.x.x.

The ceremony is about to begin and still you hesitate. You can hear your mother calling you, but your feet refuse to move. Surely five years is enough to forget, but still the memories come. This is no time to think of such things, no time to be caught up with emotions better left unexplored.

You hear your mother call again and this time you go in. Flowers—bunches of tulips and lilies, the bride's favorite flowers—line the pews. Almost everyone else is already seated. Only a few stragglers still loiter about, you among them. You take your seat up front next to your mother on the bride's side. Your mother puts a hand on your knee and you know she is only seconds from tears.

He is standing there, almost right in front of you, you know, even though you've yet to look in that direction. You try to avoid it, avoid that gentle gaze that never looks at you the way you want, but it draws you. You take in his appearance but your eyes linger just a bit on his hands as they clench and unclench nervously, waiting.

The organ flares up and everyone stands and turns to look expectantly at the double doors. She walks in, and, though you would never tell her this willingly, you can't help but think how lovely she's grown. No longer is she the awkward little tomboy sister who chased after you and your friends. You can't blame him for choosing her. Who would?

You smile despite yourself—she is your sister after all.

You glance at him—it's safe now, he won't be watching—and catch your breath. You don't think you've ever seen him smile like that before, not at you or at anyone else. Not in the ten years you've known him before you left; not in the three of which you spent just watching him.

You were never close friends. He was a friend of a friend, one you saw often. You were close enough to sit together when no one else was available, but never close enough see each other for just that purpose. It is just your luck, then, that the one time you ever attempted to get closer was also the first time he met her, your sister, the one he is now marrying.

They say their vows and at the end when he kisses her, you divert your eyes. Your mother is holding your hand now, and she squeezes it tightly. Sometimes you'll squeeze back—to comfort her or yourself, you don't really know.

"You should be ashamed, having your younger sister married before yourself," she says.

"I like being a bachelor," you say, though you don't really.

"Bring home a nice girl next time you come home," she tells you, "or I'll find one for you."

It's no idle threat, you know, since she's brought over a few before.

"Mum…" you say with a sigh, but she shakes her head.

"Don't tell me you're not interested. What kind of man are you?" You don't bother correcting her.

As she walks away, you feel the presence of someone else stepping up behind you.

"You alright?" he asks.

"Yes," you say, and strangely, you are. Or maybe not so since he's always been able to take your troubles away—it's why you asked him, specifically, to come with you after all.

You turn around as your sister climbs into the limo with her new husband to face the man you've brought with you—a friend, you told your sister when she asked over the phone about who the guest you were bringing with you was. She hadn't believed you.

"So what shall we do while we wait for the reception?" you ask, grinning. His returning smile tells you he's thinking the same thing you are.

.x.x.

He has his own hotel room, one he booked himself because he didn't feel right having your sister do it when she's never even met him. The room he booked is at a hotel two blocks away from the one your relatives are staying in, which is a relief; there wouldn't be any awkward morning after situations this way—or so you hope. You'd been planning on staying with him when you came, but your mother insisted you go home.

The room is sparsely decorated, nothing fancy, but besides the bed, you don't care much for what they throw in there.

He nibbles gently on your neck pinning you to the door as he works to remove the tux your sister had you rent for the occasion. The stupid thing has too many layers and you have half a mind to just tear the pieces off. If it weren't for the fact that your sister expects you to be wearing it again an hour later at her reception, you might have already done so, rental or no.

"Stupid thing," he growls and you laugh.

"Stop," you say, "Just let me. I need to wear this again later."

He pulls away, but just barely, keeping his lips on yours as he you quickly work the buttons of first the jacket, then the vest and dress shirt. He tugs on the tie, pulling you closer still just as you remove the last piece of clothing.

He walks you to the bed and falls onto it, pulling you down with him.

"Jason," he breathes, almost desperate, and it sends shivers down your spine.

You bite your lip as you stare down at him. It's all you can do to not lose yourself. And before you know it, he's flipped you over so he is straddling you.

"Michael," you say, and though you feel like you should be saying more, the words don't seem to want to come. It doesn't matter, anyway, since he takes that moment to kiss you again. It's not long before you're both out of breath and moaning.

"I…I should…introduce you…to my…mother…get…her…off my…back," you say between kisses. He pulls away and you pout.

"Thought you didn't do introductions to your family…" he says, half frowning.

"Yes, well, last time I did that, the guy ended up married to my sister, so forgive me for being apprehensive about it."

"Guess you don't have to worry about that anymore now…" he says before leaning down to kiss you again.

"Nope…"

.x.x.

The two of you end up arriving nearly ten minutes late to the reception and your sister glares at you, but even she can't rid you of the happy grin you've got. She's looking at him, a bit disappointed, you can tell, as you introduce them.

"So it was just a friend," she says, "Oh well, there's always next time."

She turns her attention to him, smiling conspiratorially, and stage whispers, "You know you're the first friend he's introduced to me in years. He's afraid I'll end up dating all of them. Silly since I've already got James. Though if I weren't already married…" She winks at him and I fight the urge to drag him away.

He laughs, "Give me a call any time."

You watch your new brother-in-law—strange to think of him as such after so many years of wanting—and he's laughing along, albeit a bit tensely. It's the first time you've been this close to him in five years. He's changed a bit: a little taller; his hair, a little longer; maybe a bit rougher than you remember; and older and happier. But then again, you've changed, too. Looking at him now, it is evident how long five years really is. You wonder briefly how different things would be had you not introduced them all those years ago, though you know probably the only difference might be the girl next to him.

You feel a hand placed discreetly on the small of your back and you look up. He only gives you a small worried glance before turning his attention back to your sister whom he is still talking to. Had he seen you watching? Does he know you're alright now? Or does he think you've still got feelings for James?

You move before you even really realize you're doing it. Your hands wrap around his neck and you pull him closer to you and—not caring that your mother stands only foots away next to a young lady she no doubt intends to introduce to you, or that he is currently engaged in conversation with your sister—you kiss him.

He responds almost immediately, though you know he's a bit surprised.

"What was that for?" he asks when he pulls away.

"You were thinking something stupid," you tell him.

You turn towards your sister and smile. Ignoring her sputtering, you pull her into a tight hug.

"Congratulations," you tell her, "I'm very happy for you."

And for the first time since you've heard the news, you know you mean it.