Return to Kazbek

Part Seven -- by Becky Ratliff

For centuries, the tradition had been that the captain of a ship was empowered to perform marriages. But that tradition hadn't become law until after the turn of the century, in the days before the development of the Eckerly drive, when the journey to the farthest outposts in the solar system could take two years, too long for couples to wait for official sanction. Glen Ross had performed a number of marriages among his crew.

Usually it was a couple of red-faced kids who had just got the news about the rabbit. Gone were the days when pregnancy had been a ticket home, and there was just as much pressure in the service as in civilian life for an expectant couple to marry.

Now and then, though, there were couples who wanted to be married aboard the Sara, because they wanted him to perform the marriage. That was the case with Nathan and Kylen, and it was one of the great joys of being captain of this ship. He checked the fit of his dress uniform and looked over the handbook containing the marriage ceremony to make certain he had the bookmark on the right page.

They'd asked to hold the ceremony in one of the observation bays, it was large enough to hold everyone ... and Ross couldn't imagine a more suitable place to conduct the marriage of a young Space Cavalry officer like Captain Nathan West, than surrounded by the stars he loved.

When he arrived at the observation bay, the people from hydroponics had worked their magic on it already. Chairs had been set up, and there were flowers at the end of every row, as well as around the podium and the little table with the wedding candle.

Some people from Comms were doing final sound checks, to make sure the families back in Maine would be able to hear clearly. He could see Kylen's dad on the screen, and a crowd of people in the room behind him. Hyperlight communication could lag seconds or days, but the gods of space travel were with them, and the lag now was only a few mikes. No one would notice that once the ceremony started. He heard the comms tech talking Kylen's dad through hooking up a VCR to the phone and making sure it was working right.

It had been one thing to decide not to marry, when he'd realized where his career was going. Glen Ross knew there were a hell of a lot of divorced Admirals. He had thought his many nieces and nephews would be enough. Knowing the pain that their divorce had brought Ty and Amy had left him gun-shy of a similar situation in his own life. But knowing now he would probably never escort his daughter up the aisle or watch his son take a bride, he wondered if that had been the right decision. Some marriages lasted. Some loves grew stronger because of the hardships and weathered all the storms. Ross was sure that the one they solemnized today was going to be one of those, the love between these two young people had already come safely through so much.


When McQueen came to pick up Kylen, Shane and Rosie were making last minute adjustments to her hair. Kylen and Rosie ducked into the head for a second to look for more bobby pins. Shane slicked back her own hair to make sure it would lie neatly under her cover. Their eyes met, and neither of them had to speak to know they were thinking the same thing. Every day was one day nearer their special day.

Rosie was Kylen's maid of honor. She was wearing a blue dress that belonged to Nita, Kylen had never seen her friend before in anything but jeans or a uniform. "You wait till the boys see you all dressed up! You look great!"

Rosie laughed. "If I ever do find Mr. Right, Kylen, you've got to promise me you'll be my matron of honor."

Kylen hugged her, careful not to mess up either of their clothes. "Of course I will, Rosie! It's always going to be you and me, we'll always be best friends."


Nathan opened the jewel box containing the ring. It was the only wedding ring they'd been able to find at the PX in Kylen's size, a plain gold band with a simple beaded edging on both sides. Inside someone had engraved "Forever". Well, it hadn't worked for the first guy, but it was going to now.

Cooper smoothed his gloves. "Now all I have to do with that is keep it until the Commodore asks for it, right?"

"Right. Don't lose it."

"I won't," he laughed. "I saw that in a movie. The best man couldn't find the ring!" Hawkes had a plan to deal with that, he'd put a piece of double-sided sticky tape inside his pocket and he was going to stick the ring to that, to make sure it stayed put until the ceremony.

"Yeah ... or someone actually stands up and says something when they ask if anyone knows why these people shouldn't get married," Nathan replied.

"If you ain't supposed to say anything, why do they ask it?"

"It's a tradition. To keep you from marrying your sister or something, way back before they had DNA tests."

"Hey, that can happen to us. IVs, I mean."

"Jesus, you don't think you and Christy--"

"No way, man, I already checked. We're only four percent similar and we don't share any bad recessives. She might start worrying if we really get serious, so I wanted to know for sure there wasn't gonna be a problem before anything like that happens."

"What percent do you have to be, before you're sibs? Fifty percent sounds right, but I don't know if I'm fifty percent similar to John. He's more like Mom and I'm more like Dad, that's all I really know."

"Legally it's forty, as far as being allowed to get married and stuff. But NBs who share one parent are legal sibs no matter what. Hey, Nate, they can't make your brother not be your brother because of that." Cooper took the ring and stuck it to the tape inside his pocket, that was going to work fine!


West and Hawkes waited as the first notes of the wedding march sounded. West tried not to let it show, but he'd gone into combat with less of a case of nerves than the one that had turned loose a whole flock of butterflies in his stomach right now.

Rosie came down the aisle first, she looked serene and elegant, nothing like the smart-alec hellraiser she usually was. A moment later, Nathan watched Kylen enter on McQueen's arm. She looked like a princess, with a crown of white flowers in her golden hair. He was used to seeing her in her colonial uniform, or school clothes ... where had this radiant lady come from so suddenly? He whispered, "God, she's so beautiful."

Cooper replied under his breath, "You're a lucky man, Nate. Congratulations."

When they reached the altar, McQueen stepped back to his place beside Judy Ellison and Mary O'Leary. Judy always looked completely different in her dress uniform, the exotically aristocratic Navy officer standing beside him was not the Crazy Judy he'd known for over a decade now. As far as that went, it was the first time he'd ever seen Mary O'Leary in anything but scrubs and a lab coat. Judy and Mary had come to the wedding to keep him company, neither of them really knew Nathan.

Nathan and Kylen's eyes never left each other as they spoke their vows, their hearts and souls poured into every word. Cooper had never really paid attention to the words of that promise before. But now he listened as his friend said, "I, Nathan, take thee, Kylen, to be my wedded wife, for richer, for poorer; for better, for worse; in sickness and in health; forsaking all others; to love, honor and cherish for as long as we both shall live." For the first time he realized how all-encompassing those vows were.

Ross asked for the ring, and Cooper got it out of his pocket -- and the tape came with it. Kylen noticed that and almost started to laugh. Cooper managed to catch the tape between two fingers and handed the ring over without any further confusion. The rest of the ceremony went along perfectly.

Nathan looked into the vidphone as they lit the wedding candle, their parents were standing together and he saw that they were holding lit candles as well. As he and Kylen touched their tapers to the wedding candle, he saw his father put his arm around his mother and they joined the flames of the candles they held, so that the two burned as one. Although millions of miles separated them physically, there was no distance between the hearts and souls of a family that welcomed a new daughter.

Nathan glanced at Kylen, her gaze was fixed just as intently on her father's face. He looked proud enough to bust every button on his shirt. Nathan made Matt Celina a promise with all his heart, to spend the rest of his life taking care of his daughter.

He escorted his new bride down the aisle to the triumphant strains of the recessional. The rest of the squadron formed the traditional arch of steel.

They stopped to talk to Kenny for a little while, he had been allowed to attend the ceremony in a wheelchair but he had to go directly back to sickbay after that. They cut the conversation short, for despite his enjoyment of the occasion, they could see that he was getting tired quickly. Lisa and Jimmy took him back, promising not to miss too much of the reception.

After that, while they posed for pictures, the chairs were cleared away and the food for the reception was brought in.

Between poses, Nathan looked down at Kylen and asked, "Doing okay?"

She giggled. "My shoes pinch a little, do you think anyone would notice if I sneaked them off?"

"I don't know, they might notice you lost a couple of inches. Where did you find heels?"

"They're Shane's."

"Now you mention, I remember. It's easy to forget most of the time how little she is."

"It isn't the height that counts," Kylen smiled.

Vansen and McQueen were standing near the wedding candle watching the photography session when a camera popped nearby. Vanessa had got a shot of the two of them together. She widened the frame to get Ross, Ellison and O'Leary in the next one.

The buffet table was opened, and the guests started to wander over there as the photographer finished up. Cooper called to them, Kylen wanted a picture of the whole squadron together.

The lights dimmed for the traditional first dance. Nathan walked over to Kylen and took her hand in his, led her out in the middle of the floor. The music they had chosen might not have been particularly original ... it had probably been played at every military wedding for the last eighty years. But as soon as the first chords sounded, it was forever their song.

"Who knows what tomorrow brings;
In a world, few hearts survive?
All I know is the way I feel;
When it's real, I keep it alive.
The road is long,
There are mountains in our way,
But we climb a step every day.

Love lifts us up where we belong...."

Kylen laid her cheek against his chest. "Remember that high school dance back in ninth grade?"

He remembered telling Cooper about it, and chuckled. "I remember."

"I was so tall and skinny."

"And I stepped on your feet. We made it anyhow, honey."

Her eyes filled with tears of joy, the last of her fears and doubts disappeared in the love she saw shining in his gray eyes. "Oh, no, this isn't any finish line. We're just starting."

"Love lifts us up where we belong,
Where the eagles cry on a mountain high,
Love lifts us up where we belong,
Far from the world we know; up where the clear winds

Other couples began to move out onto the floor. Vansen's eyes met McQueen's. She set her champagne glass on the table beside her. The formality of this dance brought back the memories of other times, in the shadows of some stolen place. She wondered at how the carefully choreographed decorum of joined gloved hands could evoke so well the passion of those dances, cheek to cheek and heart to heart. But she found that she did not want to waste a moment of the happiness that was theirs to take right here and now. It was hers to decide whether the glass was half full or half empty, and with most of her blessings right before her eyes here in this room to make the counting easy for her, that was an easy decision to make.

"Time goes by, no time to cry,
Life's you and I, alive, today.
Love lifts us up where we belong..."

Christy was chatting with Vanessa when Cooper joined them. Vanessa saw the conversation that passed between them, the little downcast glance that asked permission, the answering smile that granted it .... she had always thought of them as a couple of kids, but now she saw two strong young people standing firmly on their own two feet, facing a future limited only by their own dreams. Cooper leaned down to whisper something to Christy that made her laugh as they stepped out onto the floor.

Mark came up. "May I have this dance?"

It occurred to her that if she accepted she would be affirming to everyone who saw that she was Mark Miller's girl. She looked in his eyes for a long moment, then let him sweep her out onto the floor. She could definitely get used to old movies and music and so much more with this man.

"Some hang on to "used-to-be",
Live their lives looking behind.
All we have is here and now;
All our life, out there to find."

Glen Ross watched the dance, it wasn't every day you saw a princess marry her knight in shining armor. He hoped with all his heart for their happily ever after ... and he wondered at the courage of youth, that faced an uncertain future with a fearless gaze. They knew full well that this war wasn't over yet ... but they looked ahead with faith and undimmed hope to the day when it would be.

A rich, warm voice at his shoulder drew his attention. "Sir, may I have the honor?"

There was a smile in Mary O'Leary's emerald eyes, and he returned it. "I assure you, Doctor O'Leary, that the honor and the pleasure are all mine," he replied just as formally, and they joined in the dance.

After a time, the last notes of the music faded, and the room filled with a pleasant murmur as several quiet conversations began at once. The reception went on for another couple of hours, before Nathan and Kylen made their escape, just ahead of the rest of the 'Cards.

Nathan shut the hatch on the private cabin that was all theirs for the next sixteen hours. Their friends yelled and pounded on the hatch for five or ten mikes. After that, it opened briefly, just a crack and a slender hand poked out to slap a yellow sticky note on the outside ... then it slammed shut again and the lock shot home, to a duet of laughter from inside. The note, of course, said "Do Not Disturb." Shane wiped tears of laughter from her eyes and shepherded her little flock back towards the reception, where there was still music playing.


"For Steve, my own knight in shining armor. Your love turned this frog into a princess, and I cannot imagine a better happily-ever-after than the thirteen years we have shared.... --RMR"

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