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Major Beck was sitting on the front porch of the house with Heather, enjoying the sunset. Heather’s morale – hell, his morale – had improved greatly since they’d found the bastard, apparently in town as a spy. He’d taken several hours to die, and Kenchy hadn’t wasted any pain meds on him. Edward was sure that that was a violation of the Hippocratic oath in some way, but he didn’t very much care.

A giggle brought him back.

“The baby just kicked.”

“Yeah?” he asked. He reached over to feel her belly and was rewarded with another kick. “Oh my, we’ve got a soccer player in there.” He grinned at her, struck by the sudden urge to kiss her senseless. He settled for a kiss on the cheek. She looked at him oddly, sensing his restraint, and cocked her head to the side.

“When are you going to ask me to marry you?”

He burst out laughing.

“God, I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”

“Really?”

He ran a hand through her short hair.

“Yeah. I didn’t want to rush you, but I’ve been wanting to ask…”

“How long?”

“Since the day you were taken. I don’t ever want to lose you.” The unspoken again hovered in the air between them.

“So?” she said expectantly. He chuckled, and moved to kneel in front of her.

“Heather, will you marry me?”

“Of course. Now get up here and kiss me properly.” Her response got a few chuckles from the others on the front porch who had heard the whole thing.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

She kissed him back with an enthusiasm he hadn’t expected, despite her request. But she eventually broke off, breathing heavily, a huge smile on her face that mirrored his own. Then the applause started. Heather blushed, and tried to hide in his arms.

“Too late, Heather.” He whispered in her ear. “Hi, Reverend. Finishing up your rounds?”

Reverend Jones saw that?” Heather squeaked.

“Every bit.” The Reverend said. “And there’s nothing to be ashamed of, so relax.”

“But you’re –”

“Heather, I’m a reverend, not a prude. I’m not going to tell God that you need to go to hell for kissing.” He saw her hand move to her belly, now beginning to show. “Or even that. The formalities matter very little; it’s the commitment that matters, not the ceremony. It’s obvious you two love each other; you don’t need rings or a piece of paper. Of course, I’m happy to help you make it official.”

Edward looked at Heather, eyebrow raised.

“Now?”

“Why not? I have been waiting for a while.”

“I – can I at least invite the Greens?”

“Of course.” He gestured at a private, who ran over to the Green’s Pines house. Gail, Emily and Jake had all moved into Emily’s house to make it easier for Gail and Emily to assist with Heather; it was one block over from the military compound.

***

Her first request after he’d carried her over the threshold of their quarters was a kiss. He obliged, of course, carrying her over to the couch. The kiss evolved into a quite pleasant makeout session – until he started to lean her back on the couch, whereupon she stiffened in his arms.

“Sorry.” He said. “We don’t have to – ”

“I know. But it’s our wedding night, I thought I should give you something. And, honestly, I’d forgotten how much fun kissing was.”

“Tell you what. When all this is over – when you’re ready – we can renew our vows – full church wedding, fancy dress, three-tiered cake, open bar, the whole nine yards – and then I’ll take you on a proper honeymoon. Someplace with beaches, palm trees, hammocks…margaritas… sunblock…” I know just the place, too, assuming it’s still ours. His family’s beach house had been the location of many a honeymoon.

“Oh, I like the sound of that. Particularly the honeymoon.”

“I look forward to it.” He said, moving a stray hair. At the look on her face, he asked. “What is it?”

“I – I’m relieved, I guess.”

“Relieved?”

“That you still want me.”

He rocked back in his seat in shock.

“Wha- of course! I just married you! How could you think - ”

“Eddy, I know you love me.” She put as much conviction into it as she could. “But you’re human – and I’ve seen the way you look at my scars. I –”

“Heather, your scars don’t make you ugly or ‘undesirable’. And that would be an extremely hypocritical position for me to take.”

“Then what is it?”

“They remind me of things I didn’t prevent. Things I damn well should have prevented.” He gently traced one of her scars, slowly fading from pink to white. “They remind me of how I failed you.”

Heather felt a large lump in her throat.

“Eddy – ” she wrapped her arms around him. “You didn’t fail me. You’ve been here for me. You’ve done more than I could ever ask, more than I could ever repay.”

“But – ”

“Eddy, I was the one who refused a sentry on the door. I was the one who opened the door when I shouldn’t have. Don’t you dare go blaming yourself for this.”

“I should have put a sentry on the door anyway. I let my feelings for you cloud my professional judgment.”

“All that proves is that you love me, you fool. Now stop beating yourself up over things you didn’t cause.”

“But – ”

“Eddy.” Her voice was suddenly firm, and she looked him right in the eyes. “Stop. You didn’t cause this. You took steps to prevent it. It happened anyway, when I disobeyed protocol. It is not your fault.” She held his gaze until he nodded. It wasn’t  outright acceptance of her statement, but it was in the right direction. “Better.” She said softly. “Now how about a nice game of scrabble?

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nativefloridian
nativefloridian

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