"Mike!" Sam sounds panicked, and he can hear cars bustling by on the other end of the phone.
"Okay, tell me what's going on. Where are you?"
"I'll text the address. Just get here fast."
"Should I bring Fi?"
"No! Just get here."
A second later an address is on his phone, and he's sprinting to the car, while tucking a gun under his belt. He doesn't know the address, but the GPS takes care of that. It's non-descript part of town, a mix of shops and small businesses. Sam and Jesse aren't even supposed to be on a job right now. The wedding is tomorrow. They're supposed to be out with Sean tonight.
What the hell could be happening? God, did someone recognize Sean? He's on half a dozen government watch lists.
He's driving like a maniac, white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. He skids to a stop in front of Jesse, Sam, and Sean, and they're all grinning at him like dopes.
He pries his fingers off the steering wheel, forcing his heart to stop pounding, recognizing that this cannot be bad.
"So, what's this emergency?" he says through gritted teeth as he gets out of the Charger.
Jesse grins even wider. "Can't have a bachelor party without the groom."
"Come on, Mikey, it's not like we can let you get married tomorrow without a proper send off."
"Let him breathe, lads. He's just had a bit of a scare. He made it here in nine minutes; that's some awfully fast drivin'."
It occurs to him that as he was sprinting out of the house, Fi didn't ask him any questions or offer back up.
"Fi knows about this?"
Sam smiles again. "Of course. And I don't even want to think about what she's doing with your mom tonight. Our instructions were to show you a good time, and make sure you got to the wedding on time and fairly sober tomorrow."
Sam hands him a beer, seemingly conjured from nowhere.
Sean looks down the street and sees headlights coming toward them. "And the drunken debauchery begins."
A limo stops in front of them. Sean opens the door and Sam and Jesse shove Mike, shaking his head, inside.
The dress actually was white. But Fi likes white dresses, so the fact she'd pick one for her wedding wasn't exactly a shock to anyone involved.
The suit wasn't black. Michael doesn't have a black suit anymore, and his charcoal one was last worn to Nate's funeral. Michael didn't want to put on his charcoal suit, either. It reminded him of funerals, and this wasn't a funeral sort of day. So the groom wore dove gray.
He's surprised by how much he misses Nate today. When he found out Nate was married, he hadn't felt any sense of loss from not being there for that. Mostly he'd just felt a sense of exasperation that Nate had made yet another bad choice.
But today he feels the lack of Nate very sharply, and the sense that he should be here, with Sam and Jesse, has a powerful grounding effect.
Michael's not nervous. This is the right thing, at the right time, and so no, there are no jitters, no sense of a door slamming shut on something, or a desire to flee. There's calm, and joy, and anticipation, because he is looking forward to seeing Fi, and sorrow, because there should be another man standing next to him, a man who will never be here again, and that loss can't be glossed over.
He guesses that means today is a fitting microcosm of all of life. Joy, pain, excitement, and as he stands there waiting, a bit of boredom. He guesses that's appropriate for a rite designed to celebrate two lives becoming one.
They weren't actually in the church, though they are in the garden behind it. He waits underneath the trees, sunlight dappling about and a warm breeze whispering through the flowers. Sam and Jesse are with him, and a tiny collection of friends sit on a few stone benches beside them. Michael thinks about all the ways this could have happened, and decides that here, with a few of their friends, and the family they've built since coming to Miami, is exactly how it should be.
Fiona walks in with his mom and her brother escorting her, and the half-dozen friends stand up for her. He thinks about how beautiful she is. How the dress seems to slip and shift along luscious curves, and her hair cascades down her shoulders and back. It's not a terribly original thought for a groom, but it's deeply sincere.
He thinks about how, though he was engaged before, that Fi is the only woman he ever imagined standing in front of a priest saying the, 'Til death do us part,' to.
Fi joins him, holds his hands, and the priest begins to speak.
They didn't write their own vows, because what words could possibly hold up to the actions of their past? They are bound by death, blood, fire, love, and now, a new life. That's all there, and always will be, and no words can sum that up, tie it in a tidy bow, or give it completion or meaning.
So Michael parrots the priest's words; words worn old by thousands of repetitions, and made new by the addition of his voice and Fi's. He slips the ring on her finger as she does his, motions, like the words, older than either of them, yet new because this is the first, only, time either of them has done it. And the kiss that follows is not new, even if it is their first kiss as husband and wife, but it is tender, and filled with history and respect, and love, and a promise of a future that will go on for as long as both of them draw breath.
Fi and Mike are dancing. So are Sam and Elsa. Ricky's dancing with his wife. Even Barry has a girlfriend.
Jesse's at the bar, a scotch neat in front of him, and no girl anywhere nearby.
Sean Glenanne sits next to him. "You look like a man who could use a drink."
Jesse holds up his still three quarters filled glass.
"Not a drink then. So, what's wrong?"
"Trying to remember what," he gestures with his glass to Mike and Fi, and the way Mike has one hand cupped around Fi's face, the other on her belly, as they sway to the music, "that felt like."
"Been a while since you've had a girlfriend?"
"That's putting it mildly. I had a friend I was working with, thinking I might ask her out, but she got re-assigned and shot that to hell."
"Reassigned? You can travel, what's the problem?"
"That's a problem."
"Yeah. What about you? A Mrs. Glenanne at home?"
"Only my mum. This line of work, not too many women around."
"I get that. We used to joke about women in CIFA being ghosts, sure everyone knows someone who's seen one, but they're never around."
"Where I'm from, the women almost never get involved. Mostly they stay on the edges, providing some support and blind eyes when needed. I wonder sometimes, what would have happened to Fi if Claire had lived. I wonder if she would have ended up like my mum and all the other IRA girlfriends, married at seventeen or twenty, with a pile of kids by the time they hit middle age."
"I have a hard time imagining Fi like that."
"Now-a-days, I do, too. But before, she was our Fiona, and it was our job to keep the footballers and hooligans away."
Sean shook his head. "Pat and I met this bloke at a bar. He was from Kilkenny and had a rep for safe cracking and demolition. We took him to meet her, because she was better than either of us at that, and she'd tell us if he was as good as he said he was."
"Apparently. Sixteen years later, he's my brother-in-law."
"Does that mean you failed or succeeded when it came to looking out for your sister?"
Sean smiles. "Buggered if I know. They look happy, don't they?"
"Yeah, they do."