Characters: basically everyone except Mycroft (but I'm sure he sent a nice gift)
Warnings/Triggers: a long string of swearing
Pairings: Molly/Alec, John/Sarah, Josh/Rupert
Word Count 6,949
Summary: The wedding is over. Time to party. And be sentimental.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse.
This is Part Two, Part One is here.
This is the reception. I think I've been reading too much Maeve Binchy, as there are multiple POVs in this one, too. It was the only way I could get everything I wanted to into it.
I'm very sorry about how involved this verse had become. I didn't mean to do it.
I have a pinboard of random photos that inspired me while I was writing, if anyone is curious as to that sort of thing.
A reception will follow.
“Oh my God, we just got married!” Molly said.
Alec laughed. “I know,” he said. “No regrets?”
“None,” she said.
“Good, first thirty seconds and no divorce,” Alec said. “That bodes very well. You look beautiful.”
“So do you,” Molly said. “Eee. I'm so relieved. Not about you! I knew you would look beautiful--handsome, I mean. I'm just relieved that we're married now, and whatever happens, we'll at least be married.”
“Are you expecting some sort of international incident at the reception?” Alec asked.
“No,” Molly said. “I just mean--I don't know what I mean. I'm just relieved--good relieved. Happy relieved.”
“Yes,” Alec said. “Happy relieved is definitely the right term. I second that.”
Molly stepped out of his embrace, and blinked around back into reality. People were starting to file out of the church now, and getting their bubbles ready.
“Them step on my flowers,” Abby complained, to Sarah. “I throwed for Molly.”
Molly could see she was very upset about this, and went over to crouch down next to her. “You know what? I'm happy they're walking on them,” she said. “You did such a brilliant job throwing them for me that I want everyone to see how great they are.” Abby smiled, proudly, and Molly gave her a hug. “Thank you so much for being my flower girl.”
“You're welcome,” Abby said. “I liked it.”
“Good,” Molly said.
“I think Daddy has some bubbles for you, Abs,” Sarah said. “Why don't you go over there with him and Uncle Sherlock and show them how to do it?”
Abby hurried over to where John and Sherlock stood, pausing to give Alec's outstretched hand a low five on the way.
“And thank you for being our ring bearer,” Molly said to Reed.
“I didn't mind,” he assured her. He let her kiss his cheek, and then sauntered over to Alec. “Congratulations. I hope you like being a wife.”
He ran over to Rupert, leaving them all laughing.
“Okay, I think I might have to sit down with him and explain about how non-same sex couples work,” Josh said. “21st Century problems, huh? All right, let's get you two bubbled and into the limo for some private time.” He stuck his fingers in his mouth and let out a whistle to get attention, and then began organizing the guests.
Molly straightened up, and returned to Alec. “I hope you like being a wife, too,” she said.
“I love it,” he assured her.
“Hey, lovebirds, come here,” Josh called.
Molly and Alec made their way to the doors of the church, and were showered with bubbles, and cheered at. Sarah helped Molly get her train into the limo, and they were whisked away on a tour of London until it was time for the photos. Molly and Alec had some champagne and strawberries, and relaxed, and it was lovely. The photos were done quickly, and Molly didn't feel too self-conscious having them taken. Then it was off to the reception.
Molly found the receiving line the hardest part of the day. She wasn't very good at talking to people, and her face hurt from smiling, though that wasn't their fault, really. She'd been married for a little over an hour and she didn't think she'd stopped smiling yet.
Thankfully, there weren't too many guests at the wedding. Maybe fifty altogether. They'd kept it small, or as small as they could when Alec's immediate family alone counted close to twenty.
It was amazing, really, how easy it had been to bring it all together. Every time she'd mentioned some aspect she was planning to John or Sherlock, one or the other of them would pull a name out of nowhere of an old client who did that who owed them a favour. Alec's parents were catering the reception, and the photographer, the cake maker, the dresses, the suits, the flowers, the decorations, the transportation, the music, almost everything had come with a discount or a deal or even free, but still just how Molly wanted them.
It had all gone so perfectly.
They were almost at the end of the line, now. She could see a few people left out of the corner of her eye. Molly smiled and nodded, and thanked, and passed them on to Alec. One person left.
“Oh, Sherlock!” she said, as he stepped up to her.
“You're surprised to see me,” he said.
“I didn't know you were coming,” Molly said.
“I was invited,” Sherlock said. “I received an invitation in the mail. It said it hoped I would attend.”
“Oh, yes, I know, I didn't mean you weren't welcome!” Molly said, quickly. “And I saw you at the ceremony, and I was really glad you came. I just didn't know if you were coming to the reception.”
“I was invited,” Sherlock repeated.
“I know,” Molly said. “And I'm very happy you've come. I know this isn't your thing, so thank you.”
He nodded. “I assume the rules are the same as at John and Sarah's wedding,” he said. “I was part of the line then; it was awful. But it seems customary to congratulate you and compliment you on something. So, congratulations. The herbs in your bouquet were very unique.”
“Thank you,” Molly said. “Alec likes to cook, so they reminded me of that. I think there are some in the centrepieces, too, and the tables are all named after herbs.”
Alec's cousin was still chatting to him in fast Italian while Alec concentrated very hard on understanding, and Sherlock was stuck in place, waiting.
“The flowers suited your complexion as well,” Sherlock went on.
Molly grinned. “Thank you,” she said.
Sherlock looked again to Alec, but the cousin was now kissing his cheeks profusely. “I also like--oh, thank God.” The cousin moved on and Sherlock stepped over to Alec.
“Oh, Sherlock,” Alec said.
“Yes, we've covered that,” Sherlock said. “I was invited. Congratulations. A mint waistcoat was a very bold choice.” He shook Alec's hand, give him a patented Holmes Fake Smile, and walked into the building.
“Your guests are so much more interesting than mine,” Alec said, to Molly.
She tried to wipe some of the lipstick off his cheeks. “All right, so what now? What do we need to do now?” she asked.
“Now,” he said. “We have fun. We try to have fun.”
“Am I okay? Are we late?” Molly fussed.
“No, we are so perfectly on time it's frightening,” Sarah replied. She swiped Molly's cheeks with some cold cream to get the lipstick smudges off of them. “We have five minutes to make you shipshape for your big entrance. People are still finding their tables. We are in complete control.”
“You are so brilliant,” Molly said. “I'm so glad I chose you to be my Matron of Honour. You are a very relaxing person.”
“Thank you,” Sarah said. “I do my best.”
She grabbed the foundation from her make-up bag and touched up where she'd wiped the cream. “Smile.”
Molly did, and Sarah rubbed the blush over the apples of her cheeks.
“I have to dance now,” Molly said, through her smile. “I hope I don't trip. I've been practising. Sherlock helped me. I exchanged practice sessions for body parts.”
“Sherlock is a very good dancer,” Sarah said. “He danced with me at my wedding. He pretends he doesn't like it, but he's actually Gene Kelly on the inside. If he's been coaching you, you'll be fine.”
“Alec is a really good dancer,” Molly said. “I don't want to let him down.”
“I think he'll forgive some stepped on toes,” Sarah said. “He's the nicest man in the world. Okay, all done. You can go out there and be swept off your feet now.”
“Oh, God,” Molly said. “Fingers crossed.”
Sarah crossed them on both hands and flashed them at her. They left the loo, and met Alec and Josh at the entrance to the orangery where the reception was being held. It was a beautiful venue, on a perfect evening. The MC did his spiel and introduced Sarah and Josh, who entered and waved like film stars, and took their seats at the head table.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr and Mrs Alec and Molly Thornton!”
Molly and Alec entered, beaming like lunatics. They came to the centre of the dance floor, and the music started up. Molly looked very serious, but Alec was smiling down at her. She loosened up after the first few steps. Sarah could see Sherlock directing subtly with his hands. When the dance drew to a close, Alec gave Molly a little dip to finish, much to her obvious alarm.
“Oh my God, I did it,” Molly said, when she and Alec made it up to the head table.
Sarah gave her a low five under the table. “There, now you just have to sit and enjoy yourself,” she said.
“I, on the other hand,” Josh said. “Have to give a ruddy speech. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Sorry, just getting it out of my system. Fuck.”
Josh shuffled through his cue cards, nausea crawling up his stomach. He shot a glance to Rupert, who gave him a thumb's up of encouragement.
“All right, mate,” Josh said. “Here we go.”
“Just like teaching a class,” Alec said, in his calming voice. Which was very calming. He had a voice like a posh lion gently purring with a bucket over its head. “Pretend they're your students.”
“I don't think it's polite to talk to guests like that,” Josh said, with a sideways grin. He stood up, and tapped his glass with his fork. “Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to say a few words.” He didn't quite get everyone's attention. He stuck his fingers in his mouth and gave a sharp whistle. The room full silent. “Thank you. Alec taught me how to do that, by the way.”
He took a deep breath. Rupert bit his lower lip in anxiety, and then gave a smile around it when he noticed Josh watching.
“Right. Good evening,” Josh began. “I'd like to thank everyone for coming today; I know it means a lot to Alec and Molly. I'm Josh, and I have the good fortune to be Alec's friend, and his Best Man. I've known him since our first day at uni, when I found him wandering the campus, completely on the arse-end of where he wanted to be, despite holding directions and a map in his hands.”
Alec's side of the room erupted in soft titters at that, and Molly covered her mouth with her hand. Alec gave him a playful glare.
“Alec's always been a bit dodgy with direction,” Josh went on. “But he's dead solid in everything else. He's always sensible, always the one who keeps things together when everything goes wrong. He's the first one in and the last one out when someone needs help. He's the sort of person you can tell your secrets to, and he keeps them, and never judges you for them. He's, ironically enough, been my compass for a long time. So, I have to be honest and say that I'm a bit protective of him. In order for me to approve of his partner, she'd have to be very special.'
“Alec met Molly at a coffee shop, when he played hero to her damsel in distress. It's all very romantic comedy, and a bit sickening, so we won't go into too many details because you're about to eat. I've got to know her very well since then. I know that she's clever, and I know that she's kind, and loving, and rock solid, like Alec. She's another first one in and last one out. She's not a damsel in distress, she's a rescuer. And, most importantly for Alec, she can read a map.”
There was another titter from Alec's side of the room.
“So, for their future, I will wish them great happiness, and hope that they guide each other along, and Molly keeps Alec from getting too lost, and Alec reminds her of how special she is. And, selfishly on my part, that they will be around for a long time, first ones in and last ones out. And, once in awhile, let us return the favour, and rescue them, if ever they need it.”
Josh lifted his glass.
“I make a toast to Mr and Mrs Thornton,” he said. “To Alec and Molly!”
“To Alec and Molly!” the room echoed.
Josh took a sip of his glass, and flopped down in his seat with a long sigh of relief. “Hey, got Molly crying, mission succeeded,” he said.
“That was really nice,” Molly sniffed, fanning at her eyes.
“It was brilliant,” Alec agreed.
He and Josh clasped hands together.
“Don't ever make me do that again,” Josh said.
“I don't plan for you to ever need to,” Alec replied.
“Mrs H, if you don't stop crying, we're going to have to put an IV in you,” John said.
Sherlock passed his napkin across the table to her. She'd used all her tissues at the ceremony. She was awful at weddings. She always cried more than she did at funerals. And Molly especially deserved so much happiness, after all she'd been through. She was such a nice girl, with the most wretched luck.
“Oh, no,” Abby said. “Don't be sad, Gramma.”
“I'm not sad, dear,” Mrs Hudson assured her, dabbing her eyes. “I'm very happy. I'm so pleased for Molly.”
“Why? All she's done is get married,” Sherlock said. “Anyone can do that.”
“Yeah?” John said. “Let's see you find someone to marry you. The one person who might have done it once upon a time has just become Mrs Thornton.”
Sherlock frowned. “Mrs...oh, you mean Molly,” he said. “Why would Molly want to marry me?”
“Pity?” Greg suggested.
“If that were a contributing factor to matrimony, you would have been remarried ages ago,” Sherlock replied. He leaned back to allow the waitress to place his food in front of him.
“Don't be rude, boys,” Mrs Hudson said. “Behave yourselves.”
“Sorry, Mrs Hudson,” Greg and Sherlock muttered.
“I don't want it,” Abby said, as her plate was placed before her.
John rolled his eyes. Mrs Hudson had noticed her tendency to be contrary lately, just for the sake of it. Sarah called it being a 'threenager'.
“You have to try it,” John said. “Just try it, and then you can decide if you want it or not. It's special for you, look you're the only one who has it. We all have soup. Molly chose that especially for you.”
Sherlock reached over and plucked an olive from Abby's plate.
“No, mine!” Abby said, and took an olive herself.
“Thank you,” John muttered.
“For what?” Sherlock said, popping the olive into his mouth. “Why does she get something special? I don't want soup. Antipasto was not on my RVSP as a menu option.”
“She's a child,” John said. “And you are, allegedly, an adult. She's eating kid's food.”
“Oh,” Sherlock said. He took a sip from his soup. “Well, I suppose this will do, too.”
“You know, I sometimes wonder if you and Sarah are going to have another kid,” Greg said. “And I remember you've already got the two.”
John laughed into his soup, and Mrs Hudson hid her smile behind her napkin.
“Do you suppose I'll have to call her Mrs Whatever now?” Sherlock asked. He was off in his own little world, as usual, and hadn't heard Greg. He was such an odd boy--noticing everything and yet missing so much. “Molly? Do I have to call her that?”
“Mrs Thornton, not Mrs Whatever,” Mrs Hudson said. “But I think Molly will do. You still call Sarah 'Sarah', don't you?”
“Yes, but she didn't change her name,” Sherlock said. “That would have been convenient. I've had to remember her maiden name, now. I hate having to reprogramme details, it takes such a lot of effort. People should just stay the same.”
Sherlock had only been to three weddings in his life, counting this one. This was only the second to which he'd been invited (one of them was case-related, and he was very much not invited to that one).The other was John's, which he'd found very stressful due to his role as Best Man. This one, while he still had to be on his best behaviour, he'd actually found somewhat enjoyable. The opportunities to practice deduction were endless. All manner of people he didn't know were waiting to be analysed.
There was the Best Man's husband, who was borderline OCD about cleanliness and was trying to polish the silverware under the table. One of Molly's friends was very bitter about Sarah being chosen as Matron of Honour over her. Alec's parents were a fascinating example of a step-family--parents pregnant very young, married unwisely and divorced, the mother obviously not very involved in his life, but extremely amicable with the father and step-mother. They were all seated at the same table, and chatting in a relaxed, happy fashion.
“Sherlock, stop gossiping,” Mrs Hudson scolded, as Sherlock relayed his observations to the table.
“I'm not gossiping, gossiping suggests rumour,” Sherlock replied. “These are facts. Interesting facts.”
“Not really that interesting,” John said. “Tone it down, we're not here to work.”
“Fine,” Sherlock said.
At least the food was appetizing. More so than Sherlock would have expected. Alec's family was catering, and they were very competent with Italian cuisine. Sherlock managed to eat at least a bit of everything he was offered. The butternut squash ravioli with sage and browned butter sauce was particularly good.
“Sherlock just cleared his plate,” Lestrade said. “Should we take cover for the locusts?”
“Do you see, Abby, Sherlock ate all of his food,” John said, in his cloying, 'father' voice. “So you can eat some of yours.”
“No, I don't want it,” Abby said, pushing her plate away.
“There will be two more courses, I don't think she'll starve,” Sherlock said.
“Sherlock, what did I tell you about backseat parenting?” John asked.
“I believe it was something along the lines of 'please for the love of God stop',” Sherlock said.
“Exactly,” John said. “Abby, why don't you just try it? You like spagbol, you've had it before.”
“No,” Abby said. “I don't want it.”
Sherlock had to turn his face away to hide his smile, because he really did find her new found belligerence something like adorable. John became very upset when Sherlock tried to encourage her anarchic behaviour, however, and sometimes it was just easier to behave himself. Since he was already trying to behave himself for Molly's sake, he supposed it wouldn't be that much harder to be a responsible role model. It's not as though he had to do it every day.
Blessedly, the secondi and dessert courses were more to Abby's tastes, and so Sherlock didn't have to sit through any more negotiations. There was a break before the cake cutting, and Sherlock used it to go out and inhale some second-hand smoke from the cluster of fellow guests gathered outside.
Molly gave him a worried look as he passed by, and he made a gesture to assure her he'd be back. She smiled, and returned to looking glowing and adoring toward her groom. She seemed very happy. Sherlock was happy for her. Probably. John had once told him that feeling sad for something ending while happy for something beginning was called 'mixed emotions'. Sherlock didn't often have one emotion at a time, let alone enough to form a compound.
He was pleased for Molly, though. He thought. Feeling happy when others were happy was a new phenomenon, and he still didn't know how to work with it yet. Molly had a desire to love and be loved. She was content on her own, but perhaps not happy. Alec would do as a partner. Sherlock was just also a bit melancholy that things would once again change and he had to rearrange his life to accommodate those changes.
“You are Sherlock Holmes,” one of the smokers said, in a thick Neapolitan accent.
“Si,” Sherlock agreed.
“Fuck,” the man said, appreciatively. He offered Sherlock a cigarette.
Sherlock took it. It was a special occasion, after all. He would have to tell John his blog was a hit in Italy as well. Or perhaps not. He was far too full of himself about its success already.
The smokers returned for the cake cutting, so Sherlock followed, content with the lungfuls of toxins he'd inhaled.
The cake cutting was not as insipid as Sherlock was expecting. No smashing on each other's faces, though Alec did tap Molly's nose with his fork as he fed her. Sherlock found himself laughing at her surprised face.
Mixed emotions was perhaps appropriate for his state of mind, but he felt that happiness was the dominant element in the compound.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the dance floor is now open for business!” the MC announced. “Let's see the bride and groom with their parents out there.”
Alec's mother rose from the table to meet him, but Molly looked a little lost, having no father to dance with. Her mother looked uncertain. John got to his feet, willing to volunteer his services as a partner. Lestrade did the same, almost in unison. Sherlock was a beat ahead of them both. Alec's dad rose, too, and both of Molly's brothers. Molly, who had for a moment looked sad, now flushed with pleasure at the amount of people willing to fill in.
Molly's oldest brother took the initiative, and everyone else sat down.
“Amateur,” Sherlock said. “He should have done his research. It's obvious she has no father here.”
“At least he didn't call for a father and daughter dance specifically,” Lestrade said. “He might have thought Molly's mum would do it.”
“Molly's mother would never dance with that much attention focussed on her,” Sherlock said, matter-of-factly. “That's obvious, too.”
“Oooh, more dancing,” Abby said, looking at the couples on the floor with delight. “Can I dance, Daddy?”
“You can in a bit, Peanut,” John said. “This is a special dance for Molly and Alec. But you and me will hit the floor later, okay?”
Abby clapped as she watched the dancers, moving her head to the music and smiling.
Alec's step-mum came in halfway through the dance to swap with his mum, and Molly's other brother stepped in as well. The MC called for a wedding party dance next, and Josh and Sarah took a turn around. Sarah came for John partway, and pulled him onto the floor, while Josh went for his--reluctant--husband.
“Hey there, stranger,” Sarah said.
“Hey there,” John replied. “Come here often?”
“No, thankfully,” Sarah said. “I'm exhausted. No wonder Angela was such a despot when we got married. It's worse than running the surgery. Did Abby eat?”
“A bit,” John said. “She liked her little pizza and the bow tie pastries, but the other courses were a battle as usual.”
“Well, she behaved herself when we needed her to,” Sarah said. “She was a good girl at the ceremony. Let her rebel a little. You know, we might be dancing at her wedding some day. I was just thinking about that during the family dance. You and her.”
John smiled at the thought. “Will we still be around? You know Sherlock isn't going to let her date anyone until she's forty or something,” he said. “No one will pass the deduction test.”
“Oh, I hadn't even thought of that,” Sarah said. “Well, at least we'll know she's being treated right.” She winked at Abby at the table. Abby had her hands clasped under her chin, enraptured. “Do you ever think about having another one?”
“No, I think the one Sherlock is enough,” John said.
Sarah pinched his back, lightly. “You know what I mean,” she said.
“I have thought about it,” John admitted. “But I don't know if we could top Abby. She's a crowning achievement.”
“Might be fun to try,” Sarah said.
“Let's talk about it again when we aren't high on champagne and love,” John suggested.
Sarah kissed him. “All right, that's fair,” she said. “Speaking of children, is Sherlock behaving himself?”
“Yeah, yeah,” John said. “Really well, actually. It's a bit weird.”
“He's sweet on Molly,” Sarah said. “Not romantically, but...I don't know how else to put it. She's...like Abby a little. He does his best with her.”
“Yeah,” John said. “Well, she did a lot for him, when he was pretending to be dead. Sherlock doesn't forget debts. And he doesn't know how to care by halves. It's all or nothing; moving the world or not moving an inch.”
“Is that from a blog entry?” Sarah asked.
“No,” John said.
“It should be, use that some time, it's good,” Sarah said.
“Noted,” John said. He pulled her in a little closer. “Now, shut up about Sherlock. You're dancing with me, Dr Sawyer.”
Sarah leaned her forehead against his. “Don't tell my husband,” she said.
“Secret's safe with me,” John said.
Theirs was the end of the special dances, and the floor opened for the room, who poured onto it at the first provocation. John, as promised, took Abby out for a spin. She bounced up and down and shook her arms and head around. Which was about as much dancing as he could do, too, so they were a good match.
“Let's dance again, Daddy,” she said, when they were done.
John picked her up and swayed around with her for a slow song, and then waltzed her off the floor, back to their table.
“You dance nice,” she told him, giving him a kiss.
“Thank you,” John said. “I wonder how old you have to be before I become embarrassing?”
He set her back on the floor, and a moment later she was up in Sherlock's lap. She'd developed a technique where she could do it before he realized what was happening, and then he felt compelled to keep her there rather than push her off.
“Hi, Sherlock,” she said. “You want to dance?”
“No,” Sherlock said. “I would like you to get off of my celiac plexus, though.” He shifted her a little. “There.”
“Why not dance, Sherlock?” she said. “I like to dance.”
“We are very unsuitable partners,” Sherlock replied. “Ask me again when you've grown a few feet, and I'll consider it.”
Abby played thoughtfully with his tie, and Sherlock ignored her, continuing to sip at his drink as though she wasn't present. Sarah smiled at them, fondly. John could see concept of more children was very much still on her mind. John would have to think longer on it all before he'd know whether he felt positive or negative toward the idea.
“Hey, here comes the happy couple,” Lestrade said. “Nice moves, Molls.”
Molly grinned “Thank you,” she said. “I haven't fallen over yet, so it's a good day. How are you? Is everything okay here?”
“Yeah,” John said. “We're having a great time.”
“Hi, Molly,” Abby said. “Hi, Alec.”
“I saw you dancing,” Alec said. “You are a very good dancer. You look very pretty in your frock, too.”
Abby giggled shyly, and hid her face in Sherlock's chest. Sherlock leaned back, his nose wrinkled as though he were afraid of catching something from her.
“You look so lovely, Molly,” Mrs Hudson said. “Your dress is beautiful. Such a nice lace.”
“Thank you,” Molly said. “It was only the third dress I tried on, but I knew right away it was mine.”
“You do know,” Mrs Hudson said, with a nod. “I knew mine, too. But of course, my marriage wasn't very happy, so it wasn't really a good omen, I suppose.”
There was silence following this statement, and John couldn't find anything to fill it in with. Mrs Hudson always found that perfect phrase to bring a conversation to a halt, especially after a drink or two.
“Yes, thank you for that riveting anecdote, Mrs Hudson,” Sherlock said. He gave a nod to Molly. “Neither of you are drug barons, I suspect your marriage will start on a better foot.”
“That's good,” John said. He lifted his drink coaster, which were printed with a place to write advice for the bride and groom on them. “You should write that down.”
Lestrade was not much of a dancer. It wasn't so much that he was bad at it-- women had told him he wasn't bad--he just wasn't comfortable. Not with the fast kind; he could shuffle his way through a slow dance without trouble.
It wasn't as though he had anyone to dance with here, anyway. He'd been offered a plus one, but hadn't brought one. And he didn't feel that bad about it, actually. He thought he might feel like an odd one out, but he was in good company at the table, and he enjoyed himself. It was nice just to sit around with friends at a happy occasion.
He did dance with Sarah, and Mrs Hudson, and he hoped to get a chance to dance with Molly at some point, but she was so busy, he didn't want to bother her until things died down a little.
“Oh, hello!” he said to Abby, who had popped up next to him. He opened his arms and she jumped up onto his lap. “How's it going? You having a good time?”
“Very loud, Greg,” she said, looking a bit cross. “Noisy people, them should use quiet voices.”
“Yeah, we're not big partyers you and me, huh?” he said. “I'm sure it's nearly your bedtime, too. You've had a busy day. Lots of dancing. You a bit tired?”
“You stick with me, we'll be anti-social together,” he said.
She leaned into his chest, her eyes half-closed, and he bounced her on his knee in time to the music. Mrs Hudson was on her third dance with Alec's grandfather, the two oldest attendees joining forces. Sherlock had disappeared into the gardens half an hour earlier. He'd been going in and out, taking what Lestrade thought were probably 'brain breaks' from all the people around and observations to be made.
John arrived a few dances later. “Oh, there she is,” he said, sounding relieved. “We thought you were playing with Reed, and you're over here charming Uncle Greg. We were worried you were lost.”
“I'm sleepy,” Abby said.
“Yeah, you look about ready to nod off, let's see if we can find you a place to lie down, huh?” John said. He picked her up, and she rested her head on his shoulder. “Thanks for minding her.”
“Always a pleasure,” Lestrade said. “G'night, Abster.”
“Night-night,” she mumbled.
John flagged down Sarah to let her know Abby had been found. Lestrade, now on his own at the table, decided to get some air.
He wasn't the only one with this idea; the orangery was getting a little hot with all the people inside it sweating to the music and several had come out to enjoy the cool evening now that the sun had gone down. Sherlock was sat on a bench, examining his mobile. Lestrade took a seat on another bench next to his and lit a fag.
“You hanging in there?” he asked.
“Yes, somewhat,” Sherlock said. “How long does this go on for?”
“'Til everyone goes home or Molly and Alec leave,” Lestrade said. “You were at John and Sarah's wedding, you should know how it works.”
“I'd hoped that was an anomaly,” Sherlock said.
Lestrade grinned. “You don't have to stay,” he said. “I'm surprised you came.”
“I was invited,” Sherlock replied, as though that explained everything.
Lestrade flicked some ash from his fag. “So, what do you reckon?” he asked, nodding toward the orangery. “Is he good enough for her? I'm sure you've done the background check.”
“He'll suffice,” Sherlock said. “They're well suited temperamentally, and he's not the kind to cheat. He makes a decent income; they won't be poor. Neither of them have any genetic defects to pass along to any future off-spring.”
“Yeah, but is he okay?” Lestrade said. “Is he going to hurt her?”
“No,” Sherlock said. He looked up from the mobile and looked at them through the window for a moment. “Not intentionally. He'll go out of his way not to hurt her. He's fine.”
Lestrade knew that Sherlock would have been the first to raise hell if he wasn't, and the last to give praise without cause, so he felt that 'fine' was a very positive opinion. “I feel old,” he shared. “S'weird. I don't know why. I feel a bit like I've raised you lot, and now you're off getting married and having children.”
“Mixed emotions,” Sherlock said, expertly.
“Yeah, that's a good way to describe it,” Lestrade said. “I suppose I'm stuck with you, huh? You're gonna be the one kid who never leaves home.”
Sherlock smirked. “I don't know where I'd go,” he said.
“Me, neither,” Lestrade said. “S'good here. Good days.”
“You're being soppy,” Sherlock said.
“Sorry,” Lestrade said, raising his hands in apology. He stubbed out the fag and stood up. “You can go, you know. You've done your duty. I'm sure Molly isn't expecting more from you.”
“I was invited,” Sherlock said.
Lestrade left him alone to be odd. The party was staring to wind down now, with a lot of people taking their leave. They'd brought some sort of snack table in, and Lestrade grabbed some nibbles to soak up some of the alcohol and clear up the soppiness before it got out of hand.
Within the hour, the party was down to bare bones. Mrs Hudson decided to go, and Lestrade saw her out to a cab after she'd said her goodbyes.
He saw his chance to get Molly on her own when he came back in, and took it.
“I know you're probably ready to drop, but do you have another dance in you for me?” he asked.
She smiled. “Yes, of course,” she said. “I've been waiting for you to ask.”
He pulled her out on the floor. “How's married life so far?” he asked.
“Brilliant,” she said. “But I don't think the first few hours are really indicative of a whole lifetime, are they?”
“Me and Lucy were already fighting by the end of the night,” Lestrade said. “So it's probably a good sign.”
Molly cocked her head to the side, sympathetically and squeezed his arm. “Erm, I wanted to say, earlier, that it was very nice, when they called for the parents dance, for you to offer,” she said. “The MC got a bit mixed up. We asked for no father and daughter dance, and I think he misunderstood. But it was very nice of you to volunteer.”
“No worries,” Lestrade said. “I didn't want you to be upset. You know I'm always there for you, right? All of us are. You ever need us, we're always around.”
“I know,” Molly said. “I'm not moving away, though, Greg. I'm the same as I've always been. I'll still be here.”
“Well, it's a good time to make sure you know,” Lestrade said. “You can count on us.”
Molly smiled, and looked so happy that he felt a bit soppy about it all. “I know.”
Alec was not a party animal, and neither was Molly. Or anyone, really. Except for the Italian contingent of Alec's family, who were thankfully able to be tamed. The party had started to wind down by ten o'clock, and now there were just a dozen or so people left to see Molly and Alec off when it was time.
There were sofas arranged around the reception hall, and Alec had draped himself across one while Molly danced with Greg. John and Sarah danced nearby, John holding Sarah's shoes while they swayed. Josh and Rupert were also dancing, but more in theory than practice. They were basically holding on to each other and moving their feet a bit, foreheads touching while they murmured to each other. Alec hoped to still be that in love when he was five years on with a kid.
Abby and Reed were asleep on another sofa; Abby under John's jacket and Reed under Rupert's. The rest of the party were chatting at tables, most everyone shoeless and tipsy but not pissed.
It had been perfect, but Alec was glad it was almost over.
Dad came over and took a seat next to Alec on the sofa. “Oh, Christ,” he muttered. “My back is killing me. All that sitting; I'm used to being on my feet.” He arched his back and Alec could hear the crackles. “Don't get old, son, it's bloody awful.”
“Noted,” Alec said.
“I've paid the wait staff, and Lin and Marco are on washing up duty,” Dad reported. “So don't worry about any of that when you're ready to go.”
“Thanks,” Alec said. “The food was great. Thanks for taking care of it all.”
“No point in having a restaurant if you can't feed your son on his big day,” Dad said. “Well, him, and half of Italy. I swear they multiply every time we do one of these get together-dos. Where do they all come from?”
“Naples,” Alec said.
“Is there anyone left there?” Dad said.
“Just one man, making sure no one invades,” Alec said.
They both laughed. “So, did you enjoy yourself?” Dad asked. “I know it can be a bit of a blur, so I hope you and Molly got a chance to sit down and take it in.”
“It's been good,” Alec said. “I'm really, stupidly happy, Dad. I didn't think it would be that much different. It's just a ring and a piece of paper. But I'm really happy.”
Dad clapped him on the back. “Good,” he said. “That's how it should be.” He handed over the coaster he was carrying. “I've been trying all night to come up with something useful for advice."
Alec held it up and tried to decipher Dad's awkward scrawl. “'Always do the washing up before bed'?” he read.
“Yep,” Dad said. “It wasn't a problem until you lot all moved out. Once Lee was gone, it was just Gianna and me to do it, and I swear that all our fights since then have somehow been related to the washing up. My advice is to do it before you go to bed, even if you don't want to.”
“Thanks, Dad, that's very...heartwarming,” Alec said.
Dad grinned, and ruffled his hair. “You're a good boy,” he said. “And I love you.”
“You're drunk, Dad, don't start,” Alec said, with affection.
“Sorry,” Dad said.
“I love you, too,” Alec added.
Dad ruffled his hair again. Alec took a sip of the water he'd switched to (he didn't want to be too pissed on his wedding night), and had a distorted image of Sherlock through the flute as he approached them on the sofa.
“Hey, Sherlock,” Alec said. “Have you met my dad?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“We chatted earlier,” Dad said, with a little smile that suggested it had been an interesting conversation. “Apparently our relationship is obvious due to our hair and dimples. And my ring finger identifies me as a chef.”
“Good to know,” Alec said.
Dad stood up. “I have to go and convince Granddad that he really should get back to the retirement home before they lock the doors,” he said. “Nice to see you again, Sherlock.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock grunted, nodding as Dad passed by. He turned back to Alec. “I've been contacted about a case. I need to leave.”
“I understand,” Alec said. “Go for it, we're almost done here anyway. Thanks for coming, I know Molly really appreciates it.”
Sherlock nodded. “I don't understand weddings,” he said. Alec got the impression he might have been trying to for most of the evening. “I know you intend to stay together, but things happen, beyond people's intentions. The divorce rate is very high. Your chances of lasting even ten years is very slim.”
“Maybe,” Alec said. “But she's worth the risk.”
Sherlock glanced over his shoulder to Molly and Lestrade. “Mmm,” he said, and Alec thought it was an agreement.
“I'll take care of her,” Alec said, taking a guess at what the root of the tirade might be.
“You know what will happen if you don't,” Sherlock said.
“I can imagine,” Alec said.
“No, you can't,” Sherlock said.
Alec held out a hand, and Sherlock shook it.
The song died away, and the couples broke apart. Lestrade gave Molly a kiss on the cheek, and said something to her, then quickly apologized and tried to find a handkerchief as she got teary. She waved it away, and beamed, and he hugged her. Sherlock slipped over to say goodbye, and set her off crying again. He used his own handkerchief to mop up a tear, and gave her a kiss on the cheek, then left. Molly came over and collapsed on the sofa with Alec.
“Let's never get married again,” she said.
“I think that's the plan,” Alec agreed. “Ready to roll?”
“Is it time?” she asked. “Don't we have to wait for everyone?”
“We've done enough for everyone,” Alec said. “Let's do something for us. Let's go home and be married.”
Molly grinned. “I'd like that.”