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while Sam throws Alex a bachelor party of his own

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"Did I miss them?" Sam asks, when Alex opens the door. He was hoping to catch Ryan one more time before he left for his night of debauchery with Luke but getting everyone on the bus down to the marina had taken fucking forever.

"They left, like, maybe ten minutes ago," Alex answers, welcoming Sam into the suite with a bear hug. "Am I dressed all right?" They're foreign words, for his mouth; Luke's influence in his life has been wide-reaching indeed. He glances down at his jeans and untucked dress shirt, then looks at Sam in question.

"You're fine," Sam says, especially since he's dressed much the same. "You ready to go?"

"All set." Alex snags his room key off a side table and follows Sam into the hallway. "You look great," he says with a smile and a companionable shoulder bump. "How've you been?"

"Good. Enjoying married life," Sam says, careful to make sure there's no one else in the hall when he says it. "What about you? Nervous about tomorrow?"

"Nah. I'm excited as hell, actually," Alex tells him, and the amazing thing - to him - is knowing that it's completely true. "I still have days when I can't believe he's real, you know? So then, to think, okay, he's real and he actually plans to marry me tomorrow..." He laughs out loud. "I feel like I'm getting away with something. Like I need to grab Luke and run, before he comes to his senses."

Sam just shakes his head. "You're such a fucking idiot sometimes," he says, one of the few people who might be able to get away with it. "Luke's fantastic, I'm not arguing that, but you're selling yourself short, mate. You're good for him too."

"Sometimes," Alex allows, willing to accept the insult if Sam is going to back it up with logic -- even if Alex happens to consider said logic wrong, as he sometimes does. "Sometimes, though, I think I just ask too much of him," he confesses, his voice quieter than it was a buoyant moment ago. "He's got so much pressure on him from his own life, and then I demand that he has to deal with my stress. I worry it's not fair, you know?"

Sam shrugs. "Relationships aren't always fair," he says, pushing the button for the elevator. "You can't expect them to be. You can't be keeping tabs and trying to make everything equal. All you can do is be there when he needs you."

Alex eyes his friend sidelong, surprised at this sudden font of wisdom. "When did you fucking turn into Yoda?"

Sam laughs, stepping into the elevator. "When I ended up with a boy who's pretty much sacrificed his own life to travel the fucking world with me and see to my every whim?"

"Huh." Alex considers that, leaning back in the corner. "I'd kind of think that would make you more self-absorbed, not less. Good for you. Got any idea what our boys are doing tonight, by the way? I think Luke said something like Ryan didn't tell him anything other than to dress comfortably and be ready to party."

"Ryan said something about some games, dancing, drinks. Nothing too over the top, I don't think," Sam says, grinning as they reach the ground floor. "I, on the other hand, have gone all out," nodding towards the limo they can see waiting outside the lobby doors.

"Holy crap, are we trolling for hookers? Awesome!" Alex exclaims.

"No." Sam punches him in the shoulder. "Get in," he orders, rolling his eyes and grinning at the doorman and then the chauffeur.

Stretching out his long legs, Alex relaxes back against the luxe leather seat. "Do you still do that, by the way?" he asks, once the door is shut behind Sam and they're safely soundproofed. "Go to Citadel and order in when you feel like it?"

"I haven't in a long time," Sam says, shaking his head. "Not since Ryan took that trip to Vermont." He glances over at Alex. "What about you?"

"I haven't..." Alex thinks back, and nearly freezes as he finally confronts head-on a truth he's been avoiding for a long time. "...Since meeting Luke. I mean, I reserve the right to. I could, anytime," he insists, his tone taking on a defensive edge even though Sam hasn't said anything. "I just... I don't know why I haven't."

"Does it bother you?" Sam asks.

Alex shrugs, looking decidedly uncomfortable. "Kind of. What do you think? Is that kind of fucked-up, to be monogamous when I don't have to be?"

"I don't think so," Sam says, blowing out a breath and shifting in his seat so he's facing Alex. "Since I met Ryan, I've only fucked around three times without him and two of those sucked. They left me feeling like shit and missing the hell out of him. The other time was this key party thing and we both went with other people. I mean, I still like fucking around when he's there and involved, but as for doing it without him, right now, I can't even imagine that happening again."

"And that doesn't make you feel... I don't know. Pussy-whipped?"

"No," Sam says simply. "I could if I wanted to, but I don't, and besides, why fuck around just for the heck of it when what I have at home is so damned good."

Alex studies him for a long moment, and seriously considers the question, ignoring whether or not it was rhetorical. "I guess... just to prove that ultimately he doesn't have that power over you. That he can't control you that way." To ensure that whoever's waiting at home isn't going to use sex as a damn weapon.

Sam's quiet for a moment. "Do you think he's trying to? Or that he ever will?" Hell, he can't imagine Luke trying to control Alex at all.

In response Alex does some weird upper-body wriggle, like he's got a snake buried under his shirt and it's crawling up his spine. Like he can't fucking relax in his own skin. "I don't know. No," he says finally. "Do you think that's the fucking point?"

"No, I think the fucking point is that you're overthinking things," Sam says with a sigh. "Look. If you feel like doing it, do it, but don't do it because you think you have something to prove. That's not fair to either one of you."

Rubbing his fingers over his lips, Alex gazes blankly out the window; he's been so wrapped up in their conversation that he forgot to be curious about their destination. When he turns back to look at Sam, his voice is quiet, steady. "I love him so much," figuring that here is one friend he can count on to understand that depth of emotion. "I don't even want anybody else. I mean yeah, women still catch my eye, and sometimes I get nostalgic. But I wouldn't feel anything with them, and now that I know what it's like with Luke..." He shakes his head.

"I know. I know exactly what you mean, so relax and enjoy it," Sam says, wishing Alex knew how to just... accept things. "You're sure not getting any grief from me and anyone who does give you shit can fuck right off."

Alex quirks a brow, watching him, and then chuckles softly. "Is that how you live your life now, since Ryan? You just... let shit be?" It's pretty different from the old Sam, who looked laidback, sure, but was often so tightly wound just beneath the surface.

"Yeah, pretty much," Sam says, nodding, realizing Alex is right. He wasn't always this fucking zen himself. "Having someone who accepts you for everything you are, who's always gonna be there..." he shrugs, "everything else pales..."

Now Alex's eyes narrow, a wicked gleam creeping in. "And that doesn't, you know, secretly freak you out?" he asks, working to keep his expression totally innocent. "Like, in the middle of the night when you can't sleep, you don't look over at him and start to feel paranoid wondering why, why is he so suspiciously tolerant of you, when no one else in the world would be...?"

Sam just shakes his head. "No, I don't," he says, punching Alex in the shoulder. "We're here." Nodding out the window at the marina beside them.

"Quit hitting me. I'm the guest of honor or some shit." Alex looks out his window, then climbs out of the limo. His eyes light up at the sight of the various sailboats bobbing at the pier - and, a bit farther out, a few yachts - and he looks to Sam in hope.

"That one," Sam says with a smile, pointing to the fucking behemoth he's rented for the night, the rest of the party guests already taken out.

The yacht is gorgeous, fully lit where it's anchored in much deeper waters, a cheerful sparkle of noise floating to reach them even here. Alex is grinning like a fool, and he grabs Sam in a hug. "You fucking kick ass, man," he says, already heading down the pier for the small boat which will tender them out.

Sam laughs, following closely behind, a nod and a smile given to the crewman who's waiting for them. "Luke's granddad agreed to come out and I had them make up a room specially for him, for when he decides he's enough, and Ryan and I arranged for the mums and grandmums to have the spa for the evening and they're going to get pampered from head to toe," he tells Alex, settling into his seat as they push off from the dock.

"Oh, now that is fucking brilliant," Alex says, tearing his attention away from the yacht to look at Sam. "I can picture my gran and Luke's nana together, not a word of understanding between them but they'll probably love each other anyway. But seriously, man. I don't know how the fuck you put up with your mother-in-law." Sofia Kwanten seems to feel that she has adopted Luke, and while she appears to have his best interests at heart... "I mean, I believe that she means well and all, but she's driving me fucking nuts."

"Yeah," Sam nods, grinning. "She is a bit much," he agrees. How could he not? "But she's a lot better now that I've put a ring on Ryan's finger."

"Huh." Alex's mouth twists into a frown, and he's suddenly very very grateful that Luke's not around to hear him stick his foot in it like this. "Yeah, Luke's mother sent him a really sweet wedding gift, but he's kind of a thousand percent certain that it was in complete secret from his father."

"I don't get how they can accept him but not your marriage," Sam says, the sea breeze washing over them, the yacht drawing closer and closer. "That's just fucked up. Is his dad a real asshole?"

"I'm not even sure. I think he genuinely loves Luke, loves his wife. He's just so damn narrow-minded. So he, like, sticks his fingers in his ears and goes la la la and that's how he can look at Luke and say, 'yep, that's my son,' while at the same time he completely ignores who Luke is." Alex shakes his head in exasperation. "Until I show up and throw it in his face, and then he can't just ignore me away like he's been doing with Luke's sexuality all these years. I don't know, man. It's fucked up." Blowing out a breath, he gives Sam a crooked grin. "And I gotta tell you, that just makes me love Luke's grandparents all the more. I mean, how fucking cool is it that you got his ancient gransha on that yacht with everyone else? I don't think the guy's been out of Wales since World War Two."

Sam grins. "It actually didn't take too much talking on my part," he says as they pull up behind the yacht. "Now that he's out, he's raring to go."

Alex goes where Sam directs, climbing a ladder from the tender onto the yacht, and then climbing a second ladder onto the main deck. He ducks inside an open double doorway spilling light and noise to find the massive dining room inside done up like the most lavish of casinos, full of his family and friends all cheering and calling out to him, immediately reaching out to wrap him in their collective embrace.

Sam watches Alex, fucking happy as a clam that his mate seems pleased. He gives everyone time to molest Alex then nods at the dealers to set up their tables and the waiters and waitresses to get serving.

The servers are all in fairly scanty dress - the men like they walked off a Chippendale's stage, shirtless but in tight black trousers plus bowties; the woman nearly falling out of the tight black shirts which are mostly unbuttoned and tied just beneath their breasts, tall high heels showing off their legs in very very short black skirts - and Alex quirks an eyebrow at Sam in curiosity. That's really all the time he can spare, though, because then two of his best friends since childhood are on him, one shoving a glass of good scotch into his hand and jabbering away in a Swedish dialect Alex hasn't even spoken in years, and the other dragging him into a chair at the poker table. "Wait, are we betting with real money?" he raises his voice over the din to ask, and laughs softly. "Don't we have any little paper umbrellas or something?"

"You're using chips, sir," the dealer explains, giving everyone their own pile. "But Mr. Worthington will be covering any wins with real money at the end of the night."

"Oh," Alex says, digesting this piece of information, and immediately fiddling with his bright red chips, stacking and restacking them.

"When are you going to start earning as much money as Sam does?" his sister Elin asks in her typically subtle way, taking a seat catty-corner to him and jabbing at the Maraschino cherry in her glass with a black cocktail straw.

Alex snorts a soft laugh. "Never," he answers, shooting her a Look from beneath his eyelashes. "I figure maybe I'll retire at the end of this year. I'll become a kept man. Luke will pay all the bills without breaking a sweat, and I'll get hugely fat and do nothing but lie around by the pool all day drinking Mai-Tai's and complaining about how lazy the average working man is."

Sam circulates like a good host, making sure drinks are being filled, cards are being dealt and no one's getting too friendly with the staff. He stops to talk to each table in turn, making sure everyone's having a good time and keeping a special eye on Luke's granddad. But finally he makes his way back to Alex's table and takes a seat beside his mate. "How's it going?"

Glancing up at the question, Alex immediately returns his attention to his hand, but he points a finger at his nephew, Greger. "That runt," he grumbles, "is cleaning me out. However, he also seems to be extremely interested in the lovely Miss Julissa, which means that I can blackmail him at any time necessary. I'll take two, please," he tells the dealer, passing his cards over. He gives Sam a grin. "How about you? I hope you're getting to have fun also."

Sam grins at Greger. "Did you get her number yet?" Ducking his head when Elin gives him a look. "Yeah, I'm good. Just making sure everything's running smoothly. We pulled anchor and we're sailing back and forth along the coast for a bit so if you get a chance, go on deck and check it out."

"Definitely," Alex says, loving the idea, and wishing that he'd thought of it himself; not for tonight, but in general. One by one the players show their hands, and sure enough Greger displays a full house to the groans of his opponents. "What the hell are they teaching him in school?" Alex demands of Elin.

She shrugs and protests, "What can I say? He's good at maths. Be proud."

"Proud, hell," Alex growls, turning over his few remaining chips and getting to his feet. He roughly tousles Greger's hair before leaning down to place a loud smacking kiss on his nephew's forehead. As he turns away, taking Sam's advice to go check out the view from the deck, his hand automatically fishes out his phone from his pocket. Feeling a bit sheepish he glances at the screen, but finds no calls or texts for Luke. Which he has to figure is completely normal, considering the circumstances, and - oh yeah - also a very good thing.

Sam does another round, checks with the Captain to make sure everything's fine, then, noticing that Alex is missing from his table, heads out to the deck to find his mate leaning over the railing. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

"It's amazing. God, I love the sea," Alex murmurs, staring at the endless horizon, enchanted with the way the sky blends seamlessly into the water. "Did I ever tell you I was in the Navy? I was a legit soldier," he says, turning to Sam with a laugh. "Because we're such warriors in Sweden, ha."

"Mandatory service, right?" Sam says. "Didn't they end that a few years back?"

"Yeah, it was still mandatory to serve back then, but I wanted to join up anyway. My family were all total pacifists, and I felt I just needed to break away somehow. You know, do something really different and make sure I was thinking for myself," Alex explains. "So it helped when later I decided to get serious about acting, because I knew I'd actually explored other options, gone to uni and tried to examine if I had other talents to work with."

"My dad would've been thrilled if they'd had mandatory service back home," Sam says, amused, wondering what would have happened if he'd actually had other options too. University certainly had never been one of them. "He wouldn't've had to send me across country."

"I still think that was really fucking cold, man," Alex replies, huffing a soft laugh of disbelief. "I mean, yeah, if my parents had done that to me, I would've survived it -- Sweden's a pretty small country," he cracks. "But it must have been really hard on you."

Sam shrugs. "I like to think I've forgiven him," he says, grinning at Alex. "At least he didn't parade around naked in front of my dates."

"Fuck you," Alex says, dissolving into laughter. "Oh, Christ. I am so fucking glad that he finally stopped doing that. Like, fifteen years ago." Stellan Skarsgard had possessed neither shame nor modesty but quite possibly more than his fair share of nerve while his eldest son was a teenager.

"Darn." Sam's grin widens. "Are you going to take up the tradition when you guys have kids?" he teases.

"Ha. Don't think so." Alex pushes back from the railing and stands up straight, finishing off the last of his scotch. "Two gay dads, flashing their kid's dates... It kind of makes a completely different impression from when it's one ultra-virile het guy, I think." He grins back at Sam. "Plus, you know how jealous I get when other people start drooling over Luke. Teenagers don't get a pass."

Sam laughs but he's still caught on the fact that Alex barely blinked an eye when he mentioned them having kids in the first place. "You guys are already planning a family?" he asks. Christ. If Alex and Luke become dads, he and Ryan will never hear the fucking end of it.

"Eh..." Alex shrugs, and doesn't answer for a few moments. Then he sighs, and tries to formulate something definite. "Planning, no. We've talked about the possibility, maybe, someday. Nothing certain." He sets his glass down carefully by the door so that he doesn't forget it, then leans back against the railing, turning away from the view. "I really want to, though. Have a kid with him. I wasn't sure before, but... well, I'm sure now." Looking over at Sam, he admits, "I haven't found the right time to tell him yet."

"You will," Sam says, certain of it, and equally certain that Ryan's mum won't be the only one disappointed when Alex and Luke start their family. Fuck. Every time he thinks he's doing right by Ryan, something pops up to remind him he isn't. That he's still putting his career before his husband. "I envy you," he admits. "You came out and no one really gave a fuck. You've still got True Blood, you're still getting roles..."

Alex snorts, and the sound is not quite a laugh. "You think no one gives a fuck? You don't read my press. Which is good, you shouldn't." He shrugs. "I don't, either. But I pay people who do. And for some reason they feel compelled to tell me all about it..." Now Alex shakes his head, his shoulders slumping a little. "I've been getting bashed all over the place. Luke too, which is completely fucking stupid considering that he's been out for his entire professional career. Some assholes even sent a petition to HBO demanding that I be fired because, I quote, 'Eric Northman isn't a faggot.' They actually got a few thousand signatures."

Sam shakes his head. "Sorry, mate. I didn't know. Though how anyone can watch that show and be homophobic is beyond me," he says with a grin and nudge of their shoulders together. "How's Luke taking it?"

"Don't know, we never talk about it. And seriously! Like, do those people not fucking pay attention? Christ." Alex rolls his eyes in disgust. "What about you and Ryan?" he asks. "I mean, Sofia already asked me about the pitter-patter of little feet. Are you guys thinking about it much, or is it still something you're thinking you'll revisit in a few years?" Alex suddenly mentally replays his words and hastens to add, "Which I totally understand, don't get me wrong."

"I don't know," Sam says, looking out over the water. "We haven't talked about it too much. The plan was for me to come out in a couple years, and I guess we'll see about doing something then. I know Ryan really wants to be a dad and Sofia keeps sending us pictures of every fucking gay celeb and their progeny, especially Neil Patrick Harris."

Alex shakes his head. "That's fucking psychological warfare right there. The woman could get a job with Al-Qaeda I bet, except they wouldn't stand for her prettying up their uniforms." He lays a hand on Sam's shoulder in support. "Oh, hey. You know, a friend of mine is pretty close with NPH. Do you think if I could get him to just maybe drop a line to Sofia himself, then she'd be excited and distracted enough that she couldn't bother you anymore?"

"Thanks for the offer," Sam says, awfully tempted for about ten seconds, "but I'd be worried she'd let the cat out of the bag in her excitement."

"Ahh, got it." Alex breathes deeply of the sea air before asking, "Have you figured out yet if you even want to be a father? Not Ryan. You."

Sam nods, staring down at his hands for a moment. "I do, but the whole idea fucking terrifies me to be honest. Some of the stuff my dad did with me? I just wonder if I have any business being a father but I know Ryan would make an amazing one and I don't think he'd want kids with me if he didn't have faith I could be a decent dad."

"I think you could probably lift the world with two hands, just going by how much faith Ryan's got in you," Alex murmurs, a bit amused, but - even more than that - genuinely warmed by the thought of how impenetrably strong Sam and Ryan's relationship appears. "And you--" There's a buzzing from Sam's pocket, and Alex holds up his hand to signal that whatever he was in the middle of saying certainly wasn't that important, if Sam wants to answer the call.

Sam sighs but he smiles when he sees it's Ryan. "Just a sec," he tells Alex, taking the call. "Hey. How's it going?"

"Hey, love, is this a bad time?" Ryan asks softly, stepping out onto one of the large curving mosaic-tiled balconies which rings Alex and Luke's suite. Luke is inside cleaning up, but Ryan's keeping a discreet eye on him to make sure that if Luke decides to take off, then at least he won't have a gigantic headstart on Ryan.

"No, it's fine. Alex and I are out on the deck checking out the stars," Sam says with a grin. "What's up? How's everything going?"

"Um." Ryan chews on his bottom lip for a long moment, still debating whether he's using his best judgment here or whether he's throwing a wrench in the works and creating even more drama where there doesn't need to be. "Luke's back in his hotel room. I'm here with him. But I'd feel a whole lot more comfortable if Alex were here instead, you know? And I think Luke would, too."

Fuck. Sam doesn't like the way that sounds. "Why? What happened?" he asks, glancing at Alex.

Ryan rubs a hand over his eyes. "His... his fuckin' close mate cornered him and professed his undying love, tried to convince Luke to leave Alex, basically made Luke feel like shit. And seeing as Luke had already had quite a few, I don't know if he's sobbing because he's miserable or sobbing because he's furious, you know? Or, like, floating somewhere in between. But I reckon if I didn't tell you guys, Alex might kill me."

Alert in an instant to the change in Sam's air, his entire posture, Alex stands straight, feeling tension shoot through his blood. "What?" he asks his friend softly. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing serious," Sam says, gesturing for Alex to stay calm. He glances at his watch. Shit. They're not due back in port for several hours yet. "I'll take care of it. We'll be there as soon as we can."

Breathing out a sigh of relief, Ryan murmurs, "Thank you, Sam. And I'm so sorry," he adds, right before he ends the call.

"'We'll be there as soon as we can'?" Alex repeats, pinning Sam with his gaze.

"No one's hurt," Sam says, shoving his phone back into his pocket. "Apparently one of Luke's mates acted like an asshole at the party and upset him. Ryan's with him in your room but he thought it would be better if you came back. If you're okay with that," he adds, because it's not really his business to order Alex around.

"Turn this yacht around," Alex orders, already turning himself in circles in an attempt to locate a member of the crew. "Where's the fucking captain? They need to take us back. If everyone keeps playing and drinking in there, then they'll never know, I can slip out into the tender and go back to the pier and then these guys can finish their night none the wiser, and that way they'll still get their party." He digs his own cell out of his pocket. "Ryan, what the fuck is going on?" he snarls the instant Ryan answers.

"Hey." Sam grabs the phone from Alex and shakes it at him. "He's taking care of your boy," he says in a soft growl, always mindful that they might not be alone. "Speak to him nicely." He hands the phone back, the look on his face telling Alex he'd better fucking mind. "I'll get them to take us in."

"He-- hello?" Ryan asks, uncertain. He thinks he heard Sam's voice somewhere in there, but it's mostly been a muffle ever since Alex's charming greeting.

"Ryan." Alex takes a deep breath, and slowly exhales, shooting Sam a look as if to say, See? I'm behaving! "Please tell me what's going on with my fiancé."

"He's okay, Alex," Ryan reassures him, peering from the balcony through the glass slider into the suite where he's left Luke stretched out on the bed, fully-clothed. "Just, one of his old friends picked the absolute worst possible time to declare his love and try and talk Luke out of marrying you, and understandably Luke got pretty upset about that. But he's okay, and he's back in your suite, safe and sound. I thought you might want to know. And meantime, I'll be with him, so you don't have to worry."

For all that Ryan's soothing tone of voice could gentle puppies with nervous bladders, Alex's face is brick red, a thick vein in his forehead pulsing with blood. "Is he hurt?"

"No, Alex, he's fine," Ryan repeats.

"Well, who the fuck was it?" Alex spits out, keeping his voice low and checking over his shoulder for Sam.

Ryan sighs. "I'm not going to tell you that, man." But fuck, he was 99% certain that Alex would demand to know.

"You definitely fucking are going to tell me," Alex insists, his voice rising in anger once again, "because I'm going to take him the fuck apart!"

"Hey!" Sam says again, slapping Alex upside the back of the head. "Nicely, I said, and they're ready for us so let him go." Leading the way through to where they came on earlier.

"Don't fucking smack me!" Alex snarls, about two decibels south of a shout. "'Bye Ryan," he says, shoving his phone back into his pocket. "Oh, shit," he groans as he descends the ladder to reach the boat that will be returning them to the pier. "I didn't get a chance to go talk to Luke's gransha. I hope he's not insulted."

"He'll be fine," Sam says, taking a seat again. "I'll come back later and see him safely back to the hotel myself." Anything he can do to make things easier on both Alex and Luke.

"Thank you." Alex leans his elbows on his knees and puts his head in his hands, the flash and burn of his anger fading already, to be replaced by worry and anxiety. "Did Ryan tell you all the details?"

"He said some mate of Luke's decided to confess his undying love and tried to push him into not marrying you," Sam says, hoping Ryan told Alex the same thing. "He said Luke was really upset."

Alex sighs heavily. "Right. That's what I heard, too." He shakes his head. "What a fuckin' asshole. Who does that? The night before a wedding, seriously? I mean, by the sound of it he's known Luke for years. That's just a shitty thing to do."

Sam nods. "Yeah, it is, but you cannot kill one of Luke's mates at your wedding. He wants a husband at home, not conjugal visits."

Narrowing his eyes at Sam, Alex looks for all the world like he's actually about to argue that logic. But after a moment he huffs a breath out and sits back. "All right, fine. What would you do instead, then? If you were in my shoes?"

"Well, first of all, I'd worry about taking care of Luke, making sure he was okay," Sam says, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck, "and then, if I could trust myself not to fucking deck the guy, I'd probably take him aside and let him know that what he did was not fucking cool and that if he can't apologize and be happy for us, he's free to leave." He blows out a breath. "I mean, for all you know, the guy was pissed out of his skull and he said things he didn't even mean to say."

"Oh, that's a nice excuse," Alex grumbles, although he certainly wouldn't put it past the limits of reality. "Imagine if I tried to pull that shit. I show up at the altar on our wedding day, and it's, 'Oh, hey Luke -- you know how I told you all that stuff about undying love and growing old together and blah blah blah? It turns out I was just on a really fucking long acid trip. But you understand, right?'" He rolls his eyes. "'And hey, you can keep your ring, it's cool!'"

"I think that's a bit different," Sam says, rolling his eyes back. "Look. Just fucking leave it alone then. Let Luke decide how he wants to handle it and have his back. But he might not be in any shape to make any decisions tonight."

"Fine." Alex snaps his jaws shut and folds his arms across his chest, watching as the lights of the marina grow closer and rapidly closer. The second the skipper throws a rope to begin tying up the boat, Alex hops to the dock and takes off down the pier for their waiting limo, thankful that Sam's got all the details handled.

"Thanks, mate," Sam tells the guy who brought them in, slipping him an extra hundred for his troubles. He leaps onto the dock and follows Alex into the limo, settling back in his corner, breath blown out again. What a fucking fiasco. Luckily their guests are completely unaware and with a little work, will stay that way. "You know, the point is, he's chosen you. It doesn't matter what his shithead mate did, other than it upsetting Luke, and while that's a really crappy thing for him to have done, tomorrow you'll be married, your ring on his finger, and the whole thing'll be a moot point."

The words catch up with Alex's brain a few seconds later, and he turns in his seat to stare at Sam. "Wait. What?" he asks incredulously, his voice harsh. "You say that like you're suggesting Luke might've actually thrown me over for that asshole!"

"Fuck, no," Sam says, shaking his head. "I'm saying that the asshole is going to have to sit there tomorrow watching the two of you get happily married and nothing you could do to him will be as much of a kick in the balls as that."

"...Oh." Alex relaxes back once more. "Okay, yeah. I get that. Shit." He drags his fingers through his hair, and he's aware he probably looks like freakin' Christopher Lloyd circa 1984 at this point but he can't help it. "How were you so calm right before your wedding?"

"I wasn't," Sam says. "Not right before. But I knew I wanted to marry Ryan more than anything and I couldn't imagine my life without him... and I just trusted in our love for each other," he finishes lamely, ducking his head a little, figuring he sounds like he should be writing fucking greeting cards.

Alex watches him for a long silent moment. When he speaks again, his voice is uncharacteristically small. "I wrote a speech. You know, to say during the ceremony. But I'm scared as hell for anyone else to hear it."

"You want to run it past me?" Sam offers. Just because they're actors doesn't mean they have a way with words or that having to 'perform' in their real lives is any easier than it is for anyone else.

"No." Alex huffs a laugh. "Saying it once will be hard enough. But tell me what you did at your wedding. Did you just, like, pretend you and Ryan were the only people there, or something like that?"

"Pretty much. I just focused on Ryan." Sam smiles at the thought. "After a few minutes up there, everything else just falls away."

Everything else just falls away. Alex watches Sam, a smile curving his own lips. "Hey," he says softly. "I can't remember if I ever told you or not. But I'm really happy for you, man. Ryan always looks so... I don't know, so golden when he talks about you, and when he's with you... It's just beautiful, the two of you together. It's awesome to see."

"Thanks," Sam says, grinning, unable to stop when he thinks about his husband. "He makes me really happy." Which is quite possibly the fucking understatement of the century. "I'm really glad you and Luke found each other. He's good for you. And you for him too," he adds quickly, but he's sure Alex knows what he means.

"He is amazing for me," Alex replies, drawing the word out nearly as wide as his smile. But then he looks out his window and sees that they're pulling up in front of the resort, and it feels like all that blissful calm just drains away in an instant. "Fuck," he mutters, barely waiting for the limo to come to a full stop before he's shoving the door open and climbing out. "Our room, Ryan said?"

"Yeah," Sam nods, slipping the driver a hundred and following Alex out. "Just remember. Ryan's been sitting with him and taking care of him and he called us back because he thought Luke would feel better with you there. It's not his fault this asshole did what he did."

"Yeah, yeah," Alex mutters, but he knows that Sam's right, and talking it through ensured that the first wave of his fury blew out to sea long before he even got near Ryan. Inside the elevator he pounds the button for their floor and then shoves his hands in his pockets, his mouth tight with worry.

"Hey," Ryan whispers, lying down next to Luke and putting an arm lightly around him. "Alex is on his way, all right? Sam's bringing him back from the party."

"You called him?" Fuck. "Why would you do that?"

"Because I value my life," Ryan tells him with a wry chuckle. "Seriously, because you know he loves you more than anything, and it would kill him to find out later that you were hurting and he could've been with you but he wasn't."

"But it's his bachelor party and Sam went to so much trouble," Luke says, and damn it, now he's crying again.

"Shh, shh," Ryan whispers, hugging Luke. "It's been hours. I'm sure they had an amazing time already and Alex didn't miss out on anything. Don't even worry about it."

Alex slides his keycard through the lock and of course the first thing he sees when he pushes open the door is Ryan, lying on the bed in the moonlight and half wrapped around Luke. He steps forward, rage flaring in his eyes all over again, but Ryan has the good sense to stop what he's doing immediately -- as well as the good sense to put the bed between himself and Alex, as opposed to coming closer. In a second Alex has taken his place, sitting down and pulling Luke into his arms only to find that his boy is crying, fuck.

Luke wraps himself around Alex, the tears becoming outright sobs as everything just hits at once. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I didn't mean to ruin things for you."

Sam sighs, closing the door behind them, and gestures for Ryan to come see him.

Ryan obeys, crossing silently to his lover and slipping his arms around Sam's neck.

"Hush, älskling," Alex murmurs, his lips pressed to Luke's temple. He gathers his boy more completely into his lap and begins to rock him like a child. "You didn't ruin anything. I need to know if you're all right. You don't seem all right."

"I'm just tired and I drank too much and Declan's a fucking asshole," Luke mumbles, the words smeared against Alex's throat.

"You okay?" Sam whispers, holding Ryan close, a quick check-in before he gets them the hell out of here.

"Yeah," Ryan whispers back, resting his head on Sam's shoulder. "Thanks for bringing him back. I was getting worried."

Alex isn't quite sure he understood all of what Luke just said; actually, he's fairly certain he only caught a few of the slurred words, here and there. He looks up at Ryan. "Is he going to be hungover?"

Ryan looks back over his shoulder and sighs. "Probably. He already threw up once or twice, so it shouldn't be hideously bad."

Grinding his teeth, Alex struggles but manages to bite back any commentary. Hungover, on their wedding day. Fucking fabulous. "Sweetheart, I need you to take some aspirin and drink some water before you fall asleep," he whispers to his lover. "Do you feel like you can get up?"

Luke shakes his head. "I don't want to get up and I'm fine." He wipes at his face, snuffling inelegantly.

Sam watches for a moment, bemused, god knows they've all been there, done that, then says, "Alex, you need anything before we go?"

"No. Thanks," Alex answers, looking up to meet Sam's eyes with a nod. Letting his mate know he means it. Then he turns back to his lover. "Okay, I care about the answer, but that was more of a rhetorical question. Get up, Luke."

"Okay, we'll see you tomorrow, guys," Sam says, giving Ryan one more hug before he ushers his husband out of the room, closing the door behind them.

Sighing heavily, and still snuffling, Luke scoots off the bed and heads for the bathroom.

Following closely behind, Alex reaches around and grabs his shaving kit from the marble vanity, finds the aspirin bottle and shakes out a few. He monitors while his boy drinks them down, then cuddles him while he gently wipes Luke's face with a cool cloth. "I love you, älskling," he whispers. "Everything's going to be all right. I'm sorry that your friend did that, but things will be good."

"You're not mad?" Luke asks, leaning against Alex. Fuck, he looks awful. His eyes swollen from all the crying he's done.

Alex shakes his head, baffled. "Why would I be mad, love?" he asks, beginning to undress his boy like a doll.

"I don't know," Luke says, although he does, really, because he's mad at himself. Blames himself. He should have known. Should've figured out the jokes weren't just jokes. "I thought maybe you'd think I'd done something to encourage him. Or not enough to discourage him. He kissed me," he blurts out. "I pushed him away and told him to fuck off but I hate that he touched me like that when I'm yours."

Fuck. Yeah, no question: Alex fucking hates it, too. But he works to keep moving, to continue on like the world's not blowing up. Because, truly, he supposes it's not. He guides Luke back into bed, then strips out of his own clothing and lies down, wrapping himself around his lover. "I know you wouldn't encourage anyone," he says softly. "I know you. I trust you."

And just like that, Luke settles. He's still got tears in his eyes, he's still drunker than he should be, and he still feels like he's been run over by a freight train, but those words? They're perfect. And they're everything he needed to hear. "I love you," he whispers, kissing Alex. "I love you much."

Alex nods, trailing his fingertips over Luke's cheekbone in a soft caress. "Tomorrow, you'll marry me. And we'll let the whole world know."

Luke nods then yawns. He can't help it. "Promise me you won't kill him?"

A long moment passes in stiff silence. Finally, "Don't point him out to me."

Wide-eyed, Luke nods again. "Did you have a good time at your party?" he asks softly, exhausted, but he just wants to spend some time with Alex, like this, before he gives in to sleep.

"It was really awesome, yeah," Alex answers, relaxing into a genuine smile. "Sam hired a gigantic yacht, and he had it all set up like a casino. My family was there, your gransha was there, it kicked ass." He gives Luke a brief kiss. "What about yours, before the end? Was it good up until that point?"

"Yes." Luke laughs. "We danced and sang and they made me drink these coloured shots. And they had this game where I had to choose one of two options or drink even more, and you said I could dance naked if I needed to, so I did, but only for a few seconds. And I sort of gave Ryan a lapdance with my clothes on because I knew I could trust him to behave."

"A 'sort of' lapdance. Huh." Alex snickers a little, trying to picture it. "You'll have to give me one of those, soon, 'cause I'm pretty sure I've never had one before. Did anyone touch you while you were naked?" He has to ask.

"Nope. I was up on the stage and they were on the dancefloor," Luke says. "And I just meant I didn't actually rub up against him. I just shook my hips and got in as close as I could without touching."

"Yeah? That's all right then," Alex replies, grinning again. He dips his head and kisses Luke, longer this time. "Can you try and sleep, now? I want you to feel good tomorrow." He's worried as fuck that Luke will feel like shit, actually, but he doesn't want to lay that on his lover.

Luke nods. "Are you going to sleep too?"

"Yes," Alex promises. This is really the only way he can sleep anymore: all tangled up in bed with his lover. All those other lonely nights, it's just fitful half-rest. "But not until you do."

"Okay. Love you," Luke murmurs, giving Alex one more kiss before he turns over, Alex's arm pulled tight around him as he spoons back into his sir's body.

"I love you, too," Alex whispers, breathing Luke in and finally beginning to relax now that his lover's in his arms.