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call me like a lighthouse to the sea

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Carl was going to get married to Annalisa. He had promised himself that much, he had promised he’d start living a respectable life. He’d marry Annalisa and they’d be happy together and he’d get sober and there would never be any problems ever again.

Instead of the happy, slightly 50’s sitcom-ish life he’d imagined would be waiting for him once he proposed, he wakes up with a hangover (not unusual) and a pile of band members sleeping on him (slightly more surprising).

There’s a ring on his finger, one that hadn’t been there before, and its sudden appearance causes a string of slightly unrelated memories to rush in. The one thing he does remember completely clearly is signing some documents and briefly kissing Didz, of all people, while someone tall (couldn’t have been Peter despite what Carl’s mind assumes on pure instinct) took a picture of them.

Carl gasps and sits up, knocking Anthony and Didz off him. Gary, a reasonable man at all times, had apparently fallen asleep on something more comfortable than Carl’s body.

He’s not panicking, he’s not, the odd feeling in his stomach must be something else. He’s not panicking because there’s no way he got married to someone else (to a man? to Didz?) on the night he was planning on proposing to Annalisa.

Carl spots a large envelope forgotten in some corner of the room among all the other rubbish littering the floor of Anthony’s flat and picks it up. It contains some official-looking documents, each of them apparently signed by Carl and Didz (or David Jonathan Hammond, which is apparently Didz’s real name and the most unlikely part of the situation).

Carl squeaks, legitimately squeaks, as he finds a blurry Polaroid tucked in the envelope. Anthony must have taken the picture, which explains Carl’s memory, but who had actually bought the camera was an entirely new mystery, Carl doesn’t remember any of them ever owning one. He lets the envelope fall from his hands, now shaking slightly, and starts kicking lightly Didz’s and Anthony’s sleeping forms.

“Guys, guys, lads, amigos,” he says as Didz starts stirring. “Did we accidentally get married at city hall?”

He wants to laugh, desperately wishes he could but the evidence is damning, there’s no way any of this is a joke.

“I think it’s technically a civil partnership?” Didz offers groggily, as if that would somehow make Carl feels better.

Carl’s ensuing scream wakes Anthony up as well. He gazes up at Carl with a sort of confusion mixed with panic.

“Honeymoon?” Carl forces himself to say, smiling. He refuses to let this minor bump in the road intervene with his plan of a respectable life. Didz can (probably, hopefully) be as good of a partner as Annalisa and Carl still gets the chance of playing the role of the devoted husband.

Didz just smiles as Carl pulls him up.

-

After breakfast (badly burned toast and the most sugary coffee in the entire universe thanks to Anthony), Carl decides to pay Annalisa a visit and explain the situation. They absolutely must break up, as Carl refuses to cheat on Didz even if Annalisa has been a perfectly charming girlfriend for a number of years.

Carl is starting to come to terms with his new predicament. He’s almost delighted with the idea, it feels like a new start, maybe much more than being married to Annalisa would have been.

“New year, new me,” Carl says as enters the flat.

“It’s June, you know,” Annalisa replies almost immediately, startling Carl. She’s in the hallway, clearly about to go out.

Carl waves his hand in a dismissive manner and goes straight to the bedroom, apparently momentarily forgetting what he’d home for. He promptly goes through the motions of packing, not saying another word until he notices Annalisa in the doorway.

“Thought you were going out?” he asks, surprised.

“Where are you going though?”

“Oh!” Carl says, sitting up quickly enough to make himself dimly dizzy.

“We have to break up, you know.”

He hugs Annalisa before she gets the chance to say anything and smiles sadly at her as he pulls away after a moment.

“I’m married to Didz, you see, and we’re going on our honeymoon tomorrow. I know it’s sudden but really it’s for the best! You’ll see, we’ll both be happier.”

Annalisa’s only response is to burst out laughing. Carl walks away in a huff and resumes packing.

“Oh, babe, that’s a really good one!” she says, still giggling. “Well I’ll see you later, I really do have to go now!”

Carl can’t quite believe she had thought he was joking, and to think he’d wanted to marry her a few days ago, to think he had trusted her. Maybe things had really turned out better this way.

Once he finishes packing for the honeymoon, he writes Annalisa a quick note saying how long he’d be gone and leaves. The flat is technically his but he decides Annalisa can keep living in it as long as she doesn’t mind being demoted to Carl’s room-mate.

He and Didz had decided to spend the night at Anthony’s, that way they were less likely to be horribly late for when their cruise left. A romantic cruise seems like the ideal honeymoon, a bit cliche maybe but not enough to deter Carl, especially as he’d manage to convince both Anthony and Gary to come with them, claiming they were an “integral part” of their marriage.

-

The cruise leaves at 7 AM sharp and besides a brief incident (utter humiliation for Gary) things go somewhat smoothly for at least twenty minutes, which is more than most things last when Dirty Pretty Things are involved. The incident involved Gary, a connoisseur of fashion, being faced with Anthony, Didz and Carl wearing near identical khaki shorts and Hawaiian shirts.

Anthony, Didz and Carl all end up sharing the same cabin, partly as punishment for their fashion crimes but mostly because Carl has a brief bout of paranoia where he can’t help wondering if Didz would expect something from him that night, such as holding hands while sleeping, and whether Anthony’s presence would prevent that.

-

Carl is delighted to find out he isn’t apparently inclined towards getting seasick, which is rather shocking considering his luck, and as such spends most of the day on deck, lounging in a deck chair and sipping from a cocktail while Didz and Anthony check out all the possible forms of entertainment on the ship.

It’s all terribly relaxing and at some point near sundown Carl realizes he had actually enjoyed himself for the better part of the day. The realization shakes him to the core and he goes to find his bandmates, maybe to share his startling revelation.

He only manages to find them during dinner and he immediately sits down next to Didz, making a show of snuggling with him as the evening turns out to be quite chilly.

That’s when he spots a particularly familiar silhouette in the distance.

“That’s John!” Carl practically shouts, evidently excited. “Come on, let’s talk to him!”

He drags the entire band to where John is currently (and peacefully) sitting with his girlfriend, Line. John’s expression is one of utter horror but Carl barely notices, or at least seems to think it’s the same look John always has around him.

“Hi, Carl,” John says, already tired.

“Hey! I’ve missed you so much.” Carl pauses and kisses John on both cheeks then shakes hands with Line. “This is Didz, my husband. Gary, our best man-”

“I know who Gary is.”

“And Stan! He’s part of this.”

John greets them and shares a certain look with Gary.

-

“Do you think we should get divorced at some point?” Didz asks that night as they’re getting ready for bed. It’s the first time he’s really acknowledged their situation.

“No! Why should we? I’m sure it won’t be a problem in the long run anyway,” Carl says because it’s easier than admitting he’s actually starting to enjoy himself.

Anthony suggests at least waiting ‘till their honeymoon is over to actually talk about that and Carl smiles contently. It’s not like married life is particularly different from normal life, so far at least.

-

The next day Carl resumes his newest hobbies of lounging around the deck, changing sunglasses every few hours and mispronouncing the name of drinks. The ship also offers a pool but Carl would rather save himself the embarrassment.

At some point he inadvertently focus his attention on John and Line, who seem perfectly happy being all couple-y. Carl sighs a few times until Didz, who had only joined him a few minutes ago, notices.

“What’s wrong?”

“Look at John and Line. They’re so happy. What about us?”

“What about us?” Didz seems decidedly confused.

“We used to be like that,” Carl says wistfully.

“We’ve been married two days.”

Carl sighs again. A moment later Didz gently takes his hand and a brief (and entirely confusing) rush of warmth and fondness startles him momentarily.

Things are, possibly for the very first time in Dirty Pretty Things history, going well.

-

They meet John again at dinner and he seems to actually make an effort to start a conversation, not just with Gary this time.

“So you’re married to Carl, huh?” he asks while Carl and Anthony are busy getting food.

“Uh, yeah. It wasn’t really planned, y'know but we’re happy,” Didz replies, a bit amused but that’s not entirely unusual for him.

“So you’re just going along with the whole thing?”

“Pretty much but if I have to spend every day with him I’d rather he was happy.”

John just nods and for whatever reason seems satisfied with Didz’s explanation.

-

That night Carl finds himself unable to sleep, still unaccustomed to going to bed before midnight. They don’t really have a choice though, there’s not an awful lot to do after nightfall and Gary might have had a point when he said they needed to get some rest at a reasonable hour at least once in a while.

After getting out of bed without waking up Anthony and Didz, Carl wonders on deck. A brief glance towards the dark water leaves him dimly anxious and once again, oddly wistful.

They’re in one of those rare spots where his phone has service and he finds himself calling Peter before he’s even got a chance to think about what he’s doing. It seems he’s always had a sick need to tell Peter everything.

“I’m married,” are the first words out of his mouth and Carl finds himself cringing at himself.

“Biggles?”

Peter voice hasn’t changed at all and Carl can’t quite understand why he thought it would. It’s the first time they’ve spoken in years and throwing himself overboard at this very moment almost seems like the preferable option.

“I…I thought you might want to know I’m married to Didz,” Carl forces himself to say.

Peter, on the other end of the line, just starts laughing.

“Starting off with a joke, huh?” Peter says just as Carl hangs up.

In the morning the whole thing feels like a dream.

-

Seven days on a cruise don’t turn out to be nearly as boring as they had imagined and once they’re back on shore, Carl is ready to have a very important conversation with Didz. Maybe he won’t have the suburban home (a fantasy oddly enough inspired by the neighbourhood in Edward Scissorhands) or the 50’s sitcom-life he had dreamed of when he’d thought of marrying Annalisa but he’s still ready to fight for his marriage (with Anthony’s support).

He doesn’t need to do a lot of fighting as he soon realizes Didz is just as content as he is in their current state. They decide not to divorce unless it ends up affecting their life in some way.

-

Years and years later, when Carl proposes to a certain Edie Langley and she accepts, the distinct feeling of having forgotten something follows him around the entire day.

It’s not until their wedding day that he realizes he forgot to mention one small detail and rushes to get a hold of Didz while simultaneously trying to find out how long getting a divorce usually takes.