
Claire rolled her eyes and noticed that Fang looked at her with a stupid grin. "What's wrong, Claire, can't dance?"
"As a matter of fact I can't. I was always terrible at it."
Fang now pulled her towards the dance floor, Claire reluctantly following. "Then I'll have to show you. I'll be damned if I'm married to a woman who's never danced before." When they met on the dance floor Fang put her hands on Claire who stood like a soldier at attention, hands at her sides and eyes straight ahead. Fang sighed as she took Claire's hands and placed them on her hips. "It's easy, just follow my lead and try not to be so stiff. You look like a bloody statue."
The song began, an orchestral version of Foreigner's I Want to Know What Love Is and Fang began to move, shifting her feet in time with the rhythm. Claire struggled at first, finding it hard to both keep time with Fang and not step on her feet, but eventually she settled into a good rhythm and was surprised when Fang rested her head on her shoulder. Claire lost herself in the feel of her wife's arms, her dancing improved when she wasn't actively thinking about it. Neither of them noticed that the song had ended and other people were dancing with them, all they knew is that they had never been happier.
After dancing for a half of an hour, Fang and Claire sat down at a table with Serah, Snow, Vanille and Hope. They conversed amongst themselves until an idea that had started several tables away, where most of the Rangers sat, made it's way to them. Why don't we get a game going? Some were too tired, and ended up leaving, but enough people were willing to play that a mad scramble for equipment took place ending with a raid of the nearby Academy. The store employees never knew what hit them.
While those who had gone to the Academy were searching for enough gloves, balls and bats to cover a full game, those who remained cleared out enough space for such a game to be played by taking down the pavilion and sending the caterers home early. When the supplies arrived they constructed a basic baseball diamond with the four bases represented by four pillows that had housed the wedding rings and the bride's tent served as the outer wall.
Enough people remained that they were able to split into two full teams of nine. Fang and Claire chose separate teams, Hope joined Claire's team and Vanille, being pregnant, sat on the bench and cheered for him, Snow joined Fang's team and Serah decided to stick by her sister and joined Claire's team. Allie was conflicted, since both of her parents were on separate teams she couldn't decide which one to be on. Serah and Claire pushed for her to be on their team while Fang and Snow argued for their side. Their argument rose in pitch until Allie decided to be on Fang's team since Claire's team had Hope.
Fang's team was up to bat first and Claire, who decided she didn't want to pitch since ending her career, played first base. Serah was adamant that she try her hand at pitching, her rationale being that perhaps pitching skill ran in their family. It didn't. After letting the first three batters on base and one run in she decided she had had enough and let Hope finish it for her. Claire was supportive as her sister walked passed her and into the outfield.
Hope's first opponent turned out to be Fang and he exhaled. Alright, I've done this before. Just don't pitch low and outside and I'll be fine. His first pitch was high and she watched it in. Ball one. Hope wound up for the next pitch and threw one inside but Fang just watched it in again. Ball two. He wound up for his third pitch and threw a heater right down the middle, Fang caught it and sent it sailing passed Claire's head and straight for right field. Serah, who had been making faces at Snow from the outfield, heard her sister shout her name and raised her glove up just in time to catch the ball as it passed. Fang was dumbfounded, as was Claire, Snow and Vanille cheered for her and Hope breathed a sigh of relief. Serah noticed the ball in her glove and jumped up and down in excitement. Claire smirked at her wife, who sulked away from the decorative home plate pillow. "You got thrown out by my sister."
Snow stepped up to bat next, his large frame all but dominating the plate as he readied the bat on his shoulder. The outfielders instinctively stepped back except for Serah who stayed exactly where she was before. Hope threw a curveball to the inside and was surprised when Snow caught it with a bare hand and tossed it back to him. "Come on, you can do better than that, kid."
Hope gritted his teeth. You bet I can. He threw a fastball down the middle and Snow made full contact, sending it over the tent and nearly to the road. He trotted the bases and shrugged when Hope tossed a glare at him. "Hey, I just got lucky."
Next up to bat was Allie, whom Fang escorted to the plate and taught her how to hold the bat. "Now square your shoulders and keep your eye on the ball. When you see it get close you swing the bat and try to hit it, okay?" Allie nodded and Fang took three steps back, far enough away that she wouldn't get hit by the bat but still within seconds reach of her if something happened.
Hope walked half the distance towards the plate and gently tossed the ball to Allie. She swung with all her might and hit the ball right back at him. Because of the shortened distance he wasn't able to react in time and the ball struck him in the chest, knocking him down and taking the wind out of him. Allie was worried but when Fang shouted at her to run she dropped the bat and ran towards Claire at first base. Hope recovered and managed to toss the ball to Claire, who caught Allie in a hug as she tried to reach first base. "Aww, does that mean I'm out."
"Yeah, but you did better than your mom at least." Claire stuck her tongue out at Fang who returned the look and walked away. Claire put Allie down and she ran back to her mom passed Hope who shook his head and held his chest. "You alright, Hope?" Hope nodded, still unable to speak, and took his place on the mound.
After the remainder of Fang's team had batted, they took the field against Claire's team, who sent up Serah first. Fang, who had watched her wife pitch for a season, decided she wanted to try it, Snow stood on first. Serah approached the plate and hefted the bat that was too heavy for her onto her shoulder. Fang and Snow exchanged a glare and Fang lobbed an easy one over the plate. Serah struggled, but managed to get the bat around long after the ball had come to rest in leather. Fang tossed one underhanded, but Serah could barely swing the bat. Claire approached, whispered something to her sister then withdrew. Fang tossed another slow one, but instead of swinging Serah merely stuck the bat out and the ball hit it, falling just inside the field. She ran as fast as she could to first base, still clutching the bat. The catcher grabbed the ball and tossed it to Snow, but the ball bounced off of the bat and fell just before Snow allowing Serah enough time to reach first safely. Vanille cheered for her and Snow gave her a high five followed by a quick kiss.
The next batter was Hope, who readied himself with a confidence that Fang couldn't trick him at his own game. As it turns out, Hope was a terrible hitter and Fang threw three consecutive strikes against him. He threw the bat down and stomped off to find Vanille, Fang smirked at his back, "It's a lot different from that side, eh?"
The next batter was Claire, who faced her wife with a determined look on her face. "Let's see what you've got."
Fang's eyes narrowed and their natural competitiveness took over. She threw a pitch that was just outside of Claire's reach, but Claire tried to hit it anyway and missed. Strike one. Her next pitch fell into the dirt and nearly hit the pillow that was home plate. Ball one. Her next pitch was right down the middle, but Claire misjudged it's speed and just missed it. Strike two. Fang caught the returning ball and shot her wife a smirk. "Be careful Claire, you don't want to strike out."
Claire set up and Fang's next pitch was dead center. She swung with all her might and sent the ball flying over the tent and out towards the road. Fang's eyes followed it then turned to her wife who stood smirking at her from the plate. "Don't you know, Fang? Claire Yun Farron never strikes out."
This marks the end of Don't Strike Out, Farron. Thank you all for reading and double thanks to anyone who reviewed, I take them all quite seriously. In answer to a few questions; no I am not from Arlington I am from Austin, sometimes the auto correct on my Ipod turns my yours in to you'res along with a few other things that are quite annoying, my knowledge of baseball is quite old and sometimes faulty as I had not watched it in many years prior to starting this fiction and, though I like the idea of Don't Strike Out, Allison, I do want to write You Could Be My Hero so it may have to wait a bit. I currently write a T rated Shiznat fiction called I Promised and will start to write out my M rated Flight fiction You Could Be My Hero. Again, thank you all for reading and happy fandom.