11:58 am

Morde didn't know if it was customary for the groom to wear a wristwatch on his wedding day, let alone a bright blue Nixon, but given the circumstances in which his wedding day had come to fruition — instinctive, fearless, unapologetic circumstances — he didn't care. He needed that wristwatch. He needed it like his lungs needed oxygen. He needed it because, had he not been able to check it as he waited at the altar, eyes desperate for a distraction from the empty venue and the door through which he knew his bride would be entering, he wouldn't have been able to stand without swooning. He wouldn't have been able to breathe. He wouldn't have been able to make small talk with the officiant. In those pregnant moments preceding the start of the ceremony, his sanity depended on that wristwatch — and though it gave his ensemble an strange pop of color, he knew she wouldn't mind. As long as you wear the tie, she had said. You have to wear the tie. So, he had.

11:59 am

This was it. This was the day they had been talking about for what seemed like years, despite the fact that their relationship had spanned only three months and fifteen (fourteen) days. It hadn't been a long time, not by Morde's or — he suspected — anyone else's standards, but because there was no way of knowing how much he or she had left, because he had already been witness to one stolen future, he had decided to stop putting his faith in time. Morde didn't need time to assure himself of what he wanted or who he wanted it with. He didn't need time any more than he needed cake. He knew getting married was what he wanted. He knew she was who he wanted to get married to. He loved her. He didn't need time to tell him that. All he needed time for was to count down the moments standing between him and the sight of her in her white dress, to count the eighty billion butterflies that manifested in his stomach at the thought, to count how many times he could check his wristwatch in two minutes.

12:00 pm

"Checking that thing won't make her get here any faster, kid," said the officiant, whose name already escaped him. "You nervous?"

Morde nodded, breathing in oxygen, breathing out butterflies, feeling the weight of the bright blue timekeeper like it was made of lead. After checking it one last time, he slid it further up his arm, hiding it under his tuxedo sleeve. He knew that it would inevitably slide back to his wrist, gravity urging it downward as soon as he let his arm rest by his side, standing out against black wool, an unusual something blue, but he didn't mind. Alex wouldn't mind. They would both forget about it as soon as their eyes met. They were strangers to time when they were together. They always had been. He hoped they always would be.

-----

"If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be standing here with you today, I never would've believed them — not only because I wouldn't have been able to imagine myself doing something like this, but because until I met you, I didn't believe you existed. To me, you were a concept, beautiful but innately intangible. You were the idea that every love song ever written was built on. You were fiction. I never thought you could be found, let alone that I'd find you, but here we are, what feels like lifetimes later, and I am in awe of you.

"Standing here today, I know you're not a concept. I know I never could've made you up, never could've invented your perfections and imperfections, even in dreams, and you're beautiful for that. You're beautiful for being flawed, for being human, for being real. You are the truth that is stranger than fiction and I am so lucky to be the one who gets to marry you.

"As well as your husband, I promise to be your protector, your supporter, your confidant, and your best friend. I promise to stand by you in times of trouble and help you overcome obstacles, because as strong as we are apart, we're stronger when we're together. I promise to encourage you in all things and help you achieve your goals, because you deserve everything the world has to offer and you have everything to offer the world. I promise to listen without judgment, because your thoughts are as important to me as my own. I promise to keep your secrets. I promise to tell you mine. I promise to let you in, regardless of whether it's a good day or a bad day. I promise to make music for you and with you. I promise to work on my cooking skills, so I can bring you breakfast in bed without the sound of the smoke alarm waking you first. I promise to let you borrow my shirts and never give them back. I promise to let you feed peanut butter to the cat. I promise to hold your hand, no matter how dark or difficult things become. I promise everything I've ever promised that isn't written here. I promise to laugh with you, learn with you, and love with you — for now and for always, my whole life long."