Author: CalicOcat
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.
See Part 1 for warnings

'Thinking'
"Speaking"

************ Time passing or scene change
*~*~*~*~*~* Major POV shift

Mission: Marriage + Chapter 13

"Hey there, Mr I-have-a-plan," a teasing voice called out. "I see you weren't kidding with that 'I never fail' comment you made to Zechsy-boy."

"LU?! What are you doing here? Is Zechs here too? I never thought you two would be able to make it back from Mars in time - I didn't even know Quatre had invited you!" exclaimed Heero, looking around for the tall blond that should be accompanying her.

"He'll be here in a minute," Lucrezia assured him, giving him a big hug. "Congratulations, buddy." Taking a quick glance around, she added softly, "Have you told him yet?"

"No," Heero responded softly. "I thought about telling him last night, but... No. I'm borrowing a vacation cottage on Earth from Quat for the week we have left of vacation. I'll tell him before we come back. Hiding it's getting too difficult."

"Good luck," Lu told him sincerely.

"So, are you ready to go change your name, Mr Yuy?"

Turning to face the speaker, Heero smirked up at Zechs. "Oh yes, I am definitely ready. I'm just glad Duo decided to opt for hyphenating them - Duo Yuy sounded just as odd as Heero Maxwell!"

Realizing that Zechs was dressed in a pale gray suit identical to those being worn by the wedding party, Heero asked, "What's with the outfit?"

"Well, you did tell me that you wished Zechs could be here so that you and Duo would each have two attendants, didn't you?" Wufei commented, joining the group.

"Thank you, Wufei," Heero said gratefully.

"You owe Lady Une a 'thank you' as well for the strings she pulled to get us back here in time," Lu informed him.

"No, he doesn't," Une said calmly, peeking in the door from the hallway. "He pre-paid far more favours than he's used up just by letting me leave him assigned to Relena as long as he did.

"Heero, Quatre sent me to tell you to get in position. It's time. Lucrezia, Sally and I saved a seat for you."

Accepting quick hugs from Lu and Une, Heero exited the room and moved to the side door of the ballroom. Quatre had avoided one of the awkward bits of same-sex weddings by having both partners enter at the same time from opposite sides, thus avoiding designating one to take the "bride" role and make the long walk up the aisle.

Waiting anxiously for the door to open, Heero thought, 'This is it. It's really happening. I'm about to marry Duo, the man I love.'

************

The marriage celebrant raised his voice and said, "We are here today to participate in a most joyous occasion, to celebrate one of life's greatest moments, by acknowledging the wedding of Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy.

"Marriage is not only a commitment between lovers, it is also an agreement between two friends. Allow each other time to be an individual, respect each other's wishes as well as their dreams.

"Do you each take the other as your husband, will you be faithful to him, honour him, offer him encouragement and companionship and will you live with him and cherish him as respect will lead you in the bond of marriage?"

Together, Duo and Heero replied, "We do."

"If anyone has just cause why these two may not wed, speak now, or forever hold your peace."

Duo squeezed Heero's hand reassuringly as he saw him tense up. He knew Heero was afraid that Relena would try something. What Heero didn't know was that Quatre had stationed Dorothy to keep watch for the Vice Foreign Minister. Just before the ceremony, she had slipped up to Quatre and told him that the problem had been taken care of. Relena had shown up and attempted to enter the mansion, but Rashid had blocked the doorway while Dorothy spoke with her. Relena's political position was still the most important thing in her life and Dorothy had merely had to point out to her that she had been banished from Winner property, that there was a large media contingent present, and that being thrown out bodily in front of said media contingent would not do her political career any favours. Relena had - reluctantly - left.

Following the celebrant's instructions, Duo repeated his vows, "Heero, I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband. I take you with all your faults and your strengths as I offer myself to you with my faults and strengths. I will help you when you need help, and I will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life."

Listening as Heero then repeated the same vows, he recalled the headaches he had gone through trying to come up with vows that wouldn't involve lying. So many of those he had read involved vowing eternal love, or obeying, or something else that he couldn't honestly say, something that was inappropriate for what essentially amounted to a marriage of convenience. And trying to come up with his own had only resulted in Quatre's study floor being covered in wadded up balls of paper. Quatre's attempts had resulted in him laughing almost hysterically and pretending to choke on the sheer unadulterated sap that sounded wonderful when Quatre recited it but that he couldn't even read with a straight face.

Responding to the next prompt from the celebrant, Duo repeated, "I give you this ring in token and pledge as a symbol of our friendship and all that we share."

In the end, he had compromised, picking bits and pieces from various different wedding ceremonies, mostly civil ones, then "editing out" the bits that weren't appropriate. The final result wasn't perfect, but at least he had felt comfortable with it. He wasn't too sure that Heero was entirely happy with it - he had seen a flicker of something that almost looked like disappointment on his face when he first read the ceremony over - but he hadn't raised any objections.

As Heero slid the wedding ring onto his finger, Duo smiled gently at him. Heero had been so serious, so focussed, throughout the ceremony. 'Typical Heero - give him a "mission" and he turns his full concentration towards it.'

Hands joined, they turned slightly to face the celebrant again. This, the "blessing" portion of the ceremony, was the one thing that Duo was completely happy with and it hadn't even required any editing. Not only was it a beautiful speech, it was equally applicable to both marriage and friendship. Heero was going to be surprised. Previously the vows had been immediately followed by the pronouncement of marriage and the announcement of the married couple's names. But after the rehearsal yesterday, he had decided that this traditional Apache blessing wasn't too sappy after all and that the rather bland ceremony needed something to improve it.

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth."

Seeing the startled look that Heero shot him, Duo winked to let him know that yes, he was the one responsible for the change. 'Probably worryin' that the celebrant changed it without askin'. He knows how much time I spent tryin' to come up with a ceremony I felt comfortable with.'

************

As the celebrant deviated from the ceremony used in the rehearsal, Heero shot a startled look at Duo. 'Oh no, he worked so hard to come up with something he felt comfortable with. I can't believe the celebrant would change it like this! Though it is a beautiful blessing...' As Duo winked at him, he realized with growing delight that the celebrant hadn't added the blessing, Duo had! 'Arigatou, Duo. This change means a lot to me. You've turned a bland, almost sterile ceremony into something more meaningful. I wanted to have my vows changed back to mention love, but I didn't quite dare. This almost makes up for it.'

"Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives -- remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight," the celebrant concluded.

"Inasmuch as you have consented together in marriage, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of this colony and the Earth Sphere, I now pronounce you wed."

Eagerly, Heero pulled Duo gently towards him, pressing their lips together in a kiss very like the first one they shared. Pouring all the feelings he dared not voice into the kiss, he only broke it off when lack of breath started to make him dizzy.

Brushing their lips lightly together again, Duo whispered softly, "Damn, Heero, you are one hell of a good kisser."

Trying hard not to blush, Heero turned with Duo to face the guests for the final announcement of the ceremony.

"I now present to you Duo and Heero Maxwell-Yuy."

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