Cufflinks weren’t the easiest things to manage on the best of days – the fiddly little clasps and tiny button holes were devilishly hard to manage with only one hand, even more so when you were cursed with perpetually clumsy fingers. But today, when nerves and excitement and anticipation were making his hands shake so badly he could hardly hold the cufflinks much less fasten them, every attempt had ended up a disaster. The tiny airplanes that had been an early gift from Molly may have been an adorably appropriate present, but there were proving impossible to manage and were currently driving Martin absolutely insane.
“Damn!” A link tumbled to the floor for what felt like the fiftieth time, sending his blood pressure one notch higher and pushing him one step closer to a nervous breakdown. The last two weeks had been nothing but a blur of planning and stress and worry, all leading up to today when everything would either come perfectly together or fall disastrously apart. And right now it felt like it was going to be the latter. He retrieved the fallen link with a shaking hand as he muttered frantically to himself, “Damn, damn, damn, this is going to be a disaster, oh God what am I doing, damn –“
Sensing his impending breakdown with ease borne of hundreds of flights and nearly as many catastrophes, Douglas stepped quickly over next to Martin and halted him with a gentle hand on the shoulder. “Martin,” he said quietly, keeping his voice even and calm as a counter to the oncoming panic, “breathe. It’s going to be fine.” His soothing words seemed to have at least some effect as Martin took a deep shuddering breath in a visible attempt to calm and center himself. When it at last looked like he wasn’t going to pass out at any given second, Douglas took the cufflinks from his unresisting fingers and began to fasten them with competent and practiced movements. “You know, I think I was almost as nervous as you before my wedding – well the first one at least. I was so nervous in fact that I forgot what I was saying halfway through my vows; I just froze up and couldn’t even begin to remember what I was going to say next. Thank God I’d written everything down on little notecards the night before, or I would have been left gaping there like a big fish with nothing to do. Oh my friends didn’t let me live that one down for quite some time, but it all worked out in the end.”
As Douglas was speaking, Martin could feel himself calming and steadying with every word – just as Douglas had intended, of course. The distraction of hearing about Douglas’ wedding was exactly what he needed to get out of his own head and relax, even if it was only a tiny bit. With a flourish, Douglas fastened the last cufflink in place and gave the lapels of his suit a quick brush to banish any lingering creases or lint. Martin sighed, slightly less shakily this time, and said with genuine gratitude “Thank you, Douglas. I couldn’t do this without you.”
Douglas simply smirked in response and said in his driest voice “Of course you couldn’t. Why do you think I agreed to be your Best Man in the first place? If it weren’t for me, this whole wedding would have fallen apart before it had even gotten started.”
Martin grinned in return, nerves temporarily forgotten. “Oh God, don’t remind me. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking when I put Arthur in charge of the bachelor party.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I found the whole thing rather charming actually. Although letting him decide what to put inside the piñata was perhaps not the best idea you’ve ever had.”
Just the thought of the smiley face piñata that Arthur had somehow managed to fill with ice cream was enough to set them chuckling, the absurdity of the memory tempered at least by the fact that it had been Arthur himself who had caught the brunt of the soupy mess. With the perfect timing that only he could manage, Arthur popped his head into the dressing room as they were still laughing at the memory of the ice cream piñata disaster. “Gents? They sent me to come fetch you, so I think it’s just about to get started.” He looked over at Martin and his eyes went wide, an enormous smile blooming on his face. “Oh wow Skip! I hardly even recognized you in that suit! You look, well, brilliant!”
All at once reminded of just what was about to happen, Martin looked over at the mirror in a panic fully expecting his suit to have suddenly turned purple or a gigantic hole to have appeared in his trousers. But thankfully no such disaster had occurred, and even in his state of frantic worry Martin did have to admit that he looked rather sharp. The black suit that Douglas had helped him pick out along with scathing but surprisingly helpful commentary from Sherlock fit him like a glove, managing to somehow make him look both taller and more substantial with its simple elegance. Molly had ingeniously chosen dark blue and gold as the colors for the event, and his dark blue tie and gold pocket square cleverly called back to his Captain’s uniform without any of the ostentation that he would have chosen. Even his hair had chosen to cooperate today, although that had far more to do with the expert application of some mysterious hair product by Sherlock at John’s insistence than anything else. He had never looked better in his entire life. Douglas came to stand behind him and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder in a gesture of quiet commiseration and support. He looked dignified and stately as he always did, wring his suit with an easy confidence that Martin envied. With a quirked eyebrow and a small smile he asked quietly “Ready?” Martin could only nod jerkily, tongue glued to the roof of his mouth and hearth thumping so hard it threatened to shake him apart. “Alright then, Captain. Let’s make an honest man out of you.”
Martin swallowed heavily, moving towards the door with limbs made of lead. This was it. All the planning, all the worries, a whole lifetime had led him to this moment. Today was the biggest, most wonderful, most terrifying day of his entire life, because today was the day he was going to marry Molly Hooper.
(art by the amazing lexieken, story inspired by a post by askforthemoon)