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They hadn’t meant to get engaged.

Honest.

It was one of those spontaneous moments where you’re laying in bed next to the love of your life watching an old episode of Schitt’s Creek, and you just say absent-mindedly, ‘We should get married.’

Alex meant it with every piece of his soul, and he knew Michael would say yes. Marriage was something that they’d talked about fairly frequently over the years they’d been together. So, it was less a matter of if it would happen and much more a matter of when, though they were in no rush.

He’d already committed himself to Michael a long time ago. He didn’t need the ring or the license to tell him that Michael was the keeper of his heart. He’d known that since he was seventeen.

But marriage had its perks, and Alex wanted to shout from the rooftops that he was married to certified genius and resident sex god Michael Guerin.

So, on a balmy fall morning, Alex and Michael both took off work and traveled down to the Roswell courthouse to make it official. They scheduled their ceremony but decided against telling anyone in their immediate friend group or family they were getting married. It wasn’t meant to be a secret. Not really. It was just something they wanted for themselves only before they brought everyone and their opinions into the conversation.

Ever since they were “outed” all those years ago over a plate of nachos, they’d loved and cherished the support they’d received from everyone. And it wasn’t like they didn’t want the people they loved most there; they just didn’t want the day to be more than what it was.

It was the day Alex and Michael made their public commitment to one another and their love, and it felt like something for them and them alone.

They ran into a bit of a problem when they were told they’d need two witnesses to stand at the ceremony. But the lovely court clerk who’d helped them fill out the paperwork for their license let them know if they got a late afternoon appointment, she and her wife would gladly bear witness to their union.

And that’s exactly what they did.

In a toasty courtroom, in front of the honorable Judge Martin Turner, and Judy, and Meredith Morgan, Alex and Michael promised to love one another through good days and bad days and sickness and health as long as they both shall live.

They kissed, and they kissed, and they kissed some more on the steps outside the old building, deciding they wanted nothing more than to celebrate their nuptials with double burgers and milkshakes at their favorite alien-themed haunt.

If they saw anyone they knew, they still weren’t ready to spill the beans just yet, but it would all come out soon enough. They just needed October 18th, 2021, to be theirs and theirs alone for a few more hours.

As they made their way to Michael’s truck, they missed Sheriff Valenti deep in conversation with an animated and emotional Judy Morgan to the side of the building.

***

Kyle showed up at the Crashdown first.

His face was flushed like he’d ran from his apartment across town to get to the restaurant in time. But he was dressed rather nice, a clear off day from the hospital, and Alex was surprised to see him during the slow time between lunch and dinner.

Alex waved to his friend, who returned the wave with a curt nod before taking a seat at the counter. It was odd for Kyle not to come over and at least make pleasant conversation, but Alex wasn’t about to think about it too deeply when he was holding hands with his new husband and sipping on a double chocolate shake.

Liz came in second.

She looked less flushed than Kyle, but her eyes were wide and her smile even wider as she came in and leveled that grin first at Alex and Michael and then to Kyle. She sat down at the counter and began talking a mile a minute from what Alex could see, though he was too far away to make out what she was saying to Kyle.

“I wonder what Liz is so happy about,” Michael said through a mouthful of fries, cheese dribbling down onto his chin.

Alex laughed before reaching across to wipe his chin with his index finger. When he slowly brought his finger to his mouth and licked the gooey substance clean off, he saw Michael’s mouth literally hanging open.

Before he could respond, the chimes above the door rattled noisily, and Isobel and Max came in looking furious. Well, Isobel looked mad, and Max looked more annoyed than anything else. Unlike the others, they didn’t bother to glance over at the newlyweds and went right over to Kyle and Liz, who were still in a heated conversation.

“Okay, what is going on?” Alex asked Michael, keeping his eyes on his friends who were huddled together by the counter. It wasn’t busy by any means, and if the jukebox hadn’t been blaring ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ they probably could have heard what they were talking about.

“Should we go over there?”

Alex brought his attention back to his husband and reached back across the table to hold Michael’s hand. “If it’s important, they’ll come over here. I just wanted to eat our first meal as husband and husband together in peace.”

Michael’s smile back was blinding. “Me too.”

A few more minutes passed, with Alex stealing glances over at the foursome, who still refused to pay them any attention before the missing piece of the friend group finally showed up.

Maria looked somewhere between Isobel and Liz. She had a curt smile on her face, but her eyes gave her away. Alex knew she was upset and a little bit sad, and his immediate reaction was to get up and walk over to her and find out what was wrong.

But she didn’t look at him, and Alex stayed in his seat, growing increasingly uncomfortable with the fact their best friends were icing them out.

“This is getting weird,” Alex said, drawing his hand back from Michael and rubbing his temple.

Michael looked equally perplexed. “Yeah, it is. Do you think they found out?”

Alex shook his head, double-checking both his and Michael’s hands to make sure their rings were absent. “How? We got married forty minutes ago. News travels fast in Roswell but not that fast.”

“Well, I’m going over there. This is ridiculous.”

Just as Michael readied himself to stand, the quintet turned their attention to the table with varying degrees of emotions and descended upon them.

Maria slid in next to Alex, not asking permission, while Isobel did the same to Michael. Kyle and Max brought two chairs over to sit, and Liz took a seat on Max’s lap. Then they all stared at each other for a long few seconds before Alex had enough.

“Alright, what the hell, guys? What’s going on? Is there an emergency of some kind?”

“Since when do you guys…go to the Crashdown without us?” Isobel spoke up with a chill in her voice, leaning on the table and looking back and forth between them.

Alex felt his cheeks flush at the scrutiny coming from all their friends simultaneously. “I mean, we go out to eat without you guys all the time.”

“Yeah?” Kyle said as he crossed his arms across his chest. “How come you guys don’t invite us out to eat? We all like food. We all like being invited to, uh, eat food. Together.”

Alex looked across the table to Michael, hoping he would step in and say something, but Isobel had her attention on him, and he was a dark shade of crimson.

“Because sometimes me and my, um, boyfriend like to do things by ourselves. You guys aren’t offended, are you?”

“Oh, we are-” Isobel began before being cut off by Liz.

“We are just curious why you’d come to the Crashdown and not let us all know! We would have gladly rearranged things to come and grab a bite to eat with you guys!” Liz’s tone was much lighter than Isobel’s and Kyle’s.

“Yeah, so, I don’t know what is going on here, but I would love to get back to dinner with my boyfriend,” Michael finally spoke up with a firm look at his sister imparticular.

“Boyfriend this and boyfriend that,” Maria said through a hoarse laugh. “You guys trying to prove something?”

“Yeah, boyfriends,” Kyle elongated that last word with a raise of an eyebrow.

Alex shook his head; confusion etched across his face. “Okay, guys, seriously? What the hell is going on?”

No one spoke up at first until Max gently moved Liz off his lap and stood up like he had better things to do. “We know you got married today. They’re just giving you a hard time.”

Everyone but Alex and Michael sent a glare Max’s way. And Liz even swatted at his arm a few times.

“What? Let them enjoy their first meal as husbands,” Max replied, waving his hands at everyone in an attempt to get them to leave the booth. “And congratulations. I’m happy for you two.”

Alex was shell-shocked and trying to work through how everyone found out when they thought they’d been so discreet. Though, he should have known better since their initial road back together had also been sniffed out by their overzealous friend group.

“Thanks, brother,” Michael said with a tight smile. “Look, it wasn’t like a secret or anything. We just wanted to have something for us. Don’t be mad. We love you guys, and we were going to tell you.”

“Yeah. And we even talked about having a little reception at our place soon to celebrate,” Alex tried to say it with some enthusiasm. Michael shot him a look, and he just shrugged in return.

They’d briefly talked about a party, but nothing was set in stone. Telling them that something was on the horizon would turn into a thing, but Alex couldn’t help himself.

Isobel’s icy demeanor thawed at the mention of a potential party, and soon she was enveloping Michael in a hug. “Guys! We are so happy for you! It was just a little jarring to get a phone call from Valenti that your little brother just got married!”

“How did you know, Valenti?” Michael asked.

“My Mom is good friends with Judy Morgan. She saw her at the courthouse, and she was all emotional after the wedding of two of the kindest young men she’s ever met,” Kyle said that last bit in a sing-songy voice. “And I am happy for you, too. But, Alex, dude. Judy Morgan is a fine lady and all, but I always thought I would be your best man.”

Alex beamed even though Kyle was scowling a bit. “You are my best man, Kyle. In my heart.”

He laughed while wrapping Kyle in a hug, and within seconds he felt Maria hugging him at his back and Liz’s arm coming around his shoulders.

When they finally broke apart, he saw that Michael, Isobel, and Max were in their own awkward embrace on the other side of the table, and it warmed his heart entirely to see the smile on Michael’s lips.

He would never apologize for his decision to wed Michael, but god, he loved his friends, and it would have been something to see them there looking on at them as fondly as they were now.

“Alright, let’s leave them alone and let them finish their meal in peace!” Max exclaimed, once again trying to herd the group up. And this time, they all took the cue and started to make their way back to the counter.

When their friends were gone from the table, Alex made a snap decision and stood up on slightly shaky legs before changing his mind. He wasn’t big on public speaking, but he would make an exception for Michael and the people he loved most.

“Excuse me, everyone,” Alex shouted, drawing the attention of not only his friends but the five or so tables of people in the restaurant. He grabbed his milkshake to steady his hands and inhaled deeply. 

There was a lull between songs on the jukebox, so it really was now or never to get this spontaneous speech over with.

“Um, I got married today to this wonderful man over here,” Alex started, turning to gesture toward a slightly bewildered Michael. “We decided to keep it between us because, well, we wanted it to just be about us. Michael and I have been through a lot, and it was the best perfect wedding either of us could have imagined. But these people over here are our best friends and the people we love the most in this world, and maybe they weren’t there physically, but they were there where it counts. I love you, Michael. And we both love you guys more than we can say. I hope everyone is blessed to have a family as uniquely wonderful as ours! Cheers, to love!”

Alex barely had a moment to brace himself before all five of them descended upon him in a hug to the cheers and hollers of the few patrons scattered around.

He vaguely heard Arturo shout ‘milkshakes all around’ while he was smiling into Kyle’s shoulder.

When the hug finally broke up, Michael pulled Alex toward him, laying a sweet kiss on his forehead and gripping his waist. “I love you with my whole heart, Alex Guerin-Manes.”

“And I love you with mine, Michael Guerin-Manes.”

“And we love you both!” Isobel squealed. “But it’s time to celebrate! We’ve got a lot of fries to eat and a lot of reception planning to do.”

Alex rolled his eyes even though there was a warm expression on his face.

He and Michael joined the others back at the booth, hand in hand, smiles all around. It was the happiest day of their lives, and it was ending the way it was meant to; surrounded by the warmth and love of their family.