At Last

Part 1

By: Girl Bard

Disclaimer: I don't own Xena or Gabrielle. But Jaden and Grace are mine.

Subtext: Yes. J

Summary: This is fifth story in the "Jaden and Grace series." I highly recommend reading I Know This Bar and the following three stories before starting this one. They can all be found on the Academy's wonderful site.

Author's Note: As I seemed to have gotten in the habit of naming stories after songs important to me, I will not break tradition. This is inspired by Etta James.

Feedback: Pretty please with a cherry on top.

Dedication: My beta readers and fans are a constant source of support and encouragement. I appreciate all your time and effort!!! I also thank my girlfriend for just being herself. I'd still be living in crappy Ohio if it weren't for you.

February 10, 2001

Why can't anything be easy? I mean seriously, shouldn't there be a law about the number of things that can go wrong within a few hours?

The wedding is tomorrow. While Jaden and I planned to wed on Valentine's Day, it fell on a Wednesday this year. So we felt the eleventh of February, a Sunday, would be a better choice.

But the way things are going, the extra few days might have helped.

I'm making a big deal out of it, I know. Nothing is really that bad, sure, we've had a few minor mishaps, but that happens in all weddings. Everything will work itself out. So what if the dj just cancelled on us due to the flu and the flower order is totally messed up. No big deal, right?

Right. I've just got to calm down.

I take several deep breaths, feeling my bits of nervousness slowly fade.

"Grace?" Kim calls as she lets herself into my apartment.

"Help." I respond, only partially joking.

"What's up? I just saw Jaden pull out of the driveway like a bat out of hell." Kim questions as she flops down onto the couch next to me.

"The florist just called to let us know our flowers will be delivered tomorrow morning to Hammond." I tell her warily, my hand reaching up to rub my temples.

"And that's bad new how?" She answers.

"They're delivering the wrong flowers." I say and Kim's hazel eyes brighten in surprise. "It seems they messed up our order. Instead of lilacs and lilies, we are getting ivy and some other flower."

"Oh." Kim's round mouth forms the word perfectly. "Crappy."

"Yeah. So Jaden went to talk to them in person. She thought it would help the situation." I pause and close my eyes briefly. "I had to force her to leave her gun behind."

Kim chuckles. "Good thing." She puts a comforting arm around my shoulder. "Look at it this way, ivy is pretty cool. Not as cool as lilacs and lilies, but ivy kind of fits with the whole castle thing, right?" I think briefly before smiling. "Good point. No wonder you're my best friend." I tell her honestly and am rewarded by a bright smile.

"Likewise. Now, get out of your funk. I have last minute maid-of-honor duties to go over with you and I think I've solved your sick dj problem."

My spirits raised, I join Kim at the kitchen table. She has been instrumental in helping Jaden and I prepare for our ceremony and I couldn't have done it without her.

Spots and I thought long and hard for several days about where to hold the wedding. She was adamant against having it in a reception hall and I didn't really want to make it into a church affair, so we decided on a restaurant, although neither of us were fond of that idea. It just didn't seem right.

In a fit of despair, I phoned Kim who immediately suggested Hammond Castle in Gloucester. In the mid 1900's, a millionaire who salvaged different parts of castles put them together to build Hammond. Jaden and I actually visited there this summer and the place is incredible, with almost a 360-degree view of the ocean. It feels like a medieval castle and it has beautiful gardens as well as a completely furnished interior.

Somehow, beyond chance, it was free for the date we wanted. I almost had a coronary when I saw the price to rent it for the day, but Jaden didn't even balk.

I'm trying the best I can to keep all other costs at a minimum, which isn't difficult because one of Joe's cousins owns a catering business. We are getting a wonderful discount, and we really are only inviting our closest family and friends.

It's still a pretty pricey affair, and I planned on taking out a loan to pay for it. Jaden wouldn't allow it and has been paying everything up front. I have no idea how she is doing it, mounted officers really don't make that much. She just keeps telling me not to worry about it because she has been given a lot by her grandmother.

Understanding the entire thing is a sensitive issue for her, I'm trying not to press. But it's frustrating because I don't want her to feel like I'm mooching off her.

"So, I figured that we'll just give Derek full freedom with the music during the reception. I've already told him what not to play, and he's pretty excited to be doing this. He'll take requests and everything." Kim says, checking the music line off her to-do list.

"That's great. Thanks so much for telling us about him." I tell her honestly. Kim has just saved the reception by finding a local dj, actually a student that attends Pressman with us and is in the psychology department. He's a really nice guy who has more tattoos than anyone I've ever seen.

Kim snorts. "Please, he was foaming at the mouth when I told him about you guys. He gets to go to a lesbian wedding and it looks good on his music career resume." She scans her list. "Okay, I have the final table settings and I think they all should work. Everyone coming likes each other anyway, right?" "Right." I answer. "I don't think it matters, this is going to be really informal."

"Yep." Kim responds. She looks at me, indecision written on her face. "Did you hear from your mom?" "Which one?" I joke warily. "You know Laura and her family are coming. I haven't heard from Debbie or my father. I doubt they'll be here."

"I'm sorry." Kim tells me honestly. "They are assholes."

"I know." I sigh. "But it still hurts."

"Lydia will be here though, right?" Kim asks and I brighten.

"Yeah, my uncle is bringing her. They are flying up for the day."

Kim ticks off the reception guest list on her fingers. "So we have your uncle, Lydia, Sam and Eva, Steele and my sister, Stacey, Joe and Diana, Kasey, Jaden's shrink, her husband and baby, your shrink and her girlfriend, my mom and stepfather, your family from Chicago, the family that owns the barn, Jaden's friends from the mounted patrol, and your downstairs neighbors. Am I forgetting anyone?" She questions.

I think for a minute. "Probably. But my mind is cluttered at the moment. Where's the guest list?"

She searches through her stacks of papers. "In here somewhere."

"Don't worry about it, we've gone over it a hundred times and everyone has RSVP'd except Debbie and my father." I mention, my eyes downcast.

"It's okay. Just think of your honeymoon!" Kim reminds me and I smile brightly.

"I can't wait! It's going to be so much fun, and it's exactly what we want. No singular destination, just a good old road trip." I can't wait for Jaden and I to leave. We plan on leaving right after the ceremony and reception tomorrow and driving up to Vermont. "Thank you guys so much for staying here and taking care of the dogs. We'll bring you back something really nice." I smile at Kim.

"No problem. It gets Stace and I away from the dorm for a week. It will be heaven." She answers, looking down at her list once more. "That's all I have. Let's get out of here and go get coffee. I'm sure Jaden will need it when she gets back."

"Okay." I agree hurriedly, my mind eager to focus on something else tomorrow.

Sunday, February 11, 2001

Pressing the cool washcloth to my forehead, I will my stomach to settle down.

"Jaden?" Diana's voice calls from outside the bathroom.

"I'm coming." I tell her, my voice unusually weak and strained.

"We're ready to leave." She says and I use all of my strength to stand upright and stop shaking. I splash my face with cold water and dry it with a soft towel.

"Okay, let's get this show on the road." I tell her, trying to put some enthusiasm and bravado into my voice.

It really doesn't work.

Di looks at me curiously. "You okay? You look kind of green."

"I'm fine." I snap, my eyes pleading with her not to make a big deal out of this.

"Good." She responds, winking at me. I know it should make me laugh, but it freaks me out more. If she knows how nervous I am, then Grace will too, and it will in turn make Grace nervous.

Hell, I'm not afraid to pledge my eternal love for her, I'm afraid of being the center of attention in front of everyone I care about. It's just not my style.

"Relax." Diana's voice grounds me as we leave the apartment. "No one's going to be looking at you. Have you seen Grace's dress?"

I shake my head, a smile forming on my lips. "She wouldn't let me. But she did tell me it was purple."

"Ha!" Diana responds. "Purple my ass. You're in for a surprise, my friend." We get into my Explorer, which is stocked with goodies and our suitcases for our adventure later tonight.

The drive to Hammond is short, the castle looking like something out of a storybook covered in snow. We had a killer snowstorm last weekend that left inches of white, fluffy snow on everything in sight. It is still clinging to all the branches of the trees and the roof and turrets of the impressive structure.

"Great day for pictures." Diana comments and I shake my head in agreement. Stacey will be doing the photography, and I know she's been here all morning scooping out the best locations for our pictures after the ceremony.

I park the car, feeling relieved as I see Kim's Honda in the driveway along with several other vehicles. At least I know that Grace is here and she's okay. I haven't seen her since early this morning, when Kim whisked her off to have her hair and makeup done.

"I've already been here, everything's set up nicely. The flowers are all in order, thanks to you, I've been told by Grace. What did you do, threaten their lives?" Diana asks, her round face curled into a smile.

"Basically." I respond, my guts in a knot again.

"Well, good job. They're gorgeous. And the caterer is all set up in the dining hall, the cake is here, everything is okay. Just calm down, hell, you're more nervous than I was when I married Joe." She kids.

"How's Kasey?" I ask, wanting to be distracted. Our feet crunch through the snow as we make our way into the castle.

"Excited as anything. She already has her dress on and she looks great." Diana responds, the love for her child evident in her sparkling brown eyes.

"And Kasey #2?" I ask, motioning to her growing belly.

"Getting big." She tells me, rolling her eyes. "And from the activity level, he is going to be another Kasey. Lord help us all!" Di adds.

"He? Did you guys find out what it is?" I question, knowing they wanted to wait.

"No. I just have a feeling. Everyone thinks it will be a girl, but not me." Diana says knowingly.

"Well, it's not much longer until we find out." I answer, smiling.

"Yeah, don't remind me. Now that Joe's stupid casts are off he can finish painting the nursery." She comments and I laugh.

I hold the door open for her as we enter through the massive wooden doors. The grand foyer is filled with flowers and soft music fills our ears.

"Wow, this is great!" I say, looking around. Grace will be so thrilled; this is just how we pictured it.

"Check this out." Diana orders, leading me into the front hall where the ceremony will be held.

Padded chairs have been arranged in a semi-circle around a wooden platform covered with thick carpets that run down the center aisle into the back entrance. Candle-filled wall sconces and candelabras give light to the quiet space. Flowers accent the room, and large stained-glass windows fill the entire space with colored light.

"It's beautiful." I breathe, smiling.

The knots in my stomach slowly untie themselves, replaced by the anxious feeling of anticipation.


"Are we ready?" Kim asks, taking a deep breath. I nod my head in response, my hands feeling clammy.

"You look amazing!" She offers, smiling. "Although, I think we have this a bit backward. Aren't you supposed to wear white?"

I grin at her, thankful for her calming presence. I stand back and study her lovely, pearl-colored gown, complete with buttoned gloves.

"I don't know, it looks better on you I think. Virginal, you know?" I kid and she laughs.

"Yeah, that's me." She comments, her curly blonde hair already pulling free from its clasp. "Christ, let me fix my hair once more. It's driving me nuts." She retreats to the bathroom as I study my reflection in the mirror.

I notice my hands shaking as I hold my beautiful bouquet of bright purple lilacs crowned by one giant lily. Whatever Jaden threatened the florist with, it sure worked.

Jaden and I decided we didn't want to make this into a wedding. Sure, I wanted a ceremony in the traditional sense, with a cake and walking up the aisle and everything, but since our commitment isn't yet legally recognized, Jaden wanted to make it our own ceremony.

So instead of a traditional wedding gown, I found this amazing iridescent lavender and cream dress that I really can't describe. It's just beautiful, with a tight top and a huge bustle and train. Kim and I found it at Filenes's basement in Boston and it just happened to be in my size.

It was easy to find a dress for her that matched; we really had fun that day.

I begged Jaden to wear a dress. Well, I didn't beg her, but I tried to persuade her. She relented and said if I really wanted her to she would, but I didn't want to force her into anything. So she decided on a beautifully tailored, almost racy cream pantsuit.

I saw her in it and it made me drool. It's just like that outfit Angelina Jolie wore to the Oscars or Golden Globes a few years back. Incredible. Somehow, it showcases all the wonders of Jaden's body and once I saw her in it all thoughts of her wearing a dress vanished.

Steele is standing up for her, and he has a snazzy tux with a lavender cummerbund. He looks good in purple.

"Okay, now we're ready." Kim tells me, fresh from the bathroom, her unruly hair pulled up once again.

I close my eyes briefly, praying to whatever deities exist to let this go smoothly.

Opening my eyes, I nod at Kim as we make our way to the aisle.


Steele walks down the plush aisle in front of me, smiling at the crowd like he's a male model. I can't help but smile as he winks at Kim's sister Val before taking his position on the platform.

He's such a show-off.

Now it's my turn. I feel my entire body start to shake, but I will my feet to move anyway, the unfamiliar sensation of walking in strappy heels making my knees wobble with fright.

I try to calm down, allowing the lilting sounds of Pachabel's Cannon carry me to the front of the crowd. I can't really look at the audience; I'm afraid I'll see Diana and start laughing or something just out of plain nervousness.

As I take my place up front next to Steele he gives me a reassuring smile. This smile turns into a full grin as Kasey begins her walk up the aisle.

She looks great, dressed in a dark lavender dress and holding a big basket of flowers. Instead of gently dropping them like we've rehearsed a thousand times, she is giving them to everyone in the audience. They, of course, are all chuckling at her, which just encourages her to do it more.

When she reaches her father, Joe softly whispers something in her ear that causes her to frown, a pout on her lips as she now drops the flowers onto the aisle like she is supposed too.

Kasey reaches Steele and I and giggles, turning around to curtsey in front of the crowd. They laugh and applaud her and I think the kid will die with happiness.

I swear she will be onstage accepting an Academy Award someday. Steele takes her hand and my attention is diverted to Kim, who is slowly walking up the aisle.

She looks really nice, and I grin at her as she makes her way and stands across from Steele.

I whip my head back around, hearing the crowd 'ohh' when the see Grace. A huge smile graces my face as I see my beloved determinedly walk toward me.

Gracie looks incredible, and Diana was right. Her dress is gorgeous and sexy and perfect, but I can't take my eyes off her face. She is looking right at me, the hugest grin formed by her soft lips and her eyes speak of happiness.

It is the most gorgeous sight and I don't think I will ever forget it.

I am only vaguely conscious of Stacey snapping pictures as Grace joins me on the platform and hands her flowers to Kim before linking her hands in mine.

Diana, standing behind our joined hands, pauses to beam at each of us before speaking.

"Today is truly a blessed day, as we gather to support Jaden and Grace in their future together. We thank you all for coming and bringing your good faith."

Winking slightly at me, she continues. "I have known Jaden for many years. While she is not the easiest or rational person to be around, I have found her to be a true and honest person." The crowd titters at Diana's words and I mockingly glare at her.

"Having Jaden in your life is like holding a firefly, bright and wild, but fragile. I trust that Grace can hold Jaden as gently as possible without extinguishing her light." Diana pauses again and my throat becomes tight at her words.

I look into Grace's eyes; they are deep green, filled with unspeakable emotion.

"Grace, while I have only known you a short time, I know you as a true and good soul. You are the bright ray of light we all strive to be. I trust that Jaden will feel the warmth of Grace's light and allow it to surround her always."

Diana clasps our entwined hands. "I have no power, I am not a member of any religious practice, and I am not certified to legally marry anyone. But I do know true love when I see it. And I have been blessed to witness the most pure form of love between the two of you."

She smiles at the two of us, her brown eyes wet with unshed tears. "What you share is stronger than any of us. Revel in it and never lose sight of each other." Clearing her throat softly, she adds, "Grace has a few words."

I quirk my eyebrows, unaware that she had anything planned.

"Jaden," Gracie begins, her voice soft and small, "All my life I lived in fear of the future planned out for me. Now, I can't wait for what the future will bring to us. Thank you for making the simple act of waking in the morning something to look forward to. I will never be able to show you how much I truly love you."

Tears spill down her fair cheeks, her green eyes so full. "I offer you all that I am and I treasure all that you are. You are my soulmate and where you go, I go."

I smile, knowing my eyes are mirroring hers and allow the tears to fall freely down my face. I need to say something; I just don't know what to say. My mouth opens, and words just start spilling out.

"Before I met you, I didn't know what life was. I was living by rote, not taking any time to feel or think. You changed everything for me, Gracie, and for the better. I can't think of life without you and I need you by my side always. I love you. That's all I know to say and I hope it's enough. I love you." I tell her, almost urgently.

She grins, her pink lips quirking. "It's enough."

The crowd laughs softly and I hold her hands tight in mine.

"The fates have allowed you to find each other. Live in happiness for eternity." Diana finishes. "Kiss and solidify your union."

Now that, I can do. I lean forward and gently cup Grace's face in my hands. Our kiss is simple and tender, filled with years of promise. Her lips are soft in mine and I feel myself getting lost in the sensation of this ultimate perfection. I love her with such intensity that it almost scares me.

Everyone is clapping and cheering as we finally break apart, our hands still clasped. We make our way down the aisle, our eyes locked on each other until we exit to the back private room.

It is then the emotion of what just happened hits me and I feel my knees buckle. Grace catches me in a surprisingly strong grip for someone so small and I manage to stand upright.

"You okay Spots?" She questions and I kiss her in response.

"Never better." I answer in between kisses. "You look gorgeous."

"So do you." She tells me, breathless, as she strokes my long hair. "I can't believe what this suit does to me. You're never taking it off." Gracie says and I laugh low in my throat.

"Really? Bummer of a honeymoon." I respond and she giggles.

"And you left your hair down, Goddess, do you know what that did to me when I saw you? I wanted to ravish you right there in front of everyone."

"That would have really made everyone uncomfortable, huh? Including your father." I tell her, waiting for her reaction.

"My father?" She says, her hands flying up to her mouth. "He's here?"

I nod. "I saw him in the audience, sitting with Rick and your sister. I take it you didn't know?" She shakes her head. "I had no idea he'd be here. What about my mother?"

I lower my eyes. "I didn't see her."

Grace's lower lip trembles. "Well, at least he came." She shakes her head slightly, as if to clear the thought away.

"Are you okay?" I ask, pulling her close to me.

"Sorry, it was just a shock." She mutters.

"You don't have to be sorry for anything." I tell her, kissing the top of her head. Her hair looks pretty cute, the stylist put tiny flowers in the front, making her look even more pixie-like.

"Well, we have a reception to go to, right?" She says bravely and I squeeze her hand.

"Yep." I respond. "Or we can just blow this place and get onto the honeymoon part." I grin at her, seeing her blush in return.

"Let's save that for later Spots. Besides, I want to look at you in that outfit some more." Grace tells me as she leads me toward the great hall of the castle.

I sigh dramatically. "You just married me for my good looks."

She just laughs.


I sink back into the passenger seat of the Explorer wearily and close my eyes.

"That was so much fun." I say, my voice tired.

"Yes it was." Jaden responds honestly. "I can't remember when I've had more fun."

"Well, I can decidedly say that our ceremony was a huge hit." I tell her. "I mean, it was funny enough when Kasey was the one that caught the bouquet, but it was even funnier when she then ran around asking everyone to marry her."

"They are going to have trouble with her." Jaden says jokingly. "And to have another on the way nonetheless."

"Doesn't Di look gorgeous? She's so beautiful anyway, not to mention pregnant." I answer, my tone almost wistful.

Jaden looks at me as she makes her way down the long hill headed away from the castle. "Jeez, we just got married and you want me to knock you up already?" She grins to let me know she's kidding.

I laugh, my hand finding hers in the dark. "No, not yet. I really want to have a career first and everything. But I can't say the image of having a child with you isn't really appealing."

"Yeah." Jaden agrees firmly. She glances at the clock and squeezes my hand. "We should make it to the inn within a few hours."

"Good." I tell her, eager to feel her body next to mine.

"Did you see Steele and Val dancing? They looked pretty happy, huh?" Jaden comments and I snicker. "What?" She questions.

"You are such a little match maker, that's all. Besides, I have the inside scoop from Kim and yes, they are pretty happy." I tell her.

"Oh! Tell me, I want details." Jaden begs, sounding like a five year old.

"Nope." I say simply. "Let them have their privacy."

"Come on!" She pleads and I have to relent. She's just so darn cute.

"Fine. They talk all the time, and Val told Kim that she could be falling for him." I answer. "That's all your getting."

"Hrumph. I can get more dirt out of Steele." She says before changing the subject. "Your father was okay, huh? He didn't seem too weirded out."

"I was really glad he came, although it made me nervous to have him and Laura in the same room. I didn't think he expected her to be there, but Uncle Rick said he had already filled him in that Laura and I had met." I tell Jaden, still having mixed feelings about my father's presence. I'm thrilled that he came, but I guess I expected him to be a different person. Instead, he was very much the way he normally is, quiet and withdrawn. He did hug me awkwardly and tell me that he didn't want to miss his little girl getting married, even if it wasn't how he envisioned.

At least he wasn't rude to Jaden, not exactly friendly, but not rude.

"I'm glad Laura and her family could attend. They are really nice." Jaden mentions and I agree.

"I know how expensive it was for them to come out here, and for that I am so thankful. I can't believe they drove the entire way. That's a long trip for a van filled with seven people." I laugh.

"Well, they took their time and stopped along the way, kind of made a family vacation out of it. Besides, do you really think Laura wanted to miss this day? She was crying during the entire ceremony." Jaden adds.

"Really?" I question, surprised for some reason. "Well, everyone had a good time. The food was great, the dancing was great, and I'll never forget dancing to 'At Last' with you." "You won't have to. Stacey was taking pictures the entire time." Jaden says matter-of-factly.

"I can't wait to get them back and hang them all over the apartment."

She grins, her white teeth visible in the dark. "You look pretty good in that dress."

I pluck at the delicate fabric. "This old thing?"

Our laughter carries us down the road to our future.


Part 2: Coming soon! I think feedback is cool. I think fanfic readers are cool. Won't you be doubly cool and drop me an email at: ?

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